Thursday, 31 December 2020

My Bookish Year: 2020

2020 is coming to a close (hurrah!) so I thought I'd end the year on a high by looking back at all the lovely bookish things that have happened during the shittiest of years.


2020 started off with a re-read. As I stated in my first Instagram post of the year, I was in the mood for a really good rom com and as I'd already read The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me by Laura Tait & Jimmy Rice before, I knew it would deliver. 


I love re-reading books and I'm going to start off 2020 with another read of Jane Green's Jemima J. It's been a few years since I read it (again) so I'm looking forward to rediscovering the story.


Do you re-read books? Which book are you planning to start the new year with?


Instagram Post: The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me by Laura Tait & Jimmy Rice



Reading for me was a bit different at times, as over the spring and summer I got into the habit of taking my current read along to the supermarket with me to read during the 'car park shuffle'. It was a bit weird queueing to get into Asda at first, but even weirder was how quickly it became the norm, and standing on the outskirts of the car park while reading my book no longer felt out of the ordinary.


2020: Supermarket car park queueing with Kindle


I read some fantastic books during 2020, and five of my favourites are:


2020: Five Favourite Books


Our Stop (Laura Jane Williams)


The Mother-in-Law (Sally Hepworth)

The Lake House (Kate Morton)

All I Want For Christmas (Joanna Bolouri)


(I've listed the books in the order I read them, because choosing five was hard enough)


What have been your favourite reads this year?




At the beginning of the year, I was editing Book 11 - which became known as The 12 Christmases of You & Me and was published in October.


The 12 Christmases of You & Me paperbacks


As well as finishing The 12 Christmases of You & Me, I also wrote the first drafts of Books 12 and 13 and published the paperback edition of Everything Changes But You. So it's been a very busy year, writing-wise!


Everything Changes But You paperbacks


I'm going to continue working on Books 12 and 13 during 2021 and hopefully start a whole new book towards the end of the year as I'm aiming to take part in Nanowrimo again. I wrote almost 70,000 words of Book 13 during November and I'm looking forward to jumping back in again to see if I can be just as successful next time round. I'm also looking forward to reading some more fantastic books, starting with Jemima J...


I'd love to hear about your bookish year. Let us know what you've been reading and/or writing in the comments below :)


Wednesday, 30 December 2020

12 Good Things That Happened in 2020 (Because There Were Some, Honestly)

I know 2020 has been a big sack of shit, but there are some good things that happened. So I'm going back through the year and finding some gems that have happened to remind me of that before we say goodbye this crappy year.


1. The Big Garden Bird Watch

RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch


In January, Isobel and I took part in our first Big Garden Bird Watch that the RSPB holds every year. We sat in our kitchen for an hour one rainy Sunday morning and looked out of the window to count how many birds landed in our garden.


It wasn't many (I think we had three wood pigeons) but it was still fun and I'm looking forward to joining in again next month. Plus, we might see our new bird visitor who has recently found us. It's a grey wagtail, which I'd never seen before he hopped into our garden. He's been named Bob, because of the way he bobs about the place.


2. Back To The Future The Musical


Back To The Future Musical Tickets


Back in February, when everyone was still allowed to gather, we were lucky enough to go to the world premiere of Back to the Future The Musical. We'd waited a LONG TIME for it to happen, and we couldn't quite believe Manchester was getting the premier (but it was great. No trip to London. No overnight stays) and it was AMAZING. Plus, Bob Gale signed our special BTTF cover of USA Today.


Back to the Future The Musical


3. Rock Painting


Rock Painting: Butterfly, Fish & NHS Rainbow


We decided to spread a bit of cheer during the summer and did a bit of rock painting, which we left outside for people to find. It was a lot of fun, so we did the same thing in October to celebrate Halloween.


Halloween rock painting


4. The Everything Changes But You Paperback


Stack of Everything Changes But You paperbacks

I'd wanted to create paperbacks for my self-published novels, but I was a bit wary as I didn't think I'd be able to pull it off (I'm not good with trying new things!) But I decided to put my big girl pants on and give it a go.


I love the paperbacks of Everything Changes But You so when I released The 12 Christmases of You & Me, I created both ebook and paperback together.


5. Baking Loaves


Lime Loaf


While everyone was baking banana bread during Lockdown 1, I was craving a slice of lemon loaf from the coffee shop in my local town. So I decided we'd make our own. The only problem was, our local Asda didn't have any lemons at the time, so we swapped them for their green cousins and made a lime loaf instead.


Due to its success, we went on to make two more loaves: a lemon one (because Asda finally stocked them) and an orange one. As much as I was craving the lemon loaf, the lime is a firm favourite.


6. First Drafts


Chapter One


I wrote not one but TWO first drafts this year. The first (for Book 12) was mostly written during Lockdown 1 while home-schooling my youngest daughter, and the second, (for Book 13, which I've only just completed) was mostly written during this year's Nano and finished off in December.


The End



7. Baking Pupcakes


Banana and peanut butter pupcakes


When it was Luna's birthday, I made her a batch of banana and peanut butter 'pupcakes'. They're really easy to make and Luna loved them, so the kids and I made her a batch of apple and peanut butter pupcakes (which are going down just as nicely).


8. Flawed Crocheted Sausage Dogs




In 2020, I made two-and-a-bit sausage dogs ('and-a-bit' because the first was started in 2019).

I'm quite new to crocheting, so they're definitely flawed, but they're unique and I love them.




9. The Garden


White rose


Back in 2018, Isobel and I brought a rose bush cutting home from a school event and re-potted it in the garden. It grew taller and produced lots of leaves, but that’s it. Until this spring when it produced a few buds, which resulted in two flowers. I'm hoping we get more next year, plus I've taken a couple of cuttings, which are on my kitchen windowsill.

I spent a lot of time in my garden during lockdown, and it was lovely seeing the bees and hoverflies enjoying our flowers. They particularly liked our forget-me-nots and the cosmos (when it eventually flowered).

We also grew dahlias from seed for the first time. It didn't flower and out of 17 seedlings, only five survived the snail invasion, but it was a lovely thing to do nonetheless.


Pink cosmos with bee


10. The 12 Christmases of You & Me


The 12 Christmases of You & Me



In October, I released my eleventh book, The 12 Christmases of You & Me. I'd wanted to write a time-travel romantic comedy for a long time, so I'm glad it's finally out and (hopefully) being enjoyed!


11. Halloween at Home


Halloween at Home - Trick or Treat Cards


We couldn't do our usual trick or treating this year, so I made some cards for an at-home version. The cards were hidden around the house and Isobel had to find them and then choose which ones to open. Half said 'treat' inside (so she could choose a treat from the box) and half said 'trick' (which meant she forfeited a treat. 
(The real trick was that all cards said 'treat', which she found out at the end when she opened the remaining cards.)


We also did a bit more baking, this time making SLime cupcakes, nicking the idea of the lime icing from our earlier lime loaf, and topping off with sour snakes.


Halloween Baking: SLime Cupcakes


12. Loki's Return


There are some Christmas traditions that we've had to miss out on this year due to Coronavirus, but one tradition that we can keep is our Elf on the Shelf, Loki. He's returned with gifts and silly antics to makes us smile.


Elf on the Shelf


So those are 12 good things that happened to me during 2020, and it was nice looking back and being reminded that despite everything, there were still pockets of enjoyment.


What good things happened to you during 2020?


Monday, 21 December 2020

Back In Time With Maisie: 2018

Back In Time 2018

In my time-travel rom com, The 12 Christmases of You & Me, Maisie travels back in time to Christmases of her past, and we're going to travel back with her and find out what was happening during the years she goes back to. 


2018 was the year the Christmas number one was a song about sausage rolls, comic book-inspired films dominated the big screen, and The Incredibles' sequel finally made it into the cinema.

Back in Time 2018


Christmas Number One:

We Built This City... on Sausage Rolls (Ladbaby)


Big Chart Hits in the UK:

This is Me (Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble)

Shotgun (George Ezra)

Perfect (Ed Sheeran)

These Days (Rudimental ft Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen)

Paradise (George Ezra)

One Kiss (Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa)

Feel it Still (Portugal. The Man)

Girls Like You (Maroon 5 ft Cardi B)

Leave a Light On (Tom Walker)

Youngblood (5 Seconds of Summer)



Highest Grossing Films:


Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Incredibles 2

Aquaman



Events, Music & TV:


War on plastic: Prime Minister Theresa May makes pledge to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042. She proposes a ban on plastic straws and cotton buds in England while supermarket chain Iceland announces it will stop the use of plastic for its own-brand products by 2023

Friends is added to UK Netflix

After four years off the air, Dancing On Ice makes a return to our screens. Jake Quickenden and his professional skating partner, Vanessa Bauer win

Toys 'R' Us goes into administration

Blue Peter reaches its 5000th episode

The 'Beast from the East' arrives in the UK. The heavy snowfall causes widespread disruption and leaves people stranded in their cars


Events in 2018


The tax on sugary drinks is brought into effect

Louis Arthur Charles, the third child of Prince William and Kate is born. He is the fifth in line to throne

The statue of Suffragette Millicent Fawcett is unveiled in Parliament Square, London. It is the first statue of a woman to be placed here

Prince Harry and Megham Markle marry at St George's chapel at Windsor

England reaches the semi-finals stage of the World Cup for the first time since 1990. They play against Croatia and lose 2-1
The Lightning Seeds reach number one in the charts with 'Three Lions' for the fourth time

A 20ft 'Trump baby' blimp is flown over Westminster during the US president's visit to the UK


Events in 2018


BBC One airs its new thriller, Bodyguard

Jodie Whittaker makes her debut as The Doctor

Kim Tate returns to Emmerdale. The return was initially for one week, but it's announced Claire King will reprise the role on a permanent basis

Channel 4 airs the ninth series of The Great British Bake Off, with Rahul Mandal being crowned the winner

Big Brother's nineteenth and final series is aired on Channel 5

Stacey Dooley and her professional dance partner, Kevin Clifton win the sixteenth series of Strictly

Flights are disrupted at Gatwick Airport due to reported sightings of a drone over the airfield

A House Through Time, The Button, The Split, Killing Eve, Derry Girls, and The Circle also have their British TV debuts


Events in 2018




Find out more about The 12 Christmases of You & Me

The 12 Christmases of You & Me Jennifer Joyce


What if you could go back in time and fix the biggest mistake of your life?

Two years ago, Maisie’s best friend walked out of her life and she hasn’t heard from him since. When she wakes up in 1994, she naturally assumes she’s dreaming. But when she finds herself in the past again the next night and her actions in the dream alter her present-day life, she begins to wonder if she’s somehow hopping back in time. And if she is time-travelling, can she save her friendship with Jonas?

When Maisie is forced to relive Christmases of the past, will she face up to her mistakes, or make them all over again?

The 12 Christmases of You & Me is a magical tale of friendship, first loves, and learning to live in the present.



 

Friday, 18 December 2020

12 Festive Song Favourites

12 Festive Song Favourites

 I love Christmas music, from pop songs to carols. All it takes is the ring of the cash register at the beginning of Wizzard's 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday' and I'm transported back to the 80s, back when I was a primary school kid waiting for Father Christmas to visit. 

Back then, if you'd have told me I'd choose to listen to anything by Cliff Richard or Chris de Burgh (even if it was festive) I'd have laughed my little socks off. But here we are, with both of them listed on my 12 Festive Song Favourites...


Mistletoe & Wine


One More Sleep


It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

All Alone on Christmas

I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day

Merry Christmas Everybody

Step Into Christmas

Feliz Navidad

Merry Christmas Everyone

A Spaceman Came Travelling

Carol of the Bells

O Holy Night


You can listen to my selection below. Hope you enjoy :)



What are your festive favourites? Let us know in the comments below!

Monday, 14 December 2020

Writing Book 13: The End

Writing Book 13


After just six weeks and one day - the fastest I have ever achieved this - I could finally write those two little words every writer loves:



The End


This is the quickest I've ever bashed out a first draft, and it's all thanks to Nanowrimo. Writing just over 69,000 words in one month gave me the momentum and the belief that I could finish the draft before Christmas. Having a really detailed plan also helped as I didn't have to stop and think about plot points or stumble across any problems because they'd been ironed out beforehand, leaving me to just tell the story.


I've loved writing Zoey's story. It's full of magic and fun and Christmas and I can't wait to share it. First, though, I'm going to let the book - and myself - have a little rest over Christmas before jumping into Draft Two in the new year.


Total First Draft Word Count: 86,895

Back In Time With Maisie: 2010

Back in Time 2010

In my time-travel rom com, The 12 Christmases of You & Me, Maisie travels back in time to Christmases of her past, and we're going to travel back with her and find out what was happening during the years she goes back to. 


