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?

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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!

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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.

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Tunnel Vision

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

Goodness, what a lot I have neglected!

I see it now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Smorgasbord Summer Reading – What Tim Knows and other stories by Wendy Janes

It is my pleasure to reblog Sally Cronin’s Summer Reading post. The book featured today is ideal Summer Reading, perfect for lying back with on the beach or in the garden. Six short stories with a subtle link. I can heartily recommend this book by novelist Wendy Janes, having read it and thoroughly enjoyed it already.

What do We Know of Wendy Janes?

I had the great pleasure to meet up with Author Wendy Janes in London a few months ago. It was a real treat to get to know Wendy in person and I wish we lived nearer one another so we could meet often. However, we don’t, so we can’t, so there it is.

Next best thing, I’ve invited her to sit by my virtual fireside and have a chat with me about herself, her writing and her goals, and I’m inviting you to join us. So draw up a chair, help yourself to tea or coffee. Hot chocolate for me – plenty in the pot if that’s your pleasure too. Oh, and help yourself to the cup cakes.

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So, Wendy, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I live in London with my husband and youngest son. I feel very lucky that since my youngest son started school I’ve been able to work from home, running my freelance proofreading business and advising parents over the phone on The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service. While I’ve always written diaries, short stories and prose-poetry for myself, it’s only in the last few years that I’ve had the confidence to share my writing with an audience. Some of my short stories have appeared in anthologies, and in October 2015 I self-published my novel, What Jennifer Knows.

Now can you tell us something that might surprise us?

I’ve never learned how to drive. I did try when I was seventeen and gave up after the lesson when I nearly caused an accident by pulling out into a main road in front of a car. I simply didn’t see it coming. Thank goodness my instructor had dual-control. I can still feel that dart of hot-cold shock when I think about him slamming on the brakes that day.

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Something you haven’t told in an interview before — perhaps because you haven’t been asked:

I once performed at Wembley Arena. Over twenty years ago a group of us (including my mum) danced to The Trout by Schubert as part of a day of movement and dance. I think you can see how excited I was from this photo of me at the ‘Artists Entrance’!

Oh, my, look at those glasses. My only excuse is that it was 1992.

I love them! I wore glasses since I was four years old till I got contacts, and I can tell you, there are worse than yours of 1992!

And I love the ski pants. Loved wearing them back then too. And the dreamy long scarf…

I just love this photograph, Wendy. It really brings back the late 90s. And I wish I had seen you dance.

So, can you tell us something you are proud of about yourself?

At the end of the 1980s I started up a local branch of a support group for lonely and isolated new mums. We’d meet at each other’s houses, go on outings, and a small core of us would provide information and support where needed. When the group became too big to fit in each other’s houses, we raised funds to set up a mother-and-toddler group in a local community hall. I’m still close friends with five of the mums from the original group.

And something you feel you need to work on:

My husband’s untidiness.

He’s a wonderful man, but he genuinely doesn’t seem to see the piles of papers, clothes, tools and camera equipment that he leaves lying all over the place. After thirty years of tidying up after him, encouraging/cajoling/nagging, some people might say he’ll never change, but I’m still hopeful that one day we’ll live in a completely clutter-free house.

Hehe! I love that you think you have to work on your husband’s untidiness. All the best with that… 

What makes you smile, Wendy?

My granddaughters. At six years old and nine months old, the way they embrace all of life’s new experiences is a joy to see.

What makes you sad?

Unkindness.

I know you enjoy your work with The National Autistic Society. Can you tell us a bit about that please?

A small team of us help parents whose children have a diagnosis of autism to try and secure the right education for them. We each work from home offering a listening ear and giving advice via phone and email. Much of my time is spent ascertaining what the parent wants to achieve and then using law, regulations and guidance to empower the parent in reaching towards that goal. Sometimes we can come up with a way forward in a trice, other times it takes far longer, and sometimes things don’t work out as expected. Whatever the outcome, I always hope I’ve helped in some small way.

