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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Cover Release for A GIRL CALLED RANDOM...and a fun interview!


A GIRL CALLED RANDOM ~ 
to be released December 2014

Hi, everyone.  Here is the cover for A GIRL CALLED RANDOM, the second in the Notes from Random Knight series.  I'm so excited about it because it takes Random and her friends into a whole new realm of adventure, love, bravery and yes...evil!  
Pre-order NOW!
NOTES ON A REBELLION, the first in the series is available from Amazon

And a fun interview with Doug Schwartz from Checkered Scissors

Q1 ~ What is your name? ~ My pseudonymn is Valentina Hepburn.  I chose this name because my mum looked like Audrey Hepburn and I wanted something which meant 'love', so I thought of Valentine's Day, hence Valentina.  Valentina's me a few years ago.

Q2 ~ When did you decide to be a writer? ~ I wrote my first book when I was seven, called Mischa and The Eskimo.  My lovely mum sewed it into a book and I was astonished when it wasn't picked up by a publisher!  Anyway fast forward to now (a few years down the line) and I'm still writing.  I'm not sure a person can decide to be a writer.  I think we write because we have a passion.

Q3 ~ What did you most recently publish? ~ I've just released NOTES ON A REBELLION, a fantasy/dystopian/romance, the first in the Notes from Random Knight Series.  The second in the series, A GIRL CALLED RANDOM, is due to be released in December.  I've also recently released A DISH OF STONES, a family saga already released as an ebook on Kindle.

Q4 ~ What is your next project? ~ My next project is a stand alone novel called SCARRED, in the thriller genre.

Q5 ~ Which paths have you taken: traditional publishing, self-publishing, or both? ~ I decided to  self-publish a few months ago.  To date the process has been very enjoyable and a massive learning curve.  I've connected with some wonderful people and looking forward to releasing more novels.

Q6 ~ Why should people consider reading your work? ~ I hope my novels have real depth of emotion and connect with readers who like to escape into a story.  I've worked hard on world-building and to ensure my characters art believable.  I hope anyone who reads NOTES ON A REBELLION, and 
A DISH OF STONES, will love the characters and their unfolding story and will want to follow them through the series.

Q7 ~ How do you describe your writing style? ~ In the Notes from Random Knight Series, I write in a confiding, caring, sometimes feisty style.  Her observations about her fellow raiders and their experiences in the rebellion of 2046 reflect her personality; the fact she misses her mum, dad and brother, her love for her dog, Ordinary, and her unfolding love for Ethan Smith who is also part of the raiding party.  She also cares deeply about the battle in front of her and the cause she's fighting for.

Q8 ~ Where and when do you like to write? ~ I write every day, regardless of where I am.  I write a lot at home, but where ever I am, I have either my laptop or a notebook and pen with me.  I've learnt the hard way to always have something to write with and on!

Q9 ~ At what time, day or night do you feel the most creative?  For me the best time to write is first thing in the morning, but I'll write at any time.  Often I'll get ideas at night and I can't wait to get them down, so at night is good too.

Q10 ~ Which authors inspire you the most, and how? ~ I love Adriana Trigiani, Kate Mosse, Lesley Downer, Arthur Golden, Molly Cochran, to name a few of my favourite authors.  Of course I love the classics,  That's a given.

Q11 ~ How do you overcome the writer's demons: Procrastination and Self-Doubt? ~ I used to suffer greatly from these two demons, but maturity (?) has taught me to push them away and just go for it.  Occasionally they rear their ugly heads, but I keep writing anyway.

Q12 ~ What aspect of your writing is strongest, and what needs the most improvement? ~ I think my character development and world-building are my strongest writing skills.  I'll leave it to others to decide the answer to the second question.

Q13 ~ What was the best part of the worst thing you've written? ~ That the manuscript is buried under the patio never to be released on to an unsuspecting world!

Q14 ~ What advice do you have for others who want to be writers? ~ Write, write and then...write.

