MORE to BROWSE - Pages that might be of Interest

Tuesday 31 May 2016

quill, fountain pen, typewriter...?

what's your choice?  
... My Tuesday Talk guest .... author T. J. Spears

Writing a novel has never been easier; getting it published has never been more difficult.

Note that I said easier. It has never been easy. Likewise it has always been difficult to find a publisher. But consider the toilsome business of writing a novel before the invention of the word - processor.

In the nineteenth century Charles Dickens wrote his novels with a quill pen, dipped every minute or so in a pot of ink. Mark Twain used a fountain pen. If you search the internet for examples of the manuscript pages of their first drafts you will see a jumble of almost illegible annotations, corrections and excisions, not to mention unsightly blots and smudges. Scholars find these pages fascinating for the insight they reveal into the creative processes of these giants of literature. On a more mundane level I find them impressive for the sheer hard work that went into writing a novel in longhand. (I should have said ‘goes’ in the previous sentence as I believe Anne Tyler still does.)

Typewriters compounded the problem for those of us who never learned to type properly.  It is true liquid paper allowed limited correction and modification. However the resulting first drafts were still something of a nightmare to anyone other than the author when it came to typing up a cleaner version.

These paragraphs above were drafted on a word processor. For the record, up to this point in the article, I have used the following tools: delete, cut and paste, spell-checker and altered my word choice on half a dozen occasions. Imagine how the draft would appear if I had been working on real paper. 

The ‘save changes’ command banished all these tentative attempts at expressing my thoughts into electronic oblivion. Of course the consequence is that any future scholar who is foolish enough to seek an insight into the creative processes of  T.J. Spears is going to be sadly disappointed.

Now I made so many false starts, vacillations and sheer careless mistakes when composing these few paragraphs to realise I could never have written a novel if I had had to rely on pen or pencil, rubber, scissors and glue stick. You might say I am insufficiently motivated, but I would reply that I am very aware of my limitations. I would have been too discouraged by the sight of the complicated mess of my first draft and balked at the grind of rewriting the next draft and all the future drafts that would be necessary. 

However for thousands of aspiring writers like me the invention of the word processing program has been immensely liberating. Now any schmuck with a processor (to paraphrase Jack Warner famous dismissal of scriptwriters) can produce a decent draft with two fingers - a draft that is capable of being modified infinitely without any more effort than the thought that must go into the content.

(There is an interesting analogy to be made with digital photography. Everyone is a photographer now but how many memorable photographs are being taken?  Probably a considerable number but they are buried away among many millions of pointless ‘snaps’ and ‘selfies’ on countless hard drives.) 

When I did eventually succeed in writing novels I discovered that my method of working is particularly suited to the word processor. Not having a firmly laid out plot line I often draft at both ends of the novel in progress. To take one example: early on in ‘Eva Jelinek’  I wrote a good deal of dialogue between two characters which portrayed their relationship as deeply antagonistic. Towards the middle of the novel I realised that it would suit the plot development much better for them to begin to see good qualities in each other. It was very easy to go back to the beginning and soften the early dialogue to make a rapprochement credible. Now in writing the sequel to ‘Eva Jelinek’ I am in the process of going back through the draft and adding scenes to lay the ground for later events. That would have been extremely laborious without my word processor.

Most of us know the feeling that comes after a conversation (usually an argument) when the clever clincher of a remark comes to mind just too late to use it. Reading over a section of dialogue days later these belated inspirations come unbidden and just cry out to be inserted (painlessly) with the word processor. And how many times does a writer want to change a character’s name because it no longer feels quite right? There is some thing particularly satisfying about using the ‘find and replace’ tool and the message comes up to inform you that “Word has checked the document and made 41 changes”. No danger that the reader will come across some mysterious intruding character with the original name that one has failed to spot on a proof reading.

So the word processor has ushered in an author’s paradise? Not quite.

There have always been more writers clamouring for publication than firms prepared to take the risk of publishing them. The sheer technical effort of finishing the manuscript weeded out the faint-hearted so there was a kind of natural selection at play. Historically writers submitted their work to the publisher directly, and the comparatively manageable number of manuscripts arriving in the office enabled the firm’s readers to cope. Then around 1880 the profession of literary agent appeared and these firms began to act as a filter between writer and publisher (as well as providing other useful services).  For a century or so good material had a decent chance of finding a publisher.

Now the literary agencies are inundated with the product of a hundred thousand word-processors and the works of talented new writers are the needles in that literary haystack.

I am a member of a mutual review site (in which reviewers are randomly allocated an extract from a work of fiction) and this has given me an insight into the difficult job confronting the staff of literary agencies. In general the extracts I have been allocated for review are derivative, predictable, ill-proofed and do not always conform to the specifications laid down by the site. I imagine a great deal of the writing which is sent to literary agents is not dissimilar, so it is no great surprise that each submission gets only a cursory glance before ( if one is lucky) the standard polite refusal is sent out.

Does this sound bitter? Please excuse me - I got one of those polite emails today.

It hasn’t been an entirely bad week however. The Historical Novel Society, has given ‘Eva Jelinek’ a very positive review which more than makes up for today’s rejection. 

And I can console myself with this thought: that’s just one more literary agency which will miss out on the ten per cent when I sell the film rights!  

HNS Review

Helen - and ironically, the original format sent to me was not one I could open, so I had to ask for it to be set in word.doc *laugh*
but..... another book for my To Be Read Pile I think!

buy here from on Kindle

Monday 23 May 2016

Tuesday Talk: The young do not know history

By Jerry Amernic

Novelists deal with rejection. We get rejected all the time and receive replies like “This does not fit in with our current editorial needs.” But when a publisher turns down a novel because “I found that I had to suspend disbelief,” as one of them told my agent, that is another thing.

My novel The Last Witness is set in the near future in 2039. It’s about a 100-year-old man who is the last living survivor of the Holocaust, but he lives in a world abysmally ignorant and complacent about the last century. Apparently, this publisher didn’t think people’s knowledge of history would be so thin one generation down the road.

So I produced a video. Now you can’t make a video that shows what people know or don’t know about major historical events in the near future, as in my novel, but you can make one that shows what they know today. And I did. A videographer and I went out one cold afternoon in November to ask university students in Toronto what they know about the Holocaust and World War II.

I asked two girls when the Holocaust took place and at first they said “the 1980s,” but they weren’t sure. Then they said “nineteen-forty …” but not with much conviction.

I asked the next pair if they ever heard of The Final Solution and no they hadn’t. I asked if they have heard of D-Day and the beaches of Normandy. This was a few days before November 11th and one might think the war would be top of mind. One of them shook his head while the other said something about D-Day being “the last day that it was all going on” and that was it. Neither of them could tell me who the Allies were, or who FDR or Churchill were. And on it went.

People are shocked when they see my video. It was shown at a conference of historians in Poland and is now in the film library at Yad Yashem, the world centre for Holocaust research in Jerusalem. I show it when I speak to book clubs or do talks about my novels. The video has been shown at church congregations and in synagogues.

While The Last Witness is fiction, it’s also a warning that we imperil ourselves by neglecting the past. The novel has flashbacks with my character as a little boy in a Jewish ghetto and later at Auschwitz where he is the only one in his family to survive, and how he survives is, well, the stuff of novels.

University or college students who know precious little about history are not confined to Canada. Indeed, in my research I looked at many polls and surveys. A 2008 survey by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum – the first museum in the U.S. dedicated to the First Amendment – found that 22% of Americans sampled could name all five members of the TV family ‘The Simpsons,’ but only one in 1,000 could name all five freedoms from the First Amendment.

