Category Archives: Writing

National Novel Writing Month is Coming ~ Countdown to #NaNoWriMo

The countdown to the annual event known as national novel writing month is on. Better known as #NaNoWriMo, authors from around the world take part in this gruelling event.

Do you #NaNo? If so, do you start out like this? The Eureka moment that will sustain you for the entire month?

National

Then write feverishly for a while?

national

Things are looking good … and then, the dreaded writer’s block attacks.

national

The end of the month draws nearer and you’ve not written in days. When all is said and done, do you feel like this? Frustrated with yourself and your lack of staying power?

Life gets in the way. It happens to all of us. Maybe your idea wasn’t enough to sustain a novel.

The beauty is, you can outline and plan for National Novel Writing month ahead of time. If you’re prepared and not flying by the seat of your pants, the month will fly by with few hiccups.

1,667 words every day is not impossible and you’ll achieve your 50,000-word target for the month. The trick is, it’s not random words. It’s a novel. You need a beginning, middle and end.

National

Will you #NaNo?

Vieux-Québec ~ one of my favourite destinations

Vieux-QuébecJ’adore le Vieux-Québec surtout quand elle est vêtue de ses parures de Noël!

What’s not to love about Vieux-Québec? It’s a beautiful city in every season. I think it’s the closest thing to Paris there is without jumping on a plane for a seven hour flight. From where I live, Vieux-Québec is about a six hour car ride. Everything within the fortifications is in walking distance. Even the hotel my husband and use, is only a five minute walk beyond the wall. If we have a room on the back of our accommodations, we overlook the Plains of Abraham.

With all this going for it, you can understand why I wrote a novel set in this beautiful, historic city.

Vieux-Québec
Dufferin Terrace

Dufferin Terrace is a beautiful place to walk in any season.  It overlooks the Lower Town and the majestic St. Lawrence River. Day or night, the views from here are spectacular.

Fairmont le Château Frontenac in the distance has the appearance of a medieval castle with its towers and turrets – a place where knights would rescue damsels in distress.

Vieux-Québec
Rue du Petit Champlain

Christmas in full swing here on this narrow street. Love, love, love this part of the town!

Vieux-Québec
Parc Félix-Leclerc at Christmas during the day

 

Vieux-Québec
Parc Félix-Leclerc at Christmas at night

When you’re down in this part of the city, the ferry terminal is only a short walk away. Riding across the river to Lévis gives you a whole different perspective of the city. Views you would never get from any other angle.

Between the hotel and the post office you can see the funiculaire. This inclined railway is the best way to travel from the top of the escarpment to the bottom or vice vera. Actually, the walk down the hill isn’t nearly as difficult as the return trip.

Vieux-Québec
Place royale

This part of town is beautiful year round and is one of the stops on the ghost walk. One of my favourite shops is in the background on the left – Geomania. I’ve purchased some gorgeous jewellery there.

Vieux-Québec
Place Royale from Côte de la Montagne
Vieux-Québec
Christmas Market

This is just one market stall. The area behind Hôtel de Ville and the park beside it are packed with vendors selling all manor of things – handknitted, blown glass, footwear, books, a café where you can sit and take a load off whilst enjoying something to eat or drink.

Vieux-Québec
Most haunted house in Quebec?

On one of the horse-drawn carriage rides we took, our driver told us the section of the house above overgrown by the shrubs covering the front windows was reputed to be the most haunted house in the city. It definitely looks in disrepair and sorely in need of some TLC, but haunted?

Vieux-Québec
Ghost walk guide

On our last summer trip, we did a ghost walk hosted by Les Visites Fantômes. We started out while it was still light out and finished well after dark in an unlit Holy Trinity Cathedral. Spooky.

Vieux-Québec
Busker on Rue Notre Dame

We stopped and watched this gentleman for quite some time. His music had everyone tapping their toes and clapping their hands in time to the rhythm.

Vieux-Québec
René Lévesque’s Home

During his tenure as Premier of the Province of Québec, Réne Lévesque resided in this modest home on Rue d’Auteuil.

Vieux-Québec
The Price Building

In 2001, the upper two floors of the Price Building became the official residence of the Premier of the province. This buildings is visible from almost anywhere in Vieux-Québec.

Vieux-Québec
Changing of the guard ceremony at La Citadelle

Because La Citadelle is a working military base, there were a number of places we couldn’t tour.  Here are the soldiers of the Royal 22e Régiment (Van Doos) taking part in the ceremony.

