Author, Barbara Studham

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

Painting of Thumper by author Barbara Studham. www.barbara.studham.com


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New Post: Sooty, my pet rabbit, by Barbara Studham

Two rabbits, sixty-years apart!

Painting of Thumper by author Barbara Studham. www.barbara.studham.com

Painting of Thumper copyright Barbara Studham

I recently painted a picture of my granddaughter’s pet rabbit named Thumper. When I showed the draft to my friend, her comment stopped me in my tracks. “Does the bunny remind you of Sooty?”

Sooty was a pet rabbit I owned at around the age of ten. I wrote a vignette on that experience when I attended a memoir writing class, and eventually included the segment in my memoir Two Decades of Diapers describing the twenty years I parented grandkids with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Upon reading the vignette to the members of the memoir class, I was embarrassed by their silence which I mistakenly took for disinterest. However, I quickly discovered their hush was due to shock over the gory details of my anecdote. Following, is that vignette taken from my memoir Two Decades of Diapers available from AMAZON.

Sooty, my pet rabbit, by Barbara Studham

The following vignette was originally printed in the copyrighted memoir Two Decades of Diapers,

by Barbara Studham. Available from AMAZON.

As a kid, I was not keen on schedules, but every Saturday would see me up and out by 7:00 am, cycling like crazy to the local farm to purchase fresh straw for my rabbit.

 “Bring a bigger bag next time,” the farmer would urge while watching me stuff handfuls into my school satchel.

“I will,” I always promised then, throwing the bag over my shoulder, I would cycle as recklessly home, run to the back yard, and unload the straw.

“Look, Sooty, this is for you,” I would squeal as he nervously backed away.

Sooty had belonged to a neighbor who no longer wanted the bother of his upkeep. “He comes with a hutch,” she had explained to my mother, who sighed and shook her head.

“No thanks, Mrs Pond. I don’t need a rabbit,” Mom had muttered then, nodding toward me, added, “I have enough trouble with this one.”

“But, Mom, he’s so beautiful!” I gasped. “Please can we have him, Mom? I promise to look after him!”

After several hours of my pleading and empty promises, Mom finally relented and so I raced to my back yard where my neighbor was working in her yard.

“Mrs. Pond! Mrs. Pond!” I yelled over the fence, “Mom said—yes—I can have the rabbit!”

Her smile widened. “Here you go then.” She picked Sooty up in his cage and handed it to me. “I’ve got a sack of straw in the garage. I’ll get it for you.”

As she passed the hutch over the fence and into my eager hands, I thought I would burst with excitement. I looked around for the perfect place to display him, like an award I had received for reaching the age of ten and therefore deserving of a rabbit. But, as I scanned the yard, I heard the living room window open and my Mom yell.

“He’s your responsibility, now!”

“I know Mom,” I called, having no idea what responsibility meant.

For the next year or so, I groomed and petted Sooty, changed his straw, and with every opportunity showed him off to the neighborhood kids. They envied my having a rabbit with soft, shiny black fur, a bobbing tail, and sharp appealing eyes. I delighted in their arguing over who would hold him next, feeling much older than my years as I made them line up to take a turn. I truly loved Sooty and knew he loved me.

Then, one Saturday, my uncle came to visit. When he arrived, I was in the garden cleaning Sooty’s hutch, and feeding him fresh lettuce leaves I had stolen from my Dad’s garden. I noticed my mom standing a way off watching me. She had recently complained over the cost of Sooty’s upkeep so I intuitively sensed danger, but was surprised when she calmly turned and walked back inside the house. When convinced Sooty was clean and fed, I gave him one last kiss, locked his cage, and headed off to play.

“Be back at one for lunch,” my Mother shrieked from the kitchen window.

“I will Mom!” I yelled back, running as fast as my legs would take me to avoid being grabbed by the long-legged spiders inhabiting the high, green, privet hedge that surrounded our house. “I promise!”

So, at one o’clock I was back home, sitting at the table, innocently swinging my legs waiting for lunch to be served, but noticed the table was only set for one. Hearing my mother, sister, and uncle in the kitchen whispering and giggling, I called, “Isn’t anyone else having lunch?”

“Nope, only you,” called Mom, bringing in a large bowl of steaming stew and setting it down before me. “Eat up while it’s hot.”

After my busy morning, I was hungry and so tucked into the stew but, after a spoonful, muttered, “It tastes funny.” I glanced at my mom and uncle who were standing in the kitchen doorway smirking. I sensed something was up, but I was too afraid of my mom to refuse to finish my meal, so downed the whole bowl, and then ran back outside to play.

Later that evening when my uncle had left and I lay on my bed exhausted from play, my sister came to my room. “I have a secret to tell you,” she murmured enticingly, and leaned in. She whispered in my ear.

Startled by her words I jumped up, raced downstairs, and out to my rabbit’s hutch, but Sooty was gone.

“Sooty, where are you?” I cried. I frantically searched the garden, all the time calling his name. “Sooty, Sooty, where are you?” But, there was not a murmur, nor a squeak. I ran back inside.

“Mom! Mom! Do you know where Sooty is?” I cried, hoping my sister’s revelation was a lie.

But, when I saw my Mom’s expression, I knew it was true. Mom had asked my uncle to kill Sooty, skin him, and prepare him for the stew.

My heart died. “Mom, where is Sooty?” I whispered.

Staring defiantly, she smirked, “In your stomach.”

A CRAZY THING JUST HAPPENED! AS I FINISHED SOOTY’S STORY, THUMPER’S PAINTING FELL FROM THE WALL BEHIND ME AND CRASHED TO THE FLOOR! COINCIDENCE OR SUPERNATURAL? YOU DECIDE.

Sooty’s demise was traumatizing. More so were the twenty years I devoted to parenting four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Two Decades of Diapers, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, describe those years. Available from AMAZON, my memoirs are essential reading for anyone interested in learning more about the disorder.

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 Strawberry  & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Now available is the first in the series titled The School Day.

Barbara Studham’s books are available from AMAZON.

Author blog: http://www.barbarastudham.com

FASD blog: http://www.challengedhope.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham

 

 

Painting of Thunder, copyright Barbara Studham 2017 www.barbarastudham.com


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An Author and Her Dog, by Barbara Studham.

I have a dog.

This post is dedicated to Suzanne K., Heather L., Viga B.,

and their love for dogs.

Painting of Thunder, copyright Barbara Studham 2017 www.barbarastudham.com

Painting of Thunder, copyright Barbara Studham 2017

My dog’s name is Thunder. My granddaughter named him when we visited the SPCA animal shelter to offer a forever home to a rescue dog. The other dozen or so dogs looking for homes were large – like the magnificent, black mastiff, with a stately manner. I wanted to own him immediately.

The manager took one look at my senior frame and shook her head. “No, I’m sorry,” she said. “You won’t be able to handle him. He is VERY strong!”

Apparently, so were all the other dogs; apart from a sad looking Bichon whose coat was shorn to the skin due to his previous owner’s grooming neglect.

“He was a tangled mess,” the manager explained. “When we received him we had to shave him right down.”

Poor little doggie, I thought, but had to giggle at the sight of his piggy tail which had also been shaved. Seeing that cute pink thing wiggling and waggling at visitors endeared me. I pretty much knew he was the one, but had difficulty persuading my granddaughter who had her eye on another.

In the end, the manager had the last word. As I was to be the registered owner, she insisted on the weakling Bichon. 

So the Bichon it was.

He has now lived in his forever home going on two years. Naturally, he controls everything we do. Which is fine, because we love him and want him to be happy. In exchange, he has given me new legs. Before we gave him a home, I struggled with leg twinges and stiffness. Now, after walking him twice a day for two years, my legs are fantastic. I can walk farther, they don’t twinge (as much), and I love being out in the neighborhood watching him interact with kids and other dogs.

Thanks, Thunder! You are the best doggie in the world, and now that your coat has grown, you are the cutest!

Barbara Studham’s bio.

For over twenty years, Barbara Studham has parented grandchildren 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 Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Now available is the first in the series titled The School Day. The second in the series titled FIDGET! is soon to be released.

Barbara Studham’s books are available from AMAZON.

Author blog: http://www.barbarastudham.com

FASD blog: http://www.challengedhope.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham

 


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The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old, by Barbara Studham

Fiction: The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old

The Look of a Twelve-Year Old by author Barbara Studham. Available from AMAZON. www.barbarastudham.com

The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old by author Barbara Studham

In this post:

  • Why I wrote The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old.
  • The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old book blurb.
  • Opening chapter of The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old.
  • Author Bio.

Why I wrote The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old.

My British teen years spanned the sixties. Mary Quant fashions, Vidal Sassoon geometric hairstyles, mini-skirts, The Beatles: an amazing era I was blessed to experience. I remember rushing home from school to watch Top of the Pops on our black and white telly. Most of the British bands debuted there. Apart from the Beatles I drooled over live performances from The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Lulu—what a cast!

Retail sales boomed. Teens scoured stores for trending records and fashions, thereby generating jobs and income. Employment for high school teen girls arose in the form of Saturday Girls. Back then, stores closed around five on weekdays and all day on Sundays, so the only opportunity for school kids to earn money was on Saturdays.

My first job during high school was as a Saturday Girl in a shoe store. The store, Freeman Hardy & Willis Shoes, fronted the High Street, was popular with woman and teen girls, and managed by a modern-thinking woman. While I enjoyed earning income and taking advantage of the discounted price on shoes for employees, my eyes were opened to how competitive women can be.

Commission was the culprit. The full-timers hated us Saturday Girls because we were entitled to equal percentage of sales. They would do anything to turn our attention away from customers: send us on errands, insist we clear the pile of shoes they had shown to clients, demand we make their tea, an endless list of chores faced us Girls on Saturdays.  Eventually, we wised up and schemed our way into securing sales.

I recall one Saturday Girl in particular. Only fifteen, she had the look of a much younger girl. People would tell her she looked all of twelve and found it difficult to believe she belonged on a shop floor. Nevertheless, she was a feisty Girl, harboring hatred toward one of the more arrogant full-timers. They continually argued over sales. One day I heard the Girl uttering murderous threats toward the other, and became fascinated by how far people will go to make money. If this is how things are in a shoe store, I imagined how competitive it must be in big business. I wrote The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old with these two women in mind.

The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old, by Barbara Studham. Book blurb.

Meet Claire Peters. From seemingly innocent youngster to evil conniver, she takes you on her journey from lowly Saturday Girl working at The Glass Stiletto located in small town Heatherly, to executive for a leading company: SLATES Inc. of London. From an early age, Claire Peters joined the ranks of executives but on the way to the top, lost track of who she was and what she hoped to achieve. While working at The Glass Stiletto, she set her sights on winning the Stiletto Award for achieving the highest annual sales. However, a nasty rival stood in the way. Refusing to be deterred from reaching her goal, Claire took drastic action against her opponent. Many years later, recently fired from her executive position at SLATES Inc, she traded common sense for the sake of bloody revenge against the team responsible for her dismissal.

Opening Chapter of The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old, by Barbara Studham.

Chapter 1

The following is copyrighted material taken from The Look of a Twelve-Year-Old, by Barbara Studham

 Sunlight streamed through the spotless windows of Claire Peters’ extravagant London loft, causing char, Marg, to squint as she hastily vacuumed the expensive Persian rug. Her colleague, Shannon, hurried into the room carrying two silver vases.

            “She’ll be here any minute,” she yelled above the hum. “And I’ve yet to arrange the flowers!”

            “There isn’t time,” Marg yelled back. “Leave the vases empty.”

            Shannon cringed. “It’s on your head,” she warned. “You know how fussy she is.”

            Marg flicked off the vacuum and scanned the room for mess. Her gaze fell on clutter strewn across the coffee table. She pointed frantically. “Those magazines and cups on the side tables—quick—discard them.”

            Shannon raced to the table, but froze at the sound of a key turning in the lock. She turned to see a stone-faced Claire Peters glaring at her.

            “Good evening, Miss Peters,” she said, lowering her gaze.

            Claire glared. Marg broke the silence by kicking the recoil switch on the vacuum. The wire whirred noisily into its place.

             “Why are you still here?” Claire dramatically lifted an arm to check her watch. “It’s seven. You agreed to be out by four. We have a contract.”

            Marg smoothed the skirt of her grey uniform. “We’re really sorry, Miss Peters. You see, Mrs Marks had an emergency and it took us longer to clean her place. She’s an older…

            “So old Mrs Mark’s problem has now become mine.” She eyed the room. “Where are the flowers?

            Shannon blushed. “In the sink, Miss.”

            “So my guest and I are to eat over the kitchen sink, this evening?”

            “No, Miss. I’ll arrange them now.” Eager for escape, she grabbed the two vases and darted off. Marg slid the vacuum toward the kitchen door.

            “Margaret,” began Claire, “This is your error and will be applied to your record. You need to set an example for the new staff. Shannon needs to understand it is not acceptable to turn up late. A contract is a contract. I would hate to have to report you to…” The intercom buzzed. “That will be the caterer. Hurry up and leave.”

            “Yes, Ma’am. It won’t happen again. I assure you.”

            Her focus now shifted to the caterers, Claire ignored her. “Come up,” she ordered.

            As the team entered the apartment, Shannon placed the arranged blooms on the table. Claire recoiled. “Those are not the ones I ordered,” she barked. “Where are the White Forest?”

            Shannon looked confused. “I wouldn’t know, Miss. The blue were delivered.”

            Sniffing with contempt, Claire dismissed them. “Get out now. The caterers need the kitchen.”

            Exchanging glances of relief, both women took off.

            As the caterers began laying out linens and dishes, Claire sauntered to her bathroom to shower. Pressing a hand into the back of her neck, she sighed—Oh, for some relief. Glancing in her mirror, she smiled slyly—tonight, perhaps. She ran a shower, disrobed and stepped in. Water rippled upon her slender shoulders, streamed over her breasts, and cascaded off her nipples like two delicate waterfalls. Turning her back to the spray, she closed her eyes and willed the tension to ease.

            For the past three weeks, SLATES SHOES Inc. had drained her of energy. She blamed team member Ed Hughes and his crony, Kevin. Both hell-bent on increasing their personal bank accounts over those of the shareholders’— if I didn’t know better I’d think they were bedfellows. Reaching for a sea-sponge, she doused it with lavender gel and lathered her body. Could they be an item? She decided to keep an eye open for signs. Never know when that kind of information will be useful, although, these days, it has lost its importance. And that Ann Fraser, with her bright red hair and pinched nose look, always in Ed’s pocket, scared to voice an opinion unless he okays it first; what a joke! All three recognize we must remodel our European branches to increase sales, or MARTINS Inc. will win the Asian account. Can’t let that happen. She considered her recent presentation. The numbers speak for themselves. Without a remodel, we will be bankrupt. Things must change.

            Scrubbing vigorously, she swore… Fuck Ed! Why did he refuse to back up my numbers? He knows things can’t continue the way they are. I’ve worked too hard to let him destroy SLATES. She glanced at the clock positioned above the heated towel rail. God, look at the time!  

            While the staff cooked and set a romantic table, she dried off, slipped into a silver satin slip-like evening dress, styled her chin-length burnished-gold hair and applied jewelry and makeup. Peering in the mirror, with fingertips, she smoothed the faint lines forming around her eyes. Do I look older than thirty? She recalled visiting her grandmother shortly before her death and being shocked by her complexion. I miss you Grandma, but hope I don’t inherit your wrinkles.

            Eight o’clock suddenly arrived and so did her guest. Opening the door, her eyes widened at the sight of a young man dressed in a navy suit—a la Tom Ford Style. Mmm, delicious. Can’t be more than twenty-five. “Brad, is it?” she asked, her eyes smiling with satisfaction.

            “If that’s what pleases you.” He took her in his arms.

            She smiled and pointed to the table. “We can eat,” she murmured coyly. She brushed her fingertips over his lips, “but you’re much more delectable.”

            “And you’re stunning,” he whispered, nuzzling her neck.

            Melting at his touch, she paused. “Mmm, that feels good. Brad, don’t stop. I’ve been so tense lately. It always begins in my neck.”  

            “And works its way down?” He murmured provocatively, tracing his hand over her hips. “I have a special way of easing stress.”

            She gazed into his soulful brown eyes and ran fingers through his chestnut hair. Sliding them down over his chest, she trembled while unbuttoning his shirt. “What about supper? It will get cold.”

            “I’m hungry only for you.”

            Smiling coyly, she reached for his hand and led him to the bedroom. She turned to the staff waiting to serve the meal. “Leave now,” she murmured before closing the door quietly behind her.

The next morning being Saturday, Claire slept in. Brad had long left and like all the others before him, now simply a sweet memory. Her need to be serviced by handsome men like Brad had become an ingrained habit, one she could easily afford, and one she was not willing to abandon.

            Sunlight pierced her eyes and, unlike her memory of the night before, her mood was anything but sweet. Turning from the light, she heard a bottle thump to the floor followed by the gurgle of red wine spilling onto her white carpet—fuck! Her cursing jarred her hangover. She held her forehead, angry more at herself than the spill. Never… again… will I drink so much nor sleep with a man I don’t know. She tried to sit up… well, at least for a week.

            Slipping her feet out of the pink satin sheets and into her fluffy, pink slippers, she struggled into her pink, silk robe then to the washroom mirror and peered. Another night, another line, she sighed, dragging a finger across an eye bag. Wobbling to the kitchen where last night’s meal lay congealed in containers, she dipped her finger in cold gravy and sucked. Her gaze fell on the empty coffee pot. Incensed, she searched through cupboards—where’s the damn coffee!—then the pantry. Glancing impatiently around, she finally spied the container next to the coffee pot. Flinging open the lid, she prepared the percolator then sprawled out on the sofa. I need coffee and sleep—nothing more! But her boss, Nick Thompson, had other ideas. First, he startled her by activating her phone, and worsened her hangover with his gruff voice, and finally, as if those two intrusions weren’t enough to irritate her, he totally pissed her off by firing her.

            At his words, she sat bolt upright. “What!”

            “Sorry, Claire, but you were aware of the possibility.”

            “What?”

            “MARTINS, Inc. secured the Asian account and has offered SLATES a sweet deal on Europe. As a result, we are immediately shutting down our European branches. Can’t afford to lose another cent. So, we won’t need your services after this weekend. Of course, you will get severance and an amazing reference. You can count on us for that.”

            Claire gasped. “But… you can’t do that! I was the one pushing for SLATES renovations. You attended my presentation. The numbers spoke for themselves. If the shareholders had accepted my plan, European sales would have skyrocketed.”

            “But Ed Hughes and the rest of your team lacked confidence in your proposal. Without their support, the shareholders are nervous. They are simply not willing to risk millions on upscale renovations with no guarantees. Claire, you’re young… well, young enough… you’ll find another position. Happens to the best of us, you know. Blame Ed.” Click.

            Falling back onto the sofa, she stared ahead. I don’t believe it—that stupid, fucking arse! She called Ed’s line, but it went to voicemail. She screamed into her phone. “Stupid, fucking arsehole—what the fuck have you done! My career is over! I’ve been fired!

            Sinking lower into the chair, she covered her eyes and groaned long and low. What am I going to do? What the fuck am I going to do?

            The intercom buzzed. Desperate for help and, despite her headache, she ran to it. “Whoever you are, be warned. I am suicidal!”

            “Claire Peters?” came the reply.

            She didn’t recognize the voice. “Yes. Who wants to know?”

            “Gladden Deliveries. We’ve got your new sofa here.”

            She glanced at her old one. “Don’t bother,” she said, glumly. “I can’t afford it now.”

            “What?”

            “I SAID… I can’t afford a new sofa. Take it back!”

            “If you say so, but…”

            She cut them off and walked solemnly toward the kitchen. Nothing like being fired to cure a hangover. While pouring coffee, tears prickled her eyes. Laying her head on the counter, she cried. What am I going to do—sob—fifteen years hard slog down the drain—sob—all because of that arsehole! What was he thinking? I could have saved us. Why didn’t they believe me?

            Claire spent the rest of the day in a fuzzy-brained panic, desperately trying to plan her future, but unable to think how. By the time evening arrived, she had calmed a little, found a full bottle of sherry, and was seated on the balcony trying to sort through her problem. The cork popped and, as the aroma filled her soul, and her eyes gazed upon the glowing London sunset, her mind raced back to her childhood in the small town of Heatherly where she first laid eyes on SLATES shoe store, then known as The Glass Stiletto. —copyright 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 Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Now available is the first in the series titled The School Day

Barbara Studham’s books are available from AMAZON.

Author blog: http://www.barbarastudham.com

FASD blog: http://www.challengedhope.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham

 


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Is BAD publicity GOOD?

Author appreciates all publicity!

I submitted my ebook cover, Under the Shanklin sky for review to The Book Designer re the e-Book Cover Design Awards, November 2017. The opportunity for publicity overshadowed winning an award, so I entered an ebook cover to attract attention to my work.

Link: https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2017/12/e-book-cover-design-awards-november-2017

Well, my cover attracted attention, but not the kind I crave. While I appreciate its listing in JR’s The Book Designer Awards, his comment was not so pleasing. Here is the cover I submitted along with his comment.

Under the Shanklin sky, by Barbara Studham. The first in the Milly Mullan adventure series. Milly is a retiree who moves from London to Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. Caught up in the locals' activity, she soon finds herself sleuthing through her golden years. Available on AMAZON.

Under the Shanklin sky, by Barbara Studham

JF: It might, if you let a professional design the cover.

Here the type is confused and the whole effect is underwhelming.

Is BAD publicity good?

I welcome the response, but I do not have the means to hire a professional, so I cannot act upon JR’s suggestion. Moreover, the publicity overrides the bad review.  After all, my book was posted and mentioned (good publicity), despite his comment, some readers will like my cover and even check it out on Amazon (good publicity), and my name being recognized as an author on another website is excellent publicity.

The last point is the most important, because, a book’s cover is not what sells books, but rather the author’s name. My favorite author, Rachel Joyce, could sell me a book with a blank cover simply because I adore her writing. Becoming known is what is important. An attractive book cover will garner eyes, but when those eyes are browsing hundreds of thousands of book titles on Amazon, chances of them landing on my book are miniscule. Conversely, if the reader is searching for a specific author, namely me, the odds improve.

Author appreciates all publicity.

So, how do I attract attention to my work? Take up with a toy boy and prance around town in low-cut dresses and cause a scene until noticed? How about I dye my hair blue and wear funny hats. What if I hold a knife to someone’s throat and hope journalists include ‘author’ when reporting the details. Not bad ideas, as ALL publicity is good publicity.

Meanwhile, I will stick to a traditional publicity route. On Sunday, February 18th 2018, I will join local radio host Bernadette Rule on Art Waves to speak about my children’s FASD picture book titled Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The book is aimed at ages 5-12, is full color, twenty-six pages, and available on AMAZON. Art Waves is an arts-interview radio program airing live every Sunday evening from 7 to 8 at 101.5 FM. Google “1015 The Hawk.”

To listen to my previous Art Waves podcast when I spoke on my FASD memoirs Two Decades of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, The Teen Years, visit this link:

https://archive.org/details/279BarbaraStudhamMar.132016

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 Strawberry  & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Now available is the first in the series titled The School Day.

All Barbara Studham’s books are available from your AMAZON.

Author blog: http://www.barbarastudham.com

FASD blog: http://www.challengedhope.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham


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Merry Christmas to all my readers, Barbara Studham.

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Christmas tree painting by author, Barbara Studham. Barbara has written FASD memoirs, fiction, and children's FASD picture book. See all her work on AMAZON. www.barbarastudham.com, www.challengedhope.com

Merry Christmas 2017 from author, Barbara Studham

Merry Christmas!

My blog will be on vacation over the Christmas holidays, but I hope you will visit this site for many more goodies in the new year. Speaking of goodies, there will be many this year who don’t have the means to purchase gifts, or who are estranged from family and friends, perhaps even suffering the loss of a loved one. Let’s keep those in mind as we indulge.

Merry Christmas, or, Happy Christmas?

Due to my merriment while some people suffer through Christmas, I wondered from where the phrase “Merry Christmas” originated. For me, the word merry conjures up visions of overworked, medieval folk with wide drunken grins, and red noses flaring, dancing arm-in-arm around the Christmas tree. Now that is MERRY!

After browsing the origin of Merry Christmas, I realized my merry-making medieval was not far off track. Rebecca Shinners, at this link, http://www.countryliving.com/life/a37128/origin-of-merry-christmas/ wrote in Country Living:

As December 25th approaches, we’ve found ourselves saying “Merry Christmas” to everyone from our grocery store cashier to our family members. But have you ever stopped to wonder where the phrase “Merry Christmas” comes from? In a world where it’s normal to say “Happy Easter” and “Happy Birthday,” the “merry” in “Merry Christmas” is unique.

The folks at Mental Floss recently pondered the same question and found that the answer goes back to the connotation of the two words. “Happy” is an emotional condition, while “merry” is a behavior. Furthermore, happy, which came from the word “hap,” meaning luck or chance implies good-fortune. Meanwhile, “merry” implies a more active showing of happiness—which you might think of as merry-making.

While both words have evolved and changed meaning over time (yes—people did once say “Happy Christmas”), people stopped using “merry” as its own individual word during the 18th and 19th centuries. It stuck around in common phrases like “the more, the merrier,” as well as in things like Christmas carols and stories, largely due to the influence of Charles Dickens. The Victorian Christmas went on to define many of today’s holiday customs.

Of course, “Happy Christmas” hasn’t faded completely—it’s still widely used in England. This is believed to be because “happy” took on a higher class connotation than “merry,” which was associated with the rowdiness of the lower classes. The royal family adopted “Happy Christmas” as their preferred greeting and others took note. Meanwhile, “Merry Christmas” took on sentimental meaning in the U.S. —even hearing “merry” on its own now makes us think of December 25th.

Have a Happy or Merry Christmas!

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 titled Strawberry & Cracker, Twins with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Now available is the first in the series  titled The School Day.

All Barbara Studham’s books are available from your AMAZON.
Author blog: http://www.barbarastudham.com
FASD blog: http://www.challengedhope.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham


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Author, Barbara Studham: Memories of Steam Engines

Riding the steam train to Grandmother’s home.

Whoo—ooo!

Riding the Steam Train. Painting by Barbara Studham 2017. www.barbarastudham.com

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: http://www.barbarastudham.com

FASD blog: http://www.challengedhope.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham

If you love steam engines, enjoy the following links.

http://www.rail.co.uk/locomotives-and-engines/steam-engines/

http://home.bt.com/lifestyle/travel/uk/steam-trains-in-the-uk-britains-best-heritage-railways-11363903056455


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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

Author: http://www.barbarastudham.com

FASD: http://www.challengedhope.com

Barbara Studham’s Amazon Author Page

http://www.amazon.com/author/barbarastudham