How Far Have You Travelled?

In this age of accountability tools and gadgets, and this way and that way to measure performance and increase productivity, sometimes it’s good just to sit back and reflect on how far you’ve travelled.

Occasionally, we get a reminder of the journey, and that’s what happened to me this week in regard to my writing and publishing.

Family Matters April 27th

It’s ten years since I published my first novel, Family Matters, in paperback in 2008, with Making it Home following in 2009. It wasn’t until Flying Free was published in 2013 that I started uploading my novels to Amazon Kindle to give my readers the opportunity to choose paperback or ebook format. I now have nine novels available in both.

That was a huge step in my publishing journey – the first building block of  an online presence. Next leap forward was starting this blog, then creating an author page on Facebook. I now even have a Facebook group as well. Step by step I am building my online profile as an author, and what a fun and rewarding journey it is.

But not a journey that has always been smooth.

After a while, I discovered that, although I uploaded a correctly formatted book to Amazon Kindle, depending which device my readers were using, there was sometimes a problem with how the formatting appeared. So I set about attempting to rectify the problem – with many false steps and frustrations. It wasn’t until Kindle Create, a formatting tool offered by Amazon Kindle, appeared on the scene that I was successful in my efforts.


So I started with my newer books and have been working backwards reworking the formatting, book by book. Seven done, two to go. The one I’m working on at present is Making it Home – and that’s when I realised how far I’ve travelled!

Making it Home is still a great story, still receiving great testimonials and reviews:

“This was my first Christine Campbell book, I met Christine through a mutual Facebook group and when I found out she was an author I wanted to read one of her books. I think her writing voice is so lovely, like Kate and Dan and Phyllis and Naomi and the whole rest of the clan were people so similar to friends I have and want to have. Not every page was happy, there’s some heavy life moments! But also hope in equal measure. Loved it!!!”

“I really enjoyed the way in which author brings the women together and describes their developing friendship. They don’t become best buddies in a simple linear way. Their false starts and awkward moments reveal the complexity of friendships. While I was intrigued to discover the reasons behind Phyllis’ benevolence and Naomi’s isolation and depression, it was Kate’s story that really gripped me.
The theme of home is woven throughout the story in subtle, unusual and satisfying ways.
There is a gentleness, warmth and piercing honesty in Christine Campbell’s writing that both comforts and makes you think.”

But, back then, I didn’t know how to do things I automatically do now. Simple things like ‘page break’. No wonder my formatting was dodgy on this one! It will take me a little while to put it right, and meanwhile the book is still available in both formats. The paperback is unaffected by these issues, of course, since there is really only one ‘reader’ used by my paperback readers – eyesight – arguably the best of them all 🙂

How far I’ve travelled along this road of publication. I’ve learned so much since 2009 when Making it Home was published. Back then, I wasn’t sure about this new fangled thing called a ‘Kindle’. I wasn’t convinced it would catch on, that readers would not always prefer to hold a ‘proper book’ in their hands – and many still do, but I am so happy that I moved with the times and started publishing ebooks too. It’s been a fun journey, just like the writing journey I’m on and how far I’ve travelled along that.

I’ve been trying new things there too – For What it’s Worth, was the first book I wrote in first person, present tense, and I enjoyed it so much I did the same in my latest release, Gold Plated. And Gold Plated has been receiving great early reviews too:

“I started reading Gold Plated at 7 am this morning. And finished it late this evening. First book I’ve read from beginning to end in a single day in quite some time. I simply had to devour it!!! Thank you for an exquisitely entertaining read! A beautiful treatment of love, betrayal, and resolve where self-love triumphs ultimately.”

“Through life’s ups and downs this story was very enjoyable to read. I loved the different settings and how clearly I could see them along with the characters from the descriptive writing. Gold Plated is a perfect title and this book took me on a lovely journey into Rosanna’s life which is inspirational… I believe it’s never too late to start again, I will also now think differently when I hear something is gold plated. I highly recommend this to anyone wanting a good read.”

So, how far have you travelled? I’d love to hear about your journey, whatever it is and wherever it’s taken you. And if you want to see how far in my writing and publishing journey I’ve travelled, do read my latest novel, Gold Plated. I’m told the story is “A journey worth taking.”


5 Facts You may not have Known…

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


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

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

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


but let me tell you more about Family Matters:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

It can also be ordered in any bookstore or from




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.


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?


Why Did You Write That Book?

Readers often wonder what inspired a writer to write the particular book they have just enjoyed, and it’s a fair question to ask, since the novel may deal with a subject that is somewhat out of the ordinary or a place they have never been. I know I find it interesting to have some background information about a book I have enjoyed. What about you? Let me know in the comments if you feel the same. With that in mind, here is a snippet of insight into the inspiration behind some of the novels I’ve written.

Much of my inspiration springs from personal experience. I grew up not knowing my birth father and, over the years, concocted many stories to explain his non-appearance in my life. As an adult, I became a very private detective, since I was my only client, and set about finding out who he was and where he was. It’s a theme I return to in many of my writings.

41QJW-AUatL._UY250_ Family Matters, my first published novel, revolves around a woman whose husband abandoned her and her two young children. She’d like to know why, and what happened to him. Eleven years later, after her son dies, she discovers that he’d been trying to trace his father, so she follows the steps he took in an effort to find out how much he’d uncovered. In this book, I draw on some of the procedures I used to trace my father. Paperback.

41C9fKLVtzL._UY250_Making it Home has, as part of its theme, leaving home and whether it’s possible to make one’s way back. The main protagonists are three women who become friends and help one another overcome their different problems while each works out what ‘home’ means to them and where ‘home’ is. Part of the inspiration for this novel was what I knew was discovered in an elderly aunt’s home after she died.  Paperback.

41WL0eRCVLL._UY250_ In Flying Free, the main protagonist loses contact with her father, when she and her mother leave the family home when Jayne is still a young child. So, in effect, it is she and her mother who are the missing people in this novel. The story traces Jayne’s efforts to come to terms with the why and how of the situation. Paperback.

517rcMAIR-L._UY250_ Here at the Gate is a story of a secret past, one threatened with exposure. Who is Mhairi? And why is she so afraid of what her daughter might find out when she traces the family tree. The inspiration for this novel was a snippet of a family story related to me in childhood. Paperback.


In researching for my novels, I found that:
Approximately 2,300 Americans are reported missing—every day.
This includes both children and adults, but does not include Americans who have vanished in other countries, individuals who disappear and are never reported, or the homeless and their children.
That’s somewhere around 900,000+ a year.

In Britain alone, an estimated 250,000 people go missing every year. Many of those cases are resolved by police; just 2,500 people remain untraced more than a year after they disappear, some of them stay missing long after a year, ten, twenty, thirty years and more.

But that can still mean those who are contacted by police or other authorities do not return home and that families are not told if their loved one is alive or safe.
A closed case simply means the police are confident that no crime took place.

And how many of these missing people are children or young teenagers?

It is estimated that at least 8 million children worldwide go missing each year.
800,000 children in the U.S; 40,000 children in Brazil; 50,500 in Canada; 39,000 in France; 100,000 in Germany; and 45,000 in Mexico; 230,000 in the U.K.
And in most of the developing world—including Africa, Asia, and Latin America—no one is counting missing children.

These (probably wildly out of date now) figures, while chilling, also show me that the fictional stories I have written or will yet write are a drop in the ocean compared to the true stories no-one is writing.

I know how it feels for someone to be ‘missing’ from your life. I wonder how many of you know that feeling too? If you feel you’d like to, please feel free to share your story in the comments.


The Reluctant Detective Series, is about Mirabelle, a rather eccentric lady whose daughter went missing. While searching for her daughter, Summer, she builds up a network of contacts and, with the help of them and her friend, DI Sam Burns, she finds other missing persons and is able to reunite them with family.
People become aware of her expertise in this area and begin to come to her for help. Reluctantly, she becomes a bit of a private detective and her home becomes an unofficial missing persons agency.

Mirabelle is mostly able to find young women, in their teens or early twenties. Those who have not been missing too long. Though her expertise stretches further, and, with the help of her network of unusual contacts, she’ll have a try at finding anyone.

Searching for Summer Final

The first of the series, Searching for Summer, is mainly focused on Mirabelle’s search for her daughter, and the building up of her network of helpers. As her reputation for finding missing people grows, she becomes increasingly involved in other cases, the reluctance of the title of the series being because each case takes a bit of the focus off Summer. Paperback.

Traces of Red, the second book in the series, takes Mirabelle out of Edinburgh, her usual searching territory, and further north in Scotland, up as far as Pitlochry and Aviemore, helping in the search for a missing husband, and two missing young women, one of whom could be the mother of the abandoned baby, found in Edinburgh. Paperback.

And the third in the series, Rusty Gold, takes Mirabelle and her assistant to the Island of Skye, searching for the daughter of a dying woman. The missing daughter, whose life may be in danger, is also an old friend from Mirabelle’s schooldays, and finding her proves both difficult and exciting. Paperback.

To find out more about the rest of my novels, click here for the ebooks and here for the paperbacks.

A Day in the Life….

…of a Writer.


My name is Christine Campbell, and I am a writer.

There, I’ve said it.

I said it and believed it for the first time after I published my debut novel in 2008.

There can be few things more validating for a new writer than to hold years of hard work in your hands. Feel the paper smooth on your fingers. The weight of your very own book, the smell of it, the sound of pages as you run your thumb over their edge, letting them flip one against the other. The sight of the words you penned months before, tumbling over one another to fill hundreds of pages, painting the pictures from your imagination in words and letters, to tell your story.

It’s intoxicating.

But how did it come to that point?

What does a writer’s day look like?

For me, the day probably looked a lot like anyone else’s.

I had a husband, a family, responsibilities.

Writing was what I did in secret, what I did in snatches, in corners, in cafés. Not because I was ashamed of what I did. Not because my husband didn’t encourage and support me. Only because I didn’t believe I was a Writer with a capital W.

Then ‘Family Matters’ was published and I held in my hands the evidence that I was.

I am a Writer.

My days look different now.

Brazen, I sit at my computer while the dishes sit by the sink. My fingers fly across the keys making that special music of storytellers, while the washing churns in the machine. Dinners are simple affairs the days I’m writing well, more elaborate when I have thinking to be done. As I chop the carrots, I set out plot points in my head. As I brown the onions, my head fills with neatly turned phrases and enticing story twists.

If you pass me in the supermarket and I don’t seem to see you, I probably don’t. I’m somewhere else, in the world my characters inhabit, doing something else altogether. If I didn’t rouse myself occasionally to check my shopping list, goodness knows what I’d remember to pop in my trolley for tonight’s dinner. Whatever my protagonist fancies, I suppose.

Hours can pass and I think it’s a moment since I sat down to write.

A day in the life of a writer doesn’t look so very different from a distance. On closer inspection, it belongs to a different world, a different time capsule.

My family are grown now, and my long-suffering husband has long retired from secular work and, though still a busy man, he encourages my passion and shares things like the washing-up. The washing gets done, the beds get made, no-one is neglected. But time is set aside to write, to edit, to think, to plan, to research, and all the tasks that are required to publish a novel.

It’s what I do.

I am a Writer.

And you can find the fruits of my labours here on Amazon Kindle or here if you prefer a paperback.

And you can join my readers’ Facebook group if you want to get more background on any of my books.


Tagged again!

Hello everyone! I was invited to participate in another tagging Blog Hop by Vashti Quiroz-Vega, a delightfully exotic name and a delightfully exotic lady. Vashti writes a blog which you can find at


Vashti has published a novel called The Basement, a tale of angst, teamwork and solutions, treasure hunts and adventure, and facing fears. It is a focus on the small world of one group of preteens and the very real and wondrous world they face. You can buy it on Amazon at

There are a few simple rules to this blog tagging:

1/ I must answer the four questions below.

2/ I must link back to the person who invited me to this Blog Hop.

3/ I must name four writers who will continue this Blog Hop and notify them.


1) What are you working on?

I’m in the later stages of editing my NaNoWriMo novel. Its working title has changed several times and at the moment it is ‘Enough’  but I can’t make up my mind if that’s a great title or a terrible title. Any comment on that would be most welcome.

The novel is about Mhairi, a mother and grandmother who knows she did some terrible things when she was young, but can’t remember if she committed the heinous crime she was accused of. The trauma at the time and subsequent medication blacked out the memory, allowing her to built a good life with a loving husband, family and friends.

Her past feels like it belonged to someone else.

But now her daughter’s project is threatening to blow her life apart, exposing her for who she was. Rhona has decided to trace the family tree, to delve into the past and search out its secrets. Like a bloodhound, she refuses to be distracted from the hunt. Mhairi has to keep one step ahead or go on the run.

 2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?

The last time I was asked this question I kinda opted out by saying that every writer’s work is unique, and I stand by that, but perhaps, in fairness, I should give you more than that.

I think my work differs from others in the genre in that I don’t think it quite fits into any genre.

Yes, it is Contemporary Fiction, written about ordinary people living here and now. Yes, it is General Fiction, which could appeal to men and women, old and young, and it is about coping with extraordinary ordinary problems. But it is so much more than that. My novels have an element of suspense in them, often a bit of crime and detection, sometimes romance, sometimes Family Saga, always exploration of relationships. They are character driven but with a strong plot line too. So, if any of you have read any of them…could you please tell me to which genre they belong?

3) Why do you write what you write?

I write about things I care about and things I am fascinated by.

I have always been fascinated by how someone can just walk away from their life, their family, their friends and disappear, leaving no trace, only heartbreak and worry. I explore this concept in my first novel, Family Matters.

Being happily married and surrounded by family, I care deeply about the loneliness others suffer: the causes of it and the solutions. I’m also fascinated by the modern phenomenon of shopping addiction, and its causes and cures. So, in my second novel, Making It Home, these are the areas I investigate.

My third, newly-released novel, Flying Free, takes a look at another subject I feel passioately about: recovery for victims of childhood abuse. I don’t know that there is ever a true recovery, but it is important to try to help there be at least a measure of healing. In Flying Free, the main protagonist’s life has been blighted this way and the story traces her route to recovery, in as much as that is possible. It is an ultimately uplifting, optimistic book.

4) How does your writing process work?

I’ve always been a bit of a ‘pantser’. Writing as I feel and as it comes. I try to have a notion of where I’m going, but it isn’t usually clearly mapped from beginning to end. The things I have a clear grasp of are who the characters are, what they want, what they need and what stops them getting it. And I know how the story ends. Apart from that, I like to go where the story takes me.

Look for the Blog Hop to continue next week at these sites:

Alana Munro, the author of Woman Behaving Badly, a book that attempts to understand women and to make sense of the huge expectations women place on each other. How can we avoid toxic women? What bad behaviours should we be looking out for? This book attempts to understand what is really going on between the females in our life. Alana is a great supporter of other authors and her blog is rich in writing tips, author reviews and other great stuff. Link for Alana Munro:


Dyane Ford, author of The Purple Morrow, book 1 of her adult fantasy series. As one reviewer says, ‘The Purple Morrow leads the reader on a romp through a detailed fantasy world at war.’ Another calls it, ‘A light fantasy with great characters.’ You can find out more about Dyane, her book and her writing tips on Dyane Ford:


Stuart Turnbull, a poet and author of stories both short and long, including the wonderful Tweeties, stories in 140 characters or less. Great fun. You can check out Stuart’s writing on his blogsites. I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself.

Stuart Turnbull:


Amanda L Webster, author of two books, Loosely Collected: A Book of Poems and NaNoWriMo Gone Wild: The Quest for 50,000 Words. Plus she writes an amazingly helpful blog, which you can find at


All blogs I’m certain you will enjoy for various reasons, so do visit them and be entertained and amazed.


That’s Another Fine Mess You’ve Got Me Into…


I’d love to have someone to blame, but, really I haven’t. No-one forced my arm. No-one bribed, begged or bundled me into doing it. It just seemed a good idea at the time.

I’ve signed myself up for NaNoWriMo.

Usually, when I write a novel, I deliberate over the story for months, writing plot lines, scrapping them, starting again, abandoning them and finally just getting started to write hoping the plot will take a natural course. But I do usually have the characters pretty well fleshed out in my mind. By the time I start to write, I have usually lived with them in my head for months, getting to know them and how they feel, how they act and how they speak.

Having just finished my third novel, while I am waiting for it to come back from my proofreader, it seemed a good idea to start another. Since I have the next two almost finished and another well underway, it would have been the easiest thing to get on with one of them, but, hey-ho! Folks were all talking about the fun they were going to have in November writing a novel from scratch in a month. 50,000 words in 30 days, just under 2,000 words every day for the month of November. What a fun idea! What a great discipline to have to put distractions aside and get on with my writing every day.

So, in a mad flurry of  bonhomie, I decided to join the gang and signed up for NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month, to those of you who have never heard of it before.

My first thought was to take one of the novels I had partially written and use the month of November to get it finished and licked into shape, but then, on further reflection I realized that would just not be in the true spirit of the challenge, so I have plunged myself into a completely new novel with only the vaguest idea of where it is going and who is going to be in it. So, plotter or pantser? This time round, looks like I’m certainly going to ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ — always supposing I’m going to fly at all. Gulp!

To be continued …

If you feel inclined to read my previous novels to get a handle on my usual writing style, they are available as paperbacks and eBooks

and you’ll find the link just over there > and up a bit^ right under the video clip introducing me to you.

Can you tell? I’m beginning to feel just that little bit manic.


P.S. I completed that NaNoWriMo with 60,000+ words, the first draft of a novel. I went on to edit, rewrite, edit, proofread and polish that first draft for another six months or more — because, let’s face it, it’s not a novel until it’s been well edited and proofread, it’s only a first draft — and published the finished product in 2014. It’s called Here at the Gate, and I’m inordinately proud of it, my first NaNoNovel, my first NaNo baby.

Here at the Gate is also available as a paperback and in Kindle

Chapter One

It has always fascinated me how it is possible for someone to completely disappear without trace when there has been no foul play, no murder or kidnapping, accident or war. In the developed world, there are so many ways to trace a person, yet, if that person chooses to disappear, it seems they can. Very effectively. According to my research, it happens all the time, and not just youngsters running away from home but thousands of adults of various ages every year.

It’s a subject I return to often in my writing.

As a special treat for you, since you’ve been so kind as to visit my blog, I thought I’d let you read the first chapter of one of my published novels, Family Matters, which explores this phenomenon in the case of one man, and the impact his disappearance and subsequent reappearance has on his family.

Family Matters April 27th

A relationship novel, but also a  detection novel with a difference; this story traces a woman’s drive to uncover and understand the truth about a family she thought she knew… her own.


Update: June 10, 2020

Just to say, this is the earliest version of this book. It has been revised since this post, so there may be slight differences in the text, though the story is the same. I like to think it is the better for the revision, and you’re welcome to check it out with the original.

kindle or paperback


Chapter One


I have to inform you that David died, suddenly, ten days ago. As his father, you probably have the right to know.


Kate frowned as she handed back the letter. “For heaven’s sake, Mum. Is that it? Is that all you’re going to say?”

“It’s more than he deserves!” A small tabby cat wound its body round her legs, pausing to look up at the unusual chill in Sarah’s voice.

“Come on, Mum! Now’s not the time for bitterness. David’s dead. Surely Dad should know about it?”

Sarah folded the letter and stuffed it into an envelope. “I’m telling him.” She punched on a stamp.

“You know what I mean. Shouldn’t you tell Dad how David died? When the funeral is? Things like that?”

Sarah turned to her. “Listen Kate. When your father walked out on us he forfeited his right to know anything about this family.” She slapped the letter down on the kitchen worktop. “I’ve only written at all because you nagged me.”

Dragging out a chair, she bent to pick up the cat and settle it on her lap, allowing the soft warmth of its body to calm her. The cat began to purr softly in response to her gentle caress. “Why on earth, after all these years, did David want to find your father?” She smoothed her palm across the cool pine surface of the table, tracing the grain, feeling the occasional indentation of wear and tear, the faint imprints of heavy-handed homework.

Kate shrugged. “He just did, I suppose.” She too sat down at the kitchen table with her cup of coffee, its freshly percolated aroma filling the bright little kitchen, wisps of steam catching the morning light.

“But he never said. I had no idea.”

“Well, he wouldn’t say, would he?”

“Why not?”

Kate shifted uncomfortably, stirring her coffee, watching it swirl round the cup. “Well… you know,” she said.

“No, I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking.”

Kate pulled a face. “He probably thought you’d be angry.”

“Well, of course I’m angry!” Sarah was up again, the cat leaping from her lap as she rose. She started pacing the room, the usually adequately sized kitchen feeling suddenly cell-like, moving chairs, wiping surfaces with her hand. She picked up a cloth and started to wipe the shining, clean table. “Why should he want to find him?” Her body wound like a spring, her too-thin frame jutting at awkward angles from her newly-loose clothing. “What’s he ever done for him? For either of you? He made no attempt to see you. No Birthday cards, no Christmas cards. Nothing.”

Sarah closed her eyes, trying to shut out the picture of David as a little, dark-haired boy, standing for hours looking out of the window, waiting for his daddy to come home. She’d put her hand on his shoulder, her heart contracting, adding his pain to hers. She would try to find the right thing to say, the words of comfort or hope that would help him, but there were no words. Only the empty pain.

‘It’s all right, Mummy,’ he’d lie. ‘I was just wondering if Martin was coming out to play.’ And he’d turn away from the window and go back to his book or the telly, making no effort, having no real desire to call for Martin, his friend.

“And you wonder why I get angry!” She banged her fist on the table, startling the cat and spilling the coffee. “The damage your father did when he left us!” She mopped up the spill with a swipe of the cloth she’d been holding and walked across to facilitate the cat’s escape out of the back door.

“It wasn’t just me he left. He left you and David. He walked out on his children! I don’t know how anyone could do that! All the love and attention he’d given you for years thrown away!” She threw the cloth. It hit the water in the sink, sending a fine spray over the work surface. She neither noticed nor cared. “Thrown away like so much garbage.  And for what?” she demanded of the air, her hands outstretched, “For what?” Fire seemed to spring from her auburn hair into the depths of her hazel eyes.

‘Time for bed, son,’ she’d say. He just nodded and turned from the window following her meekly up the stairs. No tears, no arguments. Just the sadness in his eyes, the mention in his prayers, ‘Please look after Daddy. Please let him come home soon.’

Sarah covered her face with her hands, hiding from the images, biting on her anger, tasting its bitterness.

Kate watched in silence as her mother paced about the spring-coloured kitchen, its lemony brightness at odds with her dark mood as she twitched a gingham curtain here, tidied the pot plants there, releasing their herby fragrance into the air.

“He left. Just left! “ Sarah snatched up the wet dishcloth, squeezing the water out with a furious energy. “Didn’t come home one night!” She frantically scrubbed at the work surface, over and over the same spot, over and over the same wound.

‘A short haul this time,’ he said, blowing me a kiss. He blew me a kiss! I can hardly believe the nerve of the man! He blew me a kiss!” She wrung the cloth out yet again with even more feeling. “A short haul! A short haul!” Sarah’s voice had risen almost to a scream. “Eleven years!” Her face contorted as the near hysteria gave way again to pain and her body crumpled over the sink. She let the cloth fall to the floor and slumped into a chair, her hands covering her face, her anger finally doused by despair.

Kate knelt beside the chair and stroked her mother’s hair.

Sarah held her close. “I’m so sorry, Kate,” she said, taking her daughter’s face in her hands, looking into the deep brown eyes. “I’m not angry with you. I don’t mean to snap at you, my darling.”

“I know, Mum. I know.”

“Oh, we’ll get through this, won’t we?” She sighed. “It’s just… I can’t believe David’s gone too. That he’s not going to walk through that door,” she nodded in the direction of the back door, where the cat peeped round, cautiously checking to see if things had quietened down somewhat.

“And throw his coat at the chair on his way through the kitchen.”

“Always missed.” Sarah sighed. “Never picked it up.”

“He knew you would!” Kate sat back on her heels, laughing at the memory of her untidy brother and her mother’s happy acceptance of it.

“You weren’t much tidier!”


“He didn’t want to talk much,” Sarah said. “Just go to his room with the telly, his music. I thought he was happy. Quiet, but he was always quiet. I thought he was happy enough.”

“I suppose he just never stopped loving Dad. He was such a little boy when he went, only what? Seven? He only remembered the good times, the fun Dad was, the toys he brought home, the jaunts we’d go. David never knew about the rest. I didn’t know about the other side of Dad till you told me a few days ago.”

“I didn’t want you to think badly of him.”

“You protected us, cushioned us from the pain of the truth.”

“I don’t know if I was right.”

“Of course you were right!” Kate squeezed her mother’s hand. “We were only kids. We didn’t question where the toys and things came from, how we could afford holidays. Kids don’t. Question, I mean.”

Kate was still kneeling beside her mother’s chair and she stayed like that, her head resting against Sarah’s arm, the cat pushing its nose against her, trying to find its favourite spot on Sarah’s warm lap.

The kitchen clock whirred and ticked, the fridge hummed and buzzed: soothing murmurs of comfort in the clamour of distress.

“So d’you think David saw your Dad?”

Kate straightened up, shrugged her shoulders, tucking an auburn curl behind her ear. “I don’t know.”

“But what d’you think?” Sarah persisted.

“I just don’t know, but I keep wondering,” Kate continued, getting up from her squatting position, flexing her stiff muscles, rubbing feeling into her numb legs, her hands warming with the friction from her jeans. “It’s hard to believe that Dad was here, in Edinburgh, all this time and we didn’t know.”

“If he was.”

“Yeah. I s’pose he might not have been. Could have just moved back.”

“Certainly didn’t announce it!”

“But once David found out he was here, he must have tried to see him, I’d imagine.” She leant against the worktop. “And yet,” she shook her head. “I’m sure he would have told me if he had. He told me most things. Mind you, I didn’t know he had an address for Dad till we found it the other night. I was looking for his ring. You know? The one we bought him? I noticed he didn’t have it on when, after…” Kate swallowed hard and tried to continue. “Anyway, it wasn’t there. Neither was his watch.”

“Right, Kate. Let’s get on.” Sarah walked across to the unit. “We’ve things to do. We mustn’t give up. We’ve got to keep going. I’ll pop round and post this letter,” she said as she picked it up, “And then I’ll get us something nice for lunch.”

“Don’t you think…? Can’t you say a bit more Mum?”

