Saturday, 16 February 2019

Researching in Situ

We had a great day visiting Culross in Fife again, which is mentioned in my current Work in Progress. It's the most authentic 16th/17th century village in Scotland and much filmed in Outlander. Last time we explored the Palace, which is not really a palace - this time we walked right up to the top of the cobbled streets to see the old church and ruined monastery.

Culross Palace
It was worth the effort. The magnificent church is still used and I had great fun climbing the rail of the monastery ruins to have a look at what would have been the dining hall.

We, however, dined at the wonderful Red Lion Inn - a fabulous building dating from the late 16th century. Excellent food and ambience - fortunately we booked a table before getting there as it was inundated with people being turned away.

It's a real step into the past, wandering through the streets of Culross with its many painted dwelling houses beautifully restored, many of them with the date above the lintel.

I mention the Town Building as well in my novel but won't say why! Better get on with it, now that it's well past half way as I have a lot to sort out with the story yet. It's good to get away from the desk though and I always feel more inspired afterwards.


Friday, 8 February 2019

Tinkering with Book Covers

Yet more procrastination fun besides the decluttering, adjudicating and writing - tinkering with book covers! I wasn't satisfied with some of mine and I love the creativity of working on them, even though it drives me to distraction and is time-consuming.

I also sometimes have an idea of what I want but working out how to do it is the problem. Anyway, I've now redone two and will be leaving them this way (hopefully).

The first is the cover I've always had the most problem with since the novella Pride & Progress was published. I already shared a couple of earlier versions ages ago but was still not quite happy with the one I ended up using. Since I'm in a more energetic mood at the moment, I decided to have one last shot before getting new postcards for the SAW Conference in March.

It's a sweet Victorian novella which revolves around Miss Emily Morton's distaste for the new railway and her growing friendship with the new Scottish stationmaster. At their first meeting, Emily literally lands at Arthur Muir's feet at the bottom of a hill! Since I partly wrote it because of my love of steam trains, I've always wanted one on the cover - and this is the result. Maybe not perfect but I like it!

The other books I've always struggled with in my own mind ever since they were published as three separate novella by a small publisher, are the Aphrodite and Adonis series. The problem is that they can be read as stand alone stories - the only link between them is that Aphrodite and Adonis appear in each (as real people) to help the three different couples.

They're set on Cyprus as that's where I came up with the original idea while on holiday there many years ago. I loved the mythology attached to the island as well as the historic sites and had to use it. Aphrodite is said to have been born from the foam of the sea at Paphos, where we stayed, and I've always been really keen on Greek mythology.

I did think having three novellas was a bit messy, especially when the first is much shorter than the other two. So I decided to put them into one volume - not a box set as such, more a trilogy of novels. Again, I tried a couple of different cover ideas, changed my mind on Amazon and separated them again (giving away the second novella for a few days last year). But I kept coming back to the idea of putting them all in one book.

So at last, I'm happy with this latest result. The photo image is actually at the rocks where Aphrodite appeared but daughter thought it was too non-fiction/travel like with only that. After some thought, I had to agree though I still wanted to use that lovely image. So to make it more obviously a romance, I've added a couple plus made the font bigger and a different colour! It's been difficult to decide on a cover for this series as it combines real, contemporary romance with a touch of fantasy. Hopefully, I'll now leave it this way, as one volume of three novellas.

So that's why the blog hasn't been updated for a couple of weeks! No doubt I'll be tinkering with another couple of covers as there's still two at least that I need to improve.


Monday, 28 January 2019

Decluttering and Updating

I think the brighter days are already having an effect on me as I'm enjoying decluttering in between work, though I still like the cold darker days too! I've already cleared out one kitchen drawer and sorted out recipes I've cut from various magazines, sticking them in an old recipe book husband bought me many moons ago. I even made a big pot of soup at the weekend, in between walks, and a fruit loaf is about ready to come out of the oven in a few minutes - a recipe I haven't tried before.

Love the image above which hangs in one of our favourite coffee shops in Queensferry - isn't it so true!

Now I'm turning my attention to writing files (again) and book covers, either tweaking those I have or deciding if any need updated. Is this just other forms of procrastination? I wouldn't be surprised but I'm also in the mood to organise! Funnily enough, I've noticed several other authors are updating their book covers. Perhaps it's something we need to be aware of now and then.

I'll post any updates another time - need to go and rescue that fruit loaf and hope it's edible this afternoon!


Sunday, 20 January 2019

The Highland Lass and Burns Night

This week, we're heading towards Burns Night in Scotland on 25th January, although the birthday of our national bard is also celebrated all over the world.

As well as being a poet, Burns was also a farmer (for a time) and an exciseman. I've written a few articles about him which were published in The Highlander Magazine in the USA, now included in my Scottish Collection of non-fiction. By all accounts, he was a fascinating, charismatic man with an eye for the ladies.

I was always most interested in one of his 'loves', known as Highland Mary, especially since she is buried in the cemetery of my home town where I'd visited her huge gravestone on many occasions. That early interest never left me and it eventually resulted in the 'novel of my heart', The Highland Lass, a few years ago. Originally published by Crooked Cat Books, it became a kindle number one best seller on Amazon UK, to my great delight.

I've since republished The Highland Lass when the rights reverted to me and it's still a special novel in my eyes. Partly because it's a kind of homage to the beautiful Clyde coast where I grew up and partly because it's a different type of novel from any I'd written before. Instead of either only contemporary, or only historical, it combines both!

The contemporary sections follow Eilidh Campbell as she returns to Scotland to seek the identity of her father, and finds family secrets along the way. She also is keen to find out if the Mary Campbell of Highland Mary fame is an ancestress. The alternate historical chapters are told in the 18th century Mary Campbell's own voice as she meets and falls for her poet farmer.

If you enjoy the poetry of Robert Burns, you might like the quotes at the top of each contemporary chapter! I'd like to write another dual timeline novel at some point but the idea is only a tiny seed at the moment and will have to await its gestation.

Nae gentle dames, tho’ e’er sae fair,
Shall ever be my muse’s care;
Their titles a’ are empty show,
Gie me my highland lassie, O.”

(Robert Burns: The Highland Lassie)


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!