Tag Archives: Creative writing

A great start to 2016

I’m having a wonderful start to 2016.

If that sounds complacent or boastful, trust me, it isn’t. It’s relief and joy. I had an up and down (more down than up) 15 months leading up to the New Year, so to be able to say with confidence that the first 10 days of the year are good is a remarkable feeling.

Facebook cover

I published my first novel on 30th December. After two years of sitting on it, too scared to put it out in the world, I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to move onto ProjectP (as novel number two shall henceforth be named until I publish it!) until I had released ‘The Broken Heart Repair Plan’ into the world.

January 1st dawned with a nice handful of sales and a heart-warming and loving reaction from friends and family. Then, on my first day back at work, I made it onto the New Year Woman’s Hour phone in, which focused on big changes that we women were planning to make in 2016.

Having taken five years in total to produce Novel Number One, I have resolved to write, edit and publish ProjectP within the year and it felt amazing to say that out loud, live on air to circa 4m listeners. It made it a commitment, not a resolution, and that feels different; more solid, more planned, much more achievable.

Yesterday, I put that commitment into action. I went to the first Writers’ Circle brunch of the year and wrote the first few paragraphs of the first chapter of ProjectP. I read them out to three friends later in the day and the reaction was wonderful – ‘more please!’ It doesn’t get much better than that.

And today, here I am, starting my writing day with a new blog post, which will be the first of many and regular ones.

So for what it’s worth, here’s my New Year’s advice for any writers who might be struggling to turn a resolution into a commitment:

  1. Join a writing group. The support is tremendous and the encouragement to keep writing is regular and a vital top up.
  2. Just write. Kevin, one of the guys in my group, said he writes at least 500 words each day and he works full time like I do. If he can, I can. Make it a habit.
  3. Publicly voice your commitment to your writing project – put it on Facebook, Tweet it, tell all your friends, blog it, write it in capital letters in your personal journey. Commit to it publicly and you increase the chances of making it happen.
  4. Write. Even when you feel dull and lacking in inspiration, just write.
  5. If you don’t have a specific project, then find competitions to enter. Even if you don’t send off the finished piece, you will at least have a rich source of writing prompts to choose from.

Happy New Year to all writers, everywhere around the world. Here’s hoping 2016 is a stellar year for all of us.

Hankering after a typewriter

Underwood Portable Typewriter
Underwood Portable Typewriter (Photo credit: seychelles88)


I came across some creative writing from 20 years ago today. Most of it was written using a manual typewriter. This was before home computers and laptops became affordable. It was such a physical pleasure to read the words – the soft, slight indentation of the ink on paper. Mine was a portable, in a blue case.


As I read, I could almost smell the ribbon, ink and that soft metallic odour. It was as if the ghost of the keys were under my fingertips. I swear I heard the clack, clack, clack of the keys going down and the thud of the metal bars as they hit the paper. Oh, and the ding of the bell as I pushed the return lever! I loved that sound! I’m shivering with nostalgic pleasure just writing this and wishing it were being bashed out in old-fashioned ink and print, not on a beautiful white MacBook!


It has left me hankering after a typewriter. This looks a bit like mine did but I can’t be sure what brand it was. The question is what did I do with it and why?!


I have never been an eBay participant (too much temptation to spend small but incremental sums of money on randoms luxuries) but I find myself tempted to ask a friend to bid for me! I’m a touch typist but how would I cope with having to push down on the keys and therefore writing at a pace that can’t keep up with my brain?!


Does anyone else use a typewriter?


By Carole Scott



Sharing my latest short story: half way through


I am a ‘not-so-secret’ fiction writer. I would love to share more of my work on this blog but most of the short story competitions I enter preclude entries that have been published, even on a personal blog.

As for my novel, well, apart from the extract that invites readers to walk into Petra, I feel that it should stay well under wraps until I have explored its potential fully.

I noticed a competition a few weeks’ ago, for which the brief was something along the lines of ‘your protagonist receives an unexpected telephone call. What happens next?’ I had a spare ten minutes while waiting for a friend in a café and so I scribbled a few words.

What do you think should happen next? The obvious path is that the news creates a terrible rift in her family but I’d like to think of something a little bit different and I’m open to ideas (excluding science fiction – that’s just not my thing!).

Here goes:

Out of the Blue

I wasn’t expecting the call. How could I when I had no idea that a different past existed?

The first warm and sunny Saturday of the year had called to me and I had leapt out of bed, eager to drink in every last drop of liquid light.

It was early, just six thirty. I strode up the canal path towards the woods. The only other folk about were the dog-walkers, that polite breed of people who nod in recognition to others of their kind. I wasn’t one of them but I always waved a cheery ‘good morning’.

When I took the call I was two hours in, sitting on a bench in a delicious sun trap, enjoying the country silence – bees waking up from winter, birds twittering high above and a light breeze tickling the unfurling spring leaves. The harsh jingle of my phone broke the peace. I was tempted to ignore it and looking back, I wish I had. I didn’t recognise the number.

“Serena Ducasse,” I answered.

“Miss Ducasse, you don’t know me. I’m calling regarding rather a delicate matter. Is now a good time to talk?” The voice intrigued me. It sounded European.

“As good as ever. How can I help you?”

If I had known the destruction this man would cause, I would have left the phone untouched and the call unreturned. Curiosity is a powerful drug and one I have never been able to resist.

The caller’s next words left me reeling. “Your brother has been in a car accident and has died.”

“I’m sorry, Mr…”

“Sorry, Mr Marchal, I should have introduced myself.”

“Mr Marchal, there has been a mistake. My brother died forty years ago of meningitis. He was just 18. You have the wrong family.”

“Robert Adam Ducasse, born 2nd July 1948?” A note of hesitation quivered at the base of Mr Marchal’s voice. “Does that mean anything?”

“Nothing. You have the wrong Ducasse.” My voiced tailed off. A feeling of dread began to percolate through my body.

“I admit this is strange but I am Mr Ducasse’s lawyer and he very specifically mentioned you when we drew up his last will and testament some years ago. Are you Serena Michelle Ducasse, born 2nd July 1953?”

“I am but I didn’t have an older brother. Do you know his mother’s and father’s names? I’m sure we can clear this up.” I was snappy with tension.

“I do. I have his birth certificate here. Margaret O’Hara…”

I interrupted him, relief flooding my voice. “No. My mother was Imelda Mary McGuinness.”

“And your father?” asked Mr Marchal in a low, grave voice.

As I uttered the name ‘Jean Alexandre Ducasse’ Mr Marchal spoke at the same time.

“I think we should meet, Miss Ducasse. Mr Ducasse has left you a very significant estate.”

© Carole Scott 2013

All ideas welcome!

Natural Fern Garden
The perfect spring day was ruined. (Photo credit: Distant Hill)

By Carole Scott

Jordan: walking through the Siq

English: Petra, view on Al Khaznehfrom the siq...
English: Petra, view on Al Khaznehfrom the siq Deutsch: Petra, Blick auf Khazne al-Firaun aus dem Siq (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


My favourite place in the world is Petra, the hidden Nabatean city in southern Jordan.


It is hard to describe the hold and the pull that this mystical, magical place has on me. I visited first in 1994, before tourism took off. It was the year that the Jordanian and Israeli governments opened the border and day trippers were just beginning to hop over from cruises.


I was with Explore Worldwide, back in the days when they really WERE all about small group travel (sadly, that changed many years ago). There were eight of us plus a British tour leader, who was passionate about Jordan and hugely knowledgeable about the geology of the beautiful rocks.


It was a formative holiday for me and when I took a short career break eight years ago to become a tour leader, I was thrilled to be sent to the Middle East, to take tourists on a circuit of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.


Petra has remained an inspiration and I hope to take a small group of friends there in spring 2014, Inshallah.


In the meantime, it has been the backdrop to my biggest creative project to date: a novel. I have no idea whether the finished article will be of publishable standard but I have loved every minute spent writing this tale.


I thought I’d share the passage in my manuscript where the protagonist walks through the Siq for the first time. For those of you who have visited Petra, I’d love to know whether the description resonates. For those of you who haven’t, I hope it inspires you to visit. You will be richly rewarded….


Alex woke with the call to prayer. She liked the plaintive wail. It was a powerful reminder that she was in a strange land.


She crept down the hallway, anxious not to wake anyone and feeling like a thief leaving the scene of a crime. In reception, she was offered a small breakfast. She relished the strong coffee and wrapped up the food.


She was at the entrance gate at six. The first small rays of light were stretching over the hills behind her to light the path ahead. Alex was surprised at how open it was. She had expected to be surrounded by the tall narrow rock walls of a gorge. This was a proper track, wide enough for a car and open to the skies. The rocks formed a tight wall to her right with the valley stretching fifteen metres to her left. There was no one around but she could hear horses whinnying and men talking in a stable block somewhere behind her.


Alex came to the start of the gorge. Huge rocks rose in front of her, with an opening enticing her in. She felt goose bumps on her arms and a shiver at the back of her neck.


She spent the next half hour in wide-eyed wonder; the ravine was narrow – in some places just a couple of metres wide – and the rocks curved up as far as the eye could see, with a narrow band of pale blue light above. Each twist and turn brought a new pattern in the sandstone and Alex stopped every few minutes to admire the layered waves of colour. The peace was broken by an occasional flurry of wings, as birds took off from nests high above. Alex wrapped the silence around her like a pashmina. It was both spooky and comforting.


Footsteps made her jump. She swung round as two figures emerged from a bend. She smiled and the couple nodded a silent greeting in return. Alex waited a few minutes before carrying on. With each swirling bend in the path, Alex wondered if the famous view would be just around the next corner.


There it was; a slender, uneven slice of light pink embossed with columns and carvings. Alex gasped, the familiar postcard sight made new and exhilarating in real life. She paused, allowing her eyes to adjust to the light, and looked into the narrow frame.


She emerged into sunshine. The tall façade rose up before her in an area surrounded by towering cliff faces. A path broke the rocks to her right, disappearing into a bend. She gazed at the sight in front of her. El Kazneh! Tears pricked her eyes and although no one was around, she felt foolish for being so moved by a stone monument. Alex marvelled that this grandiose, intricate façade was carved out of the rock, not built into it. Pairs of square marks ran up the side, as if someone had carved footholds in order to climb up to create the higher reaches.


She walked toward the building and climbed up the steps into the shade. There was nothing inside but it was impressive all the same, the cool, dank walls covered in wavy stripes of multi-coloured sandstone.


By the time she came out, the rough-hewn square was full of activity. A camel was folded onto its knees by the steps, its prehistoric moans echoing in the square, and a few Bedouin men were unpacking things to sell.

By Carole Scott


Canine Austen: romance novel for dogs?

I was a grumpy old cow this morning, when I boarded the 6:11 a.m. train to London. I grouched my way into a seat and grumpily slapped on my slap while sipping strong coffee and reading the Indy.

You can probably tell I’m not my sweetest early in the morning. So when a large ‘country’ chap in a diamond-stitched jacket plonked down next to me, I was tempted to growl ‘get out of my space’.

It was this kind of jacket

Barbour Jacket..you know the type.

…but bigger and filled with a pink-cheeked man.

But I’m a nice, well-mannered person so I continued with the paper and the coffee. A quick glance at the book he had laid on the table changed my mood from growl to woof. ‘Gundog Sense and Sensibility‘ was the title that greeted me.

Being an Austen fan, the imagination gets to work.

‘In Stephen Wilson’s charming tale of two dogs Eliza, a black lab puppy, falls for the  dastardly but great-smelling Brutus, when he rescues her in the park from a surprise hailstorm. Unknown to her, loyal retriever Edgar is waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces when Brutus’ true character is revealed. Meanwhile, older sister Janty is pining for pedigree pointer, Henry, whose owners have forbidden him to be with her. Will Janty ever find her true mate?’

Okay, so it’s less Austen and more Mills & Boon but you can see where I was going at 6.20.  It cheered me up no end – maybe I’ll even write a short story on the theme at some point…yeah, maybe not.

Alas, I can see from the image on Amazon that although the book purports to be about the ‘inner nature’ of gundogs, it is really about getting them to fetch things. Good old Wilson Stephens, I wonder if he’s ever read any Jane Austen?

Gundogs - they're sensible, you know.

By Carole Scott

Thank god for pen and paper

I started writing a short story last weekend. I was in the sun on the Isle of Wight and started to scribble from an idea I’ve had buzzing my head for a couple of years.

Please note the verb ‘scribble’. Thank god I did. I had a note pad and pen, as I was on a walking break with no computer. I’ll put some pics up later, as I was in a beautiful garden attached to Northcourt House.

This morning, sitting in bed, I decided to type up the story so far, to see what it looked like and how it was going. 700 or so words, dark and funny but mainly dark, and I was feeling quite chuffed. My stomach rumbled and I looked at the time – midday! Time for brunch before going to visit friends for tea.

I was struggling to think of a name for the story and that blank in my mind prompted me to ‘don’t save’ instead of ‘save as’.

Thank god I started this story in a notebook. All I have wasted is 45 minutes typing and reading but it’s all there to be rescued later!

Lesson learnt? Save a document before you start filling it with creative writing. Who knows what mistakes your musings will cause!Image

By Carole Scott