Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Nairn Book & Arts Festival 09

The Nairn festival crams so much into the wee town over a week that this year ‘Book Week’ is going to last eight days.

Expect the usual imaginative blend of entertainment and bite, local and national, famous and unknown. On the writing front look out for Liz Lochhead, James Kelman, William Dalrymple and Erica James as well as the Highland’s own renaissance man James Ross and a positive rash of local writers.

There’s a creative writing workshop from Cynthia Rogerson, director of the Arvon Foundation’s Moniack Mhor. Book early!

Dates: 5th – 13th June 09

See for details.


Ullapool Book Festival

The programme is out for Ullapool, one of the first book festivals of the season. I went to last year’s event and enjoyed the way literary and folk traditions are given equal attention. The small venues make the most of the ceilidh atmosphere and there’s a chance for local and visiting writers to share their work at open mike evenings in the parlour.

This year’s line up includes AL Kennedy and Bernard McLaverty but the limelight might just be pinched by the wee gem that is Isle Martin, where several of the sessions are being held. Access by boat and time to wander through a nugget of west coast history in the tea break… not to be missed if you’re able to get there.

Sadly it’s on during my holidays this year so if you’re lucky enough to go yourself, drop by here afterwards and give us a review.

Golden Hour Literary Cabaret Tour

Evenings of readings and music from the gang from Edinburgh’s Forest Cafe. Come on, they’ve made the effort to come north. That’s got to be a good reason to support the gigs. 

Thursday 12th March 09 , 8pm at the Applecross Inn, Applecross.

Friday 13th March 09, 8pm at Mad Hatter’s, Hootenanny, Church St, Inverness.

Price: free but donations welcome.

Click here to visit The Forest’s website

Winter Words Festival, Pitlochry

Pitlochry’s Winter Words Festival is on at the Festival Theatre from 22nd-25th January 09.

Download the brochure from the theatre’s website. There’s an interesting line-up, with Andrew Greig and Christopher Sommerville standing out for me. Everything from faery tales to guerilla gardening, with literary lunches in between. Could be worth a trip down the A9.

Nanowrimo 08

nanonovember120x90penIn the first of a series of occasional guest interviews, Anastasia Drummond has all the facts on this year’s National Novel Writing Month and how the Highlands fared in the annual wordfest. Anastasia, from Skye, has participated in Nanowrimo seven times and is a Municipal Liaison volunteer.

Tell us about Nanowrimo and how you got involved.

Nanowrimo is an annual writing event as well as a web contest. It’s about getting folks who say they want to write a novel to actually take a shot at doing it. It’s an amazing challenge. I’m not a writer. I got into it the first year because my daughter challenged me to. I beat her that first year, but only just.

The challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel from scratch in a month. Are there many mad scribblers in the Highlands and Islands who had a go this year?

There are a lot of folks in the ‘Scotland – Elswhere’ region. It’s hard to isolate them as a group, but there are more every year. We have folk scattered all over. On Skye this year we had 8 people sign up and 6 finish.

119,390 people worldwide signed up for the challenge this year. How did we do in Scotland?

Scotland as a whole was amazing this year. We had a 31% finish rate. Comparing that to the world average of 18.2, I’m really pleased. On average word count, Skye was fourth in the world.

Must be something in the water in Portree, or maybe all the encouragement that’s on hand. What’s your job as an ML?

I organize meet-ups, write pep-talks, monitor the forums so that people play nice, give encouragement and ‘repeated encouragement’ to anyone who needs it. I answer questions and e-mails. I send out press-releases. This year I went on local radio to help promote the event. I hung up posters. Did my best to help folks reach their dream.

Would you recommend Nano to anyone thinking of signing up next November?

By and large I think Nanowrimo is something most folk should give a go. But especially anyone with a story to tell. I think it’s good to challenge yourself, even if it isn’t your idea of fun. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either.

It’s not a casual challenge; it’s hard work for most people. But there’s a lot to be gained from the experience.

Thanks to Anastasia for taking the time to tell us about Nanowrimo 08. If you’re looking for any further encouragement to sign up next year, I can reveal that her ‘encouragement’ involves plenty of chocolates and coffee. It worked for me.

Christmas literary evening

The Pen and I writing workshops in Nairn are holding an evening of Christmas literary entertainment at the Little Theatre on Thursday 18th December. Guests are promised a rich mix of seasonal stories and poetry, all written especially for the night. Look out for news on next year’s workshops and a residential creative writing holiday on the Pen & I website at

Reflections: Women in the Highlands

If you’re in Inverness during the month of November, drop into the Museum and Art Gallery and see the ‘Reflections: Women in the Highlands’ exhibition. In fact, even if you’re not in Inverness, get yourself down there. It’s well worth a look.

The nine portraits of Highland women in the exhibition are each accompanied by a piece of original new writing, specially commissioned in collaberation with Random Acts of Writing Magazine. I’d tell you they’re wonderful, but as I was one of the writers, you might not want to take my word for it. So head to Inverness and read them for yourself. They’re wonderful.

Writing events at Culloden

Here’s an update on the writing activities from the National Trust for Scotland at Culloden. Note that the dates on my earlier post had the wrong weekdays in the dates. Thanks to Lilian for keeping me right.

Venue: Culloden Moor Visitor Centre

Sun 16th November 08, and Sun 14 Dec 08, both 2-4pm – “Hidden Stories” – workshops for adults with Lilian Ross, aimed at novice writers.

Sat 7th February 08, 2-4pm – Creative writing workshop for children with Greg Dawson of the Scottish Storytelling Centre

nb Standard admission charges to the visitor centre apply to all of the above.

Further information at

NaNoWriMo 2008

Is anyone else in the Highlands taking part in this year’s National Novel Writing Month in November? I’m having a go for the first time and I’ve seen at least a couple of other locals on the NaNoWriMo regional board, so I’m not the only delusional optimist/masochist in the region.

If you’ve never come across NaNoWriMo, take a look at the website. The challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel, from scratch, in a month. No editing, no twiddling, just getting your story down. I’m hoping it will help cure me of my chronic twiddling tendencies.

If you’re signed up, give me a wave on the forums. I’m signed in as Highland Midge.

Boat of Garten Book Festival

Dates: 26th and 27th September 2008

Venue: Boat of Garten Community Hall

Interesting programme including Chris Bonnington and James Naughtie as well as a good pick of local writers.

“a full programme of talks, meet the author sessions, workshops, a book shop and a café – and on Friday evening there is a licensed bar.”

Sounds good to me.

For the full programme see