“Let’s not start again Kate. The letter’s sealed. I’ve said all I’m going to say. I have no intention of telling your Dad how David died. We don’t know how David died!”

“The coroner said…”

“Yes, yes. I know what the coroner said, but there has to be more to it. Someone, something happened, and I intend to find out what.” Fire sparked in her eyes as she turned to face her daughter. “And until I do, there has to be no talk of telling your father anything. It’s none of his business.”

Kate stood tall, taller than her mother, stretching her back, pushing her chin out defiantly. “I don’t suppose I’ll get the chance, if you’re not even going to let him know when the funeral is!”

“Anyway, we can’t know for sure this is his address.”

“I’m fairly sure.”

“How? How can you know?” Sarah challenged her daughter. “Just because it was scribbled on a bit of paper in David’s drawer?”

“Under the heading: ‘Dad’s address’!”

“So? David may not have…”

“Mum! I checked it out. Well, not me personally. I got a friend to check it out. It’s Dad’s address.”

“But are you sure?”

“I gave Mike a photo of Dad. He says he’s hardly changed.”


“A friend,” Kate waved a dismissive hand. “Just a reliable friend.”

“But how did he…?”

“Mum! It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that this is Dad’s address,” she emphasised her point by waving the piece of paper in front of Sarah, “and you are, quite properly, writing to let him know his son has died.”

“Not because I want to.”

“I know, Mum. I know. Believe me. This is hard for me too, but we must do what’s right.”

“He didn’t.” Sarah muttered.

Writing the letter to Tom had put some fire in her for a while, but it had gone out now, smothered by the dross of her bitterness.

But, later, when she posted the letter, she impulsively scribbled the funeral time and place on the back of the envelope. She didn’t suppose he’d bother to come.


And now, if you’d like to read on, dear friend, here are the links where you can buy Family Matters

Kindle or Paperback


Uphill Struggle, Steep Learning Curve…or Top of the World?

This has been, correction, this is, so much fun!

Ever since I uploaded my previously published novels, Family Matters and Making It Home, onto Amazon Kindle, I have been on a Steep Learning Curve.

After years of sitting on a mountain of words I’d written, protecting them from censure, hiding them in the deep recesses of my laptop, I let the first of them see the light in 2008, the second in 2009. It felt as though I’d reached dizzying heights. Because they were published by small, independent publishers, they were POD, print on demand, so available on Amazon, able to be ordered but not stocked in bookshops. I was shy about promoting and advertising them, but, even so, managed to sell a respectable number. I was On Top of the World.

Meantime, we were in the middle of an earthquake I’d been trying to survive and ignore without being swept away by. The whole world was changing, reforming around me. The landscape looked different and I noticed another peak had emerged nearby. One I never thought I could attempt to climb. Little over a month ago, I donned my hiking boots and started up The Steep Learning Curve of internet marketing and media. I hammered in my first peg and uploaded my books on Amazon Kindle.

The view looked good, hanging on to that shoogly peg. Wanting to make it more secure, I hammered it home by emailing, texting and facebooking my contact lists, telling them about my venture into this Brave New World.

Inching up the mountain, I hammered in another peg, I started a blog. This blog. Let the fun begin!

Some of my pegs are proving difficult to hammer in. I wobble now and then in the Google+ community, trying to make a contribution to some of the great chat threads there without falling into the self promotion crevasse or overstepping the rules. I haven’t quite got to grips with Twitter. I’m making lots of mistakes, missteps, stumbling a little, hanging on to the last steady peg and trying again. It’s a bit of an Uphill Struggle sometimes, learning how to link one thing to another, how to make all these social media tools work to my advantage. Now and again I feel as though I could easily get blown off the narrow ledge I’m clinging to. Thankfully, there’s always someone there to gently tug on the rope, remind me I’m not alone, help me keep going. And oh! I’m enjoying the adventure!

All I can say to other reluctant mountaineers, other media-scared authors: put on your hiking boots, come join me. The view up here is magnificent!


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