Ronald Mackay: Fortunate Isle, a Memoir of Tenerife

fortunate isleRonald Mackay: Fortunate Isle, a Memoir of Tenerife

Ronald Mackay, who hails from Coupar Angus and Dundee, has just launched a new book of memoirs. Fortunate Isle: a Memoir of Tenerife, has been published by PlashMill Press (http://plashmillpress.com/) The ISBN number is 9780957261280.

Fortunate Isle tells of Ronald’s adventure when, at the age of 18 and with £40 pounds in his sporran, he hitch-hiked to Spain and then took a tramp steamer to the Canary Isles.

Ronald was born in Scotland and educated at the Morgan Academy. In 1960, at 18 and uncertain about a career, he worked his way through France and Spain and took a cargo-ferry from Cadiz to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands hoping eventually to reach Latin America. Short of money, he sought work on the island of Tenerife. Finding himself, almost by chance, in the tiny village of Buenavista del Norte, he was taken in by the sympathetic owner of a local family-run pension.

mackay fortunate isle
Ronald Mackay with a copy of Fortunate Isle

For the next year he lived in Buenavista, under the towering volcanic peak of Tiede. He worked at a variety of manual jobs including plantation construction and the selection and packing of banana stalks for export. On foot he explored the plains, mountains and seacoast around the village, grew close to the people, and enjoyed many curious and lively adventures. Ronald’s friendships and experiences – some of them hazardous — helped forge his character.

Fortunate Isle is a charming book that tells of a young man’s coming of age fed by discovery and adventure. As well as moments of lively humour, it has high drama and deep reflection.

Publisher at PlashMill Press, Rod Fleming, said ‘We are delighted to launch this excellent book, which is a credit to its author. It’s a great read and ideal for those long dark nights.’

After leaving Aberdeen University in 1967, Ronald was appointed British Visiting Professor at Bucharest University. From the ’70s he turned to ‘problem-solving’ as a career specialising in the evaluation of research and development programmes in which he wrote his doctorate. He laid the groundwork for the first Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics in Latin America; tackled issues of aboriginal education throughout Canada’s North and Arctic; pioneered courses in project planning, management and evaluation at Montreal’s Concordia University; and held visiting posts in Toronto, Edinburgh and Singapore.

Longing for the land, he farmed, first in Canada and then in Argentina, and used his expertise to help improve agricultural practice in many developing countries. Since 2012, he and his wife have lived overlooking Rice Lake, Ontario, in Canada.

Fortunate Isle is available in paperback internationally through Amazon and all  good booksellers.

Ronald and his wife Viviana in 2013

The hardest part of writing is getting started.

scottish winter plashmill press
scottish winter plashmill press
Early morning in Scottish winter Pic: Rod Fleming

Writing is hard. When I was young, a very wise person (my mother) told me that the hardest part of any job is getting started. Growing up in rural Scotland in the 1960s meant getting out of bed, in winter, when it was still dark, running down to the kitchen — the only heated space in the house — and remaining glued to the front of the Rayburn stove, every morning. ‘Come on,’ my mother would chivvy, ‘Get a wiggle on! Washed and dressed for school! The worst part is getting started.’

She was right. The worst part of any difficult task is getting started. That’s the same whether it be just getting out of the house on a freezing January morning, chopping up the kindling for the living-room fire when you get back from school and would far, far rather go and read — or writing.

Writing is a very hard thing to do. Most people — who never actually tried to write, or whose magnum opus is a semi-coherent string of tweets — think it’s easy. You can tell by their demeanour. ‘But you just sit there!’

In agony, albeit they have no idea.

Continue reading “The hardest part of writing is getting started.”

Cover design is essential to successful publishing – PlashMill Press

plashmill covers composite
plashmill covers composite
Some PlashMill Press book covers.

When you navigate the minefield of becoming a published author, one of the most important things to remember is this: a good, classy cover design that speaks to the content of the book is essential.

In today’s competitive retail market, good cover design must be as effective and eye-catching in all the digital or e-book formats as it is on the shelf of a conventional store. Potential readers are exposed to a book’s cover design for only a few seconds before moving on, so it must be strong enough to engage them, involve them, and lead them towards the purchase.

In other words, you need a good designer.

Continue reading “Cover design is essential to successful publishing – PlashMill Press”