A Season For Querying

A while back, inspired by a comment a fellow writer made, I wrote a post about how there are seasons in writing. A season for editing, a season for publishing, a season for drafting, etc. Much as fields are left fallow and crops rotated, concentrating on one aspect at a time of the writing journey is something I’ve found helpful when improving my craft.

All this is a long way of saying I’m about to start querying again. By that, I mean I have a shiny new book, beta-read and edited within an inch of its life, that I’m sending out to agents in the hope that one might take me on.

The querying season is one of varying weather, I’ve found. The spring-like hopefulness of the beginning, where days are brighter, the possibility of warmer weather lying ahead. This is how it feels when query letters are sent out, small birds leaving the nest, hoping to find their place. There are also stormy days and dark days when rejections roll in or, worse yet, your query is completely ignored, languishing unacknowledged in someone’s deleted file. And then there are brilliant days, when the sun shines bright and all seems well with the world, when you get personalised feedback, a request for more information, or even a request for the full manuscript.

I’ve weathered all those different days on my writing journey, and I’m still here. I think my latest book is one of the best I’ve written, and there are more stories from the same universe revealing themselves as I write. Not bad for something that started with a fragment of a dream.

This querying season, I’m hoping for more sunshine than clouds. I’ll keep you all posted πŸ™‚

Update: I wrote this post last week, after sending out my first batch of queries. And, sunshine already, I’ve already had a full request! Watch this space…

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Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus you’ll find my books on Amazon (and A Thousand Rooms is available from all good book retailers). Visit my Amazon Author Page or my website to see more.

*LAUNCH DAY* Light and Dark, Book Five of The Ambeth Chronicles

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written one of these posts!

But I’m thrilled to announce that today is the launch day for Light And Dark, the fifth instalment of The Ambeth Chronicles!!

β€˜So you are… the Child of Darkness?’
β€˜It looks that way,’ he said, β€˜and, as you are the Child of Light, it kind of makes sense that we do this together.’

 
Returning to Ambeth was always going to be difficult. Alma had brought them the Sword, and the Cup, but at what cost? There had been so much death, so much sorrow. But there was also love, her ties to Ambeth running deeper than she could have ever imagined. And now the skies were showing a dark star, his path coming to intercept hers as they moved towards the Crown.
 The board is set, the pieces in play, as the final game between Light and Dark begins.
 
But who will prevail?

If you’d like to read a sneak preview excerpt of the book, head here. Or you could simply pop over to Amazon and grab yourself a copy πŸ™‚

And, to celebrate the launch, Oak and Mist, the first book in the series, is on sale for a limited time only.* Today could be the perfect day to start your journey to Ambeth…

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

*sale price refers to e-book only, sale on from April 10, 2021 to April 12, 2021

A Wild Spirit

It is with sorrow that I write of the passing of Sue Vincent. I often say that blogging has changed my life, and that is absolutely true – what started as a little place to write about writing and whatever was on my mind became so much more, the friendships I’ve made here ones that will last a lifetime. Sue was one such friend. While I didn’t get to spend much time with her in the ‘real world’, I feel truly blessed to have known her. My heart goes out to Stuart, and her family, and all those who loved her.

Sue was someone who often seemed to be magic, a fairy dancing across the hills in dainty shoes and flowing skirts, while the rest of us trudged along behind her in hiking boots and wet-weather gear. Yet she was real, and down to earth, warm and generous and kind, and gave the most wonderful hugs.

When I first heard of her diagnosis, I wrote a post about it. You can read it here. But really, head over to her blog, or that of The Silent Eye, and read all the beautiful words she wrote from her heart, of life and magic and mystery and love, of gentle teachings and magical journeys through the landscape, and of course, the small dog.

She will be greatly missed.

The Soft Emptiness of a Liminal Place

A beautiful post from Alethea. Words from the heart.

The Light Behind the Story

Image by Adrian Campfield from Pixabay

I am already missing her and she is not wholly gone. When I search for her presence, I find the soft emptiness of the liminal place. Holding. Waiting. I don’t want to think about grief, again. A prolonged letting go that takes me on a journey to uncomfortable landscapes. We grasp at the tangible only to discover that we will eventually reach the cliff of letting go, not knowing when we will arrive there.

And sometimes there is no liminal place to linger.

It is a test to step into the space of soft uncertainty and feel the soul cocooned between the life and death of the temporary vessel. I do not want to think about pain and heartache. Those sitting beside her, holding the space. Holding her hand. I do not want to think of the labored breath before it breaks free. Pain…

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Light And Dark Cover Reveal!

That’s right, it’s cover reveal time! Light and Dark, the fifth book in my Ambeth Chronicles series, is thisclose to being launched, and here is the gorgeous cover. Of course, if you’ve subscribed to my newsletter, you’ll already have seen it πŸ˜‰

Light and Dark – Volume Five of The Ambeth Chronicles

β€˜So you are… the Child of Darkness?’
β€˜It looks that way,’ he said, β€˜and, as you are the Child of Light, it kind of makes sense that we do this together.’
Β 
Returning to Ambeth was always going to be difficult. Alma had brought them the Sword, and the Cup, but at what cost? There had been so much death, so much sorrow. But there was also love, her ties to Ambeth running deeper than she could have ever imagined. And now the skies were showing a dark star, his path coming to intercept hers as they moved towards the Crown.
Β 
The board is set, the pieces in play, as the final game between Light and Dark begins.
Β 
But who will prevail?

Light and Dark will be released on April 10, 2021. And in the meantime, if you’ve yet to start your Journey to Ambeth, check out Oak and Mist, the first book in the series:

Oak And Mist – Volume One of The Ambeth Chronicles

Take a journey to Ambeth, where time twists and a palace gleams in green gardens. Where Light and Dark hold the Balance of the worlds, and beauty is a birthright, not a gift.

However, appearances can be deceiving.

When Alma stumbles between two trees into Ambeth, she finds she has a choice to make. Three items are lost: A Cup, a Sword and a Crown. Light and Dark are embroiled in a struggle for control. And both sides have been waiting for Alma to arrive…

A hidden world. A family secret. And a choice. But how do you choose between your head and your heart?

My covers were designed by my talented brother, Rich Jones – he’s done all my covers and I think they look fab! Oh, and if you’re wondering about Book Six, the final instalment in the series? It’s half-way written, and I do know how the whole thing ends. My hope is to have it published by this time next year but, as always, I’ll keep you posted…

xx

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Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus you’ll find my books on Amazon (and A Thousand Rooms is available from all good book retailers). Visit my Amazon Author Page or my website to see more.

I See You

I see you my friend

In the green grass and the soft heather bloom

In the ancient stones and wild peaks

In the tumbling stream and the dark woods

I see you

In the scattered light upon the path

In the crouching hare in the long grass

In the turning wing of the hunting kite

I see you

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Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus you’ll find my books on Amazon (and A Thousand Rooms is available from all good book retailers). Visit my Amazon Author Page or my website to see more.

Light And Dark – A Sneak Peek of Book Five in The Ambeth Chronicles #amwriting

As you may or may not know, Light and Dark, the fifth instalment in my Ambeth series, will be coming out soon.

If you subscribe to my newsletter (and if you don’t, maybe check it out – it’s mostly dog photos, kindness, exclusive first-look book news and the occasional giveaway), you’ll have already read the following excerpt (as that’s what my subscribers get – sneak peeks before anyone else πŸ™‚ )

And if you haven’t read it yet, well, please enjoy…

β€˜Nice necklace, pretty boy.’
Deryck turned, frowning. He was near to the pillars that ran down the side of the Great Hall, the alcoves filled with people laughing and drinking. Something landed with a thud at his feet. He looked down to see a gauntlet of dark chain mail, jewelled with deep red stones. His frown deepened. He bent and picked it up, taking it to a nearby table and dropping it among the glasses and half-empty plates.
β€˜I think you dropped this?’ He kept his face deliberately tight; no smile, no fear, nothing to betray him. He had no desire to become prey.
β€˜Maybe I did, maybe it just fell.’ Simeon. Leader of the Dark Hunt. He sat, one arm along the back of the padded seat, his long dark hair around his face, half sneering, half smiling. His armour was jewelled and silvery black, like the gauntlet. β€˜And I asked you about your necklace.’
β€˜What about it?’ All at once Deryck didn’t care what they did to him. Besides, they knew who he was. He might be younger than they were, but his father would destroy them all if they harmed him. His sister had ridden with them, once, although the circumstances had been different. He tried not to think about that day, about Alma, a bright figure against dark green, running across the fields. Yes. Kill him, hunt him, whatever. He didn’t care anymore.
Simeon laughed. β€˜You just don’t see many of them, that’s all.’ When he smiled his face lit up, became friendly. β€˜So tell me, son of Denoris, do you ride? Do you hunt? Will you follow the moon with us?’
Deryck’s breath caught, his heart pounding, even against the stupor of his stone. These were the ritual words. They were asking him to join the Hunt. Once he was in there would be no turning back. The Hunt rode for the Dark if required, doling out punishment, as they’d tried to do that terrible day at the tournament. The rest of the time they rode for their own pleasure, dangerous and wild, flashing across the hills in pursuit of those unfortunate enough to be marked as prey. He still for the life of him had no idea how Alma had escaped them. He was glad she had. But to join them? Membership was for life, however long that might be. He raised an eyebrow.
β€˜Why me?’
Simeon laughed, as did the others at the table, all of them, men and women, similarly garbed in dark silver and red jewels, like smoke and blood. One of the young women, her dark hair in two long braids, leaned forward, her cleavage pressing against the deep V-neck of her top. β€˜Maybe we like pretty golden boys,’ she said, her voice husky. Deryck swallowed.
β€˜Or maybe that’s just you, Floria.’ Simeon shot her a glance and she sat back, pouting. He returned his focus to Deryck. β€˜I hear you’re a good rider, and we know you’re a vicious fighter. So, if you’re interested, come ride with us. No commitment necessary. Yet.’ He drew out the last word. β€˜What do you say? Shall we take you and your magic stone on a journey?’

Light and Dark – Volume Five of The Ambeth Chronicles
β€˜So you are… the Child of Darkness?’
β€˜It looks that way,’ he said, β€˜and, as you are the Child of Light, it kind of makes sense that we do this together.’
 
Returning to Ambeth was always going to be difficult. Alma had brought them the Sword, and the Cup, but at what cost? There had been so much death, so much sorrow. But there was also love, her ties to Ambeth running deeper than she could have ever imagined. And now the skies were showing a dark star, his path coming to intercept hers as they moved towards the Crown.
 
The board is set, the pieces in play, as the final game between Light and Dark begins.
 
But who will prevail?

COVER REVEAL AND LAUNCH DETAILS COMING SOON – WATCH THIS SPACE (OR SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER )

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Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,Β  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus you’ll find my books on Amazon (and A Thousand Rooms is available from all good book retailers). Visit my Amazon Author Page or my website to see more.

Of Letters And Words

I have a collection of letters in a drawer. Letters written to me by my husband in the early days of our romance, when he was travelling overseas and I was in Canada, before we decided to combine our lives. Others are small notes from my daughter, cards and scraps of paper, where she’s written lists of things she loves, or little messages to me. And, wonderfully, there is a letter from my grandmother, received many years after she died, when my uncle found it among her things and sent it to me.

All of them filled with stories. Stories of love and caring and growth and loss. Written in ink on paper in strong hands, curling hands, hesitant hands still learning their letters. Each one unutterably precious to me, releasing memories each time I read them.

One of my favourite books, A Venetian Affair, is a true story built from letters found in the attic of a crumbling palazzo, sent by the owner’s ancestor centuries before to the woman he loved but was unable to marry. History is built on accounts of events from those who were there, but also on the smaller stories found in letters and diaries, details of everyday life that give us a more complete picture of how our forebears lived. Consider how many civilisations are lost to us, simply because their words are lost. The Great Library of Alexandria was partially burned by Julius Caesar, then lost to decline and the rise of Christianity. Spanish missionaries burned priceless Mayan texts, considering them to be un-Christian. The oral traditions of the bards of this island were almost lost, until someone wrote them down. Even so, what remains is only a partial picture of what was. Words are important.

But now we live in a digital age. We have mostly lost the joy of receiving a note from afar, of coloured stamps and spice-scented notepaper, of bright ink on a pale translucent page. Letters have become emails, notes and invitations text messages. Experiences, memories and emotions all swirl through a digital forest of words, deleted, edited, lost forever. Will our descendants be able to comb through these words to find out who we are? Or will we just be known as the Plastic Age, our lives pieced together from packaging slogans and shopping bags from landfill? We are better than that, surely.

