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Kobo – Omnilit – MuseItUp


Diary of a Writer – December writing prompt

The Laundry

I’ve posted this picture before. It’s already inspired a story I wrote for the Writelink site. Looking at it today, I can feel a chill and I can smell the caustic chemicals necessary at the time this laundry was state of the art. Why am I selecting it now?

Two weeks ago my washing machine finally gave up the struggle. It had been showing signs of turning its taps off for a wee while, but ever one to soldier on, I kept nursing it along. After all, it had seen me through football strips and gym kits, Mum-in-law’s skin irritation, countless back from holiday washes and so much more. Through a period approachng twenty-five years, it had been there for me.

Come the day, it would not come on.

So what will this picture inspire today? The fruitlessness of hope over expectation? The warm glow of knowing there’s a ‘new toy’ to play with?

Will it be connections? New domestic circumstances – new writing goals? Poetry? Drama? A short story? An essay (there’s plenty going on to make one want to philosophise). Maybe just the letters for my Christmas Cards.

Do you keep on keeping on? Or are you an avowed ‘out with the old in with the new’ sort?


Diary of a Writer – November prompt – Pocket Novels

Writing is really about re-writing. Perseverance will pay off as the headings from three other authors show. I thought I’d include Melissa’s story to remind self I have done it before – written and then re-written a novel. So my prompt this month is a very personal one.

The very best of good wishes to all those setting off this month on the annual NaNoWriMo challenge https://www.nanowrimo.org/

I have done it once and made the target with 50,000 words of Bella’s Betrothal. So, I know of what I speak. It ain’t easy.

Courting the Countess



Judges needed for the Romantic Novelists’ Awards



Urgent appeal for new judges for the Romantic Novel Awards


If you know anyone who loves reading books with a (sometimes quite broad) romantic theme or you can help by sharing this on your own page, I’d be eternally grateful!

Judges must be able to access books in ebook/digital format and be willing to read a variety of romantic genres, including romantic suspense, sagas, historical, romantic comedies, shorter novels and contemporary romantic fiction. Full RNA members are not eligible to judge.

Please email me at ronaawards@romanticnovelistsassociation.org for further details.

Many thanks in advance

This was posted by organiser Celia Anderson on her FB page

Surprise Price Reduction

Courting the Countess was on offer from Endeavour Media at 99p Now available for £2.99

Lady Melissa Pateley is not having an easy time of it.

Her beloved husband Neville has died, and a fire at her London home has left her covered in scars.

If it wasn’t for a band of loyal servants, she’s not sure how she would survive.

Things take a turn for the worse when one day, Colonel Harry Gunn and his fellow soldier Zed break into her home, bundle her into a coach and kidnap her.

She is at a loss until she learns that Harry Gunn is the cousin of George Gunn, a man who has been stalking her for years, and that Harry’s Uncle John had warned him that as long as George is out there, Melissa is not safe.

Uncle John insists that Harry finds Melissa and keeps her safe.

But that very night George shows up at Harry’s home with Harry’s sister Lottie, who thinks Melissa and George would make a good match.

Perhaps Melissa would have been safer at home after all.

Yet even with her scars, she is certain that the handsome Colonel Gunn is attracted to her.

But of course, nothing is ever simple.

Startling revelations rip the family apart, causing everyone to question what they once held dear.

As Colonel Gunn goes in search of George and the truth, he has to wonder – had the keeping of secrets not marred more lives than the secrets would have destroyed?

Round Robin – Plotting

Rhobin’s topic for September is about plotting. She wonders what, in designing our plots, we rely on most: personal experience, imagination or research.

This is a really difficult question to answer because its list of choices belies the delicate meshing of these three aspects of writing. They intertwine in a seamless fashion in my practice.

