Tag Archives: Faber Academy

Support…and what it means

21 May

Support comes in many shapes and forms, sometimes welcomed, sometimes not. Sometimes looked for, and lacking; sometimes coming unexpectedly.

Friends support me through difficult times, as I hope I support them. Readers give words of encouragement, and the occasional review. Family gives practical support, taking up the slack.

The past couple of weeks I’ve been doing more supporting than usual – mainly on the care front as my sister-in-law who normally does loads has been in America. But on the literary front, I went to support my classmate from the Faber Academy Novel Writing course, who has just published the first novel in a trilogy – Changed Times. Ethyl Smith was ably supported by a couple of friends who shared the reading of her novel, and by many others who came along to listen and buy her book. Must admit I was extremely tired, and not always fully connected (which had nothing to do with the performances or the novel), but on the train home, I reflected on how important it is for writers (and others) to support each other. Ethyl certainly appreciated her great turnout, and I was honoured to be one of the first people she showed early drafts to and I’m looking forward to reading the completed book.

Ethyl Smith signing copies of Changed Times

Ethyl Smith signing copies of Changed Times

We all write in isolation, whether in a busy cafe or a quiet study, bringing characters out from our imaginations onto the page, so it is lovely to get feedback, a pat on the back, or simply, to see a face in the crowd.

If you’re looking to support writers, you could do worse than coming along to the Scottish Writers’ Centre at the CCA on Tuesday night in Glasgow to see their Spring Showcase. I’m definitely going to try to be there.

Another Faber Academy Success

17 May

The Faber Academy only ran one Novel Writing course in Glasgow, and I was lucky enough to be on it with a crowd of talented writers being tutored by Janice Galloway.  Now it’s time for another book launch – on Thursday in Waterstones Argyle St, Glasgow at 6.30pm – for the historical novel by Ethyl Smith Changed Times. Ethyl is a great storyteller, and I’m really looking forward to reading the novel which I first read in its early stages during the Faber course.

The Amazon blurb reads: Charles II is on the throne, the Episcopacy has been restored, and southern Scotland is in ferment. The King is demanding superiority over all things spiritual and temporal and rebellious Ministers are being ousted from their parishes for refusing to bend the knee. When John Steel steps in to help one such Minister in his home village of Lesmahagow he finds himself caught up in events that reverberate not just through the parish, but throughout the whole of southern Scotland…

A Little Round Up

6 May

Hello, this month this blog is Blog of the Month for the Federation of Writers (Scotland), so I thought I would give a little round up of who I am and what I do, and what appears on this blog in case this is the first time you’ve been here. If you want reminders to read the blog, you can sign up to follow it via email, Facebook or Twitter, by clicking on the links.

  • I live in Glasgow with my husband and three kids who are mainly of the teenage variety.
  • I’ve been writing fiction for as long as I can remember, took it relatively seriously in my early 20s when I was very involved with the Castlemilk Writers and Cutting Teeth.
  • Got too involved in my career, and as involved as I should have been with having kids in my 30s, so writing took a back seat.
  • Gave up my career, got a job in a supermarket, did a 6 month Faber Academy Novel Writing Course, wrote a novel All the Places I’ve Ever Been , published 3 collections of short stories, won a few competitions, and was shortlisted twice for the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award, in my 40s.
  • I’m in the G2 Writers group (with former members of the Faber Academy and Glasgow Uni MLitt Course)- writers I’ve worked with who have published or are just about to publish novels or poetry collections: Ethyl Smith, Vicki Jarrett, Maggie Ritchie, Gail Honeyman, Kev Scott, Maria Sinclair, JoAnne McKay Charlie Gracie
  • I regularly post new fiction here – often inspired by the writing prompts at Creative Writing Ink.
  • I also post more generally about what I’m up to in the writing field and give hints about all the things that keep me away from writing, mainly to do with care responsibilities and hospital visits (rarely mine).
  • I am currently working on my second novel – although I’ve put another ‘second novel’ on the back burner which was actually my first novel, and the one I’m writing now was my first play, so, oh, you get the idea. I’m writing something.
  • So, that’s me – if you want to know more, hang around, take a look at some of my previous posts, or have have a look at my publications.

Big Shout Out

27 Apr

To my Faber Academy buddy Ethyl Smith who published her first novel today – Changed Times.

Some Questions Answered

13 Feb

One of my friends is about to discuss All the Places I’ve Ever Been with her book group in Switzerland, and posed me a few questions. I thought the easiest way would be to do a little Q & A here. If there’s anything I’ve missed, please feel free to ask below, or on GoodReads.

Q: Where did you get your inspiration?

A: I’ve always been a big music fan, and a keen traveler, so it made sense to put the two together with a love story to create my first novel. I suppose lots of young girls fantasize about running off with a rock band, and I was no different. Even though I was no longer young, the stories that had stayed in my head were the go-to ones when I started the Faber Academy course on Writing a Novel a few years ago.

Q: Is it based on a true story?

A: While I am the same age as Meg, and was therefore a teenage girl in 1985, and while Meg and I have visited a lot of the same places, and had a lot of the same impressions, she is a fictional character. I did do quite a bit of research though, watching every rock documentary I could get my hands on – thanks to MTV – and re-visiting places via Google Maps. I also went to a rehearsal of one of my workmates bands Rebel 69, and that was really interesting, allowing me to get close up to the dynamics of a band.

Q: Have you visited the same places as Meg?

A: I can’t claim to have visited all the same places as Meg, but I have been to a lot of them. The places Meg stays longest, like San Francisco, New Orleans and Paris, are places I have been and spent a bit of time, but I decided that Meg wouldn’t go to the Far East, as I thought that would be too difficult to make realistic when I haven’t been there. Everywhere else, I’ll let you guess.

I did go to quite a few concerts at the Glasgow Apollo before it closed in 1985, and I was able to do a tour of The Barrowlands Ballroom when I was doing my research – getting into the dressing rooms, and asking loads of questions of the manager Stan.

Q: Any other interesting info?

My friends who read the first drafts were great at picking up little mistakes in the details. I don’t drink gin, but chose what I thought was a classy brand for the band’s party. One of my gin-drinking friends was able to tell me that that brand wasn’t around at the time, as she remembered quite clearly when it came on the market. She was also got me to check when Neighbours was first shown in the UK, and right again, it was too late for my book, so that had to be scraped too.

I did have a bit of an argument with Stevie from Rebel 69 as he claimed Big Country never played the Apollo, but I won that one, thanks to a bit of research in Apollo Memories.

#Glasgow Apollo #Barrowlands #Faber Academy #Writing Inspiration # Rebel 69 #Janice Galloway #Book Group Choice


Big Success Story (just not mine)

23 Oct

Many, many congratulations to my wonderful writing buddy Gail Honeyman who has proved that dreams do come true with a bidding war for her first novel. Bookseller Article Had an amazing night celebrating her success and found it really inspiring to know that sometimes hard work really does pay off – mind you Gail has tonnes of talent too.

Feeling very pumped up after my short break in Brussels, and ready to embark (for the first time) on NaNoWriMo to challenge myself to write 50k words in November, well what else am I going to be doing during the long dark days before Christmas?

P1050593 P1050637 P1050640 P1050747 P1050786

The Next Big Thing

16 Nov

Vicki was one of my classmates on the Faber Writing a Novel course – the first (but hopefully not the last) to be published.

The Next Big Thing.

Starting Again

14 Nov

Well the day has come when novel two begins. I’m still looking for an agent for All the Places I’ve Ever Been and marketing my e-book The Chocolate Refuge, but I’ve now got to a level of anxiety coupled with frustration which means that I need to start something big and new. I’ve been writing quite a few short pieces over the past few months which has been useful but ultimately I know that I’m procrastinating a bit. There is always another short story competition that you can enter, always another magazine looking for submissions. At work today I even thought that I might put a radio play before my novel. BUT NO.

My last post was about NanoWrimo (write a novel in a month), but when I hadn’t written a word by Nov 5th I decided that life was stressful enough without putting more deadlines in. I do know though that keeping track of how many words I’m writing does help to keep me on track, so I will be jotting down word counts and setting weekly targets. I’m going away next week for 4 days at a writers’ retreat and will put together a hefty target for that so I don’t just sit about chatting and drinking wine (pleasant though that sounds). I am determined that I don’t go there without the start of my novel written, so tonight, after homework and my daughter’s first filling will be the time when words are written.

So now for the big decisions. I wrote 20,000 words of this novel many years ago and have been re-reading it over the past few days. The story is still sound and one that I want to tell, but the writing is not very well crafted. Since I wrote the draft I’ve done the Faber Academy Novel Writing Course and had two years of extensive writing critiques from my writers’ group. I know that I’m a better writer than I was when I started this book, so I need to decide whether to try and salvage or start again.

I know, I’ve got to start again. New book, new voice. Page 1, line 1. It starts with a question ‘What would you do…’

First Success from Glasgow Faberites

2 Oct

Exciting night on Friday as the first of the Glasgow Faber Academy Novel Writing group launched their first novel. Vicki Jarrett’s Nothing is Heavy – a tale of chip shops, pole dancing and a man in a gorilla suit. Vicki worked on the novel throughout the course, and it was a pleasure to read the work in progress. Now I’ve got my hands on the finished version, and I can’t wait to dig in. Have a go yourself – buy direct from the publisher so they don’t have to give all their profits to Amazon http://www.linenpressbooks.com/

It was wonderful to see how happy and thrilled Vicki was to be holding her book, particularly when I know the blood, sweat and tears that went into the writing of it – it’s hard work to make something look so easy. There was talk about which of us would be next… but in the meantime we’ll savour Vicki’s success.

Nothing is Heavy by Vicki Jarrett

Back to the Start

30 Nov

I’ve been procrastinating a bit, but once again having to submit to my writers’ group has made me open the novel again and admit that there is still work to be done. While my beta readers are merrily reading away I’m going back to p1. Hopefully this will be the final draft, at least until I get some feedback from agents. So I need to make sure that I’ve done all the things I set out to do (or at least the ones I didn’t abandon early on). I’ve got a huge ring binder full of notes and drafts, another one full of feedback from my group on all the extracts they’ve seen, before I even consider the 211 pages that is ‘All the Places I’ve Ever Been’. I suppose I better get on with it then. Aiming to be finished by the end of Jan.