Fireworks time



Image courtesy of Teerapun /


Out of season for Fireworks, I hear you say. But, we’re talking writing here and so the round robin blog subject for June is literal or figurative, emotional or physical FIREWORKS.bannerfans_962234


My regencies are what are described as ‘sweet’. No bodice-ripping goes on between the pages, but there is that age-old game between the sexes. Who will gain the upper hand in a war of words?

There is a belief that in the enlightened West – women have equality. I would challenge that view, but also, I would remind everyone how recently some of the barriers came down and how easily, so very easily, they could go back up.

From the fundamental – A man in Victorian England always got custody of his children following divorce.

To the ludicrous – A life-guard in Arbroath could eject me from a 1960s’ swimming-pool for having no hat, but allow to stay ANY male with longer hair and no hat.

The longing for a different way of keeping women in their place (anywhere other than where the men are doing ‘real’ stuff) has not gone away. However, I write humorous, dialogue rich fiction and do not preach within the pages of my novels. Therefore, the FIREWORKS are muted. I like to think the fallout smoulders long and burns deep.

This extract is from Mariah’s Marriage: 

Mariah remained sitting with the utmost difficulty. She was a person totally opposed to the use of violence, even the accepted chastisement of children in class was abhorrent to her and its abolition was one of her most dearly held objectives, but nothing would have given her more satisfaction at that moment than to bring her hand across Peter’s self-satisfied smirk.

“Peter, I think you forget how Mariah has been educated,” Jerome said.

“No, sir, I do not believe I do. Mariah’s brain has been trained to read and figure, and her fingers to write, but I regret that the female cannot be taught logic and reasoning. It must be clear that this man, with his title and wealth, has turned her head from its true path…”

London Girl

London Girl

“I think, Peter. I speak. I am not deaf nor, as you seem intent on implying, am I essentially feeble-minded,” Mariah said. No longer able to remain seated, she was on her feet and trembling with a cold rage that made her words flow in well-chosen phrases. “Papa, you have welcomed Peter here as your guest but I must tell you that if you continue to do so, I will seek a residential position in a ladies’ seminary.”

Having warmed up on the dreadful Peter, what chance does a mere earl have?

Other blogs are tackling this point today and I am followed by:

Connie Vines at:

If you want to read all of the posts, here’s the complete list:


Margaret Fieland at
Heidi M.
Beverley Bateman at
Kay Sisk
Anne Stenhouse at
Connie Vines at
Ginger Simpson at
Geeta Kakade at
Fiona McGier at
Lynn Crain at
Rhobin Courtright at Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK





Muse Banner Mariah's Marriage

Muse Banner Mariah’s Marriage


Okay, lovely readers, here’s the deal: Those that have read either of my books, Mariah’s Marriage and/or Bella’s Betrothal, please leave a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, send me the link to your new review post, and I’ll send you a copy of my other ebook for FREE.

Bella's Betrothal

Bella’s Betrothal

If you’ve read both books and left new reviews, then pick any ebook from MuseitUp Publishing and the publisher will send it to you for FREE!

Winners all round. Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK Mariah’s Marriage Barnes and Noble Bella’s Betrothal Barnes and Noble

Storing: Catelyn Cash

Catelyn on the beach

Catelyn on the beach

Catelyn Cash, my guest today, has been storing up a cache of short stories and novellas while working away on the longer pieces. Catelyn is published in novella length by Loose-Id and Xcite books. These are Hot Erotic romance for the discerning reader. However, like most writers, Catelyn Cash is beavering away on several fronts. Novels Now asked her what.

Question: What else are you writing at the moment, Catelyn?

Like many writers I have various projects on the go. I’m in the middle of a post apocalyptic paranormal romance which is new ground for me but it’s a book I’ve wanted to write for years. I’m also trying my hand at category romance, something I’ve tried before without success but return to periodically. And I’ve recently rediscovered short stories. I hadn’t written any since school but entered a competition, won, and got the bug. Now I see ideas for short stories everywhere which is great.

Question:  Is this for paid publication?

That’s always the goal, isn’t it? My short stories bring in money from magazines. And some competitions pay very well indeed, though, of course, you’ve actually got to win! Ideally the novels will one day be published too. I can dream.

Question: How easy is it to move in and out of different disciplines?

Surprisingly so. My erotic romances are great fun to write. But I’d struggle to write them full time and need a break in between. The novels are fun too and because the two I’m working on are so very different, if I get stuck with one, I simply move on the other and let my subconscious resolve the problem, which beats staring in desperation at a blank page. I break off and write the short stories whenever an idea comes to me, then later tailor them to a market. Of courseCC_Highland Trinity_coversm the danger is that I flit from one discipline to the other and never finish anything so I do have to set myself deadlines. And then I have to stick to the deadlines. Which on the whole, sadly, I don’t.

Question: Where can readers find copies of your shorter pieces?

And of course from amazon. Links on my website

My short stories pop up as and when in magazines and competition websites when I’m lucky enough.

Thanks for joining me today, Catelyn. I have to say, I think the ‘luck’ you refer to, looks awfully like hard work. Well deserved recognition, I think. Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK


Harvesting: Johanna Grassick and the Sophie King competition

Johanna Grassick

Johanna Grassick

Johanna Grassick is my guest today. Johanna and I met on a writing course and have kept in touch. We both joined the RNA new writers’ scheme and often attend the conference in July. Johanna writes contemporary romance and has recently reaped an exciting success in the Sophie King short story competition. Johanna came third with her story, Rum Truffle. A really worthwhile way to fill in while waiting for the reader’s report or response from a house. Congratulations, Johanna.



I asked Johanna a few questions. To begin, I wanted to know what attracted her to short stories.

Johanna says, when I first started writing more than ten years ago, I began with short stories. I used to attend a writing class once a week and our teacher would set us homework which we could interpret into poetry, plays, novels – anything. For me, it was always a short story (I had a one year-old baby at the time, and could only snatch an hour or two a day to write while he was napping) and I’d bring it the following week for feedback from the group.

Since then a lot has changed: my writing has evolved and novels have been my preferred genre for a good while now. However, I still enjoy writing shorter pieces and, more importantly, entering competitions. These give me deadlines (so important when you’re unpublished), inspiration for new ideas, and the satisfaction of completing something quickly – in contrast with a novel, which is such a long-term project.

I also read more short stories than ever because I have the Kindle app on my phone. I find that if I arrive early for an appointment and have ten minutes to spare, they’re the perfect length for dipping into, and I get through a lot of anthologies.

Question What are you working on at the moment, Johanna?
My current NWS submission is called Her Forget-Me-Not Ex, and it’s a contemporary romance set on a vineyard in Provence. I really enjoyed writing that one because it reminded me of my own childhood and summer holidays spent with my mother’s family in France (though we didn’t have a vineyard!).
Question What else are you writing at the moment?
I’m about to revisit a women’s fiction novel which I began last year. I’m also dabbling with other ideas, including some shorter pieces.

Question How easy is it to move in and out of different disciplines?

Generally, I stick to novel-length work. However, I really enjoy writing shorter pieces because they give such instant gratification. The whole process of drafting, editing and polishing is complete in a matter of days, and that gives me a real rush of satisfaction. I can switch between the different disciplines, but I find that this period in between finishing one book and starting another is the perfect time for experimenting with short stories.

The Love is All You Need  anthology of ten winning short stories from the Sophie King competition can be bought for kindle here. It will be available in paperback in August. Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK


Historical Heroes Submission

Okay, so I’ve just sent in a first chapter and blurb/pitch to the Historical Heroes opportunity at H Mills and Boon.

It was great fun to write and at four am I eventually worked out why my 100 word blurb wasn’t doing the same as the specimens I’d read across on their site. Re-written this morning and off it went.

The link is here for anyone hoping to enter. Three weeks with a final closing on 6th July. I’ve gone for the period I usually write in, Regency/Victorian, but you could go for Tudor/Medieval or Warrior types. Why not leave a comment and let everyone know? Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK


It’s June – the seeds are sown

If you work to a calendar that begins in January, then June is the middle of the year. Maybe you’ve polished up the stuff that kept you anchored to the computer in the dark months and you’re waiting to hear from a publisher?

What might you do now? Well, I expect the novelists among us will be fermenting the next set of characters and fashioning a plot line, but what else? Are you writing something else while the brain gets back onto its tram-lines? Sorry, we have new trams in Edinburgh -won’t mention them again.

It’s also the case that many people enjoy trying their hand at more than one sort of writing. A lot of romantic novelists will have started out as magazine short story writers and like to keep their hand in.

I asked a few of my writing friends for an idea of what they were writing.

First up is Jennifer Young

Jennifer Young

Jennifer Young

author of Thank You For The Music Thanks for dropping in Jennifer. I know you have a scientific background and can spell the names of volcanoes which the rest of us simply refer to as the Icelandic one.

What else are you writing at the moment?

At the moment, in addition to playing with the next full-length novel, I’m working on regular earth science articles for the Decoded Science website – I do a weekly earthquake roundup plus news articles. That’s my main focus, but I’m also tied up in writing a Masters dissertation (does that count?). Oh, and in between times there’s some travel writing and the occasional piece of short fiction.
Is this for paid publication?
Like most writers, it’s an ‘in theory’ yes! I get paid but I’ll never be minted. That doesn’t matter – words are my playthings as well as the tools of my trade so if I get paid a little for using them it’s a bonus.
How easy is it to move in and out of different disciplines?
I find it quite difficult. Because the approaches required are very different – and conflicting – I try to separate them. I might wake up one morning and decide it’s a science day – accurate, properly-sourced information only – and on another it’ll be fiction and I just make it up as I go along.
Where can readers find copies of your shorter pieces?
My short fiction pops up as and when. If you want to look at my science writing it’s on Decoded Science , under the geoscience heading, and if you want to read my travel writing you’ll find it at Buckettripper . Look for me under the ‘about our authors’ tab on either site – but there are plenty of wonderful writers on both!
Jennifer’s debut romantic novel is Thank You For The Music published by Tirgearr
Cover Thank You For The Music

Cover Thank You For The Music Mariah’s Marriage amazon US

“Oh, Mariah, let us not quarrel. We will be married within the month. At least your papa’s house contains plenty of books. You may practise throwing them.” anne stenhouse Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US

 …a solitary figure ahead among some gorse and shrubs. Charles thought she made a beautiful picture in her riding habit with the exquisite hat Jenny Menzies wished to inherit. He thought the girl might get it sooner rather than later if he followed his instincts. At that precise moment, he wanted to shake Bella hard. Then he would lock her in the castle in Strath Menzies and hold her forever. anne stenhouse Bella’s Betrothal UK


Historical Opportunity from Mills and Boon

cropped-early-2012-044.jpgAn historical opportunity from romance publishers, Mills and Boon, hit the airwaves yesterday.

Over the next month Mills and Boon are seeking submissions of a First chapter and Pitch for your historical novel. Details are here.

First up is the Regency/Victorian window opening next Monday, 16th June. That’s followed by Tudor/Medieval and finally Warrior.

So tidy up that enticing man – a new cravat, polished hessians and burnished top hat might make the difference. Hone his foibles, introduce his lady and press send.

Good luck. Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK


Quadrilles – Research in action

Dancing quadrilles through a rainy Sunday afternoon seemed like a good ploy and the class run by Frank McConnell and Sheila McCutcheon was great for trying out research in action.  The Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile was ours for the afternoon and we started with a bit of history. The name? Earlier generations have had educated groups of people for whom foreign and previous languages were no barrier. So, quadrilles is a result of Latin and French influence.


Mix in four couples, a square set and travelling dancing masters who either were French or had visited Paris to learn the figures, or patterns, of the various dances and there you go…

Now, we were learning South Uist quadrilles and then, from Sheila, The Lancers which contained a Cotillion figure. The afternoon rounded off on a quadrille choreographed by Frank.

Each dance comprised a few figures, but some were historically not performed on, for example, Eriskay. Why? Well, Eriskay didn’t have a hall big enough to send two couples dancing round the outside of the set. In fact, most of the island figures were practised in small, small spaces which may explain the shuffle-type steps and the ‘basket’ birls. ‘Swing your partner’ took on a whole new meaning as the afternoon progressed. As a person who avoids the Gay Gordons in case the birling makes me fall over, I was doing elbow turns and basket turns and turns in ballroom hold. Young ladies dancing The Lancers through a long night, must have been made of stern stuff.

And for me, that was the icing on the cake: discovering the qualities a dancer of the time needed. Looking at the opening plate for The Lottery dance in the Georgians Revealed exhibition is mesmerising, but really difficult to turn into a mental picture of dashing rakes and beautiful maidens. Actually performing the figures and listening to music provided by Fin Moore on his pipes, brought it much more into focus.

Research need not be waist expanding, it could be a little waist trimming.

Scottish Storytelling Centre Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US Bella’s Betrothal UK