2020. What on Earth…

2020 – What a year, eh?

January: It began all right, didn’t it? I churned out a lot of words in January, determined to write a Viking story set in Scotland and featuring the Lewis Chessmen. My first event of the year took me to Luncarty Primary – these guys deserve a medal – they have had me back every January since I have had books published. I have a narky feeling that this won’t be the case in 2021… I also headed up to Park School in Invergordon for a memorable day with wonderfully enthusiastic kids and teachers, even though my Satnav directed me to the middle of a field instead! I also received a little bit of publishers’ interest for an adult non-fiction idea I pitched during the XpoNorth Tweet Pitch: Scottish by Inclination.

February:  Events at the University of the 3rd Age in Nairn, St Madoes Primary in Perth, Ashley Road Primary and Elrick Primary in Aberdeen among others. But that month will always go down as the month before it all ground to a halt. My husband and I took off to Orkney with good friends for a long weekend research trip for the Viking book, and what a wonderful trip it was! I fell in love with Orkney all over again and massively expanded the chapters set there.

March: This month is usually dominated by World Book Day and I had a packed week with Dingwall Primary, Crown School in Inverness and Findochty Primary in Moray. More visits to Glenurquhart and Westhill Primaries followed, but something called ‘Coronavirus’ was elbowing its way into the news. A big school show I was directing and further school visits that month bit the dust.  I resumed writing and editing the Viking book with gusto and began to upload daily instalments of an unpublished book of mine to YouTube for teachers to use for free: The Dog Walking Consortium. My friend Corrina Campbell kindly allowed me the use of her illustration.

Gorgeous illustration by Corrina Campbell

April: 26 days of posting a daily chapter to YouTube provided a bit of a routine, especially during a period of covid-induced isolation. Thankfully, my symptoms were mild. Other than that, April was the month of cancelled gigs, including the John O’Groats Book Festival which I had really looked forward to.

May: With the Viking book off to the publishers, I began work on two projects simultaneously: the adult non-fiction and another Middle Grade book, set in Victorian times and industrial. One of my first proper digital events was a session for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, on working with an independent publisher, and the advantages and disadvantages of not having an agent. It was so good to be a writer again! With all my family at home and my husband working crazy hours as a public health doctor, most of my energy went into simply keeping the show on the road! The end of the month saw the publication of the Stay at Home anthology. I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute a short story. What a fab initiative by my wee publishers to round up 40 writers across Scotland to make some sort of sense of Lockdown!

June: I was at home. The balance had tipped and I was now devoting most of my time to writing the adult non-fiction, Scottish by Inclination. I had been advised to apply for funding from Creative Scotland and I sent the application off with everything crossed. Meanwhile, I was also assembling teaching resources for my next book, The Siege of Caerlaverock, which was due out in August. Despite the continued lockdown, my publishers decided to go full steam ahead with their schedule. I was grateful. It made things feel a little more normal, especially as I did battle with online teaching via Google classroom. I was also glad to virtually attend XpoNorth which is normally a non-negotiable fixture in my calendar.

July and August: Incredibly, Historic Environment Scotland were keen to collaborate on resources for The Siege of Caerlaverock, which was such a boost. More incredibly, Creative Scotland approved my application for funding, so I began to work very hard on Scottish by Inclination, leaving the Victorian idea to one side. Publicity for The Siege of Caerlaverock was in full swing, and that included a radio interview with BBC Scotland’s Afternoon Show, being interviewed by the fab Nicola Meighan. The Zoom launch for the book was fun and mercifully went off without a hitch, and The Siege of Caerlaverock did reach number 1 on Amazon which was the cherry on the cake!

September was all about the Scottish by Inclination interviews. I talked to footballers and academics and artists and activists – one of the most stimulating months of my writing career, and all from the comfort of my wee study. As my children left for Glasgow and London, the semblance of normality returned, even if only for a while. Our own book festival in Inverness had been cancelled, but I ran a live workshop for Wigtown Book Festival, complete with shadow puppetry – being part of that had long been a dream.

My giant knight shadow puppet

In October, I even managed to fit in a flying visit to my 83-year-old mother on the continent, and I was utterly consumed by the writing of Scottish by Inclination. The interviews continued and I was reaching the end of my first draft. Now all I had to do was edit my hastily poured out words.

November: I was lucky to have digital live school events for St Monans Primary, the Mull and Iona Schools festival and for Dallas Primary, as well as recording content for Findochty and Dalmellington. I also submitted the finished Scottish by Inclination to a publisher for consideration. Best of all, I was awarded a Scottish Book Trust Schools Residency with Findochty Primary. If you would like to know more, you can read about it at https://www.scottishbooktrust.com/writing-and-authors/live-literature/school-residencies/introducing-live-literature-school-residencies. Unbelievably, my first visit there was actually in person as all of us were in the lowest tier. So good!

December. And here we are. There will be no travelling and no family visits over Christmas, but I am lucky to have my family here and we are well. The Siege of Caerlaverock is out in the world, and just last weekend, my lovely publishers announced the cover and publication date of The Chessmen Thief.

Considering what a year this has been, I really, really can’t complain. I can’t thank you all enough for your support, your encouragement and your banter when I have needed it most.

The beautiful cover for The Chessmen Thief

Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas and a 2021 in which we are free to roam, and to hug our friends.


2019 – The Quick Version

A write old year! What did I even do? What DID I do?

My mind predictably draws a blank when I ask myself questions like this, so let’s have a proper think, eh?

