West Uist Chronicle – Keith’s blog


The West Uist Chronicle has always prided itself on standing up for the common good.  Everyone on teh island knows that there is no place like West Uist. We have everything you could need. Community spirit, fantastic natural resources, staggering scenery – and plenty of wind.

Well, the wind is proving more than a bone of contention at the moment. The new owner of Dunshiffin Castle, who does not wish to be named, even though he is claiming to be the ‘Laird,’ has plans to turn the Wee Kingdom into a wind farm.

    As everyone knows, the Wee Kingdom has been a crofting community ever since the Rising of 1745. The tenants have rights of farming, fishing and shooting on the little star-shaped islet. Now the new ‘Laird’ is threatening to change all that. The West Uist chronicle asks ‘is this fair?’ ‘Is this the thin end of the wedge?’

 If like us at the Chronicle you have concerns about these two issues – firstly, should we welcome a wind farm on our island? And secondly, are we prepared to sit and let outsiders ride rough-shod over us and our folk? – then come to the Duncan institute tonight for a meeting about the issues of wind. It promises to be a lively discussion.

Calum Steele

Inspector Torquil McKinnon had been devastated when he returned to the island to discover that Constable Ewan McPhee, his best friend was missing, presumed drowned. Then when a crofter died in a climbing accident, a dog was poisoned and a body was discovered face down in a rock pool, he began to suspect that there was a killer on the loose. Could all this somehow be connected with the controversial building of wind towers which enraged the local crafting community and worried the conservation group?

If you want to know more, then read the novel   DEATHLY WIND by Keith Moray


We on the island have always enjoyed the annual Gathering for the Games. This year Inspector Torquil McKinnon, known to everyone (on the right side of the law) as ‘Piper’ is competing for the Silver Quaich in the piping championships. He told our special correspondent that he is hoping to emulate his uncle, Lachlan McKinnon, who as everyone knows was the 1967 Supreme Champion of the Outer Isles. And our old friend PC Ewan McPhee will be competing in the wrestling and the highland hammer throwing, hoping to retain his titles in each.

But we are very pleased to be seeing the Literary Festival come to the island for the first time ever. They have them in London and a few other English towns. Wales has one in Hay-on-Wye, and even the lowland town of Wigtown has one. Now do not be getting me wrong here. These are all very fine places, but the West Uist Literary Festival is going to be the best of them all. We have a sparkling line up of local and national authors. We have Agnes Dunbar, the former head cook at Dunshiffin Castle who is going to be giving us an insight into what is really set before the laird when she talks about her new book GAME, FISH, STOVIES and WHISKY.

          Then we have our own Gaelic fisherman poet, Ranald Buchanan who will be reciting poems from his latest collection SONGS OF THE SELKIE.
         But pride of place on the literary bill is going to be Fiona Cullen, the Queen of Scottish Crime. As you all know she cut her literary teeth by assisting me as a cub reporter on the West Uist Chronicle, before she went on to greater things. She will be talking about her latest novel which will soon be hitting the bookshelves of all the major outlets across the land. She tells us that it has some pretty explosive stuff in it. It is entitled DEAD WRITERS TELL NO TALES.

Personally I can’t wait to hear what it is about!

Calum Steele,

The scene is set. To find out more check out the novel

                        or in Large Print                 

Inspector McKinnon hunts down a serial killer. The mysterious drowning of Ranald Buchanan, an acclaimed Gaelic fisherman-poet, on the first night of the literary festival hardly sets the right tone for the celebrations. For one thing it rekindles age-old fears about the Selkie, the seal-man who claims his victims and drags them beneath the waves. Torquil McKinnon, recently promoted to the rank of inspector in the Hebridean constabulary, soon has his hands full. Not only has his old flame, crime writer Fiona Cullen, returned to the island for the festival, but also it appears there is a serial killer on the loose. And dead writers tell no tales…


Dear Readers,
We are back in good old West Uist. The typewriter is a bit dusty, but as soon as we have gone through our mailbag, stocked up the fridge and checked up on the Lambretta’s mileage, we will be getting articles posted on all manner of subjects.
We are going to have interviews, reviews, guest blogs and general interest pieces on all aspects of writing.
For now, putting on the  editorial western hat, this is to alert you to the fact that another of the excellent Black Horse Western weekends is soon going to start.
Reminder from: blackhorsewesterns Yahoo! Group
Saturday October 9, 2010
All Day
This event repeats every day until Sunday October 10, 2010.
Chat, leave questions and talk about all things Old West with BHW author Terry James (aka Joanne Walpole)
These weekends are lively affairs. If you want to find out about writing a western novel then tune in and ask the author a question.
More soon.


Dear Readers,

Rain, rain, rain!

That means the fishing is too good to miss up, so we have extended our little fishing expedition and will not be back at the editorial desk for about a week. But one of the things that Calum suggested is to do a who’s who of West Uist.

A good thing to ponder as we wait for the fish to bite (never mind the midges!)


Although we announced that the first edition of the West Uist Chronicle would not be coming out until
mid-October we could not miss the opportunity of getting Isabel Atherton the Director and Literary Agent at Creative Authors to give us an insight into her working day.

And so without further ado we hand you over to Isabel.

                                                                   Isy on the seafront
Dr Keith Souter has kindly asked me to jot up a day in the life of Creative Authors Literary Agency. We are a young, boutique literary agency, established in early 2008. Our list is growing with book deals coming through and being signed off quickly. In 2011 we see 24 of our books published. We represent an eclectic list of authors and our titles range from books on knitted aliens, crime fiction, cookery books on jelly and cocktails and histories on 50s popular culture to voodoo.
Like every other agency, there is no typical day, and I personally find being a literary agent endlessly enjoyable and rewarding. The following is roughly an account of my day to day as director and literary agent at CA Ltd. I’ve listed this in an hourly fashion for ease of reading.
I can’t start my day without a nice cup of Earl Grey (one sugar). Once I’ve dusted off the sleepy dust and my brain is starting to whirl I’ll settle down to the morning’s emails. We’re very much an electronic office and much prefer email submissions (it’s better for the environment), so I’ll have anything from 20-30 or more emails from the night before. These will range from unsolicited email submissions to emails from clients brainstorming late at night (a lot of my clients find their best ideas come later in the evening) and also my overseas clients. I have overseas clients in Canada, USA and Australia.
I’ll open each and every one – scan and decide which ones take priority.  My urgent pile varies from day to day, but some of my regular duties will be chasing payments due from publishers, administering payments to international clients and UK based clients, keeping track of royalties and making sure these are correct and querying if there is something that doesn’t seem quite right. Other interaction with my authors’ publishers range from  negotiating contracts, the content of a title, to book covers to extended deadlines to querying withholding tax, suggesting publicity ideas and more.
If I’m not working through my lunch break or meeting with a publisher or author, I’ll try and go for a walk to a supermarket and grab a salad. It gives me time to let my eyes adjust from being sat at a screen for a number of hours. It also helps clear my mind. I’ll then settle down and read all the online broadsheets and tabloids – keeping up with current affairs, as well as sourcing new ideas. One book I am proud, that came about via this means, was ‘Jelly’ by Bompas & Parr. I happened to read an article about the jelly duo in The Sunday Times and a light bulb clicked on. I thought at the time, I hadn’t seen a cookery book on jelly, if ever, which led me to approach them and they signed with the agency and we are now working on a second title: ‘Cocktails with Bompas & Parr’ (Anova, pub, June 2011).

                                                ‘Jelly with Bompas & Parr’

I have always enjoyed sourcing new clients/ideas myself. I think this probably comes from originally having worked in marketing and journalism and being in a situation where new ideas for a campaign or article are needed yesterday. I tend to follow my gut instinct and will trawl the web/books/newspapers widely and if Lady Luck is smiling sometimes a new idea or person to contact will leap out and grab me, but those are very special days and I truly believe creativity is a blessing.

                  Isy on a work trip to New York
I also tend to use Twitter throughout the day. I follow various publishers, book bloggers and authors and it’s a great resource to see what is being published and the mood of the industry both in the UK, Europe and the US. I’ll Tweet things that interest me, are relevant to my authors or anything that is of a general interest happening in the book world.
With all online content of interest, whether articles or blogs, if I see something that I feel will be of relevance to one of my authors I will pass the link on. It’s funny where ideas can sometimes come from.
Hooked by Clare Gee
Apart from brainstorming new ideas with my authors, I will suggest new directions if something isn’t working or feeling a little tired. I’m also very keen on my authors promoting and marketing themselves and will suggest how best to do this, whether running a competition on their Twitter or Facebook page or starting a blog and keeping their website fresh and interesting.
When an author and I have really nailed their proposal or manuscript and it’s polished and ready to go out. I’ll settle down, research the market, see what the competition is and focus and narrow down where that book project will be best placed. Once these are submitted, I keep a track of when the response is due and follow up with publishers when appropriate.
The best outcome from a submission is naturally an auction with a number of publishers and these are delicately handled by the agency for the best possible outcome for the author. There are also times when submissions are narrowed down to one specific publisher, who we feel are the right fit. A recent such title was Dr Keith Souter’s ‘Now You’re Talking! What To Say When You’re Tongue-Tied And Terrified (Hodder Education, Pub. May 2011)
With all books it’s always a joy to receive that email/call from a publisher saying “Yes, we’d like to make an offer.” That always makes my day and the author’s too of course!

                                            Knitted Aliens by Fiona McDonald
This is the time of day, where I’ll sit down and read the unsolicited manuscripts and proposals that have come through. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide detailed feedback to writers, but I will sometimes suggest another agency, if the work is very good but not my area of expertise.
Punk Fiction by Janine Bullman
I’ll also settle down with my author’s manuscripts and assess what needs changing and where the strengths lie in a piece of work. If I’m on top of things, then I like to read for pleasure in the evenings. I tend to read a wide range of books – anything from non-fiction books to books on social history to literary fiction. However, my clients come first, so it’s not every evening I have that luxury.
Some evenings there will be a publishing party or a reading or book launch to attend. These can be enjoyable nights to chat to others in the industry and to have a general catch-up. The evenings also allow me to catch up with my business partner and company secretary and we will discuss how the day has gone. This can range from discussing which author is working on a particular book and how negotiations are progressing on a contract and whether there are any outstanding payments still being chased. This is a special time of day where we can think about where the business is going and how we would like to see it develop and progress.
For more information on Creative Authors Ltd and our clients, please visit our website at: http://www.creativeauthors.co.uk


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Our esteemed editor, Calum Steele has been debating whether or not to trade in his old yellow Lambretta for something more modern. He is mulling it over while he is on a job on the mainland, so in the meanwhile he has left it for the honorary editor to use as he buzzes about the island in search of newspaper copy.

It doesn’t look too bad. Perhaps an oil change and a bit of tinkering will do the trick. And maybe even a little wash – if I dare Calum’s ire!


Dear Readers,

Welcome to the new look of this faithful old paper, which is being brought to you from West Uist courtesy of cyber-space. It is faster than the Hebridean ferries that we have been using up until now.

The ediorial team are deep in discussions and have a few things to iron out before we start sending out regular editions. We plan to begin mid-October.

Come back soon!