Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up. – Irish Folklore, Debut Authors and U2….


Welcome to this week’s round up of posts and thank you for popping in to check them out.

I have been busy this week offline getting my next project on its way and will be doing the same next week. Thankfully there are plenty of contributors offering a wide range of subjects from their own archives and also some terrific original articles. I have also scheduled the usual health and humour posts whilst I am manipulating plots and characters and I hope you will enjoy again next week.

Next week sees the start of three new columns for the Smorgasbord Blog Magazine. On Wednesday Carol Taylor debuts her new Food Column and I am sure that you will enjoy her take on ingredients and recipes after sampling them in the Cook from Scratch series in 2017.

On Friday our Writer in Residence, Paul Andruss will be showcasing his other talent which is horticulture in his new Paul’s Gardening Column. Expect an introduction to exotics and less common plants to turn your garden into an award winning exhibit.

On Saturday author Jessica Norrie will be joining us once a month for her Literary blog and for her first article will be starting at the beginning with children’s books.

William Price King will be in his normal slot on Wednesday with his Music Column and part two of the life and music of Bono and U2.

I hope that you will enjoy the new features, and in addition to the Health Column and book promotions, I hope to introduce more experts to the blog in the coming weeks.

If you feel that you could contribute a column and share expertise on the following topics then I would love to hear from you. Photography,  Alternative Therapies, Film reviews and Astrology then please get in touch. There is no pay involved I am afraid but you will have the opportunity to promote your blog, books, other creative work that is for sale.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Now time to look at the posts from this week.

A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed and to you for dropping in and liking, commenting and sharing. You are a very important part of the blog and have helped it grow and evolve over the last four years.

Return of the Open House Sunday Interview beginning on January 21st.

Delighted to say that I have already filled the several slots for the new season of Open House. I schedule when I receive your answers to your questions, so please get them to me as soon as you can.. This is your showcase so when choosing your questions, select those that you can give a 300 to 500 word response to. If you are an author it is an opportunity to demonstrate your skill in engaging the reader and encouraging them to head over and buy your books.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/the-return-of-smorgasbord-open-house-interviews-for-all-writers-and-other-creative-artists/

William Price King Music Column

William Price King debuted his new Music Column with part one of the life and career of Bono and U2. This week and introduction to the band members.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/william-price-king-music-column-bono-and-u2-meet-the-band/

Writer in Residence – Paul Andruss

This week Paul Andruss entertained us with a five part story – The House by the Sea. It was clearly enjoyed judging by the comments and you can read all five parts in this directory. My thanks to Paul for this monumental effort and wonderful story.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-special-the-house-by-the-sea-by-paul-andruss/

Sally’s Book Reviews.

This week I review Vampyrie: Origin of the Vampire by Tina Frisco and I am sure that reading this book will change your perspective about vampires.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-sallys-book-reviews-vampyrie-origin-of-the-vampire-by-tina-frisco/

New Series – Debut Author Starter Pack.

Delighted that Dolly Aizenman and her debut cookbook Kool Kosher Kitchen kicked this series off in style.  Aimed at first time authors the pack includes a pre-post review of the writer’s social media and Amazon entry as well as a pdf copy of my Media Training for Authors.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-debut-author-kool-kosher-kitchen-by-dolly-aizenman/

I am only featuring one author a week so if you are interested please contact me after reading the submission post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/smorgasbord-free-book-promotions-first-time-authors/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-caledonia-by-amy-hoff/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Updates

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-update-toni-pike-deanie-humphrys-dunne-terri-webster-schrandt-jaye-marie-and-anita-dawes-and-tina-frisco/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-k-d-dowdall-bette-stevens-molly-stevens-jacquie-biggar-and-sacha-de-black/

Posts from Your Archives

If you would like to participate in the Archive post series then please read the following post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/happy-new-year-and-the-start-of-the-2018-series-of-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives/

Jane Risdon with a reminder of the dancing etiquette and music of the 1960s and 1970s and reminds us that zimmer frame or not… we can still get up and dance.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archivesdancing-around-our-zimmer-frames-with-generation-z-by-jane-risdon/

J. Hope Suis encourages us to let go anything that is tethering us and move forward to accomplish whatever we wish.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-un-tether-your-soul-lessons-from-a-baby-elephant-by-j-hope-suis/

Christy Birmingham shares some strategies for women who find meetings in business or in their personal lives a challenge.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-to-women-who-struggle-in-meetings-by-christy-birmingham/

The second part of the short story by Allan Hudson – Reaching for the Pinnacle.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-reaching-the-pinnacle-part-twoby-allan-hudson/

Frank Parker takes us through the events surrounding the arrival of the fleet of Henry II in Waterford, Ireland.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-henry-iis-irish-expedition-by-frank-parker/

Judith Barrow relates one of her adventures running a holiday let.. In this it would appear that not all was as it seemed!

 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-tales-of-our-holiday-lets-or-is-it-really-worth-it-or-tales-of-the-unexpected-by-judith-barrow/

Lori Bonati shares her thoughts on our position in the centre of the universe.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-the-centre-of-the-universe-by-lori-bonati-phillips/

Chris, The Story Reading Ape has archives full of great creative writing infographics and also guest posts from authors sharing their experience and expertise. This article is from Eric J. Gates from 2014 which is just as relevant today.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-the-story-reading-ape-shares-researching-for-your-novel-effective-interviewing-by-eric-j-gates/

Karen Ingalls shares the story of a very brave young boy whose legacy was a pay-it-forward movment of random acts of kindness.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/13/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-paying-it-forward-by-karen-ingalls/

Elizabeth Lloyd will be sharing extracts from her mother Betty’s diaries from 1944 to the end of the war during her service with the ATS.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/14/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-bettys-war-ww2-1944-by-elizabeth-lloyd/

 

Health Column

dsc_1737

As we get older our perspective on many things begins to change. Our brain function may not be as sharp as it used to be, but with a healthy diet and plenty of stimulation you can remain mentally active your entire life.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/smorgasbord-health-2018-the-dynamics-of-change-our-mental-being/

seasonal-affective-disorder

At this time of year the lack of sunlight can result in a deficiency of Vitamin D which leads to a drop in levels of other essential chemical elements in our brains and bodies.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/smorgasbord-health-2018-seasonal-affective-disorder-tryptophan-and-winter-blues/

Humour

divorce

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-laughter-lines-lawyers-and-blondes-and-engineers/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-parrots-doing-what-parrots-do-compilation/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-the-joys-of-marriage/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-rewind-dont-set-the-alarm-this-weekend/

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist

Two of the tracks on my playlist.. one from Peter Sarstedt from the 1960s and a current one from the Nashville television show.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/sallys-drive-time-playlist-music-to-get-the-weekend-started-peter-sarstedt-and-nashville/

 

 

 

Advertisements

Writer in Residence – The House by the Sea – Chapter Five by Paul Andruss


Yesterday Patrick Noone discovered the joy and freedom of life beneath and in the waves of the sea with Muireann. Sadness enters his life however and his swimming lessons are put on hold. Will this mysterious woman wait for him? Paul Andruss takes us into the final chapter.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA – Chapter Five by Paul Andruss

A month short of being twenty-one, Patrick was summoned home from work to meet a fancy lawyer from the country town. Biddy, with a deference Patrick had never seen before in his life, showed him into the parlour, previously only used for Pat’s funeral, and meekly poured tea, served in her best china. She indicated Patrick to sit down in one of the good armchairs; and him in his rough and shite and all.

The lawyer began without preamble. ‘Patrick Noone, on reaching your majority, you will inherit your father’s share of his business, this house, freehold and without lien, and a capital sum standing at a little over two thousand five hundred pounds, representing invested profits. As you are probably aware your aunt was able to draw on this for your support over the years, however it must be said, she has behaved admirably.

‘I have been instructed to inform you by your father’s old partner, a Mr O’Leary, now of Cork, he would like you to take your place in the firm. I believe he was kept abreast of your upbringing by your aunt.’

Biddy nodded.

‘Is it to do with my father’s fishing boat?’ Patrick asked Biddy.

The lawyer answered. ‘I believe that was the original company. However Mr. O’Leary subsequently built up a successful business of three merchant cargo steamers. He is making a very generous offer.

‘I do understand this is a lot to digest, young man; hence my early announcement. As I am affiliated to the company’s legal firm, I am instructed to offer whatever guidance you require over the coming month.’

Picking up his satchel, the lawyer took out a sheaf of papers. ‘I would suggest you review these and that we meet in my office in a fortnight to discuss your questions. I will send an appointment letter.’ He looked Patrick up and down. ‘I also suggest I introduce you to my tailor.’

He put out his hand for Patrick to shake and rather awkwardly Patrick stood to take the proffered hand in his own dirty paw. The lawyer’s expression did not change at all.

‘Delighted, I will see you in two weeks then.’

‘So what are yer thinkin?’ Biddy asked after the lawyer left.

‘I’m not too sure what I’m thinking.’

‘Give it time,’ Biddy answered.

After telling Ron the foreman, Patrick asked if he could carry on working, until they replaced him. He had wanted to say until he had decided what to do but thought Ron would not believe him. He barely believed himself. He said he would have to go home each night rather than sleeping in the camp. There were papers to look at, and things to think about.

In truth, the only thing Patrick wanted to think about was Muireann. He wanted to know if he had lost her forever. Each evening he’d stand on the beach, looking forlornly out to sea, praying she’d appear. When it got too dark, he’d reluctantly head off home. One precious night, he saw a solitary dark head break the waves. Carelessly he ran into the surf, calling out her name; slapping the water, shouting himself hoarse. By some miracle she came, swimming through the wine dark sea under a violet sky.

Peering through the deepening gloom, his heart sank every time he lost her in the swell and surged as she reappeared. Suddenly the head appeared so close he could clearly see it was a curious seal. For a few long seconds, it stared at him with large dark eyes, before diving underwater.

He swore there and then in his anguish if he could but see her one more time. Mermaid, fairy; no matter what she was, he would declare undying love and put his life in her hands. Declare it while he could: before his whole life changed and she was forever lost.

Walking back to the house Patrick thought he heard singing on the wind, faint but unmistakeable, like the song that haunted his childhood dreams. That night he prayed. He who never prayed, who had never asked anyone for anything, prayed to God and Jesus and the Holy Mother, to Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, to his mother in case she was in heaven, and his Uncle Pat and his father who already were.

The next day, at twilight, Patrick’s prayers were answered. Muireann waited on the beach wearing her antique green dress. Heart singing, he ran to her. All he wanted to do was sweep her up in his arms. To kiss her, and to have her kiss him back. She stopped him before he could touch her.

‘I tried to stay away’, she told him, ‘but seeing you unhappy…’

‘I knew it was you.’

She hushed him. ‘I am not what you think.’

I don’t care what you are. I love you.’

‘And I love you too. I always have, for your whole life. ’ she replied. ‘Patrick, I am your mother.’

He felt as if the whole world was falling in. He couldn’t speak; couldn’t look at her.

Her voice was gentle. ‘We of the Selkie live in the sea, only casting off our seal skins to come ashore. If our skins are taken we remain prisoners on dry land.’

‘My father?’

‘I loved your father Patrick, loved him so much I gave up everything. We hatched a plan to keep my seal skin locked securely in a chest. He said he would always wear the key over his heart, as a sign of our love. I returned with you one day to find his sister in the house. The chest dragged from its hiding pace with lid flung open. My sealskin, draped over a chair, had lost its sheen. It looked stiff and dry as old leather. It brought tears to my eyes. I was filled irrational longing.

‘He told me to tell you he doesn’t love you any more,’ his sister told me as I stared at my unloved skin. ‘Said, I should burn that auld thing.

‘How could it not be true? She knew our greatest secret. He must have given her the key to open the chest. Madness descended on me. I was afraid she would take my skin and throw it in the fire. I snatched it up. She grabbed you. ‘Go’, she snarled, ‘he wants you gone.’

‘All I could think was to save my skin; to bring back its gloss and shine. As soon as I felt the cold caress of the waves, felt my two skins bond, my form change, I remembered she had you. But what could I do? You were born without a skin. And I was unable to step on land until a year passed for each year spent in mortal form.’

His mother’s large brown eyes filled with tears. ‘I used to sing to you. Did you hear me?’

He nodded slowly, blubbering, ‘He never stopped loving you. He thought you left him; was terrified you’d come for me.’

His mother hugged him, tenderly pulling down his head to nestle in the crook between her shoulder and neck, gently stroking his hair. Although Patrick was taller and broader than she, he instinctively knew these were the arms he remembered caressing him as a child.

‘I know he loved me. I was the one who found him,’ she gently told her son. ‘He swam too long, too far, searching for me. The key, our key was still around his neck. And then I knew she lied. And he did too. Knew she’d betrayed the secret he shared with the sister he loved.

‘I brought him home to the strand in front of the house, waiting with him all night until the sky grew pale. I saw you leave for school, with her waving you off at the door. I waited until you were gone and called out.

‘Although she only heard the bark of a seal, she knew it was me. She seized the axe from the woodpile and came charging down the beach. When she saw him, she knew. I saw it in her face; all her schemes born from bitterness unravelling.

‘She dropped the axe, falling down in a heap, weeping and keening over what she’d done.

We stayed until the sun rose high, wife and sister with the man they loved, who had each thought in their own way to make him happy and between them destroyed him.

‘When she stopped crying she looked up, blowing her nose on her sleeve. It seemed as if some part was broken, or something inside had died. I turned back to the sea leaving her alone with her sin.’

When he got home, Patrick told Biddy he had met his mother on the beach. Biddy said nothing, putting out the dinner in silence. When he was in bed she knocked on his door and came uninvited into his room.

‘It wasn’t what you think,’ she began. ‘I was at me wits end with yer poor Uncle Pat shivering in two damp rooms an her, that godless creature, throwing the fact she wanted for nothing in me face; what with yer father, and you, and this fine big house.’

Patrick said nothing, pretending to be asleep until Biddy stumbled to a halt and left. Unable to sleep he got up before first light and made his way to work. Taking foreman Ron to one side he asked for his due wages. With none to be had until Saturday, the lads had a whip round scraping together what they could. A passing cart gave him a lift to the station up the line. From there took the train to the country town, where he told the lawyer he would like to take up Mr O’Leary’s offer. He then instructed the lawyer to sell the house by the sea and settle an adequate sum on his aunt.

Arriving in Cork Patrick lodged with Mr O’Leary and his wife. In time he fell in love with and married Mr O’Leary’s eldest daughter Kathleen. An arrangement, that must be said, suited all parties. His aunt did not come to the wedding; although his cousin did.

Patrick’s cousin was a pretty young thing. Some might call her beautiful with her thick dark curls and large soulful eyes that turned many a young man’s head at the wedding party. Although some young women cattily remarked, as some will when alone together at social gatherings where they feel ignored, that the darkness of her eyes, hair and brows left her skin looking pale as ivory and her generous lips quite pinched and bloodless.

©Paul Andruss 2018

© Image The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin and Pinterest.

I am sure that you have enjoyed this story as much as I have and a huge thanks to Paul for the enormous amount of time spent in writing it for us.

Find the previous chapters here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-special-the-house-by-the-sea-by-paul-andruss/

Paul asked that I share some of the links from The Colour of Life by Geoff Cronin that he enjoyed and included elements of in this story.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/the-colour-of-life-chapter-two-my-grandfathers-story-1930-by-geoff-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/the-colour-of-life-james-the-landlord-1939-by-geoff-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/the-colour-of-life-work-on-a-timber-gang-1942-by-geoff-cronin/

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is an extract from my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

Read the rest of the review and challenge you senses and pick up a copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you to Paul for this special story and he would love your feedback. Thanks Sally

 

Writer in Residence – The House by the Sea – Chapter Four by Paul Andruss


In yesterday’s chapter we meet a woman who seems impervious to the cold as she swims naked in the sea. Patrick Noone is enthralled by her exotic behaviour and agrees to meet her and learn how to swim….Paul Andruss continues the story.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA – Chapter Four – Paul Andruss

Biddy wanted to know why he was soaking wet. He could not tell her about the woman. No, he did not want to tell her. So he made up some tall tale about falling in the woods, getting covered in mud from head to foot, and washing himself in the sea. Biddy stared gimlet-eyed like she didn’t believe a word.

‘Yer stupid get,’ she said eventually. ‘Now get outta them wet things an get some aul newspapers stuffed in them boots to dry them out by the stove.’

That night all Patrick thought about was the strange woman. He wasn’t stupid. He knew no ordinary woman could swim naked in a storm-ripped winter sea. It came as no surprise her name was Muireann. He knew the story of Muireann from school; a mermaid caught long ago in Lough Neagh in the North, who became a woman when baptised by some old saint.

All his life Patrick had heard the old stories of mermaids drowning sailors or bad fairies dragging children down to the green weeds of the river bed. But if she’d wanted him dead, she could a done it there and then. She didn’t need to offer to teach him to swim. No, whatever she was, he was sure she meant no harm.

Saturday afternoon found Patrick on the beach. He had taken off his boots and socks, along with his jacket, trousers and shirt, to stand shivering in the wind off the sea, naked except his oldest patched pair of long underpants. The ones he knew Biddy would never miss.

Muireann did not come from the sea, but walked along the wind whipped sand in an faded dress of spoilt green satin and forlorn lace. It looked as if it might have once been worn by a fine lady a hundred years ago. Its long full skirt swept the sand smooth. Its trace washed away in turn by the tide.

The dress was wet and clung to every curve. He thought it strange as her hair and skin were dry. Her thick dark hair curled unbound to the waist. Sleek and glossy, it looked as if it had been brushed until it gleamed. Eyes, dark and lustrous as he remembered, left her skin pale as ivory; her full lips looked bloodless with the cold. He thought her beautiful.

‘Don’t you look handsome,’ she remarked.

Handsome or not he found himself lost for words, and felt his face colour. He stood watching her watching him, as the cold spray plastered the thin fabric of his underpants to every muscle. Without a word she reached out to take his hands and walking backward drew him into the sea.

‘Do not be afraid,’ she he told him.

‘I’m not afraid.’

‘It feels cold at first but that is the wind on the waves. Take a deep breath and fall to me.’

He closed his eyes and squeezing her hands fearfully, did what he was told. There was a moment of panic as his feet went from under him, but her grip held firm. Under the waves it felt warm, or at least not cold. He felt light as air and just as free. He put his head up to take another breath and plunged it back underwater, opening his eyes to a brief sting of salt. He laughed. The air bubbling from of his mouth forced him to find his feet and stand with the waves crashing from waist to chest.

‘Do you like it?’ she asked.

He nodded, eager; greedy; happy as a child on his birthday.

‘A deep breath,’ she instructed.

He breathed and together they plunged beneath the waves.

They say everyone favours one of the four elements. Some breeze through life with laughter in their heart. Some light up the world around them, though they may be changeable as the day is long. Others, solid and dependable, will not be moved if they know they are right. They thirst for justice and are good to have standing at your side in troubled times. Then there are those, often the quiet ones, who run still and deep. Whether they be calm or tempestuous, they do not give love easily. But when they love… ah, when they love, over time that love of theirs will erode mountains.

On Monday Patrick saw Muireann walking along the beach in another antique dress. As luck would have it, or maybe it was a premonition, he had packed his old underpants in his knapsack. After this they met for an hour each evening on his way home to swim together. With the lengthening days and bursting buds, Patrick realised he dreaded the return of spring. Sleeping under the trees night after night seemed a poor substitute with his new taste for the sea.

In his heart he knew this is what his father felt in his fishing boat: the call of the sea; in all her moods. And perhaps there was more. A dark sinister thought crept in, growing like a worm gnawing at his heart. Perhaps his father had known his own Muireann. Perhaps this was this why he drowned, searching for one such as her? Perhaps this was why his mother left?

Day after day he steeled himself to ask Muireann if she knew of his father. Each time he quailed, afraid of what it would mean. If her people were responsible for his father’s death or his mother leaving; where would that leave them?

One Thursday morning, no more than couple of hours after starting work, Sam the Undertaker’s son burst into the logging camp looking for Patrick. His Uncle Pat was dead. Ron the foreman told him to take what time he needed and he’d try not to dock his wages if he could. Although wages were the last thing on Patrick’s mind.

Biddy later told him Pat had died in his sleep. He knew Biddy and Pat slept in different rooms. Pat’s cough kept her up all night leaving her good for nothing. She’d seen him when she took in with his early morning tea. He was so peaceful; not a peep out of him. She thought it would be a kindness to let him sleep; not realising he was already gone.

As darkness fell Patrick grew fretful. Muireann was expecting him. What if he didn’t show? Would she ever come again? But how could he leave Biddy? She had no one else. Reluctantly he closed the curtains, knowing they would not be opened again ‘til after the funeral. There would be no swimming now, no dalliance, at least for a while. It was no comfort to know he was doing the right thing.

The funeral was Saturday afternoon so friends from the logging camp could act as pallbearers. Patrick was not in work but sat with Biddy night and day watching over the body. Friday night everyone turned up for the send-off. Biddy laid on a spread, with a barrel brought from the pub in the drayman’s cart.

It was a good turn-out. There was lots a laughing and singing round the coffin with two fellas from the pub on fiddle and banjo. Near midnight, when the songs were getting maudlin and people shifting uneasily, looking ready to leave, it was time for Pat to go. Biddy went over and opened the window, while respectfully the mourners formed an avenue for his spirit to pass between them out into the night.

The funeral went without a hitch. Everyone came round after. They were subdued for a while, probably nursing hangovers. Some brought a bottle or two by way of commiseration. Wives drifted by with a stew-pot, a spare pie or something else they’d baked. Before anyone knew, it was midnight again and the barrel was finished and the bottles empty and everyone was saying what a great aul fella Paddy was. Though by Jeasus, they’d bothered with him little enough before. And that was that. The man was laid to earth. Biddy and Patrick were expected to get on with it.

After Church on Sunday, there was cold-cuts for dinner and a slice of pie. Claiming a blindin’ head, Biddy went to bed. At a loss Patrick went to the sea. When Muireann wasn’t there, he stripped himself naked and swam until his arms and legs burned. Coming out he realised his eyes were running with tears and he thought it must be the bloody salt water.

For the next week he went to the sea each evening on his way home from work. Muireann had gone. Sometimes he stripped himself and swam. But his heart wasn’t in it. By the month end he was back to work proper and sleeping under the stars, or more often than not under a stretched tarpaulin with the rain drip, drip, dripping off the branches onto the oiled canvass above his head. He missed the sea. But on them nights he missed the sea least of all.

©Paul Andruss 2018

© Images The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin

My thanks again to Paul for this compelling episode in this story and I hope you will pop in tomorrow for the final part.

Find the previous chapters here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-special-the-house-by-the-sea-by-paul-andruss/

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is an extract from my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

Read the rest of the review and challenge you senses and pick up a copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you to Paul for this special story and he would love your feedback. Thanks Sally

Writer in Residence – The House by the Sea – Chapter Three by Paul Andruss


Welcome to the third chapter of The House by the Sea. We left Patrick Noone coming to terms with life with his Aunt Biddy and Uncle Pat. At seven years old he took over the chores for his ill uncle and has learned the value of hard work. Paul Andruss picks up the story.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA – Chapter Three – Paul Andruss

At the age of fourteen, Biddy put a word in and Patrick got the gardener’s boy’s job up the big house. The gardener, an amiable old chap who headed a team of ten good natured fellas, took bright eager Patrick under his wing, intending to teach him all he knew. Perhaps he felt sorry for him because he was quiet. At the end of his second year the old man sat Patrick down, knocked out his pipe on the heel of his boot and slowly shook his head.

