Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Another party!

I'm enjoying myself at a virtual party today as Janice Horton launches her new novel -

Some of us attending the event have said we'll put up a photo of our favourite place on our blog.
Here's mine!
Where else could I choose but Bute - on a good day,of course, with warm and sunny weather !
        Unfortunately Bute today is no better than anywhere else in Scotland - wild and windy with rain and      sleet coming in on the south westerly winds - in spite of the promises today would be better.
               Didn't Shelley say something about 'Oh, wild west wind, thou breath of Autumn's being'?I guess the seasons are now so mixed up no one knows where one begins and the other ends. 
I'm so pleased that at least I have these photos to remind me of summer days on the island.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Back to Reality?

By dint of ignoring everything except writing I managed to complete 50020 words for NaNoWriMo by the evening of Monday 28th November.
The dust was inches thick, the washing piled up and the fridge, like Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard, was bare, but the new Bute novel is well on its way. Lots to do, including at least another 25000 words, but I'm feeling reasonably happy about the plot and the characters. Now it has to be put on ice for a while.
Meanwhile there are entries to be written for the SAW conference, short stories to be tidied up and my neglected diary to fill in.
Oh... and the small matter of Christmas!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The tension mounts!

Well, all attempts at writing a daily blog have of course gone! NaNoWriMo had to be abandoned for several days while I prepared a submission ( a completely different novel) for the Scottish Association of Writers conference next March - the deadline is 25th November so hopefully it won't disappear in the post.
Not to mention struggling with a tax return! Now where did I put those receipts?
Back to NaNoWriMo today and am now at 25,500 words. Can I make the final word count by the 30th November??
Time will tell!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Excuses...or not?

I've had a busy week including a great evening talking to the North Bute Literary Society and now have to buckle down to increasing the word count. Just over 25000 words written but I'm running out of time as NaNoWriMo is more than half way through. Can I keep going?

Monday, 14 November 2011

I've found the plot!

Hoorah! The main plot of the NaNoWriMo novel I'm writing has resolved itself and I at last have a good idea what happens(though not yet who did it). This way of writing is pretty haphazard but I just can't plot before I start as many other writers do.I have to let the characters behave as they wish -and rein them in when they become too uppity.
Now I have to deal with the subplot and that always causes me a lot more angst. Still, today I'm at almost 20000 words so if I can keep going.......

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Where is the time going?

Almost half way through the NaNoWriMo and at just over 17000 words. I now have this  terrible need to keep going in order to make the target, but life is crowding in!
Most of what's happening is pleasant (except for the trip to the dentist) including a great night on Tuesday at the Erskine Writers' dinner, of which I have the privilege currently of being President. Joan Fleming took some great photos of the prize giving event and Rosemary Gemmell has written about the evening in more detail on the Erskine Writers' blog.

This year was very productive  for me and I won the Quaich for the children's story, the Betty Munnoch award for poetry (and my other poem was second) plus I came second in the Article competition.
This yearly dinner and prize giving is one of the highlights of our year: good company and good chat!

We meet on Tuesday afternoons but postal members are very welcome.More details can be found on our website

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Missing day

While I managed the word count yesterday (mostly written on the ferry!) I didn't manage the update. Have to try harder I suppose. I'm now at over 16000 words and if I manage a day with no distractions (little hope of that!) I 'm trying to convince myself I'll soar ahead.
The researcher Tara is causing me a bit of bother - I think she knows more about the bearded man than she says!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Slow... but sure?

The new novel is still chugging along but I'll have to have something dramatic happen soon. On the plus side there's a dead body, on the minus side the characters don't seem too concerned about it.And though today's count of 1592 is fine I calculate I won't make the final total of 50000 words at this rate.
Had the very pleasant distraction of the Erskine Writers' dinner last night -good food and good company at the Ingliston Country club. Even writers deserve a night off!
Back to the dead body and prodding the characters to action.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Another day, another thousand words

Or 1174 to be precise! I feel I'm becoming a bit obsessed with counting every single word but I've developed a kind of rhythm, doing a bit every day and that seems to be settling at just over 1000 words. I would like to write more on a daily basis-I've some concerns that there may be days when it proves impossible to make progress for one reason or another. And while I managed today, I'm not sure this chapter will still be there in the final version.
Lots of luck to everyone else who is doing this in November-it's a great way to keep motivated!

Monday, 7 November 2011

The going gets tough!

Made 1128 words today to add to the total but it was pretty difficult! Nothing to do with time available (well, only a bit as I have several other things to write) but more to do with the characters refusing to move on. They appear to want to sit in the library doing nothing useful at all. Perhaps they need a break? Hopefully by tomorrow we'll all be refreshed, after an afternoon doing other things.
Hope a photo of Bute will inspire the characters to take action!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A day of rest...not!

