Tag Archives: #amwriting

Dear Soulmate……..the final letter (short fiction)

dear

Hey you,

It’s been four days, four hours and forty five minutes since I said goodbye to you. It’s been two days and seven hours since your last message.

The silence is deafening.

Every time there’s a flashing green message notification on my phone, I hope vainly that it’ll be from you even though my head knows it can’t be.

The only solution here is to write you a letter that in another lifetime you might read….

The number of times we’ve said “in another lifetime.” Joked and fantasised about “in another lifetime.” Some jokes are a cruel twist of fate.

Another lifetime is what separates us. Some barriers can never be crossed.

We parted without a second thought to the future. We went our separate ways with a smile and a “have a fun afternoon.”

I almost reached out to you but as always thought, “No, another time.”

I guess “another time” is in “another lifetime” now.

I still hear your voice in my head. Still see your smile when I close my eyes.

My heart aches at the thought of never hearing or seeing them again.

No more early morning bad jokes. No more late night conversations. No more wee messages that just raise a smile.

The void lies before me empty and dark.

My mind twists itself into knots as it tries to reason out whether, if I ended this lifetime, would we find each other in the next one.

If I end this lifetime, will our souls be reunited in death? Or will I slip into that empty void and be without even my sweet memories of you?

****************************************************

 

It’s been four weeks, four days, four hours and forty five minutes since I said goodbye to you.

It’s been four weeks, two days and seven hours since you sent your last message.

It’s been three weeks, three days, six hours and ten minutes since I said my last farewell through a veil of tears.

I’ve had countless one sided conversations with you in my head. Conversations that will never be had in any lifetime.

I’ve been ready to share various memes and photos with you… the account’s still there. Still alive but who would ever see them…not you.

I’ve started to type “good morning” or “have a fun day” messages then discarded those too.

Already there have been a dozen things or more that I wanted to ask your opinion on…… wanted to hear you say I wasn’t crazy, that it made sense or would work out ok.

You’d have laughed at the music they played. Not representative of the you I loved and lost at all. Made me question who knew the real you…me or them?

As ever to the rest of the world I keep my thoughts to myself. Bury my grief deeply. Mask the pain with a painted-on smile. Carry on with an “I’m fine” if anyone asks.

I’m not ok. I’m very far from ok. I’m a mess. I’m dying inside a little more each day and you’re not here to save me.

The light went out in the world when you left it and I’m scared of the dark.

*****************************************************

It’s been four months, two weeks, four days, four hours and forty five minutes since I said goodbye to you.

It’s been four months, two weeks, two days and seven hours since you sent your last message.

And I’ve read it and read it and read it.

I’ve read them all over and over. We shared some bizarre thoughts. I miss that….

I’ve tried to be strong. Tried to move on.  Tried to celebrate life.

I’ve failed.

I’m done.

It’s time to search for you in that other lifetime.

Don’t you dare try to talk me out of this. I can still hear you in my head. The voice of reason itself.

It’s time. The blade’s new so it will cut deep and fast and clean. The heat of the hot water will wash away the pain.

It’s time to start that other lifetime. I just hope you’re waiting for me there….

——————————————–

She was found a few hours later by her husband. The folded up letter was gripped tightly in her lifeless hand, its content partly obliterated by the blood that had drained from her slashed wrists.

Hours later, he tried to read it, thinking it was a final letter to him. He struggled to decipher her handwriting but realised almost immediately that the flourishes hadn’t been penned to him….but who had she been writing to? He’d never know.

(image sourced from Google- credits to the owner)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silently Watching On Midsummer’s Night

dark angel

An act of indiscretion had confined the dark angel to her lonely mausoleum for almost six months. Several impulsive acts of indiscretion; several acts of abomination that had stunned the close knit village community into deep, dark mourning.

After her missed opportunity on All Hallows Eve, desperation and hunger had got the better of her judgement less than a week later. As the family community had gathered round a huge bonfire for the annual fireworks display to commemorate Guy Fawkes, she had swooped down, snatched a young woman from the edge of the crowd and disappeared soundlessly into the night with her. One bite was all it had taken to silence her victim. In the sanctuary of her mausoleum, she had drunk deeply from young woman’s blood, realising too late that her victim had been pregnant.  With the bangs from the fireworks echoing through the night sky, the dark angel had let out a howl of anguish. Even for her, this had been one kill too far. A breeding female should never be drunk from. One of the golden rules of her lonely existence.

