A Season For Writing

I’ve recently, after months spent editing and tweaking my vampire novel, started a new WIP. I felt a bit rusty at first, a bit unsure. I knew I could write books, but actually doing so, letting the story pull me along, was something I hadn’t done for a while. So I started slowly, trying not to force it, trying to remember how it felt to let things just flow instead of agonising over each sentence.

A blogger friend once wrote about there being seasons in writing. A season for editing, a season for planning, a season for writing. This resonated with me (well, not so much the planning part, as I’m a dedicated Pantser, but certainly the rest of it). It seems as though I’ve been just come out of very long season of editing and submitting, the wheel swinging around to writing again. I’m very happy about it.

Another blogger friend said recently, and I’m paraphrasing slightly, that I’m at my best when I’m writing. And maybe she’s right. I certainly enjoy creating – there really is nothing like the fire and excitement of a first draft, when the words just flow from my fingers, the story unfurling in my mind. I tend not to write scenes in any particular order – I just start with an idea and see where it takes me, enjoying the revelations that come with each scene, the puzzle of knitting all the threads together.

Way, way back, at the very beginning of my blogging days, I wrote about unearthing stories. This idea was based upon something Stephen King wrote in ‘On Writing’. He described finding stories as ‘unearthing a fossil,’ and, as soon as I read those words, I could see mine. This is what I wrote back in 2014:

Can still see them, poking out from the forest floor, delicate carapaces of bone or polished wood, it’s hard to tell as I unearth even more of them. One is almost clear of the ground, the story complete, just a bit of polishing required. The others are still offering up new discoveries, new aspects every time I look at them, whether it is a change of only a few words or a whole new idea. But the important thing is that I keep looking at them, keep exploring the angles, the nooks and crevices, until the job is done, the story told.

I’ve unearthed quite a few more since that original post, with five books now published and one more written, but the lovely thing is that I’m still finding them. My new WIP is set on the California coast just near Monterey, and I swear I feel as though I’ve been there just from writing about it; I can almost feel the California sunshine.

That’s the beauty of both reading and writing, I suppose – when this world seems a bit too much, we can escape somewhere else. I’m glad this season has taken me back to California – wonder where it will take me next?

How about you? Do you find your writing also falls into different ‘seasons’? Or do you work on everything at once?


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.

Wednesday Wandering…

It’s Wednesday again.

This is usually the time of the week when I go on a Wander. However, this week I’ve not had the chance to do my usual hunt for photos and research, despite (or perhaps because of) being out for a wander yesterday.

My Wednesday Wander posts take a bit of work. I enjoy doing them, and haven’t yet run out of places to feature. However, I’ve had a couple of books take me by the throat and demand I write them, so this year my focus will have to shift slightly when it comes to writing.

I do have more travel booked, a holiday planned for April to somewhere I’ve not been before, so I will definitely be writing more Wanders. However, they may not be every week – I hope you don’t mind.

I thought I’d take a look back and see how many Wanders I’ve written since the first post in November 2015, and was surprised to see there are 92! So, if you’re feeling that you might need a bit of a travel fix, there are 92 destinations right here on this blog, from Paris to Morocco, California to Wales. I even went to Dragonstone last year (though the Targaryens weren’t in, sadly). Just search Wednesday Wander, and you’ll see them all.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering (wandering?), my most popular post, based upon the amount of comments and likes, was to a place not far from where I live. Highgate Cemetery, London, is the most popular Wander I’ve written to date – hop on over and check it out, if you haven’t already.

Thanks for coming on so many Wednesday Wanders with me – see you next time!


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.

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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.

Wednesday Wander – 17 Mile Drive, Monterey

This week I’m wandering to sunny California, and to a stretch of road known as 17 Mile Drive. It runs along the coast of the Monterey Peninsula, a small outcrop of land first mapped by Spanish explorers in 1602.

The road was laid out by a consortium of railroad barons, who purchased the land in the late 1800s and built the Hotel Del Monte. The drive was intended for use by hotel guests, taking in the scenic coastline and clear waters of Monterey Bay. It passed by forest and beaches, past landmarks such as the Lone Cypress and Bird Rock, joining up with Highway 1 to head further south. That was the route we were taking, heading down to Cambria after spending a night in Monterey, on our way to a family wedding.

It was a glorious sunny day, and we stopped several times to look around, amused by the small creatures that looked like a cross between a gopher and a squirrel, perched on the rocks.

