Author, Barbara Studham

Creator of memoir, fiction, and the children's picture book, Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

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Author, Barbara Studham: Memories of Steam Engines

Riding the steam train to Grandmother’s home.


Riding the Steam Train. Painting by Barbara Studham 2017.

Riding the Steam Train. Painting by Barbara Studham 2017

I was a shy child, preferring to stay in my room rather than venture outside for play.

“You are so quiet,” people would say as if it was a bad thing.

They failed to notice their annoying chatter blocked out the sweeter sounds of nature: raindrops falling, leaves rustling, birds chirping. Mother Nature, not people, stirred my senses. There was no sound more exciting, however, than the bellowing steam train as it pulled into the station to take me to my grandmother’s house.

As a fifties kid, I grew up in a home with no family car. A trip to grandma’s house, or anywhere, for that matter, meant a train ride. We would arrive at the station with enough time to spare for a cup of tea in the railway’s cafeteria. Dad called it weak, but it was hot, and sweet, and went down a treat. Sometimes, Mum would fork out for a biscuit. We would then wait on the platform for the train to arrive. Glancing at his watch, Dad would say, “Won’t be long, now.”

Anticipation increased as the minutes passed. I could hardly contain my excitement! Being taller than me, Dad would spot the train first, and shout There it is! See, in the distance! I would stare ahead along the winding track and watch the huge iron beast barrelling toward me, as an overhead intercom announced its arrival. My parents appeared indifferent to my standing too close to the edge, ready to jump aside as the engine pulled into the platform.

Sometimes, the noise was too loud for my young ears, and I feared I would faint clean away.  Steam enveloped me. The smell invaded my nostrils. Valves hissed as if impatient at having to stop again. Rumbling and clattering, the commotion lasted several minutes as the engine slowed. Carriages murmured loudly as they bumped and swayed to a halt. Several passengers would jump from the train before it fully stopped. “Idiots,” Mum would whisper. “One day, someone will fall!”

I’d climb into the carriage exhausted from the din, and sink into a padded bench seat. Within minutes, amid a loud whistle, a clatter and hiss, the engine would pull out from the station, and we would be on our way. What wonderful memories I have of my train rides to grandma’s house. 

Author, Barbara Studham: Memories of Steam Trains. Milly Mullan, the main character in my Under the Shanklin sky fiction series, also loved riding the steam train. Here, is part of the first chapter of book #1 Under the Shanklin sky, where she shares her memory.


Chapter 1

As a child of the fifties, Millicent Mullan treasured her summer holidays at the charming seaside town of Shanklin situated on the Isle of Wight. With anticipation soaring, at least two weeks before school ended for the summer, she would fetch her yellow, plastic bucket and spade stashed in the cupboard under the stairs, and chatter with excitement to school chums, friends, family, and anyone within earshot willing to listen. 

            “Soon I’ll be swimming! I do hope the weather is hot. You should feel the sand, it’s so smooth under your feet. And I often find shells. And the gulls scream so. We are staying two weeks in my favorite hotel. I wish we could stay longer. I never want to go home!” Rambling on, she’d twirl and whirl in her puffed-sleeved dress, until her mother would shout, “Shut up, Milly! You’re driving us nuts!”

            But, Mum understood her daughter’s delight, as she loved Shanklin too. Every winter Mr Mullan would reserve two rooms for their upcoming summer family vacation at the Shanklin Beach Hotel, one for himself and Mrs Mullan, and one for Milly. In those days, the furnishings were old and scratched and the beds lumpy. Each room had one basin with cold running water. To try their patience further, guests on the second floor shared a bathroom, but, overall, the Mullan family couldn’t care less, and simply agreed such outdated décor only added to the charm of their windswept surroundings.

            To Milly’s parents, Ron and Sandra, the most arduous part of their holiday was the daylong journey from their house to the hotel, especially if caught in a downpour. And, poor Mr Mullan had to bear those heavy, brown suitcases which a week ago he had laid out to air, before Mrs Mullan stuffed them with necessities. Huffing and puffing under their weight, he’d pray the handles would hold and not break as one had before, leaving him stumped as to how to get their things to the hotel. It had happened before boarding the ferry and they had no clue what to do, until several kind passengers offered them bags. The old, leather suitcase was abandoned and the bags filled, and Milly giggled and skipped behind her dad as he staggered along with one case and eight bags in hand.

            “Get out from under your dad’s feet,” Mum had chided with arms full of beach paraphernalia and her favorite deck chair.

            During Milly’s early years, they had no car so their journey would begin in the early morning on a bus from their home in Iver Village to Uxbridge, then a train from there to London with a switch at London’s Paddington Station to Southampton, for the ferry ride across the Channel to the Isle of Wight. There, another train would take them to Shanklin Station and finally they would splurge for a taxi to drive to Shanklin Beach Hotel. By the end of the journey Ron and Sandra would be exhausted and go to bed early that night, but Milly took it all in her stride especially loving the train ride from London to the south coast.

            Staring out the window and seeing what only children can, she’d delight in the beauty of the countryside and the speeding of the train past houses dotted along the way. The clammy smoke from the steam engine would fill her nostrils as it seeped into her carriage.

            “Close the window, Milly,” Mum would say. “The noise is too loud and it smells.”

            But if a passenger interrupted her delight—hello, little girl, are you enjoying the ride?—she’d get cross and frown at them rudely. Milly loved her vacations and all its intricacies and wanted no one to spoil it with mundane murmurings in her ear… ©BarbaraStudham

To read more, visit AMAZON 

Under the Shanklin sky

by Barbara Studham. 

Barbara Studham’s bio:

For the past twenty years, Barbara Studham parented four grandchildren, all diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Her two memoirs: Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years, describe her challenges during their toddler years, and teens. She has also written fiction, including a six-book series titled, Under The Shanklin Sky; set in the seaside town of Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight. She is currently creating a children’s FASD picture book series. The first, titled The School Day, is now available.

All Barbara Studham’s books are available from AMAZON.

Author blog:

FASD blog:

Amazon Author Page:

If you love steam engines, enjoy the following links.

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Author, Barbara Studham’s Book Series

Six books in the Under the Shanklin sky, English seaside series!

All six books in my Under the Shanklin sky Milly Mullan

adventure series are available on AMAZON!

Author, Barbara Studham’s Book Series

I doubt I will write more in the series so as I wind down, I can’t help feeling a sense of pride. My main character, Milly Mullan, is a retiree from London England who moves to Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. Soon after moving, she is caught up in the locals’ activity and finds herself sleuthing her way through her golden years by the sea.

Book blurbs

For all six book blurbs click on the menu title Fiction Series #1 then head over to AMAZON to download your selection. Format: ebook; Genre: Fiction/Crime, Mystery/Cozy; Price: only $0.99 cents (usd). Makes great holiday and birthday gift!

Barbara Studham’s blogs



Barbara Studham’s Amazon Author Page

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New Release: A Hint of Spring

The Launch of A Hint of Spring!

Another Milly Mullan Adventure.

A Hint of Spring

A Hint of Spring

I am so pleased to launch the fourth book in the Under The Shanklin Sky Milly Mullan series. My new ebook is available from AMAZON for only $0.99 cents USD. If you have read the first three adventures in the series titled Under The Shanklin Sky, The Bathing Beauty, and The Faring Foxglove, you will also enjoy my newest addition, A Hint of Spring. 

New Release: A Hint of Spring, Book Blurb.

Rain, hail, sleet, gale; the petulant, English winter reluctantly gives way to spring by mercilessly battering the town of Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight. Conversely, spring ushers in a new adventure for retiree, Milly Mullan, resident of flat number 6 in the Old Stone House situated on Hope Beach. Anticipating an upcoming fundraising gala, she is shocked to discover the host, Evelyn Scott, is embezzling funds from its charitable agency: Triple-F. With little evidence, Milly drags her obnoxious daughter, Rosie, into the fray who witnesses Evelyn Scott’s murder and joins the list of suspects, all of whom hated Evelyn. For a while, Milly is at a loss as to whodunit. Was it Crystal, the receptionist at Triple-F, who holds a long-standing grudge against Evelyn; or, perhaps Evelyn’s love affair, married man, Fred Barker-Ford, of Barker-Ford dog foods, and suspected collaborator in crime. Could the killer be Tom Fielding, a local health and fitness business owner who, for personal reasons, detests Evelyn Scott? As Milly delves deeper into the case, she inadvertently saves scores of seniors from Evelyn’s scheming and their financial ruin. Given that, and her eventual solving of Evelyn Scott’s murder, she is abruptly elevated to bees’ knees status in the eyes of Shanklin’s locals.

Available from AMAZON.

Category: Fiction/Crime, Mystery & Detective/Cozy. $0.99 cents usd. 

Barbara Studham’s blogs



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New cover for Under the Shanklin sky

A new cover for my English seaside adventure

Under the Shanklin sky!

When you visit my Amazon author page here,, you will discover my new front cover for my English seaside adventure titled Under the Shanklin sky. I painted the picture, applied the title and my author name, and uploaded it to Amazon to replace the original.

Here is the old cover and its replacement.

As of now, the new book cover is only available at AMAZON. Soon, the new cover will also be available for Under the Shanklin sky at other ebook distributors. But, don’t lament, the story under the two covers are the same so you won’t be missing out on any adventurous gems!

Book blurb. Meet Milly Mullan.

Milly Mullan is a retiree from London with delightful childhood memories of holidays spent at the scenic seaside town of Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight. As an adult, she intended to vacation there often, but with a successful career as an interior designer to oversee, and hubby being top chef at a popular up-scale London restaurant, holiday time was denied them. Not until retired, did Milly return to Shanklin, by which time Harry had died from health complications, and their daughter, Rosie, had grown up and married. Still, Milly has only one regret: losing touch with a young boy, Jonathan, she had met when only ten years of age during one of her childhood Shanklin vacations. Now retired, her hope to find him absorbed her thoughts until, one day, while tending her balcony flowers in her new Shanklin flat; she found a valuable silver fob watch in a flowerpot. Determined to find its owner, she set out on a search which brings her face-to-face with her lost love, but is it really Jonathan? To find out, join Milly—Under the Shanklin Sky.

Relax, kick your feet up, and enjoy

Under the Shanklin sky. Available from Amazon. $0.99 cents usd.

Purchase from the following link 




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Seventy years of age, and still going!

Happy Birthday to me!

I am 70 today! I can’t believe I made it to 70, especially after all the emotional junk life emptied on me. But, here I am, still standing, and looking forward to my bonus years. Whatever time is left me is surplus, so I am curious as to what life will bring my way. Today, I decided, for the first time in my life, to keep a journal of my special days.Within an hour, my car of six months broke down, so the first record in my journal contained a few choice words. Oh well, that’s life. And I hope I have a lot more to come.

Good stuff also happened. As my journal is an open book, take a read and discover how a bonus day looks. Sorry, you won’t find any obligations there, as I’m no longer expected to work, jog, or be nice. I can say “NO” if I don’t want to babysit someone’s kids, I can say “cook it yourself” if I’m not in the mood to make supper, and if I am feeling really lazy I can let the dog poo in the back yard instead of walking him at the park. Wow, bonus years are great!

First page of my journal

Oh, I forgot to mention the silly cartoon I created.

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FREE Basic Book Promotion

Discover FREE ways to promote your

self-published book.

You’ve written and self-published your book, and now you are looking for promotion ideas. No need to spend a fortune on sales promoters: authors who have been there, done that, and now want to sell you their expertise. Their claims include selling thousands of books and spiraling to the top of their trade by using their little-known methods.

“Follow my six steps to fame!”

“Ten easy ways to promote your book!”

 “Increase your book sales a thousand-fold!”

It’s tempting, until the price tag rears its ugly head. Especially when most of the paid-for suggestions are free elsewhere on the Internet. If you are just starting out, it pays (YOU) to spend time browsing for basic promotion projects.

Spend time browsing for free advice

Spend time searching.

The Internet offers hundreds, if not thousands, of writing websites offering FREE book promotion ideas. The only thing you need is time and patience to surf the Internet to find projects right for you and your book. Start with the basics, and within time, you will gain confidence to chase after more professional promotions. But first, think BLOG, and SOCIAL MEDIA. Blogging and social media are your two basic methods for promotion. FACEBOOK offers individual PAGES, and if you are on AMAZON, complete your author page at AUTHOR CENTRAL. There are also sites offering FREE REVIEWS. Check out the following links. 

Ask friends for suggestions.

Spend time with friends.

Chances are, if you have written a book, you will know others who have. When I completed my first memoir Two Decades of Diapers, my friend, who was also my memoir teacher, offered me many suggestions on how to promote my self-published memoir: BOOK FAIRS, LOCAL RADIO SHOW, LIBRARY PRESENTATIONS,  and SPEAKING EVENTS.  She had self-published  books and learned the promotion ropes. She is an avid PODCASTER, and swears by its power to promote. If you are not friends with people in the know, join writing circles and clubs, and attend book talks and fairs to garner advice from other writers. Visit my friend’s link. 

Don’t be afraid to ask.

Don’t pay–ask!

It also pays to reach outside of your friendship circle and ASK for ideas. For example, following the recent release of my children’s FASD picture book titled Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I contacted an FASD school social worker. I wanted to let her know the book was available, and to ask for suggestions on how to get the book placed within school libraries. Not only did she love the book, but suggested a fabulous way to promote. She is in the process of organizing an FASD seminar and suggested my children’s book for door prizes! What a fantastic idea, and one I can use to further promote my book by contacting FASD committees and explaining my book makes wonderful door prizes at FASD conferences, and other meetings. 

FREE basic book promotion!

On the surface, these suggestions might appear tiny drops of promotion  in the vast sea of methods, but most  paid-for ideas include approaching corporate sponsors, and TV producers, which I consider much farther-down-the-road promotions; ones to consider at a later date when you gain confidence and your book is selling. I’m all about getting started, so in the meantime, for free confidence-building promotional ideas, don’t pay now, and regret it later—simply search and ask for FREE.

See my books, including my new children’s picture book

Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome,

The School Day

at Amazon, and the following link.



FASD: The Teen Years

1. Does TIME really HEAL?

I decided this week to offer my memoir Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years in print. Now available in ebook format, due to its popularity, print form would make it viable for libraries and book fairs. Wanting to be sure the manuscript is up to date, I clicked on the file to edit. Big mistake!

The adage Time Heals is a misnomer, a fake, a big fat lie! Time does not heal; at least, not in my case. When I read the first chapter, I thought my heart would break. Tears streamed down my face. Time heals—what a joke. 

Reading that chapter resurfaced memories from my years parenting grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The stress, the sadness, the worry; it all flooded back. Here is a peek into part of that chapter.

Chapter 1
My Eldest Grandson, Rocky,
Placement # 1

I am in line at the information desk of Hamilton Police Station. As I wait for my turn, I gaze through the heavy, glass double-doors. Rain pelts down. People hurriedly step over puddles to push their way inside. A woman shakes out her umbrella, careful to avoid those of us patiently waiting.

        With eyes on the entrance, I watch for my fourteen-year-old grandson, Rocky, to arrive with his Children’s Aid caseworker. Five minutes later, they step inside out of the rain. Rocky tosses raindrops from his blond, curly hair.

        Dread surges through me. He is about to face a grueling interview and I am uncertain how he will react. His worried gaze scans the lobby searching for me then brightens as he smiles my way. He knows I love him and will be there for him no matter the outcome.    

        Arrested for criminal activity the previous evening, Rocky was removed from our home and placed into the care of the Children’s Aid Society. Now, he is at the station to discover his fate. He and his worker join me in line until the information officer directs us to a specific department. A detective approaches and dismisses the CAS worker but instructs me to stay. She leads us to a small, brightly lit room where she explains our interview will be videotaped and everything we say recorded. I glance at Rocky and my heart pounds. His face is pale. I sense his nervousness.

        For the next hour, the detective addresses Rocky and the reason for his arrest. The facts that emerge sicken me until I feel I will pass out. My mind screams. “Get up and get out; don’t come back, don’t even look back. This is too much, even for you. After everything you have been through, you do not deserve this. Come back later, when he is an adult and you are no longer his guardian. Come back then and simply be Grandma.”

        I ignore my mind and stay. After all, everything once again depends on me. I’m broken, exhausted, and overwhelmed by the fourteen years I have spent raising him and three of his siblings, all challenged by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I am in no shape to absorb this new catastrophe.

To read more about Rocky’s rocky road in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years, visit this link

2. Another seascape!

I love painting seascapes. Having recently taken up painting, I work on my pictures daily. Painting reduces my stress and offers me a break from writing and promoting my books: memoir, fiction, and children’s picture books.

Following our weekly meet-ups for updates on the second in the children’s picture book series, titled, Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, illustrator, Heather Lamb kindly gave me tips on painting. I learned how to hold a brush for optimum detailing, to paint with tools other than brushes, and the importance of shading and highlighting.

Painting a Seascape with Acrylics.

Once a week for four weeks, Heather oversaw my seascape painting. It is now complete and added to my collection of beginner’s works. The reason I am posting the sequence of pictures here, is not because I see the final as a masterpiece (far from it), but to encourage readers to indulge in a new interest. Being a senior, I am constantly on the lookout for new projects, and love this one. Thanks, Heather!

During our London, England, trip in 2018, my son and I are planning to visit the National Art Gallery. It won’t be the first time for me as I was born in England and lived there until the age of 26. A few years before immigrating to Canada, I visited the National Gallery, and want my son to share the experience. If ever you get the opportunity to visit London, don’t miss the Gallery. The masterpieces are breathtaking. I can guarantee, you will leave the building a new person.

If you are looking for a relaxing experience, why not join me on my Amazon Author Page at the following link. There you will see my FASD memoirs, my fiction books including Under The Shanklin Sky English seaside series, and my children’s FASD picture book titled Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The School Day.