It’s All About The Books – Book Week Scotland 2023 @scottishbooktrust

As it’s currently Book Week Scotland here in my home country, I reckoned now would be a good time for a post about my current favourite contemporary Scottish authors.

It wasn’t easy to pick only a few of the many wonderful writers who are either Scottish or based in Scotland so in the end I went with the ones who came immediately to mind. So here you go…

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of my blog that my favourite genre is contemporary romance so I’m going to start with that category.

Margaret Amatt: amazingly prolific and author of two wonderful series – one set on the Scottish island of Mull and the other set in the Scottish Highlands in fictional area of Glenbriar. I can’t wait to read her latest in the Glenbriar series Snowdown at the Old Schoolhouse which will be published in a few days’ time on the 18th November.

From the back cover:

Whatever happens this Christmas, they didn’t forecast this!

When charismatic and handsome weather presenter Marcus Bowman walks back into Willow Roxburgh’s life three weeks before Christmas, her quiet job as an admin worker at the Old Schoolhouse residential care centre in Glenbriar is shattered. He’s not only the man she used to crush on, he’s also the one who thwarted her TV forecasting dreams.

But she’s no longer the anonymous studio assistant; she’s secretly Scotland’s new favourite weather forecaster, Rocky Rainman.

With the Schoolhouse facing closure, Marcus is on an assignment to drum up festive support. However, he’s discovered the internet sensation Rocky Rainman lives somewhere nearby and is determined to expose him after Rocky’s recent damaging comments on social media. Seeing Willow, the girl he used to obsess over, shakes his priorities.

When a blizzard hits, Willow and Marcus are snowed in, and she discovers her perception of him wasn’t as accurate as her forecasts. Marcus isn’t convinced it’ll be a white Christmas, but he’s determined to win Willow’s heart. Can their new love weather storm if he discovers her secret? Because how can there be a future for Marcus Bowman and Rocky Rainman?

Author Website

Nina Kaye: writes lovely standalone romantic novels. My favourite one is One Night in Edinburgh. The story starts at Hogmanay so it’s a good one to read over the coming festive season as the new year approaches.

From the back cover:

One night. But how many second chances?

Heartbroken on Hogmanay, Steph wanders through the Edinburgh street party until she bumps into Jamie. He’s funny, attractive and clearly interested. In a word, he’s perfect – but she didn’t get his number. All she remembers is his lime and mango beer.

Determined to be reunited, Steph tracks him by a milk carton style campaign, sticking a message to his favourite beer across local pubs. Although eventually reunited, Jamie is frequently uncontactable and evasive, and Steph worries she’s on the path to heartbreak once more.

There’s a fine line between being patient and being gullible, and Steph’s reaching her limit. When a chance encounter with Jamie reveals his secret, she faces an even tougher decision. Should Steph give love another chance, or was one night in Edinburgh all she and Jamie were meant to have?

Author Website

Mhairi McFarlane: I’ve enjoyed all of this authors books very much. Her latest is Between Us and I loved it.

From the back cover:

 When Joe and Roisin join their group of friends for a weekend away, it’s a triple celebration – a birthday, an engagement and the launch of Joe’s new crime drama on TV.

But when Roisin sees secrets she shared with Joe play out on the TV screen, she knows that between us means nothing at all.

Roisin finds herself searching for clues to the truth – about her life, their history, and the man she thought she loved. And it’s then that Roisin finds the most unexpected plot twist of them all. Among those same old friends, there’s a surprising potential for new beginnings . . .

Author Website

Maggie Christensen: Maggie is Scottish born but Australia dwelling and she writes romantic fiction where the main characters are ‘mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them’.  Her books are so refreshing as they show that falling in love can happen past the age of forty and that you’re never too old for love and romance. I’ve very much enjoyed her latest series set in the fictional town of Bellbird Bay in Queensland and the latest one in the series Celebrations in Bellbird Bay is yet another great read.

Sandy Elliot is devastated when a fire destroys her new business and doesn’t know how she can go on. When she receives a call from her grandmother’s old friend seeking her help, a trip to Bellbird Bay seems like the answer to a prayer.

Rob Andrews is proud of what he has achieved with Bay Bikes, the business he set up when he returned from Afghanistan. But the memory of his time there still plagues him and has always prevented him from forming any close relationships, afraid his deep-seated guilt and recurrent nightmares would scare off any woman foolish enough to become involved with him.

Upon meeting, it’s certainly not love at first sight. Sandy hates his beard and tattoos while Rob, though attracted to Sandy, doesn’t believe he deserves to find happiness.

But Bellbird Bay is a small town, and their paths continue to cross, making it impossible for them to ignore each other or to deny the attraction between them.

With the festive season approaching, can Sandy and Rob overcome their pasts and enjoy a celebration of their own?

Author website

As a writer of romantic fiction, it’s probably not surprising that it’s my go to genre for my reading as well. But I do occasionally need a break from all the kissing and cuddling and my go to genre when that happens is crime fiction.

Scotland has so many famous crime authors, it’s hard to pick a favourite but leaving aside the usual suspects (see what I did there?) … I have chosen just one author in this category and it’s one whose latest book is a wee bit different.

Helen Forbes: Author of several crime fiction novels, this writer’s latest, The Queen of Grime, is a refreshingly original take on this genre. The main character isn’t a detective or forensic scientist. She’s a crime scene cleaner and the story is gripping from the start.

From the back cover:

The Queen of Grime is about to pay. Big time.

Erin Flett is used to clearing up the sad debris of forgotten lives and tragic deaths. A crime and trauma scene cleaner from a deprived Edinburgh housing estate, she’s made a good life for herself and her daughter. But a secret from the past is about to catch up with her.

Ten years ago, Erin told a desperate lie with serious consequences. Now, someone else knows, and they’re determined to make Erin and her loved ones pay.

Following a terrifying late-night attack, the tension mounts until Erin doesn’t know who she can trust. As she struggles to keep her family safe, little does she realise just how close the danger is…

Queen of Grime is the first in a new series introducing Erin Flett, crime and trauma scene cleaner, and a rich cast of characters, set against the backdrop of the city of Edinburgh. With an occasional undertone of dark humour, it is a tale of family lies and family ties, friendships, secrets and loss.

Author website

And finally, it’s an author who took me surprise and completely blew me away …

Doug Johnstone: This author writes crime fiction – great crime fiction that I can highly recommend BUT this year he strayed into science fiction and not only that, I read it, and also not only that, I LOVED IT.

Yes, you read that right. I read and loved a book in a genre I never read!

The book? It was The Space Between Us and it was just fabulous. It’s been described elsewhere as a cross between ET and Local Hero – and it is that – and then some.

From the back cover:

Connecting will change everything…

Lennox is a troubled teenager with no family. Ava is eight months pregnant and fleeing her abusive husband. Heather is a grieving mother and cancer sufferer. They don’t know each other, but when a meteor streaks over Edinburgh, all three suffer instant, catastrophic strokes…

…only to wake up the following day in hospital, miraculously recovered.

When news reaches them of an octopus-like creature washed up on the shore near where the meteor came to earth, Lennox senses that some extra-terrestrial force is at play. With the help of Ava, Heather and a journalist, Ewan, he rescues the creature they call ‘Sandy’ and goes on the run.

But they aren’t the only ones with an interest in the alien … close behind are Ava’s husband, the police and a government unit who wants to capture the creature, at all costs. And Sandy’s arrival may have implications beyond anything anyone could imagine…

Author website:

Whether or not you’re a Scot, have you read and enjoyed any Scottish based/authored books recently or in the past? Have you attented any Book Week Scotland events in person or in line? Please do feel free to share and comment below.

You can find out all about Book Week and the many events on offer (some of them online) here at their website

Staying Positive: in writing and in real life #positivenews #happyendings #writing #ovacome #ovariancancer #romanticfiction @yesshecan @debbiemjohnson @Ovacome @PositiveNewsUK

Image shows positivity concept on cork bulletin board – colourful sticky notes with a smiley

As I say in the description of my blog, it’s all about Writing, Reading and Reflecting, and this month it was easy for me to see a theme of positivity running through all three.

In my writing I’m on the home straight with my latest novel and the happy (and therefore positive) ending for me and my two main characters is in sight. And no, that’s not a spoiler. I write romantic fiction and the deal that I, and just about all other romance writers, have with our readers is that our books will end with a happy ever after. What matters is the story of how the characters get to their happy ending, overcoming all sorts of obstacles and challenges along the way.  

In my reading too there’s been lots of positivity. I’ve read some heart-warming romances including these two:

Virtual Strangers by Sam Canning

From the back cover:

The Flatshare meets a modern You’ve Got Mail

Do you believe in love at first type?

When Ada set up her own PR firm from a coffee shop, she didn’t expect to meet journalist Fraser. Also working there daily, he soon becomes a friend. Reporting on interesting things to do around Edinburgh, Fraser ropes Ada into accompanying him on his assignments.

As they work side-by-side Ada can’t help but notice how attractive Fraser is, and how well they get along. But, Ada has been chatting to a guy she met on an Agatha Christie fan fiction site, and she can’t stop wondering about him. His interests are the same as hers, and the anonymity helps them both be more honest and open. As Ada’s messages with the mystery man become deeper, she thinks she’s falling for him.

Ada is torn between Fraser and Myster-E – but can you have real feelings for someone when you’re virtual strangers?

Falling for You by Debbie Johnson

From the back cover:

Sometimes it takes life falling apart …to piece yourself back together!

Single mum Jenny’s life is turned upside-down (quite literally) when her beloved cottage on the Norfolk coast falls off a cliff. And so, with the storm raging on, Jenny and her eighteen-year-old son Charlie are forced to take refuge in her neighbour, Luke’s, cosy campervan.

It’s a tight squeeze for the three of them – and Luke’s adorable dachshund, Betty – but somehow they make it work. And when far-too-handsome Luke suggests a spontaneous road trip around England, it ignites a desire for adventure in Jenny she thought long extinguished!

And soon she begins to wonder whether losing everything might just have been the best thing that ever happened to her… I can highly recommend both of the above books.

But I’ve also read and enjoyed some thought-provoking and very positive non-fiction too.   First of all there’s The Well-Lived Life by 102 year-old Dr Gladys McGarey

From the back cover: There’s really no one quite like Dr Gladys McGarey.

Age 8 years old, she met Gandhi in India who instilled in her life lessons about love.

She began her medical practice at a time when women couldn’t own their ownbank accounts, and accumulated thousands of patients.

At 85 she travelled to Afghanistan to teach rural woman safer birthing practices, resulting in a 47% decrease in infant mortality rates in the area.

Dr. Gladys McGarey revolutionised holistic medicine. Now, aged 102 and still practising as a doctor, she shares her powerful secrets so you can live your own life with joy, vitality and purpose at any age – just as she has.

In a voice that is both practical and inspiring, Dr Gladys shares life-changing stories of miraculous healing from her thousands of patients of all ages, as well as her own experiences as a mother of six, and her survival of both heartbreak and illness, as heard on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

Dr. Gladys will change the way you think not only about health and healing but what leads to a life filled with joy and satisfaction.

And then there’s the monthly magazine Positive News to which I have a quarterly subscription.

About Positive NewsPositive News is the online and print magazine for rigorous journalism about what’s going right.We report socially relevant and uplifting stories of progress – ranging from the global boom in renewable energy to cities that are solving homelessness – joining the dots between how people, communities and organisations are changing the world for the better.We publish daily online and Positive News magazine is published quarterly in print.

My personal reflections this month are also positive. August 2023 will see the 25th anniversary of my diagnosis with ovarian cancer. And yes, I get the irony that a positive diagnosis with cancer is anything but positive in terms of health. My symptoms were a bloated belly, mid menstrual cycle pain, and I looked pregnant. I knew I wasn’t pregnant. But I did know I’d gone up two dress sizes in as many weeks. However, my regular GP and family planning clinic told me there was nothing wrong. A nurse at the family planning clinic told me I was obese and my GP gave me a weight loss leaflet. Fortunately I didn’t give up when dieting made no difference and I went back to the doctor. This time I was lucky. I saw a locum GP who examined me and immediately got me a hospital appointment. And so my cancer journey began. I had an amazing consultant and first class treatment. I had amazing support from family and friends and I also got support from two wonderful UK cancer charities Ovacome (which is specifically for ovarian cancer help) and Macmillan Cancer Support Either or both are well worth checking out if you or a loved one is faced with a cancer diagnosis.  And the fact I’m still here speaks for itself. My treatment was successful and the outcome was positive in the non-cancer meaning of the word. So yes, let’s hear it for positivity.

What about you? Do you have any positive news to share? Feel free to do so in the comments below.

And don’t forget, if you want a more intimate round up of my current writing such as updates on the work-in-progress, sneak peeks at same, early notification of publication dates, giveaways and lots more, do sign up for my author newsletter. And when you do you’ll receive A FREE BOOK of some of my romantic short stories as a thank you. Just click HERE and fill in your email address. 

My latest novel is contemporary romance Baby Steps.

It’s available as an ebook and as a paperback and you can buy it HERE If you’ve read it already please do consider leaving a review at the buy link above. Reviews no matter how brief are so helpful and I appreciate every one. To find out more about all of my books just go to the BOOKS page HERE on the website.

Planning versus Going With The Flow: In Writing and in Real Life #writing #reading #planning #plotting

Image shows compass needle pointing to the word control

Word of the Month: Control

In the words of Scottish poet Robert Burns, ‘The best laid plans o’ mice and men gang aft a-gley’. In other words you can plan all you like, but it doesn’t mean the plan will come to pass and everything will work out perfectly. And I’ve recently found this to be as true in my writing life as it is in real life.

Now, in spite of the poet’s wise words, I’m prepared to admit to being a bit of a control freak in real life. I plan our weekly dinner menus in advance, I do the household accounts every month, and have an ongoing daily schedule in my diary for work and play. I’m also the queen of lists and the use Post-It notes.

Control of my Writing and the Need for a Plan

However, when I’m writing, I don’t mind the plot getting a little out of control. I like it when my characters surprise me and I don’t plan every plot detail in advance. Fiction writers are often described as being either plotters or pantsters (as in flying by the seat of their pants). I tend to be mainly a pantster – working with a rough outline and knowing how I want the story to end but, as I said above, enjoying the inspirational surprises along the way.

But as I write my latest novel, I’m beginning to see some of the downsides of being a pantster. The reason being I want the work-in-progress to be the first in a series of contemporary romantic fiction. It’s a series where each book will have its own two main romantic leads but the community in the Scottish Borders where the story is set in will remain the same. This means keeping track of all the supporting cast members, their appearance, age, job, relationship status etc just in case they pop up in future books – either in starring roles or still in support. And if they are going to be in a future leading role, I need to know now so that I can ensure their current relationship status will fit with that future role.

This means I’m having to spend more time that I’m used to on planning my writing and I now have a folder full of character facts, possible pairings and skeleton plots for the future as well as for the work-in-progress. I’m also getting to grips with an app for writers called Plottr which seems to lend itself especially well to series planning.

Ans so yes, this pantster of a writer is having to be a bit more in control and, for now at least, has moved to the planner camp.

Control and Planning in Other Aspects of Writing

It’s not just the creative side of my writing that needs planning. There’s also the managing and marketing side of things too because as an independent publisher of my own books there’s a business to run.

This involves keeping track of income and expenditure, scheduling publishing and launch plans, working with my editor and my cover designer, dealing with publishing platforms and distributors – to name just some of it.

It also necessitates doing things to attract new readers and reward existing ones.

Most importantly there’s writing my newsletter which, as the name suggests, lets my subscribers know how my writing is progressing, gives them sneak peeks at the work-in-progress, or an occasional special book-related offer or competition. Coming up in my next newsletter I’ll be answering subscribers questions about my books and my writing in general.

Doing my newsletter along with writing this blog, and regularly posting on my Facebook and Instagram author pages all require planning and keeping control of delivering those plans.

image shows compass with needle pointing the word choice.

Not all about Control

Having said all of the above, I wouldn’t do any of it if I didn’t enjoy it. I LOVE writing. OK, the business side of things can be hard going but I never let it overshadow the sheer joy of storytelling. And sometimes that storytelling does need to be given free rein to delight and surprise me and, hopefully, in turn my readers. The day that delight and enjoyment stop is the day I’ll quit making up stories.

And Speaking of Enjoyment …

There’s READING books

I’ve read several very good books since last month’s post and it’s been hard to pick out the best one, but I’ve done it. And Book of the Month this month is Miranda Dickinson’s latest novel All My Love.

Image shows bookcover with couple sitting on bench

All My Love is a first class, slow-burn, contemporary romance and I definitely recommend it. It’s available as an ebook, an audio book, and as a paperback.

From the back cover:

Sometimes love can be staring you in the face . . . and you don’t even know it

By day, Archie works tirelessly as assistant to the editor of a local newspaper.

By night, Esther works after hours cleaning the rows of office desks with the help of her trusty sidekick, Fred the trolley.

Their paths have never crossed, until one discarded Post-it note unexpectedly brings them together.

Because they share one thing in common . . . they’re both secretly in love with someone else.

And they might just be the two people who can help each other find the courage to confess their feelings and write the perfect love letter.

But what if they’re falling for the wrong person?

Meanwhile Away from Writing and Reading

The last month hasn’t all been about control, planning and hard work, however. As always I’ve enjoyed time in the garden, listening to music – current music crush is Jack Savoretti – and going for walks. Most recently those walks were along the lovely beach beside the holiday cottage I stayed in in the town of Banff on Scotland’s Moray Firth coast. So I’ll leave you with a picture from that seaside and a link to Jack on YouTube.

Jack Savoretti

Image of beach

As always do feel free to comment and share how much you plan and try to exert control over your working and personal life and how much you just like to let go.


And don’t forget, if you want a more intimate round up of my current writing such as updates on the work-in-progress, sneak peeks at same, early notification of publication dates, giveaways and lots more, do sign up for my author newsletter. And when you do you’ll receive A FREE BOOK of some of my romantic short stories as a thank you. Just click HERE and fill in your email address. 


My latest novel is contemporary romance Baby Steps.

Book cover image of embracing couple silhouetted against a city skyline

It’s available as an ebook and as a paperback and you can buy it HERE

If you’ve read it already please do consider leaving a review at the buy link above. Reviews no matter how brief are so helpful and I appreciate every one.

To find out more about all of my books just go to the BOOKS page HERE on the website.