Kindle Countdown Continues

20 Jul

Just a reminder that the Kindle Countdown on All the Places I’ve Ever Been continues for the next couple of days.

Kindle Countdown Deal

All the Places I’ve Ever Been is a coming-of-age novel set in the late 1980s. It follows teenager Meg Burns on a round the world journey as she flees from a violent attack in Glasgow to travel with Australian rock band MindSet. Streetwise but emotionally immature, each new city brings opportunities and challenges. The band gives Meg the security she has never had, but when support turns to control and secrets re-emerge, she needs to decide who she can really trust.

Kindle Countdown Week

15 Jul

After teasing you for a couple of days with my photos of some of the places I have been, you can now take advantage of the Kindle Countdown Deal I have set up for All the Places I’ve Ever Been – Kindle Edition is now only 99p, going up to £1.99 in a couple of days, before it goes back to its usual price – still a bargain at £2.99.

If you prefer a paperback, you can get one here.

As ever, please leave a review if you can. Thanks

Travelling without Travel

14 Jul

I recently finished reading a book about Truman Capote (Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott). At the end of his life, Capote who was very firmly one of the jet-set, had to travel the world from the comfort of his room. He did this by choosing a country, then eating food from there, listening to its music and looking at art. I am disinclined to travel, for the first time in my life, and while I normally watch travel shows with at least a fantasy of one day being able to go to the places. At the moment, its Bettany Hughes’ Greek Odyssey, Cardinal’s Canada and Little Fire’s Everywhere’s Ohio.

I have got lots of memories in the bank of travels around Europe and North America which I had hoped to expand on, but not this year – damn you Covid-19. Many memories of specific places came out in my novel – All the Places I’ve Ever Been – although the story is fiction, but more of that tomorrow.

One place I loved was San Francisco, where my heroine, Meg, spends quite a bit of time. When I was there in the 1980s, my sister and I met a very famous travel journalist (Judith Chalmers) on the ferry to Alcatraz. She was filming her TV show – Wish You Were Here – and when we described our trip as ‘once in a lifetime’, she assured us, we would be back. My sister did make it back and my son visited a couple of years ago, but I haven’t made it yet (although I did get to Mexico). One day, North America … one day.

Strange Summer

13 Jul

So Facebook have started to fill my memories with places I’ve holidayed over the past few years and I am trying not to be down. This year’s planned trip to New York has been cancelled and we will just have to make do with a week at our wee island getaway (which we have never been so grateful for, but have to spread the joy among the co-owners/siblings).

Today’s memory was of a rather lovely terrace at an apartment in Catalonia. The family folklore is that that was the holiday when we nearly died. We didn’t really, but we were all rather nervous as we were told to follow a car that would take us to our holiday home (with a private pool for the first time ever). We had arrived in the resort early, so had already seen the house, so we were surprised when the agent drove passed the road and on up a hill and then onto a dirt track. She stopped her car and we stopped right next to a broken down building covered in graffiti.

We all looked at the building, my husband and I picturing a Spaghetti Western type ambush, while the kids anticipated video game villains to start shooting. We took a deep breath as the agent approached our car. ‘Ah, I did not say,’ she said.

Oh here it comes, we’ve been scammed.

‘There is a slight problem.’

Slight!

‘The house you wanted has been double booked, but this one is better.’

It didn’t look better … it didn’t even have a roof.

‘The gate there, will take you by foot to your apartment and is the best way to get down to the beach. But I will drive you round to the car entrance.’

So we followed again, not exactly happy about what was happening, but certainly relieved not to have been held at gunpoint and robbed. The apartment she showed us was absolutely gorgeous and while the pool wasn’t private, there was never more than a couple of other families with tiny tots in it, so we had the deep end all to ourselves.

Beautiful apartment plus indulging my passion for Gaudi and Dali

We never did work out what had actually happened with the booking and whether or not the owner of the apartment we stayed in ever knew of our existence. We enjoyed the luxury, although it was a steep walk back from the beach (whereas the original booking had a shorter and flatter walk). We often used the gate the agent had shown us and never failed to look a little furtively at the abandoned shack.

I did also manage to do a quick photo shoot for All the Places I’ve Ever Been

Keep on keeping on

28 May

Today is the last day of Scotland’s total lockdown (at least we think it is), so from tomorrow we will be able to visit family and sit in their garden or have a walk in the park with them. Very exciting. No longer will I need to feel guilty when I spend 10 minutes with my mum and sister after I have left their milk and bread in the shade for them to collect later. No longer will I fear driving with passengers. But yes, longer, will I live in fear that Covid-19 isn’t finished with us yet.

I am not alone in realising that things I thought were important, weren’t; and that things I took for granted were worth more than precious jewels. I don’t know when I’ll be able to meet up with my groups of friends for a real-life chat or be able to cough without planning my funeral. I don’t know when we’ll be able to get back to having family birthday parties (Zoom for me next week!)

What I do know, is that I have been very fortunate not to have lost anyone close to me. And that I have my little chicks at home with me, eating all the food, chatting until all hours and giving me fashion and IT advice. NB. I love ‘Snip’, why did no one tell me about it before?

I’ve been busy working too, with lots of essays for overseas students now Anglesised so that their tutors can mark the subject matter. Yesterday, I took my work into the garden and ended up with a burnt shoulder for my troubles.

I am also pleased to announce that my first edited book has now been published – the account of a local teacher’s round-the-world trip. Fantastic cover by the Scottish Cartoon Art Studio. If you want to find out more about my editing services, go to Beech Editorial Services.

I Do Love a New Word

6 May

Do I have the ideal job? I would say so. I spend all day reading and writing and some days I am even rewarded by finding a word that I have never come across before. Today, I thought I had been rewarded with two, but one turned out to be just a badly spelt one. So my new word is Albedo. No reaching for the dictionary until you have given an answer

Now, if you want to make me really happy, use it in a sentence. No, that wasn’t what I was going to say. What I was going to say, was thank you so much everyone who downloaded my books when they were free a couple of weeks ago. A total of 71 downloads were made, and if you are feeling guilty that you got the books for free, don’t, and here’s why: every time you turn the page of a Kindle book, a tiny payment flows from Mr. Bezos to your friendly author. What’s more, every time you read a page, my wee heart gets a thrill. So, go on, there’s a long weekend coming, open those books and start reading.

 

Free Books

22 Apr

For one day only – to celebrate my Silver Wedding – I have made all my Kindle titles free.

Click away, and if you like them, please leave a review on Amazon.

 

No matter how far she runs, Meg can never escape the past.

Short Stories and Flash Fiction by Colette Coen

Write Away by Colette Coen

Write Away by Colette Coen

Twenty-Five Years Ago

21 Apr

Do you remember what you were doing twenty-five years ago today?

I do, I was driving back and forth between my mum’s house and my fiance’s flat with all my worldly possessions. When the job was done, my fiance and I lingered on his doorstep. I held onto him, worried that I might never see him again.

But, the next day, reader, I married him.

So, tomorrow, we will be celebrating our Silver Wedding, in the weirdest possible circumstances. (My sister and brother-in-law had their Pearl Anniversary a couple of weeks ago). Thankfully, the sun is shining and we plan to have a picnic in the garden with the kids and then get a meal delivered from our local restaurant. It’s also mighty windy though, as it was twenty-five years ago. My veil was flying everywhere, and my dress had to be weighed down with my bridesmaid’s bouquets on my train for the photos.

When you reach a milestone, there is the inevitable looking back – I did this recently in a short story where I envisaged a middle-age couple viewing the flat where they spent the first few years of their married life. I suppose the abiding theme is that you never know what the future will bring. I was a bit of a bridezilla (though thankfully, I don’t think the term had been coined then) all my careful planning went out the window as one minor hiccup after another happened (from the first hymn being missed out, to the emcee pulling my veil off when I stood up to make my speech).

