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…

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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.


Connie Vines

Judith Copek
Diane Bator
Fiona McGier

Dr. Bob Rich

Victoria Chatham
Helena Fairfax
Rhobin L Courtright

Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 138 and 139 – Nae Birling

Ready to go

I took this picture in Granton-on-Spey as we were awaiting the start of a Strathspey Ball. Alas the 2020 Ball is yet another victim of the Covid-19 outbreak and this year, there’ll be nae birling.

However, folk are trying their best to have socially distanced fun and celebrations. We’ve been to a couple of distanced 70ths and the celebration online of the Edinburgh International Festival.

In addition, we had a great morning yesterday with family – outdoors. The weather was very much onside. Is it going to be quite as much fun into the Autumn and Winter?

Courting the Countess continues to be free – go here

A Debt for Rosalie is now off the shelves, but still available from the DC Thomson shop:


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 124 and 125 – Now is the Moment

Not quite Missing in Action yesterday as the Round Robin was posted, however, time didn’t permit a diary entry. Fruit picking on Friday at the wonderful Craigie’s meant there was a load of fruit to be dealt with and that always means now. Topping and tailing, washing, open freezing, putting into bags or boxes. All done. I don’t make jam (only marmalade).

We entertained neighbours on Friday evening – Oh wow! That’s three folk so far – hardly flood-gates opening, but it did feel nice. DH finally got rid of the last of the debris following the building works. Rotten score in the quiz – where is one’s brain when needed.

It’s Sunday again and there’s another service available online from the team at Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church. For Rev Helen Alexander’s reflections, readings and music go here 

I’m electronically visiting on Rosemary Gemmell’s blog this morning talking about Pocket Novels in company with Linda Tyler. I hope you’l pop over and have a browse on Rosemary’s lovely blog.

First feedback about A Debt for Rosalie was positive. Sigh of relief.


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?


A Debt for Rosalie is available in large supermarkets, newsagents and from the DC Thomson online shop


Diane Bator
Skye Taylor
Connie Vines
Dr. Bob Rich
Helena Fairfax
Beverley Bateman

Fiona McGier
Rhobin L Courtright

Lockdown Diary – 2020 -122 – It’s a Shelfie

Having only had print books in library editions from the amazing Ulverscroft until now, it was a great thrill to see Rosalie gazing out of the shelf at my local big Sainsbury’s. She’s now on the desk as I type and I have to hope the speculation that the shops only put out one at a time to avoid cross-contamination, is correct!

Buy online

So, finished the editing and submitted yesterday morning – got the editor’s opinion yesterday afternoon! Head down again, but great progress.

Ventured into the re-furbished Mathieson’s butcher’s shop. Wearing my hat, mask and with the fleece zipped to the chin, I thought I could be ignito. “Morning, Mrs G,” said the retired butcher I haven’t seen since Christmas. So looks like clandestine activities are off the agenda. The extended range of goods is welcome and I’m looking forward to the chill cabinets being fully stocked. I did buy some honey which was so eye-wateringly expensive the young assistant apologised. C’est la vie: honey is.

Heard from another editor yesterday and that was also a step on the way. DH booked a second rubbish appointment and a fruit picking one. Gooseberries here we come.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 119 – Cover Reveal and Visiting

The tease is over and here’s the full cover for my first venture into writing a Pocket Novel for DC Thomson’s My Weekly label. After a lovely weekend at Drumkilbo House in Angus with friends last year, I had the urge to write about it. I often find place a strong motivator – not that I see spirits coming through walls, but atmosphere lingers on…

Anyway, relocated to Northumberland north of Newcastle and just outside the National Park, meet Maldington House and the lovely, if chastened, Rosalie.And the visiting? It’s electronic and it’s over on the blog of contemporary novelist, Anne Stormont. Anne is getting a new series of blogs underway and they’re about the Life in the Day of a Writer. Anne’s blog, Put it in Writing is here

And in the real world:  read Rev Helen’s reflections, lost at scrabble. DH lost at croquet. Ironing. Lots and lots of editing. Made excellent progress with Mohsin Hamid’s book – it’s very, very good.


Rosalie’s story will be in newsagents, Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s, WH Smith’s (all ‘some’) from 23rd July. Or can be ordered from DCThomson’s shop:

The sun is shining,