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?


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?


Diane Bator
Connie Vines
Skye Taylor
Victoria Chatham
Beverley Bateman

Anne Stenhouse
Margaret Fieland
Dr. Bob Rich
Rhobin L Courtright

Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 53 – Book News 2

The second book launch of the week is FULFILMENT by Anne Stormont Fulfilment completes Anne’s trilogy of novels about Rachel and Jack. On her own blog she says:

If you like mature, emotional and thought-provoking contemporary romance in a dramatic setting, then this is a book for you.

Couldn’t agree more and congratulations from Novels Now to Anne for a sterling achievement.

Here in Lockdown, we had a great evening with the DH’s sailing pals – BYOB. Two slide shows of fabulous Scottish scenery and dolphins – often taken from the boat. I love islands and can get to them without disgracing myself, in single numbers. An extended trip, however, is not for me. Being the sort of person who knows they’re standing on a pontoon because of an overpowering feeling of seasickness, I’d be useless in a storm. So, it was lovely to be included with the gang and to meet some of the folk the DH has been hanging out with for years.

Rang a friend’s door bell as was passing and chatted on my doorstep to a friend. Thinking about the Round Robin post which might be scheduled for tomorrow. Awaiting advice. Editing is the subject. Jigsaw down to the last 20-30 difficult pieces.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 52 – Book News

I did promise there would be two book launches in our Lockdown world this week. Here is the first:

Gemma’s Not Sure by Gill Stewart is published today by Sweet Cherry Publishing.

Gemma’s not sure if she’s brave enough to go to her audition, or if she even wants to study music at all. She’s definitely not sure forming a band with Lily’s hot ex-boyfriend is a good idea.

And what could be more enticing for a romance reader than that? Gill is an established author of romance and Young Adult fiction, a long term member of the RNA and highly recommendable.

Zoom continues to delight and frustrate in equal measure. Those of us in the book group who managed to log in had an interesting discussion of Valerie Luisella’s Lost Children Archive. My gut reaction to the blurb for this book was ‘How very American. I can read this.’ I wasn’t disappointed but it is nonetheless a difficult book, in my opinion. Difficult subject matters – lost children, the treatment of children travelling alone, marriage in the 21st century, marriage in any century, land clearances… And the author, while she lives in New York, was born in Mexico.

Have you experienced a reaction to a book similar to my ‘How very American’? Care to share?

And finally, The Quiet Gentleman by the Queen of Regency herself, Georgette Heyer, continues to delight.




Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 51 – There’s a World Out There

The Woman’s Weekly magazine arrived this morning with the papers and it features an interview with Romantic Novelists’ Association’s President, Katie Fforde, on how she’s coping with the lockdown.

I first met Katie and her husband at the lovely autumn conference which used to happen in Pitlochry. Hugh Rae, sadly now the late, used to inveigle promising and rising stars he’d encountered at the Swanwick Writers’ School to come along and she was one such.

I see from the interview that Katie’s stellar success might be down in part to her thinking time walking the family dog. I don’t have a Wolfhound or its replacement a King Charles Spaniel, so possibly that’s where I went wrong. Possibly, there are other reasons.

Yesterday, was a trip to the local butcher’s shop, Mathieson’s (or Coq & Bull), where I took advice from the owner’s son as, after six weeks of a meal every day, I’m out of ideas. Glasgow Fillet was the result and very good it was, too.

Curiously, on the way back I met one of the organisers of the Edinburgh Christian Aid Book Sale and heard a lot of the goss attaching. She looked much more relaxed than she would have done had the sale been in full swing. Even more curiously, I encounterd two King Charles Spaniels. Owned by some neighbours, these little escape merchants needed to be coralled and their owners alerted. (We are listening PM & FM).

Writing, cooking, jigsaw, chocolate (woops), and the next GH, A Quiet Gentleman, help one hour slide into the next. Scrabble although DH won as he again managed to go out and earn the BONUS! Steward’s Enquiry needed I feel.

Any favourite menus I might give a try? Who did you encounter before they were famous in their field?

Christian Aid Week


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 50 – Care Needed

This picture was taken of the Clachtoll Rangers’ Hut some time ago. Perhaps the hole no longer exists, or perhaps it’s a bit bigger. The thing about stoats of course is that they bound along in a slinky blur, but at that last hurdle, the entrance, care is needed.

Had a granny-type conversation yesterday with new neighbour. Found some of the tinned fruit another neighbour likes in the shops. Retrieved the box, in date, of cereal I knew was in the back of the cupboard, for Bethany. Finished A Civil Contract which I thought rather a good book in its own right. (What?Ed) (Well, it’s GH so must be good.) Struggling with jigsaw but enjoying the WIP. Now know what the conflict is. (Really?Ed) Well, the misunderstanding, if you like. (Just get on with it! Ed)

Mildly worried about what the scales say but did replenish chocolate supples. Hmn! 50 days. Care Needed.

From the inside an entrance is an exit.

Christian Aid Week


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 49 – Together Apart

The Prime Minister has indicated that England should go back to work if it can’t work from home, on its bike, on Wednesday. As we are behind the infection curve, the First Minister and her Welsh and Northern Ireland peers, think we won’t.

It’s too serious to make smug remarks or worthy pontifications. If it pans out well, I’ll be glad for them. If it doesn’t deeply saddened.

Writers – the Mirror newspaper is running a Crime Short Story competition, here

Yesterday, we were in Somerset and Dorset in a heatwave. What a lot of churches, cathedrals and Big Hooses we visited. Jigsaw slowing as the remaining bits become rather too alike to slot easily into spaces. WIP taking better shape. It’s cool in Edinburgh beneath a cloudless blue sky.

Christian Aid Week Donate here


Lockdown diary – 2020 – 48 – Another Day gone by

After the Night Before

A lively Skype call with some of the younger members of the family yesterday afternoon cheered this household up no end. Mutual interest in trains – wooden, plastic, clockwork – can still be a connection even when the ‘track’ is less than a foot long.

Enjoyed someone’s phone photo, on social media yesterday, of the fox going down the steps into Waverley Station. Deer have been sighted in the local cricket ground. The Skype call featured both a giraffe and a hippo…

Hats off to the unsung domestic heroes looking after the young, the very old, the very ill, the vulnerable and the confused. Thinking of you all.

Jigsaw looking good. A Civil Contract absorbing, entertaining, exasperating in equal measures. Joined the DH to watch Scotland’s rugby victory over the French in a past season.

Today being Sunday, Mayfied Salisbury Parish Church has posted its online worship. Here

Two major issues are highlighted in the intimations following the service. Firstly, this is Christian Aid Week. A week when many from the church community would have been working very hard to raise funds for the worldwide organisation. Many in Edinburgh would have been working at or buying from the Book Sale in St Andrew’s and St George’s.

Book Sale books

Christian Aid are seeking our donations online, here

Secondly, the intimations feature a wishlist for the homeless folk being put up in The Old Waverley Hotel. It’s from the Bethany Care Shelter. You can read about this initiative and find a donate button here


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 47 – New Skills

Hair clippers (human)

As time goes by the folk around us become decidedly hairier. The image gazing back from the mirror is too. However, the DH has never been one for putting up with an irritation that could be dealt with, so we are now the owners of hair clippers. Before and after photos are not available, although one of the neckline was sent to the family. The customer asserts “It’s fine.”

I won’t be applying to Edinburgh College any time soon, but the whole exercise went better than I expected. I had viewed a few google clips and the DH had advice based on what a hairdresser did next.

Have you discovered any unsuspected (unwanted) talents?

Otherwise, it was a shopping day and the fish for tea was fresh and tasty. DH played bridge. I did lots, and lots, of jigsaw. We travelled to the South Glenshiel Ridge and Rothesay.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 46 – Hindsight will be wonderful

There are so many things in life that we do not understand. Some, like these spheres photographed in Costa Rica are highly visible. Some, like the actual virus now devastating the world, are non-visible – to the naked eye.

Political leaders must be agonising over whether ‘the time is right’ and whether ‘the time will ever be right’ to ease lockdown measures. I don’t know the answer and have only emotional input to offer in any discussion. Let’s hope and pray that the hindsight doesn’t have to be too critical of the decisions that were taken and why.

On an emotional note, we had a great Zoom quiz with all the offspring last night. Precious moments. I hope there are many in your lives, too.

World travel took us to Harris, Paris and India. All without jetlag or the need to queue. Highly recommended. Progress on both the jigsaw and the WIP. Received in the post a photobook of a trip to Orkney DH and I made last year. Fabulous! Postie reports business is comparable to Christmas.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 45 – PC woes

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

Courting the Countess – Anne

I did finally manage to turn the remaining calendar to May yesterday.

So, the major woe is not mine but of a self-isolating/shielding friend whose laptop has given up the ghost. She’s hoping her regular expert will be able to sort things out over the air, but is meantime bereft. The prospect of trying to lead life in these days without an internet connection is truly a waking nightmare.

My own woe is minor in comparison – sticky keys keeps sliding on. Adjusting it in settings restores the letters to functionality but not keyboard scrolling. Ah well, the WIP will be very well considered.

Will have news of not ONE but TWO new books from fellow scribes in the next few days. Mesdames Stewart and Stormont have been featured on Novels Now before. It’s an honour to be able to mention them again.

Yesterday was a shopping day. Brought in a couple of things for a neighbour. Scrabble. More 2nd honeymoon – in Gargonza this time. Made a mushroom risotto – may have got the hang of that now (as opposed to savoury rice which we’ve eaten for decades). Watched the workmen working in the heat. Made virtually no progress on the jigsaw.

Anything broken down in your house?