Music in Fiction – Part One – Guest Post by Christine Campbell…

it is always such a pleasure to be invited to write for the StoryReadingApe blog, and writing this series of articles about Music in Fiction has been fun and enlightening for me. I particularly love when my post incites comment and discussion, as this one has, because I always learn so much more about the subject through the insights of others. Love it!
Thank you, Chris, for the opportunity to provoke discussion on one of my favourite topics.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

We are all readers.

I can say that with a pretty good degree of certainty because I know I am – and I know you are because you are reading this article right now. Perhaps you are a lover of non-fiction and that’s why you are reading it, or perhaps the title has drawn you in because it is something to do with fiction.

Some of you may also be writers, as I am.

There are many devices we can use to help us bring our writing to life. In this short series of articles, I take a fairly light-hearted look at just one of them. Music.

7256543 - musical notes on blue and white swirlsLicence to use obtained – Copyright: soleilc1 / 123RF Stock Photo

I don’t intend to become too scholarly about it, so, if you’re looking for in-depth analysis of the part music plays in fiction, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. However, I…

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Writing Update

Hi there! It seems a while since last I posted about my own writing, so I thought I’d give you an update of how I’m progressing with my next novel.

For What it’s Worth is about a married couple whose marriage is under stress because of two main factors: Hugh is out of work and Yvonne is working too hard; and despite years of trying, they have been unsuccessful in their efforts to start a family. Two problems many people face, sometimes even together. So Yvonne and Hugh’s story is one many people can relate to. But we all deal with things in our own unique way, don’t we? So, although you might know someone who has been in their position – you might even have been in that position yourself – I haven’t written their story, or your story. I’ve written Yvonne and Hugh’s story. It’s about how they handle the stress, how they decide to move forward. You might not agree with their choices, but I hope you’ll be cheering them on.

This novel is not part of The Reluctant Detective Series, but it is a spin off from it. Yvonne is Mirabelle’s sister. If you read the series, you’ll probably remember that Mirabelle was the main character – and quite a character, quirky, eccentric and unpredictable – and she has a part to play in this new novel, but as a supporting character.

She was too much fun to write about to let her go 🙂

If you’re a writer, have you ever found it hard not to go on writing about a certain character even after their story has been written? It’s like keeping in touch with an old friend.

For What it’s Worth has been drafted, redrafted, edited, beta read, edited, redrafted, edited and is now with some more beta readers. Depending on their feedback, it will hopefully not be too long until the final proofread and polish before publication.

Tell me, when you read a book, do you like to think of the writing process that book had to go through before it landed on your bedside table? I must confess I love reading author interviews and profiles, learning as much as I can about the author and their work. I find it helps me understand where the story might have originated, and so enhances my understanding of it.

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To learn more about me as an author and about The Reluctant Detective Series or any of my published novels, please check the sidebar or click on my Amazon Author page.

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Featured Book: The Writer’s Book Launch Guide

As an author with another novel almost ready to be released, I thought I’d like to feature a book that I read recently on the subject. Unfortunately, I am not starting to prepare for my launch twelve months ahead, which is where the book starts giving helpful suggestions, but there is still a lot in this book that I find very useful.

Let me pass you over to the author, Keely Brooke Keith, to tell you all about her book.

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Book marketing and promoting can be intimidating for authors. Since the day I (Keely Brooke Keith) signed my first publishing contract, I’ve kept a list of book promoting ideas. With each book launch, I try them and add to them for my next launch. I have both traditionally published friends and indie friends who’ve asked for my list (and a couple of publishers too). So, I created The Writer’s Book Launch Journal and spread the to-do lists over 12-months to turn it into an easy to follow plan for any author. Many of my author friends love this journal, as even some big publishers rarely give a book’s publicity more than a couple hours of an intern’s time these days.

Whether you’re an indie author or signed to a publisher, let The Writer’s Book Launch Journal guide you through the marketing and promotional tasks every author should do to ensure a successful book launch. Filled with checklists of essential tasks, an abundance of publicity suggestions, and questions to personalize your promotions, The Writer’s Book Launch Journal will lead you on the journey to a fun and fulfilling book launch.

