Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Letter to my younger self by Dorothy Grover-Read

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

This week newspaper and radio reporter, music promoter and hotelier Dorothy Grover-Read New Vintage Kitchen  shares a letter she would write to her younger self.

I wish I knew then what I know now by Dorothy Grover-Read

Dear Teen Dorothy,

It has been 50 years, and I can’t believe how fast time has passed!

You are just starting out, full of hopes and dreams, the future a blank canvas. But there’s all those unknowns. What will I do? Where will I go? Will I be happy?

I know most days you feel like a square peg, not quite fitting in! You found yourself in a huge regional high school knowing virtually no one. Athletics, not you. Chorus, not quite. Drama, nope. Bookworm? Of course! The kids all seem to have their own cliques in place, with no admission.

Here’s a little bit of insight – all those kids you’re convinced are having such a wonderful time have their own set of fears and challenges, worries and heartbreaks. It is something to remember when you think everyone else out there is happier, or luckier, or better off than you. You’re not missing a thing. But you are right, they don’t get you, and guess what? They never will, so don’t fret it. You’ll always have your collection of interesting, talented, and unique people around you. High school is just one tiny page. It will matter so little, you probably won’t go to your 50th reunion this year.

No, you are not spending too much time dreaming and writing stories and poems, it is who you are, who you will remain.

It’s a crazy, changing time in the world – from the Vietnam War to parents fretting over sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll. Some kids mold themselves to fit in with the crowd, going along with anything, even when they know it’s a mistake.

I know it can be lonely, but keep listening to your inner voice because you have common sense (we won’t discuss the ‘borrowed’ rowboat incident). You are grateful for those one or two friends to hang out with, but what you don’t know is that this is all you ever need. It’s great to be associated with a lot of people who interest you, and as you get older and out in the world, you will make many friends from all aspects of your life. This keeps things vibrant and interesting. But the deeper friendships are few and far between, and they will always be the cherished golden threads.

We grew up with very little in terms of money and things, and I know that makes you feel different as well. But we have a loving family and that makes us rich. You don’t yet know that the hard times give you some of your most important blessings – creativity, resourcefulness, and a feeling of independence and personal power. I wouldn’t trade the lean years for anything, they teach you more than all the times you sail through unhindered. This is where you thrive.

Don’t worry about fighting with Mom all the time, it will all work out. The bickering is a natural part of the growing-up process. You are lucky because Mom already treats you more like an adult than a kid. It helps you feel good about yourself, more independent, so remember that when she nags you about your messy room. She trusts you with the family grocery shopping in exchange for gas for the car, a great deal for both of you since she hates driving. She lets you plan a lot of the meals; you’ve cooked alongside her since you were little, and that will also serve you well in life. Cherish all those times in the kitchen and please write those recipes down, even the ones you know you won’t forget! And don’t be stingy with “I love you,” it is important.

The years between then and now have seen much love and joy and laughter, as well as an equal measure of struggles and disappointments and tears. Right now, you think if you do everything right, you’ll get to that place called happy; but, it isn’t a goal, happiness is all the wonderful gifts, sometimes large and sometimes small, strewn along the way, with the challenges and heartbreaks sprinkled in as well. Try not to miss the best in all the clutter. In a few years, John Lennon will write a song to his son in his last album Double Fantasy (oops, I just give something away), and includes a line “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” This line has stayed with me all these years and it hangs over my desk, reminding me not to focus so intently on what’s ahead that I don’t notice the miracle of the now. There are no ordinary moments.

Speaking of being in the moment, all those stories Gram is always telling you about her parents and grandparents? No, you won’t remember every word! I found Charity Mehitable Cram on Ancestry the other day and a light went off in my head, and I remembered her funny name. It still is funny, but I’d also love to have all those stories about our great-great grandmother that are forgotten. Write down those things too!

I guess I’ll finish with the thing I have said so many times to our kids and grandkids (I’ll let you be surprised) when they hit a wall. There is always tomorrow, and the troubles will pass. You can’t change anyone else, and you often can’t change a difficult situation, but you do have control over your own actions, and, importantly, control over how you react to it all.

Stay open and joyful, please stay away from the bathroom scales, and don’t spend too much time trying to straighten that hair!

Love, Dorothy

P.S. By the way, I can tell you right now that flunking trigonometry will not matter to your future at all, but you’ll be glad of that touch-typing course in your junior year. You’ll use that every single day of your life.

©Dorothy Grover-Read 2022

My thanks to Dorothy for this wonderful response to the prompt and a great reminder that the majority of the events and people who we worried about when younger are now water under the bridge and we have thrived inspite of them.

About Dorothy Grover-Read

After spending years as a newspaper and radio reporter and magazine writer, I needed a change. So, my husband and I operated a small bed and breakfast inn in Southern Vermont for more years than I want to count, and as you can imagine, I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen, much of it looking for ways to save some of that time while still offering something memorable to my guests.

This also freed me to help produce local music concerts and festivals in our areas, including the popular Roots on the River Music Festival which finished it run in 2019. We have been blessed to have many wonderful singers and singer/songwriters stay at our humble inn, and a few who have performed here as well. Precious moments.

We were among the first Green Hotels in the state, and member of the Vermont Fresh Network. We are now open only for special events, cooking classes, and a little catering to keep things interesting. I write a food column for our local newspaper, focusing on local foods and products and our fabulous southern Vermont farms, seasonal and delicious.

Connect to Dorothy Blog: New Vintage KitchenTwitter: @VermontBnB – Facebook: Dorothy G Read


Thanks for dropping in and it would be great if you could share Dorothy’s letter.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Life by Terry Tyler

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Many thanks, Sally, for inviting me to share my thoughts on your new feature.

‘I wish I knew then what I know now’ by Terry Tyler

I was a teenager in the 1970s and in my twenties during the 1980s – a much easier time to be young, I think. No social media telling you what to think, no mobile phones following you everywhere, you could walk in and out of jobs at whim and find a cheap flat by answering a newspaper ad. I consider myself so lucky to have been born when I was, and have known that time. How would I advise the eighteen-year-old me to make the most of such good fortune, if I could go back in time to 1977?

The Generation Gap:

Whatever issues you’re having, however vast the chasm between your lifestyle and that of your parents, find some common ground. The older you get the more you will appreciate them, but never more than when they are gone. Talk to them. Ask them about their lives. When they give you advice, at least consider it. Their youth may have been very different from yours, but human nature is a constant.

My parents died in 2017 and 2019; I still have so many questions that will remain forever unanswered – and I would give a great deal to have one more day with them.

The Sparrow’s Flight:

Edited quote from St Bede, in the 7th Century:

‘The present life of man upon earth – like the swift flight of a sparrow through the mead-hall where you sit at supper in winter, while the fire blazes in the midst and the hall is warmed. The sparrow, flying in at one door and immediately out at another – so this life of man appears for a little while, but of what is to follow or what went before we know nothing at all.’

Life is short. When you’re young, you can’t imagine what it’s like not to have all those decades stretching ahead of you, but the years certainly speed up once you hit forty. Now I’m sixty-two, I find that there aren’t enough hours in the day, days in the week or weeks in the year to do everything I want to do. Books I want to read (and write), subjects I’d like to learn more about. Don’t waste a moment complaining about being bored. Don’t waste time on people who drain you and let you down. Appreciate your friends, nurture good friendships. Don’t spend half your youth in the pub. See something of the world. Life is a gift. Use it well!

Affairs of the Heart:

How much time and emotional energy do we, as young women, waste wondering and discussing with our friends whether or not HE really is interested/really does love you/is ever going to get his act together?

Listen, and digest:

  • If a relationship is going well, you don’t need to discuss it.
  • In every couple there is one who kisses, and one who turns the cheek. This is so true, even in the happiest of relationships.
  • If he wants to call you/spend time with you, he will. No matter how busy his life. If he doesn’t, it’s because he doesn’t want to, or certainly not enough to make it a priority.
  • Beware the addict – life with a drinker, a gambler or any other sort of addict will always be an uphill struggle, and unless he wants to change for himself, the slope ahead will only become steeper.

My Body, My Choice:

Don’t waste another day being hung up about your weight. You’re probably not as fat as you think you are (I spent decades thinking I was fat; when I look back at old photos I see that I wasn’t). If you really are overweight and it affects your health, confidence and state of mind, do something about it. Maintaining a healthy weight gets harder after you’re thirty, and harder still every decade after that. Remember: nothing tastes as good as losing weight feels.

Remember, though, that your body shape is your own choice. In my 20s, I allowed the man I was with to make me feel inadequate because I was a size 14 rather than a size 10. I have never been or wanted to be smaller than a large size 12; if he’d wanted a skinny girlfriend, he shouldn’t have picked me!

The Roaring Twenties

Your twenties: such a valuable time in your life when you have youth, energy, independence, a whole world out there to explore. These are the years to enjoy your freedom, to try anything you want, make mistakes and learn from them. It is not a time to be wasted in a boring job, a stagnant love life, with friends that don’t enrich your life. It’s the time to travel, to meet lots of new people, to do whatever you want (within reason!).

My mother used to say that you need two lives, the second one to get it right. Oh if only, eh?

Thanks again, Sally!

©Terry Tyler 2022

My thanks to Terry for sharing her thoughts on the prompt and for some excellent guidelines for relationships and body image. Two issues that can result in a great deal of heartache through life. I know she would love to hear from you.

A small selection of  books by Terry Tyler

Terry’s latest release

My review for Where There’s Doubt on April 9th 2022

This is a psychological thriller which delves into the minefield that is modern day online dating and keeps you on the edge of your seat from page one.

Dating has become big business. Certainly for those who host the sites where millions hopefully upload their photographs, likes and dislikes and reach out into the void for a connection that will fulfil their dreams of everlasting love. It is also a feeding ground for sharks, seeking out the vulnerable, the desperate, the broken-hearted and those who are easily manipulated. Their intent is to bequile and deprive their victims of their money, self-esteem, dreams and hope.

Kate is just out of a long term relationship which has left her wondering about the myth surrounding true love. Then along comes a man who ticks all the boxes… seems to know her so well from the outset, anticipating all her needs and hopes within a relationship. Wary but falling in love, Kate begins to ignore her inner voice and friends well-meaning cautions and the game is on.

Over the course of the first part of the book the other players in this game each side of the con are introduced, including the masterminds behind the scam. The author is very good at creating characters who the reader can easily identify, including the poster boy for every woman’s romantic dream, handsome, attentive, successful and sexy. However we  hear first hand from this adonis about what he thinks of his victims and his accomplice as well as his endgame. We are spectators to the events but can only watch from the sidelines, helpless to intervene to prevent the inevitable tragedies and loss.

In the second part of the book we discover which of the victims are going to rise above this dispicable piece of trickery and deal with the aftermath. The best and worst of human traits is explored and for some there will be surprising revelations that threaten to devastate them even further. Does crime pay, will there be retribution, who will survive the con?

Highly recommended as a thriller you will find hard to put down.

About Terry Tyler

Terry Tyler is the author of twenty-four books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Where There’s Doubt’, about a romance scammer. Also recently published is ‘Megacity’, the final book in the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy. She is currently at work on a post apocalyptic series, which will probably take the form of three novellas. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history (particularly 12th-17th century), along with books and documentaries on sociological/cultural/anthropological subject matter. She loves South Park, the sea, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband.

Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon UK – And : Amazon US – Follow Terry Tyler: GoodreadsBlog: Terry Tyler Blogspot – Twitter:@TerryTyler4


Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Terry’s guest post… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – #Wedding – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Alex Craigie

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today author Alex Craigie shares some of her childhood escapades and encounters with nature, and how a regret still remains with her 47 years later.

Alex/Trish with her brother on her wedding day

If I knew then what I know now by Alex Craigie

There are countless things that I know now that I didn’t know then. With hindsight, most of them were trivial and inconsequential.

As a very young child there were more mysteries in life than answers. Clouds, beards, mirrors –all were beyond the comprehension of someone so unfamiliar with the world.

When I became a toddler, my knowledge came through human responses. Playing in the sink with my rubber duck was fine; playing with it in the toilet bowl wasn’t. Running around the garden in the altogether was perfectly acceptable; removing my clothes in the street, less so. The pictures I drew with my wax crayons were crooned over, but no one appreciated the colourful mural in the sitting room. When I sat in a field with my faithful collie companion to share some sheep poo, the response was as rapid as it was unexpected.

In my primary school years, mystification with mirrors and sheep poo gave way to a bewilderment about adult behaviour. Adults could do what they wanted, so why did they choose a cup of horrid tea when they could sip something fizzy through a straw? Why watch the news in preference to cartoons? In one of my Noddy books he was allowed to order whatever he wanted from the café; he chose four ice creams. Who would voluntarily opt for Brussels sprouts?

I once went horse riding with a friend and when I pleaded with my mother for a pony of my own, she flatly refused. Apparently, living in a basement flat with a tiny shared garden was an obstacle to horse ownership. She could be so unreasonable.

