Friday, 27 March 2020

Free Reads for #Covid-19 Isolation

How life can change in less than a month. Here at Hornsea Writers everyone is so far so good, and we hope all our readers are enjoying similar health.

Like other countries in Europe, in the UK we are getting used to life under lockdown: home-schooling, creating new routines, staying two metres apart while outside. But it still means an awful lot of time within our own four walls, and 24-hour television soon palls.

Reading has always been The Great Escape, and Hornsea Writers has some great free reads they want to share. Many people subscribe to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and here are a few offerings. Links go to the author’s Amazon page unless stated:


Penny Grubb, winner of a Crime Writers’ Association Dagger, offers two sometimes overlapping series: the DS Martyn Webber Mysteries and the Annie Raymond PI Mysteries, both set firmly in the realities of modern UK policing. The first three Annie Raymond books are available as a trilogy under the title Falling Into Crime.

April Taylor writes Cosy Crime with a touch of acerbic wit in her Georgia Pattison Mysteries. Georgia is an early-music singer, so giving recitals in cathedrals and the mansions of the aristocracy are her bread and butter. Alas, there always seems to be a body involved. For music lovers all the Georgia Pattison books have links to the music mentioned. She has written a somewhat darker, psychic Crime, The Angel Killer, with a lead character who does not embrace his “gift”, plus a Sherlock Holmes pastiche and a collection of short fiction.


Madeleine McDonald writes long and short fiction. Her Enchantment In Morocco is a heart-warming story of East meets West and the constraints and acceptance of traditions and modernity. Enjoy life in a sun-baked village where lemon trees overhang white-washed walls and olive groves offer shade to working donkeys.

Linda Acaster writes mythic fantasy and chillers, but also has two historical romances in Kindle Unlimited. There is the ‘sweet’ Mediaeval Hostage of the Heart set in 1066 on the English-Welsh borderlands, full of intrigue and derring-do, and the ‘sensual’ Native American Beneath The Shining Mountains set in a time when European encroachment was mere rumour.


Shellie Horst was one of the principal movers behind Distaff, an anthology of eclectic stories from women writers. It has been very well received, not least for the cover art which Shellie created. Anthologies and collections are always good for readers short of time, enabling them to dip in and out. Be sure to read My Little Mecha which Shellie wrote, especially if you are currently home-schooling.

The SMASHWORDS Authors Give Back Scheme
It isn't just on Amazon where free reads are available. Smashwords is hosting a collaboration with many of its authors to help readers cope with the Covid-19 isolation.

Stuart Aken has all six of his titles listed on the site downloadable for free until 19th April. Scroll down his Profile page for direct links. There’s a choice of erotic romance, heart-warming romance, speculative fiction, humour, dark crime, and for those with a family member suffering from ME/Chronic Fatigue, his own ten-year experiences complete with helpful information.

All authors have other titles available, on Amazon and other retail sites, for prices as low as 99p/99c, not listed here. Check the links to individual authorpages below the header.

We wish our readers many hours of immersive reading as a much needed diversion from the  sombre reality of current day-to-day life.

Stay safe. Keep your distance from others, and wash your hands. It’s the least we can do to alleviate the pressure on our health services, no matter where in the world we live.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Fatigue? Burnout? Worse?

The Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck
controlling our metabolism.
Late winter is the time many of us feel the year's grind taking its toll. We're tired; we have trouble focusing; the words won't flow as they used to.

And why not? Many writers have full-time employment to contend with, and a family life to maintain, alongside their passion. Yet there is always that lingering worry... am I approaching burnout? The tendency is to rationalise  symptoms and wait for an improvement.

Hornsea Writers member Linda Acaster did just that - and awoke one morning in 2018 to find a lump on her neck. 1 in 20 people suffer from a Thyroid disorder. Even when you think you're doing everything right, it may all go horribly wrong.

Finally fighting her way back to health, she's written a series of five posts to share her experiences and pass on what she's learned. "If I can make one person stop and think, it'll have been worthwhile."

