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100 Word Story? Is it possible?…..

As an indie-author one of the questions I get asked on a regular basis is “How do you do it?” My standard answer is “One word at a time.”

However, how many words do you need to tell a story? How many to add a bit of intrigue? How many to add a hint of romance?

I decided to set myself the challenge to write a 100 word story.

Anyone who has read my books will understand that limiting the word count is perhaps not my forte! Ha Ha.

However, I was strict with myself here and rose to the challenge.

So, in a 100 words here’s  Cat’s Eyes.

 

Cats’s Eyes

 The cat watched the car approach. Recognised his owner in the passenger seat. As he licked his fluffy paws, he watched as the car stopped at the end of the driveway.  Squinting into the early evening sun, the cat saw the driver reach over to kiss his owner. Pausing to wash his long tail, the cat continued to watch the long, slow, passionate embrace. The car’s window was open but all he could hear was music. As he licked his bits, the car door opened. His owner stepped out. With a wave, the car drove off. Cat and owner smiled.

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On Butterfly Wings (short story)

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For the first time in weeks, she felt safe and secure. She felt calm as she sat on a thick carpet of dry pine needles. Deep in the heart of the small cluster of trees, she was hidden from prying eyes, protected from the world about her. No one knew she came there to think, to read and now to write, well, journal, to be more precise. She was finally alone for the first time in weeks.

She had discovered this small quiet sanctuary by chance. Or had something guided her towards it? How many times had she walked past that stand of trees without a second thought? Something had caught her attention though and, on a whim one sunny summer day, she had strayed from the path to take a closer look. The second she had stepped into the hidden clearing deep with the circle of pine trees, a tranquil silence had enveloped her. She immediately felt as if she belonged there. Was something from the past, from another lifetime, reaching out to tell her she was supposed to be there?

Over the months she had visited the small clearing regularly. After several idyllic afternoons spent hidden there, she realised that she wasn’t the only one spending time in the space. Someone had hung some wind chimes high up on one of the branches. Their gentle tinkling notes were soothing as she hid beneath them, sheltered from the outside world, recharging the batteries of her soul.

Now though, as she settled herself on the thick layer of dried pine needles, her heart and soul were troubled.  Time was running out. Sitting cross-legged, she stared down at the journal resting in her lap. It was slightly larger than a desk diary with a silvery pink cover decorated with multi-coloured butterflies. Its lined pages were blank. She had bought it on a whim over a year before, attracted by the bright butterflies. She never could resist a butterfly.

With a trembling hand, she opened the small, hardbacked journal at the first blank page and began to write. Time lost all meaning as she poured her hopes and fears into the pages. Now that she had opened the lid on the well of emotions that had been bubbling inside her since mid-winter, the words flooded the pages. Safe in the freedom of her journaling, she wrote about feelings and emotions that she had barely consciously acknowledged. She wrote about love. As her spidery writing covered page after page, the pain in her heart and her soul lessened. Her fears of rejection and of failure and of loss and regret gradually began to melt away. Seeing her own words written down in front of her for the first time, she recognised that she had never been the one at fault. Her only fault was to care too deeply about life and some of the people in it.

If she had known then what she knew now, would she have lived her life any differently?

Turning to the last blank page, she smiled to herself and silently acknowledged that she wouldn’t change a second of it. Reliving some of those memories had made her smile, something she had had little cause to do of late.

Staring at the final blank page, she paused. Over the course of the spring afternoon, she had filled the journal with her innermost thoughts. This last blank page was her final chance to have her say, to say how she really felt. The only opportunity left to write a long overdue letter. It was a chance to say goodbye.

Keeping her handwriting small, she swiftly filled the page with words written straight from the heart.

A warm red glowing light was swathing the clearing. It was the colours of sunset. Time was almost up.

Closing the journal over, its magnetic cover snapping into position, she let out a sigh. A little unsteadily, she got to her feet, brushed the pine needles from her jeans and slipped the journal and her green pen into her tote bag. Glancing round for one last time, she whispered, “Thank you.” then ducked down low as she stepped out of the sanctuary into the late afternoon sunshine.

The sun was low in the sky, almost touching the hills across the river to the north. It was casting streaks of red and gold across the virtually cloudless sky, promising a stunning sunset when the golden orb finally dipped below the horizon.

Slowly she made her way along the path then down onto the deserted stretch of beach. Breathing in the salty air, she smiled. Listening to the waves gently lapping ashore, she smiled. Feeling the damp sand under her unsteady feet, she smiled. Feeling the last of the sun’s warmth on her pale cheeks, she smiled.

It sapped the last of her strength but she made it to her favourite spot at the far end of the beach just as the sun began to disappear. The view was perfect. Unable to resist, she reached into her bag for her phone, ignoring all the alerts about missed calls and messages, and photographed one last spectacular sunset.

The bag fell open and, unseen, the butterfly journal dropped out onto the sand. The magnetic cover sprung open.

“There you are!” came an exasperated cry. “Where the hell have you been? Everyone is out looking for you!”

 

Long after the sun had set, a gentle breeze blew in from the west. It caught the pages of the journal flicking them over, setting her emotional confession free.

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Gotta Love The Beach In Winter….

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Anyone that follows my blog or has read the Silver Lake series knows I love the beach.

There is nothing like the feeling of sand under your feet to soothe the soul. It’s my quiet place. My happy place. My thinking place. My sanctuary….

Even in winter….no make that especially in winter….it holds a special kind of magic.

Would you believe me if I said the photo above had been shot in January? No? Well it was – the 1st of January to be precise.

In winter the beach tends to be virtually deserted. OK, it tends to be damn cold too! It’s Scotland – it can be damn cold in summer! On several occasions I’ve timed my visits just right and managed to secure the whole beach to myself for a few precious minutes.

Selfish I know but, in those few stolen moments, it’s MY space.

Space to daydream. Space to think things through (or over think them as I have a tendency to do). Space to seek creative inspiration. Space to reminisce. Space to shed private tears. Space to breathe. Space to recharge the batteries.

Without fail, I leave every time feeling calmer and more grounded. Maybe it’s the water themed name or the Cancerian birth sign but my soul is most definitely tied to the beach.

Where’s your happy place?

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Indie Author Seeking Shelf Space

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As an indie author there are many “hats” you need to wear to get your “book babies” out into the world.

Over the past four years I’ve been through a steep learning curve in relation to getting my books babies written, typed, edited, formatted, cover designs created (Photoshop is evil), published, launched and subsequently marketed on a shoestring budget.

The marketing aspect is probably the toughest challenge an indie author faces.

Actually writing the book in the first place is the fun part!

Since KDP and other self-publishing platforms made books so relatively simple to self-publish the market has been flooded. There were circa 2 000 000 books published in 2017 alone. Competition is tough, VERY tough!

A quote from a Forbes.com article from 2013 sums up the challenges succinctly: “Here’s the problem with self-publishing: no one cares about your book. That’s it in a nutshell. There are somewhere between 600 000 and 1 000 000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe. Many of those – perhaps as many as half or even more- are self-published. On average they sell less than 250 copies each. Your book won’t stand out. Hillary Clinton’s will. Yours won’t.”

Harsh but honest words.

I’ve said many times if you’re writing a book to make money then you’re in for a hell of a shock!

To date, I’ve been extremely fortunate that no one has said my book babies are ugly, they’ve each earned 5* reviews and I’ve received a Royalties payment every month, even if it is only for pennies.

The majority that have been sold have been e-books but each of my book babies is also available as a “real” book too.

E-book marketing can be done through social media. “Real” book marketing, actually gaining shelf space, is far tougher. I’d love to see my books  on the shelves in bookstores but getting shelf space as an indie author is nigh on impossible. I managed it once with Stronger Within for a whole six copies. A major accomplishment that I remain very proud of.

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For me personally though I’d love to see my Silver Lake series on sale in the book stores in and around the town where the stories are set. That small town is somewhere I am passionate about. A lot of the feedback that I’ve received has been that folk want to visit Rehoboth Beach, De. (It’s not a big place but in my own quiet way from over 3000 miles away I’ve introduced my readers to this jewel on the Delaware Riviera.)

On more than one occasion, I’ve approached a “local” bookstore in an effort to open discussions about the possibility of them putting a few copies on their shelves. My polite approaches have been met with silence.

So I reverted to advertising on social media and added pages and groups linked to the locale to my list. I don’t over advertise on these- one post every few weeks on these “local” pages at most. To an “outsider” looking in on the group/page descriptions they look to be about promoting things linked to the area, including books, events, places etc about the area so the Silver Lake books meet the criteria….. or so I thought until recently. One well- meant post met with a brief but sharp barrage of complaints that I was routing shoppers to Amazon instead of local stores and was detracting from the town. I quickly deleted the post as that most definitely was not my intent. The comments stung. If local businesses supported indie authors, regardless of where they reside, who are writing about their town then local folks wouldn’t have to shop online….. marketing lesson #700….. I won’t be engaging with that group again.

Maybe Forbes.com was right “no one cares about your book.”

However, authors, including indie-authors, are storytellers at heart and, for as long as they have a story to share, they will find a way to publish or self-publish their work. I know I will.

As for marketing, well despite having been kicked back down that learning curve, I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and will start all over again.

Can I interest you in a book?……..

 

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

 

Ellen – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FYHKR44

  

 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

 

Ellen – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FYHKR44

 

 

 

January 2019

Hi
I’ll start with a small apology…… life got in the way and I omitted to write a newsletter last month. (I also forgot to add writing it to my To Do list and with all the buzz of the run up to Christmas etc, I forgot about it!)

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I mentioned in November’s newsletter that I would be busy with my music blog in December and I was! During December I enjoyed three great nights of music. Missed my reviews of those shows? Not to worry, you can catch up here https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com/

Currently there are seven gigs in my 2019 calendar but that list is bound to grow somewhat as more tours are announced. Do you think I’d get away with badging it as “book research”? LOL

December also saw a guest indie author make an appearance on my blog. I welcomed Mark Grint aka Christian W Smith along to share his excellent short story Alana of Great Lindford and some insights into his writing. If you missed it, you can catch up here https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/introducing-2/
If you are an author with a new novel underway or have a short story to share and would like to be featured on my blog, please contact me. Guests are always welcome.

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The next instalment in my Silently Watching series rounded off the year on my blog. It never ceases to amaze me how popular that particular dark angel is. Don’t worry, she’ll be back later this year.

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My primary creative focus is still Book Baby 5. Progress has been steady throughout December and as planned I began the long arduous process of typing it up on 1st January. The current loose plan is to write/type for the first half of this year, type/edit over Summer and into Autumn then, all being well, Book Baby 5 will take its first tentative steps into the world towards the end of the year. It’s a tall order as there is a huge amount still be done but I’ll give it my best shot!

 

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As my mantra says “Dreams get you started. Discipline keeps you going”. I’m going to need all my self-discipline to bring this one in on schedule- trust me!
Till next time…..
Love n hugs
Coral xx

How many times……..

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How many times have you gone to bed thinking “I should have messaged XXXX. I’ll do it tomorrow”? Or driven home from work thinking, “I’ll phone XXXX once I’ve had dinner, done the laundry and got the kids to bed.”?

How many times have you thought, “I haven’t heard from XXXX for a while. They must be busy.”

How many times have you scrolled through Facebook and thought “XXXX hasn’t posted in a while. They must be taking a social media break.”?

Sounding familiar?

I’ll hold my hands up here. I can be as guilty of this as the next person.

I am not standing in judgement here by any means. Maintaining friendships takes work on both sides of the relationship.

In this frantic 21st Century world we live in, there are countless ways to keep in touch with friends and family. Stop and think for a moment how many different ways you can contact someone if you choose to.

Maybe in days gone by we were actually better at being friends to one another. In the past, pre-mobile phones, pre-internet and pre-social media, we picked up the phone (dragged it into another room till the curly wire was straight) and spoke to our friends. We met up more often to socialise in person. We wrote letters and sent them in an envelope with a stamp on it via the mail.

How many friendships survive these days on social media posts and text messages alone?

Yeah, I’m as guilty of that as the next person too.

Social media posts and text messages can mask so many things though. It’s so easy to create a false impression in our digitised world.

How many times have you posted something cheerful to your social media when you’ve really been miserable inside?

How many times have you replied to a message saying all is well and added a smiling emoji to reinforce the lie?

Yeah, I’m guilty of that one too.

If we met those friends face to face or spoke to them and actually heard their voices, would we pick up on the subtle signs that something might be amiss? If we spotted the signs, would we reach out to help them through whatever was troubling them?

I’ll leave that thought with you….. there’s no need to answer it.

About six weeks ago, I sat down to undertake the annual task of writing my Christmas cards to friends and family. Over the years, my friends have become scattered all over the globe. As I wrote one particular card, the thought crossed my mind that I hadn’t heard from that friend in a while. Neatly written (who am I kidding? My handwriting is a scrawling mess!) I sealed the card and added it to the pile to be posted.

Now, six weeks down the line, I don’t know if that card ever reached the address on the front of the envelope. I don’t know if it was ever opened by the addressee. I don’t know if it arrived too late.

My heart tells me it was never opened. 

As the quote says “Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them but you know they’re there.”

My post-script to that quote would be “Let the stars of your friendship shine bright and be filled with the love of light and the twinkling sound of laughter.”

 

2019 ….and the goal is…..

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And in the blink of an eye 2018 has been and gone. Can’t say I’m sorry to see it go.

At the start of last year, I set myself three goals.  Here’s a reminder of what they were

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/2018-so-whats-the-plan/

Did I meet them all?

Yes I did 😊

OK, Book Baby 4 was launched a little later than planned. Ellen was finally launched on 1st September and quickly found her feet, earning herself five-star reviews on Amazon and Good Reads…whew!

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I brought Jake and Lori back to out to play as promised. On 8th May 2018, exactly five years after I sat down to write the story that became Book Baby 1, I sat down once more on my front doorstep and began to write Book Baby 5. Writing about all things Silver Lake has been like being reunited with old friends.

 

My third goal from last year was to blog once a week. Guess what…. I’ve met that goal too.

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Go me!!  LOL

So, what creative goals will I set for 2019?

Well, I feel it’s time to cut myself a little creative slack so I’m going to keep it really simple.

My 2019 goal is simply to finish and publish Book Baby 5 in 2019. The first draft is about 40% of the way there but it’s a VERY rough first draft in places!

What’s that saying? …. your first draft is like shovelling sand into the sandbox. You can build sandcastles later ….. or something like that. I’m still shovelling like crazy!

It goes without saying that I’ll continue with my weekly blog posts and who knows, everyone’s favourite dark angel may make an occasional appearance. (I have a longer term plan for those stories but I don’t want to say too much just yet.)

If you read my Christmas Eve short story then you will already have met two new rock star characters. I have the beginning of an idea for them too. (That may need to be in the five year plan!)

I’d like to thank each and every one of YOU  for your ongoing love and support. It makes the creative journey so much easier knowing that you guys are there.

What are your goals for 2019? Feel free to share the details in the comments box below.

If your own goals include “read more books” I can think of four to get you started…. Hint hint…

Regardless of what your personal goals are for the coming year, I’d like to wish you health wealth and happiness to pursue them. Remember “Dreams get you started. Discipline keeps you going.”

Love n hugs

Coral  xx

 

 

And if you want to catch up on your reading….

 

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

 

Ellen – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FYHKR44

 

 

 

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

 

Ellen – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FYHKR44