My Lab

a little celebration

I have been away from my blog once again, but it has been for a fabulous cause, because… I have amongst other brill projects, officially finished the first draft of my first novel Both Sides Now. It has taken me eight months and a total of 25 chapters and 85,232 words to get here. There has been giggles, wine and some incredibly invaluable advice and encouragement from so many loving and caring people along the way of this journey so far that I feel blessed. I am also extremely proud that I actually managed to get through this draft and not a) throw my laptop accross the room when I couldn’t get the words right, b) given up and started on a new idea, c) put myself into a caffeine coma. But I have learnt a few things along the way, so here we go:

1. The first draft was always going to be shit but if you can do it, then do it! Get it done!

2. Laughing to yourself when you read your own work back is not strange, it means you are bloody hilarious.

3. Staying up until four am to get a chapter finished isn’t bad, just don’t have plans the next morning. But if you are a full-time writer you won’t have plans, writing is your plan!

4. It’s okay if you read one of your favouite author’s books and suddenly secretly hate them – you wonder how they are that fabulous? They wrote a fabulous book, that’s how! And so will you! This is how fabulous you are…

5. Reward yourself with wine and treats whenever you reach a goal. 2000 words – deserves one glass, unless you’re struggling to create then just go for it anyway. Oh hell, just take the whole bottle and don’t stop until that bottle’s empty. (Drink responsibly though.)

6. Be perpared to boil the kettle five times and still not even make a cup of tea.

7. Interestingly enough even though said tea won’t get made, you will actually bizarrely drink a lot of tea (or coffee if that’s your thing) right into the early morning until you look like this guy…

If you look carefully I’m sure he’s saying the words, “Must finish chapter.” Non? Just me then.

8. Your bladder will also not thank you for those copious cups of tea and you will be in complete cba mode and not go to the toilet for ages. Sorry bladder.

9. Drinks and bladders aside. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s very easy to tell yourself that what you’re writing isn’t any good, but it doesn’t have to be, that’s why there’s such thing as editing. As Shannon Hale said, “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”. Think of the sandcastles!

10. HAVE FUN. The great thing about writing a first draft is that while it is bloody hard it is also the time for you to experiment, be creative and let loose, the fab news is, nobody will ever have to see whatever you choose not to keep.

So those are just a few things that I’ve learnt. Next up for me is the luscious editing part where I am sure I am going to cry, whinge and get destracted by pictures of Kit Harington, mmmm… Before I head into this unchartered territory I am scurrying back to my hermit hole to revise for my upcoming English Lit exam and finishing off my Creative Writing Assessment plus other things. So I will be away for a while but I hope you enjoyed the update! Thanks everyone who has come along on the journey so far! Lots more to come!


J x

Publishing Kitt

Publishing Kitt: You don’t have to be alone.

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And you’re not alone!

Yesterday I attended an inter-generation event called ‘Bridge the Gap’ and a poet/writer that I have recently met was there also. We had a fantastic conversation about the road to getting published and just by talking to Nina I realised something, publishing is not something you have to be alone in and you are not alone! Just like any new journey the path can be daunting, unexpected and long; throw in a mass of rejection letters and emails and it becomes very harrowing. But,  not only is there hope at the end of the tunnel but there there is help, support and an array of understanding people there every step of the way.

So talk to fellow authors and writers. Even bloggers have to submit their work to get it published on a reputable site. The point is that those who are also on the same road as you know what you are talking about and how you feel, regardless of their genre, age or status, they are still on that same road. So talk to them, they might have some valuable tips and ideas for you and you might even find that have some advice to share with them.

Talk to the ones who have been there and done it! At the beginning of this year I sent a message to my literary idol Jill Mansell. I had asked her for advice about writing and connecting with your characters and whether it’s wrong to stop writing one novel and begin another, honestly I was not expecting a reply. However a few hours later she messaged me back with probably the most precious advice I’ve been given to date and it’s stuck with me ever since. So do reach out to your idols, I’m not suggesting you hound them with messages but even if they are John Grisham, they might reply, they might not. They will most definitely be busy working on a new bestseller but, once you send your message out into the cosmic void, it is there for them to pick up. But most importantly they have been through the exact same journey as us and they know precisely how you are feeling.

