The Power of Using the Right Words

Many years ago, Louis Armstrong was asked how come he could play so well. His response was basically that he just let the notes come – they just had to be the right notes!

A similar theme was used by the advertisers of a well know alcoholic beverage a while back. Pretending to be the poet, William Wordsworth, an actor was filmed struggling with the opening line of a poem. He makes a number of false starts, including “I walked daffodils 2about a bit on my own,” but nothing seemed quite right. Then he had a sip of said beverage and was instantly inspired to write:

I wandered lonely as a cloud …” And a world famous poem was born.

Why am I telling you this? Partly because both anecdotes illustrate the enduring power of using the right words (notes) in the right places; something all writers struggle with on a daily basis (with or without recourse to the occasional tipple). And partly because I am off to Wordsworth country (The Lake District, UK) in the next few days. The daffodils will be gone by now, but who knows what inspiration for new work awaits me in the local hostelries?

So, in keeping with my growing holiday spirits, here is Wordsworth’s poem in full.

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the Milky Way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

daffodils 1

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, and would like to read more of my work, please go to one of my Amazon Author pages.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

 You can download Festive Treats for free at any time. This anthology includes one of my short stories, Mary’s Christmas.

Look out for my collection of Shakespeare themed short stories – Cast Off – due out later this year from Solstice Publishing. http://www.solsticepublishing.com

 

 

Meet Author Christopher Davis.

Over the next few months I plan to run a number of interviews with authors on my blog. All types of genres apart from extremes of gore or erotica (it’s a blog with a family viewing target audience after all!) To kick us off I’m pleased to introduce American Chris 3crime/ Western / Sci-fi (and other things in the mix) author, Christopher Davis.

Hi Chris!

Hello Margaret and thank you so much for having me. It’s always great to get out once in a while.

 What is the title of your latest book?

 There are two this year from Solstice Publishing, Walking to Chris 1Babylon and Ain’t No Law in California.

Walking to Babylon is a short crime novel, which is a retelling of a story that was published in a cancer anthology from England.

 Ain’t No Law in California has wanted to be a western for more than 8 years. A rewrite incorporating elements of sci-fi and steampunk found a home. So it’s traditional western with zombies and flying machines.

 Both stories take place in and around Las Vegas. It wasn’t planned that way.

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

 It’s a tough business no matter how you look at it.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

 Don’t do it kid! There are plenty of other ways to spend your many hours of time.

 What are you working on at the moment?

 At the moment, I’m rewriting a sequel to both of the stories above. The crime story will continue in Vegas where the other left off, To Watch a Man Die.

 The sci-fi western is yet untitled, but I hope to have it together soon.

What do you like to read?

 History, early American, military, Civil War. I sort of became a student of that war after living near Gettysburg for a few years. I do read a lot of indie crime too. King and Koontz are favorites.

Chris 2

 

Where can readers find you?

 Website    http://www.christopherdaviswrites.com/

Amazon Author Page        http://amzn.to/2rkyakt

Solstice Publishing   http://solsticepublishing.com/christopher-davis/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Solstice Reading

Welcome to another #SundayBlogShare.

It’s not the summer solstice yet – that’s still a couple of days off. But maybe it’s time to think about what to read if the day proves hot and sunny, and no one has any energy for anything more than to take a gentle snooze and read a story in a shady corner of the garden. Or, more likely in the UK, it’s pouring with rain, the barbecue has been cancelled, and you have to stay indoors, possibly with the heating on – so why not read something, and forget about the weather?

During the past few years I have written two short stories specifically for Solstice Publishing summer solstice anthologies. A Midsummer Day’s Dream, based on Shakespeare’s play with not quite the same title, appears in the anthology Let’s Have Fun Volume three. It will also be reproduced in my collection of short, Shakespeare themed stories, Cast Off, which will be published later in the summer. That story takes place on a hot sultry day, in contrast to the torrential rain that is the back drop to my other short story, Love in Waiting.

Love in Waiting appears in the anthology, Summer Thrills Summer Chills. It is also available from Amazon books as a stand-alone e-book for around £/$1.00. Here’s a taster.

Excerpt:

Love in WaitingCaro smiled when she heard the nurse’s voice fade away as she reached the doctors’ office. She turned back to the bed. Soon there would be a large cluster of medics and nurses in the little room but, for a few precious moments, it was just her and Ian.

“I don’t believe in miracles,” she told her husband. “I can’t stand Joyce. I’m sorry the solstice has been a complete wash out for the druids. I’m worried about the blocked drain back home. My hair’s a mess and I look like an anorexic scarecrow. But speaking personally, my love, today has been worth all the worry and waiting. Today is the best day of my life.”

Blurb:

Caro’s husband has been in a coma for months after a road accident. He had always intended to read James Joyce’s Ulysses, but never found the time. In desperation Caro starts reading it aloud at his bedside. But will it be enough to bring him round?

Links:

Love in Waiting: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00ZPJZNJO 

myBook.to/LoveInWaiting

Let’s Have fun 3 anthology

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01HBU1RQM

myBook.to/LetsHaveFun3

http://www.solsticepublishing.com

solstice logo (1)

 

Was P.G. Wodehouse a traitor?

PGWodehouseP.G. Wodehouse, creator of Bertie Wooster and the butler, Jeeves,  has been one of the most  popular writers of English comic fiction for decades. His books remain in print and are frequently adapted for television.

But during the Second World War he became deeply unpopular in Britain, owing to his alleged siding with the Nazis, and his work was banned from libraries and the BBC.  In 1940, he was living in Le Touquet, an enclave of Englishness on the French side of the channel complete with golf course and club. Being by all accounts extremely unworldly, Wodehouse appeared not to have noticed the outbreak of war, and the invasion of France. That is, until German troops arrived in Le Touquet and he was interned for a year (spending some of the time in an asylum for the mentally ill).

On his release he agreed to do a series of programmes on the Nazi radio station. Listening to these now, they sound like little more than dotty ramblings, and he utters no word of support for the German cause. But he did not denounce it either, so his broadcasts caused outrage in Britain.

Wodehouse himself says he agreed to do them to re-assure his fans that he was still alive, PGWodehouse.2and it is unlikely that he was a Nazi supporter (his story, Code of the Woosters, suggests he rather disapproved of Nazism). However his actions provoked an enquiry by MI5 after the war. This resulted in a decision that, whilst he could have done more to disassociate himself, he had not consciously assisted the enemy, so should not be prosecuted. The author subsequently went to live in America, where he continued to write. His reputation as a great comic writer was soon restored.

However, what is easily proved by reading his work (and is seen by some English language purists as a heinous treachery) is that he was prsonally responsible for a great number of American words and phrases entering common English usage this side of the pond:

Awol, bender, buckle down, hook line and sinker, on the blink, sitting pretty ... These words and phrases, and many more, first came to the attention of British readers via his books.

If you want to read more about American words used in Britain, a new book has been written by Matthew Engel, That’s the Way it Crumbles . If you want to read more of my work, please go to one of my Amazon Author pages: 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

Prices range from £/$0 – 15.00.

A short story for a summer day.

Today for my #SundayBlogShare I am sharing my short, unpublished, story for young readers, and knowing adults, called When God Came Calling.  

Blurb: A little girl starts praying for enough money to buy a pony. Only to be sadly disappointed.

When God Came Calling.

       I’ve done with praying. Mummy said God knows where she’d find the money for the rent, let alone buy me a pony, so I prayed every night for three months. Pony

‘Please God … (I said ‘Our Father’ too because Granny said he was a father to me as my own daddy went back up north when I was a baby.) ‘Our Father’ makes him sound more part of my family; someone who’d really want to help me and Mummy. Does that make him Mummy’s father too?

Every night after Mummy put me to bed and closed the door I’d jump out and kneel by the side of the bed, just like I’d seen in a picture at Granny’s house. I’d put my hands together and squeeze my eyes tight shut and pray really, really hard.

‘Please God, Our Father, give Mummy a house of her own with a field and a stable.’ I thought God would like it if I asked for something for Mummy, and didn’t ask for anything for myself, which Granny says is rude. But if he got Mummy sorted, and I saved my pocket-money all year, then I’d be able to buy the pony myself.

I saved for weeks and weeks. Granny gave me a £10.00 note to give to Mummy to help buy new shoes for me when I started in Year 6, and I put it in the box under my side of the bed along with the other money. I told Mummy I’d lost it after Granny had gone home. Mummy was really cross and I couldn’t go out to play for a whole week. But that made it easier to save my pocket-money. So it wasn’t much of a punishment really.

