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!



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



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.




And now it is just over three weeks until publication.




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



Connect with me on Twitter @Briggy44 or at @theromaniacs

And on Facebook – Jan Brigden


Spring has well and truly sprung …


And now we come to the part of the year when everything suddenly seems more hopeful. The sun’s shining  (at the moment)  and there are signs of buds and green stuff and blossomy bits and bobs. The birds are tweeting very loudly. The butterflies are doing whatever butterflies do – flitting and fluttering and suchlike. The windows look grubby. Oh – scratch the last one – it sneaked into the good list by mistake.

When the New Year happened I didn’t get round to any proper resolutions due to being full of cake and wine and so on,  but I’m taking the unusual step of making one now. It’s about my blog. Not the Romaniac blog – this one is fine because it’s got eight people paying attention to it. No, the blog I’m referring to is the dusty, cobwebby one with just my own name on it. It needs TLC. So my spring resolution is to post on it three times a week. Only short snippets, with maybe a picture, but enough to stop it crying and complaining about being neglected. If you get the urge to check up on this promise, it can be found on

2014-03-16 09.53.39

I hope the photos get you in the mood for the season of birds’ nests, daffodils and hot cross buns. Over to you now.  Is the sunshine making you all motivated and bouncy? Have you got any resolutions that slipped through the net in January?

The Romaniacs would love to know …


Spring; The Waiting Game.

Spring trying to arrive in Somerset
Spring trying to arrive in Somerset

Celia: I’m not very good at waiting. No, that’s something of an understatement, I am absolutely pants when it comes to patience. Just the thought of things happening gradually (and especially that horrible phrase ‘in the fullness of time’) have always given me the jitters. But just lately, while we’ve all been waiting and longing for spring sunshine, daffodils, butterflies etc to appear and for the country to warm up a bit, I’ve been having a rethink.

Without going into boring details, there have been several big changes and breakthroughs in my life during the last year. I’m now officially an orphan and therefore possibly a grown-up at last. And grown-ups are meant to be patient…aren’t they? My change of heart about the value of biding my time could be due to the excitement of getting a real live contract after long months searching for an agent and a publisher. It’s probably also a lot to do with a traumatic family relationship, long fractured and seemingly hopeless, that time has finally healed. Whatever the reason, I’m beginning to think that some things might, just might, be worth waiting for – if there’s no other option.

I asked the other inhabitants of Romaniac HQ for their views on the subject of playing the waiting game:

Sue : I am and I’m not. How’s that for sitting on the fence? I’m very patient when it comes to other people but when it comes to getting things done, I want it done yesterday. I hate waiting. I think that can at times make me quite impulsive. I am trying to be more patient as I get older, but it’s hard to break a lifetime of rushing to get things done. I am looking forward to spring. I usually enjoy all the seasons but, I have to say, I’m a bit bored of winter now. It’s encouraging to see the blossom on the tree in my garden. Surely, spring will be here soon.


Jan: I like to think I’m pretty patient with most people, especially friends & family. “You’re a good listener!” they tell me. I’m also quite restrained where long queues are concerned, as in airport check-in lines or traffic jams. I suppose where I do feel the steam rising slightly is if I’m trying to figure out instructions and can’t grasp things straight away, generally with new gadgets or household products, rather than with teachers or text books. The only other time impatience strikes, of course, is if I can’t unwrap a box of chocolates quick enough! 😉 As for remaining uncomplaining about the weather… well, spring can’t come quick enough. It’s my favourite season. New beginnings, beautiful blossom on the trees, daffodils and other buds & blooms, brighter days & lighter evenings, the promise of summer still to come, dusting off my flip flops… I could go on and on.

Vanessa: I read Celia’s post above and a lot of it could have been written by me … except for the contract bit – I’m still waiting for that one! Since losing my dad at the end of last year, I’ve become almost panicky when it comes to waiting, a little voice in my head is constantly whispering life is too short. I had the same thing when I lost other people, friends and family members, that reminder of your own mortality you get when someone dies and all the things on the to-do list that remain un-ticked. I’m trying to force myself to slow down, to not rush everything to completion, and at the same time to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. And mostly, to remind myself that some things are worth waiting for, with the end results all the more delicious for the tense build-up the waiting game offers.

Laura: ‘All good things come to those who wait’ – I can hear those words in my mothers’s voice. For most of the time, when major situations are involved, I’m happy to sit tight and let them play out, and I believe this stems from my fatalistic nature – what will be, will be. And yes, I am now singing one of my all time favourite Doris Day songs, the sentiment of which incidentally, brings a sincere tear to my eye.

