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London, Can You Wait? A Peak into An Author’s Life And Writing

London Can You Wait

Image courtesy of Jacquelyn Middleton

Award winning self-published author, Jacquelyn Middleton recently published her second book, “London, Can You Wait?”.  It’s a sequel to her hit contemporary romance, “London Belongs to Me.”  As much as Middleton may be a fan girl with certain movie and TV stars, that’s how this avid reader feels about authors.  Even though I know Jackie, I still fan-girled a little when I got to speak with her about her latest release and what it was like to be a self-published author.  I think that if you are someone who has written, published and promoted a book on your own, that too is a love story all of it’s own.  It’s so much work, and there is so much of yourself invested in the process.  Middleton is proof that if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen.


Image Courtesy of Jacquelyn Middleton

1) Why write a sequel?

I really missed the characters and selfishly, wanted hang out with them a little bit more. I also received so many requests from readers wanting to know what happens next, so I thought, why not? London, Can You Wait? is technically a sequel, but it can be read as a standalone.

2) Will this be a series?

As of right now, London Belongs to Me and London, Can You Wait? will remain a duology. I’m currently writing my third book and while it’s not a sequel to my London books, it does follow the same time line and takes place in the same world, so characters from the other books may be known by the new characters and may appear. Which ones? I’m not saying! It also takes place in New York City, so it’s fun to explore one of my other favourite cities in a literary sense. I did toy with writing a third London Belongs book because I was so sad when I finished writing London, Can You Wait?—it was like losing a bunch of friends—but I didn’t want to ruin a book thing. Sometimes, no matter how much fun you had, it’s time to leave the party.

3) What was the process like writing your second book versus your first?

 I feel like London, Can You Wait? is a more complex book than London Belongs to Me.  There are more layers, there are flashbacks, which I’ve never written before and I must admit it challenged me, but I ended up loving it! The flashbacks were easy to write and I think that’s down to knowing the characters so well.
The research process was basically the same. I like to make my settings as real as possible so I visited the places I featured in the books. It definitely helps that I love London and these places were settings I’d be visiting anyway! But there were a few new places I found while doing online research and then I followed up with an in-person visit before the book went to the editor just to make sure I had all the details right.  With my first book, I spent a ton of time at the National Theatre which is a major setting. There are lots of little corners, stairwells, cafes, great areas for scenes. I sat in Alex’s writing spot to understand what she would see and hear. I also had been to all the theatres mentioned, spent weekends out at London Fields, and literally walked (or drove) following the paths of my characters. When I’m trying to figure out where a character will live, I check real estate listings—that’s how I learned about an amazing apartment near Tower Bridge, Lucy’s flat, and all the other locales.
As for writing, I tend to do rewrites of previous chapters in the morning and then in the afternoon, right ahead into the story. I know that goes against what many writers do. Many get their first draft down and then go back and edit, but I don’t work that way. I have trouble moving ahead if I haven’t cleaned up issues that are nagging at me earlier on. Writing both books became easier the further I went in the process. I think you learn more about the characters as you go and it makes it easier to know how they’ll react, what they’ll say. It’s fun.

4) What was it like to market the first book on your own?

It was a lot of work, but it was also nice to have control over everything!  Between my husband Darren and I, we updated the website, sent out books and bookmarks, and worked with bloggers, BookTubers, and Instagram’s “Bookstagram” community to get the word out.  I love giveaways and do a lot of them as a way to reach out to readers and give something back. All our hard work was worth it. Within its first year, London Belongs to Me sold several thousand copies, which is huge for an independent author’s debut.  People from all over the world—Japan, Puerto Rico, Columbia, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Mexico—have read London Belongs to Me and it’s still selling, which makes me very happy, and most of those readers are continuing Alex and Mark’s journey with London, Can You Wait?—it’s so wonderful to see.

5) What do you attribute the success of your books to?

I think the covers pull people in. People love them and so do I. They’re stunning. That’s one of the great things about being an indie, you can create your own covers (traditionally published authors don’t have much, if any, say in their covers). Darren and I worked together on both covers. I found photos I loved and he did all the magic with licencing and photoshop, and the work paid off—there have been over 300 photos posted on Instagram and that number keeps growing weekly. Once people bought the books and went beyond the covers, I think they loved Alex’s story. Who doesn’t like a fish out of water story about an underdog and her friends—with a swoony, angsty romance? With London, Can You Wait? you also learn much more about Mark and his family as well as Lucy, Freddie and the gang. People who love the books really love them and their word of mouth and wonderful reviews have been so helpful. I also received rave reviews from Kirkus Reviews and RT Book Reviews which gave the industry’s thumbs up which is always amazing to have.

6) Which book release was more nerve-wracking?

London, Can You Wait? for sure.  With the first book, it was a personal challenge—write a book and publish it, see if I could do it. The process was fun and there really wasn’t any pressure. No readers knew me, I didn’t have people to please. With my second book, I had new personal pressure to make London, Can You Wait? even better than London Belongs to Me. I learned so much writing London Belongs to Me—what worked, what didn’t, what to change for next time—I think my second book was all the better for it. Plus, with my second book, I had readers waiting and there was pressure (from myself) to give them something they would enjoy.

7) I know that you are writing a third book.  Do you feel more confident as a writer now?

Yes and no.  I write for myself first.  If I’m happy with what I’m writing, I hope that someone else will enjoy it too.  None of my books are perfect, but I know that I’m evolving in the right direction.  A good review, like one I received on Kirkus, is wonderful validation, but ultimately, I have to be happy with the book first or I’m not going to put it out there.  I do think that London, Can You Wait? is better written than London Belongs to Me, but I love them both so much.

8) How much attention do you pay to negative reviews?

I have learned that if I read a bad review, it ruins me for writing that day, so I don’t read them anymore. My books have received more positive reviews than negative ones, but you can see tons of good reviews and you’ll still focus on the bad one. It’s human nature.  I have spoken to really successful authors for my Authors Celebrating Authors feature on my website and they have told me the same thing. They avoid reading reviews too, or have someone else look at them and then report back!

9) How much editing was involved in “London, Can You Wait?”

I had more beta readers for London, Can You Wait? and I hired a professional editor who polished it all up. I only did one or two rounds of edits. It didn’t take too long at all.

10) Back to the book… You received a lot of positive feedback on your heroine, Alex Sinclair’s anxiety and making it such an important part of the plot.  As an author, how does it feel to make such a big impact on people?

I like that my books are making it easier for people to talk about anxiety and panic attacks. I have had readers email me and say that my books helped them realize they weren’t alone and it’s okay to have anxiety, that they shouldn’t be ashamed. As an anxiety sufferer myself, that’s been the best thing about publishing Alex’s story. In many ways, parts of Alex’s story are my story especially with the anxiety arc. When I started writing, I really wanted to put a spotlight on anxiety and panic attacks, and try in a small way to break down the stigma that they have. Too often, people think anyone with a mental illness is weak, and that’s just not the case. Alex is actually a very strong, brave gal. She’s not weak because she has anxiety—her strength actually stems from it and all she has had to go through, and I hope her journey will help more people realize it’s okay to be open about mental health. We need to talk about it, share our experiences, and inform people who are ignorant about mental health. I’m so proud of Alex and who she has become. If she were real, I’d give her a huge hug.

11) How do you think that the characters grew in book two versus where they were in book one, or did their flaws continue to be an issue?

Characters must change or the book will be a bore, and my characters change a lot in London, Can You Wait?.  It kicks off a year after London Belongs to Me, so the characters have already changed somewhat before you even start the first page. When I think back to my early twenties, there was so much growth and change at that age. All the characters have grown up a bit. They still love their fandoms but they also have jobs, relationships, and are trying to find their independence. I think their romantic attachments are more grown up too (this is my way of saving London, Can You Wait? is racier than London Belongs to Me!).

12) What does success look like for you for this book?
I hope more people fall in love with Alex and Mark. To me, that’s success, to reach more readers and have them enjoy my books. I also want to continue the anxiety, panic attack, mental health dialogue and London, Can You Wait? has been celebrated for that arc, so in that way, the book has already been successful. It’s getting that message out and I couldn’t be happier.

13) Give my readers your top picks for British snacks and candy?

  1. Cadbury Chocolate Buttons
  2. Cheese and Onion Crisps
  3. Jaffa Cakes
  4. Percy Pigs
  5. Pickled Onion Monster Munch

14) Cast the movie of this book!

I know who I would cast, but I never share that info! I want readers to cast the books themselves and I would hate to interfere with who they envision as the characters.

You can buy Jacquelyn Middleton’s book in-store (Indigo) or online and,,,,



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London Can You Wait – A Review

London Can You Wait

Image courtesy of

Many of you who know me, or have read my blog know that I’m an avid reader.  I’m currently trying to read 50 books this year, but I think I’m going to have to settle for 40 – I’m only on number 37 now.  Aim high and manage your expectations I say.  I looked back at the books that I’ve read this year, and let’s just say that my tastes run a little to the depressing/critically acclaimed side of the bookstore.  Books read include “First They Killed My Father”, “The Cellist of Sarajevo”, “House of Sand and Fog”, “Girl With the Pearl Earring” and “The Colour of Our Sky”.  All excellent, but the common thread is that although some may have uplifting moments, generally speaking, they aren’t the happiest books that I’ve ever read.  You wouldn’t catch me smiling to myself as I flipped the pages of these tomes on the subway.  That is why I was grateful to find out that my friend, author Jacquelyn Middleton was publishing a sequel to her popular book “London Belongs to Me”.

“London, Can You Wait?” was a breath of fresh air.  Sometimes, in life, things get heavy, and you need something to escape to and that’s exactly what this was for me.  The follow up novel picks up a year after the end of her first book with her heroine Alex and her boyfriend Mark together and enjoying their relationship.  It was a very different book from “London Belongs to Me”.  Her first novel was great – you can read my review here  That book could very well be classified as Young Adult, but “London, Can You Wait?” takes a decidedly more adult spin on the tale of its two main characters.  We aren’t talking “50 Shades of Grey”, but I would say it was at least 5 shades of baby blue.

It’s definitely chick lit, but there is a part of the tale that is true to the original book – Alex suffers from panic attacks, and this makes the book a stand out from traditional women’s fiction.  It’s a real struggle for her, and it impacts her in various ways in the book.  It is a contributing factor that led to issues in her relationship with Mark, and it plays on her confidence making it relatable to people who suffer for panic attacks, and bringing a greater understanding to people like me who don’t have them.  It also explains how Alex deals with things and instead of feeling frustrated with her inaction at times, you get insight into why she makes the decisions that she does.

All of the likeable supporting characters from the first book are back and you learn more about their back stories.  You also hear more about Mark, her boyfriend in this book and understand his motivations.  I’m not going to spoil the story and tell you any other details, you can find those on other sites, or novel idea (pun intended), buy the book.  I will say that although some of the story rang a little untrue, like when Alex expects her actor boyfriend to cut back on acting roles abroad (as if), but, the drama is more than enough to capture and keep your attention.  You also don’t get as much of the touristy stuff that made book one so readable for me, but that makes sense since Alex is a resident of London now so she doesn’t have that new to the city mentality.  What you do get is an enjoyable read that feels more sophisticated than the original (although I really liked that book too).  Middleton has another success on her hands.  I plowed through the book in 3 days – c’mon, I have a job – and could have finished it in an afternoon if I had the time.  Congratulations Jackie – you have a winning formula.

You can buy this book from Indigo, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo and more by clicking here  It can be read as a standalone, but you really should read “London Belongs to Me” to get the most out of the story.  Please don’t buy the book from pirated sites – the author doesn’t receive any royalties, and Jacquelyn Middleton poured her heart into this.  Stay tuned for my interview with her in the upcoming weeks.


Happy New Year and Admitting Failure


Yup, I’m a failure.  I failed at my year of challenges by not really doing any, and I failed in my reading challenge by only reading 22 of 35 books.  I can actually tell you why I didn’t finish this – it comes down to three books 1) Outlander – it was long (almost 1000 pages) and it took me 500 pages to get into it, 2) All the Light You Cannot See or as I like to call it All the Books I Didn’t Get to Read Because I Had to Finish This Dud.  I know a lot of pretentious people who are going to judge me for not liking this one, that’s OK, I don’t mind. 3) Wicked or as I call it Wickedly Boring – too long and only about 50 pages were at all enjoyable.  Here is where I netted out:

A book about an animal – Emory’s Gift (a lovely book)
A book based on a fairytale, myth or folklore – Wicked (ugh – see above)
A book based on people from a religious text
A book based on true events
A book considered a ‘classic’ – Oscar Wilde’s Plays
A book considered a ‘modern classic’ – A Thousand Splendid Suns (a truly splendid book)
A book from a series – Top Secret 21 (I read all of the Stephanie Plum books – hilarious and fun)
A book from one of the “Must Read” lists – When Breath Becomes Air (Unforgettable and deeply touching)
A book from Oprah’s book club
A book involving religion
A book involving royalty – a king, queen, prince, princess etc.
A book picked for you by someone else
A book published this year – London Belongs to Me (Memorable, fun and written by a fantastic person – please read this)
A book someone gave you – After You (Well written chick lit but not as good as Me Before You)
A book that a relative or friend loves
A book that everyone is talking about
A book that you can read in a day – Complete – If I Stay
A book that’s less than 300 pages long – Complete – Where She Went
A book with a cover that drew you in – Fear Dat (A must read if you are going to New Orleans)
A book with a creative title – Year of Yes (LOVE – check out my 2017 blog coming up tomorrow or Monday for more details)
A book with a short title – E2 (HOOEY)
A book with a title that describes your life – Rude Bitches Make Me Tired (they really do)
A book with a title that has more than five words – All the Light You Cannot See (See above)
A book written by a politician – Crippled America (in my defence, it was a gift and I was too embarrassed to return it to the bookstore)
A book you borrowed – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Amazing)
A book you could use as a doorstop (ie. 700+ pages) – Outlander (see above)
A book you own but haven’t read
A book you would normally read on holiday – Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married (not bad, but completely forgettable – I don’t remember anything from it)
A book you’re embarrassed to read in public – Coreygraphy (It’s Corey Feldman’s biography – need I say more?)
A book you’re excited about – The Rainbow Comes and Goes (Anderson Cooper – need I say more?????????)
A book you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t
A book you’ve been putting off reading
A classic children’s book – I Love You Forever (if you can read this without crying, you are dead inside)
A humorous book – Why Not Me? (Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal and home girl and this is a fantastic book)
A play by Shakespeare

The Type A in me says that I have to try for 35 books again, so I will.  I’m going to switch some of the categories up since I found some too similar.  Plus, I really want to get rid of more books!  I’ll update you on the challenge for 2017 when I figure out which categories to swap out.

2016 wasn’t all about failure, I did get to travel a lot which you’ll hear more about, I enjoyed my city a bit more and I did get a few things off of my bucket list.  It also had it’s challenges, and no, it’s not about Princess Leia, Prince and George Michael dying, although that’s very sad.  The one ability that I have is to know when to pull up my big girl pants and make a decision, even if it’s a tough one.  I think that sometimes knowing what path that you need to take is half the battle.  I was told that 2017 was going to be a year of change for me, and I welcome it!  I hope that you all have a Happy New Year’s Eve and challenge yourself in 2017.


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I (Will) Love T.O.


Somehow, I always seem to end up with the world’s chattiest taxi drivers, Uber drivers, seat mates on the subway, seat mates on an airplane, seat mates on the train…you get the picture.  Often a bit of a weirdo magnet or just a sympathetic ear, I’ve heard a little bit of everyone’s story over the years…usually not by choice.  One lesson that I have learned though, is that everyone has a story, and you may be surprised, so take the time to listen whether you feel like it or not.

Today, as always, I ended up having a deep, meaningful conversation with a cabbie.  I knew the second that I opened the door, that this man was going to talk my ear off.  I got in, shut the door, sighed once in my inside voice, once in my outside voice and settled in to hear all about his likes and dislikes.  Proving that you can be inspired by just about anything, this blog all started with a simple statement/question from my fair driver…”I LOVE Toronto…Miss, do you love Toronto?”  Being nauseatingly politically correct, I automatically answered yes, very much.  I knew that I gave the right answer from the huge smile on his face, after which I got to hear about every one of the other things that he loves.  He did, get me thinking, do I really love Toronto, or am I just waiting for something better to come along?  Everyone takes the city that they live in for granted, but I started to think about all of the things that I’ve experienced in this very city, this very year and all of the little accidental things that I’ve stumbled across.  For instance:

  • Theatre – Toronto has a great theatre scene.  It rivals any major city in the world.  We have fancy, schmancy theatres like the Ed Mirvish Theatre, and some that need a little love, but have a ton of character like the Lower Ossington.  This year, I’ve seen some really great musicals including Mary Poppins (for the first time – I’ve never even seen the movie), Matilda (loved), and best of all, Thank You for Being A Friend – a must see for Golden Girl Fans.  If you don’t love The Golden Girls, please find another blog to read because that’s sacrilege in my book
  • Events – I went to the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo.  Pretty fun, but the same thing always happens when I taste wine – I try something that’s not from New Zealand, make a face, says it’s too sweet or too oak-y, toss it into the garbage, pout a little, and try a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and proclaim it the best wine ever.  I also sit through a boring cooking demo, try what they make, lie to them and say it’s the best thing ever, and then complain to whoever I’m with that so and so can make it better. Aw tradition!  I also got to enjoy the King Street Festival for TIFF – my friend and I strolled along, and it was nice to see people just enjoying the city.  Oh, and I got to meet Michael Fassbender earlier in the day – bonus!
  • Live (and inspiring events) – Seeing Deepak Chopra, yes, my guru was a highlight, but meeting him?  Priceless.  My friend got us tickets to see him live at Roy Thomson Hall and we were number 2 and 3 in the line up to meet him.  An even bigger, if it’s possible moment, was lining up at Indigo at Bay and Bloor to meet ANDERSON COOPER THE SILVER FOX!!!!!!  Yes, I had to be there at 7:30 in the morning and wait for 4 hours, but it was fun, and worth it.  If you don’t want to buy books (shudders) or pay for ticketed events, you can always go to Indigo and hear your favourite authors speak.  If you don’t read, maybe you should make 2017 the year that you crack open a book?
  • Museums – I always seem to forget that we have museums in TO.  This year, I noticed that the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) was doing a Mystical Landscapes exhibit and it looked like it had real art!  Like stuff that I’d recognize.  Seriously!  I always poke fun of the AGO because although it has Monets, Manets, Van Goghs, etc., they are always the sad, sloppy seconds that no other gallery would touch – you know, the ones nobody has ever heard of.  This exhibit was great though.  I dragged my trusty friend and off we went to get ourselves cultured up.  They had a symphony first, so after walking an exhausting block, we plunked ourselves down for a half hour rest and listened.  I’ll be honest, about 50 seconds in, I got bored and tried not to fall asleep.  I love classical music, but spoken word…PLEASE…and opera?  EWWWWW.  I understand torture when I listen to opera, mostly because my ears feel tortured.  The art though was perfect.  They had the best of the best of the best and I discovered Wenzel Hablik – a really different kind of artist who I really loved.  I’m not going to go out and buy one of his paintings, mostly because I can’t afford to, but they were different from anything that I’ve ever seen before
  • World Class Shopping – I could write a book on how much I love the Eaton Centre.  It has a Nordstrom, need I say more?  Plus they went back to having a HUGE (using my Donald Trump voice) Christmas Tree that’s beautiful
  • The CN Tower – Yes, it’s tacky to admit, but I love the CN Tower.  You couldn’t pay me to go there, unless I had visitors in town, but just to see it’s alien looking frame or see it lit up, makes me know that I’m home
  • Unexpected beauty – the Manulife Building on Bloor Street somehow always looks perfect, no matter what time of year.  They also celebrate holidays better than any other place in the city.  Don’t believe me, check out the photo from Remembrance Day in the collage below – it’s small, but it’s in the right hand corner.  The little things that look like confetti were row after row of Canadian flags

Love TO1.jpg

I guess I have my answer, maybe, just maybe I’m falling back in love with Toronto.  My challenge to myself for 2017?  Keep looking for things to admire about my fair city and see what all of those people on our Hop On, Hop Off tours are oohing and ahhhing about.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress.


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London Belongs to Me – The Author


I’ve wanted to interview Jacquelyn Middleton for my blog for awhile.  Originally, it was as part of my “inspiring” people series – I was inspired by her successful move from broadcast production and programming into award winning magazine writer.  Anyone that can make such a scary change inspires me.  Things got busy and often, it’s hard to find the time to interview people, but when she announced “London Belongs to Me” was coming out, that was a whole other cool factor and I had to reach out to find out more.  It gave me the opportunity to catch up with Jackie (JM), which was great, and find out more about her book and her writing process.

Q: How did you start writing?

JM: I started contributing to the Slice website (where she formerly worked).  I always wanted to do more writing and freelance writing seemed to be a good fit.

Q: But why the complete career change?

JM: I got laid off in 2008 from a job I loved in broadcast, but was writing for a website.  This gave me a portfolio of work that I had done.  There were family issues that I needed to be around for and free-lance writing provided me with the flexibility that I needed.

Q: So you always wanted to write?

JM: YES!  My Mum would tell me that I needed to write a book, but that was scary because I thought what if I can’t do it?  What if I don’t have the goods to deliver the thing that I most want to do?  I was inspired by Stephen Beresford (he is an English actor and writer for stage and TV).  He wrote Pride, my favourite movie for many reasons.  Pride was at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and I wanted to talk to him, but he was chatting with someone else so I didn’t get to tell him how much he inspired me at that moment.  As a freelance magazine writer, though, I got to interview him!  In magazines, if you have a great idea, you can make it happen.  I pitched an idea to Script Lab after he was nominated for a BAFTA for Pride.  I interviewed him in London (twice including last September).  He was wonderful – he delivered in the interview, was funny, and I just adored him.  He inspired me because nothing he ever wrote for TV ever went through, but he wrote a play and the National Theatre picked it up.  Remember, this was his first play and it was picked up by the biggest theatre in the world.  Then, Pride was picked up and he just made it happen.  He didn’t sit around and procrastinate.  Seeing him do this was a huge inspiration.  After the first interview with him, I knew that I needed to write a book.  I needed to try, even if it didn’t get published.  The book is a tribute to my Mum.

Q: How autobiographical is “London Belongs to Me”?  How close is the heroine, Alex Sinclair to you?

JM: Alex isn’t very similar to me at all.  I never moved to London, but I got to live vicariously through Alex.  I didn’t have a tumultuous relationship with my Mum.  My own Mum was my everything.  I had to visualize Alex’s relationship by removing my mother from my life and imagining what Alex went through.  Alex’s love of London is similar to my own and her drive to pursue the career that she wants is very much like me.   There are traits of Alex that I share and people who know me will pick up on them. Parts of me are in every character of the book.  It’s fun writing a book.  There are little tributes to people that only you or a select few would pick up on.

Q: Do you tell people that you know who the various characters are based on?

JM: No, I’ve stopped.  I can’t tell people in case they are wrong because that is how they are reading the story.  It’s personal and you should be able to read the story with who you pick or think the characters are.  I like it when people guess though.

Q: The book has a lot of fan girl moments.  What are your ultimate fan girl moments?

JM:  Meeting Simon LeBon from Duran Duran (Jill here – did I mention that Jackie has great taste in bands?) for the first time.  He never disappoints.  I have so many though!  Just a note, Jackie goes to Fan Expos and has met a lot of really cool people including one of my celebrity loves, Benedict Cumberbatch!

Q:  What books inspired you to write “London Belongs to Me”?

JM: Charlotte’s Web (She really has great taste in books, that’s my fave too!), 84 Charring Cross Road (true story and gorgeous movie), The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street and My Love Affair with England (Jackie read it in 1993 before she went to England for the first time) all inspired me.

I’ll reveal more of the process behind writing a book in my next entry.  Remember that London can belong to you too if you order it!  Get London Belongs to Me on October 14th when it goes on sale.  You can also pre-order it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Waterstones, Foyles, Indigo, and Chapters!

Jackie – thank you for being so patient with all of my questions!




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London Belongs to Me


Well, actually it doesn’t, but it could belong to you if you buy the fabulous new book by first-time fiction author Jacquelyn Middleton.  I’m lucky enough to know the author and I got an advance copy of the book.  I do know Jackie, but that isn’t swaying this, my first review one little bit!

Confession time – I’ve only spent about 24 hours in London and this world traveller saw nothing, except Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum well before Brangelina’s statues were separated and the London Dungeon.  I never wanted to go back until I read this book, falling in love with the city, much like the book’s heroine Alex Sinclair.  Middleton’s (makes this feel more review-y) knowledge of the city is apparent in the rich descriptions of the various neighbourhoods.  It brings the reader into Alex’s world and makes you feel like you are seeing each place for the first time too.  It’s totally relatable for anyone that’s ever travelled or dreamed of relocating.

The book is not a hard read – in fact, it’s the perfect book to curl up on your “what will become of me couch” with your snuggie and a cup of tea (or at least that’s what I did every night).  The coolest part of the book, was that there were a few parts where I got frustrated, not getting some of the reference, but the, it was literally explained on the next page.   It’s almost like the author was reading my mind through length of the book.  This is female fiction for sure, but not predictable.  Some of the drama literally made me gasp (one part in particular – no spoilers, you have to read it).  It was refreshing to have a heroine that was an every-woman – totally relatable, not always sympathetic and slightly klutzy.

The supporting cast of characters was equally enjoyable.  Some eccentric, some snobby, some snivelling but all memorable.  There is nothing more impressive than someone who can write fiction – and this is very enjoyable fiction.  I probably started reading it because I knew the author, but I finished it quickly because it was that good.  It didn’t drag, there was nothing that could be cut and the heroine wasn’t cookie cutter.

“We’re all stories in the end.  Just make it a good one” – well Jackie, you did.

Pre-order ‘London Belongs to Me’ from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Waterstones, Foyles, Indigo, and Chapters!  Available October 14 from Kirkwall Books.

Learn more about London, the author and the writing process over the next few entries.




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Work Hard, Work Harder

About 6 weeks ago, a colleague of mine asked me to have a coffee with a young lady who was trying to get into my line of work – integrated media.   This is the career advice that I wish someone had passed along to me years ago when I joined the workforce.  It was also the advice that I passed along to a shiny eyed millennial.  I’m not saying it’s right, but it got me to where I am today – middle management!  Everyone’s dream!  Go ahead – be jealous! Just to ensure that I was on the right track, I also cross-referenced this advice with “Why Not Me?” by my girl Mindy Kaling and a new favourite author – Shonda Rhimes (Year of Yes and a host of shows that I don’t watch).  Here you go:

  • WORK HARD, then WORK HARDER – I’m sorry to say, there are a very lucky few people that get ahead by being lazy and well connected.  The rest of us have to put a little effort into our jobs.  Mindy and Shonda both agree and if an Indian Woman, a Jew and a Black woman all give you the same advice, you should listen, or just start your next joke with that as the opener…The amazing Mindy Kaling refers to this as “Hard Work, Or The Thing No One Wants To Hear About”.  The young lady that I met with, was wide-eyed with horror when I told her that this was the best advice that I could give her.
  • Luck is where hard work meets opportunity.  Truer words have never been spoken.  I’ve been told that I’ve been lucky in my career because whenever I’ve needed a job, one magically appeared for me.  Au contraire mon freres (et soeurs) – that’s brothers and sisters to you, it’s because I’ve worked hard and people know what they are getting when they take me on.
  • Memorize peoples’ first and last names.  Pretend you are Victor Newman confronting Jack Abbott if that helps (a little Y&R reference for my frousins).  You will find that in business, you are your full name.  I’m no longer Jill at the office, I’m Jill Schneiderman.  Could be worse, my name was supposed to be Ernestine Schneiderman after my grandfather, but my mother wouldn’t allow it.  If that was my name, I wouldn’t be working my glam media job (she says with a note of sarcasm), I’d be rocking back and forth in a corner somewhere saying “Why me?  Why me?”
  • Meet as many people in your office as you can, and try to understand what they do.  This is invaluable to me – I work in a company with 30,000+ employees – if you know someone who knows someone, it can really help you out.  The more you know, the more you learn, the more you expand your expertise.
  • Be an expert at something – that makes you an invaluable go-to.  Whether it’s fixing the photocopier or knowing something that your company specializes in, you really need to find your area and become a true expert.
  • Develop a thick skin.  I used to be so sensitive – any confrontation or perceived insult would hurt my little heart.  One day, I realized that the grumpy person that I was dealing with was that way with everyone and I realized that although I couldn’t change people, I could change how I reacted to them.  Someone has to be the one to let it go, I’m suggesting that you be that person.  It’s not personal.  It doesn’t mean you have to put up with abuse, but if someone is just plain outspoken or a little abrasive, you need to get over it, and yourself.  I know a lot of people whose bark is much worse than their bite.  They have helped me immeasurably over the years and I wouldn’t trade working with them for anything.
  • Don’t be an idiot and suck up.  People know when they are being sucked up to.  Be yourself – trite advice, but true.  Always treat the receptionists, executive assistants and people in the mailroom like gold.  They often have a thankless job, but they are the ones who can make or break you, not your superiors.  Plus most are lovely people.  Remember too, that little junior  employee that you brush off may one day be your boss.
  • Don’t get caught up in the things that don’t matter…worry about the things that will make a difference for you and give in on the things that won’t.
  • Know who holds the power and don’t get on their bad side.
  • Last but not least, everyone has bad days, I’ve had my fair share.  You don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life, so don’t judge them on their off day.  Judge them for how they treat you overall.

There you are – everything you need to get to middle-management and beyond…your welcome.