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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Pirates

The Pirates Are Back. Please welcome Helen Hollick.

Many of you will remember that Helen visited here with her favorite pirate Jesamiah Acorne back in July.  I've asked her to come back and talk a bit about how her blog tour went.

I have a vague suspicion that writing a book is the easy part. Getting sales is much harder work, especially if you are a self published author.  

You have produced a well written, entertaining novel and you are now glowing with pride as you see it appear on Amazon. Next comes the waiting patiently for Amazon to alter the pre-order here box to add to basket. This may take a while, a lot of finger-drumming, several rude words and a couple of e-mails to Amazon (if you are lucky you might even get a reply!) The big mainstream publishers do not seem to have this problem; I suppose they have the weight and power of numbers of books in print behind them, but for the small time author we are akin to a loan voice crying up the Amazon without a Paddle. 

What was particularly frustrating for me, my UK publisher had closed in March and I had already planned a summer Blog Tour for my Sea Witch books. A little matter of not having a publisher, however, was not going to stop me! I terminated my contract, asked for my files back, and signed up to a reliable assisted publishing house in Bristol UK, SilverWood Books. My intention: to get back in print as soon as possible and to go ahead with the Tour. 

The files were never returned, so my old unedited copies had to be re-edited, typeset and prepared – thanks to the heroic efforts of Helen Hart and her team at SilverWood, and my wonderful graphics designer, Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics, we made it. The Sea Witch books were in print by July 1 and a month long Blog Tour started with a bang (a broadside of cannons I suppose, seeing as the Sea Witch novels are based around pirates and nautical adventure.) On July 2 I appeared on Jessica Hasting’s Laugh, Love, Write, followed by the delightful Amy Bruno’s Passages to the Past – and then this fabulous blog of Carolyn’s I was off, hitting the ground running. 

For almost every day (except weekends) somewhere on the Internet my books were being reviewed, discussed, advertised – and marketed. I had the task of visiting each Tour Post, responding to comments and doing my bit by linking to Facebook and Twitter. It is great fun but hard, hard work.   I had completed several previous Blog Tours with my historical fiction books which are published in the US by Sourcebooks Inc – but even knowing (sort of) what I was doing, this Tour was nothing like I had expected. For one thing, the organisation involved is very demanding. You have to keep in touch with the bloggers, ensure the posts are made, follow up any comments with your own – answering questions, saying thank you. Post links, be generally present etc.  

I was lucky enough to have one of the ex-members of staff from my defunct gone-bust publisher willing to initially help me. Samantha had organised the setting up of the tour in February, neither of us aware that the company was about to go belly-up, that she was to lose her job and I was to be without a UK publisher. Sam had all the details backed up on her own computer, so I followed her initial enquiries with an explanation of what had happened and asked whether anyone would be interested in carrying on now I had decided to re-publish the Sea Witch Voyages myself.   The enthusiasm, support and eagerness I received was overwhelming. 

I have an advantage over most self published authors in that I am already well known. My Historical Fiction books have received attention on the review blogs – I even made it on to the USA Today Bestseller List with Forever Queen (US edition of A Hollow Crown) and I have quite a readership following. The Sea Witch Voyages were a different matter, however. They are a series of nautical adventures with a touch of supernatural fantasy, based around the pirate Jesamiah Acorne and his girlfriend (later his wife) the white witch, Tiola Oldstagh. By the spring of 2011, thanks to the not very impressive track record of my collapsed UK publisher, the books were on the verge of hitting the rocks and sinking without trace, as was my writing confidence. 

This Tour was to be the make or break (sink or float?) for my pirate and his adventures – and my career. If the result was not encouraging I was prepared to wind my writing up as a lost cause. Self confidence is a difficult thing to maintain.  

Some of the review blogs were keen to have an interview in the form of questions and answers, a couple wanted articles about myself or my books, all of which took time to compose. Other blogs posted a simple review – and the books had to be sent out in the first place. I had a few copies from the previous publisher, but postage – considering many of these review blogs are in the US and I am UK, was expensive. Quite a few bloggers accept PDF electronic copies now, which is a much easier way of sending novels for review purposes – but self published authors take note – many bloggers want to see the quality of the book itself, its design, layout, the general “feel” of it. Plus, several blogs offer giveaway copies as prizes, which the author is often expected to provide. In all, I reckon I have notched up at least £200 in expenses.  

Will I gain this back via sales? I have no way of knowing until the next round of royalty statements. I will need to ensure that I follow up the Tour with getting on with the next WIP (a fourth Sea Witch Novel), leave comments on the blogs where I was a welcome guest and maintain contact on various sites, including Facebook and Twitter. To sell books you have to market books, and Social Networking is an art in itself, one I find enjoyable – but it eats time like a hungry Hour Monster. 

So was my month long Virtual Book Tour worth the cost and effort? Put it like this – there is now quite a buzz on the ‘Net about a certain pirate called Jesamiah Acorne; I have a ship load of new followers and fans, and as the saying goes, ‘From little acorns mighty oak trees grow.’ All I have to do now is be vigilant, tend the seedling, and nurture the sapling…. Watch this space.

My website site: www.helenhollick.net
SilverWood Books www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk
Avalon Graphics  http://www.avalongraphics.org 

Pirate Code: The Second Voyage of Captain Jesamiah Acorne



Here's the second book in the Jesamiah Acorne series.  Be sure to check in on Wednesday, July 6th, for a discussion with Helen Hollick on self-publishing.


Helen Hollick
Pirate Code: Being the Second Voyage of Captain Jesamiah Acorne & his ship, Sea Witch
Isbn 9781906236632
Published by: SilverWood Books
Price £ 10.99  $18.50 (US)
Availability: Amazon.co.uk -- Amazon.com -- Kindle (& other e-book sources i.e. NookBook) or direct from publisher: www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk
Front cover : Designed byhttp://www.avalongraphics.org

Back cover blurb:


Ex-pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne, is in trouble. Big trouble. All he wants is to marry his girl, Tiola Oldstagh, and live contented aboard his ship, Sea Witch. But her husband refuses to grant a divorce unless Jesamiah agrees to retrieve some barrels of indigo and smuggle them out of the Spanish-held Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The Governor of Nassau wants Jesamiah to go there too, to help incite a rebellion, and Captain Henry Jennings wants him to find a lost spy. To cap it all, Commodore Vernon of the Royal Navy wants to expand his fleet and craves the Sea Witch for himself.

As Jesamiah’s hopes for a quiet life tumble about him, the onset of war with Spain scuppers everyone’s plans. Hispaniola is governed by a tyrant who has promised to hang, draw and quarter Jesamiah if ever he sets foot there again, while the lovely widow, Señora Francesca Escudero would prefer to seduce him. Intrigue, fights, betrayals and romantic passion follow Captain Acorne like a ship’s wake - not the ingredients for a quiet life; and not Jesamiah’s idea of the rules of the Pirate Code!




Pirate Code contains all the traditional elements of a pirate novel – fights, rum, wenching, intrigue, storms at sea and men being tossed overboard. It has exciting adventure, passionate romance and daring heroism, all intermingled with a blend of believable fantasy. A dashing rogue of a pirate captain, a white witch and Helen Hollick’s master ability at story-telling – what better ingredients for an exciting read?

What readers are saying:

‘I finished Pirate Code today, you have done something amazing,  remarkable, created the best pirate in literature. Far more rounded and sexier than any others - sorry to admit it, but far sexier then CJS! Jes is an adorable rogue, a larger then life character but he is all human, with a human's vulnerabilities and strengths.’ Alison


‘As a little girl my dad used to take me to the cinema. I think that I dragged him to see every Pirate film that was available then. "Captain Blood" with the wonderful Errol Flynn was a favourite. I dreamt about running away to sea to be a Pirate. As a fifty something woman that dream is still alive - hence my ownership of "Charlie Girl" my 26ft yacht. It is no good telling me not to fall in love with Jesamiah - I already have! I love all your Pirate books - please do keep writing them!’
Margaret

Sea Witch: The First Voyage of Captain Jesamiah Acorne

As I announced yesterday, the "boarding" scheduled for this blog on July 6th comes from one of my favorite  authors, Helen Hollick.  She will be doing a blog tour during the month of July to re-introduce her pirate series to her American audience.  So here's a sneak peek at the first book in the series and an introduction to Jesamiah Acorne, England's sexiest pirate.

Helen Hollick
Sea Witch:Being the First Voyage of Cpt Jesamiah Acorne & his ship, Sea Witch 
Isbn 9781906236601
Published by: SilverWood Books
Price £ 10.99  $18.50 (US)
Availability: Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com Kindle (& other e-book sources i.e. NookBook) or direct from publisher: www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk
Front coverDesigned byhttp://www.avalongraphics.org
Back cover blurb :

The Time: The golden age of piracy – 1716
The Place: The pirate round – from Africa to the Caribbean

At 15 Jesamiah Acorne escapes the bullying of his elder half brother to become a pirate with only two loves – the sea and his freedom. But his life is to change after an attack on a merchant ship off the coast of South Africa when he meets the mysterious Tiola Oldstagh – an insignificant girl, or so he assumes until he discovers her true identity – a white witch.

Tiola and Jesamiah becomes lovers, but the wealthy Stefan van Overstratten also wants Tiola as his wife and Jesamiah’s brother, Phillipe Mereno, is determined to seek revenge for resentments of the past. When the call of the sea and an opportunity to commandeer a beautiful ship – the Sea Witch – is put in Jesamiah’s path he must choose between his life as a pirate or his love for Tiola. He wants both, but Mereno and van Overstratten want him dead.

Tiola must use her gift of Craft to rescue her lover, but first she must brave the darkness of the ocean depths and confront the supernatural presence of Tethys, the goddess of the sea, who will stop at nothing to claim the soul of Jesamiah Acorne for herself




Author Endorsements: 

"A wonderful swash-buckler of a novel. Fans of Pirates of the Caribbean will love this to pieces of eight! A fabulous splash of piratical adventure on the high seas. Prepare to be abducted by a devil-may-care pirate and enchanted by a white witch. Mayhem and magic, splendour and squalor, beautiful ships, dangerous pirates and wild women, Helen Hollick has written a fabulous historical adventure that will have you reading into the small hours!" Elizabeth Chadwick 

"Sea Witch gives us everything we want in a grand pirate adventure - swashbuckling action, great villains, lovely women in distress, sea fights and adventures on land, all grounded in solid research that gives the book a real feel of authenticity. This is a terrific read for lovers of pirate tales, lovers of historical fiction, and lovers of great adventure stories." James L. Nelson 

"In the sexiest pirate contest Jesamiah Acorne gives Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow a run for his money." Sharon Kay Penman 

“Helen Hollick has it all!  She tells a great story, gets her history right and writes consistently readable books!' Bernard Cornwell

The British Are Coming


A week or so ago, I dropped some hints that this blog would be invaded by pirates on July 6th.  The invasion is getting closer, so it's time to reveal the identity of the suspect. 

Helen Hollick is a British writer who, like me, writes about two different historical periods.  I first encountered her as the author of several wonderful medieval novels set in the time of the Anglo-Saxons and the Norman invasion of England. Now her titles include a pirate series -- books that still have a strong historical basis but provide rollicking adventure and just a hint of fantasy.

Helen was born in North East London, England, and started writing pony stories as a young  teenager. She moved onto science fiction and fantasy and then discovered the delight of writing historical fiction. Published in the UK and the US with her books about King Arthur and the 1066 Battle of Hastings, Helen also writes a series of historical adventure seafaring books inspired by her love of the Golden Age of Piracy. Helen still lives on the outskirts of London with her husband, Ron, adult daughter Kathy and a variety of pets, including a dog, a cat, and three horses.   

  To celebrate the re-issue of her books by a new publisher, she will be doing a blog tour in July.  She'll be here on July 6th to do a guest interview with me.  We'll be discussing her recent decision to enter the world of self-publishing after a career spent with traditional publishing houses. 

To introduce you to Helen's favorite pirate, here is the book trailer for The Sea Witch Trilogy:

You need Flash Player in order to view this.
The Sea Witch Trilogy Book Trailer *UPDATED*
Book trailer created for UK author Helen Hollick:Looking for a treasure chest of adventure? Well, you've plundered gold mate!Trouble follows pirate Captain Jesamiah Acorne as steady as a ship'...
For the next couple of weeks, I'll be introducing you to each book in the trilogy.  I'll also have an announcement about a give-away connected to her July 6th visit.  Stay tuned.

If  you'd like to learn more about Helen Hollick, here are the links to several of her blogs:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HelenHollick