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Welcome to my site!

Some of my books

I write books for all ages, for young children to teenage and adults. I have also written a book on writing - Writing for Children - for both aspiring and newly published authors.

While I spend quite a lot of time visiting libraries, schools and festivals talking about my books and running creative writing workshops, I do manage to find time to write, too!

You can download the free story: Hamish McHaggis and the Aberlady Gala Mystery.

Latest News:

Weegie Wednesday

Last week I was invited back to speak at Weegie Wednesday   Glasgow’s monthly networking meetup  for people connected to books, publishing, bookselling – illustrators, comic book writers, drama, radio, TV, media and all related creative industries. It was a great crowd and very friendly!

I was mostly speaking about writing for Young Adults and although it was a short talk we got through quite a lot and there were some excellent questions.  

I finished by reading a very short taster from Dead Boy Talking.   A lovely evening all round, and I want to that the organisers for inviting me.

Moniack Mhor a writing (re)treat

Getting away from everyday life to concentrate on writing, with little or no interference is a blissful thing for a writer.  I have been up to Moniack Mhor several times and always look forward to my return. 

It is Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre, set deep in Highlands of Scotland, not too far from Inverness but it feels a world away and the views are breathtaking.  They run an assortment of tutored weeks where there are up to 16 writers and two writing tutors. They also have a mid week guest who comes along for one evening workshop or talk.  It is slightly less than a full week, running from arrival around 5pm on the Monday until you leave after breakfast on Saturday but during that time the focus is on your creative work.  There are one-to-one sessions with the tutors and also workshops with all the attendees taking part but also lots of time to write.  The Moniack Mhor team of lovely folk also run some short weekend courses and  weeks that are not tutored, so you are free to get on with your own writing at your own pace.

                                                    Cathy MacPhail

I have been a tutor twice before, both tutoring Writing for Children, and also on a short weekend course focusing on nature and the countryside  and enjoyed it hugely, despite it being hard work!  

The first full week course was with the fabulously creative fellow tutor  Cathy MacPhail. 

Cathy and I had a wonderful time as we always spark ideas off in each other, and with our 16 writers we all worked so well together that the group soon became supportive of each other and that always promotes even better writing.  

Teresa Flavin

The Second time was with writer/illustrator Teresa Flavin.  It was another great week and we were able to show our writers how our different approaches to writing worked for us.  Teresa is a great planner, down to the smallest detail, before she starts writing – whereas I like to dive right in and see where it takes me.  It was great having evidence of how working practice works for different people.

A good number of both of those groups have gone on to get published and it was great to be part of their journey.

I am about to go back for a retreat week and I am looking forward to uninterrupted writing time, when I can live at the pace dictated by the muse, work early or late into the night, stop for a walk or just to look at the view and let my mind wander. All the things that distract are left behind so that the focus is on the story even when I am not writing, it is still brewing in my head, undisturbed.  It is amazing how productive that kind of time can be.  I cannot wait.

ScotsWrite September 2017 – A conference for writers by writers

On a lovely weekend late in September  last year there was a large gathering of writers and speakers from all areas of the publishing world who came together for ScotsWrite conference, organised by the Society of Authors in Scotland (SoAiS).  

The SoAiS committee, all volunteers who are working writers living and working in Scotland,  are the Scottish representatives of  The Society of Authors,   and I was delighted to be the  Chair of the SoAiS  for the last three years with an amazing group of dedicated committee members. We also had help from the London SoA office and the lovely Jenny Kumar, who kept us all in order and on our toes. 

The SoA is an organisation of over 10,000 writers  and a trade union fighting for the rights of writers and supporting them in their work since 1884.

This was our first Scottish full weekend conference and we wanted to make it something that all the SoA members and other writers, at all stages of their careers and working in a wide variety of fields, would find useful and relevant.We had delegates and speakers from all over the world.

Linda Strachan – Chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland

We looked at all aspects of a writer’s life; about what makes us writers, and how to survive in the current world of publishing, what options there are and opportunities for diversification and to learn new skills, but also what keeps us fit and well both physically and mentally.

It was no small task and took us about 2 years to bring our imaginative programme to fruition.  I think that since we were all amateur conference organisers, (we are writers by profession so this was not in our normal skill set), we kept on coming up with new ideas and possibilities to make it even more exciting, and there was no one telling us it was not possible or that we couldn’t do it.

There were speakers from a wide variety of genres sharing their writing expertise ( about writing Crime, Children’s Television, theatre and comic books and as well as sessions on the practical nuts and bolts and   business side of being a writer.  

Our very comprehensive programme also included a strand on health and wellbeing including sessions on mental health for writers, how to handle your legal affairs (Preparing for the Unexpected  and the Inevitable with one of our main sponsors Gillespie MacAndrew LLP running this session) and we also had Save a Life Scotland   offering us CPR training. 

Delegates also had time over the weekend to relax and have fun and time to chat to each other, to network but most of all we wanted people to feel welcomed.   In true Scottish style we had a Ceilidh on the Saturday night after the Gala dinner .  Our Conference bags were full of all sorts of interesting flyers and books and goodies.

It was a conference to remember and has been hailed as a huge success by those who attended some saying it was the best ever.