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/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – William Luvaas, Sacha Black, Pamela S. Wight and Christy D. Birmingham


Welcome to the first of the author updates this week featuring news and recent reviews for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore.

The first author with news is William Luvaas and Lucinda Luvaas, who have won a prestigious award. The short film adapted from William’s novel Welcome to Saint Angel has just won the “Best Adapted Screenplay” award at the Golden State Film Festival in L.A.  It started out as a book trailer and evolved into a short film. You can watch the film on Vimeo – Welcome to Saint Angel

I read and reviewed the book earlier in the year and the film is under 13 minutes and I am sure you will enjoy.

About Welcome to Saint Angel

Iconoclastic inventor, Al Sharpe, loves his canyon home in Southern California’s Saint Angel Valley. He builds his teenage daughter a tree house in a giant oak and invents the Sharpe Smoke Scrubber to detoxify wood smoke. When wealthy developer Ches Noonan, a fellow member of the Desert Green Lawn Association, sets out to fill the valley with houses and appropriate its precious water supply to fill swimming pools during California’s worst drought, Al and his quixotic pals rebel. In the Realty Revenge, they halt development through madcap high jinks and the help of local Indians, ancient demon Tahquitz, and mother nature.

Welcome to Saint Angel is a dead-serious comedy about development gone mad and townsfolk’s attempts to protect their rural Arcadia from bulldozers and climate change deniers. Part environmental fiction, part social satire, it speaks to exurban sprawl and the heedless development of fragile natural areas and to the power of communal resistance in the face of calamity.

“A painful, redemptive belly laugh and well worth it.” —Doug Peacock, Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness

One of the recent reviews for the book

If this were just a novel about these odd and interesting characters living in a strange and haunting high desert place, with the lovely language and descriptions, I would have enjoyed it. But this is also a frequently funny book about serious environmental and social issues that are impacting California — overdevelopment, suburban sprawl into previously wild landscapes, overuse of water in a dry place, and the pushing out of low-income folks by the rich.

The novel is told in two voices, that of the main character, Albert Sharpe, and that of the town of Saint Angel. Alternating between the two works well and gives a full picture of the place and the story. Although there were lots of characters, they were so well-drawn and unique that it wasn’t hard to keep track of them. A character list was also provided in the back. There were many things I loved about this book but I especially enjoyed the parts where the writer dwells on the place itself — the plants and animals, what things looked like. I felt as if I’d gone there every time I opened the book. Also, one of the overriding threads running through the book is how much the long-time residents love Saint Angel and the descriptions of the environment make that love seem real.

In addition to the main story, there are many side stories, most of which deal with relationships between people. These are both poignant at times, especially Al Sharpe’s relationship with his daughter, Finley, as well as funny, as with Al’s relationship with Penny Noonan. The book reminded me in some ways of other novels I’ve loved by Richard Russo and T.C. Boyle, but was also very much its own unique work.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Welcome-Saint-Angel-William-Luvaas-ebook/dp/B07BN936MJ

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Welcome-Saint-Angel-William-Luvaas-ebook/dp/B07BN936MJ

Also by William Luvaas

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/William-Luvaas/e/B000APB892

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/William-Luvaas/e/B000APB892

Read more reviews and follow William on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/300702.William_Luvaas

Connect to William via his Website: http://www.williamluvaas.com

The next author with great recent reviews is Sacha Black for Victor: The Eden East YA Fantasy Novels

About the book

When Eden East kills someone, she expects them to stay dead. It’s only polite, after all.

Exhausted from battle and finally bound to her soulmate, all Eden wants to do is attend university and spend time with Trey. When her demon-ex, Victor, suddenly returns from the afterlife, Eden’s convinced he’s out for revenge. The last thing she expects is for him to ask for help, especially when he’s being controlled by evil forces.

But when an enchanted lock and key go missing, she’s no longer sure who she can trust. If Eden can’t find them in time, not only will her life, and her heart, be torn apart, the very world she lives in could be destroyed – forever.

Victor will transport fans of The Red Queen, The Young Elites, and The Lunar Chronicles to a world unlike any other…

The Eden East Novels: Book 0 – Sirens (coming soon) Book 1 – Keepers Book 2 – Victor

One of the recent reviews for the book

I’m an avid fan of this author and the Eden East Series. I’ve also read and reviewed the first book in this series, Keepers, which you can find on colleenchesebro.com.

Victor is the second book in the series and starts out with a bang! After crashing Eden’s coronation it becomes apparent that Victor is very much alive, even though Eden stabbed a poisoned knife through his heart. It’s as if Victor can’t die!

And if that it isn’t enough to grab your attention, Eden finds that she must rule as the “Fallon of the East” and as the head-girl in Keeper school. She also becomes part of a conspiracy to overthrow the First Fallon and joins in the rebellion.

Meanwhile, Eden is still reeling from the deaths of her parents. Those feelings comingle into her life with Trey, her balancer, and soul mate. Look for some steamy scenes between these two! Whew! Their relationship is all consuming. These two are so twisted up together that the reader knows one cannot live without the other.

Yet, a sense of uneasiness hangs over Eden’s world. For all the happiness she shares with Trey, she is plagued with horrible nightmares about the fate of Trutinor and her beloved. She finds herself consumed by these dreams terrified they are prophetic in nature.

Eden turns to two friends, Sheridan, and Charlie who is able to provide some interpretation to her dream sequences. Charlie travels within her dreams searching for the answers that Eden needs to save Trutinor and Trey.

In my humble opinion, Victor surpasses the first book, not in storytelling, but in the detail given to the worldbuilding of Truitnor. This novel could almost stand alone, it is so powerful. However, from the skillful words of this author, the reader learns more about the dryads and the shifters, and the role they play in this realm of existence.

By the end of Victor, I found myself fully vested in the characters and in the mystery that envelopes Trutinor. This is an action-packed novel that transmits just the right amount of tension so the reader will beg for more. I’m begging! I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victor-Eden-Novels-Sacha-Black/dp/1999722523/

and on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07C2LV7MV

Also by Sacha Black

Buy  the books separately or combined: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sacha-Black/e/B072BQ2MP7

and Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sacha-Black/e/B072BQ2MP7

And find more reviews and follow Sacha on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16173650.Sacha_Black

Connect to Sacha via her blog: http://sachablack.co.uk/about/

Colleen Chesebro is also an author in the Cafe and Bookstore.

