Excuses, Excuses….

I know it’s been too long since I wrote a blog piece but I’ve been busy getting ready for going on holiday, being on holiday and recovering from going on holiday. It’s all hard work you understand!

But I’m back and I’ve run out of excuses so I’m about to throw myself back into writing. I missed the first two nights of Ayr Writers’ Club new season (see above for my excuse) and I should be at Michael J Malone’s launch of his latest book, House of Spines, tonight but I’ve run out of steam. (More excuses.) However I’ll catch up with him and his new book later.

I’ve my book of articles on growing up in the West of Scotland after the Second World War to sort out. I’m stuck because there are apparently hidden text boxes in the manuscript and the powers that be at Lulu (the company I use to publish my books) don’t like it. And I don’t know where they are. I left it there when I went away, hoping, ludicrously, that it would have sorted itself out by the time I got back, but of course it hasn’t. So I will have to search all the forums to see if anyone else has had that problem and what they’ve done about it. I also posted a question on Lulu’s help-desk but the reply I got only took me back to the information site I’d already read my way through.

Part of the problem is that I work on Mac Pages and export to Word.

In the meantime, here’s the photo of me I’m going to use on the cover, once I get that far. You’ll see I haven’t changed much over the years. front of book

I bet there’s a few of you out there had a pair of Clark’s sandals like mine. A new pair every year in time for summer. And no comments about the knickers please! Remember everything was hand-made in those days so no doubt they were cut down from my granny’s old ones.

A Drop of Rainbow Magic

A Drop of Rainbow Magic is now available on Amazon!

 

Rainbow 2 copy

The book is a collection of stories and poems for children, with a difference – they are the illustrators and they draw the pictures, making it very much their own book. And to emphasise that aspect, the cover has been designed by a young friend, Maisie Craig.

back page

Read about the caterpillar who was forever grumbling or the teacher who made more noise than all the children combined; what about the gang of grannies and grandpas who created havoc in a supermarket or how the wee shy mouse eventually made friends? There are counting poems and poems about a smelly granny and the noises you hear when you’re lying in bed or sounds you can’t hear at all. There’s something for every child (and adult!) in the book.

But why a book like this? If you add up all the visual impact of computers, xboxes, tablets, white boards in school, TV, cinema etc etc, it comes to a staggering amount of time that children are subjected to some kind of visual input. Their visual sense is  dominant over all the other senses, especially that of hearing, of listening.

pageThink back to your own childhood and the time you were given, free from that dominance. You listened to stories told by your family at bedtime, you listened to stories read by the teacher, you even listened, if you’re of that age, to stories on the radio rather than TV. You read books, sprawled on the floor, curled up on a chair, out in the garden or park but all that time, you were busy creating your own pictures in your head. ‘You ‘saw’ the pirates coming in to the attack, you ‘saw’ the princess dancing in a dress of your imagining, you felt their fear, their happiness, – in essence, you were there.

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Now it’s all done for you, for the child. They aren’t getting a chance to exercise their own imaginations, to make their own pictures. That skill has been taken from them and it’s missing from their lives. Their imaginations are being driven by what others have decided to produce, to draw, to animate.

My book is a way of developing the child’s own imagination. Each story has space where they can draw what they ‘see’ in their mind’s eye. So the pictures are uniquely theirs.

Many of the stories I wrote originally for the BBC children’s programmes on radio and are specially designed to be listened to and which have been updated and revised. As a bonus, these stories also encourage children’s listening skills, another area where today’s children are lacking, as all teachers and parents know only too well.

How to Use the Book

Read a story to the child or let them read it themselves if they are of an age to be a confident reader. Let them get to know the story by reading it several times. Talk about what happens in the story, what are the funny bits, which bits they liked best, which bits would make a good picture. But whatever you do, make sure it’s fun!

Then let them have free rein as to what they want to draw. They don’t have to stick to the picture frames for their drawings; they can draw in the margins or the top or the bottom. It’s their book, let the pictures be what they want. Over time, they may add bits or draw further pictures in the blank pages at the back or wherever they fancy. They’ll end up with a book that is uniquely theirs.

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(c) Maisie Craig

The New Website Is At Last Here!

Here it is! You can breath again. It took a bit of work (mainly by computer literate son – I suspect my mobile phone bill will have rocketed)

RonanAndJools

computer wizard and fiancee

but I’ve (well, we’ve) done it – I think, fingers crossed.

I’ve still got plenty of bits and pieces to add but I can do that at my leisure. Now my main task is to publish my collection of stories for children, designed to encourage their imagination by drawing their own pictures for the book. Even the cover has been drawn by a young friend, Maisie, and very good it looks too.Rainbow 2 copy

And I must do some writing of my own. But whether it will be a short story or a travel article or a piece for children, I don’t know. That’s the exciting bit about being a writer. I sit at my computer and start what I think is an article and it turns into a short story or a poem or the beginnings of a novel.

 

Take a Leaf out of my Book

 

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It’s a while since I posted here but I’ve not been lazy, just busy and one of the results of that busyness is my collection of short stories, Take a Leaf out of My Book.

These are 12 stories that have all been prizewinners in various competitions in the last few years. I haven’t published them as they don’t fit into the usual woman’s magazine style of story (I do write for them too) and I’ve always wondered quite what to do for them. Publishing them myself makes perfect sense and I hope that you and the other readers enjoy them.

Three of them, the title story and A Man’s a Man for a’ That and The Darkness before Dawn were all winners and runners-up in the Imprint Writing competition run by East Ayrshire specially for Ayrshire writers while the others were similarly placed at the Scottish Association of Writers conference, the title story winning there too, or in club competitions.

They’re all different; crime, or perceived criminal behaviour, seems to feature in quite a few of them from the inept gumshoe in Dougan’s Last Case to Secrets, Bramble Jelly and Knitting for Joyce  while Half a World Away is historical and set in Australia and Some Things Never Change starts there before returning to Glasgow. Ped Xing and Are You Listening? are psychological thrillers and the last story, Peach Melba was inspired by my experiences of having a loved one in a nursing home.

Its available for Kindle here and the paperback version will be out shortly too. But enjoy them and please let me have your feedback.

Writer of Many Things

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Children’s stories and books, Postman Pat comic scripts, Moomin picture books, BBC radio and TV schools programmes, articles, short stories, even a novel and the odd poem. You name it, I’ve written it.

it’s quite an amount of published, broadcast and online work so why start a blog now?

You can blame Michael J Malone for it. MJM Ink, as his mentoring service is known. I spent an afternoon in his company getting a severe kick up the rear end and came home, sore but determined to DO BETTER.

So I will be posting here what I’m writing and what is being published. If I post nothing or admit to having written nothing, then feel free to chastise, castigate, censure, reprimand, rebuke or chide as the notion takes you.

Here’s one of Michael’s chosen quotes from his coursebook:

If you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re usually right – Henry Ford

Think about it!

And Michael’s books are pretty good too.