On February 15 2020, I'll be the special guest author at the Love Writing Manchester series launch event.
The day has been organised as part of the celebrations for the Romantic Novelists' Association's 60th birthday, and is being held at Manchester Metropolitan University. It's aimed at anyone who is interested in reading or writing romance, and features guest speakers, the chance to hear from experts in the genre, and a Q&A with yours truly!
Tickets are £10, include morning refreshments, cake, and bubbly - what's not to like? You can find out more by clicking here
As of October 31, the first three Comfort Food Cafe books - Summer at, Christmas at, and Coming Home to - are all available on audiobook from your usual retailer. Trick or treat??
I've been to a few 'do's this year. In March, it was the Romantic Novelists' Association Awards in London, at a very swish venue indeed. Hosted by Prue Leith and attended by all kinds of literati luminaries, I was lucky enough to not only go along for the fun times, but to win the Contemporary Romance of the Year Award for Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe. And I even saw Ed Sheeran at Euston Station!
In July, it was the HarperCollins Summer Party in the garden of the V&A Museum - a genuinely star-studded event with the likes of David Walliams, Jeremy Paxman, Barbara Taylor-Bradford and even some random members of Blue! The highlight for me was meeting up with all my lovely author friends, and even making some new ones.
Both bashes were very, very glam - which means of course I had a complete 'what-the-hell-am-I-going-to-wear-and-how-do-I-lose-three-stone-in-a-week' type meltdowns. 'Cause, you know, I'm female, and that kind of thing never seems to go away. To put it into less glamorous context, after both parties, I found myself alone in a hotel room, pretty drunk, eating pork pies and Monster Munch that I'd tucked away for later - my London hotel equivalent of getting a kebab on the way home!
The contrast between these kinds of events an real life is astonishing. In real life, I go weeks on end without wearing make-up. I'm often slouching around with no bra on - come on, we all know it's more comfy! I can go days on end without talking to anyone outside my family. I wear crappy clothes, covered in dog hair, and my daily life is dominated by school runs and keeping everyone kitted out with clean pants and PE kits. I worry about money, about my kids, about my health, about the fact that the plug in the bath is clogged up...about everything, in fact. I'm sure I'm not alone in this.
The glamour lasts until the train pulls back into Liverpool - but at least I do occasionally get some glamour! Roll on the Christmas party...
Well, here we are - just a few short months since my last post. Okay, fair enough - ten months, then. What can I say? I suck at this!
Book news...the Birthday That Changed Everything is now out. This book means a lot to me, as it was the first one I ever completed. That was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (2010), and it's travelled almost as far as the Millennium Falcon on its way to getting published. Please forgive me the Star Wars references - the story I'm currently writing features a hero who looks like a young Han Solo, so I'm a bit obsessed...
Anyway, Birthday is about a woman called Sally Summers, whose whole life is turned upside down when her husband leaves her for a younger model in the run-up to her 40th birthday. Sally's one of those women who has worked so hard at being a Good Mother and a Good Wife, she's completely forgotten how to have a Good Time. We've all been there.
The rest of the book tells the story of how Sally gets her mojo back - with a bit of help from a group of new friends, her less-than-adorable teenaged kids, a handsome Irish dude, and several years' worth of holidays round a gorgeous swimming pool in Turkey...even thinking about it makes me yearn for sunshine!
I did a reading from the book at Waterstones Liverpool 1, along with fab fellow authors Jane Costello and Amanda Brooke. We looked like this on the night (until later, when me and Jane had had a few cocktails...):
That's me on the left, and the Birthday That Changed Everything is the one with the big red balloon on the front. Because nothing quite says fun like a big red balloon, does it?
In between this blog post and my last one, I also had two more books published by HarperImpulse - Nevere Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper, and Pippa's Cornish Dream. Pippa, God bless her, also went on to win me an award at the annual Love Stories Awards in London. That was exciting, as I think you can tell from my face:
Now, however, the party is well and truly over, and I'm in the thick of writing my next book - The Comfort Food Cafe. As is perhaps obvious from the fact that I've chosen now to do my blog posts, I'm procrastinating! Anyway, enough, I must get back to it! If my annual blogs aren't quite current enough, please do follow me on twitter or Facebook, where I am much better!
I am still rubbish at blogging...but at least I didn't leave it a year this time! As I write, the sun is shining, Spring seems to have temporarily sprung, and everything is bluebells and tulips. Nice.
Dark Touch - the sequel to Dark Vision - is now out, and there are some nice comments on my reviews page (or at least there will be in approximately 20 mins time). I've loved writing about Lily McCain and her fantasy adventures, and especially enjoyed melding crazy supernatural shenanigans with modern-day Liverpool. It's also the reason I visited New York last year - nice research trip, featuring an abundance of Guinness, massive walking tours, and a huge dollop of 'oohs and aahs'. It was amazing - and I hope I've captured some of it in the book.
This is what the cover looks like:
It's available now at All Good Book Stores. I am terrible at doing links, so this may or may not work - if it doesn't, and you want to find it on Amazon, just search for it using my name:
My next HarperImpulse romance is also out on June 2 - and I hope to share the cover with you soon. In the meantime, enjoy the bluebells and tulips, and thanks for reading!
...but my mid-February resolution (I've just created that!) is to be better. There's so much going on, and I really should be telling you all. The problems is I'm so busy doing it, I forget to. Don't take it personally - sometimes I even forget to brush my hair. Or to get dressed. Or my kids' names.
Right, well, firstly thanks to everyone who bought/reviewed Cold Feet at Christmas - it did so well, I was thrilled. It spent ages in the Amazon top 20, and even made it to the Christmas number one on the iTunes bookstore! It was really well supported by the book blogging community, and I am now nearing 200 Amazon reviews. Some of them are terrible - I've clearly split opinions with this one - but most of you seemed to love it. Which is, you know, nice. On the romance front - and I've just realised I'm posting this on Valentine's Day - my second Harper Impulse e-book is out in April. It is currently the Book With No Name, which sounds very Clint Eastwood, but isn't.
For those of you who've read Fear No Evil and loved Jayne McCartney, you can find her gracing a short story anthology collection called Love...Maybe, published by Avon. It's a collection of ten authors, some sweet, some sour, some in between! Mine is called The Mysterious Case of Cupid and the Drag Queen, and it takes Jayne on a frenzied search through Liverpool for a missing chihuahua...with a few laughs along the way. You can buy it either as part of the anthology, or on its own, here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Maybe-Must-Have-Eshort-Collection-ebook/dp/B00SS45A1O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1423911914&sr=8-2&keywords=love...maybe
And here - if I can figure out the techy stuff (scratches head and feels like crying...) is a picture of the cover:
Looking a bit further ahead, the sequel to Dark Vision - Dark Touch - is out on Del Rey UK at the end of March. I'll be posting the cover up here soon - unless those mid-February resolutions just don't take...
The heroine of my book, Dark Vision, is a pop writer on her local paper - as well as being a Goddess with the fate of humanity resting on her shoulders. At least part of that is relevant to me as well: I was also a pop writer, on the Liverpool Echo, for many gloriously hazy years (the 90s: they passed in a blur!). The story even opens at a gig in a fictitious Liverpool nightclub called the Coconut Shy. Music is a constant thread throughout the book, so I decided to draw up a Spotify playlist to share some of it with my readers. It's what you might call an 'eclectic mix' - listen and enjoy!
Dark Vision playlist
Well, it's less than a week to go until publication on March 27th, which is frankly terrifying! I'm pretty busy trying to promote it as much as possible, while also surviving the daily ritual of my 'paid' work; pouring numerous bowls of Coco Pops for the kids, and sneakily watching the Vampire Diaries even though I'm 30 years too old for it.
A couple of things to report - firstly, the lovely Laura Davis at the Liverpool Echo wrote this fantastic piece about the book: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/author-debbie-johnson-dark-vision-6852694 - and secondly, I'll be doing a signing at Pritchard's Books in Crosby, Merseyside, on Saturday March 29th between 12 and 1. I have been forcing all my friends/family/strangers from off the street to say they'll come along so I don't feel too lonely!
Thanks for reading!
I've always wanted to say 'I've been on an incredible journey' - in the way that X Factor finalists say it, not people who've just survived a long train ride to work. It sounds much more mystical and enlightening.
Sadly, though, this blog probably won't be - but I thought people might want to know how I ended up here, almost published and tearing my hair out trying to get to grips with a website.
Well...a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a little girl who loved writing stories. My favourite was The Lost Puppy. It was about a puppy. Who was lost. There was a happy ending. Not exactly War and Peace, but it did provoke my English teacher, when I was about six, to tell my proud mother that I'd be a writer when I grew up.
So far, I've ticked the 'being a writer' part off the list. I'm still waiting to grow up, though.
After university, I went into journalism, where I had an absolute ball. There really is no job like it, and I loved every minute of my time in newspapers. When family commitments and a strange yearning to try something new persuaded me to go freelance, I started mixing up my journalism with copywriting, PR, and training other people to write. I enjoyed it, and it pays the bills (almost), but I was still hankering after what I like to call The Lost Puppy Effect. I wanted to write fiction.
I'd like to claim I'd slaved over my masterpiece for years, but in fact I saw an ad for a competition - the Harry Bowling Prize - and entered the first chapter of a story that was rolling like tumbleweed across the empty plains of my mind. I was shortlisted; I went to That There London for the awards do, and amazingly I won it. That book - Fear No Evil - was never published (though I live in hope). But while that was disappointing, it did gain me the tireless services of my agent,Laura Longrigg at MBA, and gave me the encouragement to persist.
Two books and many glowing rejections later, I started working on what would become Dark Vision. I loved Lily, my emotionally damaged have-a-go heroine, and I loved the chance to bring an already vibrant Liverpool to life in my imagination with lashings of magic, vampires, sexy Celtic warriors and ancient Gods. It might already have all of those, I don't know - it's possible I'm not drinking in the right places.
Michael Rowley, Editorial Director of the then-new Random House imprint Del Rey UK, won my eternal gratitude by deciding that he loved Lily too - and the rest is history. Yay for me!
In the meantime, I've been busily writing book two - Dark Touch, out next spring - and plunging myself head first into my other work, three kids, and way too many pets. Life is busy. Life is good...what can I say, it's been an incredible journey!