Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – Good intentions by Grandmas, Bird Watching and Halley’s Comet

Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun. Well I am anyway and I hope you are too… It has been a busy week offline with various projects and also taking advantage of the cold but sunny weather. It is hard to believe that it is January 20th already but it is great that the evenings are growing lighter by a few minutes each day.

My thanks as always to you for dropping in so often and keeping me motivated and here are some of the posts you might have missed..

This week Linda shares the delightful!! coat that her Grandmother managed to find at the charity shop for her..

Getting to know you – Sunday Interview with author Denzil Walton.

The first part of our trip from Houston to Carlsbad Caverns and to see Halley’s Comet on its once in a lifetime visit.

The title of this series came about as I dipped into a Thesaurus to find some words for a poem I was writing. I noticed that a great many words that reflected (see what I mean) key elements in our lives began with the letter ‘R’. In this first post quite a bit about what I think about RESPECT

Chapter one of the sequel to my first book written 20 years ago which followed my 18 month challenge to lose 150lbs. I am told at 42 that I am unlikely to make 45!

This week I look at the nutritional elements of Asparagus and Carol Taylor turns this very healthy vegetable into some delicious meals.

Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge.

I have chosen ‘Secret and Draw’ for my key words this week and I am also trying my hand at a Haibun… here is the link  where you will find a description of this form which is a combination of prose and poetry.


I have discovered the secret to eternal youth. I stand before the mirror. With eyes almost closed the image blurs. Wrinkles disappear. Hair regains its colour. The extra pounds fall away. I am tall and strong. A reflection of how I used to be. I draw the image towards me absorbing its essence.

Do not be deceived
Challenge the silver backed mirror
Remain young at heart.

New book on the shelves

Author Update -Reviews

Thanks for dropping by and hope to see you again next week… Sally.


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

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

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

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

Time to find out which of the questions Denzil has selected

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

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

Describe your worst online experience?

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

What is your favourite childhood song and why?

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

Do you prefer cats, dogs, or neither?

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

What is your favourite music genre and why?

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

Encourage a Child to Watch Birds

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

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

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

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

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

One of the early reviews for the book

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

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon US:

Read more reviews and follow Denzil on Goodreads:

Other books in the series available on Smashwords

Connect to Denzil Walton.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other 50% were referrals from individual bloggers.

This confirms a few things to me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New on the shelves this week.

Author update with recent reviews

The Gentle Detox

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

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

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



Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with author Frank Prem #Australia

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

Hello Sally, and readers.

I’ve been a storytelling poet for about forty years. Longer in fact, as I remember the first poem I wrote while at secondary school was about 150 – 200 words long and was accepted in lieu of a 500 word essay. I think that may have been the start.

I love to read my work to a live audience, and have audio recorded some recent recordings and popped them on my author page. I have also done some studio- recorded work under the direction and accompaniment of my wife Leanne Murphy that can be listened to there. These poems are on mythological themes and the accompaniment by Leanne makes them a little bit extraordinary.

By profession, I am a psychiatric nurse and have worked across most facets of public psychiatry and the mental health/mental illness spectrum. My experiences and reflections on what I have seen and done are the subject of a forthcoming memoir – scheduled for late 2019, or perhaps more likely, 2020.

I’ve been published in magazines, zines and anthologies, in Australia and in a number of other countries, but for a long time I haven’t sought much publication. The whims of editors are a little too capricious and unknowable, so I have preferred to hone my craft and self-publish on my poetry blogs

Leanne and I reside in the beautiful township of Beechworth in the North-East of Victoria (Australia).

We will find out more about Frank’s new release a little later in the post… but first let’s find out which of the questions he has responded to.

What do you consider to be the best dish that you prepare – and have you the recipe?

I’m not really much of a cook, and what I do tends to be done in the oven – baked potatoes, spare rib casserole with a lot of produce from the garden in the marinade (savory tomato sauce from our own tomatoes, when possible). It always comes out well, and we do a lot of leftovers.

Probably my best dish, though, is a no knead bread recipe that I’ve adapted for my own use.

This recipe has travelled around a bit, but I think it originated with the New York Times Cooking Department and made famous in a video that is still the primo reference, I believe.

I had started out thinking that I might like to learn how to make bread when I retired from work, and I had sourdough in mind as the thing to do. I reminded myself, though of a couple of things:

  1.  I have always felt a little sad to see folk (aspiring writers in particular) who have left a passion to be attended to after they finish their working life, only to find that they need years to develop the most basic skills they will need. For instance, wanting to write, and knowing you have a story to tell is not enough to make you a writer or a storyteller. It takes practice and craft development.
  2.  I am fundamentally lazy, and the babysitting of sourdough yeast, and the need to get my hands mucky with dough were very unappealing prospects.

I could hardly believe the recipe for no knead bread when I came across it. Basically it is as follows:

• 1/8th of a teaspoon of dry yeast
• 13oz of cold water
• 1 teaspoon of salt
• 430-450gm of flour.

Check for an actual published recipe online (there are many variations), but that’s the basics.


The ingredients are popped into your preferred cauldron and stirred – muttering a spell of binding is optional – and mixed without ever getting hands into the dough, on a good day, into the oven and there’s your loaf.

I use more yeast these days to get the rise I want in 2 hours, and add a considerable quantity of dried fruit (figs, apricots, cranberries, dates) and also nuts and seeds to make it a fruit and nut loaf for breakfast toast.


What is your favourite holiday and why?

My favourite holiday was Leanne and my honeymoon when we spent a week in tropical North Queensland (Cairns, The Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest). Part of the time was on a Reef cruise and part in the rainforest.

It was a wonderful time, with the chance to see the colourful coral, listen to the parrotfish eating the coral, and check out islands and atolls. Not forgetting the turtles!

That was on the cruise. On land we had Cassowaries outside our hut, gecko’s inside it and crocodiles sunning themselves on the river not very far away.