We passed some lovely houses, mostly built in variations of a grand Victorian style, all with large windows looking out to sea. Pebble Beach is an exclusive gated community and home to the world famous Pebble Beach golf course, so that affluence can be seen in the waterfront homes along the way. However, I didn’t take any photos of the houses, choosing to focus instead on the lovely views of Monterey Bay.

In the distance you could just see the tips of the kelp forests floating on the surface, home to sea otters and other marine wildlife. We kept stopping to get out, taking photos and foraging for beach finds in the clear blue rockpools. However, we had somewhere to be and couldn’t linger too long, so we left our shells where we found them and hit the road once more.

As 17 Mile Drive joined Highway 1 we picked up speed, heading south along the spectacular California Coast. But that’s another Wednesday Wander. Thanks for coming on this one 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.

Wednesday Wander – Monterey, California

This week I’m wandering along the California coast line, to the town of Monterey. Almost half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Monterey has been a fishing village and cannery, both the Mexican and the Spanish capital of Alta California (during the Mexican-American war), the only point of entry for taxable goods in California, the place where a guitar god created his legend (Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop), home to California’s first theater, the backdrop to a Star Trek movie, and, nowadays, a popular tourist destination.

Monterey is set on a coastline teeming with wildlife, where you can watch sea otters and dolphins as you eat breakfast, the clear blue waters home to sharks, shellfish and delicate kelp forests. Ancient shell middens found along the coast speak of a rich hunter gatherer culture before Spanish settlement, the Rumsen Ohlone tribe hunting and fishing the plentiful waters .

I’ve been to Monterey twice – once in 1985 and once in 2015, almost thirty years later to the day. And it doesn’t seem to have changed much in that time, at least as far as I can remember. The famous aquarium is still the same, as are the charming streets. A building I remembered as being blue is now painted dark red, and I would imagine quite a few of the shops have changed hands. It’s still a lovely place to stay, perched midway between the cool of the North and the heat of the South, with that particular feeling you get on the Pacific west coast, a sense of pine and water and nature crowding at the boundaries, just waiting to take over once more. and the coastline beyond is beautiful, sea mists and mountains meeting water, the views some of the best in the world.

But that’s a wander for another day… Thanks for coming on this week’s Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and want 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.

Thursday Doors – Casa Del Mar

img_0534This lovely ornate door belongs to Casa Del Mar, also known as House A, at Hearst Castle, California. Casa Del Mar, which translates to House Of The Sea, is one of three guest houses on the site, and is where William Randolph Hearst and his family stayed while Casa Grande, the main house, was being built.

img_0505Hearst was a collector on a grand scale, spending months travelling through Europe buying up art and antiquities, even parts of buildings, then shipping them back to California to be incorporated into his dream home. So this lovely door may have started life long before it came to live on the Enchanted Hill. Nowadays Hearst Castle is a National Monument, open to the public for tours and events. However, there is still enchantment to be found on the hill high above the ocean, and the castle remains a place of fascination for me.

img_0504This is my entry for Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge – for more doors, or to add one of your own, visit Norm’s site and click the link.


You can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ, and check our my Facebook Page, Instagram and Pinterest Page for book info, photos, blogs and more.

Plus my latest release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

 

 

Wednesday Wander – Throwback, Hollywood Style

This week, I’m wandering back in time as well as through space, to my first trip to California. It was 1985 – denim was faded, colours were bright, earrings were big and so was hair.

hollywood-bowlAnd here we are. My brother and I at the famed Hollywood Bowl, just sitting casually in front of the band shell. Well, at least I am. My brother looks, oddly enough, as though he’s playing air guitar. Odd, because he went on to become a professional musician, and now plays guitar all around the world. Not sure if he’s played at the Hollywood Bowl though – I’ll have to ask him.

Built in 1929, the Art Deco influence is obvious in the concentric arches of the band shell. The Bowl has hosted famous musicians almost beyond count – I remember my mum being very excited to be there. I believe The Beatles were mentioned several times. The large white spheres over the stage were designed by architect Frank Gehry, and were added during the 1980s to improve the sound system – apparently the deterioration of the acoustics were part of the reason this shell was demolished and replaced in 2004.

This trip was a fab trip – we drove from Los Angeles all the way along the coast road to San Francisco, a trip I repeated in part with my own family last year. The memories of the 1980’s trip are like a dream in some respects, all golden sun and green hills and blue ocean, like some fabled landscape in a story. I’m sure I’ll be back there again one day.

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