Tone of Voice


A grey day today.

I set out on my thankfulness walk anyway this morning, thankful that at least it wasn’t raining. I don’t go far on my walk, just several times run the garden, counting my blessings as I go, thinking about all that I have to be thankful for.

I’ve been on my own this past few days and decided I’d talk out loud – just to see if I still had a voice since it hadn’t been used in quite a while. But I didn’t like my tone of voice. It didn’t sound thankful for long. I started grumbling about the fact the temperature has dropped and it’s damp and cold again, more like March than May, and it was affecting my joints, making it too painful to walk round the garden more than once, and anyway I don’t feel so steady today, don’t have much energy.

My walk quickly became a grumbling walk instead of a thankfulness one.

I didn’t like my tone of voice.

The list of grumbles continued as I came upstairs to start writing, and that got me thinking about a writer’s tone of voice. It changes too, depending on the subject matter and what part of the story you’re telling.

The voices of your characters need to change too. It’s no use having a miserable character saying pleasant things in a miserable tone of voice. It’s not going to work. Nor will it work if your normally cheerful character doesn’t adapt the way he/she speaks when tragedy strikes or difficulties arise.

In the first three books of The Reluctant Detective Series, Mirabelle, the main character, is an eccentric, bubbly sort of character, but when her daughter goes missing, she loses that bubbliness and becomes depressed and anxious. Her sister, Yvonne, is one of her comforters. She shelves her own problems and supports and encourages Mirabelle to keep going. She’s always there for her. Never too busy to listen. Never too busy to help.

In my current WIP, For What it’s Worth, I am telling Yvonne’s story, so Yvonne’s voice has to change a little. She is no longer the one to be jollying Mirabelle along. She has become the one who needs comfort and encouragement.

Will Mirabelle rise to the challenge of lifting her young sister’s spirits? Can she become the comforter? The encourager? Will she be there for Yvonne?

Fortunately, I’m not one to be down for long. A wee spell here at the computer with a cup of herbal tea beside me and my spirits lifted. My tone of voice will hopefully be better when I have occasion to use it again.


One of the things that added to my list of grumbles this morning is the fact that I got a letter the other day from my publisher telling me what to do once I have approved my book. Well, that would be fine if the book had come for me to check over and see if I approve or not! But it hasn’t, and it clearly should have. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

It really shouldn’t be long though, so you’ve still got time to catch up on the first two in the series if you haven’t read them.

Here are the details:

Searching for Summer ~~ Traces of Red ~~ Rusty Gold

You’ll find all of my books on Amazon


*** UPDATE ***

Rusty Gold is now available for purchase as a paperback or as an eBook on

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones or
or can be ordered from most bookstores


Have a nice day, whatever you’re doing.

I’d love to hear what turns a grumbly day into a cheery one for you.

Do share in the comments.


Sunshine and Birdsong

There I was, sitting in the garden, feeling the sun on my face, listening to the birds singing, trying to pick out one from another. It was idyllic. My mind turned to my writing, as it so often does, and the next chapter of the novel I am working on which I’m looking forward to writing when I go indoors. I became aware of a change in the feel of the air. Opening my eyes, I saw the large black clouds weathering in on me, and that got me to thinking even more.

My Work In Progress is a lot like the Scottish weather. There are parts of it that are warm and sunny, with lots of the feel-good factor, some parts have me chuckling as I write them, and then there are parts of it that have dark clouds blotting out the sun for Yvonne, my main character. The part I’m about to write today is a bit like the day itself, in that it has sunshine and showers. Yvonne’s off to sort out a difficult situation with her husband, Hugh, and she can’t see the happy ending right now.


My WIP follows on from the first three books of the Reluctant Detective series. It isn’t really part of the series, more an offshoot of it.

If you remember, or if you haven’t started reading the series yet, Yvonne’s sister, Mirabelle, became a reluctant detective when she discovered she was really good at finding missing people and reuniting them with their loved ones, especially young girls or young women who had been missing. It all started when her own daughter, Summer, disappeared one Friday night …

Searching for Summer  ~~   Traces of Red  ~~  Rusty Gold ~ coming soon

I’m expecting my proof copy of Rusty Gold back from the publisher any day now, so, after I have checked it over to make sure everything is as it should be, it really won’t be long until it is released. So, if you haven’t read Searching for Summer and Traces of Red, you’ve just about got time to catch up before Rusty Gold is available to buy on Amazon, which is where you’ll find all of my books.

*** UPDATE ***

Rusty Gold is now available for purchase as a paperback or as an eBook on

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones or

or can be ordered from most bookstores


Have a nice day, whatever you’re doing.

I’d love to hear what the day holds for you: Gardening? Golfing? Hill-walking? Cooking? Family? Television? Driving? Boating? Or what?

Do share in the comments.


Let’s Open That Gate an Inch or Two

FINAL Front CoverIt was difficult to decide which part of my new novel to let you read. I didn’t want to let you peep too far into the gate and spoil the story for you. Nor did I want to show you the beginning, because you can read that on Amazon, can’t you?

So, what about this part? It is fairly near the beginning and lets you see how Mhairi is coping with the things that are upsetting her.


She could be going about her daily life, thinking of nothing more than the task she was working on, the meal she was planning, when a word, a phrase, a smell, a trick of light, and there, something was triggered in her head and she’d be taken back to that garden or to the life without it.
To the abyss of loneliness: overwhelming despair that had bowed her head and bent her back. To the void of hopelessness: deepening shadow that had darkened her eyes and destroyed her sleep.
It amazed her she had lived through it: shocked her she had been forced to.
Mhairi dragged herself from the brink again, as she had so many times over the years. Whenever she allowed herself, or was unable to stop herself remember those barren years, she came so close to losing her mind that it frightened her. Each time, it took a huge effort of will not to allow the past to drag her down into its morass of hurt and blame. Each time, she had to remind herself she had survived before, she would survive again.
Forcing herself to take a long, deep breath, she gathered her coat and keys and took herself out.
Driving into Edinburgh at this time of day didn’t take too long and she reached Holyrood Park in thirty-five minutes. Parking the car, she crossed the road and walked briskly to the bottom of the hill. At a slightly slower pace, sometimes walking the well trodden paths, sometimes scrabbling over rocky parts, she reached the top of Arthur’s Seat in not much more than two and a half hours. Breathless and elated, she stood at the top and gloried in her accomplishment. It got her every time. That hard push beyond thinking, beyond pain. No matter how desperate she felt, no matter the weather, climbing this hill imbued her with power. As long as she was able to force her legs and her lungs through the burning pain of this climb, she could believe there was hope that the past would not catch up with her, that she was strong enough to fight against its drag.
The wind was strong up here by the cairn, but Mhairi loved it. Sitting on the grass, she closed her eyes, leant back on her hands and offered her face, feeling the wind chill her skin and whip her hair, taking her breath and throwing it back at her with full force as it swirled. Not until it had whipped the last thoughts of the past from her mind did she open her eyes to look at Edinburgh lain out at her feet.
The city, the castle, the river, the hills: it was all set out before her like an architect’s model, with background views all round, full-circle: over the Pentland Hills; the city; the Forth Road Bridges; the Fife coast, and out to Bass Rock and the conical shape of Berwick Law. When she stood up, she had almost a complete three-hundred-and-sixty degrees of ever-changing view — all wrapped in blue sky with heavy white clouds hanging in it, undecided whether to release their load now or wait till later.
Autumn had already rushed in on the scene with a chill wind, ripping half-turned leaves from their branches earlier than they would have chosen to fall. Though there were no trees up here at the top of the climb, she could see them in the vista she surveyed.
Mixed with the peaty smell, there was the sniff of snow in the air and she filled her lungs with the sharp, freshness of it, loving how cleansing it felt.
The city looked very small: cars and buses moved along the grid like tiny ants, insignificant from this vantage point; people were no more than dots, too small to even bear the label ‘insignificant.’ What arrogance to think mere mortals were the pinnacle of creation. What were they but specks of dust on the surface of the planet: a planet placed in a veritable plethora of celestial bodies all moving in a majestic choreography.
What was her life compared to the vastness of the world around her? What place did she hold in the universe?
Yet there was something in her that clung to life, clung to the value of her own life. She spread her arms to the wind, turning slowly in a circle, embracing the sky, the hills, all of it. “I am here,” she told the world. “I am me. This is my place.”
No traffic smells, no traffic sounds, but the smell of snow and heather on the wind, the sound of the same wind in her ears, the distant mumble of the earth turning. Up here, she had space in her head to hear the hum of life. It was made up of insect noises and bird calls, human voices and the thrum of her own blood. Up here she could shut out the past and live in the moment, her only thought how to drink it in and hold its healing in her heart. Up here, she knew she was alive. Up here, she felt invincible.
“I am here. This is my time.”
There were always walkers on the hill, regardless of wind and weather. She acknowledged with a nod the one or two she passed as she walked round its crest, revelling in the rawness of the day and the bounce of the tough grass beneath her feet, pulling the crisp air deep into her lungs and holding it for as long as she could. Spreading her arms wider and lifting her face back to the sky, eyes closed, she spun slowly round and round, round and round until she felt as though the whole world spun on this axis, this was the centre of the planet, everything spun out from this point.
Other walkers smiled back at her, complicit in her pleasure. It was good to be here. Good to get perspective: to know that just as every blade of grass on that hillside added to the wealth of its beauty, so too, did each one of them have a part to play in the great drama of life. ‘I am here. I am me.’
Enough. It was enough. She was restored.
As she made her way to the car, she studied every part of the walk back down the hill as though she would be asked questions about it later. Was there much heather still blooming? Had the wind stripped the gold from the gorse? What about birds? Did she see many? Which ones? She was greedy for it all, anxious to store it for barren days ahead, when this walk might be denied her.
Enough? It would never be enough.



Available on Amazon:

Barnes & Noble, Waterstones

and can be ordered from bookstores.



The Birds Have Flown: A Book Is Born

Here in Scotland

Spring has washed into Summer

Summer hangs days out to dry

With a wary eye on the weather

Not sure of that azure sky.

Pheasants chicks have grown gangly

Teenagers already it seems

The doves have flown free

With no thoughts for me

And the stuff of my

Hopes and my dreams.


Forgive me while I sing my little ditty

Forgive if I scream and I shout

The work of the springtime is over

And I have a novel just out!


Yes, the first draft I completed in November for NaNoWriMo has been nurtured and nourished, polished and preened and is ready to fly off to meet you.





Available in both paperback and ebook format.

FINAL Front Cover

Contemporary Popular Fiction, Here At The Gate is a relationship novel, with a touch of romance, a sprinkling of humour, a lot about family, a wee bit about Scotland, and a mystery to be unravelled…and all for the price of a cup of coffee and a cream bun.


Here’s what Here At The Gate is about:

Mhairi had worked hard to build herself a normal, stable life, but there had always been a dark fear inside her. No matter how happy she was, it was always there.
It followed her about like a black bat, haunting her nights, hiding in a corner during her days, flapping out at odd moments, scaring the wits out of her.
It was as though she was standing outside a high-walled garden, barred from the secret of her past by the wrought-iron gate. She could see all the bushes and trees, the rhododendron and hydrangea. She could even smell the roses and the honeysuckle, but then the gate would swing shut and she was outside and it was dark.
Now her happy, settled life was being threatened and she knew she had to force through the darkness. She needed to remember what she had spent a lifetime forgetting.


Available on Amazon:

Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, and can be ordered from bookstores.


Here At The Gate is ready now for you to enjoywith that cup of coffee and cream bun, if you’re feeling flush!


Doves, Ducks and Deer

Well, Phyllis Pheasant seems to have toddled off to the woods to find Phil, so the chicks can meet Dad. I’ve not seen them about in the garden for a day or two. I’m missing them: suffering from ’empty-nest syndrome’. It would have been nice if they’d stayed a bit longer…or even said, ‘Goodbye!’ Huh! That’s kids for you!

Never mind, I’ve still got plenty to keep me busy.


The doves nesting in the bush in our garden must be about due to hatch. On looking it up, I’m reliably informed the incubation time is about eighteen days and it can’t be far off that since we first saw the two eggs. Dave and Dilly take it in turns to sit on the nest. Looks like Dave takes the early shift from mid-morning to late afternoon whereas Dilly takes her turn in late afternoon and overnight to mid-morning. Since the nest is right outside my bedroom window, I quite often watch the changeover. I love it. They have a wee ‘coo’ about how the shift went, a wee nod or two and the one takes over from the other.

Then there are the shelducks Sam and Sheila, who have taken a liking to the pond in the field over our hedge. They seem to have a nest somewhere in the vicinity since they are there day and night and have chased off a couple of their mates who were taking too much food from their pond. Apparently they quite like to purloin an old rabbit burrow to nest in.

I like to keep an eye on them too, looking forward to seeing baby ducklings on the pond any day soon.

While watching out for them the other evening, I was delighted to see some young deer in the field, congregating on the far side of the pond.



And all of this without stepping outside the garden!

Needless to say, all this baby watching is playing havoc with my writing: on the one hand all the creativity is inspiring, on the other, I keep interrupting myself to check what’s going on out there. However, I have managed to get novel number four, Here At The Gate, completed and off to the publisher. It’s now just a matter of seeing which babies are born first, doves, ducks or books.

The Pheasants are First

IMG_0059I’d been checking the nest every day. Usually, Phyllis, our resident garden pheasant, was sitting on the nest, but occasionally, I’d get a clear look at her ten smooth, pale olive-coloured eggs.

Then, horror of horrors, when I checked yesterday, there were five unhatched eggs and a scattering of broken eggshells, no sign of Phyllis or any baby chicks. I was devastated. Had they hatched and a kestrel or a crow snatched them as they emerged while Phyllis foraged for food? Had the wily fox returned to the neighbourhood and been at the nest in the night?

All day, I moped about, much sadder than I would ever have believed possible at the loss of something I’d never had. I checked the nest several times more, hoping I was wrong, but, no, there they were, four unhatched eggs and….hey! wait a moment! Did I say four? I thought there had been five unhatched eggs. I checked the photo I had taken earlier. Yes! There had been five, now there were only four whole eggs.

With a sigh and a shudder, I turned away, thinking how cruel nature was, when I spotted poor old Phyllis sitting quietly in a hollow a little away from the nest.

“Yes, old girl. It’s cruel. And where was that strutting husband of yours? Did he not have the decency to hang around to help. To stand guard while you went for food and water. Shame on him!”

Phyllis didn’t have much to say, but just stared mournfully back at me.


I left her to grieve in private.

About an hour later, I thought I’d best check she was alright, that she didn’t need anything from the shops or anything. Joy of joys! Not only was dear Phyllis up and about and feeling better, but she had been sitting, not mournfully, as I had supposed, but broodingly…



So Phyllis made it first. She beat the doves to it — they are still incubating in their nest in the bush behind our basketball net. Needless to say, all basketball practice is suspended meantime. She beat me to the finishing line.

My next novel, Here At The Gate, is almost there, but I’m just doing those last minute things, like the back cover blurb, the last careful proofread, and it’ll be out there.