Whenever the subject of holidays arises, both of us think back to that holiday as our benchmark for what a holiday means.

Sally here:  It is an amazing spectacle and I can understand why this holiday was so special.

Do you prefer the big city or country life?

I grew up in the country, in the little town of Beechworth, until the age of around 22 years. I then spent around 20 years living in a beachside suburb in Melbourne.

I’ve been back in Beechworth for around a dozen years or so, now, and I like it. I believe I will see out my time in this spot just below the Victorian Alps. I find I get nervous in the city. It is all agitation and bustle. It is only out of the city that I feel I can properly be myself.

Sally here: It looks like a fabulous place to live and I found this short film about the town.

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

I grew thinking I should be a rock star. Screeching songs in my bedroom. The more tortured, the better. My only problem was that I couldn’t play an instrument, and I sounded like rubbish.

As a young fellow, my parents acquired a guitar for me that stood, as I recall, taller than me. Mum and dad took me along to a renowned local teacher, who must have been in his late seventies at the time and I had a lesson. One dreadful lesson.

Less than a week later the man had passed away. I always assumed the two events – my lesson and his passing – were related, and that was grounds to never go near an instrument again.

That has changed now. My wife Leanne is a talented music teacher and singer/songwriter among her other talents and gifts and she has worked magic enough to allow me to play the ukulele well enough to sing to, either as my own accompaniment or as part of a singing group.

So yes, I have sung in public, both unaccompanied and in a group. As proof, I offer a Facebook upload of the 2018 Spring Sing Choral group performing to friends and family at out break-up in November 2018. The song is an original composition by Leanne and myself and the group had a lovely time performing it.

How many different languages can you speak and what are they?

My family were of Croatian origin, and I grew up with Croatian as my first language until I went to school. I was actually quite embarrassed by having to use the language in any way or place that might be overheard by others. The embarrassment of a child who felt different enough already, as the son of immigrants, I suppose.

I don’t claim proficiency in that tongue, at all, but occasionally I have used the language, or some of its words in my poetry, to illustrate a point or to attempt to write in another language.

I recommend it as an exercise to anyone who has a second language, but caution that the need to think and to express yourself in another language presents some serious poetic challenges.

My thanks to Frank for sharing something about his life in Beechworth, the stunning Barrier Reef and his passions. One of those is obviously writing and here is his recent release.

About Small Town Kid

Small Town Kid is the experience of regional life as a child, in an insular town during the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, remote from the more worldly places where life really happens, in a time before the internet and the online existence of social media.

It is a time when a small town boy can walk a mile to school and back every day, and hunt rabbits with his dog in the hours of freedom before sundown. He can hoard crackers for bonfire night and blow up the deputy school master’s mailbox in an act of joyous rebellion.

A time when a small town teenager will ride fourteen miles on a bicycle for his first experience of girls, and of love. A time when migrating from a foreign country to a small town means his family will always feel that they are strangers, while visitors to the town are treated like an invading host.

It is also the remembrance of tragedy for inexperienced friends driving on narrow country roads.

This collection of poems and stories shares the type of childhood that has mostly disappeared in contemporary times. Come and revisit it here, in the pages of a Small Town Kid.

One of the early reviews for the book

From the dedication poem, “I Can Hardly Wait to Show You”, to “Circular Square Town”, Frank Prem’s chronological journey from infancy to the present has a familiar feel to it; almost as if you were take a walk through your own memory lane to recall the innumerable small, but unforgettable moments that make up a life. Frank’s style is minimalist, with plenty of room to fill in the blanks with your own conjecture or possible parallel memories. Written about an Australian town that was a gold-rush town in its day, it touches on those times as well as describes the landscapes there. Frank’s work is approachable, understandable, and sensitive in its handling of the most delicate of subjects.

My favorite poems, in a book of favorites – they’re all good! – are: “poppy cakes”, “frenki boy”, “the exuberance of my aunt”, “loss of faith”, “picnic story”, “the dawn of civilisation”, “the hallways of st. joseph’s”, “pumpkin rock terrorists”, “a tricky place (the annual fete)”, “fight”, “sweet maureen”, “libby’s puzzle”, “vale”, “palmer’s not”.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Connect to Frank

Website Audio:
Seventeen Syllable Poetry:

I am sure that you have enjoyed meeting Frank as much as I have and I know he would be delighted to hear from your.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Die Hard, Detox, Resolutions, Food, Music, Humour

Another quietish week for us after a very peaceful New Year’s Eve which we spent watching the final Die Hard movie of our binge session. Seeing them back to back over five days was great, and brought back memories of where we were in the years we saw them the first time around, starting in 1988. It is amazing how you remember the overall plot but forget detail. We are making a start on Mission Impossible and then The Bourne series next. Keep us out of trouble for a bit anyway.

Over the next few weeks there will be some new series beginning that I hope you will find interesting… in the meantime…here are the posts from the week in case you missed any.

A look back at 2018 and a thank you to the regular contributors who write such amazing posts for the blog. Also a look at what is to come in 2019.

Thomas the Rhymer

Paul Andruss gave us a New Year’s Gift of a four part story The Legend of the Golden Flower, set in ancient Japan and filled with wonderfully researched detail. You can read the complete story and also follow the link to a follow up post on the background to the tale.

I was delighted to welcome Annette Rochelle Aben to the team with the first of her monthly Numerology posts. The first looking at our universal energy for 2019 and the month of January.

Linda Bethea with more tales of her extended family – life in Houston has its ups and downs. The Pink Cupcake, the Hussy and the Promise..

The new season of the Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You.

Delighted to welcome new interviewees to the interview series, and if you have participated before.. no worries, just pick a different five questions to answer..

I want to share this post again for any authors who are new to the blog – The Cafe and Bookstore is a FREE promotional opportunity to showcase your work on a regular basis here on the blog and across my social media. 

The first step is a ‘New Book on the Shelves‘ promotion, followed by regular updates in the twice weekly posts. Any new releases will also have their own individual post.

I did a tongue-in-cheek look at New Year’s Resolutions… with some suggestions how you might get them achieved!!

Another trip down memory lane to 1995 – mechanical bull riding (or destruction) and Annie Lennox.

To get the New Year off to a good start (for your body anyway) I began a short series – The Gentle Detox.

I don’t approve of starving a body into submission, especially after a period of indulgence. I especially do not recommend ‘crash diets’ as this can cause a great deal of stress physically and mentally.  Here are the posts so far….

A series that is worth repeating for the benefit of those who missed the first time around – Cook from Scratch.

In this post I share an alternative breakfast that I ate several time a week in the 17 years I lived in Madrid… Spanish style tomato cocktail on toast..

I try my hand at a new format that Colleen Chesebro has introduced us to in the first of her Tuesday Poetry challenge No. 117 – Poets choice.   A Shadorma… if you have not participated in this challenge, I do recommend as it stretches both our poetic muscles and your creativity.

The first of the Cafe updates for 2019 – a place to share recent reviews and new releases.

D.G. Kaye.. Debby Gies shares some of the funnies from around the web… and I find a joke from my archives.

Thank you for starting the New Year with me and I hope that you have enjoyed the show so far. Look forward to seeing you again soon.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Jean Lee

Delighted to welcome author of Young Adult Fantasy, Jean Lee to Getting to Know You. Jean Lee also blogs from her Website. You will find posts on the writing process and character development and Author Interviews: Shehanne Moore

Before we find out which of the questions that Jean has chosen to answer.. here is the official word….

About Jean Lee

Jean Lee is a Wisconsin born and bred writer excited to share her Young Adult Fantasy fiction with those who love to find other worlds hidden in the humdrum that surrounds us. Her first novel, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, has recently been released by Aionios Books. Stories from her short fiction collection, Tales of the River Vine, have also been published at varying intervals in 2018.

Stories are the fire that warms the soul. They melt fear, ignite hope, and spark relationships like nothing else. I’m honored you seated yourself here by my hearth to enjoy my fiction’s light. Please feel free to visit often, for there are many treasures bizarre and fantastic in my imagination waiting to speak with tongues of flame. Then we can talk about the writers that refuel us, as I do on my site

Welcome to Smorgasbord Jean and to start us off today can how would you describe your fashion sense?

I can sum it up with this question: “What’s at the thrift store today?”

See, I grew up on hand-me-downs and church clothes sewn by my grandmother, so spending more than ten dollars on any item irks my Midwestern Frugality. In the early years of motherhood, it made no sense to spend more than a few dollars on clothes bound to be burped or shat on. Even today, I try to only purchase items on super super clearance, while taking care to only buy new when all the kids can use it, or I can get several years out of it. So my closet ends up being a hodge podge of oddball tshirts, quirky blouses, ill-fitting skirts, and jeans. I am who I am, and I see no need to fit in with trends or styles. So long as I’m comfy, I’m good.

What is your favourite holiday and why?

Christmas Eve. Yes, I specify Eve.

My parents both worked in the ministry all my young life, so December was the most intense month of the year. Constant meetings, rehearsals, practices, concerts—it all kept building up and up and up until at long last it was Christmas Eve, a loooooong day of church services and caroling, but after THAT—at last! Despite the late hour, my family would sit together around the Christmas tree, share presents and snacks, and be together in a season that always pulled everyone a thousand different directions. We’d all stay up past midnight despite the demands of services Christmas morning, but that didn’t matter—we were together around the tree with carols and candles soft in the background.

Then came Christmas Day.

Sure, the morning service was nice and boisterously joyful, but then we had to go to my aunt’s house. Kind as my aunt was, she had no toys of any kind, and no, we weren’t allowed to bring our own because that’d be seen as “rude.” Plus she always made ham, and I hate ham.

I still get a heavy “meh” attitude the minute Christmas Day services end. Hmm, maybe I should just bring some toys to play with at the in-laws’ this year…

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

This is going to sound silly, but a librarian.

You’d think that teaching writing should be right up my street, but here’s the thing: remedial composition focuses on basic paragraph structures. For my students, writing anything coherent for more than a few sentences is a challenge. Now I don’t mind helping many students face this challenge; many are just trying to dust the cobwebs off of knowledge they learned 10-30 years ago, while others are in military service and are trying to get a head start on school during their service. I applaud those determined to write a new chapter to their lives after serving time in incarceration. I want to help.

But then there are the students who expect the A just for showing up, who want to follow the guidelines “their way,” refuse to heed any feedback, and then chew you out for daring to give them a “bad grade.”

These are the students that make me look at the librarian desk, and sigh wistfully.

These are the people who can help design reading programs for various age groups, organize activities to bring the community together. They are the gatekeepers between children and countless worlds of imagination and learning. They get to share their passion for books with other people for a living.

That is just. Plain. Cool.

Are you a morning person or a night person?

In the halcyon days of yore, I’d have said a night person. I wouldn’t start homework until 11pm. I’d do a pie run with friends at a local diner at 2:30am. Wake up, feel fantastic. 

Then came motherhood. Aaaaall ’s turned me into a morning person.

When I was a kid, I never understood why my mom would get up at least an hour earlier than the rest of us to just eat cereal and watch the news.

Now I toooootally get it.

Having a little peace in the house before the chaos of kids makes such a difference to my sanity. Mom must have felt the same way before going off to teach a couple dozen youths for several hours at a day. Cereal and news for her, coffee and blogs for me—it’s that peaceful moment of just, waking up to learn something new while giving the body the taste of smooth comfort. I love that.

So that’s why if a child wakes up mere minutes after me and insists on staying awake, I am a guaranteed crank ALL DAY.

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

I studied piano for fourteen years, violin for five, clarinet for eight.

Being a preacher’s kid means finding some way to glorify God, and music is often that way. I began lessons at the mature age of four, and began participating in recitals shortly thereafter.

Playing for church, for chapel, for the classroom—it was all just a part of my godly duties.
I suppose I sound a bit jaded wording it that way. Honestly, I’m not. It takes a steady nerve to not only perform before hundreds of people, but a quick wit, too: when the pastor skips a verse; when communion takes FOREVER so you better find something else to play, when the choir repeats a page that wasn’t supposed to be repeated and you have to cut the interlude short and jump back three pages—you have to be ready for those moments, and you sure as hell better adapt or God’s service is going to suck.

I’d also like to think that studying music all this time helped me better appreciate what music helps inspire my storytelling. When you study music, you’re studying another medium of storytelling: the voices (instruments), the dialogue (harmonies), the pacing (rhythm), the tension (volume). It’s all there, and it all speaks to you, if you’re willing to truly listen.

Books by Jean Lee

About Book 1 of the omnibus, Fallen Princeborn: Stolen

Over the Wall, they came to hunt humans. But now, a human’s going to hunt them. This girl’s nobody’s prey.

In rural Wisconsin, an old stone wall is all that separates the world of magic from the world of man—a wall that keeps the shapeshifters inside. When something gets out, people disappear. Completely.

Escaping from an abusive uncle, eighteen-year-old Charlotte is running away with her younger sister Anna. Together they board a bus. Little do they know that they’re bound for River Vine—a shrouded hinterland where dark magic devours and ancient shapeshifters feed, and where the seed of love sets root among the ashes of the dying.

Fallen Princeborn: Stolen is the first in a series of young-adult dark-fantasy novels by Jean Lee. Watch for book 2 in Spring 2019

One of the early reviews for the book

Charlotte will rescue her sister, Anna, and nothing will stop her. Not abusive uncles. Not crazy bus drivers. Not wolves that might be humans. Not ravens that might be murderers. Not trees that might be vampires. But when Charlotte fails to save her sister, when she is taken from existence herself, she must cross the only thing keeping our world safe from changeling danger: The Wall. From Wisconsin to… someplace else, where all of creation is a predator seeking her heart, where her sister lies… somewhere.

Fallen Princeborn: Stolen is the first in a series of YA dark fantasy novels by Jean Lee, and it starts with menace. Charlotte reminds me in all the best ways of Miriam Black, the broken protagonist of Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds. The opening scenes on a bus and immediately following drip with weird danger that caught my attention and didn’t let up.

I love how Lee took what could have been a fairly standard “Fae” race and made it her own. I’m stunned with the originality; she balanced “familiar” and “different” perfectly. You might guess where she’s going as the supernatural shenanigans begin, but you’d probably be wrong.

Her characters pop as well. Arlen, the noble protector, has that perfect balance of being a welcoming presence and yet holding back something dangerous within himself. Poppy has this manic crazy feel, as of Harley Quinn slipped into a fae story.

However, some of the characters are… too much in character for me. I found myself wanting to strangle Charlotte, our protagonist, more than once. She has a chip on her shoulder that keeps her from trusting anyone (which does become a major plot point), but that refusal got to be a bit tedious after a while. However, we really get inside Charlotte’s head – the chip on her shoulder is perfectly in character, and we know why she does what she does every time. Her self-talk creates an endearing character, even through the annoying tendencies to punch people. It reminded me of my love and frustration with Katniss in Hunger Games, actually.

If you’re looking for a good, complete story, you’ll find it here… kind of. The ending felt to me more like the pilot of a TV show: Setting up all the various plots that will be followed for the rest of the season. They do entice, but it didn’t feel like the first volume in a book series to me. So yes, it definitely tells a complete story, but it also very directly leaves a lot of threads unaddressed.

That said, the book isn’t short. You won’t be walking away unsated; it is a big chunk of good writing that will keep you entertained and rooting for the protagonist. You will know Charlotte and her new companions well before the end of the novel.

Overall, despite my criticisms, this is a solid novel and well worth your time. The originality of the world shines, and the menace is palpable, particularly in the opening and closing chapters. Check it out.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Here is a selection of the six short story collections from Tales of the River Vine also published this year.

Read the reviews and buy all the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Jean Lee’s books are also available from Aionios books

You can find more reviews and follow Jean Lee on Goodreads:

Jean Lee’s serialised fantasy, Middler’s Pride, is now available on  Channillo with bonus character sketches on Wattpad.

About Middler’s Pride

After a humiliating dinner with a suitor, Meredydd sees only a dull life ahead, destined to crush her heroic spirit–that is, until she’s accepted into the Shield Maidens. Surely nothing but glory and adventure await, right? And they do…if Mer can first overcome the most dangerous enemy of all: herself.

Jean hopes to publish a serialized form of the second book, Beauty’s Price, sometime next year.

Connect to Jean on Social Media.


Thank you for spending time with us today and I know that Jean would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know author Jaye Marie

Delighted to welcome author Jaye Marie to the Sunday Interview.. Jaye lives with her sister-in-law, author Anita Dawes and they team up and spend time and effort in sharing our posts on social media.

Before we find out which of the questions Jaye has chosen to answer.. here is a little more about her.

Most people may know me as one-half of the writing partnership, Anita & Jaye Dawes, and I have come to writing quite late in life. I always used to think I didn’t have an ambitious bone in my body, content to potter about with my many craft hobbies. Always preferring to be in the background and invisible if at all possible.

And for the last ten years since my retirement, that’s what my life has been like. I love books and have read my way through stacks of them, so when my sister-in-law Anita needed someone to edit and type up her manuscripts, I was happy to help and that’s when I discovered my vocation.

Then one day everyone was talking about “Indie” or self-publishing. Now, I knew only too well how hard it was to be published the traditional way, so I became very excited at the prospect of being able to do it ourselves.

