Sunday 26 December 2010

Penny Plain Pt4

In all the busyness of Christmas, I have quite forgotten to blog about the final episode of my four-part Penny Plain serial.

If you haven't got the 18th&25th December double issue of People's Friend yet, you might want to look for it in the next couple of days before it vanishes off the racks.

I really enjoyed rising to the challenge of writing a serial. Next one in progress already!

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

Having spent October and November in Christmas-denial (I get so cross when shops start decorating early!), the festive season has now suddenly snuck up on me. Unfortunately, a stinking cold has also decided to visit, meaning that I have never been less prepared!

However, the tree is now up

the cards are up

the lights are up

and even my mini-tree is on the kitchen windowsill.

Just the presents to go then. And the cleaning. And the shopping. And the cooking...

Hope you all have a fabulous Christmas!

Sunday 5 December 2010

Penny Plain Double Issue

Well, that was a surprise! Bought this week's People's Friend magazine and discovered that it was a double issue.

So, Part Two of the Penny Plain Mysteries is near the beginning on page 12

and Part Three is near the end on page 70

and Part Four won't be out until the 15th December!

Friday 3 December 2010

Gone visiting again!

I've gone visiting again. Fortunately this did not involve putting on coat, boots, gloves, scarf and woolly hat because today I have been Norm-ed from the comfort of my own PC.

In other words, Norm Geras asks me some questions...

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Penny Grubb - The Doll Makers

It takes a very talented person to hold a book launch in London on the snowiest day of the year and coinciding with a tube strike.

Fortunately, my Hale stable-mate Penny Grubb is also a talented writer, so there were plenty of people who turned up at the stunning Author's House (ALCS HQ) to celebrate the launch of her second crime novel The Doll Makers - including a colour-coordinated contingent from Robert Hale Books.

Ruby, Paola, Penny Grubb,  Nikki, Jan (me!)

Cracking book, Penny!

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Talli takes on Amazon!

It is always satisfying to take on the big boys by playing them at their own game. That is what Talli Roland is trying to do by recruiting as many bloggers, facebookers and tweeters as she can to publicise her debut novel THE HATING GAME.

Help THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at and by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.

Coming soon in paperback. Keep up with the latest at


When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Wednesday 24 November 2010

The Penny Plain Mysteries!

Hugely excited to get The People's Friend this morning (Nov 27th 2010 edition) and to find the first part of MY SERIAL on the opening two pages.

Doesn't it look fabulous? The idea came way, way back when I was clearing out my mother's house and found a strange jigsaw puzzle rolled up in her games box. I blogged about it here. The answer to my mystery was sadly prosaic, but what a great story it could have been, I thought, and the idea made itself at home in my head. While I wrote a two-part gentle mystery, I fell in love with my characters so started a second adventure. I sent The Jigsaw Puzzle out into the world, it came back, I sent it out again. People's Friend loved it but wanted a longer serial so I finished the next two-part mystery and tied all four together with an over-arching story.

And even though I say so myself, it's jolly good. Go on, go and buy the magazine today.

Monday 22 November 2010

National Short Story Week

This week is National Short Story Week here in the UK. All flavours of short stories are being celebrated, from literary to flash, but I'm just going to talk about the ones close to my heart.

Yes, that's right... the truly terrific ... WOMEN'S MAGAZINE SHORT STORIES.

Womag short stories probably have the largest readership of any in the genre, yet they get the least press. They are carefully crafted, they have no wasted words, they are perfect to pick-you-up, to make you laugh, to make you think and sometimes to make you cry. They fulfil a need, in these busy days, for a tiny escape from the daily round.

Back in the early days of the Romantic Novelists' Association, women's magazine fiction editors were larger than life and lions in their field. [There is a whole chapter on the importance of the magazines in Fabulous at Fifty, well worth buying.] Writers of short fiction were lauded (as indeed they should be, she says with no ulterior motive, dear me, no). And yet the market for magazine fiction is now shrinking to make space for paying adverts and celebrity interviews.

Fortunately, some of our best known magazines are still buying good quality stories and still delivering them week after week for a ridiculously low price to a huge section of the buying public.

God bless 'em.

Psst... and on Wednesday this week (24th November) the inestimable People's Friend is publishing the first episode of my serial The Penny Plain Mysteries. Put it on your shopping list for the next four weeks.

