Seasons Greetings!

Today I had a Drambuie, some rum AND vodka all before 5pm #AdventCalendar

I’ve been busy ‘Christmass-ing’ over the past few weeks, as I’m sure most of you have, too.

Finally, my pre-festive get-togethers have finished (or been cancelled because we’re all trying to avoid the dreaded plague) and I’ve got time to write to you, my trusty followers (yes, I’ve been on the liquor chocs! Hic).

I have an added incentive to stay virus-free: my step-daughter is getting married on 29th December. Eek!

In the ‘old days’ of wedding planning, you worried about things like rain (or snow) on the Big Day, or whether Great Aunt Maud’s hearing aid would whine like a banshee in the middle of the vows. All seems so trivial now, doesn’t it, when there are bigger questions, such as: ‘Will the wedding actually go ahead? and ‘Will all the guests even be able to attend?’

Anyway, fingers crossed and all that! I will let you know how it goes.

42 books read so far this year


I have been reading a lot lately, mainly because I had 3 books to read for my book clubs this month.

I was disappointed, I must admit, when I went for my double-jab* (booster in one arm, flu’ jab in the other) and they only made us sit for FIVE minutes before chucking us out into the rain. I was banking on a good 15 minute ‘rest’ and I’d even taken my Kindle along. Everyone else seems to have had to wait for 15 minutes before being allowed to leave, so I definitely felt short-changed!

*yes, I was a brave little soldier, as I have ‘form’ when it comes to injections: I passed out at school when I had my TB jab and I’ve always been a bit queasy about stuff like that ever since.

Each year I set myself a target on Goodreads for ‘number of books to be read in the year’. This year it was 40, which I know is modest by some people’s standards, but I am pleased to report I DID it, with a couple of weeks of the year still to go. Little things, eh?

A Wartime Secret

Little update on progress with The Book. It’s now less than a month until the e-version will be released into the world (14th Jan, to be precise).

A couple of my friends have read it now (via NetGalley) and said nice things about it (they have to, really, don’t they?) and it’s the weirdest feeling. These characters, who’ve only ever lived in my head, are suddenly ‘real’ to other people and when they talk about them, it’s as though they’ve peeled back my skull and peered into my brain. That’s the only way I can describe it.

Apparently, the Amazon pre-orders have reached the dizzying heights of …50 copies! Which isn’t going to set the world alight, or allow me to retire any time soon, so I feel a little ‘plug’ coming on….

If you have a Kindle, do bear in mind that it’s just 99p to pre-order the e-book at the moment (it will be pinged onto your Kindle on 14th January) but that’s a special promo price and it will go up at some point. Just saying…!

And by the way, a little inside information about the book’s cover. When I first saw it, I loved it but I was worried about the coat that my heroine, Maggie, is wearing. It’s rather a snazzy coat, isn’t it (I wouldn’t mind one like that) but Maggie’s a working-class girl without much money and I thought it looked a bit too ‘good’. The battered suitcase is perfect but that coat…? Anyway, my publisher explained that, although they agreed with me in principle, they also wanted the cover to be bright and eye-catching, (to ‘pop’ as they say), hence the coat is a little smarter than my character Maggie might really own.

And yes, I was happy with that, because I reckon they know more than me about what makes a good cover.

Free Writing Competitions

Here’s a fun micro fiction competition from Scottish Booktrust, if you fancy flexing your writing muscles over Christmas:

Scottish Booktrust – c/d 25th Jan 2022

Write a story in 50 words about a starry night. It’s free to enter, you don’t have to be Scottish (!) and the prize in the adult category is a ‘Go Away I’m Writing’ mug.

The Spectator

And here are a couple of free-to-enter competitions from The Spectator magazine. They usually give cash prizes (£25 or £30-ish) to four or five winners for each of their competitions (and they publish them on-line so you don’t have to buy the magazine). Worth a go, perhaps, if you’re feeling inspired by either of the following, or you could just use them as prompts:

No. 3231: vindalism

You are invited to provide an example of pretentious wine-writing. Please email your entries of up to 150 words to by midday on 5 January.

No. 3232: have i got news for you

You are invited to retell a news story from the past year in sonnet form. Please email entries to by midday on 12 January.

That’s all from me, folks!

And in case I don’t post again before 25th, have a very Happy Christmas!

This entry was posted in Blogging, Books, Competitions, E publishing, Novels. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Seasons Greetings!

  1. Eirin Thompson says:

    Looking forward to reading ‘A Wartime Secret’ at the earliest opportunity, Helen. The cover looks fab. I hope you sell loads and get lots of great feedback. Warmest Christmas wishes to you, your loved ones and all those who read this blog. I hope we all find encouragement and excitement in our writing lives in 2022!

  2. Penny Alexander says:

    Me too, Helen! Thanks for your news, and a very happy and peaceful Christmas to you and everyone. Now off to order your book… cover looking good, I think.


    Funny, I also passed out when I had the TB jab but I think it was the test rather than the jab itself. Good luck with the book sales.

  4. Kate Hogan says:

    Thanks for all the good news and cheer you share, Helen. Will try and get my library to order your novel and order an copy soon. Wishing you a very happy, healthy and successful year. With all the very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to you and all your blog followers. Kate Hogan

    • Thanks Kate and sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. I’ve had my mum here for 4 days, so I’ve been a full time ‘hostess’ (Ok, slave) and just managed to get back to the computer now! Hope you had a good Christmas.

  5. Karel Wright says:

    Happy Christmas and hope you get to enjoy the wedding. Well done on the double jabs, I actually ran away from school to avoid my BIG injection. I have got braver since however.
    Looking forward to reading the book and I love the cover.

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