Vieux-Québec
Cannonball embedded in tree roots on Rue Saint Louis

I love this cannonball. It’s been there for ages and as the tree grows, it brings more of the iron sphere with it.

Our horse-drawn carriage

No trip would be complete without a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. We’ve done it twice now. There are three different routes you can take – two shorter ones, or a long one with puts them both together. We opted for the long one, both times.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual tour of Vieux-Québec.

#TellaFairyTaleDay

Today is…

#TellAFairyTaleDay!

Never heard of it before? Well, you can read more about it here. The stories can cover everything from Grimm to urban legends.

Scottish legends, myths, and mystery are found in A Shadow in the Past, so what better time to celebrate it?

Even the cover exudes fairytale mystery. Once upon a time…

#TellAFairyTaleDay
cover by Aidana WillowRaven

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

Available from the publisher 4RV Publishing or amazon

And then there’s the sequel … Shadows From Her Past

A cruel twist of fate returns Sarah Shand to her life in the year 2010 where she discovers she is a patient in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and has been for months. Struggling to come to terms with the situation, she insists she belongs in the year 1886 at Weetshill mansion with her husband the Laird, Robert Robertson, and adopted daughter, Jenny. Her family and consultant physician try to convince her she was dreaming or hallucinating but Sarah refuses to believe them.

Robert, who has experienced strange things at the stone circle at Gordonsfield Farm, somehow breaks through the time-space continuum and visits Sarah in his future. He pleads with her to return to the past but his cryptic messages only confuse her.

Medical student, David Robb, himself a descendant of the Robertsons of Weetshill, befriends Sarah. Fascinated with her stories of the past, after her release from the hospital, he takes Sarah to meet his parents, the current owners of the mansion and surrounding land.

This year, the winter solstice and lunar eclipse occur on the same day. Will a trip to the stone circle during this combination of events create the magic Sarah needs to return to 1886 and her family there? Or will she remain in the present and make a life with David?

Available to buy from amazon.

Do you have a favourite fairy tale? I’d love to know what is is. Tell me in the comments.

Once Upon a Time… It’s Tell a Fairy Tale Day

Once upon a time

there was a day specifically dedicated to telling fairy tales. Today is that day…

Tell A Fairy Tale Day!

Never heard of it before? Well, you can read more about it here. The stories can cover everything from Grimm to urban legends.

Scottish legends, myths, and mystery are found in A Shadow in the Past, so what better time to celebrate it?

time

Even the cover exudes fairytale mystery. Once upon a time…

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

 

If you have a favourite fairy tale, leave a comment telling which one it is.

 

 

 

 

It’s Read in the Bathtub Day!

Do you like to read in the bathtub?

 

bathtub
By Bruno Cordioli from Milano, Italy [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

bathtubA Shadow in the Past…

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages; powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

Buy Links

4RV Publishing

ChaptersIndigo

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Barnes & Noble

So why not buy yourself a book (preferably mine), run a bubble bath and pour yourself a glass of wine (or your tipple of choice) and escape for some self-indulgence.

bathtub
Bathtub caddy with reading rack from Oh the Things You Can Buy

Just don’t fall asleep in the tub. And if you’re going to read using your kindle, kobo, nook, iPad or another electronic e-reader, put it in a sealable plastic bag to protect it if you don’t have a caddy with a book rest. Water and electronic devices don’t mix.

Will YOU succeed at #NaNoWriMo?

succeedDo you have the desire, discipline, story to tell and most importantly, the motivation to succeed?

If you can check all those boxes, then you’ll have a successful month of NaNoWriMo-ing.

But how to you manage when you work full-time, be a domestic Goddess when you’re not holding down your day job?

It’s not easy but it can be done. I’ve not figured out a winning/working formula yet but in time I will.

The only thing I know is, after working on a computer for 8 hours a day, trying to spend a few hours writing at the end of the day, doesn’t work well.

So, since I have a laptop, I take it to work with me and grab a few minutes on my lunch hour. Today I managed about 45 minutes writing time and cranked out 552 words and before the end of the day, sketched out ‘what happens next’. That will make tomorrow’s work much easier.

I subscribe to the nownovel.com website and there are some excellent tips there to keep you motivated for the month of November.

Cheers and happy writing! Wishing my fellow #NaNoWriMo-ers success this month!

 

#NaNoWriMo – Day 1

Day 1 ~ November 1st

eureka moment

Day 1 of #NaNoWriMo went extremely well for this writer. As I said in yesterday’s post, I’m not aiming for the magic 1667 words per day. I just want to make myself write every day.

So how did I do, I hear you ask? Drum roll, please…

Day 1

How about 2350 words. Not a bad day’s work, if I don’t say so myself. And today also included three loads of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away and making a curry for supper.

Speaking of curry, it’s been simmering in the crock pot all day and it smells delicious.

Tomorrow will be the true test of my writing every day resolve. It’s back to work so will have to squeeze in words over my lunch hour and when supper is cooking. After that, my poor brain and eyes will be done for the day.

And this post is 163 words in length. Does that count towards my daily word count? I think so. #amwriting

 

A Halloween Tale

In keeping with the spooky atmosphere of the evening, I give you one of my short stories. The cemetery I based this story around is located just west of my hometown.

I chose the particular headstone because it’s set off by itself on a bit of a hill surrounded by trees.

I hope you enjoy this seasonal story.

A Halloween Tale

by

Melanie Robertson-King

Brian and Emily climbed off their bicycles outside a large three-storey, red brick house in the west end of the city. A huge sign bearing a griffin and the words Bed and Breakfast hung from a post in the front yard. “Is this the place, Em?” he asked.

“I think so,” she replied, sliding her heavy rucksack off. She dug into its small outside pocket and pulled out the confirmation e-mail. Scanning it, she looked at the house and sign. “Yes. We’re here.”

Emily slung her pack over one shoulder. They walked their bikes to the side of the house and leaned them against the wall before going to the front door. Just as Emily reached out to ring the bell, the inside door opened. Startled, she jumped back.

“You must be Brian and Emily. I’ve been expecting you,” the grey-haired, bespectacled woman said, craning her neck to see past them. “How did you get here? I don’t see a car.”

“Bicycles,” Brian answered.

“Come in, you must be exhausted. Your room is this way.”

Holding hands, the young couple followed the proprietor to their room.

“Here you are,” she said, opening the door. “I serve breakfast from seven to nine o’clock. You’re on your own for lunches and suppers but there are a number of places to get a good meal further along into town.”

“Thank you, Mrs. … ” Brian began.

“Griffin. Miriam Griffin.”

Meanwhile, Emily had walked to the window and was looking out at the street below. “We passed a couple of cemeteries just west of here,” she commented, turning to face Brian and their hostess. “What can you tell us about them?”

The woman’s face suddenly went pale. “Y-you don’t want to be going to the cemetery on the south side of the road,” she stammered. “Rumour has it, it’s haunted.”

“We do. I think my ancestors are buried there and that’s why we came. We’re doing a bit of genealogical research and want to take some rubbings of the family stones and photograph them for the book we’re writing.”

“If you think you must go there, go early in the day so that you’re away from there well before dark.”

Emily dropped onto the bed and ran her hand over the white duvet. “Tell us more. This sounds intriguing.”

“Well, it was 200 years ago this Halloween that young Emily McPherson disappeared. My, but your name is Emily, too, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Please go on.”

Brian sat down on the bed and put his arm around Emily’s shoulders.

“The story goes that a young girl lost her fiancé – a soldier – in a tragic accident in the early part of the war of 1812. His ship was carrying a load of explosives and it blew up. Everyone on board was killed.”

“What does that have to do with the cemetery?” Emily prodded.

“Well, they say she visited his grave every day until she disappeared and was there as always when a terrible storm blew up and folks never saw hide nor hair of her again. But before she vanished, a blood curdling scream was heard over the thunder – and then nothing. Just silence. The storm cleared as quickly as it had formed and Emily was gone. Alarmed by the terrible scream that came from the direction of the cemetery, some men sprang into action. When they reached the grave where the poor, bereft young woman spent most of her time, she was gone. No sign of a struggle. No sign that she had been dragged off – just the bluish glow that surrounded the headstone. From that night on, no one had ever set foot in that corner of the cemetery. You see why it’s imperative that you’re out of there before dark.”

“What a tragic, yet romantic story. We must find that grave, Brian,” Emily said, her eyes sparkling.

“We will but tomorrow after breakfast. Today, we scope out the town.” Brian stood and helped Emily up from the bed. “Thank you for sharing that, Mrs. Griffin. Em, here, well she’s a sucker for a cemetery and a love story,” he said squeezing her shoulders.

***

Out on the street, Emily wrapped her arms around Brian’s waist. “I wish we didn’t have to wait until tomorrow.”

“Come on, Em. If anything untoward is going to happen in that cemetery, it will be tomorrow on the actual anniversary. Not today.”

“I suppose you’re right,” she muttered.

Brian took her hand and they walked towards the town’s centre, stopping first at the local museum where the genealogical society’s archives were housed.

Emily scanned the floor to ceiling shelves lined with books, binders, maps and the society’s own publications. If the McPherson girl’s disappearance were such a big deal, then there had to be something written about it. She found a binder of newspaper clippings dating back to the beginning of 1812, sat down at one of the tables and flipped through it. Emily found the article about the explosion and couldn’t believe how much detail had been included on the crews’ injuries. Still, she took the page from the binder and made a photocopy. A few pages later, she found the other piece including a photo of the alleged haunted grave. halloweenWhile she looked through newspaper clippings, Brian busied himself with the old maps. When Emily photocopied the second article, two older women came down the stairs. They spoke in hushed tones about the anniversary of the McPherson girl’s disappearance.
Having the information she wanted, Emily and Brian left the museum and went to a nearby pub for a late lunch. Over a pint and burger, they shared their findings.

“According to the one article, Emily got engaged on June 1st and her fiancé was killed on June 2nd,” she said, taking a sip of beer.

The longer they stayed in the pub, the more uncomfortable Emily became. She felt as if she were being compared to the long-since missing girl. “Let’s get out of here,” she said, “these people are creeping me out.”

“If you want,” Brian replied, picking up his pint and draining the last of it.

After leaving the pub, they wandered in and out of some of the more eclectic stores on the main street. In a second-hand shop, Emily bought a cherry amber pendant. While she fastened the clasp, another young couple entered the shop, talking about the cemetery. They say that grave is haunted. Emily overheard. Yeah, I know. Even in the daylight people don’t go near it.

When Brian and Emily returned to the Bed and Breakfast, she emptied the contents of her rucksack onto the bed ensuring she had everything she needed for the next day. Camera, extra batteries, blank newsprint, and charcoal sticks in a baggie. She added the photocopies to the essentials and repacked her bag.

***

At breakfast the following morning, Mrs. Griffin begged them to reconsider visiting the cemetery. “It’s just all of the talk about how the poor girl vanished and this being the 200th anniversary,” she moaned, wringing her hands.

“We’re leaving as soon as we’re finished breakfast so will be back long before it gets dark,” Brian reassured her. “If it makes you feel better, we’ll stop here before we go to supper.”
Emily slipped on her leather riding gloves and heaved her rucksack onto her back. “Don’t worry. We’ll be back late this afternoon.” Pausing by the front door, Emily turned back. “Bye, Mrs Griffin. We’ll see you later,” she called cheerily as they exited.

It took about five minutes to reach the cemetery’s entrance. After dismounting, they walked their bikes along the narrow road and parked them against a tree near the river. Emily took her camera out and shot a few wide angle shots of the area for comparison later on.
Since they hadn’t gotten away from the Bed and Breakfast as early as they would have liked, Emily decided they should split up in order to cover twice as much territory. She gave Brian some of the sheets of newsprint and a couple of the charcoal crayons. He had a small point and shoot camera so could photograph the stones as well as take rubbings.

A row of white stones, beginning with two substantial ones followed by smaller ones caught Emily’s eye and she walked to them. It appeared to be an entire family – parents, and their ten children. She carefully photographed each one planning on looking into the family at a later date. Emily glanced over her shoulder and saw that Brian had worked his way out to an older section near the highway.

Walking along the narrow road, Emily spotted a flight of stone steps leading to an area sheltered by trees. As she climbed them, she noticed a small headstone next to a bathtub-like sarcophagus. Then she looked up onto the rock about four feet higher than the ground where she stood. A solitary monument occupied the space. Emily pulled the newspaper articles out of her rucksack. This headstone matched the one in the photocopy. The thick canopy of oak, pine, and maple trees kept the area in darkness even at his time of day. A gust of wind rustled through the tree tops overhead and a leaf fluttered to the ground, landing on the carpet of brightly coloured autumn leaves. What was once a stately oak tree stood guard over the site; its trunk and remaining branch denuded of bark and pocked with woodpecker holes.

HalloweenUp close, the headstone didn’t look menacing. Emily walked around it, feeling its roughness under her fingertips, and read the inscription which told the sad tale of a young man who lost his life tragically in a ship’s explosion. She photographed the inscription.

“Brian, come quick,” Emily yelled. She turned and waved her arms to get his attention. “I think I’ve found the haunted monument!”

He looked up and waved back but made no attempt to approach.

When he didn’t respond a second time to her calls, she scampered off the rock, pausing to take more photos then ran to him, stumbling over the uneven ground. Breathless when she reached Brian, Emily found it difficult to tell him she had found the headstone of the young soldier.

“You’ll remember where it was, Em? I’d like to get some rubbings of the stones in this section. Let me finish up here and we’ll head over,” Brian answered. He pulled Emily close and kissed her forehead.

Another stone with a worn but interesting inscription soon held their interest and they became engrossed in it – Emily with her camera and Brian with the newsprint and charcoal. They were so preoccupied that they didn’t notice the skies darkening.

HalloweenNot wanting to leave without a final visit to the haunted grave, Emily ran off towards it, Brian following close behind. It was dusk when they reached the location. As they drew nearer, the hairs on the back of Emily’s neck stood on end.

Suddenly, the sky turned pitch black. Not even the glow of the city’s streetlights could be seen. Emily couldn’t see Brian, yet they were only arms length apart. A brilliant flash of lightning and a simultaneous, deafening clap of thunder frightened Emily and she screamed. The pungent smell of ozone filled the air. The headstone now bathed in that ominous bluish glow, made her entire body tingle.

***

The next day, once it was realized they had failed to come back to the Bed and Breakfast the night before, a search party went to the cemetery to look for them. Just as it was when Emily McPherson disappeared all those years ago, there were no signs of a struggle, no signs of the young couple at all. But at the base of the stone, one of the searchers found a pendant – the same one the young woman was last seen wearing when she and her partner left for the cemetery. On the back was an inscription which read, ‘to my Emily June 1st, 1812. All my love BW’. The searchers looked at each other incredulously, then at the headstone. BW – Brian Wolfe. Were these two young people the ghosts of Emily and Brian?

Happy Halloween!halloween

The Hemingway Editor

Tools for Writers – The Hemingway Editor

I discovered the Hemingway Editor app through a blog post on Triberr the other day so thought I would try it out. I copied and pasted some text from one of the pieces I’m working on and clicked ‘edit’.

hemingway

Using different colours, it tells you sentences that are hard to read, very hard to read, simpler alternatives and not seen on the screen shot above, adverbs and uses of passive voice (highlighted in blue and green).

The online app is free to use, but you can also purchase a copy which will reside on your computer for $9.99 US for those occasions you want to edit but have no Internet access.

So, what do I think of it? Well, I’ve tried it and in some ways, I think it stifles my writing voice by suggesting shortening my sentences or splitting them into two. But on the other hand, finding instances of passive voice are extremely (egads an adverb) useful.

Why not give the free app a try? You’ve got nothing to lose… FREE is good.

I’d be interested to hear what your impressions are. Let me know in the comments.

It’s Tell a Story Day

It’s “Tell A Story Day”!

Well, in Scotland and England it is. And since my heart belongs to Scotland, and I have family and friends in both countries, need I say more?

Okay, so in keeping with the day, here’s my story…

tell a story

Blurb:

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages; powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

Now isn’t that a great story? I think so, but then I’m biased.

~~~~~~~~~~

You can buy A Shadow from the Past in print or ebook from:

4RV Publishing
amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Novels too long for your liking? How about a collection of short stories then?

read a book dayBlurb:

The Consequences Collection is an eclectic compilation of twelve stories ranging from non-fiction through creative non-fiction to pure fiction, in prose and poetry.

The story of a Scottish Home Child is based on fact and told from the child’s point of view; The Mystery Woman of Kinettles is a non-fiction article on the appearance and subsequent disappearance of a woman’s body near the Wellington County House of Industry (Poor House) in 1879 Southwestern Ontario.

Some of these stories are lighter than others, and some might even beg you to leave the lights on.

Where to buy The Consequences Collection:

Paperback:

Lulu.com

Epub:

Lulu.com

Kindle:

amazon.com

And for the younger folks who love a good story, how about one for Christmas?

tmc5_72dpi

Blurb:

For Tim Frost, Christmas 2011 is a washout. No Santa. No presents. Nothing. His father lost his job when the mill closed and now the family is on the verge of losing their home.

A chance encounter with Nick Kringle, a modern-day Santa Claus, teaches Tim that the greatest gift you can receive is the gift of giving.

Tim’s Magic Christmas is available in paperback from the author, or for the kindle at amazon.com.

You can follow me here at Celtic Connexions or at:

Website: http://www.melanierobertson-king.com/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Melanie-Robertson-King/221018701298979
Twitter Account: @RobertsoKing https://twitter.com/RobertsoKing
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6543072.Melanie_Robertson_King