The story continues…

Emerald and Lime | Eco-friendly stationery Hey there,

I hope you are well today and that you are enjoying your summer so far. 🙂

I’m just checking in quickly to let you know that I’m shifting the blog over to my website for Emerald and Lime. (It’s an SEO thing *snores* 😉 ). For us to keep in touch from now on, you’ll find me on Emerald and Lime instead of here.

Actually, the VERY best way for us to keep in touch would be if you sign up for Em and Lime updates. When I send these out, I tend to include, and link to, the blog, so it’s probably the easiest way not to miss anything. If you’d like to do that, you can pop over to Em and Lime here and I’d love to see you.

It’s not the end of this site, but it will be quiet for a while. Thank you for all your support, likes and comments over the past few years if I’m leaving you here, but I REALLY hope to see you over at Emerald and Lime so we can continue to chat about all things journaling, planning, stories and, of course, stationery!

Much love,

Elle xoxox

There’s a new post waiting for you on Emerald and Lime, so hop on over now!

Emerald and Lime | Eco-friendly stationery

A year of big changes: coping with overwhelm, anxiety and grief

Hey there,

Hope all is well with you today.

It’s a little over a year since I left my day job to concentrate full time on starting Emerald and Lime. For this and other reasons, I feel like it’s the right time to reflect on the good things that have happened over the past year, as well as the almighty bumps along the way.

This isn’t all about the business. It’s a personal story – sadly without a happy ending, but with another new beginning and that’s never a completely bad thing. 🙂

Business first, though.

I’d wanted to leave my day job for a long time, but it took years – firstly to figure out what I wanted to do and then to get my plans in place to be able to do it. For me, the main purpose of making such a big change was to live a more integrated life, working hard while having the flexibility to focus, as necessary, on my other responsibilities. With my parents getting older and my boys approaching important exam years, I finally committed to the idea of a future with more freedom to concentrate on everything important to me – looking after my family, building something worthwhile for my children and doing something I enjoyed at the same time.

Before I go any further, I should say that I’m 100% glad I made the leap. It was certainly the right decision for me, I love having my own business and I wish I’d made the change years ago.

But…

It has been the most emotionally difficult year I’ve ever experienced.

Getting Emerald and Lime off the ground was a gargantuan task, the steepest learning curve and a very nerve racking adventure. I firmly believe now that any anxieties, self-doubt or worries a person has will well and truly show themselves if they decide to start a business. On more than one occasion I’ve wanted to close Em and Lime’s doors (the first time being the day I opened them), but I kept going, and will continue to do so, because fundamentally it’s still been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I said that a big reason I started Em and Lime was to integrate working with my family responsibilities and the freedom to do this became so very much more important recently.

It’s now just over two months since we lost my dad. He died unexpectedly overnight in late February and I haven’t felt able to mention it online until now. We are working hard to get to grips with new routines and to reshape our lives with someone so pivotal missing.

Our wider family and friends were stunned but it is, of course, hardest of all for my mum who spent 60+ years of her life with him.

For my part, I’ve lost an adviser, my best banter-buddy and someone who meant the world to me. I’m still very up and down, but I reckon the only worthwhile way to look at it is that I’m lucky to have had him to lose.

We’re getting back on our feet (ish) but, unsurprisingly, it’s had a big impact on the way I’ll go forward from here, both generally and in my business. I’m going to make sure it does. It’s easy to become jaded and get lost in the day to day minutiae, whether it’s work or life in general,  but I reckon the only way to extract something positive from a sad life event is not to lose the clarity about what’s important that accompanies it.

In light of the whole year’s events, I’ve been thinking about what it would be a good idea for me to remember going into my second year of self-employment. These tips don’t just apply to business and I’ll be bearing in mind variations in other areas of my life too.

  1. Keep sight of the big picture

It’s so easy to get bogged down in some aspects of the day to day (did someone say Google Analytics? zzzzz) and there will always be something that knocks you off course but, if you keep reminding yourself why you started down a particular road, you’ll be able to keep a check on whether that reason is one that’s still important to you.

  1. Don’t let the path to the big picture overwhelm you.

Remember the big picture, but break down the steps to get there. Break them realllllly far down. At the moment I’m making monthly notes of small achievements because it would be too easy to dismiss them on the days when “build something worthwhile for the children” feels unattainable.

  1. Make peace with the fact that everything takes time and stick with it

You’d think I’d have known this already considering the length of time I’ve been writing to be published. I did know it really, but on a day-to-day basis it’s still frustrating. I have so many plans for Em and Lime, but only one pair of hands. Bummer. I’m working hard at focusing on one thing at a time, instead of trying to split my wee self between many different projects.

  1. Make positive changes

It won’t be a good day every single day, but unless overall you feel positive about the direction you’re going in, make a change. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, it just has to be a change for the better.

That sounds easier said than done.

It is, but what’s more important, really, is that it’s easier done than left undone.

  1. People are the most important thing

Not businesses, not getting published, not (*insert deep breath here*) notebooks.  😉

People.

Over the last few weeks, the number of people who have supported mum and me has been staggering. It’s humbling the care and concern that’s been shown for us and always a good thing to be reminded of the fundamental kindness of humans.

These are my reflections on a year of big changes. If you’re still with me, thank you so much for reading.

Onwards.

Elle xoxox

Happy Anniversary Tapestry!

Hey there,

Hope you are well today.

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I published Tapestry! It made it’s way into the world on 29 September 2015 and has been rolling about like a pea on the Amazon mountain ever since.

I’ve been thinking about how nervous I was last year at this time. I’ve been re-reading comments and reviews and I’m SO GRATEFUL for the kind words and support both Tapestry and I have received. Although I know I should have been more proactive on Tapestry’s behalf over the past 12 months, the experience of having it out in the world and how it’s been treated has heartened me and helped me with other ventures this year.

When I was having wobbles about launching my business, Emerald and Lime, opinions of Tapestry from both on and offline allowed me to believe I was capable of something worth doing. Thank you, therefore, to everyone who read, tweeted, commented, liked, reviewed, welcomed me to guest post on their blog, wrote to me and spoke to me about Tapestry. Y’all have made my year. 🙂

In my new efforts to be proactive in a marketing-y kind of way – please tell all your friends about Tapestry, a collection of twelve short stories about the complexities of life and love.

You can tell people you don’t like too, if you want to.

Oh, and it’s at the new price of 99p…

Hmm…

*pencils in to come up with new marketing strategy*

Anyway, THANK YOU again. Here’s to the next 12 months…

Much love,

Elle 🙂 xx

TAPESTRY_front150dpi copy Amazon and websitesIn hope, in pain,

we lose, we gain,

but always and forever

the human heart braves life

in light and in shade.

Tapestry. A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love. Available now.

Summer reading

Hey there,

Hope your day is going well so far.

I read a Book Riot post recently about creating your own summer reading syllabus. I usually have a rough idea which books I want to read next but recently, because I’ve been setting up the business, reading regrettably has taken a bit of a back seat. When I read the post, it reminded me that I would probably benefit from a bit of forward planning. And taking the whole summer as the timeframe allows for flexibility around everything else that’s going on.

As for many of us, there are a TON of books in my TBR pile, mainly fiction. The Book Riot post reminded me to think about the non-fiction books that I’ve been meaning to read, so I decided to build them into my list. This is what I’ve come up with:

Non- Fiction

Digital Photography for Dummies – Julie Adair King

I’ve had this book for a couple of years and have dipped in and out, but I’d like to make a concerted effort to understand my camera better. I’d like to be able to do my own product photos and generally keep a better pictorial record of our family life.

Mindfulness – Mark Williams and Danny Penman

Although practicing Mindfulness has been very popular for years now, it’s not something I’ve looked into before. When I wanted to find out more about it, my first reaction (obviously) was to buy a book. This too has been sitting on the shelf for a bit, so it’s on the list!

Mindfulness

A field guide to Fabric Design – Kim Kight

In the not too distant future, I would like to incorporate textiles into the business in addition to the stationery. Anything I can read to improve my skills in this area and I’m in!

Yes, please – Amy Poehler

I bought this after watching Parks and Recreation on Amazon Prime. The reason I haven’t read it yet is I feel the text is so blimmin’ small! If there’s one thing that will get my goat about a book, it’s when I find the text uncomfortably small to read. I’ll see how I get on, but I think it might be a struggle.

