By Popular Demand, Flipboard

Some great insight into Flipboard from Craig Boyack – well worth a read!

Story Empire

Hi all, Craig here again. I’ve posted a few times on my own blog, Entertaining Stories, about how I’ve benefitted from a semi-obscure media called Flipboard.

Flipboard is one of those curated content setups, and I came to it by accident. Once upon a time, I had a Zite Magazine account. I set it up to be a source of ideas that I might want to write about. All was well with the world, because I could give a thumbs up or down and improve the stories I got. I set up all kinds of things, like archaeology, paranormal, scientific discoveries, and more. Many of these made it into posts I make called The Idea Mill.

Then Zite got absorbed by Flipboard. I didn’t have any choice but to switch over. Honestly, it doesn’t work quite as well for my original purpose, but it allows me something I…

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#writephoto – Tryst

summerhouseThis week’s prompt for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenge is yet another gorgeous photo. Here is my response:

Purple Sky

‘I’ve always loved this time of day’, she said,

Her hair shaded purple in the fading light.

Her heart distant as the hillside across the water,

Unreachable, unclimbable,

Indifferent as the rising moon.

 

‘I love the way it makes me feel’, she said,

‘As though my heart were breaking

Bittersweet, melancholy, wouldn’t you agree?’

All I could do was nod, silent,

My heart breaking with hers

 

‘Will you be going soon?’ she said.

Words stark, pointed, like branches traced black

Against the setting sun. I nodded once more,

Leaving my heart under purpling sky,

Under darkened eaves, with her.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

 

Out For A Walk

img_1249Today I decided to walk to work. It’s a reasonably long walk, about forty minutes, but the morning was bright and I had the time. It’s a nice walk, along a main residential road, past fields and under a railway bridge, along a reservoir and, finally, crossing a sylvan canal basin and heading up past what is reputed to be the site of a king’s hunting lodge. Nothing remains now except a fragment of red brick wall with a Tudor rose on it, incorporated into the more modern (but still a couple of centuries old) house now on the site.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a really long walk. And today I realised how much I’d missed it. I still do the school walks each morning and afternoon, but my days being what they are at the moment I don’t usually have the time to wander further. However, today’s walk made me determined to find the time.

Apart from the exercise, I find walking to be a wonderful time to think. I’ve worked out countless plot points, untangled knotty problems and generally put my life into some sort of order. For some reason it works for me. However, I do need a destination – I can’t just walk aimlessly.

Apparently Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the lyrics to his wildly popular Hamilton while on his afternoon walks, while William Blake, Wordsworth and JK Rowling are just a few of the many other writers who found inspiration while out for a wander. Recent studies have found that, when we walk, our brain activity increases, as does connectivity between important brain circuits, boosting our mood.

Today I managed to sort out some time management stuff, as well as reconcile a couple of character threads in my current WIP. I also got some exercise and fresh air, arriving at work on time. I realise I’m fortunate to be able to walk to work – however, even when I had to take public transport to previous jobs I always managed to fit in a walk of some kind, whether it was by getting off several stops early or heading out during my lunch break.

So it was nice to rediscover the joy of walking today, and to feel the familiar story telling wheels begin to turn once more in my mind. Looking forward to seeing where the walk takes me next week…

‘Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.’  Henry David Thoreau


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Thursday Doors – Faded Glory

img_0405These two attractive green doors are in the town of Silves, Portugal.

I use the word ‘attractive’ because I love the tiles, the cobbles, the ornate metal balconies and the old doors with curved frames, traditional style hearkening back to when the building was originally constructed.

However, I don’t love the unsightly (and dangerous-looking) tangle of wires, the clunky air conditioning unit and the metal post plonked into the old cobbles. Don’t get me wrong – there is much to love about modern design and the convenience it brings. However, in this instance, all these ‘conveniences’ have done is to detract from what was a rather nice building facade.

Sometimes I think that, as a species, we are so keen to ‘modernise’ that we overlook that which is already in place. Only once the damage is done, the old things lost, do we realise.

This was my response to the Thursday Doors Challenge, courtesy of Norm 2.0. For more doors, or to add one of your own, head over to Norm’s site and click the link.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

 

Wednesday Wander – The Brighton Pavilion

img_0137You may think that this week I’ve chosen to wander somewhere exotic, a Moroccan souk or Indian palace. Actually, I’m only an hour or so from where I live, in the lovely but much-less-exotic Brighton, on the south coast of England. This is the Brighton Pavilion.

img_0141The Pavilion actually started life as a much more modest farmhouse, which the Prince of Wales, later George IV, rented as a convenient place to see his longtime love, Maria Fitzherbert, whom he was forbidden to marry. In 1787 he decided he’d like grander accommodation, so incorporated the farmhouse into one wing of a larger building. Construction continued until 1822 and took several stages, with renowned architect John Nash overseeing the final phase, giving it the appearance it has today.

img_0132Brighton at the time was gaining in popularity as a seaside town, thanks to the Prince’s uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, who had held a residence there for several years. For many years the Pavilion was the summer home of the Royal Family, until Queen Victoria decided it was too ‘cramped’ and not private enough. She decided to move to the Isle Of Wight for her summer holidays instead, and so the Pavilion was sold to the town of Brighton in 1850, for the sum of £53,000, a fortune in those days (and not too bad today, either!)

img_0139The Pavilion is now open to the public, and features the most wonderfully opulent interiors. I didn’t go inside on my last visit but plan to do so next time, and of course I’ll share the photos when I do.

img_0135Even though the day I visited was bitterly cold, it was bright and clear, perfect for viewing fantasy minarets against an azure sky. In some ways it reminded me of Hearst Castle, another place built by a man to spend time with the woman he loved but couldn’t marry – a perfect folly.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Following My Heart’s Desire

img_3702I published this post in October 2014, back in the early days of my blog. I came across it the other day and realised that it still rang true. So I thought I’d share it again.

As I walked home from school after dropping my daughter off the other morning, I pondered, as I usually do, the latest plot twists in the book I’m writing. Then it struck me that this is what I do now. I thought back to a couple of years ago, before I started writing about Ambeth and all the other stories coming through me and was amazed by how my life has changed.

‘Will I always be like this?’ I thought to myself. ‘Is this it now, or will I look back in a few years time, shaking my head at how obsessed I was, how writing was a compulsion, a daily requirement?’

You know what, I really do think this is it. After forty something years of life, three different continents and a myriad of jobs ranging from martial arts instructor to waitress to casting co-ordinator and photography producer, I think I’ve finally found my groove. My place to stay, my happiness, as they say. Sure, I’ve been writing all my life, just like my bio says, and for the last eleven years or so have been writing for other people. But this is different. This is writing for myself, tapping into the muse and weaving stories to life, words shining silver in the slippery darkness of the pond, fossils emerging from the forest floor. It is discovery and catharsis and creation and desire all rolled into one, a wonderful compulsion to put words on the page, to bring characters to life and tell their stories as they come through me.

So lucky me. I will say this, I have never given up the search for my heart’s desire. Through jobs I’ve hated and tolerated and thought perhaps I liked, through moves across town and state and country lines, I’ve always needed some sort of creative outlet. For a long time it was painting – I’ve sold a few, been exhibited once (just a small show) and several pieces adorn the walls of my own home. There is a peace and joy in painting once I get into the mood, music and brushstrokes a form of meditation. But it is nothing like the fire and excitement I get from writing, the pictures in my mind coming on to the page so much more easily than they did onto the canvas. There are times when I laugh a little and sigh, that my passion is not for some sort of fiendish financial calculation whereby I can make a fortune, but I am rich in so many other ways. Writing has conferred upon me a freedom, a confidence to be myself and express my thoughts, a confidence that grows and brings me back to the true self I came so close to losing some time ago. There is more value in that than in anything else I can think of, for it allows me to love and be free, to care for those around me and appreciate small wonders in the world, seeing them for the story they tell.

I love writing and, even though there are rejections and frustrations to suffer, none of them do anything to change that fact. So I thought I would write a post on how I feel about writing, letting my fingers flow. And so they have, reminding me of why it is that I write now, and why it is that will always be so, as long as I have ideas to dream of.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

#writephoto – In The Flames

flameI do enjoy Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompts, and the variety of responses she gets for each image. I usually know, when I look at her photos, whether I have something. This is what came to me for this week’s prompt:

What do you see in the flames, little one?’

Her hair was burnished gold, little flickers around her rounded cheeks, small teeth like rice grains as she smiled. ‘I see stories, Nanna.’

‘Stories?’ I raised my eyebrows.

‘Yes,’ she said, reaching her small rounded arm towards the fire. I held out my hand, warning her back and she shook her head, curls bouncing.

‘Oh, don’t worry, Nanna. I know I’m not to touch, Mama said so. I just like to watch the pictures.’

I went still. A curl of excitement started in my stomach. It had been so long I’d almost given up hope. Our tribe had given up, too. I reached to smooth my hand over her soft hair, the fire casting spidery shadows from her long eyelashes as she watched the fire dance.

‘And so what sort of pictures do you see, my precious?’ I waited, half-holding my breath.

‘I see things that have been, and things to come.’ Her voice was deeper for a moment, her childish tones more grown up and I let out the breath. So here it was, here under my very nose. I closed my eyes, knowing that the path before her was long and hard, but that she was the only one who could walk it.

‘I saw the man, the man that came the other week? With the beads and the furs?’ She was all childish excitement again, grabbing at my hand. ‘I saw him ages ago, that’s why I knew what I wanted when he came.’

‘Did you now? Well, that is a fine thing.’ I laughed with her, remembering how she had chosen the small wooden boat, its prow carved like a dragon, like the ones the invaders rode on so long ago. ‘And why did you choose a boat?’

She turned to me, her little face all at once serious. ‘Because I saw them too, Nanna, in the fire. It told me the boats are coming. They’ll be here soon.’


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.