Where Have I Been and Where Has the Time Gone?

It’s been ages since I wrote a blog, the beginning of July in fact, and here we are almost at the end of September. Under the coronavirus restrictions, life seems to fly by and most days follow the same pattern. So before you know it, almost three months has passed without a cheep out of me.

So what has been happening? The most important is the Children in Read auction for Children in Need. Many authors have donated signed copies of their books and the highest bidder will be the lucky recipient of the book of their choice. My light-hearted romance, Festival Fireworks, set in Edinburgh during Festival time is on there and just waiting for bids to come flooding in!

Here’s the link to the whole list of books on offer.

In other, less positive news, the American magazine, The Highlander, for which I have been writing historical articles, has been sold to a UK publisher. Unfortunately, it already has a magazine about Scotland and it has merged The Highlander with it to produce something which bears no resemblance to the original. I wonder what the US subscribers will make of it. As for us writers, none of us have heard what the new editor is looking for and whether she will want to use any of our articles.

One of the new things I am learning during lockdown is various systems of talking to people like WhatsApp, FaceTime, Jitsi and now Zoom. I logged on to the Society of Authors in Scotland’s AGM on Zoom and it was good too see so many weel-kent faces though nothing like actually meeting them in the flesh. But I think that’s still a long way off.

There was a reason for trying out Zoom – next month I am doing a Zoom talk along with my co-president and dear friend, Sheila, for Ayr Writers’ club as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. We are going to be reminiscing about the club and how we became writers through its help and support. There will be one or two laughs as well, hopefully, as we recall memorable moments from our long association with the club.

A Coronavirus Birthday

By now about a third of the population will have had a birthday under lockdown and it was my turn at the weekend. I wondered how it would go and in the event, it went very well with flowers and food and plenty of chat. In fact, there was a simultaneous rendition of Happy Birthday from London and Toronto which was almost in unison!

birthday 2020

On top of everything else, what should thump through the letterbox but the latest edition of the Highlander magazine, containing not one but two of my articles, along with articles by a couple of my writer friends, Rosemary Gemmell and Anne-Mary Paterson.

cover

My articles were on two local subjects, Cockenzie House and Tantallon Castle, both of which we had visited before lockdown.

cockenzie p1  Tantallon

Also in the mail was a cheque for another of my articles on the history of knitting in Scotland which will appear in a later issue. This was a fascinating topic to research, initially triggered by Rosie Thorpe, an archivist with Historic Environment Scotland,who, on taking up knitting during lockdown, decided to see what her archives held on the subject. My own searches uncovered a murder and two hangings associated with knitting – who knew it was such a bloodthirsty subject!

I’ve also had a blog tour for Festival Fireworks which I just may have mentioned previously! I’d never had one before so it was quite a learning curve for me but very enjoyable. Thanks to Kelly Lacey for organising it all.

Festival Fireworkds

First Review of My Blog Tour

Festival Fireworks is off to a great start with this review from Bookbustle!

 

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Festival Fireworks by Ann Burnett @lovebookstours . . Blurb: Aussie Jill arrives in Edinburgh at Festival time, at the start of a gap year. Unfortunately, her boss at the temporary job she's taken turns out to be her grumpy neighbour, Andrew, aka Mr Bossy. As the Festival fireworks explode over the city every night, they start to fall in love. Then Jill has to return suddenly to Australia. Can their budding romance survive or will the fireworks fizzle and die? . . My Review: Festival Fireworks is a super cute novel, following Jill and Aussie visiting Edinburgh, and Andrew, a well connected socialite. Jill is staying at her Aunt's flat and has a chance encounter with Andrew who lives across the hall. Through a series of interesting circumstances, Jill and Andrew end up working together planning events and the annual Festival. This is a feel good romance novel that will warm your heart and leave you with a fuzzy feeling! The characters are well written and the setting of Edinburgh is perfect for this romance! Fans of romantic comedies and clean romance novels will thoroughly enjoy this novel! The plot was well written, with plenty of frustration and pining on the parts of Jill and Andrew. Lots of conflict, but it's well written into the plot and drives the story forward in a believable way. Overall, this is a well written romance by a skilled author! I enjoyed the characters, their backstories and motivations, and the beautiful setting of Edinburgh. I've always wanted to travel there and it made a wonderful backdrop for this story! Thank you to Ann Burnett for writing this book and to Love Books Tours for having me on this tour! . . #booktour #lovebookstours #festivalfireworks #cleanromance #contemporaryromance #bookreview #bookbustle #bookblog #booksofig #bookstragram #ereader #bookish #cuteromance #edinburgh #highlands

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A Wee Something to Wet Your Thrapple*

* to wet your thrapple – to have a taste of something

An extract from Festival Fireworks before the blog tour which starts next week:

Andrew turned to her and took hold of her hands.

