Category Archives: Jan’s Posts

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

 

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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

What a month that was!

October? Really? Not that I’m complaining, I love October, but I’m still grinning about what September blessed me with.

In a nutshell:

The paperback release of my debut As Weekends Go, a special moment, not to mention emotional. Tears flowed, as did the laughter, cake and fizz and I was overwhelmed by all the lovely messages I received. I even got a congratulatory retweet from Crystal Palace FC 🙂

Here’s a gorgeous banner my lovely publisher Choc Lit created for me.

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And a second banner by my good friend Laura James along with the fab publication day blog post she and my other fellow Romaniacs  composed for me here: The Romaniacs Blog

 

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Another hugely proud moment was when I learned my novel was being featured on Lovereading UK  as one of its debuts of the month. A Weekly Staff pick too. Double delight!

 

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Cue more fizz & chocolate (naturally!) and the added bonus of sunshine …

 

 

The support and good cheer I received throughout the month from all my writing buddies at Choc Lit and beyond, especially from my fellow Romaniacs, plus lovely readers and bloggers was brilliant.

Here are some guest posts, promo posts and Q&A features I took part in during September – thank you dear bloggers!

Choc Lit Blog ~ Memorable weekends of mine.

Jera’s Jamboree ~ Q&A

Jo Lambert ~ Launch Day promo post.

Linda Hill ~ Guest post on the importance of doing your research.

Whispering Stories ~ Q&A

Being Anne  ~ Guest post on stereotyping & my fictional footballer (plus Anne’s wonderful review of As Weekends Go).

Towards the end of the month I attended an author/blogger meet up in London which gave me a great chance to say hello to faces both new and familiar. A good time was had by all, with much writerly chat and laughter. We were also blessed with glorious sunshine again and a fabulous view of the Regent’s Canal.

All in all,  a month to remember.

Bring on October! 😀

 

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Love Jan  x

 

 

 

 

 

 

One week countdown and an exciting delivery …

 

I have the most enormous grin on my face and it shows no sign of sliding away any time soon.

You see I’ve reached that point where no matter how hard I try to concentrate on writing book 2 or tell myself that I really should be chasing up those research queries, all I can think about is next week’s official paperback release of my debut As Weekends Go.

Even more so now I’ve taken delivery of some copies from my lovely publisher Choc Lit. Honestly, I almost launched myself at the poor courier when I realised what was in the box he was holding.

Here they are, looking all glam and glossy.

 

 

To hold my book in my hands really is a dream come true. Such a sweet moment. One that I will treasure forever.

I’m so looking forward to publication day on September 7th.

I think there may be chocs and fizz aplenty! Enough for us all 😉

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Love Jan  

Exciting news update …

Happy August!  I can’t believe I’m saying that. Where did July scoot off to?

Just a little update as to what’s been happening with me. It’s been all go these past six weeks. With the paperback release of my debut novel As Weekends Go just over a month away, I’ve been preparing some guest posts for various ever-supportive bloggers and answering some brilliant interview questions in preparation for publication day and beyond. I’m  so excited at the thought of seeing my book in print and holding it (no doubt with a small tear in the eye).

I had some fab news when my publisher emailed me to say that I’d made The Bookseller, listed in their new titles : Fiction for September feature.

Here I am, just below Alan Titchmarsh and right of Prue Leith! 😉 Sorry it’s so HUGE and a bit blurred.

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Anyway, I was thrilled.

More exciting still, was learning that, upon reading my novel and loving it, Lisa Jewell, one of my fave authors, has agreed to give me a quote for my paperback. I’ve read and loved all of Lisa’s books, so to know she’d enjoyed my story gave me the biggest lift.

On a different note, I knew my author pictures needed updating, so one Friday in July, my good friend Noreen who also happens to be an ace photographer came over with her camera and we had a mini photo shoot. Once we’d stopped laughing, etc, she patiently snapped away (I’d already told her she’d probably need to take about a hundred pics to get a handful of half-decent ones!) and I was really pleased with the results, not to mention relieved that we had a few to choose from, one of which will go in the paperback.

Here’s a little montage – some serious, some not so …

 

Well, that’s my round-up complete, apart from to say that I’m working hard on the sequel to As Weekends Go. It’s a standalone novel that features a few familiar characters and some newbies too – fresh dilemmas aplenty. 😉

Enjoy August!

Love Jan

x