Sailing Into New Seas!

Something Exciting to Share!

As some of my friends, followers and readers know, I’ve been a published author for over twenty years now. During those years I have some fabulous ‘highs’ and some absolute depth ‘lows’. The biggest High was being accepted for publication by William Heinemann (Random House UK) in 1993, the lowest Low – being dropped simultaneously by my agent and publisher.


Words cannot convey the devastation I felt after being told (quite brutally) by said ex-agent that my career had (apparently) ended. The cause of the rift was that she didn’t like Sea Witch. That added to the devastation because I had put my heart and soul into writing that book, and since then several readers – including some top authors - have told me it shows. The few people to be negative seem to be readers who do not like violence, sex, or bad language… but Sea Witch is a pirate-based adventure for adults, with adult content. 

Pirates usually were violent, sex-orienteered and foul-mouthed, but fair enough, it would be a boring world if we all liked reading the same thing. 
Unfortunately ex-agent also didn’t like it, (didn't like the Pirates of the Caribbean movie) and didn't like me for sticking to my gut-instinct, not meekly doing as she wanted (ordered) me to do.
He’s a drunken womaniser!’ she protested. 

Umm… pirate? 
It isn’t suitable for teenage boys!’ she exclaimed. 
Umm… actually quite a few teenage boys love it - but I didn’t write Sea Witch for teenage boys. 
I don’t write for teenage boys. 
I have no intention of writing for teenage boys. 
I was told to either write it for teenage boys or find another agent. 

I wrote Sea Witch because I enjoyed the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and wanted to read something similar – a nautical adventure with a handsome, loveable, rogue of a pirate captain, with a believable blend of fantasy intertwined. I found plenty of Young Adult fiction that fitted the bill, but nothing for adults with that inclusion of adult content.

So I wrote my own.


Getting over the shock of being dumped in such a fashion I retrieved my files for my other serious historical fiction novels, put my faith in Sea Witch, and went ‘Indie’ – self-published. There have been several Lows there too, but I’ve survived. OK I don’t sell my books by the thousand, but they are selling steadily. I have an increasing readership – and my pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne, has an expanding fan base clamouring for me to get the Fifth Voyage, On The Account finished. (Nearly there!)

There is always that little bit of doubt, though, as an Indie writer. Am I a good writer? How do I reach more readers? Is this all just a waste of time? I can’t keep up with all this marketing – why on earth am I doing this!

And then, one day, out of the blue something turns up to make you shout ‘Yes! It is all worthwhile!’

Except for me on this occasion two things more or less came along together. Maybe small fry to established mainstream authors, publishers and agents, but these two things have restored my self-confidence and shown me that I was right about Sea Witch (and the following books in the series.)

Happy Dance Grin number one: 



I was approached by Catnip Edizioni, A young digital publishing house dedicated to unpublished authors and Italian translations of international discoveries” to have the entire series of the Sea Witch Voyages translated into Italian.
I have now signed the contract and look forward to seeing Jesamiah in Italian. 
(Well you’ve heard of Spaghetti Westerns… why not Spaghetti Pirates?)

Their latest release is :

Happy Dance Grin number two: 

I have signed a contract after being approached by UK mainstream Amberley Publishing to write a non-fiction book about pirates.

We have not completely decided on a title yet, but it will be something like Pirates: the Fiction and the Fact (although we’ll come up with something more interesting than that).

Inside will be exactly what is says on the label. The plan is to write the factual side of pirates, exploring the famous names and exploits but also covering what pirates did in their ‘spare time’; how they lived, plundered – and died. Balancing this with the fictional world of piracy, from Errol Flynn to Jack Sparrow, and yes, via my own Jesamiah Acorne!

The background flavour of my Sea Witch Voyages are based on fact – Bring It Close, the third Voyage for instance, features Blackbeard (that most notorious pirate). I wove his story into Jesamiah’s adventures. Exploring the facts that can be turned into fiction is occasionally a challenge, but is always exciting.



Pirates?
Were they Rough Hooligans or Romantic Heroes? 
They were actually terrorists, drunks, womanisers, murderers, thieves... but in novels, well, don't we all like the bad-boy hero who, beneath it all, has a heart (and a tooth or two) of gold?

About Amberley Publishing
At Amberley we aim to publish authoritative books which also broaden the appeal and accessibility of the subjects. Our authors range hugely in experience from first-time writers to well-known professionals but they all display impressive knowledge and enthusiasm in their fields of expertise. Our aim at Amberley is to channel our authors’ passion through their books, in a way that appeals to a large and varied readership. We hope our books can introduce new readers to a topic, stir up old memories, fill in knowledge gaps, spark debate or quite simply provide enjoyment of a subject.”
Living In Squares - Loving In Triangles
Their latest book is: Living in Squares, Loving in Triangles: The Lives and Loves of Virginia Woolf & the Bloomsbury Group by Amy Licence 


I am thrilled by this new venture (and although I am proud of being an an Indie writer,) a return to mainstream publishing in the UK because I have been asked to write a book is very exciting!