Life is short, and we should make our own luck, but sometimes, waiting is good for the soul. Sometimes, waiting provides distance from the core issue, and distance provides perspective. That change of view might make us see things differently, and stop us from blindly rushing in.
I wonder how connected patience are acceptance are?

So, what are you waiting for right now? And is the waiting game one you’re happy to play?

After the Ball is over – the B words that spring to mind.

I’m writing this as the house is rocked by a gale and a cheery fire burns in the Romaniac grate. Lucie and Vanessa have kept it well stoked up with logs while the rest of us have been off partying for Britain, but the biscuit barrel is empty. Never mind, we ate for Britain too at the Festival of Romance, and the canapés at the RNA Winter Party were yummy. Here are a few words that remind me of the events of the past few days, and they all, strangely, begin with B:
Baggot, Mandy: The wonderful Lady B shared her best wet-look catsuit moment at the Romaniac quiz on Saturday night. What a star.
Baby Bumps: Talli Roland and Kate Allan demonstrated that big is beautiful – when I was about to give birth (many moons ago) we were expected to wear huge tent dresses with white collars and bows, as modelled by Princess Diana, popsocks optional. Thank goodness you’re allowed to wear fabulous figure hugging lace now, Talli.
Blogging: The importance of keeping a high blog profile was mentioned quite a lot – mine needs serious surgery. But the Romaniac Blog is functioning well, and we especially love your comments. #smileswinningly
Breakfasts: Uttering a little greedy moan just thinking about these.
Books: I was determined not to buy too many. Failed miserably, but they looked sooooooooo tempting. A few more can’t hurt, can they?
Bedroom scenes: Still thinking about tactics for keeping my mind pure, following one of the talks on Sunday. Oh, why fight a losing battle? Let the smut rage.
Big Moment: Friday night, with the gala dinner almost ready to be served – we had cheered for all our favourites and the awards were over…or so I thought. The last one was the winner of the competition for the Piatkus Entice contract. And that, unfortunately, brings me onto my next B
Bread: which was what my mouth was full of when my name was called and I had to wiggle through all the tables to the front, frantically chewing. Note to self – wait for dinner next time, however nice the bread looks.
And finally, the most important B of all –
Buddies: New ones, old ones and Romaniac ones. That’s what the FoR and the Winter Party were all about for me. Even if all that talking was a bit tiring…

Best wishes, back soon – Celia 🙂

A Celebration Of Writing Companions

Do you have someone or something that keeps you company while you tap away at the keyboard? Today we thought we’d celebrate our writing companions. Meet the pets/mascots that keep The Romaniacs in check during their writing day:

Laura: Apart from a selection of animal toys my children have scattered on my desk, I have two real-life cats, Ringo and Daisy. They are not the sort of cats to sit on my desk when I am writing, but the blanket of fur covering my keyboard and printer each morning suggests they are moonlighting.

Ringo is the white and black cat and Daisy is the black and white cat. They decided to live with us, Daisy moving in a year before Ringo. He wasn’t keen on the idea of being snipped and chipped.

We adore them, they make us laugh and they keep me company late at night when the other humans have gone to bed and I’m getting some words down.

Celia: I’ve also got cats but only one of them – Arthur – is relaxing enough to write alongside. Just looking at him spreadeagled on the floor (or the table if he can get away with it) is usually enough to make me feel quite mellow but ready for work. 

Here he’s pictured in party mood and  reclining while he decides what to watch on TV. I also have a wonderful mouse mat with a picture of a Bavarian meadow and a cloud-topped mountain – it reminds me of a great holiday and inspires me to write settings involving German sausages and foaming pints of beer – food porn?

Liz: Four years ago, I accidentally bought a cat. Luckily
for me – it was one of my best accidents.  I’d visited a
pet rescue centre to look at kittens and there were lots of them but one in particular caught my eye. He was a little bundle of fluff with big furry ears and bright frightened eyes, shaking in the corner as a dog sniffed around him. Without thinking I scooped him up and the moment I felt his little heart racing inside his shivers, I knew I had to
take him home. So I did.

I didn’t have anything prepared for him and it was late at night so after shooting to the local supermarket and
discovering they didn’t sell litter trays, we had to improvise.  And that’s how Ralphus the cat ended up peeing in a bright red ceramic roasting tray for the first few days of his new life.

Ralph makes me laugh all the time and the little adventures of his life, like the one above, always inspire me to write.

Jan: I don’t have any pets (apart from Mr B, of course!) but I am surrounded by lots of fluffy and some not so fluffy writing buddies who’ve witnessed me whooping with joy when the words flow, to slumping, head held in hands, when they don’t.  I’m sure if they could talk, they’d have a few stories to tell 😉

  These three trusty companions (or gonks as my niece calls them) reside on the base of my PC. Everything has a name in The Brigden household (I’m not really a big kid. Honest! )From left to right : Bella Ladybird (lord knows why, it just seemed like a good name at the time) Kiki, my little fluffy Koala who an ex-boss brought back from Oz for me, and Fluff, who is, well, an orange stripey ball of fluff!