INMAGINATION – probably takes the lead, if I have to choose, because if you weren’t imagining, how would you progress to story? Say you’re on the bus and have to listen to a drunk setting the world to rights, by their way of thinking. It’ll be garbled non-sense, but it will have grains of their experience buried in the damaged psyche. So my writer’s brain is already at work. Did he say his mother had no time for him because she was an actress? Did she say her father had no time for her because she was female? On and on, over and over till the essence of story is distilled. That probably leads on to:

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE – so, discounting the inciting incident, be it drunk on bus, toddler having tantrum, stray deer in garden, I will consider what my wider experience of life can bring to the fledgling idea. In particular, I am influenced by place. Ocasionally, I experience a wash of feeling that alerts me to a theme long buried in my subconscious. I can only compare it to the hormonal reactions we all have when confronted by some circumstances. There’s a story here and it wants/needs to break free. This scene in the nether regions of a country house underpinned quite a few stories:

The Laundry

I can almost smell bleach just looking at it now. And that brings me rather neatly to:

RESEARCH – because memory is notoriously faulty, research is needed. I write historical romance, but I do not make up the history. I write contemporary magazine fiction, but I don’t know everything about anything, really. One of the things I find about research, particularly when working in the historical genre, is that often I don’t know what I need to know when I start writing. I will have read a lot around and in the area, studied maps of the time, looked at fashion plates, but there comes that moment of uncertainty. When were scissors invented? What year was the window tax?

Another thought provoking topic from Rhobin. Thank you Ma’am. Other writers give their take and you can read them from the links below.

Capital Writers will have a bit of news shortly. Come back soon to find it out.


Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1IK
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Diary of a Writer – October

Being a mum of school-age children, daughter of a widowed mum and daughter-in-law of two, meant that the summer in years past passed in a blur. I used to look forward intensely, immensely to a small conference held in early October in Pitlochry. It was run by various people over the years and the late Hugh Rae used to attract speakers he’d met at Swanwick (a much bigger conference}.

My own room in Scotland’s Hotel was bliss and the first day of the first year I attended, the time between 4pm and 6pm stretched almost to infinity. As anyone with children knows, their blood sugar levels as tea-time approaches lead to all sorts…

Alas, that event is no more, but I still have an internal clock that gears up to chime in late September/early October.

The reason for posting October while September is still with us is to publicise the wonderful EDINBURGH WRITERS’CLUB, which has its opening meeting on Monday 23rd September and of which I have the honour to be a Life Member. So, October first would be too late! The approach of the first club meeting is a wonderful stimulus.

The opening night speaker is Caroline Dunford, novelist. Caroline is currently chair of The Society of Authors in Scotland.

Meetings are held in the Grosvenor Hilton Hotel in Grosvenor Street at 7.30 pm. Come along around 7 on the opening night to join or pay the guest night fee and try it out.

The website is here Edinburgh Writers’ Club

In addition, being a member of the EWC entitles a person to enter their internal competitions which is useful if you’re trying to discover what genre suits you. It also entitles you to enter the competitions run by the Scottish Association of Writers. Some of their competitions, associated with the weekend school in March, are now open.

Scottish Association of Writers

So, I’ll be back soon with September’s Round Robin, but in the meantime Keep Writing (or Start, make this the year)


Diary of a Writer – September Prompt

This is one of several restored benches in the grounds and gardens of Trumland House, Isle of Rousey, Orkney.

As those of you who have read Bella’s Betrothal will know, I’m interested in and inspired by the work of the great Scottish Victorian architects. Trumland was designed by David Bryce in 1875 for Sir Frederick Traill-Burroughs. Frederick was marrying a much younger and aristocratic lady, Eliza. He wanted to impress.

So, does this little bench inspire romantic thoughts?

My work in progress is gathering momentum now the Edinburgh Festivals are behind us. I also have a few ideas garnered from that trip to Orkney. I added Stronsay to my list of Orkney islands. Truly beautiful in the summer sunshine with Meadowsweet in bloom everywhere.

How were your holidays? Did you come home enthused?