2010 was the year Andy outgrew Woody and co, Glee brought Journey back into the charts, and The Great British Bake Off arrived on our screens

Back in Time 2010


Christmas Number One:

When We Collide (Matt Cardle)


Big Chart Hits in the UK:

Empire State of Mind (Alicia Keyes)

Pass Out (Tinie Tempah)

Don't Stop Believin' (Journey)

OMG (Usher ft will.i.am)

Telephone (Ladt Gaga & Beyonce)

Bad Romance (Lady Gaga)

Love the Way You Lie (Eminem ft Rihanna)

I Gotta a Feeling (Black Eyed Peas)

She Said (Plan B)

Airplanes (B.o.B ft Hayley Hayley Williams)


Highest Grossing Films:


Toy Story 3

Alice in Wonderland

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Inception

Shrek Happy After



Events, Music & TV:


Matt Smith takes over the role of The Doctor, replacing David Tennant

Channel 4 airs its final series of Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother

Eastenders celebrates its 25th anniversary with a live episode in which it is revealed Stacey Slater killed Archie Mitchell

Kraft Food buys Cadbury's

Emmerdale actress Hayley Tammadon and her professional skating partner, Daniel Whiston win the fifth series of Dancing On Ice

Luther airs on the BBC for the first time


Events in 2010


New gameshow The Million Pound Drop - later renamed The 100k Drop - airs on Channel 4

Asda buys all the UK Netto stores

Spelbound, a gymnastics troupe, win the fourth series of Britain's Got Talent

The final episode of Last of the Summer Wine airs after 37 years on our screens

The Bill is axed after 26 years

ITV's breakfast show GMTV is replaced by Daybreak, hosted by Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley


Events in 2010


The final episode of Heartbeat airs

Downton Abbey debuts on ITV

Hollyoaks reaches its 15th anniversary

Prince William and Catherine Middleton become engaged

Coronation Street airs the death of long-running character Jack Duckworth

Coronation Street celebrates its 50th anniversary with a live episode. The storyline revolves around the tram crash which results in the deaths of Ashley Peacock and Molly Dobbs

So You Think You Can Dance, Junior Apprentice, Sherlock, The Octonauts, Come Fly With Me and Take Me Out also have their British TV debuts


Events in 2010




Find out more about The 12 Christmases of You & Me

The 12 Christmases of You & Me Jennifer Joyce


What if you could go back in time and fix the biggest mistake of your life?

Two years ago, Maisie’s best friend walked out of her life and she hasn’t heard from him since. When she wakes up in 1994, she naturally assumes she’s dreaming. But when she finds herself in the past again the next night and her actions in the dream alter her present-day life, she begins to wonder if she’s somehow hopping back in time. And if she is time-travelling, can she save her friendship with Jonas?

When Maisie is forced to relive Christmases of the past, will she face up to her mistakes, or make them all over again?

The 12 Christmases of You & Me is a magical tale of friendship, first loves, and learning to live in the present.



Saturday, 12 December 2020

A Quick Catch Up

 It's been a few months since I last did a little catch up post so I thought I'd squeeze one in before Christmas. Let us know what you've been up to in the comments below :)


What are you working on?


I'm working on the first draft of Book 13, which is a festive book and I'm SO CLOSE to reaching The End. I wrote the first 60,000 words of it during this year's Nano and I'm determined to finish the first draft before Christmas.


Rudolph mug in front of laptop



What are you reading?


I've been working my way through my festive TBR list recently, and my current read is All I Want for Christmas by Joanna Bolouri.


All I Want for Christmas (Joanna Bolouri) All About Us (Tom Ellen) One Week 'Til Christmas (Belinda Missen) Christmas: A History (Judith Flanders)


So far, I've also read All About Us by Tom Ellen, One Week 'Til Christmas by Belinda Missen, and a non-fiction book, Christmas: A History by Judith Flanders.

Next up on my list is Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie.


What are you watching?


Like a lot of people, I've been getting my festive Hallmark movie fix over the past few weeks. I've also been gobbling up game/quiz shows: Jepopardy! on Netflix, Only Connect, The Hit List (which combines two of my favourite things - game shows and music) and Michael McIntyre's new gameshow, The Wheel.


What have you been instagramming


My Instagram


Baking (both for human consumption and for Luna), Halloween stuff, Nano-writing and word count milestones for Book 13, crochet, festive mugs and lots of Christmassy things.

You can see me on Instagram here


So that's what I've been getting up to. Don't forget to let us know how you've been getting on in the comments below!