The Importance of Being a Reader

When asked the question, “Is reading important in your life?” my experience is that many people say they enjoy reading but it doesn’t play that big a part in their day to day life. Some only find time to read when they are on holiday, some while travelling. And there are those who derive little or no pleasure from reading. I’ve even come across people who profess they’d love to write a novel but they’ve rarely or never read one!

I’m aghast at this latter category because it’s a bit like saying you want to bake a cake without ever having tasted one and without a recipe to follow. “But I have this great idea for a wedding cake. I mean, how hard can it be to throw a few ingredients in a bowl, give them a bit of a mix, pour the mixture in a tin and pop it in the oven for ten minutes or so?” Aaaaargh!!! I’m sure there will be bakers all over the world throwing their recipe books in the air at the thought.

Yet there are books being produced by the dozens with less preparation and by people who it would seem have never read a book in their lives, if the grammar, spelling and construction are anything to go by. “But I have this great idea for a story. I mean, how hard can it be to scribble it down, type it up, slap a cover on it and upload it on the net.”

Like the potential wedding cake maker, who’s seen the end result, can measure, mix and heat things in the oven – has even had a nibble of a finished cake – our potential novelist has seen books on the shelves in the supermarket, learned how to put pen to paper in school, can even type with one finger, may even have read the blurb on the back of the book of the film of…

I say again, “Aaaaarrrrgh!!!”

So, to rephrase the question, how important is reading in a writer’s life?

I’d like to put it to you, that reading widely is the first step of many in learning how to write and how to write better.

Hills of the Dead End – Remembering Patrick MacGill

When researching for the historic strand of the contemporary novel I am writing, I came upon this blog post and found it very interesting and beautifully written by Cameron McNeish. It gives a great taste of the subject matter I will be exploring in my novel. Having also read Patrick MacGill’s novel, Children of the Dead End, as part of my research, I find myself deeply respecting the men who built the Blackwater Dam, for their bravery and courage and incredible ability to work in the conditions they endured.

CAMERON McNEISH, Writer & Television Presenter

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The poignant Blackwater Dam graveyard

IT was one of the most poignant destinations of any route I’ve walked. We had tramped from the Kinlochleven side of the dramatically named Devil’s Staircase and then dropped down alongside a water pipeline that ran from the Blackwater Reservoir high above the birch banks of the River Leven. There was a sheen of newly minted green on the trees and the sky was blue. Spring was turning to summer and birdsong, especially that of the ebullient skylark, filled the air. It was hard to imagine the desolation, the strife and the sheer pathos of the industrial scene that dominated this landscape a hundred years before.

In the distance a long, low wall ran across the horizon, the line of the Blackwater Dam, and as we approached it a dumpy, drumlin-like hillock took our attention. Fifty metres from the track and pipeline a wooden fence…

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How to Support an Author – and get a Free Signed Copy of a Novel

Do you like a challenge? For some, January is a month they enjoy challenging themselves to start a training regime, a dietary regime or tackle their New Year resolutions list. Oooh! I love a good list – though I tend not to go for the New Year resolution list, since, for me, it’s an invitation to failure and I don’t believe in reinforcing failure. I prefer to think positively, ‘This coming year, I’m going to try harder and get better all round.’ And that includes my reading and reviewing habits.

Do you enjoy a good book? At this time of the year, most folks have some time off and this is traditionally a time for enjoying family, fun and relaxation. For lots of us, that means getting time and opportunity to read.

Luxury.

But do we ever spare a thought for the authors of the books we enjoy? How could we make their holiday happy too?

I came across a post on FaceBook by blogger ShaylaRaquel.com,  where she suggested 31 ways to support authors in January. She offered this printable PDF which I’ve reproduced here.

It seems a pretty good list to me and I’m sure there are many authors like me who would turn cartwheels in the snow if someone would support them to that extent. In fact, most of us would settle for half that list. Or quarter. In fact, any and all support is welcomed by any author, so I intend to try harder to support other authors by reading and reviewing their books. For that reason, I was delighted to come across this list of 31 suggestions how I might do so.

I’ve copied it here to help you see there are many ways, 31 on this list, you might support your favourite authors if you are up for the challenge.

If I happen to be one of your favourites, or if you’d like to find out if I could be, here’s the link to my Amazon author page to get you started, since top of the list is ‘Buy their e-book.’ Since all my novels are available also in paperback, you might prefer to jump to number 7, 9 or 15 to start you off. The same link will take you to where you can buy the paperbacks.

If you tell me in the comments when you’ve bought one of my novels in either format and posted a review on Amazon, I’ll pop your name in a hat and pick a random reader to send a free signed copy of one of my novels.

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Would you like me to Read you a Story?

When our children were young, they loved their dad to read to them and I loved to listen in because he had a great way of making the written words come alive. When they were older, the fact they could read for themselves didn’t mar their enjoyment.  I took the  time and opportunity to study what it was about his reading that was so special, and I think it was to do with the fact that, while he respected the written word, he also knew when to take liberties with it in order to entertain.

Maybe you’ll permit me to entertain you for a few minutes as I read the first section of my latest novel. I don’t claim to have my husband’s skill in this matter, but I’ll do my best.

For What it’s Worth is contemporary women’s fiction.
It is not part of The Reluctant Detective Series by the same author, but it is a spin off where Mirabelle has a part to play but in a supporting role rather than the main character.
This is a stand-alone novel and while readers who enjoyed the earlier series might be keen to find out what Mirabelle has been up to, the main storyline concentrates on Yvonne and her husband Hugh and explores themes familiar to many young thirty-something couples when they decide it’s time to expand their family.

For What it’s Worth can be bought on Amazon as a paperback or ebook as can other novels by the same author.

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Making a Book Cover

Who would have thought from all the fun and nonsense we had that day, we could manage to get a new book cover? 😀

Writing a novel is only one part of the process of producing a novel. There are many other parts to the process, including designing a cover.

And there are many parts to designing a cover, including, in this instance, setting up a photo shoot in the garden with one of my sons and his wife. While one of my sons-in-law set up the camera, they couldn’t resist fooling around so it all turned into great fun. Happy memories 😀

With the resulting book cover completed by the photographer, our own Tim Pow of Pow Productions, here it is, the release of my new novel, For What it’s Worth.

For What It's Worth Final

So what’s the story?

Yvonne’s biological alarm tells her it’s time to start a family before she’s past her prime, but first her husband, Hugh, must find a job. But will any job do?
When Hugh seems to be taking his time to find one, Yvonne finds one for him, but is it the right job? Will it cause more stress when she is already juggling two jobs herself and is trying to hold on to their flat?
When things start to go wrong, Yvonne finds herself facing a choice no woman should ever have to – her marriage or a baby.
When she met Hugh, Yvonne was working as an Edinburgh tour guide, so she knows the city well and has a great fondness for it, taking us to some of her favourite places as she tries to work out what the important things in her life are worth: her dreams, her plans – and her marriage.
For What it’s Worth is contemporary women’s fiction with more than a touch of romance, seasoned with a sprinkling of humour, a spot of drama and a splash of tears.
It is not part of The Reluctant Detective Series by the same author, but it is a spin off where we get to know Mirabelle’s sister, Yvonne, better. Mirabelle has a part to play in For What it’s Worth, but in a supporting role rather than the main character.
Although it is a stand-alone novel, those readers who have enjoyed the earlier series will no doubt enjoy being reacquainted with so many of the characters and finding out what Mirabelle has been up to since finding Summer, but the main storyline concentrates on Yvonne and her husband Hugh and explores themes familiar to many young thirty-something couples when they decide it’s time to expand their family.
Life is complicated, love is complicated, must our dreams be complicated too?

Like all Christine Campbell novels, For What it’s Worth is available both as paperback and eBook on Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, FeedaRead.com and can be ordered in bookshops.

Enjoy!

There’s Only One Rule About Back to School…

…but it’s a biggie!

One of my sons asked me to look out a photograph from when he started school. He’s all grown up now and it’s been a while since I last saw that particular photo so I had to go digging through the zillions of photographs we’ve gathered over the many years of our family history.

We have a family WhatsApp group and I started posting various photographs I thought would give the kids a laugh, ending up with a whole raft of them and a lot of fun and laughing emoticons. What treasure my afternoon’s digging unearthed.

From the sublime…

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…to the ridiculous!

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…and many in between…

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It was a real nostalgia trip – which brings me to

The One Rule About Back to School

Treasure it.

Treasure everything about it. It’s so quickly gone. One day, you’re sobbing as you watch them go through the school gate for the first time, the next, they’re all grown up and married and you’re comforting them as their little ones go off for their first day of school.

I remember my first day. I got into trouble for talking. Now there’s a surprise!

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That’s me, second from the left in the first row (on the bench), proud in my school blazer, squinting myopically at the camera. I don’t remember being told not to smile 🙂

What about you? Do you have memories of that eventful day in your life? You might even be in that photo with me 🙂

Why not share your memories in the comments – photos too, if you’ve got them.

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Music and Drama in Writing

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Yep! That’s what’s happening right now in my WIP. And I can’t get the song out of my head! It’s an old one, from the sixties when part of the book is set, and though there have been more recent covers of it, I’ve been using the original – You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore – since that’s what my character would have listened to at the time.

The novel I’m working on is called Gold Plated and the main character, Rosanna, is remembering being eighteen in the late sixties and being let down in love. She goes home to her mother to be looked after while she gets over the break up.

‘My mother knows straight away that something is wrong when I arrive home late that evening, but I tell her I don’t want to talk about it. Wise woman that she is, she leaves me in peace that night and for the first few days I’m home. Days when I hardly leave my room. Days when I don’t get out of bed, or don’t dress if I do. I leave my room only to go to the bathroom or to return the tray Mum so kindly brings up at regular intervals with some tasty treat or other on it along with a warm drink and a loving smile.
I dig out my records and play a series of heartbreak songs, followed by a series of angry songs, ending up with playing Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me over and over again, convincing myself it was I who set myself free from the hold of his caresses and whispered endearments. He had my heart in his hands and he couldn’t let me go, so I had struggled free.
Most of the words don’t fit my situation, but there is something in the tone of the song, something in its power that resonates with me.
It is an unusual choice to become my anthem in that I am not often roused to great passion. I am not someone given to temper tantrums or dramatic outbursts, nor do I let anger simmer dangerously inside me. My default position is to accept the inevitable, in whatever form it takes, and get on with things.’

So I’ve been playing this track over and over while I’ve been writing and it’s time to move on to another scene, but the song lingers in my head as I write, keeping the mood, holding on to the anger, the hurt, the angst.

Do you remember the original Lesley Gore version? Or Dusty Springfield’s from a few years later? Among other versions, there is a recent one by a singer called Grace. Perhaps you’ve heard that one.

As a reader, do you find it helpful to listen to music that’s mentioned in a book? As a writer, do you like to use music in your writing? For me, the answer is a resounding, ‘Yes!’ on both counts.

#sixtiespopmusic #novel #amwriting #amediting #contemporarywomensfiction

Hope you enjoy the track and do share your thoughts. I’d love to read them.

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If you are interested to read any of my novels, here is the link to my Amazon Author page, where you will find details of the seven novels already published both as paperback books and on Amazon Kindle. They are all Contemporary Women’s Fiction and are clean reads, as in no swearing, sex or violence. #CleanIndieReads #CR4U

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Dialogue Tags – Again #wwwblogs #writingtips #amwriting

Great reminder about dialogue tags: what they are, the work they do, and when they are needed – or not.

Alison Williams Writing

writing-dialogue

This is a subject I’ve written about several times in the past, but it is an issue I keep coming back to, time and time again.

I’m a huge fan of self-publishing and of independent authors. I’ve read some absolutely amazing books by indie authors and have worked with some amazing authors that have self-published. There are so many great indie authors out there and many that are as good as, if not better than, traditionally published authors.

However, one thing that sets apart the majority of (but by no means all) traditionally published authors from some self-published authors and authors published by small presses is the proliferation of complicated dialogue tags in the work of the latter two. Now, I’m not saying it’s all indie authors that do this, but there is a lot of it about, and it’s usually a sign of an author who hasn’t had their…

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5 Facts You may not have Known…

…about Family Matters, the first book I ever published.

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  1. Its inspiration
  2. What it’s about
  3. How long it took to write
  4. Its reviews
  5. Its revamp

1. The inspiration for this book came from a ‘what if …’ chain of thought. What if you had been abandoned and wanted to find the person who had walked out of your life. Where would you start? How would you go about it?
When I wrote the first draft, I had fresh in my mind how I had traced my birth father – and that had started my fascination with searching for those who are lost to us for whatever reason.

2. This is the blurb on the back of the book,

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but let me tell you more about Family Matters:

David, the main character’s son, searched for his father as I had searched for mine. Unlike me, he had memories of his father and missed him. Sarah, the main character didn’t particularly want to find her missing husband, but she wanted to know where he’d been for eleven years, why he’d gone, and what he’d been doing. Well, wouldn’t you?

Family Matters and all of my other published books are called ‘clean reads’ because they have no sex scenes, no swearing and no gratuitous violence.

3. It took me years to write this novel, not because it was difficult to write, but because I still had my family at home to care for and allowed getting on with life to put my writing into a position of low priority. I suspect that’s what many writer-mums do.

Once I had written, edited, had it beta read, edited, had it proofread and polished, it still took me a while to pluck up the courage to publish, first as a paperback in 2008, then on Amazon Kindle in 2013. It took me those years to believe that digital books would really catch on 🙂 To be honest, it still freaks me out that some of my readers read my books on their phones while they commute to work. Amazing how far technology has advanced in the last few decades.

4. Happily, once I was brave enough to publish Family Matters, it was well received. I don’t think I breathed properly until the first few letters, emails, cards and reviews started to come in. I have a box where I keep the treasure that is the cards and letters I have received about my books over the years, mostly from people I’ve never met. Heartwarming is the word that describes the feeling every time a new one comes in. And what of the Amazon reviews? Again, heartwarming, thrilling, exciting!

“Strong, sensitive, well observed and tender – I had to read this cover to cover as I couldn’t put it down.”

“With it’s many twists , the story touches your heart as it takes you through a mother’s guilt and pain of losing her child. It has many happy scenes about family life that brought back memories of my own childhood. Family Matters is a book that teaches you how much family matters!”

“It felt like a breath of fresh air to read a story set before it was possible to locate someone at the click of a mouse. Sarah turns detective to try and find out what happened to David, and, as David did before her, uses the good old-fashioned telephone directory and records kept on microfiche. Her research leads her to locate long-lost family members, and she uncovers far more than she’d bargained for.”

#missingpersons #familymatters #amazonkindle #mustread #novels #paperback #familyrelationships 

5. Lastly, let me tell you about the revamp of Family Matters. I decided to update the cover to the one at the top of the post, and correct the few typos etc. that had been discovered since the book was first published. Thinking I might want to make a few changes in the story, I set out to edit my way through the whole book again. I did make a few small changes, but, much to my surprise and delight, I found I still enjoyed the story I had written. 🙂 I hope you do too.

Are you like me? When I consider buying a book I like to examine the cover, read the blurb on the back and the first page. So here it is for you, the first page of Family Matters:

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I hope that has whetted your appetite. Family Matters can be purchased as a paperback or a digital book.

Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, and other similar outlets.

It can also be ordered in any bookstore or from FeedaRead.com

Enjoy!

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101 Names to Conjure With

3D CC Promo Visual

These are my published novels. Don’t you just love the covers?

I’m looking forward to showing you the cover to the next novel, called For What it’s Worth, which will be coming soon. I’ve done the writing, the rewriting, the editing, the proofreading, the polishing, the cover is underway, and it’s almost ready to go to the publisher. Yay!

So what’s next, you may well ask. And I’ll tell you.

My next WIP is called Gold Plated. I completed the first draft some time ago and am about to embark on the second draft. This is the time when my mind keeps going back to the story and the characters. I’ve let it marinate for a few months, since November actually. It was my November 2016 NaNoWriMo novel, so it has marinated for almost eight months and it’s started to bubble up into my consciousness again.

During the writing of the first draft, I became unhappy with the name I had chosen for one of my characters, and I am ready to think about what she should be called instead. She’s not a Rose or a Violet, nor is she a Tabitha or a Geraldine. Because she is my character, created in my imagination, I can call her whatever I want to, but I’d like it to be a name that fits her and the story.

She is a feisty, Scottish lady in her early fifties, but she was named by her much gentler, artistic mother. If you stop and think about it, a mother has no idea at all what her child will turn out like, so she can hardly choose a name that will describe that child’s nature as she grows and matures. It’s a fortunate coincidence when the name happens to fit in real life, an easier thing to pull off by the creator of fiction. So am I looking for a name a gentle, artistic soul might name her daughter, but that actually suits the daughter’s stronger, feisty nature? Or might it be fun if it turns out the mother chose a name that really doesn’t suit at all? Any thoughts?

I put this question to a group of FaceBook friends, and we had a lot of fun with their suggestions. I must have at least 101 names to conjure with, and a short list that’s not much shorter. I wondered if you’d care to join the fun and help me out at the same time.

Just tell me in the comments what you think would be a flowery, artistic name that a feisty, fiery lady would love or hate to be called. Either way, it will be fun to get your suggestions. They may add to my shortlist or help me whittle it down. Who knows, you may be the one who comes up with the name I settle on.

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To read more about, or buy any of  my published books:

Please click the link to

Christine Campbell Amazon Author page

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