101 Names to Conjure With

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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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Interview with Christine Campbell

It was such a pleasure to be interviewed by Elizabeth Hein for her blog. She asked some interesting questions about my writing process and the theme that runs through all my novels.

Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling In The Storage Room

Rusty Gold small .jpeg

It’s my pleasure to welcome Christine Campbell to the Storage Room today. Rusty Gold, the third book in her Reluctant Detective Series, was released yesterday so it’s a real treat to talk with her today. Christine and I write in the same genre and tend to address many of the same issues, but in very different ways. I love how that happens. Anyway, here’s Christine –

What genre books do you write?

Contemporary Women’s Fiction, though some of them almost fall into the cosy mystery/cosy crime sort of area.

What types of books do you typically read?

Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Cosy Crime, Mystery, Legal/courtroom novels, Relationship novels (not really romance)

Whatever I read, I like it to be a ‘clean’ read, as in no swearing, sex or violence. I’m also not into fantasy or science fiction – and especially not paranormal or supernatural.

So I suppose I have a…

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How to Plan a Writers’ Retreat

Ever thought about planning your very own Writers’ Retreat?

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I suspect most authors dream of a quiet cottage somewhere away from the day-to-day routine, somewhere to concentrate on getting that first draft finished, or that tricky edit done, a place conducive to writing with as few distractions as possible.

The ones you see advertised in writing magazines always look terrific, but are often expensive. Then there’s the uncomfortable feeling that you won’t know anyone. What if you have to share a room? What if there are people there that you just don’t gel with? What if not everyone is serious about getting on with writing and they see the week as an excuse to party?

So many reasons to never get around to indulging in the luxury of a writers’ retreat.

But what if you were the organiser? You, or your friends? Many of these doubts and worries would be alleviated. You could choose the location, the price, and the company. You could set the tone.

For the past few years, that is exactly what my writing friends and I have done.

So, how do we go about it?

Perhaps the first decision has to be who to go with. That was an easy one for us because we had already formed a small Writers’ Club, PenPals. We are friends who got to know one another through our love of writing, and, although there are some ten or so of us, nominally, there are three of us who meet regularly, so three of us who have gone away together the last few years. The first time, there were four of us, but we haven’t managed more than that at any one retreat. We have found three or four to work well, though I can imagine six or eight would still be manageable, if you found a large enough cottage.

The beauty of the smaller number is privacy.

When we went away in March, this year, the cottage was large enough that we could have a room each, great if someone snores! And great for being able to write without distraction.

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The second decision is where to go.

This is not difficult. There are always going to be a few deciding factors: price; availability, and suitability among the important ones.

Let’s deal with suitability first.

Suitability might include size. How many of you are committed to the venture? Are you willing to share two to a room? These factors will help determine the size of cottage you need.

Suitability might also include location. How far are you willing to travel? Is there an obvious halfway point between your various homes? Is there a pleasant area nearby, where there are holiday cottages for rent? Is the cottage somewhere suitably quiet? Renting one in a holiday park may not be conducive to quiet reflection and peaceful writing.

Next, you might consider price.

How much will your share of the rental, the petrol and the food be? How much are you each willing to pay? If you have a figure in mind, it might help you narrow down any options.

Obviously, the price will vary depending on the size of the cottage, but it will also vary depending on when you choose to go. Most holiday cottages are cheaper ‘off-season’ when the demand for them is lower.

Armed with information like that, you can then go on-line to look for your retreat.

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This last time, in March, we went a little further afield than usual, paid a little more than usual and had a bigger cottage. The main reason was because one of our members was writing a book set in that particular area and we wanted to support her in exploring it. We didn’t regret the decision to go there. It was a fabulous cottage in a stunning location, here in Scotland on a hill overlooking Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.

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Okay! So let’s say you have chosen your company, your location, your price. You’ve booked your cottage and you’re ready to go.

What now?

How do you turn a few friends holidaying together in a cottage into a Writers’ Retreat?

In my next post, we will discuss what to do to get the maximum benefit from your inspirational break.

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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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Balancing Act

Samantha Dunaway Bryant was kind enough to ask me to be a guest on her blog, Balancing Act, and I’m delighted to share the post, and to direct you to her excellent blog:

http://samanthadunawaybryant.blogspot.co.uk
Balancing Act
Guest Posting: Christine Campbell, Author of Searching for Summer
Posted: 16 Feb 2015 03:00 AM PST
It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Christine Campbell, a new novelist friend of mine, and someone who understands balances family and a writing life. Enjoy her guest post! Love, Samantha.
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Searching for Summer FinalIn my latest book, Searching for Summer, Mirabelle, the main protagonist discovers at a young age that writing has power:

‘Learning to read and write turned lights on for Mirabelle: the realisation she had such an awesome tool of communication shone brightly for one so young. Stories in her childish printing lined the classroom wall, interspersed with those of her classmates, although praise and recognition had dried up at home since her father’s departure.
Writing made her feel good.
She instinctively knew she held in her hand the ability to reach other people, even her father in his distant home. She had looked at the map in the classroom, standing on a chair, her little finger tracing the distance from Scotland to Jamaica, her young brain computing, if the whole island in which Edinburgh was a tiny speck, smaller than the full stop she’d learned to put at the end of her sentences, if the whole island of Great Britain was narrower than her finger, then the large expanse of ocean wider than both her hands put together meant Jamaica was a world away. Out of reach of her presence but, thanks to the postal service she had learned about at school, not out of reach of her pencil.’

In that respect, at least, I have something in common with the character I created — or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say she has something in common with me. Like Mirabelle, learning to read and write ‘turned lights on’ for me.
From very young, I used books as a refuge, a place to escape the harshness of reality, and writing as a way to express the effects of that reality.
As I grew up, married and had a family, reading and writing still played an important place in my life, but it had to play a lesser part to the day to day needs of my children, so I wrote short stories and an occasional column for the Women’s page of a weekly newspaper. But there were novels bubbling away inside my head, stories that couldn’t be told in a mere 1,000 or 2,000 words. They needed a bigger canvas. So, as my children became less dependent on me for filling their needs, I started writing novels.
I have been richly blessed in my life because I met and married my best friend, and he has always understood my need to write in order to make sense of the emotions and stories that swirl about inside me that can only be expressed that way. He is ‘an enabler’ and he has always tried to give me space and time to write.
Still, it is a balancing act. Everyone has obligations to fulfil, whether they be work, children, older parents or dependent spouses. Whether we have meals to prepare, books to balance, shelves to stack or boards to sit on.
Writing, for most people, has to be balanced against these other responsibilities. And that’s not always easy. There are those whose work is their writing, and perhaps the rest of us envy them, thinking it would be luxury. I doubt it. If writing is their work, then it, in itself, becomes an obligation.
But the lights ‘turned on’ by learning to read and write have never dimmed for me. Reading and writing give so much joy. I am passionate about them both. Now that the children are all married and having children of their own, I have so much more time to indulge that passion, to feel that joy. My days now would feel empty if I was prevented from tapping out my novels.
Just as learning to read and write turned on lights, so too did discovering the power of the author. As creator of our characters, we have the power to dump our negative emotions on their shoulders: ‘There you are! Get out of that one!’ We can allow them to sample pleasures we may never have time or opportunity to sample ourselves: ‘There you are. Is that not wonderful?’ And we can give them the comeback lines we wish we’d said.
Such power. Such pleasure. Such joy.
There are many things in my life that I juggle with, many things I love and want to do well, but I hope writing will always be one of the clubs twirling up there in the stratosphere of my imagination, falling neatly into my hand and onto the page.

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Searching for Summer is my latest novel, and the first in a new series about Mirabelle, a very reluctant detective.
It is set in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.

“Mirabelle loved living in Edinburgh: loved the atmosphere created by a city whose main shopping street looked across the road to a castle, Edinburgh Castle standing guard over Princes Street, its severe façade softened by the gardens skirting it, the gardens themselves cocooned from the bustle and noise, folded into their own tree-lined valley, with paths dipping into and out of its depths.
She knew the adage, Edinburgh was ‘all fur coat and nae knickers.’ She was well acquainted with its underbelly, its darker side, saw its dirty linen, but loved it anyway.”

And, as the blurb on the back of the book says:

“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.”

So Mirabelle leads us through the streets of Edinburgh, up hills and through wynds, into parks and garden, and hidden courtyards. We get to see Edinburgh and Mirabelle at their best and worst as Mirabelle searches for her daughter — and keeps finding other people.

Searching for Summer
Available to buy now
on Amazon
http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00TDYRLGK

FeadaRead.com
http://www.feedaread.com/books/Searching-for-Summer-9781785104879.aspx

or to order in bookstores
ISBN 9781785104879

 

Searching for Summer

Yes, I know! I’m a bit early. We’re still waiting for spring, here in Scotland.

That’s if I was searching for summer, all lower case. But I’m not.

I’m Searching for Summer, or, at least, the main character in my brand new novel is.

Searching for Summer

The first book in the The reluctant Detective Series.

Searching for Summer Final

And, before I tell you anything about the book itself, I have to tell you how delighted I am with the cover! The artwork is by Michelle Campbell, and I am delighted to have the original 27x36cm, signed, framed painting on my wall. It is beautiful.

There is more of Michelle’s paintings on her Instagram page, SHELLSBELLSART, and she can be contacted on fragglecamp (at) gmail (dot) com if you are interested in commissioning her for your book cover.

Tim Pow converted the painting into the book cover, another great job, and Tim can be contacted via his website http://www.timpowfilms.net

He made a fantastic job of the back cover too:

Back Cover with blurb. PNG

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 So what is Searching for Summer about?

The first novel in The Reluctant Detective Series.

