Excited Are us – Nothing to do with Christmas

I can’t tell you how excited I was to open a mail from the lovely Sarah Quirke and discover she wanted Mariah’s Marriage for Ulverscoft’s Linford Romance line

I read Sarah’s interview on the Romantic Novelists’ Association blog  October 17th and was struck by her answer to who was her typical reader. She thought there wasn’t one as so many people have eye problems. Everything is considered and this chimed exactly with a family memory.

Diabetes left my mum’s sight seriously compromised but, after cataract ops, she was able to return to reading Large Print books. We found a box of discontinued ones at a church sale and I was truly surprised by her choices from it. If I’d simple bought some and taken them to her, she wouldn’t have had some that she turned out to be keen on.

So, a double celebration, because romance was my mum’s favourite genre. Large print and Talking Books were a Godsend for her in her later years. I’m really thrilled that one of my titles will be appearing in large print in due course.

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Plot, structure characters, but the greatest of these is characters.

I’ve been struggling with a plot glitch for some weeks now and sinking into what’s looking seriously like writers’ block. I could not find a way to write the scene I saw so clearly in my mind’s eye. Why?


That’s why. You (generic writer you) can always tell that the plot is frog-marching everyone to a conclusion when the characters begin to grimace. Then they girn and then they go back into lurk and everything stops.

So why was this? The answer – and I really hope it is an answer- was in the structure. Cart before horse again and I saw it, but I didn’t see it. And now I do. So lots of hard work just when the Festive season is making demands.

Are you a writer? What stops you in your writing tracks?

http://goo.gl/4LWt1H Mariah’s Marriage UK

http://goo.gl/JjY907 Mariah’s Marriage US

http://goo.gl/P3lmzk Bella’s Betrothal UK

http://goo.gl/7mh8FI Bella’s Betrothal US




COURTING THE COUNTESS by Anne Stenhouse opens in the English Border country 1819 and moves quickly to Edinburgh’s George Square, a fashionable address of that period.








Lady Melissa Pateley is not having an easy time of it.

Her beloved husband Neville has died, and a fire at her London home has left her covered in scars. If it wasn’t for a band of loyal servants, she’s not sure how she would survive. Things take a turn for the worse when one day, Colonel Harry Gunn and his fellow soldier Zed break into her home, bundle her into a coach and kidnap her.
She is at a loss until she learns that Harry Gunn is the cousin of George Gunn, a man who has been stalking her for years, and that Harry’s Uncle John had warned him that as long as George is out there, Melissa is not safe.
Uncle John insists that Harry finds Melissa and keeps her safe.
But that very night George shows up at Harry’s home with Harry’s sister Lottie, who thinks Melissa and George would make a good match.
Perhaps Melissa would have been safer at home after all.
Yet even with her scars, she is certain that the handsome Colonel Gunn is attracted to her. But of course, nothing is ever simple.
Startling revelations rip the family apart, causing everyone to question what they once held dear.
As Colonel Gunn goes in search of George and the truth, he has to wonder – had the keeping of secrets not marred more lives than the secrets would have destroyed?

Amazon UK  US  CA DE AU






MuseItUp and amazon. Links are below. What’s it about? Back to London for this one, 1822, when Lady Daisy, sister of Tobias, Earl of Mellon, is recovering from food poisoning.Lady Daisy was one of those secondary characters who simply cried out for a place to tell her own story. So, here it is:

Lady Daisy should be ecstatic when her brother, the earl, allows Mr. John Brent to propose. She’s been plotting their marriage for two years. However, she is surprised to find herself underwhelmed and blames their distant cousin, Reuben, for unsettling her.
Reuben Longreach wonders whether the earl understands the first thing about Daisy’s nature and her need for a life with more drama than the Season allows. It’s abundantly clear to him that Daisy and John are not suited, but the minx accepts his proposal nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Daisy hatches a plan to attach Reuben to her beautiful, beleaguered Scots cousin, Elspeth. Little does she know that Elspeth is the focus of a more sinister plot that threatens Daisy too.
Will Reuben be able to thwart the forces surrounding Daisy before she is irretrievably tied to John? Will Daisy find the maturity to recognise her dilemma may be of her own making before it’s too late?

amazon UK and US or  MuseItUp or kobo


Mariah’s Marriage Mariah Fox is dedicated to being a teacher in 1822 London, but when Tobias, Earl of Mellon saves her from a charging pig, her world view is disturbed forever.

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Bella’s Betrothal comes north to Edinburgh in 1826. Bella is fleeing scandal and an unhappy home when architect and laird, Charles Lindsay invades her room at the inn. Is he a rescuer or a danger?

An Edinburgh skyscape for Bella

An Edinburgh skyscape for Bella



It’s One Year Today since MARIAH’S MARRIAGE was published by MuseItUp of Canada.

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Happy Birthday. Miss Mariah Fox.

In the months since Mariah hit the e-publishing shelves.my writing life has changed in so many ways. Here are a few:

Social Media I’ve been blogging for a very long time. I had a blog on Writelink’s site for months before Mariah was published and wrote short updates of my writing experiences and how the various anecdotes I quoted fitted into what I wrote next. I was never able to crack the posting of photos on there and that is the first change. I can do photos.

Muse Banner Mariah's Marriage

This one shows the 2013 line-up for the Joan Hessayon award in London. Mariah’s Marriage didn’t win but I had a wonderful evening. So much so, I’m going again this year to support several friends who are listed for 2014.

Change Number Two get along and say hullo. Whether it’s electronically such as on another writer’s blog, or in person, if you’re in a market, you need to be seen. I’ve almost got my pathological need to lurk under control.

Change Number Three Write another one. Surely you’re always doing that? you ask in surprise. Surely I am, but this ‘another’ one is the picking up of a character’s story from Mariah’s Marriage. It’s one of the most difficult writing tasks I’ve ever undertaken, but I completed, edited, agonised and pressed send a few weeks ago. Waiting to hear.

Change Number Four Participate. Before Mariah’s Marriage was published, I didn’t enter things like the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy competition at the annual conference of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, but this year I will. I didn’t join in blog hops (didn’t know there were blog hops). I knew nothing of Twitter and my Facebook a/c was languishing. Goodreads ?? Well, Mariah’s Marriage necessitated changes in attitude all right. It’s the shop front and the shelves need dressing.

A copy of Mariah’s Marriage is on offer to one person, randomly selected, who leaves a comment before Midnight UK time, 10th May 2014. I’d love to hear from you. Did full length publication make changes in your writing life? Anne


http://goo.gl/pASdjp Mariah’s Marriage amazon US
http://goo.gl/NxYxj5 Mariah’s Marriage UK
http://goo.gl/PKptQg Bella’s Betrothal US
http://goo.gl/5RBzIm Bella’s Betrothal UK




International Stages

Water Puppeteers – Vietnam

I’ve been on holiday.






This blog has been shamefully neglected for several months and I’m really sorry about that. However, there is a reason. If you occasionally wander over to Novels Now where I write about my prose work, you will know there have been two historical romances published by MuseItUp this year under my name.

MARIAH’S MARRIAGE and BELLA’S BETROTHAL are available from many online retailers including amazon:

http://goo.gl/NxYxj5 Mariah’s Marriage

http://goo.gl/5RBzIm Bella’s Betrothal

http://goo.gl/f0zFKa MuseItUp’s Bookstore.

They are dialogue rich (would you expect anything else?) books with a lot of between the sexes humour and a frisson of the dark and dangerous underworld of nineteenth century London and Edinburgh.

The drama you ask. What about the drama?

From the picture at the top of this post you can see I was in Vietnam and while there visited Water Puppet shows. The first in Han Noi was in a dedicated tourist theatre. There was a host of lovely folk tales and excellent work with the dragons, fishermen, snakes et al. It was, however, spoiled for me by the constant photography of other audience members. Doesn’t it occur to these selfish peple that if they hold their dinky little camera above their heads for a minute, nobody sitting behind them can see the stage?

Do they care?

The second puppet show was out in the country and a much warmer experience. That’s the one photographed above. More dragons and excellent workmanship and nobody getting between the audience and the performers.

Home again and I’ve seen Crime and Punishment, adapted from the Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel by Chris Hannan, at the Royal Lyceum theatre.

Sadly the run is now finished, and the Edinburgh performances came after the Citizens and Liverpool. It was so good and brought the huge canvas of Russia and its slum people to an audience who might not know much about them. I didn’t and left feeling entertained and enriched.

