A great collection of writers covering many different genres – both Traditionally and Indie Published. Representatives of Romantic, Historical, Crime, Domestic Noir, Family Saga, Sci-Fi,, Children’s, Fantasy, Contemporary and Psychological Fiction. And Poetry.
After their interviews the writers will be in Room Three for Meet the Author. Your chance to interact with them all. So make a note of those you would like to chat with and Zoom in!
And here you may find the stray writer/ author/poet wandering around – your chance to chat with them about all the interviews, books and readings that have taken place and been discussed over the day.
Room One: The Video Presentations
Although this and many of the video presentations are free to watch on Showboat tv, there are opportunities to see much more: See these here: http://bit.ly/3s9agYV
Sometimes you find a niche where you know you just fit. That’s how I felt when I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and then the RNA Saga Writers group on Facebook. I was made very welcome and, in fact, was interviewed:on the Write Minds blog https://bit.ly/2VhEPg7, run by two of the members:Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts.
I wanted to discover how and why, like me, they wrote family sagas, with a little romance thrown in. So I asked if any of them would be interested in discussing that. I certainly received some fascinating answers.
This is the sixth of my interviews with a Romantic Saga Author, and today I’m so pleased to be withRosie Hendry
When you started writing your book, did you intend to write a family saga – or series of stories rather than one story?
The Mother’s Day Club, was always intended as the first of a new series called Women on the Home Front, as I wanted to explore how the second world war affects a family and the village community in which they live. Each book will bring new characters and challenges to the family as the course of the war progresses. The plan is to write more stories stretching across the years of wartime following the lives of the family.
Which do think is more important, the family story or the romance?
Definitely the family story in these books. There are romances but they are woven in amongst everything else that’s going on.
How important do you think it is to research the historical background, locations, features of the era, your characters live in?
Absolutely essential. I always think the wartime situation is like another character, having a huge effect on the story and the challenges faced by the people. It’s important to get the historical details right, and having not lived through those times myself, the only way to ensure that what I write is as correct as I can make it, is to do lots of research. Luckily, I really enjoy that aspect of writing historical fiction, especially discovering the social history of that period and how people’s lives were affected in so many ways. I especially love finding out snippets which didn’t make the history books but were important to people. It’s a wonderful feeling when I discover a forgotten gem of historical fact which inspires my storytelling.
How do you manage to keep track of all the characters in your book/s over a stretch of time?
I’m a planner – this helps me keep track of all the characters and what’s happening with them. I have a notebook where I record each characters’ details like eye and hair colour, family details etc, which I can refer back to.
I use different colour post-it notes on a board to plot out the story scene by scene, giving a set colour to each character. This helps me keep a balance of different characters viewpoints within the story, so that no one has a lot more than the others. I found this is the best way for me to write a multi-viewpoint story and weave the different strands together.
A saga demands change, both in its characters and its world, how important is the time period to the development of your narrative.
Writing books set during the Second World War gives me a time period against which to set the story. I will hang characters’ storylines on different events from the wartime, so the factual events act rather like a scaffolding. I choose events carefully so they are appropriate to my characters’ lives, but which will also challenge them.
When I’m plotting the story, I print out calendars from the wartime and mark on the historical events that I want to use to ensure I keep the story’s timeline accurate to the time period. One thing I love about writing the Second World War stories is how women’s lives were challenged, and they were required to step outside of their comfort zones and do things they would never have been asked to do during peacetime. It makes perfect fuel for storytelling!
Blurb for The Mother’s Day Club –
When the residents of Great Plumstead, a small and charming community in Norfolk, offer to open their homes to evacuees from London, they’re expecting to care for children. So when a train carrying expectant mothers pulls into the station, the town must come together to accommodate their unexpected new arrivals . . .
Sisters Prue and Thea welcome the mothers with open arms, while others fear their peaceful community will be disrupted. But all pregnant Marianne seeks is a fresh start for herself and her unborn child. Though she knows that is only possible as long as her new neighbours don’t discover the truth about her situation.