Gallup has done surveys too. It once asked Americans ‘Which country dropped the nuclear bomb?’ Only 49% knew. Less than half. Another time it asked ‘What was the Holocaust?’ and 70% of respondents said they knew, but that meant 30% didn’t.

A 2011 poll in the U.K. found that more than 28% of young people aged 18 to 29 didn’t know if the Holocaust ever happened.

A 2005 poll by the American Jewish Committee surveyed Holocaust knowledge in seven countries – the U.S., Austria, France, Germany, Poland, the U.K., and Sweden. Right across the board, for every question, knowledge was greatest in Sweden and lowest in the United States. One question asked if people knew what Auschwitz, Dachau and Treblinka were. In Sweden 91% of the respondents said they knew, but in the U.S. it was only 44%. The U.K. wasn’t much better at 53%.

Another question was about how many Jews were killed in Europe by the Nazis. Again, Sweden was at the top with 55% who said they knew, and the U.S. was at the bottom with 33%. Here’s a final word on surveys. In 2009 the University of Haifa in Israel surveyed Israeli Arabs about the Holocaust and over 40% of them didn’t think it took place. They thought it was a myth.

I did a lot of research to write The Last Witness, as I do with all my books. I met with former child survivors, and with Sir Martin Gilbert, the esteemed British historian who passed away last year. Gilbert was the official biographer of Winston Churchill and wrote over 70 books, and is widely considered the leading chronicler of the Holocaust. Not one former child survivor nor Mr. Gilbert himself had a problem with my premise about people knowing so little about something like the Holocaust.

Young people not knowing history is a problem that permeates much of the world, but let’s focus on the West. This is a serious issue in Canada, the U.S., U.K., and many other countries.

Last summer I attended the Thrillerfest conference in New York City and met Nelson DeMemille, one of the world’s top selling writers. He asked for a copy of The Last Witness, so I sent it to him. Later I received a letter – not an email, a letter – and he said the premise of my novel is on target. He also said he majored in history in college and can’t believe how little young people know today.

I can’t speak for all school systems, but in Ontario where I live high schools require only one history course, which the student can take in first year, and then never touch a history book again.

Last year I released another novel. QUMRAN is a biblical-historical thriller that gets into the Dead Sea Scrolls, all the Arab-Israeli wars of the 20th century, and stuff like the Holy Shroud and Holy Grail. The holy what? Well, if you don’t know, maybe you should just read it.

[Jerry Amernic is an author of novels and non-fiction books. His 2014 novel The Last Witness is about the last living survivor of the Holocaust, while his 2015 release QUMRAN is a biblical-historical thriller about an archaeologist who makes a dramatic discovery in the Holy Land.]

Website    Facebook    Twitter  Last Witness     Qumran

Tuesday 17 May 2016


by Susan Hughes

One hundred years ago, across Britain ordinary women went to work in the munitions factories to help the war effort against Germany. Until recently, their story was obscured by the shadow of the trench warfare experience, but as part of the centenary commemorations of the First World War, their contribution has been more widely acknowledged.

When I stumbled across the story of the munitionettes back in 2011, I became fascinated by them. I at once sensed something different. They weren’t engaged in traditional, feminine roles such as nursing - largely the preserve of middle class women - or in other female dominated jobs. These munitionettes were largely working class women who stepped into the breach to do the work previously done by men. I had found my main female characters for my novel, A Kiss from France. 

Lizzie Fenwick, a working class girl, is young and ambitious, and sees munitions work as an opportunity to escape domestic service and better herself as she prepares to forge a new career after the war. Her counterpoint, Eunice Wilson, however, is prepared to accept the work is just ‘for the duration’ of the war.

The idea of women going into the munitions factories was promoted by a march organised between Mrs Pankhurst, leader of the suffragette WSPU, and David Lloyd George, Minister of Munitions. A shortage of shells and increasing manpower needs on the battle front meant an army of women was needed back home to fill the gap.

(permission to use this photo has been applied for)
At first such women captured the public imagination and quickly became media darlings. The Ministry of Information ensured they were portrayed as the poster girls for the war effort back home. It suited the government’s aims to find ways to glamorise the munitionettes’ patriotic importance. 
Munitions work was varied, from filling shells with TNT to making bullets to assembling detonators, and done by all classes of women. Supervisory roles did still tend to be filled by middle or upper class women. However, the conditions in factories were often dangerous. Explosions from unstable chemicals were more frequent than were reported in the press and toxicity was deleterious to the munitionettes’ health, affecting skin and internal organs.  It was the TNT workers (who gained the moniker ‘Canary Girls’, so called because the toxic chemicals in TNT turned the skin yellow after prolonged daily exposure) who seemed to represent female courage and pluckiness on the Home Front during WW1.
Photo :
(permission to use this photo has been applied for)
There was a lighter side: they had football teams and tournaments, put on concerts for soldiers, organised dances and plays. In general, they enjoyed a much greater sense of female camaraderie than being stuck at home in a domestic situation had afforded them before the war. Many female munitions workers, like my character Lizzie, who had previously been domestic servants, saw it as a way to escape from their isolating and constricting life of drudgery. These new freedoms allowed them to grow in self-esteem and become more assertive. But it was not to everyone’s liking. 

They did their jobs in the teeth of initial opposition from trades unions, employers and male workers, until they proved their capabilities (although their pay was only ever half of that earned by men). They challenged existing conventions in many ways. They wore trousers, bobbed their hair and began to spend their wages on luxury items such as fur coats – items of clothing previously considered only suitable for middle or upper class women. This made for some salacious and disapproving newspaper headlines and the munitionettes were condemned (even by other women) for ‘getting above their station’.

(permission to use this photo has been applied for)
When the war ended, there was tremendous pressure for the returning men to have their jobs back, and women became superfluous to requirements, reviled in the press if they dared to resist. They were let go in their droves. My character, Lizzie, is not prepared to give up her new-found sense of fulfilment and seeks a way to avoid returning to the domestic sphere.

Of course, all this and the Allied servicemen on leave, looking for respite from the horrors of the western front, tempted some of these poster girls to go off the rails - especially as many of them were living away from home for the first time. Such a scenario suggested several ideas for a story filled with sexual intrigue, the subversion of class and gender expectations and opportunities for characters to present more than one face to the world in their quest to be seen in this new light. But also, come the peace, come the reckoning, for all this unprecedented behaviour.

When women over 30 were given the vote in December 1918, many believed their contribution to the war effort played a key role. In fact, most women - including the munitionettes - didn’t qualify because they were, on the whole, much younger.  In spite of this, one hundred years’ ago, there was no going back to the old ways. Women moved on to seek greater independence. Their work during WW1 is part of that legacy. 

Latest News! 
A Kiss From France has been awarded an Indie B.R.A.G Medallion!
Congratulations Susan!

Tuesday 10 May 2016


My Tuesday Talk Guest: Kerryn Reid

Last fall, when I found out Learning to Waltz had been chosen best Regency romance for 2014 by Chanticleer Book Reviews, Helen invited me to her blog to share my excitement. (See that post here.) 

She’s been kind enough to ask me back, because at long last I have received my prize: A free Chanticleer review. Five stars! I’d say it was worth the wait.

Reid’s focus is on her richly developed characters… She has filled her well-conceived saga with a complex and compelling cast.” 

Yes, I’ll take that, because a novel without memorable characters isn’t worth reading. And beyond memorable, there has to be at least one I really like and can root for, however flawed he or she might be.
(Read the complete review here.) 

I do wonder if the reviewer loved Evan as much as I do. There may be many readers who would feel the same way. Certainly, it’s hard to find a romance editor whose “wish list” doesn’t specify feisty, independent heroines and alpha heroes. They insist that’s what readers want, despite the fact that independent women were few and far between during the Regency.