An ensemble cast gave excellent support to Adam Best playing Raskolnikov. The stage was cluttered with their props and odd chairs, but everything came into its own and the movement from back to front to back was like a mirror of what it’s like to live in such massing, seething crowds.

I was abroad during Dark Road’s run.

I also enjoyed two Matinée + evening days at Pitlochry this summer. Enjoyed it all and made a first tour of the Plant Hunters’ Garden which I really recommend. Talk about hidden gems. It’s really worth getting there a little early for.



NaNoWriMo – Everybody’s Doing It

Participant 73x73

Okay so maybe everybody who signed up for NaNoWriMo isn’t doing it. One or two of the buddies (that’s a technical term meaning writing friends!) haven’t posted any words at all so far.

Life gets in the Way where a high pressure undertaking like NaNo is concerned. I don’t usually post about family matters, so I won’t, but there’s been a certain measure of other pressure to deal with. It means that I don’t expect to reach 50,000 words in NaNo, but I will be much further on than I was. So come on buddies, don’t keep us in suspense – how’re you doing?

Write A Novel In A Month – Everybody’s Doing It – and now some publishers are asking to read the results. Mills and Boon UK, for example, have offered to read any romances submitted by 7th December and offer a decision by 21st December. That’s quite something. Don’t get carried away though folks – they do have lines and your submission would need to match one of those.

Didn’t see any theatre last week – see above at family pressures, but hope to catch something soon. Plenty in the Snippets column for those interested.

NaNoWriMo Update Everybody’s doing It

Participant 100x100 (2)     I’m not on target, but my NaNoWriMo is very nearly on target.

Highlights of NaNo include meeting lots of Edinburgh and Scottish writers I knew not of before.

A carriage full of lovely characters have been driven onto the screen by NaNo. They’ve been around since New voices 2011. I’m now hearing them talk – truly necessary for the way I write a play or a novel.

Today, I hope, the villain is going to slither from his hole. Who knows.

NaNoWriMo is all consuming – although life clearly gets in the way – now at 16,000 words.

I did make time to get to Tightlaced theatre’s double bill at the Storytelling Centre. Charlie & My ’45 by Robert Howat explored the exploitation of the young by war-mongering old men and the power hungry. A rather bleak exploration, but hit the mark for Remembrance week, I thought. The other play by Fiona McDonald, I Promise I shall Not Play Billiards, showed much writing promise. Using four actresses (yes, I’m unreconstructed – they were women) to good dramatic effect to explore a divided personality, McDonald re-told the story of Madeleine Smith. Perhaps relied a little heavily on what the audience would know about the girl found Not Proven of the murder of her lover/paramour/friend, but overall interst holding. Debbie Cannon’s performance as the baddie stood out for me. Titles are important and this play’s was counter-productive for me. Tightlaced theatre are bringing great productions to the Story Telling theatre.


Participant 100x100 (2)

Writing a novel in a month – not possible? Everybody’s doing it.

Everybody’s writing novels, or would like to write novels, or has a novel in them. Some novels you read look as if they were written in a month and never re-visited before hitting the shelves.

I’ve tried writing a novel in a month myself. Radio Scotland ran events in Februarys – that time of the year when you do need a kick start – and I tried my hand. It was energising. So I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo in order to push up the word count on my second novel.

What’s this? Second? Yes, everybody’s doing it. Even me.

Lovely MuseItUp of Canada are to e-publish my first novel in Mayish time, 2013. There will be further details…

Back to the present. I may update my progress here from time to time, but on the other hand, November has its own pressures in my family. It, lack of progress, may be too embarrassing.

On the subject of plays. I did see The Guid Sisters. Even now, I find it hard to describe the disappointment. Where was the plot? I stayed to the end, but I’ve spoken to people who simply couldn’t. I do so hope A Midsummer Night’s Dream is going to be better. Please.

Later in the month, writing permitting, I’m hoping to catch Tight-Laced Theatre’s new production at The Story-Telling Centre in Edinburgh. More from Robert Howat, Charlie & My ’45 together with Fiona McDonald’s I Promise I shall Not Play Billiards. Box Office 0131-556 9579  Check out Robert’s FB page for a smouldering hero to challenge James Bond.

Write a novel in a month – go on – everybody’s doing it.