May – the month of blossoms & book festivals

The new literary Prize for Scottish writers of colour

Who will be the winner of these six short listed authors? It is so exciting to see this event hosted at Ayewrite, the second largest book festival in Scotland.

I had to grab this photo from Insta. Now this is social media platform like TIK TOK that many are using that I am still not au fait with. What a talented group of writers we have found in this very first year of the prize! All six are wonderful writers of different genres, poetry, plays, fiction, nonfiction. The three judges were impressed with the standard of submissions. I can’t wait to see who the winner is!

May has been another busy month. I had an event with other poets at AyeWrite with the anthology to celebrate the centenary of George Mackay Brown, the bard of Orkney. ‘Beyond the Swelkie’ is a wonderful anthology and I was chuffed to have a poem in it along with some of the eminent poets of Scotland. I also went along to support debut writers at Ayewrite. It was so good to get back to a kind of ‘normal’ meeting people at a book festival and at book launches. I adjudicated the short story prize, the President’s Cup, at Eastwood Writers on a dreich stormy afternoon but was uplifted by the entries and the warmth of that writers’ group who meet every week to hone their craft.

Lots more events are coming up soon. The Milngavie Week in June has an event I enjoy. Adjudicating Flash Fiction competition by young writers at Douglas Academy. It is wonderful to see creative writing is encouraged by the school with a lunch time club that is popular. I also have an event with another friend and local crime fiction writer Myra Duffy for Milngavie Week.

Did I say blossoms? My garden overflows with gorgeous azaleas, rhododendrons, and so many flowers that the gift for eyes and soul by Mother Nature is such a balm to all of us. Our clematis is spreading all over the trees in the woods behind our house and greets me every morning as I look out the window with its pale pink flowers strewn over them like garlands of love. I can’t ask for more.

See you all in June!

April Arts

No April showers but a quiet month to reflect and renew. Started with an Audio Anthology launch with a poem from me and many authors of SBPOC Writers Network on Sunday 3rd of April.

I met a few of my friends I had not seen for a couple of years since Covid changed our lives. This month has been filled with lots of work with the Kavya Prize and the various committees I am serving on. All enjoyable and worth the effort to see it becoming a reality.

I do hope lots of people who have been crying out for ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ in the Scottish literary world will buy tickets and be there in person, to congratulate the winner of the first Kavya Prize at Aye Write. Tickets are just £6.60 each. 21st May at 8 pm.

https://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/event/1/the-kavya-prize

Great to see Milngavie Week is back on after a hiatus of two years. The meeting of the committee was really upbeat. The Logo is here and the events are all being planned. An author event in Milngavie Library and a Flash Fiction competition for secondary pupils on the theme of ‘Jubilee Day’ will be on. Young writers are like a fresh breeze in the writing world.

My annual scourge of hay fever is back again. Still annoying and makes some days miserable when there are so many booms to admire and the warm weather tempts one to be outside all the time. Well, life is never a bed of roses is it?

March Melodies

‘Our life is March weather savage and serene in one hour’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Spring has sprung and life is filled with daffodils, tulips, blue skies and sunshine. The odd frosty morning adds to the feeling of renewal and new life. It was a busy month but started with me attending a funeral of a wonderful friend of over fifty years. It was a celebration of her life.

The diary now:

On March 8th, SOA had a very interesting and fact filled zoom on how authors could use Insta. Being quite a technophobe I found it informative and challenging. I must learn new skills all the time, to keep up with technological advances.

On 9th March I read a poem for the event ‘Poetry and Settled Status For All’ organised by Civic Leicester and Culture Matters launching their new anthology.

On 12th I visited the Lillie Art Gallery where the 60th anniversary of the founder and Glasgow Women’s Art School exhibition was on. Milngavie Heritage Centre also had an exhibition of the Mains Estate in the library and had a heritage walk the following Saturday, which I booked for.

On 16th Milngavie Heritage Centre had a ‘Conversation about Milngavie’ with Nigel Orr’s revised book launch. I read about my ‘Milngavie Memories’ and a few poems. It was well received and as a few there asked for my books I have left some at Gavin’s Mill in Milngavie for people to buy copies from.

19th March was the heritage walk around Mains Estate which was really interesting and discovering local history along with Jane Patience, another fellow writer and neighbour, was fun.

Ringwood Publishing my own publisher invited me to have a conversation with author Simon McLean on YOUTUBE! Another first for me.

On 23rd I had a photo shoot for ‘Aye Write’ a really interesting experience of standing in front of The Mitchell Library, the iconic Glasgow landmark, with Louise Welsh, and three other debut writers. We smiled and posed for the photographer on a beautiful sunny morning as the traffic on the M8 roared by and we got some strange looks from drivers in their cars. Aye Write tickets are available and I am so proud to say that The Kavya Prize winner will be announced on Saturday 21st May at the Mitchell. A great start to a unique prize for writers of colour in Scotland. Buy your tickets! https://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/event/1/the-kavya-prize

On 27th March, Mother’s Day, I went along to Glasgow Comedy Club event at McChulis and enjoyed the stand up comedy by Lubna Kerr and her interview with Chris Mc Queer, a winner with short story ‘Hings’ and a BBC series based on it. He is now writing his first novel.

30th March was with a wonderful ‘Laureate’s Library Tour,’ at the Clydebank Library with Simon Armitage, Kathleen Jamie, our Scottish Makar. A perfect event for spring, though Covid struck Simon he bravely read his poems from his shed.

31st March, the month ended well with Bearsden Writers where we had a great workshop on Dialogue and Dialect .

Hope you’ve had a great start to Spring too.

February

February, the month for lovers , Valentine Day’s Day on the 14th get the love gods working hard. Mine was a quiet start to this month, apart from some interesting zooms on the Paisley Shawl and Geopoetics.

On Valentine’s Day I wrote a wee Flash Fiction for Pat’s West End Diary. https://www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/flash-fiction-for-valentines-day-leela-soma/

On the 15th, You Tube, I had a new experience, to learn from. It felt strange to be filmed for a You Tube interview. On the 19th was my Writing Workshop at the Paisley Book Festival. I was really looking forward to meeting people in person but the awful snow and Covid restrictions made it another online event.

Next was the biggie. Granite Noir, the crime festival in Aberdeen. Again snow and Storm Franklin caused havoc with train bookings. The train was cancelled but I eventually managed to get to Aberdeen just before my event with author Ewan Gault and BBC journalist Fiona Stalker. The festival was superb and I meet a lot of crime writers. It felt good to see people and be in a room full of like minded people.

https://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/whats-on/granite-noir-year-of-scotlands-stories/

The short month of February is away. What’s next?

JANUARY 2022

Happy New Year

January, the month of the zodiac signs of Capricorn and Aquarius and the full moon is the wolf moon. The start of the year when we make resolutions, write on the new page in our diaries and hope that the year is going to be full of better things. It is also the coldest month of the year, we want to be cosy around a fire reading a book or two. Well, my January this year began with the very good news of a dream of mine becoming a reality. Since I arrived in Scotland in 1969 and slowly integrated to life here, worked, paid my taxes, put my roots here I had hoped to leave a small legacy that would be meaningful for all. With my passion for reading books and since 2008 becoming a writer I’ve wanted to see more books by people of colour on the bookshelves of all our bookshops. The idea of establishing a prize for writers of colour slowly took shape. I am thrilled that the Kavya Prize has been launched in 2022, the Year of Stories, Scotland. Voices of multi-cultural Scotland will be heard. I was lucky to find a kind benefactor (who wishes to remains anonymous) who gave a generous donation to make it possible. I approached Zoe Strachan at Glasgow University and a whole team there helped the process get underway.

Choosing the name of this prize was not easy. As always ancient civilisation with the world’s oldest books in Sanskrit was the perfect choice. Kavya is a popular and well recognised word in Sanskrit and refers to a literary style or a completed body of literature that was used in Indian courts of the Maharajahs who nurtured the cultural arts in India.

The launch of the Kavya Prize has been well received. We just need publishers to send books over for the adjudication. It’s an exciting time in the Scottish literary scene. This will keep me busy for a while.

Meanwhile writing for, and reading at events must go on. I am thrilled to be invited by St Mungo’s Mirrorball to read at their January showcase on the 20th along with a wonderful line up of amazing poets.

https://stmungosmirrorball.wordpress.com/

I wish you all a wonderful NEW YEAR filled with love, joy, good health and happiness.