Diary of a Writer – Writing Prompt January – the Door to the Year

The Door of the Year

The Door of the Year

The Door to the Year is Georgian and I found it while walking around Dublin’s beautiful Georgian streets. As many readers know, I focus my own Regency and early nineteenth century fiction in Edinburgh and London. On the other hand who wouldn’t wonder what’s behind this lovely door and its equally tempting neighbour?

Early January is the time for handing in entries to the Scottish Association of Writers annual conference competitions. I have at least a short story – can’t give any clues what that’s about – and you may be going along and have entries, too. Headline speaker is Helen Lederer and you’ll find the Conference Schedule by typing September into the search box. Day delegates are welcome. The Westerwood Hotel and Sports complex is welcoming, comfortable and easily accessible from the train to Croy or by car.

Occasionally competitions excite my creative imagination, but more and more, they’ve become a distraction from the main work. Of course, as with the People’s Friend serial writing competition, sometimes the distraction pays off. Shortlisted and published, together with two subsequent short story sales, it was a profitable distraction.

So, what is The Door to the Year opening up for your writing.? Will you share a few hopes with us?

Diary of a Writer – Storing the Research Materials

Book Sale books

Book Sale books

 

I never allow visitors into my study because I know exactly where everything is. Apparently, I have a visual memory (tested by a training programme at work) and if something is moved – it’s lost. Also it’s a tip (ie not suitable for visiting). Elsewhere in the house my husband shelves books by type (travel, etc) and fiction by alphabet. So in the rest of the house, other people have a fighting chance of locating a Dickens novel should they want one.

My study also contains a lot of research material and much of that was bought at the Christian Aid book sale pictured above. As I wrote a play about JM Barrie, I was able to source almost all his works and several biographies there. As I now write Scottish Regency novels (look out for the next coming soon-ish), I’ve bought many Scottish source books. I have made an attempt to shelve them by General Scottish and Edinburgh. Even so, they cover two bookcases and two shelving units with a few on the floor, the desk or behind the printer.

Is this the most efficient way to recover that tiny fact holding up chapter ten? Maybe not, but it works for me because I do in fact visualise. Firstly I see the fact and whether it’s on the right hand or left hand page. Then I see whether the book in question was hand sized, A5 or coffee table. Then I see its colour. Oops! I have a very shaky colour memory and have to hope I’ve found the volume before that becomes an issue.

There’s also that muscle memory thing – you know where you can go on doing things long after you’ve essentially stopped that activity. We used to have a large bookcase outside our bedroom. It’s been gone over 20 years. I still find myself studying the wallpaper there wondering where a copy of such and such has gone.

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So, how do you store your paper books?

My kindle has been teasing me recently. I’ve been building up an electronic collection of both Georgette Heyer and Ann Cleeves. Recently I was scrolling through and discovered how separated they become because of that operational thing whereby your last read book rises to the top of the ‘library’. I think, with a little time, I could group the already read ones. But, and it’s a big but, how does one keep that up-to date? Answers please. Then I might have the defence that although the study is a muddle, the kindle is a model of perfection.

Anne on Amazon Author Page

Daisy’s Dilemma Kobo

Diary of a Writer

DSC00433A Writer’s Diary is particularly given to feast and famine, I find. Look at July…

New Novel is at that nerve-shredding stage before consigning it to the electronic ether. Have I spelled the heroine’s name the same way every time? What about her hair colour? Find and Replace is one of my favourite buttons in word. Does everyone suffer from this desire to do just one more check? How many redundant words does the ms contain? That, just, then…

Next Novel is written, but lacks sparkle. Where to buy fairy dust? Ah, it’s more like blood sweat and tears. I see.

Short Story in Scots dialect Write another while first remains under consideration.

Short Article for Friends of the Botanics newsletter. No problem, I said when ambushed at breakfast recently. Were the bacon rolls in the  John Hope Gateway café that good? Probably. Have I mentioned how I think I may have lived in

Inverleith House in a previous life? No? (Maybe as the skivvy. Ah Well) It is one of my favourite houses in the world.

RNA committee responsibilities Getting there. There will be party tickets – just bear with me.

Real Life – And that is? Ah, yes. The DH likes to eat. Some shopping and preparing in advance required.

Conference So looking forward to Lancaster and meeting up with folk old and new. The RNA is truly one of the friendliest organtsations I’ve ever been in. Love it to bits.

Writers’ Club Edinburgh writers’ club is my alma mater where fiction writing is concerned and we’re really busy plotting. Watch this space (for when the publicity lady says Go, go, go!)

Then along comes August…  Society of Authors in Scotland AGM and lunch, Book Festival and other Festivals.

Did Jane Austen suffer feasts and famines? She was often on the move and maybe that inhibited writing.

Diary of a Writer – Travel, Food and Story Openings

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By Margaret McNeil, Crieff Hydro, SAW

So, a couple of weeks ago, before I had a great trip to Lincoln where they have a wonderful abbey and also The Old Bakery, I promised to add a wee resume of my Q&A at Edinburgh Writers’ Club. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Entering Lincoln Abbey for the first time is one of those heart-stopping moments. How did they do it? No computers, powered tools, digital images, but there it sits in all its beauty. It is a fine Gothic building and at one time the tallest in Europe. The Old Bakery is a wonderful restaurant and a great example of re-using what’s there. The building was a bakery and shop when its owner died leaving it to his daughter. She shut the ground floor and moved upstairs where she lived for forty years. Enter chef, Ivano de Serio, and his wife, Tracy. They’ve carefully carved out a restaurant on the ground floor and fitted out three comfortable bedrooms above. A delicious experience.

Back to that Q&A

How To Lose Competitions

My own pet hate as a judge is reading The day had started badly or It had been one of those days. Such an opening is invariably followed by a detailed explanation of what went wrong. You can think of the sort of thing. Bert set the alarm for 8.15 when he meant to set 7.15; the dog escaped when he opened the door; the milk was off and the toaster exploded.

All of this ‘back-story’ is perfectly acceptable character creation, BUT the reader doesn’t need to read it. They need to absorb it by your showing of it in the action of the story you’re telling.

As the writer think – how does your man react to losing the dog? How does his body react to a mouthful of sour milk? How is he coping NOW?

Another issue raised by this sort of beginning is word count. If you have 1500 words, why are you wasting them by describing events outside your story?

There was other discussion and folk did have questions. They may come up in later posts.

Weather: I hope you’ll scroll down and read the post about the use of weather in our fiction. It was great fun to write and I loved the others in the Round Robin. However, apart from shameful self-publication, may I just say I need the light on to see the keyboard this morning as yet another sleet shower passes by…

So, I’m no agony aunt, but what puzzles you most about losing writing competitions? I don’t write poetry, folks. And like every other judge, one has to say that a different eye might have made a different choice.

Diary of a Writer – New Life – New Week

Magnolia, home

Magnolia, home

Watching the magnolia buds fill and finally burst, from my seat at the breakfast table is one of the major joys of spring. They are on the cusp and were it not for the temperature dip overnight the tree would be looking as it did when this picture was taken last year.

I could become all precious and tell you about how ideas are like that, too. You’re on target with the word count when a cold wind blows through the brain. Where does it come from? Who knows?

Started reading Hubble Bubble last night. It’s by the incomparable Jane Lovering. Had to stop as I was laughing so much I was going to wake those most in need of rest. Will find a way!

Also succumbed to the dramatization of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals, STV (if that’s what it’s still called). Keeley Hawes is a delight to watch and the others weren’t bad either.

I did promise you an insight to my Blog wanderings among the A-Zers. How about wolves? My Edinburgh friend an fellow writer, Shelli Rosewarne, writer of paranormal and fantasy romance is here She’s featuring wonderful pictures of these fantastic animals.

No words were added to the wip. See cold breezes, above.