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Friday, 24 February 2017

Submitting to Agents


I can't believe it's over two months since I last posted. Where does the time go? I'm in a happy place writing-wise right now because I've just completed the third draft of my new novel and waiting for my readers to give me their wisdom. (I always get nervous about this, because it's 'real' people reading the ms and not just me). I am real, by the way.

I've self-published before, but I've decided to contact agents over this one. I feel like I'm going into battle. I can't remember the last time I queried an agent about a new manuscript, so I'm studying it all again to make sure those pesky mistakes don't creep in. The problem is, everything I read about submitting tells me something different. Do I start with the novel name and the length? Or do I jump right in with the pitch, then continue from there? Do I start with my logline? Do I compare my novel to others, or not? Some say do, some say don't. Phew, I'm not sure what the answers are so I'm going to do what comes naturally, and hopefully make it as exciting and readable as possible and keep my fingers crossed. The only thing I'm sure about, is keeping my fingers crossed.
I know how to do that.

Love Valentina xxx

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

A Snuggle Up Christmas Romance Novel for a Sweet Christmas Book 2

THE CHOCOLATE SHOP ON CHRISTMAS STREET is on pre-order on Amazon for 99c and 99p.
Order here for US and here for UK 

Pre-order now for a snuggly romantic read over the holidays. Here's the blurb...

Rosie Tennyson's dream of owning a chocolate shop comes true when she opens Chocolate Fantasy on Christmas Street. When Rosie's boyfriend of two years, Dale decides to rekindle his relationship with his ex-wife after admitting he'd never stopped loving her, Rosie is hurt but philosophical, much to the surprise of the small community of shopkeepers on Christmas Street who fall in love with Rosie and stick together through thick and thin. Keen to help her take her mind off her broken heart, Rosie's best friend Felicity arranges for her to receive an invitation to display her chocolates at a Christmas Festival at Gainsford Manor, the large manor house where the ancestors of Sir Harold Christmas still live. The festival introduces Rosie to an astonishing new business opportunity, and a gorgeous new customer who turns up at Chocolate Fantasy to buy her artisan chocolates more than is healthy.
Will Rosie learn to love again, and will a secret admirer reveal his identity and mend her heart with sweet romance?
The 2nd novella in the Snuggle Up Romance Series is irresistibly charming, the perfect holiday read for a sweet Christmas holiday and beyond!

Love Valentina xxx

Thursday, 17 November 2016


To celebrate the release of the paperback of CHRISTMAS AT MISTLETOE ABBEY, I'm offering my followers a chance to win a copy on Goodreads. Here's the blurb...

Sophie Trevelyan adores ‘Simply Yummy’, the pretty bistro she opens in London with an inheritance from her grandmother. As owner and head-chef she knows she’s finally found her niche. A place to call her own.

When Sophie’s boyfriend, Bradley decides he’d rather play festive games with the sexy bottle-blonde Santa from the office, Sophie finds herself wondering who she can take as her plus one when she receives an unexpected invitation from her old friends, Laetitia and Jeremy Lucas, to stay at Mistletoe Abbey for Christmas.

On her arrival at the gloriously Christmassy Mistletoe Abbey, Sophie discovers a surprising guest has been invited, and it isn’t Santa Claus. Selena, Sophie’s best friend, is determined to shield a broken-hearted Sophie from the wrong kind of attention, and delivers some news that she can hardly believe. A meeting between her and the gorgeous TV chef, Jack Adams, contrived by a social-climbing Laetitia doesn’t go well, yet Sophie knows there’s a magnetic attraction between them.

Determined to enjoy their much-needed festive break, Sophie and Selena decide to make the most of a disastrous weekend. When they’re called upon to help Laetitia and Jeremy out of a tight-spot, they agree, throwing a reluctant Sophie under Jack Adam’s spotlight.

Struggling to come to terms with the loss of her gran, and Bradley’s betrayal, Sophie finds consolation in Hero, her faithful dachshund, and the utter beauty of Mistletoe Abbey as they explore the fairy-tale, snow-covered woods surrounding the house. Is she the only person to fall under the abbey’s magical spell? Will she be tempted to allow a remorseful Bradley back into her life…or will a spicy newcomer provide the Christmas sparkle to mend her broken heart?

A charming-to-read Christmas romance novella to snuggle up with under a tartan blanket, sipping a glass of spicy mulled wine. Enjoy!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Christmas at Mistletoe Abbey by Valentina Hepburn

Christmas at Mistletoe Abbey

by Valentina Hepburn

Giveaway ends December 14, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Monday, 14 November 2016

It's Nearly Christmas! It Really Is! A Free Gift from Valentina Hepburn

Okay, so I thought I'd have some fun and write a Christmas novella. And I did have fun, and I hope you do too.

Because it's 'nearly' Christmas, I thought I'd give you an early Christmas present, so go

for a lovely free copy of...

