“The Time Has Come,” the Walrus said … @gilbster1000 @RNAtweets @NaNoWriMo #Blogtober18

of-dodos-karma-free-software-in-the-library-3-728Hello and welcome to the first day of October! Anyone who has read my blog religiously (probably no one, but one never knows) will recall that this is my favourite time of year. I just love autumn and everything that goes with it. It is also a time of year that feels like a new beginning for me. Odd, I know, when this is traditionally the time of year when things begin to die off but it you read my post Hello, Autumn from last year, it will make a lot more sense.

In the spirit of new starts and new adventures beginning in the autumn, I have a few new projects on the go. I have recently taken the big decision to change careers and I am embarking on some training to take my career in a different direction which will lead to more involvement in the publishing world, I hope. I am, with some sadness, leaving behind the world of travel, but only in a career sense, and have more trips planned, both actually and in my dreams, but more of that to come. I am also pushing on with my own writing plans, eagerly awaiting feedback on my manuscript from the Romantic Novelists’ Associations’ New Writers’ Scheme so I can improve it, whilst also prepping for starting work on my second novel for NaNoWriMo.

I also have some new plans for the blog. Some of you may have noticed that the format of the blog has changed slightly over the past week – that’s right, pay attention at the back there! – and I have some new categories set up. Truth be told, I have found myself a little jaded over the past few weeks. I made the rookie book blogger mistake back in the spring of getting over-excited and taking on way too many blog tours. This all came to a head in September, when I was just so over-extended that I found myself really not enjoying my book reviewing, or reading constantly to a deadline. I got to the point where I felt like I had nothing original or interesting to say about the books I was reading and I was boring myself, so heaven knows what I was doing to you lot! My blog stopped being fun, which is the really the whole the point of the thing. I was suffering from the dreaded blogger burnout. So, I have made a couple of big decisions regarding the blog which I hope will shake it up and make it fun for me again, which in turn I hope will make it more fun for you to read.

Books will still be at the heart of the blog, because that is why I set up the blog in the first place and they are fairly central to my life. Also, I just love talking about them with other book lovers and helping to support and promote all the great authors out there. However, I have decided to cut back on the number of blog tours I am doing, limit them to one, or at most two per week and be really choosy about which ones I join. (I can hear Rachel Gilbey laughing like a drain as she reads this, given how rubbish I am about turning down her tempting tours. Rachel. I’m serious. I really mean it this time, cross my heart and hope to die!). This will hopefully give me time to read some of the other books I have on my TBR which I have been dying to read but have had no time on my schedule to get round to.

Along with the books, I am going to write about some other topics that interest me. Travel is a big one, both in the UK and overseas, as that is something I just love to do. I’d like to share more about my own writing journey and how that is progressing, and I am sure bits of stuff about my family life might creep in. I’ve also decided that, as i approach my fiftieth birthday, I’d like to draw up a bucket list of things I’d like to do and, what better place to explore this and keep a record than here?

I’ve decided to kick the new look blog off by taking part in Blogtober, with a new post every day on a mix of the new topics, starting with this as number one. So, I hope you will come along with me on my new journey and pop back each day this month to see what is happening, and maybe link me in to your blogs if you are doing Blogtober too. Hopefully we can learn a bit more about each other, outside of a mutual love of books. Maybe you lovely folks might have some comments or suggestions on the things I plan to do that will help me along the way. Feel free to chip in any time, I love to hear from you all.

Happy Blogtober then, to all my lovely followers and thank you for supporting my little blog. I really do appreciate you taking time to visit my tiny corner of the internet and interacting with my inane ramblings and I hope you will like where it is going.

 

 

 

What is Blogtober? What to Expect and How to Take Part

Excited to be featuring on Hazel’s excellent blog on 21 October as part of her Blogtober programme. If you haven’t checked out the lovely Tea and Cake for the Soul before, go and have a look, it is one of my favourite blogs to follow.

Tea & Cake For The Soul

Blogtober? I had never heard of it before but then this is the first year that I’ve really delved deeper into what blogging entails. Read on to find out what Blogtober is,  what you can expect to read here on Tea and Cake for the Soul over the coming month, and how to take part if you are a blog reader or a blogger.

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Would you like a quiet walk around the farm with us? Let’s see what wildlife we can spot…

As a child of the countryside, I love this post by Viola Bleu

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How cute are these baby pine cones? (I’m assuming that’s what they are – maybe you’re a flora and fauna expert and can confirm!)

New growth is simply everywhere; spring time is so full of promise, growth, a future. It’s difficult not to be affected by that positivity 🌸

Of course, crops follow a growing season too and here is your Sainsbury’s loaf of bread in its most basic form; a field of winter milling wheat…..

… being watched over by Man of the Woods’ dog, ‘Rock’. This border terrier cross Lakeland can be simultaneously cute and a real sod. He has to stay on a lead because if he smells a rabbit, rat or hare, he’s off at very high speed with no return-radar until his need to chase has been fulfilled. That’s terriers for you 🙈

I was serious about the Sainsbury’s thing. The next time you…

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2018 – The Year of Writing (#amwriting)

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‘And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.’
– William Shakespeare (from A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

So, 2017 is over and it was a year of mixed results as far as my reading challenges went. I managed to read 101 books to beat my Goodreads Reading Challenge of 100 books last year, which was pleasing. However, as far as my self-imposed ban on book-buying went, I had slightly less success.

I was rock solid until the end of May, which was a huge achievement. However, in June I allowed myself a little loophole when I bid on some signed books in the Authors for Grenfell auction. Turns out this was a slippery slope. I managed to resist through July and August but then, in September, I went to the launch of Cathy Bramley’s new book and decided it would be rude not to buy a copy for signing, and that was that. The floodgates opened and I caved in and bought loads of books in the last third of the year, so my TBR is bigger than ever!

Still, I lasted longer than I, or anyone else who knows me, could have predicted. I also launched my blog and as a result got to meet and interact with lots of great new people, so it was a worthwhile experiment but one I won’t be repeating. I have a book-buying addiction and I have resigned myself to it gladly- after all, there are more harmful vices.

Despite my failure in last year’s challenge, I am keeping my blog alive and have set myself some new challenges for 2018. I have set my Goodreads Reading Challenge 2018 goal at 105 books, please link up with me using the button on the right to follow my progress. I have also joined a fabulous Facebook Book Club called The Fiction Cafe Book Club and will be taking part in their Reading Challenge for 2018, which is bi-weekly. First up we have to read a book with food on the cover so my first read for that will be Big Skye Littleton by Elisa Lorello. I will also be reading at least one of their monthly book choices, starting with The Surrogate by Louise Jensen, a fellow group member.

I have also set myself the individual challenge of reading one classic novel per month that I have never read before. I am going to try and tie this in with my other challenges if possible. The title for January is Howard’s End by E.M. Forster. I am not sure how I have managed to overlook this all these years, especially as I adore A Room with a View, so I am looking forward to reading it.

I am going to endeavour to be much better about reviewing all my reads this year, and be more active on my blog, so watch out for the reviews of these coming up. This is all part of my main resolution for the year, which is to prioritise my writing. The blog is a small part of this, but the bigger part is finishing the novel I have been promising myself that I will write for years.

On turning 45 last year, I realised it was now or never for my writing so I have taken certain steps towards making it happen. I started my novel for NaNoWriMo in November and, as part of that I was lucky enough to spend five days on a writing retreat with the author Veronica Henry. Not only did I get a lot of writing done, I got to pick the brains of one of my favourite authors, and made a great new friend in the process, so that was an amazing experience.

I did not reach 50,000 words in November but I do have the first third of my novel done and, in an effort to push my writing on, I applied for and managed to gain a place on the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme for this year. For those of you who haven’t heard of this great programme, you can find some information here. As a member of the New Writers’ Scheme, no only will I be able to attend the many fabulous events they hold throughout the year and get to meet other (proper) authors, agents and publishers, but I will also get an expert critique of my manuscript by a published author, in an attempt to get it into shape for publication. So, I now have a deadline. I need to have a full manuscript in the best shape possible ready to submit by 31 August at the latest. If that doesn’t motivate me, nothing will.

As well as the above, I will be attending an Arvon writing retreat in Shropshire courtesy of my generous and supportive partner, The Irishman. I have also joined a wonderful writers’ group online, who are full of amazing support, encouragement and advice. I feel like, in them, I have finally found my ‘tribe’ that I am always hearing so much about so, if I don’t get a novel written this year, it will be no one’s fault but my own. Whether or not it gets published will be a story for another time, but I am determined to finish the book at the very least.

So, a busy exciting year ahead and I look forward to sharing my progress with you all. What are your goals for 2018? I’d love to know.

HAPPY NEW YEAR & MAY 2018 BE A SUCCESS FOR ALL OF US!

 

Hello, Autumn! (@CathyBramley @wurdsmyth #TeamSparkly @veronica_henry)

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I love autumn, it is my absolute favourite season.

‘Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

This quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby always feels so relevant to me.

For me, this time of year always feel like the time most full of promise and potential, much more so than new year or spring. It is the time of the new school year – shiny new shoes and stiff uniform, new pencil cases and new friends. The beginning of my university life and leaving home, starting my first full-time job, qualifying as a solicitor. I got married in October, two of my three children were born at this time of year, I started my own business in September 2013….all of the big milestones of my life are indelibly connected with autumn.

I started this blog back in January to keep track of my pledge to buy no new books this year and I had no plan beyond writing for my own pleasure – kind of like an online diary – with no particular hope or expectation that anyone else would read it or that it would be any more than that. I haven’t done a huge amount with it, I haven’t got hundreds of followers, I don’t follow any of the blogging ‘rules’ or do any of the things that you are supposed to do (the older I get, the less I like being told what I ‘should’ be doing. With age come the realisation that individuality is a lot more fun than conformity!). I haven’t even done any of the things I thought I was going to do with it by way of regular posts and book reviews.

However, this blog and its related Twitter feed have, nevertheless, opened up a whole lovely, welcoming community of book bloggers and some really exciting opportunities that I never expected. I have been able to connect to some of my favourite authors and help to promote their books. I have even got some exciting meetings lined up with some over the next month. I am attending the launch of Cathy Bramley’s latest novel The Lemon Tree Cafe in Nottingham tonight, and having afternoon tea with Cathy and Miranda Dickinson next month, courtesy of the Authors for Grenfell auction. I am part of Miranda’s #Team Sparkly, currently guarding an exciting secret on her behalf, which we will be revealing on 7 September, so watch this space. I’ll also be meeting Veronica Henry in November, as part of a hugely exciting new project for me and I have big plans for 2018.

So, at the grand old age of 45, autumn still holds a lot of excitement and new opportunities. I am, once again, starting some new studies this September and looking forward to looking at some new career options. I’ve got exciting travels planned with my family, meeting some of my favourite authors, another secret assignment on the go, and who knows what else might happen. My blog has moved on from what I thought it might be, and I have had to bend the initial rules I set for myself in order to take advantage of some of the chances I have been offered, but that is what life is all about. This blog may not be what I had thought it was going be, but it has given me things I never expected and for that I am very grateful. I do intend to do more with it going forward, especially once we get past Christmas and I can but new books again but, if that doesn’t happen, c’est la vie. As Katherine Hepburn said, “If you follow all of the rules, you’ll miss all of the fun.”

So, here’s to a new ‘year’, I hope it is the start of exciting new times for you all.

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

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Well, this isn’t going very well so far, is it?!

By that I mean this blogging malarkey – which I just cannot seem to make time for or get into a rhythm with at all, but more on that later.

I bet some of you thought I meant that the goal I set for myself this year, which is the subject of this blog, wasn’t going well, didn’t you? The goal of not buying or borrowing any new books in 2017 and only reading from my TBR. Well no, that project is going surprisingly well, and no one is more amazed about that than I am, I can tell you. So far, so good. Despite many temptations, including a visit to The Book Loft in the German Village in Columbus, Ohio that has 32 ROOMS OF BOOKS*, I have stood firm, and have not bought, begged, borrowed or stolen any new books yet this year, and its now June! Big fist bumps to me, I don’t think anyone thought I would hold out this long, least of all me.

(*If anyone is ever in the vicinity of Columbus, Ohio, I highly recommend a visit to the charming German Village, which is a unique and beautiful neighbourhood and the fabulous The Book Loft, where any book lover could spend hours lost in a world of literature. And I mean literally lost, this place is a labyrinth. Walking out without a couple of new tomes was one of the hardest things I have ever done. My fellow traveller and blogger, Liz, is made of less stern stuff and succumbed to the lure of the amazing array on sale. What the hell, go to Ohio anyway, even if you don’t love books. It is a truly wonderful state with a raft of delights to tempt a person with any interests. Make sure you combine Columbus with a trip to the equally fascinating Cincinnati, and maybe pop over to Kentucky while you are down there. The American Midwest is a much over-looked travel destination that I would not hesitate to recommend, whilst wearing my travel agent hat. Contact me via my business page at Jaunt Travel if you would like to hear more.)

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Luckily, in this barren new-book wilderness, a small oasis appeared last month in the shimmering form of my birthday. You may recall from my initial post setting out the rules for my challenge, my nearest and dearest were to be allowed to gift me one book each as a token of their love and affection on my birthday (If you missed my original post, Here it is). I may have added one or two (or 30) much desired titles to my Amazon wish list to encourage this largesse, and those that know me best were duly generous. So I now have 8 shiny new books to gladden my deprived heart and strengthen my resolve for the second half of the year. The titles I received are pictured above and I must express my sincere gratitude to the kindly souls who bestowed them upon me. I particularly want to thank my step-daughters, Twin 1 & Twin 2 and the Tumbling Tornado for abandoning their usual joint present approach and buying my one each to maximise my book haul. I know, as all my children are avid readers, they feel my pain and wanted to ease it as much as possible and I am very grateful.

So, the next major hurdle to get over is sacrificing my annual ‘beach read’ book-buying session and selecting my lounger literature from the pile I already have. And given how unusually well this resolution is going, I have decided to make a few mid-year ones, first and foremost to get to grips with this whole regular blogging thing. However, I move in to the rest of the year with newly strengthened resolve and a belief that I might actually do this impossible thing – go a whole year without buying any new books. And if I can do that, what other impossible thing might I achieve?

2017 – The Year of Abstinence

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My name is Julie, I’m 44 and I am a book addict.

There, I’ve admitted it. Reading is my passion and I spend a lot of time doing it, and I own far, far too many books. So many in fact, that I am so far behind on my TBR (the number stands at 783 on Goodreads and counting) I fear I will never catch up. Book buying is a compulsion for me, you see. Nothing makes me happier than an hour spent browsing a good bookstore and buying a book. Problem is, I can never stop at just the one….

At the current time, I have 50 books stacked in two piles next to my bed. This pile never gets any smaller and has become such a permanent feature in our house that my 9-year-old daughter has christened it Mount Bookarus. Very apt, since the erosion of this edifice is every bit as slow as the erosion of the Himalayas themselves. In fact, towards the end of last year, it appeared that the pile had in fact been pushed up, due to some kind of literary tectonic event, and the top books of the stack are now in danger of taking my eye out if I turn over in my sleep too close to the edge of the bed.

(A small off-shoot of ‘seasonal reads’ appeared in November as the start of pile three, but these were pushed back during a concerted assault over the festive period.)

Mount Bookarus is the mere tip of the iceberg, however, if you will excuse the mixed geological metaphors. There are many, many, many more unread gems stuffed into every spare bit of space in my library. (I know, I am lucky enough to have a dedicated, proper library in my house. It was the one room I insisted on including when we built our house 11 years ago and it is my favourite. If you stick with me and behave, I will share some photos of it with you here soon and make you all green with envy!)

It is for this reason that I have started this blog. I have vowed that 2017 is the year I will make a proper dent in my TBR and, in order to achieve this goal, I have vowed to buy NO NEW BOOKS in 2017.

That’s right. No new books for a whole year. Nada. Zero. Not one single one.

As a self-professed compulsive book purchaser, this is going to a be a huge challenge. So, to keep me on the straight and narrow, I am making my intention public and am going to report honestly on here as to how I am getting on and I am hoping that my readers, should I be fortunate enough to get any, will hold me accountable.

The rules of the challenge are quite strict. No buying books, no borrowing books, no being given books for free. No downloading e-books, either free or paid for. I am going to allow my friends and family to buy me books as presents for my birthday in May (otherwise, what an earth are they going to get me?) and Christmas. After all, there has to be some relief on the horizon, doesn’t there? But there will be limit of one book per person. And that’s it.

So, 2017 will be a year of reading from the books I already own. I have set my Goodreads reading challenge for 2017 at 100 books, which is achievable, as I tend to read a couple of books a week anyway, depending on length of book and what else is going on in my life. I will be reviewing all the books I read on this blog. There may be other posts that creep in too, about the other minutiae of my life, family, travels and whatever else pops into my head, but it will mainly be book reviews.

I guess it will be a little different from other book blogs, because I will not be reviewing any of the new, hot titles – for this year at least – but maybe this is no bad thing. Different is good, and you may still find some gems in things that are not new. Vintage is in, right? Hopefully my blog will be on trend in that way. Let’s call it literary up-cycling. Dusting the cobwebs off those old but precious novels that are laying unloved and forgotten in the dingy recesses of my TBR, ready to be given new life.

We are 3 weeks in to the year and, so far, I have held firm but it will only get tougher from here. So I am hoping you will help me. Get behind me, support me, and don’t taunt me with all the fabulous new books I am missing out on. (I have already started a list – January 2018 could be an expensive month). Most of all, I hope you will enjoy my reviews, and maybe find something you might want to read, even though it is not shiny and new in the publishing world. First review to come on Monday.

Apologies in advance to my local branch of Waterstones – I fear your profits will take a severe dip this year.