There have always been alpha men, however – alpha dukes, even! – and let me say up front, thank God for that. My life would be poorer without the Marquis of Vidal (Georgette Heyer’s Devil’s Cub), the heroes of Anne Stuart’s Ice series, and others too numerous to name. They’re dark, they’re difficult, they’re hot. No argument. A marine, a cop, a pirate like Helen’s fabulous Jesemiah Acorne… Yes, ma’am! I have a short story coming out this summer featuring an alpha cop, so I’ll even create one on occasion.

But to reach my heart, he has to be smart, not just a smart-ass. Alpha heroes tend to be controlling, manipulative, and sometimes downright mean. Those are not traits I admire in a man. Yes, I know it’s fantasy – that doesn’t mean I have to throw off all my smarts and values, like a teenage girl who’s only interested in the “bad boys.” That’s not my fantasy.

There are plenty of dark, difficult, hot beta heroes, and they too need the love of a good woman: preferably ME! Everyone who reads historicals – including those aforementioned editors – professes to adore Jane Austen. But Jane did not do alpha heroes. Wickham, Willoughby, Frank Churchill – these are Jane’s alpha men, and they are not heroes. Her heroes are not always wise, not always right, but they are civilized, reasonable, thinking men.

Of course, even a beta hero must have a steel core. Two of my favorite Mary Stewart heroes come to mind. These are eminently civilized men, who ordinarily would not dream of doing the ugly things they end up doing. But in circumstances far from ordinary, they find the strength they need to protect – or avenge – their loved ones.

My own Evan Haverfield, hero of Learning to Waltz, does not need to defeat Nazi thugs (like Richard Byron in Madam, Will You Talk?) or kill a Greek bandito in bare-handed combat (Simon Lester in My Brother Michael). I believe he could, if I demanded it of him, but my stories take place on a small stage. Evan’s adversaries are his mother, and the woman he loves; his weapons are words and persistence. After being twice rejected by his would-be bride, he confronts her one last time:

Just one more thing. I don’t know if I’ve said… do you know how much I love you? I cannot imagine life without you. And I won’t give you up easily. You’ll have to go a lot farther than Whately if you want to get away from me. Japan might do, perhaps, if they’ll let you in—I believe they’re very restrictive. But I don’t think Julian would much like it there. And the voyage would be very hard on your mother.
If he’d hoped to lighten the mood, he failed dismally. He could have spoken the words lightly—had meant to do so!—except that he was so damnably frustrated. Strange to think that six months ago he had been appalled at the thought of marriage. Now the only thing he could think about was getting the knot tied, binding her safe to his side."

The hero of my next novel is beta, too. More so, in fact, because at 22, he’s still digging out from his youth as a despised younger son and brother. He has not yet attained Evan’s self-confidence. The events of the book, of course, bring him to an understanding of his own worth.

I can dig alpha men. Heck, I’ve been married to one for forty years. He’s the love of my life, but I do sometimes wonder if I’d have been better suited to someone more like Evan. We would read to each other in the evenings, amble along the country lanes – and nothing would ever get done around here!

Learning to Waltz -- from Hartwood Publishing

Deborah Moore has learned her lessons well–feel nothing, reveal less, and trust no one. Now widowed with a child of her own, she leads a lonely, cloistered existence, counting her farthings and thinking she is safe. When five-year-old Julian is lost one bitter December day, she discovers how tenuous that safety is.

Evan Haverfield has lived thirty carefree years, hunting, laughing, and dancing among London’s high society. His biggest problem has been finding excuses not to marry. But his life changes when he finds Julian Moore half-frozen under a hedge and carries him home to his mother. The young widow hides behind a mask, hard and reserved, but Evan sees glimpses of another woman, wistful, intelligent, and passionate. She’s vulnerable, desirable—and completely unsuitable for the heir to Northridge.

Alone in the earliest hours of a new year, Evan teaches Deborah to waltz. Can he teach her joy and laughter? Will love sweep away the shadows of her past and reveal the luminous woman she could be?"

