August 2014 – A Month at Home

August’s hot sunny weather was interspersed with days of drizzle and spells of heavy rain. Despite this, my daughter Caryl and grandchildren Joe and Cerys enjoyed their stay. Caryl achieved a personal best time in the Islay Half-Marathon, but the highlight was kayaking round Kilnaughton Bay with This was an energetic afternoon during which they landed at the bottom of our garden for a snack.

While she was here, my daughter proofread Clickfinger, Book Two of The Hagstone Chronicles. That was extremely helpful and I was delighted that she found only two typos and no more than three points needing clarification. I did one more careful read through and sent it off to my publisher.

On a trip to Colonsay to deliver more copies of ‘Cry at Midnight’ I was joined by John Humphries, Editor of Scottish Islands Explorer. As I’ve been writing for the magazine since 2009 it was good to finally meet him for a face-to-face chat. My article – Inspired by Tiree, about the writing of Cry at Midnight, appeared in the new issue with the added bonus of my photo of Dun Mor Vaul on the back cover.

Colonsay Bookshop again sold out of ‘Cry at Midnight’ so I went up to Port Askaig to see if I could find someone to take a parcel of 12 copies over for me. I approached one car and the four people inside looked aghast. It turned out they were from the US where one never accepts a parcel from anyone. Luckily, we got talking and I discovered that the driver was an author too. Even so, he wouldn’t agree to take the parcel until he’d checked with a Calmac official that it was OK. I suppose I could have been smuggling drugs or guns, or wanting him to plant a bomb on board; but regarding people with such suspicion struck me as a sad reflection on the state of the world. I’m so glad I live in the Hebrides.

A week later I had to repeat the process with another twelve copies, but this time without difficulty. Sales are doing well on Islay too. Bruichladdich Distillery shop have sold twelve copies and ordered another twenty.

The first review of ‘Cry at Midnight’ appeared on the Friends of Colonsay Facebook page – a glowing report from eleven year old Amelia Neilson who bought the book while on holiday.Since then, further reviews have appeared on Amazon where the book is now available on Kindle.

The garden has been a joy, the heather has come into bloom and the fuchsia is heavy with its tasseled blooms; but nothing gives me more pleasure than the wildflowers that arrive of their own accord. Spear thistles are attracting goldfinches in search of seeds and sea aster is growing among the rocks at the bottom of the garden. This is especially welcome as few plants can survive the endless spray from salt-laden waves.

The end of the month sees us packing for a brief holiday at Callander before taking part in The Callander Poetry Weekend where I will be reading from ‘Slate Voices: Islands of Netherlorn’.