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Archie and the Witch's Nanny

As I mentioned in another post I have had the idea of writing a children's book to help explain dementia. I want to do it in a humorous way, but also in a way that will help children to understand and not be so frightened if a parent or family member is experiencing these symptoms. I want them to understand the person is still there inside but has an illness. This book will follow on from 'Archie and the Witch's Spell'. 

This is my first 'word vomit' love that term as it very accurately describes first attempt! I would like some feedback please on the ideas I have included in this first chapter, and the first reference to Nanny's onset of dementia. Its only about 700 words and may need more, probably aiming for about 1000/1500 words for MG. Here goes gulp:

Archie and the Witch’s Grandma

Chapter 1 – The Birthday Party

The BBQ was certainly in full swing. Archie and his friend Green Eye, both stared longingly up at the sky as a string of pork sausages, crackling and popping, whizzed through the air. The waft from the meat cooking nearby made Archie’s mouth water, his tummy rumbled in anticipation.  ‘How do you like your steak cooked, Archie?’ called Ruby. ‘Well done, please’ he replied. Archie thought about the steaks his aunt cooked at home, oozing with blood, almost alive, his stomach turned over. ‘Ruby, can I have it very, very well done, please’ Ruby laughed and replied, ‘OK burnt it is!’

Archie smiled to himself, who would have thought it, a witch and a cat, his two best friends in the world. Archie thought about his mum and dad, they would have loved Ruby and Green Eye. Yes it might have taken them some getting used to the idea that their son had slightly unusual friends,  Ruby a Witch, and a cat that could talk, but eventually, they would have come to see what he saw, friendly, caring and loyal friends. He missed mum and dad so much, if only they hadn’t been driving that night. He pushed these thoughts to the back of his mind, he didn’t want to be sad today, not at Nanna witches two hundredth birthday party. 

He had started to count the number of witches, wizards and children who were there to celebrate this fantastic occasion, but he gave up as he couldn’t keep track of who he had counted and who he hadn’t. There were so many, certainly more than a hundred people and of course almost as many cats. He wasn’t a witch or a wizard, and not a direct member of the family, however Nanny Porshina had insisted that Ruby invite him to her birthday party. She had given him a big wet slobbery kiss when he arrived, he had felt his face redden with embarrassment and quickly wiped the spit from his face while she wasn’t looking. Although embarrassed he felt a warm glow, he was part of an extraordinary group. 

‘Archie your steak is ready’ said Ruby, it was cooked to perfection. Archie looked over at Green Eye and he was tucking into a juicy tuna burger which oozed tomato ketchup. ‘How can you have tomato ketchup with Tuna’ thought Archie, yuk. His steak was like biting into butter, tender and juicy but no red bits. As he savoured every mouthful, he watched a game the children were playing, called ‘Jump the Broomstick’. The game involved jumping over a broomstick hanging in mid-air. every now and then the broomstick would say something trying to put them off their jump like ‘Susan’s got dirty knees’ or ‘Nora’s a cry baby’ or it would suddenly move higher to make it more difficult. Whoever could make the most jumps without falling off won the game.

A drum sounded and a cake the size of a house came out into the garden. All eyes turned to look, exploding from the centre of the cake was Nanny porshina! Everyone clapped and cheered and started singing happy birthday. Nanny Porshina looked overwhelmed! She started to thank everyone for coming, but then a strange thing happened, she stopped, looked around and said, ‘Why are you all here?’ There were a few giggles from the children, and the adults seem to think she was joking until Ruby ran forward. ‘Mum, mum, it’s your birthday, don’t you remember?’ Nanny Porshina thought for a moment, Archie saw a brief look of confusion in her eyes before she said ‘Of course, of course, silly me, now everyone must have a good time’. He still wasn’t sure if she was joking or not. The laughter and fun quickly resumed but Archie saw that Ruby was worried. 