In three months I had nearly £30, including Granny’s shoe money. I didn’t know how much a pony would cost but I thought it couldn’t be more than £100.00. Of course, you have to buy tack and food as well, but I’ve got a birthday coming soon, and then it will be Christmas. I thought I could persuade Granny to give me money instead of knitting me something, so I kept telling her I’d got plenty of jumpers from last year that still fitted.

I saved hard and prayed hard and tried hard to be really good and not answer Mummy back so she wouldn’t stop my pocket-money, and I really, REALLY thought it was all going to work out.

But then God knocked the door one evening just after we’d had our tea. There was a loud ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!’ on the front door and Mummy stopped in the middle of washing up and her hand flew to her face as if a really hot splash had hit her in the mouth. Usually she tells me to answer the door but this time she said: ‘Stay where you are Anna,’ quite sternly and went to answer it herself. Mummy opened the door and I heard her say ‘Dear God, it’s you.’ Then she came back with God behind her, and she said ‘Anna, this is your father.’

He was tall and had a big beard and he said ‘How is my little angel?’ But he didn’t look at me when he said it; he only looked at Mummy in a cross sort of way. I cried and ran out of the room. I hadn’t expected God to look so scruffy and to smell like he’d traveled all the way from Heaven without his wash bag.

I heard Mummy and God talking downstairs. They talked quietly at first, but then they started shouting. I didn’t think it was a very holy way to carry on, but grown – ups often behave strangely – Mummy says ‘bugger’ a lot when she’s mad at someone – so I suppose gods can be funny too.

I crept into the bedroom and got out my secret box as I liked counting the money when I felt upset. I was wondering if I should go down and show it to God. Perhaps he’d be impressed and stop shouting at Mummy and answer my prayers even sooner than I’d hoped. But suddenly Mummy rushed into the room and grabbed her handbag.

‘I’m just popping out to the cash point with your father. Don’t answer the door while I’m out, and if Granny phones – tell her I’m in the bath.’ Then her eyes landed on all the money in my box.

‘Where the Hell did you get that?’

‘It’s mine,’ I tried to hide the box back under the bed but she was too quick for me.

‘Thank Heavens!’ she said. ‘Perhaps he’ll go back where he’s come from and leave us in peace for a bit if I give him this.’ (She used the ‘B’ word too, but I pretended not to notice). She scooped up the money and ran straight back out and gave it all to God. I heard him grunt as he let himself out of the house without even saying thank you to Mummy, though he did say over his shoulder ‘Kiss my little angel for me.’

So God has gone off with all my savings, and Mummy is crying on the sofa downstairs, and somehow I don’t think we’ll be moving to a house with a field and a stable any time soon.

If you have enjoyed this story, and would like to read more of my work, please go to one of my Amazon Book pages: 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00RVO1BHO

 

The Amazon myth.

An Amazon, as we all know, was a member of a tribe of women from classical Greek times. They were famed and feared because of their ferocious fighting techniques. To enhance which, they would cut off their right breast so that they could use their bows and arrows to greater effect.

AmazonVery little is known about their origins. Even the earliest histories had them reputedly living on the eastern shores of the Black Sea (so not in Greece at all). And paintings and sculptures depicting these Amazonian ladies show them with two breasts that, according to the historian Lyn Webster Wilde, “are usually firm and prominent.”

So that’s two myths busted.

But the myth of chief interest in a blog on the meaning of words, is that concerning their name. According to the fifth century BCE historian, Herodotus, the name came from two Greek words: ‘A’ meaning ‘without’; and ‘mastos’ meaning ‘breast.’ A later historian, Philostratus, demurred. He thought it probably meant ‘not breast fed.’ Others have variously suggested the name comes from ‘Ha-mazan’ (fighting together), or ‘Am-azon’ (mother lord).

Disappointingly though, the author of Women in Classical Athens, Susan Blundell, who has spent some time researching the origins and location of the Amazon race, has found no evidence that they ever existed at all. As a consequence, the meaning of their name also remains a mystery.

Yet so famous have they been through the ages that the largest river in South America is named after them (some explorers apparently transferred the search for them to this part of the world, but had to settle for re-naming a river). And Adrienne Mayor, in The Amazons, believes there really is archaeological evidence that there were female fighters, in the area of Europe known as Scythia to the Greeks.

The Amazon story captures the imagination, so no prizes for guessing one reason why this was the name chosen for the biggest online retail business and bookshop in the world. Another reason, of course, was that the CEO didn’t just want a catchy title, but one that came early in the alphabet, so would be quick to find on the Internet.

So the name lives on, and plays a big part in many people’s shopping habits. Quite a feat for a race of single breasted female warriors that probably never existed.

If you have enjoyed reading my blog, and would like the read more of my work, please go to my Amazon (that word again!) book page: 

N.B. Festive Treats, an anthology in which my story – Mary’s Christmas – appears, is currently free to download.

 

 

Getting teenagers to read.

Hello, and welcome to another ‘Happy Everybody Reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare.

Teenagers, or Young Adults as they are called when they are potential book readers, lead pretty full lives these days. School exams, sports and other after school activities, friends and parties and, perhaps dominating all of these, social media and computer games. Reading for pleasure doesn’t seem to get much of a look in.

There are exceptions of course – books by JK Rowling have a huge teenage following (not to mention avid adult readers). But I’m not sure whether it is the fact that Harry Potter was a boy wizard (and wizards etc. are very popular these days) or that, when she started writing about him, Harry was young enough to appeal to the pre-teen reader and they, once hooked, just carried on reading about him.

Of course there are still teenage book-worms around, but convincing Joe or Jo Ordinary that a few hours spent away from the phone or computer screen with a book is time well spent – fun even! – can be quite a challenge. Undaunted though, authors who write regularly for the YA category keep scribbling away. And we certainly cherish any reviews that young, or not so young, readers leave for us.

Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my contemporary YA novel Girl Friends. (Sorry, no wizards, but there are quite a few sinister and creepy human characters. And a burgeoning first romance).

Excerpt:

Talking with Laurence seems so natural; as if I had this kind of conversation with mates every day of the year. And yet so unreal. I keep pinching myself to check I really am in Café Nero, sipping coffee from a cup across a table from a fit looking boy and carrying on as if it is the most natural thing in the world for me to be here.  All the time though there a part of my brain saying ‘Look at the state of you, Cor. The day you are allowed to go to the college without wearing uniform you turn up in faded supermarket jeans, a shapeless T-shirt that could have probably done with a wash, and certainly benefited from being ironed, the black trainers you wear every day for school, and no make-up, because Mel and Josie have been messing with the few cosmetics you own, and they have ended up too disgusting to use again.’  Glamorous, I am not. Yet, here I am talking to a guy who seems really interested in what I have to say. Not that it’ll come to anything, of course. So I might as well enjoy it whilst it lasts—savour every minute and slot it in my memory bank to dream on when I get home. “…So what do you think, Courtney?” I jump. “Sorry?” “I just asked you if you wanted to meet up at the weekend—go to the park, have another coffee or something.” I gasp. “Not if you don’t want to, of course,” he adds hastily. “I’m going to be in town anyway on Saturday, so I just thought …” “Oh, I’ll be in town too. I always come in now to work in the library—things get a bit hectic at home …”

And here is a ***** review of the book left on Amazon Books in March 2017.

Girl Friends - coverThis book is truly a wonderful read. It starts early with a bleak portrayal of a typical evening in the life of Courtney Jacks; there is domestic abuse, alcoholism, and saturated fear throughout that first introductory chapter. But then you also immediately see what a good hearted person the main character, Courtney, is.
I think that this book touches on a lot of adult themes, but it is 100% something that Young Adults can and should read. There is the struggle to improve yourself, the delicate balance needed to maintain friends, how to overcome self-doubt, and most importantly of all is how to save a friend who needs saving.
By the end of the story, I cared deeply about all the characters, and in post-analysis of their development, found no critique but only praise for how well Margaret made every character into a brand new creation by the end of the book.
The book was very enjoyable from start to finish, and I heartily give it a 5 star review.

If you would like to read the book, here are the links: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01EX9DPMS or myBook.to/GirlFriends

Unsure? You may prefer to try a more fairy-tale short story as a taster – Sleeping Beauty. http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01CKKNG7Q  or myBook.to/TheSleepingBeauty