Exciting News …

My 2018 diary is already filling up with various talks, and there are two very special events I would like to share with you.  Firstly, I am thrilled to announce that I have been invited to take part in Hull University’s 3 day English Literature Festival organised by The National Collaborative Outreach Programme. The Festival starts on the 6th February 2018 and is aimed at raising aspirations of students aged 13-18 across the Humber region by increasing their knowledge of careers in writing, publishing, illustrating, marketing, public speaking and much more.  A selection of panels and workshops are planned and full details will be available shortly on the website: www.force-higher.co.uk and on the Twitter feed @Force_HE  #ELFHumber2018.

Secondly, Bradford UK Indie Literature Festival is returning for a third year on the 28th July, and is once again being held in the fabulous Kala Sangam in the centre of the city.  This is a free event, with 40 authors in attendance, so there is sure to be a book to suit all tastes.  Details on where to obtain a ticket are on the UKindieLitFest website.

As it is the holiday season, I have reduced the price of the Kindle version of my romantic suspense novel, The House on the Shore, until 3rd January 2018.  You can download a copy from Amazon for only 99p/99c instead of the usual price of £2.99/$2.99.

The audiobook versions of The House on the Shore and Ring of Lies are garnering good reviews.  If you have never listened to an audiobook and would like to do so, I have a six vouchers available for a free download from Audible.co.uk, and Audible.com on a first come, first served basis. If you would like one, just send me an email via the contact form on my website stating which recording you would prefer.

 

 

2017 is nearly over, so I would like to thank everyone who has attended an event or purchased a book, a very Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.  I hope to see you again in 2018.

 

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!

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.

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.

 

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

 

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 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.

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.