Back to Work!

Now that we are settled in our temporary home – an old town house set over three floors with one room on each and doing wonders for our calf muscles as we trundle up and down – I have no excuse for not getting on with writing tasks.

The edits for my next novel for Tirgearr Publishing, Love Begins at 40, have arrived so I’m working my way through them. I have a great editor, Christine, who picks up on all sorts of details that I miss, like commas and other punctuation marks. I assume that in the heat of creation, I tend to miss them out but in reality, I’m not entirely sure when and what to use. And anyway, each publishing house has its own style so what is acceptable for one is a no-no in another.

Love Begins at 40 will be out in August, about the time when we finally move into our new home so a double celebration will be in order.

And in another success, I’ve just heard that an article I wrote on the Palaces in Kirkwall, Orkney has been accepted for an American magazine, the Highlander. I’ve sent loads of photos for it as well so I’m looking forward to seeing it in print.

Summer appears to be here at last, at least for a few days, and it’s brought everyone out into the sunshine. Long may it continue!

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Down by the River

 

Something to Tempt You into Reading…

 

A little bit from my latest novel, Festival Fireworks…..

‘And you are interested in the ballet?’ His blue eyes were large and staring right into hers.

‘I don’t know very much about it.’ She wasn’t going to admit that the only ballet she’d ever seen was on TV, and that as a child, she’d eschewed ballet lessons in favour of tennis coaching. ‘Are you one of the dancers?’

‘Yes, I am Grigor Lutsenko. I am principal male dancer.’

Crikes! That blew her cover. Now Jill realised that he would know she knew nothing about ballet, and worse, hadn’t even seen one of the troupe’s performances. ‘I’ve only just arrived over here. I haven’t had a chance to see much of the Festival.’

‘I am sorry that you not see me dance. I think that you would like me.’

‘I like you very much already,’ Jill said, raising her glass of whisky to him. ‘What a pity you’re leaving tomorrow.’

They shared a smile. ‘A great pity,’ he purred. ‘What is it that you do? For work, I mean?’

‘I work for Andrew MacCallum-Blair, you know, the guy who’s organised this bash.’

‘This what you say?’ 

‘Bash. Get-together. Reception.’

‘Ah yes.’ The puzzled look on Grigor’s face was replaced by that enchanting grin. ‘This Andrew, he is your boss?’

‘Yes, there he is over there.’ She raised her hand to point to him through the crowd just in time to see Andrew glare back at her. Oh dear, what was she doing that he didn’t like?

Grigor caught the look, too. ‘He is not pleased that you talk to me,’ he said. ‘He is your lover?’

‘Certainly not!’ The words exploded from Jill. She would have said more but bit her tongue just in time.

‘That is good,’ said Grigor. ‘Then perhaps you like to be my lover? We have tonight, you know. I don’t leave till eleven hundred hours tomorrow. We have good evening together, and I show you the Ukrainian way of make love.’

‘Thank you, Grigor,’ Jill answered, trying not to blush or giggle. He certainly didn’t believe in wasting time. ‘Another time perhaps. When I come to the Ukraine.’ Not that she had any intention of so doing, but she was trying to let him down as gracefully as she could.

 ‘Everything going ok?’ Suddenly, Andrew was standing beside her. She hadn’t noticed his approach. A shiver tingled its way down her spine and settled in her stomach, where it transformed itself into butterflies playing leapfrog.

‘Yes, fine.’ She gripped her whisky glass more tightly to stop her hand from trembling. At that moment, one of Edinburgh’s finest dowager ladies hooked her hand through Grigor’s arm and led him off to another group. Grigor turned as she dragged him away and shrugged his shoulders at Jill. Another time, another place was the message she took from the gesture. 

To read what happens next, why not buy Festival Fireworks here?

FestivalFireworksbyAnnBurnett200

Festival Fireworks is Here!

Just a quick message to let you all know that my novel, Festival Fireworks, is  published today and is available here:

 

It’s on at its special price of 99p but only till Monday, when you’ll have to pay full price for it. So don’t miss out!

I hope you all enjoy it and please review it for me.

Thank you.

Thank Goodness for Books!

There is nothing like moving house for raising stress levels to dangerous heights. It’s not the clearing out and packing that does it, no, it’s dealing with those organisations which appear to have been set up to provide the highest level of annoyance in the shortest possible time. Take phoning them up for instance; a long number followed by a long spiel about this and that, followed by a variety of numbers to press to get you through to another series of numbers till eventually, eventually you hear a human voice. Only to have it tell you that it’s going to cost you a lot of money to transfer/cancel/change whatever it is you’ve got with them.

Thank heavens for books and Jane Austen in particular! When I feel stressed I turn to her and this time it’s Mansfield Park. It’s quite a long time since I read it and I’ve discovered I’d forgotten quite a bit of the story. I remembered the part about the theatricals and the displeasure of Mr Bertram but I didn’t remember what came after. Fanny Price is such an insipid little thing that she wouldn’t stand a chance nowadays but then she was admired for her high principles and quiet ways. She’s in no way like the sparkling Elizabeth Bennet or the interfering, high-handed Emma Woodhouse; more like Jane Bennet perhaps, but even less confident of her charms.

books

Another book I reread recently was Jo Baker’s take on Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ point of view, Longbourn. Hill is given an interesting backstory which sheds a different light on the Bennets and on the master of the house in particular.

It’s glorious to escape into a book and put the day’s problems to one side. I’ve also read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, a wonderful book with a feel-good message for all of us introverts who have ever felt apart from the mainstream of life, who have felt awkward amongst people, who have never fitted in – for everyone in fact.

All these books could be classed as romantic fiction; the heroines get their fella at the end, or are well on the road to doing so but you’d never find them alongside the Miils and Boon titles on the site of that great river of books purveyor.

So what makes them different? The quality of the writing for starters, the development of the characters, the depth and realism of the emotions portrayed – all add up to a rich and satisfying read and one which guarantees an escape from the trials of everyday life.

And I can’t miss out on a plug for my take on the genre – Festival Fireworks, published as an ebook on April 18th at its full price of $3.99 but available on a special pre-order cost of $1.39/99p.

FestivalFireworksbyAnnBurnettSMALLAD

Has It Really Been a Year?

March is Scottish Association of Writers conference time  which I blogged about this time last year. And here I was again, arriving with my suitcase, greeting friends I hadn’t seen since then and eagerly scanning the programme to see what was on offer.

Last year I was an adjudicator with lots of things to do and a workshop to run, but this year I could relax and take things easy and enjoy attending all sorts of talks and workshops (and pick up some tips from other adjudicators!)

club winners

Our Club Winners

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Party Time

Friday evening always starts for our members with a gathering in the biggest bedroom for a wee drink and catch up before dinner. Then the exciting bit – the results of the competitions, or at least some of them. It continues on Saturday morning when the clubs’ tallies of trophies is assessed. This year, the Perth club took the honours, while in the Poetry competition, the Angus club swept the board.

What with workshops, book sales, informal get-togethers and loads and loads of food, it’s a hectic and filled (and filling!) weekend.

workshop

More Avid Listeners

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Avid Listeners

My best moment came when in the middle of a seminar, I heard my phone and quickly checked it to find that my second novel had just been accepted by Tirgearr Publishing.  Unable to shriek with joy, jump up and down or generally celebrate as I wanted to, I sat there with a silly grin on my face until I could leave and go skipping along the corridor to tell my writerly mates.

There’s a grand gala dinner when the trophies are presented and this year’s guest speaker was Simon Brett who entertained us royally with spoofs of Nordic Noir, Agatha Christie and sundry other characters from his rich repertoire.

simon brett

…and the speaker, Simon Brett

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The Gala Dinner…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday saw a new President and Vice-president voted in – Wendy Jones took over from Marc Sherland as president, and Gillian Duff became Vice-president in place of Jen Butler. They both have a hard act to follow but I’m sure they’ll be very successful.

As we say in this part of the world, ma heid’s nippin, filled with information, ideas, tips and contacts which I need to digest and act on.

But meantime, there’s a house move to organise and next year, I’ll be arriving at the conference from the other side of the country. Can’t wait!

 

 

 

Moving On….

Changes are afoot in the Burnett household; we are moving across country to the east of Scotland. A new house, a new town, a new area to explore, new friends to make…

All very exciting but breaking up a home where we’ve lived for nearly thirty years is hard work, both physical and emotional.

My office where I work, has had a good clear out of thirty years of writing.P Pat I’ll keep all my published work which at the moment fills almost an entire bookcase, what with the 250 Postman Pat comic scripts and annuals I wrote, the hundred or so BBC radio and TV programmes I scripted,  the numerous articles on all sorts of subjects I wrote for magazines and online sites, and the magazine short stories published here and abroad. And then there were the many writing workshops I ran and the materials I prepared for them.buckettrippertapes

But as well as the ‘successful’ pieces, there were very many more rejected manuscripts – hundreds of them in fact. For every piece I had accepted, there were ten ‘failures’ which I kept, just in case I could work on them or a market came up which would be suitable or because I didn’t want to throw them out.

Well, I have now. Reading them over, I can see exactly why they were rejected and I tossed them all out –  they weren’t worth saving after all.

I also found my first piece that I entered into a club competition many years ago and received a crit for. The adjudicator had attached a single line of type to my manuscript which said:

Hackneyed. Full of clichés. Subject has been done many times before.

I was devastated when I read that and almost gave up writing there and then. But it taught me a valuable lesson; temper your criticism with kindness and encouragement. Make it like a sandwich with some positive comments at the start, the meat on how the writer can improve it in the middle, and a final positive note of encouragement at the end. When I’ve been an adjudicator, I’ve always tried to do that. The memory of my first crit still rankles!

I’m looking forward to the newness of everything, home, area, friends, and hoping it acts as a stimulus to more writing. But first, there are a few more cupboards to empty. Let’s hope I don’t find any skeletons – or maybe, as a writer, I should look out for them. You never know where they can lead.