Colleen Chesebro, Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Stone-Chronicles-Swamp-Fairy/dp/1541015967
Website: https://colleenchesebro.com

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My next author with a recent review is Pamela S. Wight with her fast-paced The Right Wrong Man.

About The Right Wrong Man

Meredith Powers’ career as a medical editor seems safe enough as she searches for love with the right man. But she is pulled suddenly from her serene world in Boston to one of intrigue, kidnapping, and murder in the Caribbean.

Meredith’s simple life becomes terribly complicated when she works with an author who drags her into a drug heist. The reappearance of her ex-boyfriend, the D.E.A. agent, and the stunning response from her current accountant boyfriend all lead to complications, danger, and more than a few questions.

Meredith wonders if she really knows the people who surround her in her daily life. Her parents, her best friends, her boss, even her lover. She discovers that almost everyone holds secrets, and the unearthing of those cover-ups lead to mystery and danger that changes everything, and everyone, she thought she knew.

One of the recent reviews for the book

In Pamela Wight’s The Right Wrong Man (2013), Meredith Powers is accustomed to spending her days helping authors turn out polished manuscripts. She’s good at it, one of the best, but not so much at running her love life. She falls body and spirit for a man named Parker Webb who disappears frequently for job-related work that takes him to dangerous parts of the world doing dangerous things. Finally, she can’t stand the idea that she might lose him, that he would disappear in some foreign country and she’d never again hear from him, so she dumps.

To recover from his unpredictability, she moves in with a handsome and dependable accountant. Parker reappears, filled with warnings of her safety telling her not to trust anyone, telling her his cover was blown and he isn now running for his life, and within days, she is kidnapped. The handsome FBI agent who holds her captive tells her a different story about Parker, of a rogue agent who fell to the dark side and that the US government needs her help capturing him. It is at this point she realizes she really does love Parker, doesn’t believe this man who claims to be FBI, and commits herself to discovering the truth and saving Parker.

Highly recommended for those who need to escape their lives for at least a few hours.

Read more of the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Right-Wrong-Man-Pamela-Wight-ebook/dp/B00AYNQ7EG

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Right-Wrong-Man-Pamela-Wight-ebook/dp/B00AYNQ7EG/

Also by Pamela S.Wight

Read the reviews and buy all the books: https://www.amazon.com/Pamela-S.-Wight/e/B00AYXT6R6

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pamela-S.-Wight/e/B00AYXT6R6

Read more reviews and follow Pamela on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7042822.Pamela_Wight

Connect to Pamela via her website: https://roughwighting.net/

Jacqui Murray is also an author in the Cafe and Bookstore

Jacqui Murray, Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ
Website: https://worddreams.wordpress.com/

The final author today with a recent review is Christy D. Birmingham for her collection of poetry, Versions of the Self.

About Versions of the Self

Imagine a shift to the way you see the world that arises through poetic narration. Imagine the world, at its base level, is a collection of selves. These selves collide, disperse, intermingle, and share themselves in lines of free verse. Such is the premise of Versions of the Self, poetry that assumes multiple types of selves exist and relate in ways that alter them. Each of the eight chapters looks at a different type of self, including the singular “I” and romantic interactions. These unique 80 poems definitely color themselves outside of the lines.

An extract from one of the recent reviews for Versions of the Self

Versions of the self is quite an extraordinary book of poetry. The poet, Christy Birmingham, has a very unique style of writing which I found very intriguing. I also thought this style worked exceptionally well for the content of this book which is all about different versions of self. It imitates the flow of thought but in an easy to read and fascinating way.

I felt I would like to get to know the poet as I read her poems. While she does write about a mixture of various emotions, there is a thread of sadness or melancholy that runs through many of them and I felt that the writer had suffered pain in her past relationships. The poems become lighter and happier as you move through the book and I found myself hoping that this is a reflection of Christy’s life.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Versions-Self-Christy-Birmingham/dp/0994094906

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Versions-Self-Christy-Birmingham-ebook/dp/B00XQOH3IE

Read more reviews and follow Christy on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7177834.Christy_Birmingham

Also by Christy Birmingham.

Pathways to Illumination is available exclusively at Redmund Productionshttp://redmundpro.com/book-store/pi/ (less)

Connect to Christy via her website: https://poeticparfait.com/

Robbie Cheadle is an author in the Cafe and Bookstore

Robbie and Michael Cheadle, Buy: https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ
Blog: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/Goodreads: Robbie Goodreads

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Thank you for visiting today and I hope you will explore these authors and their books further. Thanks Sally.

You will find over 500 books on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with links to buy from Amazon: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-free-author-promotion/

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All We’re Asking Is For A Little Respect


What a way to end the week…. Donna Parker with a lot of reasons why Canadians are great and deserve some respect. Why it seems that the inmates are in charge of the asylum, that there major issues in all our countries that need to be sorted out instead we are wrapped up in tawdry scandals and fake news. There is a great deal of insults being flung between countries on tariffs and how big each other’s arsenals are. Can we have a time out please and take care of some of the issues that Donna also brings up about the appalling way we deal with people who have nothing. Anyway…head over and see how succinctly all this is put together and spread it around.. Thanks Donna.. I feel better for getting that off my chest. Peace and goodwill everyone… wouldn’t that be nice.

yadadarcyyada

https://yadadarcyyada.com/2018/08/17/all-were-asking-is-for-a-little-respect/Vague Meanderings from The Great White North
Yes, The Great White North, we don’t need to be great again, we just are…oh and by white we mean our snow, not our complexions (what’s that got to do with anything anyway?). We’re proud to be a cultural mosaic. It’s not cold here right now, it’s sauna-like, with the prerequisite nude folks (sometimes a towel can be a lifesaver…mine).https://yadadarcyyada.com/2018/08/17/all-were-asking-is-for-a-little-respect/

  • Our news is flooded with the loss of a spectacular voice (for song and human rights) that came from an inspirational woman – Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul will move our ears, feet, and hearts forever…https://yadadarcyyada.com/2018/08/17/all-were-asking-is-for-a-little-respect/

  • More people killed with guns (who knew, guns do kill people); Omarosa is a sociopath just like Trump The Great Orange Misleader, they deserve each other, but we don’t deserve either – perhaps they’re in on it together, hey, let’s have a public feud…

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Here Are Your Winners! Dan Alatorre’s Word Weaver Writing Contest (July 2018)


Congratulations to the winners of the Word Weaver Contest and special mention to Adele Marie Park as the overall winner, and Geoff Le Pard in third place. Adeles story will be appearing tomorrow on Dan Alatorre’s blog.. Fantastic.

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

Here Are Your Winners!

It seems like the wait gets longer each time, doesn’t it?

Why is that?

Because I need a lot of time to read and critique the amazing stories you send, that’s why!

Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed

I KNOW you want to get right to the winners

and believe me, so do I.

These are really good stories and they’ll be getting invited to take part in our horror anthology that will be published in October! That’s kind of a big deal.

I read and critiqued ALL the entries, then selected the finalists.

Then I reread the stories.

And read them again…

ANYWAY, the wait is over and the winners are HERE.

  • TOMORROW, the first place winning story will appear here on the blog.

  • Tuesday it’ll be the first place winning story’s author profile.

  • Wednesday we’ll feature the second place story, Thursday will be the 2nd place profile, and so…

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Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Clive – The Debt by Sally Cronin

Quote


What's in a Name? new cover

Clive – The Debt

The boy stirred in his cot and waved his chubby fist in the air. The mid-afternoon sun was barred from his room by the rattan blinds at the window. The slowly moving blades of the fan above his cot sent a welcome and cooling breeze across his hot skin. The rest of the house was quiet, except for the gentle snoring of his amah as she dozed fitfully on the pallet on the other side of the room.

The boy was called Clive and was the fourth child and first son of a naval officer and his wife who were stationed here in Trincomalee. He was three years old and his curly blonde hair now lay slick against his scalp as he recovered from the fever. It had been a worrying few days with the doctor calling in every few hours to check on his condition. The household, including his three older sisters and his parents, were exhausted having had little sleep for the last few nights.

Measles in this climate could be very dangerous for a child Clive’s age and he had been restricted to his cot in the darkened room to prevent the risk of blindness. Thankfully his fever had now broken, and the family having enjoyed their Sunday curry lunch, had retired to their bedrooms to sleep the afternoon away beneath their ceiling fans.

via Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Clive – The Debt by Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Update – Music, Cookery, Travel, Health and Books


Welcome to the weekly round up and a catch up on the week’s events here on the blog.

Most of you will know that as of August 1st – our Facebook profiles are not longer linked automatically. In itself it is not a problem because it offers an opportunity to personalise the post when sharing to FB. However, many of my posts, including the columns that are written by William Price King, Carol Taylor, D.G. Kaye and Jessica Norrie, are scheduled to go out at just after midnight. Around 65% of my readers are from North America and they are usually checking the WordPress reader, and also their email notifications during those overnight hours. With the loss of the link to Facebook where I have a substantial amount of followers, this meant that the post would not be seen until the following night, and would most likely be long lost in timelines and on the WP reader.

Despite my reluctance to have two accounts with FB… I have weighed up the pros and cons and have established a page, which by the new rules is linked directly. A great many of my posts are author and blog promotions, and I want to achieve the most effective reach I can for those I promote. I hope that this will help me do that. I have sent invitations out to my current FB followers, but if you are not connected there, perhaps you would like to head over to the new page and join me there: https://www.facebook.com/smorgasbordblogmagazine/

In September I will be introducing new promotional posts and I am also very interested in developing new collaborations in the form of monthly, fortnightly or weekly columns to join the already established Health, Music, Cookery, Literary and Health posts.

There are a number of options to think about. Do you have an expertise in a particular area of writing, publishing, film or a hobby that you are passionate about? If you write about health you can write under the Health Column umbrella as a guest.  You may have a series of posts on a particular subject that you have already published on your blog in the past and would now like to share with a new audience.

If you are interested in talking further then please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com with a view to posting at the end of September either monthly, fortnightly or weekly.

Posts from Your Archives – Blogger promotion

Earlier in the year I featured over 200 posts from your archives. I will be bringing this feature back from October and so I am giving you plenty of time to check your archives and find posts that you feel could use some more attention.

If you would like to participate in this series of Posts from your Archives here are the details.

All of us have posts that sit idle in our archive with perhaps a handful of visits from readers who are browsing on our blog. But I would like to offer you the opportunity to share some of your posts that you feel would be enjoyed by a different audience.. Mine.

I am happy to share posts on any subject including short stories, writing, publishing, pets, health, personal experiences with life and events, films and music. If you have travel posts that have a great many photos, then I will feature those as a reblog post with up to four of the photos and then a link to go to your blog to read the rest.

Apart from sharing your post, I will of course share your bio, any book links, social media and of course your blog so that readers can head over and enjoy your more recent hard work. Currently my readership across the blog and Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest is 36,000, many of whom are readers and authors.

If you are interested all I need is the links to four posts you are interested in sharing and then I will take it from there. Most of you have already sent me your links but if we have just met I may come back to you. sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Okay.. time to get on with the posts from the week that you might have missed.

The Music Column with William Price King – Diana Krall the Finale – New series on Jazz Instrumentalists beginning next week.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-diana-krall-the-finale/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-diana-krall-the-finale/

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor

Carol mentions the ‘C’ word this week as she shares the recipe to make your own version of the festive classis, sweet mincemeat.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-food-and-cookery-columncarol-taylor-cooks-sweet-mincemeat/

The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye

Off to Mexico in the company of travel expert Debby Gies – Where it is safe, shopping wining and dining, excursions, accommodation and health. Read before you book, and get the most out of your holiday.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-travel-column-with-d-g-kayetraveling-to-mexico/

Getting to know you – Sunday Interview – With N.A. (Noelle Granger)

I had the pleasure of meeting my guest today at the Bloggers Bash in 2017 and discovered a delightfully charming person and also had the privilege of meeting her husband. Noelle Granger is the author of the Rhe Brewster crime thriller series and has recently published Death in a Mudflat

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/19/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-sunday-interview-getting-to-know-you-with-author-n-a-granger/

Smorgasbord Health Column

Nutrients the body needs to be healthy – Zinc

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/smorgasbord-health-column-nutrients-the-body-needs-zinc-the-immune-system-acne-infertility-prostate/

The blood – oxygen distribution and waste disposal.

red blood cells

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/smorgasbord-health-column-the-blood-oxygen-distribution-waste-disposal-andanaemia/

Personal Stuff…Letters from America – my parent’s visit in November 1985 and our trip to The Alamo in San Antonio and the deep and amazing Natural Bridge Caverns.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/letters-from-america-1985-1987-my-parents-visit-the-alamo-and-natural-bridge-caverns/

What’s in a Name? – Short Stories

Celia – A Crisis of Faith

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/18/smorgasbord-short-stories-whats-in-a-name-celia-a-crisis-of-faith/

Clive – The Debt

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/19/smorgasbord-short-stories-whats-in-a-nameclive-the-debt-by-sally-cronin/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-a-heaven-for-toasters-sci-fi-romance-crime-by-nicholas-c-rossis/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-in-the-shadow-of-lies-an-oliver-wright-ww-ii-mystery-by-mary-adler/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-sci-fi-andorra-pett-and-the-oort-cloud-cafe-by-richard-dee/

 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-scathed-grafton-county-series-by-sue-coletta/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Reviews.

Pure Trash Bette Stevens

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/13/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-geoff-le-pard-jan-sikes-bette-a-stevens-and-audrey-driscoll/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-olga-nunez-miret-d-g-kaye-and-linda-swain-bethea/

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/13/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-monday-13th-august-2018-sue-vincent-aethelflaed-jennie-fitzkee-millys-legacy-learning-from-dogs-dog-flu-alert/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-tuesday-14th-august-2018-something-to-think-about-with-leslie-tate-jan-sikes-and-beetley-pete/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-wednesday-15th-august-2018-mary-smith-olga-nunez-miret-and-rebecca-bryn/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-thursday-august-16th-2018-lucinda-e-clarke-amy-reade-and-teri-polen-with-mae-clair/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/17/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-friday-17th-august-2018-de-cluttering-antisocial-media-and-aretha-franklin/

Humour and Afternoon Video

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-naval-intelligence-and-tell-it-to-the-marines/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-truisms-and-lifes-little-wrinkles/

Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Clive – The Debt by Sally Cronin


I continue with the stories from my collection What’s in a Name?

What's in a Name? new cover

Clive – The Debt

The boy stirred in his cot and waved his chubby fist in the air. The mid-afternoon sun was barred from his room by the rattan blinds at the window. The slowly moving blades of the fan above his cot sent a welcome and cooling breeze across his hot skin. The rest of the house was quiet, except for the gentle snoring of his amah as she dozed fitfully on the pallet on the other side of the room.

The boy was called Clive and was the fourth child and first son of a naval officer and his wife who were stationed here in Trincomalee. He was three years old and his curly blonde hair now lay slick against his scalp as he recovered from the fever. It had been a worrying few days with the doctor calling in every few hours to check on his condition. The household, including his three older sisters and his parents, were exhausted having had little sleep for the last few nights.

Measles in this climate could be very dangerous for a child Clive’s age and he had been restricted to his cot in the darkened room to prevent the risk of blindness. Thankfully his fever had now broken, and the family having enjoyed their Sunday curry lunch, had retired to their bedrooms to sleep the afternoon away beneath their ceiling fans.

Clive had been woken every hour or so to sip his favourite fruit juice and water from his beaker and the doctor was now happy he was past his crisis. But, the child was now hungry and the lingering smell of the chicken curry that the family had consumed at lunchtime drifted into the room.

Relieved that her charge was out of danger but extremely tired, his devoted amah had failed to latch the side of Clive’s cot securely. Seeing that there was a means of escape; he lifted his body up into a sitting position and swung his bare legs over the side of the mattress. It was easy enough to slide down onto the stone floor with its fibre matting where he held onto the side of the cot for a few minutes; his legs wobbling beneath him. But he was a strong little boy who spent hours on his tricycle and swam most days and this was evident in his recovery from this recent illness. Of course his growing hunger was a great motivator.

Carefully he moved across the matting intent on seeing if his friend the family cook had a special plate of his favourite mild curry and banana. He moved into the hall but was disappointed that the door to the kitchen was firmly closed and the handle was out of reach of his eager fingers.

The door to the long veranda however was much easier to open and Clive pushed his way through into the stifling heat and the raucous sound of the monkeys in the trees in the garden. He loved the little macaques and often sat on the veranda in the cooler mornings and watched them play fight over the ripened fruit. He drifted across the wooden floor and down the two steps onto the dusty path. He was now in uncharted territory.

There were many dangers for humans in these luscious surroundings. Clive was accompanied everywhere by his amah or his sisters when out of sight of his protective mother. Several times he had been scooped up and rushed indoors accompanied by shrieks and calls for the houseboy to bring a stick.

Cobras were common; as were the larger less playful monkeys that could be as big as dog. The first lesson that Clive had received after he had taken his first steps, was not to touch anything with fur, as rabies ravaged both the wild creatures and domesticated dogs.
With the fearlessness of a three year old, he toddled down the dry dusty path until he reached a line of ants that were busy carrying leaves several times the size of their bodies across the dry earth. Fascinated Clive sat down on the ground and followed their progress with one little plump finger.

Eyes were watching him from various vantage points in the overgrown garden. The small macaques ceased their play fights and spotted that the door to the house had been left ajar. This was as good as an invitation and a dozen of the petty thieves scampered down their favourite tree and darted along the edge of the dry lawn and through the bushes beneath the veranda. In seconds they were through the open door looking for food and mischief.

In the branches of a tall evergreen, a large male langur watched his smaller cousins disappear and waited to see if they would emerge with anything worth stealing from them. He had more sense than to risk the wrath of a house boy armed with a broom. Then something else caught his eye in the bushes to the side of the lawn. He stared for several moments trying to find the cause of his disquiet. His attention was then drawn to the chortling of the child as he played in the dry dust with the ants.

Something was wrong and the langur’s instincts caused him to move cautiously to the end of the branch that stretched out over the lawn. There was the movement again and this time he saw the hooded head standing tall surrounded by the red blossoms of the rose bush. Slowly the cobra slithered from its hiding place and moved gracefully across the bleached grass towards the oblivious child.

Clive became bored with watching the ants and his hunger reminded him that the cook might be in the kitchen. If so, then his favourite sweet treats that were slipped to him occasionally behind his mother’s back, might be on offer. Placing his hands firmly in front of him he pushed his bottom into the air and then stood unsteadily for a moment. A movement in the corner of his eye made him turn his head and he found himself just feet away from the swaying hood of the cobra. Without someone to sweep him up into safe arms and rush him inside the house he was minutes away from certain death.

In those precious seconds as the boy and snake stared at each other there was a sudden and violent interruption. The large langur launched himself from the branch of the tree landing a few feet from them. Without a moment’s hesitation the monkey raced across and grabbed the tail end of the cobra. With one sweep of his powerful arm he swung the snake around towards the bushes several feet away and let it go.
For one moment the child and the monkey looked into each other’s eyes and Clive raised his hand as if he understood that his saviour meant him no harm.

At that moment shrieks and angry shouts erupted from the open door to the house and the troop of macaques raced out with their trophies of chapatti and trifle filling their hands. Behind them with an agility that belied his age was the irate cook wielding a large kitchen knife. Under cover of the confusion the langur headed rapidly to his tree to resume his watch.

The cook seeing Clive still standing on the path called out for his amah to come quickly and within moments the child was safe in loving arms and being hugged and kissed.
Soon the whole family congregated on the veranda and reviewed the damages to house and the theft of the left overs with a welcome pot of tea. None the wiser about their youngest child’s close encounter with nature, they watched as Clive ate a bowl of home-made ice-cream.

Present Day.

The tall silver haired man drove up and parked at the back of the large manufacturing plant. He got out and opened the back of the van and approached the double steel doors and rang the bell to the side of them. A disjointed voice requested his name and after a moment the buzzer indicated that the door was open.

Inside in the dim cool the man walked up to a reception desk and was taken through to a holding area where six large wooden crates were waiting. Having lifted the lids of the boxes and checked contents, the man signed numerous pieces of paper. Two burly porters helped carry the crates out to the van where they were carefully placed and secured for the journey.

Four hours later the van arrived at a location deep in the countryside and having called ahead, several people stood clustered around the large open gates. Clive sighed with relief and drove through and backed the van close into a large wooden building.

The contents of the van were unloaded and the crates carefully carried inside. The markings were clear in the dim light from the outside lights at the entrance.

Contrux Pharmaceuticals.

Clive and his team gently lifted the sleeping occupants of the crates out and placed them in individual stalls lined with straw and soft bedding. They would be carefully watched by them in turns for the next few days around the clock. They would be fed and given water as well as checked out by the resident vet. It would take weeks, if not months, to rehabilitate these primates who had been born within a laboratory environment. However, with love and care; one day they would be enjoying their new and natural habitat.

As Clive laid the final animal in its bed of straw the chimpanzee stirred and for a moment he and the man looked into each other’s eyes. A flash of understanding passed between them and slowly the monkey’s eyelids closed as he was laid gently onto a welcoming blanket.

A child and his destiny had now come full circle and his debt would continue to be repaid as long as he lived.

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

You can find details of all my books in this directory:https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Author N. A. Granger


I had the pleasure of meeting my guest today at the Bloggers Bash in 2017 and discovered a delightfully charming person and also had the privilege of meeting her husband. Noelle Granger is the author of the Rhe Brewster crime thriller series and has recently published Death in a Mudflat

Before we discover more about my guest, here is the official word about Noelle Granger.

Noelle A. Granger grew up in Plymouth, MA, in a rambling, 125 year old house with a view of the sea. Summers were spent sailing and swimming and she was one of the first tour guides at Plimoth Plantation.

She graduated from Mount Holyoke college with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and from Case Western Reserve University with a Ph.D. in anatomy. Following a career of research in developmental biology and teaching human anatomy to medical students and residents,the last 28 years of which were spent in the medical school of the University of North Carolina, she decided to try her hand at writing fiction.

Apart from the three Rhe Brewster Mysteries, Noelle has also had short stories, both fiction and non-fiction,published in Deep South Magazine, Sea Level Magazine, the Bella Online Literary Review, and Coastal Style Magazine.

Now time to discover some of the lesser known facts about Noelle…

Describe one most embarrassing moment of your life. (This is a story from my blog.)

My mother, in addition to being just plain smart about lots of things, including how to handle my Dad’s whims, was also very handy. She had painted all the rooms in the house, replaced panes of glass, and could do a rewiring job if necessary. She could hook rugs and was also a darned good cook. The one thing she had never mastered was sewing. My grandmother, whom we called Memmere, was a whiz with the needle and had made her grandchildren’s clothes for years, but this was something Mom had avoided.

One summer, she decided to make me a bathing suit. A bathing suit seemed like an easy place to start. It was a cotton knit affair, which she made because I’d grown up and out so quickly in the past year that my old suits had become dangerously revealing. What Mom didn’t recognize is that with the development of breasts, I’d become hideously self-conscious.

One of the things I did very well at the pool where I swam was swim fast, really fast. Technique was not my forte yet, but I was taller and stronger than my teammates, and I could power my way to the end of the pool quicker than anyone in my age group. The bathing suit was a lovely color blue, and I decided to wear it at a swim meeting, the day after it was completed. A lot of the girls were wearing two piece suits and I wanted to be fashionable as well as fast.

I lined up as always at the deep end of the pool for the start of the freestyle race, proudly sporting the newly constructed bathing suit. It occurred to me, rather belatedly, that unlike my old suits, this one had not been tested for its swim-worthiness, let alone its ability to stay in place during a racing dive.

At the sound of the gun, I hit the water in a flat, extended position and began to swim mightily, pulling out to an easy lead by half the length of the pool. Unfortunately, I discovered at that half the length, I had nothing around my chest. The ties to the bra of the suit had pulled out, and the top of the suit was now wrapped around my waist. I continued swimming for a few strokes, then stopped and pulled up my top, while spectators looked on. Instant, grinding mortification. I don’t remember how I managed to get to out of the pool, but it was certainly without even a modicum of dignity.

I never wore that bathing suit again, and my mother never asked why. As I grew older and swam more seriously, the focus of what I wore became just as serious and I never, ever wore a new suit for a race, not once.

Sally here: I found this advertisement for knitted bathing costumes and whilst very fetching, I would not trust one in the water either….They are well before Noelle’s time, they do illustrate the many styles available and were clearly very expensive for the time. The Lamb Knit Goods Company also were known for the Lamb Knitting Machine.

Image https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/

How would you describe your fashion sense?

Fashion SENSE? I’m pretty sure I don’t have any. I wear whatever is comfortable and hopefully ironed, usually pants with an elastic waist (well, I am of any age) and a blouse, long sleeve in the winter and short in the summer. No shorts – have you seen my legs? They’d make grown men groan. Better hidden. I think I wore a skirt once last year, but I’m not sure…

Sally here: Noelle and her husband recently circumnavigated Iceland and she shared some amazing posts on the trip.. I lifted one of the photographs from the series to illustrate that there are times when Noelle does embrace a different mode of dress in a good cause.

No prize, but can anyone pick Noelle out from the crowd?

 

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Ah, no question there: Christmas. After all, I was named Noelle because my Dad had a twinkle in his eye at Christmas! Christmas was always a big deal for my family, since we loaded up the car with presents and drove three hours to my grandparents’ home in Connecticut. We usually sang Christmas carols all the way there, and generally got into the feeling of the season. My favorite memory is the trip where we returned home from celebrating Christmas in the middle of a snowstorm, and our car got stuck on a street about a mile from our house at 9 PM. It was a truly awesome storm, and my brother was so little that we didn’t dare try to walk home in the dark. We knocked on the door of a nearby house and were welcomed to spend the night. Small towns, good neighbors.

My Dad walked home in the morning to get the heat on in the house, but the roads were blocked with several feet of snow, so we had to walk home. The neighbor who took us in, a woman, was a physicist who worked on the Manhatten Project!

Sally here: It may be a little early, but in honour of Noelle’s love of the festive season.. here is the iconic White Christmas courtesy of andrew67ist

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains and why?

That’s a difficult one to answer, since here in North Carolina we have a choice between the Smokey Mountains or the Crystal Coast. The mountains are spectacular in the fall, but all around, I think I prefer the beach. I grew up on the ocean, both in it and on it. The windows of my house faced out to the Atlantic and I often fell asleep to the mournful sound of the fog horn at Gurnet Lighthouse.

Gurnet point, a twenty-seven-acre peninsula forming the northern boundary of Plymouth Bay, was discovered by Samuel de Champlain in 1606 and it became part of Plymouth in 1638. The lighthouse was home to America’s first set of twin lights and first female lighthouse keeper, and is now the country’s oldest freestanding wooden lighthouse.

Sally here: I found this video showing the magnificent views from the lighthouse which give you an idea why Noelle loves this area so much courtesy of DeepSixDave

Fog horn aside, the beach has always been a place of peace and tranquility for me, even when the weather is turbulent. The waves in all their forms – wildly spewing mist or gently lapping – give me a feeling of eternal nature, and I love falling asleep to their sound. A friend of mine took a video for me of the waves at the beach at Rodanthe and I often play it to relax and unwind.

The first time I ever travelled to a landlocked part of the country (other than my grandparents’) was a visit to my college roommate’s home in Pennsylvania. She recently told me she remembers when I got up on the first day there, I asked her to point me in the direction of the ocean!

What is one thing (moral or practical) your grandparent taught you how to do that you still do today?

My grandmother, Memmere, lived to be 103. We talked on the phone every week, especially after she went to a nursing home. When my own children were driving me crazy, she would always tell me, “The only thing you need to do is love them. No matter what. Everything else will work out.” Wise woman.

Now something about Noelle’s books and her latest release is a Rhe Brewster Mystery, Death in a Mudflat.

About the book

Fearless detective, ER nurse, devoted mother, and Pequod, Maine’s, answer to Kinsey Milhone, Rhe Brewster is back on the case. When an idyllic seaside wedding is suddenly interrupted by the grotesque sight of a decaying human arm poking out of the tidal mud, Rhe is thrown head first into a treacherous world of duplicity, drugs, and murder.

With her best friend Paulette and her main man Sam, the Chief of Police, Rhe seeks to solve the puzzle of the body found in the muck while also working with the FBI to identify the source of shipments of tainted heroin flooding the local campus and community. Maine’s opioid crisis has hit the town hard, with an escalating number of overdoses. More murders are uncovered, testing Rhe’s detective skills and steely resolve. While she follows the clues, Rhe encounters some sinister inhabitants of Pequod’s underbelly, including a practitioner of the Dark Arts, a hydra-headed crime gang, and an embittered, unhinged lobsterman with an axe to grind and nothing to lose. In her relentless drive to solve the crimes, Rhe narrowly escapes a watery grave, trades blows with Russian goons, and unknowingly prompts Paulette to put her life on the line in an attempt to catch a murderer in the act.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads.

Jul 28, 2018 Breakaway Reviewers rated it it was amazing  · 

A good crime novel interspersed with lots of everyday life asides.

Rhe Brewster, her partner, Sam Brewster, the Chief of Police of Pequod, and Jack, Rhe’s son with Will Brewster (deceased), are attending the wedding of Dr Marsh Adams (pathologist) and Bella Zdundic (a Maine Major Crimes agent). Their enjoyment of the reception is interrupted while watching a Jeep Wrangler drive onto the mud flats and immediately get sucked in. They are commenting on whether the driver is illiterate, having not read the signs warning people not to enter the area with a vehicle when suddenly they see the man react in shock as the churning of his wheels has exposed a body of a young woman.

As most of the guests attending the wedding are members of either the police or forensics, they leave their hosts, don their protective clothing and gather on the beach to inspect the body.

This is not the only murder that the team will have to solve, Paulette McGillivray, Rhe’s best friend, is a member of a club called The Cold Case Club, studying cold cases and they think that this latest murder is linked to two similar deaths that occurred years previously.

They not only have this murder to solve, but they also need to find where drugs are coming from that are causing so many deaths on the campus of the college in Pequod. The FBI has put an agent undercover, but this may not be enough to identify who the drug suppliers are.

A fast-moving storyline with lots of twists before the murderer of the young girl is uncovered. Far more cunning is required from everyone involved to crack the drugs epidemic. However, with Rhe Brewster and her best friend Paulette involved, you just know that there will be fireworks before the crime can be solved.

I so enjoyed reading this book. It’s not the first in the series, and while I regret not having read the previous books, N A Granger has made it easy for readers to pick this up as a stand-alone because she’s added a list of the main protagonists and a bit of their history.

The author writes in an easy-to-read style, with lots of humour. I’ll certainly be looking out for any further books featuring this very close-knit group of crime fighters.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D8MM4VS/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Mudflat-Brewster-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07D8MM4VS

Also by N.A. Granger

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Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/N.A.-Granger/e/B00DN6I8GQ

And read more reviews and follow Noelle on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7150751.N_A_Granger#

Connect to Noelle

Blog: https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nagranger/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rhebrewster

Thank you for joining us today and I know Noelle would love to hear from you and answer any questions you might have. Thanks Sally.

I will be keeping the Getting to Know you theme until the end of the year and I am now booking slots for Sunday 23rd September onwards. This is an opportunity to showcase your work and particularly if you have a new release coming out this year or wish to promote your blog. Take a look at the following post which gives you all the details of how to participate and the previous guests. Look forward to hearing from you.

Getting to Know You Sunday Interview: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/getting-to-know-you-sunday-interview-2018/

Marge Tipton — Characters from Atonement, TN (& a Cover Reveal)


Today Teagan Geneviene shares some background to a minor character in her novel Atonement, Tennessee Marje Tipton, who is due to have more prominent role in the sequel, Atonement in Bloom.. Sounds like my kinda Gal.. loves Westerns and dresses the part.. Also a surprise in the form of a cover reveal for a second book to be released at the same time The Glowing Pigs… snort stories… great cover as you will discover when you head over to meet Marje. #recommended

Teagan's Books

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Marge at LOLAsMarge Tipton at L.O.L.A. Lola’s

Welcome everyone.  You’ve entered my sanctuary.  Today we’re visiting Atonement, Tennessee.  I know it can be hard to find your way around in a fictional town.  So, let’s have lunch at the local diner, L.O.L.A. Lola’s.  I want you to meet the owner, Marge Tipton. 

Marge’s part in Atonement, Tennessee is quite small, but she comes back for book-2 with a somewhat bigger role.  I thought it would be fun for you to meet some of the residents of the quirky town.

Actually, I wrote this vignette a few years ago.  So while I try to finish the edits to Atonement in Bloom (I know you must be as tired of hearing me say that as I am of saying it but…) I’m giving you a rerun.  I hope you don’t mind.  This little slice of life was done in my “three…

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My Amazing Daughter


Darlene Foster is justifiably proud of her artistic daughter whose work has been recently featured in prestigious art magazine in the UK… love the pottery and I can see why Darlene is so proud.

Darlene Foster's Blog

I have mentioned my talented potter daughter previously. I am so proud of her as she continues to grow and create fabulous art. Recently she has been featured in a glossy magazine from the UK called Art Reveal 

In the article she states, I’m privileged to participate in the cycle of handmade artifacts.

Here is the link to the complete article.

https://issuu.com/artrevealmagazine/docs/39/42

If you get a chance to read it, you will see she is not only a talented artist, she is also very articulate.

Following are a few of her recent pieces.

2016_12_02_001_2016_12_01_004.w1200h675 Susa, wood-fired stoneware

ocean_momma_madmudslinger.w1200h675 Ocean Momma

negative_space_urn.w1200h675 Amphora

shake_basket.w1200h675 Raku Shake Basket

rhythm_of_the_dance_madmudslinger.w1200h675 Rhythm of the Dance

To see more of her work, check out her website. https://madmudslinger.com/

She will ship anywhere in the world!!

To see your children doing what they love and doing it well is the best reward for a parent. I couldn’t be more proud.

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Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name – Celia – A Crisis of Faith


In the Cafe and Bookstore summer sale, I gave away several copies of my short story collection free… as an indie author, and not tied to Kindle publishing, I can share my stories freely here on the blog.. Over the last few months I have been working my way through my books, and now I would like to share the 16 stories in this first volume of What’s in a Name.

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.

Celia – A Crisis of Faith

Celia sat on the edge of the wooden chair and looked around the sparse room. The bare white walls were cold and seemed to be closing in on her as if in reprimand for her decision. This room was not the only chilly environment that she had been subjected to for the last months, as news of her defection was whispered amongst those at a senior level.

She had been told to wait here over an hour ago. Her uncertainty about the future was now solidified into an icy premonition that she had made a huge mistake. This had been her life’s work, her mission and her passion. At one time she would have walked across burning coals so strong was her belief, that the life she had chosen was perfect for her. For almost all of the last twenty years she had been an exemplary example of devotion to her vocation.

She had been named after her grandmother’s much loved older sister. Great aunt Celia had entered this very order at fourteen years old and had died sixty years later as the Mother Superior of the convent. The younger members of the family had never been privileged to meet her. However, her grandmother spent many hours with Celia, talking about how proud the family had been of the devoutness of this legendary figure. Even as a child Celia had felt the weight of obligation and the need to honour the previous owner of her name.

Once in her teens and slightly at odds with the changing world around her; it became apparent to the devout Celia that she was destined to follow in the footsteps of her great aunt. At age eighteen she had entered the convent and had never stepped outside of its high stone walls since that day.

Through the years as a novitiate and then following her final vows, she had embraced the life completely. The order rose each day at 5.00 am and spent the day in prayer and working within the convent and its gardens. When Celia retired each night to her small and austere room, she would remember her family in her prayers, even as their faces began to fade.

She couldn’t identify the moment with any certainty, when doubts about her life resulted in sleepless nights, and loss of concentration during prayers. She found herself experiencing flashbacks to a time when her days seemed filled with laughter and light. Though frivolous, she also remembered teenage years and dancing with her sister to the latest hit record, as a brightly coloured skirt whirled around her knees.

She had tried to put these forbidden thoughts aside, but she no longer felt peaceful or joyous, as she dressed in her habit each morning in the cold dark of winter. She certainly no longer had the lightness of heart of the early years here in the convent. Like cracks in the dry earth these doubts had grown and spread through her being; until she could no longer be silent.

What she did feel was a huge sense of guilt. The thought of the shame that she was bringing on the name of her great aunt, who obviously had been far more steadfast in her devotion, consumed her. Her spiritual family here in the order would also be confused and hurt by her betrayal. She could only imagine how much her parents would be disappointed, and she dreaded the thought of facing them.

Across the room on a narrow iron bed, stacked in a neat pile, were the garments that she had worn daily for the last twenty years. As she looked at the folded robes and undergarments, she reflected on how little there was to show for all her time in the convent. She felt very strange in her new clothes that had been sourced from a store cupboard in the depths of the old building. Just for a moment she missed the all-encompassing safety of her former attire. She raised a hand to her short hair that felt coarse to her touch. It had been so long since it had been uncovered in public and its blunt cut and greying red hairs make her feel even more self-conscious.

The door opened and the Mother Superior stood in the doorway. She stepped back and beckoned Celia towards her, and watched as she bent to pick up the old brown suitcase by her side, that held another set of equally dated clothes.

‘Come along now,’ she ordered crisply. ‘Everyone is in chapel and you need to leave immediately.’

Celia brushed past the nun’s voluminous black habit and the firmly clasped hands across her ample middle. There was no softness to be found there or comfort. Celia faltered for a moment and saw a slight shift in the older woman’s stern features.

Closing her eyes she steadied herself against the door jam and then put one foot in front of the other. She clasped the handle of the suitcase tightly; in need of its rough texture against her palm to strengthen her resolve. In her other hand she gripped the white envelope which contained her official papers and a few notes to pay for her travel.

In silence the two women proceeded down the dark corridor and into the hall of the convent. One of the other senior sisters stood by the large oak front door and seeing them approach, opened it to the front garden. Celia paused for a moment on the doorstep and turned for one last look behind her. Her biggest regret was not being able to tell her fellow sisters about her decision, or to say goodbye. She loved them all dearly and tears filled her eyes as she contemplated the future without their warmth and support.

The two nuns stiffened postures softened for a moment; as they remembered times when their own faith had perhaps wavered momentarily. However, the rules were clear and gently the Mother Superior placed her hand on the small of Celia’s back, and pushed her clear of the door. She then stepped back into the hall and there was a resounding click as the way back was firmly barred.

The sun was shining and for a moment Celia turned her face to the blue sky and warmth. She had been Sister Monica Grace for so long that even thinking about her given name confused her. Hands trembling as the fear continued its grip; she tried to move a foot down onto the first of the concrete steps leading to the garden. It was a long walk to the gate that separated the world from this enclosed order, and she saw another sister waiting patiently to unlock and open it for her departure.

Gingerly she took her first step and then another and she managed to navigate the path to the walls behind which lay the outside world. Silently the nun used the long metal key and pulled back half of the tall wooden gate. Celia was too ashamed to look her in the eyes and slipped through the opening and onto the busy pavement.

Shockingly she was suddenly in a world that was noisy and filled with vehicles that looked alien. Pedestrians hurried along the narrow pathway and seemed oblivious to her standing in the middle of them. Especially those who were talking to themselves with some form of device held up to their ears.

Then she noticed a car parked at the kerb and a man waving his hand to urge her forward. She saw that the vehicle had the word taxi in big letters on the side and shakily moved towards this life saver in the chaos. The driver took her suitcase from her and opened the back door. He smiled reassuringly and informed her that his cab had been booked to take her to the train station. Closing the back door firmly he took his place behind the wheel. As the car pulled away from the side of the road Celia took one last look at the high stone walls of her home for so many years.

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The driver navigated through the heavy traffic whilst his passenger gazed around her in bewildered confusion. So many cars and people and a blur of colour as shops and restaurants flashed by the windows.

Within minutes however they arrived at the station and she was shocked to see Margaret waiting for her on the kerb. How was this possible? She had not taken advantage of the offer to make a phone call to her family, in her certainty that they would not be accepting of her decision. The driver came around to her side of the taxi and held the door open with the battered suitcase in his hand. As her sister rushed forward, Celia grasped the top of the window and pulled herself out onto the pavement. Without any hesitation her sister leant forward and throwing strong arms around her shaking body, held Celia tightly.

The two women stood back after a few moments, and holding hands, looked at each other in wonderment. Celia reached out a palm and laid it on her sister’s soft cheek. It was like looking at a mirror image; but one that was brighter and lighter than her own. Soft curly red hair with just a few strands of grey shone in the sunlight and the green eyes with traces of tears sparkled back at her.

‘How did you know where I would be?’ she stroked her sister’s arm.

‘Mother Superior called me a week ago and told me that you were not going to call us,’ Margaret paused. ‘How could you think that we would not want you to come home Cel.’

Celia subconsciously moved her fingers through her hair and Margaret laughed and
hugged her close.

‘First stop the hairdresser sis when we get home.’ she stood back and looked at Celia’s old fashioned tweed suit. ‘And we need to get you a new wardrobe.’

She gently released her sister’s fingers from her hand and picked up the suitcase lying abandoned at their feet.

‘I have missed you so much Cel. Only once a year for twenty years is torture.’ With that she placed her arm around her waist and they moved off into the station.

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The train flashed through the countryside at terrifying speed but as the two sisters sat side by side the ice cold fear in Celia’s chest began to thaw.

She let her twin rattle on brightly about her house, her husband Robbie, the two boys Andrew and Patrick who Celia had never met. Margaret had also brought a large envelope of photographs of all the family, including her parents, surrounded by grandchildren and pets in their back garden. Celia touched her sister gently on the arm to pause the exuberant flow of words.

‘Do they understand Mags?’ she bit her lower lip.

‘They love you Cel and have your old room ready and waiting,’ Margaret leant over to kiss Celia’s cheek. ‘They have missed you so much and whilst they respected your decision to enter into the convent, they never really forgave grandmother for encouraging you.’

Celia didn’t take her eyes off the face so like hers as she continued to relate the events of the last twenty years, embellishing the stories in a way that she had almost forgotten. She felt bathed in the warmth of the outpouring as she watched her sister’s lips moving, entranced by the unfamiliar sound of a voice talking rather than praying.

For the last few miles of the journey they sat in silence basking in the sunshine that shone through the carriage window. They held hands as they had so many times as children; a closeness that only twins share. Celia had sat in silence when at prayer thousands of times in the last twenty years, but she finally realised that the missing element had always been this closeness. The simple joy of being with each other. Knowing that there is love and an unbreakable bond between you.

She had no regrets about her life and her chosen path but she also now understood, that when joy has left and cannot be recaptured, you needed to let go and move forward in a new direction.

She also pondered the unexpected kindness shown by Mother Superior in notifying her family. She had been so terrified of taking this step that she had forgotten the compassion that her religious sisters offered to each other as part of any close knit family.

The train entered the station and the two sisters walked arm in arm along the platform until they were swallowed up and smothered by kiss and tear filled embraces from the welcoming committee.

©Sally Cronin 2015

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

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