Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Fake Friday With Jennifer Ash

Meet Mathilda: The Outlaw’s Ransom

Jennifer Ash


Many thanks for inviting me to your lovely blog to talk a little about my medieval mystery (with a hint of romance), The Outlaw’s Ransom- the first book of ‘The Folville Chronicles.’

Within The Outlaw’s Ransom, my fourteenth century protagonist is a nineteen year old woman called, Mathilda of Twyford. In the medieval period, nineteen was the age of a full grown woman. Most would be married and have children by that age. Mathilda however, is single, as she’s been looking after her father and brothers, running the home and the family pottery business since the death of her mother.

Her life changes abruptly when she is forced to get to know the notorious Folville family rather better than she would have liked. Suddenly, Mathilda finds herself surrounded by criminals and under a very frightening type of suspicion...

Blurb


When potter’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 using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive 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 betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most villainous men in England.

With her life in the hands of more than one dangerous brigand, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival.

Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful…

***

Women in the fourteenth century had to be strong-willed, as well as physically fit, or they’d never have survived. Putting aside the obvious pressures and problems of childbirth, they ran family businesses alongside their men folk, kept the house, dealt with all the food and raised the children. In fact, it all sounds fairly familiar!

I’ve never been keen on the idea of writing weak characters; be they male or female. Such characters frequently fail to hold the interest of a reader, often frustrating you into wishing they’d just grasp the metaphorical nettle and get on with it- whatever, ‘it’ is.

In the case of The Outlaw’s Ransom, it was particularly important for me to have a determined, capable and intelligent female in the driving seat. I wanted Mathilda to not just survive within her enforced hostile environment, but to hold her own and show the Folville brothers that they were dealing with a feisty, clever, woman who could give as good as she got.

Here’s a little taster from when Mathilda – having just been hauled out of the Folville family cell – meets her keeper, Robert de Folville, for the first time.

Extract


...The Folville didn’t say anything else, but satisfied himself with watching Mathilda as she stood, half bowed, before him. She wasn’t shaking now. He’d noticed how hard she had fought within herself to still her external reactions to his news of her change in circumstance and had admired her self-control. It was almost as if she had an offended dignity about her rather than terror; an unusual reaction from a prisoner in the presence of a Folville.

He wondered if she’d been taught her letters. Most families didn’t waste their time teaching their womenfolk such things, but Mathilda of Twyford was clearly sharp and capable. With her mother gone, she’d run the household, and he imagined she did that job well. He saw that his family’s plan for this girl might work, but only if she kept that nerve. Otherwise… well, she wouldn’t be the first to die during his family’s quest to maintain their position.

Breaking the silence that had stretched out between them he said, ‘I recall you have questions for me. I can see your head jarring with them.’

‘If I may, my Lord?’

‘You may, although I should caution you, I may not choose to offer a reply.’

Mathilda licked her lips and ran her clammy palms down her grubby belted surcoat, which largely hid her brother’s leather hose, and flexed her numb bare toes.

‘Please, my Lord, who are you?’

This produced a bark of laughter, ‘You are well-mannered despite the indignity of being thrust, if only for a short while, into our cell. I am Robert de Folville, one of seven brothers of this manor.’

Mathilda curtsied, more out of natural impulse than any feelings of reverence towards this man, whom she knew for certain, had been party to at least one murder. ‘You are kin to my Lord Eustace, my Lord?’

‘Yes, girl, I am.’ He cocked his head to one side. ‘That worries you?’

‘He is a man I have been taught to fear, forgive my impudence, my Lord.’

He snorted. ‘I would rather have honest impudence than bluff and lies. So, you have been instructed by your father to be wary of us?’

‘Not only my father, sir.’ Abruptly worried that her boldness might place her family in more danger, Mathilda clamped her mouth shut. Seeing, however, that the Folville wasn’t cross, but had an expression of acceptance on his face, Mathilda braved a further question.

‘Where is my father, my Lord, and Matthew and Oswin, my brothers?’

Robert de Folville paused and, after a moment’s consideration, gestured for the servant boy to bring her a chair. Mathilda was glad to be allowed to sit down, but was puzzled at the equal status she was being afforded after her earlier abuse, as Folville sat next to her, leaning uncomfortably close to her slight, tense frame.

‘Your father and your brother Matthew are at home in Twyford working on ways to pay back your debt. I do not know Oswin’s whereabouts. I am, after all, only one of the younger brothers.’

Mathilda heard the bitterness in him and for the first time, she thought she understood something of this man. Robert de Folville would probably have made a good lord of the manor, but his lot was to be a minor son.

‘You will have heard of the death of Belers almost three years hence?’

‘Yes, my Lord.’ Mathilda spoke softly as she thought back to the day she’d heard first about the murder on Brokesby Field. It may not have happened right on their doorstep, but the frisson of fear the crime had engendered had been felt even in Twyford; such was their closeness to the Folvilles’ manor house; and the waves the crime had created were still leaving ripples these many months later.

He must have read her mind, for Robert slammed his hand against the table, making Mathilda jump. ‘Damn it all girl! Roger Belers was a tyrant! An oppressive, rapacious man who had become a scourge on our county! We did what needed to be done. Hode would have done no less!’

Mathilda said nothing. It was clear he meant exactly what he said. His brothers probably did as well. They evidently believed they were providing a public service. They took their fee for such deeds as wages, just as the sheriff did when he arrested a felon for the King.

Folville leant towards Mathilda earnestly. ‘Did your father ever sing you “The Outlaw’s Song of Trailbaston”, child?’

‘I’ve heard of it, my Lord, but no, I don’t know it as I know the Robyn Hode tunes.’

‘It contains much wisdom, Mathilda. I have no doubt that its great length influenced the author of the Hode stories.’ Robert lounged back in his seat, his arms stretched behind his neck as he began to quote a verse to his captive.

‘You who are indicted, I advise you, come to me,

To the green forest of Belregard, where there is no annoyance

But only the wild animal and the beautiful shade;

For the common law is too uncertain.

What do you say, child?’

Mathilda swallowed again. The ale she’d drunk earlier had been stronger than she was used to. Her head ached, and her throat felt sticky, giving her a thirst worse than before. ‘I believe there is wisdom within, my Lord. I have heard my elders say that the law is contradictory. If we truly have been abandoned by the law, perhaps you are correct to take matters into your own hands – within reason, my Lord.’

Mathilda flinched, expecting her host to strike out. She shouldn’t have said that last bit. Why couldn’t she ever keep her tongue in check? Her directness had always been frowned upon within her family, and now Mathilda was deeply regretting sharing her opinion honestly. She tensed, awaiting the call for a guard to come and throw her back into prison.

It did not come. Folville was peering at her quizzically, ‘You are a curious creature, Mathilda of Twyford. You must realise you have been used to pay off your father’s debts, but you ask nothing of your own future, only theirs. My reverend brother placed you in our cell, and you do not ask why, nor make complaint about your enclosure.’

Mathilda bit her tongue, not wanting to say the wrong thing, despite her desire for answers to the questions he’d posed.

‘Your father told Eustace and the rector that you were headstrong and determined when they collected you. As a result, Richard decreed a spell in our holding cell to soften you to our will.’ Robert snorted into his mug of ale. ‘He obviously never bothered to take the time to speak to you himself before he acted. A fact about my holy brother that astounds me not one jot.’

Mathilda stared hard at the floor. The glimmer of a first smile since her kidnap was trying to form at the corner of her mouth, and she felt guilty for its presence.

She could feel Robert’s blue eyes burning into the top of her bowed head. As he said, ‘Your father vouched to Eustace that you have qualities more suited to a man than to the gentler sex. It seems you are happier in the river or fields than the house and only run the home as it is your duty as a woman.’

Giving no reply, Mathilda was glad Robert wasn’t able to see her face, as she was unable to prevent the crimson blush of shame that came as she heard how her father had described her. Not only was she ashamed, she felt indignant. She’d worked ceaselessly to run the house, the remaining furlong and the orchard as successfully as her mother had done, even though it was a task she didn’t enjoy and frequently resented.

‘Well, Mathilda of Twyford, I will tell you what Eustace has demanded of your father...’

 



If that has whetted your appetite- then here are those all important buy links!

Kindle-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519759895&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519760741&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

Paperback-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007697&sr=1-2&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007771&sr=1-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

(Please note that if you have read Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane and Jennifer Ash- then you will already be familiar with the story with The Outlaw’s Ransom)



Many thanks for inviting me to stop by today Teresa.


Happy reading,

Jennifer x

Bio


With a background in history and archaeology, Jennifer Ash should really be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, and writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jennifer writes stories of medieval crime, steeped in mystery, with a side order of romance.

Influenced by a lifelong love of Robin Hood and medieval ballad literature, Jennifer has written The Outlaw’s Ransom (Book One in The Folville Chronicles) – a short novel, which first saw the light of day within the novel Romancing Robin Hood (written under the name Jenny Kane; Pub. Littwitz Press, 2018).



Book Two of The Folville Chronicles - The Winter Outlaw - will be released in April 2018. (pub. LittwitzPress)



All of Jennifer and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at www.jennykane.co.uk

@JenAshHistory

@JennyKaneAuthor

Jennifer Ash https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/

Jenny Kane https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011235488766

Friday, 30 March 2018

Thou Shall Not Chase

Maybe I should title this the trials and tribulations of a dating single mum...

I mean, when I am messaging some guy I hope to date, my eleven year old is looking over my shoulder and asking "who am I texting?"

"Just a friend." *lie mode cancel*

I just don't have that many friends, let alone ones that text me regularly. The day he realises this I am rumbled.

When someone does start texting me regularly I actually have to put my phone on silent so that the kids don't get too curious.

So, yeah, I've ventured, on and off, again, with the online dating malarkey thing.

I'm a sucker for punishment. Obviously.

And it's nice to get a text message, to feel wanted, that someone has thought about you enough to message.

However, it's a game half the time.

But I've got to start somewhere, right?

The thing is, I'm not even sure I'm ready. I get bored with it quickly - well, men, I get bored with men. And I don't mean in a slutty way. Nope, I just get bored with the messaging, or when they don't message, or when the messages have clearly been sent by their dick... In the end I'm doing the Jessica Jones eye roll gif. Yeah, you've seen the one!

A conversation with a very wise friend recently, she confirmed what I already knew - as she's been on the planet a bit longer than me - men really do think with their dicks.

I just now need to remember this - always!

I've now got a trust issue (thanks to my previous relationship - insert Jessica Jones Eye Roll Gif again)... I mean, when dating, messaging, whatever, I'm thinking; does he just want sex, is he a player, or is he genuinely looking for a long-term relationship? Or will he say he wants long-term, and just leave once he's done with me.

The ones that appear genuine I don't fancy.  They're not unattractive but I just don't fancy them! There isn't the spark! I really want there to be but it isn't there. And they're real sweethearts and I've got to turn them down for another date.

And go back on that bloody app!

Then there are ones I find attractive, but there can't be much of an interest for them... because they don't even message me back! Really should just stick to my Thou Shall Not Chase, and let the guys message me first.

The other ones I do find attractive, that there is a spark, I'll be like, is he a player, will he bolt at the first argument, can I actually trust he's genuine?

There is so much I want to put on my profile, but it'll make me look bitter and twisted, and insight inappropriate comments probably. But I just don't want to play games, and Thou Shall Not Chase!

What I have discovered also is the double standards. Guys want pretty women, with a great figure who keep themselves fit, yet they're not exactly 'fit' themselves (when I come to meet them). They have the nerve to tell me they don't find overweight women attractive... but when I'm meet them, they are overweight themselves! Now, I'm not looking for someone who is obsessed with the gym. I just want someone who takes health and fitness seriously.

Also, all these men are looking for strong minded, independent, interesting women... but they actually don't know what to do with one once they've got her. Heaven forbid she disagrees with them. (Oh, they'll walk out of a perfectly good relationship... that's what they'll do...) Really, they want doormats... only they don't find them attractive.

So do you want to know why I write romance? Because like I have on my website profile, let's face it. men in reality don't exist like the heroes in books. And occasionally, us women like to meet men who don't constantly think with their dick... These men can be found in books.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Clean Shave Debate

Okay, so I've returned to the online dating scene. (What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment.)

At one point I did have on my profile I was considering waiting until beards were out of fashion.

Most of the men - because it's the trend I assume and not because they're lazy - either have beards or stubble. But I am not a fan of facial hair - so I'm finding it hard to find guys to date.

Some guys wear it well, I won't argue that... It can look rather sexy... that's okay until you come to intimacy and you've got sensitive skin. How many men actually groom their beard/stubble?

Personally, I think it ages a man's face... so I empathise with guys in their twenties trying to ditch a baby face if they have one. But I'm not dating those... I'm looking for men in their forties. (Who look then much older with a beard *insert eye roll emoji*)

Anyway, my preferences aside, I was thinking the other day, as I was editing my latest novel, do readers prefer the heroes to be clean shaven or with facial hair?

I write all my heroes clean-shaven, basically because I prefer my men clean-shaven. Nothing like kissing a freshly shaved face. Lips softer, less grazing, and usually the smell of soap or aftershave... mmmm.... I don't want my heroine, like me, left with stubble rash and a red raw face.

So readers, when you're reading romance - do you like your heroes clean-shaven? Or have you not thought about it before? I'd love to know your preferences.

And romance writers - do you write your heroes with or without facial hair?

And I'd love to know how you combat kissing a man with stubble in reality! So tell me your secrets!

(On this note it will give me an excuse to post two pictures of Tom... clean or stubble?

Do you have a celebrity you prefer clean or not?)

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Photos From The Weston Literary Festival

This Is What A Romance Writer Looks Like! 


It's been a week since Fay Keenan, Jan Ellis, Alison Knight and myself sat in front of an audience and discussed our writing methods, our inspirations and how we deal with negative reviews etc.

Sadly, the snow started falling quite heavily around 5pm and so this put some off attending the event. But we had approximately twenty people listening intently, and asking great questions! It was a fabulous night!




These sorts of events really help me recognise to myself that I am a writer, I have had books published. What I do is real!

This event was great for our own self-esteem and confidence about our writing experiences. The evening gave all four of us a real buzz! It was interesting to listen to Alison, Fay and Jan about their methods and preparations for creating a book.




Hopefully the Weston-super-Mare Literary Festival will take place yearly and we'll be on board again! Brilliant fun!

Thank you Zoe Scott for your amazing organisational skills in putting this event together and making it such a success!


Anyway, I've shared some photos of the event.


Sadly, Jenny Kane couldn't make it due to illness. She was missed dreadfully, but hopefully she'll make it next year!




Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Talking Weston Literary Festival on Breeze Radio

With the launch party for the Weston-super-Mare Literary Festival, we held an interview for Breeze Radio to discuss what Jenny Kane, Alison Knight, Jan Ellis, Fay Keenan and myself will be chatting about on Tuesday 27th February!

If you want to hear the interview, click on the link below!

Radio interview on Breeze! 

Next Tuesday is going to be soooo exciting.

Tickets are still available here!


Thursday, 1 February 2018

Weston-super-Mare's First Literary Festival - Not Long Now!


February is here, and you know what that means?

It's the Weston-super-Mare Literary Festival!

I will be on the panel with some fellow romantic novelists on the "This Is What A Romance Writer Looks Like" event. It's Tuesday 27th February, 7pm, at the Blakehay Theatre!

Come say hello to Fay Keenan, Jenny Kane, Alison Knight, Jan Ellis and me! We are all part of the Bath and Wiltshire Romantic Novelist Association's chapter.

I'm so excited about this. I think I've decided what to wear...

The literary festival is running from the 22nd February to the 1st March (World Book Day) with lots of fabulous events. To find out more visit their Facebook page - Weston-super-Mare Literary Festival. 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Oh, January....

I thought of this as I was running my 5K today. It was cold, and I was thinking how I couldn't wait for the warmer weather to arrive. A dog walker laughed at me as I passed, saying to her, "Lord knows why I'm doing this..."

But I told myself this was me, making myself fitter, stronger and healthier for 2018. If I was taught anything from last year, you just don't know what real life is going to throw at you, and I want to make sure I'm at my strongest mentally and physically when I receive the next curve ball.

However, trying to be clean in January is practically impossible, as I still have chocolate hanging around, and cheese and biscuits, and cake. I don't like wasting food. I can't just throw it out - besides some of it belongs to the boys!

I'm trying to be good, but I think I'll be able to make a more concerted effort February, with less chocolate and treats still filling my cupboards. February, I'll try harder at sticking at being clean Monday to Friday. Of course weekends are the 20% naughtiness we're allowed.

Anyway, how's your 2018 going so far? I think it takes a couple of weeks to get back into routine and back on track.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

First Post In 2018

My first blog post for the New Year!

And I've realised I never shared a picture of my scrummy, chocolate Christmas cake!

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and a fun New Year. I spent New Year with a best friend, and we had a giggle, or two, or three...

For my birthday I was given a new diary, which I am using to keep up writing my 3 positives each day. It lives by my bed, so it's the last thing I do before turning off my lamp. Some days are easier than others, but it's amazing, if you dig deep, even the little things each day are all positive.

Like I've said before I don't really do resolutions, but being in the process of reading Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, she's made me focus on the elements important in my life, and I'm going be more conscious of keeping focused on the things that make me happy. Keep dedicated to friendships (and relationships), making time for the people important to me. Making sure I look after myself, physically, which in turn will help with my mental health. (I'm not mad... but I want to stay positive, be stronger minded, more confident.)

I am also going to look into changing my part-time job. Although I enjoy my current job as it fits well around the boys, there are elements of it that make me unhappy, and I've been thinking for a long time now I'd love to give up working Saturdays. I think I've been cradled by the safety net of the company I work for, and because I've been there thirteen years I fear leaving.

I have a few things to look forward to. 27th February is the Weston-super-Mare Literary festival. If you're interested, you can book your tickets here! I'm on the panel of "This is what a romance author looks like." You can follow the Weston Lit Festival Facebook page also!

Also pencilled in the diary is the RNA conference in July and the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards Presentation in March.

Slightly further away are my two holidays! Polzeath in May and Kos in October!

And of course I hope book four gets published this year!

2018 is already so exciting!