Thank You

It’s evening. The time of day when I’m usually working (other than during the day, when I’m at work). Working, over the past few months, has been editing and formatting and writing, leaving not much time for blog posts or visiting around. I did write a short post the day before yesterday, with some updates on things I’ve been doing, and as soon as I did so comments appeared, people wishing me well, smiles from across the blogosphere travelling to my little space.

I love this blogging community, I honestly do. Blogging has, without exaggeration, changed my life. When I wrote my first post, about three and a half years ago, I had no idea of the journey I was beginning.

I called this blog Journey to Ambeth because it was going to be about writing. All about writing. About me writing books, about the things I learned about writing along the way. But, like so much in life, it has grown and changed into something more, encompassing travel and short stories and ideas and dreams, a space where I can express myself however I choose to do so.

But the biggest thing, the absolute best thing about blogging, has been the people I’ve met along the way. People from across the globe, many of whom I’ve now met in person. Others with whom I’ve had only virtual conversations, yet I know that, when I meet them, it will be like seeing an old friend. I’ve NaNo-d with them, celebrated new releases and publishing deals and life’s milestones, tramped hillsides and stone circles, blogged and bashed and learnt so much, experienced incredible generosity and kindness. I’ve made friends for life, friends I would probably never have met if it wasn’t for writing those first few words.

And I am grateful every day for it. So I just wanted to say thank you 🙂

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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.

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.

Book Of The Month – A Thousand Rooms – by Helen Jones @AuthorHelenJ

It’s the first day of the new year and what better way to start than as a featured guest over at Hugh’s Views and News! Hugh has chosen my book, A Thousand Rooms, as his book of the month (yay!), and so I dropped by to talk a little more about the story. Thanks for having me, Hugh!
And, as a reminder, if you like short stories with bite, check out Hugh’s new release, Glimpses. He’s even running a giveaway for an Amazon £100 Gift Card! Visit his site for more details…

Hugh's Views & News  

A very warm welcome to Helen Jones whose book, A Thousand Rooms, is this month’s book of the month.

Over to you, Helen…

Well, I must say I’m completely thrilled to have been invited over to Hugh’s blog. It’s lovely to be he– what’s that, Hugh? 

Right, of course. I’m here to talk about my latest release, A Thousand Rooms, which Hugh has very kindly chosen as his ‘Book Recommendation of the Month.’

What’s the name of the book?

A Thousand Rooms.

Helen Jones's latest book - A Thousand Rooms The latest book from Helen Jones – A Thousand Rooms

Tell us a little about the story and the characters.

It’s centred around the main protagonist, Katie. She’s thirty-two, single, and used to work in advertising. She’s also dead. Hit by a car while texting, now left to wander the streets of Sydney alone, a lost soul. No angels appear, no long-lost loved ones – everything is just how it…

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Short Stories and The Experimental Notebook II – A Visit from C.S. Boyack

Craig BoyackToday I’m delighted to welcome Craig Boyack, author, blogging friend and mastermind behind Lisa Burton (I hope Lisa won’t mind me saying that). Craig is a tireless promoter of bloggers and writers across the blogosphere, plus posts plenty of entertaining content, so hop on over to his blog and check it out.

Today Craig is visiting to talk about his latest release, The Experimental Notebook of C.S.Boyack II, now available on Amazon. It’s a collection of short stories, and a follow up to his successful Experimental Notebook I. Here, Craig talks a little bit about the reasoning behind releasing a collection of short stories, and makes some excellent points. In fact, I’m feeling a little inspired myself… Take it away, Craig!

Thanks for inviting me over today. I’m touring around with my new book, The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II. This is a collection of fifteen short stories and micro-fiction of a speculative nature. You will find some science fiction, some paranormal, and one that might pass as fantasy. This is the second collection of short form stories, as you might guess from the title. Since they are stand alone tales, there is no requirement to read the previous one first. They are both priced at 99¢, so you might want to anyway. (I hope.)

My Muse sends me ideas all the time. They always have some interest, but I used to discard them if they wouldn’t carry a novel. On rare occasion, I might weave something into a novel, but it felt incorrect somehow.

I created yet another living document, and started keeping the ideas. Now, whenever I get stuck on a larger plot point, or I simply don’t have time to work on the novel, I hammer away at short stories.

This poses the question of what to do with them. At first I thought maybe I should use them as blog posts, but there were a lot of them. Then I noticed some people marketing them on Amazon. Some of the early examples were one short story for 99¢. This seemed a little off to me, so I kept observing.

Some authors were writing a short story to drive sales of a novel they’d published. That seemed like a really good idea. I read a few of these and the various prequels felt like they were on to something.

I’m not willing to write out backstory and sell it separately from my novels. Then I had the idea of bundling my short fiction together and offering a volume for 99¢. This felt like a better deal to me, and I occasionally buy a short story magazine, so it was familiar too. This is where the first Experimental Notebook came from.

The first one sold so well, that it was worth doing again. I will always write short form, but there is a certain effort that goes into publishing and promoting. As long as people keep reading them, I’ll keep releasing them.

I decided these volumes needed a theme so they seemed familiar somehow. The first cover had an alchemy wheel, and I decided to repeat that by using two on the new release. If I ever release a third one, it will have three wheels, and so on.

Ex NB Cover IIThis time you get fifteen stories, an excerpt from my newest novel The Playground, and a revisit with an old friend for those of you who enjoyed Will O’ the Wisp. I like writing the characters from my novels into short stories after the fact. This way it isn’t backstory, it’s more of a where-are-they-now kind of visit.

I’d appreciate you checking it out, and it’s free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

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Craig Boyack
I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.
I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.
I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.