Saturday, 30 September 2017

The Wall of War is almost ready for publication. It's an exciting time for this writer!






So, people ask, "What's next?"



I've been writing an historical fiction tentativley titled "Alexanders - The Decades"
Each book will contain ten years in the life of Drake Alexander's ancestors, beginning with his grandfather, Dominic, in Scotland in 1911.


  

                              Alexanders – The Decades

This excerpt is from the second section - 1912-1914. It tells the reader how Dominic finds a new friend.

(Copyright is held by the author)


Being in the cooler northern region of Great Britain, Scotland is one of the windiest countries in the world with higher than normal amounts of rainfall. Winter usually brings copious amounts of snow in the Highlands with lesser accumulation in the lower regions. The days are much shorter. This first day of February, a Thursday and the last day of Dominic’s work week is clear, a cool breeze chills from the southeast as he walks along Langlands Road. Bluish shadows from a gibbous moon accompanies him home. Pulling his parka tighter about his face, he hurries his step knowing Uncle likes to eat at six o’clock and he guesses it must be a half hour later than that. He’s usually home by then, now that the days are not as long but he and Tubs had to finish replacing the door in Danny Meek’s bungalow in Ibrox.

He’s tired, his shoulders are slouched. One gloved hand carries his still stiff tool belt. A well-used hammer Tubs gave him hangs from one of the side loops and bumps against his leg. The repetitive slap in the only noise except for the distant clanging of the Fairfield Shipyards which go all night. The other hand holds the front of his coat tight at the neck. A well-used canvas lunch bag is slung over one shoulder. He was up at 6 this morning and helping Duff in his shop. The security men who pick up the repairs come every Thursday at noon delivering the jewellery to be fixed and pick up the completed jobs. Dominic spent the morning polishing chains that Duff had repaired. There was a silver one he really liked and hoped to own one day. While thinking of how much he needs to put aside when he turns onto Drive Road that will take him by Elder Park, he encounters three boys roughly his age.

Two of them are pushing and shoving a smaller boy who is doing his best to hold his own pushing and shoving when he can. The larger of the aggressors gets in close enough to grab the smaller one by his jacket collar and shove him against the wrought iron fence that surrounds the park. His companion steps closer and hits the smaller boy in the stomach. When the injured youngster falls to the ground Dominic is close enough to hear them. They don’t know he is near.  Not liking what he sees, the fallen boy much smaller, he sets his tool belt down gently and creeps closer.

“We told you before Pestov, you stay in the Gorbals. You Russian scum need to stay in the tenements where you belong. We don’t want you ‘Pests” around…”

Tall boy is interrupted by a blow to his left ear that causes him to stagger and cartwheel his arms before careening into his helper knocking them both down, the bigger one on top.  Dominic steps up to them, his gloved fists in the fighter’s pose his father taught him, taught all his boys.  His left foot back for balance, both feet on their toes.

“Try someone your own size ya bullies.”

Dominic is a scary figure, only his silhouette is visible to the downed ruffians, the partial moon shines over his left shoulder exposing his upraised defensive fists.  The downed boy is surprised by the aggressive act of the stranger and sits up trying to catch his breath and watch. The two on the roadway are scrambling backwards. The bolder one shouts while rubbing his ear.

“What’s it to you…and ya shouldn’t sneak up on people.”

They’re standing now and may be street tough but they’re leery of this stranger that is not an adult. They strike their own poses, the shorter one a step behind and bobbing his head back and forth from Dominic and his companion not sure what to do.

“Ya shouldn’t be picking on people smaller than you and you’re obviously not brave enough to do it on your own, takes two of yas.”

Dominic starts to bob lightly like a trained boxer.

“Step up now you cowards and let’s finish this…or bugger off!”

Tall boy and Uncertain give each other a glance before deciding that buggering off is probably the best option, turn and scamper away behind one of the apartment buildings on the other side of the street. Dominic relaxes and turns to face a bedraggled figure sitting with legs flat, holding his stomach and taking short breaths. The head is uncapped and hanging down. Even in the low light, Dominic can see the jacket is light and tattered.  Gathering his tool belt he wonders at the boy’s silence.

“Ya could at least say thank you.”

The voice is deep for someone so young and heavily accented from a foreign language.

“I didn’t need any help.”

“That’s not what I saw.”

No response. He reaches down with his free hand.

“C’mon, I’ll give you a hand up.”

Hesitant at first, the younger fellow offers an uncovered hand, small and delicate like a girl’s.  Dominic is startled by the uncovered limb. Grasping the hand, Dominic helps him to stand.

“Gracious, don’t you have any mitts?”

Tucking his hands in his jacket side pockets belies the next statement.

“No, I don’t, but I don’t need any.”

Stepping back Dominic tries to see his face but the lowlight only casts shadows. He can see that it is wide, lots of stray hair. The chin is up. Dominic stands at least five or six inches taller.

“So, what was that all about? And do you really live in the Gorbals?”

“They just think that all Russians are like the Ivanov gang and all we want to do is steal everything. And yes I do live in the Gorbals and I do live in a tenement before you ask.”

Dominic heard about the squalid buildings that housed immigrants in crowded quarters, often four to five in one or two rooms, lured by work in the yards. Always a shortage of homes drove the rents upward. Sanitation is a problem. Many do not eat properly. He didn’t believe it at first. He knew his family was poor but they always had a roof that didn’t leak, clean beds and food.

“What are you doing here? And at night?”

“I…I just need to get away from all that noise and dirty smells and…”

Dominic senses discouragement in the voice, a lower tone. The pitch changes, bolder.

“It’s not your business.  I should be going, my brothers will be home later and I need to be there.”

Without any further comment, he sets off towards the other side of the park. Dominic can see the figure shaking from the cold and stares at his gloves. He has an older pair at home, not as new but just as warm. Removing his gloves, he chases after the boy.

“Here, take these.”

Surprised by the command, the boy stops and faces Dominic, seeing the gloves in the outstretched hand. He is affected by the offer.

“You’d give me your gloves?”

“Well it’s two or three miles to Gorbals and I have another pair.”

He can’t say no. He can hardly grasp the gloves properly from chilled fingers. He stares at Dominic while twisting them on.

“Why are you doing this? You don’t know me.”

“Not so long ago I didn’t always have mitts either and I know what it is like. Now I’m working and can buy my own.”

There’s a moment of silence.  Dominic puts his own hands in his coat pocket.

“What’s your name?”

“Ivan.”

It comes out in Russian, eeVAHN. Not I-van like Scots call him.

“Ivan Pestov and what’s yours?”

“Dominic Alexander, but most people call me Dom. You can if you like.”

“Why would I like, I’ll probably never see you again. I doubt you hang around the Gorbals and I’m not welcome here.”

“Sure ya are, ya can come home and have a bite with me and Uncle if ya like?”

Dominic is worried about his spontaneous suggestion not sure how Duff will react to an uninvited guest but he needn’t be. Surprised by the stranger’s generosity, Ivan waves him off and starts towards the Gorbals.

“Thanks for the gloves and for getting those jerks off my back.”

Watching until the retreating figure is in darkness, Dominic hitches his lunch bag straighter on his shoulder and heads home wondering what the surprise is that Duff said would be there because today is his birthday.





I hope you enjoyed this brief excerpt as much as I enjoyed imagining it. It will be a couple of years before this novel is completed but I'll post an excerpt here and there in hopes you will follow Dominic's development.



Thank you for visiting the Scribbler, please leave a comment below before you go.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Guest Kerri Hayne of USA on Writing Cards.


 
 
 
Kerrie Hayne is a part-time editor and custom paper writer at Writemypaper123 with a master degree in Sociology. She does different studies and researchers in her field and shares them with her readers on the Web to discuss. 

  
 
 
 
 
Convenient tips for writing impressive cards for your recipient

 

If you are having trouble with writing the perfect card for someone, you should consider these tips for writing breathtaking cards that will never be forgotten.

 

 
 
Greeting cards are a great opportunity to express your wishes and thoughts to another person. Regardless of whether the event is; a birthday, promotion, anniversary, marriage, or any other event. If your boss congratulates the employees on a birthday or a partner for the anniversary, this has a noticeable effect on relationship between people. There are many events that are worth celebrating. In addition to a suitable gift, an individual greeting card is also important. A card often says more than the most expensive gift. Such a card shows that the wishes and gifts come from the heart. However, many people are not sure about the way they should express themselves with those cards. I am sure that you’ve been in this situation before, where you’ve purchased a card and thought about possible words you could write. Suddenly you realize, that it is easier to leave it blank and just write your name on it. I can tell you, that is not the right way and I am sure that you share my opinion. The reason I am telling you this, is because I was this kind of person before. I would just leave it as it was. However, I would always feel guilty at the end, because I knew that the other person would be happy if there was at least one sentence. That’s why I decided to change that. It is impressive what a great card you can write just by following some easy guidelines and tips. Keep reading to finally overcome your fear of expressing your thoughts and wishes with those beautiful cards. 
 
 

      Everything that comes from the heart is wonderful

 
The most important principle in advance: no fear of writing.

Even if you are not the wittiest person in the world or have the creative mind: Everything from the heart is authentic. And that is the only thing that counts. Make sure to express your real feelings, because people can tell if you are faking it. Just don’t be afraid to be who you are and to show how you feel.

 
      Get some help

Especially if you are about to write your first card ever. It is not a shame if you ask for help. You can reach out to a friend or family member. Let them read it or write your thoughts on a paper before you do it on the actual card. You can also find a custom paper writer. This way, you can also learn a lot about how to write properly and how to create impressive content.
 


      Use names  
 
 
What sounds simplistic is easily forgotten: Please, always address the recipient directly, ie with his name. Thus, the text immediately has a much more personal effect.


 
      Patterns as inspiration


 

Finding the perfect wording is really simple: the World Wide Web offers countless pages with ready-made patterns for every occasion. Perhaps you are lucky and read exactly the text in which you recognize yourself 100%. Usually, this is not the case. Therefore, you can always add your own touch to pre-formulated texts. A text should sound "real" in the way that you would express yourself in a personal conversation with the recipient. So you should ask yourself: “Does this really sound like me?"

 
      What do I feel?

 

No spontaneous idea how exactly this should look like? Think a little bit and find out what you really feel. For example, if you want to write an invitation, imagine your feast: How do you celebrate and what do you value? You have planned an informal summer festival in your own garden, to which your whole family will meet after a long time. "We are looking forward to a cozy summer festival, to have all our relatives around us, and all the wonderful family stories."

Avoid exaggerated, artificial or too thickly applied formulations, which you would not use in a personal conversation.

       Always remain friendly

 

Positive memories do not always come to mind. An example: "It was nice to be part of your wedding ceremony. We would not have thought the celebration would be so great. "This can be more friendly - without lying. Try it: "We were looking forward to getting to know you and your loved ones at your wedding." Or "Best thanks for the wonderful time at your wedding."

       What has happened in my life?

 
 


It will be even more personal if you let the people participate in your life. Typically there is a place for this in Christmas cards. Don’t just write anything. Tell about special events that have changed your life: a move, a new job, a new pet. People will be able to relate and to feel your emotions.

 
      What interests does the recipient have?

 

Nothing worth mentioning? Then follow this approach: Consider the situation of the recipient. In the thank-you card for coming to the graduation, for example, "Dear Aunt Maria, I was especially pleased that you made the long journey from Europe to come to my graduation."

Think about what the recipient of your card would like to read. What does he or she always ask first when you see or call the person? If Cousin Anna always asks how your children are doing at school, tell her about it. What are the hobbies and interests of the card recipients? Your best friend from kindergarten is a huge football fan. Then he will be happy to hear you tell him about the football match you went to. Does he like cooking or food? Then tell him about the delicious honey that you have tasted in Greece. Anyone who is able to put himself into the shoes of the receiver and formulate the correct map text is interesting and creative. Before you write the greeting card, you should think about the current personal situation of the recipient: What is he experiencing? How is he? What words would he be particularly looking forward to?

 
      Quote - completely individual

 


A quote can give your card a very personal touch. It should not only fit the occasion, but also the other person. It is also a good idea to cite people who are well-known, perhaps admired or revered. You can cite a line from a common song that is relevant to the recipient. A quote from one of your favorite movies expresses what you feel. Yes, you can even cite your own children or the wise grandma if it fits well in the context.

 

      Basic information spiced up

 

If the tone is appropriate for the particular frame or occasion: write loose and colloquially, possibly also with a bit of humour. Basic information such as date, route descriptions or dress code wishes can get an original twist. In the approach to the wedding reception, for example, could be: "On our big day, no one should be missed! Or:" I know how busy you are: so you should mark this important date very thick in the calendar! "

 
      Thank you

 

A simple "thank you" stands for itself and is - especially framed in a pretty card - always a sign that one is appreciated and pleased about his generosity. Tell the people that the new kitchen machine is almost daily in use, the concert ticket has given you a wonderful, fun evening or you have come closer to your dream of your own motorcycle or a designer handbag thanks to the generous money gift.

       A symbol says more than 1000 words

 

Emoticons, which many send by messenger, SMS or e-mail every day, are able to express what other words maybe can’t. If it suits your style or occasion – use it. You can also draw something, but don’t let the drawing take up all the space. Be a little creative. The recipient will appreciate it for sure.

 
      Write with hand

 

A hand-written congratulation is personal and is perceived by the recipient as a gift. Computer print, on the other hand, appears impersonal and unloving. Even e-mails are quickly lost in the daily e-mail flood and should be avoided.

 

 

I am sure that by now, you know some of the basics in order to write your card. However, you should always have in mind that you should write from your heart and consider the person that is receiving it. Pay attention to grammar and spelling, since the reader should have no issues while reading your sentences. It all depends on the occasion, but all those cards mean more when they have at least one sentence written on it. Don’t leave it blank, because I am sure that there is at least something you would like to say. It is like standing in front of a loved one and remaining silent. I am sure that it would feel awkward and that’s not what you want. So, make sure to use these tips and write your card with hand and heart!




 
Thank you Kerri for the informative suggestions.
 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Guest Author Ritu Bhathal of Kent, England.



I stumbled upon Ritu's delightful short story, The Bag Lady, and asked her if she would be a guest on the Scribbler and share her story. Much to my delight, she said yes!




Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970’s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but of Indian origin. This colorful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her. From childhood, she has always enjoyed reading. This love of books is mostly credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative with her own writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally gave her the encouragement to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.

A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which recently was awarded second place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the Annual Blogger’s Bash Awards.

Ritu is happily married and living in Kent with Hubby dearest and two children….and not to forget the furbaby, Sonu Singh.
She is currently working on some short stories, and a novel, to be published in the near future.


Discover more about Ritu, her social media contacts and her books by visiting her website

www.butismileanyway.com


 
 
 
(Copyright is held by the author. used with permission) 
 
 
The Bag Lady

 
 
Photo from Pixabay
 
 


“Come on Penny, let’s just cross the road here. There you go, good girl, we can see the shop window so much clearer from here.” Penny looked up at her mother and glanced back to where they had been standing, outside the huge department store Willards.  It had become something of a family custom that whenever there was a big reveal of the new Christmas shop window display, Penny and her mother, Charlotte, would come and marvel at the inventiveness of the designers.

Just to the side of the window this time, though, there was a small pile of bags, carrier bags, reusable shopping bags, even an old handbag, and they were all stuffed to bursting. Sat among them was a person. An elderly lady.

“But mother, why is that lady sitting there?” It didn’t seem right to Penny to leave an old woman sitting outside, on such a cold day.

“Don’t worry about her, Penny. She’s just a bag lady. Nothing to concern yourself with. Just keep your eyes ahead, and stop staring, otherwise, she might think we’re about to give her something.”  Charlotte held her hand out to her daughter, a gold bracelet  on her wrist glinting in the light as she did so.

Accustomed to listening to whatever her mother said, Penny obediently continued in the direction her mother had indicated, but she couldn’t help taking one last glance back. As she did, the woman caught her eye, winked, and gave her a wave.

Penny started, and turned forward, following her mother as quickly as she could.

~

Milly smiled to herself.

Bag Lady.

She was used to that moniker. And not just because of her present situation.

Oh, many years ago, there were those that called her that, for a very different reason.

~

Fifty years ago, she had been a young, eager to learn shop assistant at Willards. She had started right at the bottom, running around, fulfilling the commands of the head sales ladies. She became an expert at deciphering their strange, short code to describe all manner of items, so a customer was not waiting too long to get what they desired.

She was soon given a chance to step up in the hierarchy and began to wrap the bought items when someone noticed her careful handling of merchandise, and how she folded scarves and clothing with such reverence.

It was during one of her wrapping sessions though, that her true skill was discovered.

Lady Palmerston had been choosing her Spring wardrobe and had accumulated a huge pile of beautiful clothes, which Milly had to wrap. As she did so, Milly found herself mentally matching various accessories to the myriad outfits scattered on her counter.

She looked over at Mrs Walker, the Head Sales Lady, who was deep in conversation with Lady Palmerston.  They were discussing jewellery. That was Mrs Walker’s area of expertise. Milly knew they would be a while so she slipped from her place of work to the Handbag counter, and started rifling through the stock there. Finding the items she required, she went back to her counter, and began to arrange the clothes, and placed the chosen bags by each outfit. “They look pretty good!” she thought, and after a quick glance back, to see if Mrs Walker was still occupied, she nipped over to the shoe counter.

Content with her choices of footwear, she made her way back to her counter, to complete the outfits, before actually doing her job of wrapping the clothing in the delicate tissue paper Willards was famous for.

But she stood stock still as she realised that there were people by the wrapping station. Not any old people, but Mrs Walker and Lady Palmerston. Good grief! There would be trouble now!

One of the requirements of her job was to have the customer’s goods ready to go before they came to her, and she hadn't even started! This didn’t bode well.

“But I insist, Mrs Walker! I wish to speak with her right away! The one who did,” and Lady Palmerston indicated towards the clothes, “this!”

“Very well, Lady Palmerston, I shall go and locate the girl right away. I am so sorry for causing you any inconvenience…” Mrs Walker was decidedly flustered and turned around to find that blasted young girl. Really! To leave her post with all these clothes left scattered atop her workstation! And handbags strewn all over the client’s purchases!

She caught sight of Milly, just as Milly thought she should do a quick u-turn and disappear to the store room.

“Millicent! Come here this instant!” Mrs Walker’s voice carried across the shop floor and reached Milly’s ears.

“What in the world is going on here, young lady?” Mrs Walker shrieked as Milly approached. Reddening, Milly searched her mind for an appropriate answer. “Well, I…”

“Please Mrs Walker, may I?” interrupted a bemused Lady Palmerston.

“Pardon? Oh, of course, Lady Palmerston. May I just say, I apologise profusely on behalf of Willards…” The Head Sales Lady flustered.

Lady Palmerston turned to look at Milly.

“Dear girl, did you do this?” She swept her arm in the direction of the pile of clothes on the wrapping desk.

“Yes Lady Palmerston, I’m sorry Lady Palmerston” Milly glanced down at her shoes. This was it, she was going to lose her job now. Why couldn’t she have just done what she was meant to?

“Sorry? But I love it!”

Milly looked up, slightly confused, as did Mrs Walker.

“You have matched these bags to my outfits perfectly! And if I’m not mistaken, you were carrying shoes when you came over here. I can only guess they were to complement the handbags. Mrs Walker, this girl has something of a talent!

~

It didn’t take long for the word of Lady Palmerston to spread.

Her acquaintances made a point of coming to the wrapping counter and requesting that Milly accompany them to accessorise them.

Soon, ladies from far and wide were asking for “The Bag Lady” to assist them.

The management at Willards soon realised they were onto a goldmine here. Women were choosing outfits, and with Milly’s careful selections, they were spending double the amount on bags, shoes and scarves.

Would it be a good idea to move her to Jewellery, where the merchandise held all the more value?

~

Many years went by, and Milly passed her knowledge and skills onto some of the younger, eager girls working on the shop front. Teaching them which colours complemented others, which materials suited partnership with others, there was soon a team of ‘Purse Girls’, headed by the original ‘Bag Lady’.

Even with all her successes, she had lived a meagre life. The wages she earned kept a roof over her head. She had never married, or had children, so devoted to her job, was she.

The time came for her to retire.

They gave her a wonderful send off. Old clients of hers, as well as new, came to wish her well. Even Mrs Williams was wheeled out of her own retirement to come and gloat about how she had ‘discovered’ Milly’s talent. She was presented with a very expensive black Chanel handbag, as a token from the store.

She thought of Lady Palmerston that day very fondly. The woman had given her the step she needed to leave wrapping, and make a name for herself.  It was sad to think that she was no longer with them, having passed away around ten years previously, but Lady Palmerston’s daughter had come to the store, on the eve of her funeral, and requested that Milly choose the shoes and bag that her mother would be buried with.

Milly recalled a girl with her on that day, Charlotte. Lady Palmerston’s granddaughter. She had looked keenly at the various glass-topped counters, marvelling at the sparkly items encased within.

A few years, they met again. Charlotte was getting married, and she came with her mother to choose some accessories for her trousseau. Milly found her a beautiful bracelet, with tiny diamonds studding the clasp, something that would set off most outfits on her delicate wrist.

~

As kind as life had been to her whilst in employment, things took a down turn in retirement. With not many savings, and no family to fall back on, Milly fell behind on her rent. Paying bills, and even buying food became a juggling act.

Sadly, she lost her home, and with nowhere to go, her belongings stuffed in the bags around her meagre home, she wandered the streets. She took pleasure in finding a spot near her old workplace around Christmas, to see the windows that always gave her such pleasure.

And today, seeing that little girl had been the icing on the cake. Penny was the spitting image of her great grandmother, Lady Penny Palmerston. She knew it was her. And the fact that her mother still wore the bracelet, after all these years… It didn’t matter if she didn’t recognise her anymore, the fact that Milly’s choices were still appreciated warmed her heart.

She hugged her handbag tightly to herself and smiled.

~

The headline read “The Real Bag Lady”.

It detailed the history of the well-known Millicent Cooper, who had started the trend for personal shoppers, fifty years previously. At the time she was paid a basic wage, and the happiness of her customers was more than enough of a bonus for her.

And the sad news that even though her example paved the way for many younger women to charge exorbitant amounts, doing, essentially, the same thing, she died, homeless, curled up outside Willards, the very store she had found fame in.

Clutching her Chanel bag.






Thank you Ritu for being our guest this week and for this story!