Didn’t we have a lovely time?

Met up with some of the lovely Write Romantics for a weekend of serious writing talk and unusually (for me, anyway!) not much serious drinking, although Jo cracked open a bottle of Lanson champagne to celebrate us getting together.

IMG_2182

Cats and suitcases- what is it with them?

‘Little cat’ decided to do what she always does when I get out my suitcase, so I was in danger of being late as didn’t have the heart to move her! Bless!

 

23484793_10210150446306699_438826843_oHad such a great time in Derby meeting Sharon Booth for the first time and catching up with Helen Phifer who drove down from Barrow-in Furness, Jo Bartlett who drove up from Kent, and Jessica Redland who came down from Scarborough, picking up Sharon on the way.

IMG_2185Sharon knew all about Bonny Prince Charlie reaching Derby in his quest to conquer England before deciding it wasn’t worth the bother (or something ike that!) Here he is, sitting on his horse, looking decidely camp and a bit like he’s sucking a lemon!

We went to the book cafe which we thought was rather splendid and we wished there were more of them in England, and then went to a shop that sold Charlie Bears as Julie (Jessica) collects bears, but at £200 each they were a bit on the expensive side, although they are absolutely gorgeous and very tempting. We rounded off the weekend by going to see Paddington 2 at the cinema which was fabulous – especially the end bit where Hugh Grant dances in a pink outfit! IMG_2188

Oh, and I made a very new friend who I think might become an important part of my life. She’s called Raspberry Ripple Pom–pom (I kid you not!) and she jumped into my shopping basket when I wasn’t looking!

IMG_2187

Raspberry Pom-pom, I love you already.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Dancing Turkey

I thought I’d write a bit about my third novel which is still in progress, but I find myself, instead, wanting to tell you about the evening I spent last Friday at the Moutgrove Bothy in Finsbury park where chef, Luke Hunns, was demonstrating his amazing culinary skills.

IMG_1772

Mountgrove Bothy in Finsbury Park

Luke is normally to be found  at The Chiltern Firehouse, a trendy restaurant in London where the ‘beautiful people’ hang out, so I felt quite privilidged to be able to chat to him about his menu in more casual surroundings. He told me how he’d tweeted Nuno Mendes at the Chiltern Firehouse to see if he was recruiting – he was, and Luke’s career path was set. Luke is now part of the team as a sous chef with responsibility for a team of co-workers and he loves his job. Anyway, back to the Mountgrove Bothy where the evening was kicking off and Luke was putting the finishing touches to his menu. I wished him luck but don’t think he needed it; every aspect of the evening was covered to make sure there were no glitches. As the evening progressed, we had some interesting and beautifully presented, delicious taster plates.

IMG_1783.JPG

Sea Bream with radish and camomile

What struck me the most – apart from the amazing food, was how incredibly hard Luke worked, being a whirlwind of activity, whilst always having a moment to discuss his food or just to chat to the clientele. It made me realise that the chef in my novel, who seemed to spend most of his evening  puffing  smoke from his Gauloise cigarettes out of the window while occasionally tasting the food, was a far cry from how a real chef worked and Jake, my handsome chef, needed to get his arse into gear.

 

I’d initially named this novel Musical Chairs and then The Dating Game as it was about a woman stuck on an eternal cycle of dating – going around and around, trying to find somewhere to rest her weary heart. But as the novel progressed, I found it hard to relate to any of the men and actually the business of dating was a tad boring. Until I discovered ‘the one’. My flawed chef wasn’t even looking for love but I knew he was going to be the one to put the sparkle back in my heroine’s eyes. Of course he was not in the dating game at all – but that’s the course of true love for you – it never runs smoothly!

IMG_1784
Any pudding is good for me- this was my idea of heaven!

I deleted over fifteen thousand words of this novel to get it back on track, which broke my heart, more than my heroine’s when she found her boyfriend in bed with a drag queen. My handsome chef now actually does some cooking and the heroine, who is an actress, finally gets away from being a dancing turkey outside Asda. I also relocated both of them to St Albans, a city that I love and where my niece, who just happens to be an actress lives. (Don’t think she’s ever been a dancing turkey though!)

 

Watch this space for the release of the, as yet unnamed book number three- I’m guessing The Dancing Turkey might be a bit daft for a title! Next time I hope to bring you a cover reveal and date for my second novel, The Magic of Stars which is just waiting in the wings for the final touches to its cover. I’m quite excited if I say so myself!

IMG_1390.JPG

St Albans Cathedral

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lovely Southwold, the perfect setting.

As a family, we’ve been visiting Southwold for many years – used to have a tradition of driving up there on New Years Day, taking in Walberswick and Snape Maltings on the way back, but too many freezing, windy ‘wash-out’ trips where no one wanted to get out of the car, put a stop to that tradition.

IMG_0593

Where’s the sun?

I braved the weather last November because I knew I wanted a picture of Southwold Pier on the cover of my book. The brilliant cover designer Berni Stevens managed to make it look pretty and not so wintry so that my cover looked as if it was just made for summer reading! Coincidently there was a rather handsome man having photographs taken against the groynes – with a guitar slung over his back! It would have been perfect, except that my daughter more or less threatened me with a fate worse than death, if I approached him to see if I could take some photos. Such a shame as I’m sure The Fates had put him there just for me.

The little brass plates that are set all along the balustrade on the pier, where loved ones can be remembered or special occasions recorded, made me realise that Southwold would be the perfect setting for my lovely Dylan and Scarlett to fall in love (yes, she was lovely by the end of the book!) You can just see them, in the bottom corner – the brass plaques not Scarlett and Dylan!

IMG_0623

And how could I not include the awesomely crazy Under the Pier Show with its rabid dog who dribbles and snaps at your fingers IMG_1400

and the fearsome prisoner, Crankenstein who roars and bares his teeth!

IMG_1396

These were videos but they don’t appear to be working so if you really want to see Crankenstein and his friends, here’s a link. http://www.underthepier.com/

My dream, even before I became a ‘proper’ writer was to own one of the beach huts along Southwold seafront until I discovered how horrendously expensive they were. I even decided I’d call it Dormouse House (my nickname, when I was little, was Dormouse) – but then if PDJames could buy one, I don’t see why I can’t! #reachfor the sky

IMG_0611

ONE DAY!IMG_0638

Ooh look, there’s me waving from my very own beach hut! One day indeed!

Save

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doesn’t time Fly!

Air Guitar and Caviar has been published for just over a month now and although it’s been wonderful and exciting to see it finally ‘out there’, I am surprised at how much it has drained me. The constant feeling that I should be promoting myself or my book is hard–and it’s not something that comes easily to a Brit of a Certain Age.

There are so many new eBooks published each day via Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, and such like, that my solitary little book, that means so much to me, could easily find itself disappearing down a metaphorical rabbit hole if I don’t keep my eye on it!

Air Guitar and Caviar_ Never heard of it.

But I am also very aware that the ‘buy my book’ approach can annoy people and finding the middle line is difficult.

Saying that, everyone has been totally fabulous in sharing posts and supporting me, even ‘Grandad John’ has taken a bunch of my business card to browbeat the members of his local art club into buying a copy of my book. (Thanks, John– and sorry art club members!)

I am aware that, now book one is out, book two needs to be sharp on its heels and the whole thing will start again before I’ve really paused for breath. This is now my life if I want to become a successful writer. I no longer have the luxury of faffing about and twiddling with the same page for ages, pretending that I’m doing sterling work when really, I have one eye on Facebook, while the other is checking out my eBay bids.

But I wouldn’t change it for anything. Already two complete strangers have messaged me to tell me how much they have loved reading my book. For me such validation is huge.

IMG_0947

So, yes, book two is almost written and another air stewardess–Sapphire, this time, is telling her story. (No, the last one was called Scarlett, not Sapphire–do keep up!) Sapphire propositions her new boss in a hotel when she is drunk and now has to work very hard to gain his approval while fighting down her attraction towards him. The first chapter of this novel was shortlisted in a Flirty Fiction competition and has had so many different titles I can’t even remember what the latest one is: Brown Eyes Blue Skies, Blue Skies Lying Eyes, The colour of Skye, Samphire and Sand to name but a few. Who knows what it will be in the end? But for now, I’ll just keep on editing it and will try not to care when I’m outbid on eBay–because I’m now an author, don’t you know, and am far too busy writing, to keep an eye on such things!

Air Guitar and Caviar out now. : http://amzn.to/2jLPZsU

Save

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Author Spotlight

Enjoyed answering questions from Julie Stock, for her Author Spotlight blog. It’s all about Air Guitar and Caviar. Read it here

img_1019

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yay! Book launch.

It’s finally here, the day that I’ve been anticipating for so long, and I’m already bowled over by the support and good wishes from my fellow writers and friends, new and old.
I can finally understand the ‘Squeeee, my books have arrived,’ and ‘It’s launch day,’ posts on social media when in the past, the less charitable side of me wanted to say, ‘Calm down dear,’ all Michael Winner like, at their gushing. After all, it’s only a book and there are millions of ’em out there.

.library-982689__340

See? Tons of the buggers!