Might come in a close third. The doves have been incubating for a while, so I guess they are about ready to hatch. I might not even be third! The shell ducks on the pond have been nesting nearby for a while. There are house martins nesting in the guttering above my bedroom window and I’m pretty sure there is a blackbird nesting in the hedge. Never mind. Everything comes to fruition in its due time.

With patience, my book will be the best it can be with me as the author, so I’m not going to rush it. It’s not a competition anyway.

No, I’m not growing sour grapes. I’m just a sore loser.

But a happy one.


Enjoying my garden visitors.

On The Run


I’ve been reading a lot about beginnings, watching one too.

The reason for my choice of reading material is that I’ve done the ‘slash and burn’ of my last post, brutally editing my WIP, and now I’m on to the tweaking and fussing. Having cut the beginning drastically, it gets into the story quicker, but does it hook the reader? Thanks to Kristen Lamb’s Blog, , I bought Les Edgerton’s Hooked, a book about beginnings, and it’s got me thinking — and running.

I seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time running up and down our stairs, figuratively speaking of course 🙂 — I’m not allowed to run. Every task is punctuated by sudden flashes of insight into a better word, a better phrase, a better sentence, all to try to hook the reader, and I have to dash to the computer keyboard to ‘tweak.’ It’s such fun — but exhausting.

The beginning I’ve been watching is this:


Now this has had me running as well, figuratively, of course 🙂 and it has a lot to do with ‘slash and burn.’

At the end of last summer, our son helped my hubby drastically ‘slash’ the height of the high hedge at the bottom of our garden, in order for us to better enjoy the view when sitting on the patio. This was not accomplished without a lot of nonsense, I have to add.

After the ‘slash’ came the ‘burn,’ but not until the wood dried out sufficiently to burn. This took time and several bonfires, so there was still a pile of old hedge trimmings waiting to be burnt this spring.


Meanwhile, we noticed a regular visitor to our garden. Every day, we could hear and/or see a female pheasant in the garden and she kept disappearing somewhere up the back of it. We wondered if there might be a nest, but couldn’t see it. Then, one day a few weeks ago, we noticed a courting couple strolling in the field behind the garden. The male looked magnificent in all his colours and he fair strutted.


His modest companion began to scurry across the last few yards of the field then flew up and over the hedge and into our garden.


Pheasant photos courtesy of Wikipedia

His strutting now took purpose and, for quite a time, he patrolled the perimeter of our garden, strutting and marching to and fro, checking the boundary was safe.

When he decided all was in order, he strutted off and we went to search out the nest. So much for ‘burn!’ There’ll be no more bonfires in our garden for a while, for there, deep in the middle of the old, dried-out cuttings we found Phyllis the pheasant:

IMG_1757You have to look close; she is amazingly well camouflaged, but she’s there all right, ‘cooried doon’ and ready to sit it out till her eggs hatch. I run in and out several times each day in the hopes of sneaking a photo when she leaves the nest to feed — which she doesn’t seem to do very often. But, patience is rewarded. I got my photo of the ten eggs nestled there.


And what a beginning her chicks will have.

The fox who used to steal the farmer’s chickens seems to have moved on from the nearby woods


The neighbour with all the cats has moved away, leaving our garden free of their stalking presence, and me free of the frights I used to get as they jumped out at me from their favourite hiding place behind our hut


and our next-door neighbour has decided she is too old to cope with the dog walking/dog sitting service she used to provide for her family’s dogs. So all is quiet in our garden and Phyllis can get on with her ‘tweaking’ undisturbed, and trust me, she can ‘tweak.’ Every time I check things are okay up in that corner of paradise, she has changed position, facing another few degrees round from the last time.

So I can get on with my ‘tweaking.’ A word here, a sentence there.

I looked up how long the incubation period is for pheasants. It’s 23-26 days. The incubation period for my novel will have been somewhat longer, but the race is on. I wonder which will hatch first, fly first, leave the nest first.

I’m on the run, hoping ‘Here at the Gate’ will be first to venture out of the garden.


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