From a distance, she had watched the village mourn the death of the young mother-to-be; had stood silently in the shadows observing the girl’s funeral, noting that her grief stricken husband held two small boys, twins, by the hand as the coffin was lowered into the earth.

Her carelessness had angered her. Her frustration had driven her to seek more human blood to rid herself of the taste of the young woman’s hormone filled nectar.

On Christmas morning, she had feasted on an old man in the graveyard who had come to pay his festive respects to his late wife. His blood had been watery and tainted with the prescribed medication that had kept him alive.

Less than a month later, she had swooped down on a lone mountain biker, who had been roaming the trails above the village. There had been an exotic taste to his thick fresh blood, hinting at origins from warmer climes than this God-forsaken Scottish village. Yet again, she had feasted on one of the small community. How was she to have known that he was the son of a popular businessman, destined for sporting greatness? What did it matter to her? His young, virile blood had tasted divine and finally quenched her thirst for a while. The taste of the forbidden young mother-to-be finally banished by the taste of his exotic elixir.

 

Summer was always a lean time for the angel. There just weren’t enough hours of darkness to allow her to hunt. Her three kills in four months had drawn too much attention to the local area, meaning she would have to hunt further afield but it was too light to travel unseen. The local media were spreading tales that the village was cursed.

Patiently, she had bided her time in the cool darkness of the abandoned mausoleum until hunger pangs had gripped her. The evil in her soul was craving more and more human blood to sustain her. Writhing in agony on the floor of the tomb, she had resisted for as long as she could before having no choice but to risk an early evening foray for sustenance.

Under the cover of a cloudy midsummer dusk, she had spread her magnificent, black wings and soared over the village, heading towards the hills behind. Relishing being outside once more, she soared high over the narrow road for almost an hour before spotting three adult deer on the edge of the forest.

Lightning fast, she swooped to the ground and had her fangs deep in the neck of one of the deer before her slender, leather clad feet had touched down in the bed of pine needles on the ground. As she drank deeply, savouring the gamey taste of the doe’s blood, her nostrils picked up another familiar scent, a heady, ferrous musk mixed with sweat. Listening closely, she heard it – the gentle rhythmic thud, thud, thud of a runner approaching.

 

Ever since his encounter with the dark winged apparition at Halloween, he’d avoided running through the village, preferring instead to pound the forestry trails in the hills behind the house. The spate of sudden, unexplained deaths in the community over the winter months had unnerved him, as it had many of his friends and neighbours. He’d avoided venturing out in the dark but, now that summer was here, he was loving the long, light, warm nights.

Feeling a little guilty at upping the pace, he’d dropped his running buddy half a mile back, enjoying the freedom to run at his own naturally quicker pace. Since he’d sped up, the midgies didn’t seem to be biting so much.  He could feel them in his spiky hair and his eyebrows. As he ran, he pondered how fast a midgie could fly.

He rounded a bend in the trail and stopped in his tracks. The hairs on the back of his neck were on end; the birds had stopped singing in the surrounding trees. Everything was silent. A dead deer lay in the middle of the path, it’s throat recently ripped open.

Behind him, he could hear his friend approaching; hear his heavy breathing as he gave it his all to catch up. He glanced back to see if he was in sight yet but the path was deserted.

Turning back towards the deer, he let out a gasp.

A dark winged female, with waist length raven black hair, stood between him and the carcass. Her piercing green eyes were boring into his very soul.

He stood frozen to the spot as she stepped towards him.

The purple tipped feathers of her wings rustled softly as she moved gracefully to stand at his shoulder. Unable to take his eyes off her striking, alabaster features, the runner noted the fresh blood at the corner of her mouth.

She reached out a long, slim hand with long, pointed, purple nails and traced her finger tip around the outline of the tattoo on his upper arm.

His heart was pounding out of his chest.

Closing his eyes, he felt her breath on his neck.

 

Thud. Thud. Thud.

 

“There you are!” gasped his running buddy. “You trying to kill me with that pace, mate?”

He opened his eyes. The dark angel was gone. The deer carcass had vanished. Turning to face his friend, he muttered, “Sorry. Just needed to stretch my legs for a bit.”

“Hey! You’re bleeding!” exclaimed his breathless friend. “You ok?”

“Bleeding?”

“Yeah. It’s running down your neck.”

Reaching up with a trembling hand, he felt the sweaty skin at the side of his neck. Sure enough, his fingertips came away covered in fresh blood.

“Shit. Must have caught a branch back there.”

“Must have been a thorny one. That looks like a puncture wound,” stated his friend. “Come on. Let’s get you home and get that cleaned up. It looks nasty.”

Together they set off at a leisurely pace along the trail towards the housing estate.

 

High up in the trees, the angel looked down on the scene. Thwarted again but at least this time she’d been able to savour a taste of a meal yet to be enjoyed. Running her tongue over her fangs, she sighed as she lingered over the final drop of his divine blood.

 

 (image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

The Soul Searcher II

With her heart pounding in her chest, she stared at the long-haired stranger in disbelief; with her heart racing, she felt herself flush scarlet as she noted how hot he looked.

Feigning anger, she drew herself up to her full height of five foot three and demanded, “What in the hell are you doing in my garden?”

“Enjoying the view,” he replied casually, noting her petite figure and the curve of her breasts. “And waiting for you.”

“You’re trespassing!”

“Technically, you are correct,” he agreed without showing any signs of moving from his reclined position on the bench. “Stunning view by the way, Anna.”

“How do you know my name?” she asked sharply, instantly feeling stupid. Of course, he knew her name! He had read into her soul back at the coffee shop. This stranger knew more about her than she was comfortable with.

He raised one dark eyebrow at her and smiled. Despite herself, she felt her heart skip a beat.

“You really need to learn to shield those thoughts, Miss Maitland,” he chastised warmly.

Staring awkwardly down at her feet, Anna confessed, “I don’t know how to.”

Getting gracefully to his feet, her uninvited guest said, “I can teach you. It’s easy once you know how. Now, you inadvertently mentioned a chicken casserole. It would be a shame for the wine to go to waste.”

“I don’t see any wine,” countered Anna, looking round for signs of a bottle.

Suddenly, she picked up on a thought from her guest and her eyes flew towards the beach. Sure enough, nestled between two small rocks, just covered by water, lay two bottles of wine.

“Two bottles? Are you trying to get me drunk?” she asked, the icy edge to her tone melting somewhat.

“Not at all. They were on offer. I can’t resist a good deal,” he said as he took a step towards her. “I’m Jarrod, by the way. Jarrod De La Cruz to be exact.”

“Fancy name.”

“Spanish ancestry,” he explained with another heart melting smile. “Now, can we talk over dinner?”

Silently, Anna surveyed him, sub-consciously probing his mind in an effort to determine if she was in danger.

“I won’t harm you,” promised Jarrod. “On my grandmother’s life, I won’t touch you.”

“Fine,” she relented, as her heart sang with joy. “Fetch the wine and come in.”

 

The kitchen of the small cottage was surprisingly spacious. It was one of Anna’s favourite rooms in the house, largely because of its picture window views over the beach towards the river beyond. A tantalising aroma of chicken casserole filled the air, adding to the warm homely feel to the room. While she waited on Jarrod bringing the wine up from the beach, Anna fetched two wine glasses from the glass fronted cabinet then turned to put two plates in the oven to warm. She had just set two places at the large pine table when Jarrod walked into the room.

“Sorry. I had to make a quick phone call,” he apologised. “Had to let the others know where I was.”

“Others? Those hairy guys from the coffee shop?”

“The very ones,” he said with a smile. “I told them I’d catch up with them tomorrow in Glasgow.”

Before she could reply, Jarrod added, “No, they’re not lying in wait to turn up here to rape and pillage you. Relax, Anna. They’re in an Indian restaurant in Paisley. And as for me, I’ve no intention of touching you.”

Her sixth sense caught the hint of the lie in that last sentence.

“So, what are your intentions, Mr De La Cruz?”

“Patience, Miss Maitland,” said Jarrod, opening the first bottle of wine and pouring two half glasses. “You might want to put the other bottle in your fridge or do I need to go back and put it in the river to chill some more?”

Obediently, Anna stowed the unopened bottle in her bare refrigerator then busied herself serving their meal.

“Delicious,” complimented Jarrod after the first few mouthfuls. “Now, how long have you searched souls untamed?”

“Pardon?”

