Choc Lit Exclusive: An extract from Evonne Wareham’s Summer in San Remo

I’m a huge fan of Evonne Wareham’s writing and with the holiday season in full swing, there is no better time to read this exclusive extract from her latest novel, Summer in San Remo

It’s a gem of a story. Fun with a hint of mystery …

Enjoy!

 

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Blurb

Running her busy concierge service usually keeps Cassie Travers fully 
occupied. But when a new client offers her the strangest commission she’s ever handled she suddenly finds herself on the cusp of an Italian adventure, with a man she thought she would never see again.

Jake McQuire has returned from the States to his family-run detective agency. When old flame Cassie appears in need of help with her mysterious client, who better than Jake to step in?
Events take the pair across Europe to a luxurious villa on the Italian Riviera. There, Cassie finds that the mystery she pursues pales into insignificance, when compared to another discovery made along the way …

****

Cassie knitted her fingers together and stretched her arms above her head, wriggling her neck to work out the kinks. A quick squint at the clock had her blinking. 7.30? Where had the time gone? As if on cue, her stomach rumbled.

Food and sleep. You have an early start in the morning.

 ‘Don’t remind me!’ She looked round guiltily, when she realised she’d said it out loud. The office was empty. The whole building was probably empty. No one to hear you curse. Even if the thought of tomorrow makes you want to. Cassie wrinkled her nose. London – fine. With Jake – not so fine.

She reached out to close down her computer, taking one last look at the screen. The research she’d been doing for the last hour was for herself, not for a client. An idea she’d been meaning to follow up for a while. And nothing to do with trying to prove something to Mr McQuire? She shrugged. It was nothing to do with Jake. Why should his arrival prompt her to make a serious attempt at tracing the errant Jason? And the digging she’d done had been worth it.

She noted the names on her list, with satisfaction, before sending it to print and closing the files. It was a short list, but one that might pay dividends – the names of private gardens on the Riviera that sometimes opened their gates to the public. Jason had once mentioned that his aunt was a keen gardener, very proud of her large garden and collections of rare plants. If she was proud of it, there seemed a good chance she might want to show it off. None of the owners’ names meant anything to Cassie, but a few quick calls in the morning might yield some information she could follow up. If not, you’ll just have to take a trip to the Riviera yourself.

‘Oh, yeah, fat chance. I’d be lucky to afford a trip to Bognor!’

Damn, she was talking to thin air again!

Anyway, in the morning … Cassie groaned, in the act of reaching for her ‘To do’ list. In the morning she’d be miles away from the office. With Jake. Jake and Jason. Two bad apples in a pod. Or did she mean barrel?

Her stomach gave a flutter that had nothing to do with hunger.

She flipped the printout from the machine and switched it off. The trip to London tomorrow would take up most of her day. Just to deliver a package. Tell me again – why are you doing this? Cassie leaned back in her chair, muscles suddenly tense. The job was distinctly iffy, whichever way you looked at it. She knew that – had from the beginning.

So – why?

She chewed her lower lip. Even if the job was genuine, and she was saving Benson’s childhood home from the bulldozers, she was skating on thin ice. If Benson hadn’t made it clear that the collection of the package tomorrow was only a very small part of the conditions he and his wife had to meet, to protect their inheritance, she wouldn’t have considered it. Even for that astonishing amount of money? That you now have to share with Jake?

Cassie chewed her lip harder at the memory of Jake, sprawled so confidently in her visitor’s chair. That chair. She glared at it.  Promising him half the money rather messed up the idea that she would try not to touch Benson’s fee.

Hmm. The money was a matter for another day, and negotiation with McQuire. Now she had to concentrate on getting through tomorrow. She’d committed to the client and the job, and she would carry it through. But what exactly is the job? Do you really believe Benson’s story?

Cassie smoothed her finger along the arm of her chair. That was actually the point – in her heart of hearts, despite Benson’s tears, she didn’t. And if something else was going on, she and Jake were right in the middle of it. Which meant she had to do everything she could to find out what it was. Self-preservation, gathering information on a possible crime – and, she had to admit – rampant curiosity. Three good motives for keeping her wits about her and her eyes open tomorrow.

Cassie sighed. She’d been way too impulsive when she agreed to this crazy assignment. She’d let excitement and the thought of the money cloud her judgement. Benson had probably counted on that. All she could do now was press on, and learn from the experience. At least tomorrow would be the end of her enforced association with Jake. That was one bright spot to look forward to. She wouldn’t need him around any more. He would be going back to the States soon. Then she could investigate Benson without any unwanted distractions. Whatever she found out, she could take it to the authorities herself. She really didn’t need any more help from Jake.

Cassie Travers, ace detective!

Stuffing the list of Riviera gardens into a file marked ‘Fairbrook’ and dropping it into her desk drawer, she set about retrieving her possessions from around her desk – jacket, shoes – she had to feel under the pedestal to locate the left one, cramming it on as her stomach rumbled again, even louder. There was nothing in the fridge at home. She’d have to stop at the shop on her way. Get a ready meal, or something. A ready meal for one. How sad is that?

‘It’s not sad. It’s convenient.’ Cassie stood up, then hesitated, stalled on her way to the door by a sudden wave of uncertainty, and a quick, brutal stab of loneliness. She had masses of friends, including some of her clients. She could ring any one of them this minute, and get an invitation to supper in a heartbeat. But friends aren’t family. Or one special person …

‘Oh for heaven’s sake! You’re not that needy!’ Even so, her hand hovered over the phone. It was a while since she’d called her parents. She couldn’t remember exactly when. Maybe last month?

Somewhere outside a clock struck the hour. At this time of the evening her parents would be out, having drinks and tapas with friends. Or they could be entertaining golfing buddies with cocktails at home, before a late dinner. Not a good time. Making a mental note to try at the weekend, Cassie shouldered her bag. Calls to Spain were probably cheaper then, anyway.

She stepped out into the corridor and secured the door behind her. Maybe she’d forget the ready meal and stop at the chippy instead.

 

Jake stared out over the dark expanse of water. The breeze, whispering through the open windows of the car, held a tang of salt. Lights from shipping in the Channel flickered, breaking up the twilight. Ma was out there, somewhere. Crossing the Bay of Biscay? Or already anchored off some sunshine island, getting ready for a show, or dancing on deck, or whatever other entertainment the cruise ship provided? He’d have to check on the schedule she’d left. She’d be visiting lots of amazing places. Which is good. She deserves it.

Jake frowned. She didn’t need to go alone though. They could have spent some quality time together, just hanging out. But she’d been adamant about it.

He stirred uncomfortably in his seat, a lump gathering in his throat. He swallowed hard. When Ma first mentioned she was having medical tests, it hadn’t sunk in. She’d made it sound like routine stuff.  Even when she’d phoned in the middle of the day, to tell him she was having surgery … It had taken a call from Tony, his oldest friend, to spell it out. His mother could be dying. It had hit him like a rock between the eyes. What a miserable excuse for a son he had been. The lump in his throat rose again. Once he knew how necessary it was, it had proved remarkably easy to drop everything and just walk away. On the way over, on the plane, all he’d been able to think of was the gift she’d given him – of a wonderful childhood; the Christmas treats, birthdays, holidays by the sea – all playing in his mind like a continuous film loop.

And in there too, in the background, in scratchy, jerky black and white, were Benita and Tony … and Cassie.

He’d got to his mother’s bedside right before the operation was scheduled. Had just had time to tell her he loved her, before they wheeled her away. And he’d been there, holding her hand, when she woke. He’d vowed then … Whatever she wanted …

He’d been a bad son. He knew that. Sitting beside his mother’s bed in the hospital waiting for her to wake up after the surgery … What the hell were you thinking, staying in New York all those years? He lifted his hand to rub the corner of his eye. Having come close to losing her, he really hadn’t wanted to let her go away alone, even on a luxury cruise, but he hadn’t wanted to deny her anything either. And then there was all the other stuff …

The whole thing was weird, but he had a chance now to make amends. He’d work it out.

The breeze blew suddenly sharper. With a slight shiver, Jake raised the window a fraction. He wasn’t all that sure why he’d driven out here to the sea. Childhood memories of time spent on the beach below where he was parked? Sandcastles and wave jumping and picnics with Ma – those long days of childhood that always seemed to be full of sunshine?

Hmm. Getting maudlin here. He looked at his watch. It would be after midnight when he got back and then he and Cassie would be off to London.

