Ewart Library Book Launch

Last night saw the second launch evening for Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale. The event took place at the beautiful Ewart Library, Dumfries, and – after last week’s fantastic turnout at Lockerbie Library – we were delighted to have another great audience, including strong support from the friends and families of Lockerbie Writers.

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All set up for the book launch at Ewart Library.

The night was once again hosted by editor Kerrie McKinnel, and Lockerbie Library’s Customer Service Assistant Marian Dawber, and took place in conjunction with the library’s World Book Night celebrations; the audience received complimentary books as part of this event, as well as having the opportunity to purchase our book at the special launch evening price of £5.99.

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Paula reads her short story, ‘The Grass Troll who entered the Talent Contest’.

Readings were provided by Lockerbie Writers’ members Paula, Chris and Richard, giving the audience a feel for the mixture of genres and styles within the book.

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Chris reading her poem, ‘The Weather’ – an apt choice for an April week which had featured sun and snow!
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Richard reading his spooky short story, ‘An Overpaid Fare’.

The evening was concluded by the book’s co-editor, Godfrey Newham, who discussed the challenges and rewards of editing an anthology. His comparison between an editor and a dentist got the audience laughing, but there was a serious message too about how much he had enjoyed reading all of the different writing styles, and how much he would recommend the anthology as a good read.

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Godfrey tells the audience why an editor is like a dentist …

Once again, we had a fantastic night. It was lovely to get the chance to chat to the audience afterwards, some of whom were enthusiastic writers themselves, and all of whom seemed genuinely impressed with the look and content of the anthology. Thank you again to everybody who attended, and who helped in the planning and running of the evening.

And a final reminder – Lockerbie Writers’ is a non-profit group, and all monies raised from the sale of this book will go towards future publications and events for group. Your money could help to fund us to get an author or publisher in to speak to the group, or perhaps to run a writing event for the local community – who knows! Anything is possible, and we’d welcome your feedback if you have any ideas!

Do you have your copy yet??? Sadly, we don’t have any more events planned just yet – but you can buy your copy of Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology right now from Amazon and other retailers! Click here for details!

Prompt to Proof, Part 2 by Kerrie McKinnel

By Kerrie McKinnel

With the second book launch taking place at 6.30pm tonight at Ewart Library (Click here for details), this is the final post in a special series of blog posts to celebrate the launch of Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale. Here, Kerrie reflects on the lessons learned during the compilation of the book.


As many of you will know by now, this book began back in autumn 2015. At the time, I was debating what to do for an upcoming university project – coincidentally, Lockerbie Writers’ had been talking for a while about putting together a book. My offer to compile the book as my project was greeted by cheering and unanimous acceptance. Perhaps they knew better than I did just how much work would be involved?!

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Some of Lockerbie Writers, March 2016.

‘Hard work’ wouldn’t be in it!

I can’t complain too much though.

At recent meetings of the Lockerbie Writers, I’ve become almost used to accepting praise. ‘Thank you for taking this project on.’ ‘Thanks for putting everything together.’ ‘Thanks for all your hard work.’ And I have to keep reminding them that I wouldn’t have a book at all without THEIR hard work and talent … but the other thing they seem to be forgetting is just how beneficial this project has been for me. Yes, it’s given me an excellent report to hand in for my university assessment, but it’s also taught me so much more.

So, here we go. Let me share with you some of the lessons which I’ve learnt along the way – for anyone brave/foolish enough to consider doing the same!

  1. Never set a deadline and then change your mind. Bad idea, especially if you’ve already told eight people what that deadline was going to be. Do your research in advance, then pick a date and stick to it.
  2. Everything will take longer than you think it will. Just, everything. Foresee the unforeseeable – bad weather, computer breakdowns, illness, and tax forms which you never knew existed but which will end up filling your nightmares.
  3. Use social media. Not only is it (mostly) free of charge, but it is also quick and easy, and puts you firmly in charge of when and what you publish.
  4. … but don’t let social media take over your project. There were times when I risked losing entire days to Facebook and WordPress. Let’s face it – it’s only a computer screen. Getting out there into the world and getting something published in the newspaper or putting posters up in the library and supermarket can work just as well.
  5. Funding applications take a LONG time. We talked about applying for a few funding avenues, for things like publication costs and inviting established authors to speak to the group. We didn’t realise that we should have started thinking about this in 2012. (Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but you get the idea.)
  6. Don’t expect everything to go to plan … see point 2. If you’re going to take on a project like this, you need to be calm, patient and flexible. An ability to go with the flow and let the project progress organically is essential.
  7. … but don’t be surprised when things turn out an awful lot more awesome than you planned. I’m talking here about the amazing engagement and support which we received from our local community. It would take me another blog post to list all of the people and businesses who have helped us along the way. You know who you are, and we’re incredibly grateful. We hope you’re as proud of the book as we are!
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Lockerbie Library launch evening, 21st April 2016.

‘Would you do it again?’ someone asked me at a recent Lockerbie Writers’ meeting.

What, after all that stress? After tax forms? After days spent changing the formatting of speech marks and line spacing? After sleepless nights wondering if this book would ever get any further than a pile of scribbles?

Of course I would!

I’ve learned so much over these last six months. Next time, I’d be a bit more prepared. I’d remember to allow for snow and ice if I was doing a project over the winter (or, let’s face it, any month of the year. It is Scotland.) I’d know to start earlier and allow longer if I wanted to have any chance of getting funding for anything. But most importantly, I’d know to chill out just a little bit more and go with the flow, because in the end, despite all the ups and downs and roundabouts, the book looks pretty darn good – even if I do say so myself!

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Lockerbie Writers getting ready for our first launch evening! 19th April 2016.

Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale is now available to buy from Amazon, directly from a group member, or at tonight’s launch evening. Click here for details.


About the Author

Kerrie McKinnel is a writer and student of the University of Glasgow’s MLitt Creative Writing. In 2015, her writing was included in two anthologies, and her poem, The Enchanted Forest, featured in a sound installation during the Dumfries Christmas Lights Switch-on. Her fiction is inspired by beaches and forests, dog-walking and chocolate, and the occasional fleeting memory of what life used to be like before board books and toddler tantrums.

Kerrie lives in rural south-west Scotland with her husband and son. She recently completed the first draft of her debut novel.

 

Illustrating for an Anthology by Lewanna Stewart

By Lewanna Stewart

With only two days to go until the second launch event for Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale, the book’s illustrator Lewanna reflects on the joys and challenges of producing drawings to go alongside our writing.


The process of illustrating for an anthology such as this starts with reading the stories and getting a feel for an overall theme. As I read I made notes and sketches until I decided which ones to choose. Scotsman’s stump was the first story I read and I think its ghostly nature may have set the tone for some of my later choices. When I took the sketches to a meeting of the writers I was pleasantly surprised by the positive response and went off to make finished drawings.

Researching was also a big part of the job; finding images of murmurations and the wood for Frank’s writing box were inspiring. Driving around Eskdale and Annandale consciously soaking up the landscape helped too and gradually the images developed.

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A page from Lewanna’s sketch book. This shows extracts from the soldier’s diary which is mentioned in Pat Mackay’s ‘A Ghost Story’.

The most intense bit of research was following up the lead Pat gave me. Her story is based on a true ghost story. She told me the ghost soldier’s real diary had been given to the primary school in Boreland. I made enquiries and sure enough a copy was found. Reading it was an honour, it conjured up such a fondness for the area I could well understand his desire to get back to Boreland.

It has been a pleasure to enter the worlds of the varied stories in the anthology and have my illustrations alongside them. The book looks great. I look forward to the next one!

 

Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale is now available to buy from Amazon and other outlets – please click here for details – and don’t forget, our next launch evening takes place on Wednesday 27th April!


About the Writer

Lewanna Stewart is an artist/illustrator currently living in Boreland near Lockerbie, having recently moved north from Cornwall where she did an M.A. in Illustration/Authorial practice. Often found working on her own self-initiated projects from comics to screen printing, she welcomes work for commission for the pleasure of collaboration and the opportunity to explore and develop the work of others through the medium of drawing.

More examples of her work can be found at: http://lewannamountain.carbonmade.com

Launch of Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology

By Kerrie McKinnel

Last night saw the official launch of Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale!

The event took place at Lockerbie Library, and we were overwhelmed by the number of people who attended. We were hoping to fill a couple of rows of chairs, and almost ended up with standing room only as over 40 people crowded into the library to show their support. This included members of Lockerbie Writers, along with friends, family, and members of the public.

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Chris reads to the packed library!

The night was hosted by myself and (representing Lockerbie Library) the wonderfully enthusiastic Marian Dawber, Customer Service Advisor for Annandale & Eskdale. The event took place in conjunction with the library’s World Book Night celebrations; the audience received complimentary books as part of this event, as well as having the opportunity to purchase our book at the special launch evening price of £5.99.

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Kath reading her poem, ‘The Shepherd and his Flock’.

 

Readings were provided by Lockerbie Writers’ group members Kath, Chris and Richard, to give the audience a sample of the types of writing which they can expect to find in the book.

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Richard reading his short story, ‘An Overpaid Fare’.

The evening finished with the group’s chair, Steph Newham, discussing writing in general – finding inspiration, using prompts, and the joys of being part of a writing group.

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Steph talking about writing.

It was a wonderful night, and I’d like to take this opportunity once again to thank everybody who showed their support by attending and buying a copy of the book, as well as those who were unable to attend but have bought a book from Amazon or a group member.

Lockerbie Writers’ is a non-profit group, and all monies raised from the sale of this book will go towards future publications and events for group. Your money could help to fund us to get an author or publisher in to speak to the group, or perhaps to run a writing event for the local community – who knows! Anything is possible, and we’d welcome your feedback if you have any ideas!

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Marian and Kerrie concluding the night.

 

A final thank you goes to all of the Lockerbie Writers’ group members for contributing to the book and the planning and organisation of the launch evening, and everything in between! Thanks also go once again to Lewanna Stewart for her beautiful illustrations,  Bryan Armstrong of DnG Media for providing the foreword, the Kings Arms Hotel for hosting our weekly meetings, and all of the other people and businesses who have helped along the way. We also couldn’t have held such a successful launch without the kind support of Lockerbie Library – thank you to Marian and all of her staff for posters, refreshments, help with the running order … everything!

Missed the first launch evening? Don’t forget you can see us again on Wednesday 27th April, 6.30pm, at Ewart Library (Dumfries) – or click here for more information on how to buy your very own copy of the anthology right now!

Authors on Writing: Writing to Order by Steph Newham

By Steph Newham

ONE DAY to go until our first launch evening! This is the next in our series of special blog posts in the run-up to the launch of our first book, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale, which is now available to purchase from Amazon – click here for details.

Here, Steph reflects on the difficulties of writing to order.

 


 

“They have no heart, these characters of mine,

squeezing my ego into nothingness,

until I let them speak. They are

superior beings imposing their views,

forcing their words onto the page …”

(Extract from: Steph Newham, ‘The Problem with Characters’ in Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale (2016, CreateSpace), p.169.)

 

Fictional thoughts on how the Muse confounds me.

It’s Tuesday, and this morning our writing group meets as usual. An invited speaker has us writing about autumn leaves. Autumn f*****g leaves. I couldn’t garner a thought let alone a usable idea. ‘Sorry,’ I say when it’s my turn to read, ‘can’t get going with that one.’ I drive home in a sour mood, notice the wild garlic thrusting through the loamy mulch of last autumn’s leaves. Ironic.

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Trees in autumn.

Come bedtime I’m propped up against firm pillows, my head nestling on white cotton, my knees drawn up to support the Ian Rankin I’m hurtling through. By chapter three I’m scrabbling for my notepad and pen – Rebus and red-stained cobbles recede –

I scribble.  Autumn is September, October and November, a neat slice of year; on sunny days the forests are lit up with a yellow glow. Oak, chestnut, and beech cling to the steep slopes, their green cloaks dying in an amazing spectacle of vivid defiance in the face of the winter solstice. With the first tinting of leaves I spot ripe sloes in the hedge at the foot of our garden …

Sometimes bed is a good place to write.

 

Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale is now available to buy – click here for details.

 


 

About the Writer

Steph Newham took up writing when she retired from the NHS. She did a Cert in Creative Writing followed by an MA at Lancaster University. She is currently working on a collection of Short Stories as well as a historical novel.  She is chairperson of Lockerbie Writers and a member of Powfoot Writers. She has had articles published in newspapers and short stories in an anthology and on-line e-zines. She enjoys running workshops and encouraging others to develop their writing skills.

Authors on Writing: Editing by Angela Haigh

By Angela Haigh

This is the next in a series of special blog posts in the run-up to the launch of our first book, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale, which is now available to purchase from Amazon – click here for details.

Here, Angela reflects on the editing process and her life-long love of writing.


 

“Suddenly, quite close to where she was standing, she heard a rustling in the undergrowth. Expecting to see a pheasant emerging, she held the camera ready: a blackbird’s alarm call seemed to confirm her suspicions, though as yet, she saw nothing.

“Again, a slight rustle; Selina stood still and silent, and then peered closely into the undergrowth. Her happy mood instantly changed to one of dismay.

“‘Oh no! Surely not?’”

(Extract from: Angela Haigh, ‘Brief Encounter’ in Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale (2016, CreateSpace), pp.145-152.)

 

I have been writing on and off for as long as I can remember.

When I first started to write, I had little idea about what to write, and because my childhood books were always illustrated, I felt I had to illustrate mine: except art is not my strong point! I think I have the level of a seven-year old when it comes to drawing! I had no idea that illustrators existed to allow authors to spend their time writing.

When I was at teacher-training college, one of my short courses involved writing for children. I recall we had to write a children’s story. I loved doing that!

Further writing happened after that, some of which I still have, but it was only when I joined a writing group, initially online (and of which I am still a member) and then locally, that I began to write regularly. Reading out a story each week has made me much more confident over the years and helped me to develop my writing skills.

In the autumn of 2013, I set myself a challenge: could I write something longer? Perhaps a book?

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A male pheasant.Angela is often inspired by nature and walks in the countryside.

I surprised myself totally: not only did I write one book, but also a second! I even started a third, though I have decided it’s going nowhere. I also wrote a genre I have never written before, surprising myself.

Friends and family were interested; was I going to publish? Could they read it? A couple offered to proof read it. But that was where things got worrisome: I didn’t want anyone else to read them; I didn’t want their comments. If I wanted to publish, they would need editing, and I wasn’t ready for that. I liked them as I had written them and didn’t want changes. Eventually, I relented and let a couple of people read the first book. They did give some comments, but I simply wasn’t at a stage where I felt I could deal with them so the books have remained firmly hidden way since then.

Writing and submitting stories for the Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology woke up those fears: when it came to editing, I have to confess, I was very apprehensive. I knew that changes to words, phrases or maybe even a whole paragraph here and there might be recommended. These were MY stories and I didn’t want them changing!

However, finally I submitted them and waited anxiously for the results. Yes, there were changes: did they worry me? Actually, the changes were generally fine. I needn’t have worried. Godfrey and Kerrie did a great job.

As for the illustrations, I was absolutely blown away when I saw what Lewanna Stewart produced for my story ‘A Sight to Behold’.

Thanks to all who have helped me to contribute to the anthology.

 


 

About the Writer

Angela Haigh is a retired science teacher who worked in both Yorkshire and Cumbria. From being an avid reader, her writing interest developed and began more seriously from 2005. She had a daily blog running for a number of years with the News and Star, and joined an international online writing group together with a local one at Eskdalemuir. She has achieved some success with short stories in online writing competitions.

Angela has so far completed two books of a trilogy, which developed simply from a personal writing challenge. She joined the Lockerbie group early in 2014.

 

Authors on Writing: ‘The Shepherd and his Flock’ by Kath J. Rennie

By Kath J. Rennie

This is the next in a series of special blog posts in the run-up to the launch of our first book, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale, which is now available to purchase from Amazon and at upcoming launch events – click here for details.

Here, Kath reflects on the inspiration behind her poem, ‘The Shepherd and his Flock’, which features in the book.


Splashes of buttercups,

open petals to greet the sun,

whilst daisies in their multitudes

bow and curtsey

each and everyone …”

(Extract from: Kath J. Rennie, ‘The Shepherd and his Flock’ in Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale (2016, CreateSpace), pp.163-165.)

 

Having grown up as a city dweller in the days when small butchers’ shops were plentiful, the closest I ever came to a sheep was when I stopped next to the butchers’ window to see the displays of their wares.

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I never gave a thought to the animal itself or the shepherd who had provided the meat, until that is, a house move into the countryside.

From the window of my Dumfriesshire home, I’ve watched in awe the shepherds who work throughout the year in rain, sleet, the heaviest of snows, to care for and tend to their sheep. They work all the hours of the day and night, to make a living in the career passed down from their forefathers.

