The Importance of Being a Reader

When asked the question, “Is reading important in your life?” my experience is that many people say they enjoy reading but it doesn’t play that big a part in their day to day life. Some only find time to read when they are on holiday, some while travelling. And there are those who derive little or no pleasure from reading. I’ve even come across people who profess they’d love to write a novel but they’ve rarely or never read one!

I’m aghast at this latter category because it’s a bit like saying you want to bake a cake without ever having tasted one and without a recipe to follow. “But I have this great idea for a wedding cake. I mean, how hard can it be to throw a few ingredients in a bowl, give them a bit of a mix, pour the mixture in a tin and pop it in the oven for ten minutes or so?” Aaaaargh!!! I’m sure there will be bakers all over the world throwing their recipe books in the air at the thought.

Yet there are books being produced by the dozens with less preparation and by people who it would seem have never read a book in their lives, if the grammar, spelling and construction are anything to go by. “But I have this great idea for a story. I mean, how hard can it be to scribble it down, type it up, slap a cover on it and upload it on the net.”

Like the potential wedding cake maker, who’s seen the end result, can measure, mix and heat things in the oven – has even had a nibble of a finished cake – our potential novelist has seen books on the shelves in the supermarket, learned how to put pen to paper in school, can even type with one finger, may even have read the blurb on the back of the book of the film of…

I say again, “Aaaaarrrrgh!!!”

So, to rephrase the question, how important is reading in a writer’s life?

I’d like to put it to you, that reading widely is the first step of many in learning how to write and how to write better.

How to Support an Author – and get a Free Signed Copy of a Novel

Do you like a challenge? For some, January is a month they enjoy challenging themselves to start a training regime, a dietary regime or tackle their New Year resolutions list. Oooh! I love a good list – though I tend not to go for the New Year resolution list, since, for me, it’s an invitation to failure and I don’t believe in reinforcing failure. I prefer to think positively, ‘This coming year, I’m going to try harder and get better all round.’ And that includes my reading and reviewing habits.

Do you enjoy a good book? At this time of the year, most folks have some time off and this is traditionally a time for enjoying family, fun and relaxation. For lots of us, that means getting time and opportunity to read.

Luxury.

But do we ever spare a thought for the authors of the books we enjoy? How could we make their holiday happy too?

I came across a post on FaceBook by blogger ShaylaRaquel.com,  where she suggested 31 ways to support authors in January. She offered this printable PDF which I’ve reproduced here.

It seems a pretty good list to me and I’m sure there are many authors like me who would turn cartwheels in the snow if someone would support them to that extent. In fact, most of us would settle for half that list. Or quarter. In fact, any and all support is welcomed by any author, so I intend to try harder to support other authors by reading and reviewing their books. For that reason, I was delighted to come across this list of 31 suggestions how I might do so.

I’ve copied it here to help you see there are many ways, 31 on this list, you might support your favourite authors if you are up for the challenge.

If I happen to be one of your favourites, or if you’d like to find out if I could be, here’s the link to my Amazon author page to get you started, since top of the list is ‘Buy their e-book.’ Since all my novels are available also in paperback, you might prefer to jump to number 7, 9 or 15 to start you off. The same link will take you to where you can buy the paperbacks.

If you tell me in the comments when you’ve bought one of my novels in either format and posted a review on Amazon, I’ll pop your name in a hat and pick a random reader to send a free signed copy of one of my novels.

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Making a Book Cover

Who would have thought from all the fun and nonsense we had that day, we could manage to get a new book cover? 😀

Writing a novel is only one part of the process of producing a novel. There are many other parts to the process, including designing a cover.

And there are many parts to designing a cover, including, in this instance, setting up a photo shoot in the garden with one of my sons and his wife. While one of my sons-in-law set up the camera, they couldn’t resist fooling around so it all turned into great fun. Happy memories 😀

With the resulting book cover completed by the photographer, our own Tim Pow of Pow Productions, here it is, the release of my new novel, For What it’s Worth.

For What It's Worth Final

So what’s the story?

Yvonne’s biological alarm tells her it’s time to start a family before she’s past her prime, but first her husband, Hugh, must find a job. But will any job do?
When Hugh seems to be taking his time to find one, Yvonne finds one for him, but is it the right job? Will it cause more stress when she is already juggling two jobs herself and is trying to hold on to their flat?
When things start to go wrong, Yvonne finds herself facing a choice no woman should ever have to – her marriage or a baby.
When she met Hugh, Yvonne was working as an Edinburgh tour guide, so she knows the city well and has a great fondness for it, taking us to some of her favourite places as she tries to work out what the important things in her life are worth: her dreams, her plans – and her marriage.
For What it’s Worth is contemporary women’s fiction with more than a touch of romance, seasoned with a sprinkling of humour, a spot of drama and a splash of tears.
It is not part of The Reluctant Detective Series by the same author, but it is a spin off where we get to know Mirabelle’s sister, Yvonne, better. Mirabelle has a part to play in For What it’s Worth, but in a supporting role rather than the main character.
Although it is a stand-alone novel, those readers who have enjoyed the earlier series will no doubt enjoy being reacquainted with so many of the characters and finding out what Mirabelle has been up to since finding Summer, but the main storyline concentrates on Yvonne and her husband Hugh and explores themes familiar to many young thirty-something couples when they decide it’s time to expand their family.
Life is complicated, love is complicated, must our dreams be complicated too?

Like all Christine Campbell novels, For What it’s Worth is available both as paperback and eBook on Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, FeedaRead.com and can be ordered in bookshops.

Enjoy!

5 Facts You may not have Known…

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

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  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,

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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:

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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 FeedaRead.com

Enjoy!

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101 Names to Conjure With

3D CC Promo Visual

These are my published novels. Don’t you just love the covers?

I’m looking forward to showing you the cover to the next novel, called For What it’s Worth, which will be coming soon. I’ve done the writing, the rewriting, the editing, the proofreading, the polishing, the cover is underway, and it’s almost ready to go to the publisher. Yay!

So what’s next, you may well ask. And I’ll tell you.

My next WIP is called Gold Plated. I completed the first draft some time ago and am about to embark on the second draft. This is the time when my mind keeps going back to the story and the characters. I’ve let it marinate for a few months, since November actually. It was my November 2016 NaNoWriMo novel, so it has marinated for almost eight months and it’s started to bubble up into my consciousness again.

During the writing of the first draft, I became unhappy with the name I had chosen for one of my characters, and I am ready to think about what she should be called instead. She’s not a Rose or a Violet, nor is she a Tabitha or a Geraldine. Because she is my character, created in my imagination, I can call her whatever I want to, but I’d like it to be a name that fits her and the story.

She is a feisty, Scottish lady in her early fifties, but she was named by her much gentler, artistic mother. If you stop and think about it, a mother has no idea at all what her child will turn out like, so she can hardly choose a name that will describe that child’s nature as she grows and matures. It’s a fortunate coincidence when the name happens to fit in real life, an easier thing to pull off by the creator of fiction. So am I looking for a name a gentle, artistic soul might name her daughter, but that actually suits the daughter’s stronger, feisty nature? Or might it be fun if it turns out the mother chose a name that really doesn’t suit at all? Any thoughts?

I put this question to a group of FaceBook friends, and we had a lot of fun with their suggestions. I must have at least 101 names to conjure with, and a short list that’s not much shorter. I wondered if you’d care to join the fun and help me out at the same time.

Just tell me in the comments what you think would be a flowery, artistic name that a feisty, fiery lady would love or hate to be called. Either way, it will be fun to get your suggestions. They may add to my shortlist or help me whittle it down. Who knows, you may be the one who comes up with the name I settle on.

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To read more about, or buy any of  my published books:

Please click the link to

Christine Campbell Amazon Author page

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Writing Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Featured Book: The Writer’s Book Launch Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Introducing a Revamp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

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

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

Do you think hard work does pay off?

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The Shopping Habit

 

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FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is it about shopping that gets me?

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

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

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

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

Making It Home

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

Christine Campbell Amazon Author Page

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

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Book Review: Courting the Countess by Anne Stenhouse

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

Put it in Writing

courting-the-countess

Genre: Historical Fiction

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

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

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

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