Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Book Launch, Birch Maidens, Sausages and Spies by the Sea..

Welcome to the weekly round up and for me it has been an exciting week with the launch of my latest book. And also from a renovation perspective…the weather stayed dry enough for David to paint the outside wall of our garden facing the road. The lawn goes down this week and work will begin on the back patio… it has been two and a half years, so you can see why this is a watershed moment.

I know we are only just into October but I have been making plans for the Christmas promotions starting November 12th.. Primarily to make sure that every author in the Cafe and Bookstore is included, and to that end if you are not in the Cafe and Bookstore yet… here is a post to get you started.  Also if you are in the Cafe already, please let me know if you have a book out in the next few weeks so I can set up your New on the Shelves promotion.

As always I am very grateful for the amazing contributions of talented writers who spend time and a great deal of effort to put together posts for us.

Paul Andruss is on a sabbatical at the moment so I am sharing some of his earlier posts from 2017 for you to enjoy. The Birch Maiden is a wonderful legend, and in this post she is brought alive by the illustration by Donata Zawadzka who is the illustrator for my latest book.


Last week Carol Taylor identified some of the unexpected ingredients to be found in some brands off hotdogs. So that you don’t go off the delights of sausages totally, this week she gives us the recipe and spices to make our own.

Delighted that Jessica Norrie is back with us after the summer break with a post on novels from 1903 to the present day, which feature spies and criminals in a coastal setting. Some classics from authors such as Agatha Christie, Erskine Childers, Graham Greene and in a modern vein…Ian McQuire.

Linda Bethea shares the last of her Mixed Nuts family stories… and the good news is that we will see Linda here on a more regular basis as a guest writer.

Esme gave us her predictions for the coming month….

Hi everyone and I hope you are looking forward to the month ahead. One of the main events, is that Venus is retrograde from this week until mid-November. People assume this means that love is going to fly out of the window… but in fact, what it does, is highlight areas of your relationships that could use some TLC.

October for me is an interesting month, in that I find it a ‘buffer’ month, between late summer, early autumn and winter in the Northern Hemisphere and spring and early summer for the heat of high Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

This week – what I was up to in 1985, music from Foreigner... and a request from Darlene Foster. This week 1986 and more requests.

A highlight for me….

This week was very special for me and my latest book was launched with some beautiful illustrations from Donata Zawadzka. I am very grateful to everyone for liking, reblogging and sharing across their social media. It was amazing and I cannot tell you how delighted I am by the response. I was also thrilled to find my first review for the book and that was wonderful. My thanks to Paul Andruss for creating a gif with the new cover and a selection of my other books which I share with you here and it includes some of the illustrations.

And the book’s first review

Appreciative reader 4.0 out of 5 stars Escape from the real world 6 October 2018

Fairy Queen Filigree moves her court from the dry Spanish plains to the Emerald Isle, where she and her courtiers soon need warm tweed clothing and fortifying amber nectar. But romance is on the cards to warm things up too. If you want a gently paced read full of enchanting detail, soothe yourself in the author’s carefully imagined world of fairy feasts, storytellers and ever so slightly petulant princesses. Like going back to childhood… This isn’t my usual thing but made a welcome change from real life – and there are some beautiful illustrations too.

Other personal ‘stuff’

I responded to Colleen Chesebro’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge with a haiku.

This weekend’s short stories from What’s in a Name – meet Jane and Jack.

Jane – The Surprise

Jack – A VIP Visitor

I am catching up with my reviews on the books that I have read over the summer… slowly but surely

Part two of my interview with author Leslie Tate… childhood memories of jungles and monkey poop…

New books on the shelves this week.

Cafe Update – Reviews and News.

If you are a regular visitor you will know that I consider Vitamin D to be one of the most essential nutrients for our health. More and more research is identifying new health conditions that improve with an increase in Vitamin D through absorption of our skin (Sunshine Vitamin) or in diet in combination with supplementation.

This article appeared last week which would suggest that migraine sufferers could decrease the number of attacks by supplementing with the vitamin.

