Guest Post: Silently Watching by Coral McCallum, Part 1

Ashley O'Melia, Author

Pulling the laces tight on his well-worn running shoes, he glanced out of the patio doors at the reddening sky. Another beautiful summer evening for a long training run. With a nod to his wife, who was curled up on the opposite couch engrossed in a trashy TV soap opera, he slipped out of the front door, closing it quietly behind him so as not to disturb their sleeping children. Nestling his earphones into place, he pressed play on his iPod and set off down the hill at a leisurely pace. No sense in heading off too fast too soon since he had his sights set on at least twelve miles. As the hill began to level off he had a choice – go straight through more houses or take the right fork down a narrow single track road. The sight of a group of kids playing football in the…

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Smoke And Ashes…..And Music

ABC then and now.jpg

FIRE- a four letter word to send fear through people. It’s fierce. It’s strong willed. It’s unpredictable. It’s unforgiving.

While I am saddened to see Glasgow’s School of Art a smouldering ruin for the second time in four years, I’m heartbroken to see the devastation caused to my favourite music venue, the O2 ABC.

Politicians and historical societies plus the insurance companies will not doubt in time restore Glasgow’s School of Art even if it has to be done brick by brick at an astronomical cost but at the time of writing, as the fires still smoulder, I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for the innocent party in this, the O2 ABC.

The O2 ABC building is deserving of its own place in Glasgow’s architectural and social heritage.

Built in 1875, the ABC has been renovated many times and was largely rebuilt once before back it the 1920’s. It was originally built as a diorama then renamed as the Panorama three years later. In 1885, it was transformed for the first time and re-opened its doors as Hubner’s Ice Skating Palace. Three years later, in 1888, it became one of the first buildings in the city to have electricity.

ABC 1888

The building went through another transformation, was renamed The Hippodrome and became home to Hengler’s Circus. When the circus wasn’t performing, the building was once again used to show films to the people of Glasgow.

In 1927, the building underwent another change of identity when it re-opened as a dance hall, the Waldorf Palais. At this time, it also boasted a ground floor car park. A sign of the affluence in the city.

A mere two years later, the building was renovated yet again, retaining the majority of its original architectural features including its roof structure, and re-opened as a cinema. It remained a cinema, going through several modernisations and an expansion, right through the 20th Century before showing it’s final film on 12 October 1999.

Three years later, the conversion to the music venue I know and love began.

 Oh…. and don’t forget. The O2 ABC is/was home to one of Europe’s largest glitter balls.

 As the damage is assessed, my heart bleeds for all the small businesses in the Sauchiehall Street area that, as innocent bystanders, will suffer the fallout from this weekend’s tragic events and for those who may lose their jobs as a result of this fire.

One thing to be eternally thankful for is that there was no loss of life in this inferno. If that fire had struck the ABC during a sell-out show the potential for tragedy doesn’t bear thinking about.

 Those that follow my sister blog  https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/  will know my love of the O2 ABC. Like countless music fans, I’ve so many memories that I hold dear that relate to that place. So many nights of great music. A place to meet new friends. A place to take old friends to. I even took The Big Green Gummi Bear there! I’ve met so many wonderful musicians in there too, both in the main room and in the smaller, more intimate O2 ABC2 downstairs.

I’ve seen “big” acts and smaller “up and coming” acts. I’ve seen some awesome bands headline and play support slots. I’ve seen some dubious supporting acts too!

I’ve queued outside in the freezing cold. I’ve queued outside in the pouring rain. I last queued outside on a beautiful, sunny, warm summer’s evening.

I took my Baby Girl to her first ever concert in the O2 ABC.

I bought my Baby Boy the first legal drink I’d ever bought him (Ok, it’s actually the only drink I’ve bought him to date and it was over two years after he turned 18 LOL)

My last visit to the O2 ABC as we know and remember it was on the 6th of this month when I saw Volbeat headline. It was one of the best nights I’ve enjoyed in the ABC. I think it was during a song called “Seal The Deal” that they turned on the glitter ball and, with the white lighting from the stage, the whole room was sparkling as the fans partied. A beautiful sight that will be my lasting memory of the place…..until they rebuild (I hope!)

 RIP Glitter Ball 😥

  

These articles show the history of the building in more detail :

http://www.scottishcinemas.org.uk/glasgow/abcregal/index.html

http://glasgowpunter.blogspot.com/2015/01/glasgow-ice-rinks-and-abc-cinema.html  

 

And a few photo memories….

ABC 1ABC 2ABC 3ABC 4ABC 5

 

(image of fire damaged ABC  and old images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)

 

 

 

 

Forget Me Not – a piece of flash fiction

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Birds were singing in the trees that cast cooling shadows across the path in the small graveyard. It had been many, many years since she had walked along the narrow, red gravel path but her heart was leading the way. The stones crunched beneath her feet.

Their friendship had always been unique. “Love at first bite,” he had joked on occasion after their first intimate encounter. An encounter that would last a lifetime.

Both of them knew the dangers associated with the secret they’d shared. Both of them watched family and friends grow old and pass. Both of them had watched each other remain exactly the same as if time itself stood still.

In the small village, local friends and neighbours started to notice. Rumours began to spread and, eventually, they both knew it was time.

Late into a mid-summer’s evening they had debated with each other as they hatched their plan. It was a plan to be together forever but one that would mean a lifetime apart. Both of them knew in their heart that this was the only way.

 

The day of his “funeral” had been a hot and humid June day. As they’d gathered at the graveside, the mourners were plagued by midgies that had swarmed incessantly around them. Keeping his sermon brief, the minister had blessed the “deceased” and offered up a prayer of thanks for his long and healthy life.

She had been the last to leave the graveside. Kneeling down, even although she knew he wasn’t actually buried deep below the freshly turned soil, she had wept then dropped a single Forget Me Not into the depths of the grave.

Two days later she had left her cottage in the village’s main street never to return….until now.

 

A hundred summers had passed since she had last entered the graveyard. The world had moved on. Technologies and fashions had evolved and come and gone. She, however, remained exactly the same. Her hair and clothes identical to the day she had said her last farewell.

Many times, over the years, she had thought to seek him out but her love for him held true and she kept her promise to only return on the agreed date.

She was early by less than an hour, still loathing to be late for anything.

Stepping from the gravel path onto the lush green grass, she found the grave with ease. A smile formed on her lips as she noted that a Forget Me Not had been engraved on the edge of the otherwise plain headstone. She noted too the series of numbers engraved beside the detailed flower. Seemingly meaningless to others but to her they were the confirmation that she had the date and time of their reunion correct.

 Time passed quickly as she waited. After all, what was forty eight minutes when compared to a hundred years? She passed the time meandering through the cemetery, reading the headstones, noting the graves of former friends and neighbours. Her heart ached as she realised that no one from her previous life in the village was left. Her friends were long gone.

What if he never came? A wave of panic swept through her.

Could she stay here without him? Rebuild her life in her old cottage? Would she want to if he wasn’t finally there to share in it?

What if he’d made a better life for himself elsewhere and forgotten their pact?

Anxiously she made her way through the labyrinth of granite stones to stand by his grave.

A cool breeze wafted across her pale cheek. For a second, she thought she felt the air behind her stir. A familiar musky aroma teased her senses, tugging at her heart.

She felt a hand rest on her right shoulder and gasped.

Looking to her left, her view obscured by the bright sunlight, she saw his profile. His left hand was extended towards her, palm up. In the centre of his long slender hand lay a single Forget Me Not.

“You came,” she breathed.

“Did you ever doubt I would?”

Memes And Motivational Thoughts….

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly social media has taken over our lives – in a positive and, on occasion, a negative way. How many of you remember life before Facebook and Twitter and Instagram?

I joke about being a “Facebook queen” but it allows me to connect with friends and family all over the world on a daily basis. I get to offer my congratulations to friends on their birthdays, anniversaries and successes. I get to offer my love and support when its needed too.

Social media is my main marketing tool for my Book Babies – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and blogs. The price is right…. FREE!

I’ll admit I post more than my fair share to Facebook – “we know” I hear my friends cry! – but I do try to avoid posting photos of my children and my dinner and the other mundane things that are shared millions of times a day across the world.

Those who know me well may have picked up on some of the thoughts and feelings that I never quite say on my own Facebook wall. I tend to use photos and memes and motivational thoughts to convey my own thoughts and feelings.

No one wants to see what I’ve had for dinner (trust me, this evening it was a very boring chicken sandwich).

 I don’t tend to rant either online. I vent in private (that’s what Messenger is for)

Another consequence of sharing photos, memes and motivational thoughts is that my mobile phone ends up home to literally thousands of them. Ok, I hoard the ones I stumble across and think “I might share that when the time is right”. Some never see the light of day again. Or you share it then delete it and years later Facebook reminds you that you posted it so you save it to your phone again…..and so it continues……

So, what have I shared in the past week or so?

Well, take a look….

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(images sourced via Facebook – credits to their owners)

 

Oh….and I might share the occasional photo of a certain rock star 😉

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(Credits to the owner Kevin Nixon via Facebook)

How long does it take to write a book?…a Book Baby 4 update

“How long does it take to write a book? “A question I’ve been asked more than once!

“As long as it takes,” is my stock answer.

However, with regards to the first draft of Book Baby4, 603 days is the real answer.

 Yes, I’ve FINALLY finished the first draft!!!! WOO HOO!!!

 This one has put up a fight, I can tell you! However, I’m pleased with the first draft that I have written.

 Writing the first draft of anything can be a challenge. When it’s done, you’re left with something that in places is far from perfect but in others is spot on. Already, I know in my heart, there are a few scenes that need a little TLC so I guess this is where the real work begins.

 There’s a quote that’s kept me going when the words have failed to flow..

sandbox

 

 So, after 603 days, what do I have to show for my efforts?

Well, I have this….

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Already 70% of it has been typed up and re-drafted (first time round). That portion has had it’s first spell check/grammar check treatment too.

There’s still a huge pile of work to be done between now and this Book Baby’s actual “birth”. To keep the pregnancy/birth analogy going, I’d say I’m in the first phase of labour.

I have a title in mind….. no, I’m not revealing it yet.

I have a cover design half-formed in my head…. no, I’m not revealing that just yet.

I have a birth date (publication date) in mind…. No, I’m not sharing that yet either!

Patience!!

With the help and love and support of my “Infamous Five”, my wonderfully patient alpha readers, it’s time to build some sandcastles.

Now, who has the bucket and spade?

bucket and spade

(quote and bucket and spade image sourced via Google – credits to the owners)

If In Doubt……Pin It!

Reflecting back some thirty-five-ish years, the lapels of my school blazer were festooned with badges (most of them relating to the rock band Status Quo). Each badge meant something special to me at that moment in time. There were other pins present too among the music-related badges – an elephant, a ladybird and a bee. (I’m sure I still have them all in a box somewhere)

I guess I’ve always been drawn to personalise things.

I currently have two main “go to” handbags, both Kipling (Love those furry monkeys) that are gradually being personalised with the modern equivalent of my old high school blazer’s badges.

Lost Girl pins!

If memory serves me correct, it started with one pin that said “I need coffee” that I added to my “every day” bag above the Slash pin and then promptly lost the pin a few days later. I was gutted!

A friend coincidentally bought me a pin as part of gift and chose the same one. Happy days! I added it to my “not quite every day” bag then bought it an appropriate friend a week or two later “crazy cat lady” then added “dreamer” shortly after that.

The creator of these addictive little pins suggested she could make me some to help publicise my book babies…… and, in due course, the Silver Lake dragon pin was added to the straps of both bags. An “author” pin was also acquired and added to both.

Now, each time I visit the shop, I seem compelled to add another one and another but like those lapel badges of yesteryear each one is very personal to me.

Currently my “every day” bag says “Author”, “Dreamer”, “Introvert”, “Unique”, “not one fuck given today” and “wheesht”. They sum me up pretty succinctly. Ha ha.

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This addiction is hereditary. Girl Child has begun her own collection.

It’s the simple things in life that are a form of self-expression and these wee pins have a knack of saying it all. 

Want to start your own collection? Then visit:

   https://thepirateandbluebelle.com/product/lost-girl-pins/

 You’ll soon be addicted!

 

Ask Me Anything….. some unanswered questions

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One of the things as an indie author that you have to develop is a thick skin for accepting feedback.  I have been incredibly fortunate to date that the feedback and reviews I have received for my book babies have been kind., very kind. No one has said my book babies are ugly!

Another thing that you have to be prepared to do when writing and promoting is to bare your soul…eek!

Promoting and marketing can be a costly business and my creative efforts are done on a shoestring budget so I am always looking for “free” ways to promote my books.

A few months ago I stumbled upon www.AMAfeed.com (AMA standing for Ask Me Anything)

Was I brave enough to risk it?

Yes!

So, a little apprehensively I’ll admit, I created my profile-

https://authorsama.amafeed.com/user/34486

Then I created my first AMA-

https://authorsama.amafeed.com/authorama-i-am-an-indie-author-and-have-self-published-three-rock-star-romance-471964

It ran smoothly enough and I wasn’t asked anything too revealing or controversial so I risked a second AMA-

https://authorsama.amafeed.com/authorsama-ask-me-anything-or-perhaps-answer-me-anything-about-how-best-to-490104

Again, this ran smoothly and was well supported.

So, in the run up to thinking about promoting Book Baby 4 and conscious that the summer holiday season is almost upon us, I ran a third hoping to generate some sales for the first three books in the Silver Lake series.

https://authorsama.amafeed.com/authorsama-ask-me-anything-about-the-silver-lake-series-of-rock-star-romance-501163

Again, it all ran painlessly and there were some really great questions posed.

Then along came a wee frustration….. I saw from the email alerts on my phone earlier today that there were new questions waiting to be answered. A short while ago I sat down to answer them……the AMA had ended and I was unable to submit the answers.

Me being me, I felt guilty that I hadn’t displayed courtesy to these followers and answered their question. So, in the interests of fairness, I’ll answer them here:

Did you know that you would one day become a writer?

No for many years it was a dream. Ever since I was little girl I’ve loved writing stories and the dream was always to see my name on the cover of a book one day. I seriously thought that that thought would remain a dream until three years ago when Stronger Within, the first book in the Silver Lake series, was published. Dreams do come true.

I’ve always written but I think now, three books in, I can finally believe I’m an indie author.

 How many hours did you work as a freelance copywriter to establish yourself and earn good money?

I didn’t and I don’t.  My “real job” is working for a bank. My writing is done in my own free time and at present isn’t earning me anywhere near enough to consider cutting back the hours I the day job. If you’re hoping to earn good money from writing you need to sell a heck of a lot of books daily!

How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?

A lot of plate spinning and juggling! I work full time, I am married with a family and have a home to run and I have a life to live! I guess it’s very careful time management, a lot of multi-tasking and self-discipline and precious little time wasted watching TV!

I try to get the balance right but you’d need to ask my family and friends to get a valid answer!

As a business coach, what is your best piece of advice for an entrepreneur that is struggling?

Don’t lose heart.

A close friend posted a quote on their Facebook newsfeed a long time ago that I’ve always tried to bear in mind, especially when the motivation is flagging a bit – “dreams get you started; discipline keeps you going.”

What’s the most romantic scene that you have written so far?

Love this question!

Ok- SPOILER ALERT– if you’ve not read Stronger Within this will potentially tarnish your enjoyment of it. You have been warned!

By romantic I’m thinking romance (hearts and flowers) not sex scenes.  Probably the hottest one of those is in Impossible Depth, book two in the series, and I’ll let you find it yourself! 😉

To answer the question though, I have a real soft spot for the scene at the end of Stronger Within where Jake proposes to Lori. Setting the scene at the school Christmas dance, adding a light covering of snow, some fairy lights and a slow dance just added to the romance of it all. No need for sex….just true love. Read the books though and judge for yourself.

 

Well, that’s the last unanswered question answered and my conscience is clear….unless do you want to Ask Me Anything?

 

 

 

and in the interests of book promotion, here’s the links to those:

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 

 

(image sourced via Google- credits to the owner0