I’ve watched a sheep giving birth and know of shepherds who, in order to save a dying newborn, will bottle-feed them, hourly, forgoing rest themselves…

I therefore dedicate my poem to  shepherds, and the labour they provide.

 

‘The Shepherd and his Flock’ can be read in full in Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale. This book is now available to buy from Amazon, for your Kindle, directly from group members, and at upcoming launch events. Click here for full details.

 


About the Writer

Kath J. Rennie was born in 1955, on a British Army Camp in the Country of Wales. A mother of three sons and a step-son. Grandmother of four granddaughters and two step-granddaughters. Kathleen lived in the City of Manchester for twenty-eight years, before moving to the town of Lockerbie, aged thirty.

Besides motherhood; she has worked in the Nursing/Caring profession, and became interested in complimentary therapies, qualifying in 2004 in Reflexology.

Art & Design had always been her hobby and after attending George Street School of Art, in the town of Dumfries, this became her path after retiring, as too, writing again.

Authors on Writing: The Truth behind ‘Hogmanay Blues’

By Paula Nicolson

This is the next in a series of special blog posts in the run-up to the launch of our first book, Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale.

Here, Paula reflects on the inspiration behind her poem, ‘Hogmanay Blues’, which features in the book.


 

“Watching Hogmanay Live

with stale shortbread and pop,

was not the teenage life I’d dreamt of on a stormy Hogmanay night.”

(Extract from: Paula Nicolson, ‘Hogmanay Blues’ in Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale (2016, CreateSpace), pp.27-28.)

 

My experience of New Year’s Eve as a teenager in 1970s London was less interesting than that depicted in my poem, Hogmanay Blues. My mother would often go to bed early, leaving me to watch TV whilst my Dad finished off yet another DIY task. We were then faced with my brother and his inebriated friends falling into the house around 2am.

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The Gibsons.(Copyright Paula Nicolson)

My husband’s family was really the inspiration behind my poem. The traditions carried out on a Scottish “Old Year’s Night” fascinated me, particularly the fact that his Nana was a red head and was therefore not allowed to be the first to cross the threshold; this caused much drunken consternation in the Gibson family. My in-laws regaled us with stories about knocking on doors, gifting coal and black bun, and the drinking of copious amounts of alcohol on the street corner. The frequent and always unexplained deaths of my mother-in-law’s pet budgies were always a source of much amusement, but their demise in the poem as a result of Granny’s breath is pure fiction, I’m afraid.

Mixing together my experiences in London with the traditions of my husband’s youth, created a poem that I hope people will associate with in a humorous yet reminiscent manner. Today, I combine both English and Scottish traditions on Hogmanay; listening to the bells of Big Ben with a shot of whisky and shortbread.  No budgies are hurt in the making of my New Year celebrations.

‘Hogmanay Blues’ can be read in full in Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale. This book is now available to buy from Amazon and for Kindle, as well as directly from group members, and at upcoming launch events.


About the Writer

Paula Nicolson is a scientist by day, but a writer by night. She loves creating poetry and making up stories for her daughter, and finds her inspiration from the Dumfries and Galloway countryside, contemporary art and her eccentric family history. Paula hopes her stories and poetry will bring a smile to your face and fire the imagination of children.

Paula also writes a blog on life in Dumfries and Galloway which can be found at:

www.facebook.com/deckywriting

Anthology Now Available to Buy!

Lockerbie Writers Cover - Copy.jpg* It’s official – Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology is published, printed, and now available! *

I am absolutely delighted to announce that Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology: Stories and Poems from Annandale and Eskdale is now available for buy from Amazon in paperback (£6.99 GBP) and for your Kindle (£4.99 GBP).

The anthology is also available to purchase at any of our upcoming launch events or directly from any group member from mid-April – and, as a special introductory offer and to say THANK YOU to all of the wonderful people who have supported us during this project, for the month of April 2016 when you buy it from us in person then you’ll be able to get your copy for just £5.99!

To take advantage of this special offer, why not come along to one of our launch events?

  • Thursday 21st April, 6.00-7.00pm, Lockerbie Library (Details below)
  • Wednesday 27th April, 6.30-7.30pm, Ewart Library (Dumfries)

We hope to see you at one of our events soon!

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