Wishing Everyone A Happy New Year!

This was the first dawn of 2016...
Photo taken on the first dawn of 2016…

It’s the last day of the year and so, as is tradition, I’m taking a look back at my blogging year. Oh, I won’t be sharing stats or anything like that – rather, just revisiting some popular posts and summing up my 2016 blogging experience.

For it has been an experience indeed! This year I’ve met some wonderful new bloggers, many of whom have chosen to follow Journey to Ambeth. Thank you to everyone who decided to take the journey with me – your comments and input are so very appreciated.

I also released two new books this year; Hills And Valleys, the third in my Ambeth series, and A Thousand Rooms, a standalone novel. I was amazed by the support of the blogging community, who shared, commented and reblogged, helping me to reach an even larger audience. Thank you so much!

In June I attended the second annual Bloggers Bash in London. I’d attended the original Bash in 2015, where we’d all bonded over lunch in Pizza Express before heading to a local pub. This year we had a room to ourselves in (another) rather nice pub, more than double the number of attendees than the previous year, and the charming Luca from WordPress giving a talk about blogging. I reconnected with old blogging friends and met new blogging friends, as well as being nominated for an award. (I didn’t win, but it was awesome just to be nominated!) Here’s to the the 2017 Bash – can’t wait!

In September I spent a magical weekend in the hills with Sue from The Daily Echo, then November saw an evening of laughter, magic and writing talk with the fabulous Suzie from Suzie Speaks, Lucy from Blondewritemore and Sacha Black. To say that blogging has changed my life would not be an exaggeration – I’ve made some truly wonderful friends and really enjoy being part of such a wonderful online community.

So, as the year winds to a close, here are the ten posts that seemed to resonate most with readers:

Memory Box – I wrote this post way back in January, about a chance discovery during a new year house clean.

Stuck Writing Your Author Bio? Try The (Totally Not Serious) Author Bio Generator – Probably my most popular post of the year, I wrote this as a bit of a piss-take after reading several rather, shall we say, overwrought author bios. However, turns out the Author Bio Generator actually works! Try it and see…

Thinking Aloud – this post was a close second to being most popular, and was written as a response to the idea that, as artists, we should be happy to work for free to gain ‘exposure.’

Hills and Valleys – New Release – self-explanatory, really. However, a very popular post, for which I’m extremely grateful.

Old Meets New, With Bonus Orb – this is one of those posts that just keeps on going. I think I had someone like it just the other day. It was written after a trip to London with a friend, where we were struck by the juxtaposition of architecture in the oldest part of the city. More fun than it sounds, I promise!

What Happens Next? – This post was inspired by a comment Craig Boyack made on one of my Thursday Door posts. He started a story based on my photograph, I wrote a short response, he kept going, then we decided to open it up to everyone. The resulting story was published, in all its glory, in the follow-up post The Crypt – Completed.

Circles Beyond Time – Arrival. This was the first post in my series about a weekend away in the Peak District with the Silent Eye. It was an extraordinary weekend for many reasons…

When The Forest Calls – this was a rambling, stream-of-consciousness sort of post. I’d had a day of doing this and that, but was trying to decide what to write about. And the forest was calling…

Published! A Thousand Rooms – one of the most popular posts for the year, and I’m so grateful to everyone who shared it around.

Under The Moon – this was one of Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompts, and I wrote a piece of prose about a woman and her dream under a full moon. Or was it a dream…?

Wishing each and every one of you a healthy, happy and bright new year – may 2017 bring us all that we wish for! Looking forward to seeing you all in blogland and beyond…  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.

 

 

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!

 

Meandering Monday Musings

IMG_1188

The past few weeks have been quite busy, as I mentioned in a previous post, mainly because I’ve been working through the final edit and finicky formatting of my latest book, Hills and Valleys. Once that was released, my body then decided to go into meltdown with a nasty head cold, just in time for the Bank Holiday weekend. The head cold has now moved to my chest, and yesterday I had one of those days when I wasn’t even sure what day it was, when time seemed elastic, as though I could travel back and forth through the years by simply by thinking about it. No hard drugs, I swear. 😉

I’ve been this way, on and off, for a while now. I had pretty major surgery last summer (don’t ask 🙂 ), and I think maybe this is still part of the healing process. I was pretty ill when I went in for surgery, and I think the recovery, both from the op and the preceding ill health, has taken it out of me.

Still, I’m all right. There are plenty of people worse off than I am. It’s just getting a bit frustrating, that’s all. I said to my husband the other night that I can vaguely remember a time when I felt really well, but I couldn’t tell him how long ago that was. So I’m going to take a look around and see what I can do to make a difference. Kick my health back into shape (no martial arts puns intended). I’m pretty active – walking every day, karate twice a week, Pilates, zumba. I like to keep moving. And I eat pretty well, most of the time. So these endless head colds and coughs and chesty things and blocked ears and general malaise are starting to get me a bit down.

Having been so busy with the book this past little while, I’m a bit behind on keeping up with everyone’s blogs, only having time to dip in and out. I’ve also had a few new followers recently, and I just want to say ‘Hello!’ Thank you for choosing to follow my blog – you’re very much appreciated.

And, last but definitely not least, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s supported the release of Hills and Valleys on WordPress, Twitter and Facebook – I’ve been really thrilled by the number of tweets, reblogs and posts, as well as all the lovely comments. Setting a new book free can be a challenging time, so all your support has made it so much easier – thank you!

And that’s about all for my Monday Musings – wishing you all a good week! Time to go and find the cough medicine again, I think…

 

Hugh’s Photo Challenge – Week 13: Love

363 Holding Hands

Another last minute entry for Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge! The theme this week is Love, and so I’ve chosen a photo from my wedding day.

It may seem an obvious choice, and in some ways it is. However, this photo says love to me for reasons beyond the obvious. I had a lovely wedding day and was thrilled to be marrying my husband, yet I also found it quite stressful. Oh, not because I’m some sort of Bridezilla, all caught up in the details. Rather, because I’m not that comfortable being the centre of attention, something you tend to be on your wedding day.

If you notice above, I have my arm across my body as if to protect myself, my hand just touching my husband. He is holding onto my other hand and we are standing close together. I can feel the warmth of him, the support he gave me then and gives me now. And that, to me, is a big part of what love is. That you can rely on the other person to be there for you when you need them, that they are a safe place for you to be.

And so that is why this photo says Love to me.