Sunday, 30 November 2014

Her Last Assassin

If you are looking for a gripping historical read as a Christmas present, or just for yourself, why not consider the recently published paperback edition of HER LAST ASSASSIN?


HER LAST ASSASSIN
"Very enticing and a fine, original take on the period. If you want a Tudor court tale, then this is a good one."
(Lovereading.co.uk

Lady-in-waiting Lucy Morgan is once again torn between her dangerous attraction to William Shakespeare and her loyalty to Queen Elizabeth I.

England is facing its gravest threat yet. The Spanish have declared war, and Elizabeth finds herself attacked by sea – and by Catholic conspiracy from within her own court. Master Goodluck goes undercover, tasked with discovering the identity of this secret assassin, leaving his ward Lucy not knowing if the spy is alive or dead. 

Meanwhile Queen Elizabeth is growing old in a court of troublesome young noblemen, while Lucy is struggling to love a man whose duties lie elsewhere.

When the final challenge comes, these two women must be ready to face it. But there is one last surprise in store for both of them …

Out with Bantam, Random House

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A Witch Rises in the States

I'm thrilled that today marks the publication of WITCHRISE, the last book in my Tudor Witch Trilogy with Harlequin Teen in the States. It's been a long time coming, but finally all three books in the trilogy are out on sale.
WITCHRISE: out now in the States

Only one witch can rise above the coming storm

When Tudor witch Meg Lytton receives an unexpected legacy—her mother's magical wand, ring and spellbook—she has no idea her future happiness is in danger. For the witchfinder Marcus Dent is back in her dreams, and he will use any weapon to gain her newfound powers for himself.

Now Meg must discover the secret of Invictus—her mother's magical ring. Summoned back to Hatfield, she knows a battle is coming. But Meg is no longer alone in her struggle against Dent. Surrounded by her friends, she faces her greatest challenge head-on: losing Alejandro, her beloved. For it seems the Spanish novice has been keeping secrets from them all.

Powers clash and hearts break in the spellbinding third book of The Tudor Witch Trilogy.

Extract:

"Face north."

Slowly I obeyed, shuffling round on bare feet. The fire had burnt low and I could see only the faintest glimmer of light through the blindfold. But the spell was familiar to me from my training as a witch.

Set four candles about the summoning circle. Four black candles for the four points of the compass.

I shivered, for despite the chill December evening I wore nothing but a simple shift. Yet I was too excited to notice the cold, my heart beating hard, my fingertips already tingling with power.

Pungent smells filled my narrow, low-ceilinged bedchamber: myrrh, juniper berries, scorched yew, and a sickly scent I did not recognize. The preparations were almost complete.

The spirits may be conjured by bell and black candle, and by the burning of churchyard yew and crow's feather.

I ought to have been afraid.

The last time I had tried this spell, I had almost destroyed everything in my world. My mistress, the Lady Elizabeth, sister to Queen Mary, had insisted on seeking advice from her dead mother, Anne Boleyn. I had managed to conjure the executed Queen's spirit, but the timing of the spell had not been auspicious. Something else had come through with her from the underworld: a cruel, dark spirit, which had threatened not only our lives with its malice, but also the whole of England.

Tonight, though, my friend Richard would be my guide, to lessen the chances of our spell going wrong again.

Besides, this time I was summoning up a spirit for my own reasons. My mistress had banished me from Hatfield House, on the advice of her old governess, Kat Ashley. The Queen had reluctantly dropped the charge of treason against her younger sister, but Elizabeth was still out of favour, and now convinced that the presence of a witch in her household—however secret—would get her arrested again. I was back with my father at our family home in Oxfordshire, but I felt certain my destiny would lead me back to the Lady Elizabeth in the future. And to stand against my enemies, to learn best how to use my powers, I needed help—a magickal help that could only come from the world of the spirits.

"Take two steps forward. Enough. You are now almost at the edge of the circle." I heard the rustle of his conjuror's robe as he rose from his knees behind me. "Wait for my word."

The bare flesh on my arms grew goose-pimpled as I waited, and not just from the cold.

I had no doubt that this summoning would succeed. Richard was apprentice to Master John Dee, the Queen's astrologer, a man famed as a conjuror and magician, and had learned the craft from his master. But this was still a dangerous spell.

Richard struck the bell three times with his athame, then raised his voice. "Hear us, spirit winds of the north! We ask that you heed our call, by the power of fire, and by the power of sacrifice."

He paused, and I guessed he must be pouring a dollop of thick, dark blood from the altar cup into his palm. "And by the power of this blood."

His wet finger brushed first my forehead and chin, then stroked from one cheek to the other, completing the sign of the cross in blood.

"May the stars look kindly on our enterprise," Richard continued in a ringing voice. "May the dead hear us and obey. By the sacred time, by the dark of the moon, by these spells and this circle, I ask that the spirit be subdued to our will and appear before us."

A thrill ran through me as Dee's apprentice turned away, beginning to chant the ninefold charm. My breathing shallow, I struggled to contain my excitement as the spell came to completion. From behind my blindfold I caught a brief flicker—the candles all dipping together—then the room grew abruptly cold, as though the spirits were approaching.

I lifted my arms in an age-old gesture of welcome, waiting for Richard to finish.

At last he leaned close to my ear, and his breath scorched my cheek. "Call her," he whispered, and I opened my mouth to obey.

But at that moment I felt a chill draught on my bare feet, then heard Richard growl under his breath in frustration.

"What do you want, Spaniard?" he demanded. "This is no place for you."

Impatiently I tore at my blindfold.

Alejandro stood framed in the doorway, his face dark with tension, raising a lantern to illuminate the room.

"What are you doing up here, Meg?" Alejandro stared first at me, then the magickal paraphernalia scattered about the chalk-drawn circle. His gaze flicked to the young man by my side. To the long shift I wore—perhaps a little scanty to be wearing when alone with another man. "And with him?"

Oh, Alejandro. What a pest you are, I thought. Yet my heart flooded with tenderness at the sight of him. My Spanish betrothed, so passionate and intense: dark-haired, dark-eyed, graceful as a dancer, both on foot and on horseback. He was strong too, muscular and broad-shouldered, skilled with a long sword, a born soldier. And glaring at Dee's apprentice with undisguised jealousy as though he intended to draw that dagger at his belt and use it.

You can read the rest of this free extract from WITCHRISE at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

And find out more about the Tudor Witch Trilogy at Goodreads!


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Witches and Assassins

I've been working on a brand-new book project this summer, which will soon be ready to go out to my agent, fingers crossed. I'm not yet ready to discuss it at any length, but it's NOT historical fiction.

Shock, horror!

HER LAST ASSASSIN: out in the UK, October 9th 2014
Meanwhile, I have a couple of new publications pending, both historical.

WITCHRISE is out in the States on September 30th with Harlequin Teen - isn't that a wonderful cover? - and HER LAST ASSASSIN, the final book in my Lucy Morgan Trilogy, is out in the UK on October 9th - or Super Thursday, as it's known in the trade!

WITCHRISE: Out Sep 30th in the US.


Please keep your fingers crossed for my new project. Also, for those gearing up for NaNoWriMo or working on new book projects this autumn, good luck with your own writing!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

WITCHRISE has risen!

I'm thrilled to announce that today is Publication Day for WITCHRISE, third and final novel in my Tudor Witch Trilogy with Random House.

It's been an exciting journey to publication of this final book, with many unexpected twists and turns, rather like Meg's own journey to the end of this tale. But we got there eventually, the two of us together, and I'm going to miss my impulsive Meg now that it's all over. And Alejandro too, with his smouldering good looks and sexy Spanish accent!

But maybe one day my young Tudor witch will return ...

Victoria x

WITCHRISE: published today!
Oxfordshire, 1555.

Meg Lytton was born with a powerful gift for magic, as her mother and aunt were before her. But practising witchcraft in Tudor England is a dangerous business - as is hiding her secret betrothal to the handsome young priest, Alejandro de Castillo.


