March round robin – what draws you into a story?

I haven’t written a post this month because I should have been away from base on an exciting holiday. Like so many other people, I’m not. Flights cancelled and a curious sort of half-life carrying on.

Not writing the post doesn’t mean I have no views on the issue. I have. As a short story judge for many years, people’s openings would drive me to distraction. I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHY IT ‘HAD BEEN A BAD DAY’.  As this statement was usually followed by a list of enticing snapshots (not), like the toothpaste sprayed all over his designer suit it slowed everything down and prevented the reader getting an immediate understanding of what this story is about.

My aspiration is to achieve as good an opening as Hugh Scott did in his Whitbread prize winning, Why Weeps the Brogan? I was deeply impressed by his reading of it and that feeling of dramatic excitement comes to mind when I try to get my openings right.

Courting the Countess

Melissa stood as still as her injuries allowed. Soapy water drained down her skin into the tin bath, making her shiver in the night air. A tiny breeze riffled through the steam and made her wonder if the bedroom door had opened?

“Allow me, ma’am. Your maid is unable to come to your assistance.”

The opening of my Scottish regency poses several questions a reader may find intriguing, if not in this book exciting and dramatic. How was Melissa injured? Whose is the voice? Why is her maid unable to come?

Others in the group have posted and you can find their rather more crafted thoughts here:

Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1RR
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com

RNA – 60th Anniversary – Scottish Chapter

Romantic Novelists’ Association, Scottish Chapter

Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th February, the Scottish Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association is hosting an event on Facebook to mark our contribution to the year long celebrations of this wonderful organisation.

The event is here

I warmly invite you to pop over and read the book extracts and a few wee personal details of their authors. I think you’ll find many of us began our publishing careers after submitting work through the unique New Writers’ Scheme of the RNA.

My Mariah’s Marriage was the fifth book I wrote in that scheme. Courting the Countess is my most recent e-published novel and there’s also Daisy’s Dilemma..

Mariah’s Marriage, Daisy’s Dilemma and Courting the Countess are also available in Ulverscroft, Linford Romance Library, editions.

Anne

Diary of a Writer – February Writing Prompt – Romance Reading Month

Throughout February as part of the special events planned to mark its 60th Anniversary year, the Romantic Novelists’ Association is celebrating the joy of reading romance.

 Romance Reading Month – The RNA is launching its first Romance Reading Month during February. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Fall in love with a love story:

Love Your Library week (1 – 7 Feb)

Make a date with a book on Valentine’s Day.

As a grand finale of Romance Reading Month Leap Into A Love Story Day on the 29th. Why not get together with other romance lovers and talk about books on the 29th?

The picture above was taken when I was a member of the RNA committee. I’d graduated from their New Writers’ Scheme to being a published writer and was ‘paying back’ a little for all that help. The RNA  is a truly supportive organisation and has been for 60 years.

Next Saturday and Sunday, the Scottish chapter of the RNA will be hosting an online Facebook event featuring some of the great members who live up here and allowing you, our wonderful readers, the chance to read an extract from some of our work. The link is here.

How is this a writing prompt? Well, it’s some time since I wrote a full length romance and seeing the picture above reminds me of the thrill of having work out there. Sleeves rolled up and fingers poised above the keyboard…

MARIAH’S MARRIAGE, DAISY’S DILEMMA and COURTING THE COUNTESS are all available in the library.

COURTING THE COUNTESS can also be bought here for your kindle.

Kelly Lacey is hosting a month long celebration of the RNA on her blog, Love Books Group. Kelly will feature a different romance author on all 29 days of February and kicks off with former RNA Chair, Christina Courtney. You can find Kelly’s blog here .

It’s going to be an exciting year. I’ll keep you updated.

Anne

Diary of a Writer – November prompt – Pocket Novels

Writing is really about re-writing. Perseverance will pay off as the headings from three other authors show. I thought I’d include Melissa’s story to remind self I have done it before – written and then re-written a novel. So my prompt this month is a very personal one.

The very best of good wishes to all those setting off this month on the annual NaNoWriMo challenge https://www.nanowrimo.org/

I have done it once and made the target with 50,000 words of Bella’s Betrothal. So, I know of what I speak. It ain’t easy.

Courting the Countess

 

Anne

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

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