Fiction

The Little Flower Shop by the Sea – Ali McNamara

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before on the blog, but one career I’ve thought about pursuing a few times in my life is floristry. Any books about flower shops, therefore, are likely to be up my street, so I’m looking forward to reading this.

Us – David Nicholls

Like the rest of the world, I really enjoyed One Day so I have high hopes for Us. I know I’m very late to the party with this one, but hey ho.

What are your summer reading plans? I’d love to know, so please get in touch either here or on Twitter!

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Elle. 🙂 xx

TAPESTRY_front150dpi copy Amazon and websitesIn hope, in pain,

we lose, we gain,

but always and forever

the human heart braves life

in light and in shade.

Tapestry. A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love. Available now.

 

Who do you auto-buy?

Hey there,

Hope your day is going well so far.

This statement won’t come as a surprise to you – I buy a lot of books 🙂 .  Since I’m starting my own business and expect not to have an income for a while, I’m trying to rein it in a bit, but there are some people whose books I definitely don’t want to miss out on. I thought I’d let you know who I auto-buy when they bring out a new title. Although I do read the blurbs of their books, I wouldn’t need to before it goes in either my real or virtual basket.

The list below is in no particular order. I’m deliberately leaving out the writer buddies whom I feel I know. They are definitely among my favourites, but they know that already. 🙂

So here we go:

Jojo Moyes

I think the first Jojo Moyes book I read was The Last Letter from Your Lover which I enjoyed, but it was Me Before You that put her on my auto-buy list. I’m sure this is the same for a lot of people. I haven’t yet made my way through her backlist, but I will.

Miranda Dickenson

I read Miranda’s It Started with a Kiss first and then immediately picked up her first two books. She’s been an auto-buy ever since because her stories are so gentle and positive. It’s impossible not to feel uplifted and, due to the normal timings of her releases, it usually means that Christmas is just round the corner.

Jenny Colgan

Again I love the gentle and feel-good nature of Jenny’s books. The first one I read was Meet Me at the Cupcake Café. I think my favourites are the Rosie Hopkins series, although who wouldn’t love their own puffin after reading about Neil in the Beach Street Bakery books?

Kate Morton

If I remember correctly I think I found out about Kate Morton because The House at Riverton was a Richard and Judy pick. I love the settings of Kate’s books and they’re quite long – really books to get immersed in.

Katherine Webb

A TV book club recommendation, I first read The Legacy. I enjoy books set in two time periods and a considerable amount of secret uncovering never hurts! My favourite of Katherine’s so far is A Half Forgotten Song. It’s quite dark, about obsessive love, but it’s set in a couple of time periods with some good old secret uncovering, so what’s not to love.

Toni Jordan

It was while I was reading Addition that I decided, after many years of faffing about, that I was definitely going to write a book of my own, so it has a special place in my heart. There was nothing specific about the book itself that made me think that, I just enjoyed it and thought “I want to be able to do that.” Perhaps it was a timing thing, but it meant I immediately picked up Toni’s next book, Fall Girl, when it came out. It became, and remains, one of my favourite reads. In Fall Girl the main character, Della, is a professional con artist. I find that Toni Jordan’s storylines are a little bit different and this makes for a very entertaining read.

Emylia Hall

The Book of Summers, set in Hungary, was the first book of Emylia’s that I read. I read it not long after I’d been to Budapest, so I loved reading about a different Hungarian setting. My favourite, though, is A Heart Bent out of Shape, set in Lausanne. It’s a coming of age book about first love, growing up and the events that can shape a life.

Liane Moriarty

What I love about Liane Moriarty’s books is the way she observes and writes about ordinary lives and situations, proving that nothing is actually ordinary at all. It’s hard to pick a favourite but, if I had to go for one, it would be What Alice Forgot about a woman who hits her head and loses a decade of her life. Eep.

What do you think about this list of authors? Who do you auto-buy? Not that I need a bigger TBR pile, but I’d love to hear your recommendations!

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Elle. 🙂 xx

TAPESTRY_front150dpi copy Amazon and websitesIn hope, in pain,

we lose, we gain,

but always and forever

the human heart braves life

in light and in shade.

Tapestry. A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love. Available now.

Tapestry – promo follow up

Hey there,

Hope your day is going well so far. 🙂

A few weeks ago I did my first free promotion of Tapestry and was quite excited about it. I did it because I wanted to see what would happen, if anything, and I also wanted to do it to celebrate Mother’s day.

When I was little my mum said she wanted to have a book dedicated to her. (She also said wanted a trip on the Orient Express and a rose named after her. I know what you’re thinking – demanding much? 😉 ) Anyway, I never forgot about the book dedication and when I published Tapestry it was “For Mum”. It made sense, then, that my free promotion would be over Mother’s day weekend in the UK which, this year, was from 4-6 March.

I’d like to claim it was stellar planning and strategic marketing on my part that, as the promotion period began, two blogging colleagues posted guest posts I’d written for their blogs. It was, however, solely down to kind accommodation on the part of my blog hosts, Hayley and Elle. On 4 March I appeared on Rather too fond of Books talking about the books that have influenced my life and on Chick Lit Uncovered talking about patience, rejection and perseverance. These posts, as well as the one on my own blog, made for quite the advance on social media. (Sorry if my ugly mug appeared in your timelines more times than you could say, ‘Good grief not her again.’)

My hope from the promo period was that I would be able to spread the Tapestry word and hopefully get some more reviews. I feel the first part has happened (there were certainly many more downloads than any other three day period has seen!), I’ve had a couple more reviews and I guess time will tell if more will follow. I’ve not made any secret of the fact that I’ve found marketing Tapestry trickier than writing it and publishing it put together. In fact, the only thing it’s not been trickier than is finding out where the leak is in my tumble dryer…

The free period aside, though, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago some other guest posts and Q&As I’ve been involved in as part of Tapestry’s promo. I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of spreading the word because I’ve made connections with some really kind and generous people who are now definitely new online buddies. Any Tapestry downloads as a by-product are a bonus.

While we’re on the subject, I’ve put together a page of the guest posts. It’s called “out and about” and you can find it here.

Do you have any promo tips? If so,  I’d love to hear them so please get in touch either here or on twitter!

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Much love,

Elle. 🙂 xx

TAPESTRY_front150dpi copy Amazon and websitesIn hope, in pain,

we lose, we gain,

but always and forever

the human heart braves life

in light and in shade.

Tapestry. A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love. Available now.

 

 

More gadding about gabbing

Hey there,

Hope you’re well today.

I’ve been out and about again in the blogosphere visiting online buddies to talk about books, writing and Tapestry, my collection of short stories. There’s a wee roundup of the posts below. I love doing guest posts and Q&As, so I’m very grateful to all the lovely blog buddies who have hosted me over the past few weeks and months – thank you so much!

Lovely author Jennifer Joyce asked me a bit about Tapestry, the inspiration behind it and why I want to be a writer. If you’d like to know what I said, you can find out here.

I’ve been telling Sarah from By the letter Book Reviews all about my highs and lows of self-publishing. I’m happy to say that there haven’t really been any lows so far, but plenty of highs! You can read about them here.

I’ve been chatting to Hayley from Rather too Fond of Books about the books that have influenced my life. You can find out what I have to say about the Famous Five, the Abbey Girls series, A Woman of Substance, Fahrenheit 451 and Addition here.

And lovely Elle (nice name, don’t you think? 😉 ) from Chick Lit Uncovered listened to me rambling on about Patience, Rejection and Perseverance. If you’d like to hear all about me being patient, rejected and persevering, you can do so here!

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Elle 🙂 xx

TAPESTRY_front150dpi copy Amazon and websitesIn hope, in pain,

we lose, we gain,

but always and forever

the human heart braves life

in light and in shade.

Tapestry. A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love. Available now.

Reading habits

Hey there,

Hope your day is going well so far. I thought I’d do another tag post, this time about reading habits. Once again I first saw this on Portobellobookblog – Joanne takes part in good tags!

IMG_1681

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

No, not really, although on the settee in the living room, I suppose. I mainly read when I’m not at home, either on the bus or at lunchtime. Occasionally I snatch time in the evening, but not often.

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Bookmark. Random bits of paper would upset me.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop at the end of a chapter/a certain amount of pages? 

I try to stop at the end of a chapter but sometimes I have to stop wherever because it’s time to do something else (like get off the bus).

Do you eat or drink when reading?

Yes, if I’m at home or work. Not on the bus!

Multitasking: music or TV whilst reading?

No. I don’t mind it being on in the background, but it’s someone else’s doing, not mine.

