Blood Sport – A Vampire Anthology for Charity #amwriting

Another little piece of publishing news to share with you all! I’m thrilled to have had a story chosen for inclusion in Blood Sport, an upcoming vampire anthology, with all proceeds going to the International Red Cross.

Hungry for some blood-curdling action and adventure? Maybe even a little romance? This clan of talented authors is dying to bring you eleven vampy stories you can really sink your teeth into!

One-click today for more vampy tales than you can shake a stake at!

All proceeds from this anthology will benefit The International Red Cross.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve been immersed in a vampiric world for the past couple of years, writing a YA novel that is now out on submission. Somewhat unexpectedly, I might add, as it all stemmed from a Halloween writing prompt on Ali Isaac’s blog, some years past.

The short story in Blood Sport was originally something I wrote for a competition that didn’t go anywhere. However, I loved the story and so, when I heard about the submission window for this anthology, I dusted it off, expanded and rewrote sections, and sent it in. It just goes to show that stories may not always end up where we expect them to, but they will, eventually, find a home.

‘Heads or tails?’

A lucky coin. A question. And a meeting in the red-black depths of a St Petersburg nightclub that will change Nikolai’s life forever. But immortality, it turns out, isn’t that much fun. Especially when you have to spend it alone…

The anthology is up for pre-order now – you can get your copy here – and is scheduled to be published on November 30, 2020. Watch this space (and my social media) for giveaway details, ARC copies and publishing updates!


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page or my website to see more.

Living The Lockdown Life… Again #lockdownuk

As the nights draw in, the days getting colder, it seems natural to retreat into our own spaces, to keep warm and dry, cosy socks and slippers the order of the day.

And so it is now, as autumn gives way to winter, the last vestiges of red-gold still clinging to the trees. We’ve had frost here already, the mild panic when you realise it’s time to leave for the school run but the car is still iced over, the crunch of leaves underfoot, lines of glitter scoring the rooftops and windows.

And we’re also in lockdown again. The second one of the year, as Covid infections rise once more after our summer of relative freedom.

Things haven’t changed too much in our house, to be honest. My husband has been working from home since the first lockdown in March, and I’ve been working at home for a few years now. Schools are still open so the kiddo is out of the house, and the dog still needs to be taken for her daily walk, greetings still exchanged in the cool fields and pathways.

It’s been a bit of an eye-opener, to be honest. In many ways, I’m very fortunate that my life hasn’t been curtailed too badly by the current global circumstances. However, it’s also made me realise that, when this is all over, I would like to go out more, do more, see more people in person, rather than just participate online. I had plans to see people this month, but they’ve all been postponed – while the current lockdown is only supposed to be until December 2nd, I feel as though it’s more likely to run until Christmas, at which point I hope we’ll be allowed to mix in small groups, at least.

So for now, I’ll get out when I can with the dog, breathe in woodsmoke-scented air, look across the distant hills and dream of a day when we can all meet up again.

Stay safe and well, everyone xx

PS. I realise there is big news, and a big change, coming from the US. Let’s hope this will lead to brighter days going forwards…

On A Writing Journey #amwriting

I was going to share a few updates today, about writing and the different things I’ve been working on. But, when I posted the below image to Instagram, with a note about how I’ve been writing a story since June and have just finished the first draft, the comments I received gave me pause.

They were all lovely, positive comments, and they also shared a single theme: ‘Can’t wait to read it!’ And it made me realise something. While I’ve been doing a great deal of writing over the past two years, I haven’t shared any of it with you.

In fact, it’s been *gasp* almost three years since I published the fourth instalment of the Ambeth Chronicles, Under Stone. To those of you who’ve messaged me, asking when the next instalment is coming out, I can only apologise. It is almost written, and my plan is to finish it by the end of this year, get it to my editor, and publish as soon as possible.

So, what have I been doing? I’ve been off exploring other worlds, I suppose. A vampire-filled castle on the south coast of England. A mythical town on the California Coast. And a version of London, set far in the future. It’s been two years of working on my craft, pushing things further, and sending submissions to agents and publications. I’ve written almost 400,000 words, exploring the edges of my creativity, digging deeper and further to see where the ideas will take me. I’ve also dabbled in middle-grade and short stories, sketched out an idea for a non-fiction book, and played around with poetry.

And it’s been worth it, definitely, from a creative point of view. I have some stories with which I’m extremely happy, and know I’m a better writer now than when I started this journey. However, from a writing-more-books-for-people point of view, it’s probably seemed as though I’ve given up writing!

