Parthena’s Promise – new Kindle release !

Parthena's Promise (1)
Click the cover to go direct to Amazon!

England, 1815

London barrister and gentleman, Jerome Fender, has just returned to England after five years as a Captain in the killing fields of the Napoleonic Wars.

With the harrowing scenes of battle still haunting his every thought, he sets out to start a new life and to find a wife who will share it with him.

Meanwhile recently orphaned 21-year-old Miss Parthena Munro has also arrived at a North Yorkshire market town.

She has been sent away by her scheming sole relative, cousin Bertram, to be governess to a local family, only to find that the family has already moved away from the area.

Left stranded far from home with no job and no place to stay, Parthena encounters Mr Fender outside an inn, where she takes a chance to steal his money in a witless moment of desperation.

She whispers a promise to return the money one day and makes off across the wild Yorkshire moors.
But it’s not long before Fender catches up with her.

Set during 19th century England, Parthena’s Promise leads the reader on a spirited journey to consider if justice and true love are possible in a society on the turning point of change.

Ellie Promo

Laura’s Legacy – New from Endeavour Press!

Laura's Legacy

Laura’s story begins fifteen years after the fire that nearly destroyed Ebton in To Love Honour and Obey.
1820 Ebton, England.

Laura Pennington’s parents think it is time for her to marry, but they are concerned. She likes to take long walks by herself, and doesn’t quite fit in. Laura’s father, Obadiah, thinks local mill owner Daniel Tranton is the perfect husband for Laura, so he suggests marriage to Daniel while working on a business deal.

Daniel is not keen, but does not want to lose Pennington’s business. He is not sure what to do, as he has his hands full with disgruntled mill workers. Daniel has always treated his workers well, but that is the exception, not the rule.

A new problem arises, when Jeb, a young boy who works for Daniel’s cousin Roderick, runs away from the mill where he works. Daniel, not wanting to see him captured and beaten by the local louts who enforce the law, tries to track him down. He finds Laura hiding Jeb, who she stumbled upon while out on one of her walks.

Roderick has his henchman Mr Bullman hunting for Jeb as Laura hides him at her father’s boat house.
Checking on him one morning, Laura sees the boat is gone, but it’s seeing her father stepping out from the hotel he owns that shocks her the most.

For all his efforts to make Laura a lady, it seems Mr. Pennington is not a gentleman.
With the hint of revolution in the air, will Daniel and Laura find a love worth fighting for?
Laura’s Legacy is a historical tale of romance and family strife in a past world.

Laura’s Legacy is availble on Amazon Kindle

An Interview with Amy Durant

Amy Durant
Amy Durant, Publishing Director of Endeavour Press

Where did your love of books originate?

My dad is a children’s book author, and he worked at Walker Books when I was little, so I grew up surrounded by books, and I fell in love with reading from an early age.
Do you have a favourite genre?
My favourite genres are historical fiction and literary fiction, although I read everything from sci-fi to military history.
Have you any desire to write a novel?
Yes, I have a few ideas and I hope to write something myself eventually.
What was your route into the publishing industry?
I was quite lucky – the first internship I undertook landed me a job! After completing my MA in contemporary literature, I applied to a few internships and a was taken on for a month with Endeavour Press. Straight after that I began working with them full-time as a publishing assistant, and now I act as Publishing Director.
How has Endeavour Press evolved in the time since it first took up the challenge of becoming the UK’s leading independent publisher?
Endeavour Press has evolved enormously since I first started work with them in January 2013. Back then we were publishing around 15 books month, and we only had about fifty authors on our books. Now we have five new imprints (Endeavour Press Germany, Venture Press, Pioneering Press, Albion Press and Endeavour Press Creative) and in total we publish 30 books a week, and we have a list of over 500 authors.
Could you tell us about the History Festival and what has been planned?
The virtual history festival we have set up will run from the 18-22 April. We have 50 authors signed up, some from Endeavour Press, and some from other publishing houses, and we will be running various online events, mainly on Twitter and Goodreads. They will include competitions, author interviews, reader Q&As, cover reveals and exclusive extracts from upcoming novels.
What is next for Amy and Endeavour Press?
The great thing about Endeavour Press is you never know what is around the corner! We are in talks about launching more imprints this year, and we are always scouting for new authors to work with. I have also just started a part-time PhD on English women’s writing in the seventeenth century, so hopefully I will be able to find some interesting forgotten texts to add to our classic books imprint.
Endeavour Press logo

A Stolen Heart – Download it for Free!

A special promotion for my readers!

If you love the adventure with mystery combined then download A Stolen Heart from Amazon today.

stolen_heart
Miss Ruth Grainger’s coach jolts to an abrupt halt when it is stopped by a highwayman.

Fearing for her life she is surprised when this highwayman seeks only to retrieve papers carried by a fellow traveller, her guardian, Mr Robert Grentham’s business associate, Mr Archibald Upton.

Ruth abhors thievery, but she is even more disgusted by the cowardice of the man, Upton, as he uses her as a shield.

Released unharmed, she is haunted by the dark blue eyes of the stranger.

What is his connection to Upton? And what is in the papers he was so intent on stealing?

Ruth returns to Grentham’s home, and along with his silly, young wife Eliza, prepares for an upcoming ball.

Little does she know that Grentham is orchestrating events so that the despicable Upton will become her husband.

As Ruth starts to suspect the truth, another stranger steps into her life, and once more she is bewitched by a pair of blue eyes …

Headstrong and independent Ruth is determined to marry for love, and on her own terms.

But everyone around her has other ideas …

Will Ruth be forced into a match she doesn’t desire?

Or will she end up with the man who has stolen her heart …?

A Stolen Heart is a charming regency romance about mistaken identities, and following your heart’s true path.

Promotion ends Sunday!

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Writing: In the beginning!

For the Love of Writing

From years of writing experience I have discovered that one aspect that should never be undervalued is how the process of writing will affect your health. So before we actually discuss what is going to be written or how in future blog posts – be it a short story, novella, or novel – you need to think a bit about the practicalities.
Writing even a few thousand words requires sitting down for hours and this does, or can, impact on your health mainly because of bad posture. I am not medically qualified to give specific advice but I find considering the following helps.

  • Investing in a good chair that can be adjusted for height and back support. I have written whilst perched on a chair in a shed, the kitchen, or whilst travelling. This is fine for short bursts.
  • Try not to cross your legs. I am terrible at taking this advice as the more absorbed I am in what I am doing my legs will automatically gravitate under my chair. However, it is better not to do this.
  • Take breaks. When a plot is working well and you are in there with your protagonist, time can slip away. RSI is no joke, your body is not a machine, shoulders get hunched and tense. So change posture. Stand, walk, literally take a break and do a completely different set of activities that are the opposite of the static writing activity.
  • Give your eyes a break from the screen too.
    Feed the brain and body. I have lost track of how many hot drinks I have made only for them to be left half full (or half empty! ) and cold, because I was too involved in what I was doing.
  • You want to enjoy the whole process preferably when you’re sitting comfortably.

What tips work for you?

 

 

Potting Sheds and Pondering

308.JPG

In a very picturesque North Yorkshire village called Hutton-le-hole there is an amazing museum of rural life.
http://www.ryedalefolkmuseum.co.uk/

The buildings link the lifestyle of people in the region throughout the centuries. Folklore, husbandry, social history and crafts, such as: rope making, wheel hooping, saddlery, woodturning and hayrake making are demonstrated to name but a few.

The atmospheric buildings span history from Iron Age to the 1950’s showing the way of life of their inhabitants. It is a great place to take children to show them how we arrived at the lifestyle we have today. By going back to basics they, and adults, can see how labour intensive surviving day to day was. Food had to be grown, harvested or killed and prepared. Clothes had to be made from cloth that was woven or leather that was skinned and tanned. Food was prepared in advance of harsher seasons and had to be safely stored.

Before the Internet and our technological ways information was rarer and precious. News travelled slowly and superstition was rife. Ignorance was not bliss when it came to accusing people out of fear. However, people knew far more about the land and what it gave us that we could use for survival than we generally know today.

