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Friday, 23 October 2015

Kindle Countdown for 'NOTES ON A REBELLION'

Kindle Countdown for NOTES ON A REBELLION from 25th October until 30th October '15 ~ 99p here

Dear Blogettes,
Another video from the Valentina Hepburn School of Film and Arts. (Ahem). Again, I don't think Steven Spielberg's got anything to worry about, but I had fun. Last week is a dim and distant memory, well almost, and I've got my mojo back. What a difference a few days can make. I think the answer to writer's block, or whatever is was, is to do something, anything, to further the art-form we're so passionate about, and our careers as writers. There are ups and downs in everything, so, take a deep breath, and keep on keeping on.  
Lots of emails of encouragement, so thank you.

Lots of love,
Valentina xxx

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

I've Hit a Wall

Dear Blogettes,

Yes, I really have. And I can't really work out why. I've written so much; articles, websites, menus, sales descriptions...novels, and this is the first time I've experienced it. I've lost my mojo, my muse, Maybe I'm tired. But I've felt really tired before and I still continued to write. I haven't written a thing for three days. That's a long time for me. Even my daughter says, 'it's not like you, Mum'. And she's right. It isn't.

Lots of love
Valentina xxx

Friday, 25 September 2015

Talking About Rejection

Hi, Blogettes,

It's Thursday again...blogging day. Actually it's Friday but yesterday went crazy I am. It's been a funny week. I can only liken it to being in the X Factor. Now, I have to tell you I have a good singing voice. I was often chosen for the lead in school musicals, was in an adult rock choir, and still sing to my grandkids who don't run away screaming with terror. However. You would not catch me on the X Factor for a whole year's supply of Haribos. And that's a promise.

Having said that, I had my own X Factor moment this week. A literary agent (someone esteemed in the industry) read my (self-published) book.I spent weeks in a state of stupefying excitement, planning how many books would follow my signing, wondering which publisher I would work with, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.


In came (Simon Cowell), who booted me out. It was the nearest, near miss I've ever had. 

I hadn't planned to look for an agent. My plan was self-publishing, and for nearly two years this has been my target. And I've achieved it, and I'm very happy. But y'know, when you get a chance at something you have to take it. So I took it. And I got to judges houses. And he said some wonderful things about my writing. And we parted friends.

Rejection is a huge part of a writer's life. If we're to succeed in finding an agent and a publisher, we must be tenacious at a time when we feel like giving up. Don't. Keep doing the thing that gives you so much pleasure, that gives your life meaning and allows you to escape from the things going on around you. If you're a writer you will never stop writing, because inventing characters and building their lives is in your blood.

And as a card carrying, t-shirt wearing, been there done that self-publisher, will I look for my soul-mate agent again? You betcha!

Lots of love
Valentina xxx

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Prettily Tied Up Endings…and Writing with Honesty

Dear Blogettes,

It's been a little while since I blogged. I always have my blog in the back of my mind, particularly if I haven't posted. My aim was to post once a week, on Thursday, but it seems there's always something more pressing, like writing my new manuscript, posting on social media and writing a synopsis for 'MEADOW'S END' before finishing the manuscript. This is a first for me.

Usually, I go where the story takes me. When writing A DISH OF STONES, I had a clear picture in my head, like a complete capsule of events unfolding just behind my eyes. I saw Kate and Emma, watched them as they struggled to live through circumstances that would make most of us crumble. I knew there must be some kind of happy ending for them. I wanted, maybe needed a happy ending for them. I also knew it wouldn't be a happy, happy ending, because I wanted the story to have an edge of realism. Nothing really ends happy's more a case of accepting that things don't always go to plan, to be grateful for the sliver of happiness we're offered, one that lifts our spirits and encourages us to continue. Surely, this is real life.

I'm addicted to television drama. The BBC in the UK do this very well, but there's one thing that frustrates me more than anything when I'm viewing. Some of the dramas are stretched out over two or three weeks, maybe longer, so clearly a chunk of time must be invested. My pet hate is when the writers gather up all the loose ends and tie them in a very pretty knot, so that A gets exactly what she wants, B learns to accept it, and C goes to prison because he's a very naughty boy. Sometimes, this is all pulled together very quickly in the last episode, and to be honest, it leaves me feeling very short-changed. This is not realism. Yes, I want escapism ( I write fantasy as well as contemporary fiction, and I love to let rip with the characters, real or imagined) but I hope I write with realism in mind when dealing with the problems we face as human beings. A series I watched recently, and one I absolutely fell in love with was a huge disappointment in the final episode, when everything just conveniently fell into place. It felt uncomfortably like the writer had been told there wasn't another series on offer, so hey, I'd better just wind it all up.

Writing about the problems human beings face in life must surely be approached with realism, otherwise we're not writing with honesty. 'In to each life a little rain must fall' is a truism. It is absolutely correct, and describes the human condition perfectly, providing us as writers with a rich vein to explore, which surely has no end.

Do you have a favourite drama that was written with honesty and would like to recommend, or like me have you been frustrated by prettily tied up endings? I'd love to know.

Valentina x

PS. Please let me know if you would like to hijack my blog, or take part in an interview to discuss your writing experiences. I would be honoured to lend my place in the blogisphere to you for a while!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Why we write...and why we should never give up!

When I was at high school in the early 70s, I was the only person in my class who owned a typewriter. When I say typewriter, I mean a big, black metal thingy that took up most of the desk, It had flat black keys lettered in off-white, (They were white once, but years of usage had taken its toll.) a rubber roll thing at the top which facilitated the movement of the paper upwards, a slender gap in which to feed in the paper, and a chrome carriage return. I remember the paint used to chip off of it if I got too vigorous with my typing, and sometimes the keys would get stuck in the middle, sort of tangled up with each other, and it would take me ages to extricate each key. I wrote all my exam course work on it, and I truly believe I got better grades because I could type, and because everything looked neater than my classmates work.

