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.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Newsletter and Amazon Countdown

Where, oh where did the last few weeks go? So much for me posting more regularly! I do have the excuse that I was adjudicating a short story competition for which I had to provide a written critique for each entry.

I really enjoy doing this but it is time consuming. I've adjudicated many over the years for other writing groups and for the Scottish Association of Writers conference and people are used to me giving a full critique! I must say, the winning story was one of the best I have read for a long time and I was not surprised to hear the author had been published before. A good standard overall.

Husband and I took the chance to have a couple of days revisiting our old area in the Scottish west coast - a whirlwind tour of some of our favourite spots. Then we stopped off in Glasgow on the way back home to have lunch at our favourite Chinese restaurant. Since it was the school break here, we also took our granddaughter out for a day to Edinburgh which was tiring but fun.

To get me back into the writing world, I've just sent out my Autumn newsletter which has a free read of one of the short stories from my End of the Road collection. If you wish to subscribe to the newsletter, just pop your name in the box at the side of the blog and once joined, you'll receive a small short story collection, Romantic Encounters.

From Monday 22nd until Friday 26th October inclusive, my two Regency novels, Dangerous Deceit and Midwinter Masquerade, will be only 99p (99c) each on Amazon countdown, in the UK and US.

I'll try and keep more up to date here, but since it's coming up to my birthday, I'll be out galivanting here and there enjoying lunches out with family and friends!


Sunday, 30 September 2018

Forward into Autumn

Now that the days are getting shorter and the nights are drawing in, I usually can't wait to get myself organised. This year, I'm having a little trouble focusing on what's important (writing wise) and finishing it in a methodical manner.

Perhaps I'm busier than normal, or have too much on the go at once - not unusual for me, although I thought I was improving the way I work! However, this is the first step - returning to the blog, and I hope I can keep it up from now until the end of the year. I'm aiming to restart the guest posts but only doing two a month instead of every week. In between, I'll aim for a variety of posts, if I can motivate myself enough.

And therein lies the problem at times. Motivation and Procrastination, both of which hold me back. Or perhaps it's a kinder way of telling me I'm lazy about writing, and not disciplined enough. Hopefully, some readers will understand what I mean.

So, to kick-start my better writing habits, I've brought a little timer upstairs to the study (not the one in the photo!). It's been in a kitchen drawer for years, and brought here when we moved, but has never been used. Then I remembered the Pomodoro Technique lots of writers were talking about and using a couple of years ago. I love the concept and imagine it might work for me - allowing 20 minutes or so to write, before taking a short break, then continuing in the same way for however long I can afford.

I also watched three videos presented by an American writer, Gabriela Pereira, who offers three free online videos and notes, appropriately titled Stop Dreaming, Start Doing as an introduction to her DIY MFA course. They were really useful and have given me a little more focus, if I can put her advice into practice. You can sign up for them here if interested.

Meanwhile, I have several writing tasks on the go, apart from my own work and becoming the new Membership Secretary for Edinburgh Writers' Club:
  • Talking about short stories at the Portobello Book Festival next Saturday 6th October
  • Adjudicating a short story competition for a writing group to be delivered mid-October
  • Adjudicating a romance novel award for the Scottish Association of Writers conference next March - the stories will start arriving towards the end of November
So I guess I'd better get on with the novel I'm meant to be finishing, as well as the edits for a middle grade book!


Sunday, 16 September 2018

Taking Stock

Sorry for the big gap in blog posts - I keep forgetting to update it this year and can't believe it's so long since I posted. It also means I've been neglecting to regularly read all the blogs I follow.

Dryburgh Abbey

We did go away for a couple of nights to the Scottish Borders which was exactly what we needed since not having a proper holiday for a couple of years. Now, I think I need to take stock of what and how often I'm going to post here, always much easier to organise when autumn has arrived.

I also have a few writing talks/adjudications coming up, which I need to prepare for!

So watch this space...


