Smorgasbord Bookshelf – Meet the Authors 2022 – Personal Recommendations – #Dystopian #Thrillers Terry Tyler, #Poetry Colleen M. Chesebro, #Memoir #Teaching Pete Springer


In this first feature for the Smorgasbord Bookshelf I am sharing authors whose books I have read and can personally recommend along with one of my reviews for their books.

The first author today is Terry Tyler, whose depiction of Britain after pandemics in books written before the current Covid, are almost too close to the truth for comfort… but make compelling reading. With twenty-two books in different genres there is plenty to choose from.

Meet Terry Tyler

Terry Tyler is the author of twenty-two books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Megacity’, the final book in the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy. Also published recently is ‘The Visitor’, a post-apocalyptic murder mystery set in the same world as her popular Project Renova series. She is currently at work on a psychological thriller that centres round an internet dating con, but has not yet finished with devastated societies, catastrophe and destruction, generally. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

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

A small selection of books by Terry Tyler

My review for Megacity June 2021

There is always anticipation when Terry Tyler announces a new release, and having read both Hope and Wasteland, the first two books in the trilogy, Megacity was eagerly awaited.

The author’s version of the future, following a mysterious and fortuitous pandemic, makes for thought provoking reading. The characters Tyler has cleverly crafted could be a member of your family or a neighbour, and it is easy to become invested in their lives and challenges. They are strong and often flawed but most of all they are memorable.

There is little you can do when those in positions of power have narcissistic and psychotic tendencies. They manipulate and deceive from behind a facade that is charming and enviable. Those who have been lied to all their lives and come from desperate living conditions, are perfect prey for these elite, and the price most of them will pay is beyond inhuman.

But there is hope, as those who defy the increasing institutionalisation, and eradication of free will, form groups and networks to spirit some lucky souls to freedom. Away from the technical tethers and government lackeys that watch and monitor every move and emotion in the Megacities. And it is the hope that the author weaves through the story, which keeps you turning page after page as you follow the lives of three victims of the new order.

There are moments when you shudder as you read to what lengths the depraved will go to achieve money and power. There are also times when you weep for the desperate plight of those who blindly accept the promises made offering them a better future. The one thing this book is not short on is emotion.

This is a thriller, a coming of age of a young woman caught up in the evil, affirmation of a mother’s love, the redemption of a lost soul, and the courage of ordinary individuals who are willing to stand up and say ‘No more’.

Although a version of the future that hopefully will never happen, it is a reminder to us all that we need elect the best and most honest leaders. Not an easy task when the public face shown to the world sometimes hides a dangerous truth.

I can highly recommend the trilogy, portraying a very different Britain to the one we are lucky enough to inhabit today.

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

The next author and poet, Colleen M. Chesebro, is a mentor for many of us who aspire to write syllabic poetry and her weekly challenge has created a platform for us to practice the art of writing the various and intriguing formats. This guide to this form of poetry is a must read.

Meet Colleen Chesebro

Colleen M. Chesebro is a Michigan Poet who loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of syllabic poetry.

Along with JulesPaige, Colleen is also a co-editor of “Word Weaving, a Word Craft Journal of Syllabic Verse,” at wordweavingpoetryjournal.com. The debut issue of this journal will publish in October 2021.

Colleen’s syllabic poetry has appeared in various other online publications. Recently, she created the Double Ennead, a 99-syllable poetry form for Carrot Ranch. Colleen’s poetry has poetry in various anthologies and journals including “Hedgerow-a journal of small poems,” and “Poetry Treasures,” a collection of poetry from the poet/author guests of Robbie Cheadle on the “Treasuring Poetry” blog series on “Writing to be Read” in 2020.

Colleen published “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry,” which illustrates how to write various syllabic poetry forms used in her Tanka Tuesday challenges; and a collection of poetry, flash fiction, and short stories called, “Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration,” dedicated to the Summer Solstice. She contributed a short story called “The Changeling,” in the “Ghostly Rites Anthology 2020,” published by Plaisted Publishing House.

Books by Colleen Chesebro

My review for Word Craft Prose and Poetry May 2021

I have enjoyed poetry from childhood and would write stories in verse from an early age. I was introduced to Japanese syllabic poetry when I began participating in Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Tanka Challenge three years ago. At first hesitantly, but then as my confidence grew under her tutelage, I became more adventurous.

Word Craft: Prose and Poetry shares an expanded guide to the various forms of syllabic verse shared on the author’s website, and includes the history and provenance of the traditional and more modern versions. It is fascinating and also humbling that we are in this day and age, creating poetry with such a lineage.

This guide reminded me of how much I still have to learn about the intent of each form and their accepted applications. Nature and the self are prominent, but in some there is a freedom to express emotion, irony and humour. Most forms tell a story and the challenge is to do so with sometimes as few as seventeen syllables and within the framework of the format.

I was very honoured to have some of my challenge pieces included with the talented poets who have participated, and whose poetry brings such pleasure to those who read it in the challenge recap… and that includes the author who always explains the intricacies of a particular form then shows with examples for even beginners to follow.

