Tag Archives: creative writing

Post Staycation 2016 Book Baby blues…sorry, news

Staycation 2016 is already a fading memory (After ten minutes back in the salt mine on Monday morning, before I’d even got half way down my first coffee of the day, it had faded.)

My primary goal for my Staycation was to finish the first draft of Book Baby 3. To return to my previous pregnancy analogy, I feel like I’ve been expecting this one forever. When I went back and checked, I started to write it just over two years ago, 22 June 2014 to be exact (although one scene was written in December 2013) If this had been a pregnancy I think I’m just about to deliver an elephant! It may well prove to be a tome of a book!

However, after my labour of love, by the end of week one, my mission had been accomplished and I finally had a completed first draft in my hands. Hallelujah!!

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It’s a surreal feeling this time around as I’ve already taken the decision to “park” the Silver Lake series after this one.

Don’t panic Jake fans – he’ll be back! There’s a plan in my mind – well two actually- but I’m not giving anything away just yet. It’s very early days but the notebooks have been bought.

Now I’m facing a marathon labour with Book Baby 3 as I type up my handwritten scrawls and edit and proofread and spellcheck and grammar check……I wonder how much caffeine and Pinot Grigio this is going to take?

Watch this space!

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So what about my first two Book Babies? Are they behaving themselves?

joint promo collage

Well both of them are quietly ticking over – too quietly for my liking (quiet children always arouse my suspicions)- but they’re out there making their way in this big bad world. Both of them are 5* students on Amazon.co.uk. Both have earned great reviews on Amazon.com. I really can’t complain.

No one’s told me my babies are ugly so there’s a blessing.

Self-promotion is not something that comes naturally to me but I’ve been doing my best.

Last weekend I bit the bullet and recorded a short video clip for You Tube to help promote Book Baby 1- Stronger Within. Lord that was nerve wracking!

Trust me, I am not a natural narrator!

It took several takes to get an acceptable version recorded for posterity.

I hate listening to myself. Cringing, I played it back. Oh Lord, I sound SO Scottish! Guess that is only natural as I am Scottish.

Hey ho, its another way to get some free promotion so feel free to go in, listen (laugh if you feel the urge) but please share the video with the world.

Once I regroup my nerves and manage to get the house to myself for an hour so that it’s all quiet, I’ll maybe try a second video to promote Book Baby 2 – Impossible Depths …..or then again…..

Well, I’ve thousands of words needing my undivided attention so I guess I’d better get typing!

#BondedSouls #amwriting #amtyping

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As Staycation 2016 draws to a close….time to reflect

BeFunky Collage 1

OK a bit of a cheat’s post but I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

The above collage sums up Staycation 2016 – bare feet, coffee, cinnamon bagels, writing, some typing (yes, I’ve begun the typing marathon that will become Bonded Souls …eventually!), a couple of cocktails, some photography, some great live music and , of course, several pairs of Converse!

 

Just Imagine…the opportunity to interview Jake Power

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Just imagine if……..

 

Sitting at a corner table on the balcony of The Greene Turtle in Rehoboth, De recently, I gazed across the crowded beach, wondering what to expect from the interview that lay ahead. I’ve interviewed my fair share of rock gods over the years but I was just a little bit excited to be given the opportunity to shoot the breeze with Silver Lake front man, Jake Power.

Arriving a few minutes late for our scheduled appointment, rock’s latest heart throb sits down opposite me, apologising profusely for keeping me waiting.

“Time keeping isn’t one of my attributes,” he jokes somewhat sheepishly. “My girlfriend even bought me my dream watch for my birthday last year in an attempt to keep me on time. She’s failed there I’m embarrassed to admit but I love that watch!”

Life for the Silver Lake singer/guitarist is busy right now. Following a successful European tour late last year and an Antipodean adventure with Aussie rock giants, Bodimead, earlier this year, Silver Lake are currently in the studio recording their second album, under the watchful eye of Grammy award winning producer, Dr Marrs.

When I ask Jake how recording is going, he flashes me one of his famous “Power” smiles. This guy is hot!

“We’re getting there. It’s only week one so it’s been mainly Paul and Grey who’ve been in. Rich and I have been working at the house tweaking the guitar parts. There’s still some lyrics to be finished off too.”

I ask how it feels to be the first act to record in the newly completed JJL Studios in Delaware.

“It’s pretty neat. The first day we were all like big kids in a new classroom. Wanting to touch this. Play with that,” confesses Jake. “I think Jim was getting pretty mad at us, to be honest. He had that withering look in his eye.” (Jim being producer Dr Marrs)

Up until late last year, our rock god was a schoolteacher, teaching music at a local high school along with fellow Silver Lake sensation, Rich Santiago. I ask him if he misses the classroom.

“I do,” he answers with little hesitation. “But this crazy life is the one I’ve been chasing down for twenty years. It’s great to go back and visit the school now and then as time allows. We’ve done a few workshops. Keeps my hand in.”

“And what kind of a student were you?” I ask, hoping for an insight into a teenage Jake Power.

“I was actually a good student. B+ average. I got an A in English Lit and Music. My mum was pretty strict about school and studying. She made sure study came first before music. She made sure I put in the work. Even through college, I worked my ass off but there was always a band or two on the go. My heart’s always been in my music.”

So after spending years in several small local rock bands and then forming Silver Lake some five years ago, with Rich Santiago, Grey Cooper and Paul Edwards, I was keen to hear how Jake felt about being catapulted into his dream world. Was it living up to expectations?

“It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind experience,” he begins. At this point we’re interrupted by the waitress arriving with the drinks order. She treats Jake like an old friend, prompting me to ask if the bar is a regular Silver Lake haunt.

“It is,” replies Jake with a laugh. “Many a Silver Lake night out has started or ended here. Lori and I held our engagement party here too.”

After a mouthful of beer, Jakes returns to my original question about his new found rock star lifestyle.

“We’ve been incredibly lucky. I totally appreciate that. Molton gave us our first big break when we played a few arena shows with them last summer. The UK tour with Weigh Station was an incredible opportunity. I’ve loved those guys since I was a kid. We learned so much from them on that tour then being out with Bodimead gave us another view of how things are done. It’s been a steep learning curve but we’re a tight unit. A family. Maddison and Gary keep us all on a tight rein. Maddison is a scary lady when she’s mad so we all tend to toe the line.”

I ask if there are any more live shows on the horizon.

“Actually, we’re playing a birthday party next,” Jake reveals. “It’s the record company’s 21st birthday in a couple of weeks so we’ve been invited to play a few numbers. Then, as far as I remember, we’ve a few festival appearances lined up through August. I get a hard time for never knowing our schedule. Drives Maddison insane.”

It’s easy to fall under the spell of this unassuming rock star. He’s easy to talk to. No ego. No entourage with him. He says that he walked along the beach to the interview, explaining that he lives not far from the centre of the small Delaware Riviera resort. Eventually I ask what keeps him so grounded.

“This place. Lori. The other guys,” he explains. (I should perhaps explain that Jake’s girlfriend, Lori, is none other than album artist to the stars, Mz Hyde)

“Off the road, our lives haven’t really changed,” continues Jake. “At least not yet. We all still live in the same houses or apartments. Rich treated himself to a new car but that’s been the only big splurge spend by any of us so far. We can all still come in here, enjoy a few beers and no one bothers us. I hope to keep it that way.”

“Do you ever get stopped around town for autographs?”

“Sometimes. It’s a tourist town so there’s a lot of traffic through here, especially in summer. It goes with the job though. If Silver Lake didn’t have fans out there buying our record, buying tickets to the shows and shit then I’d still be teaching class and playing at weddings on the weekend. Signing a few autographs is a small price to pay.”

Trust me, Jake Power can play at my wedding any day!

So what can Silver Lake fans expect from the new record?

“I don’t know,” laughs Jake, his hazel eyes twinkling with mischief. “Ask me that in another few weeks when it’s finished. Seriously though, it’s a progression of Dragon Song, our first album. Some of the new stuff’s a bit heavier. We’re trying to develop that Silver Lake sound. I don’t want to give too much away just yet.”

“Any ballads planned for it?”

“One so far,” Jake reveals quietly before adding, “The fans seem to love the ballads in the middle of the harder stuff. I guess we’d be in trouble with them if we didn’t sneak one onto the new record.”

Spotting Jake’s tattoo of the music to Silver Lake’s Stronger Within on his forearm, I ask him about that song and the tattoo. For the first time in the interview, he hesitates and, for a moment, I thought he wasn’t going to answer.

“That song’s pretty precious to me,” he confesses. “I wrote it not long after I met Lori and, as I’ve said before, it’s really about her. She’s one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. At that point, she was really proving to herself, as well as to me, just how mentally strong and determined she can be. The tattoo followed on from the song. I’ve gathered a few over the years. Each one has a personal meaning to me. They represent important events in my life. The music represents my relationship with Mz Hyde.”

From the way he speaks of her, Jake Power is a rock star madly in love with his partner(Sorry, girls)

He finishes his beer and apologises that he needs to get going. My allotted hour is long since up. Deciding to push my luck a little further, I ask what the pressing engagement is. Jake laughs, runs his hand through his long sun bleached hair and explains that Grey’s car has broken down again and that he’s arranged to help him tow it to the shop.

And with that, he shakes my hand, thanks me for the beer and heads off along the crowded balcony.

I sat on, finishing my own beer, watching the flow of people on the boardwalk below. I spot Jake in the crowd, walking briskly, just another anonymous face among them.

I get the feeling that that anonymity won’t last much longer. Jake Power is destined for rock god stardom…. I think I’ve fallen just a little bit in love with him.

 

credits to the owner of the photo sourced via Facebook.

Edit Without Mercy……

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Edit without mercy……that phrase sends chills rattling up and down my spine!

“What? You mean you want me to cut out chunks of the wording I’ve laboured over for weeks and months? You want me to bin them?”

I struggle with the whole editing process. I’ve never had much success at culling scenes from my book babies. It’s just too painful.

This was true until two days ago!

After agonising for days over it, Book Baby 3 underwent a massive cull by anyone’s standards. Without spoiling the storyline, I had a scene in mind to slot into the partially completed manuscript. I’ve spent the past month working on this pivotal point in the story and, in true Book Baby fashion, it evolved and grew, ending up far longer than originally planned. (My central characters have been leading me astray!)

When I slotted it into its rightful place, it just sat there, sticking out all over the place.

It fits perfectly with the first section of the tale but, like a cuckoo in the nest, it was pushing the subsequent parts out of the way.

I read it all over from start to finish. I read it again and a third time.

I spent several hours trying to “tweak” the following passages so that the flow of story continued uninterrupted. I failed miserably!

My A4 notebooks had paperclips and post its and coloured marks dotted all over them. There were squiggles by the dozen in the margins.

It was time for drastic action!

I finally overcame my fear of being ruthless and scrapped what I had written beyond the new pivotal scenes.

I scrapped approximately 250 handwritten pages.

I sacrificed between 45000-50000 words that had been lovingly written. GULP!

I waited on the ensuing panic to hit me. The anticipated mental cries of “What have you done!”

They never materialised.

It was liberating. It’s set the storyline free again and the pivotal scene is now nestling comfortably in its rightful position.

(Author breathes a sigh of relief!)

So what did I do with all those beautiful words that I’d spent months writing?

Did I shred them?

Did I bin them?

No. I closed the book over, put a post it on the front saying “Shelved” and stashed it in my “desk drawer” aka the red plastic crate that lurks under the kitchen table.

I just couldn’t bring myself to totally destroy all my hard work. After all, there’s actually nothing wrong with them. They just don’t “fit” anymore.

I’ve hoarded them away.

A further thought struck me like a bolt of lightning. I’m a word hoarder!

I probably have every creatively written word that I’ve produced over the past 30 some years stashed away in the house somewhere.

I may have finally been able to edit without mercy but I can’t destroy the evidence…yet!

 

 

(image shared via Google Images)

 

Research – if in doubt what do you do?

If you want to find out about something you know nothing or little about, what do you do?

There’s an obvious modern day answer – you Google it.

I’ve been doing a fair bit of quite obscure research recently for Book Baby 3 and it struck me earlier – how did writers research such things pre-Google?

The world’s knowledge is quite literally at your fingertips. You don’t even need a computer- any smartphone will do. It does make us all quite lazy though.

Pre-Google ad Wiki if you wanted to research a topic, you packed up your notebook and pens and took yourself off to the local library.

Or, if you were lucky enough, maybe you knew someone with a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica. I’ve always wanted a copy of it!

Regardless of the research topic, the answer back then was always found in a book of some sort.

I remember as a child helping a friend to research the history of her house. We are going back over thirty-five years here but I seem to recall the house had been part of an old school at one point in its past. Armed with our notebooks, we took ourselves off into town to the main library in search of some local reference books. Being children, we were dismissed by the librarian in the “adult” library and sent upstairs to the children’s section. Like we were going to find much in the way of local history there! Fortunately, the children’s reference section was right next to the adult reference section and we did manage to find a couple of local history books but not much.

Someone’s mum suggested that we try the other library in town, the reference library next door to the local museum. Now that one had a  scary librarian! However, she realised that we were serious about our research topic and helped us to navigate our way through the catalogue system and pointed us in the direction of some useful old local histories. She even brought out some newspaper archives for us to read through.

I can’t remember now what we found out about the house (sorry) but it was my first introduction to “real” research.

In my final year in high school, I had to undertake some historical research in support of my Latin dissertation on the Roman Emperor Caligula. I was trying to argue that he wasn’t completely insane. Again, finding information proved to be a challenge. The “standard” Roman research book of choice proved to be of little use – The Annals by Tacitus – as some of them are missing. Yes, those that surrounded the time period I needed to research. Typical! My class teacher assisted where he could by bringing me his own personal copies of some Roman histories and also by borrowing a book from The British Library (I think) for me to use for a short period of time. I loved researching and writing up that dissertation! The topic did and still does fascinate me.

Now all these years down the line research is still fun but SO much easier!

Be honest, when did you last even open a book to look something up?

It’s a bit of a standing joke in this house if, over dinner, we are discussing a topic that requires some validation or more detail, I’ll reach for the dictionary as my first port of call. A good dictionary is worth its weight in gold. There’s an incredible amount of information in a decent dictionary.

So what’s your favourite research tool these days?

For both book babies, Google streetview have proved to be a Godsend. And who can live without Google maps?

Even when it came to searching for a cover image for Book Baby 2, Google was the first place I looked. (I had looked round the men in my life and decided that none of them quite lived up to my expectations of Jake Power – sorry, guys) It did mean I perused more images of half-naked hot men, and some not so hot men, than was perhaps healthy for me. Tee Hee…..

This week’s topic has been of a darker nature (No, I’m not giving any Book Baby 3 plot clues away) and it has left me pondering a few bizarre points.

Well, I’ve procrastinated on the research front long enough for one day. Time to delve back into Google….or maybe I’ll read the dictionary instead.

 

Announcing A New Arrival – Impossible Depths

A Leap Day act of faith but Book Baby 2 aka Impossible Depths has made its debut on Amazon worldwide. EEK!

I still can’t quite believe it’s real. Can’t get me head round the fact that its done and out there for the world to see.

Like it’s predecessor, Impossible Depths was written long hand over many months. (I began writing it towards the end of 2013) It began “life” as four A4 notepads that have grown increasingly tatty over the months.

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Painstakingly it was typed up – all 142 299 words of it -and re-drafted and tweaked and grammar checked and tweaked…..yes the OCD began to kick in big time!

Throughout this phase of its development I couldn’t have kept going without the love and support and encouragement of my “Infamous Five”. Seriously, I can’t thank those guys enough for putting up with me and for giving me so many hours of their own precious time.

 Then came the next challenge. I had my Book Baby 2 almost formed but it was naked! The cover went through several incarnations before I finally settled on the stock photography image that became the cover. The next hurdle to be overcome was Photoshop (it hates me) but under the patient guidance of my “fairy godmother”, I designed the cover and eventually pulled it together in both Kindle format and Create Space paperback format. Now that was a fiddly job!

 By this stage, I was in the final throes of preparation for Book Baby 2’s arrival into the world and it was passed to “the cavalry” to read through. My two beta readers who prefer the story as a whole instead of per “chunk”. Huge thanks to you both for your feedback and support.

Cue more tweaking!

 Then came the day to upload the files onto Create Space and to order the first “real” proof copy. (Having an actual physical copy is so much easier to proof than using the online previewer. Invaluable advice given to me by my “fairy godmother”)

Cue more tweaking and a pile of post it corrections! And an alteration to the resolution of the front cover. A fuzzy cover just wouldn’t do!

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  And now, many, many months down the line, my Book Baby 2 has flown the nest and is making its way in the world of rock romance fiction.

Like any proud mother, I am now sitting back and watching my baby continue on its journey. (Well, to be honest, I’m fretting about how it will do in the big bad world just like any new mother would do.) Some of you may love it; some of you may loathe it. It’s a fiction genre that’s not for everyone but to me these characters are a huge part of my life and very close to my heart.

So I guess it’s time to crack open the champagne and wet the baby’s head.

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If you want to check it out, here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01C0GS30K?keywords=impossible%20depths&qid=1456764709&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Imminent Arrivals…..as the jitters set in!

 

 

 

Life over the past week has been a tad on the busy side – work, birthdays, school exams, stressed teenagers…you get the picture.

 Looming large on the horizon is also the anticipated arrival of Book Baby 2 aka Impossible Depths.

I’ve used the pregnancy analogy throughout the “gestation” of Book Baby 1 and 2 so why change the train of thought now? (I’m holding onto any and all trains of thought I can right now!)

Book Baby 2’s arrival is imminent. (Still not revealing the actual due date)

Safe to say, it’s fully formed and, if this was a real pregnancy, I’d say the head is engaged and I’m experiencing runs of Braxton Hicks. There’s an underlying air of excited expectation growing…..and panic! Am I ready for this?  EEKK!

In reality, I’m in the final throes of editing and proof reading and rapidly reaching the stage of second-guessing myself.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day this week!

Deep breaths…stay calm….

My final “scan”…sorry, paperback proof…arrived last week. It’s currently sporting a plethora of post it markers as I make the final tweaks to the punctuation and amend the odd sentence here and there.  Yes, I’m becoming OCD about it!

The cover also threw up a bit of a resolution issue so it was back out with Photoshop, another cry for help to my “fairy godmother” who has been SO incredibly patient with me. I think I’ve found and resolved the issue. Can’t have a fuzzy Book Baby 2!

I revealed the actual cover on my Facebook author page last weekend (https://www.facebook.com/Coral-McCallum-639174446188152/timeline?ref=page_internal)

 Oh..you haven’t seen my new baby yet?

OK, just for you…here it is! 

 

 Actual cover pic

 

 Like it? 

Keep your eyes peeled on here or on Facebook for news of new arrivals 😉

 PS. If you missed Book Baby 1 aka Stronger Within you can check it out on Amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00VXDSC1M?keywords=stronger%20within&qid=1455820294&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1