The Bloggers Bash – 2017!

Ali Isaac, Sherri Matthews and your truly

This time last week my bag was packed, my outfit chosen, and I was looking forward to attending another Bloggers Bash. I’d decided to stay over this year, as in previous years it all seemed to end too quickly, conversations cut short as the day flashed by.

And I’m so glad I did. The day dawned sunny and bright, and I headed into London on the train, getting off the Tube one stop early so I could walk through the streets to the hotel. As I came into Vincent Square I was greeted by the bucolic vista of the Westminster Boy’s School cricket ground (at least, I think that was what it was called) – hard to believe I was in the heart of London.

When I got to the hotel the first person I saw was Ali Isaac, my roommate for the night. And before our squeals of greeting were finished I saw Noelle from Sayling Away… After that it was a bit of a blur, seeing old friends from previous years, including Graeme Cumming, Lucy from Blondewritemore, Suzie from Suzie Speaks and Sue Vincent, who I hadn’t seen since the Silent Eye weekend I attended last September. I also met other bloggers for the first time, including Sally Cronin, Ellen Best, Elouise De Souza and the lovely Allie Potts – such a pleasure to turn digital conversations into real ones. And of course the rest of the committee – Hugh, Geoff and Sacha – I know I’m going to leave out some names so I do apologise. Let’s just say it was a fantastic crowd of bloggers from all over the world!

The day began with awards, then we were treated to the first of two masterclasses. This was presented by Suzie from Suzie Speaks, about how to monetize your blog. Her ideas were simple yet effective, and certainly gave me food for thought. Then Elena Peters, Canadian Pinterest queen extraordinaire, gave an inspiring class on how to use Pinterest in conjunction with your blog. Both classes were well worth the ticket asking price – in fact, I would have paid more to see both as they were so informative. More awards were given out, Lucy and I managed to sneak out for a lovely chatty lunch inΒ  a cafe down the road, there was a lively panel discussion and Ritu won Best Overal Blog (as well as baking a wonderful array of cakes for the event – where does she find the time!?)

All too soon it was over and people began to disperse. But, instead of being one of the people leaving, I checked into my lovely hotel room and returned to the lobby, where the rest of those who were staying had congregated. I had a chat with the wonderfully effervescent Susie Lindau, then a group of us wandered out into the warm evening to find dinner and continue the conversation, which lasted, one way or another, into the night.

Me, Allie Potts and Lucy Mitchell

The next morning, after breakfast, Ali and I checked out and walked to Victoria Station, where Ali went on to the airport and I took the Tube to Euston and then home, getting in around lunch time. It was over, for another year… I had the most fabulous time and can’t wait for the next one (June 9th, in case any of you are planning to attend). Congratulations to all the award winners!

PS I also saw Christoph Fischer, Icy Sedgewick, Shelley Wilson, Steve Tanham, Adam Dixon, Marjorie Mallon, Sherri Matthews, Jools Lawson, Lance Greenfield… Sorry, I know I’m forgetting people – it was such a fabulous crowd!


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

Mad March

I was a bit absent from blogland last month. I seem to be saying that a lot this year, mainly because my work situation has changed, but I was still finding time to check in every once in a while – at least until March came along.

But what a month it was! I can’t complain because it was wonderful. The first weekend happened to coincide with my birthday, and I decided to go to Paris with a dear friend just arrived from Australia. We had a marvellous time despite the rain and a delay on the Eurostar heading back – Paris is truly one of my favourite cities.

The next weekend was spent in London, a family wedding taking us into Shoreditch and to an ancient church for the ceremony. The old Courthouse, now a hotel, was home to family and friends for the weekend and it was an interesting place, the bar still featuring the old holding cells decorated with images of some of their most famous inmates.

The next week saw things return to a semblance of normality, though we were off again on Sunday to see family, then a snot monster descended and held me hostage for most of the following week. It did lead to some interesting writing, but was pretty awful for everything else.

However, I felt better once the weekend arrived, which was a good thing. It was Mothering Sunday and we’d decided to go on a family adventure, visiting Stonehenge on the Saturday and continuing on to the beautiful city of Bath for the night. We ate pizza, visited the ancient Roman baths and wandered the streets, taking in the sights. The weather was glorious, sunny spring days and clear nights, the warm golden stone of the city lit by fairy lights. I absolutely loved it.

And I’ve also been writing, finally finishing the edit for my fourth Ambeth book and sending it out for a second beta read. The responses are coming in now and are (thank goodness) mostly good – just a few small adjustments to make before it goes to the editor.

So I guess this is a long way of saying I’ve been away and now I’m back, looking forward to spending some time visiting in blogland again. Although I did sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo this month – what was I thinking…?

Happy weekend, everyone! xx


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

Navel-Gazing

IMG_1099It’s Monday. Monday means something a little different to me now that I’m back working regularly, rather than freelance. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different.

I’m still getting my new schedule sorted out though, so please do bear with me. I’m going to keep posting as much as I’m able to, though I’ll be writing a few posts in advance, rather than off the cuff as I usually do. This also means it might take me a little bit longer than usual to respond to comments. But I will respond – I love the conversations I get to have with everyone, and very much appreciate all your lovely comments.

I’ll also be doing my best to keep up with everyone’s blogs – I follow quite a few so have made a list and will check it twice, so to speak. So if you haven’t heard from me in a while, let me know.

Other than that, it’s still writing as usual, though I’ll be doing a bit more at night than I have been. Or perhaps early morning. I am more of a morning person, to be honest.

Right, before I descend too much further into navel-gazing I might sign off. Hope everyone in blogland is well, I’ll be back here again soon xx

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day 23 – Wrong Way

IMG_1099It’s day 23 of the 30 Day Challenge, and today’s prompt is: Wrong Way.

As there really is no wrong way to respond to these prompts, I’ve decided to post a quotation by Louis L’Amour:

We are, finally, all wanderers in search of knowledge. Most of us hold the dream of becoming something better than we are, something larger, richer, in some way more important to the world and ourselves. Too often, the way taken is the wrong way, with too much emphasis on what we want to have, rather than what we wish to become.

A little something to think about on a Friday πŸ™‚

As I’ve chosen to undertake this challenge, I’ll be blogging through to December 30th, then I might take a little break. Or I might not. You never know when the muse will strike. Happy Holidays, everyone!


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

Writers In The Attic, Friends Around The World

sometimes-all-you-need-is-a-friendToday I’m quite honoured to be visiting author Louise Allan’s blog, as part of her Writers in the Attic series. Please do pop over and take a look, and also check out some of the other writers featured in the series – each of them have a story to tell, whether it’s about how they came to be writers, what writing means to them, and how they approach the creative process.

In her introduction, Louise talks about the idea of penpals, and how our digital friendships fostered through blog posts and email are the modern equivalent – I would absolutely agree. Through messages, comments and emails, Louise and I have forged a friendship I value, and I know that one day, when we eventually meet, we’ll greet each other as old friends.

In fact, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to meet some wonderful friends through this site, with whom I might never have otherwise connected. And so I just wanted to say thank you.

Happy Monday, everyone πŸ™‚

 

An Author Event

img_4169I had an author event this past weekend. That sounds rather grand, doesn’t it? Three of Hertfordshire’s busiest libraries are running independent author events over the next six months, and the first one was this past Saturday, at St Albans Library.

When I arrived I was given a table on which to set up my books – there were five other authors as well, and it was interesting to meet them and discuss the different ways we had all approached self-publishing. Three of them had worked with printers to produce their work – the quality of illustration and the type of book they wanted to produce meant that this was the best option for them. The other three, myself included, had gone the Amazon/Createspace route, with varying degrees of success.

We discussed a lot, in fact – they were a great group of people and I was happy to meet all of them. We bought books from each other, talked about different kinds of social media, of how to find our desired audience, exchanged contact details and ideas. It was worth attending for that alone.

img_4172The event was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of sales. I think it’s great that libraries, certainly in my area, are starting to get behind independent authors, and I really appreciate their support. I’ll be doing one of the other events, and I’m looking forward to meeting more people there. However, it seemed there might have been some crossed wires with the promotion, as most of us spent our time talking to people who wanted to publish their own books, rather than purchase ours. I even had a lady sit down, pull out pen and paper, and ask me to take her through the process of publishing! Still, I did make a few sales, and I remembered how it was before I published, and the people who so generously shared their knowledge with me.

I don’t much enjoy public speaking, nor do I like being the centre of attention. However, I really enjoyed being part of this event. It made me realise that I don’t mind putting myself out there when it’s to talk about something I enjoy, and writing is definitely something I enjoy. In some ways, blogging has helped too – letting me put my words out there for an audience, and figuring out that maybe, I might have something to say. I’m planning on doing more events now, going out into the real world to find my reading audience, as well as trying to connect with them online.

So, I think the day might have been a success, after all. πŸ™‚

 

 

Oak And Mist on Sale, Plus Some Other Stuff!

Book One of The Ambeth Chronicles*trumpet fanfare* Oak and Mist is now on a Kindle Countdown Sale! For a limited time only, get your copy for the low price of 99c or 99p, depending where you are (e-book only, just so you know).

It’s been a funny old weekend. I posted about this yesterday – well, I meant to write a draft but published by accident, then took it down, then put it back up again. I also just discovered a whole bunch of comments, including a couple of reblogs, in my spam folder! They have been restored, and thanks to you all for commenting and sharing my work. Finally, I’d like to welcome some new followers to the blog – thanks so much for coming to visit and choosing to take the journey with me.

Right, I’m off to a family lunch now, the rain has cleared and I can even see a hint of blue sky. Wishing you all a blue sky happy Sunday wherever you are and, if you’re looking for something to read, Oak and Mist is on sale – yay!

Bloggers Bash 2017 – Part 2

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Boss Sacha holding court!

There have already been several great posts about the recent Bloggers Bash in London, held this past weekend. And I’m here to add my voice to all those saying, ‘What a fantastic day!’

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Luca during his presentation

First of all, congratulations to all the award winners, and huge thanks to the organising committee, Sacha Black, Geoff LePard, Ali Isaac and Hugh Roberts – your tireless efforts and excellent organisational skills created something completely wonderful.

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Sacha and Hugh handing out awards

I arrived early for the Bash to meet several bloggers at a pub near Euston Station, where we greeted each other like old friends. And it did feel that way. A lot of us remarked on the fact that, even though many of us were meeting in person for the first time, it was as though we all knew each other already through our interactions online. Of course, there were familiar faces from last year’s Bash, but plenty of new faces too, familiar to me only from their blogs. But nametags helped us to break the ice and, really,Β  it felt like walking into a room full of friends, rather than strangers.

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Me and Steve from Steve Says and Talk About Pop Music – we finally got to meet up!

So what else can I add? Food, drink and good company, plus a blogging/social media presentation by Automatic/Wordpress employee Luca, made for an afternoon that flew by all too quickly, and before we knew it we were saying our farewells, a last group of us heading out into damp streets before parting.

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Love this photo! Me and Suzie from Suzie Speaks

I arrived home worn out from a great day. And the next day I even felt a little hungover, even though I hadn’t really drunk anything. Rather, it was the languor that descends after a big day out, when you just want to sit and remember it all (although, having to be at a 9am dress rehearsal for my daughter’s dance show kind of got in the way of any relaxing!). Facebook is heaving with photos of the event, and the date for next year has already been announced – June 10, 2017 – so put it in your diaries!

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Lucy from BlondeWriteMore and Esther from Esther Newton Blog – I look a bit manic here because I couldn’t get my phone to work!

So who knows where we’ll meet up next year? Last year when we were in Pizza Express, The Royal Albert Hall was discussed as a possible venue, as was Buckingham Palace. Joking, of course. But the event is growing, and the difference between this year’s Bash and last year’s was easy to see. However, one thing remained the same. A group of people from all walks of life united under one common banner – blogging. And even though I didn’t get to speak with everyone there (which was a shame!), it was a wonderful way to share our passion for the written word.

Here’s to a wonderful Bloggers Bash 2016 – roll on next year! xx

Bloggers Bash, 2016 – Part 1

London skyline2Or perhaps I’d be more accurate to call this part ‘The Prologue.’ Because this is it, folks – less than twenty-four hours until bloggers assemble in London for the second annual Bloggers Bash!

Some are already there, travelling by plane and train to the capital, soaking up the London atmosphere and getting ready to mingle. Others, like me, with not so far to travel, are putting together final preparations, exchanging phone numbers and printing out itineraries, making sure we know just where to go. I’m sure there are nerves, outfits being prepared, and a lot of excitement at the thought of putting faces to the onscreen words.

I’m a little nervous, which I think is natural, but I’m also really looking forward to seeing some wonderful bloggers I met at last year’s bash, as well as making new connections. Festivities are due to kick off at 2pm sharp tomorrow (under pain of punishment by Sacha if we’re late), but a few of us are meeting up earlier, which will be a nice way to start the day.

And so it begins. Bloggers are coming, London – are you ready for us?

Tangled Thoughts

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Bleurgh. It is amazing how much a head cold/chest infection thingy can cloud the thinking. I had great plans this week for editing and writing and letters and submissions, not to mention a bit of exercise now that the weather is warming up. However, they have been overtaken by a desire to sit huddled under a blanket on the sofa as I mainline peppermint tea and crisps, trying to shake a nasty bug.

There seems to have been something in the blogosphere this past week – Lucy at BlondeWriteMore, Kristin at pursuitofanewadventure, Sue Vincent at The Daily Echo and Allie Potts were all struck down as well, making me wonder whether viruses travel through the web, digitised and sentient, searching for their next innocent blogger victim.

And this is what I mean by a woolly brain! What a thing to think. And yet, is there a story in it? This delirium thing might be useful after all… πŸ˜‰