Wednesday, 5 March 2014
One day when my daughter was still crawling we noticed that she had taken a liking to her older brother’s wrestling figurines when we found that she had crawled into his room, pinched them and buried them in her own toy box! She was clever enough not just to pinch them but to cover her tracks by ensuring that her own toys were covering the stolen items in hope that no one would be any the wiser. Obviously this was wrong of her but I had to merit her on the craftiness of her actions and I told the wife that we had a smart one on our hands.
Since those days my daughter has exceeded all expectations and at 6 she has the reading ability of 11 at the very least. She loves her books; I swear our house looks like a bomb has gone off in a library sometimes. She also seems to be able to work out mathematical problems by finding the pattern naturally and therefore is not confined to small numbers. She seems to excel in anything that she puts her mind to. It stems from the simple fact that she has always had this ability to listen, take things in and replicate them at an unusually fast pace. I warn people to beware when having an adult conversation and she is around for although she may be watching TV, playing with her toys and reading a book all at the same time she is also listening to every word we say and what is more, she comprehends it too. She will make reference to what she heard if not immediately then some time after, even years after! She is one smart kid and I could go on about how proud of her I am and her achievements in her short life all day, but I am not here to discuss her I am here to discuss her little brother.
He is much more introvert, when doing one thing he channels himself into it and the rest of the world and goings on are invisible to him. If he is motivated he can succeed but often he will become frustrated when trying to show him or teach him something. Therefore he learns much slower and as much as I understand that to compare him with his older sister is wrong we began to have our concerns as his speech development coincides with his learning ability and he is some way behind the average. Whereas other things he can pick up quickly, he was soon out of nappies, he began to learn to swim, some things he needs lots of encouragement to practise. Swimming for instance he seemed to like until one day he became fearful of the racing lines at the bottom of the pool to the point where he is now scared to go.
He has always had an obsession with straight lines, following trance-like the lines along objects with his eyes and would find a comfort zone with two objects by running them in front of his eyes while making a humming noise. I observed him doing this more often, almost like a habit. He seems to have grown out of this behaviour now he is four but in play he will still run things past his eyes, like Star Wars spaceships. He seems to be fearful of loud noises, a busy environment like a school playground is a sensory overload and he shies away from it. We took the family to London once and being used to the country environment he just went into shut down, the noise, the goings on were unbearable for him until we found solitude in the National Gallery. Like an appreciation of art melodic sounds he seems entranced by, he loves all kinds of music from modern dance music to classical; a radio on low helps him sleep through the night. However sudden loud noises make him naturally scared just like when there is too much going on. Vacuums of air freak him out so much so that if we use a public toilet and someone is about to press the hand drier on I have to ask them if they could please wait until we have gone as he will have a panic attack.
We have considered that all of these things may well place him somewhere on the autistic spectrum, though he seems in other areas to be progressing well. It is too difficult at this early stage to diagnose such a trait so we just carry on helping him in any way we can. While my daughter goes through life like a speed train, taking everything in and never fearing to give things a try, my son is quite the opposite, his diet is slim through not wanting to try new things and as he progresses to school age we are concerned that there are many things he still hasn’t accomplished without help, simple things like putting his shoes on to more unique things like his fear of swimming or the hand drier. I may be proud of my daughter’s accomplishments but I am equally proud of all the things he does and love him with all of my heart in exactly the same way; frustrating though it is sometimes when I cannot get him to at least try. He is such a good boy and he has no bad behaviour to report, just like his Dad!
He goes to a nursery which he does like sometimes but he doesn’t like the thought of going. To start with all the children are noisy as excitement fills the room. This is too much for him, he shies away, he breaks into tears but once settled onto an area of play is happy to sit and do these things. He will do them and he will do them and unless a teacher comes along and engages his mind onto something else he will stay doing the same thing. At home he has more confidence to move on but I see the same behaviour he displays in nursery when I take him to a soft-play centre. There he will generally find a simple circuit and walk around it perpetually. He will not stray off the circuit and opt to take a new path, he will not be persuaded to either and if I try and force the issue he will get upset.
So, he also goes to another nursery a couple of days a week, he favours this place; they help him with specialist skills and they can home in on him personally. With one-on-one interaction and sensory activities that stimulate him more he absolutely loves going there. He has speech therapy there and in just a short length of time his confidence to talk has progressed tenfold, he doesn’t stop talking now! This confidence boost has allowed much scope in his development, articulation and pronunciation and he is coming on so much more. He still doesn’t like public toilets for fear of a hand drier but rather than just lock up and freeze with fear he can tell me what is troubling him, requesting “no hand-drier please,” and I can reply with confirmation that we will not use the blasted thing!
For him, the place has been self-labelled with the name of his keyworker and he calls it “Bev’s school,” for everyone else it is known as The Devizes & District Opportunity Centre; a place I owe so much. Peace of mind that they will help, him and us, through this journey and that they are so dedicated to this undertaking. I know now that things will progress at the speed they currently are and also they will give the required assistance as he ventures off to school, helping us decide the best route for his future education, ensuring that we are informed of current options and what is available to help him.
Through the Centre we are certain that he will get through this; he improves all the time. For other families I have come to know the situation is not quite so easy. There are so many disabilities, be it mental or physical or both, there is a spectrum of autistic concerns and so many other afflictions that I, being new to this, had not even considered. For a long time I never understood any of this as I had no need to but now I have become fascinated by the subject and amazed at how much good can be done for a person’s life with this early years help. Our family then is just one of many that owe so much to the Opportunity Centre and others just like it although I accept that our case is the mere tip of the iceberg and I try to imagine what hard work it must be for families with more disabled children.
Children like Lola Rose who was unable to walk or talk when she started at the Centre. But now two years later Lola Rose is just a year away from starting mainstream school thanks to the help she has received from the experts there. She was born with Down's syndrome and had to undergo major heart surgery when just five months old. Now three years old, Lola Rose is able to walk and communicates through a mixture of words and a specialist sign language. Her mum said “If it hadn’t been for Devizes Opportunity Centre I don’t know what we would have done. It has made a huge difference to Lola Rose’s life and to us as a family. If it hadn’t been for them I don’t think we would have been planning for her to go to mainstream school next September.”
Or perhaps Ollie, who was born with a rare chromosome defect, may never learn to walk or talk but his beaming smile is enough to melt anyone’s heart. Ollie is two and suffers from Angelman syndrome. He made a dramatic appearance into the world when he was born at home just as paramedics arrived. His parents did not know there was anything wrong with their younger son until he was about six months old and he was diagnosed with the rare condition, which has the side effect of making sufferers smile and laugh a lot. As the family were trying to come to terms with the devastating diagnosis they were put in touch with Devizes Opportunity Centre and it has helped transform all of their lives. Ollie’s parents said: “I really don’t know what we would have done without the opportunity centre. They are absolutely fantastic for us and for Ollie. Everyone there really cares and is very knowledgeable.”
“He was tested and it turned out that it was a neurological problem that was stopping him from following anything with his eyes.” Ollie then went through a number of different tests and was finally diagnosed with Angleman syndrome which is a rare genetic condition only affecting about 1,000 people in the UK. “We don’t know if Ollie will ever walk or talk,” they told the local newspaper “but he is a beautiful little boy and the opportunity centre is making sure he reaches his full potential at this vital early stage in his life.”