Do you know of a beta hero Kerryn or Helen would love?
Post a comment or send them an email!

Twitter:  @Kerryn_Reid

Sunday 1 May 2016

Oh My Goodness! (I will not cry...)

... or maybe I will ...
Thank you to some very lovely authors... 
receiving this was a complete surprise!

* * * 
We, the undersigned, alas mostly imaginary but definitely historical,
Present the
Award for Best April 2016 A to Z Challenge
—Highlighting Historical Fiction—
Mistress Helen Hollick


A– Aurelia - Alison Morton
Salve Helen Hollick!

You have worked hard in the service of your craft and for your comrades in arms. Both as head of the Twelve Families of Roma Nova and as a fellow perfectionist, I salute you and ask Fortuna to smile on you in all your future endeavours. [from Helen: no idea what thank you is in Latin - will 'Ta' do?]

B- Bloodie Bones - Lucienne Boyce
Dan Foster and his friends in the Fancy send their thanks to Helen Hollick, a first rate sporting cove who accepted the Challenge and kept the game alive like the prime CHAMPION OF THE WRITING CORPS she is. ‘England’s champion now behold/In she who fills the chair, sirs...etc.’ [from Helen: Cheers Dan!]

I, Samuel Plank, familiar as I am with speaking in court and wedded as I am to truth and justice, am proud to stand and put my name to this document.  Miss Hollick has done much to share my stories, and for this I thank her heartily. Your servant, madam. [from Helen : It's an honour to have met you Sam!]

D- Dubh Linn - James Nelson
Well, for a Saxon I suppose you did a decent job with all this. You have my thanks. I’ll hold off plundering your village. For this year, anyway. May the gods bring you good luck!
Thorgrim Night Wolf  [from Helen - you're OK Thorgrim my DNA confirms I'm British Celt not Saxon! Hmmm on second thoughts, does that make any difference to a Viking?]

Rab Howell says: ' Ee tha's a reight good un, lass. Champion effort.' [From Helen : thank 'ee kindly Master Rabb! I'm a Spurs Supporter m'self, but I'll be eheerin' for your teams from now on as well!]

F- Fortune’s Fool - David Blixt
CESCO: She deserves thanks? We did all the talking.
PIETRO: You never appreciate the value of proper organization and planning. 
CESCO: I value disrupting proper organization and planning. 
PIETRO: Then you've succeeded spectacularly. Helen, on behalf of Fortune's Fools, I thank you.
CESCO: A hollow gesture, utterly lacking. Here's an idea, why not let her exile you from her blog?
PIETRO: Then she'd have no buffer when dealing with you.

CESCO: Oh, she'd be a fool to invite me back. And Helen's no fool. [from Helen : I think there's a complement in there somewhere...?LOL]

G-Gift For The Magus - Linda Proud

Filippino Lippi says: Tante grazie, bellina Helena! I have reserved a place for you in heaven. [from Helen : I think after this mammoth month my ideal Heaven is one without Social Media! LOL]

I always valued loyalty over every other human virtue, and Helen has exhibited that trait in her dogged efforts to promote the books of which I am only a small part. Bravo, Helen! [from Helen : Thank you Mr Holliday. I try my best.]

I- In Liberty’s Wake - Alexandra Norland (J. R.Bracken)
I, Arabella Alden, my family and friends raise our glasses to you in recognition of your tireless efforts to bring attention to the Indie writing community and congratulate you on a job well done. We toast your health and happiness, and wish you continued success, as well as many adventurous years with a certain handsome and roguish pirate. To Mistress Helen!
Mistress Helen!
Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!
(Tri-corner hats are tossed up in the air and drinks are downed with gusto.) [from Helen : catching one of the hats.... thank you ma'am may I keep this hat as a memento?

