Dragons and A Brand New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!

I hope you all had a lovely holiday break 🙂

I know I’ve been a bit absent from the blogosphere this past month – I’ve had a terrible virus that stole my breath and sense of smell and taste, so Christmas wasn’t quite the eating festival I envisioned. However, I finally seem to be on the mend and so, I thought, it might be nice to write a post and say hello.

I’ve had dragons on my mind of late. Part of my virus seems to stem from the fact that I am a watery person, and there were times I longed for flames and heat to dislodge the permanent feeling of being underwater – a pet dragon would have been most helpful, though perhaps left me a bit singed around the edges 😉

Now that I’m feeling better, I’m excited about the new year and the promise it holds. I’ve been working on a collaborative project with someone which should come to fruition this year, and my vampire WIP has been ripped apart and reassembled, ready for a fresh round of submissions. I’m also going to be exploring some different fields of study, walking another path. I can feel my wings unfurling, ready to roar.

Finally, I’ve been thinking about this post I wrote, almost five years ago, right at the start of my blogging career. A portent? Perhaps. At the very least, it’s a cool cloud formation. What do you think?

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The other week I saw a dragon in the sky.

Outstretched wings, a long curving neck, all gleaming golden beauty.

‘Do I need to build a windlance?’ I thought.

And then, as I struggled with cold fingers to get my phone unlocked, the dragon drifted and changed, the sky taking him away.

But I think, perhaps, I caught him. No black arrow required.

Wishing you all a powerful 2020!


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.

 

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

 

 

#writephoto – Wall Hanging

I’m still writing up my weekend away with The Silent Eye, but thought I’d take a quick foray into this week’s #writephoto challenge, courtesy of Sue Vincent.

‘Is it a bit much?’

‘We-ell–‘

‘I mean, it’s nice and bright, isn’t it? The red and the green?’

‘Yes, but–‘

‘And that’s kind of Christmassy too, which goes with the whole reindeer thing.’

‘But-‘

‘I mean, I could have done a whole wall of them, but I though that would definitely be too much.’

‘D’you think–’

‘And the shape is nice, isn’t it? Sort of an upside-down triangle thing. Kind of ties it all together.’

‘I really don’t–‘

‘And you could sort of decorate it- like, hang things from it. Don’t you think?’

‘…’

‘…’

‘…’

‘…’

‘Do you really think it’s the right thing for a baby’s room?’


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.

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Twenty Six – Song

IMG_0271It’s actually Christmas Eve as I write this post, and I’m listening to Christmas music as I work. At the moment it’s John and Yoko’s Christmas carol – I think Mariah is up next.

I often listen to music when I write – I find it can get me into a flow where the music inspires the writing. Each of my books have a song or piece of music that ‘belongs’ to them, which is handy when I switch between WIPs. For example, I just have to hear the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th to be instantly transported to Ambeth, while Savage Garden’s ‘I Want You’ is Silver and Black‘s song of choice. Sometimes I just put the playlist on shuffle and see what comes up – you never know.

But at this time of year it’s Christmas songs whenever I can get them. Shane McGowan has just started singing, and I’m about to be transported to New York for a love story with a dark twist.

However you’re spending the holidays, I hope you enjoy them.


How about you? Do you have listen to music while you write? Do you have a favourite song? This was my response to Day 26 of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, and the prompt: Song

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.

Remember

img_4589It’s Christmas Day. As you read this post I’m with family, probably eating, definitely enjoying myself. I lived away from my family for many years and missed a lot of Christmases, so now I make the most of being in the same country with (most of) them once more.

And at Christmas time I remember. I remember my paternal grandfather in his church, holly and ivy in the snowy churchyard, the old carols I knew and loved ringing along the ancient stone walls. I remember my grandmother setting up the inflatable Santa and reindeers, sitting us in a small sleigh and taking our photos. I remember my nana and grandad’s house, the tree with old-fashioned glass ornaments and glittering tinsel, the way the sky turned purple over the fields as I looked for a star each Christmas eve. I remember Christmas dinners and laughter and most of all, love, like a great golden glow encompassing us all. I remember the time we had together and I’m grateful for it, just as I’m grateful for the memories we’re creating today.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas, wherever you are.


As well as a Christmas post, this is my response to the 30 Day Writing Challenge – it’s day 25, and today’s prompt is: Remember.

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.

Too Many – 30 Day Writing Challenge

img_4590It’s Christmas Eve, and also day twenty-four of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. Today’s prompt is: Too Many

Now, the obvious thing to write about today would be presents- as in, is there such a thing as ‘too many’? If you asked my daughter I’m sure she’d say no. However, when I cast around for an idea, I only had a fragment come to me:

‘I love snow.’ I rested my chin in my hand, dreamy, watching spiraling white flakes fall against the dark trees. Outside it was cold, the sky a swollen grey, but inside all was warm and cheer. The fire was crackling, a blanket was tucked around me and the smell of baking – really, the only thing that could have made it more like a Christmas card would have been a small child singing carols.

How would you end it? I had a vague idea of the snow turning to a storm, the power going out and the idea that there was such a thing as ‘too many’ snowflakes. However, it seemed a bit of a stretch and so I’ve left them as is, comfortable and warm in their living room, watching the snow fall.

And perhaps that’s where I’ll leave you all too, as night falls and Christmas beckons. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season, however you choose to celebrate 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 Twenty One – Everybody (also, A Wednesday Wander)

It’s day twenty one of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, and today’s prompt is: Everybody.

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The beach near my old house in Australia

It’s also Wednesday, which means I’ll be taking a wander. However, in line with the prompt, this wander will be slightly different in that I’ll be trying to answer a question that just about everybody asks me, once they hear I’ve moved back to England from Australia. And the question is: Why did I leave Australia to come back here?

