Jonathan Jones has written a novel. Losing his job a few days before Christmas means the pressure is on for his book to become a bestseller, but when his partner drops her own bombshell, the festive holiday looks set to be a disaster. When he’s bequeathed a failing bookshop in their seaside town, it seems that some of his prayers have been answered, but his publishing company turn out to be not what they seem, and when his ex-wife suddenly declares her romantic intent, another Christmas looks set to be complicated. Is everything lost, or can the true meaning of words, a dog called Frodo, and the sheer magic of Christmas be enough to save Jonathan’s book, and his skin?
Away for Christmas is about the joy and pain of publishing books, the joy and pain of fractured relationships, and of course, the joy and pain of Christmas itself. The festive period is not always fun for everyone, but most of all, this is a story about staying true to oneself and looking for the real Christmas spirit beyond the baubles and the glitter.
The story is set over three Christmastimes, and because I feel sure you’ll be looking for a few hours of warm and cosy escapism at this time of the year, I can assure you that there’s a happy ending by the time Jonathan makes it to 2017.
Regular readers will know that my characters tend not to be in the first flush of youth, and that the joy and pain of relationships are often par for the course. Christmas is very much a family time and can unearth a multitude of unwelcome emotions and in the case of my character, present plenty of troublesome hurdles before the festivities can be enjoyed. His ex-wife doesn’t always make life easy, but Jonathan is determined to be a better dad, against all the odds.
And finally, the joy and pain of publishing books! There are some great publishers out there, ones who achieve results, look after their authors and understand the industry from the ground up. This story isn’t based on them.
It’s no secret that I’ve been round the houses and back again with regard to writing and publishing. Thirty years ago I used to believe that a good book would always be snapped up by a publisher regardless of genre, style, and content. In the real, commercial world, this just isn’t true. I see on a regular basis, writers excited by offers from vanity publishers, or those who operate under the guise of assisted publishing, not realising the implications until it’s perhaps too late. Even contracts from those real publishers with seemingly no pitfalls or upfront costs, can dissolve into a horribly disappointing experience. Of course, my poor character thinks he’s landed lucky when a small publisher offers him a three-book deal. What could go wrong? If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a book or maybe you’ve just typed THE END to your manuscript, you might think twice about your next step…
Bookmuse Magazine: “If you’re a writer you will laugh, despair and sympathise with Jonathan Jones, and the trials and tribulations he faces as he battles to become a published author. And if you’re a reader, you’ll be captivated by the excellent story-telling that weaves Jonathan’s complicated life into a page turning drama. A real feel good novella, perfect to curl up with on a stormy winter’s afternoon…” You’ll enjoy this if you like: Jojo Moyes, Jill Mansell, Erica James. Ideal accompaniments: Hot chocolate with marshmallows and a plate of shortbread.
AWAY FOR CHRISTMAS: an excerpt.
He wondered whether to kiss her goodbye or wish her a happy Christmas, but that had gone horribly wrong with Denise. He really wanted to hear her laugh and bury his face in her hair, but neither of those things were likely unless he managed to fall down the reception steps and she caught him in her arms. He resorted to a handshake instead which felt much too formal but it meant he could escape before he made a fool of himself.
Twenty minutes later he turned into his parents’ drive on auto-pilot, ignoring the twitching curtains on either side of number 46 and the slowly deflating Santa on the roof of number 32. He felt like a teenager again, minus the excitement of dare or discovery. He was simply reliving all the embarrassing parts; Christmas with his parents, angst over his love life, and not nearly enough cash. No doubt Annabel and his parents would play their well-rehearsed roles and ask the same old questions. He knocked on the door of their bungalow and a dog barked from within. This was strange because his parents weren’t really animal lovers and they’d had a no-pets rule since about 1975, not since Annabel’s ferret had fallen foul to a fox and left a trail of entrails amongst the begonias.
Once Jonathan was inside the dog followed him down the hall, and the second he came to a halt in the kitchen, began a thorough inspection of his feet. His mother proffered a cheek while she fussed with baking trays and hot plates.
‘Look at you with no hat or scarf on a day like this, you must be frozen.’
‘I’m wearing three woollen vests and a pair of long-johns to compensate.’
She rolled her eyes at this and his dad pushed a glass of something fizzy into his hand.
‘How’s business, Jon?’ This was Jim’s standard greeting, as if everything was measured by the success of business, and one which always grated. He knew his parents were disappointed in him, both for leaving a well-paid job for what they called an airy-fairy reason, and for selling Farmhouse Mews for less than the extortionate market valuation. But most of all, for breaking-up with Catherine whom they considered to be a thoroughly decent person, although that hadn’t been part of his master plan – if he could call his current predicament the result of a plan…
Away For Christmas is available to preorder: myBook.to/Away4Xmas