Drowning in a tsundoku

12 Jun

There is a word in Japanese, they tell me, that means letting books pile up without reading them: tsundoku. I don’t speak Japanese, but it sounds appropriate, reminding me both of sudoku, something stressful and time-consuming, and tsunami, which is what happens when your to-read pile becomes unstable.

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Pester Power

20 May

You may have seen my earlier post on reducing my use of plastic personally. However, that’s only half the story. Businesses and organisations have to play their role, too. If there’s no plastic-free option available, then you can’t choose it.

So I’ve been utilising the still-useful skill of letter writing to try and encourage companies I use to join me on this quest. Below are some letters (OK, emails) I have sent, and the responses I got. Continue reading

Let’s play Hyndland bingo!

26 Apr

It probably says a lot about the neighbourhood of Anniesland, in Glasgow, that after spending a month here I am writing a post about Hyndland. Anniesland is a bit betwixt and between, both in a literal sense (its main landmark is Anniesland Cross, a major junction between roads that run west out of Glasgow and south to the Black Hole and the Death Star (as I like to call Govan and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital) and also in terms of character. It’s kind of west end but not posh, a bit down at heel but not cheap, not that far the city centre, but not actually close. Continue reading

Fulvia and Florence, a Formidable Pair

8 Apr

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that when I announce that I’ve got an article in a magazine, I usually provide a tasteful, cropped photo of the article – an image that shows enough to help you find it in the magazine and hopefully want to read more, but not enough to upset the people at the magazine who deal with copyright and fair usage.

This time is a bit unusual because, although I currently have an article in two magazines, I don’t have a copy of either of them. I moved home almost a year ago, but while I thought I had updated my address with all my contacts while I was still having my post forwarded, in fact I obviously didn’t, and the magazines are probably confusing the person at my old house, or sitting in a forlorn corner of a sorting office. It makes me wonder what else I may be missing…😕 Continue reading

Limbo

18 Mar

I seem to be in a strange kind of limbo, writing-wise at the moment. I’ve finished my latest novel, The Sarcophagus Scroll, and I’ve given it to my editor and a couple of beta readers (at their request), but as my editor has just given birth and beta readers (in my experience) rarely do much reading, there’s no news. It almost feels as if I never finished it and it simply doesn’t exist. Continue reading

Dyslexia-Friendly Storytelling

15 Feb

I’ve just written a wee blog post for Dyslexia Scotland about the BBC’s 500 Word story competition for children – a very dyslexia-friendly competition, as it happens. Who said dyslexics can’t be successful authors?

A Life less ordinary

child-writingA couple of weeks ago, the BBC launched this year’s 500 Words competition. 500 Words is a writing competition for children between 5 and 13 years old. Each entrant submits one story of up to 500 words. The three winners in each age category win either their own height in books, the Duchess of Cornwall’s height in books (5’6”), or DJ Chris Evans’ height in books (6’2”).

Entries are judged on

  • originality
  • plot
  • characterisation
  • language

Crucially, entries are not judged on spelling, punctuation or grammar. In fact, the official rules say that entries are judged “without regard” for these potential stumbling blocks for young dyslexic writers.

Entries are also submitted by copying or typing into an online text box. A helpful adult is supposed to do this bit, and to fill out the rest of the online entry form for the child. That removes another potential barrier for children with…

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Beautiful Bute

7 Feb

I’m just back from what my sister called my “overseas tour” – speaking to a literary society on the Isle of Bute. Continue reading

Robin Hood on Tour

2 Feb

Next week I’ll be travelling to Robin Hood’s heartland which is, of course, Yorkshire!

On this mini-book tour I’ll be speaking to the sixth formers at my old school, Sheffield High, but I’ll also be doing a public event at Stannington Library. Stannington is a suburb of Sheffield that is still almost like a village, and is conveniently close to Loxley, of Robin Hood fame.

It’s on Tuesday 12th of February at 7pm, and it takes the form a discussion between myself and a storyteller called Carmel Page, who has written fictional stories about the young Robin Hood.

Entry is free, but as it’s a volunteer library, donations are encouraged. I will also have copies of my book Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong available for sale.

There’s a PDF of the event poster here, which you may share as widely as you like, and there’s this adorable wee gif that Stannington Library created for me. (If it doesn’t play automatically, try clicking on it.)

two_heads

By the way, if you have an idea of an author event for me, or would like to invite me to speak to your school or organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the “Get in Touch” section (obviously). ➡️

 

 

Isaac Newton – Mathematician, Physicist and … Theologian?

28 Jan

20190126_113909In the latest edition of Premier’s Christianity magazine you will find my “Ten-Minute Guide to Isaac Newton”.

Why would Isaac Newton be featured in a series of short guides to figures in church history? Because he had some wacky, but sincerely held, theological views. Although he’s best known for dabbling in maths and physics (you may have heard of one or two of his wee laws of motion that revolutionised the science of the time), his real passions were biblical criticism (especially trying to construct a universal chronology of all human history after Noah’s flood) and alchemy.

While I was researching this article I also happened to be reading Somerset Maugham’s brilliant novel, The Magician. The result was that I quickly became deeply fascinated by the history of alchemy, to the extent that I want to write a book on it someday.

Apparently not everyone shares this fascination, because one of the boxes I had written to accompany the article, about alchemists who were also Christians (or Christianish, in Newton’s case) was cut in favour of some interesting Newton quotes. That’s not anything unusual. When a book is edited, you spent time going back and forth with your editor discussing and negotiating changes; when a magazine is edited, time pressure means that you only find out afterwards.

However, you lucky people who follow my blog can still enjoy the deleted box! Here is a rundown of some of famous Christians who also dedicated themselves to the pursuit of the philosopher’s stone.

morienusMorienus – Christian hermit who introduced alchemy to the Islamic world.

dunstanSt Dunstan – abbot of Glastonbury and later Archbishop of Canterbury. A work on how to produce the philosopher’s stone is attributed to him. [Although to be fair, it could all have been false accusations by his enemies. But he was awfully good at metalwork, which is associated with alchemy. Just sayin’.]

sylvester iiPope Sylvester II – French pope who was deeply interested in arts and sciences, including alchemy, and helped to introduce Arab knowledge to Europe.

albertus magnusAlbertus Magnus – Dominican monk who taught Thomas Aquinas and spent 20 years setting down in Latin the knowledge of every branch of learning that existed.

Each of these men is fascinating in his own right, and well worth looking up. Or if you’re feeling lazy you could just wait, possibly several years, until I write that book I mentioned. But don’t wait years to read the article on Newton – it’s only available this month, and if you’ve never subscribed to Christianity before, you can even get a free trial copy.

Plastic-free(ish) Living

15 Jan

I ran a Twitter poll to see what I should write my next post on, and of the two people who replied, half wanted a post about plastic-free living. That is clearly the undeniable will of the people, so let’s proceed.

Background

I’ve been trying to reduce my plastic use over the last year or so (yes, basically since Blue Planet II), and I’ve tried out a number of plastic-free alternatives and techniques – some successful, some less so. This is not based on exhaustive research (for that, try My Plastic-Free Life), just one woman’s dabbling. But it might give you some ideas, if you too were very sad about the baby whale.

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