Sunday, December 8, 2013


It was a salutary jolt to read my self description, penned less than three years ago, as a writer with few as few possessions as possible.
Now, taking stock, I realise I am surrounded - indeed weighed down by an accumulation of possessions. Whilst still much less than most Westerners, compared to my neighbours, it is a veritable  Aladdin's cave of stuff, stuffed into my wee river cottage.

So, clear out time. And good timing ~ New Year coming up. And Tet.

Computer, yes, iPad likewise. Phone yes. But what about all those leads? That tangle of wires belong to something or other like perhaps an internet thingy? Or is it a modern thingy? Or are they the same thing? Or thingy? And I just know that if I chuck them out, one will be an essential thingy unobtainable in Vietnam. Or even obsolete altogether but essential for .... something or other.

Motorbike, essential. But those spare helmets that are either too heavy or the visor is impossible to see through at night or the strap hurts, but other than that are fine? And those half tins/bottles/jam jars of oil? And the straps, chords, bags, and wee bits of string to tie something or other to the handlebars? then there is the rain trousers, the summer weight, the winter weight, the in-between weight? And four rain capes? Hmmm.

Furniture? too much. Chairs? too many. Rugs? Too many? ~ Nah, can never have too many kilims.

Clothing? Clothing ~ far, far too much. Shoes the same, far far too many pairs for a place like Vietnam. I mean what with riding a motorbike, tramping along unpaved roads, wading through mud, sand and the occasional flood all I really need are the Crocs. Shock horror, I who took taxis in London to preserve my green suede  Manolo's now wear Crocs. Sad sad day.

But some garments are a memory of dancing, and laughter, and journeys, and Hugh.

What to do? What to do? I know, forget about it and keep writing.

Aa' the best.

PS Buddha stays.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Valentine's Day - 22nd November

1950s Valentine Card

There was a scene in a recent episode of
Downton Abbey where Valentine cards, sent and received, were the subject of much heartache between the valets and the kitchen maids. I know the feeling.

Awaiting notes from my editor is like that - never knowing if you will receive the card (email) of approval, of love. It is a Valentine's days of joy when she likes the book.
 "I really like this book" --sends me into an adolescent fervour of gratitude and relief and sheer joy that the past six to seven months of concentration, frustration, misery and elation have all come together to produce a book that has my editor's approval.
 I've say this often, and it does not lose it's aptness, but if one was not bi-polar before becoming an author, then it is certainly a condition you becomes familiar with.

Of course there is much more to do to make this manuscript sing.
Naturally there are parts that need amplifying, parts need cutting, and the beginning and end are rushed and need slowing down or further explained; but overall, the story works.
Now I can sleep. Then wake up and work steadily through the manuscript, a chapter at a time and with a deadline to meet.
Then it is off to the copy editor for another go. Then a final printers proof. Then, then, the next one, book 6 in the series.
Can't wait.

Aa' the best.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Walking Back to Happiness

Walking Back to Happiness - Helen Shapiro version - I know, I know, that really dates me. then again, I'm proud to be a still strong older woman. Beats the alternative.

So, to return to the subject - walking. Now my formative walking years were tramping the mountains and glens of the Scottish Highlands, particularly the Grampians above Aviemore. Then there were the hill climbs on a Munro or three, trudging up the steeps slopes above Lochaber or Ullapool or Applecross. Magical walks everyone.

 But now, in the city, with the weather turned to cool autumn early winter, it is the city streets that I walk. Or to attempt to walk, dodging traffic, stumbling over street stalls, stopping for tea, or a shoeshine, or just a chat. All year round, social life, family life, is conducted on pavements in Hanoi.
I sat on a plastic stool with my friend Cuong recently. We caught up on the well-being of our families, we drank fresh fruit juice, we had our shoes shined. With only Vietnamese sitting, drinking, chatting, we watched the backpackers with their overweight rucksacks, determinedly purposeful, hurrying to somewhere, a place between pages in a guidebook, never looking to left, or right, or up, or down, missing the cafe with the wee plastic stools, and me, and Cuong, and our companions. 
Good to be so invisible.

Hanoi Old Quarter

Then there are the lakes. Right in the heart of the city is the legendary Hoan Kiem lake. When we first arrived in Hanoi we lived about 100 metres from here. Early morning walks, six am circumnavigating the lake dodging the locals doing Tai Chi, Calisthenics, stretches, or badminton, stumbling over tree roots, and in the early morning quiet breathing in the mist and freshness - magic. Evenings, sitting on benches, eating ice-cream, chatting watching enjoying, quickly it became clear to us strangers that this was the spiritual heart, the soul of the city. And not much has changed in the fifteen and a half years since I first walked around it. More traffic for sure, but the sense of its soul? Same as ever.

Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi.

There is sure to be someone out there, don't know because I didn't Google it, who has written a book, a tract, maybe a PHD thesis, on the Art of Walking. Walking in the Moment? Walking therapy? Zen Walking? Power Walking? Me, I'll take -

Walking back to Happiness...Oom Pa Oh Yea Yea...

Thanks Helen Shapiro.
PS Loved the Big Hair.

Aa' the best.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Kindness of Friends - old and new.

Kindness - it seems such a lightweight word to use for the deep and soul-strengthening love and warmth I've been experiencing this last week; from friends, from acquaintances, from  strangers these last weeks have been a lesson in love and letting go of former loves.

Perhaps it is the lot of writers, those that are deeply interested in people and in making connection with others that we feel keenly. Or is perhaps feel too keenly but then stand back and use the observations as material. Writers as psychic vampires? Hmmm, a little close to the bone that one.

So, kindness, or at least one story out of the multiple kindnesses shown to me these past days.

First, Tram Meo, a beautiful young woman, said, "Come to my garden house. Meet my mother and grandmother. It's in the countryside, not far."

We set off midmorning on a radiant Hanoi autumn day. For once the pollution had lessened and a weak sun was shining through the tall trees lining the streets of the French Quarter. In golden light, the old French era villas and the packed chaotic shop-fronts, set in what were the gardens, seemed like a setting for an art film.

Out through the suburbs, past the frantic building sites of the expanding capital, out over the new bridges spanning the Red River, our taxi bobbed in the flotsam of new cars, ancient trucks, swarms of motorbikes, and southwards we drove. After turning west, within five hundred metres we were back in real rural Vietnam. Another fifteen minutes, a left turn and we were in a village in timeless Vietnam.

Along narrow alleyways lined with high brick walls, at the end of a short steep drive to a garden compound set below a high wooded hillside with an enormous Buddha atop, we stopped. A few steps through high gates and we were into a garden courtyard. And into paradise. And there, for a too short day, in the company of four generations of women - Tram Meo, her daughter, her mother, her grandmother, and with Tu Huong, an artist friend and neighbour, I reconnected with nature, with kindness, and with the old Vietnam, the Vietnam that keeps me here.

Over a lunch of simple traditional food, the ingredients from the garden, the conversation was in three languages, all spoken badly, all said with such sincerity it didn't matter. Tram sometimes translated but often we all juggled sentences between English, French and Vietnamese.
"Excusey-moi, Chi ting Viet, a little." And for emphases, gestures and laughter and smiles.

And at that table, in the golden light penetrating the fruit trees, the tall hardwood trees, shining on the terracotta tiles, with the old timbers of the traditional wooden house radiating warmth, a magic spell overtook us and out hearts opened and out friendships were formed.
We spoke of loss - the recent loss of Tram's father, the four years since loss of my husband. We spoke of our work - their art, my writing. We spoke of the pain of separation, fears for our children and again we spoke of art, of painting, of painting with brushes, of painting with words, of making pictures in lacquer - Huong is one of the foremost lacquer artists in the country - and then it was mid afternoon and still we were spellbound by the light and the place and the love. Yes, love. Total strangers, yet a connection as deep as the history of this country held us in an enchantment that will never leave me.