I find history fascinating. I love seeing a snippet of yesteryear within various different ages. I imagine characters and the adventures they could have had, set within my favourite periods in time. However, I am rarely nostalgic. When asked I have to say that I would never want to live in a time before antibiotics, washing machines, cars and computers. I love learning from history, but one thing I have learnt is that life was harsh but unfortunately wars still happen. Some lessons are never learnt it seems.

On a lighter note, I found the medieval hall, cottages and herb garden fascinating, but it was the simple potting shed that inspired a tranquil setting for a scene from Thomas’ father’s recovery in Stolen Treasure.

Extract from Stolen Treasure:

Thomas put down the bag and stepped into the half-light inside.
His father was sitting, just as he used to, on a stool with a chisel in one hand and a small mallet in the other as he worked at fixing a broken gate latch.
“Well, doctor, put your potions aside, for I’ll take none. Say your business and leave!” He looked up. “I am not in need of a doctor of body nor mind, so you have had a wasted journey. Whoever sent you will have to be disappointed.”
Thomas slowly removed his hat and propped it on top of the discarded bag. He then stepped a pace nearer to his father. “Pa… Pa what happened? Tell me the truth of it for it is I, Tom?”
His father’s tired eyes squinted and focused on his son’s face. He looked shocked, the chisel fell from his hand, but the mallet was still raised. “Tom, is it really you?” his voice cracked with emotion as he uttered the words.
Thomas stepped forward. “Yes, it is! I sent letters…”
The man stood. “You!” he muttered as he rushed forward.
Thomas opened his arms, but the mallet was still raised high.

 

New book launch!

To Love, Honour and Obey

Buy on Amazon!
Australia | Brazil | Canada | France | Germany | India | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Netherlands | Spain | United States of America | United Kingdom

To Love Honour And Obey

1805

Six years ago, Willoughby Rossington’s father was murdered while searching for the kingpin of a smuggling and spy ring. Taken under the wing of his uncle, who is running a counter-intelligence operation against Napoleon’s spies, Willoughby is assigned to take up his father’s last mission—and, hopefully, in the process find who killed his father and bring them to justice.

He encounters a young woman, Beth, who works at the local inn. Her spark and resilience against her master’s attempts to break her will strike a chord in him and he, albeit reluctantly, takes her with him when he leaves town.

As they begin to talk, he finds out that her master is more involved in the ring that could have been thought. She overheard things and knows things about the seedy side of villages that could be helpful to him and his mission.

Though Beth hasn’t had the opportunity for education, she’s smart and quite cunning while still maintaining a child-like wonder. Even as Willoughby makes plans to set her up with a family in order to protect her from the perils of his mission, he finds himself a bit melancholy at the thought of losing her company.

Beth is having none of it. She knows she can be of help to Willoughby and isn’t going to be left behind now that she’s found someone nice. Part on purpose, partly because of fate, their two lives become intertwined as they race against the villains that plot to destroy them both.

Will they uncover the truth behind the smuggling ring and find who is responsible for Willoughby’s father’s death?

 

An Interview with Margaret James and Cathie Hartigan

I am delighted to welcome two successful writers and tutors of creative writing to my blog this month, Margaret James and Cathie Hartigan.

Margaret has been a shining light to me and many unpublished authors as she was the New Writers’ Scheme Organiser for the Romantic Novelists’ Association when I first became published. Cathie is a prolific writer, lecturer and founder of CreativeWritingMatters.

Welcome!

Hello, Valerie –thank you for inviting us to chat with you! It’s lovely to be here.

You are both successful writers so my first question must be where did your own writing journeys begin?

Margaret: I started writing short stories while my children were still babies and eventually I began selling them to women’s magazines.

Cathie: I was a hobby writer until about ten years ago, but after a foundation course with the Open College of Arts, I began having success in short story competitions. Since then I have taken my hobby much more seriously.

CreativeWritingMatters is the inspirational name of the business you founded along with Sophie Duffy. I love the logo. Could you tell us about CreativeWritingMatters and how it came into being?

Cathie: CreativeWritingMatters came into being when I left teaching in mainstream education. The flexibility of being freelance meant we could offer workshops and short courses on all aspects of writing. The competitions came later following the success of a flash competition that we ran for our students.

The name came about because of a conversation I had, during which I became rather too vehement about the importance of creative writing. ‘Creative writing matters,’ I heard myself shriek. Our logo features Sophie’s cat, Henry, the star of her story in our Cat Walks ebook. He’s perky and forward-looking, just like the three of us!

You have jointly written an excellent handbook and a workbook on aspects of creative writing so obviously have a great working relationship, but how do you set about working on a non-fiction joint project as opposed to your independent fiction?

Margaret: I first met Cathie when she joined my local writing group, Exeter Writers. I loved her short stories and she was kind enough to say she liked my own writing, too. We collaborated on producing an anthology of members’ work and found we got on very well. We both teach creative writing (Cathie teaches face-to-face while I teach online) and, after we’d finished editing and producing the anthology, we decided to write a guidebook for our students.

When we wrote The Creative Writing Student’s Handbook, we wrote alternate chapters and then we swapped files and edited these chapters. It all seemed to work well! But when we wrote The Short Story Writer’s Workbook, Cathie wrote the whole of the first draft and then I did a heavy edit, making the second draft twice as long as the first. This approach worked very well, too. We find our non-fiction writing styles are very similar. A few months down the line, we often can’t remember who wrote what.

Will there be more in this series?

We enjoy working together so we intend to produce a handbook for novelists and we have other projects in the pipeline, too. We hope to produce some more anthologies featuring either our own work or that of other people.

You are both very experienced tutors so I would like to ask:-

Margaret, what three tips would you give to an aspiring unpublished novel writer?

  1. Plan your story and know roughly how you want it to end. But don’t be too rigid in your planning. Be prepared for the story to change and grow while you write.
  2. Your reader should want to spend time with your characters. So don’t write about people you don’t actually like or don’t find very interesting yourself. Your characters ought to be your friends.
  3. A novel is a big project. So whenever you get tired or disenchanted – which you almost certainly will – take some time out to reflect and to think about how and where you want this story to go.

Cathie, what three tips would you give to an aspiring unpublished writer of short stories?

  1. Use vivid and specific details that tell a lot, rather than generalisations. If a character puts up an umbrella, we don’t need to be told it’s raining.
  2. How much time you have to set up your story depends on the number of words that have been stipulated by the competition or magazine. Your story needs to develop and reach its resolution without a sudden rush at the end. Once finished, check the balance of set up, development and resolution, then be prepared to cut ruthlessly at the beginning.
  3. Use dialogue and gesture to reveal character rather than word-hungry narrative.

The Exeter Novel Prize is going from strength to strength, what inspired this, and how do you see it evolving?

Margaret: The Exeter Novel Prize came into being because it filled a gap in the world of novel-writing competitions. It’s open to previously published and also self-published novelists. There is more information here: http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk/2015-exeter-novel-prize.html

Will there be a CreativeWritingMatters short story competition in 2016? If so, what advice would you give to entrants?

CreativeWritingMatters runs lots of competitions for both short and longer fiction, so here is some general advice.

  • Read the rules.
  • Abide by the rules.
  • Start your story as something interesting happens.
  • Round off your story with a satisfying ending.
Read Making the Grade by Cathie Hartigan
Read Cathie Hartigan’s story, Making the Grade!

What is next for Cathie and Margaret, jointly or independently?

Margaret: I’m about to start the second draft of a novel and to plan a new non-fiction project that has nothing to do with writing.

Cathie: My debut novel, Secret of the Song will be out later this year and there will also be another collection of stories by the three of us at CreativeWritingMatters. Right now, the characters in my next novel are twitching for me to get on with it.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and advice with my readers.

Thank you for inviting us! It’s been great to talk to you.

The Baker’s Apprentice

Buy and read now!

US Readers: iTunes / Nook / Kobo

UK Readers: iTunes / Nook / Kobo

Molly Mason dreams of escaping from the control of Mrs Cresswell, her step-mother, by becoming an apprentice to her friend who owns the local bakery. This ill thought-out plan is stopped when Juniper Cresswell’s fiancé, war hero Lt. Cherry, returns accompanied with a soldier who had been presumed dead. The soldier brings with him suspicions of murder, mystery and the key to Molly’s heart.