Thursday Doors, Cottages, And A Wednesday Update

I haven’t done a Thursday Doors challenge in ages! I do have a few doors hanging around in my photo collection (which sounds an odd thing to say, I know), but just haven’t got to them each week. However, this week I’ve remembered in time and so, here are two rather lovely doors I found locally.

Both are from cottages, one Victorian, one rather older than that, given the listed building symbol on the side, plus the fact that the entrance is a couple of feet below current street level. For those of you who don’t know, a listed building is one that has been deemed to be of national importance in terms of architectural or historic interest and is included on a special register, called the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. To live in a listed building is to live in history – however, it comes with the slight caveat that any change or renovation is done under strict supervision, in order to maintain the original architectural integrity. One example of this would be replacing something like-for-like. If your windows need replacing, you can’t just call your local window person and get them to install a couple of double glazed units. Instead, you would have to get replicas of the original windows made, which is usually quite a bit more expensive. However, it means that we have some wonderful buildings preserved for posterity which, after the smash and burn mentality of the fifties and sixties, is not a bad thing.

One of the things I love about both doors is the flowers outside. The British do colourful floral arrangements like no-where else I’ve seen, and the basket and planter display are prime examples. By contrast, the hollyhocks next to the second door are are wonderfully wild, giving it a fairytale air.

And I have a small update to my Wednesday Wander post last week, about the Belarusian Memorial Chapel. On the day I published the post, I received a tweet from the architects – the building had just been voted as the Londoner’s Favourite in the New London Architecture Awards! So that was a nice bit of serendipity 🙂

This is my response to Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge. For more doors, or to add one of your own, head over to Norm’s blog and click the link.


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.

 

#writephoto – To The Seven

Another lovely #writephoto prompt from Sue Vincent. If you’d like to participate, you have until Wednesday next week to respond to the prompt. Here is my response:

They say I had a glass casket. That I was surrounded by flowers, a wonder of the woods.

But the truth is far simpler than that.

After all, they were woodsmen, miners, the seven who cared for me. Men short in stature and in funds. Where would they have found the glass to make it, the gold to bind me?

Instead they made me a bed from what they knew. Timber, gift from the forest that sheltered us, carved with their axes, shaped with love. And they laid me there, sheltered by branches, leaves my coverlet, flowers my crown.

I was a princess. My rescuer, a prince. But I’d been saved long before he came along, with his lips red as the apple that had laid me low.

And so my bed of wood remains, a memorial to love and friendship.

To the seven.


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.

A Nice Surprise – Writing Magazine Story Competition Results

IMG_1640I recently had some rather nice writing news. Last year I decided to devote some time to writing short stories, with the idea that I would submit one per month to anthologies and/or competitions. I figured that, even if I didn’t get anywhere, I’d still end up with a nice collection of short stories, as well as flexing my writing muscles in a slightly different way.

Well, I managed to win second place in the Writing Magazine Modern Fairytale Competition, complete with cash prize and publication on their website! To read my story, Water and Bones, click here. I even got a nice critique from the judges, which made me very happy. (and btw, if you do head over, I recommend reading the winning story as well – it’s excellent). It’s small victories like this, or a good review or a note from a happy reader, that make writing, with all its hair-tearing, plot-twisting and rejection, worthwhile.

Writing short stories has been a good exercise for me. When I write I tend to get quite wordy – I’m forever editing word count down, rather than up. So restricting myself to a much smaller number of words to tell a story meant that I challenged myself to write leaner, to cut out any and every extraneous bit of plot, and think of the most succinct ways to convey my point.

As for my other entries, I came second in one of Esther Newton’s writing competitions, and was shortlisted for another. I also managed to get a further two pieces accepted for an anthology. And I have a few more stories that will, with some more refining, be ready to send out into the marketplace again. Or maybe I’ll just publish them myself!

Happy weekend, everyone 🙂


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

#Blogbattle – Iridescent – When The Moon Is Full

IMG_1368It’s Tuesday, and time for Rachael Ritchey’s Blog Battle. The rules are simple – each week you get a prompt, a genre and have 1000 words to write a response, which has to be posted on the following Tuesday. This week’s prompt was Iridescent, and the genre was Fairy Tale. Here’s my take:

When The Moon Is Full

Once upon a time, when the world was younger, there lived a boy. Tall and lean he was, his skin nut brown over strong muscles, his clothes as tattered as the leaves among which he lived.

No darkness came to stain his days – he was warm and well-fed, the forest providing all that he needed. He roamed along paths he knew like he knew the feel of his skin, or the sound of his breath as he lay alone at night. And as he roamed he hunted, gathering his crop.

But no nuts cracked between his strong white teeth, no berries stained his lips, no blood flowed across his long fingers. Instead, he gathered memories. Bubble light, floating untethered around sleeping travellers taking their rest beneath tangled branches. They would wake unaware that anything had been taken, only a mild headache marring their day as they travelled on to the road beyond the trees.

And so the boy leapt and ran, graceful as any stag, through glowing leaves and past ancient stones, the precious memories tethered to him, dancing like fireflies in the dark of night. When he reached the tree he called home he would sink down among the roots and close his eyes, savouring the sounds and thoughts as they washed over him, nourishing his soul.

But one night, something changed. The moon was full, a golden globe sailing above the treetops, shining through the branches to pick out white flowers like stars dotted along the path. Around him the forest was lush and green with spring, the scent of flower and foliage strong enough to send a man mad. But he drank it in, the wildness of the night running through his veins. Then he saw her.

Dressed in velvet green as the leaves on which she lay, curled at the edge of a small pond. Her long hair was the dark brown of tree bark, her skin golden as his own. He stopped, entranced by her curves, by the rise and fall of her breast as she slept, one slender hand outflung. A bubble of memory appeared, fragile and feather light, floating around her head.

He reached out to take it, all at once desperate to have one small piece of her beauty. But when he touched the bubble her eyes came open and she stared at him. Green, her eyes were, iridescent in the moonlight like dragonfly wings, the pupils night dark. He heard her voice in his head.

‘You have taken something that belongs to me.’

He said nothing, frozen in place, the bubble floating around him like guilt.

‘It’s not right to steal, you know.’

Still he said nothing. He did not know what to do.

‘What is your name?’ She stared up at him, lips dark crimson.

He found his voice. ‘I don’t know.’ He did not.

She frowned, her head tilting to one side. ‘Do you remember nothing?’

The boy thought for a moment. “I have no memories except for those I steal.’

‘Then let me remind you.’

She stood, like a snake uncoiling, and reached for the bubble tethered to the boy, taking it back. As the tether broke he gasped. And he remembered.

He had been sent here, not so long ago. A gift from another realm. But it was not memories he was supposed to steal. It was pain, easing the path of the weary travellers as they passed through the woods. But in his youth and haste he had forgotten, taking memories instead.

‘Do you see?’ Her voice was the whisper of wind through branches, her perfume apple blossom, earthy and sweet.

He nodded, tears in his eyes. ‘I – I am sorry.’

‘Hush,’ she said, coming close to lay one finger gently on his lips. ‘You were young, and you did not know any better. I should have helped you before.’

‘Who are you?’ he whispered.

She smiled, her face close to his. ‘I am the forest,’ she replied. ‘And you are mine.’

***

It is said that the woods bordering the two lands, where the road passes between the trees, is a place of wonder and beauty, where a man might find rest in the most difficult times. It is also said that a spirit lives among the trees, as beautiful as Spring itself, her companion tall and strong.

And sometimes, on a night when the moon is full, they can be seen dancing in the glades, as close together as two vines twisting, their sighs echoing until dawn.

 

 

Thursday Doors – Haven

img_4972I’ve been posting in Thursday Doors for a while now. Some weeks the doors have been grand, entrances to cathedrals or palaces. Other weeks they’ve been more humble, just like my door this week.

Yet a door, no matter the size or shape, represents possibility. None of us know what lies behind until we choose to open the door and enter. There’s a reason that Let’s Make A Deal, with prizes hidden behind doors 1, 2 and 3, is such an enduring pop culture icon. The idea of doors representing choice, a metaphor for change, is a powerful one. Doors often feature in fairytales, either with a caution that they are not to be opened (usually disobeyed), or as pathways to a quest, representing levels of wisdom or challenge. Spirits in haunted houses are said to wander through doors no longer there, perhaps symbolic of their status as lost souls.

And this little blue door, with its welcoming light, seems to represent a haven. Doesn’t it look welcoming, with the tiled path and the little arch, the plants and the golden light beyond? On a cold dark light it’s almost a beacon, a promise of respite for a weary traveller. This is not my front door – in fact, I have no idea who lives here. But it’s nice to think that, hopefully, they feel happiness when they see their front door, a feeling that they are home.

This was my entry to Thursday Doors, via Norm 2.0. For more doors, or to add one of your own, visit Norm’s site and click the link.


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