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As May meets June …

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 🙂

 

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Happy Birthday, Mr B!

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! 😉

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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!

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Much love to you all.

Jan  X

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April Round-up ~ News, Views & Reviews

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.

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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

As March marches off …

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

 

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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!

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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

 

As February meets March …

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.

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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.

Eeek!

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.

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The pic that accompanied Lisa’s blog post. There I am, second from top, middle column! 🙂

 

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.

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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. 

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Rest in peace, Jo x

 

 

Thank you February (and a little slice of March!)

Love Jan x

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

A month of mixed emotions …

It’s been a funny old February.

Fun versus fear in equal measures.

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Fun because it has brought back such lovely memories from last year; my debut As Weekends Go being shortlisted for Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition, on Valentine’s day no less, and the whole buzz of the following few weeks when I learned I’d won and was offered my contract.

Fear, because fast forward a year and I’m sitting here in the midst of what some of my writing colleagues have hinted could be post-publication blues.

Sound familiar?

I do hope so, as I’m beginning to worry that there’s something wrong with me. I mean, I’m hugely grateful to be published, so too for the tremendous support I received from everyone on  launch day and beyond, and have had some fantastic feedback on As Weekends Go and some cracking reviews.  I’m also very much enjoying the eyebrow-raising research I’m doing for Book 2.

So why do I feel a little flat?

I think it’s partly down to something  I knew I’d have to face head on, particularly after publication, yet  almost three months on, still brings me out in a cold sweat just uttering the words …

Self-promotion.   

I try to be positive in everything I do. I thoroughly enjoy chatting online with all my writerly buddies, being part of such a supportive ‘club’ so to speak , and am never more comfortable than when I am singing someone else’s praises. Yet, when it comes to tooting the horn for my own novel, I cringe. Even setting up my own blog was a massive step for me, which luckily a good friend helped me with. I love blogging with The Romaniacs but it’s a collective thing, so feels more relaxed.

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I’ve  taken part in several Q&As with fellow authors and bloggers whom I can’t thank enough for featuring me, as it has given me more confidence. Joke is, I’ve conducted many author interviews, myself, over the years, which  I’ve LOVED. Then again I’ve been the one asking the questions…

It has made me quite sad at times as, like every other author, I poured my heart and soul into my book, and feel really proud that I finished it, yet can’t seem to fully celebrate promoting it.

I’ve been watching and learning, so perhaps in time it will become less scary, feel more natural.

I certainly hope so as it’s playing havoc with my mojo and if there’s one thing I love doing, it’s writing!

Any thoughts, dear friends? If not, chocolate will do! (Preferably buttons of the giant variety ;))

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Love Jan X