Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Random thoughts post-Christmas

Well I'm back home after ten days of skiing. I've slept most of the last 24 hours and feel rather more self indulgent than usual, so this is going to be a bit of a random blog post. Come on – it's that weird time of year when Christmas is over but the horrors of the New Year have yet to really sink in, so we're all a bit more random than usual.

Whatever your views on global warming, if you're a regular Christmas skier you will have seen some changes lately. This year saw the French Alps covered in snow in November, which all melted away sometime early in December. When we arrived, temperatures were firmly back down at snow-making levels but there was an obstinate refusal of anything to fall from the sky. Resorts have responded to these early-season mishaps by massively improving the quality and quantity of snow cannon that produce white stuff that skis just like regular snow. The result is that a large area resort – like the three valleys where we were – has areas of high altitude natural snow linked with long paths (sometimes miles long) of wide pistes stretching across otherwise snowless mountain meadows. It's an odd experience, but we were able to cover all four of the three valleys (yes – the fourth valley is now very definitely a thing) and ski a wide variety of different pistes over our ten days.

The combination of no recent snowfall, low temperatures and some quite high winds meant that at altitude many of the slopes were essentially rather steeply sloping ice rinks. Our old skis were not up to the job and we decided it was time to finally bite the bullet and get something more suited to the conditions. The fashion, which had been getting sneakily longer for a few years, is now firmly back to shorter skis and we were able to have fun on our nippy new toys with their viciously sharpened edges. If you enjoy icy slopes, there is something particularly satisfying about remaining attached to a smooth, steep stretch of something that bears only the most distant relationship to what most people think of as snow and somehow magically remaining upright. We had a fabulous time.

What I very definitely didn't do on my holidays was keep in touch with the lovely people who are still reviewing 'Back Home'. So many, many thanks to Sharon, who blogged her review just as we set off for France. And thanks too to Jera's Jamboree for posting an interview about my books on James Burke. And Elle Field, whose interview with me was a particular pleasure. She had some really interesting questions and it's a shame that the interview may well have got overlooked in all the pre-Christmas excitement..

This last month of 2016 has seemed to produce a lot of publicity from some lovely people. I was particularly thrilled when Rosie Amber's book review team made Back Home runner up in their awards for best Historical Fiction of 2016. It's the first time any of my books have won anything and it meant a lot to me – especially as sales of Back Home have been disappointing.

I was also excited to be the featured interview in Historia magazine, the online magazine of the Historical Writers' Association. This was a particular honour for me, as I featured alongside Paul Collard, whose Jack Lark books I really admire.

So here I am in a welter of dirty laundry and some lovely Xmas presents (yes, books featured), trying to come to terms with being back at home and getting on top of domestic chores as well as thanking all of you who have been so kind about my books and generous with blog posts and reviews and interviews. Most people are happy to see the end of 2016 (with George Michael and Carrie Fisher the list of lost icons seems determined to drag us down all the way to the very end of the year) but it has, after its share of ups and downs, ended on a high note for me. I am truly grateful to all of you who have supported my writing and only sorry that the last ten days have left me too tired to give you all the acknowledgement you deserved. I hope it's not too late to thank you all now.

Enjoy the rest of 2016. I'll see you all next year.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Celebration time!

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you probably already know that yesterday was an exciting day.

Photo: Niels Noordhoek

Given the number of books out there and the limited marketing budgets of most smaller publishers (and, increasingly of larger ones as well) the efforts of online book bloggers are really important. One of the most influential is Rosy Amber. She heads a team of reviewers and between them they cover hundreds of books in a year, posting their reviews at At the end of the year the reviewers draw up a shortlist of their favourites, which go to a public vote for the books of the year. It isn't the Booker, but it's a nice recognition of the work that less well-known authors put in. And this year I am thrilled to tell you that 'Back Home' was the runner up in their Historical Fiction category.

That seemed a pretty good way to end 2016. But this morning there is more! I am a member of the Historical Writers Association who published the excellent online magazine, Historia. The latest addition leads with a front-page interview with to writers of the 19th century historical fiction, comparing the way they approach their subject. One is the excellent Paul Collard (author of the Jack Lark books) and the other is ME!!!

I think that writers are always looking for what psychologists call "validation". Writing is a solitary activity. We hide in garrets scribing away and eventually release our books into the world where, unless we are very, very lucky, they will vanish into a huge pool of other books, leaving scarcely a ripple on the water. We are all slightly obsessive about sales figures, not because we are ever going to make any money (realistically, we’re not) but because we so want to think that there are people out there who have read and enjoyed what we have written. That's another reason why we are constantly asking people to leave reviews – and if you have read anything by less well-known author and enjoyed it, please do review it, because it does mean such a lot. Comments on blog posts leave a warm glow. Fan mail can feed an author emotionally for a month. But awards, or the acknowledgement of your peers – that’s super special. And to have both in two days is just mind blowing. It's the best early Christmas present I could ask for.

If you have bought any of my books, or reviewed them, or voted for me for Rosie’s award, or just been one of those many, many people who have said the odd nice word when reviews have been thin on the ground and sales have been rotten, I really do want to say THANK YOU. It is the support of readers that keeps writers writing and we really are very, very grateful for it.

I will be stepping away from the keyboard soon to take a Christmas break. I am looking forward to a lovely Christmas, all the better for such good news in December. I hope you all have fantastic holidays too and that you find many new books to enjoy in 2017.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Outlaw's Ransom

This week's blog is a couple of days early because it's part of the promotional effort for Jennifer Ash's new book, The Outlaw's Ransom. Who is Jennifer Ash  and why should we care? I hear you ask. Jennifer is one of the increasing number of pen names of fellow Accent author and multiple personality disorder sufferer Jenny Kane. She's become  Jennifer Ash as she moves into historical fiction. (Welcome to the madhouse, Jenny.) Anyway, here she is, talking about some of the history behind her book.


The Outlaw’s Ransom: The Folvilles in History

I’m delighted to be visiting today, as part of a blog tour celebrating the publication of my medieval mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom – a book which was inspired by my love of all things ‘Robin Hood.’
The earliest mention found (to date) of the name Robin Hood appears in the poem The Vision of Piers Plowman, which was written by William Langland in c.1377. This was a protest poem complaining about the harsh conditions endured by the poor in the Fourteen Century. Not only did it mention Robin Hood, but it also makes reference to the real outlaw gang, the Folvilles.
“And some ryde and to recovere that unrightfully was wonne:He wised hem wynne it ayein wightnesses of handes,And fecchen it from false men with Folvyles lawes.”

The Folvilles were a noble family from Leicestershire who, throughout the late 1320’s and 1330’s, ran Ashby-Folville and its surrounds within the Hundred of Goscote, as a base for criminal activity.

In 1310, John de Folville, Lord of Ashby Folville, died, leaving his widow Alice and seven sons. The eldest son, also John, inherited the Ashby-Folville manor. Historical records show that John lived largely within the bounds of the law. However, his brothers, Eustace, Laurence, Richard, Robert, Thomas and Walter formed a criminal gang which became notorious.

The first crime that brought the Folvilles to the notice of the authorities was the murder of the Baron of the Exchequer, Roger Belers. Over the following decade, the Folville brothers’ travelled the countryside assaulting those they considered deserving of such treatment, and holding people and places to ransom. They hired themselves out as mercenaries, willing to commit crimes for the right price. The most violent of the brothers, Eustace, is known to have committed murders, robberies and even rapes across Leicestershire and Rutland.

Like Robin Hood and his men, the Folvilles are often portrayed as the allies of the common people fighting a corrupt authority. Eustace’s crimes aside, their targets were all officials that had gone beyond the norm of taking advantage of their positions. For example, in 1332 the Folville gang kidnapped the judge, Sir Richard Willoughby, on the road between Melton Mowbray and Grantham, near Waltham on the Wolds. A ransom of 1,300 marks was demanded from his men. While the Folvilles waited for the ransom they stole over one hundred pounds worth of goods from Willoughby as they dragging him from ‘wood to wood.’

Willoughby was so hated by the people, that in 1340 another criminal gang made him the target of an attack, trapping him in Thurcaston castle. Later, Willoughby was imprisoned by King Edward III for corruption and was forced to pay 1200 marks for a pardon.

It is perhaps not surprising that parallels have been drawn between Robin Hood’s stories and the real life activities of the Folville brothers. It was these parallels that led me to use the Folville family as the central focus for my first ever medieval mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom.


The first in an exciting new series by acclaimed author Jenny Kane writing as Jennifer Ash.

When craftsman’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers, as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life.  Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for disregarding the law – and for using any means necessary to deliver their brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the paramour of the enigmatic Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will take her far from home and put her life in the hands of a dangerous brigand – and that’s just the start of things…

A thrilling tale of medieval mystery and romance – and with a nod to the tales of Robin Hood – The Outlaw’s Ransom is perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and Jean Plaidy.

You can buy The Outlaw's Ransom for your Kindle HERE

The many faces of Jennifer Ash

Jennifer Ash is the author of the medieval murder mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom (Dec, 2016). Her second novel, The Winter Outlaw, will be published in 2017.

You can find detail’s of Jennifer’s stories at
Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane
Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance Another Glass of Champagne, (Accent Press, 2016),  Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015), the bestselling novel Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the modern/medieval time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014).
Jenny’s fifth full length romance novel, Abi’s Neighbour, will be published in June 2017.
Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)
Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at for more details.
Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

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Comments are open

After years of running this blog  and wondering why I get so few comments, I've discovered that Blogger's defaults limit the number of people who can comment. I've taken these limits off, so comment away below.

Monday, 5 December 2016


I keep asking for comments on my blog and wondering why I get so few. I've just discovered that the default settings for this blog only allowed that minority of you who are registered with Blogger to comment.

I've changed the settings. Anyone should now be able to comment. I'm looking forward to hearing from more of you.

Friday, 2 December 2016

'Back Home' on Award Shortlist

Books from small publishers seldom get reviewed in the newspapers. Fortunately, we have review bloggers. I've been reviewing quite a few books on my blog lately, but I just dabble at it around other things. For some bloggers, book reviews are the centre of their online lives.

Bloggers can be very influential. Rosie Amber stands out. She doesn't just review by herself, but heads a team of reviewers whose reviews are all posted at

I have had not one, but two, very positive reviews for Back Home on this site, which has made me feel better about a book that (so far) has had excellent reviews but not particularly exciting sales. What has made me feel really excited, though, is that the Rosie Amber Book Review Team has short-listed Back Home for its Historical Fiction Book of the Year Award.

Will this guarantee that I will become a bestseller? Will I make a speech at a fancy awards dinner? Alas, no. But, for a still relatively unknown author struggling to stand out, it will substantially increase my visibility on the web. And, much more important, it will make me feel a whole lot better.

It takes about a year to research, write, and edit a historical novel. I enjoy doing it, but it's definitely hard work. You can buy Back Home as an e-book for £2.99 so I'm clearly not going to make a fortune from it. Getting recognition from awards like this is the most that I can really hope for. I know that (like almost all the writers I know) I'm always asking people to write reviews and I do understand that a lot of you find it difficult. This time I'm just asking you to go to and vote. If you have enjoyed Back Home, please do.