Tuesday, 26 April 2016

#Hattastic Big Knit Challenge -The Results

Every Picture tells a story and the #Hattastic Gallery shows some of the hats knitted and bought in aid of Brain Tumour Research.

To begin with I was a bit unsure if it would work.  I set my Just Giving Page target to £250 thinking I might get lucky.  But who would buy my hats?  I lined up a couple of friends to sell them for me but seriously expected to have to donate the remainder to the homeless.

How wrong could I be.  Within hours of launching the Big Knit Challenge I had orders flying in through Facebook.  CR Smith colleagues old and new stepped up to the mark and many people who have been affected by this terrible cancer.   I was overwhelmed.  And then came the offers to help knit.  Four CR Smithies took up the needles and joined in.  They also organised a coffee morning on the Wear a Hat Day to sell their hats.
Fiona did a great job of spreading the word about the charity.  She is a popular girl and as soon as people knew the challenge was to help her the Just Giving page rose, and rose and rose... As soon as the donations slowed Fiona began spreading the word further afield.

In the end I knitted 67 hats. I sold 50 and gave the rest to the coffee morning to sell. The grand total is;

The Just Giving Page              £1640.00

My hat sales                            £1100.00

CR Smith sale                         £1000.00

Donated to BTR                      £3740.00


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

#Hattastic Big Knit Challenge

Many years ago I worked with a young woman who had more life and energy for sport than anyone I have ever met. Fiona is much younger than me but was happy to play me at squash. She was a tough opponent, her strength was phenomenal.  We also played in the company five a-side football team together. Somehow I always ended up on the opposite side to Fiona and was terrified of her punishing tackles.  She persuaded the company owner to let me use his personal gym where Fiona and I would train together. She taught me how to use weights correctly and often we would meet at the gym at 6.00am and cycle miles through Fife countryside before work. I thought she was invincible.  We lost touch when I changed jobs and then picked up contact again through Facebook. 

The CR Smith Football Team 1996

On the surface she was fine. Then I discovered through a mutual friend that she had been battling a brain tumour for years. All the fight and energy she used on the sports arena was now being channelled to keep her alive. Despite her illness Fiona is still the same funny, bubbly person she was during the gym years. She has one of the most infectious laughs I've ever heard. 

Fiona ans I helped to raise £1000 for CHAS on behalf of CR Smith

During one recent communication with Fiona I became very frustrated. I wanted to do something - anything to help her. I remembered her posting about wearing a grey hat for Brain Tumour Research. That afternoon in November 2015 I started to knit hats. I haven’t stopped since.

WIP hats

I decided I would ask people to sponsor me to knit fifty hats before the end of June this year. I'll be posting regular updates of  #Hattastic Big Knit on this blog as well as pictures of the hats as they grow and details of how to purchase a hat.


This Just Giving Page is for sponsorship only due to Gift Aid rules. I set it up because I realised that the challenge itself is worth sponsorship and not everyone suits a hat - I don't!

To date I've knitted thirteen hats, in six different styles. I've sold three. This amounts to a total 42482 stitches knitted using 1092 grams of wool.  And not a fur pompom in sight!

‘Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer… yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research is allocated to this devastating disease.’ BTR

On the 24th March 2016 Brain Tumour Research hold their ‘Wear a hat for a Day’ event. Do you need a hat?

Willing hat models

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Shelfie Skelfie Challange

It's look back at the year time again. Every New Year I set myself a challenge for the year ahead. Last year I set two challenges, one large, one small. One I achieved and one I failed.

I'll start with the one I failed on. It was to play chess at least once a week. On January 1st 2015 when I set it I thought it was small but would be good for me.   Because my husband worked away during the week I reckoned it would be a skoosh to play my phone. I enjoy playing chess and with my phone set to easy I could even be assured of a win. In the first couple of months I did play, but there is something quite demoralising about sitting alone on a wet, dark February night before a log fire, playing a Blackberry at chess. I gave up, there seemed no point to the challenge and I never regretted the decision to quit.

Shelfie 31st December 2014

The second challenge was greater and harder - I would not buy a book for myself in 2015. This might not seem hard for most folk but I am a confirmed biblioholic. I can't stop buying books!  At the beginning of 2015 I had a whole bookcase filled with books I had bought over many years and never read (I have more in another bookcase, but more of that later). Over the course of the year I would work my way through the bookcase and use the local library.

I am happy to say I did succeed in not buying any books (ebooks included) for myself, although I did buy a few gifts and download one free ebook to allow me to take part in a Global Reading Salon event.

So how big a challenge was this really?  It was huge!  So difficult. The first thing to happen was I attended two great lectures at my mountaineering club. The first was given by John Allen, about the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team. His book Cairngorm John sounded brilliant but I couldn't buy it. Luckily one of the other club members owned a copy and loaned it to me.

The second lecture was given by hill runner Manny Gorman. This was a worse situation because Manny is a friend, I really wanted to buy his book. I had to apologise to him and explain the situation.  He came up with the solution. My novel Ways of the Doomed was due to be published in June 2015. We would swap books. Perfect.

This leads me onto the main problem I had. Many of my friends are writers who, like me, were launching books in 2015.  I wanted to support them as they supported me but couldn't buy their books. I leave this year with a list of books I must buy from these friends.

Shelfie July 2015 (books on top left are loans and gifts)

Everyone has been very understanding of my challenge. Many people bought me books as gifts, other loaned me books.  My local library has been a saviour providing me with much needed research books and new releases I couldn't live without.

I have to admit that I haven't finished all the books I took from the bookcase during the year. The larger tomes like Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States and Alan Bennett's Untold Stories are at my bedside but are ongoing reads along with shorter works.  I consider this challenge to be a success.

Shelfie 31st December 2015 (still some to read!)

In 2016 my reading challenge will be to work my way through the rest of these books and my 'Want to Read' list in Goodreads, (including some of the books from other shelves) but for now I will be heading out when the bookshops open in January and I will buy myself a book.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

A Tale of One City, Six Schools, Three Libraries, A Conference and A Birthday

On the 7th of July 2015 I travelled to London to promote my book Ways of the Doomed (The Sun Song Trilogy). Here's what I got up to.

The preparation and inspiration. I never did manage to play my whistle.

The first of my many school visits
"Moira explained her method of writing and what inspires her. Students asked a lot of questions, for example her top tips for aspiring writers: Always aim to finish a text. Always get feedback on a text. Always read many other books to get inspired. In the end students felt very encouraged to continue their own writing, we are looking forward to reading some great new stories!"  Ulrike Kohnen-Zuelzer, LRC Co-ordinator, Harris Academy, Peckham

I hummed the theme tune to The Good Life all the way to Surbiton.    

" We felt honoured to welcome Moira McPartlin in our School Library to talk about her new book 'Ways of the Doomed'. The students enjoyed her workshop and they participated with interest and enthusiasm but most importantly it made them think about words and language and how they are used to influence people."   
Mareke Martens, School Librarian, Stepney Green Maths, Computing and Science College

Harris Academy Bermondsey. The Harris Federation was set up by Lord Harris of Peckham, the CEO of Carpetright, to provide good quality education to the children of London. There are now over thirty Harris Federation Schools in London. 

"It was one of the best author visits we have ever had. Thank you especially for the enthusiasm, your positive outlook and most of all the time you were able to give to our students, which is what many of our students are deprived in.

The students were really engaged with what you had to say.  You really connected with the groups, especially the Year 9 students.  The cracking powerpoint, the evocative film, and your own story which was somewhat different from the career orthodoxy preached at the school.

I have spied badges have been on lapels all week and the books will form basis for Year 9 book groups next year and prizes for the more resilient readers and writers."   Sean Delaney, Lead Librarian, City of London Academy, Bermondsey

  Easy transport too - door to door to Walworth Academy on the Number 168 bus!

Plane, train, underground, overground, DLR and foot.

My last school visit was to Walworth Academy where I was made to feel very welcome indeed.

" It was an excellent presentation.
... a joyous experience - definitely for me and for most of the students too! After your visit the students have been happily borrowing books, totally enthused. Your visit also encouraged our students that reading can be hugely enjoyable.Cecilia Johnson, Librarian, 
Walworth Academy

One of the highlights! My London book launch at The Barbican Library.  The Library is situated in The City of London and is the largest lending library in London.  I ran a lunchtime writing workshop for adults there earlier in the day.

The very funny and talented Candy Gourlay interviewed me in front of an audience of family, old acquaintances (some I hadn't seen since primary school) ex work colleagues and many writers I've met through SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators). 

The brand new Greenwich Library where I met many Celts.  One was the grand nephew of Francis Ledwidge.  What an honour.  Makes me want to go to Ireland.

Victoria Library in Westminster.  I met a genetics student who was intrigued by WOTD's book cover.  He was persuaded to read the book. I hope he likes it.  

YALC - The Young Adult Literature Convention,
held exclusively at London Film and Comic Con, Olympia.

'Apocalypse now'. With Virginia Bergin Marie Rutkoski, Francesca Haig, Moira Young, Teri Terry and Gemma Malley.  I asked what the panel thought of the term CliFi. They agreed the genre of dystopian fiction was limiting, adding another term like CliFi was even more limiting.

'YA: The next generation'. With Alice Oseman, Lucy Saxon, Helena Coggan, Taran Matharu and Samantha Shannon.  Very impressive. Nearly all these young writers had great book deals before they reached the age of twenty. Taran Matharu told a great example of how Wattpad and NanoWriMo can work.

No YA Convention would be complete without Judy Bloom to admire and some fun writing pals, Christina Banach and Chitra Soundar, to share the events with. 

Good craic with Christina Banach and Chitra Soundar

I skipped the last day of the conference because it was my birthday!   My birthday treat was a trip to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre to see Richard II.  What an amazing place.  The acting was fabulous  and the actors interaction with the audience in the pits was hilarious.  A real treat indeed. 

The globes of Shakespeare's Globe with Tate Modern in background

I was in London for 15 days. It was hot and muggy. I travelled to places I had never been to before by tube, bus, train, DLR (Docklands Light Railway) and foot.  I met hundreds of enthusiastic kids and many hard working and generous librarians. I'll be back.

I saw this in use on the day of release. The user held up the queue a nanosecond longer than usual.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Book Launches - Ways of the Doomed

As the publication date of Ways of the Doomed hurtles towards me I find my days filled with creating content. These are fun days; ordering cakes, writing articles and lists, updating my profiles on social media and book reviewing sites. But the best fun of all comes on the day the book is launched. The invites have gone out and I am looking forward to catching up with old friends and readers at my book launches.

Here are the details of the three Scottish launches and my first ever London launch.
  • Glasgow - 16th June, 7.00pm Argyle Street Waterstones G2 8BT
  • Stirling – 17th June, 6.30pm Central Library, Corn Exchange Road, Stirling FK8 2HX
  • Edinburgh – 24th June 6.30pm Blackwell’s Bookstore, South Bridge, EH1 1YS 
  • London - 15th July, 6.30pm Barbican Library, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS