Monthly Archives: April 2017

And chill…. hopefully.

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There are countless things in this world that I’m useless at but there is one that I really am particularly rubbish at.

I really don’t relax very often. I struggle to do “chill.”

I’ve been on holiday from work for the past week and genuinely haven’t managed to feel chilled out at all. No matter what I tried, all the usual tricks, nothing seemed to work for longer than a few minutes. I was beginning to think I was going to return the salt mine almost as frazzled as I’d left it.

That was until yesterday afternoon….

The sun was shining. I decided that the housework could wait for another day and I set off for a walk. Normally a walk means countless photos of the same stretch of the world but not today. Yes, I had my camera with me and I did take a few photos but my heart wasn’t in it. The love for it wasn’t there.

I just needed “beach therapy”.

It’s no secret that I love the beach.

Ok, there is one particular beach that is my absolute favourite and holds endless precious memories but as it’s several thousand miles away my local stretch of shingle and sand had to suffice.

As I walked along the path towards it, I could see that the tide was out and that the warm spring sunshine had attracted dog owners and parents with small children by the dozen. It didn’t bode well for some peace and quiet….

Would I be able to find the sheltered spot in the sun that my needy soul was craving?

I wandered down the short dusty path onto the sand and headed slowly west along the beach.

Almost the second that there was sand beneath my feet (yes, I still had my Converse on- it’s Scotland in April and I’m not insane enough to go barefoot….well, not quite!) I felt myself sigh. Felt an air of calm wash through me.

Slowly I meandered along the beach, looking for a suitable sheltered spot. I spied two rocks at the back of the beach that looked to be in a sheltered nook. It was windy and the breeze was clearly reminding everyone that it was still only April. Brrr!!!!

A bit like Goldilocks, I sat on the larger rock first.  Too lumpy! I tried the smaller, flatter rock. Perfect.

Within a few moments, I was sitting there contentedly lost in the tale on my Kindle with my music playing in my ears thanks to my omnipresent iPod. (Yes, it was Myles Kennedy before you ask)

For a little over an hour I sat there reading, listening, occasionally pausing to people and dog watch. Gradually the batteries of my soul began to recharge. Idyllic.

Mentally I ran through the gallery of beaches that I have visited over the years. The Cornish sand dunes I rolled down as a little girl, the endless sands in Harris that I collected shells on with my mum and my Wee Gran, the beach in Brittany that I spent an afternoon on as a teenager and saw my first nudists (an educational afternoon for my 14 year old self!), the beaches in Portugal with the fishermen mending their nets, the glorious sands of Mauritius and the man who sold carved fresh pineapples every day. My memories then settled on my favourite beach on the Delaware coast. As I basked in the Scottish sunshine, I relived the memories of time spent there. I could almost hear the ocean waves crashing in.

A chill breeze blew up and brought me back to reality with a shiver. A bank of cloud was rolling in signalling that it was time to call it a day.

Carefully I wrapped the precious memories up in tissue paper and stowed them back in their boxes in my mind. I put my Kindle back in my bag, stuffed my phone into my jeans pocket and got to my feet. Ok, got stiffly to my feet…ha ha.

Feeling my soul somewhat lighter I walked back across the sand towards the dusty path then with one last lingering look at the dogs splashing in the water I headed slowly for home with sand in my heart and my shoes.

Finally, I felt chilled.

 beach collage 1Beach collage 2

 

Book Baby Motherhood – the toddler phase

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Facebook very kindly shares past memories with us on an almost daily basis. Some days I scoot past these posts, choosing to not to glance backwards over my shoulder but instead to focus my energies on moving forwards. Onwards and upwards…or, in my case, a lot of the time it feels like onwards and sideways!

As I browsed my newsfeed this morning, over coffee and a bagel, one post from two years ago caught my eye. It was a link to a blog post from 20 April 2015 talking about the first few days of Book Baby motherhood. Reading through it, I felt again the rush of emotion and excitement and anxiety that I’d experienced. (here, have a read for yourselves https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/the-first-few-days-of-book-baby-motherhood/ )

At the end of the blog post I had drawn up a list of things to work on.

1-      Stop feeling so self-conscious and allow myself to feel proud of my achievement

2-      Relax and let things take their course with Stronger Within

3-      Re-connect with my characters and storylines. The rest of the tale isn’t going to write itself.

4-      Learn how to stop blushing.

So, in the past two years have I managed to meet these four objectives?

Well, I’ve tried. Honestly, I’ve tried.

Do I feel less self-conscious? In all honesty, no.  Do I feel proud of my achievement? Yes, but in my own quiet way.

 Writing for me has always been a means of escape. A recent conversation made me think of it in a slightly different light. It’s a coping mechanism. As a child and a teenager, I wrote to escape into a world away from the school bullies. Lost in my own fantasy world, their cruel words didn’t reach quite so far into my psyche, didn’t leave quite so many scars. 

Years later, I picked up my pen again to re-connect with “me”. I needed something that identified me with me and not as someone’s wife or mother (both roles I am proud of). There came a moment in time when I felt the need to reach deep inside and retrieve the person who was “me”. After a lengthy soul search, I found her.

Now, writing is a means of escape from a tough day in the salt mine, the dramas associated with hormonal teenagers and a general escape route from the pressures of day to day life.

So, do I feel less self-conscious about what I write? No. I still get overcome with nerves when I let people read what I’ve written. Over the past couple of years though, I’ve got better at keeping those fears under control. Although the nerves are fluttering as I prepare to post this blog.

Am I proud of my achievements? In my own way, of course, I am. Never in my wildest dreams, did I ever think I would see my name on the spine of a book. Now, it sits proudly on the spine of three. Do I think these are great works of fiction? Of course not! They’re my book babies and it’s my story told my way. I’d never force it upon anyone but the books are out there in this big bad world to be enjoyed by whoever feels the urge to pick one or all three up.

Have I learned to relax? No! It’s not in my nature to be chilled about things. I’ve failed this objective miserably.

Did I re-connect with my characters after Book Baby 1 aka Stronger Within?  Yes, I did. They grew in strength in Impossible Depths and more recently in Bonded Souls. New characters wove their wave into the story while others drifted off. Can I re-connect with them again further down the line? I hope so. For now, they’ve been placed carefully back into their box but I’ve a feeling they won’t rest there for long.

Have I learned how to stop blushing? NO! If anything, I’ve got worse over the past two years! I’ve turned 50 Shades of Red many, many times. I’m a totally lost cause on the blushing front. Give whole new meaning to the phrase “scarlet woman!”  ha ha

The past two years of Book Baby motherhood have flown by and have been extremely kind to me. I don’t mean financially kind. Any writer who has travelled this road understands that the pennies are hard won and you need to be exceptionally lucky to make a living from selling novels. The past two years have been emotionally kind to me. No one, at least not to my face, has said a bad word about my babies. I’ve received such heartfelt reviews of all three books. Even at only five days old, Bonded Souls has earned five 5* reviews on Amazon.co.uk.  Each of these kind words and twinkling stars makes all the hours of work worthwhile. If I’ve entertained someone and provided them with an escape from their real world then I’ve succeeded. If I’ve initiated an emotional response with my words then I’ve more than succeeded. (Apologies though to anyone I’ve made cry…. )

This journey isn’t one that I’ve made alone. Without the love and encouragement of a few very special people (you know who you are) I’d never have made it this far along the literary trail. Writing can be a very lonely experience but I’m very fortunate in that that these guys are right beside me every word of the way.

OK, before I get too mushy here, what’s next?

I set myself a new goal at the start of 2017 and that was to write the first draft of a new book baby by the end of the year.

Well, to continue the baby/pregnancy analogy that I’ve used all along, there’s another baby on the way. It’s very early days. (I’m about ten thousand words in) Being the superstitious soul that I am, I don’t want to say much more and jinx my progress.

Now, I’m looking forward to a summer of long, warm, sunny evenings where I can escape from the pressures of the day into my creative world for an hour or two and get to know my new imaginary friends. I think you’re going to like them.

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Just in case you’ve missed any of the links to my book babies –

UK link

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Coral-McCallum/e/B00VYU1SZ6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1492694242&sr=8-1

 

rest of the world link

https://www.amazon.com/Coral-McCallum/e/B00VYU1SZ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Bonded Souls: Book 3 in the Silver Lake Series By Coral McCallum

Feeling loved. Thank you 💖

Echoes In An Empty Room

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With their wedding vows still ringing in their ears, the new Mr & Mrs Power start a new year with new projects, new tours and a new arrival on their minds.
However, a chance meeting for Jake with, not one but, two of his musical idols ensures life will never be the same again.
A dark twist of fate forces Jake to confront the demons of his past and takes the Silver Lake family on an emotional and intense journey.

As rock ‘n’ roll, love and family intertwine to perfection, will Silver Lake emerge unscathed? Will the bonds of friendship hold true?
Will Jake and Lori remain Bonded Souls?

My Thoughts:

I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have read Coral’s previous novels in this series so was happy to find out I would be reading book 3 for her. I…

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Book Baby 3…birthing pains….

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Two sleeps to go and nerves are creeping in….

Creeping? Who am I kidding? They are flooding in at 100mph!! The “what ifs” have started!

I’ve checked off the pre-launch To Do list and appear to have all essential bases covered.

1-      Upload and set up pre-order on Kindle

2-      Plan online launch party for 15 April 4-6pm and send out invites

3-      Sort out promo goodies

4-      Good Reads Giveaway set up – open till 17 April

5-      Proof paperback edition and approve

All ticked off….apart from No.5.

I think I’ve jinxed myself.

In my author’s note at the start of the book, I pass  comment that Book Baby 3 has been a “golden child.”

WRONG!! Oh, so wrong!!

It’s developed into a juvenile delinquent with a propensity for wandering off!

Let me back track slightly here.

A few weeks ago, I ordered my first paperback proof copy of Book Baby 3. I paid for expediated shipping and, as if by magic, less than a week later, I held the first proof in my hands. A surreal moment.

Cue over a week’s worth of proofreading and final tweaking. (Good job too as I picked up on two continuity errors among many other minor corrections to be fixed.) I also spotted an issue with one line on the back cover. It was ever so slightly squint but it stuck out like a sore thumb.

Cue another visit to Hell..sorry the dark depths of Photoshop.. to correct the alignment.

So far so good.

I uploaded the amended files and waited for the submission to be approved. The text file passed scrutiny with flying colours first time..whew! The cover file failed….then failed again. At the third time of asking, after further trips into the dark realms of Photoshop, it was finally approved.

Woo Hoo!!!

A fresh proof copy was ordered, again with  expediated shipping selected. Expected date of delivery was noted as 3 April.

The 3 April arrived….no book.

The 4 April arrived….no book.

The 5 April arrived and I finally managed to track it. According to the tracking info it was scheduled for delivery the next day. Happy days….or so I thought.

The 6 April arrived….no book. The tracking info had been updated though and kindly informed me that the parcel had been successfully delivered to West Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Some 3000 miles off target!

Once my initial wave of anger passed, I emailed CreateSpace to explain my dilemma and to seek a solution. Within 24 hours, I’d had the postage refunded, a promise of a fresh proof to be delivered, free of any shipping charges,  by 12 April and an apology for the error.

We’re all human. Mistakes happen. There was still time to get the proof and check it over before “B-Day” on 15 April.

By the evening of 11 April my sixth sense was twitching (seldom a good thing) and I checked the tracking info just to be sure that my proof was at least on the right side of the Atlantic Ocean.

It wasn’t.

It was on its way back to Kentucky due to an administrative error with a shipping invoice.

Deep breaths….more deep breaths…ok they didn’t help and the air was soon blue while I had a bit of a meltdown.

At this late stage there was very little to be done to correct the issue.

I slept on it while I waited for a response from CreateSpace.

Then I slept on it again…

Tonight, it was time to take a leap of faith and, at this point, I’m really hoping that it’s not one I’ll live to regret.

I’ve approved the paperback proof based on the digital proof copy..GULP!

I really didn’t have any choice.

So here we are, two sleeps away from “B-Day”….

Time to add No 6 to that To Do list

6-      Put champagne on ice

 

Oh, and, if you were the lucky resident of West Columbia, SC, USA, who received the mystery package last week from the mailman, I hope you take the time to read Bonded Souls. I hope you enjoy it and I hope that you can find it in your heart to leave a review on Amazon. Every star helps!

 

Amazon links for Bonded Souls 

UK link : https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XSQHG71

USA link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSQHG71

A little deviation from the norm…

 A little deviation from the norm….

It’s been a while since I’ve written any poetry or added to the poems section of this blog but for one reason or another I’ve been reflecting a lot recently. It reminded me of this poetic effort from a while back. Even now, roughly five years later, it still rings true.

Hidden From Prying Eyes

Deep inside me

Hidden from prying eyes

Hides “me”.

 

The public “me”

Paints on the smile

And glides through the working day.

 

The mummy “me”

Offers cuddles and hugs

Showering my children in unconditional love.

 

The friend “me”

Is calm and loyal

Always there to support and assist

 

The real “me”

Stays hidden

Quiet emotional

Nervous and scared

Frightened she’s found by prying eyes.

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(image sourced via Google- credits to the owner)