Tag Archives: #blogging

If In Doubt……Pin It!

Reflecting back some thirty-five-ish years, the lapels of my school blazer were festooned with badges (most of them relating to the rock band Status Quo). Each badge meant something special to me at that moment in time. There were other pins present too among the music-related badges – an elephant, a ladybird and a bee. (I’m sure I still have them all in a box somewhere)

I guess I’ve always been drawn to personalise things.

I currently have two main “go to” handbags, both Kipling (Love those furry monkeys) that are gradually being personalised with the modern equivalent of my old high school blazer’s badges.

Lost Girl pins!

If memory serves me correct, it started with one pin that said “I need coffee” that I added to my “every day” bag above the Slash pin and then promptly lost the pin a few days later. I was gutted!

A friend coincidentally bought me a pin as part of gift and chose the same one. Happy days! I added it to my “not quite every day” bag then bought it an appropriate friend a week or two later “crazy cat lady” then added “dreamer” shortly after that.

The creator of these addictive little pins suggested she could make me some to help publicise my book babies…… and, in due course, the Silver Lake dragon pin was added to the straps of both bags. An “author” pin was also acquired and added to both.

Now, each time I visit the shop, I seem compelled to add another one and another but like those lapel badges of yesteryear each one is very personal to me.

Currently my “every day” bag says “Author”, “Dreamer”, “Introvert”, “Unique”, “not one fuck given today” and “wheesht”. They sum me up pretty succinctly. Ha ha.

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This addiction is hereditary. Girl Child has begun her own collection.

It’s the simple things in life that are a form of self-expression and these wee pins have a knack of saying it all. 

Want to start your own collection? Then visit:

   https://thepirateandbluebelle.com/product/lost-girl-pins/

 You’ll soon be addicted!

 

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Ask Me Anything….. some unanswered questions

08-01-Ask-Me-Anything

One of the things as an indie author that you have to develop is a thick skin for accepting feedback.  I have been incredibly fortunate to date that the feedback and reviews I have received for my book babies have been kind., very kind. No one has said my book babies are ugly!

Another thing that you have to be prepared to do when writing and promoting is to bare your soul…eek!

Promoting and marketing can be a costly business and my creative efforts are done on a shoestring budget so I am always looking for “free” ways to promote my books.

A few months ago I stumbled upon www.AMAfeed.com (AMA standing for Ask Me Anything)

Was I brave enough to risk it?

Yes!

So, a little apprehensively I’ll admit, I created my profile-

https://authorsama.amafeed.com/user/34486

Then I created my first AMA-

https://authorsama.amafeed.com/authorama-i-am-an-indie-author-and-have-self-published-three-rock-star-romance-471964

It ran smoothly enough and I wasn’t asked anything too revealing or controversial so I risked a second AMA-

https://authorsama.amafeed.com/authorsama-ask-me-anything-or-perhaps-answer-me-anything-about-how-best-to-490104

Again, this ran smoothly and was well supported.

So, in the run up to thinking about promoting Book Baby 4 and conscious that the summer holiday season is almost upon us, I ran a third hoping to generate some sales for the first three books in the Silver Lake series.

https://authorsama.amafeed.com/authorsama-ask-me-anything-about-the-silver-lake-series-of-rock-star-romance-501163

Again, it all ran painlessly and there were some really great questions posed.

Then along came a wee frustration….. I saw from the email alerts on my phone earlier today that there were new questions waiting to be answered. A short while ago I sat down to answer them……the AMA had ended and I was unable to submit the answers.

Me being me, I felt guilty that I hadn’t displayed courtesy to these followers and answered their question. So, in the interests of fairness, I’ll answer them here:

Did you know that you would one day become a writer?

No for many years it was a dream. Ever since I was little girl I’ve loved writing stories and the dream was always to see my name on the cover of a book one day. I seriously thought that that thought would remain a dream until three years ago when Stronger Within, the first book in the Silver Lake series, was published. Dreams do come true.

I’ve always written but I think now, three books in, I can finally believe I’m an indie author.

 How many hours did you work as a freelance copywriter to establish yourself and earn good money?

I didn’t and I don’t.  My “real job” is working for a bank. My writing is done in my own free time and at present isn’t earning me anywhere near enough to consider cutting back the hours I the day job. If you’re hoping to earn good money from writing you need to sell a heck of a lot of books daily!

How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?

A lot of plate spinning and juggling! I work full time, I am married with a family and have a home to run and I have a life to live! I guess it’s very careful time management, a lot of multi-tasking and self-discipline and precious little time wasted watching TV!

I try to get the balance right but you’d need to ask my family and friends to get a valid answer!

As a business coach, what is your best piece of advice for an entrepreneur that is struggling?

Don’t lose heart.

A close friend posted a quote on their Facebook newsfeed a long time ago that I’ve always tried to bear in mind, especially when the motivation is flagging a bit – “dreams get you started; discipline keeps you going.”

What’s the most romantic scene that you have written so far?

Love this question!

Ok- SPOILER ALERT– if you’ve not read Stronger Within this will potentially tarnish your enjoyment of it. You have been warned!

By romantic I’m thinking romance (hearts and flowers) not sex scenes.  Probably the hottest one of those is in Impossible Depth, book two in the series, and I’ll let you find it yourself! 😉

To answer the question though, I have a real soft spot for the scene at the end of Stronger Within where Jake proposes to Lori. Setting the scene at the school Christmas dance, adding a light covering of snow, some fairy lights and a slow dance just added to the romance of it all. No need for sex….just true love. Read the books though and judge for yourself.

 

Well, that’s the last unanswered question answered and my conscience is clear….unless do you want to Ask Me Anything?

 

 

 

and in the interests of book promotion, here’s the links to those:

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 

 

(image sourced via Google- credits to the owner0

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…….

20180508_18112220180508_18311320180508_18312320180508_183242

 

(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

 

 

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe…….

For the past few weeks there’s been a small bundle of clean laundry that hasn’t found a home each Sunday when I put the ironing away. It has sat on top of my chest of drawers patiently waiting….

I knew in my heart of hearts that the time had come…..again! In preparation, I invested in a plastic storage box, a bigger one than the last one I bought.

Last night another shirt was added to the pile….. Yes, you’ve guessed it – the drawer where I store my band T-shirts  was full…again!

As I opened it, and several made a bid to escape, I began to wonder how many I have actually bought in recent years? ( I don’t want to contemplate the amount of money I’ve spent on them!)

The question hung in the air as I emptied the drawer. I also retrieved the first small storage box from the wardrobe and decided to lay them all out on the bed.

After a few minutes I came to the conclusion that I need a bigger bed!

Tshirts2018

I’ll admit there are actually a couple missing – not too sure where they are hiding. Also, all my “old”  pre-children gig shirts are MIA. I suspect they may be safely stored in a holdall in Boy Child’s cupboard.

As I laid out each shirt, I smiled as I remembered the show or a specific moment in the show or the people I was that night.

Each and every one of them hold precious musical memories.

Sorting through them wasn’t easy. How do you decide which ones go in the box and which ones go back in the drawer?

It reminded me of the scene from Toy Story where Woody got “shelved.”

Tshirt collage 2018

Maybe I needed an extra set of drawers as well as a bigger bed? Common sense prevailed- rather than an emergency trip to IKEA, I sorted through them, leaving room in the larger of the two storage boxes to store more in future.

Tshirt boxed 2018

 

I also left space in the drawer for new additions….. well, 2018 is shaping up to be a great year for gigs! 😉

 

Oh, and if you were wondering, I counted 80 shirts give or take one or two (OK, I lost count!)

 

 

And Why’s He Still There, Mummy?…….

