Showing posts from 2010

Quick update...

We're back in Blighty!

We had an amazing trip, saw lots of sights, walked many miles across NYC, went for a drive in Idaho hills and snow-shoeing near Vancouver, CA. During the holidays, I'll be posting up a diary blog of our trip, together with some of the 1,000 photos I took along the way.

The best bit: Vancouver! :-)

Oh, while I was away I received the second round of edits of Highland Arms. Busy days ahead!

Now, looking outside is wonderful. A fresh blanket of snow has turned the garden into a winter wonderland again. Beautiful!

More soon...

Preparations for the big break

Today was a busy day for us, getting bits 'n' bobs organised.

We'll be flying out later this week. Exciting and scary. Exciting for the obvious reasons - holiday abroad. Scary for another reason - paperwork!

Today we went and got a new oil filled radiator for the bedroom - our storage heater in there isn't 't enough to keep the room warm in the evenings. We had a lovely electric fire but earlier this week it gave up the ghost. Bad timing. Mum likes it warm! ;-)

So off we went and got a small radiator, and a new case as one of our two big cases is wonky. No point if we have to drag it around with us for three weeks. Shiny new 'expanding' (!) case for moi!

Also got some fab boots for the evening meals out, and the opera. Can't march into the Met in worn, red hiking boots, can I? And a pair of slingback mules. Both with wooden soles. And nicely reduced! Oh, and a pair of skinny jeans (ignoring my not-exactly-skinny middle), and leggins for under my short blue …

The Big Trip across the Pond

Well, I'll get to our trip of a lifetime shortly but first an update on Highland Arms - soon I'll be jumping into round 2 of edits. Can't wait to get stuck in again although I'm just at a crucial point in my current WIP - where the MMC is called home to Normandy, leaving England at a crucial point in time. Have started to dig out my 'research photos' (aka holiday snaps) from Normandy and Perche to get back into the setting.

But both jobs are going to be slow for three weeks - as hubby and I are heading to the US of A! :-)

Next week we're going to fly to New York where we'll stay five days. Plenty to see so we'll be busy. Then it's 'go west' as we head for Oregon, to stay in the town of Medford, visiting my aunt. We have never met so there's lots to catch up on. Three days later we travel onwards, to Boise, Idaho. There - for the first time since we got in contact in October 2010 - I'll meet my half-sister. Both visits will be quit…


Last weekend we paid a long-overdue visit to our best friends in South Wales. They had just bought a new house and spent two months redecorating, so we just had to go have a nosy.

The house is lovely, spacious, in a quiet dead-end lane with friendly neighbours. It was fab to see our friends so well settled so quickly.

Of course we had to squeeze in a few things to do. We arrived on Thursday and enjoyed a recce of the house, some bubbly to celebrate and a yummy fish dinner (ginger, anyone?). Altogether a leisurely, relaxed time catching up.

Friday we took to our feet and walked across the valley up the hill on the other side, passing a private plot with chickens and ducks, all filthy from mud-drenched ground after the recent rains. The chickens were so curious, within a couple of minutes they'd gathered inside the fence staring at us intruders.

Then the hike up the hill began, with regular stops for snaps. We were looking for a pub our friends remembered from years ago but, traipsing a…

My Hideaway

Following on from Lady Tess's lovely post with pics of her home office, and her query for a shot of our cats on my office window sill, I simply had to oblige and reveal my hidey hole.

Well, you could almost literally call it a hole - it's our small spare (single) bedroom. After years of use for visitors or drying the washing only, DH recently re-painted the walls a warm yellow (ideal to brighten up the room on a gloomy Scottish day such as today). We also bought a new desk, a bookshelf to fit above it (still awaiting its turn), and number of nice photo frames and picked some decent pics for the walls. Oh, and a sheepskin to keep my feet cosy.

So let the tour begin:
The usual view. A Scottish autumn day - the stable yard drenched, and the Pentland Hills hidden by low cloud, with the odd ray of sunshine just about to squeeze through. For five seconds.

My desk, with an array of medieval history books, currently about my favourite family - the Angevins, a Thesaurus and The Oxford Libr…

Scottish Dialects in Novels

"Och aye." "Nae bother." "Ye dinna ken."

Readers of Scottish historical novels can't avoid coming across Scottish accents - whether they like them or not.

