Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Those of you who follow this blog will know that my novel, Ring of Lies, has been turned into an audiobook. Narrated by Michelle Ford and produced by Dave Giorgio,  it is now available from Audible and Amazon, and will soon be available from iTunes too.

Even though I regularly listen to audiobooks, and had read the book countless times myself, I hadn't realised how much work goes into making a really good listening experience.  It is an art form in its own right.  A good narrator must also be a skilled actor, and 'play' all the roles in the story, giving each character a different voice.  Just reading the words on the page is not suffice.  The narrator has to bring the characters to life so that you feel their happiness, their anxiousness, and even their pain. Those of you who have read the print version know that the story crosses International borders and includes characters from the UK, America, and Mexico.  Michelle handled the accents beautifully.

I must also thank Dave Giorgio of BookRite Books, for his sterling work in producing not only a crystal clear recording, but for also liaising with Audible to make the recording available in time for Christmas.

Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to wish all my readers and everybody who has attended one of my events and their families a Merry Christmas.  I appreciate all the support you have given me in 2013 and wish you a Happy and Prosperous 2014.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013


The audiobook version of my novel, Ring of Lies, is now complete.  Produced by Dave Giorgio and narrated by Michelle Ford, it will be available shortly from Audible, Amazon and iTunes.  

You can listen to a sample here:  Ring of Lies Audiobook  

I recently interviewed Michelle and asked her, among other questions, whether she made the conscious decision to become a voiceover artist or did she have another career path in mind as a teenager. 

I was always focused on working in the media.  My first job was with the BBC in London as a secretary and then as a production assistant for Radio 1.  I spent the next several years working in public relations for Disney theme parks - can't tell you how much fun it was introducing cynical journalists to Mickey Mouse and seeing them love Disney despite themselves!  When life took me overseas to live in America someone told me I had a 'cute accent' and suggested I think about voiceovers.  A ton of training later..... and I couldn't choose a more perfect job!

Did you attend a stage or drama school? Have you undertaken any voice training?

I didn't go to drama school but I've been involved in amateur dramatics for a long time.  Once I decided to pursue voiceovers I really went for it and I've been lucky enough to train with amazing teachers in Philadelphia and New York.  From an audiobook point of view I honestly think reading daily with my three children when they were young and doing all the characters and voices made me love telling stories.

Do you schedule a specific time each day to record?

That's so hard to do.  Working from home has huge benefits but family comes first and often my kids don't think my 'job' is a real one - in as much as they think how hard can it be to narrate stories all day!  So I'm still doing multiple school runs, involved in community groups and cooking dinner.  However working from home does mean I can be very flexible.  Often I'll work all morning, stop to get kids and have a cup of tea with them after school then start again as soon as dinner is over, recording until midnight (or until my voice gets tired and croaky, whichever is the sooner!).

I note that you have your own studio.  Are there any distractions with working from a home studio? 

Yes!  Although my studio is acoustically treated and as soundproofed as possible, I can't tell you how my heart sinks when I see landscape gardeners pull up on our street to blow leaves or see a sign up nearby saying a new house is to be built.  I know nearly everyone with home studios has these issues.  But again, as I'm flexible with my hours, I just adjust.  When I can hear a chainsaw I just go and do laundry or get started on dinner then pick up later when it stops.
After Superstorm Sandy (I live in New Jersey), every single day the noise was unbelievable for weeks - and that was once we finally got power again after 10 days.

When reading for an audiobook how do you achieve the author and character’s voice?

Well to start with I read the entire book and make notes about each character as I go.  Your book Ring of Lies is a good case in point.  It was not until the last five pages of the book that Salazar was revealed to be Eurasian with Chinese/Portuguese parents!  If I hadn't read through to the end undoubtedly I would probably have given him more of a Spanish accent.  As it was I tried to mix it up a bit so he just sounded unplaceable European.
Once I have a more rounded idea of the characters I can give them their voice which I really think comes from the author.  I try to always 'tag' the character with a certain pitch, tone, speed of talking and be consistent.  Of course, for a female narrator, the men are the hardest but I try to avoid going too deep and pantomime with them.  Sometimes its enough to drop my voice just a little to distinguish from others in the scene.

How do you feel when you hear your own voice on a recording?

Eek!  It sounds so different from how I think I sound.  There's magic in that microphone - talk to me on the phone and I sound about 12 years old!

You’ve recorded books for a variety of publishers, is there any one book or genre that stands out?  Do you have a favourite?

I must admit I really enjoy a good thriller with a bit of romance thrown in.  My voice suits Regency romances but I spend half the time recording with a permanent blush when there's more 'plundering' than I feel totally comfortable with!
I was privileged to narrate Fay Weldon's book The Hearts and Lives of Men earlier this year and, as part of my research, I got to Skype with her and talk about characters.  Such a great author.
Also narrated a Bridget Jones/Sophie Kinsella-style book recently called Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan.  That character would totally be me if I weren't happily married!

What kind of books do you like to read for pleasure? 

I'm in a local book club so I'll read whatever is on the menu for that.  Recently I read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and that really resonated with me.  Literally sat on my sofa at the end and bawled (but not because it was sad - my friends had a similar reaction). Unfortunately it was all based in Australia and my Ozzie accent just wouldn't cut it otherwise I'd be banging on the door of that publisher desperate to record it.
Since June though I just haven't had the time to read almost anything for pleasure.  Definitely time to schedule some reading.

Do you have a regular fan base?

I wish!  Not really sure.  I occasionally (nervously) dip into the reviews of books I've narrated and fortunately there seem to be readers who seek me out.  My fragile actor ego gets hurt sometimes (Carolyn from Newark, you know who you are!! and btw I did my best with a Scottish accent).  Its really only in the last 18 months that I've been doing audiobooks nonstop.  Prior to this and in between, I record lots of e-learning material, commercials, corporate work, websites and so on.

Thank you, Michelle, for taking time out of your busy day to talk to me.

You can find out more about Michelle by clicking on the following links:

To celebrate the release of the audiobook, I am giving away a Kobo Mini ereader.  All you have to do is sign up to this blog or my website http://www.victoriahoward.co.uk to enter.  The draw will take place on the 20th December.  

Monday, 25 November 2013

Please Welcome Guest Author - Rachel Brimble

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Brimble.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start writing?

I’ve been married to my wonderful husband for 15 years and we have a teen and pre-teen daughter as well as my beloved black Lab, Max. I grew up in Bristol before moving to Wiltshire in 2001. I love being close to the countryside in one direction and the bustling Georgian city of Bath in the other.
I started writing toward publication when my youngest daughter started school full-time in 2005. The Wild Rose Press published my first novel in 2007 and I’ve had at least one novel a year published since. Harlequin Superromance publishes my latest contemporary romances and Kensington publishes my Victorian romances.

You’ve written several highly rated Romantic novels, including historical and suspense. Tell us about your books and what inspires you to write.
Aww, thank you for saying my books have been highly rated, that means a lot to me! I love writing contemporary and historical novels alternately – it keeps my mind fresh and hopefully my readers’ too! My editor at Harlequin (contemporary) is happy for me to write mainstream romance or romantic suspense in my current series, which is great. So far, I’ve written two of each and contracted for one more – I’m thinking this last one will be romantic suspense. I feel a murder coming on!
My Victorian romances are also linked by a secondary character in previous book, becoming the hero or heroine in the next book. I am contracted with Kensington to write two more by June 2015 which will be four in total. As for inspiration? That comes in the form of deadlines, lol!

Describe your writing process. When and where do you write?
I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mum so I treat my writing like a job and write from 8.30 to 3.30pm during the week and as much as family time allows over the weekend. My laptop is always turned off by 7pm for my relaxation – ie bath, followed by a glass of wine in front of the TV.
Where do your ideas come from?  Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
This can vary. Most of the time my inspiration comes from a premise and then I create a synopsis and character sketches which usually bring forth the conflicts.
How long does it take you to write a book? What research. If any, do you undertake when planning your book?

