Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 129 – 130 – Phasing

Devil Baby, Melbourne Festival 2011

Getting our feet clear of the virus is no easy matter. Melbourne is one place where it has raised its might again, but there are so many worldwide. Vigilance is incumbent on us all.

However, when the DH and I made our first trip to a PLACE – The Queen’s Gallery – to view their exhibition of Indian art, we were the only people in the building wearing face masks as far as I could see. Their FAQs indicate they’re only required in certain parts of each building.


The exhibition, Eastern Encounters, was as fascinating as they often are and the absence of crowds of visitors made it so much easier to see the detailed and colourful paintings. Many of them are in groups and tell a story.

Online events are continuing and at the invitation of Nancy Jardine, I joined Ocelot Press’s cocktail hour yesterday to mark the launch of Doorways to the Past, a collection of short stories. Available at 99p – a snip.

Met a friend in that popular cemetery. She’s been locked down in France and is now home. DH played bridge online in a ‘join any table’ mode. He enjoyed it although found the absence of chat a little isolating.

I finished the third version of the WIP and have sent it off this morning. Phew! Did I say I enjoyed editing. Can I edit that comment?

Have started The Grand Sophy and enjoyed the first chapter more than any first chapter for a long time. What a talented and ‘fun’ writer Ms Heyer was.

What about your adventures? Been to a place?



Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 126,127,128 – Expanding Horizons

Charles Street

So, intervals are creeping into this diary, however, thngs have been going forward. Sunday saw DH and I in front stall seats chez nous to hear David Greig, Artisitic Director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre address its patrons, and to watch the short scenes the Lyceum have commissioned and filmed called Shakespeare in Isolation. They were all good, but as a granny, my favourites were the two involving children. From Coriolanus, Valeria has taken up quilting which, she says, is hers and no one can take it from her – the lockdown has separated her from the little boy she so often looked after – heartbreaking – and Peaseblossom who represents the home schooling mum (of the elves) trying to broker peace between her warring parents (Titania and Oberon) – by zoom – brilliantly funny.

Monday it rained, and rained, and…

Not to waste a day, I devoted a lot of it to The Nonesuch which might be about to replace Frederica as my favourite GH.

I also helped a writer friend with some Edinburgh research – hence the pic of Charles Street, above. Here’s another of the house in George Square where I settled some characters in the early nineteenth century.

The Menzieses’ House

Yesterday, was the actual expanding horizon as we crossed the Forth and visited in Clackmannanshire. Driving along Glen Devon is so beautiful and our friend’s garden was looking fabulous.

I won a resounding scrabble victory although to be fair DH sat with 5/6 vowels on his tray for most of the game. I caught up with some of the National Theatre shorts and was mesmerised by Peter Mullen’s performance as the alternating jackdaw/human/pigeon. Well done to him and to writer, Douglas Maxwell.

Horrified by the accident to a No 24 bus on the cobbles in the New Town. So pleased noone was hurt.



Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 124 and 125 – Now is the Moment

Not quite Missing in Action yesterday as the Round Robin was posted, however, time didn’t permit a diary entry. Fruit picking on Friday at the wonderful Craigie’s meant there was a load of fruit to be dealt with and that always means now. Topping and tailing, washing, open freezing, putting into bags or boxes. All done. I don’t make jam (only marmalade).

We entertained neighbours on Friday evening – Oh wow! That’s three folk so far – hardly flood-gates opening, but it did feel nice. DH finally got rid of the last of the debris following the building works. Rotten score in the quiz – where is one’s brain when needed.

It’s Sunday again and there’s another service available online from the team at Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church. For Rev Helen Alexander’s reflections, readings and music go here 

I’m electronically visiting on Rosemary Gemmell’s blog this morning talking about Pocket Novels in company with Linda Tyler. I hope you’l pop over and have a browse on Rosemary’s lovely blog.

First feedback about A Debt for Rosalie was positive. Sigh of relief.


Round Robin – July 2020 – Character Development

How do you develop a character who is different
in personality from all the other characters you have developed, or from
yourself? This is the question this month.

A Debt for Rosalie

In this short contemporary novel, A Debt for Rosalie, I have a villain called Steve. Steve is alcoholic. Being alcoholic is not in itself villainy, but it can cause characteristics or personality traits to harden. So, for example, where a person might be less than scrupulous – say they see a ten pound note lying and a person getting into a bus who has just pulled their bus pass from their back pocket, they might let the bus go and then pick up the note. Were they a scrupulously honest person, they would alert the bus passenger before they get onto the bus.

“Have you dropped a tenner?”

The need for the next drink and then the need to always have a drink, reduces that scrupulousity factor until the world owes Steve a drink. In particular he came to believe his fiancée, Rosalie, owed him a drink and her business and…

I think you get the picture. Building the character was a delight because Steve is so unlike me. I simply turned rational thought on its head and looked at the resolution to problems from the wrong end of the emotional telescope.

I did find it hard to let Steve lie as I abhor lying. However, lying is about power and people in Steve’s condition are losing power as their grip on their jobs, social standing, driving licence, house is eroded. Lying may be the only power they have left – think Mr Wickham.

The writer has to set aside self and listen to the voice. My own inclination is to problem solve and as any creator of fictions knows, that’s no use at all in building up tension that will keep the reader reading. The writer needs to ramp up the problems faced by their characters and they do that by letting the character speak in their own voice. Once I can hear the characters speaking, their story unwinds in my head.

For other approaches to this creative task, why not visit the bloggers below?


