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!

Six Ways to find out Who You Are

 

Are you working hard to make a living, keep on top of the housework, care for your kids, spend time with your significant other? Do you fall into bed exhausted, get up and start it all again the next day?

If you don’t mind me asking, ‘Who are you?’ ‘Do you know?’

Have the years flown so swiftly, you have trouble knowing how old you are never mind who you are? I love the old joke about the kid who suggested her aunt could find out what age she was by checking the label in her knickers. According to mine, I’m 12-14!

It’s so easy to lose sight of who we are. Not our name, nor our designation, but who we are as a person: how we feel;  what we think; what’s important to us, and how to show these things in the way we live our life. It can get buried under layers of ‘doing’ instead of ‘being’.

Sometimes we try to be the person someone else wants us to be. Or we might rebel and become someone we don’t want to be rather than conform to type. Either way, we’re not being our true self.

So, if you feel you’ve kinda lost the real you, that inner person you’d like to get to know, here are my suggestions for finding out who you are:

1. Ask someone else. The trouble with that is a) they may only tell you what they think you want to hear, and that may or may not be helpful, or b) they may tell you what you really don’t want to hear, loaded with criticism and complaints.

2. Look yourself up in ‘Who’s Who?’ This method may work if you’re reasonably famous but pretty useless if you’re not. If you happen to be listed there, it will tell you your parentage, your accomplishments and what job you currently hold – but you probably know them already since you probably compiled the listing. What it won’t tell you is who you really are – that elusive real you that you’ve lost sight of.

3. Google yourself. This will give you similar results to number 2 above – except possibly not the parentage bit and stuff like that. You’re unlikely to find out anything you didn’t already know about yourself.

4. Do quizzes in women’s magazines; read books about what you should wear – what colours, what styles depending on your colouring or body shape; watch tv programmes about such subjects too. Interesting, a little more illuminating, but still only superficial.

5. Complete personality profiling questionnaires. Ah, now we’re getting somewhere! At least they look deeper than the colour of your hair, your eyes or your skin. You can find out if you are an introvert or an extrovert, shy or confident. But, the answers will only be as accurate as you want them to be. Why do I say that? Well, because you are the one filling out the questionnaire. Your answers will be skewed by your experiences in life. Were you constantly shamed for being ‘too loud’? That’s surely going to affect how you answer the questions relating to whether you’re introvert or extrovert.

So this is where it gets interesting for me.

I found a profiling system that does not rely on questionnaires or colours. It is based on facial profiling and energy profiling – your basic bone structure and related facial characteristics, as well as how you move through life – areas that remain almost totally unaffected by the circumstances of our life.

6. Energy Profiling: Now, I could write paragraph after paragraph explaining this method of finding yourself, but I’d never manage to do it as well as its promotor, Carol Tuttle does when she says, “My gift is to help you see and love who you really are. Many resources can help you find yourself. But as a pioneer in personal development over 20 years, I’ve seen that Energy Profiling is the clearest, most practical way to transform your relationships, family, and life.”

In this profiling system it is explained that there are four types of energy and, although we embody all four, we each lead with one predominant energy. So which of the 4 Energy Types are you? If you’re interested to find out, here’s a link to Carol Tuttle’s Free Energy Profiling course. I can highly recommend it. It’s illuminating and helpful.

Perhaps it’s time for you to find out who you really are.

~~~

Tunnel Vision

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I’ve just emerged from a tunnel and I’m blinking in the light.

Goodness, what a lot I have neglected!

I see it now.

But I was quite happily engrossed in my tunnel until it came to an end.

It wasn’t the kind of tunnel that plunges you into total darkness. More like a tree tunnel, with light getting through but no way to see beyond the trees to what’s going on outside. You know the kind, I’m sure. A pleasant tunnel to be in.

I’ve had tunnel vision before. It happens with irregular regularity, each time I’m engaged in writing a novel. Because I am in the habit of writing every day, it’s been quite some time since I suffered from writers’ block – if I ever truly did. Most times, I think the trouble was that I was out of the way of writing, my writing muscles were sleepy and had to be prodded awake each time I felt like adding to my word count, and that was much harder when it had been a long time since I wrote.

Having said that, a few years ago I didn’t write anything other than the occasional blog post for almost a year after my mother died. It had been a traumatic time – not just because she died, but more to do with other things that happened around her death – and I went into a very different tunnel for quite some time – a long dark one that blotted out the sun and most of the joy it can bring. When I emerged from that tunnel, it took me a long time to adjust and I found that my creativity had all but dried up.

I was recently reminded of a blog post I wrote about what helped get me writing again after one such longish phase of losing my creativity. You can read it here if you choose.

When I’m reading a good book I get tunnel vision too. You know that way, when you can’t put a book down and you read well into the night in order to finish it, then you close your eyes and can’t stop thinking about it for ages. When you finally open your eyes and look around, you blink in the light. You realise life has gone on while you were happily in that pleasant tunnel with the book.

I had a lovely review for Rusty Gold just recently when that seems to have happened to one of my readers:

“I really enjoyed the Rusty gold series. I just couldn’t put the 3rd book down. I was desperate to see how it ended so was stirring the soup with the book in my hand! Off to bed early to read in peace and quiet and, of course ,when it was finished I wished that I had made it last longer. Now, that is the sign of a really good read. It would make a great T.V. series. How good would that be?” ~ Barbara R.

Needless to say, it’s very encouraging to receive reviews like that. It always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and I can’t thank my readers enough for them. If ever I meet one such reader, I’ll give her the hugest of hugs.

So, you know what I’m talking about – that kind of tunnel vision.

And, like I said, I’ve just emerged from such a tunnel.

I’ve been busy writing another novel, and what a happy tunnel I’ve been in. I got so caught up with my characters, I found it hard to leave them.

This WIP is now in the hands of some beta readers, and I must wait to get their feedback before I can write the final draft, but, meanwhile, I find I’m still thinking about Yvonne and Hugh, and their story. I’m having to hold myself back from writing the next part of their story – because that’s for another book, another tunnel.

This one, called For What it’s Worth, is not quite another in The Reluctant Detective Series, more a kind of spin off, and while Mirabelle and Sam feature in the story, the main protagonist this time is Mirabelle’s sister, Yvonne.

Yvonne only featured peripherally in the three books of the series, but the dynamic of her and her husband, Hugh, kept asking to be explored, so I did, and have written their story – so far. I say, ‘so far,’ because just as our lives don’t stop when we settle into a routine after some great adventure or happening in our lives, so too, characters can seem so real that I just know their story could continue on. And my mind is already buzzing with what happens next in the Yvonne and Hugh saga.

Meanwhile, I have to see to all the things I neglected when I was so engrossed in writing For What it’s Worth – blog posts, promotional posts, guest posts, interviews, lots of interesting things like that. No matter how bonnie that tunnel of trees in, no matter how beautifully the sunlight dapples through the branches, I don’t want to hide inside it for ever. I look forward to driving through another one soon, but for now, other writing tasks need attention, there is other fun to be had, other vistas to view.

How about you? As a reader, do you get so engrossed in a good book that you can hardly bear to put it down? Do you emerge at the end blinking in the light?

As a writer, is that how you feel about the first draft of a new novel? The second? The third? And all the rest…

Please do tell me if you have felt like that when reading or writing – or doing anything else. I’d love to hear about the books you’ve read that held you entranced and why.

~~~

You can find the three books of The Reluctant Detective Series and four more of Christine’s novels here on Amazon

~~~

 

I’m Sorry, It Wasn’t About You!

I’d like to share with you a very thought provoking post by Erika Kind that I stumbled upon. I’m so glad I found it because it really resonated with me. Perhaps it will with you too. That feeling when “you were a victim of your mind’s storage room.”

Erika Kind

I remembered an incident that happened quite some time back in my life. When it came to my mind I thought I may not be the only one who is endlessly thankful for someone who puts their ego aside and only helps us healing the wounds which still affect our lives at times.

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BUTTERFLIES KEEP FLYING – A Guest Post about Epidermolysis Bullosa…

Today’s guest with the Story Reading Ape is Ali Pfautz who was inspired to write her wonderfully illustrated book Butterflies Keep Flying by her friend’s daughter Ella’s condition. Do head over and read the post and also find out more about ‘Butterfly Children’ who have the courage to face the world each day with the crippling skin disease epidermolysis bullosa. Inspiring little girl..

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Hey Everyone! 

Like all of you, I’m always so appreciative of Chris and his willingness to let us share our book news, tips etc. So here’s my latest…

Butterflies! Spring and summer make for the perfect time of year to talk butterflies, but my new book offers a metaphorical twist on the annual topic. BUTTERFLIES KEEP FLYING follows a gentle butterfly who, tired of being small and fragile, imagines what life might be like if she could be a different creature, one who’s bigger, stronger, and doesn’t fly all of the time. Eventually, she reminds herself that her delicate wings play an important role in helping her face life’s challenges. My friend’s daughter, Ella, who is a “butterfly child”, inspired the character.

TSL BNAliEllaSara

Ella has a rare skin disease called Epidermolyis Bullosa, EB. Often called the “butterfly children,” boys and girls living with EB have extremely sensitive skin that…

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Dirty Laundry

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A good day for hanging out the washing. I love days like this when I can get the washing dried outdoors. It always smells so nice and I like that it’s more eco-friendly than using my tumble drier. Plus, I just love to see clean laundry on the line. Well, it would be a bit weird if I hung out the laundry without washing it, wouldn’t it?

Mind you, I’ve seen it done. Have you ever noticed that in films or television dramas, even the soaps, when someone has to hang out a washing, it’s rarely actually wet? That annoys me no end. If you’re gonna have that scene in, then go for authenticity. Do it right. Give the character a basket of wet washing. It can’t be that hard to organise, can it?

When enjoying my thankfulness walk round the garden today, I found myself smiling at the laundry being gently blown dry by the light breeze as well as the warmth of the sun.

And I got to thinking about writing …

When we write about our characters we do the opposite of what I was talking about just now, we hang out their dirty laundry.

We expose their faults and flaws, their bad decisions, their mistakes.

Of course we do. That’s what makes them and their story interesting. Why? Because life’s like that. Things happen. We don’t always make the wise decision, the right decision, or the caring decision. We make mistakes. All of us. Nobody is perfect.

Why would we want to pretend our characters are? Why would we have them always get things right? That would make for a very dull story. It’s the fight against their flaws, the attempts they make to put right their mistakes that give us their story.

Then, when outside calamities and misfortunes hit them, we can see they are made of stern stuff. If they can battle against their inner demons and come out victorious, they are far more likely to prevail when things get tough.

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Just look at those plants growing through the slats of the bridge in our garden. When the bridge was built, it would be easy to assume that any plants underneath it would wilt and wither. After all, they were now deprived of direct sunlight and water. They have to survive in difficult, dark conditions.

But guess what! The hardy ones prevail. They fight their way up through every obstacle. Not enough sunlight? Who cares? They take the little they get and aim for where they know there’s more. Not enough water? They take what runs their way, soak it up and lift their heads and stretch out their roots to where they know they’ll find refreshment.

If we build good, strong characters, characters who are real, authentic, with their faults and flaws to battle with, then they’ll be the same. They’ll find their inner strengths when they need to, they’ll overcome the obstacles. They’ll prevail.

But we, the authors have to give them a bit of backbone.

Today, I thought I’d share with you the beginning of Searching for Summer. This is where it all started to go wrong for Mirabelle, when her bad habits began to catch up with her. This is when her struggle with her inner demons starts.

~~~

Searching for Summer

The letter had finally come and Mirabelle suggested they should go out for a meal and to the cinema to celebrate.
She gave Summer a quick one-armed hug while shoving her bare feet into floppy sheepskin boots and preparing to rush out the door to work. “After all, not every day a girl gets accepted into uni,” she said, giving her daughter a kiss. “Imagine! A lawyer in the family.”
“Yeah, well, don’t count your chickens and all that. I might never graduate.”
“You will, chicken. I know you will. You always finish what you start. Not like me,” Mirabelle laughed. “Scatty as they come.”
“And proud of it,” Summer muttered. “That would really stick it to Aunt Hannah, though, wouldn’t it?” It was said with a sneer. “Snotty besom!”
“Summer! That is my sister you’re talking about.”
“No worse than you think about her. And don’t think I haven’t heard you and Yvonne say more or less the same thing.”
“That’s enough!”
“What was wrong with your mother anyway? Three sisters, three dads. And you bang on to me about morals.”
“I said, that’s enough! I will not have you talking like this about my mother or my sisters. Right?” She chose to ignore the sulky look she got in reply. Gathering herself and her bits and pieces together, she took a count of five and composed her face. “Anyway, honey, don’t let’s spoil the day.” She gave her daughter a smile. “Celebrations are in order.”
Summer scowled. “Yeah. Big deal.”
“Now, you know I’ve never been much for throwing a party. Love them. Think it’s the Jamaican in me. Always up for a bit of carnival.” Hands in the air, bracelets scurrying down plump brown arms into the folds of loose sleeves, Mirabelle gyrated her large hips to an internal rhythm of the Caribbean. “Love, love, love a party.” The rows of beads trailing from her neck bobbed and swung, a colourful waterfall of sound. “Just no use at organising them.” One last shimmy in defiance of the look of disgust directed at her wobbling boobs, and she handed Summer her schoolbag and urged her towards the door. “But we absolutely have to celebrate somehow.”
“You’ll definitely be home from work in time?” Summer asked with a sigh.
“Of course I will.”
Summer stood her ground, blocking the doorway. “There’s no of course about it, Mum. You’re never home before eight o’clock. The film starts at seven-thirty. If we’re to get something to eat, you need to be home six at the latest.”
“Okay. Okay. I can do it. Don’t get your knickers in a twist.”
Summer gave her a scathing look. “Ugh! That’s so yesterday.”
“Well, I’m a yesterday girl. Could’ve been a great flower person in the sixties.” Mirabelle held out her long, multi-coloured skirt and spun around on the spot. Her many rings and bangles sparkled in the light cast by the ornate, crystal-encrusted chandelier in the tiny, over-bright hallway. “Being a teenager in the nineties just didn’t have the same cachet.”
“You didn’t need the sixties.” Summer scowled.
“True. Oooh,” she cooed, stroking her daughter’s cheek. “Look at your pretty wee freckled nose all scrunched up there.” She tapped it gently. “Do I embarrass you, my petal?”
“All the time, Mother.”
Mirabelle shrugged. “Well, get used to it, kiddo. I’m unlikely to change.” Words tossed behind her with the kiss she blew as she grabbed a shawl from the back of the door. Draping the material round her shoulders, she picked up her big floppy bag and danced past Summer, out the door and down the communal stairs.
‘Unlikely to change.’
Words she’d later long to take back.
To rewind that day, push herself away from her desk, away from the stack of papers. Step crazily backwards, her shawl flying from the back of her chair into her hand, draping itself round her shoulders. Retreat through the office door, pulling it closed in front of her, her feet faultlessly finding the flight of stairs behind. She’d back down them, seeming to sink into each step, her knees straightening and flexing, straightening and flexing. Then walking backwards out into the street, her head bobbing as she took back morning greetings from colleagues and strangers.
Press rewind again to speed it up. The bus rushing in reverse, passengers seeming to get on, flying effortlessly up the step, their backs to the open door, ignoring the ticket machine, ringing the bell as they sat in their seats. Passengers seeming to get off, seeing only what they were leaving, strange knee-bent drops from the opened doors, taking their money from the ticket machine, catching it as it was spewed up from the top of columns of coins to jump into their palms. Mirabelle herself taking the leap behind her, leaving go of the handrail as her feet found the pavement.
Back, back. A reverse salsa at the bus stop, taking back the sharing of her joy at the good news of her daughter’s acceptance at Edinburgh University, smiles disappearing into closed, reserved strangers’ faces.
Backwards, backwards. Dancing down the street and up the stairs, rushing, rushing, unusual lightness in the ascent. Up the stairs and through the door and, there and then, standing beside her daughter, “I’ll change,” she’d say. “If you want me to, I’ll change.”
But, with no rewind facility available, no benefit of hindsight in play, Mirabelle neglected to change old habits. She came back from the office, late as usual, with the customary flustered apology ready on her lips and a placatory tub of ice cream in her hands as she laboriously climbed the stairs to their flat. She had got lost in the clutter that was her desk at work, writing reports about the safety or otherwise of other people’s children.
“Sorry, pal,” she said as she pushed through the door. “Not too late, are we?” She didn’t shrug out of her thick woollen shawl, though it was damp from the drizzle she’d hurried through. “Ready to go?” She pushed open the living-room door. “Summer? You there?” she said to the empty room.
Still holding the ice cream, a possible cause of the shivering tinkle her bangles made, she stuck her head round the door of her daughter’s bedroom. “Summer?”
Expecting to find her lolling across the bed or sitting at her desk tapping away on her computer, Mirabelle walked in, the ice cream held out before her as a peace offering. But the bed, duvet neatly pulled up as Summer left it every morning, was untouched, the computer unopened. Summer wasn’t home.

~~~

Will Mirabelle prove strong enough to cope with losing her daughter? Will she be strong enough to do something about finding her?

Well, you’d have to start reading the Reluctant Detective Series to find that out.

The Reluctant Detective Series

Searching for Summer ~ Traces of Red ~ Rusty Gold, coming soon

All available on Amazon in paperback and as ebooks, along with the rest of my novels.

 

http://author.to/ChristineCampbell

~~~

 

Thanks for the Rain

My thankfulness walk today was taken in the rain, and guess one of the things I was thankful for. Yes, my trusty wellies! I love my pink wellies. I’ve had them a long time, used them a lot, and they are still pretty and practical.

Funny, I used to dodge the rain whenever I could, but since I’ve been taking my thankfulness walks round the garden, I really don’t mind it at all. I might mind, of course, if it was pouring in torrents, but gentle rain – that I can take no bother. It’s rather pleasant. Living in Scotland, we really have to get used to it. But after all, that’s why Scotland is such a glorious, lush, green country.

My novels are all set in various parts of Scotland, so rain often features in them. It would be odd if it didn’t. So how do my characters cope with the rain? Like me, they have no choice but to get on with it, but they don’t have to like it. Mirabelle does.

Mirabelle is totally unfazed by the weather. She turns her face up to catch snow on her tongue, to feel gentle rain on her cheeks. Perhaps you’d like to read a wee passage about her preferred outerwear, come rain, hail, snow or sun:

~~~

An Excerpt from Searching for Summer.

Mirabelle adjusted her position, resting her face against the cold glass, listening to the rain so close to her cheek she could almost feel it pock her skin. She stayed like that until the side of her face felt flat and cold. A shiver ran through her and she hugged the duvet closer.
Was Summer cold? Was she dry? What coat was she wearing?
Seized with a need to know if her daughter was adequately clothed for the weather, Mirabelle abandoned her window vigil, letting the duvet fall in a frilly, floral snowdrift and rushed to the closet in the hall. She raked through the coats and scarves and assorted rags and tags hanging there.
She herself hated coats, never wore one: too restrictive, too formal. Instead, no matter the weather, she would wrap a poncho or some soft, colourful material around her shoulders. Two layers if it was cold, three if it was colder. When heavy with rain, she’d hang them around the house to dry: multi-hued banners proclaiming her artless individuality. When the fringes frayed and tattered, she’d discard the shawl and use another.

~~~

So what about you? Do you cope well with the rain, even liking being out in it? Do you have a favourite coat or pair of wellies? Or a favourite umbrella?

Do share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you.

~~~

The Reluctant Detective Series

Searching for Summer ~ Traces of Red ~ Rusty Gold

~~~

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