Monthly Archives: April 2015

Rock Chicks Night Out ..In Theory

After the safe arrival of Book Baby and of surviving the first few surreal days of Book Baby motherhood, it was time for some normality – I use the term loosely- to be restored to my world.

It was time for a post-Book Baby night out!

No, Rock Mum was not out to play. ALL children were left at home. Rock Friend was out though!

In chilly, but glorious, sunshine I headed off mid-afternoon for Rock Chicks Night Out.

Breaking with my usual pre-gig routine, I had arranged to meet up with my fellow Rock Chick writer friend, Karen Soutar,  for an early dinner then we were heading off to see Theory of a Deadman at my favourite venue. Yes, you’ve guessed it – the O2 ABC. Well, I’ve not been there since mid- February! Withdrawal symptoms were setting in!

I had just settled into my seat on the train when my phone buzzed. Voicemail! It was a panicky message from the restaurant to say their gas was off and they could only offer a restricted menu, did I still want the table at 4.30? Before the train plunged into the lengthy tunnel that runs under Greenock (it used to be Europe’s longest at one point in time) I called them back. Yes, pizza was still available. Whew! Panic over.

It was only a short walk from the station to the restaurant and I’d  just taken my seat (too cold to wait outside!) when Karen arrived, equally frozen.

Cue two hours of girlie chat as we caught up on several month worth of news and gossip all washed down with pizza and beer!

Having paid the bill, we meandered our way up to the venue debating whether or not we had time for coffee or not. (Really RnFnR I know but I had to be safe to drive home from the station so no more beer allowed.)

As we approached the O2 ABC, the caffeine fix got cancelled. A lengthy queue was already snaking up the hill beside the venue. We hiked up the vertical slope to join the end of it- oxygen required!

I’d seen Theory of a Deadman last October when they were the first support act for Black Stone Cherry. I think it’s fair to say that wasn’t their best night on stage. The half hour slot felt too short for them and they were plagued with sound issues. Karen had them before too, a few years back,  as a support act so we were both curious to experience their full set.

After the obligatory trip to the merchandise stall for another black t-shirt ( a girl can never have too many), we took up our positions for the evening near the front, about 5 or 6 rows off the barrier.

There was only one support act for the evening- Beasts. They were a three piece band and were OK. Good, entertaining but not brilliant. There is definite potential there. After their short half hour set , we both agreed that their energetic bass player needed to bulk up on the muscle front a bit, lose the scoop neck t-shirt from under the leather biker jacket and ultimately go for a more “stripped back” look!

Now, I have an uncanny knack at gig for ending up behind the tallest and usually widest person in the room. This was no exception, except on the width front! I ended up behind two students who could have passed for Ents! They towered over little 5’ 3” me. C’est la vie.

I find Theory of a Deadman a hard band to categorise- a bit of rock, a bit of grunge, a bit tongue in cheek, a bit of country and a lot of “break up” songs. How about some “make up” songs, guys?

Loved their ninety minute set. They played most of my favourites –Lowlife, Panic Room, The Bitch Came Back, Santa Monica and I Hate My Life. I’d have liked to have seen World War Me on the set list but, hey ho, you can’t have them all. The crowd lapped it up, And, I even managed to get a few photos in between the branches- sorry, arms- of the Ents. Happy days!

All too soon it was over, ending with Bad Bad Girlfriend. Ending on a high.

Karen and I made our weary way back down Sauchiehall St then said our farewells as we headed home from different stations.

A great Rock Chick night out. Need to do it again soon – but can we make it a warmer night! Nearly froze my ass off waiting for the train!

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The First Few Days of Book Baby Motherhood

Book Baby Blog collage

It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting in the sun with a coffee and some hot buttered cinnamon raisin toast, trying to get my head around the last few days.

What can I say about last week? Where to start!

When I uploaded my last blog post and launched Book Baby on the world I was physically trembling with nerves – scared nerves and excited nerves.

Walking into the salt mine as usual an hour or so later felt weird. I guess by then my own paranoia was beginning to creep in and I felt as though everyone was staring at me. The rational voice in my head told me not to be so stupid, to go and get a coffee and get on with some work – I did.

Throughout the day my phone, email and FB pages were lit up like Christmas trees as I was smothered in congratulatory wishes. Thank you!

The majority of the day was spent with a warm feeling of pride burning deep inside me – possibly fuelled by the 50 Shades of Red I turned every time anyone spoke to me about Book Baby!

I had bought a tiny bottle of bubbly on my way home the night before. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure how to celebrate this momentous event. I’d gone through many ideas in my head but wasn’t confident that anyone else would be the least bit interested in celebrating with me on a Wednesday night or any other night for that matter. (I’m not a party person)

The Big Green Gummi Bear usually heads to the gym after work so I didn’t expect him home until late – hence the choice of a little bottle of bubbles. Enough for one small glass each. One wee toast.

