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August Round-up ~ News, views & Reviews

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.

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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.

 

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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.

SHELLEY WILSON

 

 

Before I go, look at this gorgeous sunset I snapped earlier this week …

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Much love,

Jan  X

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

York, Leeds and a shedload of research all in one day …

I love York with a passion, so much so that I set a large part of my debut novel there. I’d visited enough times to feel confident about writing certain scenes but wanted to return to check what was new and to suss out the one or two places I’d yet to explore;  one such gem being Rowntree Park (pictured below).

 

Well , get this …

I’d been keeping my beady eye out for cheap day return train tickets (didn’t really want to have to pay the usual £70-100 from London King’s Cross) when I only went and received an email from Virgin Trains East Coast advertising promo tickets – if you travelled on certain trains between certain dates – for … wait for it … £5.00 per person each way.

Well timed or what?

No way was I NOT taking advantage of that.

Mr B had said he’d come with me and I had this theory that whilst we were there we could also dash off to Leeds as I knew I’d need to do a fair amount of research there (among other places) for Book 2. It seemed silly to be so near and to not go there.

“Be a bit tight for time!” pipes up Mr B (bearing in mind we’d be getting up at 5am, racing up to King’s Cross to catch the  7.08, have a two and a half hour journey to York with a pretty packed  agenda to fulfil once there and then have to make the 6pm train back to London or risk paying the full fare if we missed it).

Hmmm … let me just see if it’s do’able, thinks me, logging onto the National Rail website with no idea of further train costs or timings to Leeds.

Were my eyes deceiving me? £6.00 return from York per person if I booked in advance (in my case, the day before we were travelling!).  Again, we had to get specified trains, but for that price, I was THERE!

RESULT!

I mean, £16.00 per person for our day’s travel overall is brilliant, isn’t it?

So … off we trundled  to York, ticked  off the first two things on my ‘To Do’ list, legged it back to the station, hopped on the 10.27 Northern Rail to Leeds – spent a crazy three hours pounding the streets, notepad and pen in one hand, camera in t’other,  with Mr B as chief map reader, and saw 75% of what we needed to see. We even had time for a sneaky crispy duck wrap each in Trinity Kitchen for lunch. I was going to tinkle the ivories in the Victoria Quarter shopping arcade, but I think Mr B would have been on his toes, halfway back to York before I’d sat down! 😀

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We were so pleased with ourselves when we got back to York mid-afternoon, we had a crafty pit stop in The Gillygate pub before tackling the last bits on my list. The sun was even shining for us.

By the time we sank into our seats for the return trip to London, my feet were waving the white flag, but it was so worthwhile.

Yes, it was a long, tiring day and I shall have to return to Leeds at some point, but that’s no hardship, and if I can get those promo tickets again, I’ll be well pleased. I’ll  have more time to nose round too (especially at all those fabulous shops).

Might even get to play that piano!

Oh I do enjoy research.

Love Jan x