Book Of The Month – A Thousand Rooms – by Helen Jones @AuthorHelenJ

It’s the first day of the new year and what better way to start than as a featured guest over at Hugh’s Views and News! Hugh has chosen my book, A Thousand Rooms, as his book of the month (yay!), and so I dropped by to talk a little more about the story. Thanks for having me, Hugh!
And, as a reminder, if you like short stories with bite, check out Hugh’s new release, Glimpses. He’s even running a giveaway for an Amazon £100 Gift Card! Visit his site for more details…

Hugh's Views & News  

A very warm welcome to Helen Jones whose book, A Thousand Rooms, is this month’s book of the month.

Over to you, Helen…

Well, I must say I’m completely thrilled to have been invited over to Hugh’s blog. It’s lovely to be he– what’s that, Hugh? 

Right, of course. I’m here to talk about my latest release, A Thousand Rooms, which Hugh has very kindly chosen as his ‘Book Recommendation of the Month.’

What’s the name of the book?

A Thousand Rooms.

Helen Jones's latest book - A Thousand Rooms The latest book from Helen Jones – A Thousand Rooms

Tell us a little about the story and the characters.

It’s centred around the main protagonist, Katie. She’s thirty-two, single, and used to work in advertising. She’s also dead. Hit by a car while texting, now left to wander the streets of Sydney alone, a lost soul. No angels appear, no long-lost loved ones – everything is just how it…

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Wishing Everyone A Happy New Year!

This was the first dawn of 2016...
Photo taken on the first dawn of 2016…

It’s the last day of the year and so, as is tradition, I’m taking a look back at my blogging year. Oh, I won’t be sharing stats or anything like that – rather, just revisiting some popular posts and summing up my 2016 blogging experience.

For it has been an experience indeed! This year I’ve met some wonderful new bloggers, many of whom have chosen to follow Journey to Ambeth. Thank you to everyone who decided to take the journey with me – your comments and input are so very appreciated.

I also released two new books this year; Hills And Valleys, the third in my Ambeth series, and A Thousand Rooms, a standalone novel. I was amazed by the support of the blogging community, who shared, commented and reblogged, helping me to reach an even larger audience. Thank you so much!

In June I attended the second annual Bloggers Bash in London. I’d attended the original Bash in 2015, where we’d all bonded over lunch in Pizza Express before heading to a local pub. This year we had a room to ourselves in (another) rather nice pub, more than double the number of attendees than the previous year, and the charming Luca from WordPress giving a talk about blogging. I reconnected with old blogging friends and met new blogging friends, as well as being nominated for an award. (I didn’t win, but it was awesome just to be nominated!) Here’s to the the 2017 Bash – can’t wait!

In September I spent a magical weekend in the hills with Sue from The Daily Echo, then November saw an evening of laughter, magic and writing talk with the fabulous Suzie from Suzie Speaks, Lucy from Blondewritemore and Sacha Black. To say that blogging has changed my life would not be an exaggeration – I’ve made some truly wonderful friends and really enjoy being part of such a wonderful online community.

So, as the year winds to a close, here are the ten posts that seemed to resonate most with readers:

Memory Box – I wrote this post way back in January, about a chance discovery during a new year house clean.

Stuck Writing Your Author Bio? Try The (Totally Not Serious) Author Bio Generator – Probably my most popular post of the year, I wrote this as a bit of a piss-take after reading several rather, shall we say, overwrought author bios. However, turns out the Author Bio Generator actually works! Try it and see…

Thinking Aloud – this post was a close second to being most popular, and was written as a response to the idea that, as artists, we should be happy to work for free to gain ‘exposure.’

Hills and Valleys – New Release – self-explanatory, really. However, a very popular post, for which I’m extremely grateful.

Old Meets New, With Bonus Orb – this is one of those posts that just keeps on going. I think I had someone like it just the other day. It was written after a trip to London with a friend, where we were struck by the juxtaposition of architecture in the oldest part of the city. More fun than it sounds, I promise!

What Happens Next? – This post was inspired by a comment Craig Boyack made on one of my Thursday Door posts. He started a story based on my photograph, I wrote a short response, he kept going, then we decided to open it up to everyone. The resulting story was published, in all its glory, in the follow-up post The Crypt – Completed.