I can assure you I have not. And my hard work is starting to bear fruit. My vampire novel is currently with an agent who requested the full MS (one of several requests I’ve had). Another agent is very keen to read whatever I write next. One of my short stories, A Point of Light, will be in the upcoming issue of Lucent Dreaming (Nov 2020). And the co-author project I’ve been talking about? Well, I can reveal it was with the singer/songwriter (and all around lovely person), Tom Grennan, and that the completed book is now with his label pending the next steps.

So, fingers and toes crossed, I hope that next year will let me share a bumper crop of stories with you all. And I will definitely be publishing the next Ambeth instalment!

Oooh, and while you’re here, I also have a fancy new website, courtesy of Rivia Digital. You can pop by and visit it at helenglynnjones.co.uk. I’ll be blogging both here and there, so hope to see you 🙂

Thanks for bearing with me… more is yet to come!


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page or my website to see more.

 

 

 

First, catch your..? #cancer

A powerful reminder from Sue that, even though we are the midst of a pandemic, it is vitally important to speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your health…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

“… knowing you are going to die makes clearing out the cupboards so much easier!”

The sound of choked laughter came through the phone. “You should write that,” said my friend, once his calm was once more regained. The sentiment had, I think, taken him off guard, but it was a simple observation. Even in such circumstances, there are up-sides.

Like, I seem to have pretty much ‘retired’. At least, temporarily. I certainly won’t be back at work until the chemotherapy is done… and who knows after that? And all my worries, although they are exactly same as ever, are now definitely finite. Except, that has always been true, I just know now that they are. And that conscious knowledge is the only thing that separates me from any other person in the street.

We are all dying by degrees, as part of the natural lifecycle… but being aware of…

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Wednesday Wander Revisited – Belarusian Memorial Chapel

Another Wednesday and, with it, a wander. The skies are high and blue, the sun shining and, even though travel is limited, it feels like a day to get out and about. This Wander isn’t too far from where I live, but felt like a window into another world, another time. Hope you enjoy it…

You might think this little wooden church is somewhere in Russia, or Eastern Europe, but in fact it is in London, England. It’s the first wooden church built in the city since the Great Fire of 1666, and also the first memorial in Western Europe dedicated to the Chernobyl Disaster. This is the Church of St Cyril of Turau and All The Patron Saints of the Belarusian People, also known as the Belarusian Memorial Chapel.

My husband is of Belarusian heritage via his mother, and has visited Belarus (where he still has family). He’s always been interested in this side of his heritage and, when we moved here, he was pleased to find a Belarusian society in London. We attended Christmas festivities there one year, which included a traditional puppet show, obviously an anticipated and much-loved part of their Christmas season. And, when the new church was built, we attended the consecration, which took place on December 17, 2016.

We are neither of us particularly religious – spiritual is probably a better term, as we ascribe to no particular faith. Still, we respect the faith of others, and felt it an honour to be there on consecration day. Many important figures from the Belarusian church travelled to attend the event, which was conducted mainly in their native tongue.

The church is built entirely of wood and glass – even the pegs holding it together are timber. It was featured in the 2017 London Festival of Architecture, and received the RIBA London Regional Award of the London Institute of British Architects. The design is based upon traditional rural wooden churches in Belarus, and has a beauty and simplicity which is timeless. As we listened to the voices chanting, smelt the incense, the red and gold and white robes against the pale wood, it felt like a window into history, into an older time.

Later we stood outside in the clear cold air as the clergy walked in procession, blessing the building. Once the service concluded we departed, heading for lunch in a comfortable pub, blankets wrapped around our cold feet as we drank beer and ate pizza. It felt strange, stepping back into the ‘real’ world. A trip in more ways than one.

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


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page or my website to see more.

For My Friend

‘When you part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you love most in him will be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.’

Ah, good old Kahlil Gibran, always trying to find the positive, the lesson, in the sometimes-tangled mess of life. I suppose this was his way of saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but sometimes absence is just that, a hole in your life, where something or someone once was and they cannot be replaced.

I’ve parted from several friends in my life, simply due to having moved so often and so far, but most of us are still in touch. Each on our own journey, but our paths still intersect from time to time. However, sometimes you get the news that a friend is on another kind of journey, one which we all must take one day, and from which there is no return. That kind of news is always hard to hear, and doubly so in this time of solitude and shielding, where the only comfort you can offer is words, and there is no guarantee that you will actually get to see each other again.

