our fundraising journey

From Darkness to Light

Our fundraising journey and the evolution of Calum’s Legacy

This week I (Kim) got to help my good friend Alisoun Mackenzie with her fabulous Business for Good conference. The event was amazing – so many great stories being shared of how businesses can do good in the world through connections to causes and supporting charities. Alisoun had asked me to speak on the 2nd day and share the evolution of Calum’s Legacy and I realised that I hadn’t really spoken about this journey before. So I thought I’d share it with you.

Our son Calum died suddenly in 2007 from meningitis, he was 12 years old only a few weeks from becoming a teenager. It was the blackest and bleakest time of our lives. Our worst nightmare come true. But it wasn’t the end of our story it was the beginning of a new chapter.

Calum was always surrounded by friends and they were just as devastated and lost as we were by his death. I’m not sure who suggested it but as his friends gathered in our home in the days after his funeral, we decided to do something to celebrate Calum’s 13th birthday. The outcome was the biggest birthday party ever with over 1,000 people coming to the school to take part in lots of fundraising activities which raised almost £10,000 for Meningitis charities. It was huge – the outpouring of love, kindness and support was overwhelming and started to shine some light into the darkness of our lives. It gave us all a focus – something to do, a sense of purpose that was so missing. This was the start of our fundraising journey in Calum’s memory.

In the following years, we organised many different events, music nights, raffles, walked over hot coals, family and friends climbed mountains, ran marathons and collectively generated a lot of money for Calum’s Forever fund at Meningitis Now. But our business was growing and this created a challenge.

Indie Authors World is our accidental business, the seed began with Sinclair’s crime fiction books that he wrote to help him cope with Calum’s death and grew as we helped other writers to publish their books. This meant less time for fundraising until Alisoun suggested that I could bring the fundraising into our business. I had a bit of resistance to the idea at first but realised that we could create a publishing prize in Calum’s memory so some writer would also benefit. The Calum Macleod memorial publishing competition started, we organised a ball on what would have been Calum’s 21st birthday and invited our shortlisted authors to come along. This was a wonderful evening, money was raised for the Meningitis Charity, Calum was remembered, and Karin Finegan won the prize so her awesome book The Thirteen Stones was published.

This was the point that we began to develop the dream we could create a bigger impact. The fundraising we had done for Meningitis Now made a huge difference to us and helped other families that had been affected by this horrible disease but it felt connected to Calum’s death. I wanted to do something that recognised who Calum was in life. Sinclair and I started to talk about helping young people, bringing people together to build confidence, create opportunities to learn new skills and have fun. It’s taken a couple of years but we have now opened our creative youth enterprise project – Calum’s Legacy.

I am super excited about the possibilities of this. Twelve young people will get our support to find their voice, create stories and learn everything we do to create, market and sell a book. Their stories are going to be turned into a book. So yes there will be a physical product but I hope the young folks will gain much more – confidence, work skills, friendships, fun, life skills and maybe even light the entrepreneurial spark of possibility.

Calum’s Legacy is being funded by our business – we will donate money from the publishing packages we sell and are donating our time. We need to gather resources, laptops and some funds to pay for travel costs, food, admin support and other publishing costs along the way. We are recruiting author mentors to encourage young writers. We are open to offers of help and support too.

Standing on the stage in Edinburgh this week – I looked at the audience, many in tears who were clearly touched by our story. It was such a joy to talk about Calum and recognise the road we had travelled and the impact that fundraising had on our lives. The joy of having Calum at the heart of our business is immense. The hope that we can help other young people while making writers dreams come true makes me emotional. Our daughter Kirsten spoke at the launch of Calum’s Legacy on Mother’s Day – she talked about her memories of her brother with the kindness and love he showed to people. That love and kindness are enshrined in our business.

As Alisoun Mackenzie says “Business is a wonderful opportunity to be kind” it adds an extra dimension and now our light shines bright. I’d encourage you to add more kindness to your business.

You can help us by sharing Calum’s Legacy with any young person in Greater Glasgow/ East Dunbartonshire area. Applications are open until the end of June 2019.


St. George's Day flag.

Happy St. George's Day

On St. George’s Day we celebrate some of England’s finest and most renowned writers.

William Shakespeare

No list of English writers would be complete without one of the greatest playwrights and poets of all time. It would be insulting your intelligence to list the best of his works, everyone knows his genius. His writing has found its way into our everyday speech, his characters unforgettable templates for many writers who have followed and his works still provide inspiration for modern day adaptations and interpretations.
To quote the great man himself, “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” For Shakespeare, all three apply equally.

