The Year That Was

As the year winds to a close, it’s customary to look back at all we’ve achieved in the past 365 days.

In a normal year, I suppose, that would be the case.

However, as we all know, this has been anything but a normal year. And so, while I’ve certainly achieved a few *things* this year (51 blog posts, 4 books including a co-author project, 2 short stories published, manuscript requests and rejections, a new website, plus turning the big 5-0) I feel that the story of this year is something much bigger than can be defined by mere numbers.

For this was a year of discoveries, not all of them pleasant. The discovery that teachers should be paid approximately £2546756756 per year, for starters. The discovery that people we like or love can get sucked down conspiracy wormholes, and that the ugliness of human nature is never far from the surface. But it was also a year when we were shown what the world could look like if we just stopped for a moment, the skies clearing, record bird and insect numbers, the wilderness rebounding from years of human pressure. A year when we were challenged in myriad ways, when we were forced to adapt again and again. A year of staying home, rather than going out. It was a year of change, of trying different roles or learning something new, of baking bread, or even just painting that wall in the lounge room yellow. A year when neighbours and friends and families and strangers all stepped up and worked together, a million small acts of kindness mending fractured communities. It was also a year of anxiety and stress and sorrow for so many people, for loss experienced through a screen, for watching years of work and investment crumble away within a few small months. It was a year when the idea of what is important began to shift.

It was a year to count blessings, rather than accomplishments

And so I will say simply this:

Whatever you did or didn’t do this year, if you’ve got through it, that’s enough.

And as we stand together on the cusp of 2021, and the promise of the next 365 days, remember – it may be dark at the moment, but every day brings us closer to the light.

Wishing you a safe, healthy and joyous 2021!

xx

Join Us on Twitter for #BlogBashChat!

HAVE YOU DISCOVERED THE #BLOGBASHCHAT TWITTER HOUR YET?

Every Sunday evening between 7pm and 8pm(BST) bloggers from across the globe unite and take part in the Bloggers Bash Blog Bash Chat using the hashtag #BlogBashChat

It’s an hour of introductions, learning, connecting with fellow bloggers, and fun. The Bash Chat following is growing and the engagement is incredible. One of our dedicated bloggers is Australian and gets up at 5am his time just to take part!

We don’t want you to miss out on this fun interaction. It’s just an hour out of your Sunday (which goes very fast!), but the possibility of finding answers to your blogging questions, making new friends, and discovering alternative blogs to follow is worth your time.

WHAT IS THE BASH?

If you’ve never attended a Blogger Bash event before then you’re in for a treat. Created by Sacha Black and aided by her intrepid committee of eight bloggers, the Bash is open to any blogger, regardless of age or niche. Previous events have included speakers, competitions, a panel, and attendees from all over the UK, Europe, the US, and Canada.

There will be an opportunity to network, eat cake, and meet some amazing online friends inperson! The event takes place in a single day, and you’ll be guaranteed a fantastic time and a sore face from all of the smiling you’ll do!

Timings and the exact breakdown of the day will be available closer to the event, but it will start mid-morning and end in the evening. We announce the winners of the Bloggers BashAwards, which you, the blogging public, vote for. You can see last year’s winners here.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Join your Blog Bash Chat host, Suzie and other members of the committee every Sunday on Twitter https://twitter.com/BloggersBash– don’t forget to use the hashtag! #BlogBashChat

NEW Bloggers Bash Website COMING SOON!

Wishing Everyone A Happy New Year!

This was the first dawn of 2016...

Photo taken on the first dawn of 2016…

It’s the last day of the year and so, as is tradition, I’m taking a look back at my blogging year. Oh, I won’t be sharing stats or anything like that – rather, just revisiting some popular posts and summing up my 2016 blogging experience.

For it has been an experience indeed! This year I’ve met some wonderful new bloggers, many of whom have chosen to follow Journey to Ambeth. Thank you to everyone who decided to take the journey with me – your comments and input are so very appreciated.

I also released two new books this year; Hills And Valleys, the third in my Ambeth series, and A Thousand Rooms, a standalone novel. I was amazed by the support of the blogging community, who shared, commented and reblogged, helping me to reach an even larger audience. Thank you so much!

In June I attended the second annual Bloggers Bash in London. I’d attended the original Bash in 2015, where we’d all bonded over lunch in Pizza Express before heading to a local pub. This year we had a room to ourselves in (another) rather nice pub, more than double the number of attendees than the previous year, and the charming Luca from WordPress giving a talk about blogging. I reconnected with old blogging friends and met new blogging friends, as well as being nominated for an award. (I didn’t win, but it was awesome just to be nominated!) Here’s to the the 2017 Bash – can’t wait!

In September I spent a magical weekend in the hills with Sue from The Daily Echo, then November saw an evening of laughter, magic and writing talk with the fabulous Suzie from Suzie Speaks, Lucy from Blondewritemore and Sacha Black. To say that blogging has changed my life would not be an exaggeration – I’ve made some truly wonderful friends and really enjoy being part of such a wonderful online community.

So, as the year winds to a close, here are the ten posts that seemed to resonate most with readers:

Memory Box – I wrote this post way back in January, about a chance discovery during a new year house clean.

Stuck Writing Your Author Bio? Try The (Totally Not Serious) Author Bio Generator – Probably my most popular post of the year, I wrote this as a bit of a piss-take after reading several rather, shall we say, overwrought author bios. However, turns out the Author Bio Generator actually works! Try it and see…

Thinking Aloud – this post was a close second to being most popular, and was written as a response to the idea that, as artists, we should be happy to work for free to gain ‘exposure.’

Hills and Valleys – New Release – self-explanatory, really. However, a very popular post, for which I’m extremely grateful.

Old Meets New, With Bonus Orb – this is one of those posts that just keeps on going. I think I had someone like it just the other day. It was written after a trip to London with a friend, where we were struck by the juxtaposition of architecture in the oldest part of the city. More fun than it sounds, I promise!

What Happens Next? – This post was inspired by a comment Craig Boyack made on one of my Thursday Door posts. He started a story based on my photograph, I wrote a short response, he kept going, then we decided to open it up to everyone. The resulting story was published, in all its glory, in the follow-up post The Crypt – Completed.

Circles Beyond Time – Arrival. This was the first post in my series about a weekend away in the Peak District with the Silent Eye. It was an extraordinary weekend for many reasons…

When The Forest Calls – this was a rambling, stream-of-consciousness sort of post. I’d had a day of doing this and that, but was trying to decide what to write about. And the forest was calling…

Published! A Thousand Rooms – one of the most popular posts for the year, and I’m so grateful to everyone who shared it around.

Under The Moon – this was one of Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompts, and I wrote a piece of prose about a woman and her dream under a full moon. Or was it a dream…?

Wishing each and every one of you a healthy, happy and bright new year – may 2017 bring us all that we wish for! Looking forward to seeing you all in blogland and beyond…  xx


If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

 

 

Helping Hands

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It’s been a busy week. I’m finalising my structural edit on No Quarter before it goes to my editor, plus there’s the usual client work and house work, which hasn’t left me a lot of time to post. So today is a very quick post about the wonderful blog community I’m pleased to be part of. I think we are enormously fortunate as writers to have such a wide community of support available online. There are many blogs offering free information, reviews and feature spots invaluable to the starting out writer, plus plenty of friendly conversation. The other thing about being part of a community is that we can stand together against book piracy, trolling and the other negative aspects of being online. Kristen Lamb wrote an excellent recent post about bullies here. Since starting to blog I’ve made some wonderful connections and am looking forward to actually meeting some of my fellow bloggers at the First Annual Bloggers Bash, hosted by the intrepid Sacha Black.

Here are some blogs I’ve found incredibly helpful as I’ve navigated the self publishing process – big thank yous to each of them!

Nicholas Rossis

Nicholas is an award winning author who posts thoughtful articles on every aspect of publishing, from statistics to advertising to social media. He’s also a really nice guy who takes the time to respond to comments and offer generous encouragement 🙂

The Writer’s Path

Ryan offers a huge range of services for writers on his blog including The Writer’s Toolbox, his critique posts called Under the Microscope and also a growing list of bloggers who will review books, separated into genres – something I’ve found incredibly useful.

Chris The Story Reading Ape

What can I say about Chris? He regularly features independently published authors (including yours truly) as well as collating links from across the blogosphere to useful articles on every aspect of publishing. He’s also a published author, yet still finds the time to respond to comments – I don’t know how he does it.

Connie Flanagan

Connie is a self-professed bibliophile and passionate supporter of independent authors. Her site offers reviews, links and lots of helpful tips.

Chris McMullen

Chris’s blog is a goldmine of information covering just about every aspect of publishing. Well worth a visit.

Of course, these are just a few of the many wonderful people I’ve connected with in blogland – I hope to feature some more links soon.

And finally, I sent Oak and Mist to a reviewer, the lovely Meredith at Mezzalilys Teen Book Reviews. I would like to make it very clear that I sent her the book with the expectation only that a review would be written – the content and evaluation were entirely at Meredith’s discretion, as I believe in honest feedback. So, fingers crossed and a little nervous I posted her the book. A little while later she wrote her review – if you’re interested, please check it out here

Right, back to editing! 🙂