12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it



An Update

Apologies for my recent silence.

The reason behind it is mainly that I haven’t written as much of book two as I ‘should’ have – 9000 words less, to be precise – and I was a bit embarrassed to come forward and admit it.  I’ve written loads of other things, mind you – for example, I am to be relied upon if you want to read lengthy dissections of nonsensical song lyrics.  And I’ve pitched a couple of articles that have elicited vague promises of monetary gain, which is hugely exciting for me because I haven’t been paid for my work since I was 19 and wrote some arts reviews for The Perthshire Advertiser.

Other than that, I am now back in Edinburgh after the chicken sitting adventure.  Last night a group of friends rallied round to show their support of this whole nonsensical idea by buying me beer, which was very sweet of them.  Thus my enthusiasm is renewed, and cannot even be dampened by the shock revelation that there are only 28 days in February and it’s already the 6th.  Perhaps fortuitously, my temp agency hasn’t as yet offered me any work for this week, so maybe I’ll get caught up over the next day or two.  Stranger things have happened…

And now, an unedited excerpt of book two.


“I am never working with you amateurs again,” hissed Morag McWhirter, whose turn it was to throw a wobbly as the curtain went up for the final time.

“You always say that,” Elspeth pointed out, hastily pasting a fixed grin to her face as the audience came into view.

The company bowed once more to the lukewarm applause of about thirteen people.

“God.  This is depressing,” Hamish McWhirter said under his breath, giving the old lady who always sat in seat G15 a cheeky wink of recognition.

Then a body fell from the fly floor onto the stage in front of them with a blunt thud.

A Day In The Life of Book One

I have recently decamped from Edinburgh to Perthshire, to house-sit for my parents and write Caligula’s Blog in idyllic rural surroundings at temperatures of -6.

The main reason my folks need someone around is because they keep chickens.  Poultry cannot be left to their own devices, as they are deeply stupid.  So here I am, working my way through the freezer, and popping outside every ten minutes to see whether they’ve gone round the front of the house so I can steal their eggs like an ornithological Fagin.  When I do this, I’m supposed to leave replacement eggs so they don’t get suspicious of the vanishing act and go find somewhere else to lay.  But sometimes, they come round and catch me red handed!  Awkward.  More often though, they haven’t gone round the front at all, so I step out of the door and they cluster round me, cooing ineffectually, whilst I  perform a circuit of the front garden, hands in pockets, nonchalance personified.

A writing day in Blairgowrie, then (based on my experience of one day):

9.30ish – Wake up and free the chickens from the coop.

10.30ish – Settle down to write maybe 1000 words of Caligula’s Blog.

11.30ish – Go outside on egg watch.

11.40ish – Come back inside, eggless.  Check email, facebook, twitter.

11.45 – Polly Toynbee has joined Twitter!  And she got like 900 followers in her first ten minutes!  That’s how popular I want to be…

12.30 – Realise I’ve been faffing about on the net for ages.  Go and make a coffee.

12.35 – Looking outside I can see two of the three chickens out back.  One is digging a hole.  Surely this is enough of a distraction for me to carry out operation egg theft?!

12.36 – Other chicken still on guard duty.  Dammit.

12.40 – Digger chicken is sitting in the hole it has just made, not doing much.  Looks happy enough though.

12.45 – Decide I must do the dishes.  NOW!

13.00 – I should shower.

13.30 – Go to co-op for milk.

14.00 – Make lunch.

14.20 – Hear knocking at patio door and am faintly freaked out as I would have seen a visitor go by one of the windows…  Turns out to be fowl play.

14.30 – Settle to write another 1000 words.

15.30ish – Egg watch success!  Ali: 1, Chicken: 0!

15.40ish – Tea/coffee/Twitter/email

16.40ish – Chickens go to bed.  Shut them away so nothing can eat them.

17.00 – Drive to Perth to collect boyfriend from grandparents.

21.30 – Return and watch many episodes of South Park.

23.30 – Discover Dragon Wars on SyFy.  It’s pretty bad, so we fall asleep on the couch.

So there you go, that’s the writing process in action.  Stealing eggs and social networking.  Caligula would be proud.  Perhaps tomorrow will be more productive…

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