The Heart Monitor I’ve been wearing for two weeks at the behest of UKBiobank came off this morning and is ready to go in the post. It’s been no trouble at all apart from the question of how to wash my hair and still keep the monitor dry. Answer – bring forward the hairdressing appointment.
The project I’ve been working on for most of the year is almost, almost, tantalisingly close to being – FINISHED. But, unlike a heart monitor, it’s preying on the heartstrings. Saying goodbye to these characters has been particularly difficult and I reduced myself to tears last night as I wrote out one of them. Didn’t even commit fictional murder, just waved…
Writers out there – How is The End for you? Do you have a plan, like the next project waiting in the wings? Do you mine the notebooks?
October Prompt ~ Lace Doily ~ Have I ever made anything as intricate and beautiful as a lace doily? That would be a ‘No’.
On the other hand, my life often enough takes on the complexity of such work and October is looking to be no less so than several other months this year and last. The value of the prompt is in reminding me of the possibility of arriving at such a beautiful conclusion.
So, what issues are hanging on my Bobbins?
Firstly, I need to get on with a lot of writing admin. The tax return for last year, record keeping and train tickets to the RNA winter party (going without responsibility for the first time in a long time. Thanks, Sue).
Writing – Who thought it would be a nice idea to enter the Mslexia Novella competition, being unpublished in that length? Okay, that was me and the fee and entry uploaded without incident. Isn’t it great that technology has at last arrived at an understanding of the actual needs of some users? Never say never, so it needs to be finished while the idea is still hot.
The project I’m engaged on with DC Thomson. Nearly there, just waiting for a few clearances.
A workshop for the Scottish Association of Writers. To be delivered in March, but advertised before then.
Real Life – Church stuff, Christmas stuff, Strictly has started, people stuff……………………. So lucky to have them all around.
What’s on your Bobbins?
So, this month we’re considering how one encourages reading in our children – or, indeed – in anyone.
There are carrots and there are sticks.
I’ve said in other places that I cannot remember a time when I couldn’t read. I know my parents both read and when my mum was blighted by cataract, her very first project after the operation to remove the first one, was a temporary library ticket round the corner here: she stayed with us while she needed drops in her eye. Her mother lived with her in her last three years and was re-reading the Victorian classics in the weeks before she began to fade away.
So, in my own case, example and opportunity were there from the beginning.
Like my mum. I read bedtime stories to my children and was gratified when the oldest child used to sit out of sight on the stairs to listen in (too cool to join in by then) and by the middle one telling me in the morning that the house floated away. “I finished the book after you stopped reading, Mum.”
A – was it a stick was it a carrot ploy? – was that if they wanted to join us in the posh sitting-room at coffee after meals, then they had to bring and read their book.
All my children read and frequently ask for books or give books at present times.
I’m in a book group. I read books I wouldn’t have chosen for myself which is a Good Thing. I take books to parties or supper invitations; and as a weekend guest. I think in the pile of chocolates and bottles of wine, they stand out. I NEVER ask if people read them, however. I always include a book in Christmas Goodie bags. I offer my read and unlikely to be re-read paperbacks to specific places. Occasionally I’ll do a charity coffee morning and ask folk to ‘bring a book, buy a book’ – an idea that has been used again by guests for their own charities.
I help every year with Edinburgh’s massive Christian Aid book sale. This year, 2018, over one hundred thousand pounds has been raised to help displaced people. The sale offers a huge selection of books at great prices to avid readers and reluctant readers alike. Its next event is the companion Scottish Books; Art; jewellery and coffee sale. Thursday 25th – Saturday 27th October in St Andrew’s and St George’s 13 George Street, Edinburgh.
There you have it. The message in my own case is basically total immersion. Did anyone else walk a three year-old to school who asked whether thiamine was a good thing? He’d seen the word on the corn flakes’ packet!
Courting the Countess is an Edinburgh regency using the beauty and the beast tale in an inversion. Romance, murder and regency mayhem to lift you out of your mundane.
If you prefer contemporary, how about Anne Stormont’s new book, Settlement?
To discover what my fellow robins think, go here:
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1ly
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Anne Stenhouse https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
And a secret I’ve been holding close for several weeks now, is out: I’ve been invited to adjudicate the women’s short story category at the Scottish Association of Writers weekend school.
Excited? You bet!
Edinburgh Writers’ Club, is a founding member club. So, I’m a member of both.
SAW has recently published the Schedule for its 2019 Fiftieth Anniversary conference, again to be held in the centrally situated, Westerwood Hotel, and you can view or download it at present from their Facebook Files. When it goes up on the website I’ll post a link.
Alex Gray is the keynote speaker and the weekend features adjudications by experienced professionals like Alex Corlett, of People’s Friend Features.
Hope to see you there, ANNE
THE SHOW MUST GO ON is my second serial for People’s Friend and starts its four week run in the magazine this morning. Cover date is 18th August and readers who buy the magazine on subscription would get it last Saturday.
Talented Friend regular, Sailesh Thakrar is the illustrator and hasn’t he done a marvellous job?
The Show Must Go On started life as Behind the Scenes. It’s my observation that most playwrights who write something about the theatre call it Behind the Scenes, so I’d no problem with the team’s choice.
Doesn’t this photograph of marmalade on the boil bring to mind that stage in writing when you simply cannot get the words down quickly enough? That moment when ideas seethe and trip over one another in their haste to attract your attention and slide through your fingers onto the page?
Whether it’s a tiny haiku or your magnum opus, there is that moment when the brain behaves like a computer about to crash. You know who the murderer/lover/mother/villain/hero/heroine is now and YOU MUST TELL EVERYONE ELSE!
Then – the peace after you’ve got there –
What’s your own analogy?
Another quality product is Courting the Countess Melissa has lost her beloved husband to an early death and herself been scarred by a summer fire. Can the strikingly handsome Harry Gunn save her from despair?
One of the huge pleasures of city life is the Walking Tour. Today I went on my second garden tour with the entertaining and knowledgeable Jean of Greenyonder Tours.
0131 558 8240
This garden lies behind Register House and is known as the Archivists’ Garden. I was oblivious to its existence before this afternoon but have walked past the entrance to the court on countless occasions while cutting through from the Wellington Statue to St Andrews Square.
The court is formed of Register House, The Court of the Lord Lyon and The National Archives of Scotland. They’ve been there a long time. Register House being a grand building erected around the time the first New Town was under construction.and finished, after a few hiccups, in late eighteenth century.
The garden, however, dates from 2010 and contains 57 plant species chosen to mark Scottish people, myth, heraldry, overseas links and folklore.
Next along was the garden in front of Dundas House, or the Royal Bank of Scotland. James Craig had reserved the prime site of his prize-winning scheme for St George’s Church and was out-manoeuvred by Lawrence Dundas. The building is a working branch and anyone can walk in to look at the magnificent banking hall. Outside, Jean drew our attention to these marvellous ‘honeysuckle’ railings.
Then through the now open to the public St Andrews Square, along to Thistle Court where James Young built the first houses of the New Town. They aren’t grand six story affairs, but good middle-class buildings.
Finally, we arrived in Heriot Row, the second New Town. It wasn’t built by the council, but they had formed stronger planning guidelines by this time and that shows in the greater uniformity. The three Queen Street Gardens were created from farms and, Jean told us, that explains the crescent shape of Abercromby as it followed the boundary of one of them. A question she left with us – Is this the island Robert Louis Stevenson had in his consciousness when writing Treasure Island?
There are many more New Town gardens, some private and shut away, some, like Charlotte Square and Princes Street Gardens readily accessible. Sanctuaries for wildlife and human inhabitants, too, they are our own treasure.
This month Rhobin asks – How do you handle or use violence or any type of danger in your stories?
While the Regency is attractive in so very many ways, it was a time of huge inequality, injustice, hunger and, yes, violence. The absence of an established and regulated system of investigation, apprehension and conviction had a massive impact on how people led their lives. Duelling was almost on the way out as a re-dress for ‘insults’, but not quite gone and many families were bereft as today’s are by the rising tide of youth with knives. In addition, the head of the family, almost always a man, held sway. This had the effect you could predict. There were good ones and bad ones. There were some who cared passionately, but gave rise to the origins of the patriarchal society that feminism needed to kick against. There were some, Mr Bennet we’re looking at you, who didn’t care at all.
Justice was hit or miss and to our modern sensibilities brutal and cruel. What civilised society hangs children for stealing food? What civilised society hangs anyone for stealing food? Why are its citizens starving in the first place?
One of the underlying themes of my first novel, Mariah’s Marriage, was domestic violence. The villain, short of ready cash and feeling ‘entitled’, is frustrated in his attempt to win a rich bride and takes his rage out on his sister. She covers up for him in classic fashion, but our clever and courageous heroine works him out. She then faces another battle – How do you make a decent man who would never perpetrate such violence, understand it happens?
In Bella’s Betrothal, the heroine finds herself in enormous danger but she isn’t immediately able to work out who the greater villain is. Is it the man who has invaded her room at the inn? Is it, as he claims, another who wants to trade on her damaged reputation to justify trapping her into unwanted sex? Although written, I hope, with humour and warmth, the threat is real.
So how do I ‘use’ danger and violence in my fiction? Well, I hope responsibly, without either the need or the wish to glamourize either. They are a part of the fabric of our human experience and as such they have a place.
To read what my fellow round robiners think about this hugely important topic go here:
So what better way to round off three delightful days of sitting on our bums than by joining in a dance class to wiggle, shake and generally celebrate that often generously endowed part of the writer’s anatomy. Ali Adams’ event was innocuously described as a life story – Baby Wipes to the Burlesque Stage. The audience participation wasn’t revealed till later…
There are no photos of several distinguished and some of us not so distinguished RNA members strutting our stuff and throwing boas, lace thingummies and smouldering looks here, there and everywhere – takes practice does smouldering.
Capital Writer, Jennifer Young, was much too sensible to try any smouldering around the Sunday morning Book Stall, but she did bring along some copies of Storm Child for sale.
And me, what else did I enjoy? Found Debbie Taylor’s ‘Writing the Pitch Letter’ particularly useful and also Andrew Cornick’s ‘Emotional Resilience for Writers’. But there were as always endless goodies for the ardent conference attendee covering the art and craft of writing that best selling romance novel and making some life-long friends along the way.
Writing Scottish Regency romance – or any kind of Regency romance – means that there’s going to be an alpha male – that’s how it was, folks. So, what does this chap inspire in you? He’s alone. He’s clearly magnificent and although his feathers are down at the moment the photograph was taken, you can visualise them in full glory when he struts his stuff for the harem.
Then we have the fellow below. He’s not so lean, but he’s clearly a fine specimen. He’s also alone. Do the fine feathers inspire?
Immerse yourself in Georgian and Regency England
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