What Are You Grateful For?

img_0938It’s Thanksgiving in the US this weekend, a time of year when, traditionally, families gather, vast amounts of food are consumed, and thanks given. Even though we don’t celebrate the festival here, I like the idea of expressing gratitude. Of just taking a moment to think about the things I’m thankful for. About a year and a half ago I was challenged by another blogger to take something called The Gratitude Challenge  -I recently re-visited the post and felt it still rang true.

As it seemed quite timely, I thought I might share it again:

I was tagged in a post by the lovely Dee the other day, challenging me to write about something for which I’m grateful.

I’m actually finding this quite difficult. I’m grateful for most things in my life, to be honest. Therefore, choosing one thing to focus on is tough🙂

And I suppose I should be grateful for that, too – that I have such an abundance in my life. Oh, I don’t mean financial or material abundance – though we’re more fortunate than many on this planet in that we have enough to eat and a roof over our heads. I try and see everything that happens to me as an opportunity to learn – when I had a job I hated, I still tried to learn as much as I could about the role, adding to my experience. I also learned which industries I didn’t want to work in, ever again. When a good friend turned her back on our friendship, I learned how wonderful my other friends were as they rallied around me for support. When I lost family members I tried to remember the joy we shared, rather than focusing on the times we would never have again – there was regret, of course there was, at years and opportunities wasted, but it taught me to value the moment and to make the most of it, to make the effort to keep up with family and friends, as you never know how long you might have with them.

Coming to a place in my life where I choose to be thankful for the things I do have, rather than regretting the things I don’t, has taken work. I’m far from perfect and still have my moments where I feel I let myself down. But if we choose to make a conscious process towards appreciating life, rather than shaking our fist at it, then that’s part of the battle won. I’ve had dear friends come into my life who have taught me to appreciate all that I have. These people came to me when I most needed them, even though I didn’t realise it at the time. If all I’d been focusing on was myself and my own sorrow, perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed their arrival.

So I suppose I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful for my family and the love that surrounds me. I’m grateful for my friends, for the fact I get to express my creativity every day, for the fact that I can connect with people all around the world with the click of a mouse. I’m grateful I still have the capacity to learn and enjoy new experiences, wherever they may take me. And I’m grateful that I can appreciate it all.

So what are you grateful for?


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

Cover Reveal! A Thousand Rooms

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-09-25-592Ta da! Here it is, the cover for my latest novel, A Thousand Rooms. I wrote the book about two years ago during NaNoWriMo – since then, I’ve been editing and rewriting to get it ready for publication. I’ve had some wonderful beta readers along the way, including Ali Isaac, Louise Allen and Angelika Offenwanger – thank you so much for all your valuable feedback! Esther Newton lent her editing expertise to give it a final polish, and my brother, Rich Jones at Turning Rebellion, took my photo of red shoes and created a cover which I think perfectly captures the spirit of the story – thank you!

I realise the above paragraph sounds a little bit like one of those award show acceptance speeches, but I do think it’s important to acknowledge how many people it can take to produce a book. I feel very fortunate to have found such a wonderful group of authors and bloggers around the world, and really appreciate your support.

So, what’s the book about?

You don’t wake up expecting to die…

Katie is thirty-two, single, and used to work in advertising. She’s also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying, trying to find her way to… wherever she’s supposed to be.

And whoever she’s supposed to be with.

Heaven, it seems, has a thousand rooms. What will it take to find hers?

I’m just finalising the formatting, with a view to publishing, hopefully, within the week. And, once I have published… you’ll be the first to know!

 

The Turning Of The Year

It’s Thursday, which usually means a door. But it’s also New Year’s Eve, and a chance to look back over the past year.

2015 has been an extraordinary year for me, both in life and in blogging. I published the first two books in my Ambeth series, visited Spain, Andorra, Canada and the US, welcomed a new sister-in-law and nephew and underwent life changing surgery, among other things.

I also took a chance and attended the first Blogger’s Bash in London, and I’m so glad I did! I met so many wonderful bloggers, all of whom were as lovely in person as they appeared on their blogs. And, since then, my blog has grown in leaps and bounds as I discovered more lovely blogging people and they discovered me.

My report came through from WordPress yesterday – you know the one I mean 🙂 I won’t publish it here, but I will share my top five posts for the year. And here they are:

Ghosts of My Grandfather

This post was one of those ones which I wasn’t sure about sharing. It felt very personal, plus I wasn’t sure if people would think I was a bit mad, with my orbs and ghostly figures. How wrong I was! It was my most popular post of the year 🙂

The Gratitude Challenge

This post was a challenge set by blogger Dee, to write about something for which I’m grateful. If I remember correctly, I wrote this very quickly and in one sitting, and certainly didn’t expect it to have the response it did! Another thing to be grateful for.

Birthday

This post was not to celebrate my own birthday, but rather my first blogiversary. So it was nice to see so many people come along to celebrate with me 🙂

Before You Publish

This post came about through a link posted by The Story Reading Ape, about a blogger who was fined for using images without permission. I used to work in advertising negotiating image usage rights, so I was aware of the pitfalls in sharing work and decided to write a post about it. Once again, a surprising response!

Night Scribbles

This post rounded out my top five, and was a musing on the way that ideas which come to us in the middle of the night can appear quite silly in the morning, just dream ravings. It seemed to strike a chord with quite a few of you 😉

Looking back at my top five for the year, I think the main lesson I’ve learned is that I just need to post whatever comes to mind, for it is often those posts I don’t think will do so well that resonate the most. That, and the fact that I’m part of a wonderful community of bloggers – thanks to all of you for reading and sharing this year!

And here is my door, because it is Thursday, after all 🙂

IMG_2036

I’ve chosen a doorway, rather than a door (though I assume a door may have hung here many centuries ago). It seemed appropriate, on the turning of the year, to consider the idea that we stand at the threshold of a new year and all it brings.

This door is from Criccieth Castle in North Wales. The castle is 12th century and ruined now, but has a rich and varied history, as well as a beautiful setting, looking across the bay to mountains. It’s one of my favourite places in the world.

And with that I will finish by wishing you a Happy New Year! See you in 2016…

Rainy Day Updates

Rain coming across the distant hills
Rain coming across the distant hills

It’s a cold and wet Friday here in the UK, so the gorgeous girl and I are having an ‘at home’ day. We’re getting a few chores done and there’s fun planned too – movies, snacks and some cooking adventures – it’s just lovely to spend time with her while she still wants to hang out with me.

So I thought today might be a fairly quiet day, but my email has been pinging away with new likes and follows for my blog. The lovely SuzieSpeaks shared a post of mine from earlier this week and it seems to be fairly popular, which is wonderful. Thanks to Suzie for sharing, and welcome to everyone visiting – stay a while and make yourself comfortable, there’s plenty to read here 🙂

bloggerrec_award

I’ve also been nominated by Jonathan and Aaron at Husband&Husband for a blogging award – the Blogger Recognition Award, in fact! Thank you so much for thinking of me guys, I really appreciate the nomination.

As part of the award, I’m to write about why I started blogging, and also pass on some advice to fellow bloggers, so here goes:

I started blogging just over a year ago, though I was very nervous about it at the time. I’d already written the first two Ambeth books and the rest were underway, plus I was writing freelance, but I knew I needed to look into expanding my media platform as well. A friend had started a blog on WordPress and, when I looked into it, I was intrigued by the possibilities. I do love to write, and so I started out with three small posts on what I’d learned about writing so far – I was a bundle of nerves when I hit the Publish button for the first time! Even though I’d had work published before, it felt quite confronting to share my own thoughts in a public forum. However, what a year it’s been! I’ve learnt so much about blogging and writing, read some fantastic blogs, made some wonderful connections with people around the world plus my little blog is starting to be seen by more people every day. It really has been fantastic, and I’m so looking forward to attending the first Blogger’s Bash in London next week and finally putting faces to some of the voices that have enthralled me for so long.

So my advice to other bloggers would be to keep writing. Just keep on going – write posts, write your own work, share your thoughts and dreams and ideas, even if you think no one else is going to read them. You will be surprised!

I have to nominate fifteen bloggers for the same award. This isn’t easy, as I follow a lot of great blogs, so I’ve chosen fifteen that I read regularly and always enjoy – here they are:

Dark Knight Chronicles

Everything Indie

Nicholas Rossis

Ali Isaac Storyteller

Tara Sparling

Stephen Baird

The Sound of What Happens

Sue Vincent

MissRachelChanel

Suzie81Speaks

Chris The Story Reading Ape

Sacha Black

That’s So Jacob

Louise Allan

The Mathemagical Site

You may have already been nominated for this award, or simply not wish to participate – that’s completely fine! If you’d like to know more about it the original link is here. Whether you accept the award or not, thank you for keeping me entertained in the blogiverse. And, if you’re visiting, please check out some of these blogs – they’re all very much recommended.

Finally, to celebrate the upcoming release of No Quarter, the second book in the Ambeth Chronicles, I’m going to be running a giveaway on Goodreads soon. I’ll be giving away five signed copies of Oak and Mist, the first book in the series. Details coming very soon!

Seems as though Friday has turned out to be a big day after all 🙂 xx

The Gratitude Challenge

IMG_0938

I was tagged in a post by the lovely Dee the other day, challenging me to write about something for which I’m grateful.

I’m actually finding this quite difficult. I’m grateful for most things in my life, to be honest. Therefore, choosing one thing to focus on is tough 🙂

And I suppose I should be grateful for that, too – that I have such an abundance in my life. Oh, I don’t mean financial or material abundance – though we’re more fortunate than many on this planet in that we have enough to eat and a roof over our heads. I try and see everything that happens to me as an opportunity to learn – when I had a job I hated, I still tried to learn as much as I could about the role, adding to my experience. I also learned which industries I didn’t want to work in, ever again. When a good friend turned her back on our friendship, I learned how wonderful my other friends were as they rallied around me for support. When I lost family members I tried to remember the joy we shared, rather than focusing on the times we would never have again – there was regret, of course there was, at years and opportunities wasted, but it taught me to value the moment and to make the most of it, to make the effort to keep up with family and friends, as you never know how long you might have with them.

Coming to a place in my life where I choose to be thankful for the things I do have, rather than regretting the things I don’t, has taken work. I’m far from perfect and still have my moments where I feel I let myself down. But if we choose to make a conscious process towards appreciating life, rather than shaking our fist at it, then that’s part of the battle won. I’ve had dear friends come into my life who have taught me to appreciate all that I have. These people came to me when I most needed them, even though I didn’t realise it at the time. If all I’d been focusing on was myself and my own sorrow, perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed their arrival.

So I suppose I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful for my family and the love that surrounds me. I’m grateful for my friends, for the fact I get to express my creativity every day, for the fact that I can connect with people all around the world with the click of a mouse. I’m grateful I still have the capacity to learn and enjoy new experiences, wherever they may take me. And I’m grateful that I can appreciate it all.

So what are you grateful for? If you feel up to it, take the Gratitude Challenge as well 🙂

Thank you!

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone for your positive comments and support. Publishing Oak and Mist has been an intense experience, and it’s great to be part of a community like this one – your feedback and help is so very appreciated.

If you have been kind enough to buy a copy, please leave me a review if you feel moved to do so, as I’d love to hear what people think about the story. Or just message me, if you prefer 🙂

Also, I’ve managed to do another guest post for the Bloomsbury Writers & Artist’s website – a little bit about designing your cover and what you might need to consider. If you haven’t visited their site before, it’s a great resource for writers – after all, they publish the Harry Potter books!

And finally, here is a happy snap of me holding my first copy of Oak and Mist:

IMG_1305

xx