The Promise – Cover Reveal!

Exciting times! I can now reveal the fantastic cover of my forthcoming grip-lit novel, The Promise, to be published 28th January 2018.
Ta Dah!

The Promise by Sally Jenkins

As yet, the back cover is not finalised but the proposed ‘blurb’ is:

A man has been stabbed. A woman is bloodstained. The nightmares have begun again for Olivia Field.
Ex-convict, Tina is terminally ill. Before she dies, the care of her younger brother must be ensured. She calls in a promise made thirty years ago in a prison cell.
Tina’s terrible blackmail demands put Olivia’s entire future and, ultimately, her freedom under threat.
“Jenkins spins a web of intrigue” – Judith Cutler

At this point I’d like to give a very grateful shout-out to two of the very few people who have read the book so far:

Womag writer, Sharon Boothroyd acted as my beta reader and gave valuable feedback on the parts of the story where what was in my head didn’t quite make it on to the page. Thank you for your patience and constructive comments, Sharon!
Prolific series crime writer, Judith Cutler read The Promise and gave me a great shout line for the front cover, ‘Jenkins spins a web of intrigue’. Thank you for making time in your busy schedule to read my book, Judith.

The Promise is now available for paperback pre-order, either from Amazon, Waterstones and other book shops or direct from The Book Guild. Why not treat yourself and get a lovely, brand new, first edition (!) paperback book through the post in the dark days of January?

Alternatively, leave me your email address and I’ll send you a reminder about the publication date in January and let you know when the e-book editions become available (should be the new year too).

And if any of you bloggers out there would be willing to host a guest post/interview spot around January 28th or into February 2018 please get in touch. I would be grateful for any help with publicity! I can be emailed at sallysjenkins ‘at’ btinternet.com (replace ‘at’ with @).

Thank you all for sticking with me over the years.

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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell

The brilliant thing about book clubs is the encouragement and opportunity to read books outside your comfort zone – that’s how I found myself reading The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

It’s a thick book written over 100 years ago and viewed by some as a classic. It has much to say in favour of socialism and the edition I read had an introduction by Tony Benn. However it is possible to push the politics to one side and read it as a piece of social history.

The story centres around a group of painters and decorators living in poverty. They are in and out of work depending on the season and very badly treated by their rich, fat cat employers. Health and safety is non-existent and this is long before the safety net of the welfare state and the NHS. The book follows these wretched men and their families over a twelve month period, contrasting their circumstances with those of their bosses.
I found the first chapter hard going – there were far too many characters introduced all at once. But I persevered and the subsequent chapters focused in on individuals which made the going easier. I became fond of Owen, the deep thinker of the group, and young Bert, who worked for nothing in an exchange for an ‘apprenticeship’ which taught him only the skills of being a dogsbody. I also felt for their wives, who often went without food so that their children and husband could eat.

Verdict: It took me three weeks to read the book and only 30% of the book club members stuck with it all the way through. It made me incredibly glad that I wasn’t born 100 years earlier into a society that had to live hand to mouth. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is not a ‘good’ read but I’m very glad I’ve read it – in the same way that I’m often very glad I’ve been to the gym even though pounding the treadmill or doing sit-ups was not a good experience.

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What’s Your Theme?

Having a theme for a novel or story is something I’ve always struggled with. I can cope with the internal and external conflicts that a character must have and the plotting of the ‘journey’ each character must go on, in order to emerge, changed in some way, at the end of the tale. The theme is something much bigger but also much simpler than all of this other detail. The theme will not be mentioned explicitly in the story but will occur and reoccur subtly throughout the narrative in the actions of your characters. The theme will generally be something to do with being human, for example growing old, maternal love or keeping secrets.

I don’t believe it’s necessary to have the theme before starting a fiction project because often it will evolve organically. For example you may notice that your characters are all motivated by greed, be it in slightly different ways, maybe one is greedy for money but another is greedy for fame and attention.

So what made me start thinking about theme?

A friend of mine, children’s author Lorraine Hellier sent me a useful link to an article on theme on the Reedsy blog. The article compares the structure of a novel to an iceberg split into three sections:

  1. Plot i.e. the events of the narrative. This is the smallest part of the structure.
  2. Story i.e. internal and external character conflicts.
  3. Theme. This is the huge chunk of iceberg beneath the water and drives both the plot and the story.

I’ve found this a useful concept to muse on as I ponder over what should happen next or how a character should act/react in my current WIP.

Knowing your theme makes it much easier to tell others what your book is about. Instead of delving into the detail of the plot, start with a sentence on the theme, for example, “It’s about how power corrupts.” (Animal Farm by George Orwell)

Why not take a look at the Reedsy article and let me know what you think?

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Book Bonanza September 13th to 17th

A lovely group of indie authors has got together to offer a cross-platform e-book 99p/99c special offer – and they have very kindly invited me to join them with the psychological thriller Bedsit Three.

There are more than 75 books on offer across 13 genres, such as Fantasy, Romance, Action and Thriller. And the great thing is they are ALL reduced to 99c/99p. Unusually, this isn’t just a Kindle special offer. Many of the books are available across multiple platforms such as Apple, Nook, Inktera and Smashwords.

Take a look at the 99c Book Bonanza Page and try a new genre or a new author. But do it today – the offer finishes September 17th 2017!

 

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28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead

When I’m working on the first draft of something, I go for speed. There’s no time to ponder the best word – I just want to get to the end of the story before I forget what’s supposed to happen next!

However, as I work my way back through the manuscript, editing and re-writing, I realise that I’ve used the same words over and over again. This is not good and I have to start thinking of alternatives. That’s when an infograhic like the one below comes in useful and gets the grey cells checking out other suitable words.

(By the way I’ve previously posted about 200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of Good and 128 Words to Use Instead of Very.)

The below infographic kindly supplied by Donna Norton of Custom Writing.

 

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Achieve Your Writing Goals

Back in May I went on a day course in London run by the very successful Joanna Penn and Orna Ross entitled How to Make a Living (and a Life) from Writing. 
We covered lots of topics to do with writing, publishing, money, income streams etc and I came away inspired. Needless to say, these things take time and I’m not yet (!) making a living from writing. However, I wanted to tell you about one very simple but motivating exercise that we did.

At the end of the day each course participant was given a sheet of paper and asked to note down their writing goals for the next three months. We were also given a stamped envelope, asked to address it to ourselves and put our sheet of writing goals inside. Joanna and Orna collected the envelopes, stored them for three months and then posted them.

My list of goals arrived through the letterbox a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t remember exactly what targets I’d set myself (they’d been written at the end of a long day when I was full of enthusiasm for everything I’d just learned) so I was prepared to see a list of over-ambitious stuff I hadn’t done. But there was a nice surprise – all three goals had been achieved:

  • Started the publishing process for my second grip-lit novel, The Promise.  At the time I wrote this goal the novel was under consideration by The Book Guild and I’d decided that if they turned it down I would embark on the self-publishing route rather than join the masses knocking at every agent’s door. Happily, The Book Guild felt The Promise had commercial potential and I’ve now seen the cover (it will be revealed it in a later post), had a lovely endorsement by crime writer Judith Cutler and had the typeset proofs. Publication day is 28th January 2018!
  • Create a boxed set of my three short story collections in e-book and paperback format. Done and blogged about. The proof (should you need it) is on Amazon and Kobo in the form of A Coffee Break Story Collection : 36 Short Stories
  • Update Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners to reflect the lessons learned as I created the paperback version of the boxed set and also to include other changes in KDP since I’d last updated the book. A tick for that one as well! The updated book is now available.

Last weekend I exchanged my next set of goals with my writing buddy, Helen Yendall (we managed to talk writing for 4 hours – can you believe that?!) and we’ll meet again in November to see how we did.

Do you make goals? How do you make yourself accountable?

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Two Free Short Story Competitions

Need something to gee you up and encourage the writing muse? Try one (or both!) of these free, themed short story competitions.

Vanda ‘n’ Linda’s Write Space Competition

Vanda Inman and Linda Lewis are looking for 500 word stories inspired by the photo on their website.
First prize is your choice of module from Vanda’s Short Story Success writing course. Second prize is either a critique of a short story of up to 2000 words or a copy of Linda’s book, The Writer’s Treasury Of Ideas (UK only).
Closing date is 31st August.

Words Magazine Short Story Competition

Words Magazine wants up to 2,000 words on the theme of ‘Murder’.
First prize is £50. Second prize is £25.
Closing date is 31st December.

Good Luck!

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