10 Things I Hate About Writing

We were on a family holiday this past week and I had the joy of having my nails painted by my granddaughter, my exercise routine sorted out by two of my sons, family meals around a long, large table, and so very much besides – including glow sticks, toasted marshmallows and crackers. We had fun in the garden and fun in the lake and the joy of cosying round the fire to watch a film with our children and grandchildren.

The film we watched was ’10 Things I Hate About You’ and it gave me the idea for a poem to go on this blog post. Like the film, it’s a bit of fun. Enjoy!

10 Things I Hate About Writing

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I hate it that I love to write

more than I love to play

I hate it that it takes up much 

of every single day

I hate my writing follows me

everywhere I go

I hate how even while I sleep

a story seems to grow

I hate how everyone I meet 

becomes a character of mine

I hate they each seem well equipped

with ready storyline

I hate it that the more I write

my vocabulary grows

I hate it when the right word comes

oh, how my story flows

I hate I always want to write

I hear its daily call

I hate my writing means so much

I don’t hate it at all

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And I hate writing so much, I have suffered through the publishing process 9 times now! What a chore! Nine novels! Sigh! How I suffer for my art 😦

You can find all nine books here on Amazon

including my latest release

Gold Plated

Rosanna and Paul are celebrating fifty years of marriage.

Their daughter, Heather, has helped plan their Golden Wedding Anniversary party, and it looks like being a wonderful night: sixties music, all their friends and family present, and Rosanna has bought the perfect golden gift for Paul. What could possibly go wrong?

When an uninvited guest shows up, Rosanna’s world is shaken and she is forced to look back over their fifty golden years and see them as they were.

Were they golden? Or just gold-plated?

Available now in ebook format and coming soon in paperback.

Five Questions Answered

It was my pleasure to be interviewed by fellow author and blogger, Killarney Traynor, this week.

https://www.killarneytraynor.com/the-blog/five-questions-for-christine-campbell

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves #Family Drama – Gold Plated by Christine Campbell

Such an honour for my latest novel, Glod Plated, to be featured in Sally Cronin’s Cafe and Bookshop this week.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Another new release this week, this time for Christine Campbell – Gold Plated  – a family drama.

About Gold Plated

Rosanna and Paul are celebrating fifty years of marriage.

Their daughter, Heather, has helped plan their Golden Wedding Anniversary party, and it looks like being a wonderful night: sixties music, all their friends and family present, and Rosanna has bought the perfect golden gift for Paul.

What could possibly go wrong?

When an uninvited guest shows up, Rosanna’s world is shaken and she is forced to look back over their fifty golden years and see them as they were.

Were they golden? Or just gold-plated?

One of the early reviews for the book

Another wonderful story by the lovely Christine Campbell. This is a story about family, love, loyalty, but also lack…

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Meet fellow Clean Indie Reads author Christine Campbell – with a New Release.

It was my pleasure to be interviewed by fellow author and blogger, Sandy Spencer recently.

S M Spencer

!cid_D4677E99-1133-45CC-9C28-35CDD81CB722@defaultToday I’d like to introduce you to my fellow CIR author, Christine Campbell. Tell us about yourself, Christine, and what you like to write.

I live in a small village outside of Edinburgh with my husband, whatever assortment of children and grandchildren happen to be visiting at the time, and have just welcomed my first great-granddaughter. How exciting is that?

I write Contemporary Women’s Fiction, and have been publishing novels since 2008. Before that I used to write short stories for magazines and articles for the Women’s page of a local newspaper. As a ‘Baby Boomer,’ I have a lot of life experience to inform my writing.

When I have a moment of peace, and am not distracted by the varied wildlife currently taking up residence in my garden and the field beyond, I write novels or posts on my blog as well as producing occasional videos about writing on my Facebook page.  I have…

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To Be or To Do? That is the Question.

I read an article by Richard Branson. It took the form of an open letter in which he invited his readers to cultivate happiness and claimed he isn’t happy because he’s successful, wealthy and connected – but is successful, wealthy and connected because he’s happy. Now, while I’m not convinced that’s always the order of things, I do believe being a happy person can draw a measure of success to you.

Quoting Branson: “So many people get caught up in doing what they think will make them happy but, in my opinion, this is where they fail. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being. In order to be happy, you need to think consciously about it. Don’t forget the to-do list, but remember to write a to-be list too. If you allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment, happiness will follow. Because allowing yourself just to be, puts things into perspective. Try it. Be still. Be present.”

Now, while that’s a lovely sentiment, it’s also the words of a very rich, successful man. These words may be harder to apply if you are poor and hungry and struggling to feed your kids. Too many people have to do two, three or more jobs just to keep a roof over their family’s head and food in their bellies. The idea of stopping to ‘be in the moment’ may be foreign to them.

We are created, not just to be, but also to do. When created, mankind were given the mandate to subdue and cultivate the earth, to extend the borders of paradise. And they were promised happiness while doing it. They disobeyed and it all went terribly wrong, but there is still happiness in hard work. It hasn’t altered the fact we were created to do, not just to be. The secret is to find the balance.

There’s something about the satisfaction of working hard, of putting that food on the table, of keeping that roof over your head: the feel-good factor.

To put it simplistically: Working to feed your family raises self-respect. Working to make your fortune raises expectations, followed by disappointment when reality fails to match them. Working for the sake of working raises stress levels – and perhaps that’s what Branson meant. If work is for the sake of it, or for the goal of success and fortune, it might be time to take his advice and take that moment.

I particularly like part of his conclusion: “Happiness shouldn’t be a goal, it should be a habit. Take the focus off doing, and start being every day. Allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment. Take the focus off everything you think you need to do, and start being.”

After reading the article, I spent quite a bit of time sitting in the garden, in the sunshine, just being. I took the moment, I appreciated the moment, I took the focus off everything I thought I should be doing and just let myself relax and be present in my life. It felt good. A feeling I often have because it’s something I often do. I’m blessed in that I don’t have to do multiple jobs to feed my family. I don’t have to work all day until I’m exhausted. I have time to take my moments. And I’m grateful for that.

In one of those moments, I got to thinking about all the opportunities I have and take to actually be present in my life, and realised they are many. Every morning, I stand at my bedroom window, look out at the day and say thank you for it and for my life. I am happy. Often, later in the day, I pause in whatever I am doing to take a thankfulness walk around the garden. Because I’m happy. Before I eat, I pause to say thank you for my food and think about how blessed I am to have it. And there are many other times during the day when I am consciously ‘present’ in my life. And consciously happy. But more often than not, it’s not because I’m just being, but because I’m busy doing.

One of the things I like to be busy doing is writing. I love writing. I find it satisfying work. It may not ever take me rich and famous, but it does make me happy.

Thinking about my writing, I realise that I gave Rosanna, the main character in Gold Plated, satisfying work to do, and it made her happy. Her painting and her dressmaking are not just hobbies: there have been times in her life when she has earned from them. And she has been happy and fulfilled doing so. But I also gave her ‘a moment’ here and there too. Let her tell you about one of them:

~~~

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The walk down to the little wooden jetty I can see ahead of me is glorious. A few steps from the cabin, the path becomes dappled with the shade of the many trees beside it, their leaves having already covered it in gold. I love the scrunch of them under my boots. The only other sound is of the many birds who live in those trees. Or perhaps they’re visiting, like me.

There is a rich, musty smell. An earthy smell, mixed with warmth trapped by the canopy of trees. A faint rustling of woodland creatures scampering for cover as I invade their territory. I step with a light tread, having no desire to disturb them.

I’ve tried to imagine the joy, the luxury of sitting by the banks of some stream or loch, lost in thought, with nowhere else to be, nothing else to do, and, while I could see how that could be welcome if you were a particularly busy person in your day-to-day life, I could never see how it would be different from my day-to-day life, where I am pretty much left to my own devices much of the time.

But it is different. The air smells different. Laden with wafts of wet vegetation, rich earth, sunshine and water. If asked, I would not have thought water has a smell, but it does. When it’s an open loch of fresh, sparkling water, it smells of all good things, tingling my nostrils and making me smile. I close my eyes and fill my lungs with it.

The sound of the water lapping against the wood of the jetty, the sparkle of the sun on water, the feel of the air, fresh and cool on my face, the need for patience and stillness – both qualities come easily to me – it is all wonderful, peaceful, satisfying. I thought I’d do a lot of thinking, but I find I don’t. Not the thinking I need to do, anyway. Instead, I allow my mind to wander across the loch to ramble in the fir trees on the opposite bank. I can make out a wee track going through them and climbing the hill behind, and I imagine myself walking there, scrambling up the hill to look over the top. As is the way in Scotland, there’ll be more hills beyond the ones I can see, layer upon layer of heather-clad slopes. Easy to get lost without a map or a compass, just as I am lost in my personal life – without map or compass. Right now, it’s pleasant to let my mind drift on the wind, caring nothing about being lost. Time enough to find the right path home.

~~~

Gold Plated is available now on Amazon Kindle and will be available soon in paperback.

~~~

Where and when do you find time to just be? To cultivate happiness?

I have to say, I enjoyed the few minutes I took after reading that article.

Then I took three deep breaths, savoured happiness for another few moments before getting back to the housework and my writing – things I not only needed, but also wanted to do. Because they make me happy.

~~~

Life in Fiction

Writers, what do your characters DO? When they’re not catching criminals, falling in love, crossing the ocean or solving mysteries, what to they do?

Readers, have you ever thought outside the book? Have you ever wondered what the characters you’ve come to know and love do when they’re not cavorting across the pages of your books?

Or have you, the author, told your readers already? Have you included the characters hobbies and interests as part of their story, part of revealing their character? Because, let’s face it, we all do something in our spare time, even if it’s sitting in front of the tv, or falling asleep on the couch. Our interests and hobbies tell a lot about us.

If someone tells you they like to go scuba diving and hillwalking, you quickly get the impression they are pretty active, energetic, out-doorsy. If they say they like to go fishing, taking the dog for a walk in the park, doing a bit of gardening, you’ll think of them as a little less adventurous but still active and still enjoy being in the fresh air. What about stamp collecting, video-gaming, knitting, reading – quieter pursuits? Perhaps they’re altogether quieter and prefer to be indoors.

Sometimes you meet someone who likes a real mixture of all of the above. Maybe most of the people you know like doing a good mix of things.

But, whatever it is they do, it can shape how they live their lives. It dictates how they use their time, how they spend their money, how much they interact with other people.

As writers, if we want to make our characters live on the page, if we want our readers to identify with them, feel they know them, almost expect to bump into them on the street, then we need to think about what our characters do when they’re not rushing about through the main plot of the story. We might only allude to it in passing, or we might build the story round it. Either way, it can enhance our writing to give our characters a hobby, an interest, a passion.

As readers, do you find it helps you identify with the character who enjoys gardening, as you do? Or who scuba dives like you’d like to? Who horse rides? Or who plays video games? Or knits? Or sews?

In my latest release, Gold Plated, my main character, Rosanna, loves to paint, to design clothes and to make them. She’s enjoyed these pursuits since she was a young girl.

Can you imagine her lying on the grass in her mother’s garden, sketching the shrubs and trees, painting the flowers? Or sitting at the patio table taking inspiration from the colours and shapes of the flowers for the next dress she intends to design and make?

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What about now she’s older? Can you picture her sitting in her conservatory, looking out at her garden, still allowing nature to inspire the dresses she designs

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What does her interest in such a pursuit, and the fact it has been the interest of a lifetime, tell you about her? She’s turned seventy now and it’s still her passion. Does that help you picture her?

Perhaps if she tells you about the dress she’s designed and made for her Golden Wedding Anniversary party:

“The dress I’m going to wear tonight is hidden in the wardrobe till later. I want it to be a surprise for Paul. He hasn’t seen it yet and has no idea of the peaceful hours I’ve spent sewing while he’s been out and about. It makes me smile every time I open the wardrobe door, push aside the things it hides behind, and see my handiwork hanging there. Inspired by the pale, creamy-yellow, woodland primroses that bloom in our garden every spring, designed and fashioned over the summer months after their faded beauty folded and faded further, it has been such a delight to make. Impossible to improve on nature, all I could do was allow the delicate flowers to inform my eye and guide my hand as I sketched and painted, desiring to capture the essence of their beauty in the spring to infuse into my work in the summer.
The chiffon material I sought out is gossamer thin and beautiful, the colour soft as sunshine on a misty day, and the dress slips over my still-trim figure in flattering, floaty, fluted layers to just below my knees.
Being so fine, it is one of the most difficult materials I have ever worked with, but worth every painstaking moment of the hours and days it took to cut and sew. Even the buttery silk lining had to be handled gently. Never have I worked so slowly and never have I been so rewarded for my care.
My fingers melt with pleasure as they linger on the fabric, and I long to feel my creation slip over my body to caress my skin.
I thrill with contented anticipation.”

~~~

Rosanna and Paul are celebrating fifty years of marriage.

Their daughter, Heather, has helped plan their Golden Wedding Anniversary party, and it looks like being a wonderful night: sixties music, all their friends and family present, and Rosanna has bought the perfect golden gift for Paul.

What could possibly go wrong?

When an uninvited guest shows up, Rosanna’s world is shaken and she is forced to look back over their fifty golden years and see them as they were.

Were they golden? Or just gold-plated?

Gold Plated is available right now on Amazon Kindle. You can read it FREE if you have Amazon Prime. And the paperback will be published in a few weeks.

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Click here to buy Gold Plated on Amazon Kindle

Give yourself a treat!

Enjoy!

Music in My Fiction

Music in Fiction

Last year, I wrote a series of guest blogposts about Music in Fiction, in which we discussed books that featured or mentioned music as part of the story.

There are many devices writers can use to help bring our writing to life. In that short series of articles, published on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s blog, I took a fairly light-hearted look at just one of them.

Music.

Music plays a large part in Gold Plated, my latest release – in particular, the music of the sixties, and I’ve included a playlist at the end of the novel, with links to YouTube videos of the original versions of some of the songs I’ve referenced.

The story begins with Rosanna and her daughter, Heather, meeting up to continue planning Rosanna’s Golden Wedding Anniversary party. As she wanders through the garden centre on her way to meet Heather, her own version of a popular song from her youth runs through Rosanna’s head:

~~~

When a third stranger smiles at me, the realisation dawns not only am I humming an adapted version of Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit, It’s My Party, as I meander among the flower beds, but also, I sport a silly grin – and the blush of embarrassment that follows the realisation. But I can’t help myself.

There’s a party in the offing and, for a change, the butterflies fluttering about in my chest have gossamer wings rather than tackety boots. I’m not often a party-person, being more comfortable as a wallflower than a poppy, but …

“It’s Paul’s party and I’ll smile if I want to, smile if I want to, smile if I want to. You would smile too, if it happened to you.”

~~~

It’s My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To – Lesley Gore – 1963

Gold Plated is now available on Amazon Kindle – paperback will follow shortly.

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Click to buy Gold Plated

If you’d like to read the series I wrote about Music in Fiction, click here.

Enjoy!

 

Gold Plated

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http://mybook.to/GoldPlated

We were walking on the beach in Embo in the North of Scotland, September 2016.

Often, walking together is a great time to chat, sharing thoughts and dreams, decisions and schemes, but today we were silent. There was a heavy mist on the North Sea and the horizon was hiding, taking our words with it. There was something about the haar: it silenced birds, the wind, the whisper of long grass as well as our words – but it couldn’t silence the continuous rolling waves as they broke onto the beach – and it couldn’t silence our thoughts.

Often, thoughts would tumble out of our silence and we would share them. There was no reason not to today – yet we didn’t. We were enjoying a world shrouded in a soft, white veil, from which rays of sunshine struggled to break free while the sea, ruthless, relentless, ripped through to crash on the shore.

I didn’t ask what my lovely hubby was thinking, but concentrated on the story that was forming in my mind.

We were here on vacation with our family and there, set like a pearl in the middle of the two weeks, was our anniversary. Forty-nine years of married bliss.

But that’s never true, is it?

No-one is perfect, so no two imperfect people can forge a perfect marriage – not even us. We’d had ups and downs – never ins and outs – and some years were better than others – but we’d never not wanted to be married to one another.

Our children asked how we wanted to celebrate our 50 years of marriage next year, our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

I got to thinking about it. What did we want? What would we do? What were the children plotting? We told them, ‘Nothing much. Nothing expensive, no silly gold ornaments that we don’t need, golden gifts that we’ll never use. It would be nice just to be together.’

The conversation still swirled in my mind as my husband and I walked in our misty, magical silence. 

Then, in a sudden rush of gold, the sun won the struggle to light the world, compelling us to pause to take a few photographs.

I stood at the water’s edge.

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Wave after wave of water rolling in, breaking with cold white froth over the landscape of the beach – year after year of life rolling in, breaking with warm love over the landscape of our marriage.

But what if?

What if it had been different?

So I wrote a story about a love that spanned more than fifty years.

Or did it?

Rosanna and Paul are celebrating fifty years of marriage.

Their daughter, Heather, has helped plan their Golden Wedding Anniversary party, and it looks like being a wonderful night: sixties music, all their friends and family present, and Rosanna has bought the perfect golden gift for Paul. What could possibly go wrong?

When an uninvited guest shows up, Rosanna’s world is shaken and she is forced to look back over their fifty golden years and see them as they were.

Were they golden? Or just gold-plated?

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Gold Plated is with the publisher now so the paperback should be launched soon. Meantime, it’s already available on Amazon Kindle.

The Death of an Inspiration

From time to time, I’m asked if my work is inspired by other writers, and I usually list several authors whose work I admire. Anita Shreve is high on that list. I love her books and was saddened by her death on 29 March from the cancer she’d been fighting for a while. So sad to lose such a fine novelist so young, only 71 – not old these days.

She was a wife, a mother and a grandmother as well as a teacher, journalist, non-fiction writer, and a novelist. She may have worn other hats for all I know, but these are the ones I know of. She was a reclusive writer though there are a few radio, tv and newspaper interviews you could delve into.

Anita Shreve wrote eighteen novels, most of which I have had the pleasure of reading. I am sad that there will be no more because her books are all so beautifully written, so well plotted and crafted. I learned a lot about how to write a novel from reading hers.

 

 

 

 

Dancing in Drumnadrochit


On a writers’ week up in the North of Scotland with our writing group, we were doing a work session broken down into 30 minute pomodoros, timed on my phone. Every time the session ended and the timer went off, this seemed to happen! Toilet paper flowers in my hair á la Mirabelle, the MC of The Reluctant Detective series.

The following excerpt of Searching for Summer should help to explain the allusion.

Having promised her daughter a treat and promised she’d get back from work in time to enjoy it with her, Mirabelle is late, as usual, and discovers her daughter, Summer isn’t home. Having looked in every room, including ridiculous places …

… she sets about decorating the flat, stringing toilet paper across the rooms, draping it over the many pictures, round the sagging sofa, round the mis-matched comfy chairs, a big soft bow finishing it off on each one. She made a huge toilet paper flower and stuck it on the lid of the toilet cistern. Dancing to the reggae music she’d put on the CD player, she gyrated to her bedroom and back, lipstick in hand, to write ‘Well Done!’ and ‘Congratulations!’ on the mirror, on the fridge, even across the doors, with no thought as to how it would be removed tomorrow.
“Party dress,” she decided, searching through her chest of drawers, scattering underwear, socks, scarves and gloves around her like the flutter of autumn leaves. Finding what she knew was buried in the depths of one of the drawers, she threw the bright pink feather boa round her neck on top of the strings of beads she already wore, made some soft, floppy toilet paper flowers, clipping them into the tight curls of her black hair, and added some more bangles to the ones already jingling on her wrists.
Dancing through to the kitchen, she dug out a box of little flower candles, designed to float on a lake in a bowl, and sat them on top of a sponge cake from the freezer, unable to resist scooping some of the frozen cream from between its layers with her finger. It felt icy on her teeth, sweet on her tongue.
Confident Summer would be accepted at Edinburgh University, she had bought an iPad thingy from a catalogue and it had been delivered, wrapped and hidden days ago. She brought it out and gave it centre stage on the kitchen table in front of the cake, sweeping the resident clutter off onto a chair from which most of it cascaded onto the floor.
There were some sparklers in the drawer beside the matches and she stuck them in the cake, ready to light at the first sound or sight of Summer.
“She’s gonna love this,” Mirabelle sang, her finger scooping out more cream. “She’s gonna love it.”
She looked at the clock. Half-past nine. The film would be over by now. The cinema was only at the top of the road. She draped herself in the deep, old armchair they kept in the kitchen, turning it so she could see the look of delight on Summer’s face as she came through the door.

http://mybook.to/SearchingforSummer

 

 

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