Author, Barbara Studham

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

My painting of Mrs Beech's view from her window overlooking Hope Bay on the Isle of Wight. This is how I imagine her place to be: tatty curtains, cats, and old rattling windows. Poor Milly Mullan, her neighbor, who has to listen to those windows rattling on stormy nights. A description from A Hint of Spring, by Barbara Studham. www.barbarastudham.com


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Bringing fiction to life, by Barbara Studham

Using My Imagination!

My painting of Mrs Beech's  view from her window overlooking Hope Bay on the Isle of Wight. This is how I imagine her place to be: tatty curtains, cats, and old rattling windows. Poor Milly Mullan, her neighbor, who has to listen to those windows rattling on stormy nights. A description from A Hint of Spring, by Barbara Studham. www.barbarastudham.com

I painted this picture with Mrs Beech in mind. As an elderly resident of flat number 4 in the Old Stone House situated on Hope Beach on the Isle of Wight, she has spent most of her life looking out over the bay. During the fifties, net curtains (sheers) grew popular as people could spy on others without being spotted. I’m certain Mrs Beech picked up these tatty green curtains with red dots from a thrift store, along with the, almost matching, yellow glass vase. As the seasons change, she picks a flower from her neighbor’s yard (what harm can one do?) and places it in the jar. Never without less than two cats, her current felines Shadow and Tibbles, love to laze on the sill to catch a few rays. Her windows, however, could do with an upgrade. According to her neighbor, Milly Mullan, of flat number 6, Mrs Beech refuses to update her windows, and so poor Milly is forced to contend with the endless rattling on stormy nights. Milly Mullan and Mrs Beech are characters in my book, A Hint of Spring. The following is the opening paragraph of the first chapter which brings light to Milly’s stormy nights plight. A Hint of Spring, by Barbara Studham http://www.barbarastudham.com


Milly Mullan and Mrs Beech are characters in my book, A Hint of Spring. The following is the opening paragraph of the first chapter which brings light to Milly’s stormy nights plight regarding Mrs. Beech’s old windows.

Chapter 1 (copyrighted)

A furious winter storm screamed inland, whipping up the waves of the seaside town of Shanklin located on the Isle of Wight. The ancient windows of the Old Stone House situated only yards from the sea on Hope Beach vibrated from the gale force winds.

Before turning in that evening, Milly Mullan, a widowed retiree who recently moved from London to purchase flat number six in the old building, locked her balcony door against the storm’s wrath. She closed the curtains and went through to the kitchen to make a cup of hot chocolate.

Having applied her many years’ experience of interior design to renovate her flat’s décor, which included installing double-glazed windows, she resented her neighbor, Mrs Beech of number four, who staunchly refused to alter the character of the Old Stone House by keeping the original, ill-fitting windows. Therefore, every windy day and, worse, every stormy night, a ceaseless rattling echoed throughout the building.

Though Milly adored the soft breezes of Shanklin summers, she was not a big fan of dreary English winters. Given she was travelling the road to seventy years of age, she resented being holed up in her flat for several months every year while waiting for spring to arrive; a waste of what short time she had left that could otherwise be spent actively socializing outdoors.

Checking the balcony door one last time, she finished her hot chocolate and climbed into bed. Snuggling into the covers, she held her hot water bottle close. To drown out the clattering of Mrs Beech’s windows, she did what most people would do; she sunk her head deep into her pillow, pulled it tight around her ears, and thought happy thoughts. One of those thoughts was the upcoming fundraising gala she was soon to attend…..

A simple gala, you might say, but you would be wrong! Discover the ups and downs and insides and outs, including embezzling and murder during another Milly Mullan adventure in The Hint of Spring.

A Hint of Spring is the fourth in the Under the Shanklin sky English seaside series by Barbara Studham. . Milly 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. Available from AMAZON.

A Hint of Spring, by Barbara Studham. Part of the Under The Shanklin Sky series. Available from Amazon.

A Hint of Spring is the fourth in the Under the Shanklin Sky fiction series, and offers Milly Mullan a new adventure. 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. Or, was the killer 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.


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 two in the series titled THE SCHOOL DAY, and, FIDGET!

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

 

Memoir Writing Sessions to be held at Turner Park Library. www.barbarastudham.com


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From Journal to Memoir, by Barbara Studham

MEMOIR WRITING SESSIONS

FROM JOURNAL TO MEMOIR.

Wednesday, April 25th, May 2nd, and May 9th, 2018. 1:00-3:00 pm. 

Memoir Writing Sessions www.barbarastudham.com

Memoir Writing Sessions

On Wednesday April 25th, May 2nd, and May 9th, 2018. 1:00-3:00 pm I will be encouraging participants to write their memoir. The sessions will be held at Turner Park Library, 352 Rymal Road East, Hamilton, ON L9B 1C2

Even if you have never written before, you are welcome to attend to learn how to compile your memoir. Register at 905-546-4790, as seating is limited. When you have registered, mark the sessions on your calendar or phone. 


From Journal to Memoir, by Barbara Studham

posted, February 27th 2018


Brief summary of sessions From Journal to Memoir, by Barbara Studham

Session 1:
  • Getting to know the protagonistYOU!
  • Preparation Checklist.
  • Ready, Set, WRITE!
Session 2:
  • Adding Dialogue to memoir.
  • Minimize Adverbs and Adjectives!
  • Create a Chapter or two.
Session 3:
  • Expand your word count.
  • Promoting your memoir.
  • Publishing your memoir.

Register at 905-546-4790

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

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, by Barbara Studham www.barbarastudham.com


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Now In Print! Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, by Barbara Studham

Two choices:– ebook and printed version of

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, by Barbara Studham

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, by Barbara Studham www.barbarastudham.com

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, by Barbara Studham

Until today, my book Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years was only available in ebook format. People complained. They wanted a printed book they could hold in their hands, so here it is in paperback form.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, book blurb.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years is a sequel of Two Decades of Diapers. In both memoirs, author Barbara Studham gives insight into parenting children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a disorder caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. For more than twenty years, Barbara Studham has parented grandchildren with FAS. Through her wealth of experience with the disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years leads us through her desperation, fears, hopes, and prayers while coping with her grandchildren’s complex behaviors. However, Barbara would be the first to admit that while FAS brought a whirlwind of emotions into her life, her grandchildren’s struggle to cope with the disorder has far outweighed her trauma. Often labelled defiant, odious, caustic, and wayward, individuals with FAS are more victims of brain damage overwhelmed by the demands of everyday life, than the disposable people society deems them. If you are an individual parenting a child with FAS, a mental health worker, or someone who is interested in learning more about this distressing disorder, then Two Decades Of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years are essential reading.

Book specs:

Genre: Memoir, Category: Special Needs/Mental Health

Size: 5″ x 8″, Pages: 232

Cost: Print $9.99 (usd), Ebook $0.99 (usd)

Available from AMAZON. 

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

Twitter: @BarbaraStudham

 

veggie dish www.barbarastudham.com


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A Veggie Dish and a Crazy Lady, by Barbara Studham

Food and Fiction!

Ingredients for veggie dish www.barbarastudham.com

Ingredients for veggie dish

Watching documentaries on the abuse of farm animals wrenched my heart. Now I am doing my bit to cut down on meat by substituting entrees with vegetable dishes. Not an easy decision as I had no recipes for meatless dishes but, after scouring the Internet, it appears I now have access to thousands.

 

Meatless Recipe.

veggie dish www.barbarastudham.com

veggie dish

Check out the photo of my meatless pasta meal I cooked with a few ingredients. I changed the recipe to suit my taste, but it consists of lots of veggies, pasta, pasta sauce, and herbs. It is not over spicy and, therefore, a great introduction to veggie meals for children. Call me crazy, if you will, but I am pleased to find a way to do a bit toward my bit in reducing the suffering of animals.

A Veggie Dish and a Crazy Lady.

Not My Type, by Barbara Studham www.barbarastudham.com

Not My Type, by Barbara Studham

Another woman you might call crazy is Lisa Paige: the main character in my ebook titled Not My Type. A perfect addition to your meatless meal, and downloaded in minutes from AMAZON, Not My Type adds just the right amount of spice to your meal. You might be surprised to learn that the story for Not My Type arose out of a conversation between a friend and I. Short and sweet, this is how it went.

“For the life of me I can’t write fiction,” my friend said, shaking her head in disappointment. “Non-fiction I can, fiction never.”

“Instead of overthinking the process,” I suggested. “Why not sit quietly at your laptop and let the characters come to you.”

While she overthought my advice, I imagined that scenario actually happening. What if, while a writer meditated on a story, the characters literally appeared and wrote the book. Hence, Not My Type. Okay, I admit the story is as outlandish as my decision to become a vegetarian, but keep an open mind and try it. As food and fiction go so well together, you just might enjoy it. 

Not My Type book blurb.
Lisa Paige, is a respected non-fiction writer who envies the accolades bestowed upon her fiction-writing mother, Madge Paige. So much so that, while desperately trying her hand at fiction, writers’ block hits, and Lisa begins to hallucinate, causing fictional characters to come to life and visit her home. Frantically offering her bribes in return for inclusion in her book, the characters explain her refusal would result in their deletion within the fictional world. As characters compete for billing, murder and mayhem ensues, as each are in conflict and equally determined to be forefront in Lisa’s novel. But is there an alternate motive for their brawling? Does Lisa complete her work of fiction and find the fame she so desperately yearns? In Not My Type, discover how her fictional characters’ skirmishes bring a life-changing twist to Lisa’s future.

Well, there you have it: A Veggie Dish and a Crazy Lady, by Barbara Studham. Meatless dish recipes are found for free all over the Internet; Not My Type is available in ebook format from AMAZON for only $0.99 cents (usd). So treat yourself to FOOD and FICTION, by Barbara Studham.

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

Twitter: @BarbaraStudham

 

 

 

 

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