Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Let’s just take a minute to bask in the beauty of this fairy tale castle. Culzean Castle is located on the Ayrshire Cliffs of Maybole, which is on the Eastern coast of Scotland. After a little research, I picked this castle as the home of one of my characters in my current work in progress. His name is Mr Wessex, and he inherited this place from his mother’s family. Lucky guy, huh?

Mr Wessex moves from the South of England to Scotland upon his inheritance. He refuses to give up on the castle, which is my story is in need of repair and fresh funds. In actuality, this castle was built in late 18th century, maybe 30 years or so before Mr Wessex comes to own it.

I love writing fiction. Need a problem? Invent one! Need a solution? Create it!

The real Culzean Castle was designed by a gentleman named Robert Adam. Though he grew up in Scotland, Robert Adam traveled to mainland Europe to take in as much architectural knowledge as possible. When he returned to England in 1758, he and his brother John began to work hard to establish themselves. Eventually, their style came to be known as the Adam style. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “The Adam style was marked by a new lightness and freedom in the use of the classical elements of architecture—a fresh combination of many architectural elements.” Check out the full article here for more fascinating info about Robert Adam.

The oval staircase at Culzean Castle. Photo courtesy of National Trust for Scotland

Beta Reading Is Amazing

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I recently sent two different works to complete strangers for a beta read. For those of you who don’t know, beta readers are fellow writers who volunteer to read through your work. They offer constructive criticism and feedback. I had never participated in either end of the process, so I decided it was high time.

The result has been truly worthwhile. I have received incredibly helpful notes and ideas. Throughout the many years that I have been writing, I have followed the same process. I write and revise, write and revise. It is always me looking at each successive draft. Not only did it keep me from moving forward with my writing, but it kept me from seeing new possibilities within my own work.

I also decided to take on some work as a beta reader. It has been more fun and informative than I thought it would be! I find it really interesting to read other author’s works in progress. To see what people are working on, before an editor gets to it, has been great. And the whole process has given me a stronger sense of community.

And you know what? The writing community is amazing, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.

Writing Research is the Best Research

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I often have to do a bit of research for my writing. This latest novel, which is set here on Earth in the near-ish future, required some digging into some interesting topics. I’m currently researching types of explosives (and wondering if I’m getting myself placed on a watch list somewhere). Before that, it was the city of Plymouth in England. This same story called for information about the Banana River in Florida, and the Darling River in Australia.

At one point, my heroin needs a place to stay in London and she chooses to stay at a bed and breakfast. I knew just what I was looking for (and indeed, what I had already written), and I wanted to find something like it in London. I guess I thought it would be cool if something that it were realistic and available. Well guess what? I found it!

I give you, The Hurlingham Bed & Breakfast:

I mean…wow.
Perfection

It is simply lovely looking. Now, most of you know that I have never been to London, or England, or anywhere except a small town in Canada. No matter! I have Google maps and street view. Using my super tech skills (haha), I did some sleuthing and realized that this lovely, perfect, idyllic gem of a place is just too far from the hospital in downtown London that I chose for some important scenes.

Not to be stumped, I decided to do a bit more research and find something closer. And ta-da! I found a hip, affordable hostel that I would absolutely stay in if I didn’t have to share a room with strangers (sorry, it’s a thing).

I give you, The Horse & Stables:

It just says ‘London’ to me.

This place is an awesome looking hostel right in the heart of London. It’s situated across the Thames from the Palace of Westminster. Westminster is also a key location in my novel, so that was a plus. The Horse & Stables looks really cool. Sort of hip. I mean, check out these other photos:

Totally slick, but not the right fit for my heroin. What’s an author to do? Smash ’em together and bend the truth! So while my bed and breakfast isn’t exactly either of these, it was inspired by both of them. Add these two spots to my (very) long list of places to visit once I get to England!

Other Works in Progress

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The opposite of historical

I actually write in a few different genres, although all my pieces are romantic in nature. Why? Because I love a happily ever after ending. Quite simple, really. I adore historical romances, and have written several, including one that has actually been accepted (squee! check it out here). My current work in progress, however, is not historical in the slightest. In fact, it’s set in the future.

Tale as old as time

At its core, my latest work is a classic romance. A young woman meets a young man, there is attraction, obstacles to overcome, and love to be found. What’s different for me this time is the setting. Sora, the heroine, lives in Florida–in the future. Far enough in the future that hovercars are a thing, and people live on the moon, but not so far off that things are unrecognizable.

The hook brings you back…hopefully

So without further ado, I give you my hook. That is, the little sentence that gives you the briefest taste of what the novel is about. When 20-year-old programmer Sora intercepts an incriminating message from an unknown sender, she must decide whom to trust as she races to save Earth from intergalactic war.

The problem is, I don’t have a title. This is not surprising. Old professors at Maryville University could tell you all about my lame titles. I’m open to ideas! Naming stories is just plain difficult. I might have to let my husband name this one. He’s an idea man.