Saturday 13 June 2020

All Change...

After too many years of posting here to recall, I've decided to stop updating this blog. I've been very neglectful of it for the past couple of years and feel guilty whenever I remember! So this seems an ideal time to take stock of all my social media and writing tasks and make any changes.

Rather than delete it, I shall leave it here in case anyone ever visits older posts, or wants to check out some of the other blogs mentioned at the side, plus it still has my books on it. Blogger is about to change its format in some way, so it's another reason to make the change now.

However, I'll still be writing blog posts now and then but they'll be on my new website which means everything is in the one place. I'll also be on other social media platforms and will no doubt see many of you in various places. Thanks so much for all the encouragement and support readers have given me over the years. Please do keep in touch by other means!

Website (including blog)


Saturday 30 May 2020

Stay Home Story Summit

I'd meant to post this earlier but you still have time to register for the free Stay Home Story Summit as it runs through June 21st.

This is an excellent selection of videos covering everything from story structure and creating tension to website, social media and marketing tips from authors, entrepreneurs and marketing experts.

Once you register, you'll be given a link and can watch the videos whenever you like. I've now completed them all and have to say that I got something from every single person. As always, some are better than others and not all of them might suit everyone.

Now I just have to put some of the teaching into practise!


Wednesday 13 May 2020

Keeping Busy!

As we head through May, I've found a couple of other ways to keep busy besides writing. I do enjoy sorting out my wardrobe every now and then, much needed because of clothes bought too rashly in sales, those that don't fit properly or suit me any more, and those I can't stand wearing now, having kept them too long. I'd already given lots of good items to the charity shop before lockdown but I still wasn't satisfied when I looked in the wardrobe and couldn't see what to wear (as we do).

Then I read about Courtney Carver and Project 333. I signed up to her website, Be More with Less, and started receiving occasional blog posts and hearing all about her challenge of having a capsule collection of only 33 items for 3 months. It doesn't include underwear or leisure wear (fortunately) but pretty much everything else, including jewellery and bags!

I've loved reading about her own journey to a simpler life and was soon hooked on the idea. So I bought the book, have read it through and am now about three quarters of the way to having that whittled down set of clothes. It's a good time to address things like this in the hope I soon get to wear some of what's left, other than for the house, garden or food shop but I won't be buying any clothes this summer.

The other challenge I've started is the Body Groove on demand funky dance exercise course. I kept seeing it on Facebook and then a free 30-day challenge was on offer so I signed up as I 've always loved to dance as part of my exercise! I'm now on day five and thoroughly enjoying every minute. It's perfect for moving the body without the kind of non-stop exercise that bores me.

This has different styles of movement and dance each day but you can make it your own and take it at a steady pace. Misty is so encouraging too, emailing little life-affirming post most days. Definitely one for appreciating how to move your body and getting fit at the same time. Between this and our daily walk after lunch, it should compensate for sitting at the computer and scoffing the baking!

Writing News

I discovered my little piece was published in the Subscribers' Spotlight pages of Writing Magazine, and I was quoted on Lorraine Mace's last page article! Then I received the new issue of The Highlander magazine this morning with my latest article published inside - and he's accepted another.

Meanwhile, the baking and cooking continue but husband is now keen to learn to make the soups all by himself - not a problem as far as I'm concerned!

Have you started any new challenges?


Monday 4 May 2020

May Musings on Lockdown

Hard to believe it's now about six weeks since the UK lockdown and social distancing began in earnest. I expect many people will be settled into a new routine and perhaps some will retain a few changes made at this time. I love the way the earth is healing and nature is reclaiming the cleaner spaces, but I wouldn't wish such an awful illness on anyone, never mind the fatalities. However, I certainly won't want to travel huge distances for a long time, if ever, and will happily discover more of our own country when allowed.

