Summer Party – Romantic Novelists’ Association 17th May at 18.30

The Summer Party and Joan Hessayon Award night of the Romantic Novelists’ Association will be held in 2018 in the fabulous Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Tickets are available from Eventbrite Ticketing, here


Diary of a Writer – March prompt







So what comes to mind when you think of a stoat? Is it the beauty of their undulating movement? Is it their gorgeous natural colouring?

Have you been forever alienated by Wind in the Willows?

Have you, like me, watched one fight its natural shyness to recover a rabbit it killed earlier and take it back to the kits?

Sometimes the creative process seems a bit like trying to force a trolley-load of ideas through that small space.

No rabbits were harmed in the writing of this post.

CAPITAL STORIES contains four sparkling five star gems by me and three Capital Writing friends. For your kindle.


Down My Way

Down My Way it’s cold. Well, it’s winter in Scotland so what else might one expect?

I’ve just been reflecting that a writer’s diary is a really odd sort of thing.

Saturday 10th February – All day at the Royal Over-Seas League for the Romantic Novelists’ Association.  A Committee meeting in the morning was followed by an hour of training in Diversity and Inclusion. No point in just thinking your organisation welcomes everyone, Find out. The session was conducted by the wonderfully upbeat and smiley Marsha Ramroop of BBC Radio Leicester.

Then onto the afternoon when there was a general meeting in the Hall of India and Pakistan. Must say selling tickets in advance is helping raise awareness of the great talks our members come up with. Sophia Bennet whose Love Song won last year’s Goldsboro Books romantic novel of the year prize, entertained us and was followed by Matt Bates, bookseller, who told us what’s selling. Great to meet up with members from as far afield as Norway, via Wales, and the south of England. A wee glass may have been drunk in a local pub later.

Monday 12th February = Lots of train time today, but also a visit to the Charles I exhibition at the Royal Academy. What a lot of dogs. What a lot of wonderful portraits by a huge selection of first class painters of the time. Not to mention the bits of sculpture dotted around the halls. Not only did Charles like to be painted, he was also a noted collector and patron with a good eye.

On to soup and sandwich lunch with friends. He’s a retired Rector and, now he has time and a kindle, enquired which of my books he ought to try. I said Bella’s Betrothal It’s naughty to have favourites.

All weekend, some of you may have read about it in Bookbrunch, the wires were active about my UK publisher, Endeavour. The good news is that Courting the Countess will remain available for now.

Also all weekend and since – Lots and lots of enquiries about the upcoming RNA annual Awards’ Night in The Gladstone Library, One Whitehall Place. Would the area have been familiar to the early Stuarts?

Also e-mails announcing a sale to People’s Friend of a story I wrote from one of their Ed’s story prompts. Hadn’t done that before but this one caught my imagination.

Also saw on a mini-bank-statement that the PLR is in the bank. This year, it might buy a bottle of champagne. (Last year, I bought coffee and cream cakes for me and my pal)

Also the newly fledged Capital Writers helped one of our number, Kate Blackadder launch her most recent collection of love stories – yes, on Valentine’s Day –  with a series of posts across on Capital Writers website. Mine, Roses are Red is here.

The collection is called The Palace of Complete Happiness and can be purchased here.

Now back in Auld Reekie and raring to go – after the next coffee…

Diary of a Writer – February Writing Prompt

I took this picture in Chile. The island is a resting place for sea-lions, but only after they get onto it. Had I a better camera, I’d be able to show you the bobbing heads and leaping bodies in the channel between the shoreline and the island. The sea-lions spend a lot of time trying to get onto that rocky outcrop. Once there, they rest up, enjoy a bit of sun and get hungry. So, it’s needs must, and back into the spray.

Writing life is a bit like that. Occasionally you finish something that really pleases you and then you rest up a bit until the urge overwhelms you and – needs must – you jump in again and write something else.

Capital Stories – a collection of four gems according to WJRH – by Anne, Kate, Jane and Jennifer and a wee snip at 99p.


Diary of a Writer – serially challenging

Diary of a Writer – serially challenging.

It’s always a great feeling to press send on a submission and I did that this morning just before enjoying one of these.

The box was a pressie from a local tradesman in the run-up to Christmas. I really do think it pays to ‘shop local’ and when the dividend comes in the form of Tunnock’s finest, who’s going to argue?

The MS is instalment two of the serial I’m writing for People’s Friend. Fingers crossed and tentatively on to work on Instalment three.