Green Eye looked fleetingly at Ruby, there was a knowing look shared between them, one that Archie was not a part of. ‘Archie come on let’s go and get some cake’ said Green Eye. It was a good attempt to cover up so that Archie wouldn’t ask questions, but Archie knew something was wrong. Archie decided not to press for more information, he would do so when the time was right, and a party was not the right time.

 Some of the adult witches were having a three-legged race, but their three-legged race was nothing like the one at school sports day. Each Witch had cast a spell and grown a third leg; Archie couldn’t stop laughing they looked so funny with their black pointed hats and three legs protruding from their long black robes. Even Nanny Porshina was taking part! 

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Replies (16)
  • Debbie, so warm, so happy, and a twinge of saddness thrown in with Archie's mum and dad. I loved this, Debbie. His friend is Green Eye. What is he, description so we can place him? Same with Nanny Porshina. Short and fat, grey haired with a blank face? I think this story could be great, I really do. I want to read more.

    Debbie I have attached a marked-up word file. Please excuse my numerous corrections. I have tried to make it sharper and easier to read for the kids. Shorter sentences are good in this age group. Please post your next chapter, Rob.

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    • Hi Robert thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. It’s really good of you to take the time to look at my word vomit!! I wrote this at about 1.00pm last night when I couldn’t sleep! I know from your previous posts you use a specific edit program and I was wondering if it was with me getting? However I’m not very PC literate so if it’s very different from word or complicated in any way I’ll struggle and it may hamper rather then help, what do you think? In your attachment I couldn’t see the revisions are they supposed to be highlighted? Sorry for being so ignorant of these things but I’m an oldie but goodie! Ha,ha. 😂😂  once again thanks.

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    • I just checked it, Debbie. It is definitely marked-up in track changes. Open the file and click review at the top. It should be fine if you then click 'show mark-up.'

      Anyway, you are welcome. If you like the mark-up, take your time to learn as it is terribly easy.

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      • Thanks. I was looking on my iPad so will check on word .

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      • Debbie, it is not difficult. Prowritingaid.com so give it a try. Just upload your file, that may be difficult for you, so just copy your text and past it in = control+V. It tells you what to do. In my attachment, about 80% are the editors work, and 20% mine.  what you think.

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        • Hi Robert thanks for this. .I have taken all but one of the changes on board. I decided not to use his the bit about saliva in his mouth as I wanted to portray his dislike for the sight of blood in the steak I thought the way it had been altered seemed to imply he liked it. Apart from that all good so I will try looking at Prowwritingaid.com. I also agree I need to say more about Nanny Porshina and how she looks. Once again thanks, I feel encouraged to continue.

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          • Hi Robert have just downloaded and tried using Prowritingaid! It’s great! Thanks for encouraging me to use it.

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          • Hi Debbie,

            I really liked this! As Robert said, it's got a lovely heartwarming and kind atmosphere to it, and the sadness of Archie's lost parents and Nanny Porshins's confusion is just enough to cut through the overall sweetness with a hint of sadness.

            What fun the witches' party must be! And as someone who lives with cats myself, I felt very quite jealous of Archie having a talking cat as a friend! In fact, I actually wanted a bit more of both the magic and Green Eyes. The best bits of the party, for me, were the teasing broomstick and the literal three-legged race! I wonder if there's scope to add even more of this into the scene... along with all the different characters of the witches? Perhaps all the food is different from our own mundane fare, more like the flying sausages! And it would be lovely if Green Eyes and Archie's relationship was up front and centre... as befits the best friends they obviously are.

            It's a first draft (and a 1am first draft too - that's commitment!!). So I won't nit-pick the technical aspects of the 'word vomit'! 😂  I'll only mention the dialogue mark-up, which did take some working out, as I was reading. This draft has multiple speakers within single paragraphs, which makes it a bit difficult to work out who's speaking at any one time.

            The first paragraph, for instance, would be easier to parse if it was split like this.

            ****

            The BBQ was certainly in full swing. Archie and his friend Green Eye both stared longingly up at the sky as a string of pork sausages, crackling and popping, whizzed through the air. The waft from the meat cooking nearby made Archie’s mouth water, and his tummy rumbled in anticipation. 

            ‘How do you like your steak cooked, Archie?’ called Ruby.

            ‘Well done, please,’ he replied. Archie thought about the steaks his aunt cooked at home, oozing with blood, almost alive, and his stomach turned over. ‘Ruby, can I have it very, very well done, please.’

            Ruby laughed and replied, ‘OK, burnt it is!’

            ****

            But that stuff's what editing is for! 😄  And if you can get Robert's suggestion of Prowritingaid to work for you, it'll do most of the work. 

            But a lovely start to a story with a very worthwhile purpose, and the characters are already very appealing. Really lovely. Thanks for sharing.

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            • hank you so much Jon for your positive reaction and for taking time to read this. I agree with your comments and I want to flesh out the chapter so will add more of your suggestions in along with the suggestions made by Robert, particularly on how Nanny Porshina looks and dresses this could be very funny and tie in with dementia. Maybe she has her robe on inside out?? just a thought.

              My first book which is 'Archie and the Witch's Spell' explains the relationships and how they met, but your right more is needed up front around their friendship. I'm having a one to one for this first book in July. I've learnt so much from the festival since I sent my manuscript off, I  know there will be lots of editing to do! I'm hoping I will find an editor by Christmas! Thanks once again.


                





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              • Get to work, Debbie. Write some more and send it in. I want to read about Nanny with here clothes stuck in the top of her nickers. That would give Archie a laugh. Seriously, I'd love to read more. Jon is correct, it's a draft so draft away and worry about the rest later.

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                • Hi Robert yes I think I will need to burn the midnight oil again! while out jogging (well fast walk) I had some ideas for chapters which will follow the progression of dementia. In brief here are some ideas: Nanny is forgetting words so spells go excessively wrong, a visit to MacDonalds with Nanny, Green Eye has to go in a bag as cats are not allowed, Nanny keeps forgetting she‘s ordered and they end up with hundreds of burgers! Archie takes Green Eye to school, Green Eye saves him from the bullies Nanny goes walk about and gets lost, Archie and Green Eye find her back at her old home from childhood, Ruby can’t cope, the old witches home take her in. Archie build his relationship with his grandad. By the way I love the idea of nanny’s dress in her knickers! Thanks again.

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                • Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! You've got the touch Debbie. I can't stop laughing about the hundreds of burgers. Poor Nanny. Oh, God. I'm still laughing. Nanny gets lost. Haaaaaaaaaaaa! I know it's not funny really, Poor Ruby can't cope. Get on with it Debbie. A hundred hamburgers feeds a lot of witches, and cats in britches, and all the little tadpoles swiming in the ditches.  

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                  • Hi Debbie, I love the playful tone of this and the ideas for subsequent chapters. I think it'll work great as a chapter book - could possibly also be simmered down into a beautiful picture book. I'm sure a lot of illustrators would have a fabulous time depicting Nanny Porshina exploding from the cake!

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                    • Thanks Pip. I Was think chapter book with black and white illustrations .

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                    • Debbie, I've just read your story (but not yet others' comments) and I must say you have a very good storytellers' voice. You are a natural. The story flows well, has a good pace and suspense. The setup is good, we have faces, sounds and smells... We know there is something else... not quite right, and you have forshadowed it very well.

                      And it doesn't need a lot of editing in my opinion. Sometimes it's like we have a little gnome sitting on our shoulder dictating the story, isn't it? You have to write it. You must. I can see it becoming popular and the theme sure will be of educational interest.

                      Go Debbie! Go!


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                      • That is so kind of you. I am passionate about dementia as my father had it! I'm about to post the completed first chapter for comment, hope you like it. Thanks again.

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