Round Robin – Travel or Holidays in Fiction

This month Rhobin has asked us to post an extract from one of our novels dealing with either travel or holidays. I have chosen the second book I wrote for MuseItUp, Bella’s Betrothal. It opens in the midst of a journey Lady Isabella Wormsley has had to undertake with only her maid and some retainers to accompany her. A lady travelling alone is vulnerable, but some of them are no pushover…

Blurb for Bella’s Betrothal:

While she is travelling north to find sanctuary from the malicious gossip of the Ton, Lady Isabella Wormsley’s room in a Dalkeith inn is invaded by handsome Scottish Laird, Charles Lindsay. Charles has uncovered a plot to kidnap her, but Bella wonders if he isn’t a more dangerous threat, at least to her heart, than the villainous Graham Direlton he wrests her from. Bella settles into the household of her Aunt Hatty Menzies in Edinburgh’s nineteenth century George Square where Charles is a regular visitor. She has been exiled to the north by her unfeeling mama, but feels more betrayed by her papa to whom she has been close. Bella hopes the delivery of her young cousin’s baby will eventually demonstrate her own innocence in the scandal that drove her from home. Bella’s presence disrupts the lives of everyone connected to her. Direlton makes another attempt to kidnap her and in rescuing her a second time, Charles is compromised. Only a betrothal will save his business and Bella’s reputation. Mayhem, murder and long suppressed family secrets raise confusion and seemingly endless difficulties. Will the growing but unacknowledged love between Bella and her Scottish architect survive the evil Direlton engineers?

The stableyard was a cold and unattractive place at seven on a September morning. There was a light drizzle and the clouds kept the smoke from the town’s fires low over the surrounding streets. Lindsay’s retainer watched in silence as Bella’s coachman and groom strapped the overnight luggage into place. She was surprised to see her men defer to him. They had found fault and irritation with ostlers and grooms and inn landlords all the way north, but Macdonald calmed them. “Where is Mr. Lindsay, Lachie?” Bella asked when he handed her onto the step of the carriage. “I thought he regarded it as imperative I did not stir a foot without his supervision.” “And nor do I, ma’am,” Lindsay said before his steward could speak. He walked two riding horses across the yard. They were serviceable enough, but not the kind of prime bloodstock Bella was used to. “I wanted to keep the horses moving and Lachie is more at ease with the tack of a travelling coach than I.” She looked over her shoulder and the sight of Charles Lindsay in fresh linen and a magnificent heather-coloured riding coat lifted her spirits. He was clean shaven and despite his night-time wanderings, radiated energy and authority. This was how her morning departures should have been, Bella thought. One of her brothers or her cousin, Humphrey Plumpton, should have been in the yards of the wretched inns having dealt with payment and new horses and all the myriad irritations a traveller faced. “Are you unwell, my lady?” Lindsay asked. “No sir. Let us get off.” Bella spoke crossly and regretted it when Lindsay’s expression showed his displeasure at her rudeness, but there was nothing she could
do to retrieve the moment. Pride would not let her admit her family had cast her off without an escort. The pain of that betrayal was like an open wound. She settled into the carriage beside Sophie and let the girl tuck a thick blanket around her. Lindsay had mounted and leaned down from his saddle to speak through the open window. “We checked on Direlton’s men earlier, gave them water. They should be discovered when the grave-diggers reach that corner of the kirkyard later this morning,” he said, and Bella’s eyes widened. “You are surprised, ma’am, but I do not want any bodies laid to my door.” “Nor I, on my behalf,” she said, although truthfully if Aubrey Daunton had died after her cousins horse-whipped him, she would not have been moved to pray for his soul. “Was this all necessary, Mr. Lindsay? Could you not simply have offered me your escort?” “We will not agree, Lady Isabella, so let us not spoil the final stage of your journey by revisiting my actions and decisions. I see you have dressed in robust clothing. Thank you for taking that care.” He leaned away and the carriage lurched forward towards the pend. Bella lifted the window glass and sat back with her eyes closed. The wheels beneath her began to roll rhythmically and she allowed a long breath to escape. It was foolish to cherish his words of praise for her behaviour in dressing as he had instructed, but the closeness of his person as he spoke made her pulse run faster. Smethwick, her coachman, yelled his displeasure at some unfortunate, and Bella felt a smile tease the corners of her mouth. Her parents may have sent her into the world with scant care, but Smethwick and Grimes had been her rocks. And Sophie. She sensed the girl was falling into sleep. They had had little enough last night. * * * *
Bella roused from a troubled doze when Grimes’s harsh accents rent the air. “It’s Mr. Menzies hisself, Smethwick. He must ’ave took care to get hisself ’ere before us, think you?” The other man grunted in assent and began to slow the horses to a walk. Uncle Mack, Bella thought, instantly awake and horrified by the tears welling and spilling. How good it was to reach Edinburgh’s environs at last and have someone waiting for her. Someone sweet and familiar who would not crossquestion her or criticise. “Quickly, Sophie, unwrap me from this rug so that I may greet my uncle.” She pulled the thick folds away from her skirts and sat impatiently while her maid tucked stray hair into place beneath her bonnet. The once elegant head gear was much battered by its journey north and the last hour or two of chance sleep had left it unsalvageable. The girl splashed lavender water onto a handkerchief and dabbed it behind Bella’s ears and onto her wrists. “Thank you, Sophie,” Bella said as the carriage lurched to a halt and Smethwick called to his team. Within a minute the door opened and her uncle stood there. Bella burst into sobs. Great sobs wracked her slight frame and she couldn’t speak. “Calmly now, my dear, calmly,” Uncle Mack said. He hauled the step down and clambered into the vehicle. His weight caused it to rock, but Bella didn’t care. Warmth and love enveloped her every bit as surely as her uncle’s ample personage. Why had she had to travel hundreds of miles to find comfort? “Uncle, I’m sorry. I am so very sorry to be such a watering pot,” she managed between the sobs that shook her shoulders. Her uncle nodded to Sophie and took the girl’s place beside her. His arms came around her, and he gathered her to him like the lost child she was. “Now, my dear, here is James, who you can see has grown beyond anything
since you met him two years ago,” Uncle Mack said, and his words brought a gangly youth forward. The reins of two horses trailed from his left hand. “Why, James,” Bella said as she recognised her uncle and aunt’s eldest son.”You are so tall.” She scrabbled to find a handkerchief and mopped up the tears on her pale skin. “But I would have known you.” “Cousin Bella,” the boy said. A fiery blush swept over his youthful features. “It is so good to have you with us again. Faither, will I ride back and lead your horse? My mither is anxious to have our cousin safely at home.” “Truth to tell, Bella, I prefer to share your carriage, if you think the team will manage up the slope off the toll road?” Uncle Mack asked, but clearly had no doubt because he waved James on as he spoke. Smethwick soon started up the team and the little procession moved off. She lay against her uncle, content to feel the rise and fall of his chest and the tapping of his fingers on her shoulder as he prattled.