Circles Beyond Time – Arrival. This was the first post in my series about a weekend away in the Peak District with the Silent Eye. It was an extraordinary weekend for many reasons…

When The Forest Calls – this was a rambling, stream-of-consciousness sort of post. I’d had a day of doing this and that, but was trying to decide what to write about. And the forest was calling…

Published! A Thousand Rooms – one of the most popular posts for the year, and I’m so grateful to everyone who shared it around.

Under The Moon – this was one of Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompts, and I wrote a piece of prose about a woman and her dream under a full moon. Or was it a dream…?

Wishing each and every one of you a healthy, happy and bright new year – may 2017 bring us all that we wish for! Looking forward to seeing you all in blogland and beyond…  xx


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 Eighteen – Warning

IMG_2263It’s day eighteen of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, and today’s prompt is: Warning. When I read the prompt it made me think of the weather and how quickly it can change – in Melbourne they say you can experience all four seasons in one day, and when I lived there I soon learned to carry a cardigan, umbrella and sunglasses at all times.

So my response to the prompt is a cascade poem, and here it is:

Rain Dancer

Without warning

The weather changed

As we ran for cover

 

There were rumbles

From the west; clouds gathering

Without warning

 

Rain pelting down

Dark spots on bright cotton

The weather changed

 

She danced, arms wide

Rain cool on sun-warmed skin

As we ran for cover.


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 Eight – Shoes

IMG_2947Shoes. That’s right, today’s prompt is shoes. I love shoes. I used to sell them years ago, working for a handsome Frenchman selling high priced Italian shoes at a Vancouver store. There were several young women working there, all of us expected to project a high fashion image on a shoestring budget, the shoes we wore to work often worth a week’s wages.

The shoe shop was something of a mad place to work. Because of the fabulous nature of the shoes, it became a bit of a scene, models and local rock stars dropping in, movie and television actors making the occasional appearance. On one occasion, a man with a baby boa constrictor came into the store to hang out, the snake wrapped around his forearm. We all got to stroke her, her flickering tongue tasting the air as we ran fingers along her smooth warm scales. Another time a woman left us some chocolates and we eagerly dug in, gobbling coffee beans coated in white, milk and dark chocolate, crunchy and delicious. When the caffeine kicked in it was with such ferocity we wondered whether they’d been spiked, running around the store in a panic shrieking until it wore off. And yet another time, bored, we were dancing, until the phone rang. It was the boys in the Timberland shop across the road, calling to compliment us on our moves.

If it wasn’t for shoes I wouldn’t have met my husband. I and one of my fellow shoe co-workers, an Australian girl, became great friends, bonding over Luxy’s pasta, cheap wine and Ab Fab on a Monday night after work, dancing in clubs and shopping together. Then she decided to head up to Whistler for a season, working at the resort. We stayed in touch and, one weekend, she invited me up for a visit. ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘you should meet my new roommate. He’d be perfect for you.’ Turns out he was.

Shoes are also a big part of my latest release, A Thousand Rooms. The red shoes on the cover play a symbolic role throughout the book, with one reviewer commenting ‘they connect the story right the way through and come to feel like a character themselves.‘ As for the image, I bought the shoes on Ebay and took the photo myself – sadly, they’re a size four, so far too small for me. Still, they’re pretty to look at.

I’ll finish this post on shoes with a little piece of flash fiction I wrote a few months ago in response to one of Esther Newton’s writing challenges . If you haven’t been to Esther’s site, head over – she runs lots of fun challenges and competitions, as well as sharing writing markets and opportunities. (She also edited A Thousand Rooms for me – thanks, Esther!) The challenge in this instance was to write a 150 word story featuring the phrase ‘It was a matter of life and death.’ Of course I thought of shoes. Of course.

Well Heeled

It was a matter of life or death.

Well, socially, at least. The shoes glittered as they turned on the little pedestal, faceted stones catching the light, smooth leather straps gleaming.

They were gorgeous. And far too expensive. But she could think of so many places to wear them, now that she was moving with a new crowd. And she really needed to keep up.

She bit her lip. So she’d have to eat baked beans for a month. She’d probably lose weight anyway, always a bonus. Binky had grabbed her round the hips the other day, squeezing and shrieking with laughter. ‘Oh darling, are you sure you want another profiterole?’ She had joined in with the laughter, blushing as chocolate oozed soft on her fingers, wishing she could throw it into their smirking faces.

Decision made, she picked up the shoes.

