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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

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!

The Blogettes