It’s an absolute privilege to do this work.

Has your work with The National Autistic Society influenced your writing?

Yes. Working on a daily basis with families has made me want to bring some of the issues into my writing. In my novel, What Jennifer Knows, Jennifer’s grandson is struggling at school and she suspects he’s on the spectrum. Here’s a link to a guest blog post I wrote which describes in more detail how my work and my writing dovetail: http://www.jerasjamboree.co.uk/2015/11/autism-and-sen-in-fiction-guest-post.html

And your work as a proofreader? How has that influenced your writing?

I’d say my nit-picky proofreading brain has meant I take an age to write anything. Not only am I prone to want to edit the words before they’ve even reached the page, but once the words are down, there’s the endless tinkering, re-working, double-checking, re-tinkering…

I’ve read books that annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. Sometimes because they have lacked a good editor and/or proofreader. Other times just because the story is weak or the telling of it poor. 
As a reader, rather than a proofreader, what do you think makes a good story?

Unfortunately many books are spoiled by poor editing and proofreading. A typo can completely jolt a reader out of a story, and when that happens over and over again, I’m not surprised you’ve wanted to throw a book across the room!

As a reader I think authenticity is at the heart of good writing. If a story is populated by two-dimensional characters or by characters that don’t ring true then the story won’t come alive.

What one thing has a ‘bad’ book taught you not to do in your own writing?

Telling the reader in the narrative that something is happening; telling it again in dialogue; and then, just in case readers haven’t got the point, telling them again in the narrative. I strive to avoid this mistake that turns stories into stodge.

As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories?

Believable characters
Purpose
A surprise or two
Some humour
Genuine heart

What are three things you have experienced as an author that have helped you during the writing stage?

Support of other authors. I’ve met some wonderful authors online, many are now very good friends.
Support of family. My husband and youngest son are particularly brilliant sounding boards, and excellent at reminding me that there is life outside of the PC.
Reading some wonderful fiction while writing helps me strive to improve my writing.

You said you think authenticity is at the heart of good writing, and I do agree. You also said, “If a story is populated by two-dimensional characters or by characters that don’t ring true then the story won’t come alive.” The goal of a writer is to give the readers characters they can connect with. The characters in your novel, What Jennifer Knows, are very engaging. 

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UK link : US link

What advice could you give other authors to help them find that authentic voice that speaks to readers?

Thank you. I’m so pleased you found Jennifer and her friends and family engaging.

I know some people suggest you read your work out loud, either to yourself or others. I think what can also help to hone your voice is to have someone else read your work back to you. That way, you can hear exactly how your words sound to someone else.

You have a gift of storytelling, and I know you have written many short stories, some of which appear in published anthologies, have you ever thought of publishing a compilation of your stories?

Again, thank you. Yes, in April I’m planning to self-publish a small collection of new short stories. While writing What Jennifer Knows some of the supporting characters had their own tales to tell that would have detracted from Jennifer’s story, so I’ve been working on six stories that reflect significant moments in their lives.

I hope people who haven’t read the novel will enjoy meeting Rollo, Cynthia, Sue, Gerald, Blythe and Tim, and will want to see them again in the pages of What Jennifer Knows. And for those who have read the novel, I hope they’ll enjoy their reunion with characters they met there, and be entertained by the glimpses of Jennifer as she matures from young student to grandmother.

Is there anything you wish you’d known before you started writing your first book, that you could share with eager, would-be writers?

If I’d known that a first draft of a book doesn’t have to be polished I could have saved myself a lot of early angst and self-doubt. So, my advice to would-be writers is to get the words on the page and let your ideas flow. No one else needs to see your first draft, stop thinking about your audience at this point and simply write what you want to. Then, once you have that first draft you can start to work on it.

Where should readers go to check out more about you and what you do?