And since some authors want the information in The Writer’s Book Launch Journal but prefer to scroll through the checklists on their computer, I’ve also written the ebook The Writer’s Book Launch Guide: A Step-By-Step Plan to Give Your Book the Best Launch Possible. This ebook is a good companion to The Writer’s Book Launch Journal because the tasks are explained in more depth. I recommend getting both the journal and the ebook together.

Discover how and when to:
* Ready your author website
* Craft a compelling book description
* Rally your writing allies
* Recruit a launch team
* Build media connections
* Get book endorsements
* Create a media kit
* Find book reviewers
* Use social media
* Create promotional videos
* Run giveaways
* Contact book bloggers
* Let book websites spread the word for you
* Throw a book launch party
* Send email announcements
* And much more!

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I thought this was a very well presented and well researched publication, with loads of useful information and suggestions. It might have been nice to have a little more ‘how to’ help for some of the suggestions, but it would probably not be difficult to find that elsewhere online. I haven’t as yet purchased the Writer’s Book Launch Journal, but I certainly plan to, having read the book.

Altogether, I found this a very useful addition to my writer’s resources library, and I shall try to implement as many of the suggestions as I can in the time left before the launch of my next novel.

You can learn more about Keely and her resources for writers here on her website.

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You can find the three books of The Reluctant Detective Series and four more stand-alone novels  written by Christine Campbell here on Amazon

And look out for her next novel, Foe What it’s Worth, coming shortly.

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#FridayReads ~Reviewing my favourite books from 2016

What a wonderful surprise to find one of my books on a reviewer’s list of her favourite books from 2016! And in such great company! Thank you Lizanne Lloyd. I feel honoured, and I’m delighted.

Lizanne

According to Goodreads, of the 65 books I have read this year, 21 are contemporary stories, 18 historical fiction, 7 crime novels and 5 mysteries. In addition, I chose to read 5 non-fiction history books, 3 steampunk novels, 2 travel books, one young child’s book, one dystopian novel and one of literary fiction. Only one is specifically a romantic novel, but of course romance often turns up in historical novels or mysteries too and definitely in most contemporary stories. There is a lot of blurring at the edges.
The number of books in each category does not surprise me, but perhaps next year I should try self-help, vampire books or maybe return to fantasy or science fiction. I’m not promising!
These are my highlights of the year.

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Midnight Sky Cover LARGE EBOOK

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Rusty

AB Bamboo Island

Lake House

I could list more, but I will stop with these chosen few from my favourite genres; historical, contemporary and mystery.  If you click…

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Introducing a Revamp

We all know that hard work generally brings the best result. You can only get out of something what you put into it, can’t you?

And, of course, that’s no different for writers.

If we want to get better at it, it isn’t just about writing more and more words, it’s about studying how to write, reading about writing, reading the work of other well-acclaimed authors, putting in the hours, weeks and months of hard work editing and polishing. Writing the first draft of a story is often the easiest part. In my experience, it is always the easiest part.

For some time now, I’ve been thinking about how my writing has developed and, I like to think, improved over the years I’ve been working at it. I’ve certainly put in a lot of hard work. So I went back to the first book I published and cast a critical eye over it. I was pleasantly surprised with how happy I was with the development of the story. But still, I published Family Matters as a paperback in 2008, followed that up with the eBook in 2013 – so – time for a revamp.

I decided Family Matters needed a new cover, then a bit of fine-tuning. I asked my artist daughter-in-law, Michelle Campbell, to come up with some art for the cover. Once again, she didn’t disappoint. I love the new cover she designed. It’s more modern and relevant to the subject matter – subject matter that I scrutinised and checked until I felt happy.

Next step? I thought I’d share the result with you in the following video. If you haven’t read Family Matters, perhaps you’ll enjoy the excerpt I’ve included.

Thanks for watching, folks. Hope you enjoyed the video. Hope you enjoy the book.

Here’s the link if you wish to purchase it or to READ IT FOR FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

And the link to my Amazon Author Page if you’d care to check out my other books.

Thank you.

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Why not share in the comments what you think of the cover? Or the book?

And do share your stories of the hard work you put into the things you do.

Do you think hard work does pay off?

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Food in Fiction – Part 4 – Guest Post…

It has been a joy writing as guest on The Story Reading Ape’s blog. Thank you, Chris, for the opportunity.

If you didn’t catch the earlier posts in the series, you can read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three by clicking on the links.
To round up the mini series of Food in Fiction, I’ve given you a peek into one of my WIP, For What it’s Worth, with an excerpt that I hope helps you get to know the two main characters in a scene where food is the star of the show.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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In this, the fourth and last article on the topic of Food in Fiction, I thought I’d let you into a badly kept secret.

Having been married since forever and having brought up a family of five, I can cook – but I wouldn’t say I was good at it. Perhaps that’s why none of the main characters in my novels have been great cooks. I’ve had my share of disasters too, though not ever on the scale of Hugh’s in my WIP, For What it’s Worth.

By the time she turned into the communal stair of the flats, Sandra had built up a fair head of steam in her boiler, fuelled by the indignity she suffered at work set against the memory of Hugh lying warm and sleepy in their bed when she left him this morning and sitting with his feet on the coffee table all day…

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The Shopping Habit

 

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FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One definition of ‘addiction’ is ‘the condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or involved in something’ and this definition brings one of life’s pleasures to mind: shopping.

I don’t think I’m actually addicted to shopping, but I do believe I could easily become addicted, given the chance. Living in the country, miles from any shops, is a help or a hindrance depending on your point of view. I think it’s a help, but if someone wants to throw some spare cash my way, I’m willing to test the theory.

What is decidedly not helpful to a shopping addict is the advent of internet shopping. A while back, when I was driving north with He Who Prefers Not To Be Named, I noticed an enormous, huge, ginormous Amazon warehouse had been built within ten miles of our home, ‘Just for us,’ we agreed. We are both seriously addicted to buying books on Amazon. It is just too easy. However, I have curbed my need for the services of the said warehouse: most of my Amazon purchases now are eBooks.

Research shows that many people buy things they don’t need, some buy things they don’t even want and most of these folks are a bit concerned about their shopping habits, some admitting they are ‘addicted’ to shopping.

In the developed world, merchandisers play to this addiction. Millions of Pounds, Dollars, Euros and Yen are spent every year on advertising. They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

Advertisers play on our emotions, telling us we deserve more and better than we have, assuring us that our life will be enhanced if we buy their products. It rarely turns out to be that way. In the words of an exceptionally wise man: Even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses. (Luke 12:15) and another wise man: A mere lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

No wonder many shopping addicts are concerned about their shopping habit. They may well have come to the same conclusion – that it is just not bringing them satisfaction. But how to cure the addiction? Often professional help is needed. Identifying the underlying problem is necessary. Having a supportive friend or relative is helpful.

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Several things inspired me to write my novel, ‘Making It Home’.

Being just a teeny bit addicted to shopping was one. The thing is, I can live fine without it until I’m there, in the shopping mall or on the High Street, then I feel as though I’ve failed some test or other if I go home empty-handed. And I know I sometimes fall into the category of buying things I like but I don’t actually need. I mean, do I really need yet another ‘wee top’?

What is it about shopping that gets me?

My addiction is under control now, though it was never a serious problem. In my case, it wasn’t need or loneliness, but it was dissatisfaction with my looks and my figure. I had lost my sense of identity while raising our children and hadn’t found it again yet. I was constantly looking for that perfect dress, the one that would make me look tall and slim, those perfect jeans that would not only be comfortable but would make me look young and vital, that special wee top that would make me feel young and pretty again.