A well-balanced accent gives readers the experience of 'hearing' the characters, their speech a sign of heritage, upbringing and culture. Sometimes, different accents are used to denote regional differences. This is more in line with the reality of the day, I believe, but quite difficult to achieve. Modern Scots still have different dialects, east from west and north from south. What's 'ye' for some, is 'yoo' for others, and even the odd 'ya' appears in places.

So how does a writer get a right balance? It's a tricky one.

As a (non-Scottish) resident in Scotland I have an issue with the over-use of dialects in fiction. Hints of a lilt are fine, but the continuous use of dialects - especially in characters from different corners of the country using the same speech…

A Day out in the Scottish Borders

We have been very lucky recently - after a dismal, grey August we are experiencing a lovely, sunny late summer. ~bounce~

So, to enjoy this rare phenomenon, hubby and I took the car for a countryside ride down into the Borders. We came through Roslin, home to Rosslyn Chapel, where we thought briefly of stopping to have lunch but decided against it. Couldn't see many coaches so I guess the main season is over. We haven't been to the chapel in four years - prices are too steep nowadays.

After driving through rolling hills and green fields, passing sheep, cows and a herd of Highland coos we finally stopped off in Peebles, a market town in the Borders.

We had been before and liked it as it's a picturesque town, surrounded by green hills, with the river Tweed separating the main hub from a residential area. We enjoyed a pint with a pub meal of generous portions at the Country Inn on the High Street - a cosy, dark pub with wooden panels. Given the size of the portions - hubby had tw…

My cover!

Ooohh, just my design for the cover for Highland Arms - and it's gorgeous! :-)

I love the dark atmosphere, the stunning scenery (water and hills with threatening cloud), and of course the well-formed hunk in a kilt. The way the images blend into each other is just so clever. And the font is perfect. My thanks to Nicola Martinez, the incredibly talented cover artist at TWRP.

So... what do you think?

C xx

And then it's all over ...

... for another year!

I'm talking about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, of course.

Four weeks of late nights, several missed afternoon sessions (thanks, Work!), a little - but sadly not enough - time spent with a visiting friend, hot dogs of different kinds at every venue for lack of choice, and joining hundreds of people queuing patiently.

Most shows I managed to get to were fantastic, some were ok, and only a couple were a little underwhelming. I won't mention those as the official reviewers have already left their no doubt harsh mark.

Sooo, you want names, I hear? Right. Here come the most memorable ones.

In early August we went back to an 'old' favourite of ours - a sketch show of a different kind. Intelligent. All-female. And very funny. Hat off to Ladygarden. Quirky, hilarious, quick, sarcastic, not afraid to take the mickey. A fantastic show second year running. 4.5*

Another memorable act was Russell Kane - who now won the Edinburgh Comedy Award for best act 2010. His…

Edinburgh in August

Edinburgh’s heaving. Yes, it’s festival time again. The time when clever locals run for the hills. Or Spain. So when better to face the crowds than a sunny if breezy Saturday afternoon in August?Well, our day started well – with a Radio 4 show being recorded at the Pleasance. Nice and light entertainment. Once the show was done, we had to cross the city to get to the place we’d decided to have lunch. Walking along bustling streets, people walked in the middle of the pavement, bumping into us. Some made way, just as we did, walking in line. Others – or rather, most – didn’t. Walking 3 or 4 abreast, chatting and completely ignorant of other pedestrians coming towards them, they obviously expected us to happily jump off the pavement onto the street. No, hon. The pavement doesn’t have a one-way system.So out came the elbow! In extreme cases, I just stopped, making one of them swerve around me. Pokey poke went the elbow. Hellooo!!! Funnily enough I didn’t get any abuse. Just strange looks.…

New location photos uploaded

All the paperwork's now with my editor at TWRP so we're all set to go. Can't wait to start editing HA now. There are a few bits where I made Rory a bit of a nasty piece of work and didn't know at the time how to change him to someone more sympathetic as it would have spoilt the scenes. So I'm looking forward to my editor's suggestions & comments. Exciting!

Just uploaded new pics on my website at Go check them out! The latest three pics are shots from Normandy, two of Falaise Castle (or what little is left of it - though the internal exhibition tour is amazing!) and the third is the Tour Marguerite - the only remaining city tower of Argentan from the 12th century. Just standing outside it was an amazing moment.

Digging out those pics makes me want to go back to Normandy. Fingers crossed I'll make it next year... ;-)

Blog and website? Of course!

I'm sure you're chuffed to hear I've decided to keep this blog going. It's dark, just like the mysteries I write about. And I have lovely followers. :-) This means I have to transfer posts manually but hey, the more exposure the better. Oh, I'm talking blogs here, of course!

Some news coming up soon. Fab news. Exciting news. Very soon. Just got to finalise the details and then all shall be revealed. ~bounce~

So please stay with me here for rants, ravings and news on my writing but for excerpts and additional details please check out my new website -

I'll be back soon!


Exciting news - website coming soon!

Now that I've completed Highland Arms, am 2/3 through A Doubtful Allegiance (working title), not to mention the contemporary suspense I started a few months ago, I thought it was time to set up my own website.

So I have just bought the domain and I'm busy looking at designs that suit my style best. Unfortunately that means that I'll have to move this blog. Shame, as I love the current template.

It's all very much in progress but soon you'll be able to find news and excerpts on - if you head there now you can already sign up for future updates. :-)

Hope to see you all 'over there' soon.

Hugs, C xx

Full MS submitted to The Wild Rose Press

I'm chuffed to bits - The Wild Rose Press asked for a full submission of my romantic 1720s Scottish mystery, Highland Arms! ~bounce~ ;-)

Although the day job has the upper hand at the moment - the usual setting up the Halls to cater for summer business - I managed to polish Highland Arms to a fine glow before I sent it off to the Historicals editor last weekend. Now the waiting game begins in full.

Fortunately I don't have time during the day for nail-biting, and with getting back home late and early sleeps it's perhaps a little easier than during a quiet period in work when there would be no distraction whatsoever. So maybe it's just as well I'm running my socks off...

Still, the butterflies in my tummy never go away completely and I'm extremely nervous. I really really hope she likes the story and the romantic element is strong enough. My issue usually is that my stories are more plot-driven - historicals offer such a perfect settings that you could easily run a…

The waiting game

Last week I submitted my query and submission to The Wild Rose Press, a growing publisher I've known of for a while. I've read ebooks by several of their authors - Monique deVere, Beth Trissel and Cheryl Pierson to name a few. So I thought this would be a great place for Highland Arms as I think it fits their bill perfectly, combining compelling plots with intriguing characters. Their books are not just about a simple, easy romance but rather about personal development of characters, often overcoming tough obstacles to get to the happy end.

So I ended up submitting my synopsis. And two days later I received a request for a partial, the first three chapters of HA. I was ecstatic. ~bounce~

So a manic rush to polish those three chapters to perfection (well, as close as I could get, I suppose) ensued. Finally, on Friday night I was content with the result and sent the chapters through.

Now it's the case of trying not to chew my nails. In the meantime, I'm going through the re…

A Day in the Ancient Kingdom of Fife

We took our car for a leisurely ride along the coastal route to St Andrews. Starting mid-morning, we had plenty of time. The sun was shining, temperatures warn, our obligatory bottles of water, and off we went.

Shortly after the Forth Road Bridge, we turned off after the North Queensferry exit (we've been there several times) and the rolling Fife countryside surrounded us. We took our time, ambling along windy roads - and no, I did not hold faster people up! (Bugbear of mine, so I don't do it to others. LOL)

The one place that struck us as lovely was Aberdour so we decided to stop on a country walks car park. Bottles in hand, we wandered off aimlessly, along the cliffside, towards the small town. And what a picturesque place it is. Immediately our thoughts went to finding a place to rent or even buy here. The small beach was clean, as were all the streets. Coming from dirty Edinburgh roads, we were in heaven. We explored the narrow lanes, and fell in love with the town. We'l…

Writing on the Move

Last Sunday I took the train down to Manchester for a one day course in Copywriting on Monday. I had deemed it a waste of my time to drive all the way, alone, when I could instead sit, chill - and work!

And although I had someone sitting next to me (at the seats with a table!), I still managed to edit an older version of my wip, and cut it into a new chapter. It's amazing how much new stuff you learn over the years, even after having finished the Creative/Novel Writing course 2 years ago. So out with the old - and in with the revised! ;-)

Having spent all afternoon on my Macbook, I decided that the evening was perfect for reading. I had just uploaded an as yet unpubbed ms from a fellow writer, so I was happy to delve into the story. I do love a fine sense of humour in Regency romance.

Just over 24 hours later, I continued my editing bonanza, adding another revised chapter, plus a completely new one. Very happy with the result! With music from my itunes in my ears, I occasionally paus…

Nerves are frayed

I guess the feeling never changes.

Nerves are frayed, all kinds of thoughts run through your mind, and your nails never grow long enough to shine with a bright coat of varnish as they're kept bitten to the core.

Yes, it's the feverish anticipation for a response from a publisher. I must admit that I've only submitted one query with a partial in all my years of writing. Yet here I am, checking my personal email several times a day for news. Any news. Hopefully good news!

This sub left my mailbox 15 weeks ago. Now I'm kindly informed by a helpful, successful writer that the cut off time for tentative enquiries as to your ms's whereabouts is 20 weeks! Ouch! My, how much does that test anyone's patience?! LOL

I hope to submit a query for Doubtful Allegiance once I'm closer to the end. This is likely to be by June. No point submitting it earlier, as my daily working life might interfere too much to allow me to devote enough time to guide it to a fantastic ending. Bu…

Historical vs Contemporary Mystery

After several years of playing around with historical WIPs (at home and in writing courses), I finally completed and submitted a ms in the winter. Of course, the subbed version varied much from the first drafts; even the storyline took a different turn than originally intended. But it all worked in its favour. As it's been 14 weeks since I submitted, I'm going to wait another two before I send a query email. I just want to know what's going to happen with it. Yes, patience is not one of my strong points, I'm afraid...

Since January, I've been working on re-editing an older WIP which is 2/3 completed. Thankfully, my eagle-eyed crit girls seem to like it so I hope to move forward quickly with it and get it finished by the summer when my daily workload's going to explode for three months.

But during a recent trip to the continent, I travelled with a group of three old friends by car to Austria. On the journey back after a couple of fun, but a bit hectic days, we al…

Hurrah! Spring has arrived!

Dare we hope?

Barely 10 days ago we had a sudden freeze with several inches of snow, and Easter was a complete washout. Not that I had a chance to notice, having to work Good Friday and Easter Monday. But it was a shame for friends who wanted to go camping. Soggy fields and mudbaths are not the signs of a good weekend away.

But finally the tide appears to have turned. The last few days turned milder. And it stayed dry! I know! I could scarcely believe it either. :-)

Today has begun sunny, with a few fluffy clouds scattered across the sky. So far so good. Time to get the washing on, to hang outside. And this lovely spell is said to continue. So DH and I will spend some time in our garden. Last year, we did this a few weeks earlier but our long, cold winter made my poor plants shiver. And a couple even died.

I think today will be the day to visit the garden centre, and to fill our small square outside with colour. There's nothing more uplifting than a garden in bloom, full of sunshine.


Historical Research

Writing believable historical fiction requires at least some idea of the customs, politics and way of life of the period you choose to write about. The importance of such knowledge varies, depending on genre and storyline, but getting the basics right is vital for your credibility as a writer.

In general historical fiction, where the politics of the day might interfere with the MC's life, it is crucial to get your facts right. And there are no excuses! Nowadays, it's fairly easy to read up about kings and queens, political parties and the differences in roles between nobility, gentry and the working classes. There are huge resources available online, that even just a decade ago seemed unobtainable. And, of course, there's always the fat volume of a history book to browse in and take notes. Most libraries can get you copies of the most relevant tomes.

Without turning your story into such a history book, you would want your characters to be as close to the real thing as you c…

Excerpt uploaded

So, to start this blog off in style, I've posted a small excerpt of my current WIP, A Doubtful Allegiance. Set in 1140s England, in the middle of a civil war, allegiances change like the wind. So who can my heroine trust?

This ms is 2/3 completed but after a break of around two years, I've just returned to edit it from chapter one, and of course to complete it. I've just posted my chapter four to my crit group, a wonderful bunch of girls who always spot the slightest misstep. Their eagle eyes help me alot.

But in order to move on with the story, I have to re-visit Normandy. Alas, only in the world of the internet. Not on my list of places to travel to this year. Best get on with it. The county of Perche awaits!

Writing historical romantic mystery

Oh, it's such fun - creating lives of people in days long gone. The adventure. The dangers. The possibilities.

I love bringing the past to life and intend to showcase some of my writing on this new blog. The Highlands of Scotland. England under the yoke of a civil war. Normandy under the rule of a family descended from the Devil. Oooh!

Please be patient while I set it all up. More to follow soon!