And there was more to come. "Please visit my garden studio," Huong said.

So once again in the little taxi, we set off, Tram, her mother, Huong and myself. Huong and I are of the same generation. As an artist, she has a dedication that astounds me. Abandoning her comfortable city life she lives simply, and she sits and breathes in her garden - a wild garden, a garden with a mind of it's own, and she draws, she paints, exquisite art that collectors vie for.
And she sells as little as possible. When she needs money to live she will reluctantly let an art gallery takes a few pieces. And when she receives a grand commission for a lacquer piece ( which can take a year to execute) she works at it, puts everything into it, but she prefers to just sit, observe the sun and the rain and the seasons of the  flowers.

Huong wanted to give me a painting. I was so surprised. So thrilled. And I accepted.
There was no feeling of, "No I couldn't possibly..." Such a silly, false convention to employ when a gift is given freely, in friendship. "It is better to give than receive" Come on! How can you give when the person will not receive with joy and true gratitude?

This work, on mulberry paper, is a more a meditation than a painting. The flowers seem suspended in a veil of early morning mist. They shimmer in an almost abstract dance. There are strokes in charcoal, blushes of colour in paint, and a top finish of white hand ground seashells normally used in lacquer works. the whole is translucent. And spare. The flowers on first look are flowers, then butterflies, then spirits; the spirit of the artist, the spirits of women, the spirit of my beloved Vietnam.

Thank you Tram Meo. Thank you Dang Tu Huong. Thank you Tran's mum, grandmother, daughter. Indomitable spirits all.

Monday, November 4, 2013

I am so overcome with grief I have run away to the city to be with friends, to have massages, haircut, do a yoga class, cycle around the lake, go to art galleries, to concerts - live the big city life.

Something, anything, is vital to distract from the depression that overwhelms me when I finish a manuscript. The end of 6 months of intense concentration, 6 months of living and breathing and dreaming the story arrives and although I know the condition and try to be careful, this time, more than most, I am shattered.

When writing a series the characters stay with you. They change, they develop, in the way friendships do. So saying farewell, even to characters that appear for just one book, hurts. Killing anyone off, even a baddie, hurts.

On this new book, The Low Road, writing the penultimate chapter, work that would normally take 3 or 4 days, took two weeks; not because I didn't know how it would all end, but because I couldn't bring myself to go there, to be there, in that place, in that scene. Dredging up the images was vivid and real and terrifying. I was crying as I typed, tears dropping into the keyboard. And I am the person who creates this. So how come?

When I hit the send button and the script left for the USA, the first two days were exhilarating. There comes a huge sense of "I've done it!" Then came the loss. Loss of routine. Loss of daily conversations with my dear friends on the Highland Gazette, friends from the town, the glens, friends met, friends yet to meet. The song says "The hills are alive..." For me, the glens are alive. Alive with stories.

This all coincided with the loss of real friends - or perhaps not. Certainly the loss of an old friendship. But if a friend cannot understand how fragile one is when writing, how temporarily neglectful of friends in the realm of this world, then there is nothing I can explain. Conversations with other writers, with artists, with composers, reminds me that this is the price one sometimes pays.

I understand Virginia Woolf. The idea of walking into a river seems an option.
But thankfully, with a huge mental effort, and the love of real friends, it dissipates.
So with love, and meditation, and massage, and sleep, you slowly recover.

Until next time.

Aa' the best.

Saturday, August 17, 2013



First draft to finished book

The first draft of book 5 in the Highland Gazette series is almost done, and publication of book 4, North Sea Requiem is three weeks away. The two events may even co-incide if I give up my almost non-existent social life.

Lead-in time from writing a novel to publication is long. To produce a book per year is a, necessarily, disciplined process - else you go doolally. I compare it to a pregnancy (when you can go doolally also) which medically is described in three trimesters. My writer's journey goes like this:

First three months of a calendar year is taken up with checking proofs and corrections of last year's book. Plus new book percolating. 

Next three months, first draft of new book (which may contain what you detailed in the synopsis --or not) and a traumatic, sleepless, process that can be. Wrestling with the demons of insecurity, tears dripping into the keyboard over the traumatic bits,  moments of utter joy, having your characters take over your life, neglecting friends and health in the real world, all of that and more is the lot of an author.
Then revise, edit, revise, edit until you can't stand the sight of the thing and send it of to the editor (who is a saint). If you had a propensity towards bi-polar disorder before becoming a writer, then writing the first draft of a book will be all too familiar.

Second draft; the manuscript comes back with a few pages of notes and comments marked up chapter by chapter. You despair. A few days pass. A few red wines are consumed. You re-read the notes. Ha! you didn't see the notes of encouragement --all you saw were the negatives, the quiet suggestions as to where it wasn't quite working. You sit down, go through the marked manuscript steadily, patiently, get to the end and another read-through from the editor. This can take three months, but hopefully less.

The final draft; time to let the sunshine in, a time to read the words aloud, to hear it, to smell it, to polish. And if you are very lucky, it sings to you - in parts.

Then it's off to the copy editor. The manuscript comes back, and again, time to work methodically, trying not to be too harsh,  because by this time it is mostly too late for big changes and by this time you are sick of the whole thing, and all you can see are the faults. But this makes you vow to do better  next time. And you start all over again!

When about to embark on the next book - mostly because you want to know what is happening in the community you created, and because to produce a better book than the last one, you forget the pain of producing the previous adventure -- much like giving birth.

So that is my year. And hopefully the next, and the next...

Aa' the best.

PS Watch out for North Sea Requiem from 3rd September available in the USA and Canada in multiple bookstores and online, the rest of the world via ebooks and online. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Halfway there

Sun is shining,
Weather is sweet...
...come to the rescue...

So said the great Bob Marley. And so say I.
How to write when the weather is perfect, the sea also, when swimming in the early morning, the ocean flat calm, the fishing boats dotting the horizon, the Cham Islands clear, on that long stretch of sand that is a short stroll from my's torture!

Then again, swimming and aqua aerobics, yoga, tai chi, anything that stretches the spine is essential to someone who spends hours crouched over a keyboard.

And the weather is affecting the book. Somehow, I've conjured up those few perfect summers in the Highlands when the novelty of heat remain etched into my brain. From this distance, cynicism reminds me that they were probably only days at a time, or hours. Perhaps a few days 'between weathers' as they say in Shetland, but there were days of perfect beauty.

The main difference between then and now, here and there, is in the sea temperature. Swimming in the North Sea is a form of masochism only attempted by the foolhardy and children. Here it is a balmy 26C.  There -- I shudder to think. Blue feet after a short paddle is what I recall from the summer of 2011 when I ventured ankle deep into the Moray Firth.

And yes, I'm halfway there - 44,861 words. Phew!

Aa' the best.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thoughts at 3.27 am

Yes, 3.27 AM.

When in the midst - or at least 40,764 words into a new manuscript, I reach the point when I am consumed, inhabited, overwhelmed, totally in the clutches of the muse.
Now we all have a muse --mine is an oh-so-cynical- Scotsman, who says, "Is that it?"Often.
But at 3.27?

Nothing for it but to get up, make a cup of tea, (toast and marmalade helps too - fooling the body into thinking it's breakfast time) then write down the thoughts.
Problem is between the making of the tea, and writing down the idea, you've forgotten what brilliant notion awoke you. So better to write first, then make the tea.
Problem with that is, in the morning, 6.03AM, you can't read the hen's scrawl that is 3.27AM writing.

Next joy at being at 40,764 words. The Doldrums.
An Aside: I remember learning about the Doldrums in geography - or was it history? Probably both as the history of world exploration was dictated by the wind and being stuck in the Doldrums stopped many a sailing ship - before and after Columbus- from reaching parts unknown.

The Doldrums is the place where a writer can become stuck in what is technically known as "the soggy middle". This Wednesday past, stuck, about to waffle on in the hope the characters might point me to something exciting, I thought I might re-read the original outline - the one usually  abandoned when the story takes on it's own momentum.
So I did. Then shouted at myself, "The idea you wrote six months back is perfect."

That should teach me to re-read synopsis, scribbled notes, voice memos on my phone, the backs of envelopes, the  phrase written in lipstick on the inside of a diary no other writing implement being at hand. I mean, what's the point of making notes if you never read them later?

Here endeth the lesson to self (and anyone else who does the same)

Aa' the best.

Monday, July 1, 2013 what you write, write what you love.

"Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.    ~ Ray Bradbury

Recently, at a literary night in Bar Luna, in Ubud, Bali, I was the guest speaker. The 

 This is the hardest lesson --to love what I write. To love what I do is easy. But that voice of self- doubt, or the voice of John Knox or whatever deity bewitches or curses us Celts, is loud and clear.

My school reports - all those "could do better" remarks --how do the teachers decide you could do better when you wrote your heart out,  thinking your 'composition' (the word for essay in my day) was pretty good. Over imaginative perhaps, but that was what writing was about, so I thought, making up stories  that were weird and wonderful and nothing like ordinary life. 

So there was seldom a - well done, seldom a nice wee tick, or a gold star as later became the fashion, for my stories. A miserly 'B or 'A-'  was the best I could hope for in English composition.

Maybe it was a nineteen-fifties thing; an 'A' would swell a child's brain. To give praise  was probably an infringement of some educational theory taught in pre WW11 teacher training colleges. 
To punish, to instil fear, through liberal use of the belt - a length of extremely hard leather - that was thought to be the way to educate children aged five and upwards.

I remember clearly being taken from my classroom - I must have been about 8 - to help calm down my sister who would have been 6. She had to be punished, I was told, and she wouldn't hold out her hand to be hit with this medieval instrument of pain.  I was supposed to tell her "it was for her own good." All I can remember is being equally terrified and saying, "You'll have to ask my Mum."
What happened after that I don't recall but if it didn't scar my sister for life, it certainly scarred me.  

interlocutor, a wonderful writer and woman, Cat Wheeler, asked why my books are based in the nineteen fifties. I can't recall exactly what I said. It was a light, fun evening. I certainly didn't relate the story of my sister.
Maybe I should have, because a partial answer is, "Nothing since has been as cruel as some of the events of my childhood." 

The 1950s: the crucible of us baby-boomers; corporal punishment, polio, rationing, the fear of nuclear war. And as the decade ran out towards the sixties, television, and telephones in the home - if you could afford them - Elvis on the wireless, occasionally clothes bought in shops and not made by your mother or granny, holidays further than Nairn 17 miles away, all signs of changing times. 

And a never to be forgotten change in my worldview was a book,  borrowed from the library inadvertently, and probably because it had a lurid cover, the "The Martian Chronicles". 
Ray Bradbury changed my life; he showed me that in your imagination, anything is possible. Even other worlds. Worlds outside of the Highlands of Scotland. 

And that led me to Iain M Banks. A worthwhile man is ever there was one. And sorely missed.

Aa' the best.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A writer writes - no matter what.

I came to Ubud in Bali to write - that and escape the heat of my hometown.

And write I did--storming my way into the manuscript, in the zone, pleased with what was coming out through my fingertips. Then the house I was renting was burgled; computer, iPad, camera, all gone.
Sure I'd backed up --bless you iCloud. Sure, I'm insured. But that was not what made me pause (word used advisedly - stop more appropriate but I'm Scottish, so superstitious); it was the sense of violation.

Now Ubud is a good place to confront your fears so, off I went and did Qi Gong, Healing Sound Meditation, Poetry Night at Bar Luna, hung out in coffeshops and bars and went shopping -- there are more distractions here than you can poke a stick at. But I avoided anything with the word Tantric in the title --you'll never get me bending over backwards to please anyone, especially in Ubud where bending over backwards is the done thing. Literally.

All the posters for workshops with beautiful people in preposterous poses reminds me of a Glaswegian friend I had in the sixties, Sadie was her name. She was describing one man who thought himself a particularly cool dude. He taught spiritual tantric sex. He was trying to recruit her. She turned her back on him and said loud enough for him to hear...cue in a stunning blonde with a strong Glasgow accent ... "See him? He's so laid back he can lick his ain arse."

Right, the manuscript.  I tried writing by hand - you know, pen, pencil, paper --remember? But something odd happened. Firstly I couldn't always read my own writing it has been so long since I've done a sustained piece of writing by hand.
But that was not the real revelation; in writing by hand the work changed. Majorly changed. Became more literary. Good writing, pleasing writing, just not what I'm being paid to do. Not what my contract says. Not what my readers expect from me. Not me at all at all. Or is it?

Deep within ourselves we wish to be better writers or else we'd never do it again. After the first book, we know what it takes. We know the hours of staring at a blank screen at the wall, we know the loneliness the fear, the back pain the stress.
For a woman it can be like giving birth in that the resulting child makes you forget the childbirth experience. Or is it some cunning evolutionary process that temporarily wipes out the memory of the pain?
And you do it again. Then again. Each time hoping that it will be better than the last --a better book, not a better child -- although that thought too can occasionally surface.

But this? These sentences, these paragraphs, flowing out in lovely ink on a French notebook? This stuff is more poetry than genre fiction. And poetry doesn't sell. And I need to earn my living. And the style, so different, doesn't fit the previous computer written part of the manuscript.
But it's writing. Perhaps it will become my secret writing. My personal literary porn. Whatever it is, it is writing. It leads to the Zen like thought that if I stop writing am I am no longer a writer? I like being a writer. I like being able to say I am a writer. A published author.

So I'm packing up the new computer and heading for the hills where hopefully there is no yoga, no Qi Gong, no Sound medicine other than birds and running water and no, no, no, tantric anything.

Aa' the best.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Here we go again...

Happy as can be...well, not quite.

A new book is in the making. Plot plotted -- as far as that goes as I tend to let the story run its own course, much like highland burn in spate.
Not doing so, not sticking to the plot, sometimes results in a wonderful run of words where you feel the ideas and pictures flowing from the fingertips. Sometimes not; sometimes you are so engrossed in the free flow that you literally lose the plot. And weep.

Embarking on a new novel is exciting, yes. Scary too. And writing this book in a new country (Bali, Indonesia) in a new temporary home (my friend Oksana's house) I have everything I need - except for THE chair.

There is a beautiful chair, a large recycled wooden chair, a Daddy Bear chair, but it is NOT MY CHAIR. My chair at home in Viet Nam is a cheap, bought from a supermarket, nasty fabric, office chair, tastefully hidden under a Cambodian Buddha-orange silk blanket and it works just fine, supports the back, doesn't give me varicose veins, and cost about twenty dollars new.

Here in Ubud do you think I can find a chair? Not a hope! I can find endless tourist tat, endless yoga schools, more organic spas and cafes and groceries that even Julia Roberts would ever need. I can find centres for Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and more isms than I know how to spell, but an office centre, forgedaboutid.

But the writing will happen. It must. Guilt about not writing now outweighs excuses. And too much thinking -- aka procrastination, makes for sleepless nights.
Now it is time and the ripening rice surrounding the house, growing higher than the bedroom windowsills, the late afternoon swallows, followed by early evening bats, followed by early darkness fireflies, followed by diamond studded skies and a moon filling to full, is sheer magic.
Just the place to sooth the savage whatsit. Yeah yeah yeah, eat pray love.

How about write write write? I will, I promise. But first a chair.

Aa the best.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Now is the hour

Now is the hour that longing turns around
For sailors towards what they left behind...
                                        Dante Alighieri.
                                       Translator, Clive James

I have left my home in Viet Nam, temporarily, to try a new setting, with yet to meet new friends, in Ubud, Bali.

Here to regain my health and equanimity, here to write the first draft of a new book, after only four days, the longing for what Ive left behind hit me.
The change of place started in joy soon morphing into, the chair is not right, the desk too high, the insects are different, the sounds unfamiliar.
But now I know that none of this means a thing; it is only that this is not my desk, my chair, my sounds.
and the compensations are too tremendous to complain: fireflies in the early evening dark darting across the rice fields outside the bedroom window; the four hour cremation ceremony yesterday starring a casts of hundreds, a dragon with a twenty metre tail, a giant bull with huge carved horns, a tower creation three stories high with atop the construction, presumably, the bones of the 4 years dead prince; the yoga barn; the massages; the yummy organic food ...Stop. Wait. The Writing? Not yet.

Now is the time to remember what I have left behind. And who.
Now is the time to remember that no matter the environment, the task is the same --to write the best book I possibly can.
Now it is time to lose myself in that world, the Highlands, 1958, the Highland Gazette, to re-join the cast and crew of my invented world, invented yet based on what I know, who I knew, and most of all those remembered hills and mountain, glens and burns, the wind, the air, the rain, and the constant sound of trees moving, water running, and my mother singing. Once upon a time, before she succumbed to the bullying, she sang often.
So now I embark on another novel, I will keep that sound of her singing with me.

And once again, before I start, I have the pivotal scene that leads me into the work. Last time it was nits (head lice).
This time, it is Sunday morning, beach-side mission, Salvation Army tambourine beating the rhythm and we children singing "Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam" whilst all around us the ungodly are trying to catch the rays to turn Scots-white-blue skin a deeper shade of red to prove they have indeed been on holiday if only "doon the water" to the islands in the Firth of Clyde.
Happy Days.

I hope I can pull it off. But then again, that is why I, we, write.

Aa' the best.

PS yet to find a working title ---'Doon the Water' doesn't work in English.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ha, at long last I have discovered how to post a blog -- indeed how to open the whole blooming site, bypassing the Comrades who block Facebook and bloggers.
However, I am a guest in this country and accept what is.

So where was I? A new book? Yep, Beneath the Abbey Wall was duly published in November '12 and, I'm pleased to say, has done well in a modest way.

Next up, North Sea Requiem is now being proof-editd and will be out on September the 3rd this year.

Much more importantly for me, is the new book, the one yet to be written, the one where I know what I want to say and am not sure I can pull it off.

Yeah yeah, always with the doubt. Can't help it. Every time I embark on a new book I am terrified. Once writing that evaporates. Once finished, the doubts creep in again. Then you just have to write another to see if you can improve on the previous. Sounds like one of Dante's circles of hell and it is. But not.

Count you blessings, name them one by one, that was one of the songs we sang in Sunday School. That was the song that stayed with me, shaped me.
So I count my blessings:

I am alive. Never complain about getting old because at least you are alive.
I am healthy(ish) Healthy enough to work, swim, drive a motorbike, travel, dance, behave disgracefully in a bar on the beach (even though I hardly ever drink, I do get drunk on joy)
I earn a living through my writing. Modest living, yes, I'd be poor if I lived in the west but wealthy in the little fisherman's cottage in Viet Nam in the village with no name.
I have friends. Wonderful loving supportive friends.
I have family. Ditto above.
I am off to Bali for 3 months. Off to write. To hide. To write. To retreat. To write. To eat well. To write. To exercise. And write write write.

 So there we have it, this random pick of the many blessings in my life --Wonderful huh?

Aa' the best.