“Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Book Baby
Happy Birthday to you!”
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.
( The first page of the first draft of Stronger Within)
On Friday 15th April , Stronger Within can be downloaded for FREE via this link –
Book 2 in the series, Impossible Depths, can be found here –