Round Robin August – Coming Soon – Courting the Countess

Really exciting news this month because I can also tell you about a new book in the production process. You’ll have to check back for the cover Reveal and publication date, but meantime, TA RA………………………………………………………….

COURTING THE COUNTESS will be my 4th published full-length romance when it comes out from Endeavour. It’s the story of a young woman whose beauty has been lost in a fire. As such, Courting the Countess, is a most appropriate study for this month’s round robin feature: What mental, physical or spiritual wounds or scars have you used in your stories?

Courting the Countess began life as an entry for the Elizabeth Goudge Award competition when the then RNA Chair, Christina Courtney, asked for a novel opening based on a fairy-tale.

WHAT IF, I thought, the Beauty was the man and the Beast was the girl?

Easy enough to create a physical illness or disability for one of the characters, but what implications does the loss of beauty have for a person? Lots, I would say and thereby was my story found.

Injuries and pain bring with them a loss of confidence and zest for life. Can my hero restore her? What spiritual wounds might he be living with that help or hinder him in this task? There have to be some, I think, in a well-rounded novel or the light and shade is compromised.

Courting the Countess, like my other books also has a lot of fun, dry wit and period detail – 1819, Scottish Regency, Edinburgh. As a writer I don’t believe in whacking the reader with mental, physical or spiritual burden all the way through. Life is a kaleidoscope, but the heroines of any romance need a fair bit of angst to work through and show their characters to best advantage.

If this subject interests you, then please head along to one of my blogging friends, below:

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/the-wounded-healer
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Anne’s on twitter @anne_stenhouse

Facebook www.facebook.com/annestenhouseauthor

Buy my books here: Amazon Author Page

 

August is Review a Book Month

Rosie Amber wrote a great post here explaining why reviews are important to writers and why you don’t need to have literary qualifications to write them.

After the Night Before

I’m Shy

Picking up the theme Terry Tyler wrote this blog here carrying the theme forward and posting some lovely reviews and covers folk have been inspired to make as a result of Rose’s original initiative.

It’s NOT about seeking views for one’s own books, so I won’t post my links. You can find them easily enough, but if there’s someone else’s book you read and thought, I think people would like that story, then Please, Please – go for it.

Diary of a Writer – reaping a few rewards

100_5920Reaping a few Rewards is rather nice.

I entered a caption competition put up by my publishers, MuseItUp last week on facebook and won a free e-book from their bookshop. I’ve chosen Comedy of Terrors by Graeme Smith. A treat to look forward to when it wings across.

People’s Friend cleared my short serial for publication. So, while the going was favourable, I submitted a short story which they have also bought. Don’t have final titles for either of these yet, but will keep you up-to-date.

Ulverscroft, the wonderful large print imprint, have just bought world large print rights in Daisy’s Dilemma. So there will be a short library run. New cover, of course, but here’s Charlie’s in the meantime.Daisys Dilemmal 333x500Buy my books here

Join me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/annestenhouseauthor

Diary of a Writer – Storing the Research Materials

Book Sale books

Book Sale books

 

I never allow visitors into my study because I know exactly where everything is. Apparently, I have a visual memory (tested by a training programme at work) and if something is moved – it’s lost. Also it’s a tip (ie not suitable for visiting). Elsewhere in the house my husband shelves books by type (travel, etc) and fiction by alphabet. So in the rest of the house, other people have a fighting chance of locating a Dickens novel should they want one.

My study also contains a lot of research material and much of that was bought at the Christian Aid book sale pictured above. As I wrote a play about JM Barrie, I was able to source almost all his works and several biographies there. As I now write Scottish Regency novels (look out for the next coming soon-ish), I’ve bought many Scottish source books. I have made an attempt to shelve them by General Scottish and Edinburgh. Even so, they cover two bookcases and two shelving units with a few on the floor, the desk or behind the printer.

Is this the most efficient way to recover that tiny fact holding up chapter ten? Maybe not, but it works for me because I do in fact visualise. Firstly I see the fact and whether it’s on the right hand or left hand page. Then I see whether the book in question was hand sized, A5 or coffee table. Then I see its colour. Oops! I have a very shaky colour memory and have to hope I’ve found the volume before that becomes an issue.

There’s also that muscle memory thing – you know where you can go on doing things long after you’ve essentially stopped that activity. We used to have a large bookcase outside our bedroom. It’s been gone over 20 years. I still find myself studying the wallpaper there wondering where a copy of such and such has gone.

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So, how do you store your paper books?

My kindle has been teasing me recently. I’ve been building up an electronic collection of both Georgette Heyer and Ann Cleeves. Recently I was scrolling through and discovered how separated they become because of that operational thing whereby your last read book rises to the top of the ‘library’. I think, with a little time, I could group the already read ones. But, and it’s a big but, how does one keep that up-to date? Answers please. Then I might have the defence that although the study is a muddle, the kindle is a model of perfection.

Anne on Amazon Author Page

Daisy’s Dilemma Kobo

Diary of a Writer

DSC00433A Writer’s Diary is particularly given to feast and famine, I find. Look at July…

New Novel is at that nerve-shredding stage before consigning it to the electronic ether. Have I spelled the heroine’s name the same way every time? What about her hair colour? Find and Replace is one of my favourite buttons in word. Does everyone suffer from this desire to do just one more check? How many redundant words does the ms contain? That, just, then…

Next Novel is written, but lacks sparkle. Where to buy fairy dust? Ah, it’s more like blood sweat and tears. I see.

Short Story in Scots dialect Write another while first remains under consideration.

Short Article for Friends of the Botanics newsletter. No problem, I said when ambushed at breakfast recently. Were the bacon rolls in the  John Hope Gateway café that good? Probably. Have I mentioned how I think I may have lived in

Inverleith House in a previous life? No? (Maybe as the skivvy. Ah Well) It is one of my favourite houses in the world.

RNA committee responsibilities Getting there. There will be party tickets – just bear with me.

Real Life – And that is? Ah, yes. The DH likes to eat. Some shopping and preparing in advance required.

Conference So looking forward to Lancaster and meeting up with folk old and new. The RNA is truly one of the friendliest organtsations I’ve ever been in. Love it to bits.

Writers’ Club Edinburgh writers’ club is my alma mater where fiction writing is concerned and we’re really busy plotting. Watch this space (for when the publicity lady says Go, go, go!)

Then along comes August…  Society of Authors in Scotland AGM and lunch, Book Festival and other Festivals.

Did Jane Austen suffer feasts and famines? She was often on the move and maybe that inhibited writing.

Round Robin – Emotion and all That

How emotionally involved are you in writing some scenes is the question posed for this month’s round robin.

Well, it’s a biggie. I think the emotion I personally find hardest to deal with is disappointment. I’m writing this on the 24th June 2016, so many in the UK will know disappointment this morning and throughout the whole day.

I’ve just had a peek at Facebook and astonishing stuff is coming through. People who voted ‘Leave’ (the European Union) because they didn’t think their vote would count so it wouldn’t matter (Eh?). People who believed Eurocrats made the laws – where were they when the rest of us were voting for our MEPs?

However, we’re talking writing here and as I write romance with lots of ups, downs and round-abouts, there’s enough emotion to find a few heart-wringing moments to tempt you.

MARIAH’S MARRIAGE

London Girl

London Girl

Mariah’s Marriage is shot through with disappointment. Sir Lucas is disappointed he could not snare the Earl for his sister. Lady Mellon is disappointed she cannot secure a suitable wife for the heir. Mariah is bitterly disappointed she cannot continue her life teaching because the earl has trapped her in a compromising situation. I really felt that tug between what one wanted to do and what one must do.

And I hugely enjoyed the resolution which I was able to write with, I hope, laugh-out loud farce.

 

 

BELLA’S BETROTHAL

Bella’s Betrothal

Bella’s Betrothal charts the resolution of disappointment because Bella feels abandoned, if not even cast off, by her family. I really invested in the scenes early in the book when she tries to defend herself against the pragmatic arguments and physical attractiveness of Charles Lyndsay. Well, how do you choose the lesser danger of a bogeyman out there and a heart-stoppingly attractive man in your room at the inn?

 

 

DAISY’S DILEMMA

Daisys Dilemmal 333x500Daisy’s Dilemma springs out of disappointment and it’s all the more poignant because Daisy doesn’t see it coming. Actually, as the creator, neither did I. Reuben Longreach’s voice caught me a little by surprise, but I soon grew to love him dearly and I wrote one or two of his scenes entirely wrapped up in him.

