Back in Harness


Has it really been four years since I last wrote a blog post?

Unfortunately, yes. So much has happened, not just to us as a family, but to the whole world with COVID-19. But, back in February, as life began to feel a bit more normal, I resumed writing my book, The Touching of Stones, which, I am happy to say, is now available to buy on Amazon at this link

So, what came next? Well, I updated my book, Future Confronted, which was published in 2013. It is called, Future Confronted, 25 Years On. Hard for us to believe that it is 25 years since our Rob died from a Diffuse Astrocytoma at the age of 20. The update, which is more of an addendum at the beginning of the book, lets the reader know how we’ve coped in the intervening years, and what we are all doing now. It also documents that the research into brain tumours is still predominantly, and unbelievably, funded by charities, in particular, The Brain Tumour Research, which is based at Portsmouth University

This, too, is now published, and is available in print or as an e-book. You can find it on Amazon at this link

Recently I was invited by author, Anna Belfrage, to talk about The Touching of Stones, on her blog. I happily accepted, and if you would like to read it, please click this link and enjoy.

So, dear readers, I have started writing book 2 of The Touching of Stones, and have also started writing another book about the Battle of Culloden. It is a story that has been taunting me for a very long time, until it finally won. I have started writing it, and it feels good to begin.

I have to admit that having two stories battling for position in my head is a challenge. So I write ‘Stones’ and ‘Culloden’ on alternate days. So far it appears to be working well… most of the time.

I am a discovery writer, sometimes called a panster, that is to say I don’t really plan out the whole book, but I do have an outline of sorts of where I would like the story to go. Sometimes the story takes over, and I follow to see where it leads me. I rather like that, it’s exciting not knowing what comes next. And when I read it back I am amazed, and I often mumble to myself that I never saw that coming… Sometimes my characters decide for themselves what they will do next, sometimes I do. I know this sounds fanciful, but it is truly how my writing goes.

I have read that many well known authors experience this phenomenon, so I feel as though I am in good company. I do know that some writers also do meticulous outlines for each chapter. I’ve read several books on how to do it, and if done properly one will know exactly where the story is going. I tried that, and when I wanted to deviate from the written plan, I felt as though I were doing something wrong. When I went back to how I am happiest writing, everything smoothed out, and I was in full flow, again. Nothing to stop my free will from… well… from running free.

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When is Enough, Enough?

Researching salient points for an historical novel is a must.

But when is enough, enough?

I have just returned from my third research trip to Edinburgh, and, although I found out much that I didn’t already know, I was somewhat slack-jawed at the lack of knowledge in one particular area. I needed to know what Edinburgh Castle was like back in the late thirteenth century, and early fourteenth century, but could find no contemporary information of how it was back then.

I went to the National Library of Scotland, and could find nothing there, so then I went to Edinburgh Castle with the sure knowledge that asking at the source would bring forth the information required. It didn’t. Dumfounded, that made me stop in my tracks. What was I to do? I needed to be able to walk the metaphorical corridors of the castle, so that, in my mind’s eye I could see my characters playing their part. I asked this question in a group that I’m an admin in, The Review. Answers came thick and fast, and it was a great discussion, with suggestions on how to deal with the lack of information. All duly noted, and appreciated; and I will utilise their information. But, I was still perplexed as to why there was no information about the castle in the time period in which I was particularly interested.

I have a book, Fortress of the Kingdom – Archaeology and Research at Edinburgh Castle, by Gordon Ewart and Dennis Gallagher, Archaeology Report #7, and published through Historical Scotland. It’s a wonderful book, with pictures and diagrams of relevant archaeology done over time. There are drawings, which are colour coded to show which parts were built in which time. For example, a mustard colour shows what was built in the years 1050-1300, and a dark sage green shows what was built in 1300-1450; see image below. “Great!” says I, only to find no evidence for the first time period, and scant evidence for the second time period. Back to the drawing board. Continue reading When is Enough, Enough?


My First Journey


Writing Historical Fiction

When my first book, Future Confronted, a memoir about my son, Rob, was published in December 2013, I was stunned by the reviews, which were all positive and five star. I wrote the book, firstly as a memorial to Rob, who died from a brain tumour just a short forty-nine days after diagnosis, at the age of 20. Secondly, I wrote it in the hope that it would help others who had walked the fractured path that our family had done, and know that it is possible to come out on the other side, albeit different people; and to know that the journey continues.

In the spring of 2014 I started to write down ideas for my first journey into writing an historical fiction novel. My intention was to set it in Scotland, including both the Highlands and the Lowlands. Having started to learn Gaelic,
Continue reading SO THE SAGA BEGINS