Diary of a Writer – June Prompt

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It is always a prompt to remember that you’ve done it before.

From Lume Books, Courting the Countess, tells the story of Melissa Pateley who was badly burned in a house fire and is under threat from fortune hunters, including a stalker. It opens in the Border country but quickly moves to Regency Edinburgh where Melissa is nurtured by the handsome, Harry Gunn and his family. A fairytale inversion.

Round Robin – May 2022

What are your favorite things to do when you need to get away from a stalled writing? Does it help you to resume with new ideas on the book you are writing?

The above two and related questions are what our little group is pondering this month.

Well, yes, I am floundering in a ‘stalled writing’ state, I think. Having had such a productive Lockdown x 2, it’s hit me rather hard to be unable to progress a story I really want to tell: so reaction to question one:

Go on holiday. It’s now permitted and the UK is full of wonderful historic sites and beautiful gardens. Gardens are balm.

At this time in May, there are many rhodedendrons to see in huge bursts of colour and many, many smaller flowers like the Iris above. Taking a meander through places like Bodnant and Bridgenorth, listening to the bees, watching the birds frantically feeding their young and finding treasures such as an historical novelist will drool over, is a good answer to question one.

And if anyone knows what a chimney like the one above was part of, please tell me in the comments.

Does it help me? I think it does. the mind resets. The brain benefits from being away from the desk/computer and my eyes certainly do, too.

Of course, I took a book away with me. Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell’s award winning book about Agnes/Anne Hathaway and Shakespeare’s son’s death from the plague. I read it for the book group and arrived home with just enough time to get along to the discussion. I thought the book was a wonderful work. Does it inspire? Oh, yes, it does. Time to knuckle down and get on with it.

What are your cure-all techniques? Maybe you’ll find inspiration in the posts of my fellow Robins, below.


Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Dr. Bob Rich — https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2CG

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/

Rhobin Courtright http://rhobincourtright.com

Diary of a Writer – Admin

Some time ago

Tackling some long-g-g-g overdue admin tasks included clearing out a file dated 2010. Imagine my surprise when this fell out!

My ‘book’ tells me the story was called The Man In the Moon and it went on to be sold after the comp to Story magazine.

Off to the bank soon as the actual fiver is paper and I’ll need to change it for a plastic one. Despite the huge difference in what it would have bought and will now buy, I was really chuffed.

And I now have a working (for me anyway) synopsis. Relief doesn’t begin to describe that reaction.

How’s your writing world this grey Monday?


Diary of a Writer – May Prompt


I believed I’d open this post with a photograph of one of Corsica’s beautiful flowers, but on scrolling through the pics I took on my recent trip to that amazing island, I remembered I’d been really taken by this piece. Is it furniture? Maybe it’s what one would call a ‘fitting’. The little panels still have names in some cases so there shouldn’t be any confusion for Monsieur or Madame. The possibilities, however, are endless. Expecting a cheque? You can see an envelope with a bank’s logo thereon through the tiny portcullis – but it’s in the next door box to yours. A love letter? News of a job or a sick relative? So near and, without that key, so far.

Endless possibilities, endless scope, endless fun. What does it conjure for you?

Have you visited Capital Writers April catch-up post yet? Some of my writing friends have been very busy indeed.

Rejection e-mail from the lovely ed. Hurumph! Ah well, goes with the job, doesn’t it? Must try harder. With that wonderful post box above, there’s no excuse.


Re-reading is such a Pleasure

City of Discoveries

Gathering momentum towards the final resolutions, City of Discoveries has been a joy to follow on the Daily Serial slot from People’s Friend.

Full Blooms

Orchids are a rewarding flower to keep but sometimes the ‘keeping’ can be a while. Two and a half years in the case of the yellow one. The tall pink one, on the other hand, blooms almost year round. So these are for my editor, Alan Spink, who chose City of Discoveries for this second outing. Thanks, Alan.

What are you re-reading? Is it your own? The sublime Georgette’s? Or AN Other’s?


Diary of a Writer – April Prompt


Will this edited photo of me, taken by my Uni friend, Miranda Kennet, inspire anyone?

Well, firstly, Miranda is an artist, Miranda McArthur, and was keen to try out the softwear she’d been sent by a friend. Secondly, she thought the pics of me available online at that time were uniformly bad. (Hides head in shame) I must say, I do like the slightly more sophisticated appearance given by her softwear. Maybe it will inspire me to think myself into circumstances worthy of a story.

Scottish Association of Writers Conference

At the conference last month, I attended Olga Wojtas’s workshop on creating fiction out of historical fact. It, too, involved changing one’s view of oneself. In the workshop, Olga invited us to remember an event which had an emotional impact on us. Then, before writing it up, to change our sex. So, girls became boys and boys became girls. Did this distance us from the incident enough to make more objective decisions? Did it empower us to answer the perpetrator differently?

I hadn’t answered at all in the incident I chose, but others did find becoming male made them more assertive, for example.

I imagine everyone finds themselves furious with themselves from time to time when wrong-footed or left gasping over a verbal insult. Why didn’t I say…

Writing fiction, we have ample opportunity to craft perfect replies for all situations. Let’s get to it. Bullies, verbal and physical, beware the power of the pen.

Synopsis writing has at last turned the corner. Being confined to my study while a new carpet was laid on the landing and staircase was a material factor.

Really enjoying the Daily Serial manifestation of City of Discoveries.

How are things with your writing?


City of Discoveries

DC Thomson are running a strand of the City of Discoveries serial I wrote for them to mark their 150th anniversary of continuous publication of the People’s Friend Magazine. It began in January 2019 in the magazine and these excerpts are available on their website, link below at City of Discoveries. The illustration is by Mandy Dixon and remains as colourful and attractive now as it was then.

City of Discoveries


Round Robin – Writing of the Pandemic

:Thanks to Connie Vines for this month’s topic.

How are you dealing with the COVID pandemic in your contemporary novels/short
stories? Not as a political statement or polarizing pro/con mask stance,
but the way the COVD virus affects the day-to-day lives of your
characters and appears within the story’s plot line?

On Christmas morning last year, a writing friend died. As so often happens when someone dies, I thought of my association with her, the times we’d been in company, some of her conversation and some of her writing. Also she had a pre-writing life as a Health Ambassador in Pakistan and Afghanistan which she came to through her work with Oxfam.

I remember her telling a group of us about how she explained germs to women who’d never thought of such a thing. She had a glass jug of water and asked them to watch her pour salt into it. Could they see the salt? No. Did they know the salt was there? Yes.

I think that explains how I’m dealing with the pandemic in my writing. I know it’s there but I’m not making a big thing of it. I may mention that my characters are working from home without spelling out why. My readers are living through this time, too. They know why most people working from home are doing that.

Most of my recent writing has been set in the nineteenth century and so I’ve avoided the issues thrown at us by the pandemic but I have written two contemporary short stories recently and one of them refers to the pandemic, if obliquely, because it explains a decision that would otherwise seem a little odd. The other one doesn’t. The second one has a plotline that didn’t need the pandemic and so I missed it out.

However, I do think the pandemic stories are there in my brain and will seep out over the next year or two. I hope they’ll be upbeat and show people coping with technology they never thought they’d need to know about. Maybe there’ll be the re-kindling of romance in established couples. Possibly the finding again of lost skills and pastimes. How many of us dug out jigsaws? If any of you followed my lockdown diary (it’s on this blog – scroll down) you may remember the way I was plunged into cooking three meals a day seven days a week. Nettle soup? You may remember the joy, absolute joy, of being sent a dinner by my children to mark the DH’s birthday.

Also, I think it has caused a re-evaluation of what it is to live. There are stories in the idiosyncrasies of one’s neighbours. There are stories in the sudden moments of blind panic most of us experienced – when will this end type panic? There are heroic stories of the people who not only kept our health service operating, but those who kept our utilities running and the paper being delivered and the post. The people who went into work stocking shelves in our supermarkets.

And there are the people who were less than heroic. I won’t give examples, but I’ve got one or two in the memory bank.

Some fellow Robins are listed below and I’m sure their views will be worth reading.

Thanks for dropping by,


Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Dr. Bob Rich  https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2wY 

Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/

Helena Fairfax https://helenafairfax.com/blog/

Robin Courtright

It’s in the Jar

A Quality Product

Not these jars – well, probably some of these jars as the actual jars are re-used from year to year. What I mean is the BIG BATCH has been made and we now wait to be sure it will set.

The normal activities of a writers’ household may resume again shortly, although, there is that birthday jigsaw underway on the dining-room table. Research really, as it’s full of scenes from the Georgian world as displayed in Jane Austen’s books.

I’m currently reading Miss Austen as recommended to me by fellow Capital Writer, Kate Blackadder. It’s by Gill Hornby, but I suppose as I am, as usual, late to the party, you all knew that. Anyway it is really good, folks. I think I might re-read Persuasion again very soon.

I did write a short story this week.


How are your days coming along? Are you back in the writing groove? Or the reading one?

COURTING THE COUNTESS is available for your kindle but my publishers, Lume Books, have made it available to read free if you’re a kindle unlimited person.



Left Over

When I make my famous smoked salmon paté, there are very few leftovers and the pic above, taken during the launch of Bella’s Betrothal, backs me up. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should say the recipe came out of an article in the Radio Times and the ‘fame’ is localised.)

However, when catering for an indeterminate number, thanks Covid 19, there are going to be leftovers because what hostess would risk running out? And so it was with Christmas Dinner the second – oh, and a wee bittie from Christmas Dinner the first.

The wee bittie was served last night. Scottish Smoked salmon and a chunk of hot smoked with a leek, red pepper and spring onions, morphed into a great pasta sauce with the addition of some chicen stock and leftover double cream.

The bigger event has turned into celery soup for today’s lunch. Why didn’t I know how few of my family like braised celery? No clue. Anyway, their loss is DH and I’s gain. Together with three roast tatties, a spoonful of cooked cauliflower, half the brown gravy from the venison and the scrapings from the carton of cream, I think I have a winner.

Tonight, there’s leftover venison haunch and brown gravy. Add some veg and we’re good for another great meal. Hope the sommelier (aka DH) has some wine leftover, too.

What imaginative recipes have you created that have turned into family or seasonal favourites?

Writing? Ah, yes. Writing.