Back From A Break

Hey everyone!

It’s been a few months. Well, almost nine months to the day, to be exact, since I went on my break. I’ve missed you all and, I must say, it’s nice to be back. However, I think things will be slightly different this time. One of the things that caused me to take a blogging break was the pressure of having a weekly commitment – my Wednesday Wander. While I loved writing and researching the posts, and they’ve been very popular, coming up with one every week as well as sorting and editing photos started to feel like a chore. So, while I’m still travelling and seeing new places, I won’t be posting about them every Wednesday, just every once in a while. However, I’ll still be doing all my other usual rambling, as well as sharing writing stuff and whatever else comes to mind 🙂

But the main reason I took a break was that I’ve been working on another book. Several books, if I’m honest. You may already be familiar with my Ambeth YA series or A Thousand Rooms, my standalone women’s contemporary fiction novel. These have all been independently published – I’ve worked with beta readers and editors and cover designers to make them as professional and high quality as possible, and the feedback I’ve received seems to show I’m hitting the mark. However, as much as I enjoy being an indie and the creative control that comes with it, I’ve also been pursuing a dream to be traditionally published alongside my indie works.

To that end, I decided to devote several months to a book I completed last year, called The Last Raven. It’s a book about vampires, so perhaps not so red-hot in the market at the moment. Nonetheless, I had some interest last year from two publishers, as well as a couple of near-misses with agents. Both publishers initially declined but have invited me to re-submit with changes, offering valuable feedback regarding structure, as well as letting me know what they liked about the story (a lot, as it turns out).

So I took my story and pulled it apart, turned it inside out, chopped and changed the structure, increasing the level of detail and building pace. To be fair, it needed it. The story was already good, but spending three months restructuring has taken it to the next level. It’s been a fantastic learning process for me as a writer, and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the insights I’ve learned on the blog. I also had a very promising meeting with an agent earlier this year – I’d initially approached her to assess my submission package, something you can do through the Bloomsbury Writers & Artists website. I wanted to know whether it was worth my going through the submission process again with the revised version of Last Raven, and whether there would be a market for it. As it turned out, she loved what she read and requested the full manuscript! It was a thrilling and enjoyable meeting for a lot of reasons – now I’m just waiting to hear what she thinks (and trying not to refresh my email every five minutes!)

As for the other books I’m working on, I have another YA series taking shape, as well as a non-fiction book about a health issue I encountered several years ago. Basically, after a season of editing, I’m back writing again. And so it seems as good a time as any to get back to blogging, too. After all, I don’t think I’d be the writer I am without this blog and all you lovely people out there.

When I started this blog back in 2014, it was originally going to be about my journey in writing, and what I learned along the way. Since then it’s grown and developed to become much more than that, chronicling my journey through the world. But my writing journey is still ongoing, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you again.

xx


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.

Oak And Mist – On Sale!

**SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE SALE**

In case you missed it in yesterday’s post

To celebrate the release of Under Stone, the fourth book in my Ambeth series, Oak and Mist, the first book in the series, is currently on sale until the end of January, for the rather cheeky price of 99p/99c in the Kindle store!

‘The end of everything? Great. No pressure then.’

Pushed between two trees at her local park, Alma finds herself in another world. Ambeth. Where a Palace gleams in green gardens by the sea, and the Balance of the worlds is held.

However, all is not as perfect as it seems. Three items are lost. A Sword, A Cup and a Crown. Light and Dark are embroiled in an ancient battle for control.

And both sides have been waiting for Alma to arrive…

So, if you’ve ever fancied taking a journey to Ambeth, now’s the time to start. Get your discounted e-book copy of Oak and Mist here.

But only till the end of January!


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, Under Stone (Ambeth Chronicles #4), is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

 

The Wheel Turns, and a Cover Reveal!

Today was the shortest day, the moment when the wheel of the year turns towards light again. In the old ways it was called Yule, and marked a time of hope, when a spark of light would be lit both symbolically and literally to celebrate the turning of the year.

I love this time of year. I love the sparkling lights on the houses and in the trees, the clear high sunsets and cold nights, the shimmer of frost and the crack of ice. I especially love the idea of hope, of change, of finding the spark within.