The women of Great Plumstead, old and new, are fighting their own battles on the home front. Can the community come together in a time of need to do their bit for the war effort?
I’m so pleased today to be with Jan Sikes, author of Ghostly Interference. Welcome Jan.
Thank you, Judith lovely to be here.
Please tell us, how did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
That’s such a great question, Judith. I was so green writing and publishing my first book. I knew absolutely nothing about self-publishing, but I had a story that begged to be told. The editor I hired was not a professional, but I didn’t know that at the time. The first clue should have been when he consistently misspelled my name. So, two years ago, I pulled the book down off Amazon and re-edited it. I was ashamed to have my name on that first version. It was not an easy decision, but my reputation as an author had started to blossom. I had learned so much in the process of writing four books. So, while it was not easy, it was worth the effort. That year, “Flowers and Stone” was chosen as the book of the year by the Rave Reviews Book Club, a large international organization.
So, in answer to your question, writing that first book was a huge learning curve. Not only the process of writing, editing, and publishing, but marketing about which, by the way, I knew nothing. I joined various writing organizations in Texas and learned more about marketing through conferences and connecting with other authors.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The most difficult part of my artistic process is time management. Finding and allocating dedicated time to writing is hard for me. The story ideas flow, and especially when I keep my mindset in that creative vein. Transferring the story I see in my mind to the written word is sometimes challenging. I tend to be wordy and end up cutting lots of extras from the manuscript once I finish and go back to clean it up. But by far, the most challenging aspect of the artistic process is dedicating time to it and sticking with that no matter what. I am very OCD about my Email Inbox and can’t stand for it to be over twenty-five or thirty. So, in the process of cleaning out emails, I can lose precious time going down rabbit holes.
The other thing that I sometimes struggle with is research. I get impatient when I can’t find what I need right away. But, with the new story I’m working on, I visited a local horse sanctuary, and that kind of research was fun!
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Not necessarily. I like to leave small hints about future events in the story, but not so much that the reader can guess. (Or at least that is my goal.) But I can’t say I’ve hidden secrets that would be hard to find.
What was your hardest scene to write?
By and far, the most difficult scenes for me to write are sex scenes—the scenes when they’ve moved beyond kissing and are now in the bedroom. There is a fine line between a well-written sex scene and erotica, and mostly it’s the language. I took a class on writing sex scenes a couple of years ago, and the instructor said, “If the sex scene you are writing doesn’t turn you on and get you hot and bothered, most likely it won’t affect your reader.”
I thought that was a pretty good gauge. Mostly, I focus on the emotions of the lovers rather than the act itself. Sex scenes can be a great way to show more about a character. It can show insecurities or, on the flip side, ego. I like to use sex scenes to advance the story, especially in a romance.
What did you edit out of this book?
Really, not much. Mostly just my wordiness. Learning to say more with fewer words is my goal. Substituting powers words is the key. I can’t say I’ve accomplished it yet.
Have you ever had reader’s block?
I think we can all say we’ve experienced times where the ideas didn’t flow, but somehow I never think of it as reader’s block. I think of it as a dormant time when things need to simmer on the back burner or seeds need to germinate. During those times, I find that watching movies, listening to music, walking on the treadmill, or reading always helps me get back on the right track.
Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.
Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?
Why Honno was a question I wanted to ask each of the following Honno authors when I started the interviews with them over the last few months.
I mean, I knew why I liked being published by Honno:
Honno is my kind of publisher; small, independent, and led by strong women who know what kind of books they want to publish and don’t accept anything but the best that an author can produce. So the editing is hard, but fair, and leads to many discussions – and a few compromises on both sides. Because it is known to be a Welsh press it is sometimes assumed that all its authors will be Welsh as well. So, often, when I’ve appeared at events, people are surprised to hear my broad Northern English accent. The supposition is false; Honno’s aim as an inspiring, feminist, Welsh press is to provide opportunities for women writers. The only proviso is that they are either Welsh, are living in Wales or have a connection to the country – which actually covers a great many writers. I love their strapline -. “Great Women, Great Writing, Great Stories.” So it always gives me a thrill when the manuscript I’ve been toiling over for months (or years!) is accepted by them.