And so it has been for me this week. I am heartsore, and cannot imagine how it must be for her family, for her beloved, to have to deal with this news. Our friendship has been mostly virtual, but we have spent a handful of days together. And oh, such days, where time has stretched and twisted, allowing glimpses of other realms, and some of the most profound experiences of my life. Days of tears and laughter, of good food and company, of ritual and song. Days that have changed the course of my own life, helping me to explore who I truly am. And through them all, a thread of warmth and learning and friendship, of generosity of spirit and understanding that I’ll never forget.

‘I’m still here,’ I can hear her saying. And of course she is. And she will be for a while yet.

So perhaps I’ll finish up here with another quote, this time from Tennesee Williams. ‘Time doesn’t take away from friendship, nor does separation.’

I know you’ll get to see the heather bloom again. And I hope I get to see it with you.


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page or my website to see more.

The Joy Of Wandering… #travel

This morning, while eating breakfast, I read an article about hummus, and how the Israelis make it. I love hummus and often make my own, so this was an interesting article. But what I also loved about it was the descriptions of life in Jerusalem, glimpses into homes and kitchens and restaurants, to the idea of eating hummus for breakfast, a different way of life.

This is what travel offers us. The opportunity to see how other people on the planet live, what they consider part of their daily routines. We are all human, of course, and have needs that are universal (though not always available to everyone). Food, shelter, sleep, clothing. Work, friendship, family. Once those are in place, we diverge in how we conduct our daily routines. And that, to me, is one of the great joys of travelling. The opportunity to try new flavours, new ways of doing things. Different ideas on how to decorate homes, serve meals, shop and eat out. And also the history of a place and how it has shaped these ideas.

When we were in Dubai about ten years ago, we visited to the museum in the old town. It was very well done, not just in terms of informing us of the history of the place, but also how the desert landscape and the ocean had shaped their customs and clothing styles and diet, even their palaces built of shells. It made me consider my own life, and how where I’ve lived has also shaped the person I am and the things I enjoy doing.

Whenever we go somewhere new, I make a point of doing some research before we go. Of interesting places to visit, restaurants to try, things to see, customs to observe. While I can certainly appreciate the idea of going on holiday simply to lie in the sun, I prefer to get out and about. Last year I went to Australia, Croatia and Denmark. This year, however, things are quite different.

A planned trip to Morocco in April was cancelled for obvious reasons, and there doesn’t look to be much travel outside this small island for the foreseeable future. However, while we may be physically confined in space, there are still opportunities to let our spirits roam free. Whether in the pages of a book, or a blog like this, through travel documentaries and magazines, or even by looking at photos of places you’ve already been. And may I introduce you to the wonders of Window Swap? The premise is simple – loops of window views from around the world, submitted by users. From rain in Bangalore to sun in Melbourne, Tyrolean meadows and skyscrapers in Seoul, you can travel across the globe at the click of a mouse. People’s pets show up in some of the loops, while others have sound, and it is utterly delightful (and quite easy to lose yourself in for a little while).

So I guess this post is more about my love of wandering, rather than being a wander in itself. I’ve been fortunate to visit lots of places, but there are plenty more I still want to see. The world may be on pause for now, but one day I know we’ll all be out there again. Until then, virtual wandering will have to do…


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

In Memoriam 9/11 – Ground Zero Memorial, New York City

It’s not Wednesday, I know, and this was originally posted as a Wednesday Wander. Yet it seemed fitting to share today, 19 years after that terrible moment when the world changed…

We had to go there. It didn’t seem right to be in New York and not visit the site of an event which has shaped the modern city, and much of the world, since it happened. And so this week my Wednesday Wander is to Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Centre attacks in New York.

I don’t think there are many of us who were alive at the time who don’t remember where they were on September 11, 2001, when those first terrible images of planes crashing into the World Trade Centre appeared on the television. It was an unprecedented moment, and one where the world changed forever. It was also an event where over 3000 people lost their lives, so it seemed appropriate that we go and pay our respects.

The gorgeous girl knew what had happened that day, though her exposure to images of the event has been very limited. So, after our trip to the Statue of Liberty, and a stop to see the Mighty Girl facing down the Charging Bull on Wall Street, we made our way to the memorial, on the site of the twin towers.

It is an extraordinary place to visit, and you can’t help but imagine how it must have been that day, the horrors that took place there. Yet, for all that, it is a place of overwhelming sorrow and peace, rather than anger and pain.

