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With July jogging swiftly towards August ~ AUGUST ~ can’t quite believe I’m saying that, I wanted to check in and say Hi.

With restrictions easing since my last news update, it’s been wonderful to properly see Mum and Dad who’d been shielding and also the rest of my lovely family and friends in various homes, gardens and local parks. Can’t believe how much our great-nephews and niece have grown during this time, especially youngest Stanley who was only a month old when Lockdown started.

Henry, Thea & Stanley ~ always a joy to see their little faces ‚̧

Mr B is now back doing the day job but I’m glad to say Project Briggy is taking great shape. As well as Little & Large (sheds) as I’ve called them (everything has a name at Brigden Towers) he’s built some new decking on the sunnier side of the garden, with a pergola to follow. What a star! I love it all and can so far take zero credit, but when all the building stuff is complete, I look forward to choosing some lovely (low maintenance) plants and ornaments to complement.

Latest pics:

On the writing front, If I Ever Doubt You is continuing to receive fabulous reviews since its release in April. I always imagined this moment when I was writing As Weekends Go, creating the story and the characters, so to see the two books side by side, telling Alex & Rebecca’s story in full, makes me happy and proud.

Also … drumroll

In June, following a promotion, If I Ever Doubt You briefly reached number #1 in the Romance, Sport category on KOBO. It also came out as an audiobook that month. Double Delight! ūüėÄ

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Talking of books, I’ve read some sparklers this past month, both fiction & non-fiction:

Under Your Skin, a psychological thriller by Rose McClelland

I love Rose’s writing, her punchy dialogue, the raw honesty of her phrasing, and have enjoyed all her novels. This was a change in genre for her, and she has delivered another brilliant story. Kyle’s wife Hannah goes missing and from the off we know things aren’t what they seem with this couple and their complex relationship. It is dark, disturbing and gripping all in one and the subject matter and characters’ emotions were so cleverly and authentically portrayed, I could have almost been reading a true story. I love multi viewpoint tales and a great cast of secondary characters and their subplots add to the ongoing tension and drama. Go grab it. You won’t be disappointed.

Another top crime thriller I’ve just finished reading is Claire Sheldon’s debut, Perfect Lie

A body is found in the village where main character Jen lives with her husband and two children. Jen then starts receiving mysterious items through the post. We meet and subsequently follow DI Chris Jackson’s perspective on matters, obtaining a compelling insight into police matters and what goes on in the background. Well, talk about knock me for six when I was least expecting it. You’ll know “the” moment I’m talking about when you get to it. Suspense, intrigue and twists aplenty as details emerge linking the past with the present and all the secrets and turmoil in between. An accomplished debut. Loved it!

Being a huge fan of anything inner peace and mindfulness-related, I found the two books below so easy to follow and understand as well as fascinating. Let’s face it, when you’re looking for reassuring calm in your reads, the last thing you want is a headache trying to figure it out as you go.

Anyway, for any fellow mindfulness devotees, if you want to know more, here they are:

Last but very definitely not least, I feel privileged to have read an early copy of Lizzie Lamb’s soon-to-be published latest Scottish-themed romance Penhaligon’s Highland Bride. Can’t say anymore at the moment but believe me, you’re in for a treat. Expect a full review when the novel is launched.

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Blooms and trees this time round come courtesy of another recent soothing, peaceful walk with Mr B.

Until next time,

With much love (and hair cut and roots nicely sorted – at last!)

Jan x

As November meets December …

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.

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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 ūüėČ

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.

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My Postcard!

 

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!

ROSE M

 

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.

SUE BIRTHDAY GIRL

 

If you love your festive reads I must say Choc Lit  have some super choices available. Look at these beauties!

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Much love,

Jan X

As October meets November …

It’s been a couple of months since my last blog. I haven’t been feeling well and September was all a bit of a struggle for one reason or another, so it’s nice to reflect on how busy October has been and to acknowledge all the love and support I’ve had and continue to have from family, friends and colleagues.

THANK YOU!

The first week of October saw Mr B & I celebrate 14 years of marriage. Crazy where the time has gone, but I’m seeing that as a positive and there isn’t a day goes by where my lovely husband doesn’t make me laugh. Here’s to many more wonderful years together.

WEDDING

October 4th 2003

 

On Friday 6th, I boarded a train from St Pancras to Leicester where I met my gem of a buddy & fellow Romaniac blogger Celia Anderson for a coffee and a mini catch up before we headed off to the Belmont Hotel to attend the monthly meeting of the Belmont Belles, a group of writers at all different stages of the process, who get together once a month to discuss their progress and any snippets of news. The group is successfully run by two other lovely writing buddies of mine, Lizzie Lamb and June Kearns who it was so good to see again, along with Adrienne Vaughan, Mags Cullingford & Anne Williams, plus I got to meet a few new faces. I’ve been wanting to visit for ages and it was great to spend time with them all. Cracking fish & chips lunch too, (and a sneaky glass of red!) before a few of us went back to Lizzie’s beautiful house for tea and cake. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. Thank you for having me, Belmont Belles, and for your hospitality afterwards, Lizzie.

 

 

We had a top family day at my youngest nephew’s fab new house which he and his lovely girlfriend recently moved into. They are expecting a baby in March next year, and we’re all thrilled. I will be great aunt Janners!

My birthday was on the 9th. It was a bit of a dank old Monday morning, brightened by a lunch date with older sister Sandra. We went to the THE WHITE BEAR  near Warlingham, and had a yummy lunch (there may also have been dessert!) and by the time we ventured outside, the sun had come out for us and it was blue skies all the way. I had some beautiful gifts and cards.

 

Mum, Dad, younger sister Karen and I went to see Motown the Musical in London’s West End on the 19th of the month. What a fab show! We had a really good deal, great seats plus coach travel there and back which was a boon as it was chucking it down with rain. We had a good old sing to all the tunes and the dancing (the performers, not ours) was spectacular. I can definitely recommend it. A real feel good fest!¬†MOTOWN THE MUSICAL

I seem to be on a winning streak with writing-related competitions lately and my luck continued with this fabulous prize of 4 A5 prints with Haiku-inspired poems, plus some stationery all from¬†EMERALD AND LIME¬†¬†whose products are divine. I won the comp via¬†LOVE BOOKS GROUP¬†. Here are my goodies. Aren’t they gorgeous?

 

A special mention to my dear best friend Clare in this blog post who celebrated an equally special birthday this month. I’m looking forward to seeing her very soon for a post-birthday hug and a catch up. I’ve had a beast of a cold which prevented me from seeing her on the actual day, so extra big hugs are in order.

 

 

I rounded off the month with a delightful treat of afternoon tea at the DoubleTree by Hilton at London Victoria, courtesy of my lovely eldest niece Jo. It was very thoughtful of her and nice to have some 121 time with her. The venue and service were great and the food (including some mouthwatering honey-covered crumpets) and teas were delicious. We  had a glass of bubbly too. Well worth a visit!  DoubleTree By Hilton Afternoon Tea

 

Blooms of the month saw a variety by way of a stunning birthday bouquet I received from a good friend.

 

 

Reading-wise, I’ve not managed to get much done, but have recently started the new novel by Rose McClelland, entitled¬†THE YEAR OF NO RULES¬†¬†I’m four chapters in and¬† thoroughly hooked on the story, so I shall report back in more detail next month.

ROSE M

 

Writing-wise, I’m pleased with my sequel to As Weekends Go and how it’s coming along. I think I’ve said before how I wish I could write faster, but I’m getting there.

To round off, I hope those of you who are into Halloween, had a suitably spooky one.

 

Halloween

 

This  Facebook post of mine from Halloween four years ago made me smile all over again when FB prompted me to remember it:

I have my spooky themed sweets & little cakes ready for the trick or treaters who always come calling. I’m expecting a few Zombie costumes this year. Last year¬†I opened the door to two pumpkins, Count Dracula, and three vampires, one of whose fangs fell out as he shouted, “Trick or Treat!” bless him! “

Much love,

Jan x