‘By the holy Jeasus an all o’ his saints lad, you’ve a aul rare gift. No matter what I gives yer, by Jeasus, if it don’t curl up an die. I might as well save meself the trouble an dip it in saltwater. Now I likes yer, I do, an there is no doubt yer can graft, but it can’t go on. I’m supposed ta be fillin the place like the Garden o’ Eden, not leaving it scorched as the hobs a Hell.

‘Now Paddy lad, don’t be lookin at me like a dog off to be whipped, I spake to Danny, that’s Mr McEnery ta yer, an yer fixed ta join is timber gang, if he likes the cut of yer jib. It’s a good life lad, an yer gift for killin plants ain’t such a handicap to them, what with the business the’re in,’ he chortled.

That afternoon the gardener took him to be looked over by the Estates Manager Mr McEnery, or ‘that miserable aul’ get’ as everyone else referred to him. The estate had a logging team and its own timber mill, each run by a foreman under McEnery. At first Patrick was put in the timber mill, which he hated; especially with McEnery living up to his nickname, barking out his orders with a puss on him like he’d been slapped round the face with an aul kipper.

Lucky for Patrick within a fortnight one of the logging men had an accident and he was sent to the team, temporary mind, to help load and drive the cart. It was a wet cold miserable week. None of the other fellas were keen on moving out of the comfort of the factory.

Patrick loved the freedom, loved no one checking on you every five minutes. Most of all, he loved being in the woods with the scattered diffused light breaking through the dark green canopy and the rain on his face. He thought it was the closest he’d ever come to being underwater. It was like living in the sea.

Before long he was wielding an axe as good as any of them and loving every minute. The rest of the lads were like Uncle Pat, except fit and full of laughter. Even the foreman Ron, only got stiff when aul McEnery came sniffing round, which wasn’t that often as long as you got your quota to the mill on time.

In summer they would stay out for days on end, working dawn ‘til dusk and sleeping on canvass cots under tarpaulins stretched between branches like tents. They kept a roaring log fire on the go, cooking up a big aul frying pans a bacon, sausage, eggs n bread, n spuds roast in the ashes. With a big aul billie a tea, strong n sweet with condensed milk, stewing away night and day.

He worked six and half days, and it was hard, hard labour, but it filled him out. By the age of twenty he was weathered as seasoned oak, with muscles like ripcords, a strong back and broad across the shoulders. A quiet man, each Saturday afternoon instead of staying in the pub with the lads, he’d head back to Aunt Biddy to turn over the bulk of his wages and help out with the chores. On the way home he always made sure to pick up a couple a pint bottles of the black stuff from the pub and a pack of ciggies from the tobacconists for Uncle Pat along with a bag of boiled sweets for Biddy.

There was Mass on Sunday morning followed by a slap up breakfast and a slap up dinner. By suppertime he was heading back to camp with a week’s worth of clean clothes and a couple of large meat and potato pies in his backpack to share with the lads.

Winter was different. It was too cold to be sleeping rough. With the short days the lads headed off early to their homes or lodgings in the town. At one point, Patrick even suggested Auntie Biddy take in a few for the extra money, but by this time Big Pat wasn’t well enough. The poor aul sod looked like death, propped up in the big aul armchair by the grate day and night; asleep more often than not, with a burned down ciggie hangin’ from his lips.

He’d joke the doctor told him to stay away from the ciggies. ‘But I said to him,’ he’d say, ‘by Jeasus Doc, and where am I goin’ a get one a them fancy ciggie holders when I’m buggered walking ta the privy?’

Then he’d laugh, which would start the hacking cough, which wouldn’t stop. Biddy or Patrick would have to bend him forward and rub his back trying to loosen the congestion. Sometimes after a bad attack, Patrick saw Biddy bent over the stove, or doing the ironing, quietly crying. He knew better than to say something.

It was an early spring afternoon, one of them days with just a promise of what’s to come in the air. Patrick was walking home before twilight. There had been a filthy big storm the day before that left the logging camp like a sea of mud, with nothing movin’. The foremen sent them home saying they’d get an early start tomorra.

As Patrick hit the coast path leading down to the house, didn’t he see the strangest thing on the beach? At first, he didn’t know what to make of it. Then thought his eyes was deceiving him. There was something black and white caught in the surf. It couldn’t be; but it was. Jesus Christ and all his saints in heaven! There was a body washed up, all white, broken and naked: a woman judging by the long dark hair tangled by the crashing waves.

His first thought was she must have drowned. There were stories he’d heard, what with living by the sea all his life, how the riptide could strip a body naked. Holy Mary Mother of God, what a hideous way to go! He was debating what to do when he saw her move. He knew it wasn’t the waves, when she moved again. Jesus Christ she was alive!

Yelling like a mad man he tore down the cliff path. Within twenty or thirty wards there was a way down to the beach: he knew it well. He hit the sand running so fast he went tumbling arse over tip. As he struggled to his feet, he looked again. He was too late. She was gone.

A cry of anguish was ripped out of the heart of him. Patrick pelted into the crashing white surf, looking right and left, hoping to find some trace. Anything!

He was shocked to see the top of a head appear from beneath the waves. A slim pale hand wiped away the long dark hair plastered across her face to reveal large brown liquid eyes looking at him, full of curiosity.

He stared back uncomprehending.

‘You’re alive?’ he muttered after a moment.

Slowly the rest of her head emerged, a delicate nose and full lips, pinched and blue with the cold.

‘I heard you coming, I had no clothes.’

‘I thought you was dead!’

‘Me? No.’ she laughed.

‘You looked dead’, he protested, biting his lip, scared to offend her. But she had looked dead; lying white and broken; cast up like flotsam.

Slowly she rose from the water, her long sleek hair sticking like a pelt to her narrow shoulders as she broke surface. Under the water it floated like strands of kelp, obscuring the swell of her breasts.

Patrick blushed to see her rising naked. He turned away. He had never seen a woman and was desperate to look. But not like this. It wasn’t decent.

He felt a peck on his cheek. ‘You are gallant,’ she said, sounding as if she was laughing at him.

Before he could stop himself, he’d looked. She was holding something to protect her modesty, lank and dark like a wet blanket, or perhaps wet leather, or maybe moleskin, for it looked slick and glossy.

‘I was swimming.’ She took his hand in her icy one and led him from the water. ‘You will catch your death.’

‘And what about you?’

‘I never feel the cold’.

She saw him puzzling over this. ‘I swim every day.’

‘It must be marvellous… to swim’

‘Can’t you?’

He shook his head.

‘Perhaps I could teach you. Would you like that?’

They were out of the swell now. The waves crashing no more than calf deep still wanted to drag him under. She began to adjust her blanket, draping it over her breasts and torso, leaving her white arms and shoulders bare.

He must have been staring for she was laughed. ‘Go home. I have a long swim a head of me and you will catch your death.’

Obediently he waded out of the cold grey water. Reaching the beach he heard her say,

‘When?’

He looked back.

‘Your swimming lesson. When?’

Saturday,’ he hesitantly replied, ‘afternoon. Two?’
‘I am Muireann.’ She smiled. ‘And I will wear something more appropriate.’

‘I’m Patrick.’ He returned her smile.

‘What a lovely name.’

He walked up the beach, feeling her eyes on him. Reaching the dunes he turned to wave goodbye. She was gone.

©Paul Andruss 2018

©Images The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin

The mystery deepens.. who is the strange woman who is brave enough to swim in such wintery seas…. pop in tomorrow to find out more.

Find the previous chapters here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-special-the-house-by-the-sea-by-paul-andruss/
 

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is an extract from my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

Read the rest of the review and challenge you senses and pick up a copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you to Paul for this special story and he would love your feedback. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Reblog – Writer in Residence – How the Whale Became by Paul Andruss


This is a companion piece to the much discussed post last week by Paul Andruss on how the Elephant had a near miss and nearly became a whale…..

The Whale’s Tail: or just a fluke? (Trip advisor.co.uk)

How the Whale Became

Companion to How the Elephant almost became a Whale on Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord by Paul Andruss

In 1859, Charles Darwin hesitated over publishing On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection.

It was not because he was concerned about the church’s reaction. He took care to excise any suggestion man was descended from the ape, even if the logical inference was staring people in the face.

And he was not concerned about his fellow scientists. Evolution was old news. His great-uncle Erasmus Darwin wrote about evolution in 1796. In 1806, the French philosopher Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed animals changed shape by reacting to the environment, thus baby giraffes were born with longer necks because their parents were always stretching up to reach the tree tops.

Darwin’s knew his theory of change by natural selection was sound. Farmers had been improving livestock by selective breeding for centuries. It required no stretch of the imagination to see if animals were better suited to natural conditions they would be the ones to breed and pass on their adaptations to offspring.

What Darwin was really worried about was the lack of evidence one animal could change into another. It was obvious people had bred a myriad of dog species from the wolf, but what he was proposing was equal to a dog changing into an elephant.

Darwin needed a transitional form, an animal forming a bridge between one creature and another. Otherwise, how could he explain how a sea mammal like a whale had come from a land animal, when there were no similarities between the two?

Archaeopteryx (Natural hist fossil & its-nature)

Read the rest of this fascinating post on the evolutionary journey of the whale: http://www.paul-andruss.com/how-the-whale-became/

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

You can find all of Paul’s past posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Writer in Residence – The House by the Sea – Chapter Two by Paul Andruss


We continue with part two of the story of Patrick Noone whose life is bound inextricably with the sea. Tragedy has already struck with the loss of his mother, whose large and beautiful eyes are one of the few memories he has of her.  Paul Andruss shares more of Patrick’s childhood.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA – Chapter Two by Paul Andruss

After his father’s death, the years rolled on; the last much the same as the next with little to choose between them. Patrick grew into a fine strong lad, wiling and polite, if a little withdrawn, but with something that made people warm to the ‘poor orphan’.

At seven he made his first Confession and Holy Communion before becoming an altar boy at the Blessed Virgin with Father O’Malley. He got new clothes at Whitsun and Christmas, but for the rest of the year Biddy patched and made do. In the years of his First Holy Communion, and later, his Confirmation, the new clothes were saved up for the big day, so Biddy could make a good impression on the parish.

Patrick remembered his Confirmation Sunday because everyone went up in a charabanc to the big church where the Bishop marked them with chrism, filling them with the Holy Spirit by whispering a secret name in each child’s ear that only God and the angels knew.

Over the years, Patrick came to learn his Aunt Biddy was not a cruel woman. True, she had a fierce temper on her and little suffered shenanigans; what, with the washing and the ironing she took in, keeping house and putting meals on the table. Patrick had his fair share to do, especially as his uncle’s health grew worse. As Biddy informed him one day when he was about eight, you’re the man now.

Each morning he cleaned out the grate, set the fire, and fed the chickens, before running down the farm for a pitcher of creamy new milk, essential, so Biddy claimed, for someone with contagion on the lungs, and to pick up a loaf from the bakery. After school he chopped wood and brought it from the woodpile to the house, saw to the chickens and weeded the small garden where his uncle grew cabbage, potatoes and leek.

Every six months, spring and fall, he used the old yard-brush to paint the inside of the privy with lime-wash to keep out infection. Brought up by Biddy, Patrick never feared hard work and cheerfully did every task she dished out. The one he liked best was the first job he did every day after school: running down the alehouse with a stone jug for a quart of black porter for Uncle Pat.

It would have been a couple of years after his father died Patrick asked if his mother drowned too. Was that was why his father hated the sea?

‘Yer mother didn’t drown’, Biddy snarled with the face on her screwed up ‘til lips and eyes were no more than gashes. ‘She ran off and left him. Broke his heart she did; the bloody fool!’

She looked at Patrick with something like a cross between pity and contempt; staring so long he wished he could turn invisible. He looked down at his feet, but could still feel her eyes burning into the top of his head. At last she snorted and spat on the iron. And with the hiss, the heat in his face evaporated.

Biddy was not a talkative woman. Usually she barked orders and stood gimlet eyed as he scurried to carry them out to her satisfaction. But that day Biddy talked and talked.

Perhaps it was the long firm strokes of the iron that soothed and left her in a sort of trance. Maybe it was the odd, sly, encouraging word from Uncle Pat. Whatever, Patrick had the sense to stay frozen; aware the smallest movement would break the spell. He learned more about his family in one afternoon than he had in his whole short life.

‘Yer father never hated the sea,’ Biddy told him. ‘Even had a boat, handsome Knox it was with a sail as well as an engine. Happy as a sand-boy; spent his days fishing for crab an lobster for them grand hotels down the coast what cater for the tourists who come down from Cork, an even far away as Dublin. He was mammy’s youngest an so handsome; the apple of her eye.’

Biddy worked in one of those hotels.

‘Housekeeper mind, not one of yer scullery maids, second only to the under-manager I was. But that was before I met yer Uncle Pat.’ She nodded to her husband in the big armchair by the fire, cradling his pewter pint pot. ‘He was under-manager for the next hotel on the bay. We met at the big staff Christmas party.

‘By this time I’d given up on walking out with a fella an was resigned to goin’ to me grave a dried up aul spinster, til the Holy Mother of God had mercy on me. One thing led to another an before we knew where we was, me an Pat was wed.

‘Well, married women weren’t like girls and widows; working wasn’t for us. Anyway in them days, I thought I’d soon have me hands full with a house full of me own. Not long after, we moved to Dublin. It was when yer got that job Pat wasn’t it. But the filthy air didn’t agree with yer did it?

Pat nodded and coughed pathetically to demonstrate exactly how it hadn’t agreed with him.

Biddy carried on speaking about her husband as if he wasn’t there…

‘It was his poor aul lungs. Shot thru thee was. Well I tell yer, it was hand to mouth for a couple of years, ‘til we came back an I got a job charrin’ for Doctor an Missus Lowther. By this time you’d arrived. Yer was about three or four by then.

‘Our Micky, yer dad, had built this fine big house by the sea for her; cos she liked the sea did yer mother. But I never warmed to her. A right cold fish, she was. Miserable as the day was long. You’d think she’d lost a half a crown an found a sixpence. I didn’t see your father much in them days, but he seemed happy when he came down with a nice bit of fish or a few shillin to help us out.’

After that day, Biddy gradually seemed to soften towards Patrick, as if whatever passed for a heart was slowly melting. Big Pat, always fond of the lad, became almost like a father.

As his health worsened, on fine afternoons Biddy sat her husband outside under the veranda in a wicker chair, with a blanket over his knees, to get the benefit of the sea’s ‘salubrious ozone’. But she took care to keep him out of the wind.

After chores Patrick liked to join his uncle. Big Pat smoked his Players Full Strength hawking and coughing so hard it would seem a mercy if he dropped down dead. When he nodded Patrick topped up his uncle’s pewter pint-pot with the thick dark beer in the jug.

They never spoke much, but enjoyed the company. Sometimes, not often, Biddy would stick her head out and on cue Patrick ran to fetch a chair from the kitchen. Biddy would let him pour her a half mug of porter and the three sat in comfortable silence until the evening turned chilly.

©Paul Andruss 2018

©Images The Colour of Life Geoff Cronin

Thanks to Paul for another amazing chapter and don’t forget to pop in tomorrow for the next episode.

Find the previous chapter here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-special-the-house-by-the-sea-by-paul-andruss/

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is an extract from my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

Read the rest of the review and challenge you senses and pick up a copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you to Paul for this special story and he would love your feedback. Thanks Sally

 

 

Writer in Residence Five Part Short Story – The House by the Sea- Chapter One by Paul Andruss


As regular visitors to the blog you will have already enjoyed the factual and fiction posts by Paul Andruss. When I mentioned that I was going to be spending the next week writing, he offered to write a story for the blog in five parts to keep you entertained. I was deeply touched, as would my father-in-law Geoff Cronin, by Paul’s dedication. It is wonderful to have your writing appreciated especially by someone who is himself a superb author.

I am sure you will enjoy this five part story over the next week and I have illustrated with some photographs from the stories of Geoff Cronin.

THE HOUSE BY THE SEA by Paul Andruss

Dedicated to Master storytellers
Geoff Cronin whose tales inspired the setting
& his spiritual heir & daughter in law
Sally Cronin whose short stories inspired me to try

Patrick Noone had liked the sea ever since he could remember. He liked the way its wildness stirred restlessness in his heart. His earliest memories were of yearning to plunge into the world beneath the waves; to hold his breath and let the current sweep him where it would.

Those memories came unbidden as he lay in bed, or at twilight watching a red bloated sun sink into grey. At such times, he remembered sitting in someone’s lap with protective arms wrapped around him. He believed it was his mother; although he remembered nothing of her. He imagined if he could only turn his head to look into her eyes he would see everything. But of course, he could not.

Sometimes when he had fallen into these reveries, he thought he heard low singing in a feminine lilting voice. Never words, just a soothing noise on the edge of hearing, like the whisper of waves on the beach below the house. At such times, he remembered large, dark, liquid eyes revealing his reflection and a wide expanse of seamlessly joined sky and sea. They were his mother’s eyes he supposed. They were certainly not his father’s.

His father hated the sea. His earliest memory of his father was of a bright day. Left to his own devices young Patrick wondered down to the beach and stood letting the water lap around his toes. He was entranced, lost in the sound of distant singing. Suddenly he was snatched up. Thrust face first into a musty corduroy jacket smelling of cigarettes, and carried roughly away.

His father did not say a word as he dropped him in a heap on the kitchen floor. He made to take off his belt; then stopped. He stood staring at his son for minutes. Or was it hours? Patrick did not know. When you are a child, time seems frozen and sometimes in memory, time is frozen too.

He remembered his father’s face crumpled as he let out an anguished cry. It left Patrick shaking and he burst into tears. His father knelt down and hugged him. Patrick remembered being held so tight he could not breathe. He fought as children do when feeling smothered. Without warning his father let go and walked out the house. Patrick must have been about 5 years old.

Patrick always thought his father died that night, although he knew it was not true. For some time they lived in two rooms, the kitchen and parlour next door with all the furniture pushed back to make room for a large cold bed where Patrick and his father slept. Not though his father ever slept in the bed, he always fell asleep in the chair with a bottle on the table and a pewter mug in his hand.

In the morning Patrick would creep around, looking for a crust. Perhaps he’d find scrapings of a leek and potato soup from Aunt Biddy, or scraps congealed on last night’s plates of cold boiled bacon and colcannon. Patrick did not wake his father. Not because he was afraid, but because when his father slept he looked almost happy.

He remembered Aunt Biddy in a blustering rage accusing her brother of not loving Patrick. She claimed he was afraid of him. Even at that young age Patrick knew not a single word coming from Biddy’s mouth was true. Even she did not believe it. Biddy had her eye on his father’s handsome house; neglected and forlorn as it was.

A crying shame she scolded, with no fire in the grate and filth in the corners piled high as the dirty dishes in the sink. This was no way to live, with a poor wee mite running round filthy and bare arsed as a heathen. And didn’t she make a great show of wanting to be a sainted mother to him, lunging at Patrick with her great white arms in which to smother him. A fate Patrick avoided only by hiding behind his father’s chair.

Biddy rubbed her eyes with the edge of her pinnie. Rubbed them in the exact place tears might appear, had there been any. Upon her life she sniffled, all she ever wanted was wee ‘uns of her own. But she couldn’t yer see. Not with Big Pat’s lungs shot through with the consumption. Her voice already a hoarse whisper dropped to inaudibility at the thought of any indelicacy passing her lips. The malarkey, she mouthed, not possible yer see. Over the years Patrick often wondered if Biddy had wanted wee ‘uns of her own why she never treated him better.

Biddy was the type of woman any man would struggle to best, never mind his father with all the fight gone from him. As Patrick could testify from experience, her powerful white arms and raw rough hands could land a clout to send you spinning clean across the room; if she had a mind, which she often did.

Not long afterwards, Biddy moved in with her husband, Big Pat, a small mean-built man, skinny and pale as Biddy was large and red. Before night fell, the whole house smelled of carbolic and damp washing, a smell even the tempting aroma of a mutton stew could not overwhelm. By the end of the week she forbad Patrick’s father from drinking in the house, which meant he went out drinking in the pub. Then she forbad Big Pat from going with him, which meant he carried on drinking in the house. From then on Patrick saw his father less and less. Which was good in a way, for when he drowned Patrick never really noticed he was gone.

Once the house was as she liked it, Biddy turned her attention to Patrick. Biddy took in washing and ironing for the big house, the doctor and the priest, and wanted him out from under her feet. Announcing she couldn’t have him running round the house all day long like a wild heathen, she scrubbed him, head to foot, with gritty soap on an itchy rag and inspected his head for nits by wrenching a fine-toothed comb through his tangled locks.

He was dressed in his Sunday best, a shirt with a starched collar that chaffed his neck, short trousers creased so sharp he might do someone mischief and black books so shiny he could see his face. Biddy inspected him critically and after a final scrub round the ears with spit and the edge of her pinnie, pulled on her good coat and dragged him, screaming every inch of the way, to the nuns for schooling.

‘Jeasus, Mary and Josef, what was yer thinking?’ she roared at his father. The woman could hardly believe her ears when Father O’Malley came round to tell her little Patrick was a real heathen and if she wanted him in school he would have to be baptised. Baptised he was that very day and started school the next; the youngest in the whole place, which was really just two classes.

©Paul Andruss 2018

©Images The Colour of Life by Geoff Cronin

A wonderful start to the story.. please drop in tomorrow for chapter two.

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Here is an extract from my review of Thomas the Rhymer

Challenge your senses with a rival to Harry Potter by Sally Cronin

After 60 odd years of reading it is easy to get into bad habits. By this I mean sticking to the tried and tested with regard to genres and authors. This is not healthy when you are a writer yourself, as I have discovered when reading Thomas the Rhymer by Paul Andruss.

I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling when it was released. Whilst I enjoyed it as a children’s story, I really did not find myself engaged or inspired to read the other seven books or watch the movies. I felt excluded from the millions who did and usually keep my silence in the face of fans.

However, Thomas the Rhymer had me hooked from page one and continued to keep me engaged the entire 319 pages.

This is an ensemble piece with a cast of characters that would be happy in starring roles in Alice in Wonderland or any Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Jack Hughes, Ken, Catherine and the delightful Rosie, along with Thomas with his foot in this world and that of the Fairies; draw you into their inner circle and hold you fast.

Each of these wonderfully drawn characters face challenges in their past or present that make them feel isolated until they join forces to protect the most vulnerable amongst them and bring a brother home.

Read the rest of the review and challenge you senses and pick up a copy today: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you to Paul for what promises to be another fabulous story.. I am sure that he would love your feedback. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Elephants and Whales, Blogging Watering Hole, Music and Funnies


Welcome to the weekly round up and a huge thank you for your visits. For many the weather is dire at the moment and I hope that you get some respite from the cold in North America soon and if you live in Southern Africa that your drought breaks in the near future.

The world in general is in back biting mode with political in-fighting and cabinet re-shuffles. Health services are in crisis due to poor managment and the current flu season and the headlines are their usual doom and gloom. As you look at the headlines it is clear that the only way to get your 15 minutes of fame is to do something anti-social.

Thankfully here in blog world there are plenty of writers who share the other side of humanity which is positive, socially minded, caring and honest.

Thank you to those who have contributed this week and I am so grateful for the time and effort that goes into providing posts, sharing on social media and responding to comments.

We begin a new music series next week The William Price King Music Column… and the artist kicking off the new year is Bono.. more about that on Wednesday.

In the meantime… here are the posts from this week.

Writer in Residence Paul Andruss

This week Paul explores the near miss for the elephant who almost became a whale in terms of evolution.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/writer-in-residence-how-the-elephant-almost-became-a-whale-by-paul-andruss/

Smorgasbord Meet and Greet – Blogging Watering Hole

The watering hole was certainly very busy yesterday with a wonderful selection of visitors and their links to the comments section. Build your own supportive community by following some of my stars.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/smorgasbord-saturday-meet-and-greet-bloggers-watering-hole/

Return of the Sunday Open House writers interview.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/the-return-of-smorgasbord-open-house-interviews-for-all-writers-and-other-creative-artists/

New author and Blog promotions.

If you are already in the bookstore, a note on reminding me about new releases and reviews.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/smorgasbord-author-promotion-2018-if-you-are-in-sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/

If you are a first time author there is a special pre-promotion and post package to help get your book on its way.

 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/smorgasbord-free-book-promotions-first-time-authors/

An updated submission for Posts from Your Archives for 2018.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/happy-new-year-and-the-start-of-the-2018-series-of-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-annika-perry-jane-risdon-and-christine-jones-d-g-kaye-richard-ankers-and-a-t-balsara/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-yecheilyah-ysrayl-carol-balawyder-linda-bradley-sarah-brentyn-and-frank-parker/

Blog Posts from Your Archives

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-how-i-found-inspiration-in-a-door-frame-by-christy-birmingham/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-short-story-reaching-the-pinnacle-by-allan-hudson/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-an-african-thunderstorm-a-poem-about-two-extremes-drought-and-floods-by-robbie-cheadle/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-achives-inspirational-couples-by-karen-ingalls/

Guest post

Charles Yallowitz introduces us to the final and 15th book in the Legends of Windemere series.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/04/smorgasbord-invitation-guest-post-legends-of-windemere-warlord-of-the-forgotten-age-by-charles-e-yallotwitz/

Smorgasbord Health Column

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/02/smorgasbord-health-seasonal-affective-disorder-part-one-the-way-we-were/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/04/smorgasbord-health-column-2018-seasonal-affective-disorder-part-two-vitamin-d-the-sunshine-vitamin/

dsc_1737

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/smorgasbord-health-2018-the-dynamics-of-change-part-one-our-physical-being/

As the flu reaches epidemic levels in France and has created hotspots in the UK and Ireland it is important to take responsibility for preventing infecting others and also taking measures to protect yourself.

Humour
Thank you for dropping in this week and liking, commenting and sharing.. It is much appreciated.
 

Writer in Residence – How the Elephant almost became a whale by Paul Andruss


Paul Andruss resumes his Writer in Residence duties today and will be writing an exclusive post for the blog once a month.. In addition Paul will be writing the monthly gardening column. This will not be a calendar to plant your bulbs by, but a look at some of the exotics you can grow in your garden or greenhouse, and other interesting snippets that will as always with Paul, make the column Unique..

In the meantime… I know exactly how I turned into a whale over Christmas.. but some creatures took millions of years to achieve that level of mammothness….. the elephant, if not a quirk of evolution might also have ended up there too.

How the Elephant almost became a whale by Paul Andruss

In the Elephant’s Child (Just So Stories) Rudyard Kipling told how the elephant got his trunk. Once the elephant had a bulgy nose; big as a boot. The trunk came about because the Elephant’s child, full of ‘satiatable curosity’, asked the crocodile, in an ill-judged moment, what he ate for dinner.

Just So Stories- Rudyard Kipling (Penguin Classics)

‘I think I’ll begin with Elephant’s child,’ said the Crocodile seizing his nose.

The Elephant’s child pulled and pulled to get free. The crocodile pulled and pulled to get dinner. All the while the Elephant’s nose stretched longer and longer until by the time he escaped it was a trunk.

On the face of it, my tale of how the elephant almost became a whale seems just as fantastical. But it’s true.

It all starts, O Best Beloved, in the High and Far-Off Times of the Triassic. Some 230 million years past, little lizards ran around on their hind legs (they would grow up to be dinosaurs) eating little mouse-like mammals (who grew up to become us: among other things). Due to the way they extracted water from their waste products in that hot thirsty desert world, dinosaurs won the race and dominated for 140 million years until a meteor ended their reign. Because mammals were tiny and lived underground, they survived.

And so 65 million years ago the Age of Mammals dawned. Although the tiny creatures looked like mice or rats, O Best Beloved, they had been evolving for 140 million years.

Despite looking all the same, they were no more related to each other than we are to a rhinoceros.

Given I have about 500 words left before everyone loses interest, I better drop the Kipling shtick and get on with it. Remember, if you’re flummoxed by unpronounceable names, do what I do: ignore them and look at the pictures.

World about 60 million years ago (paleomaps.com)

For 25 million years after the dinosaurs, England and North America were as hot and humid as South East Asia. There were no ice caps and sea levels were around 500 feet higher than today. One group had already started to evolve hooves rather than claws.

These became the most successful animals on the planet. Today, if we think of them at all, we think of two groups:

The hugely successful group consisting of pigs, cows, sheep, giraffes, camels, antelope, deer and hippos: it even produced whales. (DNA shows whales are most closely related to the hippopotamus.)

Ariodactyls (even-toed hoofed animals)
(Ultimateungulate.com)

Early on it had a go at carnivores too, resulting in the largest ever meat-eater Andrewsarchus. (Definitely a sheep in wolf’s clothing.)

Andrewsarchus (with outlines to show scale) (dinoanimals.com)

Their cousins were initially successful, but today only horses, rhinos and tapirs survive.

Perissodactyls (odd-toed hoofed animals)
(Ultimateungulates.com)

Once they included bizarre chalicotheres, huge brontotheres and a gigantic rhinoceros; the largest land mammal that ever lived.

Chalicotheres (Walking with Beasts BBC)

(BBC Walking with Beasts)

Huge rhinoceros Indricothere (BBC Walking with Beasts)

There were two other branches. One in South America now sadly extinct (I’ll save those for another time). The last group was in Africa.

In the Age of Dinosaurs the huge Southern continent of Gondwana (South America, Africa, Antarctica and Australian started to break up. Africa became an island for over 20 million years until land bridges formed.

5 million years ago Africa crashed into Europe creating the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. As Africa continues colliding with Europe, the Mediterranean will become mountains high as the Himalayas.

Mammals we think are African are not: lions and cats, wild dogs, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, zebras, warthogs, buffalos, hyenas, antelopes, monkeys and apes. They are immigrants. Only elephants evolved in Africa.

Elephant relatives are an odd bunch you probably never heard of. Elephants’ closest living relative is the rabbit-sized hyrax.

Hyrax- the elephant’s closest living relative (focusonwildlife.com)

There are 2 rare fossils from animals living 60 million years ago in coastal swamps that are now Moroccan Desert. Even through these fox sized creatures look the same (like a hyrax) they show the group had already spilt.

Ocepeia: 60 million year old ancestor of elephants and all their relatives
(Charléne Letenneur)

Insect eating Elephants? Aardvark, 8: tenric, 3: Elephant Shrew, 5: Golden mole
(Adapted from Wikipedia)

Ocepeia’s descendants became insect eaters, golden moles, tenrics, the so called elephant shrews and the aardvark. Eritherium descendants became elephants, hyraxes and their relatives. Not all Hyraxes were cute and bunny sized. Some were big as hippos.

Fossil Hyraxes (© Princeton Guide to Prehistoric Animals)

Four million years later the dog-sized Phosphatherium was the direct ancestor of the elephant side of the family.

Phosphatherium (Wikipedia)

Here are some of the weird and wonderful shapes elephants took: the hippo-like Moeritherium, the shovel jawed Platybelodon and Dinotherium.

(BBC Walking with Beasts)

Platybelodon (by N Tamura Deviant art)

(BBC Walking with Beasts)

The Elephant Family tree (Source: Q files)

Relatives include the extinct strange rhino like Arsinoitherium.

(BBC Walking with Beasts)

And the Manatee

Manatee or Sea Cow (Factzoo)

Some 50 million years ago came the first ancestor of the sea cow: something you are more likely to see in Florida than Africa.

Prorastomus lived in Jamaica having travelled from Africa along the European and American coastlines through tropical seas stretching into the Artic. Because North and South America were not connected by Central America sea cows moved into the Pacific up to Alaska.

Prorastomus (By Nobu Tamura- Wikipedia)

During the Ice Age they got bigger in order to cope with the cold: just like whales. At 30 foot long Steller’s Sea Cow was the largest. It survived until the 1768, when it was hunted to extinction, in 26 years, for its oil rich fat.

Steller’s Sea Cow (© Princeton Guide to Prehistoric Animals)

And that O Best Beloved is how the elephant almost became a whale… until we killed it. 

©Paul Andruss 2018.

Only Paul Andruss could take us on a journey across millions of years and leave us better informed than we were at the beginning.. my one concern was that I leave an image out and we would have all taken a different path in our evolution…..

About Paul Andruss.

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen

When Fairy Queen Sylvie snatches his brother, schoolboy Jack is plunged into a sinister fantasy world of illusion and deception – the realm of telepathic fairies ruled by spoilt, arrogant fairy queens.

Haunted by nightmares about his brother and pursued by a mysterious tramp (only seen by Jack and his friends) Jack fears he too will be stolen away.

The tramp is Thomas the Rhymer, who only speaks in rhyme. Lost and frightened Thomas needs Jack’s help to find his way home.

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…
No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.
And even if they find her… will she let them go?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac CoolFinn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

When the fairy folk deliver a soldier called Finn (the first outsider in plague-stricken Ireland for a decade) Erin believes he is Finn Mac Cool – returned to kill the tyrant King Conor Mac Nessa of Ulster. and free Great Queen Maeve – Ireland’s true ruler & Erin’s dying mother.

The druids kidnap Finn – planning to turn him into the hero Finn Mac Cool – who will save the world by destroying it.

Erin goes in looking for Finn – so he can kill Conor Mac Nessa before her mother’s dream of a free Ireland dies with her.

Erin’s quest draws her ever-deeper into Ireland’s ancient mythological landscape; a place…
… Where dream and reality merge
… Where a man’s fate is written fifteen hundred years before he was born
… Where books are legends & a library a myth
… Where people hate Christians for defying the gods
… Where phony druids use real magic

Find out more and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Currently for a limited period Thomas the Rhymer is FREE to download via Paul’s website. It would be a great service if you could download the book and review and put it on Amazon and Goodreads.

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

 

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up and A Very Happy New Year – Books, Music and laughter.


How quickly this year has gone and there have been many highlights that I will carry over to 2018. Certainly the amazing contributors such as William Price King, Paul Andruss and Carol Taylor who have worked very hard to bring music, legends and delicious food into our lives. Also to those who have contributed to the Archive Posts… the regular series and Christmas specials. It has felt like a party going on every week.

There are many others who 52 weeks a year have dropped in and liked, commented, shared and hosted. I feel totally blessed to be part of such a wonderful community.

Next year I feel that the world will be going through even more tumultuous times. Politically and socially there is much to redress and part of that is keeping the good things in our lives a priority. It is very easy to slip into negativity when we read the headlines daily that paint such a bleak picture. However, having been in the trade, I can confirm that BAD NEWS sells.

There are millions of us who blog and if ever there was a time for us to play a role in positivity it is now. This is not naivete. As individuals we may feel that what we write on our blogs or social media does not make a difference. But when we write, support and share the good news stories it does make a massive difference. The same applies to our actions offline and one of the most positive actions we can take is to give time and effort to promoting good people and their efforts.

There will be elections coming up for most of us in 2018. Election promises are easy to make and just as quick to break. But there are capable and honest people out there who can help resolve the issues that we are faced with. We have to identify them, support them and promote them at every level from local councils to those who lead from the top. I do believe we have to put party loyalties aside going forward and whilst difficult in some countries to do so, we need to vote for the right people for the job.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year.. with love, laughter, joy and peace for 2018.

It was a slightly shorter week than usual but here are the posts from the week, including the 2017 review of the most viewed posts in a number of categories.

Sally’s Book Reviews – Circumstances of Childhood by John W. Howell.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/smorgasbord-review-2017-cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-taylor-dont-forget-to-eat-your-purples-the-aubergine/

William Price King with music for Christmas

William finishes his Christmas series with What are you Doing New Year’s Eve by Nancy Wilson

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/an-evening-with-william-price-king-christmas-music-what-are-you-doing-for-new-years-eve-by-nancy-wilson/

Most viewed posts of 2017

These are the most viewed posts across the various categories for 2017 and my personal favourites too.

together-for-life

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/26/smorgasbord-2017-review-the-most-viewed-individual-post-of-the-year-together-for-life-image-tofino-photography-haiku-sally-cronin/

Thomas the Rhymer Paul Andruss

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/smorgasbord-review-2017-smorgasbord-writer-in-residence-the-gift-by-paul-andruss/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/26/smorgasbord-invitation-most-viewed-author-interview-tina-frisco-with-a-book-reading/

images

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/26/smorgasbord-invitation-2017-review-the-top-health-post-candida-and-the-link-to-milk-allergy-lactose-intolerance-and-leaky-gut/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/new-series-of-william-price-king-meets-some-legends-barbra-streisand-the-early-years/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/smorgasbord-review-2017-cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-taylor-dont-forget-to-eat-your-purples-the-aubergine/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-artists-and-old-age-by-d-wallace-peach/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/smorgasbord-invitation-review-2017-top-personal-post-2017-behind-the-scenes-of-just-an-odd-job-girl/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/smorgasbord-christmas-posts-from-your-archives-nice-christmas-by-pete-johnson/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/smorgasbord-review-2017-sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-author-on-the-shelves-ruby-slips-and-poker-chips-by-heather-kindt-wordweavercontest-winner/

Christmas Archives

My thanks to everyone who contributed to the festive posts with those from their own archives.. It was a wonderful series from my perspective..I enjoyed reading these guest posts very much.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/25/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-a-christmas-image-and-poem-from-bette-a-stevens/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/25/smorgasbord-christmas-posts-from-your-archives-happy-christmas-from-bob-dylan-charles-dickens-judy-garland-immortal-jukebox-by-thom-hickey/

Funny-Christmas-Cartoons

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/25/smorgasbord-christmas-posts-from-your-archives-more-festive-funnies-from-the-story-reading-ape/

bathlift_lrg

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/26/smorgasbord-christmas-posts-from-your-archives-boxing-day-funnies-the-story-reading-ape/

winter-fairy-in-snow-dsc00059-1200px-wide

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/smorgasbord-christmas-posts-from-my-archives-dormant-beneath-snow-haiku/

The Leftovers

I opened the fridge this morning
To check on the state of the world,
I hoped to see that the turkey,
Was not all shrivelled and curled.

It peaked from its packet of foil,
Still juicy and raring to go
I shredded it into some sauce
With some shrooms and onions for show.

To read more…….

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/smorgasbord-christmas-posts-from-my-archives-the-leftovers-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/smorgasbord-review-2017-humour-under-the-influence-with-a-few-cats-thrown-in/

New Series for 2018

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-update-free-book-promotion/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/30/new-series-smorgasbord-saturday-meet-and-greet-a-chance-to-promote-your-blog-at-a-friendly-watering-hole/

Personal Stuff

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/smorgasbord-happy-new-year-soar-like-and-eagle-image-tofino-photography-haiku-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/12/31/smorgasbord-short-stories-whats-in-a-name-volume-two-kenneth-by-sally-cronin/

Some promotional posts for new series tomorrow and then back to normal on Tuesday.

Thank you very much for dropping in today and wishing you an amazing New Year’s Eve and a happy, healthy, fun and love filled 2018.