Life Cycle of a Writer ~ Photo-diary ~ First year as a published author.

I can’t believe a year has passed since my debut novel As Weekends Go was published. I’ve been keeping a month by month journal to record all those exciting moments, both pre and post publication; something to treasure with fondness and pride and something I’d thoroughly recommend.

Here’s a taste of my ‘Year as a Published Author’ photo-diary …

Dec 2015 ~ Launch Day Celebrations.

Jan 2016 ~ Happiness and relief as some fabulous reviews started coming in (thank you, dear readers). I also set up my own blog and featured on several fellow bloggers’ sites with either a Q&A or guest post, all a joy to take part in and all hugely appreciated.

Feb 2016 ~ I discovered Canva –  a great site for creating promotional banners for social media.

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March 2016 ~ Cheered like crazy when As Weekends Go was selected for an Amazon Kindle daily deal promotion which subsequently saw it hit the top 100. Much Prosecco was cracked open and quaffed, I can tell you!

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I also visited York and Leeds in March for sequel research purposes which was highly rewarding.

April 2016 ~ Superb news! My book would also be coming out in paperback later in the year. Cue a virtual conga at Brigden Towers.

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May 2016 ~ One of my fave authors, Lisa Jewell, agreed to read my novel with a view to potentially providing a quote for my paperback (much crossing of fingers, toes and eyes!).

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June 2016 ~ I learned I’d made ‘The Bookseller’ who reviewed forthcoming titles in paperback. A proud moment for sure. My lovely publisher Choc Lit also celebrated 7 years in business this month.lcoaw-choc-lit

July 2016 ~ Photo-shoot month, don’t laugh! I knew I needed some updated author pics, and with my good friend Noreen being an ace photographer, a date was fixed. What a giggle we had. Here are a couple that didn’t quite make the final … 😉

I also received my first ever royalty cheque this month, as well as this terrific quote from Lisa Jewell, following her ‘thumbs up’ for my novel : “I loved this gorgeous love story written with a sure touch and a big heart.”

August 2016 ~ The postman delivered these beauties ahead of paperback publication. I really did appreciate what it felt like to hold a copy of my book in my hands.

September 2016 ~ Paperback Publication Day on the 7th, and some brilliant messages from my fellow Romaniacs buddies: Romaniac Cheer  I even received a congratulatory tweet from Crystal Palace FC. I then discovered my book had been chosen as a weekly staff pick for Lovereading UK and was one of its debuts of the month.

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Towards the end of September I attended an author/blogger meet up in London which gave me a great chance to say hello to (and thank) faces both new and familiar. A good time was had by all, with much writerly and non-writerly chat and laughter. We were blessed with glorious sunshine too –  always a bonus.

October 2016 ~ I make no excuses. Not much writing took place this month as my staggered 50th birthday celebration pics reveal … I felt very loved and extremely pampered.

November 2016 ~ I managed to work on the sequel a bit more this month which lifted my spirits. It’s soul-destroying when the will is there but the self-belief and passion won’t play ball, so progress is progress as they say.

December 2016  ~  My book anniversary on the 4th, which I celebrated with a giveaway (runs until Friday 9th) with a chance to win a signed paperback of As Weekends Go plus some festive choccies. If you have a look at either my Facebook or Twitter page, you’ll see further details there 🙂

And now on the run up to Christmas, I thank you all for your friendship and support. I will be forever grateful for all those wise words of advice and encouragement offered to me both pre and post publication.

Have a fantastic Christmas & New Year!

Love Jan  x

 

 

 

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer ~ Jan Brigden ~ Interviewing your Characters

In the early stages of drafting As Weekends Go, I gobbled up every nugget of writerly advice going – I still do – you never stop learning and any guidance is invaluable.

I’d already created detailed profiles for each of my main characters, some secondary characters too, i.e. ages, physical descriptions, family backgrounds, schooling, jobs, habits, likes/dislikes, friendships, relationships, star signs. A further suggested exercise that proved brilliant for me was “literally” interviewing them. Instead of writing a structured Q&A for each, I let them chat away on the page (so to speak) to see how they viewed themselves, to hear their voices and obtain an insight into specific personality traits, hopes, values, etc.

Here’s a brief glimpse at two of the main cast members – random facts in no particular order –  to further illustrate what I mean :

Hello, could you please tell me a little bit about yourself...

