Winner Burns’ Night Blog Hop

Janice Hougland is the winner of a copy of Bella’s Betrothal from the Burns’ Night blog Hop.

The winner was chosen randomly from the names left between Saturday and midnight, UK time, on Monday 27th.

Janice said her favourite bits of Burns work were from My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose and Tae a Mouse. She comments that the best laid schemes of men and mice ‘gang aft agley’ is most often rendered into modern usage. I think that kind of universal understanding of human nature is what makes Robert Burns as interesting today as he was in his own lifetime.

So, congratulations, Janice Hougland, winner of Bella’s Betrothal. Mariah’s Marriage US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK


Burns Night Blog Hop

There are prizes connected with this blog hop. The rafflecopter grand prizes are 1 x $50 Amazon GC and 5 x $10 Amazon GCs. Now, how exciting is that. Here’s the link for you to try your luck:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if that isn’t enough of an incentive Novels Now is offering an e-copy of my Scottish set book, Bella’s Betrothal, to one lucky commenter on this Novels Now post. Winner will be chosen at random. To be in with a chance, please leave your comment by Midnight, UK time on Monday 27th January. I think several of the other blogs you might be hopping to by clicking on the writer’s name, below, are also offering individual prizes. You could be a click or two away from a huge haul of goodies. Good Luck with that.

Greyfriars Bobby - a capital landmark

Greyfriars Bobby – a capital landmark

This blog hop is organised in honour of Scotland’s National bard, Robert Burns. Burns was a tragic figure in some ways. He struggled financially and with the hardships of the life of his times. He died young and perhaps too soon. My novel, Bella’s Betrothal is set in Edinburgh after Burns’ death.

It is known he visited the capital and several places in the city bear plaques or names acknowledging that. The Writers’ Museum in Lady Stair’s House off the Lawn Market contains standing exhibitions to Burns, Scott and Stevenson. It’s a great place to visit. The restored house gives an idea of what an early and rich city dwelling was like. The houses were much altered and divided over time, but what has been created here is delightful. The courtyard outside is paved with flags paying tribute to other great Scottish writers.

Most people will recognise something from Burns’ pen. Ae fond Kiss, perhaps, that gorgeous love song of despair. Tae a Mouse, the comic, but sympathetic poem from harvest time and the towering Tam O’ Shanter. With its witches and after hours goings on, who can fail to find something in that rich tapestry of Ayrshire life. It often comes to mind when I wander into an old graveyard with an abandoned church reduced to half walls and covered in strangling ivy.

Let’s raise a glass tonight to one of Scotland’s most gifted writers and social observers. Thank you for dropping by. Don’t forget to leave a comment. Tell us which poem or song of the Bard’s is your favourite, perhaps. and then Hop along to one of the other participating blogs to see what’s doing there.

The Other Awsome blogs:

1. Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains 9. Inner Goddess 17. Nina Mason
2. Samantha Holt 10. Hunter S. Jones 18. Kate Robbins
3. A Dirty Book Affair 11. Christina Phillips 19. Scenes from a Chaotic Mind
4. Anne Conley 12. Andrea Bellmont 20. Sarah Bella
5. Em Taylor 13. Isobelle Cate 21. Joanne Wadsworth
6. Kirsten S. Blacketer 14. Storm Chase 22. Anne Stenhouse
7. Willa Blair 15. Ceci Giltenan 23. BJ Scott
8. Nicole Hurley- Moore 16. Tarah Scott Mariah’s Marriage US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK

Visiting at MuseItUp’s mainstream blog. Who’s the fellow?

I’m out today over on MuseitUp’s mainstream blog. What are your fond memories and resolutions, they asked?

Fond memory of 2013, year of first book publication, has to be obvious, but is it?

Pop across and find out. Mariah’s Marriage US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK

A Picture Tells a Thousand Words

Devil Baby, Melbourne Festival 2011

Devil Baby, Melbourne Festival 2011

The cover art for a book is very important. It catches the eye of the potential buyer. It offers clues about what’s inside. It invites the reader in – or – it keeps the reader out.

Mariah's Marriage

My truly lovely cover art for Mariah’s Marriage is by CK Volnek. We had a few exchanges back and forth and agreed on this. I like it because it encapsulates, in the girl’s expression, so much of her character as it unfolds through the text. It was only after I became a published novelist that I realised something I’d known subliminally for a long time. The cover art is an important part of the writer’s relationship with the book.

As a wannabee writer, I’d sat through countless talks where writers, particularly children’s writers, complained bitterly about the covers of their books. Children’s writers go into schools and are asked by children readers things like:
“Why does Timmy have red hair in the book and black hair on the cover? It spoiled it for me.”
As well it might.

