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"I fell in love from the start, a flesh and blood hero with flaws. Here is
a writer in the older style not 'jump on the bandwagon' writing!"

April
 2019

Exciting news - for those who have not already heard it!

Let’s start by rewinding time a little to April 2006…

~

My publisher, Random House UK, has decided not to reprint my Pendragon's Banner Trilogy and Harold the King, but fear not, I have taken the enormous step of deciding to indie-publish.

It will either be the wisest thing or the stupidest thing I have ever done, but it will mean my books will remain in print for as long as I want them to be.

However, the excitement does not end there. I have also decided to indie/self-publish my Sea Witch pirate novel. If all goes to plan, it will be setting sail in early May 2006

~

Zip forwards to the present day, March 2019. (I simply cannot believe the announcement above was written thirteen years ago!)

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then, some of it calm and sedate, but a good bit of it somewhat turbulent. The first indie publishing company I went to turned out to be not all it said it was, and looking at those early print runs, well, let’s just say they were examples of how not to produce books.

When the company went bankrupt, I high-tailed it over to Helen Hart’s SilverWood Books. I have been with that company, most satisfactorily, ever since.

Sourcebooks Inc in the United States picked up Harold, Queen Emma and Arthur for traditional/mainstream publication in the US and Canada, with The Forever Queen (retitled from the UK’s A Hollow Crown) making the USA Today bestseller list, so I was now in the ranks of authors known as ‘hybrid’ – both traditionally published and indie.

I think most of my followers know the story behind Sea Witch? (If you don't, click here.) My (ex) agent let me down big-time. She hated it but I knew the idea was a good one. We parted company and I went on to turn that first Voyage into a series. I have worked hard at being an indie writer, with all that being an indie entails. Which means doing your own, hands-on, all-day-every-day marketing. I have, mostly, enjoyed it.

Back in 2006, when ‘Indie’ was a relatively new concept, it bore the mark of being ‘second-class vanity’ publishing. All these years later, indie authors are far more respected because the good, serious, authors have made a point of producing quality, high standard work. And we, as authors, have on the whole become accepted in the literary world as respected authors – again, because we produce our books with care (and a lot of love!) After all, we invest our own money into it. Being indie can be expensive. There’s professional editing to pay for, professional cover design and professional marketing services if you chose to use them. To produce an indie novel that matches quality mainstream standard takes time and money.

However, it is hard work to keep yourself and your books going. After thirteen years of trumpet tootling, I’m getting tired. I want to get back to making writing my priority but needed a boost for my flagging lack of self-confidence and enthusiasm. That little whisper of nagging self-doubt when you are an indie writer is always present. We are on our own and – well, it’s draining to the point of ‘why am I doing this?’ The only thing that keeps us indies going is knowing that our readers out there - that's you - enjoy our books. But even the most prolific and supportive indie writer would still prefer to be with a Mainstream Publisher.

So I am delighted and excited to announce that, after thirteen years of ‘going it alone’, I have signed a contract with Independent Publisher, Penmore Press, based in Arizona USA, for the Sea Witch Voyages. Jesamiah is to sail in consort with a new fleet to explore New Horizons!

We are keeping the covers designed by Cathy Helms (www.avalongraphics.org ) and hope to get the new editions ready to weigh anchor as soon as possible – although they will be out of print for a short while.

I’m delighted that my Captain Acorne is to sail along with good hands, and that at last, despite the pleasure that being indie can bring, he has the potential to reach the much wider audience he deserves. Jesamiah really should achieve whale status; he just isn’t the tadpole type.

However, if you need to complete your set of e-books or paperback Voyages, and don’t want to have to wait, I’d advise you to go ahead and plunder them from Amazon right now.

Meanwhile I’ll be getting on, enthusiasm renewed, with the writing of Voyage Six, Gallows Wake

Lege feliciter (read happily).

helensig

 

March
 2019

February was a funny old month. It seemed to rush by for the first two weeks, then slow down, and then zap, here we are in March! Add to that the weather was weird… spring came early. The snowdrops were finished by the end of the first week of February, and before the last week ended all of the daffodils were out, alongside coltsfoot, lambs’ tails on the hazel trees, and buds budding everywhere. For the last few days we enjoyed glorious blue-sky-sunny-days, although the wind was cold, as were the frosty nights. This time last year we were preparing for the Beast From The East.?

Looking west though… I don’t usually bother with the Hollywood Oscars (a lot of fuss and nonsense about nothing, usually,) but I was delighted to see our UK Olivia Colman win best actress for playing Queen Anne in The Favourite. Apart from the delight of watching such a talented actress and her wonderfully amusing speech, the movie itself was super – and it’s about time we started seeing drama about queens other than Victoria and the Tudors! (And I must mention the other ‘Queen’ – well done that movie as well!) If you’ve not seen Olivia in the TV series Broadchurch, with actor David Tennant, get the DVD; you’ve missed out on brilliant acting, scriptwriting and engrossing entertainment. Ditto for The Favourite.