It’s interesting that the past week has seen a turning of the wheel in my own life as well. I now have a new plan for the year ahead, and am excited to get back to writing once more. So, to celebrate both the solstice and my rejuvenated writing plan, here is the cover for my next release, Under Stone, the fourth in my Ambeth Chronicles series!

I’m thrilled with the finished product, and think it goes very well with the others. Under Stone will be released very soon, and pre-release copies are available for review – please contact me if you’d like one.

Wishing you all a happy solstice!

Autumn Leaves and Winter Work

It’s Sunday evening. The sky is washed with eggshell shades fading to blue, my cheeks still tingling from being outside. The working week awaits… and yet, the working weekend has just finished.

I’m currently deep into the final edit and formatting of Under Stone, book four in my Ambeth series, with a view to publishing very soon. This last push has been accompanied by lining up some associated promotion and deals, so it’s been a very busy time of late (which has made me a not-very-good blogger at the moment).

That being said, you may have also noticed a couple of new things on my blog. One is the mailing list sign-up. If you do sign up, I promise not to inundate you. Rather, I’ll just send through a newsletter once in a while with publishing updates, sneak peeks at upcoming books, the occasional competition and a few other goodies.

The other new thing is a shiny badge proclaming me a member of the 2018 Bloggers Bash Committee. I agreed (was talked into) joining the committee at this year’s Bash, and I’m enjoying being part of the team! Watch this space (and my newsletter) for news about next year’s event.

And now it’s back to formatting once more. The sky is now dark, the nights drawing in early. I don’t mind though – autumn, and the lead up to Christmas, are my favourite times of the year. I love the cold air and crisp leaves underfoot, the sparkle of lights and Christmas songs, good food and warm jumpers, Halloween treats and Bonfire night.

Wishing you all a good week, wherever you are! 🙂

xx

 

 

Journey To Ambeth And Beyond…

Have you ever wondered why I decided to call my blog, `Journey To Ambeth’?

Ambeth is the fantasy world I created as part of my Ambeth Chronicles – however, when I started blogging a little over three years ago, the books were just drafts and I hadn’t published anything. A friend was starting a blog and I thought I might too – I saw it as a chance to write regularly, and to document a process that was new to me, as well as share anything I learned along the way. I remember hitting publish as I shared my first post, the fear and exhilaration that my words were out in the world for anyone to read.

My early posts were all about writing, in one way or another, and most of my early followers had something to sell. But eventually, I made real connections that have now developed into friendships I value greatly, despite the fact we may never actually meet. And when we do meet? You only have to read my Bloggers Bash posts to see how much fun we have, and how it feels like walking into a room of friends, rather than people I’ve never met before.

A journey indicates travel of some sort, moving from one place to another. Those places do not necessarily have to exist on a map for such a transition to take place. For me, the journey started as one of writing, but has evolved.

Now, of course, Ambeth is just one of the fantasy worlds I explore and my blog is about so much more than writing. It’s a place where I can share snippets of my days, interact with other bloggers, respond to writing prompts and of course travel, on my weekly Wednesday Wanders. But at its heart, it is still documenting a journey – thank you to all of you who have decided to travel with me.

Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend!


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.

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.

Oak And Mist Kindle Countdown Sale! Oct 16-20

oak-and-mist-final-coverHello everyone! Just a very quick little post to say that Oak and Mist (e-book only) will be discounted on Kindle in both the US and the UK from October 16th to October 20th, 2016! The deal starts at 99c or 99p, depending on where you are, so if you’ve thought about getting a copy, now’s your chance to do so.

‘The end of everything? Great, no pressure then.”

Pushed between two trees at her local park, Alma never expected to find another world. But Ambeth, where a palace gleams in green gardens by a wild sea, has been expecting her.

Now she has to find a lost sword or the consequences for humanity will be dire. With no idea where to look, despite help from her new friend Caleb, things get even more complicated when a handsome prince of the Dark seems to be interested in her. Add in some time-twisting, concerned parents and a battle between Light and Dark for control of a lost sword, and it’s enough to make any fifteen-year-old want to give up. But then she wouldn’t see Caleb any more. Or Deryck…

For your copy of Oak and Mist, book one of The Ambeth Chronicles, click here