Wednesday 31 August 2016


I've just come back from a wonderfully hot, family-soaked holiday in Spain. Not many people know that because I am so very internet paranoid.

I'm not quite sure what I think is going to happen: the local villain will turn to cyber research, picking a name out of a hat which happens to be Jackie Buxton, travel through the 33 'Jackie Buxton's on Facebook – there are this many, I checked – to find the one who lives somewhere around here (obviously I'm far too scared of my cyber shadow to divulge exactly where in the north of England that might be) and, after cracking the 'friends only' block, will smile gleefully at noticing that I happen to be out of the country (and indeed, that my tightly packed neighbours have also chosen this time for an excursion) exactly when he/she has a bit of time on their hands. Next, we hope that this local, cyber researching burglar with time on his/her hands isn't good at busting down doors and foiling alarm codes.

Of course, this could happen. And you can guarantee – because this is exactly how my mind works – that this will happen the day I let down my guard to post on Facebook and Twitter that I am beyond excitement about my pending holiday and if I spend another moment in front of my desk I will fossilise. Thus, I tie myself up in knots not mentioning it. Talk about, Don't mention the war! Every second word is suitcase and Sangria.

But, like my Dad who couldn't close the door on our bedrooms at night without first checking that switching off the light hadn't caused a spark behind the switch and a fire in the wall behind, and my friend whose family sit in the car and count how many times she returns to the door to check it's locked - We all do that, I say. Not seventeen times, the husband replies – pre-holiday internet muteness is how it is for me.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to report that the holiday was all I hoped for - and some - and although I love where I live and am very happy in my village somewhere in the north of England, no I wasn't ready to come home from the sun, pool, beach, Sangria, reading, cycling, family paella nights, synchronised swimming (sorry, 'synchronised' swimming) family cards, Exploding Kittens, more reading, lack of washing, and did I mention the reading…? and generally being just a whole lot more manana-ish.

Still, at least my return meant I could use my loyalty card at my local hospital to get my broken toe sorted. Yep, a different one this time. And a story for another day. Suffice it to say, please pray this sun continues because the flip flops will be hanging around for another three weeks.

Weekly Timetables? You thought I was joking!
Now that I'm back, I've thrown myself into my usual pre-September de-clutter. I've talked before about September being my New Year here and this year is no different: the idea of filing and rejecting mounds of paperwork and teaching resources, sourcing and recycling new storage solutions so that I can lay my hands on the surviving papers more quickly, finely tuning my weekly timetables because this year I will make tea before 8pm and I will find time for more coffees with friends and filling out my new Passion Planner (thanks for the tip, Erica!) with an achievable list of to-do's… are almost as exciting to me as the first sip of a Spanish lager outside a sun-licked taverna. 

Almost as exciting.

But I also have LOTS of newness to look forward to. Glass Houses and I are going on tour and I am ridiculously excited about it. Please, please do come and say hello if you possibly can when I'm at a place near you. I promise we will have cakes or chocolate or even both. And books, lots of books:  both Glass Houses and Tea & Chemo.

The tour so far – all welcome!
Monday 5 September from 8pm @ The Bakewell Book & Gift Shop, Matlock Street, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1EE. View their website here
- for a brief talk, Q&A, book signing and a bit of a chat – with coffee and cake (of course).
Saturday 17 September from 2pm @ Blackwell's Bookshop, 21 Blenheim Terrace, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9HJ.
- pop in any time between 2 and 5.30pm for book signing and chat. You'll find me in the Costa café (they insisted) on the first floor. We also plan to host a Q & A session during the afternoon. More on this to follow.

Saturday 15 October from 11am @ Octavo's Book Café and Wine Bar, West Bute Street, Cardiff CF10 5LJ
- Writer in Residence for the day. More details to follow but meanwhile, checkout these cakes!

Date TBC for a Saturday book signing in the gorgeous, The Little Ripon Bookshop

Date TBC for a Saturday book signing @ Harrogate Waterstones, very recently refurbished and now with its own café over-looking the high street. I'm hoping I might be based in there…

Do let me know if you're interested in attending any of the events so I can get excited! 

Meanwhile, a very happy new year to you all :) 

Sunday 14 August 2016

Five Free Books and a Question

Sometimes I look at myself as I race through the to-do list to free up an imaginary spare hour in which I may, perhaps, be able to read, and think that it's a funny pastime: here I go, lamenting that there aren't enough hours in the day and yet I willingly use precious lots of them to propel myself into another reality. 
Some recent gems
And then I start reading books like these, some of my favourites of this year, and the world sort of melts around me as I read the first page and slide into a brilliantly told story. When I know this read is going to be breath-taking, stirring, preferably amusing, generally thoughtful and, of course, I'm falling in love with the characters, that's when I know why I spend more time (and money) on books than I'd care to admit.
If, like me, resistance to the potential for a life-affirming read is futile, you might be interested to know that I have a competition running in this blogpost and the prize is not one, but *five* books of your choice from the entire list of fiction and non-fiction titles in the wonderful Urbane Publications', collection. That's a choice of 78 books – and counting.