At first, I concentrated on publishing Anita’s books. It wasn’t quite as easy as they made it sound, but with my usual stubbornness I kept at it, learning more and more as I went along, and somewhere along the way I starting thinking about a story that had been nibbling away in the corner of my mind for months.

I tried to ignore it, but before too long, The Ninth Life demanded to be written and turned out to be a Mystery/Thriller. I am reasonably pleased with the outcome, basically to be honest, because my characters took charge and practically wrote it for me! They had quite a say with the sequel too, and I am proud of our achievements!

I also enjoy running a website/blog and all the wonderful people I continue to meet from all around the world. I learn something new every single day and it is much appreciated.

More about Jaye’s books a little later… but first time to get to know her better.

Welcome Jaye and perhaps we could start by finding out what you consider to be your favourite Book

As a child, I was a prolific reader. I would read anything, including several things I shouldn’t have. When I was in the hospital with appendicitis, I read every book in the ward.
The one book that still haunts me, is an illustrated copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
The story enthralled me, but it was the beautiful illustrations that filled my dreams. They brought the story to life so well, that the nightmares in Jane Eyre’s life quickly haunted my dreams too. I have tried to find another copy of this book, as the drawings were exquisite, but so far I haven’t managed to track one down. There were so many illustrated versions, so surely the one I remember so well must be out there somewhere?

Sally here:  I found this one on Amazon Jaye..I loved the cover… link is attached…

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

I grew up listening to tales of my father playing the piano. How he would come home on leave from the army, and still in uniform and huge army boots, he would pound out all the popular tunes of the day.

By all accounts, I was supposed to be the image of my dad, tall and cheeky, and always optimistic. So in the beginning, I assumed I would be able to play the piano too. But despite countless lessons from some of the best teachers, I just couldn’t do it. I could pick out a tune with one hand, but that wasn’t enough for me.

I wanted to play like the classical pianists. All those powerful pieces that had always stirred my heart, and had my blood racing, but it wasn’t to be. The desire has never left me though…

Sally here: sorry that didn’t work out for you Jaye, but to cheer you up here is that incredible pianist and humourist… Victor Borge.

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

When I was a child I wanted to be many things when I grew up. I hovered between being a film star, a doctor or a hairdresser. I honestly thought I could be any of them, given a following wind and a liberal amount of determination.

It wasn’t until much later that I narrowed it down to the medical profession. Probably because I had exhausted most of the others. The desire to be a famous actress quickly faded when I realised I didn’t have any of the necessary qualifications, like good looks and a modicum of acting ability.

In my heart, I still want to be a doctor and I think I would have been a good one, just a shame that life got in the way!

What is something you look forward to when you retire?

I always imagined my retirement would be a time of peace and tranquillity, a welcome change from the chaos of my working life.

I would be living in a delightful cottage in the New Forest, surrounded by trees and wildlife.
My days would be spent tending my garden or making jam or other preserves. There would be plenty of time for reading, sewing or knitting. Maybe a little watercolour painting.

But I don’t have the cottage in the forest and my days are busy with writing and blogging a completely different retirement from the one I planned.

We have had to make the best out of what life has given us, even though it was difficult in the beginning.

The joke is on me; for I prefer the retirement I have now. The dream will have to wait for me…

Sally here: In the meantime Jaye… here is a cottage you can pin on the wall…

If you were granted three wishes what would they be?

This is the stuff that fairy stories are usually made of.

Without giving it too much thought, I would probably wish for a lovely house, enough money in the bank and be slim and healthy.

But are these wishes good enough?

I mean, it’s not every day you get given three wishes, is it?

With a bit more thought, I might ask for health, wealth and happiness for my friends and family, but these sound too flippant as though I hadn’t given the matter any thought at all.

I just asked Anita what she would choose, and straight away she said that good health was important, for without it nothing else would matter.

She then said that harmony was important too. If everything in your life was in harmony, you wouldn’t have many problems.

Finally, she said that she would ask for good fortune, for unlike money or wealth, good fortune in all things would create a wonderful life.

I could agree with all of this, although I might ask for a peaceful end when my time runs out…

Wishing you everything that you have on your list Jaye and thank you for sharing your life with us today.

A selection of books by Jaye Marie

One of the recent reviews for Out of Time

I hadn’t read the previous novel about Kate, so knew nothing about her, but Kate knows nothing about herself either when she wakes up. This is a thriller with no heroes, the Snowman is desperate to help her and it seems at last he can., but it is not to be. If this was a television thriller the Snowman would save the day, but the story becomes more complex. We follow the killer’s thoughts as well as the other main characters, an advantage of books over screens. The reader will never sympathise, but we might comprehend what’s going on in Jack’s mind. Michael is another character who we think might save the day, but he is a mix of flaws and must face up to the grief he has caused the woman he loved and the other woman who loves him.

This is not a novel for the faint hearted; what starts as a mystery of unconnected murders is also the story of those unfotunate enough to be in the path of a killer or know his intended victim. We know from the news that bizarre killings can occur when a murderer becomes obsessed and this murderer is obsessed with Kate.

Read the reviews and and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Jaye Marie on Goodreads:

Coming soon…..

FIN PB Template xx.png

Connect with Jaye on Social Media.


Thank you for visiting today and I am sure that Jaye would love to receive your comments. thanks Sally

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

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

First here is the official biography…….

About Dorinda Duclos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a synopsis of the book:

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

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

What is your favourite TV show and why?

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

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

Do you prefer the big city or country life?

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

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

Are you a morning person or a night person?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A selection of books by Dorinda Duclos

About Night Owl Poetry

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

One of the reviews for the collection.

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

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

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Dorinda on Goodreads:

Connect to Dorinda


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

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday Interview – Getting to Know You with Hugh W. Roberts.

Welcome to the Sunday Interview – Getting to Know you. This will be the last interview until September 23rd as I am off house and dog sitting for a couple of weeks. (And reading) I will still be popping in and sharing some regular posts and of course other bloggers, but the weekends will be very busy.

