Tag Archives: books

Sail Away On This Voyage Of A Lifetime

I had a message from a friend of mine yesterday which brought a huge smile to my face. She claims that Jack and I know every song, every album, every band ever. Of course we don’t. But we do like many different genres of music and we take an interest in anything new to our ears.

Well, my friend asked me if I had heard “Sail Away” from David Gray. I had not heard it before, and she started claiming it was the first time she had ever introduced a song to me, and not the other way around. But the reason she wanted me to hear it, is that she said it is the perfect song for the movie. You know…the Hollywood movie version of “This Voyage Of A Lifetime”, the final part of the three part Annabelle Riley series “LEARNERS AT LOVE”.

(Naturally, I am still keeping Hollywood at arm’s length – way too many shifty types there!)

Ocean, Milky Way, Boat, Sailing

So I listened – with my headphones in now I appreciate the difference in quality – and I loved it. Wow the bass! It is great! I loved the video she sent me too. Is it the original video? I don’t want to know if it’s not!

I also noticed recently that there seems to have been a change in the way Amazon links appear when copied onto a WordPress post. They used to pop up into a full on display of the book being linked. But it seemed to just stop very suddenly. I can still link them to an image though. For example, by clicking the image below….it should transport you to Amazon – no, not the Amazon – the website where you buy stuff that you probably don’t really need.

The Editing Never Really Ends – Does It?

As many of you know, when I wrote The LEARNERS AT LOVE Series, it was the formation of many short parts published over the period of around six months on my blog – around four or five a week.

There were several reasons I was writing and several influences. I think I started writing Annabelle’s story because I had just come back from Australia wondering how it is that you can be on the opposite side of the planet from someone you love. How do you cope? What happens when someone else takes an interest with you and flirts with you? I had been through a lot that year, including a miscarriage, and my great adventure to spend the summer with Goldfinch – lots of mixed feelings, lots of inspirational experiences and lots of love.

It all came out in Annabelle’s story – love, romance, disappointment, humour, grief, major decisions, inspiration from the people around you, frustration with the people around you, warmth and encouragement, self-isolation and feeling lost, putting a brave face on for everyone around you, hiding things that are crushing you from within. It al came out in a fictional character, with a fictional story, with a lot of very real input from real life.

Airports sometimes feel like gateways to another world – another life. I kept on dreaming about being at the airport with Goldfinch – an experience I have had five times now. Annabelle too was going to journey through several airports along her voyage. I think that the 10,100 mile trip I took was why Annabelle ended up travelling so much. It seems a little odd after the Pandemic that she travels with such ease.

It was too intense to give Annabelle my story, it was just too much. But I found myself wanting to bring into her story other things that had happened in my life and the experiences of friends. I have a friend who almost lost her husband when he was in a serious traffic accident. I have a friend who has battled with very dark thoughts towards herself. I have family members who have made mistakes in the past with debt, gambling, alcohol and Class A drugs – and remarkably they have fought those battles and turned their lives around. I found myself weaving in things they have said, conversations we have shared, the experiences they have had with other people, the health service, and their own emotions as they tried to make progress with their battles.

As many other writers will have found, it is incredibly cathartic to weave lessons from life you have picked up yourself or from others, inspiration from real life, real people, real emotions into your fictional story. Writing Annabelle’s story was hugely helpful to me.

However, I sometimes wonder if I deluged Annabelle Riley with too much of an impossible situation at the point we meet her. I have never stopped editing the books I wrote, as far as correcting silly spelling mistakes and typos, and trying to liven up the narrative. However, I have come to a slight dilemma over how much she has been through in a short time. I have read Annabelle’s story several times with a red pen and updated my manuscript with minor amendments to improve the text.

Photo by George Milton on Pexels.com

There are some parts of her story which are essential and cannot disappear because otherwise the rest of her story won’t make sense. I cannot tamper with her relationships with her parents and siblings or her ex-boyfriend. They all have to stay. But from the point she met Robin, I keep looking at all that happens in a short space of time – and of course this is all backstory, because we meet Annabelle several years after she meets Robin – him leaving because his contract has ended and his Visa has expired, her pregnancy, her trip to England, the car accident, the post-natal depression, the grief, the nervous breakdown Robin experiences.

I sometimes wonder if it is too much for one person to endure? Why did I give her so many challenges? Then I remember, well, I guess that I was the one doing the writing, and perhaps part of what fueled me was my own experiences, being trolled and slandered by Jack’s fans, being sexually assaulted and violently attacked, moving around to find somewhere I felt safe, settled and could work independently, falling in love, him leaving because his contract had ended, my pregnancy, my miscarriage, my trip to Australia, my sadness that I had to come back to London and carry on without knowing what the future would hold. All that was bottled up inside, and it came out in Annabelle’s story.