A Debt for Rosalie is available in large supermarkets, newsagents and from the DC Thomson online shop


Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1Y4
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 123 – A Night at the Opera

Rather a long walk yesterday morning but returned by bus. Most people now wearing a mask. The freezer filling is coming along nicely and it’s such a pleasant change to see where everything is and what everything is. It won’t last, but nice for the moment.

So, the treat at the end of the day was an invite to Scottish Opera’s emerging artists’ end of term, as it were. Conducted by the genius of Derek Clark, the young people sang some delightful, sad or humorous pieces. This event normally takes place in the Theatre Royal, Glasgow with a chance to meet the performers, but like so many other organisations, they’re doing what the regulations permit: and it is better to hear these lovely voices than to not hear them. Information about them is here

DH won at croquet. I re-read the bits the ed doesn’t like and hope the re-drafting part of the brain will be in synch sooner rather than later. Finished April Lady. Not many of my collection left to go and then I need to work out which ones are missing. Caught up with one or two folk on the phone.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 -122 – It’s a Shelfie

Having only had print books in library editions from the amazing Ulverscroft until now, it was a great thrill to see Rosalie gazing out of the shelf at my local big Sainsbury’s. She’s now on the desk as I type and I have to hope the speculation that the shops only put out one at a time to avoid cross-contamination, is correct!

Buy online

So, finished the editing and submitted yesterday morning – got the editor’s opinion yesterday afternoon! Head down again, but great progress.

Ventured into the re-furbished Mathieson’s butcher’s shop. Wearing my hat, mask and with the fleece zipped to the chin, I thought I could be ignito. “Morning, Mrs G,” said the retired butcher I haven’t seen since Christmas. So looks like clandestine activities are off the agenda. The extended range of goods is welcome and I’m looking forward to the chill cabinets being fully stocked. I did buy some honey which was so eye-wateringly expensive the young assistant apologised. C’est la vie: honey is.

Heard from another editor yesterday and that was also a step on the way. DH booked a second rubbish appointment and a fruit picking one. Gooseberries here we come.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 121 – Editing end in sight

This may not be how the DH approached his first outing with his cycling group for some time, but it represents the end of editing as I see it – usually. There’s always, always a glaring typo, grammatical error or whatever that gets you by the throat seconds after you click send.

Can’t be helped.

As you read above, good progress with the editing and it went off this morning. One waits to hear. DH set off early for Kinross where he, too, had a good day and came home with snippets of gossip about other lives out there.

Neighbours had some trees removed which has altered the flight path to our bird feeders. There are birds feeding, but they need to go further away with their spoils. Friend returned from France. DH’s white peaches are enormous and delicious this year – wonder if the warm spring helped?

Writing hiatus (It’s been an hour! Ed). Can I write a short story for the SAW summer comp in four days?

How are your horizons?


Lockdown diary – 2020 – 120 – Busy, busy

So, it was the hairdresser’s appointment yesterday. This photograph is from last year, but the style remains the same. So good to see Ruby Rouge back in operation.

Also, coffee in the graveyard with a friend. We secured a bench for a change and on it there was a dropped hearing aid. Hope it’s now united with its owner. Rain stopped play, but we got through the important stuff. Zoom meeting of the badminton group where one or two fresh hairstyles were in evidence. Did some editing, but not much. DH helped out with hedge cutting at the croquet club and finished his tidying up after the stonemasons. One or two losses including a rather pretty yellow clematis. Inevitable in the circs.

Today might see the re-opening of the refurbished butcher’s round the corner. We’ve missed you.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 119 – Cover Reveal and Visiting

The tease is over and here’s the full cover for my first venture into writing a Pocket Novel for DC Thomson’s My Weekly label. After a lovely weekend at Drumkilbo House in Angus with friends last year, I had the urge to write about it. I often find place a strong motivator – not that I see spirits coming through walls, but atmosphere lingers on…

Anyway, relocated to Northumberland north of Newcastle and just outside the National Park, meet Maldington House and the lovely, if chastened, Rosalie.And the visiting? It’s electronic and it’s over on the blog of contemporary novelist, Anne Stormont. Anne is getting a new series of blogs underway and they’re about the Life in the Day of a Writer. Anne’s blog, Put it in Writing is here

And in the real world:  read Rev Helen’s reflections, lost at scrabble. DH lost at croquet. Ironing. Lots and lots of editing. Made excellent progress with Mohsin Hamid’s book – it’s very, very good.


Rosalie’s story will be in newsagents, Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s, WH Smith’s (all ‘some’) from 23rd July. Or can be ordered from DCThomson’s shop:

The sun is shining,



Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 118 – Royal Recycling

It’s Sunday – again – the weeks keep coming round. Rev Helen Alexander is sharing her reflections in the online worship of Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church, here

Spent most of yesterday in the editing cave and so the world had to revolve without much attention from me. I was looking out for the pictures from the Royal Wedding but they came only this morning. Princess Beatrice looked lovely in a remodelled Hartnell gown (one previous careful owner) and that beautiful tiara.

DH is reinstating the climbers around the garden as they had to be unpinned to let the stonemasons work. Missing in action – one pair of secateurs! Possibly in the same place as the back door key. Ageing is such fun.

More editing on the cards. Full cover reveal tomorrow and on Put it in Writng where I’ll be describing my ‘Writer’s Day’ in a new series for that blog.

I did start to read the book group book. One chapter down. Oh, and we scored 8 in the Guardian Quiz (how much editing? ed)