Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Sunday Interview – Getting to Know author Sheila Williams


My guest today is author Sheila Williams who lives in France, but in the past has enjoyed several careers, including that of sheep farmer (more about that later!). Sheila shares a mortifying experience in a restaurant, her fashion sense, the contents of her handbag and a tussle with a persistent romeo ram (of the sheep variety!)

First the official word from the author.

About Sheila Williams

Sheila Williams, author, slipped into this world on Guy Fawkes night, under cover of fireworks and bonfires. Outraged to find other nurslings in the nest, she attempted to return to her own world but found the portal closed.

Adopting a ‘make the best of it’ attitude she endured a period of indoctrination to equip her for her place in society. This included learning a language that no-one ever speaks and making complex calculations of no perceivable value.

Freeing herself as soon as possible from such torture, she embarked on a series of adventures – or to use the vernacular – careers; hospital manager, business consultant, life coach, sheep farmer. She attempted to integrate into society by means first of marriage and then partnered before setting out alone to discover another world, known as France, where she now resides.

Always fascinated by these humans amongst whom she dwells, she has developed an interest in psychology, magic, the supernatural, ghosts, Ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. Dark thoughts and black humour lurk within her.

In her quest to understand this world she pursues knowledge of its history; not of kings and queens but of its ordinary people and how they lived and worked. To this end, she haunts events such as boot fairs, vide-greniers and sales rooms where many ancient artefacts can be uncovered.

She lives without the box of sound and pictures known locally as television and hence her already limited social skills are further curtailed not having a clue who came dancing with whom or who had talent…or not. She does however have access to something called DVDs and hibernates over winter with a large stack of them. When spring arrives she may be found cherishing the plants in her garden, whistling with the birds and holding deep meaningful conversations with the resident toad who, one day, she hopes may turn into her prince and keep her in the manner to which she would like to become accustomed

Her outlets from this unfathomable world include nature, animals (especially funny videos of), books and writing stories. This latter occupation enables her to create her own worlds, populate them and dispose of the residents as she thinks fit. She finds holding the fate of these poor souls in her hands immensely satisfying.

Time to find out which of the intrusive and personal questions Sheila has been brave enough to answer…..

Welcome back Sheila and can you describe one of the most embarrassing moment of your life?

I met some friends at a local restaurant. Much wine was consumed, as happens, and I needed to visit the loo. I pushed the door open; great, no waiting, no-one there. I did what I needed to do and was about to leave when I heard voices, men’s voices, lots of men’s voices. I waited, mortified until I thought it was all quiet and then crept out of the stall only to notice what I had not seen before – a row of urinals against the wall, each one occupied. As one, the guys turned their heads and began hissing and booing at me.

How they stayed on target I’ll never know, nor want to. I fled, my face tomato red. I made it back to the table where my friends (nearly wrote fiends there) were falling about laughing and pointing to the ‘gents’ sign on the door.

To compound my embarrassment, as we left the restaurant I could hear the sniggers of other diners. I stopped for a moment at the door and a little old lady walked up behind me. She pulled down the back of my skirt and said severely: ‘You’re not a little girl any more so don’t tuck your skirt into your knickers.’ In my embarrassment in the loo I had left without making sure my clothes were arranged in a seemly fashion. I never went back and these days you’re more likely to find me in trousers or jeans than a skirt.

Tell us about your craziest experience.

In another life I had a sheep farm in the Yorkshire Dales. At ‘tupping time’ – the time when the tups (rams) are turned out with the ewes to mate, I had one of my tups going back and forth; in and out of my neighbour’s fields. The problem was that this great numb creature just didn’t fancy my curly-horned Swaledale ewes. No, this mating season he’d taken a fancy to my neighbour’s, admittedly younger and more stylish, ewes. This was the fifth and definitely the final time that I was going to fetch him away from forbidden fruit. I grabbed the dog collar I’d put around his thick neck and rummaged through my pockets for a length of thick twine. As I began to fasten the twine to the collar. He shifted uneasily; to be led from the only source of nookie for a twelvemonth, it was too much for him to bear. He threw back his great head and propelled himself down the fields at the double.

Somehow, the length of twine wrapped itself tightly around my left wellie and as the ram took the piece of band to its full length, it tautened and upended me, all 140 lbs of too, too solid flesh. I crashed on my back, cracking my head and sending my specs flying whilst a whole galaxy of blue and yellow stars shot across my orbit.

The villain of the piece, now thoroughly frightened by the weight he was towing some ten feet behind him, bolted down the field, heading for the wall at the bottom. It was a frosty morning with the ground iron-hard. I wriggled like a fish on a long-line trying to free myself. I could feel the skin on my back and arms being scraped off. The brute reached the lower boundary wall and took it like a Grand National winner at which point my left wellie detached itself from my foot and I was left a gibbering, sobbing wreck in the wall bottom. The miscreant ram, continued his gallop with a flying green wellie trailing behind him.

It took me some time to collect the remnants of my wits together and even longer to scour the fields groping for my specs, without which I’m the proverbially blind bat. I limped home. In the bathroom I inspected the damage. It was colourful. Face maggot white; back, arms, legs and shoulders a raw red and every shade of purple and blue.

Now I’m not a particularly pretty sight at the best of times, being short, stoutish and sharp-hootered but I would have left Frankenstein’s monster as an also-ran in a ‘most-ugly’contest that morning.

Sally Here: I found this video with a mesmerizing sheep herding sequence that might bring back happier memories of sheep farming for Sheila..

How would you describe your fashion sense?

In a word, I would say ‘eclectic’; some of my very stylish friends would say I didn’t have any fashion sense. However I’ve always replied to their scorn that I dress for the occasion. When I was a business consultant it was all power-dressing – suits, Dallas-style padded shoulders, short skirts, heels that could skewer a wild boar.

When I was farming it was jeans, sweaters, Barbour coats and overalls.

Nowadays, in my writing years, it varies a little. I live in south-west France where the summers are hot and the winters are freezing. Summertime it’s shorts, crops and t-shirts (not the sleeveless ones – too much underarm wobble – and a swimsuit for the mandatory dip in the lake at the end of the day. Occasionally I’ll sport a floaty skirt but mainly on fete days.

In winter it’s a different matter altogether. Up until recently I had no heating in my writing room so a typical wardrobe consisted of vest, long-sleeved t-shirt, sweater no.1, sweater no.2, woolly hat and mittens. The lower half would be fleecy-lined trousers and tights or sometimes padded ski trousers.

All that has changed though because I now have heating in my writer’s room so no doubt a new form of sartorial elegance will evolve but I haven’t quite decided what that might be yet.

What are the five things that you would always find in your handbag or briefcase?

Only five! Firstly my papers (I’ll bundle them together as one) – passport, driving licence and car registration. The French police have this sneaky habit of jumping out of the side of the road, stopping you and asking to see your papers. Without them you face a hefty fine.

Next would be a notebook and pens, several pens in fact. I get wacky ideas at the strangest times and need to write them down. I am, what I call an eariwigger – I can’t help overhearing other folks’ conversations. From time to time I hear a little gem that I can’t resist noting.

Number three is my comb. It is made of boxwood and comes from the village where I now live. A century or so ago it was one of the main industries in the village along with jet working and textiles. The factories are all gone now, save one textile firm. My comb is a very simple one but many of them were intricately carved and quite beautiful.

Next my purse. Although I don’t claim to be stylish really, I am the proud owner of a genuine Chanel purse in black and white leather. It’s a bit battered but it does the job. In truth it doesn’t have much work to do since it’s nearly always empty save for the obligatory carte vitale (health card), my cash card and a credit card that I dare not use.

Finally a relic from my farming days one of those rinky-dinky penknives that are supposed to do everything from cleaning out horses’ hooves to opening a bottle of wine. The only problem with it is that I break a nail trying to ease out each of its component parts.

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

There’s still time yet and I’m a born optimist. I really would like to be traditionally published. I have had articles and short stories published in magazines but not a full length work. My first novel received a number of interested murmurs from agents but alas no takers. I’ve published my three books independently and with a little success.

For all of that I would like to be taken on by a publisher. I’m not sure why it’s so important to me but I believe, deep down it has something to do with validation as a writer. I think many writers probably suffer from self-doubt – some of the time maybe all of the time. I certainly do. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be rid of it – perhaps it’s necessary to the writing process. Even if I were to find a traditional publisher I suspect the self-doubt would still be there?

Do you prefer the big city or country life?

You can probably guess my answer. I’m a country lass at heart. I was brought up in a city in west Yorkshire. I remember as a kid visiting a farm where the farm yard was a glorious mix of hens, ducks, geese and pigs. How I loved the pigs rooting about, wallowing in mud, scoffing windfall apples with happy little grunts. I developed a real passion for pigs but when I suggested keeping one on the tennis court at home the idea was vetoed.

Sally Here:  I found some very happy pigs enjoying life in a sanctuary cooling off.

My adult life has always been spent in the country in ever increasing degrees of country-ness. First in the outer fairly rural suburbs, then in the Yorkshire dales, next it was rural Nottinghamshire, then the Holderness coast in east Yorkshire and finally in a small village close to the Pyrenees in south west France. It’s about having space around me to think; it’s about being able to close the door and have solitude and silence when I want or need it. I love nature in all its guises, the change of seasons and even in the bitter winds that are blowing at the moment, there is exhilaration in being outside. I feel alive.

Certainly a life of adventure and daring, and having had my own experience with rams (the sheep kind) I take my hat off to Sheila….time to find out more about her books.

Sheila’s latest release.

About the Weave – a fantasy mystery…

A Romany Witch, a French Count and an English author, all entangled in a lie told centuries ago…

Struggling author Richard Pease joins the Nonesuch Club – a writers’ retreat in France – run by the inscrutable Oskar. At the club he starts to write again and he thinks his problems are over. In fact they are just beginning. As he uncovers the secrets in the Club he finds himself trapped in a web of intrigue and deception and has more to worry about than writer’s block… such as escaping with his life.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Sheila 5.0 out of 5 stars Intrigue 2 January 2019

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I started to read it aloud to my partner as we were driving overnight, but, after our journeys end, I became intrigued and needed to read it myself. I found myself wanting a character in the book to have revenge, but had no inclination of how it would be achieved, until the latter stages.

There has obviously been a lot of research done, of witches, herbs and potions etc. The imagination of some people, never ceases to amaze me and am always in awe of authors

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07KCMQWMY

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KCMQWMY

Also by Sheila Williams

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/sheila-williams/e/B013G9O87C

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Siren-Other-Strange-Tales-Supernatural-ebook/dp/B071Y4214S

Connect to Sheila Williams

blog: https://writeonthebeach.wordpress.com/
website: http://www.sheilawilliams.net/
twitter: https://twitter.com/SheilawWilliams
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author-Sheila-Williams-152163451629149/

My thanks to Sheila for her interesting and lively interview and if you would like to share more about your life and work then please check out how to do so: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/getting-to-know-you-sunday-interview-2019/

If you are an author and would like to be part of a group that supports and promotes other authors then please take a look at this group on Facebook by clicking the image.

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you prefer the big city or country life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any tattoos and if so, where?

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

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

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

About the book

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

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

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

An early review for the book.

LAS Reviewer Good Reading January 31, 2019

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

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

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

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

Head over and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07M62K32V

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/His-Sights-Shifter-Clans-Book-ebook/dp/B07M62K32V

A selection of other books by Laura M. Baird

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Laura-M.-Baird/e/B0745JY9CF

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Laura-M.-Baird/e/B0745JY9CF

Read more reviews and follow Laura on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17049270.Laura_M_Baird

Connect to Laura

Website: https://www.laurambairdauthor.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraMBaird
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LauraMBairdauthor/
Other online bookstores: https://www.laurambairdauthor.com/books.html

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

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – 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 PoetsCornerBlog.wordpress.com

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: https://www.amazon.com/Dorinda-Duclos/e/B00LE97O5K

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dorinda-Duclos/e/B00LE97O5K

Read more reviews and follow Dorinda on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8405193.Dorinda_Duclos

Connect to Dorinda

Blog: https://dorindaduclos.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dorindaduclosauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dorindaduclos
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thenightowlpoet/

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: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glimpses-Hugh-W-Roberts-ebook/dp/B01N757S3P

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Hugh-W.-Roberts/e/B01N40ZABP

Read more reviews and follow Hugh on Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16123684.Hugh_W_Roberts

Connect to Hugh on his blog and social media.

Blog: https://hughsviewsandnews.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HughRoberts05
Google + : Hugh W. Roberts
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hugh.roberts05/
Mix: https://mix.com/hughwroberts
Flipboard: https://flipboard.com/@HughWRoberts

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 – Getting to Know You – Sunday Interview – Author Janet Gogerty


My guest Janet Gogerty, entertained us earlier in the year with posts from her archives, including avoiding embarrassing silences on the telephone thanks to the Invention of the email

Before we discover which questions Janet has chosen to share with us today, here is the official bio.

About Janet Gogerty

I have been writing frantically for 10 years and still enjoy being part of two writing groups. I am inspired by anything and everything and enjoy writing about ordinary people; but usually they find themselves experiencing strange events! When I was encouraged to tackle a novel my daughter suggested I use my short story ‘Brief Encounters of the Third Kind’ as she wanted to know what happened to Emma, whose fate had been left in the air at the end of the story.

The novel became a trilogy, Three Ages of Man and finally Lives of Anna Alsop, published in March 2015.I enjoy writing fiction of any length and have had many short stories published online. I have just published my fourth collection of short stories Someone Somewhere which includes two novellas. I also write a regular blog ‘Sandscript‘ at Goodreads. My website long ago took on a life of its own with new words and pictures regularly; visit to read short stories and other items.

Now to find out something more about Janet…..

Welcome Janet and can you tell us what is your favourite music genre and why?

People who know me, or have to put up with me, would say Classical is my genre, but rather like my novels I don’t stick to genres. The narrowest definition of Classical is music written in the European tradition, approximately 1750 to 1830, when the symphony was standardized. Yes I do like music from that period and the symphony orchestra is an amazing creation to listen to and watch, but most people think of the bigger picture.

According to taste, classical music could be any music you find boring, anything they play on BBC Radio Three and Classic FM, or works performed at The Proms. Perhaps all music that has stood the test of time is the best definition.

Two easier questions to answer

‘Can you live without music?’

No.

‘What music don’t you like?’

Anything involving Pan Pipes, Sondeim or the Eurovision Song Contest… plus a collection of pieces and songs from all genres that make me lose the will to live. For example, ever since I was a child I could not stand Moon River.

But I do love all sorts of music, whether it’s on the radio livening up cooking and housework through to the ultimate, live performances.

I have sat wanting Riverdance to never end ( I’m sure the dancers did want it to end ), seen Phantom of the Opera four times, been taken totally out of the dreary surroundings of a school hall when a Bhangra band burst onto the stage and been blasted out of this world by Verdi’s Requiem.

If the symphony orchestra is at the heart of classical music the concert hall is pure theatre; from the moment you trip over feet finding your seat, watching the orchestra tune up, the ritual of the leader coming on, applause, the conductor coming on, even more applause and no one’s done anything yet. If there is not a great choral work being presented then some audience members sit in the choir seats behind the orchestra, looking down upon the percussion section. Plenty of composers have written BIG symphonies and how happy the percussion players look as they get a chance to strike the timpani and clash the huge cymbals; we wait with bated breath to see if the cymbals will fly out of his hands back into the audience in the choir seats. There is drama at the front of the stage also. The development of the iron frame piano in the 1800s was the best thing to happen to keyboards, gone were the long dreary evenings of harpsichord. Beethoven led the way to testosterone fuelled concertos, Rachmaninov, with his famously long fingers, stretched them beyond imagination. Sitting in row C gazing up at the shiny grand piano played by an international soloist beats seeing a tiny figure in the distance at a pop concert.

Meanwhile back in the kitchen, what do I recommend for dancing round doing the dishes?

The original recording of Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall in 1938, ‘Sing Sing, Sing’; twelve minutes of Swing heaven and heart stopping drums. I guess ‘you had to be there’, but for those of us that weren’t you can get the CD. ‘Forty Second Street’ is one of my favourite musical numbers and a playing of the original film at our little local Art Decor cinema remains a highlight of my cinema experiences. Or how about a waltz? The waltzes from Carousel the musical and Khachaturian’s Masquerade Suite are both life affirming and energising.

On Saturday evenings BBC Radio Three often broadcasts Live From The Met. While audiences in New York are enjoying a matinee opera, I am cooking dinner. I enjoy the presenters with their mellifluous voices telling us the story, talking about the scenery and costumes; then when the opera actually starts I’m usually bored after fifteen minutes! Sometimes it’s better just to hear the best bits.

We all have rhythm, we all have a heart beat. Babies like simple tunes, our ancestors sung round the fire outside their caves when there was little else to do. But music evolved, chords and harmony appeared, musicians started writing it down. You don’t need to be a music expert to enjoy listening, all you need to know is that music is an amazing combination of pure mathematics and mystery. Who can analyse why certain music sends shivers down our spine?

Those of us who tried and failed to learn any instrument properly will have been left with great admiration for real musicians, who have reached their pinnacle with hard work as well as talent. But in my novel, Brief Encounters of the Third Kind, a very ordinary couple, who know nothing about the musical world, find themselves with a child genius. And Emma’s mother has good reason to fear that her daughter is not an ordinary human, not even human at all…

Sally here: Janet has given me plenty of music to choose from, and avoiding those pieces that might cause her to leave the room.. here is Benny Goodman with Sing, sing, sing.. not at the Carnegie Hall but should have you jiving and doing the Lindy Hop all around the kitchen…

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

A million dollars really isn’t that much, if my maths is right that would be about £740,000 Stirling, lots of people have houses worth more than that. People win more than that on Mega Euro Lottery. So I’m going to give it all away.

I might keep a little, throw everything out of the kitchen and buy multi-coloured stuff from Steamer Trading and perhaps a drum set (see question 1). But I am banking on getting everything I want with my three wishes.

I shall give it to a clever person who has great ideas, but not enough money to develop them. The idea could be anything from building a solar powered airship to instant environmentally friendly home pods for the homeless and young families. Fellow bloggers can help me with the difficult choice. A million dollars will probably not be enough, but a clever person will get investors interested.

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains and why?

Beach or mountain? If you have looked at my website or read my blogs you may have detected a seaside theme.

No holiday is complete without a walk up a hill and enjoyment of the view. But I have never been up a mountain unless you count the Nevis Ranges. The Nevis Range Mountain Gondola is built on the north face of Aonach Mor, the 8th highest mountain in Britain. Built for skiers, but in summer you can go up and enjoy walking, ‘mountain climbing’ and a cafe… It is fantastic being up there and you can come down again when you like, not like going up Everest. On one Scottish holiday my daughter and our friend climbed Ben Nevis, while my sister and I went on the ferry to the Isle of Mull for the day; ankles, knees and the lack of toilets and coffee shop at the summit ( or half way up ) played a part in our decision.

So the answer is beach. When I was in infant school I had this dream we were going to the seaside, I was all excited, but when we got there the sea was just a narrow strip of water in the school playground. When we finally moved to the coast I fully expected to wake up and find it had all been a dream.

I love the British coast because it is so varied and I never tire of visiting new places. Sand, shingle, craggy rocks, scenery like you see in Poldark and an endless variety of human intervention, for better or worse. I like looking at the waves, paddling, swimming. Unlike mountains, the seaside is accessible to everyone, whether you want to sit in the car with your sandwiches looking at the view, or try the various water sports such as windsurfing.

We were six years on the waiting list for a beach hut, a six by six wooden box on its side, on a piece of concrete rented from the council at an exorbitant rate. But it is worth it to have a refreshment and changing base and a sea view.

What is your favourite holiday and why?

My favourite holiday would be a combination of five Scottish holidays we have had. Three weeks away, visiting friends or relatives on the way up and down and staying at bed and breakfast.

The middle week is spent in a cottage, travelling all the time is no fun and having a washing machine and your own space is vital. The cottage will be on an island or remote cove. If, rather when, it rains I have a lap top and can do some writing. Part of the holiday will be trips to islands; I love going on Caledonian MacBrayne ferries. When the lilting accent comes over the tannoy telling us the emergency drill ‘…please don your life jackets…’ you know you’re in Scottish waters. On this holiday we will go to the very top of Scotland; there is some dispute if John O’Groats is the most northerly tip of the mainland, but it has a beautiful white beach with glistening fragments of shell.

If you were granted three wishes what would they be?

Be careful what you wish for, use your three wishes wisely. I am glad I had time to think.

The first is pure indulgence. A famous British composer, a living one hopefully, excited to find a novel about musicians, reads my novel Brief Encounters of the Third Kind. He or she is overwhelmed and inspired to write what I cannot; the music Emma Dexter has composed. I don’t know how Emma’s music sounds, I do know it is deep and moving and full of melodies: that is why she and her cellist husband are so popular with the general public. The music is received rapturously, some of the works are premiered at The Proms and the great composer is inspired to write the entire opera that takes place at the end of the novel.

Actually I would settle for a totally unknown poverty stricken composer, who becomes famous after being inspired by my novel and writing the opera.

Be careful what you wish for? Supposing I disliked the music and the critics panned the opera?

Sally here: I happen to be a fan of violinist David Garrett and here he is with some say the finest conductor of our times..Riccardo Chailly…you never know Janet..

The second wish is for my own island. Not tropical; rugged, but not bleak. No cars allowed. Perhaps it would be a mix of Iona, Lindisfarne, Rottnest off the Western Australian coast and Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. Not easily accessible, especially in winter, but not too far from civilisation. There will be an old house, a castle or perhaps a neglected Art Deco hotel.

Sally here: I had several options to offer you Janet, but this one really took my fancy…

I must not waste the third wish. Looking after the dream island and affording to live there will be up to me. I shall establish a settlement of artistic and practical people, we will restore original buildings and create new homes that blend in with the environment, grow food and be sustainable. Not too many people, otherwise the peace of the island will be spoilt, but enough people so I don’t get bored or have to do too much work. I shall spend the days writing and walking or riding around the island on a horse. My wish since I was two was to have a horse, but I can’t spare my third wish, I shall have to buy or rescue a steed. I shall swim in the sheltered cove and chat to the wildlife enthusiasts who are monitoring various exotic creatures.

After Cyberspouse ( I’d better invite him to stay ) has cooked dinner in our cosy turret, evenings will be spent with our talented community, storytelling and playing music. At weekends we will have a film evening on our giant digital television in the community hall, our only concession to the outside world.

But what will happen if these folk don’t all live in harmony or some are too lazy to contribute? Or worse, we get invaded?

My third wish is for a small solar powered airship which will literally be a ship as it will also be able to sail on the oceans. It will be nifty enough to pop on and off the island, but capable of reaching family in Australia and the USA. I hope my island will be in safe hands while I’m away.

The airship will have been designed by the person I gave the million dollars to, he or she will get more orders, the business will flourish and I have shares in it. What could possibly go wrong?

Sally here: I am sure that Lockheed would make you a custom sized personal version, hopefully within the money left after buying your island.

Books by Janet Gogerty.

About Brief Encounters of the Third Kind

In the early years of the Twenty First Century, widow Susan Dexter has more to worry about than the recession. For thirty years she has kept a secret; she is not sure if her daughter is human. New events lead her to other people who need to find the truth.
How do ordinary people cope with the extraordinary?
Mystery, music and medicine are at the heart of this family saga; sub plots are woven amongst several very different love stories, as the characters question what it is to be human and what is reality.

One of the reviews for the book

Brief Encounters of the Third Kind is anything but brief. It is a meaty story that kept me entertained until the end. It left me wanting a sequel. I believe Janet Gogerty has a great story that could lead to further adventures.

The pace is moderate, but there is terrific character development. Each persona is different and robust. Emma is an unusual character and we can see the strain that she is placed under due to her uniqueness, which results in perfectly normal behaviour for someone who is anything but ordinary. We see her in a very human and fallible light.

At times, I was so engrossed in the story and the characters that I forgot that I was reading science fiction. With a few shocking moments toward the end, Brief Encounters of the Third Kind will keep you reading past your bedtime.

I’m rather hoping there are further adventures and that Janet Gogerty writes a follow up. I think we would all like to hear about little Adam. What happens to him? What does he become in time? I found baby Adam fascinating and well written.

If you are looking for a great story, with wonder character development, and a little bit of science fiction, then read Brief Encounters of the Third Kind.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brief-Encounters-Third-Janet-Gogerty-ebook/dp/B00AWVNH3E/

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Brief-Encounters-Third-Janet-Gogerty-ebook/dp/B00AWVNH3E/

A selection of other books by Janet Gogerty

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Janet-Gogerty/e/B00A8FWDMU/

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Janet-Gogerty/e/B00A8FWDMU/

Read more reviews and follow Janet on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7236471.Janet_Gogerty

Connect to Janet

Blog: https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/
Websitehttps://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Beachwriter/

Thank you so much for joining Janet and I today, I hope you have enjoyed the interview and I am sure that Janet would love your feedback and questions.. Thanks Sally.

I shall be continuing the theme of this Sunday Interview until at leas the end of the year, so if you would like to participate then here are the details. I am currently book slots for the end of September. Look forward to hearing from you.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/getting-to-know-you-sunday-interview-2018/

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: https://solpicador.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Marina-Costa-779203492216758/

Music by Modern Talking: https://www.amazon.com/Modern-Talking/e/B000APBYEQ

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

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Book Reading and Interview with Adele Marie Park


Sally's Cafe and BookstoreWelcome to the Book Reading at the Cafe and today my guest author is Adele Marie Park who recently published her debut novel Wisp, the magical fantasy about Elves and the dark side of their world.

First let’s find out a little more about Adele before I put her into the hot seat for her interview.

I was born in the north east of Scotland, at the age of six months I moved with family to live on the Orcadian island of Rousay. My childhood was surrounded with tales and legends of old, these themes and beliefs I have carried all my life. They now emerge and live within the pages of my books.

My most major work, and my lifes passion, is a series of tales regarding humans and selkies. The Suleskerry Saga portrays tales of merging worlds and peoples, delving into the battles and loves theirin.

I love writing, it`s my passion. My genres include fantasy, horror, urban fantasy, and a mixture of all those. I love telling stories;period. I am married to my wonderful wife, Becca who is my rock. Our daughter Tara and our dog, german shepherd collie cross, are also my passions. To experience a moment of pure love is to experience the world.

Creativity is something I couldn`t live without.I am also a Supernatural geek, and love my music. Punk, Goth, Rockabilly and visual Kei music from Japan.

The paranormal is my normal.  Oh, and I also totally believe in faeries.

About Wisp

Edra; a world where magic flourishes and where dark secrets are concealed by those who rule. Secrets which can get the innocent killed without a thought.When the body of an elf is discovered in a treacherous area of the city, Wisp a young Law Enforcer is assigned the case.

He soon realises the case is far from simple. As soon as he finds one thread another one leads him to unravel a tapestry woven from lies, secrets, corruption and evil. When friendship turns to love, Wisp`s life, as he knew it will completely change.

What started out as a murder case ends in a grisly battle which Wisp and his companions seem to have no chance of winning.

Here is the most recent review for Wisp

Meet Wisp, a law enforcer in the land of Edra, where magic is encouraged to flourish and is often needed for sheer survival. A mages council rules Edra compared to the neighboring area of Finah, who prefers humans to control their resources. After a bloody civil war, many years ago, the two lands exist beside each other in a fragile peace.

Wisp is a marsh fairy (YES! Can you believe it?) with raven hair and pointy ears pierced with silver earrings. Marsh fairies are rare and possess special powers. Wisp keeps his real identity under wraps, known only to his superiors. Abandoned as a child, the “Senior” Law enforcement officer raised him ensuring his survival.

In a desolate area filled with putrefying rubbish, Wisp comes across the body of a High Elf, a member of the Thorns, who was a high-ranking council member found murdered in the circle. The elf’s throat had been brutally cut. Wisp sets out to solve the murder not realizing he is to play an integral part in solving the mystery.

Wisp meets Finn Redhaven, the lover of the murdered elf, Sammiel Thorn, and feels an immediate attraction to him. Wisp and Finn fall in love and discover a wealth of magical abilities enabled by their relationship. And, they are going to need all the help they can get to battle the evil that has descended on Edra.

As fantasy novels go, Wisp stands out to me in its originality and political intrigue. Ms. Park creates a world where love is considered to be one of the greatest powers of all. I enjoyed that the two main characters were male and embraced their love and desire for each other, which was a refreshing approach to solving a mystery in a magical land. The reader discovers along with Wisp the extent of his abilities which I anticipate will increase over time.

I’ve added Wisp to my list of favorite fantasy novels. I loved the story and the characters. The ending is a cliffhanger, and I can’t wait for the next volume to find out what happens to Wisp and Finn. Hopefully, Ms. Park won’t keep us in suspense for long

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wisp-Adele-Park-ebook/dp/B01MXYQ2E4

Adele will be sharing an excerpt from Wisp for her book reading after her interview

Now it is time to ask Adele about her life and the inspirations behind her writing. This is also your opportunity to ask Adele your questions and please leave them in the comments section of the post.

Welcome Adele and perhaps we could start with which book in your opinion is the best you’ve ever read?

I chose this question because Becca and I were discussing it at breakfast the other day. At the moment I choose Dream catcher by Stephen King. When I read Stephen King it is like coming home to a warm welcome. This book in particular gripped me with terror, tenderness for the characters, especially Duddits and awe for the amazing plot and writing. I still use the catchphrase “I duddits.” when I accomplish something difficult. Now that’s taking something great away from a wonderful book.

If one of your books was selected to be made into a film; who would you like to play your main character and why?

I have written a novella about shape shifters. It was for a competition but due to life circumstances I missed the deadline. So it is now a novel waiting for the dreaded edit. It’s called “The Return”. I would love Takeshi Kaneshiro the talented Japanese actor to play the main character. I love his work but also when I was describing the character his face popped into my head and stayed there. He would bring the necessary softness but also the hard edge that the character has.

Do you have a dream that is waiting to be fulfilled?

Yes several. The one that springs to mind though, is to publish the first novel I started to write. It is called “Suleskerry” and deals with subjects dear to my heart. Selkies who can shape shift into human form, my home Rousay, which I miss very much, friendship and how far the characters will go for that friendship. Love and rescuing bright flames of love which have been stomped on, abused yet still shine. It also deals with demons, invasions, battles and a ride across America in an old VW van with a Dineh, Navajo, shaman, his nephew and niece, Daniel my main human character and Kieran, the main selkie character. They travel from Window Rock to Alaska and along the way there are some comical scenes, poignant ones and tear jerking ones. These books have been nearly 30 years in writing and have taken me through some hellish times in my own life to the peace and happiness I now have.

You sound as if you had a childhood rich in myths and legends. Can you tell us more about Selkies?

I most certainly can, Sally. Selkies are grey seals. They can come ashore and take off their seal skins to become human. Male and female. They are said to be so beautiful that no one human can resist them. In legend this has caused much trouble for both human and selkie. Often the human will steal away the skin of the selkie which is a way to trap them. They settle down to become good wives and husbands but as soon as they find their skin, they are off back to their home. There are supposed to be many children born from such unions and perhaps a few still have webbed feet and hands. There was talk of a woman in Nairn, a small village on the east coast of Scotland, who had a flipper instead of a foot on one leg. This was told last century so although, Nairn, is very close to where I now live, I have never met her.

Of all the legends you grew up listening to which was the one that really stays in your mind today?

The selkie that did no forget. This is supposed to be a true story but again it is years old and the teller was an old man when he told me. Some islands would never kill a seal. Rousay was one of these. A fisherman was out in his boat one day when he heard a terrible wailing like a child and a mother in distress. He rowed until he came upon a heart breaking scene. A little selkie pup was stuck on the land while it’s mother was crying to her baby to come to her. The fisherman was a kind hearted man and he wrapped the seal pup up in his coat and took him back out to his mother. He said that the mother looked at him with eyes that saw into his soul and the tears were fresh on her face.

Later that year he was out in his boat again when a fierce storm blew in and he was stranded near Suleskerry, dangerous jagged rocks. He was about to give up hope when a selkie came swimming through the water towards him. The selkie looked at him and he recognised the mother. She bade him put his arms around her neck and she swam with him to the shore and safety.

That legend or true tale, was one which influenced the series of novels called Suleskerry.

Can you tell us more about Visual Kei music from Japan?

This genre of music is influenced by Japanese opera, western rock music and the androgyny culture of Japan. It was pioneered by early bands like X Japan and Buck Tick in the 80s and the movement grew in strength until western girls and boys found it and took it to their hearts. It has a lot to do with fashion as well. From the gothic Lolita look to the steam punk and anime looks. It blossomed with the advent of the internet and you tube. Being a goth, I took to Visual Kei easily. I also loved Japanese culture so it was a wonderful mix for me. I have shared a video of one of my favourite bands so that you can all get a sense of what it is about.

Adele has chosen an excerpt from Wisp for her book reading.

Chapter Five

As Finn talked, the hut became darker and Wisp began to get a clearer picture of Sammiel Thorn, one wildly different from that his mother painted. Finn and Sammiel had met during a riot in the circle. It had been a ruse, so the underground criminal gangs could move something through undetected.

Finn and Sammiel had hidden in the back of a stall. They had found common interests and by the time the coast was clear, they had made plans to help the innocent denizens of the circle and had fallen in love.

“Sammiel`s family hated me. I am a poor mage to them, but it wasn’t just that. You know my family’s rep for getting involved in things that go public?”

Wisp scanned his memories quickly. “Yes. The last one was a child smuggling ring. Your family helped bust it wide open. Well done.”

“Sammiel deified his family, and we continued our relationship and our work. He was passionate about making everyone equal. So passionate. I think, no, I know, Law Enforcer, it got him killed. Look.” Finn had moved off the bed so quickly, Wisp nearly fell off his crate.

He returned just as quickly and held out a blank piece of paper. “The words were written magically, so there’s no trace of writing to give away identity. Here use this.” Finn gave him a device, a glass circle mounted in brass. “It’s a mage`s seeing eye. Use it.”

Wisp put the cold metal device to his eye, and it sent out brass legs to clamp round his head. The initial shock terrified him, but he kept looking at the paper. Letters began to appear slowly and as he read them, another piece of the puzzle jumped out to tantalise and confuse him.

Sammiel Thorn is dead, executed as befits his station. Meddle in my affairs further and you, Finn Redhaven, will also be killed, as befits your status. I will throw you alive to the hounds.

“The parchment came with this.” Finn gave Wisp a simple gold ring. “Sammiel would never have given up this ring if he was alive. That’s how I knew the words were true. I gave him this ring sealed with my blood as a symbol of our love.” He started to cry.

Without thinking, Wisp placed a comforting hand on his knee as he continued to stare at the paper.

“Finn was with his family the day of the murder.” The soft voice came from the shadows. A huge wolf sat at Wisp’s side and stared at him with the same green eyes as Finn. “His sisters, his mother and all of us will confirm it, and as you know, Law Enforcer, a familiar`s word is binding.”

“I received this parchment when I came to meet Sammiel here,” Finn said. “He said he had news for me. We are- were, looking at how the drug Starlight was getting into the circle.”

Starlight? Wisp grimaced. A nasty drug that causes instant addiction, and users need a higher does every time to repeat the euphoria of the first hit. “Dammit. That shit comes from Finah and makes slaves of its users. You say you found out more was coming in?” Finn wiped his eyes dry, again.

“Yep. Our contact was a goblin, a nasty looking bastard, but in his heart he really cares about his people, circle people.”

“Perhaps Sammiel uncovered the source of the drug. What a mess.”

“You think?” Sarcasm laced Finn’s statement, making Wisp laugh like a lunatic. He left the hut with Finn`s address. He had a feeling that he would be in touch, very soon.

Adele is also a contributor to three anthologies which are available through her Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adele-Park/e/B01G9VHA9W

Connect to Adele through her website and social media.

Website: http://www.adelemariepark.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/firefly.fly.14
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Binky567

Thank you for dropping in today and please do ask your own questions and put them in the comments section of the post. It is your opportunity to delve deeper into the lives of my guests and over the last few weeks it has proved to be a very interesting addition to the interviews.

If you are an author in the Cafe and Bookstore then please get in touch if you would like to do a book reading and interview.  sally.cronin@moyhill.com

If you are not in the bookstore then here are the details of how you can get your books on the shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/

 

My interview with author Dariel Raye on her blog today


Delighted and honoured to have been interviewed by Dariel Raye today on her blog – I hope you will head over…

dariels-covers1

2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What were some of your first steps toward making your dream a reality? How would you say most of your books are conceived? Dreams? Research? Experience?

I began writing poetry when I was about ten but I use the term poetry loosely! I was an obsessive reader however from about the age of six and I was into the classics such as War and Peace consumed when I was 12 and had chicken pox. In 1964 I bought my first Wilbur Smith book and having lived in South Africa was immediately swept up in the family sagas and adventures. I got itchy fingers and began jotting down notes for stories and poems. My mother told me that I had an overactive imagination which used to get me into dreadful scrapes. I blame Wilbur Smith.

Life intruded as it does when you leave school, go to college and then go out to work. I was told to put fanciful stuff on a shelf and get on with earning a living. Which I did until I was 43 years old. I gave up working for other people and retrained as a nutritional therapist. My first book was about me and my struggles with weight (at 43 I had weighed 150kilo or 330lbs). I designed my own weight loss programme and discarded 150 unnecessary pounds in the process. It began as a journal and was never meant to be read by anyone else, but as soon as I held my first book in my hands I knew this was something I could do for the rest of my life. I have been an Indie author for the last 15 years and have absolutely no regrets.

3. I noticed that you write in multiple genres. What are the pros and cons, if any, of writing in more than one genre, particularly fiction and non-fiction?

