Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Sunday Interview – Getting to Know #Romance author Laura M. Baird

Welcome to the blog for the first time to romance author Laura M. Baird who shares her love of country, music and tattoos, as well as one of the craziest and most detailed dream…First a little bit about Laura…

As one who grew up with a love of reading, I’ve turned that into a love of writing. And soon I hope to make that my full-time endeavor. I continue to practice dental hygiene – a career I’ve enjoyed for over 18 years.

I’ve been married twenty-eight years to my stud of a husband, and had the pleasure of raising two sons who make us proud.

Growing up on the East Coast in Florida, and after meeting my husband in Georgia while we both served in the U. S. Army, we call the West our home. After living in Idaho for many years, where hubby is from, Washington State is where we now reside. Traveling is a dream for us, as we have passports just waiting for stamps from Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, and Fiji!

Besides reading and writing, I enjoy music and movies, art and tattoos [both admiring as well as personally getting], staying active, watching football [NFL and Boise State], dark chocolate, and stalking my favorite authors on social media. To give you insight as to who I read and what I enjoy, here is just a sample of my favorites… Nora Roberts, Donna Grant, Laura Kaye, Laura Griffin, Laura Drewry, Robyn Peterman, Darynda Jones, Rachel Grant, Toni Anderson, Rebecca Zanetti, Elisabeth Naughton, Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick), Kerrigan Byrne, Cynthia St. Aubin, Tiffinie Helmer, Cindy Stark, R. L. Merrill, Ellay Branton, Sabrina York, Marlo Lanz, Rayanne Haines, Jasmine Silvera, Anna Alexander, Dania Voss, Lynn Burke, Anna Durand…Like I said, just a sample 😉

I write in many sub-genres of romance: contemporary, suspense, comedy, and erotic.

Before we look at some of Laura’s books, here are the questions that she has selected to answer.

Welcome to Smorgasbord Laura and can you describe the strangest dream you’ve ever had?

I’ve had MANY strange and vivid dreams since childhood; I could probably write dozens of novels from them. One in particular was extremely vivid and realistic, and as soon as I woke, I started scrawling what I remembered in the notebook I keep by my bedside. (Yes, I do that! Everyone should!) This was the impression I was left with from the dream: She wandered the halls aimlessly, knowing there was a purpose to her presence. But what? For the life of her, she couldn’t say, but a feeling she couldn’t ignore tugged at her subconscious – protection.

She was supposed to protect someone. Who? Why? And certainly, how? She was one person, and a normal one at that. But what was normal anymore? She had no special skills; unless you considered compassion a skill in this world turned cold and impersonal. She had no training in anything remotely associated with fighting or weaponry. Could intellect be her weapon? Or her shield? And how was she supposed to know this mysterious person? Would an incident occur prompting her to step in? Would someone cry out for help leaving her no choice but to act? Having no destination in mind, she stalled in an alcove, wondering what to do. Soft footfalls sounded to her right, and as she gazed in anticipation, a young man – a boy really – strolled by with not a care in the world. He smiled at her as if he knew she’d be standing right there. Behind the flash of his brilliant teeth, the gentle expression and softening of his eyes sent a jolt of awareness through her. He’s the one! – At some point, I know this will be incorporated into a story.

Do you prefer the big city or country life?

Definitely country life. I grew up in a small(ish) town, visited several big cities such as New York and Boston, and while I love to explore new places and see the eclectic offerings a city has, I love the feel of a small town and what the country has to offer. Early in my marriage, we lived in a town of about three thousand. The familiarity you gain with the people, waving to everyone because you know them is a comforting feeling. Everyone pretty much knows everyone.

And while that’s both good and bad, I like that most people could be counted on to help others. We were surrounded by foothills that were fun to explore, as well as a river that provided tubing, boating, and a few beaches to take the kids. Nature was at your backdoor, offering quiet and solitude, room to roam. We currently live a bit out of town on five acres, and it never gets tiring seeing deer, rabbits, elk, and a plethora of birds grace our yard.

If you could choose a different career, what would it be and why?

While pursuing my writing, I’ve been working as a dental hygienist for over eighteen years. But if I could do anything else, it would be to own and operate an animal sanctuary. I love dogs the most, but I’d be willing to take in any creature in need. That, of course, would mean employing people who knew how to properly care for an assortment of creatures, and that would also mean extensive income to provide for them. So if funds were unlimited, I’d be set!

I like to think of myself as a compassionate person, and hate to see any animal in distress. There are too many discarded pets and other creatures that need a place, plenty of room; those that for one reason or another either aren’t wanted or cannot return to live in the wild.

And while I understand the idea of zoos, it still troubles me to see restless animals behind bars, glass, and netting. I’m also an idealist, yet know the only way for some animals to survive and not reach extinction is to be raised in captivity. As sad as that may seem, is it better for them to have that life than no life at all? …and I’m getting all philosophical. So back to the positive, I’d love to give animals a place when they have no other place to go.

Have you ever played a musical instrument or sang in public?

Among my many loves is music; many genres. During childhood I played the piano, cornet (small version of a trumpet), bells, and “dabbled” with percussion, flute, and saxophone. A few years ago, hubby and I tried teaching ourselves to play acoustic guitar. Sadly, I didn’t maintain any of these practices. I donated my cornet to the high school band, and the guitar sits prettily by my bedside. While I’d love to say I’ll try again with any of these instruments, the fact is I’ll only think of them while I listen to music. Work and writing take up much of my time, and when not doing those, I’m trying to enjoy time with hubby or read a good book. Could I become disciplined enough to try again? Probably, but time is precious, and I enjoy writing too much. As for singing in public, I tried Karaoke once, had fun, and would love to sing more.

But if duets with hubby on car rides and impromptu concerts in our living room counts, then I’m definitely singing more. I would love to have the courage to sing our national anthem at one of our local ball games, but know the stress would work on me and I’d be that person that flubbed the lyrics. Therefore, I won’t dishonor that song, but I’ll sing along in the privacy of my home when it’s played on TV.

Sally here: Since Laura loves animals and singing in the car… I thought this video might inspire her to go public.

Do you have any tattoos and if so, where?

I developed an early fascination with tattoos, thinking beautiful artwork on a body was marvelous. It wasn’t until I was twenty-nine that I got my first, a cross and rose on my left shoulder, and thought, “What the heck was I thinking?! This hurts like #&*@!” Well, it didn’t stop me from getting more, and learning that different areas of the body feel much better to have tattooed. I currently have my left arm covered in a sleeve with images that reflect myself and my family: my father’s name surrounded by a heart and angel wings, along with a sand dollar and conch shell; a rose and three buds, for my mom, whose middle name is Rose, and my three siblings.

I have a fairy sitting on books, a daffodil, my birthday month flower, along with an orange blossom and Syringa, representing Florida and Idaho, where I spent most of my years. I also have a Celtic knot surrounding a heart, along with the Celtic zodiac symbols for my husband and two sons. My upper right arm has a tattoo that reflects my love of my Scottish heritage, along with a cutesy bee with a crown, as my hubby calls me his Queen Bee. On my lower right leg I have the start of my fantasy creatures with another fairy and unicorn. I’d love to get more, but my money goes to other priorities; namely promotion for my writing! 😉

Let’s have a look at Laura’s books starting with her latest book – In His Sights ( Shifter Clans Book 1)

About the book

Intelligence analyst Charity Masters is raising her niece after the death of her brother. If that isn’t enough to up-end her world, she’s pulled into a government project involving shifters, and a handsome distraction in the form of tempting hawk shifter, Mason. Although her strong personality has kept men at a distance, will she allow Mason close enough to appreciate the woman inside?

As clan leader of his Native American tribe, Mason Wegi wants to ensure their relationship with the government remains beneficial but well-contained. While focusing on a project involving human and shifter DNA experimentation, not only will he have to safeguard his people, but that of the alluring and willful beauty, Charity.

Will two people from different worlds come together for their happily-ever-after?

An early review for the book.

LAS Reviewer Good Reading January 31, 2019

Charity’s life had undergone a complete change when her brother died unexpectedly in a car crash, leaving Charity with guardianship of her six year old neice. Moving from DC to a small town in Arizona Charity is determined to give everything – including all her time – to Leah and make the small girls life as normal as possible. Mason loved the freedom being a hawk-shifter gave him. After noticing Charity, Mason had been learning everything he could about her. He was surprised to discover she was the sister of a man Mason and his team had been working with. With more questions than answers, both Charity and Mason discover they need to work together to try and uncover the truth.

I found this to be an interesting and well plotted story. There was quite a bit of information in the first part of the book, which I honestly thought was handled in a good way. While the author came close to some info-dumping I genuinely couldn’t see where it could have been pared back to keep the pace of the story moving faster. I personally felt that the background on Charity and how she found herself in the middle of Arizona with a new life and her young niece was important for the context of the story. Also – the history behind Mason – both his gifts, the shifter world he lived in and the unusual circumstances surrounding the work he was a part of – all was central to the main plot and the reader had quite a bit of background/information to catch up on. Thankfully, for my tastes, the author kept my interest with this transfer of information and helped me understand the situation – not just wanting to skim past it and get into the real meat of the story. I’m uncertain if other readers will feel the same with this, but I personally thought it was handled well

The mystery aspect of this plot – what, exactly, is being conducted in the research laboratory and the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the “accidental” death of Charity’s brother – are very strongly in the forefront of much of this book. Indeed, while I enjoyed the mutual attraction and chemistry between Mason and Charity throughout the book, a part of me wondered at times whether this might be a paranormal mystery book with a bit of romance, rather than an erotic romance book with a bit of a mystery in it. Particularly for the first half of the story I feel that the mystery and plot aspects certainly are on centre stage, with the romance, relationship building and other aspects of Charity and Mason’s growing connection taking a back seat. I’m uncertain this will appeal to readers looking for a strongly explicit, heavily erotic story. That said, Charity and Mason finally get their romantic relationship moving forward – both in the bedroom and out of it – in the last third or so of the story. When they do finally get there, I was pleased that Mason and Charity were as compatible inside the bedroom as outside.

With a very strong and wonderfully complex plot as well as a number of interesting and well-written characters I feel this is a very strong first book in the series. Readers who enjoy a complex mystery plot and a different sort of shifter story should find this book as enjoyable as I did.

Head over and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

A selection of other books by Laura M. Baird

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Laura on Goodreads:

Connect to Laura

Other online bookstores:

Thanks for popping in today and I know that Laura would love to hear from you and answer any questions. thanks Sally



Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Gardening, Farm antics, #Numerology and Apricots…guests, music and humour

Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed this week and it whilst snow causes havoc in the UK we have enjoyed cold but sunny days…. perhaps I shouldn’t talk too soon.

As always my thanks to those who have contributed their time and writing talent this week and also to you for popping in and keep the posts circulating.. It is much appreciated.

A repeat of Paul Andruss’s popular gardening column from last year.. this week an introduction and next week early spring bulbs.

This week I look at the health benefits of eating apricots and Carol Taylor includes them in recipes for all the family.

This week a look at the impact of constant change on the way we eat and how a child can suffer from chronic stress.

Down on the farm you need grit to cope with the guts… and poor Billy more than most..

Annette Rochelle Aben sets us on the right path with our universal energies for February

This week my guest is author Anne Goodwin sharing her swimming challenges, singing prowess and her preference for town or country…

The R’s of Life – Relations – the importance of the herd

It is 1999 Sam gets kittens, another job move for David and I start to work with an agent with music from Ricky Martin.

My response to or Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 121 and my prompt this week was this video…..

It is early February 1986 and I go with David up to Dallas for a couple of days and we visit South Fork ranch of the TV drama fame.

Author Update

The health benefits of rocking… not just for babies but as an aid to a good night’s sleep too. And I also take a close look at the stages of sleep, and why watching a horror movie last thing at night is not the best thing.. for anyone!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Good music, food, books, humour and great guests.

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts that you might have missed and I hope you have had a great week. This morning the sun is shining although it is cold. Being close to the south east coast we rarely get snow here, although last year it was an exception and it lasted a week. I know that some of you are facing extremely harsh conditions and whilst I may moan about the rain here in Ireland, we don’t have the extremes of weather that cause havoc.

It has been a busy week offline as I am back to writing everyday, posts for the blog and also new projects. One of those projects is to revive some of the stories and books that were started and then fell by the wayside. Apart from paper copies from long ago, there are also digital files that have been designated to a folder and then forgotten. I am enjoying reading stuff I wrote long ago, including some song lyrics from my 20s that have been lying dormant. I don’t remember the angst that I clearly felt when penning some of them, nor to be honest the people who caused such emotional outpourings!  Anyway, some of it will find its way into stories and poetry going forward and at least it won’t have gone to waste.

It is a lesson however, to make sure you do revisit previous stories or poems, as it is amazing how time, age and experience can bring new life to them.

Here are the posts from the week and as always my thanks to the team who contribute such amazing posts and for you for coming in to read and share them.

William Price King shares the life and music of Wee Pee Russell… Jazz Clarinettist

Carol Taylor, who is in the middle of her summer, kindly creates some winter warmers for those of us who are freezing…

This week my guest is American author Karina Bartow sharing her craziest experience, fashion sense and her love of country life.

The R’s of Life – Recognition

As a young manager over forty years ago, I was tasked to manage an established team who were all at least twenty years older than I was. I had already run my own business and also managed good-sized teams in the catering industry, but this was daunting. Thankfully I had been lucky enough to have worked for a wonderful manager, when beginning my career, who had given me a valuable piece of advice. That was to identify as quickly as possible, what motivated an individual member of staff and to develop a relationship based on the recognition of that motivation.

It is 1998 and we move into our new home in Ireland, find the dog of our dreams and I buy a business.. all to the beat of Shania Twain.

This week’s  Colleen Chesebro poetry challenge – Freezing and Tempest – My first attempt at a Butterfly Cinquain

The second part of our trip to New Mexico.. with a hike in McKittrick Canyon and a visit to the living desert.

This week the accumulation factor of food and life.

It is very easy to think that a couple of biscuits with coffee every morning and with tea in the afternoon, will not make any difference to your weight.. but the accumulation factor tells a different story. Over a year having four digestive biscuits a day adds up to 32lbs or nearly 15kilos in body fat! Having a healthy diet is not about giving up everything we enjoy, but moderating how much of it you eat.

Now that I have scheduled more time to write, I thought that I might join the many participants of the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge under the dedicated management of Charli Mills. It is a great exercise in brevity and I am looking forward to challenging myself. Here is my response… book on the shelves

Author update

Thank you again for being part of my week and for all your support.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with #children’s #wildlife author Denzil Walton

Please join me in welcoming children’s and wildlife author Denzil Walton who has recently published his latest in a series of wonderful books for children to encourage them to participate more in the natural world.

