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Until a fortnight ago I’d never attended a book launch. Sometimes I was in a hurry and just noticed one happening as I passed Waterstone’s or I’d seen them advertised and wasn’t much interested. And they were all of the turn up, buy, and get it signed variety.

A few months ago I was kindly invited to one. I was tempted because I would have very much liked to see the house – pretty much a castle really – and grounds. It belongs to an ennobled person I’ve met once or twice and who had self-published a lengthy book of poetry about his ancestors.

Like a spy in the night I did a bit of surreptitious checking and discovered the order of service. On arrival you received a conducted tour of the house and immediate grounds and then assembled in the library and were given one glass of white wine. The way I drink that wouldn’t have lasted long but that was all you got.

There would then be a speech by a quite well known associate of the author – many local dignitaries would be present it seems – and then the great man himself would talk about the book and read extracts.

While these were still fresh in your mind there would be a sort of shuffle to a table laden with his work and then everyone, and I mean everyone, would pick up a copy; pay for it – and with full colour illustrations these were definitely not cheap – then present it for signing and afterwards disperse.

Well, I did think about it but not for long. It might have been different if I ‘do’ poetry but sadly I’ve never been able to appreciate it much unless it’s something like Hiawatha or The Burial of Sir John Moore. You know: the sort of thing that stirs the blood a bit. But these – I had seen a few promo passages – were more introspective, contemplative, and without much rhyming.

So I politely declined. I was pleased to hear later it went very well; plenty of books were sold and the tour was lengthy, if a little chaotic when the guide lost her way for a while!

Then, rather like the number 27 bus another invitation turned up. Again the author, John Comerford, is someone I know slightly. His novel, which I have not yet read, is What Blind Customers and is available here The venue was The Coffeehouse, a place I visit anyway where the service, coffee, food and most of all atmosphere hit the spot. I decided to go to this one; I’d know one or two people there and it would be good to congratulate John on getting published.

I met him as soon as I walked in. He didn’t know I’d got a book on Kindle and despite the hubbub insisted on looking at the reviews and reading the synopsis there and then. Quickly he was whisked away: he used to lecture at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College and there were many of his former students present, together with musicians, photographers, poets, and Rob Savage, a very up and coming film director. [Another candidate I hope for deciding one day he just has to film Project Overkill.]

John welcomed us all and very kindly included me in his long list of arts associated people there. He then launched into an excellent guitar / vocal section with one of the many talented musicians. Next came a former student who is destined to become an excellent stand-up comedian – I am so sorry I did not take a note of the names – and then there were more musical acts.

After that, selected guests read extracts from his novel – which I found amusing and clever and demonstrating a deep understanding for words and doubles entendres. There was genuine merriment in the room and the atmosphere was Let’s Party. I duly complied with a large glass of excellent Merlot; my companions wanted coffee and that was excellent too.

It went on with more of the same; the staff volunteering to extend their working day because everyone was having such a great time. Sadly I missed the final acts – including the excellent Chris Quinn whom I’ve heard and enjoyed several times before – because of time.

I remember Ms. J.S-C advertising a launch for Poker Face II which included cakes and freebies and free wrapping of her book as a pressie and wishing I could go, but sadly Northampton was an event too far at the time. It sounded like fun with a launch included. Which is exactly what this was: the author focused on guests having a good time.

So, if ever I have a launch I’m going in that direction. I would need to tap John for names of musicians and Ms. J. S-C for wrapping and freebie ideas.

But more than anything I’d want the guests to enjoy the party.



Waterstones, Kettering Video Diary – Blog post revisited :-)

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(Proof! Ha ha!)

Hey guys!

I survived yet another signing! Yes, that means you have to put up with me for a bit longer!

OK, so here are the video diaries for Saturday 13th October at Waterstones, Kettering and I would just firstly like to say thank you to everyone at the store who made us feel very welcome and offered me advice and lots of coffee to get me through the day. This signing was different because, for the first time, we opted not to sit down but for me to walk about and approach a few people. I find this really, REALLY hard to do but, like I say, we got through it in one piece. The downside of walking about was that it was kind of impossible to do a video diary without being in the way of a shelf or accidently catching members of the public so we decided to leave filming until the evening when we were back home. I had a shocking cold by this point and felt pretty rough so I’m going to use that as my excuse for the much weirdness that accompanies the next two recordings 😀

So clip one deals with the lovely questions we received surrounding me and my writing and thank you to everyone who contributed to this clip…


I got into trouble many times for kicking the drawer in the kitchen and basically mucking about so we moved to the living room in the hopes that if Mr S-C sat on my legs I might keep still…didn’t work ha ha! May I warn in advance that Mr S-C said there was plenty of room on the camera to get this next clip but, as you will see, there wasn’t!

