The Things that we Love

❤️ I was recently gifted one of my favourite things – a brand new notebook ❤️

It’s always fun to have a new notebook, especially one with such gorgeously smooth, snowy-white paper as this one.

It’s always fun to have a new notebook.

There’s always that moment of possibilities. What shall I use this one for? It could be a journal, a jotting-things-down-so-I-don’t-forget-them type notebook, the place I write my next novel, a book for composing poetry ~ oh, so many ways I can use a new notebook. There is so much joy in the anticipation.

This particular notebook has a quotation on the bottom of each right-hand page, so I feel this one may be a journal where the quotations act as writing prompts, getting me thinking about what they mean and their relevance or significance.

On the first right-hand page, Thomas Aquinas is credited with having written, “The things that we love tell us what we are.”

Do you think that’s true?

I got to thinking about all the different people and things that I love and the list was long, the double page spread was going to be no where near enough for me to explore them all in journal form, never mind explore the concept as it relates to each one, deciding if the saying fits or not.

There are some where it doesn’t quite fit if you take it literally. For instance, I love flowers, but I’m not a flower, or even a gardener. I love music but I’m no musician, fruit but I’m not a fruitarian.

Taken literally, does the act that I love books tell me I’m a book? Of course not, but it might reflect that I’m a reader.

That I love writing certainly tells me I’m a writer. Quite apart from the fact I have written novels, and can see them sitting on my bookshelf, the evidence became clearer to see as, day after day, I filled two pages of the notebook with no trouble at all.

I love stories, and in some ways it could be said we’re all stories still being written, I suppose, if you want to interpret it that way. What I am is a story-teller. I love taking words and crafting them into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into pages; building stories. So, in that respect, it’s true that what I love tells me what I am. I love stories, and I am a writer of stories.

The more I wrote in my new journal, the more instances I found where the saying proved true in my case, with lots of other things I love. I love cooking: one of the ‘hats’ I’ve worn as a wife and a mother is my cook’s ‘hat’. I love walking: I’m a walker. You get the picture, I’m sure.

So what about you? Does the saying hold true for you? Did Thomas Aquinas get it right in your case when he said, “The things that we love tell us what we are.”? How would you interpret the saying? I’d really value your thoughts if you’d care to share them in the comments.

Christine’s Kist of Stories

Are you familiar with the word ‘kist’?

It’s origin is from the Old Norse kista, meaning chest.
The word appears in several countries and, in the Scots language, it’s the name for a large chest or coffer often used for storing linen, such as a new bride’s trousseau.
Also used for storing treasure. And it’s in that context I’d like to introduce my kist to you.

My hubby wrote me a beautiful song for our 50th wedding anniversary – about my ‘Kist of Stories’, describing my stories as treasure. How cool is that? Well, I felt so honoured by this I want to honour him in return by using the song as my ‘brand.’

So I have started a Book Group on FaceBook, called Lifting The Lid Off Christine’s Kist Of Stories. The aim of the group is to allow readers to interact with me about my books. So, if you’re interested in learning the stories behind the stories, you’re welcome to join. The group is designed to take the ‘Author Meet and Greet’ to a whole new level.

My daughter has recorded the song and I’d like to share it with you here. To help you understand it, since it’s written in the style of an old Scots song, here are the words written out. I’d be happy to explain any that are unfamiliar to you. Just let me know in the comments which words puzzle you.

Christine’s Kist O’ Stories

Sparkling there, tae love and share,
Gleam tales o’ pains and glories
Of lovers kissed, and children missed
In Christine’s kist o’ Stories

Folks that’s real, that breathe and feel,
Wi’ lives o’ less, or more ease
Come tumblin’ out, tae sigh, tae shout
Frae Christine’s kist o’ Stories

Frae Reekie’s chills tae Cuillin hills,
They tak’ delightfu’ sorties
That turn and twist thru lambent mist
Tae Christine’s kist o’ Stories

~~~

The video ‘Christine’s Kist of Stories’ comes to you from team Pow.
Filmed and produced by Tim Pow
Words and music by Gus Campbell
Sung by Aimee Pow
Original painting by Michelle Campbell
Scenery by Scotland

Enjoy!

Oops, I’ve done it again!

In August, I wrote about Tunnel Vision, about emerging from a tunnel and seeing all the things that had been hidden from view. If you read the post before or if you have followed the link and have just read it, you will know that I was talking about how engrossed I get when writing a new novel.

Well, I’ve done it again!

I couldn’t resist taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. Once again, that meant writing a new novel – well, the first draft of one, anyway. The target is to write 50,000 words in the month of November, a daily average of 1,667 words for thirty days. ‘Since I’ve managed to adopt the habit of writing every day since February, how hard could it be?’ I asked myself. The answer? Only as hard as I make it. So I decided to plan this new novel out and get to know my characters pretty well before I embarked on the actual writing on November 1st. That really helped. Throughout the month, I was never lost. I always knew where my story was headed – or I thought I did.

Right at the end of the month, my main character seemed to develop a mind of her own and she decided to take me in another direction. I guess she didn’t like the ending I’d planned, and in one pivotal conversation with another character, the story swung off my carefully plotted route.

Now, remembering I’m already in that tunnel, already have tunnel vision, but the pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel has been growing bigger and brighter for days. Suddenly, the light felt like an oncoming vehicle instead of the way out of the tunnel. Could I avoid crashing? Would this be the end of the road for my novel?

Don’t be silly. Of course not. We writers can’t let our characters totally take over. They need us to guide them. They may think they’re in charge. We may even talk about them as though they are. But they are not. They are our creations. We are in charge.

I hope you heard the stern tone in my voice there, because that’s the tone I took when I sat down with Rosanna – yes, that’s her name, this wayward character in my latest novel, Gold Plated. We sat down with a mug of hot chocolate and a piece of cake and sorted this thing out. Okay, she wasn’t comfortable with the original plan, but I wasn’t happy with the direction she looked like taking. It couldn’t lead to the destination I’d had in mind from the outset. One of us had to give, didn’t we? Or could we compromise? Could Rosanna have her say, speak her mind as she just had and still get back on track?

Of course she can. I’m in charge, remember. It’s up to me to bring her round by carefully constructing a wee diversion that allows us both to feel happy with the outcome. And that’s what I did, bringing in the first draft of Gold Plated at 59,000 words by the 30th November, just as I emerged from the tunnel.

It’s only the 1st of December, so I’m still blinking in the light, but I see I have neglected this poor old blog again. I owe it an apology. I’d love to think someone might have missed me.

So, back on track. Still fleshing out Gold Plated, but with a little less intensity so there’s time and energy for all the other writing-related projects I delight in, including the final edit of For What it’s Worth the spin-off of The Reluctant Detective Series I was writing. My lovely daughter-in-law, Michelle, has almost finished painting a gorgeous cover for it and soon I hope it will be all systems go for publication.

What fun we writers have 🙂

Did you have a go with NaNoWriMo this year? Do tell me in the comments how you got on.

Or have you read any good books lately? Ones that take you off into that glorious tunnel of trees, where everything is beautiful but you can hardly see anything outside it – the dishes, the ironing, the cat’s empty saucer …

~~~

You can read Christine Campbell’s books for FREE with Kindle Unlimited, or buy them in eBook or paperback format here on Amazon.

Interview with the Author

A couple of months ago, on June 29, 2016, I was interviewed by Meryl Stenhouse, here on her blog. She had invited me to talk about my latest release, Rusty Gold, the third book in The Reluctant Detective Series.

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Rusty Gold by Christine Campbell

Find her,’ Agnes Donald begged. ‘Find my daughter.’

The words of a dying woman force Mirabelle to take on another case for the unofficial Missing Persons Bureau she runs from her Edinburgh flat. Along with her assistant, Kay, she heads for the island of Skye where Esme Donald was last known to be. But is someone else looking for Esme too? And could Mirabelle’s own daughter, Summer, be in danger?

~~~

Meryl asked me some very interesting questions, questions that helped me express the origins of this series, letting readers in behind the scenes of my novels. I hope you enjoy the interview. If you want to see it in its original form, do please go to Meryl’s blog. In fact you might enjoy to do that anyway after reading this post. Meryl has written lots to interest you there.

Meryl Stenhouse: Your novel’s heroine Mirabelle is a single mother, which is an unusual but excellent choice. What led you to choose a single mother as your heroine? What challenges and opportunities did this represent in writing the story?

Christine Campbell: I chose to tell Mirabelle’s story as a single mother because there are so many single parent families around these days and I think it must be tremendously difficult to balance all the pressures of work or career and bringing up a child or children.
I got to thinking what if? What if there was a crisis in a single parent family, like a child disappearing from home? Who would the single parent turn to? What impact would it have on his or her work or career? How would it change his/her priorities? What regrets would he/she have? Things like that.

The main challenge it represented was that although I am mum, I have never had to function as a single parent, so I had to try to get inside my character’s head. I had to imagine how it would be different, but also how it would be the same.

For instance, the things that I think would be the same are the panic and pain, the anxiety and strain of such a frightening situation. I did’t find it too hard to imagine how I, as a mum, would react: how I would feel, what I would do.

A huge difference is sharing the anxiety, panic and pain with the other parent. Whenever there is any kind of difficult or worrying situation in our family, my husband and I can talk about it. We can comfort one another, work out together what we need to do.

For a single parent – in my story, a single mum – I would imagine it is very different. Although she may have very supportive family and friends, at the end of the day, she goes to bed on her own and the night must seem to last forever. So I had to work out who Mirabelle’s support team would be, and how and where she would find comfort.

One of the opportunities writing this story gave me was to examine how I would feel if I had to do things on my own. I rely on my husband so much that thinking about being on my own in such a dreadful situation was very upsetting for me. Making myself imagine it, get into Mirabelle’s head and heart, walk a mile in her shoes, so to speak, was a great exercise in empathy for me. It helped me appreciate what a great job so many single parents make of bringing up their children.

MS: You have included the homeless of Edinburgh as characters in the book, a group that is traditionally invisible. What prompted this decision?

CC: In part, it was prompted by the realisation that people can be homeless for a variety of reasons, not all of them their own fault. Even if it is their choice, it is a hard life, but for many it isn’t a choice. The statistics for young people who have left home because of domestic abuse are frightening. For them, even living rough in parks, cemeteries and squats are better than what they had.

One young woman I talked to who left home to live on the streets when she was only fourteen told me that she found the homeless community looked after her better than her parents had. She said, yes, she had to choose carefully who she associated with, learning to avoid the unscrupulous, the malicious and those who were too far gone with drugs, but a great part of the homeless community is made up of decent, honest people who have, for one reason or another, found themselves homeless.

Some of them are somewhat eccentric, some of them are difficult to communicate with, some may even be somewhat dangerous, but they are still people. I wanted to give a small section of them a voice.

MS: Rusty Gold is set on the Isle of Skye. How have you communicated the individuality of that setting to the reader? Have you traveled there yourself? What challenges did this location present to the story?

The first two books in this series, The Reluctant Detective Series, are set mostly in Edinburgh or further north but still in the east of Scotland. My husband and I are originally from the west of Scotland and we have holidayed in Skye several times over the years, plus his paternal family originated there, so, when we were planning to visit Skye again for a couple of weeks and it was time to start plotting Rusty Gold, I decided why not take Mirabelle there with us.

While there, I researched where I wanted certain scenes to take place, going to each one several times, sitting quietly on beaches getting the feel of them as well as studying them visually, travelling the single track roads across moorlands, through glens and beside lochs.

I knew Mirabelle would fall in love with Skye as I had many years ago, so my challenge was to help my readers fall in love with it too. It’s never ideal to have long, descriptive passages in a modern novel, so I tried to give the flavour of the surroundings through the characters’ eyes and actions.

I listened carefully to how natives of Skye spoke: they tend not to abbreviate but speak carefully and correctly, with a delightful lilt in their speech. I tried to portray that in the people Mirabelle meets.

When I travelled about the island, I was often held up waiting for sheep to move aside, or highland cattle to meander along in front of me, so I allowed that to happen to Mirabelle and her friend as they travelled.

From time to time, I felt compelled to stop the car at the side of the road to get out and marvel at some fabulous views, so I had them do that too, in the hopes that my readers would be able to imagine the Island of Skye. It is a truly beautiful setting.

Rusty Gold is available to buy in paperback and on Amazon Kindle.

AmazonBarnes and NobleWaterstones FeedaRead – The paperback can also be ordered from most bookshops.

Christine Campbell is a writer. She has always been a writer. For as long as she can remember, she has scribbled poems and prose, snippets and stories on scraps of paper, in the back of cheque books, napkins, on the back of her hand — anything more durable than her faulty memory.
She loves being a writer, a novelist, in particular, and she write contemporary fiction: strongly character-based, relationship novels — with a smidgen of romance and a generous dusting of mystery and detection.
She has learned a lot about her craft since that wonderful night when she held her first completed, printed manuscript novel in her arms. Her first book-baby.
Christine has now completed and published seven novels, the seventh newly ready to leave home and see the big wide world and, even more importantly, to be seen by it. It’s so exciting when your book-babies grow up and leave home. As mother of five grown-up, married children and ten grandchildren, Christine knows a lot about babies growing up and leaving home!

~~~

I hope you enjoyed Meryl’s interview. Didn’t she ask some great questions? It’s quite an art form in itself, interviewing, and I think Meryl has mastered it. Thank you, Meryl.

What do you think? Are there interviews you’ve read that really help you get to know your favourite author better? Or some that made your toes curl?

Do share your stories in the comments. I love hearing from you.

~~~

 

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 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 – 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 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.

UPDATE: For What It’s Worth,  Yvonne and Hugh’s story is now published and available as ebook and paperback.

 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.

~~~

The three books of The Reluctant Detective Series and the rest of Christine’s novels are available as ebooks or paperbacks.

~~~

Authors Spotlight : PattyWiseman.

I thought I’d share this author spotlight on Dave Mayall’s blog with you today. In the spotlight is Patty Wiseman, a delightful lady and author, and her series set in 1920s Detroit.
This series looks good and is on my To-Be-Read list. According to the great reviews it’s been getting, I’ll need to set aside a bit of time because it sounds like I’ll not want to put these books down once I start them.

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An Unlikely Arrangement by Patty Wiseman.

Young and rebellious, Ruth Squire defied her parents to live the high life of young people in 1929 Detroit. Handsome and responsible, Peter Kirby worked diligently to make his family’s life easier. Rich and powerful, Eric Horton held the fates of many families in his hands.
These three lives intertwine through the differing worlds of high society, middle-class life, and organized crime, culminating in an engagement, a kidnapping, a misunderstanding …
… and a murder.

Watch the trailer click here

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I really enjoyed this story. I am not normally a historical romance person, but I loved the characters in this story, and it kept giving unexpected twists and turns. Plus the author obviously put a lot of time in…

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Smorgasbord Summer Reading – Rusty Gold (Third book in the Reluctant Detective Series) by Christine Campbell.

The lovely Sally Cronin has featured my books on her blog under ‘Summer Reading’.

Interview with Christine Campbell

It was such a pleasure to be interviewed by Elizabeth Hein for her blog. She asked some interesting questions about my writing process and the theme that runs through all my novels.

Scribbling In The Storage Room

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It’s my pleasure to welcome Christine Campbell to the Storage Room today. Rusty Gold, the third book in her Reluctant Detective Series, was released yesterday so it’s a real treat to talk with her today. Christine and I write in the same genre and tend to address many of the same issues, but in very different ways. I love how that happens. Anyway, here’s Christine –

What genre books do you write?

Contemporary Women’s Fiction, though some of them almost fall into the cosy mystery/cosy crime sort of area.

What types of books do you typically read?

Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Cosy Crime, Mystery, Legal/courtroom novels, Relationship novels (not really romance)

Whatever I read, I like it to be a ‘clean’ read, as in no swearing, sex or violence. I’m also not into fantasy or science fiction – and especially not paranormal or supernatural.

So I suppose I have a…

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May I have Your Attention Please

When I was enjoying my daily perambulations one day last week, I caught the attention of some of my neighbours. These particular neighbours tend to be interested in whatever is going on in our garden and they meandered over to see what I was up to. I had a brief chat with them then scooted off to fetch my camera, thereby learning an important writing lesson.

Having captured our readers’ attention, it is tremendously important to hold it for long enough that they will want to hang on in and see what happens.

I had not done that with my neighbours and when I returned with my camera, they had lost interest and wandered off to seek diversion elsewhere.

So, when they returned the next day, I was prepared. I had my camera at the ready, having not only caught their attention but having also found a way to hold their interest.

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It really is that important.

Writers know that you, the reader, have to be persuaded to read our book, so we try to come up with that captivating first sentence, that intriguing first paragraph, that riveting first chapter, but it can’t end there.

As soon as we get boring, you get bored.

It’s as simple as that.

So every chapter has to hold your attention. Ideally, we want you not to be able to put our book down until you’ve finished reading the whole thing, staying up all night if that’s what it takes. Sorry, I know that’s pretty mean of us to cause you to lose your beauty sleep, but just think of the rewards. You can have our story buzzing about in your head for days afterwards. You might well feel you’ve made some great new friends of our characters.

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My granddaughters made friends with my neighbours. They even got to know them better than I do, exchanging names and contact details. Daisy is just off to the left there, and she likes to be whistled over. Primrose prefers a soft mooing sound.

Another lesson learned. It is important to connect with you, dear reader. I want to know who you are, what you like about my writing, what interests you, where I can find you, how I can reach you.

So why don’t you pop your head over the hedge and chat to me – or simply add a comment in the comment box below. I love when you do.

Tell A Story Day is Wednesday April 27th

Are you ready to share a story? Annette Rochelle Aben has some reasons why it would be good to do that tomorrow on #tellastory day, Wednesday April 27th.
I’d love to read your stories if you’d like to paste them into the comments or put a link there to somewhere else we can read them.

Annette Rochelle Aben

Every picture may tell a story but every person has a story to tell too!  Stories of happiness, strength, courage, joy and even fantasy come from deep inside people in all walks of life.  Sometimes these stories are written down in books and blogs so we can read them at our leisure.  Some stories etch themselves on the faces of those who have lived every moment of the tale. Sometimes stories have yet to be coaxed out into the open.

Share

YOU are invited to participate in TELL A STORY DAY, Wednesday, April 27, 2016! I found out about this, doing a Google search for special days in the month of April. There isn’t a group laying claim to starting this special recognition day, but storytelling is as ancient and natural as life itself. Whether you write it for all to enjoy or share it with one special…

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