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!

Music in My Fiction

Music in Fiction

Last year, I wrote a series of guest blogposts about Music in Fiction, in which we discussed books that featured or mentioned music as part of the story.

There are many devices writers can use to help bring our writing to life. In that short series of articles, published on Chris The Story Reading Ape’s blog, I took a fairly light-hearted look at just one of them.

Music.

Music plays a large part in Gold Plated, my latest release – in particular, the music of the sixties, and I’ve included a playlist at the end of the novel, with links to YouTube videos of the original versions of some of the songs I’ve referenced.

The story begins with Rosanna and her daughter, Heather, meeting up to continue planning Rosanna’s Golden Wedding Anniversary party. As she wanders through the garden centre on her way to meet Heather, her own version of a popular song from her youth runs through Rosanna’s head:

~~~

When a third stranger smiles at me, the realisation dawns not only am I humming an adapted version of Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit, It’s My Party, as I meander among the flower beds, but also, I sport a silly grin – and the blush of embarrassment that follows the realisation. But I can’t help myself.

There’s a party in the offing and, for a change, the butterflies fluttering about in my chest have gossamer wings rather than tackety boots. I’m not often a party-person, being more comfortable as a wallflower than a poppy, but …

“It’s Paul’s party and I’ll smile if I want to, smile if I want to, smile if I want to. You would smile too, if it happened to you.”

~~~

It’s My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To – Lesley Gore – 1963

Gold Plated is now available on Amazon Kindle – paperback will follow shortly.

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Click to buy Gold Plated

If you’d like to read the series I wrote about Music in Fiction, click here.

Enjoy!

 

She Was a Red-headed Woman

Do you enjoy writing prompts? When we meet together in our writing group, we enjoy doing short, timed prompts. Sometimes five minutes, sometimes ten, or even fifteen if the subject seems to merit it.

A few weeks ago, we had one that we all enjoyed and had a bit of fun with. Perhaps you’d enjoy it too. Why not tell a story in just ten minutes, using the prompt:

She Was a Red-headed Woman

I’d love to read what you come up with, and invite you to post in the comments.

One of our members wrote this one that I find quite good fun. I feel there is a story under the story, that the word ‘today’ invites the readers imagination to fill in the blanks.

She Was a Red-haired Woman

By Sharon Scordecchia

She walked into the restaurant and sat at her usual table. Hans, the waiter, approached her, an apologetic twist on his face. He sighed, bowing his head towards her.
“I’m very sorry Madam, this table is reserved.”
She put down the menu and looked up at him, her head tilted to the side. Slowly she lowered her sunglasses with both hands till they perched on the end of her nose. She paused. “It’s me, Hans,” she said.
Hans stared at her. “I’m sorry madam, I don’t believe I am acquainted with you. And this table is reserved for one of our regular customers.”
“Oh, for goodness sake, Hans,” she said, taking her glasses off completely and slapping them on the table.
Oh, Madam! I didn’t recognise you.” He stopped, his mouth open, aghast. Today she was a red-headed woman.

~~~

Why not visit me in my new FaceBook group for readers – though I know there are a fair few writers among the members too.

You’ll find us here Lifting The Lid Off Christine’s Kist Of Stories

A Date in Drumnadrochit

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Meet me in Drumnadrochit.

I’ll be there. Will you?

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of visiting Drumnadrochit, it’s a delightful village by the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland, about 30 minutes west from Inverness.

“Situated at the head of Urquhart Bay on the northern shore of Loch Ness. If anywhere could be classed as the home of the Loch Ness Monster mystery, this would arguably be the spot. Drumnadrochit is the home to the Loch Ness Centre whose five star exhibition is endorsed by Scottish Natural Heritage as a ‘portal to the unique phenomenon that is Loch Ness’. Here, the real inner secrets of Britain’s greatest lake are revealed, shedding some very unexpected light upon the mystery for which it is so widely known. And if you’re really keen, you can even go for a monster-spotting cruise on the Loch with one of the excellent cruise companies sailing each day. Just down the road you find Nessieland with its informative and entertaining Loch Ness presentation, a great day out for all the family!” – quoted from Visit Loch Ness 

You may not have the opportunity to meet Nessie, but on Wednesday, 21st March, at 7pm, you have the opportunity to meet and greet me,  Christine Campbell, Author – in Drumnadrochit. I won’t be talking about the monster, but about my books and writing process, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and have a book signed in the delightful Cafe Eighty2.

Cafe Eighty2, sits just off the A82 as you drive through the village, and among its many charms are a terrific selection of homebaked cakes and speciality teas.

So if you are anywhere in the vicinity, why not come join us in Drumnadrochit.

If that’s a bit of a stretch, another option would be to meet us in Lifting The Lid Off Christine’s Kist of Stories – a new group on FaceBook. A great opportunity to talk to the author about a book you’re reading, taking the ‘Author Meet and Greet’ to a whole new level.

Just click on the link and ask to join the fun.

 

Christine’s Kist of Stories

Are you familiar with the word ‘kist’?

It’s origin is from the Old Norse kista, meaning chest.
The word appears in several countries and, in the Scots language, it’s the name for a large chest or coffer often used for storing linen, such as a new bride’s trousseau.
Also used for storing treasure. And it’s in that context I’d like to introduce my kist to you.

My hubby wrote me a beautiful song for our 50th wedding anniversary – about my ‘Kist of Stories’, describing my stories as treasure. How cool is that? Well, I felt so honoured by this I want to honour him in return by using the song as my ‘brand.’

So I have started a Book Group on FaceBook, called Lifting The Lid Off Christine’s Kist Of Stories. The aim of the group is to allow readers to interact with me about my books. So, if you’re interested in learning the stories behind the stories, you’re welcome to join. The group is designed to take the ‘Author Meet and Greet’ to a whole new level.

My daughter has recorded the song and I’d like to share it with you here. To help you understand it, since it’s written in the style of an old Scots song, here are the words written out. I’d be happy to explain any that are unfamiliar to you. Just let me know in the comments which words puzzle you.

Christine’s Kist O’ Stories

Sparkling there, tae love and share,
Gleam tales o’ pains and glories
Of lovers kissed, and children missed
In Christine’s kist o’ Stories

Folks that’s real, that breathe and feel,
Wi’ lives o’ less, or more ease
Come tumblin’ out, tae sigh, tae shout
Frae Christine’s kist o’ Stories

Frae Reekie’s chills tae Cuillin hills,
They tak’ delightfu’ sorties
That turn and twist thru lambent mist
Tae Christine’s kist o’ Stories

~~~

The video ‘Christine’s Kist of Stories’ comes to you from team Pow.
Filmed and produced by Tim Pow
Words and music by Gus Campbell
Sung by Aimee Pow
Original painting by Michelle Campbell
Scenery by Scotland

Enjoy!

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.

Music and Drama in Writing

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Yep! That’s what’s happening right now in my WIP. And I can’t get the song out of my head! It’s an old one, from the sixties when part of the book is set, and though there have been more recent covers of it, I’ve been using the original – You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore – since that’s what my character would have listened to at the time.

The novel I’m working on is called Gold Plated and the main character, Rosanna, is remembering being eighteen in the late sixties and being let down in love. She goes home to her mother to be looked after while she gets over the break up.

‘My mother knows straight away that something is wrong when I arrive home late that evening, but I tell her I don’t want to talk about it. Wise woman that she is, she leaves me in peace that night and for the first few days I’m home. Days when I hardly leave my room. Days when I don’t get out of bed, or don’t dress if I do. I leave my room only to go to the bathroom or to return the tray Mum so kindly brings up at regular intervals with some tasty treat or other on it along with a warm drink and a loving smile.
I dig out my records and play a series of heartbreak songs, followed by a series of angry songs, ending up with playing Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me over and over again, convincing myself it was I who set myself free from the hold of his caresses and whispered endearments. He had my heart in his hands and he couldn’t let me go, so I had struggled free.
Most of the words don’t fit my situation, but there is something in the tone of the song, something in its power that resonates with me.
It is an unusual choice to become my anthem in that I am not often roused to great passion. I am not someone given to temper tantrums or dramatic outbursts, nor do I let anger simmer dangerously inside me. My default position is to accept the inevitable, in whatever form it takes, and get on with things.’

So I’ve been playing this track over and over while I’ve been writing and it’s time to move on to another scene, but the song lingers in my head as I write, keeping the mood, holding on to the anger, the hurt, the angst.

Do you remember the original Lesley Gore version? Or Dusty Springfield’s from a few years later? Among other versions, there is a recent one by a singer called Grace. Perhaps you’ve heard that one.

As a reader, do you find it helpful to listen to music that’s mentioned in a book? As a writer, do you like to use music in your writing? For me, the answer is a resounding, ‘Yes!’ on both counts.

#sixtiespopmusic #novel #amwriting #amediting #contemporarywomensfiction

Hope you enjoy the track and do share your thoughts. I’d love to read them.

~~~

If you are interested to read any of my novels, here is the link to my Amazon Author page, where you will find details of the seven novels already published both as paperback books and on Amazon Kindle. They are all Contemporary Women’s Fiction and are clean reads, as in no swearing, sex or violence. #CleanIndieReads #CR4U

~~~

 

The Thief of Time

Time.

Such a precious commodity. We all have exactly the same amount of it in a day.

Twenty-four hours. No more, no less.

So how can it be stolen? And who steals it?

Does someone break into the house, gather it up in his fists or stuff it in a rucksack and make off with it?

How come I keep hearing folks say time’s run out? How can it run out? Where does it run to?

The short answer is that time doesn’t run out. Of course it doesn’t run out. It’s fixed. Twenty-four hours every day. Sixty minutes every hour.

So, where does it go?

Something happens to it, that’s for sure, because I never have enough of it in any one day. It doesn’t seem to matter when I get up or when I go to bed, there are things I just didn’t get time to do. Know the feeling? I decided to play detective and follow the clues left lying around the house. You know the ones: the half done Sudoku, the iPad on charge …

And right there is the main culprit. The iPad. I love my iPad. I know a lot of folks have moved on to doing everything on their phone, but I find my phone screen is just not big enough to enjoy a good game of Spider Solitaire – oops! – think I’ve found another clue as to where my time’s going.

Right! That’s Spider Solitaire removed from my iPad – again! I keep taking it off and it keeps reappearing. Well, it doesn’t really just appear – I keep putting it back on. It gets me every time. I fancy a couple of games of Spider Solitaire, tell myself it honestly, honestly will only be a couple of games – or three. Three’s a nice number. But I’m an addict. I can’t have just one game, or even three. Hours can pass unnoticed while I’m moving four onto five, three onto four … you know the game. Hours that I wanted to use for something else. Like writing a proper blogpost.

The other clue I found was the number of retweets I had on Twitter. There can only be retweets if there’s been tweets. How long had I been tweeting? Too long. But there’s purpose to tweeting, isn’t there? Don’t I keep reading that an author needs an online presence? Well, yeah! But how many hours would I need to be chirping away, tweeting on Twitter, to build up any sort of meaningful presence? I don’t know the statistics, but there must be more tweets per second than there are milliseconds. Twitter is a monster of a moving machine. Try it! Write a tweet and watch it disappear under the avalanche of new tweets before your very eyes. It’s scary! Fortunately I’ve never become addicted to Twitter, so I can minimise time spent there quite easily with no loss of pleasure. Done!

FaceBook, Instagram, emails, WhatsApps and texts – well, I’m just gonna have to learn to control them, because they do serve a useful purpose. They keep me in touch with friends and family, especially those in far-flung corners of the globe …

Now there’s another thing! How can a globe have corners? Hmmm! Think I’ll Google who thought up that saying …

~~~

If you’ve got the time, why not check out my novels on Amazon.

Reading a good book is always a good use of time.

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

 

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!

~~~

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.

~~~

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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