Monthly Archives: August 2019

An Interview with Author Victoria Thompson

An Interview with Author Victoria Thompson

Victoria Thompson is the popular author of twenty-two romance novels, the historical Gaslight Mystery series (twenty-two books and counting), and the Counterfeit Lady novels (Book 3 coming out soon).

I have to brag that I’ve know Vicki since 1982. When my second child was born, she was my La Leche League leader. Soon afterward, she started a Bible study group for young mothers, and she was instrumental in leading me back to the Lord.

She was also the first person I’d ever known to actually have a book published.

Vicki graciously agreed to be interviewed for ARHtistic License.

What was your undergraduate major?

VT: English/Secondary Education; I like to say I’m a retired teacher—I taught one year and retired!  This was in a public Middle School in 1970.

You teach writing popular fiction in the Masters program at Seton Hill University. How did that come about?

VT: I was invited to teach in the program when it was just getting started in 2000.  A writer friend recommended me.

I’ve heard your books characterized as “cozy” mysteries. What constitutes a cozy?

VT: A “cozy” or traditional mystery is defined as a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. That doesn’t mean a small town, necessarily, although many traditional mysteries are set in small towns.  It just means the group of suspects are members of a small social community, i.e. friends, family members, members of a church or club, etc.

Murder on Pleasant Avenue

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

VT: Yes. My process is actually somewhere in the middle. I come up with my victim and the cast of suspects before I start writing, but I have no idea who the killer is or what exactly will happen, so I just wing it from there.

Why historical fiction?

VT: I love history and I love exploring how human nature has not really changed ever. The technology is different, but people are not. They are still concerned about the same things now as they were a hundred years ago. I have tried writing contemporary novels, but they just never quite click, for some reason. I think I just have a naturally historical voice and sensibility.

How do you do your research?

VT: I have three sets of bookshelves full of reference books in my office that I consult, but it’s also very easy to use Google for things as well. I don’t even have to get out of my chair! Google will often lead me to a specific reference book and if it’s not available any other way, I’ll get it from the library or inter-library loan.


How long does it take you to write a book?

VT: Around 6 months, including research and “thinking.”

What is the most fun part of writing a book?

VT: Getting to that point in the book where you realize you’ve got all the clues in place, you know who the killer is and why they did it and all you have to do is write it up so others can read it. For me, this usually happens around 2/3-3/4 of the way through the manuscript.

Who is your agent, and how did you connect?

VT: My agent is Nancy Yost. We have been together about 25 years (neither of us remembers exactly when she took me on).  She was originally my editor for two books I wrote for Avon.  I had just hired a new agent when she told me she was leaving Avon to become an agent.  Two years later, I fired that agent and went with Nancy.

Victoria Thompson photo

Victoria Thompson

What is something about your books or about yourself that you wish your readers knew?

VT: I have very little control over the cover art (I do get to approve it or suggest changes), and no control at all over when or how often the books are published and how much they cost. Also, I’d love to write 12 books a year, to keep my fans happy, but that’s physically impossible.


Creative Juice #153

Creative Juice #153

Twelve articles to inspire you.

In the Meme Time: Habits for Artists


Habits for Writers

Guest Post: How To Put Together Your Writer’s Resumé For Submissions by Lucy V Hay


Thank you to Lucy V Hay for this wonderful article, which was first published on Bang2Write.

What should you put in your writer resumé?

So, over in the Bang2writers FB group, Gail asks: “How do you put together a writer’s resumé? What should go in, what should be left out, what counts as relevant experience?” This is a great question I get all the time, so warrants a lengthier post.

First up, the usual disclaimer: this post is based on my experience of writing my own resumé and reading other people’s ONLY. There is no *set* way of doing it. However I’ve seen some very good CVs and I’ve seen some very pants ones, so I think I can offer some help here, however small, especially for those who are having issues knowing where to start. So, without further ado, my thoughts …

writing notes idea class

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on

What Should It LOOK Like?

We often hear presentation is everything in this biz, which is why CVs sometimes look surprisingly BAD on this front. Supposedly “eye-catching” fonts and colors are the biggest no-nos; jazzy layouts, extra space and justified text can also cause issues. I don’t recommend putting your photo on them either, even if you are hot – you’re not an actor. I recommend the following:

– A sans serif font (Minus that “squiggly” bit, ie. Arial)

– 12 pt size

– Black type on a white page

– One to two pages MAXIMUM

Of course, there is room for personal preference too. I like to put my name and jobs (“Script Editor and Novelist” at the top in larger type, putting my address, website and contact details in a little box on the right hand side. I then separate each “section” with a line. Basically, lay it out HOWEVER YOU WANT as long as it is a) simple and b) does not affect “readability”.

So that’s the dull stuff out the way. So what else could go on your writer’s CV?

What Should You Put In A Writer’s CV?

1) About you

A short intro about you is nearly always MISSING on CVs I see and I think it’s a real shame, since this is a GREAT opportunity to really sell yourself off the page to whomever’s reading. Give them an insight into WHO YOU ARE. Mine reads “Straight-talking, web savvy Script Editor with an eye for structure” as a sub heading and underneath there is a short paragraph about my various interests, such as challenging gender stereotypes, social media and event organizing.

I prefer to write in the third person because I’m BRITISH and saying it in the first feels like BOASTING to me, but if you’re more sensible and don’t have the same hang-up, either is fine. (NOTE: this bit should always be first in my opinion, though the rest on this list could be any order I think, as long as it reads well/is logical).

To continue reading this article, click here.

Video of the Week #216: Time-Saving Tips for Writers


Wordless Wednesday: Weathered Fence



Mathew Brady, the Father of Photojournalism

Mathew Brady, the Father of Photojournalism

Born around 1822 in Warren County, New York, the youngest of three children of Irish immigrants, Mathew Brady at age 16 moved to Saratoga, New York, where he met and studied with the portrait painter William Page. In 1839, Brady and Page traveled to New York City, where they connected with Samuel F.B. Morse, Page’s former teacher. Morse had recently returned from France, where he had collaborated with Louis Jacques Daguerre, the inventor of the daguerreotype, an unwieldy camera devise which produced images on silver-plated copper sheets treated with mercury vapor. Morse enthusiastically promoted the daguerreotype in the United States, and Brady assisted him in this endeavor, originally by making leather cases for them. When Morse opened a photography studio and offered lessons, Brady was his first student.


Cavalry Column at the Rappahannock River, Virginia

In 1844, Brady opened his own photography studio at Broadway and Fulton Street in New York City. He took portraits, including those of such notables as Senator Daniel Webster, poet Edgar Allan Poe, and elderly former President Andrew Jackson. In 1849, he opened a studio on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., where he met Juliet Handy, whom he married in 1850. (They made their home on Staten Island.) Brady’s early images were daguerreotypes, but as technology advanced, he switched to the albumen print, a paper photograph produced from large glass negatives.


Battery in action at Fredricksburg.

When the Civil War first broke out, Brady advertised portraits and small-sized prints of departing soldiers, reasoning that their parents and loved ones might want an image of the son, brother, husband, or boyfriend they might never see again.


Battery D, 2nd US Artillery at Fredericksburg.

But he soon came up with the idea of documenting the war itself. He requested permission from his friend, General Winfield Scott, to travel to the battle sites, and eventually wrote to President Lincoln himself. Lincoln granted permission in 1861, with the understanding that Brady must finance the project himself. (Click on smaller pictures below to enlarge and read captions.)


Wounded soldiers under the trees after the battle of Spotsylvania.

Most of the time Brady photographed the battlefields after the fighting had ceased, but he came under direct fire at the First Battle of Bull Run, Petersburg, and Fredericksburg. His friends tried to dissuade him from this dangerous and financially risky pursuit, but his adherence to what he perceived as his calling won him a place in history.


Pontoon Bridge across Rappahannock River

Brady hired twenty-three assistants, each of whom was given a traveling darkroom, to photograph scenes from the Civil War. Brady generally stayed in Washington, D.C., directing his assistants, and rarely visited battlefields personally. Though actually snapping the picture was important, the selection of the scene to be photographed was also a significant contribution.


Behind Union breastworks on Little Round Top at Gettysburg, PA.

Brady’s use of assistants may have been due, at least in part, to the fact that his eyesight had begun to deteriorate. Brady was criticized for failing to document the photographs, making it difficult to discern not only who took the picture, but also exactly when or where it was taken.


Camp scene showing winter huts and corduroy road.

In October, 1862, Brady opened an exhibition of photographs from the Battle of Antietam in his New York gallery, titled The Dead of Antietam. Many images in this presentation were graphic photographs of corpses, a presentation new to America. This was the first time that many Americans saw the realities of war in photographs, as distinct from previous “artists’ impressions”.

Mathew Brady

Mathew Brady in 1875

Mathew Brady, through his many paid assistants, took thousands of photos of American Civil War scenes. Much of the popular understanding of the Civil War comes from these photos. Thousands of photos taken by Brady and his associates, Alexander Gardner, George Barnard and Timothy O’Sullivan are stored in the US National Archives and the Library of Congress. The photographs’ subjects include Lincoln, Grant, and soldiers in camps and battlefields. Brady was not able to photograph actual battle scenes, as the photographic equipment in those days was limited in its technical development and required that a subject remain still in order for a clear photo to be produced. Following the conflict, a war-weary public lost interest in seeing photos of the war, and Brady’s popularity and practice declined drastically. Nevertheless, Brady’s images provide a pictorial cross reference of American Civil War history.

Information and images for this article came from Wikipedia and from the National Archives.