Your humble servant, Dudley Striker Esquire, gives you joy of this award, Mistress Hollick. Should I ever be in need of a stalwart sailing master, you may attend that Captain Acorne shall be at the forefront of my considerations. And I thank you, most sincerely, for effecting this fine mutual acquaintanceship! [from Helen : I'm not sure Captain Acorne will be too keen on that idea, Master Dudley - the4 Jacobite cause has already landed him in quite a bit of trouble ...]

K - Khamsin - Inge H. Borg
I, Nefret, Royal Daughter and Heiress of the First Dynasty of Egypt, may well be the oldest soul around here. Still, don’t discount my powers for I can endow unfortunate present-day sufferers with my sinner’s soul.
But you, Renown Pirate-Creator Helen, will always have my good wishes and grateful thanks heaped upon your head and your immortal Ba, for you are indeed a Kindred Spirit. [from Helen : I enjoyed meeting you your highness - and I look forward to reading about your amazing life!]

L - Luck Bringer- Nick Brown
Across twenty five centuries Helen I'd like to thank you for giving me my voice back.
I've had to exist through the inadequate prose of Nick Brown who constantly gets things wrong. I think I'd have done far better if you'd stumbled across me on the beach in Limnionas. I hope your pirate appreciates you, he doesn't know how lucky he is. 

Mandrocles , sometimes called the beautiful, Luck Bringer [from Helen : I visited Greece when I was about 12 years old. I remember the awe I felt when see the Acropolis in Athens for real. Utterly amazing now, in its derelict state - in your!]

M- Murder at Cirey - Cheryl Sawyer
I, Victor Constant of the Chaumont brigade of the Maréchaussée (military police) of France, am grateful for the privilege of commenting upon Helen Hollick, the captive subject of this investigation. I detect in her great powers of perception, magnificent stamina in her chosen field, and generous fellow-feeling for others. Because of her egalitarian spirit and her significant efforts on our behalf, I believe the verdict is unanimous—she must be released immediately from her one-month blog sentence and allowed to continue with her own admirable work. [from Helen : release would be nice, good sir - but 'tis a far-fetched fancy, alas!]

N– A Newfound Land - Anna Belfrage
Hi, Helen, Alex here! Seeing as I’m one of the few historical characters around with a computer background, I know just how much work goes into something like this – heck, it’s almost worse than doing laundry on an icy 17th century March day. Almost. So here’s me giving you a big, big hug – and remember, mi casa es su casa, should you ever pop by Graham Garden. Or even better, send that dashing pirate of yours! [from Helen : you mean Jesamiah isn't with you? Where the heck has he got to then...?]

O– Prince John, Out Of Time - Loretta Livingstone
Mistress Hollick,

Disappointed though I am that you did not wish to dally with me, yet I wish to grant you this charter expressing my right royal gratitude for your tireless exertions, of which I am most appreciative. Of course, darling, I do have better ways to express my gratitude...but if you will have none of them, no matter. And now, I must go, for I see my author cringing, although I cannot imagine why. Alas, when she summons me, she has the power to make me disapp.... John vanishes in a puff of smoke. [from Helen : thank you, your highness. (I think...)]

P - Pirate Code - Helen Hollick
(And what say you, handsome Capt. Jesamiah Acorne?) I say Aye with a bottle of rum to seal the deal!  [From Helen : Jes dear, do you think you could put that bottle of rum and that young lady down and get back here so I can finish On The Account's final edit...?]

Q- To Be A Queen - Annie Whitehead
As the daughter of a king and the wife of a nobleman, I always expected some degree of authority and responsibility. But I could never have imagined that I would one day lead a kingdom, even if they never called me ‘Queen’. I was alone in a man’s world, so, dear Helen, from one Lady to another, I would like to thank you for your support and for allowing me to tell my story when history overlooked me. With love and thanks from Aethelflaed. [from Helen : my Lady several years ago I was considering writing your story - I am glad I did not do so now, for Ms Whitehead has accomplished the task most suitably!]

R- The Spirit Room - Marschel Paul
I, Isabelle Benton, from the 19th century and the state of New York in America, do thank you for your extraordinary feistiness and your exceptional dedication to the realm of the imagination and creativity, as well as the exploration of history. You have brought me and all that I am (or rather was) before the eyes of so many in the 21st century. I had not known such a thing was possible. Marschel, my author, and I are forever grateful, no matter the century. [from Helen : thank you my dear, as one who is comfortable living alongside the couple of spirits who remain in my 18th century house, I enjoyed meeting you!]

I, who was once known as Canio, but now style myself Aulus Claudius Caninus, honestior and owner of the magnificent estate known as Villa Canini, salute you Helen for your Herculean efforts on behalf of my miserable wretch of a biographer and his fellow Indie Authors.
I wish upon you the blessings of all the deities, especially Bacchus. (Although perhaps not Hecate, whose equivocal blessings I would hesitate to wish upon anyone.)   [from Helen : Salve good sir! It was an honour to meet you (and I think my Jesamiah's wife, Tiola, will protect me from Hecate.]

T -Tristan & Iseult - Jane Dixon Smith
My name is Iseult of Ireland and I have found myself in a world quite unlike my own. This is a world of unknown devices and yet the landscapes are familiar to me. For this I owe thanks to a woman by the name of Helen Hollick, for I have never before been invited to share my words on anything but the written page. I am truly indebted for this great experience.  [from Helen : thank you my lady - I knew your story from my years of reading as a teenager, but I must admit Mistress Dixon Smith has presented the best telling of it!]                       

I cannot overstate my gratitude to Helen Hollick for allowing me, 250 years after I walked the farms and villages of England, to share again my love for the land, and for justice...and for the most special woman imaginable. And not only has she allowed me to do this; she has let me do it in the company of some of the most gifted writers and the most fascinating characters ever to have lived. Helen, I am so grateful for your hard work in making this happen. May God bless you and all those you hold dear. [from Helen : as one who now lives in an old 18th century farm in beautiful Devon, I share your love of the land!]

V- Victoria Blake - Far Away
I, Michael Armstrong, would like to say this about Helen. She is a much harder worker than my writer and she has more oomph, more get up and go. In fact I think my writer, Victoria Blake, should learn from her general magnificence in every way. Also I can't help feeling that if we had had Helen with us in 1943 we would have escaped much quicker from Sulmona POW camp than we did. I can tell she has an intrepid spirit and would have made the escape through the Abruzzi mountains without a bother on her. All hail the magnificent and generous hearted, Helen! And may her pirate Jesamiah Acorne continue to sail for many years to come. [from Helen : thank you - but in reality I'm a sit in the warmth of my cosy study person really!]

W- When Sorrows Come - Maria Dziedzan
I, Anna, like this woman Helen. She is the best kind of person...someone who gives other people the chance to grow. We all need that kind of support and we survive best when we do it together. So dyakoyu to Halyna! [from Helen : I like helping indie authors to tell the stories of fascinating times and people. If other authors had not helped me in the past - well, I might still be saying 'when I write my book...']

X- The FlaX Flower - Amanda Maclean
Ye've my thanks, Helen, for taking my story to folk who might never have heard it any other way. And I'll tell ye this, though ye share my mother's name, ye've a warmth and a giving way aboot ye that I've seldom seen in her. I thank ye for it. Peace be wi' you. Annie. [from Helen : thank you Annie it has been a privilege to meet you and hear the song about you.]

Once Again,
Dear Mistress Helen,
With our Thanks and Appreciation.

Now you can settle down to a well-deserved Cup of Tea
Or perhaps some of those Gin and Mulled Wine Concoctions

                From Your Own Recipes we Found Here:

Needless to say I had a bit of a blub 
when reading all the above...
It has been hard work -
 but made easier (and very rewarding)
 by your support and enthusiasm!)