Thursday, 19 December 2013

Winner of the' Where would you take your Hamish?' Competition

We had a lovely morning on 1st December in Looking Glass Books in Edinburgh, when Sally J Collins and I told Hamish McHaggis stories and drew the winners of the ‘Where would you take your Hamish?’ competition, with the help of our young audience.
looking glass books event
And, of course Hamish came along too!  Here he is with a wee Hamish, and Sally!
sally with Hamish
Lauren Peattie was the lucky winner of the Hamish competition. Her picture was drawn from all the many entries.
Pictured here with Fiona from Longniddry Library, receiving her prize of a cuddly Hamish, a signed book (she chose Hamish McHaggis and the Search fro the Lost Prince)  and other Hamish goodies.
Well done, Lauren!

Miriam Jeavons, from Newington Library in Edinburgh, took Hamish to Fairyland and was runner up winning the Hamish McHaggis Activity and Story Book.
Here are some of the Hamish McHaggis entries…
From Prestonpans Library
Hamish Prestonpans 3Hamish Prestonpans 2

Hamish Prestonpans 4Hamish Prestonpans1
From Longniddry Library
And from Gullane Library


Friday, 8 November 2013

Where would you take your Hamish McHaggis? It's a competition!

Ever since the Hamish McHaggis toy arrived earlier this year I've had some lovely photos sent to me of Hamish with his new friends.  Hamish seems to get everywhere!  

So I decided it would be fun to run a competition with a bag of Hamish goodies as a prize. 


Here are some of the wee Hamish fans and where they take their Hamish!


Little Libby in New Zealand is a great Hamish fan. He goes everywhere with her! 

Libby and Hamish 

When her grandparents came to Scotland this summer they were under strict orders to get another Hamish  for her, just in case he got lost or worn out!

Matthew and Hamish

Little Matthew from West Lothian in Scotland likes to take his Hamish to bed with him, to ensure he has sweet dreams!


Zoe was visiting from Northern Ireland when she was delighted to spot Hamish in Waterstones  window in Princes Street, Edinburgh.

Eilidh with her Hamish

And this is the lovely Eilidh who loves her Hamish so much that when she was going to be a bridesmaid at her auntie's wedding she had to take Hamish along.

  He is looking very smart in this photo with his tartan bowtie!


And doesn't Eilidh look gorgeous in her bridesmaid dress!

Lucy and Alan  - Congratulations!

Hamish decided he just had to get his photo taken with the bride and groom!

Sheonad, Eilidh's mum, has a great blog. Do drop by and have a look.
Eilidh has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and her mum Sheonad is working to raise awareness of the condition.

Poppy with her Hamish in the Woods

 And this is Poppy who loves to go for long walks in the woods with her mummy and daddy, but Hamish often insists on going along, too!

 So where would you take your Hamish?

 The two winners will each get a Hamish cuddly toy,  Hamish goodies including a Hamish McHaggis book which will be dedicated  and signed by both myself and the illustrator Sally J. Collins. 
There will also be some runner up prizes of signed copies of the Hamish McHaggis Activity and Story book.

In conjunction with Looking Glass Books in Edinburgh we are running the competition for young Hamish fans.  All you have to do is download and print out this picture of Hamish

There will be a list of participating libraries on the lookingglassbooks facebook events page    you can also enter the competition by handing in your entry there, The libraries will also will be putting up displays of the entries.

All the information about the competition is also on the poster below
Once you have coloured in Hamish you can decide where you would take him.

Either draw and colour in the background of the picture with where you would take Hamish,  and take a photo of your picture

OR  cut out Hamish and take a photo of him in your favourite place.

Then click on the link below and upload your photo onto the competition page of the website Lookingglassbooks facebook events page   before midnight the closing date of St Andrew's Day - 30th November 2013. Winners will be drawn on Sunday 1st December at a special event in the Looking Glass Books Bookshop, Quartermile, 3 Porters Walk, EH3 9GG  Edinburgh.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Hey diddle de dee -a writer's life for me

Hey diddle de dee -a writer's life for me-   is a blog post I wrote for the Awfully Big Blog Adventure blog over a year ago... in case you missed it, I thought it was a bit of fun and worth sharing again!

 We writers are emotional beings. We live in our heads but our emotions rule.

Perhaps it is because we spend so much time living our characters' lives, feeling their joys and sorrows and getting angry or sad for them.

We journey through their roads of despair and frustration when we make things go wrong in their lives - as they always must, or there would be no story to tell.
For that very reason it is only on rare occasions that we can share their elation and joy when everything is going well.  Because as soon as we do we are plotting ways to make it all go horribly wrong again.

While all these emotional roller coasters are swooping around in our heads as we play God with our characters, in the big world outside we have families, commitments and other pressures to contend with.

As if that was not enough there are the emotional highs and lows, the joys and frustrations of being a writer....

8.30am  Full of enthusiasm for the day, determined that  lots will get written which will, without doubt turn out to be a bestseller.

9.00am  Phone call from  publisher who says YES! to a new book- Celebratory wild dance around the house-  until a neighbour is looking strangely at you through the window. Make coffee and prepare to start writing.

10.00    Notice that someone has written a scathing review on Amazon - depths of despair.

11.00  An invitation arrives by email to take part in a great new project, praises abound for your  skill and expertise. no one else will do.

12.00  The morning is over and not a word written - It is surely all rubbish anyway- can't write at all, should give it all up. Decide to give it one last try and find the flow.... just as the phone rings.

1pm   It is a call from mother she is unwell and needs to be taken to the doctor, NOW!

2pm  Check email on phone while at doctor's to discover there has been a spelling error on an advertising brochure for a festival you have been invited to. Unfortunately thousands have been printed already calling you not a writer but a Best Selling WILTER!  You check the dictionary to find out what a wilter is.
3pm    Arrive home determined to get an hour or two of solid writing before the day becomes a complete disaster and settle down, losing yourself in the domestic mayhem that surrounds your characters following the car accident you created yesterday ' just to spice things up a bit'.  You discover you have incapacitated a main character and written yourself into a corner. Aaargh!
4pm   Stomping around the room you step on the cat's tail, knock over your half drunk cup of coffee onto a pile of new books you had forgotten to put away and an important letter you should have posted yesterday.

5pm. After clearing up the mess you decide to take your mind off it to see if your subconscious can work out the problem with the plot while you mess about on facebook, and Twitter,and read a few blogs.

5 mins to 6  You have the solution.  Elated and typing furiously you are completely lost in the best thing you have written for ages, it is really happening on the page and nothing can stop you now...
6pm    The door bangs and your partner arrives back from work tired and hungry, asking if you are ready to leave because the reservation for the restaurant is for 7 and the traffic is dreadful.

 Your characters are in limbo, half reaching for each other, in mid argument, freeze framed.

 With your head still in their world, you close down the computer and attempt to look delighted as you prepare to leave them behind for an outing that had seemed like a good idea  just a few days before.

Little wonder that at times we feel we have writer's block, that nothing will work and ideas seem to turn to dust,when every plot line rolls off uselessly, like tumble weed blowing haphazardly into the wilderness.

Perhaps, as we live in our heads this is our subconscious telling us that it is time for a rest, a break from the constant highs and lows, time to re group, to let ideas float around in the air without trying to pin them down.

Even when it seems like there will never be another idea worth chasing to the rainbow's end,  eventually, like rising from a good sleep our creative self emerges unscathed.  

It is as if nothing has happened and we are ready to dip into other worlds and explore our characters and their emotions again.

What a delight!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Interesting meetings at Edbookfest!

I had a lovely audience at my Edinburgh Book Festival event, lots of great questions and it was
good to chat to some of the young readers afterwards in the signing tent.

One young lady said she was half way through Don't Judge Me and was really enjoying it but she already knew who had started the fire in the story.

When she told me who she thought it was, I suggested that she might change her mind as she read further on!

After my event I was going to be away for the rest of the first week of the book festival, tutoring a course for adults on Writing for Children at the Arvon Foundation Writer's Centre in beautiful Monick Mhor near Inverness, but more about that in my next blog.

In the second week of the book festival I had some interesting times.

I went to listen to Sophie MacKenzie who I was to be speaking with at the Bloody Scotland Crime Festival in September.

I was keen to hear her speaking about her latest YA novel Split Second. It was fascinating and her audience were obviously keen fans of her books.

I also had some interesting moments in the Author's Yurt, the 'green room'.  You never quite know who you will meet there.

These characters were perhaps stranger than most, although they did seem friendly!

I also met up two excellent writers Liz Kessler and Joanna Nadin and I went to listen to them talking about their very different books.
They were being introduced by Julie Gamble from Blackwells Bookshop.
Joanna Nadin and Liz Kessler
Jo Nadin, Liz Kessler and Julie Gamble
With Cat Clarke

Afterwards we all had fun catching up in the lovely sunshine outside the Yurt, where we were joined by local Edinburgh YA writer Cat Clarke.

