Monday, 1 August 2011

We Are All Children Of Chance . . . *

Hello Everyone

And White Rabbits x 3 to you all - this being, of course, the first day of August which is patently obvious to anyone peering outside at the leaden grey skies and the pending precipitation . . .

So what has been happening at Myrtle House in your absence ? Sadly, not a great deal; as you may have read in another place (as they say in Parliament) publication of The Scottish Story  - as I am now deeming The Maelstrom in line with the theatrical tradition from which I spring - is still awaiting digital tweaking from the Elves of Jura before it appears on their website . . . in fact, it is five months today since I discovered I had been awarded the distinction of being a writer in residence in Jura; seems much longer somehow!

Other works in the offing (besides Our Beloved Sister which is currently in Chicago and Wells I believe! and A Field Guide to the Voles of England which is similarly globetrotting at my expense) include The Princess of Stargazey Halt which I am enjoying greatly and one which is as yet untitled but links my early life with that of an elderly relative and Maori royalty . . . intriguing!

In other news I am happy to reveal that Myrtle House has now gone Mac! Following a complete system overall we are now mac-based and wirelessly connected to everything and everyone ( when it works!) and have to say that writing is even more of a joy than it already was . . . wish I could say the same for you having to read the results but I am working on that!

And that is about it; apologies once again for the lack of action around here . . . maybe you could take the opportunity to relax in what's left of the summer and read a good book . . . I can recommend a few!

Thanks for following and See You Soon !

*"Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun." Kent Nerburn

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Train of Thought Now Arriving . . .

Hello Everyone!

At times on this blog I feel somewhat like a British Rail announcer; I am constantly apologising for delays! It seems to be my rôle in life but it is one I am tiring of rapidly, I must admit!

The work is still being produced - I now have three short stories ready to go to epublication and three more in preparation - but, because of funding issues, delays seem inevitable. 
This is because of two things: a) it may cost considerably less to epublish than the traditional route but it still costs! and b) in order to fund such activities it is necessary (and desirable) to enter my work in competitions - this broadens my potential readership and also can bring in much needed spondulicks!  
However, as many of you aspiring authors out there will already know, one of the entry requirements of many of these competitions is that the work should not be currently entered into any other such event or be published elsewhere - and that, of course, includes epublishing!  It is very chicken-and-egg and quite frustrating but there we go ... 
So, in an effort to at least attempt to appease you all, I'm offering a quick review of what is in the offing - I feel a bit like Jim Bowen on "Bullseye" from many years ago with his eponymous "Let's see what you would have won . . ." !

Besides "The Maelstrom" which must you must, by now, be sick of hearing about, I have written a short story of which I'm rather proud; "Our Beloved Sister" ( see cover above right)  is the story of one person's afternoon and is based on the true life story of someone you will know quite well but it is, as usual, written with very much licence and, one hopes, inventiveness . . .

The next offering is based on a dream I had - as is much of my writing - and is therefore could be considered perhaps a little bizarre . . . I enjoyed writing this short piece so very much and have been advised that "A Field Guide to the Voles of England" ( see cover to left) is definitely worthy of entry into competition, the quest is to find the right one!
It is the story of one man's journey into the darkest recesses of his own life, his furtive experiences with women and the strange-but-true connection between golf and voles - I can see you're hooked already! 

The cover was inspired by a a range of books I have collected and possessed since I was very young - the sort of field guide to nature books that were produced in the years between the wars; this particular example is based on an earlier volume produced around 1910 I would say and it's interesting to read how to study animals it is necessary to hunt them down and shoot them - how times have changed!

As far as the other covers are concerned they are generally 'all my own work' and produced from my own photographs which are then manipulated in Photoshop . . . the joys of being a one man band - or egomaniac!

I hope that I can have the pleasure of announcing the latest prize winners to you shortly and the details of publication . . . in the meantime, I can only express my gratitude to you all for your continued support and wish you happy reading!

Thanks for following and see you soon !

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Back from the Bay of Small Islands . . .

Hello Everyone!

View from the Music Room, Jura  
First of all apologies for the lack of posts here and the still non-appearance of the Myrtle House website; practically everything is ready but personal circumstances have prevented me from pressing the launch button -  maybe sometime soon?

The good news is, however, that I have just returned from completing "The Maelstrom"  on the Isle of Jura as a guest of Jura Whisky who sponsored the award and have in my sweaty palms - or rather my hot little laptop - the finished piece!

I am rather pleased with it as it stands but want to give it a wee while to live independently before I thrust it into the wider world and trust it to your gaze; further info about it will appear here and also on the Myrtle House Facebook page as well as on my personal blog "Words from a Room" so with any luck you shouldn't have to wait too long . . .

Thanks for your continued interest and support !

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

No News Is . . . No News!

Hi Everyone!

First of all huge apologies for the lack of activity here; I have committed the ultimate blog sin of promising and not delivering for which I humbly beg your forgiveness . . . things are a tad hectic and I have but a limited number of brain cells with which to operate :)

Hopefully, said things should settle down soon into a manageable sort of controlled chaos as writing commitments are (hopefully) met and, given enough of the filthy lucre, the promised and somewhat fabled website will emerge blinking into the bright light of a new dawn . . . or something like that anyway !

If any of you feel like submitting any of your creative offspring -  ie poems, stories, essays -  to display here and on the website, or if you have any comments that you wish to make privately, please feel free to do so . . . you can do this via the wonderful wizardry of Email if you so wish . . .

And for the moment that's about it; for a more up to date version of events it's always worth checking out the  Myrtle-House Facebook page or my Words From A Room blog which will list lots of reasons why the website isn't up and running yet!

Thanks once again for reading and waiting and let's hope it's all worth it . . . eventually!

Thanks for following - see you soon!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Walking the Long Road - courtesy of the Diurachs

Hi Everyone
Just a brief posting to let you know that the trip to the Writer's Retreat on Jura which will be my base for completing "The Maelstrom" is set to happen in around 6 weeks time,  with the completed story ready for publication in two shakes of a lambs - or in Jura's case, Deer's - tail afterwards!
View from the Lodge
I feel very honoured and privileged to have been chosen for this opportunity and I hope the finished story repays the trust and faith the lovely people at Jura obviously have in me . . .
In between bashing out the 7,500 words or so, I'm also going to try and keep a log of my time on Jura which I will post on here upon my return . . . that's if I decide to leave!
Thanks for following  - see you soon!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Myrtle House: Update

Good Morning People!

Just time for a quick update as to what is going on with this blog and associated site:
As you are probably aware the original idea was to launch the site on 21st March, this being the first day of Spring and, for me at least, a good time to do these things.  However, over the last weekend - in common with a lot of Blogger sites - Myrtle House was deleted by Blogger / Google and deemed to be spam!  Finally yesterday, and with no reason given for the original decision, the blog was reinstated and so here we are again!

This resulted in a delay that has thrown out my timetable for  the launch somewhat but in another, unforeseen way has also gave me an opportunity for a rethink and redesign.  I've been in consultation with the lovely Sam from Gecko who is being marvelous at guiding me through the process ( Thanks Sam!) and we're putting together a much more user-friendly and altogether accessible page dedicated to all things in word-wise which will, one hopes, be up and running before you can say 

"Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch !"

As well using it to promote my written work, I want to open up the page to any other  authors out there and offer it as a platform for you too!  So have a sift through your backlog of genius ready for submission details which will follow before you can say . . . well, you get the idea!

Sorry to keep you waiting so long  . . . Let's hope it's worth it for us all in the end!

Hope you have a lovely day and see you soon :)

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Wigan Pier Author Wins Chance to Compose Jura Short Story in 1984 Minutes

Jura malt whisky has announced the winner of its prestigious writing competition, which will allow the author to follow in the footsteps of George Orwell, who penned his masterpiece 1984 on the island of Jura.

The famous malt whisky brand revived the challenge to find a new literary talent at the end of last year, offering the winner the chance to stay at the exclusive Jura Lodge and compose a short story based on the island.

The winner, Ian McLoughlin, already has ties to the eminent twentieth century author, living less than a mile from Wigan Pier, made famous by Orwell in his account of working-class life in the heartlands of Yorkshire and Lancashire in the 1930s, The Road to Wigan Pier.

McLoughlin, who works as a bereavement counsellor in his hometown of Wigan, will only have 1984 minutes to compose his story, in keeping with the novel which was written on the island of Jura more than 60 years ago.

Writers from throughout the UK were asked to submit the first 300 words of their proposed short story, with only two criteria - that the short story must take place on the island itself and that it link to one of the many myths and legends about Jura.

“I am a great Orwell fan and it will be a real honour to follow in his footsteps and visit the island. I have never visited Jura before, but I know that it is steeped in literary heritage and I’m in no doubt that my creative juices will be flowing while I’m there.”

McLoughlin’s winning entry ‘The Maelstrom’ is based on the island’s mysterious history and mysticism and focuses on the central character Mr Blair, who suddenly wakes up to find himself on the island of Jura. “It’s a ghost story with a difference; Orwell’s original title for “1984” was ‘The Last Man in Europe’ and I have tried to evoke that feeling for the reader, such as the main character’s growing uneasiness, isolation and inner confusion surrounding his chilling predicament.”

Jura distillery manager Willie Cochrane said: “The competition was extremely strong and the challenge clearly struck a chord with the many talented authors who entered. It was a tough decision, but the winning entry was not only successful in linking the plots to the many myths and legends of the island, but left the judges wanting to read on.

“There’s no shortage of material on Jura and we hope that once our lucky winner has had the chance to soak up the atmosphere of this great island the continuation of The Maelstrom will be just as riveting as the first 300 words.”

The finished product will be published on Jura’s website as part of a compendium of short stories, essays and poetry as a follow-up to the Spirit of Jura.

The short story competition follows in the footsteps of the Jura distillery’s partnership with the Scottish Book Trust. In 2006, the two partners established the Jura Malt Whisky Writers’ Retreat programme, offering writers space, peace and time in a truly inspirational setting, amid the luxury of the Distillery Lodge.

Several leading authors, essayists and poets participated in the programme, including Will Self, Liz Lochhead, Kathleen Jamie, Romesh Gunesekara, John Burnside, Philip Gourevitch and Swetha Prakash. The resulting works were published in a book, the Spirit of Jura.

For thousands of years, good fortune and mystery has enriched the tiny island of Jura, from the creation of its dominating scenery to the rumours of witches, prophecies and the graves of the Knights Templar. The rich bank of stories can be found at

For all media enquiries, please contact: Harry Hussain or Stephanie Robertson at Weber Shandwick on 0131 556 6649 or /