Diary of a Writer – those between the BIG ideas days

So, having started the most recent novel idea something like four times, I may just have to concede it’s flawed and work on another. Not everything in one’s brain is going to win a trophy.

In the meantime, I’m clearing stacks of paper, research material and ephemera in quantities, rather large quantities, from the study. My tidy-minded husband may feel moved to award a trophy for these efforts. On the other hand, he may just appear with a further roll of bin bags.

In the, other meantime, I’m writing short stories. Wonderfully satisfying to craft a complete something.

Courting the Countess has possibly come to a library near you. If not, it’s available on amazon here.

Having bought it some time ago, I’m just starting to read Helen Forbes’ second Joe Galbraith novel, Madness Lies.

Why have I waited so long? (Research for City of Discoveries, ed.)

Okay, folks. Hope your own ideas are flourishing and not languishing.

ANNE

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Diary of a Writer – A Second Life – Courting the Countess

Atmospheric Cover

Ta Ra! Delighted to reveal Linford Romance Library’s atmospheric cover for their large print edition of Courting the Countess, published today. Complete and unabriged, it makes a comfortable handful – they sent me some some author’s copies.

You can get it from your library and discover how Melissa fares in Regency Edinburgh.

 

 

 

 

From the cover:

When Melissa Neville, widowed Countess of Pateley, suffers life-threatening injuries in a fire, no one expects her to survive long. However, despite her disfigurement, would-be suitors have been a constant intrusion, all of them hoping to get their hands on her fortune before she expires. Then one night, in the privacy of her bath, she is abducted without explanation by Colonel Harry Gunn and his steward Zed, who specialise in medicine and seem to want to help her. What is their real motive – and can Melissa hope to love again?

It is of course still available from Endeavour media for your kindle here.

The range of books available in large print is testimony to the ageing population and the market responding to their needs. My late mum loved to read and enjoyed many books across a wide spectrum of interests. We were always appreciative of the library editions.

I’m really busy at the moment reading the entries for the Scottish Association of Writers’ women’s short story competition. I won the competition last year – I may just have mentioned that in passing previously – and it’s such a privilege to have been handed this task.

If I had a pic of me in a green eye-shade, I’d post it. I haven’t. How about this one created by my friend, Miranda?

Anne

Round Robin – Tension in a work

Tension or conflict are the major requirements after engaging characters: so we need a HOOK. An opening hook, followed by a chapter ending hook, followed by another…

Sometimes it helps build tension to allow the reader an insight which the heroine isn’t aware of. Why was a character missing-in-action for 5 years? Was it, as he’s told the heroine, because he was doing good works in the Third World, or was it because he was languishing at Her Majesty’s Pleasure?

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is an excellent example of how the heroine can allow herself to be manipulated by a conman. Conmen need to be personable otherwise they’d starve. Austen, however, does ramp up the tension by showing our heroine having to come to another conclusion. The housekeeper believes Mr Darcy is the best of employers. Lydia lets slip he was around in London when her marriage was arranged. Slowly, Lizzie has to admit to having been wrong and take the reader with her.

Foreshadowing – might be described as a technical term, but it’s quite simply the old ABC rule. If the neighbour’s dog is going to catch the burglar in the final paragraph, then it needs to have been seen earlier in the story, and probably twice. Sometimes as a writer, I write something and on re-reading yesterday’s work, think – What is that? Why is that? But, I leave it in. Very often, so often it’s scary, the answer seeps out of the text a hundred pages on. This subliminal clue is one of the things that builds the tension for the reader and keeps them involved with your characters.

Interesting and helpful sub-plots also keep the reader onboard. Does your sub-plot bolster the main theme without over-taking it? Is it peopled by sound, enjoyable characters? Will the reader hate the villains and love the heroines in the sub-plot as much as in the main one?

Forces of nature – I’m not talking here about those insufferable celebs one would truly hate to spend a lift journey with, never mind a long week-end. But is there a storm coming? Will the sea claim the house on the hill? Are the fleas going to jump from the rats and land on the heroine giving her bubonic plague? Does the hero have appendicitis and not a gyppy tummy?

These are a few of the ploys I like. What do you like to read?

To discover what my fellow robins think, go here:

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

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

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

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

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

Beverley Bateman

Judith Kopek

Diane Bator



 

 

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

Diary of a Writer – August Writing Prompt

 

On the Boil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doesn’t this photograph of marmalade on the boil bring to mind that stage in writing when you simply cannot get the words down quickly enough? That moment when ideas seethe and trip over one another in their haste to attract your attention and slide through your fingers onto the page?

Whether it’s a tiny haiku or your magnum opus, there is that moment when the brain behaves like a computer about to crash. You know who the murderer/lover/mother/villain/hero/heroine is now and YOU MUST TELL EVERYONE ELSE!

Then – the peace after you’ve got there –

A Quality Product

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your own analogy?

Another quality product is Courting the Countess Melissa has lost her beloved husband to an early death and herself been scarred by a summer fire. Can the strikingly handsome Harry Gunn save her from despair?

 

 

 

Diary of a Writer – July Prompt

 

A Tinted Lens

Writing Scottish Regency romance – or any kind of Regency romance – means that there’s going to be an alpha male – that’s how it was, folks. So, what does this chap inspire in you? He’s alone. He’s clearly magnificent and although his feathers are down at the moment the photograph was taken, you can visualise them in full glory when he struts his stuff for the harem.

Then we have the fellow below. He’s not so lean, but he’s clearly a fine specimen. He’s also alone. Do the fine feathers inspire?

 

 

 

 

 

Courting the Countess

Bella’s Betrothal

 

Down My Way

Down My Way it’s cold. Well, it’s winter in Scotland so what else might one expect?

I’ve just been reflecting that a writer’s diary is a really odd sort of thing.

Saturday 10th February – All day at the Royal Over-Seas League for the Romantic Novelists’ Association.  A Committee meeting in the morning was followed by an hour of training in Diversity and Inclusion. No point in just thinking your organisation welcomes everyone, Find out. The session was conducted by the wonderfully upbeat and smiley Marsha Ramroop of BBC Radio Leicester.

Then onto the afternoon when there was a general meeting in the Hall of India and Pakistan. Must say selling tickets in advance is helping raise awareness of the great talks our members come up with. Sophia Bennet whose Love Song won last year’s Goldsboro Books romantic novel of the year prize, entertained us and was followed by Matt Bates, bookseller, who told us what’s selling. Great to meet up with members from as far afield as Norway, via Wales, and the south of England. A wee glass may have been drunk in a local pub later.

Monday 12th February = Lots of train time today, but also a visit to the Charles I exhibition at the Royal Academy. What a lot of dogs. What a lot of wonderful portraits by a huge selection of first class painters of the time. Not to mention the bits of sculpture dotted around the halls. Not only did Charles like to be painted, he was also a noted collector and patron with a good eye.

On to soup and sandwich lunch with friends. He’s a retired Rector and, now he has time and a kindle, enquired which of my books he ought to try. I said Bella’s Betrothal It’s naughty to have favourites.

All weekend, some of you may have read about it in Bookbrunch, the wires were active about my UK publisher, Endeavour. The good news is that Courting the Countess will remain available for now.

Also all weekend and since – Lots and lots of enquiries about the upcoming RNA annual Awards’ Night in The Gladstone Library, One Whitehall Place. Would the area have been familiar to the early Stuarts?

Also e-mails announcing a sale to People’s Friend of a story I wrote from one of their Ed’s story prompts. Hadn’t done that before but this one caught my imagination.

Also saw on a mini-bank-statement that the PLR is in the bank. This year, it might buy a bottle of champagne. (Last year, I bought coffee and cream cakes for me and my pal)

Also the newly fledged Capital Writers helped one of our number, Kate Blackadder launch her most recent collection of love stories – yes, on Valentine’s Day –  with a series of posts across on Capital Writers website. Mine, Roses are Red is here.

The collection is called The Palace of Complete Happiness and can be purchased here.

Now back in Auld Reekie and raring to go – after the next coffee…

Diary of a Writer – March Writing Prompt

dsc01314This picture was taken just over a month ago in Trinidad, Cuba. The horse or pony was much in evidence as a means of personal transport and as a draught animal.

Travelling between Havana and Trinidad by bus, we saw many pony and cart combos not only in the fields, but on the highway. Occasionally, they were driving against the traffic! There wasn’t a lot of traffic, but some of it travelled fast.

What does this picture ask of you? I see the light and shade. I see the interesting local houses. I see an animal taking its rest when it can.

And I wonder. Who left it there? Will it be the same man (didn’t see any female riders, folks) who comes back to it? What if a different man rode off?

Currently re-thinking the W-I-P, but still in Regency Edinburgh although on the High Street for this one. Courting the Countess still at 99p.

Also deeply involved in the Romantic Novelists Association’s Awards Night. If you’re there, I’ll be on the front desk. Come and say Hello, why don’t you? Ponies should be tethered outside.

 

Round Robin – Prologue and Epilogue

PROLOGUE AND EPILOGUE The temptation to misquote from something half remembered is too strong to overcome. In my beginning is my end…

I don’t use either prologues or epilogues in the four novels I’ve published so far. It is fair to say that Daisy’s Dilemma carries on the story of Lady Daisy and by doing so tells any interested reader what happened after the first book, Mariah’s Marriage, ended.

But that is novel length and hardly a short rounding off of anyone’s story.

So – why not?

Prologues almost, but not quite, fall into the same category as Introductions for me. I don’t read them before I read the book and sometimes not even then. Is this impatience to be getting on with the story? Is it arrogance? Why do I need to have someone’s view of a subject before forming my own?

Prologues of course are little tasters. They plant a hook deep in the reader’s brain about what happened to, or in the life of, one of the characters who are about to unfold on the book’s stage. I prefer to have all of that in my story. Maybe it’s just a question of stylistic preference.

Epilogues round off or flesh out the ending the reader has been presented with. Just in case one was unsure doubt is removed. Yes, there was a happy ending and here is how it evolved. No, it was a bittersweet ending and here is how it evolved. Oh dear, the baddie was rescued by a passer-by and is recovering in hospital to plague the hero and/or heroine in another book.

Personally, although I do read epilogues, I like my own imagination to have room to weave an ongoing fantasy.

Our full topic asked if you could have one without the other. I don’t see why not, but perhaps my fellow bloggers have reasons. Catch their opinions below.

Anne Stenhouse Author

Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Dr. Bob Rich http://wp.me/p3Xihq-QS
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Anne Stenhouse  https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

November Writing Prompt

dsc00870This month’s writing prompt:

as the world awaits the result of some major elections

as we prepare for a ‘hard’ winter in the West

as the vibrant colours of summer give way to the softness of autumn and the starkness of winter

What does this flower mean to you? The picture was taken in Italy.

COURTING THE COUNTESS buy from amazon here