Reading, Writing and the Rhythm of Life

 

The clocks have gone back and it’s early dark, but rather than going into hibernation I seem to be nicely busy.

There’s been reading, writing and several coffee and cake dates with friends. And I’m really looking forward to attending the latest of the Atlas Arts talks this coming Saturday. I’ve enjoyed all of the Atlas talks I’ve been to this year. It’s a great local organisation that promotes the work of artists from all over the UK. This week it will be Nicky Bird talking about her work with photography and new media. You can read more about Atlas at http://www.facebook.com/atlasartpeopleplace  or on twitter at @skyeatlas

And it’s a collage of a post this week – a book review, a round-up of how my writing’s going and a general witter on my life as a busy old bat.

First, the book review. It’s been a while since I read a proper page-turner of a novel – a book that keeps me from getting to sleep at a sensible hour. So it was lovely to discover Louise Douglas’s ‘The Secrets Between Us’. Having previously read and greatly enjoyed two other novels by this author – ‘The Love of my Life’ and ‘Missing You’, I was hoping for an equally enjoyable experience this time. I wasn’t disappointed.

With its shades of Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ this contemporary, romantic, thriller is gripping right from the start. Even although I worked out whodunnit quite a while before the end, I was still in suspense to see how it all played out. My only gripe – and it’s a small one was that the ending was a little rushed and underplayed. But I do recommend the book to fans of Du Maurier and Douglas.

As for my own writing, I seem to have got my mojo back. The creative flow has been a bit interrupted  – and even blocked –  of late, with both work and family stuff having to take priority. But I resolved during my half-term holiday from school to get back to the desk. Or, rather, to set up a new desk.

Family circumstances have meant that my little granddaughter currently has my study as a bedroom. So, I bought a laptop with a nice big screen, a set of good earphones in order to listen to music while I work and block out the noise of the TV, and I’ve set up my office on the dining-room table. And so far so good.

I’ve entered my children’s novel in the ‘Myslexia’ magazine children’s book competition. I’ve entered a reworking of the Hansel and Gretel tale in the competition being run jointly by the National Library of Scotland, Scottish Ballet and the Scotsman newspaper. I’ve written my contribution to the December issue of writing magazine, ‘Words with Jam’.

But the thing I’m most chuffed about is getting back to my partly written, second ‘grown-up’ novel. Yesterday evening, I began re-reading the 80,000 words I’ve written so far. I haven’t looked at it for a few months and I was pleasantly surprised (she says modestly). It was great to be back with the characters and get re-involved in their lives. Now I’m really looking forward to spending my evenings in the company of these people and completing the telling of their story.

I’ve also put three more competitions into my writing diary for early in the new year.

And it won’t be long before 2013 is here. I know everyone of my age finds that time whizzes past, but I suspect that living by the termly rhythm of the school year, makes the passage of time go even faster. At school we’ve just had the excitement of Halloween and bonfire night and this Friday will see staff and pupils all wearing red in honour of armistice day. Then it’s our mega fundraising day for ‘Children in Need’ with lots of Pudsey related activities –  before we career towards the Christmas concert, parties and Santa’s arrival.

Autumn is well and truly ensconced on Skye  – and winter has already run some preview trailers. The crunch and smell of fallen leaves, the woodsmoke and the early morning mists have been trumped by icy roads and pavements. Even the fireworks display had to compete with a heavy snowfall on Saturday evening to win the wow-factor contest.

I’m bracing myself for the short days and very long nights that you get this far north in December and January. But the long evenings mean plenty of time to write. There’s also the granddaughter’s first birthday to look forward to –  as well as the magic that is Christmas. And then the holidays should provide an opportunity to get engrossed in a good book – or two…

Bring it on!

 

Free Summer Read – a story to lose yourself in

Some shameless self-promotion!

A book for the ‘fabulous 45-and-over generation of wonderful and discerning women’ and anyone else who’d like honorary membership. The perfect lazy summer afternoon read – whether on sun lounger or in little cottage sheltering from the rain – ‘Change of Life’ will be free to download to Kindle from late on Friday 3rd August until Tuesday 7th August.

See below for more info:

‘Change of Life’ by Anne Stormont

A tale of life. A poignant mix of sadness, hope and love.

Be careful what you wish for…

Wife to Tom and mother to four adolescent children, Rosie feels taken for granted as she juggles family life and her work as a teacher. She longs for a change.

When she hits a teenage boy with her car, her life veers into unpredictable and uncharted territory. The boy is Robbie – and Rosie discovers he is part of a terrible secret that Tom has kept from her for seventeen years. Then Rosie is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Rosie leaves home and begins the fight for her life. Meanwhile heart surgeon, Tom, learns what it means to be a husband and father. He struggles to keep his family together and strives to get his wife back.

