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?
This month’s round robin is the first I’ve had the opportunity to join for some time. Life became a little overwhelming in the spring when I had RNA and EWC responsibilities, a serial to finish and some wonderful expeditions to go on. The committees are now in the past. Can’t believe I’m saying that. When was the last time I wasn’t helping with something?
This elegant setting is in The Chinese Pavilion in the grounds of Sans Souci Palace, Potsdam. Our generation did not invent the afternoon tea. Potsdam was one of the expeditions.
So, dragging myself back to the topic in hand Why do you ‘write or feel compelled to write even through the difficult parts?’ Did Rhobin mean the difficult parts in the story or the difficult parts in one’s life. I’m going for the second as I feel the first is rather obvious. If you don’t write the difficult parts, who will? It’s your book.
The difficult parts of life come to everyone. Be you a bus driver or a neuro-surgeon, life will throw things at you and you just have to get on. Perhaps writers have a wee advantage here in that we’re used to exploring characters’ minds and can maybe stand aside and take an objective look at our own.
Well, maybe. I lost a very dear younger relative, last year and for a goodish while, I did not write. I went to bed early, I dealt with the business, I continued to put meals on the table, but I did have to have a meaningful break. So, in fact, I did not continue to write through the difficult part.
I’m back to it now. I know the first few things I produced weren’t that good, but there have been one or two successes since and writing feels back on track.
I’ve completed a short serial for People’s Friend and I’ll be sharing details of that nearer publication date. However, they are publishing a story I wrote for a Scottish Association of Writers’ competition in the main magazine dated today, 23rd June. I called it Woman, Invisible. They’ve gone for What Lies Beneath. I think it arises out of last year’s trauma.
Other writers exploring this topic are here:
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1gQ
Marie Laval http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Aimee) A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
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…
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