Epiphany — 6th January — marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas, and the day when the Three Kings brought gifts to the infant Jesus. The tryptich above is by Hieronymus Bosch, dated to around the end of the 15th century. But, with apologies to those who prefer the religious meaning of Epiphany, that’s not what I’m writing about in this blog.
In the UK, Epiphany can be a bit of a downer, an end to things. It’s when we take down our Christmas decorations, put the cards in the recycling bin, and chop up the tree ready for the bonfire. We go back to work, if we haven’t done so already. The fun and games are over. Once we’ve hoovered up all the pine needles and the glitter that gets absolutely everywhere, the house looks a bit drab, doesn’t it? (And, next year, glitter is definitely banned in the Maitland house!) Continue reading →
Those who know me from Social media will probably realise that I have moved. A big move. Massive. After 30 years in one house I have moved to the Scottish Highlands. To Wester Ross. It has been described as Britain’s last great wilderness, and with good reason. Moving here is not just another country, it is another life and a very different one. The language is almost the same. Almost, but not quite. One has to think more about it. No one asks where you live, it is where are you staying, as if you are just passing through.
Hospitality is generous, tea, cake or biscuits are often offered as a matter of course. Which means I need to brush up on my baking skills.
Okay, I doubt I will EVER bake anything this good!
The Scottish Highlands from a writer’s point of view
I travel through this land with my writer’s hat on. The landscape feels old. Continue reading →
Last week, I attended The Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick for the first time. I must say that I’d forgotten what it’s like to be a writing conference newbie — I’ve been going to the RNA Conference for more years than I’m prepared to admit — and it was salutary to experience newbie-dom all over again.
(At my first RNA Conference, I wasn’t published and didn’t really know anyone. But I met loads of writers whose books I’d read and loved. I remember chatting with Nicola Cornick who was then one of my writing heroes, and still is. The RNA sort of enfolded me, from that point on, it seemed.) Continue reading →
Last year I received an invitation from three authors I know and whose books I love – Donna Alward, Nina Singh and Barbara Wallace – to complete the quartet to write a mini series called “Bucket List Brides”.
Four young women, attending a charity auction, bid on an adventure. What happened to them after that was entirely up to each author.
The auction was to take place at the Merchant Resort, a fabulous hotel resort complex on Nantucket Island.
I needed a suitably gorgeous resort location, a beach and the kind of cottage that an islander family could have lived in forever. It was time for a little online research. I disappeared down the Pinterest rabbit hole for more time than was strictly necessary and followed #nantucketisland on Instagram. But that wasn’t the beginning of the story. This is the beach – with the necessary sunset – where it all began.
This is play time. The best part of writing – apart from the moment you sit back and know the book is finished – and a visit to that island location is now very high on my own bucket list! Continue reading →
It’s the end of March. The Vernal Equinox is past. We can properly talk about Spring.
Of course, by the time this blog is published, it may be snowing again, but we don’t have a crystal ball here in the Libertà hive. So…
Instead, to gladden hearts and look forward to lighter, brighter days, we asked each hive member to give us a flavour of the things she most looks forward to with the coming of Spring. Violets rather than snow? Continue reading →
My discovery of the week: hearing is a crucial sense. A novel needs a soundtrack just as much as any movie does.
I’ve always known that the sense of smell is important when I imagine the worlds of my novels.
But I’d never previously thought much about sound, though I savour it enormously in other people’s writing. (There may even be another blog on that!) I think I did put it in, mostly. Well, a bit. And not just conversation, either.
But somehow I’d forgotten when it came to my latest novel. So over these last few days I’ve been on a roller coaster of exploration and experiment – and revision! Continue reading →
Reeling is an odd concept. In one sense the word means staggering, lurching violently. Also, losing one’s balance, as when under the influence of illness, shock or alcohol.
In another it refers to the controlled performance of a dance. But not just any old dance, where you have one partner, or none, and do whatever takes your fancy. This has a pattern which conforms strictly to bars of music. Every performer co-ordinates with a number of other people in a variety of figures. It employs both travelling steps and dancing on the spot. The result is a shifting pattern, like a kaleidoscope, only you’re in the middle of it instead of watching from above.
Believe me, there’s no room for the first definition in the second activity. There would be blood on the floor. Reels are nothing if not precise. Continue reading →