Sunday, 13 January 2019

Kelpies and Writing

Where has the time gone since my first post of the new year on January 1st? It doesn't bode well for the blog that it's now almost two weeks later and I've only just remembered about it!

However, I have been getting on with the novel that's already nearing 50,000 words so that's a positive step in the right direction. And I've only one more novel to read for the SAW competition, although I'll need to write a thorough (helpful) critique for them. I also sent a poem off, albeit one that had some success in competitions years ago but has never been published yet.

As for the Creativity Journal - I've still to really get into it but have been reading some affirmation and mindfulness cards now and then. I feel more creative since the year began and (so far) a little more in control. Long may it continue.

One of my essential activities throughout the year, along with husband, is to make time for outings at the weekend, even if it's just coffee and a walk. I've finally made a list this year of places still to visit that are not too far for a morning or day out.

One of those was to visit the famous Kelpies near Falkirk, previously only seen from the motorway. So that was this weekend's jaunt, and very impressive they are too. There's a canal walk and lots of park area with paths so we'll be going back in better weather to explore further. An added enjoyment was discovering a new restaurant nearer the Falkirk Wheel owned by the same family as the one we used to enjoy in our former village and at Loch Lomond!

Funnily enough, one of my poems published last year in the Wild Musette Journal was called Where Kelpies Sing, so now I actually have a photo of the Kelpies to go with it.

If anyone is writing children's fiction, the Kelpies Prize from Scottish publisher Floris closes on February 28th.


Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Welcome 2019 – A Year of Creativity?

I love the beginning of a new year as it’s always filled with possibilities before reality kicks in and life gets in the way of best intentions! I’m off to a good start writing this before getting ready to have the first meal of the year with some of my family.

Towards the end of 2018, I was so busy that it wasn’t surprising I wasn’t firing on all cylinders by Christmas Day, after cooking the dinner. At least I haven’t been over-indulging with food and chocolate, however, so that’s a positive.

After bringing out two relatively short books, (one children’s middle grade, one novella) and helping daughter to publish her short story and flash fiction collection – all in the last two months of the year, I’m now reviewing my writing.

I would like 2019 to be more about creativity rather than rushing to get things finished. It’s partly my own fault as I have so much unfinished work but I want to slow down a little and enjoy the creative process again. At least that’s the intention, although I suspect I work best to deadlines – will maybe have to make them more realistic this year!

One of daughter’s lovely gifts, My Creative Journal, will help by giving me something to focus on. Together with some of the other creative or inspirational gifts she gave me before, and some I already had, I’m hoping to allow time to put some of the suggestions into practise. Some of them are about being more mindful, another way to help focus the mind on one thing at a time!

Meanwhile, I still have three full-length novels awaiting completion, not to mention all the other ideas and shorter items in various places so a little bit of forward planning is called for before routine returns to normal on Monday. Plus, there are the novels awaiting my adjudication and written critique for the Pitlochry Award at the SAW annual conference in spring – thankfully only the first 15,000 words of each to be placed by the beginning of March. It’s an enjoyable task and I’m always interested in other people’s creative imagination, but I’ll space it in between my own work.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and creative 2019,

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Christmas Charade

Well, I made it - managed to get Christmas Charade out before any more festive days have passed! If you're still in the mindset for escapist Christmassy reads, then you might enjoy this Victorian novella with romance and intrigue.

Featuring a few of the characters from Mischief at Mulberry Manor (which is on special at 99p for the next few days), Christmas Charade is set in the Scottish Borders as 1860 approaches. Maryanne has been longing to be reunited with Richard at Carmichael Hall, but who is the young lady demanding his attention at every turn and what secrets does she hide?

Romance with intrigue, skulduggery and an unexpected revelation!


Sunday, 23 December 2018

Happy Christmas!

Yet again, I've fallen behind - with more than my blog! However, I'm not stressing about it and will hopefully do better in the new year. We've had some lovely walks today and last weekend which has been the perfect antidote to writing, shopping and preparing for the big day.

I've been trying to finish the edits of my new Victorian Christmassy novella, Christmas Charade, but it won't be available now until just after Christmas Day. That's maybe not a bad thing as readers might have a little more time to enjoy it, should it appeal, and most of it takes place in the lead up to New Year. Watch out for more details soon. My newsletter won't be sent out until then either!

Meanwhile, I wish you and yours a very Happy Christmas however you celebrate the season. Enjoy some peace and rest where you can.

Rosemary x

Monday, 10 December 2018

Christmas Fairs and Children's Book

Last weekend, I had a lovely time at the annual Hopetoun House Christmas Fair. This is one of the grandest stately homes (partly used in Outlander) and it's a delight to wander through the sumptuous rooms while browsing the stalls, many with original Scottish goods. I always get my priorities right and we had coffee and cake in the stables café first!

This weekend, I took part in the Book Fair in Dundee, kindly organised by author Wendy H Jones. In the event, we didn't get so many visitors but all who came bought from a few of the assembled authors - around thirty of us. It was a good networking experience for meeting other writers and we all enjoyed the day, as well as the cakes and 'help yourself' lunch provided. The light was lovely on the drive through in early morning.

I managed to get my new middle grade children's book, The Pharaoh's Gold, published just in time for the event! It's a time-slip chapter book to Ancient Egypt suitable for around ages 7-11. And here's the blurb and cover:

Ten year old friends, Matthew and Nikki, attend a workshop on Ancient Egypt at the local museum during the school holidays. But when they find and try on Egyptian gold jewellery, they're suddenly transported back to Ancient Egypt.

Then their adventures begin when they meet Nephta, a relative of the new Pharaoh. Someone in her household is planning to steal the jewels from the previous Pharaoh's burial tomb and Matthew and Nikki end up in danger, while their bully of a classmate nearly becomes a mummy.

Will Matthew and Nikki escape from the pyramid in time?

It's available in e-book and print.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Books Galore!

First of all, I'm so delighted that my daughter Victoria now has a collection of nineteen short stories and flash fiction available! As an aside from her YA writing (and while awaiting publication of her second YA novel), many of these have been previously published in literary journals. The beautiful cover was designed by her friend, Rebecca Johnstone (aka Dainty Dora) a talented artist/designer.

The stories include an assortment of quirky characters, such as an eccentric artist who resorts to extreme measures for his art, a feisty burlesque dancer, a bride walking the streets of Paris alone and an old lady who fakes her own death.

An emotional journey, exploring the light and dark aspects of love, loss, freedom and hope!

Available from Amazon. Paperback to follow soon.

Next Saturday (8th), I'm heading to bonnie Dundee to take part in a big Book Fair along with lots of other authors. Looking forward to it. If you happen to be up that way, please drop in say hello.

Today, I'm off to the RNA Scottish Chapter lunch in Glasgow - definitely more about talking and eating!


Wednesday, 21 November 2018

November Outings

We had such a beautiful dry and sunny weekend up here last Saturday and Sunday that we took the chance to get out and about. Exactly the kind of autumn I love!

We often drive across to the Fife coast, as we're nearer the Queensferry Crossing now, and had coffee in our favourite café by the beach at Aberdour then a walk along part of the Fife coast. Such lovely, peaceful views and a great way to feel energised at this time of year.

On the Sunday, we took the train to Edinburgh as the German Christmas Market and rides had just opened in Princes Street Gardens and we wanted to have a look before it gets too busy! They were also switching the lights on in George Street that afternoon, accompanied by choirs and so on but we didn't wait for that.

Instead, we walked along to our favourite French restaurant for lunch then walked right along to Haymarket for the train home. I have a feeling it's just going to get busier and busier as we get nearer to Christmas but we hope to go back with our Granddaughter to enjoy some of the rides (I need someone to go on them with me!).

I meet up with my friend regularly in Glasgow and the last time we had lunch there, a couple of weeks ago, we tried yet another of the many great restaurants in the city. I had long admired The Corinthian from the outside so we treated ourselves to lunch and were not disappointed. Thankfully, the food and service lived up to the surroundings and the price was comparable with several other places we've been. We'll be back!

December is going to be even busier in some ways, with two big writerly lunches and a book fair to look forward to, not to mention lunches with friends, but more of that in another post. Just as well I can write on the train and in cafes or I'd be even further behind with my novels.

Hope you're enjoying the relatively mild autumn before it gets more wintry.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Introducing Canadian Author Melanie Robertson-King

A very warm welcome to Canadian author Melanie Robertson-King on the Reading and Writing Blog today. I’ve known Melanie online for several years and was delighted to finally meet her and her lovely husband at the Society of Authors weekend conference last year. I’m looking forward to reading Melanie’s latest novella, It Happened on Dufferin Terrace, especially since I had a wonderful visit to Quebec City some years ago.

Melanie has kindly agreed to tell us a little about this new series but first, here’s a short blurb about the Dufferin Terrace story.

It Happened on Dufferin Terrace

Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle

Toronto business consultant, Serenity Layne, knew the only person she could depend on was herself. Married to her career, she has no time for other pursuits and life’s intangibles.

Widowed for three years, Roger Scott, a data security specialist in Quebec City, is a single parent to his ten-year-old son, Adam.

On a day out on the Plains of Abraham with their black Labrador retriever, Roger’s cell phone rings incessantly. Adam has played matchmaker and put his father’s profile on a number of online dating sites.

The week before Christmas, Serenity is heading up a series of meetings after a six-month study of the Canadian retail chain, jonathans. After an unpleasant encounter with one of the store managers, she escapes from the boardroom of the Château Frontenac Hotel, only to be bowled over by Roger and Adam’s dog.

Guilty over the accident, Roger invites Serenity out for a drink by way of apology. Over the course of the week, and spending time together, feelings long dormant for Roger are re-awakened. At the same time emotions foreign to Serenity fill her with contentment and happiness.

Will the couple get their happily ever after?

It Happened on Dufferin Terrace is available from:
amazon (paperback and; kindle); kobo; Barnes and Noble

Writing a New Series

Thanks for inviting me to your wonderful blog to talk about my new series of sweet romance novellas - the It Happened Series - which will be set in various picturesque locations across Canada.

You’re very welcome, Melanie! It's a great idea for a series and I love Canada.

The first one in the series is set in old Quebec City which to me, is the closest thing to being in Paris without the expense of a long flight. I’m fortunate to live within 500 km so can drive there in about six hours.

In addition to being set in beautiful old Quebec City, It Happened on Dufferin Terrace is also a Christmas novella. The city is magical when it’s decorated for Christmas and New Year. I’m not sure if your readers are familiar with the movie It Happened on 5th Avenue, but that’s the inspiration for the book titles.

In It Happened on Dufferin Terrace, Serenity Layne is a career-driven woman who doesn’t believe in anything but hard work. Roger Scott is a widowed father bringing up his ten-year-old son, Adam, on his own. Can we say Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle? Hope so, because that’s the tagline I’ve used for the book.

Roger has four siblings (Christopher, Amy, Melissa, and Michael) who will appear in their own stories in the series. Although she loathes to admit it, Serenity has a brother (Erik) who will also get his turn in the spotlight.

Other books in the series (in no particular order) are:
  • It Happened at Percé Rock (stars Roger’s sister, Melissa, her partner, Gareth, and Melissa’s black and tan Dachshund, Buddy.)
  • It Happened at Niagara Falls (stars Roger’s brother, Michael, Jennifer Fox, and her Corgi, Zeus.)
  • It Happened at Lake Louise (stars Roger’s brother, Christopher, Lori Brownlee, and Chris’s Great Dane, Wolfgang.) For this one, I’m seeing her in the role of dog rescuer during the wildfires in Fort MacMurray.
  • It Happened in Gastown (stars Serenity’s brother, Erik, Hilary Dunbar a constable with the Vancouver Police Department, and her German Shepherd, Xena, a police dog in training but flunks out of school.
The final book in the series is homeless. It Happened in/at ??? (stars Roger’s sister, Amy, Kyle Ferris, and Princess, Amy’s whippet).

In each of the books, the four-legged, furry canines will play a part in bringing the couples together.

Perhaps your readers can help determine a location for the last book (I refer to it as last because of its homeless status)?

Now there’s a challenge, everyone! Can I suggest Banff (the Canadian one) please? 
Thanks for featuring on my blog, Melanie – I can’t wait to read It Happened on Dufferin Terrace.

About Melanie Robertson-King

A native of eastern Ontario, during her pre-school years, Melanie Robertson-King lived in a winterized cottage on the shore of the St Lawrence River. Before starting school, her family moved to Brockville where she received her education, including a post-secondary degree in Computer Programming.

Growing up as an only child, Melanie was an avid reader and remains so to this day. She knew then one day she would be a writer. When she wasn’t talking about her dream of becoming an author, she wrote stories and began honing her skills at an early age.

Melanie’s father was a Scottish national. He came to Canada as a ‘Home Child’ through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland. She promised herself that one day her feet would touch the soil in her father’s homeland. That first trip was in 1993, and she’s not looked back since, having returned to the auld country a further eleven times and is looking forward to trip number twelve. On one of her many trips to Scotland, Melanie had the honour of meeting Princess Anne (The Princess Royal) at the orphanage where her father was raised.

Encouraged to study Highland Dancing, she competed locally. Her final competition took place during the summer of 1969, a few short months after her father’s death, at the 1000 Islands Highland Games. In that last event, she won the Silver Medal in the Sword Dance.

Melanie began her professional writing career in non-fiction. She published eight of her articles. One graced the cover of an international publication. At the same time, she continued to develop her writing voice: short as well as novel-length work.

When she’s not sequestered in her cave writing, plotting or editing, you’ll find her out and about. In addition to writing, she loves to travel, prowl through cemeteries (the older, the better), and photography.

It Happened on Dufferin Terrace is her seventh book.

You can connect with Melanie on her website; Celtic Connexions Blog; Facebook Author Page; Goodreads; Twitter @RobertsoKing

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Creativity and Marketing

I thought that I'd post a couple of links to interesting articles this week, in between posts from invited guests. I follow many blogs, websites and entrepreneurs and occasionally save some of the articles to read again.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Orna Ross is one of the main people behind ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) and she also has an interesting website of her own where she shares her creative ideas. One such article is Creative Consumption which you might find helpful.

I now have my books on my own author page on the famous BookBub site. I couldn't afford to use one of their adverts, even though they are usually very successful. But it's great that they allow authors to create a page at all. They also email out excellent articles every now and then, such as this one: Ten Tips for Authors on Using Social Media which is from a literary agent.

Happy reading!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Introducing Author Frances Garrood

I’m delighted to welcome author and blogger Frances Garrood to the Reading and Writing blog today. I very much enjoy the type of blog posts Frances writes, where she often takes a humorous or even satirical look at life, so I knew I'd probably enjoy her novels. And I do! I’m almost finished her latest book, Ruth Robinson’s Year of Miracles, and love the variety of interesting, quirky (and madcap) characters, the touches of humour and heart-warming insights into humanity. It’s also a good story.

Frances kindly agreed to write a little about the background to getting this book published but first here’s the blurb.

Ruth Robinson’s Year of Miracles

All Ruth Robinson ever wanted was the man of her dreams. But she lost the man, and got a baby instead…
Six months ago, Ruth Robinson had a regular job, a monthly salary and a comfortable flat to go home to. After quitting her job ready to go travelling, a momentary lapse of judgement put a major spanner in the works…

Now Ruth has a baby on the way and no place to call home…

With the father of her child AWOL and her parents less than impressed, Ruth decides to move in with her eccentric uncles. And when the Virgin Mary appears in their hen house, it is clear Ruth’s unplanned pregnancy isn’t the only ‘miracle’ she’ll be encountering this year…
Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Writing the Novel
I’d like to thank Rosemary very much for inviting me to visit her blog.

You're most welcome, Frances!
Although this is my fourth published book, in fact I originally wrote it some years ago. My then publisher thought it needed a lot of changes, and I thought the novel was a bit too mad for most people’s taste anyway, and so I left it in the famous cyber drawer for some time.

More recently, a writer friend asked to see it. I have long since learned never to show my writing to friends and family, as they hesitate to say anything uncomplimentary, so I don’t necessarily get the truth. But I knew that this friend – an author herself – would shoot from the hip if necessary, so off it went. A short time later, I received an email from her saying that she absolutely loved it, and so I took another look at it then sent it off to my current publisher. She too loved it, and so Ruth Robinson was re-born. 

I’d love to say what the inspiration for the novel was, but the truth is, I’ve no idea. There are basically two kinds of writers: those who plan, cover their office walls with post-it notes, know the ages and interests and hair colour of all their characters, and generally know exactly where their novel is going; and then there are writers like me. I just begin writing a book, and hope it takes me somewhere. I have no idea what’s going to happen, who’s going to do what, and what’s going to happen in the end (probably the reason my one foray into the world of crime writing foundered so spectacularly!). I’d dearly love to be a planner, but I can’t somehow manage it.

I think of all my novels, the one I enjoyed writing the most was this one. It’s a mad romp of a book, with a pregnant heroine, eccentric twin elderly men, a pole dancer, a miraculous apparition and a couple of born-again Christians, to name but some of the characters. Even the original title – The Virgin of the Hen house – was a bit mad (even my publisher drew the line at that). It’s not a book I could ever have planned; it had to make itself up as it went along.

But if even a handful of readers have half the pleasure reading it that I had writing it, I shall be happy. Because that’s really why we write, isn’t it?
Absolutely, Frances. I can’t plot either and it certainly seems to work for you! Thanks so much for this interesting post.

About Frances
My main career was in nursing, and I was just about everything from ward sister (the best job in the world in those days!) to practice nurse. I was also a Relate counsellor for some years, which was very rewarding and which gave me a lot of insight into relationships (which is probably why my novels are very much relationship based). 
I started writing short stories while my four children were young, and then decided to tackle novels as the next logical step; a very different kind of challenge. My first husband died suddenly in 1992, and I subsequently re-married and moved to Wiltshire, where I spend my time riding my horse, singing in the church choir, doing some local voluntary work and seeing as much as I can of my eight grandchildren. 
You can follow Frances on her blog, website and on Facebook.