Thursday, 16 March 2017

Awards and Remembrance

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On Monday, a huge press of people gathered in St John's, Smith Square to celebrate and say farewell to Carole Blake. The memorial service had been organised to perfection by her colleagues at Blake Friedmann Agency and was both achingly sad and very beautiful at the same time. I didn't realise it was possible to laugh with tears in my eyes for that long.

I miss Carole every day, but it was a fitting occasion and - as was said by many people - she's still with us, pushing us on. And she would SO have approved of the drinks.




RoNAs reception in the Reading and Writing Room
From one celebration to another - in true Carole fashion - a lot of us then took a brisk twenty-minute walk up the road to One Whitehall Place for the Romantic Novel of the Year awards.




Awards presentation in the Gladstone Library
It was another well-organised event, full of writers talking books, glammed up for our special day.






I cleverly managed not to take a usable photo of the displays of shortlisted books for the various categories, but this is the Paranormal/Speculative Fiction shortlisted group (taken by the mega-talented and very patient Marte of MLR_Photos). I am delighted beyond measure that our award went to my pal Kate Johnson for MAX SEVENTEEN, especially as I nagged her into publishing the book in the first place.

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Christina Courtenay, Jan Jones, Kate Johnson, Hywela Lyn


Other category winners were Janet Gover LITTLE GIRL LOST (Epic), Penny Parkes OUT OF PRACTICE (Romantic Comedy), Kate Kerrigan IT WAS ONLY EVER YOU (Historical), Debbie Johnson SUMMER AT THE COMFORT FOOD CAFE (Contemporary), Scarlet Wilson CHRISTMAS IN THE BOSS'S CASTLE (RoNA Rose). The supreme Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year award went to the Young Adult category winner, Sophia Bennett for LOVE SONG.



Wednesday, 1 March 2017

RoNA Giveaways!

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I'm still excited about An Ordinary Gift being shortlisted for the 2017 RoNAs, and even more so when I look at the other terrific books on the various shortlists. So much so that a group of us have got together to offer free extracts.

If you go to Rhoda Baxter's web page, you will find brief details of a number of shortlisted books across the different categories. Click on the links and those nice people at Instafreebie will deliver the extracts to your inbox. Hopefully, you will find some new favourite authors to enjoy.

So, thank you to Rhoda and to everyone else... Happy reading!
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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Shortlisted!

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Lovely news today - AN ORDINARY GIFT has been shortlisted for the inaugural Paranormal/Speculative Romance RoNA award.

This is the book set in Ely, featuring ghostly singing boys in the attic - amongst other unexplained occurrences.

It was originally a serial in Woman's Weekly, then I rewrote it and added extra threads to reinvent it as a short novel.

It is also out in Large Print this month, so do order it from your local library if you prefer the feel of a physical book as opposed to reading on a Kindle.

The RoNA winners will be announced on March 13th. The full set of shortlists are here.

I have LOTS of friends on the lists, so it promises to be a smashing evening.
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Monday, 9 January 2017

One Year On

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Just over a year ago I had written a complicated five-part serial for Woman's Weekly with 70s flashbacks and featuring David Bowie. It was accepted, scheduled for publication and I then rewrote it to the length of a short novel ready to publish on kindle when the contractual period allowed me to do so.

And then... and then the news broke that David Bowie had died.

I was so shocked. So, so shocked. It had never occurred to me that his creativity would one day not be there. I would have felt bereft anyhow, but I had just been intensively immersed in those growing-up years when his music had woken me up. The loss was unbearable. I couldn't do anything, couldn't promote anything. I wrote the Roundhouse 1970 poem because writing is my instinctive reaction to deeply felt emotion, but anything else seemed appallingly trivial.

So I left the blog as it was. And left it some more. A month became three months, became six. All through the writing of new stuff, the editing and republishing of my Regency backlist, I left my David Bowie tribute there at the top of the blog. 2016 was not a good year. More heroes were taken, good friends lost, there was a lot of personal sadness, but I still couldn't blog, couldn't bring myself - after this long - to move Roundhouse 1970 down the page.

It's now been a year. The grief is still raw. Mourning never stops. But ONLY DANCING will be out at the end of the month. It's time.


Monday, 11 January 2016

David Bowie

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Roundhouse 1970
by Jan Jones

You set me ablaze

In a whirling, patchouli crowd
You ignited me

Fourteen
Square as new soap on the outside
Unformed within
The first touch of your music
Filled me with life
Moulded me
Made me yours
Made me myself

Dizzy in the darkness
Starbursts inside my head

Cool lips
Eyes that saw through to the soul

Boogie on, David
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Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Year - and photos of Ely

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Happy New Year!