I recommend this guide and collection for all lovers of poetry who will enjoy the poems shared throughout the book, beginners who are looking for a way to express themselves with brevity, and more experienced poets who are looking for a new challenge. For me as a writer of short stories and novels, writing syllabic poetry has been a great way to learn how to make a few words convey more.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US And:Amazon UKGoodreads: Colleen at Goodreads – Website Wordcraft poetryAuthor blog: Colleen Chesebro Twitter: @ColleenChesebro

The next author is Pete Springer who shared his experiences and wisdom as a teacher for over thirty years, in his memoir They Call Me Mom: Making a difference as an elementary teacher. Having read the book, it made me appreciate even more the impact a good teacher can have on a child’s future.

Meet Pete Springer

My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over three years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.

When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.

I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!

While I was teaching, I decided that one day I would write books for children. That ship is now in the harbor. I took some writing workshops, found a writing critique group, joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), and I recently finished writing my first middle-grade novel. I’ve always connected with kids, and this is my new way of teaching.

My debut MG novel, Second Chance Summer, just got professionally edited, and I will be querying in the coming weeks.

My review for the book February 2021

This memoir of a teacher with over thirty years experience, is an interesting snapshot of the American education system, particularly the elementary school years for 5 to 10 or 11 years old. This is a key period in a child’s life and so important that the skills for learning and development are absorbed during these years.

Pete Springer provides a step by step guide to creating the best environment within a classroom, for learning and as a place of safety and respect. Clearly a dedicated teacher, but also an observer of human nature, Springer provides a manual for new teachers, including how to achieve a rapport with both students and their parents. Importantly of course, creating lesson plans that stimulate and educate, and how to use effective and empathetic methods when dealing with behavioural and discipline issues.

The book it is not just about teaching a curriculum set out by a state education board, but also developing relationships in and out of the classroom with key people in a child’s and a teacher’s life. As the author points out, children come from a multitude of backgrounds with varying family circumstances and one size does not fit all when it comes to treating them as individuals or those in their lives.

With anecdotes of life in the classroom with young minds trying to be one step ahead of you, overeager parents, and absent ones, and differing teaching methods being supported by successive administrators, it is not a 9-5 job. Especially when you are a dedicated educator intent on sending well taught and well-adapted children on to secondary school.

There is much to enjoy by the casual reader looking for an informative and entertaining read, with memories of their own early years rising to the surface, not all as positive as in the classes of Pete Springer.

I do think it is an excellent guide to those who are considering teaching as a career or have just begun their training. Also new teachers trying to find their own style, and a way to connect with their students effectively and the others involved in their lives.

Parents, and to a degree grandparents, would certainly benefit from understanding the complexities of the work of a teacher. Whilst this is written from the perspective of the American education system, children of this age around the world require the same level of dedication and commitment to their well-being.

The author includes some wonderful stories of students (with their names changed) their parents and incidents that will entertain. It is heartwarming to learn about past students who keep in touch, even when they too have become parents with children passing through Springer’s classroom. All of which underline what a caring person and teacher these children were lucky to have in their lives.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – and:Amazon UK – Read more reviews:Goodreads – Website: Pete Springer WordPressTwitter: @OfficerWoof

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books… Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Posts – #Influencers – A Tribute to One of My Role Models by Pete Springer


Recently I shared a short series on people how I considered an been a positive influence in my life, either by teaching me to read and write, that dreams can come true, that human kindness comes in many forms or by helping me transition into a responsible adult.

Of course our parents and other members of the family have a direct impact on who we are today, but for me in addition there are those who came and went in my life, but whilst there, changed the way I looked at life in general and my own future.

This series is about the person you feel has had the most influence on your life and has shaped the person you are today, and what you have achieved. That might be in reaching personal goals or to do with your career.

This is of course also a marketing opportunity for your blog and books, and a showcase of your writing skills.

At the end of the post I have shared the links to my recent series so you can see how it might look when posted.

To kick off this new series, a post from Pete Springer which was shared on his blog earlier in the year and is the perfect example of a tribute to a role model or influencer who has made a difference to your life…

Happy Birthday to One of My Role Models—Val Arizzi

Bravery is usually associated with those who potentially risk their lives each day for us, such as soldiers, police officers, and firefighters. There is no question that we should be grateful for their sacrifices to help keep us safe, but bravery can come in many forms besides those professions.

Some of the most courageous stories that I know of involve immigrants. How fearless do you have to be to come to another country, not speaking the language, knowing very few people, all hoping to improve your family’s life?

One such story involves that of the Arizzi family. Virgilio Arizzi left Genoa, Italy, in 1955 with a dream to create a new life for himself and his family in the United States. He settled in Elk River and went to work for the Senestraro family, who had previously come to America from Italy, on their dairy farm. Two years later, in December of 1957, Virgilio’s wife, Elvira, and their three kids, Ermanno (10), Valerie (6), and Isa (3), sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Genoa to New York City. The two-week sailing trip was miserable for the entire family as everyone suffered from seasickness below deck in the ship’s hold. It was also not a pleasant trip because of the crowded conditions and poor food. Ermanno had taken some English lessons before the family’s departure, and the family relied on his limited English skills to get by during the trip.

The Arizzi Family (Back row—Virgilio, Ermanno, and Elvira.)
(Front row—Val and Isa)


Val Arizzi (what a cutie!)

After coming into New York Harbor, (Ellis Island was closed at the time), the family took the train from New York City to San Francisco with other stops along the way. While they no longer had to deal with seasickness, conditions were frigid, traveling on the train in December.

Reuniting with their dad in Elk River, Ermanno and Valerie attended school in California just one month later. Brave? Yes. Gutsy? Yes. Unthinkable? No, because this was a gamble that many immigrants were willing to take. For the Arizzi’s, it certainly proved to be a good bet. Virgilio went to work for the Senestraro family on their dairy farm in Eureka (Elk River) for many years, and he and Elvira lived a happy life, raising three terrific kids who have gone on to make their mark in the education world. Ermanno was an Ag teacher at Eureka High School for many years. Val taught for a short time at St. Bernard’s and then worked at Humboldt St. Isa still works for North Coast Children Services.

Virgilio and Elvira came to America not speaking any English, but in the late 1960s became American citizens when they passed the citizenship test.

I’m telling this story because, without their bravery, Valerie (Val) would not have become an influential person in my life. Val is celebrating a milestone birthday today, and I want her to know how much I appreciate what she did for me.

Moving from rural North Dakota to California when I was starting high school was a bit of a culture shock for this naïve teenager. I was indeed a fish out of water when I first arrived. Walking into a new high school when I didn’t know anyone was a bit intimidating.

Sometime in my early high school years, Val came into my life as a youth minister for CYO (Catholic Youth Organization). As an impressionable teen, I needed the positive influence that she provided as I found my way. She was a spunky lady with a big personality. I liked her immediately. She had an infectious laugh and was fun to be around. We teased her lovingly, and she could dish it back just as well.

Val and Pete

One of my core beliefs is that we all need role models in our lives, and Val was that for me. People can be leaders in many ways—Val led by example through her actions. I don’t remember all her lessons, but I recall her making me feel good about myself. Val’s actions remind me of one of my favorite quotes by American poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, who once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When I graduated from high school, I was still searching for what I wanted to do with my life. Being around people like Val made me think about working with kids. One of my first educational experiences was as a camp counselor at the same summer camp I attended in high school. I was suddenly in charge of a different group of elementary-age kids each week. It was an enormous responsibility for an eighteen-year-old to be out in the woods on overnight hikes with kids who may have had little to no experience camping before.

I went on to become an elementary school teacher for thirty-one years, and I’d like to think that I was a good role model for my students. I wasn’t a perfect teacher—far from it, but my students knew that I cared and would do whatever I could for them.

My first class (5th and 6th grade) I’m the young-looking guy at the top center.

One of the fun discoveries I learned when writing this article was finding out that I share another connection with the Arrizi’s. I got the opportunity to teach two of the Senestraro boys, Seth and Jesse. They were two of the smartest and nicest students one could ever hope to teach. They have gone on to do important things in their lives. Seth is a dentist; Jesse is a nurse.

I exchanged text messages with Seth when I was about to write this article. He recalled Virgilio living on the farm until his passing and saw him all the time growing up. Seth remembered hearing that Ermanno was a role model in FFA for his stepdad and his uncles. The connections get amazingly deep as Seth got to visit his grandpa’s village in Italy a couple of years ago and met lots of the Arizzi cousins and distant family members. It is a truly remarkable story that from this isolated tiny village of a few thousand people, many Italian families reconnected in Humboldt County in northern California.

When we get a chance to influence someone’s life positively, we should take that opportunity. The metaphor that I think of is that we are like relay runners in a race. Someone hands off the baton to us, and we run with it for as long as we can. We give it our all until it’s time to pass it on to the next runner. I’ve passed on that baton now to my students, and I want them to run like the wind. I wish my good friend, Val, the happiest of birthdays and thank her for carrying that baton to hand off to me.

(left to right) Pete, Val, my amazing wife Debbie, and our dear friend, Joyce

©Pete Springer 2021

My thanks to Pete for sharing this wonderful tribute to Val Arizzi who clearly had an amazing influence on his life and career.

About Pete Springer

I’m a retired elementary teacher (31 years) who will always be a strong advocate for children, education, and teachers. My favorite thing to do as a teacher was to read to my students, and now I’m following my heart and writing children’s books for middle grades.

One of the five star reviews for They Call Me Mom

Pete Springer’s memoir about his first years teaching is a delightful story for new teachers and will have experienced educators nodding along with him. His early experiences remind all of us of the joy inherent in teaching:

“This job required about as much brainpower as my tree planting experience.”
“This is the story of how I fell in love with teaching and the joys and challenges that this noble profession provided to me over the course of thirty-one years.”

He breaks the book into chapters every teacher will understand:

How did i get here
Setting up your classroom
Working with students
Working with colleagues
Working with your boss
Discipline

…and more. Aside from grading, parents, lunch duty, conferences, and yard duty, these are the biggest issues we teachers face. I’m a veteran teacher of thirty years and still I couldn’t wait to read Pete’s take on these timeless issues.

“Instead of saying, “Do everything my way, and you can become a successful teacher,” she was giving me her permission to find my way.”
“…storytelling was one of the most successful methods to get my students to pay attention.”
“…when we lose our calm, we are teaching them that it is okay to behave in this manner when something is not going right.”

Every new teacher will benefit from Pete’s daily experiences of what in the end results in a journey well traveled with more importance than most of us would car eto admit. Educational philosophies change. Favorite tools like iPads and Chromebooks change. What never changes is the fundamentals that Pete covers in this book:

“…tell the kids when I made similar mistakes growing up.”
“I do think that it is possible for parents or schools to provide too many rewards for kids.”

