So this year,2018, I thought I would cut back on all of the bookish challenges I normally set myself and do things a little differently by setting myself some blogging, reading, writing and personal goals.
I want to be able to look back on this post at the end of 2018 and think do you know what I achieved all of what I set out to do.
I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself but these are the things I really want to focus on for 2018.
So I considered not setting myself a Goodreads Challenge this year, but after some thought I decided to set it at 30 books and see how I go. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself and want to enjoy reading more in 2018 to try some different genres. In other words I’m not going to worry too much about my “number” on Goodreads and enjoy what I do read.
Make a pile of the books I’ve been lucky enough to receive from publishers and authors into the relevant months they are due for release and read what I fancy from that pile. If I don’t get to all of them then that’s fine. I can the re-assess the pile at the end of the month.
I would like to read more classics. I seem to say this every year and I really want to say I will read one once a month, but I feel the pressure of that will make me not do it. So I am leaving this open to reading at least a couple of classics this year.
Something that I really want to get back into monthly is reading a Point Horror Book for #PointHorrorBookClub. The nostalgia alone will make this goal easy to maintain.
I feel sometimes I get wrapped up in all the new releases of the year and neglect some of the older books that came before them so I want to at least read one non 2018 book a month from my TBR pile or library.
Carry on buddy reading with the lovely Amy – @YAUndermyskin
Continue to support as many authors, bloggers and publishers on my blog as possible. I really do love it.
Review a book after reading it!
Continue to share as many fab tweets, reviews, blog posts of fab books and more by fab bloggers.
Comment on as many peoples fab blog posts as possible.
Put the British Books Challenge up every month on time! And host our author and debut of the month on the blog.
Don’t be afraid to write some more personal posts that may or may not be book related.
Use Instagram and Instagram Stories more for hauls and pictures of books I have received/reading/excited for etc.
Reignite #PointHorrorBookClub monthly and on the 13th of every month. I enjoy doing it and have missed it so I really can’t wait.
Join in with fab chats like #UKYAChat and #SundayYA as much as possible
Continue with my current WIP
Write something (not blogging wise) at least 2 – 3 times a week and remember that even 20 minutes is better than nothing.
Work on something exciting with Amy @YAUndermyskin
Show people I trust my writing – be brave!
In 2017 I lost 7 Stone 2lb and believe me when I say I am still quite over weight. I find it hard talking about loosing weight as its such a personal and sensitive subject to me, but I want to maintain being healthy and lose some more weight. Ideally I would like to reach a 10 Stone total weight loss and then reassess where I am at.
Continue walking as much as possible or exercise 2 – 3 times a week.
Be brave and start going swimming.
Do another charity walk
Continue to remember to “be a little kinder than you have to” – life is to short not to be
Try not to dwell too much on things I have no control over and remember to put myself first sometimes.
Remember to be proud of myself. I do not do this often enough!
Spend more time with my gorgeous family and enjoy more family time – life is too short!
There you have it….my goals written down in actual writing…here to reflecting back at the end of 2018 and I may pop back every month to refocus and remind myself.
Today I have a rather honest post and, if I’m completely truthful, I am quite embarrassed about the subject matter, but I really wanted to share this not only for myself, but in case it helps others who are maybe experiencing the same issues or feelings in any way.
So here goes…..
According to my Goodreads account which I started the back end of 2014 I read….
63 books in 2015
37 books in 2016
I openly admitted that I was disappointed in my reading last year in 2016. Although by my own admission I had not kept track properly of everything I read so at the start of this year, 2017, I was all set and raring to go! Books in order on my shelves. Exciting proof copies ready to be read. Debut authors to discover along the way with firm favourite authors with exciting books coming out that I simply had to get me hands on.
2017 was going to be my best reading year yet!
And then I caught it! That rare thing that seems to happen every now and again. Only this has stuck with me nearly all year…..
Its November 2017 and so far this year I have read a grand total of…..
Wait for it……
Yes that’s right! 8!
*scoffs at my measly 8*
*hides in complete embarrassment*
Recently I’ve been looking at this evil number 8 and reflecting on why this has exactly happened. I’ve been busy in my personal life with work, family and fitness more this year and have had my fair few reading slumps where the last thing I wanted to do was pick up a book, but I hit the nail on the head whilst talking to a friend this week.
I have a case of Pick-Up-A-Book-Read-At-Least-Half-And-Then-Put-It-Down-I-Tus or as it is more commonly known the actual inability to finish an actual book!
