Friday, 5 February 2016

Pre-Orders and Valentine Giveaways

I just received the cover for The Aphrodite Assignment, my new novella from Tirgearr Publishing (as Romy), and it's now on pre-order from Amazon! This is the third in my Aphrodite and Adonis series and is slightly longer than the other two. Release date is Wednesday, 3rd March but the price will go up after that.

If you want to take advantage of the 99p (99c) offer, you can now pre-order it on Amazon UK and Amazon US. It will also be available on other e-platforms and you can find the links on my Tirgearr page where you can read the blurb and a short excerpt.


In other news, I'm taking part in this Great Valentine Giveaway Event with lots of other authors. Great selection of books and a very generous Amazon voucher on offer. If you click HERE, it will take you to the relevant site, should you want to enter!

Enjoy your weekend,

Monday, 1 February 2016

A Century of Style at Glasgow Kelvingrove

Husband and I managed a quick visit to the wonderful historical fashion exhibition at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow with promise of lunch at the end of it, although he went for a walk in the nearby park while I enjoyed a glimpse into the past. A Century of Style: Costume and Colour 1800-1899 is running until 14th February and the venue itself is one of my favourite places as it's such a stunning building filled with great art.

The exhibition did not disappoint, although it was predominantly Victorian style with the odd Regency outfit included. I took loads of photos for future research and made sure it was okay to include some on my blog. It was fascinating reading about the different colours and materials used and they even provided little samples of fabric for us to examine here and there. They also provided information on the dyes used throughout the period, with the relevant clothes arranged in colour-coordinated sections. 

It was equally fascinating to imagine these sumptuous outfits being part of well-to-do life in Scotland at one time - some of the cards accompanying the outfits told us to whom they had belonged and when they were worn.

Here a few of my favourites

Regency dress and spencer
Silk dress

Cotton print dress

Victorian dresses with crinoline

There are too many to show here and some of the accessories were also interesting - mourning outfits for instance included everything in black from the corset to the jewellery. I'm so glad I didn't miss this as there's nothing quite like seeing original costumes if writing historical fiction!


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Special Interview

I'm honoured to be interviewed today by all the lovely authors and a photographer who blog on Novel Points of View! Although I've had many interviews before, this is the first where different people asked a question and I was able to give more of an insight into why I wrote The Highland Lass. Really enjoyed the experience. You can see it here if you wish.


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Burns Night

It would be very remiss of me not to mention Burns Night, which is celebrated all over the world on January 25th, since our national bard is one of the characters in the historical chapters of The Highland Lass. Although it's more about Highland Mary's story, Robert Burns does of course figure in it since he was Mary Campbell's great love.

I am a fan of his poems and songs, finding so much wisdom about human nature in them. As well as being a farmer and poet, Burns was also a popular figure of the Edinburgh Enlightenment, perfectly at home in the salons of Edinburgh in the second half of the eighteenth century. When the crops on his farm failed, he also became an Exciseman in 1789, or a 'poor damn’d rascally gager', as he called himself. He had mixed feelings about such an unpopular post but needed a paying job, though it didn't stop him writing a song called The Deil's awa wi' the Exciseman. Here's a sample mentioning some of the popular dances of the time:

“There’s threesome reels, there’s foursome reels,
There’s hornpipes and strathspeys, man,
But the ae best dance that cam’ tae the land
Was the de’ils awa’ wi’ the Exciseman.”

It's remarkable to think that this humble farmer poet from Ayrshire is not only remembered in Scotland but is celebrated so well in other countries. I suspect that those who claim Scots ancestry probably make more of Burns Night than many of us do at home!

The above is a photo of Burns Cottage at Alloway where Robert Burns was born and below is the Auld Kirk where one of his best-loved characters, Tam O'Shanter, saw the witches dancing before fleeing across the Auld brig on his mare, closely followed by the younger witch who grabbed at the poor horse's tale.


We might not all like haggis, although it's quite tasty with mashed potatoes and turnip, but I'm sure many a person will be willing to raise a wee dram to the poet's memory on Burns Night. And if you do happen to attend a Burns Supper, you'll no doubt hear the Address to the Haggis, after it's brought to the table on a silver platter accompanied by the sound of the bagpipes. It begins: 

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

SlĂ inte Mhath! Good health!

P.S. Apologies for the variety of font sizes - can't seem to get it to behave today.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Snow Days

I love cold, dry and sunny winter days - along with autumn, it's my favourite time of year. So I was delighted when we had a couple of snowy days here, and on one of them we managed to get to a local garden centre for a walk.

This is part of our back garden when the snow was at its deepest - it was already getting slightly darker by mid-afternoon and the sky stayed greyish white for a few days so the light isn't so good.

Don't you love a field of lovely white, unblemished snow inviting footprints - I couldn't resist!


The trees had only a light dusting of snow still on them this day and I managed to get a shot of part of the Erskine Bridge in one of them. We drive across that every time we head to the other side of the river towards Loch Lomond.

Trying to get my work organised now and enjoying typing up the scribbled contents of several notebooks. Problem will be what to tackle first!


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Amazon Best Seller!

I hadn't got around to updating my blog yet this week as I was away in Edinburgh on Monday speaking to the lovely writing club there. I'll be adjudicating the first of three story competitions over the next week or two so I've been trying to get more organised.

However, today I discovered I'm a Number 1 best selling author on Amazon UK in two categories - with my dual-time novel, The Highland Lass! I'm excited, surprised and delighted as this has always been the 'book of my heart' and it has been steadily gaining great 5 star reviews before today. My publisher, Crooked Cat, has been so supportive and you can read more about the publishers through Sally Quillford's interview with Crooked Cat on the RNA blog.

As I'm enjoying it while I can, I thought I'd post the blurb on here today as it's still on the special promotion of 99p on Amazon UK and 99c (or around that) on Amazon US for a very limited time!

The Highland Lass

Eilidh Campbell returns to her Scottish roots from America with one main aim: to discover the identity of her real father. But her mother’s past in Inverclyde is a mystery with family secrets, a book of Robert Burns’ poems with a hidden letter and a photograph link to the Holy Loch at Dunoon when the American Navy were in residence.

Staying with her childhood friend, Kirsty, while searching for answers, Eilidh begins to fall in love with handsome Scot Lewis Grant, but just how free is he? Together they trace the story of Highland Mary and Robert Burns, with its echoes to her mother’s story. In short alternate chapters, Highland Mary tells her own story from 1785-6. From Dunoon, to Ayrshire and culminating in Greenock, Eilidh finds the past is closer than she realises.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Inspiration for 2016

I love the first few days of a new year, partly so I can enjoy using the lovely Christmas gifts and beginning a new diary when the year is full of possibilities. Amongst many generous, useful and beautiful gifts, two are excellent sources of inspiration for a writer.

Daughter Victoria bought me this great little book, The Pocket Muse: ideas for inspiration and writing by Monica Wood. I was intending scanning through every page right to the end then going back and picking out which ideas to try first, but I'm only about a quarter way through it as it contains so much more than I realised. Some pages are merely a quote, others are full passages, or several ideas on one page, while others contain photographs to inspire creativity. I think this will be by my side the whole year.

Another fascinating book was a gift from my son and daughter-in-law: 100 Documents that Changed the World by Scott Christianson. Spanning thousands of years history, from 2800 BC (an ancient Chinese document) to the computer age 2013 (Edward Snowden Files), this contains a replica of important or significant documents set in their historical context. I suspect this will provide lots of inspiration for ideas once I get through them all.

Now, it's getting down to business time as I have the edits for my new novella which will be out in spring and a talk to prepare for my visit to Edinburgh Writers next week. I'm also adjudicating a few short story competitions over the next three months, so I'll definitely need to get organised again after the lazing and eating of the past couple of weeks!

Wishing everyone a happy and successful 2016.


Thursday, 31 December 2015

For Auld Lang Syne

I hope everyone received whatever they wished for over Christmas. I was delighted with all the generous gifts from family and friends and some have already provided inspiration for the coming months.

What a shame the weather has spoiled the pleasure of the season for some people. Our village was cut off by floods yesterday but it was still nothing compared to some parts of Scotland and the north of England. We live at the top of the hill so our home was safe – at least while the gales don’t get too high. Hopefully, the New Year will bring calmer climes.

Thank you for your online friendship over the past year and I look forward to the next. I have a couple of imminent deadlines coming up so I need to get back to work by the beginning of next week, if I can get into gear again.

Happy Hogmanay and I wish you all a safe, healthy and successful New Year!

And there's a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

(last verse of Auld Lang Syne)


Friday, 11 December 2015

Preparations and Worksheets

I've rather neglected posting on this blog or reading others this last week, although I did manage to send out the Christmas newsletter yesterday. In addition to the usual busyness at this time of year, we've been rearranging the house to accommodate our daughter who has temporarily moved in after selling her flat. She is very welcome for the length of time it takes her to find a new place, but it's amazing how much we'd spread out into her former room during the many years she's been away!

I'm sure most people will be focused on preparations during the couple of weeks before Christmas, especially if you celebrate the season with large family gatherings or endless parties and outings. I'm enjoying a few Christmas lunches which have worked out well this year as they're on different weeks - looking forward to one later today with my friend.

If you have any time for writing or preparing what you'll be working on next, you might find the following links to free worksheets helpful. They came to me courtesy of the newsletter from the wonderful Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers. They're running a competition at the moment which you can still enter if you're quick.

Writers Digest - lots of interesting worksheets to download for planning your novel

Jamie Gold - very helpful worksheets for writers

Writers Helping Writers - Toolbox with excellent range of downloads

Hope some of these will be useful as we head towards the end of one writing year and the exciting possibilities in another.