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.


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!


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.


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!).


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.


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 – 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


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.





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.


3 (2)


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.





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 …



 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.


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 …’





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’.




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 to discuss.

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


 Many Thanks,

Jan X


What’s Your Current Position?

At Romaniac HQ, we often find ourselves in awkward positions. It’s tricky keeping one’s modesty with nine people occupying the same living space. Sue was in the kitchen with a good-looking Texan last year. The explanation, ‘We were cooking’, did nothing to settle our nerves.USoL-cover-HQ

We’d like to know where you are and what you’re doing with your hero or heroine, right this moment, and then, we want you to divulge your most favourite position with them.

We’ll get the ball rolling, for want of a better phrase.

Laura : In Follow Me, I’m in a wooded english garden, overlooking Chesil Beach, with a Hollywood Action Hero sprawled at my feet, on the veiny ground. IMG_1180And my favourite position? In bed, with a thoughtful, gentle and humorous Irishman, at The Smugglers Inn, in Truth or Dare?

Sue : Well, I’ve managed to extract myself from the kitchen and now find myself on Felpham Beach in West Sussex, skimming stones with Donovan, a criminal (69)

My most favourite position? An autumn evening, sat on the beach, snuggled under a blanket with said criminal psychologist; wind blowing, waves crashing and moonlight dancing on the whites of the waves.

Debbie: Well, I’m hard at work on my WIP for the NWS with ‘James Hardaker.’ We’re in the emerald green hills of the Yorkshire Dales, one of my favourite parts of the world (and where I was brought up.) Spring-time in Berrywood means my vetinary hero is currently zipping around the country lanes tending ewes who are having a hard time lambing!

By co-incidence I’m visiting the Dales next week for a little more inspiration. It is sooo beautiful in that part of the world.

As for my favourite position, well, that has to be in front of the log burner! Either on the rug or sofa…

CreekCatherine: I’m never doing it again. Oh, sorry. May have got the wrong gist. My latest heroine is struggling with the idea she might have fertility issues and will end up with her legs up in stirrups as a result. Not quite what you were hoping for with this post. So I’ll go back to a creek in Kuringai Chase National Park. An isolated spot outside of Sydney, Australia where my hero and heroine meet in Miles Between Us.

Celia: In Little Boxes, I’m on a very special bench at a country park by a beautiful lake in Peterborough with a man who can’t commit to a passionate relationship…yet. The weather is chilly but the temperature between the lead players is set to sizzle. And my favourite position – horizontal in a Travelodge.

Back bench

Jan: I’m standing, mesmerized, rooted to the spot halfway down a red-carpeted sweeping staircase in a glorious York manor house, staring into the eyes of a tanned, athletic Yorkshireman. And my favourite position? Lying face down on a massage table, mentally reliving every delightful second of it…

I can recommend all of these positions 🙂

Now it’s over to you…where, how and who?

Laura 😉 xx

The Benefits of Venturing Beyond my Boundaries…

Stepping out of my comfort zone – a phrase I’d usually associated with some dare-devilish feat such as hurling myself backwards out of a plane or scaling Mount Everest. I’d certainly never linked it to my writing. Well, not during the plotting, researching and first drafting stages, anyway. All that bubbling enthusiasm, coffee on tap, whilst I sat, hunched over my PC, squeezing out another chapter…

But then, oddly, instead of completing the draft, I started editing as I went along, revisiting scenes over and over again, tweaking and re-tweaking, picking and pulling apart every sentence until my poor old novel almost waved the white flag at me.   

It was like I was trying to delay the process, as if all of a sudden it had become too real.

People began asking me: “When can we read it, Jan?” or “When will it be finished?” quoting words like synopsis and self-promotion.


I mean, give me a drum to clatter on someone else’s behalf, and I’m there, but bang my own? Were they serious?

I could feel the pressure mounting as fast as my zest and bounce dwindled. My self-belief had been well and truly walloped by The Fear Factor.                                                                                                        


But then a little voice in my head piped up: “What about all the hard work you’ve put in? The passion, the research trips back and forth to York, and the unwavering support you’ve received from Mr B, your family & friends?”

And so began my voyage across the border.

I can do this, I thought, tentatively joining Facebook and Twitter. After all, I was a friendly enough soul, wasn’t I?

