Debbie Etherington

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I am a new writer and I have one short children’s book published on Amazon and have written a second book called ‘Archie and the Witches Spell’. Like many out there I’m looking for an agent and awaiting my one-to-one for edit purposes. I have started a third book recently, working title ’Archie and the Witch’s Nanny’. I’m excited to write this, as I’m trying to address dementia from a child’s perspective. I want to make it less frightening for them and give them some idea of what to expect should they meet anyone with this terrible diesase. I am doing this in a humorous but sensitive manner, using Nanny Porshina, a two hundred year old Witch who is showing signs of dementia. Archie, his friend Green Eye a cat, and Ruby the Witch learn not to be alarmed and to realise Nanny is still inside, even if she has changed on the outside. 

In a past life I ran my own training business and I am now a carer for my husband. Writing has been very therapeutic for me during some very difficult times.  I have a new puppy, he’s now eight months old and keeps me busy, I adore him, my new boyfriend!! 😂 I love travelling, socialising, theatre, reading, eating and drinking, especially a nice glass of wine or G&T. I’m an Essex girl, keen to learn and yes blonde! Happy writing.

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Just been watching Master Chef perhaps we should have something like this for writers? Could be fun!
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  •  · Great thinking Bella. Perhaps Harry could be Gregg Wallace, 😂
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Chapter 8 – An afternoon with Ruby Archie tried to put the thoughts of McDonalds to the back of his …
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  •  · Thanks Kate, I really appreciate the feedback.
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i have got to the part of my children's book where I start to really mention dementia. The book is a…
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  •  · Funnily enough Rob the trip to Macdonalds ends up with Nanny ordering loads of burgers because she c…
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Chapter Two. If anyone has time feedback please.Chapter twoIt had been two weeks since the BBQ, and …
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  •  · Hi I have messaged you with chapter three if you wouldn’t mind having a loo. I have also messaged my…
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Having taken on the feedback received from some of you which I found very helpful, thank you all. I …
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  •  · HI Paul many thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes I will take your suggestions on board. I kno…
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As I mentioned in another post I have had the idea of writing a children's book to help explain deme…
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  •  · Hi Robert have just downloaded and tried using Prowritingaid! It’s great! Thanks for encouraging me …
Debbie Etherington
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Just been watching Master Chef perhaps we should have something like this for writers? Could be fun!

Chapter 8 – An afternoon with Ruby

 

Archie tried to put the thoughts of McDonalds to the back of his mind. The picture of Nanny Porshina crying on the floor kept replaying in his thoughts, and it made him feel helpless. He decided that a visit to Ruby and Green Eye might cheer him up. He made his way to their cosy little flat near the marketplace. He rapped hard on the door, the knocker was made of gold and shaped like a cat’s eye. Ruby came to the door and said ‘Archie, what a pleasant surprise, come on in’. Green Eye was sitting at the table, playing a game on his tablet. Ruby looked as if she was in the middle of concocting some new potion to sell on her stall. There were bottles and pans, some with gloopy stuff in, boiling on the stove.

‘To what do we owe the pleasure’ said Ruby. Green Eye finally looked up from his tablet. In a voice that didn’t sound convincing, Archie said. ‘No reason, I just thought I’d pop in.’ Green Eye studied his good friend and said, ‘What’s up?’ Archie thought, damn Green Eye knows me too well. Green Eye looked at him in a quizzical way and said, ‘I can tell something isn’t right Archie, come on spill the beans.’

Archie swallowed, he was just about to tell them about his concerns regarding Nanny Porshina, when she appeared. ‘Is that Davey?’ she said. Green Eye corrected her, ‘Nanny its Archie’. She asked again, ‘Is that Davey?’ Green Eye corrected her a second time. Nanny kept asking the same thing repeatedly. It was getting frustrating. Ruby suddenly stopped what she was doing and said, ‘Nanny, can you help me with the stirring?’ She cradled her hand and guided her towards the pots and pans. Nanny seemed to forget her question and happily stirred the pots, singing to herself. Ruby said, ‘Sometimes she gets stuck in a loop, repeating what she’s said over and over. This is one symptom of dementia. All you have to do is distract her to take her mind off of it’.

 Archie looked down. He knew he had to ask, although he really didn’t want to. ‘Is Nanny going to get better?’  ‘Sit down,’ said Ruby.  Green Eye came over to sit alongside him. ‘I’m afraid not. Dementia can get progressively worse and affects her memory and her behaviour.’ A tear fell down Archies cheek and he did nothing to hide it. This was devastating news. ‘Can’t the doctors do anything?’ he asked.  Ruby replied, ‘No Archie, but they are making discoveries in medicine all the time, maybe one day there will be a cure.’ ‘Can’t you cast a spell and make her better?’ said Archie. Ruby smiled tenderly, ‘No Archie, magic will not help in this situation, but never forget, she is still Nanny and somewhere deep inside she is still the Nanny we know and love.

Archie felt he wanted to run away and curl up somewhere, he wanted to hide from all of this. It was so unfair. Ruby said, ’ Archie, remember she is two hundred years old and has had a fantastic life. Witches don’t live forever. What we must do now is make her comfortable and able to live the rest of her life in a safe environment.

‘What does that mean?’ said Archie. Ruby replied, ‘She will go to live in the Home for Old Witches. We can visit her anytime. It is a lovely place where they are exceedingly kind, and they will know how to look after her’. Archie took a while to consider this information. ‘You mean she will not live here’. Ruby and Green Eye nodded, Green Eye put his paw around his friend to comfort him. Out of the blue, Nanny said ‘Archie, what fun we had under the sea, we must do it again.’ Then she turned back to her pot and continued stirring the gloop. ‘Come Archie’, said Green Eye, ‘let’s play the game ‘Call of duty’ on my tablet, bet I can beat you’. It was a good attempt to take Archie’s mind off of the subject, and it surprised Archie at how quickly it worked.

Eventually it was time for Archie to leave, and he said goodbye to his friends. Nanny said, ‘Archie, you will come and visit me in my new home, won’t you?’ Now she seemed so normal, as if nothing were wrong at all. This disease was so confusing.

A few days later, Archie received a note posted through the door from Green Eye, Nanny had now gone to live in the home for old witches, called ‘Middle Acres’. They were visiting her on Friday if he wanted to join them. The note explained directions and what to expect when he got there, it read:

The building is in ‘Welling Road’. There is no obvious gate to the building, but a brick wall surrounds it. You must count ten bricks from the bottom and knock hard. It doesn’t matter which part of the wall you knock at, but it must be ten bricks up. A gate will appear and open. You will then see two enormous stone statues of witches and a path leading to the front door. The two statues will come to life and cross their broom sticks in front of you. You must say the passwords to get past them, it is ‘Nettles, kettles and bats.’ You must say it exactly like this or they will not let you in, they may even turn you into stone. Once you have got past them, you follow the path to the front door. Flying above, you will see security bats. They are there to prevent unwanted intruders and give off a very high-pitched noise that stops you in your tracks. At the front door knock loudly and a witch will greet you asking you for another password. This password is ‘Frog Farts’. Once they are happy you are friendly, they will ask who you want to see and let you in. We will already be there. She is in room 10001. Good luck, hope to see you there.

Your Good friend
 Green Eye.

Archie read the note several times. Yes, he would love to visit but was slightly afraid, he better note the passwords down, he didn’t want to get them wrong. He thought about what he would take to Nanny Porshina as a housewarming gift. He would try to get some of his aunt’s home-baked biscuits, and he would pick some flowers from the garden to welcome her into her new home. He hoped it was a pleasant home, but from Green Eyes note, it sounded quite scary.

1125 words

i have got to the part of my children's book where I start to really mention dementia. The book is aimed at 7-10 year olds, a chapter book. I want them to start to understand dementia and not be frightened. What do you think, is it sensitive enough? This chapter is only short, 750 words.

Chapter Five - Getting Home

Archie and Green Eye had been looking for Nanny Porshina for over an hour, with no luck. They had searched in amongst the thick seaweed, growing at the bottom of the sea; they had looked under rocks; they had peered into black holes, and they had asked every fish that swam past them if they’d seen her. The dolphins had been extremely helpful, ferrying them around on their backs, but now they were exhausted. Bottle, who was the eldest, said it was time for them to go home. Green Eye asked Bottle if they could do one last favour, take them back to Mr Clippers house. Archie now felt tearful, he just wanted to get home.

As they approached Mr Clippers house, they couldn’t believe their eyes! Nanny Porshina was sitting having tea with Mrs Clipper, they seemed to be swapping cake recipes! Archie felt his blood boil. How dare she leave them and frighten them like that! He was so angry he couldn’t stop himself blurting out, ‘Nanny, don’t you think it was selfish of you leaving us without saying where you were going? We have been very worried; we’ve been looking for you everywhere?’ Nanny Porshina looked bewildered and said crossly, ‘And who might you be?’ Green Eye took her hand and said ‘Nanny it’s Green Eye and Archie, don’t you remember? ‘Nanny got even more cross and shouted angrily LEAVE ME ALONE! I don’t know who you are’. Archie had never seen Nanny Porshina this way, and he wanted to cry.

Mr Clipper appeared, Archie saw his pincers moving frantically back and forth.  Green Eye noticed Archie looked afraid, he said, ‘Don’t get upset Archie, this is all part of the illness I was telling you about called Dementia. She doesn’t mean it, it’s her brain playing tricks’.   Gently Green Eye placed his paws around her face and stared into her eyes, ‘It’s me Nanny, Green Eye’. After a moment she seemed to calm down and recognised him. Mr Clipper smiled a knowing smile at Green Eye, he said, ‘Well done Green Eye, you are learning how to handle her illness.’ Mrs Clipper wiped a tear from her eyes and fondly looked over at her husband.

 Nanny didn’t seem to notice any of this. She then said in a very matter-of-fact way, ‘Green Eye, Archie, where have you been, you naughty boys. It’s no time to play hide and seek, we have got to get home’. Archie felt so confused, she seemed like two different people. One was kind and caring, the other was cross and angry, it frightened him. He realised he needed to find out more about this illness called Dementia.  Relieved that she had at last remembered who they were, he now wished she would get him back to the safety of his bedroom. They all said goodbye to the Clipper family, and as quickly as it had all started, the adventure finished.

 The sea swirled, and once again the fish became his wardrobe, his chest of drawers and his bed.  He was now home in is pyjamas and the book lay safely tucked away underneath him. He thought maybe he’d been dreaming, but he could see his wet swimming trunks hanging on the radiator. He wanted to speak with Green Eye, he wanted to find out more about Nanny’s illness, but that would have to wait until their next meeting. He shivered at the thought of how angry she had become; it seemed so unfair of her brain playing these unkind tricks.

Archie started to wonder if he should still go ahead with his trip to Macdonald’s for tea. Maybe he should ask Ruby what she thought? He then remembered the way the fish had lovingly greeted her, and how concerned she had been about the baby octopuses. Maybe a lapse of memory from time to time really wasn’t anything to be afraid of. Deep down she was still a kind lady, full of fun. Yes, he would still take her, she deserved a treat. His tummy rumbled, he loved MacDonald’s, especially the cheeseburgers with BBQ sauce and the strawberry milk shakes. He knew Green Eye would love them too.

He snuggled under his duvet, enjoying the feeling of being safely back in all that was familiar. As he pictured his juicy cheeseburger, a voice from under the bed said in a soft whisper, ‘Good night Archie, sleep well. Thank you for all your help.’  Archie replied, ‘Goodnight Nanny Porshina.’ Smiling, he closed his eyes and dropped into a deep, deep sleep.

Chapter Two. If anyone has time feedback please.

Chapter two

It had been two weeks since the BBQ, and Archie couldn’t wait to see Green Eye. He’d had a fantastic idea. It was his tenth birthday next week, and he thought it would be really nice to take Green Eye, Ruby and Nanny Porshina to MacDonald’s for tea. He would have to spend his actual birthday with his aunt, uncle and his brother Felix and possibly grandad. His birthday was on Friday, maybe he could go out with his friends on the Saturday.
 Archie made his way to the market stall where Green Eye and Ruby worked, selling potions and creams which Ruby had made to cure most illnesses. There were bottles with green slimy gloop in, creams the colour of chocolate. Hanging from the roof were dried spiders on string and trinkets made in the shape of the moon and stars.  ‘Psst, Psst, over here’ whispered Archie, beckoning Green Eye to one side. with an impatient tone Green Eye replied ‘What? I’m working, you know how angry Ruby can get if I get side tracked’ Archie knew only too well that Ruby had a temper, when they had first met she had threatened to turn him into a pig for accidently bumping into her. ‘Yes, I know, but this is important, can you meet me at the ‘Rat’ café?’ Green Eye pulled a face raising his eyes to the ceiling, but said ‘OK meet me in ten minutes, I’m due a break.

 Archie found a table with two seats and sat down ready to order. ‘Hi Archie, what can I get you?’ said a ginger cat dressed as a waiter. He had a long curly moustache, was wearing a white apron, and had a pad and pen in hand ready to write the order down. ‘Hi Carlos, can I have an apple juice, please?’ Archie fondly remembered the first time he had visited this café, it was when he had first become friends with Green Eye. That was the most exciting day of his life. Cats were talking to one another, Witches sat sipping drinks and sharing snacks.  At first, he had thought he was hearing and seeing things, talking cats he thought, could not be real. He was wrong. Witches cats, he found out, can talk, and Green Eye could talk and talk, sometimes he went on and on without stopping. It didn’t matter to Archie; Green Eye was his best friend.

As Archie savoured these thoughts Green Eye appeared and sat down. He ordered an enormous glass of milk with added sprinkles and chocolate on top. ‘Well, this better be good, and be quick Archie, I only have fifteen minutes for my break’. Archie felt a surge of excitement. He stumbled over his words, but finally got them out. ‘It’s my birthday next week, and I’d like you, Ruby and Nanny Porshina to come to Macdonald’s with me.  You can have whatever you like, a burger, chicken nuggets, oh and I think they do Fish burgers.  Green Eye didn’t answer straight away and Archie was starting to think he didn’t want to come. ‘That’s gonna be difficult’. ‘Why’ said Archie. ‘Well unlike here, cats aren’t allowed in human restaurants’. Archie’s face fell in disappointment. ‘You could try and sneak me in?’ said Green Eye. Archie’s face lifted again, and he looked intrigued ‘But how?’ he said. ‘Nanny Porshina has a gigantic carpet bag she carries with her, she could put me into the bag and feed me from the top. ‘Do you think it will work?’ said Archie. ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained, we can only try’ said Green Eye. ‘I’ll tell Nanny Porshina and Ruby and we’ll meet you there on Saturday at mid-day, see you soon birthday boy.’


 Friday arrived, and Archie jumped around the room in excitement. Ten, ten! Double figures! He felt very grown up. Now he was old enough to go out on his own, old enough to choose his own clothes, old enough to do the things he couldn’t do when he was nine. Running down the stairs he bumped into Felix his brother who started to sing happy birthday the ‘you look like a monkey who comes from the zoo’ version! Sitting down for breakfast a stack of his favourite pancakes was placed in front of him and a large glass of fresh orange juice. Presents sat on the table wrapped in some Avenger heroes wrapping paper. Archie kept looking at them in anticipation, but his aunt had said he had to eat breakfast first before opening them. The pancakes were very filling, and Archie rubbed his tummy trying to push them down. ‘Ok go ahead’ said his aunt. Felix had bought him one a game for his computer, kit was one that had only just come out. Archie went to hug Felix, but Felix moved away, he didn’t do sentiment. His aunt and uncle had given him thirty pounds to buy something with. Great thought Archie, that will help to buy the MacDonald’s. Grandad had bought him a West ham United football shirt, that was the team grandad supported. Archie guessed he would also have to support them now although he really liked Manchester United.

Later, in the afternoon, his aunt presented him with a cake, made in the shape of a number ten. Felix, much to the disapproval of his aunt and uncle, said ‘Archie you can have a sip of my beer if you like?’ Archie couldn’t contain his excitement; this was the most grown-up thing he had ever done. He sipped the beer, swishing it around his mouth to get the full taste. Suddenly he ran to the kitchen sink, spat it out and said ‘That’s disgusting, how can adults like the stuff.’ Everyone laughed and for a moment he blushed, feeling rather silly. ‘I think I’ll stick to my Apple juice for now’ and joined in with their laughter.


There was a loud knock on the door, and Aunt Lucy went to answer it. Archie heard a voice say, ‘Does Davey live here?’ Archie ran to the door, ‘Ah there you are Davey.’ Archie stared intensely at the woman. She wore a blue skirt and Jacket, she looked like any other grandma. Only she wasn’t! It was Nanny Porshina! Green Eye was standing beside her and quickly corrected Nanny, ‘She means Archie’ he said. Aunt Lucy was about to close the door, when Archie said ‘Hello Miss Porshina, how nice of you to come and visit me today, aunt Lucy this is one of my teachers from school’. He gave a little cough to cover his lie and glared at Green Eye. Aunt Lucy smiled and said, ‘Oh hello, would you like to come in'?’ Nanny Porshina was about to say yes, when Green Eye nudged her, making her wobble a little. ‘No, we can’t stay, I just wanted to have a quick word with Da….. Archie and give him a birthday card’. ‘Thats very kind of you, there aren’t many teachers who would do that, I’ll leave you to chat’. Archie’s mind was racing. He’d never seen Nanny Poshina look so, well, normal. He noticed however that she had her blouse was on inside out. ‘Archie heard singing from around the corner, a kind of croaky gravelly voice, ‘Haaaaaappppppyyyyy, birrrrrthdddday to youuuu, haaaaaapy birrrthdddday to youuuu’. heading straight for him was a singing goat! Nanny Porshina beckoned him to come closer. ‘This is Billy, the singing goat’ I hired him for a birthday gram. The goat got louder and louder, and Archie wondered if any of the neighbours could hear. He finished with a loud grunt and then did a bow at the end. Archie clapped enthusiastically. Nanny Porshina then reached into her large carpet bag and said ‘I also have a little present for you, but you musn’t open it until you are on your own, its very special. I wanted to give it to you because you were so kind to me at my party when I got a little confused’. She bent down and kissed him. This time Archie didn’t wipe the spit from his cheek. He felt honoured to have her as a friend.
 Later he sat in his bedroom looking at the parcel, carefully wrapped in gold paper. It said from Nanny Porshina and Green Eye. His hands trembled. He really didn’t know what to expect.

