Monday, 31 July 2017

Off the radar

Apologies for the lack of response to your comments recently – internet access is very limited in the Outer Hebrides. We're managing to find things to do offline though!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


Another Scottish word I've learned on my travels is smirs, which was taught to me by Dawn Brown (who also introduced me to some jolly good home baking). According to the dictionary, smir (or smirs, or even smirrs) is a form of light drizzle. Dawn tells me 'it's down from dreich, but up from scotch mist'.

It was smirring when we visited Crichton Castle. After it had smirred, the sun came out for us at Melrose Abbey.

Friday, 21 July 2017

The heat is on

This competition is for a piece of 'women's fiction' up to 2,500 words. Apparently this is 'the ultimate literary challenge'.

The prize is a mentoring session with Paige Toon and publication of your short story as an ebook, for which you might earn royalties.

I say 'might' not because I think the publishers won't honour that part of the deal, but simply because I'm uncertain that people will buy a single short story for £1.99. That seems a bit steep to me. Or maybe I'm under valuing my own short story collections? They're on offer at £1.99 too, but there are at least 24 stories in each.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


I've been adding a few Scottish words to my vocabulary during my travels. I was introduced to guddle by Rosemary Gemmell. In the context she used it, guddle means a mess (as in an untidy room – and no she wasn't describing the interior of our van!) and/or a complex and confusing situation.

guddle is also a type of fish which can be caught by guddling. The guddling is done with bare hands so quite messy and the word apparently derives from making a mess around water – which is handy for me, as I've recently taken photos of various watery subjects in Scotland.

Monday, 17 July 2017


No, I'm not suggesting you give up writing. Quite the opposite.

This competition has a writing retreat in Dorset as its prize. Just imagine a few days away with nothing to do but write. If you won that, you'd have time to write something you could submit for this competition.

Ah. Anyway, here's a photo of my mobile writing retreat. Aren't I lucky?

Friday, 14 July 2017

A freebie

My short story collection, Up The Garden Path is currently FREE!

If you enjoy it, please do leave a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017


An undertow is a current, below the surface of the sea, which is moving in a different direction to that of the surface current.

Today is our fith wedding anniversary – and the sixth anniversary of the day Gary proposed to me at sea. It happened just about here.

Feel free to complain about that news not being current, or suggest I've had him under tow ever since.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Tangling with Scott

Here's another of the places we've visited on our trip which has a literary connection. Dryburgh Abbey is the final resting place of Sir Walter Scott.

His tomb is behind the red and white sign on the right in this photo. (The other is for Field Marshall Douglas Haig.)

Scott wrote the lines "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" I wonder if he was thinking about plotting his novels at the time? I certainly manage to get some of my outlines into tangled webs.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Waiting impatiently

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group time again. Do sign up for the group if you're an insecure writer (which I reckon is just about every writer for at least some of the time).

Just sending off a piece of writing gives us plenty of 'opportunities' for insecurity. Did we follow all the guidelines or competition rules? Have we correctly interpreted the requirements? Is the formatting right?

If there's no immediate acknowledgement we worry it hasn't arrived. Then we convince ourselves it has and whoever is reading it hates it. After a while we start to wonder if the reply got lost. Should we chase up a response?

How do you distract yourself from worrying about your submitted work?

What do you do if replies don't come – and how soon do you do it?

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

A good excuse?

I've been posting some of my travel pictures on Facebook, but there's a literary connection with these, so I think it's fair enough to put them on the blog ...

This is a statue of William Wallace. The words on the statue's base (which admittedly you can't see) are by the poet James Thomson. There's also a poem about Wallace, by The Earl of Buchann, on the urn.

Further down the hill ( a lot further and it's a steep hill, especially going back up) is a temple of the muses, which the Earl built as a memorial to Thomson.

You might be thinking you've never come across James Thomson's work – unless you already knew he wrote the words to Rule Brittannia.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Limericks in limerick

The Limerick literary festival will include a limerick competition. There's a €500 prize and it's free to enter. The 'rules and guidlines' contain useful information about the structure of a limerick and tips on crafting a good one.

The only very slight snag is that to compete in the final, you'll have to go to Limerick.  

I'm not suggesting that going to Limerick is in any way a bad thing, but the date might not be convenient for everyone. I'll be elsewhere at the time myself, so can't enter. That's a pity, because I've already made a start. Perhaps you'd like to help me finish it?

There was an odd writer with a campervan
Whose poems hardly ever properly scan