Do You NaNo?

Well, we’re more than halfway through November, so, if you joined in this amazing writing fest, are you over halfway through the 50,000 words needed to win NaNoWriMo?

Thankfully, I’m over halfway. Phew!

When I decided to do it again this year my reasons were not pure. I have written a first draft of a novel every November since 2013 and I have published each one in due course the following year. Although I can usually write that first draft no problem in the month, it takes me many more months to edit, polish and publish each one.

This year, I didn’t think I could manage to do another novel, what with one thing and another, but I did have last year’s rough first draft hanging around, so I decided my challenge this year was to write the second draft.

The reason I decided to go for NaNoWriMo at all this year was because I couldn’t bring myself not to. The thought of breaking my seven year run was too much for me. So here I am, just over halfway through the month and more than halfway through the second draft. Yipee!

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it happens every November. It’s far from ‘National’ now. People from all over the world join in these days, tens of thousands of them. Many of them ‘win’. And that’s the thing about NaNoWriMo, everyone who completes the 50,000 word count is a winner. And can I tell you, that’s a great feeling.

Write every day, no matter the distractions!

The reason I do it every year is the motivation it provides to stick in and write every day. Before 2013, it could take me years to write the first draft of a novel, let alone the years that then went into editing and polishing it. By the third novel I wrote and published, I’d gotten it down to months, but still too many months, to write a first draft. And the reason it took me so long was simple. I didn’t write every day.

When you don’t write every day, in my experience, you lose the flow of the piece and each time you open the manuscript, you have to look back, sometimes all the way to the beginning and read yourself back into it. That takes time, sometimes a lot of time.

Writing every day, your story never quite leaves your consciousness and it is much easier to pick up where you left off. Especially if you stop in mid-flow, which is a trick I learned somewhere along my writing career.

Of course, NaNoWriMo has its critics. What doesn’t? There are those who say it’s not possible to write a book in a month, and I actually agree, with one proviso. I don’t believe it is possible to write a GOOD book in a month. It’s perfectly possible to write a good first draft in that time. In fact most of the first drafts I have written during that month have been well over the 50,000 word count. It’s possible to write over 100,000 words in a month if you have the time, a good outline, good planning, and the health and energy to write at least 3,334 words every single day. I know some writers can do that and more in a day. I’m afraid I can’t.

But it’s not the volume of words that make a good novel. It’s the quality. The quality choice of words, of sentence structure, and the quality of the story telling. And I doubt there are many writers who have published a GOOD first draft. I know far too many who have published a poor one. And that, unfortunately is what draws the criticism.

Again, I can only speak from my own experience but for me writing the first draft is the easy part. Taking on board the critique of Alpha readers, Beta readers, rewriting, editing, proofreading, these are the time consuming and work intensive parts of writing a novel. And I don’t believe they should be skipped. Even books published by mainstream publishers go through that process, so I don’t believe it’s a process that should ever be neglected. Not if you want to truly WIN NaNoWriMo.

But I’d welcome your thoughts on the subject.

All my novels are available on Amazon Kindle or as Paperbacks.

7 Things I’d Like To Do

7 Things I'd Like To do

This is not a ‘Should Do’ list, it’s not a ‘Need To Do’ list, it’s not even a ‘To Do’ list. It’s an ‘I’d Like To Do’ list. There is a difference. A huge difference, I’m sure you’ll agree.

As I write, and as you read my list, I invite you to start one of your own. There are probably lots of things you’d like to find time to do too. Maybe mine will prompt you to think about them and do what I intend to do, which is, having listed them, I’m hoping to prioritise them – not making the top priority the thing that should be done, but making it the thing I want most to do. For me, that means the thing that will be most fun.  For you, that may mean the thing that will be most productive, most cost effective, most efficient, most useful. You decide your priority. Mine is always fun-related in this sphere.

The method I plan to use to decide priority will be to ask myself questions. Please feel free to adapt those questions to similar ones that will be useful to you.

I’m writing things in the order they come to mind, so my list is bound to change in priority as I write. Yours probably will too.

As a writer, my list is about writing-related activities. Yours might be about something else. Your gardening activities, artistic endeavours, cooking projects, craft projects, whatever. What I invite you to do is to think about projects related to your work or hobby that you haven’t been getting around to doing but you’ve been thinking you’d like to try sometime.

So here goes:

Number One: The project that triggered this whole chain of thought.

I downloaded Scrivener ages ago, but have never taken the time to learn how to use it. For those of you unfamiliar with Scrivener, it is designed to make a writer’s work easier, to keep research, notes, ideas, notions, and drafts of work all in one place and easily accessible – once you know how to use it. By all accounts, it is not particularly simple to learn.

So, am I willing to take time out from other projects to become familiar with the program? Will the time spent doing that be offset by the time saved later? Since the way I write now is comfortable, how much discomfort am I willing to endure to reap any presumed benefits from the program?

The answers lead me to think, ‘No.’ At the moment, although at the top, Scrivener is going to the bottom of my list. It could be rescued by your comments and observations on the subject, should you choose to share your experiences with the program.

Number Two: There is a menu bar that runs along the top of this blog, with different categories for my writing, crafting and other exploits. It has been far too long since I updated any of the categories there. Far too long, and I’d love to take the time to do that updating.

Why have I not kept it updated as I needed to? Too late to worry about the answer to that question now. I try not to think in terms of ‘should haves’. It will now be time-consuming to do the updating. Am I willing to take that time out from other projects?

Yes, I do believe I am, but not as a high priority. I think I’ll slip it just above Scrivener.

Number Three: I wrote a series of invitation blogposts a few years ago. It was about Food in Fiction. I also wrote a series about Music in Fiction. I would like to develop them into a series of ebooks to share on Amazon Kindle.

Am I willing to give them research time to enrich and complete them? Am I willing to take time out from my other projects?

Again, the answer is, ‘Yes.’ Higher priority than the menu project.

Number Four: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is fast approaching. I love participating: love the discipline of pushing myself to write 50,000 words in the month of November, the first draft of a brand new novel. That means taking time in October to decide on a project, do any necessary research, plot and plan the novel and be prepared to write like a steam train through November.

Am I willing to set aside that time for the next two months? Can I be at a stage with my present WIP where I will not mind putting it aside for November? Will I be willing to put the other projects on this list aside for that time too?

The answer is, ‘Yes.’ And because of it’s time-sensitivity, NaNoWriMo has to move into first place – for the moment.

Number Five: I’d like to write another in my Reluctant Detective Series. I love writing about Mirabelle and her friends and family. I already have a few half written Mirabelle stories that spring from the series so it would be a good idea to get to work on them and finish them – one at a time, of course 🙂

The completing of the unfinished stories will slot in nicely to number three, behind NaNo, the ‘in Fiction’ series, but ahead of ‘menu update’ – with the proviso that I might bump a new Mirabelle story up as joint Number One if I decide to write one for my NaNo novel.

Number Six: My present WIP, working title Makeshift Memories. I’ve almost completed the third, or is it the fourth draft of this novel. It’s been a challenging but a fun one. This is the first time I’ve written anything with a historical strand running through it. It has required heaps of research and a lot of editing, but I do believe I’m on the home straight.

Am I happy to put all other projects aside in order to get this draft completed before NaNoWriMo – without rushing the process and thereby not doing it justice?

The answer is not a difficult one. It’s a resounding, ‘YES!’  If I can stick in with it for a few more weeks, it will be ready to send off for a second round of beta reads, then I can give it a final edit during December and hopefully publish it in the new year. 🙂 So that one has to go top of the list, at least until November, when the time-sensitivity issue arises for NaNoWriMo. Interestingly, Makeshift Memories  was my NaNoWriMo novel for November 2017.

Gold Plated, my latest release, was my NaNo novel in 2016 and is now available both as paperback and ebook here. It hasn’t been out terribly long, yet already it’s garnering some lovely reviews and comments. Makes my heart sing when I know I’ve written something that brings other people pleasure.

And Number Seven: Blogposts, FaceBook posts and other Social Media posts. These not only play a necessary part in promoting and marketing my novels, they are also FUN! And, as I said at the outset, my criteria for prioritising is FUN.

I enjoy writing blogposts here, love posting in my Facebook group here, my Instagram account here, and following others on Social Media.

How much time am I happy to spend doing these things? Can I cut the time I browse just for entertainment? Can I ignore the distractions and maximise the use of my time on Social Media in order to make good progress with all my other projects?

This is a more difficult answer, a more difficult one to prioritise. It’s a ‘Yes,’ and a ‘No.’ It has to be high on my list because it’s fun, and it doesn’t require as much time and energy as the other projects on my list. But can I stop being distracted by interesting and fun posts while I’m on Social Media? No. And why would I want to be? It’s fun. I could cut down on distraction and browsing time, I suppose, but realistically, knowing who I’m talking about here – me – time will be happily spent there, not always productively, but hey! why do I do any of these projects if not for pleasure?

So my decision is to take this one off the list altogether and run it alongside all the others on a day to day basis.

So how does my list look now? Well, for starters, it’s now a list of six, instead of seven 🙂

1. WIP, Makeshift Memories, first until November when

2. NaNoWriMo will take over pole position.

3. The ‘in Fiction’ books

4. New Mirabelle books – with the proviso if I start a new one, it goes to 1. in November

5. Menu bar

6. Scrivener

How does your list look? Has the order of yours changed from how they came into your head? How happy are you with the prioritising of your list?

In fact, what I’m going to aim to do is a little of this and a little of that, working in order of priority in that I’ll make sure the ones high on my list receive most of my writing time. Believe it or not, I do have other fun things I take time for 🙂

I’d love to hear what your list is about, how you feel about it now you’ve examined it with a view to prioritising the items, and how you plan to implement it. If you need any help with the exercise, do let me know and I’d be happy to be your sounding board.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable read, all my books are available in paperback and ebook format here.

3D CC Promo Visual

Oh, and please don’t be put off by Amazon telling you the paperback is out of stock. Of course it’s out of stock – it’s Print on Demand. Amazon never keep a stock of any POD books. Click to buy it and they order a print copy. That’s the process they always use.

Don’t forget to have fun with your list.

I wonder how many Things You Would Like To Do.



Oops, I’ve done it again!

In August, I wrote about Tunnel Vision, about emerging from a tunnel and seeing all the things that had been hidden from view. If you read the post before or if you have followed the link and have just read it, you will know that I was talking about how engrossed I get when writing a new novel.

Well, I’ve done it again!

I couldn’t resist taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. Once again, that meant writing a new novel – well, the first draft of one, anyway. The target is to write 50,000 words in the month of November, a daily average of 1,667 words for thirty days. ‘Since I’ve managed to adopt the habit of writing every day since February, how hard could it be?’ I asked myself. The answer? Only as hard as I make it. So I decided to plan this new novel out and get to know my characters pretty well before I embarked on the actual writing on November 1st. That really helped. Throughout the month, I was never lost. I always knew where my story was headed – or I thought I did.

Right at the end of the month, my main character seemed to develop a mind of her own and she decided to take me in another direction. I guess she didn’t like the ending I’d planned, and in one pivotal conversation with another character, the story swung off my carefully plotted route.

Now, remembering I’m already in that tunnel, already have tunnel vision, but the pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel has been growing bigger and brighter for days. Suddenly, the light felt like an oncoming vehicle instead of the way out of the tunnel. Could I avoid crashing? Would this be the end of the road for my novel?

Don’t be silly. Of course not. We writers can’t let our characters totally take over. They need us to guide them. They may think they’re in charge. We may even talk about them as though they are. But they are not. They are our creations. We are in charge.

I hope you heard the stern tone in my voice there, because that’s the tone I took when I sat down with Rosanna – yes, that’s her name, this wayward character in my latest novel, Gold Plated. We sat down with a mug of hot chocolate and a piece of cake and sorted this thing out. Okay, she wasn’t comfortable with the original plan, but I wasn’t happy with the direction she looked like taking. It couldn’t lead to the destination I’d had in mind from the outset. One of us had to give, didn’t we? Or could we compromise? Could Rosanna have her say, speak her mind as she just had and still get back on track?

Of course she can. I’m in charge, remember. It’s up to me to bring her round by carefully constructing a wee diversion that allows us both to feel happy with the outcome. And that’s what I did, bringing in the first draft of Gold Plated at 59,000 words by the 30th November, just as I emerged from the tunnel.

It’s only the 1st of December, so I’m still blinking in the light, but I see I have neglected this poor old blog again. I owe it an apology. I’d love to think someone might have missed me.

So, back on track. Still fleshing out Gold Plated, but with a little less intensity so there’s time and energy for all the other writing-related projects I delight in, including the final edit of For What it’s Worth the spin-off of The Reluctant Detective Series I was writing. My lovely daughter-in-law, Michelle, has almost finished painting a gorgeous cover for it and soon I hope it will be all systems go for publication.

What fun we writers have 🙂

Did you have a go with NaNoWriMo this year? Do tell me in the comments how you got on.

Or have you read any good books lately? Ones that take you off into that glorious tunnel of trees, where everything is beautiful but you can hardly see anything outside it – the dishes, the ironing, the cat’s empty saucer …


You can read Christine Campbell’s books for FREE with Kindle Unlimited, or buy them in eBook or paperback format here on Amazon.

2014 NaNoWriMo Winner


It’s December and the weather has turned wintry and cold here in Scotland, but I have that warm and fuzzy feeling inside left over from November’s marathon writing sprint. Now, I know the marathon and the sprint are two different races, so it may seem as though I am mixing my metaphors, but it’s what NaNoWriMo is for me. It’s a marathon in that it continues right through the month, but it’s also a sprint in that at the end of that month I have a first draft and that used to take me months, if not years, to accomplish before I cottoned on to NaNo.
NaNO has not changed how much hard work I put into writing a novel, but it has revolutionised how long it takes me to do that work.
Declaring a daily word-count is such a strong impetus to keep me writing every day. And, yes, I have tried just setting myself a daily target. It doesn’t do it for me. NaNoWriMo does: it just works for me. I know it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly is mine. I have completed three NaNos, coming out of each with that precious first draft, that invaluable something to get my editing teeth into.


My first NaNo novel was Here At The Gatea Contemporary Women’s Novel. If you haven’t read it, you can get your copy right now by clicking on the title, which will take you straight to Amazon, if I’ve managed the link correctly.

Here is a brief synopsis of Here At The Gate

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 by her own daughter and she knew she had to force through the darkness. She needed to remember what she had spent a lifetime forgetting.


My July Camp NaNoWriMo 2014 novel and my November NaNoWriMo novel? Well they are both in the editing phase and are due to be released very soon, as parts one and two of a series about Mirabelle, who becomes a very reluctant detective when her daughter goes missing.


Meeting Mirabelle

I’d like to introduce you to Mirabelle Milligan, the main protagonist in the series of novels I am currently working on. I have written the first one, half of the second, and am about to embark on writing the first draft of the third during the month of July at Camp NaNoWriMo.


