Research …

With winter is just around the corner,  there is no better time for me to knuckle down and work on a manuscript. But, before I do, there was just time to squeeze in a holiday before I dig out the winter woollies from the bottom of the wardrobe and hibernate until spring.

As many of  you will know, I lived on a croft in rural Aberdeenshire for many years and have long considered Scotland my second home. So, it probably comes as no surprise that my destination of choice was Scotland and in particular, Dumfries and Galloway. I love the Highlands, the rugged beauty of the mountains, but the Scottish border country also has a special place in my heart because it is the home of Scotland’s National Book Town.

Wigtown is home to at least seven bookshops and is a haven for book lovers with over a quarter of a million books to choose from. Each year holds it holds a book festival. With 200 hundred events and workshops for adults and children.  The festival takes place over ten days, with such speakers as Ian Rankin, Professor Iain Sinclair, Mairi Hedderwick, Denise Mina, and Gavin Esler, I decided to take some time out of our holiday to attend a few of the events.

I have long held the desire to write crime. So, when I read in the Festival Brochure that Denise Mina, winner of the McIlvanney Prize 2017 for Scottish crime book of the year, I knew that was one event I could not miss. Ms Mina is a Scottish novelist and playwright, and her latest book, The Long Drop is the true crime account of Peter Manuel, a serial killer who operated in Glasgow in the 1950s.

 

 

Now, I have a confession to make, although I have seen Ms Mina’s books in the local bookshop, I had never read one until this week. More than just a crime story, The Last Breath, kept me up all night wondering what would happen next. As soon as I finish this post, I shall be scouring Amazon for more of her novels.

Not only am I determined to finish the romantic suspense novel I’m working on, but also to try my hand at writing a crime novel. Watch this space!

UKIndieLit Festival 2017

I WILL BE AN ATTENDING AUTHOR AT THIS YEAR’S UK INDIE LIT FEST!

to be held at the
Kala Sangam Arts Centre,
1 Forster Court,
Bradford, BD1 4YT

on Saturday 26th August, 2017

Entry is FREE, but you will require a ticket available from Eventbrite.

I look forward to seeing you all there!

Time Flies…

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of February, and I am only just updating this page.  It’s not that I had forgotten or been disorganised, my only excuse is that I’ve been busy!  My diary is full of speaking and multi-author book signing events, all of which are listed on the Events page of this website.

I’m delighted to report that the audiobook versions of my novels have received some lovely reviews on Audible.com  So, much so, that I decided to include Jim’s review of The House on the Shore here.  What makes his review all the more satisfying is that he states he doesn’t normally read or listen to romance!

 

“A compelling mystery and great love story.”

The way I would start this sarcastically is: I didn’t hate it. In truth, I really liked it!

I usually don’t read or listen to romance. This audio book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review, though, so I thought I’d give the genre a chance. I’m glad I did. The writing is excellent; descriptive without being flowery, suspenseful with out being confusing, and romantic without being lewd. A love story written in and around a mystery story, both taking turns that could go in one of two or even three directions. The characters were described so well that, by the end of the book, I was seeing them have conversations, not just listening. Though I don’t often delve into this genre, I’ll be reading or listening to more from Victoria Howard, mostly because the suspense and mystery is so well done.

The performance by Ruth Urquhart was great. Her being able to shift between accents, even between varying Scottish accents, was superb, and her American accents were some of the best I’ve heard from a non-American. The pace of her read was consistent and clean, pronunciation excellent, and I was able to drop into that world without a thought as she brought the words to life.All in all, this is a great story, a good performance, and now I actually want to visit a small “House on the Shore.”

 

Did you know that if you’ve purchased a copy of either the print or ebook versions from Amazon you can download a copy of the audiobook from Audible for a fraction of the price?  So why not head over to Audible treat yourself to a copy of The House on the Shore or Ring of Lies?

Work on my next romantic suspense novel progresses, now that I have completed the research following a visit to Scotland in autumn last year.  As with The House on the Shore, this book is also set in the Highlands, and features Imogen Stark, a landscape photographer.  I’m hoping the manuscript will be complete by August or September and will be published sometime in 2018.

Until next time,

Victoria

A Holiday and Research

I love autumn, and am always happy when I spend it in Scotland. And, if I can combine a trip to my favourite part of the country with a little research for my next book, I’m even happier. The air seems crisper, the vistas clearer, the sunrises, and sunsets more stunning. I don’t mind the darker mornings and evenings, which give me the impetus to sit down and write, or finish the knitting projects that were abandoned in spring when longer days meant time spent in the garden.

I’ve just returned from two weeks staying on the Mull of Galloway, that ‘hammer head’ part of southwest Scotland that juts out into the Irish Sea. Part holiday, part research for my next book, it turned out to be two weeks full of beach walks, ancient stone circles, and stunning gardens hewn from hillsides.

Glenwhan Garden, Dunragit
Glenwhan Garden, Dunragit

The fictional village in my current manuscript is based on the town Portpatrick, a former port for transportation to and from Northern Ireland. The ferries have long gone, and Portpatrick is now a holiday resort and the starting point for the Southern Upland Way, a long distance path that stretches to the east coast some 212 miles away.

Portpatrick
Portpatrick

A little further south, lies the village of Port Logan, created by Colonel Andrew McDowall, the Laird of Logan in 1818. The Bell Tower at the end of the harbour was designed by Thomas Telford, better known for designing bridges and the Caledonian Canal.

The Bell Rower, Port Logan Harbour
The Bell Rower, Port Logan Harbour

I’m fascinated ancient carved stones, and was surprised to find a fine example of bothat Kirkmadrine Church. It is home to a collection of the oldest Christian monuments in Scotland.

 

Early Christian Stone Carving, Kirkmadrine Church
Early Christian Stone Carving, Kirkmadrine Church

While driving back from Wigtown, I also came across the Standing Stones of Torhouse, a Bronze Age stone circle consisting of 19 granite boulders. The three central stones are known as King Gladus’s Tomb, a legendary and probably mythical early Scottish King. While the dumpy granite boulders are not as impressive as the stone pillars of Callanish on the Isle of Lewis, it was nonetheless interesting to read that the circle was probably erected between 2000-1500 BC as a religious centre.

Torhouse Stone Circle, Nr Wigtown
Torhouse Stone Circle, Nr Wigtown

And no post would be complete without a photo of the weather forecasting stone from the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse.

Weather forecasting stone, Mull of Galloway Lighthouse
Weather forecasting stone, Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

I am now home, armed with a camera full of images to inspire and a notebook full of ideas, it’s time to knuckle down to finishing the next book.

Until next time.

UK Indie Lit Festival, Bradford

I am delighted to announce that I am taking part in the first UK Indie Literature Festival being held in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on the 23rd July.  Organised by Follow this Publishing in conjunction with Cillian Press, this aims to be an annual event.   Readers will have the opportunity to take part in workshops, in addition to meeting authors, purchasing books, and entering competitions.  Over 25 authors, including International best selling author Kendare Blake, will be in attendance, both in person and via Skype.

Indie Logo1

It is free to attend, but you will require a ticket which are available from Eventbrite.  So, why not join me and my colleagues for a great day out?

Author Events

Although it is some time away, I am pleased to announce that I am taking part in a multi-author signing in event at the Red Rose Steam Society Ltd, Astley Green, Manchester, on Saturday 13th August 2015.

 

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Authors of all genres will be in attendance.  So, if you are an avid reader, why not make a note in your diary and come along?  I shall be posting more details, including how to obtain tickets, nearer the time.

In the meantime, visit the Facebook page for readers.

I hope to see you there.

York Afternoon Tea

On Saturday the 5th September, I had the pleasure of joining over ninety fellow romance authors and members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association at an Afternoon Tea held in the fifteenth century York Guildhall.

 

Interior York Guildhall

 

 

Organised and hosted by the Yorkshire Terrier Chapter of the RNA, this was the first time such an event had been held outside of London.With a glass of Prosecco in hand it was time to circulate and chat with friends old and new, assisted by our name badges, before taking a seat at one of the tables.