The Brontë Sisters

I know this is a bit of a cheat but to pick one of these remarkable women would be very difficult. Anne, Emily and Charlotte were the daughters of an Anglican vicar who lived in the village of Haworth in Yorkshire. In Victorian England being a writer was regarded as an unworthy pursuit for young women. The three sisters published their works under the pseudonyms Acton, Ellis and Currer respectively. Anne’s ‘Agnes Grey’; Charlotte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ were hugely successful and showed the incredible writing skills of each woman.
I was introduced to ‘Wuthering Heights’ in school but the forensic analysis of every chapter spoiled the experience. It wasn’t until I left school that I read the book again and realised what a fantastic novel it is.

Charles Dickens

Like Shakespeare, Dickens has taken on a deserved legendary status in the literary world. His novels are regarded by many as the best of the Victorian era and they have stood the test of time well into the 21st Century. From my perspective, his greatest strength was the ability to create incredible characters. Fagin, Miss Haversham, Ebeneezer Scrooge, Mr Micawber, and many more are some of the most memorable fictional people ever to be committed to paper. ‘Great Expectations’ is my personal favourite and I’m sure that many of you will have your own.

Agatha Christie

As a crime writer, I had to add Agatha Christie to this list. Although as a young man I didn’t appreciate just how brilliant she was, I discovered that in terms of plotting a crime novel she has never been beaten and there are very few who can match her. Her ability to create layers of motives with shoals of red herrings meant that trying to guess the murderer before the final reveal is virtually impossible. In Poirot and Miss Marple, she created detectives who are instantly recognisable and perfect for film and TV producers to adapt. I think as long as people love crime novels they will be reading Agatha Christie.

John Le Carré

Like Ms Christie in her genre, John Le Carré stands head and shoulders above anyone else writing in his. Since ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’ in 1963 he has produced a series of spy thrillers that not only tell authentic stories but capture beautifully the human frailties of ordinary people doing a job that requires lies and deception. If you haven’t read the George Smiley novels you should. They are the finest example of Cold War spy novels that have ever been written.

Of course there are many more writers that we could mention. Let me know in the comments who are your favourite writers from England.

To all our English friends, have a happy St. George’s Day.


Think of the poor editor

Here is a short selection of tips to help your writing and save your editor some strokes of the virtual red pen. They are some of the more common things that writers misunderstand.

Ellipsis

An ellipsis is a series of three full stops separated by spaces. It is used when there is a break in the narrative. For example, when a character is talking and is interrupted, or when they lose the thread of what they are saying, or when they are hesitant.
It is not used for any other reason.

Capitalisation (Names)

If a character is known by a descriptive nickname, it should always be capitalised. For example, in Robin Hood, despite it not being his given name, the little in Little John is always capitalised because that’s what the merry men call him.

Capitalisation (Job title)

When referring to someone by their job title, that title should always be capitalised. For example in my books when Tom Russell introduces himself it is written as “Detective Superintendent Tom Russell”. If a witness is speaking to him it is written as “Detective Superintendent.” However, if someone is talking about him without using his name it is written without capitals. For example, “The detective superintendent is the briefing room.”

It’s

A combination of three letters and a punctuation mark that causes every writer heartache from time to time. The rule is really simple, ‘it’s’ is a contraction of ‘it is’. Any other time those three letters stand alone without their punctuation pal.

The Oxford comma

This is one of the most debated rules of punctuation.
“What the blazes is an Oxford comma?” you might be wondering. It is the comma that comes before ‘and’ at the end of a list. (For example, Jeff filled the windscreen wiper bottle, checked the oil, and replaced the headlight bulb.)
The debate is that many people believe that the final comma isn’t necessary. The style guide for most newspapers will say that it should not be used. It is more commonly used in non-fiction writing. If you do decide to use it, make sure you do so consistently and you’ll make the life of your editor so much easier.

Consistency

This can be very difficult as we try to track what we’ve written but it is important. If you have referred to a character as James for three-quarters of the book, don’t start calling him Jimmy for the last quarter. Try to be consistent in the language your character uses, it helps the reader to better understand who that character is and makes those characters more believable.

That’s it for this blog, I hope these tips help your writing. If you have any questions or observations please leave a comment below.