Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #New Bloggers on the Scene – A Place at the Table for All (Aging Parents) by Linda Thompson

This series of Posts from Your Archives is exclusively for blogs that are under a year old. It is an opportunity to meet new readers and to show off your writing skills.. All the details are in this post along with some tips on how to make your blog more reader friendly.

Delighted to showcase another new blogger on the scene… meet Linda Thompson who blogs about Life lessons. Through anecdotes, memories or stories (some funny, others serious), several posts are about lessons learned because of something that happened in her life. Linda has selected four of her posts to share with you in this series.

Linda’s first post is a wonderful, nostalgic look back through the years to special family dinners and how it is so important that our elderly parents are given the opportunity to still feel useful in our lives.

A Place at the Table for All

I stopped to watch from across the room as my 92-year-old mother carefully wiped down the silverware. She rubbed a knife gently with the soft cloth clutched in her arthritic fingers, then held it up to the light for inspection. Her shoulders are stooped, her fingers gnarled, and cataracts have formed like invisible spider webs in both eyes, but her expression was one of such intense contentment it almost hurt to see.

I had picked her up from her seniors’ residence for a family lunch at my home. I went to get her early because I know the pleasure she gets in the preparations of a family meal. Her life is slowly winding down, and with it her sense of purpose is dwindling badly. Though simple, the tasks I asked her to help with made her feel needed and useful.

For me, it brought back a memory of a Christmas at my grandparents’ home when I was a child. Dinner was over and my mother and her two sisters were washing and drying dishes. They, along with my grandmother, had worked hard preparing the meal: peeling, cutting and cooking carrots and potatoes, checking the turkey and setting the table. Close to 30 people including children, husbands and cousins – had sat down to the holiday dinner. Now, while everyone else relaxed in other parts of the house, the three sisters continued to work.

I had come back into the kitchen and could see them standing at the sink with their backs to me. High heels had been discarded and they stood in stocking feet. They had tied aprons around their waists to protect their holiday outfits from gravy splatter, carrot stains and other remnants of the meal. The number of special-occasion plates, glasses and silverware they handled was staggering. Yet they talked and giggled like school girls and the sound of their laughter was like tinkling glass – pure, clear and joyous.

Now, all these year later, I observed my mother without her knowledge again. She moved slowly, as if extending the task for as long as possible, carefully laying the silverware at each place setting. The family has shrunk – her husband and parents are gone, and she is the lone surviving sister. As she held the knife up to the light, I think she saw more than a spotless stainless steel blade. I think she saw their faces and the memories of other meals when they had a place at the table.

©Linda Thompson 2019

About Linda

Writer, fundraiser, mother, wife, owner of one stubborn Canadian mare and one orange tabby and bona fide introvert who finds it easier to express herself in ink than out loud. For extroverts and Type A personalities, expressing themselves is a natural part of their charm and we mostly love them for it. It’s hard to know what goes on in the head of an introvert or how he/she perceives the world. Follow me to see the world through the eyes of this introvert and share your thoughts with me. Extroverts welcome too!

Connect to Linda


My thanks to Linda for allowing me to share her posts and I hope that you will head over to her blog to follow and enjoy her archives.. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Afternoon Video – D.G. Kaye finds another Gem – More Parrots….

Debby Gies has been scanning the airwaves for videos to share… here are some more that she has come across.. ..D.G. Kaye Writer Blog is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.  I have mornings like this too – uploaded by Just smile

D. G. Kaye – Buy:
Blog: Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

Catch up with Debby’s Travel Column here every month:

Thanks to Debby for finding another gem.. I hope you have enjoyed… thanks Sally


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – Fragments of a Dream: Is it too late for a second chance at love? by Ruth Larrea

Delighted to welcome Ruth Larrea to the Cafe and bookstore with her book Fragments of a Dream: Is it too late for a second chance at love?

About the book

Is it too late for a second chance at love? Rosie doesn’t think so. When her marriage ends close to retirement, she plans to find Angelos, the charismatic young Athenian she fell for as a naive 19-year old. But will he remember her? Will he even want to see her after what happened between them?

There’s only one way to find out — go back to the Greek island of Hydra, in the hope that he still visits.

When at last he shows up, his reaction is not what she expected. He’s changed a lot, but so has she. As Rosie begins to understand him and his culture, she has to reassess her version of the past, confront her mistakes, and question her own values and choices.

A bittersweet story about relationships and cultural confusions that will make you laugh, cry and reflect on life’s complexities. Start reading today!

One of the reviews for the book

Miriam 5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this novel  25 February 2019

This is a beautifully written novel which brims with captivating images of the island of Hydra’s natural scenery. These images provoke Rosie to remember her youth, mingling past with present, and to dream of her future. The author portrays Rosie’s inner emotional landscape so wonderfully that I felt I personally knew this unassumng adventurer. I grew to care about her dreams too and felt I accompanied her as she unfolded into a kind, enlightened and thoughtful woman. A joy to read, this is seemingly a simple love story and yet, it is not only a story of romantic love, but also one of love of family, friends and culture. It is a novel full of honesty, realism and gentle humour and of characters with true depth. I think I shall read it again and again and know that I will recommend it to all my friends.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon US:

About Ruth Larrea

As a child, I lived in my imagination. It was a safe place, beautiful, full of possibilities. I didn’t write stories. I dreamed them.

At school we wrote. The stories came alive in my head and spilled onto the page. A Special Place. Flights of stone steps cut into the cliff, waves crashing on the beach, pebbles under my feet, the air fresh with salt and seaweed.

I loved adventure, excitement. I read The Famous Five, The Lone Pine Club. At school we read the classics. Each term a new one. My world was expanding. I loved the pattern of words, the structure of sentences, nuances of meaning. I applied for a degree in English Language and Literature, entered a world where almost everyone dreamed of being a writer. I dabbled secretly, too shy to show my work.

I taught teenagers, hated it, went back to write an MA thesis in the ivory tower of university. They wanted me to do a PhD, but I wanted to see the ‘real’ world. I saw it, sank ever deeper into problems. Before I knew it I had a son to bring up, a husband with mental health issues. Survival became a daily challenge.

A lucky break came my way. I was asked to write and illustrate leaflets and brochures for local environmental organisations. Then I taught English to wonderful adults from all over the world, and loved it. At home I wrote novels, inspired by my crazy experiences. I retired, took an MA in Creative Writing, found that agents want writers with a career ahead of them, who fit neatly into boxes: literary, or commercial, not a blend of both.

So I did what I’ve always done, for better or worse: my own thing.

Connect to Ruth

Amazon Author Page:
Facebook Page:

Thank you for dropping in today and please give Ruth a warm welcome to the Cafe and Bookstore by sharing the news of her book.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer – Robbie Cheadle – The York Chocolate Series – Part Three – Chocolate in wartime Second Anglo Boer War 1899 – 1902-

Delighted that over the next three weeks, author Robbie Cheadle will be sharing the rest of  The York Chocolate story with us, following her recent trip to the UK.. And I will be featuring a different Sir Chocolate Story and Cookbook each week. You can find part two HERE

The York Chocolate Series – Part Three – Chocolate in wartime Second Anglo Boer War 1899 – 1902

In 1899, war broke out for the second time between the British Empire and the two Boer Republics in South Africa. In advance of Christmas 1899, Queen Victoria asked Cadbury, which held a Royal Warrant as suppliers of cocoa and chocolate products, to produce tins of chocolate to send to the British men fighting in South Africa as a gift. This would be the first time during a British war that chocolate, a great comfort food and an excellent source of energy, would be sent to soldiers in large quantities.

This request posed an ethical conundrum for George and Richard Cadbury who were Quakers and pacifists and opposed the war. They did not want to appear to be profiting from a conflict situation, but they did not want to say no to the Queen.

The Cadbury’s formed a temporary alliance with their rivals, Fry’s and Rountree’s, who were also Quakers, whereby they agreed to produce the chocolate in special unbranded tins and donate them free of charge to the war effort. Queen Victoria was not happy with the lack of branding as she wanted the soldiers to know that she was sending them the finest quality British chocolate. It was then agreed that the chocolate itself would be branded but the tins would not.

The above photograph is from an article in the Express on-line news website and features one of these chocolate bars that was found intact. The article is from June 2018 and you can read the full article here:

The chocolate tin containing Queen Victoria’s chocolate gift was ornate. This is a photograph of it from

The Second Anglo Boer War degenerated into guerrilla warfare when the Burghers [citizens of the two Boer Republics] refused to accept defeat after the British Empire annexed the two Boer states.

The Burghers implemented a plan to use hit and run guerrilla tactics to cause as much damage as possible to the British administration with great success and the war dragged on, causing the British administration, under Lord Kitchener, to respond with their controversial scorched earth policy. This policy was a military strategy aimed at destroying anything which might be useful to the Boer commandos in the bushveld and devastating the rural population which supported them. The Boer farms were burned to the ground, the livestock killed and the crops burned and the wives and children living on the farms were interned in concentration camps.

A ghost and his gold

I am finalising a novella about the Second Anglo Boer War, told from the perspective on one Afrikaaner family called A ghost and his gold.

This is a short extract from my current WIP:

“Mrs van Tonder, her snow white hair and deeply lined face defying her indefatigable spirit and faith in God, helped Marta to obtain a couple of extra British military blankets from the supplies tent to supplement the blankets they had brought with them. The blankets were old and thin and the two women and four children, as well as Ardrina and Dorthea, would have to share them but her success in wrangling them from the camp staff, with the help of Mrs van Tonder, felt like a small victory to Marta.

Mrs van Tonder, or Ouma* Lettie, was seventy five years old and had been living in a women’s laager@ before it was attacked by the Khakis. “I was with my husband, who was one of twenty men, too old to undertake military duty, who had been appointed to protect the women and children.

“We were travelling with thirty wagons and carts and two hundred cattle and had been living on the veld for seven months before the attack that landed me here. Various Boer commandos had been providing us with weapons, tents, food and clothing.

“About a month ago, a convoy of Khakis# came across our laager and attacked it. They burned all the wagons, food and tents and we were forced to watch.”

A distant look came into the older woman’s eyes as she remembered that day. The soldiers had set fire to the wagons first. The yellow and orange flames had fanned out delicately, tasting the dry tinder of the frames. Bright sparks flew upwards, fanned by puffs of the bitter wind, and settled on the canvas wagon covers which instantly burst into flames. As the wagons and tents burned, black smoke billowed upwards, rising upwards to a tremendous height where it was whipped to shreds by the wind.

“What happened next?” asked Marta, forcing Mrs van Tonder to return her wandering mind to the present time. “When they destruction was complete, they marched our elderly guards and the few boys of twelve years and older away as prisoners of war. The women and the rest of the children were brought here.”

“Were you scared?” Marta asked.

“No,” Mrs van Tonder’s lips formed a thin, straight line and she pushed back her shoulders as if in defiance. “The Lord has always preserved me until now and He will continue to do so.””

* – Grandmother in Afrikaans
@ – ox wagons in a circle formation
# – name used by the Boer’s for the British soldiers in the Second Anglo Boer War

©Robbie Cheadle 2019

If you are visiting York then you cannot miss a visit to museum:

Robbie and her son Michael put chocolate to excellent use in their Sir Chocolate Series including in Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five Story and Cookbook.

About the book

Number 6 in the Sir Chocolate series: Five zoo animals go missing and Sir Chocolate needs to find them. Includes five lovely new recipes.

One of the reviews for the book

Miriam Hurdle 5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book to read with engaging parent-children activity May 27, 2019

Robbie Cheadle and her son Michael, in the delightful book Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five Story and Cookbook, combine children’s story, poetry and recipes together. The story is about a zoo in Chocolate Land with Fondant Five, namely the lion, king of the jungle, the gentle elephant, the elegant leopard, the bulky rhino, and the buffalo. Sir Chocolate cares for them. One day, these five fondant animals disappeared. Sir Chocolate found Fondant Cat who could help to find Fondant Five.

This fun story book includes recipes for Lady Sweet Rusks, Buffalo Coconut Cake, Rhino Soetkoekies, Cheetah Cheese Scones, and Sir Chocolate Peppermint Caramel Pudding.

The book has beautiful photograph of the fondant animals and desserts. Students in the classrooms will enjoy the story, poems and photos in this book. I will read this to my granddaughter. I also love the idea of parents doing the cooking with their children using these recipes.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

A selection of other Sir Chocolate stories co-written with Michael Cheadle and other books by Robbie Cheadle

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Robbie on Goodreads:

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with five published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

I have been drawn to the horror and supernatural genres of books all my life. At the age of ten years old I embarked on reading Stephen King’s books including The Shining and Salem’s Lot. These books scared me so much I had to put them aside by 6P.M. in the evening in order to get a good night’s sleep but they also fascinated me. I subsequently worked my way through all of Stephen King’s earlier books as well as those of Dean R. Koontz.

I have read a large number of classics, in particular, I enjoy Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Charles Dickens and the works of the Bronte sisters.

I am hugely interested in the history of the United Kingdom as well as the mythology and tales of the paranormal that are abundant on this intriguing European island.

Connect to Robbie Cheadle

Website/Blog Roberta Writes:

My thanks to Robbie for sharing this series with us and please join us again next Monday for Part Four of York’s Chocolate Story..


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews – Janice Spina, Marian Beaman and Marcia Meara

Welcome to the first of the week’s updates for authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews.

Delighted to share one of the recent reviews for the new release by Janice Spina.  Abby & Holly series book 3 – Secrets of the Trunk

About the book

Join Abby and Holly in Book 3 as the cousins discover a new presence in their old Victorian while they are cleaning out the library of old books. They are not sure if this specter is benign or otherwise. This being leads them to the old trunk they discovered in Book 2 which holds many secrets and puzzles that they feel compelled to solve.

They enlist the help of their ghost friend, Felicity, who inhabits their home. She is a benevolent entity that once lived in their house from a century ago. She watches over the girls and vows never to leave them unless they request her to do so.

There will be surprises and ghostly visits that will keep readers enthralled as Abby and Holly work together to uncover the secrets of the trunk.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Michelle Clements James 5.0 out of 5 stars The story book instills life lessons September 6, 2019

This is a skillfully written story that logically follows Book 2 in the series. Abby and Holly are determined to solve the mystery of the old trunk and elicit the help of their ghost friends, Felicity and Minerva. When things get a bit out of hand and turn dangerous, the girls turn to their moms and to Abby’s dad for help.

Abby and Holly are typical young middle-grade girls who are adventurous, sweet, kindhearted, and thoughtful. Their ghost friends are helpful and caring. All the characters are well-drawn and believable, that is unless you don’t believe in ghosts.

As with all the author’s children’s books, this book instills life lessons, especially that everyone should treat all others with respect. The life lessons introduced in Secrets of the Trunk are how to handle the unexpected and how to overcome disappointments.

I loved this book, as I have all the other middle-grade books by Janice Spina. I recommend it as a book for your middle-grade child to read by themselves or as a book you’ll read together.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

A very small selection of children’s books by Janice Spina

Also as J.E. Spina

Discover all of Janice Spina’s books, read the reviews and buy

and on Amazon UK:

Find more reviews and follow Janice on Goodreads:

Connect to Janice via her blog:

Now another excellent review for Marian Beaman.. a memoir – Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl released earlier in September.

About the book

What if the Mennonite life young Marian Longenecker chafed against offered the chance for a new beginning? What if her two Lancaster County homes with three generations of family were the perfect launch pad for a brighter future? Readers who long for a simpler life can smell the aroma of saffron-infused potpie in Grandma’s kitchen, hear the strains of four-part a capella music at church, and see the miracle of a divine healing.

Follow the author in pigtails as a child and later with a prayer cap, bucking a heavy-handed father and challenging church rules. Feel the terror of being locked behind a cellar door. Observe the horror of feeling defenseless before a conclave of bishops, an event propelling her into a different world.

Fans of coming-of-age stories will delight in one woman’s surprising path toward self-discovery, a self that lets her revel in shiny red shoes.

One of the recent reviews for the memoir

Mennonite Daughter is a beautifully written story about the growing up life and aspirations of one feisty and longing-to-be fancy girl who although practicing her faith obediently, longs to be free from some of the conforms of the Mennonite lifestyle.

Beaman, a girl, not unlike any other girlie girl, striving for her chance at a life free from head coverings and traditional clothing, as her desires since childhood grow to break free from tradition. We learn a lot about the Mennonite way of life, Beaman’s life, the close knit family and community life, and the antiquated punishments inflicted on her by her father, and about the mother who never interjected on those punishments, all because she spoke out for her convictions. The whippings and being locked in a dark, scary basement were the weapons of choice as punishments and discipline for her non-compliance in a world of which we’d now consider as child abuse. One heart trembling sentence that stood out to me, “I always watched for signs that Daddy was about to explode, so I wonder why I didn’t stop before I ignite the fire.” We’ll learn once again, as many writers like myself have lived and wrote about, if we search for the ‘why’ in someone’s behavior, we’ll almost always find the root cause.

Read the early reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Marian on Goodreads:

Connect to Marian via her blog:

And the final author today is Marcia Meara with a recent review for That Darkest Place (Riverbend Book 3)

About the book

In Book 3 of her popular Riverbend series, Marcia Meara, author of Wake-Robin Ridge, A Boy Named Rabbit,and Harbinger, takes another look at the lives of the Painter brothers—Jackson, Forrest, and Hunter. While Hunter is home again and on the mend, the same isn’t true for his oldest brother. Jackson’s battle has just begun.

“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in and swallow you whole. You don’t leave your brother stranded in that darkest place.”
~Hunter Painter~

The new year is a chance for new beginnings—usually hopeful, positive ones. But when Jackson Painter plows his car into a tree shortly after midnight on January 1, his new beginnings are tragic. His brothers, Forrest and Hunter, take up a grim bedside vigil at the hospital, waiting for Jackson to regain consciousness and anxious over how he’ll take the news that he’s lost a leg and his fiancée is dead. After all, the accident was all his fault.

As the shocking truth emerges, one thing becomes obvious—Jackson will need unconditional love and support from both of his brothers if he is to survive.

Just as he begins the long road to recovery, danger, in the form of a sinister, unsigned note, plunges him back into bleak despair. Scrawled in blood red letters, the accusation—and the threat—is clear. “MURDERER!”

Will the long, harrowing ordeal that lies ahead draw the Painter brothers closer together, or drive them apart forever?

Suspenseful and often heartbreaking, this small-town tale is a testimonial to the redemptive power of love and paints a story filled with humor, romance, and fierce family loyalty.

One of the recent reviews of the book

The third book of the Riverbend series focuses primarily on Painter brothers, Jackson and Forrest, though youngest brother Hunter, is still a strong presence in his unique and quiet way. I fell in love with his character in book two.

At the end of Finding Hunter, Jackson was behaving horribly—lashing out at those around him, physically and verbally abusive. He ended up in a car accident believed to be the result of drunk driving. In That Darkest Place, the truth of what really took place and why is quickly revealed. Once brought to light, Jackson’s long road to recovery begins.

Once again, Meara tackles some weighty issues, but the most powerful theme is the unshakable bond of family, specifically brothers. Forrest and Hunter are not about to let Jackson muddle through on his own. Presenting a united front, they eventually have Jackson back to functioning almost normally again. Along the way there are physical and emotional hurdles to overcome, but there are also heartwarming and humorous moments to offset the weightier scenes.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

A selection of books by Marcia Meara

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK :

Read more reviews and follow Marcia Meara on Goodreads:

Connect to Marcia via her website:

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will be leaving with some books under your arm.. thanks Sally.

Author Spotlight: D.G. Kaye

Our favourite memoir author and travel expert Debby Gies, D.G. Kaye is the guest today of James J. Cudney, sharing her books, writing experience, inspirations and favourite authors and genres to read.. Head over, as much as you think you know someone, there is always something new to discover.. thanks James and Debby for a great interview.

This Is My Truth Now

D.G. Kaye and I met via our blogs about a year ago. She created and runs a Facebook Literary Divas group that I stumbled upon, where I met dozens of wonderful authors who love to share and promote each other’s work. From there, we began chatting on various social media forums… and when I sampled summaries of each of her books, I knew I had to read one. I chose P.S. I Forgive You as the first book to read from her collection. I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir (despite how emotionally painful it can be at times) and am sharing my 5-star review here. I’m excited to present this fantastic author to you today… including a special excerpt of her latest book.

Who is D.G. Kaye?

Debby Gies is a Canadian
nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was
born, raised, and resides in…

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Book launch for “A Ghost in the Kitchen” by Teagan R. Geneviene…

Don’ miss another stop on the trolley tour of haunted Savannah for the book launch of A Ghost in the Kitchen by Teagan Geneviene.. stopping today at the haunted enclosure of The Story Reading Ape..

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Welcome to the launch party for A Ghost in the Kitchen! It’s a wild ride on a magical trolley through haunted Savannah, Georgia.

All the Pip stories by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All the Pip books by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene. Purchase links:The Three Things Serial Story, Murder at the Bijou, and A Ghost in the Kitchen

Thanks for hosting me for my novel launch and book fair.

Hi everyone. I’m Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, and I’ve brought a bunch of friends for this shindig on a magical 1920s trolley. First let me tell you a little about my new novel.

When my character, Paisley Idelle Peabody (better known as Pip) came along, I started writing a type of fiction that I never expected. Pip is a flapper. Her stories took me to Savannah, Georgia of the 1920s.

It’s only natural that some ghosts got in on the act. After all, many people say that Savannah is the…

View original post 1,417 more words

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Jazz, Winter Soups, Chocolate, New books, reviews and funnies

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts the you might have missed during the week on Smorgasbord blog Magazine.

You might have noticed that the round up has a new header. Apart from looking to give the post a bit of a freshen up, I also wanted to emphasise the theme that I have developed over the last seven years, of a magazine style blog with a wide range of subjects. You will see from this round up that there are a number of regular contributors and guest writers.

Currently on a fortnightly or monthly basis I am lucky enough to have William Price King (music column), Carol Taylor (Food and Cookery Column), D.G. Kaye (Travel Column), Annette Rochelle Aben (Numerology) and Silvia Todesco (Italian Cookery) and I write the (Health Column). Jessica Norrie wrote a wonderful (Literary Column) last year which I am currently repeating.

Do you have an area of expertise that you would like to share and promote your blog or books at the same time?

If  you have an area of expertise that you would like to share here on Smorgasbord and can write a column of between 1000 to 1500 word every two weeks or once a month, then please get in touch. It could be care of elderly parents, Cooking by nationality – French, Indian, Chinese etc, Writing or Editing guidance, History of where you live etc.. contact me on so we can chat about it..

If you do not have the time to commit to a monthly column, perhaps like baking, chocolate expert and author Robbie Cheadle, you might like to do a short series of guest posts.. Check Robbie’s latest post on The York Chocolate Story later on in the round up and get in touch if you would be interested in doing something similar

From sun tan to wellies

We have had a wonderful week weather wise and we were lulled into a false sense of security. I checked the ten day forecast which predicted rain for until after October 5th and beyond so exchanging my bikini (thank goodness there are no drones in the area) I legged it to the garden centre and bought all my wintering flowering plants, some new potting compost and dashed back to spend the afternoon changing out all the pots.

This may be the last recorded sunshine of the year!  So this week I am just going to share this special moment, and the new mini cyclamens and winter flowering pansies.

Now on to the posts from the week, and as always a huge thank you to the contributors, this week William Price King, Carol Taylor and Robbie Cheadle with some special mentions.  And also for your support every week and generosity.

And a special thank you to D.G. Kaye who devoted her regular Writers Tips post to all the three Cafe and Bookstore book marketing posts so far…What an amazing thing to do. Debby has been part of the support team for the blog for five years and every night, even when she is on her winter break in Mexico she comments shares all my posts from the day across her social media. Thanks Debby and sorry they are not real…

You can find Debby’s Writing Tips:

This week William Price King celebrates the life and music of Mary Lou Williams – American Jazz Pianist, Arranger and Composer

Carol Taylor shares the joys of soup which can be eaten whatever the weather as a starter or as a snack even as a main meal if it is a substantial one served with lots of fresh crusty bread or with the addition of rice or noodles as it is served here

Carol Taylor is another friend that I owe a bouquet of flowers to. Not just for the wonderful posts that she brings us throughout the year but also the support she offers every week by sharing my posts on her eclectic and fascinating blog. Healthy eating, conservation, Thai foods and cookery and down to earth commonsense.  Next month it will be the second anniversary of the food column and I am very grateful for her generous contribution. Thank you Carol.

Here is the link to Carol’s own roundup this week and please follow if you are not already doing so:

Part two of The York Chocolate Story from Robbie Cheadle.. not sure how much more temptation I can take lol.. find out more about The Terrys and the Cravens.

My guest this week is regular guest to the blog, author Darlene Foster who has recently released another book in her successful Amanda Travel Series. Later in the post she shares an excerpt from Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action

Delighted to share my review of the third book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries Flower Power Trip.. by James J. Cudney

Twitter – New look and and step by step guide to Book Marketing useful functions.

As an author with books to market, getting as storefront on Twitter is important. It is a networking site and whilst you may not want to use for social media, it is great for connecting with other authors, reviewers, bloggers, all of whom are likely to be readers too. Here is a step by step guide to getting your books front and centre.

Chapter Eleven – Imogen spends the week before Christmas working in a funeral home, with a very dishy funeral director....

Chapter Twelve sees Imogen join an advertising sales team for a local newspaper and responsibility for one of the more cash only columns!

For this week’s Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 145 Colleen Chesebro has provided us with a photo prompt.. in a new twist the previous month’s poet of the week for the photo prompt gets to choose the image..This month that honour falls to Jane Dougherty. I have selected a #Tanka for this week’s challenge…Adrift

This week the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills prompts us to write in 99 words, no more, no less… a story about ‘an interlude’ – mine is A Musical Interlude

This is the final post from the archives of author and poet, Patricia Furstenberg who as you can tell from some of her books is a dog lover. Children and pets can be magical and bonds are formed that ensure a child never feels unsafe or alone throughout their early years. In this post Patricia explores this in more details. Pets — Understanding Your Child’s Affinity Towards Animals (2018) by Patricia Furstenberg

This is the final post from the archives of author, fitness advocate and photographer Terri Webster Schrandt. In her post Terri offers four reasons to attend the next one you are invited to. Four Reasons to Attend a Blogging Conference (2017) by Terri Webster Schrandt

Four Reason to Attend a Blogging Conference

This is the final post from the archives of Jim Borden who blogs on ‘Borden’s Blather’ across a variety of topics. I know that my computer can be funny weird… frequently but have not so far seen it be funny ha ha!  So I decided to end Jim’s short series for this season with this post. Can Computers be Funny? (2018) by Jim Borden

This is the third post from educator and author Pete Springer who began blogging in April this year. I am sure you will agree that he has made a fantastic start to his new project.  Pete shares some incidents that could have been a lot worse if laughter had not been the outcome.. and there there is the mystery of the knocking in the pipes! The Importance of a Good Sense of Humor by Pete Springer

Delighted to welcome Melanie Stewart to the series.. In Melanie’s first post she shares some of the wisdom she picked up from author Judith Viorst who is almost 90 years old and the joy that her mother who is in her 80s, has found in following Tiger Woods…. Finding Joy in your 80s and 90s (2018)

This is the first post from Peter Mohan who blogs at Cheers, Govanhill as his alter ego .. Boy David…I thought in this first post I would let Peter introduce Govanhill to you to set the scene for the other posts Thou shalt buy thy round

Photo of the mural at the Clutha bar, with Glasgow people including Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Billy Connolly, Alex Harvey, Gerry Rafferty and Frankie Miller

New Book on the Shelves

Author updates – Reviews

I repeat this series in particular every year, in the hopes that those who are new to the blog will find it interesting and useful. I worked with couples who were planning on getting pregnant and it was important that both understood how each other’s reproductive systems worked. Also if you know your body well, if something is even slightly different from the norm, it encourages you to have it checked out. The Female Reproductive System.

After 45 years of working in the food industry and then in the last twenty as a nutritional therapist, I explore where in the life cycle we can intervene to prevent the current obesity crisis.

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for your support.. it is much appreciated.. Thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Sunday Author Interview – Darlene Foster and an excerpt from Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action

Welcome to the Sunday Interview series, exclusive to the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore.. details of how you can participate and join the other authors in the cafe can be found at the end of the interview.

My guest this week is regular guest to the blog, author Darlene Foster who has recently released another book in her successful Amanda Travel Series. Later in the post she shares an excerpt from Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action

Welcome back Darlene and congratulations on the latest book.. and to start perhaps you could tell us where you drew the inspiration for the character of Amanda?

I draw inspiration for my characters from the young people in my life and somewhat from the child inside me. Amanda simply evolved as I wrote and in some ways is the twelve-year-old I would have liked to be. I created her almost twenty years ago when I needed a character that could demonstrate the excitement I felt when travelling to the United Arab Emirates. I now have a nine-year-old great-granddaughter, who is so much like my character, Amanda, it’s scary. She even talks like her. She recently got on an airplane by herself and flew from Alberta to the west coast of Canada to visit her aunt. Talk about brave and gutsy, just like Amanda Ross. The character Leah, Amanda’s BFF, features in many of the books, including Amanda in Holland, is a combination of many of my friends. I enjoy spending time with tweens and am constantly inspired by them.

How did you conduct your research for Amanda in Holland?

I have always wanted to visit Holland, ever since I read Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates, by Mable Mapes Dodge when I was ten. So when I travelled to this delightful country three years ago, I decided Amanda should go there as well. I took tons of pictures and made copious notes while there. Two of my aunts married Dutch fellows who had been children in Holland during WWII before immigrating to Canada in the 1950s.I recalled some of their stories and was able to ask my cousins questions. One cousin told me about banket, the delicious Dutch puff pastry filled with almond paste I mention in the book. Of course, I use the internet for detailed research as well. I happily donate to Wikipedia every year as it is a valuable resource.

Has writing your books given you personally a different perspective or changed the way you live your life?

That is an interesting question, but I do believe it has. I have become much more observant than I used to be. I pay more attention to details, take more notes and talk to people, especially when travelling. They say writers never take a holiday and it is true, I am always thinking about my books, articles and blog posts. Being more aware makes for a much more rewarding trip. I also make friends by chatting with people, young, old and in between, in the name of research. You can never have too many friends! I believe writing books has added another dimension to my life and has kept it from getting boring.

Do you belong to a writing group and if so what benefits do you feel it offers an author?

I have belonged to several writing groups over the past twenty years and they have been the best thing for me. Currently, I belong to four, three here in Spain and one in Canada that I connect with via Skype. Without writer’s groups, I would not have published eight books so far. I belong to different groups for different reasons but they all provide assistance, suggestions, another set of eyes and ears and most of all, encouragement. Other writers will pick up things you may miss. A good writer’s group is gold to a writer, whether starting out or seasoned. You may recall the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Similarly, “It takes a village to grow a book.”

Please tell us about your next project and when we can expect to see the book.

Like most writers, I have a few projects on the go. Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action, released September 3 and I am so excited about it. I am off to Canada to do a book tour in October. I have almost finished Amanda in Malta – The Sleeping Lady, book eight. Those who fell in love with Caleb in Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind, will be pleased to see he is back in this book. Wait until you read about his unique phobia! Amanda may or may not be off to France next. What could possibly go wrong there?

Thank you so much, Sally, for this opportunity to be your guest.

Absolute pleasure having you over Darlene and for introducing us to the background to the Amanda series and the latest book. Sounds like your fans will have plenty to look forward to.

About Amanda in Holland

Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah; as well as travelling the canals of Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House, checking out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and taking pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. She is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who never returned from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy.

While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald. Follow Amanda around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, intrepid traveller Amanda encounters danger and intrigue as she tries to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.

An excerpt from the book

After putting their things in the room, the girls took Joey out for a walk in the huge garden surrounding the house. He went crazy running around the bushes and wooden carvings, dodging the vibrant flowers and rolling on the lush grass.

“I guess he’s happy to be out of the car. This is a perfect place for a dog, so much room.”

Amanda sighed. “You know, it’s not fair. I always wanted a dog, but my parents said we don’t have time for one. I’d have looked after it. They won’t believe me when I tell them. I guess some of my mom’s friends told her they got a dog for their kids and then the parents ended up doing the work.”

“You would be a good dog person.” Leah smiled as she sat down on a bench carved from a massive log.

Amanda joined her. “Hey, how is Rupert, your Maine Coon cat?”

“He’s a crazy wazzock but I love him to bits.”

Amanda chuckled. “Hey, do you still have a boyfriend?”

“No.” Leah shook her head. “Two blokes fancy me, but I’m not sure which one I like. One is funny and smart and has a good imagination. He draws fab pictures and does tae kwon do.”

Amanda’s eyes lit up. “He sounds perfect.”

“Yes, but the other guy is really nice. He’s good at sports and easy to talk to. He’s kind and loves animals. In fact, he has a dog he’s devoted to. But he’s too much into football and doesn’t always do his homework.”

“I like the sound of the first one.”

Leah sighed. “Yes, but the second one is better looking.”

“Looks aren’t everything, you know.”

Leah kicked at a stone. “Maybe, but I want cute children.”

Amanda looked around. “Joey, come back here.” She lost sight of the dog. “What are you doing? Do I hear you digging?”

Joey bounded out from behind a bush with something in his mouth.

“Where did you get that?” Amanda pulled a dirt-encrusted shoe from his jaws. “Oh no! I wonder who this belongs to.”

They took the shoe inside. Ingrid’s face went white when she saw it.

She whispered, “Where did you find this?”

“Joey dug it up behind a bush in the garden. We can show you where.”

Ingrid gulped. “It might have belonged to a gardener we employed who has gone missing.”

She took the dirty old shoe with her fingertips and dropped it into a garbage can beside her.

“He was a bit strange, that one. Imagine burying your old shoe in the garden.” She rubbed Joey’s head. “What else will you find in my garden, you little binky?”

“What’s a binky?” asked Amanda.

“A bink is a big, strong man. He is still little so I call him binky.” Ingrid pulled something out of her pocket. “This biscuit will taste better than an old shoe.”

Joey snapped up the small cookie and licked his lips.

“Would you girls like some Stroopwafels and a cup of hot chocolate?”

“Oh yes, that would be great, thanks.” Amanda’s stomach rumbled.

Ingrid motioned to the girls to sit at a small, round table in the breakfast room. Amanda ran her fingertips over the tulips embroidered on the linen tablecloth. Ingrid soon appeared with two cups of hot chocolate, a round cookie on top of each one. “We place the Stroopwafel on top of the hot drink to soften the syrup inside. Stroopwafel literally means ‘syrup waffle.’ Enjoy.”

Amanda picked up the thin, two-layered, waffle-like cookie and took a bite. “Yum, these are good. I love the caramel syrup inside. Thanks.” She glanced at Ingrid. “By the way, what was the gardener’s name?”

Ingrid sighed and looked down. “He said his name was Tom, but I am not sure it was his real name.” She looked around. “You must excuse me, as new guests are about to arrive.”

After Ingrid left the breakfast room, Amanda leaned over and whispered to Leah, “I think she’s hiding something.”

“Don’t be daft. What would she be hiding? And why would she care about us?” Leah rolled her eyes. “You and that wicked imagination!”

“She obviously didn’t want to talk about Tom, the gardener. Did you see her face when she saw the old boot? Maybe Tom was her boyfriend or something.” Amanda’s eyes widened.

Just then, Leah’s father appeared. “Let’s find something to eat. I’m famished.”

All through dinner, Amanda couldn’t stop thinking about the buried shoe and the missing gardener.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Foster’s latest in the Amanda series follows the heroine, Amanda Ross, as she makes a trip to Holland to visit friends and try to unravel what happened to an Uncle who never returned from WWII–declared missing in action. If you follow the Amanda series, you know that Amanda cannot travel without getting into trouble, causing mischief, or solving mysteries despite her young age. In this story, Amanda rescues a throw-away puppy named Joey, tracks down a missing gardener, and helps to solve the theft of rare tulip bulbs. She does all this while exploring the culture and excitement that is found nowhere but Holland. Besides the Anne Frank house and the famous Holland canals, Amanda enjoys:

“…banket, a puff pastry filled with an almond paste.”

“…Hotchpotch Stamppot, a traditional Dutch dish of mashed potatoes mixed with carrots and onions,”

“…Bloemenmarkt. It is the world’s only floating flower market.”

The story is told in a conversational voice that will draw all readers in and deftly mixes the cultural details with how Amanda engages in and solves the mystery.

This would be a great gift for a child to celebrate the end of summer or a favorite teacher to add to their classroom library (or the school librarian, of course). It’s an uncommon book in that it takes children through the clever bits and pieces of Holland not found in any other nation without feeling like a travelogue.

This book and the entire series is highly recommended for elementary age and Middle School children and parents.

More reviews can be found on Goodreads:

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

A selection of other  books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books:

and Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads:


About Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.


Thank you for dropping in today and I know Darlene would love to respond to your comments. thanks Sally