Meg is called back into the service of Princess Elizabeth, who has fallen passionately in love with Robert Dudley - a married man. When Meg cannot foretell a happy future for Elizabeth and Dudley, the furious, tempestuous princess turns on Meg.


Even more perilous, Meg learns that her enemy, the cruel witchfinder Marcus Dent, has joined forces with none other than the dark and ruthless priests of the Spanish Inquisition. She is in greater danger than ever - and her future with Alejandro hangs in the balance.

WITCHSTRUCK (Bk 1)
WITCHFALL (Bk 2)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

WITCHRISE GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

US edition: WITCHRISE giveaway
For US and Canadian readers only, this is an excellent opportunity to get your hands on a free copy of WITCHRISE.

This Goodreads giveaway for the last book in my Tudor Witch Trilogy will be running from now until early September, when the book is published in the States.

UK edition: WITCHRISE
There will also be a WITCHRISE giveaway for UK readers very soon, never fear!

WITCHRISE is published in the UK this month.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

52 Ways To Write A Novel: a new discussion blog

A blog about getting from your first idea to this ... signing stacks of new hardbacks!
Hello there!

I now have a side-blog for those interested in writing a novel.

It's called 52 WAYS TO WRITE A NOVEL: one post every week for a year on the challenges and rewards of writing a novel.

Do come and join in the discussion. Comments from other writers and new writers are very welcome.

52 WAYS TO WRITE NOVEL.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Her Last Assassin

My latest Elizabethan court novel, HER LAST ASSASSIN (Transworld), has just been reduced on Kindle. It is currently only available in hardback and ebook.

The paperback edition of HER LAST ASSASSIN will be out in October.

HER LAST ASSASSIN: reduced on Kindle
"Very enticing and a fine, original take on the period. If you want a Tudor court tale, then this is a good one."
(Lovereading.co.uk

Out with Transworld, Random House

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Cover Reveal for WITCHRISE (UK edition)

WITCHRISE is available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle & in paperback


In WITCHRISE teen Tudor witch Meg Lytton faces her greatest peril yet when her mother's true legacy comes to light.

Can she rise to the challenge or will witchfinder Marcus Dent get there before her?

Also on Amazon US etc.
Out July in UK, September in US

Saturday, 19 April 2014

UK Young Adult Fiction Day

Today is our first UK Young Adult Fiction Day, here in the middle Saturday of our designated UKYA month, and there are many online events taking place: twitter chats and updates - see #UKYA or #UKYADay on Twitter for details - Facebook stuff and blog posts.

UK YA Day is about celebrating homegrown YA fiction in a popular genre where many readers turn to US writers for their teen fiction fix. Nothing wrong with that - we all love the great YA fiction that's been coming out of the States in recent years!

But YA writers like myself also want to give a great big shout-out to all the fantastic British authors working in the Young Adult fiction field.

So today, check out some YA fiction from UK authors - try UKYA and Project UKYA for some preliminary ideas and names - and see what all the fuss is about!

Here are two of mine ...

WITCHSTRUCK: A teen witch is servant to the imprisoned Princess Elizabeth Tudor
WITCHFALL: Teen witch Meg Lytton learns to summon spirits with Tudor conjuror John Dee

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Cover Reveal: WITCHRISE (Harlequin Teen)

I am delighted to reveal the Harlequin Teen cover of WITCHRISE, third and final novel in the Tudor Witch Trilogy. This is the cover for North America and all other territories covered by Harlequin Teen for this series.

Do leave any thoughts on this cover - or the whole series - below. Always happy to chat.

Victoria 

WITCHRISE: Find on Amazon US

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Witchfall finally lands in the States


Book Two in the TUDOR WITCH TRILOGY
from 
HARLEQUIN TEEN

Her darkest dreams are coming true 

In Tudor England, 1555, Meg Lytton has learned how powerful her magick gift can be. But danger surrounds her and her mistress, the outcast Princess Elizabeth. Nowhere is safe in the court of Elizabeth's fanatical sister, Queen Mary. And as the Spanish Inquisition's merciless priests slowly tighten their grip on the court, Meg's very dreams are disturbed by the ever-vengeful witchfinder Marcus Dent.

Even as Meg tries to use her powers to find guidance, something evil arises, impervious to Meg's spells and hungry to control England's fate. As Meg desperately tries to keep her secret betrothed, the Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo, out of harm's way, caution wars with their forbidden desire. And with her most powerful enemy poised to strike, Meg's only chance is a heartbreaking sacrifice.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Kittenness on Tumblr

Kittens and Writing Stuff on Tumblr: KITTENNESS



Oh yes, Victoria Lamb now has a Tumblr blog - KITTENNESS

--- EXPECT NOTHING SERIOUS ---

come follow

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Publication Day: HER LAST ASSASSIN

I'm delighted to announce the UK publication day for HER LAST ASSASSIN in hardback and ebook. 


PUBLICATION DAY


Lady-in-waiting Lucy Morgan is once again torn between her dangerous attraction to William Shakespeare and her loyalty to Queen Elizabeth I.

England is facing its gravest threat yet. The Spanish have declared war, and Elizabeth finds herself attacked by sea - and by Catholic conspiracy from within her own court. Master Goodluck goes undercover, tasked with discovering the identity of this secret assassin, leaving his ward Lucy not knowing if the spy is alive or dead.

Meanwhile Queen Elizabeth is growing old in a court of troublesome young noblemen, while Lucy is struggling to love a man whose duties lie elsewhere.

When the final challenge comes, these two women must be ready to face it. But there is one last surprise in store for both of them.

           Book One: THE QUEEN'S SECRET

Book Two: HIS DARK LADY

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Win a copy of HER LAST ASSASSIN

Her Last Assassin on Amazon UK
Bantam is running a Giveaway on Goodreads for my brand-new Tudor historical thriller HER LAST ASSASSIN. The giveaway is for Great Britain only, but is free to enter for Goodreads members.

Enter here: HER LAST ASSASSIN - 10 beautiful hardback copies up for grabs!

Will love or loyalty conquer?

Lady-in-waiting Lucy Morgan is once again torn between her dangerous attraction to William Shakespeare and her loyalty to Queen Elizabeth I.

England is facing its gravest threat yet. The Spanish have declared war, and Elizabeth finds herself attacked by sea – and by Catholic conspiracy from within her own court. Master Goodluck goes undercover, tasked with discovering the identity of this secret assassin, leaving his ward Lucy not knowing if the spy is alive or dead.

Meanwhile Queen Elizabeth is growing old in a court of troublesome young noblemen, while Lucy is struggling to love a man whose duties lie elsewhere.

When the final challenge comes, these two women must be ready to face it. But there is one last surprise in store for both of them …

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Win an ARC of WITCHFALL on Goodreads

WITCHFALL on Amazon
On Goodreads?

Enter the Harlequin Teen Goodreads Giveaway to win 1 of 15 Advanced Reader Copies of my forthcoming US edition of WITCHFALL!


Territories: US and Canada

London, 1554. At the court of Mary Tudor, life is safe for no one. The jealous, embittered queen sees enemies all around her, and the infamous Spanish Inquisition holds the court in its merciless grip. But Meg Lytton has more reason to be afraid than most - for Meg is a witch, and exposure would mean certain death. Even more perilous, Meg is secretly betrothed to the young priest Alejandro de Castillo; a relationship which they must hide at all costs.

In the service of the queen's sister, Princess Elizabeth, Meg tries to use her powers to foretell her mistress's future. But when a spell goes terribly wrong, and Meg begins to have horrifying dreams, she fears she has released a dark spirit into the world, intent on harming her and those around her.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE: GOODREADS.

Friday, 7 February 2014

"Lost From Her Majesty's Back"

In Tudor films, you often see the women slipping easily out of their gowns at bedtime. But in reality, their clothing was a fiendish affair, which would have left modern women ready to scream.

Poor women and lesser gentry might be able to get away with a smock-like one piece gown, pulled simply over the head. But wealthy Tudor woman had to contend with layers of clothing, some of which had to be fastened together as they were put on.

Underwear was, of course, non-existent. 'Drawers' were not worn until much later. So both commoners and high-born ladies would have wandered about fancy-free - which explains, perhaps, how so many women managed to get pregnant at a court where unmarried ladies were watched so closely!

There is not much evidence about ways of dealing with menstruation, but women probably had a belt that allowed loincloth-style protection involving 'wallops', or rolls of linen, most likely folded. More on that fascinating topic can be found under this post at On the Tudor Trail.


"Draughty today, isn't it?" (Sketch by Hans Holbein the Younger. British Museum.)
The kirtle or foreskirt went over any other undergarments - such as a shift, or what we might call a full-length 'slip' today. It often had a plain back and a highly decorative front panel, especially if the lady's family was wealthy and she wished to demonstrate that with fine and expensive materials. Sometimes the kirtle was already attached to a bodice, but might also be laced into place at the time.

Over this would be hung an overskirt with a wide V-style opening to reveal the decorative kirtle. In the later Elizabethan era, a hoop or farthingale might be worn below the kirtle to swell it out like a bell. A "bum-roll" was also used to help support this structure and to provide contrast between the narrow waist and chest - helped along by a stiffened or bone-strengthened bodice holding a lady's assets down - and the swaying skirts.


'Psst, I think one of my sleeves is coming unfastened!" (The Family of Thomas More)
Sleeves were normally separate from the rest of the gown, and could be worn in a mix and match way, so that women might have "favourite" sleeves which they used with different gowns. These would be tied on with laces or ribbons. For some of Queen Elizabeth I's more elaborate outfits, however, it was not unusual for the sleeves to be so heavy with fur trimmings or jewels, they would need to be sewn on at the time of dressing. The stitches would then be patiently unpicked by her small army of ladies-in-waiting at the end of the day.

Only imagine the boredom of such a lengthy disrobing ritual, which for Queen Elizabeth could take as long as four hours! Perhaps the literary cliche of lusty gentlemen ripping high-born ladies' bodices off in sheer frustration may not be so far from the truth.

All these expensive clothes would have been stored in chests that accompanied the queen everywhere, including on visits away from her royal palaces, and were guarded zealously by the Keeper of the Royal Wardrobe and his or her assistants. The Keeper was a man during King Henry's day, but the task more typically fell to women once Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were on the throne. Jobs connected to the Royal Wardrobe were highly specialised and experts from outside the court were often brought in or given commissions for upkeep and preparation of special garments. There were 'silkmen', artisans and seamstresses on hand, as well as expert laundry workers, constantly available to deal with royal demand.

Any jewels which snagged and fell off unnoticed while Queen Elizabeth was out walking would be marked down in a Day Book now charmingly known as 'Lost From Her Majesties Back', which was kept religiously by her ladies. Every tiny pearl that disappeared from a sleeve or hem was noted down in this book, presumably allowing replacements to be ordered.

Given how many lost jewels appear in this book, it must have been quite a worthwhile pursuit to follow the queen about on state occasions, hoping to grab any lost jewels as they fell from her gowns, some of which were fairly bristling with expensive jewels - a point made by Janet Arnold in her fascinating book, Lost from Her Majesty's Back (The Costume Society, 1980), which may be available from some university libraries if looking to pursue this topic further.


A shorter version of this post first appeared in 2012 at English Historical Fiction Authors

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Astro Heroes: Throwback Link

Here's a throwback to a fun post I did last summer.

CONFESSION TIME: I have a lifelong interest in casting horoscopes, and a Certificate in Astrology from the Faculty of Astrological Studies in London, gained in my twenties. Even now, I still check my astrological transits most weeks, and try to work with my strengths as revealed by my horoscope. One of my favourite things on meeting a great new person is to check their birth data - where I have it - against the planetary positions, and have a sneaky look what kind of people they are.

Astrology is a fascinating discipline, and has been part of human life for many thousands of years, but I never allow myself to become totally bound by it. I believe in the middle way wherever possible.

Are you interested in astrology and fiction, especially Young Adult fiction?

Then take a peek at my ASTRO HEROES wheel, a blog post about fictional heroes and their possible star signs, written by me and with an interactive 'astro-wheel' beautifully designed by the IT folks at Totally Random.