Each piece I typed I treated like a journalistic article. It makes me laugh when I think of it, but the sense of satisfaction it gave me was enormous. In the winter I would sit in my room huddled up with loads of cardigans or with a blanket wrapped around me and feel like I was achieving something. My room was at the very far end of a house that everyone said was like a train. I suppose it was like a train. It was a converted hat factory, and yes, it was very long.

It was in this room at the end of our house that I wrote my first story. And on that very typewriter. Of course, I'd written stories since childhood, but the first one written here was when I discovered how serious I was about becoming a writer. I could think of nothing else. It was all I wanted.

When our local paper had a careers open day, I went with my mum to discuss with a journalist what I needed to do to be taken on; the qualifications I needed, which were the best colleges in which to learn my trade. The conversation was very short. "Girls aren't taken on as journalists," said the careers guy. "Oh, well," said my mum. "You'll have to do something else." That was the beginning and ending of my journalistic career. It's probably the shortest story ever written.

Recently, I read an article about some of the reasons why people feel the need to write. And for some of us, I do believe it is a need. I've heard said that anyone can write a book, that completing a story, or even a full novel is about getting words on the page in the right order. (Isn't that the challenge?) Consequently, it should be within most people's capabilities to write something of fiction, or a factual piece based on someone's knowledge of a subject. Every subject under the sun is written about. Everywhere we look, there are words that someone somewhere has written. Advertisements, street signs, maps, price tags, menus, birthday cards, cards for anything. School reports, invitations, the list is endless. It got me thinking.

Writing is actually one of the most important things about being human. Writing, and reading. What a privilege. How lucky we are that we have the capability not only to read and write, but to create? This is why I feel about writing the way I do, and why when the journalist guy said girls couldn't be journalists I wouldn't give up. Every job I have had since that day required writing and creating. So I feel I proved him wrong. How I would love to send him my books. And it would be to say, 'told you so.' I don't mind admitting it.

Is there something someone said you couldn't or shouldn't do? Did you believe them and let it change your life, or did you do it anyway? I'd love to know.

Love Valentina xxx

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Self-publishing and turning a new page

As a self-published writer, I feel in quite a good place. I'm really happy with what I've achieved so far. My dream has always been, like every writer of course, to see my work in print, stories that are read by others...not just me. To date, I've published three novels, two in the 'Notes from Random Knight' series, NOTES ON A REBELLION  and A GIRL CALLED RANDOM, and A DISH OF STONES.

I've had a little break, decorated our guest room, primarily used by my grandchildren, made the curtains and the blind, shopped for new stuff and feel pleased with the results. It was something physically creative that I really enjoyed. (I was up and down the stepladder like a gazelle. Ahem). I've also baked Brownie Enrolment cakes with my granddaughter, Scarlet. It's her enrolement this week and she's so excited to become a fully fledged Brownie. And a bit nervous too, I think.

And all the time, I was thinking about the next story.

Readers of A DISH OF STONES have asked what happened to Kate, Emma and Christina, and whether Diana and Joe get together. I had planned to write the third story in the Notes from Random Knight and complete the series, currently titled, 'TICK...TOCK, The Time Has Come', in fact I started to write it a few weeks ago, but something tugged at me. I wanted to know what happened to Christina and Emma, and Kate, too. And did Diana and Joe get together? I couldn't stop thinking about them, and I knew I had to explore their story further.

My daughter, Samantha, who is always very vocal about these things, said, "How can you leave them there? You have to tell us what happened to them, Mum." So, that's what I'm doing. It's so good to be back with them, but they are in a very different place from where they were in 1975. CHRISTINA MCGUIRE is set in 1995, when Christina is seventeen. The fresh page can be rather daunting, but once I'd got the idea in my head it just took off. It helps that Christina, Emma and Kate know exactly where they want to go, and that their emotions and feelings are so familiar to me. I'm so looking forward to writing their story. Tell me, how do you feel when you start a new story? Does it scare you, or does it excite you? I'd love to know.

Lots of love Valentina xxx

Thursday, 2 July 2015

NOTES ON A REBELLION ~ Flash Freebie on Amazon

To introduce A GIRL CALLED RANDOM, I'm offering the first story in the 'Notes from Random Knight', series NOTES ON A REBELLION for free here for one day.

Click me!

Past meets future when feisty 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 novel set in 2046 when fears for our world in a changing climate result in 'The Warming'.
'Is this the end of life or just the beginning?' 
Random Knight ~ Pray she succeeds!

NOTES ON A REBELLION is the first story in the NOTES FROM RANDOM KNIGHT series, and sets the scene perfectly for A GIRL CALLED RANDOM. 

'Love is mightier than the sword'.
The Warming has caused turmoil on Earth. Seeking vengeance against Random Knight and the exiles for taking his castle, power obsessed Zacharias Azazel enlists a grotesque accomplice, Chaos the Navigator, and his ghost ship, The Morvydd, to help him commit a crime that will make every parent shudder with fear. As Lord Azazel grooms the Scion of the Knights as his heir and prepares his soldiers to retake Castle Firamodor, Random and her companions run a gauntlet of obstacles in The Compendium, while Chaos forms Les Marionnettes, an army of children stolen from a century past and turned to stone. 
Set against a tale of sibling rivalry, time travel, and an under-sea war of angels between the Sachiel and Marceline, past and future collide to create a heart rending story of loss, discovery...and the most wonderful love of all.

Enjoy, lovely Blogettes.

Lots of love
Valentina xxx

The Blogettes