My publishers, MuseItUp, have a very good cover art form and a principle question is what colour is the protagonist’s hair.

My first published story was called Stereotypes and it was illustrated. Magazines don’t, in my experience, consult about the illustration. This is unlikely to matter. They have their house style for illustration just as for the content, but in the case of Stereotypes, the artist used the stereotype and to my mind sent the wrong signals. The story was about a role reversal where the Prof turned out to be female and the cleaner male. Sadly, the story was illustrated by a man in a suit! It niggled at the time, although being my first sale, I was too starry eyed to make any kind of fuss.

Once the magazine is published of course, it doesn’t come again. With books, the writer may have an opportunity to change if rights revert. You might want to change in order to modernise if time has passed. Illustration, like anything else, alters over time. What is new and exciting today may be old and tired by the next time.

The photograph at the head of this post was taken in Melbourne of an exhibit in the Angels and Demons street sculpture exhibition. The figure is challenging, stark, mischievous. The angels, with wings not tails, were no less so and certainly not reassuring. What kind of story would they best illustrate? I’d go for a story about that teenage into young adult stage when one’s relatives encapsulate both the dark and the light almost in the same breath, the same sentence, the same heartbeat. What do you think?

My cover for Bella’s Betrothal, again by CK Volnek.

The girl has just that head of red corkscrew curls one sees in Scotland from time to time, the man is an outline – someone yet to be known, and the skyline sets it in Edinburgh with the forbidding lines of the castle behind. I love it. It truly enhances my relationship with the book. Mariah’s Marriage US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK

Writing, Just Writing

A secret garden

A secret garden

Some people will recognise this wee chap. He sits guarding the entrance to a ‘secret’ garden somewhere in the north-east of Scotland. I’ve visited there on several occasions and enjoyed peace, spectacular scenery and warm hospitality. It’s a place where I’ve retreated to write and written. I have fond memories and I’m grateful.

Back at the ranch, it’s not so easy to carve out the time to write and once you do there’s always the pull of what else is going on around and about. As the days and weeks pass online marketing becomes more of an issue and other things, like writing the next novel or story or play, have to fight even harder for attention. I mention this for two reasons.

First up is having just deleted around 6,000 unwanted spam e-mails from the my post office box I use. As hardly anyone ever sends me a bona-fide e-mail to that box, I rarely go there. This turns out to be a huge mistake. Why do people send, over and over, e-mails about floor mops, accounts I don’t have with banks, pharmaceutical preparations for the enhancement of an organ I don’t have? So, in trying to be accessible to people who might want to ask a genuine question, I’m deluged by rubbish that has to dealt with and steals my time.

Second in my problems’ list is the unwritten. I was replying to a FB post when I realised I’d probably written a blog post about the same subject. I can’t track it down, but the gist was this: I hate finishing anything once I’ve worked out the puzzle. So, my husband should think himself lucky that there’s all those jars of marmalade downstairs. I can’t think how many times I’ve made it. When it comes to knitting, same problem. After I’ve seen how the pattern looks, I find it incredibly hard to complete the garment. That’s the insidious attraction of FB and Twitter. Every post brings something new and interesting. A challenge. A puzzle to unravel. Mariah’s Marriage at Mariah’s Marriage at Bella’s Betrothal at Australia Bella’s Betrothal at UK Bella’s Betrothal at

Keeping on going with the regular is so hard, but in the end that’s what creates. I need a deadline. Is there an editor out there? Even just a little chap to wave me in and guard the door of time would be a help.

Blog Round Ups of 2013

BELLA’S BETROTHAL caught the eye of reviewer Tina Williams and she posted a super five star review of the book around its publication.
Tina has now posted her favourite books of 2013 on her blog A Reader’s Review and not only mentions Bella’s Betrothal as one of her favourite historicals, but says she was so impressed, she’s also bought my debut novel Mariah’s Marriage. Tina’s blog is here:

Published yesterday by fellow Edinburgh Writers’ Club member, Kate Blackadder, is a post on her Kate Writes and Reads blog.

Kate also mentions Bella’s Betrothal as among her memorable books of the year.

Thank you ladies and thank you to all the great folk who take time out of busy lives to offer reviews. It truly helps.


Stella Bella

This was the wine my clever husband sourced for the launch of Bella’s Betrothal. May I raise a virtual glass to all you lovely visitors who drop by and comment from time to time on my ramblings. We saw the New Year arrive from the Braid Farm Road which snakes along one of the hill tops in this hilly city. Edinburgh lay below us and we could see two of the synchronised fireworks displays and many, many smaller ones across the town and over the Forth away up into Fife. A calm and not terribly cold night enticed lots of people out to do the same. Wetter today and now very dark

Happy New Year to you all. Anne