Does Annabelle have too many challenges on her plate? I don’t know. But what I do know is that cliches do not solve her challenges. She has journey on through life, learning about herself, making peace where she can with her past, enduring judgmental comments from others, struggling to communicate, feelings of isolation with her challenges, fear and mistrust, being knocked down by her own failings and sensitive to harsh words from others who seem to be judging her harshly, trying to build a life for herself and realizing that things beyond our control can knock us way off track.

I need to do some brutal editing to the first book. I know there are some passages that are repetitive, and I think repeating her challenges over and over can drag a reader down. But at the same time, I know that when I started writing Annabelle’s story, I was in a way at a crossroads in my life, having been through some very traumatic and painful events, and not being sure what the future held. I think I need to preserve the weight of her challenges, and that she is sort of in a state of “limbo” when we meet her. But the brutal editing ahead of me is about not letting the challenges dominate, but finding the right balance of humour and heartwarming characters to carry Annabelle forward as she continues her voyage of a lifetime.

Friends Forever

This past weekend was one of many smiles. Jack and I get a lot of work done every Sunday. This weekend, we had some help in the form of two of our close friends who we have not seen for a couple of months. Last time we saw them, we were in someone’s garden. This time, we were inside because of the lifting of the social distancing restrictions that we have been carefully observing for months.

I was grateful for some help to put together a slideshow I will be using in a training session I will be conducting. Then we baked together!!! Yes, it is so lovely after over eighteen months to be able to bake with friends in the kitchen. I will never take these things for granted.

Girls, Sparklers, Fireworks, Celebration, Happy, People

It suddenly crossed my mind that because my friend is moving abroad in a few months time, she might not be at my wedding. That was a heartbreaking thought. I suspect that she will also be getting married at some point over the next year or two, and very likely over in the USA. Another heartbreaking thought that I might not be at her wedding.

Distance is hard. It’s not just the distance, it is the cost to travel. The Pandemic has spooked me when it comes to travelling thousands of miles away. I live on a tight budget. When I do travel, it is the result of scraping and saving for a long time. I am not the kind of person who can afford for things to go wrong. I don’t have any plans to go abroad for a long time. Even Jack finds it weird that I don’t want to think about a paradisiac honeymoon. I would be happy with a fortnight in the Lake District – only his parents live there, so that is probably the last place we will be spending our honeymoon.

We talked a lot…as friends do….all sorts of subjects came up….including books. I have downloaded a few books at my friend’s suggestion. So…last night I started reading a book she told me I would enjoy by a WordPress blogger called Sarah Fennell. I read the first two chapters and I am already enjoying it.

I shared with her my latest YouTube playlist – full of love songs that I am using in the BAKE OFF posts I am preparing. We shared headphones so we could hear the deep bass.

Friends….friends who know what we like….know what makes us tick…and bring deep smiles to our faces….they are so precious.

This year we are hosting the heartwarming 2021 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE OFF FESTIVAL OF LOVE. We are so thrilled with the photographs that have already been sent in. We would love you to take part too!! Please send your baking photographs into:

crushedcaramel@gmail.com

The First Few Chapters

You may know that before I published The LEARNERS AT LOVE Series in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon…I published one part at a time on my very own blog over a period of around seven months.

Now when I was writing the first few chapters, I had an idea in my head I had read a book not long before. The book I read told almost the same story from the differing points of view of seven different people. It was very clever. I was so impressed by this style, I tried to employ it to some extent in Annabelle’s emerging backstory.

First of all Jenna tells Chris what she has overheard of Annabelle’s past (which is all based on malicious gossip). When Chris is trying to learn more about Annabelle, Burt Jennings says very little. Overhearing Chris is asking questions, Pearl tells him what she knows of Annabelle’s story. Eventually, Annabelle and Chris start up a friendship, but Annabelle is careful with what she shares. Annabelle confides in Gina (Chris’ older sister), sharing some of the details she has not dared to share with the older folk in the town of Blackwood. Of course, the different information Chris has heard only makes sense when Annabelle finally chooses to reveal her past to him.

I know what I was trying to do….but for a reader who is new to Annabelle Riley’s story, I think those first few chapters can be confusing. So I have been going over the first half of the first book “We Hide What We Hate About Ourselves” with a view to revising the flow. I don’t want readers to find it annoyingly repetitive. I want to edit those chapters so that each character reveals something different about Annabelle, but not identical details.

Editing just never stops, does it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I Am Hooked On Caster And Fleet!

I mentioned just over a week or so ago that I had been reading books co-authored by WordPress blogger Paula Harmon. Well, I am now hooked!

I loved Books One-Three and I could not wait to get stuck into the next three books. I checked on Amazon and there seem to be spin-offs too. I am loving these characters and their stories. I love the Victorian setting, the manners and customs of daily life. Every the two female detectives get themselves into quite a pickle, and I find myself growing anxious and the outcome.

It is so hard to put down my tablet at night, and as soon as I finish one book, I want to start the next to read of their next adventure.

Oh What To Read?

I found myself with an evening alone (because Jack had to make an appearance at a special charity event – socially distanced of course) at the weekend, and decided that I wanted to read something. I really did. Nothing to do with work or what is going on in the world – but some engrossing, enjoyable fiction.

Of course, my reading list now includes a large selection of both paperbacks and Kindle editions of books that have been written by bloggers right here on WordPress. There are so many great books I have read (and I still have lots of Caramel’s Corner Reviews waiting to be finished in my drafts folder so I can tell you what I thought of them).

But this week I read a post from Jacob Nyamake’s WEDNESDAY WRITER series, featuring WordPress writer/blogger Paula Harmon. I loved the interview, but I also checked out her books on Amazon and downloaded Books 1-3 of The Casper & Fleet Mysteries. What a treat!!!

Two Victorian young women become a mystery solving duo whilst dealing with all of the challenges of their era – from corsets to chaperones – both with their own interesting storyline. I loved getting to know Katherine and Connie and found it so easy to read chapter after chapter without wanting to put my tablet down.

I love that Book One – which I have read all of and can’t wait to get stuck into Book Two – traverses parts of London. As a resident of London myself, it is so easy to conjure up an image of those places nowadays.

Paula Harmon and co-writer Liz Hedgecock have produced a fantastic duo, incredibly enjoyable to read about, and I am really looking forward to reading the rest of their series.

If I Could Make It Here I Could Make It Anywhere

Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the theme: FIX/MAKE

Empire State Building, New York City, Skyscraper

There are lots of songs that came to mind, but I picked the one I never get tired of. There is something uplifting and exciting about this song when I hear it, even though I have no connection with New York. But I still felt I had to send my main character Annabelle Riley to New York where she met her ex-boyfriend and of course her family. In fact I think that the interactions with Dean were some of my favourite passages to write. All my friends say they fall in love with Chris early on in the story, but of all the characters they like Dean the best because he can be so obnoxious and at the same time so caring. How confusing is that for a writer to hear?!!!

Researching New York sites, hotels and restaurants, checking the subway routes that Annabelle would have taken – it was so absorbing. It made me want to visit for myself and trace her steps around the city. There are so many films and television series that have been set in New York, so many of us are familiar with this famous city even if we have never been there ourselves. So it was easy for me to imagine Annabelle and Chris on the Brooklyn Bridge and high up on the Empire State Building.

For Annabelle, New York is not an easy place to be. But in a surprise twist – the answer to some of her problems actually lays waiting for her in New York.

Well….if you did not have chance to follow Annabelle’s story when I published it on my blog it is now all recorded in the first part of the LEARNERS AT LOVE series “We Hide What We Hate About Ourselves” which is down there in the footer of my blog. I had to remove the Annabelle posts from my blog before I published her story with Amazon, which is a shame, but the joy of holding my first paperback and seeing my family and friends with their own copy is so worthwhile!

Meanwhile….this is the song that inspired Annabelle’s story when she ventures outside of Wisconsin. It is Alicia Keys singing “Empire State Of Mind”.

Oooh oooh, New York
Oooh oooh, New York

Grew up in a town
That is famous as a place of movie scenes
Noise is always loud
There are sirens all around
And the streets are mean
If I could make it here
I could make it anywhere
That’s what they say
Seeing my face in lights
Or my name in marquees found down on Broadway

Even if it ain’t all it seems
I got a pocketful of dreams
Baby, I’m from
New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York, New York, New York!

On the avenue, there ain’t never a curfew
Ladies work so hard
Such a melting pot on the corner selling rock
Preachers pray to God
Hail a gypsy cab
Takes me down from Harlem to the Brooklyn Bridge
Someone sleeps tonight with a hunger
For more than an empty fridge

I’m making by any means
I got a pocketful of dreams
Baby, I’m from

New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York, New York, New York!

One hand in the air for the big city
Street lights, big dreams, all looking pretty
No place in the world that can compare
Put your lighters in the air
Everybody say yeah, yeah yeah

New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York!

Writers: Alicia J Augello Cook, and Shawn Carter

Caramel Is Decorating!

You may remember that one of the surprise outcomes of me starting this blog two years and ten months ago is that I have ended up writing and publishing a bunch of books! Never expected that when I started blogging! Hardly know what came over me!

The amazing thing is, I managed to do most of the writing and editing before the Pandemic began, which was good because work has been bonkers with this virus. Work has been incredibly taxing and for every right reason, I have had to cut back on the amount of time I spent blogging and writing. But it has always been a hobby I have enjoyed whenever I had the opportunity.

Too often I don’t get a break at work, we are often just too busy. But when I am able to sit down for ten/minutes (or on the rare occasion half an hour) I have pulled out a paperback copy of one of my books and a red pen and circled corrections I needed to make. Slowly slowly I have continued to make corrections and update my manuscript. At last that process is complete! I now feel my books will not embarrass me with really silly mistakes. So I am trying to find a way to add pictures of my books with Amazon links to them to my site.

However, I have realized….I cannot do that with my current WordPress theme. So….I am dreading this….but I am going to start messing around with finding the right theme to allow me to do what I want. That is going to be a complete nightmare! I know it. I should have done it before now. But I could not face it.

There was a stage when I was on top of all the widgets and menus on my site – but I gave up about a year ago when things started getting too busy. But I know that changing my theme is going to be a momentous task – momentous! I am going to be searching for a theme that allows me to stay that blue colour I like so much and that allows me to to have a few simple widgets. I don’t want lots of them. I just want some kind of easy navigation widget (is there one?) and to be able to feature my books.

Playing about with the theme is something I am frankly terrified about. I do believe my site will be a mess for a while. But now is the time it would seem. So…while I play around until I find what I want….I do sincerely apologise for any confusion I cause. Caramel is decorating her site – yikes! This could be one of the craziest disasters ever seen on WordPress – are you ready for this?

A Walk In The Woods

CARAMEL'S CORNER

Today I am reviewing a marvellous book penned by Esther Chilton, the creator of estherchiltonblog. This beautiful story book “A Walk In The Woods” (front cover art work by talented Charlotte Newton) is a book I have admired greatly from the moment my paperback copy arrived.

As I began to read this exquisite collection of stories, my thoughts applauded what I was reading. I just kept thinking to myself, “My! Esther is such a clever writer!” Why do I say that. Well, besides the obvious quality, perfect editing and quality production than shine throughout the book, Esther’s style in her short stories is notable. Each finely crafted story has impact.

Before I started blogging, I never read flash fiction or short stories, I only ever read long dramatic epic novels. I have marvelled at the talent of so many writers who know how to craft a meaningful story in few yet precisely chosen and arranged words and phrases. Well Esther’s short stories in “A Walk In The Woods” are a model of telling a powerful tale, often with an unexpected twist or a pithy veridical conclusion.

As I would expect from Esther, “A Walk In The Woods” excellently showcases her talent as a writer and editor. Not only will readers enjoy her compilation of stories, but also admire Esther’s superb crafting. Esther Chilton really is such a very clever writer!!!

__________

You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

CARAMEL’S CORNER 2020

Well….by now you may have noticed that I have taken on the challenge of reviewing the books published by other WordPress bloggers – which was a terrifying prospect before I began, but now I am enjoying! I began publishing reviews back in August 2020 – roughly one every two weeks.

In case you want to check out some of the fabulous books – ALL WRITTEN BY WORDPRESS BLOGGERS! – featured on CARAMEL’S CORNER, I have put together a little list of the 2020 CARAMEL’S CORNER posts:

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/08/08/climbing-over-grit/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/08/22/let-love-speak/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/preposterous-tales-from-the-newbury-short-story-teller/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/09/19/managing-the-depression-puzzle/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/wish-upon-a-leaf/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/10/17/heart-songs/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/11/07/zion/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/11/21/swinging-sanity/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/12/05/we-hide-what-we-hate-about-ourselves-2/

There is more to come in 2021 – in fact I have a long list of reviews that need to be completed in my drafts folder. There are books I have read and reviewed from Ritu Bhathal, Stephen Black, Tom Burton, Esther Chilton, Nora Edinger, Sarah Fennell, Iain Kelly, Jenna Kirkpatrick, Gabriella Marie Milton, Frank Prem, Kevin Morris, Julia Tannembaum and more!

Writer, Typewriter, Author, Blogging

If you are a WordPress blogger and you have published your own book – please free to drop by and say hello and please tell me about your book! I am always interested in coming across other bloggers who love to write (as opposed to the countless robots than seem to be following me). I do have my limits, so I won’t always be able to read your book if it is graphically violent or glorifies demons etc. But I do like to support other bloggers, just as I have been encouraged and supported by other bloggers. Please feel free to leave a comment on one of my posts.

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet