Author Talk with Sara Maitland, 27 June 2018

It was the middle of a heatwave, but the unusually hot weather (for Scotland!) wasn’t enough to put off the large audience who gathered last night to celebrate National Writing Day and meet local author Sara Maitland.

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In an evening hosted by Lockerbie Writers, Sara was introduced by Events Manager, Kerrie McKinnel and by Chair, Stephanie Newham. Steph was delighted to be able to share her love of Sara’s work, having enjoyed her books for many years, and having had Sara as a tutor during her creative writing degree studies.

27-06-18 SM03 During Sara's talk

The audience of around 25 people, including members of Lockerbie Writers group and other local writing groups, listened and laughed as Sara read one of her unconventional short stories about a dragon and a princess. Sara then shared some of her tips for writing, including her thoughts on daily routine and the life of a writer. Fairy tales, and their use as a base structure for a story, were mentioned several times throughout the night.

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The evening finished with a range of questions from the audience, and a chance to mingle while browsing the books for sale. This included the few remaining copies of Lockerbie Writers’ Anthology (also for sale on Amazon).

Before the night ended, there was time for one last photo opportunity. Here is Sara Maitland (centre) with Stephanie Newham (right) and another Lockerbie Writers’ member, Kath J. Rennie (left).

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Thank you to everyone who came along and shared in such a great evening. It was a joy for Lockerbie Writers to host such a well-published, funny and interesting writer. Thank you to everyone who contributed, in whatever way, for an enjoyable end to National Writing Day, and thank you of course to Sara Maitland for joining us. We hope to work with you again soon!

Fairy Tales (Part 3), June 2018

Ahead of our author talk with Sara Maitland, Lockerbie Writers chose the prompt ‘Fairy Tales’ for our last meeting. Each person wrote something unique and put their own imaginative spin on the theme. I’m delighted to be able to share some of these pieces with you now, and hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed listening to them at the meeting.

The third and final piece which I have to share with you comes from Kath J. Rennie. This story, about a child who believes that fairies will save her from her suffering, is a change of pace from the others which I have shared here this week, and demonstrates the variety of stories which we at Lockerbie Writers are lucky enough to hear at every meeting. Kath’s stories are often fuelled by human emotion and the harsh realities of life, and this touching tale is no different.

For more information on the Sara Maitland event, click here.


Dedicated to all children in this world who hold onto hope of a better life.

‘Moonbeams and Dreams’ by Kath J. Rennie

She sits shivering on the edge of her bed, listening for any sounds from the room below: all is quiet; all must by now, be in their beds.

It feels safe to rise.

She tiptoes over to the bedroom window, where moonlight shines brilliantly through flower laden, tattered curtains. They hang precariously on sagging curtain-wire, which, if her mother could afford; she had been told, would be replaced.

Each step taken has the floorboards creak in resistance: She inhales the cold air; holds it within; until her lungs cry out in for release.

Shadowed idols’ eyes follow her every movement. She feels brave as they look down from the ill-gotten magazine poster: Surely she will be forgiven for her impetuous action? And surely, it wouldn’t have been missed?

One day, she muses; she’ll become a pop star; help other girls; somewhere in the world: they’ll look up at her; talk to her, about their difficult lives.

The posters also hang insecurely; the sellotape at each corner is yellowed and curled -She’d asked her mother to buy more of the tape; but another had shouted; “There’s no spare money for trivialities; shut up with your whining, girl!’

Mother had mixed a little flour with water in a cup, for her daughter, until a gluey consistence.

“Here; use this, and don’t mither when he’s about!”

It had been attempted, but it had smelt; stained her prized possession..


The shabby curtains are opened; slowly; diligently, should a tug on them have the wired hook ends loosen their grip on prominent, two inch, rusted nails, which she finds unsightly; as too, the threadbare carpet; the bedding and peeling bits of old paintwork.

She leans on the splintered window ledge; cups her face in her hands, then silently yelps as an elbow is pierced. This annoys her; she whispers to the full moon; stood proud in the darkened sky, of it; and of her dreams.

“One day; I will live in a house where everything in it will be new, and sparkling clean. I will have a maid to do all the chores, so I won’t have to do them anymore: I won’t live in it all the time as I’ll be travelling the world; singing to audiences.”

The moon shines even brighter in response, and countless stars shimmer in agreement.