It usually takes me around six months to write a 85,000 word novel – my research is very limited, in that I focus on emotion more than anything else. For my Victorian novels, I make sure I have etiquette and social standing as spot on as I can, but again, the emotions are the focus of the book and love, hate, jealousy, greed and joy were the same in the 1800s as they are now.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A bit of both – I am becoming more of a pantser as time goes on but my work in progress is becoming a nightmare so I will definitely be plotting the next one more thoroughly. I like to start with a three page synopsis as an outline, character sketches for the hero, hero and villain, if I have one. After that, I dive straight in and write the first draft from start to finish without looking back. The hard part comes in the following drafts!

Of all your characters, do you have a favourite?

Oooh, difficult question! One of my favourite heroes is Will Samson from my Kensington debut, The Seduction of Emily…and one of my favourite heroines is Cat Forrester from my Harlequin debut Finding Justice. In fact, I like Cat so much she’s appeared in every book in the series so far and I’m on book four, lol!

Do you work with a writing/critique group?

I have three fantastic critique partners who I couldn’t be without – they are thorough but entirely constructive and I would be half the writer I am today without them. We work really well together and I hope we continue to do so for years to come. We met online and have never met in person so maybe one day I’ll fly to the States just to meet them. Why not??

What advice would you give to someone thinking of writing their first novel?

Write! That’s it – so many people want to write but don’t actually do it. Write your novel, attend as much workshops as you can and listen to people who have made their way through the writing gauntlet. I enrolled in many affordable, online writing classes when I started out and they were invaluable. Also, join a writers group and/or association like the Romantic Novelists Association. Talking to other writers is really, really important. Good luck!

Rachel’s latest book is A Man Like Him (book 2 in her Harlequin series) and available now. Here’s the blurb and buy links:

Changing her life...again 

After two years in hiding, Angela Taylor knows her independence is worth it. As long as she can escape her past, she has everything under control. Until a flash flood hits the park where she works, and hot Chris Forrester shows up the exact moment she needs a hero. 

Chris proves he can save lives-and weaken a girl's knees. But how can she make him understand that she's off-limits, that getting close to her will endanger his life? Her happiness or his safety: it shouldn't even be a choice.

Because when you love someone, you protect them, no matter the cost. At least, that's what Angela keeps telling herself....

A Man Like his is available from:


Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK.  After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. In 2012, she sold two books to Harlequin Superromance and a further three in 2013. She also writes Victorian romance for Kensington--her debut was released in April 2013 and she has since signed for three more.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family and beloved black Lab, Max. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!


Wednesday, 30 October 2013


I am delighted to welcome Aaron Paul Lazar.  Aaron is the award winning author of the GUS LEGARDE,  SAM MOORE and TALL PINES MYSTERIES, in addition to three WRITE LIKE THE WIND writing guides.  Aaron has just released his first romantic suspense novel, THE SEACREST, which is available from Amazon

When I first started writing the LeGarde Mystery series in 2001, my daughters were teenagers. I was very careful to imply desire, to hint at bedroom scenes, and to be sure all references to intimate sexual relations were confined to a healthy marriage.

After all, I couldn’t let them think that Dad “thought” like that, or that I blithely wrote about all the things about which I constantly warned them.

Raising girls in late nineties and early in the millennium was not easy. Social pressures abounded. From what I heard, most of my daughters’ classmates lost their virginity in middle school, and if you were one of the few who didn’t have a boyfriend, you were an outcast, a reject who wasn’t worthy of friendship.

It drove me absolutely nuts.

So I was very careful not to write about things I preached against, and thus my first and even second mystery series were quite wholesome. (LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries) Not that Gus and Camille had more than a Victorian relationship until they were married. Sure, Gus longed for Camille in a very real and normal fashion. But he respected her past – a sad life with her abusive ex-husband – and he also had trouble ridding himself of his long time allegiance to his wife Elsbeth, who’d passed before the first book was written.

By the time I was working on my third LeGarde book, my star-crossed couple was finally united in marriage, and I wanted to write their honeymoon consummation scene. It was important for me to show Gus’s tenderness and his gentle treatment of his bride. And after all, my fans had been waiting a while for this moment. I had more than a few letters from readers (mostly men), asking when the heck Gus was gonna get the girl, so to speak.

Something funny happened around the time I wrote Mazurka. I realized that my girls were not reading my work, (not much, anyway) nor were they in the least excited about Dad’s writing career, awards, or publishing credits.

No, their lives consisted only of real relationships, school plays, and boys, boys, boys.

How do you think I got this sprinkling of silver on my temples?

As difficult as it was in this phase of their development, it did free me up to write a bit more spontaneously. So I penned the scenes with tasteful romance, including only a few references (again implied) about the actual acts involved.

With a feeling of relief, I just relaxed and where it seemed appropriate, included some new scenes for my readers, including a shower scene after Gus and Camille were almost killed in the underground Parisian Catacombs. It was an affirmation-of-life type of scene, and gave me the freedom to experiment with some scenes.

“The soap and water streamed down her skin, intimate in its contact, curving along her hips and down her thighs to her feet. As we lathered each other, a mad desire to celebrate life consumed me. My lips touched hers. She hesitated for a moment, looked up at me through long, wet lashes, and then kissed me back.
It was different from the first time, almost frantic now. There was no shame in her eyes, no glimmering ghosts of our past. Although some of my injuries ached when we pressed together against the shower wall, the warm, moist coupling washed away the blood and pain.
When it was over, we embraced beneath the spray. Without warning, I choked up. She began to shake and looked at me. I recognized the hot burst of emotion that seared and welled in her eyes.
I fluttered sweet kisses over her mouth so she wouldn’t cry. She circled my waist with her arms, and kissed me back urgently. Dark hair streamed down her back as the water flowed through her sodden curls. She lay her wet face against my shoulder and held me tight.”

The above scene is pretty darned tame, isn’t it? But for me, it was a big step! It felt good to release some of the scenes I’d always wanted to write, and I continued in that vein for a few years.

By the time I’d written seven more LeGarde Mysteries and three Moore Mysteries (featuring the green marble, a talisman between Sam Moore and his long-dead little brother Billy), I realized no matter how many free copies I’d give my daughters, they just weren’t interested in reading that much. Now they’re all adults with husbands and kids and it was time for me to let loose with whatever I wanted to write. And if they somehow, some day discovered that Dad had thoughts like a real man, well, so be it. LOL. All of these books were written from a guy’s point of view. That’s when things changed!

I began a new series, Tall Pines Mystery series (For the Birds, Essentially Yours, Sanctuary, Murder on the Sacandaga), writing from inside the head of Marcella Hollister, wife to Quinn and former lover to Sky Lissonneau.

Before, writing from a guy’s point of view was easy, really, because both Gus LeGarde and Sam Moore share many qualities with me. Sure, they have their own personalities and possess unique strengths and weaknesses, but I didn’t have to stretch to imagine Gus’s passion for Camille, or Sam Moore’s sensual memories about his wife in the early years before she got MS. It was easy to picture these charming women characters. Longing for them came naturally, and I pretty much used the feelings I’ve had all my life for my wife, Dale, who happens to have resembled these ladies at various points in her life.

But when I decided to challenge myself and start my new Tall Pines series from a woman’s point of view, I hadn’t thought about the sexual aspect of the job. No, I hadn’t thought how it would sound when I read the book aloud to audiences (like I do today), telling them to picture me female, five-nine, with dark hair to my shoulders and talking through my protagonist’s voice about how luscious her man looked in his open-fronted shirt.

Here’s what I mean. This section is from Essentially Yours, book 2 in the Tall Pines series:

“Unbidden, scenes from our youth tapped at the edge of my mind’s vision. I felt the warm breeze blowing across my bare back while we lay in Sky’s family’s pontoon boat in the middle of Honeoye Lake at midnight. His feathered touch traced my spine; his fingers trailed around my hips and lower. I pictured the blond curly hair on his strong, young chest; the hard body that lay beneath the soft fuzz.
Damn. He’d been amazing. And he’d really cared about how I felt, if I’d been satisfied. I figured I’d been lucky. Most teenage boys rushed to conquer their hill, uncaring of the pain or condition of their lovers’ bodies. And most girls just took it, thinking it was part of the “first time,” anticipated hell.
Yet, Sky had read extensively before he approached me, looking up oriental techniques I’d never heard of. He’d known about special places that make a woman moan in pleasure. Made me moan in pleasure. Focused and careful, he’d done embarrassing things that made me crazy, disappearing beneath the blanket for long spells of time. He’d worked on me until moisture coated all of my tender parts. And he’d waited until I was so ready I didn’t think I could wait another second.”

When I read sections like the one above to audiences, it was a bit uncomfortable at first. But once I let myself become caught up in the story, it worked out just fine and my fans didn’t seem to doubt my masculine tendencies (grin).

Marcella Hollister is a fun character to write. She’s healthy, for the most part, but haunted by her infertility. I needed to get inside the head of a woman who yearned for children, but would never have one of her own. This wasn’t familiar territory to me, so I had to imagine the feelings, probably basing most of my perceptions on my wife’s Lifetime movies and Joan Hall Hovey suspense novels.

Marcella doesn’t hide her unabashed affection and attraction to her half-Seneca Indian husband. She pictures him in full Indian attire, atop a big pinto horse, gazing over the horizon with his arms outstretched to the Great Spirit.

She’s someone who physical needs are quite foreign to me. But I’m proud to say that after living with my wife, mother-in-law, three daughters, and watching a million chick flicks with them over the years, I’ve had some of my fans tell me I’ve nailed the woman’s point of view.

Sky reappears after being MIA for 18 years, and Marcella goes through some deep and difficult emotional challenges when he drops back into her life.
Okay, so those books went over well and I wasn’t ostracized from society about getting bolder in my writing. Now comes my twenty-first book, The Seacrest, a beautiful love story. I knew I was going to “go farther” in this book (or is it “further?” I never could figure that one out!). I knew I wanted to write actual sex scenes, but to keep them romantic and tasteful, not let them get gross or crass. So far, my Beta readers have said I managed to meet my goal. But let’s see what you think? The following is one of the less explicit scenes from The Seacrest:

“It began a little at a time. A tightening of her muscles. Her back arched slightly. Her toes curled and uncurled, her legs stretched. Her moans became louder, more frequent. She’d direct me to a certain spot, tell me to go faster or slower, higher or lower.
And then she reached for me with urgency. She wrapped her long fingers around me and guided me, pressing my lower back with her free hand. “It’s time, Finn. Now.”
She positioned me into her moist folds, where shiny, smooth skin pulsed, as if waiting to swallow me whole. And then I lost complete track of the night, caught in the rhythmic wonder of our dance atop the sandy beach, beneath the moonlight that glistened silver on her eyes and lips. She’d timed it right, this very momentous occasion, and I reeled with pride when she peaked before me, clutching me and screaming, her body clenching and clamping with every wave of her pleasure. When she was done, I let myself go, nearly blinded by ecstasy. I reveled in the smooth, tight gripping, the pulsing tingles, the waves of climax that took me out of myself and shot me to Heaven and back.”

In my humble opinion, there’s room for a little romance in almost every genre. Mystery, thrillers, and suspense can all be spiced up a bit without dropping suspense or departing from the main story. And if you happen to write a romance story like The Seacrest, you’d best be prepared to include many love scenes!

Whether you’re a model citizen writing from a killer’s point of view, a woman writing from a man’s point of view, or a man writing from a giraffe’s point of view, all it takes is years of keen observational skills and plenty of conversations with the person who’s head you’re getting inside. Unless he happens to be a giraffe, of course.

For more information about Aaron and his novels, please visit his website  at www.lazarbooks.com or connect with him on the following sites:

Facebook (personal page)
Linked In