Roll up, Roll up! Come To The Fair!

July and August see summer fairs and festivals taking place all over the country.  Sheffield is no exception and on Sunday 12th August the South Yorkshire Summer Festival takes place at Wortley Hall.

The Festival is a FREE event with something for everyone to enjoy.  There is live music, dancers, donkey rides, face painting, and a bouncy castle, plus refreshment stalls and a BBQ, in addition to the craft, garden and gift stalls.  The event runs from 11am to 5pm, and as I mentioned, admission is free although there is a small fee for car parking.

Copyright Wortley Hall

This year, Sheffield Authors have organised a stall to showcase the work of it’s members living in Sheffield and the surrounding areas.

I, along with my fellow authors, will be on hand throughout the day, so if you’re looking for that hard-to-purchase present for a relative, do come along and say ‘hello.’ We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about our books, publishing and writing.

Back at my desk …

After four glorious weeks in Scotland, I am back home sat at my and eager to work on my novel. We had fantastic weather, so don’t believe anyone who tells you it only rains in Scotland!  And as for the famous Scottish Midge, as I was staying near the coast I avoided their biting, itching presence!

Usually my trip to Scotland takes place in September to coincides with the annual Wigtown Book Festival. Visiting earlier in the year has its advantages as the woods were full of bluebells, in fact, I don’t recall ever seeing so many. The scent occasionally combined with wild garlic was overpowering.

Of course, no trip to Scotland is without some research for my next book, including a visit to Portpatrick, the village in Galloway I have based my fictional village on.

 

Glenwhan, a garden created over a period of 30 years out of open moorland and bracken, has not only solved an issue I had with my hero’s occupation, but also given me an idea for another book.

I’ve not been completely out of touch with the publishing world while away. Some of you may be aware of the Trademark issues that are taking place across the Atlantic, where a romance author has trademarked a single word in order to protect ‘her brand.’ In doing so, she has created a furore that so far has seen three people in court and resulted in Amazon removing books from its website. After  intervention by the Romance Writer’s of America and the Author’s Guild, Amazon has reinstated the novels affected pending the results of the ongoing court case.

Fortunately, an application has been filed to have the trademark in question overturned. I hope it succeeds, because as things stand, it has far reaching consequences for writers of any genre. ***

Words are frequently repeated in book titles, as indeed are titles themselves. I know of one book with the same title as my novel, The House on the Shore. Did I threaten to sue the author, or they me? No.

Trademark law works differently to copyright law, which protects the contents of a book. I won’t bore you with all the legal details (this article explains the issue) other than to say that Trademark law indicates a source of goods;  ie., a brand such as Apple Computers.

Like many authors, I am concerned that these applications for trademarks may set a precedent. While lawyers fight it out in front of a Judge on the other side of the Atlantic, I shall continue to  work on my next novel.

Until next time,

Victoria

 

*** Since writing this post I understand another application has been made by a different author to Trademark the words Dragon Slayer, Tamer, Destroyer and Star Justice. If granted, these would affect Paranormal authors and Science Fiction authors. This application is also being challenged.

 

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!

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.

The Allure of Scotland

What is it about Scotland that draws writers and readers alike? Is it the rugged peaks, hidden lochs and glens, great Castles and stone circles? Is it because the Highlands are teeming with heroic men and equally brave women? The harsh climate and rugged landscape certainly make an ideal backdrop for adventure. Add a history that is also seeped in legend, and you have the basis for some very engaging plots. However, that still doesn’t explain the allure of Scotland in fiction.

My longstanding interest in Scotland began many years ago, not from reading novels, but primarily from childhood holidays in the Highlands. Such was my love of the country that I chose to make it my home for twenty happy years.

Skye

I wish I could explain why Scotland inspires me to set my novels there, but I can’t. Whether this is because I can trace my mother’s ancestors back to 1697 Scotland, I don’t know. I only know that the moment I cross from England into Scotland, there is a song in my heart and a spring in my step.

Scotland, it’s people and landscape continues to be popular with novelists and readers. Sir Walter Scott, Nigel Trantor, Iain Rankin, Gavin Maxwell, Rona Randall, Anne Maybury, Dana Gabaldon, Lin Anderson, and Linda Gillard, to name but a few, have all used Scotland’s landscape and it’s history for settings of their novels.

P1000936a

To me, Scotland is magical. The way sunlight casts shadows on the waters of a loch, a ruined castle, or the sight of a solitary croft house in an isolated glen seem to kick-start something in my brain and the ideas seem to flow.

Holidays 012

It will therefore comes as no surprise that my next book will also be set in a place that I think of as home.

 

Penistone Literary Festival 19th-20th July 2014

A full programme of events has now been released for the inaugural Penistone Literary Festival.  Headlined by one of the best poets of his generation, Simon Armitage, and best selling author, Milly Johnson, supported by Andrew Macmillan, crime writer M J Fowler, and other local poets and authors, it promises to be a fun-filled two-days for young and old alike.

 

PenLit Program

 

There are events for children, Penny the Sheep Children’s exhibition, a vintage tea room, a Bookshop and the chance to purchase a Penny the Sheep Mug!

Penny the Sheep mugs

 

So, pop along to the Penistone Literary Festival Website, and book your tickets now for a great day out.

 

 

 

Audiobook Version of Ring of Lies Released

I’m excited to announce that my novel, Ring of Lies, has been recorded as an audiobook.

rol-audio-1

Produced by Dave Giorgio of BookRite Books and narrated by the amazing Michelle Ford, it is now available from Audible and Amazon, and iTunes.

Even though I regularly listen to audiobooks, I hadn’t realised how much work goes into making a really good listening experience. It is an art form in its own right. A good narrator must also be a skilled actor, and ‘play’ all the roles in the story, giving each character a different voice. Just reading the words on the page is not suffice.

Michelle’s audition for Ring of Lies was amazing. When I heard her utter the words ‘Grace Elliott followed her husband’s coffin down the cobbled path…’a chill ran down my spine. I knew I had found the right narrator. Michelle’s narration brought the book to life. You can feel the character’s happiness, their anxiousness, and even their pain. Those of you who have read the print version know that the story crosses International borders and includes characters from the UK, America, and Mexico.  Michelle handled every accent beautifully.

Dave Giorgio, did a sterling job of  producing a crystal clear recording, and for liaising with Audible so it was available in time for Christmas 2013.

Listening to Michelle’s interpretation was a heady experience and I could not be more pleased with the result. So, even if you have read Ring of Lies, I think you will enjoy listening to the audiobook.  If you’ve never listened to an audiobook before, this might be a good time to give it a try.

 

It only looks like procrastination – I promise!

October 2013

You haven’t heard from me lately, and it’s for some very good reasons. No, the dog (Rosie) did NOT eat my homework. I’ve been extremely busy promoting my novels, and – yes, it’s true! – negotiating a contract for an audiobook version of Ring of Lies! I’m delighted to announce that it will be available before the year is out.  I’m also releasing a special boxed set of Ring of Lies and The House on the Shore later this month, just in time for holiday gift-giving.  Both items will delight the dedicated romantic suspense reader!

At the end of September, I travelled to Scotland for a writer’s meeting in romantic Gretna Green.  It was wonderful to meet some of my fellow authors and members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.  Unfortunately, for the present, I’m not at liberty to divulge what was discussed during this fascinating afternoon.  Suffice to say, if things pan out, next year could be extremely exciting for readers and authors of romantic fiction! Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the tour of the World-famous Blacksmiths shop, as I had to return to Barnsley for another meeting later that evening.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of reading the pre-release copy of The Seacrest by best selling author, Aaron Paul Lazar.  If you’ve never read any of Aaron’s books then you are in for a treat.  The Seacrest is a wonderful bittersweet love story that will have you reaching for the box of tissues by the end of chapter three!  I could not put the book down, so please visit Aaron’s website for the opportunity to read the first chapter.

On Thursday 10th October, I’m hoping (fingers crossed) to inspire the students of Thomas Rotherham College, as part of their Literacy Week Events.   I’ll be speaking about ‘how to take your idea from brainstorm to book,’ so I’m hard at work refining my PowerPoint presentation.

So stay tuned, my dears. I’ll make sure you know when everything is available.

 

 

The Romantic Novelists’ Association Annual Conference

On Friday, 12th July 1013, the hottest weekend of the year so far, I joined 180 members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association at The Edge, part of the University of Sheffield Endcliffe Campus, for their annual conference.

The Edge, Sheffield

Modern and spacious, The Edge offers superb conference facilities with onsite accommodation.  But my goodness was it hot.

The Edge

However, Romantic Novelists are never afraid of a challenge, and faulty air conditioning was not going to deter us.

I collected my ‘goodie bag’ full of books, chocolate, biscuits, more books and even more chocolate and joined everyone for the welcome speech from our Chairman (or should that be Chairwoman) Pia Fenton. News of new contracts and awards followed, giving us a reason to celebrate.  This, of course, was followed by wine, a chance to gossip, share tips and market opportunities, as well as to catch up with friends, and drink more wine!

Goodie bag

The serious business started the following morning with Maggi Fox’s very informative session on public relations.  Other sessions included using theme to deepen your work with Julie Cohen; how to manage your time, hot scenes and how to make them, and diversifying your career, had our heads buzzing with ideas.

The Gala Dinner took place on Saturday evening; sadly I was unable to attend, but the food, I’m told, was delicious, and the outfits and shoes were fabulous.

More sessions by followed on Sunday. Nina Harrington’s, in particular, on how to stop procrastinating was especially pertinent for me, and now I’m itching to finish the book that has been floating around in my head for the last 6 or 7 months!

 

Nina Harrington
Nina Harrington

Then all too soon it was time to say ‘goodbye’ to old and new friends, with whispered promises to catch up once more at RNAConf14 in Telford.

The House on the Shore now available in paperback

My second romantic suspense novel set in the Highlands of Scotland (which has been out of print for some time) is now available from Amazon.

The House on the Shore

 

When Anna MacDonald leaves Edinburgh to find peace in the Scottish Highlands, she gets a twofold surprise:  a lost sailor teaches her to love again…while a mysterious stranger has plans to kill her.

Passed over for promotion by her boss, Anna walks off the job in anger. But being reactionary has its price.  Unable to afford the rent on her fashionable Edinburgh apartment, she retreats to the only place she has ever felt safe – her grandmother’s croft on the edge of remote Loch Hourn in the Scottish Highlands. With two border collies for company, she sets out to achieve her lifelong dream: to write the novel that has burned within her heart for years.

Meanwhile, renowned American artist, Luke Tallantyre, has sailed across the Atlantic to escape an artistic dry spell. Engine trouble lands him in Loch Hourn, and on Anna’s doorstep, but the reception he receives is less than welcoming – in fact it’s downright frosty.

When an unseen assassin comes after one of them, they unwillingly embark on an adventure neither ever imagined…including a chance at true love.