“Your mind was wide open back there in the coffee shop. Shows lack of training. Who taught you how to read minds and search souls, Anna?”

There was a serious note to his voice that caught her by surprise.

“No one,” she answered honestly. “I’ve always been able to do it. When I was little, I thought everyone could do it.”

“You were born able to do it?” exclaimed Jarrod unable to mask his astonishment. “I thought there was something different to you. Tell me about it.”

It wasn’t so much a suggestion as a command and before she realised what she was doing, Anna had told her uninvited guest about the challenges of growing up, the torture of travelling to college on public transport as she was haunted by a cacophony of conversations, the mental cruelty of lectures where her mind followed every day dream of every inattentive student while she consciously tried to focus on the lecturer. She explained the immense relief and inner peace she had found when she bought the cottage and secured a job that she could do from the solitude of her own home. Understanding entirely, Jarrod nodded periodically as Anna told her tale.

“I feel your pain,” he sympathised warmly. “First lesson. How to shut out the noise.”

Anna stared at him open mouthed, “How?”

“It’s easy,” promised Jarrod. “Do you always wear that turquoise ring?”

Anna nodded.

“Focus on it. Focus on everything about it. The texture. The shape. The colour. The silver band. The silver setting around the stone,” instructed Jarrod. “Now, keep that focus but try to pick up my thoughts.”

For a few seconds Anna enjoyed blissful silence as she focussed on her mother’s turquoise ring. After about thirty seconds, she allowed her concentration to lift a little. Immediately, she could hear Jarrod musing about the colour of her underwear. Before she could shut him out again, he began to laugh.

“White lace works for me, Miss Maitland,” he teased as she flushed scarlet in front of him.

“That was cruel!” she protested with a smile. “Is it really that simple to shut the voices out though?”

“Yes,” assured Jarrod. “It takes practice to hold that degree of focus but you’ll soon get the hang of it.”

“Thank you.”

“Lesson two is just as important,” began Jarrod as he refilled their glasses. “You must learn to shield your own thoughts. Learn to preserve your soul from prying eyes.”

“I never suspected anyone was looking before today,” revealed Anna softly. “I didn’t know there were other people like me.”

“You’ve had a long, lonely journey, haven’t you?”

Anna nodded slowly.

“OK. Lesson two,” he stated. “You kind of need to cloak your mind. It’s another visualisation technique. This is harder. Takes more practice. There are a few ways to do it too so you need to experiment a bit.”

He paused to sip his wine.

“Imagine a thick, dense, fog then bring it down around you. Disappear into it. Lose yourself in it. Trust that nothing can penetrate it. Nothing can see you. Focus on it. Believe in it.”

Tentatively, Anna tried to imagine a foggy cloud around her. Her first few attempts were patchy and Jarrod easily managed to find a way into her mind.

Before she became too frustrated, he suggested an alternative, “Try visualising a mirror instead. The mirror side is pointing away from you. The mirror is reflecting everything away from you.”

Again, Anna experimented with the technique described only this time with greater success. It took Jarrod over five minutes to find a chink in her protection.

“Well done,” he praised as she finally let her shield shatter around her. “For a first attempt that was none too shabby. It’ll get easier with practice. Promise.”

“Thank you. I’ll work on it,” vowed Anna as she took a sip of her wine. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure, but I reserve the right not to answer.”

“What brought you here?”

“There’s an obvious answer in there, Miss Maitland, and its parked outside,” he teased, playing with her a bit. “Business and pleasure though is a more accurate answer.”

“And the business bit?” quizzed Anna, trying to learn more about her guest.

“Well, I can’t say too much. I’m looking for something.”

“And the pleasure?”

“Apart from having dinner with you?” he teased with a smile. “The pleasure’s getting to ride with the guys I was with earlier. We’re touring around but I need to leave them in a couple of days.”

Jarrod paused for a moment then decided to take a risk, “You could help me out here if I find what I’m looking for.”

“Me? How?”

“Look after it for a short while.”

Alarm bells rang in her overly cautious mind. What if this charismatic stranger was a drug dealer? What if this parcel she was being asked to look after was illegal?

“Calm down,” he said quietly. “And did you listen to anything I taught you earlier?”

“Sorry,” apologised Anna. “But, can you blame me, Jarrod? This has not been the most conventional meeting or evening.”

“I guess not,” he said with a sigh. “I’m working under cover. Hanging with the boys is my cover. They genuinely are my friends, before you ask. My investigations and probing around have been quite fruitful today. I’m pretty sure what I’m looking for will be on the last ferry tonight. I plan on being at the ferry terminal to collect it. However, I need somewhere to keep it safe for a couple of days.”

“Under cover for who?” quizzed Anna, sensing he was being honest with her.

“I can’t say,” apologised Jarrod. “It’s confidential. I need to be in Glasgow tomorrow to catch up with the boys. We’re heading to pick up the owner of the package. If you could guard it for two or three days till I get back it would save me a lot of trouble.”

“Is it too big to take on the bike with you?”

“Not exactly. More like too fragile.”

“And I definitely won’t get into trouble with the police? No thugs are going to turn up here trying to steal it?”

“I promise you it’s safe. No police. No thugs. No one.”

Against her better judgement, Anna felt herself nod.

“Miss Maitland, I think I love you!” declared Jarrod smiling at her.

At the sight of his smile and those dark brown eyes, the last of her reservations melted. Something, fate perhaps, had brought Jarrod into her life and Anna felt compelled to go along with his plans. Swiftly, he explained that he’d leave around eleven, meet the boat and be back by eleven thirty.

“Where will you stay tonight?” asked Anna, realising that locally his options at that time of night would be limited.

“I’ve a tent in my rucksack. I’ll camp outside, if that’s ok?”

“Nonsense,” she heard herself saying. “I’ve a comfortable couch. You are more than welcome to sleep on there.”

“Only if you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.”

 

Shortly before eleven, Jarrod rose to leave for the ferry terminal. While they had waited for the clock to tick round, he’d coached her on a few more basic ways to both use and shield their shared talent. When she had quizzed him on how he had developed the skill, Jarrod had explained that he’d developed the talent after a car crash when he was a teenager. The crash had killed his parents and left him in a coma for a week. When he’d come round, he discovered he could hear what everyone was thinking. With a catch in his voice, he’d confessed that’s how he had learned of his parents’ death. He’d read the mind of one of the nurses.

 

While he was gone, Anna cleared away the glasses and dinner dishes then ran upstairs to fetch a quilt and pillows from the airing cupboard. She left them neatly folded on the floor beside the couch, hoping that her guest would be warm enough overnight.

A short while later, Anna heard the distinctive roar of Jarrod’s motorbike, listened as it stopped outside then heard his footsteps on the path. He knocked at the back door before stepping into the warm welcoming kitchen.

In his arms, he was carrying a sleeping child.

A week of reflection….

Back at the end of Dec 2013 I set myself the challenge of posting one blog post each week. It’s a challenge I’ve risen to and, to date, I’ve posted something every week.

This week I’m struggling to find words to post that don’t trivialise the tragic events of the past few days.

Invariably when I seek solace I turn to music and lose myself in the lyrics.

So this week’s blog is song that I’ve sought solace in many times.

Some of you may take the time to play the video link below.

(credits to the owner – sourced from You Tube)

 

Some of you may prefer to read the lyrics  like a poem so I’ve added them below too.

Blackbird

The willow it weeps today
A breeze from the distance is calling your name
Unfurl your black wings and wait
Across the horizon it’s coming to sweep you away
It’s coming to sweep you away
Let the wind carry you home
Blackbird fly away
May you never be broken again
The fragile cannot endure
The wrecked and the jaded a place so impure
The static of this cruel world
Cause some birds to fly long before they’ve seen their day
Long before they’ve seen their day
Let the wind carry you home
Blackbird fly away
May you never be broken again
Beyond the suffering you’ve known
I hope you find your way
May you never be broken again
Ascend may you find no resistance
Know that you made such a difference
All you
Ascend may you find no resistance
Know that you made such a difference
All you leave behind will live to the end
The cycle of suffering goes on
But memories of you stay strong
Someday I too will fly and find you again
Let the wind carry you home
Blackbird fly away
May you never be broken again
Beyond the suffering you’ve known
I hope you find your way
May you never be broken again
May you never be broken again
Songwriters: Mark Tremonti / Myles Kennedy
Blackbird lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Learn from yesterday. Live for today. Hope for tomorrow.

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

Just-be-a-real-parent-quote-large

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!

Book Baby Motherhood – the toddler phase

20170311_073326

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….

bonded-souls-final-version12

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