Scottish Association of Writers 2019

The Scottish Association of Writers were celebrating their 50th conference this year and they did it in some style with cake and balloons and a Bookiversity quiz and a play written and performed by a bunch of crime writers and yes, it was criminal!

And of course, there were competitions, speakers and workshops galore!

Here are some of my photos from the event;

dinner 2

The Gala Dinner

trophy winners

The Trophy Winners from Ayr Writers’ Club

play

‘Carry on Sleuthing’ with Caro Ramsay, Pat Young, Michael J. Malone and Douglas Skelton hamming it up.

sheila and me

Me and ma pal catching up on a year’s gossip.

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!

pencil

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

 

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.

Taxing Reading

It’s that time of year when I have to dig out my bulging file of receipts, invoices and payments for the last 12 months and start getting them into some sort of order prior to filling in my tax return online.

One of my biggest expenses is that for newspapers, magazines and books. We read a lot. A huge lot. So much so, it is not considered a luxury but a necessity. Books, magazines and newspapers are an essential like bread, potatoes and Green and Black’s chocolate (preferably dark). Where would we be if we didn’t have something to read? bookcase

We get the Herald delivered every morning so that I can read it over breakfast. I must have something to read while eating my muesli. The tablet is no use as it ends up all sticky and doesn’t absorb the drips and if it does, it’s in trouble. No, it’s got to be the newspaper. I read it through, timing it so that I reach the last page just as I scrape the final grains from my plate. At elevenses, I turn to the puzzle page and try a variety including the sudoku (hard) and the kakuro. I don’t often solve them but that’s not the point. It’s the doing that counts!

Mondays are different. They’re Wee Stinker days. A fiendish crossword on the back page devised by Myops which requires all hands to the tablet and sites like one look.com for filling in the blanks, Andy’s anagram page for the anagrams, and as a last resort when I’m absolutely stuck, Crossword Help forum‘s Wee Stinker page. Sometimes I manage to finish it but again that’s not the point. It’s my brain gym for the day.

On Saturdays, we buy two (yes two) bulky newspapers which keep us going for the rest of the week. A quick read through at the weekend and then the rest of the week for in-depth reading.

At least we can recycle old newspapers but it’s the books which are breeding fast in the house. As I said, they’re a necessity and like all readers find, it’s very hard to get rid of them. We did try kindles and we still use them for holiday reading. Much easier than trying to pack enough books for the whole time – we are quick readers – but just not the same. I don’t seem to remember having read a book when it’s on a kindle and have found that I’ve gone and bought a paperback copy of one that I already have read. Still, it has meant that there are less books to find storage for as one wardrobe is filling up fast!

And Michael J. Malone, your book’s in the wardrobe as it’s just been read! It will be promoted to a bookshelf once a space becomes available. The NHS may have bed-blocking, we have book-blocking.wardrobe

I don’t understand people who don’t read. Look at what they’re missing! And what do they do with all that spare time?

No, books, magazines and newspapers are a necessity. And a tax allowable expense, fortunately.