And the bee comes…..

b2acbb8e9640d576a935a323d5f4ac89.jpg

The variety of wildflowers that I admire on my meanderings never ceases to amaze me.

and eventually the bee does come 😉

20190507_133119

Advertisements

Mental Health Awareness Week – it was only a few strands of hair… well,quite a few….

MHF_MHAW19_BodyImage_WebsiteTileImage_720x470

May is Mental Health Awareness month and this week is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK.

The focus of this year’s campaign is body image.

I personally feel this is a very emotive topic and one to be approached with caution and a healthy dose of respect.

Body image isn’t just about who’s too fat or too thin. It covers a huge range of things that can cause people to be self-conscious about themselves. Body image issues can relate to height, to hair colour, to freckles, to wearing glasses, to having scars, to …. to absolutely anything about physical appearance. The list is almost endless.

Sadly, the media puts so much pressure on people, both male and female, particularly young people, to look “perfect.”

No one is perfect but we are all unique. However, if you are experiencing a period of anxiety it was very easy for that to manifest itself in fears about your image. You can swiftly become overly self-conscious about the smallest of things.

My own personal brush with this topic could easily be argued as being more than a little vain. I accept that. I’ve shared my own tale in the past of reaching a point in my life, about seven years ago now, that triggered a few physical signs of stress/anxiety so I won’t repeat myself.

I also appreciate in relation to some of the more serious aspects of the mental health connections to body image issues that my tale is trivial.

However, at the time, it was a huge issue for me. A huge issue I kept silent about for a very long time.

I’ll back track a bit here if you’ll allow me the indulgence. I’ve written before about being bullied as a child. Again, I’m not about to repeat that tale either. When that started all of those long years ago, one of the things that adversely impacted my self-esteem was my haircut and my horrendous blue NHS 1970’s specs! I grew the awful “pudding bowl” haircut out, developing a lifelong fear of hairdressers along the way. As a teenager, I was able to hide behind my long hair, using it as a shield to protect me. (The NHS specs were eventually replaced with a more modern pair when I was sixteen but not before I’d damaged my sight by not wearing them in school. The glasses were eventually replaced by a contact lens – yes, one.)

Since then, my hair has always been long. I’ve never been fortunate enough to be blessed with thick or wavy hair. It’s always been silky fine and poker straight.

When my stress levels went through the roof a few years ago, one of the physical signs associated with the anaemia that I experienced was hair loss. Gradually, over a period of a few months, I lost between a half and a third of the volume of my hair. I was fortunate in a sense that it thinned rather than fell out in clumps leaving bald patches. The hair loss was the main factor that led to me going to the doctor to get checked out.

The anaemia was resolved with a lengthy course of iron pills but the hair’s condition remained. I became incredibly self-conscious about it. It was ridiculous! Here I was in my mid-40’s stressing about my hair. Worrying myself silly about what folk were thinking.

In all honesty, I was and still am scared of going bald. I accept that it’s a trivial point in the grand scheme of things but for quite some time I became extremely self-conscious about it.

I stopped tying my long hair back – my ponytail looked like a long skinny rat’s tail to my biased eyes. If I tied it up, as I had done for years, my bun looked like a crumb! There was so little volume to my waist length hair that 4 kirby grips/bobby pins held it all securely in place.

I researched shampoos and vitamin supplements to encourage hair growth. After a period of time, and a lot of expense, I gave up on the fancy shampoos but, to this day, still take the supplements.

About four years ago, I noticed one particularly thin/bare patch emerging. My blood ran cold. Fear and panic swept in. The area at the front of my hair, where my parting and fringe met looked to be separating like the Red Sea. In reality, yes, it was thin, very thin, but what other people saw wasn’t what I saw in the mirror every morning. I saw bare scalp! My fragile self-esteem began to plummet.

Once I calmed myself down, I realised that there was an easy-ish solution. The fringe had to go! I had to grow it back out and add the hair volume of my fringe back into the rest. This was something I hadn’t done since I was thirteen years old! It took over two years but finally the fringe was gone- the thin/balding patch was hidden/disguised/gone.

Gradually the fear of going bald subsided… for now.

The self-esteem repaired itself again.

New hair, mainly grey strands, began to grow in. Going grey doesn’t phase me in the slightest but that in itself can be another body image trigger for people. I view these strands of grey as strands of glitter and I’ll expose them proudly. Each new grey one represents new hair, more volume and boosts the self-esteem a little.

Friends and colleagues laugh when I say that I don’t mind gradually going grey. I’m not, in general, vain about my appearance. (At least I don’t think I am!) I acknowledge that at times I can be very self-conscious almost to the point of paranoia.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it can be the little things that trigger body image concerns that can quickly escalate into more serious issues as well as the big things.

However, even if to you, a person’s fears and concerns seem trivial, don’t belittle them. These can be huge fears to them. Show a little empathy and understanding. Encourage them to be proud of who they are as they are. Encourage their self-belief and self-love.

A little supportive understanding goes a very long way.

 

For more information on MHAW please check out the link below:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

mental-health-awareness_41309257b9.jpg

It’s all about the date …… and a little itty bitty announcement

So, a year ago today I put pen to paper and began to write Book 4 in the Silver Lake series.

I blogged about it…. in fact, I had intended to blog about 8th May being the sixth anniversary of putting pen to paper blah blah blah blah but realised I did that last year.

Missed it?

Here you go, you can catch up here: –

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/whats-in-a-date-quite-a-lot-actually/

In the year since I posted that blog, I’ve been busy…very busy. I finished the writing and editing for Book Baby 4 aka Ellen and successfully self- published it via Amazon’s KDP, albeit slightly later in the year than planned. I’ve worked steadily on Book Baby 5 and, a year down the line, its still not fully written but I am on track (just!) and the proofreading process has recently commenced. Cue my nerves being shot to hell even more so than usual! Yes, the old fear of letting people read what I write has returned with a vengeance.

So, having discovered that I’d already posted the blog I intended for this week I have been left with a bit of a dilemma….. how to mark this creative Silver Lake anniversary?

It feels wrong to let it slip by without doing or saying something.

I’m going to take a leap of faith here. (Those of you who know me personally will realise just how big a leap this is shortly.)

I’m very superstitious about not naming my Book Babies until their first draft is more or less complete. I may have their title in mind but I tend to keep it under wraps almost for as long as I can for fear of destroying the magic of the creative process.

However, Book Baby 5 aka Book 4 in the Silver Lake series has proved to be a little different.

Its title came first before I’d even put pen to paper. That has never happened before!

So, to mark six years to the day of the evening I sat down in the sun with my notepad and pen and began this incredible creative journey, I’m going to share that title with you.

The cover reveal (yeah, that’s kind of almost done too) and the publication date (yeah, I have one of those in mind too and it is another date that is special to me) are a way off so please don’t get too excited here.

Drum roll please, Paul……..

The title of Book Baby 5 aka Book 4 in the Silver Lake series is………

title reveal 

Watch this space…….

 

 

If you’ve missed the start of the series, you can download the books or purchase paperback copies from Amazon

Amazon.com links –

Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VXDSC1M

Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01C0GS30K

Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSQHG71

 

Amazon.co.uk links –

Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00VXDSC1M

Impossible Depths – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01C0GS30K

Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XSQHG71

 

and if you missed Ellen –

Amazon.com link

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FYHKR44

Amazon.co.uk link

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FYHKR44

 

 

 

 

 

What happens when you put on the Out of Office for a week… a sunny week ;)

ba6bb-out-of-office-sign5b15d

With my “out of office” on at the salt mine, I left work full of great creative intentions…..

I had my “To Do” list written :

blog – write and post

Book Baby 5 -write some more; type  10 0000 words

Book Babies 1-4 – promote

Gig review – write and post

 

It didn’t seem like an onerous list then the sun came out…….

I got off to a good start…..20190419_134140

 

then I got distracted……

MT12P1080889201

I tried to re-focus with some art therapy….

20190422_104905

and I picked up where I’d left off with Book Baby 5…

20190421_143748

 

then may have got distracted again…..

20190424_155137

and met some new friends….

20190423_19532520190423_201110

The week was fast disappearing…… I sat down again with Book Baby 5….

20190425_133814

On Friday I allowed myself a mother/daughter day out with my mum….we had a date with a dinosaur 😉

P1090085

And by the time I got home from mother/daughter day out, it was after 5pm on Friday and technically my “out of office” had expired….. my week was over…..

But did I manage to tick off all the items on the To Do list?

Yes I did 🙂

20190428_193841

Maybe I should be allowed to put the “out of office” on more often!

Same View Different Day

IMAG2481.jpg

No matter how often you admire the same view, it never looks the same twice……

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I walk past this view several times a week. I’ve walked past this view several times a week for years…..it never grows old, it never stays the same. Sometimes constant change is good…

 

This “proper/improper” author is celebrating some book baby birthdays….

FB_IMG_1479071188960

 

A few weeks ago, someone, who for their own safety should remain nameless, suggested that I wasn’t a “proper” author.
Biting my tongue at the time, I felt a red mist of anger swirl in around me.
Define a “proper” author?
Apparently, I was duly informed by this nameless soul, its an author who has a publisher.
I have a publisher. It’s KDP.
The exchange  hasn’t rested easy with me then I noticed the date that was approaching and smiled – 15th April.
Today marks the fourth birthday of my KDP published debut contemporary romance novel, Stronger Within.
Today also marks the second birthday of my third KDP published contemporary romance novel, Bonded Souls.

150418 birthday

Proper or improper author, seeing my name on the cover of a “real” book truly was a dream come true moment that will live with me forever.
Almost six years have passed since I began this creative journey. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you know the story. For those newer followers, I literally sat down on my front doorstep in the early evening sunshine on 8th May 2013 and began to write a story. I began to write just for me. I began to chase down that dream come true moment.
So far there have been four book baby dream come true moments (births). Each one has been special. Each one has been unique.
While three of the books form part of the Silver Lake series, they are all individual book babies who came with their own challenges. Like all children that we give birth to, they are related but different and each one is precious to me.
Book Baby 5 is still a work in progress and this is proving to be a bit of a “bumpy” creative pregnancy however I’m still on track…. more or less…. for a 2019 Book Baby birth.
The last six years have been incredible from a creative perspective. It’s been a steep learning curve and a hell of a lot of hard work and I don’t regret a second of it.
I’ve blogged about Stronger Within’s birth and Bonded Souls’ arrival into the world before. What? You missed those blogs? Don’t worry, here’s the links –

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/stronger-within-the-dreams-come-true/

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/book-baby-motherhood-the-toddler-phase/

So, after four years as a published author, have I overcome the fears I mention in those previous blogs? No! Have I reconnected again with Silver Lake characters? Yes! Have I stopped blushing whenever I receive a compliment about the books? No!
This hasn’t been a journey I’ve tackled alone. There are a small group of wonderful friends who provide the love and support, the alpha and beta reader duties and who help to keep me motivated when the demons of self-doubt creep in. You guys know who you are and I love each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. Couldn’t have come so far along this crazy creative road without you.
I describe myself as an indie author.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m proud to be a part of the indie author community. I’m proud of my book babies. I’m beyond proud of their Amazon and Good Reads ratings. Who would ever have thought that I’d earn 5* reviews for a book I’d written? I’m proud of the fact I’ve earned royalties every month. OK, most months the payment wouldn’t cover the cost of a cup of coffee but I’ve earned something from my writing.
So, am I a proper author?…… I’ll let you decide.

FB_IMG_1462305175602

To celebrate being  Book Baby Mummy to two books celebrating their birthdays today, they are both FREE  to download to Kindle for the day.
If you’ve not met Jake and Lori yet, not is your chance.
If you’re a Silver Lake fan, then thank you for your love and  support. There will be news about Book Baby 5 soon. Book four in the Silver Lake series is coming…..promise!
Happy reading! 😊
Amazon.com links –
Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VXDSC1M
Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSQHG71

Amazon.co.uk links –
Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00VXDSC1M
Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XSQHG71

some images sourced from Google – credits to the owners

Social Media and the Voyage of Self-Discovery

Like many other writers and bloggers when the creative juices fail to flow smoothly, I find the internet is a great place to procrastinate.
I’m sure many of us who should be putting our precious time to good use can be found lurking within social media apps like Facebook.
Perhaps we even try to convince ourselves its actually research.
I’ll confess to meandering through Facebook on the odd occasion… coughs … ok .. regular basis.
I’ll also confess to playing some of the “self-discovery” games to be found on there.
You know the one s- “5 signs you are keeper based on your profile picture,” “What will you look like at 70 based on your profile picture.”
These entertain me.
My personal Facebook profile picture for the past few years has always been a photo of my Converse clad feet. What on earth can you determine from that?

FB game profile

Quite a lot apparently!
Here’s some recent discoveries……

Some of these are scarily accurate! I’ll let you work out which ones 😉

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

This one was reassuring though 😊

FB game 13

Enough procrastination- I’ve a book to finish writing!