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 Afternoon Video – D.G. Kaye find another Gem – Parrot is furious with owner


Debby Gies has been scanning the airwaves for videos to share… here are some more that she has come across.. ..D.G. Kaye Writer Blog is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.  This parrot gives his owner an earful…

D. G. Kaye – Buy: http://www.amazon.com/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO
Blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

Catch up with Debby’s Travel Column here every month: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye/

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

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Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Monday 14th October – Nicholas Rossis #Bookblurb – Charles F. French with Robbie Cheadle #1984 and Susannah Leonard Hill #Halloween Children’s story competition.


This series is an opportunity to showcase posts from around our community and the brilliant bloggers who share with us. It would be amazing if you would follow the links to the post I have highlighted and whilst visiting follow and support the blogger.

The first post today comes from Nicholas Rossis who has a wonderful archive of posts about writing, publishing, blogging and software. Nicholas hosts guest Ashley Halsey, writing about the importance of having an effective blurb for your book.

 

This is a guest post by Ashley Halsey. Ashely is a professional writer at Luckyassignments.com and Gumessays.com and is also involved in several nation-wide projects. A mother of two, she enjoys reading, traveling, and attending business training courses!

Today, she tackles one of the most annoying things about being an author: writing the blurbs to your books! I have shared some nice tips on writing blurbs in the past, but the whole subject still seems to be a nightmare for most authors, so I hope you’ll get inspired by her tips.

Top Tips on Writing a Book Blurb That Really Sells

They say not to judge a book by its cover – but let’s be honest, we all do exactly that. The cover and blurb are crucial in drawing in potential readers, sparking their interest and, in many cases, can be the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity. Bearing this in mind, hook your reader from the start with a blurb that sells!

Head over and read the rest of this post for all authors to ensure that our books stand out from the crowd: https://nicholasrossis.me/2019/10/11/top-tips-on-writing-a-book-blurb-that-really-sells

Nicholas Rossis, Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Nicholas-C.-Rossis/e/B00FXXIBZA
Blog:http://nicholasrossis.me/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7426506.Nicholas_C_Rossis

Please visit Amazon or Nicholas’s website to view all his books.

The next post on from the blog of author Charles F. French, whose guest is a familiar face over here.. Robbie Cheadle, with her debut post for the Underground Library Society dedicated to opposing book censorship and book banning.. Robbie explores the futuristic and frighteningly prophetic 1984 by George Orwell.

Underground Library Society

Thank you to Robbie Cheadle for her post on 1984 by George Orwell. With this entry, Robbie has joined the U. L. s., the Underground Library Society, dedicated to opposing book censorship and book banning. Please visit her blog Robbie’s inspiration .

If a society similar to that depicted in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury were to somehow come into existence and all books were banned, I would want to be part of any group involved in preserving books. If that meant learning a book off by heart, I would be prepared to do that. The big question for me would be what book to choose.

Out of all the wonderful and amazing books out there, my choice is 1984 by George Orwell. My over view of this book and my reasons as to why I believe it is still relevant to us are as follows:

1984 is a dystopian novel that was written years ago to portray a possible future for mankind as envisaged by the author in 1949. Why would anyone want to read this book now? 1984 passed more than thirty years ago so why would this book still be a worthwhile read today? The answer is that the content and ideas presented in this book are still relevant and it portrays a future that is still a possible outcome for humanity if the threats to our existing lifestyles and our planet are not resolved and harsh totalitarian measures need to be introduced as a last desperate measure to save our world. The threat of world destruction using nuclear weapons is much less likely now than in 1949, but modern people merely face new threats and obstacles which are also of our own creation.

Head over to read the rest of this fascinating post by Robbie Cheadle: https://charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/a-new-u-l-s-member-and-a-post-on-1984-by-george-orwell/

About Charles F. French
I am a writer, novelist, and a professor of English Literature. I live in Pennsylvania. I am a devoted lover of nature, including hiking and fishing. I love reading, movies, cooking, and eating. I enjoy comic books and superheros as well as horror novels and movies.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Charles-F-French/e/B01M5BZZ6BGoodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15997896.Charles_F_FrenchBlog: https://charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.wordpress.com

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

Head over to Amazon to find all of Robbie’s books

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And the last post today is news of a Halloween children’s story competition from author Susanna Leonard Hill.

halloweensie-pumpkin

It was a dark and stormy night!

Ghostly shadows lurked among the grave stones…

…and from the mist-shrouded forest a ghastly voice shrieked, “BOO!!!!”

Please ignore the fact that it’s morning and the kitchen smells comfortingly of fresh coffee and toast with strawberry jam and the only sound is your preschooler singing the alphabet song. We’re setting a mood here! 🙂

And I bet you can guess why!

Because it’s time to announce the rules for. . . The 9TH Annual HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST!!!

Head over to get the full submission details: https://susannahill.com/2019/10/10/boo-announcing-the-9th-annual-halloweensie-writing-contest/

About Susannah Leonard Hill

Susanna Leonard Hill grew up in New York City with her mom and dad, one sister and two brothers, and an assortment of cats. She went to the Brearley School for K – 12, then received her B.A. in English and Psychology from Middlebury College. She then went on to get her M.A. and M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology and Special Education of Children With Learning Disabilities from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

She worked for many years teaching dyslexic students, but stopped after her third child was born. Now she spends her time being a mom, writing, teaching writing, and visiting schools whenever she gets the opportunity.

Susannah is the author of twenty children’s books and you can find them all on Amazon.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Susanna-Leonard-Hill/e/B001JS4H3I/Blog: https://susannahill.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanna.hill.7

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to enjoy the posts in full.. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Non-Fiction – Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer by Harmony Kent


Congratulations to Harmony Kent on the publication of Creative Solutions for the  Modern Writer…Inspirational tools to fire your imagination.

About the book

Creative Solutions for the Modern Writer is the perfect gift for the writer in your life.

Do you want to be an author? Are you struggling to find inspiration? Do you ever find it difficult to put words on the page? Or are you simply looking for novel ideas? If so, then this book is for you.

This little guide will help you unlock your story ideas and fire your imagination. The text covers things such as writing from various prompts, to using Chess, Tarot, and even nursing Triage (and much more) for developing your characters, story, and plot.

From the award-winning author of Polish Your Prose: Essential Self-Editing Tips for Authors—an excellent companion text—Creative Solutions focuses on the creative side of writing rather than the technical.

This book gives you the tools you need to make writing fun, as well as tips and techniques on creating characters and stories that will stay with you and your readers forever.

Crammed with easy-to understand examples, this guide is for writers of every genre—both fiction and non-fiction, literary, and commercial. But most of all, it’s about having fun and making friends with your muse.

An early review for the book

While not necessary, you really should read Ms. Kent’s dystopian novel, Fallout first. It’s not required, but it would help you understand when she outlines her method of preparing to write a story. (BTW, I did read and enjoy, ‘Fallout.’)

While I am a 15% planner/85% ‘pantser’ writer, I’ve seen a lot of methods of setting up a novel outline. Ms. Kent gives the reader several different approaches for those who ‘think differently’ than others do. In high school and college, I took several various chemistry courses, but still had a problem understanding the Periodic Table of Elements. In my fifth chemistry course, an instructor said something that opened my eyes, and suddenly the chart made perfect sense.

In a ‘how-to’ book to plan a novel, I never thought I read about ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,’ a month-long topic in one of my psychology courses being used to explain plot development. Interesting concept!

At the end of this story, Ms. Kent lists many useful tools and how to get them. If you are a beginning author, those tools alone are worth the money for the book.

While I’ll never be a ‘planner,’ I will put some of these concepts to use. I’ve always started with a premise, a basic idea of where I was going, and an ending. All I had to do, then was to use my premise and work my way to my conclusion. It’s worked for me. Harmony’s information will influence my next novel. Thank you!

Head over and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07WHJPTFW

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WHJPTFW

A selection of other books by Harmony Kent.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Harmony-Kent/e/B00CO0AR7U

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Harmony-Kent/e/B00CO0AR7U

Read more reviews and follow Harmony on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7086026.Harmony_Kent

About Harmony Kent

After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.

Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours.

Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

Connect to Harmony

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could spread the news about Harmony’s new book.. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update #Reviews – Teagan Riordain Geneviene, Balroop Singh, Bette A. Stevens and Julia Benally


Early reviews are in for Teagan Riordain Geneviene’s and her latest release, A Ghost in the Kitchen – Three Ingredients book 2

About the book

A Ghost in the Kitchen, Three Ingredients-2 continues the flapper adventures of Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip. It’s a 1920s “pantser” story and a culinary mystery. This time Pip’s pal Andy (from The Three Things Serial Story) returns. Granny Phanny is there too. She’s still trying to teach Pip to cook. Granny is in a lather because of the supernatural goings-on in her kitchen. There’s also one pos-i-lutely potent poltergeist! New adventures abound as Pip and Andy unravel an old mystery. It’s all spontaneously driven by “ingredients” sent by readers of the blog, Teagan’s Books. Jump into the jalopy and enjoy the ride. There’s no telling where we’ll go, but it will be the cat’s pajamas!

One of the early reviews for the book

I never cease to be amazed by this author’s ability to create stories from suggested ingredients supplied by her blog readers and fans, as she has also done for the other books in this Roaring Twenties series.

Each chapter states the three ingredients to be used within it (and highlights them in bold when they are mentioned).

Considering that each chapter not only includes these ingredients, but must follow the book storyline, the sheer talent and skill involved is impressive.
I thoroughly enjoyed this latest Pip tale.

Head over and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Kitchen-Three-Ingredients-II-ebook/dp/B07Y2KN1NM

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghost-Kitchen-Three-Ingredients-II-ebook/dp/B07Y2KN1NM/

Also by Teagan Riordain Geneviene

Read the reviews, buy the books : https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM

Read more reviews and follow Teagan on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13707141.Teagan_Geneviene

Connect to Teagan via her blog:  https://teagansbooks.com/

The next review today is for Balroop Singh and her recently released poetry collection Moments We Love

About the collection

Moments of fragrant love that stand frozen in time, of dreams that dare not unfold, of passion that fleets by, of erratic joy that we meet at the crossroads of life, butterflies of time that add color to our dark moments to scare the demons away – I have gathered all of them in this book. Some of them whisper softly to create a magical aura while spring of life sings with them, trying to wipe silent tears. Mother Nature steps in with all her grandeur to breath quiet messages of tranquility.

Each poem would soothe your emotions with élan and add a dash of color to your life. Life – that doesn’t halt for your sad moments; that just floats by. You just need to dive in to soak in myriads of moments to discover how it could ignite positive tones. All the poems in this collection are imaginary but inspired from people around me, some of whom chose to share their frustrations and tremors with me. Sometimes I could read between the lines to pen my thoughts down.

Memories and moments merge here
Today when I return to share
The glow of rainbows
Embers of emotional entreaties
And smoldering debris.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

I loved Balroop Singh’s poetry collection, Moments We Love. The author’s writing covers a range of themes, from hope, to melancholy, beauty, change, and the power of nature. Metonymy is used throughout with an array of symbols reflecting a deeper commentary on this world we inhabit. I am a lover of nature in all its splendour and decay, and was therefore moved by the references to birds, animals, and natural cycles of earth.

One of my favourite poems in the collection is “My Mother”. With powerful lines such as “who could digest rudeness” and “who could rise from the abyss of grief” made me connect with this poet as I too have such a mother, and strive to be such an example of strength and nurturing myself. Regular rhetorical questions left me questioning and turning inward – a perfect technique to make a reader attach personal meaning to the poetry. 5 stars for crafting words that show how well the author has lived.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07W57M462

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07W57M462

Also by Balroop Singh

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Balroop-Singh/e/B00N5QLW8U

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Balroop-Singh/e/B00N5QLW8U

Read more reviews and follow Balroop on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7340810.Balroop_Singh

Connect to Balroop via her blog: http://balroop2013.wordpress.com

The next author with a recent review is Bette A. Stevens for her poetry collection My Maine.

About My Maine

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

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

One of the recent reviews for the book

Cathleen Townsend 5.0 out of 5 stars A quality read September 30, 2019

Bette A. Sevens is a real Renaissance woman when it comes to writing–she does it all. Children’s fiction and nonfiction with her charming story of Matilda the Monarch butterfly as well as her Tanagram puzzle book, historical fiction with Pure Trash and Dog Bone Soup, and now she’s turned her attention to further developing her skills in the demanding area of poetry.

Every word always counts, no matter the genre, but it seems that in poetry each one needs to work extra hard. Ms. Stevens has chosen the haiku form to paint her ephemeral pictures of mood and fleeting imagery, and she has clearly practiced her craft to come up with these gems. And even though I’ve never been to Maine, I feel I’ve been privileged to see it through Bette’s eyes. She obviously loves her home in a profound way.

My favorite haiku in the collection is titled simply “Autumn Leaves,” and it contains this exquisite passage:

“Radiant rustling leaves
Sketched among the trees
Foretell the story

Splashed across woodlands
Blazing brush transforms the world
Into a canvas”

This is a quality read, one where you’ll wish to savor every word.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07SSNDL5L

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Maine-Haiku-through-Seasons-ebook/dp/B07SSNDL5L

Also by Bette A. Stevens

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Bette-A.-Stevens/e/B009GOYT1M

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bette-A.-Stevens/e/B009GOYT1M

Read more reviews and follow Bette on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6037707.Bette_A_Stevens

Connect to Bette A. Stevens via her blog:  https://4writersandreaders.com

The final author with a recent review is Julia Benally for Pariahs (Ilinga Book I)

About Pariahs (Ilings Book 1)

In a land of monsters and soulless creatures, there is a secluded compound terrorized by a fallen demon-killer, the Grand Apwor. He’s claimed its youngest occupant Vijeren as his son. The Grand Apwor can’t be killed, he can’t be escaped, and his punishments are severe and horrific. Somehow, he knows where Vijeren is at all times. When a law enforcer named Zhin appears like a living flame, a family war that’s been sizzling for decades finally ignites. It drags Vijeren in, revealing secrets of a long-forgotten past and a family torn asunder in recesses of lost memories. Only Zhin knows how to kill the Grand Apwor, but the answer rests on the love between a father and son–something that Vijeren doesn’t have…

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Aug 27, 2019 Kathryn Blade rated it Four Stars

Julia Benally’s Pariahs is a neatly crafted fantasy that exhibits an inherent skill with world building and character creation. It snatched me up the second I started reading. I give the book four out of five stars.

The story details a family war ignited when a law enforcer named Zhin appears on the horizon after Vijeren is claimed by a demon-killer as its son. The adventures in Pariahs are richly detailed. I fell in love with the characters within the first few chapters. The interactions and adventures of the youngsters was reminiscent of some of the adolescent adventures in Stand By Me. The fight scenes are detailed and action packed. New creatures are richly detailed and are an exciting part of this world.

This isn’t a casual read. It takes some concentration on the part of the reader to stay with the story. If you’re able to do this, however, it is well worth the effort invested in the story.

As usual, I won’t reveal spoilers. If you’re a fan of fantasy novels, consider giving Pariahs a read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JNCYY1W

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pariahs-Ilings-Book-Julia-Benally-ebook/dp/B07JNCYY1W

Julia is also a contributor to a number of anthologies.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Benally/e/B017C8WCJO

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Julia-Benally/e/B017C8WCJO

Read the reviews and follow Julia on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/similar/6950221.Julia_Benally

Connect to Julia via her blog: https://sparrowincarnate.blogspot.com/

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

The Delta Pearl, 10 — Cover


Time to catch up with the crew and passengers of the Delta Pearl and there is a bit of a tiss going on with the need to secure certain items of the ships treasures before crossing the border into another State. Apparently the Delta Pearl can be a little unpredictable. Whilst in the process, certain passengers are off their leash and misbehaving and some things are going on behind close doors that are about to be exposed.. better head over to find out what.

Teagan's Books

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Photo by Dan AntionOriginal Photo by Dan Antion

The steampunk riverboat is here.  Hello, my chuckaboos!  Thanks for coming back to the The Delta Pearl. It’s been a busy week. Are you ready to sink into the soft cushions of imagination and let the river gently take you to extraordinary places?

This week’s random reader things

This steampunk riverboat runs on random “things” from readers. Resa McConaghy provided Tempest Prognosticator.  (What’s that and how does it work? Click to find out.) Across the miles in Ireland, Inese sent Mahogany.  She doesn’t have a blog, but Ginger still gave us a thing from Murphy’s LawWhalebone Corset.

Thanks to Dan Antion  for letting me use some of his photos.   Any of you #steampunk fans who like real life trains will enjoy his latest Thursday Doors post.  Be sure to visit Dan at

View original post 1,807 more words

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – The Bahamas, Chocolate, Flash Dance, Guests and Laughter.


Welcome to the weekly round up of posts that you might have missed here on Smorgasbord.

There are a few things going on around this neck of the woods in the coming weeks, including a bit of break from routine for me as I head off to dog and house sit for my sister whilst she takes on the Bay of Biscay in November on a cruise!

I will make sure the regulars are posted and there is plenty to read on the days that I am traveling. I intend to do some work on writing projects when I am away, but the good news is that the current WIP is now moving into the formatting phase and I hope to have it available by early December. It is a bit of a departure from my usual short story collections as I also include verse and flash fiction. I will let you know more about it nearer the time.

This year’s Christmas promotion

I am also plotting this year’s Christmas book promotions and I will be sharing a post in the next week or so about the International Christmas Book Fair which will including some guest posts on writing from some of the authors in the Cafe and Bookstore, offering additional separate promotional opportunities.

In the bookstore there are authors from all around the world and I want to make sure that every author is promoted. You won’t need to do a thing.. although it would be great if you would share the posts. Look out for news of this promotional feature in the last week of October with a start date of mid-November.

My thanks as always to the wonderful regular contributors and guest writers who share their work with us here. And also to you for your constant support for the blog.

Time to get on with this week’s posts….

The Travel Column this month with D.G. Kaye, is in response to the tourist board of the Bahamas request for visitors to resume their holidays on the Islands, recently devastated by the recent hurricane. Tourism is the main source of income for the Islands and without it reconstruction will be severely hampered.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye-the-bahamas-up-and-running-and-waiting-for-tourists/

We are coming to the end of the re-run of Jessica Norrie’s Literary Column from last year, with one more to come at the end of November with some great gift recommendations.. In the meantime, Jessica who was reaching a milestone birthday at the end of last year, shared books that were released in the year of her birth.. It is an interesting exercise to check which bestsellers were released at the same time as you were! The link is in the post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/10/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-the-literary-column-with-jessica-norrie-what-bestsellers-were-released-in-the-year-of-your-birth/

Robbie Cheadle rounds off her popular series on the York Chocolate Story with the conversion of the factory to make munitions and the production of high energy sweets for life rafts.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-robbie-cheadle-the-york-chocolate-series-part-five-chocolate-in-wartime-second-world-war-1939-1945/

This week my guest is Deborah Jay, with an extract from The Prince’s Man – Book One of the the Five Kingdoms Series..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/13/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-sunday-interview-deborah-jay-with-an-exract-from-the-princes-man-book-one-of-the-five-kingdoms-series/

If you are offered the opportunity to do a podcast or radio interview then grab it.. but also do your preparation to make sure you are getting the right message across to encourage readers to buy your book.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/12/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-book-marketing-radio-or-podcast-interviews-grab-the-opportunity-by-sally-cronin/

My book review for Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg. 

I recommend that if you are unfamiliar with why and how the young men and women of our armies are involved in this conflict, that you read Silent Heroes. It is a way to honour their service, that of their canine brothers-in-arms, and the bravery of the Afghanistan population, trying to exist in a country torn apart by devastating conflict.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/12/smorgasbord-book-reviews-afghanistan-servicedogs-silent-heroes-by-patricia-furstenberg/

Chapter Seventeen and the Opening Weekend of Killbilly Hotel has is moments…including a dead body in the lounge!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/12/just-an-odd-job-girl-serialisation-chapter-seventeen-the-opening-weekend-party-by-sally-cronin/

Most guests are appreciative of old world charm.. but others not so much….drastic measures required..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/13/just-an-odd-job-girl-serialisation-chapter-eighteen-some-guests-and-their-foibles-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/smorgasbord-music-column-my-favourite-songs-from-the-movies-flashdance-what-a-feeling/

This week for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 148 Colleen Chesebro has given us the prompt words ‘Empty and Space and I have selected the synonyms ‘Hollow and Distance‘  A butterfly cinquain– Rejection.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/10/smorgasbord-poetry-colleen-chesebros-tuesday-tanka-challenge-rejection-by-sally-cronin/

In Linda Thompson’s third post, she explores the phenomenon that is the mystery of the missing sock.. it is rampant in our household too and I suspect from all the mentions online that it is now an epidemic…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-new-bloggers-on-the-scene-the-case-of-the-missing-sock-humour-on-the-craft-of-writing-by-linda-thompson/

This is the final post of Melanie Stewart who blogs at Leaving the Door Open: A Daughter’s stories about an aging parent. This week When The Money Runs Out

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/09/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-new-bloggers-on-the-scene-melanie-m-stewart-when-the-money-runs-out/

This is the final  post from Peter Mohan who blogs at Cheers, Govanhill as his alter ego .. Boy David.  Why Govanhill is just like the south of France

a deckchair pictured below the M74 motorway extension in Govanhill

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/11/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newbloggers-why-govanhill-is-just-like-the-south-of-france-cheers-govanhill/

Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the reproductive system. Karen Ingalls is an ovarian cancer survivor and therefore supremely qualified to write this article.. The post carries an important message about understanding how our bodies work and how we should be on the alert for anything that seems out of the ordinary. 

OUTSHINING OVARIAN CANCER  by Karen Ingalls.

photo-on-2-14-16-at-139-pm-crop-u6133https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/smorgasbord-health-column-the-female-reproductive-system-outshining-ovarian-cancer-guest-post-author-karen-ingalls/

The Obesity epidemic – Part Four– Finding a point to intervene in the life cycle – 7 – 14 –  School Lunches This week I am going to cover, what I consider the best time to intervene in the obesity epidemic, to achieve the most effective results.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/09/smorgasbord-health-column-the-obesity-epidemic-part-four-finding-a-point-to-intervene-in-the-life-cycle-7-14-the-brain/

New Books on the Shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-relic-seeker-the-priestess-chronicles-book-2-by-fiona-tarr/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/09/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-fiction-telling-sonny-by-elizabeth-gauffreau/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/10/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-state-of-denial-the-state-trilogy-book-2-by-iain-kelly/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-pre-order-romance-the-gambling-hearts-series-book-three-my-girl-by-jacquie-biggar/

Author Update #Reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-d-g-kaye-shehanne-moore-darlene-foster-and-coraline-grace/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-vashti-quiroz-vega-karen-demers-dowdall-and-judith-barrow/

A chance to showcase some fantastic posts from fellow bloggers.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-tuesday-october-8th-the-story-reading-ape-alison-williams-and-shehanne-moore/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/09/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-wednesday-october-9th-sue-vincent-natalie-ducey-and-john-w-howell/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/10/smorgasbord-blogger-daily-thursday-10th-october-d-g-kaye-interviews-marian-beaman-jane-sturgeon-and-friendship-and-colleen-chesebro-gutenberg/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-comedian-in-residence-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-sallys-archives-11/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/10/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-comedian-in-residence-d-g-kaye-and-a-joke-from-sallys-archives-12/

Thank you again for dropping in to visit and hope you will join me again next week for more of the same.  Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Sunday Interview – Deborah Jay with an extract from The Prince’s Man – Book One of The Five Kingdoms Series


Please welcome my guest today, author Deborah Jay who will also be sharing an excerpt from The Prince’s Man which is Book One in The Five Kingdoms Series which is also on offer at 99p/99c this weekend.

Firstly a brief introduction to Deborah…

Deborah Jay writes fast-paced fantasy adventures featuring quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.

Living mostly on the UK South coast, she has already invested in her ultimate retirement plan – a farmhouse in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands where she retreats to write when she can find time.

Her taste for the good things in life is kept in check by the expense of keeping too many dressage horses, and her complete inability to cook.

THE PRINCE’S MAN (#1 The Five Kingdoms), winner of a UK Arts Council award, and an Amazon Top 100 Hot New Release, is her debut novel. Book #2 THE PRINCE’S SON and book #3 THE PRINCE’S PROTEGEE are also now available.

Urban fantasy, DESPRITE MEASURES, is the first in a projected 5 book CALEDONIAN SPRITE SERIES, and a stand alone short story SPRITE NIGHT is now available.

Deborah has also published a multi-author SFF anthology THE WORLD AND THE STARS, which includes her SF story, PERFECT FIT.

She also has non-fiction equestrian titles published under the name Debby Lush.

Welcome Deborah and perhaps you could tell us what  is the genre, or genres that your books fit best into, and please tell us about the genre, and how you see it evolving in coming years? For example the growth in Fantasy and the success of Romance.

I write Fantasy fiction – a genre bursting with an ever-growing number of sub-genres.
My Five Kingdoms series is Epic Fantasy, but can also fit into Sword and Sorcery and Low Fantasy categories. Epic is a genre that is little changed over the years at a fundamental level, although it has spawned a popular new sub-category in recent years – GrimDark, for readers whose taste stretches to more gritty violence and depressing (in my opinion) outcomes.

The notorious ‘Game of Thrones’ fits comfortably into Epic, and I think although the basic premise of Epic (sprawling narratives over extensive time and reach, with multiple characters and huge stakes) will remain unchanged, this more brutal and uncompromising presentation will continue to grow. It isn’t a direction I plan on moving, but clearly there is a big market for such work.

My Caledonian Sprite series is contemporary, and nominally Urban Fantasy, though with much of the action taking place in the countryside, rather than a city, that’s a bit of a stretch.
The current big thing in UF is Academy series – young magic wielders at school. Harry Potter undoubtedly had a hand in starting this trend, but like Epic, even young readers may go for more darkness in their reads, with species such as vampires often central to these stories.

Identifying these trends (thanks to Sally’s question prompting some thought on the matter), I’m not sure I’m quite comfortable with the direction of my genre. Thank goodness there is still a massive readership for the more traditional fantasy, because I have no intention of following the latest fashion.

Are your books indie or mainstream published and please tell us about your publishing process and the pitfalls you may have encountered?

I am what is known as a hybrid author – I have both traditionally and self-published books. My trad pub work is non-fiction (horse training), which, if you are knowledgeable on your subject and can spot a hole in the market, is easier to sell than fiction. It helped that I had a track record of published magazine articles.

My first novels were written long before self-publishing (other than vanity publishing – for the most part an expensive and fruitless venture) was an option, and I was delighted to gain an agent at first attempt. However, the books didn’t sell, encouraging though the comments were from the Big Six publishers (as they were in those days). When I discovered self-publishing, I embraced the idea as I was certain my books would have an audience, even if they weren’t what publishers were looking for at the time – and I was right. My debut novel, THE PRINCE’S MAN, shot into the Amazon Hot 100 New releases category and sold like hot cakes for the first few months.

After that, I employed what I’d learned from my traditional published venture – if you want to sell books, you have to market them yourself. No one else is going to do the job for you, unless you are one of the really, really big names.

What would be your advice for an aspiring author before they put pen to paper?

Read widely – good books, bad books, different genres – and be prepared to experiment. Then before you decide what to write yourself, think hard about what makes you feel passionate.

First, pick a genre. This may not be as simple as it sounds, as you also need to have a clear idea of why you are writing: what your goals are. If you want the chance at big money, you will need to write in a popular genre. That, of course, has its own challenges, due to stiff competition.

If you are more interested in the experience alone, by all means, write whatever you want, but realise that niche genres are small for a reason, with limited reader interest, and tough to market.

The one thing I would advise against, is inventing a new genre. Sounds like a cool idea, but where will you find readers? If you don’t know who will read your work, you won’t know where to find them.

Second, analyse the books you’ve read – what made you fall in love with one, and discard another. The mechanics of writing can be learned (there are plenty of books and courses out there), but knowing at a gut level what inspired or enthralled you is equally, if not more important, and you need that passion to come over in your work.

Where did the inspiration for your featured book come from?

I really love films and TV series, and the protagonist of THE PRINCE’S MAN, Rustam Chalice, (Rusty to his friends), is based on James Bond. I adore the spy genre, but found it incredibly frustrating that Mr Bond was never allowed to develop as a person, or change his lifestyle, so I decided to do it for him!

Unlike the quintessential spy, I steered Rusty to develop from a shallow womaniser, albeit one devoted to his kingdom’s safety, into a character of far deeper morals, who questions not only his own way of life and his blind obedience to his master, the prince, but the validity of his magic-fearing society.

Building my world was great fun, and I made the decision early on that the inhabitants were to be refugees from another continent, so they are evolving their culture and learning about the land as they go along, which enables me to bring in new aspects whenever I want. I did, however, develop strict rules for my three magic systems before I set up the story, as these are integral to the whole scenario – characters, society, and plot. If pushed to say what inspired these, I would say my fascination with the psychology of ‘damaged’ individuals, and how their behaviours might be expressed if they had magic at their fingertips.

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

I have belonged to the same writers’ group for 30 years, and I’m not sure what I will do without them once I move away, which is becoming increasingly imminent.

As a group, the majority of us are published in one form or another, so, with the exception of newer recruits, we are producing professional level work, and we are both experienced and skilled at critiquing, and also at receiving criticism! As we all know we will be on the receiving end at times as well as doling out our own views and opinions, we have become adept at highlighting issues without destroying confidence.

My group point out weaknesses or inconsistencies in plot before it develops too far, meaning less backtracking in the editing stage. They also pick up on those habits we all have – words or phrases we use so often we become blind to them – and they spot proofing errors. My group has around six to nine members, and between them we cover a wide range of professions, which also helps as almost every question will find an answer.

If you can locate such a group, they are worth their weight in gold (I would be instantly pulled up for using such a cliché). The danger in groups is when you have members who think they are better than the others, rather than everyone working to help each other. If you find one of those, don’t hesitate to walk away. One of the best things about being a writer is that we aren’t in competition with each other – the more people we can enthuse to read, the bigger the market becomes for all of us.

Now time to find out more about Deborah’s books including her The Prince’s Man – Book One in The Five Kingdoms Series with is on offer at 99p/99c this weekend.

About The Prince’s Man

Think ‘James Bond meets Lord of the Rings’

Rustam Chalice, dance tutor, gigolo and spy, loves his life just the way it is. So when the kingdom he serves is threatened from within, he leaps into action. Only trouble is, the spy master, Prince Hal, teams him up with an untouchable aristocratic assassin who despises him.

And to make matters worse, she’s the most beautiful woman in the Five Kingdoms.

Plunged into a desperate journey over the mountains, the mismatched pair struggle to survive deadly wildlife, the machinations of a spiteful god – and each other.

They must also keep alive a sickly elf they need as a political pawn. But when the elf reveals that Rustam has magic of his own, he is forced to question his identity, his sanity and worst, his loyalty to his prince.

For in Tyr-en, all magic users are put to death.

Award winning novel, THE PRINCE’S MAN is a sweeping tale of spies and deadly politics, inter-species mistrust and magic phobia, with an underlying thread of romance.

An extract from The Prince’s Man

Rustam laid the elf in the shade beneath an ancient spreading oak. His breathing was audible now, but that was no more reassuring. Now it rasped and bubbled like a drowning fisherman, and when Rustam touched his face, the skin burned.

He looked around for Risada and found her kneeling by the stream, scooping water in her cupped hands. She had removed the net and hat, and her pale golden hair tumbled down her back, kinked into waves by its confinement. Rustam’s eyes fixed for a moment on the graceful arch of her throat.

He shook himself. “My Lady?” he called softly, aware that she was still furious with him.

She glanced up, frowned, and then rose to her feet. “Yes?”

Rustam pointed at the supine elf.

“What do you expect me to do about it?” she inquired icily.

Rustam shrugged. “I don’t know. I just thought you might have some idea; he’s hot as a baker’s oven.”

“What did you expect? He has very little chance of surviving this journey.” The sunlight faded from the clearing and Risada glanced up at the clouds beginning to amass overhead.

“Especially if winter decides to break early.”

She knelt down beside the elf and touched his flushed cheek and forehead. “He has a fever—”

“That’s what I said!”

“If you will let me finish? In my saddle-bags you will find a small twist of blue paper. No, the other side. Yes, that’s it. Bring it over here with a canteen.”

From the paper she took two pinches of powder and mixed them with a small amount of water in the canteen cup.

“Hold his mouth open.”

Slowly Risada dribbled the potion into the elf’s mouth, holding his jaw closed when he choked and gagged. Then, satisfied that he had swallowed enough, she rinsed the cup and stood up. “That should reduce the fever, always supposing he responds like a human. It’s all I can do; I’m not an apothecary.”

Rustam tightened the horses’ girths while Risada filled the canteens. They had just remounted when thundering hooves pounded down the slope behind them and three riders burst into the clearing.

On the edge of his vision Rustam saw Risada drop the bay mare’s reins, draw her dagger and raise a blowpipe to her lips in one fluid set of movements, while he struggled awkwardly to free his sword from the saddle scabbard beneath his left thigh.

Nightstalker pranced eagerly, destroying the tiny moment of concentration he needed to snap his mind into high speed. The unconscious elf bounced in front of him, blocking his view. He cursed and curbed the mare sharply. She half reared in protest.

The glint of a blade sliced towards him. Rustam threw himself sideways just as Nightstalker squealed and lashed out with her hind feet. Already off balance, Rustam slithered from the saddle pulling the elf with him, and they crashed heavily to the ground.

Hooves rose and fell finger distance from his face, trying to trample him, and they might have succeeded had his beloved black mare not lunged at the attacker’s brown gelding with her teeth bared.

Rustam rolled away, finally managed to shift his time sense, regained his feet and darted in beside Nightstalker. He dragged his sword free with a satisfying rasp of metal on leather. The soldier, dressed in Melcard’s maroon livery, guided his frightened gelding around the angry mare, and with a curdling battle cry attacked Rustam. His sword arced downward and Rustam ducked, twisted around as the horse passed him, and sliced upward. A severed arm thudded to the ground at his feet.

Uttering a hysterical shriek, the soldier dropped his reins, and his horse lurched to a confused halt. The man sat frozen in shock, gazing without comprehension at his bleeding stump. Rustam sprinted forward, swerved around the spurting jet of bright blood—no point soiling yet another shirt—caught hold of his victim’s sword-belt and dragged him from his saddle. One quick dagger thrust ended the man’s worry.

Rustam turned to see Risada not faring so well. The blowpipe was nearly useless against fast moving armoured targets, and her dagger was too short to menace their swords. She was still mounted, but one rider was circling to get behind her.

Rustam vaulted into his saddle. Nightstalker grunted an objection at his rude arrival but bounded obediently forward. One soldier’s back was towards him; the other saw him coming and cried out. The nearer one began to turn, pirouetting his horse on its haunches, but Rustam’s charge brought him quickly within range and although the man managed to raise his sword awkwardly to parry Rustam’s first blow, it flew from his grasp and the backswing sliced through his neck.

Turning to confront the last of their attackers, Rustam found only an empty saddle. The man lay spread-eagled on the grass, a tiny yellow feather adhering to his exposed throat.

Risada was already off her horse, kneeling beside the sprawled tangle of limbs that was the elf. As Rustam jumped down from Nightstalker’s back to join her, she rose gracefully to her feet.

“Somehow I don’t think falling on top of him has helped his chances of survival.”

A recent review for The Prince’s Man

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written September 24, 2019

I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining and skillfully-written fantasy novel. I was particularly taken with the tight narrative, not a wasted scene or conversation, every word counting as the story unfolded. This contributed to a quick pace and complimented the well-considered plot that comes together with a satisfying ending. Though the first in a series, The Prince’s Man can also be read as a stand-alone.

All that good stuff, and then there’s more… the characters are fabulous, deeply flawed and sympathetic at the same time. The relationship between Rustam and Risada takes center stage. There are hints of a romantic attraction but the reader is saved from moon eyes and heaving chests by a very real tension based on past experiences, current loyalties, and objectives. Despite being allies, there’s a lot of loathing going on here. I love that.

Elves, trolls, and were-cats throw the story into the classic fantasy genre and are integral to the plot and underlying theme of the book. The political machinations are realistic enough to be recognizable today. Prejudices, bigotry, genocide, and beliefs in cultural superiority are alive and well in her world-building. The characters are forced to revisit their worldviews, but just like in real life, they will only open their eyes so wide. And Jay doesn’t hold back on the brutality.

I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series and seeing what happens to the two main characters as well as a host of others who intrigued me no end. Recommended for anyone who loves a good fantasy.

Read all the reviews and buy the book 99c today: https://www.amazon.com/Princes-Man-Five-Kingdoms-Book-ebook/dp/B00I9N2Q20

and Amazon UK 99p: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Princes-Man-Five-Kingdoms-Book-ebook/dp/B00I9N2Q20

A selection of other books by Deborah Jay

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Deborah-Jay/e/B00E4X3UHY

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deborah-Jay/e/B00E4X3UHY

Read more reviews and follow Deborah on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172608.Deborah_Jay

Connect to Deborah Jay

Website: http://deborahjayauthor.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeborahJay
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeborahJay2

My thanks to Deborah for joining me today and if you have any questions then please leave them in the comments section below.

Thanks for dropping in.. Sally.

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter Eighteen – Some guests and their Foibles by Sally Cronin


This was my first novel written in 2001 and is loosely based on my various jobs. It is however the story of Imogen and her bounce back after her divorce and so is a mainly a work of fiction!

Previously Imogen is surprised by the initiative shown by two of her staff at the opening weekend party, but has to draw the line somewhere….

Chapter Eighteen – Some guests and their Foibles

A number of guests stand out in my memories of the two seasons that I stayed at Killbilly. We had many Americans staying with us, generally for one or two nights, during their tours of the West Country. They loved the faded charm of the hotel and took copious pictures of the high ceilinged rooms and the delightful grounds. And I have to say that everyone was a pleasure to serve as they were charming, polite and grateful for the old style service that we offered, even if it was delivered with an Australian accent. However, one particular American couple  were clearly used to a slightly different level of accommodation. Air conditioning, ice in the rooms and twenty-four-hour food service.

They were looking for something to criticise right from the moment they walked through the large wooden doors and into the reception area. They had probably had a miserable journey on a hot day in a car too small, with no air conditioning, and had no doubt got lost several times. That however was no excuse for the way they spoke to the receptionist when they arrived and so I decided to step in and ease them upstairs to their room. Michael took their bags, all ten of them, and I led the way to the guest elevator.

I have to say that they were both rather large, and it was a very tight squeeze for the three of us in the small lift. We were all a little hot and bothered by the time we arrived at their room and I stood aside as first the man and then the woman entered. It was one of our larger rooms with two double beds and a lovely view over the front garden. It was a very warm day and the window was open to allow a gentle breeze to waft through the room.

‘Oh my god, Elmer look at the bugs, there’s bugs in the room, I can’t stay here.’

Startled, I desperately tried to find these bugs that Madam was referring to. By the open window, I caught a quick glimpse of a couple of mayflies that had drifted in from the garden.

‘It’s okay, those are just little mayflies, they are completely harmless.’ I tried to reassure the hysterical woman.

Elmer glared at me.

‘Where’s the screens for the windows, get them fitted immediately.’

Screens? I can only assume that he was referring to mosquito netting, which would have been totally redundant in the depths of the Cornish countryside. I apologised, and explained that we did not get much call for them even in the height of summer. Elmer crossed to the window and slammed it shut, rattling the glass. He returned to his distraught wife and elbowed her out into the hall.

‘Get us a room without bugs! Otherwise, we will be leaving immediately.’

Tempting though this thought was, I felt I should make some effort to accommodate our two disgruntled guests, as they were booked for three nights and we really could not afford to lose the revenue.

‘Please wait here while I check to see if we have another superior room available, I won’t be long.’

With that I dashed downstairs to the reception area and checked our reservations. We were fully booked from tomorrow for several days, but by moving some guests around, I managed to free up another room for three nights.

I shot back up the stairs and showed the bristling couple into a room on the other side of the hotel. Luckily, because this one was not being used until the next day, the chambermaid had not opened the window, and as far as I could tell, without the aid of a microscope, it was relatively bug free. I was sorely tempted to mention mites that were probably infesting the room in their millions, but held my tongue. Thankfully, Elmer and his lovely bride deemed this room just about acceptable and I went in search of Michael and the luggage.

That evening, as was my practice, I stood at the entrance of the dining room and showed the guests to their designated table for the duration of their stay. During the meal I would circulate through the dining room, making sure that everything was in order and assisting the waiting staff if things got a little backed-up.

I had returned to the door, having just shown a particularly lovely couple to their table and happened to glance up the wide flight of stairs that led to the first floor rooms. I caught my breath! Coming down the stairs were Elmer and Mrs. Elmer. The two of them, side by side, completely filled the stairway. However, this was not what grabbed my immediate attention. It was rather the attire that they had chosen for the evening. They must have read a book on country house etiquette and dress code and had gone all out to comply with ‘regulations’. He was wearing full evening dress with a bright scarlet cummerbund and matching bow tie.

Compared to his lovely wife he was relatively subdued. She was wearing a full length taffeta evening dress in bright green, it had a wide flowing skirt that accentuated the width of her generous hips and had a very low cleavage that showed an ample bosom bedecked with every single piece of jewellery she owned.

The sight was breathtaking and I tried hard to keep a professional smile on my face as they glided towards me. Up close, I was almost blinded by the sparkling gems, including a tiara that perched precariously on top of her pink-blonde bouffant hairstyle. Behind me, in the dining room, were about forty people who were wearing smart casual clothing and who were going to be totally unprepared for the sight of their dinner companions. I had managed to restrain myself but could not guarantee the reaction of the assembled diners, or for that matter the Australian waiting staff.

I smiled and bade them good evening. They swept imperiously past me and entered the dining room. I managed to steer them across the room towards their table by the window. Of course, it had to be the table furthest from the door.

As we manoeuvred our way across the floor, all sound ceased. I could feel forty pairs of eyes tracking our progress, and prayed that there would be no snigger, or gasp, from the crowd.

My two guests however, took this silence as astounded appreciation of their turnout and actually turned to tables on their way to the window and gave little regal waves. I thought the room was going to explode any minute and desperately tried to seat Mr. and Mrs. Elmer and quickly as possible. I hurriedly put their menus in front of them and backed away as if in the presence of royalty.

The room let out a collective sigh and conversation resumed, although in hushed tones and whispers. I saw that many guests were smothering hysteria with a great deal of British backbone and thanked goodness that the Australians had held themselves in check. As I looked around, I realised that this was because there was not one member of the Australian waiting staff in the dining room. I went through to the kitchen, and the chef gestured with his knife towards the back door into the garden. There I found eight members of the down-under contingent in convulsions. Their laughter was infectious but I felt I ought to remind them that they had to get back to work and continue serving our dinner guests. I made them promise to behave themselves when serving Elmer and his wife and decided that perhaps one of the local girls would be a more reliable waitress. That settled we went about the evening’s business.

After eating their way through six instead of four courses, the couple squeezed into the lift and disappeared up to their room. I wondered what other outfits the ten pieces of luggage might hold. I was beginning to have serious doubts as to whether I would be able to keep a lid on things for two more nights.

I need not have worried. The next morning, Elmer ordered breakfast in their room. We normally only served a full cooked breakfast in the dining room, but Elmer insisted that they wanted the whole works delivered in ten minutes and we could keep that continental rubbish.

Anything for a quiet life!

Eventually, around midday, the couple appeared downstairs, ordered a packed lunch and disappeared in their car for an excursion. The chambermaid managed to get into their room and when I saw her half an hour later, she commented on how disgustingly the room had been left. I sympathised and said it was only for a couple of more days and returned to the office.

The excursion seemed to last only as long as it took to eat the packed lunch and then they were back. They went up to the room and within seconds the phone on my desk rang.

‘There’s bugs in the room again girlie. Whoever cleaned this room has left the window open. And another thing.’ He paused for breath and I wondered what was coming next.

‘My wife has a head cold and your maid put her toothbrush in the same glass as mine and I’m going to catch her germs. I want a rebate on the room rate.’

So, there we have it. Crunch time. Now, I firmly believe that the customer is always right, but even I have to draw the line somewhere. I knew that whatever we did in the next three days it would never be good enough for this demanding and unreasonable couple. Assuring Elmer that I would be upstairs within a few minutes with a solution to his problem, I replaced the receiver and got out my address book.

We had an ongoing rivalry with a hotel about five miles away. Patrick had taken me there for dinner shortly after my arrival to show me what the competition was like. An ex catering-corps major, who always referred to himself by rank, ran the hotel and I have never been in such a pretentious establishment in all my life. The staff were clearly terrified and we heard them being roared at, in the distance, as we ate a fairly mediocre but incredibly expensive meal.

Patrick confided that, for several years, Major Scott had been in the habit of ridiculing Killbilly and the way that both Patrick’s parents, and then he, had run the hotel. He was particularly scathing about the Australian staff and the relaxed way the establishment was run. It was time for pay-back and it was with this in mind that I rang the number of the Major’s hotel and got through to reception.

‘Good afternoon, this is Killbilly hotel here, I wonder if you could help us?’ There was a stunned silence on the other end.

‘Uh, yes, certainly, what can we do for you?’ I could sense a certain amount of suspicion in the hesitant voice on the end of the phone.

‘We are fully booked and we have an extremely wealthy American couple who require a superior room for the next two nights. Do you have one available at all?’ I could here rustling in the background and whispered conversation. The one thing that Major Scott could not do was whisper.

I smiled in anticipation, having set the bait.

‘Yes that will be absolutely fine, we have one of our best rooms available and if you can give us the name of the party we will expect them in the next hour or so.’

Perfect! Armed with this information I sped upstairs and knocked on Elmer’s door. He opened it and stood in the doorway quite clearly spoiling for a fight. I smiled sweetly and pushed past him into the room.

‘It is quite clear that we are unable to match your extremely high standards and so I am delighted to tell you that I have booked you a superior room at a very prestigious hotel in the next village.’ I paused for effect.

‘I will only charge you for dinner last night, which I noticed you both enjoyed immensely. In this case, I will not charge you for your room for the night. I trust that is acceptable? The hall porter will be here in half an hour to collect your luggage.’ With that, I swept out of the door and into the corridor.

Elmer was out after me like a shot, visions of very expensive hotel rooms looming in his mind.

‘There’s no need for that, just get rid of the bugs and tell that maid of yours to leave our toothbrushes alone in future. I’m sure we can work something out.’

‘Absolutely not.’ I insisted, shaking my head. ‘If we can’t supply the service that you expect then of course we must make every effort to find you somewhere that can. Michael will be with you shortly, may I respectfully suggest that you begin packing so that we can get you on your way.’

I’m afraid he did not stand a chance, and it was with much satisfaction that I deducted the hefty dinner bill from his credit card and waved the two of them off an hour later.

One of our local chambermaids had a cousin who worked for Major Scott, and a week later she regaled us with the details of the confrontation between Elmer and the Major. Apparently, there was a certain amount of property damage and a number of other guests left the establishment never to return again. When I told Patrick the story he was delighted and thought that after all these years of being put down by the Major it was worth losing a nights room-rate.

©Sally Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

One of the reviews for the book

Sep 13, 2016 Teresa Karlinski rated it Five Stars
At almost fifty, Imogen is shocked when her husband announces he’s met someone else. She gives up the marvelous home she’s lovingly made for her and her husband. The new wife loves love it. A deal is made, a sum paid to Imogen and she buys her own little house. After spending months sprucing up her new nest, she’s bored and decides she needs something to occupy her days. Her children have grown up and have lives of their own. Nobody and nothing needs her.
She finds a job ad in the newspaper for an agency which places mature candidates. Perfect. She’s given an unusual interview during which her story unfolds, from her first job as a teen through the various and many positions she holds during her youth. Imogen is a gutsy, entertaining personality, who though younger than some of the people she’s worked with and for, was not only a clear thinker with a good head on her shoulders, and fleet of foot but wise beyond her years. This is a rollicking read you won’t want to put down. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I promise Imogen is the type of character you cannot help but admire and enjoy. If you want a light, heartwarming read, this is for you.

If you would like to browse my other Ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thanks for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome. Sally.

I hope you will join me again next weekend for the final two chapters about Imogen’s colourful work history.

Rodeo #2: Pro-Bull Mashup


Time for the second of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo contests and this week it is a Pro-bull mashup.. two genres, three pro-bull names in 99 words.. head over and saddle up.

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Where else would you find a bull-riding flash fiction 99-word contest but at Carrot Ranch? Come on, all you pencil crunchers, gather ’round and listen to a  tale.

My dad rode bulls. His dad and his dad’s dad rode bulls. My second great-grandfather wore high-heeled vaquero boots in an 1880s photograph, and while I have no more evidence than those boots, I suspect he rode bulls, too. When you grow up around ranch critters, you ride everything that will hold your weight (you can’t ride a chicken, but you can ride a pig).

Getting bucked off is fun, or so you grow up believing. Your relatives and their friends, congregate in the corrals, hold down a critter, set you on it, hoot like crazy throughout your ride, and dust you off when you faceplant in the dirt and critter-pies.

Following this generational bent, I wanted to ride bulls, too. I…

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