Tag Archives: #amwriting

Sunflower Art Therapy Session

Sunflower quote

I had last week off on annual leave from the day job at the salt mine.

What to do? Where to go?  The answer to the second question was not very far due to the current lockdown restrictions.

So, faced with the first question, I opted to put my week to creative good use. Well, Book Baby 6 isn’t going to write itself, is it?

First though I needed to-declutter my mind from all thoughts of “work”. What better way to do that than to spend an hour or two on a different creative pastime – colouring in.

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One of the things I’ve loved most about the long drives I’ve taken with family, while visiting the USA, was  watching the endless fields of sunflowers pass by as we drove down the highway so, when I stumbled across this design, I knew it was perfect to get me in the mood for focussing on Book Baby 6.

It worked 🙂

The sun shone all week allowing me to indulge in some al fresco creative writing (and some sunbathing.) Oh Happy Days!

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By the end of the week, I had written around 10 000 words and turned a corner with the storyline. There’s a long way to go yet but I’m now one notebook nearer the end.

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(credits to the owner of the sunflower quote- sourced via Google)

 

Fancy a good book with that coffee and cake?…..

Last weekend a message dropped into my FB Author Page inviting me to take part in a “Donated by the Author” community book exchange offered by an independently run coffee shop.

As an indie author, I was instantly intrigued. Well, who can afford to dismiss opportunities to get their book in the hands of a reader?

Over the next day or so I exchanged messages with the owner, took a trip to the local post office and by Monday a copy of Ellen was winging it’s way to join in the exchange programme.

Two things I love are reading and coffee so the thought that these could be combined in a one stop shop was music to my ears!

So, where is this wonderful haven? It’s The Gingerbread Tea House in Widnes, Cheshire, England.

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Being of a curious nature I wanted to know more about and also to show my support for this venture.

So, without further ado, allow me to introduce coffee shop owner and aspiring author, Nicola Duty.

Thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions for me, Nicola. So, can you tell me a bit about the history of The Gingerbread Tea House? (I love the name)

NWhen my kids were little I always used to love baking with them. One of their favourite things to make were Gingerbread. 

When I decided to leave teaching and open my own business, The Gingerbread Tea House seemed fitting for our family business. 

I opened the cafe a little over two years ago. Partly because my husband and I were fed up of being unable to find quality food when out and about. I wanted to offer quality food prepared fresh to order, that’s what we do! It’s difficult at times, especially when it’s busy and I have lots of different orders at the same time, but I love it. 

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What inspired you to offer a book exchange to your customers?

NI’ve always had a passion for reading myself. I love the way you can escape into another world, how you can engage with the characters and be taken on a journey along with them. 

When I was teaching I found that far too many students had no interest in books or reading. The quality of students work suffered as a result. I felt that it was important to do something to help. I had a little space so I decided to use it to start the book exchange. 

Do you cater for children’s books as well as adult books?

NWe have books for readers of all ages, including children.

Tell me about the Donated By An Author piece? Do they just go into the “library” to be swapped around?

NThe “Donated by the Author” section of the book exchange is new, but the expectation is that books will be taken away just like any other book. I have asked authors donating books to make a note on the inside cover stating that they donated the book to us and asking the reader to pass the book on once they’ve finished with it. That could mean returning it to the book exchange or passing it on to a friend or relative. The idea is to get people reading and also get the authors noticed. For authors donating books I create a Facebook post including an image of their book and a profile. 

(Oops…. I might not have added that commentary inside the copy of Ellen I popped in the post. Sorry!)

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You mention in the bio on Facebook that you’re also a writer. What genres do you write?

NI’m more of an aspiring writer. I used to write plays for the kids in my street when I was growing up. In adulthood I’ve tried my hand a few times, but work and commitments and various distractions I never actually finished anything. I am near the end of a project at now. It needs editing and tidying up, but it’s almost there and I feel quite proud of it. 

As for genre, I’d say it’s kind of a mystery.  I already have the idea for my next book, but I don’t want to start it until I’ve finished this one. 

Have you published anything or do you have a blog to share your work ( As an aside, if you have any short stories or poems you’d like me to share via my blog I’d be happy to lend my support. I’ve done the same for a few folk who are just starting out.)

NI haven’t published anything to date, but “Chasing Butterflies” should be finished later this year. 

Hmm… butterflies…another of my favourite things. Consider me intrigued, Nicola!

Who are your favourite authors? Slightly cruel question, I know.

NOh so many! Jane Austin, Patricia Cornwell, Stephen King, I was obsessed with Dean Koontz for a while too. 

Which authors are proving to be the most popular in the Gingerbread Tea House?

N-To be honest it’s difficult to tell which authors are most popular. The books normally come and go while I’m busy in the kitchen! John Grisham seems to be fairly popular. 

Would you consider running a book club in the café where your customers could meet once a month to talk about a particular book? (Just a thought)

NI actually tried to start a writers’ group at the cafe, but sadly those interested couldn’t all come at the same time. It may be something that we look at in the future. 

What’s the most rewarding aspect of running The Gingerbread Tea House?

 NMost of my customers are regulars and many have become friends. Making people smile and providing good quality food is the most rewarding aspect by far.

Now, for a bit of fun, can you tell me:-

1 your favourite food?

NA juicy, rare fillet steak with chunky chips, Asparagus, oven baked mushrooms and tomatoes.

2 your favourite holiday destination?

NI love holidays. I like to try to visit different places. I love Barcelona and Paris, but I also love Portugal.

3 your favourite song or band/artist (if that’s easier)?

NMy favourite song of all time is Creep by Radiohead. It was out when I was in my late teens. As a bit of a misfit it seemed to suit me perfectly. 

I also like Oasis, The Arctic Monkeys, Hudson Taylor, Kodeline and Jake Bugg. 

Thanks, Nicola. I wish you all the best with this venture and many hours of happy reading!

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I’d love to see this community book exchange in coffee shops take off across the country. It’s a quick and easy way to connect readers and the “Donated by the Author” is a great incentive for authors to connect with their readers.

Here’s a sample of the submissions received so far-

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Now, I think it’s time to get the kettle on then sit back and chill with a good book, don’t you?

 

If you want to learn more about The Gingerbread Tea House, check them out on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/TheGingerbreadTeaHouse/

 

A Brief Pause

comma nice

Well, the proof copy of Book Baby 5 aka Shattered Hearts has arrived!

Why is it, when you are happily writing your story that the humble comma slots in sweetly, doesn’t move, doesn’t give you attitude and appears almost innocent?

As its dictionary definition suggests, it is a mere “punctuation mark indicating a pause between parts of a sentence or separating items in a list ” but, the second it appears in print in a physical proof copy, it transforms into …..

comma evil

I swear these evil little critters have vanished or moved or hidden since I hit upload on that manuscript.

War has been declared!

Let battle – sorry proofreading – commence!

Deadline looming……..

typing

Furiously typing…… normal blog service will resume next week.

 

 

My Autobiography vol 1 circa 1982….

Asking a twelve year old to write their autobiography in hindsight seems a slightly bizarre project for an English class.

Stumbling across said autobiography some thirty-seven years later was equally bizarre!

Boy Child was tidying up the large walk-in cupboard in his room recently and found some of my old schoolwork. No idea how it got in there but can only presume my mother has evicted it from her house at some point and sent it home with me.

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As I re-read those handwritten pages (my handwriting was SO much neater in 1982!) I do actually recall writing some of it.

My English teacher during my first year in high school was a gentleman named Richard Coton. He was in fact the teacher who gave me the best piece of creative writing advice I’ve ever had and it’s stuck with me for all these years. He advised me to write about places I loved and knew well and topics that I was passionate about.

His words came back to me when I started writing the story that evolved into the Silver Lake series of books.

So, how much have I changed since my twelve year old self wrote the first volume of my autobiography?

(Don’t panic – I’ll spare you all of the details!)

There were ten parts to this autobiographical assignment.

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Let’s explore a few……

Babyhood – ok, please don’t laugh too much at the photo – and having read that section, one thing hasn’t improved over the years. I still don’t sleep great at night!

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Playing Cafes – I still clearly remember the game that inspired that section. In reality there were more “meals” served to my long-suffering cousin that night. To this day I’ve no idea how we avoided actually poisoning the poor boy! Happy memories of the summer of 1977…EEK!

The Kind Of Person I Am – well, I’ve grown a whole three inches since I wrote that! Ha Ha. I’m still an avid reader. The model horse collection still lives in the same old shoe box as it did in 1982 only now it resides on a shelf in my parents’ attic. One quote from this “chapter” stuck out.

So far you might have got the impression I’m out spoken. Well, in a way I am but at the same time I am a very nervous person. My mum says I worry about trivial things.”

Absolutely nothing has changed about that facet of my character. I over think my over thinking! (Blame the INFJ personality type)

The professional ambitions changed slightly. I remember wanting to say that the dream was to become an author but, as a class, we were advised to keep the piece factual/real. The two options I listed were lawyer or physiotherapist. Six years after I wrote that chapter, I went to college to start my physiotherapy degree but it wasn’t to be. Anatomy and Physiology and I have a very poor working relationship and I failed my first year. Maybe I should have written about chasing the dream – I have managed to achieve that!

There’s a map in the autobiography of where I lived at the time. That “slightly” inaccurate road map made me smile.

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In Years To Come – the final part of the assignment was to forecast the future. So how accurate were my predictions? In fact there are a few profound observations in there. One of them being

“One thing I’m certain of is that I will not be very far away from home.”

Currently, I live about 100m away from where home was in that map from 1982. In fact, the land my current home is built on was the field I played in as a little girl. Roughly on the red dot

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I ended the last section by saying

“Well, I plan on a busy life. On the whole, I don’t think I will change too much over the next five or six years.”

Life is busy and I don’t think I’ve really changed that much over the past thirty-seven years.

So, how did I do on this homework assignment?

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Maybe some day I’ll write a second volume ………

 

 

It’s all about the date …… and a little itty bitty announcement

So, a year ago today I put pen to paper and began to write Book 4 in the Silver Lake series.

I blogged about it…. in fact, I had intended to blog about 8th May being the sixth anniversary of putting pen to paper blah blah blah blah but realised I did that last year.

Missed it?

Here you go, you can catch up here: –

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/whats-in-a-date-quite-a-lot-actually/

In the year since I posted that blog, I’ve been busy…very busy. I finished the writing and editing for Book Baby 4 aka Ellen and successfully self- published it via Amazon’s KDP, albeit slightly later in the year than planned. I’ve worked steadily on Book Baby 5 and, a year down the line, its still not fully written but I am on track (just!) and the proofreading process has recently commenced. Cue my nerves being shot to hell even more so than usual! Yes, the old fear of letting people read what I write has returned with a vengeance.

So, having discovered that I’d already posted the blog I intended for this week I have been left with a bit of a dilemma….. how to mark this creative Silver Lake anniversary?

It feels wrong to let it slip by without doing or saying something.

I’m going to take a leap of faith here. (Those of you who know me personally will realise just how big a leap this is shortly.)

I’m very superstitious about not naming my Book Babies until their first draft is more or less complete. I may have their title in mind but I tend to keep it under wraps almost for as long as I can for fear of destroying the magic of the creative process.

However, Book Baby 5 aka Book 4 in the Silver Lake series has proved to be a little different.

Its title came first before I’d even put pen to paper. That has never happened before!

So, to mark six years to the day of the evening I sat down in the sun with my notepad and pen and began this incredible creative journey, I’m going to share that title with you.

The cover reveal (yeah, that’s kind of almost done too) and the publication date (yeah, I have one of those in mind too and it is another date that is special to me) are a way off so please don’t get too excited here.

Drum roll please, Paul……..

The title of Book Baby 5 aka Book 4 in the Silver Lake series is………

title reveal 

Watch this space…….

 

 

If you’ve missed the start of the series, you can download the books or purchase paperback copies from Amazon

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

 

and if you missed Ellen –

Amazon.com link

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

Amazon.co.uk link

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

 

 

 

 

 

What happens when you put on the Out of Office for a week… a sunny week ;)

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With my “out of office” on at the salt mine, I left work full of great creative intentions…..

I had my “To Do” list written :

blog – write and post

Book Baby 5 -write some more; type  10 0000 words

Book Babies 1-4 – promote

Gig review – write and post

 

It didn’t seem like an onerous list then the sun came out…….

I got off to a good start…..20190419_134140

 

then I got distracted……

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I tried to re-focus with some art therapy….

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and I picked up where I’d left off with Book Baby 5…

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then may have got distracted again…..

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and met some new friends….

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The week was fast disappearing…… I sat down again with Book Baby 5….

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On Friday I allowed myself a mother/daughter day out with my mum….we had a date with a dinosaur 😉

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And by the time I got home from mother/daughter day out, it was after 5pm on Friday and technically my “out of office” had expired….. my week was over…..

But did I manage to tick off all the items on the To Do list?

Yes I did 🙂

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Maybe I should be allowed to put the “out of office” on more often!

This “proper/improper” author is celebrating some book baby birthdays….

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A few weeks ago, someone, who for their own safety should remain nameless, suggested that I wasn’t a “proper” author.
Biting my tongue at the time, I felt a red mist of anger swirl in around me.
Define a “proper” author?
Apparently, I was duly informed by this nameless soul, its an author who has a publisher.
I have a publisher. It’s KDP.
The exchange  hasn’t rested easy with me then I noticed the date that was approaching and smiled – 15th April.
Today marks the fourth birthday of my KDP published debut contemporary romance novel, Stronger Within.
Today also marks the second birthday of my third KDP published contemporary romance novel, Bonded Souls.

150418 birthday

Proper or improper author, seeing my name on the cover of a “real” book truly was a dream come true moment that will live with me forever.
Almost six years have passed since I began this creative journey. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you know the story. For those newer followers, I literally sat down on my front doorstep in the early evening sunshine on 8th May 2013 and began to write a story. I began to write just for me. I began to chase down that dream come true moment.
So far there have been four book baby dream come true moments (births). Each one has been special. Each one has been unique.
While three of the books form part of the Silver Lake series, they are all individual book babies who came with their own challenges. Like all children that we give birth to, they are related but different and each one is precious to me.
Book Baby 5 is still a work in progress and this is proving to be a bit of a “bumpy” creative pregnancy however I’m still on track…. more or less…. for a 2019 Book Baby birth.
The last six years have been incredible from a creative perspective. It’s been a steep learning curve and a hell of a lot of hard work and I don’t regret a second of it.
I’ve blogged about Stronger Within’s birth and Bonded Souls’ arrival into the world before. What? You missed those blogs? Don’t worry, here’s the links –

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/stronger-within-the-dreams-come-true/

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/book-baby-motherhood-the-toddler-phase/

So, after four years as a published author, have I overcome the fears I mention in those previous blogs? No! Have I reconnected again with Silver Lake characters? Yes! Have I stopped blushing whenever I receive a compliment about the books? No!
This hasn’t been a journey I’ve tackled alone. There are a small group of wonderful friends who provide the love and support, the alpha and beta reader duties and who help to keep me motivated when the demons of self-doubt creep in. You guys know who you are and I love each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. Couldn’t have come so far along this crazy creative road without you.
I describe myself as an indie author.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m proud to be a part of the indie author community. I’m proud of my book babies. I’m beyond proud of their Amazon and Good Reads ratings. Who would ever have thought that I’d earn 5* reviews for a book I’d written? I’m proud of the fact I’ve earned royalties every month. OK, most months the payment wouldn’t cover the cost of a cup of coffee but I’ve earned something from my writing.
So, am I a proper author?…… I’ll let you decide.

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To celebrate being  Book Baby Mummy to two books celebrating their birthdays today, they are both FREE  to download to Kindle for the day.
If you’ve not met Jake and Lori yet, not is your chance.
If you’re a Silver Lake fan, then thank you for your love and  support. There will be news about Book Baby 5 soon. Book four in the Silver Lake series is coming…..promise!
Happy reading! 😊
Amazon.com links –
Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VXDSC1M
Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSQHG71

Amazon.co.uk links –
Stronger Within – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00VXDSC1M
Bonded Souls – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XSQHG71

some images sourced from Google – credits to the owners

Social Media and the Voyage of Self-Discovery

Like many other writers and bloggers when the creative juices fail to flow smoothly, I find the internet is a great place to procrastinate.
I’m sure many of us who should be putting our precious time to good use can be found lurking within social media apps like Facebook.
Perhaps we even try to convince ourselves its actually research.
I’ll confess to meandering through Facebook on the odd occasion… coughs … ok .. regular basis.
I’ll also confess to playing some of the “self-discovery” games to be found on there.
You know the one s- “5 signs you are keeper based on your profile picture,” “What will you look like at 70 based on your profile picture.”
These entertain me.
My personal Facebook profile picture for the past few years has always been a photo of my Converse clad feet. What on earth can you determine from that?

FB game profile

Quite a lot apparently!
Here’s some recent discoveries……

Some of these are scarily accurate! I’ll let you work out which ones 😉

 

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This one was reassuring though 😊

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Enough procrastination- I’ve a book to finish writing!

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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