Keyes In the UK

It’s all about relationships. That’s what I shared with the group at the Love a Happy Ending Summer audience in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, UK on June 16th. It’s also why I traveled well over four thousand miles with my husband, a trip that included two flights, two lengthy train rides, a pick up from Linn Halton’s star of a husband, Lawrence, and then a harrowing experience with a double roundabout in a rented Vauxhall, which left a family of five shell-shocked on the side of a road that was clearly not intended to be a road.

After nearly a year of interacting with my Love a Happy Ending family, daily, talking with them more than I do my own family, I had a strong urge to meet our team of writers and associate readers, most of whom reside in the UK. When I mentioned it to my husband, Aaron, he reminded me that we had not had the chance to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary the previous year and that it would be a great chance to get away. Isn’t he something? He also pointed out that it would be a chance to have a once in a lifetime experience.


Figure 1-With Author, Richard Holmes

I’d been to the UK several times before, on business. During those trips, I was usually stressed and very homesick. Reflecting on the UK generally brought back memories of those times, as dreary and depressing as they were. This time was a 180 degree change from my past visits.

From the moment the Love a Happy Ending team started to enter the Sir William Romney school cafeteria, I began to hear cries of “Stephanie Keyes!”. Hug after hug came my way and it seemed as though we’d all been friends forever, just waiting for this chance to meet in person. There was no awkwardness, no hesitation, just a large-scale family reunion.


Figure 2-With Janice Horton, Chris Longmuir, Mandy Baggot, Louise Graham and daughter Jess

For the event, I was fortunate enough to be asked to give a brief lecture on Creating Your Brand. Having worked on project implementations and marketing projects professionally, this was a great opportunity for me to combine my professional experience with my hard-won knowledge as a writer and share it with the group.


Figure 3- Presenting

During the session, I focused on identifying the characteristics that you most want to communicate about yourself to your audience. Then we discussed how to get the word out about the identified brand via the Internet, Social Media, and other Avenues. The audience was wonderfully interactive and even laughed at my jokes. Something I’ve been trying to get folks in the states to do here for years!

Figure 4- With Author, Sue Fortin and Reviewer Louis Graham

For a full details on my discussion in Tetbury, stay tuned to my website, in July and August for more information.

A highlight for me, was getting to meet Linn B. Halton, who has been such a mentor to me as I myself navigated the concept of self-publishing and also Kit Domino, the original editor of the first edition of The Star Child. Interacting with people over the Internet certainly cannot be compared to meeting them in person.

Figure 5-With editor Kit Domino

For, while I may, on occasion, write a compelling tweet or blog post, neither will be committed to the memories of my Love a Happy Ending UK colleagues. However, each of them will probably remember for many a year to come that I traveled from the states to shake their hand. I know that I will remember their warmth and kindness for the rest of my life. For as my dear Aaron mentioned, it was a once in a lifetime experience and it is all about relationships. It’s about people and we’re all the same no matter where we go.

Figure 6 – The LAHE Team in the UK

16 thoughts on “Keyes In the UK

  1. Your beaming smile says it all, Steph. You were smiling the whole time. It was infectious! Look forward to seeing you next time. Meanwhile, best of luck with The Star Child! Haven’t read it yet, obviously, but that cover… Wow!

    1. Hi Sheryl!

      Yeah, I can’t stop smiling. It’s a curse and a blessing. They had to ask me to stop smiling three times for my passport photo. The final looks like a cross between a grimace and constipation. Ew. Anyway, thanks for the good wishes! I can’t wait until September 21!

  2. The pleasure was all ours! Wonderful lady, wonderful husband to bring her all this way and a wonderful writer. Don’t miss the Star Child, it’s a fabulous book!

    1. Thanks Kit! It was a win-win and a much needed break from the kids for Aaron and I. All that worrying I did about them and they don’t even remember that we were gone. 🙂

  3. It was so great to meet you and Aaron in person! And you’re completely right, there was no awkwardness because you really can get to know people over the internet! It’s alway much better to hear an actual voice though!
    Loved your branding talk, as did everyone in the room, but enjoyed all the drinks later that night too :)))

    Mandy xx

    1. Mandy!

      It was great getting to meet you in person. What a wonderful day! Wonderful singing as well, during lunch! I was humming along and had those tunes in my head all weekend. 

      Yes! What a great evening that was, too! I will just never forget it. So great to catch up and so much fun. Sending a hug over the miles.

  4. Oh Stephanie, reading your post has put such a wistful smile on my face this morning. The whole Summer Audience weekend was wonderful and it was AWESOME that you and Aaron travelled so far to be with us. I loved meeting you both – yet I felt like we were old friends at the same time! Your talk on branding was inspirational and I always refer to it when I’m thinking in terms of my own author branding.

    Sending you my love over the miles! xx

    1. Hi Janice!

      It was AWESOME, wasn’t it? 🙂 The best part about the weekend is that Aaron enjoyed it as much as I did. It felt like we’d been old friends as well! i couldn’t believe it. 

      I’m glad you enjoyed the talk. It was so nice spending the day with you!

  5. thanks for bringing back memories of a fab day – even for a complete newbie. Glad you made the trip – hope you’ll come again!

    Ali B

    1. Hi Ali!

      You are very welcome. I really wanted to get this out to folks. I’d love to come back some day!

  6. Aw, Steph, it was so wonderful to meet you. You are so enthusiastic and warm and kind, and a fabulous educator. Loved your presentation. Oh, and let’s not forget spontaneous bursting-into-song in pub, haw haw. Next time, we’ll time your visit to coincide with an audition for an Xfactor, and we’ll blow them away. (Not?) Such fun, you brought back great memories, thanks for posting.

    1. Hi Nicky,

      It was wonderful to meet you too! Thank you for your kind words. I felt the same when when meeting you – you one awesome rockstar!

      I don’t, I think we could be in the running for the X-factor after that! I’ve been humming that song ever since, too. 🙂

  7. Hmmmmm That pic makes me look like I was storing slices of pizza in my cheeks Steph!!!! 🙂

  8. Thanks for sharing your memories and photos, Steph. It certainly sounds like a wonderful time was had by all!

  9. It was a day I will always cherish Stephanie! I never in my wildest dreams thought we would ever meet up, or that I would get to meet your wonderful husband Aaron! I dearly would have loved to have met the rest of the family … but who knows what the future might bring? I would like to say a heart-felt ‘thank-you’ for making such a massive trek and for the fabulous talk on Branding. You kept the audience spell-bound and I have to say I could have listened to your accent all day … Lawrence says a big ‘Hi’ to you both – pop round for coffee? Lx

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