A warm welcome back to Helen Pollard who's dropped by today to talk about her writing journey.
Hello, Helen. :) Can you tell us how you became an author?
My love of writing grew from my love of reading – especially Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree stories, which I devoured every night long past my bedtime by the light of the street lamp outside my window. I loved the way she created whole new worlds and wanted to do that for myself, so I started to write my own stories in a special notebook (which I still have, although it's a little ragged now).
In my teens, I was encouraged by an English teacher who was into astrology. She drew up my chart and told me I have a very creative trine. Who was I to argue?
In my twenties, there were several failed attempts at trying to get a romance published. I'd read a few, enjoyed them despite my inner cynic, and in the arrogance of youth, decided I could do just as well myself. One of the rejections I got was encouraging, the others generic …
By now I had two kids, no sleep and no time. I gave up. Returning to work and a stretch of ill health prolonged that decision.
In the meantime, my daughter was doing nothing but write and clearly loving it, and my fingers began to itch to hit the keyboard again. I’d had an opening scene for a contemporary women's fiction novel in my mind for years, and the day I decided to type it up, it was like opening the floodgates.
Two years later (it was a long book and I’m an obsessive edit-and-polisher), I began sending it to agents, entering a soul-destroying cycle of posting it off, waiting months for a rejection letter or getting no response at all, re-polishing it, sending it somewhere else … after two years of it, that manuscript was given a long rest at the back of a drawer.
I went back to writing straightforward romance, and I was delighted when Warm Hearts in Winter was accepted and published by Clean Reads (formerly Astraea Press) last year, and this year my latest release Holding Back. I’m so glad I rediscovered my love of words!
Congratulations, Helen. Well done for not giving up. Do you have any advice for new writers?
I'm often asked this. Here goes … First, write because you love it. Readers know whether your heart is in it or not.
Second, if you want to get published (and not everyone does!) be prepared for the long haul. You may get lucky, but it can take years of honing your craft and learning about the writing world before you succeed. If you can be totally honest with yourself about where your strengths and weaknesses lie and still believe in your work, then it is worth persevering.
Finally, be aware that getting published doesn’t end with writing your book or getting a contract. There’s a whole world of marketing, social media, blogging etc. that goes with it and will steal away your writing time!
Great advice, Helen. Now tell us a bit about your latest book, Holding Back. Love the cover!
Holding Back, is set in the beautiful countryside of northern Portugal – perfect for a summer read.
The last thing they're looking for is love …
Laura Matheson is a natural at avoiding romance, so when she is drawn to mystery guest Daniel Stone while helping out at her friends' hotel in Portugal, she assumes all she needs is a little extra willpower.
Daniel is at the hotel on business. The demands of work and a manipulative ex-girlfriend mean he doesn't have the time or energy for romance, but Laura is a distraction he finds hard to ignore.
As they negotiate a minefield of misunderstandings and mutual attraction, will they both continue to hold back? Or will they finally allow love into their lives?
"Excuse me. You've picked up the wrong bag."
Deep and decisive, the voice startled Laura from behind as she loaded her luggage onto her hard-won airport trolley.
"No, I don't think so." She swung round to confront the voice's owner. Unnerved to find him towering over her, she took a step back, stumbling over her trolley in the process.
With lightning speed, he reached out to catch her arm, his grip strong as he helped her regain her balance. When she was upright again, she took in piercing blue eyes, thick dark brown hair, a hint of stubble on a tanned face—and felt an immediate jolt of attraction.
Laura ignored it. "I can manage, thank you," she snapped, thinking she wouldn't have tripped if he hadn't surprised her like that.
He released his hold and raised an eyebrow. "As I said, you have my bag."
Pushing away long strands of chestnut-brown hair that had dared escape their ponytail, Laura returned his gaze.
"No, this is definitely mine." She was hot, harassed, and late. The last thing she needed was a futile argument over her own luggage!
"Would you mind if I check?"
"Help yourself." Unable to disguise her impatience, Laura waved at it, adding, "But I am in a hurry." She winced at the hostile tone in her voice, but she really didn't have time for this. Tapping her foot in irritation, she waited to be proved right as he crouched over her trolley.
"Would you care to look?" he asked.
Laura's foot stopped tapping. Recognising undisguised triumph on his face, she read the label over his shoulder with trepidation, but there it was in black and white—Daniel Stone, London Gatwick to Porto. The heat that rose in her cheeks seemed to burn right through her skin.
"But it's the same as mine!" she blustered, watching with embarrassment as he hoisted the heavy bag from the trolley with ease.
"It's hardly a unique design," he commented, shrugging broad shoulders. "If you weren't in such a tearing hurry, you might have spotted your own on the carousel."
Laura spun around to see her bag riding forlornly around with the few that were left. Mortified, she opened her mouth to apologise.
But he spoke first. "Personally, I would advocate that old saying 'More haste, less speed.'" His tone softened a little as he added, "I'm sorry, but you're not the only hot, tired person whose flight was delayed, you know." And off he strolled through the terminal, his bag flung over his shoulder, without a backward glance.
About the Author:
Helen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor – to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love … and we all need a little love, right?
A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers and a psychotic cat. When she's not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.
Find Helen at:
Website & Blog: http://helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com
Thanks for dropping by, Helen. :)
You can read more about Helen's work here.