Monday, 6 August 2018

Writing Non-Fiction. How Hard Can It Be? by Helen Hollick

We are having a swashbuckling day and it’s all about pirates. Yes, me lovelies, I did say pirates! Top selling author of the Sea Witch series, with the rouge pirate, Jesamiah Acorne, Helen Hollick is going to shed light on real pirates in her new publication, Pirates in Truth and Tales. So please help yourself to a tot of rum and settle down for an entertaining look at fact and fiction.

Writing Non-Fiction. How Hard Can It Be?
by Helen Hollick

Pirates were the terrorists of their age, the sailors of the eighteenth century who went ‘On the Account’ hoping to gain an easy-come fortune. The fictional world of pirates is somewhat different to the reality. What are the facts behind the fiction? Where does fact end and fiction begin? Helen has written a series of nautical Voyages based around her fictional pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne and his ship, Sea Witch, but her latest UK release in paperback is a non-fiction book – Pirates: Truth and Tales published by Amberley Press, which explores our fascination with the real pirates and those who are favourites in fiction. Today, Helen drops anchor for another interesting addition to her on-line two-week Voyage around the Blogs with a pirate or two for company…

Quick answer to the question in the title of this article: harder than you think, and definitely harder than writing fiction.

For one thing, when writing fiction you can make a lot of it up. Yes, you have to get the facts right: the right dates for historical fiction, the right technical knowledge for science-fiction, the right detail even for contemporary fiction. I mean, if you were writing a novel set in the USA in 2018 – let’s say a thriller, where there is a plan to assassinate the President – you would not have him travelling along to a major conference in a battered old Only Fools and Horses-type bright yellow three-wheeler would you?

I was approached by Amberley Press to write a book about Pirates in Truth and Tales. That was basically the brief, which was fine as it seemed a fairly broad spectrum to explore. Naturally, as a fiction author I took it exactly as was written on the cover. Pirates as they were in truth, and as they are in tales. I wanted to explore why so many of us are fascinated by these cutthroat men – and women – of the past. They were not nice people. They were thieves, murderers, rapists, kidnappers, torturers and the terrorists of their time. I’m talking the early 18th century, but those labels apply to any pirate of any age, even those of today who haunt the seas off the coast of places like Somalia. What we, the reader, like is the escapism fantasy created by Hollywood and novels. The Johnny Depp / Errol Flynn type pirate and the loveable rogues of our childhood: Captain Pugwash, Captain Hook, Long John Silver… my own Jesamiah Acorne.

My plan was to produce chapters of fact about the well-known pirates, men like Blackbeard, Charles Vane, Sam Bellamy, Stede Bonnet et al, blend in a few not so well knowns and include some interesting facts about life at sea – what did they do in their spare time when they weren’t being pirates, what were their superstitions, what did they eat and drink? (And no, pirates did not only drink rum!) In between these chapters I wanted to introduce some fictional excerpts to compliment the preceding section. So we have the scene where my character, Captain Acorne, meets with Edward Teach, old Blackbeard himself. (This was in the third Voyage, Bring It Close.) Another excerpt was by Swedish author Anna Belfrage, who included the subject of Indentured Service (or more correctly slavery) into one of the books of her time-slip Graham Saga. I included Frenchman’s Creek, the Pirates of the Caribbean Disney Franchise and Starz TV series Black Sails which was based around events before the opening chapter of Treasure Island, although this version was strictly for adult viewing.

The factual research required was hard work, but absorbing and highly interesting. The fictional additions were fun. I was pleased with the result, despite the typo bloopers which crept into the final published hardback version. Hopefully most of these have been corrected for the paperback version which is on sale in the UK now, and the US very soon. Hopefully you will sail over to Amazon to plunder a copy for yourself – and enjoy dipping in and out of the different chapters at moments when you can put your feet up with a glass of wine and a chance to voyage off across the sea with some swashbuckling pirates. Maybe you will even be tempted to increase your treasure trove by purchasing some of the novels I mention? If you do, thank you!

