I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year and I want to wish everyone all the very best for 2019. For those of you whose Christmas was less than joyous, I send loving thoughts and big supportive hugs.
We had a happy peaceful Christmas day with Mum and Dad. We transported our turkey and all the trimmings up to theirs (including my trusty potato peeler because, unlike Mum, I can’t use a knife as I end up leaving half the spud on it!). Briggy (Mr B) was head chef and I was chief veg-preparer among other things. The dinner, I’m pleased to say, was a triumph.
As you can see, Rudolph had another airing.
Boxing day was just as happy with lots of fun, laughter and games (not to mention food and drink) at super-host sister Sandra’s house. Our dear little great-nephew Henry is crawling now so was enthralled by all things sparkly and bright.
Ali, lovely wife of our equally lovely nephew Andy, also cleverly created some of her fabulous festive cupcakes.
We spent New Year’s Eve with good friends and popped a few corks at midnight while watching the brilliant London firework display. A great night for sure.
I haven’t made any resolutions for 2019, I’ll be more than happy with good physical and mental health and happiness for myself and Briggy and all our family and friends. Throw in to the world mammoth helpings of peace and kindness and this year should hopefully be a good’un. Oh, and prosperity aplenty would be welcome too – thank you.
Before I go, I just wanted to reflect on two books I read pre-Christmas that I’d earlier mentioned, which were Kathryn Freeman’s Oh Crumbs and Jessie Cahalin’s debut You Can’t Go It Alone . Both were a joy to read.
Oh Crumbs features main characters Abby and Doug who couldn’t be more different if they tried. Abby’s been caring for her sisters ever since her mother died and has sacrificed many things including attending university. She starts work as a PA in a biscuit factory to managing director Doug. She is the bubbly and breezy to his seriousness (a lot of which stems from family tensions) and I loved hurdling all the bumps and emotional obstacles they encountered as their relationship developed. I’m a huge fan of Kathryn’s writing and this story is another belter.
You Can’t Go It Alone contains a cleverly created blend of storylines that drew me in, along with the wonderful cast of characters. A myriad of personal dramas are covered, some serious, some poignant, and the setting and community spirit of Delfryn is so well portrayed that I could picture it all in my mind. The author’s passion shone through for me and I look forward to reading more of her work.
May 2019 shine and sparkle for us all.
Much love Jan X
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!
Pondering. I love that word. August saw me doing my fair share of it too; thinking about what’s really important to me, how I’ve changed and about certain things I’ve shied away from facing up to. All sounds a bit deep, I know, but it’s put a few things into perspective.
It’s been a real family & friends month which has helped – various celebrations from birthdays to anniversaries to retirement cheer.
We had a lovely Mum & daughters lunch – my two sisters and I took Mum to a local carvery (cracking roast potatoes!) and laughed and chatted about things you might not otherwise get around to discussing in a bigger gathering. I’ve always been more of a 1-2-1 or small groups person, so really treasure these times. We have Dad/daughters lunches too (in case you thought we leave him out – bless him!).
I also met up with my youngest niece for a bite to eat and a chat which was lovely. Again, it brought home how fast the years have flown. I still think of Jess as being the age in the photo on the left. Instead of that she’s about to head off to college.
A family gardening day at Mum and Dad’s mid-month was a roaring success (if I do say so myself!) although my marathon weeding stint did leave me walking like a robot for two days. My chest muscles just about recovered for the Bank Holiday weekend, which saw us all gather together once again, along with some family friends, at my older sister’s house. Blue sky and sunshine meant we could spill out into the garden. With food aplenty and Sangria on tap, a good time was had by all.
I featured on two fab blogs in August, firstly as a guest of Louise Ross (L.J. Ross) author of the international bestselling series of DCI Ryan mystery novels, who, via her LoveSuspense blog, introduces authors in various genres. Here I am ~ LJ Ross Q&A
Secondly, I’m proud to say I now also appear in the Books in Handbags Gallery which is one of several superb features on Jessie Cahalin’s gem of a website ~ JessieCahalin Jessie is super-supportive of other authors and I’m delighted to be included.
Still badgering away with my sequel/standalone. I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with it and have been sad and disappointed with myself that it’s taking me this long, but I feel re-connected with it and really want to finish it and submit it. I’m enjoying spending time with my characters again and meeting some new ones (good and naughty!). I’m also really excited as Dave and I are off to York for the day in December (promo train tickets – absolute bargain!) As you know, York’s the main setting in As Weekends Go and a city I adore, so I can’t wait to get back there – especially as all the Christmas lights will be up and twinkling. VISIT YORK
Blooms of the month continue with the gladioli theme (or glads as I call them!) I think I’ve bought them in every colour this year.
Get a look at these beauties.
The month ended on a high note when I found out I’d won a bundle of Edinburgh book festival goodies put together by Kelly of LoveBooksGroupBlog and Joanne of PortobelloBookBlog Needless to say there will be photos to follow. Thank you, ladies. So thrilled to have won. 🙂
I only managed to read one book this month but boy was it well-timed. Shelley Wilson’s How I Changed My Life in a Year – is an inspiring, motivational, entertaining, sometimes poignant, sometimes comical, month-by-month account of how, having reached a crossroads in her life where she knew she had to make some changes, Shelley set herself twelve challenges over a year. This variety of challenges included everything from getting fitter to learning new creative tasks to facing her fears. I dipped in and out of the book with ease and it certainly left an impression on me. Well written and thoroughly engaging. An absolute pleasure to read.
Before I go, look at this gorgeous sunset I snapped earlier this week …