Felix, his brother, burst through the door. ‘Come on Archie, your missing all the fun, we are bowling on the Wi, I’m winning’! Archie looked longingly at the gift but placed it on the bed. He would look at it tonight when all was quiet.

Having taken on the feedback received from some of you which I found very helpful, thank you all. I have finished the first chapter which will still need an edit, but I hope you like it. Comments/feedback please. Approx 1300 words.

Chapter 1 – The Birthday Party

The BBQ was 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. Green Eye winked at Archie. ‘Come on, let’s chase those sausages.’ As they followed the direction of the sausages, bumping into guests on the way, one of the sausages turned to look at them and laughed and said, ‘Ha, ha, you can’t get me!’. That only made Green Eye even more determined. Archie found himself having a fit of uncontrollable giggles, he had to stop running, he was laughing so much. ‘Come on slow coach’ said Green Eye, just at that moment he leapt high into the air, grabbed a couple of the sausages and tossed one to Archie. Over on a nearby table were some tasty looking sauces and buns. Archie was ready to fill a bun with the ‘runaway sausage,’ but stopped as he got closer. The buns appeared to have ants in them, and the sauces were all made from different types of bugs and spiders. He decided to give these a mis.  

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. Archie thought about the steaks his aunt cooked at home, oozing with blood, almost alive. His stomach turned over at the thought of the blood. ‘Ruby, can I have it very, very well done, please’ Ruby laughed and replied, ‘OK burnt it is!’

Archie smiled to himself, who would believe a witch and a cat could be his two best friends in the world. Archie remembered his mum and dad. They would have loved Ruby and Green Eye. Yes, his slightly unusual friends may have taken them time to get used too, Ruby, a Witch, and a cat that talked, but eventually they would see what he saw, friendly, caring and loyal friends. He missed mum and dad so much. If only they weren’t driving that night. He pushed these thoughts to the back of his mind. Today, he didn’t want to be sad, not at Nanna Witch’s two hundredth birthday party.

He had counted 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 counted and who he hadn’t. There were so many, more than a hundred people, and of 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 gave him a big wet slobbery kiss when he arrived. Quickly, as his face reddened, he had wiped the spit from his face while she wasn’t looking. Although embarrassed, a warm glow filled his heart, as he was part of an extraordinary group.

‘Archie your steak is ready’ said Ruby. She had cooked it to perfection. Archie looked over at Green Eye and he was tucking into a juicy tuna burger, which oozed tomato ketchup. ‘How can you eat tomato ketchup with Tuna’ thought Archie, yuk. His steak was like biting into butter, tender and juicy, but thankfully 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. 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 made the most jumps without falling off, won the game. Over in the distance two wizards played some sort of sword game. Archie couldn’t believe what he was looking at, both wizards were fighting with their heads cut off, they were tucked under their arms! 

The famous band ‘The Bogey broomsticks’ played music at the back of the garden, the atmosphere was happy, happy, happy! A drum sounded, and a cake the size of a house arrived in the garden. All eyes turned to look, as Nanny Porshina exploded through the top, arms up and laughing! Everyone clapped and cheered and started singing happy birthday. She had long dangling spider earrings on, a red pointed hat and wore a fashionable green cloak over a mini skirt and crop top! Archie thought she was amazing for her age! As nanny Porshina looked around the vast number of guests she seemed overwhelmed. She thanked everyone for coming and blew kisses out to the crowd.  A strange thing then happened, she stopped, looked around again and said, ‘Why are you all here?’ There were a few giggles from the children, and the adults seem to think she was joking, Ruby ran forward. ‘Mum. Mum, it’s your birthday, don’t you remember?’ Nanny Porshina thought for a moment. Archie glimpsed a look of confusion in her eyes before she said ‘Of course, of course, silly me, now everyone must have a happy time’. As she climbed down from the top of the cake he still didn’t know if she had been joking. The laughter and fun quickly resumed, but Archie saw that it had worried Ruby.

