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.

 

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.

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

 

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.

 

 

 

February Update

A belated Happy New Year!

2014 kicked off with a large portion of southern England underwater. While South Yorkshire has been battered intermittently by gale force winds, I’ve been beavering away in my office, and left wondering what happened to January.

My writing time has been divided between working on my current manuscript, speaking engagements, and dipping my toes into the mysterious world of forensic science.

I’ve long harboured the desire to write a crime novel, and when the opportunity to learn something about forensic science with FutureLearn arose, I grabbed it with both hands. FutureLearn is an online study program set up with the cooperation of educators from top UK and international universities.  The courses it offers are free and cover a wide range of topics, and are designed to appeal to a broad range of learners.  There’s even one on writing fiction. (Advertisement over!)

While I have a good grasp of human biology, its diseases and their aetiology, (I was a business coordinator in the NHS, after all), chemistry and physics leave me cold. That said I am fascinated by the world of forensic science and insist on watching every factual TV programme on the subject.

Over the past five weeks, I have learned about fingermarks, footmarks, (and just so there is no confusion, fingerprints and footprints are what we possess and ‘marks’ are what we leave behind on a surface). The course has also covered DNA, blood spatter patterns, toolmarks, and drugs.

As Edmund Locard, who not only formulated the basic principle of forensic science, and was known as the ‘Sherlock Holmes of France’ once said:

‘Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as a silent witness against him.’

 Very useful for reminding the family that you will find out who removed the last slice of bread from the breadbin and who failed to place the butter back on the shelf in the fridge!

My other half, Stephen, bless him, is looking more and more worried by the day, by my choice of bedtime reading – The Crime Writer’s handbook, 65 Ways to kill your victim…in print, and with the subject matter of my next course – Forensic Science and Crime!

So while Stephen is asking about that mysterious substance I added to the casserole (it was pepper, honestly!) the time has come for me to get my head down and do more writing.

Until next time…

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.