I can’t believe the first month of 2017 has almost gone. It’s scary, isn’t it?
So far, this month I have corrected the proofs for for Castle Douglas Through Time, which comes out on March 15. It is already available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s a photo-led local history book in a ‘then and now’ format in collaboration with photographer Allan Devlin. This is the second book, published by Amberley Publishing we have worked on together. Dumfries Through Time came out in 2015.
They are fun to do, although collecting the 90 old images we need is more than a bit daunting. Allan then has to take photos of the same places as they are today and I do the research and write the introduction and captions. The research part I love; writing captions which have an upper word limit of 80 words, not so much. Our town has a rich history and it is really difficult to convey that in so few words. Of course, we cheat a bit and have several photos of Carlingwark Loch, for example, so I can tell a bit more of the story through a series of images.
The week before the launch party for Castle Douglas Through Time I am teaching, with historical novelist Margaret Elphinstone on a creative writing course here in south west Scotland. Juliet, who owns Durhamhill and the llamas and organises the courses emailed today to say places are filling up. There’s another returnee (always flattering but means Margaret and I have to come up with new exercises each time!).
She also wrote: ‘The llama shed is getting a new surface outside. Alan woke me up in a panic at the crack of dawn to say a lorry driver delivering stones had let the llamas out through the gate. I staggered from bed to the drive with a migraine and fell flat over the load of stones – then had to finish sorting out my last year’s accounting stuff for the last minute dash to my long-suffering accountant but a hired hot tub for the hen party who were arriving this evening wasn’t heating up properly and Lettie [she’s a llama] was shivering because she had to be shut out in the wind while the builders sorted the stones around the llama palace. Fortunately she loves hot water and drank half a bucket and stopped shivering.’
Are you, as I am, wondering if it was the hen party’s hot tub water the llama drank? And don’t you just know a creative writing course with this woman present is going to be an absolute hoot?
I am about to send a very slim collection of short stories to an editor and hope to publish The Thing in Your Eye and other stories (working title) in mid to late spring. I don’t write many short stories but enjoy the form. Some of these have won or been placed in various competitions and, as it’s a long time since I published any fiction, I thought it was time to get them out there. I’ll have more news of this to share in a future blog.
As for my New Year resolutions – well, I’ve been good at turning down projects (other than a couple of magazine feature commissions) which would take me away from this year’s main project of turning my blog My Dad’s a Goldfish, into a book. So far, I have cut the opening, which worked fine as a blog post but not as a memoir and I’m looking forward to really getting stuck into this next week.
Depending on when you read this post I’ll be on a train to Glasgow or delivering a talk, to an audience of about 70 sex educators (Sexpression), on sex in Afghanistan, or I might be on a train back home. Leave your comments and I will respond as soon as I’m back at my desk. I don’t have a smart phone, thank goodness.