So talk to your writing peers, tell them how it’s going, tell them if you’re fed up and worried you’ll never be successful; address those fears and let someone help you. A few words of reassurance, encouragement and inspiration can go a long way when you’re wishing on stars and praying to the gods for your dream career!

Don’t be alone!


Book Club




This post was originally meant to go out yesterday; the problem was finding the right words that encapsulated the evening, the atmosphere; the performers and the Diva herself – Juanita Jay Johnson. And even now I’m not sure I can exactly write just how magical the evening was – except I can say this as a starting point… All the thoughts that I had, everything I expected it to be was dashed away and as the night progressed I fell in love, it confirmed the reasons I do what I do and exactly why our book club is like no other.

So where do I begin?

I’ll relay my speech from the evening and work backwards from that. When it was time for me to speak I had formulated in my head an order that told everyone what it is that I do. However, during Jay’s reading I found myself not wanting to ‘sell’ myself, instead I wanted to speak about why I do what I do and what it is that makes the book club so important to me, this was what I said…

‘We are the making of everything that we love. And what we love are the things that make us smile. Not the short term but the long term. Not just on the outside but on the in.

For me, as a writer, books have always been my haven, my inspiration and my love!

When I read I feel most like myself, most wholesome and nothing else seems to matter.

And when I write – well it’s like magic. I’m locked in a zone of me-time!

So for me the idea of a book club is the extension of me, a time, a moment to share with so many different and so many beautiful women, something that is a piece of me.

And hopefully awaken something that is a piece of you.’

So what is ‘Me time?’ Well, if you want to find out then you should read The Diva Commandments – Thou Shalt Have Me Time by Juanita Jay Johnson. I cannot reveal much as I believe that any woman should have this in their bag at all times! But what I will say is that ‘Me Time’ is not getting your nails and hair done, or soaking your stresses away in a Radox bath, it is something deeper… and you can find out by buying Jay’s book. Jay is thee Diva; she invites you in with a delicious guide of her journey, even the negatives she manages to turn into positives by a simple turn of a phrase, leaving you wanting to hear and learn more. Her lessons are simply a truth that we know within ourselves but have not yet realised or choose to ignore. Myself, I have touched and awakened my inner diva, just by simply hearing Jay’s words and believing that in myself there is a diva – she has always been there, she is me, she is here and only I can channel and show her to the world. My diva makes me feel – unstoppable and proud of myself as a woman and my sister diva’s, even the ones who have not realised it in themselves yet! She is there; you just have to find her!

Find out more about Jay by clicking this link!

The evening itself was beautiful low lights, candle lit, tantalising food and champagne. (And cupcakes, if you purchased a book, which were divine!) There were laughs, there were tears; there was so much love and support in the room that it stood up all by itself, it did not need to be mentioned – everybody simply just felt it. And that is the essence of our book club. It’s not about reading a book over the month and exchanged views… (‘Oh yes, and in chapter three…’) No. It is a chance to explore and nurture ourselves as women through stories, through the stories of women just like ourselves, the stories that we have in common; that make us understand each other and appreciate the diva within us. The performances by the beautiful and talented diva’s Emma Marie Sings and Monique Thomas symbolised the beauty in having a voice and using it to expel our messages, our emotions and touching others without even touching.

We could not have wished for a better start. I would like to thank everybody that came to the launch – the performers, Jay and the staff of JoJoLapa restaurant who gave us their venue and made it a setting complimentary to our night. But mostly I would like to thank my colleague, my friend and mentor Siobhan Harper-Nunes, founder of Shakti Women. She is a woman of strength and wisdom that I have never known before and inspires me every day to shine and be the woman (sorry, diva) that I should, can and will be. She is a force, a star and the embodiment of Shakti; I count myself extremely lucky to work with her and this is just the beginning.

Last month was the month of love, this month is the month of the DIVA! Ladies, it’s about time you unleashed yours!

Watch out for photos and highlights from the night coming soon and if you would like to sign up to our book club or would like to hear more about it then send us an email – We would love to hear from you!

J x

P.S. I would like to also thank our photographer of the evening Paul Stringer who was amazing and did the event pro bono, he was bossed around a bit (what else would you expect from strong minded women?) but he survived the night unscathed. He is a talented and focused creative and you can check his website and blog out by clicking on his name – I recommend that you do!