Finding the Right Name

After a lengthy time of thinking about it, much whining and pleading during the night with puppy dog eyes, we have some great news. A new little puppy girl has come to live at our house. I cannot find the connection to my writing path, but you never know, she might inspire me! Now to find the right name. I want to call her ‘Martha’ because MAR are the first three letters of my husband’s name, and THA are the last three letters of mine. Mark has reservations about shouting ‘Martha’ when out on a walk, but tells me he is happy to concede, however, I do like to think things through. I want the name to be chosen by us, and mean something to us. Further discussions have conjured the following names:  ‘Scout’, ‘Shelley’ ‘Bronte’ or ‘Fiver’ – I know he was a male rabbit, but I personally think he was written with feminine qualities.

Better not think too long about it, I have got my own way, again… Martha it is!imag0482 In my defense, it was Mark’s idea to get a puppy…

Happy New Year!  Samantha

A Grand Trip Out

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The other day, I played ‘truant’ from hydrotherapy, so that I could go out with my Dad. We were researching my book, set in the 1960s about a young boy’s cycling ambitions. We had a great time driving around the Pilsworth cycling course, which starts on Pilsworth Road near where Asda supermarket is now, and makes its way to Heywood, and then back again. Up and down hill, last week when the sun shone brightly, flickering through the trees. An adventure into my Dad’s memories of cycling. Before supermarkets and fast food chains, before motorways and traffic islands (in that area, anyway) So little traffic on the road, that a cycle race could get underway, and do a U-turn in the road!

I have reached the end of the story, my dad is now helping me edit and improve and the trip out was for an additional chapter.

I did not take any photographs, because I was too busy scribbling down my dad’s words. When we arrived back at my parent’s house I took both of them out for lunch. My mum had opted not to come with us on our journey into 1962. I hope she isn’t getting bored! I feel as though I have been writing it since 1962, which is odd, because I was not born until the mid-seventies…

I must not get thrown off course!

The Value of Joining a Writing Group

A Writer's Path

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by Kyle Massa

Just the other day, I finished a first draft of a piece I was working on and thought to myself, This is pretty darn good. I brought that piece to my writing group a week later, and after fifteen minutes of critiquing, I was reminded of this fact:

The first draft is never, ever good enough.

Little reminders like this are why writing groups are so valuable. Writing alone and never sharing anything with anyone works for some people, but if you want to write professionally, that’s not really an option. Somebody’s going to read your work, whether that be family members, beta readers, or your editor. And, as solitary as writing can be, sometimes it’s nice to get some outside input.

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I Went to Market, and I Bought…

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Prosecco… I didn’t really ‘go to market’ but I had to start somewhere. The other day, when I was doing the cleaning, I found myself remembering a conversation I had about Prosecco. I was at my brother-in-law’s barbeque, and one of his friends re-told me a story I had previously read myself on social media, about supplies of Prosecco running out. I cannot remember if this was last summer, or last year, or two years ago. But I do remember the widespread pandemonium, the fear that we were all going to run out of the fun sparkly white stuff … It made me want to stock up in the off licence immediately.

I do not know if there actually was a shortage. Social media failed to update the story, or if it did, ‘panic over’ tales do not get many likes. I think my mind has reminded me of this, because whatever the origins of the story, it was a great bit of marketing. (Not that Italian sparkly is short of fans) I have been reading about marketing recently. …

When I publish my short story collection next year ‘QUIRKY TALES TO MAKE YOUR DAY’ I will be looking for a good bit of marketing myself. Maybe I should pretend that my stories are in short supply, and that everyone should go out and read them immediately! … This would be false advertising though, my stories are plentiful, and two shorts that are going in the collection are tasters for novels that I have written.

I would love to know of any wacky marketing stories..

Happy writing,

Samantha

 

 

 

Black Friday

It’s all over the news and TV adverts again… it’s that time of year! After I wrote this poem, I thought that a ‘proper’ writer would have said something profound about Black Friday. The end of November craze that sweeps the nation, borrowed from our American cousins. Anyway, here is a poem I wrote two years ago… Enjoy!

 

I heard all about it on  the morning TV news

“People herding for discounted widescreens”

I should’ve queued up but just missed out

of forty percent off and a smack in the mouth

retail therapy with no right to return

all these shoppers had money to burn.

Chaos, greed, excitement is pulling me in

No where to park, getting pushed to the ground

people are looking as I can’t get around

made up  though, with  my big pile of loot

GHDs an iPhone and a new pair of boots.

I get on the web to spend, spend, spend.

Packages in the post

Fragile, please don’t bend

Champagne lifestyle and lemonade pockets

what of it?

There is steam coming off my credit card bill

they can’t hang me for it , I’ll leave it in my will.

I think I might be in a lot of debt

what did you buy then? Oh, I forget.

Samantha Henthorn 20142013-06-24-18-58-38

I Want to Tell You a Story

20141109_111002I have a childhood memory, which until recently has been hidden away in the recess of my mind. I would have been very small, not long out of the pram, unable to read yet. One day, we visited some distant relatives- my mum’s cousin’s daughter’s cousin (or something) There was another little girl, the same age as me. I picked up a book and ran after my little fifth cousin twice removed shouting :

I WANT TO TELL YOU A STORY!”

Unable to read, I remember deciding to make the story up as I went along and pretend that it was in the book. I didn’t even get to make the story up… Childhood memories are funny things, this one has stuck in my mind because of what followed,

I WANT TO TELL YOU A STORY!”

I shouted and screamed several (hundred) times. There were tears and tantrums, the other little girl simply did not want to listen… and she was crying too by now. My mummy and daddy, and all the other adults in the room were laughing at us. Picture the scene:

I WANT TO TELL YOU A STORY!” (me)

“NOOOOO!” (little girl)

Was this my first rejection?

This happened thirty-eight years ago. Today, I received a return through the post of a short story I wrote about hydrotherapy. I hope it didn’t make the editor cry! It is important not to look at returns as a straightforward ‘rejection’ they just didn’t want it for their magazine.

This is how I look at it : When you go clothes shopping, you can’t buy all the dresses in the shop, you have to ‘decline’ some of them. This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the remaining dresses, some of them simply won’t fit. I will now re-write this story in my own style for my short story collection.  I also received an e-mail today, to tell me that my ‘success story’ is going to be included in the Bury Adult Learning Prospectus for spring/summer 2017. Swings and roundabouts!

Happy writing, Samantha

American Elevator

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“It has been fifteen years, one month and ten days since we increased our security procedure” He repeated these numbers, adding to them every day.

Seemingly someone stupid has not observed the rules,  disregarded seriousness, resulting in a queue.

“If you can’t comply with these conditions, we cannot allow you access to our facility”

The length of the queue, the moment opportune.

“You know I don’t like heights!” She hissed, not a fan of skyscrapers, or steep inclines it’s true, she missed the point of the tourist attraction’s defences.

“You can’t leave me! It would look odd for a husband without his wife, with views to see, up high!”

She pleaded to stay downstairs, in amongst the tourists. The vast and tempting gift shop with far too much to choose. He disagreed quite righteously… insisting she accompany him, her vertigo denied.

As they shuffled through the metal detector arch, the officious security man’s mantra regarding the length of time “Fifteen years” and so on, dragged them further along the queue. Increased security, confidence undermined.  Lines, only humans form them, and only tourists would queue for an elevator, a fancy lift to nowhere. The perfect place for people watching peering eyes glancing, accusing:

“Who?”

Holidaymakers herded like cattle. Most with a companion, but one odd occasional tourist stands behind her. He is from Alaska, and reports:

“I don’t get out often” to anyone within earshot.  Odd occasional tourist makes eye contact, presumes she is alone.

“Tell me, are you visiting this attraction for business or pleasure?”

“Excuse me?”

“I said, are you here for business or pleasure?”

His question open ended, she swiftly closed with “NO!” The woman had never been so pleased to see her husband  return from the restroom. The odd occasional tourist had not expected romance quashed, dreams dashed. You see; elevators are great places to meet people, he had read that somewhere (someplace) It had been fifteen years since the odd occasional tourist had met anyone.

An attitude of teenage backpackers travelling no further than outside the U.S. over excited, peaking too soon, speaking too loudly, and reporting on pointless smartphone applications.

“Look, this one works out your ‘stripper name’ BLAH BLAH, BLAH, BLAH BLAH. I didn’t know that Bali is not part of India!”  Their nonsense lost towards the end of the line.

The security mantra softens in the distance, dollars exchanged for  tickets – reluctantly accepted. Feeling dizzy already at the sight of those lift doors, their dull shine, their promise of space fearfully anticipated, eagerly embraced, by her husband alone.

“Don’t look up, and do not look down!”

The elevator holds ten tourists, all of reasonable weight. The collective ten  play happy family for less than a moment. The 500ft takes forty-one seconds, except on days that are windy on which it takes longer, the brochure threatens. Her suspicion raised, the needle has stood for over fifty years – but does that make it safe? She buries her head in his chest, silently counts to forty-one, like an elongated game of hide and seek. The powerful rush, the strange sensation, the elevator catapults the tourists into the air with inexplicable physics.  Those forty-one seconds seemed twice as long. So worried, that she did not even notice the beautiful attendant, smartly dressed, skin like an Easter egg. But a middle-aged woman certainly did, along with her giggling counterpart.

“Well aren’t you somethin’ honey !” The woman did not blush from under her sun visor.

“The Space Needle was built in 1962, for the ‘World Fair'” The beautiful attended repeated, with little time for his speech.

“Do you enjoy your job?” The woman said, managing plenty of time to flirt.

“It has its ups and downs” He smirks with perfect teeth, and then it’s time to get out.

She is still buried in her husband, the flirting woman pushes past. She walks backwards out of the elevator, legs like jelly, stomach in her mouth. She is not the only one to be adversely affected, a sobbing, shaking middle-aged man is dragged out by his wife.

“I’ll just wait here, over by the door, where I feel safe, maybe sit on the floor,” She says. He looks dismayed, but leaves her there, not wishing to waste those dollars. He marks his visit on the map. He takes in the view, the expanse of water, miles and miles can be seen under miles and miles of cloud, are they mountains in the distance? After a couple of solitary self-portraits on the observation deck (saluted by the odd occasional tourist), It is time to rescue his wife, she is standing by the elevator, eyes firmly shut, head cradled in her hands.

“My brain is swimming, I feel so dizzy, It’s all your fault of course!”

They go back to the start, the same whooshing sound accompanies them to the ground. Reuniting with gravity, the best bit of the day for her. He is oblivious to the sensation, insisting on a T-shirt or at least a keychain to prove he ‘got her on that elevator!’

It feels like fifteen years since they visited Seattle.

They say it will get better, with therapy and graded exposure.  She will not engage, however, with confined spaces that have no way of escape. Her acute case of acrophobia, claustrophobia, stranger danger, husband blamed catastrophe.

Fifteen years, and still no official name for ‘fear of elevators’.

Samantha Henthorn © 2016

Part of my collection of short stories ‘QUIRKY TALES TO MAKE YOUR DAY’ soon to be self published on the self publishing machine, watch this space.