Q15 ~ What form of marketing works best for promoting your work? ~ I'm trying everything, but at the moment my favourite is Goodreads.  I think great reviews and word-of-mouth has to be best.

Q16 ~ If life is a bowl of cherries, what does life as a bowl of cherries look like? ~ Happy, healthy and safe family, great book reviews and sales, and a study looking out of French windows onto a beautiful garden.

Q17 ~ Who is your rock, the one who encourages you the most and why? ~ My husband has always believed in me, as have my daughters.  My seven-year-old granddaughter, Scarlet is very proud to be my personal assistant.  They have never once discouraged me or disrespected my dream.

Q18 ~ What do you do apart from writing? ~ I help my husband run our countryside management business.  I like to walk somewhere lovely every weekend, and I try to get to London, a few miles away and where I was born, as often as possible.  I seem to do lots of baking, usually with my grandchildren.  I also like to paint in watercolour.

Q19 ~ Where can people find more about you and your work? ~ I have a website www.valentinahepburn.com, I'm on Twitter and Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon. Also if readers want to contact me, they can send emails to valentina@valentinahepburn.com

Q20 ~ What one question should this interviewer have asked and how would you answer it? ~ 
Q~ Will you ever stop writing?
A~ Never!

Many thanks to Doug Schwartz for this interview

Love
Valentina xx

Sunday, 7 September 2014

This is...ETHAN SMITH from Notes on a Rebellion

Yeah, it was s'posed to be an adventure going to the UK after my dad died in 2044. I was on leave from my soccer club, The New York Red Bulls. I hadn't planned on it turning out the way it did.  Sure, I knew about The Warming.  You'd have to be living under a rock not to know about it.  The whole world was affected.  Everything went...crazy!  Storms, tsunami, hurricanes, you name it. Food stocks were at a minimum and everything just kind of went out of control. Was I scared?  Guys aren't supposed to admit it are they?  But, hell, yeah. And I'm even more scared now.

Living in the prison shelter is something else. Why the hell I'm in here I don't know.  We were just shoved into trucks and taken to the countryside where we were locked in the compound. I know I didn't do anything wrong.  All I did was walk peacefully through the centre of London like everyone else on the march.  I also know that it was never meant to be violent.  The Government soldiers made that happen.  And now they're in control.  The Thayne have their own army and they're leaving us to starve to death.  We're gonna be wasted if they have their way.

What do I miss?  I miss my dad.  I miss my friends...soccer.  The beach. Running water, decent johns, all that kind of stuff. Y'know...it's hard to name everything I miss because this life I have now is nothing like the one I had before, so I guess I miss my life!

And then there's Random.  Boy, she's one feisty chick.  But...she's kinda got to me.  I don't know what it is about her, I just know she's special.  Is she the one?  Well, I never expected to meet my forever-girl in a crap prison shelter, but...yeah, she's the one!  That's another things guys aren't supposed to admit, but everyone knows how I feel about her.  I love her.  And I want to be with her whatever happens during the raid on Castle Firamodor.  She's brave and opinionated and tells it like it is.  And she's beautiful and honest and caring. Random's my girl.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Molly Cochran's REVELS...The Review



REVELS ~ Molly Cochran's latest novella can be pre-ordered from Amazon here***

As promised, the review of New York Times Bestselling Author, Molly Cochran's new release, REVELS, a novella before the long-awaited final adventure, SEDUCTION, to be released December 2014.
REVELS continues the intriguing story of Katy Ainsworth and her friends.



When Katy Ainsworth's paranormally-gifted friends decide to have their own Halloween celebration of a night of partying around a camp fire, Katy is less than enthusiastic. Their plan is to escape the usual rituals of the town's witches, of dinner and a costume party at Hattie's restaurant, and anticipate having the time of their lives on their own.

As the Town Hall strikes six, Katy and her friends arrive at the camping ground to discover they're to have a chaperone...Miss P, a rare magical being known as a djinn. Waiting for her to arrive at the campsite, they're greeted by the dulcet tones of the dreaded Livia Fowler, Becca's mum, who has replaced Miss P after she sprains her ankle.  The school-friends think they're in for a very boring night. 

They couldn't be more wrong!

I've read all of Molly's Legacy Series so far, and I haven't been disappointed.  The latest, REVELS, is about what Katy and her friends do best, and what we all love them for; their endearing personalities and their paranormal gifts.  The friends have to face more than the usual teenage angst of love and exams in Molly's popular Legacy Series. In this break-out novella their loyalty to each other is paramount when they're called on to fight off more than a few mosquitoes.  REVELS is the perfect bridge to the long-awaited SEDUCTION, to be released in December when the complete Legacy Series will be available for readers of all ages.  Perfect!




Excerpt from REVELS

            I was sent off to gather worms. When I got back to the campsite, Lolille was making a ritual circle about twenty feet across out of twigs and dried grass.

            “Get in here!” she chided. “No pokin’!” She tossed one of my worms at Verity, who screamed.

            “That one’s high strung,” Lolille said to Cheswick with a nod. “Now gather round, y’all. Let me show you how we do things back home in Crawfish Gully.”

            She arranged all the gruesome things we’d gathered into the center of the circle and began to dance around them, hopping up and down and chanting in some language that seemed a little like French, although I couldn’t make out its meaning.


                                                An’ a gris-gris comin

                                                Better watch les petits

                                                Les mortes sont venues

                                                Ici avec nous


            Peter and I looked at each other. Verity was trembling. Becca had blanked out.

            “Weirdest camping trip ever,” Cheswick said.

            At that moment the circle around us burst into flames. Verity’s shaking hands flew to her face. Then Lolille fell into a swoon as the things around her—the worms and toads and moldy bark and all the other dirty things she’d made us fetch—wriggled and rose up around her like dream trees. They grew tendrils and wound among us, changing form, melting, growing, taking on color, taking on life, until we were faced with . . . people.

            They’d all turned into people.

            Some were young, no older than we were, and might have come straight from Ainsworth School, blinking in the moonlight and looking bewildered. There was a pale, beautiful girl with dark hair hanging down to her waist, who could have been on the cover of a fashion magazine, a lanky boy as tall as Peter, a gap-toothed Georgia Mae Jagger look-alike with big pink lips and bleached hair, a pair of twins with sly eyes like foxes, a short, stubby guy with a buzz cut and pimples . . .

            And him. Him, perfectly, heartbreakingly gorgeous. A Chris Hemsworth clone, aged seventeen. Blond hair a little too long, cheeks that blushed. Eyes like blue ice, sparking in the firelight. He was wearing a red military jacket with gold epaulets. And he was looking at me.

            “Katy.”

            “Huh?” I’d been willing my heart to stop pounding. Peter was pinching my arm. “Ow.”

            “This is some kind of spell,” he said.

            Duh. “Well, yeah.”

            “Are they all dead, or what?”

            “I don’t . . .” I began, but then the pretty brunette floated up off the ground and hovered above our heads. “Well, maybe.”
MORE ABOUT MOLLY


Molly Cochran, author of the teen paranormal romances LEGACY and POISON, has written 26 published novels and four nonfiction books under her own name and various pseudonyms. Her books include New York Times bestselling novels GRANDMASTER and THE FOREVER KING, coauthored with Warren Murphy, and the nonfiction DRESSING THIN, also a NY Times bestseller. She has won awards from the Mystery Writers of America (Best Novel of the Year), the Romance Writers of America (Best Thriller), and the New York Public Library (Outstanding Books for the Teen Age). Recently her YA novel LEGACY was given a Westchester Fiction Award.
SEDUCTION, the third installment in the LEGACY series, is scheduled for release later this year through her publisher, Simon & Schuster. A new adult novel, ANGEL OF NIGHT, published by Amazon Publishing, will follow in June of 2015.
Molly has lectured extensively and has taught writing at the college level as well as at a women's prison (where she was NOT an inmate). She also writes a blog on writing technique which appears on her website, MollyCochran.com. Reach her at  facebook.com/mollycochranbooks and Twitter at Twitter.com/mollycochranYA.
She lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.




