Cheer Yourself up With a British Accent #CurmudgeonAvenue

A recommendation for indie authors looking for an audiobook narrator

Just over a year ago, I had the best bit of news since I started my indie author career.

An email arrived from ACX to informing me that a voice over actor had auditioned to narrate Curmudgeon Avenue #1 The Terraced House Diaries.

It turned out that the talented Lindsay McKinnon lives forty minutes up the road from me, she did such an awesome job of narrating that I am saying the audiobook is better than the book.

Last week, Lindsay sent me a video she has made which is an introduction to the characters and book

Obviously, I am keen to spread the word about Curmudgeon Avenue but I am also recommending Lindsay if you are looking for a voice over actor to produce your audiobooks. Lindsay’s website is called Theatre of the Mind Productions

Lindsay can also be found on Twitter @LindzMcKinnon

Obviously, I will be asking Lindsay to narrate everything that I write from now on.

Now scroll back and watch the awesome video!

Happy listening,

Samantha xx

Join My Mailing List – Innit!

Join my mailing list

Hello Everyone!

I have recently started a mailing list which is something all the indie author advice people advise us to do.

I am a voracious reader, always adding adding and adding to my reading list, and two years ago, I joined BookFunnel which lead to me joining a lot of author mailing lists. Now HERE is mine!

But enough about me, here’s why I think fans of my series, Curmudgeon Avenue need to join my mailing list.

The residents are idiots, the city is in lockdown. Will they cope with the global pandemic?

Available free to mailing list subscribers is Curmudgeon Avenue #5.5 ‘Curmudgeon Avenue’s Manchester Lockdown’ . Get it by clicking HERE

The reason this volume is free to my mailing list, is because I had hesitated writing about the big global mess, but eventually I gave in (mainly when the phrase ‘new normal’ started popping up). Personally, I would not make light of Covid-19 but, folks need a bit of lighthearted escapism.

And when I say folks, I mean fans of Curmudgeon Avenue.

Curmudgeon Avenue is a social satire about a house that dislikes its owners.

So come on down, join my mailing list and grab yourself a free book, innit! (As Tanya Rose of Curmudgeon Avenue would say).

Happy reading, Samantha xx

A Big Day Out on Curmudgeon Avenue #AuthorEvent #AudiobookLaunch #RadcliffeLibrary @BuryLibraries

WELL, after much deliberation, I finally gave in to my husband’s demands (sorry – I meant suggestions) and put my book Curmudgeon Avenue Book One: The Terraced House Diaries forwards on ACX to investigate its audiobook potential. I did not think that anyone would want to narrate it, however, one sunny Sunday morning in October last year I received an email that has boosted my writing career no end –

From ACX: Lindsay McKinnon at Theatre of The Mind Productions wants to narrate your book.


white cup filled by coffee
Photo by jonas mohamadi on

Just to give you some context, when I read the email, I was sitting up in bed, and my husband was in the bathroom. Upon his return, he said ‘What are you grinning at?’ and I said:

‘I’ve just had an email, someone wants to narrate my book! She sounds AWESOME! Listen to this!’

Wow, I wish I had one of those ways to add audio to this blog post, and I wish you could get in my head because when I listened to Lindsay’s audition, I swear down, she sounded exactly like I had imagined my book would sound when I was writing it. What a voice. How lucky for this to happen – I went from lacking confidence, doubting that anyone would pick my book up to… THURSDAY EVENING THE AUDIOBOOK LAUNCH OF CURMUDGEON AVENUE BOOK ONE! Where we put on a book event at the local library – Radcliffe Library where part of the book is set!

(I need to catch you up here, from anywhere in the globe, I managed to meet a narrator who lives half an hour up the road from me – again- what a moment of serendipity!)

We met fabulous Librarian Sarah of Bury Library services and she had set a little room up for us inside Radcliffe Library (nice building – recently refurbished)

Soon, we had a room full of expectant faces and one helpful husband holding a camera up ready to listen to Lindsay’s reading of my book and my waffling on about it (you know what it’s like when you get onto a good subject!)


We played the Curmudgeon Avenue trailer, made for me by my friends J&E Productions:

Wonderful librarian Sarah introduced us, (I love librarians, can you tell? Also well jel of their job).

Then Lindsay kicked off the action by reading the dedication in her superb actor voice:

‘This book is dedicated to the Whitefield Massive!’ 

Lindsay then read the first chapter of Curmudgeon Avenue, August Apologies: ‘On the day this all started, the sky was full of August apologies for a summer undelivered.’ The first chapter is narrated by the house (yes, houses have personalities so why wouldn’t it narrate a book?) The scene is set for a proud, yet grouchy Victorian terrace who is suddenly empty and awaiting new residents… Enter sisters Edna and Edith, soon to be followed by lodger Harold.



Links for the Kindle and paperback copies of Curmudgeon Avenue Book One: The Terraced House Diaries UK and US

Trust me, links to the audiobook will be posted here the second that ACX starts to distribute it – any minute now!

Thank you for joining Lindsay McKinnon and myself for the cyber version of our audiobook launch.

If you are an author and are interested in Lindsay narrating your book through ACX I think, think the easiest way to find her is on Twitter @LindzMcKinnon or by typing ‘Lindsay McKinnon’ into the ‘search > producers for hire’ box on or search Lindsay McKinnon on Linkedin. (Obviously, I want Lindsay to narrate the other books in the Curmudgeon Avenue series).

Samantha xx



What’s in a (Character) Name? #GuestPost William B. Taylor and Helen Gerrard @pegasuspublish @WilliamBTaylor5

William B. Taylor shares his character names with Samantha Henthorn

Thank you for joining me for my very first ‘writerly rambling’ post of 2020. Today I am talking about a bit of local book networking. Some of my favourite people are four friends of mine that happen to be sisters. Their dear mother was one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. She had a friend, Helen who all four sisters would often say to me – with widened eyes ‘You’ve got to get in touch with Helen! She’s got a book out!’ Well, don’t let me tell you, here is William B. Taylor to tell us how he and Helen Gerrard came up with their character names and book…

What’s in a Character Name? Guest blog by William B. Taylor.

Being both absent minded and often quite lazy, I have never really analysed my writing process, so I’d like to start this blog by thanking Sam for offering me this opportunity to actually think about what I do and why I do it when it comes to this particular aspect of my writing process.

Author photo


My wife, Helen Gerrard, awoke one morning in 2018 with an idea – The Bee Polisher. By the time I dragged my lazy self out of bed and downstairs in search of a cup of tea (and a reason to have bothered to wake up that day), Helen had already written out a story on a sheet of A4, and drawn a sketch of the title character.

1561630467184c1e82edfdd2145ac67b171da1b202 Available to buy here


I read it with my cup of tea, and thought it was a weird and wonderful idea. Grabbing the remote control and switching off the Jeremy Kyle Show, I turned to my laptop and began to type. Little could we have known in those early days, that these innocent actions would eventually lead to us being offered a publishing contract by Pegasus Publishers for our first book, The Bee Polisher.


Character names:


Helen’s original story only contained two character names, The Bee Polisher, and Old Fred the farmer. The Queen was just “the Queen”, or “the wicked Queen”. I decided to create a realm in which these characters could live, alongside other characters that would appear in the later story. Fortunately it was a children’s fairy tale set in a fantasy kingdom, so I had the freedom to be able to invent new and unusual names that would hopefully appeal to that audience. I’ll go through the characters in the order they appear in the book.


King Garold is the kindly old ruler of Bumblonia at the start of the book. His name came to me quite easily. At college I had a good friend, Gary Graham, who for no particular reason other than it sounded a bit silly, I liked to call Garold. This name jumped into my head and I thought it sounded suitably regal – especially with the word “King” in front of it.

01 King Garold (1)


Next in line to the throne is Barold, the king’s free spirited son. When I lived in the wilderness of the north, in a bleak and remote village called Carlisle, I had a friend called Barry Cox. If my memory serves me true (it often doesn’t), Barry lived in a cottage in the woods under a bridge. For some reason the character of Barold reminded me of him. I reasoned if Gary could become Garold, then Barry could likewise become Barold. The fact the names Garold and Barold rhyme helps to create the feeling of the royal family line.

02 Barold


The next character to appear is Malicia, an ignorant and unlikable figure who has grown up in the city kingdom of Shmogg and knows nothing of rural life. I decided she needed a name that in some way reflected her unpleasant personality, while sounding realistic enough as a name in itself. Her character is both militant and malicious so I blended these two unpleasant words to fit.

13 Malicia


Lord Shmuck is Malicia’s father. He is fueled by a sense of duty, which is fueled by a desperate fear of otherwise being poor. I chose Shmuck in the hope that the connotations of the word would help the reader come to an idea of his character.

Old Fred the farmer was Helen’s original idea for the “hero” character, the protagonist from whose perspective most of the story is written. I did not change Helen’s idea because I value my marriage, and because I liked the use of alliteration between the character’s name and their job. This use of alliteration was then applied to the names of all the other Bumblonian villagers, for example Young Bill the butcher’s boy, Frankie the fishmonger and Mary the miller’s wife. This felt like a simple (or lazy) way of naming the minor characters.

10 Old Freds Market stall

Young Bill and Frankie

05 Young Bill and Frankie

The only animal to be named in the book is Old Fred’s beloved cow, Milky Joe. Helen suggested this as she is a fan of the TV series The Mighty Boosh, and Milky Joe is the name of a character that appears in one episode. One of my proof readers raised the point that Joe is a boy’s name and that is strange for a cow. I agreed, but kept the name as it was anyway.


The rest of the characters to appear are not named and are referred to by their job titles. These include the Archbishop, the Captain of the Guards, The Bee Polisher and the Friendly Local Bee Collection Officer.


Place names:


I’m not ashamed to admit that I struggled with the place names almost as much as I struggled to write the blurb for the back cover of the book. I have no idea why, but they just didn’t come to me easily at all. I begged a friend to write the blurb for me, which I tweaked a bit to make it sound more like me before sending to the publishers. Likewise, I turned to the charity of others for help when coming up with the place names in The Bee Polisher.


I am an avid reader myself, with a particular love of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. I have been told this can bee seen in my writing style, which is a compliment indeed. On the internet there are many groups of similar-minded Pratchett fans, a couple of which I am a member of. In my desperation I turned to the other members, saying I was writing a children’s book about bees, and requesting any ideas they might have. They didn’t let me down.


The Kingdom of Bumblonia was a lovely name for the land in which the bee-related tale unfolds. King Garold lived in a castle called The Royal Twill (that took a couple of moments for me to realise was an anagram of my own name, Will Taylor). Old Fred lives on Hunningbie Farm near the village of Coombe.


The Kingdom of Shmogg was my idea, I’m pleased to say. I wanted a name that showed the contrast between the city and the clean, fresh countryside. I thought about the characteristics of cities and as soon as I thought about smog I knew I had the perfect name.


And that’s it. That’s how I came up with most of the names in The Bee Polisher. It was a mixture of names from my past, a bit of wordplay and help from others. I hope you have found this blog helpful, interesting, or at least fun to read.


I’d like to thank Sam once again for asking me to write this blog. Now I suppose I had better crack on with the next book!


About William B. Taylor


William Taylor was born long ago, near the sleepy village of Manchester, in the land of England.

He was born in the traditional manner – naked in a room full of strangers. Before long, he was educated – and very quickly learned the basics of tying both shoelaces and a tie.

He became a man and took himself a wife (he didn’t steal one, he got married). Now he likes to write down his silly thoughts and musings, occasionally wondering what happened to the boy he once was…

Links to buy The Bee Polisher by William B.Taylor and Helen Gerrard 

Amazon UK



Amazon US

Trailer ^



What a lovely story Will and Helen, the story of your book and how you created it. Great names too – and I loved your place names. Wishing you every success with your next book. I wouldn’t have had this blog post if it wasn’t for my friends that are four sisters xx

Join me on January 22nd (Just before Burns Night) when Lizzie Lamb shares her character names. (Can’t wait!)

Happy reading! Samantha xx


The Curmudgeon Avenue Series Trailer

The Curmudgeon Avenue series is currently three books.

Book One (The Terraced House Diaries) available here UK and here US

Book Two (The Harold and Edith Adventures) availablhere UK and here US

Book Three (Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue) available here UK and here US

Book Four is being written at the moment The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue will be published at the end of October 2019.

I think the trailer captures the comedy-drama of the series, so I won’t say anything else!

Happy reading and trailer watching, Samantha xx

Copyright J&E Productions 2019