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Saturday, 12 August 2017

Happy 1st Birthday, SAVING SOPHIE! Over 100,000 ebooks sold!

I can't quite believe it was a year ago today that my debut psychological thriller novel, SAVING SOPHIE was published in ebook!

I remember waiting until after midnight to watch it magically appear on my kindle - and feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves!

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A very proud moment!

I am so grateful for all the support from family, friends and also reviewers and bloggers, who made the day so special and have continued to support me during this first year. It was definitely a dream come true moment and I can't thank my agent, Anne Williams, and team Avon enough for helping me achieve it!

So, a year on and book 2, BAD SISTER is less than 8 weeks away from publication and I'm nearing the end of writing book 3. I've had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful authors at various events and can finally say I feel like an author too now. 

I'm thrilled that I'm able to write for a living and look forward to future projects. Thank you to everyone who has bought a copy of SAVING SOPHIE. 

Here's to another fabulous year! 

You can grab SAVING SOPHIE for just 99p until the end of August. 
For Amazon UK Click HERE

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Victoria Jenkins – 20 Questions

Debut Author Spotlight – 20 Questions
with Victoria Jenkins

The Girls in the Water : A completely gripping serial killer thriller with a shocking twist (Detectives King and Lane Book 1)

Victoria Jenkins lives with her husband in South Wales, where she writes crime fiction and teaches English. The Girls in the Water is her debut novel, the first featuring Detective Inspector Alex King and Detective Constable Chloe Lane. The second book in the series will be published in late 2017.

1)      Congratulations, Victoria, IT’S PUBLICATION DAY! Tell us in three words how you’re feeling right now:
Lucky, excited, hopeful.

2)      Describe your novel in ONE sentence:
Two female detectives hunt a killer in South Wales, with devastating consequences that hit uncomfortably close to home.

3)      How are you celebrating publication day?
Quietly. I will probably be glued to my laptop for a big chunk of the day – it’s become a third arm. The support online – both from people I know and those I’ve never met – has been incredible. I feel so lucky, and very grateful. I’ll be going out for dinner in the evening with my husband and my sister – it wouldn’t be a celebration without food involved at some point!

4)      Why/When did you decide to write your first novel?
The Girls in the Water isn’t the first book I’ve written – I’ve written several over the past decade, although most of them I’d be too embarrassed to ever have my name associated with! I’d written from a young age, so it was just a case of finding the ‘right’ thing to write. I wrote this book after the book that grabbed the interest of my agent failed to get a publishing deal – it felt like a case of ‘now or never’, so the pressure turned out to be a good thing for me. 

5)      How long was it from the first submission of your completed manuscript to agents, to this day?
The time between getting signed by an agent and getting the book deal was eleven months, but between finishing The Girls in the Water and getting the publishing deal with Bookouture was a space of about four months. While initially submitting to agents I’d read a lot of ‘Agent on Monday…book deal by Friday’ stories, but the reality for most is a lot different and I think from speaking to other authors that my experience is probably closer to the norm. It’s a waiting game, but it’s one that’s well worth playing. The best way to kill the time is to get on with writing something else. 

6)      So far, what has been the biggest surprise/shock about becoming a published author?
The editing process. Structural edits, line edits, copy edits, proofreads…it can feel never-ending at times! The final version of The Girls in the Water is very different to the first, but the editing process is there for a reason, so the time is well spent. 

7)    What are you most looking forward to as a published author?
Being able to justify the amount of time I spend in my pyjamas.

Ok, let’s get down to the writing process

8)      Which authors inspired your writing?
I love Linwood Barclay’s books. In my letters to agents, I used to write something along the lines of, ‘I’d like to be a female, British Linwood Barclay’. The stories are just so accessible; they’re the kind I start, get lost in from the first page, and then find I’ve finished within a matter of days. Not an author, but while writing The Girls in the Water I was binge-watching the BBC2 series The Fall. I think some of the darker elements of the book definitely took an influence from that.

9)      How long did it take you to write The Girls in the Water?
The first draft that was sent to my agent took about six months. She then gave me revisions before submitting to publishers, and then there were all the additional edits that came from my editor at Bookouture. In total, I think around nine months was spent on the book. 

10)   What was your first draft like? 
The very first draft was just the bare bones of the story, probably around 80,000 words – I always like to get the plot down first and then go back and add the descriptions of characters and places, as well as the details relating to police procedure.

