Tag Archives: #blog

Fancy a good book with that coffee and cake?…..

Last weekend a message dropped into my FB Author Page inviting me to take part in a “Donated by the Author” community book exchange offered by an independently run coffee shop.

As an indie author, I was instantly intrigued. Well, who can afford to dismiss opportunities to get their book in the hands of a reader?

Over the next day or so I exchanged messages with the owner, took a trip to the local post office and by Monday a copy of Ellen was winging it’s way to join in the exchange programme.

Two things I love are reading and coffee so the thought that these could be combined in a one stop shop was music to my ears!

So, where is this wonderful haven? It’s The Gingerbread Tea House in Widnes, Cheshire, England.

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Being of a curious nature I wanted to know more about and also to show my support for this venture.

So, without further ado, allow me to introduce coffee shop owner and aspiring author, Nicola Duty.

Thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions for me, Nicola. So, can you tell me a bit about the history of The Gingerbread Tea House? (I love the name)

NWhen my kids were little I always used to love baking with them. One of their favourite things to make were Gingerbread. 

When I decided to leave teaching and open my own business, The Gingerbread Tea House seemed fitting for our family business. 

I opened the cafe a little over two years ago. Partly because my husband and I were fed up of being unable to find quality food when out and about. I wanted to offer quality food prepared fresh to order, that’s what we do! It’s difficult at times, especially when it’s busy and I have lots of different orders at the same time, but I love it. 

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What inspired you to offer a book exchange to your customers?

NI’ve always had a passion for reading myself. I love the way you can escape into another world, how you can engage with the characters and be taken on a journey along with them. 

When I was teaching I found that far too many students had no interest in books or reading. The quality of students work suffered as a result. I felt that it was important to do something to help. I had a little space so I decided to use it to start the book exchange. 

Do you cater for children’s books as well as adult books?

NWe have books for readers of all ages, including children.

Tell me about the Donated By An Author piece? Do they just go into the “library” to be swapped around?

NThe “Donated by the Author” section of the book exchange is new, but the expectation is that books will be taken away just like any other book. I have asked authors donating books to make a note on the inside cover stating that they donated the book to us and asking the reader to pass the book on once they’ve finished with it. That could mean returning it to the book exchange or passing it on to a friend or relative. The idea is to get people reading and also get the authors noticed. For authors donating books I create a Facebook post including an image of their book and a profile. 

(Oops…. I might not have added that commentary inside the copy of Ellen I popped in the post. Sorry!)

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You mention in the bio on Facebook that you’re also a writer. What genres do you write?

NI’m more of an aspiring writer. I used to write plays for the kids in my street when I was growing up. In adulthood I’ve tried my hand a few times, but work and commitments and various distractions I never actually finished anything. I am near the end of a project at now. It needs editing and tidying up, but it’s almost there and I feel quite proud of it. 

As for genre, I’d say it’s kind of a mystery.  I already have the idea for my next book, but I don’t want to start it until I’ve finished this one. 

Have you published anything or do you have a blog to share your work ( As an aside, if you have any short stories or poems you’d like me to share via my blog I’d be happy to lend my support. I’ve done the same for a few folk who are just starting out.)

NI haven’t published anything to date, but “Chasing Butterflies” should be finished later this year. 

Hmm… butterflies…another of my favourite things. Consider me intrigued, Nicola!

Who are your favourite authors? Slightly cruel question, I know.

NOh so many! Jane Austin, Patricia Cornwell, Stephen King, I was obsessed with Dean Koontz for a while too. 

Which authors are proving to be the most popular in the Gingerbread Tea House?

N-To be honest it’s difficult to tell which authors are most popular. The books normally come and go while I’m busy in the kitchen! John Grisham seems to be fairly popular. 

Would you consider running a book club in the café where your customers could meet once a month to talk about a particular book? (Just a thought)

NI actually tried to start a writers’ group at the cafe, but sadly those interested couldn’t all come at the same time. It may be something that we look at in the future. 

What’s the most rewarding aspect of running The Gingerbread Tea House?

 NMost of my customers are regulars and many have become friends. Making people smile and providing good quality food is the most rewarding aspect by far.

Now, for a bit of fun, can you tell me:-

1 your favourite food?

NA juicy, rare fillet steak with chunky chips, Asparagus, oven baked mushrooms and tomatoes.

2 your favourite holiday destination?

NI love holidays. I like to try to visit different places. I love Barcelona and Paris, but I also love Portugal.

3 your favourite song or band/artist (if that’s easier)?

NMy favourite song of all time is Creep by Radiohead. It was out when I was in my late teens. As a bit of a misfit it seemed to suit me perfectly. 

I also like Oasis, The Arctic Monkeys, Hudson Taylor, Kodeline and Jake Bugg. 

Thanks, Nicola. I wish you all the best with this venture and many hours of happy reading!

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I’d love to see this community book exchange in coffee shops take off across the country. It’s a quick and easy way to connect readers and the “Donated by the Author” is a great incentive for authors to connect with their readers.

Here’s a sample of the submissions received so far-

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Now, I think it’s time to get the kettle on then sit back and chill with a good book, don’t you?

 

If you want to learn more about The Gingerbread Tea House, check them out on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/TheGingerbreadTeaHouse/

 

You Never Know Who’s Looking….. and where they are from….

Feb 2020

I rarely look at the viewing stats for my blog. Occasionally I’ll take a look to try to gauge how popular a post has been but, in general, I don’t study the stats page on here.

However, I checked it out recently and was left with an unanswered question- how would someone who lives in Qatar find my wee blog?

That got me thinking (Oh no, here she goes again I hear you cry) Where else is everyone from that has kindly taken the time to view my blog this month?

The results surprised me! 22 countries in just 29 days- WOW!!! (I’ll list them at the end for those who want to know which ones)

Then I began to wonder – what attracts people to a blog? In all honesty, I’d love to know the answer to that one as I’m sure many bloggers would!

That thought devolved into – what is a blog and where did they originate?

Cue a bit of Googling…..

 

The generally accepted definition of a blog or weblog, as they were originally known, is “a discussion or informal website on the World Wide Web (why does that feel like an old-fashioned term?) consisting of discrete often informal diary-style text entries (posts)”

 

I guess that about covers it!

 

Other blog traits are that posts are always displayed in reverse chronological order.

There are numerous blog hosts but WordPress currently hosts around 30% (estimate) of all blogs. I struggled to find any numbers to substantiate this but one article suggested that six years ago WordPress had 75.8million blogs listed.

Weblog is a term coined by John Barger in December 1997 then, around eighteen months later, a gentleman called Peter Merholz jokingly split the word into the phrase “we blog”. Shortly after that Evan Williams of Pyra Labs used the term “blog” as both a noun and a verb   – “to blog”- meaning to edit or post to one’s weblog. The term “blogger” followed on naturally.

So, who was the first “blogger”? That’s a point of debate but two possibilities are:-

1-Justin Hall, a journalist and entrepreneur, who began blogging while he was student at Swarthmore College PA in 1994

Justin Hall

2- Ty Inc are recognised as the first company with a commercial blog, In 1995 this took the form of an online diary where customers could vote for the beanie baby of the month. Love beanie babies!!

ty beanie

As an indieauthor, I’ve discovered blogs are a great way to try out new writing genres, market your books, connect with your readers (well, you’re reading this, aren’t you?) and to introduce the world to other indie authors. It can also be a means to get something off your chest but, on the whole, I refrain from ranting via my blog.

For me, personally, this wee blog had been the keystone in my creative journey. I started it on 29 December 2013 to help me overcome my fears of letting people read what I write. (Here’s the link to that very first blog – https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/deep-breaths-and-begin/ )

As I reflect now on those earlier blogs, I’ll admit some were better than others. Even now, some are better than others!

But, if you’d told me back at the end of December 2013 that people in 22 countries would have visited my blog in one month, I’d never have believed you.

Another achievement in this surreal creative journey.

Thank you – without YOU, this blog would slip by unnoticed.

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Countries

UK

Algeria

USA

Italy

India

Poland

Turkey

Netherlands

Australia

Canada

Brazil

Qatar

Malaysia

Germany

Greece

Romania

Spain

Russia

South Africa

Bangladesh

New Zealand

Argentina

 

 

 

An Exercise In Patience (poem)

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Piece by piece
Attention to detail
Testing times or timing the test?
Impatience not an option
Endeavour rewarded
Nearing completion
Congratulations abound
End goal achieved with endless patience

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Sometimes You Just Need To Stop And Look At The Colours Around You…..

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I’ve been reflecting and thinking….. (Oh, no! Here she goes! I hear you cry!)

Life is busy. Life is chaotic. It’s demanding on us  mentally and physically. We are  overloaded on a daily basis with information thanks to the technology that we have at our fingertips. It’s terrifying the amount of information  that we carry around in our pockets without a second thought about it. At the touch of the screen, we can connect with friends all over the world and see snapshots of their lives. Web cams allow us to “peek”  live time into cities and beaches and  who knows where else the world over. We even have devices in our own homes that we talk to…”Alexa, play songs by….”  Sometimes she even does as she’s asked. (My Alexa is developing an attitude)

So, how often do you actually press “pause” and look at the world around you, the real world?

This thought first struck me a few weeks back as I strolled through a largely deserted Dublin on a Sunday morning. It’s struck me a few times since.

Autumn (Fall, if you prefer) is a myriad of colours. Have you even noticed? Did it even cross your mind to look?

I did….. and here’s some of the colours I found.

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So, next time you go for a walk, keep your phone in your pocket and look at the world around you instead of the screen. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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