When I was twelve, it was the issue of socks that took on a massive, unfathomable importance. The school uniform requirements specified brown, woollen socks. They then changed, mid-year, to allow white, trendy knee-highs. One by one, everyone at school swapped their brown socks for the new ones. I pleaded with my mother, who’d bought several years’ worth of the frumpy horrors, to buy me some of the pretty white ones. She responded with that infuriating line, ‘If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow them?’ Yes. When it came to white socks, I would.

Another peer pressure issue concerned my wavy, unruly hair. Hair in the sixties was sleek and straight. I tried everything, including ironing it, but never achieved the fab, groovy look I yearned for. I did sport white lipstick, though, and shiny blue eye shadow…

In my hippy college years, I wore long cotton dresses and padded around bare foot. Work was frequently left until the last minute and involved all-night sessions to meet deadlines. I saw Pink Floyd live in a smoky student gig and took part in sit-ins about student grants. It was also a time when I experienced love in all its glory and heartbreak.

In 1975, the love of my life and I finished our degrees and were married in the college chapel. There were a few niggles on the day. My anti-pony mother doted on my younger brother and stopped outside an angling shop on the way and sent me in to get him two pints of maggots. I sat with them in the car at my feet, worried at the lateness of the hour.

The college had allocated a room where I could get ready and, clock ticking, I dressed hastily, jabbing my veil on squint. In a box on the table was the bouquet backed by trailing ivy and fern that I’d ordered. No trailing anything. It was a simple posy. On arriving at the chapel, I discovered that the groom had been persuaded to have his long hair done at a salon. It had been blow-dried so that he resembled a standard lamp. None of these mattered. If I’d known about them, I could have made the changes but they were cosmetic and unimportant in the bigger scheme of things.

There were other issues that cut deeper. Painfully deep. I’d gone home the week before the wedding. My parents’ divorce hadn’t been one of those amicable ones you sometimes read about. I was running a high fever when my father phoned to say that my grandmother had died. I adored her. Struggling with this information, I went to bed, dosed with paracetamol. Later the next day, I discovered that my mother had told him that, in the circumstances, it would be inappropriate for him to come to the wedding. Her delight at finding an obstacle to my father’s attendance had made her upbeat and insensitively happy.

I phoned him. I phoned him repeatedly. But there was no response. I wanted my father at my side, not my younger brother. I was still phoning him on the day itself and for all the days afterwards until I got through to him. He’d gone to Scotland to lick his wounds. His quiet understanding of the situation, and his generosity of spirit despite the nightmare he’d been put through, did nothing to ease a guilt and shame that remains to this day.

Knowing about mirrors, eating sheep poo and the prerequisites of horse maintenance would have made no difference to me at the time because I lacked the capacity to cope with that knowledge. Neither would an understanding of peer pressure have done anything to ease the very real suffering I went through. As for my student days, they were an experience I wouldn’t change – it was a learning curve, a rite of passage. And when did the heart ever listen to reason?

However, if I’d known about my mother’s decision to block my father from the wedding, I’d have done everything in my power to prevent a shameful incident that’s haunted me since and been the one lasting regret of my life.

©Alex Craigie 2022

My thanks to Alex for sharing her childhood adventures and a poignant event that she would have given anything to have changed.

About Alex Craigie

Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.

Trish was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.

When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.

Trish has had three books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. Both books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the NHS at its heart.

Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.

Books By Alex Craigie

My review for Means to Deceive May 14th 2022

You know you are in the hands of a master storyteller when you are so engaged by the story that you want to reach in and offer hugs to the main character and some swift justice to others!

Alex Craigie writes very good books and this is no exception.

Gwen Meredith is between a rock and a hard place at work and at home where intimidation, misunderstandings, secrets and childhood memories cloud judgment. It is even worse when it is played out on social media in a town where everybody feels they have a right to voice their opinions on the situation.

With a grandmother’s dementia developing rapidly, there is little time to sit and work through the evolving mystery and at times the interference of others, though kindly meant, creates more havoc.

This is probably not the best time to fall in love especially if you don’t know who to trust but it does offer a glimmer of hope in the dark place Gwen now finds herself in.

Clues are dropped in, and events point in a number of directions, but the puzzle is missing a lot of pieces until the final chapter. This is a clever mystery which will have you on the edge of your seat and wondering if you are perhaps not going a little crazy too.

The climax is dramatic and comes with surprising revelations. A fabulous ending to this highly recommended book.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Follow Alex: Goodreads – Alex Craigie via: Facebook


Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Alex’s post.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 16th – 22nd May 2022 – Hits 1995, Aretha Franklin, Stories, Podcast, Poetry, Guests, Reviews, Health and Humour

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

I hope you are well and have enjoyed your week as much as I have mine. The house is still a bit topsy turvey but the new dining room just needs a bit more work, and I am off to buy curtains tomorrow. We will be moving the furniture in there over next weekend and then spending a couple of days putting our office back together in the kitchen diner.

The last of the spring flowers need to be moved into one of the flower beds for next year and I will be heading to the garden centre for the more mature summer plants.

On the blog front

I am so pleased that the I Wish I Knew Then series is resulting in the sharing of so many memories, experiences and emotions. This week my guests are authors Alex Craigie, Terry Tyler and Dorothy Grover Read of New Vintage Kitchen

As always I must thank these three amazing contributors as the blog would not be the same without them.

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the first part of the hits from 1995 and for the first part of the series on Friday featuring the legendary Aretha Franklin. You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies has been busy on her own blog this week as well as sharing some of the funnies she has collected during her browsing for the Laughter Lines.. Head over to enjoy her post on Scammers who infiltrate social media including groups for those who are grieving loved ones.. Also an excellent resource for bloggers and authors in her monthly Writers links on copyright, plagiarism etcand her Sunday book review for Why Didn’t They Leave by Eva Hnizdo

Debby is with us tomorrow with her Travel Column… and a visit to Curacao...slap on some sunscreen and join us..

Carol Taylor shares her musings on Monday.. and amazing recipe for Chicken Jalfrazi that will get you taste buds exploration of the eclectic cuisine of Croatia, how you can make delicious meals from store cupboard basics such as pasta and noodles, couscous and polenta with a lovely recipe for Chicken and Prune Tagine.  For these and the rest of Carol’s terrific posts this week head over to check out her round up. This week on Cook From Scratch to prevent deficiency we will be looking at ways to include foods containing manganese in your diet.

CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 15th -21st May 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “Real food v Processed Food” and Saturday Snippets where “Surprise” is my one word prompt.