Nicola Morgan was looking far too serious. I wondered if she was trying to work up a bit of a spell here, so I had to take a picture!

Not sure if it was the glorious sunshine this year but it seemed as if everyone was in playful mood!

Francesca Simon

Lots of fun was had by all until, for another year, the Edinburgh International Book festival drew to a close.

Summer festivals have been fun and it started at the seaside!

I am finally back at my desk after an incredibly busy couple of months and some interesting events and experiences.

At the beginning of August I started the festival season off in East Lothian at North Berwick's lovely Fringe by the Sea festival.

North Berwick and the white tents of The Fringe By The Sea Festival

This excellent festival runs for a week, just before its much bigger cousins in The Edinburgh International, Fringe and Book festivals get going.  It is a vibrant mixture of music, books, comedy and much more, all happening in the sunny seaside town of North Berwick.
It was really lovely to be at a festival somewhere so close to home and the sun always makes it even better.  

The Bass Rock
The very next day I was off to Charlotte Square for the start of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.  

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Some of my recent blog posts elsewhere...

I regularly blog for a couple of collaborative blogs such as ABBA  

and also  Picturebook Den

and in case you have missed them here are a few of my more recent blogs

It's all up in the air- creativity is so fragile  

 on ABBA fragile creativity can be

'It is a fragile thing this bubble of creativity and it can so easily be burst by negative thoughts and worries. '


'...the real joy, and angst..' of being a writer.

Some of the other things a writer does when they are not actually writing the 'book words'.

 On Picturebook Den the post  Getting to the heart of a picture book 

Busting some common misconceptions about how easy it must be to write a picture book evidenced by comments such as

'there are so few words' and 'it is just a story for little children'

How do you get to the heart of a picture book text?  
Do you need rhyme? How trying to make the text rhyme can push the story out of shape and make the text unwieldy.

Talking about where to start, and how hard it can be to make it work with so few words.

There are lots of great posts by the other contributors on both ABBA and Picturebook Den, all members of the 'other SAS' the Scattered Authors Society,  so why not drop by !

Friday, 23 August 2013

Bloody Scotland - International Festival of Crime

 A spatter of blood as a map of Scotland - it can only mean the Bloody Scotland Crime Festival

13th-15th September 2013   If you love reading crime it's a weekend to DIE for!

I am delighted to have been asked to take part in Bloody Scotland this year and I am sharing the stage with Sophie McKenzie, a fantastic writer and the award-winning author of a whole range of teen thrillers.

It looks like being a really interesting afternoon. Our event is called  Breaking the Boundary and will  give us a chance to chat about how we go about writing our books and what the challenges are when writing teenage crime novels. Come along and ask you own questions!

There is such an amazing programme of events, welcoming a fabulous array of crime writers from all over the world as well as a host of our own fabulous Tartan Noir. There is something for everyone to enjoy, discover new books and another writer to add to your reading list.

There are events with Lee Child, Jo Nesbo and Arne Dhal, Lin Anderson, Alanna Knight, Quentin Jardine, Alex Gray, Denise Mina, Christopher Brookmyre and Val McDermid and a host of other great writers.

On the website you can vote for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year award and the Short Story Competition. You can book tickets and find out more about all the wonderful events and authors.
Definitely not to be missed!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A picture book for wee Prince George.

With all the excitement over the new arrival it seemed timely to look at a book set in Balmoral.  The Queen is about to set off for her annual holiday at Balmoral and, when he is a little older, William and Kate's new baby will no doubt join the rest of Royal family there for a holiday.

Hamish McHaggis and the Lost Prince

This Hamish adventure is not only set in the grounds and hills around Balmoral but Angus, the pine marten, has a chance encounter with the Queen and her corgis!

Hamish and his friends are asked by Shona, the red squirrel, if they will come up to Balmoral to help the other animals find the lost prince.   Rupert is very excited because he is looking forward to meeting royalty so he is a little disconcerted to discover the prince in question is a deer prince, the son of the Monarch of the Glen. (on the cover!)

Hamish McHaggis cuddly toy
Angus manages to get lost, as often happens, and meets the Queen out walking with her corgis.    A lovely heart warming story for all ages with delightful illustrations by the talented Sally J. Collins.