Cassie …

He let out a long sigh. It was good to be seeing her again. Sure – for some reason she didn’t think so, but he’d win her over. Would Ma approve of him helping her out? He thought she would. Maybe not some of the other stuff, but hooking up with Cassie …

He tapped a finger on the steering wheel. Cassie was … great. A hard worker, real good at her job – but her heart was too big. For a business woman, she was too trusting. That dirt-bag Jason …

When Tony had told him what that shite had done to Cassie and to the business – all but wrecking what she and Benita had worked so hard to build …

Benita hadn’t said much, but he’d gotten the story out of a still indignant Tony – and found out everything he needed to know about the firm, over a few beers. Well, more than a few. And a couple of whisky chasers. He and Tone had been in complete agreement – those women needed someone looking out for them. And Jake was stepping up to the plate. He wasn’t too sure about how much Tony would remember about all that. He wasn’t entirely sure how much he remembered, but Tone was still speaking to him, so he’d not crossed any lines. It hadn’t been too much of a stretch to plant the idea in Benita’s mind that she was always welcome to call on Kings for help, now that he was back. Should the need arise. And with all Cassie’s usual male helpers out of action … And a job that needed a man to complete …Well, stepping up to the plate. Almost a public duty. Spending time with a gorgeous woman and keeping the dirt-bags away. Just about perfect. The Benson thing … He grinned. Cassie needed him.

Hmm. She needs the Benson money. Which you are making her split with you. Yeah – but there would still be enough left to save her business. He’d made sure of that. No woman, least of all Cassie, wanted to feel like a charity case. Their agreement had to look good. And how could he resist going head to head with Cass over the negotiations when she looked so darn cute when she was mad? She needed the money, but she needed him to get the money.

An unexpected chill ran down his back. He cranked the window all the way shut. Any man would want to be needed, right?

Shrugging his shoulders to shake off the chill, he reached out to start the engine.

Of course, once you’ve delivered the package, Cassie will expect the job to be over.

Hah! No way!

Now he’d seen Cassie again, he was planning to go right on seeing her. Which meant that whatever happened tomorrow, the Benson thing wasn’t going to come to an end. That whole inheritance story was enough to make anyone suspicious, let alone someone as curious about her fellow human beings as Cassie. She was a people person. She liked to know what made them tick, which was probably one of the reasons she was good at what she did.

Jake smiled. That was the key. Cassie would be curious about what might lie behind their unusual assignment. With the right kind of encouragement, she’d be ready to investigate.

And, of course, you’ll be right at her side while she does.

‘Perfect.’ The car engine purred into life. ‘Let the good times roll!’

 

If you enjoyed this extract and can’t wait to read more, you can find Summer in San Remo available to purchase on all eBook platforms!

Kindle UK:  https://goo.gl/ghNaks

Kindle US: https://goo.gl/UFqzx8
Kobo: https://goo.gl/vuz1yR

For other buying options click here: https://goo.gl/XVvZmn

 

 

As July joins August …

July began well with our annual trip to the Old Coulsdon village fete. I love this event as it embraces traditional to the max; have-a-go stalls with prizes, you know the type – coconut shy, tombola, guess the name of the giant (and I mean GIANT) Teddy bear. A fab display by the army cadets kept us entertained. There’s a big refreshment hall for when you feel peckish, selling homemade cakes and proper mugs of builders’ tea and generously filled sandwiches of every kind. Children have plenty to keep them occupied including a bouncy castle and a big inflatable slide. Classic cars are on show. There’s even a mini dog show, so basically something for everyone. We love it and several family members usually turn out. We were blessed with sunshine this year, thankfully, and much fun was had by all.

Here are a few pics:

 

 

On the second Monday of the month, my mum, my older sister and I met up in Croydon to go hat and bag shopping as my nephew (big sis’s eldest son) is getting married next April. I’ve already bought my dress, bag and shoes so was very much an extra pair of eyes as they say. Mum and sis have also already bought their outfits but Mum was on the lookout for a matching jacket and with my sister on hat and bag hunt, we set off for a good browse yielding success which meant smiles all round and a cheeky refreshment stop to gather our wits and survey our purchases. We haven’t had a family wedding for quite some time and I’m so excited. No sneak preview snaps, I’m afraid. You’ll have to wait until after the big day! 😉

I was kindly given some theatre tokens for my birthday last year and had been umming and ahhing about which show Mum and I could go and see, when I realised I couldn’t use the tokens to book online, only in person or over the phone. This ruled out many a bargain! I mean, let’s face it, going to the theatre ain’t cheap (even after offsetting tokens!) Anyway, somebody mentioned to me the Churchill Theatre  in Bromley was very nice. I hadn’t thought closer to home and had only really been looking at West End venues. I had a beak online and the Churchill Theatre  had several shows listed that I suspected Mum and I would both like. They also accept tokens so I booked two tickets for us to see Son of  a Preacher Man at half the price we’d have paid to see a show in London. Don’t get me wrong, I love the West End as much as the next person but for the grand total of £12.00 (after redeeming tokens) we weren’t complaining.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve an avid interest in Mindfulness and this month I’ve been taking part in a Free 21-day meditation experience via Oprah Winfrey/Deepak Chopra. Each meditation roughly lasts around twenty minutes, with a little talk from both Oprah and Deepak beforehand, and written reflections afterwards. I can’t tell you how relaxing and beneficial they’ve been. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but for anyone who might be interested, here’s the link should you want to have a little look  Oprah/Deepak  All you do is register and then they inform you via email of any future options to join in. I could listen to Deepak’s voice all day long, it’s that soothing!

