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.


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...