So to finish with a flourish until then…. my guest this week is author Hugh W. Roberts, who is also known for his excellent blogging tutorials, Blogging Tips for new bloggers and those of us who have fallen into bad habits!! Recently we have been enjoying a series that follows the events 49 Days in 1988 when Hugh lived in London. As well as sharing his story, he also invited fellow bloggers to suggest a song from the 1980s to play as well as promote their blog or books. This week it was another favourite blogger in our community The Story Reading Ape, Christopher Graham.

Here is an extract from the official word on  Hugh W. Roberts and you can find out more at Meet Hugh

Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my posts on blogging tips. I’ve learned a lot about the world of blogging since I first discovered it in February 2014. All of the tips and advice I give are free of charge and will cost you nothing apart from, maybe, your time. To see all my posts that include blogging tips, click on the ‘Blogging Tips’ button on the menu bar.

I have always enjoyed writing, and the fact I suffer from a mild form of dyslexia has not stopped me from enjoying the passion I have for writing. Yes, I get things wrong with my reading and writing, but I now always find those mistakes humorous and always laugh about it. I no longer allow dyslexia get in my way.

Now in my fifties, I thought it about time I let my writing become public. Becoming a blogger seemed to be the perfect way for me to do this. Blogging has put me in touch with hundreds of other writers, many of whom have been supportive and helped me with my writing.

I’m a member of the committee of the Bloggers Bash, a group set up to organise annual get-togethers for all bloggers. Held in London, we had our fourth event in May 2018. Click here to meet the bloggers and authors who attended the event.

I lead a happy life and always try to stay positive. I share my life with John, my wonderful civil partner, and our two Welsh Cardigan Corgis, Toby and Austin.

#photography #WordPress #space #dogs #corgis

Time to find out which of the questions Hugh has chosen to respond to………

Welcome Hugh and can you tell us what is your favourite TV show and why?

The Twilight Zone. If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you’ll know all about my pieces of flash fiction and short stories which often come with a twist at the end. Rod Serling, the creator of the show, is one of my writing heroes. He wrote many of the episodes for the show and I always admire the gift he has of leading people up the wrong garden path towards an ending they were not expecting. Of course, the clues are often in the episodes, but he’s brilliant at hiding them, even though they’re there right in front of your eyes. He’s the master of writing the way I want to write. I’d love to know what he thought of some of my stories, but sadly he passed away in 1975 at the young age of 51.

Are you a morning person or a night person?

Very much a morning person. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved to get up early and to make the most of my day. Who knows? It could be my last one, so I want to make the most of it. Even during the winter months, I get up early. It may be dark outside, but my creative mind is at its best during the morning, so it’s the time that I tend to sit down and write. I have written a couple of stories during the late evening, one of which frightened the life out of some of readers when I published it in my book, Glimpses. It was a weird story and came from deep in my mind. If you have a copy of Glimpses, the story is called ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day.’

What is your favourite music genre and why?

Something by the name of ‘Hi-NRG.’ Not many people will have heard of that genre of music, but it takes me back to my days of being a part-time D.J when I lived and worked in London. Hi-NRG music was first played on the gay circuit, in nightclubs and pubs, it was very popular with gay men. As well as being a part-time D.J, I also had another part-time job selling records and, over the years I accumulated a rather large collection of 12-inch vinyl records which I played at the bars I D.J’d at. One of the best feelings I ever had was seeing a packed dance floor full of happy people dancing to the music I was playing. I was known, on the circuit, as ‘D.J the Lamb.’

Sally here: I hope that this is a good example of ‘Hi-NRG’ Hugh… Touch in the Night by Silent Circle...

What season is your favourite and why?

Autumn. I’m not a ‘summer’ person because I’m not good at coping with the heat or humidity our summers often bring. Autumn, however, is a beautiful season because of the colours she displays. As somebody who also enjoys and watches a lot of television, Autumn also brings a wonderful selection of shows to our television screens. I also enjoy Halloween, not because of all the chocolate, but because it always brings me so much inspiration for stories and pieces of flash fiction.

For the last few years, I’ve also insisted that my partner, a keen gardener, grows pumpkins so that we can carve Jack-o’-lanterns. I’m always disappointed if nobody knocks at our door on Halloween, even if it means I get to keep all the chocolate. Autumn is also, for us the northern hemisphere, the lead up to Christmas, another favourite time of the year for me.

Sally here: I love this time of year too, and I love this version of Autumn Leaves by Eva Cassidy.. just for you Hugh. Courtesy of David Borg

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

One of the quotes my Grandmother often said to me was ‘Treat others how you would like them to treat you.’ It’s something that has stayed with me since I first heard her saying those words. I’ve had a few jobs where I’ve been on the frontline of customer service, and the way some customers treat some of these employees was awful. We can all get angry when things don’t go to plan, but no amount of shouting, screaming, and rudeness is going to help. I always treat people with respect and, if I’m in the wrong, I’ll hold up my hands and say so. However, if I’m in the right, then I always quote to myself what my Grandmother said and don’t get angry with whoever I’m talking with. It’s a sad fact, but I think many humans have turned more and more un-respectful to each other over the last 40 years. If, however, every one of us could say that quote when waking up every morning, then wouldn’t it at least be a little better of a world we live in?

Sally here: It certainly would be Hugh and could not agree with you more…. a wise grandmother.

Now a look at Hugh’s short story collection Glimpses, which will be joined later this year, by a new release…

About the collection

After publishing some of his short stories on his blog, Hugh W. Roberts, who is dyslexic, received numerous requests to publish his short stories in a book.

Here, at last, are 28 short stories that will take your mind on a roller coaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns.