This story technically starts back on 18th March after I returned from my trip to Birmingham. Stupidly, I commented to my Moana-loving Girl Child that I’d seen a toy Hei Hei (the dopey chicken from the film) reduced in the Disney Store in the Bull Ring shopping centre. With a petted lip she asked why Hei Hei was still there. Calmly, I explained in my best mummy voice that Hei Hei wouldn’t have fitted in my overnight bag.

hei hei

She sulked….

 

Move forward in time to last Saturday. The Big Green Gummi Bear and I were preparing to leave for an overnight trip to Manchester and were saying our goodbyes to Girl Child and her Dotty Gran in Tesco’s café. Girl Child tried to pick her blue fluffy bunny up by the ear and the poor creature’s ear came off in her hand. Her wee face crumpled. She loves that blue fluffy bunny! I did wonder for a split second if she was about to cry. The Big Green Gummi bear swiftly snatched the ear from her little hand, declared it to be his “lucky bunny ear” for his race (yes, I know that it should be lucky rabbit’s foot) and stuffed it into his jacket pocket.

 

A couple of hours later and many miles down the motorway, we stopped at a service station in the Lake District for lunch. As is my want, we had a wander through the shop before getting back in the car. In the toy section, we found a display of over priced and overly fluffy toy chickens and birds and critters. The Big Green Gummi Bear quickly pulled the bunny ear from his pocket and posed it on top of one of pink fluffy chicken things, suggesting I take a photo and send it to Girl Child. I did.

20180409_190646

Her response a while later was “Hope you bought that.”

When I replied that we hadn’t, her immediate disappointment was expressed.

It was Hei Hei all over again….

The mummy in me knew we had to find one of those pink fluffy birds on the return journey or I’d never hear the end of this, especially so soon after not buying Hei Hei!

 On the way back north on Sunday afternoon we delayed our potty stop/coffee stop by 22 miles to reach the service station on the M6 where we hoped we stood the best chance of sourcing a pink fluffy chicken.

At Tebay services, we were in luck. They had one. He was duly purchased and carried unceremoniously by the legs out to the car. (Turns out it’s a female ostrich and not a chicken)

And so Not Hei Hei came to stay.

 

When we arrived home a couple of hours later, Girl Child was thrilled to meet Not Hei Hei and promptly sat at the dinner table with him beside her.

The blue fluffy bunny ear, which turned out to be quite a lucky bunny ear as the The Big Green Gummi Bear survived his marathon debut and ran a time he is content with, was returned to our baby girl.

With her big blue eyes wide and pleading, she asked me to fix her bunny.

So, for the first time in many years, I have just performed toy surgery and re-attached her blue bunny’s long floppy ear.

20180409_190356

 

Cue one happy Girl Child….. one 18year old happy Girl Child!

 

 

And the moral of this story is…. Never lose sight of your inner child 😉

20180409_190835

 

Silently Watching At Eostre – part eight

dark angel

Spring was perhaps the dark angel’s favourite time of year. There were plenty of young animals in the fields to provide easy succulent meals for her. If she was careful, she could disguise her lamb kills as dog attacks, easily diverting attention towards any number of local pets who were allowed to roam off their leads. While the fresh lamb’s blood was a delicacy, it didn’t satiate her hunger the way that human blood did.

Meals since the Winter Solstice had been lean. She had risked only one human kill. During a January gale, she had snatched an unsuspecting passenger from the deck of the ferry that traversed the river every hour.  Now, after months of rabbits, deer and, more recently, lambs, she was truly ravenous.

At this time of year, she preferred to seek young blood to rejuvenate her. It had crossed her mind many times over the years to snatch a child but, even in her transformed state, that was a moral step too far. When she had been reborn over two hundred years earlier, her creator had laid down three basic rules to survival.  

1 Never kill a child prior to it reaching sexual maturity

2 Never kill an expectant mother

3 Never drink from the bloodline of your creator. 

The first rule remained the only one unbroken. 

