Tag Archives: #amblogging

It doesn’t matter how old they get or how tall they grow…treasure every moment

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When you have children, people often say to you to make the most of the time you have with them when they’re small.

Repeatedly, you’re advised to treasure every moment; treasure every memory; treasure every hug as they grow up way too fast.

Maybe I’m getting a bit sentimental in my old age (who’s old? Not me!) or perhaps it’s the fact that Boy Child is in the last few months of his teenage years or the fact that Girl Child is on the brink of leaving high school but I’ve bene reflecting on things a lot recently. (Lord, maybe I am getting old!)

I’m by no stretch of the imagination a natural mother. I’m not a particularly conventional mother. I’m not even convinced I’ve been a good mother but they’ve both made it this far – whew!- and have grown into sensible young adults – well, most of the time.

I don’t think it matters how old they get or how tall they grow, Boy Child and Girl Child are still my babies.

I’ve watched them take their first tentative steps as toddlers. I’ve waved them off to school. I’ve made endless packed lunches. I’ve sat through countless dance shows, school shows, musical performances. I’ve been to dozens of parent/teacher evenings.

I’ve jumped in waves in the ocean with them. I’ve built sandcastles on the beach with them.

I’ve dragged them through numerous museums – they’ll thank me for it one day.

I’ve introduced them to my favourite foods, favourite films and books.

I’ve introduced them my eclectic taste in music.

But, possibly most important of all here is that I’ve let them make their own minds up about things.

We don’t always enjoy the same meals. We don’t always agree on which film to watch and they both disregard my thoughts on books. (I’ll be honest, that one winds me up a bit.)

As for music, Girl Child is still developing her preferences having journeyed through EMO, Swedish death metal to cheesy pop and, for now, a more indie band sound. Her tastes are more catholic than mine but we occasionally agree on a band or song.  Boy Child too has developed his own tastes and preferences but it’s safe to say we share a lot more common ground.

This was brought home to me earlier this week when I realised that with regards to music we’d come full circle.

Almost six years ago, accompanied by two of my friends, we went to see Iron Maiden at the SECC in Glasgow. It was the first gig he’d been to where we were in the standing arena. The mother in me was anxious to protect her baby boy in this crowd of thousands of rock and metal fans. I stayed close to him all night as we enjoyed the show together.  My friend even commented over coffee the following day how cute it had looked to see us both together, horns up.

Earlier this week, Boy Child and I went back to see Iron Maiden. This time they were  playing in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, next door to the previous venue. When we arrived about a hour before doors open, we detoured into the SECC to use the facilities and Boy Child commented that he hadn’t been there since the previous Maiden show.

As we stood in the queue, basking in the warm early evening sunshine, outside the Hydro, we counted up how many shows we’d been to together over the years. Twenty six, including the one we were heading in to.

A couple of hours later, as we stood side by side in the crowd watching the support band, Shinedown (love those guys), I stole a glance up at him. My baby boy was still standing beside me, smiling and singing, horns up. I smiled.

An hour or so after that moment, as we were being pushed and jostled and barged about in the midst of the mayhem at the front of the crowd, I realised the roles had reversed. We had come full circle. My Boy Child was protecting me, keeping me close to him and regularly checking that I was OK. My heart melted.

The childhood memories you make with your children are to be treasured.

The ones you make with them when they’re young adults are equally precious.

Treasure them all.

And, yes, we were both still standing together, six years down the line, horns up!

Mother Nature’s Prayer Flags

As is my usual want, I was out for my lunchtime stroll earlier, following my preferred, well-trodden path. It struck me as I wandered along, eyes peeled for photo opportunities that my lunchtime walk has become almost ritualistic. I walk the same circle, in the same direction more than 95% of the time. It’s a path I’ve walked hail, rain or shine – or, in the case of Scottish weather, all three elements in the course of one walk!

My mind has a tendency to meander  while I’m walking and it occurred to me that my “ritualistic” route reminded me of a chapter in a book I read recently. The book, an autobiography of sorts, talked about walking round and round a “stupa” in the mountains of the Himalayas to meditative effect. The writer made reference to the multi-coloured prayer flags fluttering in the breeze above and around her.

This set me thinking…..

For those who don’t know, a “stupa” is a mound-like, hemispherical structure containing important Buddhist relics (remains of long deceased monks and the like). The word comes from the Sanskrit word literally meaning “heap”. Buddhists use these as places of meditation, often walking round and round the same loop for hours on end.

Now, I’m not about to launch into a diatribe about Buddhism or the architectural differences of the various “stupa” to be found.

stupa

The book in question made me visualise a simple structure, quite plain in design. A “stupa” surrounded my prayer flags.

Prayer flags are not necessarily symbolising religious prayers offered up to God. They are traditionally used to promote peace, wisdom, compassion and strength. Tibetans believe that by flying their prayer flags in the wind their prayers and mantras will be spread across the surrounding area.

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There are five colours of flag that are traditionally flown in a specific order.

Blue – representing sky or space.

White – representing air or clouds

Red – representing fire

Green- representing water

Yellow- representing the earth.

As I meandered along my own meditative path, I was conscious of the colours about me. Sub-consciously, I began to seek out the prayer flag colours along my route.

Now there wasn’t a flag in sight but Mother Nature was flying her own colourful flags in the bright, Spring sunshine. There was a stiff breeze blowing down the river beside me so Mother Nature’s “prayer flags” were certainly fluttering and spreading their mantras for miles.

Here, take a look.

Blue

Prayer flag 1

White

prayer flag 5

Red (ok, its a bit pink)

Prayer flag 2

Green

prayer flag 4

Yellow

prayer flag 3

Namaste

(stupa image and prayer flag image sourced via Google- credits to the owners)

 

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

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.

cloaked-woman

(image sourced via Google- credits to the owner)

Party Planning In Progress…consider yourself invited

Book launch party planning collage

Sorry, no “proper” blog post this week. I’m up to my eyes in “virtual” party planning.

Want to come along? Of course! Here’s your invite –

https://www.facebook.com/events/343434086053775/

Can’t make it? Oh that’s a shame!

However, if you live in the UK, you could enter my Good Reads giveaway and be in with the chance of winning a signed copy of Bonded Souls and some Silver Lake goodies.

Here’s the link –

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/229684-bonded-souls

 

Must dash…

Normal service will resume shortly! 🙂