Saturday 20 November 2010

RNA Winter Party 2010

What can I say? The 2010 Romantic Novelists' Association Winter Party was just fantastic. So many of my favourite people all in one place. This was the culmination of a year of celebrations for our 50th Anniversary and in particular tonight we were concentrating on one of the things the RNA does best - the New Writers' Scheme. The RNA is the only professional UK writers' association to actively promote good writing in its genre. Every year a handful of writers make it from unpublished to published. Every year one of those writers is awarded the Joan Hessayon Trophy for best début novel of the year.

NWS Winners over the years
This year we gave shiny rosettes to all the NWS graduates present. It made for a VERY sparkling occasion.
NWS graduates

Katie Fforde

Diane Pearson
Jan Jones

Giselle Green
Norma Curtis and Trisha Ashley

Jane Smith with niece Daisy
There were speeches, draw winners, wine, canapés,  champagne, talk and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. And that, of course, is one of the other things the RNA does so well.
Catherine Jones, Tony Mulliken, Roger Sanderson

Thursday 11 November 2010

We will remember them


Flanders meets the High Street
by Jan Jones

Standing in Waitrose at eleven o’clock
All life suspended
One woman reaching for a steak&kidney pie
An old man gripping his wire basket
Me with my trolley as thousands of cheerful, too-fast soldiers
March before my eyes in jerky shades of grey

PALs: joining up together, fighting together

Dying together.
A village wiped out. A community blasted.

The cashiers sit down again
People move
Two minutes of life, gone in the blink of an eye.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

The Kydd Inheritance - first sighting

Eeek! Haven't blogged for ages. I'll get some retrospective posts up in the next few days, but just now I'm overjoyed at the first sighting of my next Regency The Kydd Inheritance.

It is available for pre-order at the Hale book site at a whacking 30% discount!

The Kydd Inheritance is the prequel to Fair Deception and Fortunate Wager, my Newmarket Regencies.

Here is a tiny snippet of the scene that goes with the cover...

As they penetrated further across the heath, the gloom deepened and the rain increased. All the lurid romances Nell had ever read unfurled their pages in her head. She was not laughing at the idea of highwaymen now - there were no other travellers on this stretch but themselves and every bush seemed to hold twice its complement of shadows.
    “Nell,” said Hugo’s low voice after perhaps ten minutes of her seeing ghosts behind every tree. “I do not wish to alarm you, but I believe there to be a horseman in that copse ahead of us to our right.”


Monday 18 October 2010

Gone visiting again!

Off on my travels again! Today I am visiting Catt's rather lovely blog where she foolishly offered to ask me some questions and then couldn't get a word in edgeways.

See you over there!

Saturday 16 October 2010

Fabulous at Fifty!

It will not have escaped regular readers' notice that the Romantic Novelists' Association has been busy celebrating its fiftieth birthday all year.

This week saw the launch of Fabulous at Fifty, a fascinating selection of reminiscences from 1960-2010 (psst - do you know how we identify historical romances? They are set pre-1960, ie pre-RNA).

Being us, we needed to have a celebration to launch it properly, so we gathered for a truly sparkling lunch in the RAF Club Ballroom.

Shiny, I mused, as I innocently offered to decorate the tables.

I also decorated the book display, the mini-exhibition assembled and annotated by the indefatigable Jenny Haddon (the impressive gold decorations are Jenny's - the sneaky sparkles are mine)

and anyone foolish enough to come within reach.
Oh, and as with the best parties, there were presents.

It was just fabulous. And judging by the great fashionable lunches of the past,

some of us are keeping up traditions.
(There was chocolate too)

(And this really special bit of the exhibition)

Thursday 7 October 2010

National Poetry Day 2010

This year's National Poetry Day has the theme of "Home". This got me thinking, because there are two sides to everything. There's the part of me that loves my house and my things and everything I've built up over the years. And there's the writer part of me that's been-there-done-that and just wants to be on my own, to shut myself away for days and live in my own head without distractions or duties.

The best way I can illustrate it is with two contrasting poems.

For example, on the one hand, there is:

Ephemera is Me by Jan Jones

Home is a long swathe of responsible
Piles of memory
Backup upon backup of me.

It’s things
Stuff I’ve chosen
Or been given and chosen to keep

Home is my food in the fridge
My mugs in the cupboard
The familiar where I expect to find it

So if you’re asking in your simplistic, minimalistic way
If home could be somewhere else?
Why yes
But I’d have to bring all of myself with me.

You got a truck?

And yet on the other hand (and I love the allegory in this photo), there is:

Counting Links by Jan Jones

This is me
holding things together
fists clenched in my security, in what I have to do

here I am
with what I need to survive
pale fronds pulling me down, smothering hastiness

anchored by responsibility

because someone has to be

See what I mean? Two sides to every person and every place. I can't be the only person who feels like this, can I? The trick, I guess, is in how well we balance them.

Friday 24 September 2010

I love Woman's Weekly!

Any women's magazine short story writer will know this name. The Woman's Weekly submissions address must be one of the longest to fit onto an envelope ever. Even so, after you've dropped that story into the postbox you put it out of your mind, so it was a slight shock to me last week to actually visit it and discover that the Blue Fin building really does exist!

It's fabulous. Tall, sky-piercing. All glass and angles and huge reception space and roof terrace. So it was really lovely to discover that the fiction editor's desk is about the same size as mine and only fractionally tidier. And the knitting editor's desk is surrounded by wool and part-finished garments. And there is a test-kitchen where they make the food featured in the magazine and which smelled heavenly.

And best of all, the art editor had MY ARTWORK on her screen!

So thank you, Woman's Weekly for my nice day.

And if everyone could go out and buy this month's WW Fiction Special with my story in, I'll be even happier.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Poetry of place

Having been discussing poems recently, I thought I'd post one of mine. (If it looks familiar, I put it on the Transita Authors blog ages ago)

I write poems for myself, to capture a moment or a mood or a person or a place. I find when I look at them again sometimes years later, they bring to mind exactly what I wanted to remember - a very handy brain-transportation device for a writer!

As I blogged last about Lady Mary Stewart and the way she brings her settings so vividly to life, I'm presenting you with a 'place' poem. This was written while sailing on the Norfolk Broads one time. Many people go there on holiday to enjoy the water and the scenery, but the landscape is so ancient and brooding that I always get the feeling we mortals are merely tolerated as we scull across it.

No Postcard by Jan Jones

Pretty? You couldn’t call this pretty
This land defies the roundness of the Earth
Grey-green under grey sky
Archaic in its horizontal heaviness
When man falters, stumbles to nothing
The land remains.

Incomers live on the surface. Try too hard. Never see
That line of mud around the ankles. Never notice
Those eyes the remote grey of the sky. Just
A micrometer of pulled petroleum.

Driftwood tree, taut amongst summer reeds
Grey water with a purpose of its own
Inexorable. Unremitting.
This land is no postcard.

Tuesday 31 August 2010

Gone Visiting with Mary Stewart

Today I am visiting the rather fine Normblog with a post about what the supremely wonderful Lady Mary Stewart means to me.

I am a firm believer in the power of books on the developing mind. I read hungrily, greedily, but never to satiation point in my early teens. Three of the authors I discovered then who shot straight into my soul and set up house were Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer - and Mary Stewart. This is just possibly why I currently write light-hearted Regency romances with a dash of adventure and a sprinkling of humour.

Do read the article and then come back and tell me your early influences.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

The Kydd Inheritance

It occurred to me that I have had my lovely cover for The Kydd Inheritance for some time and haven't shared it with you all.

Created by the fabulous David Young who was responsible fro bringing Fair Deception and Fortunate Wager to life.

The book is a prequel to my Newmarket Regencies, being the story of Nell (Kit Kydd's sister) and the frankly gorgeous Hugo.

Sadly, you'll have to wait until the New Year to get your hands on it.

I might post a teaser or two in the meantime...

Saturday 7 August 2010


So the 50th Anniversary RNA Conference at Greenwich has been and gone. It was wonderful and exhilarating and exhausting and ... and its absence has left a whacking great hole in my life.

I ought to be filling that hole with writing, and indeed, I have sent off a couple of shorts, but you can't keep an addicted conference organiser down, so last week I went to the site of next year's RNA Conference in Caerleon.

And found dragons. All over Newport. Provided by a most enlightened council for schools, clubs and professional artists to decorate. I couldn't get pics of the ones in the shop windows, but here are a few to delight you.