We all have at least one book within us. Isn't that what they say? How many of us believe that to be true? I, for one, was extremely dubious. It seemed like an achievement only possible for "real authors", not normal human beings like you and me. Never one to be put off, I plodded along, focussing on enjoying the process, rather than worrying about the outcome. But, thanks to publishers, Romaunce Books Ltd, The Rose of Florence was published on 16th January, 2023.

So this week, The Rose celebrates her 1st birthday. A year already! It's been a great year, too. Nobody prepared me for what publishing a book entails, but I've had some great experiences, so please indulge me while I briefly revisit some of them.

Publication Day sadly came and went in a bit of a Covid blur, but I soon bounced back in time to enjoy the launch event. This was held in the beautiful Drawing Room of Insole Court and was attended by many family and friends. It was such a special occasion, and one that I will remember forever.

Insole Court, Cardiff

The very talented and award-winning jewellery designer, Suzie Horan created and produced a limited edition set of necklaces and earrings for the occasion, and I still wear mine with pride.

Jewellery designed by Suzie Horan

In May, I travelled back to Florence, primarily to attend a course on Renaissance Art at the British Institute in Florence. (If ever you get chance to do this, take it. You won't regret it!) While I was there, I was able to see a copy of my book on the shelves of Florence's independent book shop, the Paperback Exchange. That was such a proud moment, seeing The Rose at home in her birthplace. She was in excellent company too!

The Rose of Florence on the shelves of the Paperback Exchange

In June, I was lucky enough to be asked to speak to a book club at the local library, Fairwater Hyb about my writing journey, about The Rose and about Florence itself, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It doesn't take much for me to start rabbiting, and they were all very interested, asking lots of questions. I hope some of them have made it to Florence. (Perhaps I should be working for the Florentine tourist board!)

Fairwater Hyb

Then came the event that made me realise that yes, I am an author! The Romantic Novelists' Association Awards Ceremony is an annual event, held in August at the end of their conference, and I was a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award for debut authors. It was held in Imperial College London, and what an honour it was to be there. I didn't win the trophy, but I did win a bit of self-confidence. Perhaps I can do this writing lark after all?

While it was still hot and sunny, on a beautiful evening in September, I did another author event, this time in Radyr Hyb. Will I ever get bored talking about my book, my characters, the time period, the setting, the beautiful city of Florence? I think it unlikely!

Radyr Hyb

At the end of 2023, I came full circle and returned to Florence, where I collected my first Florentine earnings. I don't think I'm likely to retire to the Bahamas just yet, but it was still a very special moment for me.

Delighted with a few Euros!

A year on, and I'm still very proud of The Rose of Florence. I think I'm also realistic in that I don't expect Netflix to be banging on my door with offers of a mini-series, although I have, of course, created a full cast in my mind! Writing will still play an important part of my life, and I will continue to work on Book 2, in the hope that I can do it all again.

Thank you for allowing me to share The Rose's first year with you. If you'd like to give her a birthday present, the best thing you could do is leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads (or both). We'd be very grateful :)

Book reviews are so important for authors

Of course, if you haven't yet read The Rose of Florence, that would make a great birthday present too! You can get yours here.