I Made it Home!

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been busy running my novel, Making it Home, through the Kindle Create program in order to give you, the reader, a better ebook reading experience. There should be no formatting problems in the Kindle edition now.

Plus, I have tidied up things like punctuation, a couple of spelling mistakes and given the book a general health check, and it’s ready to greet the day with a smile, face washed, teeth cleaned. Yay! Feeling fresh and good.

During this health check, I was willing to make any adjustments that seemed necessary, no matter how small or how large. Much to my joy, I found I still love the story and I’m still happy with how I wrote it – in fact, sorry to sound immodest, but I enjoyed my own novel tremendously.

Making it Home has had some lovely reviews over the years and it would be great if this new, spruced up version gained some more. If you haven’t read it already, there are a whole bunch of readers who could assure you you’d enjoy it, so why not give it a read?

It’s Women’s Contemporary Fiction, has a generous touch of romance, a good helping of friendship, a soupçon of intrigue, a pinch of humour, and a shake of mystery.

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Kate had a home, but her heart wasn’t in it – or in her marriage. So she left them both.

Phyllis had a home. Her heart was in it, but she was lonely. 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, shopping. There’s a problem with retail therapy – you can overdose.

As friendship grows between these three women, they help one another face up to their problems, realising along the way, that every heart needs a home and it takes more than a house to make one.

A contemporary novel about three women who want more.

At some point in the future, I hope to give the paperback version the same health check, though the formatting has not been a problem there. Meanwhile, you can be assured the story is unchanged and reads as happily in either version, paperback or ebook, and is available on Amazon. The paperback is also available in WaterstonesBarnes and Noble, or can be ordered in any good bookstore.

To find out about all my books:  Amazon Author Page

 

Gold Plated Reading

Looking for a book to take to the beach? To read on the plane? Or to cosy on the couch with? Do you prefer a paperback copy? Something you can see in the sunshine, something that feels good in your hands?

Well, Gold Plated is now available in both paperback and ebook format. And according to the early readers of the ebook, it’s a great read. Perfect for summer or winter reading, whichever way you prefer to read.

 Rosanna and Paul are celebrating fifty years of marriage. Their daughter, Heather, has helped plan their Golden Wedding Anniversary party, and it looks like being a wonderful night: sixties music, friends and family present, and Rosanna has bought the perfect golden gift for Paul. What could possibly go wrong?

When an uninvited guest shows up, Rosanna’s world is shaken and she is forced to look back over their fifty golden years and see them as they were.

Were they golden? Or just gold-plated?

Is this the kind of book you’re looking for? A love story that spans five decades, but is under threat and may not survive any longer. One with this sort of recommendation? —

“An excellent story.”

“I was hooked from the first line.”

“I started reading Gold Plated at this 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.”

“Loved it! What an enjoyable read!”

“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.”

“I have just finished reading Gold Plated, and thoroughly enjoyed it.”

N.B. If, when you go to Amazon, you read that this book is ‘out of stock’, don’t worry. It’s never ‘in stock’. Amazon don’t ever store a stock of POD books. They are what the acronym indicates. They are Printed On Demand. So do go ahead and order the book. It shouldn’t take long to pop through your letterbox.

It is also possible to order Gold Plated through Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, FeedaRead or any good bookstore.

Enjoy!

 

To Be or To Do? That is the Question.

I read an article by Richard Branson. It took the form of an open letter in which he invited his readers to cultivate happiness and claimed he isn’t happy because he’s successful, wealthy and connected – but is successful, wealthy and connected because he’s happy. Now, while I’m not convinced that’s always the order of things, I do believe being a happy person can draw a measure of success to you.

Quoting Branson: “So many people get caught up in doing what they think will make them happy but, in my opinion, this is where they fail. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being. In order to be happy, you need to think consciously about it. Don’t forget the to-do list, but remember to write a to-be list too. If you allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment, happiness will follow. Because allowing yourself just to be, puts things into perspective. Try it. Be still. Be present.”

Now, while that’s a lovely sentiment, it’s also the words of a very rich, successful man. These words may be harder to apply if you are poor and hungry and struggling to feed your kids. Too many people have to do two, three or more jobs just to keep a roof over their family’s head and food in their bellies. The idea of stopping to ‘be in the moment’ may be foreign to them.

We are created, not just to be, but also to do. When created, mankind were given the mandate to subdue and cultivate the earth, to extend the borders of paradise. And they were promised happiness while doing it. They disobeyed and it all went terribly wrong, but there is still happiness in hard work. It hasn’t altered the fact we were created to do, not just to be. The secret is to find the balance.

There’s something about the satisfaction of working hard, of putting that food on the table, of keeping that roof over your head: the feel-good factor.