You get the general idea of where this was heading and it was our last question so I didn’t bother to record anything else to add to it.

Again, thank you to everyone who sent in questions because it made the filming much more fun and unpredictable  and it was quite cool attempting to deal with questions when I had no idea what was coming up! We didn’t have a hat so we put all of the names in a colander and each took it in turns to pick one. Here are the three winning names:-

Julie @RiverofTimeFan

Charlie @charlieplunkett

Victoria @vspearson

So congrats to you three and as soon as book two is available and I have an address to send them out I will be forwarding you a signed 1st edition copy of Poker Face. The Puppet Master.

Lastly one final thank you to Heather @heather5mith for popping along for a couple of hours and for interviewing me and to Mr S-C for staying with me for a few hours and for holding the camera so we could get the clips for the diary. Cheers muchly guys and just so you all know, we celebrated with a yummy curry last night. Yay!

Jess 🙂 x

Video Diaries! My very first signing event at Waterstones, Hatfield. Post re-visited :-)

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Well, readers, the time came…and went…aaaaand, despite all of the panic, tummy aches and tears, I made it to and through the 23rd June 2012. I lived to tell the tale…or should I say the video diary. Now, I must first apologise because I thought that my camera (with video facility) would be fine for the occasion but it seems, even after deleting all personal photos of our recent holiday, there was not enough room to fit the four clips that I wanted. As a consequence we used @Heather5mith’s i-phone (the wrong way up) so two of the clips are either going to show up sideways or with mega blacked out borders  – but as long as they show something, right now I don’t care! Uploading to this blog has been an absolute nightmare! I even cried!

So, here goes. The first clip is very early morning on 23rd June. The kids are having a go at their interviewing skills. PS I would just like to make it clear that I do not push my daughter in this clip, I am simply trying to keep her from YouTube! She is one determined little monkey, let me tell you!


So, we got mega lost on the way to Hatfield. The journey should have taken us  1 hour and 15 minutes, tops. However,  even with @Heather5mith’s SatNav, Mr S-C’s built in thingy on his phone and my more caveman-like printed off ‘Route Finder Classic View’ we got lost to the tune of over one and a half hours! The upside of this was that I was so fed up that my initial reservations about the whole affair had been replaced with ‘All I want to do is get there!!!’ When we did get there the staff at Waterstones were absolutely fantastic. They grabbed a table, a snazzy table cloth, advised us on the best positions, provided a fabarooney decorated chalk board and then even grabbed us all a coffee from Nero! I love the people at Waterstones, Hatfield! I will say this more than once! I must also say that Heather’s interview technique is pretty cool and she managed an artistic reflective job, which is very clever. Let’s agree that it was a complicated, technical set up and was entirely intentional. If the BBC would like to hire @Heather5mith, she is available all day Wednesday (outside of Zumba) and most evenings (as long as it’s not a choir night).


Towards the end of the day we went for another clip but my camera held up its little camera hands and said ‘No, sorry, I clocked off at lunch time. It’s Saturday! I don’t get paid for this!’ Diva camera alert! So we dug into @Heather5mith’s hugomungo bag and caught a bit more of the day on her phone. Neither of us knew what to say at this point but we said there would be a video diary and by Jove we were going to rise to the challenge. It WAS a challenge!!!


We packed up at 5.30pm, feeling exhausted (I’m not sure why I was as all I’d done was sit at a table all day, answer some questions, try not to do a runner and sign stuff!) It might be the fact that by that point I had consumed two large coffees, only one small bottle of water and not much else. After a farewell to Robin (not my Robin but the fabarooney Robin at Waterstones), Laura, Chris and Maisie (If I have spelt this incorrectly please let me know and I will change it – who I didn’t get to talk to but wish I had now) we made our weary way to the car park. The box of books was reassuringly and satisfyingly lighter than when we had arrived and we loaded the car for what SHOULD HAVE BEEN an hour’s drive home! Yeah I bet you’ve worked out what happens next! A slightly more stroppy video of me is what happens next, but at least (as I am not required to look at the camera in the next clip) there is no random face pulling, singing, dancing, ear tugging, lip rolling, hair touching, arm scratching or eye avoidance going on. This is the most normal clip that exists of me! The only problem I have with it is that my nose looks big sideways on and I HATE IT!!!


