Tag Archives: #MondayBlog

A Literary Companion….

“Handle a book as a bee does a flower,

Extract its sweetness

but do not damage it”

John Muir

 

Do kindles count?

 

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Watch him for yourself : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2nolCjARQQ

 

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the book being read is “The People In The Trees” by Hanya Yanagihara (available on Amazon)

 

 

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Social Media and the Voyage of Self-Discovery

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

FB game profile

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

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

 

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This one was reassuring though 😊

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

19 Crimes…. and a glass or two of wine

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions where I find my story ideas and what inspires my blog posts. I always answer that it’s a little bit of everything- song lyrics, a place I’ve visited, an event, a name, etc….

Well, this week’s blog is inspired by the glass of wine I enjoyed with dinner on Sunday. Well, the label on the bottle to be more precise. (No, I didn’t drink the whole bottle before you ask!)

For weeks while I’ve been doing the weekly supermarket shop a particular bottle of Australian Chardonnay has been catching my eye. However, at full price, it was a little over my preferred budget. This week it was on special. Still a little over my price but I thought “What the hell!” and picked up two bottles. (I’m a bit weird that way as I’ll always buy bottles of wine in pairs.)

What had attracted my attention? The label on the front of the bottle and the name 19 Crimes.

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Over dinner on Sunday,  initially conversation wasn’t really holding my attention  (sorry, guys) and I turned the wine bottle, that was sitting in front of me on the table, around to read the label on the reverse.

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Intriguing…..what were the 19 Crimes?

This sparked an entirely different dinner conversation after a little emergency “Googling.”

So, were there really 19 Crimes that led to convicts being transported to Australia?

Yes! And between 1768 and 1868  thousands were in fact transported to Australian.

The 19 Crimes were:

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Once dinner was over and a second glass of wine had been poured, I sat down at my desk to do a little more digging into this subject.

Don’t panic! You’re not about to get a lengthy history lesson…… only a short one.

The first eleven convict ships set sail from England in 1787. They arrived at Botany Bay on 20 January 1788 where the first European community on the continent was established….and so Sydney, NSW was born.

the hougoumont

Over the next forty some years several other penal colonies were established as more convicts arrived. The most famous of these was Port Arthur in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1803.

Port Arthur Penal Colony Tasmania

Penal transportation peaked in the 1830’s. However opposition to this practice grew throughout the 1840’s. Transportation to Van Diemen’s Land ended in 1853 when the last convict ship, the St Vincent, arrived from England.

Small numbers continued to be transported to a colony in Western Australia but on 10 January 1868 the last convict ship, The Hougoumont, docked. (pictured above)

In total 806 ships had transported approximately 164 000 convicts to the continent over a period of eighty years. Around 24 000 of these were women, some of whom had deliberately committed petty crimes in order to be transported to join their husbands. Records show that 70% of those transported were from England and Wales, 24% from Ireland, 5% from Scotland and the remaining 1% a mix of convicts from the British colonies in India, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the Caribbean.

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Some of those transported went to lead successful new lives in Australia. Some notable convicts were:

James Blackburn, famous for his contribution to Australian architecture and civil engineering

Daniel Connor who was sentenced to seven years transportation for sheep stealing went on to become one of the largest landowners in central Perth by the 1890’s.

Francis Greenway became a famous Australian architect.

Laurence Hynes Halloran founded the Sydney Grammar School.

Henry Savery is noted as being Australia’s first novelist and author of Quintus Servinton

 

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One female convict stands out. Mary Wade was the youngest convict transported to Australia aged only 11 years old. She went on to have 21 children and at the time of her death had over 300 living descendants!

 

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Twenty one children!!!!

That thought calls for another glass of wine! 😉

 

some images sourced via Google – credits to the owners

Gotta Love The Beach In Winter….

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Anyone that follows my blog or has read the Silver Lake series knows I love the beach.

There is nothing like the feeling of sand under your feet to soothe the soul. It’s my quiet place. My happy place. My thinking place. My sanctuary….

Even in winter….no make that especially in winter….it holds a special kind of magic.

Would you believe me if I said the photo above had been shot in January? No? Well it was – the 1st of January to be precise.

In winter the beach tends to be virtually deserted. OK, it tends to be damn cold too! It’s Scotland – it can be damn cold in summer! On several occasions I’ve timed my visits just right and managed to secure the whole beach to myself for a few precious minutes.

Selfish I know but, in those few stolen moments, it’s MY space.

Space to daydream. Space to think things through (or over think them as I have a tendency to do). Space to seek creative inspiration. Space to reminisce. Space to shed private tears. Space to breathe. Space to recharge the batteries.

Without fail, I leave every time feeling calmer and more grounded. Maybe it’s the water themed name or the Cancerian birth sign but my soul is most definitely tied to the beach.

Where’s your happy place?

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A Gift From New Orleans……

New Orleans with its vampire and voodoo associations has fascinated me for a long time. After all, who could resist Louis and Lestat?
New Orleans, among many other destinations, is on my bucket list to visit at some point (Lottery win required first!)
A friend, however, was lucky enough to spend a few days there last month and I asked her if she would mind picking something up for me. She drew me a quizzical look when she heard my request but promised to see what she could do.
She returned to work after her trip and presented me with a small package, neatly wrapped in two pages from an old New Orleans phone directory.
I opened it carefully and instantly fell in love with the contents. Something that highly amused her!
So, what had I asked for?
A protective voodoo fetish/doll.
Here he is. Isn’t he cute?

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There’s a common misconception that voodoo is all about black magic, sticking pins in effigies or dolls and wishing harm on your enemies.
Louisiana voodoo has a different heritage altogether.
It dates back to the early part of the 18th Century. Between 1719-1731, the majority of the slaves brought to the French Colonial city of New Orleans were Fon people from West Africa. (The area is modern day Benin). They brought with them their spiritual beliefs and traditional knowledge of medicinal herbs, potions, charms and amulets. This ancient knowledge was used primarily for healing and for protection, although it could be used for darker purposes. These protective, healing practices became the core elements of Louisiana voodoo. (Haitian voodoo adopted a darker more sinister route.)
In Southern Louisiana, the sense of family was strong and efforts were made to keep members of the same family together within the slave community. This familial bond helped to ensure that their cultural heritage, religion, beliefs and practices were preserved and passed on. Under the French Code, and with influence from the Catholic church, the sale of children under that age of fourteen away from their family was prohibited. This goodwill towards the slave community helped to form strong bonds of solidarity.
The practice of Louisiana voodoo was accepted and the wearing of charms and amulets for healing and protection was not an unusual sight among the citizens of New Orleans.
In 1792 there was a revolution in Haiti. It was reportedly started by slaves who had supposedly been possessed by a deity during a vodou ritual (different from voodoo.)
Life became difficult for the voodoo practitioners in Louisiana as a result. The French Colonists in Southern Louisiana became aggressive towards the previously accepted voodoo rituals and practices. The Louisiana slaves, however, to their credit, did not fight back and peacefully continued to use their voodoo beliefs for healing and protection and to maintain connections with their loved ones.
Gradually voodoo became re-accepted into day to day life.
With the introduction of the US Embassy Act of 1808, the importation of all African slaves to the USA was ended. Around this time, within the slave communities, voodoo kings and queens began to emerge as prominent figures.
The most famous of these was THE voodoo queen, Marie Laveau.

Marie Laveau

Born in 1801, Marie Laveau was a Louisiana Creole practitioner of voodoo and a hairdresser to the wealthy families of the city. Her spiritual gatherings drew huge crowds. In fact, one gathering on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain in 1874 attracted a crowd of 12000. Marie Laveau was non-discriminatory in her practices, treating rich and poor alike. Her reputation soon spread far and wide. A practicing Catholic, she actively encouraged her followers to attend mass. It was largely due to her extended sphere of influence that Louisiana voodoo and Catholicism became so closely intertwined.
Upon her death in June 1881, Marie Laveau was interred in a tomb in St Louis Cemetery No. 1. The mausoleum attracted many of her devoted followers who marked an X on the walls as part of a ritual to request the voodoo queen’s support from beyond the grave. This mausoleum was refurbished in 2014 following an act of vandalism and now can only be visited as part of an organised tour. It is no longer possible for voodoo followers to graffiti the tomb.

 

Marie Laveau’s name and her legacy have lived on and are kept alive through songs, TV, films and fiction.
In fact, the voodoo doll I was so kindly gifted came from Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, a store in the city’s Bourbon Street.

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Time will tell as to whether he offers me protection or not but for now I need to decide on where to display him. Traditionally these dolls were hung in doorways or hallways.
For some reason, The Big Green Gummi Bear is less than comfortable with him being around……  😉

 

(images sourced via Google- credits to the owner)

Dear…….

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When did you last sit down and write a letter? Write not type. Have you ever sat down and written a letter?

Writing letters, sending messages, keeping in touch….. there are so many different ways to do it.

Sadly, most of the 21st Century methods have lost the personal touch that came with a handwritten letter.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve had “pen friends”, some sourced via my mum’s magazine and some from a list we were given in school. At around the age of nine, I remember sitting down at the kitchen table with my mum’s blue airmail pad of paper, with the lined template slotted in between the thin sheets and writing to a little girl in S Africa. My mum warned me to not to write too much, not to use too many sheets of the flimsy blue paper as postage was expensive.

I’ve long since lost contact with that person but over the years have had several other “pen friends.” I am still in contact with three of them from around the world that I have written to for about thirty years.

But, when did I even last sit down and write a letter to any of them? Honest answer is that I have no idea! We still exchange Christmas and birthday cards but even these are dwindling as the years move on. Normal “catch ups” are now via FB messenger.

The art of letter writing (and I’m excluding business letters and complaint letters here) is dying.

Let’s try an experiment.

Look at your mobile/cell phone and the various apps you have available to you. Excluding actually making a phone call, how many different ways could you get a message to someone? Go on, count them.

I’ve just counted – ten!

Communicating with each other has never been easier! Add in video calling/Skype and the number increases here.

So, do we make full use of this functionality?  Do we make best use of our language skills while messaging others?

That’s a debatable point but, if the content of most of the messages I receive is anything to go by, they are short on words and riddled with emojis and gifs.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with these. A lot of them are quite cute or are rather humorous but do they really convey the emotions that you are trying to impart? Can they be mis-interpreted? …….. Most definitely!

Can an emoji really say what you would previously have said in a sentence or two?

Think about it….

Think about it the next time you are about to hit “send” on a message that contains no words at all……   😉

Reflections On A Creative Journey…

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I’ve spent the past few days reflecting on my “creative journey” among other things. This reflection was triggered by a question during a brief interview with a journalist from the local paper. (My first ever face to face interview and I don’t mind admitting I was a nervous wreck). The journalist asked me how long I’d been writing for.

Now, that should have been an easy question to answer but the genuine answer is that I don’t know. I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember. As soon as I could string a sentence together, I wanted to write stories. Fact.

This got me thinking (oh, no…. here she goes again….) It got me thinking about the various pieces I’ve shared on here over the past four and a half years.

Something I rarely do is re-blog past articles. The initial challenge I set myself at the end of 2013 was to write at least one blog post per week to get over my fear of letting people read what I write. I’ve risen to that challenge every week since so I think this week I will allow myself a moment of reflection on past blogs. Who knows some of these you may have missed along the way…

 

I might as well start at the beginning.

 I remember being terrified posting this

 https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/deep-breaths-and-begin/

All the fears- could I do this? Would folk laugh at what I wrote? Would anyone read what I wrote? Would I be able to write something new every week?

 

I’ve played games with my blog – the Glad Game-

 https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/what-makes-you-smile/

 

I’ve picked favourites-

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2014/08/

 

I’ve seen some RnR dreams come true…several…but this was the first

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/a-green-triangle-to-paradise-city-dreams-do-come-true/

 

I’ve introduced characters from my book babies. Remember the first time I introduced Jake Power? No? well, it was here.

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/fiction-short-stuff/him/

 

I’ve shared poems

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/poems/private-bubble/

 

I’ve shared confessions

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/cluttered-confessions/

 

I’ve shared beach analogies …. have I mentioned that I love the beach?

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/an-hour-at-the-beach-a-day-keeps-the-blues-away/

 

I’ve written some flash fiction

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/in-the-heart-of-the-book-1000-word-flash-fiction/

 

I’ve written some erotic fiction

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/twisted-silk-a-dark-tale-adult-content/

 

And I’ve shared some serialised short fiction. For some reason, this dark angel had proved to be a popular lady. I first introduced her here:

https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/silently-watching-a-short-story/

 

It’s been a creative journey of experimentation and self- discovery. Along the way, I’ve self-published the first three books in the Silver Lake series and am on the brink of releasing my fourth book baby aka Ellen in a few days.

Have I overcome the fear of letting people read what I write? Not entirely. Some blogs are easier to share than others. Nerves set in big style when the release date of a book baby looms on the horizon. My stomach flutters and somersaults every time I press “publish” on here.

Have I enjoyed the journey so far? YES! Every word of it.

I hope you have too. Thanks for sharing this long and winding journey with me.