Thursday, 28 August 2014

Molly Cochran's New Release, and a Giveaway on Goodreads




A short post to let you know I have a Giveaway on Goodreads of 5 copies of

NOTES ON A REBELLION

You can enter HERE!


Also, I have great news.  Molly Cochran's new novella REVELS will be reviewed here next week. The long-awaited SEDUCTION, the third instalment of Molly's Legacy series will be published by Simon and Schuster in December. REVELS will bring you up to date with Katy Ainsworth's intriguing story, and is a fabulous read for YA and beyond. The whole series will be available on the 14th December!
 REVELS will definitely whet your appetite for SEDUCTION. Woohoo!
Pre-order on Amazon here!

Lots of Love
Valentina xxx

Monday, 18 August 2014

This is... RANDOM KNIGHT

NOTES ON A REBELLION has some wonderful characters, and I know I'm the writer, but I've fallen in love with them.  It's just as well because 'Notes' is part of the Notes from Random Knight series, so I'm spending lots of time with them.  I thought it would be a good idea to give them some space to tell us about themselves in their own words. Over the next few weeks, they'll tell you how they came to be in Notes on a Rebellion, and their thoughts about their role in the 2046 rebellion.  Random Knight, Ethan Smith, Silent Red, Jemima-Jim, Christina Alexander, Thomas Dwyer, Gabriel Jackson, and last but not least, Dan Kelly, will tell you how they feel about being in Notes on a Rebellion, and their hopes for the future.  They're looking forward to meeting you.
Valentina Hepburn


This is...Random Knight.

I was just hanging around, waiting for some friends.  And yeeess, I was chewing gum, which Valentina doesn't like.  She liked it even less when I spat it, rather expertly I  thought, into the gutter.
I don't know how she found me.  She says I just turned up in her thoughts and knew I was the one.  I was wearing my usual uniform of jeans, shirt, and leather jacket. And my cowboy boots from Chi-Chi Shoos.  Mustn't forget them.  I saved my wages from my part-time job as a cinema usherette to pay for them.  They cost a fortune.  I still haven't told Mum and Dad how much they cost. I think they'd explode! 
I love films, so working at Cine-See, the government controlled cinema was great for me. I was also involved with a group of students who found films The Government banned because they said they incited dissent.  We used an old warehouse to show the films, a place where organised raves were held about ten years ago.  The Government banned those too.  I had to be really careful because I wanted to be a lawyer, and if I'd been caught by the government soldiers that would have been the end of my career in the justice system before it even started. We had a few near misses I can tell you. OMG, I can just imagine Mum and Dad's faces if that had happened after all the money they spent on extra tuition. I would have been banished to the salt mines. For. Ever.
Human rights was my thing.  I was passionate about it, still am.  Well, I didn't get the chance to wear a gown and wig did I?  Or to change the world.
Anyhow, we were all angry with the government because they did absolutely nothing to prepare us for The Warming. Or the Nicor. Mum, Dad, Zack and I would sit together at mealtimes, discussing what could be done. Should be done.  Debating ideas in between mouthfuls of Mum's fantastic chicken roast.  Her roast potatoes are to die for, by the way.  She uses olive oil, not goose fat.  That's just too old-fashioned.  It's one of the things I really miss - that and Chocodillo Bars.  Those times together, enjoying good food and not worrying about where we would get the next meal from became less and less as The Warming took hold.  I remember Mum going to the supermarket and coming home soon after with practically nothing because there was so little food on the shelves.  She would cry and cry, then just get on with it...like women do. Thinking about those times sends horrible anxious feelings across my skin.  I so miss my family and friends.  I don't know where they are, and I can hardly believe all this has happened to us. It's terrible to live life in fear.  It's what happens when our freedom is taken away.
And it's all part of life, isn't it? All those little things that make up who we are.  Valentina, please let me remember the small things as well as the big things.  Like Mum's voice, so soothing and comforting.  My Dad, always trying to be cool.  Oh, come on, when was he ever cool.  He's so funny.  Or is it, was so funny.  I still don't know. 
I know I feel lost sometimes, like I'm living in a bubble. I'm pretty sure everyone in the Shelters feels the same.  Valentina, couldn't you have made things a bit easier for us?  I mean, how hard would it have been to give us a working toilet?  The latrines are disgusting. I'm a girl.  I need stuff, like soap and shampoo, and...things.  Oh, and a bath.  What would I give to have a bath. I know you'll help me, Ethan and the other raiders find ways of changing things.  You said I'm the one who will change life for my community.
I hope I don't let you down.
Just one thing, Valentina.  I'd love to know what happened to Mum and Dad.  And Zack. Thank you for letting me be with Ordinary.  You know I adore him, my loyal, bony, very loving best friend. 
I trust you.
Love
Random Knight