But, let me take you back to the beginning…


The letter had finally come and Mirabelle suggested they should go out for a meal and to the cinema to celebrate.
She gave Summer a quick one-armed hug while shoving her bare feet into floppy sheepskin boots and preparing to rush out the door to work. “After all, not every day a girl gets accepted into Uni,” she said, giving her daughter a kiss. “But you know I’ve never been much for throwing a party. Love them! Think it’s the Jamaican in me. Always up for a bit of carnival.” Hands in the air, bracelets scurrying down plump brown arms into the folds of loose sleeves, she gyrated her large hips to an internal rhythm of the Caribbean. “Love, love, love a party!” The rows of beads trailing from her neck bobbed and swung, a colourful waterfall of sound. “Just no use at organising them.” One last shimmy in defiance of the look of disgust directed at her wobbling boobs, and she handed Summer her schoolbag and urged her towards the door. “But we absolutely have to celebrate somehow!”
“You’ll definitely be home from work in time?” Summer asked with a sigh.
“Of course I will!”
Summer stood her ground, blocking the doorway. “There’s no ‘Of course!’ about it, Mum. You’re never home before eight o’clock. The film starts at seven thirty. If we’re to get something to eat, you need to be home six at the latest.”
“Okay! Okay! I can do it! Don’t get your knickers in a twist!”
Summer gave her a scathing look. “Ugh! That’s so yesterday, Mum!”
“Well, I’m a ‘yesterday girl’. Could’ve been a great flower person in the sixties.” She held out her long, multi-coloured skirt and spun around on the spot. Her many rings and bangles sparkled in the light cast by the ornate, crystal-encrusted chandelier in the tiny, over-bright hallway. “Being a teenager in the nineties just didn’t have the same cachet.”
“You didn’t need the sixties.” Summer scowled.
“True! Ohhh,” she cooed, stroking her daughter’s cheek. “Look at your pretty wee freckled nose all scrunched up there.” She tapped it gently. “Do I embarrass you, my petal?”
“All the time, Mother.”
Mirabelle shrugged. “Well, get used to it, kiddo! I’m unlikely to change!”—words tossed behind her with the kiss she blew as she grabbed a shawl from the back of the door. Draping the material round her shoulders, she picked up her big floppy bag and danced past Summer, out the door and down the communal stairs. ‘Unlikely to change!’—words she’d later long to take back.
To rewind that day: push herself away from her desk, away from the stack of papers. Step crazily backwards, her shawl flying from the back of her chair into her hand, draping itself round her shoulders. Retreat through the office door, pulling it closed in front of her, her feet faultlessly finding the flight of stairs behind. She’d back down them, seeming to sink into each step, her knees straightening and flexing, straightening and flexing. Then walking backwards out into the street, her head bobbing as she took back morning greetings from colleagues and strangers.
Press rewind again to speed it up. The bus rushing in reverse, passengers embarking: flying effortlessly up the step, their backs to the open door, ignoring the ticket machine, ringing the bell as they sat in their seats. Passengers alighting, seeing only what they were leaving: strange knee-bent drops from the opened doors, taking their money from the ticket machine, catching it as it was spewed up from the top of columns of coins to jump into their palms. Mirabelle herself: taking the leap behind her, leaving go of the handrail as her feet found the pavement.
Back, back: a reverse salsa at the bus stop, taking back the sharing of her joy at the good news of her daughter’s acceptance to Edinburgh University, smiles disappearing into closed, reserved stranger’s faces.
Backwards: backwards dancing down the street and up the stairs, rushing, rushing, unusual lightness in the retroflexive ascent. Up the stairs and through the door and, there and then, standing beside her daughter, “I’ll change!” she’d say. “If you want me to, I’ll change.”
But, with no rewind facility available, no benefit of hindsight in play, Mirabelle neglected to change old habits. She came back from the office, late as usual, with the customary flustered apology ready on her lips and a placatory tub of ice cream in her hands as she laboriously climbed the stairs to their flat. She had got lost in the clutter that was her desk at work, writing reports about the safety or otherwise of other people’s children.
“Sorry, pal,” she said as she pushed through the door. “Not too late, are we?” She didn’t shrug out of her thick woollen shawl, though it was damp from the drizzle she’d hurried through. “Ready to go?” She pushed open the living-room door. “Summer? You there?” she said to the empty room.
Still holding the ice-cream, a possible cause of the shivering tinkle her bangles made, she stuck her head round the door of her daughter’s bedroom. “Summer?”
Expecting to find her lolling across the bed or sitting at her desk tapping away on her computer, Mirabelle walked in, the ice-cream held out before her as a peace offering. But the bed, duvet neatly pulled up as Summer left it every morning, was untouched, the computer unopened. Summer wasn’t home.


The three books of the Reluctant detective series and all Christine’s novels are available on Amazon Kindle and as Paperbacks.

The Countdown is On!


It’s almost time to pack my bags and head to camp.

Last November, I joined NaNoWriMo for the first time and enjoyed it enormously! I could not have imagined how much I was going to enjoy it when I embarked on the crazy idea of writing 50,000 words in the month. I had been struggling to discipline myself to write something, anything, every day, forget about the idea of writing around 1,665 words every day. In the event, I averaged 2,000 and came in a NaNoWriMo Winner with 60,000 words and a complete first draft of a novel.

That first draft became a second, a third and so on until it became my fourth published novel, HERE AT THE GATE.

Here at the gate 3

This July, I’ve decided to go for it again. Although I have written something every day since that glorious stint in November, I have not been writing anywhere near so much and most of it has been editing and marketing. I am ready to feel the excitement and exhilaration of letting words flow untrammelled from my mind to my fingers, leaving a story in their wake.

Bring it on!

Camp NaNoWriMo, here I come!

This time round, I’m a little more prepared. I hope that doesn’t spoil the fun. I have planned and plotted this novel, and it will be the third in a series I’ve been writing for some time. Some l-0-n-g time. The series is about Mirabelle, a lady whose daughter goes missing. While searching for her daughter, Mirabelle picks up the habit of finding other people. Not a habit she wanted.

July’s novel will partially be set on the Island of Skye, so next week, the first week in July, guess where I’ll be?

Yes, my bags will be packed in reality and I am off to the Island of Skye to do my research as I write my novel.

My Camp NaNoWriMo cabin will be a cottage, and my cabin mate will be my better half, but I feel confident I’ll get my writing done because there’s plenty of football on the television these evenings. Don’t know what that’s about!

Doubt I’ll have much internet connection, so I’ll save the gorgeous photos I’m bound to take till the following weeks, but, prepare yourself, as long as the rain stays away, there is some spectacular scenery on Skye and Mirabelle is bound to notice.

Just to whet your appetite, tomorrow I’ll introduce you to Mirabelle and her daughter, Summer.


#Novelicious #NaNoWriMo #IslandofSkye #ReadaNovel #MissingPeople

The First Time

They say, ‘There’s a first time for everything.’ and I guess that’s a truism if ever there was one. But, self-evident or not, it may come as a surprise sometimes to find yourself doing something for the first time. Having stood up in the circle and declared, ‘I’m a writer!’ it shouldn’t really have surprised me that, at some point in  my career, I’d be asked to give a talk about writing…but it did…surprise me, I mean. It delighted me too.

Asked to read excerpts from my latest novel, Here At The Gate, my fourth published novel, and to talk about my writing process and getting published the indie way, I felt excited, but nervous too.

I’m passionate about writing, delighted with how Here At The Gate, my #NaNoWriMo 2013 novel, turned out, and passionate too about indie publishing, I knew I could do it. But could I do it well? Well enough to not let down myself and my good friend, Jane, and her boss, who organised the event?

Well, I got through it and it seemed to go well. I’ve had lots of good feedback,


I signed and sold some books,



and I had some lovely chats with new-found friends.


So, yes, this was my first ‘Author Event’ and I hope it will not be my last.


FINAL Front Cover

Available on Amazon:

Barnes & Noble, Waterstones

and can be ordered from bookstores.


#HereAtTheGate #NaNoWriMo #FeedARead #AuthorEvent #BookSigning


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!


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.


Slash and Burn


Well, the time has come

It has to be done

My story’s too long

I must slash and burn.

The beginning is boring

The ending is weak

Something is needed

Much more than a tweak.

With hindsight, I knew it

My darlings must go

I’m certain without them

My story will flow.

The first draft came easy

The writing was fun

Then came the hard work

The edits I’ve done.

The month of November

My story was written

I’ll try it again

With NaNoWriMo I’m smitten.

But the thing for just now

It has to be done

A last edit is needed

I must slash and burn.


#Editing #NaNoWriMo #WriteWhereYouAre #Slash and Burn #Writing