What We Did During Lockdown (An Anthology): WRITTEN IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 #PublicationDay

Hello everyone!

Well, hark at me having a secret publication during the global pandemic!

What We Did During Lockdown is a micro anthology written by me and four of my friends. Today is the official publication day and it is available in paperback HERE

Here is the blurb:

Five friends… four stories… and one poem.Twin daughters provide inspiration for one spontaneous poet… Tuesday morning and Martin has a meltdown watching Piers Morgan… what has Martin been up to during lockdown? And will his wife find out? …. Inspired by Van Gogh an outsider’s artwork gets gritty. Van Gogh would be proud… Karen’s brain is fried by a faint hum that turns into something else. But, she’ll be OK (won’t you, Karen?) … Mimi’s search for toilet roll takes her to the other side of town she thinks she knows everything but is finally left speechless. Written at a time of panic, pandemic and lockdown. Good things can come out of disaster. All royalties from this book will be donated to Bury Hospice

Yes, we are raising money for Bury Hospice. 

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Left to right top row: Claire Kingsley, Alex Cavanagh, Samantha Henthorn. Bottom row: Shaylah, Leah Leanne Wood.

This little project started when my friend Alex (pictured above) started a group on Facebook for ‘us lot’ so that we could all keep in touch. We have a weekly Zoom quiz that no one wants to win and we message at least once a day.,

Early on during the lockdown, I put a post up ‘Does anyone want to write a short story collection with me?’

My friend Leah jumped on it straight away. She is a super talented singer and usually sings at local events. I have been in tears more than once (in a good way) at her singing.  Leah’s story is brilliant and so relatable about family life. Leah was the first person to submit, and although I had fallen into the depths of poor motivation the following week, I wrote my story.

Then Alex donated one of his poems written about his beautiful twin daughters and amazingly gorgeous wife.

Then Shaylah donated a brilliant story she had already written. It is about an outsider who takes a gritty approach to art. I know Shaylah because I am friends with her mum. Thanks to her mum Sarah for encouraging her to be a part of this. I can totally see Shaylah’s talent she is going to write some great things and I’m going to be her biggest fan!

After weeks of telling me she didn’t have the inclination to write at the moment, Claire wrote a story in defence of middle-aged women everywhere (and it took her a couple of hours to write it!)

The whole thing was fun, we are so looking forward to reviews and I know that Claire, Alex and Leah are appearing on a blog post for Against The Flow Press.

One last thing, the book is dedicated to Sam Hunt. Sam was a great friend to us all she had the best smile and everyone used to gravitate to her. She was also Leah’s mum (and mum to Carla, Janaki and Kamala also).

This book is dedicated to Sam Hunt, a cherished mother, nana, sister and friend. May her spirit live among the trees. 

(Sam was also an auntie)

Happy reading everyone,

Stay safe

Samantha xx

 

If You Love It So Much, Then Why Don’t You Just Marry It?

Hello Everyone!

For a while now, my gorgeous grown-up daughter and my life-saving physiotherapist have encouraged me to write about my experience of Multiple Sclerosis. I ALWAYS do what my physiotherapist tells me to (more about physio in a later post). And I usually do what my daughter says.

As I don’t know if my daughter is OK with me mentioning her (and I can’t be bothered messaging her at work) here is a photo of Gorgeous Daughter and me. (Her face is a bit blurry because she is laughing at something I said). 20190131_195034

I’m not entirely sure where to begin and have given these posts a great deal of thought. I was diagnosed with MS in 2005 just before my 30th birthday. When I think about it, I had symptoms prior to that, as far back 1989 when I was 14 years old.

During this time, yes, I have learnt a lot about Multiple Sclerosis. But I have also learnt a lot about people. You won’t hear me moan about, or mention that I have MS on social media. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to sometimes. It just means that the best way, the only way I have of dealing with MS, is to largely pretend I don’t have it. The things that people say, and sometimes how they have acted has done my head in (more than MS sometimes). And so, unfortunately – here is my starting point.

Sometimes, I think… if you love talking about MS so much, then why don’t you just marry it? (I am doing a massive eye roll now, and I know some of you are with me).

I use social media a lot because I write books I think you know what’s coming next… COVID-19 Coronavirus. Social media has proper done my head in today. Apart from the blamey posts about consumerism (made me feel like crap and I don’t buy owt anyway). And the countless toilet roll stories, I have also seen a few ‘low immune system’ posts. It is scary, scary times. I know we all have something to say, so do I…

NO ONE IS SPECIAL we are in this together. TODAY, 16th of March 2020, there is NO current advice for me and my MS diagnosis to stay indoors (the advice is the same as the next person unless you are on certain medications – see link above).

Sunday is Mother’s Day in the UK, and bless my 85-year-old dad he has messaged me asking if I’ll still be able to go to the meal he booked for my mum (because he’s such a sweet person). I said yes, as long as my sister doesn’t blow on her food ‘to cool it down’.

Now, if you are looking for some advice about Coronavirus and MS, then I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time. You’d be better off looking at the UK Gov. website HERE or, the MS society

More blog posts about living with MS (including one I have been asked to write for the physiotherapy service I use) coming as soon as I write them.

I would be interested to know if anyone thinks I should message my sister, to ask her not to blow on her food at the family meal on Sunday (she won’t read this blog).

Live your life, stay safe, stay well. Keep calm and carry on.

Sam xx

Samantha Henthorn is the author of the Curmudgeon Avenue series and other books.

978-1717745552 Curmudgeon Avenue Book TWoEdna and Genevieve (1)Add a heading (2)

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.

(!!!!!)

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Photo by jonas mohamadi on Pexels.com

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!)

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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 ACX.com or search Lindsay McKinnon on Linkedin. (Obviously, I want Lindsay to narrate the other books in the Curmudgeon Avenue series).

Samantha xx

978-1717745552

 

The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue Samantha Henthorn 4* #Review #CurmudgeonAvenue @SamanthaHfinds #RandomThingsTours @AnneCater #Ghosts #Humour #Family #home #RomCom #BlogTour #BookReview

When an advanced-league blogger and writer of her own romance novels joins in on your blog tour many thanks to Jane Hunt Writer and Anne Cater at RandomThingsTours for this!

#GuestPost Lizzie Lamb @lizzie_lamb What’s in a (Location)? #BurnsNight special. #IARTG

Thank you for joining me on Burns Night 2020 for a very special guest post from one of my favourite uplifting romance novelists LIZZIE LAMB

Location. Location. Location.

genius loci, the spirit of the place

Many thanks to Samantha for hosting me on her blog and giving me an opportunity to share my novels with you. Readers have told me that they love my descriptions of Scotland, Norfolk and Wisconsin. And, I must admit, a location is often the starting place for my novels and then the characters appear in my head, crowding in and demanding that I write down their story. I hope these examples make you want to read more. I’m going to kick off with the Scottish novels – but make sure you read Boot Camp Bride because Sam won a paperback copy in the prize draw for Deborah Miles’s #DecTheShelves promo on Twitter last month.

A heads up – each hyperlink takes you to the relevant Amazon page where you can – read a FREE extract in kindle/share/buy

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Girl in the Castle – journey across the loch and fall in love

Henri gazed out across the loch, shrouded in a shifting veil of low-lying mist. The castle appeared to float above it and the world beyond seemed unreal, until she spotted Lachlan piloting his boat towards Tèarmannair. His head and shoulders visible above the swirling fog. A heron skimmed over the shifting mist, its spindly limbs trailing behind it as it hunted for breakfast.

At night, it was easy to imagine the castle was a ship sailing untroubled across a wide ocean, the only light visible the beacon on the jetty at the far side of the loch.

Trees on the margin of the loch were reflected as a perfect mirror image of themselves, in ochre, vermillion and acid yellow. Pushing her reading glasses on top of her head, Henri focused on the middle distance where two small islands, topped by scrubby vegetation and gnarled trees bent over by the prevailing wind, gave perspective to the view. Beyond that, round, green hills rose towards the sky, and beyond them were craggy mountains with snow on the peaks.

Castle Stalker

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Scotch on the Rocks – travel to a Scottish island for fun, capers and romance

The Narrows were calm, reflecting the harbour cottages of Jamestoun on their glassy surface and making the fishing port seem twice as big as in reality. Issy loved the red tiled roofs, the whitewashed walls and the three-storey granite building which had formerly housed the local Customs and Excise. She could picture the old railway lines which dissected the cobbled road. Back in the day, when Jamestoun had been a thriving fishing port, langoustines were landed first thing in the morning, packed onto ice and sent down to London, via Oban, to grace the dinner plates in swanky hotels. Now the harbour was mostly filled with private yachts and the occasional fishing boat which took tourists out to the bird colonies in high summer. The brown hills beyond the harbour could look bleak in the winter, but today the sun warmed them, picking out the old fort (now almost covered in vegetation), built after the ’45 Rebellion to quell the unruly Scots.

The road swung inland where, in Victorian times, it had been blasted through a small mountain. ‘The Faerie Falls,’ Issy said, nodding towards it with her head towards a torrent of brown, peaty water cascading over rocks. ‘They say that the wee folk live behind its waters, but I’ve never seen them.’

Scotch on the Rocks

Tall, Dark and Kilted – Notting Hill Meets Monarch of the Glen

The music hit Fliss as she rounded the corner of Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill. The sugared almond pink and yellow houses almost vibrating in the late May evening as I Predict a Riot blasted out from an open window half way down the street.

From their vantage point, the mountains were hidden by trees and Fliss could see soft, rounded hills which swept all the way down to a large loch. The colours were dazzling; the green of the hills and trees, the blue sky reflected in the deeper blue of the loch and the ochre of the sandy beach which gave way to paler sand near a pebble path. The shoreline dipped in and out of the expanse of water and in the distance, at vanishing point, the opposing shores appeared to link hands, cutting the loch off from the sea.

And, way below them, nestled in the trees with a wide lawn leading down to the waters’ edge where it became a beach, sat TighnaLocha. Solid, ancient, a slice of Scottish history complete with white painted turrets and stepped gables, and with a look of permanency that said: ‘I’ve been here for a thousand years. Wha’ dares challenge me?’

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Boot Camp Bride – a hilarious laugh out loud marriage of convenience romance

Charlee glanced over the low hedges and dun-coloured fields stretching towards the salt marshes where the sea was a black line on the horizon. There was a stripped back beauty to the place and the flocks of birds heading for the feeding grounds down by the shoreline ensured the view was an ever-changing tapestry. Perhaps, here on the salt marsh, where the wind sighed through the reeds and stirred the dried pods of the alexanders, they could be honest with one another. Confront those feelings which had been simmering beneath the surface since the book launch. Playing his pretend fiancée wasn’t easy; the pretence was beginning to feel more real than the life Charlee had left behind

Camper Van BCB

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Take Me, I’m Yours – a small town romance full of love and passion

Closing the door behind her, India sank down on the padded window seat and, drawing her knees up, pulled a cushion towards her, hugging it for comfort. Resting her head back against the heavy shutters she looked out into a vermilion and gold sunset where islands and peninsulas jutted out into the bay. However, the beauty of the scene was lost. All she could think of was how different the sunset must look from MacFarlane’s beach hut, thousands of miles away. Cool air blew off the lake and through the open window, stirring the muslin draping her cast iron four poster bed. Getting up to wipe her eyes on the corner of her pashmina, she caught sight of herself in the cheval mirror. Backlit by the sunset, with filmy drapes billowing around her, she seemed as unsubstantial as a ghost. A mere shadow of her former self. Dark circles under her eyes, skin without its youthful luminescence, violet eyes huge in her pale face. How had this come to pass?

Wisconsin

 

I hope you have enjoyed these extracts and the photos which accompany them. If you’d like to learn more about me and my novels, do get in touch via the links at the end of this post.

Author bio with links –

After teaching her 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, Lizzie decided to pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), quickly followed by Boot Camp Bride. She went on to publish Scotch on the Rocks, which achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of appearing on Amazon and her next novel, Girl in the Castle, reached #3 in the Amazon charts. Lizzie is a founder member of indie publishing group – New Romantics Press, and has co-hosted author events at Aspinall, St Pancras and Waterstones, Kensington, talking about the research which underpins her novels. Lizzie latest romance Take Me, I’m Yours is set in Wisconsin, a part of the USA which she adores. This novel also achieved BEST SELLER status >travel>USA. She has further Scottish-themed romances planned and spends most of the summer touring the Scottish Highlands researching men in kilts. What’s not to like? As for the years she spent as a teacher, they haven’t quite gone to waste. She is building a reputation as a go-to speaker on indie publishing, and how to plan, write, and publish a debut novel. She is currently working on #6 – a road trip ‘movie’ where two warring guardians are forced to join forces and set off in hot pursuit after two runaway teenagers.  Lizzie lives in Leicestershire (UK) with her husband, David.

She loves to hear from readers, so do get in touch . . .

Lizzie’s Links

https://www.amazon.com/author/lizzielamb

www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter

lizzielambwriter@gmail.com

website: www.lizzielamb.co.uk

https://twitter.com/lizzie_lamb

Newsletter – http://tinyurl.com/ELNL-2016

Linked in: uk.linkedin.com/pub/lizzie-lamb/18/194/202/

Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/cbla48d

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lizzielamb/

LIZZIE LAMB NEW EMAIL SIGNATURE 300pxIMG_7639(Edited)Thank you so much Lizzie for appearing on my little blog. I am looking forward to reading your next book.

Join me in two weeks when Yawatta Hosby will be telling us how she chooses names for her horror novels.

Happy reading, 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

Waterstones

WHSmith

Amazon US

Trailer ^

 

WOW! 

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

 

Make Your Own Luck – tips for indie authors

Reblogging so I remember these words of wisdom

Lizzie Lamb - author

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As an indie author it’s important for word of my books to get out there. If I don’t go the extra mile to promote my novels, no one else will. So – how do I achieve this I hear you ask? 

I achieve this by accepting invitations to appear at book fairs, signings, author talks or library visits. I use these events to create blog posts and  promos which I disseminate via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and two retweeting groups I belong to. This could be viewed as casting my bread upon the water in the vain hope that the fish will bite. However, I find that getting my name out there in a variety of ways reaps dividends.

lizzie-lamb-new-email-signature-300pxHere are some of my top tips

There are many social media sites and they can be a real time suck, taking you away from your…

View original post 762 more words

What’s in a (Character) Name?

Hello and thank you for joining me for this month’s writerly rambling blog. This month, I would like to talk about names; namely, character names…

During my creative writing degree, we covered naming characters. My tutor last year was great, I can’t remember everything he said but he did advise that every character should have a name. Another point he made about naming characters would be that us writers can borrow place names such as Charlotte Bronte’s Mr Rochester. I do like that idea and I am going to use it, the Mr Rochester chap in my current book The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue is going to be called Grantham Horncastle. He doesn’t go by ‘Grantham’ though, he uses his middle name, Stuart. (But that’s by the by). And none of my characters are like Jane Eyre or Mr Rochester…

This year, we have to read Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd. Already, I can tell a lot about the two main characters from their names Gabriel Oak and Bathsheba Everdene.

I have had great fun naming the characters in my Curmudgeon Avenue series but how and why did I do it?

Sisters Edna and Edith. Well, I did have two great aunties called Edna and Edith. As with the books, both very different but by no means similar in any way to the characters in Curmudgeon Avenue. I realise that there are few Edna’s and Edith’s around ‘these days’ as was pointed out to me in a writing group, but at the same time I have been thrilled to see the name Edith used in two recent BBC programmes, Alison Steadman stars as Edith in Hold the Sunset and Jessica Hynes (who is my age) stars as Edith Lyons in Years and Years. 

Harold Goatshed. For me, his name just rolled off my tongue, his mother called him Harold, a royal name and in this instance, status costs nothing.

Mr and Mrs Payne. When thinking of a family name for the residents of Curmudgeon Avenue, I took my dog for a walk around the block. WP_20180909_18_57_21_Rich (1)

Here she is, my beautiful Border terrier, Martha (while we are on the subject of naming, Martha is a combination of my husband and my names). My husband usually walks her as it’s difficult for me. The block I walked her around is four houses and back again. I grew up where I live now and remembered when I was about 16/17 one of my friends dated a boy from one of these houses. What was his name though? For the life of me, I couldn’t remember. Myself and Martha returned home and I forgot all about this question until 3am when I woke up and remembered the surname PAYNE!*

*I did get a two-star review from someone whose surname is also Payne… I’m sorry if they took it personally, it’s just a name.

Wantha, Toonan and Patchouli Rose.

Their surname Rose is popular in Manchester – I imagine because of Lancashire,

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As for Patchouli, when I was a teenager, I used to enjoy hanging around in the ‘alternative’ scene’ in Manchester’s Affleck’s Palace. My life was full of music, metal, punks and indie kids. There was one particular shop that sold gypsey skirts and dreamcatcher earrings – all the rage in the early 90s. We called it a ‘hippy’ shop. It smelt of patchouli oil. Patchouli the character named her two wayward daughters Toonan and Wantha. I have a confession, neither names exist – when I wrote the characters I did not intend to keep these names but they stuck. Toonan and Wantha were actually how my little brother (now aged 40something) used to pronounce my sister and my names when he was little. In book number six of Curmudgeon Avenue, A Christmas at Curmudgeon Avenue. It will be revealed why the sisters were named so…

Genevieve Dubois

In book Three of the Curmudgeon Avenue series Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue Genevieve is revealed to be not everything that Edna Payne had thought she was. The name is a rather fanciful French-sounding name but where did I get it from? edna cover

At the time of writing, I had ‘no idea’ but I was recently reminded of something, that explains why coming up with a French-sounding name lay dormant in my mind…. The Darling Buds of May is being re-run on ITV3! 20190919_113108

The above is a photograph of the TV in my bedroom. I was reminded of the enchanting episode where the Larkin family visit France and meet Mademoiselle Du Pont … was this hidden away in my tiny mind what inspired me to write the character, Madame Genevieve Dubois? (Inspired, not copied Genevieve is nothing like the aforementioned French character).

 

When I wrote 1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire) I had flowers in mind again, Rose and Marigold and I admit to googling ‘popular names in the 60s’. This did leave me with an Elaine in the story – I have a friend called Elaine, she didn’t seem to mind.

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I know there are internet naming sites, but I have never used them. Instead, I turned to my friends on my Facebook author page and ran a little competition when I needed help naming a rival heavy metal band for one of my characters. This name The Dark Petals will appear in my forthcoming novel The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue.

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Just a note about names, always keen to hear a tale from my dad about his family, I was  pleased to hear about his uncles, Tom, Dick and Harry… see the picture below (My grandmother is the little girl seated and the moustachioed chap on the left is my great grandad, who obviously has passed his ‘naming’ sense of humour on to me). The boys in the photo are not just ‘any old Tom, Dick or Harry, they’re my great-uncles!)

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Thank you for reading this month’s writerly ramblings. Exciting news! Join me next month, I am going to ask around and find out if anyone wants to add a guest post to my blog to talk about character names in their own books. If you read this, and would like to join in, give me a shout via Facebook or Twitter.

Happy writing, Samantha xx

 

 

 

 

 

1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire)

To celebrate almost two years since the publication of my first full-length novel, it has had a bit of a polish, a new cover and the addition of a subtitle.

The book is a 20th century historical fiction about Ernest, who dreams of becoming the next cycling champion to hail from 1960s Lancashire. But his mother is petrified by the events in the news, will he win the race before the world blows up?

It is available to download here US  here UK

Here’s a snippet:

Later that same day, when the Sunday roast had been cleared away, and hours had passed with nothing to do and nothing to say. Ernest, his mother and Uncle Billy took the weekly bus journey to Auntie Marigold and Uncle Norman’s house.

     Marigold Bradshaw was always going to do well for herself in life. This was obvious on the Bradshaw family photograph, captured in sepia when Marigold was fourteen and Rose was nine. Marigold, imposing and impressive on the back row, shoulders straight, hair behaving itself, brand new dress. The centre of the photograph, the centre of attention, her proudly positioned head articulated ‘I plan to marry well’. Marigold stood above her little sister: Rose, who was perched upon a three-legged stool underneath Marigold. Head bowed, small and shy with her hair in her eyes, and a hand me down dress. Rose had no plan, but in life, received a surprise. Marigold pitied her little sister, but it was not her job to pass judgement; not on a Sunday.

Happy reading, Samantha xx