*shrieks in horror*
Without realising it and whilst I have been punishing myself for my number 8 I have been starting books and not actually finishing them. There on my shelf were gorgeous books full of curious worlds with brightly coloured decorated book marks sticking out of the top of them. They were literally sitting there waiting to welcome me back into their pages where I had left characters in the midst of an adventure, running away from danger, falling in love or even going through their own trials and tribulations. I added how many of these I could find scattered around my bedroom and office…..29!
29 books that I have actually started reading and then never went back to. Not because the books were bad or awful, but because I appear to be unable to finish an actual book!
For someone who normally has a one book at a time rule this is just shocking!
What am I even doing?!
Why has this happened?!
Who even am I?
I’m such a blogging let down!
All of these questions have been running around my mind more than once or twice this year and causing me to retreat further and further away from books even though I know they give me such solace and love in their individual ways.
So what on earth happened? It could be the distraction of shiny new books in my possession or the fact that things have been busy or do I really have some underliying issue with actually finishing a book. It could be a number of these things or, as I’ve come to realise, a combination of all of the above. For the past few weeks more than ever I’ve been beating myself up about just that, my inability to actually pick something up and actually finish it. And thinking about my number 8 has just made it all worse in my head. I have been beating myself up about it and in turn added to my list of reasons for all of this. Pressure is never a good thing really is it?
I sat down to write this as a kind of talking to myself to get it out of my system kind of post to help with the fact that I feel so ashamed of everything to do with my reading this year, but whilst writing this I realised that 8 and 29 are just a number. It’s as simple as that. It does not take away the fact that I have supported and showcased amazing authors and books on my blog or the fact that those 8 books I have read have been great books that I have enjoyed from page to page. I’m telling myself whilst typing this that it’s actually okay. It’s okay to have had a bad reading year and it’s okay to be able to put a book down and come back to it another time when the timing is better or you’re not so tired and just want to binge watch Stranger Things in your PJ’s.
It’s okay to still be passionate about something and not feel like a complete failure because of your inability to actually finish a book for example! Those books will still be there with their stories and glorious worlds and unforgettable characters in the future.
So I am taking a big deep breath and starting a new page where a number is just a number and a good book can be the absolute best cure. But most of all I am saying that it’s okay to have not read as many books as everyone else or that I am going to completely fail my Goodreads challenge this year. Sometimes it’s the little things that count even if that’s a little number.
So to me when I am reading this back or to anyone that is feeling the same as me this year or any other year in the years to come…..it’s okay. Take your time. Enjoy new things. Take the pressure off a little. But most of all don’t worry about your number or how little you feel you are reading or doing. Even a couple of pages a night is better than nothing at all, but if that’s not even possible then that’s totally fine too. You are amazing and totally not defined by the number of books you read every year. Characters and worlds will always be waiting with open arms whenever you are ready.
On the 28/01/2016 I had the HUGE honour of being asked to take part in the always fab #UKMGChat on twitter!
I was over the moon when the lovely Lorraine Gregory and Miriam Craig organisers of #UKMGChat asked me to be part of the chat where they would fire various questions at me and two other bloggers the lovely @bookloverJo and @BookZone all about blogging.
In fact I felt completely honoured!
It was such a fab chat! Very manic and sometimes hard to keep up with all the questions but absolutely brilliant. I loved how Miriam and Lorraine encouraged other bloggers to get involved and share their opinions too.
There was over 700 tweets sent throughout the chat! I had the crazy idea to try and storify the chat so people could refer back to it or if you missed it have a little read through.
With 700 tweets to go through and all not necessarily in order with the questions asked etc it’s taken me a while to filter through them and move them around (a lot) to try and give a good over view of the chat.
It may not be perfect but here goes…..
Another huge big thank you to the lovely Lorraine Gregory and Miriam Craig for having me and asking me to take part.
And also a huge thank you to everyone who took part in the chat and asked and answered such brilliant questions!
I whole heartedly LOVE the book blogging community and this is exactly why!
As mentioned in my UKYABA Blogging Workshop write up here I gave out goodie bags to those that attended the blogging for beginners workshop.
In these bags I included a How I Construct A Review guide and the feedback has been really nice as people found it quite useful. Therefore I thought I would share it on my blog.
These are just some ideas I wrote down when I started blogging which I refer to and look at when I am constructing a review which give me things to think about and include in my reviews. It is important to bear in mind that everyone is different and has their own ways of constructing a review so this is by no means a how to more of a this is what I refer to when I construct my reviews in the hope is may help others.
There are many different ways to write a review of a book.
It normally takes a few attempts to find your voice and natural flow when it comes to a review. I feel it is important to be yourself and that voice will come naturally.
