Tag Archives: #amwriting

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…….

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(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

 

 

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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)

 

 

January……

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January – the first month of the year when you are supposed to feel motivated and energised to take on the challenges of the year to come.  Eh……maybe not!

January – cold dark month lasting at least 96 soul draining days…… I jest (slightly)

Did I feel motivated and ready to take on 2018 31 days ago? I thought so…..

In the spirit of honesty, I’ll confess to having struggled with my own  creative motivation   this month. The stresses and strains of every day life may have been a contributory factor or I may just be making excuses…who knows! We are now at the end of January and I’ve not met the goals I had in my head at the turn of the year and I’m mad at myself.

As part of the “day job” in the “salt mine” I’ve been delivering coaching sessions to my team to encourage them to think about what motivates them in a work sense and to think about what areas they wish to develop themselves in. I’ve now delivered the same session, tweaked to the individual, fourteen times.  It struck me earlier that I needed to deliver it one more time. I needed to deliver it to myself!

I’ll not bore you with the ins and outs of it all but the focus of the coaching was a motivational triangle. The three sides represent Clear, Capable and Motivated. Is it Clear what’s expected of you? Are you Capable of meeting these expectations/goals? Are you Motivated to succeed?

I paused for some self-reflection as I went for my lunchtime meander in the cold. A bit of soul-searching.

And the result……

Clear – YES I am clear of the expectation /goal I have set myself. I need to finish the first draft of book baby 4.

Capable – YES I am capable of achieving this. I need to remain focussed and not “waste” the time deviating off at a tangent and writing other pieces.

Motivated – YES I will finish this! I have invested too much time in the project to abandon it at the last gasp. It is so close to being finished in reality.

So, without further ado…. I have a book to finish! ….. Goodbye January. Hello February!

A Little Excerpt From Book Baby 4.

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GULP….. time to share a little tiny piece of Book Baby 4 with you all.  It’s still a work in progress but I thought I’d share a little excerpt with you….just to tease you.

For me this is more than a little nerve wracking. Not even my “infamous five” alpha readers have seen this yet!

Book Baby 4 still doesn’t have a title but features a band that those of you who have read Impossible Depths and Bonded Souls will be familiar with. It’s working title is AL – After Life.

Here’s just a little sneak peek into the After Life story. Enjoy!

After Life’s usual rehearsal hall was in the basement of a former church. The church above  had closed its doors a few years before due to dwindling numbers of worshippers. When Ellen and Taylor arrived with Rocky next day, they found that they weren’t the first to arrive, despite being deliberately early. Cal and Luke were already practicing.

“Morning, boys,” called out Rocky loudly. “No Jack?”

“He’s gone over to the music store to pick up some drum heads,” answered Cal. “He split two earlier. None left in the trunk.”

“Two?” echoed Rocky, shaking his head. “That boy’ll bankrupt us all at the rate he goes through them.”

Casually Ellen slipped off her leather jacket and laid it over the back of a nearby chair. As she crossed the room to join the band on the low makeshift stage, she was aware that all eyes were on her. Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves, she asked, “What’s the plan?”

“To rehearse,” stated Luke tersely. “And to see if you can deliver the fucking goods, princess.”

“Luke,” growled Taylor as he lifted his guitar from its case. “Cut it out.”

With a sneer, Luke bowed his head slightly, “Humble apologies, Miss Lloyd. Ladies choice.”

Before she could reply, the door creaked open and Jack returned carrying a bag with his new drum heads in it.

“Sorry, people,” he apologised. “Are you all waiting for me?”

“Yeah,” drawled Luke sourly. “And on Little Miss here deciding what we’re playing.”

“Kashmir,” stated Ellen with a calm confidence.

“Kashmir?” echoed the bass player unable to mask his surprise. “You mess this up and you’re history! Hear me?”

“Luke!” snapped Rocky. “Enough, young man! Give her a fair chance.”

“It’s fine, Rocky,” said Ellen, praying she sounded calmer than she felt. “Luke, I’ll make a deal with you. One error and I’m gone. One from you and the result’s the same. You go.”

Both Jack and Cal laughed before Cal commented, “You asked for that, mate.”

“Harrumph,” muttered Luke sulkily.

“Luke, that sounds fair enough to me,” said Rocky. “Especially considering the way you spoke to this young lady last night.”

“Fine,” he growled, inwardly seething at having been backed into a corner.

 

A few minutes later, Ellen stood centre stage with her trembling hand wrapped round the microphone. Taking a deep breath, she heard Jack and Luke begin the thundering drum and bass intro then Cal and Taylor came in on guitar. Precisely on cue, she began to sing, keeping her voice low and even with a hint of menace.

“Oh, let the sun beat down upon my face.”

Over the next eight minutes, she poured her heart and soul into the vocal. Channelling every last ounce of her inner strength, Ellen shut out all thoughts of Luke and the pressures on her, focusing instead on nailing every note however high or long. Beside her, Taylor was playing with a passion to rival her own, almost as if he were willing her through the iconic anthem with his own music. As she reached the final couple of lines, Ellen’s heart was pounding and her palm was sweaty.

“Let me take you there!”

Her voice rang out across the hall as the band finished off the song with a flourish. It didn’t escape her sharp attention that Luke fluffed a section just before the end. With a small smile, Ellen raised her eyebrows and stared at him through her tinted glasses.

“Fucking insane!” declared Cal enthusiastically. “Awesome voice, girl!”

“That was quite something,” agreed Jack from behind the drum kit.

Without looking at Ellen, Luke unplugged his bass, laid it down and stepped off stage. As he walked towards the door, he called back over his shoulder, “The bitch is in.”

 

Book Baby 4 coming Summer 2018  (I hope!)

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

 

 

 

Libby (a short story of childhood’s end)

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Sunrise was her favourite time of day. At sunrise there still hope that, with the start of a new day, Lucy would remember she was there.

On the far side of the bedroom, a muffled sound escaped from under the duvet as Lucy rolled over in bed. A teddy bear was shoved unceremoniously onto the floor as Lucy muttered, “At least Libby didn’t take up as much space in the bed.”

Libby’s heart skipped a beat. Lucy still remembered her. She was safe for another few days. She glanced down at her hands and feet, then curled up on the rocking chair and went back to watching the sun come up.

 

For ten years Libby had been Lucy’s closest confidante. They had played together day after day. They had gone to school together for seven years. They had holidayed together, first in Devon and Cornwall and then, as Lucy grew older, they had visited France, Spain, Portugal and America. She had liked travelling with Lucy. Everywhere Lucy went, Libby went too.

On the last trip to America, Libby had met another girl about her own age while she had waited at the bag drop at one of the many rollercoasters in the theme park. She had been surprised by the cynicism shown by her new acquaintance.

“It won’t last much longer. Trust me. Just you watch. You’ll grow apart real fast. It’ll end and losing…what was her name? Lucy? Losing her will kill you. Literally.”

 

Almost five months had passed since that Easter trip to Florida. At first, Libby has dismissed the American girl’s comments as nonsense. Forget her? Why would Lucy want to forget her? They’d been inseparable since Lucy was three years old. But, as the seasons moved from Spring to Summer, Libby began to pick up on subtle changes in her beloved Lucy. Some days she would leave for school without her. Other days she would arrive home late and barely have time for her between dinner and bedtime. Once she went away for the entire weekend and left Libby behind without a wave or a backwards glance.

At Lucy’s thirteenth birthday party, Libby had kept to the shadows and was hurt that Lucy barely spared her a thought all day. She even blew out the birthday candles without Libby by her side to share a wish!

“You’ll grow apart real fast. Losing her will kill you. Literally.”

The words began to haunt Libby day and night….

 

As August wound its way towards to September, Libby found herself excluded more and more by Lucy. For hours on end she would wait patiently for Lucy to remember she was there and to involve her in her day.

By the middle of the month, Libby began to panic. Once morning when she awoke early to watch the sun rise, she realised she was fading away. Her hands and feet were barely visible. Just before panic took over, she heard Lucy talking in her sleep and heard her mention her name. Instantly she felt whole again. Her hands and feet were there. Her black patent ballet pumps were shining in the early morning sunlight.

 

Unfortunately, this had only been the beginning of Libby’s torment.

 

As August ended, there had been no less than half a dozen similar fading episodes. The last one had really scared Libby. Her hands and arms had disappeared all the way up to her elbows; her feet and legs had vanished right up past her knees.

Lucy was forgetting her!

Lucy was growing up!

Yet again, the American’s words tore at Libby’s faithful heart, “Losing her will kill you. Literally.”

 

September marked a milestone for Lucy – she started high school. From the relative safety of the rocking chair under the window, Libby had watched as Lucy packed her new school bag and laid out her new school uniform.That night Lucy had gone to bed without wishing her goodnight. In the darkness, Libby had cried herself to sleep on the rocking chair.

 

Now, as she watched the teddy bear, always a favoured bedtime bear of Lucy’s, lying on the floor, Libby finally resigned herself to her fate. September had been filled with gaps in the relationship with Lucy and there had been almost daily episodes of fading out. For the past week, Libby had barely seen her hands and feet. Even her long pigtails had faded at the ends!

To save herself, Libby knew she had to take action. She realised that she could no longer rely on Lucy to remember she was there. Now that she had been fully restored to her old self, Libby decided that today was the day.

 

The week before a new family had moved into the house next door. From Lucy’s bedroom window, Libby had watched a little girl playing alone in the garden. Hiding behind the curtains, she had watched the little girl, Wendy, play on her swing and slide down her chute. Seeing her playing on her own for hours on end had tugged at Libby’s heart strings.

 

After Lucy left for school, Libby waited on the rocking chair until Lucy’s mum had come in and opened the window to let some air into the room.  

This was her chance!

A quick glance outside informed her that Wendy was already out playing in the garden with a bright red ball.

Carefully, Libby climbed up onto the window sill. With a last look round the bedroom, she balanced on the ledge for a moment, then carefully climbed down the trellis, trying not to damage Lucy’s dad’s Clematis.

As she crossed the garden, Libby began to panic anew. It was the first time she had been outside alone in over ten years. What if Wendy couldn’t see her? What if Wendy rejected her?

It was too late to go back now.

Slipping through a gap in the fence, Libby made her way into the garden next door. For a few minutes, she stayed in the shadow of the big, old, apple tree that dominated that corner of the garden. With a nervous smile, she watched Wendy play with the ball. The little girl was throwing it up and trying to catch it. Eventually she dropped it.

The ball rolled down the gentle slope and landed at Libby’s feet, nudging her black patent shoes.

“It’s now or never,” thought Libby, bending down to pick up the ball.

When she stood up again, Wendy was staring at her.

“I like your shiny shoes.”

“Hi. Thank you. I’m Libby,” said Libby, tossing the ball back to the little girl, who caught it safely in her arms.

“HI. I’m Wendy,” came the shy reply. “Want to play?”

“I’d love to!” declared Libby with a smile.

“Daddy’s going to build me a tree house in that tree,” explained Wendy as they walked back up the slope. “It can be our club house. Our special place. You can live up there when it’s done. It can be your fairy castle.”

“I can?”

“Of course you can! You can stay in my room till its builded but you’ll need to hide. Need to be a secret,” whispered Wendy seriously. “Mummy doesn’t want me to have imaginary friends. We can be secret princess friends forever though.”

“I’d like that,” said Libby as her heart turned a somersault of delight.

She was safe at last.

 

(image sourced via Google- credits to the owner)

Dying Is Easy -Coming Back Is When Things Get Tricky (flash fiction)

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Inspiration for these weekly blog posts comes from all angles and on occasion some unlikely thought processes.

But here we are at Wednesday ( I wrote this last night) and inspiration has yet to strike this week……drums fingers impatiently.

Part of me has been itching to write a piece of flash fiction but again the inspiration bank was shut tight.

  Hmmm…..time to Google  “writing prompts”.

The screen lit up before me with a multitude of ideas. I read through several screens worth then one finally caught my eye

“Dying is easy. Coming back is when things get tricky.”

I gave myself an hour to come up with something inspired by this statement.

Here’s the result:

 

Dying is easy -Coming back is when things get tricky

 

Everything around her was totally still and calm. As she sat at the picnic table staring out across the river, there wasn’t a ripple on the water. A sea of tranquillity.

Inside, she felt far from still or calm or tranquil. So much had happened over the past week. So much had changed. Her mind was racing with thoughts of the things she still needed to do but time was against her.

From the position of the sun and the length of the September shadows, she guessed it was around four o’clock. If that was the case, she had less than half an hour….. time was slipping through her fingers like grains of sand.

“Just one more goodbye to say,” she thought to herself as she turned to go.

The warmth of the autumn sun had brought people outdoors and she passed close to several couples as she made her way along the road. No one gave her a second glance as she walked by.

Silently, she wished she had her phone. At least if she had that with her she could check if she was going to be on time. Both of them were creatures of habit and she prayed that this was one of the days that they were in sync with each other. Part of her realised that it was unlikely considering how events had unfolded over the week but she had to try, had to hope.

Her energy reserves were dwindling. It had been a manic forty eight hours.

“So much to do, so little time,” she thought as she walked along in the sunshine.

When she reached the next grassy area, she was relieved to find both the benches were vacant. Ever conscious of the time, she decided to sacrifice a moment or two to take a seat. Around her, she could hear birds singing in the bushes and seabirds calling down on the shore. Resting wasn’t helping and she felt even more drained as she hauled herself to her feet one final time.

The next section of the road was in shadow and cooler. Up ahead, in a patch of sunlight, a flash of colour at the bend in the road caught her eye. As she reached the spot, she stopped. The area around the bent signpost was covered with floral tributes and mementos.

Rooted to the spot, she read over each of the cards nestled among the flowers; read the messages of farewell; read poems; read stories of shared memories; smiled at the photos cradled in amongst the flowers.

Who knew so many people cared?

Images flashed before her eyes. The silver 4×4 taking the corner too fast. The squeal of its brakes. The crunch as the vehicle struck. The screams as she was thrown forwards before being crushed against the pole.