To put it simplistically: Working to feed your family raises self-respect. Working to make your fortune raises expectations, followed by disappointment when reality fails to match them. Working for the sake of working raises stress levels – and perhaps that’s what Branson meant. If work is for the sake of it, or for the goal of success and fortune, it might be time to take his advice and take that moment.

I particularly like part of his conclusion: “Happiness shouldn’t be a goal, it should be a habit. Take the focus off doing, and start being every day. Allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment. Take the focus off everything you think you need to do, and start being.”

After reading the article, I spent quite a bit of time sitting in the garden, in the sunshine, just being. I took the moment, I appreciated the moment, I took the focus off everything I thought I should be doing and just let myself relax and be present in my life. It felt good. A feeling I often have because it’s something I often do. I’m blessed in that I don’t have to do multiple jobs to feed my family. I don’t have to work all day until I’m exhausted. I have time to take my moments. And I’m grateful for that.

In one of those moments, I got to thinking about all the opportunities I have and take to actually be present in my life, and realised they are many. Every morning, I stand at my bedroom window, look out at the day and say thank you for it and for my life. I am happy. Often, later in the day, I pause in whatever I am doing to take a thankfulness walk around the garden. Because I’m happy. Before I eat, I pause to say thank you for my food and think about how blessed I am to have it. And there are many other times during the day when I am consciously ‘present’ in my life. And consciously happy. But more often than not, it’s not because I’m just being, but because I’m busy doing.

One of the things I like to be busy doing is writing. I love writing. I find it satisfying work. It may not ever take me rich and famous, but it does make me happy.

Thinking about my writing, I realise that I gave Rosanna, the main character in Gold Plated, satisfying work to do, and it made her happy. Her painting and her dressmaking are not just hobbies: there have been times in her life when she has earned from them. And she has been happy and fulfilled doing so. But I also gave her ‘a moment’ here and there too. Let her tell you about one of them:

~~~

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The walk down to the little wooden jetty I can see ahead of me is glorious. A few steps from the cabin, the path becomes dappled with the shade of the many trees beside it, their leaves having already covered it in gold. I love the scrunch of them under my boots. The only other sound is of the many birds who live in those trees. Or perhaps they’re visiting, like me.

There is a rich, musty smell. An earthy smell, mixed with warmth trapped by the canopy of trees. A faint rustling of woodland creatures scampering for cover as I invade their territory. I step with a light tread, having no desire to disturb them.

I’ve tried to imagine the joy, the luxury of sitting by the banks of some stream or loch, lost in thought, with nowhere else to be, nothing else to do, and, while I could see how that could be welcome if you were a particularly busy person in your day-to-day life, I could never see how it would be different from my day-to-day life, where I am pretty much left to my own devices much of the time.

But it is different. The air smells different. Laden with wafts of wet vegetation, rich earth, sunshine and water. If asked, I would not have thought water has a smell, but it does. When it’s an open loch of fresh, sparkling water, it smells of all good things, tingling my nostrils and making me smile. I close my eyes and fill my lungs with it.

The sound of the water lapping against the wood of the jetty, the sparkle of the sun on water, the feel of the air, fresh and cool on my face, the need for patience and stillness – both qualities come easily to me – it is all wonderful, peaceful, satisfying. I thought I’d do a lot of thinking, but I find I don’t. Not the thinking I need to do, anyway. Instead, I allow my mind to wander across the loch to ramble in the fir trees on the opposite bank. I can make out a wee track going through them and climbing the hill behind, and I imagine myself walking there, scrambling up the hill to look over the top. As is the way in Scotland, there’ll be more hills beyond the ones I can see, layer upon layer of heather-clad slopes. Easy to get lost without a map or a compass, just as I am lost in my personal life – without map or compass. Right now, it’s pleasant to let my mind drift on the wind, caring nothing about being lost. Time enough to find the right path home.

~~~

Gold Plated is available now on Amazon Kindle and will be available soon in paperback.

~~~

Where and when do you find time to just be? To cultivate happiness?

I have to say, I enjoyed the few minutes I took after reading that article.

Then I took three deep breaths, savoured happiness for another few moments before getting back to the housework and my writing – things I not only needed, but also wanted to do. Because they make me happy.

~~~

Life in Fiction

Writers, what do your characters DO? When they’re not catching criminals, falling in love, crossing the ocean or solving mysteries, what to they do?

Readers, have you ever thought outside the book? Have you ever wondered what the characters you’ve come to know and love do when they’re not cavorting across the pages of your books?

Or have you, the author, told your readers already? Have you included the characters hobbies and interests as part of their story, part of revealing their character? Because, let’s face it, we all do something in our spare time, even if it’s sitting in front of the tv, or falling asleep on the couch. Our interests and hobbies tell a lot about us.

If someone tells you they like to go scuba diving and hillwalking, you quickly get the impression they are pretty active, energetic, out-doorsy. If they say they like to go fishing, taking the dog for a walk in the park, doing a bit of gardening, you’ll think of them as a little less adventurous but still active and still enjoy being in the fresh air. What about stamp collecting, video-gaming, knitting, reading – quieter pursuits? Perhaps they’re altogether quieter and prefer to be indoors.

Sometimes you meet someone who likes a real mixture of all of the above. Maybe most of the people you know like doing a good mix of things.

But, whatever it is they do, it can shape how they live their lives. It dictates how they use their time, how they spend their money, how much they interact with other people.

As writers, if we want to make our characters live on the page, if we want our readers to identify with them, feel they know them, almost expect to bump into them on the street, then we need to think about what our characters do when they’re not rushing about through the main plot of the story. We might only allude to it in passing, or we might build the story round it. Either way, it can enhance our writing to give our characters a hobby, an interest, a passion.

As readers, do you find it helps you identify with the character who enjoys gardening, as you do? Or who scuba dives like you’d like to? Who horse rides? Or who plays video games? Or knits? Or sews?

In my latest release, Gold Plated, my main character, Rosanna, loves to paint, to design clothes and to make them. She’s enjoyed these pursuits since she was a young girl.

Can you imagine her lying on the grass in her mother’s garden, sketching the shrubs and trees, painting the flowers? Or sitting at the patio table taking inspiration from the colours and shapes of the flowers for the next dress she intends to design and make?

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What about now she’s older? Can you picture her sitting in her conservatory, looking out at her garden, still allowing nature to inspire the dresses she designs

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What does her interest in such a pursuit, and the fact it has been the interest of a lifetime, tell you about her? She’s turned seventy now and it’s still her passion. Does that help you picture her?

Perhaps if she tells you about the dress she’s designed and made for her Golden Wedding Anniversary party:

“The dress I’m going to wear tonight is hidden in the wardrobe till later. I want it to be a surprise for Paul. He hasn’t seen it yet and has no idea of the peaceful hours I’ve spent sewing while he’s been out and about. It makes me smile every time I open the wardrobe door, push aside the things it hides behind, and see my handiwork hanging there. Inspired by the pale, creamy-yellow, woodland primroses that bloom in our garden every spring, designed and fashioned over the summer months after their faded beauty folded and faded further, it has been such a delight to make. Impossible to improve on nature, all I could do was allow the delicate flowers to inform my eye and guide my hand as I sketched and painted, desiring to capture the essence of their beauty in the spring to infuse into my work in the summer.
The chiffon material I sought out is gossamer thin and beautiful, the colour soft as sunshine on a misty day, and the dress slips over my still-trim figure in flattering, floaty, fluted layers to just below my knees.
Being so fine, it is one of the most difficult materials I have ever worked with, but worth every painstaking moment of the hours and days it took to cut and sew. Even the buttery silk lining had to be handled gently. Never have I worked so slowly and never have I been so rewarded for my care.
My fingers melt with pleasure as they linger on the fabric, and I long to feel my creation slip over my body to caress my skin.
I thrill with contented anticipation.”

~~~

Rosanna and Paul are celebrating fifty years of marriage.

Their daughter, Heather, has helped plan their Golden Wedding Anniversary party, and it looks like being a wonderful night: sixties music, all their friends and family present, and Rosanna has bought the perfect golden gift for Paul.

What could possibly go wrong?

When an uninvited guest shows up, Rosanna’s world is shaken and she is forced to look back over their fifty golden years and see them as they were.

Were they golden? Or just gold-plated?

Gold Plated is available right now on Amazon Kindle. You can read it FREE if you have Amazon Prime. And the paperback will be published in a few weeks.

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Click here to buy Gold Plated on Amazon Kindle

Give yourself a treat!

Enjoy!

Gold Plated

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http://mybook.to/GoldPlated

We were walking on the beach in Embo in the North of Scotland, September 2016.

Often, walking together is a great time to chat, sharing thoughts and dreams, decisions and schemes, but today we were silent. There was a heavy mist on the North Sea and the horizon was hiding, taking our words with it. There was something about the haar: it silenced birds, the wind, the whisper of long grass as well as our words – but it couldn’t silence the continuous rolling waves as they broke onto the beach – and it couldn’t silence our thoughts.

Often, thoughts would tumble out of our silence and we would share them. There was no reason not to today – yet we didn’t. We were enjoying a world shrouded in a soft, white veil, from which rays of sunshine struggled to break free while the sea, ruthless, relentless, ripped through to crash on the shore.

I didn’t ask what my lovely hubby was thinking, but concentrated on the story that was forming in my mind.

We were here on vacation with our family and there, set like a pearl in the middle of the two weeks, was our anniversary. Forty-nine years of married bliss.

But that’s never true, is it?

No-one is perfect, so no two imperfect people can forge a perfect marriage – not even us. We’d had ups and downs – never ins and outs – and some years were better than others – but we’d never not wanted to be married to one another.

Our children asked how we wanted to celebrate our 50 years of marriage next year, our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

I got to thinking about it. What did we want? What would we do? What were the children plotting? We told them, ‘Nothing much. Nothing expensive, no silly gold ornaments that we don’t need, golden gifts that we’ll never use. It would be nice just to be together.’

The conversation still swirled in my mind as my husband and I walked in our misty, magical silence. 

Then, in a sudden rush of gold, the sun won the struggle to light the world, compelling us to pause to take a few photographs.

I stood at the water’s edge.

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Wave after wave of water rolling in, breaking with cold white froth over the landscape of the beach – year after year of life rolling in, breaking with warm love over the landscape of our marriage.

But what if?

What if it had been different?

So I wrote a story about a love that spanned more than fifty years.

Or did it?

Rosanna and Paul are celebrating fifty years of marriage.

Their daughter, Heather, has helped plan their Golden Wedding Anniversary party, and it looks like being a wonderful night: sixties music, all their friends and family present, and Rosanna has bought the perfect golden gift for Paul. What could possibly go wrong?

When an uninvited guest shows up, Rosanna’s world is shaken and she is forced to look back over their fifty golden years and see them as they were.

Were they golden? Or just gold-plated?

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Gold Plated is with the publisher now so the paperback should be launched soon. Meantime, it’s already available on Amazon Kindle.

Sunshine and Birdsong

There I was, sitting in the garden, feeling the sun on my face, listening to the birds singing, trying to pick out one from another. It was idyllic. My mind turned to my writing, as it so often does, and the next chapter of the novel I am working on which I’m looking forward to writing when I go indoors. I became aware of a change in the feel of the air. Opening my eyes, I saw the large black clouds weathering in on me, and that got me to thinking even more.

My Work In Progress is a lot like the Scottish weather. There are parts of it that are warm and sunny, with lots of the feel-good factor, some parts have me chuckling as I write them, and then there are parts of it that have dark clouds blotting out the sun for Yvonne, my main character. The part I’m about to write today is a bit like the day itself, in that it has sunshine and showers. Yvonne’s off to sort out a difficult situation with her husband, Hugh, and she can’t see the happy ending right now.

~~~

My WIP follows on from the first three books of the Reluctant Detective series. It isn’t really part of the series, more an offshoot of it.

If you remember, or if you haven’t started reading the series yet, Yvonne’s sister, Mirabelle, became a reluctant detective when she discovered she was really good at finding missing people and reuniting them with their loved ones, especially young girls or young women who had been missing. It all started when her own daughter, Summer, disappeared one Friday night …

Searching for Summer  ~~   Traces of Red  ~~  Rusty Gold ~ coming soon

I’m expecting my proof copy of Rusty Gold back from the publisher any day now, so, after I have checked it over to make sure everything is as it should be, it really won’t be long until it is released. So, if you haven’t read Searching for Summer and Traces of Red, you’ve just about got time to catch up before Rusty Gold is available to buy on Amazon, which is where you’ll find all of my books.

*** UPDATE ***

Rusty Gold is now available for purchase as a paperback or as an eBook on

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones or FeedARead.com

or can be ordered from most bookstores

http://author.to/ChristineCampbell

~~~

Have a nice day, whatever you’re doing.

I’d love to hear what the day holds for you: Gardening? Golfing? Hill-walking? Cooking? Family? Television? Driving? Boating? Or what?

Do share in the comments.

~~~

Juggling

Everyone loves to juggle – right? Anyone can juggle – right?
Have you ever thought of trying it, ever picked up a couple of oranges from the fruit bowl and had a go?
Let’s face it, we all juggle something, whether it’s daily tasks, time management, knives or clubs. But I always thought juggling pretty coloured balls would be easy – until I tried it!
Anyway, this is an interesting and fun post by a juggling enthusiast, Tim Pow.
Enjoy!

The Adventures of Tim Pow

I started juggling about 10 years ago. When most people try to learn to juggle they might reach the dizzying heights of the 3 ball cascade, which is the standard 3 ball juggling pattern. If they get there, its mission accomplished and they can get on with their lives without the need to throw and (sometimes) catch any object possible.I wasn’t satisfied with that.

Like many, many things in my life, I became a little bit obsessed with it, learning more and more tricks and patterns. Then I moved onto juggling clubs, then knives. And, to my wife’s dismay, fruit. At the peak of my juggling days I juggled at a charity event where I juggled 3 glowing orbs in the dark and finished with a few knife tricks.

long exposure 3 ball cascade
Like most things, my interest faded in and out once I felt that I was acceptably…

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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)

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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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