Why, you must be asking is that headline picture a writing prompt for Anne?
I’ve been a Joan Hessayon contender – and a wonderful, really wonderful evening I had.
MuseItUp published my first Regency romance – actually on 1st May in 2013. Mariah’s Marriage continues to be available for many electronic readers. It’s also in a library near you through the Linford Romance series.
I wasn’t the winner, but the whole team made me feel like one. Also, the lovely Rae Cowie came along specially to support me on the night and Jenny Harper and her husband Robin, were there, too. I’ve maintained links with some of the other contenders that night and I bought a copy of my individual photo taken by the talented Marte. I don’t photograph well, so that one is a particular pleasure.
Well, it’s a prompt because I’ve stepped away. Having been a member of the RNA committee for a few years now, it’s time to use my time for writing my stuff rather than Facebook posts , Twitter tweets and committee reports.
I will miss the warm and talented guys I’m leaving behind, but there are other opportunities to catch up with them. The first being the Summer Party which is being held in the fabulous Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. You can buy a ticket here and you don’t have to be a member of the RNA to do that. Come and meet some of your favourite authors in the flesh, as it were.
Now, if you live in Edinburgh, you can catch up with me and two of my Capital Writer pals at the Corstorphine Festival. We’ll be chatting with Sheila McCallum Perry, reading a little of our work and signing copies of our books (the other two here). We’re scheduled for Wednesday 30th May from around 7pm, programme out soon. Venue is CYCC, 191 St John’s Road.
Capital Stories a wee selection of our talent is available for the price of 99p. What else can you buy for 99p?
Diary of a writer – April Prompt – My picture this month is chosen to illustrate that well-known phrase, The Devil is in the Detail, although in this case, the Beauty is in it, too.
I’ve chosen it because I’m wrapping up the final instalment of a serial I’ve been writing. As any of you who have been there will know, remembering how you resolved that tricky issue about the cat hair in instalment one, written five months ago, is an even trickier issue in and of itself. Going back and forth in and out of the synopsis is, in my case, as likely to cause confusion as resolve it.
So, here’s to the blessing of a good editor. They would certainly be asking why the third gap in the uprights is missing its top fan shape. Gone home in someone’s handbag? Taken off by scions of the family in target practice? Meant to be like that as part of a wider design? Lots for you to ask, too. Happy writing.
Oh, and if you’re close enough, do visit Kenwood House where I took the photo. It’s a gem. The Adam library might be the most beautiful room I’ve ever been in.
I’m just back from another lovely Weekend School of the Scottish Association of Writers at the Westerwood Hotel, Cumbernauld. The prospectus is up elsewhere on this blog, so you can see who the speakers were.
I opted for a workshop on Writing Memoir conducted by the entertaining and inspirational Catherine Simpson; one on the Metaphoric Table by script writer and wordsmith, Raymond Burke; a poetry session conducted by John Glenday and a most business-like talk on how to pitch and sell articles by journalist, Dawn Geddes.
I learned that memoir is not a list of dates; metaphors are not the only figures of speech; some people are better at writing poetry than others and it’s a mistake to write the article before selling it.
I chuckled through Simon Brett’s after dinner talk on Saturday, enjoyed the food, company and ambience.
Oh and, I won a competition. The delightful Shirley Blair, Fiction Editor of People’s Friend was kind enough to place my story, Woman, Invisible, first in the Woman’s Short Story category.
It is also the case that Edinburgh Writers’ Club won the Friday night quiz for the second year running. On a tie-break, we earned a complimentary drink each from the Westerwood Hotel.
And I bought Olga Wojtas’s debut novel from the bookstore.
Miss Blane’s Prefect and the Golden Samover. Can’t wait.
The AGM almost began on time and proceeded in an orderly fashion to mark the departures of President, Marc Sherland and Vice-President, Jen Butler (who graciously presented the prizes on Saturday evening). they were replaced by Wendy Jones as Pres and Gillian Duff as vice-pres. Good wishes Marc and Jen and good luck Wendy and Gillian.
