Smorgasbord Laughter Lines Extra – July 31st 2020- Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

Author Daniel Kemp keeps us entertained daily on Facebook with his witty jokes and funny images.. by popular request he has agreed to do another open mic night for us here today.

Memory loss

Don’t let them take the temperature on your forehead as you enter the supermarket, because it erases your memory. I went for a bottle of milk and bread and came home with a case of lager and a bottle of wine.

Best seats in the house

An usher at a movie theatre notices a customer laying across three seats near the back of the theatre.

He tells the customer that he can only take up one seat. The customer justs moans and rolls his eyes.

The usher goes to get his supervisor who also tells the customer he must only take one seat or he will call the police. Once again the customer justs moans and rolls his eyes.

The supervisor calls the police, who come and tell the customer that he has been told by the usher and the manager to sit up and that he can only take up one seat.
“What’s wrong with you?” they ask. The customer justs moans and rolls his eyes.

The police officer asks the man “Where did you come from?”

The man lifts a hand in the air and says “the balcony”…

Ankle Deep

Two Roofers, Bob and Dan, were putting a new roof on a barn when a bundle of shingles slid down the slope and knocked the ladder over.

Bob and Dan decided since it was early they would continue working because someone would surely come around by quitting time. It was nearing 5 pm and they hadn’t seen hide nor hair of anyone. So, they walked around the roof a few times and finally decided there was only one way down.

On the West side of the barn was a big manure pile.

Bob says, “It’s the only way down, I’ll go first.” Bob jumped.

Dan heard the squishy landing and yelled, “Hey, Bob! How deep did you go?”

Bob yells back, “I went to my ankles Dan, come on JUMP!”

Dan jumps… and sinks clear up to his neck in manure!

“I thought when you jumped you went up to your ankles?” He shouts at his friend.

“I did…” Explained Bob, “but I landed head first!”


Two old men, Abe and Sol, sit on a park bench feeding pigeons and talking about baseball. Abe turns to Sol and asks, “Do you think there’s baseball in Heaven?”

Sol thinks about it for a minute and replies, “I dunno. But let’s make a deal — if I die first, I’ll come back and tell you if there’s baseball in Heaven, and if you die first, you do the same.”

They shake on it and sadly, a few months later, poor Abe passes on. Soon afterward, Sol sits in the park feeding the pigeons by himself and hears a voice whisper, “Sol… Sol….”

Sol responds, “Abe! Is that you?” “Yes, it is, Sol,” whispers Abe’s ghost. Sol, still amazed, asks, “So, is there baseball in Heaven?” “Well,” says Abe, “I’ve got good news and bad news.” “Gimme the good news first,” says Sol.

Abe says, “Well, there is baseball in Heaven.” Sol says, “That’s great! What news could be bad enough to ruin that?”

Abe sighs and whispers, “You’re pitching on Friday.

A lousy hand…

I’ve just lost my wife.
Hell of a card game though.

My thanks to Danny for allowing me to raid his Facebook page…..

About Daniel Kemp

Daniel Kemp, ex-London police officer, mini-cab business owner, pub tenant and licensed London taxi driver never planned to be a writer, but after his first novel –The Desolate Garden — was under a paid option to become a $30 million film for five years until distribution became an insurmountable problem for the production company what else could he do?

In May 2018 his book What Happened In Vienna, Jack? became a number one bestseller on four separate Amazon sites: America, UK, Canada, and Australia.

Although it’s true to say that he mainly concentrates on what he knows best; murders laced by the mystery involving spies, his diverse experience of life shows in the short stories he writes, namely: Why? A Complicated Love, and the intriguing story titled The Story That Had No Beginning.

He is the recipient of rave reviews from a prestigious Manhattan publication, been described as –the new Graham Green — by a managerial employee of Waterstones Books, for whom he did a countrywide tour of signing events, and he has appeared on ‘live’ television in the UK.

A selection of books by Danny

A recent review for The Widow’s Son

Kindle Customer 5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely One of the Best  Reviewed in the United States on July 19, 2020

I cannot praise you enough on your style of writing, I have read volumes 1 and 2 of this series one after the others , stopping at the end beginning at the beginning no pause inbetween. This one the widows son first caught my attention with the title as I am a traveler from the East MM living in the Levant. Around the middle of this book to the ending you really out did yourself. Your plot looking at the long view of the world outstanding absolutely outstanding. One of the best stories i have read in a long time. Thank You. Steven

Read the reviews and buy the books also in audio: Amazon UK

And : Amazon US

Read more reviews and follow Daniel on : Goodreads

Connect to Daniel

Website: Author Danny Kemp
Facebook: Books by Daniel
Twitter: @danielkemp6

My thanks to Danny for letting me share his funnies an please feel free to pass them on…have a good weekend and thanks for dropping in..Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#NewSeries 2020- Pot Luck #Writing – Why to avoid “ing” words in fiction by D. Wallace Peach

Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives… and I will be picking two posts from the blogs of those participating from the first six months of 2020. If you don’t mind me rifling through your archives… just let me know in the comments or you can find out the full scope: Posts from Your Archives – Pot Luck – 2020

This is the first post for Diana Wallace Peach and this week some help when navigating the grammar rules regarding the ‘ing’ words..

