You know you’ve hit upon a good idea when the concept comes to you fully formed. That happened with Sam, Ann, Grace and my Spanish Civil War mini-series. Recently, while reading an item about the Second World War the idea for a mini-series came to me, fully formed. The central character, themes and events are clear in my mind. Now, I need to do more research and develop the characters. Then I can add my new idea to my writing and publishing schedule 🙂
And speaking of research… Currently I’m reading The White Mouse, Nancy Wake’s autobiography. It’s a remarkable story, an example of the tremendous courage people have shown throughout the ages in their fight against fascism.
Another excellent translation from Laura. This is the fourth book she has translated for me. I look forward to working with her in 2020 on new titles. Meanwhile, here’s an example of our partnership 🙂https://hannah-howe.com/translations/francais/
Many thanks to my readers in Australia for placing seven of my books in the top 💯 alongside greats such as Robert B Parker. And here’s a curiosity, the Italian version of Betrayal is #1 in Australia.
A startling graphic highlighting the global climate crisis.
And a moving graphic from Remembrance Day.
I’ve been updating my Amazon author page and discovered that I have sixty-nine books listed. Many thanks to my readers, publisher friends, author friends, translators and narrators for making this possible.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
Why do authors write? Apart from the elite 1% there is no money in writing, so unless you are in that 1% or churning out words to order money isn’t a motivation. Fame? Fame is shallow and does more harm than good. Some authors want to be famous, and good luck to them, but fame isn’t for me. Praise? It is rewarding when readers appreciate your books, look forward to them and write nice comments. Kind words mean a lot. That said, writing isn’t the best occupation if you are looking for praise. Even if you are a mega-bestseller the majority of people will ignore you or dislike your work. So, why do writers write? I believe it’s because we are blessed, or cursed, with story ideas and we need to express those ideas to find a level of contentment and peace of mind. We need to release our creative energy through writing. Of course, finding readers is rewarding and satisfying, but the main motivation and enjoyment comes from turning a blank manuscript into a story. There is something magical about creating a story that is unique.
Chapter one of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen is complete. Here’s a clue…
Caerau Hillfort and the ruins of St Mary’s church, pictured, get a mention in chapter two of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen. These landmarks are on the road Sam takes to her office houseboat.
Chapter three of Snow in August, Sam Smith Mystery Series book sixteen, sees Sam at Caswell Bay where she meets her new client.
Five more translations published this week, three in Spanish, one in German and another in Portuguese. Many thanks to my talented team of translators for all their hard work and for sharing my stories with the world.
A very busy week with translations again this week. More translations were published while others were confirmed. Along with my English language titles this means I now have 74 books published or in production.
When talking about his album, Sailing to Philadelphia, Mark Knopfler mentioned that he often creates songs when two separate ideas come together. I agree with him. My books are often a marriage of ideas. This week, I had ideas for another mini-series when two totally separate thoughts came together. I might write this mini-series under a pen-name to give readers a break from Hannah Howe, and because the subject matter is different from my mysteries. This morning, while gardening, I created a storyline. If I have a strength as a novelist it’s that ideas for stories come easy to me.
I have received great help this week from experts with a detailed knowledge of the Spanish Civil War. In these mean-spirited times when some people are interested only in themselves and are prepared to see others suffer in the pursuit of their selfish goals it is life-affirming when kind people go out of their way to help you.
My Spanish Civil War Saga, The Olive Tree, will feature six main characters and follow their lives over the five books. Heini Hopkins, my nurse, is the main character. Heini is a rare name. It means “fit” in the Welsh language and is both female and male.
In Roots, book one, Heini is in Wales nursing her sick mother, debating whether to marry her childhood sweetheart, coal miner Deiniol Price, while collecting food, clothing and medical supplies for the people of Spain. Then the fascists bomb Guernica, killing hundreds of innocent people and, even in Wales, everything changes…
I mentioned Mark Knopfler earlier, and here’s his classic album Sailing to Philadelphia.
It’s been a summer of ideas. Initially, my goals for the year were to publish Victory and write Snow in August. However, in May I had an idea to write about the Spanish Civil War, a subject I had never considered writing about before that moment. I hesitated, because it is a big subject, but the ideas kept coming. I believe there is truth in the saying, ‘Subjects choose their authors, authors don’t choose their subjects.’
Since May I have had ideas for five books in my Spanish Civil War series plus three ideas for Sam Smith mysteries. Today, I developed ideas for a Sam Smith mystery and got stuck around chapter twenty-three. That’s because one of the characters proved elusive to me. Then I realised he didn’t really fit into the book because his involvement dragged the story away from the central character and complicated the theme. So I returned to the theme and the central character and the full story unfolded naturally.
This story, so far untitled, will see Sam get very angry on behalf of her client. I love writing Sam when she’s angry and, believe me, she’ll be tearing up some trees in this one. The source of her anger is a woman who does something that is beyond the pale. Furthermore, the story is based on reality.
This week, my Spanish Civil War research led me to Dorothy Parker.
During 1936-9 the Conservative government in Britain, plus the governments in America and France, adopted a stance of ‘non-intervention’ in the Spanish Civil War. In fact, this amounted to support for the fascists because of the various outcomes these governments desired a fascist victory over a victory for the Spanish people. Of course, Britain, America and France paid heavily for this stance because it encouraged Hitler and Mussolini, and this led to the Second World War.
With no support from overseas governments, the Spanish people relied on individuals and organisations for support. Dorothy Parker held her hand up and stepped forward as one of those individuals.
A celebrated poet, writer and wit, Dorothy Parker was one of the founders of the Anti-Nazi League in Hollywood. She helped to raise $1.5 million ($65 million at today’s value) for Spanish refugees. For her trouble, she was blacklisted during the McCarthy era, ‘the time of the toad’, as she called it. However, history smiles on Dorothy Parker while McCarthy’s name is associated with all that is dark about humanity.
While in Spain, in October 1937, Dorothy Parker said, “It makes you sick to think of it. That these people who pulled themselves up from centuries of oppression and exploitation cannot go on to a decent living, to peace and progress and civilisation, without the murder of their children and the blocking of their way because men want more power. It is incredible, it is fantastic, it is absolutely beyond all belief…except that it is true.”
I have added lots more to my website pages this week – the pictures offer a clue – so please take a look around. I hope you will find something of interest.
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.
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.
The editing of Victory, Ann’s War book five, has gone well this week and now I’m at the ‘polishing’ stage, tidying the occasional word and phrase. This is the last story in my Ann’s War series, so it’s sad to part company with the characters. That said, it’s encouraging that the pre-order sales for this book are the best in the series and that I’ve received emails from my local library informing me that readers are keen to know when the book will be published. When the book is available, from 20th July, I will donate a copy to my local library. Copies will also be sent to all the major libraries in Britain and Ireland. I’m delighted to say that all my books are featured in these libraries.
This week, I’ve been storyboarding The Fifth Man, a novel set in 1948. During the storyboarding I had an interesting experience when one of the characters, Laura Lewis, ‘disagreed’ with my intentions for her. These author v character clashes sometimes occur and I think they are a good thing because it shows you have created a strong character. When these clashes occur the character always wins. This will mean more work for me as I redraft the storyboard, but I don’t mind because ultimately it will mean a stronger story.
From this weekend, I will step up my book promoting. To be honest, I don’t enjoy this aspect of the business, but it’s all part of publishing. I’m an author, a storyteller, and that’s what I love doing. However, if you want readers to discover your books you have to promote them. It’s amazing to think that Sam’s Song has been in the top fifty of Amazon’s private detective chart for four years. The book has reached #1 on six occasions, which is beyond my wildest dreams. As time moves on, chart positions become less important to an author. The real satisfaction comes when someone says they have enjoyed your book, or they are looking forward to reading the next one.
It’s been an indifferent summer so far, but today I’m planning a barbecue. I’m a vegetarian, so veggie burgers for me. My family are meat eaters, and I have no problem with that. Sam is also a vegetarian. Sam shares many of my traits, but she is not me. Maybe the best way to phrase that is to say Sam isn’t me, but maybe I’m Sam 😉
I always find that music is the perfect accompaniment to any barbecue, and here’s the track that’s playing on my jukebox at the moment.
As ever, many thanks for your interest and support.