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Monday, 4 April 2016

Does Lack of Self-Confidence Hold You Back?

Recently, I was very fortunate to be interviewed about my novels and life as a writer by Merrie Housden from One of her questions was, 'What advice would you give to aspiring writers?' This was my answer:-

'I remember when I wrote my first book I was quite scared because it seemed such a mammoth undertaking. I knew what I wanted to write, and the emotions I wanted to convey. My advice would be, 'Have faith in yourself. Believe you can do it and you will. Don't give up, no matter what. Read loads, and remember, every single word you type on the page is one word closer to the end. Good luck'.'

I thought about it afterwards and I realised it's so much easier said than done. One of the things I said was, 'Believe in yourself'. Well, okay, everyone says that to other people. But what does it actually mean? Here is a quote by E.E. Cummings, a poet who wrote, 'I Carry Your Heart with Me'.

'Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.'

We all experience fear of failure, and self doubt. Unfortunately, those two interlopers usually hit when we're about to embark on something new, perhaps something out of our comfort zone. I've been a writer for more years than I care to admit, yet I didn't put my creative work out until quite recently. When I examined the reasons for not doing so, I realised it was fear of ridicule or criticism from agents, publishers and peers. And of course, readers.

In the last two years I've released three novels and two novellas, two written some time ago. I'm currently writing two full-length novels in two series that I've created. Why did I suddenly decide to put my fears behind me and get on with it? I can remember the day I decided to go for it. And I know why I made that decision.

Time doesn't stand still. The older we get, the more swiftly time passes. Or so it seems. We should stretch our abilities, our passions, and our desire to achieve. Stretch them as far as they will go. Why? Because through the centuries, if others hadn't pushed themselves to do more, to discover more, to try more, nothing would have been achieved. 

Don't get me wrong. It's scary sometimes. When I'm about to publish something or send a query to an agent or publisher, I hesitate to tell you how long my finger hovers over the 'send' key. Once, when I was doing just that, my daughter came into my office and without warning pushed my finger down on the key. It was very funny and we laughed...a lot, even though I couldn't believe what she'd done. But she was right. I was hesitating, and hesitation doesn't get anything done.

I'm not an expert on how to cure lack of confidence or self-esteem. I know how it feels to be scared to have the courage of my convictions. There are still times when my resolve shakes because I'm aware my writing abilities are being put on the line. In some ways, putting our work out into the universe is an invitation for others to have negative opinions, but I've had some wonderful feedback from readers, and it's those comments that keep me writing and encourage me to invent new stories and exciting characters. I don't want to look back and regret that I didn't press the 'send' key.

Lots of love 

Monday, 21 March 2016

Christmas at Mistletoe Abbey

I've been amazed by the amount of readers who love Christmas no matter what time of the year it is. I love it too. It's so special, a time for families and fun, and I think this is why so many readers are happy to read a Christmas story in the springtime. Thank you to those who share the Christmas love with me. And if you haven't read it yet, here's a free preview of Christmas at Mistletoe Abbey. Enjoy!

Love Valentina

Monday, 14 March 2016


This one's a bit saucy, so if that's not your thing...leave it alone!

Valentina xxx

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Martin Willoughby ~ Writer, comedian, and friend.

I'm honoured to be hosting a post from my friend and fellow writer, Martin Willoughby. Martin writes in the literary humour genre, think Douglas Adams meets Terry Pratchett. If this is your favourite genre, may I suggest you read Tempers Fugit. I know you'll love it. Here is my Amazon review.

'This extremely imaginitive novel is loaded with humour and unique characters. Tempers Fugit is the perfect and very clever title of a tale in the space comedy genre, which sits comfortably beside Red Dwarf, and the unique genre Terry Pratchett made so popular. I particularly loved Mae, the teenager developed over a matter of months and I'm sure I've felt like Carla, whose temper certainly flies. If you love Red Dwarf, robots, time travel and an inventive plot, you'll love Tempers Fugit, a novel full of jokes, comedic asides and unique characters. Martin Willoughby's experience as a comedian is shown to great and very enjoyable effect here. The perfect introduction to the Radford family, and the next in the series, Appollo the Thirteenth!'

I'd also like to thank Martin for his support with my own writing. Martin has read virtually everything I've written. I greatly value his opinion as a writer. So, Martin, it's over to you...

You Never Know
By Martin Willoughby

I run a couple of pages on Facebook, one of which is for a drama group. It’s been going for a couple of years now and I write the occasional post advertising our plays and fund-raisers. Sometimes I put up a relevant humourous picture. One of these pictures has recently gone viral.

Now, if you are involved in a drama group that picture will raise a smile or seven, and I posted it several months ago with that intention. For some reason, in late December 2015, it was picked up by a random individual and within two weeks had reached nearly 150,000 people. The latest count is over 200,000. Of those people, over 70 became followers of the drama group’s Facebook page, trebling the number.

Why did this happen? No idea.

However, I do know the mechanism at play. It’s been seen before in a number of places and at a number of times in the past. All it takes for things like this to leap from obscurity is one or two well connected and influential people who like what they see, mention it to others then you have a cascade of interest from elsewhere.

It’s not something you can manipulate either. If the person doesn’t like it, you can’t make them.
Past examples include Hush Puppies which, after a severe dip in popularity suddenly took off in the cooler parts of New York after some influential club goers started wearing them. Think of Burberry coats in the 90s and 00s after being worn by some celebrities. The same applies to books promoted by Richard and Judy and anything that Delia Smith touches.

What’s this got to do with writing or anything else you’re involved with? Unless you know the right people, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get noticed, but as the example of the drama group picture shows, it can happen randomly and at any time. You just have to keep going.
In short: never give up.

Martin is a founder member of the Starfish Publishing Co-op ( and an author in his own right who writes a blog full of humour and randomness (

My thanks to Martin for an insightful piece of writing, and for the sense of fun he brings to the writing life.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016


Hi, Blogettes,
For an introduction to Random Knight's changing world after The Warming, click below.  Here's the blurb...
'Past meets future when seventeen-year-old Random Knight takes control of the timing of her own death. After joining a renegade bunch of raiders, including her soul mate, Ethan Smith, in an attack on Castle Firamodor, Random must make a judgement that throws her into the path of a brutal and terrifying adversary. Notes on a Rebellion is a powerful fantasy novel set in 2046 when fears for our world in a changing climate result in 'The Warming.'


Love Valentina

Many thanks to Guy Vestal for this wonderful review...

'I started this a long time ago, but everything in the world that could go wrong, did. But I finally got it back in my hands, and I'm glad I did! The world and character building are far above average, which is actually rare for authors coming out. I was really surprised at the change of landscape, especially the temperature. A fantasy dystopia of a world being ravagede by winged beasts, and a small group of humans that have realized they're already dead, so what do they have to lose in fighting back? The worst possible scenario an enemy, or in this case, enemies, can face. An opponent whose every forward moving step is a victory. The drastic changes in the weather, vegetation, texture, animals and beings, elevations, and the like make this an easier read, when you start to understand the world they are living in.
The relationship between the protagonist and her dog is actually realistic. I hate the dog/master scenario that would never emulate you and your pet in real life, but this one actually makes you glad to see her dog is just like yours.
The other "warriors", (a title inwardly deserved, not via sword and brawn) on the journey are who I would want, if I was on the same quest. It is so cliche to have the same elite fighter force of ranging steroid and max power heroes, that folks never realize maybe the courage and genius of the guy that might be nothing more than an average guy bagging your groceries, was what was really needed.
The protagonist has a personal agenda of answers she is searching for, as is expected with all stories. The difference here, is that the so-called "Heroine" is just an ordinary girl with a slingshot, someone easily underestimated, until that indifference towards her turns out to be her greatest strength.
Everyone is a liability in their own way on this adventure, but everyone has a special strength that makes up for the liability of another, making this group of everyday nobodies as relatable as being you and your neighbors down the street.
The book is excellent in quality. Dark readable type, wonderful size. Quality pages. I never even cared about the editing because there were no real errors anywhere, and if there were, I had no interest in them because of the readability of the story. The cover is what sold me before reading, and when the book arrived it looked even better in person. I paid $11.65 at Amazon, and after receiving it I would have paid as much as $12.95 for it. It would be worth at least another dollar quality wise.'

Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Writing Life - Marketing Your Book

Hi Blogettes,

The promotion I organised on Amazon for A GIRL CALLED RANDOM was a great success. I'm thrilled with the number of people who downloaded the ebook, and tells me that the Notes from Random Knight series is as exciting to read as it is to write. My Twitter followers increased as did my Facebook page likes.

Marketing is hard. First we have the idea for the book, then the planning, then the writing, editing, editing, get the picture.

The cover must attract readers, the blurb must be enticing...we writers need to wear a lot of hats. But I love it. It's a challenge, one that I don't want to give up because it's now a massive part of my life. And we have to be totally committed to the cause, and that means marketing.

I'm always on the look-out for new and original ways to market my books. I've just created a new website where you can leave your email address for news and competitions, a place that gives a flavour of what to expect when being absorbed by the Notes from Random Knight series. Also I have my blog (hello), Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. I've had some great reviews from lovely people and anticipate getting lots more. Reviews are important, but they are difficult to come by. And we have to find a way to promote our books to keep them in the public eye without getting on people's nerves.'s not easy.

I guess the way to a reader's heart is a good book, and I've worked very hard to achieve it. It's the most important thing to me. I guess statistics are important, financial gain is a thought, but for me the best thing is for my readers to fall in love; with the characters, the story, and the sense of time and place. I want them to connect with Random, Ethan, Silent Red, Christina, Jemima-Jim, Dan, Thomas and Gabriel. To me, they're friends, people I want to spend time with again and again.

At the moment I'm writing the third in the series, and loving every minute. It isn't work, it's a joy because it means I'm in their world again. How will I leave them behind when its completed? Will I be able to move on? I don't know. I just don't know.

Lots of love

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

A GIRL CALLED RANDOM ~ Competition and Freebie

A GIRL CALLED RANDOM is the second installment in The Notes from Random Knight Series, and a very different story to the first, NOTES ON A REBELLION.
In the beginning, Random Knight and her soul mate, Ethan Smith are imprisoned in a government shelter after being arrested at a protest march. NOTES ON A REBELLION documents the struggle experienced by Random and a renegade bunch of raiders as they try to save their community from starvation after 'The Warming.'

A GIRL CALLED RANDOM sees Random as the leader of the exiles at Castle Firamodor, and more importantly, a mother. Her family are threatened by an old adversary, and the continuing story takes her and her friends on a dangerous journey into a world completely alien to them. Along the way they meet other adversaries, beings who wish to prevent them achieving the quest that is so important to them; a horror no parent would want to experience. In A GIRL CALLED RANDOM Random matures into a woman and make decisions none of us would want to make.

The third book in the series is a steam-punk time-travel odyssey into 1888 London. There is such a rich vein of history and literary classics of this time.
 If you were a character in the next Notes from Random Knight novel, who would you like to be. Would you like to be a sympathetic character or a villain of the time? What would your name be? And how would you help or hinder Random and Ethan in their quest to rid the world of an horrific adversary. Answer here, or email me on Two winners (anywhere in the world) will receive paperback copies for suggesting the most interesting and compelling characters.

By the way, A GIRL CALLED RANDOM is free on Amazon Kindle from Friday 8th January through to Sunday 10th January,

Lots of love

The Blogettes