2019: a year in blogging

A pair of burgundy boots rest on a bookshelf of fantasy novels

2019 has been a long old year, with a heap of challenges: a new job, a demanding client, lots of work travel, and political drama all left me wanting to bury my head in a book, but with limited mental energy for my blog. But before I close the door on 2019, I wanted to celebrate what I did achieve here at There’s Always Room For One More. Because in spite of all that, it’s been a pretty epic year.

I know, I know – 2019 not quite done yet. But I don’t have any big plans (or even scheduled posts) over the next week, so this seems like a safe time to look back at the blog (unlike picking my Top Ten Reads, which OH NO NOT YET I DON’T – there’s a week left and some AMAZING books on my TBR).

Let’s start with a look at some of my favourite blogging moments from 2019.

Favourite review(s)

This is a tie between my review of The Traitor Baru Cormorant and This Is How You Lose The Time War. Apparently I have a soft spot for reviews where I speak directly to you; but I also think these are two of the better reviews I’ve written, where my feelings about two devastatingly good books are condensed into coherent, spoiler-free and passionate posts. The Traitor Baru Cormorant also gets the nod for being your favourite of the reviews I wrote this year (with thanks to The Write Reads for featuring it).

Most impactful review

…I think this goes my review of Steel Frame by Andrew Skinner, which not only persuaded Amithi to buy it on the spot (as well as leaping onto several other TBRs), but brought her back ten days later to share how it ruined her, too. Mr Skinner, you should be proud of the emotional trauma you dished out.

I also feel I should apologise to BookForager whose TBR I have wreaked havoc on this year (sorry Mayri!) – if less because I’m terribly convincing than (let’s be honest) because we are drawn to very similar books.

Most entertaining post

I’ve done a raft of really fun memes and tags this year, but I think the trickiest and most satisfying were the SciFiMonth Six Degrees of Separation posts. I loved the challenge of finding thematic links (and yes, I made it harder for myself than I needed to, but that was part of the fun) and I totally intend to make this a regular if intermittent feature next year. Many thanks to Kate over at Books Are My Favourite And Best for getting me into this game.

A picture speaks a thousand words

I’ve done a lot less bookstagramming this year (not that I ever do a lot), but I did tackle the “Do I Have That Book” tag by Keeping Tabs as a photo post. This required a massive photo shoot as well as being a bigger challenge just to find candidates than I expected – but it was also a huge amount of fun (and I’m really pleased with the pics).

I stand by what I said

Ha! No, nothing controversial – just a look at my favourite recommendation posts this year. I loved putting together suggestions for Dancing With Fantasy and SciFi (I loved participating too – it has really pushed my reading in the latter part of the year), but I think my favourite rec posts are the pair I wrote for SciFiMonth focusing on backlist and current SF by female authors.

The trickiest to write? Definitely the Top Ten Tuesday challenge to name our favourite books of the past decade. I focused purely on fantasy back in May and this was still a monster to put together – but as 2020 dawns, I may be brave enough to have another go for a best of the best. Maybe.

Most unexpected moments

I GOT TO INTERVIEW PETER F HAMILTON. Ahem. Whew. Sorry, not over that yet. I nearly fell off my chair when the opportunity arose; nearly fluffed it completely due to an eruption of work (on both sides); and am so pleased we managed to make it happen in the end, if not quite for SciFiMonth. It’s moments like this (see also: finding myself casually having a cuppa with Gareth L Powell or Ellen Kushner, or watching a sword fight with Melissa Caruso) where I pinch myself and can’t believe where this little blog has led me. Thank you to all the authors who have made time to hang out this year!

I am not a number

I don’t measure the blog’s success by the stats – while I’ve become more conscious over the year’s that I have an audience, I prefer to think of you all as bookfriends. You’re here because we share a passion. Hopefully I occasionally point you in the direction of some amazing book that you’d missed – or we connect sharing views on something we both read (or hated!). This is what matters most to me, and what makes it all worthwhile.

Still, I do look at the numbers from time to time – and I’m pretty chuffed that they’re set to hit over 20,000 views from 9000 visitors this year. It seems that 600 followers is the next milestone – which will be an amazing 50% increase since last January. I’m not sure what I did to deserve that, but I hope you’re all having a good time <waves>

Glory to the Excel Queen

My job used to revolve around Excel and advertising, so the real miracle is that I didn’t roll out spreadsheets to track the blog years ago. This is the point where I tip my hat to the wonderful Kaleena at Reader Voracious, whose magnificent spreadsheets are things of joy. How did you think I know what my follower count was in January? (I can’t usually remember the weekend by Monday – my beloved is amused that I am simultaneously fierce and forgetful, which makes me terrible at holding a grudge. I HATE YOU. Why? Um. Not sure. Reasons. You seem ok, to be honest. Friends?). But yes, anyway: spreadsheets! I recommend them! While it hasn’t really changed anything about how, when or what I blog, it has reassured me that I’m not howling into the abyss.

It’s more fun with friends

The blog’s biggest days have – perhaps inevitably – been on days that have been all about community: I was featured twice by The Write Reads (the biggest, friendliest group of bloggers you can hope to meet) and I once again co-hosted SciFiMonth and Wyrd and Wonder as well as participating in the Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards.

And honestly? These events are the highlights of my blogging year. I’m so delighted that they continue to attract and excite so many like-minded nerds to geek out with me. Every time I get intimidated by TEH PRESSURE (aiii), I remind myself that while I inevitably fall off the wagon into Workville half way through, my wonderful crewmates, fellow adventurers and judges just pick up the torch and flame on into the night until I catch up. I love you folks. Thank you. Let’s do it again?

Friends have faces

I’ve been to two cons this year: my first Worldcon and my second Bristolcon. Not a blogging achievement in itself, but a big personal win as I’m horribly (if not always obviously) nervous about meeting new people. BUT GUESS WHAT? When you’re hanging out with people you already know – even though you don’t really know their faces – it’s a heck of a lot easier. Dublin showed me just how big and warm and friendly my online circle is. I love you all, and I look forward to seeing your faces again – and putting more faces to names. Maybe see you at Eastercon or Cymera 2020?

Whether I’ve met you in person or not, know that you are awesome and a very welcome part of my life. It’s an absolute pleasure being part of the science fiction and fantasy blogging community, and I look forward to many more years of sharing our bookish passions. Yes, it’s Christmas and I’m sentimental. I LOVE YOU GOOD PEOPLE ❤