Saturday, 21 March 2015

World Poetry Day 2015

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


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Welcome back, Flora!

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!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year

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


Tuesday, 11 November 2014


The Tower of London ceramic poppies are now finished. The moat is steeped in red. This is what it looked like on the first day, back in August.

Silent Testimony   by Jan Jones

Poppies pour quietly from an open window
Each a broken body on a broken field far from home
In a while, the Last Post will sound
But for now this is beautiful, and tragic.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

QL SuperBASIC - The Definitive Handbook

Something over thirty years ago, I was head-hunted by my erstwhile colleague Tony Tebby to join him at Sinclair Research Ltd to work on a new project.

The project was the Sinclair QL, a new affordable micro computer using the superfast Motorola 68008 chip. A team was already in place, but someone was needed to work with Tony on designing and building a new programming language for the QL.

That person was me, and the language we designed was SuperBASIC.

The handbook I wrote once the project was finished was published by McGraw-Hill. It has been out of print for very many years and the rights reverted back to me for nearly as long.


But people are still using their Sinclair QLs. The remaining copies of the original edition of my SuperBASIC book appear for sale at fabulous sums (I do wish I'd kept some of my author copies instead of scattering them around family and friends).

So, more as a labour of love, really, and a desire that if something with my name on is going to appear on the internet, then I'd like it to be the best thing with my name on that I can manage at this time, I bring you the new, Kindle edition of...

QL SuperBASIC - The Definitive Handbook


Friday, 31 October 2014

Mildy Disturbing...

On a day when the 31st October hit an astonishing 20 degrees Centigrade here in East Anglia, I bring you this poem...

A Light Fright Night by Jan Jones

It was a balmy All Hallows Eve
When the spirits began to appear
Peering warily round in the sunshine
As if they shouldn’t be here.

The ghost looked askance at her shift
All grey and tattery lace
“I don’t feel decent,” she muttered
And soaped herself in the mill race.

The skeleton scrubbed at his mildew
The zombies sunbathed and crumbled
The golems warmed up nicely
“Why go out?” the witches grumbled.

Ghouls floated like bunting
Across the pub garden
Banshees swigged cider
And lazily gargled. (*gargoyled?*)

The spectre inspector
Gave up in despair
As the vampires took afternoon tea
In their lair.

And the tricks were all treats
And the treaters serene
That unreasonable
Warm Hallowe’en.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Christmas Gift - Penny Plain 4

The fourth in the Penny Plain Mysteries series is now out from Accent Press!

The Christmas Gift starts off innocuously enough with the idea of tracing forgotten photos in the local newspaper files but, as ever with Penny and Leo, it doesn't stay that simple.

There are petty thefts, Christmas nativities, and before they know it Leo is cycling through thick snow on a borrowed bike with a shepherd's crook across the handlebars.

Oh, and about that kiss at the end of Local Secrets ..?

Sorry - you need to buy the book.

Happy Christmas!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Cover for Penny Plain #4

To distract me from a nasty sore throat, I received an email this morning with my cover for the fourth in the Penny Plain Mysteries.

The Christmas Gift will be out in November from Accent Press. I will post more about it then.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

More tea, vicar?

Join me for a Traditional Afternoon Tea at this year's Festival of Romantic Fiction. The event takes place in top tea shop The Green House, Market Square, Leighton Buzzard.

Also pouring tea, buttering scones, slicing cake and chatting about their books will be Christina Courtenay, Talli Roland, Sue Moorcroft, Jean Fullerton, Terri Nixon and Laura Purcell.

It's going to be a great afternoon. Tickets available online here.

Oh, and as a little extra to celebrate FAIRLIGHTS being shortlisted for a Reader Award,  there will be biscuits from Botham's of Whitby for everyone attending. Just stop me and ask...

See you there!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

FAIRLIGHTS Shortlisted!

I am delighted to announce that FAIRLIGHTS has been shortlisted for Best Author-Published book in the Festival of Romantic Fiction Reader Awards!

Lost of my writing pals are also deservedly scattered around the lists, so good luck to all.

The winners will be announced on Saturday Sept 13th at a gala evening do at Leighton Buzzard Theatre, complete with sparkles, heels, canapes and wine.

The full list of shortlistees is...

Best Romantic Read (sponsored by Headline Eternal)

Two Weddings and a Baby by Scarlett Bailey (Ebury)
The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman (Ebury)
The Cornish Stranger by Liz Fenwick (Orion)
After The Honeymoon by Janey Fraser (Arrow)
The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell (Headline Review)
One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin (Carina)
The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft (Choc Lit)
The Proposal by Tasmina Perry (Headline Review)
One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson (Quercus)

Best Historical Read

The Downstairs Maid by Rosie Clarke (Ebury)
Monsoon Mists by Christina Courtenay (Choc Lit)
The Maid of Milan by Beverley Eikili (Choc Lit)
The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans (Quercus)
Crosscurrents by Jane Jackson (Accent Press)
Home For Christmas by Lizzie Lane (Ebury)
A Rose in Flanders Fields by Terri Nixon (Carina)
Queen of Bedlam by Laura Purcell (Myrmidon)

Best Short Romance

Don't Tell Penny by Anna Bell (Quercus)
Taming Her Italian Boss by Fiona Harper (Mills and Boon Cherish)
A Western Heart by Liz Harris (Choc Lit Lite)
Just You by Jane Lark (Harper Impulse)
The Right Side of Mr Wrong by Jane Linfoot (Harper Impulse)
Grand Designs by Linda Mitchelmore (Choc Lit Lite)
The Bookshop on the Corner by Rebecca Raisin (Carina)

Best E-Book

The Second Time I Saw You by Pippa Croft (Penguin)
The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson (Choc Lit)
Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn-Marie Hulsmann (Harper Impulse)
Dear Lizzie by Annie Lyons (Carina)
The Guestbook by Holly Martin (Carina)
Room For Love by Sophie Pembroke (Carina)
The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas (Headline)
Doubting Abbey by Samantha Tonge (Carina)

Best Author Published

Mary Bennet by Kate Allan
Sweet Occasions by Linn B Halton
Drumbeats by Julia Ibbotson
Fairlights by Jan Jones
Christmas Yves by Nicola May
A Change of Heart by Adrienne Vaughan

New Talent Award Shortlist

An Infamous Seduction by Glenda Cooper
Country Strife by Debbie Fuller-White
Fancy Cakes and Skinny Lattes by Melanie Griffiths
For One Last Time by Louise Hall
The Gossamer Trail by Brenda Hawkey
Who Does He Think He Is? by Emily Kerr
Hats Off To Love by Susan Jones
Meeting Halfway by Mairibeth MacMillan
The Perfect Blend by Catherine Meadows
True Colours by Caroline Rayner
Maggie's Child by Glynis Smy

Sarah Taylor, the Awards Organiser said, "With the highest number of entries the awards have had in their four year history, the standard this year was exceptionally high with many highly rated novels not making the shortlists. The breath and depth of quality writing in romantic fiction should be celebrated and that's what these awards are all about."

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Local Secrets is out!

No, that's not a grammatical error!

Local Secrets is the third Penny Plain story - and it is out now from Accent Press.

Something is afoot in Salthaven - graffiti down by the harbour, a WW1 soldier missing from the town’s war memorial and a dodgy councillor exuding charm. Penny and Leo are on the trail!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Silent Testimony

Yesterday, I went to the Tower of London to see the ceramic poppies instillation commemorating the fallen in World War One. It is most profoundly moving. Go if you can.

Silent Testimony   by Jan Jones

Poppies pour quietly from an open window
Each a broken body on a broken field far from home
In a while, the Last Post will sound
But for now this is beautiful, and tragic.