Monday, 15 December 2014

Greek Food and Christmas Concert

I had another special birthday treat yesterday, which will probably mark the end of all the celebrations for reaching a new decade! What a very lucky woman I am to be blessed by so many lovely friends and family.

My friend Liz booked us dinner at a Greek restaurant which I hadn't known existed, right in the heart of Glasgow. Wonderful food, absolutely bursting with Mediterranean flavour, and quite different from any meal I've had since holidays in Greece or Cyprus. A great venue too, with our table overlooking the magnificent George Square, which at the moment is adorned with Christmas lights, big wheel, carousel and such like.

For afterwards, Liz had bought us tickets for a Christmas Charity Concert at the beautiful Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of my favourite places in Glasgow. They had opened it up last night especially for the event which was to celebrate and fund-raise for one of the best cancer centres in Scotland, the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre.

Around 600 people attended the event where a fabulous award-winning primary school choir, a young former patient with an amazing voice, and the swinging Rock Choir took turns to sing beneath the magnificent organ and ornate ceiling. We even got to join in couple of Christmas songs at the end. Although we were reminded a few times about the reason for the event and that very few of us won't have been touched by this terrible disease in one way or another, it was an evening of celebration. I even won a box of chocolates on the fun tombola at the interval!

Now it's back to some semblance of work during this week before Christmas is upon us.


Saturday, 13 December 2014

Three Day Virtual E-Book Fair

Come and have a look at the books, bargains and give-aways
 over on this Facebook event from
 13th to15th December!
Meet lots of new authors.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Taking Stock of 2014

Monthly Clock Face, Messina
It’s a good time to take stock of the year almost ended and think a bit more about what’s coming next, writing-wise. Have I achieved what I hoped this year? Not completely, but that’s mainly because I don’t always make the effort to complete the projects in time! However, I’m happy with the writing year overall considering I’ve been enjoying life in between and we’ve been clearing out the house a bit. So here’s a rough overview of writing-related activities.
  • Adjudicator of Romance Novel Competition at SAW Conference
  • Shortlisted finalist in Holland Park Press Poetry Competition and read at the prize-giving
  • The Adonis Touch novella (2nd in series) published by Tirgearr
  • First Draft piece published in Writers’ Forum
  • Runner-up in Txtlit Competition
  • Article published in The Highlander Magazine (US)
  • Re-published Dangerous Deceit with new cover
  • Winner of Poetry Competition at Writing Group
  • Poem accepted for publication by the Hawick News
  • Story accepted for Anthology by Pulse/Myrmidon (not published yet)
  • Story published in Ireland’s Own
  • Story published in A Star in the Heart collection
  • Story Collection, Beneath the Treetops, on Amazon
Attended the RNA Conference in July
Entered first chapter of historical novel to M&B Open Subs – good feedback
Started a newsletter

Writing several new projects but haven’t finished them!
Several rejections and non-starters in a few competitions- par for the course

The most exciting event was having my new mainstream novel, The Highland Lass, accepted by Crooked Cat Publishing for a spring 2015 release. Can’t wait to get this ‘book of my heart’ out there at last. I was also asked by Thresholds if they could publish my non-fiction article about DH Lawrence and short stories in their January issue (more about that when it happens). Still to hear about a couple of other submissions to various places.

I’m not going to write a list yet of what I hope to finish and send out in the coming year, as it might well change before then. But I am interested to know - do any of you make a business plan for your working year? I haven’t done this in any great detail before but I read an excellent blog post from a writer who makes such a plan and it sounds a good idea. You can read her post here. I might get around to making such a plan myself for 2015 – watch this space!

If anyone is interested in books at 99c (or UK equivalent), it's happening on Facebook today - you might get a few bargains here!


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Downton Effect

I'm sure many of you, like me, never miss an episode of Downton Abbey when it's on, and I'm certainly looking forward to the Christmas special. For me, it's all about the fashion and the characters, though I do hope Julian Fellows means what he says about ending it on a high. Perhaps the next season will be the last? In some ways, I hope it is as I wouldn't like it to get too modern and the 'Lady Mary and her suitors' story is beginning to bore me! I would love to see Edith's man (who is supposed to have died in Germany) return alive in the end.

There's no doubt that life in a big house amongst the aristocracy is a popular genre, especially with our friends across the Pond, whether that be in films or books. One well-known Regency author, Jo Beverley, came up with the lovely idea of posting on her blog a selection of Regency novels that are set around a large country house at Christmas, by different writers.

I'm very honoured that Midwinter Masquerade is included in the list and I'll be checking out the other books mentioned. If you're interested, you can find the titles, covers and blurbs on Jo Beverley's Blog - where you can also recommend in the comments any others you might have read with this kind of setting at the festive season.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

November Newsletter

I've had a very busy time recently, as many of you will have seen from the previous post! Enjoyed a great day in Glasgow yesterday meeting for lunch with eleven other writers from our online Writers Scotland group. There should have been even more of us but, as always, a few had to cancel for reasons outwith their control. Needless to say we more than made up for them in the buzz of chatter and eating of food.

I also had to finish a long non-fiction piece of writing for a competition whose deadline is almost upon us - I often thought about giving up on it but was enjoying it too much in the end. Even if sinks into oblivion, I still have all the information in one place at my fingertips now.

Another self-imposed deadline was to get the November newsletter out before we reach the next month! It has now been sent on its way to subscribers and contains a few writing links and a little fun Christmas competition. If you would like to receive a copy (and don't already) then all you have to do is pop your email address into the little 'subscribe' box you'll find at the top right column of the blog. If you do receive it, please do enter the competition - it's not a big prize but is just meant as a thank you for being willing to read the newsletter each month.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Meeting with Other Writers

One of the pleasures of being a writer is getting to know others who are equally engrossed in putting words in the right order in an imaginative way. It especially helps to have writer friends if those nearest and dearest have no idea what compels us to spend our time this way - have to admit mine are all very understanding and one of my best friends couldn't be more supportive. But I also feel particularly blessed with a host of writing friends and colleagues and greatly value any time spent in discussing writing-related matters.

I was very lucky to find a good writing group many years ago when I was starting out and the various members over the years have proved inspirational and encouraging, several of them becoming close friends. A few of us regularly meet up for coffee or lunch and a chat and we all feel ready to go home and write afterwards. An offshoot of this is that we all belong to the Scottish Association of Writers and get to meet people from all over Scotland at the annual conference each March.

This past week, I had the pleasure of meeting two new writing acquaintances at the Willow Tearooms in Glasgow, along with one writing friend from Edinburgh whom I've known for several years, and it was very motivating hearing how everyone is doing with writing and publishing novels. At the end of this coming week I’ll be out to lunch with three other writing friends and at the beginning of the following week, there’s a Christmas lunch in Glasgow for the online Scottish Writers group I belong to – although we also try to meet up in person a few times a year.

On Tuesday past, we had the writing group’s annual Dinner and Awards at a local Equestrian Centre and, as always, it was a most enjoyable day. We begin with an afternoon meeting, which this year included judging of a Flash Fiction competition (which I was proud to see my daughter win!) and it was followed by the Awards for the 2013/14 session. I was honoured and delighted to win the Betty Munnoch Poetry Award this year. The unique carved ‘book’ contains an individual plaque on the inside cover with each winner’s name over the years, and a copy of the winning poem is put inside. It is named after a very dear friend and wonderful poet who sadly passed away many years ago.

The day ends with our dinner in an adjoining room when we get the chance to socialise along with the eating and drinking! It’s especially good for chatting to newer members, as we might not have the opportunity during or after our weekly meetings. It’s a lovely tradition of our group now and one which we all look forward to each year.

So if anyone is thinking of joining a writing group, either online or at a real venue, or even if you can only meet up with a few writing friends, I’d encourage you to give it a try. Yes, the quality of groups can vary as people are different personalities, but you just might find lasting friendship and unexpected inspiration.


Monday, 10 November 2014

A Star in the Heart

I was delighted to receive my copy of the new anthology, A Star in the Heart. I saw a call for submissions through the Federation of Scottish Writers earlier in the year and I sent in little story of 800 words called 'The Christmas Visitor' - a warm-hearted story about a nurse in an old Glasgow hospital and her ghostly little visitor. I was subsequently very pleased when it was accepted!

A Star in the Heart is a lovely paperback and is filled with seasonal poems, amazing winter images and a few short stories. It's been produced in aid of The Christ Church Community Centre Development Fund in Henley-on-Thames. I feel honoured to be in such a beautiful book - from away up in Scotland!

At the moment, the book is only available in print. If anyone wants a copy, you can let me know and I can arrange for one to be sent to you, or you can order direct from: - it costs £9 plus £2 postage for up to 2 copies.

If anyone lives around Henley, they're having a launch with Advent Supper, music and so on and readings from the book, at 7.30pm on December 6th at Christ Church, Henley. Wish I could be there!


Friday, 7 November 2014

A Midwinter Bargain!

In case anyone fancies a romantic winter read, my Scottish-based Regency novel, Midwinter Masquerade, is now on a special offer of 99c on Amazon US and 77p on Amazon UK. I always forget to put reviews anywhere so I've included a short sample from Amazon reviews at the end!


Edinburgh 1816: young widow Lady Lenora Fitzallan receives an invitation that might change her life.

At his Scottish country estate, Edward Montgomery awaits the arrival of the woman he should have married seventeen years before, while his niece Annabelle begins to fall in love. But is it with the right man?

As they all prepare for the Masquerade Ball on the Winter Solstice, new arrivals cause uncertainty and reveal past secrets. But who will win Lenora’s love in the end?

Sample Reviews:

"Romy Gemmell keeps a whole basket of balls in the air as her large cast of characters gather for a midwinter ball. As always, Romy writes with assurance and brings deft touches of period and humour to her story. The juxta-positioning of two romances keeps the reader guessing all the way to the end and is a clever device to allow both an older couple and their younger counterparts to shine."

"The characters are well delineated, subtly defined and engaging. I particularly liked Annabelle with her rather scatterbrained approach to life in general and men in particular and the underlying humour adds an extra dimension to the novel."

"Midwinter in the Scottish countryside is a perfect setting for this historial romance. I enjoyed the clever threads of stories running through this book, with the widowed Lenora's romantic turmoil a nice contrast to the more whimsical escapades of the younger Annabelle."


Monday, 3 November 2014

Art Inspiration

I've always loved art, along with literature, music and film and every now and then I enjoy visiting an art gallery. We're lucky to have two very different types of gallery in Glasgow and both are housed in the most magnificent buildings.


The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is in the west end of the city, near the illustrious Glasgow University area. It's one of my favourite venues and I've had great visits there over the years but never tire of another and find the wonderful range of paintings such an inspiration for writing ideas. A story I wrote from studying the woman in one picture became a big prize-winning story a couple of years ago and at least one other set of paintings inspired an article published in a UK magazine. The museum displays are a great hit with children who are encouraged to interact with some and are educated by others.


The other building is the Gallery of Modern Art, known locally as GoMA, which is situated right in the middle of town within easy walk of the stations. It's a wonderful neo-classical building with huge amounts of space inside and amazing architectural features. As its name suggests, this art is very modern and includes exhibits in different mediums and from different nationalities. It might not immediately inspire story ideas, but my friend and I enjoyed the artistic vision of some of them. Outside sits the statue of Wellington on his horse with the now famous traffic cone on his head - Glasgow humour which has made it onto postcards and was made world-famous during the Commonwealth Games!

Pictures in magazines or online often inspire writers but there's nothing like walking around an actual gallery, enjoying the works of art in reality. It's a great morning or afternoon out too as there's a cafe in both venues for a much needed refreshment!

Monday, 27 October 2014

A Book of Memories

Well, I've just had a wonderful weekend celebrating my birthday and entering a new decade - just as well we're all meant to be ten years younger than our real age these days! But it's certainly true that age is just a number and we're as old as we feel. My daughter paid me a great compliment by telling me I have a youthful attitude and a few people mentioned my enthusiasm and positivity, so long may these attributes remain.

Saturday began enjoying a lovely morning with my gorgeous wee granddaughter, son and daughter-in-law in Glasgow. One of their most original gifts was a beautiful book of original watercolour paintings of heroines from fiction by Samantha Hahn - on the facing page across from each painting is a quote from the book in which they appear. Something to treasure always.

The evening saw a gathering of my family for a wonderful meal in our local restaurant. Many of us don't see each other for far too long and it was truly lovely to celebrate with my sister, two brothers, three sisters-in-law and two nephews, along with my husband and daughter. The photo of us all at such a happy occasion will be a great memento - we've already lost two brothers and a brother-in-law over the years and it's important to see each other while we still have that privilege.

Yesterday, my actual birthday, was a quieter day when my dear husband took me out to lunch at one of my favourite venues - over the other side of the river to Loch Lomond. It doesn't matter what the weather is like over there (it was raining) as it's such stunning scenery. Then I enjoyed chilling out and catching up on my favourite programmes while indulging in far too many chocolates.

But it doesn't end there... I have lots more treats in store: lunch out with my good friend on Wednesday, posh Afternoon Tea at a luxury hotel with three friends on Friday and about four other lunches with various people, plus a concert with another friend yet to be arranged! I am truly blessed with lovely family and friends.

In amongst all the wonderful, generous gifts I received was this brilliant, quirky Scotty dog which doubles as a door stop from my great friend, Catriona - just had to give him a star role here!

As well as contributing to the fabulous gift of a mini iPad from my husband, the most touching and memorable gift of all has been the Memory Book my lovely, talented daughter put together for me - all in secret. As well as writing beautiful messages to me herself, she collected photos of me and family and friends over the years as well as written messages from many of them which she pasted into the book. I read it while on my own through tears of joy all the way through, especially when I reached the one from my husband and then my son. As anyone who knows Victoria will expect, she has adorned it with little touches of creativity throughout. Could anyone receive anything more precious than such a Book of Memories?

I'll end before I get too sentimental by thanking many of my lovely blogging friends for your good wishes here and on Facebook. The Internet has certainly made the world a smaller place and enabled virtual friendships that enhance our lives.