In analysing that, I got caught up in the idea of writing a story about someone who – unlike me, I hasten to add – just couldn’t stop buying things even when the money had well and truly run out. I thought it would be interesting to explore what her underlying problems could be and help her find some help to deal with them.

The discovery of a deceased relative’s secret addiction to shopping was another inspiration, albeit a sad one. Who knew Auntie J was filling her home with purchases she had no use for, filling cupboards and rooms with unopened carrier bags, receipts dating years back still inside them with the items she’d bought: the overwhelming sadness of her loneliness clearly unabated by hundreds of shopping trips? Who knew? Childless and widowed years before, she lived far from extended family and had few friends, mostly by choice, being a very private person. Reluctant to visit or be visited, her secret was only discovered when her home had to be cleared for sale after her funeral.

I used my overwhelming sadness to tell a little of Auntie J’s story in my novel, Making it Home, allowing a fictional character to carry her secret and share her loneliness. I like to think she might have enjoyed the alternative ending.

Making It Home

41C9fKLVtzL._UY250_ Kate had a home, but her heart wasn’t in it – or in her marriage. So she left them both.
Phyllis had a home – and her heart was in it – but she wanted something more. So she shopped.
Naomi had no home and her heart was in cold storage, frozen by grief and fear. So she shopped.
They found one another in a department store in Edinburgh.
The trouble with ‘retail therapy’ is, you can overdose.
As friendship grows between these three women, they help one another face up to their problems, realising along the way, every heart needs a home and it takes more than a house to make one.

Christine Campbell Amazon Author Page

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What about you? How do you feel about shopping: love it or hate it? Do you know what compels you to shop, or is it something you have to force yourself to do when you need a particular item? Please share your shopping thoughts and stories, good or bad, in the comments. I’d love to read them.

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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 …

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

Food in Fiction – Part 3 – Guest Post…

My thanks to Chris Graham for featuring the third episode of my Food in Fiction series on his blog.
For writers: have you thought of using food as a central character in your stories?
For readers: how many books have you read where food played just such a role?

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

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In the first two articles on this subject, we gave some thought to scenes in novels we’ve read where food played an important role, and how their attitude to food can reveal things about your character’s character. We looked at some examples, and talked about how important food is in our lives and, by extension, the lives of fictional characters.

I thought it would be interesting to think now about food as a central character in its own right. For instance, in Chocolat by Joanne Harris, chocolate plays the most important role. Without it, there would be no story.

When an exotic stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynaud denounces her as a serious moral danger to his flock – especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial. As…

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Book Review: Courting the Countess by Anne Stenhouse

A book review by Anne Stormont of ‘Courting the Countess’, a regency romance by Anne Stenhouse – yes, two Annes for the price of one 🙂
“The dialogue is, as always, to the fore and fairly crackles and zings,” Anne says. I like that. And I’m not surprised by it because Anne Stenhouse, the author of this book, is also a playwright.
Type of read (according to Anne): In an Edinburgh New Town hotel or residence, but failing that, in your own living-room, curtains drawn, on your chaise longue by a roaring log fire and a do-not-disturb sign on the door.
This one is on my To Be Read list. I’m itching to read it but I try to read books in the order I buy them. What about you? Is that how you do it? Or do you allow your books to jostle for position and settle down on the couch with the front runner? Do tell in the comments below.
Maybe this is one that will be in the jostle 🙂

Put it in Writing

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Regular readers of my book reviews will know that crime and contemporary fiction along with the occasional work of non-fiction are my main areas of choice when it comes to reading. But historical fiction by this particular author will always get my intention. I’ve read, enjoyed and reviewed all her previous books and all are full of romance, wit and great period detail.

So I knew the chances were I’d also enjoy her latest novel and I certainly did.

But even if I’d not read this author’s previous books, the chances are I’d have been sufficiently intrigued by the premise behind this Regency romance to give it a go. In an interview on Rosemary Gemmell’s blog which you can read here, Anne Stenhouse explains that the idea for Courting the Countess arose out of a writing competition entry she did. The competition brief was to come up…

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