My Amazon Author Page

Find my Amazon author page via this link

"A Scottish Wind in the Willows on high end skunk."

"I enjoy Kate's stories..."
"A fun and spooky read..."

"The characters are so involving and
loveable that you do want them to really exist. It does read like you've
stumbled across someone's long lost diary from and alternate timeline/universe.
I quickly got into the story and loved every second of reading it...
total gem of a read by an author who deserves a lot more recognition."


SCROLL DOWN THE PAGE TO FIND LINKS TO ALL FOUR BOOKS

Thursday, 4 May 2017

April, 2017





My monthly record of paths and roads followed when out walking.
Just an update on current activity.
I'm currently working on a range of writing, including the second paperback volume of Seapenguin.
I've got about 25,000 words tidied up and ready to go but I need to beef it up a bit with some more material - and there is So Much to trawl through it's doing my head in.  
I've published several pieces on Medium recently.  I quite like it as a writing site.  I'm focusing on alternating short humourous fiction and non-fiction. 
There's also a short story I've been working on for three years!  I'm not a fast writer.
I'll get April's 'roads and paths' video done over the weekend, hopefully.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

THE ROLLING STONES - Under My Thumb.





Great footage.  I looked this one up because I'm now reading Andrew Loog Oldham's Stoned2, which I bought for 54p on Ebay.

I'm about a third of the way through it.  So far I'm wishing he'd either remembered more, or was much more indiscreet.  What's the point of writing about that era if you aren't going to totally dish the dirt.  It's still keeping me reading though - just in case...

Friday, 7 April 2017

5 star review


Delighted to see that someone has left a five star review of the Seapenguin paperback - and in case you're thinking 'oh aye',  it wasn't your actual 'friends or family' as I don't really have any 'friends or family'.
The first five star reviews of the Seapenguin e-books were written by total strangers also, by the way - both in the UK and the USA.  So, I must be doing something right.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Sad Decline of Shortbread Stories.


I noticed last week, when I tried and failed to access the site, that Shortbread Stories seems finally to have died. This follows a long and dreary decline.
After several years spent pining for the fjords it has finally become the Norwegian Blue of writing sites.  It is definitely an ex-writing site. 
Or whatever.
Shortbread was an online writing website set up in 2008 specifically to publish short stories that would otherwise never have seen the light of day - which with hindsight I now think would possibly have been just as well, in many cases.  By chance I began writing around 2008 and I was one of the first to offer my work.
It wasn't very good.
Much of the work published by Shortbread wasn't very good.  That was part of its original charm.  It was accessible and definitely not frightening.  There was encouragement and support and it gave you a chance to learn through your mistakes.  The self-publishing craze via Amazon, Smashwords and so forth hadn't quite taken hold and as the site grew people with no apparent insight into their lack of ability flocked to put their work on Shortbread - from all over the world.  Because they could.  On top of this ocean of increasingly unregulated words a series of contributors became obsessed with the site - again, because they could, and because people often do, on the internet.  Tensions rose.
From what I observed as a regular contributor (and this piece is based solely on my observations - I was not an 'insider') the first editor, Fiona (excellent, by the way, with the friendly online tone and kind editorial touch that the site initially required), became overwhelmed by the volume of submissions and she together with the other people running the site found it impossible to edit the content for quality or indeed in the end do any form of gate-keeping.  There were debates about how much editing should be done, if any, and in the end it was easier just to give up attempting to stem the tide and to publish anything.  Of course, this just wasn't sustainable and the site began to deteriorate.  The quality of most of the work was even worse than it had been at the start and the site malfunctioned regularly due to the tsunami of submissions.  Fiona left and the founder, Robin Pilcher, quit, leaving the site, mainly, I think, in the hands of trustees from the English department of Dundee University, who turned out to be, from my observation, too involved with their own lives and literary careers to spend the necessary time and energy relating to the contributors, never mind reviving things and slapping the thing back into life.  There was a horrible sense, that hadn't been there at the start,  that those running things saw themselves as being on a superior level to those contributing. Their occasional editorial posts seemed inappropriate, cursory and jarring and there was an overall feeling of neglect and lack of genuine interest.  The site, now run as a charity, was supposed to be 'educational',  but that was really pushing it.  It was a debacle.
I say that knowing that I'm speaking from a place of partial knowledge and that therefore perhaps I'm being too harsh.  I do know for sure that the site meant a lot to many people - they got involved in good faith.  They trusted it with their writing, good or bad, and it let them down.  'You should have saved it to disc' isn't quite good enough.  Thousands of stories have vanished into the - well, where do lost stories go?
What might they have done better?  I think the social aspect of the site - being allowed to comment on stories and message other contributors - was an early mistake.  It cheapened its appeal, putting off 'good' writers who patronised it as a 'social networking' site rather than a 'writing' site and allowing a few members to dominate. Possibly if the site were to be set up today, with all the knowledge we now have of how such things can be abused, Twitter, 'trolling', Facebook and so forth, the founders would not have gone down that route. And the later idea of making the site a charity with an educational focus and encouraging stuck contributors to 'move on' was a non-starter without the required funding and enthusiastic staffing input.  It was simply too late.  The site had gone way beyond that.
In 2010 Shortbread published an anthology via Discovery Press  (the publishing wing of Dundee University's Literary Dundee) - a small paperback called Short Breaks. When Googling Shortbread Stories today in a vain attempt to find it I found several used copies for sale on Amazon, starting price £1.67.
A reminder of the beginnings of an admirable endeavour.


Saturday, 1 April 2017

''I Got You Babe'' Performed by The Rolling Stones, Andrew Loog Oldham a...





For anyone interested in the previous post - this is a terrific clip.

The Andrew Oldham Orchestra - Da Doo Ron Ron





I had a listen to this because I've just been reading the bit in 'Stoned' by Andrew Loog Oldham where he mentions its recording.  I've been reading a series of books about the Rolling Stones actually - 'Up and Down with the Rolling Stones' by Tony Sanchez, 'Faithfull' by Marianne Faithfull, and Keith Richards 'Life'.  I got them all as penny Amazon buys except for the Keith Richards' one, which I borrowed from the library.

I found them all fairly dull to be honest.  Life with the Rolling Stones sounds pretty ghastly.  Drugs and ghastliness and drugs and back-stabbing and drugs and ghastliness.  Of course all these books are accounts of early to mid-era Stones.  I suppose they've been treating it as a business, a capitalist rather than a musical endeavour, since about 1975, and if you look at it like that then perhaps life within their inner circle since then might be tolerable, cushioned by lots of cash rather than, perhaps, as was the case until the mid-70s, drugs.

I might get Andrew Loog Oldham's follow-ups to Stoned (can't remember the title, but I think there are two at least) because there are some interesting nuggets about the music industry over the years that make it worthwhile persevering despite his slightly irritating and indirect writing style.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Seapenguin now available in paperback






At last I've finished re-editing Seapenguins 1 to 4 and have published them as a single volume paperback of 230 pages.  It's now available to buy on Amazon for £6.99 plus P&P.
I wrote most of Seapenguin when I was going through what appeared to me at the time to be fearsomely tricky challenges and I gained comfort from escaping into that world and also from reading about Captain Scott and his companions and their travails through the Antarctic wastes.  Captain Scott gets a few mentions in Seapenguin.
It's a bit of a faff self-publishing but it's the only way to do it for me as I've no agent and nobody in the professional writing world has any interest in my work.  However I know from reactions to the blog in years gone by and from more recent e-book sales and Twitter feedback that some readers enjoy it; it also represents several years of my life, more accurately my inner life and my domestic life with my dear partner Barry, who provided so much inspiration as well as the illustrations, and our friendship with Jim who also provided inspiration in the form of badly-cooked fish fingers and kindly provided the images of St Kilda, so it's satisfying to give the characters, myself, Barry, Jim and the readers some overdue respect and produce this strange and convoluted representation of our lives in what I think is a pleasing and tidy format.  I'll probably have Seapenguins 5 and 6 available similarly in paperback within the next few weeks.
The cover photograph was taken by me a couple of years ago in Carsaig, Isle of Mull, and fans of Powell and Pressburger films will recognise it from I Know Where I'm Going. There's also a thumbnail photograph of me on the back which was taken by Barry at the memorial to Captain Scott in Glen Prosen - featured on this blog some time ago.
More work is in the pipeline by the way - and it's going to be better than Seapenguin.  Onwards!


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Sea Penguin Tall Tales Part 9 002.AVI





I recorded myself reading from Sea Penguin - Part One back in 2012.  The quality is not what it might be.  I may re-record it.

A reader has just described the books as being sort of like 'a Scottish Wind in the Willows on high-end skunk', which I think sounds about right.

Still available on Amazon as e-books.  If I can work out how to do it, I'll publish them as paperbacks also.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Quite a few people downloaded the Tuppy and Geoffrey stories during the festive free promotion - about forty I think, in the UK, USA and France.  I've also actually sold - for real cash munny - two further books.  Thank you very much!   I've lost track of how many have sold or been downloaded for free over the five years since publishing them but it's at least several hundred - possibly into the low thousands.  I'm not flattering myself by thinking that everyone's actually read them.  In fact I'm guessing that probably more than a fair few are languishing unread in people's unwanted Kindles or in discarded hard drives on skips (sorry - recycling centres).  Others will have been given up on in distaste and/or scorn after page one. Or possibly after paragraph one.  I can't say I can blame anyone for that.  I know I can do better, and this year I aim to!
I began writing Tuppy and Geoffrey in 2008 after dropping out of a Master's/PhD in philosophy.  My brain wanted exercise and distraction and lots of it and so I began.  
Nine years later and my brain has become sluggish and very very lazy.  It isn't just that though.  I'm getting old and the daily worry of earning a crust and surviving generally has been considerable of late.  Writing requires boredom and a questing spirit and I haven't had the luxury of either for far too long.  I still don't.  Nevertheless I have a strong urge to get going with things again and - if I'm spared - I think I should manage something in 2017, as I lurch blindly from month to month.

Find all six current e-books here on Amazon.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Smart/e/B008MFK3NE/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Thoughts expected during the coming year.

Loss of place, loss of community - memories of a time when islands were not, or seemed not, places of isolation.
These are the things that will be occupying my thoughts during the coming year.  When I can shoehorn them in among worrying about bills, getting the car fixed, damp-dusting, the 'ageing process', Death, World War Three, eating too many biscuits, did I use up the emergency UHT milk last Tuesday, bothering the doctor with my rheumy eye, will I die 'early and suddenly' (preferred option) or wither away, alone and ga-ga, in a work-house-style care home et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, that is.  Death and Money, basically.  And as one gets older, Death, naturally, tends to predominate.
If you aren't readying yourself for Death, ur not doin it rite. Life, that is.  I read that somewhere.  Or at least, something along those lines.
I'm forever readying myself for Death.  I have been ever since I was in my 30s when I expected, due to illness, to be dead at 42.  However that did not occur.  42 came and went, and a fairly large number of years have followed.  I count myself lucky.  Now I think of myself as being in a waiting room, waiting my turn, sweaty palms and dicky tummy, reading magazines I never usually read and eating sweets to try to take my mind off the horror of it all.  Lots of people have gone on before, let's face it.  It can't be that bad - can it? We all must open the door alone and find out what lies behind it, alone.  Perhaps it's not that bad after all.  We just don't know what lies beyond, because nobody's come back to tell us.  Fear of the unknown and all that.
Meanwhile, it's probably a good idea to set aside 'readying yourself' from time to time, and enjoy oneself as much as possible.  Otherwise one might become depressed and likely to move on from magazines and sweets to truly life-threatening things such as alcohol, drugs, fatty foods, dangerous 'sports' and so forth, in order to blot out the existential anxiety, thereby increasing it by increasing the chances of an earlier demise possibly through complications arising from morbid obesity.
Can I manage that?  Can I manage to set aside readying myself?  I'm not sure.   I am sure, and I know from experience, that reading and writing are two non-life-threatening activities which can blot it out, if the subject matter is sufficiently interesting and engaging.  Obviously that won't include (at least not when anyone's looking) articles about gluten-free baking,  Katie Perry's beach-ready-body and Cruz Beckham's singing career.  That is an excellent motivation.
On the other hand, why should one bother to avoid life-threatening things, when one is going to die anyway?  It's only putting off the inevitable and you can smoke and drink merrily knowing you will be saving the state a few quid by dying 'early and suddenly' of a heart attack or rapidly-advancing cancer.  Nobody lives forever.  The reason I don't presently tend to over-indulge TOO much is because I enjoy physical activity in a moderate kind of way, walking and nature and so forth, and I want to be able to do so for as long as possible.
On the other hand - or foot, since we've used up both hands - you never can tell.  One might not have to bother setting aside 'readying oneself'.   One might come to terms with one's mortality - biting the bullet, so to speak - as one potters along, and have a terrific time doing it.
Compliments of the season, and all that.