Jessie Cahalin – Accidental Novelist and Blogger

8th August 2018

I am an accidental blogger who never dreamed I would become synonymous with books and handbags.  My creative journey has gathered pace and led me to mysterious destinations. However, I always knew writing a novel would be a chapter in my life.

My lifelong dream to write a novel prompted me to move on from my career.  Characters hassled me for years and it was time to set them free in my novel, ‘You Can’t Go It Alone’.  I tapped away on my laptop keyboard for six months; it was fun to finally meet the characters. At times, I was a little shocked at their behaviour.  Novel completed, I closed my laptop then planned renovations to my house.

Unbeknown to me, my husband read the manuscript of ‘You Can’t go It Alone’.  He self-published the novel, without my knowledge, as he knew I would dilly dally.  It shocked me, but I decided to grab the opportunity and make connections with the writing and reading community via a blog and social media.  Initially, the aim of my blog was to share book reviews of all the books that had resonated with me over the years. I named the blog Books in my Handbag, as all my books are on the kindle, in my handbag.

Books in my Handbag blog

Books in my Handbag Blog


Playing on the theme of handbags, I tweeted photos of my novel in my handbag. Overwhelmed with the positive comments about the photo, I realised it would be fun to ask authors to send their photos. I developed the Handbag Gallery to showcase the authors’ books.  American Author, Jena C. Henry’s said:

‘Your site is an elegant showroom of books and handbags. Even more, it is a curated collection of possibilities, opportunities and dreams. So much to explore!’

The handbag gallery screenshot

The Handbag Gallery


The Handbag Gallery connected me to lots of authors and they have supported me with the editing, publishing and marketing process of my novel.  I wanted to find out more about the authors, so I developed my Chat Room then invited authors to present extracts.  Authors give great advice about the writing process through the interviews, and I have learned so much.  In the early days of my blog Imogen Matthews advised:

‘You have to work really hard to get people to find your book as the competition is increasing all the time.’

Imogen was spot on with her observation. Authors are superhuman, because they write, publish and market their novels. Despite my wonderful experience, there could be more teamwork and reciprocation amongst authors. People don’t listen if you keep on promoting your own book. There is room for everyone out there: the key is to get your voice heard and we can’t go it alone.  I have created opportunities to support authors.

My Bloggers’ Café celebrates authors who have interacted and supported me. Other authors call in the café and look around at who will support them.  This has enabled me to connect with Jena C. Henry.  She will be featuring on a page called Golden Chapters.  Each month she will review the opening chapter of a book to tempt readers.  We are launching our joint USA and UK initiative very soon.

Some of the blog’s guests – authors interviewed by Jessie.


The international bookish community is a dynamic force powered by words, creativity, friendship and lots of coffee. Books are my bag, and they have connected me with authors, readers and dedicated book bloggers across the world.  My blog offers a place to unite the bookish world, but I can’t do this alone. I would be delighted if new guests would hop aboard my Books in my Handbag Blog, read my novel and become part of my accidental journey. Come along and join Carol Drinkwater who said, ‘I love your book blog and am honoured to be amongst such class.’


Having overcome my fear of self-publishing, I am now living the dream of introducing the characters who have been hassling me for decades. My debut novel, ‘You Can’t Go It Alone’, is a heart-warming tale about the challenges women still face in society.  The novel has light-hearted moments and presents hope.  As C. S. Lewis said, ‘We read to know we are not alone.’

I hail from Yorkshire in the north of England but now lives in Wales. I love to travel the world and collect cultural gems. I search for happy endings, where possible; great coffee, food and music give me inspiration. I adore books, bags, writing and photography.


Visit Jessie’s website at

Connect with her at:  Facebook

Twitter:        @BooksInHandbag


Book link:

Links to Jena. C. Henry :

See my debut novel You Can’t Go It Alone at:

Written by Catherine O'Brien

2 comments on “Jessie Cahalin – Accidental Novelist and Blogger

  1. Jessie Cahalin on

    Many thanks for inviting me to present a guest post. I enjoyed sharing my accidental adventures with you.
    Delighted to visit Essential Audio Books – great innovation to share stories.
    Thank you Imogen Matthews for the introduction. I reviewed her book and it is an ideal story audio.

  2. Angela Petch on

    I feel privileged to be a part of Jessie’s gallery. She was the first blogger I had ever interacted with and her review of my second novel made me cry (in a good way). She is generous with her time and selfless. I also enjoyed helping a little with her debut novel. Good luck with all your ventures. I think I am a groupie!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.