I’ve had experience of having an agent, of being asked to conform to the commercial market; to fit in. And it wasn’t for me. As a creative writing tutor, I’ve spent the last couple of decades encouraging students to “write in their own voices”. So when the agent told me I needed to conform if I wanted to be published by one of the big publishing companies, I knew it wasn’t for me. This, after she’d placed me with a commercial editor who, not only wanted me to write in a different way, but also wanted me to write in a different genre.”The talent and skill as a writer is there but you need to be open to change.”, was the advice.
I took it; I changed from being a client with an agent ( who had, after all, accepted me on the strength of my first book) to seeking other outlets for my work.
I was lucky, I found Honno.
But, enough about me.
But, enough about me.
Honno’s mission is to publish Welsh women writers – for the purposes of submission to Honno this means that you must be a woman born in Wales or resident in Wales at the time of submission. Honno also publishes titles of exceptional interest to women within Wales from writers who may not meet the first two criteria i.e. that they are female and that they are of Welsh birth or residence.
I started each of the interviews with the statement:”My greatest support has come from the group of authors published by Honno. We’ve met up in real life on many occasions…”
That being said, the question all the Honno authors were glad to answer was: “What do you like most about being published by Honno, an indie press rather than one of the big publishing houses?”
To learn more about the authors and their books, please click on their names
“It’s a small press, which means it’s personal. Maybe famous sportsmen or ex-cabinet ministers can be lauded (promoted) to the skies by big publishers, but most of their less famous authors tend to be lost in a very impersonal ocean, with very little one-to-one attention. They are names on a spreadsheet. With Honno, you know the team and they know you. You feel far more valued, even if the big bucks aren’t there.
And there’s the fact that Honno is a Women’s Press, run by women, publishing women (as well as being Welsh, of course). It’s not an anti-man thing, but I grew up in the era of the rising tide of women’s lib, when women didn’t just sit around arguing their case but took really positive actions to prove themselves, such as setting up publishing companies like Virago. Unlike others, Honno is still going strong and flying the flag.”.
“The intimacy. The sense of being part of a family. Honno’s reputation as an independent press publishing writing exclusively by women appealed to my feminist heart from the start. And it felt like the right fit for my debut, with its connection to The Mabinogion and the legend of Blodeuwedd.
A small press may not have the financial resources available to bigger, mainstream houses; they do tend to have a broad vision. They’re less bureaucratic, more collaborative and if they believe in a project enough, will invest time, expertise and energy in it. This has certainly proved to be the case for me with Honno.”
“It feels like being part of a close-knit family. The small but dedicated and talented Honno team are accessible and supportive at all stages of the process, and it’s been lovely to become friends with so many of the other Honno authors. We’re a wonderful community, and although we’re scattered all over Wales and beyond, it’s particularly lovely when we get to meet up in person.“
“When I was writing ‘Not Thomas’ I knew exactly where I wanted to send it when I’d finished, and that was to Honno. I’d long admired their work and I loved the fact that they’re a female-only press and have a committee of women who decide what to publish. Added to that was my huge respect for Caroline Oakley, a Honno editor who had worked closely in a previous role for a number of years with (the aforementioned) Ian Rankin. I was absolutely delighted when I heard from Caroline that Honno were going to publish ‘Not Thomas’ and my whole experience of being part of the Honno family has been fantastic. All the staff and other authors are extremely supportive and go out of their way to make everyone welcome. I’m constantly recommending Honno to my female friends who are writers. It may be a small indie press but it commands huge respect and publishes wonderful books.”
“Ilove the team spirit which goes with being a Honno author. The other authors are so supportive of each other, and you really feel part of the gang. You get to know everyone who makes Honno work, and feel part of the enterprise, in a way which would surely be very difficult in a larger organisation. I was, and continue to be, overwhelmed at the generosity of everyone involved. It feels like a real joint-venture, which is a pleasure to be a part of.”