I promised some more photos of Ely where my latest ebook An Ordinary Gift is set. Above is the normal image you see on the way into Ely, the 'ship of the Fens' riding serenely against the wide skies.

Once in the town, you see just why the cathedral is so visible: it's massive! Everywhere you go in the town, you see it from one direction or another.

The original monastery buildings covered a large area, but were re-purposed when Henry VIII dissolved it and founded the King's School.

archway leading to old infirmary
One of my very favourite places is the Old Infirmary. The roof was taken off and the central aisle turned into Firmary Lane, with the original arches now filled in and the sides turned into buildings!



Through the archway on the left hand side - this is now Choir House for the school.

More photos soon!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

An Ordinary Gift

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Delighted to announce the arrival on Amazon Kindle of




This 37K short(ish) romantic timeslip is set in Ely, a beautiful ancient cathedral town in the Cambridgeshire fens.

Clare Somerset moves there to start a new life. She doesn't expect to connect with an extraordinary life from the past.

The early music collection Clare takes a job in was inspired by the interior of the very splendid Toppings of Ely. Almoner's Place itself doesn't exist, but I've placed it behind and parallel to the High Street.

More photos coming in a future post.

(Link to buy the book on the sidebar)




Saturday, 7 November 2015

Off visiting...

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Today I am visiting Holly Hepburn to celebrate her new series of novellas set in 'The Star and Sixpence'.

This being the case, I was inspired to share a memory from a long time ago when I'd just started work and discovered the Gasworks Social Club for the first time...

Cheers!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Busy, busy, busy

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Biba platform shoes, 1970s, V&A Museum
Sorry for no blog posts recently (!) but I have goodish reasons!

Since the RNA Conference - which went very nicely, thank you, and at which I was shortlisted for the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy for Different Rules, I've actually been writing.

(Writing, of course, does go on, even when we are busy doing other things. That absent look in a writer's eye? They don't mean to be impolite. They are writing.)

Anyway, Different Rules is resting, pending comments and suggestions, so I started on an idea I had for a Woman's Weekly serial. Only Dancing has such a complicated structure that I discovered it was easier to write the whole thing rather than explain it to my editor. This is really not how you write a serial. Fortunately it worked, she liked it, and it will appear in the magazine early next year.

But...

But...

But I really like this story and I wanted it longer.

So I've doubled it in size and I still like it, but contractual obligations mean I can't publish it until next year, so this one has been set aside to rest as well. (Only Dancing is what the shoes in the photo are illustrating, by the way, but I'm afraid you'll have to wait to find out why.)

Which leaves the problem of what I'm going to put out THIS year.

So I have dusted off my very first serial, An Ordinary Gift. I still like this one too, but oh, it is crying out to be expanded.

Going in...


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Long hot summer

The temperature over the last couple of days reminds me of 1976, when the summer just went on and on. This was me then...



Promenade Summer by Jan Jones

That summer
When boys came up to my room to sit on my bed and
Gulp cold orange straight from the box
When coruscating music ran around the vaulted stone gallery
And seeped into my Indian cotton skirt as I sat cross-legged
Or lay full length on the wide empty floor to listen
When the heat in the park hit ninety and my stifling
Third-floor bedsit was visited by lads whose grants had run out
Or whose girls had got better degrees than they had
And who loved me because I was there and it was the thing to do
That summer

That summer
When I would refill my fridge daily with two quarts of orange
And a four-pack of lager
When I’d go to bed at two and wake every morning at six
When I was high on London and patched its tatters
Into a flame and russet headband
When I shed my skin eagerly and quickly and thought I had nothing left to learn

I went alone once to listen. Queued alone
Without my girlfriends to tell me which music I would enjoy
Paid twenty pence extra and slipped with guilty pleasure
Into a promenade large with sharing
Immediate with excitement
I rode a boy out of the hall
Made love to him in the park and lost him
Glad really to be alone
That summer

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Thursday, 4 June 2015

Georgette Heyer: who's your hero?

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On Friday June 5th, English Heritage are putting up a Blue Plaque to Georgette Heyer. This gives me SUCH a warm, fuzzy, happy feeling that I can't even begin to describe it.


I read Georgette Heyer for many reasons. Like Mary Stewart, Diana Wynne Jones and Ngaio Marsh she is the literary equivalent of my comfort blanket.

I read her for her wit, for her ability to create a world within the space of a couple of paragraphs, for the way she invests even the most minor of walk-on characters with lives of their own.

