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Please Welcome Helen Hollick and Jesamiah Acorne

I am delighted to introduce Helen Hollick and my favorite pirate, Jesamiah Acorne. Jesamiah cannot always be trusted to show up in good fashion, but he appears to be reasonably sober this morning. Even better, he seems to have had a bath or two within the last month. Whew! So please take a look at Helen's rollicking pirate series and make both of them feel welcome by commenting below.  Everyone who leaves an e-mail address will be entered into a random drawing for a free copy of Sea Witch, the first volume of this trilogy.

Carolyn Schriber:  I've been posting a lot about self-publishing lately, and I'd love to hear your reactions.  Now that you've made the switch, how do you feel? 

Helen Hollick: It annoys me when I hear people say that self published books – in whatever form, vanity, literally self published or assisted published – are a load of rubbish. Some are, yes, but there are also mainstream published books that should never have wasted paper and ink.
There is absolutely no reason why a self published book cannot be every bit as good (even better) as one published by traditional publishing houses.
Authors self publish for a number of reasons, the main one being that their work has been turned down, often several times. Yes, I hear what you are saying – this is probably because the MS is not well written…but remind me again? How many times was J.K. Rowling initially rejected?   Maybe the work does have all the typical mistakes and errors that “wanna-be” writers make. But equally, maybe it has the potential to become a darn good book if only someone would show the writer where, he/she has gone wrong. 

The problem is, the big companies and literary agents no longer have the time, or financial resources, to nurture authors up to a publishable standard. If, today, I was to submit the stuff I was writing almost twenty years ago, I doubt I would be accepted by an agent. The point of view changes, author’s voice, long and rambling run-on sentences…. Back then, my editor at Random House saw the potential of what was to become The Kingmaking, and showed me how to structure my work. Mind you, in a very recent re-edit, I am stunned by the over-use of exclamation marks and repeated words and phrases! 

The commercial publishing companies of today are businesses, not writing schools. They are looking for the next best selling hit; editing, re-editing and re-re-editing takes time and money. A good freelance editor can charge anything from £500 upwards for even just a basic copy-edit here in the UK (what is that, something like $900 in the US?)  

As a matter of sheer speculation I would dearly like to see Ms Rowling’s pre-professionally edited first submission work. I bet it has all the errors mentioned above and more! But she was lucky; someone read that first Harry Potter draft and realised that under the newbie bloopers was a fabulous read. Or, did she, after amassing enough rejection slips to not worry about buying wallpaper for the next century, decide that she needed a complete re-edit and do something positive about the “encouraging but not for us” comments she had received? 

You see, this is where mainstream and the majority of self published books differ. The first are professionally fully edited, copy edited and then proof read. The second, usually, are not. And I mean not edited. Period.  

Carolyn: Is editing the key to successful self-publishing, then?

Helen: Over and again I hear authors who intend to, or already have, self published say: “Oh but editing is so expensive.”   Believe me, not editing is even more expensive in the long run, because the book you pay to be put in print will not be at its best. You will get readers who say “I enjoyed this” – but will they read it again? Will they rush to buy your next book? Or will you have copies sitting unsold on Amazon for weeks, months….  

Editing is not merely a suggestion, not just important – it is an essential part of the publishing process. And by “editing” I do not mean asking ‘Our Sarah who is a teacher’, or ‘Aunt Jane who is a company secretary’ to read it through. I agree, these are probably perfectly OK to make sure the commas, full stops and speech marks are all where they should be, but unlike a professional, qualified, editor they will know nothing of technique or publisher’s requirements. Then there is sentence structure, continuity and what makes a written book into a readable book. Family and friends, for all their endearing qualities, rarely give honest opinions when it comes to your precious labour of love. 

That too, can be the downfall of many a writer – self or mainstream published. Don’t ask for an honest opinion if all you want is a positive answer.  

Through these last few years I have discovered how to separate the real writers from the self-deluded ones. The real writers – those who will go on to write fabulous books that sell, and have readers eager to buy the next one, and the next….and the next (and go back and read all the others while in-between waiting) are the writers who ask for an honest opinion because they want to hear an honest opinion. 

I get two kinds of e-mail;  “Hi Helen. I’ve written a book, I’d be honoured if you would read it and give me an honest opinion.” And: “Hi Helen; I want to know why I’m getting rejection slips. Can you give me an honest opinion and show me where I am going wrong?” 

I always try to be positive and constructive. But what is the point of ”Wow! This is fabulous!” when, clearly, it isn’t? If the structure is wrong, if the continuity is all over the place or non existent – if the characters are “head hopping” I will say so. Yet I have had authors respond with, “Yes I know the continuity is wrong, but no one will notice.” Believe me they will! These are the authors who will never be successfully published because they do not take enough care in producing the best end result possible. Authors who genuinely wanted my help have gone on to write fabulous books because their response has been, “Oh I see – of course! Thank you!” They have taken advice and found themselves an editor. 

Carolyn: Good advice.  But what about your recent switch to self-publishing?  You have a long history of publications with a major publishing house.  What changed?

Helen: Not everyone who self publishes is a new, novice writer. Some of us have been published mainstream. I have recently ‘self published’ my books here in the UK with an assisted publishing house based in Bristol, SilverWood Books. I am traditionally published in the US – indeed I learnt a short while ago that one of my historical fiction books had made it into the US Today bestseller list – so I am officially a bestselling author now. It has taken me not far off twenty years to get here though!  

Originally published by Random House UK, my backlist was dropped because of poor sales (because of virtually non-existent marketing.) Simultaneously my agent and I parted company. I managed to find a small, independent company who published my books in  their even smaller mainstream imprint. The quality was not as good as I would have liked, but at least I was “mainstream” and in print. 

So why have I opted for self publish now? Unfortunately that small company ran into financial difficulties. I could have tried to find another mainstream to take my books, but by doing so I was looking at weeks, months, possibly even more than a year of being out of print. I could not afford, in the marketing sense, to drop out of sight here in the UK. I had a small legacy from my mother’s estate, so I put it to productive use. SilverWood Books offer a professional service and the end result is proving to be equal to quality publishing standards. 

I am also reaping the benefit of having control over my books. The mistakes are mine (even after numerous edits there are bound to be typos. I am convinced they remain invisible until that final print run) Helen Hart of SilverWood Books has advised me with cover design, text layout etc, and I have agreed her suggestions because, after all, I am paying for her expertise, but had I wanted to I could have said no. Unlike with a mainstream company, who once they have paid you that advance, virtually own the book. It takes a brave author (or a Rotweiller of an agent) to challenge some of their decisions. 

So, I get annoyed when literary people sneer at self published work. They occasionally have justified cause – but with care, dedication – and good editing – most of us authors who have opted to produce our books, our way are doing our best to prove them wrong!   

For writing hints tips go to Discovering The Diamond  http://www.helenhollick.net/culpa41.html  
You are also welcome to visit my website www.helenhollick.net join me on Facebook - www.facebook.com/helen.hollick or come aboard the Sea Witch page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Helen-Hollick-Author/101822116574750  

Carolyn: Helen, my readers and I are grateful that you have taken time to visit with us.  I think we've learned a lot from your examples. Good sailing to you and Jesamiah as you make your way around the globe. 

Readers, don't forget to leave a comment below, along with your e-mail address, so that I can enter you in the drawing for a free copy of Sea Witch from Helen herself.

Bring It Close: The Third Voyage of Captain Jesamiah Acorne

Helen Hollick's 2011 Blog Tour is officially underway.  "Roundheads and Ramblings' is the third stop, and I'm looking forward to welcoming her here on Wednesday, July 6th.  Jesamiah will be welcome, too, provided he is reasonably sober and has had a bath within the last month. (No guarantees of that, I understand.)  Helen is generously offering a GIVEAWAY to my readers.  Everyone who leaves a comment and an e-mail address on the day of her visit will be entered into a random drawing for a copy of the first book in her pirate series, Sea Witch.  Don't miss a chance to get a free copy of this romantic and rousing read.  it's just the thing for a hot summer's day.

In the meantime, here's a blurb on book number three:

Helen Hollick
Bring It Close: Being the Third Voyage of Captain Jesamiah Acorne & his ship, Sea Witch
Isbn 9781906236625 
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 :  

Jesamiah Acorne, Captain of the Sea Witch, has accepted a pardon of amnesty against his misdeeds of piracy, but old enemies do not forget the past. In particular Edward Teach – Blackbeard himself – has a bone to pick with Acorne.

Following an indiscretion with an old flame, Jesamiah finds his fiancée, the midwife and white witch, Tiola Oldstagh, has gone to North Carolina to help with a difficult birth: the problem, that is where Blackbeard now resides. He must not discover that Tiola is Jesamiah’s woman. She will have to hide her gift of Craft from the black-hearted pirate who has sold his soul to the devil.

With Sea Witch damaged and himself wounded, Jesamiah must take stock of the situation – but arrested for acts of piracy how is he to clear his name, avoid the noose, keep Tiola safe and put an end to Blackbeard - all while being haunted by the ghost of his father?

From the Bahamas to North Carolina and Williamsburg in Virginia Bring It Close moves at a swashbuckling pace. There is intrigue, misunderstandings, romance and adventure – all wrapped up in a blend of supernatural fantasy and a sailor’s yarn of a good read!

What readers are saying:

‘Just wanted to let you know I’ve just finished Bring It Close  last night and hated to see it end!  And what an ending! Wow, Jesamiah’s father!  What a surprise that was!  The entire book was fascinating and Jesamiah is just such a bad boy, and so smart, and lucky, and sexy!  I just love him and Tiola together!  This 3 installment to the series is just great and I don’t know what more to say other than it keeps you on the edge of your seat, laughing, crying, horrified (Blackbeard), and so very interested!  I can see each chapter playing out as if I were actually there! Thank you so much for such wonderful reading enjoyment!’ Sue

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!’

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