Helen Hollick

A Swashbuckling Journey!

When two prolific award winning authors get together for some fun, watch out!  Anna Belfrage (author of the Graham Saga Books) talks to Helen Hollick (author of the Sea Witch pirate stories)- Anna shares Helen's great adventure- Pirates? Why write about pirates? I guess the simple answer is: because when I wrote the first of my pirate-based Voyages, Sea Witch, no one else, as far as I could discover, had done so. Read on. I adored the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, (not the others in the Disney franchise: they ranged from OK-ish to terrible). I was enchanted by it, and not entirely because of Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, (although that helped!) The movie was fun. None of it was meant to be taken seriously and nearly every scene had a laugh attached to it. Laughter is good for us, therefore darn good adventures, be they pirates, Star Wars sci-fi, Game of Thrones fantasy or whatever-floats-your-boat are good as well, be they movies or novels. They are also escapism from the daily grind, something we all need and enjoy. The problem with really enjoying something is that you are then left wanting more. For me I wanted to read…

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A Writer’s Life: Interview with Helen Hollick

I’d like to welcome back award winning author Helen Hollick today. She is here to talk with us about a big part of her writing. I first started this series-A Writer’s Life- over at Layered Pages and decided to bring it to indieBRAG for our authors. This is Helen’s third participation in this series. -Stephanie M. Hopkins  Helen Hollick lives with her husband, daughter and son-in-law in North Devon, England, in an eighteenth century farmhouse, surrounded by thirteen acres of fields and woodland. A variety of pets include her  daughter’s side-saddle riding horse and a show jumper, two Exmoor ponies which once ran wild on Exmoor, two cats who ignore each other, two wonderful dogs from the Dog’s Trust rescue Centre, some chickens, ducks, and a very grumpy goose called Bernadette (although Boudicca is a more appropriate name!). All of Helen’s books in The Sea Witch Voyages series are B.R.A.G.Medallion Honorees.  She also has a number of respected books of historical fiction which are traditionally published. Including the bestseller The Forever Queen the story of Emma of Normandy  and The Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, set in the fifth century, has also been widely acclaimed as a different telling of the Arthurian Myth – no…

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The Thing About Titles By Helen Hollick

I’ve found that, sometimes, deciding on a title for your story can be harder than writing the whole thing. When my first novel was accepted by William Heinemann for publication, way back in 1993, I had called it The Kingmaking. It was about a man who became a king (King Arthur in fact) so it seemed suitable. We went through the long process of editing, copy editing, proof reading, cover design, etc then a few days before preparing to go to print I was told, ‘We’re not keen on the title. Can you think of something else?’ I couldn’t. ‘Can you think of anything?’ says I. They couldn’t. The Kingmaking it remains to this day. Counter that with my UK published Harold the King and A Hollow Crown. Both books (a duo about the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings) were acquired by a US publisher who decided to change the titles. A Hollow Crown became The Forever Queen (which, I confess, I prefer) but Harold became I Am The Chosen King. Why? Because the publisher said ‘No one will know who Harold is.’ Fair enough – but does ‘I Am The Chosen King’ leave the reader…

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So, you want to write a novel?

By Helen Hollick B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Don’t we all? Well, I assume most visitors glancing through this article are keen to write, hence reading this in the first place. (Although, of course, I might be jumping to conclusions – some of you are also readers.) There’s a saying ‘write what you know about’. It is, sort of, useful guide but if you want to write historical fiction – well I don’t know many people who were actually there in Roman, Medieval, Tudor or the American Civil War eras. Not in person, so it isn’t easy to know how people lived, loved, fought and died in these centuries. Which is where research comes in. From academic books, from history magazines, from quality documentaries on T, and from the Internet. (Good old Wikipedia and Google Search!)  All are useful sources for information, but beware. Not all internet sources are accurate. I once queried some ‘facts’ used in a historical novel, tactfully implying that they were not correct. The author emailed me back, most indignant, claiming she had looked at several sources on the ‘Net. It was a fairly obscure subject so I took a look. Indeed, there were several articles, but on…

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I WISH I’D… BY HELEN HOLLICK

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree I guess all authors wish they had written ‘that’ novel – the one that has made Oscar status Blockbuster movie legend. The novel that hits number one in the bestseller charts and stays there … and stays there… and stays there… Or do we? Yes, of course we all want to do well, the basic facts of paying off the mortgage or being able to afford to get the car fixed is a prime motive – but the reality is, out of the thousands upon thousands of books published worldwide every year very few of them reach the heady height of Literary Stardom. Do I wish I’d written Gone With The Wind, or Fifty Shades of Grey or Harry Potter? To be honest? No, not really. What I do wish is that I had possessed the knowledge and experience I have now twenty-plus years ago. My first novel, part one of the Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy was The Kingmaking.  Writing it, I probably made all the mistakes an author is not meant to make: tell not show, too many adjectives and adverbs, point-of-view (head-hopping) changes… but were these issues that often get slammed in Amazon’s Comments sections nowadays…

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Bad Review? Hmm, Is there Anything Good to Say About Them?

Helen Hollick Funnily, enough, yes there is! I look at reviewing novels with two different hats (and I do actually wear hats!) as Managing Editor of the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews, and as an author myself. As Managing Editor I have one main goal, and that is to improve the standard of indie-published novels. Indie (that includes all forms of self-publishing, whether using a company to help you produce your book, or completely Do-It-Yourself) has received a bad press over the years, with the assumption that if it isn’t good enough for traditional mainstream publishing, then it must be rubbish. Fortunately this out-of-date, somewhat bigoted view is rapidly receding because it has been proven to be wrong. Indie can, and often does, mean “darn good read”. I have a splendid US and UK-based review team and, as with Indie B.R.A.G., our criteria is to review novels that we would recommend people to buy. To this end, we will not review a self-published book that is incorrectly formatted: you’d be surprised how many books we receive that have such tiny font you need a magnifying glass, or the text is left-justified (i.e. ragged margin on the right… margins should be straight on…

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An Author Needs YOU … yes, YOU!

HELEN HOLLICK I am an author. I know several other authors – some at the very top of the Book Tree, others setting out at grass-root level taking their first hesitant steps into the World of Publishing. Some are mainstream. Some are Indie. Some are fabulous, some are – well, let’s just say their book/s need a little extra polish one way or another to give that final shine. It takes a lot of effort – and hard work – to produce a readable, entertaining novel; especially if you are an Indie Writer with no agent or publishing house to back you up and help with sales and marketing. Being an indie author can be a very lonely occupation. There’s the writer’s block to wade through; the confidence to delete scenes you think aren’t working (the confidence to keep going with the ones that are!) The getting the first draft finished – then re-writing the second, third, fourth (how long is a piece of string) draft. Then there is editing by a (preferably) professional editor – and yet another re-write. The copy-edit. (and then doing the corrections) The proof-read (ditto corrections). Getting it published. Getting it noticed. Marketing and more…

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Reviewing Historical Fiction – what every Indie Writer Should Know

Helen Hollick - author, editor of Historical Novel indie books and author of 3 B.R.A.G.Medallion Honorees- shares her wisdom with us! It is all very well writing an historical novel – doing all that research, checking and re-checking to ensure no factual errors or anachronistic bloopers creep in, (like the narrative in a Medieval novel proudly announcing; “she froze, like a rabbit caught in the headlights,”) but what happens after you have finished the editing, sorted the formatting and finally got your book into print? You want it to sell, of course. The best way to do this is by word of mouth. Create a buzz, get people talking about your novel. Easier said than done though! A good way to get started is obtaining an Indie B.R.A.G medallion and gaining some genuine honest, reliable, reviews. Which is where I come in. I am an author – traditionally published with my Historical Fiction in the US, but my nautical fantasy adventure series, the Sea Witch Voyages are Indie Published (and all have B.R.A.G. medallions). But for this article, my other role is the primary one: I am also the Historical Novel Society’s Managing Editor for Indie Reviews. We welcome indie…

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How to Be a Better Writer #2: Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!

  Greetings, authors! I'm back with another dose of writing wisdom. This time, it's about what happens after the creative work is done: proofreading. When I told Geri Clouston, indieBRAG's founder and president, about the topic for this month's blog, she hooked me up with Helen Hollick, a British author who's received a lot of praise for her brilliant manuscripts. Helen's big on proofreading and editing. It might be one reason three of her books are B.R.A.G. Medallion honorees. "Keep this in mind," she tells me. "Anyone can write a book. Not everyone can write a readable book." It might be a bit hard to admit, but she's absolutely right. The two of us agree, a thorough proofread (and, if you can swing it, a professional edit) is an excellent way to bump your work into the latter category. "It is essential to ensure that your final proof, before going to print, is as error free as possible (although I am convinced that the gremlins creep in as soon as the printing press starts running...)," Helen says. "It doesn't matter how good your plot and characterisation are, if the final printed version is littered with silly errors, the reading experience…

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