Jacob is another boy that attends the centre; he was born eight weeks early so his parents did not worry too much when he was immediately whisked away for special care. But two days later his mum and dad, were told the news that he had achondroplasia – a form of dwarfism. Jacob’s mum told the paper “I had never heard of the condition but when they explained it I wasn’t that worried if he was just going to be small. I was just glad that he was still with us.” Jacob, now two, had to spend his first six weeks in hospital before he was allowed to go home but he never settled into an ordinary routine and had problems breathing and feeding. When he was nearly four months old he became very ill and his mum called an ambulance. He was taken to Salisbury Hospital to be stabilised and then to Southampton Hospital. It would be another 32 weeks before Jacob was well enough to go home with his parents again. “We nearly lost him about four times over that Easter weekend and we were told he either had to be fitted with a tracheostomy to help his breathing or we had to say goodbye to him. Obviously we said yes. We had to learn very quickly a lot of medical procedures so we could get nearer to being able to bring him home.” Not long after the family was put in touch with Devizes Opportunity Centre and it has proved a lifeline. His mother tells the reporter “It is just wonderful to have other people to talk to who understand. The staff are fantastic and they are now learning how to fit his tracheostomy so we can get nearer to the time when I can leave him in their care without me having to be there. When he went there he couldn’t do anything at all but now he has come on leaps and bounds. He loves the sensory room and although he doesn’t really play with other children he loves watching them.” Jacob has a wide range of problems that include not yet being able to sit up and only knowing a few words of language but his parents are optimistic about his future. “He seems to learn something new almost every time he goes to the centre. We hope he will be able to go to mainstream school in the future.”
With these stories in mind I have come to realise that my own son is lucky but even though he has not suffered the same issues of many of the other children that attend he was still taken on by the staff and treated with as much loving care as the others and now he is nearing school age I can say that I am delighted we are told he will not need to attend a specialist school and can join his sister at her school. A massive amount of this accomplishment is due the help of those at the Opportunity Centre, I owe them so much. I wanted to thank them in such a way that only I could do, through my silly words and thoughts! Crazy I know but hear me out…
On another note of why I did this book I thought back to a few years ago when I was pleased to be asked at Christmas to be Santa Claus for my daughter’s school Christmas fair. The kids that came in I set into three main groups, the older kids that didn’t believe and were there purely for the present (which turned out to be just a mug, oh well!) The second group were made up of those that wanted to believe but had a degree of scepticism that I was indeed the real McCoy (I tried my best!) The third group were the best group, the mostly younger ones, the ones that really believed, their faces as they look up to you would melt the polar ice caps fasted then any CO2’s.
So, as Santa I found a great deal of happiness in witnessing their the faith and joy at meeting Santa but one story in particular highlights why I am doing this project. One boy came in with his little sister; she gave me the stare of group 3, the total believers where I would cast him into group 2. I asked them their names, the boy told me his then he told me hers. He then proceeded in a roundabout way to inform me that his little sister was deaf and because of this she did not speak either. He did the talking for her; she just glared at me with a smile that lit up the grotto. So, I was touched naturally but I was not prepared for his answer to what he wanted for Christmas. He told me that there must be a machine that would help his little sister hear better and that if there was she would soon learn to talk. While most kids that year wanted a scooter all that this boy wanted was for his sister to be like other people.
I had to hold off the next group of children for just a few moments while I composed myself, got myself together again. I do not give a shit what sort of man others may describe me as when I admit it drew me to produce a tear. My fake white beard came into use though.
It is all these elements that drove me to carry out this project. I had never done charity fundraising before and I guess it came to a point where I realised that you can make a difference. Loving my own kids, being Santa, hearing the god awful stories in the press concerning children, all this and so much more made up the decision to pursue it. So as a way of saying thanks for what they have done to help my son, I did what I could to return the favour, which maybe not much but it is all I know.
I guess I have always been a creative sort, from my playgroup filled with paintings I had done up to the point I developed the childhood ambition to be a cartoonist. After a many years of publishing cartoons and comics I put it on hold to have a family. Holding down a full time job and drawing comics was too much work with children around. So now I write and have self-published my own titles for a few years. One day in November the idea to do a charity anthology just popped into my ickle head while heavily involved with being a couch potato. I therefore put the idea out there in the form of a Facebook group, inviting all the authors I have liked the works of to join me in collaboration to help raise some funds for the Centre.
We brainstormed the whole thing out right there; I reduced the group to those willing to contribute. It was now made up of some authors that I had read the works of and mightily impressed me and some others that I took a chance on. Needless to say the chance I took paid off; they did an amazing job too.
Just around Christmas 2013 the book was finally ready, “I am not Frazzle!” I called it after my own story about a voice over artist in a popular TV cartoon that despite having a general dislike of children has a life changing event whilst trying to help a boy in a coma by using his character’s voice to wake him. The idea to have a voice over artist fall into the world of the cartoon he voiced for was something I thought of sometime ago and put on the backburner. At first it seemed rather corny but when I developed the idea into “Frazzle!” I found its potential.
The content had to be approved by the committee of the Centre and therefore I requested nothing too graphic or obscene though still felt it best to aim the book towards adults, however because it is for a children’s charity I wanted “children” to be a running theme through the stories; hence the joke in the full title, “I am not Frazzle; and other stories for grownups.” This was the only criteria I set them and allowed them to be free to choose their own genre. They adhered to this censorship and some let me know they found it tricky not to be rude, which I jokingly condemned them for despite secretly finding this part a challenge too!
The authors came from all over the world and all but one that lived in these parts knew nothing of the whereabouts of the town of Devizes. I salute them still to this day for their efforts and after originally considering closing down the Facebook group after the book was published I kept it open as we have all become good friends.
I normally do my own covers but admit to be far from the best at such penmanship so I asked someone and our wires got slightly crossed so fearful that it would not come to be by my Christmas deadline I contacted the one Des Langford, a great cartoonist and sign writer from Limerick. I was asking a lot, the deadline was close and so hats and scarves off to the man for producing such a wonderful illustration for our cover based on the Frazzle story.
So one by one I will introduce the authors here and give a sample of the wonderful story they contributed to the project. All the proceeds of which will go to the Devizes & District Opportunity Centre in support for the love they have shown my son and so many other children in our local area. Firstly though, don’t take my word for the excellent work they have done as here are some online reviews from other parents:
- “Love this place! Amazing staff and children. They helped me so much with my son and getting him into the right school, the work you do is invaluable to parents like me.”
- “Love love love!! So many wonderful things happen here... Lives can finally start with the support given here!!”
- “Don't know what I'd do without them! Amazing staff and such a lovely place! It's so great to meet other parents in similar situations and for the children to just have fun and learn! Truly seen improvements in my son since we started and they always make me feel so positive about his condition, thank you everyone at the opportunity centre, ur absolute angels!”
- “It is the most amazing place, the staff work wonders and provide the whole family with the most amazing support. The difference it has made to our Son is incredible. Thank you. The town needs to get on board and support this invaluable service!”
- “Fantastic service for your childrens special needs. GREAT as a mothers and baby support group, GREAT as a pre-school group. Liase with all professionals involved with your childrens needs.On going observation and verbal/written feedback. Gave GREAT parent support and GREAT preparation for help supporting setting up childs school. Give excellent advice for all my boys needs.Allow me to be heard as a parent and helped me realise what I was doing right/wrong with plenty of feedback. No they didn't pay me for saying this lol I was one of the many families they helped with my little boy. They would always make time to see you when ever you needed it, no matter how big the problem was. Thank you all especially Betty, Donna, Chris, Emma, Jojo to name but a few. Xxx”
- “They have really helped my son they do a amazing job with the kids :).”
- “Absolutely amazing place, where me and my beautiful children were accepted for who there really were, where disability meant only that an alternative approach was needed. An essential lifeline xxx”
-“Amazing place, amazing staff, support for my little one just fantastic. Would be lost with out the centre. X.”
- “A great support and knowledge centre for those of us with young ones who need a bit of extra help. Thank you!”
- “Amazing place!! Words cant really explain my gratitude to all the staff i wish you could have my son back he was alot better off :') take care all of you miss you xxxxxx.”
- “My daughter attended here from the age of 7 months and I can quite honestly say thats changed both our lives I owe so much to this centre and the outstanding dedication of their amazing staff, they supported both me and my daughter until she started school last year, I can honestly say I dont know what I would have done without this centre. What they do and the support, help and advice they give is truly outstanding!”
-“Our son has been going to the opportunity group since he was 9 months he couldn't sit up but now with all the help and support from the all the staff he now goes on his own thank u to all the staff. “
- “Amazing place, had a valuable block placement with them last year for college work experience, they have helped so many families :) including my own :3 Keep up the AMAZING work!”
- “my girls wouldn’t be where they are today without the help provided for us by the staff at this centre! They've not only helped them but me too! I will be eternally grateful for the kindness and support they have provided - id be lost without them!!”
I think that speaks for its self really doesn’t it? So, about the book, as while the money you spend on this book will go to the Centre, which is an amazing feeling and gets me right there every time I think of it, you should also note that standalone the book itself is really a great read. Here are some bits from reviews that the book has had already:
“Lots of great stories in one book, something you can pick up read & a bit, then go back to it. All for a great cause to, a must read..” Review on Amazon.co.uk
“10 authors write 10 short stories in order to raise 100% profit to benefit a children’s charity. This book is worth its purchase price if for no other reason than that. As I read through this collection of original stories, I experienced a range of reactions—quickly captivated by some tales, emotionally touched by others, laughing and then crying and then gaping at a glowing page after one eerie folktale left me covered in goose bumps. I was dazzled by the creativity of a few authors while impressed by the sharp writing of others. While there are portions that could use additional editing and some skilful rewrite, this book covers a spectrum when it comes to individual tastes, which means there is bound to be an author and story to your liking.” Review on Amazon.com
“This is a compilation of short stories by eleven authors. The proceeds are to go to a charity called Devizes and District Opportunity Center, for the development of young children with difficulties and disabilities. There are ten stories, all creative, imaginative, one a suspense, a fantasy, a love story of sorts, and a playful one, etc. Three of my favorites are I Am Not Frazzle! Beauty of Ugh and The Story of Nugu the Baboon. Reading these short stories gives you an opportunity to get to experience the writing of eleven authors and their work. They have published other works and a way of contacting them if you are interested in within the book. I enjoyed the stories, some better than others, but the variety was great. The title indicates that it is for grown-ups, but these three I've mentioned I would read to my grand children.” Review on GoodReads.
“A good book that doesn't take long to read through. There are a variety of stories bound together here, every style as unique as the author contributing it. I applaud the fact that all proceeds go to benefit a children's charity.” Review on GoodReads.
“What an awesome collection. There really is some amazing talent out there! So I happened to find one single story that really didn't register with me... In this wonderful lucky packet of stories, that says something, don't you think? Please consider buying this book. I am one hundred percent sure that there will be something in here for absolutely EVERYBODY!” Review on GoodReads.
Not too bad for some self-published authors huh?! Well, we do need more reviews as lots of potential buyers look to reviews to decide what to spend their pennies on. So, if you get the chance please consider giving us a lovely review, thanks!
The book was released December 2013, I wanted to get all ready for Christmas which I only just achieved, but it was too late to get promoted and marketed before people rounded up their big spend and so it’s launch fell rather badly timed in that God forsaken month of January.
I put it out as a paperback through LULU and that takes time for it to appear on Amazon’s sites. The eBook was launched on Amazon and through EasyEpublish, part of the Purple Papaya LLC it was distributed through the other popular book sites, Barnes and Noble, Sony, iTunes, Kobo and as a paperback form in the EBM (Espresso Book Machine – makes a paperback to order faster than a coffee!)
Because of its local connection I was quickly approached by the best local book shop in town, Devizes Books which is pride and place in Handell House in the centre of town, holds an art gallery and a great bookshop too. They have kindly taken the book on for free and so too has my Village Shop in Rowde. I have other local shops to still make my pitch to but with its current success on this front I feel they will be equally helpful.
There are other companies that have welcomed the project and agreed to help out. My son’s other nursery have taken a keen interest and taken some books to sell. Kennet Print agreed kindly to print me up some flyers that I have spread around town and beyond from coffee shops, delis, the Sports Centre, pubs and the library. Barefoot Signs of Devizes printed us a banner to erect in the bookshop. My friend Jake Woods, local manga artist came into the group a bit late and designed an excellent piece of Frazzle as he was facing away from the reader on the book cover and I thought it would be nice to have a forward view of him for promotional purposes. David of the AskDavid website gave us a full promotional push which normally they reserve for paying customers and so did DVB books. Awesome Gang have been another website that have helped me by posting an author interview written rather cheekily by Frazzle himself rather than me. I still have lots of other websites to contact in hope they can help.
The social networks have been kind, many people sharing posts on Facebook and Tweeting about the project. I set up a Facebook like page and groups on Shelfari, Goodreads and MARS social. The most important part of the online marketing is our website which I used webs.com to platform. This has been an active place and contains all the information you need about the Centre, the authors and where to buy. Please have a look: www.iamnotfrazzle.webs.com and if you can join the site and join in with the forums, I do not get enough response and I love to hear what people think. Most of the authors are there too so you can contact them if you wish to ask them something about their story.
The local newspaper, the Gazette & Herald came down to my house and took a photo of me holding a copy of the book. I complained that I hadn’t had the time to do my hair but they didn’t care, they took the photo anyway and the next Thursday I appeared the paper, this coupled with the BBC too, I don’t know, this sort of attention is usually reserved for decent authors!
What? The BBC, I hear you cry? Well, yeah, local radio, still the beeb though! On a wet and cold February afternoon I canoed it down to Swindon to appear on BBC Wiltshire Sound’s afternoon show with Sue Davis. I was quite honoured to get featured and although I went in totally unprepared I think I got the message out without too much ums and arrs! It was quite a surreal experience and also confirmed I was not the best public speaker but it was touching to receive a thank you email from the staff at the Opportunity Centre who was listening.
Closer to home my village magazine also gave us a page to promote the book and its good cause, cheers for that, village magazines are surely the backbone of these rural outposts.
So now the book is out there and I have become obsessed by ways of promoting it as a book like this can be a hard sale, even if it is for a charity. The one thing I need is more sales. So I am looking for a book trailer to be made and any other ideas that will help us raise awareness.
The other people out there spreading the word via the worldwide wobbly web is the authors, not only did they spare their time writing these amazing stories but they are now helping by sharing the book links, joining the website and blogging about it. Particular thanks have to go to Graham Downs, who set up the GoodReads page for us. He even texted the show on BBC Wiltshire all the way from South Africa which amused me in the green room and helped highlight the point that our authors are from all over the world.
Dave Darby is the other big shouter out to. He writes for an English satirical newspaper in his Spanish home town and they published an article about the book. Holly, Nancy, Cecily have also been working hard to inform the world about Frazzle, Holly even gave us a mention in her local newspaper article in Ohio, thanks Holly.
So, why we are on the subject of authors let’s waste no more time in mentioning them and the stories they slaved over for us to exploit. Now should I do this alphabetically or as they run in the book I wonder? Here goes, as they run in the book or I will be last otherwise!
In which case, Maria Miller is first up. I first came across Maria through Facebook I think. We made friends and swapped some books for review. I found her writing inspiring, in a time when romance is such a popular genre with the female authors Maria breaks that mould and writes with a degree of harsh reality and conspiracy. Melancholic plots put simply raise the emotions in all her fact based fiction. I have read and can thoroughly recommend “The Dandelion Project”, “Abandoned China Dolls” but my favourite was “A Tribute to the Mothers of Water,” which you will have to buy as a paperback as it was apparently banned on Kindle (unless you make a friend of Maria as I did and she sends it to you!)
Anyway, I still have “Chasing Fate,” and “Saving Emma,” and its sequel left to read, of which the latter two I proudly contributed the covers for. Here is a short bio in her own words: Maria Miller was born and raised in the United States. She graduated from Xavier University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English but decided not to pursue a Master’s Degree because she couldn’t refine her desire to learn to just one thing. She’s married and has four children, who take up most of her time.
So Maria was first to contribute and I was delighted as we have such a mutual respect for each other’s work , she wrote a moving story which will bring a tear to your eye about the relationship between two girls in an orphanage. The only criteria I put to the authors when contributing was to include children or a childlike concept within the plot but I stressed that they write in their own style and genre. Maria hit the nail directly with the hammer with this moving story:
A Wish For Lucie.
Lucie had not meant to expose her feelings. She had been working so hard to keep her emotions inside herself. A tear welled up in her eye, but she wiped it away before it could trickle down her cheek.
“Don’t you ever wish you were at home with your family?” Lucie asked. She turned to Olivia who stared blankly at her. “Don’t you ever wish you could see your mom and dad?”
Olivia stared for a moment and then shook her head.
“I don’t remember them,” she said sincerely. “The only thing I remember is this home. This is the only home I know.”
Lucie sighed heavily and swallowed hard.
“I had a mom and dad. I remember them. My mom was really nice to me, but sometimes my dad yelled a lot. One night when he yelled, I hid because I was scared. Then a policeman found me and brought me here. I don’t know what happened. I don’t understand. I don’t know what I did to make my mom and dad send me away.”
Lucie gulped another deep breath and let it out slowly. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she squeezed her eyes tightly and refused to let them fall. Olivia reached over and wrapped her arms around her friend.
I thought I would put my cover story next, I am not Frazzle. I mentioned about how the story before and I have been rambling on enough about myself already, so just to say, I have been self-publishing since 1995 when I put out my first comic, Toonedelic Times. After some years I folded the publication to get on with my life and raise a family. Once the self-publishing bug gets you though it’s hard to give it up and after a few years of being creatively void I started up again by writing books for the kindle, far less work involved! I will get onto just who made me realise the potential of publishing on kindle when we talk about Dave Darby for now though just except that I have produced quite a few books since that time. In order they are “The Hargreaves Code,” “That Night, This Night,” “Selected Poems,” “The Hex Factor,” “Saffron,” “White Space Van Man,” “One Piece Missing,” and “Tales of Worrow,” the last being my short stories that I post on my blog: www.darrenworrow.blogspot.com
I have a website, www.darrenworrow.webs.com if you want to pay a visit, I am currently revising it so be warned it needs some work!
So yes, here is an extract from
I Am Not Frazzle!
The child looked at him, “What has Gordoth done to you? Has he erased your memory with magic, you are Frazzle,” the boy opened the door and beckoned Colin inside, “look in the great mirror, you will see for yourself.”
Colin stepped inside the huge hall of the keep; he strode suspiciously over to the great mirror with its awning of velvet curtains surrounding it, gazing with amazement at his reflection, for with every move he made the sweet, cartoon-like dragon of pink and yellow made a replica move, “amazing, how on earth did they do that?” he asked anyone willing to listen. He came up as close as he could to the mirror and pressed his finger on it, the dragon matched his move with his webbed wing-like claw. Colin wriggled his backside and the dragon swished his tail on the floor.
“I told you Frazzle!” claimed the boy.
“Huzzah!” yelled Colin and turned to face the boy, “see kid, if I was really Frazzle I would have breathed fire from my….”
“But Frazzle!” shrieked the boy.
“…..right stop, I am not Frazzle, like I was saying if I was then I would have breathed fire from…….”
“But Frazzle!” squealed the boy even louder pointing furiously at the mirror.
“I’ve had enough of this foolery!” Colin protested, “Just give me my award and let’s get down the pub, if I was Frazzle, like I am trying to tell you, fire would……”
At the point the king came through the arch at the end of the hall, he looked just like the king from the cartoon, Colin did not get time to acknowledge this fact though as the king was furious, “Frazzle!” he bellowed, “you dare to set the drapes of the great mirror alight?!!”
Colin turned around, made apprehensive by the sense of burning from behind him, it was only then that he noticed the curtains around the mirror was covered in a raging flame.
The boy had ran out and got a maid to throw her bucket of water at the curtains while the King stood staring in disgust at Colin. Colin shrugged, “sorry about that,” he mumbled.
I met Cecily Magnon through Facebook groups and so after inviting her along to the group she asked if her good friend Nancy Brooks could come along for the ride. Nancy then was one of the first authors I took a chance with and that chance paid off with her excellently funny and imaginative piece, The Candy Vendors Confession.
Nancy is a First-Generation American with many cultural backgrounds, including ancestors from El Salvador, Lebanon, Canada, England, and Ireland—countries rich in folklore and legendary creatures.
As a child, her imagination soared as Salvadorean relatives retold stories of elves, witches, demons and curses. After years of research and comparison, she’s found striking similarities in the legends and folktales of many diverse cultures, and is dedicated to planting seeds of probability in her readers' minds: Are these merely stories to entertain, or were they based on actual accounts and events? Visit Nancy Brooks by going to: Legendseeker.com
The Candy Vendor’s Confession
Hmphf. In your American movies, you need garlic to keep vampires away. Silver to keep werewolves at bay. That is in movies. Imagine what is out in the real world, here in El Salvador. You have no idea how ancient this land is. You can never peek outside when you hear the squeaky wheels of La Carreta Bruja approaching your door—the witches will toss you into the wagon and ride off with you. La Ziguanaba attacks men as they stumble home from the bar. I know because my sister’s husband was scratched across his face by that female demon one night. He was toyed with and never recovered. Now he babbles like an idiot and drools. Disgusting. It is better to die, no? I told her to have my friend come say a prayer over him but she said she did not want brujas near her home. Witches! My sister is so exaggerated. If she wants a drooling husband, then she deserves a drooling husband.
I need only of God. Is that what you said? No, I do understand that. But who is confessing here? You have to listen to the whole story before you give judgment, no? Are you sure you are a priest? You look too young to be a priest. Handsome, too. Did you know that I was one of the most beautiful girls in my village? Yes, I had young men after me all the time. I kept my brothers on their toes, especially my brother Luis. He and my cousin Ramon would find my hiding spots, and chase the suitors away before I could do more than get a kiss or a flower from them. It never made me mad, I was glad for their protectiveness. It made me much more valuable. The suitors had to work twice as hard to get to me.
Father... Victorio? Is that your name? Are you comfortable? I do not want to scare you, but there is only one way to say the truth: open your mouth and spit it out.
I have seen the devil.
Oh, that scared you? Well, we can start with the smaller things: I have taken the Lord’s name in vain. I have not been to mass, nor ever want to go. I have not read the Bible, and I do not own one. I have spoken harsh words to everyone who wishes me kindness. I have been greedy, not caring to share anything with anyone. And I have celebrated the deaths of two of my closest friends from childhood. Well, they were not exactly friends. They were more rivals than friends. One time I was going to choose a young man named Isidro from a neighboring village to be my dance partner at a party, but that ugly Josefa jumped on him like a spider on a fly. I did not care, he was not as handsome as my favorite partner, but she did not have to spring like that. I was not really at fault for her death, or Rosa’s, but I was glad it was them and not me!
That is awful? Yes, I know it is. But when you have heard my story, you will understand.
So after two amusing fantasy inspired stories I thought I would drop a piece of Holly Kothe’s words, her more romantic side. I am not sure how I met Holly online, I think we were mutual friends of the demon author Dan Dillard and we met through his links. Again, I took that chance and man, did it pay off. The really best thing about making the project was getting to know the contributors that bit more. I originally thought I would end the group once the book was published but we have kept in communication and formed a group of friends. Holly is no exception to this as the group gave her massive response to the release of her first book, “Sweet Violent Femmes.”
Fair dues though, SVF is an amazing first attempt at a book, it’s pretty amazing for a professional bestselling author if you ask me.
Holly is a freelance short story writer and novelist from Cincinnati, Ohio. She holds a BA in English and creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University and works as an editor for The Oddville Press. Her most recent publication, Sweet Violent Femmes, is available in digital and print on Amazon and through her caffeinated blog, A Little Literary, (a Lotta Coffee) at http://www.alittleliterary.blogspot.com/
Holly M Kothe
Courtland raised her eyebrows in question at the man who had stepped in line behind her. He looked like he could be about her age, but it was hard to tell with his unshaven face and protruding beer belly. She smiled awkwardly, not quite sure how to say, Who are you?
“It’s Mark,” he said. “Mark Singer. We went to school together. Mrs. Renfield, remember?”
“Oh, right. Sorry, I didn’t recognize you.”
“Yep. It’s been a bit, hasn’t it?”
But not long enough, Courtland didn’t say. She hadn’t given a lot of thought to the obnoxious little leech who was always harassing some unsuspecting girl. Often, it was Courtland. She remembered a particularly aggressive incident, when Mark thought it would be amusing to reach up her skirt and into her underwear in front of his friends. The skirt had been short, not by choice, but because of yet another growth spurt that her wardrobe couldn’t keep up with. She had been so awkward back then with her tree-like height and boyish frame. She’d simply shoved Mark away and ran to class at a rapid pace, keeping the violation quiet. The fleeting memory brought on yet another flashback, one of her old childhood sweetheart, who’d wanted to pound Mark’s face into the hall lockers when Courtland had finally relayed the dreadful experience. She smiled at the thought of her old junior high boyfriend.
“Hey, come back to me, Court,” Mark said, bringing her out of her thoughts. “I heard you got out. Big New York gal, right?”
“Yeah, I got out,” Courtland said. She smiled tightly. “I’m back … for the time being.” It was finally her turn in line and she ordered a vanilla Coke from the woman whose head peeked out of the trailer window. The lady mixed the drink like an old fashioned soda fountain, with delicious vanilla syrup. Courtland held off on ordering something for Jay, who was busy becoming best friends with a little girl on the swing set.
Courtland stood off to the side and sipped her coke, ten feet or so from the park. All those brightly lit rides and games, and Jay was content with slides and a swing set. He seemed to be emerging from his unhappy, hermit-like ways. Jay had chatted excitedly to the man taking tickets at the pumpkin house how things could be improved upon, offering suggestions like zombies feeding on orange pumpkin guts, and Frankenstein’s pumpkin being brought to life with electricity. Shortly after that, Jay spotted the play set. It was so good to watch him running around and giggling like a child should be.
“What a lovely surprise, running into you.” Mark’s voice again. He touched her shoulder a little too firmly. He stood so close, Courtland could feel his hot breath on her ear, laced with nicotine. “You should join me for a drink. There are a few good dives around here, nothing like the big city, I’m sure. But we could have some fun, you know?”
Dave Darby and I worked at the same place for a while, then he jumped ship to move to Spain and now he works (I think I mentioned this earlier) for a satirical newspaper for the English pats there. I am glad David offered to take part as I owe him something. Yeah, I had a kindle for about a year but it was not until I saw his Facebook post, showing off his new eBook “Driven,” that I realised one could self-publish on it. As I have said I gave up creating paper comics some years ago to use my time raising my new family but I guess you cannot stop the bug for too long and after I asked him how it worked I was off, self-publishing within the new online world, so cheers Dave, a “big-up” to you sir and if anyone really detests my writings then I will pass them over to you with a “it was his fault!”
David is 54-years-old, born in London, living in Spain, a photographer, journalist, stand-up comedian and storyteller. As editor of a small magazine in the south of Spain, I find very little time to release the hundreds of stories rushing around in my twisted head. “Why contribute to a charity book for children? A Spanish woman was watching me playing with my young son in a park… she said to me, "up until they're about 16 months old, you love them so much you could eat them… when they reach 16-years-old, you wish you had…" Do not eat your children! Read these stories and then recommend the book to your friends!
"My name is Simon".
Saying it out loud doesn't appear to have helped at all. I still don't know where I'm from or what I'm doing here. Where is here? A Street, it could be the main street of any town… somewhere. Quite a bit of traffic, the usual array of mobile phone shops and travel agents, I feel a sense of unease, but any reason for such a feeling of disquiet is beyond my reach.
I stop outside a shop and use the plate glass frontage as a mirror. I stagger back from the image; nearly falling over a waste bin, drawing no more than a few curious glances from passers-by. I don't even recognise myself! Scared now; how can I remember that my name is Simon but not even recognise my own refection.
Regaining my footing I approach the window and the stranger whose body replicates my every move. About six feet tall, dark complexion, scruffy jeans, a long brown leather coat, unbuttoned but heavy enough not to move in the cool light breeze. Age is more difficult; I move closer, 30 maybe, but a hard earned 30. The dark hair is short but scruffy with flecks of grey and the face, a touch gaunt with at least two days stubble, nothing even faintly familiar to me. I turn away from the stranger and continue to walk directionless, aimless, head bowed searching the depths of my mind for any kind of memory. In the distance I can hear sirens and inexplicably my anxiety increases and my pace quickens. Perhaps if I continue to walk something will become familiar, or someone will recognise me.
The sirens sound a lot closer now, the feeling of unease persists. I look to the far end of the busy main street to the top of the gradual incline and see blue lights come over the apex at speed. In front of them is a small black car, also moving at speed. It hits a white van a glancing blow as it passes, plastic and glass exploding from the point of impact can be seen from even my distant vantage point. The small black car continues at speed with several police cars in close formation to its rear and other traffic pulling quickly to the kerbside to avoid any contact.
I mentioned earlier about how I came into contact with the amazing author Nancy Brooks, she was invited by Cecily Magnon, another author that I took a chance with as I had not read an of her work. Wow, how they both paid off, lots of people have cited Nancy’s story as their favourite in the whole book however not many gave a mention to Cecily’s it has to be said. This I found strange as Cecily’s marvellously descriptive fantasy story, The Storekeeper had me gripped from its very beginnings and if I had to, was really forced to choice a favourite story in I Am Not Frazzle, then it would be this one.
So recently I downloaded “Prelude to a Strom,” which is a freebie on Nancy’s blog, offering the reader a sneak introduction to her first full novel, “Gathering Storm,” and it not only blew my socks off, it folded them neatly and put them back in my drawer, great writing talent!
Cecily lives in California amidst the fertile valley of San Joaquin County. She enjoys a quiet family and home life with her two beautiful sons and supportive husband. One day, she hopes to make writing a full time job where she can dedicate more time to the meanderings of her mind and create for you--more characters, more worlds, and more stories.
Future Title from Cecily Magnon:
Gathering Storm, Order of the Anakim Series.
“Ah, there. Now I can see what you’ve been up to old friend.”
The book jiggled.
“I do not look like an owl with my glasses. I quite like these.” He straightened and pushed his shoulders back, “makes me look like a professor, don’t you think so, Grim?”
The book tittered and jiggled, almost falling off the counter.
“Ok, you’ve made your point Grim. I still like them.” He stuck his tongue out at the tittering book, making the book shake wildly on the counter, until it fell with a dull thud on the ground.
He looked over the counter top to peer down at the fallen book. He shrugged his shoulder and slumped back down on his stool. He opened his newspaper with a snap, muttering, “You can just stay down there, until I’m good and ready to pick you up. Serves you right.”
Ding! He lowered his paper, his eyes darting to the door. “Whose coming Bell? A customer? How exciting!” He jumped off his stool and straightened his button down brown shirt that fit his small frame loosely. He smiled wide, ready to welcome his customer. “I’m ready. Open the door, Bell.”
The door opened quickly, letting in a lone man in a hooded sweater.
“Hello! What can I do for you?” he asked cheerfully.
The man remained quiet as he looked around the store. He pulled off his hood to reveal troubled eyes, full of suspicion and hurt.
The storekeeper cocked his head side to side, trying to look at the man from different angles. His smile faded as the man approached the counter. His heart was racing and his skin was prickling.
“Who are you young man?” he asked evenly. “Why do you come?”
The man remained quiet, his stare drilling into the storekeeper’s eyes. Sweat trickled down the side of the man’s face, getting lost in the dark nest of a beard. The stranger brushed his arm nervously, across his eyes to wipe away sweat and dirt.
“Do you need my help?” The storekeeper asked patiently.
The young man jerked his head around, his eyes following the trail of something only he could see. He paled in fear, as he backed away from the counter, his arms raised to shield his face.
“Hmm. Interesting indeed.” The old man watched his visitor cower into the shadows of his store. He could hear the frightened man’s soft whimpering coming out of the darkness.
The old man’s heart ached at the sound--despair. He sighed deeply, “A broken man. What did this to you dear one?” he straightened, puffing out his sunken chest and called out to Grim. “Come on Grimoire. We have work to do. Up, up!”
The book rattled on the floor, bright light surging from its pages bathing the entire store in a white glow. The book wavered and faded, reappearing on the counter top.
Graham and I traded books to critique and found a mutual respect for the differences in our work some time ago now and become online friends. Graham has helped no end with this project, setting up its page on GoodReads and helping promote Frazzle in so many other ways. He even texted the radio show from South Africa, I was sitting nervously in the green room (well the corridor!) at the time and I had to laugh when I heard his name called out by presenter Sue Davis, it made a surreal situation seem suddenly real. So big thanks goes out to all the authors that have been promoting it in their own way but a massive thanks to Graham for spreading the word so much.
I was most surprised by the nature of Graham’s story, I did not except it to be such a gritty and realistic portrayal of bullying in school and I was gripped from the off. Stories like Holly’s and Grahams really give the book the variety of stories I wanted it to be.
Graham Downs lives with his wife in Germiston, South Africa. A Computer Programmer by occupation, he writes whenever he can, whatever stories take his fancy.
Notable works so far include A Petition to Magic, a short fantasy story, and Heritage of Deceit, a thrilling novelette.
Find all his books on Goodreads, at http://www.goodreads.com/grahamdowns/
James was racing down the short passage from the bathroom to his bedroom, wearing only his towel. He had bathed as quickly as he could, in case his mother had come into their house's only bathroom to use the toilet. The last thing he wanted was for her to see the bruises on his arm and chest, and make a fuss.
He made it about halfway, before she walked down the passage. Immediately she stopped and shrieked, “James, what on earth happened to you?!”
James was mortified. He quickly folded his arms over his chest and tried to cover the bruise on his right arm with his left. “N-nothing, mom,” he stammered, “just kids stuff.”
“Nonsense!” exclaimed his mother as she raced towards him and pulled his arms away, exposing his chest. The motion was so fast that James' towel came loose, and he had to grab it with both hands to keep it from falling off. “That's not nothing! That looks like you might have cracked a rib!”
She gently rubbed his sternum, and he winced with pain. When she was satisfied that nothing was broken, she crouched down and cradled his face in her hands. “Come now, tell mommy what happened.” she cooed.
At the tone of her voice, James broke down and cried. He felt humiliated that he had not been able to keep from crying in front of his mother, but that only made him cry more.
“Oh, mommy,” he blubbered, “we played Stingers today in phys. ed. Mr Evans threw the ball into my arm, then Harry threw it into my chest, and... and... he called me a wuss, and they all laughed at me!”
His mother held her son tightly, and pressed his face into her shoulder. He sobbed until the tears stopped.
She took him by the arm and carried him into the kitchen, still wearing nothing but his bath towel. After sitting him down on a chair at the kitchen table, she opened the freezer and threw ice cubes into a dishcloth. She knelt in front of him and gently pressed the makeshift ice-pack onto his chest to stop the swelling.
“Your poor thing,” she said sweetly, “My poor, poor baby. Doesn't this teacher know that you're not strong enough for all that rough-housing? And encouraging the other children that way, how irresponsible.”
James sniffed away the last of his tears and rubbed his eyes with his fists.
“No, I tell you it's not acceptable,” continued his mother. “Tomorrow morning, I'm calling your school!”
James felt his heart skip a beat. His eyes opened like big saucers. Staring at his mother, he pleaded with her, “No, mommy, no! You'll only make it worse! Please don't do that! It's really not so bad. It'll get better, I promise. You'll see!”
Some time ago I joined this group called Book Grow on GoodReads, a social network site for book worms. It was in a forum thread that I first came into contact with Richelle E Goodrich, she ran an interview (of sorts) with me for her blog and we became friends since.
Richelle has a rich and classic style of telling children or YA stories and such a beautiful way with words so I was delighted when she agreed to work on something for Frazzle. What she came up with blew me away; The Beauty of UGH is a classically written fable not short of something from the Grimm brothers. It has a wonderful moral of beauty from within and has thoughtful quotes throughout. The story captured what I originally envisioned the book to be like, it is truly inspiring.
Richelle E. Goodrich lives in Washington with her husband and three boys somewhere in a compromise between country and city living. She has two BA degrees and possesses a wide range of interests in the creative arts.
Her love for writing emerged later in life, first manifesting itself through children's books geared at entertaining her boys. 'Eena, The Dawn and Rescue' and 'Eena, The Return of a Queen' (the beginning adventures in the Harrowbethian Saga) are Richelle's first novel-length achievements.
This author will tell you that the greatest thrill of writing is to hear what readers have to say about the characters living within her enchanted pages.
The Beauty of Ugh
Terrified that there might be even an ounce of truth to her brother’s claim that an ogre nicknamed by all the village children as ‘Ugh the ugly’ would clobber her over the head and have her brains for a stewed dinner, Elizabeth hurried forward out of the cornstalks. She turned abruptly, uncertain as to what she might glimpse—a boy or an ogre or a monstrous beast reaching for her. Still inside the cornfield, young Ugo’s features remained partially hidden behind tall, green stalks. Perhaps it was the slightly dim concealment preventing a sudden and shocking revelation of his face, or perhaps it was the girl’s determination to prove her brother wrong about this boy, or perhaps it was just sweet Elizabeth’s nature to see beyond the worst—no one can say for certain, but his big head so out of proportion, owning a crooked nose and swollen lips and eyes distinctly askew, didn’t cause any fearful reaction in the girl. None at all other than a wide-eyed return stare.
“Who are you?” she finally asked the figure who remained somewhat masked.
“Ugo,” the boy replied, his voice now a slightly softer, slightly vulnerable tone. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“I’m not scared,” Elizabeth declared straight away.
She gave no reply, concerned that there might not be any truth to her claim once this mysterious boy fully revealed himself. She squinted as if trying to focus past the cornstalks and shadows.
“I’ve never seen you before,” Ugo said.
Elizabeth raised her shoulders timidly. “I’ve never seen you before either.”
“Are you going to run away from me?” It was hard to miss the note of concern in his question.
A tense shoulder climbed higher as Elizabeth carefully answered, “I don’t, uh……I don’t think so.”
“Honest?” Surprise and hope intermingled in that one word.
The little girl nodded.
Wanting to trust this pretty stranger with hair that glistened in his favorite color, Ugo dared to come completely out of the field corn. Slouching worse than normal due to an unusually powerful case of self-consciousness, he blinked his eyes at the gawking female nervously sizing him up.
“Are you an ogre?” She had to ask.
Ugo’s bushy eyebrows perked and scrunched together. “No.” He glanced down at himself and then looked up again with his best apologetic face. “I’m sorry if I look like one.”
Elizabeth confessed, “I don’t know if you do; I’ve never actually seen an ogre.”
An awkward moment of silence transpired where Elizabeth had a hard time keeping her eyes on the ugly boy. Ugo spoke up apologizing again. He truly didn’t want this pretty creature with sunbeams for hair to run away.
It was the great Awesome Gang, an online book club where I first came into contact with Paul Howard. Yeah, I know, awesome is one of those rather trendy words with the kids of today here in the UK. It conjures a rather immature connotation in these parts but I understand that it is more acceptable over the other side of the pond! Anyway, it is a good word to sum up the gang, they are awesome! The site has attracted many authors and readers and is undoubtedly one of the best book sites for promotion around at the moment. Vinny does a great job and I am looking forward to a couple of days when he has kindly agreed to give Frazzle a free plug that others would normally have a small fee to pay for. It is this kind of support that makes the project all worthwhile, people giving their services for free really gets my spirits up and harnesses my faith in the human race!
So, back to Paul, I was wondering what he was going to pull out of the bag as he claimed he changed his mind on the plot of his story a few times and when it came it was the last entry and so I was waiting with baited breath (yeah, ok, my breath is always baited, fish baited, yeah, go on, laugh it up!) I was impressed with this one, slightly satirical, a bit of rock n roll and a wholly inspirational plot.
Paul Howard has left the building! He is an author, screenwriter and film maker and here he is in his own words: my screen credits include the cult classic "Night Terror" (1990) and the soon to be released "Hunt For the Desert Apeman" in collaboration with M.L. Behrman. I published my first novel: "The Galley"(2012) and its' short story extract: "The Unthinkable (The Great Fire of Rome)"(2012). My newest books are "Timelines: The Beethoven Incident"(2013) and the first installment of "The Palindrome Chronicles": the short story "We Were Here!(2013)" In October my newest book, "Phoenix Part One: Spooks" was published.
After spending my early years in the Midwest, I migrated to Southern California where I received most of my education. There is an old saying: "You can take the boy out of the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy." I think that's true in my case. Although I've lived in L.A. most of my life, the simple ways of Southern Illinois are still close to my heart. I love the opportunities to get away to the quiet of the deserts and countryside. It helps me think. My joys in life are playing the guitar and spending time with my grandchildren, (as well as writing!)
“Excuse me, ma’am,” He said softly, “I’m looking for Miss Almira Turner’s room.” The nurse looked up at him casually, and nearly jumped when she realized who he was. She opened her mouth to say something, but he put his finger to his lips and gestured for her to be quiet. She closed her mouth, but the excitement made her eyes pop. He looked around and smiled at her when she finally calmed down.
“Can I have your autograph?” she asked, thrusting a pad into his hands. He took it softly and grinned.
“Why sure, honey,” he said as he signed, “I’d be pleased.” He handed the pad back to her. “Almira Turner’s room number, please?” The nurse looked down at her admissions sheet; she was still shaking with excitement.
“Room 211.” She looked back up at him, only now with cow-eyes. He touched her hand.
“Thank you, ma’am,” he said and winked at her, “Just our little secret, O.K.?” He picked up his guitar and never let her eyes leave his. She winked back and giggled softly.
“O.K.” she whispered playfully.
Elvis moved to the elevator and decided to try his sunglasses, hoping they would give the anonymity he was seeking. Press photos with sunglasses were not yet the rage, and he figured they would do the trick. The elevator opened and he had it all to himself. He looked back at the desk nurse and smiled at her before the door closed. She looked down at the autograph in her hand:
“To Doris, Thanks for your help! Elvis”
She smiled with glee; he had read her name tag and personalized it, a nice touch.
Although invited, Mr. Turner simply could not get off of work, but Mrs Turner awaited her daughter’s visitor with great anticipation. It was all she could do to keep her secret to herself, but she had promised, and thought the world of Elvis for what he was doing.
The elevator opened on the second floor and Elvis moved out looking for 211. After the reaction he got downstairs, he decided to keep a low profile and find it for himself. It was only a few doors down to his left.
Almira had been making use of her time in bed, she liked the books her family had sent and watched the TV. Her favorite were the pencils and crayons, which she would use to pass the hours. The wall behind her bed was covered with drawings that the nurses helped her put up. Her mother had dressed her in a pretty gown and brought her a new bathrobe to wear over it. She was sitting up in bed with her mother, Almira could tell that there something different about her today, but couldn’t tell what it was. She had a strange smile that stayed with her all morning.
A knock came at her door. Mrs Turner got up and opened the door, she was so excited, she was shaking. She smiled and turned to Almira.
“Almira, you have a visitor.” She said softly, with a grin from ear-to-ear. Elvis came in and waved at her. Almira gasped with so much surprise and pleasure that she almost fell out of the bed.
So you go into the supermarket and between electing what chocolate biscuits you want to buy and what washing up liquid is best you spot the cheap books on the side shelf. Picking one up you made your choice and you throw it in the trolley with the sliced bread and the boil-in-the-bag rice sachets. You like this author, or at least you have heard of them because everyone has. This is the big time publishers, mostly names that are already celebrities and have been ghost-written or else just a list of their recipes disbursed with glossy photos of them sitting in exotic locations browsing a novel or sipping an ice cold smoothie. It’s all so false, so plastic but what else are you going to read, this is what is out there?
Wrong on all levels, there is a world, a wealth of authors struggling to find a publisher or often, not even bothering. In an over-populated era where celebrities and a handful of successful authors can dominate the publishing world this is all they want to throw at you. Publishing houses need not take the expense of seeking out new talent while you are lapping up that TV celebrity chef’s latest composition of tarts, cheesecake recipes and photos of them in their khaki shorts, causally foot-frolicking their flip flop with some exotic rubber plants in the background.
Bitter? No, what gave you that impression? All I want is for people to understand that you don’t have to succumb to the guidelines of the big publishing houses. You can be brave and venture out on your own, go on, you are big enough now; find an author that is self-publishing, take a chance, it may not pay off immediately; you may find that your first choice, even second choice of book was a disaster, after all, with no copy editors, big bosses and publishing experts in control any man and his dog can put a book out; Amazon make it so easy. So if you get a book that does look like it’s been written by that bloke or even his dog I beg of you, please don’t give up. You will find in this sea of amateur writers that many of us are favourable, likable and many of us can tell a damn good story.
This is the point I always make in trying to convince people to switch off of the status-quo and discover the world of self-publishing; it is the interaction. So now you have read the book you bought from the supermarket, you liked it or perhaps you didn’t; what now? Does it go the shelf with the thought that one day you might have a reread, or perhaps Auntie Flo will take a fancy to it and borrow it never to return it again. Perhaps you are more charitable (I hope so) and you hand it into the charity shop or perhaps you are strapped for cash and you stick it on eBay; who knows but I will guarantee you will not have the interaction with that story, that writer as the person that delves into self-publishing can. You know, you can contact the author, tell him what you thought of their outpourings, tell them you liked it and you will have a friend forever and they will more than likely throw you a freebie book or at most give you the thumbs up on other authors you may like. Thus then after a few bad choices at the start you are beginning to open up to a wealth of good reads that you never dreamed existed. You can interact so much through the social networks, you can write a nice review and what is more, you might find yourself inspired enough to give it a go yourself; hey, what the heck, there are billions of us already, one more author is not going to harm anyone; come on in, the water is lovely!
Here then is my second reasoning for starting this book, all the people I have met, writing their own thing. With this project, project Frazzle if you will, I hope to enlighten some people, drag them kicking and screaming into the self-publishing ocean. I want them to realise how talented some of these people are, I wanted them to be introduced to other authors. The fact that all the authors that contributed have now become friends I feel is an achievement; my next goal is get people liking the individual stories and going out to find about the people that wrote them.
So the reasoning behind this short book/blog post is to introduce the book I Am Not Frazzle, to convince you to buy a copy as it will benefit the children we spoke about at the beginning and also help authors reach a new audience. It has come to my attention that there is confusion surrounding the book, that some think that it is a children’s book. Perhaps this is because it is for a children’s charity, perhaps the nature of the cover, despite it says “Stories for grownups!” on it, this spin may have gone over some heads I feel, the joke not been fully understood. So I put these extracts together so that you can see the range and talent we have here. Please then, if you have read this far do not leave us now. Go onto the website: www.imanotfrazzle.webs.com - join up and take part in the forums, take time to contact your favourite authors here and get involved, this is more than a book but most of all, please consider buying a book or an eBook, you will not be disappointed, these guys are good at what they do!
I leave you then with the last extract, from James Penhaligon, a man who relates to my rant about talented authors out there you may not have come across in the supermarket aisle. James ran a free promo day on his book “Speak Swahili Dammit!” and the title alone made me interested and amused. When I read it I was sucked into the narrative, set in the rural backwaters of East Africa and told autobiographically through the eyes of a young white boy from Cornwall whose family moved there when he was just six this book amuses and entertains, informs and evokes so many emotions that I cannot see why so many would opt to buy supermarket paperbacks when authors like James, and all our other authors here in fact would be hard at writing.
I was overjoyed when James told me we could use a story of his, taken from a children’s book of African styled fables he put together with James Cruickshank, Nagu the Baboon takes a moralistic approach to a charming tale in true Kipling style.
So I leave it with you, our last extract, like the others, it is pretty amazing stuff and I hope that it, like the others will encourage you to download our humble book, I am not Frazzle! Know now that it is not just me, it is bigger than me, and it is something so powerful that I am so delighted and proud of that which we have achieved, please, please support me in that and lets raise some funds for the Centre. My son, like the others at the centre will soon be off to school, but this book will be here forever and the funds will help the children that follow in their footsteps.
James Penhaligon is a multi-lingual consultant psychiatrist in the United Kingdom. Born to Cornish parents, and raised deep in the bush in Tanganyika, later to emerge as Tanzania, he remains a fluent Swahili speaker, and has never been able to escape his early influences, or the gaze it gave him on life and the world.
Despite having left Africa, and carving himself a successful career in medicine, and later psychiatry, James has always had a fascinating East African story waiting to be told, and, finally, he has written it. The result is "Speak Swahili, Dammit!"
Nagu the Baboon
Yawning and rubbing his little brown eyes, Nugu lazily stretched himself, and then yawned again. He was so tired. Stumbling sleepily to the entrance, he sat down with his back to the rising sun. The hair on his back fluffed out as the warmth penetrated to his skin. This is the best time of day, he thought. Just time to squeeze in forty winks, then I’ll go find some breakfast.
He lay down on his side, and was almost asleep, when a loud bark startled him. Instantly alert, he looked down the valley, but there was nothing to see. Another short sharp bark echoed round and round the hills. It sounded very much like Moja, a three year old from his troop.
Moja or ‘One’ was named so because he was born with only one ear. At first he’d been very embarrassed, but in time he grew to appreciate the attention it caused. It made him feel special and important, and now he was proud.
Nugu and Moja were once good friends, but, like the rest of the troop, Moja had turned against him. ‘Huh,’ grunted Nugu, ‘trust Moja, to be first out in the morning. Anyone would think he personally owned the hills.’ He stretched and yawned again.
‘Well,’ he said to himself as he got to his feet, ‘I suppose I’d better get going before Moja grabs every little thing worth eating.’
Giving his tail a good scratch, Nugu raised it in a loop over his head, and strode jauntily down the valley. He headed towards the waterhole, which was the best place to begin a nice day. His keen eyesight and lightning-fast hands soon caught him several lovely fat grasshoppers, which he gobbled with relish.
His next find was almost too good to be true for so early in the day, a nice juicy wild melon. Nugu broke open its hard skin with his sharp teeth, and sat on the ground to eat. Soon it was all gone. But Nugu was not stupid. He knew from experience not to eat everything in one go.
A monkey with a doggish face, he does the monkey race disgrace, baboon's a rogue, but you will find, beneath his fur he’s sweet and kind.
Thanks for reading this, I hope you can now go out and but the book! Since the books launch the Opportunity Centre has had its budget slashed by Government cuts on Council funding and so the need is greater than ever, please help me raise some money, buy a book and/or you can donate some money to the fund on our website too. Any other ways you can help us out, places to sell the book, help with promoting and marketing the book I would love to hear from you.
For more info: www.iamnotfrazzle.webs.com
Thank you, Darren Worrow.