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.

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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

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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!)

 

 

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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The view outside my bedroom window.

 

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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

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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!

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

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More Books! Yes please.

Look what the lovely Harper Impulse sent me just for being wonderful 🙂 -or something like that! IMG_2184

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FINISHED!

Well at long last, the very first story that I completed has been re-written and re-edited, and I love it. It started off being called Blue Skies and Stars, a title which I will probably use for another of my airline novels as I still like it. It is now called Air Guitar and Caviar which I love as much and is more appropriate for this novel. It’s about a busker who falls for an aloof air stewardess and has his work cut out trying to make her love him. Just when he becomes famous and it’s all looking good, Scarlett, the air stewardess, decides she can’t cope with his fame and leaves him. Will he be destined to play sweet music all on his own?

I now have three airline novels completed and have a good feeling about them.

This lovely little aircraft used to be called the ‘flying shed’ but we all knew her as Daisy cos her registration was Dasi. It was not a good aircraft to fly in bad weather, believe me!

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Mills And Boon competition

Who hoo- good news for me. Found out I’m shortlisted for a competition I entered with one of my airline stories. One of the top ten with results in Prima magazine in August. Don’t suppose I’ll win but it’s a huge boost just to get this far. Read all about it here: http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/flirty-fiction-shortlist-announced

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Breaking the Mould Potteries Novel

I visited this museum l week or so ago having re-opened my languishing novel called ‘Breaking the Mould,’ needing to propel myself back into the 1900’s. The Gladstone museum is the last complete Victorian pottery factory in the country and was saved from being pulled down at the last minute. It is a fascinating insight to the working life of the average Potteries worker back in the day . Surprisingly, most of the report’s suggest that although the work was hard and unhealthy, (Potters Rot did away with many a Potteries worker) the general temperament was stoic and upbeat.

I lived in Stoke-on Trent until I was ten and remember the Potbanks and the Marl Hole’s (deep, dangerous holes left to fill up with water once the ‘marl’ had been excavated) There was an ‘oatcake’ shop at the end of our road (sold only oatcakes which were made while you waited) and my aunty Irene was a ‘cup handler’ which I always thought meant she handled cups for some reason, but actually just meant she glued the handles on cups with ‘slip.’ (watery clay) As kids we used to catch a bus to Stoke market where we’d buy broken biscuits from a stall which was overflowing with loose biscuits, and every other stall had ‘seconds’ pottery of some sort. It was an automatic action to turn a cup or saucer upside down to see the makers mark and if it was a ‘second’ or even a ‘third,’ which might have a tiny chip out of it, or a piece of dirt embedded in it, but had been glazed anyway. The accent was sometimes impenetrable in the heart of Stoke and the houses were set in row upon row of redbrick, with tiny front garden’s if you were lucky.

We lived in ‘Moseley Villa’ which was a big house with an apple orchard in James Street where the Industrialist’s used to live, away from the smoke and noise, although prior to that we lived in Newcastle- Under- Lyme in one of the many terraced houses until our family became too large!

My novel is set in Fenton, the town that Arnold Bennett ‘forgot’ when he wrote his ‘Anna of the Five Towns’ and is about Maddie, a working class Potteries girl who falls for a rich Industrialist’s son when he rescues her younger brother from drowning -in a marl hole! It’s a late Victorian/early Edwardian novel and I suppose it is a ‘rags to riches’ style story. Maddie is not considered good enough for Daniel, so determines to prove everyone wrong even though she thinks she has lost him to a more respectable woman. It was tricky to convey the accent without overdoing it, and also trying to get it right. I mean would you know that ‘atalrate’ means ‘are you all right?’ and ‘theesen’ is ‘yourself’ (as in ‘thee self’) See what I mean? Tricky!

Inside the Bottle Kiln

Inside the Bottle Kiln

Gladstone museum

Gladstone museum

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Chelmsford Writers RNA lunch

Great food too

Great food too

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