So to all who read my books, follow me here on this blog (and my other blogs,) on Facebook, Twitter and such - I am honoured by, and appreciate, your support, friendship and enthusiasm for my books...      THANK YOU


Looking Back : Previous article: Publishing the Roman Way by Alison Morton 


40 comments:

  1. Great news. Let the agent walk the plank.

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    1. Thanks - and what a good idea! LOL

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  2. Congratulations, Helen. Joining in with your happy dance, this is wonderful news x

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    1. Thank you Suzie - I'm so thrilled at being invited to do something I'm going to thoroughly enjoy!

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  3. Excellent news Helen, how exciting xxx

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  4. Excellent news and very well deserved, Helen. It is Heinemann's loss and oh, how they will regret it when your books are made into movies!

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    1. I must admit I would love to be able to send ex-agent a complimentary ticket to a prem! Gloat? Me? Never! LOL

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    2. Oh, go on. Just a tiny gloat. I'm sure you've earnt the right.

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    3. Oh OK then, you've twisted my arm LOL :-D

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  5. I'm joining the other commenters, Helen, to congratulate you on going your own way. You're reaping the rewards now, aren't you? :-)

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    1. Thanks Elaine... its only taken 20+ years! LOL

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  6. Ooooh. I will definitely be buying a copy of your factual book on pirates. And as for the rest - the proof of the pudding is in the readership. I think you've proved that many times over. Many congratualtions for your new deals. i hope Jessamiah likes spaghetti, lol.

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  7. Wonderful blog. Congratulations Helen, it all sounds very exciting. Nice to hear that byfollowing your heart your work is being rewarded. Good luck.

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    1. Sometimes heart is more sensible than head isn't it?

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  8. Congratulations Helen! This is wonderful news on two fronts. Teenage boys can read Treasure Island, right? I'm so glad I have Sea Witch. I like all the things you mentioned. Now to find time to read. Good luck!

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    1. Time to read....? If you find that mystical place do let me know! LOL

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  9. Huzzah for my favorite author!!! (And I needn't mention how I feel about your former agent and publisher.)

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  10. Ooo argh that sounds fine, break out the rum. Oh, you already have! X

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    1. Rum duly broken... well, emptied! LOL

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  11. Well done, Helen. This is fabulous news and can't wait to read the Pirate non-fiction. And always doubly satisfying when you get "approached" rather than chasing the dream all the time. As you know, I've been 'approached" twice myself this year - first from the production company who MAY be interested in turning "The Assassin's Mark" into a TV drama, and then from the American Library in Paris in relation to "The Last Campaign of Marianne Tambour." All good stuff, and let's raise a glass to SilverWood as well, eh, for giving us proud indies a home. Big hugs x

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    1. Yes definitely re SilverWood Books!

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  12. I m delighted for you, Helen. Huge congratulations! x

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  13. As another traditionally published author of nearly 20 years who is about to go indie with a genre-jumping historical science-fiction fantasy, ATLANTOS, I read every word of your experience with great interest and applause. I, too, have had the odd crisis of confidence, so hearing of your triumphs makes my heart sing for both you and me.

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    1. Thanks Robin: going Indie is not easy, there is still a stigma attached to it, but the quality of writing and production has vastly improved these last couple of years and 'Indie' authors are realising that if they want to be taken seriously as a professional author then they have to produce their books professionally. For some of us Indie is the only option because publishers cannot seem to think 'outside the box' - especially where cross-genre novels are involved! Do make sure you contact me to review your book for HNS Indie Reviews when it's published!

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  14. So glad you stuck to your guns, Helen. People - as well as agents - spout all sorts of altruistic things, and if we listened to them all, we'd never get anywhere other than perhaps onto the dumbed-down slush pile of best-sellers ... Having said that ... Never mind. Forget I fantasized for a silly second.
    I love your feisty pirate defying seas and souls, as well as swooning ladies.
    Keep them coming. We need a little "E"-adventure in our lives.

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    1. Thanks Inge - I've often wondered whether I would accept a mainstream offer for Sea Witch now that I've established myself as Indie here in the UK. The answer is 'probably not' for the UK because I like having that independent control of doing what I want to do. Having said that - I would dearly love to have a mainstream offer from abroad (including the US) ... so being approached by Catnip Edizioni is a huge buzz!

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  15. Well deserved Helen. I know your heart will guide you. Here's to calm waters and much adventure! All the best, Elaine xxx

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  16. Wowzers! Exciting times😉☺️ Absolutely thrilled for you; you lucky Wench! And so deserved. Well done, Helen.

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  17. Fabulous news, Helen! Well done! Couldn't happen to a nicer author. ;-)

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  18. Love it, Helen! Best wishes with both of these things, especially the pirate non-fiction book. Now other writers will be listing your book in their bibliographies!

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