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Hi, Pearl here! I thought I’d get a little post in before the dreaded Gutenberg strikes. I’m not exactly sure what Gutenberg is, but Annabelle talks about it like it’s some kind of demon that’s about to descend on Blogland, making it impossible to post anything.
I’ve got to say I’m not impressed with 2020 so far. Annabelle says I’ve got to do something called ‘cold turkey’. I thought I’d done that already – I’ve had chicken or turkey with my dinner every day for the past couple of weeks – but apparently cold turkey means giving up turkey. She says it’s my New Year’s resolution and I have to stick to it. I think it’s a damn cheek that she’s making New Year’s resolutions on my behalf, particularly as she hasn’t made any herself, but that’s humans for you – one rule for them and another for us.
The worst of it is that human rules don’t work. That’s why the world is in such a mess, and I can’t see it changing just because it’s a new year. Of course, if we dogs were allowed to run things, it would be a different story. We have a strong sense of justice and fair play, and if someone is being greedy and taking more than their fair share, we sort it out in the most straightforward way. I truly believe that dogs can save the world!
This wonderful video demonstrates what I’m talking about.
The answer is simple – if you want real change in 2020, put dogs in charge!
Happy New Year, everyone!
All I want for Christmas is to be able to get up the stairs when we go to visit our extended pack – my knees are getting stiff, and stairs are starting to look scary. Annabelle’s family lives upstairs, so if I can’t get up the stairs we’ll have to come straight back home. Wish me luck!
In return I wish you lots of turkey. And sausages. And those lovely crispy little bits of bacon that go around the sausages. And treats. And chews.
And when you can’t move after all that food, and you’re bored with Christmas TV, and you’ve broken all your toys, why not check out one of Annabelle’s books? Gateway to Magic is FREE from Christmas Day through January 1!
Here’s what one happy reader had to say:
“Gateway to Magic by Annabelle Franklin was a cute, quick read with some valuable lessons within. I shared this book with my little ones, who absolutely loved it. From their point of view it was ‘awesome’. The author did a wonderful job of painting the scenes, making things very easy to visualise, most especially the Forest of Pointy Fingers! I love it when authors bring a story to life by word-painting, and Franklin doesn’t disappoint! Franklin’s Gateway to Magic is perfectly tailored to its target audience, as my brood can well attest. They all loved it, and we’ll be reading it again for sure!” – J. Aislynn d’Merrickson for Readers’ Favorite
Have a magical Christmas, and I’ll see you in the New Year!
Smorgasbord At Christmas – Festive Short Stories – A Spoilt Princess and an Unprincipled Frog by Annabelle Franklin
Many thanks to Sally Cronin for featuring my tongue-in-cheek tale on her festive short story spot. I usually write for kids, but this one’s for the grownups!
Children’s author Annabelle Franklin with a modern twist on an old fairy story and a cautionary tale..
Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess called Clelia. She lived in a magnificent palace with her mother the King and her father the Queen. (No, readers, that’s not a misprint – her mother wore the trousers, and her father was a Queen in every sense of the word.) They ruled over the prosperous kingdom of Chelsitania, where everyone was posh.
The King and Queen had one great sorrow: they couldn’t find a suitable husband for their daughter. Clelia had been spoiled rotten and was such a brat that no self-respecting prince wanted a bar of her.
On her sixteenth birthday and with Christmas approaching, her parents gave her a golden ball. ‘This is a rubbish present,’ she said sulkily. ‘I wanted a German sports car.’ And she flounced out into…
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I envy writers who have the nerd gene. Nerdism is not a bad thing. Nerds are generally very patient and don’t lose their temper – essential qualities for online marketing. Nerds are capable of producing swanky websites with book trailer videos worthy of Spielberg, because they don’t lose their rag when the tech is uncooperative. As it so often is.
