Diary of a Writer – April 1st – Not the A-Z challenge

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Words were added to the WIP.

Slept in as I seriously overdid the domestic Goddess bit yesterday. However, the first meal from Home Fresh was v. good. Can’t say excellent as I was following a technique for the first time and didn’t get it quite right. Looking forward to tonight’s chef’s choice – we are so lucky having no allergy issues, only preferences to deal with – crusted pork. In addition, marmalade pulp is in freezer.

Right, what happened yesterday? Well, one of my all-time personal favourite comedians died. He was 85 so a good span, but it’s always a wee jolt. Ronnie Corbett entertained us for a long and glittering career as a solo artist, double act and ensemble player. Being Scotland, which is a big village, I have connections. Ie his mum lived along the corridor from a former colleague, I met his brother at an evening event and I dined in the same restaurant as he did one evening with his wife, Anne, Sir Bruce and Lady Forsyth. Being Scots, I did not rush over with my table napkin for a signature. Not having a mobile phone that works, I didn’t have any temptation to ruin their meal by asking for a ‘selfie’. So nothing to speak of really. Enjoyed the tribute programme broadcast by the BBC last night, although it didn’t contain my own favourite which is of Ronnie walking backwards into a fountain.

A-Z Challenge I’ve decided not to sign up this year. Too many other things going on, but I am looking forward to visiting some of the wonderful postings people put out and will highlight a few in my Writer’s diary.

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A -Z Challenge Z is for Zed

ZED is a name I saw in the village of Lochinver in Assynt. It was on the sign-board of a thrift or second hand shop. It was the sort of shop where you can buy odd plates, granny’s glass jam dish, holiday reading and it was Zed’s.

I’ve used the name twice. Once in a short story and more recently in my wip, tentatively titled, Courting the Countess. In the new book, Zed is that indispensable man at the hero’s right-hand. He’s self-educated, upright, an orphan and darkly attractive to a certain kind of woman.

Zed is so attractive to this woman that she’s started writing a companion novella to tell his story and that of the countess’s maid.

So far from being the last word, Zed has become an ongoing one. What do readers think? The first parallel story I remember is from Paul Scott’s wonderful Raj Quartet when he tells the first novel over again in the voice of another character. I was spell-bound.

Mirror work

Mirror work

I have enjoyed my month of a-z blogging and have visited many great blogs on the way. If you’ve dropped in here to see what goes on, I hope you’ve found something to please and thank you for coming. Anne, whose name led us out…

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A – Z Challenge X is for Xerxes

XERXES left a lovely review on amazon.com of Bella’s Betrothal, so of course, I thought I’d mention his name here today. The review says “The novel is set in early nineteenth century Edinburgh, which the author describes with vivid realism.”

Reviews are precious and so much appreciated.

Xerxes is Persian in origin and means something like king, ruler, monarch. It was used for several of the Persian kings in and around the 5th century BC so it’s a bit tautological – if that’s a word.

Like the other names beginning with X, Xanthe, Xavier, Xander, the name Xerxes is pronounced with an initial sounding Z. One name that has an initial sounding X is Excaliber because in English pronunciation the E is needed to render a soft x hard.

Excaliber was the name given to the legendary Arthur’s sword – you know, the one he pulled from the stone. Hunting for a meaning for excaliber is interesting if imprecise. There’s general agreement that Caliburn is an option and that the word may mean simply sword. Although like yesterday’s Winston and Churchill, it has been taken over for advertising ends, there doesn’t seem to be more than the one example of its use – as Arthur’s legendary sword.

Today is the final day when you can access MuseItUp’s April sale for Bella’s Betrothal.

BELLA’S BETROTHAL at a special price till April 28th:

Amazon UK http://goo.gl/P3lmzk US http://goo.gl/7mh8FI  AU http://goo.gl/3yj8U1

Ca http://goo.gl/1j33Tk

Kobo http://goo.gl/k0b8SN

MuseItUp http://goo.gl/f0zFKa

/apple itunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id713274218

smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/355001

A – Z Challenge W is for Winston

Spitfire by Bernie Condon at FreeDigitalPhots.net

Spitfire by Bernie Condon at FreeDigitalPhots.net

 

Winston Churchill was Britain’s Prime Minister through the years of World War II. Not a young man when he achieved this honour, he’d seen active service in wars as early as the late nineteenth century when he served in South Africa.

Both Winston and Churchill have become iconic names synonymous with reliability, tenacity and many other good qualities of an enduring nature. Whether the aristocratic Dukes of Marlborough from whom Winston Churchill is directly descended would enjoy being used to advertise car insurance in the shape of a bulldog eating chips with Dawn French, begs more than one question.

And that is the point of this post. Big fleas have little fleas. A really good name, idea slogan, sketch or event attracts imitators and imitations. It’s in part flattery. It’s in part laziness. It’s in part cultural.

It’s always because the original tapped into the general consciousness and WAS GOOD.

Choosing character names is notoriously difficult. Hard consonants at the beginning, in the middle, towards the end? Sibilants? Too many ending in A? Too many starting with a particular letter? Not Scottish enough? Too Scottish? Not archaic enough? Too archaic?

Still, it’s a great job. Are you a writer? What’s your character naming bugbear?

 

 

BELLA’S BETROTHAL at a special price till April 28th:

Amazon UK http://goo.gl/P3lmzk US http://goo.gl/7mh8FI  AU http://goo.gl/3yj8U1

Ca http://goo.gl/1j33Tk

Kobo http://goo.gl/k0b8SN

MuseItUp http://goo.gl/f0zFKa

/apple itunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id713274218

smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/355001

A – Z challenge U is for Ulverscroft

ULVERSCROFT is a large print publishing house. Within the Umbrella title are FA Thorpe and Linford Romance.

Last year I submitted my debut novel Mariah’s Marriage to Ulverscroft for their consideration. I’d seen an article by Sarah Quirke on the Romantic Novelists’ Association blog, October scroll down, which offered advice on how to submit. Her acceptance arrived among the electronic Christmas cards and was a lovely surprise. Mariah’s Marriage will appear in the Linford Romance line next year, probably in February.

Large print was for children for such a long time. but as the market changed when people began to live longer and their eyesight suffered the effects of age, it came into its own for adults as well. My mum had damage to her eyes as a side-effect of diabetes and reached the stage when she couldn’t cope with ordinary print. Finding a box of discontinued large print library books at a sale was such a wonderful event for her. Now there are shelves and shelves of them in my local library: and all much read.

So, look out for Mariah’s Marriage from Ulverscroft early next year. In the meantime, it’s available as below:

Mariah’s Marriage is available from most online book shops. A continuation of one of its characters will be published shortly by MuseItUp, Daisy’s Dilemma.

Mariah’s Marriage amazon UK http://goo.gl/4LWt1H , US http://goo.gl/JjY907 Ca http://goo.gl/n8e7Jt AU http://goo.gl/koHXW9 kobo http://goo.gl/LaFygG

Bella’s Betrothal, set in Edinburgh 1826, is on special offer till April 28th. For 99c @ AU http://goo.gl/3yj8U1 .

The rest of the world:

Amazon UK http://goo.gl/P3lmzk US http://goo.gl/7mh8FI  AU http://goo.gl/3yj8U1

Ca http://goo.gl/1j33Tk

Kobo http://goo.gl/k0b8SN

MuseItUp http://goo.gl/f0zFKa

/apple itunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id713274218

smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/355001

A – Z challenge T is for Tobias

London Girl

TOBIAS is the hero of my debut novel, Mariah’s Marriage He’s everything a young lady of fashion in 1822 might dream of.

An earl. A former soldier. A one-time second son – so less stuffy than if bred to the job. He has that touch of arrogance a regency heroine delights to tame and he dresses well.

“Tilly, is Papa in the downstairs study?” she asked the maid, who was agog at the appearance of her escort. Mariah had forgotten how circumscribed their lives were. Of course Tilly would be interested in the earl’s tailored wool coat with his spotless waistcoat and carefully tied neck cloth. The men who normally visited here wore ill-fitting garments which were often stained with food. Not only that, but the earl had a clean-shaven face and the hair of his head was trimmed into a neat style that allowed his strong bones to be seen easily. Seen and admired, she thought.

In addition his name is from the Hebrew and means something like God’s goodness. What more could that young lady want?

Now, my first encounter with Tobias might well have been in the Toby of Toby jugs. Toby jugs are those much loved little , well, jugs, cast in the shape of an olde worlde gentleman with double-breasted coat and ruffles and a broad brimmed hat. People enjoy collecting them.

I’ve mentioned before how difficult it is to think of character names that stand out, but don’t betray the period. There were so few in circulation. Tobias holds lots of attraction for the romantic author, not least because it shortens admirably to Toby. That would be indicative of a growing warmth between the H & H and not of any pottery classes.

Mariah’s Marriage is available from most online book shops. A continuation of one of its characters will be published shortly by MuseItUp, Daisy’s Dilemma.

Mariah’s Marriage amazon UK http://goo.gl/4LWt1H , US http://goo.gl/JjY907 Ca http://goo.gl/n8e7Jt AU http://goo.gl/koHXW9 kobo http://goo.gl/LaFygG

 

Bella’s Betrothal, set in Edinburgh 1826, is on special offer till April 28th. For 99c @ AU http://goo.gl/3yj8U1 .

The rest of the world:

Amazon UK http://goo.gl/P3lmzk US http://goo.gl/7mh8FI  AU http://goo.gl/3yj8U1

Ca http://goo.gl/1j33Tk

Kobo http://goo.gl/k0b8SN

MuseItUp http://goo.gl/f0zFKa

/apple itunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id713274218

smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/355001

A-Z Challenge S is for Stenhouse

100_2721

STENHOUSE is a Scottish geographic surname and according once more to the erudite George F. Black, after the barony in Larbert, Stirlingshire. The first appearance of the name is around 1200 in written records when John de Stanhus acted as witness to a gift.

I once paid for two hours genealogical research of Stenhouse as part of a fund-raising effort. (Actually my husband bought it for me as a birthday gift.) One of the most interesting results was to discover how very male the family was. Right through the 19th century each spur of four, five or six children produced a greater number of males than females.

Another interesting, if useless, factoid was how many of those men married women called Janet. In one case where the man married three wives, two of them were called Janet. Saves embarrassment, I suppose.

Like most Scots families, Stenhouses turn up all over the world. Miners, bankers and Polar explorers float to the surface. i even found a hardback book by a Stenhouse from Newcastle, but the family were in ship-building and had moved from the West coast of Scotland half a generation earlier, when I was looking into arctic issues in the library.

Why use a pseudonym? Well, the other surname is Graham. And my goodness there are a lot of Anne Grahams out there. The publishing house that took one of my plays has one in Dorset, for example. So despite all those 19th century males, I’ve stuck with my maiden name. As yet, there’s been little confusion.

Do you use your own name? What prompted that choice?

Bella’s Betrothal, set in Edinburgh 1826, is on special offer till April 28th. For 99c @ AU http://goo.gl/3yj8U1 .

The rest of the world:

Amazon UK http://goo.gl/P3lmzk US http://goo.gl/7mh8FI  AU http://goo.gl/3yj8U1

Ca http://goo.gl/1j33Tk

Kobo http://goo.gl/k0b8SN

MuseItUp http://goo.gl/f0zFKa

/apple itunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id713274218

smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/355001

A – Z Challenge O is for Oscar and Olwen

Oscar Wilde is a man whose life creates strong feeling. His work, varied, vibrant, ahead of its time, was created in a short life and much of it in a very intense period early in his marriage to Constance Lloyd.

Oscar wrote Salomé that unrivaled work on how to bring a man down. Not John the Bapist, but his jailer, Herod is reduced to moral defeat by the will of a teenage girl. (oh, and her delightfully sexual body and wholly sexual dancing)

In 1989 when babysitting was the single thing most likely to bring me to a nervous breakdown, Gate Theatre Dublin brought Olwen Fouéré to the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh in the title role of Wilde’s Salome. It was directed by Steven Berkoff and Alan Stanford played Herod. The stunning set was designed by Robert Ballogh and the action played out to music by Roger Doyle.

I had a ticket for the first Edinburgh performance which was running in a rep style programme after something else (can’t remember – were you there?) and the set change wasn’t working. One hour late (and how many babysitting tokens?) the curtain went up. Within a minute, there was total absorption throughout the theatre.

It remains in my memory one of the best and most intense theatrical experiences of my life. Thanks to all of the above, and to the babysitter, Anne De Diesbach. Also, novelist Su Bristow, who suggested Oscar Wilde when I was panicking about who to choose.

Bella’s Betrothal is on special offer till April 28th. for 99p you can find out what happened when Bella did not stay off that horse:

Amazon UK http://goo.gl/P3lmzk US http://goo.gl/7mh8FI  AU http://goo.gl/3yj8U1

Ca http://goo.gl/1j33Tk

Kobo http://goo.gl/k0b8SN

MuseItUp http://goo.gl/f0zFKa

/apple itunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id713274218

smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/355001

A – Z Challenge N is for Naomi

 

Naomi is a name of some antiquity and the first person I knew called Naomi was already in her old age when I met her. Naomi Mitchison, née Haldane came from a set of distinguished forebears in academia and went on to carve a name for herself. The name means pleasant, presumably warm.

Naomi was a writer, poet, short story writer and novelist, a political activist and a gardener. She and her husband had bought a country house in Carradale in Kintyre before the second world war. They entertained here together and then, after his death, she stayed on.

I visited on many occasions and enjoyed her warm hospitality. There were also other interesting guests, walks on the shore and in the forest and bonfires designed, ineffectually, to keep down the scrub. I was showered by champagne at her 100th birthday party. I followed the procession a few months later when we scattered her ashes around the beloved garden.

A long life well-lived as you may read for yourself in her volumes of autobiography. Small Talk, Memories of an Edwardian Childhood and You May Well Ask, come to mind. Type Naomi Mitchison into google today and although she comes up first, her great-granddaughter of the same name is tripping at her heels. The scientific tradition is in safe hands and continues.

 

Bella’s Betrothal is on special offer till April 28th. for 99p you can find out what happened when Bella did not stay off that horse:

Amazon UK http://goo.gl/P3lmzk US http://goo.gl/7mh8FI  AU http://goo.gl/3yj8U1

Ca http://goo.gl/1j33Tk

Kobo http://goo.gl/k0b8SN

MuseItUp http://goo.gl/f0zFKa

/apple itunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id713274218

smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/355001

A – Z Challenge G is for George

 George is today’s pick. I could have gone with many others, like Gary, for example, but George it is.

Beloved of the Hanoverian dynasty in the UK, George is Greek in origin and means a man who works the soil or was a farmer. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have chosen George as the name of their son and that will no doubt have a spin-off effect in the population as a whole: like William did in his own generation.

The George of George Square

The Menzieses' House No 20

The Menzieses’ House No 20

 

where much of the action of my Bella’s Betrothal takes place was not, however, George iii, but George the brother of architect James Brown who built it. At the turn of the nineteenth century George Square was an immensely posh place to live and some of the wonderful buildings remain, having escaped development.

It’s quite common for streets to be called after the owner of the land or its developer. Another G I have used in my books is Grosvenor. Tobias Longreach has a town-house in London’s Grosvenor Square and I’m currently back there everyday at present as I deal with the edits for Daisy’s Dilemma. Together with Lincoln’s Inn fields, Grosvenor Square is the largest residential square in London. It has been rebuilt many times, but remains a sought after address.

Do you live in a street called after its builder? Do wish you did because your local council opted for the cause celebré of the moment?

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