“I think with Honno, my forthcoming novel has found the perfect home with the UK’s longest-standing independent press that champions Welsh women and Welsh writing. I am proud that I now find myself among a list of authors I so admire.“
“First, the fact that I am published by a women’s press is a major achievement. I grew into my own identity reading books by Honno and other women’s presses, and I felt that there must be something really special about authors who are published by smaller presses who can’t afford to take a gamble in the way in a bigger publishing house could. I am in awe of my fellow Honno authors, and I really do feel honoured to be in their company. It is so great to have a good relationship with my editor, and the community of Honno authors is so supportive and helpful. It is a huge plus to not have to have an agent to get your work read. I could paper my wall with rejection slips and after a while it just wears you down. Then there’s that personal experience of being nurtured by an editor who really knows her stuff and is invested in making sure your work is the best it can be.
I think with Honno, the authors are all excellent, and that kind of sets a standard. It makes me strive to be better, to be worthy of the association. And it’s a feminist press, so what’s not to like?“
“I’m eternally grateful that I had the experience of being published by Honno before finding an agent and having a two-book deal with Orion. Having been through the process in the slightly less pressurised atmosphere of Honno, and learning the different stages of the editing process, gave me the confidence to feel I knew what I was doing – and even more importantly know that I had done it three times before so could do it again! That experience has been utterly invaluable. Honno also gave me time to develop as a writer and become more certain of who I was as an author.”
“The community of writers and the friendship that has come out of being published by Honno. Having the confidence that I’ll be taken seriously with the next book (though as with big publishing houses there’s no guarantee a book will be taken on). And going to the seaside whenever I go to talk to my editor.”
“The informality and camaraderie of an indie publisher suits me and my way of working. I’ve been a Honno author for fifteen years and everyone I’ve worked with there has been approachable, supportive, flexible and available. I’m extremely blessed to have Caroline Oakley as my editor. She ‘gets’ what I’m trying to achieve and nudges me, firmly but sympathetically, in the right direction. I couldn’t bear to hand ‘my babies’ over to people whom I didn’t know, trust and consider to be friends.”
“My association with Honno began with their anthology, Luminous and Forlorn, which included my short story, Lovey Dovey Cats Eyes. I like that they are real people, who treat their authors as real people, rather than as a means to an end. They respect your wishes, offer sound advice and editing and pull out all the stops to provide a really good quality product you can be proud of.“
“Being published by Honno is like going home. The first publisher of my fiction was The Women’s Press, where writers experienced warm support and a shared outlook on the politics of gender. At Honno there is a sense of solidarity such as one rarely finds in larger and more impersonal firms. Caroline’s editing skills are second to none and I have been grateful for her experience and insight.“
Submitting your work
Honno is always interested in receiving unsolicited manuscripts but currently does not intend to publish poetry, works for children, novellas or short story collections by a single author. Honno does publish full length works of fiction and non-fiction for adults (manuscripts of between 60,000 and 120,000 words).
Honno is open to all genres of fiction and is particularly interested in increasing the number of literary fiction, crime/thriller, commercial women’s fiction, science fiction and fantasy titles it publishes. Honno is also building a list of non-fiction works to include biography (untold tales of remarkable Welsh women, places and industries), memoir, nature and travel writing. For a good idea of the types of work Honno is interested in study the Books pages on this site and the Editor’s blog posts.
However, whatever kind of work you are submitting, please ensure that you meet Honno’s criteria (see ‘Submission guidelines’ below) BEFORE doing so.
Honno is keen to publish work that shows all sides of life in Wales, but will consider stories not set within Wales. Honno is a feminist publisher and that influences the kinds of work selected for publication.
During the Coronavirus crisis we are happy to take submissions by email. Please attach your covering letter and submission and email it to email@example.com with ‘submission – your name ‘ as the subject line.