Confined to a Garret? No Chance!

This week has been celebrated as Book Week Scotland when writers all over the country have left their garrets and travelled the length and breadth of the country talking about books and writing and more books and more writing.

My friend Michael J Malone has been touring the west coast talking about his new book, House of Spines. (Cracking great read! I recommend it.) He’s been to Rothesay, Dunoon, Millport, Tobermory and …er…Wishaw. Definitely not on the west coast, that one!

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The Pencil, Largs

For my part, I was in Largs, not as part of Book Week but to do some research for my next novel. It was a beautiful sunny clear day with the temperature just hovering above freezing as we walked along the shore to the Pencil monument commemorating the Battle of Largs in 1263, and then on to the Marina, filled with yachts of all shapes and sizes, mainly parked up until the spring. And there was a very welcome restaurant where we had coffee and Danishes and thawed out before we walked all the way back.

Then it was to Perthshire, and past the Ochil Hills just tinged with snow, to the Auchterarder Book Fair, part of their celebration of Book Week. We set up our stalls, or rather tables, in the hall with our books on display. I was surrounded by historical novels, crime, science fiction and fantasy, and did I detect an element of competition as we tried to attract customers to look at our books and hopefully buy one?books

I was one of the authors who gave a short talk about their writing life, starting with my five years with Postman Pat and moving on to the present day and A Scottish Childhood, and the future with my novel Festival Fireworks.24255073_1980255258879716_3265096166631918755_o

And all this gallivanting doesn’t stop there. Next weekend is the Society of Authors Christmas lunch in Edinburgh where there will be many friends to catch up with and have a jolly, merry afternoon.

Can’t not mention the success at the Imprint Writing Awards of members of Ayr Writers Club. Six members were shortlisted and the club scooped 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the poetry section, (one member winning two prizes) and 1st and 2nd in the short story.  It’s a sign of a very vibrant and talented club and one I’m pleased to belong to.

Shortlisted for Imprint 2017

Shortlisted for Imprint

 

Scuttling Sideways to Move Forward

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I’m not one to believe in astrology though I confess to always reading my horoscope when I see one (in a waiting room or the hairdresser’s) and usually dismissing what it says if I don’t like it, while keeping a pleasing one in the back of my mind for future reference. My sign is Cancer the Crab and I have to admit I do have very crab-like tendencies; I disappear into my shell at the hint of any unpleasant situations as well as when I  need to get away from people and parties. Half an hour is usually my limit, after that nothing tempts me more than a quiet room, a nice cup of green tea and a good book.

My partner would claim I am crabby at times, even crabbit, that lovely Scots word that describes feeling bad-tempered, tired and at the end of your tether.

But I have noticed another crab-like tendency in relation to my writing. Take my last blog – there I was waxing forth about children’s books and writing for children; I wrote down all the ideas that came to mind, looked up the rhyming dictionary for words to rhyme with kangaroo  and sloth (rhymed text seems to be the in thing at the moment) and prepared to produce my children’s picture book.

So what did I actually write? A woman’s story, in fact, two of them. I seem to have stepped sideways away from writing for children and into the world of women’s short stories. Admittedly, the one I finished does have its roots in some of the notes I made for my children’s book but the other one, (which is not going satisfactorily and whose voice I haven’t quite got) came from nowhere. No, I tell a lie; it came from a funny story I read on Facebook when I was supposed to be writing my children’s story.

Does this happen to other writers? Do poets suddenly find themselves writing articles? Novelists writing limericks? Journalists for the broadsheets bursting into the purple prose of romances? Do other writers also take a step along a different avenue, not much travelled, and find themselves in terra incognita?

Or is it just me?

One of the woman’s stories is now sitting on an editor’s desk awaiting judgement while the other is on my desk ready for a hatchet job or a complete rewrite.  And the children’s book? Er… let’s just say it’s still at the draft stage.

As for astrology, the story on the editor’s desk was set around  a certain musical, one song  of which contains the line ‘….this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius….’

Maybe I’ll have a look at today’s horoscope, just in case.