The Lone Sailor Returns

DSCF0342Good intentions, it seems, are blown to shreds when you go sailing. I set out on my Great Sailing and Writing Adventure on April 28th with the certainty that I would blog at least weekly. If you’re reading this, you will have some idea where that notion went. It’s not that I didn’t write stuff. I kept a log of the voyage which now amounts to about 60,000 words; I wrote chapters of the new novel; I shared pictures and occasional snippets of the log with family and friends on Facebook. The thing I failed to do was keep blogging.

Ah well. Now that I’m back on dry land, all that will change…


Filed under Uncategorized

The Eagle Dares


Novel number three. I’m more surprised about this than you are. After two thrillers, I’m indulging myself by writing a literary novel. At one level, it’s an adventure, a coming of age story. At another, it’s about nationhood, community and the survival of the species. Nothing too ambitious, then. The working title is The Eagle Dares. What follows is the prologue. First draft. Comments welcome. As always. If you enjoy it, please share it.

Who can tell what the eagle dares,
her DNA unwinding instructions
to muscle, tendon and pinion;
bi-ocular certainty
scoping peaks
heaved from Hell’s gate;
ice-scoured tops and corries
marching down
to a tiny arc of bay?


 This day of all days, he rose to meet the morning before it came to meet him. This day when he might be a free man again; when he might become a father.
He came naked to it, a pre-dawn tumescence already shrivelling in the chill; regret at leaving the shared cocoon of their bed stilting his zeal. In the anonymous darkness, boards creaked; clothes murmured; Catriona breathed sleep for two, beached on her back, resting after a night punctuated by contractions.
Down the threadbare stair, he scooped barrelled water, frost bitten from snow-melt lochans; prised reluctant feet into stiff boots; scuffled with a wayward door; and went out into the remains of the plush night. Not yet released from its permafrost, the path threatened to betray each footfall; the gate swung easy on oiled hinges; the road was a dark blur of crazed asphalt.
Standing on the gravel arc of the bay, he let his stream rush into green-stained stones. The moleskin nap of the loch stretched taught in its broad canyon, the mountains of Knoydart unresolved as yet. A dinghy, upturned flotsam from a winter storm, provided a seat. He began to roll a cigarette. First of the day, last of his life. That child had a lot to answer for, and her not yet born.
The scrunch of boot on gravel gave notice that he was not alone. He put the rollie to his lips; hoicked his lighter from a waistcoat pocket.
“Looks like it’ll be a grand day, Iain.”
No one else it could be.
“Aye, Rab. Are ye well this mornin’?”
The lighter rasped; its flame painted a tenuous image of two men who might have been father and son.
“Just grand.”
“And Catriona?”
“She’s very close, I reckon. Agnes will be on her way from Glenelg in an hour. Just needs the bairn to make up its mind, now.”
Iain rubbed the side of his face.
“Give her my best, will ye? Tell her I’ll be up to wet the bairn’s head once it’s all over.”
Rab nodded.
“I’ll do that.”
They looked out over the loch. Dawn’s outriders were creeping in. Iain’s voice fell soft in the emerging landscape.
“Any word from London?”
“Not a squeak. Even with the state of the post, they’ve had plenty of time by now to reply.”
Iain turned to look at him.
“Still not answering their phone?”
Smoke dribbled from Rab’s lips and he blew it, clean and long.
“Nope. Nor are the lawyers.”
“I’m thinkin’ we’ve seen the last of the Crocket family.”
“I’m thinking you’re correct.”
The older man’s focus drifted. An otter barked sharp alarm across the water and brought him back to the moment.
“Peg and I were tryin’ to mind the last time they stayed at the Lodge. Must be more than two years now. Apart from the time Terence came by. Him wi’ his ego inflated wi’ hot air and yon suit that must have cost more than you and I spend on food in a decade.”
Rab nipped the rollie and put the dowt in his pocket.
“He was a disgrace, him. Sins of the father, in my opinion.”
He stood up.
“I’ll let you know if I hear anything. In any case, we need to get everyone together and decide where we go from here.”
Each man went his own way as the sun raised mountains around them. Rab  headed back to the house. Catriona was awake. He sat on the bed, put his hand on the mound of her belly.
“How’s the lass?”
A grin.
“He’s fine. Wanting to get out, is my impression.”
He leaned forward and kissed her.
“The sooner the better.”
The exigencies of the day took over. He wakened the old, black stove from its slumber; topped up the soon-to-be-simmering kettle; made porridge. Agnes Macfie arrived in a stout bustle of tweed coat, brown hodden dress and midwifely accoutrements.
“I’ll away up and see her,” she said. “You’ll have the hot water and clean cloths to hand when the time comes.”
Rab saluted.
“Right ye are, Mistress Macfie. And I’ll bring up the croissants and poached quails in a wee while.”
Agnes sniffed and heaved herself up the stairs. Rab went back to the kitchen, added more peat to the stove, made tea and refilled the kettle. Water pipes groaned and twanged.
“’Hot water,’ the wumman said and hot water she shall have,” he muttered.
The mugs of tea felt like a peace offering. Agnes was plumping pillows.
“How’s she doing?” he asked.
“Fine. And she’ll be better wi’out you hangin’ around like a long drink o’ watter.”
Rab and his wife shared a smile. Conspiratorial.
“Aye, well,” he said. “See and let me know if you need help.”
Agnes shooed him out, a cockerel that had strayed into a forbidden section of the hen house.  He clattered down the stairs, arms flapping, tongue clucking, laughing at the anachronism that was Agnes. Lucky to have her, though. Driving eighty-four miles to hospital in Inverness sans fuel was a tricky proposition.
A mug of tea drifted with him into the parlour. Furniture gathered around like old friends. He’d been there at the inception of every one. Oak and ash, alder and gean. He was the axe-wielder; intoner of the blessing; the man who cried “hup!” to the horses; half the saw pit team. Later, he shaped the planks and limbs to the beat of Catriona’s imagination with adze and plane and sanding block. She the artist and he the craftsman. Symbiosis. A metaphor for their love.
He rested his head on the chair back, the lilt of the tea still fresh on his tongue, and minded when they had met.
Rab Stewart and Catriona Gallagher in Tobermory. Him: bed-warm and rumpled from a night with Shona (or was it Marie?); reeking from whisky, an endless procession of rollies and, no doubt, sex. Her: fresh and long-necked, scrunched up hair the colour of wheat and a smile to stop a man in his onward rush to self destruction.
He came haring down Back Brae, bunnet at a devilish angle, waistcoat half buttoned, shirt tail flapping a truce behind; turned into Main Street, by the craft shop, and ran into her. A moment more intimate than either of them might have desired. The sense of her, shoulder and hip, was a ghostly burn on his skin for days. Later, she confessed that the smell of him was the stuff of nightmares. His flustered apology and her gracious acceptance was all that passed between them. Except, that is, for an invisible alchemy, a quantum entanglement of the soul, that worked on them while apart and drew them together again; the stay-at-home green-eyed sculptress and the dark-haired wandering woodworker. The hearth and the wind.
She went with him in his home on the sea; sailing from port to port, anchorage to anchorage. In the end, though, the hearth cannot flourish on water. It needs a place to rest, dry and secure, where its flame can be nourished. He knew this and that it would become a wormhole in the complex physics of their love. This love that was a new and wonderful thing to him. He sailed them into Loch Hourn, to the tiny village on the arc of bay under the mountain; sought out his old friend Iain McKenzie.
“Last time I was here, you mentioned a job.”
Iain looked at him, half smile, half frown.
“Aye. It’s still available. It’s not something that’ll be of interest to you, though.”
But it was. He presented his new employment to her, along with the tied cottage that came with it, as a present for their first anniversary.
Agnes was on the move. The creaking of floorboards traced out her purposeful meanderings. The idiocy of giving up the smokes on such a day hit. He stretched, yawned; held his fingers up. Trembling. Shit. Not to worry. He and Catriona had a pact. She would override Agnes when things hotted up. He relaxed; tried not to think about the itching in his fingers, the crawling in his blood. A vision of strangling Terence Crocket drifted without consequence. He brushed it aside. The Crocket family popped up and marched around in his head: a parcel of rogues, right enough. He and Catriona had only been six months in the cottage when old man Crocket sent the village a big man called Ormroyd with a face roughly hewn from a turnip, a Saville Row suit and an accent that came from darkest Barnsley. He introduced the two thugs that came with him as his “associates.” He talked a lot about tenancy agreements, diversification and financial leverage, but the bottom line was clearance. Empty the houses and turn the place into a holiday destination. On the basis of Rab’s performance at the first meeting, he was elected village spokesperson. Ormroyd hadn’t been best pleased.
“D’you mean to tell me,” he’d bellowed, “that I’ve come all this way t’ middle o’ fuckin’ nowhere and for me sins I get to talk wi’ a fuckin gyppo? Or tinker? Or itinerant or whatever damn name you people go by.”
“I’m as surprised as you are,” Rab had replied, rolling himself a cigarette, “but I have to say that flattery will get you nowhere.”
The relationship had gone downhill from there. Ormroyd and the Crockets had clever London lawyers and bottomless bags of swag from decades of fleecing the unsuspecting and indulging in arcane financial skulduggery. The villagers, to their utter amazement, had a Secret Weapon. She was called Brigit: mountain rambler; kayaker; Edinburgh Barrister. Brigit was a regular visitor to the village. She stayed with the Torrances, who had a low flying bed and breakfast thing going on. It turned out that Brigit was to London lawyers as Global Warming was to icebergs. The threat of eviction melted away and transmuted into the War of Attrition.
Now, all that was history. The Crockets and their ilk were getting what they deserved. The Pan World Capitalist Dreamliner, minus its undercarriage and finally out of fuel after almost four centuries, had crashed and was ablaze. One way or another, everyone was caught up in the wreck.
Agnes was on the move again. A door opened. She came half way down the stairs, arms folded.
“She wants ye. Kens fine I don’t approve of men bein’ around at the birth, but she’ll no listen.”
He went up and left the Crockets to the mercy of the furniture. Catriona was sitting up in bed, She looked cool, relaxed; held out her hand. He took it and sat down. In her eyes: soft moss by the burn’s edge; the tantalising gleam of gold.
“You have a grand face, Rab Stewart,” she said. “One of these days I’ll get you to sit for me.”
He felt the lightness of the moment, the relief from the weight of events.
“Now, where on earth did that thought come from?” he said.
She laughed.
“I was just wondering who the bairn would take after. He could do worse than look like his father.”
“Och, away,” he said. “The lassie won’t be thanking us if she ends up with my conk, for goodness’ sake.”
Her eyes clouded and she sucked air. A contraction took hold and she held tight to his hand.

Outside, the land began its wakening from winter hibernation and drew warmth from an uncertain sun. The eagle cleared the ridge and felt the first stir of a thermal. She stretched feathered fingers, circled slow and easy. Underneath her, the mountain slope fell away to clinging stands of naked trees. Far below, the arc of bay glittered. Senseless to the events of people, she spiralled to her own genetic imperative. A movement on the rockbound track of a rushing burn caught her eye and she began the well rehearsed descent towards her prey.


Filed under Literary novel, Writing

The Bear Necessities

I wrote this short story for the Writers By The Bay group down in Maryland. They were having one of their themed exercises and very kindly invited me, as a former member of the group, to make a contribution. Simple rules – no more than 1300 words; must be a complete story; must have at least four lines of dialogue. The theme was Someone knocks on the door in the middle of the night.

Gavin The Hunter crouched at his table, lost in Jack London. Close by, a kerosene lamp pulsed; a wood stove throbbed; Fred The Dog twitched dreams of warmer days.  Outside, the wind was a hooligan, a madness roaring in the trees. It plucked at shutters, riffled through shingles; conspired with gravid snowflakes to obliterate the world. Cold was a constant, silent enemy that aimed for the heart and longed for the soul. Only an incontinence of heat from the stove kept Gavin and Fred from its clutches.

“Hey, Fred. You’ll like this,” said Gavin.

Fred opened an eye; assessed the situation for food content; decided that it was a bust and went back to sleep. Gavin had picked up the book and turned to face his audience.

There was a knock at the door. It was the kind of knock which has a ringing, wood-splintering quality about it. A knock to be heard above even the unholy racket of the storm; a knock not to be ignored.

“Hell and damnation. Who can that be? It’s the middle of the night, for Chrissake.”

Gavin laid down the book and picked up his old revolver. It was always there, within reach; often tucked in his waistband. He used it in the Summer for frightening off deer and shooting cockroaches.  In the winter, it got rusty and cranky from lack of use.

‘’On guard, Fred. Stand by to repel boarders.”

Fred opened an eye, though not the same one as before. Straining muscles was all too easy without careful attention to such details. He watched Gavin doing his imitation of an FBI agent casing the joint. It failed on so many counts, including the fact that the man was wearing a heavy wool cardigan and a pair of disreputable canvas pants. At least this time he made it to the door without falling over his feet.

The opening of the door felt like a betrayal and Fred lifted his head.

“Shit!” said Gavin.

The doorway was filled with bear. Grizzly bear, male, ten foot tall and wearing epaulettes of snow.

“Not quite the welcome I was expecting from a neighbor,” said the            bear. “I was hoping more for an invitation into the warmth of your home.”

Gavin looked the bear up and down.

“You’re not selling something are you?” he said. “I hate salesmen.”

The bear spread his arms.

“Do I look as though I’m selling something? I mean, d’you think I have a vacuum cleaner stored up my butt? Get a grip, man! Apart from anything else, who comes selling things at night in the middle of fucking winter?”

Fred was beginning to feel he might have to intervene. The cold was sneaking round the bear and joyfully insinuating itself, unable to believe its luck. Gavin saved him the effort and stepped to one side. The bear ducked his head, shuffled in, closed the door.

“You can sit in that chair,” said Gavin, indicating a substantial piece of furniture. “It was built for my Dad in the last few years of his life. He must have weighed about the same as you.”

The bear grunted; sat down.

“Got a beer?” he said, holding his paws out to the glowing stove.

“Sure,” said Gavin. “And would you like a sandwich as well?”

“Absolutely,” said the bear. “I could eat an Elk, antlers first and without any mayonnaise, I’m so hungry.”

Gavin stomped to the fridge, muttering. Fred put his chin on his paws and closed his eyes again. No good could possibly come from over-exertion in such a situation, he thought.

“Anyway,” said Gavin, handing the bear an open bottle of local brew called Moose Piss and feeling relieved it wasn’t Bear Poop or some other name which might be considered inflammatory in the circumstances, “Aren’t you supposed to be hibernating?”

The bear took a long pull at the bottle and wiped his mouth with the back of a huge paw.

“Yeah, well. I learned a lesson this year, I can tell you. Never rely on those cheap Walmart alarm clocks. The damn thing went off three months early, didn’t it? And there I was wide awake and with full-blown PHS.”

Gavin put down his beer and raised an eyebrow.


“Post Hibernation Syndrome. Characterised by excessive dry mouth, disorientation, devastating hunger and an overbearing urge to eviscerate anything that gets in your way.”

“Right,” said Gavin. “My last girlfriend used to get that all the time.”

“Harharhardehar,” said the bear. “Anyway, I bet she didn’t get as disoriented as me. Couldn’t find my way back to the cave. And here I am.”

The tableau of Man, Bear and Dog in Rustic Cabin in the Forest was beginning to fade. Gavin pumped up the pressure in the kerosene lamp. In its newly invigorated luminescence, dusty corners of the dwelling emerged as if from a fog. The bear found itself staring at the head of one of his kind, nicely mounted on an oak backing and hung just above head height. He blinked, twice, and then looked at Gavin.

“What did you say your occupation was, again?”

“I didn’t,” said Gavin. “I’m a hunter. You know, pelts, moose meat, that kind of thing.”

The silence which followed amplified the erratic timpani of the storm.

“Maybe you’re not aware of my Latin name,” said the bear.

Gavin looked blank: his default expression. Fred wondered if the moment was sufficiently grave to justify sitting up. The bear leaned forward.

Ursus Horribilis,” he roared, and sprang at Gavin in full PHS mode.

The evisceration was spectacular, both in its speed and its thoroughness. Within seconds, the room was festooned with digestive tract and internal organs and a great pool of blood was sending out feelers into the dusty depths of the cabin .

Fred was sitting up.

“That was a bit previous. If you’d waited a minute, I could have explained that the bear’s head on the wall is made from faux fur cunningly cut and sewn by an eccentric aunt of Gavin’s. It was the only thing she left him in her will.”

The bear slumped back into the chair.

“He said he was a hunter,” he growled. “I took him at his word.”

“Bad mistake. Mostly, he talks shit. In any case, he couldn’t hit a barn door at five paces with the wind in the right direction.”

The stove no longer glowed; cold seeped in round the edges of the cabin. The bear glowered.

“Get some fucking wood on that stove before we freeze our asses off, there’s a good boy.”

Fred lifted his front paw and looked at it.
“Unless you’ve developed an opposable claw, buddy, I think we’re stuffed as far as that’s concerned.”

The bear roared and lurched towards Fred on all fours. The dog was ready for him and, moving with a speed which would have stunned his master, he leaped onto the table, onto the bear’s back and sank his teeth into the great backbone, just below the neck. He bit down with a ferocity born of genetic diligence. The bear collapsed: grizzly monster to hairy rug in seconds. Fred stepped off; took a long drink of water from his bowl; licked blood from his fur. He sauntered to the wall of fire wood which was stacked at the back of the room, chose a log and took it to the stove. With a deft paw action, he opened the stove, pushed the log in and closed the door.

He lay down to await the return of comfort.

“Looks like nothing but bear meat on the menu till Spring,” he said, and closed his eyes.


Filed under Bears, Short story, Writing

In the Maine, Community Banks kick ass

I confess. It is eight months since my last post. I am a lapsed Prolific. Since then: I’ve been home to Scotland; decided (with my loyal wife and life companion Juli) to move from Southern Maryland to Maine – six hundred miles and a climatic climactic away. Now we are near to family, who can share the care needed for our almost ninety-year-old parents/parents-in-law. Even if we still have to do the bulk of it, at least we can see everyone most weeks and it doesn’t involve an eleven or twelve hour journey. Now we live in a house which is all on one level. We’re still in the woods, but we can see the trees. And New England has some pleasures for us that we hadn’t realized.

Here is one out of many.

All over the US, there are community banks which still focus on what banks ought to focus on – the needs of customers and the security of their money. These banks weathered the 2008 crisis and its aftermath with the consummate skill of the good sailor. No toxic loans for them. No silly selling of unwanted or undesirable financial products. Just good, solid, sensible business, with the customer at the forefront.

Here in Freeport, we found three local banks which have a long history in the area. We chose, mainly because it was closest by about half a mile, the Bath Savings Institution. The local branch is modern, friendly and competent. It offers everything the twenty-first century customer needs, plus you get personal service and the sense of being part of a family. But the thing that really sold it for me was the fact that they decorate the interior of their building with pictures of old sailing ships. Plus, wonder of wonders, our debit card has a tall ship as its background. What’s not to like?

Bank of America (and others), eat your sad, greedy heart out.

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Filed under Writing

Snippet of the Week

From the novel Flight of the Butterfly, rumoured to be nearing completion. The action here takes place in a former CCTV surveillance centre in the Pilton area of Edinburgh, Scotland. This is not the first time the two characters have appeared in the story.

In the  light of the monitor-phalanx, Sharon Renton performed her art. Keyboard and joystick extended the reach of nerves and synapses as she processed passing data into a three-dimensional picture of Pilton and its environs. Her skill was a synthesis of speed, capacity and imagination. Sometimes, she could tell what was going to happen next.

“No kidding,” Hughie would say. “Our Sharon can see into the future.”

Into the future, indeed. But it was the past that gripped Hughie. Ever since the huge Glaswegian had rumbled into their tiny space, he hadn’t been himself. As if memories had derailed his personal train. For a moment, Sharon’s seldom-seen face paused in its bubblegum-fuelled metamorphosis.

“Are you going to be a miserable git forever, Morrison, or is there some relief in sight?”

She could sense his shuffling, elephantine presence behind her.

“He was always that size, you know,” he said. “Like a rock. A big rock. He could have crushed all the other weans in the class without breaking sweat. But they didn’t take him on, of course. Too risky.”

“Aye, well,” said Sharon. “Sounds to me like he was a great pal to have, especially with you being such an unmitigated one-boy freak show.”

Hughie felt a change of subject coming on. Something more in his comfort zone. But it failed to materialise. Like a grandfather clock given a dunt by a passing stranger, everything jangled. Intimations of a past life, best forgotten, set off alarm bells in the present.

“I’ve missed something, Sharon. Something really important.”

Narrow-eyed, he peered at the screens as if inspiration might spring from there. A subtle change in the sound signature of the room caught his attention; Sharon had stopped chewing. She swivelled round to face him: “a rosebud blooming in the midst of a pile of shite,” as her mother had once said.

“What’s up, Dough-head,” she snapped. “Losing your marbles? ”

Hughie blinked.

“No, not at all, Sharon dear. I think I may just have found them. And tomorrow, I’m going to do something I haven’t done since I can’t remember when.”

Her face rushed through a series of genetically-encoded expression changes, before settling on utter disgust.

“Christ Almighty, Hughie! I hope your not talking about what I think your talking about. I mean, a girl could have nightmares about such a prospect. In fact, I’m having a nightmare right now.”

He waved a hand.

“No, no. For goodness sake, woman. Nothing like that. No, I’m going to go on a journey.”

Sharon shook her head and turned back to the screens.

“Well, see and take some string with you, Marco Polo. If you get lost, I’m not coming after you.”


Filed under Writing

Heather The Hound

Heather The HoundIn September of last year, our beloved Joe The Dog (sometimes known as JTD) was tragically and unexpectedly whisked off to the Great Doggy Park in the Sky. He was chasing a squirrel at the time, and failed to notice the SUV bearing down on him. We like to think that he was at least doing something he enjoyed when he died.

The thing is, I looked on Joe as a canine muse. Twice a day, he and I would walk the beach or stomp through forest trails. He would sniff out the delicious smells, forage for crunchy snacks and, occasionally, play fetch or wrestle a bit. I would wander into my alternate universe, peopled by the characters and the stories that I had created. Here was the ideal opportunity to chew on plot tangles, develop personalities and play out dialogue and action.

His departure didn’t stop me writing, but it certainly did slow things down. I thought I might continue the walks on my own, but the motivation was gone and I found it hard to be accompanied by JTD’s ghost everywhere I went.

Time past. We decided not to get another dog. “They are such a tie,” we said. “They take up so much time,” we said. “They are so expensive,” we said. And yet. Without any previous discussion, we discovered one day that we were both thinking that the time had come. Enter Heather The Hound (HTH). Heather’s early family history is a blank sheet. She was almost certainly bred as a hunting dog (she is a Harrier mix) and then dumped somewhere in North Carolina or Southern Virginia. She was rescued from an ignominious death at the Dog Pound by our local Animal Welfare League and then we happened along. So far, both parties in the arrangement are ecstatically happy. I get my dog-walking time back, we have a dog to keep us company on the sofa when we watch TV in the evening and Heather gets a new pack which offers her comfort, care, security and love.


Filed under Pets, Writing

Stuart’s Leibster Blog Award, Part The First

I have to confess, my first reaction to KJ Waters making this award was one of disappointment. But this was only because I had read it (in the absence of my reading specs) as the LOBSTER award. I do eat lobster, but it’s not my favorite. Having sorted that out, I was then intrigued by the name, thinking that perhaps it might have some Irish connotation. Turned out I was confusing it with Leinster, which is one of the counties in Ireland. Leibster is German for favorite. One lives and learns day by day. Indeed one does.

Anyway, a big thanks to KJ for including me in her list of awarded bloggers. I am genuinely honored.

The rules of this award (for the hard-working author gets nothing for nothing, as I ought to know) mean that I have to divulge eleven random facts about myself and answer KJ’s eleven questions. Finally, I have to nominate eleven bloggers for the award. Phew! I have achieved the first two goals, but still working on the third. I’ll post the final list in a day or two.

Random facts

  1. Most of my childhood was spent living in a small village on the shores of the Holy Loch, in the Clyde estuary in Scotland, which later became the base for the US Polaris submarine fleet. (There is no connection between these two things, as far as I am aware).
  2. I’m 65 years old. Kind of late middle age…
  3. My stock response to people here in the US who say “I love your accent – just say something for me,” is “Aye, no bad. Ah wiz born up a wally close wi a richt eneugh midden in the back court, an ootside cludgie an nae bath. Ma ma used tae gie me a syne doon wance a week in the jawbox.” (Translation available on request).
  4. I can occasionally be induced to sing. Drink is usually taken on such occasions. By those listening.
  5. I love to sail. Our dear old 30-foot Morgan sailboat lives just ten minutes away from our home here on the Chesapeake Bay.
  6. I have two delightful grandchildren (a three-year-old and a one-year-old) who live in Portland, Maine.
  7. I’m an enthusiastic chef.
  8. I’m not a fan of Ernest Hemingway.
  9. I’m married to my editor.
  10. I can turn my hand to almost any task around the house, including electrics, plumbing, carpentry and cleaning toilets.
  11. I’ve never liked soccer, so I don’t support any UK football team. This is a major social drawback for a Scotsman, I can tell you!

KJ’s Questions

1. What is your favorite movie and why?
Out of dozens that would come into this category, I’ll choose Fargo at random. Wonderfully directed, great performances and a fine story about human weakness and degradation being defeated by a strong woman with no pretensions. What’s not to like?

2. Who is your favorite author and why?
Impossible question, but I can do this. It has to be Patrick O’Brian and his wonderful Aubrey/Maturin series. I read all twenty of them in a row. Beautifully written, great characters and wonderful stories. The hero is also based on a real historical character, who happens to be a Scotsman, so that made it even better!

3. What is the concept behind your blog? Simply to promote your book/skills/product or a bigger purpose, like mine as therapy to deal with my current location?
Concept? Concept? Good grief! You think there was some PLAN here? My original intention was to attract readers by writing something that was just a bit different, loosely focused around my writing activities. The jury is still OUT!

4. What is your favorite meal?
Mince and tatties (explanation available for the uninitiated).

5. What would you describe as your biggest personal accomplishment?
Raising children. No question.

6. Why are you so awesome? I ask this because I chose you…apparently I think you’re pretty fab.
I might fantasize that it’s because I’m good-looking, loving, intelligent, sociable and compassionate, but really I haven’t a clue. Anything to do with the way I write? Oh, I give in…

7. What is your favorite household appliance and why? Ha! How’s that for a quirky question.
Our Black & Decker bread-maker. My wife bought it for me at a thrift store for $10 and it makes wonderful bread. Coming into the kitchen in the morning to the smell of fresh bread and coffee is one of life’s great joys!

8. Boxers or briefs
Briefs every time. When it comes to those all-important bits, I like a sense of security.

9. What is your favorite holiday and why?
Cruising in our good old sailboat or traveling anywhere in Italy. Gorgeous country, beautiful cities, great food, excellent wine. In spite of all its political and financial problems, it is still one of the most civilized countries in the world.

10. What is your favorite restaurant? Why?
The King’s Wark in Edinburgh, Scotland. Essentially a fine, old-fashioned pub, it has a superb restaurant which serves some of the finest food I’ve ever eaten. A great ambiance and relaxed, friendly service complete the perfect eating experience.

11. Which question above was the hardest to answer? Why?
Ach, there were all easy-peasy… (wipes sweat from brow).


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