Clothe Your Characters


Clothe  your characters carefully because although Manners Maketh the Man, you are instantly attracted or repelled by the appearance of a new person and a lot of that effect is created by what they’re wearing.

early 2012 087Lady Macbeth’s Dress with Beetle wing decoration

Elegant? Tarty? One of the greatest examples of how clothes matter is Eliza Doolittle from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion – better known to most as My Fair Lady. Eliza’s beauty cannot be hidden, but her acceptance depends on much more. She’s the focus of an experiment in speech, but she’s also dressed to fit in with the people the professor wants her to mingle with.

Pretty Lady is the same. Julia Roberts character is so transformed by the cocktail dress, her man doesn’t at first ‘see’ her on that bar stool.

The excerpt I chose for MuseItUp’s Sunday Musings today, is this from Mariah’s Marriage:

“Peter sketched a tiny bow and Mariah knew he was still smarting from his dismissal the previous afternoon. He straightened and looked past her to study the two ladies making such elegant splashes of colour in the home where visitors usually wore un-dyed woollen garments of no colour and no particular cut. Mariah saw a combative light flash into his pale eyes. No doubt he recognised the resemblance between the women and the family likeness to Mr. Longreach.”

Throughout the book there is a tension between the fashionable and the intelligentsia who might very well ignore the egg stains on their waistcoat fronts. I think it adds to characterisation, but what do you think? Can you see the person inside the packaging?

Mariah’s Marriage UK amazon

US amazon

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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.

Mariahs Marriage 200x300








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.

Mariahs Marriage 200x300

Happy Birthday. Miss Mariah Fox.

In the months since Mariah hit the e-publishing 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 Mariah’s Marriage amazon US Mariah’s Marriage UK Bella’s Betrothal US 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: Mariah’s Marriage Bella’s Betrothal 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.




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.