Happy New Year!

Let’s hope 2021 is a good one!

Happy New Year to you all!

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!

Mr & Mrs Gingerbread

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.

36 books read in 2021

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!

People’s Friend

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: christmaslovestorysubmissions@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk
by midnight on 14 February 2021.

Make sure you read all the rules carefully if you’re going to enter and good luck!

This entry was posted in Books, Competitions, Short Stories, The People's Friend. Bookmark the permalink.

87 Responses to Happy New Year!

  1. Kea says:

    A Better Year Ahead✨

  2. Clare Scanlan says:

    Happy New Year! x

  3. Ruelha says:

    Happie new year….goodbye 2020

  4. Ahhh, the gingerbread people are too cute! Thanks for sharing. Good luck with your writing in 2021.

  5. Sue says:

    Happy New Year. I always enjoy reading your blog. Good luck with your book!

  6. Helen Lowry says:

    Happy New Year! Good luck with the novel.

  7. Kirsten Barthy says:

    Happy New Year. The year I will finally start writing a book.

  8. Debbie Ellis says:

    Happy New Year and good luck with your novel.

  9. Sheena Batey says:

    Happy New Year to you and yours xx

  10. aminorkey says:

    Happy new year, Good luck with all your endeavours.

  11. Fiona says:

    Happy new year and all the best with the novel!

  12. Ian says:

    Happy New Year

  13. michelle turner says:

    Happy New Year!

  14. Alistair Richardson says:

    Happy New Year and congratulations on gaining an agent.

  15. Karen R says:

    Happy New Year and hoping for a better one for us all!

  16. Jo m welsh says:

    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.

  18. Margaret Clarkson says:

    Wishing you a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

  19. Kristyn Harris says:

    Happy New Year to you all!

  20. banksywrites says:

    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.

  21. Rachel says:

    Happy new year everybody and good luck with your book Helen.

  22. Helen says:

    Happy New Year! Here’s to a successful 2021.

  23. Angela Bridge says:

    Happy New Year. Thanks for all the blogs and inspiration. 😊

  24. Erica Hughes says:

    Happy New Year! Hoping for a better 2021 than 2020.

  25. Lisa Pond says:

    Happy New Year and good luck 🙂

  26. Angie McDonald says:

    Happy New Year! Have a fantastic start to January!


    A guid New year to ane an a

  28. Karel Wright says:

    Happy New Year. Thanks for the blog and inspiration it provides. Good luck with the novel.

  29. Keith Havers says:

    Happy New Year, Helen.

  30. Chris Andrews says:

    Blwyddyn Newydd Dda ps l live in Wales

  31. janine atkin says:

    Happy new year. I’ll not miss 2020!

  32. carol dodds says:

    Happy New Year and good luck with book

  33. Victoria Prince says:

    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

  34. I so hope 2021 brings you the book deal you so deserve then I can be REALLY REALLY jealous. Happy New Year!

  35. jbettany2013 says:

    Happy new year, Helen. Wishing you great success with your writing in 2021.

  36. Anthea Holloway says:

    Happy New Year, Helen. This sounds like a super book!

  37. Margaret Norton says:

    I keep trying to read more – maybe I should set myself a target on Goodreads too! Happy new year.

  38. Liz Brammall says:

    Happy New Year to you as well, I also said the same about books, but now have a Kindle!

  39. Joo Dee says:

    Happy New Year, thanks for the chance!!

  40. Marie Rungapadiachy says:

    Happy New Year. Best wishes for a better year.

  41. Vicki says:

    Happy New Year!

  42. Adrian Bold says:

    Happy New Year to you and everyone. Here’s hoping for a ‘smoother’ 2021.

  43. Malcolm Butterworth says:

    A very happy new year

  44. juliathorley says:

    Happy New Year – and good luck with your novel.

  45. jenrhymer says:

    Happy New Year 🙂 x

  46. Simon Collinge says:

    Thanks very much, Happy New Year!

  47. Mrs Theresa Thomas says:

    Hope you’ve had a great Christmas and Happy New Year

  48. supastar1501 says:

    Happy New Year! Who knew that zoom quizzes would make up a big part of our family catch ups for 2020!

  49. Joyce Willis says:

    A happy healthy new year

  50. Phil Read says:

    Happy New Year

  51. Lauren Abrokwah says:

    Wishing you, your family and everyone else a better year ahead.

  52. sheridarby says:

    Wishing you a very Happy New Year and lots of luck with the novel

  53. Aliza Catlin says:

    Happy New Year and good luck on your novel writing journey!

  54. Joanne Greer says:

    Wishing you a happy new year.

  55. Megan says:

    Happy New Year! x

  56. glossopswift says:

    Lovely idea to give the extra copy away. Happy New Year to you and everyone else x

  57. Rachel Colclough says:

    I have set myself challenge to read 25 books this year. Read 22 last year after setting target at 20. Happy New Year

  58. Michelle Peterson says:

    Happy New year – here’s to a better 2021

  59. Susie F says:

    Happy New Year and well done on beating your book target in 2020!

  60. jennifer cairns says:

    happy new 2021

  61. Sharon Boothroyd says:

    Happy New Year and good luck Helen (and everyone) with your writing in 2021!

  62. sandra strautnieks says:

    Sneaky creatures husbands 😉
    Best wishes for a better New Year!
    S 🙂

  63. Catherine Thomas says:

    Happy New Year Hope 2021 is a better one 🙂

  64. Kim m says:

    Happy New Year xxx

  65. Rachel Blythe says:

    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!

  66. Laura Wright says:

    Happy new year, thanks for the chance x

  67. Steve Golding says:

    ‘Happy New Year’ hope it pans out better than 2020.

  68. Eirin Thompson says:

    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!)

  69. Eirin Thompson says:

    Oops – I’ve made that read really confusingly – by ‘Yours’ I meant ‘Your name’, as opposed to Yours magazine (which I really like, too!)

  70. karen Houghton says:

    Happy New year

  71. Karen Stirling says:

    Wishing everyone a healthy and fulfilling 2021 😘

  72. Andrzej Szymanski says:

    All the best for 2021!

  73. Amy Stevens says:

    Happy new year!!!

  74. Alison Latham says:

    Happy New Year!!!

  75. MJ says:

    Happy New Year everyone. Stay safe!

  76. Kate Hogan says:

    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.

  77. Linda says:

    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!

  78. philippabowe says:

    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!

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