Catch her posts at and choose the numbered posts from the right-hand column.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Charity anthology for Australia

Anthologies, especially those that appear in print, can take up to a year from submissions to publication. Not in this case, thanks to a remarkable team effort by authors and other staff at my American publisher.

On 14 February The Wild Rose Press launches the first of three e-book and print anthologies, Australia Burns, with all profits donated to the Australian Red Cross to help rebuild lives and livelihoods destroyed by terrifying bush fires. Despite recent rains, the fires still burn.

The initial suggestion came from an Australian author, at the beginning of January, and the response was huge. Everyone wanted to do their bit. Forty-eight authors offered stories, enough in the end to fill three volumes. Editors, formatters, video trailer makers and marketing staff offered their time.

Despite being rushed out in record time, all work has been done to a professional standard. My story, A Solicitous Wife, first published in the UK, was nonetheless edited to conform to the rules of American grammar, which insist on inserting commas before the words and or but. Never quibble with an editor, especially in a good cause.

The Wild Rose Press is a romance publisher, but Australia Burns, Sending Australia Some Love, contains a mix of romance, suspense, and mystery. Volume One can be ordered as an e-book at, or in print at

Madeleine McDonald

Friday, 24 January 2020

A Conference for the Indie Author

While there are plenty of events for authors published by traditional methods, finding a conference outside of London that focuses entirely on the needs of an indie author is difficult.

May 30th sees the first Indie Fire arrive at the Kirkgate Centre in Shipley. This is a writer’s conference aimed at all things indie...and speculative. Included in the ticket price are a day’s worth or writing workshops, discussion panels and a book market. 

Hornsea Writer Shellie Horst will be running a workshop on how to get the most from your book cover artist, as well as appearing on a panel about Author Mindsets.

There’s also the chance to catch a live broadcast of The Great Western Woods Podcast to inspire your world building and wordcount!

The schedule is already live and tickets are currently only £20.00. So if you’re considering going down the self publishing route with your Fantasy YA, that hard Science Fiction, or a splendid Steampunk novel, this is an ideal chance for you to come and learn from those who have been making it work for them. You can see more on their website:

Shellie Horst is the author of several science fiction and fantasy short stories and also reviews for SFFWorld & The Future Fire. Her story, My Little Mecha has been nominated for a BSFA Award as has her cover art for Distaff. You can follow her on Twitter @millymollymo and find out more on her website  

Friday, 17 January 2020

Looking back over beginnings

It is exciting to launch a new book. There are a lot of different ways to do it ... and it doesn't always go to plan.

In this post on interviews, Linda Acaster riffs with some of the writing greats whilst launching book 2 of her Torc of Moonlight trilogy; and Stuart Aken is interviewed for an online launch for book 1 in his fantasy trilogy, A Seared Sky.

Launch parties might be physical events with champagne corks popping, but these days are more likely to be online. Stuart launched his trilogy with a Facebook event and Linda launched hers with a blog tour.

Science fiction and fantasy author, Shellie Horst, went to the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin to launch Distaff: A ScienceFiction Anthology by Female Authors. In this article she talks about women science fiction authors.

But not all book launches go to plan…

A mix-up over delivery saw Joy Stonehouse launching Witch-Bottles and Windlestraws without any books. Writers are creative, it’s what they do. Read this post to see how she handled the bookless book launch.

There are several new launches in the pipeline. Sign up (top left, just under the Welcome message) for advance notice of Hornsea Writers’ 2020 books.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Busted! Penny Grubb’s Life of Crime

Over the festive period, a local newspaper outed me for my new criminal tendencies. Noting my recent retirement from my job as a lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Hull University, the article says, “Penny Grubb has decided to turn her retirement to a life of crime.”

Not that the local area need be concerned; I don’t have the energy for traditional bank jobs these days, nor the skills for the modern online equivalent, but yes, I do intend to devote some time to the pursuit of crime – in particular the completion of my eighth crime novel which I hope to see released on the world before the end of the year.

The first 3 books in the Annie Raymond mystery series have been rerelease as a trilogy, Falling Into Crime.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Hone Writing Skills Via Entering Competitions

There's nothing like setting ourselves targets - New Year's Resolutions or not - and the continued honing of our writing skills should be a priority. 

One of the easiest methods is to write outside of our comfort zones. It truly makes us think about sentence structure, characterisation, and speech patterns other than those used as a norm.

However, writers are often strapped for time, and so writing as an exercise can too easily be pushed down the workaday list of priorities. 

Writing specifically for competitions circumvents this by offering a targeted set of constraints: market, wordcount, theme, deadline. Writers merely need to add the creative spark.

Across on his blog, member Stuart Aken runs a massive Resources page which includes a link to a substantial Creative Writing Contests Table, updated on a regular basis. Even better, many are free to enter; all offer prizes.

So what's stopping you?

If you've come to this post by chance and for ease would like more from Hornsea Writers delivered direct to your Inbox, add your e-address to the box at the top of the column. We promise you won't be inundated with daily emails.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Happy New Year!

As we embrace a New Year, let us be grateful for what we have, for the people who bring encouragement and smiles into our lives, and for the promise of what might be achieved if we put our minds to a goal. As Charles Dickens wrote:
No one is useless in this world 
who lightens the burdens of another.
We think that an excellent goal for 2020.
With many thanks to our readers on whichever continent you reside. May you all live a happy and healthy year ahead.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Golden memories can bring inspiration

When a writer gets that first inspiration for a book, it either manifests as a plot point – a what if? – situation or a character who has something to say.

For me, early music soprano, Georgia Pattison was born out of my memories of singing with Worcester Festival Choral Society in the 70s and early 80s, a time I regard as golden.

It was a time when, as a member of the chorus and in Three Choirs Festivals, I mixed with household names like Paul Tortelier, Sir Charles Groves, Janet Baker and Lennox Berkeley. I sang in the 1981 Three Choirs Festival, when 5 months pregnant. To the whole of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the ‘bump’ became Earnshaw because my husband was a Yorkshireman.
How’s Earnshaw today?’
‘He wasn’t keen on the trumpets in the Berlioz, but apart from that…
We will gloss over the fact that ‘he’ turned out to be ‘she’.

From those memories, the Georgia Pattison Mysteries came into being. It has become something of a fashion for writers to write an annual Christmas novella or short story for their series character and it is popular with readers.

So it isn’t surprising that my contemporary detective, early-music soprano, Georgia Pattison is once more making a festive appearance. This year, she is thrown into the midst of a school nativity play, with all its joys and disasters. As you might guess, she discovers that peace and goodwill to all men does not apply to murderers.

If you would like to read more about this year’s Christmas novella, While Shepherds Watched, click here:

You can buy While Shepherds Watched here :

You can find out more about April Taylor and her books here:

You can contact April Taylor:

Saturday, 7 December 2019

The Bookless Book Launch

All was planned. What could be better than to launch my first book in the village where the novel is set? A table was booked at the local pre-Christmas Craft Fair and flyers printed ready to hand out. The only problem – my books did not arrive in time from the printers.

Downhearted? Yes, but I attended the Fair anyway, only to arrive in torrential rain. Even the local dogs did not want a walk. I was shown to my table – a small one tucked in the far corner. Oh dear. I dripped my way across and there I waited for the Fair to open, my two proof copies on display looking as sad as I felt.

The event was a slow starter. A lot of folk came only for a morning coffee and a chat with friends. Many overlooked my table altogether, moving swiftly between the more colourful stalls. A few were enticed by the front cover and the title Witch-bottles and Windlestraws. I persevered. 

‘Do you like historical novels?’ I asked as they passed by. If they answered ‘yes’, then I would add, ‘Well – this one is set here, in Reighton, in the early 1700s.’ Then they were hooked. I took orders for ten books and, very trustingly, the purchasers paid in advance. All was not lost.

I did deliver the books a couple of weeks later and so met the buyers twice as they asked for their copies to be signed. Now I have good contacts in the village and they are helping with my research for the next novel in the series. 

The moral of this tale? No books, no problem!

Joy Stonehouse

Copies of Witch-bottles and Windlestraws are available as a paperback or ebook from Amazon.