Monthly Archives: March 2016

Research – if in doubt what do you do?

If you want to find out about something you know nothing or little about, what do you do?

There’s an obvious modern day answer – you Google it.

I’ve been doing a fair bit of quite obscure research recently for Book Baby 3 and it struck me earlier – how did writers research such things pre-Google?

The world’s knowledge is quite literally at your fingertips. You don’t even need a computer- any smartphone will do. It does make us all quite lazy though.

Pre-Google ad Wiki if you wanted to research a topic, you packed up your notebook and pens and took yourself off to the local library.

Or, if you were lucky enough, maybe you knew someone with a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica. I’ve always wanted a copy of it!

Regardless of the research topic, the answer back then was always found in a book of some sort.

I remember as a child helping a friend to research the history of her house. We are going back over thirty-five years here but I seem to recall the house had been part of an old school at one point in its past. Armed with our notebooks, we took ourselves off into town to the main library in search of some local reference books. Being children, we were dismissed by the librarian in the “adult” library and sent upstairs to the children’s section. Like we were going to find much in the way of local history there! Fortunately, the children’s reference section was right next to the adult reference section and we did manage to find a couple of local history books but not much.

Someone’s mum suggested that we try the other library in town, the reference library next door to the local museum. Now that one had a  scary librarian! However, she realised that we were serious about our research topic and helped us to navigate our way through the catalogue system and pointed us in the direction of some useful old local histories. She even brought out some newspaper archives for us to read through.

I can’t remember now what we found out about the house (sorry) but it was my first introduction to “real” research.

In my final year in high school, I had to undertake some historical research in support of my Latin dissertation on the Roman Emperor Caligula. I was trying to argue that he wasn’t completely insane. Again, finding information proved to be a challenge. The “standard” Roman research book of choice proved to be of little use – The Annals by Tacitus – as some of them are missing. Yes, those that surrounded the time period I needed to research. Typical! My class teacher assisted where he could by bringing me his own personal copies of some Roman histories and also by borrowing a book from The British Library (I think) for me to use for a short period of time. I loved researching and writing up that dissertation! The topic did and still does fascinate me.

Now all these years down the line research is still fun but SO much easier!

Be honest, when did you last even open a book to look something up?

It’s a bit of a standing joke in this house if, over dinner, we are discussing a topic that requires some validation or more detail, I’ll reach for the dictionary as my first port of call. A good dictionary is worth its weight in gold. There’s an incredible amount of information in a decent dictionary.

So what’s your favourite research tool these days?

For both book babies, Google streetview have proved to be a Godsend. And who can live without Google maps?

Even when it came to searching for a cover image for Book Baby 2, Google was the first place I looked. (I had looked round the men in my life and decided that none of them quite lived up to my expectations of Jake Power – sorry, guys) It did mean I perused more images of half-naked hot men, and some not so hot men, than was perhaps healthy for me. Tee Hee…..

This week’s topic has been of a darker nature (No, I’m not giving any Book Baby 3 plot clues away) and it has left me pondering a few bizarre points.

Well, I’ve procrastinated on the research front long enough for one day. Time to delve back into Google….or maybe I’ll read the dictionary instead.

 

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Spring – a Festival of Colours

It’s no secret – I hate winter. I loathe being cold, detest snow and hate the long dark days. (OK I concede that a wild winter’s night can be cosy with the heating on, candles burning and the curtains drawn tight to shut out the weather)

Spring is finally here! Winter is over for another year!

For me, one of the first signs of spring is the arrival of that first day when I am able to drive home from work without having to put the car’s headlights on. That always feels like a small moral victory.

Seeing all the spring flowers appear makes the world a more colourful place. Who can resist daffodils, crocuses and tulips?

Hearing the birds singing in the trees and bushes, bursting with buds, is a beautiful sound (Perhaps with the exception of that wee bird that sits out the back of our house going Twee Twee Twee at the top if it’s voice!)

Spring truly is something to celebrate!

Whilst I’m not a religious person Easter too signals the arrival of spring.

This year however an alternative spring festival has come to my attention.

In the salt mine, where I work in my “real world”, we work closely with colleagues based in India. This week we helped them to celebrate the Hindu festival Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours. We were all asked to come into work in colourful clothes – yes, I do actually own some clothes that aren’t black!

Curious to learn more about Holi, I did a little research that I thought I’d share with you all.

Holi is one of India’s most popular festivals and is celebrated on the full moon of the month of Phalguna in the Hindu calendar. This year that fell on 23rd March. Holi celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It also traditionally celebrates the victory of good over evil.

There are several legends associated with the Festival of Colours.

The story of Holika and Prahlad is one of the most important tales relating to the history of Holi. According to legend, there was a time when the entire world was ruled by a demon king, Hiranyakashyap. He was ruthless and expected everyone to worship him. Prahlad refused to. Instead Prahlad was devoted to Lord Naarayana, also known as Lord Vishnu. This was a huge issue for Hiranyakashyap because Prahlad was his son. On numerous occasions,  the demon king tried to murder his son, only to be thwarted every time by Lord Vishnu.

Hiranyakashyap enlisted some help to deal with Prahlad in the form of a demon called Holika. Holika was believed to be immune to the effects of fire. She enticed Prahlad into her clutches and, once he was within her reach, she grabbed him, sat him on her lap and sat them both in a pit of flames. Holika soon discovered to her cost that she was only immune to fire if she entered the flames alone. The fire consumed her. Prahlad emerged from the flames unharmed. He later learned the Lord Vishnu had granted him protection from the flames as a reward for his devotion.

A second legend associated with the Festival of Colours is the love story of Radha and Krishna.

When Lord Krishna was young, he was envious of the Radha’s fair skin. (Radha was a Hindu goddess). In an attempt to express his feelings of love and envy, Krishna rubbed colour onto Radha’s face. This act of “colouring” another person is now considered to be an expression of friendship and love.

So how is Holi celebrated?

On the eve of Holi, as midnight approaches, many people build large bonfires and gather round them to sing and dance and spend time with family and friends. The fire symbolises the death of Holika and the triumph of good over evil.

A tradition drink called Bhang is also prepared and enjoyed during Holi. Bhang is made from a cannabis paste…I’ll leave that thought there.

The next day, the Festival of Colours continues with the throwing of coloured powder or coloured water as people dash through the streets of the cities across India. This is a lively celebration of respect, love and devotion to the deities, friends and family.

Different areas of India celebrate in subtly different ways. There are so many diverse cultures across this vast country that many celebrate in their own unique way.

Jaipur, a popular destination for travellers, centres its festival around elephants and upbeat music.

Delhi adopts a more modern approach and hosts a vibrant festival of food and music, designed for family and friends to relax and have fun.

After the recent tragic events, carried out in the name of religion, that are dominating the world’s news, the idea of celebrating a triumph of good over evil around a bonfire, with a drink or two and in the company of family and friends sounds like a good idea to me.

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 credits to the owners of all photos – sourced form Google Images

Second’s Out- Round Three!

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Sooner than I’d expected something has begun….

The one thing I’m not very good at is relaxing and doing nothing. Unless I’m ill, I struggle to slob on the settee. I watch very little TV in general and usually only watch one or two programmes a week. (That will change slightly as the motor sport season is about to begin again! Vroom Vroom)

After I had finalised Book Baby 2, I was mentally and physically exhausted. There were a few late nights in the final run up as I tried to squeeze as many hours into a day as possible. I promised myself I’d take a break. Give myself time for the batteries to recharge. But how long would that take?

Less than three weeks would be the answer!

I tried to chill a bit. I promise I did but it never really happened.

Within a few days of finishing Book Baby 2, I had turned my creative attention back to a serialised short story I return to every few months and picked up its tale once more (Woo Hoo declared fans of The Imp) It was a good diversion from all things Silver Lake and it was nice to just write and not be 100% focussed on proofreading and editing.

As I sat at the laptop, I could hear a wee voice calling from the book file perched on the corner of the table. It was whispering then ultimately screaming “Read me!”

Yes, the partially written Book Baby 3 began to stir.

I tried to ignore its cries but I felt like a stressed out mother of a sleepless child trying to master the controlled crying technique. Like I had many years before with the real screaming baby, I failed miserably. (To explain, Boy Child was a terrible sleeper as a baby and toddler. I tried the controlled crying with him and failed abysmally. He never slept through the night until he was three years old. That’s a lot of broken sleep and involved huge vats of coffee!)

After a few days, I surrendered and lifted the screaming notebook from the box and began to read. I tried to pace myself and read slowly. I failed there too.

To be honest, before I had finished the first handwritten draft of Book Baby 2, I had written the opening scenes of the next and possibly final part in the Silver Lake series. That was in December 2013. I then parked it until I had finished the first draft of what became Impossible Depths and then got caught up with preparing Stronger Within for publication through the latter half of 2014.

It all seems a very long time ago in one sense and just like yesterday in another!

I lifted and laid the third part of the story throughout the latter part of 2014, all of 2015 and had in fact last touched on the 3 Jan this year.

Perhaps the tale was losing patience with me! Hence the screaming for attention. Maybe it was feeling unloved!

As I read over the story so far, I could feel my inner creative voice begin to twitch and respond to its cries.

And so it begins….slowly!

I intend to take my time writing this one (famous last words knowing me!) and I’ve already identified an element of re-writing required and small continuity gaps, probably caused by the stop-start approach taken to date.

As the lighter evenings lie before me, I can see this story unfolding. It’s pace may be weather dependant! My favourite time and place to write is in the early evening sun, sitting on my doorstep with my iPod on. If we have a good summer, we may see Book Baby 3 emerge into the light sooner than if it pours with rain for weeks.

There’s no written plan or outline. No paragraph plans. I have a few key scenes in mind still to work into the tale and I have a vision of where it will end and that’s as structured as it gets for now.

So to return to the, probably by now over-used, pregnancy analogy, I’m in the first trimester again. A bit of me is feeling sick to the pit of my stomach with fear about starting this merry-go-round again so soon but another bit is bursting with excitement to let the tale out. It’s too early to say whether this will span to one book or two- who knows it may be twins! I’ll reserve judgement until I have the end in sight. I’m still promoting my original Book Baby, Stronger Within, and it’s younger sibling Book Baby 2, Impossible Depths, and am encouraged by the love the world is showing them both.

To answer a question that I’ve been asked repeatedly over the last week or two – I don’t know when Book Baby 3 will be out. Sometime in 2017 for definite but whether that’s April or November remains to be seen.

Will it be the end of the road for all things Silver Lake – who knows! I’ll see where my characters lead me.

Do I have visions of some Book Baby “cousins” that would see me expand on some of the characters? – most definitely yes!

All I need now is a long hot summer!

 

(credits to the owner of the photo.)

For your info – just in case you’ve missed them! – here’s the links to Book Babies 1 and 2.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00VXDSC1M?keywords=Stronger%20Within&qid=1458158745&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ebooks-Impossible-Depths-Silver-Lake-Book-ebook/dp/B01C0GS30K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1458158830&sr=1-1&keywords=impossible+depths

 

Shared from WordPress

Impossible Depths: Book two in the Silver Lake series: Volume 2 By Coral McCallum – http://wp.me/p4vGYs-mG

A Pile Of Ironing Or Is It?…..

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I’m sure I’m not alone in finding doing the household ironing a chore.

If I had a £1 for every time I’ve declared that we should all join a nudist colony or surmised that half of the neighbours in the street must be putting their laundry in my basket, then I’d be a rich girl!

Let’s be honest – ironing is not the most scintillating of tasks.

I’ll confess to being more than a little OCD about the weekly mountain of creased clothing.

Household rule is that “if it isn’t ironed on Sunday then it can wait until next week”.

Yes, unless by rare exception, I only iron once a week.

I’m beyond fussy when it comes to what order things get ironed in, what hanger they get hung on and about the way T-shirts are folded.

OK – I’m a nightmare and a tad on the weird side of normal about it all. I know! I know!

However, last Sunday, as I was ironing one of Boy Child’s favourite band T-shirts, for at least the hundredth time, I realised that the weekly ironing marathon can actually be a pleasant trip down memory lane.

The T-shirt that triggered this thought was Boy Child’s Alter Bridge shirt. He got it when we went to see them in Oct 2013 when they played the newly opened SSE Hydro. It was an amazing show. The first time I was fortunate enough to hear Myles Kennedy sing live and, yes, I saw that “infamous bee attack” (although I still think it was big fly or a blue bottle).

As I ironed Boy Child’s Black Label Society shirt a smile crept across my lips as I remembered watching Zack Wylde on stage in Glasgow’s O2 ABC in his kilt! What a sight!!

A similar thought was triggered as I ironed Boy Child’s Rival Sons shirt from their 2015 show at Glasgow’s O2 Academy. They too wore kilts. Scott Holiday knows how to rock a kilt and a leather jacket! They too played a blinding set that night. Love to listen to the Jay-bird sing.

I ironed Girl Child’s Slash T-shirt and recalled how happy she had looked posing for photos backstage at the SSE Hydro in Dec 2014 when we were lucky enough to meet the Conspirators and Myles Kennedy. She was glowing with happiness that night, especially when she met Frank Sidoris. What’s not to like? He’s cute and adorable and that hair of his smelled amazing! Happy and oh so precious memories!

I ironed Boy Child’s Ghost shirt and yet again marvelled at the fact I’d taken “communion” on the rail at a rock show. Bizarre memories!

Girl Child’s Nothing More shirt resurrected bittersweet memories. I originally bought the shirt for myself but gave it to Girl Child to try to compensate for two drunk female rock fans ruining an otherwise fantastic night for her. Nothing More were incredible that night in Barrowlands and played one of the most energetic sets I’ve seen.

I ironed my own Black Stone Cherry shirt from the recent Carnival of Madness show in Glasgow. More happy memories of a brilliant show and of a hilarious drive home.

It wasn’t just band merchandise that caused me to reminisce. Boy Child’s now very worn and slightly holey white Aeropostale shirt brought back holiday memories of time spent in the USA with family. Precious memories on many levels.

I could go on but I’ll spare you the rest of my laundry list but you get the idea.

I’d like to say, as the pile grows steadily again, that I’m looking forward to another trip down memory lane next Sunday but that might just be stretching a point.