We will find out more about Denzil’s motivational writing a little later.. but first more about the author himself.

I am a freelance writer living near Leuven in Belgium. Originally from the UK, I have lived in Belgium for over 30 years. I am the author of four “Nature Walks Near Brussels” books and the creator of the popular Discovering Belgium blog. Most of my writing work is in the industry sector, but I am now working on a series of books under the theme “Encourage A Child”. The first ones focus on nature study, with titles such as Encourage A Child … to watch birds, study wild animals, enjoy creepy-crawlies, learn about trees, care for the planet.

Time to find out which of the questions Denzil has selected

Welcome to the blog Denzil and can you tell us about your craziest experience

When I was 22 years old I was unemployed, living in Manchester in an old and cold rented house, while trying to make a living as a freelance journalist. I wrote to my sporting hero, the Manchester United and England footballer, Steve Coppell, asking if I could interview him. To my total surprise not only did I get a reply, but he agreed to meet me! We met in the Old Trafford Grill Room, where we were served a pot of tea and scones. Mr. Coppell turned to me and said “Shall I be Mother?” and poured me a cup of tea. Sitting opposite my idol, drinking tea from fancy teacups and eating buttered scones was just too overwhelmingly surreal for me. I totally froze, and had great difficulty getting my questions out and noting down his replies. It wasn’t a total disaster though. The article was published in the Manchester Evening News and was one of my first journalistic successes.

Describe your worst online experience?

My day job is a technical copywriter, which involves, among other tasks, writing product brochures. Occasionally I will ask permission from a client to display a brochure on my website as an example of my writing skills. One particular client gave his permission for a certain brochure, which I put online. The next day he rang me up. He was furious! I had put the wrong brochure online. Instead of a brochure of an older product, I had put online a brochure I had just written – of a product that had not yet been launched! He was so angry because that product was due to be launched at a major – and expensive – press event; not on a freelance writer’s website. There would also be problems if the competition were to see it too. Of course I immediately removed it from my website, but getting Google to remove it was another thing altogether. Actually it was a nightmare. I had visions of being sued for millions of euros of lost sales. Thankfully the brochure eventually disappeared from online searches, without too much harm being done. But I had more than a few sleepless nights!

What is your favourite childhood song and why?

It’s the theme tune to my favourite children’s TV programme, “Tales of the Riverbank”. This involved live animals such as Hammy the Hamster and Roderick the Rat enjoying various adventures on toy boats or cars, with their voices narrated by the great TV presenter Johnny Morris. The original series ran from 1960-1963, and was in black-and-white. What’s interesting about the theme tune is that it’s not what you now normally associate with a theme tune for a children’s TV programme (i.e. something jolly, upbeat, with kid-friendly rhymes). It was a lovely piece of classical guitar music! Enjoy:

Do you prefer cats, dogs, or neither?

Dogs, most definitely, mainly because cats can be extremely harmful to the environment! Harsh words, but let me explain. The Mammal Society estimates that cats in the UK catch up to 275 million prey items a year such as mice, voles, shrews and birds. This is an extraordinary figure, and only relates to the number of prey items known to have been caught: not the additional number that cats didn’t bring home. I am not referring to house cats that seldom set foot outside, but to the ones that roam outside for much of the day. These are natural born killers, and their predative instincts are causing havoc to native wildlife. For this reason I will also take the opportunity to encourage parents to really think seriously before buying a cat for their children.

What is your favourite music genre and why?

Recently I rediscovered my love of music from the Alternative/Indie scene. I used to listen to a lot of bands in this genre when I was younger, but over the years I lost touch with the music scene. Now though, thanks to Apple Music and a pair of Bluetooth headphones that one of my daughters bought me for my birthday, I have been able to get up-to-date with the latest groups in this genre, which I love for its freshness, energy and vitality, as well as its originality. On my playlist at the moment are Tennis, Young The Giant, The Wandering Hearts, Local Natives, Real Estate, The Strumbellas, Saint Motel, and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, whom you can see in this video:

Encourage a Child to Watch Birds

“What’s that bird?” asks a child. “What’s it doing? Why are its feathers so colourful? Can we feed it? Where does it nest?” You would love to encourage the child in their interest … but you are not a birdwatcher, so how can you? Or an older child wants to learn birdsong, or study owls – but you are lost for ideas.

This is why “Encourage A Child To Watch Birds” is so valuable. It includes 10 Non-Screen Ideas to inspire a child to discover nature through watching birds. From studying the ducks in the park, through which books to read, how to choose a pair of binoculars, what food to put out for garden birds, why nest-boxes are necessary, how to listen to and learn birdsong, discovering what owls eat and other topics, you will now be able to inspire a child in the fascinating hobby of watching birds.

Why are the ideas “Non-Screen”? Children are active on screens for an increasingly large proportion of their lives. This book aims to activate children, sharpen their senses and show them the fun to be had AWAY from the screen.

Putting the ideas in this book into practice could help to develop a child’s powers of observation, improve their aural skills, introduce them to ecological concepts, teach them basic nature conservation practices – and increase their enjoyment of the natural world.

The book is backed up by Resources on the Encourage A Child website for each of the 10 Ideas, including photographs, hints & tips, links, reading lists etc.

One of the early reviews for the book

This little gem of a book is designed to help adults encourage children to get away from their computer screens and outside to watch birds. The book gives some good, basic facts about the birds you and your child might see and provides questions you can ask to encourage the child to watch the birds and talk about what they’ve seen. I know a bit about birds and still learned new facts, but this book makes it easy to start even if you know nothing at all about birds. The activities and discussion points are open enough that they’re suitable to use with a child of any age and you don’t need to live in the countryside to use this book – it focuses on parks and gardens, even apartment buildings. It begins with the easiest of activities – watching ducks on a pond – and progresses to things like how to use binoculars and dissecting owl pellets! The book is well-written, easy to understand and there is a sense of great enthusiasm for the subject throughout the pages. Thoroughly recommended to share with a child.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon US:

Read more reviews and follow Denzil on Goodreads:

Other books in the series available on Smashwords

Connect to Denzil Walton.


My thanks to Denzil for joining us today and I am sure he would be delighted to receive any questions and comments.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Who is referring others to your blog? Guests, music and laughter

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts you might have missed.

This week I got back into the swing of things and began the 2019 book promotions and the first of the Sunday Interviews. It was a terrific break but very happy being back to normal.

As always a huge thank you to my regular contributors and guests as well as the support on social media. Whilst managing the various platforms is time consuming and sometimes distracting, it was interesting to see, when I looked at the year’s analytic data, where the most referrals were generated from.

At the top end of the list and accounting for approximately 50% of the referrals out of 221,000 views:

  1. WordPress Reader.
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  5. Other search engines.

The other 50% were referrals from individual bloggers.

This confirms a few things to me:

  1. That WordPress Reader is a very powerful promotional tool for promoting not just our own posts but also when we reblog and ‘press’ posts we enjoy by other bloggers. Since people browse the Reader looking for posts that are interesting, it is well worth making sure you titles and the short summary at the top of your post catch their eye.
  2. That my time spent on Twitter and Facebook is not wasted!
  3. That using key words and tags on blog posts gets results from search engines. (but need to do better)
  4. That connecting and becoming part of a supportive community is essential to the success of a blog.

A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to share the posts this year directly to their own blogs which resulted in referrals and to all of you who took the time to like, share on social media and comment.

This week William Price King shared the life and music of the legendary Duke Ellington.

This week Carol Taylor shares her favourite recipes of 2018… and they look delicious.

D. G. Kaye – Debby Gies shares a recap of her 2018 travel column with a reminder of the places you might like to visit on vacation.

Welcome to the first of a new season of Getting to Know You and my first guest for 2019 is Australian author Frank Prem who has recently released a collection of poems and short stories about his childhood – Small Town Kid.

I was delighted to review Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration by Colleen M. Chesebro.

I wrote the original Size Matters in 1998 about my 150lb weight loss… I did update when the book went digital but that was several years ago. After working as a nutritional therapist for the last 20 years, and having continued to research and study food and its role in our health, I decided that it was time to write the sequel.

It is 1996 and it is a year of change with a move to Brussels and Anthony Robbins Life Mastery.

I am had fun with Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 118 with the synonyms this week of ‘Begin’ and ‘Fresh’

It is now 1986 and both David and my father have their birthdays back to back. We are also making plans for a day trip and a much longer road trip over to New Mexico.

New on the shelves this week.

Author update with recent reviews

The Gentle Detox

As part of a gentle detox it is useful to employ the power of nature as a cleanser for your liver and kidneys. Dandelion is powerful and has many health benefits.

It is a good idea to complete a gentle detox to find out what food triggers or environmental contaminants might be causing you to suffer from allergies or health issues.

Thank you very much for dropping in today and for your continued support. It keeps me motivated to keep writing.. thanks Sally.



Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You 2019

Welcome to the Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You 2019

The return of the Sunday interview is about to start next week with three guests already lined up for January. I hope that you will accept my invitation to participate in the this year’s interviews.

As writers we tend to share aspects of our work in interviews, such as our blog posts, books and characters, and that is very important. However, sometimes we don’t get to share some of the other aspects of our personalities.

In last year’s Getting to Know You interviews we found out some different and very interesting facts about authors and bloggers that we bump into every day here and on social media. It was a lot of fun..

**If you would like to participate again.. no problem… just answer five different questions from your first interview.

There are over 50 questions to choose from about life, love, humour, travel, ambitions and embarrassing moments!

You can select any five questions and the only proviso is that the answer is 100 words or longer. Feel free to express yourself as this is an opportunity to showcase your talent.

It is an opportunity to show us your writing skills, sense of humour, best life moments and the worst, and things you might wish for. Since this is also an opportunity to promote your creative work, I will of course top and tail with an intro, your bio, examples of your blog, books, artwork, photography and your social media links. For most of you that have featured here before, I have those details on file or can find them. If you are new to the blog, I may have to come back to you for more information.

  • All you have to do is pick Five questions, answer them with a minimum of 100 words ( use as many as you need) remembering that this is your showcase especially as a writer – you want people to head over and follow your blog and buy your books.
  • Send the five questions and your answers to me in a word document or in an email to
  • Please feel free to add an illustration (two or three is fine) Please do not embed in the document but attach to the email.
  • If you are new to the blog, then please send your main website or blog link and I will check that out for the information that I need.

It is a first come, first serve basis so you need to get your entry in as quickly as possible (after due thought and consideration of course!).

The post will be promoted across my social media and will be my pinned tweet for the following week.

A couple of things that I would ask from you to help promote the post as far and wide as possible.

  • To reblog or share across your own social media.
  • To respond to each comment individually (it does encourage people to visit your blog and buy your books or other work for sale.
  • To pop in from time to time over the following week to check on later comments.

Here are the questions for you to choose 5 from the 52.  To give you an idea of how the post will look, I will follow the questions with one of the recent interviews from 2018.

  1.  Describe one most embarrassing moment of your life.
  2. Which is the most valuable thing you have lost and did you ever find it?
  3. Tell us about your craziest experience.
  4. Do you have a phobia and do you remember how it started?
  5. If you were to become invisible for a day what is the one thing you would do?
  6. If you were granted three wishes what would they be?
  7. What was the funniest moment of your life?
  8. Describe your worst online experience?
  9. Tell us about your partner’s likes and dislikes.
  10. How would you describe your fashion sense?
  11. What are the five things that you would always find in your handbag or briefcase?
  12. What is the one ambition that you still have not achieved?
  13. What is the one item that you paid a lot of money for but have never used or regretted buying?
  14. Describe the strangest dream you’ve ever had.
  15. Which famous person would you like to be marooned with on a desert island with?
  16. Have you got a secret talent nobody knows about?
  17. What do you consider to be the best dish that you prepare – and have you the recipe?
  18. If you could get rid of one household chore, what would it be?
  19. What is your favourite childhood song and why (do you have a Youtube link for it)?
  20. What is your favourite holiday and why?
  21. If you could be any action hero, who would it be?
  22. What is your favourite TV show and why?
  23. What is your least favourite thing about family parties?
  24. What is something you look forward to when you retire?
  25. What was the one thing you could never learn how to do no matter how hard you tried?
  26. Do you prefer the big city or country life?
  27. Where is your favourite holiday destination and why?
  28. What was the worse holiday you ever had and why?
  29. What are your favourite or weird pizza toppings?
  30. If you could choose a different career, what would it be and why?
  31. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  32. If animals could talk, which one would you have a conversation with?
  33. Knowing now, what you didn’t know then, what would you have done differently?
  34. Are you a morning person or a night person?
  35. What is your favourite ice cream flavour or combined flavours?
  36. If you were given a million dollars what would you do with it?
  37. What is your favourite sport and have you won medals or an award for it?
  38. Have you ever played a musical instrument or sang in public?
  39. Do you prefer the beach or the mountains and why?
  40. What does it take to make you angry?
  41. Do you prefer cats, dogs, or neither?
  42. What is your favourite music genre and why?
  43. Did you have a nickname as a child and if so, what was it?
  44. If you only had two minutes to get out of your house, what would you grab?
  45. What is your favourite vegetable and how do you like it prepared?
  46. What do you like to put on your toast?
  47. What season is your favourite and why?
  48. What is your favourite month and why?
  49. Of all the books that you have read, what is your favourite and why?
  50. How many different languages can you speak and what are they?
  51. Do you have any tattoos and if so, where?
  52. What is one thing (moral or practical) your grandparent taught you how to do that you still do today?

And here is an interview from last year that gives you an idea of what your post will look like...I will add in some surprises, such as videos as appropriate.. and illustrations if needed.

Thank you for joining me today and I am sure that many of you already are connected to children’s author Robbie Cheadle, who writes story and cookbooks in the Sir Chocolate series with her equally talented son Michael.. The exciting news is that Robbie will be publishing a new book later this year set in wartime Britain, While the Bombs Fell. We can also expect another new release as part of a YA supernatural/horror series under the name of Roberta Eaton. Exciting times ahead.

Before we get to know Robbie a little better, here is the official word on this talented author and poet.


Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books

More about Robbie and Michael’s books a little later, now it is time to find out which of the questions Robbie has decided to respond to.

How would you describe your fashion sense?

I never really thought I had any fashion sense as I have a blatant disregard for fashion. My Mother, however, says that I do have a fashion sense, it just isn’t really like anyone else’s. She says it is quaint and quirky.

I am a chartered accountant by training. People have a perception of chartered accountants, especially the women, as having a very conservative way of dressing. Grey, black and navy suits are what come to mind, with formal shirts or blouses, nylons and high heeled court shoes.

