I meant to post before the end of the year but time got away with me, so here I am on a cold and rainy January 1st, feeling glad – as I’m sure you are too – that 2020 is over.
I haven’t made any resolutions, have you? But a friend of mine took a photo every day last year (her theme was ‘a thing of beauty’) which I think is rather a nice idea.
I probably won’t keep it up but I started today with this!Our village had a ‘Gingerbread Trail’ over Christmas, (lots of gingerbread men in windows) and this jolly life-sized pair are stationed outside the church. Made me smile, anyway.
On a positive note, one of the (small!) targets that I set myself for last year – and that I achieved – was to read 35 books (I actually managed 36. Yay!).
Interestingly, as many as TWENTY of these books were read for the two book clubs to which I now belong. My top two books of the year were:
Small Island by Andrea Levy. I’ve read it before, years ago but this was a book club choice, so I ‘had’ to re-read it and I honestly think it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Queenie – by Candice Carty-Williams, which I’ve spoken about already, here.
My new target, for 2021 (I set it on the Goodreads site) is 40.
Giveaway (NOW CLOSED!)
I issued strict instructions that no-one was to buy me a book for Christmas as I was feeling stressed by the size of my TBR pile.
However, my OH got round that by buying me two quiz books. Sneaky! And (shh, don’t tell him), I’ve got one of them already – ‘The Penguin Book Quiz’ so I’m offering it on here as a little giveaway.
Just write a little message (‘Happy New Year’ will do!) in the comments by Monday 4th January at 5pm and I’ll put all the names in a hat and pick someone out. Please note, this giveaway is now closed and I’ll be choosing a winner later this evening – 4th Jan – so please don’t enter if you’re reading this after 5pm on 4th Jan!
I have a short story in the current People’s Friend Special and I’m feeling a little poignant about it because I reckon it will be one of the last short stories I have published.
This year my aspirations to write a novel have had a boost, as you’ll know if you’ve been following the blog. I’ve got an agent – someone (amazingly) who seems to believe in the story I’m trying to get down – and in my writing. I’m very lucky and grateful for that but there’s lots of hard work ahead and I just don’t have the time – or space in my little head – to write short stories as well as something longer (hats off to those who can), so something’s got to give.
Christmas Love Story Competition: c/d 14th Feb 2021
Here’s a great opportunity from Penguin Michael Joseph for unpublished would-be novelists, living in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. They want to publish a festive love story, which will be published in paperback and e-book in time for Christmas 2022.
In the first instance you just have to send your Christmas Love Story pitch, which should be no longer than 200 words, plus 1,000 words of your manuscript and entries should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
by midnight on 14 February 2021.
Make sure you read all the rules carefully if you’re going to enter and good luck!
A Better Year Ahead✨
A truly Happy New Year to everyone and better times to come.
Happy New Year! x
Happie new year….goodbye 2020
Ahhh, the gingerbread people are too cute! Thanks for sharing. Good luck with your writing in 2021.
Happy New Year. I always enjoy reading your blog. Good luck with your book!
Happy New Year! Good luck with the novel.
Happy New Year. The year I will finally start writing a book.
Happy New Year and good luck with your novel.
Happy New Year to you and yours xx
Happy new year, Good luck with all your endeavours.
Happy new year and all the best with the novel!
Happy New Year
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year.
Happy New Year and congratulations on gaining an agent.
Happy New Year and hoping for a better one for us all!
Happy new year and good luck with catching up on the TBR pile
Happy New Year and hoping you make lots of progress on your novel.
Wishing you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.
Happy New Year to you all!
Happy New Year, Helen. Loved your story in People’s Friend, as you know 😉 Same thing happened with my OH buying me a book I already had — Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. He was so excited about having bought me the ‘perfect present’, even paid extra to have next day delivery. Heartbroken when he found out I had a copy on my bookshelf. I kept both. All the best for 2021 and good luck with your novel. Can’t wait to read it!
Aw, what a shame (about the book and him being so excited). I actually think the Stephen King book is so good that you could (and probably should!) have 2 copies of it, so I don’t blame you for keeping it. All the best to you for 2021 too.
Happy new year everybody and good luck with your book Helen.
Happy New Year! Here’s to a successful 2021.
Happy New Year. Thanks for all the blogs and inspiration. 😊
Happy New Year! Hoping for a better 2021 than 2020.
Happy New Year and good luck 🙂
Happy New Year! Have a fantastic start to January!
A guid New year to ane an a
Happy New Year. Thanks for the blog and inspiration it provides. Good luck with the novel.
Happy New Year, Helen.
Blwyddyn Newydd Dda ps l live in Wales
Happy new year. I’ll not miss 2020!
Happy New Year and good luck with book
Ha, love your husband’s thinking! (I am also a massive fan of a quiz book). Happy New Year – I’m am entering it with cautious optimism
I so hope 2021 brings you the book deal you so deserve then I can be REALLY REALLY jealous. Happy New Year!
Happy new year, Helen. Wishing you great success with your writing in 2021.
Happy New Year, Helen. This sounds like a super book!
I keep trying to read more – maybe I should set myself a target on Goodreads too! Happy new year.
Happy New Year to you as well, I also said the same about books, but now have a Kindle!
Happy New Year, thanks for the chance!!
Happy New Year. Best wishes for a better year.
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year to you and everyone. Here’s hoping for a ‘smoother’ 2021.
A very happy new year
Happy New Year – and good luck with your novel.
Happy New Year 🙂 x
Thanks very much, Happy New Year!
Hope you’ve had a great Christmas and Happy New Year
Happy New Year! Who knew that zoom quizzes would make up a big part of our family catch ups for 2020!
A happy healthy new year
Happy New Year
Wishing you, your family and everyone else a better year ahead.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year and lots of luck with the novel
Happy New Year and good luck on your novel writing journey!
Wishing you a happy new year.
Happy New Year! x
Lovely idea to give the extra copy away. Happy New Year to you and everyone else x
I have set myself challenge to read 25 books this year. Read 22 last year after setting target at 20. Happy New Year
Happy New year – here’s to a better 2021
Happy New Year
Happy New Year and well done on beating your book target in 2020!
happy new 2021
Happy New Year and good luck Helen (and everyone) with your writing in 2021!
Sneaky creatures husbands 😉
Best wishes for a better New Year!
Happy New Year Hope 2021 is a better one 🙂
Happy New Year xxx
This is the first visit to your blog – congratulations on finding an agent, and happy new year to you. I too love Small Island (…and The Long Song is great too) and there’s a very interesting ‘Imagine’ interview with Andrea Levy if you get the time to find it on IPlayer (possibly). I also love a quiz!
Thanks Rachel. I did listen to a very interesting interview with Andrea Levy as part of the BBC World Book Club – which is here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3csyx68 Thanks for the tip about the Imagine one. I will try to find it when I get a moment!
Happy new year, thanks for the chance x
‘Happy New Year’ hope it pans out better than 2020.
Helen, I will miss your warm and thoughtful short stories. Yours was the first name which really jumped out when I began reading women’s fiction magazines with a view to submitting, a few years ago. I believe you had THREE stories in my first copy of Fiction Feast, one of them being ‘Cake Baby’, and I was suitably impressed. Perhaps you will think of writing some shorter pieces for a change of rhythm between longer works? In any case, a very happy New Year to you and all your correspondents.
Aw, Eirin thank you, that’s very kind (I often see your name in the womags now!). That was the one and only time I ever had 3 stories in a single issue of TABFF, by the way! I hope I can carry on writing shorter pieces in some way but I’ll have to get myself VERY organised! (and ahem, that’s very unlikely!)
Oops – I’ve made that read really confusingly – by ‘Yours’ I meant ‘Your name’, as opposed to Yours magazine (which I really like, too!)
Happy New year
Wishing everyone a healthy and fulfilling 2021 😘
All the best for 2021!
Happy new year!!!
Happy New Year!!!
Happy New Year everyone. Stay safe!
Wishing you good health, happiness, and creative inspiration in the New Year, Helen. Good luck with the novel. Wishing all who visit here a great New Year, too! Good wishes. Kate Hogan.
Thanks Kate and wishing the same to you. x
Happy New Year and good luck with your book and securing an agent. As you say, lots of hard work ahead of you but just think of the rewards. Love the gingerbread trail. We used to have a scarecrow trail in our village in the summer and I was amazed at how creative some people were. Nice to have something lovely to look at!
Thanks Linda. Happy New Year to you too.
A very happy new year to you Helen, full of creativity and joy! I’m sure it will be a productive and exciting one with your novel.
My goals for 2021: getting the anthology of flash fiction by women writers that I’m putting together done and dusted, then a good first draft of a flash novel (I’m on a 3-month mastermind course starting next month!) plus the final edit of the novel that’s been going for far too long…plenty to keep me busy!
Thank you for your lovely blog and the regular supply of good cheer, enthusiasm, news and advice. 😀
Thanks for your kind words, Philippa! Wow, you’re going to be busy! But it’s good to be busy, isn’t it, especially in … cue the cliche.. ‘these strange times’! Good luck with it all and keep us posted!