Of course, people do still write letters and send cards and keep diaries. But so much of what we write is online these days, including this blog. And we cannot keep chopping down forests to use as shopping lists or toilet tissue or yesterday’s news. But we can choose recycled paper and vintage note sets, or recycle old Christmas and birthday cards into notepads so they can be born again. So make your mark on the page, share your words, write a note to someone you love, or hate. Splash ink and pencil shavings and sealing wax, tie it with a ribbon, stick on a stamp.

But don’t let our words be lost.

Getting there!

The Triad of Albion, the story of Don and Wen and their adventures in the landscape, are now updated and live on Amazon. I’ve been fortunate to spend several magical weekends with Sue and Stu, and they truly do dance between the worlds, stitching threads between the landscape and sky, between mystery and spirit…

France & Vincent

Well, at last! The three books of the Triad of Albion are now live, in paperback and for Kindle… and illustrated in black and white, which finally takes the printing costs, and therefore the sales price, down to a sensible level. It has been bugging us for years… but we have been so busy writing books, that re-writing, redesigning and re-issuing seemed to slip a bit far down the line.

But there is nothing like a deadline to get you moving. Especially when it appears to be a pretty literal one…

In these first three books, Don and Wen stumble across mysteries in the landscape, following the flight of birds along prehistoric pathways to find strange stories hidden in plain sight upon the walls of mediaeval churches. Doors open through time and vision as the two friends find themselves walking the Living Land with people from the far-distant past.

These…

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A Tale Of Two Birthdays

I’ve just had a birthday. It was a quiet one, of course – the day spent at home, gifts arriving via post and email, birthday messages virtual for the most part. I was lucky, nonetheless, to hear from so many people, and to have immediate family with whom to spend it. It was very different, though, to how things were a year ago. I had a big number birthday last year, and celebrated via a pub lunch with extended family in a crowded restaurant, then by watching Supergrass at the Alexandra Palace that evening. My parents stayed over for the weekend and, the following evening, we all went to the Royal Albert Hall to watch my daughter dancing in the Schools Spectacular. A wonderful, yet fairly normal weekend… then. Now? Unthinkable.

A lot of people were happy to see the end of 2020, and I understand that. For me, however, the turning of the year was tinged with sadness, as 2020 was the last year of the old days, when things were as they used to be. Our world wasn’t perfect – the fact that pollution decreased so dramatically in the first few months of lockdown was an indication that we really needed to stop moving – but it seemed bright, compared to the narrowness of our current existence.

The first lockdown, coming only a week or so after my big birthday weekend, was a shock to the system. Spring was already making an appearance, the weather turning. April and May were glorious with blossom and sunshine, there were rainbows in every house window, and more bees and butterflies than I remember seeing for years. But it was a frightening time as well, none of us sure what would happen next. I was paralysed creatively for the first few weeks, unable to unlock my writing until I joined a virtual Camp NaNo cabin. Yeast took up residence on the back of my hands thanks to the sourdough I tried to ferment, and I confess I did worry a bit about loo roll. I still remember my first trip to the supermarket a few weeks after lockdown (we’d managed to get deliveries until then). I stepped out of the car and it was like a new world, as though I’d never been outside before; the sky gold and purple, the trees heavy with white blossom, the car park almost empty.

Now we are a year into rolling lockdowns. Over 120,000 people in the UK have lost their lives to Covid, and over 2 million people world-wide. It has been an extraordinary year of grief and loss and scientific discovery, a year that will be written into the history books, and that our grandchildren will ask us about. The UK has been working hard to roll out vaccines, and there is hope that all restrictions will be lifted by the summer.

And, the day after my birthday, I received a text inviting me to book my own vaccination appointment. I’m booked in for next Tuesday, for the first of two doses.

Last year, my birthday was a flash of light, a last gasp of the old world. This year it is the first light of hope, of us moving forward towards a brighter future, of life and love and seeing family and friends once more. That’s a pretty great gift, I think.

————————————————————————————————————–Enjoyed this post? Want to read more? Find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,Β  Facebook, 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.