Overall an excellent book. If you’re a new teacher, I’d call this an essential read prior to your first day.  

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – and:Amazon UK – Read more reviews:Goodreads – Website: Pete Springer WordPressTwitter: @OfficerWoof

Some guidelines.

  • If you look back at your life, who would you say had the most influence on who you are today or your life’s achievements?
  • It might be a parent, grandparent, or other relation, perhaps a teacher, employer or someone who you only encountered for a brief period, but changed the course of your life in a positive way.
  • It might be someone you have never met but influenced you in another way such as by their actions or a book that you read by them. This is a tribute to that person.
  • It can be a post your have already written or one that is unpublished.
  • If already published just send me the link.
  • I will top and tail the post with the usual links and a recent review etc.
  • This is an opportunity to show off your writing skills and to encourage readers to follow your blog or buy your books…dress to impress.

What I need from you sent to my email sally.cronin@moyhill.com

If you are have been promoted here before.

I just need your word document 1000 to 1500 words and two or three photographs to break up the text.. perhaps of you at that stage in your life or one of the person who you are writing about.

If they are an author then an Amazon link so I can copy the cover of their book or books with a link.

If you have not been featured on the blog before

  • In addition to the word document and photographs for the post I will need your information.
  • A profile photograph, up to date biography, social media links for website or blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.
  • If you are an author your Amazon Author page, Goodreads and Bookbub if you are there too.

Once I have received your post

  • I will schedule and let you have the date.
  • On the day of publication I will send you a link for the post.
  • It would be great if you could share your post on your social media.
  • I ask that all comments are responded to individually as it does make a difference to the number of times the post is shared.
  • When shared on social media I will tag you if you are on that platform and it would be great if you could thank the person who has shared the post..

I am looking forward to discovering the amazing people who have inspired you and sharing them here in this series… get in touch… thanks Sally.

 

Look forward to hearing from you soon… Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Reblog – Tribute to a long term friend and mentor – The Gift that Keeps Giving by Pete Springer


Since WordPress no longer allows me to ‘press’ a post and therefore schedule into this 6pm slot without converting to the new block editor, I have resurrected by reblog heading. It is not going to stop me sharing the good stuff!

A wonderful tribute to a long term friend and mentor by Pete Springer.: The Gift that Keeps Giving

While it’s important to find leaders who mentor and provide guidance when starting any pursuit, it is especially true in education. It is my pleasure to write about one such individual who has been a source of inspiration to me for almost forty years. If you already know Nancy Wheeler, you probably look up to her as a person or educator. If you’ve never met Nancy before, it brings me great joy to introduce her.

I first met Nancy when I was doing my student teaching at Pine Hill School in 1983-84. In those days, unless you had experience working in schools, student teachers did not have any on the job training until their fifth year of schooling. (I’m glad to see that this practice has changed because earlier educational opportunities make far more sense.)

Since student teachers were assigned a master teacher, a college student had no idea if that educator would become a source of inspiration or a complete dud. I hit the lottery when it came to master teachers.

I spent most of my student teaching year with a fabulous role model and teacher, Cynthia Van Vleck, in her sixth-grade classroom. She held the unusual position of teaching principal. From the first hour in her classroom, it was clear I was watching a master of the craft. She was a charismatic and talented teacher who could hold an audience’s attention. I modeled much of my teaching style based on her approach—firm, fair, and consistent. While always remaining in control, she wasn’t afraid to have fun with her students. We were a good match in that respect.

Partway through my student teaching year, it was time to switch classrooms. Current practice now involves teachers splitting their placements equally, usually going to a different school. In my experience, I walked a few doors down and went from sixth-grade to second-grade for the next three weeks.

Nancy Wheeler had a different teaching style than Cynthia but was equally effective. Nancy modeled her approach after famed educator, Madeline Hunter. Hunter’s model gained such fame in the 1970s and 1980s that it became known as the Madeline Hunter Teaching Method. While space doesn’t allow me to go into great depth here, her approach encouraged teachers to follow the same seven-step procedure whenever teaching a lesson. Much of what I had learned until then was that the teacher largely disseminated information to students. One key element I learned from Nancy was the use of student collaboration.

As someone who was still finding his way, the biggest takeaway for me was that there was more than one way to be an effective teacher. Cynthia and Nancy were two of the best teachers I saw during my thirty-one-year career. What luck for me to meet them at such an impressionable age!

Please head over to read this wonderful tribute in full: The Gift that Keeps Giving by Pete Springer

 

One of the recent reviews for the book

Avid Reader 5.0 out of 5 stars A book I wholeheartedly enjoyed  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 July 2020

Today, more than ever, children need role models and so do adults, parents too. And we need to re-learn basic responsibility and how this is a two way road.

Finding your inner voice and passion is what we all need to discover and Pete Springer paints us a vivid image in this book.

This is an entertaining read based on first hand experiences dripping with humor.

A book I wholeheartedly enjoyed although I already brought up two children.
A must read, wether you are a teacher or a parent. Grandparent too.

Pete Springer, Buy: Amazon US and: Amazon UK – Website: Pete Springer WordPressTwitter: @OfficerWoof

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -Summer 2020- Pot Luck – #Blogging – Meet Margie and Tony by Pete Springer


Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives… and I will be picking two posts from the blogs of those participating from the first six months of 2020. If you don’t mind me rifling through your archives… just let me know in the comments or you can find out the full scope: Posts from Your Archives – Pot Luck – 2020

This is the second post from author Pete Springer and this week I have selected a post which showcases a couple who blog about their travels… definitely one to follow.

  Meet Margie and Tony

One of the things I enjoy most about blogging is getting to know interesting people from around the globe. A few months back, I came across a delightful couple named Margie and Tony, who were traveling around the country in their campervan and sharing stories of the unique places they’ve visited. You can find them at Back Roads and Other Stories. I encourage you to check out their blog and learn about some of the fascinating areas they have visited.

I recently reached out to them and proposed an interview, which they graciously agreed to do. Rather than writing anymore, I think the best way to get to know them better is to read the interview.

1. How did you come up with the idea to blog about the places you travel to?

The idea of writing about our travels was always in the back of our minds. We started a blog about 10 years ago to accompany a road trip to Newfoundland so that our daughters can follow along. After that trip, we went on a few long trips that we didn’t document in any way other than the occasional post on Facebook and taking photographs, and we found that we forgot a lot of detail with time. Places, activities, special encounters, etc. all blended in or faded away. When we bought the campervan, it seemed like a great starting point for a new blog. We wanted to record our travels, our adjustment to RV life, and as it happens, our life during COVID-19. Now that we have more than a hundred posts, we are hooked…

2. Have you always liked to travel?

Yes! We both came from families that liked to travel, and we both moved a lot as children. Our parents went through some tremulous times during the second world war (each one of them in a different country and under different circumstances, yet all four had incredible stories to tell), which may have planted in us a seed of adventure as well. In our twenties, we backpacked through Europe and Asia; we would work, save money, travel, and repeat.

Once our family grew and we settled down in Canada, we had many long road trips with our kids; we travelled to Israel, to the USA, and in Canada. We were those terrible parents that would pull their kids out of school to take them on road trips, but each and every trip had an immense impact on their growth, learning, and world view and we have no regrets.

Once we moved to the farm with some livestock responsibilities, demanding jobs, and the kids’ school, we had to cut down on travel, and on many occasions, we traveled separately because someone had to stay and look after the horses. For a few years, travel consisted of conferences and the occasional business trip taken separately, but once the girls were grown up and we had someone to look after the horses, we were able to go on road trips together once again.

Eventually, our horses passed away one by one; the horse that we thought will outlive us, passed at the ripe age of 34, and when he passed, just like that, we were free to travel with no restrictions again (other than a bit of work commitments).

3. As you approach retirement, is this something both of you knew you wanted to do for quite some time?

Yes, we spent the past few years taking long walks in the forest, envisioning just how we will travel again after our retirement. There was no doubt that we would, but we weren’t sure whether we wanted to get some kind of an RV, or continue traveling as we did before with a combination of camping, hotels, and rentals. We ended up choosing a campervan that was suitable for road trips, especially with our dog, Emma. We decided to buy the van before we retire and try it out on a couple of trips. It was a good call since we needed to postpone our retirement a bit and were able to enjoy both travel and work (sometimes simultaneously). We love the freedom and flexibility of hopping in the van and going on a trip without booking places to stay. Once we actually retire, we will be able to go for longer and even more flexible trips.

4. Do you have any family considerations that would make it difficult for you to travel for extended periods? (Parents, children, grandchildren, pets?)

No, we are empty nesters. Our daughters are all grown up. I mentioned before that we had horses, which really limited our ability to travel, but now that they are gone, it is no longer a constraint. We still live on the farm, which is a small piece of paradise and requires a bit of upkeep, but other than that, we are free to travel.

A bit of a side story is that our youngest daughter moved back to Canada from England, and our grand plan was that they will live in our house while we travel. As best laid plans go, COVID-19 happened just after they arrived, and we had to stay put, keeping them in captivity with us. Luckily we all get along!

Having Emma with us had some travel limitations, and when she got sick, it was even harder (think having a dog that has the runs in an RV park…). She passed away a year ago, and although it freed us to go into every museum that we wish to and for as long as we want, we miss her dearly. The only obstacle between travel and us is the COVID-19 travel restrictions, but we will ride it out and be ready to roll as soon as we can!

5. Where have been some of your favorite places to visit so far? Why?

This list can be very long! We’ll try and come up with a few frontrunners.

The Far East was an incredible place to visit, trekking in Nepal, visiting Burma when you could only get a visa for one week (we tried to see as much as we could during this short time) and living and working in Japan were all incredible experiences for us. The desert is one of our favorite places to visit, and we spent some time in the Mojave Desert boondocking in our van.

We hiked in the several deserts in Israel and in the high desert in Colorado—all amazing places that we hope to write about.

One of the most special places that we had visited in Canada is the Island of Newfoundland; the landscape, the people, and the unique culture captivated us, and we would love to go back one day!

We mentioned working during travel, and one of the most enjoyable things we did was work as extras in a movie in the Philippines. All the extras were trucked to a location in the mountains where we went to war in a Santiago post-apocalyptic movie. We made life-long friends during that time, which made it special. It will always be associated with that place, and both become extra special.

6. Your blog is called Back Roads and Other Stories. Does the title of your blog give away that you enjoy visiting rural or lesser-known places?

Yes, it does, but it also implies that we like other stories. Some of those stories can be found in cities, along freeways, or in our backyard. The back roads can be more relaxing to travel on, and since we don’t need to get anywhere in a hurry, we can stop and experience things along the way. Remember those times driving on the freeway, and by the time you saw a sign for a really interesting place, you passed the exit, so you just let it go? We just don’t like missing those places.

This is also a sneaky way to allow us to write just about anything! Tony’s Carpentry projects, Margie’s archaeological experience, homesteading – the list is endless. One of the rules of blogging is to find a niche and focus on it. It looks like our niche is being eclectic and unfocused.

7. Where are some places that you hope to visit in the future?

Everywhere, but that may not be very realistic.

We have plans to visit Northern Quebec and Northern Ontario as soon as travel is safe again. We had a plan for a cross-Canada trip and a visit to Alaska, but that was put on hold due to the pandemic. We hope to visit the western US again, especially Nevada and Utah, and perhaps continue to Oregon.

We would love to spend a couple of winters in Arizona again and explore the desert some more, but this list may change at any time, and some other exciting travel opportunity may come up!

8. How are you planning to chronicle your travels? This blog? Photographs? A book? Other?

For now we are utilizing our blog and photography to document our travels and other stories as they unfold. We share our photos and stories on our Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter, but publishing a book has always been a dream. Perhaps one day…

I don’t often recommend checking out other blogs to my friends, but this one deserves your attention. Finding something you are passionate about is one of the keys to retirement, and I’d say that Margie and Tony are well on their way. I encourage you to ride along with them as they explore the back roads and other unique places.
Share this:

©Peter Springer 2020

About Pete Springer

My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over two years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.

When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.

I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!

One of the recent reviews for the book

Avid Reader 5.0 out of 5 stars A book I wholeheartedly enjoyed  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 July 2020

Today, more than ever, children need role models and so do adults, parents too. And we need to re-learn basic responsibility and how this is a two way road.

Finding your inner voice and passion is what we all need to discover and Pete Springer paints us a vivid image in this book.

This is an entertaining read based on first hand experiences dripping with humor.

A book I wholeheartedly enjoyed although I already brought up two children.
A must read, wether you are a teacher or a parent. Grandparent too.

Pete Springer, Buy: Amazon US and: Amazon UK – Website: Pete Springer WordPressTwitter: @OfficerWoof

Thanks for dropping by today and I know that Pete would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -Summer 2020- Pot Luck – The Humor of Life by Pete Springer


Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives… and I will be picking two posts from the blogs of those participating from the first six months of 2020. If you don’t mind me rifling through your archives… just let me know in the comments or you can find out the full scope: Posts from Your Archives – Pot Luck – 2020

This is the first post from author Pete Springer and this week I have selected a post that offers opportunities for humour in life… something we could all use right about now…

The Humor of Life


Today, I got quite a laugh when I opened the mail and found an unexpected check waiting for me. What’s so humorous about that? Shouldn’t I be planning on where to spend my good fortune? That’s where the funny part comes in. If you look closely, you will see that the check is for six cents. I’m sure I’ve never received a smaller check in my life.

Most people would not be bothered by something so trivial, but then I’m not “most people.” Moments like these are what make life hysterical. How often does the postage cost more than the check itself?

As American radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, “And now, the rest of the story.” Most people hate the process of buying a vehicle because they don’t like high-pressure sales tactics. I can still remember buying my first vehicle (a pumpkin orange, 1973 Chevy Nova) from King Richard’s Cars. After that experience, I realized I needed to get better at the car buying game. I wasn’t in control, and I didn’t like that feeling. Since then, I walk into a car dealership much more informed and in control of the negotiations process. A few months back, I wrote about my latest car buying experience. Waging War at the Car Dealership  

One of the biggest consumer rip-offs is the old interest game, and yet so many of us continue to play. Banks and other lending institutions are modern-day loan sharks. Rather than donate thousands of dollars of interest over the next four-five years, I decided to pay off my loan as quickly as possible.

My wife wrote the last check to settle the balance, and the pink slip should be arriving any day. In the meantime, we must have slightly overpaid, and I was issued my six-cent refund check.

I can hardly wait to go into my bank in the next couple of days and hand over my check to see the reaction from the teller. “Would you like that in cash or deposited directly into your account? How would you like your money, sir?” Now that’s a tough decision. Should I ask for a nickel and a penny, or six pennies? Maybe I’ll ask for a dime and offer four cents in return.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. This guy has too much time on his hands if he’s thinking about all of this useless stuff. What can I tell you? That’s the way my mind works.

It’s just that life offers us the best humor if we’re paying attention. Who would have dreamed fifty years ago that we’d be paying over a dollar for a bottle of water? Who knew I’d have to stay on hold for over thirty minutes with the cable company to figure out what’s wrong with my television remote? (More than likely, it’s the guy operating it.)

One of my favorite types of humor is irony. I recall reading a newspaper story of a traffic cop who got his license suspended for failing to pay his parking tickets. What’s better than reading a Facebook post written by someone who’s complaining about how useless Facebook is? One of my favorite real-life stories of irony involves a good friend of mine. He now manages the same apartment complex he once was evicted from. Priceless!