Another two hours spent on choosing the canapés for the RNA’s Awards’ Night Party (it’s a long and truly delicious list) and maybe now I should think about the ‘tea’ – as in that knife and fork repast the household looks forward to in the evening.

Having read the lovely Capital Stories created by my fellow Capital Writers, I’m looking round for something. I see my publishers, Endeavour, are advertising Lesley Downer’s

On the Narrow Road to the Deep North – journey into a lost Japan – which I have on my trusty kindle. Maybe that’s after-dinner sorted.

What are you reading? Both the above books are currently 99p.

Round Robin – Viewpoint

This month’s Round Robin question is about Viewpoint. How do we as writers tell the story, show the characters’ emotions and switch between them?

My normal mode is 3rd person character. That means, I am in one head at a time, but as the author. I don’t find 1st person easy to write. I enjoy reading author omniscient, but haven’t found it attractive enough to tempt me. I’ve never written anything in 2nd person where you might have used 1st, but are allowing a bit of outside observation and comment.

Generally, my novels will employ two central viewpoints. They will normally be the hero and the heroine. I enjoy pitting an attractive couple against one another and I like to see the same problem from two perspectives.

So, in Mariah’s Marriage, Mariah is determined to save Arabella from her brother’s violence, but Tobias is equally determined that doing so would put Mariah herself in danger.

London Girl

It’s a conflict of opinion. We, the reader, see Mariah enlist the help of her maid to outwit the considerable obstacles Tobias has placed in the way of her leaving the house. Eventually, we understand why Tobias has acted the way he has and, tension mounting, we’re in his head as the drama unfolds.

I think that’s why I find 1st person difficult. There just seems to be so much more needed by way of comment when that single voice has to keep filling us in. Things like ‘Of course, I didn’t know at the time, but Tobias thought I was dead.’ – are well enough, and often skilfully handled, but I prefer to be in Tobias’s head while he’s doing that thinking; while he’s doing that sufferring.

Maybe it’s because I used to write plays…

The serial I wrote for People’s Friend in 2016, A Traveller’s Life, had several voices. I enjoyed that a lot. It was liberating to leave the (self-) imposed discipline of two voices and allow one or two more to take centre stage. Again, the dramatist in me loved hearing what all these people thought. However, it’s not unbridled by any means. People’s Friend like their serials presented in ‘chapters’ so each one had a central Viewpoint. I was not head-hopping.

So, here’s the divide – what is head-hopping and why do some editors permit it?

Head-hopping is where the author allows everybody and his auntie to have their say – in one chapter, sometimes – I’ve seen it done – even in the same paragraph.

Personally, I find that way of writing too confusing for words. I want to know who I’m rooting for and whose story is the one being told. The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott is a modern tour de force and some of it tells the same story over. However, Scott uses different books to do this and that’s not a luxury offered to all.

I have a short historical story in a new anthology by Capital Writers, Capital Stories. It’s available for your kindle and a wee snip at 99p/$1.37.

There are other opinions on this fundamental writing skill and you’ll find some of them here:

Dr. Bob Rich
Connie Vines
Helena Fairfax
Fiona McGier
Judith Copek
Marci Baun
Anne de Gruchy
A.J. Maguire
Skye Taylor
Anne Stenhouse
Beverley Bateman
Rhobin L Courtright

Diane Bator






A Quality Product

Diary of a Writer – January Prompt may seem a little counter productive. Why post a picture of home-made marmalade as it is undoubtedly a labour intensive product and might distract you?

Well. because it’s a good product. There are excellent marmalades on the market. During my short writing retreat in Assynt, I visited the wonderful The Culkein Store where I laid in huge quantities of goody bag and take-to items. Scented candles, jellies, and Three Fruits Marmalade all made it into the car. We’d previously sampled their chutneys courtesy of visiting family and were really excited to make our own choices.

So, I have a large jar of their marmalade against the possibility the home-made runs out, but I’ll still be off to the supermarket to harass the fruit and veg manager over when the Seville oranges are arriving.

It’s also the case that creativity in one sphere aids creativity in others. When the WIP is going well, it’s equally likely I’ll fancy trying a new recipe. Who knows, that baby jacket I have on the pins might even make it off them. Well, let’s not get carried away by fantasy. If I can send off the story my editor was keen to see amended, then it would be a flying start to 2018.

How about you? What activity raises your own creativity?

Round Robin – What Makes a Memorable Character?

What Makes a Memorable Character? this is Rhobin’s December question.

Who are your memorable characters? This, for a person like me who cannot remember names, is a very difficult one to answer. I had hoped to start my post with a quick-fire list of the fictional characters who’ve stayed with me, but I’m going to have to look up some of the names. That makes me wonder whether it’s the character I remember or the characteristics. Rolling it all up, characteristics make the memorableness – is that a word? Spell checker doesn’t like it much.

So, the list:

Robin Hood, Anne of Green Gables, Scarlett O’Hara, the Snow Queen, The Saint, James Bond, Karen Brockman and anyone from the cast of NCIS.

These people exemplify the cloyingly good, the selfishly or evilly bad and the delightful mixture that stops you pigeon-holing them.

Robin Hood was on tv on a Thursday afternoon during my childhood. His adventures were unmissable and, as we had a bit of woodland behind the house, we could pretend. Sheer escapism as one learned later. Why wasn’t Richard back in England running his own country instead of despoiling someone else’s? I still have a faint scar on my thigh from crawling through long grass stalking something or other and crawling over a bit of glass!

Anne of Green Gables

It’s hard to find any reading lady of a certain age who doesn’t claim Anne as her favourite childhood book. She had red hair and a lively imagination – what wasn’t to like? Certainly her feistiness stayed with me over the years.

Scarlett O’Hara

Now, here we begin to have memorable characters who aren’t by any means role models or even likeable. She did, however, do her best in appalling circumstances and one admired – until the child died. I suppose there’re lots of ways of interpreting Mitchell’s intentions, but setting aside the ‘bad girls must be punished in the end’ philosophy, I cannot love a character whose selfishness endangered her children.

The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen kept me awake as a child. It was my first encounter with the power of evil and a much more realistic characterisation than the wicked step-mothers that panto reduced to – well, panto.

The Saint and James Bond I’ve mentioned before that I wrote a major sixth form essay on the anti-hero. These are the chaps to blame for that fascination: or maybe it was just Roger Moore’s raised eyebrow? I notice my own heroes often raise an eyebrow, too.

Karen Brockman

Karen Brockman, and I did have to look up the name, is the youngest child in the sit-com Outnumbered. The episodes were not scripted, but suggested to the child actors and Karen had some wonderfully effective scenes. Played by Ramona Marquez, the character could turn any expectation on its head. The character is a wonderful example of the self-absorbed and the mayhem that trait can wreak.

NCIS I loved the original series and many of the subsequent ones. Changes in the ensemble cast lost Cate, Jenny and Mike Franks. Again blatant escapism with larger than real-life characterisation and super-complicated plotting. I no longer watch as I find some of the chemistry gone and some of the plotting improbable to a degree.

So what memorable traits have I given my characters? I would say Mariah is determined. Bella is courageous. Daisy is self-aware, but it’s hard won. Melissa is brave in the face of enormous adversity. The character I’m writing at present will also need dollops of courage to get over her conservatism. Or, as we say now, leave her comfort zone.

To find out what my fellow authors think of this topic, go here:

Skye Taylor
Marci Baun
Dr. Bob Rich
Beverley Bateman
A.J. Maguire
Anne Stenhouse
Rhobin L Courtright



A Significant Day

Some things in life are inevitable even if they come round slowly.

I grew up in the Lothians and while my mum was alive drove out there often. Today I was making a significant visit. Doesn’t matter why. I’d forgotten what a frost hollow it is. Nearly went over on the slippy pavements. Didn’t.

Home now. Here’s a dragon from Vietnam – just ‘cos.


Diary of A Writer – December Writing Prompt

Creel Christmas Tree, Ullapool








The Creel Christmas Tree in Ullapool was a surprise find at the behest of a family member who’d read about it on-line. The waiter in The Ceilidh Place was keen to tell us how the lights will be switched on as the ferry reverses away from the pier with its lights blazing. He was so excited by the whole project and disappointed for us that we’d be gone from the area before the event.

So if any of you, dear readers, are in Ullapool over the festive period and can post a pic, please let us know where to find it.

I’ve chosen the Ullapool Creel Christmas Tree as this month’s prompt for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was returning from a writing retreat/holiday in Assynt which is one of my favourite destinations. It may well remind me as December madness descends that there is a book in need of TLC.

A Retreating Writer

Secondly, it’s such a wonderful creation: a nod to the area’s fishing history and an artistic rendition of the Christmas tree – which is my all-time favourite decoration.

Finally, no tree was cut down to provide this great talking and gathering point. Yes, we do have a fresh one. Oh Dear!

Courting the Countess

Bella’s Betrothal