On the book front, I’ve been blessed with three new reviews for As Weekends Go  this month, all of which left me with the biggest smile on my face. What was so lovely as well was that all three ladies concerned expressed a desire to read  a sequel which is what I’m currently working on and makes all those days when I’ve cautiously asked myself if I’ve taken the right course of action in drafting a sequel as my second book, so worthwhile. I’m on the right track and can’t wait to share Rebecca and Alex’s fresh dramas with you. Here are the reviews should you fancy a read.

Review 1

Review 2

Review 3

Two events this month made me gasp at where the years have gone. Firstly my eldest nephew’s 29th birthday (I swear he was eight years old five minutes ago!) and then when I met one of my lovely nieces for lunch last Friday. She’s nineteen and as I was sitting across the table from her listening to her stories from university, I couldn’t fathom how fast all five of my nieces and nephews have grown up. It’s crazy!

Here are some old photos of me with all of them, the memories so vivid in my mind they could have been taken yesterday.

 

 

This month’s blooms may not be homegrown but I couldn’t resist showing them to you; some gorgeous gladioli I bought from the supermarket and a glorious lilies and sunflowers bouquet a good friend of mine sent me.

 

 

 

This trio of reads kept me entertained throughout July.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances – much hyped domestic noir type novel that explores the relationship tension between a mother and her only son’s new girlfriend.  Full of mounting tension, jealousy, secrets and lies, I couldn’t decide who I disliked more, the mother or the girlfriend  and really enjoyed it, my only criticism being the OTT Croydon-bashing. (The book’s not set in Croydon but it gets several mentions!) Being a Croydon girl, I accept the town is grim in part, as are countless other towns, but just felt the author overdid it slightly. Not enough to mar my enjoyment though and I’d certainly recommend this book. Kept me turning those pages for sure.

My second read was Lies  by TM Logan –  a fast-paced thriller about an ordinary man whose whole life is turned upside down due to one decision – a sort of Sliding Doors premise –  only poor Joe (main character) lurches from one sticky situation to another, whereby he’s trying to convince people around him that what is happening to him isn’t real but harsh evidence is very much suggesting otherwise.  (I can’t say too much as it’ll spoil it, you’ll see what I mean though if you read the book!). Twisty and suspenseful throughout.

My third read I’ve just finished is called Summer in San Remo  It’s by Evonne Wareham and it’s a gem of a read. In stark contrast to the above novels it’s light-hearted in tone, a feel-good book but one that also deals with some quite emotional issues. I loved Cassie, the main character. She co-runs a concierge service with her friend and receives the strangest, most mysterious commission from a client that sends her off to the Italian Riviera with a gorgeous side-kick you’ll love. Whilst there she encounters a harsh reminder of her past. The glam setting and descriptions put me right in the heart of the story and with some laugh out loud moments plus some really likeable characters (and one or two not so nice ones) it gets a big thumbs up from me.

 

 

Much Love,

Jan  X

As June meets July …

Blimey, if I thought May went quickly, June positively whizzed by. A busy old month to say the least.

With all the current sad and scary news on the TV, it was joyous to see this beauty on the first Sunday of the month. You’ve never seen me move so fast with my camera to capture it. A rainbow of royal proportions if ever I saw one.

 

In between the sunshine and showers, Mr B and I thought we’d sort out our garden. We’d neglected it a bit so had a mass mowing, pruning and weeding session and could actually admire what was in it.

These lovelies for instance …

On the 14th, my best friend Clare and I trundled up to Waterloo for an afternoon of pampering courtesy of a generously gifted voucher I’d received from a friend some months earlier. Destination Mandara Spa  at the Park Plaza Hotel near Westminster Bridge.

Ooh it was divine!

I had a lovely shoulder back and neck massage, Clare had a facial and after lazing round the indoor pool in our robes and braving a stint in the steam room, followed by some light refreshments, we emerged relaxed and refreshed and extremely grateful for the experience. We also had the bonus of a bright sunny day.

Talking of sunshine, the temperature climbed and climbed …

This little lot well and truly came out of hibernation!

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Mid-month also saw my wonderful publisher Choc Lit  celebrate its 8th birthday. I created this little banner to go with all the fab messages and comments and all round good cheer that ensued online in recognition of their success.

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Then came Father’s Day. We spent a delightful day with my parents who came to us for a meal and some fizz (there may have been a few sweets flying around as well! 😉 ) I love this pic of Dad taken a few years ago in Spain in one of his many hats.

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Mr B had the last two weeks of June off work. We hadn’t booked a holiday, but with the weather being so glorious, we made the most of it and had one or two days out, including a day trip to Brighton. We did all the usual fun stuff, sat on the beach, a walk along the pier, fish and chips, a stroll round the Lanes, ice creams, amusements. It was great! I swear in all the dozens of times I’ve been to Brighton, I have never seen the sea this colour. It looked stunning.

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Here’s a few more pics I took.

 

On Saturday 24th I proudly attended a Workshop entitled ‘Moving from a Worrier to a Warrior’ organised and run by my lovely friend Clare, a fully qualified Confidence & Empowerment Coach, the aim of the event being to teach us ‘over-worriers’  some brilliantly helpful techniques to help banish those inner fears and frets. It’s amazing how the language we use can influence our thoughts and behaviour. I learned so much and took away some valuable tools with me to introduce into my everyday life that will, I’m sure, help me tremendously with my over-thinking and analyzing. Clare’s hoping to run a similar workshop later this year, so I will keep you posted.

Here she is in full flow!

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The team at Choc Lit informed me that As Weekends Go  had been selected for the KOBO  UK Super Summer Sale which was welcome news. I’m always very appreciative of any promotions, and it gave my book a little boost. Anything that helps widen my circle of readers can only be a good thing. I’m still receiving some fab messages and reviews which makes working on the sequel a little less daunting, so once again, a HUGE thank you from me to you 🙂

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Mr B and I rounded off the month with a trip to London. We set off for Notting Hill Gate, and walked down to Holland Park  which, if you have never been, is well worth a visit for the beautiful foliage alone, not to mention a lovely cafe with outside seating, exotic feature gardens, peacocks and plenty of space to sit and watch the world go by. We walked round the entire park and then headed off along Earl’s Court Road on a slow mooch back to Victoria Station, taking in the King’s Road, Sloane Square and the grandeur of Belgravia on the way.

Not that we were envious or anything …

Some pics from our day.

 

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We also crossed this road. Couldn’t resist snapping a shot of the sign. Quite fitting what with Father’s Day earlier in the month 😀

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Reading-wise this month, I finished Lizzie Lamb’s Girl In The Castle   which I thoroughly enjoyed. A great heroine in Dr Henriette Bruar who we meet en route to a remote Scottish castle to register the contents of its library. The history and Gaelic references Lizzie includes in the book add sparkle and authenticity to the story. A gorgeous hero in Keir Mackenzie and a brilliantly created cast, including cantankerous ferryman and manservant, Lachlan, whose spats with Aunt Alice, the housekeeper, had me, at times , in stitches, bring the story alive. Lots of conflict as the castle’s secrets and discoveries unfold, as do the secrets and troubles of the characters themselves. All in all a top read.

I also read Lisa Hill’s Meet Me At Number Five , a belter of a debut that has the perfect blend of romance, wit, drama and ‘reach for the tissues’ moments, with some really emotive subjects covered. Set in the horse racing world, we meet a lively array of characters with a baddie you’ll love to hate. I especially loved Clara, the no-nonsense, ‘say it how it is’ grandmother. Well done, Lisa! More please 🙂

 

Much love to you all,

Jan  X

Big Cheer for Choc Lit – 8 great years!

It’s a very special day for my lovely publisher Choc Lit   they are celebrating their eighth birthday. I’m very proud to be part of the family and want to give a huge celebratory cheer of thanks to the whole team for all your hard work and support for us authors and our books.

There will be fun, prizes and, no doubt, chocs aplenty all day over at Choc Lit HQ, so be sure to keep an eye on the tweets/Facebook and join in the celebrations.

Here’s to another fab year!

 

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Love Jan X

As May meets June …

May’s a month of merriment in our family. Birthdays galore. My niece, my brother-in-law, my nephew’s girlfriend, and last but most definitely not least, lovely Mr B, who’s never been one for fuss and fanfare around his special day, but I still spoil him!

It fell on a Friday this year and our original plan to go out for some tapas at a nearby restaurant fell flat when he didn’t arrive home from work until later than planned.

So … we had a takeaway and a bottle of fizz instead, both of which were delicious 🙂

 

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Happy Birthday, Mr B!

May also welcomed two new arrivals at Brigden Towers. No, not those sort of new arrivals … a nice new matching two-seater sofa & sofa bed. Our old ones, bless them, were so creaky and sunken,  you needed a stepladder to climb out!

They did us proud, but as the old saying goes, all good things come to an end.

Here’s a pic of the replacements.

 

 

Amidst all the birthdays and sofa deliveries, I gave my first author talk this month as part of a panel on behalf of our publisher Choc Lit who are touring various libraries across the country. I hardly slept the two nights beforehand, I was so nervous, but am happy to report that all went well, mainly thanks to the love & support and encouraging words from Mr B, my family and friends. I wrote a detailed post for our Romaniacs blog Life Cycle of a Writer feature which is here, should you fancy a read ~ The jitters and joys of my first author talk

Here’s a snapshot of our afternoon in pictures. We were in Southampton and had a great audience. Plenty of chocolates too! 😉

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I also featured on two blogs in May, one was a Q&A post with lovely Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group which you can read here ~ Q&A LOVEBOOKSGROUP

The other fab blog I appeared on was Annette Hannah’s Sincerely Book Angels. She has a great feature called My Favourite Things. Here are mine ~ My Favourite Things

I’ve been working hard on my sequel to As Weekends Go, so didn’t manage much reading in May. I have, however, just started reading independent author Lizzie Lamb’s new book entitled Girl in the Castle. I’m a huge fan of Lizzie’s writing and am happy to report that I’m six chapters in and thoroughly enjoying it. I shall give more details in my next update!

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Much love to you all.

Jan  X

April Round-up ~ News, Views & Reviews

April ushered itself in with sunshine which was very welcome as we’d planned a family gardening day at Mum and Dad’s which proved a roaring success even if I did catch the sun and end up with a nose like a cherry tomato. It was also my first experience at using a Jet Wash. I think there may have been more water in next door’s garden then on the patio I was supposed to be blasting clean. Let’s just say it took me a little while to perfect my technique. 😉 All I do know is, for the next few days my muscles felt as though they were having a tug of war with each other. Keen gardeners, I applaud you!

My aches and pains were soothed beyond belief a few days later when I received the loveliest tweet from a reader who said she’d loved As Weekends Go and went on to write me the most fabulously detailed review that left me beaming with joy for days. Have a look at this. It’s a belter!  ~ AWG REVIEW

In my last post I mentioned my lovely publisher was embarking on a tour of the libraries, starting with Exeter which was a huge success. I’m attending the next event in Southampton (May 20th) and really looking forward to it. Here are some of the goody bags that were given out last time.

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On that note, I decided it was about time I ordered myself some promotional bookmarks which are always good to hand out should anyone show an interest in your novel. I placed an order via https://www.solopress.com/ (100 bookmarks for £25!) having sought the technical help from my good buddy and fellow Romaniacs blogger Sue Fortin – thank you, Sue! Well, they came within a week and here they are. I’m really pleased with them.

 

 

Easter Weekend was fun – we gathered at my younger sister’s house on the Sunday and had FAR too much chocolate (considering I’d been nibbling on these beauties for two days prior and still had more chocs saved for Easter Monday!).

 

 

 

Another top trio of reads this month. The first hasn’t actually been published yet but is due out very soon indeed. It’s a gem of a novel about three first-time mums and it’s by one of my The Romaniacs buddies (that’s all I’m going to say for now!) It’s contemporary and is going to be very popular. You’ll love it!

My second read was Lynda Stacey’s Tell Me No Secrets which kept me riveted throughout. Suspense, great characters, wit and a healthy dose of romance. I rooted for Kate (the main character) throughout and loathed her boyfriend Rob who will set your teeth on edge for sure. The backdrop of a private investigating company adds a bit of spice and intrigue. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also read I Am The Secret Footballer which I’d been wanting to do for ages, having read the odd snippet here and there. I have my own fictional footballer in As Weekends Go and so enjoyed my research into the beautiful (and not so beautiful) game and this book held a wealth of equally helpful information. Very well written, candid, entertaining and eye-opening to say the least. Well worth a read if you love your footie.

 

Thank you, April.

Love Jan X

As March marches off …

I’ve lost count of how many times over the past three months I’ve said the words, “I sound like a broken record”.  I mean, APRIL already? I adore Spring, the blossoms, the daffs, the start of lighter evenings, Easter weekend (plus the choccies, of course!) but seriously, wasn’t Christmas five minutes ago?

 

Anyway, welcome April.

Practically my whole family and a fair few friends have birthdays in March/April/May so I’ve been buying cards aplenty. We celebrated Mother’s Day too, not me personally, but with my lovely mum. Mr B and I de-camped to my parents place, bearing gifts, and we cooked a lovely roast beef dinner for mum and dad with all the trimmings. It was a beautifully warm day in south London and outside my parents kitchen door is a suntrap, so after our food fest we planted our seats and grabbed some much-needed rays (a bonus in March for sure!).

In other news, my lovely publisher Choc Lit announced they were going ‘on tour’ to do some Library events, starting with Exeter on the 8th of this month, with further days planned including one in Southampton Library  and one in Stockton. I will be attending the Southampton one along with several other members of Team Choc Lit, and am thoroughly looking forward to it. It’ll be great to meet readers and writers, all very informal and fun, so hopefully I will see some of you there.  On the day, there will even be a chance to pitch your manuscript to our editor/s. You can buy tickets in advance – more details here ~ CHOC LIT ON TOUR

 

CHOC LIT ON TOUR

Choc Lit also had a stand at this year’s London Book Fair and I couldn’t resist showing you a pic. Gloriously bright & welcoming, eh? They had sweets to dish out as well!

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March Reads ~ A fab quartet of  books kept me thoroughly entertained , two of which are by my fellow Romaniacs bloggers and are yet-to-be-published and  completely different in genre, one a dark and brilliantly atmospheric and suspenseful tale, the other a delightful yarn that had me belly-laughing, the main character being a lady who will have you in stitches. You’ll love her!

The third story I read was Jane Lovering’s new book  Little Teashop of Horrors  I’m a massive fan of Jane’s writing and always feel as though I receive all the best elements a story can offer when I read her books;  loveable, relatable, quirky characters, laughs aplenty, fab settings and thought-provoking themes. Bravo, Jane! Another winner, I’m sure.

The fourth book I had my nose buried in during March was The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner, a must-read for any budding authors out there. I’d initially consulted it when I was on draft three of As Weekends Go. What I love about this book is the way Betsy gets right to the heart of all those doubts and fears you have about your writing. Every question answered in such detail and with such care, from submitting your manuscript right through to the editing stage and beyond. A really well written reference book, with lots of entertaining stories and anecdotes thrown in.

 

Thank you, March!

Love Jan X

 

As February meets March …

February started fabulously. Much cheering and dabbing of eyes upon hearing that my lovely eldest nephew and his equally lovely fiancee had set their wedding date for next year. Cue lots of “it hardly seems possible” speak, whilst gazing at photos of said nephew aged three years old and genuinely wondering where the years had scampered off to.

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Ten days in and I’d been hoping my faithful, toasty sparkle boots and fleece might not be required quite so much but then as I sat there mithering on about the smattering of snowflakes fluttering past my window, I reminded myself of the weather we’d had three years previously.

Eeek!

Now that’s what I call snow!

Our neighbour at the time was a born prankster and caught me out good and proper with his ‘alternative’ snowman. I kid you not, I almost fainted when I walked up our communal steps and saw the image on the right staring at me. Good times for sure 😀

 

Feb continued to bring much needed and much appreciated cheer when I learned that As Weekends Go was on my fave author Lisa Jewell’s list of books she’d read and enjoyed in 2016. A proud moment for sure.

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The pic that accompanied Lisa’s blog post. There I am, second from top, middle column! 🙂

 

The writers’ group I belong to  ~ The Romaniacs ~ celebrated five years of blogging this month. A supportive, loving, super-talented bunch of gals I’m proud to call my buddies.

 

On Valentine’s Day, Mr B cooked me a beautiful meal. I love him with all my heart.

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Three weeks in, I had a lovely message from a lady on Facebook to say she’d spotted my book in Bexleyheath Library, promptly borrowed it, and later reported back that she thoroughly enjoyed it.

The last week of Feb/beginning of March proved a little challenging as I pulled a muscle which seemed to affect my rib, shoulder blade and chest wall – ouch – and left me lying on the sofa for the best part of four days, frustrated and forlorn, especially as my Dad was in hospital following an operation and I couldn’t get to see him. Happy to now report that both Dad and my muscle are on the mend.

Pancake Day came and went with a whimper at Brigden Towers. Probably just as well as last years’s efforts were woeful . I don’t know what I did wrong, given there’s not much you can muck up, but me and pancakes are definitely not a winning team …

Following the ‘Bexleyheath’ sighting of As Weekends Go, a friend of a friend spotted my book in the Hilton Chennai, snapped its picture and kindly sent these over via email.

Talk about brighten my day!

 

Finally, I’m steadily moving on with my sequel/standalone to As Weekends Go and feel much happier with it, more passionate and excited which is such a relief as I’d seriously worried that the ‘want & the will’ had packed their bags and waved me off for good. Now, instead of beating myself up for not writing as many words in a day as I’d like, I tell myself that any words on that page are another step towards the finish. I’m loving the way the storyline is progressing, so long may that continue. Well, not too long … I actually want to submit it at some point. You get my drift though. 😉

 

February Reads ~ This delightful duo definitely get the thumbs up 🙂

The Breakthrough Experience by Dr John F. Demartini ~ I confess this was a re-read and as intriguing second time around. It’s about breaking through barriers in different areas of your life, balancing the positives and negatives and can be quite intense at times, scientific, even,  but it definitely changed my perspective on a few things. Some good exercises to follow too. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (what book is?) but will certainly make you think.

The Thief’s Daughter by Victoria Cornwall ~ a terrific romantic ‘against all the odds’ tale of 18th century Cornish smugglers, fraught with dangers, temptation, heartache and brilliant characters and dialogue. A top debut.

 

* I couldn’t end this post without paying a little tribute to Jo Skehan, a lovely lady who sadly passed away on March 1st. Jo and I were firm frends on Facebook and although we never actually met one another in person, we shared many a laugh (Jo’s jokes were legendary!). Jo was a superb writer too. She will be sadly missed. 

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Rest in peace, Jo x

 

 

Thank you February (and a little slice of March!)

Love Jan x

As January ends …

Blimey, blink and you miss it sums up my January. I swear it was only a couple of days ago Mr B and I  saw in 2017 with our friends down the pub over a few glasses of fizz while the spectacular fireworks  lit up the London skyline on the TV behind us.

It’s been an up and down old month and although I’m pleased and relieved to have rediscovered my writing passion, I’m still behind where I wanted to be with Book 2 – my follow on from As Weekends Go. Life doesn’t always play ball, as they say, but I’m a huge believer in the ‘everything happens for a reason‘ theory and about the importance of timing, so on we go.

Having said  all that, any words on the page are better than nowt, so that has to be a positive and with each new chapter of Book 2 written, my excitement grows at the thought of submitting it and (fingers, toes and anything else crossable crossed) eventually seeing it side by side with my debut novel.

I had some lovely news from my publisher this month in that I and several other of my fellow Choc Lit authors had been selected for the Kobo UK New Voices in Fiction promotion. The effect on downloads had me jumping up and down. At its best As Weekends Go flew high at number 2 in Contemporary Romance, number 12 overall in Fiction & Literature.

Thank you, Kobo, Choc Lit and dear readers.

 

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I’d joked with Mr B that I was going to run around the block in my sparkle boots to celebrate but then looked out of the window early that morning and saw this …

 

Maybe not …

I do love the snow but the ‘soft, thick easy to walk in‘ variety, not the ‘turns to ice the minute it hits the pavement‘ kind.

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The famous sparkly boots!

 

January Reads 🙂 This terrific trio kept me thoroughly entertained.

One Dark Lie by Clare Chase – a mystery about the unexplained death of a Cambridge academic. Lots of secrets, action and a lovely dose of romance made this a top read for me.

Fur Coat & No Knickers  by Adrienne Vaughan – A fab selection of  engaging short stories, some adventurous, some romantic, some mysterious, all featuring characters who left me wanting more. Some great poetry included too.

Search Inside Yourself  by Chade-Meng Tan – I’m a big fan of mindfulness and meditation and anything that aids both mental and, in turn, physical wellbeing. I found this book both interesting and informative. Easy to follow too, unlike some mindfulness books that occasionally stray into the ‘too technical or scientific to fathom‘ bracket ( for me anyway!) Some good exercises to practice too.

 

 

Thank you, January!

Love Jan x

 

Thanking you and wishing you a very merry Christmas!

It’s no secret that I love Christmas. Our flat looks like a grotto, I still have an advent calendar (I know!), and I attend the carol concert every year even though I can’t sing for toffee! 😀

I know Christmas and New Year can be an emotional time, sometimes for happy reasons, sometimes for sad, and that not everybody relishes the festivities, so I hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing this Christmas, you find some comfort.

May 2017 bring us all peace, good health, love and laughter.

Thank you all for your wonderful support for me and my novel this year. I truly appreciate it and value your friendship.

 

Please take one and pass them round! 🙂

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Merry Christmas!

Love Jan x