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Wednesday, December 13, 2017


I am honored to be able to publish a guest post from one of my favorite authors of racy maritime tales -- Helen Hollick, whose boisterous lust for life and love of the sea sparkles through every word.

Her post is about her new, and particularly valuable, book review blog site.  All authors, and not just Indies, are well advised to read on....

Thank you, Joan, for inviting me here to talk about my historical fiction review blog, Discovering Diamonds. For several years I was Managing Editor for Indie Reviews for an historical association, but for various reasons I decided it was time I founded my own online site. So Discovering Diamonds was officially launched on 1st January 2016. Our anniversary approaches!

Several reviewers who had worked with me also transferred to #DDRevs (our Twitter hashtag) as they wholeheartedly supported what I wanted to do – that is review, and therefore recommend, enjoyable-to-read well written, historical fiction, regardless of whether the book was indie or traditionally published. A good read is a good read – however it is produced. We also felt that we wanted to support and encourage indie writers who often find it difficult to get their novels noticed. Reliable reviews by reliable reviewers can boost a writer a long way up that steep, daunting ladder. 

We take great pleasure in seeing new authors improve as they gain in experience and confidence. Let me stress, however, that we are not a critique service, we do not give feedback or advice. Not all novels submitted to us receive a review, we select which books to read, and then which ones to review. For those we do not select, it does not mean they were not very good, but maybe we felt the novel could do with another edit, there were too many missed errors, anachronisms or too much ‘head-hopping’.  And I do need to be truthful, some novels are not well-written –  this can include traditional mainstream novels as well as indies! We only (usually!) publish positive reviews, although we do include some constructive criticism if we feel it necessary. There are quite a few boxes that need to be ticked before we publish a review and award the author one of our Discovering Diamonds logos. The novel has to look professionally produced: no left-hand margin text, no page after page of typo errors etc. Our aim is to recommend novels that are, in our opinion, ‘value for money’.

It was a lot of hard work to get Discovering Diamonds started: the blog had to be created, and suitable logos and graphics designed, for which I am grateful to Cathy Helms of  My team is brilliant. They are dedicated reviewers and admin helpers Discovering Diamonds would not exist without them. With everything in place,  we needed submissions. I only expected a few novels to trickle in, but they flooded in! By the end of that first January I was already scheduling reviews to ‘go live’ an entire month ahead. (We continue to schedule for between 4 – 6 weeks ahead of ourselves.)

We prefer e-versions as we have no funding to cover postage or purchase costs (this is all voluntary!) Mobi or e-pub are best, but we will accept paperback copies by arrangement. Plus, we only accept books that are already published with an isbn and are available via Amazon (which is, alas, the main point-of-sale outlet for authors.) Apart from that, we accept any sub-genre of historical fiction. By ‘historical’ I mean anything that has 75% of the story set pre-1950. This is because I was born in 1953 and I refuse to be thought of as historic! At our discretion we will review something history-based set in the 1960s. We might even consider something contemporary if it has a very strong historical connection – I am thinking specifically of time travel, or Alison Morton’s wonderful Roma Nova series, which are modern-day thrillers, but with the theme that the Ancient Roman administration survived, which I think readers of Roman-Age novels will find fascinating. We welcome romances, thrillers, young adult fiction – anything as long as it has that historical connection.

The emphasis, though, is on the word good. We are looking for quality books that are value for money to buy, and are suitable for recommending by ‘word of mouth’, the best way for authors to sell books.

To submit a novel either email me (address below) or fill in the submission form on the blog’s sidebar. I will then send you detailed instructions of what we want, where and how to submit your novel. We do not accept gift vouchers – they are too complicated to use when other reviewers are involved.

In addition to our reviews – we publish one review per weekday – we often have interesting posts about writing or reading. At present during December 2017 we are running a series entitled Diamond Tales, a variety of short stories written by some delightful authors – do take a look! (This link here will take you to the first of the series.)

We give two awards each month, one for Cover of the Month, one for Book of the Month. You’ll find details on Discovering Diamonds. We also give eye-catching logos for authors to use as they wish; our aim is that these logos will, in time, become instantly recognised by readers as a sign of recommended quality. With fingers crossed and a lot of hard work to gain the respectability I am aiming for, Discovering Diamonds will, I hope, become one of the prime places for authors to receive a diamond-standard review for their work of  historical fiction.


Helen Hollick moved from London in 2013 and now lives with her family in North Devon, in an eighteenth century farmhouse surrounded by thirteen acres of fields and woodland. A variety of pets include horses, Exmoor ponies, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, geese and a donkey.
First published over twenty years ago, her main passion is her pirate character, Captain Jesamiah Acorne of the nautical adventure series, The Sea Witch Voyages.

Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) – the story of Saxon Queen, Emma of Normandy. Her novel Harold the King (titled I Am The Chosen King in the US) is a re-telling of the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings. While her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, set in the fifth century, is widely acclaimed as a different telling of the Arthurian Myth.

She has written three non-fiction books, Pirates; Truth and Tales and a book about smugglers, to be published in 2018. As a supporter of indie writers, co-wrote Discovering the Diamond with her editor, Jo Field, a short advice guide for new and novice writers who are interested in self-publishing.
Helen is published in various languages including Turkish, Italian and German.


Helen Hollick :
Twitter: @HelenHollick
Twitter hashtag:  #DDRevs
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Linda Collison said...

I appreciate Helen Hollick's interest and efforts in promoting good books -- whether they be published traditionally or independently -- and I'm pleased that Rhode Island Rendezvous was deemed a diamond and recently reviewed.

Antoine Vanner said...

Helen is a Force of Nature, whose zest, enthusiasm and generosity of spirit sets an example for all of us. It's a delight and an honour knowing her.

World of the Written Word said...