You Tube Star

16 Oct

Well, maybe not quite yet, but you can see me read an extract of my story Time Moves Sideways here. The complete story is in the current issue of From Glasgow to Saturn.

I also took part in the launch event last night. I hadn’t intended to read live as I have been away for a couple of days in my island home and didn’t think I would have time to prepare. In the end, I went for it. Hopefully without making a fool of myself.

From Glasgow to Saturn – Launch Event

12 Oct

I am delighted to be reading at the launch event for the magazine From Glasgow to Saturn which is taking place at 7pm on Thursday evening as part of the Stay-a-Home Fringe run by Glasgow University MLit students.

The website looks great with lots of Creative Conversations and a range of other literary events to keep us all going.

My husband has decided he will be my art director for this afternoon’s video shoot, so wish us well.

Hope to see you all on Thursday.

Zealous Update

30 Sep

Well, I promised you an update with either a happy or a sad face, and I am afraid that this time it is sad. Never mind, I will revel in my shortlisting.

The story which one is absolutely beautiful and very worthy of the prize. If you haven’t checked out the stories yet, you can find the winner here.

My story WhatsAppening, along with the other shortlisted titles can be read here. Well done to my friend Frances, who spotted which one was mine.

In amongst virtual bundles of academic editing, I have also been enjoying the Wigtown Book Festival. I have mainly been sticking with non-fiction – Alastair Campbell, Anne Applebaum, Helena Kennedy (who went to the same school as me), Neil McGregor and Richard Holloway. There was a theme of dissent and the how to cope in an every changing world, which ran through a lot of the discussions.

I was very taken by Richard Holloway who said, ‘no one can be perfect, but we can all improve.’ He also told a story about a man on a beach, throwing stranded starfish back into the sea. When a passer-by ridiculed him by saying there were too many on the beach for him to make any difference, he picked up another starfish, threw it into the water and said, ‘I’ve made a difference to that one.’

Jane Goodall said something similar to Trevor Noah on the Daily Show. ‘If we clean the stream next to us, we have a clean stream to run into the river. If everyone cleans the stream next to them, we have a clean river.’ In other words, never give up hope, but act and do.

I did catch Maggie O’Farrell’s talk as well on her new novel Hamnet. I am twitching to buy lots of books from the festival bookshop, but will wait until the end of the festival and then splurge.

I have wanted to go to Wigtown during the festival for years (I have been a couple of times and been enchanted by it), so I was happy to spend some time and money (events are free, but donations encouraged) to see some of the brilliant authors who were ‘there’.

VLF (Virtual Literary Festival) just sent me an email with lots of other festivals being broadcast over the next few months. Check them out.

Zealous Shortlist

25 Sep

Delighted to have one of my stories shortlisted for a Zealous award. Exciting times – I do love a competition with short turn arounds. I submitted nine days ago and will know the outcome in three days time. You can read all the shortlisted stories here – they are anonymous just now, but you can always have a guess at which one is mine, and check back on Sunday for either a happy or a sad face from me.

Wigtown Book Festival

17 Sep

One of the good things about Covid – okay, the only good thing, is that so many Arts organisations have moved their content online.

The Wigtown Book Festival starts a week from today and has a great line-up. I have got tickets to see Alistair Campbell, Anne Applebaum, Neil McGregor, Helena Kennedy and Philip Hensher (he is discussing the Golden Age of the British Short Story). Tickets are all free, but as with anything in life, you value more what you pay for, so there is an option to donate to keep the festival healthy. (Have you seen you can buy me a virtual coffee to keep me fuelled?)

I am hoping to be inspired by the Book Festival, but at the moment all my time is being taken up with editing and dentistry – one paying for the other.

Reading Roulette @ SWC

19 Aug

Everyone is having to adapt to this strange new world and the lovely people at the Scottish Writers’ Centre have hit on a novel (pardon the pun) way to link writers with readers. So, on the 25th of August, they will be hosting a Roulette Speakeasy.

A week ago I submitted my 3 minute video and on the night, the roulette wheel will be spun and videos will be played from some of these lovelies. Can you spot me?

Speakeasy Line up
Roulette Speakeasy Line up for August 2020

Tickets are free but you must register in advance to gain access. You can do it here at the Scottish Writers’ Centre. If you are feeling a little to very generous, you can also leave a small donation to help the work of the centre.

There are another couple of G2 members in the line-up, but I will leave you to figure that out by yourself, but will give a hint – a full list of G2 members (and the groups that spawned it) are under the G2 Writers tab.

Hope some of you are able to make it. Spaces are limited, so get to it.

Kindle Countdown Continues

20 Jul

Just a reminder that the Kindle Countdown on All the Places I’ve Ever Been continues for the next couple of days.

Kindle Countdown Deal

All the Places I’ve Ever Been is a coming-of-age novel set in the late 1980s. It follows teenager Meg Burns on a round the world journey as she flees from a violent attack in Glasgow to travel with Australian rock band MindSet. Streetwise but emotionally immature, each new city brings opportunities and challenges. The band gives Meg the security she has never had, but when support turns to control and secrets re-emerge, she needs to decide who she can really trust.

Kindle Countdown Week

15 Jul

After teasing you for a couple of days with my photos of some of the places I have been, you can now take advantage of the Kindle Countdown Deal I have set up for All the Places I’ve Ever Been – Kindle Edition is now only 99p, going up to £1.99 in a couple of days, before it goes back to its usual price – still a bargain at £2.99.

If you prefer a paperback, you can get one here.

As ever, please leave a review if you can. Thanks

Travelling without Travel

14 Jul

I recently finished reading a book about Truman Capote (Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott). At the end of his life, Capote who was very firmly one of the jet-set, had to travel the world from the comfort of his room. He did this by choosing a country, then eating food from there, listening to its music and looking at art. I am disinclined to travel, for the first time in my life, and while I normally watch travel shows with at least a fantasy of one day being able to go to the places. At the moment, its Bettany Hughes’ Greek Odyssey, Cardinal’s Canada and Little Fire’s Everywhere’s Ohio.

I have got lots of memories in the bank of travels around Europe and North America which I had hoped to expand on, but not this year – damn you Covid-19. Many memories of specific places came out in my novel – All the Places I’ve Ever Been – although the story is fiction, but more of that tomorrow.

One place I loved was San Francisco, where my heroine, Meg, spends quite a bit of time. When I was there in the 1980s, my sister and I met a very famous travel journalist (Judith Chalmers) on the ferry to Alcatraz. She was filming her TV show – Wish You Were Here – and when we described our trip as ‘once in a lifetime’, she assured us, we would be back. My sister did make it back and my son visited a couple of years ago, but I haven’t made it yet (although I did get to Mexico). One day, North America … one day.

Strange Summer

13 Jul

So Facebook have started to fill my memories with places I’ve holidayed over the past few years and I am trying not to be down. This year’s planned trip to New York has been cancelled and we will just have to make do with a week at our wee island getaway (which we have never been so grateful for, but have to spread the joy among the co-owners/siblings).

Today’s memory was of a rather lovely terrace at an apartment in Catalonia. The family folklore is that that was the holiday when we nearly died. We didn’t really, but we were all rather nervous as we were told to follow a car that would take us to our holiday home (with a private pool for the first time ever). We had arrived in the resort early, so had already seen the house, so we were surprised when the agent drove passed the road and on up a hill and then onto a dirt track. She stopped her car and we stopped right next to a broken down building covered in graffiti.

We all looked at the building, my husband and I picturing a Spaghetti Western type ambush, while the kids anticipated video game villains to start shooting. We took a deep breath as the agent approached our car. ‘Ah, I did not say,’ she said.

Oh here it comes, we’ve been scammed.

‘There is a slight problem.’

Slight!

‘The house you wanted has been double booked, but this one is better.’

It didn’t look better … it didn’t even have a roof.

‘The gate there, will take you by foot to your apartment and is the best way to get down to the beach. But I will drive you round to the car entrance.’

So we followed again, not exactly happy about what was happening, but certainly relieved not to have been held at gunpoint and robbed. The apartment she showed us was absolutely gorgeous and while the pool wasn’t private, there was never more than a couple of other families with tiny tots in it, so we had the deep end all to ourselves.

Beautiful apartment plus indulging my passion for Gaudi and Dali

We never did work out what had actually happened with the booking and whether or not the owner of the apartment we stayed in ever knew of our existence. We enjoyed the luxury, although it was a steep walk back from the beach (whereas the original booking had a shorter and flatter walk). We often used the gate the agent had shown us and never failed to look a little furtively at the abandoned shack.

I did also manage to do a quick photo shoot for All the Places I’ve Ever Been