My Amazon Author Page

Find my Amazon author page via this link

"A Scottish Wind in the Willows on high end skunk."

"I enjoy Kate's stories..."
"A fun and spooky read..."

"The characters are so involving and
loveable that you do want them to really exist. It does read like you've
stumbled across someone's long lost diary from and alternate timeline/universe.
I quickly got into the story and loved every second of reading it...
total gem of a read by an author who deserves a lot more recognition."


Monday, 28 April 2014

Old farm buildings and ducks near home

Flowering currant

Blog/Writing News

I've been quite busy contributing to Shortbread Stories over the past week or two.  My story The Mysterious Death of Clint Clanton has been popular, but you might as well read the version I've got on the blog here because it has illustrations, which Shortbread can't include on their main website.  However, Shortbread have put my illustration of 'Shortbread Personified' (which I sent in in response to a request for any visual ideas) on their Pinterest board.  I contributed a related piece for their writing competition 'Shortbread Personified', which you can find here. And my blog piece about being an Ageing Female Would-be Author is still up on the front page here, for the moment. (I notice that they have managed to illustrate THAT with a photo of some really ancient women.  I am trying to come to terms with getting older, but I'm not THAT decrepit - yet. *takes umbrage*)

In other news,  I've been browsing Ivor Cutler books on Amazon (nothing for 1p, so I probably won't buy one - I'll be FORCED to use my local library instead - wish me luck, because it's becoming crappier by the day, packed to the rafters as it generally is with geriatrics and nursery schoolchildren - both ends of the age spectrum and both equally as noisy as the other - and when I say 'noisy', I MEAN noisy - as in aeroplane-taking-off noisy), I finished Alan Clark's Diaries (which I enjoyed, despite the eye-popping snobbery and some startling remarks about Hitler); I'm now half-way through Iris Murdoch's The Sandcastle, and quite enjoying that too.

In addition, I've been re-reading my grandfather's letters written to me when I was a teenager.  One of them includes an account of his service in the First World War.  I will post details of this shortly.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Simone de Beauvoir Would Have Been 106 Today

From January 9th.  Simone de Beauvoir Would Have Been 106 Today

Reminds me to re-read The Woman Destroyed and She Came to Stay.  I'm currently reading Iris Murdoch's The Sandcastle - similar theme to She Came to Stay, but not nearly so 'astringent'. As I recall, at any rate.  It's been twenty years or more since I read it.  Jealousies and emotional threat and all manner of insecurities.  Middle class intellectuals do them so well.  The rest of us have to either ignore them or repress them or suppress them with medication (prescribed or otherwise) and pretend we have wonderful lives while we get on with earning a living, cleaning the toilet and doing the shopping.

Then we go berserk and kill ourselves and/or whoever else looks at us the wrong way on a dull Wednesday.

Or perhaps we only dream about that while we wait for some ghastly disease to finish us off.

Ah, happy days.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Link to article about Tolkein

I am a Lord of the Rings fan.  I didn't read it until I was about twelve or thirteen, and I read The Hobbit, after that.  I also love Wind in the Willows.  I can't really be bothered to explain why, so here is a link to a lengthy article (which actually I haven't quite finished reading!) in the London Review of Books by someone who, I think, feels similarly.  Germaine Greer apparently described LOTR as her 'nightmare'.  I don't think I'd get along very well with her.
People go on about the elves.  The elves are not the point.  If you don't understand that, then you won't like the book.  #thatisall 

 ‘I am in fact a hobbit,’ Tolkien wrote once,
in all but size. I like gardens, trees and unmechanised farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much.'

He sounds like my kind of person.

I liked the Lord of the Rings films by the way, hugely, but I do not like the Hobbit ones, at all.

My Latest for Shortbread Stories > On Being an AFWA – an Ageing, Female, Would-be Author | Shortbread

Follow the link, for my riveting views on being an ageing writer.

On Being an AFWA – an Ageing, Female, Would-be Author | Shortbread

Ambitions of Age #1. The Road... is Everlong...

I was half-watching a programme on BBC4 about the A303 when the presenter mentioned a quote from Hilaire Belloc's 1923 book, The Road.  It appealed to me tremendously and I looked it up immediately.  Ah, the miracle of the internet.  Within a couple of clicks I had ordered the book from Amazon (yes,  I know...)

"There are primal things which move us. Fire has the character of a free companion that has travelled with us from the first exile; only to see a fire, whether he need it or no, comforts every man. Again, to hear two voices outside at night after a silence, even in crowded cities, transforms the mind. A Roof also, large and mothering, satisfies us here in the north much more than modern necessity can explain; so we built in the beginning: the only way to carry off our rains and to bear the weight of our winter snows. A Tower far off arrests a man’s eye always: it is more than a break in the sky-line; it is an enemy’s watch or the rallying of a defence to whose aid we are summoned. Nor are these emotions a memory or a reversion only as one crude theory might pretend; we craved these things - the camp, the refuge, the sentinels in the dark, the hearth - before we made them; they are part of our human manner, and when this civilisation has perished they will reappear.
"Of these primal things the least obvious but the most important is The Road. It does not strike the sense as do those others I have mentioned; we are slow to feel its influence. We take it so much for granted that its original meaning escapes us. Men, indeed, whose pleasure it is perpetually to explore even their own country on foot, and to whom its every phase of climate is delightful, receive, somewhat tardily, the spirit of The Road. They feel a meaning in it; it grows to suggest the towns upon it, it explains its own vagaries, and it gives a unity to all that has arisen along its way. But for the mass The Road is silent; it is the humblest and the most subtle, but, as I have said, the greatest and most original of the spells which we inherit from the earliest of our race. It was the most imperative and the first of our necessities. It is older than building and than wells; before we were quite men we knew it, for the animals still have it to-day; they seek their food and their drinking-places, and, as I believe, their assemblies, by known tracks which they have made."

One of my long-held ambitions is to follow one of the ancient pilgrims' roads.  There's something about travelling slowly, and walking.  It's good for the soul.  Perhaps travelling in a fast car or high speed train is also good for the soul.  But it's different. Obviously.  A bit like the difference between looking in a real library, or in a real bookshop, perhaps even travelling to a different town or city to find a certain book or bookshop, as I used to do when young; and finding and ordering a book within thirty seconds of hearing about it....

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Lessons of age. 1) Work as a form of self-harm

I'm getting quite old now and I'm beginning to understand certain things so I might as well write them down.
First up is 'work', and 'jobs'.   I've never been a fan of 'the job'.  Of  'working for The Man'.  You know that thing, when you feel 'I HAVE to...'?
Well don't.  Just don't.

Obviously, we need shelter and food.  What we don't need are bank loans and car loans and other forms of being 'owned'.  We only have one shot at life (that we know of) and we don't need to spend it as prisoners in a forty hour week debt hell,  waiting for the next holiday to come around so that we can feel that our 'job' is worthwhile.  We need to allow our souls to expand.  We need to figure out what life is about.

Or at least I do.

Every hour spent working for someone else is an hour of your life you'll never get back.

Jobs are different from 'work'.  In fact,  I'd go as far as to say that jobs are not work.  Work is your own thing.  It could be making a chair from lollipop sticks or digging the garden or painting your ceiling or making a pair of curtains or baking a cake or writing a book.  Work is pleasurable and gives focus and enhances your life.  'Jobs' tend to be crap.  'Jobs' involve bosses, and time sheets, and cramming yourself into someone else's schedule.

I've spent most of my adult life doing 'jobs' rather than 'work'.  If I had my life to live over again,  I would do my utmost to find the courage not to do that. 

Rory Gallagher Interview Houston 1985

Lovely man.  Still a huge loss, nearly twenty years on.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Today's Walk - Mill Dam, Perthshire

The walk up

wild primrose sea penguin 10/4/14
Wild primrose

beaver trees 10/4/14 sea penguin
Beavers have clearly moved in to the area

Heading uphill towards the burn that tumbles into the loch - deer just about visible

mill dam 10/4/14 sea penguin

10/4/14 sea penguin
Mill Dam, Perthshire

A Comma butterfly - quite rare hereabouts

A walk into the gentle hills a mile or two east of Dunkeld, that I've done perhaps hundreds of times over the last 20 years.  I walked up the forestry track to the small loch called the Mill Dam, and then followed a deer track uphill and right round (see photos).  It's about 5 or 6 miles in all, but I often do a shorter version which is about 3 miles, just to the loch and back.  Today was warm and sunny and really a joy to be out and about, so I went for the longer route.  I was interested to see a LOT of beaver activity with numerous chewed and felled trees round the loch - this is a very recent thing, I haven't noticed it on previous visits and my last one was only about a month ago.
Was pleased to have my first osprey sighting of this year.  I also saw a fair amount of frog spawn (though not nearly as much as usual - perhaps a little early yet),  tufted ducks, wild swans, peacock butterflies, and the beautiful comma pictured above.  I didn't manage to get a close up as my camera ran out of space just at the vital moment!  A few lovely primroses, as well.
I also saw a couple of red deer - one is just visible in the distance in one of the photos.  I got quite close, they didn't notice me for quite a while.
The track seems to be getting used by 4 x 4s now.  Possibly off-roading tuition or something.  Again, this is a new thing. Hope they won't be too intrusive.

Sea Penguin Part One free to download for next 5 days, & general e-book feedback

If you haven't already got it here is the link.  There are now six reviews (four on Amazon UK, and two on Amazon US). Three five star and three four star.  I think three of those six people have gone on to buy Sea Penguins two to four, but nobody seems to like Part Five, for some reason, which is only 77p..  I do have a Part Six which I had intended to Kindle as well....
Here is the link to my Amazon page, with details of all of the books.

It does feel weird plugging my own books, and even more so books that I wrote several years ago.  When does one stop?  I have no idea.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Graham Chapman interviewed on Grampian TV 1987

Graham Chapman comes across as really charming (I'm not being sarcastic). He's my favourite Python, along with Michael Palin.  No idea what happened to the interviewer. Style very much 'high 80s', I'm afraid.  Shudder.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Updated story available to read

I've edited an old story I wrote and posted a while ago, then took down as I was unsatisfied with it -  'Bloody Rhubarb' and it's now available to read via the link under the header, or here. 

It's not QUITE where I am currently going with my writing (nowhere near it really), it's more similar in style to my older flash fictions available to read here, but it's not too bad.

I might tinker with it a bit more.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Today's Question. With Answers. Kind of...

Q.'re (well I mean me really) going to be dead soon, so why not go for it?

A.  Because I simply cannot be arsed.  Did I just split an infinitive there?  Did I?  Gosh!  For me it's like splitting the atom.

Well it isn't.  That was a stupid thing to say.  But you know.

Or,  perhaps you don't.  And that's OK.  Well, it isn't, but I have to say it.  Well I don't, but I'm too nice not to.  Well I'm not, but I'm saying it anyway.


Cheese is nice.

*loud screaming*

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Reflections on > Scottish Islands Explorer: Straight and Narrow

Scottish Islands Explorer: Straight and Narrow: Some people have comfort zones in which they spend much of their lives. There are infinite routes to follow in life, but the appeal of th...

camus malag sea penguin august 2012
Rum and Loch Slapin from Camus Malag,  Skye
A link to a blog post on Scottish Islands Explorer blog.  It reminds me of my great-aunt, who spent her life crofting in a tiny area of Skye - firstly on her father's croft and later, when she married, on her husband's.  She never left the area, not even to go to Portree,  until she got very old, and then she'd spend the worst of the winter in Inverness with my grandmother.

Why?  I guess it was largely to do with money.  But it was also the way of life at that time.  No TV, no telephone, no internet. No transport.  Your world was what you could see within your own horizons, especially if you were a woman.  Men went off to sea, of course, to fish or to the merchant navy sometimes. You had that sense of the deep oceans around.

From what I remember of these people, they were not diminished in any way because of this.  Or at least, it did not appear so, to me.

Flowers on a rainy day

A beautiful camellia - what a joy.  Quick visit to Branklyn Gardens in Perth today.  Very wet but gardens still lovely.