2017 – A Year In Review

As we come close to the end of 2017, I thought I would share some of my writing-related highlights in what has been a busy and eventful year. I hope your year has been a good one too, and I love reading about what everyone is up to.

In February I was lucky enough to visit Ruth Bennett at Stripes Publishing and have a tour of the offices, finished off by a chat about my upper Middle Grade book, Sunk!, which I was editing at the time. She was lovely and encouraging, and I was in my element surrounded by all those books and the whole publishing process.

This was followed in March by the annual Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference at the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld, which I attend with a contingent of Angus Writers’ Circle friends, and which is always a high point of my writing year. Thankfully I kept up my record of being placed in their competitions this year too.

Each month I also attended my SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) YA critique group in Edinburgh, as well as a number of  fab SCBWI workshops and seminars throughout the year. A major highlight however, had to be getting asked to become the joint co-ordinator for the South East Scotland network with the wonderful Sarah Broadley ( @sarahpbroadley ) and we’re really excited about all the plans we have lined up for the coming year.

August of course brings the Edinburgh International Book Festival and all the amazingness that entails, and I was lucky enough to manage to get through for quite a few different events this year.

Then September was a notable month for two fantastic reasons. The first of these was the official launch of our Chasing Time Writing Retreats with our inaugural retreat taking place over the last weekend of the month, which saw all of our plans and hopes come to fruition. It’s fantastic working with two such lovely fellow writers and hopefully in 2018 we’ll go from strength to strength. Our next retreat in February is already down to only one remaining space, which is so encouraging. Watch this space for further writers’  services and offerings coming soon…

It’s also gratifying that we’re starting to have our work recognised, especially Sandra‘s shortlisting for the Saltire Society Literary Awards First Book of the Year with #BeneathTheSkin and Dawn’s many journalistic achievements, as well as her signing up with a literary agent for her YA novel, which is currently out on submission. For myself, I am beyond thrilled that my own YA manuscript has been longlisted in The Bath Children’s Novel Award, and I have less than a week now to find out if it’s made the shortlist – eek!!

The other brilliant thing that happened in September was a Bronte field trip with three of my fellow ‘Novellers’ (we meet most months and exchange chapters and feedback for our current works in progress) to Haworth, where we were each lucky enough to write a line of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights as part of artist Clare Twomey’s ( @CTwomeyStudio ) project to re-create the long lost manuscript.

Rounding off the year was a visit to Aberdeen for the launch of Granite Noir with a poisoned cocktail party – never trust writers!

Who knows what 2018 will bring, but I’m off to make some writing goals/resolutions (including blogging more regularly and updating my Goodreads page more often, as well as tackling a whole new manuscript, which is only at the very faint general idea stage in my mind at present). I hope you all have a happy, healthy and successful year and wish you all the best with your own writing goals.

 

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‘Hasten Spring’

Here’s my own cheeky little entry, which I thought I would squeeze in before tomorrow evening’s deadline.  Keats it certainly isn’t! 🙂   Still, it’s just a bit of fun, so hope it at least provides a temporary distraction from all the bad weather… (and I love the picture!)

spring bud

HASTEN SPRING

Halloween is in October,
Thanksgiving’s the next month,
then it’s Christmas in December,
families and turkey lunch.

But January has nothing
bar cold wind, ice and snow.
Amid bleak winter, hasten Spring,
help us and nature grow.

‘Mid-winter’ by Jan Strickland

I am very happy to welcome back Jan with her take on the writing prompt of ‘in the bleak mid-winter’.  It is perhaps a less literal take on the theme, but one that works equally as well and has a glimmer of hope at the end.  Thank you Jan for taking part once again.

barn

Clutching her little, well-loved Teddy bear that she had been given for her 3rd birthday, 7 year old Tracy hid beneath the sacking in the barn.

It was cold, mid-winter, but at least she was out of the biting wind and lashing rain.

“We will be fine here Toby until the morning, then we can creep out of the village;they won’t know where we are until later. After all, the party will go on late and they will be too smashed to notice I’ve gone. Sorry Toby, they won’t notice WE have gone.”

Toby seemed to nod sagely, his glass eyes staring blankly at her.

“Why do you think they don’t love me Toby? I love them, even when they yell at each other. Is it something I’ve done do you think?”

She snuggled down and tried to sleep, clutching her beloved bear. The rain beat down on the corrugated roof, the sound eventually helped her to drift off to sleep.

Tracy woke up to the sound of sirens, and people calling out her name.

“Oh, thank the Lord, Bob, she’s in here. Tracy why did you run away? We were frantic with worry.”

