Party, party,party

Writing is a solitary occupation.

Joan Hessayon contenders 2014

Joan Hessayon contenders 2014

That’ll be why Lin Treadgold is seen here, front centre, partying.

JK Rowling famously wrote in an Edinburgh café. I’ve written on stage sets when the actor needed extra words or different words. I’ve also written in a café, but I wouldn’t like readers to think I’m jumping on any bandwagons.

I did, too, rush to record my impression of arriving in Istanbul airport. It was busy with a returning pilgrimage and crowded with people in their pilgrimage clothes. Not a little surreal to be surrounded by large bearded gentlemen in pristine white robes. I needed to get the impression down.

But truly, the most common experience of writing is in a bubble of aloneness. Here’s Edinburgh JH contender, Jennifer Young.

Jennifer Young

Jennifer Young

A lot of dramatic work these days, particularly comedy scripting is collaborative. It’s really hard to go on thinking up fresh ideas, so having a buddy or buddies to test them against is a good thing. Here’s Helena Fairfax, glamorous in red, with friends.


Helena Fairfax

Helena Fairfax

As always, the Romantic Novelists’ Association put on a lovely evening at their Summer Party following the AGM. Sponsored by Dr. David Hessayon in memory of his late wife, the Joan Hessayon award marks that moment when a writer ‘graduates’ from the New Writers’ Scheme into publication. I was a contender last year with Mariah’s Marriage and like the three ladies mentioned above, I wasn’t the winner on the night, but I had a wonderful time.

Party, party, party because tomorrow you return to the cave and solitary contemplation.

ps the winner in 2014 was Jo Thomas with The Oyster Catcher. Congratulations. Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK


The MOST inspiring, romantic or dangerous




Topic: What is the most inspiring, romantic, or dangerous setting you ever come across while reading or imagined while writing? Do you have a preference for a certain time and place for a story?

Wow! This is a difficult one because it covers a lot of emotional ground.

There’s a book called The Memory of Love written by Aminatta Forno. It’s set in Sierra Leone after the civil war and I could, with hand on heart, say it includes the most inspiring, most romantic and most dangerous settings I’ve read about. The three main protagonists are the local villain, the visiting UK psychiatrist and the young local hospital doctor.

It’s inspiring because it shows how normality returns to domestic and political life after even the traumas of civil war. And it’s set under huge African skies with endless beaches, too.

It’s romantic because the love between man and woman is central to the story. And because, for one half of one of the couples, the African experience is what tips him into the romance.

It’s dangerous because the possibility of war and outrages, betrayals and acts of superhuman kindness go on forever. And the truth has not always come out in everyday life.

So, the short answer is Sierra Leone.

Part Two: Do you have a preference for a certain time and place for a story?

When I’m writing the story and it’s novel length, then yes, I do. That would be nineteenth century Edinburgh or London. It would be after the Napoleonic wars are over and probably just post Regency, although still with the Georgians in the person of George Fourth.

I enjoy that moment when English becomes modern. I studied Anglo Saxon and Middle English as part of my degree and when you get to Jane Austen, there’s a sigh of relief. No more looking up every second spelling in the dictionary or fretting over the grammar.

In terms of place, I love the architecture of Edinburgh, where I live, and London where I am able to visit. I would like to write about Bath, too, but I’ve only been once and that was to buy a wedding present, so I don’t feel I know it well enough. However, I am hoping to include some Scottish country towns in future projects.

When I’m reading, then I’m open to different times and places. I read a lot of historical fiction, but through the good offices of my Book Group, a lot of modern writing, too. The Memory of Love, for instance, was a book group read.

There are other bloggers involved in this topic and you may follow on by clicking  Diane Bator’s link or reach any of them from the links below:

* Lynn Crain at
* Anne Stenhouse at
* Diane Bator at
* Geeta Kakade at
* Connie Vines at
* Marci Baun
* Beverley Bateman at
* Ginger Simpson at
* Margaret Fieland at 
* Fiona McGier at
* Rhobin Courtright at

* Heidi Thomas Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK

DAISY’S DILEMMA new novel tickled the editors’ fancies

100_4575DAISY’S DILEMMA continues the story of Daisy Longreach. Lady Daisy made a passing, but dramatic, impression in Mariah’s Marriage. She’s Toby’s much younger sister and, as with many much younger sisters, by turns delightful moppet and scheming minx.

MuseItUp have sent me a contract and we hope to have Daisy’s story on your e-reader early in 2015.

How exciting is that?

And if it’s not exciting enough, Bella’s Betrothal, my scintillating Edinburgh based novel of family intrigue and architecture is offered at 50% off until 30th May from Bookstrand Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK


Fillers, photographs and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee: My Writing Process


Thanks to Kate Blackadder for inviting me to follow on in the My Writing Process blog tour. Kate’s lovely blog Kate Writes and Reads can be found here:

Kate Writes and Reads

Like Kate, I’ve been asked to feature this tour before, but writing is such an interesting and changing landscape, and Kate is so persuasive, I could only agree.

What am I working on?

I need to be a little circumspect here because although I am writing a new novel, it’s a piece that I intend to enter into a competition. Maybe I can tell you about something non-fiction I have in mind.

I’ve contributed lots of short stuff over a period to a lovely Scottish interest magazine called Scottish Memories. It’s full of interesting stuff about things their readers might remember. I’ve written about bus trips, a new car and where I was for the Queen’s Silver jubilee – up a mountain, since you ask. It had as much water as you can see here, but it wasn’t anything like as warm. 100_4022

So I thought, I might try a piece for them about how history books and historical works inspire and inform my writing. I’ll let you know how I get on. If you’ve got an album full of family photographs, you might find an outlet there, too.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, I bet your family photo album also contains lots of brides with bouquets of lilies and hugely trailing swathes of fern. The trick is to make it appealingly different. I’ve found the editor appreciates a slight slant on the stuff asked for. Yes, huge numbers of folk went to street parties to mark various Royal Jubilees, but how many of us went up a mountain, on Harris? That’s what I try to offer her, a wee bit of quirkiness that’s still a possibility.

Why do I write what I do?

Any novelist will tell you that the whole is made up of myriad little bits. Writing workshops frequently offer a ‘picture starter’ and I find them so helpful. Finding an evocative picture in my collection is a great jumping off point and it’s lovely to craft a wee piece and send it off.

It’s also true that we all like a bit of success. A novel takes a long time to write and a long time to produce, so it keeps the spirits up to have a few successes along the way, however short.

My Writing Process 

When it comes to short stuff, I often find the editor’s request is a sufficient trigger. What was I doing on Jubilee night, was enough to start a hunt for photos I knew I had. Equally, seeing a particular photograph can prompt a memory. I then write free-flowing. No editing until the ‘story’ is down. Once it’s encapsulated, I go over it and tailor it to both the question and the photograph while never forgetting the market.

I’ve been neglecting short stuff a bit recently, but writing about it has reminded me.

This is where I should list another three folks to carry forward the tour, but instead why don’t I suggest a few ‘filler’ opportunities for you to try. come back and tell Novels Now whether you were successful.

Scottish Memories a monthly magazine of Scottish nostalgia.

Best of British also nostalgia but covers the whole of the UK

The Oldie is a monthly that contains a lot of humour and satire. They have many freelance opportunities and less of a need for photographs. Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK

Happy Birthday Miss Mariah Fox

It’s One Year Today since MARIAH’S MARRIAGE was published by MuseItUp of Canada.

Muse Banner Mariah's Marriage

Muse Banner Mariah’s Marriage

Happy Birthday. Miss Mariah Fox.

In the months since Mariah hit the e-publishing writing life has changed in so many ways. Here are a few:

Social Media I’ve been blogging for a very long time. I had a blog on Writelink’s site for months before Mariah was published and wrote short updates of my writing experiences and how the various anecdotes I quoted fitted into what I wrote next. I was never able to crack the posting of photos on there and that is the first change. I can do photos.Accolade for Mariah's Marriage at RNA summer party??????????????????????

The one above shows the 2013 line-up for the Joan Hessayon award in London. Mariah’s Marriage didn’t win but I had a wonderful evening. So much so, I’m going again this year to support several friends who are listed for 2014.

Change Number Two get along and say hullo. Whether it’s electronically such as on another writer’s blog, or in person, if you’re in a market, you need to be seen. I’ve almost got my pathological need to lurk under control.

Change Number Three Write another one. Surely you’re always doing that? you ask in surprise. Surely I am, but this ‘another’ one is the picking up of a character’s story from Mariah’s Marriage. It’s one of the most difficult writing tasks I’ve ever undertaken, but I completed, edited, agonised and pressed send a few weeks ago. Waiting to hear.

Change Number Four Participate. Before Mariah’s Marriage was published, I didn’t enter things like the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy competition at the annual conference of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, but this year I will. I didn’t join in blog hops (didn’t know there were blog hops). I knew nothing of Twitter and my Facebook a/c was languishing. Goodreads ?? Well, Mariah’s Marriage necessitated changes in attitude all right. It’s the shop front and the shelves need dressing.

A copy of Mariah’s Marriage is on offer to one person, randomly selected, who leaves a comment before Midnight UK time, 10th May 2014. I’d love to hear from you. Did full length publication make changes in your writing life? Anne Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK