Chattering From The Chair – Wednesday 11th July 2018

We had the first of our summer meetings last week, and our Chair, David Carson, has all the details for you all.

Note of the Meeting of 11 July 2018

Present – Sue, Abby, Ray, Aileen, Richard, David C.
Apologies – Rosie, David F., Roddie, Craig, Colin

1. Business.
(a) Fifty Shades:
– Waterstone’s require a form to be completed before they stock books. Abby has done this and will chase up
– Press release: this has been done, but will not be sent until Waterstone’s is settled.
– Tweeting campaign for more publicity has been discussed but no action as yet
– selling success by Fiona (Discovery Centre) and Richard (Cairn no Mhor)
– endorsement for Fifty to be sought, with two proposals

(b) A new Project.
We discussed what this might be, and arrived at tentative suggestions that will need to be explored by the group as a whole.
– more substantial in terms of length than Fifty
– short stories?
– thematic link, broadly interpreted
– not too prescriptive at this stage
– quality control by peer assessment and possibly tutor advice
We agreed that we needed to have the parameters set out within a deadline. We fixed this as 19th September (which is probably the last of our summer meetings). This means that it will be a standing item at each meeting, and that all members need to be involved.

2. Writing.

Two pieces:
(a) Sue’s ‘The Approach of New Year’ is the second chapter of her Tay Bridge story.
We all liked it and thought the descriptions were vivid and authentic. Also the characters, particularly Archibald and Tam are well portrayed.
We looked at the show/tell dimension, and Sue agreed that some of the backstory could be conveyed by dialogue or action. Much enjoyed by all, and looking forward to the next instalment.

(b) David’s ‘Battle of Wounded Knee’ is an attempt at creating memoir from experiences that aren’t personal. While the voice of the narrator was convincing, there was discussion about the tense used. Perhaps it would be improved by going for present tense throughout.

3. Accommodation

The University has ceased giving free lets to any organisation. So we need to find elsewhere. Richard will pursue the Fire Station possibility. Meanwhile, thanks to Aileen’s generosity, we will meet at her abode next time (25 July). If you will be attending, email Aileen and she will give you directions. We hope to have a good attendance!

David C. 14 July 2018

AGM Minutes – 13th March 2018

Minutes  of AGM,  Nethergate Writers 13/3/18  Dalhousie Building Room 2S11

Present: Richard, David C, Craig, Rosie, Roddie, Sue and Ray.

Apologies: David F, Abby, Fiona, Aileen,  Susan, Colin

Minutes taken by Roddie.

The meeting was convened by the chair at 7.06 pm.

Minutes of 2017 AGM: These were approved (proposed Craig, seconded – Richard).

Matters arising: Rosie asked if the £1 meeting donation should continue- this was a universally supported.

Treasurer’s report:   Book stock list was the same as last year, bar for one sale (212 volumes remaining).  Some minor royalties (£0.35) were received from Amazon on old stock.

Money received– subs of £91.  Outgoings: bookmarks, web site and SAW subscription- these almost balanced.

Bank balance at 20th February- £725.20.  Not much net change since last year.

Web master’s report: Website – 32 posts in the last year. 457 unique visitors

Most popular pages were all ‘Meet the Nethergate Writers’ – followed by the pieces on Craig’s Rep contest win, Colin’s publication in Mind the Time and Roddie’s inclusion in New Writing Scotland.

Twitter – now up to 92 followers – most liked post was about our visit to Literary Dundee’s Write Stuff event in April.

Facebook – 130 folk Like our page.

Most Liked were again the Meet the Nethergate Writers posts, plus our Christmas and New Year greetings and the link to the Pecha-kucha presentation.

Chairman’s review of 2017: (David C) There had been 12 meetings (plus one cancelled) of the group with a maximum attendance of 12, minimum 6 and an average of 7.5 persons. Currently we have 15 members.

Events that the group or members took part in included: the Petcha Kutcha evening (Rosie and Abby, Feb17th, 2017- available on You Tube); the Dundee City of European Culture bid spearheaded by Craig; attendance at the Write Stuff meeting during the Dundee Literary Festival.

Notable successes of members in 2017 were as follows:

Colin- reading his poem at the Lit Fest from the anthology “Mind The Time” published by Nutmeg Magazine.

Roddie – published a short story in “She Said, He Said, I Said” New Writing Scotland published a letter and haikus in The Courier; a poem published on line at the Open Mouse website and he won second place and also had a highly commended poem in the Great Broughty Ferry Library Poetry Competition.  The latter will be published in a booklet by the library in 2018.

In an early win for 2018, Craig was awarded a runner up prize in the DCA Creative Writing Competion.

Engagement with membership; issues from review:

Dundee European Capital of culture bid:  This was headed by Craig, but sadly died a death as a casualty of Brexit. Roddie pointed out recent news about attempts to set Dundee as a cultural hub, which may give a second life to that project.

Membership of SAW: Craig proposed that we keep on membership for another year. Seconded by Roddie.  This was agreed by the group.

Engagement with membership:  It was recognised that there is a problem of access for members who do not attend Zoe’s classes. Some solutions were` suggested.  David suggested a NW meeting on a regular basis while the class was running. The difficulties of scheduling another evening meeting for members was highlighted.   Rosie suggested that the fortnightly meetings of NW out with class terms should continue, this was supported by the majority.   Roddie suggested that NW members not in the class could email round their pieces when the class was running, for comments from members. David said he would be happy to email all NW writers regarding options on meetings/feedback.

A possibility suggested by Craig was that all NW members be contacted with view to having a discussion in the first NW meeting after classes finish to discuss these options.  Another topic for discussion suggested was what form future classes run by Zoe should take.

Fifty Shades of Tay update:  Craig and David C remarked that this had been the most successful joint project of the revived group to date.  Craig and Abby had met with a designer/publisher who could produce and print 200 copies for £400.  It was anticipated that the pamphlet would sell for a minimum of £3 with production costs of approx. £2/copy.  The booklet would have cover art and be A6 in size.  Craig reminded all members to forward their corrected versions to him ASAP.

Discussion turned to marketing. Rosie would compile a list of where NW books had sold before and consider selling through the website and possibly through Paypal.  Other possible outlets proposed by the group included: local shops, literary Dundee, Waterstones, Discovery Point, the Tourist Office, The V and A, local libraries and the West End Gallery.

Election of office bearers: Fiona had indicated that she did not want to continue as secretary, Abby might consider the position and since there were no other nominations, this position was held over. David C was proposed as chair (Craig) and seconded (Roddie) and this was ratified.   Rosie was the only nomination for treasurer (David C) and seconded (Ray) this too was ratified as was Craig to continue as web master (proposed- Rosie, seconded-Sue).

Plans for 2018:  Possibilities for further involvement with Creative Dundee- possibly to be investigated by Abby.

Literary Dundee- Roddie currently liasing with them. Other possibilities to investigate include approaches to West Fest (raised by Roddie), other festivals (raised by Craig) and to the local libraries for readings/platforms for Fifty Shades of Tay.

Roddie would continue to circulate details of up coming competitions/opportunities for publication. He also noted that taking account of the new data protection laws in compiling and keeping member contact lists would be necessary and said he would investigate what changes may be needed.

There being no other business, the meeting closed at 8.15 pm.

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.

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.

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

Chattering From The Chair – 4th October 2017

Our chair, David Carson, is back with his round-up of our jam-packed last meeting.

1. Present:

10 regulars Ray, Abby, Craig, David F., Sue, Roddie, Colin, Rosie, Aileen, David C. And we welcomed two new faces – Scott and Linden.
Apologies from Richard.

Abby in the chair

2. Business:
– venue for Zoe’s classes – Abby will email her for details.
– David C. to email Scott’s and Linden’s email addresses to group.
– we will meet next Wednesday 11 October, and Rosie will find a room and inform.
– congratulations to Roddie on his latest successes. In the Broughty Ferry poetry competition he gained joint second and a highly commended; he has also had a poem accepted by Lallans; and in Open Mouse.

3. Discussion of writing:
This was almost entirely devoted to 50 Shades pieces. It consisted of review of new pieces submitted in
the past fortnight. Authors will make the appropriate revisions.

4. Preparation for next week‘s meeting:
– members who have not produced much for 50 Shades are invited to submit some by next week.
– members who have produced 5 or 5 plus pieces to self select favourites
– Abbey will bring together all of the 50 worders to facilitate selection and editing (55 at the latest count, so bravo Abby!).
– subsequently, all members to review for balance, breadth and any obvious omissions.

5. Agenda for 11/10 to include:
– starting to identify the definites for publication.
– identifying gaps and suggesting remedial action.
– working out next steps and agreeing meetings as necessary.

Finally, there was time for David C’s graveyard story part 3 to get a brief outing, but no time for discussion.

Wittering From The Webmaster – 20th Sept 2017

Craig, our webmaster, gives us an update on our last meeting.

Eight of our members braved the downpour to make it along to our last meeting, and we had a very productive evening.

Firstly, we discussed the upcoming re-start of Zoe’s classes. We had been contacted by e-mail a couple of days prior to the meeting, and David C had replied on behalf of the group, discussing possible venue options. We are now awaiting a further response from Zoe.

Roddie also mentioned a class being held at the University on ‘The Business of Writing“. He has signed up for the first term, and thought it may be of interest to other group members, too.

The rest of the evening was almost entirely taken up with discussion of our proposed ‘Fifty Shades of Tay‘ publication. Abby had helpfully provided collated copies of all the submissions we have so far, and this included a number of new pieces – one from Fiona, two each from Abby, Craig, Susan and David C, three from David F and a whopping six from Roddie! Most were well received, with only minor amendments suggested, but a couple are likely to undergo greater revisions ahead of our next meeting. Abby agreed to collect together any changes or new pieces. We also all agreed to read back through the submissions we’ve had and try to identify any topics that we think should be covered but haven’t been so far. We also discussed the word count criteria, and agreed that a manual count should be carried out for all pieces, and that hyphenated words, words containing apostrophes and acronyms and initialisms will all be considered as single words.

Having covered all the short pieces, we rounded off the meeting by looking at the next part of David C’s story ‘You Told Me‘, which has taken a twist that even David said he hadn’t anticipated when he’d started out. We all look forward to seeing the completed work soon.

It was another packed evening, enjoyed by all who came along.

Notes from a Nethergator – 6th September 2017

This week’s notes on our last meeting have been provided by Roddie.

Present: Tom, Craig, Abby, Ray, David F, Sue and Roddie.
Apologies: Aileen, Rosie, David C, Colin.

Agenda Items Agreed
1) Venue for Zoe`s classes and other NW meetings.
2) Format and content of Fifty Shades of Tay
4) Writing pieces submitted.

Craig chaired the meeting and Roddie recorded these minutes.

Business Meeting

1) There was concern voiced that it was still not clear where we would be holding Zoe`s writing classes in October and whether Zoe would be happy holding them in the university. Abby agreed to contact her to seek her position on this. It was hoped that if it was acceptable to her, we would attempt to extend the current room use. Roddie had circulated a list of classes that was being run in the uni on a non-profit basis and were apparently getting accommodation for free. This was said to be ones to replace the DUCAS classes. However the university was also planning to operate its own classes. Craig felt that the Uni might look upon as unfavourably as competition. A discussion ensued and it was generally agreed that there seemed to be little evidence of a conflict of interest between NW and other classes. It was suggested that perhaps Rosie could try to extend our room booking both for the NW meetings and Zoe`s classes. Other possibilities were discussed: Waterstones, The Butterfly cafe and The University of Abertay library study rooms.

Action: Abby to contact Zoe about uni room use.
Rosie to be contacted about extending the current booking for NW and/or for Zoe`s classes.
Tom to explore the feasibility of accessing and booking rooms in University of Abertay.

2) The last meeting decided that guidelines for Fifty Shades of Tay (FSOT) would be helpful. Roddie and David C (comment by email) felt that photos may enhance/complement the story. Abby made the point that what we were trying to create was a vision and story of a locale that may be undermined by an accompanying photo. Also, in discussion, the added complexity that photos would add to production of FSOT was underlined and the unanimous view was that in the interests of urgency, we should keep the production tasks as simple as possible so as to facilitate an earlier publication, ergo no photos, or concrete poems. Out with that, the line structure of each piece should be decided by the author. Abby reckoned that we had 23 pieces already. Roddie suggested a deadline soon for submissions to conclude that phase of the project. Craig suggested that we go for a deadline of October second. An email to members would be circulated to encourage them to get their 50-worders in. Members were encouraged to submit as many as they can so that there was more material to choose a short list from.
Submissions could be in Scots, English or Dundonian, as long as there was a connection to the local area and /or river. It was resolved that a group decision would be made about what went into the pamphlet.

Action: Craig to email the membership for submissions of 50–worders.


Roddie reminded all about the tragic death of Sarah Isaacs, a former Nethergate Writer. Craig notified the group about the imminent Sunday Times short story competition with a prize of £30 K. Get writing! Roddie noted the 404ink free competition submission date of 11/9/17 for poems and poetry.

Action: none required.

4) Submitted Pieces

There were nine pieces to read, of the 50 – word stories: three from Sue, one from Tom, one from Craig and two from Roddie. Roddie also had a 2500 word extract from his children`s novel “The Isle and the Amulet” to read. This was set in the 1980s.

The longer piece was read first. It was agreed that it had improved from the previously seen draft. The balance of the omniscient view was questioned and this provided useful suggestions for revision. The second big question was whether one of the characters needed to be Aspergic (Abby, Craig). Pros and cons were discussed. A need to prune some of the extraneous detail was noted and attention to detail as
regards to some words used needing to be terms used in the 1980s was raised. David F noted that the Viking Horrible Histories book did not appear till the 90s, Sue agreed that “swots” was a more timely insult than “nerds”. Roddie agreed that the criticism was valid and constructive.

We then moved to the fifty worders. First up was Sue with three. All were liked, but the show-stealer was “The Wintry Tay”, a sensitive evocation of viewing the river by the railway bridge in winter. The wintry theme continued with “Lost Souls” and “No Mercy”, both about the Tay Railway Bridge disaster. The view was split on which was best, but it was agreed that the former was more ethereal. There was a suggestion about combining the two, but views divided on that.

Tom came next with a black humour piece called “An Overheard Conversation.” This was liked by all apart from one phrase “lost his rag” in the piece that we felt could be improved.

David F read his “Tay Whales Lament” a humorous piece from the novel viewpoint of a whale who holidays in the Tay and reports on his holiday. Universally liked by the group, it was suggested to mention “TripAdvisor”in the title.

Craig`s piece “Glebe Street” was next- a quintessentially Dundonian subject- “The Broons”. Liked by all, it must be an elemental piece for FSOT. The meaning of, and use of, the word “chichi” also raised great debate.

For the closing minutes, we had two of Roddies recent 50-worders in Dundonian: “Efter Jimmie Morrison`s visit to Speed Street” and “Efter Ray Davies sees an Invergowrie Sunset”. Revised versions were read at the meeting, different slightly to what had been circulated. Both were found to be amusing parodies of “Love Street” by the Doors and “Waterloo Sunset” by the Kinks. Pictures illuminated the versified venues. It was agreed that given the similar tack, only one (Sunset) would be used. This author was impressed by Abby`s ability to correctly count a disparity between the read out and the written” La-la” word count in “Speed St” (you had to be there).

We had another fun night out, featuring some good pieces, and great patter.