‘Glimpses’ allows the reader a peek into the lives of everyday people who are about to have life lead them on an unpredicted path. From a mysterious deadly iPad app to a hole in the fence that is not all it seems, to a strange lipstick that appears to have a life of its own, you will encounter terror, laughter, sadness, shock and many other emotions on journeys which promise a thrilling and gripping climax.

If you are a lover of shows such as ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’, then you are in for a real treat with this first collection of short stories from Hugh.

Dare you take a glimpse into the lives of these unsuspecting characters?

One of the reviews for the collection

I found Glimpses by Hugh W. Roberts to be quite a unique book. It is a collection of short stories, mainly written along a supernatural theme. I am a great lover of supernatural and horror books and have been avidly reading Stephen King since I was ten years old, so this was right up my street. I had two absolute favourite stories/groupings of stories in this lovely book. My outright favourite was The Truth App which I read twice. It is a collection of a few short stories all in the same theme and it really “creeped” me out. Maybe I identified with it so much because it is all about blogging and bloggers which is a world in which I have recently become very immersed. I must say that I had to stop reading this tale in the evenings because it was giving me bad dreams. My advice to bloggers and other readers of this book, be careful what apps you choose to download!

My other outright winner was a short story about a woman who goes to India to have eye and dental treatment. This one stayed firmly in my mind because it made me reflect on the fact that, even if you read the completely incomprehensible list of ingredients on cosmetic and facial and other products, one rarely has any idea of what really goes into that cream that you are liberally apply all over your face. It also summoned up horrible thoughts of articles that I have read recently about testing medications and products on animals. A story that can make you think like that has got to be superb. 

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon US:

Read more reviews and follow Hugh on Goodreads:

Connect to Hugh on his blog and social media.

Google + : Hugh W. Roberts

Thank you very much for visiting today and I hope if you have not met the wonderful Hugh Roberts before, you will introduce yourself and follow him on his blog and social media. Look out for his new collection of stories later in the year… it will be promoted here of course.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sunday #Interview – Getting to Know You with Patty L. Fletcher

Welcome to this week’s Sunday interview and today we are going to get to know Patty Fletcher a little better. Patty and I have been connect for the last year and she very kindly shares many of my posts which is much appreciated. Patty and her dog King Campbell are also the authors of a number of books and we will find out more about those later.


In the meantime here is a little bit about Patty.

I’m a 49-year-old single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom I am very proud. I have a great son-in-law and five beautiful grandchildren. Three girls, and two boys. I hope to be able to write more about them later on.

I own and handle a Black Labrador from The Seeing Eye™ named Campbell Lee–a.k.a. Bubba Lee or King Campbell, to give just a couple of his nicknames.

I was born on November 9, 1967 in Kingsport, Tenn., where I also grew up. I was born one and a half months premature. My blindness was caused by my being given too much oxygen in the incubator. I was partially sighted until 1991, at which time I lost my sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. I used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a guide dog.

I wrote Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life to tell the story of how going to The Seeing Eye™ and getting Campbell, learning to love, handle, and work him, then coming home and adding him to my life, gave me true freedom. You can read more about Patty and Campbell on her blog   Campbell’s World

And you can read excerpts from Patty’s books – My Books

Now time to find out which questions Patty has chosen to answer.

Hello Sally, I would just like to thank you for this opportunity and here are the answers to the questions I picked. Dang. It was hard picking.

Welcome Patty and can you describe the most embarrassing moment of your life?

I still cannot believe this happened. LOL! 😊

It was my first night at The Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey. I probably hadn’t been there more than a couple of hours. I’d arrived late and was already feeling rather frazzled. So, it should be no surprise that I went down such a rabbit hole. My instructor and I had finished the tour of the main building of the school, and we were standing just outside my room door talking.

Now, just before I’d been accepted to the program I’d broken the tooth that was connected to my dental partial. A partial I might add of my three front teeth. I hadn’t been able to wear it, then we’d moved, and I’d lost it and could not afford to replace it. So, I had to go to a place where I knew no one and do one of the hardest things in my life I would ever do without my front teeth. I wouldn’t find out until much later that my EX had thrown the partial away while we were waiting for my mouth to heal so it could be put back. He’d thrown it away thinking I would not go to get a guide dog without them.


So, anyhow, I was standing there and suddenly I heard myself beginning to explain why I had no front teeth. My instructor had not asked me. Why would he. Furthermore, why on earth was I telling him. On and On I spun my yarn, and longer and longer it did unravel. Problem, once I got started talking I could find no way to shut up.I was in it to win it. I had to tell the whole darn story.I kept hoping he would interrupt me. Anything. But, no! He had to be polite and let me talk!

When I was done he cleared his throat and simply said…“It’s not all that noticeable.”
Then, he wished me a good night and walked away.

I wanted to crawl under the carpet there in that hall and slip on back to Tennessee where I felt such a stupid hick must belong. To this day I cringe and laugh at the same time when I think of it.

Which is the most important thing you ever lost, and did you ever find it?

I guess it’s not really a thing, but the most important thing I ever lost were my daughter and grandchildren. Due to many dreadful things happening during her childhood, and my continuing refusal a few years ago to get into and remain in therapy for my mental illness, my daughter felt it was simply best for she and I to no longer see one another nor to allow me access to my grandchildren.Though I am now in treatment and have made many changes in my life she and I are still estranged, and they now live in Wisconsin and are still lost to me.

What is the one ambition that you still have not achieved?

Though I have written and self-published two full length books, feature in two anthologies and am a decently accomplished blogger, I’m still not able to support myself one-hundred percent by my writing. I don’t necessarily wish riches and fame, although I would not refuse a listing on the New York Times bestseller’s list, I would very much like to be employed as a writer in some way so as to be completely self-sufficient. I love writing. It allows me to be just who and what I wish to be. When I write whether it is for work or pleasure it is joyful to me.

I have suffered some serious illness over the past year and find I have added to my list of disabilities. So, finding a job has been hard. Being out and about in large crowds no longer gives me pleasure and I enjoy a more solitary life. Writing as a job would most likely allow that to continue. I get panic attacks every-time I think about going back out into the public work-force as a phone customer service rep or something because I am aware of what my limitations are. If animals could talk which one would you have a conversation with?

If animals could truly talk I’d really like to talk to the birds.

I know…I know…! Everyone was expecting me to say I’d like to talk to King Campbell A.K.A Bubba my Super Seeing Eye Dog. But. I do that all the time and for the most part I know what he is saying. As far as what I don’t know, it’s probably just as well I don’t.

But. The birds can fly. They can see things we cannot. They know things we cannot know, and me being a writer and all, well I’m curious about those things they know that we do not, and I want to know and write of them.

Just yesterday I was sitting out on my back deck with Campbell and I said to him…

“Bubba if you listen to what those birds are saying you will learn things. If you can understand them and you ask nicely they will tell you wondrous stories of things no land-bound animal two or four legged could ever know.”

I think it would be most fascinating to interview an eagle or hawk. Or.

Maybe an owl because they are out at night and as we know there is a whole other world that lives when the sun goes down and the moon shines.

Would it not be just the most spectacular thing ever to talk to the birds? That’s a story the New York Times would surely publish.

If you were given a million dollars what would you do with it?

WOW! If I were given a million dollars the first thing to be done would be to call the EMTS to revive me from having fainted.

Once I was back to myself the fun would begin.

I would first donate a portion of my new found money to the best organization in this world. The Seeing Eye. THE SEEING EYE® and SEEING EYE® are registered trademarks of The
Seeing Eye: The Seeing Eye is the largest and oldest guide dog school in the world and I meant it when I said…“a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life.”

Sally here: I have found a video talking about the history of The Seeing Eye organsation courtesy of CBS Sunday Morning

Once that was squared away I would make certain to set something aside for my daughter son-in-law and grands. Not that they need my help, it’s just something I’d really love to do.

I would, with the help of someone knowledgeable in such things, invest it in such a way that it would grow that way they would have it when they needed or wanted it. There would be no strings. I simply would love to do something for my family.

I would have a home built to my exact specifications and it would have every possible visual aid. There would be a totally fenced yard, a pool for me and one for my dogs. Yes, I said dogs. If I had that much money I’d want more than one. Campbell used to love having a play-mate.There would be awesome shade trees in the front and back yard.

Then I would open my own business. I’ve always wanted a book cafe. I want to serve specialty coffees, teas, and the finest wines and beers. Wonderfully delicious snacks, and there would be books…books…books… and did I happen to mention books?

I would have authors of all descriptions do readings and book signings and the money I made would go to not only grow that business but to assist with the continuation of The National Library Services For the Blind and Physically Handicap so that the Talking-Book program could last forever and beyond.

I would then be able to write to my heart’s content and no longer would I struggle.

Once my money had begun to grow from all the most awesome works I would be doing I would then set up a scholarship fund for disabled writers who want to publish books that simply do not have the money to do it.

They would have to work for it, because I feel something worked for holds much more value than what is simply handed out. So, they’d have to prove themselves in some way. I believe that the majority of those in need would much rather have a hand-up, than a hand-out.

I would like it to be so that I were able to help many others like myself become the very best they could be. I have so many dreams that I may never make into reality due to my financial situation so, should I ever find myself in a position to help others it would give me immense pleasure to help those like me reach their goals and beyond.

Patty also wanted to share one of her favourite songs. The Power of Love.. there are a number of versions but this one by Jennifer Rush is one of my most listened to.

Now let’s look at Patty’s books

About Campbell’s Rambles

This is the story of how the author obtained her first guide dog, Campbell, from The Seeing Eye™ in Morristown, New Jersey: what motivated her, the extensive training she had, the special relationship she developed with her trainer, and the good friends she made.

Once she returned home to Tennessee, there were many new challenges to be met and overcome, including domestic abuse. All that was in addition to her chronic conditions of bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia.

With honesty, courage, and humor, Patty Fletcher tells a remarkable story of personal development that is sure to inform, entertain, and inspire others, both blind and sighted.

One of the reviews for the book

I really enjoyed this book! Patty Fletcher is a great writer. She shares in a vulnerable and authentic voice about not only getting her seeing eye dog, Campbell, but about her life. I really love her dog, Campbell. He is so smart and protective. You can feel his love for Patty in the story. I’m sorry for all she has gone through but she shows in her story that she is strong and is an over-comer. Her story will surely inspire others in similar situations. I highly recommend this book!

About Bubba Tails

In this magical and love filled tail, King Campbell AKA Bubba travels to the puppy nursery at The Seeing Eye to help ready a group of puppies who are just about to embark on the fabulous journey of learning to become Seeing Eye dogs. Just as he is about to finish his tail, a wee pup becomes very frightened of all that lies ahead, and one frightfully stormy night she runs away! Will King Campbell hear the urgent call from the puppy nursery in time? Will they find her and save her so she can fulfill her destiny? The use of Tail instead of Tale for story and Magik instead of Magic is intended for these short stories. A great play on words from King Campbell

One of the reviews for the book

Wow! I loved reading this! What an amazing story about an incredible journey. This is about a journey from The Seeing Eye, Inc. in New Jersey to Kingsport Tennessee, but is also about the journey of a loving owner, and her special canine companion. I loved reading the story through King Campbell’s point of view, and how he is talking to the next litter of pups about to train as Seeing Eye Dogs. This is something the has always fascinated me and was the first time I was really allowed a look at some of what goes into training these special dogs. The book is made all the more exciting because the author and her dog Campbell went through this journey years ago. Such a creative way to share their story, and I can’t wait to read more of King Campbell’s Bubba Tails!

Both books can be found on Amazon US:

And on Amazon UK:

Connect to Patty


Thank you for dropping in today and Patty would love to receive your comments and questions.. Thanks Sally