He surprised me by coming home early, skipping the gym. He said he felt as though it was wrong to go to the gym and that he should come home and celebrate with me. That meant SO much to me!

We toasted the birth of Stronger Within together – should’ve bought a bigger bottle after all!

Then we were both looking at each other with a “Now what?” question hanging in the air.

Emotionally it all felt very surreal and, to be honest, it still does.

Even now, I’m still blushing bright red any time anyone speaks to me about the book. That little nagging voice of “Paranoia” has been whispering in my ear all week as I hear of more and more friends and family (including parents!) and friends of my parents (eek!) who are reading or planning to start reading my Book Baby- what if they hate it? What if they think its rubbish? What if they are laughing at me behind my back?

What can I say? That’s me through and through about most things in life! Still psychologically scarred from the dim and distant past.

So “Now what”?  The question is still hanging there waiting to be answered.

I’ve drawn up a short list –

  • Stop feeling so self-conscious and allow myself to feel proud of my achievement
  • Relax and let things take their course with Stronger Within
  • Re-connect with my characters and story lines. The rest of the tale isn’t going to write itself!
  • Learn how to stop blushing!

I’ve a feeling that the last one may prove to be impossible!

Stronger Within —-the dream’s come true!

Well, the day is finally here! The wait is over!

(My hands are trembling a little with nervous excitement as I write this.)

Book Baby has been born!


Stronger Within, my debut novel (eek!) is live in the Kindle Store on Amazon for the all the world to see. (Takes deep breath…..)

Actually seeing it on there, with my name and a price tag beside it, has stirred a plethora of emotions within me – a bit like childbirth does, to continue with that analogy.

The last few days have been an emotional rollercoaster. Despite my best laid plans – I had the whole week off work to complete the final edit and preparations – Mother Nature threw a spanner in the works. For the first time in almost twenty years, I was ill and spent two days in bed and another under a blanket on the couch – flu! It cost me three precious days of calm, organised preparation time. Easter Monday was a write off too as I spent most of it in floods of tears, mourning the loss of my beloved white cat, Gandalf. One of the toughest days of my life but at least he’s not suffering anymore.

By Tuesday I felt semi-human again and, four days later than planned, the final edit began.

This final spelling, grammar and punctuation check truly was a long, laborious process (yes- pain relief and Lemsips were required – no natural birth for Book Baby I’m afraid!) Finally with one almighty push, I had my completed word document.

It was stark naked but Stronger Within was ready to be uploaded onto my Kindle Direct Publishing account.

This proved a little tricky and fiddly. It was a bit like trying to wrestle a baby into an all-in-one sleep suit. Bits kept wriggling free! Some of the legal disclaimer page didn’t sit quite right. Some of the title fonts were too big. My author’s note and biography pages (the two hardest bits to write, by the way) also tried to escape. However, like all new mothers, I persevered and soon had it all snuggly dressed.

I sat in the kitchen, on my own, music blaring as usual, staring at the screen before reaching out to hit submit.

There were no fanfares. No fireworks. No party streamers. No champagne corks flying.

Just me, a half-drunk glass of Lucozade and Myles Kennedy singing in the background.

I’d done it! I’d really done it!

Book Baby had become Stronger Within.

The four handwritten A4 notebooks had been transformed into a Kindle e-book.

Even now, several days later, it’s still not quite sunk in.

As a child, I was always scribbling stories in notebooks, seldom finishing any of them.

As a teenager, writing was my escape from the bullying I was subjected to in school. Most lunch hours were spent huddled in a quiet corner, safely lost in my own creative bubble.

Marriage and children came along and for years I never wrote at all. I still kept my diary but that was about it until five or six years ago. I found myself with an hour and a half to myself once a week while Girl Child was at dance class. While she pirouetted and tapped upstairs, I sat in the local theatre’s café writing poetry. It was a start.

Almost two years ago I couldn’t keep the characters in my imagination quiet any longer and, in true Coral fashion, bought a new A4 notebook and a new pen and began to write. The end result is Stronger Within.

Some of you are possibly wondering – “Why launch a book on a Wednesday?”

The 15th April was chosen as Book Baby’s birthday a few months ago. It’s a date that means a lot to me personally. It was my Wee Gran’s birthday (she would have been 113 today if she was still with us). She discovered the joy of reading late in life. Like most of us, she began with Enid Blyton. The only difference was that she was in her late seventies at the time! My mum suggested that she join the local library and my Wee Gran soon developed a love of a good doctor/nurse romance. I wonder what she would have made of Stronger Within?

There’s a second reason for choosing the 15th April. Twenty one years ago today the Big Green Gummi Bear asked me to marry him. Yes, I’m a romantic fool at heart!

So what’s next?

Well, there’s no rest for the wicked! I’m planning to spend the next few weeks writing, promoting Stronger Within and trying to re-charge my batteries then I’ll start typing up Book Baby 2. It’s already written (well the first draft is) and fills another four A4 notebooks.

None of this would have been possible without the support and encouragement of my “infamous five” alpha readers. (Have you each worked out who the other four are yet?) Without their love and friendship, Stronger Within would still just be a story in four notebooks in a box under my kitchen table. Thank you just doesn’t seem enough here.

A huge thank you to my beta readers who arrived like the cavalry a few weeks ago to read over the final drafts.

To my artist friend who gifted me the Celtic dragon design – thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s perfect.

And a final thank you to my “writing fairy godmother” for waving her Photoshop magic wand for me!

So all that’s left to say is make yourself a coffee or pour a glass of wine, sit back, relax and enjoy Stronger Within.

Love and hugs to you all

A Little Sneak Peak ……

Time to bite the bullet and share a little something with you.  Instead of my usual weekly ramblings I’ve decided to let you have a little  sneak peak inside Book Baby.


Stronger Within- excerpt

With a long sigh of complete contentment, she felt the tension melt from her shoulders. Her first tentative steps onto the beach since last summer. It felt good to be home. It was late afternoon and she could feel the last of the spring sun’s warmth on her skin. She was also acutely aware of Mary’s eyes on her, as she watched from the sun deck. No going back now. After all, she had made it this far and it felt good to be outdoors. She adjusted the grip on her crutches, making sure the broad base plates didn’t sink into the soft sand and slowly headed across the beach towards the ocean. Once on the hard packed surface she felt more stable and her confidence began to grow. The waves rolled in gently beside her, but she was careful to stay beyond their reach. Tasting the salt on her lips, she smiled and headed along the shoreline towards the boardwalk.

The beach was quiet, with only a few families packing up after an afternoon at the shore. It had been unseasonably warm all week and everyone was making the most of the bonus sunshine. Small seabirds were playing in the shallows, rushing backwards and forwards twittering merrily. After about a hundred yards, she stopped to watch the waves, listening to their rhythmic flow. Hopefully by summer, when the water would be warmer, she would be able to enjoy swimming in the ocean again. Hopefully…

Oh it was good to be home; good to be back by the ocean.

Step by carefully placed step, she kept wandering along the sand towards town. She drank in all of her surroundings, the birds, the shells, and an occasional abandoned sandcastle. Lost in her own thoughts, she immersed herself in her private beach world.

It was the throbbing pain from her leg that brought her back to the real world. She had been stupid. She had walked too far. With panic and fear rising in her chest, she headed up the beach towards the boardwalk that ran parallel to the shore. If she could get onto firm ground and rest for a while, maybe she could recover enough strength to get back to the house. Mary had warned her to be careful, had warned her not to try to go too far on her first day out. The boardwalk seemed to be a mile away, even though it was, in reality, only a few short yards away. As the sand got softer her crutches dug further in, despite their broad base plates. The left one sank into a particularly soft patch. Suddenly her leg gave way and she crashed onto the beach.

For a few moments she lay there, tears welling up in her eyes, terrified that she was hurt. Gingerly, she manoeuvred herself into a sitting position.

“Shit!” she yelled out to the world. “Shit!”

Her crutches lay just within arm’s reach and she dragged them over towards her. Getting back to her feet was going to be a challenge. One that looked impossible in the current situation. There was no one in sight and Lori felt a sharp stab of fear in her chest. As she sat figuring out how she was going to get up without falling again, she was unaware that she was being watched from the shadows of boardwalk.

Jake watched her from the distant vantage point of the boardwalk. He had headed for the beach after the end of his shift at the pizza parlour. It had been a rough day and he had decided to walk off his black mood before heading to meet the guys. The last thing they needed was him turning up in a foul mood, stinking of tomato sauce and cheese. He had walked to the south end of the promenade and had just turned back when he saw the girl walking down on the sand. It was the sun catching the golden highlights in her hair that had attracted his attention. He never noticed her crutches at first. Watching from a distance, he had kept pace with her, then stopped to watch as she turned towards the boardwalk. When he saw her stumble he regretted not following his instincts and going down to walk on the sand with her.

“Shit,” he muttered. “Shit.”

There were no breaks in the fence nearby, so he jumped over the wooden palings into the dune grass and ran towards her, sand immediately filling his shoes. By the time he was close enough to call out to her, she was sitting up and looked to be unhurt. He almost turned away but decided against it and continued to walk down the beach.

“Hi,” he called out. “Are you ok?”

She was sitting rubbing her thigh and there were tears on her cheeks. Her pale complexion suggested she hadn’t been out doors much recently.

“Hi,” she replied with a weak smile. “I could do with some help.”

“Figured,” he said sitting down on the sand beside her. “Are you hurt?”

“No, not really. It was my own stupid fault. I came too far and wasn’t paying attention. I lost my footing.”

“Can’t be easy walking the beach with crutches,” he observed. “How far have you walked?”

“Less than a quarter of a mile. I was fine when I was down on the wet sand but I began to get tired. I was trying to get up to the boardwalk. I figured if I got onto solid ground it would be easier to walk back.”

“Let me guess,” observed Jake. “You’ve not been out much with those sticks?”

“No,” she confessed. “I haven’t.”

A single tear ran down her pale cheek. She reached up to roughly brush it away, embarrassed by her show of emotion, but only succeeded in leaving a smear of sand in its place. That was the final straw. Burying her face in her hands, she sat and sobbed. Months of pent up frustration flowed down her cheeks in a river of tears. Hesitantly, Jake put a comforting arm around her shoulders and held her as she wept.

“Hey,” he whispered softly. “It’ll be ok. I’ll get you home safely.”

“I’m sorry,” she sniffed. “I don’t usually sob all over complete strangers”

“Well, I don’t usually go around picking up fallen angels on the beach either.”

She smiled at his weak attempt at humour.

“I’m Jake by the way.”

“Lori,” she replied.

“Well, Lori, let’s get you up on your feet and up onto the boardwalk.”

“Thank you.”

Gauging that she didn’t weigh much, Jake handed her the crutches, told her to hold onto them then lifted her up into his arms. She was even lighter than he had guessed, so carrying her up the beach to the nearest pathway was no challenge. Once back up on the boardwalk, he sat her down on the first bench they came to.

“You sure you’re ok?” he asked, as he sat beside her.

“Yes, thank you. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t come along.”

“You’d have figured it out eventually.”

“I guess. Either that or Mary would’ve come looking for me,” admitted Lori, brushing sand off her jeans.


“Yeah, she’s my housekeeper. It was her idea that I take a walk. I’ve been sitting on the deck all afternoon gazing out at the ocean. She told me I needed to venture off the deck sometime and that today was as good a day as any. She’ll feel so bad when she hears I fell,” she explained.

“Who’s going to tell her?” Jake said with a wink. “I’ll walk you back. You don’t need to tell her that you fell.”


Stiffly and with more than a hint of nerves, Lori got to her feet and repositioned her crutches. Her leg was screaming at her and she knew it would be hard to keep news of her fall from the ever watchful Mary. As they began to walk along the sandy boards Jake observed how carefully Lori walked – watched the determination in each step and sensed the pain that was etched into her pale face. She had the bluest eyes he had ever seen, but there was a deep sadness cast through them.

“Pardon my asking but what happened to you? I’m thinking the crutches are a very recent addition to your wardrobe.”

“And you’d be right,” she confessed, pausing to look up at him. “I had an accident just before Christmas. I broke my leg quite badly. I came down here about six weeks ago. This is the first time I’ve been out on my own since the accident.”

“And you thought a walk on the sand was the smartest place to start?”

Lori laughed. Jake thought it the most beautiful musical laugh and joined in.

“I guess not, “she giggled. “So what brought you out this far?”

“A shit shift at work. A foul mood.”

“And scraping a dumb blonde off the sand wasn’t in the plan?”

“No, but I‘m glad I was there to rescue you,” he admitted. That wonderful laugh and those sad blue eyes were having a strange effect on his heart. A weird but wonderful effect. It had been a long time since he had felt that way. “Where exactly am I taking you when we run out of boardwalk?”

“Fourth house past the end. If that’s ok?”

“Not a problem, li’l lady.”

They walked on in silence for a few minutes, the end of the boardwalk drawing closer and neither of them really wanting to reach it. Surreptitiously, Jake watched her steely concentration, drank in her fragile beauty and breathed in her light, floral perfume. It had been a very long time since someone had had such an impact on him. A long time since he had bothered to look, if he was honest with himself. Between each painful step, Lori subtly surveyed her rescuer. He would make a fantastic model for a life drawing. His long sun bleached blonde hair fell carelessly down over his shoulders, almost reaching the middle of his back. She guessed from the tiny lines around his twinkling hazel eyes that he was a little older than her and his height dwarfed her small frame. There was something genuine about him. A rough diamond found in the sand? A friend? Lord, she could use one!

Deciding to take a risk, Lori said, “When we reach the house, will you come in for a coffee or a beer? It’s the least I can offer.”

“I’m not sure,” began Jake glancing at his watch. “Oh what the hell! The guys can wait. Beer sounds good.”

And the story continues in Stronger Within – due out mid-April on Kindle.