One book at a time or several at once?

One at a time. Occasionally two, but one of them would then be non-fiction.

Read at home or everywhere?

More often outside than at home. I can’t read while walking down the street like some people manage to do, though.

Read aloud or silently in your head?

Silently.

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

Hmmm. I’d love to smugly say no, but occasionally I do have a quick look ahead. I always feel guilty, though.

Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

It doesn’t upset me if I have to break the spine of a book, but I don’t do it as a matter of course.

Do you write in books?

How dare you. 😉

If you join in the tag, please let me know so I can check out your reading habits!

Much love,

Elle. 🙂 xx

TAPESTRY_front150dpi copy Amazon and websitesIn hope, in pain,

we lose, we gain,

but always and forever

the human heart braves life

in light and in shade.

Tapestry. A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love. Available now.

 

Tapestry – what I’ve learned

Hey there,

Hope your day is going well so far.

As you may know if you’ve been around this blog for a wee while, a few months ago I published Tapestry, my first collection of short stories. I decided to take that leap because I wanted to experience the self-publishing process and I’m grateful that many of you came along for the ride. I’ve been reflecting on the experience and thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned.

  1. It’s fun to work with other people

Before publishing Tapestry, in my writing world I’d only ever worked by myself, but to get the stories ready to face the world I needed to have them professionally edited and to have a cover designed. Working with editor John Hudspith and cover designer Berni Stevens were two of my favourite parts of the process. You can find out more about what I had to say about this here.

  1. People can be overwhelmingly encouraging and supportive

Both online and in real life, people have been so kind about Tapestry. So far it’s had 5 star reviews, and I’ve had lovely texts and emails too. Fundamentally people want to be kind and generous and it’s humbling to get a direct reminder of this.

  1. Formatting is not as difficult as you think

Not when you have Self-Printed – the sane person’s guide to self-publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard by your side it’s not. I thought formatting would be a nightmare, because I have been known to get into a pickle even just with headers and footers in my time (Noooo, I said I DON’T want to “link to previous”, what are you DOING?????) but it was really easy.

  1. Amazon is big. Tapestry and I are very, very little.

I knew this anyway, but it’s extremely true and difficult to know how to counter it. Writing the stories and all the work to get the book onto Amazon are the easy bits. Getting it noticed is hard. Maybe you could tell all your friends? Or your walls, in case they do have ears. Or teach your dog to read? I don’t know.

I have lots to learn about marketing. Still, we could be onto something if your dog would just put in the effort. 😉

  1. I would like to do it again

I would like an agent and traditional publisher for my books. It’s just the way I feel. But I’d also like to repeat my self-publishing experience, so watch this space!

Do you have any marketing tips you could give me? Can your dog read? I’d love to know, so please get in touch either here or on twitter!

Much love,

Elle. 🙂 xx

TAPESTRY_front150dpi copy Amazon and websitesIn hope, in pain,

we lose, we gain,

but always and forever

the human heart braves life

in light and in shade.

Tapestry. A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love. Available now.

Gadding about gabbing

Hey there,

Hope your day is going well so far. Bit chilly, is it not?

It’s just over three months since I published Tapestry and since then I’ve been visiting some online buddies to talk about it. If you haven’t already seen the posts, I thought you might like to? 🙂

In October I visited the Write Romantics to talk about how much I love both the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and the online writing community. You can find out more about what I had to say to my WR buddies here.

I’m a fan of Rhoda Baxter’s Inheritance Books blog and was so pleased to be able to jump up and down on kick back on the Inheritance Books sofa in December. If you’d like to know which book I inherited from my mum and which book I’d want to leave my children, you can find the answers here.

When I first started my own blog about 3 ½ years ago I met Natalie Trice, blogger at Just Because I Love. I have enjoyed keeping up with Nat’s world since then and was thrilled to be interviewed in her Author Spotlight. If you’d like to hear my thoughts on writing, books and what makes me feel like a pea on a mountain, you can do so here.

Thank you to everyone who has had me on their blog – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being out and about in the blogosphere!

Elle 🙂 xx

TAPESTRY_front150dpi copy Amazon and websitesIn hope, in pain,

we lose, we gain,

but always and forever

the human heart braves life

in light and in shade.

Tapestry. A collection of twelve short stories exploring the complexities of life and love. Available now.