Well, what a glorious summer we’ve had, eh? My flip-flops waved the white flag when it hit 34 degrees. And now in mid-September, between the storms, the sun’s still occasionally flirting with us.
Weather aside, since my last post in the spring it has felt like the ultimate seesaw ride.
We all celebrated Dad’s 80th birthday at the end of April. He wasn’t feeling 100% but did manage to enjoy a slice of cake.
Soon after this, Dad fell very ill and had to spend some time in hospital having a barrage of tests, scans, you name it, the conclusion being that he will need some medical TLC. Fast forward five months and we’re hopefully about to learn when that will actually be. While Dad has had periods of feeling brighter, and will, in time we’re sure, be fighting fit again, it has really brought home to the whole family how much we love and value both him and Mum and how protective of them we all are.
Amidst the fog of concern, June, July and August did also provide a generous dose of family and friends fun and laughter, including our nephew Andy’s 30th birthday drinks, a sunny day trip to Brighton (remind me to never drink double gin and tonics again!) and cheering on an inspired England in the World Cup (“we love you, Southgate, we do …“)
Briggy and I also ventured to Bournemouth and Poole for a couple of days which did us both the world of good. Sunshine all the way, a sightseeing bus tour plus boat trip, plenty of good food and drinks, a mooch round the harbour and potteries and a lovely B&B in which to rest our weary bones at the end of each day. Bliss!
I’m a huge fan of walking and find it really helps with the dreaded anxiety and flat days. I’ve been on quite a few of the guided London tours via Walks.com . No pre-booking, you just turn up at the specified meeting place (always by a tube station exit), hook up with your knowledgeable, friendly guide and away you go. This summer, I did the Little Venice tour and the Swanky Old Mayfair tour, both of which were thoroughly enjoyable.
This summer also saw my publisher Choc Lit celebrate 9 years in business. Proud to be part of such a friendly, supportive, professional (and in my case, patient!) team.
In August came a short visit to see our Uncle in Grantham (or thereabouts) whose house overlooks a huge field where we did some hare-spotting. I never realised they were THAT big or had such massive ears! We were also treated to this spectacular sunset. UFO-like or what?
More recently, my best friend Clare and I stayed overnight in London near Westminster after a day spent being hurled around in our seats (me shrieking and laughing all the way!) courtesy of ThamesJet.com . Donning our waterproofs and life-jackets, a 50-minute ride saw us take in the sights up close and personal, cameras clicking, until we cleared Tower Bridge whereby we zoomed off, twisting and turning, arms raised in excitement (in Clare’s case) me white-knuckled and gripping the hand rail, daring myself to open my eyes. That said, although I was WAY out of my comfort zone doing this, I’m so glad I did as it was well worth it. Our reward afterwards for being so brave was a nice stroll along the South Bank and a hunk of yummy carrot cake. It was great to spend some quality time with Clare. She’s a gem. Much scoffing and quaffing and hilarious reminiscing.
A few pics …
The bundle of absolute joy that is our great-nephew Henry has us not quite believing that he is already six months old. He’ll be walking and talking before we know it.
A summer awash with blooms I’m glad to report.
Not much writing done, sadly, but it’ll come, I know it will. I’m viewing every paragraph written as a few words nearer to submission day.
Books I’ve read include the following:
Take Me I’m Yours (A Wisconsin Love Story) by Lizzie Lamb ~ As ever with Lizzie’s novels, her wonderful words transport me to a magically vivid setting, in this case, the much-coveted Macfarlane’s Landing in Wisconsin, where I meet a gorgeous go-getting, gutsy heroine – one India Jane Buchanan – and a hero who makes the heart pound … Well hello, Logan Macfarlane … Fast-paced, sizzling chemistry, family feuds and past dramas and secrets that contrive to keep India and Logan apart, with a top cast of supporting characters who all want their say. You won’t be disappointed.
Practical Mindfulness – a step-by-step guide by Consultant Ken. A. Verni, Psy. D. ~ An easy to follow book (with illustrations) for anyone looking to embrace a more mindful approach to life. Offers a wealth of supportive, encouraging tips, examples and exercises to help with anxiety and depression. Well set out, interesting and informative. A guide you can return to as and when the need arises. Very calming.
I have two books I’m planning on reading next, one being Kathryn Freeman’s Oh Crumbs , the other Jessie Cahalin’s debut You Can’t Go It Alone . Both novels have some cracking reviews so I’m looking forward immensely to reading both and reporting back.
Until next time,
Love Jan X
A new month and the health and wellbeing road to recovery marches on with continued appreciation of how lovely, kind and supportive people can be. It saddens me that I’ve been unable to complete my second novel as yet, but that little inner spark of creativity and passion remains, and reading back through what I’ve so far produced of my sequel to As Weekends Go, keeps the flow and gives me great heart that my confidence will return and it’ll all come good.
Now, I’m not even going to attempt to disguise the fact that I adore Christmas. I equally appreciate and respect that it can be a sad time for some people so I hope you’ll forgive me for indulging my love of all things festive. The moment I turned over the calendar and saw this gorgeous feline face staring back at me, I remembered the 1st of the month also meant that I could unveil a calendar of an altogether different type 😉
Big kid? Who me?
November brought lots of family and friend catch-ups which was lovely. As much as I value these get-togethers, I also think it’s important to have 1-2-1 chats as you can more fully discuss topics and news and sometimes open up a bit more.
As Weekends Go featured in a couple of promotions mid-month which resulted in a welcome mini-spike in sales and some wonderful feedback. I also donated a paperback copy in aid of Children in Need via Paddy Heron (known as Fundraiser Paddy on Twitter) who, for the third year running, kindly organised a fabulous author auction showcasing books of all genres for people to bid on. I was proud to support such a worthy cause.
It was a joy to appear again on the brilliantly supportive Jessie Cahalin’s blog. If you’ve not yet visited Jessie’s blog, you’re in for a real treat. She has fun and factual posts and features of all varieties – a real mixture to suit all readers’ tastes. I thoroughly enjoyed creating this piece and a special postcard to present to the readers along with a short extract from As Weekends Go which you can read here ~ BOOKS IN MY HANDBAG BLOG Many thanks to Jessie.
November blooms came courtesy of a dear friend who sent me a stunning festive display of lilies and winter berries. My gem of a sister also bought me a glorious Poinsettia which has pride of place on my Christmas sideboard display. I also wanted to post some gorgeous snaps I took whilst out walking. Nature really is a thing of beauty, eh?!
I mentioned in my previous post that I’d been reading Rose McClelland’s THE YEAR OF NO RULES which I’ve now finished and can report is a sparkling read which very much portrays the joy and importance of recognising and appreciating your self-worth. I loved main character Sasha and rooted for her throughout especially given how manipulative and controlling her boyfriend Kirk could be. Enter lovely, sweet-natured, dependable Sam, a million miles away, personality-wise, from Kirk, who seems the perfect love match for Sasha, but … life’s never quite that simple is it? This book touched my every emotion and deals with some raw, deep and delicate issues but also made me smile and laugh out loud at times. It’s so well written and expressive. I look forward to reading more from this talented author. Enjoy!
I’m currently reading Sue Fortin’s latest thriller THE BIRTHDAY GIRL and a thriller it is too. Halfway through and loving it. More to follow in my next post.
If you love your festive reads I must say Choc Lit have some super choices available. Look at these beauties!
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 …
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.
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
For other buying options click here: https://goo.gl/XVvZmn
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 🙂
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.
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 😀
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,
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!
Love Jan X
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 🙂
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! 😉
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!
Much love to you all.
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.
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
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 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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you February (and a little slice of March!)
Love Jan x
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.
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.
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