Trees, trees, trees

Creel Christmas Tree, Ullapool

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the trees but this year perhaps we should all have gone in for a little creativity like the good citizens of Ullapool.

A Retreating Writer

It’s fairly likely that the garb I’m dressed in above will be the most suitable for this year’s celebrations.

Stay Safe Everyone

Anne

Death at Rainbow Cottage – Jo Allen

 

Death at Rainbow Cottage: A DCI Satterthwaite mystery (The DCI Satterthwaite Mysteries)

 

Written by my Edinburgh friend and fellow Capital Writer, Jo Allen, I’m delighted to feature this 4th outing for Jo’s Lake District detective, DI Jude Satterthwaite and his team.

If you thought lovely rural locations meant sentimental Christmassy scenes to everyone, dipping into Jo’s cleverly crafted pyschological mysteries, will certainly make you reconsider.

We all need a good whodunnit on the go over Christmas and this is going to be mine.

Death at Rainbow Cottage

Pantomime Deprivation

Is Pantomime Deprivation a ‘real’ thing?

Certainly in this house there are twitchy people wondering when, when, when we’ll be back in the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, on a more normal footing. Hats off to all our creatives who are working so hard to keep their venues, staff and art going.

My next Pocket Novel for My Weekly is published on Thursday 10th December and it contains – a Pantomime.

CHRISTMAS AT MALDINGTON

Genni escapes for some much needed recovery after a death on her television show. She meets Paddy and directs a pantomime. Love of live theatre rekindled, will she return to the brighter lights of London?

Publication is 10th December and as always available from newsagents, supermarkets and online or by phone from the DC Thomson shop.

Meantime the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh has some wonderful Christmas Tales for us. Go here 

Scroll down to find the instructions for the 8 free tales.

Keep Safe, folks,

Anne

Round Robin – November – Re-blog, Anne Stormont – Staying Safe and Staying Sane – the 2020 Way

This month’s Round robin topic asked us to: Review or recommend a book, a short story, or an online article, or a post on someone’s blog.

As you can see I’ve opted to re-blog a post written last month by fellow Scottish writer ANNE STORMONT.

I think Anne’s post sums up a lot of the experience of writers in 2020 and I commend it to you. My fellow robins will have opted for other approaches and you can find out what by clicking on the links below.

The first book in Anne’s excellent Skye series is Displacement

and you can buy it here.

Not long now till I can share the cover art for Christmas at Maldington with you – exciting to have two books out in 2020. Meantime there are a few copies of A Debt for Rosalie available here:

A Debt for Rosalie buy here

Margaret Fieland
Skye Taylor
Diane Bator

Connie Vines

Fiona McGier
Dr. Bob Rich
Beverley Bateman
Rhobin L Courtright

 

Put it in Writing

Look away now if you don’t want to read a post with the ‘c’ word in it – and by ‘c’ word I mean Covid-19.

Staying Safe

It’s probably safe to stay, wherever you are in the world, that life during much of 2020 has been difficult, with us all having to get used to a new sort of normal due to the Covid pandemic. But I should say right at the start that I’m grateful that I – and my nearest and dearest – have remained healthy throughout. And I’m doing my bit to keep it that way – for everyone I encounter as well as myself – by washing my hands, wearing a mask and doing the social-distancing thing. It’s really not that hard.

Staying Sane

But with all the restrictions on social life and travel – I’ve certainly found staying sane by looking after my mental and…

View original post 723 more words

Hallowe’en – Dark Stories – Capital Writers

Four rather edgier stories than our earlier collections for Hallowe’en and your kindle.

Ghostly goings on from Kate Blackadder, Jennifer Young and from Me, Anne Stenhouse. A thought provoking Bonfire Night story from Jane Riddell completes the number.

DARK STORIES

Round Robin – October

October’s Round Robin question is: What is your favorite book(s) of all time in
your favorite genre(s)? (You can include children’s books or non-fiction
or even magazines).

Sometimes a question seems to be easy-peasy and then, STOP PRESS, it’s anything but. What is my favourite book in a favourite genre?

How do we define ‘favourite’ for starters? Is it shown by the physical state the book has descended to? If so The Conceited Lamb must be high on my list. It was a ‘prize’ for perfect attendance so I’ve owned it for well over 60 years and clearly read it over and over when younger.

 

Also in this photo is a copy of JM Barrie’s Quality Street. The last time I appeared on stage was as a seventeen-year-old in the first act of Quality Street. It was a school production directed by the incomparable Dr MacQueen and great fun. This copy has wonderful pen and ink illustrations by Hugh Thomson. I always enjoy them.

 

The copy of Pride and Prejudice has lost its dust cover, but it, too, was a school prize. In 1960-61 it was considered suitable reading material for a primary age pupil. I wonder how it fares now? Was it responsible for my life-long attachment to and love of the Regency novel? Or was that the author of the other book here, Georgette Heyer. Difficult to tell. I love Jane Austen as it’s the moment when English becomes modern and, some slang aside, understandable to a twentieth century reader. Georgette Heyer’s work is so rich in detail and history. It is unflinching in the portrayal of the female state and its opposite, the male state.

However, it is funny. Many of the characters are unforgettable for reasons stretching from ‘charming’ to ‘diabolical’. Her language takes us into a world of its own. And, by and large, everyone has grey eyes. So much simpler to deal with when instructing the cover illustration.

NON-FICTION

Okay, here’s the shock horror moment: while I love a good story, and I do read modern writers as well as the comfortable old favourites, my preferred choice is often a non-fiction book.

I recently read Lara Maiklem’s wonderful Mudlarking. There are a lot of dropped pins in it, and a lot of which stairs are safest at low tide, but there’s so much more. In an easy, conversational style, she takes us along the shores of the Thames and brings in so much of the river’s history. I will read this one again.

Charge of the Parasols by Catriona Blake was recommended to me by medical friends when I said I was wrting about the Edinburgh Seven. I had to source it online, but I hope someone might reprint as it’s a joy.

I simply love information.

And so to my own books. Rosalie, above, is the most recent. It’s a contemporary story, but it’s set in a David Bryce house of my imaginining. Who was David Bryce? A Victorian architect who worked in the country house market. I used to visit one of his mid-century houses as a guest and developed an interest in his work. His signature was often a small, round tower-like flourish. In the house I visited, they contained the loos.

I bought a catalogue from the Christian Aid book sale of works by him and other Victorian architects. Like so many things I’ve read, it came into its own as research material in due course.

A new adventure set in Maldington House will be released by My Weekly on 10th December. Title not yet known, but it is Christmas themed.

In the meantime, check back here for a fresh anthology from Capital Writers. It’s for Hallowe’en so there will be spooks.

My fellow Robins are below. Who are their favourites?

Anne

 

 

 

 

 

Skye Taylor


Diane Bator

 


Connie Vines


Dr. Bob Rich


Fiona McGier


Victoria Chatham


Helena Fairfax


Beverley Bateman

Rhobin L Courtright

 

Round Robin

Most novels have an easily understood point to make to the reader, do your stories ever have more subtle or intuitive themes?

This month’s question contains an assumption – Novels have an easily understood point.

I’m not 100% sure that they do. Occasionally you’ll read a novel where the author constantly reminds you of the hero or heroine’s reason for being unlovable/depressed/hyper and very irritating they are. My preferred read is one where it slowly becomes clear that the hero or heoine struggled through a difficult or inadequate childhood or relationship or period of employment.

In my early work there were one or two characters whose inadequate childhood consisted of being given too much. Having no boundaries can be as difficult to surmount as having too many, I think.

Daisy in Daisy’s Dilemma is one such. She wants to marry John Brent and when he falls into her hands discovers, actually, that would be a great mistake. It’s the discovering she’d be in the wrong that makes Daisy’s story.

Coming up to date, my most recently published novel is contemporary and it deals with less flighty issues – bankruptcy, alcoholism and a life’s passion (for cooking). Here, I would agree I’m making use of subtlety and intuition. Why did Rosalie fall under Steve’s spell? She discovers why when she sees how he brings savvy businesswoman, Agnes, into line, too.

I think when you’re writing romance the reader might expect either a happy ever after or a happy enough for now – and I don’t disappoint on that score. The journey, however, does contain those more subtle and intuitive themes. Mariah (of Mariah’s Marriage now available in some libraries) has a strong social consceince and fights to save her apparent enemy from domestic abuse by her brother. It’s the below the surface themes that add colour and depth to characters.

My fellow authors, below, also have thoughts on this subject and you may like to read theirs.

Anne

Connie Vines

Judith Copek
Diane Bator
Fiona McGier

Dr. Bob Rich

Victoria Chatham
Helena Fairfax
Rhobin L Courtright

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?

Anne

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 – 54 – A Completion of Sorts

The artwork is by Israel Dov Rosenbaum 1877 and is called Design for the Eastern wall. It made a very satisfactory jigsaw as there was so much detail. Unlike the earlier ones of acres of Scottish bog and blue sky with the odd cloud, these animals, birds and artifacts all offered a clue for the compiler.

A completion of sorts for these strange times. DH and I sat around the table in the front window with a glass before supper, for a couple of nights, and watched the world go by. Not quite a street café in Munich or Palermo, but a change in the current limited routine.

Enjoyed some fresh smoked haddock from the fish van.

Anne

 

Round robin – May 2020 – Edits

This month Rhobin has asked us to consider: All books go through multiple edits. What have
your learned are your problems, and what irks you about editing?

Problems

I overuse ‘that’ and I have the playwright’s inability to describe scenes and thoughts. Worse than both of those, I have the problem resolved by the end of chapter one.

Many writers have a word/s. Favourites are that, just, like, okay, anyway, Well..

I’m sure you pick up the idea. When the wonderful Judy Roth, my editor at MuseItUp pointed out to me how often I used ‘that’ I was horrified. It is, however, an easy issue to tackle. Whatever your word/s is/are a quick find search will show you where the devils are lurking and you can amend the text.

Withholding information was another issue I struggled with when I changed from writing drama to prose. Drama allows you to expect there will be input from an actor and a director. You don’t need, and in fact would be daft, to explain what the character is thinking. Expression is the actor’s job assisted by input from the director.

In prose, this is not the case. The reader needs a few clues. If the heroine is shredding her reticule with her fingers, the reader knows she’s agitated. If she’s sitting peacably at the side of the room, the reader has no clue she’s so worked up it was inevitable she would fire the gun…

It’s all very well to surprise your reader, but not to trick them.

However, that kind of editing is fine by me. I actually rather enjoy it. What causes me sleepless nights and endless re-writing is the structural stuff. It is my natural disposition to explain things to people. Useless for any kind of fiction. If the hero and heroine are in complete agreement about the perfidy of his mother by the end of chapter one then there is no point in writing the rest of the book. There is no rest of the book. It has taken me years to understand I do this.

What irks me about editing is missing things. I hate opening the finished file and finding a mistake on page three. How did that happen?

Capital Writer, Jane Riddell has written a book on the subject Go here to Words’worth.

Daisy’s Dilemma

My fellow scribes share their own pet peeves. Why not pop over and check them out?

Anne

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/

Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1UN
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com