Friday, 20 January 2017

A B.R.A.G. Award for The Wendy House

I'm sooo excited to announce that my latest book, The Wendy House has been honoured with a B.R.A.G. Award I can’t begin to tell you how seriously happy I feel.

I never get over that nervous feeling, despite having six books published, when my baby is set free into the big wide world. I know it is the same for many authors when, having cherished their hard work from conception and then letting it take flight.
I always feel honoured when readers leave a review either publicly or via an email to me personally, so receiving a B.R.A.G. Award is not just the icing on the cake, but the cherry too.

Here is the blurb from my Award winning book…

When Nicola changes overnight from a bright, happy young child into a sullen, rebellious girl, ceasing to show interest in anything or anyone around her, her parents struggle to understand why. As she develops into a difficult, troubled, hostile teenager they put it down to hormones, believing it will pass. Yet Nicola goes from bad to worse and no matter how much her mother tries to reach out to her, it seems she is hell bent on self-destruction. When she leaves home at seventeen, rushing into the arms of a man ten years her senior and quickly becoming pregnant, her despairing mother almost gives up on her. A decade later, the events that stole Nicola’s childhood and changed the course of her life threaten finally to destroy her. She knows if she is to cling on to her sanity she must tell her mother the dreadful secret she has carried all these years, but her fear that she will be met with disbelief, hostility and branded an evil liar drives her to the edge.

A heart-rending story of betrayal, secrets and gripping fear.

This Dedication and Special Thank You is added to both Kindle and paperback versions of The Wendy House.

This book is pure fiction. The people and places are from my imagination and bare no relation to anyone living or dead. However, I could not have written this book without the help of a special person I met some years ago. What this lovely, brave lady shared with me, not only broke my heart, but will live with me forever. Yet despite the pain of her years of abuse, she wanted me to write a book on this subject. For this courageous, beautiful lady, I dedicate, The Wendy House.
This is for you lovely with all my love.

Thank you, not only, for stopping by, but for all your wonderful friendship and support. Without you I may never have been able to write this post.

I hope the sun is shinning in your heart and on your face.


My first love

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Discovering Diamonds with Helen Hollick

Today, I have the lovely, bestselling author, Helen Hollick, who I am proud to have as a friend, talking about her fantastic new project, Discovering Diamonds.

Launched to a full gun salute on 1st January, Discovering Diamonds is a new Review Blog site, but it is not just any ordinary Review Site, Helen please tell about this exciting new venture.

We review historical fiction (and maybe the occasional non-fiction, but that will be by invitation only). By ‘historical’ I mean anything that has 75% of the story set pre-1950 (this is because I was born in 1953 and I refuse to be thought of as ‘historic’!) although at our discretion we will review something history-based set in the 1960s. We might even consider something contemporary if it has a very strong historical connection – I am thinking specifically of time travel, or Alison Morton’s wonderful Roma Nova series, which are modern-day thrillers, but with the theme that the Roman administration survived, which I think readers of Roman-Age novels (especially mystery/thrillers) will find fascinating.

From those submitted to us, we select which books to review which means just because you submit a book it doesn’t mean we will automatically review it. A novel has to be a very good 5 star read to reach the status of a Discovered Diamond!

The books that are not quite 5 stars – the 4 stars – will also get a review, and occasionally a new debut author will also receive a review by way of support and encouragement. These latter reviews will usually have a certain amount of constructive criticism included – maybe another edit will be suggested to pick up some missed typos, or perhaps a note to watch a tendency to ‘head hop’.

Let me stress that we are not a critique service, but our view is that potential good authors (especially indie authors) need support to start the climb up that long, steep, ladder, and I, and my ‘team’, take great pleasure in seeing these new authors improve and grow as they write more books. But to do so they often require that little bit of courage and confidence to keep going, a thing that is so easy to destroy if enthusiastic encouragement is not given.

We also accept any historical sub-genre: romance, fantasy, GLBT, alternate… even erotica. Nor do we differentiate between traditional mainstream or indie – a good book is a good book whatever its sub-genre and however it is produced. The emphasis, though, is on the word good. We are looking for quality produced books that are value for money to buy, and are suitable for recommending by ‘word of mouth’ (the best way for authors to sell books!)

How does Discovering Diamonds work?

With a lot of hard work from myself and my wonderful Review and Admin team! It is fairly simple: fill in the contact form on the blog’s sidebar (or just email me) and you will receive detailed instructions of where and how to submit your novel.