Christmas at Mistletoe Abbey: A Snuggle Up Christmas Romance (The Snuggle Up Romance Novella Series Book 1) by [Hepburn, Valentina]

until Tuesday 15th November.

or if you would prefer the paperback... here for the for the US
It'll be available in time for Christmas

Lots of love,Valentina xxx

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


I've decided to contact agents in hope of representation for my next novel. I'm currently at the first draft stage and usually, after all the work that goes into writing, choosing covers, and the marketing that must be carried out I've self-published. However, I feel differently about this one.

When I started to write it I expected to continue on the road that I stepped out onto two years ago. Is it really two years? I can hardly believe it. I've written three novels, and two novellas. The novellas I wrote for fun because I wanted to try everything...explore every genre, but the novel I'm writing at the moment means a great deal to me.

It's about a boy adopted from an orphanage in Sarajevo by an English couple and his experiences as a guy in his twenties when he tries to find his biological parents. This becomes very important to him when he meets the love of his life by chance in a London park. Was it just chance, or that indescribable something that leads one person to another, pushed by the hand of fate?

I decided to write about adoption and the inevitable questions regarding parentage because my dad was raised in a children's home in the 1920s. Before he died ten years ago he asked me to try to find information about what happened to his mother, Carrie. I didn't hold out much hope. My father and his brother were raised in India until Dad was about eight years old. They lived in absolute luxury. They each had a nanny, and his mother and stepfather employed servants. They lived in a palatial home, a life we probably wouldn't recognise ourselves unless we're watching films or reading books about that time. For reasons yet to be confirmed their stepfather sent my grandmother, my dad, and his brother back to the UK to certain poverty. They returned to Wandsworth, an area of London where my grandmother was born, and were very poor. When they returned to England they were penniless. My grandmother was unable to care for her boys because she had to find work, so they were sent to live in a children's home on the east coast of England. The culture shock must have been horrendous.

It took a very long time to find my grandmother, but eventually I did which meant I could tell Dad what had happened to her and how much it meant to her that he and his brother were safe if not totally happy. I can't tell you how glad and relieved I was to have been able to find the information he needed. It meant that before he died he knew for certain his mother loved him. I have the letters she wrote to the orphanage begging to see her little boys. The authorities were so strict in those days. The letters are heart rending.

So, THE GIRL WITH THE RED SCARF is very important to me. Below is a graphic of how I see Ellie, the girl Tom falls in love with. If I'm fortunate enough to find an agent or publisher it will probably never be used, but I keep it beside me. It keeps me going because it embodies the essence of the story.
I hope you like it.
What keeps you going?
Lots of love
Valentina xxx

Friday, 20 May 2016

Don't Invite Me to Your Party... Pleeeease!

I went to a party last week. The truth is, I didn't want to go. I really didn't want to go. Don't get me wrong, there are certain things I like to do in a social sense. The informal lunch, a trip down The Thames with a friend, family get-togethers, a night in the pub, y'know the sort of thing. But parties? Not really.

I've always had an ambivalent attitude towards them. I was never completely mad about them. It was okay when I was young. Then, I was happy to be the centre of attention, and drank enough to conveniently forget about some of the things I did at said parties, which was probably just as well. Unfortunately, much of the attention I receive now is due to the fact that I write.

You might think this would be a good thing, a conversation starter, an interesting discussion. It isn't. Here is a list of the questions and comments I receive on a regular basis (some by the same person at different times) at social gatherings.

The main one...'So, I hear you write.'
Then... 'How long have you been writing?' So far so good.
Then the coup de grace, very early on... 'Who's your publisher?' It's downhill from then on in because the fact that I self-publish is seen as the green light to ask any question, no matter how intrusive.  
'So, you're self-published. How does that work?'
Then, and I guarantee this is where it gets interesting...'How much money are you making?'  

In the world I inhabit asking someone how much they earn is a no-no, so maybe someone can tell me why it's okay for a person to ask me how much money I make from my writing. My stock answer is, 'Enough to keep me happy.' I would like to make it clear here that I don't write because of the financial rewards, in fact, most people I know who are passionate about writing don't do it for that reason because most writers don't make a living from it. It's a nice bonus when it happens. This is just how I view it.  

Then...'What's your book about?' Fair question.
'I don't read fantasy, or contemporary fiction. You should write a Western. I've heard it's the next big thing.' S'pose it might be.
'Maybe you should write something like Fifty Shades of Grey. You might have more luck.'
'I've been thinking of writing a book' or... 'I'm writing a book.' Tells me about book which is fine. Then.
'D'you think it will sell?'
'If I write it will you edit it for me?' (They mean for free.)
'Do you make your own e-books?'
'If I write my book will you do mine for me because, honestly, (there's usually a little laugh here) I don't have a clue about computers.' Not that I'm in any danger here because this has been said many times to me and it's never actually happened.
'Do you do your own covers?'
'Could you do mine?'

I kid you not, all of the above has been said to me at one time or another, usually at someone's party/barbecue. Please understand, I like helping people, really I do, in fact I'm known for it, but sometimes...sometimes I just want to tell people to take a long run off a short pier.
D'you know what I mean?

Lots of love
Valentina xxx


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 

The Blogettes