Tag Archives: Novel Writing

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.

And Breathe

24 Sep

I know you didn’t know I’d been away, but I have and now I’m home so I thought it was finally time to blog (a little) about what I’ve been up to. Without breaking any medical confidences, I’ve just spent 11 nights in the parents’ accommodation of a large children’s hospital in a city other than the one in which I live.

I’ll not go into details, but suffice to say the whole experience was worthwhile but horrible to live through – and I was only the one sitting by the hospital bed, and not in it.

Anyway, this isn’t a medical blog, it’s a writing one, so here goes:

As I sat, sometimes with my husband, sometimes without, in a variety of wards, kitchens and lounge areas with other parents, I was amazed how much people needed to talk, to tell their stories, to tell the stories of their children. As a women, I’ve been in situations before when I’ve listened to, and told, traumatic stories (normally about childbirth), but my husband hasn’t really and I think he was quite taken aback by people’s openness. It did strike me though how fundamental a need we have to tell these stories, even, or especially, when we are in the middle of trauma/stress/grief.

It also struck me that there is inevitably a form of sympathy competition, where each parent wants to be the one getting rather than giving the sympathy, but none of us want to have the worst story, as that would mean our child might be the one who doesn’t make it.

On a lighter note, as my child did, and is now making good use of her bell to keep me running after her – every day I tried to get a bit of fresh air, and luckily the hospital was situated right next to a large park in the heart of the university area. When I came back my walk I had to regale H with the sights I’d seen. A man on a skateboard isn’t very exciting, but when he’s being pulled by huskies it is. A couple trying and failing to tightrope walk is quite amusing, and a busker who verbally abused posh kids for clapping was just quite disturbing. Anyway, by telling stories about my little walks, it passed a little time.

What didn’t pass the time was me reading, writing or doing anything other than helping H get back on her feet. I had envisaged a Heidi- type scenario with me reading Jane Austen to her, while she lay meekly on the bed. Didn’t realise that once she was off the morphine, I’d be taking over much of her care to prepare us for home. I was absolutely wrecked by the time we left, both physically and mentally, but am finally beginning to re-connect with the outside world, even though H’s recuperation is far from over, and am thinking again about my novel – did I tell you it is set in a hospital…

Final word – the staff at the hospital were absolutely amazing. Comforting, caring and cajoling. Love our NHS.

 

Update – Event More Excited ‘Lost’ – Writing Magazine

3 Aug

Very excited that my short story Lost, which won second prize in the Writing Magazine’s 750 words competition, is now available to read on the Writers Online website, although you may need to be a subscriber to access. Great to get feedback to in the judge’s comments section.

Update:

Just found out that the story is also in the printed version of the magazine – unfortunately mine doesn’t normally arrive until Saturday, so need to make do with a photography sent via the lovely Ethly Smith, whose book Changed Times is out now.

If you manage to read the story I’d love to know what you thought. And you just know you’re going to get a photo of me with the magazine tomorrow, with a big grin on my face.

Holiday Reading – Cheap (but Great Quality)

3 Jul

Right folks, time for another Kindle Countdown Deal for All the Places I’ve Ever Been (99p for next two days, then going up in increments for a few days before it returns to its normal price).

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.

 

No matter how far she runs, Meg can never escape the past.

No matter how far she runs, Meg can never escape the past.

If you’ve already bought it, I’d love it if you could share this link with your friends, and add a review on Amazon (even if it’s only a word or two). If you haven’t already bought it – what are you waiting for – you won’t get it cheaper.

If, like me, you don’t actually own a Kindle (I’m still struggling with a Nook, which I think is going to be upgraded very soon), then you can buy a print copy, online, or in person if you see me out and about.

Happy Holidays.

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.

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