I have never favoured these colours or suits of any description. I like to wear colourful and bright clothes in yellows, pinks, pale blues and oranges. During the summer I wear full skirts with frilly, tight fitting tops and flat ballet-style shoes. Alternatively, I wear short dresses with high heeled shoes and no nylons. I love cardigans and have at least 50 in my cupboard. I have a cardigan for every occasion.

Sally here: I found this lovely photo of Robbie on Facebook at a book show wearing a beautiful red dress.

During the winter I like to wear slim fit trousers in bright colours or which sport flowery patterns. I wear long shirts over these trousers with a jersey or cardigan, colourful scarf and often short boots.

Even my hair no longer behaves itself and has gone quite wavy over the past few years. I wear it quite long now and often loose and wavy with a clip to keep it out of my eyes. No short and sharp power haircuts for me.

What do you consider the best “cake” that you prepare – and have you the recipe?

The most popular cake I make is a moist and rich chocolate cake. It is best made in a deep tin. It is not ideal for fondant icing but, as it is my family’s favourite, I often use it, together with a lovely milk vanilla cake recipe, to make a marble cake which is suitable for fondant icing.

I made a short video of how to make the rich chocolate cake which gives the ingredients. I don’t like making videos, partly because my son, Gregory, never seems to have time to do the filming and editing now that he is in high school, and partly because I often do my baking early in the morning when he wouldn’t be around anyway and I am still in my pyjamas. I have never fancied marketing myself as a pyjama-clad baker.

Sally here: You can find a number of tutorial videos on Robbie’s Youtube channel but I have to admit that I was very engaged in her video on how to make my favourite…. Choc Chip Cookies.

What is your favourite childhood song and why?

When I was a young girl we did not have a television in our home. I had to entertain myself by reading books and listening to my Mom’s record collection on her old and battered record player. Before she gave birth to me, my Mom used to enjoy to go to the theatre in London as often as possible. She would buy the record of the Broadway production after the show. She had a huge collection of Broadway records. I loved these records. I used to listen to them over and over again and I learned all the words and would sing along. My younger sister, Cath, also joined me quite often and she also learned the words. Our favourites were Mame, Cabaret, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music.

When my family moved into our new house and my parents moved into the cottage on the same property, my Mom gave her records to me. I still keep them in the old trunk she brought with her from England when we first came out to South Africa when I was a little girl. I often pull them out and listen to them and sometimes the boys come and listen to.

Their favourite is The Warrior from the South African musical Ipi Ntombi.

What is something you look forward to when you retire?

I harbour a hope that when I retire, I will finally have the time to do all the things I want to do. At the moment, I work full time in a demanding job, help my boys with their homework, projects and studying and also write poetry and prose, bake and make my fondant figurines. As a result, I am always frantically busy and never seem to get everything done that I want too. I hope when I retire this will change a bit but it may not as I may just find new projects to take on.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

I would love to live in England. I love the history and the literature that you find in England. I am not an outdoors person, preferring to spend my time doing fondant art, writing and reading to being outside. I try to squeeze in a bit of walking and pilates for health reasons but it is not a primary love.

I have travelled the UK a bit and my favourite areas are around Canterbury. I love the castles, Cathedral and other historical and religious points of interest. I feel quite familiar with this area now which is an added attraction.

I also enjoy Reading and the surrounding areas. I did enjoy Suffolk, and we have lots of family there, but I think if we moved we would need to be either close to London or Reading from a work perspective.

And I hope Robbie achieves her retirement dream and ends up living in the UK… and I thought that to end her interview I would share one of her music choices with this snippet from My Fair Lady.

Time to take a closer look at books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

About Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook.

Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet get sugar water from the Sugar Crystal Caves to make delicious goodies for their shop. Unfortunately something is making the crystals melt. What can Sir Chocolate do? Includes four lovely new recipes.

One of the recent reviews for Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves.

This latest adventure of Sir Chocolate contains some of the most beautiful decorations in the series so far – the Chrystal Cave must have taken ages to construct and the other fondant figurines are lovely. The recipes are ideal for children as it shows them to make aeroplanes and wind mills with wafer biscuits. Sir Chocolate and Lade Sweet embark on another adventure to make sure that the sugar crystals won’t melt and they would still be able to make cool drinks for the inhabitants.

Other books by Robbie Cheadle

One of the recent reviews for While the Bombs Fell.

While WWII raged in England and the men left home and battled enemy forces, the bombs fell and the women and children left behind took care of the business of living. We rarely get the inside story of what it was like for the mothers and daughters; grandmothers and aunts and sisters, who had to find a way to get enough food on the table to survive, to stay warm during those cold winters with no fuel for the furnace or fireplace, to walk to the privy in cow dung and ice. Robbie Cheadle writes the story from her mom’s perspective, Elsie, when she was a child and lived through WWII.

The stories remind us how spoiled we are now with our lives, and how comparatively weak. Those in the English countryside during the war needed to be hearty and strong to survive. Yet, they also found ways to have fun and to stay strong within their circle of family and friends. A loving tribute to what it was like for those left behind, “while the bombs fell.”

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Robbie on Goodreads:

Connect to Robbie and Michael


Look forward to Getting to Know you better… thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Dorinda Duclos

It is my pleasure to welcome Dorinda Duclos to the blog, and I look forward to getting to know her a little better. Apart from enjoying her published collections, you can find wonderful poetry on her blog. Here is one of her recent posts: Evening Delight

First here is the official biography…….

About Dorinda Duclos

Dorinda Duclos is a writer of poetry, sharing her life experiences in verse. She is also the author of the blog, Night Owl Poetry, and has amassed a following of fellow poets, writers and artists, and is highly recognized in social media. She is a member of the Poetry Society of America and the Academy of American Poets, as well as a guest writer on

She was also involved in “Poets for Peace”, a collaboration of poems from poets around the world. This collaboration is now archived in the ‘Stanford University Archive’ of the ‘100,000 Poets for Change’ collection!

A wife and mother of two, Dorinda makes her home in northern New Jersey, surrounded by wildlife, and nature’s beauty, all inspiration for her poetry.

Her books include: #Seasons – Autumn Haiku Book One”, “Dark is the night – A Poetry Chapbook”, “Passages and Paths – A Journey of Life through Poetry” – “How Shall I Dream – A Collection of Poetic Musings” – “A Flight of Imagination” (Realm of Fantasy) – “A Flight of Imagination (Illusion of Fantasy) -“A Flight of Imagination” (Spirit of Fantasy) – “Pieces of Life – A Poetry Collection” – “Marrow of the Soul” and “Night Owl Poetry”.

I will share more about Dorinda’s books after the interview but now to find out which questions she has selected to answer.

Sally, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to tell you a little about myself and my likes and dislikes. I do hope you enjoy what you read.

You are very welcome Dorinda, and perhaps you can tell us what is the one ambition that you still have not achieved?

Finishing my WIP. It has been well over a year, and as some may tell you, I’m a procrastinator. It stems from a lack of self-confidence. I always question myself as to why I’m actually doing something. For those who “suffer” like this, it’s hard to accept a compliment from others without wondering if they’re just being nice. We never seem to realize, or I should say I, that they are very sincere in what they say. But, I am working on that aspect of my life. It’s a slow go at 57, but I keep reminding myself, the turtle won the race. As for my WIP, titled “Devil’s Pond”, I am hoping to finish it up over the summer/early autumn. Then it’s editing time, getting feedback, and hoping for the best outcome any author dreams of. Hearing someone say, “Wow, this is really good!” (Hopefully, I’ll believe them!)

Here is a synopsis of the book:

They were inseparable. Five young friends whose sense of adventure usually got them into trouble. This time was no different. Venturing out into what would turn out to be a stormy night, they headed for an area they were told was off limits. The sand lot was a forbidden place, a place no one spoke of, where no one dared step foot on, until now. Intrigue ruled out over warnings and a game of hide and seek commenced. Until one remained hidden.

As the storm bears down on them, they run, frightened for themselves and their missing friend. Not caring about the consequences that would await them, they quickly gather their parents to explain. But something is wrong. Baffled, the children wonder why Father Tom is the one to arrive first. Why isn’t anyone calling the police? How will their friend ever be found? And what price will they pay for getting too close to Devil’s Pond?

What is your favourite TV show and why?

This is an easy one for me. “Blue Bloods”. I believe the draw is the whole family life. While they are policemen, or prosecutors, or just the children and Pop, they are human. They experience things the same way any other family might. The icing on the cake, the Reagan family dinner!! How I would love to be a guest at that table. The words of wisdom imparted on everyone is inspiring. Yes, I know it’s a scripted show, but someone has these thoughts, right? Plus, I’ve always loved Tom Selleck, from his Magnum PI days, through Las Vegas and now Blue Bloods. I guess you could say I’m a fan! The fact that the show takes place in NYC makes it that much better. Growing up in Brooklyn, then later in NJ, I can relate to the places where the show is filmed.

Sally Here: It just so happens that I am a huge Tom Selleck fan and have watched all the Magnum P.I. series and Blue Bloods… so for both of us here is Tom in action in a film that I enjoyed too… courtesy of Movieclips

Do you prefer the big city or country life?

This is a tricky one. I love the city, the lights, the people, the atmosphere, but only sometimes. I’m not one to go into New York every weekend, jumping from hot spot to hot spot. If I go in, it’s a concert, or the zoo. There is always a plan or specific reason. On the other hand, the country can be quite serene and calming, depending upon where you are.

My ultimate place to be is the mountains, preferably the Poconos. I can’t get enough of the beautiful lakes and mountains throughout. Breathing in the clean air, communing with nature, that’s my kind of life. We, hubby and I, usually spend vacations there, but haven’t been in a couple of years. This just may trigger a desire, or more of a need, to make vacation plans.

Are you a morning person or a night person?

I never was and never shall be a morning person! I love the night. It’s how my blog got its name, Night Owl Poetry. I write in the wee hours. I find I have more inspiration in the night. Shadows grow, and I can always see something in them. It fascinates me to no end. My poetry leans towards the darker sides of life. As a child, I was victim to domestic violence (not physically, but it left emotional scars), and my daughter is a domestic violence survivor. I will draw from that, and become the voice of the so many who cannot speak for themselves. And while I try to find the light in other writings, the dark will always be my best friend. As sad as that may sound, it is also comforting, as it is a way for me to release the demons I’ve kept inside for so many years.

I am also a sky watcher. I look for the planets, the constellations, and mostly the moon. My second love, after writing, is photography. I adore taking pictures of the moon, being able to see the craters and wondering what it might be like to live there. I’d love to visit the footsteps of the first astronauts, and snap a photo of the American flag. Can you imagine being able to look down on Earth, with the swirls of clouds and the blues of the oceans? I envy the astronauts on the ISS. I never gave a thought to becoming an astronaut, for two reasons. I am claustrophobic and I have a fear of heights. So I will remain on Earth, feet planted on the ground, and watch the dazzling night show above me, every chance I get.

Sally here: I found this lovely video which shows a starry night in the skies above Malaysia courtesy of gradient lok

Have you ever played a musical instrument or sang in public?

Yes! To both. I played the clarinet for 4 years, in elementary school. It could account for being long winded at times. My parent bought me a guitar, so I taught myself, with Kenny Rogers’ “Quick pickin’, fun strummin’” lessons. It was a great feeling of accomplishment, that I was able to do something on my own. However, I can no longer play due to the after effects of Transverse Myelitis. It left me with minimal use of my left hand and part of my right. I can still type, so I can write, but I sometimes lose the feeling, so pressing a chord, as well as letters on the keyboard, is impossible. My only musical regret is that I wish I had learned the piano. My mom and my husband played, and now there are two pianos collecting dust. It’s kind of sad to look at.

In 4th grade, I had a duet in the spring concert with my friend Mary Jane. It was a wonderful experience. I again had a duet part in 5th grade, not as memorable. I was a member in a rock band that never got off the ground due to conflicting personalities.

Now my only singing engagements are in the shower, or in my car, listening to the radio, which recently has died. I’m hoping it’s just a fuse. Otherwise, I’ll really be singing to compensate for the silence. I’m pretty sure my family will be wearing ear plugs! I have tried karaoke, once, but never had the desire to do it again. Now I go to listen to my friends. I enjoy that more. If I had the opportunity to sing again, I would most likely turn it down. This is due to a hearing loss in both ears, but worse in the left. I can’t always hear when I hit a sour note! But you can bet I’m told 😆

My thanks to Dorinda for sharind so much about her life and experiences and I am only sorry that I couldn’t find a video on YouTube of her singing for you……..But, we do have Dorinda’s extensive collection of books to enjoy…

A selection of books by Dorinda Duclos

About Night Owl Poetry

Poet and author Dorinda Duclos shares her life experiences and thoughts, with you, through her poetry. In this book, you’ll find love, life, fantasy, fiction, sorrow and happiness. A vast view of one woman’s vision of the world surrounding us.

One of the reviews for the collection.

I purchased a copy of the Night Owl Poetry for myself to read in the morning time when I am reading on the sofa while also enjoying drinking my vanilla latte. I find that all of the poems inside this book were wonderfully written and the poems focus towards the young adults to adult readers. She has a variety of poetry in her book, but my favorites are “Believe,” “Daddy’s Little Girl,” and “The Cherry Tree Haiku.” Those poems stood out the most to me and were the most meaningful to me in my life right now. Thank you for writing such a lovely poetry book and I will be sure to share this with others.

All the books including signed copies can be purchased through Dorinda’s website: Book Page

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Dorinda on Goodreads:

Connect to Dorinda


Thank you very much for dropping in today and I am sure that Dorinda would love to receive your comments and your questions… thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Janice Spina

Delighted to welcome award-winning children’s and thriller writer Janice Spina to the blog today to share the questions she has chosen to answer so that we can get to know her a little better.

Janice has been a long-term supporter of my blog and I am sure many of yours and always brightens my day when she visits.

Before we find out what Janice has to say, a look at the official biography for his lovely lady.

About Janice Spina

Janice Spina is an award-winning author with eleven children’s books, Louey the Lazy Elephant, Ricky the Rambunctious Raccoon, Jerry the Crabby Crayfish (won Pinnacle Book Achievement Award), Lamby the Lonely Lamb (won the Silver Medal from MOM’S Choice Awards), and Jesse the Precocious Polar Bear, Broose the Moose on the Loose (won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award), and Sebastian Meets Marvin the Monkey, and Colby the Courageous Cat. Jeffrey the Jittery Giraffe, Clarence Henry the Hermit Crab Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series (Book 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) is a middle-grade/preteen series.

Book 1, The Case of the Missing Cell Phone (won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and an Honorable Mention from Readers’ Favorite Awards). Book 2, The Case of the Mysterious Black Cat, won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and Book 3, The Case of the Magical Ivory Elephant, also won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and Book 5 won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and a Silver Medal from Authorsdb Cover Contest.

Janice has published three novels under J. E. Spina, Hunting Mariah, a thriller/mystery, Mariah’s Revenge (Sequel to Hunting Mariah) a paranormal/mystery/romance novel, How Far Is Heaven, and a short story collection, An Angel Among Us, all available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is working on a children’s book, and a mystery series for YA girls to be published in 2018. She needs to edit a YA fantasy series which will be published in 2019 and beyond. Her husband is her illustrator and cover creator.

Now it is time to unveil the stories that Janice has chosen to share with us.

What is your favorite holiday destination and why?

Every year my husband and I travel to Aruba. This is by far our favorite place to vacation. If you have been there, you would, I’m sure, agree. Many people I’ve met who have vacationed in Aruba come back again and again. It’s addictive, the beautiful beaches, the gorgeous turquoise water, the fabulous food, the perfect weather, and the warm and friendly people.

Each year we return the Aruban people welcome us “home”. It certainly feels like a home away from home. When we leave they open their arms and exchanged hugs and warm wishes until we return again next year.

We have met lovely people and made some wonderful friends who we see each vacation. We go out together for dinners, hang out on the beach, soak in the water, solve the problems of the world, and have parties under our palapas (wooden huts or umbrellas). Just talking about it makes me nostalgic. Can’t wait to go back! Sigh!

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains and why?

That’s a difficult question for me. I love them both. When I am in Aruba, it’s the beach. When I am home in New Hampshire, I love to visit the mountains, smell the crisp clear air, take long walks and enjoy the beauty, serenity, and majesty of the mountains. It’s the one place I feel closer to God.

We went to the mountains last year for my niece’s wedding overnight. It was glorious! The weather was in the fall, cool the first night but warm like summer the night of her wedding. It was a fantastic weekend with family, good food, and a gorgeous setting – an unforgettable view on top of Loon Mountain with the changing colors of the surrounding foliage in brilliant reds, oranges and yellows.

Have you ever played a musical instrument or sang in public?

I have never played a musical instrument in public but fiddle around on my keyboard with one hand. I’ve have been trying to teach myself how to play for the past several years. Still haven’t learned more than how to place my right hand on the keys. I guess I am too busy with my writing, publishing and everything else that goes with it.

I have, however, sang in a choral group, part of the Sweet Adeline’s International Chorus out of Manchester, NH for about six months. We sang at a few local venues in NH. It was fun but I had to leave due to eye problems and driving at night. I love to sing but now limit my singing to the shower, in the car, while washing dishes or singing Happy Birthday to relatives. They can’t stop me then! Ha!

Sally here: This is an amazing International organisation, unfortunately I could not find a specific video for the Manchester chapter of the Sweet Adeline’s but here is an example of the standard of performance.

Have you got a secret talent that nobody knows about?

Well, that is funny. I used to do the limbo and won a contest in Aruba one year and another time on a cruise ship. It’s been years since I could get down without having trouble getting back up again!

My other secret talent is hula hooping. I can still do it for hours on end. I won local contests for keeping it going the longest at a local function hall and on cruise ships. I am known locally at this function hall as the hula hoop queen! Of course that was years ago! I am only hula hoop queen now in my own mind!

Sally here: If ever you feel like taking this amazing talent up again Janice, I am sure that you would be as popular as this artist….

    Coral Jade

What is your favorite childhood song and why?

When I was just a little girl I sang along as my grandfather played the mandolin. If you ever heard the beautiful sound of the mandolin, you would want to cry. It produces a magical sound like an angel singing. It even made me sound better than I did then. I haven’t thought about this song in years. It’s nice to bring back these special memories of my grandfather.

My grandfather was a talented musician. He played in a group and sang and my grandmother would often sing along with him. When we got together he would always ask me to sing with him as he played. I was thrilled to spend time with him in that way. No one else in my family enjoyed singing as much as I did and I did it every chance I could get.

The song I sang was, Que Sera Sera.

Thank you so much for having me on your fabulous blog, Sally. I enjoyed answering your five questions. They brought back happy memories in my life.

Janice is a prolific children’s book author and here are some of her books, including her latest release.

Janice’s latest book, illustrated as always by her husband John is Abby & Holly School Dance, book one of a brand new series, a spin off from Davey and Derek Junior Detectives.

About Abby & Holly School Dance

This is Book 1 of a series of Abby & Holly books. These two girls were first introduced in Book 5 of the Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series.

The girls are first cousins on their mothers’ side. They moved to the quiet town of Lindon, New Hampshire and live in a grand old Victorian which is haunted.

The cousins are excited about attending the 6th grade dance. When their friend, Justine, is bullied, Abby and Holly, along with the help of a ghost and Davey & Derek, work together to formalize a plan to put a stop to the bullying.

One of the recent reviews for the book

I loved Janice Spina’s new book “Abby and Holly, School Dance.” The writing style made you feel like you were enjoying the adventures of Abby, Holly and their friends. You’re sure to smile at the twins Derek and Davey’s shyness around Abby and Holly. It’s a delightful story. Trouble comes when one of their classmates, Justine, mysteriously becomes sick. How is the mystery solved? When Justine is bullied, how does the group of friends encourage the bullies to change their behavior. This is an enjoyable book teaches, families, and teens are sure to love and they are likely to remember not only the entertaining adventures, but the important message the story shares. Another wonderful book by Janice Spina.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and on Amazon UK:

A small selection of children’s books by Janice Spina

Also as J.E. Spina

Discover all of Janice Spina’s books, read the reviews and buy

and on Amazon UK:

Find more reviews and follow Janice on Goodreads:

Connect to Janice


Thank you for dropping in today and I know that Janice would love to hear from you and answer any questions.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Traci Kenworth

Welcome to Getting to Know You and this week my guest is Traci Kenworth who is incredibly supportive of the blogging community and has regularly shared posts from here in her comprehensive blog post promotions. If you head over to her blog you will find several shared posts a day leading to some of our most interesting bloggers. She also has her own posts on blogging and writing tips.

Traci lives in Northeast Ohio with her son and daughter and four cats. She writes YA Fantasy, Scary, and Historical Romances and is a a member of YAFF (Young Adult Fiction Fantatics). As you will see from Traci’s interview, there have been some dark and challenging times in her life, and she credits writing and her faith as being instrumental in giving her purpose and helping her move forward.

The heroines that she writes about are created from those times and are survivors surrounded by those that they love.

I want to give others hope, and a way back when they think everything is lost.”

She is currently working on her finished books and hopes to publish soon. Traci contributed the story ‘Linked’ to the anthology edited by Mary Blowers.

One of the reviews for the anthology

This is a special collection. Combining a variety of authors and works. Mostly poems and short stories that are written with the reader in mind. The author’s in this collection want to give the reader a feeling of being emotionally touched and they have succeeded. Although the title infers dreams and vision the reader will also a find a section of nightmares. My personal favorite! No matter what you like this showcase will let readers find a variety of great artists with wonderful tales that may bring out the goosebumps and lift the spirits. The collection is well put together and one readers will want to have handy to read again and again!

You can buy the anthology of 38 poems and stories here: Amazon US  and Amazon UK

Now time to find out which of the 52 questions Traci has selected to answer today.

Welcome Traci and can you let us know what is your favourite holiday and why?

My favorite holiday would be Halloween. I like the character of it, I think. It’s all dress up and scares. Nothing serious, mind you! I just like the costumes, the parties, the treats, the feeling that you’re sharing in the fun with everybody. My family puts on their own private party with Witch’s Brew complete with hand ice sculpture, Spider cupcakes, Eyeball cookies, and bloody tacos. There’s various other treats and food but that’s all I can think of at the moment, lol.

It’s not just the food though, it’s followed by/with a Halloween Marathon where we watch scary movies. We use a hat to see which one gets picked. The event usually lasts 24hrs. and we do it on days the kids have off, so we don’t have to worry about getting up the next morning too early.

Sally here: I hope this gives all of you a bit of a fright….. and will be added to Traci’s next 24 hour Halloween Marathon.

If you only had two minutes to get out of your house, what would you grab?

I would grab my flash drives as they contain my works. My computer is too big to carry but I could replace that if I had to. I would also take my photos. I have so precious few of them. More from the times after we moved here, just stacks and stacks of things. I saved a LOT of the projects my kids did in school. I have treasure-holds of boxes with everything. So, if I could manage to carry just a few of them if nothing else that would be awesome. I’d take my purse, of course. First, for the phone, then all the important stuff it holds. I would like to take my fire safe box but that should survive, hopefully. Oh, and of course, my cats! I’d have to keep them in my car until help arrived since I only have two carriers and four of them. Yeah, I need to get more carriers!

Knowing now, what you didn’t know then, what would you have done differently?

Another hard one. I could pick so many things I wish I’d done differently but the truth is, they would’ve changed me if I did. I might not have had my two wonderful children if I risked not meeting my ex or going through the abuse that we did.

I think one thing, I would pick for sure though: would be college. I only got to go for a year-and-a-half. I couldn’t drive at that point and so transferring to a school closer to home wasn’t an option. That would be number two on the change list: driving sooner. It opens the world for you and had I not known how to drive when the abuse cycle came to its climax, well, I don’t want to think what would’ve happened. I thank God that my aunt left me a car just before things started going sideways. But back to why I’d say college: a better job, more choices. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten hurt at work and ended up on disability after PTSD and the bipolar triggered.

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

My grandpa taught me how important family is and that you always take care of each other. My mom has passed on this tradition as well. If one of us needs help from the other, we ask. My family was extremely supportive of me and the kids when they found out about my ex, what was going on, what we’d been through. They let me stay at their house, took me places, went to court with me. I can’t thank them enough for that. We share holidays together and spend time with each other when we can. Some of us live closer than others. I had to call on my brother to help us with the lawn this year and I’m grateful he’s able to do so.

If animals could talk, which one would you have a conversation with?

This is a hard one because I love a lot of different animals but the one I guess I’d pick is cats. They are always so mysterious and contemplating things. I would like to know their opinion on things. Do they like their food, really? Why do they like a plain cardboard box versus expensive beds? What do they really think of us? Ah, but that one might backfire on me, lol. What if they just tolerate us for the food? If they could take care of themselves and didn’t need us would they still stick around? Yes, I’d love to know these questions and more.

Sally here: I managed to find a video of some conversations between cats and their humans and it is quite clear to me that the cats are making themselves understood loud and clear.

Lovely to have Traci over today and make her the star for a change. I hope you have enjoyed and will follow her blog and on social media. Please say hello and we look forward to your comments. Thanks Sally.

Connect to Traci.


If you would like to read some of the previous interviews and participate here is the link and I am booking for September at the moment. This might be useful if you have a book being released or a special event of some kind that you would like to promote:


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Darlene Foster.

Welcome to Getting to Know You where guests have the option of 52 questions to allow us to find out more about them. The quirky, the secrets and the reasons how they have ended up here today… Too deep?? These interviews are turning out to be a lot of fun… for me too and if you would like to participate here are the details and also the previous interviews.

Guests so far this season John Rieber, Ritu Bhathal, The Militant Negro, Balroop Singh, Carol Taylor, Lucinda E. Clarke, Billy Ray Chitwood, D.Wallace Peach, Annette Rochelle Aben, John. W. Howell and D.G. Kaye.

My guest today is children’s author Darlene Foster who is also an avid traveler of the world. Originally from Canada, she now lives in Spain. Apart from her series of books starring Amanda and her travels, Darlene also writes detailed and very interesting travel posts on her blog… and occasionally here in the Posts from the Archives Series.  I will share her books and most recent review later in the post, but here is the official word on my guest.

About Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Time to discover which of the questions Darlene has selected.

Welcome Darlene and can you tell us what is your favourite childhood song and why?

My favourite childhood song is You Are My Sunshine because my dad used to sing it to me when I was a little girl. It always made me feel so happy and loved. I have fond memories of singing it together as we rattled along the dusty prairie roads in the pickup truck. Although Dad has been gone for almost eleven years, I still cry when I hear this song as I miss him so much. There are many versions of this song but I’m sharing this one as it reminds me most of my cowboy dad, who was also a big fan of Gene Autry.

If you could be any action hero, who would it be?

That would have to be the remarkable Wonder Woman. She is tall, gorgeous, funny and smart. A powerful, strong-willed, self-assured woman, who does not back down from a challenge. However, she is diplomatic, prefers peace and would never look for a fight or escalate a conflict. She’s fierce and at the same time nurturing. Wonder Woman is a born warrior who has the genuine compassion and understanding of a true humanitarian. Her natural confidence, strong leadership skills and intelligence, makes her a great role model. And she can sure rock that outfit! Yes, I would want to be Wonder Woman.

Sally here: This is the trailer for the Wonder Woman film released in 2017.. I can recommend the movie.. plenty of action. I am sure not a patch on you Darlene…..

What was the one thing you could never learn how to do no matter how hard you tried?

There are two things, one is milking a cow. My dad tried his hardest to teach me but I never got the hang of it. I didn´t really like hanging around the barn anyway and preferred being in the kitchen with mom, cooking and baking. The other thing I never learned is to type. I didn´t take it in school as I chose to take matriculation courses. Later I enrolled in not one but two adult education courses. But, like milking a cow, I couldn´t seem to catch on. I have, however, managed just fine through life without learning to milk a cow or to type.

If animals could talk, which one would you have a conversation with?

My darling dog, Dot. I would just love to have a chat with her and I´m quite sure she would enjoy talking to me. It would be a most entertaining conversation although it would probably centre around food. She is quite obsessed with food and has quite good taste. Perhaps she could tell me what food she likes best. I know she prefers homemade over store bought. I would also love to learn more about her life before us. I have conversations with her now, and although she appears to be listening, she is unable to respond. A good conversation is best if both parties speak.

If you only had two minutes to get out of your house, what would you grab?

Without question it would be my dog! When I was a child, I always answered this question with, “My books.” I had a plan that if there was ever a fire, I would open my bedroom window and throw out my books (the bookshelf was beside the window in my bedroom), then I would jump out. Since I was on the ground floor there was no concerns about me hurting myself. Mom once asked if I would not be more concerned about saving my younger brothers. I’m afraid I had to think about that. My books have always been very precious to me. They have now been replaced in order of importance by Dot.

Now to find out more about Darlene’s books and her most recent review.

Amanda In New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About the book

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind finds student Amanda Ross on a school trip in Taos, New Mexico. While there, her classmate Cleo thinks she sees ghosts. Amanda feels anxious too, sensing that something or someone is watching her. An engaging adventure ensues during their visit to the Land of Enchantment in this sixth book in the fun and educational series for early middle grade readers. 5/5

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books:

and Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads:

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.


I hope you have discovered a little more about Darlene and I am sure that she would love to receive your comments and answer any questions you might have. Thanks Sally