Diary of a Writer – July writing prompt

Royal Highland Show – in the Crafts Tent

Three years ago an enterprising local lady set up the Scottish Women’s Institute, Bruntsfield Branch, here in Edinburgh. I was invited to join by a fellow writer and have been to several interesting meetings, gone on outings and made a paper maché cup.

At the Royal Highland Show this year, I visited the crafts tent where I was told by an SWI lady steward that a Bruntsfield member made one of  the baskets in the above picture. So here is that picture. Although I’m unable to tell you which basket is the relevant one, I’m very proud to know one of our number is skilled enough and confident enough to display her lovely work. The baskets were all lovely so it’s immaterial which one is hers.

Why is this a writing prompt? Firstly because baskets are universal and ageless. From Moses’ basket among the rushes to contemporary waste bins, they’ve seen a lot of action. Secondly, as a writer, it’s so good to get out and experience the creative passion of others. I find it stimulating.

Given the number of books written with quilting as a theme or background, others do too.

Anne

Diary of a Writer – June Prompt

Last month after a gap of several weeks, I put up two posts. One a tiny apology, but heartfelt, for being away for so long. I called it Missing in Action.

Missing in Action must have been a woeful message to receive in wartime. All that uncertainty heaped on the general difficulty of life in strange times by those words. Hope not quite extinguished, however, more a tongue of flame when perhaps you weren’t looking for it. Perhaps the person named is still alive and ‘in action’ elsewhere.

What caused me to shut down? Two very dear friends were terminally ill – but it was my brother who died. Many of you will have lost family members and are able to empathise. I don’t need to say anything more.The everyday carries on and is marked, in my case, by enormous kindness and assistance from all sorts of people – both personal and professional.

Writing has been on a back burner, but I have completed a short story for a project I’ll be telling you about soon. Shh! I have some stuff out to an editor and got useful suggestions back. I submitted a story to a magazine whose short story writing course I took 18 months ago. Blushes with embarrassment – what took so long?

Tongue of Flame – what has been your tongue of flame? What has brought a destroying effect into your life? Was it also cleansing?

Diary of a Writer – Writing Prompt – February – New Experience

dsc01373Some of you may have noticed a wee absence of posts on this blog during January. The chap above is one of the reasons why I’ve been awol because I’ve been visiting Cuba and Costa Rica.

The baby sloths – the apparent furry car rug is a pile of six – have all been orphaned and brought to the Toucan Rescue Ranch for nurture and possible release back into their jungle habitat. The ranch’s intern, was delightfully droll about the difficulties of acting as mum to a baby sloth. Press too hard on the syringe of goat’s milk that is used to feed them and you may cause the baby to ingest the milk, rather than digest it, which can lead to pneumonia. Toilet training – well, in the wild, they learn from mum that going to the bathroom once a week s good. In the Rescue centre that would be the intern’s finger in some other sloth urine encouraging the wee ones to perform. Glamorous it is not.

Some of you editing types may have noticed the name of the ranch, Toucan Rescue Ranch, and be puzzling over the inclusion of sloths. Well, get a GOOD name in the bird and animal rescue world and who knows what will arrive on the doorstep?

The sloth babies were immensely attractive little bundles, but one needs to remember that sloth mouths are a very dirty environment. A bite if untreated could kill you.

Here’s one of their actual toucans as reassurance that I haven’t lost all plot.

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All writers need new experience to refresh their pool of ‘things to write about’. Orphans are a big issue in our world where humans are displaced daily by war and animals killed by loss of habitat, predation and interaction with the human world.

While I’ve been away, Endeavour have dropped the price of Courting the Countess to 99p Don’t know for how long, but a good moment to add to your kindle.

 

 

 

Diary of a Writer – Writing Prompt January – the Door to the Year

The Door of the Year

The Door of the Year

The Door to the Year is Georgian and I found it while walking around Dublin’s beautiful Georgian streets. As many readers know, I focus my own Regency and early nineteenth century fiction in Edinburgh and London. On the other hand who wouldn’t wonder what’s behind this lovely door and its equally tempting neighbour?

Early January is the time for handing in entries to the Scottish Association of Writers annual conference competitions. I have at least a short story – can’t give any clues what that’s about – and you may be going along and have entries, too. Headline speaker is Helen Lederer and you’ll find the Conference Schedule by typing September into the search box. Day delegates are welcome. The Westerwood Hotel and Sports complex is welcoming, comfortable and easily accessible from the train to Croy or by car.

Occasionally competitions excite my creative imagination, but more and more, they’ve become a distraction from the main work. Of course, as with the People’s Friend serial writing competition, sometimes the distraction pays off. Shortlisted and published, together with two subsequent short story sales, it was a profitable distraction.

So, what is The Door to the Year opening up for your writing.? Will you share a few hopes with us?

Diary of a Writer – December writing prompt – When is that project too big?

Colourful Tree Decoration

Colourful Tree Decoration

 

When is that project too big? I’ve always loved knitting and have dabbled with crochet, too. I find, despairingly, that I sometimes set knitting aside when I have worked out how to complete a repeat of the pattern. The challenge has been met and the garment might never be finished.

On the other hand, I have a fairly responsible outlook and try very hard not to let people down. So, would I have crocheted this engaging tree decoration? Why did anyone do so?

It certainly brought a smile to my face when I encountered it in Argentina – so maybe that’s the answer to why. It did make people smile.

Many well known and much read authors also write stuff for fun that is out of their recognised genre. Or write in several genres. Shakespeare for instance wrote his wonderful sonnets as well as the plays. Thomas Hardy wrote novels and poetry. Georgette Heyer interspersed her Regencies with detective fiction.

A great many writers will just be taking a deep breath marking the end of their NaNoWriMo effort. I did that a couple of years ago and had to set the MS aside when December arrived. It’s a busy month.

However, I did go back to the unfinished MS and completed BELLA’S BETROTHAL which is the first of my historicals set in Edinburgh.

Bella’s Betrothal

I still love the energy and humour I read in Bella’s story and think it’s probably down to writing under pressure and also to writing about a city I love. I’ve come back to Regency Edinburgh for

Courting the Countess and the wip is also set here.

So are you into decorating random trees – or only the family Christmas Tree? That’s a whole other story and I might share some of it with you after the decorations come out of the attic.

How big was your biggest project? Are you writing an alphabetical series? A trilogy?

I heard recently that courting the Countess was recommended to a book group in Aberdeenshire. Hope you’re enjoying it, ladies and would love to know what you thought.

Diary of a Writer – Start in Time

Wise Owl

Wise Owl

Start in Time

Time management has never been one of my stronger character traits. I greedily gather in brochures and leaflets. I note deadlines for Edinburgh Writers’ Club, founded 1947, competitions and for comps or challenges being run by other organisations I belong to and they approach steadily. They approach so steadily that I often reel with astonishment to see a closing date is now tomorrow.

Why is this? I do know, and in fact live with, people who are capable of starting in time. whether it be planning a holiday, whittling down the purchase of Christmas presents or writing a paper, they do it bit by carefully timetabled bit.

I have tried it and while it was great last year when I knew I needed to lose some weight and achieved my goal with three weeks in hand, it sometimes leads to duplication of effort. I cannot ever believe that I can leave the house for three weeks unless I’m in a lather of organisation and waist deep in lists, lists, lists. So I start re-checking. Yes, I did cancel the milk and the paper delivery. Yes, I have emptied the fridge. Yes, I did ask someone to water the house plants.

It unnerves me more than a little and perversely I head off sure that I’ve forgotten something.

But in some walks of life, I am getting better. For example, today I’ll be decorating large boxes for the local church’s Gift Services. Every year, I collect 7 or 8, strengthen them with parcel tape and cover them with Christmas wrap. This year I have all the boxes, I have the parcel tape and the wrap. Ready to go without having to stop and buy extra – provided no one has ‘borrowed’ my stanley knife. There’s no doubt it makes the job feel less stressful.

If you would like to donate a new and unwrapped Christmas Gift to someone who might otherwise receive nothing, check out The Salvation Army’s local appeals here.

Writing the next novel..

Well, it’s on the stocks and I have two lovely central characters, a setting and I’ve made enquiries of an editor. What’s holding me back? Thinking I might enter those competitions. Is it maybe over-programming rather than lack of planning that gets in my way?

Naw! I don’t really do time-management. How about you?

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Diary of a Writer – October Prompt

Sea Lions, Chile

Sea Lions, Chile

Last month’s prompt was a path bordered by lush green gunnera. It was relatively peaceful, although one or two of you found sinister thoughts along the disappearing pathway and into the hidden areas beyond.

I took October’s prompt, above, while on a botanical trip to Chile. It was perhaps my favourite outing of the whole expedition and the island in the picture is part of the reason.

It’s an island – and like JM Barrie, I’m mildly fascinated by them.

It’s covered in sea lions.

The scene is full of life and energy. The sea lions fought an ongoing struggle to get out of the boiling waters among the rocks and onto the island. It was mesmerising to watch.

Sorry you have to take my word for the sea lions. My camera isn’t strong enough to show them in detail, but they are there.

How does the prompt affect you? Care to share any piece with us?

Diary of a Writer – Something completely different

A Traveller's Life-part-1Diary of a Writer reflects the diversity of things written. Last week I had the pleasure of sharing the publication of Courting the Countess with you all and hot on its heels is a new departure for me – a magazine serial: opening in the People’s Friend edition dated 17th September.

A Traveller’s Life began its life as I Joined the Shows and was my entry in last year’s People’s Friend serial writing competition. I hadn’t written to instalments before and found the experience both interesting and instructive.

Writing a synopsis is my least favourite favourite writing task, but it was endlessly useful when it came to writing three instalments. Most importantly, it showed me I had too much story.

Writing the serial did involve much that was familiar. Not least seeing that all the characters had one name and only one name (thanks Ed) throughout, research into what actually happened and not what I remembered as happening in the 1960s. And the normal characterisation, dialogue and narrative of creating a fictional world as well.

I love the illustration at the head of this post. The talented artist is Kirk Houston.

Hope you all have happy memories of rolling pennies down slides or trying to avoid winning a goldfish in favour of a coconut. And what about the candy floss?

The magazine are describing it as a taut family drama. I think so.

Anne

Diary of a Writer – September Prompt

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Diary of a Writer there’s no easy explanation of why a picture touches a nerve, causes a shiver of recognition or repels. As soon as I reached this path with its deep green borders of  gunnera, I knew I’d use it at some point.

The picture encapsulates that day’s visit in mid summer mist.

This picture perfectly addresses so many of the questions in the writer’s tool box. Who’s waiting? Why are they waiting. How long have they been waiting? What will the narrator find?

Gunnera is native to South America – plant hunter’s story?

Will it inspire something for you? Come back and tell us.

Inverewe Garden

Diary of a Writer – reaping a few rewards

100_5920Reaping a few Rewards is rather nice.

I entered a caption competition put up by my publishers, MuseItUp last week on facebook and won a free e-book from their bookshop. I’ve chosen Comedy of Terrors by Graeme Smith. A treat to look forward to when it wings across.

People’s Friend cleared my short serial for publication. So, while the going was favourable, I submitted a short story which they have also bought. Don’t have final titles for either of these yet, but will keep you up-to-date.

Ulverscroft, the wonderful large print imprint, have just bought world large print rights in Daisy’s Dilemma. So there will be a short library run. New cover, of course, but here’s Charlie’s in the meantime.Daisys Dilemmal 333x500Buy my books here

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