© Helen Hollick
Pirates: Truth And Tales published in paperback in the UK July 2018 and November 2018 in the US – but available for pre-order.

Buy the Books: Amazon Author Page (Universal Link)

Sign up for Helen’s Newsletter and be entered for an annual prize draw.
One name ‘picked from the hat’ in December will win a £10/$10 Amazon gift voucher.

Twitter: @HelenHollick

Follow Helen’s Tour:
These links will take you to the Home Page of each blog host – Helen says thank you for their interest and enthusiasm! For exact URL links to each article go to Helen’s website:  which will be updated every day of the tour.

30th July: Cryssa Bazos  -  Dropping Anchor to Talk About Pirates

31st July: Anna Belfrage - Ships That Pass… 

1st August: Carolyn Hughes - Pirates of the Middle Ages

2nd August: Alison Morton - From Pirate to Emperor

3rd August: Annie Whitehead - The Vikings: Raiders or Pirates?

4th August: Tony Riches - An Interview With Helen Hollick (and maybe a couple of pirates thrown in for good measure?)

5th August: Lucienne Boyce - Anne and Mary. Pirates

6th August: Laura Pilli  - Why Pirates?

7th August: Mary Tod - That Essential Element… For A Pirate.

8th August: Pauline Barclay - Writing Non-Fiction. How Hard Can It Be? 

9th August: Nicola Smith - Pirates: The Tales Mixed With The Truth

10th August: Christoph Fischer - In The Shadow Of The Gallows

11th August: Debdatta  - What Is It About Pirates?

12th August: Discovering Diamonds - It’s Been An Interesting Voyage…

13th August: Sarah Greenwood - Pirates: The Truth and the Tales

14th August: Antoine Vanner - The Man Who Knew About Pirates


 Helen moved from London in 2013 and now lives with her family in North Devon, in an eighteenth century farmhouse. First published in 1994, her passion now is her pirate character, Captain Jesamiah Acorne of the nautical adventure series, The Sea Witch Voyages. Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (UK title A Hollow Crown) the story of Saxon Queen, Emma of Normandy. Her novel Harold the King (US title I Am The Chosen King) explores the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, set in the fifth century, is widely praised as a more down-to-earth historical version of the Arthurian legend. She has written three non-fiction books, Pirates: Truth and Tales, Smugglers in Fact and Fiction (to be published 2019) and as a supporter of indie writers, co-wrote Discovering the Diamond with her editor, Jo Field, a short advice guide for new writers. She runs the Discovering Diamonds review blog for historical fiction assisted by a team of enthusiastic reviewers. 
Helen is published in various languages.

Independent Authors Newsletter - August

As you know one of my other loves is Chill Awards for Independent Authors. If you have not yet seen August's Newsletter, I have added it below.

August Newsletter 2018


Happy 1st August! 

Yes, it is August!

Wherever you are in the world I wish you a fabulous August and please find a little "me" time to chill with a book!

Sunshine or snow let's send up a big cheer for this month's awardees.

Readers' Awards for July
Book of the Month

Book Cover of the Month

Resolutions by Carol Warham

** Eileen Schuh's gorgeous book cover had to be excluded from the judging because the judge designed it! ***

A HUGE thank you to Cathy Helms at AvalonGraphics for being our fabulous Judge for Cover of the Month Award.

PB Special Award

All Awardees of Book of the Month or Book Cover of the Month and PB Special Award are automatically put forward for consideration for BOOK of the YEAR 2018 or BOOK COVER of the YEAR 2018 or PB Special Award 2018

All Authors who receive a Chill with a Book Readers' Award are automatically put forward for consideration for BOOK of the MONTH and BOOK COVER of the MONTH in the month they receive their Award.

The key stone to Chill Awards is its readers and READERS are "always" NEEDED!
Chill can never have enough readers... 

