The Old Year Ends…

As the year draws to a close, I suppose it’s time to look back and consider how it was. For me, 2017 was a year of mixed blessings and a badly needed kickstart. I’d fallen into something of a rut, so being challenged and thrown out of my comfort zone, as I have been this year, has given me renewed energy for 2018.

In terms of blogging, 2017 was a quiet year for me. I didn’t post nearly as much as I had the year before, nor was I able to spend quite as much time visiting other blogs as I would have liked to. However, I did make it to the Bloggers Bash in London, and caught up in person with many lovely familiar faces, as well as meeting some new ones. I also spent a magical weekend in Scotland with the Silent Eye, discovering that we can be tested in many different ways.

When it came to blog posts a perennial favourite, Stuck Writing Your Author Bio, reigned supreme for the second year in a row, gaining more views than any other. The rest of my top ten consisted mostly of Wednesday Wanders, with Mykonos, Italy, Heidelberg, Stonehenge, Dragonstone and Bath ranking as the most popular destinations. (And my Wanders will be back in 2018, by the way – I haven’t run out of places yet, and have more travels planned). A post about a weekend in Paris with an old friend also made the top ten – looking at that list you wouldn’t think I started blogging about writing!

When it came to writing, this year was a busy one. I finished the first draft of Silver and Black, my vampire novel, as well as the final edit for Under Stone, the fourth Ambeth book. I managed to squeeze in a few short stories as well, and am looking forward to more writing and publishing in the coming year.

But for now the house is tidy, dinner is almost ready to eat and I’m looking forward to seeing in the New Year. Thank you to everyone who has visited, read, liked, commented and reblogged – you’re all wonderful. Wishing you joy and a prosperous 2018, wherever you are!

Happy New Year! x

Wednesday Wander – Stonehenge and Solstice

It’s Midsummer today, or Litha in the old calendar, the point where the great wheel of the year turns towards winter once more, the nights gradually growing shorter until Yule, the great festival of Light. On a hot day such as this one the thought of winter is almost welcome, to be honest.

Today is also one of two points during the year when the sun’s rising is marked at Stonehenge, the famous stone monument in Wiltshire. On Midsummer morning the sunrise aligns perfectly with the Heel Stone, and crowds gather to watch the spectacle, one of the few times in the year that people are allowed within the ancient circle of stone.

I have yet to mark Midsummer or Midwinter at Stonehenge, but it is on my list to do so. There is something about the tumbled grey stones, still standing proud upon Salisbury Plain, that tugs at me. The mystery surrounding their use, the precision with which they mark the turning of the year and have done so for millennia, and the astonishing fact that many of the massive stones came from miles away in Wales, brought to the site using technology that still remains undefined, despite efforts to replicate the feat.

I visited Stonehenge most recently in March, on a cool sunny day. Once again the stones remained inscrutable, their message like a song almost heard, dancing on the edge of sound. The light changed the shapes and shadows, and up above a small plane swooped and wheeled, coming so low that concerned staff came out to monitor its progress, worried it might perhaps crash into the stones. But it disappeared after a while, buzzing away across the plains, above the old barrows and hidden earthworks to destinations unknown.

I also visited the brand new visitor centre, set back some way so it is not visible from the monument. It is a vast improvement on the old centre. Shuttle buses take visitors to a point closer to the stones, the road that used to run past them on one side now closed except to walkers, meaning we reached the stones on foot as was done originally. The new centre is very well done, with some excellent interactive exhibits and artifacts excavated at the site – it kept the gorgeous girl busy for quite some time! There were also some replica Bronze Age roundhouses outside, the plaster walls and thatched roofs against a blue sky somehow timeless, and as though they could have been anywhere in the world.

I have wandered to Stonehenge before, and no doubt will do so again – a place holding such magic is worth more than one visit. Thanks for coming on this Wednesday Wander with me – see you again next time!

PS I LOVE this! Nothing like a Spinal Tap reference to make the day complete 🙂


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.

Mad March

I was a bit absent from blogland last month. I seem to be saying that a lot this year, mainly because my work situation has changed, but I was still finding time to check in every once in a while – at least until March came along.

But what a month it was! I can’t complain because it was wonderful. The first weekend happened to coincide with my birthday, and I decided to go to Paris with a dear friend just arrived from Australia. We had a marvellous time despite the rain and a delay on the Eurostar heading back – Paris is truly one of my favourite cities.

The next weekend was spent in London, a family wedding taking us into Shoreditch and to an ancient church for the ceremony. The old Courthouse, now a hotel, was home to family and friends for the weekend and it was an interesting place, the bar still featuring the old holding cells decorated with images of some of their most famous inmates.

The next week saw things return to a semblance of normality, though we were off again on Sunday to see family, then a snot monster descended and held me hostage for most of the following week. It did lead to some interesting writing, but was pretty awful for everything else.

However, I felt better once the weekend arrived, which was a good thing. It was Mothering Sunday and we’d decided to go on a family adventure, visiting Stonehenge on the Saturday and continuing on to the beautiful city of Bath for the night. We ate pizza, visited the ancient Roman baths and wandered the streets, taking in the sights. The weather was glorious, sunny spring days and clear nights, the warm golden stone of the city lit by fairy lights. I absolutely loved it.

And I’ve also been writing, finally finishing the edit for my fourth Ambeth book and sending it out for a second beta read. The responses are coming in now and are (thank goodness) mostly good – just a few small adjustments to make before it goes to the editor.

So I guess this is a long way of saying I’ve been away and now I’m back, looking forward to spending some time visiting in blogland again. Although I did sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo this month – what was I thinking…?

Happy weekend, everyone! xx


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.

Wednesday Wander – If You Could Be Anywhere…

if-you-could-be-anywhereIt’s Wednesday, so time for my usual Wander, and it’s also day twenty-eight of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. Today’s prompt is: If.

Initially, I considered the Rudyard Kipling poem If, and doing a Wander related to that. But Kipling was so well-travelled I couldn’t really settle on one place, and unfortunately I’ve not yet been to India, the place with which he is most often associated. Then I considered – if I could be anywhere, where would I be?

This was a tough question to answer. At the moment, I’m pretty happy where I am. And if I did go anywhere it would be somewhere I’ve not visited before, so I couldn’t post about it anyway. I decided to look back through my posts for inspiration, and realised I’ve taken 54 Wednesday Wanders so far – just over a year’s worth of posts! So, as it’s the last Wander of 2016, I decided to look back at the top ten most popular posts, based upon the number of likes, and leave the answer up to you. If you could be anywhere, where would you be?

Starting with the tenth most popular, here is the list of favourites for the year:

The Lion Monument, Lucerne, Switzerland

The Twelve Apostles, Australia

Surfers Paradise, Australia

Coventry Cathedral, Coventry, England

El Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Manyana Beach, Australia

Stonehenge, England

Paris, France

Ancient Rome, Italy

And the number one post was:

Niagara Falls, Canada

Thanks for coming along with me on my Wednesday Wanders – I’ve seen a bit of the world but there’s still a lot for me to see, so I’ll keep posting as long as I have places to share

See you next year! 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.

Wednesday Wander – Stonehenge

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I do love a stone circle. There is something fascinating about the fact that, millennia ago, our ancestors expended the effort to place giant stones in specific patterns across the landscape, and we no longer really know why.

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And when it comes to stone circles, Stonehenge is arguably the best known of them all. When I first visited the site as a child in the 1970s, you were allowed to wander among the great stones, and I remember people lying across the recumbent ‘altar’ stone.

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Now, when you visit the site, you are guided on an anti-clockwise circuit around the monument, allowing you to appreciate it from all angles and see how it sits within the landscape, light changing as you move around the stones.

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It is a place of great majesty and power, despite the toll that centuries and human intervention have taken on its original shape. And, as we drove away, it had one last angle to reveal, rising like a crown on the plain above as the land dropped away.

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A place of magic, indeed.

Thank you for joining me on another Wednesday Wander! See you next time 🙂