Indie Book Review by Kate M. Colby: A Thousand Rooms by Helen Jones

A review by of Helen Jones’ A THOUSAND ROOMS, which I’ve raved about here before. Highly recommended.

Kate M. Colby

a-thousand-roomsA Thousand Rooms by Helen Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Katie didn’t wake up expecting to die. And yet, that’s exactly how A Thousand Rooms begins. As Katie stands on the street, watching emergency responders attend to her body, she waits for whatever comes next. Nothing comes, and Katie is forced to drift about the earth alone in search of her individual heaven, the meaning of her life, and any other souls who can help her.

I’ve long been a fan of Helen Jones’s Ambeth series, and I really enjoyed seeing her take on a different genre and world in A Thousand Rooms. The novel reads like contemporary fiction but has a lovely touch of fantasy and a good helping of romance (which came as a pleasant surprise after all of Katie’s struggles!). As usual, Jones’s writing is descriptive and detailed, and she beautifully brings to life the various settings (real…

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The Wonders of Google Maps, Take 2

(Edited to include link to the graphic for email feed)

In addendum to yesterday’s post: I keep finding more crazy-amazing stuff on Google Maps. Just for instance, and for your delectation, here’s a Photo Sphere image of the Great Hall of Nymphenburg Palace (click your mouse inside the image and drag it around for a 360° view):

(If you can’t see the embedded graphic, click on the link here)

Isn’t that something?

And now I have to go fix a sentence in my NaNo manuscript – from my own photos, I thought that marble tile floor was black and white…

Life, the Universe, and Research. What did writers ever do before Google? (Write, probably. Hmph. Okay, okay, I’m getting back to it!)

News from the Writing Trenches, or: The Wonders of Google Maps

In case I hadn’t mentioned, it’s NaNoWriMo, which means I’m in the throes of novelling – and novelling, for me, always involves copious researching.

The current story (not a Septimus series book, a standalone) is partially set in Munich, so I’ve got Google Maps permanently open to a map of the city. But not just a map – Google Street View is amazing. I’m constantly hopping back and forth between map view and panning around the streets of the city.

I’m also going back to my photos from last year’s trip, and among my pictures was one I took of a painting in the Neue Pinakothek: A view of the Residenzstrasse in Munich looking towards the Max-Joseph-Platz, painted in 1826 by Domenico Quaglio. Now check it out side by side with a screen shot of Google Street View of the same spot:

residenzstrasse-combined

Is that cool, or what? I love how the basic line of the street really hasn’t changed much.

Anyway, just thought I’d share that with you. And if you spend the next three hours armchair sightseeing in Munich, don’t blame me. (Actually, yeah, I’ll gladly take the blame. Check out Nymphenburg Palace, for example, on Street View. It’s fabulous.)

Life, the Universe, and Google Street View. The more things change…

How Does Your NaNo Grow?

An interesting post by Helen on her experience with NaNoWriMo. Although my experience with NaNo has been somewhat different than hers, I very much relate to what she says about NaNo teaching us to be writers. I can honestly say that without NaNoWriMo, I wouldn’t BE a writer. What started as “Let’s just try this thing out, for fun,” became “Hey, I can write a novel! Who knew?” and from there, “This is who I am.” I’m totally sold on NaNoWriMo – I owe it, big time.
(Oh, and not to repeat myself or anything, but check out Helen’s new book. It’s great.)

Helen Glynn Jones

img_0016It’s the first week of November and, for many of you out there, it’s also the first week of this year’s NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. (For those of you who don’t know, November is the month when writers around the world challenge themselves to write 50,000 words, or the best part of a novel,  in thirty days). I tackled the NaNo monster in 2014 – I had an idea, a little bit of time, and it seemed a good way to get started. I’d just begun blogging, so only wrote a couple of posts about the process (at the time I posted once a week). So I thought I’d take a look back and see how it went…

From A Month Without Ambeth, published November 8, 2014:

This month I’ve had to focus on a new book. It is November, National Novel Writing Month and I, along…

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Cobblestone Fantasy

cobblestones-raven

We had a meeting of our local NaNoWriMo group this morning. We call it a Write-in, but it’s really more of a Yack-in. It’s just exciting to get together with a whole bunch of other crazy Wrimos and jabber on about how insane this is, and how difficult to find the time, and “Did you get your word count so far?” and “What are you doing about an outline – are you a plotter or a pantser?” And of course, the big question: “What are you writing this year?”

And in the course of that latter discussion, one of us coined a new term. They’re writing fantasy, and we asked if it was set in a classic medieval-style fantasy world. And they said, “Yes, cobblestone fantasy.”

Bam, on the nose! That’s such an awesome term, it needs to be put in the dictionary of genres. “Cobblestone Fantasy: n., fantasy fiction set in a traditional medieval world.”

That’s what a lot of my stories are. See, there is, just to mention a few flavours, “Urban Fantasy” (think Twilight or maybe even Harry Potter – fantasy in a modern setting), or “Steampunk” (generally set in an alternate-reality Victorian-type age), and then there’s the big classic of them all, “Sword & Sorcery”, which is the Lord of the Rings style of fantasy with a pseudo-medieval European setting.

But my books, as a rule, are generally not set here & now (at least not as a whole); they don’t deal in Victoriana; and they have no swords and practically no sorcery. But they do have cobblestones. Almost every single one has cobblestones in it somewhere, if not actually described, then implied. Cobblestones, and open hearths, and horse-and-carriage travel; porridge for breakfast and stew for dinner, cloaks and gowns and market days with vendors in market booths (on a cobble-paved market square, of course).

So, next time someone asks me what I write, I’ll tell them: “Cobblestone fantasy!” Because that nails it.

Life, the Universe, and Cobblestone Fantasy. We’ve coined a new term.