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 get some cake’ said Green Eye. It was a good attempt to stop Archie from asking questions, but Archie knew something was wrong. He decided not to press for more information, but would at a better time, not when everyone was having fun at the party.

Some adult witches enjoyed a three-legged race, but their 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! Her mini skirt looked even funnier with the extra leg, and her crop top kept falling down as she ran! 

The band continued to play, and people were now dancing in a circle. Green Eye grabbed hold of Archie and pulled him into the centre. He scowled at his friend; dancing was not his thing.’ Green Eye get me out of here’ he shouted. Green Eye just giggled and carried on. Watching Green Eye try to do the ‘Worm’ dance on the floor was hysterical, followed by a dance Archie had never heard of, called ‘The Futsal Shuffle’ which was even funnier.

Archie slipped out of the circle and left his friend to it. Nanny Porshina was sitting on her own looking a little lost. ‘Are you OK Nanny’ asked Archie. She seemed to be in a far away land, her eyes kind of empty. After a few moments she turned to Archie and said, ‘Is it my birthday today?’ Archie replied, ‘Yes Nanny it is, have you had a good time?’ She ignored his question and said, ‘Are you Peter, Wizard Davey’s boy?’ Archie was totally confused. Why was she asking this, she knows his name is Archie? After some discussion he managed to get her to remember who he was, the two of them sat for a while laughing and chatting about some of things they had done in the last year. Nanny Porshina suddenly stood up and said, ‘Well Archie, it’s time for me to go and see some of my other guests, do you realise it’s my birthday?’ and off she skipped. Archie felt a mixture of emotions, pleased she had remembered his name, but he also felt a deep nagging sensation, something just wasn’t quite right. 

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! 

Really enjoyed the show not tell webinar today. Worth watching if you missed it.

In my past life I ran training courses in Presentation Skills. If anyone wants any help in this area I'm happy to help. You may be presenting to a school, group or agent and finding it difficult to put together a presentation or feeling nervous. I'm guessing some people haven't done much in the way of public speaking but are great authors! I'm not a technical wiz but good at structuring presentations and helping with delivery. If you have something coming up and want help just let me know and we can work on it.  

Please can I have some feedback on my first chapter of my manuscript. Its work in progress and this is the first raw draft of chapter one. The story is aimed at women, particularly of a certain age, and is a crime novel. Essentially it is about a woman who is resentful of losing her youth and feels invisible seeking revenge. She is working for a young, attractive woman who she plots to harm.  The younger woman turns out to be her granddaughter unknow to her. here is the first chapter, all feedback welcome, gulp, swallow. This is quite exposing, frightening!!!

Age is not just a Number

Age is not just a Number

 I was fed up with being ignored, it was as if I didn’t exist. I remember being in my late thirties, when friends had told me, ‘Wait until you hit your fifties, you’ll become invisible’. I can recall thinking at the time, no not me, I was attractive, vivacious, I would never succumb to being invisible. That was until recently. Now at fifty the menopause seemed to loom on the horizon like the Sword of Damocles, hanging by a thread, ready to drop at any moment, ready to steal my youth, yes, I had become invisible.  

I had started noticing the change at about the age of forty-five. Until then, I’d never had a problem in getting men to notice me, they’d always been like bees to a honeypot. I loved the feeling it gave me, a feeling of power and control, a flutter in the stomach, the kind of high you get when your nervous but also excited. I knew just how to work it, a coy smile, a giggle, a flutter of the eye lids, but as time went by, these, let’s call them, personal skills; didn’t work as well and the pool of admirers, dried up. No matter how much I laughed at their ridiculous jokes, smiled sweetly at their inane conversation, or fluttered my eyes until they hurt, I became invisible. I had regular Botox injections to help, but somehow it made no difference. Tick, tock, tick, tock, that clock seemed to get faster and louder each year. Sure, there were a few men I’d met desperate for sex, but really, I could have been the elephant woman, they wouldn’t have cared, as long as I had a vagina.

As a young woman starting out in the world, we are ignorant of these things, we think we are invincible, and if we have any kind of good looks, we quickly learn how to use them. Try telling a beautiful eighteen-year-old woman, it doesn’t last. Will she listen? Will she listen hell, age does not exist in her world!

The Bitch treated me as an extra, someone to be tolerated, to be pitied, and when opportunity arose, ridiculed. I now worked on short haul flights, long haul, I had to admit had become too much for me. Yes, these flights were as cheap as chips, most of the clientele left a lot to be desired, but the times and flying schedules weren’t as demanding as long haul, and now fitted with my lifestyle. The Bitch carried an air of superiority, had smooth skin, too much makeup, thick glossy hair piled high, somehow messy, but formal, it gave the impression she was older than her twenty-two years.  She was in charge of the flight crew, and from what I’d observed, the captain, given the flirtatious looks between the two of them.   It was after she told me, wearing a huge smirk on that overly made up face, to clean up after someone had been extremely sick, that I made my decision. Something inside me snapped, it was as if my invisibility cloak had been lifted, I knew exactly what had to be done. The Bitch may be flying out, but I was damn sure she wouldn’t be flying back. She had to go.

 

 

We landed on schedule, after dealing with a particularly nervous man who was sweating profusely showing all the signs of a heart attack, but who calmed down after some help with a few breathing exercises. All passengers disembarked leaving us to clear up.  Usually it was a quick turnaround, but on this trip, a new crew were taking over. As an incentive, the airline had decided to give us a few days off in Krakow, all expenses paid. A thank you for all our hard work, successfully generating the highest on-board sales for short haul routes over the last six months. We agreed as a group we would visit the camp of Auschwitz, a harrowing choice, but one serving as a reminder of the atrocities of the war and how inhumane man can be and couldn’t be missed. The other choice had been the Salt Mines a tourist must, and supposedly beautiful, both tours had been pre booked to make sure we could get tickets. Other than this we hadn’t pre booked anything else, apart from We had been told of a great restaurant which the Captain, Mark, had booked for us for the first evening.

Mark was a good-looking guy and he knew it; he had tried it on with every air hostess I knew, I was just waiting for my time. Now he was sleeping with the bitch, but she wouldn’t last long, especially as I had plans for her.

We checked into the hotel which was located right in the centre of Krakow. Bars, cafes, and shops merged around enticing squares, designed so that you could take in the architecture and spend your money at the same time. It was November, cold with a light scattering of snow on the roof tops. It hadn’t settled yet, but the roads were icy, and you had to be careful when walking in heels. The bitch wore high heels and it was as much as I could do not to push her over, but I kept restraint as that pleasure was yet to come. My room was comfortable, I’d stayed in better hotels, but this would do and was very well located. The Bitch had a room opposite mine and Captain Mark had a room next to hers, a little too convenient I thought. Maybe they’d got one of those interconnecting rooms with a door in between, usually reserved for families. It was, however, a great place for me to watch what the Bitch was up to and make my plans.

After unpacking, I decided to go for a coffee and a wander. There were a fair number of tourists considering the time of year, the coffee bars and restaurants were quite full. I found a small bar with a few tables outside and a couple of heaters, blankets were laid on each chair and very welcome as a few flakes of snow had started to fall. I ordered a latte and a small pastry, savouring the indulgence. As I sat people watching I noticed more and more that no one has any interest in anything but themselves. Where shall we have coffee? Where shall we visit next? Oh, look there’s a horse and buggy, shall we take a ride? No one notices the middle-aged woman drinking coffee plotting, but why would they! I find this very comforting and smile to myself thinking about the power this affords, If I am to be invisible then this is to my advantage. The more I pictured myself as the invisible woman the stronger I felt and the more eccentric my plans became. This was a new and exciting feeling, empowerment they call it, although I think that’s a label invented by feminists.

After a cup of coffee followed by two glasses of wine, I decided I’d better head back to the hotel. Captain Mark was just leaving the bitches room as he walked past, he winked at me, Idiot! Men were so predictable to the point of being stupid. I sweetly smiled and entered my room. We were meeting in the bar at seven and I had an hour to kill. I decided to take a long bath which gave me time to think. It would have to look like an accident, I couldn’t let anything point to me. Difficult. Savouring several alternatives for a bit too long, I realised I had started to take on prune like qualities and needed to get a move on. I had time for further planning later.

I had picked out a short black dress to wear for the meal. It was one of those that has a Bardot neckline, making it sexy but demur at the same time. I chose to wear some knee-high boots to cope with the weather and they were suitable for evening wear. I looked in the mirror, yes not too bad for my age but the edges were a little frayed. As I closed the door to my room I turned to see the Bitch, whose name by the way was Paulette, a name you didn’t hear very often, probably given by her posh father who I imagined was a stockbroker. I could see it all, daddy pandering to her every whim, expensive clothes, fast cars, an allowance, no working for pocket money for her. She was dressed in a very sexy but expensive looking dress. It was black like mine but had a shimmer to it and a deep neckline showing her ample bust, probably paid for by daddy! Her skin was smooth and makeup immaculate, matching jewellery and louis Vuitton shoes. I felt a pang deep down. We exchanged pleasantries and she remarked on how nice I looked, I didn’t think it was genuine and I couldn’t bring myself to return the compliment, so I just mumbled thanks.

As I walked into the bar, I could see a few of my colleagues already downing their second drink. Cabin crew were well known for their love of partying and our crew were no exception. At a younger age, this life had seemed so attractive and glamourous, but now it all seemed superficial and repetitive, keeping up the effort was hardly worth it. Smiling I caught the eye of one of the ground crew and made my way to join him. Eric was one of the few in the crew who I really liked. It was a shame he was gay otherwise I might have made a play for him, he was a little younger than me had a great personality and, as gay men often were, was exceptionally good looking. I found myself wondering how gay he really was. I mean you hear of gay men and women who are married or who are bi-sexual, could I……?? I dismissed the thought aware I was clutching at straws! ‘Hi Babe, what would you like to drink?’ I detested the use of the word ‘babe’, it was demeaning and at my age even I knew I was no babe! I forgave him however otherwise I would be sitting in the restaurant with no one to talk to

The restaurant was as I had expected a mix of eclectic ornaments new and old to appeal to the young and affluent but with a vibe of an old Polish dining room. Tables and chairs mis matched to look trendy with pictures on the wall in black and white showing scenes of Krakow from the past. Old worn faces stared out alongside current day images replicating these scenes. Most beguiling was a large canvas picture of an old man sitting in the Main Square outside of the Gothic towers of St Mary’s Basilica taken around the 1930’s. The old man was smiling and the lines on his face betrayed his age, he stood cradling a small baby. Next to it was a replica of the pose and setting but showed a young man from the modern day holding a baby, with jeans, trainers, and a cut off T-shirt showing his tattoos and ripped muscular body. Our table ran along this wall and I found myself sat opposite the pictures which kept grabbing my attention. On one side sat Eric and on the other to my horror the Bitch! Both us seemed unhappy with the arrangement but it was late to change we were now all seated. There were eight of us. Captain Mark, his real name sat at the head of the table and started to order drinks for the table white and red wine with a few beers for those who didn’t drink wine.

The menu was typical of a Polish fare. Dumplings of various sorts, pork in cutlet breaded, cabbage roulade, to name a few. You could also get steak, chicken and burgers which grated with me as we were supposed to be in an  exclusive Polish restaurant, maybe El-Capitaine hadn’t been quite truthful when he had announced we were in one of the best restaurants in Krakow!

Food ordered and a few wines interspersed with Polish vodka we were in full swing. The noise level had risen with screams of laughter as stories of difficult or unusual passengers were exchanged and tales of stop over antics. I caught one or two disapproving glances from other diners trying to have a romantic dinner, but no one else had noticed. Paulette was giggling like a schoolgirl as Captain Mark made some stupid comment about the age of the waiter. Turning to me Paulette said ‘Anna, perhaps he could be your plus one when we go out after the meal, he’s more your age’ Taking a deep breath I smiled my sweetest smile and replied ‘oh yes what a good idea, I’ll have to get his attention’. As I said this I reached forward and knocked a large glass of red wine over. A mistake of course, but it just happened to go all over Paulette’s lovely dress, such a shame! She gasped as I offered my profound apologies, trying to wipe of the wine with a tissue. ‘Paulette I’m so sorry I don’t know how that happened I was just reaching over to get the salt, how clumsy of me. Are you OK’? She glared at me and I could see tears welling up, but she was too proud to let them show. ‘Well you should be more careful; I’ll have to go back to the hotel and change before we go out’. There was an awkward silence from the others and then lots of sucking up. Eric looked suspiciously at me and I turned away; I really couldn’t stop myself smiling, this was going to be a good night after all. 


Not sure how to post to a category, Holly can you help? How do I post to peer to peer?


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