‘I want to thank you for arranging an absolutely fabulous party and to apologise for my bad-temper, my bad behaviour, and anything else bad about me that you don’t like.’

Jill stared at him, open-mouthed. He was apologising to her? Mr. Bossy Big-boots was actually saying sorry? 

He must have seen her shock. ‘I really do mean it. It was one of the best parties we’ve ever had, and there were some interesting and hopefully lucrative contacts made. Some people will owe you a great vote of thanks.’

Jill nodded, still shocked. ‘Sam,’ she said. ‘He said he might get a contract from tonight.’

‘Exactly. And it’s all thanks to you.’ 

‘Not entirely. You made up the guest list, I just did what you asked. Well, after a fashion,’ she added, remembering the fiasco about the venue.

‘But the party wouldn’t have been so relaxed, and people wouldn’t have mixed so well if we’d had it where you booked it originally.’

‘Then, thank your neighbours. They really got things going.’

Andrew smiled at her. ‘You’re determined not to take any credit for it, are you? But I’m thanking you… like this.’

He pulled her towards him and bent his mouth to hers. Jill closed her eyes as his lips met hers. They were warm and sweet tasting, soft and tender, and kissed just the way she liked being kissed. She sighed gently and let herself draw even closer into his arms. Their kiss deepened, their mouths opened to each other, their bodies fitted themselves into each other, adjusting till closeness and warmth were satisfied. Heaven could not be any more perfect. 

Their lips parted, their eyes opened, and they looked at each other in a new way; a new recognition taking over from the old. Mr. Bossy was gone, Mr. MacCallum-Blair was gone, only Andrew was left. Her Andrew. Jill smiled up at him and moved to kiss him again.

A loud buzz sounded.

Andrew drew apart from her. ‘Who can be wanting in at this time of the night?’ he said. He walked into the hall, flipped the switch on the entry phone, and said sharply, ‘Yes?’ into the speaker. 

‘Police,’ came the tinny reply.

Festival Fireworkds

Moving On … Again!

We’ve been on the move again, this time to Edinburgh. Our new house isn’t ready yet so we had to leave our previous rental (golfers had it booked for the Open at Gullane) and find a new home.

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A snowy Edinburgh Castle

Not as easy as it sounds in the middle of the holiday season and with the Edinburgh Festival next month. However friends of our family were planning to rent out a flat with Airbnb and were pleased to let us have a long let (hopefully just a couple of months) instead.

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The Scottish Parliament Building at Holyrood

So it was stuff everything thing into our suitcases and plastic bags and head up to the capital. My ‘office’ has expanded to half of a dining table which is positively luxurious compared to the quarter of the breakfast bar I had before.

But my writing is sluggish. The next novel has ground to a halt as there are too many other things on my mind like where did I pack x, y, or z, where are the nearest shops and how does the washing machine work?

I did however, write an article about the street we were living on in Haddington as it was full of history – a battle was fought there in the sixteenth century, John Knox, the Protestant reformer went to school there and the whole area has been flooded several times, the first recorded one in 1348 and the last in 1948.

grammar school

John Knox’s School

Being in Edinburgh has its advantages of course. We’ve already found our way to Princes Street and the National Gallery of Scotland, Chambers Street where we visited the National Museum of Scotland and naturally, the shops! Next month is Festival month with the official Festival outnumbered by events at the Fringe, and my favourite, the Book Festival where I hope to catch up with many of my writer friends.

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Getting ready for the Festival Tattoo on the Castle Esplanade

And a last plug – my new book, Love Begins at 40, will be published on July 18th. It’s set in Largs on the Scottish west coast, while Festival Fireworks is set in Edinburgh during the festival itself.

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