The Year That Was…2022

Well, here we are, at journey’s end for 2022. This year has been full of valleys and peaks and ups and downs. Life has decided to throw a lot of shit our way the past 12 months, life’s challenges can make or break you and I think my partner and I have come out stronger and more positive than we maybe should have. But we have been together for over 20 years and if anything we have learned to weather storms together, be a team and face challenges head on.

Creatively this has been a whirlwind of a year for me. Early this year in May I decided to tiptoe into the world of book reviewing on Goodreads. Initially it was just to get back into writing again, something I hadn’t done for quite a number of years. I also started to interact with bloggers and reviewers on Twitter and discovered this incredible fantasy and sci-fi book community.

This year has also been a year of discovery in terms of the diversity of fantasy and sci-fi books out there, in particular, self published books and authors. Before this year I had never really delved into self published fantasy fiction. Not because I had any negative or denigrating views of that sector of publishing, it was just I hadn’t allowed myself to read out of my comfort zone. I hadn’t found an entry point or the means to discover more about it. That was until I ventured into the self published fantasy book community on Twitter and by extension, the Discord communities.

60% of my reads this year were self published fantasy or sci-fi and most of those reads garnered a four or five star rating. The diversity and scope of storytelling in self published fantasy is staggering. The quality or writing is second to none and, in many cases, better than some traditionally published books I have read. There was a taboo that once came with self-published SFF books, and in part, five or ten years ago, that taboo was warranted. The quality was sometimes shaky, the stories often derivative, but that view no longer holds. If you are reading this and haven’t ventured into reading self published books, let me assure you, a bright, diverse and exciting world awaits you.

Through this community I have the honour and privilege of being a judge with the awesome Before We Go team for SPFBO8, which is currently underway. There is no better platform for self published authors to put their books on. Even only getting through to the first round can give you the exposure and uplift needed to get your book out there. I read and reviewed John Palladino’s The Trials of Ashmount for the competition and even though it didn’t fully connect with me and I had to cut it, it has been a pleasure and a joy to see his book get the attention and sales it deserves. SPFBO is such a great opportunity for authors and bloggers alike.

I have met some awesome people along the way in my book journey and I want to highlight some here who have been integral to helping me grow my platform and encourage me to do what I do.

Firstly is my friend, and blog brother, Ben, who unfortunately had to step away from his channel and social media for personal reasons. He was, and still is, nothing but encouraging and supportive of my writing and reviewing. When I was starting out and getting to know everyone, he offered the best advice to me and I am eternally thankful for that.

Secondly, I want to talk about Beth Tabler, founder of Before We Go and editor of Grimdark Magazine. She is one of the most awesome people I have got to know in the book community. She took a chance on me and invited into the Before We Go team, where I now publish my reviews and blog posts, as well as on my website. She is a consummate angel on my shoulder, always encouraging, always telling me to keep doing what I am doing. You’re ace Beth, thank you.

Thirdly, I want to shout out to Chelsea, booktuber and reviewer. She runs a brilliant and chaotic YouTube channel that you can find here and is active on Twitter. She has been super supportive of me as content creator and we have become fast friends. She is such a giving person, always there for advice and encouragement and is a huge supporter of self published authors. It was a joy to collaborate with her this year on my podcast and in 2023 we will be doing a buddy read. She is always trying to drag me into the world of booktubing…more on that later!

I want to shout out to Peter, Rowena, Trudi, Jen and Vinjii for welcoming me so warmly into your D&D group this year. I have had many a Friday night of laughs and adventure and I am super looking forward to our ongoing escapades in 2023! Trudi and Jen are not only awesome people, but amazing fantasy authors, of whose books I have immensely enjoyed reading. If you haven’t read their books, you need to check them out!

I want to mention Jen again and also N. C. Koussis and offer them an apology. They very kindly gave me ARCs of their books and I was unable to get a review out in time due to life circumstances throwing a very unwanted curveball. I felt awful, but rest assured I loved reading your stories and cannot wait to see, and read, what you have to offer in 2023. You will definitely get a review and all my support!

2022 really has been an incredibly fulfilling year in terms of books and the writing community. Many good friendships have been kindled, I have evolved and improved on my writing, I have made connections and relationships with so many amazing authors and bloggers and I am reading more books than I ever used too. I truly appreciate all the support, advice and love the community has given and what really made my year, that brought a tear of joy to my eye, was a tweet by brilliant author P. L. Stuart. I shall leave you with it, as it truly made my year and made me reflect on how far I have come this year as a writer and reviewer.

Happy New Year everyone and may 2023 bring you all much joy, friendship, security, love and much reading!

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