Very tempting to have a day off but the thought of falling behind in the word count has spurred me on and I'm now able to enter 10174 in the little 'novel update' box on the NaNoWriMo site.
It's thanks to writing buddy Rosemary Gemmell I was able to do that at all, as I guess I must have wandered off into cyberspace last night instead of connecting with the others signed up for this.
I wonder where I was?
Now to all the other neglected tasks -I'm certainly not keeping up with them!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

DAY 5...just made it!

Today didn't look at all hopeful for writing,but have managed 1252 words,bringing the total to 7249. I've had to put Susie's startling news on hold because I realised there were huge gaps in the previous chapter.There's always tomorrow!
Went into one of the NaNoWriMo chat rooms last night,but it just seemed to be me and someone whose nickname was Timmy so I can't say I stayed long. Was everyone else too busy writing or had I wandered into the wrong place? That wouldn't surprise me at all.

Friday, 4 November 2011

DAY 4 NaNoWriMo

Slightly easier to write today on dry land!
Just over 7000 words counting today's total of 2212 and I feel I'm really getting into the plot now.
If I can manage this,I might adopt it as a strategy for writing -a novel in a month and then eleven months off!
The bearded man is still lurking and Alison's friend,Susie, has returned from America with some startling news.I wonder what it is??

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Day 3...enter the bearded man!

An interesting day trying to write my quota of words on the ferry to and from Bute.Fortunately it was a smooth crossing both times!
The only problem was I had to handwrite it and then key it all in when I came back but I did manage 1122 words so I'm almost at 5000 words. However I haven't actually read the NaNoWriMo instructions and was unsuccessful yesterday in logging on, so I may be heading in completely the wrong direction.
A bearded man appeared today -he seems faintly menacing,but will he be there in the final version?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011 2

Managed 2057 words this morning before I flagged! I've introduced Alison to a couple of characters, one of whom has had a nasty accident and one who has something to hide. Of course none of this may feature in the final version and I'm worried that one of the characters is already trying to take over,but I'll deal with that tomorrow. As I'm off to Bute for the day, I'll have to write the next instalment on the ferry. Hope it's not a bumpy crossing!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


A tall order,but I'm going to try it! I also hope to keep a daily record of what I manage to achieve,painful as that might be.
Will I have time for anything else? Probably not.

TUESDAY 1st November

Had to squeeze in the start of the novel between a trip to the dentist this morning and an afternoon at my writers' group,Erskine Writers.
I managed to write 1,820 words (every word counts in this task) but it was comparatively easy as I already had some ideas in mind and it was only a matter of getting them from my head and on to the computer.
I've decided to use the month to write the third Bute novel. I had always intended to write a trilogy -at least- and hopefully this will give me the motivation to get the bones of it together.
It's the same cast of characters as in my last Bute novels -Alison Cameron and her family and various friends.
Only now Alison has decided she's had enough of teaching and has set herself up as a non-fiction writer, with her first conmmission to write a history of the Pavilion in Rothesay which is undergoing refurbishment. Stand by for a few dead bodies, though at this stage I have as little knowledge of what will happen as Alison does.
Tomorrow,as they say, is another day!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Last Ferry to Bute book signing

The book signing event in Rothesay went really well in spite of it being a blustery,wet day and at one stage I was holding my breath in case I would sell out. Just made it with a few to spare-whew!One buyer wanted 5 copies for Christmas presents which was interesting. I had thought it would be best to sell in the Spring/summer as there are so many books on the market for Christmas but it appears that isn't the case.

A big thank you to everyone who came along and who helped with the publicity. And while selling copies is good,nothing beats a buyer saying 'I loved your last book and have been looking forward to this one.'

The whole business of marketing your own books is a strange one and there are some people out there who have had a lot more experience than I have had. You must be prepared to tell people how good you think the latest one is and most of us are writers rather than promoters. Still,it's all part of the brave new world,I suppose!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Signing event!

Looking forward to the signing event at the Print Point in Rothesay on Saturday morning. The Print Point staff are always so helpful and it's great to meet readers.

I've also signed up for NANOWRIMO and hope to be able to keep to the promise to write a novel (well,50000 words of one) during the month of November.I have an idea in mind for the next Bute novel and want to use the time to do that.
I'll be posting progress (or lack of it) on my blog!
I know others locally who have signed up so there will be a bit of mutual support.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Last Ferry to Bute has arrived!

Copies of my new Bute novel 'Last Ferry to Bute' have arrived and I've been busy arranging a book signing at the Print Point bookshop in Rothesay for the 29th October... and trying to sort out copies for the various outlets,so it's been a frantic few days.

I'm pleased with the cover,as it's exactly the image I hope to convey for this novel and am grateful to Richard Home for his permission to use his photos of the Bute ferry. Mine are not up to this standard, I'm afraid!

The blurb on the back cover reads:

Something strange is going on at the Hereuse Nursing home on the Isle of Bute. One of the residents, Jessie McAdam, thinks her life is in danger. Alison Cameron, who is reluctantly arranging a college reunion on the island, agrees to find out what is causing her mother’s old friend, Jessie, such concern. Before long Alison finds herself involved in a series of mysterious deaths. Meanwhile Alison’s daughter, Deborah, has started a new job at the Regius Gallery, owned by an antiques dealer whose activities are suspicious. Can Alison find out what is happening before it’s too late?

I have managed to finish and to send the next novel (which has nothing to do with Bute) to my editor. A breathing space would be good,especially as some of the entries for the Scottish Association of Writers' conference in March 2012 have to be in by the end of November.
I envy those writers who can work on several projects concurrently -I'm afraid I might mix up the characters and have them straying from one novel to the other.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Thank you!

Delighted to receive the Friendly Blogger award from Rosemary Gemmell! And to be in such good company.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Rosemary's book launch

Last night Rosemary Gemmell (in her guise as Romy Gemmell) launched her Regency novel 'Dangerous Deceit' at the MacLean museum in Greenock,well supported by friends, family and fans! Of course many of her fans are virtual as Rosemary's publisher is Canadian and she speaks to a world wide audience through her blogs.
We had a lot of fun, not least because Rosemary had dressed in Regency costume and gave us some inside information on what the well dressed lady would wear then.
Here's to the next one!

Rosemary in her Regency costume

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Flights of Fancy?

At the weekend I attended the second Baird of Bute event on a day of glorious sunshine. It was amazing to see all these planes come in to land on Bute's airfield and for those with an interest in flying it was a great opportunity to see so many small planes in action - in spite of the wind. The pilots were more than willing to let those attending potter around the aircraft and for some of the children it was an awesome experience.

The airfield at Bute

Some of the aircraft on display

A model of Andrew Baird's original aircraft(the propellor is now in the Glasgow Riverside museum)

Andrew Baird - the Flying Blacksmith

Andrew Baird was born in Galloway in 1862 and became an apprentice to a local blacksmith before going to work as a lighthouse keeper on Lismore. Later he travelled to Glasgow and worked as an Ironworker in the Clyde shipyards before setting up in business for himself as a blacksmith in Rothesay, on the island of Bute. It was an exciting age of developments in all fields, many of which we take for granted today - the first radio receiver, the modern escalator and the vacuum cleaner as well as the teabag and instant coffee. With this range of innovations in progress it is not surprising that Andrew Baird’s early achievements were varied.
  He was responsible for a number of improvements to the plough and succeeded in building a model of the triple expansion engine powered by electricity. His wide ranging pursuits led him to join the Scottish Aeronautical society, then very much in its infancy.This interest in aviation was particularly inspired by the achievements of the Wright brothers and he sought to find out all he could about this new mode of transport, initiating and sustaining a correspondence with Louis Bleriot and with Franklin Cody.
            After Bleriot completed his powered flight across the English Channel in 1901, Baird made the journey to Blackpool where an aeronautical exhibition was being held. What he learned there inspired him to start a project to build a plane in partnership with a friend, Ned Striven, who was the Burgh engineer in Rothesay. The engine itself was built in Edinburgh and its wings were sown in silk by Andrew’s wife, Euphemia. The plane they finally built was not only displayed at the Highland Games on Bute, it was also a key attraction on Rothesay’s Esplanade for most of that summer. Later that year it was towed away to a farm at Cranslagvourity in preparation for the trial flight nearby on the sands of Ettrick Bay. Most unfortunately the sands of Ettrick Bay did not provide a good enough surface for the trials but the plane did rise, though briefly.
            Baird’s fascination with flight was typical of the time, but few had his drive and technical skills to turn their interest into reality.

                                                                The 'Mascot'!

Thursday, 8 September 2011


I haven't posted recently because I've been busy writing (among other things)! The first draft of The Lost of Paradise is finished and the serious work of re-writing,editing, managing the ins and outs of the plot and keeping the charaters under control now begins.

An e-mail came yesterday to say Last Ferry to Bute is ready,so the next couple of weeks will be busy.
However,stormy weather here in the West yesterday reminded me of the storms on Bute that strand Alison Cameron on the island in one of the chapters of Last Ferry to Bute, so I thought I'd put up some photos. The sun doesn't always shine on Bute - just most of the time.

The photos were taken by a friend, Ann Coll, during the last big storm on Bute.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Last Ferry to Bute has left

Last Ferry to Bute is now in the hands of the publisher and all being well should be out by the end of September.There's a sense of relief,but also a bit of sadness, at letting a new novel go. Possibly that's because I now have to start on the next one. I have the title Last Dance at the Rothesay Pavilion and most of the plot. All I have to do now is write it!
But first I have to re-visit The Lost of Paradise which was runner-up for the Constable prize at the S.A.W. in March. With almost 60000 words written,I've promised it will be with my editor by October. However since I haven't looked at it in a while I may have to remind myself about what's happening before I continue.
It would be good if there were 48 hours in each day!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Last Ferry to Bute

I hope you'll agree the cover photo is very atmospheric!

Text proof reading

The text proof of  'Last Ferry to Bute' has arrived. I'd rather not go through it as instead of searching for errors,misspellings and punctuation problems I'm thinking of re-writing chunks of it. If I do that,I'll never finish it. And already the plot of the next one is playing in my head, much of which came to me on my latest trip to the island.
I've come to the conclusion I'm not good at juggling several stories at once if I want to complete any of them.Or is that an excuse for doing less than I should?
At least I'm very happy with the photo for the cover of the book, taken by one of the Bute fishermen very early one December morning (long before I would have been up). I'm really pleased he has allowed me to use it.
Ah well, back to work!

Saturday, 16 July 2011


Now I'm faced with the problem of what next?
The novel I've almost finished, the short stories half edited, the ideas not yet brought to birth...or perhaps I should just have a holiday?

Thursday, 14 July 2011


'Last Ferry to Bute' is off at last. Trouble is you can go on tinkering with it for ever and already new characters are crowding in demanding to be heard.
A brief respite is called for - preferably with good weather.
Good luck to all those still working away!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Does anyone like re-drafting and editing? I've completed all the edits suggested for 'Last Ferry to Bute' by my editor and yet... and yet... I keep thinking of ways to change the plot,alter the chapters,add to the characters. The proof reader is going through the text at the moment so I dare say I'm not finished with it,but perhaps I need to let it go.

Monday, 23 May 2011


I don't know if that's the right term for uploading to Kindle but I've just uploaded a trio of science fiction stories called 'From Mars to Earth.'
As a recent 'convert' to the Kindle I must confess I do like it very much,though I see it as an additional way of enjoying reading,rather than an alternative.
I'm a great fan of science fiction and have been since childhood and am fascinated by the possibility of extra terrestial life. Is there anybody (or anything) out there?

Back to work

Working through the edits for 'Last Ferry to Bute' after a meeting last week with my editor but glad I don't have to try to get on or off the island today in these gale force winds!
There is an episode in the novel when Alison (the main character) is trapped on the island because of a storm. I prefer my stormy weather to be fictional.

Thursday, 5 May 2011


Rosemary Gemmell,writing as Romy Gemmell,is having a cyber book launch of her novel 'Dangerous Deceit.'
Visit her at to join in the fun,including a recipe for seed cake ...and one for punch!
If you're not already a fan of Regency novels, I'm sure you will be after a visit to Romy's blogspot.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Real or Imaginary?

I like using a mix of real places and imaginary ones in my writing,but that means keeping up to date with changes.
The Post Office at Port Bannatyne, mentioned in 'The House at Ettrick Bay', has undergone a transformation and lends a very continental atmosphere to the  village. Here's hoping the summer is a good one!

The Post Office before

                                            The Post Office -contintental style!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

An outing to Bute

Back from a trip to the Isle of Bute, though the weather wasn't quite as good as in this picture!
My work in progress 'Last Ferry to Bute' is set on the island as is the current novel 'The House at Ettrick Bay'.
Although it takes no more than an hour and a half to travel to Bute from Glasgow, the short ferry trip transports you to a much calmer world.
Bute was a favourite place for the wealthy Victorians to build their summer houses : many grand houses still remain,often divided into more manageable flats. And for the less wealthy, Bute offered the all the delights of the seaside, with many rooms available for rent during the holiday season.
Today the island offers beautiful beaches, excellent walking and sailing and golf : though the golf courses are not for the fainthearted!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Do characters disappear when we're not thinking or writing about them? Or is there some parallel universe where they exist independently?
The latter seems to be more and more likely -how often do writers have to rein in  their characters to make them behave!
And what about those who suddenly appear 'onstage' and have to be very firmly bundled off?
You can tell I'm having trouble and the trouble is with the villain in my new novel who simply won't show any signs of repentance - not at all what I want from him. I'm afraid to leave him on his own in case I come back to find he's caused more problems for the heroine.
The novel is called 'The Lost of Paradise' - a nod to John Milton's  'Paradise Lost' - and I now realise the problem he had when he wrote it. He worried that the Devil was the most attractive character.
What is it about villians?