And sure enough, I was soon interacting with both published and unpublished writers, relishing their advice, kindness, support and complete understanding of how I’d felt, quickly realizing that it was actually all quite normal. Friendships I’d begun to establish were strengthening week by week and I could feel myself starting to believe again.

A huge personal breakthrough for me was hearing about the RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) and their New Writers’ Scheme. I’d attended an inspiring talk given by four incredibly friendly and approachable authors (Juliet Archer, Victoria Connelly, Jean Fullerton and Janet Gover) who suggested I go along to one of their local RNA chapter meetings, as they’re referred to, in London.

I remember, upon arrival, how daunted I felt. Rainlashed and windswept, hoping that someone would recognize me and praying that I wouldn’t fall flat on my face, Calamity Jan style, as I walked through the door.

Instead, it was like being welcomed into a giant group hug. Lots of laughter, writerly chat and encouragement.

Thrilled to be accepted for The New Writers’ Scheme the following year, it finally dawned on me how beneficial being able to submit my manuscript (or in my case, partial manuscript) and obtain feedback from my elected RNA reader would be.

I’d confronted my fears and although terrified at the prospect of somebody reading and critiquing my work, I knew inside that it represented my best hope of progressing.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried like a baby when I opened my NWS report. Yes, there were negatives, but constructively composed and professionally advised negatives, suggesting how and where to strengthen and far outweighed by the positives which, in turn, far exceeded my expectations.                                                                                                            

The huge sense of relief and freedom it gave me renewed my confidence, hence my subsequent participation in The Romaniacs group blog which has been an absolute honour and joy to be part of (thank you, Laura, Sue, Celia, Liz, Vanessa, Lucie, Catherine & Debbie). I can’t believe now that I almost chickened out!

Whilst it’s still nice to occasionally wrap myself up in my old familiarity blanket and plant myself firmly back in the zone, the rewards of travelling beyond it, I’ve discovered, are priceless.

I’d love to know your thoughts and stories on the subject. Can you identify with me?

Jan x

Gift or Gaffe?

What’s the most romantic or unromantic present you’ve ever received?


Delightful or Frightful?

Here are some of our most memorable…

Laura: Delightful – My husband got it absolutely right a few years ago when he presented me with a hardback copy of Roget’s Thesaurus. I’m sure it doesn’t rate as highly for most, as a dozen red roses or diamond ear-rings, but I not only wanted this book, I NEEDED it. I mean, REALLY NEEDED it.

I had an old paperback copy that smelled of an antique bookshop (in itself, a good thing), but the sticky tape holding it together was no longer holding it together and it had turned that particular shade of urine yellow that suggests something is well past its use-by date. Inside, the pages that were desperately hanging on didn’t have the strength to ridicule those that had fallen away. It was a very sad, very unhappy paperback. It now lives a life of comfort tucked on a top shelf of my wardrobe, enjoying its hard-earned retirement amongst its friends, the Rhyming Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary.

My new Thesaurus sits besides me, at my desk, always ready and always willing. It not only looks good, but smells good and can express ‘love’ in a multitude of ways. What’s not romantic about that?

Frightful – A black and white silk scarf. I know. Call me ungrateful, but I was twenty-one at the time and did not appreciate the finer things in life. The reason it upset me was because I felt my then-boyfriend hadn’t a clue who I was or what I was about. I learned from that experience and now regularly remind GAJITMAN who I am. 😉 xx

Catherine: Delightful – Pink GHD hair straighteners from my OH. My hair is so thick these are a god send and the fact they are pink! Well, I LOVE them!

Frightful – Back when I was at University I really wanted flowers from my boyfriend on Valentine’s Day and told him so on several occasions. So when Valentine’s Day arrived and he handed me a clear plastic box with a teddy saying ‘I Love You’ with some small plastic fake flowers, I was gutted. It was horrid. And one of the reasons he’s my ex. Word of advice, boys, listen to the Mrs when she states her preferences 😉

Celia: Delightful – A book about one of my all-time favourite authors Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie, etc) by her daughter. I didn’t know the book existed; I’ve got the whole set of the Little House ones but this was about Laura’s family life and made her seem real. The gift was from a man who had only known me for 5 days, and who’d  listened at some point to my burblings about books that meant a lot to me. He’d searched the book shops of San Francisco for it, and gave it to me on our first day as a couple. Needless to say, dear reader, I married him.

Frightful –  Garage flowers. Note to men – please leave them in the garage.


 Sue : My delightful and frightful are actually the same thing.  One afternoon sat at the top of The Trundle, watching the light aircraft take off and land at Goodwood airfield, I had said something whimsical like, ‘Oh that would be a fun thing to do – fly a small plane.’ I thought no more of it and the conversation moved on.  Anyway, all credit to him, he’d been listening and remembered – my birthday arrived and he proudly produced my birthday gift voucher of a one hour flying lesson. I was genuinely pleased, at the time.   Trouble was, when it actually came to it, I couldn’t bring myself to book the lesson. I hold my then boss totally responsible as he spent several weeks telling all sorts of small aircraft horror stories. In the end I just chickened out. I regret not doing it now, so maybe one day…

Vanessa: Delightful – I don’t want to make everyone gag by being too gooey, but I’ve received a few delightful gifts from my lovely husband, most of them of the money can’t buy type. The one I’ll mention here is writing related… Like many people, I’ve being trying this writing lark for a while – short stories as well as novels. Two years ago, I had my first printed success, winning 1st place in a Writing Magazine competition. When the magazine came out, my husband bought an extra copy and framed it for me, gift-wrapping it with a lovely message about it being the first of many. His complete faith in me made it one of the most delightful gifts I’ve received.

Frightful – Socks. Not novelty socks, or cashmere socks, or designer socks. Just one pair of cheap, plain black socks for my birthday from a college boyfriend. I don’t know why – despite being a poverty-stricken student, I was not suffering a sock shortage. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been frightful if he’d been a long-standing boyfriend, and it was one present of many. These days I quite like receiving socks. But it was my first birthday with this brand-new boyfriend and it was my 21st. My hopes were set the teensiest bit higher.

Debbie: Delightful – My (now) ex was very thoughtful and I could list many lovely and romantic pressies he bought me. However, the one that sticks most in my mind is not long after I’d had my second son, approximately eleven years ago…                                                                                                                                   

Hearing a knock at the door, I opened it to find two men in a van trying to deliver a piano. I thought they had the wrong house and argued with them for a while until they showed me the delivery note and made me ring my then husband. He had bought me one as a surprise as he knew how much I’d missed my piano and hadn’t played in over 25 years. I was so surprised and touched, I couldn’t speak for three days. Believe me, that’s saying something!

Frightful – This is easy peasy. How much worse can you get than a staple gun, girls? Admittedly I’d asked for one as I was trying to get a little craft business off the ground, but I ask you…

Talk about from the sublime to the ridiculous. Piano to staple gun. Jeez, is it any wonders he’s now my ex! 

Lucie: Delightful – As some of the other ladies have said, I’ve had many lovely gifts from my husband. One of my favourites was presented to me just months after we got together (me being 17 and him, 19.) I am very much interested in acting, dancing, singing – I was studying performing arts at the time, at college – and for my 17th birthday he gave me tickets to go and see the musical Chicago in the west end. We got all dressed up and spent the day in London, going for dinner and then to the Adelphi Theatre to see Chicago. It was a wonderful gift and I loved the show. 

Frightful – My frightful gift wasn’t actually from a boyfriend, but just a friend, who went on holiday. She bought me back a pen. Now it doesn’t sound too bad, but let me tell you a little story. My name is different. I grant that. It is not the usual, conventional spelling of the name Lucie. And you know those pens/mugs/books you can buy with your name on? Well I got one of these pens from said friend. However, the shop didn’t have ‘Lucie’, they only had ‘Lucy’. So my gift was this; a pen, with the inscription, ‘they didn’t have my name!

Jan: Delightful – I’d planned to go to York for the day for research purposes. I was on a really tight schedule but knowing how much I love the place and with my birthday looming, Mr B decided to come with me and booked us into a hotel for a couple of nights so it wouldn’t be so rushed. Very thoughtful. And a lovely surprise.

Frightful – Would have to be the fake bottle of Chanel No5 an ex-boyfriend bought for me one Valentine’s Day many moons ago which went off within a week and left a green tinge on my neck. Eeeeew!

* Our lovely Liz is currently sunning herself in Cuba. A delightful gift in itself 🙂

We’d love to hear about your most memorable gifts. So tell us, were you left elated or deflated?