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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A Glance Back in Time

This is my first blog post in quite a long time.  So much has happened since my last that I hardly know where to begin.  I guess it's just life, doing what it does, moving on without any of us really having any control. Yes, it's quite scary, but hey, it's been like that for quite a long time!

During the latter part of last year I had a plan. I had published two books in six months and I was feeling very happy. I had planned to finish A GIRL CALLED RANDOM, and release it in time for the Christmas rush (ahem!) but it didn't happen.  Again, life decided to take over and point me in another direction...the direction of loving, caring mum and nanny.

My ex-husband, David, became very ill and unfortunately died in October.  Of course, my girls were devastated, still are, and needed some mum-shaped support and guidance. Sadness overwhelmed the whole family.  I'm guessing many of you have experienced the depth of grief that overcomes us when we lose someone close, someone who has had a very profound effect on our lives.  I know my girls can still hardly believe they won't see their dad again. When a person departs our lives it leaves such a huge void.

Now that another New Year beckons, I think it's a time for reflection on moments I haven't thought about in a while.  Even though David and I had gone our separate ways a long time ago, I've taken some time to remember him; his wicked sense of humour, his irreverence, and his commitment to living his life his way.  Good on him!  Perhaps we should all have a little of that in us.

My hope is that my wonderful, loving daughters will be able to move on into 2015, complete with their cherished memories of their dad and looking forward to the future with their own families.  We have a new arrival joining the family in February and I'm sure that little boy will bring renewed optimism; a little bundle of love we can all share.

My wish for my family, friends, followers, readers, and all of those who have helped me so much during the last twelve months, is a fabulous New Year celebration, and a happy, healthy, successful 2015.  Thank you for your enduring belief and support.  It won't be forgotten.

Happy New Year

LoveValentina xxx



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

Monday, 23 June 2014

The self-publishing journey so far.

So it's out there.  Notes on a Rebellion is finally available on Amazon after weeks of angst-ing over cover designs, fonts and formatting.  And then of course there's the rest of life to think about.  The world keeps on turning, just as it should.

I've lost count of the number of people who've said, "I'd love to publish a book."  Well, my friends, it's all there, you just gotta to find out how it works.

It sorta sounds easy, and I suppose for some, it is.  In truth it's OK once you get going, but hands up, I had help from someone in-the-know and I was very glad of it. 

All-in-all, the experience has been really enjoyable...and exciting.  The beauty of 'doing-it-yourself' is that you remain in control of the process - you can choose your own publication date, your own cover, and how you choose to promote and market your book.  Organising the cover with Tim Pryor was brilliant and lots of fun.  I knew in my mind's-eye how Random looked, we know our own characters better than anyone, don't we?  And when he and I agreed on the image and I saw the first draft I was over-the-moon. I couldn't have wished for a better result and I can't recommend him highly enough.  My current website www.valentinahepburn.com looks great and will be updated on Wednesday with more info about Notes on a Rebellion and the sequel, now entitled The Compendium.  I'm very busy now, writing new scenes for The Compendium, updating A Dish of Stones due to be released soon, and getting Notes on a Rebellion ready for paperback and hardback. 

Thank you to all my Blogettes who sent messages of support, particularly Tanya Reimer, Richard Hughes, and Vicki Tremper, who have been there from the start.  It's lovely to hear from fellow writers because we understand each other and we know what goes into completing a novel; the blood, sweat and tears, and what it means to us to create something enjoyable and thought provoking for others to read.

The Notes on a Rebellion competition is running until July 31st.  Please enter here for your chance to win a 1st edition hardback copy.  I'll keep you up-to-date with new releases and competition news. 

Best wishes for your own writing.

Lots of love

Valentina xxx

Friday, 20 June 2014

Publication Day ~ NOTES ON A REBELLION!

This is the day I've been waiting for...the publication day of the first novel in the 
Notes from Random Knight Series:~
which can be purchased from Amazon or borrow from Amazon KDP Select here for UK or
for USA here

I hope you fall in love with the characters as much as I have.  Random Knight, Ethan Smith, Silent Red, Jemima-Jim, Christina, Dan, Gabriel, Thomas, and of course the wonderful Ordinary are waiting for you to join them on their odyssey; the journey to Castle Firamodor on the Island of Fae, to save their community from starvation after The Warming.
Thank you to those who have already entered the competition to win a signed 1st edition copy.  The competition will remain open until 31 July, details below.

You could WIN a Signed First Edition Copy of Valentina Hepburn's incredible
Notes On A Rebellion. It's FREE to enter. Go to

Thursday, 19 June 2014

One day to go for publication of Notes on a Rebellion





Author of the Legacy Series, Molly Cochran Murphy supports Notes On A Rebellion!

"If Lord of the Rings & The Hunger Games got married, this would be their offspring"

Recently, Valentina received high acclaim and the backing of New York Times Bestseller Molly Cochran, Author of the hugely successful "Legacy Series".
Molly has authored more than 25 books, including Legacy, Poison and Seduction. Her first Novel, Grandmaster with Warren Murphy, was a bestseller plus Edgar Award Winner. She also authored the international bestseller The Forever King with Warren Murphy. 
After reading Notes On A Rebellion Molly said "If Lord of the Rings married The Hunger Games, Notes On A Rebellion would be their offspring. It's wonderful, one surprise after another! The odyssey-like trek through fantasy worlds was thrilling".
If you want to find out more about Notes On A Rebellion & fancy being in with a chance of winning a signed first edition head over to our site now.
Website →

WIN a Signed First Edition...

To celebrate the launch of the book, Valentina is giving you two chances to WIN a FREE signed first edition ofNotes On A Rebellion.
Simply visit the website or head over to our Facebook page and give us a like. Once you have liked the page you will be immediately entered in with a chance of winning. 
Facebook Page →

How Long Will I Love You?

..."Then fight for him Darling. You fought a Nicor yesterday, didn't you? That makes you very special around here. Do what you have to do but don't leave it too late. You might not have long with him, Random."
"None of us have very long".
read more →

..."What is it about Men & Boobs"...

"Ethan's talking to Lafayette, a blonde with breasts shaped like balloons. They probably are balloons"..."She is kind of pretty if you like long blonde hair, endless legs and model girl looks"..."My stomach lurches with jealousy. What is it about men and boobs?"..."You could park a bike in her cleavage".
read more →
Like our Facebook page and win a Signed 1st edition copy of Notes on a Rebellion


You could WIN a Signed First Edition Copy of Valentina Hepburn's incredible
Notes On A Rebellion. It's FREE to enter. Go to
Copyright © 2014 Valentina Hepburn, All rights reserved.








Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A Self Publishing Odyssey




"Ethan's talking to Lafayette, a blonde with breasts shaped like balloons.  They probably are balloons.  She was a glamour model before The Warming.  She is kind of pretty if you like long blonde hair, endless legs and model girl looks.  Ethan gazes up at me and grins like a soppy schoolboy.  My stomach lurches with jealousy.  What is it about men and boobs?   We girls have all got 'em.  I just don't choose to put mine on display like she does.  You could park a bike in her cleavage."


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

NOTES ON A REBELLION ~ FREE EXCERPT ~ Three days to publication!

Photo: How long will I love you? How much time will we be given?www.lettersfromvalentinahepburn.blogspot.com




Late yesterday afternoon, after the discovery that Jenni and Lara had been abducted, a mass-meeting was held in the communal area.  The Thayne have made it clear they'll stop at nothing to populate their garrison with women.  They've taken Jenni, and Lara, her three year old daughter, and we’ve heard more reports of missing women from the other shelters.  I’m in no doubt I would have been abducted too had the Nicor not put in an appearance at the right moment.  The dwellers realise that we're not as cocooned in our community as we thought.  We feel utterly violated.  Most think the Thayne have dug a tunnel into the compound which is so well hidden we don't notice it, but Ethan and I aren’t so sure.  The mystery deepens.  How they get in is beyond us.  We've searched high and low and still no answer.

In the middle of the 2030s we were all scared of hidden bombs from revolutionary factions.  I remember the feelings of vulnerability and how much our fear disabled our lives; stopping us from doing ordinary, everyday things.  Now those feelings have infiltrated the compound.  If we ever thought our situation couldn't get any worse than simply starving to death, we were wrong.
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Monday, 16 June 2014

FREE excerpt from Notes on a Rebellion ~ The countdown is on!





I wake in Ethan's arms.  The warmth of his body and the sound of his breath as he sleeps mesmerises me.  His face nuzzles against the crook of my neck, leaving the vapour of his gentle breath on my skin.  He looks even more beautiful at rest - his features calm, his soft blond hair ruffled by sleep.
        As he stirs, the realization of where he is dawns on him and a smile unfolds across his face.  “Hi, sweetie.”  I lean forward and kiss him.  He grabs me and twists me onto my back, pinning my arms to the bunk.  Resting his naked torso on top of mine, he presses his lips to my mouth – a deep, passionate kiss promising much more.       
I trace my fingers up his spine to the nape of his neck where I play with his hair, entwining it through my fingers, playfully tugging and pulling.  He leans up on his elbow and looks into my eyes.  “Not now.”  He kisses me again to quieten my protests, disappointment registering on my face. 
“When, Ethan?”
“When we're alone.  When it's right.  Now isn't.”
I hear morning sounds from the shelter – cell doors sliding open, the clatter of metal forks on metal plates, and a burst of laughter from one of the dwellers.  The moment has gone.   
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Sunday, 15 June 2014

NOTES ON A REBELLION ~ FREE excerpt ~ How long will I love you?




When the sun is highest in the sky, Gunther and Grace hand a cup of water to every dweller.  This must last until evening, when we get another.  Water is heavily rationed.  It's the most precious commodity we have and everyone must have the same amount.  I watch sadly as Christina gives hers to her little boy.  She feels my eyes on her and looks up. Sighing, she shakes her head, a tear rolling down her cheek. 
Grace hands me my cup of water and smiles.  This is the first smile I've had from anyone since last night.  “Are you OK, Random?”  I look down.  I don't want her to see how troubled I am.  “I don't think I'm very popular at the moment.” 
“Don't take any notice of Dan.  He has fire in his belly and no patience.  He wants to save the world.  He believes he's the man to do it.”
“Do you think he is?”  She shrugs and sits next to me on the dusty floor, wincing at the aches and pains in her elderly body.  “I don't know, sweetheart, but he's going to have a damned good try.”
“He might die trying.” 
            She shuffles her scruffy trainers in the dust, making patterns then scrubbing them out.  “They could all die.  Or, they might just make it.  Who knows?  But I do know since all this fighting talk started my Gunther has a spring in his step I haven't seen for a very long time.  He's just like he was when we first met.”  She winks at me and I grin.  “Grace, you naughty girl.”  She laughs.  “We must get our comfort where we can.”  She looks over to Ethan and Lafayette.  “Including you, my dear.”
“Ethan is finding his comfort with Little Miss Melons.”
“It's nothing.  It means nothing.  My guess is it's you he wants.  You love him, don't you?”  I nod; amazed that she'd worked it out.  She reaches for my hand with her own gnarled, yet soft hand, lowering her voice almost to a whisper.  “Then fight for him, darling.  You fought a Nicor yesterday, didn't you?   It makes you very special around here.  Do what you have to do but don't leave it too late.  You might not have long with him, Random.  None of us might have very long.”
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Saturday, 14 June 2014



I'm Random Knight!

The shelter’s quiet except for the low murmur of intense conversation between small groups of dwellers who’ve banded together for company.  It's always like this.  Talking is all we do after blackout.
This thrown together shack is where we eat, sleep, and find sanctuary from Nicor attacks.  I guess it’s home, the only home some of us will ever know now that the world has changed.  We don't talk much about the future – it's almost a dirty word here.  Living from day-to-day is challenging enough.  There’s no running water in the shelter and only basic sanitation.  Our existence is as grim as it gets.  I'll never get used to it.

Before the shelter I had aspirations; dreams of success...and love maybe.  I often wondered what my life-plan would be and where it would take me.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be imprisoned in a compound with hundreds of strangers, surviving on miniscule rations handed out to us by a government that seems to have deserted us.  My heart sinks at the hopelessness of it all but I know I have to grit my teeth and have faith that things will change for the better.
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Thursday, 12 June 2014

Win a signed 1st edition of Notes on a Rebellion


My beloved Ordinary
'Ordinary is the only member of my family I managed to hang on to when we were arrested.  I watch him gnawing and playing with the deer bone.  For once in a very long time my best friend has found some bone-shaped happiness.  It was a risk to go out just before blackout, but watching him now, I'm glad I did.
Ordinary playing happily with his bone makes me feel better so I leave my cell and go into the communal area at the centre of the shelter.  The dweller’s cells – their own little piece of privacy in our prison – run along the length of the building.  At mealtimes it feels like King's Cross Station at rush-hour, with dwellers spilling out of the cells like passengers leaving their carriages and hurrying out onto the platform.  I like the hustle and bustle and the sing-song undertone of the dweller’s chatter.  It reminds me of where I came from.'
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Notes On A Rebellion. It's FREE to enter. Go to
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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

NOTES ON A REBELLION ~ FREE Ist Chapter


Chapter 1
Hell's teeth, I so know how to get myself into trouble.  A Thayne warrior fixes me with unblinking eyes, his jaw rigid with hate. A dazzling flash of light from the overhead beam bounces off the knife in his leather-gloved hand.  Bile rises in my throat as I imagine how it'll feel when he pushes the knife into my body – to lose my life as blood pours out of the tear in my flesh.  Where will that shiny, razor-sharp blade go?
In my heart?
Across my throat? 
I’m staring death in the face and just seventeen.  Shit!  Why don’t I freakin’ listen, sometimes? 
He's big – six and half feet at least, each flexing muscle accentuated by the sweat glistening on his deeply tanned skin.  His armour is so highly polished the reflection is blinding.  This guy means business.  In this crystal clear moment, his business is me.
As I wait for him to attack, an overpowering, acrid smell descends from the sky.  Sulphur!   The Nicor have left the nests they built on the cliffs.  Could this get any worse?  Slashed to pieces by a Thayne warrior or torn to shreds by a flying sea- serpent.  Oh, great...just great. 
The Nicor swoops about overhead pissing acid over everything below. When the acid hits the ground, bubbling and fizzing, a sticky yellow gloop spreads across the dirt.  It stinks like nothing else on earth.  This is how they get us.  If that stuff hits you you're in deep ca-ca.  I've seen it with my own eyes; the damage it does to human flesh is horrific.  Last month a guy from our prison shelter was hit by an acid-bomb and his body turned to soup.  He didn't scream – he didn't have time.
When the Nicor invaded our atmosphere in the thousands, the government soldiers who arrested us ran into the mountains to save themselves from being eaten or blasted with sulphur bombs. Those soldiers are now Thayne warriors; a unit of highly trained killers who stop at nothing to get what they want. The gossip in the compound is that they have a large force and a new, powerful leader giving them confidence.  I hope this is just rumour.  If they get their way every person in the compounds will die of starvation...unless we've been fed to the Nicor.  Whatever the outcome the Nicor will definitely get a good meal.  Looks like I'll be the starter.
I see something move at the corner of my line of vision and draw in a sharp breath.  Ethan!        
A dweller from the shelter hides by a broken down truck the soldiers left when they fled. My heart skips a beat and the relief almost melts me when I see my slingshot and leather pouch of sling-bullets at his feet.  He puts a finger to his lips, then holds up five fingers and mouths, 'on five’ as he points towards the Nicor.  Jumbled thoughts shoot around my brain like cars on a chicane.  Mum – I love you.  Dad – I miss you.  Zack – my pain in the neck brother – where the hell are you?  And what about my dog, Ordinary?  Who'll take care of him?  Damn.  I've really screwed up this time.
The Thayne warrior seems to have lost interest in me as he turns around in circles, craning his neck to follow the flying sea-serpent as it commands the sky.  Maybe he’s as scared of the Nicor as we are in the compound.  It gives me a few precious moments to save myself. 
Looking back over to Ethan, I nod.  Ethan counts.  On five he tosses the slingshot and bullets across to me then runs towards the Thayne, launching himself at the warrior and felling him.  I lift the slingshot, load in a bullet and wait for the Nicor to attack.  The Nicor flies in an arc then swoops down with its mouth gaping, revealing two enormous fangs dripping with toxic green slime.  It whistles past me, its huge feathered wings carrying a glistening, metallic armoured body with graceful ease.  As it glides directly over-head I glimpse the formation of a bubbling acid-bomb ready to be excreted from an opening in its belly.  I follow the Nicor's flight-path, holding the slingshot comfortably in my hand, ready to launch the bullet.
This is my strength.  I must use everything I know about the slingshot now – focused steadying of the catapult and the intended trajectory of the bullet.  Everything I've learnt could save my life. 
I fire.  
The bullet hits the Nicor squarely in the throat knocking its head backwards, its bloodshot eyes registering astonishment as the bullet punctures its scaly skin.  I scream out “Jog on, you freak,” and load up another bullet, firing again as I run a few feet to my right to strengthen my firing position.  The second bullet hits it in the chest.  I sling another, hitting the soft spot under the wing.  The flying beast hits the ground with a loud thud, carving out a crater in the dirt, clouds of dust and grit flying high up into the air as it lands.  There’s rise and fall in its chest, so I wait before I risk approaching.  I hope death comes quickly.  One less Nicor is no loss to the world.
Gradually the movement diminishes, and with a final breath the Nicor dies.  I can barely see over the top of its body, but this is a small Nicor compared to the beasts that fly over the compound at night, scaring the dwellers half-to-death.  Although I hate the Nicor more than I could have ever imagined hating anything, there's a kind of fascination about them – the way the oily scales swirl with colour as they reflect the silent flashes of lightening streaking across the sky – the sweeping, feathered contours of its huge wings. Horrific and beautiful, the Nicor is a deviation of life intent on killing everything in its path.
I watch in awe as Ethan punches seven bells out of the Thayne.  He's fit in every sense of the word.  His life before The Warming playing American soccer for the New York Red Bulls has given him a body rippling with tight muscles.  I can't help but admire the way he handles himself in a fight.  It's very ... sexy.
When the Thayne realises the upper-hand belongs to Ethan, he runs off leaving a trail of blood behind him.  He found a way into our prison compound – a mystery – the perimeter fences are electrified from a central government source, but now is not the time for a discussion.  It's dark and we need to get back to the shelter, otherwise we'll be in the compound courtyard after blackout.  I should've listened to Ethan.  He told me not to leave the shelter at dusk but I'm such a know all.  I knew – I thought I knew I could make it.
Ethan walks towards me.  The dust on his face mingles with beads of perspiration on his forehead leaving muddy tracks down his cheeks.  The front of his khaki jacket is covered in the Thayne's blood, and as he stands next to the dead Nicor – self-assured, hands on hips, he shakes his head.  “It's just a baby.”  He raises his eyebrows and looks at me with exasperation.  “We're so gonna pay for this.” 
“Hey, look, Ethan, I'm really sorry.  You should've stayed in the shelter with the others.  I didn't mean for you to follow me.” 
He runs a hand through soft blond hair that reaches past his collar.  Deep blue eyes flicker with amusement as he grins.  “Oh, OK.  I'll leave you to the Thayne next time, shall I?  Or maybe you would've preferred the acid treatment.  You're a pain in the ass.  Why can't you do what everyone else does?  You know what it's like out here after dark.  What's so important, anyway?”
I push my slingshot and bullet-pouch into his hands, run over to the perimeter fence, lie on my stomach and reach under a bush to retrieve a deer bone.  I drag it towards me and hold it up, grinning with delight.  “It's for Ordinary.” 
I know Ethan thinks I'm crazy, but Ordinary looks more like a bone than the bone.  A lurcher needs a lot of food.  I can't lose Ordinary.  He's all I've got.  Ethan shakes his head in disbelief.  “You risked your life – for a freakin' bone?  You gotta be kidding me.” 
“He's worth it.” 
The light from the overhead disappears as it automatically shuts down, and we're left standing in the pitch black.
“We'd better be getting back.  When the Nicor realise one of their babies is missing they're gonna be out in force,” Ethan says, walking towards the shelter. 
We walk side-by-side, my stride matching his.  Even though I'm still hyped-up and trembling, it feels awesome to be near him.  “Do you think they'll dive bomb us?  Their baby is lying dead near the shelter and the last time a Nicor died here we were holed up for weeks.  Christ, Ethan.  What have I done?  If I'd known what would happen...”   Ethan looks down at me, smiling.  “You'd have done it anyway.  I know how much you care about Ordinary, Random, but you take too many risks.  You could’ve been wasted out here.  I knew you wouldn’t listen to me so I followed you.  Come on, I'm hungry.   Gunther and Grace are handing out supplies they got from the feeding station.  If we don't get back in time we'll lose our share and I'll be the one gnawing that bone.  Ordinary won't get a look in.”
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