Tracy looked up solemnly at her mother and a large solitary tear escaped and trickled down her cheek. “Mummy, you and Daddy are always fighting and yelling at each other, and it’s all my fault.”

“No, oh no it’s not your fault darling. Daddy and l have been having a few problems, but we are trying to work things out and it’s nothing to do with you, I promise. Please pet, don’t worry us by running away again, we both love you so much.”

At that she swept her Daughter up in her arms and carried her to the waiting car.

 

 

(c) Jan Strickland

 

‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ by lassfromlancashire

I am very pleased to share with you the first entry for this month’s mini competition, which I think has addressed the writing prompt perfectly!  Thank you and welcome back to lassfromlancashire.

winter tree

lassfromlancashire says:

In the bleak midwinter
Friends are apt to moan
“My fingertips are frozen
My feet feel like a stone
Snow and hail are falling fast
Snow piles up on snow
If only it would melt away
If only it would go!”

“Come now, Winter’s not so bad
And if you wrap up warm,
A good thick coat and woolly scarf
Will shield you from the storm.
Come out and see the lovely trees
All decked out in snow
The skaters and the sledges
See how swift they go.”

Winter can be beautiful
Don’t sit at home and sigh
A Winter Wonderland awaits
Come out, you’ll soon see why!

(c) Esme

 

‘Love At First Sight’ by lassfromlancashire

boy on bike

I’m happy to share an entry from a regular contributor to the mini monthly competitions, with a charming take on the theme of ‘love at first sight’. Thank you lassfromlancashire for taking part again this month and for the link to your entry. 🙂

lassfromlancashire says:

March 19, 2014

http://scortonwriter.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/love-at-first-sight
here’s my entry for the March mini competition

Voyage from Famine to Adventure by Maryann Holloway

A warm welcome back to Maryann Holloway with another interesting historical piece for the writing prompt of ‘If Things Had Been Different‘. Click the link to her blog to see some wonderful accompanying illustrations (one of which I have borrowed below 🙂 )

dunbrody

Maryann Holloway says:

January 8, 2014

Great prompt for January. Here is my entry. I hope you enjoy it. http://mholloway63.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/voyage-from-famine-to-adventure/

A Writing Challenge For You…….

So, at my writing class this week we were set homework to write a piece of prose or poetry without using any words beginning or ending in ‘s’.  Easy, right?! 🙂 

My thinking was to keep it short so here is my (admittedly rather facile) attempt.

pregnancy test

A gasp from the girl

A moan from the boy

A feeling of panic

And not one of joy

 

He barely a man

And Meg younger yet

A moment of passion

A life of regret

Please feel free to join in with your own interpretations.  It certainly makes you more conscious of the language that you use and I found it an interesting exercise.

It’s that time again…

I’ve enjoyed reading the entries again this month and now it’s over to you. Please vote for your favourite between now and the end of the month and the winner will set the next writing prompt. Happy reading! 🙂

Call for Submissions

Do you have a childhood memory you would like to share? Or perhaps a fictional piece rooted in childhood? If so I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to enter the August mini writing competition for a piece of poetry or flash fiction on this month’s writing prompt.

This month my entry is a poem entitled ‘Clocks’, a piece that brought back memories of when the whole world was full of potential and I only had to wish for it….

Dandelion_sun

CLOCKS

They float soundlessly through air,
invisible threads, strands of dreams
which, they say, make wishes come true.

Drifting on summer breeze
these ‘fairies’ glide by,
occasionally coming to rest,
tangled in undergrowth.

As children they hold mystical charm;
are things to wonder at,
representing hope.
But they also hold the key
to the passage of time,
so we are taught.

Is it merely the strength
of our lungs,
or is there more at work
when the magic
of children’s breath
disperse these filaments;
the number of which determine the hour?

And so time passes,
these clocks are forgotten
we gradually start to bow to
more organised schedules:
Childhood philosophy drowned
in a sea of adulthood,
of life, of responsibility.

Until the next generation
revives the magic for us once again.

FIRST LIGHT

The following was inspired by a particularly hazy morning over the River Tay on my drive into work one morning last year.

FIRST LIGHT

sunrise with trees

Haze descends to meet the lake
as full moon clings on to morn
A latent thief
outstaying her welcome
Tenacious and unashamed
it mocks the weak daylight
penetrating the sky

The dawn is drowsy
A stranger
Meek
Cowed by lunar supremacy
Ashamed to conquer the sky

Silently watching,
the lake glistens
Stretches up
to cushion the falling mist
And calmly reflects
the subdued conflict above