‘A good convincing voice that had me identifying with the characters from the outset.’ David Wishart, Novelist

‘It’s a real emotional roller-coaster of a read. I was completely involved in the characters and their lives.’ Romantic Novelists’ Association.

A new voice in contemporary women’s fiction

Click link in sidebar to go to Amazon

May the force of the darling buds be with you

Another month has ended. My real life, my writing life and my working life have all been very busy throughout April and May doesn’t look as if it will be any quieter.

In real life, the Easter holidays were enjoyable and fun. The husband recovered from his lurgy and we got over the disappointment of our cancelled holiday. This was made easier when our daughter, son-in-law and our gorgeous granddaughter, Eva, came to stay. The wee one is four months old now and smiles and babbles away at anyone who pays her any attention. She also developed a liking for one of our floor-lamps and it got the most enthusiastic chatter of any of us – especially when lit.

And then it was back to school. It was lovely comparing notes with the granny colleagues as several of us had been able to spend time with our grandbabies during the break. It’s hard to believe that it’s term four already and that the school year will end in eight weeks time. We’re already preparing for the new intake of five-year-olds in August and it only feels like yesterday that our present Primary Ones arrived. The school is already going Olympics crazy and there is an absolute extravaganza of stuff planned for the next few weeks – all related to the Games.

As for the writing – it can be hard going after a busy day at school but I usually make it to my desk after dinner – and I always get a bit done at the weekends. Novel number two is coming along nicely. I’m two-thirds of the way through the first draft and I’m at that stage where the characters are always with me – and I half expect to meet them at the co-op they are so real to me.

I was very chuffed to be mentioned on the cover of April’s issue of Words with Jam, http://www.wordswithjam.co.uk/  the writers’ magazine that I’m a ‘staffer’ on. I’ve been with the magazine from the start but never had billing on the front page before. The founding editor, Jane Dixon-Smith, is amazing and has taken WWJ from solely free online editions to e-format and print versions. It is now a well-established, high circulation and entertaining and informative journal. The staff is even getting paid now!

I was also very pleased with the results of offering my novel ‘Change of Life’ as a free download for Kindle on one weekend in April. Hundreds of copies were downloaded and paid sales also experienced a boost afterwards. The book made it to number 3 on the Kindle paid Women’s Fiction chart on Amazon and to number 63 in the paid general fiction Kindle chart. I did enjoy my fifteen minutes of fame.

And still on the subject of writing I have also joined The Alliance of Independent Authors http://allianceindependentauthors.org/ . This is a new body started by Orna Ross and it aims to support, represent and advise independent authors and looks well worth being a member of if you’re a ‘struggling’ indie author.

As for island life – well – lambing is over. The weather has been amazingly good and the lambing snow has been confined to the hilltops. Foxes are proving to be a pest as always and a colleague lost a lamb the other night to Mr Fox. I know they have to eat but it’s the way they just take the head that gives me the shivers – and they leave behind these wee headless corpses. On a happier note, there’s already a healthy number of tourists enjoying our beautiful surroundings.

The days are lengthening and the beautiful sunny days are ending with spectacular sunsets and magnificent displays of the Northern Lights. For some amazing photos of the Aurora over Skye go here: http://www.glendaleskye.com/sightings.htm#aurora .  Skye is truly Hebridean heaven at the moment.

Slainte Mhath to all my readers and tioraidh for now.

Change of Life – an award-winning novel for thinking women…

I’ve not done this for a while and I felt the time was about right for a wee bit of self-promotion. I apologise to those who have either read my novel already or who are sick of hearing about it. This post is not for you.

For those readers still here and who would like to know more about the book – here goes…

‘Change of Life’ is my first novel. I guess the target readership is women – and mainly those in the 40 plus post-chicklit age range. It’s contemporary, romantic fiction for intelligent women – a tale of love, life and loss.

It’s available on Amazon in paperback at £7.99 and for Kindle on special offer at 86p. Click on the book cover in the sidebar to buy.

You can read the first chapter here http://wp.me/PLpGB-3c

Reviews so far have been very pleasing – see them on Amazon. And if you do/have read it and liked it please do click the like button on the Amazon page – and consider doing a review of your own – especially if you enjoyed it 🙂

A novel for those who are over ‘Chick-Lit’

Shameless self-promotion alert!

I thought this would be a good time f0r a bit of a summer book promo.

Are you, or any of the grown-up, intelligent women in your life looking for a good beach, cottage, staycation read? If yes, then please consider my novel ‘Change of Life’. According to Amazon reviews it’s ‘delicious’ , ‘moving’, ‘gripping’ and ‘romantic’.

The book is available on http://www.amazon.co.uk and http://www.amazon.com and is in both paperback and ebook format.

Below is the press release for the book:

New Generation Publishing

Prize-winning novel ‘Change of Life’ – for those who are over ‘Chick-Lit’.

‘Change of Life’ by Anne Stormont, winner of Edinburgh Writer’s Club 2010 Unpublished Prize, has been receiving rave reviews and lots of  interest. In particular its appeal is to those readers who have graduated from ‘Chick-Lit’ – an intelligent, mature readership.

Anne Stormont set about writing the novel following a cancer diagnosis from which she has fully recovered. She lives in the stunningly scenic Hebrides and is currently writing a second novel.

‘CHANGE OF LIFE’ is an emotional tale, full of warmth, love, hope and moments of sadness – a contemporary story of a modern family under pressure – with very real and three-dimensional characters.

Be careful what you wish for… Wife to heart surgeon and control
freak, Tom and mother to four adolescent children, Rosie feels taken for
granted as she juggles family life and her work as a teacher. She longs for a
change of life. When she hits a teenage boy with her car, her life explodes
into uncharted territory. The boy is Robbie – and Rosie discovers he is part of
a terrible secret that Tom has kept for seventeen years. Then Rosie is
diagnosed with breast cancer. Rosie leaves home and begins the fight for her
life. Meanwhile Tom, is forced to learn what it means to be a husband and
father. He struggles to keep his family together and strives to get his wife
back.

‘CHANGE OF LIFE’ was selected by Waterstones St. Andrews as a
Summer Read and Anne Stormont has been featured in print and on radio.

 

To request a review copy, please email info@newgenerationpublishing.info

 

For more information on New Generation Publishing, see: www.newgenerationpublishing.info

 

Writing as Sculpture – chiselling down

Sculpture

Life is a bit stressful at the moment – imminent house move
– to name but one pressure point.

However, through all the turmoil, I’m managing to keep
writing – thank the deities. It’s a most therapeutic activity and is keeping me
as close to sane as I can ever claim to be. I’ve kept this blog going, I’ve
written my ‘Words With Jam’ contributions. (I hope everyone’s seen the latest issue
with the JK interview – the magazine is now available in print as well as
online.)

AND I’ve made good
progress with my children’s novel.

So I thought I’d post a progress report.

The first draft is almost finished. I can’t believe how much
I’ve enjoyed writing it. I was very resistant to writing for children, despite
my profession as a primary school teacher. But while I was in the middle of
writing my second novel for adults, the idea for the children’s story appeared
unbidden. It wouldn’t go away. So I had to suspend the grown-up novel, get over
my resistance and get to work on the young folks’ book.

I’ve found it to be quite a different experience from
writing my first novel. I’ve gone from being a planner to a ‘pantster’ (as in,
flying by the seat of my pants). This time I began writing with only the seed
of an idea and no real notion of where I was heading. Whereas the first time
round I had detailed plans and a carefully worked out plot – although there
were surprises along the way – this time I just wrote. And, luckily the story flowed
and developed spontaneously.

I’m not saying that I have a crisp, coherent and captivating
read yet. It’s more like I have a lump of roughly chiselled stone and now the
really hard work of chipping away, shaping and smoothing begins. The process
for the first novel was more akin to that of a draughtsman/artist – building up
to the finished artefact from detailed plans and sketches with precision
brushwork. But this time it will be more of a paring down from a block of (I
hope) beautiful raw material.

The hammering stage will be finished this month and I will
take up the chisel later in the year. In between –  as well as moving house – I need to dust off
my brushes and get back to my older people’s novel.

Okay – I know when I’ve done a metaphor to death – so I’ll
take off my artist’s smock and go write another house move to-do list.

Radio Star – My Fifteen Minutes of Fame

A gabbro landscape on the main ridge of the Cu...
Image via Wikipedia

The Cuillin is the magnificent granite mountain range on the Isle of Skye and our local radio station, Cuillinfm  is named after it. Last year I was invited to got to the radio station to take part in Alister Ross’s  afternoon show. He wanted to interview me about ‘Change of Life’, my first novel, which had just been published. I was very nervous, especially since it’s a live show. However, it proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. You can hear the unedited and unairbrushed interview for yourself by clicking on the link below.

 

Anne on Cuillin FM Radio

And if you would like to buy a copy of the novel, you can do so by clicking on the link below.

Paperbackhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Change-Life-Anne-Stormont/dp/1907461728/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298753465&sr=8-1 

For Kindle http://www.amazon.co.uk/Change-Of-Life/dp/B004IEAF0Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298753744&sr=1-1

Taking the e-book plunge

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...
Cover via Amazon

 It’s a year since my novel ‘Change of Life’ was published in paperback. To mark the anniversary I’m relaunching it in e-book format for Kindle.

Having got a Kindle at Christmas – thanks Santa – I’m now besotted with this way of reading. I’m not giving up paper books entirely – they’ll always have their place as far as I’m concerned. But reading on a Kindle screen is just so easy on the old eyes and it’s so light to carry around.

‘Change of Life’ is A tale of life. A poignant mix of sadness, hope and love.

You can purchase the new e-edition on http://www.amazon.co uk for £2.29 and on  http://www.amazon.com for $2.99. Links below –

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Change-Of-Life/dp/B004IEAF0Y/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=digital-text&qid=1294864750&sr=8-2 

http://www.amazon.com/Change-Of-Life-ebook/dp/B004IEAF0Y/ref=sr_1_cc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294864868&sr=1-1-catcorr

And here’s what it’s about –

 Be careful what you wish for…

 Wife to Tom and mother to four adolescent children, Rosie feels taken for granted as she juggles family life and her work as a teacher. She longs for a change.

When she hits a teenage boy with her car, her life veers into unpredictable and uncharted territory. The boy is Robbie – and Rosie discovers he is part of a terrible secret that Tom has kept from her for seventeen years. Then Rosie is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Rosie leaves home and begins the fight for her life. Meanwhile heart surgeon, Tom, learns what it means to be a husband and father. He struggles to keep his family together and strives to get his wife back.

‘A good convincing voice that had me identifying with the characters from the outset.’ David Wishart, Novelist

‘It’s a real emotional roller-coaster of a read. I was completely involved in the characters and their lives.’ Romantic Novelists’ Association.

A Very Good Year

Looking down the croft and across the loch to Trotternish ridge

The lunar eclipse this morning and a most beautiful golden moon this evening seem to mark the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere. Christmas and the year’s end draw near. I had a lovely, snowy, sunny, wintry walk this morning and took photos of the garden, croft and township while I was out. I’ve interspersed some of them here.

Robin in tree

 

Like many people in December, I find myself looking back over the last twelve months and savouring all that’s been good during that time.

another garden resident

In my personal life, I have continued to enjoy the most amazing love and support of my husband. And my grown-up children, though I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like as they live hundreds of miles away, remain simply the best.

township track

In the spring, husband and me had a lovely weekend in Inverness. We saw a new adaptation of one of my favourite children’s stories, ‘Peter Pan’ at the Eden Court Theatre. It was an amazing adaptation – re-located from its original London setting to take place within sight of the construction of the Forth rail bridge. The stage set was amazing – the bridge mutated into the pirates ship, and the special effects – especially having Tinkerbell, as a fireball – were stunning.

In July Mr S and me celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary in London. We went there with our son and his partner for a city break and had a wonderful time in what is one of my favourite places in the world. Also in July, our daughter and her partner came home to Skye for a week. For six out of the seven days they were here it rained, but on the seventh day the sun came out and we had a fabulous, long hike to the point of the Waternish peninsula (I posted photos and description of that day here on the blog).

Another highlight of 2010 came on my birthday in August. We went to Edinburgh where I attended the Edinburgh Writers’ Club summer lunch and collected my award for winning the children’s story competition. The day was rounded off with a very special dinner with family and some good friends.

Meeting up with friends all around the country has continued to provide marvellous punctuation points to the year – sometimes it’s been having folks to stay here and sometimes it’s been me or us travelling to them. Either way, I love catching up. One very welcome visitor was the husband, and widower, of my much, much missed lifelong friend, Elspeth. It’s always a bittersweet get together for the two of us – but very precious and special.

As for my writing in 2010 – well – January saw the publication of my novel ‘Change of Life’ – what a high that was. I was featured in the local paper and interviewed on local radio – all very surreal but great fun. I am so proud of the book and feedback and sales have been gratifying. I just set out to tell the sort of story I enjoy – and it’s good that others appear to have enjoyed it too. I’m excited too that it’s going to be available as an ebook early in 2011.

And now I’m well on with the first draft of novel 2. I continue to write for ‘Words with Jam’ and to write short stories and stories for children as well.  I’m developing a little booklet of updated fairy tales at the moment – a project that began life in my classroom with a group of pupils – and that has somehow grown and spilled into my writing life outside school. Yes, I’m still teaching full-time – the writing has to fit around that –  but I do get good holidays.

Of course 2010 was also the year I began this blog – I hadn’t a clue what I was doing but have learned as I’ve gone along. I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Nollaig Chridheil/ Merry Christmas to you all!

P.S. next post – coming soon – my best reads of 2010