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

 

Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 95 – Garden Visits

Elegant as this looks, the comfy one from a high street store I was offered at my sis-in-law’s yesterday afternoon was much preferable. So good to see family members after all these weeks even if in the garden and restricting the visit so the loo didn’t become an issue.

Lovely chat with others on what’s app and was able to watch octopus drawing while it was in progress. Lost at scrabble because ‘zoner’ was disallowed. Would you think a person who draws up zones might be a zoner? Apparently they’re called planners!

Hurrumph!

Writing friend, and fellow Capital Writer, Kate Blackadder has published an online copy of her recent farming serial in the People’s Friend. Launching today, you can find

JINTY’S FARM, a tale of modern farming, gin and wartime romance, here

In other exciting news – for those of us with 92 sourced and cooked dinners in a row behind us – and anyone who enjoys Good Food – Appetite Events have tweeted about DELIVERIES Follow this breaking story here

What’s new where you are?

Anne

Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 87 – Zooming

Given that I’m no sailor, this photo has been making a disproportionate number of appearances in the Diary. It’s relevant this morning because DH and I were at another virtual cockpit last night: and what an experience that was.

Among DH’s sailing pals there are some who take it SERIOUSLY and last night two of them showed us a small selection of slides from their round the world trip. Taking fifteen months and going to places that can only be reached by boat, it looked like a life-changing and life-enhancing experience.

Isn’t it great the way people have made so much effort to socialise virtually and to entertain each other?

Good soup from the freezer’s supply of stock + carrots and a tin of coconut milk. WIP now at the  ‘How can I leave these characters?’ point. Jigsaw now at the  ‘Why have I got 21 pieces all the same colour?’ point. Birthday arrangements in hand and leaving you to write card etc.

Capital Writer, Kate Blackadder, has published her most recent serial from the People’s Friend, Jinty’s Farm. An everyday story of farming and gin-making on amazon for kindle. You can pre-order here

Anne

Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 57 – Stamina Needed

When in paradise, Saladero Eco Lodge, Costa Rico, do not walk under the coconut palms. Instead follow this trail to your hut or tent created by planting the tops of pineapples as kerbstones. Waste not, want not.

Hoilidays may come again and in the meantime if you’re a facebook person, Saladero have been posting links to the wildlife cameras on the estate. This morning’s one shows a huge variety of ground dwelling fauna going about their business in early 2020.  Watching it, I could almost think I was listening to the howler monkeys calling…

We all want the exit strategy to mark an end game but the nature of mutating viruses makes that unlikely. Needing to refresh a little yesterday, I chose a slightly different walk in the evening. The street had smaller front gardens, often with a car parked in them, and different flora to the big trees and shrubs growing in the mansionhouse gardens. Some of it very pretty. One rather untended front garden had the loveliest yellow columbine growing a bit like a weed. Dare I go back and ask for some seed later in the year?

Zoom-ed into the badminton ladies. Forgot it was Victoria Day and had an abortive trip to the butcher’s! Duh! Began to get into Friday’s Child, the current GH, which had been annoying me a little.

If you’re in need of some Scottish based contemporary fiction, try Capital Writer, Kate Blackadder’s Family Stories box set. Kate has written several serials for People’s Friend and has collected three of them in this set at £3.99 for your kindle.

Anne

 

Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 34 – Holidays

A year ago I was on holiday on The Silk Roads where this picture was taken. Earlier this week, a friend asked where she could read anything I’d written about that trip. I haven’t written anything much. There is a great deal of erudite, academic writing about the silk roads and I have no expertise to add to that. However, I did enjoy exposure to the different cultures of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Holidays may come again. This being Sunday and for some a Holy Day, here’s the link to this Sunday’s worship from Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church. It can be accessed here.

In a little feedback, a friend has told me how friends of hers appreciated discovering about Scotland’s Gardens Scheme’s virtual tours.

Reading Hadley Freeman’s article in yesterday’s Guardian Weekend, was a comfort. It is, she asserts, okay, in fact good, to chat about and do things not prompted or influenced by the virus. It won’t make it go away, but it will let your human nature peep through.

Okay. We got more than 2 in the quiz. I finished the bog on the 2nd jigsaw. DH watered the garden. (In April? Ed) Great gossip with elderly neighbour (see Hadley above). Excellent progress with Book Group book and chat from one of the family’s households. Watched the christening scene from the Mariinsky’s Sleeping Beauty, free for a limited time on U-tube.

Daughters of the Lake by fellow Capital Writer, Jane Riddell, is Free to download till

April 29th Get your copy here

Three’s A Crowd, Kate Blackadder’s first anthology of previously published magazine stories is also free to download from today for five days. get your copy here

Anne

Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 26 – Chatting with friends

These aren’t the actual friends I was chatting with, but in more ordinary times, they might have been. This was taken at last year’s RNA conference in Lancaster and features three of the Capital Writers. Here’s No 4

During Lockdown:

Kate Blackadder has published a new anthology of short stories,

Still Rocking

Jo Allen has shared the cover for her third DI Satterthwaite book,

Death on Coffin Lane which is available to pre-order.

Jane is offering her

Things We Choose To Hide, free until Wed April 22nd.

As reported earlier, I have accepted an offer for a short novel from My Weekly, title and dates to follow.

We’ve had much to discuss electronically, if not in person. I hope you’re all finding people to talk with and things other than the virus to discuss.

I hope by the time this post goes live, the glitches marring yesterday’s RR will have been resolved. My apologies, but I don’t know why some of the posts aren’t showing as they should.

Friday saw the above mentioned chatting with friends on Whereby – worked really well. I made an Eve’s pudding and remembered to sprinkle sliced almonds on the top. Yay! I took a lucky dip bag of books to a friend deprived of her local library at present. I cannot find any Bran Flakes – do not send toilet rolls, thank you.

Anne

Lockdown – 2020 -22 – Bitesize does it

Margaret McConnell Trophy

Despite the cancellation of their 2020 conference, Scottish Association of Writers made up and circulated excellent adjudications of the associated competitions. Winner of the Margaret McConnell trophy for a woman’s magazine short story was EWC member Kate Blackadder.

Kate has now produced an anthology of her previously published stories called

Still Rocking and it’s available here

Good to know some people are getting on with things in lockdown. I do wonder if I’m suffering from brain freeze. However, while waiting online to interact with a person who was working for his firm, I worked out a glitch in the WIP. Might get that sorted this afternoon.

Loads of folk have taken to their bikes. Great chat with the youngest family member yesterday. A live phone call is such a warm and wonderful thing these days. I hope you’re making and receiving them, too.

Anne

Speaking Engagements – Capital Writers

CAPITAL WRITERS have two speaking engagements this week.

MONDAY 27th May

First up is tonight at the invitation of The Corstorphine Community Festival. We’re in Corstorphine Library between 6.30 – 8.30 for a meet the author session with librarian Shirley and Cosy Crime local writer, Cecilia Peartree.

SATURDAY 1st June

If you can’t catch us there, and even if you can, come along on Saturday afternoon to a fun storytelling event in Mayfield Salisbury church, 18 West Mayfield, EH9 from 2.30-4,30

Coffee, tea and cake is promised as well as the launch of our Capital CrossReach Stories pamphlet. We’ve each written a story to mark the 150th anniversary of this remarkable organisation and for a small donation to CrossReach, you can secure a copy to carry off.

Shorts – THREE’S A CROWD by Kate Blackadder

THREE’S A CROWD by KATE BLACKADDER is out. This delightful collection of some of Kate Blackadder’s previously published magazine stories is a snip for your kindle at £1.99, and in paperback for those of you who enjoy flicking back and forward, very soon at £4.99.

Three's a Crowd - cover artwork

Kate is much published by People’s Friend and Woman’s Weekly so the anthology contains some stories from those publications. Indeed People’s Friend think so highly of Kate’s talent, she hosts their award winning short story workshops around the country. There’s also work from Woman’s Day.

Kate B at Penrith

Kate B at Penrith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little taster to whet the appetite? How about this delightful story of birthday mayhem.

Hide-and-Seek for Astronauts

 

Last year, Julie hired a fire engine.

The year before, she had an igloo built in the garden – in June. The year before that she took ten four-year-olds on a steam train.

Now she had begun to talk about Ben’s next birthday party although he wouldn’t be seven for another two months. He was obsessed with space so I asked if she’d booked a supersonic trip around the galaxy with a stop for moon burgers.

‘Very funny. Haven’t finalised the details yet. Just keep the eighteenth free.’

When Julie and I were kids, our birthday parties were a few friends round to play in the garden and a home-made cake with candles half-burnt from their previous outing. I don’t remember either of us ever getting new candles, but we didn’t care.

‘It’s different now, Karen.’ Julie was dismissive when I reminded her. ‘Anyway, you don’t have children.’

I may not have children of my own but as an infant teacher I see more than enough of them. Julie was right. It is different now. We thought that life didn’t get any better than playing hide-and-seek and looking forward to a big piece of Gran’s jammy sponge. But that all came free, more or less – now birthday parties seemed to be about spending money and not just keeping up with the Joneses but leap-frogging over them.

Julie had become an expert leap-frogger, and spending money was one of her favourite occupations. As was trying to persuade me to spend my hard-earned.

‘Why don’t we go shopping for some new clothes for you?’ she asked me. We were sitting having a Saturday morning cappuccino. It was just ten o’clock but she was carrying several shiny carrier bags from one of the designer shops in the precinct.

‘What for? They’ll just get poster paint and sticky finger marks all over them.’

‘You don’t teach all the time. Matthew suggested … ’

‘Matthew suggested what?’

‘Nothing.’

‘Julie.’ I gave her the look I give P1 when they’re particularly fractious and she capitulated.

‘We were watching one of those makeover programmes and he said why didn’t I put you forward?’

‘As if! I’m not going to parade in my underwear, or worse, for all the world to see. What would Gran have said?’

What Gran would have said to such an event was beyond our imagination, and we dissolved into giggles.

‘I can’t see you doing it,’ Julie conceded. ‘But you could do with a new look.’

I wasn’t offended. Julie meant well and we had this conversation, or variations on it, regularly.

‘I really can’t be bothered,’ I said. ‘You do the glam bit for both of us.’

To be fair, I knew that Julie would be happy to pass her cast-offs on to me and I would have been happy to take them. It was unfortunate that I, the older sister whose hand-me-downs Julie was forced to wear as a child, was three inches shorter than her and a completely different shape.

Julie was still thinking about Gran.

‘We hardly had any clothes that weren’t second-hand or home-made,’ she went on. ‘Remember the paper pattern she kept making those pinafore dresses from? The same one she’d used for our mum. And those scratchy jumpers?’ She pulled a face.

I didn’t tell her that I still had the moss green chunky polo neck Gran knitted for me when I was fourteen, and that I wore it on winter nights when I got in from school.

‘She tried to teach us to sew and knit but that was a lost cause.’ Julie finished her coffee and patted her red lips with a napkin. ‘Sure you don’t want me to come shopping with you?’

I was sure.

But when I was getting ready for bed, Matthew’s suggestion came back to me. I looked at the nubbly tweed skirt I’d just flung on the chair. I’d had it for five years but it was still perfectly serviceable. The top I was taking off was in a shade of blue I didn’t particularly like but it had been on a half-price rail.

I didn’t envy Julie her designer lifestyle. Fun for a day maybe but what a palaver. Sometimes I wondered what Gran, with her one ancient lipstick and her three-times-a-year perm, would think of Julie’s manicures and facials and whatnots, not to mention her built-in wardrobes and her forests of shoe-trees.

The nubbly skirt went on again on Monday with a top, mustard this time, from the same sale rail. Even I could see that the colour didn’t suit me; the face that stared back at me looked to be the last stages of yellow fever.

Maybe I should make more of an effort.

Everything seemed to go wrong that morning. When I was gulping down some cereal my cat, Scatty, jumped on the table and knocked over the milk carton. The traffic, even in the bus lane, was worse than usual. P1 was playing up and my fiercest looks did nothing to quell them.

And when I had a break in the staff room at lunch-time there came a hysterical call on my mobile from Julie saying she was at the school gate and did I have a minute.

I hurried outside.

 

Find out what’s happened in:

THREE’S A CROWD from amazon here

 

Mariah, my Leading Lady: Main Character Blog Hop

Mariah Fox is my leading lady as she’s the heroine of my debut novel Mariah’s Marriage

London Girl

London Girl

Thank you to Rachael Thomas for tagging me to follow her in the My Main Character blog hop. Rachael’s blog is here:

http://rachael-thomas.blogspot.co.uk/

Also talking about her main character after Rachael is Kate Blackadder here:

http://goo.gl/gsoG7L

Mariah is a fictitious character.

When and where is her story set?  I set Mariah’s story in London, 1822. George the fourth has been on the throne for two years and that means it’s not strictly a Regency, but I hope it has all the same qualities. Sparkling dialogue, a fast paced changing society, frocks and horses.

What should we know about her?  She is an educated person who happens to be female.

What is the main conflict?  Mariah is passionate about education and would like to spend her life working in the teaching profession, but an earl comes along and thinks she might make him

Greek Lady, Sicilian Temple

Greek Lady, Sicilian Temple

an excellent wife.

What is her goal? Her goal is to leave the world a better place than she found it.

What is the book’s title? The book is called Mariah’s Marriage.

When was it published? Mariah’s Marriage was published one year ago by MuseItUp of Canada

Soon to introduce a Main character are:

Elaine Violette:

http://goo.gl/1161YZ

Helena Fairfax:  http://wp.me/p2MzrQ-Ut

 

Greek Lady, Sicilian Temple

http://goo.gl/pASdjp Mariah’s Marriage amazon US
http://goo.gl/NxYxj5 Mariah’s Marriage UK
http://goo.gl/PKptQg Bella’s Betrothal US
http://goo.gl/5RBzIm Bella’s Betrothal UK

https://www.omnilit.com/product-bella039sbetrothal-1312055-162.html

https://www.omnilit.com/product-mariah039smarriage-1173550-149.html