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…

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

 

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.

Ring of Lies now available in Print

Now available from Amazon.

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Set in the steamy heat of the Florida Gulf Coast, Ring of Lies is the story of one woman’s struggle to find the truth surrounding her marriage and her husband’s true identity.

When English accountant Daniel Elliott dies in a car accident one rainy night, his widow, Grace, is overcome with grief…and panic.  Daniel was controlling and their marriage loveless, but he always took care of the sheltered Grace.

Or so she thought.

She soon discovers Daniel kept secrets:  an alias, mob ties, a list of numbers, a mysterious beach house in Florida….and a girlfriend who looks like Grace.

Swallowing her fear, she flies to Miami to claim the house Daniel left her.  But the price of her curiosity is peril.  Underworld figures stalk her.  The other woman has left a damning trail of evidence pointing her way.  And handsome, troubled FBI agent Jack West has crossed precarious paths with Grace before.  He could be her savior or her damnation.  All she knows for certain is that she longs to be in his arms.

With little to go on and danger at every turn, Grace must depend on Jack to help her navigate the criminal world of south Florida, and find the truth behind the Ring of Lies.

 

“Victoria Howard pens a suspenseful tale full of intrigue.”

– The Romance Studio

“Filled with danger, corruption, and a myriad of pitfalls for our hero and heroine to navigate through, and it is really a thrill ride to the very end.”

Romance at Heart Magazine.

“A story about a heroine full of guts and a hero with a need for understanding.”

Wewriteromance.com

 

 

New Year, New Goals

I’ve been a very bad blogger of late… but I’ve had my reasons, which I wont bore you with, but suffice to say they’ve involved a few trips to the Accident and Emergency Department at our local hospital.

However, now that matters are more or less under control, I’m once again working on my manuscript and determined to finish it before summer is out.

One of the questions I’m frequently asked when giving talks, is where do I get my ideas?  Are they generated by things I read in the newspaper or hear on TV?  Is it a snippet of conversation overheard in a coffee shop that creates that spark and the idea for a novel?

Actually, it’s none of the above!  With me, it’s places.  My first novel, Three Weeks Last Spring is set on the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest.

 

The small, picturesque town of Friday Harbor, is unspoilt, and yet lies on a busy shipping route. The Islands are a paradise for wildlife as whales, sea otters and bald eagles .  I realised that it would take very little to upset the ecology of the islands and thus the idea for Three Weeks Last Spring was born.

 

The idea second novel, The House on the Shore, came from my experiences of managing a small company involved in the offshore oil and gas industry and from working as an administrator on an estate.  I’d also spent twenty years living on a croft in the North East of Scotland and was familiar with the area around Loch Hourn, the setting for the novel.

 

While sat on the beach on Gasparilla Island, on Florida’s Gulf coast, admiring the stunning beach houses, I started to think about how it would feel to own one.  (Note the aspiration, readers!) I played around with the idea for a couple of hours while I thought about how much I was missing the winter weather back home in England (not one little bi, in case you were wondering!), until I had the rough outline of a plot.  Ring of Lies, was published eighteen months later and tells the story of Grace Elliott’s struggle to navigate her way through the criminal world of South Florida.

 

All of which, brings me to my the book I’m currently working on.  It has a title, but I’m not going to share it at the moment.  However, I will tell you that it is set in the Peak District, in Derbyshire, and, as before, it was a place that gave me the idea.  See if you can recognise the setting from the photograph.

 

 

A fun filled day!

As some of you may know, Milly Johnson and I held a crash course in novel writing on the 17th June. I must admit that, for a short time at least, I had a few sleepless nights about picking a date that coincided with Father’s day here in the UK.  Fortunately, I need not have worried at 50 people turned up to our event.  The feedback we have received has been very positive, but don’t take my word for it.  Here is a copy of an article that appeared in the local press.

 

 

 

2nd Annual Authors Book Fair, Deltona, Florida


Visit the Vanilla Heart Publishing Author Table and meet fellow author, Melinda Clayton. Buy books, and pick up a bookmark and other goodies from Melinda and my fellow authors,

S R Claridge
Collin Kelley
Chelle Cordero
Marilyn Celeste Morris
Smoky Zeidel
Malcolm Campbell
Victoria Howard
Charmaine Gordon
Robert Hays
Anne K Albert
L E Harvey

Writers conferences – how to get the best literary nourishment.

In July I was fortunate to attend the Romantic Novelists’ annual conference in Caerleon, South Wales. This is the first genre specific conference I’ve attended, and while I’m no expert on the conference scene, I was keen to mingle with my fellow romantic suspense authors, listen to industry professionals and agents.
My conference pack offered a cornucopia of workshops, agent appointments, and industry panels, and I was hard pressed to choose which suited my needs best. Was my time best spent listening to a published author share techniques for developing your story hook? Or would it be better listening to a lecture on time management? All of which made me think what advice I would give to a first-time conference attendee.

Often when you sign up for a writers conference, which let’s face it, aren’t exactly inexpensive, few details, other than the venue and date, are available. The name of the keynote speaker and details of the workshops and agent appointments are sent with the conference pack after you have paid the fee. Personally, I find this a little disconcerting. After all, you wouldn’t order dinner in a restaurant without first looking at the menu or go to the movies without knowing what was showing.

So, when attending a writing conference whether genre specific or not, you need to focus carefully on what’s available. If you have any doubts on whether the conference will be suitable for your style of writing and genre, contact the organiser before you pay the fee. He or she should be able to give you some more details, even if the some of the speakers are yet to give details of their workshops. Select the sessions that fit your needs. For example, if you’re struggling with the plot of your novel, your time is best spent in a session dealing with the technique rather than pitching the idea for your as yet unwritten novel. Know the content of each session before you arrive at the conference venue.

Conferences, especially those in the USA, are filled with editors, agents, publishers and booksellers. Take time to talk to them, although I don’t recommend accosting an agent in a lift and pitching your book. But do listen to what they say. These are industry professionals. They know how the market works and what is selling and what is not. Ask any well thought-out question and note down the answer. Many presenters offer hand-outs, a list of key points from their session.

Take time to meet your peers and identify a potential mentor/critique partner. He or she can give you feedback on your writing and help you when your plot stalls. A good mentor will not write your book for you, but should give you constructive criticism.

Don’t be afraid to approach published authors and ask them how they did it and where they get their inspiration. Many are willing to share such information when asked politely, but again, pick your moment with care. No one wants to be cornered in the ladies room!
Avoid comparisons. Comparing your writing progress with that of other delegates serves no useful purpose and will only depress you. Remember, every published author was once like you, only dreaming of seeing their writing in print. And besides, just because someone boasts about their completed a manuscript there is no guarantee that it will be accepted for publication.

Finally, enjoy yourself. Most conferences present opportunities to socialize and make friends.

New Editions and Reviews

May was a busy month, not only have I been researching my next book, but I have also been revising two of my novels. The House on the Shore, and Three Weeks Last Spring, have been revised for the Kindle, with Three weeks Last Spring being given a new cover. A revised Print edition will be available later in the year.

May also brought another review for Ring of Lies, this time from Ghostwriter reviews This is what they had to say:

Grace Elliott, a humbled woman and wife is devastated when her husband Daniel is killed in a terrible car accident. What she believed to be an honest and good marriage, despite some issues, turns out to be a lie with major issues that puts her life in danger and her heart in the comfort of a troubled FBI agent.

Ring of Lies lives up to its title. I could relate to Grace in many ways about deception and abuse, however, my love was for Jack. At one point in the story, I was overwhelmed with the many characters introduced, but kept my focus on Jack, Grace, Catherine, and the details that unfolded. Overall, it was a very good and interesting read.

Reviewer: Wanda

Genre: Romantic Suspense