It sometimes takes me a while to write a review of a book. Normally 2 – 3 hours per review dependant upon how much I have to say about the book. But sometimes it’s thinking that takes the time. I sometimes ponder how best to word something or express a feeling or emotion and many a time I think my review sounds terrible. Sometimes I even type it walk away and when I go back to it it actually sounds and reads better than I originally thought!
Whilst writing a review I try and consider the following points to help be construct the review which I thought I would share with you.
I always consider these points even when I may not have enjoyed a book so much as I believe being constructive about a book that wasn’t for me is essential rather than being completely negative.
This is not saying that this is the definitive way of writing a review. You should write a review how it best suits yourself, your blog and your writing style and voice. These are just some things I myself consider along the review writing way that may be useful
What was the story about?
Who were the main characters?
Written from who’s perspective / point of view?
Were the characters credible?
What did the main character do in the story?
Did the main character run into any problems?
Who was your favourite character and why?
Could you relate to any of the characters in the book?
Have you ever done of felt some of the things the characters did?
Did you like the book?
What impression did it leave on you?
What was your favourite part of the book?
Do you have a least favourite part of the book?
If you could change something what would it be?
Would you recommend this book to another person?
What type of person would like the book?
Rating (if you use a rating system on your blog)
Whilst reading a book for review or that I know I am going to review on my blog I write notes in a notebook or sometimes in the notes section on my phone about thoughts, feelings, favourite parts and quotes etc just so that when I begin to write my review I have some prompts to remind me of how I felt and what I liked. These can then be expanded on. Some bloggers use sticky book markers too to mark key pages to go back to.
So this is how I try and structure my reviews on my blog. I don’t always follow it to the letter, but I use it to get my brain in gear and get the thoughts flowing.
Check out my reviews page to see how I use these ideas in actual reviews – here
How do you construct your reviews? I would love to hear from you!
*Blows off cobwebs and curses my was broken now fixed laptop*
Back in July 2015 I was lucky enough to have taken part in a blogging workshop at YALC!
This was thanks to the UKYABA where I won an award for Champion Newcomer back in March 2015! It was an unexpected, nerve wracking, lovely added bonus to winning the award and an opportunity and experience that I feel so honoured and thankful to the UKYABA and YALC for.
You can find out more about when I found out about the Blogging Panels at YALC here
You can also find out about the UKYABA awards and why I love UKYA here and also find out what we got up to at the UKYABA awards night here
Blogging 101 (Blogging for Beginners) Workshop
So the panel I was on was called Blogging 101 (Blogging for Beginners) Workshop and I was with the fabulous Andrew ( @PewterWolf13 ) and lovely Laura ( @SisterSpooky ) and chaired by the brilliant Andy Robb !
The scene was set and we all wondered how one earth all these seats would be filled! I mean who would want to come and see us yapping on about blogging?!
I mean look how terrified we were!
But people did come! I know! How did that happen?! It was so wonderful to see all these people enthusiastic about blogging and books if I wasn’t so nervous I think I would have shed tears of happiness (okay so this may have happened afterwards)!
My lovely husband filmed the workshop! There was quite a bit of back ground noise so the quality of the video is not the best, but it gives any one who could not attend a chance to see what was discussed. I have not edited the video so it is the full 45 minutes long.
I present to you the Blogging 101 (Blogging for Beginners) Workshop!
At the end of the workshop I gave out some goodie bags which I put together specifically for the workshop. I popped books, bookish swag, copies of reviews and a mini review guide (which I will pop up on my blog soon) into the bags.
A huge thank you to Jessie at Stripes Publishing and Jazz at Chicken House for providing me with some swag to pop in the bags and an even bigger huge thank you to the lovely Maggie at Egmont for offering and providing me with two of my favourite books of 2015, Seed and The It Girl to pop into the bags also. I am so so thankful for all of your kindness and generosity xx
Also huge thank you to my husband and son, Corey who helped carry 80 books and swag across London and helped me pop the bags together in the Green Room at YALC as well as lovely Lucy Saxons lovely Mom who helped us pop the items in the bags!
I stayed to watch this panel and take some pictures! It was a brilliant workshop full of advise and again it was wonderful to see so many people come to the workshop all interested in blogging and books!
Again my lovely husband filmed the workshop (I took over for a bit at the start)! There was quite a bit of back ground noise so the quality of the video is not the best, but it gives any one who could not attend a chance to see what was discussed. I have not edited the video so it is the full 45 minutes long.
I present to you the Taking your Blog to the Next Level Workshop
At the end of this workshop I had arranged with the other blogging workshop panellists to put together a little thank you to Andy Robb for all his hard work for the UKYABA and for providing us with support during the lead up to the workshops and always! He is a top man and one that I am very proud to have got know through my time blogging.