Go into any charity shop and the shelves are groaning with them. The M6 toll road used two and a half million copies of Mills and Boon’s to keep it stable: http://bit.ly/1nlenrB That kind of says something, don’t you think?
So why do I want to use up even more valuable trees for the paltry words I have to offer? The answer is, I don’t really know. It just crept up on me, really, this desire to see my name on the front page of a book and to write a novel that makes people say, ‘Ahh, that was lovely.’
At about the same time as I started to take my scribblings seriously,  I met a few real writers. REAL WRITERS- with proper books on shelves and everything–and they made money from these books.
That was probably the moment when I thought, ‘I can do that.’
Only I couldn’t–not then. I wasn’t good enough. And I wasn’t good enough for years, much as I hate to say it. Because it’s like any other job that requires diligence, attention to detail, a modicum of talent and an awful lot of long, hard slog: it takes time.
But finally it is my turn, and getting back to the point I started on (that’s the thing with writers- we never run out of words!) I now totally get the ‘Squeee’ moment, because when I saw my book on Amazon, it made me want to cry–and laugh–and phone up every single person I’d ever met in my whole life and shout, ‘Look I’ve done it–go and look on Amazon!’

HERE IT IS : http://amzn.to/2jLPZsU

agc_front_rgb_150dpi-copy

Mine! All mine!

So, yeah, it’s out there now and I hope you want to buy it, and then I hope you enjoy it, and then I hope you leave a review on Amazon–cos they really count for something. And I don’t want one of those pompous Amazon reviews that says ‘I had to give it one star because there was a comma in the wrong place,’ which actually just shows that you need to get a life! But you aren’t like that, are you? You’re going to LOVE reading my book on your kindle so much that you buy the paperback that comes out in a couple of months time, and you are going to give me a wonderful review on Amazon. A perfect Valentine’s Day read.

Stars, Five Stars, Logo, Icon, Symbol

Five-star reviews- yes, please!

Aren’t you?
Go on- you know you want to.  http://amzn.to/2jLPZsU
Much love,
Jackie.
(Squeee!)

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A broken mug shot!

I was taking a photo of my new cover for Air Guitar and Caviar, positioning my iPad next to my trusty RNA mug when I knocked the mug off the table and it BROKE! Oh no!

img_2488-1

Have to say it was a very photogenic break!

I wanted to show a picture of my mug and write a few words about the Romantic Novelists’ Association and how it had pretty much shaped my life as a writer for the past ten years or more.  This was a sad moment believe me! But then I thought maybe it was a good omen. Maybe it meant that I’d finally finished my apprenticeship and was ready to move out of my New Writer’s scheme zone and into the world of ‘being a real author!’

Not that I ever intend to stray too far from the RNA- ever. Nearly every writer friend I have belongs to the RNA and I feel very grateful to the RNA for that, along with the constructive criticism and praise I have received via their New Writer’s Scheme.

Air Guitar and Caviar went through the New Writer’s Scheme ( http://bit.ly/2kczK4Z ) a good few years ago when its name was Blue Skies and Stars (I may yet use that for another book – so remember that title!) but the standard of my writing wasn’t good enough for publication, I could see that as soon as I started re-reading it, last year. But it was always the book of my heart and I decided to rewrite it during NaNoWriMo, knowing that my writing was stronger. I was quietly pleased with it and then over the moon when it was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition and even more thrilled that it will soon be up on Amazon with Fabrian Books.

fabrian-books-publishing-logo.

I am no longer a member of the New Writers scheme and am looking forward to the day I become a fully fledged member of the RNA, but I have to sell a fair few books before that will happen. If feels as if my story of gorgeous Dylan the busker and frosty Scarlett the air stewardess has been in my head for EVER, but in fact, from rewrite to publication it has been just over a year.

Must make sure book number two doesn’t take quite as long as this one- it’s mostly already written so hopefully it won’t. That’s the one that was shortlisted for a Mills and Boon ‘Flirty Fiction’ competition, so I must be doing something right!

Air Guitar and Caviar will be hitting  Amazon as an ebook on 5th February, so make a note of that date- I don’t think I’ll be forgetting it!

img_0835

Before I broke the mug! Cover illustration by Berni Stevens- you are the best!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Procrastination is my friend

This morning (it’s now 7.38!) I’ve checked out Facebook, read a bit more about why I need Instagram in my life, (I really don’t) watched the BBC news, bid on a Wedgwood mug on eBay, that I also don’t need in my life (but it’s soo pretty and I like drinking out of china mugs) and deleted a load of photos I took over Christmas. It’s now time to start the day, and in reality, I could have written a good couple of hundred words or edited a chapter of my new novel in the time I’ve wasted. When I say ‘new’ I mean a WIP (work in progress) that I haven’t opened for a while. I don’t think I will be starting a proper ‘new ‘ story for quite some time.
I used to berate myself over these time sucks, but as I’ve progressed as a writer, I’ve realised that living is important too and my writing is just a part of this wonderful life I’ve been given.

img_2419

Eat cake- enjoy the flowers.

I don’t have a dedicated time to write, but writing (or not writing!) is always in the back of my mind and I fit it in when I can. I used to feel so guilty when WRITE EVERY DAY  is the writer’s mantra. In fact, I do probably write every day but I don’t have to–and that’s fine. To me, my writing defines me (does that sound terribly pretentious?) but I write primarily for me now and it’s a great feeling. I’ve got over the desperate race I had in my head that I had to prove myself, get out there– be able to consider myself a ‘proper writer’ before I ended up like this.

img_2145

I waited too long for a publishing deal!

Maybe it’s not so much that I’ve got over it, as I’ve reached the level of writing that I’m happy with. Maybe I am now a ‘proper writer’ and don’t need anyone else to validate my writing. But there’s still a part of me that wants other people to read my stories and love my characters as much as I do, which I think comes with the territory of being a writer and a member of the human race.
So, I’ve finally taken the plunge, and with the help of Fabrian Books, Air Guitar and Caviar, the book of my heart, will be released on Amazon in February. Meanwhile, I’ll plod on with my rubbish typing skills and total inability to plot, and take the time to enjoy my writing life and the beautiful world around me. Enjoy your day, lovely people. xx

img_0674

The view outside my bedroom window.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wot-another writing course?

Ahh, but this is not just another course, this is THE writing course. I’m going on an Arvon romantic writing course in Yorkshire and I just know it’s going to be BRILLIANT. The wonderful Mike Gayle

556ec5111a989_mike_gayle.jpg

and Crissie Manby are the tutors and I believe Jenny Colgan is to be a guest speaker.

Whenever I am in the doldrums about my writing I always find a course to attend, so that I have something to bring me back from the precipice and this time was no different.

I was awake at four o clock one morning (but luckily don’t have to put on a uniform and a load of slap like the old days- just reach for my iPad which is always inches away from me!) and an email popped up from Arvon.

‘Can I go on a writing course in Lumb Bank, Yorkshire?’ I asked my sleeping husband.’ It once belonged to Ted Hughes,’ I added, as if that would clinch it.

‘Have I ever stopped you?’ he mumbled. By the time he was properly awake I’d paid the deposit and was feeling upbeat once more. How easy was that? index LUMB BANK 

Since then, I have had some brilliant news as my airline novel ‘Air Guitar and Caviar,’ has been shortlisted with Choc Lit in their Search for a Star competition. Choc Lit are a smallish publisher, but publish terrific romance books.

I am so happy to be shorlisted that I’ve barely thought about what I would do if I win. I will be driving back to Hertfordshire from Yorkshire when they announce the winner, so might have to stop a couple – or a million times to check their website on the way. It could be a very long journey home!! Guess it goes without saying that if I win, I will be dancing around the table with happiness, a cat under each arm and chilling down the ancient bottle of champagne that is probably bright orange by now, it’s been hanging around that long!

Wish me luck!

Here’s a picture of our kitten- just because she’s so beautiful!

She likes bags!

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Did I say I’d finished?

The euphoria didn’t last long! Hurrah, I’d finished the third book in my airline series- the one set in Africa which had dastardly deeds going on all over the show. Except, when I read through it again I realised that I had written two gorgeous heroes in it. That’s one too many really, for any girl- even a beautiful air stewardess, and the more I thought about it, the more I decided it would be much more fun if she could…well…have fun with the MI5 guy who thought she was a baddie. She also thought HE was a baddie, so throughout the book they were very wary of each other. So, I’m going to turn it into two books and then my series of three will be a series of four! Here we go again- one day I will plot out my stories BEFORE I finish them!

Found an old picture of the gardener at my senior school, St Dominic’s, and it suddenly clicked that HE was the guy in all of my books that I subconsciously imagine, when I’m writing a new hero.IMG_2347

I was so in love with him! I’d thought it was the lovely Simon Baker or Paul Nicholas in his younger, pretty days who I visualised – or even Heath Ledger, (yep, always with the blond hair!), but now I realise that his was the face that haunted me! (sorry, lovely husband of mine!) Don’t suppose he ever thinks of me- I was only twelve! I’m the show off with the knobbly knees, holding up a flower to show my love for him!

 

 

Save

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments