Diary of a Writer – December Prompt

Stella's Christmas Wish: The Perfect Christmas Treat by [Kate Blackadder]

Six days before Christmas, Stella must rush home to Scotland when her grandmother is taken to hospital. As she reconnects with her past, old flames are rekindled, and as Christmas fast approaches, Stella begins to wonder if her most heartfelt wish can come true?

I was reading Anne Stormont’s Put It in Writing post this morning and was impressed by her admission that, although a usually ‘later’ Christmas celebrant, she was planning on putting up her tree early and had been reading Christmas novels.

We know – the year is not normal. However, it did make me wonder why Christmas themed stories are enduringly popular and why people can and do read them at anytime of the year.

I wonder whether the Christmas bubble is one more ring of protection from the outside world? Is it a place to escape to where everything is, if not perfect, at least populated by characters who are trying to be nice, and good, or even just civil to one another?

Of course, books and stories about and for Christmas are written far in advance to make publishing deadlines. Once out there, however, they’re available for us to dip back into. Like Capital Writer, Kate Blackadder’s moving story about Stella.

Capital Writers produced a coffee-break collection of Christmas themed stories:

Capital Christmas Stories is a collection of festive Christmas Tales by the little writing group I’m a member of in Edinburgh. It’s available here

There’s also our spooky collection of which three are ghost stories and that’s a genre always popular at Christmas, too.

That’s all for now – Woops!

Here’s a Christmas one I wrote earlier.

CHRISTMAS AT MALDINGTON

Genni escapes for some much needed recovery after a death on her television show. She meets Paddy and directs a pantomime. Love of live theatre rekindled, will she return to the brighter lights of London?

Publication is 10th December and as always available from newsagents, supermarkets and online or by phone from the DC Thomson shop.

That is it for now,

Anne

 

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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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,

Anne

 

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.

Anne

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?

Anne

Lockdown – 2020 – 21 – It really has been 3 weeks

Carrots and Sticks

Difficult to see where governments are going to find carrots in the short term as the pandemic continues to bring us all to our knees.

The novelty of not doing may well be wearing off for many and in households where the domestic entertainment available was scant to start with, patience may be a little thin.

However, the Easter weekend, for those of us connected by social media, brought some entertaining decorated eggs, thought-provoking religious services, an address from Her Majesty and beautiful music. The children next door enjoyed an Easter egg hunt in their back garden. DH and I enjoyed a glass of wine with their parents across the boundary walls.

My walk took in a landmark white cherry tree in full bloom. I won the scrabble. DH is enjoying getting to cycle routes while roads are less busy.

Another blog you might enjoy is Put It in Writing which today is featuring a list of books and authors the host, Anne Stormont, recommends. You can find it here

Anne

Diary of a Writer – July Prompt

Diary of a Writer and already the year has reached July. The Scottish schools are now on holiday and the suburban area I live in will be quiet-ish for the next two weeks as many folk just pack up and go immediately for their break.

I say quiet-ish as someone is digging up the road. Has its benefits of course because traffic is scared off by four-way controls.

What’s happening in this writer’s household and brain to act as a prompt? So, regular visitors will have seen this picture already.

He left us safely, but it is still raining and last night there was thunder and lightening, too. Joys of a heatwave.

I feel the young roe deer has to be this month’s prompt although there are loads of competing images in the recent press.

Her Majesty reviewing the Guard as she attends the Ceremony of the Keys at the start of Royal Week in Scotland. Themes abound from that, not least the loyalty of a life lived for duty, but also what is the proud mum or young wife/husband in the invited audience feeling as their soldier parades for the first or last time? That handshake between two world leaders? Have we had to put on a polite face against our personal feelings? The heatwave itself – they don’t usually last too long in Scotland so difficult to know when to submit a story.

JULY FIRST

In other writing areas, I’ve been approached to write a post for my friend Anne Stormont‘s online book festival. It begins today and will run through July and August and my contribution is scheduled for August 21st. Anne’s idea is to have articles and interviews online to reach folk who might find it hard for many reasons to get to such festivals in person. Her opening post is here. First up is the wonderfully dark Scottish crime writer Helen Forbes.

Why not sign up to Anne’s blog so you don’t miss out on any of the fabulous participants she’s lined up?

NEW DEPARTURE – ARTICLE WRITING

The People’s Friend approached me to write an article about the pioneering women known as The Edinburgh Seven. It appears in the next weekly edition, dated 6th July and will be in the shops on Wednesday. I’ve got my subscription copy. For those of you who don’t know, The Edinburgh Seven were the first women to matriculate in any British university. Was it straightforward? Read the article…

Oh, and July is the month of the Romantic Novelists’ Association‘s conference. I’m off to Lancaster again and am deeply into difficult decisions like which dresses to take for the gala dinner, what colour should my nails be and how do you pack a plastic wine-glass with any hope of it arriving intact? 1-2-1s Ah, yes, the business side. Okay, I’m saying nothing, but will hope to have news.

How is your own writer’s diary shaping up?

Anne

 

Round Robin – September – Reading

So, this month we’re considering how one encourages reading in our children – or, indeed – in anyone.

Carrots and Sticks

There are carrots and there are sticks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve said in other places that I cannot remember a time when I couldn’t read. I know my parents both read and when my mum was blighted by cataract, her very first project after the operation to remove the first one, was a temporary library ticket round the corner here: she stayed with us while she needed drops in her eye. Her mother lived with her in her last three years and was re-reading the Victorian classics in the weeks before she began to fade away.

So, in my own case, example and opportunity were there from the beginning.

Carrots

Like my mum. I read bedtime stories to my children and was gratified when the oldest child used to sit out of sight on the stairs to listen in (too cool to join in by then) and by the middle one telling me in the morning that the house floated away. “I finished the book after you stopped reading, Mum.”

 

 

A – was it a stick was it a carrot ploy? – was that if they wanted to join us in the posh sitting-room at coffee after meals, then they had to bring and read their book.

Sticks

All my children read and frequently ask for books or give books at present times.

 

 

 

 

 

Other groups?

I’m in a book group. I read books I wouldn’t have chosen for myself which is a Good Thing. I take books to parties or supper invitations; and as a weekend guest. I think in the pile of chocolates and bottles of wine, they stand out. I NEVER ask if people read them, however. I always include a book in Christmas Goodie bags. I offer my read and unlikely to be re-read paperbacks to specific places. Occasionally I’ll do a charity coffee morning and ask folk to ‘bring a book, buy a book’ – an idea that has been used again by guests for their own charities.

Christian Aid Scottish Book Sale October

 

I help every year with Edinburgh’s massive Christian Aid book sale. This year, 2018, over one hundred thousand pounds has been raised to help displaced people. The sale offers a huge selection of books at great prices to avid readers and reluctant readers alike. Its next event is the companion Scottish Books; Art; jewellery and coffee sale. Thursday 25th – Saturday 27th October in St Andrew’s and St George’s 13 George Street, Edinburgh.

There you have it. The message in my own case is basically total immersion. Did anyone else walk a three year-old to school who asked whether thiamine was a good thing? He’d seen the word on the corn flakes’ packet!

Courting the Countess is an Edinburgh regency using the beauty and the beast tale in an inversion. Romance, murder and regency mayhem to lift you out of your mundane.

If you prefer contemporary, how about Anne Stormont’s new book, Settlement?

To discover what my fellow robins think, go here:

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

Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1ly

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

Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/

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

Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Visitor’s Post Winter Wonder – a story for the Darker Days

Displacement Cover MEDIUM WEBANNE STORMONT provides today’s extract of Winter Wonder, continuing the Scottish Regency story set in Edinburgh. When I invited a few folk to carry the story on, I was a little nervous, but I think you’ll agree, Anne’s continuation is flawless.

Winter Wonder, continues

Was it the smell of her own fear? Was that it? Mary could smell it now. That and the smell of rotting leaves. Panic arose within her. She had to get out. Out of the confines of the house. Away from the stares of her mother-in-law and the servants.

She pushed back her chair and ignoring the startled look on Lady Grizel’s face, she excused herself.  

A little while later, Mary was seated on a bench in the Gardens. She tried to ignore Agnes hovering around her. She breathed in a much more pleasant scent than the one that had driven her from the house. It was the cold, fresh air. She closed her eyes and tipped her face toward the weak December sun.

And then she felt it again. Lennox’s hand on her shoulder. His lips brushed the side of her face and he whispered, “It will get better, my love.”

DISPLACEMENT is a novel, by Anne Stormont.

From the Scottish Hebrides to the Middle-East, Displacement is a soul-searching journey from grief to reclamation of self, and a love-story where romance and realism meet head-on.

Anne blogs at putitinwrting, here: http://putitinwriting.me