About Me

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I write well researched but readable historical and contemporary novels and some non-fiction. I live in a Scottish country cottage with my artist husband. I love gardening and I also collect the fascinating antique textiles that often find their way into my fiction. This blog is about all these things and more!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Events Galore

Last week, I did three book events in quick succession, all of them enjoyable. But the first one, in Grantown on Spey, organised by the wonderful Marjory Marshall of the Bookmark, a splendid independent bookshop in the town, was extraordinary.

The shop is small, crammed with the kind of books you really want to read - if I lived there, I'd be in there three or four times a week - so the event was held in the Garth Hotel, just along the road, which was also where we were staying. It's a comfortable, typically Highland hotel and we'd go back in a heartbeat.

The audience, especially given that Grantown in reasonably small, was massive - the room in the hotel was crammed with people. Some had even travelled from Inverness. ('I'm very persuasive,' said Marjory, with a smile.) There was a singer too, a beautiful singer who accompanied herself on a Celtic harp and gave us all an idea of what Jean herself must have sounded like. Marjory runs three book groups connected to the shop, which means that there is an excellent baseline group of enthusiastic people to attend any events she organises. Grantown itself is wonderful, a neat little town, 'the kind of town where people seem to care about the place' as my husband pointed out, with lots of interesting little shops, real shops of the kind that disappeared from many lowland high streets a long time ago.

Our next stop was the Apex Hotel at the City Quay, in Dundee - a place we've visited many times, and love. It always feels like coming home, except that home doesn't have a spa, with a pool, a hot tub, and a sauna. And we don't have such a massive bed with fresh, cool cotton sheets, feather pillows. Oh, and a bedroom with a fabulous view. And another nice little duck to take away with us.

My events were in Waterstones, St Andrews - friendly and welcoming. The Jewel has been selling very well to tourists over the summer. And the following night, with lovely Peggy Hughes in the excellent Verdant Works museum in Dundee - a place that should be on any visitor's must-see list. All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Sales of the book are going well too!

Tomorrow, (Friday 23rd)  I'm heading off to Wigtown, to the book festival, to discuss Jean with Lee Randall, over tea and cakes - and then on Sunday, I'll be going to Irvine - closer to home - to take part in the Tidelines Book Festival at the Harbour Arts Centre.

After that, I'm a bit relieved to have a break before the next event! I have a big new project to work on, of which more in due course. But I should be able to get a good month's intensive writing done, before we head off to the Tarbert Book Festival at the end of October. Late November brings a clutch of events to mark Book Week Scotland, but not before I've visited Melrose Writers to talk about drama. A busy autumn ahead!

Friday, September 09, 2016

On Cleanliness

The author, back in the fifties. I look quite clean. 
We have been without a shower for three weeks and counting. (Mega building work in the bathroom) It has taken me right back to the fifties in industrial Yorkshire, when you had a bath every week (whether you needed it or not) and a lick and a promise at the sink for the rest of the week. I don't remember that we felt either dirty or smelly, and our clothes were certainly kept very clean, but we have got so used to the daily shower that if we don't have it we begin to feel incredibly downhearted.

God bless our lovely neighbours who have been letting us use theirs. What would we do without our friends?


Thursday, September 08, 2016

New Projects and Old Houses



I have a couple of new projects on the go, one of them at least involving plenty of research and plenty of writing.

Truth to tell, I can't wait. I'm at that stage of enchantment where I'm living with my characters and where I just want to leap right in, but I know that I'll need time, peace and a certain amount of quiet to devote to it all. And at present that's in short supply.

There are various reasons. I'm involved with a great many events, here there and everywhere, for The Jewel, and I'm certainly not complaining about that. Lots of people want to know all about Jean Armour and that's fine by me. If you check the events listing on the home page of my website you'll see exactly what I mean.

The other problem is that we've been having some work done on this old house. It's a lovely house, we've lived here for years and we love it to bits, but truth to tell, we could do with somewhere just a little bit easier to manage and with a slightly smaller garden. But there's work to be done and a massive decluttering exercise to be undertaken before we can even think of putting it on the market. I've already taken out four large boxes of books and guess what? I seem to have exactly the same shelf space as before.

Anyway, the net result is that I'm desperate to get started, and have set aside pretty much the whole of October so that I can make big inroads into the work. After that, I've a few more book events lined up throughout the winter, but I should be able to work steadily, all being well, through the dark days. I always feel better once I get the first draft of a new novel down. Then I can leave it to lie fallow for a little while before starting the long but - for me anyway - pleasurable process of editing and rewriting through the spring of 2017.

There will be a couple more publications from me in January and February of next year as well. Can't wait to spill the beans, but as soon as I'm allowed, I'll tell all. Meanwhile, the picture at the top of this post is a small clue.