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.

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 House on the Shore Audio book released.

I am a little bit late announcing this, however, I am delighted to say that my novel, The House on the Shore has now been released as an audio book.  Narrated by the wonderful and very talented Ruth Urquhart, it is  available from Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

 

The House on the Shore audio book cover
The House on the Shore audio book cover

 

Terror haunts a Scottish glen:

Heartbroken Anna MacDonald leaves Edinburgh to find peace at the edge of a Scottish loch. Safely ensconced in her late grandmother’s cottage, she can finally heal her heart and write the novel that has burned inside her for years.

Her peace is short-lived. When debonair artist Luke Tallantyre’s yacht gets stranded in the loch, he seeks help at the nearest residence – Anna’s croft. She finds him annoying. He instantly dislikes the stunning but cranky hermit.

But there’s indisputable evidence that a hit man is on the prowl in the village. Is he after Anna? And what is Luke keeping from her that could deepen the danger? Against their wills, they join forces and embark on an adventure neither ever imagined…including a chance at true love.

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.

 

 

 

Winter Newsletter….

First of all, a big, big thank you to everyone who’s purchased or downloaded one of my books, and who left lovely comments and reviews.  It really does make a HUGE difference.  Its also been nice to meet some of my readers at events. You’re a lovely bunch, and always so welcoming.

Those of you who follow this page will know that I met fellow members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association at the annual conference held at The Edge, part of the University  Sheffield. It is always interesting to meet fellow authors and chat about our current work-in-progress and industry news.

Contest!

I’m thrilled to announce the Audiobook version of Ring of Lies is complete and will be available from Amazon and Audible in time for Christmas. Produced by Dave Giorgio and narrated by Michelle Ford, it sounds fantastic.  I’ll be interviewing Michelle and Dave on my blog shortly.
To celebrate the release, I’m offering one lucky subscriber the chance to win a Kobo Mini ereader (worth £59.00)! All you need do to be in with a chance to win, is sign up to my newsletter via mywebsite or blog via the link above.  Two runners up will receive an autographed copy of Ring of Lies.

The winner will be drawn on the 20th December.

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I’m also working on another novel! The title is a secret, so I don’t wish to give too many details away at this stage, but I can tell you it is set in Scotland.

On Sunday 23rd November, I dusted  off my high(er) heels, put on my glad-rags, and headed for the new Leeds Arena for the Andrea Bocelli concert.   What can I say, other than his live performance is 1000 times better than listening to one of his CDs.  I have to give my lovely other half a huge pat on the back for this Valentine’s Day treat which he purchased for me back in January!  Sadly, no photography was allowed during the performance, but I did manage to take a a picture of the pre-performance screen.

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And Finally,
Are you stuck for that last minute Christmas gift idea?  Why not give someone an autographed copy of one of my books as a present? I’ll even gift wrap it for you.  £10 including postage/packaging and festive wrapping.  Email me for details.
The House on the Shore
Three Weeks Last Spring

If you purchased any of the above as an ebook, it’s still possible to have your copy autographed.  Please visit Authorgraph.com

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,

Victoria