Summer Lovin’

As Olivia Newton John sang, “Summer loving had me a blast, oh yeah. Summer loving happened so fast” (I know the song but I think I might be one of the few folk on the planet who haven’t seen Grease).

  Too true! It’s almost time for me to hit the road again with my day job… I’m very lucky to only work during school term time but that doesn’t mean I’ve been idle in the last five weeks.  Being with a small independent publisher means there’s no big publicity department or budget to match so I’ve spent a lot of time this summer trying to be my own publicist in the build up to the publication of my début novel, Talk of the Toun, at the end of October. images (1)One of my tasks was to organise a ‘blog tour’ to feature my book on reviewers’ sites. This has taken me waaay more time than I ever anticipated but thanks to Anne Cater, a new group on Facebook was created called ‘Book Connectors’ and it was a huge help in finding bloggers who were happy to support a début novelist like me. There’s no guarantee that the blog tour will make any difference to book sales but it can’t be a bad thing to raise the online profile of the book so I’m hoping the time and effort will pay off. However, by actively seeking reviews of my book, it definitely makes me feel vulnerable to negative criticism and it’s an issue that I need to brace myself for as of course not every reader will enjoy my book. images It’s a pity that the ‘summer’ weather was grim but my time off hasn’t been all work and no play.  Despite not going away on holiday, I’ve acted like a tourist in my own country and managed to enjoy visits to a number of places.  Forget trying to drum up book sales,  I should be on commission for Visit Scotland!

My highlights were…


Newhailes near Mussellburgh is an unrestored stately home with beautiful surrounding parkland.


The Govan Stones in Glasgow are a unique collection of early medieval stones carved in the 9th-11th centuries.

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The Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh celebrates the lives of three great Scottish writers – Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.


An exhibition at Paisley Museum of some of George Wyllie’s most famous works.

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Gladstone’s Land is a 17th century tenement style house in Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile  which has been authentically restored.


Clydebank Museum is the venue to see work by acclaimed artist Joan Eardley which includes works which have never been on public display before.

[#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D70 Focal Length: 420mm Optimize Image: Custom Color Mode: Mode II (Adobe RGB) Noise Reduction: OFF 2006/04/06 14:58:22.8 Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority White Balance: Direct sunlight -1 Tone Comp: Normal RAW (12-bit) Lossless Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern AF Mode: AF-C Hue Adjustment: 0° Image Size:  Large (3008 x 2000) 1/1600 sec - F/5 Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached Saturation:  Normal Exposure Comp.: +0.7 EV Sharpening: Normal Lens: VR 300mm F/2.8 G Sensitivity: ISO 320 Image Comment:                                      [#End of Shooting Data Section]

Agarty Red Kites in Doune is Scotland’s only feeding station where visitors can watch these spectacular birds..

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“Still” by sculptor Rob Mulholland is a stunning mirrored figure standing in Loch Earn in Perthshire.

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Innerpeffray Library in Perthshire is Scotland’s oldest free, public lending library: a  hidden gem of a museum.


Cultybraggan outside Comrie is the fascinating site of a Nazi PoW camp designed to hold some 4,000 Category A prisoners.

Do you buy books based on the recommendations of book bloggers?

Have you been somewhere special over the summer?

8 thoughts on “Summer Lovin’

  1. Fantastic work, that woman! Helen, I’m in a similar position: small press, small budget so some of the graft is down to the author. I’ve not been drawn to the blog tour idea. For one thing, it seems to be time-heavy. I’d rather use mine to write the next book! That said, I agree about raising our profiles & I’m not averse to the blog tour thing, just wouldn’t know where to start!

    In answer to your question – I do take notice of reviews but mostly from people I know quite well rather then bloggers per se. And I confess I often skim the book review posts on Book Connectors. I instinctively sense when a book is or isn’t for me by the title or the cover. I probably miss out, but trawling FB is another drain on my time.

    I’m thrilled for you & the forthcoming publication of Talk of the Toun. Now I have my own book coming out next year, I know some of what you are experiencing! Congratulations again & the very best of luck & fabulous success!
    Carol xXx

    • Thanks Carol. Yes, writing the book is only the start of the ‘journey’! I’m not sure how effective the blog tour will be but as I blog regularly anyway I don’t mind the idea of writing guest posts. I agree that social media takes time away from writing but unless you’re only writing for pleasure then it’s the best way to reach readers. Like you, I was active on Twitter and FB long before I had a book to promote so I like to think my connections online are genuine rather than simply ‘buy my book’ tweets and posts which nobody responds to. All the best with your pre publication build up. x

      • Do you get a lot of traffic on your blog? Mine is very new & thus far, it’s very quiet! I guess it takes time to build up a readership. And you are right – social media works. I know this but I’m anxious to get the balance right & not bombard people!

        Thanks for your good wishes! Right, I’m off to share your post on FB!

      • Thanks for sharing the post Carol – much appreciated. My blog doesn’t get lots of traffi but is more a ‘shop window’ for me as a writer and a place for any future readers to find me, x

  2. well done Helen! Can’t wait for the book now! Just heard about the International Book Festival in Charlotte Square, Edin next Saturday, will you be there!
    Rhonda x

  3. Wow, you’ve been busy! I’m impressed by your energy. Must visit more of those places. I’ve been to the red kite viewing/feeding station at Tollie in the Black Isle. They are spectacular birds especially in flight. We’ve only had a few days’ holiday this summer, in Strathpeffer. Where we were lucky to see both a red kite and a pine marten at close quarters on our woodland walks. Good luck with the reviews – nerve wracking.

    • Thanks. When I’ve been at the laptop for days at a time and get cabin fever if I don’t get out and about. That was the first time I’d seen red kites and it was an impressive sight. Have you stopped blogging and tweeting? I enjoyed reading your posts.

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