At this time of year; even though bitterly cold; she adores in the dead of night. She finds the view nicer than on a summer’s day, as there are no people in their back gardens which back on to hers, with their noisy, laughing children, and their very noisy animals which bark; meow and fight constantly.

She can look for fairies she’s heard can be found, if you really look.

The times spent looking for them had been fruitless. She blames the over-growth of grass, and weeds; and the family cat; which is a good cat, but does its business in the garden, and surely the fairies wouldn’t like that?

How she wishes the family cat was up in the bedroom with her, tonight, to cuddle it; have it cuddle in to her.

She ponders on this thought and promises herself to have many of them, one day: her maid can look after them, too.

Thinking is something often done when staring up, out through the bedroom window.  Tonight; the perfect globe has her entranced.

She wonders if there is indeed a man who lives on it.

Can he see her?

If he can; could he tell the other man, who lives up there, somewhere, in the universe, that she is sad and has tried her best to make contact with Him; on her knees; on the worn-out carpet, where coldness seeps in through gapping gaps in the floor-boards: can he also be told that she attends, every Sunday, in Saint Mark’s church, the morning service, where the vicar preaches, of God’s love, and of being saved from evil.

Her splintered elbow begins to sting. She urges the man in the moon to hurry up;  so the other man can send an Angel to surround her cold body with its wings; envelope her in safety.

She closes her eyes and envisions the miracle happening. The moment brings a flush of warmth throughout her body; then all goes dark, and colder, as the moon is shrouded by cloud.

The moment is lost. Any heat dispels as a gust of icy-wind blows in through the cracked window-panes, and a drunken, growling sound is heard on the staircase, as steps are missed and cursed.

A tune plays in her head; one she’s heard many times on the radio; fell in love with.

Mother loves the Beatles songs also; but not as much as her; she sings their song ‘Help’ all the time; at school, where a board duster had been thrown at her for not keeping quiet: She’s sang it when out playing on the streets; alone; because the other girls said she smells; calls her nasty names, because she pees her bed.

Another reason, for not sleeping, at night.


The curtains are fretfully closed.

Quick tip-toed steps are taken back to her creaky bed; the less than inadequate scratchy blanket (army surplus) pulled swiftly over her shaking body, and head; she sings in her head he last line of her favourite song…’Won’t somebody please, please help me; help me; help me…eeee.

16-11-16 01 Close up of the super moon as it begins to wane.JPG

Fairy Tales (Part 2), June 2018

Ahead of our author talk with Sara Maitland, Lockerbie Writers chose the prompt ‘Fairy Tales’ for our last meeting. Each person wrote something unique and put their own imaginative spin on the theme. I’m delighted to be able to share some of these pieces with you now, and hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed listening to them at the meeting.

The second piece which I have to share with you comes from Angela Haigh. Angela’s quirky take on the traditional tale, The Ugly Duckling, is inspired by her love of nature and birds. Angela’s tales always come to life when she’s writing about what she loves, and I hope this comes across in this short story.

For more about the Sara Maitland talk, click here.


‘Only Its Mother Could Love It’ by Angela Haigh

I have been puzzled for many many years by a fairy tale written by a favourite childhood author; namely Hans Christian Anderson. When young, I would read his tales over and over again, but one of his stories just doesn’t ring true – and never has, not even when I was still very young: the tale of the Ugly Duckling.

What has puzzled me all these years is why he chose a cygnet to be his ugly bird. After all, almost all waterfowl have young that can only give the “ahhhhhhh!” factor from the minute they have hatched. If you don’t believe me, a quick visit to google images will confirm that. Cygnets and  goslings  (in case he couldn’t tell a swan from a goose) are cute little fluffy chicks with a face that makes you want to snap picture after picture. If you disagree with that, people would probably say “should have gone to Specsavers”.

So – the ugly duckling, to my way of thinking, could never have been a cygnet; after all, barely any waterfowl baby can be cuter, from hatching and right through growing up. Okay, there is one waterfowl baby that might be cuter, and yes, it does happen to be a duckling; I admit that. But cygnets aren’t very far behind, and can possibly push puppies and kittens into third place. Possibly.

Notice that I stated that most waterfowl are cute and with an ahhhhh factor.

I can think of two such babes that are oh so ugly that only their parents could love it. And by ugly, I am here comparing them in the beauty stakes to that of a pigeon squab. Have you ever noticed, that no matter how common feral pigeons are, you never see them with their babies? By the time you see a young pigeon, it will have grown up sufficiently to look like its parent.

The reason you don’t see the youngsters at an earlier stage in public can only be put down to one factor, in my opinion: a pigeon squab is so ugly that only its mother could love it. There: I have said it, and me a bird watcher too.

Well, there are a couple of waterfowl babies that look like aquatic pigeon squabs, but are much more easily seen, as their parents have no shame and allow their youngsters to be viewed by all: coots and the closely-related moorhen. SURELY – this must be what was intended to be the ugly duckling? Strangely, their other close relative, the water rail, has the cutest baby possible – FAR more cute even than ducklings: yes that IS possible!

Obviously it is far too late to challenge Hans Christian Anderson with his choice of bird for his Ugly Duckling story now, but next time you think about the tale, or maybe read it to children or grandchildren, just picture a coot or moorhen baby and NOT a cygnet.


Fairy Tales, June 2018

Ahead of our author talk with Sara Maitland, Lockerbie Writers chose the prompt ‘Fairy Tales’ for our last meeting. Each person wrote something unique and put their own imaginative spin on the theme. I’m delighted to be able to share some of these pieces with you now, and hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed listening to them at the meeting.

The first selection, below, comes from Rita Dalgliesh. Here, she has played with several traditional fairy tales and nursery rhymes to create new poetry. See if you can guess which ones! Rita’s inventive poetry always has a musical quality to it. I hope this comes across in your reading.

For more information on the Sara Maitland event, click here.


Poem 1.


There’s the crooked man: can’t lie straight in bed,

Wouldn’t be doing time if, hadn’t committed the crime

Running from fear he created … now it’s fear he faces,

‘Walks with crutches’ so it’s said; rewarded for messing with the feds,

a mile on a warped path, to hard labour and back,

with little water and bread.


The wages of sin are sad. ‘Sixpence’ this adding to a miserable existence.

He have liked a bit of style; once in a while,

not content with his lot, got underway,

playing cat and mouse; dreaming of a mansion for a house.




He rode a stealthy stallion to Bamberry Cross

Meeting his betrothed, on a pure white horse.

He knew she was there; the music fairly blared.

Today she gets another ring and bells will chime.




The mice on the farm follow the wife, she fed them fit to burst,

How could they know? Premeditated plans for them would mean a blow,

Blind trust, you see is very rare; seldom taken care of,

by man to make up.

As they grew heavy; the cat grew stealthy, no contest for the trio …

Run. Hide; it’s your life

or feel teeth sharper,

than a double edged knife.




Jack and Jill were in a pickle,

they looked quite ill, for a young couple.

They climbed a hill to catch the sun

and found they turned a lovely brown.

As they leave to go back down; they trip; fall,

titter like a pair of clowns,

stop at the chippie; for fish wrapped in paper,

with vinegar …



Rita Dalgliesh

Writing Challenge – June 2018

Hello fellow writers!

Let me begin by thanking everyone who contributed to the April/May writing challenge. It was the first one which we’d run in a little while, and we enjoyed seeing your responses!

In keeping with some of the themes of our visiting author Sara Maitland’s talk at the end of this month (click here for more information), I’ve picked a photograph of a fairy garden to get you started …

Just a reminder that all responses to the prompt should be posted as comments on this blog post or as a comment when we share this blog on our Facebook page. No email entries please.

Are you ready? Then let’s go!

Writing Challenge – June 2018

Write a story (in 100 words or less) inspired by this photograph of a fairy garden.

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Entry Details and Terms

  • To enter, simply add your entry as a comment on this post, or as a comment on the Facebook post whenever this blog is shared to our Facebook page. Entries will be accepted until 30th June 2018.
  • The challenge is open to everyone, including members of Lockerbie Writers.
  • Entries should be fictional, maximum 100 words, based on the prompt. You can enter as many times as you like. All entries must be the entrant’s original work, must not infringe on the rights of any other parties, and should not contain anything which might be considered offensive. Lockerbie Writers reserves the right to remove any entries/comments which they decide do not meet any of these conditions.
  • By entering, you agree to allow Lockerbie Writers to publish your entry on this blog and on their Facebook page. You will retain the copyright to your work.
  • If you have any questions, please get in touch!