If you love to read, why not read for Chill Awards?

If members of your family or your friends are interested in joining Chill to be a reader, please ask them to email me. Pauline

Chill readers receive Amazon vouchers so they can download to their Kindle / e-reader any book they choose from the Award Programme and no reviews are required.

More information Here

Huge congratulations to all this month's Awardees

A very special thank you to all Chill's readers who read and evaluate the mountain of books submitted.

I also thank each and everyone of you from the bottom of my heart for being part of this amazing Award Programme and being a member of our exclusive family. 

Wishing you a fabulous August and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.

Until next time sending sunny smiles


Thursday, 26 July 2018

Meet Ashley & Zena

I’ve always had a love for donkeys and should I have ended up living with lots of land, I would have had a field full of donkeys and a house filled with dogs. However, I settled with two rescue doggies, small garden and living on a pebble in the ocean, but I can still have a donkey or two can’t I?

Yes, I can and they will be real, but virtual! Ok, let me explain. Just because we can’t have a donkey in our garden we can still help towards caring for those who have not had the best life. With this in mind we decided to “adopt” two adorable donkeys from the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth. The two we choose are seriously cute so please meet Ashley and Zena.


These two are great great friends with each other.


I am sure you agree these are two gorgeous donkeys. and over the next twelve months, I will be keeping a close eye on what they are up to and how they are doing and plan to update you on how Ashley and Zena are doing. Please come back to find out just how these two adorable, new friends are getting on.

As always, thank you for visiting and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.


Monday, 23 July 2018

Addiction - Samantha Tonge

In this special feature about addiction I am truly delighted to have, Samantha Tonge sitting in the hot seat talking about her latest book, published today, 23rd July, Forgive Me Not. Please sit back and be prepared to be surprised.

Tell us a little about your book

Forgive Me Not: A gripping, heartbreaking novel that will take your breath away 

Emma returns to her home, Foxglove Farm, after leaving under a cloud of disgrace two years previously. But there is no red carpet welcome. Her family, friends, the community cannot forget what she did.

It is a story about finding and giving forgiveness, a story about loss, friendship and making amends. It is a warmhearted read, written from the heart, but doesn’t shy away from tackling the grittier aspects of life.

What or who inspired you to write about addiction

In 2016 I found myself sitting in an addiction clinic wondering how I’d got there. My drinking had stretched from weekends to every day of the week. But the problems had started years earlier - I was anorexic and bulimic at university and the mental issues behind the behaviours are very similar.

Getting better was a tough process for me and my family. A big part of recovery is acknowledging the things you have done wrong, the damage you have caused, and -where possible - making amends. And this caused me to think a lot about what forgiveness actually means and how you cope if you can’t give or receive it. I did a lot of research and read some painful stories. Before finding myself in addiction and then in treatment I’d never really thought of this aspect as being a fundamental part of any rehab process. Of course it makes complete sense to me now.

Tell us a little about you?

I live in Manchester UK with my amazing husband and children – and a very furry cat called Mitzie who acts more like a dog. I have a degree in French and German and have travelled widely including an amazing three weeks in Japan. One day I really must set a story there. I’ve sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines and in 2015 my summer bestseller Game of Scones won the Love Stories Awards Best Ebook category.

You have many books published, (RomCom) but this is the first on addiction, is there another book on its way on this subject and if so can we have a peek at what is about?

Forgive Me Not is my first women’s fiction novel (as opposed to romantic comedy) and my next book in that genre will be out February 2019. I can’t say too much about it at the moment but once again it deals with the challenges we face as human beings that we perhaps keep hidden and try to cope with alone. It stars a lovely main character I have fallen completely in love with and I’m hoping her journey will be very relatable to readers. Sorry that I can’t say more at this stage!

 You can find Samantha on all of these Social Media platforms...

I am sure you agree the authors who have been part of this special Addiction themed Blog have introduced us to some page turning reads. 

Thank you fro the bottom of my heart for visiting and meeting my special guests.
 Until next time, I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.


Brought to you by
 In the Cold Light of Day


Chill Awards for Independent Authors

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Addiction - Suzi Stembridge

In this special feature about addiction I am truly delighted to have, Suzi Stembridge sitting in the hot seat talking about her books, The Scorpion’s Last Tale and The Glass Class. Please sit back and be prepared to be addicted!

Tell us a little about each book

In many ways, THE SCORPION’S LAST TALE & THE GLASS CLASS although part of a quartet, are also a duo. Both are set in the 1970s, partly located in Greece and partly in Yorkshire and other areas of Britain.

The Scorpion’s Last Tale takes place in Corfu at the time of the Colonel’s Junta, around 1972-1974 it is not always a comfortable read, this was a grizzly time in a regime that ruled by torture and fear which contrasts with an idyllic family holiday.

The Glass Class is also social history, this partying group of young married couples are finding real life is often tougher than their antics would perhaps suggest.

Both novels feature many of the same characters, particularly the heavy drinking but nevertheless devoted family man, John Griffith Rhyl-Jones and it is pretty obvious he is an alcoholic and his wife affected by his addiction. Although efforts are made by friends and professionals to encourage John to quit drinking, this is never easy. There is plenty of drama in both scenarios, vivid scenery and adventure and there are touching moments of concern. Both books feature death, either accidental or is it outright murder and have elements of a thriller about the plot.  

What or who inspired you to write about alcohol and gambling?

Sadly, it was those closest to me who were forced to confront their addiction to alcohol. These two books do not tackle heart-breaking and difficult path to sobriety, that is too raw. What both books do highlight is, in what is often very close and loving relationship in an addictive marriage, the pain and suffering are not just of the addicted but of the co-dependents. In many ways, heavy drinking was the norm of the twentieth century and the first book in this series CAST A HOROSCOPE also treats, as normal, the characters’ attitude to heavy alcohol consumption, (here 1960s aircrew).

Tell us a little about you?

It is probably the time to admit that I am (just) a pre-war baby! The books discussed above are probably a product of my era (1960s-1980s), my career has always been in travel, from working as an air-hostess in the 1960s in the very early days of package holidays, flying out of Southend airport, up to time of founding and running my own tour operation, taking clients to quieter and remoter parts of Greece, called Filoxenia. Mid-career, I took an Open University degree and graduated after studying the culture and history of Ancient Greece, Modern Art, the Nineteenth Century Novel among other subjects. I am married, we have two adult children and live on the Pennine hills in West Yorkshire. When I retired, I began a series of novels, which I call JIGSAW. I wrote 8 novels and one children’s book about a Spaniel dog. The 8 books form one family saga, comprising two quartets, THE COMING OF AGE (see above) and THE GREEK LETTERS QUARTET, (this last beginning at the time of Greek War of Independence and running to the present day).

Is there another book on its way and if so can we have a peek at what is about?

With my husband, we may write some memoirs about our travels all over Greece at the time of our travel business. Or perhaps there is just one more “Working Title” to complete the Jigsaw! (Characters who have lived and been alive in eight books surely won’t just die all at once!!)

You can find Suzi on all of these Social Media platforms...


Full Amazon page link:
Link for THE SCORPION’S LAST TALE paperback:
Link for THE GLASS CLASS paperback:


Jigsaw: Greek Letters & Coming of Age – Two Quartets
Author– writer of historical novels & contemporary fiction
Greece is the Theme
Pennine Writers & Landscape Artists Capturing Greece


I am sure you agree these books are addictive, so please check them out. 
And, don't forget to come back and meet another, best selling author and their page turning book.

See you tomorrow! 
Until then, have a fabulous day and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.


Brought to you by
 In the Cold Light of Day


Chill Awards for Independent Authors