Some people go out of their way to help other writers get their moment in the limelight. Helen Hollick is one such person – and seriously, I suspect she has some very, very special mushrooms growing in a wardrobe somewhere that she munches daily to keep her energy up. Since some years, she runs Discovering Diamonds, a very successful review site (more of that below) and other to this, she keeps on coming up with one creative idea after the other to allow us writers to shine.
She has organised blog hops and goes under the nickname Mrs Admiral for the hands-on way she manages these events. (Well, okay: I call her Mrs Admiral, and not only because of the blog hops but because I love her books about drop-dead pirate Jesamiah Acorne) In 2018, she came up with yet another brilliant idea, but I think it is better that I let Helen tell you all about it herself!
Read The Story . . . Guess the Song. A look back at the Discovering Diamonds December Diversion
As some enthusiastic historical fiction readers know, I founded and run (supported by a fantastic team of reviewers and admin helpers) an historical fiction review blog – Discovering Diamonds. We ‘opened for business’ in January 2017 and have been going from strength to strength ever since. We recently had our 1,000th submission enquiry, have had over 334,000 page views, and are (at time of writing this) 14th on the ‘Top 35 Historical Book Blogs & Websites To Follow’.
We are quite picky about the books that get a review published: they must reach a certain ‘value for money’ standard, not only for the writing but for the presentation as well. No one wants to pay good money for a novel that is poorly formatted, let alone poorly written. We only review historical novels with at least 75% of the story set prior to 1953 (that’s because I was born that year, and I refuse to think of myself as ‘historical’!)
But during December we take a break from posting reviews to treat our regular (and many new!) visitors to a special entertainment. For 2018 and 2019 I invited a variety of authors – some well-known, others not as familiar – to contribute a short story inspired by a song title. It didn’t have to be a well known song, or an historical-based story – and the result was a month long daily dose of pleasure. Some of the stories were amusing, some thoughtful. Some were romances, some were not . . . in short (excuse the mild pun) anything was acceptable.
The second part of the enjoyment was to guess the song. I gave a (often cunning!) picture-based clue at the top of the page, and some of the stories had hidden clues – although several also had red herrings!
As an example, can you guess the song that goes with this image?
(Don’t cheat, the answer is at the bottom of this post).
Running the stories was hard work for me. (Why do I offer to do these things? *laugh*) Apart from the obvious formatting of submitted stories onto Blogger (which can be very pedantic at times, especially where fonts and spacing is concerned), I had to find suitable ‘clue’ images (thanks to Pixabay this was quite enjoyable – if time consuming).
Note that there is very strong copyright legislation for song lyrics, and often titles, so it would not be advisable to write a story about a popular song. There is no copyright, however, on ideas and inspiration. For instance, my story was inspired by . . . ah, but that would be a spoiler wouldn’t it?
In addition to providing some entertainment for our readers, the aim was to promote, in an innovative way, some good authors, both Indie and Traditional Mainstream. There are some very good Indie writers out there who, unlike mainstream authors who have a publishing company behind them, find marketing their books a challenge. It is not, for most of us, about making money from our novels. We know full well that the profit margins for Indie writers varies between low to non-existent. We write because we want to share our characters to entertain our readers and to, yes, have some little bit of success.
Was the project successful? I don’t know if any authors sold any books, or whether they did attract any new readers – but we had just under 11,000 visitors to Discovering Diamonds during December, so that was a result!
I hope that the stories we shared during December brought a little of that potential success to the authors who joined in, and that readers enjoyed them enough to explore these authors’ novels.
If you would like to submit a historical novel you’ve published for potential review email me (Helen) on firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you would like to help us support good authors we always welcome new reviewers!
So . . . did you guess the song?
Telling Stories by Tracy Chapman
Start reading here with Anna’s Story (Yes please, says Anna 🙂 ) then follow Previous or Next
Read the stories. Guess the song – and discover new authors and through them, a host of new fictional friends!
Thank you, Helen!
I do hope you spend some time reading all those lovely stories that you can find on Discovering Diamonds. And if you’re looking for a great read, whether it be set at sea with an extremely dashing pirate or in the dark ages with a refreshingly “real” Arthur or in 1066 with *sniff* the doomed Harold Godwinson, I strongly recommend that you rush over to Helen’s Amazon page and choose your next read there!