Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Winning by Sally Cronin

Time for this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills and the prompt was ‘winners’ in 99 words, no more, no less…

Winning by Sally Cronin

They heckled the last in the pack on the track as he struggled to keep up with the rest of the runners. Even in the lead position Peter could hear their jeers and laughter. One more lap and the race would be over and it was going to be a triumph for him, but a bitter disappointment for his friend Michael. As the seconds ticked by Peter thought about what winning this race would mean for him. Then he dropped back and ran by the side of the person who really mattered and they would cross the line together.

©Sally Cronin 2019

If you would like to participate in this week’s challenge.. Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction 28th November.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round UP – #Thanksgiving and #Christmas all on one page.

Welcome to this week’s update which is now being moved to Saturday… It has been a busy week and so I will dive straight into the posts you might have missed from the week.

With Thanksgiving and the Christmas Book Fair, I hope there is something you will find interesting.

I have put all the Christmas Book Fair posts, including the new releases, author updates and guest posts, in a page in the menu so that they are all together. I have made the page my pinned tweet on Twitter and will update the page each day with the new posts. My intention is to include every author currently in the Cafe and Bookstore so plenty more to come in the next couple of weeks.

I would be so grateful if you are an author in the cafe and bookstore if you would visit the page and tweet or if you are on Twitter pop in to my account @sgc58 and retweet from there.

Here is the link to the page: Christmas Book Fair 2019

As always I am very thankful for all the wonderful contributions from guests and to you for dropping in.  Much more to come from tomorrow and for the rest of next week and I hope you will join me again..

I wanted to take the opportunity to say a special thank you to the collaborators who write columns each week to entertain and inform us..

D.G. Kaye, The Travel Column and Laughter Lines

William Price King in Concert, The Music Column

Carol Taylor The Food and Cookery Column

Annette Rochelle Aben a thank you and December’s Universal Energy

Over the next four weeks, Mike Biles will be sharing the A-Z of Christmas in Britain, history, tradition and trivia with us… this week part one… with much more to come.

Mike Biles shares his comprehensive A-Z of all things Christmas – Part One

Doggerel: Life with a Small Dog by Sue Vincent

Etheree – Thanksgiving

week has
me thinking
about the things
I am grateful for.
I have many blessings
on the material side,
but they fade away to nothing,
compared to the greatest gifts of all,
our health, and love of people around us.

©Sally Cronin 2019

Time for this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills and the prompt was ‘winners’ in 99 words, no more, no less…

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction ‘Winning’ by Sally Cronin

Delighted to welcome James J. Cudney with a guest post on his perspective on book reviewing. James is a prolific reviewer and they are always thoughtful and constructive. Always a pleasure to receive his opinion about your work.

What Makes Jay a Happy Reader

After some time offline it is great to welcome back author Don Massenzio. In this post Don explores the urban myth?… real thing?… Writer’s block!

Writer’s Block, Is it a thing? by Don Massenzio

New books on the Shelves

Short stories When I Rise by Karen Ingalls

The Call me Mom by Pete Springer

Christmas book fair author update

Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Lucinda E. Clarke, Jack Eason and Darlene Foster

Romance Jacquie Biggar, Poetry Dorinda Duclos, Saga Liz Gauffreau, Mystery Teagan Riordain Geneviene

#Fantasy Fiona Tarr, #Poetry Bette A. Stevens, #Children Pamela S. Wight, #Mystery Mary Adler

#Memoir D.G. Kaye, #Scifi Richard Dee, #Crimeshorts Jane Risdon #Fantasy C.S. Boyack, #Afghanistan #Dogs Patricia Furstenberg

Blogging Natalie Ducey, Writing Sue Vincent, Toxic makeup Christy Birmingham

#Thanksgiving – Soup Linda Lee Greene, Paris Cheese Potato Cake John Rieber, Turkey Snack Plate Home is Where the Boat is, Poetry Colleen Chesebro

Afghanistan Mary Smith, Nostalgia Antoinette Truglio Martin, Blogging Jenny in Neverland

#Carrot Ranch Rodeo Results, #WATWB with D.G. Kaye, #BlackFriday with Kim of By Hook or by Book

D.G. Kaye and Sally with a Thanksgiving Special

Thank you for all your support this week and have a wonderful weekend.. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Memoir D.G. Kaye, #Scifi Richard Dee, #Crimeshorts Jane Risdon, #Fantasy C.S. Boyack, #Afghanistan #Dogs Patricia Furstenberg

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

The first author today is D.G. Kaye who as you know is a regular contributor to the blog with  The Travel Column and the Laughter Lines. With a wonderful selection of non-fiction books and her memoirs of significant events in her life, there is something for everyone. The featured book today with a recent review, is Twenty Years After “I Do”: Reflections on Love and Changes Through Aging..

About Twenty Years: After “I Do”.

May/December memoirs.

In this personal accounting, D.G. Kaye shares the insights and wisdom she has accrued through twenty years of keeping her marriage strong and thriving despite the everyday changes and challenges of aging. Kaye reveals how a little creative planning, acceptance, and unconditional love can create a bond no obstacle will break. Kaye’s stories are informative, inspiring, and a testament to love eclipsing all when two people understand, respect, and honor their vows. She adds that a daily sprinkling of laughter is a staple in nourishing a healthy marriage.

Twenty years began with a promise. As Kaye recounts what transpired within that time, she shows that true love has no limits, even when one spouse ages ahead of the other.

A recent review for the book

The author married a man who is twenty years her senior. At the time of their marriage, she did reflect on what could or would happen in the future as the relentless march of time took its toll, but she loved Gordon so much that she decided to grab the happiness and job life was offering her.

I found this book particularly interesting because my mother is ten years older than my father. My mother has always been “young” for her age and my father a bit “older” for his. They are now 80 and 70, respectively, and it has been interesting to watch the changes to their relationship and lifestyle. Ten years is half of twenty years, so such a big age gap does seem rather overwhelming to me and I was curious as to how the couple managed their life together now that they were both older. It turns out that they manage very well indeed, and I found this memoir uplifting and even inspiring.

The author addresses all sorts of aspects of married life, many of which are relevant in any marriage, regardless of the age of the spouses. I learned a lot from her thoughts and ideas, in particular, the idea of counting to ten before speaking in rage and never saying anything deliberately spiteful or hurtful. I have heard this message before, but never understood it quite like this. I am going to take this lesson learned forward in my life especially in my relationship with my one son, who is so like me we often fight like cat and dog.

The information covered in this book about living with a senior and travelling with a senior is useful to anyone who spends time and travels with parents so it is all very relevant and useful. I is also interesting to note how the author manages medications and illness with her senior husband.

This is a great book with numerous important messages that can be enjoyed and appreciated by people of all age groups looking to gain the best from life and relationships.

Books by D.G. Kaye

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

More reviews and follow Debby: Goodreads

Connect to Debby via her blog: D.G. Writes

The next author with a wonderful collection of of Sci-fi books, some in series that would make a great gift this Christmas is Richard Dee. The featured book today is Andorra Pett and her Sister which has received a recent review.

About the book

“When a sister hates you, that really is the end of the world.”

Andorra Pett is back for another adventure, and this time it’s personal!

Trouble seems to follow Andorra Pett, wherever she is in the Solar System.

Andorra Pett hasn’t seen her sister for a while, they never really got on; there was a falling out and they drifted apart.

Out of the blue, Andorra gets a call while on a business trip to London. As if she hasn’t got enough to deal with, it turns out that her sister’s in trouble, big trouble.

There are allegations of drug-smuggling and money laundering, it’s so unlike the staid, respectable life that she remembers her sister leading.

How can she be involved in things like that? And why isn’t her husband, Simon, sorting it all out for her? Could he be part of the problem?

The police have decided that she’s guilty, Andorra is her only hope of avoiding prison.

Against her better judgement and without her friend Cy to help her; Andorra starts to investigate.

All she has to do is work out what’s really going on. At the end of the day; family comes first.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Nov 12, 2019 Steven rated it it was amazing

Andorra Pett – space station café owner, scooper pilot and sometimes super sleuth – returns for another adventure. Andorra finds herself on Earth to sort out her ex, Trevor’s affairs following his grisly murder at the hands of a mobster on Mars.

Intending this to only be a brief stay to finalise affairs before returning to the space station orbiting Saturn and the comfort of partner Derek. Unfortunately, as ever, trouble manages to find her in the form of her estranged sister Tia. When she is arrested for smuggling through importers and money laundering she calls the only person she can for help – younger sister Andorra.

Suspecting from the start that something is amiss, not least Tia lacking the sense to pull off such a crime, Andorra cannot help but be drawn in to solve the mystery and see that justice is served. Smugglers, corrupt police and a chance run in with Clive – an old face from her first ever mystery – make for high jinks aplenty. He is found running what he claims to be an official Oort Cloud Café tribute bar complete with sleazy Andorra lookalike waitresses and slanderous tales of fictitious romances assuming Andorra will never hear of it way back in space.

Once again Richard Dee has delivered a wonderfully funny murder mystery with a cast of characters new and old to entertain readers. The mystery becomes farcical as it twists and turns to a conclusion. Andorra sees herself in her share of trouble and tight spots all in the pursuit of clearing Tia’s name. This third instalment of the Andorra Pett series is a wonderful addition and only makes me long for book four in 2020 that much more.

A small selection of other books by Richard Dee

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Richard: Goodreads

Connect to Richard via his website: Richard Dee’s Scifi

And if you are into some crime themed short stories then this collection by Jane Risdon is for you… Undercover: Crime Shorts with a recent review.

About the book

Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat. There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

A fantastic collection of short stories by Jane Risdon who is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. Each story twist and turns and just when you think you have figured it out it twists again . The stories are so well written the only problem I have is that once started I cannot put the book down ! . Looking forward to the Ms Birdsong book ,the taster at the end of the book had me hooked . Jane is such a versatile author wether it’s Crime, Murder Mystery or a Love Story ( Only One Woman) the reader is captivated from page 1.

Also by Jane RisdonRead the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Jane:Goodreads


Connect to Jane via her blog: Jane Risdon WordPress

Another author with a wide selection of books to delight fantasy lovers is C.S Boyack and his latest book Serang has received a recent review.

About Serang

Monastic life is all about duty, service, and harmony. For Serang, a young girl abandoned at the temple by her mother after the death of her father, that life becomes all she knows. The monks give her purpose, and become her new family.

When political upheaval brings chaos throughout the land, Serang again loses everything and everyone she loves. Alone, she struggles to survive. She convinces a wandering monk to take her under his wing and complete her training. Thus begin her adventures through strange lands and her trials to become a confident, capable, independent adult.

This is a coming of age story set in fantasy world. It’s filled with monsters and martial arts, difficulties and dangers. The serious situations preclude the story from the levity of it’s predecessor, Voyage of the Lanternfish, but it provides a compelling look at the origin of one of the saga’s most fascinating characters.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Readers were first introduced to Serang in Boyack’s VOYAGE OF THE LANTERNFISH. I was immediately taken with her obvious strength and her hidden vulnerabilities. It was clear to me that she’d suffered in her past.

SERANG puts an end to my questions and reveals her backstory.

Readers who are looking for the light-hearted banter and hilarious antics of Lanternfish’s root monsters will not find it here. This is a serious tale covering serious topics. But Boyack handled them brilliantly. I felt her pain, her despair. I reveled in her determination and her strength. I feared for her life and celebrated her triumphs.

You can’t ask for more than that.

This is an excellent companion piece to the Lanternfish franchise. One I highly recommend.

A small selection of other books by C.S. Boyack

 Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow C.S. BoyackGoodreads

Connect to Craig via his blog: Cold Hand Boyack

And the final author today who has a wide range of books for younger and more mature members of the family, especially dog lovers, is Patricia Furstenberg with a recent review for her latest release  Silent Heroesreviewed the book a few weeks ago and can highly recommend.

About Silent Heroes

Silent Heroes’ is a highly emotional read, action-packed, a vivid story of enormous sacrifice and bravery.

