New Series – Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Book Reading and Interview


Sally's Cafe and Bookstore At the beginning of the year I said that I was going to focus the author promotions in 2017 around Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore.. which you will note has had a bit of a refurb.. this is my new library that we created in a previously closed up corridor on the ground floor of the house.. We have book cases in various places around our home but these shelves hold my most precious possessions.. such as my entire collection of Wilbur Smith that I have accumulated since the age of eleven, and many of my non-fiction buys over the years. They also hold some of the first books that I read such as Black Beauty and Little Women as well as my favourite authors from the last 50 years.

You will just have to imagine that they are in my virtual Cafe and Bookstore…along with all the wonderful 155  authors who have been added to the shelves in the last year.

Author Book Reading and Interview.

Now that I have a few of my own projects done and dusted… I can focus on the next promotion for the bookstore.

If this was a real cafe and bookstore I would set up regular book readings and interviews with the authors on the shelves.. But they is no reason why we cannot do that here.. The only thing missing of course is the customers who would be listening to the reading and asking questions of the author.

But I have that covered.

Here is how it works…

The author will answer four of my questions that I send to them out of twenty… They will also select a short extract from their book to share in the post. They will then also choose their favourite review for the book that we can add.

I will then do the introduction, the book blurb, about the author and the book links.

Then I will ask those who read the interview to add their questions to the comments section of the post for the author to answer.

This way we do manage to get some interaction, a wide range of questions and a chance to meet the author is a slightly different way.

First and foremost — authors who would like to be interviewed have to be already on the shelves of the bookstore (don’t worry if you are not.. there is a way to get there).

Also the authors must be willing and able to be around on the day or next day of the interview (Saturday and Sunday) to answer the questions.

I already have several authors lined up and if you are interested in joining the list then please contact me on

For those of you who are not already in the bookstore.


If you are not on the shelves then that is easy to fix.. I will do an individual promotion for you first and the details are in this post.

Look forward to hearing from you… and if you are a blogger I have a new promotion that will be posted tomorrow. Thanks Sally


A ‘HOW TO 101:’ Resource Page for Authors & Bloggers – Update…

To end this sunny weekend.. something else to smile about.. The Story Reading Ape has over 300 How To tutorials on his blog in a directory which is FREE for us to use as a resource… Forget Google…. just go APE…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

 There are now over 300


type posts on my blog

HOWTO 101:‘ page

img_8756Licence to use obtained Copyright : amasterpics123 at 123RF Stock Photo

To see the index of topics included

Click HERE

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Smorgasbord Round Up – Bruce Springsteen, The Borgias, Illustrations and New Review series

Welcome to this week’s round up of posts that you might have missed. I don’t want to speak too soon but the sun has been shining for the last two days and it looks like the week might be good too. I have spent some time sitting in the wind shade the last couple of days and it has been wonderful. Let’s hope I do not upset the rain gods in the next few days.

As always I am very aware that the blog is a collaborative effort. Not just with guests who are regular visitors but those of you who have popped in, left comments and shared posts across your own networks.  You are much appreciated.

On with the show.

William Price King meets some legends and we join Bruce Springsteen as his career hits an all time high with such iconic albums as Born in the USA.

Thomas the Rhymer

Writer in Residence Extra –  Paul Andruss takes us back through the ages with an exploration of the religious penalties for disobedience!

Sally's Cafe and Bookstore

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Book Reading and Interview with award winning children’s author Bette A. Stevens. Bette is still taking questions about her life and work and you can leave them in the comments section of the post. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Creative Artist Interview with artist and illustrator Donata E. Zawadzka who shared some of her stunning artwork and her life and training.

The Colour of Life by Geoff Cronin

My father-in-law’s book continues with some building advice and devilish behaviour

Book and author Promotion

If you would like to join the other authors on the shelves of the bookstore then please check out the details.

This week Lyn Horner introduced us to the Western Romance anthology The Posse.

Authors on the shelves of the bookstore enjoy regular updates including new releases, great reviews and offers on their books.

New series Air your Reviews – an opportunity for authors and reviewers alike to share excellent reviews. Open to everyone and not just those on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily

The Blogger Daily – do leave your links to your most recent post in the comments so that I can share.

Personal Stuff

My thanks to Robbie and Michael Cheadle for a wonderful review of Tales from the Garden.

Book Marketing – Smashwords and its affiliates.

An offer on What’s in a Name on my publishing website – £1.95

The Soldier by Sally Cronin

An estate in London is being overrun by teenagers on the rampage. An old soldier feels powerless.


Health – Top to Toe The Digestive System

Smorgasbord Health 2017

Thank you again for being so supportive. Enjoy what is left of the weekend and look forward to welcoming you again next week. Thanks Sally

My two guests this week for the Cafe and Bookstore Book Reading are John Fioravanti on Wednesday and Darlene Foster on Saturday.. get your questions ready.






The Colour of Life – The Devil Finds Work 1936 by Geoff Cronin

The Devil Finds Work 1936

It was the week before midsummer’s day and the farm yard was baking in the early afternoon sun.

The town boy cycled slowly through the big yard gate and freewheeled down the sloping yard, past the cattle pens on one side and the big hay-shed on the other, through the arch under the corn loft and stopped by the dairy. Here he dismounted and dropped his sweet can on the steps of the dairy. It was a new, shiny can with a wire handle and although carefully washed by his mother, it still smelled of the boiled sweets which it originally contained. Now, however, it was used for the daily collection of six pints of milk from the farm.

Sweet cans were very much part of life in those days. Boiled sweets were made in Hartreys Sweet Factory at the apple market in Waterford and they were packed in tin cans holding five or six pounds weight for dispatch to the shops. Shopkeepers would sell the can when empty for sixpence or might even give one free to a good customer. In any event, they were in common use in the country for carrying milk, water from the well, blackberries, mushrooms, cockles from the beach, butter, nails for building, lugworms for fishing and anything else you could think of.

Now the town boy sat by his can on the steps of the dairy facing the back door of the house where the scotch cattle dog dozed in the shade. The dog hadn’t moved for he knew the boy well and was used to seeing him come to the dairy and wait there for Kevin, the farmer’s young son.

The boy did not dream of approaching the back door to “call” for his friend because inside that kitchen dwelt Katty, the housekeeper, and she ruled with an iron hand. She had big feet with boots like a man, an apron made from a cotton flour bag and her hair, which fascinated the boy, was plaited at either side of her head and the plaits were then coiled up over her ears like black headphones. Her heavy unsmiling mouth showed a front tooth missing and her voice was like the crack of a whip.

Katty, a faithful retainer of the family, was regarded by the boys as a “murderous oul’ bitch”, in private of course, but the truth was that she catered for a family of nine plus four farm hands, saw to the calves, made the butter, cured the bacon and baked the bread and, as a kind of recreation, she looked after the fowl, her pride and joy.

With the work load she had, Katty was quick to grab any bit of help she could and Kevin was constantly being “nailed” to carry buckets to the calves or feed the dogs or turn the handle of the butter churn or bring in water from the pump or any one of a hundred other chores which so often kept him from joining his pal.

The town boy resented her, for he was hungry for company and loved everything about the huge farm and the fun he and Kevin had when they got together. For a town boy it was heaven – peeping in at the massive bull, diving from the top of the hay in the shed into the loose hay below, dipping apples into the cream bucket in the dairy and harpooning imaginary whales with hay pikes. It was the kind of magic which only ten-year-olds can weave.

As the town boy sat there, thinking of what he and Kevin might do and wondering how soon his pal might appear, two of the farm hands walked by on their way out to the fields and their rough voices cut through his thoughts. “…an’ when I was puttin’ out the cows this mornin’ there was a big vixen standin’ at the orchard gate lookin’ in at the hens in the haggert,” said Mossy.

“Jazes boy,” said Stephen, “I’d say she have cubs above in the corrig and with the rabbits gone scarce there now she’ll be down after Katty’s hens any minute.”

“Begod, Mossy, ye’re right,” said the other man, “I’ll tell Katty to tie the dog in the haggert for a few nights an’ maybe the boss would give you the gun in the mornin’ when ye’re goin’ for the cows.”

The two men passed the boy, engrossed in their talk, and paid him no heed, but he pondered their conversation and all that it entailed and marvelled at the thought that one hungry fox could cause so many problems in the farm.

When Kevin appeared, it was an hour to milking time and they set off up to the big hay shed chatting like a pair of magpies.

In the shed they climbed the ladder to the top of the first bench of hay and scrambled up the rest of the way to the top. There they could touch the hot iron roof and they lay down on their bellies and peeped down into the haggert where the hens were picking about the place and clucking quietly among themselves. They were coming in from the orchard in twos and threes now, as feeding time approached and soon Katty would be along with her bucket of scraps and a scoop of grain to feed them and talk to them like children.
Suddenly the town boy sat up, his eyes dancing.

“D’ye know what I heard a man telling my father last night?”

“What,” said Kevin.

“Well,” giggled the boy, “he said that if you got a hen and put her head under her wing and swung her from side to side seven times the hen would go fast asleep.”

Kevin hooted with laughter and so did his pal and they rolled around in the hay till they were out of breath. As they sat up facing each other and the laughter was about to erupt again,

Kevin said, “Hey, I wonder if it works?”

There was a silence for just a moment, then the pair slid down to the first bench and dived to the bottom.

It took a bit of running before they caught the hen and she squawked loudly as Kevin held her up. Then the town boy grabbed her head, lifted her wing, pushed her head under and lowered the wing to enclose the head. Kevin held her in front of him like a rugby ball, a hand on each wing.

“Come on,” hissed the town boy, “swing her.” Kevin did so and they counted together as the bird was swung side to side, three, four, five, six, seven. Kevin stopped. The bird was limp in his hands.

“Look at her legs hangin’ down,” said the town boy, wonder in his voice. “Jazes Kevin, she’s asleep. It works.”

Kevin laid the hen down on its belly and they both looked at it. It didn’t move.

“Oh Jazes,” said Kevin, “maybe she’s smothered.”

The town boy poked the hen and she rolled on her side. He gently touched the wing and out slid the hen’s head. Her eyes opened and she fluttered up with a loud squawk and ran off down the haggert. The two sat on the ground in silence, their boy’s minds racing with the enormity of their discovery…and the possibilities it opened up, and, as they looked at each other, the town boy reached out and took his pal by the sleeve,

“What d’ye say, Kevin,” he grinned, “if we catch all the hens and put ’em to sleep all around the haggert before Katty comes up to feed ’em?”

“Oh Jazes,” said Kevin, his eyes widening, “she’ll think they’re dead or something.” They laughed as they herded a bunch of hens into an empty stall and closed the door. One by one they brought the sleeping hens out and laid them about the haggert, all on their sides with the head underneath so that they couldn’t wake up.

They had just put out number fourteen when they heard Katty starting up from the kitchen with her bucket. They barely had time to get to the top of the hay in the shed before she arrived. They peeped down to watch from the safety of their hiding place.

The hens who were not asleep heard Katty too and started to run towards her as she headed up into the haggert. They reminded the town boy of the men who took part in the fathers’ race at the school sports.

Katty was crooning her usual “chook, chook, chook,” as she rounded the corner, her hand in the bucket to scatter the food. She looked up, stopped and dropped the bucket, her mouth open as she gazed around at the scene of carnage.

“Aw Jesus, God,” she wailed, “me lovely hens, God curse an’ blast that hoor’s melt of a fox. He’s after eatin’ the heads off all me lovely hens.

Donny, Donny, come boy,” she yelled, summoning the big cattle dog.

“Mikey, get the gun quick,” she howled, “the fox is in the haggert. Help, help,” she cried at the top of her voice, “the fox, the fox.”

Everyone seemed to arrive together: the dog and Mikey, Mossy, and Simon who were on their way in for the milking when they heard the shouting. They were all looking at Katty, her face tear stained and her eyes blazing.

“Can’t ye see what’s after happenin’,” she bawled, “lookit me hens, will ye. Can’t ye go and get the bastard fox and don’t be standin’ there,” and she bent down to pick up the nearest “body”.

The hen fluttered awake and ran off squawking. The colour drained from Katty’s face as she touched the next corpse which also woke. The men began to titter as Katty gave the next one a savage kick, causing it a rude awakening. And on she went, wielding her big boots in a service of resurrection while her audience howled with laughter and ribbed her unmercifully.

Katty glowered at them all, picked up her bucket, wiped her nose with the tail of her apron and started back towards the house. The laughter tapered off and Mossy ventured, “Shure, I’d say this was only the young fellas that done it for divilment, Katty.”

“Well,” said Katty, quietly, “we’ll see about that.” She was standing by the dairy now, looking at the town boy’s bike and his sweet can, Then she headed for the kitchen door, calling over her shoulder, “’Tis milking time, get in the cows.”

The two culprits had cleared out fast when the first hen woke, slipped out on the yard side of the hayshed, down the back avenue into the meadow beyond where they laughed and rolled about in the grass, mimicking Katty in her distress, and hooting with laughter till their sides were sore. Afterwards they went on down the strand where they re-enacted whole charade, taking it in turns to be Katty and using piles of seaweed as the sleeping hens. Finally they headed back towards the farm, flushed and tired.

The milking was over and they could see the cows on the hill road going back to the fields. The town boy knew it was time to collect his can of milk an’ get home for tea and Kevin had decided to get back into the house through the orchard door before Katty got back from the dairy. It was her practice to supervise the milking, see the various churns and cans filled correctly and separate the cream before tea time.

The town boy eased his way through the wicket gate behind the calf house and peeped round the corner. His milk can was filled and ready on the trestle table by the dairy door. He could hear Katty inside washing the separator cups and laying them out to dry on the butter table. He walked quietly to his bike and wheeled it over to the table. He reached out quickly, gripped the wire handle of the can for a quick lift and an even quicker getaway. For some unknown reason, however, the handle came adrift at one side and six pints of milk hit him on the chest, soaking him clear to the soles of his feet. In the process he fell over and the bike landed on top of him.

He looked up to find Katty standing over him, reaching down to lift the bike and, as he stole a sidelong glance at her face, he could see the gap in her teeth. She was actually smiling!
“Mossy,” she commanded, “bring up a clean sack here, the poor little townie fella is afther drowndin’ himself with the milk.” Mossy obeyed and helped the lad up, wiping him vigorously with a rough, musty grain sack.

“Aw, begod,” he said, “ye’ll hafta learn how to lift a can of milk if ye’re to live in the country.”

He laughed as the boy began to squelch about in the milk filled shoes, trying to pull the wet clothes out from his body. Katty was laughing too and Simon and Mikey came on the scene and gave the boy a cruel, country ribbing.

Quite suddenly, Katty said, “that’ll do ye now, get on about yeer bisiness the lot of ye,” and, to the boy, “come in here, child, till I fix that can and fill it for ye.”

With that, she took a pliers from the pocket of her apron and deftly closed the loop at the end of the handle and clipped it in place.

“Get on yer bike now, and I’ll hand ye the can in case ye’d spill it again,” she said. The town boy did as he was bid.

“Thanks, Katty,” he said quietly, very close to tears now and, as he looked at her, he thought her hard features softened a little as she said, “Go on now boy and I hope yer mother won’t be too hard on ye.”

He cycled slowly out the gate and as he freewheeled towards home he kept getting this picture of Katty taking the pliers from her apron pocket. He was in sight of his own gate when it dawned on him.

“The bloody oul bitch, “he whispered to himself, “she did it on me. There was nothing wrong with that can at all. She doctored the handle on purpose” …and he still had his mother to face!

What followed when the town boy got home is best forgotten. Suffice it to say that words like ‘Amadan’ and ‘butterfingers’ were used and his brother gave him a proper roasting particularly since an examination of the can revealed no fault in the handle. The boy went to bed sore and sorry for himself.

In the farmhouse tea time came and as the table filled up Simon asked Mossy if he had remembered to leave the alarm clock in the haggert to wake the hens in the morning. Laughter exploded and Mikey capped Simon by saying that today should be known as the Day of the Headless Hens. More laughter ensued which Katty ignored and, as she began to cut more cake bread, she conjured up for them the misfortunes of the little town boy.
Mossy chimed in with “Begod ’twas funny alright when he stood up and the milk spurted up out of his shoes.” Kevin laughed as loudly as the rest, though he felt a twinge of uneasiness he could not quite explain.

Kevin went to bed early that night, partly because he was tired, but also to keep out of Katty’s way, just in case of repercussions.

He woke next morning to her usual call, “Come on, Kevin, breakfast!” He stepped out of bed, straight down on a sharp pebble. The pain was savage and he hopped about holding his foot, only to land on another pebble. He yelled in pain, hopping and jumping about and landing on a pebble every other time. Eventually he got out on to the landing, crying with pain and trying to hold both aching feet at once. Katty came up the stairs two at a time, shouting as she came.

“What in God’s name are ye doin’ Kevin?” She got to the landing and the tearful lad pointed to the bedroom floor, littered with pebbles.

“They fell out of yer pockets when you were undressing I suppose, come on now, stop yer bawlin’ and dress yerself,” and, as she went downstairs, her final words came faintly, “maybe somebody put ’em there for a joke.”

“Some friggin’ joke,” said Kevin, trying to put a foot under him. It hurt!

The whole breakfast table had heard the story by the time Kevin appeared and everybody laughed and poked fun at him about it. He didn’t rightly know which hurt most, his pride or his feet, and when he saw Katty absently fishing three pebbles out of her apron pocket with the comment “them little stones seem to be everywhere today” he almost choked as he realised the truth of what had happened.

It was a very chastened town boy who arrived at the dairy step that afternoon and he was joined by an equally quiet, almost sullen, Kevin and they wandered up to the hayshed discussing their respective tales of woe and wondering what else was to come. They both agreed that they had tangled with a force much greater than their own and with far, far more expertise and finesse.

“Jazes boy,” said Kevin,” we should never have done that with the poor oul’ hens.”

“I know,” said the town boy, “Katty loves every one of ’em like they were children.”

“And did ye see the state she got into when she thought they were dead?” Said Kevin.

“’Twas like hell at a wake.” The town boy nodded, and they fell silent, sitting in the hay. They never heard Katty coming into the shed till she spoke.

Come on you two,” she said, “in to the kitchen. I want to talk to ye.”

They followed her in, eyeing each other fearfully. She closed the door behind them and the two sat together on the big furrim behind the table, backs to the wall, looking small and nervous.

Katty picked up a huge knife and quickly cut two long slices off a fresh soda cake and spread them with salty butter and newly made gooseberry jam. Next she poured two mugs of tea and laced them with plenty of milk and three spoons of sugar each. She began to talk quietly and as she talked she moved the feast towards the two boys.

“I was wonderin’, said she slowly, “if ye’d agree with somethin’ I read there a while ago about practical jokes. It was this fella was sayin’ that practical jokes are great fun for everybody, except the one havin’ the joke played on him. What would ye say to that now?”

“I’d say ’twas the truth,” said the town boy.

“An I’d say the man was right too,” said Kevin without hesitation.

“Well,” said Katty, “I was thinkin’ the same meself. Now, let ye ate up and drink up and be out of my kitchen in five minutes.”

The boys needed no second invitation, but grabbed the delicious bread and sucked up the sweet tea gratefully and exchanged a meaningful glance over the top of the steaming mugs.

Katty turned her back and pretended to poke the fire.

A small farmer engaged to be married to a very plain looking, but wealthy, girl was asked if he couldn’t have got a prettier prospect. He replied –
“Well, I reckoned that a bit of money never spoiled a good lookin’ girl.”

©Geoff Cronin 2005


About Geoff Cronin – 1923 – 2017

There were few jobs that Geoff could not turn his hands to, and over the years he mastered an impressive number of professional undertakings. Master baker and confectioner, mobile cinema operator, salesman, band leader, senior executive and master wood turner, storyteller and writer.

Geoff Cronin published his first book in 2005 at age 82. The Colour of Life is a collection of stories of life in Waterford during his childhood and early adulthood in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This was followed by two further books that related tales of further adventures in Waterford and Dublin.

Thank you for dropping in today and you can read the previous chapters of The Colour of Life in this directory:

Please join me again next weekend for two more chapters from the book. thanks Sally

Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook available on Amazon and Goodreads

Great news.. the latest book featuring the unique fodant art of Robbie and Michael Cheadel is available on Amazon – Sir Chocolte and the Sugar Dough Bees Story and Cookbook.. Fun in the kitchen for all ages and great bedtime reading. congratulations #recommended

Robbie's inspiration


Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook is now available on Amazon and Goodreads at the following links:

As well as at a discount from TSL Publications at the following link:

The blurb:

A greedy snail damages the flower fields and the fondant bees are in danger of starving. Join Sir Chocolate on an adventure to find the fruit drop fairies who have magic healing powers and discover how to make some of his favourite foods on the way.

Follow Robbie Cheadle at:



Facebook: @SirChocolateBooks

Twitter: @bakeandwrite

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My review of Tales From The Garden by Sally Cronin

What a very special gift today. I have found a sunny spot in my new garden and have been planning my stories for the upcoming Tales from the Irish Garden when this post from Robbie Cheadle popped up. As a writer you are always pleased to hear that readers have enjoyed a book but it is also wonderful when they feel emotional about what you have written. I am delighted that Robbie and her son Michael enjoyed Tales from the Garden and I hope that even if you do not buy the book you will go over and enjoy the review and the wonderful way that Robbie has crafted it. Thank you Robbie.

Robbie's inspiration

Product Details

What Goodreads says:

Tales from the Garden reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees. You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories. The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.

Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.

My review:

I really enjoyed Tales From The Garden by Sally Cronin. A collection of short stories about life and love in the garden, each…

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Book Reading and Interview – Bette A. Stevens

Sally's Cafe and Bookstore

Welcome to this week’s Book Reading at the Cafe and my guest is award winning children’s author Bette A Stevens. I am sure that after reading the interview with Bette you will have plenty of our own questions to ask and please put them in the comments section of the post.

Inspired by nature and human nature, Bette A. Stevens is an author, retired teacher, wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys writing, reading, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and childhood literacy and for monarch butterflies, an endangered species

Bette Stevens’s children’s activity book, THE TANGRAM ZOO and WORD PUZZLES TOO!, was first published in 1997 by Windswept House Publishing, Mt. Desert, ME; a second edition was self-published by the author in 2012.

AMAZING MATILDA, Stevens’s second children’s book, self-published in 2012 won a 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award (Honorable Mention for Excellence in Children’s Literature – Ages 6 and older category) and also placed #9 on The 2013 Gittle List for Self-published Children’s Picture Books. Stevens has written articles for ECHOES, The Northern Maine Journal of Rural Culture based in Caribou, Maine.

In 2013, the author published her first book for the YA/Adult audience: PURE TRASH: The story, a short story of a boy growing up in rural New England and prequel to DOG BONE SOUP, debut novel released January 2015. There is currently an offer on Dog Bone Soup and here is one of the many excellent reviews for the book.

Dog Bone Soup is an engaging tale set in the 1950’s and 1960’s and though Stevens indicates that the book will speak to boomers, in particular, the family drama and the emotional world of the characters are timeless and relatable. The story follows the oldest brother in the family, Shawn Daniels, a boy whose young life is burdened by dire poverty and an abusive, alcoholic father. His proud mother does the best she can for her children, and Shawn becomes a man before his time, helping to support the family.

Though the story deals with a struggling child in a tough situation, the book has many moments of childhood humor and delight, especially between the brothers. Shawn not only survives his rough start but comes through as a strong individual with solid values and high personal integrity.

Stevens writing is captivating, raw and sweet, with well-drawn characters. I read the prequel “White Trash” prior to this book, however, I feel that Dog Bone Soup easily stands on its own. A compelling read about childhood resilience and growth into manhood.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

ONLY 99c / 99p from March 22nd through March 27th

Now it is time to hand over to Bette for her interview and book reading.

Welcome Bette and can you tell us about your chosen genre of books that you write and why?

Realistic fiction because, when told as a fictional account, both writer and readers have the opportunity to learn valuable lessons through the lives of a book’s characters— and to relate those lessons to their own lives in a personal way.

What genre do you read and who are your favourite authors?

My favorite genres are (1) Historical Fiction, through which I can travel back in time and rediscover the timeless themes that still make humans tick; and (2) Contemporary/Literary Fiction, because it allows me to travel the globe and see the world through the eyes of strangers, giving me the opportunity to walk in their shoes for a brief time.

Many favorite authors, but, I’ll list two of my favorites along with books I’ve read from each:

Harper Lee (To Kill a Mocking, Go Set a Watchman) Historical Fiction
Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, And the Mountains Echoed) Contemporary/Literary Fiction

Do you have a favourite quote? What does it means to you as an individual?

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad

As reader, a writer, and a concerned citizen of the world, I find that books continue to provide me both the luxury and learning that Twain attributes to such extensive travel without the cost.

What inspired you to write Amazing Matilda?

I was inspired by the plight of our glorious monarch butterflies. At the time (1999) monarchs were considered an indicator species, letting us know the health of our environment, which was rapidly in decline. I researched monarch butterflies and discovered that I had a story to tell, not only to my grandchildren, but to my fourth grade students in California as well. For me, the monarch remains a symbol of life and life’s growing and changing stages for all living creatures, including humans. I typed the story, read it to my students and sent copies to my grandchildren. By 2012, I was retired and my daughter encouraged me to illustrate Amazing Matilda self-publish it.

In Pure Trash you address bullying issues. This was based in the 1950s and 1960s—50 years later this is still a major issue. How do you feel we could address this better?

Literature and media coverage can certainly help raise awareness and encourage compassionate behaviours. However, the printed word and talk remain a poor substitute if the actions of adults are saying one thing and doing another. As parents, a teachers and neighbors, adults must take the lead in showing respect for and finding value in people of all ages, faiths, beliefs, social standings, race, customs…the list goes on.

As a teacher what are the key subjects that every child should be taught to help them succeed in the world today?

  • Academically
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Public Speaking

Teaching and following “The Golden Rule”

In fact, during my years in the classroom, one of the first things I would tell my students is that we have only one rule that must be followed in our classroom by everyone, including the teacher. Does anyone know what “The Golden Rule” says?

One brave young fourth grader raised his hand, stood and spoke:

“He who has the gold rules!”

Needless to say, a teacher’s work is never done. We talked about my school days and the sign that was posted in every classroom back in the day: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We were all in this together: day by day—and some days moment by moment—learning and relearning that respect for everyone and accepting our individual responsibilities summed up what “The Golden Rule” is really all about.

Now it is time for Bette’s Book Reading.

PURE TRASH by Bette A. Stevens
(Historical Fiction/Ages 10-adult)

SUMMARY: Experience the joy of a carefree Saturday and the blistering pain of feeling not quite good enough as you hop on a bike and ride into town with two delightful young boys who find adventure at every turn. Shawn and Willie Daniels live in the woods with no indoor water or plumbing. Dad spends most of his hard earned money on beer. Prejudice, class division, alcoholism, poverty, injustice, and bullying are cleverly woven into this 1950s adventure short. PURE TRASH is the short story prequel to the author’s novel DOG BONE SOUP.

Excerpt from PURE TRASH

Willie was having a race with himself, thumping and thudding in his seat trying to get high enough to fly over that bar. Me, I was just enjoying some time to sit and swing and think. Didn’t have time for that during recess. I was always trying to figure out some way to make myself invisible. I sure didn’t want to be the target in a dodge ball game.

Sometimes I’d set up a game of marbles and practice on my own over near the building. One day Timmy Doyle asked me if he could play. I taught Timmy the rules and showed him how to shoot. The next week, Timmy gave me 10 puries in different colors, two aggies and two cat eyes―huge―a blue one and a gold one. Before that, most of my marbles were the old clay ones Grampa used when he was a kid. Last year for my birthday, Grampa gave me a soft cloth bag with a drawstring. It was filled with his painted clay marbles. He taught me how to play the game and told me that I was real good at it.

I liked Timmy, but no one else did. Timmy was what they called “a little slow.” I reckon that was likely about as bad as being called Eddie Daniels’s kid.

Willie was over on the jungle gym hanging from the tiptop. His knees hung over the metal bar and Willie was swinging his body for all it was worth, arms dangling and chubby tummy jiggling. Every now and then he’d lift up his back, grab the bar with his hands and flip himself upright and hoot like Tarzan. Willie sure did look like the king of the jungle perched up on that bar.

Read the reviews and buy Pure Trash:

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My thanks to Bette for joining me today and she would be delighted to answer your questions if you could leave them in the comments section of the post.

Please feel free to share the interview on your own networks.. thanks Sally

A Green Room welcome to ~ John W. Howell!

John Howell has been very high Viz this last couple of weeks and well deserved.. a few days ago he was guest of Siân Glírdan who is the fusion persona of the elven roleplay character, Janowyn, High Bard of the River Kingdom and her ‘real world’ creator, author, Jan Hawke. John shares his top picks of music and film to take to a desert island with him.. Don’t forget us John.. #recommended

Siân Glírdan

Today, one of my favourite authors and literary friend, John W. Howell, is visiting my island oasis of creativity here in the Seomra Glas (the Green Room)! 

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets

Siân: Welcome once again, John!  I see you’ve got a hankering for the simple beach experience and nothing too fancy – good choice!

John: I’m thinking it would be nice…

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