30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Sixteen – Small Things

img_0791Today is day sixteen of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, and the prompt is: Small Things.

It’s been a funny old week with lots going on, and I’ve just realised that I forgot to take a Wednesday Wander! I’m think perhaps this blogging challenge has thrown me off course a little – I tend not to schedule posts ahead, instead writing them as they come to me, just as I’m doing right now. So to all my regular Wednesday Wander readers, I do apologise and, as I forgot to Wander on Wednesday, I’ll take a Wander today instead. I’m not going too far from where I live, but it’s a place where many many small things have been put together to create something wonderful. This week, I’m wandering to Legoland.

img_0797Legoland is located in Windsor, probably best known as home to the famous castle belonging to the Queen. Legoland is a little way out of the main town itself – built in 1996 on the former site of the Windsor Safari Park, it was the second in the world to be built, the first Legoland being in Denmark.

img_0793And it’s a pretty cool place. There are rides and a water park, and all the usual stuff you’d expect to find at a theme park. But there are also loads of intricate sculptures all over the park, all made of thousands of pieces of Lego.

img_0788Apparently, if you have a desire to become a Lego model builder, you need to spend a lot of time studying maths. There are a huge amount of calculations involved in designing prototype models, then scaling them up to full size. An interest in art and anatomy is helpful too. Plus a love of Lego, of course.

img_0799You can see from the people in the photos how large the models are in relation to us. And I think they are amazing. I don’t know whether I have the patience to become a Master Lego Builder, but I have huge respect for those who do. Another amazing thing was the view from Legoland, looking out across Windsor. You can see the castle sitting up on a mound, then, further beyond, the London skyline. Almost worth the visit just for that.

img_0781Thanks for coming on another Wednesday, I mean, Friday Wander with me! See you next time.

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

 

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Fifteen – Witness

IMG_1084It’s day fifteen, half way through the 30 Day Writing Challenge, and today’s prompt is: Witness

I’d had a little flicker of an Ambeth story running through my mind and it seemed to work with this prompt, the idea of the trees as silent witnesses being quite insistent. If you’ve read the books, you may recognise the incident described here – it was mentioned at the start of book three, though without much detail. But I felt it an important part of the story, nonetheless. Even though I’ve written Ambeth in third person, this story came to me in first person, as though Alma wanted me to tell it through her voice.

Tangled Woods

Walking through the park I pulled my scarf closer around my neck, hunching my shoulders against the cold. The wind flicked at my hair, red strands dancing in front of my eyes. I blinked, putting my head down as I kept going, the cold of the path coming through the soles of my sneakers.

My backpack was light but I felt it like a weight upon my back, similar to the one in my chest, an ever-present mass of loss and guilt and sorrow. As I passed two oak trees I flinched, moving further away and almost treading on a small dog who had somehow managed to get underfoot. ‘Sorry,’ I mumbled, stepping over it as it danced and leapt at my legs, paws sliding on my jeans.

Taking another path I headed through the centre of the park past a small café built of grey stone, a few hardy customers still sitting outside at the tables despite the chill in the air. The light was fading, the trees stretching leafless to a sullen purpling sky. It suited me, this weather. There was no light left in me anymore, warm days in sunlit woods and on golden beaches now distant memories too painful to revisit.

At the other side of the park a tall hedge bounded tangled woodland, beyond which the road ran. There were big houses hidden among the trees further along, but this little piece of wild wood was still part of the park. Not many people went in, choosing instead to stick to the well-marked paths and ornamental gardens, or the wide green expanses of grass. But I knew it well, my friends and I playing there when we were younger, emerging dusted with sweet-smelling hawthorn in spring, muddy and damp in autumn. But I was not there to play today.

At a gap in the hedge I turned, taking a muddy path into the woods. Pushing through branches I stepped over brambles, thorns catching at my jacket and hands, leaving faint red marks. I pushed away the memory of when I’d last been in a wood, choking down the terror that accompanied it. There was nothing that could harm me here except my own thoughts. Eventually the path ended in a small natural clearing sheltered by a beech tree. I knelt down, not caring about the mud, and unslung my pack from my back. Then I started digging.

My hands scraped through leaf mulch and soil, the damp grit of it catching beneath my nails as I scrabbled at the cold earth. Finally the hole was big enough. I sat back, wiping my hands on my jeans and leaving muddy streaks. My breath was starting to hitch in my chest, my vision to blur, but I had to do this. Unzipping my pack I took out a small bundle of cream coloured paper, rough edged, and another smaller silk bundle that jangled faintly in the darkening wood. I held them for a moment, then put them into the hole, dark crumbs of soil staining the cream paper, clotting on the coloured silk. All at once I became angry, red fury in me as I pushed and smashed at the dirt, wanting to cover the bundles beyond all finding. Then they were gone. I sobbed, my throat raw, tears dropping hot onto the cold leaves and tumbled earth as I rubbed at my wrist with my other hand, a small patch of red roughened skin a permanent reminder of all that I’d lost.

Eventually I stood, wiping my face, running hands through my hair. I was covered with mud but didn’t care. I just wanted to go home, to leave the trees that stood as silent witness to my pain. There were too many memories, still, in the woods. I wanted no more of them.

Pushing through the trees once more I found the path and started for home. Though my pack was now lighter, the weight was still the same. Perhaps it always would be.


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

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Fourteen – Home

IMG_1122It’s day fourteen of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, and today’s prompt is: Home.

I’ve been at home for most of today, which I’ve enjoyed. It’s a busy time of year and, as a bit of an introvert, home is where I go to recharge.

It’s also where I write. Even though I’m *supposed* to be sorting out Under Stone, the fourth Ambeth book, today I’ve been going through Silver and Black, my vampire novel. And I found this little passage that seems to fit the prompt quite well:

The sun is starting to slant towards the west, the blue sky striping with gold and red as I see the familiar gates of home. They are closed. F*ck. Of course they are. Locked and bolted too, I bet. I can’t climb them, either. I start to cry, the disappointment at being so close to home, yet unable to get in, overwhelming me. I cling to the wrought metal then sink down, my legs folding under me. I just can’t stand any more. Wrapping my arms around the metal I rest my head against it, waiting. I have no anti-feed left, so I’m basically a sitting duck. I can only hope the guards find me and realise who I am before they attack. The sky is a flaming bowl above me, the trees shading to purple against the red and gold and blue. It’s completely glorious, yet I feel nothing. It’s as though everything I had is gone from me, drained out by the night’s events and the day’s walk. I stare at the clouds, but I see nothing. Gradually, my head droops, and I slip into a doze.

A hand grabs my arms, squeezing tight so I wake up. ‘Ow!’ I squeal. The squeal becomes a scream as my arm is yanked upwards, pulling me with it, my shoulder twisting painfully.

‘Who are you?’ The guard on the other side of the gate snarls at me, his fingers digging into my arm.


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

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Thirteen – Forgotten

img_2260Forgotten.

It is a word of sorrow, of lost things. Memories, people, ideas, thoughts – to be forgotten is to disappear.

We search through the forgotten, trying to piece together the past. But the flickers of light that made it real have long since faded, and all we are left with are the shadows of moments, separated from us by distance and time.

Yet each moment, each event, each life lived has left their mark upon this world. Faint impressions like the brush of butterfly wings, or distant smoke, making you wonder if they were ever there at all.

And to remember, even for a moment, is to bring them back.

———————————————————————————————This is my response to today’s writing prompt, part of the 30 Day Writing Challenge.

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

30 Day Blog Challenge – Day Twelve – Out Of Control

dreaming-of-a-holidayIt’s day twelve of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, and today’s prompt is: Out Of Control.

And I have nothing. Nada. Bupkus. Zilch. I’m out. Christmas burnout? I’m not sure. I do have a lot of other ideas running around in my mind at the moment, but none of them really fit the brief. I did get a couple of sentences, a few flashes of idea, but nothing that really had legs.Wherever ideas come from isn’t sending anything new my way today.

Technical difficulties beyond my control – normal service to resume shortly.

Huh. Maybe I did have something, after all ;-D

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Eleven – Stars

img_1468It’s day eleven of the blogging challenge and today’s prompt is: stars. Which I completely forgot about while at the British Museum today – no doubt I could have found something wonderfully starry there to inspire me.

So instead I wrote a little piece of poetry, and here it is:

Opalescent path,

Sprinkled salt-like upon the sky.

Velvet black,

Smooth infinity

Spinning out into the depths

I dance

Among the stars.


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

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day 10 – Anywhere In The World

img_1931It’s day 10 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, and today’s prompt is: Anywhere in the world. 

Hmm. This prompt would have been better on a Wednesday, then I could have gone for a wander. However, it’s Saturday and once again it’s been a busy day, so I’ve decided to set myself a timer (ten minutes this time), put some music on and see what I come up with.

Okay, here goes:

‘Tell me, if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?’

‘Well, right here of course.’ I smiled, turning to look up at him. He nodded, looking into the distance. ‘What about you?’ I prompted him, my hand sliding on the warm skin of his arm wrapped around me.

‘Me? Oh, well, I’ve always fancied Italy, I guess. So, Italy.’

‘Oh.’

‘Oh what?’

His brow furrowed as he looked down at me. ‘Nothing,’ I said, shaking my head. I pushed away from him a little, sitting up, leaving the embrace of his arm. I started tidying away the picnic things, putting lids on jars, stacking the plates and cups, deliberately avoiding his gaze. F*cking Italy. Seriously?

‘What is it, babe?’ His hand landed on my hip and I moved, pointedly, away. ‘Oh, so I’m supposed to want the same things as you, all the time? What, you think this place, here, is the best place on earth to be?’

‘It was.’ I shrugged, still not looking at him, putting the rest of the things in the basket and letting the lid drop closed with a satisfying clunk. I sat back, kneeling on my heels, looking up at the pale sky. ‘Then again, if I think about it, maybe I’d rather be somewhere else too. Bali. Or Morocco. Somewhere warm, with beaches and dancing and… well. It doesn’t matter, I guess.’ I stood up, hefting the basket with one hand. ‘Shall we go?’

‘Babe, c’mon.’ He looked up at me, arms spread wide. ‘You know I want to be wherever you are.’

‘And Italy. Don’t forget Italy.’ My mouth was tight and I turned on my heel, walking to the car. Forget it. Why I even bothered with him, I wasn’t sure. I could feel the remnants of the picnic sliding around in the basket, all the carefully made sandwiches, the little baked quiches, cracked and squashed. Whatever. It didn’t matter. At that moment all I wanted was to be somewhere else.

Anywhere else on earth but here.

Well, there you go. You might think, reading that, that I’ve had a bit of a frustrating day. But it’s actually been quite nice. I don’t know where this picnicking couple came from, but I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. Maybe they’ll work things out, maybe they won’t…


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

 

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day 5 – This Road

img_3661It’s Day 5 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. I’ve been a bit short on time today, so I decided to set a timer and write this post, using the prompt: This Road.     I like writing to a timer – it’s a clear window of time in which I’m allowed to do nothing except write, and I find it a great way to get things moving if I’m stuck on a project.

I gave myself seven minutes (I told you, busy day), and this is what I came up with:

‘So is it this road? Or that road?’

‘I dunno. Bloody satnav.’ He tapped on it, hard, as though it might make the crossroads we sat at magically appear on the little screen. But all it showed was a single straight road going on to a dead end. The voice, like a robotic Eric Bana, kept repeating ‘You have reached your destination.’

‘No we bloody well haven’t!’ I shouted, frustrated by the calm Aussie twang. ‘For god’s sake, can we change the voice on that thing?’

‘Okay love, calm down. We can figure this out. Where did she say she was staying again?’

‘A farmhouse. Set back from the road, but she said when we got there we’d be able to see the driveway. But there’s no bloody driveway and it’s getting dark and I’ve no idea whether it’s this road or that road!’

‘Can you ring her?’

‘No signal.’ I waved my phone around in a futile attempt to pick up something, anything, but we might as well have been on Mars for all the coverage I was getting.

‘Right. Well. I’m going left.’

‘Left? Why left?’ I said as he turned the wheel, the car starting to swing around. ‘Oh for god’s sake!’ I shouted again, as Eric reminded us that we had reached our destination. I pushed the button on the top of the satnav then disconnected the suction cup from the windshield, resisting the temptation to throw the whole thing out the window.

‘Why not left?’ he replied. ‘Besides, we’ll hold up traffic if we sit here any longer.’

‘What traffic?’ I huffed. There was nothing to be seen but long fields and dark trees, silhouetted against a purpling sky. No ancient stone farmhouse, no welcoming light, nothing. We were lost.

It’s a little bit rough, but not too bad considering the time frame. As to whether they’ll ever get to their destination, I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll find out during another prompt…

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

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Four – Mirror

img_3257It’s day four of the 30 day writing challenge, and today’s prompt is: Mirror.

I had a few different thoughts about how to approach this prompt, but the lines from Tennyson’s Lady Of Shalott kept playing over and over in my head, and so I felt I needed to share them. These particular lines describe Sir Lancelot as he rode across the river running past the mysterious Lady’s tower, his beauty and song luring her from her loom to the window, whereupon she was cursed. The Lady had a mirror as well, a magical one that showed her all the sights of the world as she sat alone in her chambers – when the (unspecified) curse came upon her, it ‘crack’d from side to side.’ Seven years bad luck indeed!

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
       As he rode down from Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
‘Tirra lirra, tirra lirra:’
       Sang Sir Lancelot.
From ‘The Lady of Shalott’, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
While describing water as a crystal mirror these days can be seen (with apologies to Tennyson) as a rather over-used simile, I do think it apt. I love the effect of reflection on water, showing us another world in reverse. As above, so below. I’ve taken a few reflection photos in my wanders, so here are some more, courtesy of the ‘crystal mirror.’img_4273img_2093img_0150
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If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Three – Faces In The Street

It’s day three of the challenge, and today’s prompt is: Faces In The Street. This prompt is quite apropos, as I happened to be in London today – I love the city but find crowds overwhelming at times, so it’s always nice to return to the relative solitude of home. As it’s been quite a long day I decided to keep this post short and simple, with a haiku.

img_0076Faces in the street

A wave, breaking around me

Upon me, recedes.

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