*’Silent Heroes’ is the ideal read for the fans of ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘Dear John’!*

When Talibans descends in the village of Nauzad and discover girls can read, a woman accepts the blame and is killed on the spot for breaking the Islam law. Her teenage daughter witnesses the sacrifice and swears revenge, her life and that of her brother becoming intertwined with those of the US Marines serving at FOB Day nearby. But the Taliban is infiltrated everywhere and friends or foes are hard to differentiate. The U.S. Marines fight with bravery to protect the civilians of Nauzad and to fend off the Taliban at Qala-e-Bost, thus protecting Bost Airport, a vital strategic point for the allies. Faced with questions about the necessity of the war, with the trauma of losing their platoon-mates and the emotional scars of battle, the US Marines race against time in one last battle of eradicating the Taliban before it is too late.

The War in Afghanistan is a contemporary, vitally important conflict whose meaning needs to be understood by the public worldwide. ‘Silent Heroes’ is a narrative about the value of life and the necessity of combat; the terror of dying; the ordeal of seeing your loved ones and your platoon-mates killed in front of your eyes; the trauma of taking a human life.

Read about very well trained MWDs, military working dogs, capable of detecting the smallest traces of explosives, working in the extreme weather condition environments, under the stressful battlefield situations that is the War in Afghanistan.

Smart and agile, at the end of the day what these dogs are looking forward to is the close bond they developed with their handlers, which call themselves the dog’s partners, brothers, daddies.

From the storyteller of the Bestseller “Joyful Trouble” comes a riveting, fictional account inspired by the War in Afghanistan, a battle that spanned centuries and has affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

“Light, knowledge, they bring the courage to look at the people around us, accepting them for what they are.”

“Do you ever think that history speaks of victors and captors, of battles and soldiers whose lives have been lost and history even counts them, but of the casualties on the civilian side?”

“When soldiers grieve, time takes a screenshot and a new star rises in the sky.”

One of the recent reviews for the book

Silent Heroes will prompt you to pause and think several times. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing, long-term struggles these people have endured under the Taliban and how lucky many of us are to live our lives as we want. You will feel both pride and sadness as you read about the Marines and the experiences of their teams. But you will also feel joy and hope about the sacrifices that are made for us each day. Silent Heroes is an incredible novel that I highly recommend. Regardless of your usual preferred genre, this is an excellent read that is realistic, full of well-developed characters, and will stay in your heart and mind long after finishing.

A small selection of books by Patricia Furstenberg

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Patricia: Goodreads

Connect to Patricia via her blog: Alluring Creations

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with a few books under your arm…thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer Mike Biles – A Bit About Britain – The A-Z of Christmas in Britain Part One

Delighted to welcome Mike Biles, author of A Bit About Britain’s History as a guest writer until the end of the year. And for the next four weeks, Mike will be sharing the background some of the Christmas traditions we enjoy in Britain in his A – Z.

BTW: I can recommend the book as a great gift to any history buffs in the family both in the UK and abroad…and you here is my Review

Christmas, Britain

The A-Z of Christmas in Britain Part One

Of course, Christmas is Christmas and the basics are ubiquitous in any country with a Christian tradition. That said, everybody celebrates it, if they celebrate it at all, in their own way. Each family seems to have its own traditions, which change over time and as people come and go. Each country has its own unique foibles as well; and, like it or not, Christmas is an ever-changing feast (it always has been). Anyway, this brief guide will help you understand the basics of Christmas in Britain – if you’re visiting or if, like me, you’ve lived here all your life and are still confused.

If you do not like Christmas, do not waste your time reading any further…

A Christmas Carol

‘A Christmas Carol’ is a short tale, a novella, written by Charles Dickens (1812-70). It was first published in December 1843 and only took the author about six weeks to produce. The story introduces us to the character of Ebenezer Scrooge, a bitter, anti-Christmas, miser, who one Christmas Eve is visited by the ghost of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley. Marley’s Ghost tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits. Much to Scrooge’s dismay, the spirits – in turn, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to come – do pay a visit. As a result, Scrooge is transformed into a kind benefactor. It is a wonderfully uplifting tale that, personally, I never tire of hearing. There have been numerous film and TV versions, many of them excruciatingly awful; but the very best of all has to be the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim.

Advent calendar

Advent is the period before Christmas in the Christian calendar, commencing on the 4th Sunday before Christmas. An advent calendar simply counts down 24 days to Christmas, often in the form of a festive scene printed on cardboard, and with a little numbered door to be opened each day to reveal a chocolate and appropriate illustration beneath. Advent candles are fairly common too, with rings numbered 1 to 24. Advent calendars are not unique to Britain and originated in Germany, where Protestants counted down the days to Weihnachten by leaving chalk marks on walls, burning candles or, later, by hanging up little symbols or images each day. The first-known advent calendars as we would recognise them were carved of wood in the 19th century; by the 20th century they were printed on card; the doors arrived in the 1920s and chocolates in the 1950s. When I was growing up, hundreds of years ago, we had a beautiful advent calendar made of cardboard that would be unpacked and re-used every year; every day, a door would be opened to reveal a little biblical scene beneath.

Bah! Humbug!

This, normally ironic, expression of disgust comes to us courtesy of Ebenezer Scrooge who trots it out when his nephew wishes him “Merry Christmas”. ‘Bah!’, an expression of contempt, is thought to be French in origin. I once experienced a French mechanic who did a magnificent ‘Pah!’ of disgust at the intricacies of my old Saab. The origin of ‘Humbug’, a noun meaning fraud, sham, deception or imposter, is unknown, but dates from the 18th century. One theory is that it derives from the Italian uomo bugiardo, a lying man. See ‘A Christmas Carol’

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day and a public holiday. In days long gone, boxes were placed in churches to collect money for the poor and needy. Heads of houses would give small sums to their underlings to put in the box. The boxes were opened by priests on Christmas Day and the contents distributed next day. It was called the ‘dole of the Christmas box’, or the ‘box money’. Later, apprentices would carry a box round to their masters’ customers to gather gratuities and it became a tradition to give ‘a Christmas box’ – what would now be simply called ‘a tip’ – to those who provided a regular service over the year, such as postmen, dustmen, milkmen, newspaper boys, corrupt politicians and so on. Some people referred to Christmas presents as ‘the Christmas box’ well into the late 20th century.


Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the festive fragrance of paraffin, mingled with cheap, sweet, chemicals, in a scented candle. Lanterns or candles were used in ancient winter solstice celebrations as a reminder of light in the darkness and the coming spring, as well as by Christians. Romans gave gifts of white candles as part of their celebration of Saturnalia. Jesus described himself as ‘the Light of the World’ (for example, John 8:12 “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”). He is also quoted using the expression elsewhere.

Candles of course were a main source of light in pre-electric homes and small candles were used to decorate Christmas trees, despite the risk of fire.

Charles Dickens

We often speak of a ‘Dickensian’, or ‘Victorian’, Christmas. Much of our Christmas iconography – cute, snow-covered streets with comfortable looking bow windows, a group of Victorian-clad carol-singers, whiskered gents in top hats, ice-skaters – belongs to this period. We owe some of this to Charles John Huffam Dickens, not just through ‘A Christmas Carol’, but his other writings too. The Victorians helped revive a flagging Christmas, at a time when few were in a position to have a particularly happy one. Dickens was born on 7 February 1812 at Landport, Portsmouth, Hampshire and died on 9 June 1870 at his home, Gad’s Hill Place, in Higham, Kent. Places associated with him, like the Dickens Museum in London, and Portsmouth, often stage Dickens themed festive events.

Sally here: Portsmouth is my home town and the Historic Dockyard is fantastic all year round, but especially during their Victorian Christmas Festival.. and here is a short video featuring Scrooge…courtesy of PortsHistDockyard

Christmas bells

It’s impossible to avoid bells at Christmas – and who wants to, anyway? Church bells ring out, hand-bells are rung by choirs or in market-places – and, of course, sleigh bells jingle enticingly, but elusively, in the night sky. The song, Jingle-Bells, was written by American James Lord Pierpont and originally published in 1857 as a song for Thanksgiving entitled ‘One Horse Open Sleigh’.

Christmas, Britain, Christmas cake

Christmas Cake

A British Christmas cake is normally a fairly heavy, moist, spiced fruit cake, covered in marzipan, then iced and decorated. It should be made about six weeks in advance and regularly ‘fed’ with a spirit – usually brandy – to add flavour and keep it moist. The marzipan coating comes later and, in my experience, it’s often not iced and decorated until Christmas Eve. The decorations often include little model figures – Father Christmas, a robin, snowman, Christmas tree; maybe even a penguin. What?! – you’ve never heard of the Christmas penguin??

There are regional variations – Welsh, Scottish and English Christmas cakes are all slightly different. In Yorkshire, and to some extent Lancashire, it’s considered quite normal to eat Christmas cake with cheese.

Christmas cake and Christmas pudding share a common origin, a kind of fruity porridge called frumenty, eaten on Christmas Eves long ago. By the 16th century, it became popular to take out the oatmeal, add flour and eggs, and boil the mixture for a cake to be eaten at Easter. The story goes that dried fruit and spices from the east were added to make a special cake to be eaten on Twelfth Night, a traditional time of feasting. Only larger house with ovens baked cakes, though; elsewhere, they would be boiled. Twelfth Night Cake became Christmas Cake as the traditions changed. In some great houses, it was common to bake a dried pea or bean into the cake and whoever got it became King of the Revels.

The first Christmas card, devised by Sir Henry Cole, drawn by John Horsley

Christmas cards

Even in these digital days, we spend millions of pounds every year on Christmas cards. The first commercial Christmas card is credited to Sir Henry Cole in 1843. Cole (1808-82) was a bit of a Victorian superstar, who helped organise the Public Record Office, assisted Rowland Hill in introducing the penny post in 1840, went on to manage the Great Exhibition of 1851, and was instrumental in the profits from this being used for, among other things, founding the Victoria and Albert Museum, the V&A. Cole thought that sending a generic, printed, Christmas greeting to his many friends would be a lot less laborious than writing individual letters, so he asked a chum, John Callcott Horsley to design one for him. About 1,000 sold for a shilling each (5p now) and the rest, as they say, is history.

Read a bit more about Christmas cards.

Christmas carols

According to the Oxford dictionary, a carol is simply a joyous song. However, it was originally an improvised ring dance, to which the dancers added singing, with roots in medieval France, or perhaps ancient times. The tradition of singing at festivals is surely as old as Man – and certainly not unique to Christianity. Carols could be performed at any time of year – at Easter, perhaps, or harvest-time; so remember, a carol isn’t just for Christmas. Equally, hymns are sung all year round; a Christmas carol could be described as a Christmas hymn.

In medieval Europe, hymns were mostly in Latin and it is St Francis of Assisi who is usually credited as developing Nativity hymns written and sung in the vernacular, in the 13th century. However, it seems that many carols were not particularly religious and were actually folk songs, sometimes bawdy, associated with wassailing (see ‘wassailing’!) and with words that were adapted to suit circumstances.

Christmas Carols as we know them became popular in the 19th century, partly through the efforts of Davies Gilbert (1767-1839) who published ‘A Collection of Ancient Christmas Carols, with the tunes to which they were formerly sung in the West of England’ in 1822 and William Sandys (1792-1874) with his ‘Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern’ of 1833 – which between them contain many of today’s favourites. Many carols have intriguing origins.

See more at Kings College and Carols

Here is In The Bleak Midwinter from Kings College courtesy of drwestbury

Christmas crackers

Christmas crackers are short tubes of cardboard covered with coloured paper, twisted at both ends, which typically contain some sort of novelty, a joke or wise saying and a paper hat. Two people hold the cracker at each end and pull it apart. A ‘snap’ runs through the cracker so that a small ‘crack’ is heard when this happens. The contents then fall out and are kept by one of the pullers. Crackers are normally found decorating dining tables and are pulled before or after the meal; etiquette – including who gets to keep the goodies – vary; though everyone should wear a hat.

It is generally accepted that crackers were the creation of a London confectioner, Tom Smith, in 1846. Smith was inspired by seeing bonbons (sweets) wrapped in tissue in Paris. He took the idea to England, later adding little mottos, novelties, more extravagant packaging, and the ‘snap’.

For a bit more, see The custom and history of Christmas Crackers.

Christmas Day

Although Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Christ, we don’t actually know when Christ was born. There are many theories why 25 December was chosen to mark the event, possibly by the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine, sometime in the 4th century AD.

Among other things, 25 December was dies natalis solis invicti, to the Romans, ‘the birthday of the unconquered sun’ – part of the feast of Saturnalia. In Britain, 6 January is sometimes referred to as ‘Old Christmas Day’. The calendar changed in Britain in 1752, from the Julian calendar to the more accurate Gregorian. This required a shift of 11 days; so 6 January would have been 25 December in the old calendar.
Christmas magic and sparkle

Christmas decorations

Until fairly recently, Christmas decorations were relatively modest, with coloured paper garlands and chains hanging from ceilings and homemade tree ornaments. It was unashamedly tacky. Nowadays, increased wealth has allowed tastelessness to flourish beyond imagination, in an apparent desire to light up entire neighbourhoods and outshine everyone else. That said, festive bling can be beautiful and elegant as well.

The practice of festive decoration goes back to at least the great Roman feast of Saturnalia, when temples would be decorated with greenery and little ornaments would sometimes be hung amongst it. The use of branches of evergreen trees reminding our ancestors of everlasting life in the depth of winter, and warding off evil spirits, probably dates back even farther. In Isaiah 60:13, which possibly dates from the 8th century BC, it says: “The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary.”

The evolution of Christmas decoration is uncertain ground and much of what is written refers to the Christmas tree – a subject in its own right (see ‘Christmas tree’). Most sources suggest that trees were decorated with apples in 16th century Germany and that wafers and pastries were then added, with glass baubles and beads first being produced in the Thuringian town of Lauscha in the 1590s. The Germans invented tinsel (lametta), too – originally made of real silver.

My thanks to Mike for sharing his A-Z of Christmas and next week we will continue the series with Christmas Dinner…

©Mike Biles Images.2019

A Bit about Britain’s History: From a long time ago to quite recently.

About the book

Could this short, elegant, volume be the only book on British history you’ll ever need?

A Bit About Britain’s History is for anyone who wants a serious, yet light, introduction to Britain’s amazing story. If you don’t know the basics, or would like a reminder, this book is for you. It is also perfect for those that didn’t enjoy history at school, but who have suddenly realised they’d like to understand it a bit better now.

What did the Romans achieve? How did Christianity arrive? Who are the English and why did they fight the French so often? What is Henry VIII’s greatest legacy? When did democracy start and people get the vote? Why on earth did Britain get involved in WW1?

Organised clearly and chronologically, A Bit About Britain’s History covers every period from a long time ago until quite recently. It begins by briefly mentioning that the place was once inhabited by extremely large lizards, and ends up with a post-war 20th century consumer society. Brief articles explain the essential aspects of Britain’s past, including how the ancestors of its current inhabitants arrived, how they fought each other, formed nations, fell out over religion, acquired a large empire, became gradually more democratic, helped win a couple of world wars and were left wondering what to do next. At the end of the book are detailed timelines for each period, which provide useful reference and make fascinating reading in their own right.

A Bit About Britain’s History might be the only book on British history you’ll ever need; or it might be your stepping stone to more in-depth academic reading

One of the recent reviews for the book

I took my time reading this one because I loved the way the author wove the facts into a highly enjoyable narrative. What amazed me was how the author could start at pre-historic times and carry the reader forward to present day in such a brief book, yet cover the essentials and connect the complicated factors behind so much of that history.

The touches of a Bill Bryson wit was just enough to amuse me while I pondered the reality of “One Damned War After Another” It was a book I looked forward to returning to each night.

I’m keeping this one on my kindle so I can refer to the amazing Timeline included at the end of the book.

Read the reviews and buy the book in print and kindle: Amazon UK

And on Amazon US: Amazon US

Follow Mike on : Goodreads

About Mike Biles

Mike has lived in Britain all his life and generally loves the place, warts and all. He first learned history on his dad’s knee and went on to study medieval and modern British and European history at university. He was planning on teaching it, but then drifted into a career running his own business. Despite having worked with some of the UK’s most prestigious firms, he is often at his happiest with his nose in a history book, or exploring a historic site where the past is close. Several years ago, Mike began a blog – now an increasingly authoritative website – ‘A Bit About Britain’. He had to write a bit about Britain’s history for the website, and it seemed only sensible to put the material into his first book, ‘A Bit About Britain’s History’.

Connect to Mike Biles and explore his wonderful archives

Website home page
Blog page
Facebook page

Thank you for dropping in today and I know Mike would love your feedback thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Friday November 29th 2019 – #CarrotRanch Rodeo results, #WATWB with D.G. Kaye, #BlackFriday by Kim By Hook or By Book

The day has arrived when the  Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest competition results have been announced by Charli Mills, and you will find some familiar names amongst the finalists and the winners… Congratulations to everyone and please head over to find out the results and enjoy the stories from the four weeks…Excellent reading…

The results of the 2019 Flash Fiction Rodeo are in and we thank our judges: Paula Sahin, Donna Armistead, Tammy Toj Gajewski, Bonnie, T. Marie Bertineau, and Cynthia May Drake. Charli Mills, lead buckaroo at Carrot Ranch, selected ten top finalists in each category. Judges selected the top three places. The top prize winner in each category wins $25. All finalists receive a story critique.

To read the stories and discover the winners: Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest

Even a small act of kindness can make the difference to someone’s is the last Friday of the month and in Debby Gies​ #WATWB post she has a list of 52 small through to big good deeds you could carry out… Head over to read the list…

We are the World Blogfest

WATWB – 52 Big and Small Good Deeds to Help Change the World by D.G. Kaye

Another month has come to the end and that means the last Friday of the month is time to post about some of the good things going on in the world for the #WATWB – We are the World Blogfest. I thought it was the perfect time of year with Thanksgiving and Christmas on its way to share some wonderful deeds that we can all partake in, if only just one of these 52 gestures to contribute to making somebody’s day. This post was written in early 2019, but it’s evergreen. It’s never too late to start and there is no expiry date!

52 Big and Small Good Deeds to Help Change the World in 2019
One good deed can lead to another so pass it on.

You can make a real difference, one good deed at a time. When you perform acts of kindness, it doesn’t just help others, it’s good for you too. Doing good deeds, no matter how small, makes you feel better too.

Head over to read the list of small to big acts of kindness: D.G. Kaye Writer #WATWB 50 big and small acts of kindness

D. G. Kaye – Buy: Amazon US Blog: D.G. Writes Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

Catch up with Debby’s Travel Column here every month: The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye

And I had to include at least one post on Black Friday… and Kim of By Hook or by Book has it nailed with some very funny memes… I hope you will head over to enjoy.


Okay everyone. It’s Black Friday so here’s your chance to work off those Thanksgiving calories. Unless, you’re a wuss like me and you’re not venturing out past your front door that is. Here are some fun memes to get you ready.


Head over to Kim’s to enjoy all the rest: Kim’s Black Friday Memes

I hope you have enjoyed today’s selection and please head over to enjoy the posts in full.. thanks Sally..

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Verse – Doggerel: Life with the small dog by Sue Vincent #Doglovers

Delighted to share my review for this lovely book of verse that so brilliantly reveals more about a small black dog with a massive heart. From the writing team of Sue Vincent and Ani a perfect gift for dog lovers. Doggerel: Life with the Small Dog

About Doggerel.

The relationship between Ani, the inimitable Small Dog and her two-legs, first came to light in ‘Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two’. Their poetic adventures continued in ‘Laughter Lines: Life from the Tail End’. In this new collection of poems, their daily life together takes centre stage. From the perfidy of humans who insist on bathing dogs, to the unpunctuality of writers at mealtimes, the relationship between two legs and four is explored in verse. The Small Dog reveals her continuing fascination with chicken, tennis balls and the compulsion to re-write Shakespeare, while exposing her two legs’ misdemeanours to the world.

My review for Doggerel: Life with the small dog

I opened this charming little book whilst waiting for the power to come back on following an outage and became so enchanted that I read in one sitting; even after the electricity was restored!

I am a long time fan of Ani, the small black dog and her observations on life, from bath time (not her favourite activity) to cows and lost yellow balls. She also reflects on her two-legged human and her behaviour, and clearly has a great deal of empathy and compassion for her shortcomings. Usually these involve a tardiness when serving dinner, and being rather stingy with treats. What does come across very clearly is that their match is one made in heaven.

If you currently have a four legged companion or have in the past, you will recognise the situations and the shenanigans that make this particular relationship so entertaining and rewarding.

A lovely reminder of that special bond we have with our pets and I can recommend that you buy for any other dog lovers in the family too.

Head over to buy the book: Amazon UK

and: Amazon US

A small selection of other books by Sue Vincent

Read the reviews and buy the books from the following links.


And you can find more reviews and follow Sue: Goodreads

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire born writer currently living in the south of England, largely due to an unfortunate incident with a map, a pin and a blindfold. Raised in a spiritually eclectic family she has always had an unorthodox view on life, particularly the inner life, which is often reflected in her writing, poetry and paintings.

She maintains a popular blog, S.C. Vincent and is currently owned by a small dog who also blogs and whose own book, “Notes from a Small Dog,” is a bid to raise funds to buy an automatic tennis ball launcher.

Sue lived in France for several years, sharing a Bohemian lifestyle and writing songs before returning to England where the youngest of her two sons was born. She began writing and teaching online several years ago, and was invited to collaborate with Dr G Michael Vasey on their book, “The Mystical Hexagram: The Seven Inner Stars of Power” (Datura Press).

Since then she has published a number of books, beginning with “Sword of Destiny”, a magical tale set in the ancient landscape of Yorkshire. Her retelling of the Egyptian myths, “The Osiriad”, came shortly afterwards along with the Triad of Albion – “The Initiate”, “Heart of Albion” and “Giants Dance” in collaboration with Stuart France. These books tell a factual tale in a fictional manner, that is at once a journey into the landscape, myth and iconography of Albion and the story of a growing and rather oddball friendship.

France and Vincent  are now working on the last of the three books in the Doomsday series.

Sue, along with Steve Tanham and Stuart France, is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, an international modern Mystery School that seeks to allow its students to find the inherent magic in living and being. The Silent Eye

Connect to Sue

Blog: S.C. Vincent

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will be taking home a small black dog courtesy of Sue Vincent.. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Fantasy Fiona Tarr, #Poetry Bette A. Stevens, #Children Pamela S. Wight, #Mystery Mary Adler

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

The first books that would make wonderful gifts for poetry lovers the fantasy novels of Fiona Tarr  and the featured book is her latest book released in early October Relic Seeker (The Priestess Chronicles Book 2)

About the Book

A young time-travelling, magic wielding Priestess and her gifted friends must retrieve an ancient Goth relic before it is used to change history.

This isn’t the Priestess Ariela’s first trip through time, but now she has friends along for the journey. When she arrives, she is alone, dressed as a servant, yet surrounded by opulence. Her guide and mentor, the Angel Raziel hasn’t given her a clue about her quest and she quickly finds herself serving a deadly enemy from her past.

Ariela realises that keeping her magical powers secret isn’t going to be easy. She is being hunted by a powerful magic wielder who is determined to destroy her and change history forever. In the midst of a violent and intense battle to protect the ancient relic Brísingamen, once worn by the goddess Freya, Ariela calls upon the strengths and powers of her friends and a group of strangers.

As Ariela gathers her allies, she realises her powerful adversary isn’t the only threat. She has been betrayed by someone she thought she could trust.

Relic Seeker is book 2 in a new series by Fiona Tarr. It is fast paced and offers a great read for young adults or adults looking for a fun, quick, weekend read. If magic and time travel spark your interest, then you’ll enjoy this fun, fantasy adventure.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Originally posted on Tales to Tide You Over

In keeping with the first book in The Priestess Chronicles, Relic Seeker has Ariela thrown into a new time and place to uncover her mission. She left with friends, but arrives alone, something that bothers her friends just as much when they discover her absence. Ariela is a servant on the Senator’s estate while the other two find themselves suspected gods, or at least the answer to prayers, in a nearby Goth village. This separation allows our heroes to tackle the problem from both ends as they struggle to figure out who or what they were sent to stop.

This is another adventure where Ariela and her friends must adapt while seeking clues to show why the angel brought them to this place. The Romans and Goths have a tentative alliance built on the need for mercenary troops and a willingness to accept Roman coin. An insidious rumor, whether true or false, is enough to undermine the peace as magic and rational beliefs clash.

Toss in the emperor’s half-mad son, powerful relics from lost cultures, and a villain with a mission cutting a little too close to the heart of our heroes, and this book offers a more nuanced conflict. The view of the Romans, possibly a reflection of when they land, supports this additional complexity. Hints indicate it is the rule of Constantine who became a Christian rather than keeping to the Roman gods.

The separation of main characters allows us to discover the good in Romans and Goths alike, and learn something about both cultures. Our heroes make friends among the villagers and Roman staff who influence the course of their mission as well as expanding the characters we, as readers, come to care about.

The omniscient, rolling point of view (POV) had a few small hiccups where information is withheld to create what I consider false tension, but for the most part, the POV worked well and I never lost track of who held center stage. It allows the reader to follow both sides of a complex situation without a lot of explanation required as it would be if non-POV characters had to reveal what they’ve been doing off screen.

The spare, straightforward writing style, plus a lighter hand with the less appealing aspects of both Roman and Goth life, makes this novel a solid, fun read. It managed to draw my sympathies and endear me to characters new and old as they faced challenges to touch their hearts and minds. Relic Seeker raises interesting questions about the lines where cultures and people meet while exploring human struggles.

I enjoyed the story and spending time with familiar characters along with new ones. The series could easily have fallen into a pattern. Instead, it draws on the characters’ histories, along with changing times, to offer a brand new conflict and challenge our band of time-traveling heroes. It’ll be interesting to see how this is accomplished in the next book.

Also by Fiona Tarr

Read all the reviews and buy the books including a box set: Amazon US

and : Amazon UK

Kobo, B&N, Apple :

Read more reviews and follow Fiona: Goodreads

Connect to Fiona via her website : A Time 2 Write

The next author with books for children, YA and adults this Christmas is Bette A. Stevens and her most recent release which is a poetry collection My Maine.

About My Maine

Inspired by The Pine Tree State—Maine’s diverse landscape, natural beauty, rural communities, and independent people—the author’s 150 haiku poems, along with her photographs, reflect the Maine she knows and loves. Bette A. Stevens’s imagery draws the reader into her world of wonder and delight. My Maine takes readers on a poetic journey through Maine’s four seasons. Whether you’re a native Mainer or from away, Stevens’s short story poems and photographs will resonate.

The collection opens with a haiku tribute, “Maine Pines and People.” The journey continues with the rejuvenating spirit of “Spring Awakenings” and “Summer Songs”; then on to more of the magic and majesty of the places and people of Maine in “Autumn Leaves” and “Winter Tales.” This is a poetry collection to be slowly savored, made even more delectable with the author’s original drawings and photographs. In addition to its poems and photographs, My Maine includes state symbols and interesting facts about The Pine Tree State.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Harmony Kent 5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful little book November 13, 2019

A wonderful collection of Haiku. The author obviously loves the state of Maine in all its seasons. I enjoyed this little book enough to be inspired to put my review into a Haiku too

Evocative words
Awesome, alluring pictures
A wonderful book!

I’ve read all of Bette Stevens’ books and admire this writer greatly. My Maine gets a solid 5 stars from me.

Also by Bette A. Stevens

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

and Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Bette: Goodreads

Connect to Bette A. Stevens via her blog:  4 Writers and Readers

And another author who writes for children and adults Pamela S.Wight and her featured book today is Molly Finds her Purr Illustrated by Shelley A. Steinle, and with an eye on perfect book gifts for the younger members of the family, I am sure that Molly will be a wonderful addition to any child’s stocking.

About the Book

Molly the Cat is lonely. No matter how hard she tries to make friends with birds, they all fly away from her. Even other cats don’t seem to like her. Friendless, Molly has no purr. But a wisecracking squirrel opens Molly’s eyes to a world in which friendship comes in all sizes, shapes, and species.

This delightful tale with dazzling illustrations sparkles with sweet insight that makes all readers purr with pleasure at the end.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I bought this book for my youngest granddaughter’s third birthday. I read it before giving it to her and thoroughly enjoyed it. Molly, the feral cat, was searching for friendship and her purr. She ran into animals who rejected her, but she kept looking until she found her circle. This has a wonderful message of friendship and finding that inner purr or what I thought of as the inner spark. The illustrations are charming and brought the characters to life. Locating the dragonfly on each page added to my delight. Adults will enjoy reading this to their children almost as much as I know the children will love having it read to them–or reading it themselves. I’m looking forward to sharing this with my granddaughter. I highly recommend this well-written and beautifully illustrated book.

Also by Pamela S. Wight

Read the reviews and buy all the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Pamela : Goodreads

Connect to Pamela via her website: Rough Wighting

Now for mystery lovers, the books of Mary Adler and her featured book today is her wartime mystery Shadowed by Death An Oliver Wright WW II Mystery Book 2.

About Shadowed by Death

San Francisco, 1944. Sophia Nirenska, a Polish resistance fighter who survived the Warsaw ghetto uprising, finds safety in California until someone tries to kill her. She insists political enemies want to silence her, but homicide detective Oliver Wright, on medical leave from the Marines, believes the motive is more personal. He and his German shepherd, Harley, try to protect Sophia, but she insists on doing things her own way—a dangerous decision.

Oliver guards Sophia as they travel from an Italian cafe in Richmond to communist chicken farmers in Petaluma where her impetuous actions put them both in mortal danger.

When Oliver rescues a girl and her dog who are running for their lives, he discovers the dark secret at the heart of the threat to Sophia, a secret with its roots in Poland. When he does, he is forced to choose between enforcing the law as he knows it and jeopardizing Sophia or accepting a rougher kind of justice.

Shadowed by Death accurately portrays the fears and troubles of the communities of northern California as they bear the burdens of World War II and celebrate the gift of finding family among strangers.

A recent review for the book

Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko VINE VOICE 5.0 out of 5 stars A great Read! September 11, 2019

After reading the first book of this series, I decided to read the second book to find out what happened to the protagonists of the first book. This second book did not disappoint.

I remembered Oliver from the first story and his dog Harley. For Oliver, the war was over but for the Jewish Poles who escaped the war to find refuge in the United States of America, the war was still raging.

Sophia Nirenska, a Polish refugee and one of the underground advocates was very outspoken about the evils perpetrated by Russia and Hitler’s Germany. Her advocacy put her life in danger. Oliver agreed to protect her. Sophia, however, would always want to do things her way and that put her and Oliver in danger.

In the end, they found out who was the mole amongst them, the one thwarting their plans and causing the deaths of a good number of the underground fighters.

This is a great second world war story. Very interesting and well written. I enjoyed reading it.

Also by Mary Adler

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Mary: Goodreads

Connect to Mary via her website: Mary Adler Writes

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

Smorgasbord Poetry – Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Tuesday Tanka Poetry Challenge -#Etheree Thanksgiving by Sally Cronin

Happy Thanksgiving and whilst I won’t be sitting down to Turkey and all the trimmings, amongst my family and friends, I am with you in spirit and any spare pumpkin pie and I will let you have my postal address…. In the meantime, this week for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 155 Colleen offered us a choice.. Thanksgiving theme or two prompt words… as you can see.. I have gone with the former.

Etheree – Thanksgiving

week has
me thinking
about the things
I am grateful for.
I have many blessings
on the material side,
but they fade away to nothing,
compared to the greatest gifts of all,
our health, and love of people around us.

©Sally Cronin 2019

If you would like to participate in this week’s challenge, head over and check it out: Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 155

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – New Book on the Shelves- They Call Me Mom: Making a difference as an Elementary Teacher by Pete Springer

Those of you who drop in regularly will have enjoyed the posts from the archive of retired teacher and author Pete Springer in the last few months.

Pete has recently brought out his book They Call Me Mom: Making a difference as an Elementary Teacher, a memoir about his career, in Kindle…so that a wider audience can enjoy.  And a wonderful gift for  anyone but particularly parents of this age group.

I also thought that since we have so much to be grateful for, in the teachers who give so much to our families, that it was a great book to share on Thanksgiving Day..

About the book

Who Will You Inspire Today? Teachers face this challenge and responsibility each day, but in the process, the author discovers that his students can also have a profound influence on him. Pete Springer takes you on his memorable thirty-one-year journey in education as an elementary school teacher and offers the many valuable life and teaching lessons he learned along the way. Get ready to laugh out loud at some of the humorous and memorable experiences that all teachers face, feel inspired by the inherent goodness of children, and appreciate the importance of developing a sense of teamwork among the staff.

Learn valuable tips for working with children, parents, fellow staff members, and administrators. This book is ideal for young teachers, but also a reminder to all educators of the importance and responsibility of being a role model. This book is a must-read for all new teachers and those teachers that need a reminder they are human! Mr. Springer educates others in his easy-to-read, story-like, first-hand manuscript. You will laugh, cry, and get motivated to be the best educator you can. After reading this, I have a better outlook on relationships with my colleagues and am reminded to savor every moment. -Tami Beall (Principal, Pine Hill School)

One of the recent reviews for the book

“They Call Me Mom,” by Pete Springer is a real gem! Don’t be fooled by its easy readability; this book is jam-packed with powerful advice. What makes “They call Me Mom” so special? First, Pete Springer’s passion for teaching lights up the entire book. His core values are clearly articulated. But the real treasures in this book are revealed through thoughtful, funny, and honest anecdotes from his 30 year career.

Springer’s book is divided into the main issues faced by both new or experienced teachers: how to organize your class, work effectively with students and their families, and work collaboratively with colleagues. The chapters on frustrations and humorous events are yummy icing on the cake.

Pete Springer is not just a great teacher, he’s a natural writer. “They Call Me Mom” would make a perfect Christmas present for your teacher friends (or your kiddo’s teachers)! His blog is also a great read, with news about his successful efforts to publish, volunteer, and support educators. He tells some powerfully encouraging stories of the many reasons to be grateful in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

About Pete Springer

My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over two years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.

When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.

I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!

Connect to Pete


Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will head over to buy Pete’s book.. thanks Sally.


Romance comes in all shapes and sizes… and its meaning and the way we celebrate it is as individual as we are. Not always hearts and flowers, it can be in the simple gestures of love each day..In the Carrot Ranch Flash fiction this week the prompt was to write about Romance and the result is a wonderful collection of short stories, long on love…which is always worth celebrating.. head over and enjoy…Happy Thanksgiving

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

The focus on two people in a relationship, the barriers they meet and overcome, and a happily ever after ending (HEA) characterize the genre of romance. We often think of covers that portray women trussed up in bodices in impossible positions to intertwine limbs and lips with bare-chested men that all seem to look like Fabio. It’s easy to poke fun at romance, yet it’s the number one selling genre. We all yearn for love stories.

This week, writers took the challenge to hone their writing skills, emphasizing emotional connection and relationship development. They wrote romance in miniature.

The following are based on the November 21, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a romance.

PART I (10-minute read)

Romance Outline by Ann Edall-Robson

“Write a romance. Focus on a relationship.” She instructed.

“Not my genre!” I screamed back at the screen.

“Try writing what you know.”…

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