We’re having a heatwave here in the UK. It could be argued that we’re actually just having a summer (it’s been so long none of us can remember what summer is like) but apparently is really is a heatwave. We’re not really equipped for extreme weather. When it snows the country stops and everything breaks; in a heatwave everyone melts as air conditioning is not really a thing we understand. We’re very good at rain. Rain is where Britain excels. Everything else is a mystery to us.

If you’ve ever visited this country you’ve no doubt had a conversation with someone about the weather. Every time I get in a cab I chat with the driver about the weather. We talk weather in shops and while queuing in the post office. Weather is the topic every Brit knows inside out. Bemoaning the weather is like our national sport.

It’s because our weather is generally really really crap. Ludicrously so. The British aren’t miserable at all — we just have crap weather and it gets us down. But give us a sunny day and we’re all smiles! It’s why half the country seems to decamp to Spain every year, to get burned on the beach and drink their bodyweight in sangria. We just need a bit of sun now and then.

Those of you who live in a hot climate are probably giggling at our inability to handle the heat, but London in a heatwave is pretty intense. It’s blocking my ability to write. And think. And sleep.

But in all honesty, I don’t mind it one bit.

And neither does Noah :)

And the winners are!

Well now, this has been so much fun! I knew we were a community of bookworms, but now I have the proof :) There’s been such wonderful energy and enthusiasm in the comments of the giveaway post, it’s been a joy to read through them every day.

Books really are great, aren’t they? The fact that you guys remember your favourites so lovingly from childhood makes my heart dance. My sister and I fully intend to nuture the love of books in my nephew so thank you so much for adding to our must-read-to-him list!

So with that all said, here are the winners of the Big Book Giveaway!

The BOOKBOMB winner is Abby Coffell

Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts goes to Tina Presley

Cultivating Your Creative Life by Alena Hennessy goes to Louise Gale

Creative Thursday by Marisa Anne goes to Kelly at Sweet Blue Sky

The Declaration of You by Jessica Swift & Michelle Ward goes to Deni Moore

The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte goes to Hilari Marshall

The Right-Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee goes to Dawn Tappen

Brave Intuitive Painting by Flora Bowley goes to Sue Koepnick

Daring Adventures in Paint by Mati Rose McDonough goes to Joanna Meriwether

Photo Craft by Susan Tuttle & Christy Hydeck goes to Katie Mattson

Decorate Workshop by Holly Becker goes to Fiona Theodoredis

Zen Under Fire by Marianne Elliott goes to Amy Simpson

Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr goes to Brandalyn

Inner Excavation by Liz Lamoreux goes to Zoe B

The Life Organiser by Jennifer Louden goes to Alanna Jane

Desire to Inspire by Christine Mason Miller goes to Amy Bogue

The Beauty of Different by Karen Walrond goes to lisa T.

A Field Guide to Now by Christina Rosalie goes to Millie Thomas

Your Other Names by Tara Mohr goes to Cindi Summerlin

This I Know by Yours Truly goes to Karen Poremski

My Heart Wanders by Pia Jane Bijkerk goes to Becki

Life is a Verb by Patti Digh goes to Sherry L Gaboury

Instant Love by Jen Altman, Amanda Gilligan and Yours Truly goes to Sharon Wharton

The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa Sonora Beam goes to Shaina Longstreet

You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap) by Tammy Strobel goes to Barb g

The Inside of Out by Jena Strong goes to Sharon Palac

Photographing Your Children by Jen Altman goes to Michelle Cooley

Loves, expect an email from me within the next 48 hours xxx

This I Know, one year on

The best part of writing a book isn’t seeing it in bookstores, though that is certainly fun. It’s not even holding the book in your hands for the first time. No, the best part is getting emails of appreciation from readers. Even now I still get emails from souls who’ve connected with my story and wanted to share theirs with me. I’ve sat here with tears in my eyes as I read about the loved ones they’ve lost, and how they found themselves reflected back in the pages. To me this is the real measure of the book’s success. Doing the book tour last year was so amazing and I’ve caught myself wishing I could do it all again this year. Getting to sit and talk with all those women was such an honour and definitely one of the most soul-nourishing things I’ve ever done.

I wrote This I Know in 2011 and my head and heart are in a different place from where they were two years ago. Yet so much of what I wrote still stands. Though I don’t remember every word I wrote, I can still recall how it felt to be holed up in my home in Bath pouring my heart out into my laptop. Writing a book, like any big creative project, asks a lot of you. It’s physically tiring and mentally challenging; your inner critic rubs her hands in glee as you dance daily with your imposter complex. And it doesn’t stop when the book is finished. I had a short period of compulsively checking my Amazon reviews until I finally got what I’d feared most — a negative review — and decided then and there to stop checking! As an author you have no control over how people receive your book. You can only do your best, try not to let yourself or your publisher down, and cross your fingers that you’ll sell enough copies to be able to write another. Because that’s the thing with a first book — it’s a first book. It’s your baptism by fire, and once you’ve done it once you’re itching to do it again. But this time, you tell yourself, it’ll be better. You know how to write a book now. You know what not to do. You know how much time it takes, and how you’ll wring every word from your brain and need to find ways to fill it up again. “It’s just a first book,” you’ll say to friends. “My next one will be better.”

This I Know touches on subjects that are important to me — family, creativity, community, solitude, purpose — and I’m hungry to dive deeper into them, but the chapter that feels most complete to me is the first. My grief story informs the entire book, but is told in more detail in chapter one. Putting the finishing touches to that part of the book felt like the closing of a circle. It felt like completion, finally, and a letting go…. and that’s why it’s my favourite.

I recorded the first section of that chapter for you… just for fun:

I am healed and moving forward, but reading back my words — saying them aloud even — makes me so grateful that I had the opportunity to put my story onto paper. It doesn’t matter if I think I could have done better (we’re always going to think that, eh?) — what matters is it’s being read by those who needed to read it. Who needed to find themselves reflected back in someone else’s experience. It’s what I was searching for in those first months of bereavement, but it’s also more than that. It’s about the twisty wonderous creative journey, and the path to self-acceptance. I’m proud of my little book baby and I hope I can write a sibling for her at some point in the not too distant future.

That one will be even better ;-)


There’s still plenty of time to enter the Big Book Giveaway!

And Journal Your Life starts in less than a week so I’ll keep registration open in case you’d like to join us xx