Mindful Writing Day, 22nd June 2019

Q: What do castles, mindfulness and bumblebees have in common?

A: They all featured in Lockerbie Writers’ Mindful Writing Day!

Read on to find out more …

Above, some of Lockerbie Writers’ members: Rita, Paula, Steph, Kerrie and Kath

After six months of planning, the big day was here – and the Lockerbie Writers were ready!

On Saturday 22nd June 2019, Lockerbie Writers hosted their biggest event to date: a mindful writing day at the Somerton House Hotel, Lockerbie. The group, which has now run a number of successful workshops and events, currently have ten members with a variety of writing interests and styles, while their sister group A Novel Approach consists of around seven people (with some attending both groups).

Keen to build on the successful of their 2018 National Writing Day author talk with Sara Maitland, this time the group had sought funding to put on a full-day event. Thanks to the generous support of DG Unlimited and Dumfries and Galloway Council, they were able to invite local author and writing tutor Margaret Elphinstone to attend and to provide her expertise.

Margaret began the day by inviting participants to mindfully explore the hotel’s garden. The day with busy with a fantastic attendance of twenty-seven people, but there was plenty of space outside for peaceful individual reflection in the summer sunshine.

Participants took their time and tapped into each of their five senses, in order to see what ideas and memories might be summoned up.

Once back inside, Margaret then led the group through a writing exercise which built on these sensory experiences. Responses were incredibly varied – from idyllic afternoons in the garden through to complete short stories told from the points of view of bumblebees and pinecones!

Margaret, the author of nine novels and an experienced writing tutor, then entered into a lively and informative Q&A session with the audience.

After lunch, it was the turn of the Lockerbie Writers! PR Manager Paula Nicolson, an experienced copyeditor and writer of a mixture of genres including poetry and children’s stories, began by demonstrating a relaxing breathing technique, ideal for practising before you sit down to write. She then led participants through a mindful eating writing exercise, which proved to be very popular.

Next up was chairperson Steph Newham, an experienced tutor whose writing often focuses on women’s issues through history including childbearing and motherhood. Steph led an exercise which involved visualising a childhood place. Again, this was a fruitful prompt for many participants, with some travelling back in their mind to gardens, houses and rooms which they had not consciously thought about in many years.

Last up was Events Manager Kerrie McKinnel, a writer of character-driven, modern-day pieces, who also runs writing workshops for all ages through her business. Kerrie led the participants through another visualisation, this time imagining and then writing about a castle, before moving on to a short exercise on happiness and gratitude.

The day concluded with the opportunity for all participants to read out one piece of writing – they had the opportunity to choose from any of the short pieces which they had produced over the course of the day, and there was a wonderful mix of genres and ideas. Some had produced complete short stories or poems, while others had sketched out ideas which they now felt motivated to go on and continue in their own time.

There were congratulations in store for the happy winner of our free raffle, who walked away with a copy of the Lockerbie Writers’ anthology.

Finally, member of local writing groups were invited to speak about their offerings. In addition to Lockerbie Writers, there were representatives from Annan Writers, Moffat Writers, Moffat Crime Writers, and Carlisle Writers. One of the original aims of the day event was to provide opportunities for beginners and nervous writers to find out about the groups and networks within the area, and at the end of the day there were several people who left with plans to contact or attend one of the groups.

What a fantastic day! Here is a little selection of the anonymous feedback which we received:

“Thank you for organising a great day!”

“Thank you for allowing this opportunity! It was an excellent day full of inspiration!”

“Very well organised.”

“Very enlightening, allowing all of us to expand our joy of writing.”

“Interesting combination of mindfulness (relaxing) and creative writing.”

“This was a great opportunity for me. Thank you! Please host another event like this!”

“Well done ladies!”

And thank you too for your kind words!

Thank you to everyone who attended our mindful writing day. We had a great time and it is obvious from the feedback that the participants did too! Thanks once again to DG Unlimited and Dumfries and Galloway Council whose kind support made the event possible, thank you to the Somerton House Hotel for providing a friendly and bright venue to work in, and to everyone at the Lockerbie Writers group for their hard work over the last few months.

We are already looking forward to the next one!

Writing Challenge – April 2019

This month, the prompt was this suitably spring-themed photograph of a vacuum cleaner!

Despite the fact that I find housework about as exciting as doing a tenth edit on a short story, you lot never fail to produce some fantastic pieces.

Read of for tales that will make you smile, think … and laugh!

‘They All Suck!’ by Laura Mason (*Contains explicit language!)

There Are Just So Many To Choose From,

And Quite Frankly I Don’t Give A Shit.

They All Suck The Same,

And Get Stuck On The Same Old Grit.

Be It Bagless, Bagged Or Compacted,

They All Suck The Same.

From Dyson, G-Tech To Henry,

It Makes No Difference To Me.

They Bring Out The ‘Feminine’ Colours,

To Entice I Am Sure.

But They Need To Get A Grip.

It’s A Fucking Hoover

Not A V8 Cruiser!

‘Modern Technology’ by Rita Dalgliesh

A new broom sweeps clean, was a cliche of the time.
Far better than bashing carpets on the washing line.

Then came the hoover; a great step forward.
Salesman’s patter; his advances flatter.

Labour saving sounded grand; buying one first-hand.
It’s a magic machine; hoover-head gets it clean.

On demonstration I’m dumbstruck; all that muck.
A sky blue carpet’s revealed. I’m mortified.

Here’s new technology; things becoming possible.
My carpet’s sucked hard by hoover head propelling.

I’m dancing with the Salesman now I’ve got time.
His patter worked as well as his machine.

‘Spring, my Dear’ by Rachel Kirkpatrick

Spring is here, it’s time to clear –
The cobwebs and clutter my dear
Dust and hoover. Listen, the birds are near.

Spring is here, it’s time to clear –
The garden & weeds my dear
Clear the paths, plant the seeds then have a beer.

Spring is here, it’s time to clear –
Your wardrobe out my dear
Out with old, and pull out new clothes to wear.

Spring is here, it’s time to clear –
Your mind, heart and soul my dear
Walk, do yoga and meditate with no fear.

Spring is here, it’s time to clear –
Your lungs my dear
Breath in the air out for a walk on the pier.

Spring is here my dear – Enjoy this time of year.

‘A Brown Penny Wish’ by Deborah Redden

Cara hoovers the carpet as if it were a lawn – up and down in perfect lines that decorate the living room with their military precision. No great surprise, you might say, given that today is the first of spring. But you see, the time of year makes no difference to Cara, be it Eastertide or the beginnings of Halloween, she’ll be slavishly scrubbing away, bleaching the worktops until they’re in danger of crumbling, and scrubbing at her skin until it’s red-raw, sore to the touch. She wants to stop, of course. But she can’t, the lines must be perfect. Every germ put to bed. Until then, there’ll be no sleep. No brake from the voices in her head that tell her she’s substandard; a gibbering wreck of damaged goods, as simple and worthless as a single brown penny.

‘The Constant Battle’ by Laura Mason

Oh Lord! It just never ends. The tumble weed of cat hair rolled past my feet, gliding effortlessly across the laminate flooring. The cats lounged and stretched, mewing at me. Like they had no idea of the constant hair collecting I had to contend with. I grabbed Henry. My trusty Henry. We have a love/hate relationship. He enjoys a good suck, but I just can’t be bothered. But today I would oblige and use him for what he was designed.

Thank you as ever to all the wonderful writers who have submitted a story or poem this month! It is always difficult to select the very best to feature here – but it’s a job which we love doing!

Have YOU been inspired to write? Check out our new monthly writing challenge!

New Venue for Morning Group

Today marked an exciting day for Lockerbie Writers as we made a move to a new venue.

As of today, the morning group will meet on alternate Tuesdays at the Townhead Hotel, Lockerbie.

Today also marked the first of our peer review sessions ahead of the completion of our second anthology – exciting times ahead for this enthusiastic group!

Lockerbie Writers, April 2019

Writing Challenge – December 2018

T’is the season for a festive writing challenge!

Grab your pens and keyboards …


Writing Challenge – December 2018

In 100 words or less, write a story or poem inspired by this photograph. (Hint: It’s a Christmas pudding racer toy out of a cracker! As always, it’s only a starting point!)

25-12-11 15 Christmas pudding racer.JPG

Entry Details, Terms and Conditions

  • To enter, simply add your entry as a comment on this blog post or on our Facebook post, or email it to kerrie_mckinnel@hotmail.com. Entries will be accepted until midnight, Monday 31st December 2018.
  • There is no prize or winner – it’s just for fun! All entries will be read by at least one member of Lockerbie Writers group, and their favourites will be published on this blog and/or on Facebook. Entries will be judged on criteria including originality, plot, and enjoyment.
  • 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!

Eskrigg Nature Reserve, August 2018

It is becoming a bit of a habit now that our little group will go on a summer outing, in the hope of inspiring some new pieces of writing. This year’s trip certainly didn’t disappoint as, notepads and pens in hand, we headed into the woods …

28-08-18 01 Welcome to Eskrigg Nature Reserve.jpg

On 28th August 2018, Lockerbie Writers ventured … well, just down the road really, to Eskrigg Nature Reserve. This tranquil woodland area, managed by Lockerbie Wildlife Trust, is home to all manner of birds, insects, squirrels and more. Off we headed in search of the wildlife, led by the Trust’s Jim Rae.

What a wonderful morning we had, enjoying stories about lonely apple trees, hardy rare plants, and the annual nut race (which we all agreed should be the title of Paula’s next children’s story). There were fantastical mushroom and plant names galore – my personal favourite was the amethyst deceiver mushroom, although I can also see the adder’s tongue fern popping up in a story somewhere.

28-08-18 06 Some of the group look at a rare fern

The day was overcast but it stayed dry for us, and the sun popped out long enough for a couple of butterflies to appear. Even the squirrels were obliging and entertained some of us by sauntering across the path right next to our feet – one even sat next to Frank to have his breakfast!

I, for one, had not appreciated the amount of hard work and community spirit which has gone into the reserve over the last thirty years. It really is a tribute to the community – and to Jim Rae’s dedication to the place – to hear him list all of the companies and voluntary groups who have donated their time and/or money over the years. It is such a great resource for learning but equally for a quiet morning’s walk or time for contemplation.

Led by our informative and enthusiastic guide, we spent a full two hours exploring the nature reserve, before returning to the picnic area for lunch and a chat about what we had seen. Most of us felt far too relaxed, surrounded by nature and birdsong, to think about writing much by this point – but we left full of ideas and inspiration, ready to produce our own stories and poems at home. I’m looking forward to our next meeting where we’ll all report back on what we have written.

Thank you to Jim Rae and Lockerbie Wildlife Trust for a fantastic and inspirational morning, and thank you to our own Paula for suggesting the venue and organising it. We look forward to sharing our resulting writing with Lockerbie Wildlife Trust and with you in the near future.

28-08-18 07 Sun coming down through the trees

Fallen Angels – Short Story

What would you write if given the prompt ‘Angela’? Would you draw on the memories of real-life people you’ve known with this name, or perhaps you’d already have a character in mind who would suit it?

This was the question faced by Lockerbie Writers this week and, while many of the group went down these more traditional lines, Kath chose to explore the meaning of the name and in particular the connection with angels. Sadly she didn’t get a chance to read her story out at this week’s meeting, but instead she has asked me to share it here on the blog.

Please take a few minutes to read this imaginative, clever story from one of our ambitious and enthusiastic members.



Fallen Angels by Kath J. Rennie

Just like that: whoosh … I was transported from my heavenly place, where I’d been lounging on a pink-cotton cloud, to here – a cold, damp embankment, where I am to live for the foreseeable … or, what if I can prove my worth to Arc-Angel Mother? I will be allowed back through the pearly gates, and awarded my first pair of wings; small, compact, yet sufficient enough to fly from one’s friend’s abode to another.

The larger wing set I will have to earn, and only then will I become a fully-fledged Angel. Until then (after not adhering to the Mother’s rule-book), I will have to get used to this body (if you can call it a body), but at least I can still think for myself. This is something I would not have been able to do if not accepting this punishment, and instead, I would have been sent down into fiery pits of hell, where Satan had argued in the court of universal law … “She should have been mine! Not given a second-chance, allowing her to be reincarnated on Earth.”

Reincarnation, I’d assumed, would be in human form and in a different body so I could call on my husband to check on him – and her, I suppose: the woman who’d stolen his heart from me, breaking mine into smithereens, causing my personality to become inflamed with revenge.

I had heard on the grapevine of her distaste for anything slimy – worms, slugs, amphibians – and had scoured this area before, where I now sit, to collect as many nasties as possible.

One evening, on finding her car sat outside ‘my once home’ with a window rolled down, my finds were deposited.

“They had only been placed in the car to frighten her!” I’d pled in court. “How was I to know she would be called away in the dead of night; drive on one of the busiest freeways? And collide with an oncoming truck!”

Death by fatal injection was not a pleasant experience; especially with having a fear of needles. And, experiencing waking up in a kind of no-man’s-land was scarier, having not been a believer.


The embankment is becoming noisier, alive with all manner of night life: otters, birds, bats, as dusk falls.

It is now free of families with children, who’d tried to catch me! “Ha ha,” I’d thought when evading their imprisonment.

A male human fishes on, alone. He looks depressed.

He’s familiar?

Could it be?

My chest pumps with joy. I try to shout out to him … “I’m here! I’m so, so sorry. Can you forgive me? You have to forgive me! If not, I am cursed to live in this green warty exterior.”

He turns. He looks to where I wait with longing for him, confident that when he looks into my eyes he’ll remember with me … with love.

He walks towards me.  He speaks my name. I croak out his, then remember, and realise too late, as his boot heads vertically my way: he’s always hated frogs!

02-09-15 06 Frogs.JPG

Writing Challenge – August 2018

Thank you for your responses to our dog photograph last month – what a mixture! It’s always fantastic to see what you come up with.

Once again, Lockerbie Writers bring you a writing prompt, and this month we’re going a little bit different …

Writing Challenge – August 2018

In 100 words or less, write a story or poem in response to this instrumental piece of music.

*TIP* Try listening to the whole piece first, giving it your full attention, and then free-write for a couple of minutes.

Entry Details, Terms & Conditions

  • 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 31st August 2018.
  • There is no prize or winner – it’s just for fun!
  • 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!