Monday, 30 December 2013

The Year That Was 2013

2013 has been quite a year for me. I'm not sure I can recall a time when so much happened in a mere twelve months.

First of all, I finally took the plunge and published all of my novels on Kindle. After the success of The Englishman (over 2,000 downloads as we speak and counting), I was encouraged to push out into the world both my family drama, Coffee and Vodka and the spy thriller, The Red King of Helsinki.

In November this year I also published a paperback copy of The Englishman, which has been terribly well received. (Even if I say so myself).

Joey at West End Lane Books with the first signed copies.

So, from a writer with three novels languishing in her drawer, in twelve and a bit months I've become a published author with a loyal readership. Bring on more years like 2013!

The 2013 London Book Fair was another game changer in my career as an independent author. I've written about the changes in the publishing industry many times here, but to see the shifting landscape with my own eyes was something to behold.

I also gained a tremendous amount of encouragement and new ideas from the LBF this year, not least thanks to the Alliance of Independent Authors, an organisation which has worked tirelessly to promote and support indy writers and who were very much a presence at the Book Fair. Thanks must got to Orna Ross, Joanna Penn et al for all their hard work this year.

Me with Joanna Penn who gave a wonderfully
informative lecture at LBF 13
on indy publishing.
The Fair was also a wonderful opportunity to make new writer friends: I got to meet the Triskele Books girls through Catriona Troth, other notable indy writers such as Roz Morris, Rohan Quine, Dan Holloway and Grisha Ryzhakov to name but a few. I cannot wait for LBF 2014, wild horses wouldn't keep me away!

The year 2013 has also been eventful in the life of my family: in May, Son asked his long-time girlfriend to marry him  and she said yes! The young couple will marry in 2014, an event that has been a red letter day in my calendar for many months already. I just cannot wait!

Aren't they cute?
Son with his fiancé in Provence this summer.
Not in the least less important, Daughter finished her History of Art degree at University of Birmingham this year and graduated in June. It was such a proud moment for me, and I spent almost the whole of the day holding back tears, only losing the battle when Daughter stepped onto the stage at the Great Hall to receive her degree certificate. Oh well, I'm sure I wasn't the only parent to dab a tissue at the corner of her eye at that point.

Daughter looks pretty happy?
As if all of the above wasn't enough, something equally thrilling happened in my working life in 2013. In late 2012 I took on a part time role at a Finnish charity called Finn-Guild. I've been a member of this ex-pat organisation since the early 1980's, but going to work there to look after the finances of the charity and its commercial arm, Guild Travel, has been a huge trip down memory lane. I'd not worked with Finns since I left Finland some thirty years ago, and just being able to speak your mother tongue in an office in London's Camden has been quite life-changing. I hadn't realised how much of myself I'd hidden away while adapting to life in the UK. Spending time with fellow countrymen has made me feel as if I'd come back home. It's made me a more complete person.

To top it all, in the New Year, I'm going to move to a much more important and challenging role with the Finns. From February 1st, I will be taking over as Development Manager/General Secretary of Finn-Guild. So watch this space, there will be many more posts about Finnish and Nordic culture on this blog in 2014.

So there it is, my short - very personal -  review of 2013. All that remains is to wish you all:

Hauskaa Uutta Vuotta - Happy New Year

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Seen the Elephant said...

Hauskaa Uutta Vuotta indeed! As you know, we noted your red-letter year in publishing at the Displaced Nation, but didn't know then about son's upcoming nuptials and daughter's recent achievement. MEGA-CONGRATS!

Debbie Young said...

Wow, what a year, Helena! 2013 is certainly going to be hard to beat - here's wishing you a very happy 2014, and I do hope I'll get to meet you at LBF 2014!

Helena Halme said...

Thank you Debbie, and the same to you!

Helena Halme said...

You at Displaced Nation have been one of my staunches supporters, I thank and salute you! Hope you have a brilliant 2014!

kristen said...

My heroine! Can you write a post about how you find time to write? Happy New Year!!