Then nothing…..

Then the searing pain of separation as her soul tore itself free from the broken body.

Unseen, her soul had watched the scene unfold; watched an ambulance arrive, closely followed by two police cars. As the paramedics had worked on her badly injured body, her soul had slipped quietly into the ambulance, fearful of being left behind. She had watched over the body she had inhabited as they transported it to the local hospital, operated on it then waited in the corner, invisible to her family, as the hours ticked by in a small private ICU ward.

Almost forty eight hours ago, her broken body had surrendered it’s fight for life. Just as panic was about to set in, she had seen an old woman enter the room. No one else reacted to this new arrival.

“Come on , my dear,” coaxed the old woman gently. “Time to go.”

“Go where?” she had heard herself ask.

“Well. Some folks call it Heaven. Others think its Hell. I prefer to think of it as home.”

“But I can’t! I’ve not said goodbye to everyone. I need more time!”

“Your time has passed, my dear. Time to move on.”

“Please,” she had begged. “Just a few more hours. Let me see the people who mean the most to me one last time. My children. My family. My friends.”

The old woman faltered then shook her head, “Highly irregular but, if it helps you to settle in your new home, I’ll give you two days. Not a second more. Two days to the minute of your physical death.”

“Plenty of time.”

“Is it?” asked the old woman. “We’ll see.” She paused then continued, “When the time is up, I’ll come back for you. Be warned, you’ll start to weaken as the time passes. When I come back, you need to come with me. No more begging. No pleading. You just follow me.”

“I’ll come,” she heard herself promise.

 

As she stood reading the messages, she acknowledged that forty eight hours had been too short. It had broken her heart to see her family grief stricken, knowing she couldn’t reach out to comfort them. Only the cat had sensed that she was there. She had watched helplessly as friends arrived at the house to offer their condolences. Neighbours kindly delivered meals to the family as they too dropped by to express their sadness over their loss. It had touched her to see that so many people cared.

The flowers and messages spread in front of her reinforced that once and for all.

She knew her time was almost up but there was still that last goodbye to be said. Squinting into the sun, she looked along the pavement, praying that her instincts were correct. She thought she saw a movement in the distance, a familiar outline approaching at a steady pace.

Behind her, she heard a soft cough.

Before she turned round, she knew it was the old woman come to escort her home. With one last lingering glance into the sun, she waved and whispered, “Till later.”

Everything around her faded to nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifteen Weeks To Go…..gulp!

My lunchtime meanderings this week have brought home to me just how quickly this year is flying by!

It doesn’t see like any time at all since I was looking up at the trees that border the salt mine’s car park thinking, “Oh look! New wee shoots and leaves!” Today I walked past those same trees looking up and thinking, “Wow! I love these autumn colours!” (These particular trees put on a stunning display of autumn reds and golds every year.)

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This swift change of seasons (did we actually have summer?) has got me thinking….

Back at the start of the year, my first blog post of 2017 detailed some goals I’d set myself. (Here, see for yourself  https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/a-new-year-means-new-goals-and-a-fresh-chall )

Now, nine months later, how far have I got with these?

Upon reflection, and after a brief surge of panic about the fact that we are almost half way through September, I’m ok with where I’m at…I think.

Goal number one was to complete, edit and publish Book Baby 3. This was always the primary goal for 2017 and it has been safely ticked off the list. Book Baby 3, otherwise known as Bonded Souls, was let loose on the world on 15th April and, to date, no one has said my baby is ugly.  Bonded Souls is on Amazon sitting alongside it’s siblings, Stronger Within and Impossible Depths, and like them on Amazon.co.uk, is boasting five glittering stars. (It’s still waiting for it’s first rating on Amazon.com  … hint…hint)

Bonded Souls 6x9draft fv

I still find it totally surreal to see the three books. Complete dreams come true moment.

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Goal number two was to write the first draft of a new novel…GULP! A tall order.  Well, I still have fifteen weeks of 2017 left and, to be honest, I’m going to need every minute of them. Book Baby 4 – no, it’s not a Silver Lake tale – is somewhere between a half and two-thirds written but progress is slow. For a few weeks there, my new imaginary friends really didn’t want to play nice! Over the past couple of weeks, they have all been better behaved – thanks goodness- and I finally feel as though I might be getting somewhere. This first draft may be adding a whole new dimension to “rough” draft but with a bit of luck (and peace and quiet) I might just get it down on paper on time.

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I am now silently praying that time slows down so that my chances of finishing it before midnight on 31st Dec increase!

Wish me luck!

 

p.s.   for all you Silver Lakers, Jake and Lori keep interrupting my train of thought with Silver Lake ideas….book four in that series will happen!