The footprint of both towers has been retained, marked by spectacular water features, the endlessly falling water marking the outlines of where the towers stood. Around the edges are the names of every single person who died there. We took a moment to read a few, to remember them as people who were just at work, or taking a routine flight cross-country, when disaster struck.

The gorgeous girl and I sat together for a little while, watching people walk around in the pale sunshine. ‘This is a sad place,’ she said, and I hugged her and agreed. It felt as though it was time to go. But, on our way out, we stopped to take a closer look at an extraordinary structure in one corner of the square.

This is the Oculus, the most expensive train station in the world, built to replace the World Trade Centre station which was destroyed in the attack. It is a building that has apparently divided New Yorkers, with some loving it and others hating it. To me, it felt triumphant, like some sort of fantastic bird rising from the ashes of sorrow. Inside it was spectacular, like a bright vision of the future. Quite appropriate, in such a place.

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


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Why Turning Fifty Is Something To Celebrate

In Denmark this past December. Almost fifty…

Earlier this year, I turned fifty. As I approached the milestone age, I wrote a few pieces about how I felt. About those I’ve known over the years who left too early, never to see fifty, or thirty, or even twenty. About how women ‘of a certain age’ are somehow meant to disappear from the narrative, and how I won’t be going quietly (or anywhere!). About how I’m Generation X, and we really don’t give a shit about boxes and being put in them – all we’ve ever tried to do is survive. About how life, which seems so long when you’re twenty, seems so much shorter when you’re fifty.

With Gaz from Supergrass after their London show in March – I had a very exciting birthday weekend (just before the world changed)…

But none of these pieces seemed to truly articulate what I felt. In the end, I didn’t publish any of them. And I discovered that what I really wanted to do, in fact, was celebrate. Celebrate the fact that I’ve lived through five decades on this tumultuous planet. I’ve done so much over these years, yet wish I’d done more. And I really don’t feel any different to that girl in her vinyl mini skirt and big boots who left home to follow love, even though there is as much time between her and I as there was between her and the day she came into the world. Only what you see in the mirror changes, really.

In London, aged twenty-five…

Time, more than ever, seems to slip through my fingers. And I realise there is so much more I want to do and experience. I know I am fortunate to have choice, to have love, and to experience wonder.

And so, in fifty years, this is (some of) what I’ve learned:

Life is short

Children grow more quickly than you can imagine

Opportunities and people come and go

So dance all the dances,

Sing all the songs

See all the things

Visit all the places

Tell all the stories

Hug all the hugs

Watch the sunset

Watch the sunrise

Count shooting stars

And never, ever be ashamed of your age

Life is a gift, and to be here for another year is something to celebrate

Follow your heart

Your dreams

The wind

And see where it takes you

There is so much more, still, to do

Life, as much as possible, is to be lived. So look to the stars, to the night sky, to your dreams. They are free, and no one can take them from you.

We are stardust, after all…


Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Wednesday Wander Revisited – Warwick Castle

This week, I’m wandering to a view that I’ve seen many times. It’s of an ancient castle, almost a thousand years old in parts – a place steeped in legend, where kings were made and battles fought, mysteries still hiding in its thick stone walls. This is Warwick Castle.

The original castle at Warwick was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror as part of his strategy to stamp his authority on the newly conquered country. It is situated along a bend of the storied River Avon and, until 1978, was still residence of the Earls of Warwick, the legendary Kingmakers.

Kings, Queens and assorted nobility have all stayed within its grey walls over the centuries, including Elizabeth I, Richard III and Queen Victoria. The castle has been painted by Canaletto, among others, and its collection of arms and armour is considered second only to that in the Tower of London. Hardly surprising, considered the many and varied wars fought on behalf of kings and queens by Warwicks over the years.

The castle is also home to one of the world’s largest working trebuchets, or siege engines. Eighteen metres tall and made of oak, it can fling projectiles as far as 300 metres. I have seen it in action and it is something to behold – it takes four men running in treadmills just to lift the counterweight!

Near to the castle is a lovely park I’ve often visited. It’s home to a funfair and mini golf, as well as lovely gardens and, down by the river, there is a place to picnic and fly kites. Water lilies float serene, as do the ducks and swans, and for a moment you could be anywhere, at any time.

On the edge of the park is a bridge across the river, where you can pause and take in the view to the castle. Set into the pavement is this plaque. I think I would have to agree. 🙂

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