Sue’s Views

Getting back on track after the excitement of our book launch, Sue provides us with the update this week.

Nethergate Writers’ Meeting Wednesday 19th September 2018
Minutes by Sue, 24 September 2018

Present: David C, Craig, Rosie, Roddie, Richard, Sue

Apologies: Abby, Aileen, David F

1. Writing

The first piece of work was by David C called ‘Her Chance to Shine

David explained the idea came from nurses who murder patients in hospital. There are to be three parts to the story from different viewpoints, the first from Thomas, the father. We liked the descriptions but it was suggested that David could start with the action and the family then slip in the back story. The work produced interesting questions i.e. The reasons she has developed her views, why she is a sociopath and why she chose that family. It was also suggested that she communicate with the boy directly creating more suspense. We all enjoyed it and found it quite sinister and very much look forward to the next instalment.

The next piece was by Roddie called ‘Everyone wants to be Dougal Haston

This is a story he has previously written and it was agreed the language works better than before. There were differing opinions as to whether writing it in the second person added to the story or didn’t help the flow. It was also suggested that one of the female characters, Mindy was described in more detail than the males so Roddie agreed to put in more male descriptions. We all enjoyed the story and agreed it would be suitable to submit to ‘New Writing Scotland’ A discussion then followed about covering letters accompanying submitted work. Roddie made the point that they are not looking for personal histories and won’t take the time to read them. The most important point is that the work has not been published before. After they accept it more details can be given.

The final piece was by Richard which he has altered since first writing it and is called ‘Tedious Talks on Telemetry

This is about people on smart phones, gesticulating. It was agreed there was good rhyming and it was more effective being read aloud rather than reading it. An amusing question was asked about whether these people would eat pork pies and it was decided that quiche would be more appropriate! It was agreed the work was clever and amusing.

2. Business

Next was an update on the sales of 50 Shades of Tay. Verdant Works were not interested in stocking it nor sadly were VisitScotland. Craig has been to McManus Galleries where the contact had slight reservations about the title so we await the outcome. David C commented that the Birnam Arts Centre embraced the book and title!

Rosie followed this with an update on copies sold and money collected to date:

Fiona has sold 12 copies to the Discovery Point shop. Rosie will ask at the V & A and DCA is a possibility as selling outlets. Waterstones took 60 in total and they are offering us a Christmas signing to promote sales. The Birnam Arts Centre took 8.
194 have been sold and 7 through paypal. There are 100 left after free ones given out to shops so we have already made our money.

We were disappointed by the lack of press coverage and Rosie is going to email the Courier to update them.  It was suggested we offer buy one, get one free at the Christmas book launch at Waterstones but no decision on this was made.

3. Future venues

Room 2G03 at the Dalhousie building is booked again for two weeks time at a cost of £20 per night. For 2019 it was suggested that we work out how many meetings we will have and all members pay in advance. It was felt that £20 was a good deal but we should not be depleting our funds to pay for this in the future. This will require further discussion.

4. Zoe’s classes

We then discussed Zoe’s classes. We are sure she originally gave us a date in October but nobody could remember when. We all seemed satisfied by the last classes discussing a different topic each week for the first hour then reading and discussing our work during the second hour.

5. Next project

We talked about our next project, producing an anthology of short stories and whether we should work on this during Zoe’s classes.
‘The Nethergate Writers Photo Album’ has been discussed previously whereby we each bring a photo to Zoe’s class with the possibility of completing a short story by the end of the classes. Previous work could be used.
It was suggested we meet once a month during classes and it was suggested that Abby email Tom, Scott and Linden with regard to this.
We would set a date for monthly meetings at the university in between Zoe’s classes if that suits her. Craig will email Zoe about this.

Craig has been approached by Steve Finnan from D.C. Thomsons’s heritage department at the launch of 50 Shades of Tay. He would like to discuss creative ways we could work together. Craig will get in touch and find out if he would like to come along to our next meeting on Wednesday 3rd October. It was suggested that we bring some work along to that meeting.

The meeting concluded at 9pm with thanks to Craig for taking the chair.

The Mystery Of The Missing Minutes

In all the excitement of our book launch last month, it seems some of our regular reports slipped through the nets. So, for those of you following along at home, here’s Roddie’s report on our meeting from the 8th of August, 2018.

Nethergate Writers Meeting 8/8/18 at The Avery

Present: Craig, Roddie, David C, Rosie, Aileen.
Apologies: David F, Richard, Sue, Ray.

Meeting was chaired by Craig and minutes taken by Roddie.



Craig mentioned that the Meadowside Church in Marketgate could offer a room for three h for £18. Craig was going to look into this further. It was accepted that it would be unlikely that we could obtain a venue free of charge that offered privacy and quiet. Craig proposed tweeting a message asking if anyone knew of a venue – this was thought by all to be worth pursuing. David suggested a fund raising event, perhaps a sponsored hill walk or sponsored stories. Rosie noted that perhaps signing everyone who wanted to attend NW summer meetings, up for a fee that would cover the cost of room hire.

2. 50 Shades of Tay.

Everyone was pleased by the review received from Andrew Murray Scott and David C had circulated it to members. Books were being sold by Richard through Cairn o Mhor in Errol, David C was going to look into The Watermill at Aberfeldy and Roddie would look into a stall at Saturday markets in Dundee. Rosie mentioned that selling through the Tartan Cafe did not work out. There was concern that a definite date for the launch at Waterstones had not been agreed as there would be a lead time in contacting The Courier beforehand for publicity and also concern that if the launch was delayed till September, then the Courier may be full of articles on the V and A. Rosie would speak to Abby to see what progress had been made. Roddie raised the idea of a future project of having the authors read their pieces for an audio (MP3) recording. This was agreed to be worth revisiting later. Rosie felt that she could print off A3 posters for the launch. She also noted that internet banking was now operational for the NW account. To date ninety three books had been given out.

3. New project.

David had circulated a list of possible themes. Craig proposed the inspiration being members’ photo albums. Rosie thought all stories should have a photo. Roddie noted that a photo inspiring a story in the hard copy could be displayed on the web site, or a generic one could be sourced from creative commons to illustrate the story. Concerns were raised about whether members could produce enough material for a larger book of short stories of average length 2500 words (David C). Roddie suggested allowing longer stories, more than one story/poem from a given author, or making one purpose of Zoe’s classes to be the production of such material for the book.

The next meeting was agreed to be held on the 22nd of August, Rosie kindly offered to host it.


There were three items.

Craig read his short piece “I am Writing” which was an amusing and accurate portrayal of the process of the blocked writer. It was liked by all.

Roddie had circulated two pieces which will form part of his submission to the Scottish Book Trust New Chapter Awards in September. The first one was a five hundred word synopsis of the novel (Once We Were Heroes) and the longer piece was a self-contained short story that formed one of the chapters of the novel, made up from interlinked short stories.

It was agreed that the synopsis should follow the structure set out for writing synopses in an article on the SBT website. Repetitions needed removing and clarifications needed to be made.

The story “Easter in Purgatory” was read. It features the protagonist Danny’s futile romance and how in anger, he deals harshly with a troublesome customer. The descriptions of Danny’s hectic night in the busy bar were liked. Aileen and Rosie felt that the story would be improved by making Danny a little more empathic in the early stages. All very constructive advice.

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.