Janus – looking both ways

The Roman God Janus is always depicted as looking both ways – back to the past and forwards into the future.

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So, looking back: 2017 was quite a year. I self-published two books, A Drop of Rainbow Magic for children and an illustrated memoir,A Scottish Childhood; Growing Up a Baby Boomer.

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On top of all that, I spoke and adjudicated competitions at a couple of events, ran several workshops on various aspects of writing, attended conferences and lunches organised by the Scottish Association of Writers and the Society of Authors in Scotland, did readings and sold books at book fairs, as well as writing a children’s book (rejected but still trying!) and revising a novel which was accepted by a publisher.

And in 2018? I’ve finished the first round of editing for the novel, Festival Fireworks, so it’s on to having the cover designed ready for its launch in the spring. I’m 22,000 words into another novel, thanks to the push of NaNoWriMo, and I want to get a move on with that this month.

Who knows what else I’ll get up to? It’s exciting looking forward but also there’s a bit of trepidation too. Anything can happen.

Janus was also the god of beginnings and endings, of gates and portals; in times of peace his gates were closed and only opened in times of war.

Let us hope that in 2018 his gates remain firmly closed to war and that he heralds new beginnings for us all.

A Happy New Year to all my friends and followers!

 

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Society of Authors Christmas Lunch

It was off to Edinburgh on a clear, very cold morning for the Society of Authors Christmas lunch. As the train travelled up the coast towards Glasgow, I could see the Isle of Arran glittering in its light dusting of snow. The quiet, peaceful scene was soon shattered when we reached Glasgow and its hordes of shoppers already out looking for Christmas bargains.view arran

The train to Edinburgh was packed. Were they all going there to shop? What was wrong with the Glasgow shops? Or were the trains going the opposite way also packed with people coming to Glasgow to shop? I sat beside a lovely young Polish family, the two girls practising their knowledge of the language while writing and drawing. They were very talented young artists so I couldn’t resist handing over a couple of my bookmarks and suggesting they buy A Drop of Rainbow Magic where they could be the illustrators of the stories. Never miss an opportunity – that’s my motto!

Edinburgh is a city of stairs and steps and we climbed the Scotsman Steps, all 105 of them to reach our venue in the Royal Mile, the Radisson Blu hotel, reputed to be haunted!royal mile

Lunch was a constant babble of voices as we chatted and caught up with friends, but not a ghost was to be seen, fortunately.hotel

Two of my fellow Tirgearr authors were there and they filled me in on what to expect as I went through the processing of editing, launching and publicising my book. (Festival Fireworks in case you’re asking, out in March 2018. And set in Edinburgh too.)lunch 2

Self-publishing, virtual book launches and book and craft fairs were other topics I learned a lot about from speaking to other authors and I came away with plenty to mull over and swot up. lunch 1

And Scotrail decided that after all that lovely food and drink, we would need some exercise to walk it off. So after climbing down the Scotsman Steps again to Waverley Station, we crossed and recrossed the station trying to find a train going to Glasgow that wasn’t cancelled. Third time lucky, we squeezed into a carriage and set off home.

Why is it that the trains to and from Ayr to Glasgow are long, comfortable with plenty of seats and lovely views while the trains between the two main cities in Scotland are much smaller, cramped, packed out and liable to be cancelled there and then? Or is that a question for another time, another blog?

But we all had a lovely day and many thanks to the President Linda Strachan and her committee for organising it all. Here’s to the next one!

 

Writer of Many Things

My tagline is A Writer of Many Things, and last week showed me exactly why I called myself that.

Winners 2017

Ayr Writers’Club Trophy Winners 2017

I gave a workshop on writing short stories to fellow members of Ayr Writers’ Club where I tried to get them to produce some of the various elements like character, voice, dialogue and conflict, that go to make up a short story. If nothing else, it provoked quite a bit of merriment as they attempted in pairs to have their characters meet as strangers in a public place, especially when they had to read out what they’d written to the assembled company. But hopefully there was a germ of a short story in some of them that they can work on and enter in one of the many competitions around.

I was just recovering the next morning when the competition entries from Largs Writers’ Group landed on my mat. I had spoken there about writing for children (see my blog) and set them to write me 1000 words of a children’s story, stating what age range they were aiming at. And what a lot of work some of them have put into their entry! There were drawings galore for the picture book entries and many even set out their text as they would in a picture book. Others had aimed at older children and boy, were they scary. There are some excellent stories among them although as I have only read them all through once, I can’t decide yet who the winners will be.

And a week or two ago, I heard that my novel, Festival Fireworks, had been taken up by Tirgearr, an Irish publisher selling mainly to the American market, and will be out in March. It’s a romance, not my usual genre, but then what is, and there will be editing and proofreading to keep me busy till then.

Meantime, I’ve started another romance novel, seeing as how I should strike while the iron’s hot (a cliché I know but I can’t think of what else to say!) and anyway, it’s NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. I won’t say how many words I’ve managed so far but at least it’s a start.

Book Week Scotland is at the end of the month and a group of us are up in Auchterarder in Perthshire for their Book Fair. I’ve been making sure I have plenty of books to take with me to sell and designing bookmarks to hand out.

So I’m definitely a writer of many things, which I thoroughly enjoy. After all, a change is as good as a holiday. (Not another cliché surely!)

 

A Breath of FreshAyr

FreshAyr opened with a rollicking start last week aided and abetted by various members of Ayr Writers Club, Scottish Screenwriters and many friends and associates.coffee

There were readings and sketches, music and coffee and it all went down a treat. Even the sun shone to help it on its way.

Robert Singer, the powerhouse behind it all, is hoping to develop the area into a creative arts centre showcasing the work of local artists, musicians and writers.general view

Herborg Hansen, the project coordinator, commented that,

the event showed a lot of support from creatives and set an example of what can be achieved by collaborating in reviving Ayr’s culture and town centre.

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Some of the actors in a sketch

FreshAyr is still in its very early stages and is run as a voluntary organisation. But we are expanding and recruiting and before long we hope be a charity organisation that turns café profits into creative action. But we depend on the collaboration from the community and urge people to get in touch regarding future exhibitions, performances or even if people want to get involved in supporting the project going forward.

janiceThere was a lot of enthusiasm and interest shown by the Saturday shoppers in the town who ventured in to see what was afoot.

I did a couple of sessions for kids, one a deliberately noisy session with Miss Hullaballoo  who insisted that everyone, including parents, join in a singalong of Rock-a-Bye-Baby and Sing  Song of Sixpence as loudly as they could.me FreshAyr

For the grown-ups, among others, Jennifer read her award winning story, Magda, Carolyn read a monologue and I met Robert Burns in heaven in my piece. Martin Bone, Douglas Skelton and Gail McPartland read extracts from their recently published novels while other members read short stories and poems.

And we even sold quite a few books!20170805_123554

my booksFreshAyr’s Facebook page is here for further information on upcoming events.

 

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)

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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.