My thanks to you for your visits, shares and comments they mean a great deal…

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1995 Part One – Seal, Bon Jovi, Take That, Simply Red

William Price King meets the Music Legends – Aretha Franklin – The Early Years


The Dynamics of Change – Part One – Our Physical Being by Sally Cronin

#Honey -#Propolis – Thousands of Years of History and Health by Sally Cronin

Chapter Ten – Cat Burglars and Insurance Fraud!

Chapter Eleven – Christmas in the Funeral Home

Podcast – Tales from the Irish Garden – Jeremy the Donkey

#Etheree – Legacy by Sally Cronin

#Life #Change – Linda’s Midlife Crisis by Toni Pike

16th May 2022 – #Images Tofino Photography, Robbie Cheadle, Cindy Knoke, #Exploration Jennie Fitzkee, #Guest The Story Reading Ape, #Guest Marcia Meara

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Rebecca Budd

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Shortstory by Jacquie Biggar

#Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by D.L. Finn

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! – #Writing, #Genres, #Indie Jacqui Murray

#Pre-order #Scifi #GeneticEngineering We are Saul by Richard Dee

– #Mystery #Crime Ticket to Ride by Winona Kent

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Evolution and Heavenly accommodation

Passing along the funnies – Boys vs. Girls and Legal Shenanigans


Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the posts.. look forward to seeing you again.. Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! – #Writing, #Genres, #Indie Jacqui Murray

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today author Jacqui Murray shares the five things, that as a writer she wishes she knew then…wonderful insight for new authors about to begin their journey and a great review of useful tips for more established writers.

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now by Jacqui Murray

I’ve been writing for over thirty years. I’ve written tech manuals, non-fiction, military fiction, historical fiction, freelance journalism, reviews for clients, lesson plans, class syllabi–pretty much anything that would pay the bills (within limits). I’ve learned a lot about what works and what should be avoided. I made a lot of mistakes, but honestly, I wouldn’t want to skip any of them because I learn from mistakes. I bet you do, too. But there are a few bits of wisdom I wish I’d known when I started that would have saved me time, money, and stress.

Here are five:

Genre have rules. Follow them

Have you ever cracked open a book that promised to be a thriller, filled with action and adventure, and got a redo of Fantasy Island? World Famous Authors can break rules when they write. Ordinary Folk (like me) have to follow them and some of the most important are the ones that apply to genres. As a new author, these are sacred ground.

Learn them and then follow them until your name appears on a cover bigger than the title.

Then, do what you want. For example, thrillers are dominated by exciting plots with flawed super heroes who save the world by doing the impossible. Literary fiction characters are ordinary people out to find themselves while they save their souls. Historical fiction–don’t skimp on authentic details about your selected time long gone, be it Ancient Greece or the Old West.

There are over one hundred genres (I know because I have a genre series where I demystify them for you and I’m up to 147) so you have a lot of choices. Early in your writing, decide what your genre is and then research the guidelines. If it’s fantasies, your audience expects serious world-building. Sci fi aficionados want space, planets, and other worlds. Give people what they want at least at the beginning of your writing career and they will return the favor by buying your books and talking about them online.

Voice is why people read your book

Readers may buy your book because the blurb sounds good or it has a great cover, but if they’ll read the next one because they love your voice. Figure out who you are, what makes you different from other writers in your genre. Embrace that and never look back.

It takes a long time to write a novel.

I took twenty-five years to write my first novel (and I’m not unusual) which included at least three complete rewrites, a dozen re-edits, and more than three times I quit only to return. I tried short stories and poetry, but really, novels are my schtick so I suffered through thinking I wasn’t good enough or smart enough or connected enough. But, each problem I knocked down like pins in a bowling alley. Sure, there were 3,498 and I had to solve all of them (because–no agent), but each one made me stronger and more confident.

Going Indie is a great option

I don’t know any authors who started writing with the dream of being an Indie author. Usually, that goal arrives after the 1,019th rejection, or the third time an agent suggests changes that revert a story to an original version. At a certain point, you get tired of playing the agent-publisher game, stick a toe in the Indie publishing world, and find out it’s warm, without piranha, and with plenty of room for all kinds of authors. For me, that took a really long time, but I’d never go back. I like the independence, relying on myself, not having to accommodate someone else’s interests, writing according to my own timeline, choosing my own cover, making my own decisions, getting immediate answers to questions (from myself), and more.

And the money is better–unless your Elizabeth George or Lee Child. Then, stick with agents.

Writing is a gift with ‘some assembly required’.

I often compare my writing to the Vulcan game of Kal-toh . It’s a Star Trek game where all the pieces look jumbled and misfit until they snap together as though by magic.

Most writers have heard that something like 80% (depends upon where you get your statistic) of people have a book in them. After all, it doesn’t take any special skills, right? You sit at a keyboard, write a story, edit it with ProWriter or Grammarly, have a best friend read and approve it, and then upload it to Kindle.

Trigger warning: Some assembly required. Remember Christmas Eve with a box of parts and you have to use all of them. That’s writing, too. All the pieces are in your head–characters, plot, setting, theme, goals. The trick is to get them all to fit before you lose interest.

That’s it–five things I wish I’d known when I started writing. How about you?

©Jacqui Murray 2022

My thanks to Jacqui for this wonderful response to the prompt. I am sure that you can relate to the five points included and great advice for new and established writers. I know she would love to hear from you.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Spring 2022.

A selection of books by Jacqui Murray

My review for Laws of Nature August 2021

I read the first book in this trilogy in 2018 and eagerly awaited book two. The author does set the scene for this second book, but I do recommend that you read Born in Treacherous Time first.

Difficult to extol the virtues of this book without giving away spoilers, but I can tell you it is an extraordinary story of survival under the most extreme conditions the earth was experiencing 1.8 million years ago. Unpredictable is putting it mildly, with earth shifts, bitter cold, droughts, floods with violent storms with lightening splintering the ground and causing rampant fires. Shelter is a rarity from the elements and when it is discovered it holds even more dangers within.

This is not a fantasy story, as it is about the real and dangerous evolutionary journey of not just man, but many of the world’s beast that we are more familiar with today. It is a time where there are a number of versions of humans, some who are more advanced than others, but even they marvel when they come into contact with those they consider more primitive. Despite this early stage in man’s evolution, natural and instinctive skills have already been lost, and it is the respect for these abilities that spark the fascination of ‘Man who Preys’ a long term enemy.

Lucy and her group have members gathered along the harsh journey who have found themselves outcast or abandoned during shifts in the earth or extreme climate conditions. They are a mismatched mix of species who learn from each other and adapt to form an unbreakable bond.There are whispers of how the individuals will evolve into modern day counterparts such big cats and primates but also sadly those that have become extinct.