Grace was said by Kelvin Woolmer, husband of RNA Chapter Liaison, Jean Fullerton. Then tea was served on delicate vintage china. The caterers did themselves proud, supplying copious amounts of tea, sandwiches, savouries, and cakes.

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Multi-published author, Milly Johnson entertained us with an hysterical talk on the habits of ‘The Northern Bird,’ and how she differs from her southern sister. Milly concluded with her own variation of the well-known Robert Burns poem, with her ‘Address to the Scone,’ after which we appropriately tucked into scones with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. Yum!

It was a lovely afternoon, spent in great company.

 

Penistone Literary Festival

It’s been a while since I posted, I know. I can’t even use working in the garden as an excuse, because on the whole, the weather has been cold, grey and rather miserable.

But I had some very good news this month – I’ve been invited to speak at the 1st ever Penistone Literary Festival on Sunday 20th July! Ceri Worman and Edana Guest, are working hard to bring the event together.

There’s a stellar line up of writers and poets including, Simon Armitage, Barnsley’s best selling novelist Milly Johnson, Michael Fowler, and Andrew McMillan. There are events for children and even a poetry walk.

 

Penistone Literary Festival 2014

I feel very honoured to have been asked to take part and am looking forward to meeting everyone who attends. Once the full programme is announced, I’ll put the link up on this site.

So, if you are in Penistone on Saturday and Sunday, 19th and 20th July, you really should treat yourself and pop along to St John’s Community Centre for a chance to hear about their work.

I’ve also been invited to talk to Springfield Ladies, a local group based in Hoyland, in May.

The audiobook version of Ring of Lies, has received a number of 5star reviews on Audible.com. Yay!

And finally, I’m planning to turn The House on the Shore into an audiobook, if I can find a narrator who can perform an authentic Scottish accent and who’s not afraid to try pronouncing or learn a few Gaelic words! So, if you or someone you know has what it takes to be a voiceover artist and can speak Gaelic, why not sign up to Audiobook Creation Exchange and submit your audition?

More details to follow!

Ring of Lies audiobook receives a 5star review

The audiobook version of Ring of Lies has received it’s first review on  Audible.co.uk and I am delighted to say it’s been given 5 Stars!
Aaron P. Lazar  wrote on 10/02/2014
Overall:  5 stars
Performance: 5 stars
Story: 5 Stars

“I Didn’t Want to Stop Listening – Great Suspense!”

If you could sum up Ring of Lies in three words, what would they be?

Intriguing, page-turner, well-written

What other book might you compare Ring of Lies to, and why?

I would say this genre is simliar to Mary Higgens Clark’s books – and just as well done! The writing flowed seamlessly, the dialog felt completely natural, the suspense never let up, and the action scenes were riveting. I loved listening to this book!

What does Michelle Ford bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I fell in love with Michelle Ford’s female English accent. It was gorgeous, and reminded me of a grown up Haley Mills based on my childhood memories of PollyAnna. (Not that this book is anything like PollyAnna!) Her voice is lyrical, warm, and simply beautiful. Ms. Ford’s American male accent was a bit “nasal” sounding for all of the American men in the story, and once in a great while she slipped from one accent to the other in the wrong places, but it was rare and didn’t bother me. I could NEVER do what this amazing narrator did, which is hold up a conversation with a Brit and an American all the way through the book. I imagine it might be very difficult to do, and I bow down to her immense talent.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

An innocent woman discovers shocking secrets about her husband after his death, aided by an FBI agent she can’t resist, and who has his own share of troubles to hide.

Any additional comments?

I really loved the main character, Grace. She was well-rounded and quite believable. Jack…well, I’m a guy. At first he ticked me off because of his situation at home. I believe in family first and no fooling around! But then more came out about Jack’s true situation (no spoilers here!) and in the end I empathized with him and was cheering him on.

I particularly loved the action scenes – there is a swamp scene where Grace and Jack are on the run from villains, dashing through the cold swamp waters…phenomenal! Also thoroughly enjoyed the description of the house in Florida. Wouldn’t mind going there right about now!