I kept trying to pen a news blog prior to this. January and February flew past and as with my novel writing, the will and the want were there but sadly I couldn’t convey any actual words, or at least the right words.
Having finally opened up over the last few months to my loving family and closest friends, my patient supportive publisher and equally supportive GP that I’d been struggling to cope, the relief has been enormous and as much as it sometimes feels a bit two-steps-forward- three- steps- back , the mixture of medication and therapy, including a confidence workshop, has given me some clarity about my priorities going forward. It’s a work in progress as we say in the writing world but one that I’m hopeful is moving in the right direction.
What has been fabulous about 2018 so far is the catalogue of uplifting family events and celebrations we’ve enjoyed.
A special birthday for Mum kicked off the month of March in style and although we were thwarted by the snow and ice that day, we made up for it at the weekend with a lovely family lunch and much cake and fizz.
Mid-March saw the arrival of our dear little great-nephew, Henry David, and I know I’m biased but take a look at this beautiful face!
So wonderful for Mum and Dad to become Great Grandparents in their Diamond wedding anniversary year. 60 glorious years. Such an achievement and a congratulatory card from Her Majesty the Queen which thrilled them both. We’re all so proud of them.
Naturally, we celebrated this momentous occasion with a great gathering at my younger sister Karen’s with family and friends, a delicious spread of food, bubbly aplenty and lots of laughter. Mum and Dad received some delightful gifts and cards including a fantastic memory book our niece put together with written contributions and photos from all the family, some funny, some sentimental, but all created with love and gratitude for the influence and impact they have both had on us all.
April brought more excitement with a glorious family wedding to celebrate the marriage of our lovely Nephew Andy and his beautiful bride Alison. What a great day we had. Dressed in our finest threads and willing the weather to be fine, which it was, the venue and setting were superb ~ Surrey National Golf Club ~ and with an evening reception to match, I haven’t danced so much in ages and it was good to catch up with people we hadn’t seen for a while. A triumph of an occasion for sure.
We’ve still some celebrations to come with a big special birthday looming for Dad at the end of April which I shall report back on next time round.
I’ve not done much reading lately but two books I did want to mention, one fiction one non-fiction, are the following:
That Summer At The Seahorse Hotel by Adrienne Vaughan ~ The title alone made me want to dive into the story. Adrienne’s talent for creating engaging, entertaining characters, some of them warm, some witty, some wonderfully wacky, but all memorable, gets stronger with every book she writes. The stunning Irish setting and grandeur of the family home holds lots of hopes, fears and secrets and the drama, whether recounted from the past or firmly in the present, never lets up as each story thread unravels. Loved it!
Clarity by Jamie Smart ~ A lesson in how to de-clutter the mind in order to reduce stress levels, improve confidence and to think and communicate more clearly. It’s one of those books which I read straight through without trying to analyze every detail as I went and found so inspiring and helpful it really brought home to me how your thoughts can control you and leave you either dwelling on past events you cannot change or pondering the future to the point where you can miss out on appreciating the present. Something about the simple, non-baffling way the writer of this book explained things really resonated with me.
A bevy of blooms I’ve delighted in these past few weeks, some sent to me, some observed, some bought, all of them loved and appreciated …
Well, that’s all for now. I told you lots had been happening.
Until next time.
With much love,
I confess I love all things Christmas, from the festive foliage, to the decorations, to the advent calendar (no, you didn’t read that wrong!) to the carols and good cheer our family get togethers always bring.
I also fully appreciate that both Christmas and New Year can be a very emotional time, sometimes for happy reasons, sometimes for sad, and that not everybody relishes the festivities.
I hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing this Christmas, you find peace and some comfort.
May 2018 be peaceful, healthy and filled with love & laughter for us all.
Thank you all for your wonderful support for me, my blog and my novel this year. I truly value it along with your friendship.
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
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
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! 🙂
Love Jan x
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.
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
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!
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! 😀
Love Jan x
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 😉
Love Jan x
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.
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. 😉
In tribute to my fabulous award-winning publishing team, here are seven fab things I love about Choc Lit.
1~ The name. Choc for chocolate and Lit for literary. Who could fail to smile at that delicious combo? I mean, books and chocs? Heaven!
2~ The logo. Warm, welcoming and instantly recognisable. Love it!
3~ The team at head office and beyond who offers its readers and bloggers such variety, some darker issues, others lighter, but all with romance at heart. And to its authors, from manuscript submission to editing to publication day and thereafter, that family feel, passion for our books and professionalism.
4~ Those stunning covers. I’ve had so many compliments about mine and heard so many people raving about others too. Big cheer for our very special designer Berni Stevens Lucky us!
5~ Camaraderie and encouragement among the authors. Lotsa love, laughter and literary cheerleading and advice.
6~ The Tasting Panel ~ a dedicated team of independent readers who assess each manuscript. We also now have our Choc Lit Stars; fans of our work who help spread the word about us.
7~ Choc Lit Spread ~ our online magazine packed full of news, views, comps and fab deals. And our Choc Lit treats – short stories published online by our various authors, all with that taste of romance running through them.
I could go on and on and on …
Here’s to another seven years.
Cheers, Choc Lit! Happy Birthday!
In the early stages of drafting As Weekends Go, I gobbled up every nugget of writerly advice going – I still do – you never stop learning and any guidance is invaluable.
I’d already created detailed profiles for each of my main characters, some secondary characters too, i.e. ages, physical descriptions, family backgrounds, schooling, jobs, habits, likes/dislikes, friendships, relationships, star signs. A further suggested exercise that proved brilliant for me was “literally” interviewing them. Instead of writing a structured Q&A for each, I let them chat away on the page (so to speak) to see how they viewed themselves, to hear their voices and obtain an insight into specific personality traits, hopes, values, etc.
Here’s a brief glimpse at two of the main cast members – random facts in no particular order – to further illustrate what I mean :
“Hi, I’m Rebecca Stafford, married to Greg for four years, no children as yet, but having now moved into our new home, we plan to start a family, which I’m so excited about. I just hope Greg’s workload reduces. He’s been so stressed lately – a bit snappy too, (between you and me) – and could really do with relaxing a bit more. I do worry about him.
I’d say I’m a good listener, diplomatically honest, as I hate to hurt people’s feelings. I’m quite a home bod, and I love the company of my friends and family, especially my best friend Abi who I’ve known for years. I dress in what suits me. I’m not a dedicated follower of fashion as they say, but I do take pride in my appearance.”
“Hello, I’m Alex Heath. Describe myself physically? Well, I’m very fit – in the sporty sense (I wasn’t being vain!) as my profession demands it. I’ve always been active, trained hard and appreciated all the challenges and rewards it brings. I’m not really into the celebrity thing and shy away from publicity even though I know it’s all part of the job. I think it’s important to stay grounded, have good friends and family around me and never forget what a privilege it is to be doing what I love.
I’m a good judge of character. Some people say I can be stubborn, (my mum, usually!) which maybe I am, but it helps me to focus on what’s important. Nobody likes being taken for a fool, do they? Do I like being rich? Well, it certainly has its advantages. I’d be a liar if I said otherwise, but I’m level-headed with money; prefer spending it on other people than myself.”
Now, I know these exercises won’t necessarily be for everyone. Admittedly, a lot of the pre-interview detailed character profile information I didn’t actually use in the book, i.e. Rebecca’s favourite film or her opinion of her first boss, but it did give me an insight into how she might react in certain scenes, or to the various people she met, whatever the situation. Same with Alex. So too, with my other main characters.
I did the same thing for my second book which I’m currently writing. If you think interviewing your characters is something that might help you develop your own stories, then give it a try. I can definitely recommend it.
Love Jan X