Sunday, 9 February 2020

Books and Giveaways!

The Romantic Novelists Event from members of the Scottish Chapter of the RNA is well under way on Facebook.

With Novel Excerpts and Giveaways, do come and join us! These are some of the books and authors being highlighted over the weekend.


Sunday, 2 February 2020

Scottish Romantic Novelists Weekend

January went in quicker than I expected! Now that we're into February, it's a great month to focus on romance, not least because the 14th is St Valentine's Day.

This year is the Diamond Anniversary of the Romantic Novelists' Association and there are special events happening all over the country. Some members are organising bookshop or library events and a few are taking place on Facebook.

Throughout their sixty years, the RNA has seen many debut authors, and those who became more famous, come through their organisation. I began many years ago on their wonderful New Writers' Scheme and the first novel I submitted for a critique, Dangerous Deceit, went on to be published.

Members of the association have Chapters in different parts of the country, where members can get together to support each other and discuss romance writing. In Scotland, we are so spread across the country that we have a private Scottish Chapter Group on Facebook, and we try to meet up two or three times a year in real life.

To celebrate the RNA's 60th year, our Scottish Chapter is having a 'Meet Scottish Romantic Novelists' event next weekend on Facebook. It will run on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th, when lots of us will post excerpts or details of some of our books. Readers can interact with us and ask questions. Hopefully, some might discover a new favourite author!

Come along and meet us HERE.


Monday, 20 January 2020

In Celebration of Burns Night

This week, we’re leading up to Burns Night, which is celebrated all over the world on January 25th. Our national bard is one of the characters in the historical chapters of The Highland Lass. Although that's more about Highland Mary's story, Robert Burns does of course figure in it since he was Mary Campbell's great love. There's also a quote from Burns at the top of each historical chapter.

I’m 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!

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.

Slàinte Mhath! Good health!

Monday, 13 January 2020

Highcrag in Print with Ingram Spark

I've been updating all my books so they're available in print on Amazon, using their very good printing service.

However, I'm also publishing my three Scottish novels, to begin with, through Ingram Spark as well. It's been a learning curve, trying to get them exactly the way they should be formatted before uploading to their site. I also had to get a paperback version of the covers absolutely correct in Pdf!

Although I have no problem doing kindle covers, the paperback version defeated me so I found a very good creator on who has been converting them to paperback covers for me. And now the first paperback from Ingram Spark is available!

Highcrag has its own ISBN (978-1-9162577-1-9) and can now be ordered from bookshops and through libraries. Ingram Spark distribute through a large number of UK (and global) companies such as Gardners and Bertrams in the UK, which should supply most bookshops and libraries.

This is quite an exciting development for me, although I don't know if it will be worth it in the end, but it's another way in which readers can access some of my books, especially for those who prefer print.

So now the paperback is available from Amazon UK, Amazon US and worldwide.
And from your local bookshop, or ordered through your library. I've just discovered it's on Waterstones website!

Return to Kilcraig will be available later this week and thereafter it will be The Highland Lass, though I still to have the paperback Pdf for that.


Sunday, 5 January 2020

Organising the New Year

Apart from after the summer holidays, this is my favourite time of year for getting organised for the months ahead. I don't make resolutions, or even concrete plans, but I do like to clear up and tidy out desk drawers, files and photos.

I also write a rough list of what I hope to finish during the year (it's usually finish because of all the things I start and don't complete!). This year, it includes the following (hopefully):
  • completing a novella for spring
  • finishing a novel by summer (to pitch at the RNA conference) that's been on the go too long
  • developing/continuing with the first of a new series of novels in a different genre
  • more articles for The Highlander Magazine in the US
  • more short stories for the PF and other markets/comps (if inspired enough)
  • sending out another couple of children's stories
  • rewriting/submitting more poetry
  • keeping up with promotion/marketing opportunities for the books already published
I've already republished just about all of my books now, with new website details inside and putting them into print - only a couple to go. I'd also like to make better use of the lovely Creativity Journal daughter gave me last Christmas as it fell by the wayside last year.

Obviously the novels (and even novella) take up the bulk of time, for writing, thinking and researching, but I do enjoy shorter forms of creativity in between.

If I didn't write with pen and paper in a café at least once a week, and on my train journeys to Glasgow or Edinburgh, I wouldn't get nearly as much done! It must partly be due to being away from the computer. I refuse to use a smart phone of any kind with Internet connection as I know myself too well (being tempted to look at social media instead of writing) so I'll hang on to my trusty old Nokia for a while yet - at least it has a camera.

Hope your own plans for the writing year ahead are taking shape.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy Hogmanay from Scotland! 

Wishing you a very 
Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2020

Here's a good mindfulness quote to set us off on the right track!

'Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.'

Thursday, 26 December 2019

The Jigsaw Puzzle

My mystery for 8-10 year olds (and the young at heart), set in the Scottish countryside between Christmas and New Year, is only 99p (99c) for the next few days! 

Playing around with a little video this morning...

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Winter Solstice

To encourage some more visits to my new website, I've posted a piece about the Winter Solstice on the blog there. It's similar to one I've posted on blogger before, but you can read it here if you wish!

I also wanted an excuse to use this photo again that I'm rather proud of!


Tuesday, 17 December 2019

FREE Non-fiction Collection

A quick note to say that the e-book version of my collection of seventeen articles, Scotland People and Places, is FREE to download on Amazon until 18th December!


Sunday, 8 December 2019

Writing Encouragement

Now that my latest novel is out and everything is geared to getting ready for Christmas over the next couple of weeks, it’s a lovely bonus to see success in other parts of my writing. It also reminds me how much I enjoy the variety of shorter items in different genres, and I think this will always be my first creative love.

I’ve had many articles on Scottish history, people and places published in The Highlander magazine in the USA and I’m delighted that my latest one was published in the new issue  - the kind editor has also accepted another. The fact I get paid right away is another plus, compared to waiting to see if books sell for their royalties.

I’ve also started writing new short stories now and then and I’m so pleased to have an editor at The People’s Friend. He is passing on two of my stories for the next stage to be considered for publication. Can’t wait to see if and when they appear!

Another type of writing that I really enjoy is stories for children of different ages. I was delighted when online publication Smarty Pants published my Tin-Can-Man story in November. Now they’ve just published my little Fern’s First Winter story and I love the illustrations they provide!

So much encouragement to keep writing in whatever way inspires my imagination and creativity. When it also leads to payment, that’s even more incentive although, like most writers, I mainly want readers to enjoy my stories.

If you're interested in my collection of articles on Scotland people and Places, or any of my short story collections, you can find them on Amazon UK and Amazon US in e-book and paperback.

On with the Christmas preparations now!