Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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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.

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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 at:Amazon.ca and Amazon.co.uk, Barnesandnoble.com, chapters.indigo.ca, kobo.com, itunes.apple.com

 


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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 – Maybe

blogtour-london.jpg

Before I read “London Belongs to Me” by soon to be noted author, Jacquelyn Middleton, London was not on my to do list.  After chatting with the London loving scribe, I was warming to the rainy city.  After reading London Belongs to me, I’m convinced that I’ve made a mistake not spending a bit of time where this soon-to-be-released novel is set.  I asked the author what her top favourite things to do in London are, and coming from someone who has visited numerous times (we’re talking about 30 times), I think she can be considered an expert.  Here are Jacquelyn Middleton’s top picks and the places that I’m putting on my UK bucket list:

  • The National Theatre – it’s not only a huge part of the author’s life, but it’s the best supporting actress in her love story to London.  It’s also, according to Jackie, a great public space to sit inside of or on the patio.  It’s apparently got a great cafe on the main floor and a great book store.  Who doesn’t love books?
  • London Fields, in east London is where the heroine of the book, Alex Sinclair settles when she first moves to her dream city.  It’s home to great markets (including Broadway Market) and a place that isn’t on everyone’s must do list, which means that it isn’t packed with tourists.  Where do I sign up?
  • The Tower Bridge – a must see according to the author AND a great place to find a hotel.
  • Big Ben – if you look carefully for those of you who aren’t observant – it’s actually on the cover of London Belongs to Me.  Middleton feels ripped off if she doesn’t see it every time she heads to Britain’s capital (I’m running out of ways to say London without saying London).   She recommends taking a tour of the House of Parliament.  I saw it very quickly from a moving car and almost got whiplash – it’s spectacular.
  • Covent Garden – great shops and restaurants with cool street performers.  I don’t recall whether it was in the book or not, but I’m sure it was.
  • Pimlico area – this is near Westminster, north of the Thames.  This was the first place that the author stopped her first time in London.  She wanted to stay in a place in the city that she had seen in the movies.  This area always feels new and exciting to her.
  • Primrose Hill – the author loves this area mostly because of her passion for music, more specifically the band Saint Etienne.  They wrote and sang a song called Primrose Hill that she loves.  They also sing a little song, called, and wait for this…London Belongs to Me.  Sound familiar?  Well, it should.  It’s the name of the book that I’ve been blogging about!

To get inspired to travel to The Old Smoke, pick up a copy of 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!