She ran her tongue over her broken fang and allowed her thoughts to linger on the runner. Oh, what she’d give to be able to savour that exotic, rich, ferrous blood of his! If she closed her eyes, she could see him in her mind’s eye and still taste him. Forbidden fruit indeed but what was she to do with him?

 

After a large family dinner to celebrate Easter and several stolen pieces of his children’s chocolate Easter eggs, he knew he needed to set off for a long run to burn off the calories. Time was marching on. Easter already! ..and he was  acutely aware that he hadn’t been following his desired training schedule. The Bank Holiday Monday offered the ideal opportunity to set out for a longer run. Not wanting to miss out on too much quality family time, he’d set his alarm early, leaving the house just before seven as the sun rose over the horizon.

With open countryside surrounding him and his favourite playlist playing in his ears, he ran at a respectable pace towards the local reservoirs. At such an early hour, he passed no one. Everywhere was still. The birds were singing in the hedgerows and trees. The water of the reservoirs was glassy still. It was an idyllic setting for his morning run.

After a few miles, something off to the left in one of the fields caught his eye. Several crows were gathered round it and, as he slowed his pace to focus his vision on it, he realised that it was two dead lambs, their throats freshly ripped out. Initially, he thought that they must have met their deaths at the fangs of a dog but, as he ran on, he wondered……

Subconsciously his hand went to his neck, touching the very spot where those deadly fangs had pierced his skin. He hadn’t allowed himself to think about the dark angel for a while. In fact, he’d gone out of his way to avoid her and avoided even driving through the village, opting instead whenever possible to take the narrow country road out onto the main dual carriageway. She fascinated him but terrified him at the same time. The thought that she still wanted to talk with him made his blood run cold. “Forbidden fruit,” she had said to him the last time their paths had crossed. He knew she intended to talk to him at some point but he wasn’t convinced it was a conversation he wanted to be party to.

 

Warm spring sunshine was bathing the still graveyard but the angel sat in the cool of the shadows, picking pieces of sinew from between her teeth with her long, pointed fingernails. Lamb for breakfast had been fine but she still craved human blood.

A familiar scent on the air caught her attention before she heard the rhythmic thud, thud, thud of the runner’s feet as he ran hard up the steep hill past the church. Soundlessly, she got to her feet, crossed the small cemetery and stepped out into the road at precisely the same moment that the runner reached the rusty gates at the entrance.

“Good morning, son of Perran,” she said with a smile.

“Hey,” he gasped breathlessly.

“Come,” she instructed, beckoning him to follow her into the cemetery. “Time to talk.”

“I don’t have much time,” he replied, desperately trying to think of something to stall her.

“You have sufficient time. Come!”

Obediently, he followed her up the stone steps then left along the gravel path towards a bench that remained in the shade.

“Sit,” she commanded bluntly as she herself sat carefully on the wooden bench, mindful of her majestic wings.

Choosing a spot as far along the seat from her as possible, he sat down.

“I need to tell you a story,” she began quietly. “No need to look so scared. You’re perfectly safe from me….well… for now.”

“I am?”

“Yes. We share the same bloodline,” revealed the angel, gazing into his dark eyes as if searching for his very soul. “If I were to try to drink from you, I’d die within a few hours. One of the golden rules. Never drink from the bloodline of your creator or his descendants.  You, son of Perran, are a descendant of the man who made me who I am.”

“I am?”

The dark angel nodded, “The wound I inflicted on your neck proved that. Those few delicious drops of blood poisoned me. Were nearly enough to end it all but, as you can see, I am quite recovered. Well almost.”

She bared her fangs to him. Immediately, he noted the broken tip of one of them.

“The tip is embedded in your neck,” explained the angel, reaching out to touch the spot.

His neck had begun to throb as soon as he had approached the church and the toothache had returned when the stone walls of the cemetery had come into sight. Now, for the first time in weeks, he felt warm, fresh blood trickling down his neck.

“How? Why?”

“How? Because I attempted to drink from you. Those few poisonous drops were divine,” she replied, savouring the bittersweet memory. “Why? That’s what I am trying to figure out. Minor injuries like a broken tooth usually regenerate and heal within a day or so. This has been over nine months and there is nothing I can do to heal it.”

“The place on my neck won’t heal either,” he acknowledged, reaching up to wipe away the fresh blood.

“In over two hundred years, I’ve never experienced this,” she stated looking almost insulted. “However, it means we are connected by more than bloodline. So, I’m going to offer you a choice.”

“A choice?” he echoed a little anxiously, edging forward on the seat ready to escape if need be.

“Yes. A choice,” she repeated, her green eyes boring into him. “The choice to either become like me or the choice to kill me.”

“Why?”

Smiling at his puzzled expression, the angel said, “To kill me would end the loneliness, the suffering, save the lives of the innocent. To become like me, then…. well, who knows what our futures would hold, son of Perran.”

“Why would I want to live a life like yours?”

“You wouldn’t have to live as I choose to,” she countered calmly. “There can be a partial transformation first. You can live your life as normal, watch your family grow up and grow old. You, however, will age at a far slower rate. You will remain fit and healthy. Able to run for more years than you would otherwise. Then, once your family are gone, together we can seek answers to why we’ve been bound together like this.”

He stared at her, struggling to comprehend what she was saying.

Effortlessly, the angel got to her feet, spread her wings and prepared to depart.

“So, I wouldn’t need the wings if I can live my normal life?” Once spoken the question sounded ridiculous and he flushed in embarrassment.

“Reach a decision first, son of Perran, then we can discuss the finer points,” she suggested with a mischievous smile. “Its not a decision to be taken lightly. Not one to be rushed.”

He looked up but the mid-morning sun was shining straight into his eyes. He blinked and looked again.

The angel was gone.

A single black, purple tipped feather lay on the ground at his feet.

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

 

The Not So Humble Polo Mint….RnFnR

To any of you who follow my regular musings here, you won’t be surprised to learn that I escaped last week to attend a couple of live shows.

(You can read about who I was seeing and what I got up to here –  https://the525toglasgow.wordpress.com )

To any of you who have ever attended a gig with me, what I’m about to write about won’t be unfamiliar to you.

Previously I’ve written about the various things that attend every show with me. There’s my Kipling “gig” bag complete with Cherry, the furry monkey. She’s heard SO much good music over the years!There are my beloved purple tie dye Converse that have served me faithfully. I must admit that they have seen better days and are now reserved for gigs when the weather outside is dry.

There’s one other item though that has been to every show with me.

No, it’s not my phone nor my camera.

It’s the Rock ‘n’ Roll Polo mints!

Polo Mints

A long time ago when I was preparing to take my son to one of his first shows I expressed a little anxiety over it to my mother. Her response, and I paraphrase, “If you’ve got a packet of Polo mints with you, you can do anything.”

It made me laugh and it put the anxieties into context.

Her unwavering faith in the powers of the humble Polo mint date back many years to an occasion when, while visiting Fort William, my dad took her a “walk” up Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Scotland. Plenty of hillwalkers take rucksacks, survival kits and emergency supplies. My mother took a small bottle of water and a packet of Polo mints!

Ever since, my “gig” bag has had a supply of Polo mints  stashed in the small front pocket.

OK, I can hear your sniggers from here but hear me out.

The Polo mint really is, as the Americans would say, a Lifesaver.

lifesaver

These small round mints are sweet enough to give you a much needed sugar boost if you energy starts to wane.

Sucking them helps to relieve thirst pangs at shows where security are lax about handing back cups of water.

The paper and foil wrapper can be easily torn back to allow you to share the mints with your friends and fellow music fan thus encouraging camaraderie in a crowd.

They quickly freshen your breath when meet and greet opportunities arise. 😉

So, let’s hear it for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Polo mint!

imagesQ83BAV6V

(images sourced via Google – credits to the owner)