The author writes flawlessly and takes you on a journey into our past with detailed accounts of this harsh environment and its inhabitants. It is an adventure with heartbreak and also moments when you can only applaud the ingenuity and the will to survive of these primitive ancestors of ours. It certainly leaves you will a greater appreciation of all we have in this modern world.

I hope you will read both book one and two of this trilogy and I am looking forward to following Lucy and her group as they continue their journey in book 3.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Jacqui: goodreads – Blog: WorddreamsTwitter: @WordDreams


Thanks for dropping in today and it would be wonderful if you could share Jacqui’s post .. Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – #Life – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by D.L. Finn

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Early teens Hawaii

I wish I knew then what I know now! by Denise Finn

There are many things that I wish I knew then that I know now. Yet, I doubt my current knowledge would have made a difference to that rebellious teenager. I was told to save my money for the future, which always made me shake my head. The future? I only had the now. When my well-meaning grandma worried about me driving seven hours to Disneyland with a friend, I smiled, nodded, and packed my bags. Another time, I drove to the ocean at two in the morning during a rainstorm. Even with a blowout, I had a bag of cat sand in my trunk from shopping earlier to pour into the mud, so a kind passenger could change the tire.

It all worked out in the end, no matter what chances I took. I was completely unaware that anything bad could happen to me. Take better care of my health? Nothing would change my diet or drinking habits until I had no choice. My youth was a place where I lacked the worries I have now.

But there was one time in my teenage years when I wished I could have assured myself it would be okay. I attempted to end my journey at fourteen years old because of an unpleasant family situation. Four years or four days felt the same through childlike eyes. If I hadn’t gotten to that low point, though, I wouldn’t have the faith and hope I do now.

All the things that I learned the hard way made me the person I am today. And hearing a voice tell me, “You have to go back. You have things to do,” is something I think about daily. It makes me want to do as much good as I can in this world for the time I’m here.

So, instead of wondering what I could say to a younger me, I pondered what I could learn from the girl who still looked at the world so full of hope despite that moment of darkness. I realized I could embrace the message of faith I had received in my youth.

After that moment, I approached the world differently, and maybe I always had on some level. I asked why a lot and often. I hardly watched the news in my younger years and was always pleasantly surprised when it rained. If someone needed my help, I didn’t stop to think about it—I helped. There was never any worry about where my next meal was coming from or how I’d pay the rent. I just had a way of figuring it out while watching the sun rise and set with awe.

High School Graduating from Beauty School

Of course, as an adult, we know there are bills to pay, and we must take care of our health. But do we need to get rid of that joy we had in our youth? That waking up and living each day to the fullest? To use our current wisdom but lifted by our innocence from the past, where good wins over evil.

It’s a full circle where we need faith from our past and our present insight. It’s when we become completely whole and feel our entire powerful and magical selves. To hang on to our wonder as we amass more knowledge. When dancing in the rain seems like a good idea until there’s that whisper, you’ll catch your death of cold. No, you’ll only feel whole again.

So, maybe I wrote this backward, but I think my youthful Denise would approve that I’m still embracing that light even after learning about all that darkness. That’s the message I try to create in my words to myself and others—then and now.

Knottsberry Farm on trip

©D.L. Finn 2022

My thanks to Denise for sharing this poignant and inspiring response to the prompt and I know she would love to hear from you…

About D.L. Finn

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

A selection of books by D.L. Finn

A recent review for Bigfoot

Pete Springer 4.0 out of 5 stars A Giant Conspiracy? Reviewed in the United States on April 21, 2022

A man, Steve, learns details of a family of three who mysteriously goes missing. Bob Simon was working for the Fish and Game and received a report to clear the fish out of Lake Tina using a chemical compound to kill the fish in the lake. This tactic was not unheard of, but when Bob digs deeper, he learns that he’s supposed to poison the fish because Bigfoot feeds on them. Bob says he was threatened with his job if he didn’t follow his orders. Bob, his wife, and their doctor son go missing. What has become of them is the mystery? Who had something to do with their disappearance? Was it the government, aliens, or some other mysterious force?

This is a good read for those who like wondering about Bigfoot, aliens, and conspiracy theories. I read and enjoyed D.L. Finn’s short story in thirty minutes.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow D.L. Finn: Goodreads – Connect to D.L. Finn – Website: D.L. Finn Author – Facebook: D.L. Finn Author – Twitter: @dlfinnauthor


 Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share Denise’s guest post.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Shortstory by Jacquie Biggar

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today Jacquie Biggar shares a short story based on the prompt, that reaches out to those who are trapped in addiction and scared to reach out for help.

What I Know Now That I Didn’t Know Then
Jacquie Biggar
USA Today Bestselling Author

I was eighteen when we met on the night of my birthday bash. Sparks crackled and it wasn’t from the giant bonfire heating the night air and throwing cinders twenty feet into the sky, turning the teen party into a ghoulish spectacle. Maybe I should have run while I could, but it was too late—the hypnotic lure of ecstasy enticed me into his dark web.

Every minute we could eke out of our days was spent together, nights filled with hunger and passion, days with laughter and reckless abandon. Hours driving country roads, talking non-stop or singing eighties rock tunes at the top of our lungs. Life was good, maybe too good.

My friends took a backseat to my new obsession, but I didn’t care, I was happy. Delirious even. Living with my parents put a crimp in our relationship, so I picked up a second job cleaning businesses at night (I waitressed during the day) and found a cheap apartment to rent. It wasn’t much, one bedroom, a galley kitchen and minuscule living room, but it was ours—mine and my love’s.

I wasn’t getting enough sleep and began to lose weight. Makeup helped to hide the pale, pasty look of my skin, but nothing could cover the bloodshot eyes and flagging energy. Well, except for the time I stole from work to be with my sweetheart, then all that weariness fell away and we soared to the heavens together.

Money was tight. Even though I worked sixteen-hour days, there never seemed enough to go around. I couldn’t give up my car, it gave me the independence I needed, so regretfully, I said goodbye to the sweet little apartment and began sleeping in the backseat of the car.

Nights were chilly with autumn on the horizon, and it wasn’t always easy to find a place near public washrooms (I sponge bathed in the sinks) without the cops checking me out for vagrancy, but I mostly made it work. At least until the insurance and registration came due.

I didn’t have a choice, I screwed up the courage and drove out to my parents’ place to ask for help, though deep inside, I already knew what they would say.

Mom answered the door. She looked older—sadder maybe.

“You didn’t need to ring the bell, this is your home, too, or it used to be.” She turned and climbed the three stairs leading into the kitchen, tattered slippers slapping her heels. “I just made a cup of tea and toast, would you like some?”

The aroma of fresh bread filled the house, making me dizzy with hunger. My pride warred with my stomach—and lost. “That would nice, thank you,” I said, as sedately as I could with my salivary glands in overdrive. “How have you been, Mom? Where’s Dad?” I kind of hoped he was there, it would be easier somehow.

She cast me a searching glance before concentrating on cutting two thick slices of white bread with golden crusts and dropping them into the old Toastmaster.

“Dad’s at work, won’t be back until late, so if it’s him you need you’ll have to come back another day.”

Cool and distant—not at all like the mother who cuddled me when I fell and sang me to sleep at night. Shame scorched my core. I’d done that.

“Mom, I came to see you.” A white lie, but the way her eyes brightened made me glad I did.

“Well, then,” she said, shuffling into the dining room with a pint of homemade strawberry jam and toast slathered in margarine. “This is nice—unexpected.”

The tea was hot and the toast mouth-watering, but guilt made it hard to swallow. How could I ask for money I knew they needed? Instead, I’d taken off the second I could and ignored the very people who gave me life. Shame washed over me, and I nervously scratched at my inner arms, the craving a constant hunger I couldn’t escape.

Noticing Mom’s worried gaze on my movements, I forced myself to rest my hands on the scarred table, after making sure my sleeves were pulled down. “Yes, well, I thought it was time and I had a day off, so…” Another lie. I’d been let go from my jobs—one for stealing cash from the register, and the other for not being reliable—Dad would be so proud. Not.

“Beth, is there something you need to tell me?” Mom reached across and grasped my frozen fingers. “Your father and I are always here for you, honey. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s what you do about it that counts.”

Could I betray my love and tell Mom the truth? Panic turned my veins to slush. Her voice came to me through a tunnel, the sound far-off and muffled. I couldn’t lose him, could I? “You need me,” he whispered, a cobra’s hiss that hypnotised and made my mind go blank.

But then Mom rose from her chair and came around the table to lean over and take me into her arms. The scent of yeast and lemon rose from her skin and her graying hair tickled my cheek.

“I’ve got you, Bethany. You’re not alone, baby girl. I’ve got you.” she whispered, tears from her—or was it me?—dampening our skin.

I was scared and embarrassed, and worried about what was to come, but I knew what I had to do. Leaning back, I looked into her beautiful, compassionate, green eyes and admitted my addiction.

“Momma, I need help.”

Heroin is taking our sisters, brothers, fathers, and mothers. It is highly addictive, and if cut with other toxic chemicals such as fentanyl, it’s a killer.

In British Columbia, Canada six people die per day from opioid overdoses.

If you, or someone you know, needs help reach out now:Canada -Health Campaign – Drug Prevention

©Jacquie Biggar 2022

My thanks to Jacquie for writing this story, carrying such an important message, in response to the prompt, and I know that she would love to hear from you.

About Jacquie Biggar

Jacquie Biggar is a USA Today bestselling author of romance who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!

Connect to Jacquie, read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Jacquie : Goodreads – website: Jacquie Biggar – Twitter: @jacqbiggar

A small selection of Jacquie’s books

My review for Love Me January 22nd 2022

Having read other books by the author I fully expected that this story would be heartwarming and in keeping with the spirit of Christmas. The characters are always relateable and being a romance they also tend to have attractive personalities which makes them likeable too.

The interactions between those falling for each other are subtle, and much is left to your imagination, which is something I prefer when reading about love. In this particular case you are left with the wonderful feeling that love is alive and well despite the global troubles impacting us all at this time.

At the heart of this story is also the issue of childhood leukemia which the author adds details of at the end of the book. A difficult subject to cover, particularly in a feel good romance novel, but Jacquie Biggar handles it very sensitively.

A book to curl up in front of a roaring fire, with a large mug of hot chocolate and a couple of hours free for some lovely escapism. Recommended for lovers of romance and those who enjoy a heartwarming reminder that there are good things in the world.


Thank you for joining us today and it would be great if you could share Jacquie’s story… Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round up 9th- 15th May 2022 – Ella Fitzgerald, St. Thomas, Magnesium, Short Stories, Podcast, Health, Travel, Books, Reviews, Health and Humour

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

I hope you are doing well in your neck of the woods. In this one we have had some glorious weather this last week and I have taken advantage of the garden. Decorating is going well with the dining room now pearl grey and white woodwork.. Awaiting the floor to be sanded and I am off to buy new curtains during the week.

The young plants I potted a couple of weeks ago are beginning to flower and it is a bit of mystery as to the colours as I bought variety packs and in a week or two I will share the results.

On the blog front

I am delighted that I Wish I Knew Then series is being enjoyed and there are several more scheduled for the coming weeks and so grateful to those who are participating and sharing their stories. This week Jacquie Biggar, Rebecca Budd, Denise Finn and Jacqui Murray share their thoughts on the prompt.

As always I will be putting on a Summer Book Fair featuring all the authors that I have personally recommended who are on the Smorgasbord Bookshelf. In the first posts beginning in June, I will be sharing books that are the first in a series to encourage readers to start at the beginning and hopefully then read the following books. I will then continue with authors with stand alone novels, non-fiction, memoirs etc.  Look out for that from June 6th through to September.

As always I must thank these three amazing contributors as the blog would not be the same without them.

William Price King joined me on The Breakfast show this week for the second part of the hits from 1994 and for the last part of the series on Friday featuring Ella Fitzgerald. – On Friday William begins a new series about the legendary Aretha Franklin. You can also find William – Blog– IMPROVISATION– William Price King on Tumblr

Debby Gies took us to St. Thomas this week on the Travel Column… and on her own blog shares her thoughts on being back in Toronto after her Mexican winter break and adjusting to the solitude again, weather and how grief plays its role in her perspective on life and the future. How Am I Doing?  Head over to her blog to catch up on her posts including her Sunday Book Review D.G. Writes

Carol Taylor shared some amazing recipes this week to ensure we are getting sufficient Magnesium in our diet… on her own blog she reminds us about animals waking up after hibernation in our gardens and in particular what to and not to feed hedgehogs in her Monday Musings,

In her ‘My Kitchen Post, she shares some store cupboard basics, in her Food Review what constitutes ‘processed food’ and in Saturday Snippets her prompt is Glass.

Head over to catch up on Carol’s posts this week: CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 8th -14th May 2022-Monday Musings, Health, Food Review “” and Saturday Snippets where “Glass” is my prompt.

Thanks to you for all the support, likes, comments and shares during the week and now on with the show….

The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1994 Part Two – Celine Dion, Prince, Wet Wet Wet, Corona

William Price King meets the Jazz Icons – Ella Fitzgerald Part Five – Live Performances

The Travel Column Rewind with D.G. Kaye – #Caribbean Welcome to St. Thomas #Virgin Islands

Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiencies with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Magnesium – Coleslaw, Pumpkin Seeds, Tom Yum Soup, Morning Glory

#Olive Oil…keeps your body moving by Sally Cronin

Butterfly #Cinquain – Blossom by Sally Cronin

Chapter Eight – The Steak House by Sally Cronin

Chapter Nine – Pub Landlady and Skinhead invasions

Chapter Seven – The Magic Garden comes to life by Sally Cronin

#Psychologicalthriller – Means to Deceive by Alex Craigie

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Jan Sikes

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Harmony Kent

#Western #Paranormal Mateo’s Blood Brother by Sandra Cox

#Romance – Love, Me – A Christmas Wish Novel by Jacquie Biggar

#Romance – Unbranded (Montana Bred Series 1) by Linda Bradley

Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Burgers and more Weird Facts

– Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Cures and more Weird facts


Thanks so much for dropping in today and for your visits and support during the week.. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and stay safe.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Harmony Kent

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today Harmony Kent shares what wisdom she would impart to her younger self as she struggled to find her own way in the world.

I wish I knew then what I know now by Harmony Kent


For far too many years, I swallowed and digested every word my parents said to me. The trouble is, I didn’t know I was supposed—or even allowed—to chew those supposed nuggets of wisdom thoroughly. As a result, I gave up on all of my childhood dreams, which included acting, becoming a musician, and writing. If only I had known better …

It took me thirteen painful years of self-reflection and self-esteem-building work to get to where I am now. Life almost derailed me with a life-changing injury about six or seven years into those thirteen years, but the work I had achieved up to then brought me through it. So much so that I published my first book at age 40 despite everything.

Even now, I still find things which contradict what my folks told me during my formative years and remind me to question what I believe. Things such as, “You need a flexible voice to be able to act. Nobody would ever take you seriously.” … Hubby and I have picked out so many current big-name actors who show the lie to the rule that you must have the ability to change your accent to become a successful actor. No matter how varied the roles such actors play, they always sound like themselves. On balance, while a few actors can and do change their voices to fit their roles, many do not. What I never questioned until my later adult years was why my parents never bothered to get me the help I needed to clear chronic glue ear and/or speech therapy to address the effects of a cleft palate repair and nasal speaking. Why, instead, did they throw all their energy into ridiculing me at every turn? Yes, to succeed in the acting world, I would have needed some voice work, but it wouldn’t have been impossible or laughable.

Time and again, even into adulthood, I heard nothing but putdowns from the very people supposed to nurture me. The only time I did something I wanted to do—change from general nurse training to psychiatric nurse training—I was met with severe disapproval. My father even called me while I was on a placement on a children’s mental health unit (oh, the irony!) and gave me a loud and prolonged verbal dressing down, where he hammered into me that I would fail spectacularly. To this day, I feel so relieved I didn’t listen and went my own way. This decision gave me my first steps to true independence. The second step came after a teenage psychiatric patient assaulted me at work, resulting in an arm injury and mandatory counselling. The wonderful woman who offered that short course of therapy helped me to identify that although I had moved a good way from my parents physically, they still controlled much of my life in every other respect.

From that point onward, I finally questioned our relationships and the things I believed as set in stone. Not long after the assault, I came across a Buddhist order and joined as a lay trainee. Within a year, I set in motion the process of ordaining monastically. Had I realised how tough that life would be, would I still have done what I did? I don’t know, but I sure am glad I stuck it out. Those years of monastic training and intense meditation opened up a whole world I never knew existed. Tough? Yes. But also invaluable. They saved my life and led me to question everything. Most especially, my identity. The person I thought I was and what made me that person. I saw from the outside, looking in, how cruel and rude my family had been toward me, and revisited all the things I could remember ever having been told to me throughout my life.

Only once I regurgitated those old words and tested them out did I realise how unhelpful and untrue they were. Only then did I realise how bad a taste they left in my mouth. Only then was I able to spit them out and rinse thoroughly to get rid of the after taste. Here is an extract from a longer poem, which shows some of that transformation …

The Monk

Rise at five
every day

even while
you work

cleaning house
pulling the skeletons
out of the closet

no sweeping
the dust
under the rug

no sewing
the frayed seams
but instead

unpicking the
so I can fall apart

only then
is it safe
to put myself back together

demons slayed
balloon popped
drapes ripped open

I see you
I know you
you have no power over me

at last
at long long last
I sit

at ease in peaceful repose
and contentment

life is easy
I take it
in my stride

no more
do I feel
I have to hide

the universe is vast

so much space
and plenty
of room for me

now it’s time
to filter
the pond

stagnant all these years
too full and silted up
I have to tap the wellspring

in the cosmic washing machine

just because
it has a long history
it doesn’t have to be a life sentence

and the jewel
in all this mud?
is that I get to choose my path

the water of the spirit
first frozen
then boiled

and now
in my veins
flowing free in fluidity

If I had one thing to tell my younger self it would be: “You are braver and stronger than you think, and so worthy of love.” Okay, so maybe there would be a second thing: “Don’t believe everything you’re told, no matter who says it.”

My biggest life lesson is that only I can prevent myself from living the life I want to. Even now, with illness and disability dictating so much of my day-to-day activities, I still have the choice of how I live with that. Of how I respond to that. Of the things I tell myself about my reality. I can waste energy and time bemoaning my lot and hating it, or I can direct my energy toward finding much-needed work-arounds to keep doing what I love to do. And to keep being loving. … Both toward myself and toward everyone else. Without first loving myself, I could never have found the love of my life.

©Harmony Kent 2022

My thanks to Harmony for sharing this inspiring journey with us and I know she would love to hear from you.

About Harmony Kent

Harmony Kent is an award winning multi-genre author. Her publications include:

  • The Battle for Brisingamen (Fantasy Fiction) AIA approved
  • The Glade (Mystery/Thriller) AIA Approved/BRAG Medallion Honouree/New Apple Literary Awards Official Selection Honours 2015
  • Polish Your Prose: Essential Editing Tips for Authors (Writing/Editing) New Apple Literary Awards Top Medallist Honours 2015
  • Finding Katie (Women’s Fiction)
  • Slices of Soul (Contemporary Poetry)
  • Interludes 1 & Interludes 2 (Erotic Short Stories)
  • Moments (Short Stories and Poetry)
  • Jewel in the Mud (Zen Musings)
  • Backstage (Erotic Romance)
  • FALLOUT (Apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic Dystopia) BRAG Medallion Honouree
  • The Vanished Boy (Psychological Thriller)

As well as being an avid reader and writer, Harmony also offers reviews and supports her fellow authors. Harmony works hard to promote and protect high standards within the publishing arena. She is always on the look out for talent and excellence, and will freely promote any authors or books who she feels have these attributes. Harmony lives in Cornwall, England.

A small selection of books by Harmony Kent

My review for The Vanished Boy June 23rd 2021

A parent’s worst nightmare. A missing teenager and a realisation that you didn’t know them as well as you thought you did.

The author has created a fast paced thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat, as widow Carole searches social media for clues as to where her missing son might be. She heads down paths that lead to even more questions, as the empathetic detective in charge of the investigation does his best to keep her updated on developments.

The circle of family and friends she can turn to is small, and as she slowly uncovers key pieces of information, she begins to feel even more isolated and her sanity is threatened. The physical evidence mounts up and turns her world upside down; trust in everything and everyone in her life is challenged.

The characters are relatable, as are the extremes of emotions and pain that fuel the events leading to the unexpected climax of the story.

Can you believe all that you see and hear? Or are you being manipulated by someone with something to hide? You will have to read the book to find out.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And : Amazon US – Follow Harmony:Goodreads – Website:Harmony KentTwitter: @Harmony_Kent


Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share the post… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! by Jan Sikes

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today author Jan Sikes shares how her experiences in life may have benefitted her as a teenager in tenth grade.

I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now by Jan Sikes

That is such a loaded statement, as I have learned much in my seventy years of living.
Often, I hear folks say they wish they could go back and do things over again, but only with their current knowledge. I would never want to go backward. However, if I could talk to my younger self and know she would actually listen, I’d give her some strong advice.

I recently watched “The Adam Project” on Netflix. It is a time-travel story where thirty-year-old Adam travels from 2050 to 2022 and meets his twelve-year-old self. There is a lot more to the plot, but can you imagine? The advice the grown man gives to his younger self gave me pause. What if I could go back and tell my younger self some things to help make life easier? What would I say?

First and foremost, I’d tell my younger Janice (that is my given name) to be authentic. Don’t try to be like anyone else. Just be yourself. We are each as unique as our fingerprints. Even though society tries to force us into a mold of alikeness, we are all different.

Growing up, I was an outcast in school. Because of my parents’ religion, I had to wear long dresses and wear my long hair either in a braid or bun. I wasn’t allowed to participate in any school sports or other events. At the time, all I wanted was to fit in, to be a part of the crowd. That longing ate away at me inside and influenced some major choices I made. The first time I felt that longing fulfilled was traveling with Rick and his band when I was nineteen. I finally belonged.

But back to my advice. I’d tell her not to take things too seriously. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Of course, that is all based on perspective. What an adult would consider inconsequential, a young child might find to be of the utmost importance. That’s where it gets tricky.

The way I now view what I thought were catastrophic events in my growing-up years carries no significance in my life today. It doesn’t matter that I thought John Paolino was cute in fourth grade or how humiliated I was when his best friend, Joe Webb, pulled my braid and made me fall on the playground. But that day, it devastated me.

I would tell young Janice always to speak her truth, no matter what. It is impossible to please everyone. That’s a huge life lesson for many of us, particularly women. I’ve often found myself saying what I thought another person wanted to hear to avoid making waves or, worse yet, starting an argument. I am the kind of person who will walk a mile around a disagreement rather than face it head-on and confront it. Anytime we deny ourselves our truth, we give away our power.

I would advise her to stop and think before acting. I’ve often plunged off the edge of a cliff because I only acted or reacted without thinking. If I’d only known then what I know now.
I would remind her that life is short and focus on the things that make her happy and fulfilled. Creating stories for others to enjoy is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in life so far. I’ve worn many different hats, and it seems each time I switch one for another, it’s been an upgrade.

I would encourage Janice always to nurture her kind heart and have compassion for others. A helping hand or even a simple smile can often go a long way to making someone’s day better.

I would want her to know about Karma. You reap what you sow. We’ve all heard those words, but when its impact hits, we realize the true implications. The thoughts and actions we put out to the Universe come back to us ten-fold. So, if we put out negative, we will get back ten times more than we put out. Staying positive is vital to a peaceful life.

Lastly, I’d tell my younger self to always remain unafraid to open her heart to love. Love is pure, and it’s selfless. It’s a joy.

We often hear that life is a journey, not a destination. And while those are only words, they carry an undeniable truth.

Here’s to the journey! It’s been quite a ride so far.

Thank you, Sally, for inviting me to participate in this fun prompt!

©Jan Sikes 2022

My thanks to Jan for sharing her thoughts on the prompt and her excellent advice that we can apply whatever age we might be at this moment. I know she would love to hear from you.

About Jan Sikes

I’ve been an avid reader all my life. I can still remember the excitement that surged through me the first time I realized I could decipher words. Many summers, I won the highest award possible from the Hobbs, NM Public Library for reading the most books.

There’s nothing I love more than losing myself in a story.

Oddly enough, I never had any ambition to be a writer. But I wound up in mid-life with a story that begged to be told. Not just any story, but a true story that rivaled any fiction creation. Through fictitious characters, the tale came to life in an intricately woven tale that encompasses four books. Not satisfied to stop with the books, I released music CDs of original music to match the time period of each story segment.

In conclusion, to bring the story full circle, I published a book of poetry and art. I was done.


The story ideas keep coming, and I don’t intend to turn off the creative fountain.

I am a member of the Author’s Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, Romance Writers of America, and the Paranormal Writer’s Guild. I am an avid fan of Texas music and grandmother of five beautiful souls. I reside in North Texas.

A small selection of other books by Jan Sikes

My review for Jagged Feathers March 3rd 2022

Having read book one of this series I was looking forward to this next story with much anticipation. I was delighted to catch up with some of the characters from Ghostly Interference and the author made the transition seamless.

Both Vann and Nankina who head the cast in this second book, carry the burden of past events in their lives and the story highlights the many challenges facing those who have served and also civilians who have been touched by tragedy.

The setting is tanquil, but danger and violence intrude into this peaceful backwater. The last thing a recovering soldier with PTSD needs is to be back in a war zone, but his need to protect a defenceless woman becomes a mission he cannot back down from.

This is a high octane thriller and romance, with some intriguing paranormal elements which draws the reader in, and sweeps them along with the action and developing love affair. And then there is also an adorable dog who despite his own past mistreatment gives love in abundance.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and recommend to those who enjoy action packed romances.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Website: Jan SikesGoodreads: Jan on Goodreads – Twitter: @rijanjks


Thank you for joining us today and I hope you will share your thoughts on the prompt in the comments.. thanks Sally.