Hey all, check out this wonderful cover for my new novel Wartime Sweethearts which is out April 18th. I was actually standing in the corner cooing like a proud aunt as the photographer took these lovely shots. There is nothing much weirder than seeing the characters who have lived in your head for months, suddenly turn up in human form!
I am thrilled with the end result -I hope you are too!
A English Girl. An American Soldier. A twin secret…
When Rose meets American GI William there is no denying the attraction between them…And even though she knows her family would not approve of her relationship with a black soldier, they can’t help but fall in love.
However Rose has a secret of her own and when war separates the sweethearts before she can confide in William, it is Rose who will have to deal with the consequences…
Dreams can come true. You know, like a REAL British summer identical to the one we now have. As well as that THING you have always wanted to do. Whether it’s start a business, write a book or become a master baker! Dreams have a way of resurfacing again and again, no matter how much we (or others) try to dampen them down or push them into a place we can’t access. As for me, I can’t live without mine and one of them was to get a book published. So here I am enjoying my tenth year as a PUBLISHED author. Yes, I wrote that in caps because being published ten years ago, doesn’t mean it was only ten years ago that my journey as a writer began. I was striving long before that time; writing for free, filing those rejection letters (and then emails) praying, waiting, and believing that one day, my time would come.
And it did.
(and here’s a video of me watching my first book being printed – and screaming about it!)
And I will never forget the day I received the call from my agent that SOMEONE WANTED TO PUBLISH MY LITTLE BOOK! I thanked God and then proceeded to go into semi shock… and then I may have shed a tear.
The book I had written in my PJ’s whilst watching a very special and inspirational episode of the Oprah Winfrey show was going to be shared with the world.
I had never set out to write a tearjerker. Simply the story of a young girl (Lois) who loses her father and tries to connect with him through letters he has written to her. But it was a story I HAD to tell.
Ironically, it wasn’t Lois’s story that was itching to be told- it was her father, Kevin who begged me day and night to tell his story. This character I had never met, who didn’t actually exist, yet was to become a huge part of my life via my book; By The Time You Read this. Kevin was a young man, taken down before his time. A man with hopes and dreams – the biggest one being, to see his little girl grow up.
Although Kevin is a fictional character, I know there are many human beings around the world who have been in a similar position- gone before their time without having the chance to write to their love ones; to tell them they are loved; to teach them their version of the meaning of life and love.
I have met, loved and lost such beautiful people and you may have too.
So before, my tears wet this laptop, I’d like you to help me raise an invisible toast to Kevin and Lois- beloved characters of my first published novel By The Time You Read This published exactly ten years ago. And here’s MY letter to these amazing characters:
Dear Kevin & Lois; Thank you for sharing your story with me. So many have read your story and I even got an email TODAY from the Philippines where you were mentioned. Your story has also appeared in the German, Korean and Serbian languages and according to the wonderful Harper Collins US team, your American cover was inspired by Barack and Sasha Obama. Even ten years later, your story is still available in paperback and is currently 99p on Kindle! I will never forget you, Lois and Kevin for getting that publishing ball roiling.
With Stars On,
Hello Lovely Readers!
I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.
Is it me or is the year just flying by? I’m not just using this as an excuse for not writing my blog posts on time (OK maybe a bit) it just feels like it was only yesterday we were celebrating Christmas.
It’s also six whole months since my fifth novel Orphan Sisters hit the shelves in paperback. And if you enjoyed reading Orphan Sisters as much as I loved writing it, please leave a review HERE Reviews are mega helpful to authors and I also love hearing what readers think.
It is also TEN YEARS this year since my first novel By The Time You Read This was published. I can’t believe it’s been a whole decade since a book I wrote in my pyjamas was published and translated into several languages including German, Korean and Serbian. It’s still available in paperback and is currently 99p on Kindle! I still get tingles thinking about that book!
It’s been a while since my last post. Forgive me, I do have an excuse. I have been hard at work on my next novel which has the working title: Flower Girls and is due out this year. I’ve also been trying my hand at script writing and of course watching Netflix and catching up on my reading. At the moment I’m reading the wonderfully compelling The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson which will be out in May.
So, all in all- an action packed start to the bright and springy month of May. But alas, like this week, my blog post is short.
Until next time…
So this is my first blog of 2018, and I’m about 2 weeks too late in writing this post. So, A belated Happy New Year and I hope you have all started off on your goals for the coming days, weeks and months.
As for me, it was a crazy 2017 which saw me get my first book published in 5 years, have major surgery, be diagnosed with a chronic illness, meet an amazing human being and have some of the best times of my life. My faith in God only got stronger and I learnt the art of facing my fears and coming out of it the other side! What a ride 2017!
So now we’re in the new year of 2018 and I’m pumped and ready to get on with my goals. First off, I have to finish editing my new book which has a working title of The flower Girls. For those of you who bought and read my current novel Orphan Sisters, thank you sooo much and I hope you enjoyed it. If you haven’t read it yet- what are you waiting for? Go and get yourself (and the dog) a copy!
This year marks the tenth anniversary of my first ever published book; By The Time You Read This. What an amazing adventure life as an author has been and it all started with that book – written in my PJ’s after watching an Oprah segment.
I’m also busy motivating and trying to inspire other would be writers as a motivational coach. If one of your resolutions has always been to write a book then get in touch. Together we can;
- Help you set weekly or monthly writing goals
- Help you structure and fine tune your writing.
- Hold you accountable to your writing goals
- Keep you focused and motivated
There is so much more to come in 2018 and I am ready to enjoy the ride. What are your goals for the coming weeks, months and year?
…in all formats: ebook, hardback AND paperback! If you’re in the UK you can buy a copy at Tesco and Asda as well as Amazon and anywhere books are sold!
Last night I had a wonderful book launch at West End Lane Books in Hampstead. A wonderful gathering of family, friends and colleagues! I can’t download any more pictures at the moment because of a technical hitch, so please be patient!
About Orphan Sisters
Their Nigerian parents have emigrated to England in search of a better life for their family. Nineteen Fifties London is a great adventure to the girls but not always welcoming. There are signs in windows of lodging houses warning: ‘no blacks, no dogs, no Irish’.
When tragedy strikes and the girls lose their father, their mother is unable to cope. When she fails to recover from the surprise birth of another child all three girls are sent to an orphanage. Lana is determined to keep her sisters together but when baby Tina gets adopted, she must admit their family is about to be torn apart – perhaps for ever…
What other writers are saying about Orphan Sisters…
“ORPHAN SISTERS by Lola Jaye The story of Lana, May and Tina, three sisters who find themselves alone in 1950s London after losing their parents is as remarkable as it is touching. Lola’s ability to evoke the era and create characters who you are rooting for from the word go, takes a real talent. Orphan Sisters is a brilliant saga novel in the mould of some of the classics” (DOROTHY KOOMSON)
“I highly recommend this moving, gripping story about a Nigerian family who start a new life in England, only to find themselves cruelly torn apart.” (KITTY NEALE)
“ORPHAN SISTERS is wonderful, affecting and refreshing, with characters and a story-line that weave together flawlessly. An important slice of social history that I recommend without hesitation.” (ALEXANDRA BROWN)
How do I reacquaint myself with characters in a book I wrote well over two years ago.
It all started when I flew off to Atlanta with two suitcases and a dream.
A dream to start and finish a novel, sell it and perhaps enjoy the southern sunshine and some chicken and waffles along the way. After MUCH procrastination and eating, I finally wrote the book and entitled it; ‘In Search Of Her Sisters.’ Most of my early titles only serve as a working title, so I didn’t get attached to the name, but did feel I was onto something with the story of these three orphans; daughters of Nigerian immigrants….
When after a few months my agent hadn’t sold it, I was advised by said trusty agent to ‘get on with the new one.’
Sighing like a 12 year old fed up with everything, all I could say was; ‘What?’ All I could think was; ‘I’ve put my blood sweat and tears into this one, I’m living thousands of miles away from home, so… no, I CAN’T GET ON WITH THE NEW ONE! What about this one? I like this one!’
‘Get on with the new one,’ was my agent’s terse response as she ignored my childlike petulance.
Part of the reason we get on (apart from her being a brilliant and loyal agent) is that she takes no nonsense from me and is rather straightforward. Plus, she knows when to repeat a sentence.
‘Get on with the new one,’ she said. Again.
After some metaphorical kicking and screaming, I did. Eventually. And I actually liked what I wrote and it allowed the sorrow of yet another unsold novel to sort of disappear. That’s the thing about being an author- you kind of have to get used to rejections. So many people think it ends the day you get published.
Anyway, fast-forward two years and a couple of novels later and boom! She sells In Search of Her Sisters- to a major publishing house! So I head along to a meeting with said publishers and I lose the ability to make any sense the minute my soon to be editor says; ‘I have always liked your work.’
Thoughts: My work? Why would this powerful industry player be liking my work? What am I- an author? Oh yeah, I have written and published 4 books during my brief history as a writer. Duh! What’s wrong with my brain?’ Perhaps I’m a little star struck sitting inside the offices of a publishing house. Yes. No, this was something more terrifying as in; I WAS TRYING TO REMEMBER THE BOOK. You know, the one she was talking about. The one I had written well over 2 years ago!
And then the moment became truly insane when she said; ‘So what do you think about character x doing situation x?‘
Thoughts: ‘Say what?’
I couldn’t even remember character X’s name let alone anything else. It had been two long years and 2.5 novels ago! I’d moved on. I was no longer the same girl, even my taste in shoes had changed. So all I could do was ‘umm’ and ‘ahh’ appropriately, hoping she wouldn’t make out the fraud in front of her. She probably would have if I hadn’t been honest. ‘I haven’t read the manuscript in two years… I may need a little time to reacquaint myself with the characters,’ I said in a posh accent that had also suddenly materialised. Of course she understood! And, phew! I knew it was better to avoid looking like an idiot in front of a very nice future editor. And after that moment of honesty, a relationship was sealed!
When I began the rewrite, I got to know my characters all over again! And what a lovely experience it was. Going through a manuscript after such a long break was like opening up a new book. I would gasp at the little twists I had inserted, having forgotten all about them and make comments like; ‘This is quite good, this!’
After a two year break, I was still in love with my book!!
So the moral to this story is; the characters in your book never really leave you, they are always there (and luckily, I still liked mine!)
So, let me introduce you to my OLD friends from my NEW book; Their names are Lana, May and Tina… the three characters of my soon to be published paperback novel, In Search Of Her Sisters… err no, sorry about that, it has a new title now: Orphan Sisters!
That’s right, Orphan Sisters (and for those of you who can’t wait for the paperback in a few weeks… you can download the e-book!)
It’s been a while since I updated my blog, even though I promised to do it monthly.
BUT I have an excuse!
Within twelve weeks, I started and finished book SIX!!! (well, a rubbishy first draft that will almost disappear once I go over it with my red pen) But one hundred thousand words in three months nevertheless and a record for me! Plus, I even got showered and dressed, cooked a bit and managed to see friends! Yaay!
If you opened this blog to find out how to do it, here’s how I managed it…
- Turned off all known devices like the pink smartphone aka the Pink Queen of Procrastination.
- Switched off Netflix, the satellite box and all other known devices that can beam 6 hundred boxsets into my working space.
- Stared at my computer.
- Stared at my computer some more.
- Took a break.
- And I wrote again until I had achieved the word count of 2K that I had set myself (Unless I had a really good excuse like the solar eclipse or something, I would usually achieve the number). And of course, I had days off to do other things.
Don’t worry if 2k seems a bit steep (some of us writers also have kids, dogs, demanding jobs- life stuff to deal with) just pick a number that works for you… but stick to it. As in, try not to fall below it but do of course, allow yourself to go over it.
Consistency is key.
It feels so rewarding at the end of the day to realise that you actually did what you set out to do!
I knew I could handle 2,000 words a day because the words were just flowing out of me. In my brief history of book writing, it doesn’t always happen that way; only when there’s a bunch of characters BEGGING me to tell their story (an epic tale I will get to share with you in 2018!) My current novel Orphan Sisters took a bit longer to write, but I had written that book during a different time and set of circumstances. In fact, I will address that in the next blog…
So it’s been over a month since the pre release of Orphan Sisters, my first published novel in five years. I see that publishing has moved on since 2012. The Internet is now a huge part of the publishing process now and the popularity of e-books have advanced and plateaued during that time.
This will be my fifth novel and I have never had a pre release before. But this time, the hardback and e-book editions were released on June 1st – three and a half months before the mass-market paperback. It’s different but also really good, as it gives me a chance to gather reviews online before the ‘big day.’
Right now I’m also writing my sixth novel, so my head is filled with an all new set of dysfunctional ‘people’ and intertwining plot directions! It’s also set almost two decades before Orphan Sisters, during World War 2 and this is a big change that will require a lot of research.
What is similar and has been for every single book I have had published, is the sheer joy I get from talking about my characters as if they were real. This happened last week after a very impromptu book reading at a gathering for creatives. Verbally, I was able to introduce the two main characters, Lana and May out into the world for the very first time and it felt thrilling… and terrifying! Apart from the usual neurosis fuelled battle in my head (what if no one likes them as much as I do?) I really enjoyed this process. In five years I had forgotten just how much.
I’m pleased to say ‘my girls’ were well received. These characters which had lived in my head, and then on a page and then out into the atmosphere, had flown the nest to make their own way in life.
Now, today and with just over two months to go until the official launch date of Orphan Sisters, I’m looking forward to the book reviews. I have already had a few and they have been amazing. I remember trawling through reviews for my previous books and choosing to focus on the very few that were negative. Why do we do that as humans? Ignore the positive and focus on the very few which are not? I have told myself I wont do that this time. I can’t promise I wont, though.
Having a book published after five years, has reminded me of just how much I love meeting and hearing from readers who have read and loved my work. When you’ve spent the best part of a year alone at your desk writing the novel, it’s this sheer joy that always creeps up – coupled with a reminder of why I don’t actually want to do anything else.