I refer a lot throughout this book to The Foundling Hospital where mothers could leave the babies and small children they were unable to keep. Some were never re-united. Today in Camden, within walking distance of King’s Cross, you can visit the Foundling Museum which sits in some of the original buildings and in Coram’s Fields. The display case exhibited there of the tokens – sometimes a button or scrap of a shawl – by which mothers hoped to identify their baby should life improve and they could reclaim them, is deeply moving. So, yes, I was emotionally very involved in writing much of this book.

Thomas Coram

Thomas Coram

So if you fancy learning how other authors go about it, try one of my friends, below:

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/

Bob Rich https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/emotion-in-writing
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Diary of a Writer – In Retreat

Working in the sunshine

Working in the sunshine

Retreating has become very popular among writers and I’m no exception. Being cut loose from domestic and other responsibility opens up endless possibilities for the creative mind.

The late, Hugh Rae, aka Jessica Stirling, used to set up speakers for a small writers’ conference held in Pitlochry at the beginning of October. A number of people would do the paperwork, but Hugh had the contacts. This was my first taste of writing space in the day. The two hours between arrival and dressing for pre-dinner chat in the bar seemed endless to a busy wife and mum. No telephone calls, no car runs, no hunting for the elusive football boot – just a quiet room and a notebook and pencil.

Hugh was a lovely man and spotting that I was a newbie, he came over and said, “The first coffee is always on me.” So typical of his concern.

My first taste of retreating for the purpose of writing rather than conferring, was signing up for a radio writing course run by The Arvon Foundation in deepest Devon. Totleigh Barton in Sheepwash was straight out of the Girls’ Own Book of writers’ retreats. I slept in the pigsty. It’s a sixteenth century manor house with barn.

But the crème de la crème has to be a friend’s cottage near Stonehaven.

A secret garden

A secret garden

I’ve been several times to this magical place where the eye is on a level with the local murder of crows and where I once arrived to an aerobatic display by a pair of buzzards. I finished my second novel here and I know many others who wrote reams and reams in its welcoming embrace.

Alas, all good things will end.

So, this year’s retreat is home based. That isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. I’ve got the space, but I’ve also got regularity around. So how’s it going…

Well, there’s been a bit of spring cleaning of my writing chores’ backlog. So far, I’ve edited a novel and sent out an enquiry concerning a possible contract for it. I’ve completed another paid editing job. I’ve signed a contract (news about that to come) and I’ve started a short story.

I’m avoiding the elephant in this particular room. That’s the 1950s novel I’m having a lot of trouble structuring. Maybe that points up the real drawback of retreating in-house: there’s no other writer to bounce ideas off in the evening. Maybe the next time I have the house to myself, I’ll invite a friend to make a retreat in the spare room. Bet they get lots written as the Wi-Fi doesn’t reach there!

Where’s your favourite retreat? Is it solitary and miles from anywhere? Is it in plain view in a café?

Anne’s novels on amazon

Follow me on Facebook

And on Twitter @anne_stenhouse

 

Diary of a Writer – end of the Club Year

100_5916The end of Diary writer’s year at Edinburgh Writers’ Club was marked last night by the AGM and Prize-giving at the Wash Bar, The Mound.

2015-16 saw a varied programme of talks, competitions and workshops. Some were member led and some were the chance to hear a distinguished speaker talk with passion about the area of writing they know and love best.

I’ve personally benefited so much from membership of this club and through it of the Scottish Association of Writers, that I still feel the pulse race as end September approaches. They were the ones who helped me understand what an editor does for you. they were the ones who led me through the maze of genres to find play writing. They were the ones who put up with my angst while I unlearned play writing and took up novel writing. Through being there, I spotted my first short story opportunity and won my first play writing prize, publication, and performance.They’ve certainly been there for me.

Looking forward to our unofficial August rendezvous in the Book Festival Spiegel tent – books, chat, coffee, cake and wine – where else would you find a gaggle of writers except in a similar natural home? That’s on Saturday 27 August between 12 and 2. Come and join us. Find out who we are and whether we can help you write like JK. (The answer’s no, but dream on and we’re very nice.)

 

Edinburgh Writers’ club website is here

Mariah’s Marriage, Bella’s Betrothal, Daisy’s Dilemma on amazon here

Follow me on Facebook here

Diary of a Writer – Travel, Food and Story Openings

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By Margaret McNeil, Crieff Hydro, SAW

So, a couple of weeks ago, before I had a great trip to Lincoln where they have a wonderful abbey and also The Old Bakery, I promised to add a wee resume of my Q&A at Edinburgh Writers’ Club. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Entering Lincoln Abbey for the first time is one of those heart-stopping moments. How did they do it? No computers, powered tools, digital images, but there it sits in all its beauty. It is a fine Gothic building and at one time the tallest in Europe. The Old Bakery is a wonderful restaurant and a great example of re-using what’s there. The building was a bakery and shop when its owner died leaving it to his daughter. She shut the ground floor and moved upstairs where she lived for forty years. Enter chef, Ivano de Serio, and his wife, Tracy. They’ve carefully carved out a restaurant on the ground floor and fitted out three comfortable bedrooms above. A delicious experience.

Back to that Q&A

How To Lose Competitions

My own pet hate as a judge is reading The day had started badly or It had been one of those days. Such an opening is invariably followed by a detailed explanation of what went wrong. You can think of the sort of thing. Bert set the alarm for 8.15 when he meant to set 7.15; the dog escaped when he opened the door; the milk was off and the toaster exploded.

All of this ‘back-story’ is perfectly acceptable character creation, BUT the reader doesn’t need to read it. They need to absorb it by your showing of it in the action of the story you’re telling.

As the writer think – how does your man react to losing the dog? How does his body react to a mouthful of sour milk? How is he coping NOW?

Another issue raised by this sort of beginning is word count. If you have 1500 words, why are you wasting them by describing events outside your story?

There was other discussion and folk did have questions. They may come up in later posts.

Weather: I hope you’ll scroll down and read the post about the use of weather in our fiction. It was great fun to write and I loved the others in the Round Robin. However, apart from shameful self-publication, may I just say I need the light on to see the keyboard this morning as yet another sleet shower passes by…

So, I’m no agony aunt, but what puzzles you most about losing writing competitions? I don’t write poetry, folks. And like every other judge, one has to say that a different eye might have made a different choice.

Weather – round robin

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Weather So the picture of me in Yellowstone, US, has more than a few clouds in the sky. It was, however, warm and sunny, too. Perfection. When asked the next day the young man on our raft said he expected the snow to arrive in the next week or two – never long after Labour Day.

And that’s the thing about weather it’s at the same time regular and unpredictable. That it will blanket the national parks for months is certain, but when that fall will come less so. That it will thaw in the spring is equally sure, but again when that will happen less so.

Using weather in writing is tricky, but oh so tempting. I recently recommended to my book group (we take it in turn to recommend) The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse. She uses the landscape of low-lying marsh around Chichester and creates a coming storm. She is at pains in the acknowledgements to state the storm was a fictional one. There are, however, many such in British history and not all that distant history either so we can feel that wind as it howls through the darkness and the dragging effect of long wet skirts or clinging soaking trousers. We know enough to vicariously experience the rising level of hysteria that matches the rising flood waters. And to thank our lucky stars when we wake in the morning to a cleansed countryside and a moral cleansing, too. DH Lawrence also used flooding to effect a cleansing.

Another sort of weather much exploited is over-bearing heat building to unbearable intensity before storm brings relief. Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Graham Greene all use it in drama and prose. Evelyn Waugh used a storm at sea to allow his narrator and Julia to come together in Brideshead Revisited. Somehow their ability to avoid sea-sickness gave them a glamour and superiority that the fall from marital grace should have prevented.

Weather features close to the opening of my DAISY’S DILEMMA Daisy has been trapped in the great London house of her brother the earl for a week or more. She’s recovering from food poisoning and then when she might venture out summer thunder and lightening prevents it. Daisy’s mercurial temperament is sorely tried and, clearly, she needs a strong arm to assist her into the world outside her pampered existence. Did I do it consciously? How does one know where anything in fiction comes into the brain from? Once it was down, however, I really liked it. Drama Mood and Revelation.

My fellow rounders’ writers are listed below. Do visit and see what they think, too. What do you think? Is weather used wisely in fiction? Do you use it in yours?
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Richhttps://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/oh-the-weather/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com