In the meantime, keep an eye out for me. I’ll be the guy on television in a few years doing an Infomercial about how I turned my six cents into millions. The good news is you’ll only have to pay $99 to find out how you can do it, too, with my “proven system.”😎

©Peter Springer 2020

About Pete Springer

My name is Pete Springer. I taught elementary school for thirty-one years (grades 2-6) at Pine Hill School in Eureka, CA. Even though I retired over two years ago, my passion will always lie with supporting education, kids, and teachers.

When I came out of the teaching program many years ago, I realized how unprepared I was for what was in store for me in the classroom. My college education focused mostly on learning theory rather than the practical day-to-day challenges that all teachers face. Thankfully, I had some great mentors to lean on to help support me in the early part of my career.

I have made it my mission to pay it forward to the next generation of teachers. I was a master teacher to four student teachers, and I have several former students who are now teachers, including one who teaches at my former elementary school. That is pretty cool!

One of the recent reviews for the book

Avid Reader 5.0 out of 5 stars A book I wholeheartedly enjoyed  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 July 2020

Today, more than ever, children need role models and so do adults, parents too. And we need to re-learn basic responsibility and how this is a two way road.

Finding your inner voice and passion is what we all need to discover and Pete Springer paints us a vivid image in this book.

This is an entertaining read based on first hand experiences dripping with humor.

A book I wholeheartedly enjoyed although I already brought up two children.
A must read, wether you are a teacher or a parent. Grandparent too.

Pete Springer, Buy: Amazon USand: Amazon UK – Website: Pete Springer WordPressTwitter: @OfficerWoof

Thanks for dropping by today and I know that Pete would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update -#Reviews – #Anthology M.J. Mallon, #Fantasy D. Wallace Peach, #Memoir #Teaching Pete Springer


Welcome to the first of the Cafe updates this week with recent reviews for books on the shelves.

The first review is for the recently released collaborative anthology with contributions from around the world, compiled by Marjorie Mallon, which also included her three month diary of life under lock down and some of her creative flash fiction and poetry.  I can recommend This is Lockdown which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago.

About the collection

An anthology and compilation of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, contributions from the ‘isolation writers,’ plus poetry written during the time of lockdown in the UK. This Is Lockdown is written from a writer’s perspective highlighting the simple pleasures of day-to-day life during such an uncertain and frightening time. It also gives a glimpse of the blogging, writing world. The book showcases several authors and their thoughts on what it is like to experience ‘isolation’ as a writer. I also discuss the handling of the pandemic and my thoughts on what might happen next. In the final part of the book I include my latest short story idea: a YA romance and various short pieces of poetry, and flash fiction inspired by the pandemic.

The full list of authors are:

Richard Dee, (Sci Fi , Steampunk, Amateur Detective author,) Catherine Fearns, (Amazon Bestselling Author of Police Procedural/Mysteries and Music Journalist,) Lynn Fraser, (Humorous Dark Comedy,) Jackie Carreira, (Writer, musician, designer and aspiring philosopher,) Willow Willers, (Poet and writer,) Sharon Marchisello, (Murder Mystery, Financial non-fiction,) Fi Phillips , (Copy writer, Author,) Jeannie Wycherley, (dark stories, suspense, horror,) Chantelle Atkins, (urban fiction, teen/YA,)Tracie Barton Barrett, (Speaker/author,) Peter Taylor Gooby, (Crime, Love Stories, Political Fiction,) Ritu Bhathal, (Chick Lit romance, poet,) Alice May , (Author, Artist and Speaker,) Miriam Owen, (Reader, Blogger, Post Doctoral Researcher and Academic,) Drew Neary and Ceri Williams (Ghost Horror, Supernatural,) Katherine Mezzacappa, (Historical Fiction/Romance,) Sally Cronin, (huge supporter of indie community/blogger/author) Debby Gies (D G Kaye), (Memoirist/NonFiction,) Adele Marie Park, (Fantasy, horror, urban fantasy,) Marian Wood, (blogger, poet and writer.) Samantha Murdoch, (Writer, Blogger,) Beaton Mabaso (blogger, African storyteller.).Frank Prem (Poet, Author) Anne Goodwin (Author, Book Blogger) Sherri Matthews (Writer, Photographer, Blogger) Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val – Community Masks for The NHS .

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Jul 23, 2020 D.G. Kaye rated it Five Stars

MJ Mallon begins this heartening book with a stunning foreword to mark the times that are sure to become part of a testament of our times in history on the 2020 global pandemic Covid19 that has rocked our collective world.

The book is broken down into three parts – Daily diary entries from the author, writer’s testaments, and thoughts in flashfiction/nonfiction stories, and poetry. Each contributing author evoking their experiences and thoughts.

Mallon has covered and documented life in lockdown, tracking events as they happen and the human condition scrutinized for its affects with shared incidents, displaying fears, finances, health concerns, and what a potentially killer disease portends. Her diaries touch on emotion as MJ expresses her own fears and concerns and observations at the days and weeks progress in lockdown.

Common threads I noticed from all writers: Loss of writing muse and creativity, restructuring of family life and function, adjusting to lockdown, and for many – overwhelming online ‘everything’ now, cutting into a writer’s work time and creativity.

This book is for everyone, for we all share the same common Covid fears and adjustments in this very world we all live in. A recommended read for reflection and to reinforce, we are not alone.

