Diary of a Writer – Admin

Some time ago

Tackling some long-g-g-g overdue admin tasks included clearing out a file dated 2010. Imagine my surprise when this fell out!

My ‘book’ tells me the story was called The Man In the Moon and it went on to be sold after the comp to Story magazine.

Off to the bank soon as the actual fiver is paper and I’ll need to change it for a plastic one. Despite the huge difference in what it would have bought and will now buy, I was really chuffed.

And I now have a working (for me anyway) synopsis. Relief doesn’t begin to describe that reaction.

How’s your writing world this grey Monday?

Anne

Diary of a Writer – May Prompt

Mailboxes

I believed I’d open this post with a photograph of one of Corsica’s beautiful flowers, but on scrolling through the pics I took on my recent trip to that amazing island, I remembered I’d been really taken by this piece. Is it furniture? Maybe it’s what one would call a ‘fitting’. The little panels still have names in some cases so there shouldn’t be any confusion for Monsieur or Madame. The possibilities, however, are endless. Expecting a cheque? You can see an envelope with a bank’s logo thereon through the tiny portcullis – but it’s in the next door box to yours. A love letter? News of a job or a sick relative? So near and, without that key, so far.

Endless possibilities, endless scope, endless fun. What does it conjure for you?

Have you visited Capital Writers April catch-up post yet? Some of my writing friends have been very busy indeed.

Rejection e-mail from the lovely ed. Hurumph! Ah well, goes with the job, doesn’t it? Must try harder. With that wonderful post box above, there’s no excuse.

Anne

Re-reading is such a Pleasure

City of Discoveries

Gathering momentum towards the final resolutions, City of Discoveries has been a joy to follow on the Daily Serial slot from People’s Friend.

Full Blooms

Orchids are a rewarding flower to keep but sometimes the ‘keeping’ can be a while. Two and a half years in the case of the yellow one. The tall pink one, on the other hand, blooms almost year round. So these are for my editor, Alan Spink, who chose City of Discoveries for this second outing. Thanks, Alan.

What are you re-reading? Is it your own? The sublime Georgette’s? Or AN Other’s?

Anne

Diary of a Writer – April Prompt

London

Will this edited photo of me, taken by my Uni friend, Miranda Kennet, inspire anyone?

Well, firstly, Miranda is an artist, Miranda McArthur, and was keen to try out the softwear she’d been sent by a friend. Secondly, she thought the pics of me available online at that time were uniformly bad. (Hides head in shame) I must say, I do like the slightly more sophisticated appearance given by her softwear. Maybe it will inspire me to think myself into circumstances worthy of a story.

Scottish Association of Writers Conference

At the conference last month, I attended Olga Wojtas’s workshop on creating fiction out of historical fact. It, too, involved changing one’s view of oneself. In the workshop, Olga invited us to remember an event which had an emotional impact on us. Then, before writing it up, to change our sex. So, girls became boys and boys became girls. Did this distance us from the incident enough to make more objective decisions? Did it empower us to answer the perpetrator differently?

I hadn’t answered at all in the incident I chose, but others did find becoming male made them more assertive, for example.

I imagine everyone finds themselves furious with themselves from time to time when wrong-footed or left gasping over a verbal insult. Why didn’t I say…

Writing fiction, we have ample opportunity to craft perfect replies for all situations. Let’s get to it. Bullies, verbal and physical, beware the power of the pen.

Synopsis writing has at last turned the corner. Being confined to my study while a new carpet was laid on the landing and staircase was a material factor.

Really enjoying the Daily Serial manifestation of City of Discoveries.

How are things with your writing?

Anne

A Second Life

City of Discoveries

Re-running on the People’s Friend website is my anniversary serial set in Dundee and Australia. Jennet Marshall is the subject of unwanted attention from the foreman, Fleming. However, an unsuspected champion is on her side.

City of Discoveries

DC Thomson are running a strand of the City of Discoveries serial I wrote for them to mark their 150th anniversary of continuous publication of the People’s Friend Magazine. It began in January 2019 in the magazine and these excerpts are available on their website, link below at City of Discoveries. The illustration is by Mandy Dixon and remains as colourful and attractive now as it was then.

City of Discoveries

Anne

ROUND ROBIN – February

Describe a flawed character you might use as a heroine or hero in a story. How did they become so flawed? How might their flaws affect the story and what will happen to them?

Hullo from a snowy overcast Edinburgh. I know that some of you wouldn’t regard what I see out of the window this morning as being snow – or anything approaching it – but as it hardly ever snows in Edinburgh, I stand by my view.

A Retreating Writer

The pic above was taken in Assynt when the DH and I made a winter trip there and saw it under snow for the first time. Our normal visits having been during the summer months.

What has the weather to do with using flawed characters in one’s writing? What if my brain conflates the image above with the dusting of white on the front path this morning? Because I am not a cold weather person and, matter of fact, dislike snow a lot, any snow triggers a disproportionate reaction in my brain. That’s a flaw in my character which might affect my behaviour and that of others.

It’s a flaw, or warp, that might cause me to stay at home missing an important event, a treat, a funeral, the opportunity to secure a job… the list is endless.

Moving on to the other types of flaws. Supposing a person has been brought up in a family group that believes ALL of the people in another family are EVIL. They live in circumstances where it’s difficult or impossible to avoid the other clan entirely. But at a crucial moment in their development, they are being taught, and influenced, by a teacher from outside the area. That person doesn’t know which family is aligned with which or, if they do, ignores the implications of such a feud. The teacher is either wholly rational (not everyone in any family can be evil) or their own irrationalities are different.

In due course, our flawed character finds themselves in danger together with one of the hated clan. They must work in harmony to save themselves/the local hospital/the barn storing the winter grain/ something IMPORTANT. They do.

Having discovered that at least one member of the other family is not a bad person, a conflict has been set up. How does the character settle back into the old life? The story is likely to be the struggle they have to climb out of hatred into rationality.

This character flaw – accepting as gospel what Mum, Dad and the other relatives say without question – is the basis of much great literature. The tragedy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, for example. The hero and heroine move rapidly to a place of acceptance, but the families do not.

A lot of the work of one of my favourite writers, Georgette Heyer, is based on the flawed character, but is to comic effect. In Friday’s Child, for example, Sherry, Viscount Sheringham, is told within the first few pages of the book why his chosen bride won’t have him. The flaws of his character are laid out for the reader and the rest of the book is the tale of how he is made to face up to and overcome them before achieving his true life’s partner (not, by the way, the one of the opening).

And in my writing?

I’m currently tackling the planning of a serial and I have a flawed character who will in due course influence events. It’s a she and her character flaws relate to the problems of insularity and are the product of upbringing. I’m using her to encapsulate much of what is wrong in the society she inhabits. Will there be hope arising from her eventual story arc? I’m very keen to find out. Will she be affected by her ‘journey’ – oh yes!

My fellow robins, listed below, all have something to say on this subject. Do drop in on their blogs, too, and please, if you find our pieces of interest would you consider sharing through your facebook or Twitter channels? Warm thanks in advance.

Anne

COURTING THE COUNTESS

COURTING THE COUNTESS (US)

COURTING THE COUNTESS (AUS)

COURTING THE COUNTESS (Esp)

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2yB

Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

And – on to the next?

Hold it!

Are there persistent ideas easing their way into your brain? Is there one in particular that will not back off no matter how hard you push back on the door?

The idea for another historical serial to present to my editor for consideration has been fermenting since I attended an online talk as a guest last summer. I asked to be allowed a ticket because the subject matter resonated, because I have read and appreciated other work of the speaker and because – well, isn’t all our writing out of our own experience and the talk was closely related to mine?

I don’t want to give too much away because things are still very tentative and much reading up is still to be done. However, I did want to make a writerly comment.

I went along to my writers’. group the other night – Edinburgh Writers’ Club – where the excellent Claire Wingfield was leading a workshop on mentoring. Principally, she was helping us to see what out project was and what was blocking it.

I can’t speak for the others, but I quickly realised that I was blocking my progress and there were practical things I could do to overcome that blockage. Firstly, I exchanged e-mails with a club member who had offered some help. Secondly, I went back to Google and typed in a diffferent search term. Bingo!

Finding the answer to a question which has troubled me all the way through nurturing this idea, has released the block. I now have my heroine, her love interest, her detractors and her purpose in life. Scenes are popping up in my mind. Ancillary questions ditto. What a difference a cleared path makes to the thought processes.

I hope you’ve all had a similarly enlightening week.

Anne

Courting the Countess

Diary of a Writer February Prompt

RBGE

Coming up for Valentine’s Day and do I have a romantic notion in my head? No.

On the other hand, I did take this photograph of a passion flower in the RBGE last year and I post it here for you to gaze upon and think around.

Much of my recent reading has been for the Book Group, Jackie Kay’s Trumpet which I thought was a beautifully crafted work about love and bereavement. Or has been non-fiction – Peter Ross’s Tomb with a View which I found to be a well-researched and well-written book about not only cemeteries, but some of the folk buried in them. Recommended by Joanne in her Portobella Book Blog. An excellent blog where I have discovered many titles in the past.

Currently, I have Georgette Heyer’s The Quiet Gentleman in hand and am looking forward to moving onto Cecilia Peartree’s The Case of the Late Capybara. Cecilia is a fellow Capital Writer and cozy crime writer extraordinaire.

It is also the case that I went to the online launch last Sunday of Rosemary Gemmells

Dark Delusion and have that treat to look forward to.

So, what have I been writing? A short story of 3,000 words was completed on Sunday afternoon. I don’t do New Year Resolution’s but I saw a fellow writer was going to try a short story a month, so I opened a file called January story. Hmn! Won’t say too much in case I jinx it…

How is your own writing going? Got a Valentine short you’d like to share?

Courting the Countess

Anne

Round Robin – Writing of the Pandemic

:Thanks to Connie Vines for this month’s topic.

How are you dealing with the COVID pandemic in your contemporary novels/short
stories? Not as a political statement or polarizing pro/con mask stance,
but the way the COVD virus affects the day-to-day lives of your
characters and appears within the story’s plot line?

On Christmas morning last year, a writing friend died. As so often happens when someone dies, I thought of my association with her, the times we’d been in company, some of her conversation and some of her writing. Also she had a pre-writing life as a Health Ambassador in Pakistan and Afghanistan which she came to through her work with Oxfam.

I remember her telling a group of us about how she explained germs to women who’d never thought of such a thing. She had a glass jug of water and asked them to watch her pour salt into it. Could they see the salt? No. Did they know the salt was there? Yes.

I think that explains how I’m dealing with the pandemic in my writing. I know it’s there but I’m not making a big thing of it. I may mention that my characters are working from home without spelling out why. My readers are living through this time, too. They know why most people working from home are doing that.

Most of my recent writing has been set in the nineteenth century and so I’ve avoided the issues thrown at us by the pandemic but I have written two contemporary short stories recently and one of them refers to the pandemic, if obliquely, because it explains a decision that would otherwise seem a little odd. The other one doesn’t. The second one has a plotline that didn’t need the pandemic and so I missed it out.

However, I do think the pandemic stories are there in my brain and will seep out over the next year or two. I hope they’ll be upbeat and show people coping with technology they never thought they’d need to know about. Maybe there’ll be the re-kindling of romance in established couples. Possibly the finding again of lost skills and pastimes. How many of us dug out jigsaws? If any of you followed my lockdown diary (it’s on this blog – scroll down) you may remember the way I was plunged into cooking three meals a day seven days a week. Nettle soup? You may remember the joy, absolute joy, of being sent a dinner by my children to mark the DH’s birthday.

Also, I think it has caused a re-evaluation of what it is to live. There are stories in the idiosyncrasies of one’s neighbours. There are stories in the sudden moments of blind panic most of us experienced – when will this end type panic? There are heroic stories of the people who not only kept our health service operating, but those who kept our utilities running and the paper being delivered and the post. The people who went into work stocking shelves in our supermarkets.

And there are the people who were less than heroic. I won’t give examples, but I’ve got one or two in the memory bank.

Some fellow Robins are listed below and I’m sure their views will be worth reading.

Thanks for dropping by,

Anne

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Dr. Bob Rich  https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2wY 

Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/

Helena Fairfax https://helenafairfax.com/blog/

Robin Courtright