Right, this is going to be a bit of a sentimental, rambling post, for which I would apologise, but hey, it’s my blog, and I’ll witter on if I want to. It is just over a year since I started getting involved with the book blogging community. I’ve had this blog for a lot longer than that, but it was an intermittent, personal reading record that never got any views, and for long periods of time I did nothing at all with it. Last year, I decided to share it on my previously inactive Twitter account, and looking back, I am amazed and delighted by all the joyous things that have sprung from that spur of the moment decision.
I’ve always been a big reader, and it feeds into my writing, but there was a stretch when I didn’t read at all. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it coincided with having two babies in two years. Getting back into reading was a lovely feeling for me – it made me feel more like ‘Ellie’ again, and, even better, it made me want to write again. In 2019 I managed to complete a novel draft, and to read more books than I had done for a very long time. So last year, little knowing how much I would come to appreciate my new online community with all that 2020 had in store for us, I took the blog ‘public’, and, I guess, officially became a Book Blogger.
It is honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done. I feel as if I have found my tribe, my people – a massive group of avid readers who love books just as much as I do. It is quite wonderful. The support I have received has been amazing. I remember getting a message from the lovely Jodie, who blogs at Witty and Sarcastic Book Blog, suggesting I get in touch with Dave at The Write Reads and join the newbie book blogger group. Now I have a massive support group of wonderful bloggers, and I do readalongs every month with a bunch of them (currently reading Cemetery Boys, all the Poirots, and about to start a Lord of The Rings reread marathon.) I also got to know some very special women who have been an absolute lifeline for me, my gorgeous Squadpod bloggers. Their support has got me through the last year, and it has meant so much to me. The fact that I’ve never met any of these people in real life doesn’t change how much I value their friendship. Stop me before I start welling up.
And the books! I could not believe it the first time I was offered a review copy of a book – I didn’t know such things existed. I was happy to potter on writing reviews of books I had bought, not paying much attention to publication dates and so forth, but joining Book Twitter opened up some fantastic opportunities to read and review advanced copies of books that weren’t even out yet, and it blew my mind. It is an absolute privilege, one I will never take for granted, and it seems to me to be mostly a really lovely symbiotic relationship whereby readers get the joy of an early read, and authors/publishers get a bit of a boost. My husband was delighted at first as he thought this meant no more book buying – how wrong he was! If I like a proof, I’ll usually buy a finished copy to support the author (and always if it is one I have specifically requested) and of course, the recommendations of other bloggers are far too tempting! I have never owned as many unread books as I do at the moment – and sometimes it does make me feel a bit guilty – but I know I will get to them all. Eventually. I don’t request a lot of proofs, just ones I really can’t resist, but I do buy more books these days, and I’m also starting to get sent surprise books, which is so exciting and lovely.
I’ve been introduced to so many new authors, to wonderful indie publishers, to a whole group of fantastically supportive book lovers, and even if, from time to time, the nastier side of social media gives me a bit of a shock, I still generally find Book Twitter an absolutely joyous place to ‘be’. I’ve enjoyed dipping my toe into Bookstagram, too, and although I feel a bit silly stacking up books for arty snaps, I have to admit, I also find it pretty fun. (I still don’t entirely understand Instagram, though.)
Just a few of the highlights have been: discovering indie presses like Bluemoose Books and their wonderful authors (who have shown me such kindness); doing some fab blog tours with the lovely Emma at Damp Pebbles; being invited by Helen Cullen to take part in a Christmas reading of the first chapter of her book The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually; having a phone consultation with Louise Walters Books author Diana Cambridge and getting some brilliant advice for moving forward with my own novel; and recently, finally taking the leap to set up my own little writing feedback business, something I have wanted to do for a very long time.
I know this is a bit of a self-indulgent post, but at the risk of sounding like an Oscars acceptance speech, I really just wanted to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone. It has been a hell of year, for global and personal reasons, but the community and support I’ve found here has meant the world to me, and I can’t wait to see what the next year of sharing the book love will bring.