A few weeks ago, I had a blog-conversation with Jacqui Murray of Worddreams  about editing out “ing” words. I’ve heard many times that these words should be avoided when writing fiction but never understood why. While some writing no-nos stab me in the eye every time I read them (such as filter words words), “ing” words never really bothered me.

So, a little research later, here’s the scoop:

“Ing” words do three things:

They express ongoing action when combined with auxiliary (helping) verbs:
She was washing her hands.
The snow will be piling up all night.

They act as nouns:
Vacuuming kept the dog hair to a minimum.
Walking helps me stay healthy.

They act as adjectives:
The falling apple bonked her on the head.
A failing grade won’t get me into college.

Opportunity #1 – Present, future, and past progressive verb combinations

When combined with little “helping” verbs such as am, are, is, was, were, been, have, has, had, “ing” words express ongoing action.

He is working every day.
He was painting on weekends.
He will be gardening after work.
He has been looking out the window since he came home.

Now, all of these sentences are grammatically correct, but they all have extra weak little unnecessary words.

Avoid weak helping verbs and write tighter.

For example:

He is working every day.
He works every day

He was painting on weekends.
He painted on weekends.

He will be gardening after work.
He will garden after work

He has been looking out the window since he came home.
He has looked out the window since he came home.

Caution: Sometimes the progressive action is necessary. Note the difference in meaning below:

He was shooting his gun when the sheriff killed him.
He shot his gun when the sheriff killed him.

Of course instead of “was shooting” you could try something like this:

He peppered the bar with bullets until the sheriff’s aim zeroed in and blasted a hole in his chest.

Which brings me to the next opportunity…

Opportunity #2 – Replace weak “ing word” and helping-verb combinations with more powerful verbs.

While searching your manuscript for your “ing” words, look for opportunities to replace common “ing” words with more descriptive verbs in the simple past tense.

For example:

He was looking at the lawn for an hour.
He inspected the lawn for an hour.

She was turning over the burger with one hand and making a salad with the other.
She flipped the burger with one hand and tossed a salad with the other.

The ogre was giving the princess a long-winded explanation.
The ogre bored the princess with a long-winded explanation

Common “Ing” Mistake #1 – Simultaneous versus sequential action

Did you know that participial phrases indicate simultaneous action? Not sequential action. This is a very common mistake, and another reason to look closely at those “ing” phrases!

Participial phrases aren’t actually verbs. They’re something called verbals, and they can act like adjectives. Verbals aren’t the action verbs of the sentence, instead they tell us something about the action. What the heck does that mean? Well, read on, and I’ll try to explain.

Here are some examples of incorrectly used participial phrases. Note that the structure implies that the actions are happening simultaneously, even though that would be impossible:

Peeling off his pajamas, he turned on the water and stepped into the shower.
Sprinting down to the lake, he dove in and swam to the other side.
The gymnast landed the dismount, dancing with her fists in the air.
The cat jumped to the window sill and curled into a ball, sleeping in the sunshine.

Yeah, those are wrong. I’m not kidding. Clearly, the actions need to be sequential, but that’s not what the sentences indicate.

Here are examples of those sentences with sequential action:

He peeled off his pajamas, turned on the water, and stepped into the shower.
He sprinted down to the lake, dove in, and swam to the other side.
The gymnast landed the dismount and danced with her fists in the air.
The cat jumped to the window sill, curled into a ball, and slept in the sunshine.

Can participial phrases be used to indicate simultaneous action? Sure. Here are some cases where it’s done correctly:

Peeling off his pajamas, he tangled his feet and fell on the bed.
Sprinting down to the lake, he waved to his sister and her friend.
The gymnast landed the dismount, her feet snapping to the mat.
The cat jumped to the windowsill, knocking over the vase.

Common “Ing” Mistake #2 – Dangling participle phrases

We’ve all enjoyed reading these literary bloopers, and many of them can be tied back to those “ing”-phrases.

A dangling participle phrase functions as an adjective and unintentionally modifies the wrong noun (or a missing noun) in a sentence. They’re often found at the beginning of a sentence.

When the modifier or participle is not attached to the correct subject, it “dangles.”

Incorrect: After finishing my homework, the teacher gave me an excellent grade.
Correct: After I finished my homework, the teacher gave me an excellent grade.
Correct: The teacher gave me an excellent grade after I finished my homework.

Here’s another one:

Incorrect: While snacking on trail mix, a rainbow brightened the horizon.
Correct: While we snacked on trail mix, a rainbow brightened the horizon.
Correct: A rainbow brightened the horizon while we snacked on trail mix.

I hope this was helpful. In summary, “ing words” are useful and they help us vary our sentences and paragraphs. But, they require vigilance!

©D.Wallace Peach 2020

About Diana Wallace Peach

I didn’t care for reading as a child – I preferred Bonanza and Beverly Hillbillies reruns, Saturday morning cartoons and the Ed Sullivan show. Then one day, I opened a book titled The Hobbit. Tolkien … literally changed my life.

I love writing, and have the privilege to pursue my passion full time. I’m still exploring the fantasy genre, trying out new points of view, creating optimistic works with light-hearted endings, and delving into the grim and gritty what-ifs of a post-apocalyptic world. Forgive me if I seem untethered in my offering of reads. Perhaps one day, I’ll settle into something more reliable. For now, it’s simply an uncharted journey, and I hope you enjoy the adventure as much as I.

