A Coventry Win, And A Guardian Article – Happy Weekend!

If you’ve read my Author Bio, or my About page, you’ll know that I grew up in Coventry, England. My family have deep ties to the City and most of them still live there, so I visit often. When I returned to the UK in 2012, I spent my first six months back in the country living there again, only moving away due to my husband’s work. It’s a place that holds a lot of happy memories for me.

Coventry is also the real-world setting for my Ambeth books. Alma lives on my old street, and the Gate of Oak is in the Memorial Park, a place that has always held magic for me. It is telling that, when I sat down to write my first book, Coventry was the inspiration and starting point. It is a city I still hold close to my heart.

So, when Coventry was named 2021 UK City of Culture this past week, I was thrilled! I tweeted out my congratulations, adding that I thought it a well-deserved win. Less than an hour later, through the strange workings of Twitter, The Guardian newspaper had contacted me. Would I like to write a piece about the city and why I love it, they asked. Would I? I jumped at the chance, even though they needed it done that afternoon and I was at work – there was no way I was missing this opportunity.

I was given 700 words and a short brief – truly, I could have written double that amount – and feel I only touched on the many layers of history and culture the city holds. The article was approved, and is now live on the Guardian site, less than 24 hours after my original tweet. (If you’d like to read it, click here)

And that’s it! A wonderful, and quite unexpected, start to my weekend 🙂 Wishing you all a great weekend wherever you are and, #happywriting.

xx

Join Us on Twitter for #BlogBashChat!

HAVE YOU DISCOVERED THE #BLOGBASHCHAT TWITTER HOUR YET?

Every Sunday evening between 7pm and 8pm(BST) bloggers from across the globe unite and take part in the Bloggers Bash Blog Bash Chat using the hashtag #BlogBashChat

It’s an hour of introductions, learning, connecting with fellow bloggers, and fun. The Bash Chat following is growing and the engagement is incredible. One of our dedicated bloggers is Australian and gets up at 5am his time just to take part!

We don’t want you to miss out on this fun interaction. It’s just an hour out of your Sunday (which goes very fast!), but the possibility of finding answers to your blogging questions, making new friends, and discovering alternative blogs to follow is worth your time.

WHAT IS THE BASH?

If you’ve never attended a Blogger Bash event before then you’re in for a treat. Created by Sacha Black and aided by her intrepid committee of eight bloggers, the Bash is open to any blogger, regardless of age or niche. Previous events have included speakers, competitions, a panel, and attendees from all over the UK, Europe, the US, and Canada.

There will be an opportunity to network, eat cake, and meet some amazing online friends inperson! The event takes place in a single day, and you’ll be guaranteed a fantastic time and a sore face from all of the smiling you’ll do!

Timings and the exact breakdown of the day will be available closer to the event, but it will start mid-morning and end in the evening. We announce the winners of the Bloggers BashAwards, which you, the blogging public, vote for. You can see last year’s winners here.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Join your Blog Bash Chat host, Suzie and other members of the committee every Sunday on Twitter https://twitter.com/BloggersBash– don’t forget to use the hashtag! #BlogBashChat

NEW Bloggers Bash Website COMING SOON!

Wednesday Wander – California Dreaming

It’s a short Wednesday Wander this week. The sickness bug has returned and taken over the entire household, all of us wandering around miserably, wishing it would go away. We live inland now, quite far from the ocean, and I do notice the difference in that things seem to linger, no fresh breezes or salt air sweeping through to clear away the sickness miasma.

And so my mind has wandered. To a place where the air is balmy, fresh with salt and Pacific breezes sweeping off a blue ocean. Where palm trees dance and seafood is served crisp and hot, fresh from the boats.

These shots were all taken the day we arrived in San Francisco just over two years ago, after a week spent in Vancouver and Seattle. We were about to start the next leg of our journey, heading down the California coast for my brother’s wedding.

We’d arrived, weary after a whirwind week, but excited to meet up with the rest of the family, who were flying in later that day. We checked into our hotel, then went to find food, a local restaurant offering excellent coconut prawns and a water view the perfect antidote to the bustle of airports and luggage and taxis, setting the scene for a wonderful week to come.

And it was my favourite time of day, as well. Sunset, the sky and sea reflections of each other, colours blending above and below. As we strolled back along the water to our hotel, I remember the feeling of warmth, within and without, and of happiness to be somewhere so wonderful with my favourite people in the world.

So, as I feel so rotten this week, I’ve decided to wander back there again. Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

A Matter Of Punctuation

Earlier this year, as part of a flurry of competition entries, I entered A Thousand Rooms, my standalone women’s fiction novel, in the 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

It was a long shot. I knew that. One of the most respected independent book competitions around, the contest attracts thousands of entries from around the world. However, you can’t win the lottery if you don’t have a ticket, so I thought it might be worth a try. Another attraction was the fact that I would get, as part of my entry fee, feedback from the judge assigned to my title.

Well, I didn’t make the final shortlist. Oh well. However, I recently received my promised feedback and was very pleased. Feedback scores are ranked from 1 to 5, with 1 being ‘needs improvement’ and 5 being ‘outstanding.’

My scores were as follows:

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 4

Voice and Writing Style: 5

Furthermore, the judge offered the following comments:

I was really very excited when I discovered that the author has a fantastic writing style and a voice that is perfectly suited for the genre. This is a good book… I love this type of plot line and it certainly kept me entertained and turning the pages. The author has done a great job with strong, fast pacing that doesn’t lag. And an equally great job of realistic dialogue that also presents with a nix (sic) mix of dialogue and narrative. I wish that more authors would focus on this element when it comes to fiction writing. A nice, satisfying ending left me with a smile on my face. This was just simply a solid entry… Best of luck with this book and I hope to read more from this author.

I was very pleased with this feedback, as you can imagine.

However, I haven’t written this post just to sing my own praises 🙂 One of the things I lost marks on was spelling, punctuation and grammar. Now, I had this book professionally edited, so I doubt that spelling was an issue, unless the American judge didn’t like my use of colour, favour, etc. While they didn’t specify spelling as an issue, they did point out one specific issue they saw – my use of single quotation marks throughout the book, which they described as ‘incorrect and an unnecessary distraction.’

Incorrect? Not in this country. In fact, I’m currently reading The Essex Serpent, a British bestseller from last year, and the quotation marks throughout? Single.

Perhaps, had the judge realised I was a UK-based author, they may have been more lenient. However, it was a lesson to me, as a writer who sells books around the world, that I might want to reconsider my use of quotation marks. It’s a small thing, but it may have made the difference to my entry. (Or not, more than likely – I really don’t know).

So, not the end of the world. I received excellent feedback, and I learned a lesson. Not bad for a competition entry. And I thought I might share it with you.


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

 

Bloggers Bash Tickets – Now On Sale!!

THE BLOGGERS BASH IS BACK!

Now in its fourth year, the Annual Bloggers Bash returns bigger and better than ever. The venue is booked, and the committee is busy working behind the scenes to ensure the day is full of fun, learning opportunities, networking, and, of course, the blogtastic award ceremony.

Over the next few months, we will be sharing various posts about the award nominations, the attendees, our writing competition, and the other opportunities that will be available for those bloggers who attend.

To enjoy this day out in London surrounded by fellow bloggers, we suggest you sign up for the early bird tickets TODAY, so you don’t miss out.

TICKETS:

Early Bird Bash Ticket (available until 11th January) £20 pp

Standard Tickets (available until 3rd May) £25 pp

Late Entry Tickets (available between 4th – 18th May) £30 pp

Please take note of the small print: 

  • Tickets are non-refundable
  • Tickets are non-transferable
  • Tickets are limited on a first come first served basis
  • Cost of a ticket is for entry to the event only (not for food or anything else)
  • Those buying a ticket agree to comply with any health & safety rules set by the venue and to behave in a way that will not impact upon the enjoyment of other people
  • The Committee reserves the right to change the venue and/or agenda of the event
  • Payment for tickets via PayPal only.

WHAT IS THE BASH?

If you’ve never attended a Blogger Bash event before then you’re in for a treat. Created by Sacha Black and aided by her intrepid committee of eight bloggers, the Bash is open to any blogger, regardless of age or niche. Previous events have included speakers, competitions, a panel, and attendees from all over the UK, Europe, the US, and Canada.

There will be an opportunity to network, eat cake, and meet some amazing online friends in person! The event takes place in a single day, and you’ll be guaranteed a fantastic time and a sore face from all of the smiling you’ll do!

Timings and the exact breakdown of the day will be available closer to the event, but it will start mid-morning and end in the evening. We announce the winners of the Bloggers Bash Awards, which you, the blogging public, vote for. You can see last year’s winners here.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Join Sacha and the committee on our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/991165987611263/

You can also join us for our weekly Twitter Hour, every Sunday 7pm-8pm using the hashtag #BlogBashChat, or join in the conversation on Twitter by using the #BloggersBash hashtag.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO NOW?

1. BUY your ticket! https://wp.me/p885Ux-1Qc

2. Send us your blog name and link to annualbloggersbash@yahoo.co.uk so you can be added to our attendee’s post. (NB: if you don’t send this information you won’t be added).

3. Pop the date in the diary and tell the world you’re attending a fabulous blogger soiree.

4. Sort out your travel and accommodation.

5. Pack your bag, remember to bring business cards, throw in a notebook, and join us for a fantastic day of blogging fun.

NEW Bloggers Bash Website COMING SOON!

Bloggers Bash Venue Announcement!

Looking forward to next year’s Blogger’s Bash? In case you haven’t already seen the post, we have a date (May 19th), and we have a venue: The George IV in Chiswick, London!

Licenced since the 1770s, this charming pub is known for its excellent menu and comfortable surrounds, which make it the perfect venue for our upcoming Bash. Located close to transport links in leafy Chiswick, there is also plenty of accommodation nearby for anyone planning to make a weekend of it.

Address: 185 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick, London W4 2DR

Closest Tube Station: Turnham Green

Closest Overground: Kew Bridge

Nearby accommodation: 

Best Western Chiswick Palace and Suites, 71-73 Chiswick High Road

Premier Inn Chiswick, Hogarth roundabout, Axis House, Chiswick

Clayton Hotel Chiswick, 626 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick

WHAT IS THE BASH?

If you’ve never attended a Blogger Bash event before then you’re in for a treat. Created by Sacha Black and aided by her intrepid committee of eight bloggers, the Bash is open to any blogger, regardless of age or niche. Previous events have included speakers, competitions, a panel, and attendees from all over the UK, Europe, the US, and Canada.

There will be an opportunity to network, eat cake, and meet some amazing online friends in person! The event takes place in a single day, and you’ll be guaranteed a fantastic time and a sore face from all of the smiling that you’ll do!

Timings and the exact breakdown of the day will be available closer to the event, but it will start mid-morning and end in the evening. We announce the winners of the Bloggers Bash Awards, which you, the blogging public, vote for. You can see last year’s winners here.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Join Sacha and the committee on the website or on our Facebook page. You can also join us for our weekly Twitter Hour, every Sunday from 7pm-8pm using the hashtag #BlogBashChat, or join in the conversation on Twitter by using the #BloggersBash hashtag.

Wednesday Wander – Natural History Museum, London

It’s Wednesday and time to wander again. This week, I’m not travelling too far from home. I’m lucky enough to live very close to London and all that it holds, including some wonderful (and very famous) museums. This week, I’m wandering to the Natural History Museum, arguably one of the best known.

Situated in the heart of leafy Kensington, the Natural History Museum was opened in 1881, and is home to 80 million specimens from around the world, including those collected by Charles Darwin on his historic voyage. The origin of the museum can be traced back to the collection of Sir Hans Sloane, an Irish doctor who sold his collection of specimens to the British government in 1756.

This collection was first held in Montagu House, Bloomsbury, but was so poorly managed by subsequent staff members, including destroying specimens and losing labels, that much of it was lost. In 1856 a palaeontologist named Richard Owen was appointed superintendent of the museum – it was he who finally managed to bring order to the collection, and saw that a new, larger museum space was required.

While attractions such as the dinosaur skeletons and the earthquake room, where you can relive the Kobe earthquake as it happened, are a major pull for visitors, I happen to think the building itself is part of the museum’s allure. Designed by Alfred Waterhouse and inspired by his frequent visits to Europe, the terracotta tiled interior and exterior of the museum are crammed with carving and decoration, beautifully and intricately done.

Interestingly, the relief sculptures of flora and fauna are split into living and extinct species, with living species in the west wing, and extinct species in the east wing. This was at the request of Owen, and is seen as part of his rebuttal of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, which stated (in part) that living and extinct species are linked.

We have a family membership to the museum, so we visit quite often – even though admission is free, you have to pay to see the temporary exhibitions, and the pass lets us get in to those for free, as well as jump the queue for popular attractions like the dinosaur skeletons. It’s also a great way to support our wonderful museums, of course! The earthquake room is a particular favourite of the gorgeous girl, as is anything interactive where she can push buttons, listen to whale calls or create waves, among other things.

Dippy the Diplodocus was a feature in the main hall until recently, when he was replaced by a blue whale skeleton diving from the ornamental ceiling – quite an awesome sight! Dippy is now on tour around the country, and is apparently having a marvellous time…

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


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.