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.

~~~

Set in Edinburgh, Searching for Summer could be called Kaleidoscope Fiction: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, a relationship novel with a hint of romance, a soupçon of crime, and more than a dollop of mystery.

If you don’t know Edinburgh, you will get to know it as Mirabelle wanders its streets and wynds.

Mirabelle loved living in Edinburgh: loved the atmosphere created by a city whose main shopping street looked across the road to a castle, Edinburgh Castle standing guard over Princes Street, its severe façade softened by the gardens skirting it, the gardens themselves cocooned from the bustle and noise, folded into their own tree-lined valley, with paths dipping into and out of its depths.

She knew the adage, Edinburgh was ‘all fur coat and nae knickers.’ She was well acquainted with its underbelly, its darker side, saw its dirty linen, but loved it anyway.

A novel to take you through a multitude of emotions as Mirabelle searches for Summer.

Trouble is, she keeps finding other people.

~~~

Searching for Summer

Available NOW

On Amazon

FeedaRead.com

or to order in bookstores

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What’s That Book About?

flying free cover 2290x1520mmAmazon Link: http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00HUHGQW2

Flying Free is my third novel.

The blurb on the back of the book reads:

When Tom asks Jayne to marry him, he unwittingly opens her personal Pandora’s Box, and now she can’t seem to close the lid on all that rushes out at her, whirling her into a cycle of self-sabotage.
Unable to commit to a relationship, she pushes Tom away…along with everything else that’s important in her life.
There are things she had chosen to forget. There are others she can’t remember even when she tries. What she does remember is fear.
Feeling emotionally trapped by her past, her biggest challenge is to break through its bars and fly free.
Then she finds someone to help her make sense of what’s happening, but, instead of slamming the lid shut on all that has been let loose, he helps her open it wider and makes her face her fears in order to overcome them.
Remembering the past helps her make sense of the present and allows her to begin the process of healing and she finds that, as in the fable, there is one last thing left in the Box. That thing is hope.
But, when she is ready to commit to a relationship, will Tom still be waiting?

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There is also the short video I made where I read the first chapter of Flying Free.

You’ll find that over there on the right, in the sidebar.

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But what is Flying Free about?

I’ve made you a short video by way of explanation.

Amazon Link: http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00HUHGQW2

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I’d love to get your thoughts on both the subject matter of Flying Free and on whether it is helpful to have the video.

Thank you.

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Tagged again!

Hello everyone! I was invited to participate in another tagging Blog Hop by Vashti Quiroz-Vega, a delightfully exotic name and a delightfully exotic lady. Vashti writes a blog which you can find at http://vashtiqvega.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/writing-process-blog-hop/

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Vashti has published a novel called The Basement, a tale of angst, teamwork and solutions, treasure hunts and adventure, and facing fears. It is a focus on the small world of one group of preteens and the very real and wondrous world they face. You can buy it on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/The-Basement-Vashti-Quiroz-Vega/dp/162510555X/ref=cm_rdp_product

There are a few simple rules to this blog tagging:

1/ I must answer the four questions below.

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

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

Questions:

1) What are you working on?

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

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

Her past feels like it belonged to someone else.

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

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

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

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

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

3) Why do you write what you write?

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

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

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

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

4) How does your writing process work?

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

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


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

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

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

Stuart Turnbull: http://diamondsanddross.blogspot.co.uk

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

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

Enjoy!

How To Be Happy

Are you a happy person? Can anyone actually be happy all the time?

I think of myself as a happy person, but I know sometimes I can be desperately unhappy too.

When I came across this on my Facebook page, I realised there is a difference between being a happy person and knowing how to be happy, and I reckon I know how to be happy. This list sums up my philosophy so there is clearly someone out there with whom I am in sync. Now there’s a thought.

Putting these twelve things into practice works.

If you are someone who makes New Year resolutions, you could do worse than making this your list.

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Express Gratitude

*When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.

Cultivate optimism

*People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times 

Avoid over-thinking and social comparison

*The only person you should compare to is yourself before now.

Practise acts of kindness

*Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside

Nurture social relationships

*The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. 

Develop strategies for coping.

Learn to forgive

*Harbouring feelings of hatred and bitterness is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Increase flow experiences

*Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.

*When you are so focused on what you’re doing that you have become one with the task.

Savour life’s joys

Commit to your goals 

Practice spirituality

*Recognise life is bigger than us. 

Take care of your body

Chapter One

 

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

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

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

Book Cover cropped

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

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Chapter One

Tom,

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

Sarah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But he never said. I had no idea.”

“Well, he wouldn’t say, would he?”

“Why not?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know, Mum. I know.”

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

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

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

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

“You weren’t much tidier!”

“True.”

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

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

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

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

“I don’t know if I was right.”

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

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

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

“So d’you think David saw your Dad?”

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

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

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

“If he was.”

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

“Certainly didn’t announce it!”

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

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

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

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

“The coroner said…”

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

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

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

“I’m fairly sure.”

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

“Under the heading: ‘Dad’s address’!”

“So? David may not have…”

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

“But are you sure?”

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

“Mike?”

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

“But how did he…?”

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

“Not because I want to.”

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

“He didn’t.” Sarah muttered.

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

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

***

And now, if you’d like to read on, dear friend, here are the Amazon links where you can buy Family Matters as a paperback: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Family-Matters-Christine-Campbell/dp/1849231184/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_1

Or download it for your Kindle or other reading device: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Family-Matters-ebook/dp/B00BR9JUV8/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

***

 

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