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 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.


Click to buy Gold Plated

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



Music and Drama in Writing


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.


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



Holding Your Breath Is Only Smart Under Water

Busy day? Feeling rushed off your feet? Overwhelmed?
A writer’s life can get like that. There are so many things to do besides just writing.
Most of us have homes and families to look after, or jobs to hold down. And that’s before we even begin to think about promoting and marketing our work. Writing is what we’d love to do all the time, but that’s rarely possible.
A blogger friend of mine, Lisa Ancona-Roach, posted this link on her blog, thejugglestruggle, and it really caught my attention, so I thought I’d share it with you. It’s such good advice.
Just Breathe!

“Don’t hold your breath” is a common phrase for showing a lack of hope in something happening. “I think she’s going to be on time for once.” Don’t hold your breath. “Starting today, things are going to change.” Don’t hold your breath. “I hope my rates don’t go up.” Don’t hold your breath.

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Dissonance – Now Available

Congratulations to Amanda Staley on the release of her debut novel, Dissonance. Have to say, I was among the first in the queue to buy a copy, and I’m looking forward to reading this new novel.

Amanda Staley

wpid-wp-1445477953954.jpgIt’s hard to believe one tiny idea blossomed into this book.  The past few months have been frustrating as my deadlines zipped by, and I still had not published, but at the same time I felt an incredible sense of pride of having accomplished as much as I had.

Today, a smile plays on my lips as I can finally say, I am a published author!  Dissonance is finally out there for people to read.  At the moment, it is only available on Amazon.  I am unsure if I will publish to other formats, or if I will just exclusively publish on Amazon and KDP unlimited.

I admit it took much longer than I expected to get this book published.  As I sit back and think over the last few months, I realized I let fear take over and stalled my progress.  I started worrying about what people would…

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A Peaceful Destruction

This is one of the tracks from the new album The Silence of the Woods, by Tim Pow.
Tim writes music for film and video. He also films and produces music videos, trailers and promotional videos.
You can buy the album here. And you can contact Tim here.


A Galway Evening

We had a few wonderful evenings with friends when we were in Ireland. They all involved a lot of talking, laughing and eating. Seafood chowder and sticky toffee pudding being only two of the home-cooked treats we enjoyed south of the border, and a slap-up feast of a meal-out with our dear friends in Larne, north of the border.

Some of our evenings involved great music too.

Robbie on guitar, Naomi on Button Accordion, and Rebekah on tin whistle.

We had a wonderful time in Ireland and I dearly hope we can make the trip again sometime. We saw interesting things, beautiful things, wonderful things, but the best of Ireland is in its people. Thank you, dear friends, for making out trip so special.


The Wild Atlantic Way and Lisdoonvarna

We took a trip down the northwest coast of County Clare on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, lunching in a great pub and restaurant in Doolin, a lovely wee seaside village. Doolin is situated 8km from the famous Cliffs of Moher, and, after lunch, that’s where we headed.

The Cliffs of Moher (Irish: Aillte an Mhothair) are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, and they rise 120 metres above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 metres just north of O’Brien’s Tower, eight kilometres to the north.


When we were standing looking at the cliffs, my imagination went wild, never mind the Wild Atlantic way. It looked to me as though the Creator had tidied this little bit of coast up, by taking a giant pair of pinking scissors to it, scattering the cut off bits, the Aran Islands, and leaving a beautiful zig-zagged edge.

The Cliffs of Moher have appeared in several films, including The Princess Bride (1987) (as the filming location for “The Cliffs of Insanity”), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), and Leap Year (2010).

After getting blown about a bit, we took our red noses and frozen fingers back to the car and headed towards the cottage again, taking the road that goes slightly inland this time. It was a lovely road, and we stopped to have a look at Lisdoonvarna, a town celebrated in a song of the same name written by the Irish folk singer, Christy Moore, and in the old Irish folksong, ‘Catch me if You Can,’ sung here by Brendan Shine

The present town is a comparatively new one by Irish standards, dating mainly from the start of the 19th century.

imageIn September each year one of Europe’s largest matchmaking events is held in the Lisdoonvarna, attracting upwards of 40,000 romantic hopefuls, bachelor farmers and accompanying revellers. The month-long event is an important tourist attraction, and has a 150 year-long history.

I couldn’t help reflecting that being a matchmaker could be a bit of a dangerous occupation. I mean, what if it all goes belly-up and the match turns out not to have been made in heaven but somewhere else all together? Can the couple get their money back? Might they not be tempted to take their frustrations out on the poor old matchmaker?

Think I’d rather keep well out of it when someone’s choosing a marriage mate. I did fine choosing my own, but would not like to presume to know who would suit someone else.


Another fun, delightful day in Southern Ireland.


Always Nice to have a Visitor.

20140811_092437My guest today is Zenobia Southcombe, Zee to her friends, and she lives in Aukland, New Zealand, a bit far for her to travel just to pop in to sit round the fire and chat with me, but isn’t the internet wonderful? I can throw another log on the fire, cuddle up with my iPad and ‘chat’ to Zee on the other side of the world, perhaps even ask her to play a tune on her ukulele.


Take it away, Zee….


When Christine agreed to host a blog post by me, she asked me to write about marketing and a bit about my writing process. Marketing is such a massive area to tackle, and so I decided to look at one aspect that has been new for me – a blog tour.

Why a blog tour?
Well, I’m having a physical launch here in Auckland (New Zealand, or Middle Earth in case you’re not sure) but I want to push the eBook sales as well.
Quite frankly, eBooks are cheaper and far less hassle to produce, so on the financial side eBook sales are the way to go. In addition, there’s a global audience out there numbering more than New Zealand’s population, and I want to reach a larger audience.
A blog tour is a way to get publicity – to get my author name out there in the blogosphere to touch some of the people who might be interested in my work. Hopefully, it helps the blog hosts as well, by introducing some of my current readership to their blogs.

Finding blog hosts
Now, I know there are many services that do this for you, and I did look into them. There’s still a bit of work involved though (like, I would still have to actually write the posts!) and there are pretty strict timelines. I didn’t want to have to fork out money for something if I was still having to put considerable energy so I took it upon myself to do it independently. For a blog tour of 10-20 stops throughout the month, I was looking at between $70 to upwards of $125 (US dollars).
It was actually easier than I thought to find willing victims, uh, hosts for my tour. I put an open call for hosting a guest blog out in my main writer forums: the Coffeehouse on Google+ and a small NZ Indie Writers group on Facebook. I got back (at the time of writing) fifteen responses! And that’s just an open call – I didn’t ask any bloggers directly.
Once I’ve written up the fifteen that I have, I’ll reach out to blogs that offer author interviews and spotlights as a regular feature. There’s a great list on Chris the Story Reading Ape’s site, and I’m using this as my starting point.

What to write?
Each was different. For some it was an interview, which is the most straightforward as I don’t have to come up with the content. If you have the option for an interview – take it!
Because the point of the tour is to publicise my launch, I’ve tried to ensure that the content links to my book somehow. For example, I’m writing about marketing for Christine’s blog, but I’m using The Caretaker of Imagination’s launch to do so.

Final Cover AIllustrator Edition A

So now, you know about my launch, and you’ve gotten a glimpse into one of my marketing strategies. How’s that for a win-win?
It is important to consider the blog host’s audience. A lot of my host blogs have a large writerly audience, and while they might be interested in my books (especially if they have children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews) most are interested in reading about my marketing & promotions strategies, or my writing process.
It’s a good idea to have a few different photographs, as well as book covers, to send the host. Sometimes they will specify what they want.

Call to action
Generally, at the end of a blog post – especially a guest post – a call to action is advised. What do you want the reader to do when finished? Again, the blog host’s audience of utmost importance and so I have a few options (and I wrote them down in my planning for each post). If you’re a romance writer, chances are you won’t be interested in a slightly offbeat children’s fantasy book! But, you might be interested in my marketing strategies on my writerly blog.
The options include:
-sign up to author mailing list
-visit writerly blog
-visit author website
-participate in online launch (for posts published during launch week)
-buy my book(s)
-pre-order my book(s)

Would I do it all again?
I have a decent number of blog hosts for my ‘tour’ but not many of them are reviewers. This is something that blog tour companies would be great for, and the only thing that has me considering hiring one for my next launch in July. I have reached out to a few reviewers, and some people have agreed to give me a pre-release review in an exchange for an advance review copy (ARC).
What I will most likely do is a self-organised one like the I am doing now, and in addition do a small reviews-only blog tour with a tour company.

A bit about my writing process
And what about the actual writing? I’m onto my third book now, so I have a good idea of what works for me.
I’m a planner, and I plan my stories with a strong narrative plot – I use the three-act structure well-known by scriptwriters, and a general narrative structure to make sure my bases are covered.
From there, I do my drafting and revise it before sending to my editor for a manuscript assessment, or developmental edit, to tackle the big issues. I revise based on those notes and send it to my illustrator, who pretty much has free reign on the illustrations. We have decided that she’ll do the cover art first, so that I’m not putting pressure on my graphic designer to come up with a cover quickly.
At the same time, it goes to my beta readers and I revise after each of those are received. I send it to one or two final beta readers and then it goes off for proofreading and formatting (I have a formatter now, thank goodness!).
I write short books (about 12,000 words long) but even so the process takes a while. However, they overlap (e.g. I am working on Book 3 while my formatter has Book 1 and my illustrator has Book 2) so schedule-wise it works out wonderfully.

For more information and reflections about my writing process, author mindset and marketing strategies, visit my writer’s blog



Searching for Summer Book Trailer

If you know me at all, you’ll know I love to chat. Today it’s not about me chatting, it’s about the beautiful trailer for my latest novel, Searching for Summer.

I’ll let it speak for itself.

I hope you enjoy it.

Searching for Summer by Christine Campbell

Searching for Summer

A Team Pow Production

Wild Mountain Thyme – Aimee and Tim Pow

Over The Sea To Skye



Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclouds rend the air;
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,
Follow they will not dare.

Though the waves leap, so soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean’s a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head.

Many’s the lad fought on that day,
Well the Claymore could wield,
When the night came, silently lay
Dead in Culloden’s field.

Burned are their homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men;
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath
Charlie will come again.

“The Skye Boat Song” is a Scottish folk song recalling the escape of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) from Uist to the Isle of Skye after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

It tells how Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped in a small boat, with the aid of Flora MacDonald, disguised as a serving maid, and the song was first published in 1884.

Having just spent a week on the beautiful Island of Skye, I thought I’d share this video and some of my photographs, though they do not do the scenery justice. Blessed with sunshine most days, we saw the island at its best, but I’m afraid using my iPad as a camera was far from the best way to capture its splendour. However, I hope it gives you at least a taste of the atmosphere and awesome beauty of The Island of Skye.


Me, sitting on the rocks in Tarskavaig Bay, one of my favourite places. It was incredibly peaceful. But then, so were most places on Skye.

image A cheeky wee chaffinch sharing our lunch.

image This was the view from one of our windows.

image Just to show you we didn’t have sunshine every day!

I managed to write every day, did a lot of exploring for locations to use in my novels and gleaned much useful information through chatting with local people wherever I went on the island.

And, just to finish with a smile…image

P.S. I was able to use much of the research I did on this trip when I later wrote the novel, Rusty Gold, a large part of which is set on Skye.

Rusty Gold, the third in the Reluctant Detective series, available with all my other novels on Amazon Kindle and Paperback.

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