The Summer Party and Joan Hessayon Award night of the Romantic Novelists’ Association will be held in 2018 in the fabulous Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Tickets are available from Eventbrite Ticketing, here
So what comes to mind when you think of a stoat? Is it the beauty of their undulating movement? Is it their gorgeous natural colouring?
Have you been forever alienated by Wind in the Willows?
Have you, like me, watched one fight its natural shyness to recover a rabbit it killed earlier and take it back to the kits?
Sometimes the creative process seems a bit like trying to force a trolley-load of ideas through that small space.
No rabbits were harmed in the writing of this post.
CAPITAL STORIES contains four sparkling five star gems by me and three Capital Writing friends. For your kindle.
Down My Way it’s cold. Well, it’s winter in Scotland so what else might one expect?
I’ve just been reflecting that a writer’s diary is a really odd sort of thing.
Saturday 10th February – All day at the Royal Over-Seas League for the Romantic Novelists’ Association. A Committee meeting in the morning was followed by an hour of training in Diversity and Inclusion. No point in just thinking your organisation welcomes everyone, Find out. The session was conducted by the wonderfully upbeat and smiley Marsha Ramroop of BBC Radio Leicester.
Then onto the afternoon when there was a general meeting in the Hall of India and Pakistan. Must say selling tickets in advance is helping raise awareness of the great talks our members come up with. Sophia Bennet whose Love Song won last year’s Goldsboro Books romantic novel of the year prize, entertained us and was followed by Matt Bates, bookseller, who told us what’s selling. Great to meet up with members from as far afield as Norway, via Wales, and the south of England. A wee glass may have been drunk in a local pub later.
Monday 12th February = Lots of train time today, but also a visit to the Charles I exhibition at the Royal Academy. What a lot of dogs. What a lot of wonderful portraits by a huge selection of first class painters of the time. Not to mention the bits of sculpture dotted around the halls. Not only did Charles like to be painted, he was also a noted collector and patron with a good eye.
On to soup and sandwich lunch with friends. He’s a retired Rector and, now he has time and a kindle, enquired which of my books he ought to try. I said Bella’s Betrothal It’s naughty to have favourites.
All weekend, some of you may have read about it in Bookbrunch, the wires were active about my UK publisher, Endeavour. The good news is that Courting the Countess will remain available for now.
Also all weekend and since – Lots and lots of enquiries about the upcoming RNA annual Awards’ Night in The Gladstone Library, One Whitehall Place. Would the area have been familiar to the early Stuarts?
Also e-mails announcing a sale to People’s Friend of a story I wrote from one of their Ed’s story prompts. Hadn’t done that before but this one caught my imagination.
Also saw on a mini-bank-statement that the PLR is in the bank. This year, it might buy a bottle of champagne. (Last year, I bought coffee and cream cakes for me and my pal)
Also the newly fledged Capital Writers helped one of our number, Kate Blackadder launch her most recent collection of love stories – yes, on Valentine’s Day – with a series of posts across on Capital Writers website. Mine, Roses are Red is here.
The collection is called The Palace of Complete Happiness and can be purchased here.
Now back in Auld Reekie and raring to go – after the next coffee…
I took this picture in Chile. The island is a resting place for sea-lions, but only after they get onto it. Had I a better camera, I’d be able to show you the bobbing heads and leaping bodies in the channel between the shoreline and the island. The sea-lions spend a lot of time trying to get onto that rocky outcrop. Once there, they rest up, enjoy a bit of sun and get hungry. So, it’s needs must, and back into the spray.
Writing life is a bit like that. Occasionally you finish something that really pleases you and then you rest up a bit until the urge overwhelms you and – needs must – you jump in again and write something else.
Capital Stories – a collection of four gems according to WJRH – by Anne, Kate, Jane and Jennifer and a wee snip at 99p.
Diary of a Writer – serially challenging.
It’s always a great feeling to press send on a submission and I did that this morning just before enjoying one of these.
The box was a pressie from a local tradesman in the run-up to Christmas. I really do think it pays to ‘shop local’ and when the dividend comes in the form of Tunnock’s finest, who’s going to argue?
The MS is instalment two of the serial I’m writing for People’s Friend. Fingers crossed and tentatively on to work on Instalment three.
