Tag Archives: writing

Today You Have Memories With…..

Sometimes I forget how long it is since I ventured into the weird world of social media but Facebook very kindly reminds me on a daily basis with its “You have memories with…. to look back on today”

I don’t always check these out. I’ll be honest, it sometimes depends on who it says I have memories to share with.

One caught my eye about a week or so ago. It was a memory from 2010 from a school friend. 

“Don’t know why I remember this so clearly but you wrote a book in school with a character called Maggie or Megan, didn’t you? Did you keep up the writing thing?” 

A short conversation followed this post: 

Friend – I think I just remember being really impressed at the time.

Me – I tried writing short stories for a few years but never got anything published. Tried again a few years later with children’s stuff but no luck. Still scribble for my own amusement. Really touched that you remember. Thanks x

Friend – Hey – look at JK Rowling! Should give it another go. Was it Megan or Maggie?

Me- Megan x 

I was, and still am, very touched that she remembered my early literary efforts.

And to be honest, she wasn’t the first school friend to quiz me years after the fact out of the blue.

A few years earlier, I met another old school friend when our daughters both went to the same dance class. She too remembered my teenage “story” and I recall flushing scarlet as she told the other mothers present that she got her sex education from my story! EEKKK!!!!

(Yes, even at fifteen and sixteen I wrote romantic fiction…..) 

The Facebook memory got me thinking….reflecting… 

I was fourteen when I started that “story”. My reporter notebook and pen went everywhere with me for about three years, maybe four.

The story itself was a family saga spanning three generations of women – Terri, Bethan and Megan. I would love to have shared a little bit of it here but ,despite an extensive search earlier today, I can’t find the box in the loft that has the sixteen reporter notebooks in it. I still have it….somewhere! 

There are a lot of parallels between then and now as to why I write. 

Basically, it’s an escape from my own reality for a while. 

Back then it was an escape from the school bullies and was a way to cope with secondary school. I would sit in a corner at lunchtimes and write. After school, I would walk into town to meet my mum from work. Many an hour was spent sitting writing in her office as I waited on her finishing for the day. I also wrote at night, alone, listening to my music. (I’m still listening to some of the same music to this day!)

Now, it’s a means to relax after a long day and, yes, it’s still an escape from my reality. Yes, it’s still a coping mechanism. If I haven’t written for a few days, I can tell! Those who are close to me can also tell. Occasionally, I will spend a wet lunch hour writing at my desk instead of venturing out for a walk. Mainly, I write at night, alone, listening to my music.

Once I find those reporter notebooks (I wonder where they are hiding?) will anything ever come of the “story”? Highly unlikely but never say never. The first incarnation of Jake Power is actually written in “Megan’s” part of the story. ( I told you he’d been in my head for a very long time….almost thirty years in fact! EEEKK!)

Has my approach to how I write changed since the mid-1980’s? Eh……………..no.

I still write everything long hand in crazy colours of ink. I still need a new notebook and a new pen every time I start a new “long story” or “book baby”.

Now I buy A4 notebooks and tend to buy four or five the same to ensure that each book baby has its own identity. (Book Baby 4 is blue)

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I’ll confess…. I’ve already bought the notebooks for Book Baby 5, which will be a Silver Lake tale, too. They’re purple.

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If I rounded them up, I’ve probably got enough pens to start a shop! I love pens! Love multi-coloured ink. Even at work in the salt mine I use a Bic pen that has four colour options. No, not blue, black, red and green. Mine has pink, blue, purple and green ink….trademark pen! Lol

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Back then, I wrote primarily with a green Berol pen ( I’ve just realised that I’ve picked up a green pen to write the first draft of this blog…some things never change.)

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As a teenager, I let very few people read what I wrote. I guess I was terrified that folk would laugh at my story. That instilled a deep rooted fear in me of sharing my words with people. It’s one I still struggle with. Its taken a long time for me to feel even remotely comfortable with sharing my work. A crippling fear for a storyteller.

When I had that Facebook conversation with my old school friend back in October 2010, reflecting back on whether it was Maggie or Megan, little did I know the path I would venture down three short years later.

So, here I am, sitting here reflecting (and procrastinating a tad) on my stories.

If there are any of you reading this who are debating whether to write that book you’ve always dreamed of writing, I have one simple piece of advice. Go for it!

A friend posted a motivational quote on his Facebook wall a few years ago that has always stuck with me, become my mantra almost.

dreams

Now pick up that pen ( it doesn’t matter what colour the ink is) and tell your story to the world.

 

 

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Book Baby Motherhood – the toddler phase

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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

A New Year Means New Goals And A Fresh Challenge …….

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I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions but, over the past few years, I have set myself a creative challenge or goal for the coming year.

The only problem with the goals that I’ve set for the past three years is that they have been ongoing.  These creative goals have so far resulted in two blog pages, two (almost three) book babies and a new rock star Instagram/Twitter fan page. My “free” time is diminishing rapidly!

This year, for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to keep it simple.

Completing, editing and publishing Book Baby 3, aka Bonded Souls, is my primary goal but, if all goes to plan, it should be accomplished by Spring.

That leaves me eight or nine months to fill…..drums fingers as she thinks…..takes a deep breath.

My second goal is to write the first draft of a new novel by the end of the year. GULP!

 Now, before fans of a certain Jake Power get their hopes up, it won’t be a Silver Lake book. Also for the sake of my sanity, I need a break from all things Silver Lake however……I’m not ruling out an overlap between the new novel and some of the characters from the Silver Lake tales. I’ve a couple of ideas floating around so we’ll see where they lead to.

On the Book Baby 3 front, editing and proofreading is underway and I’ve started my battle of wills with Photoshop, as I work on the cover design. I’m not quite ready to reveal it to the world just yet but let’s just say my book baby is no longer totally naked.

Well, the clock’s ticking, so, if I’m to meet these goals, I’d better get cracking.

What are your goals or challenges or resolutions for 2017?

image sourced via Google

credits to the owner

NaNoWriMo – when inspiration strikes.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

The challenge is to commit to writing  50 000 words during the month of November.

I’ll be honest, I considered taking up the challenge then consulted my own planned writing schedule, my social calendar, my “real work” commitments and laughed….not a snowball’s hope in hell!

It has got me thinking though – seldom a good thing!

It’s got me thinking about the prompts that inspire people to write.

As I’m currently knee-deep in Book Baby 3, I don’t have a huge amount of time to write anything new but a part of me is already looking ahead. There’s this wee voice whispering in my ear, “What’s next?”

I have a reasonable idea of “what’s next” after Book Baby 3 and the prompts have come from the Silver Lake series (no more hints!)

However, what other prompts do writers use to trigger their creative juices?

If, like me, you follow some of the writing pages on social media, you will have seen that they have been flooded with well-intentioned prompts over the past few days.

 

There are whole websites dedicated to providing prompts for aspiring writers. There are literally thousands of inspirational ideas on Pinterest and Tumblr. There are apps available to download to your phone dedicated to prompts.

It would seem there’s a whole creative writing business that’s centred on providing assistance to generate more creative writing ideas.

I may use some of the prompts I’ve stumbled across recently at some point in the future. Never say never and all that.

Another method to prompt a tale or two is to keep a file of random photos. This was a method one of my high school English teachers used. He kept a manila folder full of magazine pictures, newspaper photos and postcards. Every now and again we were asked to pick one then go forth and write an essay inspired by it.

I used this method for a while and, in fact, only recently rediscovered my “inspiration folder” from twenty some years ago.

In recent years, I’ve used more personal prompts – song lyrics that struck a chord, memories of a particular place, throw away comments from friends. While I’d never deliberately create a fictional character that mirrors someone in my “real world”, there are character traits manifesting themselves in my book babies. My own character traits as well as those of friends and family. One example of that is Lori from the Silver Lake Series’ ideal breakfast of a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel, streaky bacon and coffee is my own personal favourite breakfast.

Daydreams also inspire some of my shorter pieces of fiction.

I guess that’s what makes someone a writer – not that I am claiming any great literary ability here, let’s get that straight.

I write primarily for enjoyment and relaxation. It is my stress reliever at the end of a day. It’s my escape from the real world. It’s a huge bonus if other people happen to enjoy the tales that I spin.

Now I wonder….can I squeeze in time to write 50 000 words of a new story by 30 November?……..

images source from Google

More information on NaNoWriMo can be found at http://www.nanowrimo.org

 

An Innocent Cup of Coffee?- there’s no such thing…..

As a self-confessed caffeine addict I am frequently found in my local coffee shop enjoying a “fix”.

Apart from the attraction of the caffeine, the scones, the carrot cake…I could go on and on… the other attraction is people watching.

Perhaps it is the writer or the romantic in me but I like to weave their story as I enjoy my coffee.

The two old white haired ladies sitting with cappuccinos and a scone – are they reminiscing about their youth? Saturday nights spent at “the dancing”?

The four men in shirts and ties – is this a business meeting? The start of a new corporate venture? The key moment in financial success or ruin?

Two young mothers wrestling with squirming toddlers – are they trying desperately to hold onto their sanity over their lattes as well as their children?

A young couple holding hands across the table- first date? Or is he trying to pluck up the courage to propose?

Another couple, perhaps in their thirties or forties, barely looking at each other over the espresso – is divorce on the cards? Is it empty nest syndrome?

Or the large table of teenage girls in the corner, silent because they are all texting on their phones – is this the representation of 21st Century coffee conversation?

Me sitting quietly at a small table with notebook and pen – what am I up to? What am I writing?

What if someone famous walked in and sat at the last empty table? Would you approach them for an autograph? Would you leave them in peace to enjoy their coffee and cake?

 

I’ve sat a few times writing in the coffee shop, medium Americano immediately to hand. Some poems, short stories and blog posts have sprung to life in this anonymous environment.

Was anyone watching? Who knows but next time you see me sitting there enjoying a “fix” remember I may be watching you!

 

Four months along the twisting and turning blog path

I can barely believe that it’s been four months since I bit the bullet and started this blog page. Where does time go? Or as the old adage goes- time flies when you are having fun.

And, despite the fears of posting my writing on here, I am having a fun adventure on this creative journey.

At the very outset of this scary magical trip, I said one of my biggest fears was letting people read what I write. I’d be lying if I said I’d totally overcome it but, with each post, it’s getting easier. Each “like” or kind comment banishes another little bit of that crippling fear. So thank you.

I set the goal of submitting one post per week and so far I’m on track. Finding the time to write my blog piece for the week can sometimes prove a challenge. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or the week on occasion. I’ve tried not to be too regimented to prevent it from becoming “routine” – “it’s Tuesday and it’s eight o’clock so it must be blog time”- I can’t write like that. For me it needs to be spontaneous and not overly thought. Do you agree, fellow bloggers?

I’ve also resisted the temptation to rant – although I reserve the right to do so should an appropriate rant come along.

Another fear that, so far, hasn’t come to fruition was that I wouldn’t be able to think of a post for the week. Long may that luck hold out!

The biggest surprise over the last few months writing-wise has been the popularity of my short story “The Imp”. Initially the first part was written as a standalone short tale that grew out of my mental meanderings while out for a walk one lunchtime and was brought to life a few short hours later, while sitting in the car, in the dark, outside the school while I waited for Boy Child to come out from wind orchestra rehearsals. (The Imp is a drawing in another project I am working on and I began to muse about what his story may be and it spiralled from there.)Nine parts later and his tale has been told – for now. Crazy as this may sound, I miss him. Imp fans – he will be back at a later date – time allowing!

As usual time is running away with me so I’ll end here for now. I’d like to thank everyone who is accompanying me, encouraging me and supporting me along this winding creative path. Without you, I’d probably still just be sitting in my conservatory, filling notebooks with stories and poems that no one but me will ever read and wondering “what if…..”.

Thank you and I hope you stick with me for the rest of the journey. Feel free to bring along some friends too. I’m enjoying the company.

Him and Her….do you want to know the connection?

A few weeks back I bit the bullet and introduced a character that I’ve been working on for a long time in the short story Him.

Now it’s time to let you meet Her.

I’ve been writing about these people, sorry characters, for almost a year and am not yet quite ready to share that larger project with the world yet but wanted to test the water with these two short pieces.

Do you want to know more about them? Do you want to hear the story that connects them?