11)   How did you find the editing process
               a - before you had an editor?
Difficult. Once I’d got my descriptions down (which quite often weren’t detailed enough)   I’d find it hard to see beyond what was there on the screen in front of me. A fresh pair of eyes is definitely needed when it comes to editing.
               b - and now you do?
Far easier. Having someone else’s input makes you able to see the things you’ve missed, or the things that just don’t make sense. Sometimes they’re glaringly obvious and I’ll think, ‘well how did I not notice that?’ but when you’ve looked at something so often and for so long, it’s almost as though you stop seeing what’s staring you in the face!

 12)    When you write do you need music, or silence?
A few years back I used to listen to music all the time while writing, always through headphones. I don’t know why that’s changed, but now I find I need total silence. I know a lot of people say they need noise and life around them, but I’d get nothing done. I am easily distracted.

13)    What is your guilty pleasure when writing? 
I keep my sweet tooth under much better control these days than I did when I was younger, but only because I tend not to buy biscuits and cake too often – if it’s in the house, it won’t be there for long. I drink a lot of tea while I’m writing, but I think this is more to do with finding something to distract myself with when things aren’t going to plan rather than the tea itself!

 14)    What is your favourite part of the writing process? And least favourite?
Favourite part? The End. Only joking. My favourite part is when I’m so immersed in something that I get lost in it. I think that’s why I’ve always written: writing means a break from the real world. I love the real world too, but like anywhere else, I don’t want to be there 24/7! My least favourite part: writer’s block. Urgh. I sometimes go for weeks without writing a single word, particularly when I’m in the early stages of a book. Getting past the 10k word mark is always a relief; I start to feel as though I may sort-of know what I’m doing at this point, rather than just making things up as I go along (which I suppose is what I’m doing anyway!)

15)    Did you need to conduct any research for your novel? How did you approach it?
Police procedure was all new to me until about eighteen months ago. I’ve been lucky that a friend’s uncle and my husband’s cousin are both police officers and they gave me help with some of the details needed for The Girls in the Water. I had to do some pretty grim research on drowning victims and the effects of water on corpses too, most of which was done on the internet.

16)    Now you have a book deal – with deadlines (!) – how has that affected your writing process?
Weirdly enough, the pressure of deadlines seems to have been a good thing for me. Knowing I’ve got a timeframe to work within (as well as now having people I have to keep happy!) has focused my mind quite a bit. There will still be days when I write nothing, but I try not to panic too much. One day I can write nothing; the next I might get down 6,000 words. The process seems to have its own rules!

17)   What do you do in your ‘spare’ time? 
I wish I had an exciting answer for this one, but I am quite boring. When I’m not working, I spend a lot of time with my family. I try to read as much and as often as possible, but this is usually done at bedtime. I’m a bit useless at relaxing; whenever I do get the chance, I tend to spend the whole time feeling guilty about not doing something else!

18)   What’s coming next?
Book 2 is written – I’m just at the stage of completing the final set of edits. I feel a huge pressure with this one, as I obviously want readers to love the characters enough to stick with them for Book 3. I hit the 10k word mark of book 3 today, so I’m past the dreaded point I mentioned earlier!

19)   Where can readers find you? 

20)   All importantly, where can readers buy your fabulous debut novel? 

Purchase The Girls in The Water  as kindle, paperback and audio via AmazonHERE

Here's the blurb: 

When she woke, she found herself in darkness. She couldn’t move. She was going to die and she had no idea why… 

When the body of Lola Evans is found in a local park on a cold winter’s morning, Detective Alex King and her new recruit Chloe Lane are called in to lead the hunt for the killer. 

Days later, a second girl goes missing. It seems the two shared a troubled history, and were members of the same support group. Who is the monster preying on these vulnerable girls? 

As the detectives start to piece together the clues, Chloe realises that she too is in danger – as she uncovers secrets about her own brother’s death which someone will kill to keep hidden. 

Alex and Chloe are soon fighting for their lives, and in a race against time to reach the next victim before it’s too late… 

Chilling and totally compelling with an utterly surprising twist, The Girls in the Water is perfect for fans of Robert Bryndza, Sarah Hilary, and Patricia Gibney.

 Huge thanks for answering my 20 questions, Victoria - enjoy publication day! Wishing you great success with The Girls in The Water.

Friday, 7 July 2017

HarperCollins Summer Party

I was thrilled last year when I received my first invitation to the HarperCollins summer party at the Victoria and Albert Museum - it was one of the most exciting things that had happened to me as a writer! But at that point, my debut novel, Saving Sophie, was yet to be published. I was so nervous it was ridiculous, and although I knew names of other authors, and followed some on social media, I hadn't met any in person. Thankfully my agent, Anne Williams, was with me and she took me under her wing.

I had an amazing time, drank too much, met some fabulous authors and spent a lot of time with the editors from Avon, who publish me. But I remember feeling a bit awkward, embarrassed even when I was asked who I was, what I'd written. I felt almost apologetic in my response: 'Oh, I'm not published yet, my book is out in August.' That kind of thing...

This year's party invite! 200 years celebration!

Charlie Redmayne CEO of HarperCollin giving his speech
But this year was different. Saving Sophie is published, Bad Sister is due for publication in October, I actually felt like an author at the party this time! As I stood with Anne listening to Charlie Redmayne's wonderful speech, we clinked glasses to celebrate over 100,000 sales of the ebook of Saving Sophie and when he talked about 'authors' I was thrilled and proud to know I was one of them.

I met so many brilliant, talented and lovely authors on Wednesday - and I was among friends. I am lucky to be a part of HaperCollins and really hope that my journey with them lasts a long time!

I didn't take very many photos - I've included the few I managed to take. (I have got a fab one of myself with Charlie Redmayne, but it was the end of the evening and, well, I won't be sharing that one here...)

SAVING SOPHIE is currently in the UK kindle summer sale at just 99p - please do grab a copy HERE.

Friday, 9 June 2017

My Advice For Aspiring Writers

As a writer, you often get asked for your top writing tips. I’ve compiled the ones I’ve given out so far in one handy list:

·         Search for information online 

There’s so much advice readily available for writers! I spent a lot of time online searching for tips and ‘How To’ books, and I attended some workshops which were really useful.

·         Get social media savvy     
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I find social media a Godsend. It’s an amazing source of support that I would advise writers to tap in to because writing can feel a lonely process at times, particularly when you’re first starting out.

·         Join a writing group
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This can be beneficial as gaining feedback is invaluable. I would say, however, that you might receive a lot of differing advice, so in the end it’s about learning what will work for you and what won’t – I think there’s an element of trial and error here!

·         DO NOT rush to submit your work to agents

It’s so exciting to have finished a novel, so much so that it can be hard to hold back! But agents receive so many submission packages you don’t want to give them an easy reason to reject yours. Make sure you read the individual agent’s requirements, have a strong covering letter, a succinct synopsis to the length they ask, and make sure your opening chapters are polished, polished, polished! I DID send my work too early and received a number of rejections quite quickly. Then I was lucky enough to have my work edited by a newly qualified editor and afterwards I began getting requests for my full manuscript. It can be costly, but personally I think it’s worth it.

·         Enter competitions

I entered my opening chapters of Saving Sophie (then titled Portrayal) into the CWA Debut Dagger award and was longlisted. It was an amazing feeling to have my work recognised. Being placed in a competition validates you as a writer and gives a huge boost to your confidence. Even though my agent was already interested in my writing, I believe that being able to tell her I’d been longlisted was a factor in her decision to sign me.

·         Learn the art of patience

You’ll need a lot of it (although I’ve yet to master this myself!)

·         Learn to take constructive criticism
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But also know that a dozen people could read your MS and each one of them might suggest a different way to ‘improve’ it. You have to try and be subjective, sit back, think about the comments you’ve been given – if there are similarities, then it’s likely that part of your MS is an issue that needs reworking. But DO NOT change your MS after each and every bit of feedback. You’ll end up in a mess. If you can, get a professional editor, or use a manuscript assessment service. I was lucky to have an editor who had just qualified and was taking on work in order to gain experience. I realise this was great timing – and a lot of people won’t get such good luck. But money spent at this stage could prevent a lot of heartache later down the line when the rejections roll in!

·         Tell yourself every day that you are a writer 
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Act like one, and you will be one! Grit, determination and self-belief are key.

·         Get organised and make time to write

Although I’m giving this tip – I am the world’s worst and need to heed my own advice. When people ask ‘So, you write full time then?’ and I answer ‘yes’, I’m sure they think that I do nothing other than sit at my keyboard and hammer out page after page of a novel. But there is so much more to being a writer than that. You might like to visit a blog piece I wrote on fitting everything in: (HERE) The key, I think, is to have a schedule that fits around your everyday life – and do your best to stick to it!

·         Don’t forget to eat properly, drink and exercise!

I have been known to get to 4pm and realise I have only consumed coffee and chocolate bars. Add the sedentary lifestyle of sitting for hours at your desk, and you have a very unhealthy writer! Take regular breaks.

·         Write what you love to read

 Coming up with around 90,000 words will be far easier if you are enjoying it. Your readers will be able to tell if you are bored, and they will be too. Skip the boring parts.


You can purchase SAVING SOPHIE on Amazon from
UK - Here
USA - Here