Please visit Amazon or Diana’s website to view all her books.


A recent review for Legacy of Souls

Anneli 5.0 out of 5 stars Great characters, great action  Reviewed in the United States on May 16, 2020

Legacy of Souls, Book Two of the Soul Swallowers Series, works well as a stand alone or as a sequel to the first book. It has been a while since I read the first book, and I wondered how well I could get back “into the zone.” No problem. I was pulled in immediately, getting to know and love the good characters, worrying about their safety when the bad characters came along.

The premise that one could swallow the soul of a deceased person and feel their influence, good or bad, plays a substantial role in the story. In some cases, having wisdom passed on through the soul stone can change the outcome in a dangerous situation. In other cases, swallowing a soul with more active skills, such and swordsmanship and discipline is even better. The important thing is to choose wisely and sparingly, lest madness take over.

The plot to save a kingdom and a loved one is believable, allowing that we are in a fantasy world, a world built beautifully by author Diana W. Peach. Her choice of language helps to set the scenes effortlessly as the action keeps us turning pages. As I read this novel, my one fear was that my e-reader would need its battery recharged before I could finish the book. I recommend this book to anyone who won’t mind losing a night’s sleep when they can’t put the book down.

D. Wallace Peach, Buy:  Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Diana: Goodreadsblog: Myths of the Mirror – Twitter: @Dwallacepeach

Thanks for dropping in and Diana would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – The Gilded Beaver by Margaret Lindsay Holton

Today the featured award winning book has an interesting history, one that has only been revealed with the publication of the eBook version… The Gilded Beaver by Margaret Lindsay Holton

About the book

– What happens when an aspiring designer meets up with a big-wig financier? –

Winner of the Hamilton Literary Awards in 1999, ‘The Gilded Beaver by Anonymous’ has been updated in 2020 to reveal the author’s true identity.

Award-winning Canadian artist, Margaret Lindsay Holton explains, “I am free now from a decades-long agreement to hold-my-tongue until ‘one of us dies.’ The previously undisclosed client, ‘G’, passed on in March of this year in his 80th year. I can now claim this ‘story’ as my own.”

In this quasi-fictionalized account, Canadian fine furniture designer, Iris Ann Burdock, is introduced to one of Toronto’s financial-elite executives, Luke G. Henderson. He considers her, as well as a commission. The problem, for Iris, is that her recently-divorced client is moody and unpredictable. Iris must excavate his carefully-crafted façade to find the ‘real man’ in order to rise up to meet his design challenge. A witty and frustrating exchange erupts between them. Romantic sparks fly.

As the battle-of-wills escalates, Iris’s meticulous design efforts are contrast to her meandering solo sojourns to a 25-acre bush property in the backwoods of Muskoka. There, quiet reflection makes her question, again and again, what really matters …

Critical Reviews from 1999:

… like good wine – rich, complex, pleasingly acerbic … a dance of intellect & eros that expertly unfolds … and closes with panache.” – Jim Bartley, Globe & Mail, Toronto

“… a psycho-sexual tug of war in the world of design” – Spring Book Review, Globe & Mail, Toronto

“… Novels about the relationship between two brothers, mothers and sons, husbands and wives, or fathers and daughters are common. But the relationship between a fine furniture designer and an imperious client can be just as fraught with tension, drama, comedy, incomprehension and hurt as any family relationship, and this novel proves it. – Why the ‘anonymity’? Because, quotes the author, ‘This is a true story’… ” – The Toronto Star

Head over to buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Margaret Lindsay Holton

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Margaret: Goodreads

About Margaret Lindsay Holton extract from Wikipedia

Margaret Lindsay Holton is a Canadian artist primarily known for her ‘naive-surreal-folk-abstracts’ oil and acrylic paintings, pinhole photography, short documentary film productions, poetry and literary novel works.

Holton is the winner of the K.W. Irmisch ‘Arts Person of the Year’ Award in 2016 from the City of Burlington. In 2018, she received the Alumni of Influence award by University College, University of Toronto and was nominated for the Premier of Ontario Arts Award.

Holton studied English Literature at the University of Toronto, and produced her first written works in the 1980s. She began her first novel, Economic Sex, while working as an English tutor in Spain in 1984. This literary work was published by Coach House Press of Toronto, under pen-name, Ali Janna Whyte, in 1985.

She produced and edited ‘The Spirit of Toronto: 1934-1984′, a compendium of essays by religious leaders of 45 different faiths highlighting multiculturalism in Toronto. Launched at Fort York, a hard copy was presented to the Pope’s personal secretary.

Holton registered her artist’s press, Acorn Press Canada,[13] in Ontario, in 1997. As a writing artist, she published her second novel, The Gilded Beaver by Anonymous, (1999), as well as two books of poetry, On Top of Mount Nemo (2002), and Bush Chord, (2006, with an e-edition in 2012) under her artists’ imprint. The Gilded Beaver by Anonymous novel won the Hamilton Arts Council[14] ‘Best Fiction Award’ in 1999. Her third novel, and Finalist for the Hamilton Book Awards, TRILLIUM, was first released in October of 2018.’

Fine Furniture Design & Construction

Holton apprenticed with her father, the late Luther Janna Holton (1922-2002), cabinetmaker and sole-proprietor of Holton Fine Furniture of Hamilton before going into business for herself in 1986 as a Canadian fine furniture designer in Toronto under ‘MLH Productions’.

Her furniture works can be found in national public and international private collections, including the Royal Ontario Museum, (curio box & display cabinets), the Canadian Film Centre, (library reception), Stanley Ho of Hong Kong (bedroom & dining room suite), David C.W. MacDonald of Toronto (‘Temagami’ pedestals, ‘Wolf Settee Courting Bench’ & ‘Thee Mirror), Rosamond Ivey of Toronto (bedroom suite) and Elizabeth Hanson of Toronto (children beds).

Connect to Margaret.

Facebook  Trillium Novel
Facebook Author/Artist fan pageMargaret Lindsay Holton

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope  that you will explore Margaret’s books further. Some books are now out of print but there are used available as well as an E-version of Bush Chord. Thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews – #Thriller John L. DeBoer, #Scifi Richard Dee, #History Paul Edmondson

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore author updates with recent reviews for books on the shelves.

The first author today is John L. DeBoer for his thriller Skeleton Run

About the book

Twenty years ago, four teenage boys left a baby behind in a crushed car after they caused the tragic accident that took the mother’s life. Ever since, they’ve guarded the secret that would’ve ruined their lives and destroyed their future careers. But when one of them succumbs to illness, a blackmailer makes contact, and the survivors realize that, somehow, someone else knows. Now, everything that matters to them is at stake.

Las Vegas billionaire Wendell Logan is pursuing the role of political kingmaker, and he’s selected his unsuspecting king: Alan Granger, governor of Pennsylvania. Granger confesses his closet skeleton to Logan, but the tycoon has invested too much time and money into Granger’s future presidential campaign to let him and his old friends endanger Logan’s power play.

It’s time to run.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Jul 12, 2020 Jan Maple rated it it was amazing

“Skeleton Run” by John L. DeBoer is a great well-paced mystery, with enough twists and turns and enough action to keep the reader hooked. The author’s medical background gives certain sections a good realistic background and the characters are nicely drawn, without too much introspection. A well-deserved 5 stars!!

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by John L. DeBoer

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow John: Goodreads

Connect to John via his Facebook author page: John L. DeBoer Novels

The next book with a review is Andorra Pett and The Oort Cloud Cafe by Richard Dee


About the book

A cozy mystery that’s out of this world.

How far is far enough? Andorra needs to get away from her ex, but is Saturn taking it a step too far?

When Andorra’s life turns upside down, she decides on a career change. Running a diner on a mining station orbiting Saturn. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

With her best friend Cy in tow, Andorra reckons it’s the best thing for them both. A chance to start again where nobody knows them.

Trouble is, there’s a secret hidden in the café. Before they have a chance to get settled, there’s a queue of dubious characters trying to find it.

While learning to bake and get used to life in space, Andorra has a murderer to catch!

Before they strike again…

“Agatha Raisin meets Miss Marple, in Space!”

“a tale that has everything – humour, suspense, a strong but struggling heroine, a fantastic sci-fi setting, and a truly universal story.”

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Jun 26, 2020 Caryn Mahan rated it Five Stars

Andi Pett and her best friend, Cy, have run from broken relationships to a space station orbiting Saturn, a staging arena for mining operations. They end up becoming owners of a cafe with a dubious history. Mystery surrounds the disappearance of the previous owner. The author attempts to infuse suspense throughout, but I never felt the main character Andi was ever in real danger. While the writing is superb, the world-building and knowledge needed to show the reader exactly how it would work are just as excellent, the author seemed to lag in developing the critical tension making it believable Andi or Cy was ever in real danger. I liked the tale, it had humor, touched on LGBTQ, never once making Cy’s preference seem anything less than normal, but the story lacked bite. I give it a four-star rating simply because the writing was awesome. I’d have loved to have seen the author bring the tension up a few notches, make me engage with Andi. I never worried for her

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

And: Amazon US

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


The next review is for  Paul Edmondson for his recent release Great Spirit of Yosemite: The Story of Chief Tenaya

About the book

Now in his old age, Chief Tenaya’s life and the lives in his tribe are changed forever…

In the Mariposa Indian War of 1850/51, the venerable Chief Tenaya is catapulted into leading his people into conflict against white man’s plunder of their land and culture during the California Gold Rush. His story is a tale of family love, death, tribal lore and spirituality, all of it torn apart by a lust for gold. In Chief Tenaya’s world, the pillages of war are set against the backdrop of daily rhythms of Indian life in the familiar landscape of Yosemite.

Through the interweaving of historical events with imagined and gripping storytelling, Great Spirit of Yosemite chronicles the extraordinary true struggle of the original inhabitants of Yosemite Valley, their determination to cling on to their heritage, and their ultimate sacrifices.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I have never been to Yosemite, but this book is certainly a must read for anyone who ever wants to visit this place. Even if you don’t plan to go it’s a story not to be missed. It tells enchanting tales wrapped in rich descriptions that bring your mind back over 100 years to the California Gold Rush and the lives of the great tribes of the Native Indians of Yosemite Valley. The book sets the scene beautifully mingling fact with fiction for an intense tale.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Amazon author pages: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Paul: Goodreads

Connect to Paul via his website: Paul Edmondson Author


Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share the news of these reviews.. thanks Sally.


Home schooling and how it has impacted my attitude towards teachers


Robbie Cheadle shares her experience of home schooling and the challenges facing students, their teachers and parents. I do recommend that you head over to read and I am sure Robbie would love to hear your own experiences.

Home schooling and how it has impacted my attitude towards teachers

Gregory in a school concert when he was 8 years old

My sons have been home schooling since our schools first closed on 18 March this year. That equates to four and a half months of my having to drag my youngest reluctantly from his bed each school day, feed him and force him to sit in front of his computer for at least some of the day. It also involved me having to try to get to grips with all his Google classrooms, on-line tasks and their submissions and even his school email. It has been hard work to say the least.

I had no such issues with Gregory, my older son. Greg is exactly like me, hugely driven and determined. Nothing was going to stand in the path of his personal goals and success. Greg simply got stuck in and spend most of my 8 hour working day, sitting next to me at the table working away. He battled with maths problems, hammering away at IT concepts until they made sense and filled work books with detailed and copious notes for every subject. In fact, Covid-19 and the lockdown seem to have resulted in Greg really coming into his own. His mid-year examination results are rolling in now and so far he has achieved 3 subjects with overall mark percentages in the 90%s, two in the high 80%s and one mark in the 70%s which is his second language and quite tough.


Please head over to read and add your thoughts.. thanks Sally.


via Home schooling and how it has impacted my attitude towards teachers

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 30th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Firstly, with the results of sleuthing on the Internet are some funnies from Debby Gies followed by some jokes from Sally.

D.G. Writes is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.

Thanks to Debby for finding this treasures… please give her a round of applause..

D. G. Kaye – Buy: Amazon USAndAmazon UK    BlogD.G. WritesGoodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads –  Twitter: @pokercubster

Check out Debby’s new series here on Smorgasbord  D.G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships 2020

Now for a joke or two from Sally…

Even more Bad Dad Jokes.. bonus groans on offer…

What do prisoners use to call each other

Cell phones.


DAUGHTER: “Can I watch the TV?”

DAD: “Yes, but don’t turn it on.”


What happened when the TWO ANTENNAS got married

Well, the ceremony was kind of boring, but the reception was great!


If you see a ROBBERY at an Apple store

does that make you an iWitness


There’s a thin line between a NUMERATOR and a DENOMINATOR

and only a fraction of people can understand that.


Geology rocks

but geography is really where it’s at.


Don’t trust atoms.

They make up everything!


What did the molecule say to the SUSPICIOUS molecule

“I’ve got my ion you.”


To the guy who INVENTED zero:

Thanks for nothing.


Why should you wear GLASSES during math class

They say it improves division.


PARALLEL lines have so much in common.

It’s really too bad they’ll never meet.


I was going to tell a TIME TRAVEL joke

but you didn’t like it.


Did you hear about that ATM who was ADDICTED to money

He suffered from withdrawals.

Thank you for dropping in today and we hope you are leaving with a smile on your face..thanks Debby and Sally…

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#NewSeries 2020- Pot Luck – Fighting photo phobia by Mary Smith

Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives… and I will be picking two posts from the blogs of those participating from the first six months of 2020. If you don’t mind me rifling through your archives… just let me know in the comments or you can find out the full scope: Posts from Your Archives – Pot Luck – 2020

This is the first post from freelance journalist and author Mary Smith...and this week Mary shares the challenges of getting a new profile photograph taken. One of the major selling points of a book is its author and the connection a potential reader makes when they see the profile photograph. It is well worth taking the time and in some cases getting a professional to take the photo and this post is useful for us all.

Fighting photo phobia by Mary Smith

I hate having my photo taken. I can hear an instant chorus of ‘so do I’ but I’m sure no one hates it as much as I do. It’s almost a phobia.

A camera is pointed in my direction and in an instant every muscle in my face freezes, my shoulders lift up to my ears, my chin sticks out and all the wrinkles in my neck are accentuated a hundred-fold.

The profile pics I’ve been using on Facebook, Twitter and blogs were taken by a photographer friend. I was grateful for the time and effort she took and I picked (out of many) the ones that seemed to me to be ‘not too bad’. These were taken some years ago and I knew I really ought to update them.

This was taken several years ago – time for an update

I was thinking it was time to bite the bullet and have a professional photo taken which I could use on as my social media profile and for book covers and press releases and all the rest of the things authors and bloggers need to do which seem to require a mug shot. At a party I bumped into portrait photographer Kim Ayres. Fate!?

We had a long chat. I had several glasses of wine and agreed we should meet – just to discuss the idea. Kim emailed me next day, we met and he spent time explaining why so many of us don’t like seeing photos of ourselves. It’s because we only see ourselves in the mirror so we always see a reverse image of ourselves. Other people don’t shriek in horror at our pic because they are used to seeing us that way.

I understood what he was telling me but it didn’t totally convince me. If I think I look ghastly in my photos, does that mean everyone thinks I look ghastly in real life? And does that mean that only my hairdresser knows how I see myself? Anyway, I somehow found myself agreeing to have him take my photo.

Kim suggested I pretend I have a twin sister about to have her photo taken and think what advice I’d give her. ‘Eyebrows,’ I told my mythical twin. ‘You need to get your eyebrows done.’ Off I went – no manicure, no plumping up of lips, no facial – just the eyebrows. Funny, isn’t it what can make us feel better about ourselves?

He emailed to suggest I might have a drink to help me relax as long as I promised him I didn’t become either an aggressive or a maudlin drunk. I hadn’t actually contemplated getting drunk but when he arrived with all his photographic paraphernalia it suddenly seemed like a good idea. While he had a cup of tea I mixed a gin and martini cocktail – well, I didn’t bother with the lemon peel or olive or ice or shaking it – just a good slug of each in a glass. I don’t think it helped.

What did help was chatting, listening to Kim explain all sorts of things about photography (most of which went right over my head) and telling me we would have fun and, no matter how long it took, we would get a good photo – a photo I was happy with. Thinking back, it was like he was making soothing noises to a frightened horse!

He’d asked what I wanted people to see when they looked at the photo. I said I wanted to come across as warm and friendly, someone people would want to get to know. As he took each shot it appeared on a tablet so we could see it. To start with, all I could see was ‘meah’ but something happened during the process and I began to react differently to the photos. I began to see how things changed with a tilt of the shoulder here, a movement forward there, laughing at something just before the shutter clicked, a ‘think of something naughty’, stick out your tongue.

Best of all, Kim never gave that terrifying command I’ve heard from photographers – friends, professionals, family – ‘Smile!’ As someone who was a smoker, who drinks black coffee and red wine and has some unflattering NHS dental work, I’m very self-conscious about my teeth – as well as all the other major defects I immediately notice in my photos.

Kim was so relaxed, not rushing things, actually making me feel if took ten hours it would be fine with him and it did actually become fun. It took a couple of hours though, but eventually I looked at a photo and didn’t cringe. I was drawn to my eyes, which looked quite twinkly, rather than my wrinkly neck. I saw my neck, but it didn’t matter, because I realised people would look at the eyes first. Another one made me say: ‘Oh, my shoulder has moved up spoiling the line.’ Then, I realised I was looking at the whole image with a different eye. Kim was grinning.

The new profile pic

When the shoot was over I was both exhilarated and exhausted. I wanted to tell Kim to come back and we could do it again, maybe in the blue dress this time. I wanted to continue having fun because I suspected the euphoria would wear off and next time someone points a camera at me I’d freeze like before. When I need a new profile photo, I’ll definitely be calling Kim again.

Check out Kim’s website here. I’ve been looking at the amazing, exciting images on his website and thinking of all kinds of photographic possibilities then I remember I’m 63, a writer and blogger, an introvert rather than an extrovert, warm and friendly, hoping people would want to know me as I am.

I can even be in black and white or colour

©Mary Smith 2020

About Mary Smith

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She wanted others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan

Books by Mary Smith


A recent review No More Mulberries

Carol McKay 5.0 out of 5 stars Immersive  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 June 2020

A really enjoyable story that had my imagination fully immersed in its portrayal of the sensory world of 1990s rural Afghanistan. A tender love story set against a backdrop of cultural conflicts and encroaching war.

Mary Smith, Buy:Amazon US – and:Amazon UK –  Blog: Mary Smith’s PlaceGoodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @marysmithwriter


Thank you for dropping in today and Mary would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Spotlight – Life Changing Moments

Welcome to the new series of the Cafe and Bookstore Author spotlight which begins in September.

In this new series I am inviting authors in the Cafe to share what they consider to be a defining moment in their lives that resulted in a major positive change.

Here are a few examples, and I am sure you will have plenty to add:

  • Meeting a stranger with surprising consequences
  • Accepting an invitation that took you out of your comfort zone
  • Being fired from a job or resigning without another job lined up that turned out to be an opportunity.
  • Taking a wrong turn on a journey and discovering something about yourself.
  • Being in the wrong place at the right time when an opportunity presented itself.
  • Overcoming a challenging situation such as a failed relationship and finding happiness.
  • Taking part in a charity challenge such as a parachute jump and how it conquered a fear.
  • Accidentally walking through the wrong door and finding an uplifting experience
  • Moving to a new country and feeling immediately at home.

You can choose to stick to the facts or can write a fiction story that has ‘A Life Changing Moment’ as its theme.

Here is an example of how your post will look.

Here is something I wrote about how a number of factors came into play following my disastrous first marriage. It was a decision that took me hundreds of miles away from home, to meet someone who would change my views on love and romance, and subsequently my life all in the space of six weeks.

The Rocky Road to True Romance

Have you ever wondered why the classic fairy stories that involve a beautiful farmer’s daughter, scullery maid or even a princess, who are swept off their feet by a handsome and rich stranger on a white horse; end with the words ‘And they lived happily ever after’.

Because most were written by men at a time when a woman was a chattel who cooked, cleaned and bore children. The men however went about their business as usual; of course living happily ever after.

That may sound a bit cynical, but I can remember as a child being fed the propaganda. Most commonly via bedtime stories and the ‘Happy Ever After’ films that we were allowed to watch in our teen years. Disney had the whole thing down to a fine art.

By the time I was sixteen, I was convinced that at some point, a rich and handsome stranger was going to gallop into my life and sweep me off into a fairy tale future in a palace with  a new generation of princes and princesses, and a life of love and contentment.

By the time I was 19 years old I had kissed a few frogs, and thought that Prince Charming had ridden in a few times, but discovered that in reality they just as quickly rode off into the sunset. Still that is all part of growing up, but because of the indoctrination of childhood, I mistook one particular prince for the real thing.

Oh the joy in the royal family that the princess had been chosen by a prince of such standing in the neighbouring country. A large and lavish wedding was orchestrated by the two queens with the kings simply opening the doors to their treasure houses. The invitation lists in both palaces grew by the hour as dignitaries were invited from far and wide. Many of whom the princess and prince had never met. The reception was a masterpiece of just the right location and the food suitably divine. A vaulted arch of the prince’s entourage lined the drive from the grand cathedral; carriages awaited to take the jubilant bridal party to the festivities.

A few glasses of champagne, elegant speeches and a thrown bouquet that was caught by the next lucky bride, and the prince swept the princess off on his charger into the sunset to the awaiting bridal chamber.

They call it a day to remember, and certainly as I thought about the celebrations in the weeks, months and years that followed, I knew it would be etched on my mind forever. Such an auspicious beginning, and at first it seemed that the dream would continue. However, pretty quickly, what I had believed to be the epitome of true romance had vanished. As tragedy, a controlling environment and betrayal came to light, I found myself trapped by the web that had been spun around me; I felt it would be impossible to break free without angering so many.

But one morning I woke up to find the spell had lost its power, and despite the threat of banishment to a far off land where my shame would not be witnessed by family and friends; I packed up a small bundle of clothes and hit the road. I spent the next three years concealing my whereabouts and keeping well away from anyone who knew me. I ended up in the depths of the Welsh mountains where I worked hard to make my own way, and drifted in and out of a few half-hearted relationships. I was not going to be caught up in the fairy tale again. I was very happy to be alone and to spend my life making my own decisions and being loved by cats.

Then, would you believe it… a prince arrived in disguise. Quiet and bespectacled and riding an ancient nag that had seen better days. There were no grand or extravagant gestures, just a gentle wearing down of my defences. But there was magic involved, of that I am certain. I felt myself being drawn in despite the walls I had built around me. A different kind of spell was being woven that enchanted me, and after only one dinner date, I found myself saying yes to spending a lifetime together with this softly spoken handsome suitor..

The Queen and King back at the castle were I was born were aghast on hearing that I was betrothed again. And to a foreign prince from afar with as yet unknown credentials, who had the audacity to propose on our first date; the Queen announced that she was about to faint.

My prince was not about to let the grass grow under his steed however and he approached the King and asked for his daughter’s hand. With the memory of the extravagance of the previous match, the king offered him £5 and a step ladder in the hopes there would be an elopement.

Which there was, and within six weeks, very quietly and without undue ceremony, we were married. This time just both sets of Kings and Queens and one lady in waiting attended! Drenching rain blessed the union in a small registry office in Wales.

After a festive lunch we set off on the prince’s ancient steed to a rather dark castle in the mountains where the bridal suite, decked in red flock wallpaper, vibrated to the noise emanating from the public bar beneath.

Then it was off to the damp and musty rooms that we managed to find whilst we worked and built up enough savings to buy our first modest home. This was followed by 40 years of travelling the world, living in wonderful countries and working together, with the promise we hope of many more years to come. Despite what had gone before; compelling me to seek sanctuary in that isolated spot in the mountains, it was clearly meant to be, and without doubt led to a life changing moment.

©Sally Cronin 2020

So are you up for the challenge?

If so details of how you can participate are at the bottom of the post.

About Sally Cronin

profile twitter, FB and LinkedIn and Bookbub size.

I have enjoyed a nomadic existence living in eight countries including Sri Lanka, Malta, South Africa, USA and Spain, before settling back here in Ireland. My work, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories.

After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, I wrote and published my first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about my weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 11 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.

My first book release resulted in a radio interview in Spain that led to four years as a nutritional consultant for an English language station, and this was followed by four years with my own health show and Sunday morning show on local radio station in the UK and then as station director, newsreader and presenter for an online television station.

As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books and from 2002 I have been working with authors on their book launches and publicity. At that time it was very much physical book launches and press coverage locally to stimulate national interest. Today it is very different with a global market via the worldwide web. As important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others within our community and this led to the creation of the Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore

A selection of books by Sally Cronin

One of the recent reviews for Life’s Rich Tapestry

Avid Reader 5.0 out of 5 stars An appreciated work of literary fiction. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 June 2020

Cronin’s “Life’s Rich Tapestry” is like a box of Merci chocolates because her book offers an indulgent collection of short stories, micro fiction and poetry that match so many of life’s moments.

Her book made me smile and dream, it brought chuckles and it even made my eyes wet. Is a book you want to read on, as the author is a gifted writer, each chapter in her book a temptation, and so are the illustrations.

An appreciated work of literary fiction.

Sally Cronin, Buy: :Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Sally:Goodreads – Blog: Smorgasbord Invitation – Twitter: @sgc58

How to participate.

  1. Approximately 1000 words about a Life Changing Moment that ended positively
  2. Include two or three photographs
  3. Send to

As you are in the Cafe and Bookstore I have all your information and will add your bio, books and links to the post.

If you are not already in the Cafe and Bookstore then here is the link to join the other 150 authors receiving FREE book marketing: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore

Looking forward to hearing from you..thanks Sally.



Smorgasbord Health Column – The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine – Lavender

What is Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine has been part of our ancient and more modern history for thousands of years. Unfortunately there is no money to be made by the pharmaceutical companies when only a plant is processed. Therefore in the last twenty years particularly there has been a focused effort, at a very high level, to downgrade all alternative therapies including herbal remedies to quackery.  We can only now suggest that an alternative therapy MAY help you.

A commonsense warning about herbal medicines.

Herbal medicines should be treated with respect and should only be used if you have read all the contraindications, possible side effects and never with any prescribed medication unless you have cleared with your doctor first.

This is particularly important if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant as taking specific herbal medicines can cause harm.

Go to a qualified herbalist or if you buy over the counter on online read all the instructions beforehand or enclosed in the packet. I always buy the more expensive and professionally prepared tinctures and have stayed with that brand for the last twenty years.

Having established that; I want to introduce you to herbs that can be taken as a prepared tincture but also those that you can include in your diet which may improve and maintain your health. This week a herb that is used by millions because of its versatility.

I doubt that there are many of you reading this post who have not come across Lavender in your lifetime. It is a beautiful plant in the garden and its perfume has been used for centuries as part of many cultures bathing rituals.

Its botanical name is Lavandula Officinalis and you will usually find it called English Lavender or garden Lavender. In fact its name belies the fact that originally it was found in Mediterranean region as well in Africa and some parts of Russia.

The Romans used daily in their bathwater and also as we do today, in small sachets placed between layers of clothing to keep them fresh smelling and to act as a natural deodorant. A few centuries later, as hygiene took a back seat in the Middle Ages, it would be used in oil form to kill bed bugs and lice.

Certainly few warriors went into battle without a bottle of lavender oil, as it was considered to be a powerful antiseptic and this has been backed up by modern scientists in a laboratory setting where the oil has been found to kill bacteria.

It can be taken as an infusion with a teaspoon of the dried herb in a cup of boiling water and allowed to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Over the centuries it has been used to treat indigestion, insomnia, stress, pain, rheumatism, toothache and low blood pressure.

Not every culture would have used for the same conditions but generally as an antispasmodic it would have been used to relieve menstrual cramps as well as intestinal cramps.  In Spain for example it has been used in the treatment of diabetes and in South America it is used as an infusion to treat PMS. Elsewhere you will find it is used as a headache or migraine cure.

Externally as an oil it is soothing for skin rashes and insect bites.  If you are out hiking or in areas where there are mosquitos and other biting insects, oil of lavender may prevent you being stung in the first place.

You can add five or six drops to your bath, add three of four drops to 15ml of a carrier oil for massage and of course infuse the fresh herb for tea.  I use prepared teabags at the moment as we do not have lavender in the garden but do make sure that you buy organic.  You can get some very soothing combinations such as chamomile and lavender. To help you sleep you can put some lavender herbs into a small porous bag and put under your pillow.

A summary of the ways to use Lavender Oil

It is an all round family friendly essential oil but it is still not recommended to use essential oils for children under five, unless under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist.

  • It is very useful to smooth a drop of lavender essential oil over bruises once or twice a day.
  • Diluted lavender oil smoothed around the neck and temples, overlaid with two drop of the pure oil may alleviate headaches.
  • Some diluted lavender oil combined with 1 drop of chamomile essential oil at bath time for children can calm them after a stressful day.
  • For adults you can blend 2.5ml of lavender oil with a drip each of pure mandarin and geranium essential oil for a soothing and relaxing bath.
  • If you are lucky enough to have an extended period of sunshine, then you can mix 5ml of soothing Aloe Vera Gel with 5 drops of Lavender pure oil and spread over any pink areas of skin.
  • You can also cool down after a day in the sun by keeping 250ml of still mineral water combined with 20 drops of pure lavender oil in an atomiser in the refrigerator.
  • Any mild burns in the kitchen can be cooled first under the cold water tap and then apply neat lavender oil. Cover with a gauze, and change the dressing regularly. When it begins to heal use the aloe vera gel and oil mix that I detailed above.
  • The oils antiseptic properties also come in use for skin conditions such as eczema, insomnia, bacterial infections, teenage acne, and when rubbed into joints relieve the pain of rheumatism and arthritis.
  • In a blended massage oil, lavender is calming and relaxing.
  • Add 2 drops of lavender oil and 2 drops of eucalyptus oil to a small bowl of very hot water and place by your bed to help you sleep.
  • Use the dried lavender, infused with lavender oil in small organza sachets for use in your linen cupboard or clothes drawers.
  • Lavender can be combined with other oils in a diffuser to naturally scent your home.

When not to use lavender.

As with any herb you do have to remember that it is a medicine and its effects will either increase the potency of a specific drug or weaken it. In the case of lavender this applies to anti-depressants and blood thinners.. Check with a pharmacist if you are on any prescribed medication before using.

You should not take internally when you are pregnant however lavender can be used in as a bath oil or if you are seeing a qualified massage therapist in the second trimester onwards.

  • However it should not be used as an oil in the first three months or if you have a history of miscarriage.
  • Stop using immediately if you develop a skin rash to the oil products or you feel nauseous when drinking the tea.

Thank you for dropping by and hope you found interesting.. Lavender is another herb to add to your medicine cabinet.  Sally

©Sally Cronin – Just Food for Health – 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the programmes that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it.. you can email me on