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about writing and life and God

Bonnie Dundee

Though I didn’t actually see much of it today. Instead I spent a happy and very useful day in the company of members of the Association of Christian Writers at their first-ever Scottish Writers Day hosted by Dundee crime writer, Wendy H. Jones.

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The event was held at the City Church Dundee which is located in an old Friary.

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A goodly number of us from Scotland, the North of England and as far away as Norfolk and London turned up to enjoy (and benefit from) each other’s company, three excellent talks (by Wendy H. Jones, Jane Clamp, and Margaret Skea) and three excellent workshops.

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I had forgotten just how energising and inspiring being with other writers is. We were a motley bunch today – wannabes and much-published authors and all stops in between, but everyone mutually supportive and encouraging.

Maybe it goes back to the days when human beings were nomads, hunting and gathering and getting together with others of their tribe for festivals and celebrations… but it still feels good to meet up with one’s tribe. For me, a Scottish Christian Writers day ticks all the boxes!

Over coffee and tea and cake and lunch of home-made soup and a bookstall displaying an impressive range of members’ books, we chatted, compared notes on the various forms of publishing available to us nowadays. Tips and contacts and email addresses were exchanged, and promises to friend on Facebook and keep in touch.

A really good and worthwhile day. The organisers deserve warm thanks and should be made to promise they’ll do it again next year! I’ll certainly be there.

 

 

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Day Twenty-three: On the road again

I love my sat nav. In cities it is an absolute boon. So this morning it took me safely through Aberdeen to Bridge of Don for coffee with yet another lovely friend I haven’t seen for (whoops!) we think 47 years! But we recognised each other and it was great to catch up on the years with laughter and happy memories. And then it guided me through Aberdeen and out onto the road to Dundee.

A perfectly timed stop for a sandwich (and a chunky KitKat) gave me the energy for the last talk of the tour.

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In full flow!

Once more organised by my friend and fellow member of the Association of Christian Writers, Wendy Jones, at the Priory, I had an attentive and responsive audience drawn from the City Church Dundee.

Having sold out of copies of my novel, When the Boats Come Home, in Wick, we needed to call on Mark and Iain of the CLC Bookshop in Dundee for further supplies – which didn’t last long!

And so, a couple of hours later, I was drinking tea at my friends’ home in Tayport – the last talk of the tour over and the road for Halesworth and home beckoning. It’s been good. It’s been tiring. Time tomorrow maybe to reflect on lessons learnt. For next time?

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Day Twenty-two: An Aberdeen Sunday

Sunday morning I went with my eight-year-old great-niece to the nearby Church of Scotland. Those of my readers who are not Scots may find the name a bit of a tongue-twister: Auchaber and Auchterless. The first Sunday of the month is their joint service so the Auchaber church was full and a very tempting summer lunch of soup and sweets was on offer.

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We walked to church – a good mile or so – and there was plenty to see and talk about as the young one skipped along at my side, including the famous sheep.

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The famous sheep

They are famous, she explained, for being famous. I think she has a very clear grip of the modern concept of celebrity!

After lunch, I set off down the Inverurie road, through beautiful countryside – rich meadows and mountains.

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And arrived at Aberdeen, the city where I went to University for my first degree – and to the home of one of the friends I shared a flat with in second year. To my delight, one of our other flatmates had turned up to surprise me! After joyful reunions and catch-ups, we went down to Old Aberdeen and took a long amble round the places of our youth, remembering folk we had known and incidents from the past.

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Old Aberdeen

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King’s College Chapel, Aberden

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Before the book tour

Only a few days to go before I set off on my longest solo trip ever. It is a little daunting but God says ‘Don’t worry. I go ahead of you’ and other comforting things so I’m holding onto trust as best I can. The trip is 24 days long, visiting places mentioned in my new novel, When the Boats Come Home, giving talks and readings to churches, church groups, bookshops and libraries. I’m driving, and it will be a 1500 mile round-trip – not counting any detours, extra bits or days out!

When the Boats Come Home cover

I start in Edinburgh, go on to Dundee, then head on up to Wick. Then I retrace my steps to Inverness, go across to Aberdeenshire, back to Dundee, and then home.

One of the delights of this planned trip is going to be meeting up with lots of old friends and new. When my mother was alive, I used to nip up to Wick quite often to visit but then spend all the available time with her so my friends from home got neglected. I’m hoping to remedy that this time! The first week of my trip I’ll be staying with friends from my university days… Will we recognise each other? How much will we have changed? I’m looking forward to hearing their stories of how their lives have turned out.

Thanks to Facebook and the Association of Christian Writers (and the Christian Authors, Booksellers and Publishers page) , I’ve ‘met’ lots of new friends and this trip is going to allow me to meet some of them for real.

So yes, daunting and exciting. I haven’t started packing yet – haven’t even started writing the packing list!

I’ll be taking my laptop etc with me and plan to take pics and write the blog as I go so you’ll be very welcome to keep me company as I travel along. And I’d welcome your prayers too! Not just for me as I travel and speak, but that God will use this trip to spread the good news of His amazing transforming love.

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When NaNo isn’t good enough

This is my declaration of intent: I’m quitting NaNoWriMo. I’ve written 30,156 words and I’m grateful that the process has broken my writer’s block. But…

 

Because as a Christian I won’t work Sundays, I had to write 2,000 words a day to reach the target. And imperceptibly I began to lose the joy, the delight in the story. Facing my desk each day became a chore. And that’s unheard of for me!

I also began to feel that I was short-changing my story, my characters and the Holy Spirit Who inspires me. I wanted to go back to page one and take my time to get it much more ‘right’ rather than simply focus on churning out 2,000 words a day.

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A Mizpah ring

A Mizpah ring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I’ve allowed myself two days ‘off’. Instead of slamming down words for words’ sake, I’ve allowed myself the pleasure of reacquainting myself with the research notes I made when this story of the Mizpah Ring  first captured my heart. And I’m in love again. There’s so much more than I had remembered in the frenetic NaNo days.

So I’m going back to my way of doing things: I’ll aim for a flexible one hour or one thousand words a day, approximately. And I’ll immerse myself in the research. I’ve already discovered previously unknown connections between the Highland Clearances and Manitoba, fascinating eye-witness accounts of Buenos Aires in 1900 – and I can’t wait to weave them into my book, knowing it will be the better for it.

What’s more, I now have energy and time to give to the promotion of my novel, When the Boats Come Home, due out in paperback, Kindle and e-book around 12th December. I had a day when I could enjoy a lovely virtual cup of tea with Donna Fletcher Crowe (http://internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.com/2014/11/talking-over-teacups-with-dorothy.html?showComment=1416417394318#c7014225846557850925). And there’s plenty more to do – and enjoy.

When the Boats Come Home cover

My verdict on NaNoWriMo? It’s great and I’m grateful. But now I’m out of the shallow end with the new book, I need room to forge ahead at my own pace. I’ll keep you posted!

 

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Now for something new!

I’ve got nice things to report so I’m back onto the blogosphere.

First, I’ve signed the contract for publication of my novel about the Scots fisher girls. I’ve blogged about it quite a bit – so I’m delighted to share the news. There will be an e-book (all major versions) as well as a paperback. And the final title? When the Boats Come Home. More details of publication date, price etc. when I know them.

This is it!

This is it!

And yes, I know… I worked in book publishing all my working life. Ten of my books have seen the light of day so far. But I freely confess: I am so excited!

The other thing? I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. I’ve registered and pledged to write 50,000 words of a first draft of a new novel (starting tomorrow 1st November) by the end of November. I know which book idea I want to get started on and I reckon this is the way to stop the dithering and havering, and just get down to work. Oh and again I confess: I’m excited about it!

And glad that lots of friends from Association of Christian Writers and here in Suffolk are going to be doing NaNoWriMo too. Hopefully, we’ll encourage one another so we all reach the finishing line! Pretty much like the Christian life, really. Encouragement matters! So thank you to everyone who has encouraged me along the way. I’m grateful!

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