I have difficulties with online marketing because I suffer from techno rage. For me, working on a computer is often like working with a particularly annoying colleague – the sort of negative person who is always presenting problems instead of solutions. The sort of person who says things like ‘I can’t do that’ and ‘you’ll have to try something else’, and when you ask for suggestions they say, ‘I don’t know, you’re meant to be in charge here, you figure it out!’ The sort of person you feel like slapping, hard. I reckon computers should come with a dummy head attached to the top, so you’ve got something to punch when it displays those stupid messages saying something’s wrong without telling you how to fix it.
Upgrades are particularly annoying. Every time I get an upgrade, my computer refuses to do things it did perfectly well before, and I have to learn a more complicated way of doing them. It’s like having an old but good worker replaced by some whizz kid fresh out of college with all the gear and no idea.
And now we’re faced with Gutenberg, the “wonderful” new WordPress editor which we will all be forced to use from New Year’s Day onwards. In anticipation of this, I’ve been trying to learn the damn thing and have nearly had a nuclear meltdown in the process. It’s taken me two hours just to work out how to create a free test blog so I can experiment without messing up my current one. I don’t hold out much hope for success in navigating the rest of this unwelcome learning curve. I can see me being unable to write posts at all after midnight on December 31.
For this reason, I would like to wish all my readers a Happy New Year now. In case you don’t see me again.
Hi, Pearl here! My fellow canine author Ani has kindly taken time off from talking to the birds to host me on her blog. Feel free to head on over and find out how we Storyhounds help our human authors find ideas.
I got into a bit of bother for talking to the birds today.
She knows I have to, because I’m a bird-dog… it’s in my blood, you see. But she says that while she doesn’t mind me having a word, other two-legses prob’bly just hear me barking… and they won’t like it.
She might have a point… ’cause normally, it’s just the pigeons I talk to. But I don’t get owls in the garden very often… and it’s not my fault they come out at night when two-legses want a bit of peace and quiet! I’m only doing what I was born to do… sorting out the feathered things and guarding my two-legs.
But heigh ho, they have some odd ideas sometimes that we should be how they want us to be… not how we are…
I’m not sure that’s very fair.
Mind you, fair or not, I’ll…
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‘I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go,’ said Mr Blowhard.
‘What?’ cried the Captain. ‘You’re firing me?’
‘You mustn’t think of it like that,’ said Mr Blowhard, trying to look kind. This didn’t come naturally to him, as he wasn’t a kind sort of person and his wasn’t a kind sort of job. ‘You’ll get a good pension, and the boys have clubbed together to give you a send-off. They’ve bought you a lovely clock!’
‘But I can’t retire,’ the Captain protested. ‘I’m not old enough – the government has just raised the pension age to 75.’
‘You are 75,’ Mr Blowhard reminded him. ‘The boys threw you a party last month, remember?’
‘Oh yes,’ said the Captain. ‘But I don’t feel 75! I’m still fit and healthy, and I’m perfectly capable of doing my job. I’ve never done anything else!’
Mr Blowhard squirmed in his seat and resisted the urge to scratch his bottom that always came upon him in awkward moments. This was proving harder than he’d expected.
‘How can I put this?’ he said, steepling his fingers and gazing at the ceiling of his plush office. ‘We feel your image is a bit… outdated. In this business, as you know, it’s vital to move with the times.’
‘Outdated?’ exploded the Captain. ‘What on earth do you mean?’
‘Our advertisements have a certain… target market. We aim to reach a certain… demographic. That is, the grannies. Children don’t buy fish fingers… and nor do parents anymore, they’re all feeding their kids tofu and alfalfa sprouts. Fish fingers are what the grannies give the little darlings when they come to tea.’
‘I see,’ said the Captain, slightly deflated. ‘But why wouldn’t I appeal to the grannies all of a sudden? I’m the right age, aren’t I?’
‘You don’t have the right image,’ said Mr Blowhard.
‘Image? What on earth do you mean?’
‘Grannies aren’t what they used to be, Captain. Thanks to the media marketing machine and the diet and cosmetics industries, grannies have been encouraged to believe they should still be sexy.’
‘Sexy?’ cried the Captain, his red cheeks puffing out through his white whiskers like a baboon’s backside. ‘Since when did grannies need to be sexy? They’re well past reproductive age – some of them are past the menopause! Grannies are meant to be cosy, not sexy!’
‘Grannies need to be sexy, Captain, because the beauty industry needs them to be sexy. It’s made a fortune selling compulsory sexiness to younger women, so now it’s doing the same with the older ones. It’s got all the old girls doing aerobics and having their faces rebuilt and dressing like teenagers and joining online dating sites. It’s created a whole new market by making grannies think they need to be sexy. ’
‘I still don’t see why you need to fire me,’ the Captain said stiffly. ‘Presumably they still buy fish fingers when the grandkids come to tea?’
‘Of course they do!’ said Mr Blowhard with a patronising smile. ‘We’d be out of business otherwise.’
‘So why are you firing me?’
‘Because you’re not sexy!’ shouted Mr Blowhard, losing patience. ‘The grannies don’t want cosy anymore. They don’t want a maritime version of Santa Claus with a West Country accent, they want a virile, exciting sea captain!’
The Captain stared at him. ‘But that’s preposterous. You can’t have a young Captain Codfish.’
‘Of course not – he’s still going to be a grandad figure. We’re even going to have him swimming with the grandkids. But, just like the grannies, he’s going to be sexy as well as old. And you don’t fit the brief, which is why we’re letting you go.’
The Captain had run out of arguments. He got up, put on his cap and stamped out of the office.
Hi, Pearly Greyhound here! I’m over the moon – I’ve just won a book of pictures and poems about pointy dogs! The wonderful whippets who feature in the book picked my name out of the hat themselves. If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is!
We closed entries yesterday afternoon in order to prepare individual cards for today’s draw. The idea was that Pearl and Eivor would pull one card out of the hat each.
Pearl wanted to go first:
Congratulations to Anne Leueen from HorseAddict!
Next, it was Eivor’s turn:
Congratulations to Cathy Ryan from Between the Lines Books ‘n’ Stuff!
I wanted to take another picture of Eivor when Pearl made a bee-line for the hat and flicked a third pink card on the floor.
They both looked at me as if to say there’s another name from the hat.
We decided it would only be fair to let this one count too:
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Here’s an extract from my work in progress, a supernatural comedy for kids!
Chapter One: Spooky Action
Charlie Busby lay in bed, watching a spider as it built its web in the corner of the sloping ceiling. He could hear the shouts and laughter of the other kids playing on the village green. He longed to be with them, but his mother had sent him to bed early for bunking off school.
‘She would never have found out if Jemima Bosscombe hadn’t told her mother,’ he grumbled to himself. ‘I bet Mrs Bosscombe couldn’t wait to spread the news.’
Charlie had skilfully avoided Upper Bottom Village School for most of the spring term. He preferred to spend his time playing in the woods, pretending to be a powerful wizard. His teacher, Mr Taxi, had never mentioned his absence. Charlie suspected Mr Taxi liked it better when he wasn’t there to cause trouble.
‘I wish I was a powerful wizard,’ he thought. ‘No one could send me to bed early then. I could stay up all night if I wanted.’
Much later, he heard his mother grumbling to his father as they came upstairs.
‘There’s something wrong with that boy!’ she said.
‘Yes, dear,’ said Mr Busby.
‘He’s not like other children. I knew he was trouble the minute he was born.’
‘He’ll never amount to anything… all he’ll be fit for is a job in McDuffers…’
Mrs Busby’s voice faded out as she shut their bedroom door, and soon the sound of her snores vibrated through the wall.
Charlie had always known his mother didn’t like him. The corner of his room was filled with evidence of her dislike – a heap of grubby old toys she’d picked up from jumble sales, because she thought it was all he deserved for Christmas. The latest of these was a toy owl, knitted by the Vicar’s wife from beige wool and stuffed with Reverend Siggisworth’s old socks. Mrs Siggisworth had made clothes for it out of green felt – a school uniform, complete with cap. Charlie hated that owl; its stuck-on features had such a superior look.
It wasn’t as if the Busbys were too poor to afford decent presents. Mrs Busby was just mean. She only let him keep the laptop his Dad had given him because he needed it for his homework.
An hour later, he was still wide awake. ‘I’m too bored to go to sleep,’ he muttered.
‘How strange,’ said a voice in the corner.
Charlie felt like he’d had an electric shock. He sat rigidly against the pillow, his tawny hair sticking up in hedgehog spikes.
‘Who’s there?’ he whispered.
A faint moonbeam lit the corner. At first, he could only see the pile of toys with the knitted owl perched on top, its round felt eyes staring smugly back at him. Then he noticed something on the carpet near the bottom of the pile – a shimmering puddle of light, made of fizzing white dots.
It’s a ghost! he thought, and pulled the duvet up to his chin. Part of him wanted to pull it right over his head, but a bigger part wanted to see what would happen next.
The puddle of light grew into a pillar, and took on human form. The ghost had curly hair, a droopy moustache and a small triangular beard. He wore short pumpkin-legged pants, a jewel-encrusted tunic and a massive frilly collar that looked like the trimming on a Christmas cake.
He gazed at Charlie with eyes that glittered like moonlit coal. ‘Very strange indeed.’
‘What is?’ said Charlie, speaking with difficulty. His mouth felt like rubber.
‘You said you were too bored to sleep. Most people find that boredom sends them to sleep.’
‘Are you going to kill me?’ said Charlie.
The ghost raised his slug-shaped eyebrows. ‘Why would I want to do that?’
‘It’s what ghosts do, isn’t it? Kill people and take over their bodies and turn them into zombies.’
The ghost tittered. ‘You’ve been watching too many movies.’
‘How do you know about movies?’ said Charlie. ‘You’re from the old days, they didn’t have movies then. And how come you don’t talk like one of those boring Shakespeare plays?’
The spectre rolled his eyes. ‘I haven’t spent all this time on the astral plane without learning how to speak modern English! I like to keep up with the times – and I’ve been hanging around you for a while.’
Charlie shivered at the thought of this ghost being there without him knowing. ‘Why have you been spying on me?’
‘I haven’t been spying on you.’ The ghost sighed. ‘Believe me, your life isn’t that interesting. I’ve been gathering energy so I can appear to you. I’ve come to give you a message.’
‘Go on, then,’ said Charlie.
‘I’ve come to tell you that you have power, and it’s high time you started using it.’
Charlie’s heart leaped. ‘What sort of power?’
‘Magical power, boy.’
Now it was Charlie’s turn to raise his eyebrows. He wanted it to be true; on the other hand, it seemed too good to be true.
‘Don’t you believe me?’ said the ghost.
‘I don’t know,’ said Charlie. ‘I’ve never seen any sign of this magical power. Why should I believe the word of some random ghost?’
‘Because you and I have a special connection.’
‘Oh? What’s that, then?’
‘It would take too long to explain,’ said the ghost, turning back into a pillar of light, ‘and I don’t have much time. You’ve seen no sign of your power because you’ve only ever played at magic; you’ve never tried to do it for real. You need to start. Now.’
‘Wait!’ said Charlie, as the ghost shrank to a puddle on the floor. ‘How do I do it?’
‘Will,’ said a voice in the corner.
‘Will? What d’you mean?’
But the ghost had gone.
From Bad Boy Wizard #1: The Astral Gatecrashers © 2019 Annabelle Franklin
When Snip and Frieda’s humans go out, they leave Radio 4 on to keep the dogs company, so Snip and Frieda are well informed about British politics. I, on the other hand, know very little about it, and I’m not sure I want to know.
I’ve heard Snip and Frieda talking about something called ‘Brexit’. At first I thought it was something tasty to eat, but according to Snip and Frieda it’s nothing as nice as that. Frieda said it might even lead to shortages of tasty things to eat, which is distinctly worrying.
Snip told me not to worry – he’s laid-back about it, as he is about everything. His motto is ‘Don’t worry, be happy’.
Luckily, we don’t have to hear about Brexit in our house. Annabelle prefers music to talking on the radio, so we only listen to Radio 1.