I heard somewhere that The Favourite was conceived twenty years ago – which is most inspiring, maybe there is hope yet for our 1066 movie. (Another movie which really, really should be made!)

February was a funny month as well, in the not-so-amusing sense. It is no easy thing to deal with narcissistic people at the best (worst?) of times but when they tend to have ‘troll-like’ tendencies on social media it is even more difficult. The old rule of ‘don’t feed the troll’ definitely applies as these sort of people cannot be argued with, will never see reason and are completely oblivious to what they are doing is destructive, not constructive.

This is even more unfathomable when the person involved appears to be promoting a business but is doing so by obtuse rudeness to others. This sort of behaviour becomes especially tiresome when it is your book that is being targeted.

Reposting highly misleading ‘reviews’ to make them look like new reviews, is ‘bad form’ as Captain James Hook would say, but the only way to react is add a polite correction to the misinformation then go away and have every faith in yourself and your book and let the destructive elements get on with destroying themselves – as will happen eventually.

My books do have a few typos, I don't deny it, but there is little I can or indeed intend to do about it, as the occasional blooper that pops up in books of 75,000 to 130,000 words will probably not be noticed by a reader who is thoroughly enjoying the read anyway. Yes, I’d love to be 100% perfect, but life (and my fading eyesight) isn’t like that.

I did and continue to do my best with my books. If my best isn’t good enough, well, to be blunt, too bad because I am not going to get obsessed about a few very minor boo-boos or a troll who obviously hasn’t got anything better to do with his time.

Something else which came to the fore in February was finding the time to do things.

I am not the only writer who discovers at four-thirty p.m. that I’ve been answering emails, writing articles, doing various promotional things on the interweb only to discover it’s time to cook dinner but I haven’t even opened the file of my next novel yet. Oh to be a disciplined writer who doesn’t get distracted by distractions!

But such is the case for many of us who are Indie Writers. We do not have agents or publishers to help out with the essential marketing, and, believe me, the marketing is essential. The trick is to get a nice balance between posting about things that regular readers and potential readers are interested in.

It’s hard work for what often seems little reward, but then up pops a really nice email in your Inbox saying how much someone has enjoyed one - or more - of your books, and you know what? All of a sudden the hard work is worthwhile, and the rest of the day passes with a smile.

So thank you, dear readers, for your support, your enthusiasm and your encouragement. All I would add is: Please show your liking for my novels – or indeed any novel – by leaving a comment on Amazon. Good comments really do make a big difference!

Lege feliciter (read happily).

helensig

 

February
 2019

I can't say that 2019 started out quite as I had expected, hoped or planned. Son-in-law wasn't well. Then I wasn't well, then my email wasn't well. A power cut hijacked my email inbox.

I had struggled downstairs to do the essential 'daily' tasks online, like ensuring the daily Discovering Diamonds review had published properly, and checking that there were no urgent or essential emails in my inbox (like a Hollywood director emailing about an option on the Sea Witch Voyages… okay, one can dream) when phut - blank screen. Power cut. It happens occasionally - it's the only downside of living in the middle of nowhere in the Devon countryside.

As I'd more or less finished what I was doing, I turned the main power switch off and went back to bed. I was engaged in binge-watching the entire David Tennant Doctor Who TV series.?

Next day. Booted the computer up - and I could have well and truly really booted it into the neighbour's lake next door!

No email. Gone. Vanished, zapped by Cybermen, or the Daleks, or those statues that get you when you blink. My fault, evidently, I blinked.? With apologies to non-Doctor Who fans, who won't understand a word of that.

I tried a few timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly type things (Doctor Who quote again). Pressed several keys. Turned off. Turned on again. Still nothing. Went to the email back-up system I maintain - where, relief, nearly everything was there, neatly saved away. However, I don't find the back-up version to be very user friendly, which is why I only use it as a back-up.

After several days of swearing, cursing, screaming - yes, if you heard a scream, and quite a few choice words, bad enough to make a pirate blush, that would have been me - my Webmaster managed to get me going again with a new setup using Gmail. Thank you Mr Webmaster.

But trying to fathom the quirks of a new system. it would be easier to defeat the Daleks!

I mean, just how do you transfer the email addresses I need from the 1,500 imported list of Contacts into the Gmail 'other contacts' folder, so that the name and address auto-fills in when sending mail? And just where is the 'request read receipt' button? Has Gmail even got one?

To counter all that, however, there was some good things during January, one being I had a wonderful batch of emails after the original Escape To The Country TV show, where we found our house here in Devon, had been broadcast in Canada. Several utterly delightful people who had watched the episode e-mailed me to say how much they had enjoyed the show, how pleased they were that we'd chosen the first house - and even more wonderful - that they'd ordered one or more of my books. I'm thrilled at the contact from these new friends - thank you!

Despite the trials and tribulations of the Interweb, at least I do now have e-mail - even if I am still trying to figure it out. Which is a relief because early in February my Italian publisher, Catnip Edizioni, is doing a massive blog tour for the publication in Italian translation of Bring It Close - or In Tempesta as it is titled in Italian.

I've had great fun writing several interview answers for it - I'll copy them all to my own blog, the English pre-translation versions that is - later in February, and to this website, keep an eye on the News Update on this website's homepage.

Oh, that was another thing - the news feed was hijacked by pirates as well. Thank you again Mr Webmaster for rescuing it.

And the excitement doesn't end there…

My new book about smugglers will be released on 31st January! Although I am somewhat anxious as, on the date of writing this update, 26th January, I still haven't seen the final published version. I'm somewhat anxious about how it looks in print… I've a short piece on my blog about the book.

If you enjoyed my Pirates Truth And Tales, I think you'll also enjoy Smugglers in Fact and Fiction. so please take a look at that then hop across to Amazon to pre-order a copy.

Oh, and "Watch the wall my darlings while the Gentlemen go by…"?

Lege feliciter (read happily).

helensig

 

January
 2019

I hope you all had a relaxing, stress-free Christmas - although I admit that I get stressed wrapping presents: it is unbelievably hard to use clear sticky tape when you can't see very well. I end up missing the two bits of paper I'm supposed to be sticking together and the wretched stuff gets wound round my fingers instead. I also struggle with addressing Christmas cards, which is why I tend to use the wonderful Jacquie Lawson e-cards online. If I know you personally, check your inbox, you might have received one. Or if you would like to be put on my Christmas Card list - Contact me and I'll consider adding you.

Did you see the fantastic short story series we ran on Discovering Diamonds throughout December? A wide variety of authors contributed a wide variety of short stories inspired by a song: the idea being, Read The Story - Guess The Song.

Don't worry if you missed them, you can start here with the first story-song, then follow on by clicking 'Next' - below the story.

It was hard work organising the stories, finding suitable images and the original (official) versions of the songs on YouTube, but well worth it. Just a quick reminder to all authors though; Lyrics in songs are governed by a very strict copyright, so do not be tempted to use even a few distinctive words in a novel or story - don't risk being sued for thousands of pounds or dollars! However, there is no copyright on titles or ideas - hence our stories.

We've had a bit of a change-round here at Windfall Farm regarding the housing of ducks, geese and hens. The problem has been rats. They can chew through anything and have a keen desire to eat duck - fortunately not the adult ones, but the nasty creatures did kill most of ducklings back in the summer. (We got our own back by 'removing' quite a few of the vermin.) However the wretched things have been disturbing the ducks and geese at night, so we have moved the geese into a different shed, put the ferrets where the geese were, and the ducks will be moved to where the ferrets lived. Rats do not like the smell of ferrets, so maybe this will have some effect. Our two ferrets are called Piper and Hamelin, and they are both rather fat roly-poly ferrets!

Squirrels are in fact fluffy rats but much cuter, although they do as much damage to wildlife. We have a regular squirrel visitor which has white ears - it looks like he has been dipped in a pot of paint. Our old gander, which we sadly had to have put down a few months ago as he fell ill, hated the squirrels. He used to chase them if they ever dared to set paw on the ground. Woe betide if he ever caught one!

We are also using the field next door to the house, which is owned by our nice new 'down-the-hill' neighbours. (I still say 'new' , even though they have lived here a year now.) One of my dream ambitions was to have a home where I could look out of a window and see the horses grazing. Alas, here at Windfall, although I can, just about, see the stables from the house, the fields are at the end of the lane. So it is with a sense of achievement of a morning that I can look out of my bedroom window and see Lexie, Saffie, Franc and Wonky Donk grazing in 'Stable Field'. Except it is also somewhat alarming. Lexie is a BIG horse she can't quite reach the window from the other side of the hedge, but she's not far off it.

We also have three new chickens; two hens and a cockerel. They reside in the front garden and are so sweet. They are about one foot high, somewhat 'fluffy' and have highly feathered feet. They are no trouble and do no damage to the garden - in fact they gobble up the slugs and gently scratch over the flower beds.

But His Lordship the cockerel - oh, he is funny! Like I said, knee-high to a grasshopper, he regularly chases the dogs off, guards his two 'ladies' with immense pride and crows to tell everyone that He Is In Charge. Except his crowing sounds more like a dog's squeaky toy. It really doesn't have the desired effect.

Oh, a quick reminder, my Smuggler's book will be published at the end of January. You can pre-order here, but more information about this book next month.

For now, may I wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Lege feliciter (read happily).

helensig