Buy Bella’s Betrothal Here

The authors below are also contributing this month and you might go on over to their sites to see how their characters travel or holiday, too.


Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Marie Laval http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1GK
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com


Diary of a Writer – Virtual Book Festival

Today, August 21st, I’m featured in The Virtual Book Festival, hosted on Put It In Writing by Anne Stormont. Do pop over and leave a word…

Virtual Book Festival: Event 20 – Historical Novelist Anne Stenhouse @anne_stenhouse #VirtBookFest #writing #historicalfiction #books

Maybe you’d like to catch up with some of the other interesting and varied participants who’ve appeared before me, too.


More of July

Yesterday saw seven young ladies represent the Edinburgh Seven who were deprived of their rightful degrees in the 1870s and accept posthumous ones on their behalf. The story of the fight to open up careers other than marriage and motherhood to women is full of individual examples of courage in the face of astonishing resistance. None more so perhaps than the medical world.

When my sons were small, I took one of them to our GP Practice. Consultation over, I prompted him to thank the doctor, a young woman. She smiled and said, “Sometimes they say at this point, are we going to see the real doctor now?”

I’ve never forgotten and I was therefore delighted to be asked to write the short article pictured above and available in the People’s Friend 6th July edition.

In other writing news, I did write up a wee story about the visiting deer, and it’s off for consideration. Fingers crossed.