Head over to read the reviews and buy the collection : Amazon UK

And : Amazon US

Other books by M.J. Mallon

M.J.Mallon, Buy:   Amazon US – And  Amazon UK Website: M.J. Mallon – Goodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon

The next author is D. Wallace Peach with a recent review for Soul Swallowers (The Shattered Sea Book 1)

About the book

When swallowed, some souls gift insights, wisdom, a path to understanding. Others unleash power, proficiency with a sword, and indifference to death. One soul assimilates with ease. But swallow a host of the dead and risk a descent into madness.

Estranged from his family over the murder of his wife, young Raze Anvrell wields his fists to vent his rage. Then a chance at a new life beckons, and he retreats to the foothills of the Ravenwood, the haunt of unbound ghosts. He and his mentor build a freehold, a life of physical labor and the satisfaction of realizing a dream. They raise horses and whittle by the fire until the old man dies, and Raze swallows his first soul.

When his brother reaches out, open wounds begin to scar. But the tenuous peace won’t last. While those who rule the Vales yield to the lure of their ambitions, slavers of Ezar roam the countryside, hunting for human chattel. While one man manipulates the law, another heeds the souls of violence howling in his head.

Raze too listens to his soul’s whispers, and as danger intrudes on his quiet life, he has no choice but to return to his father’s world and join the fight.

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

Jul 01, 2020 James rated it Five Stars it was amazing

The title of this book and its series drew my interest: Soul Swallowers, the first in D. Wallace Peach’s The Shattered Sea collection. Though I’m not much of a fantasy reader, the story was intriguing. Would someone swallow a soul for a good or bad reason, perhaps both? How does a sea shatter? After checking out the author’s blog and reading some of her own book reviews, this seemed like a great opportunity, so I purchased the book and read it last week. Now I get to share my thoughts with you…

The first few scenes are amazing. I quickly connected with the characters and the potential for this story. Raze was a fantastic protagonist, and I’m a sucker for love. His father, on the other hand, was definitely not a man to admire–but as a character, he was spot on. Stuck between love and loyalty, he had to make a decision, and Raze unfortunately will suffer the consequences. Immediately, the book grabs your attention and confirms you’re about to embark on a wild ride. From there, the story spans several years of Raze’s life, where he swallows souls, meets new friends and family, and learns how to survive in a world he cannot stand. Life is tough for those struggling in these lands, and the epic battle to win the war has only just begun.

Peach writes thrilling descriptions and settings. I could feel many of the backgrounds surrounding me as I read each chapter. Sometimes they felt realistic, others I knew I’d been transported to some fantastical foreign place. Ultimately, the story is about character relationships and the need to protect the future. While there are elements of fantasy and science-fiction, there is a fine balance so that readers have a solid foundation to ground them. I found myself more interested in the bonds Raze develops, the need and desire to free those around him from servitude. There is something strong in the moral tones and ethics of these characters that is highly admirable.

The writing quality is strong, and it is easy to read and stay connected. I’m curious what will happen in the future books. The cover is brilliant, and I love the imagination Peach brings to each and every scene and character. I got a Game of Thrones feel in the beginning… I’ve watched enough of the tv series to get a feel for its style, though I’ve never read the books. I’m keen to learn more about the true nature of a soul, and how it develops once it becomes part of another human being. A good read, glad I sampled from a different genre, and I would recommend it for most fantasy lovers.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A small selection of of other books by D.Wallace Peach

D. Wallace Peach, Buy:  Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Diana: Goodreadsblog: Myths of the Mirror – Twitter: @Dwallacepeach

The final review today is for the memoir of retired teacher Pete Springer. They Call Me Mom

About the book

Who Will You Inspire Today? Teachers face this challenge and responsibility each day, but in the process, the author discovers that his students can also have a profound influence on him. Pete Springer takes you on his memorable thirty-one-year journey in education as an elementary school teacher and offers the many valuable life and teaching lessons he learned along the way. Get ready to laugh out loud at some of the humorous and memorable experiences that all teachers face, feel inspired by the inherent goodness of children, and appreciate the importance of developing a sense of teamwork among the staff.

Learn valuable tips for working with children, parents, fellow staff members, and administrators. This book is ideal for young teachers, but also a reminder to all educators of the importance and responsibility of being a role model. This book is a must-read for all new teachers and those teachers that need a reminder they are human! Mr. Springer educates others in his easy-to-read, story-like, first-hand manuscript. You will laugh, cry, and get motivated to be the best educator you can. After reading this, I have a better outlook on relationships with my colleagues and am reminded to savor every moment. -Tami Beall (Principal, Pine Hill School)

One of the recent reviews for the book

Avid Reader 5.0 out of 5 stars A book I wholeheartedly enjoyed  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 July 2020

Today, more than ever, children need role models and so do adults, parents too. And we need to re-learn basic responsibility and how this is a two way road.

Finding your inner voice and passion is what we all need to discover and Pete Springer paints us a vivid image in this book.

This is an entertaining read based on first hand experiences dripping with humor.

A book I wholeheartedly enjoyed although I already brought up two children.
A must read, wether you are a teacher or a parent. Grandparent too.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

Pete Springer, Buy: Amazon US and:Amazon UK – Website: Pete Springer WordPressTwitter: @OfficerWoof

 

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you have found some books to take away with you..thanks Sally.