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Postcards in the Attic

1 Dec

When I was younger I collected postcards, and as a result when people were having a clear-out (usually after a death), they would pass me any postcards they found. I knew I had them, I knew there were treasures there, I just kept putting off looking through them. Today, as a precursor to doing some writing, I pulled them out, and they didn’t disappoint. I haven’t reached the Majorca of the early 80s – flamenco dancers with real skirts, but I have, rather handily, found a bundle from Switzerland, Germany and Austria from the 1950s – the era of my current writing project.

Selection of the Collection

Selection of the Collection

Bizarre postcard of Ronnie and Nancy Reagan with their heads swapped, and a cheery one of a V2 flying bomb – wish you were here?

One of the photos has inspired a chain of thought already, and others are helping with the general vibe. Glad I finally opened the box.

Short Story Giveaway

11 Nov

Tomorrow (Thursday 12th of November) I’ll be giving away a free short story to all my followers who have registered with their email address. If you’d like to read Free as a Bird, please make sure you’ve added your email address at the Sign Me Up button.

Next month I’ll be giving away another short story, so don’t miss out.

Free as a Bird

Free as a Bird

Graveyard Scenes

18 Sep

P1040646 P1040650 P1040661 P1040679 P1040695 P1040697 P1040711I do have a bit of a preoccupation with death but even I was surprised how much I enjoyed my walk around Cathcart Cemetery, taking photos of Victorian graves for … well, that will be revealed shortly. Thought I’d share some of my photos though as I’m quite proud of them.

Artists’ Techniques – No Matter the Medium

19 Mar

So the BBC’s Big Painting Challenge http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02cs0gw takes off where where Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year http://www.sky.com/tv/show/portrait left us. Now I should point out that I cannot draw or paint to save my life. I have good hand/eye coordination (throw something at me and watch my quick reactions), and I think I can take a not bad photo, but I just cannot get it together when it comes to drawing. What I do love though is looking at art, and watching artists at work.

I’m really fascinated at the different approaches the artists take, and wonder if you can extrapolate the techniques to writing. Some of the painters begin by getting rid of that big blank page by giving a nice colour wash. Maybe we could do the same by using coloured paper – Page Layout lets you do this – choosing a different colour for different moods might help you hit the right tone (I haven’t tried this yet, but I think I might). Then there’s the decision whether to start with broad brush strokes, throwing down the frame of the story (this is definitely me), or using neat line drawings to map out each step of the way. Do you concentrate on one part of the picture until it is absolutely perfect, or work in one colour, then another, or move about the image fixing and re-touching the picture as a whole.

When the amateur artists were looking at perspectives and landscapes, they were told about vanishing points, and blurring or sharpening lines depending on how far away the object or part of the object should appear. Then there’s shading – what has to appear in the sun, and what has only to be hinted at.

If you give any of the above a try let me know how you get on. In the meantime, here’s a landscape of Arran with Millport in the foreground. Please feel free to be inspired.

Arran taken from Millport, Scotland

Arran taken from Millport, Scotland

Writers’ Retreat – The Return Visit

2 Dec

Two years ago I took the long road up the A9 to the Writers’ Retreat at Moniack Mhor. In two days time I’m away there again. The Retreat is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and a city girl like me got a bit stir crazy after a few…hours, but I’m really looking forward to going again. I’m heading off with eight other writers (I think that was the final count) from the G2 Writers’ Group and we plan to do lots of writing during the day, and a little drinking at night.

The prospect of having 4 days with nothing to do other than read and write is really exciting, as my life hasn’t got any quieter, and my writing is still being squeezed into little spaces of time – very often in sports clubs’ cafes. It will be wonderful though to have a good chunk of time with my new novel and be able to really get my head around what I’m trying to achieve without also listening out to see if the washing machine has finished or answering the phone to yet another cold caller.

Before I go I need to pull the house into a little bit of shape so that the kids have clean clothes while I’m away. But also got to fit in another G2 meeting before we leave, along with reading about 6,000 words for it.

The view of snow capped mountains from Moniack Mhor, Invernesshire.

The view of snow capped mountains from Moniack Mhor, Invernesshire.

My messy monastic cell at Moniack Mhor.

My messy monastic cell at Moniack Mhor.

Edinburgh Book Festival – And only 3 books bought

25 Aug

Ok, so I’m a little bit late this week with my Friday blog – which only started to be once a week last week, but hey, I’ve got pictures to compensate for my tardiness.

SUNDAY 11th of August

Over the past three weekends I’ve been shuttling backwards and forwards to Edinburgh to attend the Edinburgh Book Festival. First up, after an early start was Oliver James talking about his book Office Politics. Very interesting talk – looking at the triad of personalities which make everyone else’s life at work hell. Have I worked with any people who display the traits of psychopathy, Machiavellianism and/or narcississim? Maybe. Am I writing a book which may have such people in it. Maybe.

Next up an on the spot purchase of tickets to see Kari Herbert talk about her book on wives of polar explorers – Heart of the Hero, and Judith Mackrell talk about Flappers: women of a dangerous generation. (oh to be such a woman.) I think because the clothes were so fabulous I’ve always been quite fascinated by the 1920s, so it was good to hear about them and about the remarkable women of the generation before who were every bit as taboo breaking.

P1010590

SATURDAY 17th of August

Sometimes even the most literary among us just have to go and see their idols, so John Taylor it was. Just look at the photos and believe me – I was a happy girl.

 

SATURDAY 24th of August

Last, but no means least I get sensible again and go to see Margaret Atwood last night talking about the final book in her Oryx and Crake trilogy called Maddaddam. Wonderful talk by an absolute legend. She manages to make really huge issues like genetic engineering understandable because she makes them real. Sneak along a rather old copy of The Handmaid’s Tale to be signed as well, as it is one of my favourite books ever. P1010607

Funky Shirt sir

Funky shirt sir

World Book Night

1 May

A bit delayed, but I’ve been yo-yoing between parties and funerals over the past couple of weeks, but here, finally are the photos from World Book Night at the Glasgow Art Club. Just me and general audience for the moment.

Colette Coen reads from Words are Thought

Colette Coen reads from Words are Thought

Audience at Glasgow Art Club

Audience at Glasgow Art Club

Scottish Writers' Centre

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