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.

 

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

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.

 

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.

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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.

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

 

July Update

July was a busy month; hence the lateness of this update.

Over the weekend of 11-13 July, two hundred and fifty novelists gathered in glorious sunshine for the annual Romantic Novelists’ Association conference at Harper Adams University. Set in the heart of the Shropshire, Harper Adams is an agricultural college complete with cows, pigs and sheep, and yes, all the associated farmyard aromas.

Harper Adams University

 

As usual, the conference content was superb, with a mixture of workshops and talks on traditional and self-publishing, as well as technique. My main problem was choosing what to attend. As workshops run concurrently, I rushed from one to next, only pausing for a quick cup of tea and chat with a friend.

 

Sue Moorcroft leading one of the panels.

The highlight of the weekend was the gala dinner on the Saturday evening, during which Janice Preston was presented with the Elizabeth Goudge Prize for the best short story written by a conference attendee.

Rosemary Gemmell at the Gala Dinner
Rosemary Gemmell at the Gala Dinner

The following weekend, I took part in the Penistone Literary Festival, along with my friend and fellow novelist, Milly Johnson. Arriving early, I had the opportunity to listen to Michael Fowler talk about his crime novels and life as a former police officer.

Michael Fowler
Michael Fowler

 

Milly Johnson and me comparing notes at Penistone Literary Festival
Milly Johnson and me comparing notes at Penistone Literary Festival

As for the rest of the month – I’m pleased to say that the audio book version of The House on the Shore is underway and will be available to download from Audible, Amazon and iTunes later this year!

I’m also involved in an interesting project with fellow American author, Brenda Hill, but more of that later.

In the meantime, it’s back to working on the next book. Are you curious what it’s all about…?  Well here’s a small clue…

Castle Stalker courtesy of Erin Garrett
Castle Stalker, photograph courtesy of Erin Garrett

 

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!

 

 

Audiobook Version of Ring of Lies Released

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

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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.