It's a more difficult time for anyone alone who is used to company, or for those missing family and friends. I've been used to working from home for so long that little has changed apart from the school run with granddaughter (she is much missed), catch-ups in real life with daughter and other family, and jaunts into Glasgow for coffees, lunches and chats with friends, although we have weekly phone calls. Strangely, I can't be bothered with Facebook and Twitter so much, partly because I get fed up with all the things we're encouraged to do, watch or try! I'm happy as I am, thank you.

Husband and I are fairly content with home, gardening and daily walks together. I'm trying to catch up with various projects and organising work files, photos and clothes (again!), though my full length writing still eludes me. Thankfully, I enjoy shorter items and do think about which longer length work in progress is most calling to be written. That's the problem with having about three different novels/novellas on the go but not getting into any of them.

One thing I've been enjoying is going through some of my old baking recipes and trying a few new ones. So far, I've baked a new recipe walnut and date loaf using oil, a lemon loaf cake, Greek yogurt pancakes (to use up the yogurt), and raspberry buns which are now cooling on the wire rack. So far, I've been happy with the results and decided to experiment with freezing a little of each to keep fresh to eat later - all worked well but haven't tried freezing the buns yet.

Husband and I have made various soup and we tried a new chicken recipe during the week: Alpine Chicken Stew. Very tasty but I would reduce the amount of crème fraiche and white wine the next time. My only problem soon will be getting self-raising flour for more baking!

How are you occupying your time? Stay safe.


Friday 24 April 2020

More Free Books

Hope you're coping well with the continued lockdown and social distancing. Although I'm still not getting into my full length fiction writing, I am enjoying writing shorter items.

Both my grown-up children have birthdays this weekend but will obviously have to celebrate them at home! However, the Internet is very useful at times like this.

I decided to offer two more e-books to download FREE for a few days: sweet Victorian novella, Pride and Progress, and a timeslip adventure to Ancient Egypt for 8-10 year olds, The Pharaoh's Gold. Both are also available in paperback.

Available from Amazon UK, Amazon US and wherever you are.

Available from Amazon UK, Amazon US and wherever you are.

Stay safe and well,

Sunday 12 April 2020

Easter Blessings

At this very difficult, uncertain Easter, most people will be missing seeing their families if they don't live in the same household, while others will be mourning their loss.

Hopefully, this virus will soon pass and life will gradually move to a new normal and more lives will be spared.

These are two short Celtic blessings that seem appropriate for Easter and the days ahead.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the Son of peace to you.

Stay safe,

Friday 3 April 2020

Writing and Reading During Coronavirus Lockdown

I hope you're managing to cope at this awful time of lockdown and social distancing as the world tries to contain and survive the very contagious coronavirus. I'm sad at not seeing my wee granddaughter but we're emailing each other now and then and her school has been brilliant at keeping in touch with the pupils. I've had to enjoy previous photos of our favourite seaside escape since we can't go there just now.

Evidently many writers are finding it difficult to focus, not surprisingly, and Facebook in particular is providing lots of diverting content. Although I haven't been getting on with any of my longer fiction, I have been very much enjoying concentrating on shorter fiction, non-fiction and poetry, some new, some rewritten. I've also been submitting them to competitions or markets wherever possible.

So far, I've had an acceptance from The People's Friend (shortly before lockdown), a non-fiction article about to be published, a short story accepted for a lip-reading service, and just yesterday my first short story acceptance by Yours Fiction Special. Lots of other items still to be decided. It's a great way to focus the mind after reading the updated news.

Husband and I have settled into a new routine, both working in separate rooms until lunchtime, then enjoying our short daily walk in early afternoon. I've been watching and reading escapist material, but that's my preferred normal anyway!

The new series of Malory Towers has been great fun - I watched it all on BBC iPlayer. At the moment, husband and I are watching Anne with an 'E' on Netflix - a very good new series of Anne of Green Gables which is slightly grittier than those I've seen before.

I'm always reading of course, a paperback downstairs and a different novel on kindle at night. I'm enjoying the novel For my Sins by Alex Nye, about Mary Queen of Scots. One dystopian series I'm loving on kindle is After the Thaw by Heidi Catherine and Tamar Sloan. The prequel, Burning, is still free on kindle at the moment.

Stay safe and keep well!

Sunday 15 March 2020

Free Books

As the world tries to cope with the increasing Coronavirus pandemic, more people will find themselves in self-isolation or lockdown. One of the pleasures I’ve most enjoyed through any kind of crisis or concern is reading – escaping into the pages of someone else’s (fictional) life.

I’m fortunate enough to be a writer who works from home, although I love going out. My husband also has no need to leave the house if the worst happens. We have enough food to last a while, I can bake and cook, and we have a supermarket within walking distance as well as family nearby.

Some, however, will lose jobs and income and it might take many companies a long time to recover. There is little we can do, apart from continue to support food banks if possible and to avoid panic bulk-buying.

In light of all this, I’ve decided to offer some of my e-books FREE over the coming few weeks. I’m only allowed to do this for a limited time on Amazon, so I thought it best to stagger the giveaways. The schedule is included below so you can look out for any you might like – or to mention to your friends. It’s a small enough gesture and my apologies if you have read them all but at least it’s something I can do to spread the pleasure and escapism of reading.

Schedule for Free Books

March 16-20th inclusive

Dangerous Deceit: Full length Regency Novel
Beneath the Treetops: Short Story Collection
Venetian Interlude: Contemporary Novella

March 22-26th inclusive

The Highland Lass: Full Length Dual-timeline Scottish Novel
Summer of the Eagles: Tween Book
Scotland People and Places: Non-fiction Articles

March 27-31st inclusive

Mischief at Mulberry Manor: Victorian Gothic Mystery
End of the Road: Short Story Collection
The Aphrodite Assignment: Contemporary/mythological Novella

You can find them all on my Amazon Author Page if you want to read the blurbs.

Take care over the next few months,

Monday 2 March 2020

Learning Adventures

I've always loved learning ever since I was old enough to read and that has never changed through subsequent decades. I even studied as a mature student with the OU right up to a postgraduate Masters in Literature and History many years ago, when my two children were going through their own school and university exams.

These days, much of my learning comes from writing and research, especially since I like trying different forms and genres. In between the novels and novellas, I love to write short stories, articles, poetry and children's fiction. Now I've added drama to the list - a one-off perhaps, but I'll see how it goes and if it comes to anything!

So I do love this colourful poster that sits on the wall near my desk with its affirmation that Every Day is a Beautiful New Adventure. I've propped it above this unusual little plaque given to me by my best friend way back when we were both studying. It states: I am still learning and is attributed to Michelangelo.

Great encouragement to get those words down each day!


Monday 24 February 2020

Writing, Blogs and Bargain

Once again, time has run away, we’re more than halfway through February – and I’ve been neglecting my blog again. However, I have been writing shorter items and submitting them. I was delighted to have one acceptance from The People's Friend so far and one for an article submitted to an online magazine. More details when I have them!

The RNA is still celebrating this month of romance reading and any readers out there can join the very friendly Romantic Fiction Book Club on Facebook.

I’m very pleased to be on Brenda Whiteside’s blog on Monday 24th, mentioning a couple of the locations in my most recent novel, Highcrag. To mark the occasion, and the month of romance, Highcrag is being reduced for the very first time and for one week only to 99p (99c): 23rd Feb-1st March.

Highcrag is a little longer and darker than my previous novels but has some good five-star reviews so far. Here's a short blurb:

When Cate Stewart takes a job cataloguing the unusual library at Highcrag in Scotland, as she has a personal interest in the notorious Scottish witch trials of 16th and 17th century, the past begins to affect the present. As Samhain approaches, who can she trust?

It's already received some great five-star reviews but I only discovered this morning one on Amazon Australia from a top 500 reviewer that absolutely thrilled me as Mary Stewart is one of my all-time favourite romantic suspense writers:

"Enjoyable gothic romantic suspense, reminiscent of the old Mary Stewart books"  

Highcrag is available on Amazon UK, Amazon US or wherever you are, and the paperback can also be ordered through bookshops or via libraries.