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London Can You Wait – A Review

London Can You Wait

Image courtesy of JacquelynMiddleton.com

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 https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/london-belongs-to-me/.  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 http://www.jacquelynmiddleton.com/book-store/354/  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.

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London Belongs to Me – The Final Chapter

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I admire writers…I always have.  Being an avid reader, it constantly amazes me that people can sit at a computer and create story arcs and dialogue and characters.  To know someone that has actually done this, is nothing short of inspirational.  I know that I write this little blog, but creating a book out of thin air and taking the time and the discipline to see the story through to the end is not within my skill set.  Luckily, I know Jacquelyn Middleton (JM), author of “London Belongs to Me” and even though I will never write a novel, I wanted to share her advice with you, my lovely readers, in case any of you were thinking about where to start.  Since she also writes magazine articles, I’m keeping that advice in too!

Q: How long did it take you to write the book and what was your process?

JM: Just over a year start to finish.  I came up with the characters and idea before I wrote the actual book.  I made bibles on each character.  I read books that related to my writing experience.  I needed to learn structure, character development, story arcs, scenes,  and acts.  I knew nothing and had no formal training!  I used highlighters and sticky notes to keep organized.  I always wanted to be a writer and I built the story from the ground up.

Q: How did you know when you were done?

JM: You just have to stop.  I could still  be writing and editing the book because it’s never perfect.  I read and edited it so many times.  I did have a great support system thanks to my family and friends.  My husband even read the book backwards to help with the editing.  I just knew that I wanted to create a book that I’d want to read.

Q:  What does writing success mean for you?

JM: With “London Belongs to Me” it was just getting it done and having it in my hands.  When I received the first proof, I knew that even if no one reads it, that’s a feeling that no one can take away from me.  It’s so special.

Q: How did you go about getting your book published?

JM: It’s self-published under Kirkwall Books.  There are many self-publishing companies out there.

Q:  What’s the difference in the process for writing a book versus a magazine?

JM: It’s very different.  Magazines are fact based and fact checked, where books can be fictional.  Each is telling a different type of story.  Magazine articles are based on different types of interests like health, fitness, travel, pets and sometimes interviews and again, based on fact.

Q:  If you were to give your 20 year old self advice on your future career, what would it be?

JM: You can do it, don’t be scared – just try.  I didn’t think that I could finish a book before, I was afraid of failure.  I tried writing in other ways like the Leaf’s Newsletter (a hockey newsletter) and was the editor of my high school newspaper.  Now, I’ve got “London Belongs to Me”.

Q: What would you say to people who want to write a book or magazines articles and don’t know where to start?

JM: Just do it!  Remember though, that the magazine industry is shrinking and writing for web is the new reality.

Q: Last question – what are your favourite books?

JM: “Charlotte’s Web” is my favourite childhood book.  Karen Swan’s “Christmas at Tiffany’s” is a favourite.  “You Had Me at Hello” by Mhairi McFarlane is great Women’s Fiction.  I just love reading a book because you get to see how the characters are cast in your head as you visualize who you think they are.

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!  Just a couple of more days until you get to read this amazing first novel.  Thanks again Jackie for being such an inspiration and for answering all of my questions.


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London Belongs to Me – The Author

JackieMiddleton-PRShot-FINAL.jpg

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

jackie-blog

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.