Dear Reader #10

Dear Reader,

Sometimes stories arrive fully formed and from that point on it’s a question of filling in the details, while other times ideas come in stages, over a period of time. The idea for The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War Saga, arrived fully formed and now I’m adding more research and filling in the details. At the same time I had an idea for a Sam Smith mystery. The emotional strand to this story arrived fully formed, but the mystery element was missing. Yesterday, while thinking about hair, of all things, the missing element arrived. For a writer, it’s exciting when these things happen 🙂

Over the past month I haven’t been actively promoting my books, but my sales have increased. How come? I think the answers lies with the past five years of promoting, particularly the past two years. For authors, the hardest part is to stimulate interest in your books. It takes time to build a readership. Therefore, my advice to authors is to build a strong foundation. Once you have done that you will attract readers.

I received fan mail this week. Unfortunately, it was intended for Hannah Howell 😱 To be honest, I’m not familiar with Hannah Howell’s books, and I’m sure she’s never heard of me. I’m not sure if having similar names is an advantage or a disadvantage. On balance, it is probably a disadvantage because it does have the potential to confuse readers.

Female bodybuilding. It’s a subject I don’t know anything about, but for my novels it’s an area of research. What are your opinions on female bodybuilders? If you are a female, why do you do it? If you are a male what are your thoughts? I would be interested in your opinions.

At the moment, I’m devouring books about the Spanish Civil War at great speed. I’m watching movies about the subject too. You will find details of these books and movies under the The Olive Tree tab on my website. The question occurred to me, why does the Spanish Civil War still attract our interest? The answer is multilayered, but one of those layers includes the fact that for people outside Spain, their governments did not force them to go to war. Many thousands volunteered and decided to fight for a principle. That is something worth thinking about and, I believe, it makes the Spanish Civil War relevant to today.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #9

Dear Reader,

This week, my writing has focused on research for The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War Saga. I have created a number of pages on my website chronicling some amazing stories of bravery and courage. You are invited to read these stories.

https://hannah-howe.com/the-olive-tree/esperanza-careaga/

https://hannah-howe.com/the-olive-tree/fifi-roberts/

https://hannah-howe.com/the-olive-tree/nurses/

https://hannah-howe.com/the-olive-tree/wales-and-spain/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #8

Dear Reader,

Another busy week with translations. We published the Spanish version of Saving Grace, started the German version of Victory and I’m delighted to say that Jill has offered to translate The Big Chill into Swedish. This will be our third project after Sam’s Song and Love and Bullets and it’s exciting to see my books reaching Swedish readers in their own language 🙂

While researching material for a future Sam Smith novel, I discovered that the British government’s health assessment programme for disabled people has resulted in 21,000 deaths. These deaths are based on the government’s own figures, so it is certain that the real figure is a lot higher. This raises the question: what is the difference between death by bureaucracy and death by cold-blooded murder? None. It all results in death. This is a tragedy for disabled people and their families, and it is a subject I am determined to explore.

The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War Saga, will be based on true events and real people. For example, Thora Silverthorne of Blaenafon, Wales.

In 1936, Thora volunteered to go to Spain as a nurse. There, she became a matron in a hospital established in a primitive farmhouse.

“I had done a lot of operations before,” Thora said, “but in Spain it was quite different. We dealt with seriously injured people. Once we treated 700 people over five days. We were under fire. We had a Red Cross on the roof, but were warned, ‘take it down – it’s the first thing the fascists will aim for.’”

On her return to Britain, Thora helped to establish the first union for nurses, the National Association of Nurses, in 1937.


This week, I’ve been scanning my reference books looking for names for my Spanish Civil War Saga. It’s an international story featuring characters from America, France, Ireland, Spain and Wales. The right name is important and often it can suggest facets of a character. For example, one character, a nurse, was going to be docile and a support character. However, when I found her name, Adele Lazard, she stepped forward. Now, she’s going to Spain as a nurse, but really she wants to fight at the front.

Pictured: Two women and a man at the Siege of the Alcázar in Toledo, 1936.


During the Spanish Civil War, Wales welcomed many refugees, including Esperanza Careaga, pictured here in 1939. Espe, her name means hope, left Spain in April 1937, eight days before her sixth birthday. Her brother, Alberto, was transported to Russia and it took 50 years before Espe saw him again. Meanwhile, Espe settled in Barry, Wales.

At the end of the war, most of the refugees returned to Spain. However, 35 children remained in Wales, including Espe. She married in 1958, had two sons and four granddaughters.

From tragic beginnings, Espe lived up to her name, and through her courage we can draw belief, strength and hope.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #7

Dear Reader,

This project is at the research stage, but will develop into five novellas set during 1937-8. The novellas will follow two Welsh women, an impoverished nurse and a wealthy author, who travel to Spain and view the conflict from opposite sides of the war.

The title comes from Dolores Ibárruri, La Pasionaria, who said, “You are history. You are legend. You are the heroic example of democracy’s solidarity and universality. We shall not forget you; and when the olive tree of peace is in flower, entwined with the victory laurels of the Republic of Spain, come back.”

As you know, humour plays a big part in my novels, particularly my Sam Smith novels. I hope this story tickles your funny bone.

I decided to get a pet from the local pet shop. Even though the scorpion had been a bit of a disaster – they’re not big on cuddles – I opted for something different and selected a millipede. I named her Millie and brought her home.

I sipped my coffee and watched as Millie settled into her millipedearium and in no time at all she seemed content, at home.

The following day I asked Millie if she would like to go for a walk. “Fancy a stroll around the garden?” I asked. “There’s lots of lovely leaves and mud out there. And other arthropods you can make friends with. You never know, you might get lucky; love might be in the air.”

No answer. Silence. You could hear a pin drop.

So I raised my voice and asked again. “Fancy a stroll around the garden?”

No reply. Not a whisper. It was like talking to the wall.

I was getting annoyed now and beginning to wonder if a cockroach would be more fun. So I yelled, “Fancy a walk?”

“Missy,” Millie the millipede sighed, twitching her antennae, “there’s no need to shout. I heard you the first time. Can’t you see, I’m putting my @%&#@& shoes on…” 😂

Thought for the week…

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #6

Dear Reader,

This week, I have been busy with translations. These include German versions of Escape and Victory, the Spanish versions of Victory and Sins of the Father, and the Portuguese version of Ripper. Currently, I have 30 translated titles published with ten in progress. I love working with my translators. I admire their skill and the whole process enhances my writing.

I have outlined Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen, and next week I will begin the storyboarding process. I’m also researching a book project set during the Spanish Civil War.

Sometimes, I wonder why I’m drawn to the years around the Second World War. That period of history saw terrible conflict, a tragedy on a human level. However, conflict offers gold dust for a writer. Also, my ancestors enriched my life with stories from that period so it is rewarding to record them in fictionalised form. 

This week, my sons received excellent school reports and next term my youngest will join my eldest in senior school. The kaleidoscope of life is forever changing. Sometimes, you crave stillness so that you can admire the image, but the best you can manage is to store a photograph in your mind and move on. 

And speaking of photographs, here are some views of my local landscape.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

PS: Thought for the week. Why is it when you’re driving and looking for an address you turn the volume down on the radio 🙂

Dear Reader #5

Dear Reader,

I’ve decided to retire from eBook promoting. My life away from books is moving in different directions and as I mentioned last week Sam’s Song reaching #1 for the seventh time has changed my attitude to promoting. I’ve achieved my goals. Sales, chart positions, don’t really matter anymore. The fun part is striving for goals, even if it’s a frustrating process. Once you achieve your goals the feeling isn’t hollow exactly, but the motivation isn’t the same.

I intend to keep writing. Less time spent promoting should help my writing. And my commitment to Mom’s Favorite Reads remains the same. Maybe, next week, next month, next year, I will have a new set of goals, but for now I’m content with what I’ve achieved and happy to leave it at that.

My main point is, enjoy the journey you are on because, quite often, it’s more satisfying than the destination 🙂

If you are an author and looking to boost your book sales I highly recommend this offer.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #4

Dear Reader,

For me, it’s been an eventful week. A very eventful week. I have experienced great distress and great joy. The joy centred on Sam’s Song. On Wednesday, Sam’s Song reached #1 for the seventh time. For the past two years this has been an ambition. You could argue that there is no difference between six times #1 and seven times #1, and you would be right. For a reason I can’t really explain reaching #1 for the seventh time was important and now that that landmark has been achieved the desire to reach new readers isn’t as great. I wouldn’t say that I don’t want to reach new readers, but if it doesn’t happen it no longer matters. In terms of eBooks on Amazon, I have achieved my goals.

I still have goals in other areas of publishing, with audiobooks, translations, paperbacks and secondary rights. I also want to write many more books, develop Mom’s Favorite Reads and her projects, and help authors find more readers. 

I do believe in the concept of setting clear, obtainable goals and plans to achieve those goals. My main aims with writing are: to entertain my readers and to prove certain things to myself. On a personal level, Sam at #1 this week proved something to myself, and that’s all that matters. Now I feel ready to move on.

A great moving on song…

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx