Chat from the Committee – 18th April 2018

Note of the Meeting of Nethergate Writers – 18 April 2018

Present: Abby Lyons, Craig Mudie, David Carson, David Francis, Ray Kinsman, Richard Begg, Roddie McKenzie, Rosie Baillie.

David C. chaired the meeting.

1. Group Secretary

We do not have a secretary. In the absence of a volunteer, David C. agreed to take on this role for an interim period.

Rosie to pass contact details for SAW and Dalhousie room bookings.

2. Fifty Shades

Abby and Craig updated the group on progress made, which has been considerable.
Working with Stuart Lindsay of Pulse North, they have designed and produced mocks up of the front and back cover, and the format for each page with accompanying illustration. One or two small tweaks required, to be completed very soon.
There is also a foreword, and the list of contributors and three word bios.

Abby and Craig were congratulated and warmly thanked for their excellent work.

We made some decisions:
– we will not take out an ISBN number, but save it for a future, perhaps larger, publication
– print run of 300. This is more economical than one of 200 followed by one of 100
– sale price to be decided when we see a real copy. We want to have the anthology read by as many as possible, and not price ourselves above a market rate
– set up a marketing/publicity sub group. Rosie and Abby volunteered, but all are expected to make suggestions on launch and sale points.

Some suggestions were made during discussion:
* launch event in June, having consideration for a date that avoids clashes with other events
* possible venue – Little Theatre (given their approach to us)
* Courier/DC Thomson for publicity
* Scots magazine article
* West Fest for sales
* sales outlets to be pursued include Waterstones, DCA, Discovery Point, Birnam Arts Centre, Botanic Gardens, and towns/villages along the Tay.
* use poster versions of appropriate page for publicity (eg Little Theatre for Little Theatre)
* Sell through out website
* Literary festival (Rosie and Roddie to enquire)
* Christmas time focus for sales

3. Arrangements for future meetings

One NW meeting each month during Tutored term time. Proposal to have next NW meeting on the date of the fifth tutored class, (ie 23 May), then 27 June. To be confirmed with tutor.

4. Format of tutored class

We discussed ways we might best benefit from the class, in terms of the balance between taught content and provision of feedback on work submitted.
Abby will relay our suggestions prior to first meeting on 25 April.
All members asked to consider topics for the taught component.

World Poetry Day 2018

Here’s a piece for World Poetry Day 2018 from one of our members, Roddie McKenzie.

Mind and Poem

I am the man,
the poem lives in me,
impressions of wondrous
things that I see,
fished out
by the neural net of my mind.
With paper and pen,
this beauty
I bind.

I am the mind, the poem is I,
the crystallised thought
that will never die.
Distilled from centuries of fermented thought.
I am the spirit,
folk should have sought.

I am the man, the poem, the soul.
created in flesh for an immortal role.
I am Malkuth, beginning and end
I am Kether, the cosmic diadem.

Roddie McKenzie, 1972 (tweeked March20th 2018).

New AGM Date

Following its postponement last week due to the snow, our AGM has now been rescheduled, and will be held on Monday 12th March at 7pm in Room 2S11 of the Dalhousie Building.
Our Chair, David Carson, has promised ‘interest and entertainment – guaranteed’, so we do hope you can make it along next week.

AGM Postponed

AGM Postponed – 28th February 2018


Due to the current bad weather and the forecast of more to come today, the committee has unanimously decided to postpone tonight’s scheduled AGM.

Further details of the rescheduled date will be available as soon as possible.

A Nethergate Writer’s Success.

Dundee Rep, in association with the University of Dundee, launched a creative writing competition to accompany its ensemble production of “Deathtrap”, its first production of the year. It’s an ‘edge of your seat murder mystery play.’

The task was to write an original piece of fiction in no more than 500 words. The subject was writing about writing.

A very large entry was received, so it is gratifying that one of our Nethergate Writers is a prize winner. Craig A. Mudie was one of two runners up.

We’re delighted for him. It’s well-deserved. We’re also pleased that one of our Nethergate Writers has been recognised in this way.

Further details can be found here –

David Carson
Chair, NW

Meet the Nethergate Writers – Fiona Pretswell

This is the fourth of our occasional series of Q&As, to help you get to know a little about the members of the Nethergate Writers.

This time, it’s our Secretary, Fiona Pretswell.

1. How long have you been a writer?
I wrote as a young teenager then not again for years. Started again about 7 years ago.

2. Have you had anything published?
Four stories in the Nethergate Writers anthologies and a story in one of the Dundee Writes publications.

3. Do you have a writing routine?
No. I write whenever I can but don’t get much time to do so.

4. Who is your literary hero or heroine?
Charlotte Bronte for creating one of the best woman in literature in Jane Eyre.

5. Do you prefer working in a particular genre?
I usually start as chick lit but end up with death and destruction.

6. Do you have any writing ambitions?
I would love to write a crime novel.

7. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Get a notebook and start writing down stuff that you find interesting. Overheard conversations or news stories that spark and idea.

8. What are you reading at the moment?
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Nethergate Writers Meeting – 29th November 2017 – Minutes


Present: Roddie, Richard, Craig, Ray, David F. and David C.

1. Business.

1. Fifty Shades…

The idea of hiring students to give layout proposals is still seen as a good one. It was agreed that we (NW) should make direct contact with an appropriate class, and ask for entries to a pictorial competition, and that we would select the one that best reflected our ideas. We agreed a payment of up to £150.

Craig will make contact and report back.

Layout. Craig made suggestions as to how the pieces might be ordered. He had divided them into 5 categories;
– areas outside Dundee
– specific to river and bridges
– transport
– old Dundee
– modern Dundee

Craig said that he would send round to all members his suggested ordering and get reactions

Roddie will contact Dundee Literary Festival to seek a slot in the next Festival.

Deadline. We hoped that April might be a realistic aim.

Outlets for selling: Discovery Point, Tourist Office, Watermill Aberfeldy, and others.

2. City of Culture bid.

General regret expressed at the decision to suspend participation (although feeling was pessimistic about a positive outcome to the review).
We will look again at our project to see if there is any mileage in going it alone. David C. to do this with another volunteer (any takers?)

3. AGM.

This needs to be held by 11April at the latest (ie 15 months maximum since the last one.) D.C. will email the committee to set up a meeting in January to finalise date and agenda.

2. Writing.

Roddie had circulated two pieces.

(a) Polarity of Horizons.

A powerful poem dealing with bi-polar and related issues. The sustained metaphor was particularly appreciated., and we had a good discussion about an image late in the second verse about musical chairs.

(b) Carpe Diem.

This is an elegiac eulogy, and a very effective one. Many recognisable human failings are alluded to:
“We would catch up , eventually,
No worries”

And of course it doesn’t happen. The last line is also a summary of the themes:
“Time makes fools of us all.”

David C. 2 December 2017

Whatever The Weather

Here’s a short piece by one of our members, Fiona Pretswell, taken from a writing exercise we did in one of our recent classes.

Whatever The Weather

It’s a Wednesday morning. 10.13 am. Not quite tea break time and I’m bored. No customers since we opened. I look up from my spreadsheet. Angie is filing her nails as per usual. Neil has his head buried in his desk. Could there be an more obvious way to use your phone at work. I really hope it isn’t porn again and if it is that he’s got the sound turned down. Unlike the last time.

I stifle a yawn behind a smile and rearrange my business cards.

The shop darkens. I look up to check the lights but the darkness has come in from the window. The sky is now almost black and huge hailstones are bouncing off the pavement. I stand up and walk over to watch. It’s like the world has changed to monochrome. The high street is deserted, shoppers scurrying for the nearest shelter. Our bell rings, I turn towards the noise and an elderly couple enter, scattering hail as they shake themselves off.

“We’d like to book a holiday” he says.

“A cruise” she adds “a long one”.

I smile again.

“Yes of course. Please, take a seat. A window cabin, a balcony?”

The commission is clocking up in my head. This global warming is good for us – sometimes.


Ah I think. Where fools rush in.

Meet the Nethergate Writers – David Carson

Here’s the third part of our occasional series of Q&As, where we get to know a little about the members of the Nethergate Writers.

This time, it’s our Chair, David Carson.

1. How long have you been a writer?
Most pen-to-paper activities are writing in its broadest sense. I’ve been doing that from an early age – letters, memos, papers on subjects connected with my work in education. But I’ve only been attempting serious imaginative writing since I retired a number of years ago.

2. Have you had anything published?
When I was about ten years old, I entered a competition run by a Glasgow newspaper. The task was to write a story about “my pet dog”. To my surprise, I won, and my wee story duly appeared in the paper. The thing is, I didn’t have a dog, or indeed a pet of any kind at that time. So maybe that’s where my interest in fiction began!

I’ve had stories in seven of the Nethergate Writers books, but since these are to all intents and purposes self-published, by the group, I’m not sure that they count.

3. Do you have a writing routine?
No, but I have a thinking one. I often drop off to sleep in bed going over possible plots and characters that could become stories. The problem is that I’ve usually forgotten them come the morning.

4. Who is your literary hero or heroine?
I particularly admire Alice Munro. I think she’s unsurpassed as a short story writer. I also enjoy any book about the outdoors – Robert McFarlane is a fantastic writer – and especially about Scotland and its mountains. Mountaineering in Scotland by W. H. Murray, and The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd are particular favourites that I read at least once a year.

I recently came across a trilogy of novels by Kent Haruf, and was bowled over. And I very much enjoy the novels of Helen Dunmore and Sebastian Barry.

David, hard at work.

5. Do you prefer working in a particular genre?
Apart from the occasional stab at poetry (usually with a blunt instrument!), I have only written short stories and, more often, bits of short stories.

6. Do you have any writing ambitions?
I keep hoping that practice will make, if not perfect, at least for an improving ability to create some memorable characters in interesting and unusual situations.

7. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
To give advice implies a degree of expertise – so I will limit myself to suggesting two things – to take notes of what you hear and see (and read) in your daily life and routine; and to not be intimidated by the blank sheet of paper in front of you. Write, then revise.

8. What are you reading at the moment?
Now that I have more time, I’m becoming a bit of a profligate reader. Apart from an almost daily dose of Ralph Storer’s many guides to the Scottish Munros, I’m enjoying The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, Herring Tales by Donald S. Murray, Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy and collected short stories entitled Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami. And also a memoir by the Australian author Tim Winton.