Love for the Blogging Workshops
It’s also been AMAZING to see the people who attended the workshops reaction and response on twitter! I’m sure I speak for us all when I say that this has been truly amazing and we are so so thankful to everyone for their support and kind words.
The UKYABA Blogging For Beginners Workshop was also featured on the Booktrust Website – check us out here !
I wrote about the Blogging Workshops and UKYABA prior to YALC here
Check out this fab article in the Guardian about taking your blog to the next level by @lucythereader – here
I also loved this blog post by panelist Viv about taking your blog to the next level that she wrote prior to the workshops here
Fab blogging workshop panelist @sisterspooky wrote a lovely post about her workshop experience here
We are here to help in anyway that we can so please do feel free to contact us at anytime 🙂
Before I go….
Before I go I just wanted to thank every one who came to either of the blogging workshops! It was amazing to see everyone there!
A huge thank you to Andy Robb, UKYABA and YALC for making this happen, supporting bloggers everywhere and giving me the some confidence in public speaking back!
Thank you to the publishers who helped me put together the goodie bags in a short amount of time and to Maggie at Egmont who attend the blogging for begginers workshop and live tweeted!
Thank you to my lovely husband for filming the workshops, Lisa over at @City_Of_Ya for taking lots of photos on my phone and also providing me with photos she had taken too.
Thanks to my workshop buddies Andrew and Laura who made the workshop so much fun and made me laugh so much and to Jim, Lucy and Viv for an inspiring, fun second panel.
Most of all thank you to the UKYA blogging community! I feel honoured everyday to have met and know such wonderful people. Sometimes I have to pinch myself! The bloggers, publicists, authors and friends I have made! You are all wonderful and I am so so proud and thankful to be a part of it!
I was honoured and lucky enough to win the Champion Newcomer Award at the UKYABA back in March! I still have to pinch myself when I see the glass award sitting on my shelf.
Driving along the M6 from work a couple of weeks ago, I hear my email tone on my phone ringing. Asking my lovely husband to check it for me all I heard was the words “Oh Wow! It’s from Andy Robb”. I immediately asked what the email was! Had Andy realised there was a mistake and wanted his award back? He He He 🙂 I quickly asked my husband read the email out to me!
Basically I had been asked by the lovely Andy Robb if I would like to take part in a blogging workshop chaired by himself on Sunday 19th July at…….
I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing (even now I am still in a state of shock) and as soon as I pulled up at home I read it with my own eyes and with a nervous butterfly feeling inside I replied YES please! I knew I needed to reply straight away as I knew the more I thought about it the more I would convince myself not to do it!
Even now whilst typing this or every time someone asks me about it I feel a little queasy, but I do believe in pushing myself out of my comfort zone so I am also happy and excited about the prospect and very thankful for the opportunity.
This is an unbelievable fantastic opportunity for not only myself and the other UKYABA winners, but for all bloggers out there! With thanks to the UKYABA and YALC it really feels that bloggers are getting some recognition and I am truly honoured to be asked to be part of this workshop.
I am so so proud of the blogging community and very proud and thankful to Andy Robb for creating and organising the UKYABA all with bloggers in mind and for bloggers to be recognised for everything they do.
If you are at YALC on Sunday 19th July do pop along and see us! We are all super friendly and would love to hear all of your blogging questions. If your new to blogging or want to start come and have a chat and we will all try and answer any questions you may have 🙂
Straight afterwards there is another workshop too!
To find out what we got up to at the blogging workshops click here
Again another huge huge thank you for asking me and making this happen to Andy Robb, UKYABA and YALC!
I really hope and look forward to seeing you all there! Do come and say hi and join in the fun 🙂
Are you coming to YALC this year? Will you be attending the blogging workshops? We would love to see you there! Leave a comment using the reply button above or why not tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !
In a room full of wine, nibbles, authors, publicists, bloggers, friends and family!
The first ever UKYA Blogger Awards 2015!
The dream child of super fabulous organiser of the awards, author and all round cool guy Andy Robb laid on a huge celebration to beat all celebrations! A celebration of bloggers! The 1st in its kind and here’s hoping for many more!
I couldn’t wait to attend the awards, not because I was up for an award, but to finally meet authors, publicists and other bloggers who I have been talking to for a while and had never met! I have to say I wasn’t disappointed!
So on the tube I got from my hotel dragging my husband and my son along for the ride to! My son was only interested in one thing….to support his Mom I hear you cry….well nope…..it was meeting The Dreamsnatcher author Abi Elphinstone! Bless Him!
The night was filled with laughter, hugs and chatting and upon arriving it was great to mingle with everyone……I spent most of the night going…..Oh hello I recognise you from twitter *hugs* or OMG ITS ACTUALLY YOU *hugs* quite a few times! 🙂
Then the awards presentation started! The awesome Andy Robb did a fab job of announcing the awards, the nominees and the presenters of the awards and everyone cheered for each other! So much love and support in one room! It was amazing!
I think even if you were not there the love could be felt all over twitter on the hashtag #ukyaba – everyone supporting everyone! One big loving community!
Okay *gulps* ….something awesome and I can honestly say unexpected may have happened!
I won the award in my category! Champion Newcomer 2015!
How the you know what did that happen?!
With my legs turning to jelly at the mention of Tales Of Yesterday the lovely Jessie from Stripes Publishing read out my blogs name as the winner!
I was in complete shock and started shaking immediately upon walking up to get my award. I even forgot to put my wine glass down! Classy eh?!
With dry mouth I was asked to make a speech! A speech? On the spot! With the randomness that comes out of my mouth! and with my broad brummie accent! Oh dear! This could have had disastrous consequences especially as wine was involved! But I kept it together (phew) and said a lot of sensible for me thank you’s !
As well as this wonderful trophy, that still makes my tummy flip every time I look at it, I won a fab £50 Waterstones Voucher from Stripes Publishing and an unbelievable prize of exclusive content on all of their books for a year! Wow! Speechless is the only word I can think of to describe my feelings on this as well as pure excitement!
After the award presentations were over we got to drink, mingle, congratulate people, hug and be merry! It was awesome!
(In July 2015 I was kindly asked due to winning this award to be a speaker on a Blogging For Beginners Workshop….at YALC! – find out what it’s all about here)
Also the #ukyaba hashtag trended on twitter for 3 hours!!! Wow!
And I wouldn’t be able to sleep properly if I didn’t put a photo montage together!
Don’t forget to check out the awards from a 10 year old view a bit further down too!
As I said in my speech on the night…thank you so much to everyone for their support since I started blogging in November 2014! Only 5 months ago! You are all bloomin fantastic each and every one of you. Bloggers, publicists, authors! You know who you all are! I cannot believe that my name was up on a list with bloggers I admire and am in awe of let alone winning a trophy! *wipes tears from eyes*
Thank you to the awesome blogging community for welcoming me with open arms and making me feel all warm inside – yes all of you! I have got to know a lot of you through twitter and have had the absolute honour in meeting some of you and you are all the most kindest, genuine, enthusiastic people I have ever met and I am honoured to know you all!
Thank you to all of the authors for writing such fab awesome books that I get to write my feelings and emotions that they stir up inside me down on my blog! Thank you all for being so supportive, awesome and approachable to talk to! #UKYAFOREVER!
Thank you to all the publicists for sending me awesome books to review! My postman’s back will never be the same….I think he hates me! 🙂
Thank you to my husband Kevin, who nowadays watches TV on his own and puts up with tripping over above book post when we come home from work. Thank you to my son Corey for loving books as much as I do and being a fab ten year old! And to my family and friends for the support and reading my blog posts! 🙂
A huge thank you to Stripes Publishing for my amazing prizes also! It literally has blown my tiny mind! Thank You!
I felt very emotional the next day after the event and was very said to leave London….that’s how special the night and the awards were to me….I will forever remember it!
Well done and thank you to Andy Robb for organising and the wonderful hosts Waterstones High Street Kensington! You put on one heck of a celebration!
Also a big thank you to all publicists involved for sponsoring the awards, presenters and for Curious Fox Books for sponsoring the drinks for the evening events…hic hic hic
*chinks glass at everyone*
My highlights of the night!
There were so many highlights but some of them made me chuckle my little socks off and smile a lot – here are a few 🙂
Serendipity Viv’s first words on winning her award for Champion of Content – “Oh Crap!”
Andy Robb’s pronunciation of Hachette! 🙂
My son, Corey’s little face looking at me when I won my award – it melted my heart!
But most of all the main highlight was the amount of love in the room for ALL bloggers! It was truly heart warming!
The UKYA Blogger Awards from the view of a 10 Year Old!
As you may be aware my 10 year old son attended the awards with me! Now rather unexpectedly he decided to record his first ever video for Tales Of Yesterday and record nearly all of the presentation and some of the evening! *gulps*
I have put the footage together as best as I can and I will now hand over to Corey…..please bear in mind that this was unexpected and the footage is rather shaky in places with some heads cut off too….but for his first ever video I thought he did fantastic!
I think he captured the night brilliantly and hopefully will remind everyone who was there what a fab night it was and anyone who wasn’t there…it will show you how much love for bloggers there was!