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.

Anne

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Bare Bones and Cover-ups

100_4097The Bare Bones of a story often arrive unheralded and at an inconvenient moment. Having a notebook to hand might be the ideal, but it ain’t always possible. So how do I hold that thought?

An image helps. The lovely lady above was photographed in an Eastern museum. She hasn’t inspired anything yet, but I have the distinct feeling she will and I’m so glad to have her image readily to hand.

Once the bare bones are lodged in your head the question of what next arises. How do you add flesh or covering, cosy curves or flamboyant frocks without losing the initial inspiration?

It was a process I found quite stressful in learning the art of novel writing. Starting out with plays means your head makes allowance in the writing for what the director and actor will bring to any character. Description is hardly needed and as to Stage Directions…Unless you’re the ghost of JM Barrie, forget it. The director certainly will.

Clothing the story and the characters is a lovely creative process. I saw a gentleman through the bus window this morning. Tall, his own hair, smartly dressed – but wait – sporting a bow-tie? Who wears a bow-tie?

And I was off – running. So look out for a story with a dandy, unreliable and petulant, in a bow-tie.

Sorry chaps.

Daisy’s Dilemma contains a few scenes about clothes and clothing. Appearances were so important in the fashionable world – nothing changes, does it – that Tobias instantly sees the problem faced by his young cousin, Elspeth when Daisy brings it to him. She will never attract a suitable husband if she is only the bare bones of a lady. Daisy, however, can be relied upon to have a plan.

Spring Gardens

Calthorpe Community Gardens

Calthorpe Community Gardens

There’s an abundance of wonderful flowering shrubs, trees and plants around us at this time of year. Even in the heart of London – Camden, walking distance from King’s Cross railway station – Calthorpe Community Gardens hold a variety of plants and herbs. It was a joy last week when I was in London for RNA matters to walk out of my hotel and find this green lung within five minutes.

 

Magnolia, home

Magnolia, home

My husband is the gardener around our place and his spring garden is the moment when it’s at its most spectacular. The young magnolia tree was particularly beautiful this year.

 

Garden magnolia

Garden magnolia

On Friday, I walked across to the British Museum where I saw a great exhibition of art and artifacts made by the native peoples of the Torres Straits Islands. On the way I rested a bit in the gardens of Bloomsbury Square. I’ve been collecting photographs of daisies from various places to help advertise my upcoming Daisy’s Dilemma and Bloomsbury Square provided Daisies with added pigeons.

 

Bloomsbury Square Gardens

Bloomsbury Square Gardens

We have pigeons and they’ve stripped a cherry in next door’s garden of its fruit. They fly into it and grab at the thin twiggy ends of the branches with their feet. Several heart-stopping seconds of aerobatic antics later and they gain a perch. It would be funny, but in five weeks time they’ll be making the same hopeless landings in our blackcurrant bushes causing a lot of damage.

It’s great to walk the streets my heroine would have known. I stopped to admire a blue plaque marking the first terraced houses John Nash put up in the late eighteenth century. still standing and in good order they house a dental clinic today.

Daisy’s Dilemma amazon UK http://goo.gl/iMFFVu amazon US http://goo.gl/DMUXzK

Updating Stuff: Storyteller Alley

100_5755

The very lovely Veronica at Storyteller Alley was in touch about my submission to appear on their great site. StorytellerAlley There was a list of questions to answer and a list of pictures to supply. It prompted me to look again at how I was presenting myself. So I’ve updated my author bio. It’s below. And while I’ve gone with my Facebook photo for now, here’s one taken by Scarlet Wilson, HM&B medical author extraordinaire, on Monday evening. I did take the camera case off before she snapped. My camera case is featured quite enough across the web. Might get a little big-headed, no?

 

 

Scottish writer Anne Stenhouse writes dialogue rich historical romance with humour and a touch of mystery in the plot. She lives in Edinburgh in the UK and gets the chance to walk the cobbled streets that appear in some of her fiction because they remain part of the city’s fabric. Anne enjoys wandering in cityscapes, visiting historic houses (particularly the below stairs and outhouses areas) and reading up on life in times past. She finds that place can be very stimulating to the imagination.

She wrote stage drama for many years and enjoyed seeing it performed at both amateur and professional level. Her non-fiction has appeared in Scottish Memories and the magazine of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute among others and her short fiction in magazines and on-line at Shortbread.

Anne has a husband and dancing partner of over thirty years standing. Together they have created three gorgeous children and welcomed a lovely grandson.

The Canadian publisher, MuseItUp brought out two of Anne’s books in 2013 and are publishing a third, set in London 1822, this spring.

Although devoted to her Heroines (bright and articulate) and Heroes (handsome with a touch of arrogance), Anne enjoys the creation of a good and believable villain. The course of true love should be troubled until the last couple of pages, Anne feels, and a strong antagonist is so helpful in achieving that.

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Christmas Presents: Curiosity killed the cat

Christmas presents are much on my mind at present as I try to source my DH’s heart’s desire, remember which books I bought for the family last year and sort out who likes what sweets/chocolate/Italian biccies…

I keep remembering a small incident from childhood and I thought I’d share it. It’s that time of year and I’m, you know, generous to a fault. 100_4512

Our church was a bus ride away. We had no car. One year some of the household went off to the Midnight service and my brothers didn’t. This was why all the parcels lovingly wrapped and placed under the tree had been opened and carefully re-wrapped by the time we returned. As all the sellotape had already been used, the paper was stuck together with flour and water paste.

Some of you will know flour and water paste has a noble history. In parts of Scotland it was used to hang wall-paper. So while curiosity may have killed one or two cats, satisfaction, and a little flour and water, brought them back.

Any similar smiles from your Christmas past?

Not just any old word

The late Margaret McKinlay was my mentor and friend. As the anniversary of her untimely death comes round I find myself considering some of the things she taught me about writing.

A small selection of the novels by EWC members past and present.

A small selection of the novels by EWC members past and present.

The most important was her remark about editor’s or judge’s comments. At this distance in time I can’t remember the exact words, but the gist was this: NEVER dismiss the comment out of hand. A busy person has taken time to read your work and say a little about it. That’s what they believe. Read it. Consider it well. Come back to it when you’ve left it for a couple of days.

Margaret was the writer we’d all like to be. She sold countless humorous articles, short stories and general articles. She tutored for Writers’ News. She mentored people privately. She was an outstanding crime novelist. She also motivated people in ordinary life and was hugely influential in setting up a young people’s centre near where she lived.

I can’t tell you how much I miss her insight when the going is tough.

However, I recently had one of those toughies when a judge’s crit used ‘good’ six times in eleven short lines: but did not rate the story. Instead of sticking pins in anything, I consulted a wiser friend and have read her advice carefully. I think, no more than that, I see where the problem might be. Story amended as suggested has gone off to an experienced ed for consideration.

Every writer needs insightful friends. I have a few and I appreciate them greatly. Thank you all.

 

http://goo.gl/pASdjp Mariah’s Marriage amazon US

“Oh, Mariah, let us not quarrel. We will be married within the month. At least your papa’s house contains plenty of books. You may practise throwing them.” anne stenhouse

http://goo.gl/NxYxj5 Mariah’s Marriage UK

http://goo.gl/PKptQg Bella’s Betrothal US

 …a solitary figure ahead among some gorse and shrubs. Charles thought she made a beautiful picture in her riding habit with the exquisite hat Jenny Menzies wished to inherit. He thought the girl might get it sooner rather than later if he followed his instincts. At that precise moment, he wanted to shake Bella hard. Then he would lock her in the castle in Strath Menzies and hold her forever. anne stenhouse

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Photobomb, Bridezilla, Bake-off

Prickly dress suitable for Bridezilla

Prickly dress suitable for Bridezilla

Photobomb, bridezilla, bake-off – what do they mean to you? New words have entered our language, whatever that language is, forever. Today the Scotsman newspaper had a short article about the ones that have crept into the dictionary most recently.

I may now be a little taller than Her Majesty as she is rich in years, but not much. It would be very hard for me to achieve any kind of photobomb. Definition – I think upstaging covers it. Or in the theatre – masking. Stealing the limelight might also do it. Apparently Her Majesty achieved one at the Commonwealth Games this year by crossing behind a group being photographed.

It’s not, in the case of this word, the action that’s new, but the way of describing it. Each generation has its own words and continued use of them can date us. Take Fabulous for example. That was The Word at my high school in the sixties.

Of course adults tried to curry favour by using it. Sadly, like almost getting the name of a pop band right, nothing establishes your out-of-it credentials quite as firmly as getting the jargon wrong.

I’m finding this myself at present as I’ve taken over being my writing club’s SAW representative. For years (and years, etc) I’ve described this as S A W saying each initial letter separately. The new kids on the block say saw as in one word describing a tool that cuts things. Tough. I can be very obtuse!

Bridezilla has been around for a wee while. It does take time for new words to make it into being recognised words. Bridezilla is a play on Godzilla, I suppose. Defined now as a ‘woman whose behaviour in organising her wedding is unacceptable.’ Quite. Do you know one, or several? If a girl can’t make a fuss about the height of the cake, the length of the dresses and whether Auntie Maud can take her teeth out to eat the meal or not, then what’s her life worth?

Moving swiftly on…

Bake-off The phenomenal success of a television programme always leaves spin-offs. It might be words, dress, attitudes, whatever… I can bake. all girls, and some boys at my school, were taught to bake, but in any case, one’s mum taught one to bake, too. There’s a world of difference of course between what I can bake and what the contestants on that programme baked. That’s the rub here. My friend is in a book group. The ground rules when it was set-up were few. One was ‘No competitive baking.’ Quite.

Rejection Blues – All part of the Writer’s Journey

Rejection was sitting at the top of my inbox this morning.

Rejections that say, ‘a well written piece with clearly defined characters’, leave you floundering.

The last rejection said ‘You have a fluid, natural and compelling writing style and we were intrigued,’

The rejection at the RNA 1-2-1 was cloaked in such positive language, I believed it meant success.

Success is a spider ready to disappear into the plug-hole.

Foolish Writer. Words clearly don’t mean what the dictionary definition tells you.

On to the next…

 

http://goo.gl/pASdjp Mariah’s Marriage amazon US

“Oh, Mariah, let us not quarrel. We will be married within the month. At least your papa’s house contains plenty of books. You may practise throwing them.” anne stenhouse

http://goo.gl/NxYxj5 Mariah’s Marriage UK

http://goo.gl/PKptQg Bella’s Betrothal US

 …a solitary figure ahead among some gorse and shrubs. Charles thought she made a beautiful picture in her riding habit with the exquisite hat Jenny Menzies wished to inherit. He thought the girl might get it sooner rather than later if he followed his instincts. At that precise moment, he wanted to shake Bella hard. Then he would lock her in the castle in Strath Menzies and hold her forever. anne stenhouse

http://goo.gl/5RBzIm Bella’s Betrothal UK

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Festival – itis

After the Night Before

After the Night Before

Festival – itis is a serious, but treatable, condition. It’s contracted by persons whose lives are compromised by over-indulgence in an art form. Some difficult to manage cases involve more than one art form.

Edinburgh during August and early September is a challenging place to be if your addiction to an art form is live. Remember, there’s no shame in admitting this. None at all.

If the art form you struggle with is Books and Reading, then avoid Charlotte Square while passing through Edinburgh. Also there are book shops selling new books. These sit cheek by jowl with book shops selling old books.

Is Drama your passion? Really hard few weeks for you, then. The Traverse Theatre in Cambridge Street should be avoided at all costs. More shows in rep than you can imagine and mostly of five and four star quality. You’ve been warned.

Amateur Drama? Oh dear! Turn back now or be prepared for three and a half weeks of sleeplessness.

What about Music? Classical, orchestral, chamber, ethnic, guitar, solo voices, choral voices, pipe-bands, big bands, one-man-bands … Really, you need ear-plugs, but take care: visitors do find our traffic hard to manoeuvre. and there are the trams: silent except for the bell, apparently.

Dance? Okay, the Playhouse may give you the shakes, so stay away from the East end and watch out for the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. It can sneak into that space and they’ve erected a Studio Theatre now, too.

Opera? Well, the Festival Theatre needs steering around for you.

Street Theatre My own personal addiction is listening-in. Other than adopting artistic purdah for the month, there’s no cure for this one. Characters are all around. Enjoy.

Art – Is Art your art form? Sculpture, painting, drawing, screen-prints, textiles… It’s really easy to see a gallery – they’re generally quite large purpose built buildings. Or they’re a converted school. Keep your antennae polished.

Okay, so you’ve been warned. I’ll probably see you there. I was at Bloody Trams last night. review is here

 

http://goo.gl/pASdjp Mariah’s Marriage amazon US

“Oh, Mariah, let us not quarrel. We will be married within the month. At least your papa’s house contains plenty of books. You may practise throwing them.” anne stenhouse

http://goo.gl/NxYxj5 Mariah’s Marriage UK

http://goo.gl/PKptQg Bella’s Betrothal US

 …a solitary figure ahead among some gorse and shrubs. Charles thought she made a beautiful picture in her riding habit with the exquisite hat Jenny Menzies wished to inherit. He thought the girl might get it sooner rather than later if he followed his instincts. At that precise moment, he wanted to shake Bella hard. Then he would lock her in the castle in Strath Menzies and hold her forever. anne stenhouse

http://goo.gl/5RBzIm Bella’s Betrothal UK

https://www.omnilit.com/product-bella039sbetrothal-1312055-162.

html https://www.omnilit.com/product-mariah039smarriage-1173550-149.html