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Self-publising in the fantasy genre

Fantasy is big business. When you look at the most recent successes of novels or films, let's say over the last fifteen years, fantasy has become an overriding genre . Yet all fictional novels, films, short stories are fantasy. They might sit in very different genres, but they have all come from someone's imagination, a writer fantasizing about a theme or plot. 
Even in the fantasy world, emotions, events, and situations come from real experiences.  No writer has experienced every emotion or situation that makes a setting or situation for a story believable; most writers need to carry out a certain amount of research when planning a novel.  But I believe that our writing about certain situations shows a deeper understanding when we have experienced them ourselves.
There have been times in my own life that if I could choose I would not have experienced.  From a very early age I came to an understanding that life was tough, that I needed to have resilience if I wanted to find happiness, but anything I've experienced, the ups and downs, the gains and losses, have all provided me with a very deep well of different emotions that I draw on every day.
The tentacles of those emotions wrap around everything I write.  In Notes on a Rebellion, Random feels emotionally abandoned by Ethan.  That feeling of knowing I had to rely on myself features strongly in my experience of being a child, so I was able to draw on the crushing disappointment I felt sometimes when I had hoped for a level of support which didn't materialise.  The subject of death is also part of Random's story.  I was able to draw on my feelings of grief from when I lost my mother when I was pregnant with my second daughter, and also when a very dear friend died.  These are experiences none of us want to have, but they are part of life and must be a significant part of what we write, no matter the genre we write in.  Those we come in to contact with, whether they are family, friends, or even strangers can change our perspective on life.  People will surprise us, cheer us, shock us, or hurt or disappoint us. They live their own lives and behave in a way that reflects their own life-experiences
I'm currently writing the second book in the Notes from Random Knight series, A Girl Called Random, Destroying the Compendium, and yet again my experiences of life, good and bad, have materialised on the page.  From my point of view I look at this in two ways.  Sometimes it's hard to revisit those moments, but I'm grateful that life has provided me with rich and varying experiences to draw on.  And I know how it feels to be intensely happy. I have a wonderful family that gives me joy, and, every time I enter Random Knight's world, I know how privileged I am to be the one to write her story.






Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Formatting? - Oh, please!

Well I tried.  Really I did, but I'm hopeless.  I tried to reformat Notes on a Rebellion for Kindle and...it doesn't bear thinking about!

What I ended up with was a huge gap at the beginning, a telling off from Amazon in the form of an exclamation mark and a little camera where the Copyright sign was (I got the symbol from Word, so don't know what I did wrong, and ironic if you think about it) - and the text all over the place.  Is it me?  Can you do it?

Honestly, I think I must be 'technically challenged', 'completely bereft of the skill of following instructions', or maybe just 'plain dim'.  I don't think I'm completely dim but I do think leaving it to the experts is the best option.

Now I'm trying to format for Createspace.  I'll let ya know how I get on.  Where's that gin bottle?

Lots a love
Valentina x

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