Read on!

May 15, 2017
I'm a 'sinful' reader - I ignore housework and other chores and spend Sundays lying on the sofa reading a book. I shared my sin in a recent newsletter, adding that friends often thought I was wasting my time on books: "Think of all the other useful things you could do?" I've been told this by friends who might spend Sundays watching television.
The response to my confession shows I am far from alone in dissolute reading:
"I'm a culprit too. Reading in the day gives me pleasure, allows me to reflect effectively on the books I read. I become the judge, the reader and the gatekeeper to the books I read, enjoying the good and the bad times, analysing the writer's mind, and placing myself in their shoes." Dele.
"Often my dishes don't get done, or the laundry, or the cleaning of the house or other chores. And I don't care. To me, reading is more important for my well being. The world won't end if I don't do those chores, and I will be a lot happier doing what I enjoy." Cheryl.
"I also read in the day - while waiting for the kids to come out of school/while at my daughter's judo lessons/on my days off - it's a great hobby." Natalie.
"I'm retired and an empty nester. I read during the day, every day." Lynne.
"Reading is my favourite hobby. I read wherever, whenever I can." Rhonda.
"I have numerous health problems and it's a chance for me to escape the realities of life." Sheila.
"I read day, night, any time I can fit a book in." Lynn.
"I read during the day, what sensible book lover doesn't? I've never regarded myself as sinful for doing so." Linda.
However, Chris can teach us all something:
"I commute into London and, in the morning, I work on catching up on emails, etc. But as soon as I hit the seat on the return journey, the time is mine and the hour and twenty minutes is dedicated to a great book - my time, my rules. My real confession is that on a Friday evening I buy an individual glass of wine at Sainsburys and settle down with a small Rioja. Pure bliss."
So, my advice, read during the day, sin away!


Alcoholism in fiction

April 12, 2017
So many alcoholics are associated with fiction - or they used to be - Dylan Thomas, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker (she is credited with the line: "I like to have a Martini. Two at the very most. After three I'm under the table. After four I'm under the host.") These classic writers had booze problems and passed their addiction on to their characters.
Today alcoholism has almost disappeared from fiction. Paula Hawkins brought it back with A Girl on the Train (which I have...
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Tell us where you would go on a solo adventure

April 11, 2017
Travelling solo isn't easy, but it beats waiting for friends or family to decide they will sacrifice time and money to make that dream trip with you.
The Solo Travel Guide by Dee Maldon has been published by our sister imprint, Bookline & Thinker, and we're helping to promote the title by giving away five books.
All we ask is that you tell us where you would go on your dream solo trip.
Five answers will be chosen next week and the books will be shipped out fast so you can make plans before the s...
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Who is the most important person in the publishing business?

February 28, 2017

There’s a question many industries ask their interns: “Who’s the most important person in the office?” Many utter what sounds obvious, “The president.” Only to be met with a head shake. “The CEO!” Wrong again. They finally blurt out, “You!” But the questioner often gives a prim all-knowing smile before announcing, “The most important person is the patient/the client/the stakeholder.”

In publishing, the correct answer would be “the reader.”

However readers are us...

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How to find a book club - or start one!

February 6, 2017
Hookline depends on book groups and sometimes readers contact us asking how to find a book group or even how to start one.
If you wish to find a book group, there are two websites I would recommend: is a UK website with recommendations on what to read and links to groups in a given area.
The Reading Agency has a formal relationship with libraries, can recommend books and help you find a book club in your area.
If there are no groups in your community or village then you may need to...
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MA writers, we're waiting

January 6, 2017
So we're at it again!
A new year means new submissions. It's an exciting time for us, and I have to confess I love to see the manuscripts arrive in our email box. Why? Because the novels are all so different - the creativity among new writers makes my heart race with excitement. I'm not sure if other publishers feel this excitement - I hope they do.
So bring it on - all writers who are engaged in or have graduated from an MA writing programme, send us your early chapters. We'll ensure the work ...
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Readers, if you were to write a novel...

December 20, 2016
The saying goes that we all have a novel in us. As we prepare to take down 2016 submissions and start all over again in 2017, I can't help but wonder what we will see next year.
Personally, I have a good imagination and always think I could write a novel. I see something unusual - a woman crying on a park bench, a family cold with each other at a restaurant table - and I think, 'Oh, that's the beginning of a novel.' But, of course, a novel takes so much more than that - a plot that lasts longe...
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Writers, 8 questions for your characters

November 8, 2016
Readers love characters - they are our connection with the plot, what makes us reopen the pages, what makes us care.
I sometimes hear writers say, "Well, she's a middle-aged woman with an empty nest and feeling lonely." Okay, that tells us her current circumstance but it does not tell us who she is. And who she is depends upon her past and how she now looks at her past. Has she changed? How has she changed? Have those around her changed? (Think Shirley Valentine). And before you decide to ins...
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7 tips on plotting your novel - make the ground move beneath the reader's feet.

October 11, 2016
I receive a lot of manuscripts from new writers. I send them out to book clubs and often read them myself. However, sometimes it's difficult to read beyond a few pages. The story becomes simply a collection of words and I no longer care what happens in the rest of the manuscript.
The main part of writing any story is making the reader care. You have to make us want to turn the next page. Grab our attention so that we don't notice that our supper is burning or that we have missed our stop on t...
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Child migrants - a little more history

October 5, 2016
I've been a little bit obsessed by child migration recently. This is due to the fact that I've been editing Listen to the Child, a novel which tells of British children shipped out to Canada in the 1870s and distributed as indentured labour to farmers there, and reading The Lightless Sky by Gulwali Passarlay, a contemporary autobiography of a young Afghan boy sent to Europe with people smugglers.
Both books shine light on children far from home with no parent to care for them.
Gulwali is sent...
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About Me

Yvonne Barlow Editor at Hookline Books - where book clubs and readers choose the novels that go to print.

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