This here concludes our video diary of my very first signing at Waterstones, Hatfield, and I have enormous gratitude to everyone who works there. They are absolutely fantastic! To the manager Steve Jenner (hope he doesn’t mind me using his name) for allowing me to be there, to @Heather5mith for accompanying, standing for ages and supporting, for Mr S-C for doing the very same thing along with the occasional ‘You look well cool!’ (lies) and much needed hugs and to Julia Hughes (@tinksaid) and her wonderful sons for coming to visit us, to Mr S-C’s mum and partner for coming along to say hi and having the kids for a bit, and to my fabarooney sister for agreeing to have my two children (on top of her own three) so I could get out and about and promote my work. I also would like to thank (yes I am still going on but stay tuned because this one is probably for you) all my fantastically supportive followers on Twitter and my understanding friends because, without all of you, this would nowhere near have been the most fantastic experience of my life that it turned out to be. You are all way cool and I loves ya!

Take care from me,

Jess 😀 x

Where did you get YOUR imagination? Blog post revisited :-)

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This post is revisited from my old blog Lock Stock & Barrel. I am migrating (one blog post at a time) over to WordPress because apparently it’s pretty cool…and I agree!


Wix blog post dated 21st January 2012:-


Where did you get YOUR imagination?

In light of the recent traumatic events that my family have suffered, it’s a slightly more serious post this time. I can do serious just you see if I can’t. Don’t worry it won’t last long I’ll be back to loopy quicker than you can click your fingers. Hopefully, quicker than you can hit the back button!

I have wondered at it many times before but, with the shocking news that my sister and niece were on the Costa Concordia when it hit rocks and ran aground, my thoughts suddenly marveled at the complexity of the mind. Exploring all the possibilities of what could be happening to them when all contact was lost got me thinking, where did I get my imagination? There will be heaps of biological and psychological research on the matter but this post isn’t intended to be academic, it’s just a bit of a muse that’s all.

So, is imagination genetic or the product of experience?   

Taking a look at my two children, I like to call them Chalk and Cheese, it is clear that there must be some genetic link to the power and depth of thought. I have a very vivid imagination but, unfortunately, fantasy is not always fun. The ‘What if syndrome can play havoc with your plans, your decisions, your mood, your dreams and in some cases even your life. I have suffered frightful recurring dreams that I can remember way back to when I was five. When I am stressed I dream that I am awake and it often takes quite a few ‘awakenings’ to get me back again. I dream in colour and, for anyone who wondered what it was like to hit the bottom in a falling dream, it REALLY hurts! I have had doctors sitting on my bed, wardrobe doors flying open, huge hands trying to smother me and Hitler declaring that I am his Eva Braun. My imagination has been cruel at times but of course it has also led to good things, like the writing of twenty-four books and the publishing and sale of one of them. I intend to bring more of my work into the world but I shall build my house of creativity just one book at a time. There are a multitude of reasons why someone might decide to write but for me, first and foremost, it was about liberating my mind and finding a decent voice to channel it through.

Although genetics probably play a big role in imagination I believe that it is life’s experiences that have the greatest impact. Life threw some pretty difficult things my way when I was little and at the age of ten a momentous shift occurred, challenging everything I knew and relied upon. Despite trying to control things with quirky little behaviours, I couldn’t physically alter a thing. With all the internalised emotional turmoil I ended up doing badly at school, education really wasn’t important to me, and I made some pretty bad choices along the way.

Fortunately, as I turned eighteen, my life was about to shift again. I was about to find something stable, secure and enriching. I was about to find a decent job. I managed to get an interview with a legal firm (don’t ask me how, I haven’t a clue) but although I didn’t feel in the slightest bit worthy they offered me the job on the very same day. Luck was on my side for once. I’d left a lech of a boss behind (good riddance) and I was eager to start working on the mental health and criminal law cases that awaited me. The work was often fascinating and disturbing and I loved every minute of it. That firm changed my life and helped me to see that I was capable of more. With the firm’s support and encouragement I graduated with an LLB Law degree in my early twenties and went on to complete solicitor’s exams.

So now that you’ve got it what are you going to do with it?

Thankfully my children have had the most stable upbringing a child could possibly hope for and should, by rights, demand and that makes me feel incredibly proud. I’m doing something right. On reflection, would I trade the traumas of my own life when it has helped me to develop my debut novel? Probably not, and it’s a good job too because I can’t. All of the above, the genetics and the experiences, are part of me in the same way that my novel is a part of me. Poker Face isn’t just a young adult story with crossover appeal, it is testament to what can be achieved if you put your mind to something and, when I say your mind, I literally mean just that.