I read her for her heroines, for Serena in Bath Tangle, for Frederica in Frederica, for Elinor Rochdale in The Reluctant Widow - and surely Sophy Stanton-Lacy (The Grand Sophy) is the most glorious creation in any novel anywhere.

But heroes... well now, Georgette Heyer's heroes do cause slightly ambivalent feelings to flutter in my breast.

The problem is not with the chaps themselves, there is no one I would rather have on my side over rough country than ex-Dragoon Captain John Staple (The Toll Gate) or Hugo Darracott (The Unknown Ajax). The problem lies rather in their interactions with their lady of choice.

There are exceptions, but Georgette Heyer's books tend to be very much main-character driven. John and Nell fall in love on sight in The Toll Gate, but it is at heart an adventure story with John playing the starring role (and none the worse for that). In another of my favourites The Grand Sophy, Sophy's foil Charles Rivenhall is masterful enough, but no match on the page for Sophy who sweeps magnificently through the book setting wrongs to rights and dispatching everyone to their proper destiny.

For a complete hero, I want a sense of equality, a sense of respect and willingness to let the other person play their part. Sir Gareth Ludlow and Lady Hester Theale come close to this in Sprig Muslin. Sir Tristram Shield and Sarah Thane come even closer in The Talisman Ring.

But my number one hero is another man entirely. He is the one our heroine trusts above all others, the one she unfailingly turns to, knowing he will have the answer to all life's problems big or small. His one object, throughout the book, is to make her happy.

Yes, he's a surprising choice (and I couldn't live with him myself, I'd want Kit Fancot from False Colours for that), but the crux for me was when - with events going into free fall around him and everyone screaming at him to do something about it - he takes the trouble to read the heroine's long, rambling letter with such concentration that he instantly perceives the one flaw in her plan - AND MAKES IT BETTER, JUST LIKE THAT.

 And then, as if that wasn't enough, he is ready to stand aside and let her go if that is really what she wants.

So, Freddy Standen of Cotillion, take a bow. You are my absolute, number one Georgette Heyer hero, and fortunately Kitty Charing agrees.

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What about you? Who is your best ever Georgette Heyer hero? And why?

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Farewell, Merlin

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My lovely Merlin's heart gave out this morning. He had some breakfast and a drink of water, came outside with me to feed the birds, came back in, rubbed around my legs and then lay down in the hall for a snooze.

Merlin kitten in 2003
He stopped breathing as I was stroking him. He looks very peaceful now.

Looks easy...

Merlin in 2014

Saturday, 21 March 2015

World Poetry Day 2015

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A poem for World Poetry Day, because time itself might be infinite, but ours really isn't.

Hope you enjoy.



Keepers  by  Jan Jones

Spinning quietly through the country
Sunlit lanes when we least expect them
Stopping for a time-slipped hour to
wander a ruined mill and picture the
men and boys all now gone

And I think, one day we too will be gone
and panic stirs in me and I bin the
diary and the calendar
and I disconnect my computer
and I turn off my phone
and I reclaim this one day for us
just us

To keep in my memory

Just because

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Saturday, 14 March 2015

Welcome back, Flora!

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A new(ish) Jan Jones mystery!

Once upon a time, I wrote a 2000 word very clever short mystery story. So clever, in fact, that no one but me understood it.

It languished.

Then People's Friend wanted the occasional long mystery story. I resurrected Curtains (as it was titled then) and made it much longer. Too long, as it turned out, and still too complicated.

I rolled up my sleeves and got out the chain saw.

The 10K story was published in a People's Friend Fiction Special after MUCH sweating-of-blood on my part, now titled Behind Closed Doors.

Reader, I brooded.

The thing is - and I have this problem a lot - writers have a gut feeling for how long a story should be. If you try to stretch a story or squash it to fit someone else's column inches, it might still be a competent piece of work, but to my mind it suffers.

I brooded some more.

Then, along came Self-Publishing! And suddenly I could take my work and make everything the length it was always supposed to be all along!

So I went back to my several originals and reworked them and added a LOT more, and the result is What the Eye Doesn't See, a satisfying (to me, at any rate) 20K mystery featuring village shopkeeper Flora Swift.

Hope you like it!
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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year

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I have ambivalent feelings about the great New Year hype. I think resolutions only work if there is a meaning to them and if you want them to. I hope 2015 is good for you - and if it starts off wrong, then pick a new date of your own choosing.



take heart...
Happy New <insert date here>
by Jan Jones

New Year’s Day is simply
a day, special only
by an accident
of timing

Unless you hold to the theory
that many vibes shake the ether
Everybody’s wishes coalescing
into a universal
strong new beginning

Your new year
your own new year
nobody else’s new year
starts when you decide
things will be different

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