Monthly Archives: April 2016

Edit Without Mercy……

without-mercy

Edit without mercy……that phrase sends chills rattling up and down my spine!

“What? You mean you want me to cut out chunks of the wording I’ve laboured over for weeks and months? You want me to bin them?”

I struggle with the whole editing process. I’ve never had much success at culling scenes from my book babies. It’s just too painful.

This was true until two days ago!

After agonising for days over it, Book Baby 3 underwent a massive cull by anyone’s standards. Without spoiling the storyline, I had a scene in mind to slot into the partially completed manuscript. I’ve spent the past month working on this pivotal point in the story and, in true Book Baby fashion, it evolved and grew, ending up far longer than originally planned. (My central characters have been leading me astray!)

When I slotted it into its rightful place, it just sat there, sticking out all over the place.

It fits perfectly with the first section of the tale but, like a cuckoo in the nest, it was pushing the subsequent parts out of the way.

I read it all over from start to finish. I read it again and a third time.

I spent several hours trying to “tweak” the following passages so that the flow of story continued uninterrupted. I failed miserably!

My A4 notebooks had paperclips and post its and coloured marks dotted all over them. There were squiggles by the dozen in the margins.

It was time for drastic action!

I finally overcame my fear of being ruthless and scrapped what I had written beyond the new pivotal scenes.

I scrapped approximately 250 handwritten pages.

I sacrificed between 45000-50000 words that had been lovingly written. GULP!

I waited on the ensuing panic to hit me. The anticipated mental cries of “What have you done!”

They never materialised.

It was liberating. It’s set the storyline free again and the pivotal scene is now nestling comfortably in its rightful position.

(Author breathes a sigh of relief!)

So what did I do with all those beautiful words that I’d spent months writing?

Did I shred them?

Did I bin them?

No. I closed the book over, put a post it on the front saying “Shelved” and stashed it in my “desk drawer” aka the red plastic crate that lurks under the kitchen table.

I just couldn’t bring myself to totally destroy all my hard work. After all, there’s actually nothing wrong with them. They just don’t “fit” anymore.

I’ve hoarded them away.

A further thought struck me like a bolt of lightning. I’m a word hoarder!

I probably have every creatively written word that I’ve produced over the past 30 some years stashed away in the house somewhere.

I may have finally been able to edit without mercy but I can’t destroy the evidence…yet!

 

 

(image shared via Google Images)

 

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A Little Dose Of Much Needed Vitamin D

sun effects

 

Today has reminded me that you can’t under estimate the therapeutic effects of an hour spent in the sun.

Normal blog service will resume next week….depending on the weather 😉

Happy First Birthday, Book Baby

“Happy Birthday to you

Happy Birthday to you

Happy Birthday dear Book Baby

Happy Birthday to you!”

 Trendy girl first birthday cake with first birthday cupcakes pictures

Scary to believe but my Book Baby aka Stronger Within celebrates its first birthday this Friday, 15th April. Can it really be a whole year since I unleashed it on an unsuspecting world?

Apparently it is and what a year it’s been!

As I realised that this anniversary was approaching, I began to reflect on the last twelve months. It’s been a creative roller coaster ride!

If I’m being totally honest, it still all feels surreal and I don’t know if it will ever really sink in that I’ve actually made one of my lifelong dreams come true not once but twice in twelve short months.

As a little girl, I was always writing stories and plays and dreaming of growing up to be a writer. I’d use my pocket money to buy a new notebook and pen then come home and curl up in corner to write. (not much has changed there- I’m still usually in a corner of the house!) Some of these stories were written. Others were barely started.

An English teacher at school almost put me off writing forever but, after reassurance from another teacher, I picked up my notebook and pen again. For several years, as a teenager, I wrote furiously, filling notebook after notebook with a family saga that spanned three generations of strong female role models. Looking back, the first incarnation of Jake Power is probably lurking among those pages. (I still have all of those reporter notebooks in the wardrobe. Who knows, maybe someday in the future I may re-visit that first “book”)

In some ways not a lot has changed over the years in my approach to writing. My handwriting has got a hell of a lot worse, I’ll say that much! As I’ve said before, I can write faster than I can type so all first drafts, blogs, music reviews included are handwritten.

I remember deciding to start Book Baby partly on a whim but the time felt right to bring the characters that had been living in my imagination to life. In true Coral fashion, I bought a couple of new A4 notebooks and some colourful pens. Those first few words were penned sitting on my front doorstep in the early evening sun on 8 May 2013. And, as time went by over the weeks and months, the words continued to flow.

By the time Book Baby aka Stronger Within was published last April, Book Baby 2  aka Impossible Depths had also been written in its first raw, naked state. (Yes, that required more new notebooks and pens. If I’m honest, one is written in pink notebooks, the other in blue so I guess you could say one’s a boy and the other’s a girl!)

Something I’ve not revealed before is that Book Baby 3 was already a work in progress this time last year. One pivotal scene from it was actually written in Dec 2013 but I began the main body of the tale in June 2014. All hasn’t run smoothly with this third book baby. It’s been a stop-start/love-hate affair ever since…until recently.

I’ve made some major changes to it, re-written some parts and I’m now feeling the love for it again. Perhaps It’s suffered a little from “third child syndrome” but I’ve collected my thoughts, given it some much needed TLC and am now working hard to nurture it to its final chapter. (Don’t get too excited! It won’t be ready for publication until 2017 at some point.)

I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself at this point in time. (I still work full time, write two blogs, admin two rock star fan pages and run a family.) I want to enjoy writing Book Baby 3 as, at this point in time, it is the last planned book in the Silver Lake series. But, hey, never say never, so who knows where my characters may lead me by the end of it.

A few days after the launch of Stronger Within, I posted a blog on here about the first few days of Book Baby Motherhood (https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/the-first-few-days-of-book-baby-motherhood) I drew up a short list of things to try to overcome about becoming a published author (eek! – I’ve finally said it out loud!)

First on the list was to stop feeling so self- conscious and allow myself to feel proud of my achievement. I’ve partly succeeded. I still feel very self-conscious and awkward when people ask me about the books. Inwardly though, I am proud of the achievement. I honestly don’t know how many copies have been sold  in either format or downloaded via Kindle giveaways or read via Kindle Unlimited. I did a rough count a while ago and it was into four figures. What makes me feel proud is the lovely feedback and reviews that the books are earning. Seeing other people love my characters as much as I do makes me feel proud. And each twinkly star makes all the long hours of typing, editing, proofreading and panic worthwhile.

Second on the list was to relax and let things take their course. Confession – I’ve failed miserably here. I can’t do relax. Fact!

Third was to re-connect with my characters and storylines. I’ve definitely re-connected with my main characters, I’ve created a few new ones and the storyline is evolving. I’m very much a “go with the flow” writer and don’t meticulously plan. I do plan the salient points of the outline but occasionally my characters detour on their journey between these. There is no paragraph or chapter plan for any of the books in the series. It’s all in my head or the odd bit is on a post it stuck in the notebook. (I suspect several writer friends have just thrown their hands up and shrieked in horror at this revelation.)

And the final challenge was to learn how to stop blushing when anyone speaks to me about the books. A physical impossibility! I am now an expert at turning 50 Shades of Red in the blink of an eye!

So all that’s left to say is a HUGE thank you to each and every one of you who have shown me your love and support of the past year. There’s a few of you that I couldn’t do this without (you all know who you are) and I’d like to add an extra thank you to these people for putting up with me. I know I must be a royal pain in the ass at times. (I hope you’re all ready for round three when the time comes though.)

So, how do I plan to celebrate Book Baby’s first birthday?

A few months after it was published someone said to me that they’d read it, quite enjoyed it but it wasn’t their kind of book. I admired their honesty. They then went on to say that by reading it, I had encouraged them to read other books. That statement alone struck a chord with me and made all the hard work worthwhile.

To celebrate Stronger Within’s first year, I’ve set up a FREE download day on 15 April on Amazon’s kindle store worldwide. Yes, the best way to celebrate it is to share it with as many people as possible. If it encourages just one person to discover the pleasure to be found in a book then it will be a very happy birthday indeed.

SW page1

( The first page of the first draft of Stronger Within)

 On Friday 15th April , Stronger Within can be downloaded for FREE via this link –

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stronger-Within-Silver-Lake-Series-ebook/dp/B00VXDSC1M?ie=UTF8&keywords=stronger%20within&qid=1460582354&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

 

Book 2 in the series, Impossible Depths, can be found here –

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ebooks-Impossible-Depths-Silver-Lake-Book-ebook/dp/B01C0GS30K/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=51WJPFtx6TL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_OU02_AC_UL160_SR107%2C160_&refRID=09P4V527TV80BES9NRE9

SW & ID

Recording in three,two, one….

BBC-Scotland

 

Arriving at Pacific Quay in Glasgow early for a show and having to stand in a queue isn’t exactly out of the norm for me. However, last night was a little different. I was on the opposite side of the Clyde to normal for a start and the queue was indoors! How civilised, but then, I was visiting the BBC.

A friend and neighbour had kindly invited me to accompany her to the BBC to be part of the studio audience for the recording of a sitcom. I jumped at the chance!

Despite the fact I’ve walked/driven past the huge BBC building in Glasgow many times, I’d never actually been inside or been in a TV studio of any kind.  It was all very exciting!

Like every live entertainment event, the evening involved a degree of queuing. Eventually though, we entered the studio itself.  It was smaller than I’d imagined. The tiered seating faced three small sets. To be honest, they looked very basic but I’m sure by the time the show in question hits the small screen, the magic of TV will have transformed them.

Once the audience was seated, Glasgow stand-up comedian Des Clarke introduced himself and proceeded to teach us how to clap three different ways and then how to laugh three different ways Have you any idea how hard it is to sustain a full bellied laugh when there is nothing funny to laugh at!

So, what were we there to see being filmed?

Well, we were there to see them record an episode of Hancock’s Half Hour as part of the BBC’s Lost Sitcoms series which is due to be broadcast later this summer. The series is set to include Steptoe and Son, Till Death Do Us Part and several other classic shows from days gone by.

“But the original cast are long since dead!” I hear you cry.

Sad but true and, until we were actually seated in the studio, it hadn’t crossed my mind to ask who we were about to see perform these classic roles.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Tony Hancock’s work, he was a famous comedy genius from the 1950’s and 1960’s, both on radio and in television. Probably his most famous sketch is The Blood Donor. Absolutely classic British comedy of its day.

Good, well-written comedy is truly timeless!

Tony Hancock performed over hundred episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour on radio over a seven- year period. The show was first broadcast on TV in 1956 and ran concurrently with the radio show for four short years.

The episode we were scheduled to see re-enacted was called The New Neighbour and had first been broadcast on 13 May 1957.

At that time, Tony Hancock worked closely with another British comedy legend, Sid James, most famous for his roles in the Carry On films.  This episode had also included the late, great Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques, both also famous for their roles in the Carry On films among other things.

Four big sets of shoes to be filled by present day stars!

So, who did the honours? Well, we were introduced to Katie Wix in the role of Hattie Jacques, Robin Sebastian as Kenneth Williams (I loved Kenneth Williams!), John Culshaw as Sid James and the wonderful Kevin McNally as Tony Hancock himself. (Kevin McNally is probably most famous for his role as Mr Gibbs on the Pirates of the Caribbean films but is an actor I’ve admired since I first saw him in a TV adaptation of RF Delderfield’s Diana in 1984. He was cute back then.)

The New Neighbour had two other cast members- Kevin Eldon, who filled the role previously performed by John Vere and Robbie Jack as the “new neighbour”.

So having learned how to laugh and clap, we sat back to enjoy the recording of the show.

The script writing, by Ray Galton and Alex Simpson, really was British sitcom at its finest and, as I mentioned earlier, even though this show is almost sixty years old, it was timeless. Still as funny today as back then.

Watching the actors “fluff” the occasional line or lean too far through the “glass-less” window frame provided some additional comedy moments that will never see the light of day.

Des Clarke acted as compere/continuity man throughout the whole evening and its sufficient to say “his patter’s like watter”. He did a tremendous job keeping the audience entertained between takes.

The sound engineer added to the hilarity by adding in a breaking glass sound effect if any of the actors leaned too far forward through the window frames. We were also treated to a few moments of mime against the imaginary glass.

All in all, I was surprised just how relaxed the whole affair was. As to be expected, there was a degree of repetition as scenes were repeated due to a forgotten line or at the director’s request.

Watching the cameras (or daleks as Des Clarke referred to them as) glide about was impressive.

There was a fair bit of faffing as the make-up lady touched up hair and make-up repeatedly. More so on the guys than on Katie Wix, I may add!

Start to finish, it took approximately two and a half hours to film the half hour show (They had pre-recorded the final scene as it required a different set entirely).

Like all theatrical performances, it ended with the six actors taking their bows, all of which was done with equal good humour. Robin Sebastian came across as stone mad. A really funny guy and brilliant as Kenneth Williams but there was also a glint of mischief in Kevin McNally’s eyes too as he departed.

The lights went up and we all slowly headed home, still smiling at some of the jokes and marvelling at the simplicity of the sets.

So what happened to the real life Tony Hancock? His is a sad tale. He continued to record Hancock’s Half Hour until 1961 when, as a result of concussion received in a serious car crash, he struggled to learn his lines and was forced to rely on teleprompters. He continued to appear regularly on British TV up until 1967 when ,sadly, alcoholism began to take its toll on his performance. In 1968, Australian TV network, Seven Network, contracted him to do thirteen shows as Hancock Down Under. In the end only three were recorded. Tragically, Tony Hancock committed suicide on 25 June 1968. He was only 44 years old.

Like many comedy geniuses, he was taken from his audience way too soon.

hancock_3095817b

Tony Hancock on the left and Kevin McNally in character on the right.

credits to the owners of all images used – sourced via Google