January saw me do author events in Balloch Primary, Luncarty Primary and Inverness Royal Academy. I also met up with my pals from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in Edinburgh. Oh, and my oldest left home to go to Egypt – a bit of a biggie for the family.

The gorgeous Brodie Castle in February.

February began with delivering a storytelling session at the fabulous Brodie Castle. In the castle library, no less! So many castle themed stories to choose from… Author visits to Hamilton and East Kilbride among others, but the event of the month was really the beginning of the Artyness column which I began to write fortnightly, alternating with musician and writer Liza Mulholland, and which goes out in the weekend edition of a whole clutch of North of Scotland Papers. So much fun!dav

World Book Day means that March is always busy! Hamilton, East Kilbride and Findochty in Moray, a visit to the local RSPB Wildlife Explorer group, Fort William and the fabulous Scottish Association of Writers conference for which I was honoured to be an adjudicator and speaker. But the biggest challenge was reading the audiobook of Wilderness Wars which took hours and hours and hours! Who even wrote this unpronounceable prose?

Audiobook production at the Music Shed in Inverness

April – the holidays are upon us, so it’s a quieter month, apart from a small number of events including the lovely Pitcairn School in Perthshire.dav

May – I was one of the three lucky spotlight authors for the Cromarty Crime and Thrillers Weekend. It was also the month of Queen Victoria’s Bicentenary, so I visited all the locations of my Victorian book ‘Punch’: South Morningside and Tollcross Primaries in Edinburgh, St Ninian’s in Perth, Waterstones Inverness and the Victorian Market in my home town – and Crathie School near Balmoral Castle, one of the key settings in the book!


June – Author visits to Fort William and Cauldeen Primary as well as the new library in the Merkinch Family Centre among others. July saw the fantastic XpoNorth Festival return to Inverness and we went for a research holiday to the Isle of Lewis. I’m currently knee-deep into a late Viking Scotland story as a result. In August, I was lucky enough to appear alongside allround legend Maggie Craig at SEALL, Skye, for a writing workshop on bringing the past to life. Of course, the highlight of my year is the Edinburgh International Book Festival where all three of my books were in the festival bookshop!


Back to normal in September, with a clutch of author visits and school events, including a trip to Sherborne School in Dorset and one to Aberdeen, as well as taking oldest to university. In October, all of this intensifies, with visits to Muckhart, two more Aberdeen events, the fab Word on the Street festival in Dingwall and, finally, the launch of Black Water, my new novella for 8-12 year olds at Waterstones Inverness. Most of my fellow writers published by Cranachan Publishing were there – my clan!


The very next day (and now into November), I’m on a train to Aberdeen again for the international kidlit quiz. Flying to the Isle of Lewis a few days later for the Faclan Oga festival is a particular treat: three school events in quick succession. Bridge of Don Academy and the official Black Water school launch at my home school of Cradlehall follow, as well as visits to Merkinch, Aviemore, Mountfleurie, Perth and Glenurquhart primaries. Best bit? Joining the Mobile library van on its round past Aldourie and Foyers Primaries – what a fantastic service, and how valued by its customers in remote places!

And so I wind up the year in December by guesting at the young writers café for Moniack Mhor, taking part in Bookpenpals and #bookfoundxmas and by looking back gratefully. If anything, writing a post like this helps my own memory and keeps me right. Writing can be a stationary and solitary business and it’s good to remind myself that I actually did do something this year… 😊dav

Happy 2020 to you all! Thanks for chumming me along, and letting me chum you in return!

Motivation Matters Blog Tour: The Tone Makes the Music

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Today it’s my turn on the Motivation Matters blog tour. Writers, this one’s for you!

There is a saying in German: ‘Der Ton macht die Musik’: The tone makes the music. And yes, you’ve guessed it: this review is going to focus on tone above all else.

Even that aside, yes, this little book is a treasure all right. Stuffed with ideas, enough to try a new approach to your writing every single day of the year, it is divided into handy sections and exceptionally easy to navigate. But what sets it apart from other ‘how to’ books and advice on writing I have read (and I have read a lot of those), is that Motivation Matters sounds like a real person. There is a voice here, and a likeable one at that. Wendy Jones, to be precise. The author has done away with any pretence of objectivity or removal in her tone. Instead, she sidles right up to you and nudges you, possibly even forcefully. ‘Try it this way. Come on, give it a go. You’re gonna think I’m mad, but what about giving this new approach a shot?’

Like a little story-sprite on your shoulder, you’ve got company. Throughout the book, the tone ranges from cajoling, encouraging, conversational to occasionally bossy and a little provocative, just to shake us out of our old and tired writing routine. Motivation Matters is a loose celebration of all things which make writing great, and a freedom-pass to kiss all your writing constraints and obligations goodbye to discover something new. Highly recommended! Buy it at https://amzn.to/2NHfutf.

PS. I think most of us would do well not to follow Motivation Matters as a rigid day-by-day plan of what to do. It’s at its best when you flick through its pages once you’re stuck in your writing. You may just happen upon something that catches your eye. 🙂


Award Winning Author Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy, she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer’s Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series. Killer’s Crew won the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2107. There are now six books in this series with Killer’s Crypt being released in August 2017. The Dagger’s Curse is the first book in The Fergus and Flora Mysteries for Young Adults. This book is currently shortlisted for the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award Book of the Year. She is also a highly successful marketer and she shares her methods in the book, Power Packed Book Marketing.