Then there is Dougal, who hangs on the back of the kitchen door, who I can see from where I sit at my PC. My neighbour brought him back from Scotland for me. He’s supposed to be a carrier bag holder but I’ve never used him as such.  So, none of them pets exactly, but still loveable…                 

Trevor & Arnold

Catherine: I’m with Jan on this. I love the idea of having a pet and we’ll have one in the future, but for now it’s fluffy companions that keep me company. In the picture are the travelling companions: Arnold the travelling hedgehog and Trevor the travelling wombat. They came all around the world with us when we went travelling for our honeymoon. Here they can be seen with a friend they made: a camel in India. These days they stay at home and keep me company along with Binky Boy, Bertie the Bee, Ted the Puffin and so many more!

Sue : I wouldn’t necessarily say that my dog, Tess, is my writing companion but she certainly keeps me company on our daily walks. She is slightly mad, but then most labradors are. However, at over nine years old, she really could do with acting her age, which in dog years I make that 63.  She has her posh Kennel Club name of Kilmiltry Belle Dame but at home she’s plain old Tess (although she answers to pretty much anything, ‘Stupid’ being a particular favourite).

Lucie : My writing companions are my pets, Dame and Jerry. Dame is an English Bull Terrier and we have had her since she was 6 weeks old. This June, she turned 7! Dame hasn’t always been a writing companion as I used to work upstairs in the spare room, but since I have had a shift of rooms and moved downstairs into the conservatory, she has taken up residence under my desk.

Jerry was an Easter present for my daughter last year. She had been asking for a kitten for so long and we finally caved in April last year and got a teeny tiny black and white kitten who was about 4 weeks old – and a mischievous little thing! Nearly 18 months later and Jerry isn’t so little, but is twice as mischievous!  He also decided to take up residence underneath my desk …

Luckily, they are best friends so Dame doesn’t mind sharing.

Vanessa: We got Fred earlier this year after we lost out lovely grey cat, Trevor. We went to the cat adoption centre determined to get another girl cat (yes, Trevor was a girl) and definitely a kitten. No grown-up boy cats for us. But they didn’t have any kittens and they made us walk past all the grown-up cats… and Fred chose us. He was so friendly and pretty we couldn’t say no, so we came away with a one-year-old boy cat. They warned us it could take him a while to settle, that he might be wary, he might hide under furniture and be scared of us for a good few weeks. This photo is Fred at the end of his first day with us. I think he looks fairly relaxed…

But is he a good writing companion? Hmmm… the problem with Fred is he likes sitting on my laptop. It gets nice and warm and he seems to find it a very cosy place to settle. Several times, I’ve found pages of random letters and gobbledygook in my writing – whether it’s his attempt to communicate or just some accidental typing as a result of bottom shifting, I’m not sure. He’s a lovely cat and none of us can imagine the house without him in it – and if he works on his typing skills, he may end up very useful as a writing companion…

Debbie: In January we had to have our old boy, Simba, put to sleep. 

Simba was my constant writing companion and used to attach himself to my feet like my sloppiest, comfiest pair of slippers. 

Oh, how he used to smell. But I didn’t mind his smell…or his snoring. He snored marginally less than my ex (and never betrayed my good nature!)

It was hard to imagine any dog could replace the gaping hole he left…

However, we’ve been blessed. A dear friend’s dog had pups and she approached me about a year ago to ask whether I’d be interested. My ex wouldn’t let us have a second dog and I knew Simba probably wasn’t long for here so we went for it and got ‘Bruno.’ For a few short months, Grandpa Simba showed him the ropes and protected him. In return, Bruno tormented his mentor, mercilessly hanging off his ears, clambering all over him and not allowing him to sleep. But Simba never complained, right up until the end… 😦 

It may sound silly – they were very different dogs; different body weights, different colours etc and it may be just Labrador traits, but it sometimes feels as if Bruno is Simba re-incarnated. He has so many of Simba’s characteristics and little ways. Yet if anything, Bruno is even more sensitive to my moods and foibles as he keeps me company at the laptop and when I walk, mulling and musing over plots and writing projects.

I still miss Simba terribly but thank my lucky stars every day that we found Bruno boy who has brought us so much joy these last months, and whom I know will continue to support me through my writing journey! 

So what about you? Do you have a pet or otherwise that keeps you company whilst you write? If you do, please tell us about them…