Happy, Grateful and Enjoying Being Back At The Writing Desk #writing #reading #romanticfiction

Word(s) of the Month(s) Joy and Gratitude

This month’s post is a wee bit of a cheat as I didn’t write an April post so this one is doubling up to cover both April and May – hence there are two words of the month.

The reason for April being a no show here on the blog is a good one, and it’s also the reason I chose the word JOY to sum up the month. And what was that reason? It was the joy of having some full on family time.

Yes, for the last month, here at the Stormont residence we have had some very important visitors in residence. The Australia dwelling daughter, son-in-law and their two children – our granddaughter (age 11) and our grandson (age 9) – were back in Scotland for a visit. Due to Covid getting in the way this was their first visit home in 6 years and me and Mr Anne hadn’t seen them since our trip to Australia a year ago.

So, safe to say, everything else in my life, including writing was put on hold for the duration. We had such a good time together – catching up, sightseeing in Edinburgh and other places as we showed the children parts of their Scottish heritage, and just generally making new and special memories.

One of the most memorable moments was when Australian granddaughter and grandson met our other granddaughter, their Scottish cousin (age 3), for the first time – such a special moment.

I was also moved and impressed to discover Australian granddaughter writes a journal, and grandson loves writing stories. Definitely gladdened my writing heart.

We all had so much fun together, catching up and making new memories. It was magic and yes, so very joyful.

And now that our visitors are back home in Australia and I’m left with those lovely new memories for which I’m truly grateful. So GRATITUDE seemed like an apt choice for May. I’m feeling grateful for my whole wonderful family, both immediate and wider, for my amazing friends, for the beautiful part of the beautiful country I live in and for being able to work at my dream job as a writer of contemporary romance novels.

And on the subject of writing, it’s good to be back at the desk once more…


I must admit I had to re-read the 24 chapters I’d already written in the work- in- progress just to remind myself of the story so far. I actually enjoyed the read (which was a relief) and it’s so good to be back with my two main characters – Scottish farmer Aidan and Lori an Australian visitor who is staying in one of the farm cottages. Their journey to falling in love and admitting their feelings for each other is a tricky one but they’ll get their happy ending, I promise.

I’m planning for this book – working title, Happiness Cottage, to be the first of a series set in the Scottish Borders. And I have lots of ideas for the subsequent books already. All in all the writing is as always exciting, joyful, challenging, and blooming hard work. But I do love it and, as I said, I feel so grateful to be doing it.


Despite everything else that’s been going on, I have still managed to find some time to read. There have been a mixture of genres – romance of course but also non-fiction and, most unusually for me, science fiction.

And it’s the science fiction one that I’ve picked as my book of the month. It’s The Space Between Us by Doug Johnstone. It was a magical, uplifting and thought-provoking read and I loved it. I loved it so much I gave it to my husband to read, he loved it too. It then went off to Australia with my daughter – her verdict will arrive in due course.

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…

Other Book News

In other book news two of my lovely writer friends have new books out/about to come out and I can definitely recommend both of these contemporary romances to you.

The first one is Escape to Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen and will be published on 11th May (the Kindle version can be preordered now)

From the back cover:

When successful university lecturer Alison Wells’ life unexpectedly falls apart, she follows in her brother’s footsteps and escapes to the coastal town of Bellbird Bay on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Neil Simpson loves teaching and his position as principal at a prestigious boys’ school in Brisbane. But when scandal rocks the school, and he learns his father’s health is failing, he has no choice but to return to his hometown of Bellbird Bay.

Determined not to be a burden to her brother and his new partner, Ali is considering her options when her world and Neil’s collide. Having avoided commitment all her life, Ali is unprepared for the force of her attraction to the man who is trying to come to terms with the upheaval in his own life.

As fate conspires to keep them apart, can this small town work its magic on these two lost souls?

And the second one is Watching from the Wings by Christine Webber and is available now as a paperback and as an ebook.

From the back cover:

Watching From the Wings is a heartwarming tale of devotion, friendship, joy and passion, but also one involving disappointment, duplicity and betrayal. We all have our own journey of love. Katharine’s is more complex than most. And she comes to realise that she has always chosen the wrong door whenever she had the chance to exit by a more promising one. At the age of 62, can she make a fresh start, or is it too late?


It’s indeed good to take time to reflect, to feel the joy and gratitude in life and to use it to build resilience for when times get tough as they inevitable do. It’s one of the reasons that, as it says in the main headline for this put-it-in-writing blog of mine, that I include reflection, along with writing and reading in all of my posts.

And that’s it for this month. But before I go I just want to add my gratitude to you. Thank you for visiting my blog and for taking time out of your day to read this post. I really appreciate it.  As always feel free to comment below, including sharing what brings you joy and/or gratitude.

Thank you again for reading!


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.

Baby Steps is 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.

Tea: A drink that soothes, inspires and sometimes get spilt  #writing #reading #spillthetea #booktwitter @AmattAuthor @SueMoorcroft @StephenKing @JessicaRedland

Tea – word of the month for March

I was introduced to tea by my grandma when I was around seven years old and I’ve been a tea Jenny ever since. It’s my go to drink at breakfast time and whenever some soothing timeout is required. I also like a mug of tea – and yes, I much prefer a mug to a cup – at my side when I’m writing and when I’m reading. And of course it has to made in a teapot – no teabag dunking.

Literally spilling the tea is, of course something I do my best to avoid. But I am going to be doing some literary spilling of the tea here – because the #spillingthetea challenge involves bloggers spilling, as in sharing, three books that for them best represent the letters T,E and A. So:

T has to be a book that TAUGHT you something

E is a book you didn’t want to END

A is an AUTHOR you can’t get enough of

And so, without further ado here are my TEA books

For the book that taught me something, and there are many, I’ve chosen On Writing by Stephen King. I read this more than ten years ago and it’s the book that made me believe I could be a writer. Although it’s a memoir – an excellent one – it’s also full of tips for aspiring writers. And I still dip into it to this day.

A book I didn’t want to end… That was a hard one to choose. There have been many over the years. So I decided to pick the most recent one and that is, An Autumn Hideaway by Margaret Amatt. It’s a contemporary romance set on the Scottish island of Mull and when it was one of those reads that where I was desperate to see how it all ended but also didn’t want to get to the end because I knew I was going to miss the main characters, Richard and Autumn so much.

And the author I can’t get enough of … as for the above categories it was a difficult choice. But from a list of six or so British, American and Australian authors, I chose Sue Moorcroft. She writes, entertaining, engaging and thought-provoking contemporary romances and the most recent one of her that I’ve read is A White Christmas on Winter Street.

Book of the Month

Still on the theme of books – regular readers of the blog will know that in each of my monthly posts, I like to share my most recent favourite read. And for March’s post that book is:

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland. This is a contemporary romance (I know, who’d have guessed?) and I loved it.

From the back cover:

Can love really be found when you stop looking for it…?

As Samantha Wishaw watches the love of her life marry another woman, she’s ready to give up hope of finding her happy ever after.

But when a chance encounter leads Sam to find friendship in Thomas – a lonely, grumpy elderly widower living at derelict Hedgehog Hollow – her life is about to change forever.

Glad to have a distraction from family feuds and match-making, Sam vows to fulfil Thomas and his wife, Gwendoline’s, dreams of restoring Hedgehog Hollow to its former glory, and to open a hedgehog rescue centre.

Throwing herself into the task at hand, little does Sam realise that the keys to love and happiness may also be found at Hedgehog Hollow, when she least expects it…

And that’s it for this month. You can consider yourself officially challenged to #spillthetea and share below the three books you’d choose.

Thank you for reading!


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, 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 FOUR 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

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

Simplicity in Life and in Writing: Decluttering , Reorganising and Keeping it Simple #mentalhealth #writing #tidymind #reading #clutter

Simplicity – word of the month for February

I’m a writer. I like words. Artists may say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think a single word can say a lot too. So when I was thinking about my blog posts for 2023 and getting a bit bogged down with ideas, I decided to keep it simple. I would go for a one word theme for each month’s post. January’s one was Pause -hence no blog post last month as I took some time out to think through my writing plans and priorities.

And this month I’m sticking with the ‘keep it simple’ principle and February’s word is Simplicity.

Simplicity in my writing life

According to Wikipedia, the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore, simplicity should be a key goal in planning and design, and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. Keeping things simple is a great way of minimising stress. Getting rid of the mess, the stuff that no longer has any purpose, focussing in on what matters – all of theses things are beneficial to our quality of life in general and especially to our mental health. Now, I reckon I’m pretty good at keeping on top of any build up of clutter in my house. I regularly tidy out cupboards and drawers and donate/recycle/dispose of any items that are no longer earning their space – and whenever I do, I feel better for it. But I’m not so good at the decluttering thing when it comes to my writing.

The clutter

I’m currently writing a contemporary romance that I’m hoping will be the first in a series. I’ve never written a series before – not one where the 2 main characters will be different in each book – but the setting will remain the same. And I must admit for a while there I was finding it quite hard to get on with telling the story of book 1 without being distracted by possibilities for future books in the series. I had so many scrappy notes – on post-its, on random bits of paper, in notebooks …

I’m also trying to get better at marketing my novels. There is so much advice out there about how to do this, lots of courses, lots of experts and my head was spinning trying to decide what route to take in order to achieve worldwide acclaim (okay, maybe not worldwide acclaim but just maybe reaching more readers). And as with the series notes above, I was drowning in notes – whole folders of them – and for so many different avenues.

And thirdly, my workspace was, until a week ago, driving me nuts. The layout wasn’t working, the cupboard was full of yet more folders of stuff – stuff I hadn’t looked at in ages, stuff I couldn’t even remember was there.

The declutter

So I set about simplifying all three problem areas.

First up – the series plan:

I made a list of character names and personalities/lifestyles to go with them.

I listed various tropes – such as enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, forced proximity

I matched the listed characters to each other and to a trope

I chose which of those characters would get a mention in book 1 and any settings such as their workplace that might need to be mentioned in book 1 too  – such as the medical practice or primary school. I noted at which point in book 1 (if any) they would need to be mentioned.

Result – much less brain fluff when writing and an easy reference point at hand on my desk. Way cleared for progress.

Second – the marketing

I went through all the emails about marketing courses, the notes for the courses I’ve already taken, and looked at the strategies employed by authors who write similar novels to me.

I made a short list of priorities/preferences for developing the marketing of my books in future and made a plan for how to achieve that.

I got rid of the masses of stuff  – electronic and on paper that I’ll never get round to reading or doing.

Result – no more physical and mental clutter weighing me down and preventing any decision making. I now have a simple plan with three priorities for developing my knowledge and expertise in book marketing.

Third – the workspace

The photo above is of my newly sorted, reconfigured and much more simple writing room. I spent a day sorting through the cupboard and the desk drawers and then with the help of bigger and stronger other half completely changed the layout of the room. I even moved the pinboard and the pictures on the walls. And I’m loving this new, much more efficient, streamlined and simplified space.

And again, a cleared physical space also equals a cleared headspace.

So, as you can see, KISSING is working for this romance author. Here’s to simplicity!

Book of the Month

Still on the theme of simplicity – there are surely few, if any, more simple pleasures than reading. It’s certainly my go-to downtime activity and here on the blog I like to share my most recent favourite read. And for February’s post that book is:

 Queen of Grime by Helen Forbes. This is a first rate crime thriller set in Edinburgh. You can buy it HERE

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.

And that’s it for this month. As always feel free to comment below, you could share your way of keeping things simple, or your own book of the month, or any other observations that occurred while you were reading this. Thank you for reading!


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 stories as a thank you. Just click HERE and fill in your email address. 


My latest novel is contemporary romance Baby Steps.

Sparks fly in this love-against-the-odds romance

Estranged from her mother, cheated on by her ex and grieving the loss of her brother, emotionally distraught Sophie Campbell decides she needs to focus on her career as a researcher for a TV and radio broadcaster. What she doesn’t need is a man in her life. And as for marriage and children – definitely not.

Honourably discharged from the British army following life-changing injuries sustained while serving in Afghanistan, Steven Jackson is rehabilitated and embracing life to the full. Working as the manager of a support centre for military veterans brings him a great sense of pride and achievement. But he wants more. He wants to meet the love of his life, and to one day be a husband and father.

When Sophie and Steven meet through work, there’s an undeniable chemistry between the two thirty-somethings. But will Steven’s open, caring and patient ways be enough to break down Sophie’s barriers and allow a relationship to develop between them?

Set in the Scottish city of Glasgow, Baby Steps is a contemporary romance which tells a story of love against the odds.

Baby Steps is a spin-off novel from Anne Stormont’s Skye Series of novels. Sophie is the daughter of Rachel one of the main characters in that series and features as a character in the supporting cast, as does Steven. However, Baby Steps can be read as a standalone.

Baby Steps is available as an ebook and as a paperback and you can buy it HERE

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