Read the rest of the interview here….http://www.pendarielraye.com/2016/11/interview-and-spotlight-sally-cronin.html?zx=16b9ff6ac067342b

Smorgasbord Open House – Author Mira Prabhu


New Open House

My guest today, author Mira Prabhu, was born in Bangalore which a cosmopolitan city located in the south of India. In recent years there has been an influx of hi-tech companies which has changed the face of what was once called the Garden City. Mira is author of The Moksha Trilogy which we will find out about later in the interview.

Mira-Sepia

Here is an excerpt from an interview that I did with Mira back in 2014

My British-educated parents were extremely conservative and enforced a strict gender double-standard I grew up resenting: We girls were groomed for the marriage market and expected to be pretty, docile creatures who kowtowed to the patriarchy. It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted nothing to do with this scenario.

Fortunately my parents insisted that both sons and daughters be highly educated. My father even ordered us to speak English at home, rather than our mother-tongue—the idea being that fluency in English would give us a shot at evolving into dazzling doctors and diplomats, the two careers he invariably pushed on his progeny. He himself loved the language and was an amazing raconteur who could keep a party crowd spellbound with his reminiscences and tales of the supernatural.

I inherited my passion for riveting stories from my blood relatives. One memory I cherish goes back to when I was about four: I was sitting in a large sunny room, my head buried in a mesmerizing book of illustrated Russian fairy tales. My mother called out to me, but I did not hear her, so lost was I in the seductive myth of Baba Yaga, the cannibalistic witch of the woods, and the innocent children who wandered into her perilous territory. “You’ll have to give her a good shake if you want her attention,” my father advised my mother with a grin. “Nothing else will work.” And young as I was, I sensed how thrilled he was to have spawned a bookworm.

Here is Mira’s first book Whip of the Wild God, that I read and reviewed in 2014.

WWG-mishi-500px

About the book

Whip of the Wild God catapults you on a wild ride into 1839 BCE India….Ishvari, an angry and spirited girl plucked out of rural poverty to be meticulously groomed by tantric monks, is elected to serve as spiritual consort to Takshak, powerful monarch of Melukhha. Her tumultuous journey–from terrified peasant to glamorous High Tantrika of Melukhha–hurls her into the abyss of addiction.

As she sinks into depravity, Ishvari violates the ancient Melukhhan code of honor, infuriating Rudra-Shiva, the Wild God, and calling forth Takshak’s sadistic revenge. And yet, as Ishvari flees for her life, now a notorious fugitive with a gold price on her head, the fire wisdom teachings she has grasped intellectually as a girl finally blaze into roaring life….here is a magnificent metaphysical saga you will find impossible to put down!

Here is a small selection of reviews for Whip of the Wild God.

“I have read every word and absolutely loved it! Ishvari is a compelling protagonist who I really “felt” as I read of her incredible adventures and personal journey….all of the yoga, tantra and higher teachings are so well presented and woven into the plot. I couldn’t put the book down. I worked in book publishing for seventeen years, at major houses where we published many historical novels, and this is among the best I’ve read….after the first fifty pages, I realized that this is a book that gives me that tingling spine.”

-Jo Sgammato, New York Times bestselling author; General Manager of the Integral Yoga Institute of New York

Engrossing and inspiring By Swami Asokanandaon May 14, 2013

As a monk, if I’m going to read a novel, it needs to add to my understanding of life and why I am here. Plus, hopefully, it engages me so that my mind forgets everything else and is fully absorbed in the story. Whip of the Wild God completely fulfilled all this and more. For anyone looking for a spiritual page-turner, your search is over.

High adventure and spirituality in ancient India. By S. G. Cronin on August 13, 2014

Unless you are living in an isolated island without the benefit of outside communication you will be quite aware of the frantic pace of modern life and the violence against man and nature that seems to be unrelenting. As they say ‘there is nothing new in history!’ Mira Prabhu takes us back to ancient India and a young girl called Ishvari in her remote village.

She has already experienced the harsh reality of life and seeks comfort in a forbidden valley. Ishvari is a free spirit with a touch of wildness about her but she is selected to become one of the most revered women in the nation as a Tantrika whose role is to bring the ruling tyrant back into line by igniting the fires of enlightenment within him. The story could be set in modern day – or a fairy tale from centuries past but the time and setting of this journey by Ishvari to her own enlightenment is both absorbing and addictive.

Mira Prabhu is a wonderful story teller and uses a sensuous rhythm and flow to her plot that takes you through Ishvari’s intensive spiritual training, her turbulent time in the capital and her adventurous and dangerous journey through life. I found the book compelling and with a main character that despite all her spiritual depth had so many human qualities to relate to. The other characters from the monks who teach Ishvari and protect her during her journey to the animals and individuals that she meets on her journey are beautifully portrayed. The book has all the components of a great read and one that will linger in your mind.

Buy Whip of the Wild God http://www.amazon.com/Mira-Prabhu/e/B00CCQ9VQ4

And http://www.amazon.in/Whip-Of-The-Wild-God/dp/1484069544

Now for some exciting news about Mira Prabhu’s latest book Krishna’s Counsel, the second novel in the Moksha Trilogy (Moksha means Freedom in Sanskrit).

KC-Front

The book is being considered by Kindle Scout for a publishing contract and Mira would love your support in nominating the book. If accepted you will receive a free E-version of the book. To give you a flavour of Krishna’s Counsel, here is a little background on the origins and the story from Mira.

‘In the summer of 2008, I found myself trapped in a guesthouse in Rishikesh due to a Shiva festival that raged fiercely on in that colorful mountain town. So I dived into writing a novel that my Manhattan literary agent had much earlier suggested I take on. The result was a rough draft of Krishna’s Counsel. In the years since, a slew of friends, beta readers and crack editors have helped me polish this novel to a gleaming finish. To put the icing on the cake, my friend Mishi Bellamy designed a breathtaking cover. Here is the blurb from the back cover’.

Krishna’s Counsel sweeps you back to sleepy south India in the 1960s, right into the tumultuous life of Pia, a rebellious and brilliant teenager whose world disintegrates under the brutal sword-thrust of an eerie death. It is the loving gift of a magnificent view of eastern philosophy—particularly a poignant scene in the Bhagavad Gita: when Lord Krishna advises the quailing warrior Prince Arjuna to pick up his great bow Gandiva and rout the corrupt foe regardless of the consequences—that saves Pia from certain self-destruction.

Many years later, now a gorgeous woman living in frenetic New York City, Pia is tracked down and coaxed to return to India to deal with an insistent throng of old ghosts. Then horror strikes again, and she is compelled by supernatural agents to heed the timeless advice of Lord Krishna as she finds herself on the trail of a charming psychopath who will stop at nothing to kill her….

To nominate Krishna’s Counsel on Kindle Scout you will need an Amazon account and then head over to the campaign page.

 https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/11AA1JA16VAV5.

Now it is time to find out which questions Mira has chosen to answer in her interview… Welcome Mira…

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

I write Spiritual Fiction (Metaphysical Fiction; Visionary Fiction), although my work could well fall under the genres of Literary Fiction and Women’s Fiction. Why was I drawn to this particular genre? Well, perhaps I can trace the origin of this desire to my reading Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha in my late teens and being enthralled by the way he wove spiritual truths into a classically simple tale set in ancient India.

Hesse’s hero Siddhartha is a Brahmin lad who leaves home against his father’s wishes—because he is convinced that the ultimate freedom he seeks (from egoic desire and fear) cannot be found within his birth matrix. Siddhartha walks the hero’s path: he absorbs much from several gurus but eventually returns to the mundane world. Charming, handsome, highly intelligent and brimming with esoteric wisdom, Siddhartha easily attracts to himself the ‘good things of life’—and yet, soon enough, this sumptuous and indolent lifestyle too turns tedious and boring. Once again he slips away from his moorings and ends up as a humble boatman, ferrying passengers across a river—and it is in this final stage of his life that he wins the supreme prize of permanent inner peace and joy he has always craved.

Siddhartha made such a great impression on me that, during my years in Manhattan, I used to read it aloud to a friend on a single night as an annual ritual! You see, just like Siddhartha, I too realized pretty early on that ordinary life could never satisfy my yearning for permanent inner freedom. Raised in a traditional family in south India, I was baffled and disheartened by the fact that so many chose to live the way they did, generation after generation, minus the powerful yearning that I had been born with to investigate the great truths of life and death. I found the lingering caste system and the layers of society surrounding me hard to digest; the fate of our servants troubled me, and the callous manner in which many women of all classes were treated within an entrenched patriarchy both infuriated me as well as imbued me with a fierce determination to avoid taking that route myself.

I stumbled into the luminous realm of eastern philosophy in my late teens and grew so passionate about the investigation into what is known as Absolute and Relative Reality (https://miraprabhu.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/two-great-truths-absolute-and-relative-reality-real-and-unreal/) that it began to dominate my life and goals. Post-divorce in Manhattan, even as I struggled to stay afloat both emotionally and financially, a friend urged me to write romantic fiction to make quick money. I seriously considered her suggestion, but could not bring myself to do so—I wanted to write books that would stir the soul of a serious reader.

I was always an avid reader and early on began to dive into all forms of mystical literature, including the extraordinary work of Carlos Castaneda and the magical reality genre that came into prominence with writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. Eventually I came up with the notion of writing a trilogy of books about the enlightenment of three Indian women. Two of these three novels (Whip of the Wild God and Copper Moon Over Pataliputra) are set in ancient India; the second in the series, Krishna’s Counsel, is a contemporary novel set both in India and Manhattan and could be classified as Spiritual Crime Fiction. Whip was published in 2013, Krishna’s Counsel will soon be out, and Copper Moon should find her way into the world sometime in 2017. Please check out: https://miraprabhu.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/a-trilogy-of-light-mishi-bellamy-artiste-extraordinaire/)

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

In 2013, after a long association with a reputed Manhattan literary agency, I finally decided to go indie and to self-publish my first novel, Whip of the Wild God. I had quit the corporate mainstream at the eve of the millennium to study in the Himalayas and other remote regions—and so I missed out on the cyber revolution. As a result, I knew zero about self-publishing. In 2013 I began to read about the changes that were sending shock waves through the conventional publishing world; urged by friends and well-wishers, I decided to begin blogging to spread the word about my writing. Fortunately a friend helped me create a WordPress blog—on the masthead are the words: The metaphysical and mundane musings of a maverick female scribe; soon I began to enjoy writing posts with a metaphysical slant. My blog now has over 7000 followers.

If you go to miraprabhu.wordpress.com, on the right hand side you will find a link to my personal posts. Here’s the link to one of my most popular posts, which was picked up by a couple of magazines:

https://miraprabhu.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/the-spider-and-the-blue-throated-god-part-12/

If one of your books was selected to be made into a film; who would you like to play your main character and why?

Almost everyone who reads my work tells me my novels would make terrific movies because they are so vibrant and colourful. Easier said than done, especially since most serious writers can spare neither the time nor the energy to promote ourselves in that direction! That said, about a year ago, a film-maker contacted me out of the blue to inquire whether I would be interested in turning Whip of the Wild God into a movie. I said I was definitely interested, and mentioned that I wanted someone who loved eastern philosophy to produce it. We went back and forth, but due to a serious illness in his family, and other urgent work commitments, the idea eventually fizzled out. During our talks, however, this man suggested that Penelope Cruz play Ishvari, the gorgeous and brilliant protagonist of Whip. I had my doubts about using a foreign actress to play this role, because Indian women in the film profession are not just exotic and lovely but some are excellent actresses. I am not a fan of Bollywood, and almost never watch movies, but recently I saw a clip of Priyanka Chopra, an Indian starlet who has the kind of looks and appeal plus the intelligence that I believe would make a good Ishvari. Let’s see! I’m focussing on finishing my trilogy right now, but when that is done, perhaps I will turn all three books into movie scripts and allow the universe to take over from there.

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

“There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.
― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I love this quote because I have always yearned to commune with those of a mystical bent—especially if their feet are solidly planted on terra firma! A vital distinction is made in eastern philosophy between that which is real and that which is unreal. The real is defined as that which is permanent sand lasting, while the unreal is that which is transient, that which comes and goes.

By this definition, only our consciousness—which alone remains after our body-mind system dissolves back into its constituent elements—is considered real. This teaching has rooted itself so deeply in my heart that apart from enjoying morsels of news relating to people I know, or certain areas that continue to intrigue me, superficial conversations revolving around subjects like fashion, the ever-changing political scene, gourmet cuisine, money, etcetera tend to bore me; as a result, although I have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances all over the globe, I mostly enjoy talking with friends about the path I have chosen to traverse—the Direct Path of Atma-Vichara taught by the world-famous south Indian sage Ramana Maharshi, a subtle but fascinating journey intended to lead a sincere seeker from unreal to real.

My own primary goals are spiritual and creative, and I’m thrilled to discover that one feeds the other. As I deepen my own investigation into both relative and absolute reality, I feel my writing gets richer and more potent.

What are your current projects?

I am currently finalizing Krishna’s Counsel for publishing and simultaneously working on a draft of Copper Moon Over Pataliputra. Once these two novels are out, and my trilogy complete, I will most likely convert all three into audio books and possibly movie scripts.

Connect to Mira:

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Mira-Prabhu/e/B00CCQ9VQ4
Blog: http://miraprabhu.wordpress.com
Facebook Personal: https://www.facebook.com/mira.prabhu
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MiraPrabhuWhipOfTheWildGodEtcetera

My thanks to Mira for such a fascinating look at her life and work and we both look forward to your feedback. It would also be wonderful if you could share on your own networks.

Thanks for dropping in.. Sally

Smorgasbord Open House – USA Today Bestselling Author – Amy M. Reade.


smorgasbord open house two

My guest today, USA Today Bestselling author Amy M. Reade, writes women’s contemporary and gothic fiction. Her books have been compared to authors such as Daphne du Maurier, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt. Amy’s novels feature vivid descriptions of exotic and fascinating locations, such as the Thousand Islands region of New York State, Charleston, South Carolina, and the Big Island of Hawaii.

A former attorney, Amy found that writing was her true calling, and is currently working on a new project, a series set in Edinburgh, Scotland. She loves cooking, reading, and travel. You can visit her website, http://www.amymreade.com where, in addition to information about her books and appearances, you will find a contact form, suggested playlists to go along with her novels, and notes and recommendations on wines.

Amy’s latest book was published in late April and is already receiving terrific reviews.

House of the Hanging Jade cover with USA Today

About House of the Hanging Jade
A dark presence had invaded the Jorgensens’ house. On a spectacular bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, something evil is watching and waiting . . .

Tired of the cold winters in Washington, D.C. and disturbed by her increasingly obsessive boyfriend, Kailani Kanaka savors her move back to her native Big Island of Hawaii. She also finds a new job as personal chef for the Jorgensen family. The gentle caress of the Hawaiian trade winds, the soft sigh of the swaying palm trees, and the stunning blue waters of the Pacific lull her into a sense of calm at the House of Hanging Jade–an idyll that quickly fades as it becomes apparent that dark secrets lurk within her new home. Furtive whispers in the night, a terrifying shark attack, and the discovery of a dead body leave Kailani shaken and afraid. But it’s the unexpected appearance of her ex-boyfriend, tracking her every move and demanding she return to him, that has her fearing for her life . . .

