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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!

 

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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

What’s in a date?……. Quite a lot actually.

Today, the 8th May marks five years to the day (well, evening to be more precise) since I took a deep breath, sat down in the early evening sunshine on my front doorstep and began to write the story of Jake and Lori, that became the first book in the Silver Lake series, Stronger Within.

That first evening I wrote about 1750 words. Here they are:

SWSW2SW3SW4

 And the finished handwritten manuscript looks like this….

SW 5

I’ve spoken about the reasons for putting pen to paper on here before and I guess it’s quite poignant that I should start out on my Silver Lake journey in the days running up to Mental Health Awareness week. (Here’s the link to the previous blog post about the reasons for those who missed it https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/surviving-or-thriving-a-personal-tale/ )

 Something I’ve reflected on and noted is that I’m a bit “funny” about dates. I hadn’t really given it much thought until a friend casually commented over coffee recently “What’s with all those dates?” or words to that effect as I talked about the deadline dates I had in mind for Book Baby 4.

It struck me that more often than not I pick dates for deadlines or publication that mean something personal to me.

I’ve published two of my three Book Babies on what would have been my Wee Gran’s birthday (15 April). I adored that little old lady and still miss her every day even though she’s been gone for over thirteen years.

In the spirit of openness and honesty, 8th May was actually my paternal grandmother’s birthday but that relationship was the polar opposite to the one I enjoyed with my maternal grandmother – enough said. Maybe the choice of date this time was purely co-incidence or perhaps I was sub-consciously proving a point. Who knows! 

The dates I’ve picked for two of my author’s note pages mark the birthdays of people who are special to me.

Deadline dates tend to be linked to different types of event. For example, I had hoped to finish the first draft of Book Baby 4 on 31 December 2017 – missed that one. I revised the date to 16th March 2018- the day before I was due to travel to Birmingham to see Myles Kennedy in concert- I missed that deadline too.  For a third time, I set a deadline date to complete this troublesome first draft – 8th May 2018 – and guess what? Yes, I’m missing this one too- just!

No, I’m not being lazy, I’ve not got writer’s block, although I did struggle a bit with keeping my momentum going about six months ago, I’ve just re-evaluated and amended the timeframe a bit. In reality, Book Baby 4 is now ahead of its revised schedule and the new date for finally completing the first draft is set as 27th June – my birthday. I promise to meet this one!!

My proposed publication dates are in September and, although I’m not ready to reveal them just yet, they are again birthdays and anniversaries.

But, back to today, the 8th May…….

The last five years have taken me on an incredible writing journey. It still feels surreal to see my “stories” out there in the big bad world as books and e-books on Amazon. When I look at them sitting there online with their twinkling stars, a huge part of me still can’t quite grasp that the childhood dream has come true and I am a “real” indie author.

book babies 2018

There seems to be only one appropriate way to mark this anniversary. Again numbers play a part in the equation. Five years down the line, the next story to be written will be Book Baby 5 and it will be a Silver Lake tale.

I guess there’s only one thing to do…….

20180508_18112220180508_18311320180508_18312320180508_183242

 

(calendar image sourced via Google- credits to the owner)

 

If you want to check out the Silver Lake series, here’s the links:

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

 

 

Coffee And Caramel Shortcake (flash fiction)

coffee and caramel shortcake

For such a beautiful Spring afternoon, the coffee shop was surprisingly quiet and she had no problem securing her favourite small window table. With her usual order placed, she turned her attention to her kindle and resumed reading.

 Hooking his sunglasses into the neck of his black t-shirt, he glanced round the unfamiliar coffee shop looking for a table. He spotted a small table over by the window and headed for it. Within moments a waitress was at his side with the menu. He only wanted a coffee so politely declined the menu and requested a large latte. 

When the waitress returned, she had two coffees on the tray and a piece of caramel. The sight of it was making him regret ordering just a coffee. Carefully, the young waitress set his large mug down then delivered the other smaller mug and the caramel shortcake to the adjacent table.

 As the woman looked up from her e-book to watch the waitress, she became aware of a pair of eyes watching her.

 The man and the woman made eye contact.

 She found herself spiralling into his brilliant blue eyes. Within them was a kaleidoscope of music, of lights, of songs, of guitars, of travelling, of hotel rooms, of restaurants and bars, of exhaustion, of jet lag, of loneliness.

 He found himself drowning in two still liquid pools of molten chocolate. Within them was a sea of contentment filled with calm thoughts of books, of writing, of scented candles, of soft music, of home cooked meals, of wine enjoyed out on a sea front terrace, of relaxation, of unbroken sleep, of loneliness.

 In that split second, the two strangers silently exchanged their worlds.

 She looked away first.

 A cloud fell over his world as he stared down into the milky depths of his coffee cup.

 “Excuse me,” said a honey soft voice beside him. “I don’t normally do things like this but you look like you need this more than I do.”

She offered him the slice of caramel shortcake.

“It’s medicinal,” she added with a smile that lit up his dark world.

“Thank you,” he said, his voice still husky from singing too many shows over too few nights. “How about you join me and we share it?”

Still smiling, she moved to sit down opposite him and cut the chocolate square neatly in half.

“You choose.”

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

Measures of Spring

Those who follow this blog will already know that I like to escape from the salt mine during my lunch hour and go for a wander.

Some days it is a leisurely stroll, with gentle music and a mind full of daydreams (NO, I’m not sharing them with you  hee hee)

Some days its is a stomp, with loud heavy metal  music on full blast and a mind full of the frustrations of the morning. (No, I’m not sharing those either.)

Being a creature of habit, I have a tendency to walk the same route most days. Very quickly you become aware of the surroundings and the changes in them. You can track the changes in the season by them.

Spring sees one of the most dramatic changes over quite a short period of time. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to capture one photo per week from roughly the same spot (bit of a hit or miss with that) to try to highlight this.

Last week I was on holiday from work and in my absence  a dramatic transformation took place!

Wondering what on earth I’m talking about now?  I’m talking daffodils!

Here, see for yourself.

spring 1spring 2spring 3

Next stop summer!!  🙂

 

 

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe…….

For the past few weeks there’s been a small bundle of clean laundry that hasn’t found a home each Sunday when I put the ironing away. It has sat on top of my chest of drawers patiently waiting….

I knew in my heart of hearts that the time had come…..again! In preparation, I invested in a plastic storage box, a bigger one than the last one I bought.

Last night another shirt was added to the pile….. Yes, you’ve guessed it – the drawer where I store my band T-shirts  was full…again!

As I opened it, and several made a bid to escape, I began to wonder how many I have actually bought in recent years? ( I don’t want to contemplate the amount of money I’ve spent on them!)

The question hung in the air as I emptied the drawer. I also retrieved the first small storage box from the wardrobe and decided to lay them all out on the bed.

After a few minutes I came to the conclusion that I need a bigger bed!

Tshirts2018

I’ll admit there are actually a couple missing – not too sure where they are hiding. Also, all my “old”  pre-children gig shirts are MIA. I suspect they may be safely stored in a holdall in Boy Child’s cupboard.

As I laid out each shirt, I smiled as I remembered the show or a specific moment in the show or the people I was that night.

Each and every one of them hold precious musical memories.

Sorting through them wasn’t easy. How do you decide which ones go in the box and which ones go back in the drawer?

It reminded me of the scene from Toy Story where Woody got “shelved.”

Tshirt collage 2018

Maybe I needed an extra set of drawers as well as a bigger bed? Common sense prevailed- rather than an emergency trip to IKEA, I sorted through them, leaving room in the larger of the two storage boxes to store more in future.

Tshirt boxed 2018

 

I also left space in the drawer for new additions….. well, 2018 is shaping up to be a great year for gigs! 😉

 

Oh, and if you were wondering, I counted 80 shirts give or take one or two (OK, I lost count!)

 

 

And Why’s He Still There, Mummy?…….

This story technically starts back on 18th March after I returned from my trip to Birmingham. Stupidly, I commented to my Moana-loving Girl Child that I’d seen a toy Hei Hei (the dopey chicken from the film) reduced in the Disney Store in the Bull Ring shopping centre. With a petted lip she asked why Hei Hei was still there. Calmly, I explained in my best mummy voice that Hei Hei wouldn’t have fitted in my overnight bag.

hei hei

She sulked….

 

Move forward in time to last Saturday. The Big Green Gummi Bear and I were preparing to leave for an overnight trip to Manchester and were saying our goodbyes to Girl Child and her Dotty Gran in Tesco’s café. Girl Child tried to pick her blue fluffy bunny up by the ear and the poor creature’s ear came off in her hand. Her wee face crumpled. She loves that blue fluffy bunny! I did wonder for a split second if she was about to cry. The Big Green Gummi bear swiftly snatched the ear from her little hand, declared it to be his “lucky bunny ear” for his race (yes, I know that it should be lucky rabbit’s foot) and stuffed it into his jacket pocket.

 

A couple of hours later and many miles down the motorway, we stopped at a service station in the Lake District for lunch. As is my want, we had a wander through the shop before getting back in the car. In the toy section, we found a display of over priced and overly fluffy toy chickens and birds and critters. The Big Green Gummi Bear quickly pulled the bunny ear from his pocket and posed it on top of one of pink fluffy chicken things, suggesting I take a photo and send it to Girl Child. I did.

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Her response a while later was “Hope you bought that.”

When I replied that we hadn’t, her immediate disappointment was expressed.

It was Hei Hei all over again….

The mummy in me knew we had to find one of those pink fluffy birds on the return journey or I’d never hear the end of this, especially so soon after not buying Hei Hei!

 On the way back north on Sunday afternoon we delayed our potty stop/coffee stop by 22 miles to reach the service station on the M6 where we hoped we stood the best chance of sourcing a pink fluffy chicken.

At Tebay services, we were in luck. They had one. He was duly purchased and carried unceremoniously by the legs out to the car. (Turns out it’s a female ostrich and not a chicken)

And so Not Hei Hei came to stay.

 

When we arrived home a couple of hours later, Girl Child was thrilled to meet Not Hei Hei and promptly sat at the dinner table with him beside her.

The blue fluffy bunny ear, which turned out to be quite a lucky bunny ear as the The Big Green Gummi Bear survived his marathon debut and ran a time he is content with, was returned to our baby girl.

With her big blue eyes wide and pleading, she asked me to fix her bunny.

So, for the first time in many years, I have just performed toy surgery and re-attached her blue bunny’s long floppy ear.

20180409_190356

 

Cue one happy Girl Child….. one 18year old happy Girl Child!

 

 

And the moral of this story is…. Never lose sight of your inner child 😉

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