Saturday, 25 August 2018

Catching Up

I'm always full of good intentions about keeping the blog updated then soon fall behind again! Last weekend, I was really pleased to get the chance to meet up with online blogging and writing friend Patsy Davies and her husband Gary. My other half and I enjoyed coffee, cake and a natter at Linlithgow with them before they went off to explore this historic town where Mary Queen of Scots was born.

Linlithgow Palace from the Loch

During the week, I was at the Society of Authors in Scotland AGM and lunch in Edinburgh where it was great to catch up with many writing colleagues and hear what's happening in the society as a whole. The SoA works hard behind the scenes for authors and they'd even sent a young representative from London to update us with recent events.

Book Festival at Charlotte Square

Today, I was back at Edinburgh, at the International Book Festival, meeting up with some colleagues from Edinburgh Writers' Club for an informal get together at lunch time. The festival is a hugely popular event and, unfortunately, the spiegeltent was being used for talks so we had to find any space at all to grab a snack lunch. Hope we didn't miss too many members who might have been there. At least the sun was shining so the walk to and from Haymarket station was most enjoyable. Love this old church that's now a bar and restaurant called Ghillie Dhu.

Now I really have to knuckle down and try to finish the first draft of my new novel over the next few weeks, when I stop procrastinating!


Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Peebles, Books and The John Buchan Story

Road to the Borders

We had a great day out in Peebles, a Royal Burgh since 1152, in the Scottish Borders at the weekend. It was just long enough to do it in one day before driving back home, but we're planning to make a longer visit to explore the other Border towns later in the year.

River Tweed

Peebles is a lovely friendly town on the River Tweed, with smaller interesting shops along the High Street. Down one side street, I discovered Priorsford Books where I could happily have spent the rest of the day. I've never seen such a fabulous collection of second-hand children's books, as well as every other kind - all in good condition. I think they must have the whole set of The Chalet School books for instance, plus annuals of all kinds. Even the old magazines were beautifully preserved inside see-through covers.

How did I resist? Partly because there was so much choice that I didn't know where to start plus the small matter of having got rid of many books when we moved. Don't think husband would have appreciated me carting home lots more. However, I'll know where to buy a particular book if ever the need should arise.

After a very welcome lunch, we discovered the John Buchan Museum, which we hadn't realised existed. Both the husband and I have loved every film version of The 39 Steps, Buchan's most famous novel, published in 1915, so we were interested to find out more about him. And what a story it turned out to be about this popular Scottish writer.

Isn't it a shame that an author often becomes famous for only one book? We were amazed to discover Buchan was also a biographer, poet, historian, journalist, publisher and statesman with over 100 books to his name. And he became Governor General of Canada in 1935!

It was a fascinating half hour in the small museum where we even watched the short trailer for one of film versions of The 39 Steps. I hadn't realised his sister, Anna, was also a successful novelist with the pen-name, O Douglas, and that she and her other brother, Walter, were well-known residents of Peebles.

This is a only a little of the remarkable man's achievements, from his days at Glasgow University, to Oxford and his great sense of adventure that took him to South Africa, as well as Canada where he died in 1940, aged 65.

Looking forward to what we might discover in the other Border towns when we eventually get there!


Thursday, 9 August 2018

Introducing Author and Enterpreneur Wendy H Jones

A very warm welcome to author and marketing entrepreneur, Wendy H Jones, who has kindly agreed to share the inspiration behind her new series, Cass Claymore Investigates. I’ve already enjoyed the trademark humour in Wendy’s Killer crime series and I have no doubt there will be even more in this one. 

Wendy has also put her marketing knowledge into book form in her Power Packed Book Marketing – something many authors have been grateful to read! First a little about the new book.

Antiques and Alibis

Cass Claymore, a red headed, motorbike riding, ex-ballerina inherits a Detective Agency, and accidentally employs an ex-con dwarf and an octogenarian. Hired by a client who should know better, Cass has no leads, no clue and a complete inability to solve a case. Still a girl needs to eat and her highbred client’s offering good money.

Join her as, with bungling incompetence, she follows a trail littered with missing antique teddies, hapless crooks, a misplaced Lord of the Realm and dead bodies. Will Cass, and Scotland, survive?

The first Cass Claymore book, Antiques and Alibis, is available from Amazon and other platforms.

Inspiration Behind the Stories

Rosemary, thank you for the invite to your blog. It really is a pleasure to be here.

You’re very welcome, Wendy!

Today I would like to talk about inspiration in the hope it will help others on their writing journey. I also hope readers will find the post interesting and informative.

The saying goes that inspiration is slow in coming. In my case the opposite is true – my brain is so stuffed with stories it’s a job to decide which to follow first. My first series, the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, was inspired by a dream, or rather a nightmare. Yes, I know you shouldn’t start a story with a dream, and I didn’t. Honest guv. The book which arose from this, Killer’s Countdown, actually starts with a stand-off in a frozen Scottish wood. This has led to six books in the series, with the seventh, Killer’s Curse, being written as we speak.

On 1st August 2018 I launched a new series – Cass Claymore Investigates. Where the inspiration arrived for this one is anyone’s guess. I am a huge fan of Janet Evanovich’s comic crime series. I wondered if I could write a Scottish version of this, with less exploding cars of course. Dundee isn’t that big and if cars keep exploding there would be none left.

I brainstormed the most unlikely Private Investigator that Dundee could ever come across. I ended up with a red headed, motor bike riding ex-ballerina. A principal dancer with the Royal Ballet no less. Or at least she was. This Cass Claymore was born. Then the fun started. In strolled another character called Crammond McQuillan, an ex-con dwarf. The conversation went something like this.

Quill: Crammond McQuillan at your service. I’m your new character.

Me: No, you’re not. Shove off.

Quill: I’m afraid that’s not possible, I’m here to stay.

Me: Fine. (Through gritted teeth) I suppose you might come in useful.

Quill: Dear Lady, I’m one of the main characters.

And what a character he turned out to be. I’m so glad he turned up and is now Cass’s assistant. Sometimes the best ideas present themselves in the strangest of ways.

This series is not intended to take itself seriously. It’s comic crime where the laughs come thick and fast. A madcap caper through Scotland where the reader hangs onto the shirt-tails of the story and comes along for the ride.

My final words, when it comes to inspiration, let your imagination run wild.

Too true, Wendy. Thank you!

Wendy H. Jones is an award-winning Scottish Crime Writer who lives and sets her books in Dundee, Scotland. She is also an International Public Speaker talking about writing and marketing. Killer’s Crew, the first book in her DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries was the Winner of the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2017.

The Dagger’s Curse, the first book in her Young Adult mystery series, was a finalist in the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award 2017. She has signed a publishing contract with Malcolm Down and Sarah Grace Publishing for the first book in a children’s picture book series, based on a true story about a little Buffalo in Scotland. The first, Bertie’s Great Escape will be released late October 2018.

When she’s not writing, Wendy spends her time travelling the world. She is also President of the Scottish Association of Writers and co-founder of Crime at the Castle, a Scottish literary festival held at Glamis Castle Scotland.

You can find out more about Wendy on her Website; Twitter; Facebook; BookBub

Monday, 6 August 2018

Writers & Artists Children's Story Competition

I thought I'd bring this competition to your attention, in case anyone is particularly interested in writing for children. It's a little different, in that they are looking for a 'high concept', unique world setting - as opposed to a domestic, realistic story.

Courtesy of Pixabay

The other difference is that we only have to write around 2000 words maximum (aimed at 10 year-olds) to show we can bring the characters and situation to life - so not a beginning, middle, end type of submission! The closing date is 30th September.

I really like the idea as I've written a couple of books for this age group before (Summer of the Eagles and The Jigsaw Puzzle) and would love to give it a go. Only trouble is coming up with a good enough idea as mine are usually set in the real world with just a touch of fantasy! If you'd like to enter, you'll find the details on the Writers and Artists website.