Here are links to my presence on the web:

Goodreads

Facebook author page

Author Central Page, UK

Author Central Page, US

Website

Twitter

Facebook profile

Google+

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Well, I do hope you enjoyed getting to know Wendy a little better. Hope you can join me again soon. I’ll replenish the cup cakes, I promise.

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Christine Campbell is the author of six published novels: Family Matters, Making it Home, Flying Free, Here at the Gate, Searching for Summer, and Traces of Red.

You can find out more if you click here, on the sidebar of this blog, or if you click on ‘Books’ on the menu bar.

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Daisy’s Dilemma

My guest today is Author and Playwright, Anne Stenhouse, who I met when I attended The Edinburgh Writers’ Club a number of years ago.

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Christine, thank you so much for inviting me to appear on your lovely blog. I’m honoured.

My pleasure, Anne. Can you tell us where you originally come from and where you live now?
I was born in Pumpherston, in West Lothian, Scotland, and I’ve migrated to Edinburgh. Pumpherston was an industrial village although it was surrounded by farmland and, on a semi-circular loop, agricultural holdings. We could walk out and pass fields of cows, a piggery and a mink farm. I remember very clearly how some of my class had to walk through disinfectant to come to school when there was an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. I came to Edinburgh as a university student and, apart from two training courses in London, I haven’t left. It was a leafy semi-magical place thirty-five years ago. You can still find some of that magic today, but it’s harder as the gap sites have been built on.

A bit about yourself? Including something that might surprise us …

I’ve swum in the sea around Stromboli which, some of you will know, is an active volcano. It was still pretty cold in the water.

100_5738I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a lot of foreign travelling. Most recently I was in India on the Hoogli and in Rajhastan. India is endlessly interesting to any foreign visitor – probably to the Indian visitor as well – because it is vast and populous and so much of life happens on the street in front of you. In addition, it has a long history of superb building. Here’s me at the Taj Mahal. Actually my favourite building in Agra is the Red Fort. Exquisite.

… something you are proud of about yourself …

I stuck with my playwriting long enough to have a couple performed on the main stage at St Andrews’ Byre Theatre. Great moments. Playwriting is my favourite form of writing, but it is so hard to make headway. Once you write the play, it needs a director and actors to bring it to life and an audience to appreciate it. I found eventually that struggling for funding was becoming too much of that equation. So, if any of you want to read a script suitable for the SCDA one act Festivals, get in touch.

… something you’re working on about yourself (and I’m not talking about your WIP)

Getting the hairstyle right. Growing older does so many unexpected things to one’s body and appearance. This is only slightly a flippant answer. We all, if we’re lucky, get older and the things we couldn’t understand about our parents suddenly become all too personal. So, I’m working very hard on accepting invitations I might once have dismissed as being not for me, like ten-pin bowling. Actually, I like ten-pin bowling. Have still to get a strike – if that’s the correct term. I’m working quite hard on not correcting people’s grammar – that’s tough. Since my husband retired, I’m working a lot on not being as untidy as I was. (He may not have noticed this, but I did clear out two folders of redundant paper while he was away recently. Two – I may need to try harder there.) So I suppose, I’m trying to keep changing for the better.

… and what you’re working on (now I am talking about your WIP)

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Daisy’s Dilemma is my latest release, June from MuseItUp, and it’s an historical romance.
I take that well known expression, Be careful what you ask for, and weave a tale around that. Daisy Longreach has pursued a particular man since her first steps outside the schoolroom, but – is what she wants, what she needs?
Lady Daisy appears in my debut novel, Mariah’s Marriage, and she’s a sparky younger sister character there. I could hear her voice (the playwriting impulse again) and had to write her story.
Buy Links

Daisy’s Dilemma by Anne Stenhouse order from amazon http://goo.gl/iMFFVu
Daisy’s Dilemma amazon UK – US – AU – CA
Kobo – Omnilit – MuseItUp
Readers may connect with Anne on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/annestenhouseauthor
Twitter @anne_stenhouse
Her blog: Novels Now http://www.annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Daisy’s Dilemma by Anne Stenhouse order from amazon http://goo.gl/iMFFVu

Mariah’s Marriage by Anne Stenhouse.
http://goo.gl/4LWt1H Mariah’s Marriage UK
http://goo.gl/qoggiQ Mariah’s Marriage US
http://goo.gl/Eu23YN Mariah’s Marriage Au
http://goo.gl/n8e7Jt Mariah’s Marriage Canada

http://goo.gl/P3lmzk Bella’s Betrothal by Anne Stenhouse amazon UK
http://goo.gl/7mh8FI and US

Novels Now blog http://wp.me/31Isq

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Reading for Pleasure

Reading can be a real chore if you’re not interested in the topic and you have to study it for an exam. It can be a pain if it’s a long, close-typed, legal document or something you have to check through to keep yourself right, but you could do with a lawyer to interpret for you. It can be frustrating if it’s in an unfamiliar language or if it’s badly written and lazily presented.

But, oh, reading can be fun!

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It can be such a pleasure when you find a subject that enthrals you, a story you believe in, poetry that resounds with you, a writer who reaches your soul.

The joy of getting ‘lost’ in a book.

The delight of finding a ‘new’ author, someone whose work you have never read before and find you love. Their style, their language, the story. When it all adds up to a book you don’t want ever to end.

Have you read anything recently that just makes you want to curl up in a deep armchair by the fire and read way into the night? Or a book you read on the beach that had you turning pages but forgetting to turn to the sun?

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There are quite a few authors who usually ‘hit the spot’ for me: Anita Shreve; Rosie Thomas; Nicholas Sparks; Maggie O’Farrell; John Grisham; Steinbeck, Austen, Trollope, Twain … the list is long …

Reading can be such a Pleasure.

Don’t you just love it?

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If you’re looking to find a book to read by the fire, curled up on the sofa or your favourite armchair, or you’re looking for a book to read on the plane or by the beach this summer, why not try

Searching for Summer

The First in the Reluctant Detective Series

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Mirabelle’s daughter, Summer, disappears one Friday night, and Mirabelle would dearly love to rewind that day and live it differently. Instead, she is left not knowing if Summer is alive or dead, went of her own accord or was taken against her will.
Casting all other concerns aside – food, sleep, work, relationships – in her desperate need to find the answers, she takes to the streets of Edinburgh in search of Summer.
Searching along wynds snaking behind old buildings, through ancient doors and tiny spiral stairways, showing Summer’s photograph to everyone she meets in shops, museums and nightclubs, Mirabelle becomes a reluctant detective, gathering clues, trying to make sense of them in order to find her missing daughter.

Searching for Summer

Available on Amazon now

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If you’ve already read and enjoyed Searching for Summer, and would like to read another novel by Christine Campbell, click here, and you will be directed to Christine Campbell’s Amazon Author Page, where you will find details and links to all five novels.

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Always Nice to have a Visitor.

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

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Take it away, Zee….

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

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

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

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

Final Cover AIllustrator Edition A

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

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

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

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

For more information and reflections about my writing process, author mindset and marketing strategies, visit my writer’s blog http://zeesouthcombe.com

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Searching for Summer Book Trailer

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

I’ll let it speak for itself.

I hope you enjoy it.

Searching for Summer by Christine Campbell

Searching for Summer

http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00TDYRLGK

A Team Pow Production

http://www.timpowfilms.net

Wild Mountain Thyme – Aimee and Tim Pow

Is Writing Becoming too Expensive a Hobby?

What comes to your mind when you think of pirates? Captain Hook with his mishmash of misfits and lovable rogues? Johnny Depp in swashbuckling form on the Caribbean? Or perhaps you no longer see them as storybook characters or romantic film stars, but as the robbers and murderers, the literal breed that sail the seas. Or even the highjackers of other people’s intellectual and artistic property.
This article by fellow author and blogger Jo Robinson, highlights the last category. Those who feel no compunction when stealing from singer, artist, actor or author.
When reading this article, please do keep in mind that the theft is real.
As an indie author myself, I know how much time, effort, pain and toil go into writing a novel. There is also financial expenditure. Even if you don’t have to pay for publication, you are recommended to hire a professional editor, proofreader, and cover designer. Then buy some of your own books to give reviewers and media outlets in order to gain some promotion for your book. Being a writer does not come cheap.
Most paperback novels cost little more than the price of a half-decent cup of coffee and a cookie. Ebooks cost far less.
How much of that does the author see? Depending which publisher, which distributor, which bookstore — very, very little.
And now the pirates are taking over the marketplace.
Look, they are swinging in on their long, trailing vines of dot coms and dot cos. Hiding in the internet swamps, reaching out with long tentacle arms to lure the unwary into buying their wares, their STOLEN goods.
So please, being a writer is already becoming a very expensive hobby for independent authors, please let them see a little reward for their hard work. Please help them recoup a little of their outlay.
Please buy only from approved bookseller sites, places where you know the author has placed their book for your reading pleasure, without their piracy pain.

Jo Robinson

Something’s got me seriously confused. I saw a post about getting your books taken down from some pirate sites, so as a matter of interest I googled mine again, and found that not only has African Me been loaded on to heaps more torrent sites for free or paid download, but that now Shadow People has joined the pirate party as well. The thing that’s got me wondering is that they’re both being offered on ebay too as paper books. I stopped looking after four different sellers there. (Click on pics to see them bigger)

African Me Satellite TV Robinson Jo 1492719102   eBay.png1

At first I thought it could be a reader selling them second hand, but when I had a proper squiz I saw that they’re being offered as brand new/unopened. The sellers have multiple copies too – ten each mostly in stock, and they’re selling them for less than what Amazon’s charging for them.

Shadow People The Finding Robinson Jo   eBay

I looked…

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Christine Campbell Fascinating I Am

Usually, I try not to make WriteWhereYouAre all about me, by reblogging interesting articles from others’ blogs, or writing about things other than my books. Occasionally I share one of my poems or a poem or short story someone else has written. All in an attempt to interest and entertain you.

As part of the promotion of my new novel, Searching for Summer, I have the privilege of writing some guest posts for other bloggers, being interviewed by some others, and having my book reviewed by yet others, so please bear with me over the next few weeks as I share these various posts here on my own blog.

I shall try to intersperse these promotional posts with posts about other things and other people, but I am kinda hoping you’ll forgive me for being a wee bittie excited about my new book and wanting to talk about it more than a wee bittie!

Author and blogger, Anna Stenhouse, invited me to write a piece for her blog, Novels Now. Her theme for guest pieces is ‘Fascinating I am,’ and she invited me to share five fascinating facts about myself. Well, I wrinkled my brow, scratched my head, and hummed and hawed, and came up with five facts about myself. Whether they fascinate is another matter, which I shall leave up to your judgement. I hope you at least find them interesting.

Novels Now

Christine Campbell Christine Campbell

Christine Campbell, novelist, Women’s Contemporary fiction is the first Fascinating I Am subject of 2015. welcome to Novels Now, Christine.

First of all, I have to say, “What a heading to live up to!” I doubt if ‘fascinating’ is an adjective often used of me — but I like it!

Fascinating Fact One:

I don’t have a favourite colour, book, song, child or grandchild.

Just as I love different colours for different reasons because they are all different, so it is with books, songs, my children, and my grandchildren. I think it is amazing how love stretches and deepens. When stretched, it doesn’t get thinner so it can go further. It just grows and makes it possible to love more.

Fascinating Fact Two:

When I was approaching forty, I decided I’d like to trace my birth father. The only thing I knew about him was his name…

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