Writing the Legend of the Golden Flower by Paul Andruss


Tayu (1870 Portrait – Unknown – Public Domain)

A number of things inspired the new Legend of the The Golden Flower Story for Christmas Smorgasbord. It is about the loss of childhood innocence and poses the question: What is truth?

As a child I read a Japanese folktale about the chrysanthemum. It was in one of those ‘Stories from Around the World’ books, we must have all been bought as kids for Christmas. In the story a girl with a dying mother, does an old man a kindness. He is a powerful spirit (kami). He rewards her. Her mother will live a month for each petal on a chrysanthemum flower. Only a few petals remain, so she cuts them into slivers, creating the much loved chrysanthemum pompom and giving her mother a long life.

Imperial Japanese Chrysanthemum seal & cultivated variety (Adapted)

The chrysanthemum was cultivated in China 3,500 years ago. It was arrived in Japan around than 2,000 years later. One legend says the Chinese Emperor sent the chrysanthemum to Japan hoping to exchange it for the magical herb of youth, so he could become immortal. When the flower arrived in Japan the 16-petal chrysanthemum became the symbol of the sacred Emperor.

The story is set in the 1650s during the Edo period of Japanese history. In the Edo period, chrysanthemum growing took off and endless varieties were created. During the Edo period Japanese culture blossomed. After centuries of civil war the country was at peace under a strong warlord (shogun) dynasty. Traditional Kabuki theatre originated in the Edo period. I wanted to incorporate the story of kabuki as it always fascinated me. I only learned over the past year it started out as an entertainment revolution.

In the Edo Period, large numbers of young Samurai warriors were made redundant by their warlords. They became Ronin – without a master. Ill-suited to work they ended up as hooligan gangs. Izume no Okuni was going out with a ronin samurai. She was a “priestess” (your guess as to her actual duties are as good as mine).

To make money for her boyfriend she started busking: singing and dancing in Kyoto. Like a Japanese Madonna she dressed outrageously and became a star. She taught a troupe of women a mixture of burlesque and farce, and set up a theatre company – think Bette Midler and the Harlettes. They were a massive success and so wild they were called the Kabukimono: the crazy ones.

Izume no Okuni (Unknown: Public Domain)

The Shogun banned them because they were causing public disorder and represented a satirical seditious element in a country only recently tamed. The fact they knocked about with bad-boy samurai didn’t help. He accused the kabukimono of being prostitutes. To be fair he was right. In Japan prostitution was not viewed like it was in the West. It was a career. His clamp-down created ‘business’ districts. In Kyoto this was Shimabara.

The story’s brothel owner is Yarite-San. Yarite means Madam. San at the end shows respect. She calls her old apprentice Fujiko-chan. Fujiko, a woman’s name, means Wisteria. Chan is a term of endearment. Yarite-San has black painted teeth. The Emperor’s court painted their teeth with black enamel. As most people had bad teeth, I though this levelled the playing field.

The opposite was true. It was a lengthy and expensive procedure, done weekly, to prevent tooth decay.

Prostitution was organised in Japan. There were different levels, from street walkers to high class escorts. The lowest prostitutes were kept in behind bars. No, not bars as in “do you fancy going for a drink after work?” This was to stop clients pawing them before paying up.

Yoshiwara_Girls (Kusakabe Kimbei – Public Domain)

High class escorts were orian. As skilled entertainers, they offered more than horizontal services. The highest orian (Japanese use the same word for singular and plural nouns) were called Tayū.

The charge for one night with a tayū cost more than working blokes earned in a year. Tayū were skilled in music, dance, flower arranging, poetry and the all-important tea ceremony. Clients had to go through a middleman to meet a tayū.

Shimabara Tayu (mfa.Org)

Tayū eventually became geisha (Art-Person). Originally geishas also offered personal services. Today they are strictly entertainers with no extras.

Young girls were sold to brothels at the age of 10 by poverty stricken parents. They became maids to the courtesans. Around 14 they became trained in artistic skills and worked their way up the courtesan grades. Officially they did not start sleeping with clients until 18 or 19.

Believe that if you will. Like in lots of other countries, including 18th century Europe, their virginity was sold to the highest bidder.

Girls were given 10-year apprentice contracts. When they paid the Yarite back they were free to leave. Very few did. Clothes, make-up and training cost money – they were kept in debt.

The Yarite made 90% on every deal. Depressingly syphilis was rife and abortion practices barbaric, many girls died young.

If a girl was lucky, a rich man might buy her contract and she would become his courtesan or even his wife. As wife or courtesan she was property with no rights. He could kill her with impunity.

Japan isolated itself in the Edo period and did not let foreigners back in until the American Pacific expansion after the 1899 American war in the Philippines. (Theodore Roosevelt fought in that as young man.) This is what Puccini’s 1903 opera Madam Butterfly is about: the affair between a geisha and an American Naval Officer.

The Chief Warlord in the Edo period was called the Shogun, like the book by James Clavell. The book is based on fact. A British pilot on a Dutch ship got to Japan, which had previously been the domain of the Portuguese. He lived during the reign of my shogun’s granddad.

Like all warrior societies homosexuality was tolerated in Japan, as it was in Ancient Greece and Rome and among the Janissaries in the Ottoman Empire. In many societies, masculinity was defined in terms of who was on top. Homosexuality and prostitution was not outlawed until Japan started adopting Western ideas in the 1900s.

Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu (Public Domain)

When shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, banned women performing in Kabuki, the troupes became all-male. Happily this did not stop Kabuki being associated with prostitution. Pretty young boys playing the female roles were in a lot of demand.

Tokugawa Iemitsu preferred boys to girls, although he had lots of wives, concubines, and children by them. At 20 he murdered his samurai male lover in a hot tub after a spat. He ordered his popular brother to commit ritual suicide (seppuku).

Tokugawa Iemitsu was not a fan of foreign influences, especially Christianity. There were half a million Christians in Nagasaki. (Yes, the city we dropped the atomic bomb on was the biggest Christian city in Japan.) He threw out foreigners, including the Christian priests, and demanded Japanese Christians renounce their faith. There was a rebellion in Nagasaki. He crushed it mercilessly, crucifying the rebels.

The Japanese religion of Shinto, believes everything has a soul and the spirit world intermingles with ours. After 100 years even tools and household objects acquire a soul.

Creatures that never made the final cut of the story include an umbrella kami (spirit) and a possessed lute that encouraged to girl to play beautifully. They were taken out because they slowed down the story.

Creatures the girl meets are genuine kami (spirits) and Yokai (demons); lovingly told to her by her mother’s maid. My favourite is the Kitsune, the fox kami. Foxes are semi-divine guardians of shrines. When a fox reaches 50 years old, it learns how to shapeshift into a woman. At 100, it becomes a celestial fox with 9 tails.

Finally, if you haven’t dropped off …

I said at the beginning, this story is also about truth.

It is never explicitly said whether the spirits and demons the girl sees are real. Everything is there in the story for the reader to make up their own mind. Whatever conclusions you reach are valid.

You won’t get this until you read the story, but let me draw your attention to the Nat King Cole song: A Blossom Fell …

“The Gypsies say, and I know why
A falling blossom only touches lips that lie”

There is an argument that says we never objectively see truth. Every truth is our own subjective version. We are the hero in the story of our life. When we recall incidents we filter them through opinions and emotions and adjust them to suit ourselves. Memories are liquid.

Different versions of a story are equally true. None are absolutely true. History is simply agreed fiction.

I hope you enjoy my fiction and decide your own truth as to what this story says to you.

Exterior & interior of traditional Japanese House (Adapted)

About Paul Andruss

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

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

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

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

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

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

The latest review for the book

I stumbled across this book one day while reading a historical piece written by the author. He had included an image of this book cover at the bottom of his article which immediately drew my attention. This author often writes long historical dissertations so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a chance and purchased the Kindle edition. What a delightful surprise! I couldn’t put the book down!

What I found was a fantastic story about one of my favorite subjects, faeries! Not only was it geared to the YA genre, but it also included a fair amount of historical fact to make the story shine.

When Jack’s older brother Dan is abducted before his very eyes, he is stunned by the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. The fact that Jack witnessed the strange abduction and doesn’t tell his parents only adds to his troubles. Jack’s mother is suffering from a chronic illness and his greatest hope is that the situation will rectify itself, and Dan will come home on his own.

One night, Jack starts receiving cell phone calls from Dan, and when he answers, there’s no one on the line. He tries to tell his parents and the police the truth about what happened, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, his throat closes up and he is unable to utter a single word. Faery glamours? Could be!

In the meantime, Jack starts seeing a dirty tramp hanging around his house who only speaks in rhyme. It becomes apparent that no one can see the tramp but Jack, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance.

Jack and his friends are thrust into the magical world of the fey where the kids experience the light and the dark, of a failing faery kingdom. They learn about ley lines and how the fey evolved beside mankind. The story progresses with plenty of magic and suspense until you reach the satisfying end.

Let me just say, that this is one of the most creative books I have ever read about the fey. Jack’s friends are reminiscent of the characters in the Harry Potter series and I had no problem connecting with their personalities. The plot is brilliant, although I had a hard time separating fact from fiction. That’s what I call good writing!

I enjoyed this novel and will read it more than once. I feel children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Do you love magic and all things faery? Then, have a read because this book is reasonably priced and will keep you entertained for hours.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

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

Connect to Paul on social media.

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

My thanks to Paul for sharing the background and research for this amazing story, that you can read in full The Legend of the Golden Flower

As always we love to receive your comments. Thanks Sally

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Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence – Legend of the Golden Flower (Final Part) by Paul Andruss


FINAL PART

Spring was in Kyoto, if not yet in the mountains. The road into the city was lined with peasants preparing rice fields. The blossoming plum orchards hummed with bees.

The round moon-gate to the Spring Palace was flanked by pots of dwarfed cherry trees dripping in pink tinged flowers. Okurimono peered into the courtyard, thinking she had never seen anything so beautiful. Its pavilions looked to be as much of a playground for the gods as the formidable donjon of the shōgun’s castle.

The guards at the gate stepped forward, jabbing the air with iron tipped bamboo spears.

“Scram!” cried one.

“Come back in a few years. You’re too young for a tart,” laughed his friend.

Okurimono did not flinch. After the dangers she faced on the mountain road, these men seemed foolish.

“I come from the Lady Fujiko-san for Okaa-san, the Lady Yarite of the Spring Palace.”

She reached into the bento bag and presented the piece of jade.

“Step inside.” said one as the other shouted a curt order at an old servant woman.

Ignoring the soldiers, but bowing low to Okurimono, the old servant gestured her to follow.

Inside the compound, Okurimono was surprised to see many finely dressed and immaculately painted women kneeling patiently inside a cage.

“Who are they?” she asked in awe of their beauty and clothing.

“Do not look at them,” hissed the old servant woman. “They are yūjo, available to anyone with the price, no matter samurai or peasant.”  With many impatient gestures she waved Okurimono past the women.

Outside a grand house, with a majestic cedar shingled roof, the servant signalled Okurimono to wait as she hurried up the veranda steps with much bowing to the servants at the door. A few moments later a magnificently dressed old woman came out.

Remembering her manners, Okurimono, got down on her knees and bowed her forehead to the floor. ‘Okaa-san.’

“No,” snapped the old woman harshly. “Who are you?”

‘Tengoku no Okurimono,’ she answered. Kow-towing with supreme politeness Okurimono presented the jade and letter stating her business.

“Wait,” said the magnificently dressed old woman and hurried inside.

She reappeared moments later. “Come.”

Okurimono took off her shoes on the veranda. A maid hastened out to take her benyo bag, hat and kosode. Another appeared with towels and a bowl of jasmine scented water to wash her hands and face. A third and fourth opened and readjusted the folds of her kimonos. When the magnificently dressed old woman considered her presentable, she impatiently gestured for the inner screens to be slid open.

Okurimono followed her to a room where a large handsome old woman knelt on a cushion. She wore an ornate black wig with many combs and was dressed in the most exquisite embroidered black kimono Okurimono had ever seen, extravagantly tied with bright obi sash.

In her hand was her mother’s letter.

Knowing this must be the Lady Yarite, Okurimono dropped to the floor touching her forehead to fine woven tatami matting. ‘Okaa-san.’

“Stand up child.”

Okurimono obeyed.

“So Tengoku no Okurimono, you are my Fujikochan’s daughter.”

The old woman smiled revealing the black lacquered teeth of the Emperor’s court. It left Okurimono in doubt of her importance. She bowed trembling, barely daring to speak.

“Fujikochan was my greatest achievement and most bitter disappointment. Now she sends you. Come, tell me everything from the beginning. I am greedy for gossip of your mother and that rascal Uco.”

Bearing in mind Ucosan’s advice, Okurimono knew everything depended on her story. This had to be the best performance she had ever given. To win over such an august person as Okaa-san, she must use all her skills.

As she told her story, Okurimono was pleased to see Okaa-san smile. Once or twice she burst out laughing, without covering her mouth. She sounded as hearty and common as Ucosan. When the old woman laughed Okurimono paused, so she would not miss the next part of her tale. During these lulls she snatched sly glances at the maids giggling breathlessly behind their hands, sounding no louder than mice.

At times Okaa-san slightly declined her head, causing two maids to rush forward with dazzling white handkerchiefs to dab beneath her eyes, so no tears would mar her perfect make-up. As Okurimono paused, she noticed the maids slyly take handkerchiefs from their sleeves to dab under their own eyes.

She bowed when finished, as much to conceal a smile of triumph, as respect for her honoured patron.

“Tengoku no Okurimono: Heavenly Gift. Indeed, your mother sent me a rare gift in you. How like your mother you are. In your wild tale of yokai and kami I hear my dear Ucochan. She was always a liar,” she added with affection.

“What is it child, out with it.”

‘Respectfully, my mother is ill, Okaa-san. I beg of you, arrange an interview with the shōgun’s mother, my grandmother.’

The old woman laughed aloud. Snatching a handkerchief from a maid to wipe her own eyes, she ruined her make-up. Catching her breath she asked, “Your mother told you this?”

‘Ucosan.’ the girl replied.

“No doubt she did.”

Okurimono looked puzzled.

“Child, the shōgun’s mother died long ago and his brother ordered to kill himself before you were conceived. A rich Nagasaki merchant bought your mother’s contract. I told her not to accept; she had a place with me. Your mother did not listen.

“A few years after you were born, the shōgun expelled the Portuguese black priests infesting Nagasaki like a plague and banned all foreigners from the land. He ordered all Nippon to recant the filthy superstition of their shamefully crucified god.”

“Many in Nagasaki, rich on foreign trade, rebelled against our rightful lord. Your father was crucified, along with his family. His wealth confiscated. Your mother, as his concubine, was to be sold. I helped her escape over the mountains with what wealth she could carry.”

‘Respectfully, my mother is dying.’

“She said she was dying in her letter. What do you want, child?”

‘Respectfully Okaa-San, I came for the imperial chrysanthemum to heal my mother.’

“Only the Emperor has the imperial chrysanthemum. It is rare and expensive. Fortunately I have a taste for rare and expensive things.”

“Shall we make a deal, you and I? The flower in payment for a contract binding you to me. I shall train you as I trained your mother. Make you the greatest tayū in Kyoto. What are your skills? Do you know the tea ceremony?”

‘Yes.’

“Flower arranging?”

‘A little.’

“Can you write poetry?”

‘I can write my name, but I can sing and dance. I can show you.’

“Are you not exhausted, child?”

‘Woman is made to serve and please. Pain and weariness are her lot,’ said Okurimono formally. ‘Everything worthwhile has a price, Okaa-San.’

“Art demands the greatest price of all. It is what I taught your mother.”

A maid brought Okurimono a long necked shamisen and a plectrum. Okurimono deftly tuned the lute’s three strings and began a lament from the ancient tale of Genji.

When the song ended, Okaa-San asked. “How old are you child?”

‘In a few moons I reach my twelfth year.’

“The same age as your mother when she came to me. Normally, I do not begin training until girls are a few years older.”

She clapped her hands. A maid hurried carrying a potted plant. The imperial chrysanthemum had one large bloom, a golden daisy surrounded by sixteen broad petals. “Do we have a bargain?”

Okurimono could have wept with joy. ‘Oh yes, Okaa-San.’

* * *

With all the excitement, sleep eluded Okurimono. Okaa-San had promised to send a litter to collect her mother. By tomorrow evening, Okurimono would see her mother and Ucosan, and know if things had transpired as the nine tailed fox, Lady Mae, promised.

Drifting off to sleep, a premonition made Okurimono open her eyes and sit up. Her mother stood in her room. Wan as moonlight, she flickered to and fro like the flame of an oil lamp guttering in a draft. At times she almost faded away until Okurimono could see the panels of the shoji screen through her. This was her spirit image, her ikiryō, a living person’s soul most often seen near death, when the chains of life are weakest.

She cried out in anguish.

A maid rushed in, bowing as if to an honoured guest. “Okurimono-San?”

Okurimono knew what she had to do. ‘Bring scissors. Quickly.’

Ucosan told a story of how a girl cleverly saved her mother’s life with a chrysanthemum. A young girl, with an ill mother, met a kindly kami who said her dying mother would live a month for each petal on the chrysanthemum in her room. Cleverly the girl took her scissors and cut each petal into many strips, ensuring her mother a long, long life.

Alone in her bedchamber, Okurimono did the same, using the scissors to shred the chrysanthemum’s petals into ribbons. She worked feverishly. When she finished, Okurimono inspected her handiwork with horror. Each damaged petal was wilting.

Had she saved her mother, like the girl in the story, or merely hastened her death?

Exhausted Okurimono flung herself on the mattress and cried herself to sleep.

Next morning Okurimono saw the chrysanthemum flower was a vibrant golden globe of a thousand slender petals. Tamamo no Mae, the nine tailed fox, had sent a miracle, just as she promised.

Sunset found Okurimono expectantly waiting at the Moon-gate for her mother’s palanquin. As it grew dark, her maid came to take her to her room. She explained it was not appropriate for the patrons to see one so young and assured the girl her mother would arrive tomorrow.

Yet, it was the same story the following day. As the maid collected her once again,

Okurimono respectfully asked her if Okaa-San would allow her to return home to see what the matter was. The maid frowned at the request, but promised to ask.

In the afternoon on the third day, the maid interrupted Okurimono’s lessons with many apologies. A runner had arrived. The mother’s litter was expected.

Eagerly Okurimono snatched up the golden chrysanthemum and followed the maid to the moon-gate. Her heart pounded with excitement when she saw the closed litter carried by four strong bearers. Rushing outside the compound she waited impatiently by the potted cherry trees as they put down the brightly painted yellow kago with its sumptuous curved roof and gauze curtained windows.

One of Okaa-San’s guards opened the door.

Okurimono’s heart leapt at the sight of a delicate bright kimono.

Ucosan stepped out.

‘Where is Mama?’ Okurimono cried, afraid she knew the answer.

Ucosan’s eyes filled with tears. Spotting the globe chrysanthemum, she quickly composed herself.

“Okurimonochan, my news is both great and terrible. Two days ago, I was happy to see your mother whole and well, her colour and appetite returned. We congratulated each other on our good fortune, as I heard a rapping at the door and my heart sunk like a stone.”

“Outside was Lady Tamamo no Mae, the nine-tailed fox, in her finest kimono. Oh my child, you had cut this beautiful flower into so many petals her life was now too long. The divine Emperor and the shōgun would demand the same lifespan from the gods. There would be no peace between earth and heaven. As she was as long lived as a divine sage, the Lady Mae had come to take your mother to dwell for evermore among the immortals.”

As Ucosan spoke a breeze snatched the blossom from the potted cherry trees. A shower of petals drifted like snow. One touched Ucosan upon the lips.

Okurimono burst into tears.

“No tears here,” said Ucosan. “It is not fitting.”

* * *

Under the tutelage of Okaa-San, Okurimono became Kyoto’s most famous tayū. Men paid five years rice in gold to spend a single night in her company. Many nobles offered to buy her contract. She refused each offer.

Of course you will not have heard of Okurimono, you only know of Kogane no Hana, the Golden Flower. The name she took on the day she became orian.

And that is her story, or at least the story she told when she was old and mistress of the Spring Garden Pleasure House, to young girls sold by their parents to train as orian, and missing their homes very much.

At the end she would add reflectively …

“That is why the word for Floating World sounds the same as Sorrowful World. For everything in this world has a price and art demands the greatest price of all.”

THE END

Please join us again tomorrow for a special post on the writing of The Legend of the Golden Flower.

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss

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

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

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

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

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

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

The latest review for the book

I stumbled across this book one day while reading a historical piece written by the author. He had included an image of this book cover at the bottom of his article which immediately drew my attention. This author often writes long historical dissertations so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a chance and purchased the Kindle edition. What a delightful surprise! I couldn’t put the book down!

What I found was a fantastic story about one of my favorite subjects, faeries! Not only was it geared to the YA genre, but it also included a fair amount of historical fact to make the story shine.

When Jack’s older brother Dan is abducted before his very eyes, he is stunned by the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. The fact that Jack witnessed the strange abduction and doesn’t tell his parents only adds to his troubles. Jack’s mother is suffering from a chronic illness and his greatest hope is that the situation will rectify itself, and Dan will come home on his own.

One night, Jack starts receiving cell phone calls from Dan, and when he answers, there’s no one on the line. He tries to tell his parents and the police the truth about what happened, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, his throat closes up and he is unable to utter a single word. Faery glamours? Could be!

In the meantime, Jack starts seeing a dirty tramp hanging around his house who only speaks in rhyme. It becomes apparent that no one can see the tramp but Jack, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance.

Jack and his friends are thrust into the magical world of the fey where the kids experience the light and the dark, of a failing faery kingdom. They learn about ley lines and how the fey evolved beside mankind. The story progresses with plenty of magic and suspense until you reach the satisfying end.

Let me just say, that this is one of the most creative books I have ever read about the fey. Jack’s friends are reminiscent of the characters in the Harry Potter series and I had no problem connecting with their personalities. The plot is brilliant, although I had a hard time separating fact from fiction. That’s what I call good writing!

I enjoyed this novel and will read it more than once. I feel children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Do you love magic and all things faery? Then, have a read because this book is reasonably priced and will keep you entertained for hours.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

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

Connect to Paul on social media.

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

It would be wonderful to have your thoughts about the story. Thanks Sally

A special post tomorrow that goes into the background and research for this beautiful story.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence – The Legend of the Golden Flower (Part Three) by Paul Andruss


You can read the story so far The Legend of the Golden Flower

PART 3

Beyond the ancient shrine, the village road deteriorated into a treacherous track, twisting through steep sided hills covered with pine. Here the thin dawn light was sucked from the sky by a canopy of black needled branches. Even snow could not reach the forest floor, but lay in scattered drifts obliterating fallen trees, moss covered rocks and who knew what else, leaving them shapeless and sinister.

Okurimono never ventured beyond the town in all her eleven years. Ucosan’s tales of the world were all she knew. Ucosan said mountains were deadly places where evil yokai dwelt; wicked mountain Jami, spider demons and giant man-eating centipedes. There were aobōzu, ghostly blue priests that steal children, bloodsucking spider women and shapeshifting spirits. Racoon-kami that turn into cyclops-priests, mountain weasels with curved razor-sharp claws, and badger-kami in the form of monks tempting thirsty travellers with water or tea, before turning into faceless ghosts.

In a lonely clearing Okurimono saw the sunshine had crept down from the barren peaks to the wooded slopes. Wreaths of pale mist thickened in the trees before swirling into the shadowy valley. This mist was enenra, the all-devouring monster of smoke and darkness. Enenra made it seem as if the day was reversed, and the rising sun brought deepening night.

At the far end of the clearing she spotted wood smoke, the fires of charcoal burners.

Okurimono was almost foolish enough to seek company and warmth before remembering Ucosan’s warning. Rōjin no hi, the old men of the woods, invite you to sit by the fire; then devour you when you fall asleep.

The air grew colder as Okurimono ascended ever upwards through the gloomy trees.

Weariness, like a demon on her back, weighed increasingly heavy. Perhaps a yokai would entangle her lags as she walked along a precipice. She would fall and end up another vengeful ghost of this wild forsaken place.

Afraid, she jumped at every strange noise. She grew convinced a buruburu possessed her, a spirit of cowardice and shivers. Okurimono wondered if she should abandon her quest and run all the way home. The thought of her mother made her forge on.

With face stung by the bitter wind, she blindly followed the narrow path. Climbing through the trees, until she realised she was lost. In despair she sank down beneath the low branches of a tree. Almost touching the floor, they kept the ground dry and free of snow.

Okurimono knew she must not sleep. Some trees were jubokko and would drive their roots into her if she slept, to suck her blood. She huddled fearfully against the trunk, nervously pulling the quilted kosode tighter, praying she had not been tricked by the Lady Mae.

Okurimono heard something drop through the branches. Her imagination conjured images of akateko, demons resembling severed red hands scrambling through the boughs. Or tsurube oloshi, laughing heads that drop from trees to devour you.

With a thump two creatures landed. They pulled open the pine needled branches to peer at her. She peered back, not quite believing what she saw. They were no taller than Okurimono with large heads and bodies covered with red hair. They jabbered at each other like monkeys.

Okurimono knew kijimuna tree sprites were not unfriendly. But they were tricksters and you must beware. Their favourite trick was to sit on your chest until you could not breathe. If one liked you, he might let you ride on his back and would take you where you wanted to go.

However, if one did, you must not break wind, Ucosan warned. That was impolite.

The kijimuna looked at her curiously, deciding what to do with the creature, no doubt as strange to them as they were to her. Thinking quickly Okurimono pulled out the parcel of cold rice Ucosan packed for the journey. With a deep bow she offered it to the kijimuna. One came forward timidly, snatched the parcel and tore it open. The other, fearing he might miss out, shoved in his hooked fingers and pulling out a handful of rice shoved it in his mouth.

His companion looked on in horror, before slapping him soundly across the head. He retaliated by punching his friend so violently the rice parcel flew out of his grasp. As it descended they both leapt into the air to grab it.

Okurimono burst out laughing.

Shocked, they stopped to stare at her.

Swiftly Okurimono snatched up the rice parcel from the floor, mercifully largely intact, and broke it into two, offering one portion to each. After a moment’s hesitation, each grabbed a share from her hands.

They looked at what they had. Then looked at what the other had. With an enraged howl, the first lurched at the second. His companion was too quick. He leapt up grabbing the branch with his free hand and in the wink of an eye was clambering up the tree, with the other in hot pursuit.

Still laughing, Okurimono scrambled out of her shelter to watch their antics. Waiting for her was the beautiful lady Tamamo no Mae, floating on a golden cloud. Her nine foxtails, somehow freed from her kimono, wafted through the air behind her like a peacock fan.

“I see your little friends have banished the fear yokai,” she said with amusement. “You have done well, Okurimono. The hardest part of your journey is over. Above the next ridge your descent begins. I have sent a friend to guide you.”

Okurimono bowed in gratitude. When she looked up the celestial lady fox was gone.

Somewhere in front of her, Okurimono heard chi-chi-chi and followed the sound to a small bird, standing on a moss covered rock. When it saw her, it fluttered onward to a branch, scolding her to hurry. This was yosuzume, a mountain sparrow kami. Each time it seemed she might catch the sparrow it flew off once again, to wait for her approach. In this way Okurimono soon found the lost path.

As the sparrow flew off, Okurimono heard something in the undergrowth. She was not afraid.

Stories said mountain sparrows led travellers to okurio-kami, the escort wolf. It was the protector the celestial fox, Lady Mae, meant.

Okurimono never saw her wolf escort, although he never left her side. The kami stayed hidden in the undergrowth. Whenever she crossed a bridge, or the forest thinned, the wolf was magically waiting on the other side.

By noon she reached the pass. In the far valley she saw villages surrounded by rice fields and beyond them a pall of yellow smoke, from the wood fires of Kyoto. Standing on a mound, high above the smog, was the mighty five-tiered stronghold of the shōgun. Pale stone walls and fluted tiled rooves rose pagoda-like, one storey upon the other, into clear blue sky. It was so beautiful Okurimono thought it must be a house for the gods. It was in that beautiful place Okurimono would find her grandmother.

©Paul Andruss 2018

The final part of this beautiful story tomorrow.

About Paul Andruss

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

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

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

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

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

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

The latest review for the book

I stumbled across this book one day while reading a historical piece written by the author. He had included an image of this book cover at the bottom of his article which immediately drew my attention. This author often writes long historical dissertations so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a chance and purchased the Kindle edition. What a delightful surprise! I couldn’t put the book down!

What I found was a fantastic story about one of my favorite subjects, faeries! Not only was it geared to the YA genre, but it also included a fair amount of historical fact to make the story shine.

When Jack’s older brother Dan is abducted before his very eyes, he is stunned by the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. The fact that Jack witnessed the strange abduction and doesn’t tell his parents only adds to his troubles. Jack’s mother is suffering from a chronic illness and his greatest hope is that the situation will rectify itself, and Dan will come home on his own.

One night, Jack starts receiving cell phone calls from Dan, and when he answers, there’s no one on the line. He tries to tell his parents and the police the truth about what happened, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, his throat closes up and he is unable to utter a single word. Faery glamours? Could be!

In the meantime, Jack starts seeing a dirty tramp hanging around his house who only speaks in rhyme. It becomes apparent that no one can see the tramp but Jack, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance.

Jack and his friends are thrust into the magical world of the fey where the kids experience the light and the dark, of a failing faery kingdom. They learn about ley lines and how the fey evolved beside mankind. The story progresses with plenty of magic and suspense until you reach the satisfying end.

Let me just say, that this is one of the most creative books I have ever read about the fey. Jack’s friends are reminiscent of the characters in the Harry Potter series and I had no problem connecting with their personalities. The plot is brilliant, although I had a hard time separating fact from fiction. That’s what I call good writing!

I enjoyed this novel and will read it more than once. I feel children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Do you love magic and all things faery? Then, have a read because this book is reasonably priced and will keep you entertained for hours.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

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

Connect to Paul on social media.

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

It would be wonderful to have your thoughts about the story and  hope you will join us tomorrow for the final part of the story. Thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence – The Legend of the Golden Flower (Part One) by Paul Andruss


PART 1

The priests kept the entrance to the shrine of the sun goddess Amaterasu, free of snow. It was here Okurimono sang and danced, protected by the temple wall from the worst of the mountain wind. Even in this sheltered place the wind’s ferocity drove all feeling from her fingers and face. The young girl stamped hard and clapped her hands around herself in comical exaggerated movements as she entertained, simply to keep warm.

Her mother’s maid, Ucosan, constantly reminded Okurimono she must learn to endure pain if she wanted to be like her mother. The mind and the body are at war, she said, and the will must conquer weakness. When Okurimono complained, Ucosan told her, pain is a woman’s lot. Everything in this world has a price. Art demands the greatest price of all.

Without hesitation or pause, Okurimono bowed when a group of pilgrims threw coins; no doubt charmed by the sight of a young girl singing and dancing so exquisitely. The payment was welcome. Ucosan had sold nearly all of her mother’s jewellery and silk kimonos to survive. Now with winter refusing to leave the mountains, money was scarcer than ever.

Yet money was not the reason Okurimono danced at the shrine. She danced to honour Amaterasu and her mother’s patron Uzume, the goddess of mirth and revelry. When the storm-god destroyed Amaterasu’s rice fields and killed her maid, Amaterasu retreated to a cave. The world grew cold and dark.

Not one of the gods could tempt the sun from the cave until Uzume, the dawn goddess, danced and sang such comic songs the other gods grew helpless with laughter. Overcome by curiosity, Amaterasu ventured out to see what caused the merriment.

Okurimono did not dare to think one of the goddesses may be gracious enough to notice her devotion and drive away the demons causing the bloody flux on her mother’s lungs. This hope she kept locked in her heart, in case an idle thought betray her to the many vengeful kami and yokai that haunted wild, forgotten places.

Uzume’s dance, to tempt the sun back to the world, was the first Okurimono learned. Her mother once said, they were the first steps Izumo no Okuni taught her when she was as young as Okurimono. Her mother had smiled, fondly recollecting those comic and often rude Kabuki performances. She told her daughter how the refined clients of Shimabara’s most famous tayū would have feigned outrage at such ribaldry; no matter how they might secretly enjoy it. Then she laughed, hearty and common as Ucosan. How Okurimono wished her mother would laugh like that again.

Tempestuous clouds hid the mountain tops. The day grew dark as night. The pilgrims hurried to seek shelter in the inn. The streets were empty and shadow haunted. A storm was coming. It was time to leave. The old priest tending the shrine came to lock the gates. Watching the wind shake powered snow from the pine trees on the hills, Okurimono pulled on her broad-rimmed bamboo bonnet and quilted kosode.

The peaks above the trees were lost to the swirling white of the blizzard. Snow women demons prowled blizzards. White of hair and skin they sucked warmth from any person they caught. She threaded the scattered copper coins on her purse-string with numb fingers; reckoning their worth in bowls of rice. Dutifully, she bowed to the elderly priest, leaving a few precious coins as an offering.

Turning a corner, the full force of the storm hit Okurimono. Stinging snow blinded her. Wind snatched breath. Feet froze, sinking past her ankles in the deep drifts. The world was lost to thick flurries. All she could do was to bow her head until her chin touched her chest and keep walking.

Approaching her home, the wind paused. Driven snow eddied helplessly, its purpose momentarily forgotten. In the eerie calm Okurimono saw faraway snow women searching for victims. She heard a snow woman scream. They had found her. It was not a snow woman, but a huge black eagle flapping over the roof tops. Birds did not fly in snowstorms, unless they were demons. This was not good.

Okurimono watched the bird drop something from its claws. A pale golden ball of fur hit the deep snow lying on the pitched roof. She watched it roll. Instinctively running forward, with arms outstretched, she caught the bundle, clutching it to her breast.

Only when she had it tight and secure did she dare look. A tiny fox cub mewled and stared at her with large intelligent eyes. Safe and warm inside her padded kosode she felt its little heart frantically beating. Sudden as it came, the squall died. The last snowflakes fell, slow and gentle. The snow women fled.

The fox cub was an omen. Okurimono was sure of it.

* * *

Okurimono took off her shoes to enter the house.

The old woman scowled to disguise her relief.

“Foolish child,” she snapped. “Have you forgotten about the snow women? What have you there?” she asked without waiting for a reply.

Okurimono took the fox cub from her quilted coat to show Ucosan.

With a look of wonder, the old woman cooed, gently stroking the pup’s pale fur.
The animal yawned unperturbed.

‘The snow women came. He protected me.’

“The goddess heard your devotion and instructed Inari to send one of his messengers. The good god of prosperity is smiling. Let us show your mother.”

Okurimono took off her wet heavy coat. ‘How is Mama?’

“She took some soup today,” said the old woman carefully. “Come, she waits.”

Okurimono’s mother was wrapped in quilts. Her skin looked white, except for a single patch of colour under the dark stained hollows of her eyes. She smiled; lips grey and bloodless.

Okurimono knelt before her mother, taking her hands and touching them to her forehead. Her mother’s hands were colder than Okurimono’s, and she was caught in a blizzard. In contrast, Mother’s forehead felt hot and damp as she kissed it. Her mother suppressed a cough.

“Come child, eat,” said Ucosan hastily.

With a backward look at her mother, Okurimono knelt before the irori, grateful for its radiant warmth. Ucosan placed slivers of tofu and dried fish on two bowls of rice and a ladled broth from the cooking pot. One she gave to Okurimono, the other to the fox cub.

Later, Ucosan told Okurimono to entertain her mother with a song. Picking up the long-necked gottan, the girl tuned the lute’s three strings. Her mother gently corrected Okurimono’s mistakes until stopped by a coughing fit. Okurimono did not mean to look as her mother took the cloth from her mouth. Seeing bright arterial blood, she lowered her eyes, ashamed she might shame her mother.

After making her mistress comfortable on the futon, Ucosan drew a battered paper screen to divide the room. Returning to Okurimono, the old woman thoughtfully stroked the fox cub’s silky fur, as it lay by girl’s side, nestling on the hem of her kimono.

Ucosan liked to reminisce about her mistress. Okurimono learned everything she knew of her mother from Ucosan. It was not polite for a woman of her mother’s quality to speak of herself. Her role was to serve others.

As always Ucosan began by saying her mistress, the Lady Fujiko, was the most accomplished tayū of Shimabara’s floating world. Okurimono knew the story by heart, but cherished the telling. It left her feeling close to her mother in a way she no longer could; now she was older with responsibilities.

As a child her mother was adopted by the renowned Izumo no Okuni, a priestess who danced and sang to earn funds for the temple in the dry river beds of Kyoto. Okuni became famous for her strange affectations of mixing men’s clothing with women’s and wearing the cross and beads of the sour smelling Portuguese black priests. Her antics shocked and amused the Nippon people, to whom politeness and obedience was everything.

Okuni taught a group of destitute women acting, singing and dancing so they could make a living. Known as kabukimono, ‘the crazy ones’, they put on amusing versions of the great sagas. Audience favourites were the Tale of Genji and the war story of Heike, with, most outrageous of all, its women samurai. The women played all parts, male and female, riotously mimicking love-making between man and woman, man and man, woman and women, or even men pursuing men, who were in fact girls dressed as boys.

The more famous the kabukimono became, the more the shōgun grew displeased. Their performances attracted crowds from all walks of life. The warlord of all the Isles of the Rising Sun did not think it seemly for peasants to mix with nobles and samurai. Order required everyone to know their place, and keep to it.

Angered, the shōgun banned women from performing kabuki, dismissing them as little more than harlots. Privately, many wondered what business was it of his, how they put a little extra rice in the bowl? The shōgun preferred all-male kabuki troupes. It led some to suggest the ban was prompted by his preference for men in other ways too.

Unable to perform, the female players fled to their old lives. Now they were celebrated as skilled performers, they were taken to the heart of the floating world rather than being forced to live on its fringe. Okurimono’s mother, still a girl, no older than Okurimono, was the most exquisite and talented of all the kabukimono. Okaa-san, the revered owner of the Spring Garden House trained her as orian.

“Of course, your mother became the most desired courtesan in the land,” said Ucosan. “So famous she attracted the eye of Tadanaga, the shōgun’s brother. Tadanaga was born with all the blessings: a great military leader, clever and charming. Loved by all, he loved only your mother. He bought your mother’s contract from Okaa-san and they lived together happily, until his jealous elder brother, the shōgun, accused him of treachery and ordered him to commit seppuku. Your mother, knowing she was lost, fled over the mountains to this village to protect your life.”

Seeing the child was falling asleep, she added, “Come let us all sleep with your mother for warmth. Bring our friend too. I have an old bed for him.”

‘Do you think he is really kitsune?’ Okurimono whispered, heavy eyed.

The old woman laughed. “He opened an eye when you spoke. If he is a kami, he is a young one.”

‘Perhaps he came to make mama better.’

“Spring will cure your mother better than any spirit.” Ucosan replied. Seeing disappointment on Okurimono’s face, she relented. “Perhaps he will protect her until Amaterasu comes to shine her warmth and bring the world alive.”

©Paul Andruss 2018

Part two of this beautiful story tomorrow.

About Paul Andruss

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

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

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

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

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

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

The latest review for the book

I stumbled across this book one day while reading a historical piece written by the author. He had included an image of this book cover at the bottom of his article which immediately drew my attention. This author often writes long historical dissertations so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a chance and purchased the Kindle edition. What a delightful surprise! I couldn’t put the book down!

What I found was a fantastic story about one of my favorite subjects, faeries! Not only was it geared to the YA genre, but it also included a fair amount of historical fact to make the story shine.

When Jack’s older brother Dan is abducted before his very eyes, he is stunned by the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. The fact that Jack witnessed the strange abduction and doesn’t tell his parents only adds to his troubles. Jack’s mother is suffering from a chronic illness and his greatest hope is that the situation will rectify itself, and Dan will come home on his own.

One night, Jack starts receiving cell phone calls from Dan, and when he answers, there’s no one on the line. He tries to tell his parents and the police the truth about what happened, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, his throat closes up and he is unable to utter a single word. Faery glamours? Could be!

In the meantime, Jack starts seeing a dirty tramp hanging around his house who only speaks in rhyme. It becomes apparent that no one can see the tramp but Jack, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance.

Jack and his friends are thrust into the magical world of the fey where the kids experience the light and the dark, of a failing faery kingdom. They learn about ley lines and how the fey evolved beside mankind. The story progresses with plenty of magic and suspense until you reach the satisfying end.

Let me just say, that this is one of the most creative books I have ever read about the fey. Jack’s friends are reminiscent of the characters in the Harry Potter series and I had no problem connecting with their personalities. The plot is brilliant, although I had a hard time separating fact from fiction. That’s what I call good writing!

I enjoyed this novel and will read it more than once. I feel children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Do you love magic and all things faery? Then, have a read because this book is reasonably priced and will keep you entertained for hours.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

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

Connect to Paul on social media.

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

It would be wonderful to have your thoughts about the story and  hope you will join us tomorrow for part two. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Twelfth Day of Christmas with guests Paul Andruss, Olga Nunez Miret and Carol Taylor


We have finally reached the last of the Christmas parties.. and in this one I want to do a personal thank you to the remaining regular contributors, and someone who has helped me with my books this year, who have not as yet featured in the parties. Paul Andruss, Olga Nunez Miret and Carol Taylor.

Here is Slade to kick the party off with Merry Christmas Everybody. Amazon

Over the last eleven parties I have shared my memories of Christmas past, and I have enjoyed stepping back in time. I am so pleased that so many of you have shared yours too, as it demonstrates that the best gift of all is the time spent with those we love.

I hope that you have an amazing few days, however you choose to spend it. There will be a few things posted over the next week should you be at a loose end.. and a very special treat from the 27th to 31st with a wonderful Japanese short story from Paul Andruss which will have you captivated.

There will also be some funnies and videos and I will be in from time to time to catch up on all of your festive posts.

Now time to get on with the party…..

A favourite carol of mine as a child was  “We Three Kings” original title “Three Kings of Orient”, also known as “We Three Kings of Orient Are” or “The Quest of the Magi”, is a Christmas carol that was written by John Henry Hopkins Jr. in 1857. At the time of composing the carol, Hopkins served as the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and he wrote the carol for a Christmas pageant in New York City.

Here is a wonderfully dramatic version with fabulous graphics by Clamavi De Profundis

Time to meet my first guest Paul Andruss, who has already saved his most favourite Christmas Gift ever in a separate post that you can find HERE.

Paul has been the Writer in Residence and Gardening Expert for the last 18 months. He stepped back from his regular posting in the autumn as he was working on his own projects. He has popped in from time to time, as with the short story later this week, and hopefully he will be back occasionally in 2019 when he has the time.

I am very grateful for the amazing posts covering such a broad spectrum of subjects, all meticulously researched and brilliantly written. The blog has definitely been enriched by their inclusion. And I can highly recommend that you read Thomas the Rhymer which is Paul’s fantasy novel especially if you love Harry Potter.

About Paul Andruss.

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

Anyway, I was wondering what I could give Paul for his virtual gift and thought perhaps being a very keen gardener, and bearing in mind his Japanese themed story later this week…..he would enjoy this.

Day 12 (5th January also known as Epiphany Eve): It is a celebration of the life and works of St. John Neumann (1811-1860). He was born in Bohemia but emigrated to the US and became a Catholic priest and later Bishop of Philadelphia. He was the first American bishop to be canonized due to his devotion and also for founding the first Catholic diocesan school system in the United States.

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Twelve drummers drumming and all the rest of the verses that have gone before with both their alleged coded and spiritual meaning and the more modern acceptance of this cumulative song probably of French origin. There are many different versions that are sung around the world with local and national gifts replacing the originals. The spirit of the song however is still maintained from the Faroe Islands to Australia as children get excited about the upcoming holiday season.

In many countries Twelfth night is a huge celebration with parties to celebrate not just the Christmas season but also the official end of winter which began on October 31st on All Hallows Eve or Halloween. This practice goes all the way back to the Romans and their celebration of Saturnalia and different cultures celebrate in various ways. This would be the day that the Christmas cake would be eaten, or roles reversed between master and servant or King and Queen of the night with licence to behave disreputably!!

Having lived in Spain for 17 years we celebrated Christmas with our friends and also their festival on the 6th of January of Dia de Los Reyes. It is almost as important as Christmas itself in Spain, especially for children who have waited twelve days before getting their presents, although I suspect there are still plenty opened on Christmas Day. However the party starts on the 5th with parades in all the towns and villages with Three Kings leading the crowd and throwing sweets to the children.

The Spanish version of the Christmas cake is a Roscón, a sweet, donut-shaped bread covered in glacier cherries and sugar. A plastic toy rather than a sixpence is buried inside the mixture, so dentists do quite well in the days following! Although for those whose teeth remain intact they will get good luck for the remainder of the year!

This leads me very nicely into my next guest Olga Nunez Miret

Olga has been a wonderful friend and support for the blog and for so many others in the last five years. She is an avid reader and writes in-depth reviews that delight their recipients some of the reviews are on behalf of the Rosie Amber Review Team.

About Olga Nunez Miret

Olga Núñez Miret is a doctor, a psychiatrist, a student (of American Literature, with a Doctorate and all to prove the point, of Criminology, and of books and people in general), she writes, translates (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and although born in Barcelona, Spain, has lived in the UK for many years. She’s always loved books and is thrilled at the prospect of helping good stories reach more readers all around the world. She publishes a bilingual blog (http://www.authortranslatorolga.com ) where she shares book reviews, advice, talks about books (hers and others) and about things she discovers and enjoys.

This year Olga translated Tales from the Garden Volume 1 for me into Spanish. If you are looking to reach a new market for your books that I can highly recommend her services. She also asked if I might like to participate in an anthology in aid of victims of domestic violence and my story ‘Diana’ was included in ¡Que entre la luz!  published in the summer. Olga and I were interviewed on When Women Inspire on the anthology by Christy D. Birmingham.

¡Que entre la luz!

Read the reviews and buy Olga’s books in English and Spanish: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B009UC58G0
Blog: http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Please visit Amazon or Olga’s blog to view all her books.

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One of the early reviews for Deadly Quotes.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this latest book in the exciting “Escaping Psychiatry” series by Olga Núñez Miret! It’s “Deadly Quotes. Escaping Psychiatry 3.” This isn’t just another “psychological thriller” — it’s written by a real-world forensic psychiatrist, and her expertise is clear in the entire series.

I see catchy quotes everywhere I look. I’m okay with that – I confess that I like quotes. So I got a kick out of the fact that the author used quotes as part of the mystery. Psychiatrist and amateur detective, Mary Miller is back – and she’s dealing with a thrilling take on quotes. I don’t want to spoil it for you. Happy reading.

I wanted to find something beautiful for Olga as her virtual Christmas gift and found this.. which I hope she enjoys…Louie Schwartzberg

On the subject of food…here is one of my most remembered Christmas puddings. The sherry trifle and even as a very young child I would finish every last morsel. I think my mother was under the impression that if sherry went into a meal it was non alcoholic….

Like most of the traditional foods featured during the last twelve days trifle has a long and illustrious history dating back to the end of the 16th century. Originally trifle referred to a thick cream flavoured with spices like ginger and sweetened with sugar and sometimes rosewater. In the middle of the 17th century eggs were added to form a rich custard. Another 100 years and the custard was poured over jelly using gelatin.

The trifle that we now consider to be the jewel in the festive dinner crown has the addition of sponge soaked in sherry or sometimes port or brandy and layered with fruit such as peaches, jelly, custard and thick whipped cream…Here is an Australian site with plenty of different variations for trifles to suit all tastes…Trifles galore

There is a phenomenan attached to the dessert. If there should be any trifle remaining in a bowl that has been placed in the fridge overnight, the next morning it has usually disappeared except for a couple of pieces of glacé cherry on the bottom of the bowl and a scrape of cream on the side of the dish. Legend has it that after all the gifts have been distributed and the work is finished for the year, Santa allows the elves a night of revelry and permission to visit any home where trifle has been on the menu and indulge….yeah that is the official version, honest!

The obvious choice of guest to follow the food selection is our own food and cookery expert Carol Taylor, who ran a very busy catering establishment in Thailand before retiring.

 

Carol has worked tirelessly this year to bring wonderful recipes to the Food Column including two amazing Christmas menus for a traditional dinner and a vegetarian alternative. She is taking a well earned break over Christmas, spending it with her family who live close by in Thailand. I am so delighted that we connected two years ago and I hope that if you do not already follow Carol on her blog that you do that now.. You will not only find recipes, but a wonderful array of exotic Thai ingredients and articles on avoiding waste food and the environment at CarolCooks2

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

I asked Carol for her most special Christmas gift………

Years ago when I worked for the Halifax I had a love/hate relationship with my line manager he was a nice bloke but very straight laced at work and sometimes we clashed as to certain things I was not prepared to do come hell or high water…But had touches of being really funny in his lighter moments or at staff jollies.

One day after such one staff jolly and definitely too much to drink …When I got home I threw up…The next morning..I was missing a tooth the only tooth I had on a plate and it must have disappeared down into the system of no return…

So it was an emergency dental appointment and a call to work…
The dentist also thought it was highly funny as did Andrew at work…

Some months later at our staff Christmas Party when we pulled a name out of a hat and bought appropriate presents for the said person…I will say he must have thought about this for months…lol

He got my name …I received a 6 pack of Becks Beer and a bag of sweetie false teeth…He kept his distance as maybe he wasn’t sure whether I would see the funny side I did, and still do…as did everyone else but it was the best present and still makes me smile…

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a set of false sweet teeth, but I think that’s because the dog ate them….

And that is not as far fetched as you might think…….Merry Christmas Carol…

Thank you for dropping by today and have an amazing Christmas… thanks Sally…

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Christmas Guest Post – My Favourite Christmas Gift Ever by Paul Andruss


As always Paul Andruss heeds the call for a guest post for special occasions by producing an entertaining and in this case emotionally charged piece.. get your tissues at the ready.

My Favourite Christmas Gift Ever by Paul Andruss

When I was a youngster my dad was a merchant seaman. He travelled all over the world on everything from cargo steamers to luxury liners. This led to a bit of a falling out with a new neighbour. Seeing two kids, and no man around, the woman asked, ‘So, what does your husband do?’

“He works for Cunard,” said Mum brightly.

‘My husband works quite hard too!’ the woman answered stiffly.

Actually that is not true.

The true story is even more hilarious.

I went to a catholic junior school run by the Christian Brothers. Every month we’d to buy a magazine called The Crusade Messenger, which was full of stories, articles and jokes. The Cunard Joke was in that.

Aged 8, none of the class understood the joke. For some reason the teachers could not explain why it was funny either. It puzzled me for years, until the penny dropped at the age of 11.

That was not my best Christmas present ever.

As I said my dad was a merchant seaman. While his ship was in Spain, Dad was told to paint the forecastle, or whatever the big bit at the front with the steering wheel is called. I am not nautically minded. He was sitting on a plank, suspended between two ropes about 50 feet in the air, when a freak gust of wind sent him tumbling. He landed flat on his back on the deck.

He was lucky. He could have died. Instead he landed on crates and injured his back. At first, they thought he would not pull through. Then, he would never walk again. I was about 9. That would make Mum and Dad about 32.

Dad was in hospital for six months. In those days international travel was a luxury. Mum never got to see him. Nor, as we had no telephone, speak. She must have been out of her mind. Despite this, she kept it together and protected us kids from what was going on.

I knew dad was in an accident; fell off while painting the ship. I thought he was painting the side and hit the sea. Talking to him, years later, he told me it was just as well he hadn’t. From that height, hitting the sea like he did would have killed him stone dead. One of the things he did say was the nuns in white running the hospital fed him oranges, and beef from the bulls slaughtered in the bullring next door. I thought it very glamorous.

It was a couple of weeks before Christmas when Mum heard Dad was coming home. The shipping company not only paid for an airline ticket, but also for a return trip between Liverpool and Manchester Airport by taxi, to pick him up. At the time a 40 mile one-way taxi ride would have cost a week’s wages.

I didn’t know what was going on, except it was exciting and confusing. Actually, the long taxi rides through the night were exciting for the first 10 minutes, then uncomfortably dull. I could not understand why Mum had to stop herself crying all the time.

As a kid you accept things. Growing up I came to realise how different our lives would have been if mum was a widow with three young kids.

Best Christmas Present ever?

That’s a no-brainer.

Getting your dad back from the dead (without using the Monkey’s Paw).

©Paul Andruss 2018

About Paul Andruss

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

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

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

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

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

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

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

The latest review for the book

I stumbled across this book one day while reading a historical piece written by the author. He had included an image of this book cover at the bottom of his article which immediately drew my attention. This author often writes long historical dissertations so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a chance and purchased the Kindle edition. What a delightful surprise! I couldn’t put the book down!

What I found was a fantastic story about one of my favorite subjects, faeries! Not only was it geared to the YA genre, but it also included a fair amount of historical fact to make the story shine.

When Jack’s older brother Dan is abducted before his very eyes, he is stunned by the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. The fact that Jack witnessed the strange abduction and doesn’t tell his parents only adds to his troubles. Jack’s mother is suffering from a chronic illness and his greatest hope is that the situation will rectify itself, and Dan will come home on his own.

One night, Jack starts receiving cell phone calls from Dan, and when he answers, there’s no one on the line. He tries to tell his parents and the police the truth about what happened, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, his throat closes up and he is unable to utter a single word. Faery glamours? Could be!

In the meantime, Jack starts seeing a dirty tramp hanging around his house who only speaks in rhyme. It becomes apparent that no one can see the tramp but Jack, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance.

Jack and his friends are thrust into the magical world of the fey where the kids experience the light and the dark, of a failing faery kingdom. They learn about ley lines and how the fey evolved beside mankind. The story progresses with plenty of magic and suspense until you reach the satisfying end.

Let me just say, that this is one of the most creative books I have ever read about the fey. Jack’s friends are reminiscent of the characters in the Harry Potter series and I had no problem connecting with their personalities. The plot is brilliant, although I had a hard time separating fact from fiction. That’s what I call good writing!

I enjoyed this novel and will read it more than once. I feel children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Do you love magic and all things faery? Then, have a read because this book is reasonably priced and will keep you entertained for hours.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

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

Finn Mac Cool

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

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

Connect to Paul on social media.

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

I am sure that you have enjoyed Paul’s post as much as I have and please feel free to share.. Thanks Sally

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Buy a book for Christmas – #Children #Teens #YA – Paul Andruss, M. J. Mallon, HL Carpenter, Darlene Foster, Deanie Humphrys-Dunne


Time for some books that would make great gifts for children,pre-teens, teens and young adults. I will be featuring everyone currently in the Cafe and Bookstore as well as new authors, and new releases by existing authors in separate promotions.

The first author with a book that is great for all ages but would make a fantastic gift for teen and YA fantasy fans as well as adults, is Paul Andruss with Thomas the Rhymer

Thomas the Rhymer

About the book

Fans of Harry Potter and Narnia will love Thomas the Rhymer’

‘Thomas the Rhymer leaves you feeling like a child curled up in a comfy armchair on a wet and windy afternoon, lost in a good book’

‘Spellbinding! An ideal Christmas read for young and old alike!’

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + +

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

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

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

The race is on for Jack and his friends to save Thomas from the wicked Agnes Day (who wants to treat Thomas like a lab rat). And save Jack’s brother from Sylvie.
To do this they need the help of Bess – the most ancient powerful fairy queen in the land.
But there is a problem…

No one knows where Bess is… or even if she is still lives.  And even if they find her… will she let them go?

The latest review for the book

I stumbled across this book one day while reading a historical piece written by the author. He had included an image of this book cover at the bottom of his article which immediately drew my attention. This author often writes long historical dissertations so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a chance and purchased the Kindle edition. What a delightful surprise! I couldn’t put the book down!

What I found was a fantastic story about one of my favorite subjects, faeries! Not only was it geared to the YA genre, but it also included a fair amount of historical fact to make the story shine.

When Jack’s older brother Dan is abducted before his very eyes, he is stunned by the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. The fact that Jack witnessed the strange abduction and doesn’t tell his parents only adds to his troubles. Jack’s mother is suffering from a chronic illness and his greatest hope is that the situation will rectify itself, and Dan will come home on his own.

One night, Jack starts receiving cell phone calls from Dan, and when he answers, there’s no one on the line. He tries to tell his parents and the police the truth about what happened, but every time he opens his mouth to speak, his throat closes up and he is unable to utter a single word. Faery glamours? Could be!

In the meantime, Jack starts seeing a dirty tramp hanging around his house who only speaks in rhyme. It becomes apparent that no one can see the tramp but Jack, so he enlists the help of his friends to help him solve the mystery behind his brother’s disappearance.

Jack and his friends are thrust into the magical world of the fey where the kids experience the light and the dark, of a failing faery kingdom. They learn about ley lines and how the fey evolved beside mankind. The story progresses with plenty of magic and suspense until you reach the satisfying end.

Let me just say, that this is one of the most creative books I have ever read about the fey. Jack’s friends are reminiscent of the characters in the Harry Potter series and I had no problem connecting with their personalities. The plot is brilliant, although I had a hard time separating fact from fiction. That’s what I call good writing!

I enjoyed this novel and will read it more than once. I feel children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Do you love magic and all things faery? Then, have a read because this book is reasonably priced and will keep you entertained for hours.

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5  Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

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

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

Paul Andruss - Author

Connect with Paul Andruss via his blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/

The next author is M.J. Mallon whose book The Curse of Time: Book One – Bloodstone, a YA fantasy and science fiction adventure would make a perfect gift.

About The Curse of Time

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.

Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.

Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.

With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?

A YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.

One of the recent reviews for the book

This is a totally different genre for me, but this year I have been reading books by so many exciting new authors that I wanted to give this book a try, as it had been recommended to me. This book would be great for teenagers, or young adults and it follows the magical story of teenager Amelina as she steps into a world of crystals, magic and wonderment. There are some likeable and not so likeable characters and both are really well written. The book weaves a story of the main character learning new skills and you see her personal growth throughout the story. Nothing is what is seems and you want to find out how Amelia will use her enchanted gifts and learn who she can trust. A book packed full of intrigue, believable characters and poetic verse. I would look out for more books by this author. 

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B074CDJPY9

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L

Find more reviews and follow M.J. Mallon on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17064826.M_J_Mallon

Connect to Marjorie Mallon via her website: https://mjmallon.com/

HL Carpenter are a mother and daughter writing team for children, teens and YA readers. I thought this book would make a perfect gift for Christmas, especially as it is summer in the southern hemisphere. Pirate Summer.

About the book

Fifteen year old Josey is a liar. She’d like to stop. But after Mom left, the lies started popping out, like the time Josey left her little brother at the library and told Dad he’d run away.

Then Josey meets a boy who tells bigger whoppers than she does. He says he’s the son of a privateer who’s been dead two centuries. He’s so convincing Josey’s brother believes every word and sets off to find the privateer’s hidden treasure.

When her brother disappears, Josey is sure she knows where he’s gone. But everyone thinks she’s lying again. Everyone, that is, except the so-called privateer’s son. He knows she’s telling the truth because jeweled riches are only part of his tale. There’s also the snooperscope, a device that makes time leaps possible, like the one that brought him to the present.

The story is fantastical…and yet Josey will do anything to save her brother—including traveling back in time two hundred years with a boy she can’t trust.

One of the reviews for the book

15-year-old Josey is struggling to cope with her parents divorce. Josey has a reputation for lying (which becomes more problematic as the story unfolds). She and her younger brother are sent to spend summer with their grandmother. In the seaside town, she meets Mark, a mysterious young man with a dubious reputation. But Mark is much more than he seems. Without giving away spoilers, the reader will be pulled into an intriguing, page-turning adventure. This story is written well, with a dash of romance suitable for tweens.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GY7EKNA

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pirate-Summer-HL-Carpenter-ebook/dp/B01GY7EKNA

A selection of other books for adults, YA and children by HL Carpenter

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B007SHS9LA/

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/HL-Carpenter/e/B007SHS9LA/

You will find a lot more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5820921.H_L_Carpenter

Connect to HL Carpenter via their website and blog: https://www.hlcarpenter.com/

The next author who writes for pre-teens and young adults if Darlene Foster with her Amanda travel series... Her books are full of adventure and also introduce children and teens to other parts of the world and different cultures.. Here is an excellent example Amanda In New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About the book

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Even though I am way beyond the age bracket market this series is intended to, the child in me truly enjoyed Amanda and her class mates’ adventures on their school trip to New Mexico, discovering enchanting villages and people along the way and getting into all kinds of scraps that may or may not involve spirits and otherworldly phenomena. I especially enjoyed learning about a part of the world I have never been to, in particular the town of Taos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its History, as well as the Day of the Dead celebrations and Doña Sebastiana, the female saint of death. Darlene Foster takes the young reader into a whole new world, which might just make them travel and explore for themselves. A lot of fun!

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels-ebook/dp/B01MT8LXAR/

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website: www.darlenefoster.ca

And finally today.. another children’s and young adult author who also delights more mature readers.  Deanie Humphrys-Dunne and  her book Charlene the Star.

About Charlene the Star

Charlene the Star was born into a family of famous racehorses. Unlike her big brother, Charlie, Charlene decides she doesn’t like racing. How will she explain this to her mom?

How does she show her trainers she doesn’t like racing? Will she become a model instead? Will Charlene discover her natural gift? Her career path takes many twists and turns before she finds her place to shine. You’ll love reading about Charlene’s adventures. She may surprise you with her unusual talent.

Charlene the Star is first in the series of Charlene the Star books. The others are Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. In addition, she wrote an award-winning children’s autobiography, Tails of Sweetbrier and a fictional story, Charlie the Horse. Her books have won a number of awards and recognitions.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Donna G. Kelley 4.0 out of 5 stars The Hidden Talent September 6, 2018

This is an endearing story about a horse that did not have the ability or the interest to accommodate what everyone expected of her. She knew that she was meant for a different talent. This lesson can be applied to children as they read the book and answer the questions at the end of the story.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06X3RH9SN

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Charlene-Star-Deanie-Humphrys-Dunne-ebook/dp/B06X3RH9SN

Also by Deanie Dumphrys-Dunne

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Deanie-Humphrys-Dunne/e/B003FFS15S

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deanie-Humphrys-Dunne/e/B003FFS15

Read more reviews and follow Deanie Humphrys- Dunne on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3309880.Deanie_Humphrys_Dunne

Connect to Deanie on her website: http://www.childrensbookswithlifelessons.com

I hope that this selection of children, pre-teen and young adult books has encouraged you to buy as gifts for your family and friends… more to come and the start of the other books in the cafe and bookstore over the weekend. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Rewind – Writer in Residence – The Birch Maiden by Paul Andruss


I am sharing this particular early post by Paul Andruss as it introduced me to the work of Donata Zawa who created some of the illustrations for Tales from the Irish Garden. I cannot recommend her work highly enough as she worked from ideas I had for the stories and created such lovely images.

The Birch Maiden by Paul Andruss – Illustrated by Donata Zawadzka

picture1

The Legend

The Birch Maiden is a Scottish folktale about a beautiful fairy inhabiting a birch tree. One evening she is tempted by a basket of apples left on the ground by soldiers sleeping in the grove. One young handsome soldier awakens, and seeing her is instantly smitten. When discovered, the shy creature flees into her tree, which only makes the soldier desire her more. Eventually he learns of a way of making the fairy maid fall in love with him and she forsakes her tree to become his bride.

Here the story takes various twists and turns depending on the tradition that preserved it. Popular tales are rarely straight forward. Stories diverge due to being passed down for hundreds of years within the families of professional storytellers, from father to son. No doubt, some versions are embellished with orphaned fragments of otherwise forgotten tales.

Sometimes the fairy can only be freed if the soldier speaks her name three times under a waxing moon. Cunningly the soldier learns her name by hiding in the woods and listening to her sisters as they dance and sing in the glade. In this version the maid may sicken and die when she forsakes her tree for a mortal man’s love. In other versions she loses her memory, until one day she learns, from the song of a tame robin, her tree is dying and abandons her husband to resume her former life in the wildwood.

In darker versions, the soldier tempts her with an enchanted apple, obtained from a witch (sometimes the forest queen in disguise); traded for an impetuous promise to sacrifice what loves him most. He forgets to warn his wife to send out his favourite hound to greet him when he comes home from war. Thus his wife, or young daughter, is condemned to return to the tree, and the soldier learns the harsh penalty of trafficking with fairies.

The History

The Birch Maiden is reminiscent of ancient Greek tree-nymphs called dryads and hamadryads. The difference between the two is hamadryads die if their tree is harmed.
The word nymph requires explanation. Nymphs are girls of marriageable age. In ancient and medieval times, a girl was married off as soon as she was sexually mature, often around the age of 11. The classical world seeing women as inferior, and somewhat feral, feared their unbridled sexual appetite; which could only be contained in marriage.

Wild women such as Dryads and Maenads were viewed as sexual predators because they existed outside the civilised boundaries set by men. To be fair, the women followers of the wine god Bacchus, called Maenads, were pretty mean drunks who tended to rip blokes limb from limb after a night on the old Lambrini. But then again, with attitudes like that maybe the men deserved it. The Ancient Greeks were not half as trendy as we like to think.

Finding Grecian tree-nymphs at the northern edge of Europe is not surprising when considering the migrations of peoples during ancient times. An Irish tribe called the Scottii gave Scotland its name when they settled in the east by Hadrian’s Wall during the early Dark Ages. Here they met other migrants from Belgium, Holland, Germany and Denmark.

Many European tribes believed they originated in Greece. Germanic tribes and the Norsemen claimed they came from the ancient city of Byzantium. The antique Irish ‘Book of Conquests’ tells of the Fir Bolge, who lived as slaves in Greece.

Perhaps these are racial memories of an ecological disaster from 7,500 years ago, when the Mediterranean Sea broke through at the Bosporus (near where Byzantium would stand) in a mighty waterfall that caused the Black Sea to double in size in a matter of months.

Archaeologists estimate during this catastrophic flood, the water level rose by 5 meters a day. With farming established on the shores of the Black Sea for almost 4,000 years, the panicked population fled to Southern Greece where the first farming settlements in Europe are found around this time.

While we are familiar with the Biblical tale of Noah, not many people know is it is based on a number of flood stories thousands of years older that survived in the Greek myth of Deucalion and the Celtic of Hu Gadarn.

It is possible the Birch Maiden is an even more ancient. A tradition from the largely unknown aboriginal inhabitants of Northern Europe: the fishermen and hunters who had lived there since the Ice Age retreated some 13,000 years ago.

The incoming farmers already believed the gods punished mortals for clearing woodland without first propitiating the tree-nymphs, so it is easy to see them adapting the birch into their own traditions. Due to its shimmering white bark, the birch was already known as the Lady of the Woods and sacred to the primeval White Goddess of Old Europe.

The birch was the first tree to colonise Europe when the Ice Age ended and the mile-high glaciers that stretched almost down to London melted. Because it is well adapted to the cold it was also the first to leaf and so became a symbol of impending spring.

The Irish Ogham Alphabet names each of its letters after a tree which either leafs, fruits or flowers in succession throughout the thirteen lunar months of the year. The first letter is ‘Beth’: the birch. Its month starts after the winter solstice extending from the plough days of late December to the 20th of January. The first ogham message was 7 Bs, scratched on a birch twig that read: 7 times will they wife be carried off to fairyland unless the birch is her overseer. It is thought the word ‘book’ derives from its ancient name.

Associated with fairies, witches and the goddess, the birch encourages fertility and health. Cradles were woven from birch twigs to protect babies. Cows herded with a birch switch would be become pregnant. Maypoles were made from a birch trunk, and at Halloween witches flew to their Great Sabbath on birch brooms after first anointing themselves with a flying ointment made from the hallucinogenic fly-agaric, or fairy-cap toadstool, found growing amid birch trees roots.

Birch rods were used to beat wickedness from lunatics, criminals and children, a punishment used until recent times in the Isle of Man. Brooms made from birch twigs swept ill luck from the house and were used to beat the parish boundaries in spring to drive away all evil.

©Paul Andruss 2017

I would now very much like to introduce you to the wonderful artist and illustrator Donata Zawadzka who has graced my work with her art.

picture2Polish born Donata Zawadzka is one half of an accomplished husband and wife artistic team, now living in Gravesend. I have known Dona for 6 years.

After seeing her work on the internet and falling in love with it, I cheekily asked if she would mind doing some illustrations for Thomas the Rhymer. She agreed, but only if she liked the book. Fortunately for me she did!

Although she has many styles I fell in love with her delicate black and white line drawings reminiscent of the classic Victorian illustrators such as Charles Snicket, Walter Crane and of course the great Arthur Rackham. The Birch Maiden is a prime example.

I am sure that you will love her work so please to and view her outstanding art on her site. If you are looking for an illustrator you will find that Dona is a dream to work with and your books will be beautifully enhanced with her artwork.

picture3Connect to Donata Zawadzka

View her website : http://dezawadzka.wix.com/donatasgallery
Buy her work on Redbubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/donattien/works/7004053-the-birch-maiden?c=32080-ink-illustrations
Like Dona on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donataewa.zawadzka?fref=ts
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonataEZawadzka

Thomas the Rhymer

You can find out more about Paul Andruss and his posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

And as an extra bonus.. here is the gif that Paul designed for me to celebrate the release of Tales from the Irish Garden, including some of the illustrations by Donata.

 

#BookLaunch – Tales from the Irish Garden by Sally Cronin…..


At last the day has arrived and Tales from the Irish Garden is now available.

The book has been three years in the writing, mainly because what began as short stories in line with the first collection, turned into a full-length book. As we moved back from Spain to Ireland, house hunted, and then embarked on a renovation project, there were breaks from  the process. However, the upside was that I had the time to adapt and create new characters and adventures with more freedom. It also gave me time to meet Donata Zawadzka, courtesy of Paul Andruss, and after seeing her wonderful illustrations, I commissioned a number for the book to showcase some of the lead characters. More about Donata shortly.

Many of those that lived in the palace in Spain in the garden of our house, followed me across land and sea to settle in a magic garden here in Ireland. The larger statues and guardians, sadly had to remain but as you will discover as you read the book, they were not abandoned but relocated. As an introduction to Tales from the Irish Garden, I included a Previously.…. so that those who have not read the original stories could get up to speed.

Here then is the blurb… and an excerpt from the introduction….

The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree.

Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature. Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight.

As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell. This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..

Here is a short excerpt from the introduction to Tales from the Irish Garden and please meet Queen Filigree as created by Donata Zawadzka

Previously…..In the first volume of stories, we had left Queen Filigree, and her magic kingdom of Magia, recovering from an attack from the Winter Fairy who had threatened to disrupt the final summer ball of the year.

The Winter Fairy inhabited a garden deep in the heart of the Emerald Island. It had been his kingdom for a hundred years, and in a fit of pique, a number of winter’s ago, he had frozen everything within his realm, including the humans and animals… He was now bored, but on the grapevine, he heard of a place where the sun shone for three hundred days a year, and this fired up his imagination. Timing was perfect, as he was told that if he could freeze the ancient fairy kingdom on the night of the summer ball, when all were dancing above ground in the gardens, they would be frozen into statues and visible to humans for all eternity.

Although it was only October, he had left his kingdom and blown on westerly winds towards this sun filled country. The lands that he passed over experienced bitterly cold winds and frosts that made the people huddle in their homes around hastily lit fires. Weather experts predicted that this unusual early freeze was without a doubt, the sign that a new ice age was imminent.

The Winter Fairy however, had underestimated the power of a secret underground movement in his own kingdom… There was a mole in his organisation and a rabbit and a rat. The rabbit and his family, had cousins who enjoyed the patronage of Queen Filigree in the magic kingdom, in fact one of them played in the royal band. He was a bit too fond of the Amber Nectar, but a good sort all the same.

The story continues across the four seasons as the fairy court spends a last Christmas in Spain and then seek sanctuary in the Magic Garden on the Emerald Island.

 

The book is now available in Kindle on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

Here is a selection of my other books… an amazing gif designed by Paul Andruss… thanks Paul

All my books in Ebook are available for Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

You can read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

About illustrator Donata Zawadzka

My name is Donata Ewa Zawadzka. I’m Polish born artist living in Gravesend, Kent. After completing a Diploma in Interior Design in Poland I moved into United Kingdom and here I obtained a Diploma in Illustrating Children’s Books in London Art College in 2010. Since then I finished 2 ebook for children in collaboration with British and American writers. I took part in 2 exhibitions in Dartford and London. I’m continuing to work as freelance artist available for commission.

Connect to Donata Zawadzka

View her website : http://www.artdonataezawadzka.com
Buy her work on Redbubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/donattien/works/7004053-the-birch-maiden?c=32080-ink-illustrations
Like Dona on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donataewa.zawadzka?fref=ts
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonataEZawadzka

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this book launch. I would be very grateful if you would consider reblogging the post or sharing in any other way that you can.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence – Fifty Ways to leave your Mother: with apologies to Rhyming Simon by Paul Andruss


Prince Charming has awoken from an extended slumber (he was actually working his backside off on work projects), enticed by the aroma of food served at the End of Summer Party, and the yearning to be back among friends whose banter he had sorely missed…….sorry Paul ♥

Paul has promised from time to time to entertain us with one of his legendary tales so that we do not go into withdrawal. And I am delighted to say he slipped a new post over to me last week… hot off the press.

There has been quite a bit of press recently about the ‘bank of mum and dad‘ and the fact that many adult children are moving back home because of the difficulty of getting on the property ladder, or cost of renting. In Ireland it used to be quite common for bachelors to remain at home until 40 + or longer, until they would marry.

This post offers some suggestions on how to leave home and specifically your mother… of course in Paul Andruss style…

Fifty Ways to leave your Mother: with apologies to Rhyming Simon by Paul Andruss

My hands were shaking as I picked up the phone
You’re almost 40 she said, and you’re still living at home.
Don’t want excuses because I’ve heard them all before
There must be fifty ways to leave your mother
We’ve been together now since we were twenty five
I’ve sacrificed to you the best years of my life
And all I ever get is your evasion and your lies
There must be fifty ways to leave your mother

Fifty ways to leave your mother
Act like a man, Stan
Tell her you’re gone, John
That you’re getting a flat, Matt
And that is that
I don’t want to marry, Harry
Wouldn’t like you to worry, Murray
I’m not looking to wed, Fred
We’ll live in sin

My girlfriends stare at me agog with disbelief
Are you still going out with that sad loser Keith?
Pack him in they say, it will come as a relief
He must have heard, fifty ways to leave his mother
Been patient long enough, don’t listen to him no more.
All his excuses, you must have heard them all before.
Make your mind up and kick him out the door
You’ve told him, fifty ways to leave his mother

Fifty ways to leave his mother
We’re telling you the truth, Ruth
So get a new plan, Ann
Find yerself man, an’
Live happily
Get your head straight, Kate
Go out on a blind date
Don’t hesitate, or wait
For the likes of him

Mum was ironing stuff for me weekend with the lads
Off down to London to watch the footie match
All things considered I really don’t have it that bad
Livin’ with Mother
I put my feet up while she makes a cup of tea
Though she doesn’t say a word, I must agree
To lose this cushy life of mine would be insanity
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

Fifty ways to leave you lover
Just ignore her calls, Paul
Send her a text, Rex
It might sound better, Trevor
Jotted down in a letter
Pretend you’re not in, Jim
When she lookin’ for a fight, Mike
Or perhaps Mum, you could
Tell her for me?

Say you’re two-timin’, Simon
Tell her you’re gay, Ray
Pretend that you’re dead, Ed
Or going to jail
It might sound a lot better
Written down in a letter
Hell, I’ll do whatever
To get myself free

Repeat chorus (until convinced)

The problem is all inside your head she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover
She said it’s really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself at the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

Fifty ways to leave your lover
You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

She said it grieves me so to see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again
I said I appreciate that and would you please explain
About the fifty ways
She said why don’t we both just sleep on it tonight
And I believe in the morning you’ll begin to see the light
And then she kissed me and I realized she probably was right
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

Fifty ways to leave your lover
You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

Fifty Ways to Leave Your Love: Paul Simon
© Universal Music Publishing Group

About Paul Andruss

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

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer

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

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Rhymer-Jack-Hughes-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00EPQL7KC

Finn Mac Cool

Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Finn-Mac-Cool-Paul-Andruss-ebook/dp/B018OJZ9KY

Connect to Paul on social media.

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

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

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally