Smorgasbord Short Stories – What’s in a Name?- Francis – Forging New Bonds by Sally Cronin


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

Francis – Forging new bonds

Francis Baxter checked into the hotel in the middle of Chamonix on the Friday night and tired from his long journey headed off to bed and slept for ten hours straight.

He woke to find the sun streaming in through the windows of his suite and a craving for several cups of strong coffee. He showered and sat in the extremely fluffy bath robe supplied by the exclusive hotel and waited for room service to send up his breakfast. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He didn’t want to think about Chrissie back home in Houston or Dane and Shannon finishing off their semester before heading home for the Easter holidays. He hadn’t informed anyone, not even his business partner of twenty years, where he was going; he had not switched on his mobile since landing in Geneva yesterday.

Unfortunately denial did not stop the rush of thoughts and emotions that had been triggered two days ago when Chrissie has asked for a divorce. Their discussion that had developed into a full-blown argument replayed in his head over and over. Her accusation that he was more interested in his work and making money than their marriage, and that she no longer loved him had established itself front and centre in his mind; he had not seen that coming.

He knew that he was ambitious and he and Richard, his partner, worked long hours keeping their accountancy business afloat in these uncertain times. Yes, they played golf at the weekends but it was their way of unwinding after a long week. He admitted to himself that there were too many dinners in the city with major clients but they required constant attention.

The fact was that without the business they would not have the big house, fancy cars and vacations. He had thought that Chrissie was content with the trappings that came with his job; he was furious with himself for missing all the signs and taking so much for granted.

There was a discreet knock on the door and Francis walked over to admit the uniformed waiter who wheeled in a laden trolley. Having slipped the young guy a generous tip, Francis settled down at the table and contemplated his breakfast. Suddenly he had little appetite so sipped his strong black coffee and flicked through one of the local guides that were spread out in front of him.

The truth was that he knew this area quite well as he had lived here as a child with his French mother and American father who was an artist. They had moved to the United States when he was twelve years old which is why, when faced with this bombshell he had chosen to run as far as he could; to somewhere he still considered his home. A picture captured his attention as he automatically turned the pages in the glossy brochure. It was of a place that he remembered from his childhood when he and his parents would take long treks at the weekend up the sides of the surrounding mountains. His father would carry the rucksack containing their lunch which always consisted of a fresh baked baguette from the local cafe along with fresh tomatoes and a tub of rich homemade mayonnaise. They would find a perch above the valley and the three of them would break the bread into chunks, add a dollop of mayo, a couple of slices of the bright red tomato and it tasted heavenly.

This reminded him that he was actually hungry right now. He decided to tuck into the now cooling omelette and croissant; he was going to need some fuel for the walk he now planned to take.

Francis opened his suit carrier which he had hurriedly thrown random clothes into and realised that he was not equipped for hiking. He pulled on some jeans and a sweat shirt and headed downstairs and out into the main street. The shops didn’t open until later in the morning, but he spent his time well, window shopping and popping into a bakery for another coffee and some supplies for his hike. He returned to one of the sports outfitters that he had scoped out earlier and bought some jeans, boots, parka and a rucksack. He also picked up a detailed guide to the trails, not trusting his memory completely, and a water bottle. He returned to the hotel and quickly changed into his new clothes. At the last minute he added his mobile phone to the essentials in his rucksack for safety reasons and headed down the corridor to the elevator.

Two hours later, after realising how out of shape he was, Francis breathlessly reached his destination. The roar of the torrent of water that rushed down the mountainside from the spring melt filled the air and the scent of pine was strong in his nostrils. Memories flooded back of a different time when every spare moment that he had was filled with activities like this. His parents always seemed to be there beside him hiking, skiing and sledding down moonlit slopes close to the town. He remembered drinking hot chocolate around the fire at a local inn and being included even when there were adult guests around the big kitchen table for fondue. What he could not remember was the last time that he, Chrissie and the kids had spent any time together or even enjoyed a family meal.

He viewed the narrow footbridge across the gorge that he needed to cross to reach the small building clinging to the rock face on the other side of the raging river. It had carried thousands across safely over the hundreds of years that it had existed but a little hesitantly he walked over watching the flood waters racing beneath him.

Francis knew what to expect as he opened the door into the little chapel but was still unprepared for the wave of emotion that swept through him. Sunlight fought to gain entry into the tiny space through small windows fashioned into the thick outer wall. The faint rays illuminated the walls of stone and the shrine at its heart. Francis walked slowly inside and stood for a moment with his head bowed. Around him in the cracks in the walls, hundreds of small slips of paper caught the light. They were the prayers and supplications of people across time that had needed guidance and restoration of faith. Townspeople had walked up from the valley and travellers through the passes had stopped for a brief respite and comfort. Their combined presence had created a vortex of emotion and the hair on the back of Francis’s neck stood on end.

He had never been a religious man but he knew that this place was a spiritual oasis where all could regain their strength and sense of purpose. He remained for a few minutes longer and then gently closing the door behind him he walked back across the bridge. Gradually the feelings that had been triggered so forcefully subsided and in their place came clarity.

He walked down the trail until he reached a point overlooking the town. He sat on a warm rock and opened his rucksack. He broke the baguette into four pieces and liberally spread fresh mayonnaise on each piece before adding a thick slice of tomato with a little salt. He ate his simple meal as he contemplated his next move.

Satisfied now in body and soul he picked up his mobile and switched it back on. Ignoring all the texts and messages waiting for him; he made two calls. The first to Chrissie that lasted a long time and ended with his satisfied smile; the second that was equally lengthy to his business partner. He packed up the remains of his lunch and headed back down into the town where he spent the next few hours visiting chalet rental offices

For the first time in years, Francis felt that he was where he belonged and a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders. Chrissie would be arriving tomorrow and then next week Dane and Shannon would join them. It was time to repair those bonds that had been broken and to forge new ones that were stronger and would last a lifetime.

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

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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 5th – 11th January 2020 – Count Basie, Phosphorus, Reviews, New Books, Bloggers and Funnies.


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

It seems to take longer each year to get back to normal after the holidays. Almost the middle of January and at least spring always appears to be around the corner once we get into this part of the year. Nothing startling happening around the house as we are waiting for dry weather to get in stones for drainage and topsoil to finish the piece where the new fence has been erected. We have adopted a much more relaxed approach to these jobs now, as nothing we do or say is going to make the weather more amenable to our needs!

Never mind, there is plenty of warmth and friendship online to enjoy and we could have it a great deal worse. As the fires in Australia continue, we can only be grateful for days of rain and the ability to live safely. The devastation and loss of life and wildlife is something that will take decades to fully recover from and it must be a huge worry for relatives of families in the areas under attack.

As always my thanks to the regular contributors and to you for dropping in and supporting us with your comments and sharing of posts.

This week William shares the music of the legendary Count Basie – 1904 – 1984

William Price King with Count Basie

In the final post of this series Carol Taylor and I team up to share the symptoms of a deficiency of Phosphorus and the foods you need to include in your diet regularly.

This week cooking from scratch to prevent a deficiency of phosphorus

This month Silvia Todesco shows us how to make authentic pesto sauce, and essential ingredient in pasta sauces.

Pesto alla Genovese sauce, ten tricks for the best result

What I wish I knew then by Pete Springer

My review for Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney

My review #Mystery Watching Glass Shatter by James M. Cudney

Two more stories from this collection…

Eric – Just Making Do

Fionnuala The Swan

For the first Tuesday in the month for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 159 it is poet’s choice.  I have selected a Butterfly Cinquain…

Butterfly Cinquain – Friendship

Unarranged Marriage by Ritu Bhathal on pre-order February 9th.

Beck ‘n’ Call Lands of Exile Book 2 by Stuart France and Sue Vincent

The Old Gilt Clock by Paulette Mahurin

Thriller Carol Balawyder, Mystery Diana J. Febry, Afghanistan Patricia Furstenberg

Poetry Lynda McKinney Lambert, Thriller Don Massenzio, Prehistory Jacqui Murray

Book Review Michelle Clements James, Book Launch Tips Mary Smith, Climate Change Carol Taylor

Movie Review D.G. Kaye, Funnies The Story Reading Ape, Measurements Beetley Pete

Recipes Amy Reade, Tarot Jan Sikes, Interview Jane Risdon

Carol Taylor – Whimsical Wednesdays – Robbie Cheadle Book review, Marcia Meara with a marketing opportunity

Aurora Jean Alexander – Books, Inspiration Charli Mills, Japanese Poetry Colleen Chesebro

Here is part one of an alternative shopping list that your body might write if it was capable. It does try to tell you that it is missing elements that it needs which is when you are sick. This list contains the top sources for the nutrients our bodies need to be healthy.

Shopping List by Nutrient – Vitamins A- B

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

More funnies and an invitation to join in the fun

Thank you for all your support and wishing you a great week ahead. Look forward to seeing you here again.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Book Review – #Family #Mystery – Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney


The first book review for the year is for the family drama Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney. Having enjoyed the books in the Braxton Campus Series, I was looking forward to reading the first of the author’s books, and was not disappointed.

About the book

After 40 years of marriage, Olivia’s husband unexpectedly passes away. But when Ben’s will reveals a life-altering secret, she suffers a blow no widow should ever experience.

Olivia learns that she gave birth to a baby who later died in the nursery. Instead of telling his wife what happened, Ben switched the child with another. And as if that’s not enough, Ben’s will doesn’t reveal which of their five sons is truly not hers.

Olivia visits each of her sons to share a final connection before facing the truth that will change their family, and discovers that each of them has been harboring a painful secret, just like their father. But will the secrets destroy their family, or bring them closer together?

My review for the book.

Another excellent read from author James J. Cudney.

For anyone coming from a large sized family this book will only confirm that brothers and sisters, and sometimes our parents, don’t share everything with us as they tend to operate on a need to know basis. Especially as we don’t necessarily reveal every side to our nature when it might go against other people’s expectations of us, real or imagined.

There are five brothers all grieving the untimely death of their father, all with different emotions about their connection to him and also their mother Olivia. On the surface Olivia is elegant with a perfect home and life laid out meticulously, leaving her sons with a sense of coolness and detachment, despite her own way of showing her love for them. This has forced some of them to keep secrets from her in case of upsetting the status quo. From what we hear about their father Ben, he was much more attuned to the events in their lives even if he might not have acknowledged their choices whilst alive.

Whilst dealing with her own grief at the loss of the love of her life, Olivia now is faced with a dilemma about how she handles the secret she has now been made aware of. Which one of her sons is not the one she gave birth to? And how can she forgive her husband Ben for his actions and for leaving her to clear up the mystery on her own. Sensibly she decides to spend time with all of her sons before reaching a decision, and in doing so uncovers other truths she was unaware of, some of which are hurtful and some devastating.

For me Olivia is well crafted central and complex character, with what appears to be a coldness, but which is really a facade hiding a doubts about her abilities of a mother and her perceptions of how she is regarded by the society she has grown up within. Throughout the story we watch as she dismantles this facade to reveal the warmer and more genuine person beneath.

We also get to know each of the sons in turn discovering their secrets and their misconceptions about how they will be received. It shows what most of us know, that much of the time we misjudge how others are going to react, projecting our fear onto them. Usually we find they already know and have accepted the situation without judgement.

There is much miscommunication to sort out and James Cudney does this very well, with understanding and compassion as well as a realistic view about family life and relationships. There is tragedy ahead but that too brings another element to the story that strengthens the bonds between the brothers and their mother.

This process is facilitated by another well developed character, Olivia’s sister Diane, childless and recently divorced, and who is an impartial, loving, non-judgemental sounding board for both her sister and her nephews as they re-establish their connection to each other and mysteries are revealed.

I came away from reading the story with a renewed sense of appreciation of my own family, as I realised how easy it is as we grow older to detach ourselves from the lives of those close to us, only sharing what we think they might want to hear, instead of who we really are.

I recommend Watching Glass Shatter to anyone who enjoys well written family sagas with the mystery at the heart of the story, skillfully kept hidden until the last pages.

There are over 150 excellent reviews for the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by James J. Cudney

Discover more about James J. Cudney – read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow James: Goodreads

About James J. Cudney

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

Connect to James via his blog This is my Truth Now

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the review and will head over to discover more about James J. Cudney and his books. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – The Old Gilt Clock by Paulette Mahurin


A new book on the shelves for Paulette Mahurin with a World War II novel, The Old Gilt Clock

About the book

During one of the darkest times in human history when millions of innocent Jews and others deemed “undesirables” were being sent to concentration camps to be brutality worked to death or slaughtered, a group of Dutch resistance workers rose up against the atrocities. Their resistance to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands created a vast counterintelligence, domestic sabotage, and communications network to help hide Jewish people from German authorities. The Old Gilt Clock is the story of how one Dutch resistance member, Willem Arondéus, risked his life to defy the Nazis’ plans to identify and deport hundreds of thousands of Dutch Jews. Arondéus’ courage is largely forgotten by history, but not by the Jewish and Dutch people. Written by the award-winning international Amazon bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, comes a story of Arondéus’ courageous struggle to stand up to the unimaginable evil designs of Hitler. Inclusive is Arondéus’ battle to come out to his homophobic father, who hated his son’s homosexuality. It is also a story about friendships formed in the Dutch resistance movement, their joys and sorrows, their wins and losses, their loves and betrayals, and ultimately their resilience to oppose tyranny and oppression when millions stood silent condoning heinous behavior. Thousands are alive today because of these brave, compassionate men and women.

One of the recent reviews for The Old Gild Clock

I hadn’t heard of Willem Arondéus before this. The story portrays a different perspective of those who attempted to save the Jews during WWII in that it’s told from the viewpoint of another persecuted people–the homosexual community. The tale of Willem’s life as depicted in this story is a grim one. Persecution can make people do terrible things to survive, or in Willem’s case, can cause them to fight back against the oppressors all the more. Each person whose story comes to life within the pages of novels, such as this one, brings even greater awareness of the horrors of war, and the necessity for us to embrace and understand those who are different from us.

The story is beautifully and tragically told. I would read Paulette’s books alone for the lovely descriptions. Here’s one from the opening paragraph that sets the calm mood… before the storm: “The yellowish-red colors infusing the horizon dripped down, like a watercolor painting, leaving a faint glow of shimmering purple, as day met night.” 

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Paulette Mahurin

Read all the reviews and BUY the books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Profits from Paulette’s books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.

Read more reviews and follow Paulette on : Goodreads 

About Paulette Mahurin

Paulette Mahurin is an international best selling literary fiction and historical fiction novelist. She lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.

Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her second novel, His Name Was Ben, originally written as an award winning short story while she was in college and later expanded into a novel, rose to bestseller lists its second week out. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015. Her fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K. and Amazon Australia. Her fifth book, The Day I Saw The Hummingbird, is schedules for release in 2017.

Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminster Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue. Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.

Connect to Paulette via her blog: The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on WordPress

Facebook: Paulette Mahurin
Twitter: @MahurinPaulette

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to add Paulette’s new book to your reading list for 2020.. thanks Sally.
 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Poetry Lynda McKinney Lambert, #Thriller Don Massenzio, #Prehistory Jacqui Murray


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

The first book to have received a recent review is the poetry collection Star Signs by Lynda McKinney Lambert

About the collection

Lynda Lambert covers a wide terrain of subjects and topics in this new book, from lights to legends to seasons, treating us to images and metaphors about plants, people and weather. She opens this large collection with the title poem, Star Signs, which walks us through the alphabet as it digs through thoughts, emotions and observations, “Using star signs to map out new terrain.”

Throughout this book of poems, these gems of poetic creation shimmer like beads on her fabric art, like bold brush strokes of color on her paintings, and reflect light like the gemstones on her prize–winning piece of mixed–media fiber artwork. It seems this entire collection is like a multifaceted mural.

Her attentiveness to nature and strong reflections from memory have woven from a collage of remnants a beautiful tapestry for us. It offers a wonderful feast for the eyes and the mind.

—Wesley D. Sims, author of Taste of Change

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – Beck ‘n’ Call (Lands of Exile Book 2) by Stuart France and Sue Vincent


Delighted to share the news of the latest release from the writing collaboration of Stuart France and Sue Vincent. Beck ‘n’ Call (Lands of Exile Book 2)

About the Book

Ben, fast becoming a folk hero after the apparent theft of a standing stone, now languishes in Bakewell Gaol. Don and Wen, suspected of being his accomplices, are on holiday… or ‘on the run’ if Bark Jaw Dark and PC 963 Kraas, hot in pursuit, are to be believed. From England to Scotland, the officers of the Law have followed the trail of the erratic couple as they visited the ancient sites of Albion. This time, though, as Don and Wen take the slow boat to Ireland, Kraas and Jaw Dark are one step ahead. But Ireland is a land of mystery and magic where reality is intertwined with vision and standing stones are still open doors… How long can Don and Wen continue to evade the long arm of the Law? In the shadows, a labyrinth of secrecy shrouds a mysterious figure. What is Montgomery’s interest in a small standing stone? Just how many high-level strings can he pull… and why? And what is the dark, winged creature that is now on the loose? Join Don and Wen as they continue their adventures in the sacred and magical landscape of Albion.

Head over to buy the book: Amazon UK

and: Amazon US

A selection of other books by Stuart France and Sue Vincent

One of the reviews for Mister Fox and the Green Man

This is a most unusual book which presents three concepts from English mythology in the form of a graphic novel. It was not what I originally expected but I did enjoy this unique idea. The book starts with a humorous spoof on the well know British spy, James Bond, and his secretary, fondly referred to in this book as Miss Hunnyfludd.

The spy travels back in time at the instance of the Green Man to the court of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. The Green Man challenges the knights to a duel and offers them the first strike. Sir Gawain accepts the challenge and decapitates the Green Man, who picks up his severed head and tells the knights that in one year’s time, Sir Gawain must entered into another duel with him. This time the Green Man will have the first strike which will end in certain death for Sir Gawain.

Sir Gawain sets off on a quest into the Enchanted Forest to try and find a way to save himself. He encounters an enchanted hind who tells him a riddle which he must solve within the year in order to avoid death. Sir Gawain meets adversity during his quest to find the answer to the riddle in the form of, among other things, a hag who wants to marry him and the wife of Lord Verdant.

A year later Sir Gawain faces the Green Man in a duel and a single drop of his’s blood is spilled, conjuring up the dancing foxes of ancient times. What happens to Sir Gawain? Do the dancing foxes have a message for him? Does the British spy travel safely back in time? Read this book to find out these answers. At the same time you can enjoy the lovely illustrations

Read the reviews and buy the books: Sue Vincent Amazon UK and: Amazon US Goodreads: Sue Vincent

And Stuart France:  Amazon UK  and: Amazon US – Goodreads: Stuart France

About France and Vincent

The writing partnership of France and Vincent has a peculiar alchemy of humour, scholarship and vision that has given birth to many books, including the The Triad of Albion and Doomsday series’ as well as a number of unusual tales presented as graphic novels.

Stuart France – writer and mystic; author of The Living One and Crucible of the Sun. Stuart has a deep and practical knowledge of the Western Mystery Tradition, having followed a Path that has taken him hopping through the branches of the Trees of Knowledge and Delight. His astonishing work with symbolism and the interpretation of myth comes from a profound understanding and love of life and humanity. After gaining his BA in Philosophy and Literature, and his MA in Writing, this Child of Light studied with OBOD, AMORC, and the Servants of the Light and is a Director of The Silent Eye School of Consciousness. Stuart blogs at somethingferal.com.

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire born writer, esoteric teacher and Director of The Silent Eye. She has been immersed in the Mysteries all her life. Sue maintains a popular blog and is co-author of The Mystical Hexagram with Dr G.M.Vasey. Sue lives in Buckinghamshire, having been stranded there some years ago due to an accident with a blindfold, a pin and a map. She has a lasting love-affair with the landscape of Albion, the hidden country of the heart. She is currently owned by a small dog who also writes at scvincent.com.

The Silent Eye School of Consciousness is a modern Mystery School that seeks to allow its students to find the inherent magic in living and being. With students around the world the School offers a fully supervised and practical correspondence course that explores the self through guided inner journeys and daily exercises. It also offers workshops that combine sacred drama, lectures and informal gatherings to bring the teachings to life in a vivid and exciting format. The Silent Eye operates on a not-for-profit basis. Full details of the School may be found on the official website, http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk.

Connect to Sue and Stuart through their book website:  France and Vincent

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will check out the books by this talented writing collaboration.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – What I Wish I Knew Then by Pete Springer


Delighted to welcome Pete Springer today with a guest post that I think you will all enjoy especially as like me it is something you might also have wished for at some point in your life.

What I Wish I Knew Then

Sometimes I feel like one of the luckiest people on Earth. I was born into a stable family with great parents and three terrific older brothers. I married a great lady, and we have an adult son who is making his mark in the world. We’re proud of the man he has become. My career as an elementary teacher was rewarding, and I’m filled with pride as I watch many of my former students doing extraordinary things.

One of the things I’ve noticed about myself is that I tend to be more philosophical as I get older. Maybe that’s a symptom of having more time on my hands. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m any smarter, but I do find myself thinking about some of the lessons I’ve learned.

If I could have one do-over in life, it would be my high school years. After a happy childhood, we moved cross-country to California when I was starting high school. Maybe it was the combination of being at an awkward age, moving to a new place, and not having the self-confidence to embrace new challenges at the time, but those years weren’t a particularly happy time. I wasn’t depressed, but I wasn’t joyful either.

High school was cliquish, and for a guy who didn’t fit in any of the groups, I found that I kept to myself more and didn’t have a lot of close friendships.

Around the time I turned eighteen, I made a thoughtful decision to expand my horizons and to get out of my comfort zone. No more playing it safe and always resorting to only familiar and comfortable things.

I found my true self during college. I tried new things with enthusiasm and put forth the best version of myself. Not every unique experience turned out the way I hoped it would, but I was no longer living in fear. Those feelings of empowerment made me feel better about myself, and people accepted me for me.

I went from a scared teenager to a confident adult—someone who could stand in front of a group of people and command their attention with an outgoing and fearless persona. Don’t get me wrong—I still am fearful in many situations, but I’ve learned that we feel best about ourselves when we embrace new challenges.

Why am I thinking about this today? Perhaps it’s because I’ve just accomplished one of my goals—the completion of the first draft of a middle-grade chapter book.

While I was teaching, one of my favorite things to do during a typical school day was to read to my students. Each day I got to be a performer and act out the voices of the authors’ characters. I could be brash, silly, humble, mean, or any other characteristic that I imagined the author intended. It was a rush to hook the kids into the plots and the characters. I always tried to leave them begging for more. “Don’t stop! Keep reading!” Those phrases were music to my ears.

When I was teaching, I made a decision that I was going to try and write a children’s book to recapture that feeling. Having taught many ages, I decided to target those children I was most familiar with—middle grades. After first writing a combination memoir/advice book for new teachers, I decided the time was right. I went to a writer’s conference, found a critique group, and I’m going for it. What started as a vision of 30,000 words became 50,000 when I finished the first draft.

I’m a realist—maybe this will never come to fruition, but I’m proud of myself for having the courage to go for it. Now I’ve moved into the rewriting and editing phases, and there’s still a ton of work ahead. While I self-published my first book, I’m inclined to try and go the traditional publishing route this time. I know—much longer odds and a lot more time to make it happen. (But hey, I’m retired.) If it doesn’t happen, at least I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I didn’t stand on the sidelines, and I gave myself a chance. Perhaps this will be too preachy for some, but my advice as a sixty-year-old to that scared teenager is, “Don’t let fear hold you back.”

©Pete Springer

About Pete Springer

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

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

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

About the book

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

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

One of the recent reviews for the book

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

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

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

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Connect to Pete

Website: Pete Springer WordPress
Facebook: Pete Springer
Twitter: @OfficerWoof

My thanks to Pete for his motivation to put into motion things that we might have been putting off for one reason or another. 2020 is an open book… just waiting for us to write on the empty pages.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves #Pre-Order for February 9th- Unarranged Marriage by Ritu Bhathal


Delighted to share the news of the new book on pre-order and due on February 9th by Ritu Bhathal… a novel Marriage Unarranged

About the book

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Head over and buy the book at the pre-order price of £2.99 for February 9th: Amazon UK

And at $3.91: Amazon US

Also by Ritu Bhathal

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Find out more about Ritu Bhathal and buy her books: Amazon UK

andAmazon US

Read more reviews and follow Ritu: Goodreads

Connect to Ritu:But I smile anyway

Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970’s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.

From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is mostly credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her own writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally gave her the encouragement to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.

A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was recently awarded The Best Overall Blog Award at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards in 2017.

Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the furbaby Sonu Singh.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/butismileanyway
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhantomGiggler

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will take advantage of the pre-order price for Ritu’s latest book due on February 9th.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – #Reviews – #psychologicalthriller Carol Balawyder, #Murdermystery Diana J. Febry, #War #Afghanistan Patricia Furstenberg


Welcome to the first of the author updates for the week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author is Carol Balawyder for her latest release Warning Signs: A Novel about Obsession.

About the book

Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her saviour from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together?

Detective Van Ray is out on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection.

Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological thriller about human frailty and loneliness.

One of the early reviews for the book

I always enjoy reading Balawyder’s novels; their emphasis falls as much on character introspection as it does storytelling. In “Warning Signs,” a young woman struggles to understand her jealous and cruel new boyfriend, a killer tries to discover what it is that makes him kill, and a detective bearing the scars of a botched arrest must regain his footing. Together the three of them unravel the interconnected threads of this psychological thriller. It’s a smooth read with fluid prose and a rich Canadian setting.

Buy the book: Amazon US

and : Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Carol Balawyder

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Carol on: Goodreads

Connect to Carol on her blog: Carol Balawyder

The next author with a recent review is Diana. J. Febry for the murder mystery Bells on her Toes.

About the book

A stand-alone mystery featuring DCI Peter Hatherall.
The police are baffled by the discovery of a stranger shot in the forehead in a disused barn. When people connected to Elmsgrove Racing Stables start turning up dead the race is on to uncover how the stranger is connected to the area and who is behind the murders.
The racing community is about to learn their deadliest enemy may be someone close. The quiet drinker in the corner of the pub may be a serial killer. And the crazy drunk may be the key to unlocking the mystery.

A classic murder mystery.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I’ve read several books by this author and haven’t been disappointed. Happily, this story entertained me as much as the others. It’s an English small village detective story with a mystery set in the world of horse racing with a death in a racing yard, and the author give a great insight into that world. Lead detective, Peter Hatherall, investigates the murder. There is an array of suspects and some red herrings but the author has done an excellent job giving the main ones plausible cause to commit murder. Working out ‘who done it’ as the mystery deepens and body count escalates is challenging for the detectives and the reader. Characters have been well created and the plot is well-paced and imaginative with numerous twists and turns, so there is a lot to keep tabs on but ultimately rewarding. Highly recommended.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK

and: Amazon US

A selection of other books by Diana J. Febry

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK

And on: Amazon US

Read many more reviews and follow Diana on: Goodreads

Connect to Diana via her Facebook page: Diana J. Febry

And the final author today  is Patricia Furstenberg with a recent review for her latest release  Silent Heroes. 

About Silent Heroes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the recent reviews for the book

Silent Heroes follows a group a US Marines on a mission in Afghanistan to remove a Taliban stronghold in the mountains. They’re a canine unit with war dogs trained to sniff out explosives.

I don’t know if the author served in the Middle East, but if she didn’t, her research is phenomenal. She provides vivid details about daily life during a deployment, as well as the complexities of carrying out a mission, dealing with the constant threat of IEDs (bombs), and working with the local population. Small details – like carrying lollipops in a medkit and assembling a birthday cake out of Rice Krispies and jam – made the story come to life.

There’s plenty of action, battles, explosions, rescues, and all-around danger. And plenty of heart, not only between the soldiers, but between the men and their dogs. The main characters are well-drawn with unique personalities and varying backstories. The civilian population is portrayed with a range of characters, young and old, some of them terrorized by the Taliban but also courageous in the face of fear.

The story is told in an omniscient point of view, and woven into the narrative is an overview of the political history of the country including interference by other nations, particularly Britain, Russia, and the US. That said, this isn’t a political book with a particular bias. It’s a human story about marines and their dogs on a mission. Highly recommended for readers of war stories.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

A small selection of other books by Patricia Furstenberg

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Patricia: Goodreads

Connect to Patricia via her blog: Alluring Creations

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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up 29th December to 4th January 2020 –


Welcome to the first round up of 2020 with a posts that you might have missed during the week.

It was a quiet Christmas and New Year for us and we enjoyed taking it easy and watching favourite movies and series again. Including the Millennium Trilogy featuring the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the first three books… in Swedish with sub-titles. Brilliant.

From January 13th we will be treated to the first of the new series by D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies on another of her areas of expertise… relationships. She is going to introduce the column and then she will begin the series in March on her return from her winter sunshine in Mexico. I am really looking forward to her insight and I am sure you will enjoy too.

 

Carol Taylor will also be changing her column from the 15th of January. There is one more cooking from scratch to prevent deficiency this coming week with Phosphorous as the nutrient in question… and then Carol will be featuring her A – Z of food every two weeks. She is going to be getting her cookbook and novel ready to be published this year (no pressure then Carol ♥) I think you will find you will be expanding your shopping list by the end of the year to include new and healthy foods to enjoy.

Silvia Todesco will also be continuing her column on Italian Cookery throughout the year and we will be starting the new series this coming Thursday with an essential ingredient to many pasta dishes and synonymous with Italian cookery… homemade pesto sauce.  Then a new dish every month for you to try and enjoy.

William Price King is of course going to be providing the music for the blog again this year with his extensive background in jazz, classical and contemporary music, we have been privileged to enjoy a masterclass every two weeks. I have always loved music and have discovered so many more artists to listen to and a better understanding of the different styles across the decades. William is back this coming Tuesday with the legendary Count Basie.

Time to catch up on the posts from the week.

My New Year’s Eve Post with special thanks to the contributors to the blog this year.

Happy New Year

A new series of Posts from Your Archives featuring two of your favourite posts from 2019.. full details in the post.

New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

I continue with the stories from What’s in a Name during the week.

Celia – Crisis of Faith

Clive – The Debt

David – In Remembrance

Diana – Full of Grace

Elaine – A Shining Light

Time for the first Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills of the year and this week we are offered the chance to write about a hutch… either as a piece of furniture or an animal hutch.

The Rabbit Hutch

The final posts in this year’s Christmas book fair with more of my recommended reads for 2019.  Here are just a handful that I recommend..you can find the rest in the post.

More Recommended books by Sally

Author update.

Marcia Meara, Karen Ingalls, Lorinda J. Taylor

Robbie Cheadle, C.S. Boyack, Eloise de Sousa

Mary Adler, Jane Sturgeon, Sally Cronin

Charli Mills, John W. Howell, James J. Cudney

Over the last year I gave up sugar in most forms including alcohol and am now three stone lighter and considerably fitter. This post is how I achieved that.

My year without sugar and the results

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

Even more funnies from Debby Gies and Sally

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope to see you again next week…Sally