Poker Face is about a young girl that leaves school with nothing. A girl who has to fight to survive in a world where everyone and everything feels so much bigger than she is and, I have to say, I know how that girl feels. Ruby Palmer was created in my imagination and I don’t know if that was as a result of genetics, experience or some other thing but what I do know, for sure, is that I love her and I am very glad I found her.

Go, Ruby, go!

Thanks guys and take care from me. Jess 🙂 x


Stand and deliver…Blog post revisited :-)

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This post is revisited from my old blog Lock Stock & Barrel. I am migrating (one blog post at a time) over to WordPress because apparently it’s pretty cool…and I agree!


From WIX 17th November 2011


Poker Face Amazon

Dear all,

OK, so I promised myself that I would keep blogging away on a weekly basis and I have failed this week but, in my defence, I have been a little bit busy. Let me update you.

I have sent my work off to a print company and it is currently being printed, bound and boxed as I write! Unless something self destructs Poker Face should definitely be ready in paperback format by 26th November 2011. Do I deliver on tight deadlines or what??? As for the e-books, they have beaten the paperbacks to it. By the time you read this post, Poker Face will be available on Amazon for Kindle and many other devices and, as if that’s not a huge buzz alone, it will also be available across the world. I am like soooo excited!

This was a mission I must confess and to make matters harder my laptop is officially crap! Every time I ask it to do something it needs to prepare itself, psych itself up a bit, think about it, mull it over, weigh it up…and then eventually it disconnects from the internet and pushes me that little bit closer to insanity. I wonder when I’ll start laughing and not caring anymore. Or maybe I am and I just haven’t noticed. I better keep a record of the time, any unaccounted for lapses could be an indication that I’ve been singing or dancing in public.

Emotionally it has been very hard at times, trying to pull myself in so many different directions. Just a few days ago I went looking for reassurance from my daughter (big mistake). She was playing with her dolls (they have American accents – how did that happen, she’s just turned four! Quite good they are too!) I asked her; who is more beautiful, mummy or Barbie? Do you know what she said? Hmmmm yeah don’t pretend you don’t know what she said. But I bet you can’t guess the reason why Barbie is more beautiful than Mummy. No, it’s not because she has great assets. No, it’s not because she doesn’t have a mark on her body or any hair on her legs. No, it’s not even because her legs are long or her hair is blonde and perfect. You are frowning now and wondering what on earth could it be that gives Barbie that edge?  Here it is, brace yourselves, it’s because her arms go all the way round in a big circle without her having to turn her hands! How can I compete with that? Even plastic surgery would fail to bring me up to that standard of womanliness!

As if that’s not enough, this week my son told me I’m boring. No matter how hard I try I am never going to live up to the 360 degree lifestyle their dad offers them. I’d say they have probably spent most of their young lives upside down! I need to work on a more exciting way of serving meals, cooking, cleaning, doing the school run, trips to the park, Wacky Warehouse and sweet shops, whilst fitting in a bit of writing here and there! Clearly I’m not doing it with enough enthusiasm. Bless him he does feel guilty for saying it…now. I forgive him.

So, anyway, I have a party to organise with a mafia theme and I’m looking forward to that bit. I’m avoiding picking up my proof of the book because it’s already gone to print and I know I will spot an error and then beat myself up over it. I must keep myself busy in other ways. I think a very good place to start is peanut butter on toast and a nice cuppa. In a strange way I feel like I can relax, everything is out of my hands now save for the promotion (that I’ve got my son doing as a punishment for calling me boring). Kidding, I haven’t, but he’s very excited and keeps telling people, like his teachers at school, we are having a book launch party and you can come if you want. I have told him it’s not his job, he doesn’t need to worry about it, he’s young, free, and should be wearing that damn sandwich board I made him!

Right I’m off and the next post will probably be me acting like a child, sitting on the floor, refusing to put my dress on or do my hair because I can’t face all the people I have invited to the book launch. They might ask me something and I will probably crumble! I can shout from the rooftops for other people but, for myself, I can’t even climb the ladder! People say to me ‘Wow you’ve written a book! What’s it about?” I respond with “I don’t know, sorry, better go my son is holding up traffic with his sandwich board.” Perhaps I should spend my tea and toast time researching how to sell myself. Probably better not type that into Google though.

See ya guys and take care.

Jess x