Monday 27 April 2020

What a Week!
Tuesday 21st April 2020 will be a date I will always remember. It was the day I became a published novelist and fulfilled my dream. In my last blog, I talked about how I was counting down to publication day by posting photos and short extracts from the novel in the hope of tempting readers to want to read Elin and Alexandra's stories. If you remember, I questioned whether it was right to do this in the light of the  worry and sadness of the present situation. I will never know if I got it right but I was very encouraged by the responses on Facebook and Twitter. Lots of people enjoyed the scenes of the sea and Greek village life as they helped them escape to a different time when booking a summer holiday would have been the norm at this time of year.

One of the popular posts was this one:
'Row after row of grey-green olive trees filled the space leading down to the sea.From nowhere, a breeze sprang up. To Elin, the trees were whispering, whispering about her, whispering to her, trying to tell her something.'
Those of you who have already read 'Her Mother's Secret' will know that the whispering features in Alexandra's story, too. What the whispers represent is left up to the reader to decide.

Excited and nervous, the night before, I took a long time to get to sleep, fretting about how the story would be viewed. Up until then, it was only me, the publisher, her reading panel at Ruby Publishers and my lovely editor, along with a very small band of beta readers, who knew what Elin's secret was and what Alexandra found out on her visit to Greece. By the morning, the novel would be out there in the world. What if readers didn't take to the story?

Morning arrived. What I wasn't prepared for was the generosity and kindness of the writing community, from messages of congratulations to already finding some 4* and 5* star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Throughout the day, friends and family were already reading the novel and saying how much they were enjoying it so far. I was blown away. Confined to the garden, we ate our lunch outside in bright sunshine! My husband cooked an authentic moussaka from a recipe given to me by my aunt and Greek uncle, accompanied by a Greek salad. Our dessert was stewed plums and natural Greek yoghurt, reminiscent of their plum trees laden with fruit and a frequent way to end a meal when we stayed with them. We had no retsina so had a beer and imagined it to be Mythos! That evening we'd scheduled a celebratory Zoom meeting with our three grown up children and the two eldest grandsons. With flutes in hand and a bottle of bubbly, we joined the meeting only to find our daughter had also invited other family members as well as friends! Such a lovely surprise and such a fitting end to a publication day in lockdown.  

The week continued with more blog appearances, lots of messages and reviews. A huge thank you to everyone who has taken time to write them and support me. If you'd like to read more about my writing and 'Her Mother's Secret', this week I've appeared on these blogs:
Monday 20th April – Sister Scribes
Tuesday 21st April - Karen Mace
Thursday 23rd April - Tara Greaves
Friday 24th April - Carol Thomas
Amazon link:

Thank you for reading. If you've had a publication day during lockdown, how did you celebrate? Maybe you have one coming up. What are your plans?
You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

Thursday 16 April 2020

Counting Down During Lockdown
As I looked ahead to the publication of my debut novel, never in my wildest dreams could I have envisaged the present state of the world, a world in lockdown to protect us all against a deadly virus. Life as we've known it has virtually come to a stop. 'Her Mother's Secret' is to be published as an ebook by Ruby Fiction next Tuesday on April 21st. I hadn't planned a formal launch party with a book signing and readings as I would have done for a paperback. I was going to have fun celebrating, though. A meal out at a Greek restaurant, trying to make baklavas to share with friends over a glass or two of bubbly, followed by a tot of ouzo, maybe. None of that can happen now. A number of friends whose novels are to be published in paperback have had to cancel their book launches and it must be far more disappointing for them. However, it is much more important that we observe social distancing and self-isolating. Authors are coming up with various ways of  marking publication days.

Magnolias on one of our walks
When Corona virus first arrived in Britain and it was clear that it would spread very quickly, I was glued to every update and bulletin trying to absorb the awful news. When so many were suffering themselves or losing loved ones, celebrating a new book publication didn't seem right. Would it appear insensitive? Having 'met' up virtually with writer friends, we talked about the escapism that reading can provide and how maybe photos of sunnier climes and the setting of much of my novel could lift the spirits. I hope so anyway and hope that's how my counting down posts on Twitter and my FB Writer page are viewed. I know at the moment I like to read about positive acts of support for our wonderful key workers, enjoy humourous sketches or see photos of our beautiful countryside as people take their daily permitted walks. I still watch a daily update and nothing will take away from the grim statistics. 

What have I been doing? I'm very grateful to the fellow authors who have offered guest blog posts or question and answer interviews on their blogs around  the time 'Her Mother's Secret' comes out. Writing the posts and answering questions has proved to be a great way for me to keep in touch with my writing when I don't seem to be able to concentrate long enough to get fully immersed in my WiP. I've also learned about Zoom, the virtual way I've kept in touch by having family meet-ups, meetings with the local Chapter and Slimming World. My Pilates instructor has been providing varied, almost daily Pilates sessions live online and I have enjoyed these immensely as a start to the day. Our daily walks in this amazing weather have proved to be the uplift we need and we've found walks around the village we didn't know existed!

Last Monday, the first of the blog posts was published on Jessie Cahalin's wonderful Books in my Handbag Blog. A big thank you to her for featuring me on her blog. If you haven't already read it, please do. I talk about what inspired me to write Elin and Alexandra's stories.

Five days to go:
Villa Anastasia
'The large wrought iron gates were padlocked and the pristine white shutters securely fastened down over the windows. A card had been stuck to the top of the post box with an Athens address for re-directing mail.'

Part of the novel, Elin's story, is set in 1969. Next Tuesday, why not pop over to follow me @JanBaynham on Twitter and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page? It would be great to see you there and I'd love it if you shared photos of yourself dressed in 60s gear or in 60s fancy dress. Thanks. I shall be sharing some 60s music, too. Although Bryan Adams didn't release this until June 1985, I'll leave you with this. Please turn the sound right up.
Thanks for reading!  

The Summer of '69

Amazon UK link: Her Mother's Secret - the Summer of '69