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).

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Photo by Rebeca Gonu00e7alves on Pexels.com

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

Happy Wednesday, Samantha xx

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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).

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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 

Image result for shigbeth

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

 

A Touch of #History For You ~ Sharing #BookReviews for 1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire) @BookFunnel Promotion

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One of my books 1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire) is participating in a Book Funnel Promotion There are some really great books on offer (I have read three now) so, if you enjoy novels written with a historical flair, then have a look at the offer and see if there is anything you fancy.

Let me show you a few of the covers and blurb before I tell you about my book.

Rosemary for Remembrance by Nikki Broadwell

Rosemary and Dylan have grown apart since his return from WW2 and prison camp. But when memories from a bygone era begin to haunt them, they are drawn together to discover the source. The key could be the locket that Dylan found in an antique store that bears Rosemary’s initials. ‘Together Forever’ are the words inscribed there, and somehow the daguerreotype portraits seem familiar.

Can the mysteries of the past have an effect on the present? Find out in this gripping tale of love, loss, and secrets revealed.

Based on the wartime diaries of the author’s father.

Click here for details of how to buy this book (it’s on offer)

Book Cover

Abducted as children.

Sold into new lives…

Brother and sister struggle…

Nat is a slave. Ziva is a beloved daughter, purchased to replace a lost child. Her despicable master lusts for her. Her rejection sets off a devastating chain of events that could send Nat to the mines and ruin her adopted father.

Can they avoid the trap?

Will Ziva escape the clutches of the wicked master?

First in the series, Lost Children of the Prophet tells an ancient tale set in the earliest biblical times, following events in Ancient Matriarchs book three. Follow the danger and intrigue of a brother and sister who fight for each other. Available on Kindle Unlimited.

Get it now

A Ring of Truth by Michelle Cox

In this SECOND book of the series, Henrietta and Clive delightfully rewrite Pride and Prejudice—with a hint of mystery!

Newly engaged, Clive and Henrietta now begin the difficult task of meeting each other’s family. “Difficult” because Clive has neglected to tell Henrietta that he is in fact the heir to the Howard estate and fortune, and Henrietta has just discovered that her mother has been hiding secrets about her past as well. When Clive brings Henrietta to the family estate to meet his parents, they are less than enthused about his impoverished intended. Left alone in this extravagant new world when Clive returns to the city, Henrietta finds herself more at home with the servants than his family, much to the disapproval of Mrs. Howard—and soon gets caught up in the disappearance of an elderly servant’s ring, not realizing that in doing so she has become part of a bigger, darker plot.

As Clive and Henrietta attempt to discover the truth in the two very different worlds unraveling around them, they both begin to wonder: Are they meant for each other after all?

Buy it here

1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire) by Samantha Henthorn

‘A warm, humane, affectionate, finely-observed tale of a teenage boy, his family, friends and Lancastrian community, set in the sixties against the chilling backdrop of the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis’ – Kindle customer.

‘1962 has a playful concept that places one young boy’s dreams in a troubling time. There is a sense of fun with Ernest’s unstoppable optimism.’ Rocliffe

Ernest Bradshaw lives in a two up two down with his mother, Rose and Uncle Billy. They go to church every Sunday, along with most other people in the village. While Rose is praying for peace, Ernest is hoping for two things; that he can run away from the school bullies, and that his mother doesn’t notice the hole in his sock. Ernest’s Auntie Marigold and Uncle Norman live in a bay-fronted detached house, and despite their seemingly perfect life, they too have seen the news and are petrified about events thousands of miles away in Cuba.
With school teachers getting carried away about the Cuban Missile Crisis and Rose having a mini-drama at work, Uncle Norman steps in to solve problems at home and introduces Ernest to a cycling club he has seen advertised in Bolton. Here Ernest meets Christopher and Janet, his new friends, and Mr and Mrs Towers – club leaders. Can Ernest get enough money together to buy himself a racing cycle and win a cycling trophy before the world ends?
An uplifting, heartwarming coming of age, family story with all the nostalgia and charm of 1960s Lancashire.

Get it here

Here are some reviews for 1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire) :

A thoughtful, engaging insight into the world of a 15 year old boy and his cycling ambition. I couldn’t put it down as I was introduced to a wonderful array of characters. Such a unique read. Clever and quirky. Look forward to reading more from this author.

This story carries the echoes of the era that seem quite prescient for today.

A warm, humane, affectionate, finely-observed tale of a teenage boy, his family, friends and Lancastrian community, set in the sixties against the chill backdrop of the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis.

Light and gentle, this is a nostalgic book that doesn’t worry too much about tense action or vivid drama, but instead relies on the reader’s desire to be swept back in time to a real place. I found this book easy to read, if a little slow, but kind of like a really comfortable old sweater: warm, cozy, a little out of date, but just what you need to escape real-world brutalism. A decent novel!

After the Clarion Palmer Trophy May 1953

^ My dad is holding the bicycle in this photo – he inspired me to write the book and gave me the 1960s research.

 

 

 

#BookReview #WizardRing by Clare Blanchard @CBcrime @BookFunnel A Touch of History #IARTG

WELL! Hello everyone, I have just finished reading yet another book that I could not put down Wizard Ring: From darkness into light (Wizards Series Book 1)

Wizard Ring by Clare Blanchard

 

I told you all the other day that my book 1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire) has been lucky enough to take part in a BookFunnel promotion called ‘A Touch of History’ this promotion includes some great looking books (I have read two of them now) and runs until the 19th of March 2020. The books are all on special offer and there is a great selection. If you like books written with historical flair, then this sales promo should be right up your street! Including an interesting mix of fiction styles and themes, all with a strong historical element. Click this link to see if you fancy reading any of the titles.

 

Wizard Ring: From darkness into light (Wizards Series Book 1) by [Blanchard, Clare]

BOOK BLURB:

I knew nothing about the alchemist John Dee until one winter’s night in Prague when I met the ghost of a barber.
My name is Sylvia. I was just a burnt-out teacher with a subversive sense of humour. Then my mother gave me a magic ring made in the Prague workshop of John Dee.
I’ve never been the same since.

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John Dee, alchemist to Queen Elizabeth I

MY REVIEW: 5/5

Brilliant! Part contemporary, part history. Sylvia is a world-weary teacher, she lives with her mother Svetlana (originally from Prague) and son Rusty. The three make for interesting characters and in-depth family dynamics. The internal politics of the school open up a great storyline – sorcery is all around Sylvia (most of it personality-driven!) Clare Blanchard has provided a clever observation of school on both sides of the desk, the stressful impact of working in any public sector environment, and the notion that the supernatural could save you from this stress. Sylvia’s mother has given her a ring, made in Prague by the alchemist John Dee – history books report he was in Queen Elizabeth I inner trusted circle and sent to Czechoslovakia by the Queen sometime in the 16th century as a spy. This is where the intrigue lies for the history lover, Tudor Royal courts were reportedly ruled by jealous paranoia – completely believable that a sorcerer would manufacture an energy-giving ring capable of influencing those around. Will Sylvia manage this power? A well-observed, interesting and lighthearted glimpse of history influencing today.

 

Clare Blanchard

Clare Blanchard is a British author who lives in the wine-growing country of Czechia near Lower Austria in Central Europe. She writes crime mysteries and urban fantasy novels with a strong historical flavour.
Her debut novel was the crime mystery The Tainted Vintage, published by Fahrenheit Press in July 2018. Set in a small town in Czechia, the novel opens a series featuring the somewhat ill-matched but oddly effective detective duo, Dvorska and Dambersky. It is to be followed soon by the second book in the series, The Russian Dolls, which deals with the world of international art theft, as well as a classic murder mystery.
A fan of Nordic noir, Clare Blanchard likes to treat the locations and historical eras in her books as if they were actual characters in the book. This goes not only for her crime fiction, but also for her new Wizards series, which takes the reader into the realm of historical urban fantasy on the murky borders between magic and science. Wizard Ring is the first of a planned series dealing with the dark arts in modern life that are hidden in plain sight.

silver colored pendant with green gemstone
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

 

I am going to see how many books I can read during the promotion, next on the list for me is The Witches of Helcolmbe by Harry Bradford.

 

The Witches of Helcombe.: Book 1 of The Devon Witches Series (The Devon Witches Series.) by [Bradford, Harry]

Thank you for reading, and please join me next time I post about this historical fiction book promotion

Happy reading, Samantha x

What’s in a (Character) Name? #Guestpost Sue Wickstead @JayJayBus #IARTG

Thank you for joining me for today’s post about character names. When Sue Wickstead sent me a message about names, it made me smile so much, and I am really pleased to be sharing this with you;

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What’s in a name

Names are important. Why?  Because they identify who we are.

On my teaching journey I sometimes ask the children a trick question which I thought I’d share with the readers today.  It usually starts with the question: What’s my Name? The children call out answers such as Mrs Wickstead, which is my teaching name as I use my maiden name for school. Sue Wicksteadcomes next which is my writing name followed byLego Lady but no, I’m known as Lego Lady because I play with Lego when I’m not teaching and like to share the models I make. Bus lady they say in desperation. They say this because my story books are about a real bus which I now portray in fictional picture books. The children are then lost and don’t know what else to say so I tell them that I am in fact Mrs Riddick because I am married to Mr Riddick. And my children are Riddick’s too. Then I make them laugh when I announce that in my house, frogs don’t say Ribbit-Ribbit, but Riddick-Riddick.

I then write a symbol on the board which represents ‘Sue’ spoken in Gujarati. However, ‘Sue’in Guajarati is not a name but in fact means ‘What?’ So, when I said: What is my name, it was a statement and not a question.Naming my books was far simpler.

The Playbus

Where did I get this name? I was once involved with a local charity which operated a mobile playbus in Crawley, West Sussex. It was known as the Bewbush Playbus and was the first mobile project in the South-East of England, started in 1977, with money from the Queen’s silver Jubilee Community Awards Funding.The project operated in the district of Bewbush and was much loved by all of its users.

Over the years I created an exhibition of the playbus and its work. The exhibition was used for fund-raising and to increase the profile of the project.When the bus finally closed its doors, I was asked to include the exhibition photographs into a book andThe Bewbush Playbus was born, published in 2012.

Having published this book, I was now able to show the children I met, real photographs about the bus. In Crawley, the children might know ‘Bewbush’ but outside the town they did not know or even care what a Bewbush was, instead they were far more interested in the word ‘Playbus’ and would ask ‘What is a Playbus?’ ‘What does it do?’ ‘How is it different from other buses?’ This led to me telling stories about the bus. Eventually after a while the story was written down and published.

The Playbus – Fiction

Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus was published in 2014 and is the fictional tale of the real life Playbus project. The original bus was given the name ‘Supersonic’ by airport apprentices who converted the playbus. I named him Jay-Jay because his number plate is JJK 261. A bus enthusiast will tell you that JJK 261 is an Eastbourne AEC Regent bus. Yes, it is.

So now I have to make sure the buses in all my books have real number plates.

Jay-Jay has been on further adventures, including an island, (based on a Scottishbook-bus) and a carnival, a local event we’d often take part in.

In 2018, I decided to continue the bus journey and wrote about Daisy Daydream. This was the bus I painted. Technically Daisy is also JJK 261, but as this would be too confusing, I gave her a JJD number plate which is a London Oxford Street bus which gave her a London bus story start. She’s called Daisy because I painted white flowers along the sides.Daisy Daydream the Nursery Rhyme Bus was painted with rhymes for the younger children to enjoy so now Daisy also has a book full of rhymes and jokes.Daisy Daydreams bus Rhymes and jokes.

My most recent bus book is Sparky the Dragon Bus which is based on a real bus that operated in Glasgow. The dragon bus had a stairlift fitted, enabling children less mobile to access the upper deck of the bus.The bus was well thought of and even received a royal visit from Princess Anne.

In addition, a few stories with links to my teaching journey have also been published but all of my books always include a bus somewhere in the story, even The Christmas Play Rehearsal.

There are a few more books I am writing that are in various stages of development, either planning, editing or still in the telling.

9780993073779 spooky tale cover

 

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So many books! Thank you Sue, and thank you for reading, everyone.

Don’t forget to look at Sue’s website to buy her books, which can be found here

Sue’s Goodreads page is here

Join me next month when Andy Donaldson, and later Sharon Booth tell us about their character names.

Happy reading, Samantha xx

 

 

What’s in a (Character) Name? #Guestpost Yawatta Hosby @yawatta_hosby #IARTG

February is Women in Horror Month I wouldn’t have even known this if it wasn’t for my spooky author friend YAWATTA HOSBY (Yawatta writes horror novels, I don’t mean she’s actually spooky as a person, you understand.) I read one of Yawatta’s books recently One By One look it up! My review is in there somewhere. Also, I read Six Plus One at the weekend – also awesomely gruesome.

One By One by [Hosby, Yawatta]

Anyway, let’s find out what Yawatta Hosby thinks about names…

Thanks for letting me be a guest on your blog, Samantha!

 

What’s in a name?

 

My full name is Yawatta Finia Hosby. I bet substitute teachers had a field day, trying to pronounce it during roll call 🙂 I was named after my mom’s favorite cousin, which her mother combined two words she saw in the delivery room. I still wonder what those words were…

 

Yawatta has a Japanese root; Finia is Native American; Hosby is Irish. I’m intrigued that my dad’s grandfather came to America from Ireland. It blows my mind! I’ve lived in the United States all my life even though my name looks exotic.

 

Since I have a unique name, I try and give my characters cool names as well. I think it’s fun to Google search different surnames. Sometimes if I find a cool last name then I’ll make that my character’s first name. For example, I love using the name Franco. I’ve used that name in my short stories and upcoming comic.

 

I also love giving my female characters masculine names. In One By One, my main character was Rae. In Something’s Amiss, my main character was Poe. With my comic I’ve been working on, my main female character’s name is Felix. I think it’s fun to give characters a regular name but spell it differently. Like with Rae (pronounced Rae); plus, Perfect Little Murder had Loren (pronounced Lauren).

 

Another fun game is to collect celebrity names. When I use a certain name, my character doesn’t represent that celebrity’s personality, I just like the name. For example, in One By One, Kenan was named after the Kenan and Kel duo. Selma after Selma Hayek; Tobey after Tobey Maguire. You get the drift.

 

Sometimes I’ll also think of my characters’ ethnicities, then I’ll Google popular names. I’ll scroll for hours looking for very unique names then I’ll use those names in my stories. The funny thing is I’ll spend so much time on last names but I don’t share them in the story. Still don’t know why I do that lol. I guess because if the characters are close, in my mind, then they wouldn’t be official when introducing them to readers. They would call the other characters by their first name in the story narration, not by a full name.

 

Keep smiling,

 

Yawatta Hosby

 

Thank you so much Yawatta! So interesting, wow what intriguing family history and a lovely middle name. I do love to read horror every now and then, reminds me of being a teenager and paging through Salem’s Lot in a sulk on a family holiday… ah! What a joy I must have been as a teenager. I’m sure I’m not alone – please make sure you give Yawatta’s BLOG a visit at http://yawattahosby.wordpress.com/ to catch all her books or visit her Amazon PAGE I just did – and there are a few bargains on there – stock up your Kindle (or other reading devices)

 

61dTIZ10fUL._US230_Six Plus One Kindle EditionOne By One Kindle EditionPlenty of Fish Kindle EditionTwisted Obsession: A Suspense Novella Kindle EditionSomething's Amiss Kindle EditionPerfect Little Murder Kindle Edition

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7101735.Yawatta_Hosby

Twitter @yawatta_hosby

Author Yawatta Hosby @YawattaHosby Facebook

Yay! Thanks again, Yawatta and join me in two weeks to find out about Sue Wickstead and her Jay Jay Bus!

Happy reading, Samantha xx

 

 

 

#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

#GuestPost Preview! Make sure you read this blog on Saturday (BURNS NIGHT) for a special treat from @lizzie_lamb #IARTG

Hi Everyone! The special treat is that best-selling uplifting romantic novelist Lizzie Lamb has agreed to guest post on my ‘What’s in a (Character) Name?’ Regular blog post. When Lizzie put her post together, the focus was on location – particularly because of the three HIGHLAND BRIDES NOVELS

Scotch on the RocksSo, before Saturday – when I expect you will be all reading Robert Burns’ poetry, wearing a kilt and eating haggis, I thought I would treat everyone to a snippet of Lizzie’s post before the big event – Burns night.

download Castle Stalker Castle Stalker (Photo from Lizzie Lamb – more of this on Saturday).

Here is a bit of Lizzie’s guest post –

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?

Boot Camp Bridea 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

I have read four of Lizzie’s books. The fifth is waiting for me on my Kindle as a special treat.

 

 Lizzie Lamb’s 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 300px

Don’t forget to read Lizzie’s full guest post, especially changed to Saturday for Burns night. See you then, Samantha xx