But we're not going to make it that easy for you.

Hearing that people have enjoyed Glass Houses warms my heart and the line which often tickles me, is the one about it being a great book group read. Oh, how I'd like to be a fly on the wall for that one! In light of this, we are going to be providing fliers to book groups with a list of questions about Glass Houses to get them started.
Just a few of my Urbane Titles.
More on my iPad's TBR...
And who would be the best people to come up with a list of questions about the book? My loyal readers!
So, to enter the draw for your pick of five books, please provide: 
Either (1) a question about Glass Houses you feel would spark discussion in a book group
Or (2) a question you'd put to a specific Glass Houses character if they were sitting in front of you
Or (3 - if the above seems a little too like a piece of GCSE English homework) the name of at least one of the Urbane titles you'd like to win and a sentence explaining why.  
*Competition closes: Monday 5 September*
  • You can insert your question in a comment below, email it to me here or post it on Facebook or Twitter (including @jaxbees).
  • You can enter as many questions as you like - each question = one entry.
  • If you feel your question may include 'spoilers' (ie you'll give some of the plot away) please choose the email option. 
  • The winner of their choice of books will be chosen at random and the best question – or questions - will be included on the flier.   
  • If you haven't read Glass Houses, you still have time! The closing date is 9am on Monday 5th September. 
  • Glass Houses is available direct from Urbane Publications and Amazon and to buy or order from book shops.
  • For more about Urbane Publications and its titles, click here.
Good luck!

If you would like to ask a question in person, I'd love to answer it for you. I will be signing books and hosting a Q and A session at Blackwell's in Leeds on Saturday 17th September from 2pm.
And I'll be doing similar in Bakewell Bookshop in Derbyshire on Monday 5th September (evening). More details to follow, including news of events in Cardiff (15th October), Ripon and Harrogate.

* In the event of the winning entry coming from outside the UK, the prize must be taken as eBooks.

Tuesday 2 August 2016

No Being Nice!

Some of you will know that I'm a bit of a purist. Or you might call it naïve. Idealistic, certainly. I even recognise it in myself as a bi-product of being away-with-the-fairies, but call it by whichever name you see fit, it means that I would never cheat at Trivial Pursuit. And believe me, never has somebody had more reason to cheat at Trivial Pursuit. I'd never look up an answer to a quiz question on my phone, underneath the table in the pub, amidst much giggling and defence that 'everyone's doing it', and probably much to the disdain of my team mates who'd be grateful that I was at least doing something to contribute to the greater good of the team. I just don’t see the point. I only want to win if it's for real. I've always been like that. I know, I can be so dreadfully dull.  

But no matter, I'm 47 and I don't see any of that changing now.

So, when I bring your attention to the Guardian's, Not the Booker Prize 2016 with its, ahem, esteemed Guardian mug up for grabs, and when I tell you that I appear to be rubbing shoulders with the most revered Julian Barnes and most treasured Maggie O'Farrell on its longlist, please believe me when I say that I am not asking you to vote for Glass Houses if it just doesn't float your boat.

I also wouldn’t want you to vote for it if you hadn't read it. Even though I recognise that it would be a very sweet thing to do.

Now, that isn't to say that I wouldn't love to be on that shortlist of books which is to be read and voted on by readers for the Guardian's somewhat tongue in cheek but nonetheless, quirkily respected, Not the Booker 2016.

I'd love to be on that list. It would be beyond my wildest dreams. [note to self: change that cliché in the edit]

But only if readers wanted me to be there.

So, if you have read Glass Houses and you enjoyed it and if you would like to encourage others to read it for themselves, if I asked you really nicely, would you consider voting for it over at the Not the Booker competition site? 

The link is here:

Once in, you have to choose two books from the longlist, from two different publishers, and include a short review (around 100 words) of at least one of the books you nominate. You put all this in a comment which you can access either at the top of the article or underneath the list of the hundred books on the long list. I think quantity of nominations and the quality of the review will both be used to sway the final decision, but I'm guessing. The emphasis is certainly on this being the readers who decide so please don't think you have to be any way a pro in writing reviews.

One more thing, you only have a few days to do it – the deadline is 23.59 on 14 August 2016.If you vote for Glass Houses, thank you! If you don't, I respect your integrity :)

Did I mention how much I love you all…?