Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – The Daily Tales by Gregg Savage

Welcome to the last in the current series of Open House Sunday Interview. In the next week or so I will be letting you know about the next theme for the interviews.

To end this series with a creative flourish, Australian writer Gregg Savage shares the background to his popular daily stories that has now reached the staggering 176 (by my count by today). That is true commitment and an amazing achievement. Gregg will also share is writing influences and his favourite movie and music. I am sure you will enjoy and as always… please let our guest have your questions and comments.

The Daily Tales by Gregg Savage


My name is Gregg Savage and, every day for the next year, I  write and publish a free children’s story for everyone to enjoy.

The stories are finished only minutes before being shared with you. There are no ‘backup’ stories, with the narrative being inspired by something interesting I have thought about or experienced that day. Each story is designed to entertain and encourage acceptance while providing a fresh perspective to children on their daily experiences.

I have ended up here, because I managed to earn myself a bonus year of life.

Somewhere between October 13, 2016, and October 13, 2017, I convinced myself that I was 37, and not 36, years old. During a trivia game with some friends, I was asked my age. Having never been one to shy away from repeating the figure, I confidently replied that I was 37, to which my astutely mathematical friend responded that, since I was born in 1981, this was incorrect. In line with modern customs, I promptly asked my smartphone assistant to tell me my age. “You are 36 years old, Gregg,” the assistant responded in a slightly unsettling, motherly tone.

OK. So, I was never going to be a late-blooming mathematician, but, I did score a bonus year and that was pretty neat. It was August 2017, so I had up until October to figure out how to spend the additional 365 days that had been gifted to me. Although I jog and ride my bike regularly, I’m not an adrenaline junkie by any measure, so all the usual suspects such as bungee jumping or skydiving were out. I do love to hike, though, so maybe I could tick a few overseas hiking trails off the wish list; Iceland, the U.S.A, Japan? Although an enticing idea, hiking didn’t fit with the whole ‘bonus year’ theme, since it was an activity I might only commit to for a month or so. Also, working full time as a teacher of students with disabilities meant taking time off work, which I wasn’t willing to organise at that stage, either. Then came the camping trip.

My step-daughter, Ruby, usually sends herself to sleep with frightening ease following a story reading each night, so, while camping near our house in Tropical North Queensland one night, she asked me to read to her before going to bed. We’d neglected to pack any of her picture books and it was therefore left to me to tell her a story. The plotline my mind conjured up was about a young girl who, “Lived in the most beautiful castle in the world. Her name was Princess Ruby and her castle was so large that, one morning, she woke up and didn’t know where she was!” This story would later become The Tale of Princess Ruby and would be the first tale uploaded to my website: The Tale of Princess Ruby

Read more on Gregg’s Facebook: Facebook About Gregg

Tell us about your chosen genre of books and why you chose to write in that genre.

150 days ago, I decided to write a unique story every day and, once complete, upload it to my webpage, Daily Tales. Aside from simultaneously being rewarding and challenging, I also viewed this project as an opportunity to share the process of a writer trying to find his voice in a meaningful and engaging way. One of the lessons I’ve learned over the past three months is that I enjoy writing stories that emulate the styles and themes of the authors I learned about while studying to be a teacher at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. One author’s work I passionately share with my students is Margaret Wild.

I was introduced to the mesmerising stories of children’s picture book author, Margaret Wild, by my English lecturer in my first year at university. As a group of students in our late teens and early twenties, we thought we weren’t too unreasonable when we let out a collective groan after the lecturer informed us she was going to read a children’s storybook before each of her presentations.

Without hesitation, the lecturer projected a copy Margaret Wild’s, Woolvs in the Sitee, on the screen at the front of the auditorium and proceeded to read an illustrated children’s storybook focusing on the struggles a young boy attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. The boy had never been to school, and, since the boy’s perspective informs the story, Margaret Wild deliberately littered the text with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. This approach, we were told, not only produced a narrative that is intensely captivating while exploring themes of loss and materialism but also provided the perfect opportunity for students to practice some spelling skills without the process feeling too much like a chore.

The teacher in me admired the links to developing the students’ core skills, but the human side of me was deeply impressed that this story explored themes otherwise reserved for young adults. Before hearing of Margaret Wild, I had considered these themes to be out of bounds and, therefore, out of reach for younger readers. Since then, I’ve tried to discover other children’s authors whose work extends beyond the more familiar narratives which, while important, tend to make quick work of the overarching feelings and morals they are exploring. I find myself regularly drawing on their styles while attempting to craft my own voice.

Which author would you have to dinner, why and what questions would you ask them?

Without question, Australian children’s author and illustrator, Shaun Tan Amazon.

Shaun’s unorthodox storytelling is what initially got me hooked on wanting to write children’s stories. I am in awe of his ability to craft narratives that border on poetry while telling an alternative, yet parallel story with the accompanying pictures. Although hope is a recurring theme in his stories, I also admire the courage Shaun has to explore some darker topics such as grief (Tales from Outer Suburbia), depression (The Red Tree) and displaced people (The Rabbits (illustrator) & Eric), subjects not usually associated with your typical children’s picture books. As a teacher, it’s refreshing to delve into these relatable and often ignored themes through Shaun’s compelling storytelling. Shaun’s style involves using words and phrases that can be taken both literally and metaphorically, so it’s a great feeling watching the students have a lightbulb moment when they figure out the “actual” plot to the story.

One of my regrets in life is missing Shaun’s exhibition hosted at the various modern art galleries in Australia’s major cities in 2016. I was teaching in western Queensland at the time and couldn’t make it back to Brisbane while the exhibition was on, so having him over for dinner would more than compensate for the jealousy I felt while listening to my friends and the media boast about how fantastic the exhibition was.

During the dinner, I would ask the following questions:

Q1. What’s a memorable response a reader has had to one of your stories?

Q2. What were the most significant hurdles you had to overcome to become a successful children’s author and illustrator?

Q3. Aside from children’s stories, what are some other projects you’ve enjoyed working on as an artist?

Q4. And, lastly, would you like to collaborate on a picture book? Seriously, though…

You can learn more about Shaun (and the TWO new books being released in 2018!) by visiting his website:

Do you have a favourite quote? What does it mean to you as an individual?

A young monk asks his master what life’s purpose is both before and after enlightenment. His master responded:

“Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.”

Like most people, I find that I get the most satisfaction out of an activity when I know how it aligns with one of my life’s priorities. At the moment, my priorities are my relationships, my health, my job and my creativity. I am a thirty-six-year-old man in a long-term relationship with my partner, Rachel, and I am a step-father to her three amazing children. I hold a leadership position in a career I am genuinely passionate about, and I enjoy running and riding as a way to stay healthy and to clear my mind. Rachel and I love traveling and hiking whenever we can and, just because I don’t believe the decorations on your cake need to stop at the icing, I have also committed to writing a children’s story every day for a year.

It wouldn’t be possible for me to enjoy as much success in any of these areas without having my priorities in order, so this quote resonated with me from the moment I heard it. Although I’m not 100% sure I am interpreting the quote correctly, I find myself drawing on it for energy whenever my priorities demand it. At first, I used it as inspiration to make sure I was always willing to put in the hard yards, interpreting the quote as saying that ‘no matter how many projects you finish or goals you reach, the hard work is never done’. However, after enduring some trials and tribulations over the past five months while attempting to stay true to my goals and commitments (including a particularly tragic week where Rachel was admitted to hospital), I now draw on the quote to remind myself to dig deep in times where it would be easy to give up. That life itself doesn’t care whether or not I reach my goals, but that they are important to me and important to my family. The saying has become a humorous family motto we vocalise whenever someone is making excuses for why they shouldn’t live up to their commitments.

If we don’t chop the wood and carry the water, then our bodies can’t survive. If I don’t prioritise my life and work on my goals, then my character suffers.

What is your favourite movie and why?

Movie Review: Donnie Darko (2001)
Written and Directed by Richard Kelly
Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne

The atmospheres portrayed in my favourite films heavily influence the stories I write. It’s an inspirational feat when all of the elements of a movie come together, leaving you with an often inexpressible emotion long after the credits have finished rolling. Richard Kelly’s 2011 debut film, Donnie Darko, was the first movie I watched that showed me the power of a well-designed film while teaching me that I tend to gravitate towards narratives exploring the less illuminated aspects of our existence.

The opening scene establishes that the thought-provoking events about to unfold will take place in the leafy neighbourhood of Middlesex County, Virginia. The film’s central character, Donald ‘Donnie’ Darko, wakes up after a night of sleepwalking next to his bike in the middle of a winding road, chuckling as he overlooks the ominous mountains and valleys below. An eighties timestamp is masterfully imprinted onto the film when Echo & The Bunnymen’s, The Killing Moon, becomes the soundtrack to which Donnie calmly rides his way back home. A series of beautifully directed slow-motion interactions introduces us to Donnie’s stable, nuclear family consisting of his mother, father an older sister and a younger sister.

The intense elements of human relationships are explored throughout the film, constantly making it difficult for the interdependent narratives to fit neatly into the “science-fiction psychological thriller” genre under which the movie is often filed. The writing comes into its own when events that would typically be the focus of any other Hollywood production of the same genre fade away into the background, guiding your curiosity towards the enigmatic relationships transpiring between the characters. Events such as the giant, talking bunny rabbit that visits Donnie in the middle of the night to inform him the world is going to end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, become mere catalysts for the fact that every character is about to find themselves in an alternate, parallel reality, where their desires and dreams are eventually exposed and poetically shattered.

Despite his resistance to the evidence (narrowly missing death after a stray jet engine crashes into his bedroom), Donnie comes to accept his inevitable fate as the one who must make things right again by building a time machine powered by the cognitive dissonance of others. This revelation occurs without a single special effect distracting you from the undercurrent of distress flowing between the characters. To sow this discontent, Donnie is encouraged to commit some otherwise grave crimes while exploring both his demons and his romantic side in an all-too-relatable high-school romance with his new classmate, Gretchen Ross. All the while, Donnie is supported by a loving family and surrounded by a group of committed friends. This break away from the stereotypical “woe is me” hero makes the pain Donnie feels in uncovering the darker nature of the universe all the more relatable.

The film recklessly hovers over the edge of self-indulgence, but, thanks to the skilful editing of Sam Bauer and Eric Strand, it never makes the leap over this dreaded cliff (a fact reinforced when die-hard fans excitedly watched the Director’s Cut, only to be faced with an unrecognisable butchering of the carefully constructed and subtle plot lines of the original film). There are also several anecdotes that much of the cast had a very surface-level understanding of the movie’s plot even following the film’s initial screenings. Despite this, over the past seventeen years, I have kept returning to Donnie Darko, drawing on its tone to help me develop my own creative projects while taking pleasure in introducing the film to a newer viewership whenever the opportunity presents itself. The climactic ending alone is worth the investment of patience demanded by the film.

I rate Donnie Darko 8 out of 10 talking bunny rabbits.

Work in progress & plans for your blog in the next year

My current project is to remain focused on writing a story that I’m proud of every day. I’m also working with an extremely talented artist, Alisha Towers, who has contributed beautifully hand-drawn illustrations to over twenty-five of my stories. Alisha continues to amaze me with her dedication and talent. You can read about Alisha and her motivations by reading her guest post here:  Meet My Illustrator – Alisha Towers

I haven’t been able to resist the temptation to ‘branch out’ and attempt sub-projects such as uploading a YouTube reading of the stories, but I learned very quickly that fitting any more on to my plate that what is already there is a challenge to say the least. Having said that, however, I’ve found myself subconsciously decking out my writing space in preparation for recording audio of the tales and making them available for download either directly or as a podcast. I’m hoping that if I keep telling myself that it’s going to be easy then that will make it true!

Until then, I have more than enough to keep me busy and to hopefully keep you entertained.

What is your favourite piece of music?

When all else fails, I can draw on the following song for inspiration. I’d wager that even I’d be surprised by the percentage of my tales written to or at least inspired by the following song:

Starálfur by Sigur Ros: Amazon

©Images Gregg Savage

A taste of the tales..

About the collection.

First Everything, Now This is a collection of the 10 most popular short stories taken from The Daily Children’s Tales of Gregg Savage. Combining humour, philosophy and imagination, the tales are designed to entertain you while encouraging a fresh perspective on your daily experiences. Each story takes place in a world where things may not work out for the best and where the mundane can become the extraordinary in a matter of minutes.

A new tale is written daily and posted on to allow the audience to interact with a story that was written only moments ago. Immerse yourself in the world every day by visiting the website and joining in the conversation.

Head over and buy the book:

and at Amazon UK:

Connect to Gregg
Email Subscription [Have a tale delivered every day]:
Twitter –

My thanks to Gregg for such an interesting glimpse into his writing background and influences and his future plans. Thanks to you for dropping in today and I know Gregg would love to answer your questions. Sally


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Writer, traveller and wild west nut Jo Clutton

Welcome to the Open House Sunday Interview and this week my guest is Jo Clutton.. who manages two blogs covering her eclectic range of interests from travel and adventure to Wild West enactment. Before we find out more let me introduce her to you.

About Jo Clutton.

I’m Jo – quirky artist, writer, traveller, mental health advocate, music lover, wild west nut intrigued by science. Renaissance soul with potty sense of humour. Pleasantly eccentric, I’m told. Five years ago I miraculously recovered from 30 years of depression over a period of three years. I’m blogging about the rebuild of my polymath life on Creating My Odyssey. Five years ago chance led Husband and I to the mental health team who brought me to where I am now. Which proves that provided sufferers of depression know where to look, help is available. That’s the hard part. My blog is a great vehicle for my creativity and life. I’m unleashing everything that was hidden under a bushel! I’ve been writing an epic Wild West novel forever, Alias Jeannie Delaney. Since my recovery I decided it’s time to get it out there. I’m blogging about it and Husband has taken me in hand and we’re slowly editing our way through it.

Now time to explore Jo’s blogs further and discover what other adventures she would like to tackle in the future.

Welcome Jo and could you tell us a little more about your two blogs?

Creating My Odyssey is my creative mental health blog. I’m chronicling the rebuild of my polymath creativity and life after recovering completely from thirty years of depression and anxiety. My posts cover my renaissance soul lifestyle.

Renaissance soul. What does that mean? It’s someone who has many disparate interests. Unrelated to each other. Polymath and scanner are other names for it. People who find it hard to settle for just one or two interests.

Many years ago I decided that I was a renaissance soul. I listed my main interests as ‘artist, writer, traveller and wild westerner’. I loved that thought!

Other interests that I write about are rowing, canoeing, the paranormal, architecture, archaeology, history of medicine and photography, space travel and research, films, reading, walking, yoga, archery and history.

For example my visit to the Victoria and Albert museum last year to see the Festival of Design. They’ve redesigned the museum and it’s fabulous

I would say that the whole blog sums me up! I’m anti-ageist, childlike, and have a potty sense of humour, and I’m pretty feisty!  Creating my odyssey

But here is an excerpt from one of my recent travel posts 


…a bonkers thing to do.
You might fall off,
you might fall in –
it’s better to go to the zoo!

For those of you who do not know,
a Levada is like a canal.
It waters the fields,
the bananas and veg –
it’s good to walk with a pal!

You find them in Madeira,
they follow the lay of the land.
They’re beside the sea,
or scarily high –
hold onto the railings – both hands!

 You can read the rest of the post and see more photographs: Never walk a Levada

My second blog, Kitty Le Roy is dedicated to my wild west hobby.  I’ve been fascinated by the west forever, particularly the rough, tough, sharp shootin’ women of the west. I’ve researched many of these women over the years and did some living history camping in recent years, emulating my western heroines.

I have a cabin in my back garden. It’s well weathered now and filled with western artefacts (goat skull, steer horns, canned grub, whiskey bottles, art by me and western images). I’ve recently replaced the roof, with the help of JC, and intend, this summer to get it in shape again.

This interest has ‘spurred on’ (sorry!) my epic novel writing Alias Jeannie Delaney, the life story of a devastating cowgirl who’s the fastest gun in the west and also bisexual. I’m working on this as we speak, with the help of Husband.

Do you prefer television, film or theatre?

I love films (action, comedy) and television (the same. quiz shows, who dunnits, antique shows, some comedy, Neighbours!) Of the action films that I enjoy I would probably choose Star Trek – any one of the series. Love the characters and the humour, quite apart from the action.

Sally here:  I have found this fight scene between Captain Kirk and Spock… I am a Trekkie..too.  A lovely slice of Ham…..

What is the one big adventure that you would like to experience?

Two big adventures! The first one is to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. I love water, particularly the tropics, would love to see Australia (we have friends there), and always wanted to try snorkelling. I’d love to have been a marine archaeologist, diving down to wrecks, but the idea of deep scuba diving in a mask is particularly scary, so snorkelling will do nicely!

Here is a short video from Queensland, Australia

And the second adventure would be to see the Aurora Borealis in colour.

Tell us about your work in progress, plans for your blog in the next year any special events that are coming up that are very special to you.

As I mentioned I have been writing Alias Jeannie Delaney forever, on and off for thirty years during depression and young parenthood to help keep me sane! My husband is finally helping me edit it chapter by chapter. I was too embarrassed by it before. I decided after recovering completely from depression that it was time to get it out there. I also want to extend my blog and post pieces about other creatives and renaissance souls.

What is your favourite piece of music?

That  is an impossible question because I love so many, and I enjoy many genres. Some pop, dance, heavy metal, some jazz, some opera, classical, rap, 80s, rock n’‘roll…

With such a wide range of styles to choose from I have picked a classic Western sound track from a film I am sure will fit in with Jo’s and Kitty’s love of the era. The Big Country.


My thanks to Jo for joining us today and I do hope you will head over and enjoy her two blogs. Certainly plenty of interesting topics to enjoy for everyone.

Just a reminder of the blogs and other places to connect to Jo.

Google + : Jo Clutton Google

Thank you for dropping in today and look forward to your feedback.. Thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Author Stevie Turner

Delighted to welcome author Stevie Turner to the Open House today. We will find out about those iconic figures in history that she would like to pop back in time to meet, her blog, the inventions that she wishes had never existed and the five experiences she believes we should all enjoy in our lifetimes.

First a little more about Stevie……..

About Stevie Turner

Stevie Turner works part time as a medical secretary in a busy NHS hospital and writes suspense, women’s fiction, and darkly humorous novels in her spare time. She won a New Apple Book Award in 2014 and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in 2015 for her book ‘A House Without Windows’, and one of her short stories, ‘Checking Out’, was published in the Creative Writing Institute’s 2016 anthology ‘Explain!’ Her psychological thriller ‘Repent at Leisure’ won third place in the 2016 Drunken Druid Book Award contest.

Stevie lives in the East of England, and is married with two sons and four grandchildren. She has also branched out into the world of audio books, screenplays, and translations. Most of her novels are now available as audio books, and one screenplay, ‘For the Sake of a Child’, won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival. ‘A House Without Windows’ gained the attention of a New York media production company in December 2017.

Some of Stevie’s books are currently being translated into German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. This includes The Donor that is now in Spanish.

I will now hand over to Stevie to share the questions that she chose to answer.

Who would you like to meet from the past who you would like to have a conversation with. What would you tell them about their behaviour that you admired or disapproved of?

When I’m walking over Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight, I often imagine Lord Tennyson striding along his favourite walkway as well, with his black cape flowing out behind him. I’d love to go back in time to catch up with him and have a little chat as we march along the top of the cliffs. I’d tell him how much I enjoyed looking around Farringford House, his home on the Island, and how much I admire his poetry. Then we’d pop into Dimbola Lodge nearby and have tea with photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, who might even take a picture or two of us to hang on her wall with all the other Victorian creatives already there. We’d sit and chat about poetry, about life, and about how on earth I’d managed to inveigle myself into Farringford House 120 years into the future.

Tell us about your blog and your main features. With a link to what you consider best sums you up as a blogger.

My blog is primarily a source of writing tips for authors, but I also blog about life experiences, and re-blog other writing that I find interesting. I’m enjoying running a free monthly short story/poetry competition on my blog, where I share a story of mine, and then choose my favourite story or poem from the submissions each month and share it on my newsletter and a few of my social media sites. Authors leave a link to their story on my blog so that the submissions can be read by everybody. It’s proving very popular, and at the end of the year I plan to collect all the winning stories or poems together and publish them in a free anthology.

Is there any invention that is a major part of our lives that you wish had not been invented?

Oh yes, the mobile phone! I got along without it very well for a good 40 years. It’s caused a whole generation of young people to be addicted to social media. They walk around in a trance, looking down at their phones and unaware of what’s going on around them. Teachers must have the devil of a problem trying to engage children, because even the youngest ones are carrying these phones around all the time. They are a terrible distraction and should be banned in schools, and have caused no end of problems regarding on-line bullying and even sexting.

Mobile phones are great for an emergency, such as breaking down on the motorway, and in my opinion they should be left in cars for just this kind of emergency. I’m sick of seeing people walking about lost in their phones in case they’re missing a message. Mobile phones are turning people into zombies.

What are the top five experiences or activities that you feel that everyone should complete in their lifetime?

  1. Find a soul mate. It makes life worth living if you can find somebody to love who also loves you back, and is there for you in times of trouble.
  2. Become a parent. It ‘rounds’ you off as a person; you learn tolerance, patience, and selflessness. Also, teaching your son or daughter to read and watching them grow to have a love of books is very satisfying.
  3. Find enjoyable employment: Everybody needs to work and earn a living unless you are born rich. It makes sense to find a job that you actually look forward to going to. If you hate your job you will be miserable.
  4. Travel to another country to sample a different culture. You will be amazed how some folks live! A few of the many places I’ve travelled to are The Sambadrome in Rio, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, St. Lucia, Canada, Switzerland, Minorca, Majorca, Ibiza, Crete, France and Germany. However, to me there is no place like the UK. It’s home!
  5. Learn to drive a car. It makes you independent. When I was 17 my father told me he was going to teach me to drive. I remember answering in the negative, because I was too nervous to learn. Undeterred, he told me I would thank him some day. He took me to a quiet road and with endless patience taught me how to make a car do something other than shoot forward ‘kangaroo’ style. Now I live out in the ‘sticks’ and thank him every day for not giving up on me and letting me learn to drive at my own pace.

Can you tell us about your WIP?

I’m currently working on a contemporary crime novel, but have no idea when it will be finished!

What is your favourite piece of music?

Too many to mention, but one that stands out is Chopin’s Nocturne in E Flat Major, Op.9 No.2

Here is the very accomplished Valentina Lisitsa Youtube Channel music available from Amazon

One of Stevie Turner’s books to receive a recent review.

About the book

Dr Beth Nichols thinks she has been held captive by Edwin Evans for about 8 or 9 years now. Amidst her grief she often looks back and thinks about her fiancée Liam; theirs was the greatest romance of all. She lays awake at night staring at the one light bulb that is never switched off, and prays that he is still out there somewhere searching for her…

One of the recent reviews for A House Without Windows

This book has an unusual storyline with each chapter taking us into the minds and real life thoughts of each character, I could liken this story to the book/movie – Room, but the story isn’t only about ‘the room’ Beth is held captive in, but life after she is freed and the perspectives of every day life after being a victim.

A House Without Windows is the story of Beth Nichols whose compassion as a doctor leads to a scary nightmare in real life when Edwin Evans forms a ploy to kidnap her and keep her locked up all for himself. The story begins as a psychological thriller where Beth’s captivity in a tiny room with no windows becomes her life and the only home she will know for almost ten years,

Turner does a great job of giving us readers a ringside seat into what life is like for Beth, leaving us feeling uncomfortable, anxious, taking us in, almost as though we were that hostage, and wondering how on earth she will ever get out of her hell. Beth is a strong-willed and an intelligent woman, which has much to do with how she manages to stay sane while enduring solitude and the daily abuse, all the while remembering her love for her dear fiancee Liam.

I don’t want to reveal spoilers so it’s better I don’t talk about what happens in the second half of the book. Suffice it to say, I will plant some questions here that came to my mind as I read this captivating book:

Beth: How does one continue on back in the real world when it comes to love and sex and trust?

Beth: How does a mother keep love in her heart for a child who was born from rape?

Amy: How does a child born in captivity adapt to the real world after young childhood years in 4 walls?

Liam: Does true love ever die no matter the circumstance even after moving on and accepting the love of your life is dead?

Joss: Does being born of the spawn of a psychotic maniac carry through the genes?

These are just a few questions that came to mind and will no doubt come to any reader’s mind as they read this book, and as you continue to read those answers will be revealed. Turner has done a fantastic job of fleshing out characters, settings and mood. I would highly #recommend this book!

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

A selection of books by Stevie Turner

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Follow Stevie Turner on Goodreads:

Connect to Stevie Turner

Amazon Author Page:

My thanks to Stevie for joining us today and as always we would love to have your feedback and questions… Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Author Joy Lennick

Please welcome my guest this week, author Joy Lennick who shares her love of the 20th century, her adventures she has encountered during her 30 years as an author, her favourite colour and music.

Before we find out more… a little bit about Joy.

About Joy Lennick

Having worn several hats in my life: wife, mum, secretary, shop-keeper, hotelier; my favourite is the multi-coloured author’s creation. I am an eclectic writer: diary, articles, poetry, short stories and five books. Two books were factual, the third as biographer: HURRICANE HALSEY (a true sea adventure), fourth my Memoir MY GENTLE WAR and my current faction novel is THE CATALYST. Plenty more simmering…

Supposedly ‘Retired,’ I now live in Spain with my husband and have three great sons.

Given a choice of centuries to live in which would it be and why?

As I’m fascinated by Georgian architecture and dress, plus something indefinable about the period, I decided -. as I’ve tried Time Travel before (don’t ask…) – to visit the 1700s. I found it most interesting for a while and even witnessed the writer Jane Austen stepping from her carriage in front of her home in………………. Then as luck, or rather bad luck, would have it, I suffered gnawing toothache and headed for a dentist. The screams emanating from a terrified patient in the surgery had me quaking in the waiting room, so I decided to – post haste –return once more to the 1930s, where I knew I could have my tooth painlessly removed. The relief which followed this strategy was immense, so I decided to re-experience the 20th century-

In 1932, the year of my birth, the United Kingdom was between two wars, so peace reigned. My parents worked hard and were loving; our garden was an oasis of flower-adorned green, and Sunday roasts boasted peas, beans and carrots from our treasured patch of earth.

Into this idyllic scene, came my brother Terence, two years later. He was such a quiet baby and child, Mum said “He’s there when he isn’t, and isn’t when he is!” which totally confused me. Two years afterwards, I helped the midwife bathe second brother, Bryan.
Life was sweet. The Ink Spots sang on the wireless, Mum danced to the music of Edmundo Ross while dusting and we played Snakes & Ladders, flicked cigarette cards down the hallway, made ‘objects’ out of Meccano, and read books..

Dad joined the Royal Air Force Reserves, while a lunatic with a silly moustache raved in Germany in 1938/9, and Dad fumed as he had to dig up his rose-beds and erect an ugly outdoor air-raid shelter when war was declared.

Mum, being Welsh, it was decided that Wales would be a safer haven, and we found ourselves in Merthyr Tydfil living with ‘The Jones family:’ relatives who were wonderfully kind. Hitherto not allowed to play outside the confines of our garden in flat Dagenham, in Esssex, the ‘great outdoors’ yawned, inviting, and blackberry-loaded bushes had me salivating… .

With Dad in France and Mum working in a munitions factory, we children had different, and many, fun adventures.

I joined the library: burning the candles to stubs at night, reading the Brothers Grimms’ (so what I had nightmares!) and Hans Christian Anderson tales, plus anything else with words on…

The freedom of movement in Wales was liberating, and I enrolled at a dancing school, which was what dreams were made of, until circumstances changed after my third, dear brother, Royce was born.

When in Wales, Mum’s young cousin Islwyn was killed by a coal-fall at the age of seventeen and my Dad’s youngest brother, my Uncle Bernard, a navigator in the Royal Air Force, was declared ‘missing’ at the age of 22. He never did return from the war.
Despite such tragedies, eventually, peace brought relief from the threat of bombs, and the celebrations on London Bridge were euphoric.

The 40’s and 50’s were a fabulous time to grow up, despite no central heating or TV sets…We were entertained by Big Band sounds via Glen Miller and Harry James, the cool jazz of Ella Fitzgerald, with crooners Sinatra and Crosby, et al, singing understandable lyrics….

Gradually, such boons as fridges, washing machines and central heating, brightened our lives too.

The strides forward in medicine were astounding. In my infancy, thousands died of tuberculosis; now almost eradicated, and the surgical advancement is mind-boggling. The last decades have been a time of revelation and the refinement of technological advancement has left me speechless. And that’s saying something!

What adventures have you had publishing your work?

“Life’s path has many twists”   Anon

In 1983, my husband and I sold the small hotel-business we ran in Bournemouth, and I received a letter from Kogan Page Ltd., of London ASKING ME (?!) to write a book. (The editor had approached my former boss, asking did she know anyone who could write about hotel life. .Bingo!) Right place, right time, or what? The book was accepted, and I was paid an advance fee and another on publication and had to pinch myself. Defying belief, it sold extremely well and was reprinted due to demand. My eldest son, being an artist, designed the covers and I received regular royalties. The company then asked me to update two of their books, and write another on Jobs in Baking & Confectionery.. This entailed interviewing young people in colleges and doing research, all of which I enjoyed. The first book was titled Running Your Own Small Hotel (1984/5).

I then ran a postal poetry group called Odes for Joy which was fun. (The five pound yearly fee was given back in prizes.) After winning a couple of poetry prizes myself, I had Celtic Cameos & Other Poems published.

‘Life’ then intruded, and eventually…my husband and I retired to the Costa Blanca region of Spain.

I joined The Torrevieja Writing group and won first prize for Worth Its Salt in the First International Short Story Writing Competition held in Torrevieja in 2005, and was a judge for the following two years.

And now a sour note…Well, life is not all buttercups and roses, is it?. I was introduced to an epileptic sailor, and immediately succumbed to his plea for a writer to pen his on-going sea adventures. The BBC had already given him coverage when he rowed, single-handed (strapped in) across the Atlantic in a small boat. He tried to row the Pacific but nearly died, and I had his salt-stained log books, scribbled in in pencil, smothered with expletives and bad English to decipher…While I frowned and typed, he was attempting to cross the Pacific again! He had to be rescued in a very bad state, but recovered and had quite a tale to tell…

Meanwhile, I eventually covered all three rows and took a draft copy of the book to show his mother who lived in Clacton, UK (a much nicer human being than her son!). I spent the next two years…trying to find a publisher (the BBC declined) which cost me a penny or two. Repeated assurances he would pay me, never materialized. I eventually found an excellent publisher in Spain: Libros International: and the book Hurricane Halsey become a reality. I was delighted, despite an empty pocket…as the photographs and covers were superb. Then Libros went out of business before a book-signing could be arranged! I sold several copies to friends and family (which I had purchased) after which I received threatening letters from said sailor that he would SUE ME?! (For buying and selling the books!!) Of course he had no grounds as I had signed on his behalf when the book was published, so I retained the copyright (not that I wanted it!). And there the matter rested. I put it down to just another of life’s experiences, bitter pill to swallow that it was.

(PS Because my early education was so abysmal (I attended seven schools!) I didn’t receive my A level English Lit. certificate until I was 66…)

What kind of music do you listen to and who are your favourite musicians?

“If music be the food of love play on Shakespeare.

Where to start? My husband and I both love an eclectic mix of music. We met at a ‘Jazz session’ held in the upstairs room of a public house in the East End of London, called ‘The Hayfield’ (he jokes he’s had the needle ever since…) I recall they played ‘Intermission Riff,’ ‘The Sabre Dance’ . to which we jived at half tempo…and one of Glen Miller’s latest hits. (As it was 69 years ago this autumn, I’m surprised I remembered.) We spent some of our courting time in the ‘Eleven Club’ in London and Ronnie Scott’s, plus The Lyceum ballroom, and Hammersmith Palace, cutting many a rug over the years. We admired Johnnie Dankworth’s playing and adored Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and a whole talented group of singers and other musicians like Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. My favourite instruments are the saxophone, piano and violin, and Ben Webster played a mean sax…while Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington were no slouches either. We also grew to love modern jazz.

I hope that Joy will enjoy this… Feeling Good… with Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine

I recall my parents playing records way back when and hamming it up – dancing a mock tango to Jealousy, and Dad played the powerful Bolero a lot, while one of my aunts played the piano beautifully. Her Rustle of Spring was memorable .During the war years, when on leave from the munitions factory, Mum pounded the ivories ‘by ear’- an expression I always found amusing. She played Roll out the Barrel and another war-time favourite: Kiss me Goodnight Sergeant Major.

I recall, as a child dancer, my teacher having excellent musical taste, and tap-dancing to the haunting strains of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, dressed to kill in silver and pale blue satin.

After marriage, we bought a smart radiogram, and apart from the delightful Nutcracker Suite , purchased several near soul-searing, beautiful recordings. We spent many lazy evenings listening to favourites like Scheherazade,and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons; and I was soon familiar with the music of masters like Shostakovich, whose 2nd piano concerto, in particular, is heavenly, with Tchaikovsky twanging the heart-strings in the wings…

In later years, I listened to several riveting concerts at The South Bank and adored musicals. I actually appeared in Carousel as a dancer (in an amateur production I hasten to add), and saw many West End productions such as Candide, Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific, et al. And who, with blood in their veins, could not swoon with joy at the dancing and music from West Side Story?! Another treat was seeing The Gypsy Kings in London. Few people were seated once they got going! The atmosphere was electric.

It’s pleasing to note that, while each of our three sons has his own particular taste in music, they all appreciate a lot of the classical and jazz music we played to them over the years. At times though, my ears were ‘tortured’ by Punk, gently massaged by middle of the road stuff and excited by Reggae, which I enjoyed, and to which I ‘skanked’ (Oh MOTHER!) on occasion … ..

We have been extraordinarily lucky to have been fed such varied, fabulous music over the years. I was a great fan of the Three Tenors, and what an ear for music John Williams has, and Leonard Bernstein had! Nigel Kennedy also deserves a mention, and now we have settled in Spain, I love to listen to the passionate, soulful sound of the Spanish guitar. We have a delightful, small theatre in Torrevieja, and I heard the local youth orchestra play there, who were brilliant. During the last few years, another, larger theatre with excellent acoustics was built on the perimeter of our town. A cliché now – last but not least – a piece that ‘wrings me out emotionally:’ Joaquin Rodrigo’s The Concerto de Aranquezz, arguably one of the best guitar compositions of the 20th century.

What a gap there’s been since I played the triangle and tambourine at Infant’s school. Time is such a self-serving cannibal.

What is your favourite colour and why?

My favourite colour is blue, and on the world stage, BLUE stands tall and proud. One of the three primary colours of pigments in painting, it has been important over the years in art and decoration. In The 8th century in China, artists used cobalt blue and woad was used in clothing, until replaced by indigo from the United States in the 19th century. In the Renaissance period, the most expensive pigment was ultramarine. Dark blue was favoured for military uniforms, and because of its association with harmony, the colour blue was used for business suits in the 20th century, and for the flags of the United Nations and the European Union.

As a writer, I delight in all five senses, and despite maturity (lucky me), mine are still going strong. My hearing is so sharp, MO half calls me a bloodhound, and even my eyes are not too bad. As mentioned above, my favorite colour is blue, and on our modest, family stage -for are we not all minor players in the great play?? – the colour blue features markedly in our make-up. One side of the family is of Celtic origin: Ireland and Wales, and a larger proportion have bluey-grey through to deep blue eyes. Both parents had blue eyes, as do my surviving two brothers and myself. Two of my three sons also have blue eyes; the eldest having brown like his Dad.

And so, when it comes to what I wear: blue, MO half’s choice too, it’s often in the picture. From ‘powder’ to ‘baby, ‘‘petrol,’ through to ‘navy,’ ‘cobalt,’ or ‘Prussian,’ you’d find them all in my wardrobe at one time or another. I also love turquoise and lapis lazuli, the deep blue shade found in metamorphic rock used in semi-precious jewellery..

And then there are stained glass windows in churches and cathedrals. How many times have I stood, transfixed, as the light shone through one and the depth of the blue – often ‘Madonna’ – almost took my breath away in its rich and vivid splendour.

At school, I recall the particular smell of crayons as I coloured in a sky – always blue – of course, and the difficulty encountered trying to get the sea to look natural…And, on our various travels, I remember comparing the different skies and plumping for the Mediterranean ones…We lived in Canada for eighteen months before our children arrived, and – however cold it became – and it did… the sun shining against a brilliant blue back-drop always lifted the spirits. No wonder we love our Spanish skies so much!

Prussian, azure and cobalt blues again featured when I took up art in my fifties and struggled to make the sea look natural with my water colours, although my skies were passable. And looking in master Pablo Picasso’s direction, he had a very ‘Blue’ period between 1901 and 1904, at which time he painted essentially monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, only now and then warmed by other colours.

What a rich, colourful, planet we live on. It’s a tragedy we don’t give it as much love as it deserves!

Tell us something about your work in progress.

On the back.burner… The Highs and Lows of Leticia Dombrowski

Being of the Jewish faith, the Dombrowski family are fated for the same, horrific treatment meted out to many others of their ilk. The head of the family: Daniel, an art restorer, is arrested and murdered by the Nazis when they march into Poland in 1939. His daughter, Rebecca, is sent to the safety of the UK, but the repercussions of her experiences affect her life and that of her illegitimate daughter, Leticia. The story follows Leticia through childhood to adulthood and highlights her strengths and weaknesses. She proves to be feisty, intelligent and something of a rebel, while having an innovative talent for jewellery design and art. Being wildly attractive often lures the wrong type of attention, but she battles on and – after a surprise ‘inflation of funds’ – and the fulfilling of a charitable desire, wins the day.

Joy’s latest book was released in November 2017

About the book

A little book, full of jokes, Limericks, poems, short stories and one-liners, from husband and wife team, Joy and Eric Lennick.

Both authors in their own “write”, they have collaborated to bring you this fun read.

One of the reviews for the book.

I had the privilege and pleasure of reading this book pre publication and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was full of fun – jokes, poems, silly one liners – just the thing for popping in a Christmas stocking, or buying for one’s own amusement. Excellent read for Boxing Day!
I hope Mr & Mrs Lennick collaborate again and bring out another little book of fun. 

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon US:

Other books by Joy Lennick

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon US:

Read other reviews and follow Joy on Goodreads:

Connect to Joy


My thanks to Joy for sharing her childhood memories and her publishing adventures. We would be delighted to receive your feedback and thank you for dropping in today.. Thanks Sally

If you would like to be a guest on the Open House then here are the question choices and details:

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Open House Sunday Interview – Freelance travel writer and photographer Liesbet Collaert

My guest today is Liesbet Collaert who has a lifestyle that is very different to those of us who rarely stir from our comfort zones, except for the odd couple of weeks holiday.

Let’s find out more about Liesbet before finding out Belgium, her favourite leisure pastimes, the impact of modern technology and the five experiences we should all tick off our bucket list. Liesbet also shares some of her photographs from her travels which will certainly create wanderlust in most of us.

About Liesbet Collaert

Liesbet Collaert is a bilingual translator, proofreader, freelance writer and photographer from Belgium who has been writing and traveling her whole life. She specializes in sailing and cruising articles and has been published in all the major US, European, and Caribbean sailing magazines. Her (feature) stories and photos have appeared in Cruising World, Sail/Multihull Sailor, BWS/Multihulls Quarterly, Islands, Latitude 38, Latitudes & Attitudes (discontinued), Living Aboard (discontinued), Yachting World, Sailing Today, All At Sea, Caribbean Compass, Zeilen, and Varen. She has also been interviewed by IWAC (Interview with a Cruiser project), World Reviewer, Multihull Sailor, Infogem, and Flair, and has contributed to extensive cruising surveys for All At Sea and Caribbean Compass.

Books available:

And Amazon US:

Liesbet published two walking tour guides of the Caribbean capital cities Marigot and Philipsburg when residing in St. Martin/St. Maarten on her sailboat Irie and is currently working on a memoir about her eight-year cruising journey in the Caribbean and South Pacific, incorporating her unique life’s experiences. While she is a very independent and free-spirited soul, her American husband Mark Kilty has played an important role in the last decade of her life. They are currently roaming about the United States while taking care of other people’s homes and pets.

Yosemite National Park – California

If your country of birth is not the country you now live in, tell us about it and what you miss most.

My home country is Belgium, where I was born, grew up, studied and worked for a few years as a primary school teacher. One summer in 2003, at age 27, I set out on an overland adventure in the US and Canada with my then American boyfriend (whom I’d met in Australia in 2001). One thing led to another, and I never returned. I have been a full-time nomad and “world citizen” since then, traveling and living in campers, on a sailboat and – for the last 2+ years – in other people’s homes as a house and pet sitter, while making money as a freelancer along the way. Currently and in the near future, my husband and I will remain in the United States, until I get my citizenship. That will be my new path to freedom and less border hassles!

I try to go back to Belgium once a year, to visit friends and family, which are – as you can imagine – the “things” I miss most from my native country. There are certain local foods and delicacies that I crave when abroad, like pastries, fresh bread, wholesome dairy products, extra dark chocolate, Liege waffles, and, of course, our biggest specialty of all: Belgian fries, as they should be called instead of French fries. And, before you wonder why I’m not mentioning our world-renowned brews, I am, indeed, a rare Belgian who does not like or drink beer.

While Brussels is often called the capital of Europe, Belgium is a bit of an underdog. I always compare my country to New Zealand in relationship to Australia, or Canada in relationship to the US. I like it that way. Just like those countries, we pack a punch and are small, but significant. There are many historical cities worth a visit – my favorites: Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, and Ieper. But, if you ever visit this densely populated place on a European tour, don’t blink or you miss it!

Society Islands, French Polynesia

Which is your favourite leisure pastime?

I guess that would be travel. While I had a pretty normal European youth, where my parents would take me and my brother on annual summer vacations to Southern Europe, I have always had a desire for adventure and the unfamiliar. I’m curious, I want to explore. As a teenager, I saved my pocket money to travel, leading to a 5-week hitchhiking odyssey to Italy with a friend when I was 17, and summer getaways throughout Europe and India later on.

I was raised in a modest way, financially. Being frugal my whole life, meant I could mostly live it on my own terms, incorporating lots of budget travel. I wasn’t (and still am not) interested in gadgets or “stuff” and saved most of my income to explore the world. Back in Belgium, I rented an affordable apartment and biked to work. I used public transportation or borrowed my dad’s car to venture further afield. I have never owned a house or a car, but collected incredible memories instead. It is amazing how liberating it feels to just pack up your things and move on.

Grenada, Caribbean

Travel defines my life and lifestyle, but it is the act of flexibility and going with the flow that brought me to where I am now. After graduating as a teacher, I backpacked around Southeast Asia for a year. That’s when my real sense for adventure was awakened. After two years at work in Belgium, I jumped on a plane to SE Asia again, adding Australia and New Zealand to the itinerary. This year of backpacking, I’d set out on my own. It was incredible, and I learned that, with so many like-minded souls out there, I was rarely ever really alone or lonely.

I returned to Belgium for another two years, which brings me to that fateful July of 2003. A year and a half of RVing in the US and Canada led to another year of camping experiences in Mexico and Central America. My future husband and I contemplated moving to Belize after that, but settled for a 35’ sailing catamaran instead. We found our new floating home in Annapolis, Maryland, after two months of tent camping, with our two big rescue dogs. Yes, we had two dogs on our drive to Panama and back as well. Initially, we had the Bahamas in mind as a cruising destination, but, eight years later, we found ourselves in Tahiti, where we sold our trustworthy Irie in 2015. Since then, we have been roaming the US as full-time house and pet sitters.

Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia

What is next? Well… we recently bought a camper van. Think about the potential! We have a reliable roof above our heads in times of need again, and a means to explore… South America, maybe?

In your lifetime, what event or invention has most impacted your own life or work?

There is only one answer to this question for me: the internet. When I first started traveling, I kept “in touch” with post cards, letters, poste restante (general delivery at local post offices) and expensive international calls. My parents might have been happier about this invention than me! Thanks to email and Skype, my husband and I have been able to keep in touch with loved ones all these years. Blogging has made my life “easier” since 2007, when I started logging stories and photos online about our adventures on our sailboat Irie, instead of writing and emailing monthly reports to a group of friends and family in English and Dutch.

On a work level, the internet is and has been indispensable for me and my husband. It has allowed us to work from the most remote places. Yes, that need to work has restricted us in terms of where we could go or anchor, but we partly solved that by inventing a long-range WiFi (and now also cell data) device to grab weather reports, stay in touch, and work from the comfort of our boat. We turned this product into a business in 2009 from St. Martin. My husband has been running our Wirie business successfully ever since. I earn extra income as a freelance writer and translator. Without the internet, we could not maintain our nomadic lifestyle.

Barbuda, Caribbean

What are the top five experiences or activities that you feel that everyone should complete in their lifetime?

  1. Before getting married, I would suggest every couple to travel with their partner for a full year, being together 24/7. That will make or break any relationship! And, no, I’m not suggesting to do so on a 35ft sailboat. If this is not possible, you should at least live together for a few years and go on several vacations as a couple. Not only will this enlighten you about your compatibility level and give you quality time to really get to know each other, but, the shock of being in each other’s company full-time when retiring will be reduced.
  2. Do at least one thing to expand your horizons or get out of your comfort zone. For me, it was bungy jumping, but it doesn’t have to be this extreme. An unfamiliar yet invigorating experience will teach you a lot about yourself and your (lack of) limitations.
  3. Whether it is a bucket list, dreams or goals you have created with not-to-be-missed activities, sights or experiences-of-a-lifetime, make sure you do at least one of them before it’s “too late.”
  4. Which brings me to not necessarily an experience or an activity to be completed in your lifetime, but a general and foolproof suggestion: do not postpone what is important to you now if at all possible. Really. It might be a cliché, but you do only live once and there is no way of telling what the near future looks like. Enough with the excuses! If there is a place on this earth you are dying to visit, please, (please, please) don’t wait until you are retired. So much can change, and I’m not only talking about your health here. Although, until a life-threatening event happens to you or a loved one, it is hard to realize how meaningful this plea is. Believe me, you don’t want to wait until something drastic happens to understand the importance of my suggestion. Go. Now! Do it. Now!
  5. Travel, of course. It is mind-opening. It is enriching. It gets you out into the world, meeting extraordinary people, savoring exotic foods, experiencing different cultures, witnessing the most amazing natural sights and, my favorite, it provides unique opportunities for wildlife encounters in their natural habitat.

The Abacos, Bahamas

And, just for fun, since I know this question is probably on your lips… My favorite places in the world so far? The Galapagos Islands for wildlife, the San Blas Islands in Panama for its indigenous indians, French Polynesia for its hospitality and cultural celebrations, Barbuda for the beaches, the Eastern Caribbean for sailing, South East Asia for architecture and affordability, Australia for diversity, and the Western United States for its National Parks.

Work in progress, plans for the blog in the next year, any special upcoming events?

I am currently working on a memoir about a decade in my life (my thirties), incorporating the joys, trials, and tribulations of a life less ordinary on a 35’ sailboat. It is a story about love, loss and living in the moment, meant to entertain, inspire, and surprise the reader, and keep them wondering what’s next on this crazy journey called “my life”.

With my memoir and my other writing, I hope to encourage people to enjoy life in a way that might not be mainstream. Unfortunately, because of this desire to explore and the guilt of sitting behind my computer when it is a nice day out, and all other kinds of distractions, projects and unexpected circumstances, this memoir appears to be a long-term project. The first draft is finished, but I need to cut it in half and shape it into a compelling narrative. I do hope to finish this book by the end of 2018.

No upcoming plans for my Roaming About blog yet. I enjoy writing it and sharing my experiences and photos from the road and while house and pet sitting. I know my topics could be more informative, focused and themed, and the posts more engaging, but I find it hard sometimes to find the energy and time to create “perfect” blog posts.

Maupiti, French Polynesia

Favorite piece of music:

Anything from the Eddie Vedder album “Into the Wild” (the soundtrack of the movie with the same name) – the story, movie, location and music resonates strongly with me.

The soundtrack to the film:

The film:

©Liesbet Collaert images.

Connect to Liesbet


Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary – (current)
It’s Irie – Cruising the World the Way It Is – (2007 – 2015)


Roaming About:
It’s Irie:

I am sure that you have enjoyed this interview as much as I have and Liesbet is looking forward to your feedback. Thanks for dropping by.. Sally.


Smorgasborg Blog Magazine – The Open House Sunday Interview with Traci Kenworth of When Genres Collide

Welcome to the Open House interview and this week my guest is Traci Kenworth who is currently hoping to publish the first of the eleven books that she has written. I am very grateful for her support of the posts on here, mine and my guests.

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

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

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

Very importantly for many of us, Traci generously shares our blog links on a regular basis on her blog, Where Genres Collide.

Here is the most recent link to one of Traci’s treasure troves of blog links:

Traci has many favourite authors including Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Robin McKinley, Terry Goodkind. Tanith Lee, Dean Koontz, Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley.

 Traci writes detailed reviews on Goodreads and here is a link to her latest:

Time to find out more about Traci’s life, her favourite television shows that have inspired her, the most useful invention and an adventure she would like to experience.

Where were you born, and can you tell us something about the history of your place of birth or any interesting historical fact.

I was born in the 18th century village of Burton in Ohio. We were the first permanent settlement in Geauga County in 1798. We were also the first in Ohio to have the telephone available. If it weren’t for the local Native Americans, the first residents would’ve starved to death that first winter. Today, we have many of the original settler’s homes in the Geauga County Museum grounds. This is where I played as a child and I even attended church there. Every summer, there are tours through the old homes and they have Civil War reenactments. The inside of one of the houses is like a log cabin that Laura Ingalls Wilder might’ve lived in. There’s a sheriff’s station, a dress shop, a tack shop, a barbershop, a train, and an old-time store that’s still open today. It has a lot of old candies that are favorites of the children.

All these lands were part of The Western Reserve lands owned by Connecticut originally. We were named after one of the pioneer’s sons. In Ohio, we have trees called Buckeyes. People can also be called Buckeyes. These were favorites for me to collect as a child as they’re said to bring good luck. They were also good wood to build with when the settlers arrived. Our State bird is a Cardinal. Our state flag resembles the country flag, but it has a diamond and two circles within instead of the square. The state tree is the buckeye. Ohio is known as the mother of presidents as Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft and Warren G. Harding are from here. We also have the third largest Amish settlement in the United States.

What is your favorite all time television series?

This is a hard one to pick. There have been a lot of favorites over the years. If I had to choose one though, I’d say: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I had just gotten married when it came on and I used to sneak and watch it as much as I could. I liked that it was scary. I marveled that it had a girl at its center and she could kick some serious butt. More the point, it was like the high school years I remembered: dark and mysterious and hard to maneuver through. I became secretly obsessed with the show.

At the point when Angel turns into Angelus and begins killing everyone, I had discovered some darker things in my marriage than just the abuse. I felt like we shared that time, the pain, the horror, and when she began to fight back, to find her strength in all of that, I discovered that I could do the same in real life. Each step along the way of finding myself after and during the court days, I have to say was inspired by her. Her struggles, her hope, it all began to bleed into me and give me a reason to think I might survive. Not only survive, but conquer.

When the series ended, I cried but in that final episode, watching the survivors leave the hellhole, I felt I could finally put my past behind me and move on. And I did, slowly, learning every step of the way that I, too, was a fighter and stronger than I ever believed. Not only that, the kids began to see my strength and find it in themselves to step off the eggshells and live again.

In your lifetime what event or invention has most impacted your own life or work?

I would say the biggest impact in my life has been the computer. I started off writing with a typewriter like most then when I started bringing in some money, I switched to the word processor. I remember how those three-to-four lines frustrated me. I wanted to see more of my story. I didn’t get a computer until after I was divorced. It was a desktop and I treasured the thing. It was my salvation for all the anger and poison that was within me. It gave me a way to get all the pain down and out of me. It helped to free me to move on. I got my first laptop in 2009 and I’ve been through a couple of those now. They were nice to have but viruses plagued them and the blue screen signaled death for them. I write with a desktop now and boy have desktops come a long way!

My monitor is almost the size of our TV screen. I LOVE it! It lets me see quite a bit more than those three-to-four lines I started with. My desk is kind of broke at the moment. I use an old model kit for a dollhouse from the fifties or sixties to hold it up or rather the section that comes out for my keyboard tray. I have a second desk but it’s mostly storage for my files and what I’m working on. I can’t put my pc on this desk as it’s a rolled- drawer top one and the monitor won’t fit there.

Anyway, I’m happy that files have switched from disks to flash drives. Although I’ve lost a lot of work because of it. I did have two external hard drives, but they got corrupted. Lost a lot of work there too. I love that the computer allows me to store things, though I don’t leave it just to flash drives anymore. I email my stories and such to myself as well. Yes, the computer is probably the single biggest invention that’s impacted my life. I couldn’t bring my stories to submission-ready without it.

What is the one big adventure that you would like to experience?

I would like to visit the castles around the world. I’ve been fascinated by them since I was about ten or eleven and Princess Diana and Prince Charles got married. I’ve read many historical novels with castles in them. I’m curious to know what they’re like, how many rooms are in them, what one of those towers actually looks like on the inside and how steep their staircases must be to climb up into them. I wouldn’t want to be locked away in one, mind you. Just experience what castle life was like once upon a time and then what its like in the present time to live in one.

I watched a video recently about Kincaid Castle and how it was almost in ruins when the present owners took it over. What it takes to restore it to former glory. I don’t want to live in a castle. I just would like to know about life within their walls. I’ve been researching them as much as I can and listening to videos about them since I can’t afford to visit yet. What must princesses and knights etc. been like in real life? I’m sure some were downright brutish. Even the princesses but still, castles are on my list of things to experience firsthand.

Tell us about your work in progress, plans for your blog in the next year any special events that are coming up that are very special to you.

This is going to be hard. I’ve read you shouldn’t reveal too much about your work if you plan to traditional publish. I’ve had trouble before when I put the blurb up for one of my former stories and the agent I queried said that I’d self-published. I hadn’t, and I couldn’t figure out why she would say such. All I’d done like I said, was post the blurb. Other friends who traditional publish told me not to relay too much info until I have a book deal so forgive me if I seem vague to you. My work in progress is set in biblical times. It’s a YA Fantasy where the boy is shunned in his home town and is befriended by a girl of legendary fame. Together, they battle to save her people.

Plans for my blog for the next year are to continue to grow it and hopefully, hold on to my established readers. I want to provide better info for all so that they can come and see the links to fabulous blogs that are a worth a read. I want to review more books this year. I don’t usually keep track of the number I read a year. I probably should. Maybe I should make that a goal. That way I can measure where to improve. I also want to add more of a variety this year, not just all one genre.

Please let me know what your favorite piece of music is so that I can include in the interview if possible.

This is hard too! Lol. I like all kinds of music. Country. Christian. 80s rock. Movie tracks. I like something haunted. Maybe “The Dance,” by Garth Brooks.

Connect to Traci.


My thanks to Traci for sharing more about her life and her hopes and ambitions for the future… and for her generous support of my blog and so many others. Please head over and follow her on social media. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Romanian Economist and Author Marina Costa

Welcome to the Open House Sunday Interview and today my guest is Romanian economist and author Marina Costa.

About Marina Costa.

Hello! I am Marina Costa, almost 50, an economist with PhD in World Economics (the dissertation being, in 1996, about the European transport policy). I have worked for a whole career in EU Affairs/ EU projects management, meanwhile also having written for a lifetime. I have published several professional papers and 2 handbooks in the past (1999-2015), and, since 2016, 2 novels. Other 3 or 4 will appear this year. The most recent will be sent to printing next week and will have an official launching in March. I am writing mostly historical fiction/ swashbuckling adventures/ young adult novels.

My debut novel’s title can be translated into English as “The Wanderers of the Seas“. It was launched in June 2016 and it happens in the Viking Era. It is based on one historical theory of the years 1950s-1980s that the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent who had taught them a lot of things, described as blonde and bearded, with whom the Conquistadors had been mistaken, might have been Viking.

So my characters, after a whole saga (a Byzantine young woman happening to be in a convent in Venice while her father was travelling, gets kidnapped by the Vikings, follows them on an island in now Norway, then, as her master gets killed in a local political intrigue and his defenders get banned, she follows them in their quest for a new homeland), end in now Mexico, with the Nahuatl. Sigurd, the ship captain, turns to become there Quetzalcoatl.

The second novel, launched in March 2017, in two volumes, can be translated into English as “Lives in turmoil” (Part 1 – “Bloodied lands“, Part 2 – “The New World“). It starts in the Napoleonic Era, in Italy under the Jacobine revolutions – “Liberty, equality, fraternity, democratic republic” (therefore the title of the first volume – the lands are bloodied by the wars). For my main character, the fights stop with the battle of Novi, in the summer of 1799, when she is taken prisoner. She succeeds to escape, but she has to lay low ever since.

When the Revolutionary Wars turn into dictature with the self-appointment of Napoleon as first consul, she and her fiancé decide to emigrate to the US, the only country who had preserved the democratic values. (Hence the second volume’s title). There they go west, with a convoy of Venetians, and settle on the shores of the Mississippi river (Venice, IL exists now too, and it is a part of Greater St. Louis, being just across the river from St. Louis). They make new friends there and they erect their village, with the name of the Serenissima Reppubblica they are deploring (The Republic of Venice being given by Napoleon to the Austrians in Campo Formio Treaty in 1797). They witness the Purchase of Louisiana, the development of Saint Louis (in parallel, but in quicker rhythm than their village). The second volume ends with Lafayette’s visit in 1825, making Roxana and Luigi, now Mayor of Venice, Illinois, reminisce their lives and fights in Italy, and with their firstborn son, now a young man in his 20s, returning to Italy, together with other sons of settlers of Venice, to fight on the side of the Carbonari, exactly how their revolutionary parents had fought in their youth for the same ideals.

The novel which will appear in February has also its place here, since it is finished and sent to the publisher already, not at the projects for the future. Its title can be translated into English as “Rightness’ Friends” (yes, I think rightness. Justice has a different connotation and it isn’t the right choice). It is also in 2 volumes, but no separate parts like for “Lives in turmoil”, only chapters in sequence. It happens in US, Arizona, in a frontier town named Nogales, which has a twin with the same name in Mexico, just across the valley. There is no clearly mentioned year when it happens, but it is sometime 1974-1982 (with a sort of an epilogue about 8-10 years later. Last chapter, not exactly an epilogue but similar). It is young adult, dealing with first love, jealousy, friendship, honour, but also good and bad choices, forbidden love, morals, gang wars, the high price of fame and young success (in sports and music) with the related high performance expectations and pressure which some can resist to, some can’t, carreer choices, suicide and those left behind with guilt, rage and depression for having not been able to prevent it. It also explores the worlds of mariachis and of bullfighters.

Where were you born and can you tell us something about the history of your place of birth or any interesting historical fact?

I was born and raised in Bucharest, the capital of Romania.

According to a legend, the city of Bucharest (București) was founded on the banks of the Dâmbovița River by a shepherd named Bucur, whose name literarily means “joy” (and it was a rather common name until 1900). His flute playing reportedly dazzled the people and after selling his sheep he settled on the riverbank, the new village receiving his name.

Located on a plain and crossed by two rivers, Dâmbovița and Colentina, and a necklace of 7 lakes, my city has an area of 88 square miles (587 square miles with the “greater” metropolitan area) and about 2 million inhabitants (2.27 with greater area). Bucharest is the sixth-largest city in the European Union by population within city limits, after London, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, and Paris. The place was inhabited since 500 BC, say the historians and archaeologists, and first documented in 1459, during the reign of Vlad the Impaler (so called Dracula, but never a vampire, just a prince as cruel as many others of his time). He chose the town as his residence and new capital. It became the capital of Romania in 1862 and it is the centre of Romanian media, culture, and art. In the period between the two World Wars, the city’s elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite earned Bucharest the nickname of “Little Paris.”

The Palace of Parliament it is the world’s second-largest office building (floor area) and the third largest in volume (after Cape Canaveral Space Centre in the U.S. and the Great Pyramid in Egypt). It took 20,000 workers and 700 architects to build this massive structure that has 12 stories, 1,100 rooms, a 350-ft.-long lobby and eight underground levels.

What adventures have you had publishing your work?

My first publishing adventure was not literary. I published the first project management handbook ever in Romanian. The others, at Uni and at postgraduate courses, were starting with 2000, and in July 1999 my handbook, written in 1998, appeared. I had sponsors for publishing this book, but it had been a difficult endeavour. Also the fact that the dollar (main international currency then – EURO currency wasn’t in force until 2002, it was just a credit value calculated from the EU member states currencies) fluctuated severely in our country in early 1999, provoking huge price increases, made me find two more sponsors.

After I published it, most people in the ministries dealing with EU funds wanted it for free. Only the NGOs and some townhalls in little towns and villages which wanted to get the rural support funds bought it. So I didn’t get any richer, but I was somehow famous in my circles. Other papers followed, but not on the same publishing route. Most were in the ministry’s official journal. One more handbook was published (I was only a part of the collective of redaction) within an EU project, therefore funded within the project. But all these adventures had deterred me in seeking a publisher for my novels.

I have been writing for a lifetime. I remember a story in first grade about a witch who flew over a man and turned him into a rabbit. And my first attempt at a novel was Western, in sixth grade, lasting 2 notebooks of 100 pages, handwritten loosely. Nothing of any literary value, of course – a sort of pale imitation of Karl May and Fenimore Cooper. But five of the novels I have written in high school and Uni had a literary value, so much later I transcribed them on computer, correcting, completing/ re-writing them and hoping that some day they might be published.

“The Wanderers of the Seas” had been written, in a thinner version, in my first year of Uni, in 1987. It got transcribed on the computer in 2002, and corrected, then it got some completions in 2009. The first 12 chapters of the first volume of “Lives in Turmoil” were written in 1984, in the summer holidays between the tenth and eleventh grade. “Rightness’ Friends”, in a thinner version, was written in my last year of highschool. That got transcribed in 2007 on computer, completed and re-written. In 2017, it just underwent some editing and condensing for publishing.

I had the opportunity to meet an interested publisher in late 2015, at a literary presentation. We talked, exchanged e-mails, and I sent him “The Wanderers of the Seas”, which was the shortest among these three best ones, to tell me if it was any good. There had been a few months until he succeeded to read it, and he was enthusiastic about it. This is how I got to be published, and at the official launching of the book I was sitting like a bride, the happiest possible… (The photo of me with the flowers is right from that debut launching).

What kind of music do you listen to and who are your favourite musicians?

I listen plenty of folklore of all countries, with a liking to Greek, Italian, Spanish and Latino-American (and reggae and American country & western too, but I don’t mean the Nashville hits, I mean the old cowboy songs, tex-mex ballads included) as well as pop music and various others. Among my favourites are Beatles, Elvis, Abba, Modern Talking, but also Julio Iglesias, Nana Mouskouri, Demis Roussos and many others. I don’t generally like metal and rapp, but even there I like a few bands – the French MANAU in rapp, because they are special, with Breton influences, and for metal, Alestorm, Tierra Santa, Mago de Oz.

My novels reflect some songs in fashion then too, mostly folk songs of the peoples I am writing about.

Modern Talking was not a band that I was familiar with but after listening to some of their tracks I thought I would select this one and hope Marina approves.

No Face, No Name, No Number

Do you have a favourite quote? What does it means to you as an individual?

I have three at equal preference, just that I don’t know where one of them is from, namely “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” And yes, I abide to it. The other two are from songs – “Don’t worry, be happy!“, from Bob Marley’s song, and “Together we’re strong” from a duet by Patrick Duffy and Mireille Matthieu. I am a natural worrier, so yes, I need being reminded that “every time you have some trouble, when you worry, you make it double”.

What are your literary plans for future?

There will be a third volume of “Lives in turmoil” too, a sequel which can be read also separately, titled “Other turmoils of life“, that I have been working at during November 2017 NaNoWriMo season. It will be finished in March, most likely, and bound to appear in late summer or early autumn.

During Camp NaNo in April I want to edit for further publishing another of my old novels which had been found as having enough literary value to be worth transcribing on the computer some years ago, and in the July Camp NaNo, another one. These would be all the past ones.

The one scheduled for Camp April can be translated into English as “The Crew” and is also young adult, about a group of high school children (and their middle school siblings/ cousins). It is set in a city by the Danube, named Brăila. Again, the exact period is not specified. It might be early 1990s. They are dealing with first love, jealousy, forbidden/ lost/ unrequited love, friendship, temptations/ good and bad choices, prejudice, morals, honour, carreer choices and neighbourhood wars.

The one scheduled for Camp July can be translated into English as “The call of the sea”, but it is a preliminary title which surely will be changed in view of publication, because the alliteration in original doesn’t give the best auditive impression. It is historical, with swashbuckling adventures, so therefore still meant mainly for young adults. Set in the 1790s in what’s now Greece and Ottoman Empire – then it was an all-encompassing Ottoman Empire – my characters are born at sea, in a seafaring family, and the twists of fate bring the two girls in a harem in Istanbul, and the lad among the janissaries. After a couple of years, the girls succeed to escape, together with another prisoner, helped by that one’s brother, then they meet the janissary brother and decide to join the rebels in the Greek mountains, fighting against the Turks. The other girl is killed in a fight and the two girls’ brother is accused by the rebel leader that he was guilty of her death, by his mistake in fighting, so they have to leave. They get aboard a ship bound for Africa, where the crew gets through several adventures, and upon return, they settle in Brăila, on the Danube.

I have other plans too, but that’s for 2019. First, the priorities…

Marina’s books are only in Romanian at this time but I am sure that like me you look forward to their English versions being released in the near future.

Connect to Marina.

WordPress blog in English and Romanian:


Music by Modern Talking:

My thanks to Marina and I am sure she would be delighted to answer any of your questions.

If you would like to be interviewed on the Open House on Sunday then it is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your work, blog and also to make new connections. Full details are in this post.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview with author Frank Parker

Welcome to the Open House Sunday Interview, and my guest this week is author Frank Parker. Frank will be sharing something of his childhood, special guest for dinner, a delicious sounding lamb roast and some delightful music from Jazz singer Clare Teal.

About Frank Parker

I’m Frank Parker and I am a writer. I didn’t used to be. Like many people I always wanted to be. On several occasions during my career as an Engineer I produced stories that I submitted to publishers. I even had a writing job once. It involved talking to small and medium sized businesses and writing up profiles for a regional business magazine. To make any money you had to sell advertising to accompany the articles. Selling is not a skill that comes naturally to me so that job did not last long.

I returned to Engineering, working on chemical plants, refineries and power stations throughout the North and Midlands of England. In 1997 I joined a defence contractor as a project administrator, a job that saw me through until retirement in the autumn of 2006. I came to live in the Irish Midlands so as to be near my son and his family. And, now at last, I have the freedom to write.


So far I’ve self-published 4 novels and two collections of short stories. You can find out more about them here. My stories have also appeared in anthologies published independently in County Laois.


I have also pursued a lifelong interest in politics. Between 1985 and 1991 I served as a councilor in North East Lincolnshire. So you should not be surprised to find posts on my blog commenting on current affairs from a broadly Liberal point of view. The environment and the damage we are doing to it, from agri-chemicals and air and water pollution to climate change, has always been a matter of concern to me. As a councilor I argued the case for the local authority to purchase timber products only from sustainable sources.


Since 2013 I have been studying Irish history in an attempt to gain a fuller understanding of the turbulent relationship between that country and its near neighbour. It began when I discovered that among the leaders of the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century were a number of individuals with a prior connection to the county in which I was born and grew up, Herefordshire. That discovery lies behind my historical novel Strongbow’s Wife which describes the invasion and its aftermath from the point of the view of the woman who married one of the most powerful of those leaders. You will find articles about some of the people and places involved by clicking the Hereford and Ireland History tab above.

For the past year I have been researching the background to the period in Irish history usually referred to as The Great Irish Famine. This work was prompted by a friend and together we hope to produce a book on the subject.

We will find out more about Frank’s books after he has been in the hot seat and answered his chosen questions.

Welcome to the open house Frank and can you tell us where were you born and something about  your childhood memories.

I was born in Hereford. My parents were Londoners; Dad was serving with the RAF and Mum worked in Air Raid Precautions as well as being a tailor working for Simpsons of Picadily in their Stoke Newington factory. In the summer of 1941 she was expecting me so she and her widowed Mum were evacuated. She chose Herefordshire because a decade before she had holidayed there. After a year of living in various shared houses, in the spring of 1942 they found a stone built cottage to let high in the hills above the Golden Valley in the west of the county. It was to become our home for the next 14 years.

A stream ran behind the cottage with a couple of steep waterfalls in a deep ravine. Five small meadows and an orchard surrounded it. The owner used these to graze cattle through the autumn and into spring – in bad weather the animals were housed in a stone built block, the gable end of which faced the cottage across a cobbled yard. In late spring the cattle would be taken to market and the grass left to grow to be harvested for hay in July. This was a traditional rich mixture of grass and wild flowers and provided the winter feed for the cattle. It was stored in a ‘Dutch Barn’ – a steel structure with a curved corrugated steel roof – beyond the cattle sheds.

For me, growing up this set up appeared idyllic. Dad was killed in action shortly after my second birthday and, two and a half years later, Mum gave birth to a baby girl. I suspect that her arrival was one of several factors that stymied Mum’s chances of returning to London after the war. But for me and my sister, having the run of five acres of meadows, a stream and the gable end of the cattle shed to bounce balls from, was close to paradise. The cottage and its surroundings are the setting for my novel Summer Day.

I came to realise much too late that for my mother it was a lonely and isolated existence, especially after her mother died in February 1948.

In 1952, having passed the 11+ examination, I was sent away to a boarding school in Surrey. By the time I completed my education six years later, Mum had taken up with a local man, had two more daughters and set up home in an old house they bought in the village. A lot of hard work went into modernising and adapting that house and I was a, sometimes reluctant, labourer on many DIY projects whilst working as an apprentice in an Engineering business in Hereford.

Both the cottage and the house had large gardens where we grew most of our own fruit and vegetables. As a consequence I acquired a life long love of gardening.

Which author would you have to dinner, why and what questions would you ask them?

I would love to have the late Herbert George Wells as a dinner guest. I had already read several of his science fiction works by the time The History of Mr Polly was chosen as one of the set books for the Cambridge GCE ‘O’ level English Literature examination in 1958. I loved that book and could readily identify with the young man and his life as an apprentice to a trade he had no interest in, his loveless marriage and his escape to a very different life which, nevertheless, does not fully live up to his expectations.

But Wells was much more than a novelist; he was a Socialist and advocate of social reform and the creation of a progressive world government, all ideas that I have espoused myself.

I would love to know what he makes of the real social, political and technological advances of the seven decades since his death. What, for example, does he make of the United Nations as a forum for addressing the world’s problems? How would he rate various United States presidents or British prime ministers? How would he view recent incarnations of the British Labour Party: Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ or Jeremy Corbyn’s attachment to left of centre policies?

Would he be disappointed by the failure to close the gap between rich and poor, exhilarated by the advent of ‘smart’ technology and instant international communication, dismayed by the continuing ignorance of large sectors of the population?

In truth it would take many more than one dinner engagement to explore the mind of this great man of letters, a true polymath who thought deeply about science, politics, economics and philosophy, and wrote prolifically about them all.

What kind of music do you listen to and who are your favourite musicians?

I do not have a record collection. I listen to whatever happens to be on the radio – and mostly that means my local commercial radio station here in the Irish Midlands and an elelctic mixture of old and new popular music. I love live music, too, and I don’t mind if the artiste is a well established celebrity performer, a young person just starting out, or an established amateur performer. My taste ranges across all the genres that have been popular at various times during the last 60 years: folk, rock, blues, country, soul . . . It also embraces all of the many singer/song writers who have found fame and fortune over the same period.

But my first and continuing love is for jazz. The first live concert I ever attended was in the summer of 1957 at what was then the Gaumont State Theatre in Kilburn. The concert party was a group styled ‘Jazz at the Philharmonic’ and featured Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton and Oscar Peterson, among others. Ella Fiztgerald topped the bill and took about a dozen curtain calls. This was at the start of Fitzgerald’s move away from Be-Bop into swing and the standards of the Great American Songbook. The first of a series of albums she produced with Norman Granz (who also manged the JATP tours) at his Verve records, this one featuring the songs of Cole Porter, was released the previous year.

As for a favourite piece of music – I guess anything from that era would do or you could play something by one of the greatest modern re-interpreters of the music, Clare Teal. I first saw her perform at a small venue in East Yorkshire about 15 years ago – around the time she was ‘discovered’ by Michael Parkinson, whose Sunday evening radio show she eventually took over. Here is Clare Teal with ‘Chasing Cars’ live at the Lichfield Festival in 2014. You can find her music: Clare Teal Amazon

If you cook do you have a signature dish that everyone loves to eat? Can we have the recipe?

I love to cook. I do most of the cooking in our house; not, however, the baking. Cakes and pastries are Mrs P’s department and she excels. I like cooking spicy casseroles and Indian style dishes. Here’s my recipe for a spicy lamb roast.

  • Take a small to medium sized joint of lamb, leg or shoulder will do.
  • Make a spice mix – use your own favourites and vary the quantity to suit your taste and that of your guests. I use cumin and coriander for the base, preferably whole seeds, a tea spoon of each, heated gently in a frying pan to bring out the aromas, then crushed in a pestle and mortar along with 3 or 4 cloves and a piece of cinnamon. Add oil – I use rape seed oil, but olive oil is good too – to make a paste.
  • Pierce the surface of the joint in several places and push in slivers of garlic and rosemary leaves then massage the paste into the surface and leave to stand for about an hour.
  • Meanwhile peel and chop a couple of medium onions – again, the quantity can be varied to suit your taste – peel and grate a two inch piece of ginger and chop a small red or green chilly. Once again adjust this or leave out altogether if you don’t like too much heat.
  • Sweat the onion with a little oil for ten minutes in the base of a large pan, add the ginger and chopped chilly. Now place the marinaded joint into the pan and cover with stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about two hours until the meat is starting to fall off the joint. Lift the joint and cover with foil whilst you strain and thicken the pan liquor to make a sauce.
  • Slice the joint and serve with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables.

Tell us about your work in progress.

My current work in progress is a historical novel based on the two and a half years that Captain (later Sir) Arthur Kennedy spent as Poor Law Inspector in the town and district of Kilrush in County Clare during the famine.He came to despise the actions of some of the land owners in the area who were evicting large numbers of their tenants, thereby increasing their dependence upon the relief provided by the poor law, whilst at the same time controlling the amount of money available for relief, by their refusal to pay sufficient taxes.

Books by Frank Parker

The latest book by Frank Parker released on November 17th 2017.

About the book

A layman’s guide to the worst man made disaster to afflict Great Britain, it’s causes and lessons for the future.

Whilst the British elites were celebrating the achievements of Empire, a million people died from lack of food and housing elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Is it possible for humanity to achieve the Liberal ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number or are Malthus’s predictions about the relationship between population and food production about to come true?

A recent review for the book

This is a deeply researched and well-written book. I was expecting it to focus almost entirely on the famine years. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it covers much broader topics which help to put the famine into historical, political, social, economic and religious perspective. Indeed, a full eight chapters are devoted to “setting the scene”. There’s even a fascinating chapter on nutrition and mental development.

The actual famine is broken down into four chapters as the crisis begins, develops, peaks and then wanes. At the end is an interesting summary giving the author’s personal view on the disaster, and on the continuing presence of famine in the world today.

A Purgatory of Misery is worthy of attention for anyone interested in European history. It gives a broad sweep of history, from way before the famine up to and then beyond those famine years. And it presents what seems to me to be a well-balanced account that does not take sides or inappropriately point the finger of blame.

A full review including an interview with the author is on

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon US:

Read more reviews and follow Frank on Goodreads:

Connect to Frank


My thanks to Frank for sharing his memories and music with us and I know he would love to receive your feedback. Thank you for dropping by.. Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Author – Non-Fiction – Memoirs – D.G. Kaye

This week my lovely friend Debby, D.G. Kaye is taking over the hot seat and will sharing the background to why she rights non-fiction and memoirs, her publishing adventures, favourite music and the one big adventure she would like to experience.

d-g-kayeDebby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Time to find out more about Debby’s chosen subjects.

Thanks for having me over here today Sal. It’s always a pleasure to be featured on your esteemed blog.

Tell us about your genre of books that you write and why.

I’ve always been a ‘tell it the way it is’ kind of girl. In fact, I’m pretty sure I should have been a reporter. I’m a nonfiction/memoir writer and no matter how hard I try to get around that by dabbling into the odd fiction writing piece, it always seemed I was writing on factual incidents, so I decided why bother packing it as fiction, why not just own up to it and tell the truth. All my stories have lessons in them that others can take from them. And when a story isn’t about a serious topic, I’ll always try to inject humor whenever I can. Why? Because sometimes we all just need to look for the funny.

What adventures have you had publishing your work?

Seriously? I could write another book with my adventures and mishaps of self-publishing, but I’ll share a few here.

Before I began writing my first book, I spent a year trying to learn the business of publishing. I signed up for many newsletters from some of the pioneers in the biz to learn the essentials about how editors worked, what formatting entailed, the importance of good, professional book covers, and marketing. I was overwhelmed to say the least but my passion to write books was stronger than my fear of the publishing process. Through the course of writing and publishing 6 books, I learned a lot about what makes a good book cover, a painful lesson on hiring the wrong editor, what a properly formatted book entails (without learning the actual process of formatting myself, but I give good directives, lol), and the importance of sharing, caring and giving back where I can.

I am humble. And I never forget how intimidating it was for me to publish my first book and the people who reached out to give me great advice and a helping hand when I was eager to learn and grateful for any help anyone could offer me. That help came in ways of suggestions for editors, formatters, cover artists, promotional opportunities and friendships I slowly made along the way with other writers who had generously given of their time to help me solve many dilemmas along the way.

What kind of music do you listen to and who are your favourite musicians?

I enjoy quite a few genres of music, depending on my mood. It’s funny, there was a time in my life where music was always on wherever I went – home or otherwise, until the writing bug set in and I can’t concentrate with any distractions including music. But when I do listen I love 70s music the most. Oh, I enjoy pop music from all decades, but something about the music of some of the great musicians from that decade just make me want to sing – The Eagles, America, The Guess Who, ELO, Earth Wind and Fire, well you get my drift.

But I also happen to love R & B, and preferably tunes from the 80s and 90s in that genre. And these last few years I’ve also become a big Country and Western fan. I think that grew along with my love for the Southwest USA – Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Vince Gill, Tim McGraw and many more.

What is the one big adventure that you would like to experience?

I would love to participate in some writing conferences, author get-togethers, The Blogger’s Bash, and a girl’s holiday on a cruise-ship vacation one day! Writing can be a solitary life and I know that I’m so grateful to have many wonderful friends I’ve made through my writing and blogging and many of you live in different countries – predominantly the US and the UK. I really feel it’s time to meet some of my far away friends in real time. I shall see what this new year brings. These are bucket list wishes. 😊

Tell us about your WIP, plans for your blog and any special events coming up.

I wrote a post in January, outlining my plans for what I intend to share on my blog this year.

They are as follows:

• Sunday Book Reviews
• Guest Author Interviews (one scheduled for January, more to resume come April)
• Inspirational Posts
• Informational Share Posts
• Opinionated Posts
• Monthly #WATWB Contribution Posts (We are the World Blogfest)
• More Guest Post Features

These are my plans so far. As we all know, plans can change, but intentions are good, and plans help us be accountable. I’m also hoping to get involved in some Podcasting to expand my authorly horizons. And I think it’s time to venture into some freelance writing to supplement income. As far as book writing goes, I’d like to take a year off publishing another book because it eats up a good few months of my time doing so, and I want to explore new marketing avenues and activities to engage my readers and followers. I say I won’t publish another book this year, but I don’t know if I believe myself, lol. Let’s just say I’ve started a new journal with some new book ideas. I think my next book will be geared more toward the self-help genre than memoir. And I really want to write a humorous book too, so this may be a combined effort. I have a rough outline of ideas only for a book on ‘The changes after the change’. Probably won’t be pretty, but hopefully, plenty of laughs.

Okay, I know my time is up here, but I just wanted to leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

“Life is not measured by the amount of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.” ~ Author Unknown

And I’d love to share one of my favorite songs here in a video clip because I love the artist, the melody and the message:

Thanks Debby for sharing your adventures in publishing which have resulted in some wonderful books, and also your plans for the future.

This is D.G. Kaye’s latest release in December 2017.

About Twenty Years: After “I Do”.

May/December memoirs.

In this personal accounting, D.G. Kaye shares the insights and wisdom she has accrued through twenty years of keeping her marriage strong and thriving despite the everyday changes and challenges of aging. Kaye reveals how a little creative planning, acceptance, and unconditional love can create a bond no obstacle will break. Kaye’s stories are informative, inspiring, and a testament to love eclipsing all when two people understand, respect, and honor their vows. She adds that a daily sprinkling of laughter is a staple in nourishing a healthy marriage.

Twenty years began with a promise. As Kaye recounts what transpired within that time, she shows that true love has no limits, even when one spouse ages ahead of the other.

Here is one of the recent reviews for the book

“Twenty Years After I Do” is a love story, all the more compelling because it is true. Kaye shines a light under the table, exposing those things many of us prefer to keep out of sight. For all of the unpleasant topics in the book, this is not a depressing journey. She doesn’t say that love concours all, but she shows us, through her own life, that it so often does. More accurately, she explains that love will help us face whatever outcome life gives us.

The author is one of the decreasing number of people who understand that marriage is “ti deathl do us part.” Staying together is not optional, it’s not a choice to be made. That choice was made with the speaking of the words, “I Do.” She shows us that love and humor are tools we can use to overcome obstacles we would have thought unsurmountable.

This is a good read. Reading it has made me feel like I’ve made a friend.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

Other books by D.G. Kaye


Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads:

Connect to Debby Gies

About me:
Twitter: (yes there’s a story)

Debby would be delighted to receive your feedback and any questions and I will be back on Wednesday to check out the comments. Thanks for dropping in.. Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Author Debra Purdy Kong

Today’s guest is author Debra Purdy Kong who will be sharing the background to why she writes mysteries, her publishing adventures, her viewing preferences and favourite quote. We will also find out more about her work at then end of the interview.

About Debra Purdy Kong

Years ago, when I was a criminology student, I spent many hours writing about criminal behaviour for term papers. By the time I received my diploma, I realized I’d rather write crime fiction than work for the Criminal Justice System, a decision I’ve never regretted.

While I learned the craft of writing, I worked as a secretary for accountants, professors, lawyers, and a host of other interesting people and businesses. Many experiences from those years worked their way into TAXED TO DEATH, my first mystery novel, which was followed up by FATAL ENCRYPTION.

When I left full time employment to raise my children, I used pockets of free time to develop short fiction while I kept working on novels. Needless to say, a number of my parenting experiences found their way into stories, essays, and anecdotes. When my children were older, I returned to a paying job and worked in retail for five years. From there, I ventured into security work, where I trained as a patrol and communications officer. Currently, I am devoting more time to fiction, as well as blogs and book reviews while holding a part-time job at Simon Fraser University.

My second series, featuring public transit security officer Casey Holland, begins with THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, a tale of the ramifications of family deceit. My work experience as a patrol and communications officer in the security business turned out to provided invaluable background information for Casey’s adventures. DEADLY ACCUSATIONS focuses on Casey’s working life with the murder of a colleague she didn’t like very much. BENEATH THE BLEAK NEW MOON is about street racing, a problem that arises in most cities all over North America. THE DEEP END is a story about youth at risk, and the many forms this takes. The story is based on my volunteer experience at a youth detention centre while I was studying criminology. My 5th Casey Holland mystery KNOCK KNOCK is a story about home invasions that have dangerous consequences for Casey.

A few years ago, I branched out to write novellas and created a brand new character named Evan Dunstan. Evan’s a campus security guard with a penchant for trouble and his debut appearance is in DEAD MAN FLOATING. The second installment A TOXIC CRAFT features his feisty grandmother Martha and her cronies who cause no end of trouble for Evan.

Now time for us to find out more about Debra from her selected interview questions.

Tell us about your chosen genre of books that you write and why?

My chosen genre is mysteries because it’s been my favorite reading choice since I was ten years old and first picked up a Nancy Drew mystery. I have fond memories of those books while growing up in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Surrey was mainly rural back in the 1960s, but had also begun to grow into an bedroom community. There were no libraries (except in our elementary school), but there was the dark green book mobile, a bus that literally drove into our neighborhood every three weeks. The highlight of my month was to climb those steps and enter new worlds filled with intrigue and adventure.

As a mystery reader, the appeal has always been to solve the crime and determine the killer’s identity. As a reader, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough as Nancy solved one piece of the puzzle after another. She was my hero. Clever, calm, resourceful, and she had friends she could depend on. During those days, I also really enjoyed writing book reports in school (I never was much good at a math and science). So, it seemed natural to eventually become a writer.

The fundamental question in the mystery genre is the same one that captured my imagination all those years ago. What happens next? It’s become a mantra in my life as a whole, but as I’ve developed my craft, I’ve added two more questions prior to writing any book. What if, and Why? Even as a child I found myself drawn to the question of wanting to know why someone made the decisions they did and behaved the way they did.

Needless to say, this probably explains why I took a lot of psychology and criminology courses in college. Today, I’m still asking myself why, not only in fiction, but as real-life world events unfold. Although I achieved a diploma in criminology and spent time volunteering in prisons and youth detention centres, as well as working one summer as an assistant to a probation officer, I never pursued those careers. They were simply too emotionally draining, but I never stopped exploring the study of crime and criminal behaviour. Maybe I never will.

What adventures have you had publishing your work?

Adventures in publishing began in the early 90’s when I signed with my first agent. She lived in Alberta, and had been in the business for some time. I was with her two years, and although she never sold my first mystery, Taxed to Death, she did invest a lot of time helping me realize that the book was far too long. Thanks to that agent, I slowly learned how to pare down a manuscript that was longer than it needed to be. She also gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever had, which was to read your competition. Her viewpoint was, how can you know what’s being published and what’s selling if you don’t read as much as you possibly can? I also realized that I could learn a lot while developing my own voice and style.

After I parted company with that agent two years later, a couple of life-changing events happened. One was that my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. The second was that I became pregnant with my second child at age 39. After two miscarriages, this was a huge blessing. Both experiences taught me that life is short and that dreams can come true, but you have to put in some effort and take a leap of faith sometimes. After shopping the book around, and having a couple of close calls, I decided to self-publish Taxed to Death in 1995.

It was a huge learning curve, but one of the most satisfying decisions I’ve ever made. I learned the business of selling and marketing books (all before social media took hold), and the value of hiring a professional editor and jacket designer

While I was raising our kids and working part-time, I wrote and self-published the second installment, Fatal Encryption. By then it was 2008 and things had changed. Ebooks were taking hold. Amazon began hosting forums to promote, and a writing colleague introduced me to the world of blogging. Learning to market books is still an ongoing learning curve as things change constantly.

While writing Fatal Encryption, I was working on a second series and shopping that one around to agents and traditional publishers. Again I landed an agent (American this time) and worked with her for another two years until we also parted company. After thirty submissions (about a dozen by the agent and the rest on my own), my first Casey Holland mystery was eventually picked up by a BC publisher, TouchWood Editions, who published the first four installments before deciding to downsize their mystery division. Happily, I got my rights back, including the rights to the cover art, and reissued the books in 2016. This year, I released the 5th book, Knock Knock. I finally feel that I’m back on track with the series.

By the way, the writer who encouraged me to start blogging (which I’m still doing ten years later) became a publisher and released my first two mystery novellas, Dead Man Floating and A Toxic Craft. Will I still pursue traditional publishing? I honestly don’t know. I’m working on an urban fantasy that I might shop around when it’s finished, but that’s a long ways off and, honestly, I’m still undecided. There are plenty of pros and cons to both publishing choices, so we’ll see.

Do you prefer television, film or theatre?

Television is far more appealing to me then film or theatre. While I do like theatre, it’s obviously more expensive than a daily dose of TV. In my opinion, film has steadily gone downhill over the last thirty years, as production companies continue to bash out remakes (really, how many King Kong movies do we need?) and Marvel Comic movies, with varying degrees of success. Sure, there are truly imaginative stories and beautiful productions also being made, but they seem far and far between.

I guess that the same could be said for TV. There’s plenty of shows I’m not a fan of, and I really don’t understand the appeal of “reality” TV, which to me are little more than elaborate game shows based on negative and strange relationships. Although I like singing competitions, it’s slowly become more of the same old thing.

What really draws me these days are TV dramas. Shows like True Detective (especially the first season), Strike Back, The Good Wife and now The Good Fight, Madam Secretary, the Blacklist, are examples of shows that are so well written and compelling that I really enjoy watching them.

Science fiction and fantasy are also raising the bar. Story lines and special effects technology have come a long way from the old Star Trek days. A number of new shows like Expanse, Killjoys and Dark Matter are really entertaining. Of course, I’ve been a fan of PBS mystery movies for a long time. The British productions are so well done. Stations like HBO are also raising the bar by way of a grittier, more provocative form of storytelling. The variety of cable shows and diversity of content make them far more intriguing to me than movies.

The thing is, not all of the new TV shows are successful and the quality of writing varies greatly, but then so do viewers’ tastes. TV writers are constantly striving to tell good stories and have been for a while.

One of my favorite series of all time was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was a truly original mix of horror, fantasy, and comedy, set in a teenage coming-of-age environment. The writing stepped out of the box in a way that I’d never seen before. Since then, cross-genre TV writing is more common, and that’s exciting both as a viewer and a writer out to explore new possibilities and opportunities.

Do you have a favourite quote? What does it means to you as an individual?

My favorite quote is “No snowflake ever fell in the wrong place”. It’s a Buddhist quote that I came across many years ago, I think in a book called The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. The quote is beautiful in its simplicity, and deeply profound.

To me, it means that everything happens for a reason and that even the smallest, quietest gesture has a specific purpose. The universe unfolds and each of our lives goes on quietly or dramatically, depending on circumstances. We’re all here to experience whatever we need to experience to learn, to share, and to connect to make things better than they were, despite everyday obstacles and frustrations. Even the flakes that sting our eyes or make our fingertips freeze are there for a reason.

On a personal level, it means that everyday things matter in my life. The simplest gesture I make could make a difference to someone else. The near-miss while driving is a lesson learned, an opportunity to do better. Events, obstacles, and decisions placed in front of me have a purpose that is sometimes huge. At other times, they are simply baby steps leading to somewhere else.

Even if those proverbial snowflakes keep falling in what feels like the wrong place, I see it as a message to either re-evaluate the situation, change my attitude, or make a necessary change for improvement. It’s not always easy. Like everyone else, I’m a work in progress, but I like to think that I’m moving in the right direction.

Tell us about your work in progress, plans for your blog in the next year any special events that are coming up that are very special to you.

In 2018, I’ll be focusing on two novels that are both really important to me. One is the six installment of my Casey Holland mystery series. This book has been in the works for six or seven years, but other commitments and projects needed to be completed first. Now, I’m finally giving time and attention to a story that’s been on the back burner for too long.

The second novel is working on the second draft of my first urban fantasy. As mentioned above, I really enjoy this genre, and wanted to explore the topic of Wicca, witches, and the battle between good and evil in a different way from the novels I’ve read. Second drafts are always arduous for me. They require work on pacing, setting, character development, and so forth. I’m over 200 pages into the second draft, and I’m not sure how it will turn out, but I’m sure enjoying the process.

About the novella Dead Man Floating book 1 in the Evan Dunstan Mystery series

One wrong decision

Security guard Evan Dunstan didn’t expect to find a body floating in a campus stream. An empty vodka bottle nearby suggests that the highly despised George Krenn, head of the plumbing department, had drunkenly fallen in. Refusing to let the death of a vile man ruin his romantic plans, Evan decides to leave the body for the next shift to find.

One friend in trouble

When it’s discovered that Krenn was murdered, Evan has a lot of explaining to do. So does his friend Sully, Krenn’s least favourite student. Evan uses his hacking skills and campus knowledge to keep them both out of jail, but the investigation forces him to question Sully’s innocence.

One mystery to solve…

Uncovering the truth proves to be more than challenging. It may cost Evan his job, his friendship, and his woman. Will Evan find the killer, or will the killer find him first?

One of the recent reviews for the book

In Deadman Floating, Debra Purdy Kong introduces us to her likeable protagonist, Evan Dunstan, who is butting heads with his superiors in his current role as campus security officer, while en route to his dream job in municipal policing. Interfering somewhat with Evan’s professionalism is his pursuit of a potential girlfriend, which is what causes him to fail to report his discovery of the body of a miserable and frequently inebriated campus maintenance worker. Obviously an unfortunate accident—or, maybe not!? In this fun, quick read, the first in the Evan Dunstan Mystery series, Purdy Kong tightly weaves a twisty plot that will hold the reader’s attention to the very end.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Also by Debra Purdy Kong

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Debra on Goodreads:

Connect to Debra


Thank you for dropping in today and I am sure that Debra would love to answer any of your questions. Your comments are always welcome. Thank you Sally

I am now booking the interview for the first week in April… If you would like to participate then please answer the questions in this post. You will find details of what I need if you have not been featured here before.

NB. Previous guests of the Sunday interview show in all its formats are more than welcome.. If you featured in the previous open house, then just answer different questions.

Look forward to hearing from you.