We primarily only want e-books (mobi or e-pub preferably) not hard copy paperbacks or hardbacks, this is because we do not charge a fee of any sort (we are all volunteers!) so there is no funding to cover forwarding books to various reviewers, nor do I want to give out personal addresses. In some cases, if there is no e-book version, or there are complications we can arrange to receive a paperback edition. We do not accept gift vouchers by the way – they are too complicated to use when other reviewers are involved.

Once received our e-book editor, Nicky Galliers, sends the files to our network of reviewers, who read the book and if they enjoyed it, write a review, which is sent to me. I edit, add links to Amazon and a cover image… and off we go!

Note: no books are passed on, all are deleted once read.

We also have some interesting additional pages – a regular slot for reader’s to have their say or comment on a selection of monthly topics on our Reader’s Voice page, or our Guest Spot will have tributes to special authors or books – we started with my own personal Best Author, Rosemary Sutcliff. In February we have a tribute to |Bernard Cornwell.

I see there are several awards on offer, tell a little about them.

For the books we select to review we give some nice logos for authors to use as and where they wish to promote their books. The basic two are the Discovered Diamond and ‘this book has been reviewed by Discovering Diamonds’. Then there is the Book of the Month and Book of the Year – which are somewhat self-explanatory!

We also include the Indie BRAG medallion logo and the Chill With a Book Award for novels that have achieved these honours. (But authors must tell us about these, we do not have time to go looking!)

How often do you post reviews?

Thanks to the ability to schedule posts… everyday, except Sunday.

How can readers / authors make sure they keep up to date with what is happening on Discovering Diamonds?

Fill in the subscribe by e-mail form is probably the best and easiest, and you will automatically receive notification of new books reviewed every day. Alternatively, ‘like’ our Facebook page or look for the hashtag #DDRevs on Twitter.

I see there is a monthly award for the best book cover can any author put their cover forward for this?

Yes, this has kindly been promoted by graphics designer Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics, and there will also be a Cover of the Year at the end of 2017. Authors cannot enter for this, though – Cathy selects a shortlist and an eventual Cover of the Month from the books we have reviewed. So maybe your novel was reviewed but didn’t quite make it as an elite Discovered Diamond … but it still might be chosen as Cover of the Month!

Where do you see Discovering Diamonds in a year’s time?

I must be honest, once we get established I would like someone else to take over the every-day running and organising, although I’d still like to keep an eye on things (and maybe have more time to do some actual reviewing!) Volunteers welcome to contact me!

I am hoping the site will keep a nice, steady, tick-over of submissions and reviews and reaches a status of having your book reviewed by #DDRevs is a sought-after achievement. I want this accolade not for myself, but for the wonderful authors we review. I want an author to be able to boast, with pride and pleasure, ‘Look, my book has the great honour of being selected as a Discovered Diamond – reviewed by one of the best UK-based review blogs on the Internet!”


Helen Hollick moved from London in 2013 and now lives with her family in North Devon, in an eighteenth century farmhouse surrounded by thirteen acres of fields and woodland. A variety of pets include horses, three Exmoor ponies, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks and geese.

First published over twenty years ago, her main passion 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 (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) – the story of Saxon Queen, Emma of Normandy. Her novel Harold the King (titled I Am The Chosen King in the US) is a re-telling of the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings. While her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, set in the fifth century, is widely acclaimed as a different telling of the Arthurian Myth.

She has written two non-fiction books, Pirates; Truth and Tale and as a supporter of indie writers, co-wrote Discovering the Diamond with her editor, Jo Field, a short advice guide for new and novice writers who are interested in self-publishing.

Helen is published in various languages including Turkish, Italian and German.

Cath Helms : (Graphics Designer and Cover of the month judge)

Twitter: @HelenHollick #DDRevs

Helen Hollick :

Thank you Helen and I know Discovering Diamonds is going to be a runaway success.

Thank you for stopping by and finding out about Discovering Diamonds and I hope I will be seeing your books sporting one of the fabulous logos.

Until the next time, I hope the sun is shinning in your heart and on your face.


My first love

My other love

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Meet Zilda Gilespie

Designed by Avalon Graphics

Back in December I had great fun on Helen Hollick’s Blog joining in on a special event that had Helen interviewing best supporting characters from a number of top selling books. Today, I am going to share that interview with you.

…. And The Best Supporting Character Is…

We all know the protagonist is the hero (or anti-hero!) of a novel. He or she usually has a companion main character – often the ‘love interest’ or maybe the stalwart side-kick, but what about that next rank down – the supporting role guy or gal? You know, the one who doesn’t get Best Actor, but Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.

I thought it time that some of these supporting cast characters had a chance to step from the shadows of novels and have a turn in the limelight – join me here every day from [date] December to [date] December to meet the next Supporting Character…

So, a rousing round of applause please for…. Zilda Gilespie

Helen: Hello, I believe you appear in Pauline Barclay’s novel Satchfield Hall? Would you like to introduce yourself?

Thank you, but you might be talking about a novel, but it is my life you are asking me to discuss here. I am not complaining, just putting things straight for you. Right, my name is Zilda Gillespie. I am married to Robert and we have one son, David. For many years we have been close friends of the Bryant-Smythe’s at Satchfield Hall, indeed my husband has joined forces with Henry on several business ventures and it is through these associations it was rumoured David had been involved with Celia Bryant –Smythe. Believe you me my son knows better than to sniff around Bryant-Smythe’s daughter.

Helen: what role do you play in the novel?

Goodness, this is not a play, it is real life. However, I will humour you because I can see you mean well so I will play along. My role in this heart rending story is an important one. I support my husband and run our household. David, now grown up, is like his father, confident and independent and more than able to take care of himself whilst seeking the life he desires. At least that was what I believed, but events took an unthinkable turn and we found ourselves plunged into a nightmare almost breaking us emotionally.

Helen: No spoilers. But are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’?

Let me say that I have my say to protect my family which at times has caused unsettled feelings. At the end of the day, I want what is best for those I love. How I am viewed by others I really don’t know and care less.

Helen: So you support the lead character? Who is he or she and tell us a little bit about him or her?

A difficult question because whilst Celia Bryant-Smythe is the leading character in this sweeping saga, my son should also take centre stage at times too. Celia is a young wealthy lady who is adored by her mother, however, her father’s views changed dramatically, with devastating consequences, once he learnt what she has been up to behind his back. It is 1943 war or no war there is no excuse for moral standards to slip whatever the circumstance.  My son, David found himself being caught up in all the nasty business. War, wealth and power can turn unpleasant people, like Henry Bryant-Smythe into evil beings and you cannot always escape the fall out as we were all to learn to our cost.

Helen: Now be honest – what do you really think of this lead character!

A liar and trollop, if I am blunt, but what really happened found me having to reconsider my judgement on every level. I’m not always right, but I am never wrong, except this time I could not have been further off kilter.

Helen: Do you like being the ‘supporting role’ or do you wish you could have a lead part in a book of your own?

Supporting or leading role, call it what you will, but had I had a leading role as you put it, I would have dealt with Henry Bryant-Smythe long before he went out to destroy everyone else.   

Helen: What is one of your least favourite scenes?

During the years there are moments and events that cause my heart to miss a beat, but the one that will stay with me forever is the moment I learnt the truth; it was heart breaking.

Helen: and your most favourite?

Pains me as it does to admit it, but knowing I was wrong.

Helen: Thank you – that was really interesting

Thank you to my surprise it was fun and at the same time therapeutic being able to reflect on that time.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Zilda as much as Helen did.
Until the next time, I hope the sun is shinning in your heart and on your face.


My first love

My second love...

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Me and Chill with a Book Award!

As you know, or maybe not! I am the person behind the new Indie Award, Chill with a Book. I started the Award back in September and it has gone amazingly. Indie authors from as far as Australia, USA, Canada and of course the UK have shown interest in the Award. Truly international! A total of  twenty Awards were made in 2016. 

For 2017 I am delighted to announce exciting changes to the Award. As well as the Readers’ Award, honoured for the best reads from Indie authors, there will be TWO more Awards: a Book of the Month Award and a Book of the Year Award.

Each month all books honoured with a Readers’ Award will be nominated for the Book of the Month Award. The winner will be announced in the first half of the following month.

All Book of the Month Awardees will be nominated for the Book of the Year Award. This means a total of thirteen new Awards.

New Award buttons / emblems have been designed to cover all Awards by the brilliant, Cathy Helms fromAvalon Graphics.

To ensure all Honourees from 2016 do not lose out on these extra Awards, Awards will be announced later this month for Book of the Month for September, October, November & December. Finally, a Book of the Year Award will be announced for 2016.

Chill’s exclusive Award is a badge of honour for Indie authors to be proud of receiving and for readers and the book world at large to see that Indie authors write and produce great reads.

Chill's web site...

I don’t need to tell you that I am passionate about this Award and I want it to be a huge success and to highlight great reads from Indie authors. I know it is going to be a very exciting 2017 at Chill with a Book Award for Indie authors and I know I am going to be very very busy too. And, of course I am going to be writing book seven, I have started with the first 20,000 words, I just need to write the rest….

I will of course keep you posted on all events, try keeping me away!

Until the next time, I hope the sun is shinning in your heart and on your face.