“Hi, I’m Rebecca Stafford, married to Greg for four years, no children as yet, but having now moved into our new home, we plan to start a family, which I’m so excited about. I just hope Greg’s workload reduces. He’s been so stressed lately – a bit snappy too, (between you and me) – and could really do with relaxing a bit more. I do worry about him.

I’d say I’m a good listener, diplomatically honest, as I hate to hurt people’s feelings. I’m quite a home bod, and I love the company of my friends and family, especially my best friend Abi who I’ve known for years. I dress in what suits me. I’m not a dedicated follower of fashion as they say, but I do take pride in my appearance.”

Next please ... (1)

“Hello, I’m Alex Heath. Describe myself physically? Well, I’m very fit  – in the sporty sense (I wasn’t being vain!) as my profession demands it. I’ve always been active, trained hard and appreciated all the challenges and rewards it brings. I’m not really into the celebrity thing and shy away from publicity even though I know it’s all part of the job. I think it’s important to stay grounded, have good friends and family around me and never forget what a privilege it is to be doing what I love.

I’m a good judge of character. Some people say I can be stubborn, (my mum, usually!) which maybe I am, but it helps me to focus on what’s important. Nobody likes being taken for a fool, do they? Do I like being rich? Well, it certainly has its advantages. I’d be a liar if I said otherwise, but I’m level-headed with money; prefer spending it on other people than myself.”

***

Now I know these exercises won’t necessarily be for everyone. Admittedly, a lot of the pre-interview detailed character profile information I didn’t actually use in the book, i.e. Rebecca’s favourite film or her opinion of her first boss, but it did give me an insight into how she might react in certain scenes, or to the various people she met, whatever the situation. Same with Alex. So too, with my other main characters.

I did the same thing for my second book which I’m currently writing. If you think interviewing your characters is something that might help you develop your own stories, then give it a try. I can definitely recommend it.

 

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Love Jan x

Life Cycle of a Writer – Jan Brigden – Cover Reveal!

Wow! Am I excited or am I excited? 😀

 

With all my edits complete, I can now proudly reveal the fabulously glam cover for my upcoming debut novel As Weekends Go which will be published by Choc Lit on December 4th!

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Huge thanks to BERNI STEVENS for the design. You’ve done me proud!

 

Blurb: 

What if your entire life changed in the space of a weekend?  

When Rebecca’s friend Abi convinces her to get away from it all at the fabulous Hawksley Manor hotel in York, it seems too good to be true. Pampering and relaxation is just what Rebecca needs to distract herself from the creeping suspicion that her husband, Greg, is hiding something from her.

She never imagined that by the end of the weekend she would have dined with celebrities or danced the night away in exclusive clubs. Nor could she have predicted she would meet famous footballer, Alex Heath, or that he would be the one to show her that she deserved so much more …

But no matter how amazing a weekend is, it’s always back to reality come Monday morning – isn’t it?

***

I can’t believe it’s been eight months since I signed my contract.

 

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And now it is just over three weeks until publication.

 

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Even my butterflies have butterflies! 

I nearly swallowed my chocolate chip cookie WHOLE when I saw my novel on The Choc Lit  website and then on AMAZON.CO.UK for pre-order.

Best put on my literary seatbelt and prepare for the ride.

Wish me luck …

Love Jan

X

 

Connect with me on Twitter @Briggy44 or at @theromaniacs

And on Facebook – Jan Brigden

 

Life Cycle of a Writer – Jan Brigden

There it sat in my inbox.

‘EDITS REPORT’

The butterflies descended before I even opened the attachment.

The lovely email from my editor, introducing herself and offering me all the support and encouragement I could have hoped for, put a huge smile on my face, but I don’t mind admitting to you that, upon initially reading the proposed structural revisions for my first novel, the photo below pretty much summed up my mood.

 

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I could hear my fellow Romaniac Vanessa’s voice in my head: “Freeze it for a couple of days, Jan, then have another read and things will look much clearer.”

Mr B, of course, agreed, and being as fantastically calm and reassuring as ever, came in from work the following day, clutching these: 

 

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Sure enough, upon reading through the report another two or three times, and accepting my lovely editor’s kind offer to walk me through it page by page, we arranged to meet in London.

I’d been a bit apprehensive on the train beforehand as, having absorbed the suggestions and feeling enthusiastic about ninety per cent of them, (even though I had no clue if I could actually implement them successfully!) I also knew there were one or two points we were likely to disagree on.

I needn’t have worried, because within ten minutes of meeting my editor and seeing her passion for my novel and my characters, and hearing her brilliant explanations of how the edits would help to enrich the overall story, I was eager to get cracking.

 

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I’d wrongly been of the mind-set that we were on opposing teams. Why would I feel like that? Was it preciousness on my part kicking in? Over-sensitivity to criticism (albeit hugely constructive) perhaps? It was very much a two-way discussion, with my thoughts and ideas fully respected. To quote my editor: “It’s your book, Jan.”

And so I set to work. It took me longer than I’d hoped, with a fair few huffs and puffs of frustration at myself along the way (and much cake & choccie scoffing!) but when I read through the revised copy of my manuscript, and could see how my editor’s proposals had strengthened the novel, I felt elated.

 

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I only hope my editor feels the same 😉

To say I’ve learned a lot from the experience would be downplaying it.

It feels great and very exciting to be part of such a fab team.

Next up … Line Edits!

Chocolate Button, anyone?

Jan x

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer: Receiving that Magical News.

Well, since my last update, things have gone ever so slightly crazy. Wonderfully crazy! All in all, it has been  a sparkling six weeks.

On February 14th, I found out that my first novel ‘As Weekends Go’ had been shortlisted in the Choc Lit  and Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.

I’d made the final six!

Cue stupid grins and shrieks aplenty at both Chez Brigden and Romaniac HQ.  It was going to be an extra special Valentine’s Day.

I then discovered I’d made the final two!

Which, naturally, called for fizz and chocolates …   20150314_131337

And THEN … on Saturday March 14th (I’ve decided I rather like the number 14!)  came the official announcement that I’d won the Search for a Star Competition

I can’t describe how elated I felt. Choc Lit would be offering me a contract. As Weekends Go was really going to be published.

It was a mad, mad day – lots of celebratory hugs and loving, supportive messages, both off and online. Mum and Dad came over, bearing choccies and flowers.  I had some fab cards, tweets and emails from family and friends, and messages of welcome from head of Choc Lit, Lyn Vernham, the whole team and the lovely authors.

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I’ll admit that, on the Monday morning,  when I logged on to see a special surprise post from my fantastic Romaniac buddies,  I was  bit of a blubbering Briggy!

More good cheer followed when my older sister treated me to a yummy congratulatory lunch.

 

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And then this week, I saw my first published Press Release. To say I am excited about the future is putting it mildly. I know I’ve said it before, but I truly am thankful for all the love and wise words of support and encouragement I’ve received from everyone, especially Mr B who has been  chief cuddler, co-editor, sounding board, morale booster, tantrum-dodger and counsellor extraordinaire all rolled into one. I will also be eternally grateful to my Romantic Novelists’ Association   New Writers’ Scheme reader, whose suggestions and advice when I originally submitted my novel for critique, were invaluable.

As Weekends Go is a contemporary multi POV tale – three interwoven stories – about two couples and the emotional havoc created during and beyond their eventful weekend clash of agendas, involving a ‘girls only’ trip to York, a Brighton sales conference and a Spanish stag do.

I can’t wait for you to meet the cast.

Thanks again,

Jan  x

 

 

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer – Jan Brigden

My little update …

I’m excited to say that I’ve started submitting my first novel ‘As Weekends Go …’ to literary agents.

At last!

“Sound the *cheer & fear in equal measures* klaxon!”

It’s a multi POV tale – three interwoven stories – about two couples and the emotional havoc created during and beyond their eventful weekend clash of agendas, involving a ‘girls only’ trip to York, a Brighton sales conference and a Spanish stag do.

 

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It took me ages to write, mainly due to my endless tweaking and re-tweaking, so I’m relieved and very proud to have reached this point. I just hope that someone believes in it as much as I do. I’ve had seven rejections so far, but all really nice ones, with some very positive and encouraging feedback.

I’m under no illusions about how hard it is to acquire agent representation, and would never rule out self-publishing, I simply want to try the traditional route first.

So … in the meantime, I’ve been studying publishers and writing competitions, and penning Book 2 – a standalone sequel to ‘As Weekends Go …’ which has involved plenty of eye-opening research. I’ve also been indulging and expanding my other literary passion – freelance proofreading.

I’m sure I’m not the only Romaniac who will express how invaluable the love, support and cheerleading from family and friends is. During the past five years (and then some …) my lovely husband Dave can certainly add to his CV: chief cuddler, co-editor, sounding board, morale booster, tantrum-dodger, counsellor extraordinaire … I could go on.

Believe me, every nugget of advice, encouragement and reassurance from everyone –  writerly or otherwise – has been very much appreciated.

Thank you.

Wish me luck, dear friends …

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 Jan  x

 

 

Jan Brigden – My First Novel, and My Love of Proofreading …

 

It’s no secret that my first novel took me a while to write. Okay, YONKS, mainly due to my endless tweaking and re-tweaking of it until it waved the white flag at me. I’m thrilled, therefore, to report that, having received a cracking report from my RNA New Writers’ Scheme reader, I’ve finally started submitting my book to agents.

To date, I’ve had four rejections.

Ouch!

They stung.

A lot.

I have, however, received some very encouraging feedback.

I’m under no illusions, and I’m certainly not averse to self-publishing, I simply want to try the traditional route first.

I must trust that someone will love my book and believe in it as much as I do …

My novel is a multi POV tale – three interwoven stories in one, if you like – entitled ‘As Weekends Go …’

 

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Here’s a little taster:

When Rebecca Stafford is gifted the chance of a weekend stay in one of York’s finest hotels with her best friend, Abi, the timing couldn’t be better. With her husband in Brighton for his summer sales conference and Abi’s boyfriend in Spain for a stag do, she has no reason to decline.

After all – what harm could come of it – apart from the odd raised eyebrow at home?

Rebecca also knows it might help take her mind off the fears she’s been having about her marriage; fears which her husband appears neither to share nor recognize.

Events, though, take an unexpected turn when Rebecca encounters a familiar fellow guest at the hotel. And with Abi’s relationship coming under scrutiny when temptation beckons, things soon become complicated.

Add in a power struggle with a twist in Brighton and the stag do from hell, and this clash of agendas guarantees all parties concerned a weekend to remember.

 

Keep your fingers crossed for me, dear friends.

****

 

On an entirely different literary note, I wanted to highlight here my love of proofreading.

I’ve quietly been expanding my portfolio, working on several novels/novellas for friends and acquaintances over time, using my own devised system and, more recently, track changes, with positive results.

I don’t hold a professional qualification, just a beady eye for detail and years of experience at wielding my trusty red pen in various office jobs I’ve previously held. I remember pointing out a horrendous typo to one particularly Godzilla-like company CEO on a document he was about to sign off to a potential client. He looked so gobsmacked, I thought he was going to sack me! Luckily, he just huffed and puffed a bit and from that day on declared me ‘chief checker’.

 

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A few clients have kindly provided testimonials for me, a couple of which are below:

‘It is a pleasure to provide a testimonial for Jan Brigden. I have used her services twice, to proofread my self-published novels which have been uploaded to amazon sites throughout the world. As an indie author, I am aware that some self-published novels have been neither proofread nor formatted professionally, often resulting in a less than perfect result. Thanks to Mrs Brigden’s skills, I have received no negative feedback from readers vis a vis typos, grammatical slips or other omissions in my novels. I would recommend Mrs Brigden unreservedly to other writers who need someone to check over their work. I will be sending my next novel for her to proofread in due course.’

Elizabeth Lamb

 

I hired Jan Brigden to proofread my first completed book. After countless rewrites, I required a reader with a good eye for grammar and detail to go through the manuscript and pick up on errors I had missed. Having gone through chapter-by-chapter, and at my pace, I was delighted with the work Jan carried out, and had the confidence to submit my novel to publishers. With a professional, friendly attitude, easy-to-understand system and great value for money, I highly recommend Jan Brigden’s Proofreading Service.’

Laura E James

 

If you would like to get in touch with me about potentially proofreading your novel/novella/short story, etc, please feel free to email me at janbrigdenproof@gmail.com to discuss.

You can also contact me via Facebook or Twitter (@Briggy44)
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 Many Thanks,

Jan X