A Curmudgeonly Christmas

Every summer, I notice writers talking about their Christmas books on social media. A bit upside down, I thought. But last December, I brought Curmudgeon Avenue to a close with the final book in the series ‘A Curmudgeonly Christmas’. 

Curmudgeon Avenue has been going on for quite some time, some would say for longer than reasonably necessary… In this Curmudgeonly final, the nincompoops of Curmudgeon Avenue would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Gordon Bennett is obsessed with the pothole growth on the street as we get proper emosh at Wantha and Ricky’s wedding. But! Did Wantha ever get to find out who her daddy is?
Christmas is coming, and Francesca is getting fat meanwhile Zandra may have overdone it with the scented candles. And the ghosts are immune to any and all lockdown restrictions.

Put down the selection box and the sausage rolls, A Curmudgeonly Christmas is a perfect end to the Curmudgeon Avenue series and the year!


Don’t just take my word for it, I noticed a fabulous review has popped up for Curmudgeon Avenue #1 – my cheeks are hurting I’m smiling so much! 

If you are enjoying the most wonderful time of the year, maybe you would like to have a look at this Christmas book promotion : https://books.bookfunnel.com/christmasjuly21/p2re6562xn

Just a quick post from me this week because I’m doing my packing for our Christmas holiday... I mean summer holiday (in the UK).

Happy reading, Samantha.

Twenty Years Ago, I Had a Dream About John Lennon, and He Told Me Off

Photo by Golnar sabzpoush rashidi on Pexels.com

Actually, this happened slightly longer than twenty years ago because I remember the job I was in and who I spoke to about this vivid dream I had about John Lennon. He told me off and I was gutted.

I was born in the mid seventies, I missed the Beatles boat age wise. However they were still EVERYWHERE when I was growing up in the north of England (Manchester, not Liverpool). Mum always had Radio 2 tuned in before we set off for school, and I do remember John Lennon’s death in the news. I would have been five and a half years old. Old enough for a significant news event to stick in my head I suppose.

John Lennon 1969 (cropped).jpg

Here’s the dream, all I remember is that John Lennon told me off. He really shouted at me and I remember being gutted because John Lennon’s showbiz persona always seemed so friendly. I knew he had his causes but there was no need to give me a telling off.

YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING THIS (he meant my job), YOU SHOULD BE MAKING PEOPLE LAUGH.

I knew that John Lennon meant my job, because the dream was ‘set’ at my place of work at the time (I won’t lie, it was a stressful place to work in the care sector). I thought I was good at my job, and leaving my nursing career was not my choice. I eventually retired due to ill health (I have MS). At the time I had this dream, I was completely healthy. Yet here was the most famous and talented Liverpudlian ever to grace earth with his presence telling me I was in the wrong job.

The dream was so powerful that my mind was still blown when I turned up for work later that day (I was most probably on a nightshift, knowing my luck).

I told one of my colleagues that John Lennon told me off in a dream and she was very interested. ‘There’s a book about that,‘ she told me. Now, this was well before smartphones, so I couldn’t ‘Google it’ and the work colleague could not remember the name of the book, but she was convinced of its existence. She had read about it somewhere, or someone had told her about it. I know there is the magic of Facebook, but even if I was in touch with this person I wouldn’t ask ‘Do you remember a conversation we had over twenty years ago?’ I already sound potty.

The dream has stayed in my mind and I have been reminded of it every now and then (the Beatles are still everywhere). I haven’t managed to find a book about what it means to dream of John Lennon.

I did find a book on Amazon about John Lennon’s actual dreams – I think this means John Lennon’s ambition. It is an inspirational book for children, rather than what I am talking about.

John Lennon (Little People, BIG DREAMS Book 52) by [Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Octavia Bromell]
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08LR2DNHX/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

And if you search for ‘Dreams about John Lennon’ then loads of results come up about Paul McCartney. Apparently he regularly dreams about John Lennon (but does not get told off). That’s understandable, they were best song writing mates (and had actually met, not like me – some random fool).

Paul McCartney smiling

Photo from Wikipedia, Here is a link to one of the articles about Paul McCartney dreaming about John Lennon. https://www.nme.com/news/music/paul-mccartney-john-lennon-dreams-the-late-show-with-stephen-colbert-interview-the-beatles-2550940

This could potentially be a great idea for a book – if someone hasn’t already written it (so many books out there it is really hard to search).

What about John Lennon’s message, ‘I should be making people laugh?’

This could have been a weird psychic, intuitive glimpse into the future. At the time I had the dream, yes I loved reading but I had no idea that I would one day become writer (that’s not strictly true, I do remember telling my parents that I wanted to be an author, and wrote the word on a box then put a doll in the box. Who knows if I had just found the word ‘author’, but I like to think I meant it). I also said that I wanted to be a nurse. How accurate young Samantha was!

Twenty years later I have made a few readers smile with my Curmudgeon Avenue series. And some have actually laughed – they said so in a review!

I’m dying to know if anyone else has had a celebrity dream – especially one with a message. And especially a dream including a message from John Lennon!

Some time after the dream, but before this post I did see this John Lennon quote; I think this is his real message:

Happiness Is The Key To Life | John lennon quotes, Happy quotes, Words

(Actually, I saw this quote originally as ‘the teacher told me I didn’t understand the question’ – they don’t say ‘assignment’ in Liverpool 😉 ) Just be happy, innit?

Have a great weekend, Samantha 🙂

PS two of my books are listed in promotions at the moment. The final of Curmudgeon Avenue can be found in the Christmas Fun in the Summertime promo until the 31st of July 21. And ‘1962 (an uplifting tale of 1960s Lancashire) is part of the Soulful Reads promo, which runs until the 19th of July.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/~/e/B01M4LPH9U

Christmas in July and a Book Review

For the past few years I have noticed authors talking about their Christmas books during the summer months. At the time, I felt a bit left out but this year everything has changed because Curmudgeon Avenue ended last Christmas with A Curmudgeonly Christmas. I am pleased to say has joined this book promotion : https://books.bookfunnel.com/christmasjuly21/p2re6562xn which runs until the end of July.

THE ONE WHERE IT’S THE CURMUDGEONLY FINAL

It’s Christmas during pandemic and for a change, it’s fun. (US reader)

A Curmudgeonly Christmas wraps up this delightfully funny series with two weddings and a final farewell for one much-loved, prominent character and two others who I thought deserved it! (Against the Flow Press)

Curmudgeon Avenue has been going on for quite some time, some would say for longer than reasonably necessary… In this Curmudgeonly final, the nincompoops of Curmudgeon Avenue would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Gordon Bennett is obsessed with the pothole growth on the street as we get proper emosh at Wantha and Ricky’s wedding. But! Did Wantha ever get to find out who her daddy is?
Christmas is coming, and Francesca is getting fat meanwhile Zandra may have overdone it with the scented candles. And the ghosts are immune to any and all lockdown restrictions.

Put down the selection box and the sausage rolls, A Curmudgeonly Christmas is a perfect end to the Curmudgeon Avenue series and the year!

Photo by Ena Marinkovic on Pexels.com

Although all the books are set at Christmas, they all have very different vibes. Of course, I have sampled one of them Christmas at Mistletoe Ridge by Angie Ellington – It’s very Christmassy!

Christmas at Mistletoe Ridge by Angie Ellington

Deals require negotiations, but for Cole Stevens, this could be the riskiest deal of his lifetime. Holland Jenkins has been disappointed so often that she questions her purpose and her talent as an artist. The cabins she helps lease for her family is the one constant in her life. Birch Falls’ small town peppermint festival is quickly approaching. As Holland is preparing ornaments for her booth, she’s in search of inspiration, even if she won’t admit it.

Cole has a deal to close, and after a little unexpected change in route, he decides to rent a cabin at Mistletoe Ridge. He finds himself falling for the charming small town, and also falling for Holland, which wasn’t part of the plan.Holland doesn’t know about her grandparents’ plans to sell Mistletoe Ridge, and although they think they are doing it for the right reasons, keeping it a secret has all involved reconsidering.

Perhaps, a dash of ginger, a sprinkle of sugar, and a little magic can make their Christmas wishes come true.
Includes a recipe for Chicken Parmesan

My little 5* review:

Lovely, heartwarming and cute!
I didn’t know that you could wish on mistletoe – I do love lucky themes.
This is the story of a start of a romance, Holland the artist and Cole the businessman including warm drinks, stone fireplaces and mild tension in the plot. Will this Christmas romance melt in January’s thaw?
Apart from making decorative ornaments, Holland works renting cabins at her family’s business in the close-knit town, Birch Falls. Cole (attractive name) comes to stay for three days before Christmas does he have an ulterior motive? It doesn’t matter if he does because everyone in Birch Falls knows Holland and has a bit of Christmassy-life-wisdom to share with Cole on his way around the village.
Also, there is a recipe at the end of the book for chicken parmesan which made me smile.

The above image is proof that during July, Father Christmas encourages reading time. https://books.bookfunnel.com/christmasjuly21/p2re6562xn

Don’t overdo it on Sunday (if you are watching the football). Happy reading, Samantha x

The Soulful Reads Book Promotion

Hi Everyone,

What a great title for a book promotion! The tagline reads ‘Enjoy books that will touch your heart and mind.’ So I was attracted to this as a reader (and an author). https://books.bookfunnel.com/soulfulreads/t6p3xc0jiz

Those of you that joined me in the middle of June will know that my book ‘1962, A Nostalgic Tale of 1960s Lancashire’ is lucky enough to be part of this promotion, which runs until the 19th of July 21.

I’ve read one of the books so far, ‘The Woman Who Lost Her Love’ by Jo Lobato. I thought this was a beautiful story and like the promotion promised it did touch my heart and mind.

The Woman Who Lost Her Love by Jo Lobato

The story is about a woman called Diane who sets off with her husband, David on a holiday to Australia. But as the story unfolds, Diane’s holiday turns into a different journey to the one she expected.

Photo by Sheila on Pexels.com

Here’s what the blurb says:

The Woman Who Lost Her Love: the life-affirming book of the spring!

A heart-warming and uplifting story of a single woman on an emotional journey of rediscovery. Perfect for fans of Mike Gayle, Gail Honeyman and Sarah Haywood.

Meet Diane, a woman in her fifties who’s lost her creativity and love of art. When her husband abandons her en route to their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary in Australia, she is forced to confront the reason he’s left, the prickly woman she has become and the secrets she’s hiding.

As Diane uncovers the passions and creativity she’s been stifling, and meets characters mysteriously connected to her past, will she manage to keep her carefully curated persona in check?

And what is the heartbreaking truth from which she’s desperately trying to flee?

A page-turning holiday read, this emotional popular women’s fiction will have you rooting for single woman Diane to find her inner strength. A book that’s both heartbreaking and heart-warming, about the power of female friendship and the importance of holding onto the passions that make us unique.

“UPLIFTING, LIFE-AFFIRMING, REDEMPTIVE.” Debi Alper.

“‘EAT, PRAY, LOVE’ MEETS ‘THE MAN WHO DIDN’T CALL’ IN THIS BRILLIANT BOOK.” Goodreads Review

And here’s my little review (five stars)

Brilliant! Diane heads out on holiday to Australia with her husband, David. Except, David is the type to choose Diane’s clothes (the horror!), and he has something to say about her hairdo. Then… as the blurb says, David abandons Diane on the plane. With no husband and no luggage (imagine), Diane has no choice but to continue a journey. Don’t worry, the women in Diane’s life back in England (book club friends and sister) are in her head telling her what to do and how to behave. Then there is her daughter, Bertie, who Diane continually emails and imagines what she would think of her Australian adventures. Diane’s transformation is truly uplifting, and as the plot unfolds, you’ll need something to wipe your tears away with.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

Don’t forget the promotion link to help you find the book : https://books.bookfunnel.com/soulfulreads/t6p3xc0jiz

Here are some more covers from the promotion (but the best thing to do is click on the link to see the books)

Soul Deep by Angela Kay Austin
1960: My Black Skin by Angela Kay Austin
A Journal of Cosmic Memories: The Dimension of Trees by Ben Benyamin
The Sun Rose in Paris: Portraits in Blue - Book One by Penny Fields-Schneider
Friend of My Enemy by Raven Banks
The Valley of the Dogs, Dark Stories by James Musgrave

Coming next… I will probably write one of my mini-drama posts there is always plenty going on in my sit-com life. AND Curmudgeon Avenue has just joined a Christmas book promotion, in JULY! Click here for Christmas books: https://books.bookfunnel.com/christmasjuly21/p2re6562xn

Happy reading everyone, see you soon, Samantha 🙂

PS: I wrote the Curmudgeon Avenue series

Daft Things Folk Have Said to me Since I have Been Writing.

We all say silly things from time to time, but saying daft things to a writer is a favourite subject of mine. My husband told me I MUST start my own YouTube channel (I didn’t) but when I had a nosy, I found an author talking about the things that people have said that really irritated her. She seemed really angry (this was some years ago, I don’t know if the film is still there).

The red writing is my response (which, yes, I should have said at the time but meh).

  1. ‘I don’t like dystopian books – I only read science fiction’.

Err…

Star Trek Picard Writer Blames Patrick Stewart For The Dark Tone & Dystopia  : Star_Trek

2 ‘Hmm a five star review for your first book? I bet she gives everything five stars.’

Me: That’s a horrible thing to say to an author.

3. ‘It’s you, isn’t it?’

No, ‘it’s’ not me, it is a fictional character that I invented. Think about it, Stephen King is not a teenage girl is he?

4.’ Are you still writing your ‘book’ ?’

Yes I am, this one will be my eleventh book.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

5. Similarly ‘Oh, you’re an AUTHOR‘ (sing-song voice)

Me; ‘Oh you’re a (insert occupation here)’ ~ actually, the person who said this to me is not a builder/plasterer/decorator, the photo made me smile.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

6. ‘My friend is dying to meet you – he wants to be a writer.’

Meets friend, friend says nowt. (I’m not going to steal your book ideas!)

William Shakespeare - Quotes, Plays & Wife - Biography

7. ‘I’ll definitely write you a review.’

That old chestnut.

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

8. ‘I can’t see what’s being satirised (in a review)’

Me: let’s just check with the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms by Dr Baldick shall we? Satire: A mode of writing that exposes the failings of individuals, institutions, or societies to ridicule and scorn. (Oxford University Press, 2015). That sounds EXACTLY like my six part series, ‘Curmudgeon Avenue’ .

9. ‘What do they call a six-part-series? Me ‘A six-part-series’. There ensued a long conversation ‘Is it a sextuplet? Is it a hexagon?

Me ‘NO IT’S A SIX-PART SERIES. IN LITERATURE IT’S A SIX-PART-SERIES!’ No one listens, but they do all look at me like I’m stupid (despite my 10 published books and creative writing degree).

Photo by Olenka Sergienko on Pexels.com

10. Who published you? Because my mum has written her life story and… (long story here about someone’s mum writing a book).

Me: This was obviously someone trying to find out if I’m self published or not. I am – I’m proud to be an indie author and I wouldn’t have it any other way. (I don’t know why, but I feel I have to add that I have been editorially selected when I had a short story published in a magazine).

11. And here is the most popular one: I would write a book if I had the time

Me: What’s stopping you?

Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. on Pexels.com

(When I published my novel ‘1962’) You can’t possibly have been alive in 1962! How can you write a book set in 1962!

Me: correct – I was born in 1975. Hilary Mantel was not alive during Queen Elizabeth I times either.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Thank you for reading today’s blog. Please share your experiences of daft things that people have said to you since you have been a writer. I may seem a little curmudgeonly today – no doubt I will think of something else I should have included in this blog/someone is about to say something daft after I have published.

Have a great weekend and here are my curmudgeonly books:

Samantha 🙂 https://www.amazon.co.uk/~/e/B01M4LPH9U

Poems From the Vault #2

Hi Everyone,

As promised, I have looked for (and found) poems that I wrote ages ago. Last week was poems from my Creative Writing module, this week one poem that I wrote at the library course I did and one reworking of an old poem that was submitted for my degree.

Eyeliner

The hallway frames the front door of my home.

Guarding me from well-wishers, I need to be alone.

