About Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

My name is Sally Cronin and I am doing what I love.. Writing. Books, short stories, Haiku and blog posts. My previous jobs are only relevant in as much as they have gifted me with a wonderful filing cabinet of memories and experiences which are very useful when putting pen to paper. I move between non-fiction health books and posts and fairy stories, romance and humour. I love variety which is why I called my blog Smorgasbord Invitation and you will find a wide range of subjects. You can find the whole story here. Find out more at https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-me/

Smorgasbord Reblog – The right to write by Jessica Norrie.

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Jessica Norrie writes a post that I am sure will result in plenty of discussion.  I do recommend that you head over and add your thoughts…

The Right to Write.

My blogging friend Mary Smith commented last post, re Edna O’Brien’s Girl, on controversy surrounding white authors using the voice of black characters. Girl was so fast paced and compelling I finished it in three sittings. Then, looking it up on Goodreads, I found a question from a member:

Who else thinks a young, black woman would have been a better authorial choice for this topic/concept?

There were three very different answers (plus the point that authors choose topics for their fiction rather than the other way round).

1. If we start to say that only young black women can write about young black women, where does that eventually take us? To more constraints on what women can and can’t do and there’s more than enough of them out there already.

2. I feel uncomfortable with a white woman telling this story and making any profit from it whatsoever.

3. (recommending a non fiction account): Helon Habila may not be a woman, but he is a highly regarded author and poet from Nigeria.

46195759Girl is told from the point of view of one of the 276 schoolgirls abducted from a boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria in April 2014, the best known of many such abductions. To me the novel is less about a black-only experience than one example of  what throughout history and all over the world men have done to women in the name of religion, power or both. Regardless of race or age, Edna O’Brien is a woman who, raised in Catholic Ireland, knows all about repression.

 

 

Head over to read the post in full and add your comments…The right to write

Jessica Norrie, Buy: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Website:Jessica Norrie on WordPressGoodreads: Jessica Norrie

CarolCooks2…Weekly roundup…12th Jan-18th January 2020…


Time for the round up from Carol Taylor who covers a wonderful range of topics each week from Climate Change to delicious recipes, many of them with a Thai flavour…on Wednesdays you will find music and short stories and in today’s post some tasty homemade coconut macaroons.. always something for everyone.. #ecommended

Retired? No one told me!

Welcome to my weekly roundup…I have been busy cooking and experimenting in my kitchen, doing lots of research for my cookbook which is back on track …Gradually catching up with posts I have missed lately ..Do you find the festive season and the aftermath just seems to throw you off course somewhat…?

That’s the last sip of my Oolong tea sipped and enjoyed so let’s get on with it, shall we…I hope you enjoy x

Monday…The bigger picture…

See the bigger picture...

I will be honest and I did have a bit of a rant…Why? Well, some of it is caused by what I am reading at the moment… If you get a chance and want a break from the fiction…I recommend you read Climate Justice by Mary Robinson…It is a great read… it opened my eyes and made me think and wish I was younger and had known all this…Why didn’t I?…

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Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Grace – The Gift by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet. This story is slightly out of season but I hope you don’t mind.

Grace – The Gift by Sally Cronin

It was Grace’s fifth birthday and the staff at the council run orphanage had made sure that there was an iced cake for tea and some small wrapped presents beside the plastic yellow plate. The children sat at tables for ten boys and ten girls, and meal times were expected to be conducted in silence. This rule was however broken on birthdays, when all fifty children would stand up and sing Happy Birthday enthusiastically in the hopes of receiving a thin slice of the oblong sponge cake.

Grace sat in silence as the noise erupted around her and gently fingered the blue and white wrapping paper on the nearest present to her. From the shape she could see that it was a book. It would not be new; a hand me down from one of the older children. Still, in this home of abandoned children, a gift was always treasured. A tear rolled down her flushed cheeks and slid into the corners of her mouth. She wiped them away hurriedly; being a cry baby was frowned upon. Gratefulness for the charity that put a roof over your head and food on the table in front of you was drummed into the children from a very early age.

The energetic rendering of the song ended and there was a scrapping of wooden chair legs as all fifty children sat down at once. Silence resumed as slices of bread and butter were grabbed and placed onto plates with well-scrubbed hands. There were four small dishes of jam around each table and the youngest children would wait their turn knowing that receiving a small spoonful would be an unusual bonus. One of the serving ladies, a local girl called Alice, took away the oblong iced sponge cake to be cut into thin slices. After Grace had been served one of the pieces; the large platter moved around the dining hall watched eagerly by fifty pairs of eyes.

Picking at the cake with trembling fingers, Grace managed to eat a few morsels before a coughing fit overtook her. The matron came across and slapped the child firmly on her back and offered her the beaker of diluted orange juice.

‘Come on girl, buck up,’ the stout grey-haired woman looked down at her sternly. ‘There is many a child here who would be delighted to have these treats’

Grace tried her best to smile knowing that being labelled ungrateful brought consequences and having been disciplined twice recently she was in no hurry to repeat the experience. It was not seen as cruelty, to stand a child in a corner for an hour at a time, or to send them to bed without even this meagre supper. Grace had felt the pangs of hunger more than once since her best friend Hope had left the orphanage.

The thought of her friend waving goodbye as she had left in her smart new tartan coat, made Grace catch her breath. To stop herself crying she pinched her arm as hard as possible. She hoped that Hope had not forgotten her now that she had a real mummy and daddy. The two girls had been brought to the orphanage within days of each other at only six weeks old in the winter of 1953; as toddlers they had become inseparable. They were so very different that no-one could mistake them for sisters. Grace had straight red hair that frizzed at the slightest dampness and freckles sprinkled her nose and cheeks. She grew rapidly into a gangly five year old whilst Hope, with her curly blonde hair and blue eyes, remained petite and doll-like.

It was always hoped that the babies who arrived at the orphanage would be adopted into a good home. Although there had been some interest initially, by the time the two girls reached four years old it was becoming more and more unlikely that this would happen.

However, a few months ago a couple had arrived and immediately taken to Hope and started the proceedings to adopt her. The two small girls had known nothing but this regimented environment, and never imagined that one day they might be separated so devastatingly.

The matron rang the large brass bell on her table. The children stood ready to file out to the games room for an hour before bedtime at seven o’clock. Grace trailed behind the other girls from her table clasping her three gifts; as yet unopened. As the older boys played with some wooden toys in the corner, some of the smaller children clustered around Grace and begged her to open the presents. As expected there was a dog-eared picture book of fairy stories which was passed around and admired. One of the other packages contained a small packet of sherbet sweets that were eagerly sampled, and in the third was a woollen scarf in a bright red colour. Grateful for its warmth, Grace wrapped around her neck and sat until bedtime looking at the pictures in her new book.

Grace had barely eaten since her birthday, and the head teacher at the primary school in the village, had rung matron to say that the child was becoming more and more withdrawn. Although strict and somewhat fierce looking, the matron was not an intentionally unkind woman and she called in the doctor from the local surgery.

He was a gruff looking man with a shaggy mane of greying hair. The children adored him because he always arrived with pockets filled with boiled sweets. He sat on the edge of Grace’s bed and having examined her carefully, he took her little hand in his.

‘Well little Grace what a pickle we are in,’ he smiled down at the solemn child. ‘It is nearly Christmas, and you will miss all the fun if you don’t start eating soon as you will have to stay in bed.’

The child turned her head away and whispered into her pillow. ‘I only want Hope to come back home for Christmas.’

The doctor returned downstairs and met with matron behind the closed door of her office.

Reluctantly at his request she made a phone call and proceeded to have a lengthy discussion with the person on the end of the line.

Having left instructions that Grace was to be fed every two to three hours with some chicken broth and a little toast and jelly if she would eat it, Doctor Baxter left to continue his rounds. He promised to return on Christmas Eve in three days to see how the patient was doing and also to carry out his annual duties as Father Christmas at the children’s party.

Grace did sip a little of the broth and nibbled at the toast, and three days later she was carried downstairs and sat on a chair near to the Christmas tree. The children had made all the decorations, and what they might have lacked in expertise, they had made up for in bright colours and glitter. Fairy lights flickered through the branches of the tree that had been donated by the villagers, along with a present for every child, in a sack placed by a big red arm chair. The presents were to be distributed before they would sit down to unusually overflowing platefuls of sandwiches, jelly and and as a very special treat, Christmas cake. The boys and girls were not sure what they were looking forward to most.

Hearing tyres on the gravel of the drive the children rushed to the windows of the dining hall and started clutching each other in excitement. Santa Claus sat in the back of a large open topped black car, and when the vehicle stopped; he opened the door and stepped out to wave to them all. They were so focused on his progress as he walked to the front door that the three other passengers in the vehicle went unnoticed.

Ten minutes later Santa was sat in his large comfortable chair. The children came up one by one to sit on his knee, and were given a present wrapped in festive paper, tied with either a blue or pink ribbon. Grace watched the proceedings quietly on the side lines until there was just one present left. Alice put down the jug of juice that she was serving to the children, and came over, picking Grace up and depositing her gently on Santa’s lap. The white faced child glanced up into a pair of twinkling eyes that looked vaguely familiar, but it was difficult to tell who was behind the big white bushy beard.

He leant down and whispered in her ear. ‘I hear that you would like something very special for Christmas, is that right little girl?’ he winked at her. ‘I hope that I’ve brought you what you wished for.’

At that moment Grace’s eyes were drawn to three people who had suddenly appeared at Santa’s shoulder. For a moment she froze in place, then pushing herself off his knee, she wrapped her arms around the small blonde girl standing in front of a smiling man and woman.

The two girls remained huddled in each other’s arms sobbing uncontrollably until the woman knelt down beside them and wiped their faces with a clean white handkerchief. Satisfied that she had managed to stop the flood of tears, she reached out and took each of their hands in her own.

‘Hope has missed you dreadfully Grace and we have heard so much about you,’ she smiled at the bewildered Grace. ‘We were all hoping that you would like to come and live with us too; as Hope’s sister.’

An hour later the group of adults watched as the two girls sat side by side at a table. They were talking non-stop except when selecting and eating another sandwich or a piece of cake. Even matron could not hold back a smile at the change in Grace now that she was reunited with her soul mate. As for Santa, he scratched his face behind the itchy beard and wished that he could capture this moment for ever.

Happy Christmas Grace…

© Sally Cronin 2015

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – January 12th- 18th 2020


Welcome to this week’s posts on Smorgasbord that you might have missed.

I hope you have had a good week… I am in housekeeping mode both on and offline. At the moment the Cafe and Bookstore is in the middle of a facelift with the addition of both UK and US Amazon selling pages, Goodreads where the author has a page, and their website or blog. It is a work in progress so don’t worry if your entry does not reflect this change yet, it will soon.

You can help me out if you are an author on the shelves by letting me know in advance that you have a new book being released. That helps me keep your entry up to date but also ensures that you receive a new book promotion when your book is available or is on pre-order offer.

I do go through every week to check for recent reviews but with 150 authors it is easy to miss one. To keep the cafe at a manageable size, authors listed have reviews within the last six months.

A few statistics about the Cafe and Bookstore.

  • In 2019 there were 130 Cafe Updates including the summer features and Christmas book fair and 125 New book Promotions
  • The top viewed (220) New Book on the Shelves was A Bit About Britain’s History by Mike Biles
  • The average new book on the shelves promotion has over 100 views on the blog, multi-retweets on Twitter and shares on Facebook.
  • It is a free book promotion and all it costs is a little bit of your time, letting me know and responding to comments. Judging from comments, I am confident that the posts do result, in not only effective exposure for your books but also sales and more reviews.

If you are not already an author in the Cafe and Bookstore you can find all the details at this link: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore FREE Author promotion

As to my offline decluttering… with the likelihood of a move and alleged downsizing this year, I am working through my depleted but still over subscribed clothes stash. Despite my continued weight loss, I doubt that the silver lame 1970s disco trousers that I have clung on to will see the light of day (or glitter ball) again… despite the pain it will cost me it is time to send to the charity shop and hope that some other young person might enjoy taking them for a twirl… along with the last of my stilettos….(I need a hoist to keep me upright).  Still I have my glory days to remember… and I still take to the kitchen floor when the mood takes me….

Anyway.. keep dancing

And as always my thanks to the wonderful team who keep coming up with amazing posts and to you for dropping in to read them.

A wonderful introduction to the new column from D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies who explores the Realms of Relationships. She will be on her winter retreat for February but will be back in March. In this column Debby explores our communication skills both verbal and behavioural and strategies for resolving conflict.

D. G. Kaye – Exploring the Realms of Relationships

Welcome to a new series from Carol Taylor, the wonderful A – Z of Food and I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge of wonderful ingredients across the food groups, spices and herbs.

Caroly Taylor’s A – Z of Food – Almonds, Arrowroot, Aubergines and Avocado

This week on the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills   the prompt was a husband carrying his wife…

Carrot Ranch – A Dream Home by Sally Cronin

Two more stories from this collection…

Francis – Forging New Bonds by Sally Cronin

George – Playing Away from Home

This week the prompt for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 160 the prompt is ‘Calm and Present’… I have chosen the synonyms ‘Serene and Deliver’ for my Etheree.

Etheree – On the Wind by Sally Cronin

Movie Hits – Mrs Robinson – The Graduate by Simon & Garfunkel

My review for The Hat by C.S. Boyack

My thanks to Mark Bierman for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award

To start the new series, author Jacqui Murray who shares the wonderfully descriptive simile…very useful for all writers.

51 Great Similes to Spark Imagination from Jacqui Murray

#Canada, #Pottery and #Eagles by Darlene Foster

#Memoir Byte – Reminiscences of the 70s and 80s Fun and Fearless by D.G. Kaye

Scifi – The Magisters Book One by Jack Eason

Acts of Convenience by Alex Craigie

Vandana Bhasin, Smitha Vishwanath, Mae Clair, Miriam Hurdle

#Poetry Bette A. Stevens, #Fantasy Fiona Tarr, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach

#SunshineBlogger Mark Bierman, #ReadingAloud Jennie Fitzkee, #IndieShowcase Richard Dee

#Karma D.G. Kaye, #Interview Patricia Furstenberg, #Afghanistan Mary Smith

#Guest Marcia Meara with Joan Hall, #Bookclub Amy Reade, #Q&A D.G. Kaye, #Review by Michelle Clements James

#Children’sfears Becky Ross Michael, #Nonverbal Communication Jim Borden, #Familyhistory Liz Gauffreau

#Publishing 2020 Nicholas Rossis, #Freebook Olga Nunez Miret, #Flash Charli Mills Carrot Ranch

In part two I share the best sources for vitamins C to K2 to ensure your shopping list reflects what your body needs to be healthy.

Shopping List by Nutrient part two Vitamin C to K2

More funnies from Debby and a joke from Sally’s Archives

Even more funnies from Debby Gies and Sally

Thank you for dropping in today and during the week. Your support is very much appreciated. I hope you have enjoyed the posts you might have missed and look forward to your feedback. See you next week.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Book Review by Sally Cronin- #Fantasy – The Hat by C.S. Boyack


One of the books that I enjoyed over the holidays was the novella The Hat from C.S. Boyack… and here is my review.

About the book

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon.

My review for The Hat.

What a fun escape from the gloom and doom of the world’s woes. I remember trying on a variety of wigs at a costume shop once and as I looked in the mirror I was met with so many different versions of myself… In Lizzie’s case, it is a hat that opens up possibilities and talents that she had no idea existed.

With the very serious baby kidnapping case to solve, initially the hat assumes control encouraging its sceptical partner into action. But, soon Lizzie begins to showcase her own ingenuity and the two of them are unstoppable.

When your life is not particularly fulfilling and you have suffered tough times, it is hard to put your trust in anyone, let alone an antique, inanimate object who tells tall stories about your long dead family members. But, as the story evolves, it is clear that there is a new crime fighting duo in town and they are entertaining as well as effective.

I recommend The Hat as an escape from reality with a well written plot, wit, great characters, including the versatile hat, and the promise of more to come. I am looking forward to Viral Blues the second book in the series.

Read the reviews and buy The Hat: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

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

 Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

AndAmazon UK

Read more reviews and follow C.S. Boyack:  Goodreads

About C.S. Boyack.

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Connect with Craig.

Blog: Cold Hand Boyack
Twitter: @Virgilante
Facebook: Lisa Burton

Thanks for dropping by today and I hope you have enjoyed my review enough to head over and buy and read the book yourself.. thanks Sally.

The Sunshine Blogger Award – Nominated by Author Mark Bierman – A chance to recognise blogging talent.


My thanks to author Mark Bierman for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award which is always a lovely boost and motivator to keep turning up each day here in blogland.

The award is given out by members of the blogging community in recognition of their inspiring, creative, and motivational blogs.

I know that many of you are Award Free.. and I do understand why.  Even after seven years I am always delighted to be nominated and sometimes I cannot respond because of time limitations. However, I wanted to take the opportunity to nominate a number of bloggers who I want to recognise for the great posts and generosity of spirit. There is no need to respond with a post, but I hope you will take the nomination as a mark of my respect.

If you choose to accept the Sunshine Blogger Award nomination, there are a few rules:

• Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog.

• Answer 11 questions the blogger asked you.

• List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your blog post.

• Nominate 11 new bloggers & their blogs. Leave a comment on their blog to let them know they received the award and ask your nominees 11 new questions.

Here are the 11 questions set by Mark for his nominees.

1. What is the most extreme “sport” you’ve done (if any)? 

I have never done one of the really extreme, can kill you sports, but I have preferred to enjoy some of the scenery such as mountains, to hike up and down rather than throw myself off under a canopy, or on two short planks. I have never been tempted to throw myself out of a perfectly serviceable plane, but do enjoy flying in all sizes from mono to jumbo. My one vice is fast cars and whilst I have never been caught speeding, I have taken advantage of the odd abandoned aerodrome, and put my cars through their paces. I owned a Toyota Supra turbo at one point that I loved to take up to the max.

2. Do you have a favorite travel destination? If so, where?

We have been lucky to live in some great places and to travel a lot, and if there was a place that I would happily revisit time and time again it would be Hawaii or Lake Tahoe on the border of California and Nevada.

3. What is your favorite blog topic? 

Tough to nail down as I have wide ranging interests but I would probably say health as that is my first love closely followed by humour.

4. Do you have a prefered time of day to blog? When?

I am on the blog most of the day, and all my posts are scheduled a week in advance except for challenges. I consider it my job and I could be in and out from 8.00 a.m. to midnight.. I love what I do so other stuff can wait.

5. Do you drink coffee while you blog?

Occasionally, but usually it is green tea during the day and a lemon and ginger tea in the afternoons.

6. Do you have pets?

Not at the moment unfortunately, but a dog is on the wish list for when we move from this house at some point in the year. Does my husband count?

7. If you were trying to fix a broken shovel handle and a 500 pound gorilla came up to you with a roll of tape, what would you do? 

Take the tape, fix the shovel and offer him a banana or other refreshment.

8. Do you prefer to swim in a pool or a natural body of water? 

I have some encounters in natural bodies of water including being stung by several jellyfish all at the same time when I was a child. I now like the clear water of a swimming pool so I can see who is sharing the water with me.

9. It’s Thanksgiving- turkey, some other type of meat, or no meat?

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Ireland (except on the odd day the sun comes out) instead of turkey at Christmas we tend to have steak fajitas with margaritas.. and ice-cream.

10. Given the choice, would you prefer a spider or a snake in your home? 

I lived in Sri Lanka as a small child and was dragged kicking and screaming away from snakes such as cobras that looked interesting and I now have a healthy respect for them and their ability to do me harm. So I would choose a spider as they are easier to entice outside with a piece of paper and a glass.

11. What type of music do you listen to? 

The 1960s and 1970s were my decades and I love rock, country, contemporary and some classical..it depends on my mood and how fast I need to walk on my treadmill.

Here are my 11 questions for my nominees.

  1. What is the most daring thing you have done?
  2. Name one item still on your bucket list.
  3. If you had a time machine, would you choose to live in the past or the future?
  4. What is your favorite movie of all time?
  5. What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
  6. What is one of your guilty pleasures?
  7. Do you have any pets?
  8. Tell us about one thing that really gets your goat.
  9. Who would you invite to a celebrity dinner. List 5, dead or alive?
  10. What is your most annoying bad habit?
  11. Name your current favorite song playing on your playlist right now.

And here are my 11 nominees

Jan Sikes

Liz Gauffreau

Kevin Cooper

Jane Risdon

Annika Perry

Pete Springer

Becky Ross Michael

Jim Borden

Patricia Furstenberg

Barbara Ann Mojica

James J. Cudney

If you are reading this and would like to participate then please do and if you link back to me I will make sure to share your post. Thanks Sally.

About Mark Bierman

Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He was also an avid reader of both fiction and non.

Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this “country boy” to life in the big cities.

After a short stint as a private investigator, he moved into the role of Correctional Officer, working at both Millhaven Institution and Kingston Penitentiary, until it closed.

Find out more about Mark’s novel Vanished and read the reviews: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Thanks for dropping by and enjoy the week ahead.  thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name? – George – Playing Away from Home by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

George – Playing Away from Home by Sally Cronin

George Horsefield slowly pushed open the door of the garden shed and poked his head through the narrow opening. He slowly scanned the immediate vicinity to make sure that the dog who lived in the house behind him was not lying in wait. It was a motley small mongrel with sharp teeth and there had been a couple of occasions when those teeth had connected with his legs in a very unpleasant manner.

All seemed safe and George eased himself out onto the garden path that led to the wooden gate, but not before a quick glance behind him for a last look at his beloved. He and Mildred had been having a torrid affair throughout the summer months with secret assignations in her shed or his own. However recent events made them both aware, that for the time being, their trysts would have to come to an end.

Both structures had been cleared out, cleaned and prepared for the coming cold months. Lawnmowers had been taken apart and oiled after the final grass cutting of the year, and had been stored in one of the corners. The floors had been swept and mousetraps laid to protect the bags of seed stored on the top shelves. Old grain sacks had been pinned across the window to prevent the intrusion of any winter sunshine and the doors would be locked to prevent gale force winds from blowing them open; curtailing their delightful activities.

Mildred was sleeping peacefully, partially covered by the old plaid blanket that had kept them warm and protected their modesty should anyone enter the shed unexpectedly. George smiled to himself contentedly and could not help adding a little swagger to his walk down the path. No bad for an old codger he thought to himself as he poked his head out and checked the pavement for anyone who might know him.

The coast was clear, but he knew that any minute now, the mothers would be arriving to pick up their children from the primary school on the corner, and the area would become very busy. Hugging the hedge he moved carefully, lifting one uncooperative leg after another; muttering under his breath at the stiffness in his slightly bent knees. His earlier smugness at his athletic prowess began to fade as he struggled to cover the distance between Mildred’s house and his home. He had two garden lengths to go when disaster struck.

Ahead of him he saw the aforementioned dog sniffing her way along the pavement, lost in the scents that assailed her delicate nostrils. George knew from his previous encounters, that the monster would recognise his smell within the next few minutes; coming after him without mercy. He looked to the right and noticed that his next door neighbour’s gate was slightly ajar; with a gentle nudge he slipped rather ungracefully through the gap. He didn’t want to risk the dog following him so he pushed the barrier shut with his backside. Hearing a welcome click, he manoeuvred carefully behind the shelter of the hedge, waiting breathlessly for the animal to pass.

Outside on the pavement the dog had definitely got wind of her foe. She knew that George was up to no good in the shed and it was her job to protect the house, garden and family; including Mildred. She sniffed the air and her eyes were drawn to the closed gate. Barking madly the frenzied demon pushed and snarled at the obstacle. All it did was draw the attention of her master who was walking along behind her carrying the afternoon paper. She felt her collar being grasped firmly and was then frog-marched along the pavement and into her own garden. All she could do was whine in disappointment as she stuck her nose through the bars of the closed iron gate.

Meanwhile George was weak-kneed with relief and had to take a few minutes to recover. The pavement was beginning to fill up with mums on their way to pick up their children and rather than risk being seen, he decided to take a short cut through a large gap in the hedge that he had discovered recently. As he began to ease through the foliage he realised that it was only just in time; it was clear his absence had been noticed. He might have been a bit of a Jack the lad with Mildred, but he felt he had just cause. The mother of his children, boys he loved dearly, was a fire-breathing dragon of the worst kind and through the evergreen barrier he could hear her shouting.

‘George, come out wherever you are,’ she paused for a moment obviously scanning his usual hiding places. ‘Come along you dirty old devil, I have got better things to do than chase you about the place.’

The subject of her ire stayed stock still; poised in the middle of the hedge waiting until he heard the slam of the kitchen door. It was now safe to make his laborious way across the uneven lawn. Carefully he tip-toed into the gloomy garden shed and feigning sleep, he settled down waiting to be discovered.

A few minutes later he heard childish laughter and running feet heading for the house. He knew that after a tea of beans on toast and rice-pudding with strawberry jam he would be joined here in the shed by the three lads. Sticky fingers would nudge him awake and he would be given delightful cuddles and regaled with the adventures of the day.

He was dozing happily, dreaming of Mildred and their next encounter when he felt himself lifted up into the air and gently deposited into a large plastic box.. Beneath him he could smell fresh garden compost and he wiggled his toes as he settled himself down. A lid was placed over the container and through the holes above him he could hear the one of the children whispering to him.

‘Goodnight George, sleep tight and see you in the spring.’

Then the dragon spoke. ‘Thank goodness for that, at least we will know where the old boy is for the next few months. I swear I never knew that a tortoise could be so much trouble.’

© Sally Cronin 2015

I hope that you have enjoyed this story and as always look forward to your feedback. Thanks Sally

You can find recent reviews for my latest release and other books: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2020

Need Reviews? Try Goodreads Reading Rounds


For those of you who are looking for honest reviews…this might be the answer. Diana Peach recommends the Goodreads Reading Rounds and it sounds like an excellent way to not only have books to read but to receive reviews.. Please head over and get all the details. #recommended

Myths of the Mirror

Reviews are Important, right?

There are a fair number of posts on the internet about how to rustle up book reviews.

  • We can add a plea to our author’s pages.
  • We can give away copies of our books (with a disclaimer stating that a review is optional, of course).
  • We can research top reviewers of books like ours, make lists, send emails, try not to be annoying.
  • We can pay to add our books to lists where potential reviewers can download copies.
  • We can hire marketing professionals.
  • We can badger, beg, remind, reward, and ask nicely.

I browse the web once in a while, looking for the miracle formula.

You guessed it – I never find it.

However, I did find a Goodread’s Review Group and have participated several times in Reading Rounds. Their process is “Amazon Approved” because the reviews aren’t reciprocal.  I actually like this no-fuss process. The…

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Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Friday 17th January 2020 – #Publishing 2020 Nicholas Rossis, #Freebook Olga Nunez Miret, #Protest Charli Mills


The first post is from author Nicholas Rossis who has his finger on the pulse of self-publishing and publishing trends. In this post he shares some of those for 2020 with some strategies for marketing your books in line with the changes.

Digital growth | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

The Top Publishing Trends For 2020

Written Word Media (WMD) recently published a must-read article with the top publishing industry trends for 2020  written by Clayton Noblit. I am sharing here a summary that includes their main points.

1. Audiobooks will continue to gain popularity, and more indie authors will invest

A 2019 survey revealed that half of all Americans over the age of 12 have listened to an audiobook in the past year. Additionally, audiobook listeners trended younger. Fifty-five percent of listeners were below the age of 45. The survey stats showed an increase from 2018, and the expectation is that audio will continue to grow.

With better access to audiobook creation and distribution, WMD expects to see more audiobooks in the marketplace in 2020. Marketing audiobooks remains a challenge for authors but effective marketing will become more important as the space gets more crowded. Deeply discounted audiobooks are hot. WMD are seeing a lot more experimentation with price control and running promotions.

What this means for you:

Start learning about how audio books are made and sold. If you already have an audiobook and own the rights, make sure to distribute your audiobook to as many outlets as possible. Talk to other authors who have had success with their audiobooks and learn what is working for them when it comes to marketing.

Head over to read about the rest of the trends and what it means to us as writers: Nicholas Rossis – The Top Publishing Trends for 2020

Nicholas Rossis, Buy: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Blog:Nicholas RossisGoodreads: Nicholas Rossis Goodreads

The next post is from Olga Nunez Miret who has written a new book but has chosen to share on Wattpad instead of publishing on Amazon.. You can read the story for free.  Here is the blurb and the link to read the story.

Hi all: I hope 2020 is going well for you so far, and I also hope it will get better and better. It is customary to take stock of what has gone on over the year, and although I enjoy the posts where people share lists of achievements, recommendations, events, etc., I always find others’ reflections more interesting than mine and seem to have too many other things to share and do this time of the year, so there you have it.

Although I hadn’t planned a “best of 2019” kind of post, I wanted to offer you a gift (of sorts) for Christmas, but I ran into some technical difficulties and didn’t manage to get everything ready. Instead, I bring you a gift for the New Year. Well, not sure it’s much of a gift, but, hey, ho!

I decided to do a little experiment and try to see if writing for a short period of time every day would work for me. Instead of publishing the resulting book, because I’m not too convinced about it, to tell you the truth, and I’d rather invest the money necessary in other things, I’ve shared it on Wattpad. You can read it there, if you fancy it, although, don’t worry, I know the topic is a bit peculiar and not to everybody’s taste.

You're Never Too Old to Be a Prom Queen by Olga Núñez Miret

Head over to read the blurb and to follow the link to access the book on Wattpad: http://www.authortranslatorolga.com/2020/01/07/2020gift-youre-never-too-old-to-be-a-prom-queen-wattpad/

Olga Nunez Miret – Buy: Amazon UK – and: Amazon US – Blog: Olga Nunez Miret Author TranslatorGoodreads: Olga on Goodreads

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The final post today is from Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch and whilst each Friday it is a platform to announce this week’s flash fiction challenge, it is also always a wonderful post about life, history, and the human condition.  This week Charli shares the tragedy that took the lives of so many in the Copper Mining era, women who are brave enough to protest against tyranny of all makes, as well as the Australian bush fires. The prompt this week is to write a 99 word story about ‘protest’.

Head over to read the post in full as it is rich with content: https://carrotranch.com/2020/01/17/january-16-flash-fiction-challenge/

A little about Charli Mills and find out more at Carrot Ranch

Good to meet you! I’m Charli Mills. From riding horses to writing stories, I’m a born buckaroo wrangling words. I once won a trophy for goat-tying and later, one for story-telling.

With over two decades in freelancing, publications, sales, marketing, editing and speaking, my writing is published in magazines, anthologies and online. I use my worldly experience to consult with organizations, schools, entrepreneurs, writers, and independent authors in the art and business of story-telling.

My byline has appeared in Montana Outdoors, Colours Literary Magazine, Edible Twin Cities and online at USA Today. I used to write wellness columns, and foodie features about turmeric and cheese-makers. I published over 200 print articles and managed the award-winning Living Naturally for 16 years.

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to read these posts in full …thanks Sally.