A stunning thriller! By Crystal Gomez on April 27, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition

This was an absolutely stunning thriller! With a captivating storyline, perfect dialogue and extremely complex characters, I was eagerly absorbed into reading this story late into the night. There were tons of twists and turns being revealed throughout the whole story, and it was a blast trying to figure out the culprit in the book. The author’s knowledge and descriptions of all the different food also definitely had me devouring this book as quick as I could! I absolutely enjoyed reading this thrilling book and can’t wait to see what else the author has written!
*I received a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion!

Other Books by Amy Reade

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One of the great reviews for the book 
Outstanding! Could not put it down! By Kathleen Charon on April 29, 2015

I have just finished the Ghosts of Peppernell Manor and literally could not put it down! It is exactly the type of book that I love…..a little bit gothic with the old house and it’s secrets, mysterious death and clean romance. I got exactly what I expected and I enjoyed every minute of escape that this book gave me. I was not able to solve the mystery before the reveal so that was enjoyable for me as well. Overall, a fantastic read!

51ZVVg+UJjL._UY250_A review for Hallstead house

This reminded me quite a bit of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca  By Gina Kelly on July 17, 2014

This reminded me quite a bit of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in that it starts with a young girl in a large house with some dark secrets. Macy is a live-in nurse for an elderly woman, but as soon as she gets to the secluded house, she finds a cold welcome and the distinct feeling she isn’t wanted. I found the mystery to be a good one. Being alone on an island limited the number of people who could be behind the bad deeds, but I still didn’t guess the culprit or motive until the very end. The setting was also very well done. What put me off a bit was the extensive exposition and backstory. Some of it felt like info dump and slowed things down considerably. If the side stories had been trimmed down, I would have enjoyed this mystery even more.

Buy all the books.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/amy+m+reade?_requestid=239322
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/search?Query=Amy%20M.%20Reade%20&ac=1&acp=amy%20m
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/amy-m.-reade/id972561593?mt=11
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/author?id=Amy+M.+Reade
Kensington Publishing: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/author.aspx/29480
Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/

The Blogger
Amy has a terrific blog- https://amreade.wordpress.com/ –  and you will find interviews, guest blogs, book recommendations, recipes and articles on wine. Later on in the post you will find a delicious recipe that will give you a good idea of the food ideas you will find on the blog.

Here is a link to one of her recent author interviews with Phyllis Moore
https://amreade.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/meet-phyllis-moore/

I am now going to hand over to Amy to find out more about her life and work through the questions she has chosen to answer.

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Welcome Amy and 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?

If I could meet anyone from the past, I would choose Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I would want to know all about living in Paris in the early twentieth century- where she liked to go for fun, where she lived, which restaurants she liked to visit, how people dressed.

I would also ask her about her own writing, since as I understand it she was a very good writer whose work was always considered less important than that of her husband.

I’d also want to know about all her friends in Paris- I’d ask about Ernest and Hadley Hemingway, Picasso, Gertrude Stein and, of course, F. Scott.

What I know about Zelda Fitzgerald comes, of course, from the things I’ve read about her. And from that basis of knowledge, I’ve learned that she wasn’t too different from any other person, living or dead. She had her problems, just like everyone else. And one of her problems was the constant struggle to maintain her “self.” I would tell her that I admire her determination and desire to forge and keep her own identity despite living in the overarching shadows of her husband and their friends. I would tell her that her writing and her dancing were good for her. I would tell her that someday doctors would find effective treatments for the mental illnesses she faced and that I’m sorry she had to spend so much of her life fighting her own demons.

Which is your favourite leisure pastime?

It’s a toss-up between reading and cooking, and since I discuss cooking in Question #4, I’ll tell you about my favourite books and authors.

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I’ve had a number of favourite authors, beginning with Carolyn Keene of Nancy Drew fame, continuing with James Herriot, and bringing us up to the present with Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Phyllis Whitney, and M. C. Beaton. My favourite author at any given time depends on my mood.

51J9Xnc8zEL._UY250_murder in the south of france51j0JxV-MZL._UY250_I’m currently reading four books: Murder in the South of France by Susan Kiernan-Lewis, White Nights by Ann Cleeves, Trials Elsewhere by Robin Isard, and The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. It’s not like me to read four books at once- normally I’m a one-at-a-time reader, but things got a bit out of control and I’ll be back to my normal habits as soon as I finish this quartet!

Who is the best actor or actress you have ever seen on television or film and tell us why.

I don’t even have to think about this one. The answer is Cary Grant. I have yet to see a movie starring Cary Grant that I don’t love. Why is he my favourite? I think it’s because his comedic timing is perfect. Whether he’s raising an eyebrow or clearing his throat at just the right moment, or delivering a line in his characteristic tongue-in-cheek manner, he gets it just right and I don’t think he learned that from a director. I think that was just his way.

Incidentally, the two movies I watch over and over again are “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” and “The Bishop’s Wife.” Cary Grant plays opposite Myrna Loy and Loretta Young, respectively. During the Christmas season, “The Bishop’s Wife” is my favourite movie. During the rest of the year, it’s got to be “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.”

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

I love to cook. Baking is my speciality, though as I get older all the baking I do becomes more obvious on my hips and thighs. I’m going to give you two recipes: one is my signature dish, Parmesan Chicken (not to be confused with Chicken Parmesan) and the other is Rhubarb Cake, a dessert which my whole family loves (and it’s easy—not even from scratch! Shhh…).

*Cook’s Disclaimer: neither of these can in any way be considered healthy*

Parmesan Chicken

1 c. seasoned bread crumbs
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
½ c. melted butter
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
½ t. salt (optional)
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

In a shallow bowl combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese; mix well. In another shallow bowl combine butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and salt; mix well.

Dredge chicken through butter mixture, then through bread crumb mixture.

Place chicken in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Pour remaining butter mixture over chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, basting with butter mixture once or twice.

Serves 6.

Rhubarb Cake

1 pkg. (18 ½ oz.) yellow cake mix and ingredients to make it
5 c. diced rhubarb
1 c. sugar
1 c. heavy cream

Mix cake as directed on the package. Pour batter into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Sprinkle rhubarb over batter. Sprinkle with sugar. Pour cream over the top. DO NOT MIX THE LAYERS.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Whilst we enjoy both of those delicious offerings..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.

My work in progress: I have been contracted by my publisher to write a three-book series set in the United Kingdom. Right now I’m working on Book 1, and although I have a working title for it, we haven’t come up with an official title yet. Otherwise I’d share it with you now! The three books will be in the same genre as my first three novels- women’s fiction with a gothic feel to them. I’m very excited about writing these books, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of writing the first in the series. It’s set mostly in Edinburgh and I have a field trip planned for research!

My blog: My goal this year is to increase the number of authors I have on the blog either guest posting or participating in interviews. It’s been a good year so far, and I enjoyed having you on the blog, Sally.

Upcoming events: By the time this posts, I will have attended Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD, US. It’s a convention bringing together writers and fans of traditional and less traditional cozy mysteries, as well as agents and editors.

I’m also planning on participating in a river cruise (a one-day affair) on the St. Lawrence River during the summer with a couple other authors. Since that’s the area where I grew up, I’m very excited about that.

I also have two other author/fan festivals planned for this year: the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival in Suffolk, VA, US, and Bouchercon, in New Orleans, LA, US. It’s going to be a busy year!

Thanks very much for including me in the Open House, Sally. I have enjoyed the experience and will be happy to respond to any questions or comments your readers might have.

Connect with Amy via her website and social media links:

Website: www.amymreade.com
Blog: www.amreade.wordpress.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Facebook: www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/readeandwrite
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/amreade

Thanks to Amy for sharing her interests, books and recipes.. no need to cook lunch today.  As always delighted to receive your feedback and please feel free to share Amy’s interview around the usual haunts.. Enjoy the rest of Sunday.. Sally