Seasons, styles or Saturdays, there is always eyeliner,

bold black wings from cut price to designer.

I woke the other day, robbed of my right hand

sudden stolen senses, are hard to understand.

War paint frames my face, I’m ready for the world.

Without eyeliner,  I look a different girl.

Blurred vision, a thousand texts becoming unbearable.

In her best posh voice, she tells me I ‘look terrible’

Healing, time and patience all falls into place

I’m faking being well, with eyeliner on my face.

Samantha Henthorn © 2015

photo of venus eyeliner pencil set
Photo by ud835udc15ud835udc1eud835udc27ud835udc2eud835udc2c ud835udc07ud835udc03 ud835udc0cud835udc1aud835udc24ud835udc1e- ud835udc2eud835udc29 & ud835udc0fud835udc1eud835udc2bud835udc1fud835udc2eud835udc26ud835udc1e on Pexels.com

I’m sorry I didn’t come to your funeral.

The long-distance made it impossible.

Your sister’s phone call echoed strangely,

reminding me of you – I almost knew.

I’m sorry I didn’t go to your funeral. 

Happy days and happy memories,

time dissolved the Christmas card list.

Robins, feathers, bereavement tokens,

I wonder if you know the reason;

how sorry I am I didn’t go to your funeral.  

I don’t know why the above has come out in small writing- I copy/pasted it from a word document.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Samantha xx

I wrote these books! https://t.co/aqJFqYlGWl?a

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Poems From the Vault.

Enough time has passed since the end of my creative writing module so that I can publish some of my degree poems – even though I’m not a poet.

No Through Road

British summertime, always fine in the mid-1980s.

We dragged our feet for miles in the sweltering heat-

a family day out for a Guardian reader.

Not much fun for us, at seven, eight and fifteen.

We halted at a shut gate, obscured by a house.

A dead-end, no through road, my Mum was vexed.

Dad’s rambling book past its sell-by date.

 

A girl sits behind glass like a Pink and Pretty Barbie.

A privileged reflection, same blue eyes, same blond hair,

different opportunities – but at least I was outside.

I smiled and waved at her but she just stared at me,

looking down her nose at my catalogue clothes.

That scene has disappeared now, of

British village life, beauty and dead ends.

A glimpse of the ideal; the grass that’s always greener.

Pink and Pretty Barbie, how did your life turn out?

closed green wooden gate
Photo by Athena on Pexels.com

 

Drama in Pyjamas

 

Remember those insomnia filled nights?

Always something on my mind.

You held me close in cotton, naked

thighs would conspire without you.

My night time leg protectors,

now too old to be any use.

 

Your waistband is frayed and too tight anyway.

Holes in the ankles from when the dog was small.

A bleach-splash stain that sort of blended in.

I hear leopard print is in fashion again.

A favourite since the first time round,

with your never changing spots.

 

Sleeping in pyjamas

became housework in pyjamas,

graduated to gardening in pyjamas.

I almost went shopping

(that’s why I need a new pair).

 

We had some good times,

but now I don’t fit you

and you do not fit me;

tricky to choose something new.

Questioning attachments and familiarity.

Intimate to an unwelcome degree.

Drama in pyjamas please let go of me.

woman feet legs girl
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

As you may know, I am studying for a BA in Creative Writing. This is taking ages because I am doing it part-time (got to pace myself!)

Here is a photo of me pacing myself (not).

person laying on sand
Photo by Rebeca Gonu00e7alves on Pexels.com

More poetry next week (if I haven’t deleted them)

Happy Wednesday, Samantha xx

I wrote these books! https://t.co/aqJFqYlGWl?amp=1

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Herding Behaviour (why are we obsessed with reviews?)

Why are we so obsessed with book reviews?

Reviews, reviews, reviews. 

That is all you’ll ever hear an indie author talk about.

Have we got enough reviews for our book?

How many reviews are enough reviews?

Do people actually read reviews when choosing a new book?

THE MIND BOGGLES

This post is not about answering how we get reviews – if I knew that, I wouldn’t be writing this would I?*

*(You could try engaging with Goodreads advice groups or maybe employ a blog tour organiser).

person holding white and brown newspaper
Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

A Good Friend of mine is a top marketing executive. She doesn’t have time to read because of her (very cute) toddler son. We have been friends for years and years, even before I started writing. She lives in the south of England now so when we actually see one another we have loads to talk about. Not usually work.

ANYWAY last year, before all this lockdown business, when we met up, I asked her for some tips on marketing my books.

She didn’t even blink, ‘GET REVIEWS.’ My friend said.

Although she added the caveat that she doesn’t work in book publishing I do value her opinion. I think she is right.

I have been thinking about nothing but reviews since I became an independent author in 2016. Slight exaggeration, I do think about other things but you get the picture.

However…

Reading is a very individual thing.

What I like to read is not the same as what someone else would like to read. We have all read books and raved about them to our friends and been shot down with an ‘Oh I didn’t like it.’

Do not get me started on book clubs…

So why are reviews so important?

Human behaviour has a lot to do with this. Herding behaviour… (now you are all imagining livestock being rounded up aren’t you?)

two cows
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

“Moooo… I heard Samantha Henthorn has a new book coming out later this year. Moo.”

“I heard she’s pants, her last release has only got five ratings. Moooooo.”

HERDING BEHAVIOUR IS A THING – GOOGLE IT

If my friends, the cows start moving in one direction then, as a rule of thumb all the other animals will follow. They will follow without direction. This is the same thing that happens to humans. This is why fashions and fads take hold. Rightly or wrongly, if a few people are doing something then us humans will follow.

Without direction, humans will all read the same book. Because everyone else has read it. And how do they know that? Because the book has got lots of reviews. Good or bad, if lots of people have left a review, then the book must be worth reading. Right?

A few years ago, I decided I didn’t want to be a cow anymore. I felt I was being tricked. I had been tricked, at one time, I only read what everyone else was reading. So I started reading a lot of books by independent authors. But before this…

One of the first books I read when my daughter reached the age I was allowed to properly start reading again was The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audre Niffenegger. A really famous book, I read it in 2004 before the film and everything. I was still working at the time and lent it to one of my work colleagues. This person never returned books that others had lent her, so imagine my surprise (and tetchiness) when she presented me with MY copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife and told me that I HAD to read it. (Even though I was the one who recommended it to her in the first place!)

Front cover of book showing young girl from the waist down in knee socks and Mary Janes and empty brown Oxfords next to her on a picnic blanket.

THAT IS WHAT I MEAN BY HERDING BEHAVIOUR

When I think back, two incidents involving shops convinced me of herding behaviour. When I was a teenager I had a Saturday job in Manchester Arndale. The shop I worked in sold costume jewellery and hair scrunchies (it was the 90s). One day, a big box arrived with ‘sale items’. It was a massive box of hairbands. These hairbands were dropped into another big box complete with price sticker and positioned right at the front of the shop. A couple of hours later, none of the hairbands had sold. The shop manager had a great idea. (!)

She instructed me to put my coat on (cleverly hiding my uniform) and pretend to be a customer, rooting through the box of hairbands. ‘Try a few on’ she had said. I was very embarrassed but it worked! I didn’t even have to try any of the things on my head, customers started coming over to see what I was looking at. Soon a crowd gathered and for half an afternoon in early nineties Manchester, a trend was set on the wearing of headbands.

two pink rose flower accent headbands on white surface
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

The second shop related herding incident was another embarrassing incident for me. Even before I was diagnosed with MS, I had trouble with blurred vision – triggered by bright neon lights in my case. Not long after I had been diagnosed (and suffered a few relapses of optic neuritis) I went to Sri Lanka for a friend’s wedding. (A different friend to the one mentioned earlier). This was in 2008. One day during the holiday, my friend (who had visited Sri Lanka many times) suggested we all visit a department store. I really wish I could remember the name of this massive store that sold everything, but I can’t. We were tourists and had money to spend.

At some point, I was separated from my friends but some embroidered cushion covers had caught my eye. I thought oh I had better pay for these before I go to the next floor to look for my friends. WELL, a combination of jet-lag tiredness, panic and neon light-induced eyesight problems landed me in front of what I thought was a service point. The shop assistant will probably come back when she sees me standing here at the till. I thought…

It was probably only a few moments but by the time I realised that I was not waiting in a queue to pay… an actual queue had formed around me.

I am so embarrassed and I didn’t even know how to say sorry. I had accidentally lured a crowd of people to look at a pile of pillowcases.

Shame I can’t do that with books…

Even when I thought I was being tricked and decided not to read the ‘BOOKS THAT EVERYONE IS READING’ I still don’t know what influenced me to read the books I have over the past few years. Do any of us really choose anything for ourselves? Do we follow each other? I just know that there are more books out there than the popular ones. Although… it is good to have read a book and be able to have a conversation about it with someone else…

‘Famous’ books I have read recently are The Testaments by Margaret Atwood The Testaments: WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE 2019 (The Handmaid’s Tale)

And My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.

My Sister, the Serial Killer: The Sunday Times Bestseller

These books have nearly TEN THOUSAND  reviews between them on Amazon (at the time I wrote this post). If you would like to see books I have read recently, check out my Goodreads widget at the bottom of my blog page or click HERE

 

Thank you for joining me on my post about why I think book reviews work. If you have enjoyed reading a book recently, don’t forget to review it.

Happy reading, and stay safe,

Samantha xx

I wrote these books !

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A Thank You and a Special Announcement For my Final What’s in a (Character) Name Guest Post Slot

Hello there,

During the previous module of my Creative Writing degree, I learnt about the importance of naming your characters. Naming all of your characters avoids confusion for your reader. You wouldn’t want to read a book that had too many ‘he’s’ in, would you.?

This degree is part-time and has a while to go yet. This year I learnt the opposite of the above naming advice because this year’s module was about fairy tales. With lots of stock characters the sister, the carpenter and the step-mother.

With all these theories floating about, last year I had an idea to ask some of my fellow indie authors what’s in a character name? I would like to thank you all today, and after I have posted some pictures of my guest posters I have a really special announcement about next week’s final ‘What’s in a (Character) Name’ guest post.

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51wKrNmupRL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_One By One by [Hosby, Yawatta]1561630467184c1e82edfdd2145ac67b171da1b202

91g3HS7c2pL._AC_UY218_ML3_9780993073700Jessica Redland - The Secret To Happiness

The Hive: A dark, spine-chilling thriller to keep you turning pages Kindle Edition

 

Wow! That was a lot of books and a lot of words! Thank you once again for joining me on my writerly rambling posts. I have been honoured to include my indie author colleagues.

Now for my special announcement. 

I don’t know any of my dad’s family but I grew up knowing of them. Dad had a cousin who used to write books, her pen name was Jane Hope and her most famous book was called ‘Don’t Do It! : a Complete Guide To Teaching’.

When I had to give up nursing for health reasons, I started writing. I asked Dad about my childhood memory of his cousin, the famous author. Imagine my surprise when he told me that ‘She wasn’t famous‘ (!) Well, to dampen my disappointment, my dad gave me a book written by another cousin but this was not a book for public consumption; it was a family book that his cousin had written after researching the family history.

Dad let me borrow the book and I was astonished to find out that I have a cousin who ACTUALLY IS A FAMOUS AUTHOR.  ‘I knew it!’ I said to myself, creative genes are coursing through my veins!  My (second) cousin is Booker prize shortlisted author Christopher Wilson I read all of his books straight away. They are awesome. I think my favourite is The Ballad of Lee Cotton No! Wait! My favourite book by Christopher Wilson is Blueglass…. no, no it’s Zoo

Ah they are all brilliant, I can’t wait until next Wednesday when I share with you my very last guest post about character names written by Christopher Wilson  (did I mention he’s my cousin?) Christopher’s post is awesome – please join me!

Happy reading, thanks again to the guest posters and stay safe, Samantha xx

What’s in a (Character) Name? Raintown by Andy Donaldson @AndyRainTown #GuestPost #IARTG

Thank you for joining me today on my fortnightly writerly rambling post. Last year, I was lucky enough to take part in the #DecTheShelves challenge on Twitter (organised by advanced league blogger and writer Deborah J Miles at Against The Flow Press https://againsttheflowpress.blogspot.com/ Raintown by Andy Donaldson was one of the featured books, written for age 9-14 I gifted three copies to some of my friends’ children.

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Set in a rainy town just like Ramsbottom up the road from me in Brandlesholme (near Bury) Andy Donaldson came up with a name for a fictional rainy town – Shigbeth 

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Thanks, Andy for your guest post:

What’s in a (character) name?

As ‘Rain Town’ is a book for children aimed at Middle Grade to Young adults, the names of the characters need to ‘work.’ By that I mean, they needed to be simple, relatable and fit the genre which in this story is comic, ordinary and in some ways slightly nostalgic. The story is set in an average, North of England type, rainy, brick terrace small town and so the names of the characters needed to match. Sidney and Stanley, Billy and Bobby Bathurst, Charlie and Chloe et al were chosen because they just seemed to naturally fit this premise. There wasn’t much thought that went into it. The names matched the personalities and the imagined environment. Good guys like Stanley Rain and Charlie Green have warm, short names perhaps with nods to the occupants of childhood comics from the Eighties like ‘Roy of the Rovers’ and ‘Whizzer & Chips.’ Nigel Greenstock became the villain because to me the name seems to match the sort of character who is a bit slimy and ‘up to no good.’ It works well for a certain Mr Farage so why not here in the town of Shigbeth?

At the heart of the book is Sidney Rain, part time Dad, delivery driver and superhero crime fighter inthe form of his alter-ego ‘The Raven.’ ‘Sid’ just seemed to work with the character perfectly. Slightly dim, down to earth, a touch industrial and rugged with a hint of the hapless and comic. Underneath this ordinary exterior is a heart of gold; a man who just wants to do his best by his son and his few friends. However, there is also a bit of a subconscious reason for giving him the name Sidney. My Grandad was Sidney Charles Cousins and although I didn’t have him expressly in mind when I started out on the book, there are elements of him that have emerged in the character Sidney Rain. The real life Sid was also at first glance a pretty normal and unremarkable man. He was someone who was very definitely grounded with very few ‘airs and graces.’ He fixed planes during the war and eventually at airports once the post war period developed. Highly skilled but manual labour,a bit old-fashioned, uneducated at least academically and not exactly politically correct. I still remember him standing at the top of the stairs outside the bathroom first thing in the morning in his string vest and pyjama bottoms, mug of tea in hand, smelling of ‘brylcream’, shaving foam and ‘Old Spice’ aftershave. Underneath all that was a man who had spent his life just wanting to do his best by his friends, family and his grandchildren. Like the Sidney in the story, a man who didn’t need a cape, a mask and boots to be a hero.

No longer with us, I would like to think that somewhere Grandad Sidney is in his favourite chair, reading about the adventures of Sidney Rain, chuckling along, with a massive mug of tea on the go.

Andy DonaldsonAnd Donaldson Author

Teacher by day, Writer by night.

Author of ‘Rain Town’. The next one in the series has just been finished too…

You can find me on Twitter @AndyRainTown.

Andy Donaldson’s Amazon page

Buy a paperback copy of Raintown here
‘Is there anyone there?’ he tentatively enquired at the shadows. There was no response. Must have been a cat he thought. His pulse calmed and he wiped the sweat from his brow. The young thief turned away from the alley and the road and once more urged his feet to move on. ‘What are you doing little boy?’ commanded a booming voice from the alleyway.

Sidney Rain is an ordinary man with an ordinary job in an ordinary town. Except for the fact that sometimes at night he dresses up as a superhero and heads out living his fantasy. But he’s putting on weight, about to lose his job and he’s generally not feeling particularly super at all.

Stanley Rain is Sidney’s 12 year old son. He’s an ordinary boy with ordinary friends at an ordinary school. But that school is being taken over by a local entrepreneur and is changing for the worst. And Stanley is not going to let that happen without a fight.

When a mysterious theft takes place, Stanley and his friends will need to turn detective to help save their school. And after being fired at work by his new boss, Sidney will need his friends to help save his soul.

 

Thank you so much Andy for writing a fab book I was able to gift to my fab friend’s boys from Ramsbottom.

Join me next time when Sharon Booth tells us about her character names – it’s gonna be awesome!

Happy reading, Samantha xx