‘Do you have these in a size six?’

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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.

 

 

A Thousand Rooms Author Interview

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you may be aware that I recently published my fourth novel, A Thousand Rooms. Shortly after I published it I was contacted by author Margarita Morris, who had read and reviewed the book, describing it as ‘sharp, funny and poignant,’ and ‘a joy to read.’ Wow. Thank you – high praise indeed!

Margarita wondered if I’d like to be interviewed on her website – I was very happy to accept, and the interview is live today. Here’s the link:

Author Interview with Helen Jones

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Margarita for her support!

 

How Does Your NaNo Grow?

img_0016It’s the first week of November and, for many of you out there, it’s also the first week of this year’s NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. (For those of you who don’t know, November is the month when writers around the world challenge themselves to write 50,000 words, or the best part of a novel,  in thirty days). I tackled the NaNo monster in 2014 – I had an idea, a little bit of time, and it seemed a good way to get started. I’d just begun blogging, so only wrote a couple of posts about the process (at the time I posted once a week). So I thought I’d take a look back and see how it went…

From A Month Without Ambeth, published November 8, 2014:

This month I’ve had to focus on a new book. It is November, National Novel Writing Month and I, along with millions of other writers around the world, am taking the challenge to write 50,000 words in one month. I must say I wasn’t sure, when I signed up, that I would be able to do it. 50,000 words seemed like an awful lot to complete in thirty days. I wondered whether they had to actually be in any sort of order, whether just typing out 50,000 unconnected words would count, you know, if I came down with a massive case of writer’s block and was unable to think of anything. I had visions of my family peering wide-eyed around the study door at me as I hacked away, wild haired and red eyed, desperate to finish. But so far, touch wood, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. I’m about 20,000 words into my novel, working up an idea I’ve had for a little while, and I’m really enjoying the story.

I wrote this at the start of the month, when I was still a bit starry eyed about the process – believe me, the sailing became less smooth towards the end of the month. However, I did reach the 50k target – then I closed the manuscript down, as I couldn’t bear to look at it any longer. I wrote a follow up post about the experience, and I do still think it rings true…

From Into The Woods Once More, published December 5, 2014

I hit my 50,000 words with a few days to spare and managed to write a few blogs as well. My family were kept clothed and fed, my house (reasonably) tidy and I even did a few small client pieces. At the time it really didn’t seem strange to sit down and bang out 2,000 words a day, images and conversations from my story coming to me so quickly it became a race to get them on the page.

But now I can’t look at it at all. It’s not that I don’t love the story I wrote – I do, and I believe once it’s finished it will be a fairly decent piece of writing. But it was as though when I hit the 50,000 word mark, whatever was feeding me the story switched off in my brain, and I didn’t want to know about it any more. I did print out some pages from it in a half-hearted effort to start an edit, but I put them down after a few minutes. I guess what I’m saying is that NaNo was a more profound experience than I’d considered it to be at the time, and I’m being shown I need time to step back and recover before I revisit the story again…

…NaNo forces us to be writers, meaning that during the challenge we have to find the time to write every day whether we want to or not. But on further reflection I think it can also mean that NaNo forces our brains to think like writers. Personally, in the last month I feel as though I’ve made huge progress in my comprehension of what works on the page. … It was as though writing so quickly and intensely for a month had changed the way I see my work for the better. It reminded me of a time many years ago when I was training for my black belt. I was at the dojo six days a week doing teaching hours and extra classes (all around my university work). After a while of training at this intensity the movements become second nature, fights slowing down so you can see the next move, everything crystal clear. It seems to me that NaNo works in a similar way – that the act of writing a huge amount of copy every day is like intensity training for the mind, leading us towards a place of effortless effort where the story becomes clear.

As it turned out, that story did lead somewhere. It became my latest book,       A Thousand Rooms. It took me another two years to iron out the creases, replace placeholder sentences with actual scenes, have it beta read, edited, then go through the whole publishing process. And it’s a story I’m quite pleased with, if I’m allowed to say that about my own work.

img_3731So, why am I sharing this? I guess it’s because I always think about NaNo at this time of year and, having just published the proceeds of my first attempt, it seems appropriate to look back at the process. So if you’re out there battling the monster, just keep writing. Even if you reach the end of the month short of the 50k target, you’ll still have words written down. And you never know, it could be the start of something magical.