And The Winner Is…

The 5th Tarbert Book Festival got off to a great start today with Theresa Breslin and Ken McTaggart entertaining pupils in the Academy.

The ‘adult’ part of the Festival began with the awards ceremony for our 2nd Writing Competition generously sponsored by Moniack Mhor.  5 out of 6 shortlisted writers attended the Gathering in the Gallery, where judge Anne Hamilton introduced each of the writers, saying why she thought their submissions were special.

It was particularly pleasant to hear the stories read out, some informative, some reflective, some funny, but all very enjoyable. We also welcomed back last year’s winner, Frances Ainslie, to tell us what a  valuable experience she found on her chosen course.

Finally, Richmond Clements of Moniack Mhor announced the winner who is – Sylvia Hehir from Strontian.

You can read their entries now and see if you agree with Anne!

Barbie and Me by Mike Hunter from Nova Scotia

Click by Simon Cowdroy from Victoria, Australia

Frae a Haggis by Kate Donne from Dollar

Oban, The Perfect Destination by Sylvia Hehir from Strontian

The Mad Crone of Comriach by Sue Stubbs of Kilmichael Glassary

Who Do We Think We Are by Mary Easson from Linlithgow

Shortlist for Success

Many congratulations to the shortlisted entrants in our writing competition. Our judge  Anne Hamilton has spent countless hours reading and rereading your stories, reminiscences and researched articles and has come up with the following eclectic selection for her top 6.

In alphabetical order:

Barbie and Me by Mike Hunter from Nova Scotia

Click by Simon Cowdroy from Victoria

Frae a Haggis by Kate Donne from Dollar

Oban, The Perfect Destination by Sylvia Hehir

The Mad Crone of Comriach by Sue Stubbs of Kilmichael Glassary

Who Do We Think We Are by Mary Easson from Linlithgow

These six writers have been invited to an awards ceremony in Tarbert on the evening of 27th October where they will read their entries. Only then will we discover who has won the major prize of a week’s course at the fabulous Moniack Mhor.

Of course everyone who entered is a winner in their own way as it can be a real achievement to complete a piece of writing and then submit it for another writer’s scrutiny.

Keep up the good work everyone!


Congratulations to the Longlisted Entrants

In response to popular demand (see? we listen to your suggestions) we have decided to publish a longlist this year. Although it’s only two weeks until we publish the shortlist, some of you are keen to know whether you can get excited or abandon hope.

Congratulations to those who can get excited, but, as we have been careful to keep the judging anonymous, it is very important that in your facebook posts and tweets you do not link your name to your entry yet. Here they are in alphabetical order and in a couple of weeks we will be publicising names with the shortlisted entries.

Barbie and Me
Don’t Call Me Susan
Frae A Haggis
Oban – The Perfect Destination
The Mad Crone of Comraich
Who Do We Think We Are?

Fiction In A Flash

A writing workshop about how to make every word count

Date: Saturday 28th October

Venue: TALC, Tarbert

Time: 9-11 am

Leader: Anne Hamilton

Supported by: Moniack Mhor

Writing very short stories – flash fiction – that are also satisfying and well-structured is no mean feat. In this two hour workshop, which is part of the 2017 Tarbert Book Festival, author, editor and creative writing tutor, Anne Hamilton, will discuss what makes good flash fiction, and guide you through a series of practical writing exercises to help you hone your craft.

Whether you’re an experienced writer or a ‘beginner’; whether you write fiction or non-fiction, this workshop offers you the space to write, to chat, to ask questions and to receive feedback.

All welcome but numbers are limited so booking (£10) is essential through Moniack Mhor

The Magic of Moniack Mhor

I’m here at Moniack Mhor feeling the magic of this special place after winning the Tarbert Book Festival Writing Competition last year.

The Writing Centre sits in a tangle of green wildness under a huge sky, where nature lives in every nook and cranny. Here, you stop to listen . . . start with one word. . . then a sentence. . . then the magic happens. . .

It’s sad to leave, but I go brimful with new skills, friendships and words to inspire the next story – It’s all part of the alchemy.

I’d highly recommend entering this years competition to experience it for yourself.

Many thanks to Tarbert Book Festival and Moniack Mhor for giving me this amazing opportunity.
Frances Ainslie

Moniack Mhor are sponsoring this year’s competition as well. The closing date is 23rd July so why not Get Writing!
Continue reading “The Magic of Moniack Mhor”

Story Competition Winners – Read Their Entries

It was a real treat to listen to four of our six shortlisted writers reading their entries on Awards night. Unfortunately two of them weren’t able to come, so thanks to Susan Connor who read them for us.

You can appreciate what a hard time Anne Hamilton had judging the entries so many congratulations to Frances Ainslie, who is the winner.

Nights With Mary-Anne, by Frances Ainslie, Dunblane

Fighting Back, by Jackie Goulding, Alton(Surrey)

A Wet Coast Tale, by Mike Hunter, Nova Scotia

The Groatie Buckie, by Cath King, Muir of Ord

Close Encounter by Louise Mangos, Switzerland and

Breathing Room, by Kendra Olson, London.


Books, Books, Books

Well smack my gob but I was truly amazed by the local talent that was uncovered on local author’s day!

I had imagined sitting round listening to someone presenting for the first time ever a wee poem or a short “I’d just be interested to know what you think of it” story. Instead we had a series of highly professional readers, most of whom had actually published books. So I thought it would be nice to summarise those books and let you know where they can be found.

In order of presentation:

Shemaron: A Beautiful Endeavour by Fiona Malkin is beautifully produced and available in the Loch Fyne Gallery.

Catherine Wilson of Ailsa Press on Islay presented her own children’s stories and those of Joan Porter. These can be obtained from the Loch Fyne Gallery or from

Sound of Gigha came hot off the press by Ed Tyler, beautifully illustrated by artists Julia Love-Griffiths and Anne Thomas. For details of how to obtain a copy, contact Ed on

When Viv Dobbie wrote her book The Harlequin Triangle, the agent she sent it to suggested she make it into a trilogy. The first two books are available on Amazon and the third will be out by Christmas both as paperbacks or e-books.
Colouring In and More Colouring In

Lindsay Campbell’s historical story Ane Compact of Villany: The History of Argyll’s Outlawed Gang is also available as a paperback from Amazon here.

Malcolm Trott from Carradale has written a story within a story called a Sense of the Past, which is available as an e-book on Amazon

Evelyn Smithies from Bute treated us to a synopsis of her planned novel The Saliera. Watch this space!

Marian Pallister spoke about her history of the Crinan Canal which, along with others such as Cruachan,can be found in the Loch Fyne Gallery.

And Roddy Regan entertained us by using the story of the Lady on the Rock to demonstrate how fickle historical reports can be.

Some books from other authors at the Festival can still be found in the Loch Fyne gallery, including some by Chris Brookmyre which would make a great Christmas present for someone.

The Hub – Where it’s all Happening

The Templar Hall on Harbour Street will be the main venue during the Festival and will have various activities on all day on Saturday 29th.

For children, there will be face painting and storytelling from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. on the top floor. There will be a small charge for this.

Downstairs on the ground floor we will have Catherine Czerkowska from 11 – 12 and Janice Galloway from 1-2.

In between speakers and during the afternoon, you can book a 15 minute shoulder massage with May Taylor from the Red Cross or try a qigong class with West Coast Wuji.

There will be craft demonstrations from local artists including glass engraver Wilma Mackenzie and Lucky Dip books for sale with proceeds going to charity, as well as our official TBF Box Office and Bookstall.

Shemaron will also be available to visit at the pontoons between 1 and 4 on both Saturday and Sunday. Fiona will be talking about the restoration of this beautiful boat on Sunday morning.

Sunday is Local Authors’ Day

Last year’s local history day on Sunday was one of the most popular sessions, so this year we’ve made it bigger and better. We have some weel kent names who are experts in their field and we are also throwing open the mic (so to speak) to some less well known writers, to give them an opportunity to showcase their work.

The day begins  with Fiona Malkin who will be telling us how she and her husband renovated CN244, Shemaron, an old herring fishing boat. Shemaron: A Beautiful Endeavour is the story of her growing involvement on a practical and historical level whilst dealing with the inevitable frustrations of renovating an old boat.

Two children’s books by local author 85 year old Joan Porter, illustrated by Jessica Excell will be featured on children’s day in the school. We are delighted to welcome Cathy Wilson of Ailsa Press, an independent publisher based on Islay, to tell us more about how they came to publish Joey’s books.

Tarbert’s own Viv Dobbie writes under the name of V L HeathcoteColouring In is the first of the  Harlequin Triangle trilogy. The first two are available now with the third due out by Christmas.

Sound of Gigha is a guidebook with a difference. It looks at an intimate landscape area – part of the west coast of Kintyre – through various perspectives: those of two visual artists Julia Love Griffiths and Ann Thomas plus writer Edward Tyler, all of whom live in Kintyre and are passionate about their local area. It combines art, history, archaeology, geology and wildlife.

Lindsay Campbell is from Oban. Ane Compact of Villany  is a local history book, recounting the true story of a gang of highwaymen, thieves and protection racketeers operating across Argyll in the late 1600s.

Malcolm Trott from Carradale has written A Sense of the Past. This is a story within a story, an account of the enlightening process of writing an ancient tale (set some 4,000 years ago) and how he became engaged with the characters as they came to life, the tale itself coming leaching out of the faint remains which are still present in the Kintyre landscape in which it is set. After trying several publishers, he published the work as an e-book on Amazon.

Known as ‘Britain’s most beautiful shortcut’, the Crinal Canal runs from Ardrishaig on Loch Fyne nine miles across the Kintyre peninsula to Crinan, enabling ocean going vessels to avoid the treacherous Mull of Kintyre. There are those who think it should have been built in Tarbert! In her book The Crinal CanalMarian Pallister tells the story of the canal from its origins to the present day, discussing how it was built, who built it, how it changed life in the surrounding areas, and how it has been used.

For our final session, we welcome Kilmartin Museum’s field archaeologist Roddy Regan. Roddy has been involved with excavations at Tarbert Castle but today he is telling a different story. Tales, Traditions and Truth?; The archaeology of some Argyll stories will see how local stories have influenced literature and how these actually relate to history and archaeology. There will be a story about the lady rock (the attempted murder of Lady Catherine Campbell), Carnassarie Castle and John Carswell (who wrote the first printed book in Gaelic) and also a tale of another attempted murder at the Castle.

Roddy has kindly agreed to then lead a guided walk round Tarbert Castle at 3pm. Separate tickets are required for the tour of the Castle.
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We invite you to join us at An Tairbeart from 11 a.m. with a short break for lunch. This is a free session with an opportunity to purchase books and lunch, however, we do need to know numbers, so please reserve your tickets.
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