about writing and life and God

Getting Ready

I have rearranged my study. I have sorted out the books on the shelves that face me when I’m at work at my desk and I’ve packed away the non-writing books, replacing them with relevant writing books and book files.

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Books packed away

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Research and admin folders

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Books to inspire!

And I’m beginning to feel better – ready to get down to work again on the novel.

I popped out to the supermarket to stock up on food and met my next-door neighbour as I was going in. I had come home from a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discover that she had cut her own front lawn and then cut mine. She is slightly over eight months pregnant. Her last child weighed in on arrival at 10 lbs and she reckons this one will compete – so cutting grass astounded me. Just as well I was out! I’m sure I’d have scolded and protested!

She wouldn’t accept a lift home from the supermarket either. Walking, she said, would do her good. She preferred to be doing things. She was ready for the birth, she said. It’s time this one arrived.

And as I sort my study and lug heavy boxes of books into the storeroom, I recognise myself in my pregnant neighbour. I’m getting ready for the labour of getting Book 2 of the Mizpah Ring birthed and into the world. And like my neighbour, I’m impatient. Because it’s time!

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Planning a book trip

I’m off on the road again in a few days. Only ten days this time – a weekend at either end mainly taken up with travelling – but I’m booked to give three talks on the new book, The Mizpah Ring, up in my home town of Wick.

Today I’m at that lose-endish stage – too soon to pack, too close to launch into anything much. The excitement/anticipation is building nicely and I’m wondering should I do a daily trip blog like last time? It helped me process the experiences of each day and I printed it out when I got home so I had a lovely record of the places I’d been and the people I’d spent time with.

There were so many highlights last time – from spectacular scenery, hunting haggis in the rain, reunions with friends after far too many years… I’m hoping this time will be just as good. I’m planning to check out some of the locations I’m using in the new book. Wick was a very interesting place during the second world war with a large air base for Coastal Command and the war in Norway. My sister and I are planning some recce trips for authentic background.

I shall be driving (665 miles each way) because I need to bring books with me for sale. Last time I had sold out before the end of my trip so this time I’ll take more than I think I’ll need. I have a solid order for both When the Boats Come Home and Mizpah Ring from one rather special retail outlet: the last shop on the mainland of the UK- right at the end of the road at John O’Groats! If you’re ever there, do drop in for a browse. Their range of Scots-interest books is second to none.

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Harbour at John O’Groats

I’m hoping the weather will be reasonable – especially for the drive. But I was horrified to overhear a snippet of conversation this morning which concluded: ‘Oh yes,snow. The mountains are full of it.’ I hope they were talking about Switzerland!

Anyway, planning. The packing list looks like:

  • Smart outfit for talks
  • Comfortable,warm clothes and walking shoes for trips out with my sister
  • Books – to sell – and promotional postcards to give away – and a decent ‘signing’ pen!
  • Books – to read at all those solo stops along the road!
  • Notebooks and pens
  • iPad and charger for Facebook and soothing sudoku etc
  • Camera and usb cable
  • Laptop for emails and blog
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Kindle and charger – in case I run out of reading material
  • Diary, and address book (for sending post cards)

and much more besides!

I’ll pack tomorrow!




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The packing stage

One and a half bags packed.

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I’ll need another for my books – Bible, diary, study guides, pens and notebooks. And then of course there will be  a few boxes of books – my books, for sale.


And the technology bag with my kindle, iPad, laptop, and all the miscellaneous chargers and bits and pieces. And of course the last-minute things hurriedly stuffed into more bags and squeezed into corners in the car.

I’ve packed enough for eight days – because it will be six days till I get to my sister’s and her washing machine, and the weather may not be good for drying clothes so I may need another couple of changes. And then I remember Jesus sending His disciples out in Luke 9. ‘He told them “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic”.’

I’ve packed several tunics – t-shirts – long-sleeve ones and short-sleeve. I’ve debated about the bag. My preference is for my backpack – but I suppose I’ll need a ladylike handbag too. I don’t use a staff (though I hope His rod and staff will be going with me,along with Him). No bread? I was planning on apples, and some bottled water. No money! Ah, but what about credit cards? Do they count?

I think I travel light, compared to many women. When I lived and worked in Northern Nigeria, I could travel for three months round Europe on one medium-sized suitcase thanks to that amazing book, Europe on $10 a day, which taught me about minimalism, and stringing up washing in hotel bedrooms.

Now I’ve written this, I’m tempted to race back into my bedroom and hurl half my packing back in the wardrobe! But I won’t. I remind myself why I’m doing this.  My task of sharing the good news of God’s love needs to be lived as well as preached – and that means turning up travel-stained and rumpled just won’t do. It doesn’t honour either my heavenly Father Who looks after me magnificently or His people whom I’m going to be visiting.

So, back to the packing and finding that happy moderation that will work for this trip without hassle!


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