The short answer is: because my husband’s work brought us over here. But there is more to it than that.

Melbourne and the Yarra River

Melbourne and the Yarra River

In the UK, Australia seems to be sold as a sort of dream destination, an island paradise with white beaches and blue water and a cruisy outdoor lifestyle, where wages are double or almost triple that for the same job in the UK. The people look the same, speak the same language, the cities are comfortably cosmopolitan and it’s just sun, sun, sun all year round. People cannot believe I would leave such a place to come to a small green island that, according to some, gets more than its fair share of rain.

A beach in Wales I used to visit as a child

A beach in Wales I used to visit as a child.

Don’t get me wrong – Australia is a fantastic place. I lived there for seventeen years. My husband is Australian. Our daughter was born there. I have a great deal of love for and fond memories of both Melbourne and Sydney, as well as all the other places I visited. It’s a beautiful country and a lot of people who I love live there.

London

London

Yet, there was always a part of me that longed for mist and green grass and ancient buildings. For cold Christmases and tiny villages, rain-soaked high streets and cool mountains. A part of me that never quite felt at home among the brilliant sunshine and blue water. I remember coming back for a visit to the UK just over nine years ago. We were flying over the coast heading towards London and I looked out of the airplane window. The sun was just rising and I could see the Thames like a silver ribbon, winding inland. My husband leaned over to look out as well, then said to me, ‘How does it feel, coming back here?’ I watched the green landscape unfold beneath us and said, ‘Like coming home.’


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 Twenty – Supermarket

img_1205It’s day twenty of the Thirty Day Writing Challenge, and today’s prompt is: Supermarket.

I was going to write a little piece about how I have to go to the supermarket tomorrow, and how at this time of year it’s heaving with people pushing overloaded trolleys and looking perplexed, as though they’ve never been in a supermarket before. But then it dawned on me that I may also be one of those people tomorrow…

So instead I’ve decided to set a timer again and see what happens. Twelve minutes. Here we go:

‘Christ,’ I mutter under my breath, as I see the last packet of carrots being scooped up. ‘Bastard.’ I shoot daggers with my eyes at the broad back ahead of me, pushing my trolley faster, the wobbly wheel screeching in protest.

‘Sorry, sorry!’ I smile, although it’s more like baring my teeth as I manoeuver past two old ladies, trying to resist the urge to shove their trolleys out of the way with mine. But there is no way I’m letting him get the last packet of Extra Fine Baking Potatoes. I need those potatoes. He’s already got the damn carrots.

Victory! I screech to a rattling halt, breathing hard as I grasp the corner of the packet with my outstretched hand, managing to flick it into my trolley. ‘That’ll teach him,’ I thought, as I glimpsed a cable-knit jumper clad arm reaching around me. ‘Too late, haha!’

Not very Christmassy, I know. But really, it’s every man (and woman) for themselves in the supermarket at this time of year. The chocolate aisle looks as though it’s been attacked by locusts, the few sad roasts remaining puckered in their plastic wraps, as though they’ve been prodded by many hands.

And I only have one thing left on my list to get. Executing a skillful manoeuver, I manage to dodge around two trolleys, then bypass a third, sliding through a gap between two young men and a pile of boxes to emerge in the baking aisle. There they were.

Eggs. There weren’t many left, and those that were left were the eye-wateringly expensive organic free range kind, but I don’t care. Six eggs are all that stand between me and victory. I surge forward, reaching out, when a hand comes down, claiming a box. A hand at the end of a cable knit jumper clad arm.

‘Dammit!’ I may have shouted that out loud. Heads may have turned. But I was so close! Then I heard laughter, felt arms come around my waist, a trolley bumping gently against mine.

‘Too bad, darling. Looks like you’re paying this week. And so close to Christmas, as well. Well-played, though.’ He laughed again, but a nice kind of laugh, as he came around to survey the jumbled mess of groceries in my trolley.

‘Well, I don’t care,’ I said. ‘And, did I tell you how nice you look in that jumper?’

‘Flattery,’ he said, ‘will get you nowhere.’

‘Just wait till next week’s shop’, I thought.

Well, there you have it. Twelve minutes done. Not sure what to think of it, though.


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 Nineteen – Walk Away

img_2025So, it’s day nineteen of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, and today’s prompt is: Walk Away.

I’m starting to wonder why I chose to undertake a thirty day blogging challenge during one of the busiest times of the year. A time where there are lunches and dinners and drinks, shopping and cooking and work and trying to get everything done before the kids break up from school. Oh, I’m not complaining – this is a fabulous time of year and I enjoy it very much. Today, for example, I went to lunch at a friend’s house. She had a whole group of people there and the theme was ‘Disney Christmas.’ So, me being me, I did Star Wars – bundled my hair up like Rey’s and wore combat-style trousers with a low-slung belt and my Star Wars Christmas jumper. Not full-on cosplay, but enough of a nod to the idea that I would fit in if everyone really went for it and dressed up, but not so much that I’d stand out if they didn’t. And it was a lovely afternoon. Most people did really go for it with costumes, we did the mannequin challenge, and when we pulled our crackers out fell little bottles of Baileys and Grey Goose Vodka. Good food, good company, and a generous host – lovely.

But it has left me feeling very relaxed and not at all disposed to sitting at the computer and, you know, actually working. Which brings me around to my original point of wondering why I chose to take this challenge at this time of year. I could just give up, I suppose. Walk away, even. But that’s not really my style. When I start something, I like to see it through to the end. I’m not one to walk away from a challenge.

If only I could think of something to write about…

😉