Married life has continued with careful planning being torn asunder by illness, horrible bosses and now, Covid-19. We spent ages trying to decide if we were going to have an anniversary party (we decided ‘no’), so are making do with Zoom pre-dinner drinks for the family. We also took quite a while planning a trip to New York for the autumn (fingers still crossed on that one, though I’m not sure if I am hoping to go or not – scary times). But hey, we’ve made it this far, and with three great kids to pour the fizz. Happy days.

Anyway, you’ve read this far – now time for a photo, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Colette and Gerry

Positive Thoughts – Part 2

31 Mar

Less than a week into the lockdown and patience is beginning to wear thin. Zoom, Skype, Messenger, WhatsApp, House Party – all great ways to keep in touch but all groaning a bit under the weight of use. WordPress is also being a bit of a pain – I have been trying to load this post for the last two days.

I tried to Skype my family yesterday (Skype has subtitles, so it meant my mum could take part), but I couldn’t get my sound to work. ‘It was working earlier,’ I said, as three members of the crew here started clicking on my screen, pulling out cables, and telling me that I should try all things I had already tried.

Later, when it was working (I had switched it off and back on again, which solved the problem), one of my sisters couldn’t get online. By the time we had all sorted out the IT problems and discussed what had gone wrong, we were all too fed up to have much of a chat.

None of that is very positive, is it? But, we were able to see each other, wave, have a chat, catch up with how everyone is coping (my siblings all work in the public sector, so no one has been furlough yet, but some of their kids haven’t been as fortunate). As I work freelance and remotely, I’m still not sure how I will be affected, but my husband and daughter are still in work (fingers crossed).

Spring honeysuckle

Hope springs eternal

Hope springs eternal

It’s been dry since the lockdown started too, which is a big bonus when you live in Scotland, so we’ve been able to walk, have lunch outside and enjoy the first days of spring.

Another big plus point here, is that we have the space not to be tripping over each other, and three of us are working from home without having to restrict Netflix watching for the two that have had their formal education paused. Although, the garden does need a bit of attention, so Netflix might have to wait.

But, no matter how much space we have, we all need to take the occasional deep breath. And then tell them to stop foottering with my computer, thank you VERY MUCH.

I have been moving my office/desk almost every week – with my son coming back from uni, and then having two Australians to stay. I am now in my new semi-permanent position in the dining room, which has the bonus of a door out to the back garden. I had set things up in one corner last month, but that wasn’t working, so have moved things again. One of today’s jobs is to set up properly here and take the opportunity to sort through my muddle and complete a few tasks. Happy days.

 

To Journal or not to Journal?

23 Mar

Now that we’ve got all this time on our hands (although I’m not sure I’ve quite reached that stage) there is a temptation to pick up that notebook which has been languishing in the bottom of your cupboard, and begin a journal.

I woke up at 4 am the other morning (very unlike me), and wondered if I should be documenting all my thoughts and feelings about Covid-19 and the Social Isolating/Distancing/Lockdown.

While I found writing a journal really useful, (in fact it was how I morphed into being a writer of fiction), I have decided against it. I’ll tell you why.

I have suffered from depression in the past and know that I can easily spiral into negative thoughts. Writing down your thoughts can be a useful way to get them out of your head (you might even want to write down all your negativity, then scrunch it into a ball and chuck it away). But it can also get you into a rut or feed paranoia. ‘Day 5 of the the Lockdown and my family members are ganging up on me…’

I do, however, find taking myself off into a wee world where I can control what is happening, to be supremely therapeutic and fun.

So think carefully about what you want to get out of writing a journal and be conscious that it might not be the type of writing that is best for you at this time.

That said, you can’t flush notebooks, so you might as well give writing of some kind a go. I am going to try to post more flash fiction here, but also some writing tips and inspirations.

Take care, be kind and if you’ve been told not to go out: don’t go out.

Write Away by Colette Coen
Write Away by Colette Coen