Diary of a Writer – April Prompt

The Scottish State Coach circa 1830

Country Mouse was in town last weekend and Town Mouse, cousin and junior by twenty years, agreed to be a tourist, too. I have long wanted to visit the Royal Mews and now I have.

What writer of Regency fiction isn’t interested in carriages? I took the opportunity offered of sitting in a mock-up carriage and concluded I’d be ill if I had to travel in one. Maybe by the time the Scottish State Coach was built, springs were improved.

So, what thoughts does the picture prompt? Without a doubt, the vehicles displayed brought home to me the weight of everything connected with horse-drawn travel. Weight that meant everything done had to be done in teams – look at the size of that rear wheel.

The royal carriages have extra large windows so the occupants can be seen but in their heyday, windows would be smaller and equipped with blinds making the opportunity for all those abductions of heiresses greater. The height of the carriage floor from the ground is considerable and that made me understand how easily a woman in flowing skirts could be disadvantaged.

In happier book scenes, the compact nature of the carriage lends itself to gossip and closeness – siblings off to a summer ball together; older ladies off to a card party or the post nuptial trip being made by a young and nervous bride.

What temptation does a carriage offer you?



Diary of a Writer – February Prompt

I know I’ve used this photograph of domestic letter-boxes as a prompt before, but I make no apologies.

February is the month of the Valentine and how many romantically inclined readers have not spent an agonising wait for that tell-tale plop as an envelope falls through their own domestic letter-box?

As the years pass, perhaps, greater value may be attached to the everyday and ongoing attentions and manifestations of love than to the ephemeral grand gesture that is a bunch of hugely expensive red roses. (Does anyone ever receive any violets blue?) However, the romantic novel is concerned with the winning of the right to bestow that ongoing, maturing, constant love.

Setbacks are required and what would parallel the placing of your crafted Valentine with its words of love and a secret rendezvous into the wrong post-box?

I can’t think.(Ed)

What would stymie your overtures more than a strict and horrified Papa finding the Valentine first?

Double can’t think. (Ed)

And if you’re the lady sending a Valentine, equal care is needed as not all mamas and papas would appreciate every image chosen.

I probably won’t be sending any Valentines, but having attended both a Haiku workshop and a poetry workshop courtesy of Edinburgh Writers’ Club in recent weeks, I’m tempted.

Actually, I’m at work on a new serial for the People’s Friend and in between instalments on a new Pocket Novel.

The lovely folk at Ulverscroft recently accepted my contemporary novel, Christmas at Maldington, for their catalogue and it will be going into libraries later in the year. Look out for it. May I just say thank you to all the discerning readers who borrowed my books from libraries and enabled an exciting payments’ notice from the PLR. I do appreciate it.

All good wishes for your own writing, and reading, Courting the Countess has been attracting ratings over on Amazon and is available at a modest price for your kindle.


Diary of a Writer – October Prompt

In the Woods
The Wise Owl.
Another beautiful group.

Do I forage? Only for brambles!

I enjoy eating funghi but am not confident enough to know what’s deliciously edible and what’s poisonously inedible. I leave the selecting to more knowledgeable chefs.

The pictures as prompts for writing, heralding late autumn and early winter as they do, suggest the obvious. Accidental or deliberate poisoning comes to mind. However, the owl adds a subtlety. Wise, we may be, but what happens when we get it wrong?

Are the shorter days and the wilder weather systems seeping into your work?

Capital Writers have a little collection for your kindle Dark Stories


Diary of a Writer – September Prompt


Shorter days and darker nights are in the offing. It might be time to think about some spooky stuff.

There’s a short volume of Dark Stories written by me and some of the other Capital Writers Group. It’s called DARK STORIES and is available for a modest 99p.

Do the dark nights turn your writing efforts to ghostly goings on?


A Second Life

City of Discoveries

Re-running on the People’s Friend website is my anniversary serial set in Dundee and Australia. Jennet Marshall is the subject of unwanted attention from the foreman, Fleming. However, an unsuspected champion is on her side.

And – on to the next?

Hold it!

Are there persistent ideas easing their way into your brain? Is there one in particular that will not back off no matter how hard you push back on the door?

The idea for another historical serial to present to my editor for consideration has been fermenting since I attended an online talk as a guest last summer. I asked to be allowed a ticket because the subject matter resonated, because I have read and appreciated other work of the speaker and because – well, isn’t all our writing out of our own experience and the talk was closely related to mine?

I don’t want to give too much away because things are still very tentative and much reading up is still to be done. However, I did want to make a writerly comment.

I went along to my writers’. group the other night – Edinburgh Writers’ Club – where the excellent Claire Wingfield was leading a workshop on mentoring. Principally, she was helping us to see what out project was and what was blocking it.

I can’t speak for the others, but I quickly realised that I was blocking my progress and there were practical things I could do to overcome that blockage. Firstly, I exchanged e-mails with a club member who had offered some help. Secondly, I went back to Google and typed in a diffferent search term. Bingo!

Finding the answer to a question which has troubled me all the way through nurturing this idea, has released the block. I now have my heroine, her love interest, her detractors and her purpose in life. Scenes are popping up in my mind. Ancillary questions ditto. What a difference a cleared path makes to the thought processes.

I hope you’ve all had a similarly enlightening week.


Courting the Countess

Diary of a Writer February Prompt


Coming up for Valentine’s Day and do I have a romantic notion in my head? No.

On the other hand, I did take this photograph of a passion flower in the RBGE last year and I post it here for you to gaze upon and think around.

Much of my recent reading has been for the Book Group, Jackie Kay’s Trumpet which I thought was a beautifully crafted work about love and bereavement. Or has been non-fiction – Peter Ross’s Tomb with a View which I found to be a well-researched and well-written book about not only cemeteries, but some of the folk buried in them. Recommended by Joanne in her Portobella Book Blog. An excellent blog where I have discovered many titles in the past.

Currently, I have Georgette Heyer’s The Quiet Gentleman in hand and am looking forward to moving onto Cecilia Peartree’s The Case of the Late Capybara. Cecilia is a fellow Capital Writer and cozy crime writer extraordinaire.

It is also the case that I went to the online launch last Sunday of Rosemary Gemmells

Dark Delusion and have that treat to look forward to.

So, what have I been writing? A short story of 3,000 words was completed on Sunday afternoon. I don’t do New Year Resolution’s but I saw a fellow writer was going to try a short story a month, so I opened a file called January story. Hmn! Won’t say too much in case I jinx it…

How is your own writing going? Got a Valentine short you’d like to share?

Courting the Countess


Diary of a Writer – January 2022 Prompt

At a summer event

So few of us attended any sizeable events in 2021, I thought I’d offer a wee reminder of what it’s like.

The colour, the months of planning. The moment when the shoe does pinch, but the grass is soft. They are all in this shot. So, if writing’s your thing, there’s something here for your imagination to get to work on.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Dear Readers. May 2022 be kinder to us all.

Inlay Taj Mahal


Diary of a Writer – March Prompt

Holidays will come again.

Meantime the DH and I are trawling through his digital photograph collection and are scratching the surface of the ?k (he’s reluctant to state a number) taken in India. The one above is from a trip to the US, but the rucksack goes everywhere.

How is this a prompt?

Bengal, Rajasthan and the return visit to Agra and Delhi were so full of interest, it’s difficult to know where to start. and I haven’t.

However, the magazines are currently looking for their summer and autumn stories featuring exotic places, so there may be an opportunity.

Will it be one of the truly fabulous palaces, the museum housing silver howdas, the museum of turbans? Or will it be one of the stories collected along the way? The sponsored tuk-tuk rally, for example?

Mirror work

This picture is  of a member of a dancing act whose memorable performance was quite different to anything I’ve seen in the UK. India is also a great place to visit puppet theatres.

All in all, that one month has huge potential for story telling and now, when we can’t go anywhere as vibrant, colourful and different, might be the time to start remembering.


Diary of a Writer – Coping Mechanisms 2

A Quality Product

Morning regular readers. You’ve seen this photo before but it’s very much the time of year. Despite Brexit, marmalade oranges were available, if not in the quantity I wanted. One bag turned into enough of the preserve for three months and another frozen for later on. My neighbour has made two batches. For me it was a good escape into something ‘real’ while awaiting the ed’s decision on the most recent serial instalment.

My decision to avoid shopping in this phase of the pandemic is frustrating and inhibiting. How anyone required to shield coped, I cannot imagine. Congratulations on your perseverance.

While I had laid in a few things, like cards for known upcoming birthdays, I’ve been caught out by others. I only wear a particular type of slipper and I buy it in John Lewis. Currently closed, they will deliver, but is a new pair of slippers an essential item? The current ones haven’t actually fallen apart.

However, this blog is supposed to be about coping and not falling apart. Quite hard that      ( ed).


  1. Have gone back to doing the Scotsman cryptic crossword as well as the codeword.
  2. There’s now outside building work on the other side. Men at work to watch.
  3. I am enjoying Mansefield Park. It has demonstrated to me how empty the lives of upper-middle-class people were and how very dependant they were on each other for society. Even the young men of the family had little to occupy them besides, hunting, shooting and gambling.
  4. Very good lectures in the past week from Royal Botanic Garden and Royal Lyceum Theatre.
  5. Put in my entry for the ‘name the van’ comp being run by Lochinver Pies. Also, am included in order for some of said pies. Yippee!
  6. Did some serious researching and thinking around how the serial will end.

Okay, enough. How is your life ticking over? What are you cooking/eating/buyingonline/reading?