Friday, 17 August 2012

Writing Retreat

I have now taken myself away to a lonesome cottage on the North Yorks Moors where internet access is limited.

So please forgive the hiatus in posts as I finish the sequel to Witchstruck, surrounded by Tudor and witchcraft research books and inspirational items.

Back in two weeks!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Witchcraft in Tudor Times

Are these witches or historical writers in the fire?
Some small controversy seems to have arisen at History Today over a blog post I've contributed there. The post is on "Witchcraft in Tudor Times".

One key issue seems to be that I have referred to Dr John Dee without proper respect for his status as a man of science, pointing out that he openly summoned and spoke with spirits from the 'super-celestial realm', otherwise known as angels.

The problem would appear to be that I have thereby suggested double standards from those stalwart Elizabethans who hanged women as witches. Women who - under torture, mind you - confessed to speaking with the Devil and his demons, or with familiar spirits they were able to summon at will. Yet Dr John Dee's activities were only occasionally questioned by those in authority, perhaps because he was under the Queen's protection for so many years as court astrologer. And also because he was a man?

But read it for yourself and see if you agree.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Round-Up Of This Week's News (with Kittens!)

Bo-Bo and Jangles, caught in the middle of planning something mischievous!
MAIN STORY: Two Gorgeous Kittens
This week we acquired two gorgeous dark tabby kittens, whom we have named Bo-Bo and Jangles. They are very cute but a little bit mischievous. As one might expect from eight week old kittens!

On the negative side, I don't think our Red Setter puppy is terribly pleased with their arrival. Especially when they use the litter tray in front of her! This she seems to consider a personal affront, judging by the dreadful noises she makes.

Writing Retreat
I'm off up to the wilds of Yorkshire this coming weekend, to a tiny cottage on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors which I often rent when facing a deadline. There, I hope to catch up on my writing schedule for a few weeks in glorious isolation. Internet access will be limited, so don't expect too many blog posts. Wish me luck!

Best Books About Tudor England
This is a list I've just noticed on Goodreads and cheekily added The Queen's Secret to it. I'd be hugely grateful to any Goodreads members who feel able to vote for it too. It's currently lurking at around #181 in the list, so could do with a push!

Sir Thomas Wyatt: poet, lover, courtier
I've also blogged this week on the English Historical Fiction Authors site about the dashing poet and courtier, Sir Thomas Wyatt, whose name is often romantically linked with Anne Boleyn's. But did you know that Henry VIII may have had an affair with Wyatt's wife?

Lovely US Review of Witchstruck
I recently "met" a reviewer online at Goodreads whose reading tastes eerily echo my own, so I took a chance and sent her my two Tudor novels, Witchstruck and The Queen's Secret. The only drawback is that Jessie lives in the States, where neither of these books is yet available, though both should be in the future. But I guess it will be good to have an advance readership in the US. She has now reviewed Witchstruck very generously on her blog, Ageless Pages. Do jump over and take a peek, not just at my own review, but at all the other Good Things to be found there.

Promo Price on The Queen's Secret
Oh, and do please remember, The Queen's Secret is still crazily reduced on Amazon Kindle to the bargain price of just £2.84. Not sure how long that promo will last.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 13 August 2012

South-West Signing

Signing copies of WITCHSTRUCK at Exeter Waterstones
I had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon on Saturday at the Exeter Roman Gate branch of Waterstones, signing copies of WITCHSTRUCK and meeting a large number of readers.

One of the most wonderful things about meeting young adult readers is how many express an interest in writing fiction themselves. One I met on Saturday had even recently completed a novel!

I gave what advice I felt qualified to give about becoming a writer, and hopefully good things will happen for them. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the young woman who suddenly asked about work experience at Waterstones while chatting to me and one of the members of staff about working with books, and was given positive feedback on how to go about applying. It's all happening!

Many heartfelt thanks to Michele and everyone else at Waterstones Exeter RG branch who supported me during my book signing. It was a lovely day.

And a huge thanks to those readers who stopped to chat or buy a copy, or who specially brought their copies in to be signed. It was a super experience to meet you all.

My next public event will be a talk about historical fiction on the theme of 'Betrayal' on September 10th at 12.30pm at the Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Witchstruck Signing at Waterstones

Just a reminder that I'll be at Exeter's Roman Gate branch of Waterstones this Saturday afternoon, balancing a book on my head and twirling a pen between my fingers, hoping to sign some books for eager readers.

I'm signing copies of Witchstruck at Exeter Roman Gate branch of Waterstones (252 High Street) on Saturday August 11th from 1-3pm.

See, I'll be in good company with The Hungry Caterpillar.

Here's a map to the Roman Gate branch of Waterstones in Exeter, Devon. Hope to see you there on the afternoon of Saturday 11th August. Please do share this post if you can!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Queen's Secret

The Queen's Secret is currently available on a reduced promotion for only £2.84 on Amazon Kindle.

The Queen's Secret is also available at the reduced price of £2.99 from the Apple iBooks store. That's for any compatible i-device, such as iPod touch, iPad, or iPhone.

N.B. These reduced offers are for a limited period only.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England, arrives at Kenilworth Castle amid pomp, fanfare and a wealth of lavish festivities, laid on by the Earl of Leicester. The hopeful Earl knows this is his very last chance to persuade the Queen to marry him.

But despite his attachment to the Queen and his driving ambition to be her King, Leicester is unable to resist the seductive wiles of Lettice, wife of the Earl of Essex. And soon whispers of their relationship start spreading through the court.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Author Discussion: Hampstead & Highgate Literary Festival

I'll be talking with Dr Helen Fry and fellow historical author Fiona Mountain at the Ham & High Literary Festival on Monday September 10th, 12.30 - 1.30pm.

Two historical fiction writers discuss the theme of betrayal with historian, Dr Helen Fry.

In Fiona Mountain's Cavalier Queen, Queen Henrietta Maria's love of another man whilst married to King Charles I sustains her through days of betrayal, destitution and death. While, set at the time of Queen Elizabeth I's visit to Kenilworth Castle in 1575, Victoria Lamb's novel, The Queen's Secret, explores Elizabeth's feelings for Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, the man she turns to first in a crisis and loves. Yet she fears his lust for power and what he would do to get it.

Fiona Mountain is a novelist whose work has been published around the world. Her first novel, Isabella, was short-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2000. It was followed with Pale as the Dead and Bloodline, the latter the winner of the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award. She returned to historical fiction in 2009 with Lady of the Butterflies, set in 17th century England, and remains in that era with her latest novel, Cavalier Queen.

Victoria Lamb is a poet and novelist. Happiest when translating poetry from a dead language or recreating a rich Tudor scene, her debut historical novel The Queen's Secret is set during Elizabeth I's visit to Kenilworth Castle in July 1575.

Dr Helen Fry is an historian and biographer who has written over 20 books, including Churchill's German Army, Music & Men, Freuds' War, From Dachau to D-Day, and Inside Nuremberg Prison. She is currently engaged on a number of script-writing projects based on her work, for film and TV.

To book tickets for this event, please visit the Ham & High Festival site.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Arvon Course at Lumb Bank, 2007

I was reminded today, coming across a writer friend online, of the Young Adult Fiction course I did at Lumb Bank in the summer of 2007.

Arvon Foundation writing courses are great. They're quite expensive, and work you hard all week, but they also expose you to a range of new ideas and approaches, whatever your chosen field. I have done numerous Arvon courses now, and even taught on a poetry one myself, and I thoroughly recommend them, especially if you've hit a brick wall in your writing career. They're fun too and can be highly social occasions - though with plenty of alcoves, writing sheds and quiet spaces into which you can retreat when you've had enough company and just want to write.

Odd to think, looking at the photograph below and remembering all the hard work I did that week, that it may have taken five years, but I have now published a Young Adult novel. My week at Arvon was a gamble, but it eventually paid off.

I went in there with a half-written dark paranormal about Fallen Angels, a book I still haven't finished but may one day. In the end though I decided on a paranormal historical YA, and maybe that more unusual angle gave me the edge I needed in a competitive market.

YA writing course 2007 at Arvon's Lumb Bank: Lee Weatherly and Malorie Blackman, tutors

Here's what I wrote some time later, to accompany this photograph:

The Arvon Foundation: Lumb Bank, Summer 2007. That's me standing at the front on the far left, in case you weren't certain, looking a bit dazed; I nearly missed this group photo because I'd fallen asleep over my manuscript!

Tutors Lee Weatherly and Malorie Blackman are sitting at the front. Lee is grasping the bench with both hands, as though afraid it may fly away with her at any moment, with Malorie Blackman beside her, clearly less horrified by the lens.

On the far right, for some reason looking as though she only has one leg, is Bridget Collins, author of a debut teen novel due out from Bloomsbury this autumn under the name B.R. Collins.

This photograph appears courtesy of Claire McNamee.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Terminal 5, Heathrow

Thanks to my eagle-eyed editor Emma Buckley for this book-shot taken at Terminal 5, Heathrow, of my Tudor novel The Queen's Secret in the WHS Chart.

It's out in a limited paperback edition for WHS Travel at the moment, but will be available from all outlets in paperback from late September. Meanwhile you can get it as a hardback or digitally on Amazon.

Very excited to see it in the chart!