Autumn Daze #writing #authortalk #reading

Home to autumn

I recently returned home to Scotland from a month away visiting family in Australia. I left behind Queensland’s hot and sunny springtime and came back to misty, mellow autumn days at home. So what with the jetlag and the dramatic change in the weather and daylight hours, it’s taken a wee while for me to get back into my writing rhythm.

But I do love the autumn. I take a childish delight in walking through fallen leaves and I love the quality of the light and the crisp fresh air. So I’ve been alternating spells at the desk with lots of nice long walks.

Back to work at the writing desk

And, as my writing schedule from now until the end of the year is pretty full-on, I intend to continue to find time for these mind-clearing, restorative and refreshing outdoor spells.

My first task on returning to work was to begin the redraft of the manuscript for my latest novel. I’ve made good progress with that and, after a bit more rewriting of certain sections, it will be ready to go off to the editor. The new book is called Fulfilment. It’s the third and final part of my Skye series of novels and it will be out early next year.

Author Talk

And speaking of Skye, where I lived when I write the first two books in the above-mentioned series, I’m heading back there this week on author business. I’ll be there as my alter-ego, children’s author Anne McAlpine, to talk about The Silver Locket, my Bonnie Prince Charlie/ timeslip novel for 9 to 12 year-olds. I’m going to be doing an author talk at one of the island’s primary schools and will also be doing writing workshops with some of the pupils. I am looking forward to it very much.

Book Sale

Then when I get back, I’ve got the pre-Christmas gathering and lunch of the Facebook group – Authors and Book Bloggers in Scotland – to go to in Edinburgh. And at the end of November I have a table at the local Craft & Gift Fair where I’ll be selling my books.

Lots of Reading

When I do find time to relax – and I will – then, of course, I’ll be reading. I read a lot of good books when I was away in Australia including, naturally lots of contemporary romance as well as a couple of cracking crime novels. Among the best were –

in crime: Lin Anderson’s Time for the Dead and Ann Cleeves’ Wildfire

in romance: The Day We Meet Again by Miranda Dickinson, Tropic Storm by Stella Quinn, Autumn at Blaxland Falls by Eliza Bennets and The Life She Deserves by Maggie Christensen.

And I’m currently reading and very much enjoying Kathryn Freeman’s latest contemporary second-chance romance – Reach For a Star

Questions for you

So, I reckon that’s us up to date. But before I go I’d like to ask if you have a favourite season and if so what is it that especially appeals to you about it? Also what books have you enjoyed reading recently and what are you currently reading?

As always please do leave comments below.

 

Autumnal Thanksgiving

Feelin' good

The last time I posted about ‘my natural world’ here on Skye, it was summer. I took one day in the garden and tried to give a snapshot of that Hebridean summer’s day and of how it felt to be alive and in it. I decided then to write about the whole seasonal cycle – for one year.

And so, now, with the first frosts here at sea level – and snow on the tops, I better try to capture autumn before it’s gone. We’ve already had Atlantic gales and horizontal rain but we’ve also had glorious mackerel skies, beautiful golden dawns and fiery red sunsets.

Pleiades Star Cluster
Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday was an archetypal autumn day. It followed a wonderfully clear night, when because of the absence of streetlighting in these parts, I’d been able to see the waxing, gibbous moon in all its glory flanked by Jupiter and Saturn with all the stars of the Pleiades constellation in between.  I always find that observing the night sky serves as a gentle reminder to me from the universe that my life is miniscule. This fact doesn’t depress me. I welcome the reminder to make the most of it. I welcome the reminder to be grateful that I’m still here – that the reprieve I got with the remission of my cancer didn’t come with any kind of guarantee,  that eternity is indifferent to my survival, that the world turned before me and will continue to do so long after I’m gone. I’m glad to be nudged to appreciate all that is good in my life and not to sweat the small stuff. 

 So yesterdayI left the chores, the desk and the stresses of the week behind and  I spent some time outdoors. I walked along the single track road that runs through the small crofting township where I live. I also spent time renewing my acquaintance with my own garden.  After the clocks go back, I never see my house and its surroundings in daylight during the working week. So to have a crisp, clear, sunny, November Saturday is a joy and a bonus. The only sounds were from the animals and birds – geese bickering, hens fussing, sheep calling from field to field – even the roosters were still in good voice mid- morning, vying with each other to give the best fanfare. The loch was flat calm – not even the normal background noise of the tidal rush. Woodsmoke hung in the air, permeating the atmosphere with that unmistakable incensey fragrance.

That big Skye sky!

 

deserted croft house

The house above is about half way along the track. Word is it’s haunted. People who’ve been in feel a presence… One day I mean to write a short story about it…

The hens, sheep and pigs all seemed to be enjoying the sun too.

 And in the garden there’s a family of hedgehogs preparing for hibernation under the fuschia hedge, rabbits running around when they think no-one’s watching, and a mad hen who sneaks in to steal the seed we put out for the wild birds and who the husband chases with a mop.

Agapanthus seedhead

 

Lichen on the stone of the garden wall

 

our new and beautiful dry-stane dyke

We have new dry-stone walls – built from reclaimed sandstone from the original croft buildings. The lichens and moss have colonised them already and they look old and weathered and as if they’ve always been there. Beautiful to look at and lovely to touch – a link to the croft’s past, to those who’ve gone before and to the very geology of the planet.

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...
Image via Wikipedia

It was a precious day – a worthwhile pause before the ever darker days that lead to the winter solstice. Full spectrum light does the body and soul good, and putting a little time aside to reconnect with our beautiful, little, blue planet and the rhythms of the universe is a worthwhile investment.

 

Big Pants Don’t Lessen the Lust for Life

 

Acer platanoides in autumn colors.
Image via Wikipedia
Personification of Autumn (Currier & Ives lith...
Image via Wikipedia

It’s official – according to the BBC, the UK summer is over. Apart from wondering if it had ever actually got started, I must admit that the passing of another summer makes me stop and think. Ever since I turned fifty( a small number of years ago), I seem to have developed a hyper-awareness of time passing.  It’s also  my birthday very soon so the ‘another year older’ factor is to the fore and that also causes me to pause and reflect.

 It can’t be denied that the body  slows down and changes. Things creak, whistle and gurgle. Bits that used to stay in place all by themselves need to be cantilevered into position. Big pants, comfy shoes and cosy cardis are now acceptable wardrobe items. HRT and antacid tablets are the drugs of choice. Skin and hair are drier than a box of shreddies. And on a windy day the jowly bits around the jawline flap alarmingly and could have your eye out.

But that’s just the outer shell. Inside  my head, I’m not a middle-aged, post-menopausal old bag – that’s just what the mirror tells me. Yes, I sometimes feel I’ve seen it all before. But I also feel there’s still so much to learn.  In the last few months I’ve taught myself to twitter, to facebook (is that a verb?) and to blog. And yes, I may get jaded at school with constant new initiatives, targets and forests of paperwork, but the children are still a joy, still fascinating and challenging and rewarding to teach  – and learn from. And there’s still lots of things on my ‘to do before I bu**er off’ list. (And no, the asterisked word in the previous sentence is neither ‘butter’ or ‘buffer’).

So, bring it on. Let the nights draw in. There’s the autumn days with their glorious light and colour to look forward to and the big, starry Hebridean night skies to gaze at and enjoy.

All in all I think autumn is my favourite season – so far…