Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Winter Song





Bright winter messages

Glisten on trees

Falling like wraiths

To tingle and tease.

Memories fly by

Lost in a haze

Of smoke and frost circles

From older days.

Take a hand, see a smile,

Touch the same face

That used to look up

In a child’s embrace.

Wait for the moment

Still close and dear

When love then and now

Shyly comes near.

This is the feeling

We wait all year for

Sit close and listen,

Stars, stories and more.



copyright Amanda J Harrington 2013

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Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Wedding.


The look, the touch, the warm embrace
The shining eyes, the loving face
How did we come.so far today
From when we met in Love's own way?

Did we know, then and there
That we had found our matching pair?
Did we dream the night before
Of the heart that waited at the door?
Were we lonely, right.to the time
My eyes met yours and yours met mine?

Today we step together, love
Our lives as one, our words will prove
This moment is for me and you
Our love is treasured, we are true.



copyright Amanda J Harrington 2013

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Friday, 20 December 2013

The New Daughters - free chapters from the First World War family story


In 1918, just before the end of the Great War, Thomasina and her sister Georgina are sent to live with their Aunt Ernestine. With their father dead and their mother turning away from the world, the girls have no choice but to become part of a new family.

Georgina is immediately at home and revels in their country life, but Thomasina is a lonely, determined girl who desperately misses her father and does not want to admit she needs anyone's help. Thomasina's letters to her controlling, narcissistic mother tell the story of how she grows into a strong young woman who finally realises she has a family it is safe to love.

The New Daughters is the third book in the historical fiction series, Hands Across Time. These are the first chapters in the book and link with the final chapters of Ernestine's War. This book is set in South Cumbria, which was still known as Westmorland at the time of the story.

The New Daughters is available on Amazon in the UK and the US.

Feel free to enjoy these chapters but please respect the copyright!

One

Dear Mamma,

When do you send for us? I have waited, as you said, and wondered why we are still here? Aunt Ernestine thinks we are to stay here forever! Please write to her and explain why that cannot be so. Does she not understand we have a home?

Yes, it is true that I turned up at her door ‘like a vagabond’, as you put it. What was the point of staying at school when I was not able to come back after break? I am an outcast there now and I wish I had been given some warning of the change.

I will not discuss what makes you ill, Mamma. I know you do your best and will have us home as soon as you are able.

Georgie is growing a little, though mainly outwards as far as I can see. Mamma, she is a glutton. When she is alone – or thinks herself alone – she goes into the pantry and finds what she calls ‘goodies’ and eats them, like an animal in its den. Mamma, I have explained she will be like a fat toad sitting on a sagging lily pad but she thinks it is funny and runs off. I told her she will not be able to run much longer, either, if she does not hold herself in.

I am glad you asked after my studies. Aunt Ernestine teaches us – it is like being in a different time. I am sure she was quite up-to-date when she was young but now she tries to make us learn things which I have no interest in - it is so far removed from a proper education. Yesterday, we were stacking logs and she tried to tell me it was educational! She said if we did not do it properly, the logs might fall and squash us and this is what she termed an education! I think she is being flippant in the hopes I will warm to her.

Mamma, do think about getting things ready for us. The landing window will not fix itself and I hope my room is not as damp as when I last came home. I am lonely here, without you.
Tommie

Two

Dear Mamma,

Georgie was sick today, after she spent half the morning with Mr Grey, eating anything he offered and then the other half of the morning in Aunt Ernestine’s pantry. She has eaten enough for three small girls for a week. I am afraid I had words with our aunt over it.

She will not see how bad it is to let a child like Georgie away with things. She says that Georgie is trying to – how did she put it? – test us. Well, I say, if she is testing us let her see what happens! If she had behaved like that at my school, she would have been caned and deserved every bit of it! I have no idea why Aunt Ernestine allows it. She tells me to have faith.

Uncle Giles looked today when I was shouting (I admit, I did raise my voice: I have apologised and promised to black-lead all the fires for a month). He is very strange. I do not know why they let you have a helper, Mamma, when you are only a little delicate and then let Uncle Giles wander around without anyone to watch him.

Randalf says that he watches and looks after his Papa, but he is a very small boy and did not know what I meant. I am not surprised to tell you that cousin Giles has kicked me in the shins four times in the past week. He is insufferable.

Let me know when the window is fixed, Mamma. I am quite happy to sleep on the old couch, if need be. My bedroom can wait.
Tommie

Three

Dearest Mamma,

Paul Jesserby came again today. He does the gardens and he takes people around in that old cart of theirs. Everyone here is so countrified! They think there is nothing wrong with climbing up into a rickety cart, with a smelly pony on the front and letting Paul drive them about. I have only seen two cars and I have been here a fortnight. And Mamma, those two cars were together! I do believe I could go weeks here without seeing any cars and goodness knows how long between them going by!

I will be so glad when we can come back down to London. People here are silly, but pretend always to be knowledgeable. I think they believe their knowledge is better than people who come from cities, as if living in a no-where-land somehow makes them more intelligent than people who see true life, every single day. They are fools.

I went to the top of Underbarrow Scar today and watched the world go by. It felt like I was moving when I looked at the clouds scudding past. Paul Jesserby told me the view was ‘grand’ from up there, and he was right. There was a big fuss when I came home as no one knew where I was. I did not expect it to take so long, though I am not sorry for going.

I feel aggrieved today that I am not even allowed into the garden and have been given more housework to do! Mother, I do believe Aunt Ernestine means to make a slave of me. She cannot afford a servant, so she uses me, a ‘big, strong girl’, as she puts it. Perhaps I am big and strong but that does not mean I have to be used like a domestic dray-horse!

If I came home next month, then we could make a start on the front room together. I would not mind being domestic in my own home, Mamma. I would do it, for us as well as just for you. Please reconsider. It is only a month or so until Christmas.

Tommie


copyright Amanda J Harrington 2013

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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Scraps


Scraps



A scrap of knowing
Flutters from above
Waving on the air as it falls.

Gently touches my face
Brushed away in my hurry
Lost again in the maelstrom.



copyright Amanda J Harrington 2013

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Sunday, 15 December 2013

Jump! into Literacy - Creative Literacy for Primary


This book is part of the Creative Literacy series which supports different stages of learning, from general literacy in Primary English through to GCSE literacy support.

Jump! into Literacy has a full and detailed set of comprehension activities, using one complete book, The Boy Who Broke the School.

Jump! into Literacy also includes creative writing and non-fiction writing exercises.

Bullying is covered in a lot of the exercises, as it is a major theme within The Boy Who Broke the School. There is also a separate discussion section which introduces different elements of bullying, helping children to think through the issues involved in it.




Jump! into Literacy is split into three main sections:

Comprehension: Comprehension, literary criticism and language exploration based around one fiction book, The Boy Who Broke the School, by Amanda J Harrington.

Discussions: This section explores the issues of bullying and includes creative writing, non-fiction writing and discussion points.

Original writing: Real life and fantasy writing ideas, designed to help the student practice and develop their original writing and English language skills.

This book is aimed at children aged 9 and over, including older students who need a helping hand with literacy

The free chapter is from the first section of the book and includes comprehension, critical thinking and original writing. Feel free to use this resource but please respect the copyright!

Jump! into Literacy is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon UK and US.


Later that night…

When Daniel gets home, he wants to forget all about meeting the imp (the little man). This extract sets the scene for when things get a little scarier, later in the book.

***

The light glinted off the shiny black surface of the grit the imp had given him. He quite liked the way it shone, like a tiny, sharp, black eye, gleaming at him from his hand. He smiled, then frowned. Had it been this size before? There seemed to be more of it now. That could not be right.

Daniel shook his head. He was not used to letting himself think about things for too long. He looked about the bedroom for something to do, and his hand put the grit back in his pocket without him knowing it.

That night, as Daniel lay in bed, there was a minuscule scraping sound in his bedroom. It was too small to wake him up, only a cat could have heard it, but there must have been something disturbing about it as Daniel began to frown in his sleep and mumble to himself. His dreams had turned bad but he could not wake up.

In the corner, where his trousers had been flung for the night, one pocket came alive for a moment as something moved about in it. The tiniest shape threaded its way out of the fabric and gleamed in the moonlight. It stopped for a moment and there was silence. Daniel relaxed in his sleep. Then it moved again, rolling and slipping across the floor, too quiet to hear, too nasty to ignore, until it reached the open wardrobe. Once there, it was lost in the darkness of Daniel's school clothes.

Daniel turned over in his bed and one arm fell over the side. Even in his sleep, instinct spoke to him and he pulled his arm back under the covers. A part of Daniel's mind that he never listened to did not feel safe in his room tonight.

***

1. Find the places in the extract where we begin to feel that there is something scary starting to happen.

2. In your own words, describe what the stone looks like.

3. Imagine you can see the whole of Daniel’s bedroom: using information from the text, describe what it might look like.

For instance, would it be clean and tidy? Would he have lots of nice things?

4. “It shone, like a tiny, sharp, black eye, gleaming at him from his hand”.

How does this sentence make you feel about the stone?

5. Describe what might have happened if Daniel had woken up while the stone was moving across the floor.

Try to write about him using what you already know of his personality. For instance, he is unlikely to hide under his covers and cry!

 
copyright Amanda J Harrington 2013

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Friday, 13 December 2013

Ernestine's War - free chapter from historical fiction series Hands Across Time


"How can I say, do not take him from me? How can I admit to such selfishness when other women already bear the pain of widowhood? Should I alone be allowed my gentle husband back with me, all in one piece, as if we deserved special treatment? And yet, I do pray for it, all the same. I pray for him here, with me; to hold his hand as we go through the doors and into the garden."

Ernestine is waiting, desperate for news as her husband fights in the War. It is the Spring of 1918 when Ernestine takes up her pen and confides in her diary, the only place where she does not have to be strong in the face of adversity. Here she talks about her hopes for the future, her fears for her husband and all the events, large and small, which overtake her family in the long, last year of the Great War.

Ernestine's War is the second book in the historical fiction series, Hands Across Time and the sequel to Letters from an Edwardian Lady.

Ernestine's War is available in paperback and ebook form in the UK and the US. I hope you enjoy this free chapter but, as usual, please respect the copyright!


Spring, 1918

One

How can I say, do not take him from me? How can I admit to such selfishness when other women already bear the pain of widowhood? Should I alone be allowed my gentle husband back with me, all in one piece, as if we deserved special treatment? And yet, I do pray for it, all the same. I pray for him here, with me; to hold his hand as we go through the doors and into the garden. His fingers covering mine, his wrist soft where my fingertips stray. His face, as I look up from his hand and find he has been watching me. Those eyes, so light and filled with that goodness which grows as a man ages into what he promised as a boy.

Here I am, a silly, thoughtless woman, wishing her husband safely home from a war against other husbands, our own and the enemy. They are all boys at heart, belonging to woman at some stage in their lives. They all looked up or down at a face that called them Love. Knowing there are many out there, alone in the midst of battle, I still wish for mine to come home to me.

There, I have admitted it. I will be wholly selfish here, if nowhere else. I will say what I never dare say in life: not when I pass the shop with Mrs Jesserby working alone, nor the cemetery, with little Mrs Hammond kneeling there, day after day. I will not say it to any other woman, wife, mother or sister, though I do not need to speak the words – our eyes whisper to one another and then we walk on.

What a terrible day this has been! And yet, it was like any other. I could not write here of any incident, large or small, that set my day off-kilter. I baked bread, as I have become used to doing and I went into the village for supplies. I passed the time with old Mr Grey at the corner, his eyes hooded with feeling as he spoke of his sons. I went into the shop and Mrs Jesserby was her usual self – how I envy her, the way she covers all, serving her customers. She would not let me pay in advance again, though I am able.

I came home and found that Randalf had returned before me and broken another vase. For a quiet child, he does ransack a house! It seems as if anything delicate or treasured is drawn to him, pulled into his current until, as they round a corner of the river, either Randalf or the break-easy changes direction and a collision occurs. This time it was the blue vase from Giles’ mother, which I hated, but still cried over.

With a sense of guilt, I sat and wrote her our silly news so that she might be cheered. I heartily wish she would come and live with us. She is alone, now, in their lovely house, with only two servants left and many tasks. Her home could be loved again, or looked-after at least: a local gentleman wanted to buy it for when his family joins him. She will not even rent it out at present, though I hope she changes her mind.

Then I watched in the evening, as Randalf and little Giles played in the far garden. Two small boys, bumbling about in the manner of all young creatures who have not yet found their grace. I can always tell them apart, from any distance. Giles Jnr is the one flailing his arms, cartwheeling, dancing, doing goodness-knows-what and any noises I hear from afar also belong to him. Then a figure nearby, joining in more quietly or standing, watching, is little Randalf. He seems sombre from afar and when I have some worry left, I use it on him and wonder if he is sad after all.

I stand alone and watch them sometimes, and it is myself who is sombre. There is no one here to be with me, as a woman, and call me by my name. In my life I am Mrs Mortimer, or Mamma, or ‘my Dear’ when Mother writes to me. Who is there now to call me Ernestine?

I am done for today. Tomorrow is a new chance to make it right, even though there is little I can do to affect anything. Perhaps this hopelessness is what assails me? I am a wife and mother and have so many powers within my grasp, but I cannot make it so that my husband returns to me and all is well. I am powerless.

Goodnight, little diary, I will go to sleep and dream of last year instead – and hope that next year will be its twin.

copyright Amanda J Harrington 2013

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A story somewhere