Another two hours spent on choosing the canapés for the RNA’s Awards’ Night Party (it’s a long and truly delicious list) and maybe now I should think about the ‘tea’ – as in that knife and fork repast the household looks forward to in the evening.
Having read the lovely Capital Stories created by my fellow Capital Writers, I’m looking round for something. I see my publishers, Endeavour, are advertising Lesley Downer’s
On the Narrow Road to the Deep North – journey into a lost Japan – which I have on my trusty kindle. Maybe that’s after-dinner sorted.
What are you reading? Both the above books are currently 99p.
This month’s Round Robin question is about Viewpoint. How do we as writers tell the story, show the characters’ emotions and switch between them?
My normal mode is 3rd person character. That means, I am in one head at a time, but as the author. I don’t find 1st person easy to write. I enjoy reading author omniscient, but haven’t found it attractive enough to tempt me. I’ve never written anything in 2nd person where you might have used 1st, but are allowing a bit of outside observation and comment.
Generally, my novels will employ two central viewpoints. They will normally be the hero and the heroine. I enjoy pitting an attractive couple against one another and I like to see the same problem from two perspectives.
So, in Mariah’s Marriage, Mariah is determined to save Arabella from her brother’s violence, but Tobias is equally determined that doing so would put Mariah herself in danger.
It’s a conflict of opinion. We, the reader, see Mariah enlist the help of her maid to outwit the considerable obstacles Tobias has placed in the way of her leaving the house. Eventually, we understand why Tobias has acted the way he has and, tension mounting, we’re in his head as the drama unfolds.
I think that’s why I find 1st person difficult. There just seems to be so much more needed by way of comment when that single voice has to keep filling us in. Things like ‘Of course, I didn’t know at the time, but Tobias thought I was dead.’ – are well enough, and often skilfully handled, but I prefer to be in Tobias’s head while he’s doing that thinking; while he’s doing that sufferring.
Maybe it’s because I used to write plays…
The serial I wrote for People’s Friend in 2016, A Traveller’s Life, had several voices. I enjoyed that a lot. It was liberating to leave the (self-) imposed discipline of two voices and allow one or two more to take centre stage. Again, the dramatist in me loved hearing what all these people thought. However, it’s not unbridled by any means. People’s Friend like their serials presented in ‘chapters’ so each one had a central Viewpoint. I was not head-hopping.
So, here’s the divide – what is head-hopping and why do some editors permit it?
Head-hopping is where the author allows everybody and his auntie to have their say – in one chapter, sometimes – I’ve seen it done – even in the same paragraph.
Personally, I find that way of writing too confusing for words. I want to know who I’m rooting for and whose story is the one being told. The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott is a modern tour de force and some of it tells the same story over. However, Scott uses different books to do this and that’s not a luxury offered to all.
I have a short historical story in a new anthology by Capital Writers, Capital Stories. It’s available for your kindle and a wee snip at 99p/$1.37.
There are other opinions on this fundamental writing skill and you’ll find some of them here:
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1ag
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Anne Stenhouse https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.co.uk/
Diary of a Writer – January Prompt may seem a little counter productive. Why post a picture of home-made marmalade as it is undoubtedly a labour intensive product and might distract you?
Well. because it’s a good product. There are excellent marmalades on the market. During my short writing retreat in Assynt, I visited the wonderful The Culkein Store where I laid in huge quantities of goody bag and take-to items. Scented candles, jellies, and Three Fruits Marmalade all made it into the car. We’d previously sampled their chutneys courtesy of visiting family and were really excited to make our own choices.
So, I have a large jar of their marmalade against the possibility the home-made runs out, but I’ll still be off to the supermarket to harass the fruit and veg manager over when the Seville oranges are arriving.
It’s also the case that creativity in one sphere aids creativity in others. When the WIP is going well, it’s equally likely I’ll fancy trying a new recipe. Who knows, that baby jacket I have on the pins might even make it off them. Well, let’s not get carried away by fantasy. If I can send off the story my editor was keen to see amended, then it would be a flying start to 2018.
How about you? What activity raises your own creativity?
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