Starting to appear in the headlines across the media is news that following last year’s high death rates from the flu, and the ineffectiveness of the 2017 vaccine, a new maxi-strain format is going to be available this year.

Humour and afternoon Videos

A selection of blog posts each day that I have read and enjoyed. Sorry not to mention all that I have visited but I hope I have shared most on social media.

Debby Gies, Leslie Tate, Carol Taylor and Teagan Geneviene

The Story Reading Ape, Claire Fullerton, Christy Birmingham and Jennie Fitzkee

Sue Vincent, D.G. Kaye and Annette Rochelle Aben

Charles E. Yallowitz, John W.Howell, Teri Polen, Mae Clair and Beaton Mabaso.

Jenny in Neverland, Pamela Wight and Noelle Granger.

Thank you again for dropping in and your ongoing support… it is much appreciated.. 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


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 :
Buy her work on Redbubble:
Like Dona on Facebook:
Follow her on Twitter:

Thomas the Rhymer

You can find out more about Paul Andruss and his posts in this directory:

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:

And Amazon US:

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:

And Amazon US:

You can read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads:

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 :
Buy her work on Redbubble:
Like Dona on Facebook:
Follow her on Twitter:

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.


Finn Mac Cool

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


Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory:

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

Smorgasbord Writer in Residence – Back by Popular Request – The Party’s Over – Cabaret : the Evolution of a Musical by Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss was unable to join in with his usual amazing posts over the End of Summer Party, but he has written an exclusive piece to end the party week with a flourish… Thanks Paul…you are a star…

Most of us are familiar with the musical Cabaret, but Paul goes into the background and the real life characters that morphed into Sally Bowles and the rest of the cast.

Cabaret: the Evolution of a Musical by Paul Andruss

In 1931 Christopher Isherwood moved to Berlin, aged 26. At the time Christopher said he moved to escape the stifling confines of upper middle class England. He did, but later admitted the main attraction was the laissez-faire attitude of Berlin’s working class young men inhabiting the sexual underworld.

These young men were happy be available to comparatively wealthy foreigners, not in a professional capacity, more as ‘young brothers’. They received accommodation, meals, drinks, clothes and gifts; borrowed money they never intended to pay back, to ultimately squander on the female prostitutes they became infatuated with. It is a mistake to see them as victims. Consider them as business men wheeling and dealing in what they had to hand, so to speak.

Paris had long been the city for lovers. Not to be out done by its rival, between the wars Berlin reinvented itself as the city of eroticism and decadence, as Amsterdam would do in the late 60s. The 1930s saw a world-wide depression. In 1932 a third of all working men in Germany’s Weimar Republic were unemployed.

Berlin fascinated the world. Many saw the city as a microcosm of the future in Europe and North America. Bloody street battles between the partisans of international communism and nationalist fascism were already playing out not only in Berlin and Paris but across Spain and Italy. In America and Britain there was a sense of impending revolution. Although critics vainly pointed out, there was little to choose between Communism and Fascism, the only thing that concerned most people was which side would win.

Isherwood wrote a best-selling novel and a short story collection about his time in Berlin. The most famous was Sally Bowles. Allied victory in the Second World War increased the public’s fascination with Isherwood’s account of the rise of Nazism. The other way round, his books would have been proscribed and burned.

In 1951 John Van Druten wrote a Broadway play based on the Berlin stories, focusing on Isherwood and Sally Bowles’ platonic friendship, explained in the play by presenting Isherwood as a driven writer and Sally’s fear of destroying their friendship with a sexual dalliance. Van Druten took his title from Goodbye to Berlin’s opening line: ‘I am a camera’.

In the play Sally and Christopher are English, as they were in life. Christopher is drawn to the bright brittle Sally, who has a habit of choosing the wrong men. Sally is pretty but talentless; singing in a rundown cabaret club while waiting to become a movie star.

The crisis comes when a wealthy American playboy gets Christopher and Sally to show him around Berlin. By the time he leaves Sally is pregnant. Gentlemanly Christopher, now in love, offers to marry Sally.

Sally cannot renounce her chaotic bohemian existence for respectability. She has an abortion and blithely talks about going to Paris with another man she has just met to become a movie star. Christopher returns to England alone.

The musical Cabaret followed in 1966. Originally it was conceived as a straight play prefaced by a number of songs sung in the seedy Kit Kat Cabaret club where Sally worked. The play quickly transformed into standard musical format, featuring the cast singing about their emotions, while keeping the cabaret-stage songs to comment on the social changes during the Nazis rise to power.

One such song If You Could See Her Through My Eyes is sung by the MC about his love for a female gorilla. It ends with the line: ‘If you could see her through my eyes she wouldn’t look Jewish at all’. Meant as a condemnation of the German people’s attitude change that dehumanised fellow Jewish citizens, it worked too well on the stage. It so outraged American Jewish groups the last line was changed to a Yiddish word meaning different. The original lyrics were reinserted in the 1972 film of the musical.

The musical’s plot was simple. A love story between American Cliff Bradshaw (Bradshaw was Isherwood’s mother’s maiden name) an innocent abroad in Berlin looking for inspiration for his great novel, and the unchanged Sally Bowles.

Out went the play’s secondary characters and in came the doomed courtship of the boarding house landlady by a Jewish grocer. She abandons him initially because of fear and finally because her attitude hardens against the Jews.

The main action takes place in the Kit Kat Cabaret club. The ending remains the same. Pregnant Sally has an abortion and returns to her old job as a cabaret singer where she sings the title song: a paean to recklessly seizing the day.

When Bob Fosse made a film in 1972, Sally (Liza Minelli) became American and Cliff, renamed Brian, was a stuffy closeted homosexual Englishman. Fosse returned to the original idea of a play with music, keeping almost all the songs to stage numbers in the club. The exceptions were Tomorrow Belongs to Me and Married (Hieraten).

Tomorrow Belongs to Me originally sung by the club’s pro-nazi waiters, was given to a young boy in the Hitler Youth. Originally sung by the landlady Hieraten appears as a German gramophone record Sally plays.

Around 20 show numbers were cut and two new numbers added: Sally’s Maybe this Time and The Money Song (replacing a similar themed-song Sitting Pretty). Fosse reintroduced elements from the play in favour of the musical such as the love story between gigilo Fritz and the wealth Jewish heiress Natalia Landauer. He also reintroduced the playboy who knocks up Sally in the form of a wealthy German aristocrat.

By 1972 women’s liberation and sexual liberation were powerful voices. Fosse used both elements to make the film relevant. Brian was explicitly gay, although he falls for, and has sex with, Sally. The aristocratic playboy was a bisexual who in the words of the script…

Brian: ‘Screw Max.’

Sally: ‘I do.’

Brian: ‘So do I.’

Sally was less of a victim and genuinely talented as befitted Liza with a Z. Although Brian offers to marry her and make her respectable, she fears their love will become eroded by his homosexual slips and her penchant for booze and the odd casual screw. She has the abortion and returns to the Cabaret as a single independent woman. When she sings Cabaret it is a fierce declaration of independence and a rejection of the bourgeois values.

Both points resonated with the audience.

The film ends in the same way as the musical with the MC, reprising the opening song that welcomed the audience and invited them to forget their troubles. Now the MC hopes their troubles are forgotten and wishes them Auf Wiedersehen, A bientot, but not Goodbye. In the distorted mirror over hanging the stage is reflected an audience wearing the brown shirts of Hitler’s SA, later replaced by the SS.

The film’s portrayal of controversial issues earned it an Adults Only certificate: the first time one was given to a musical. I saw it when I was 15 with my 11 year old brother. Heaven knows how we got into the cinema. I don’t think they really cared. My brother hated it, whereas I, at threshold of adulthood, was enthralled. I have always cherished two of film’s ideas incorporating them into my personal mantra for life.

From The Money Song:

Money makes the world go round, of that we both are sure. Pfffit on being POOR!

From the song Two Ladies:

Twoseees beats onesees, but nothing beats threes

When the stage musical of Cabaret was revived in 1993 London, times had changed. The director Sam Mendes could not in all justice ignore the iconic film. He not only included the two songs written for the film but also kept the frank adult themes while keeping to the original musical book and score. American Cliff kisses one of the boys in the Kit Kat Club.

At the end of the musical when the MC is singing Auf Wiedersehen, A bientot, he takes off his coat to show his concentration camp uniform: striped pyjamas sewn with the yellow star of the Jew and the pink triangle of the homosexual. Reminding us how the Nazis dealt with those they considered sub-human and degenerate.

For his star, Mendes chose 29 year old Jane Horrocks as Sally Bowles. Little Voice, a play and later a film, was written to show off Horrocks incredible vocal range, control and talent for mimicry. It was about a reclusive young woman pushed into the limelight through her talent to mimic distinctive singers such as Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland and Gracie Fields.

So I leave you with Jane Horrocks as Sally Bowles.

Sally has had the abortion. She wants to continue with her career. She and Cliff argue. He says she has no talent and the only way she ever gets a job is by sleeping with the club owner.

Watching Horrocks sing Cabaret is probably one of the most chilling things you will ever see: a complete mental breakdown in 4 minutes flat. It is the perfect metaphor for a country living on its nerves, that is about to consign itself, and the world, to flames.

Everyone who wants to write should read Isherwood. His prose is stark, elegant, clear, erudite, multi-layered and devastatingly witty. No wonder he was considered one of the most gifted novelists of his generation.

I have finished re-reading Christopher and his Kind after a 30 year gap. He is a joy to read. If you want to learn more about Isherwood’s time in Berlin in the 1930s try watching the no-holds-barred BBC production of the book. Matt Smith looks uncannily like a young Isherwood. You can watch the video here:

The portrayal of Sally Bowles in the novella and subsequently in the play, musical and film infuriated Sally’s real-life inspiration Jean Ross. Intelligent and serious, Jean was a lifelong communist. She died of cervical cancer in 1973 after meeting up, and making up, with Christopher Isherwood three years earlier.

Jean Ross: the original Sally Bowles (Wikipedia)

©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

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.

Finn Mac Cool

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

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory:

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

Smorgasbord Invitation to the End of Summer Party Deja Vu -August 25th – 26th – Far From This Thing by Paul Andruss


At virtually this time of year – 26th – 28th August, I held last year’s end of summer party. It therefore seemed appropriate to share the post that Paul Andruss wrote for the event again. He is busy at the moment but will be with us in spirit tomorrow and Sunday…

This year I am going for broke… four posts to promote 36 bloggers and authors in two days.

Each one is a meal. Brunch, Afternoon Tea and Dinner on Saturday and Sunday Lunch.

There will be lots of food, the guests, links to their blogs and books, and of course music. This is also an opportunity for you to drop in to one or all of the meals, and to leave a comment sharing a little about yourself, a link to your latest post and to your books on Amazon. It is a party and you need to mingle.

To kick things off, here is Paul’s post from last year that I hope those of you new to the blog will enjoy and those that have read before… I hope it puts you in the mood for the next two days.

See you there starting with Brunch Saturday 10.30 GMT.

Over to Paul.

On hearing that I was holding my end of summer party at the weekend here on Smorgasbord, Paul Andruss donned his dancing shoes and headphones and volunteered some suggestions for music that we might play.

Paul once he gets on the dance floor is unstoppable and in this post we learn how to identify if we are an anchorite or life and soul of the party… (clue: one dances on a pillar and the other on a table). Paul also compares my writing to Fay Weldon.. (he does sometimes wander off into the realms of fantasy but I am flattered nevertheless). Anyway we also get to hear and absorb some of the poetry of Keith Reid who wrote all the lyrics for Procol Harum… including the classic Whiter Shade of Pale.

Grab your dancing shoes and get some practice in for tomorrow..

Far from this thing by Paul Andruss

Yes, I am fully aware how churlish it is to scribble something called: Far from this Thing when a dear friend invites you to a party. What can I say? I am a born anchorite. That’s why you always find me in the kitchen at parties.

An anchorite was a type of hermit, who during the early Christian Roman Empire, decamped to live on top of a pillar. Although in my humble opinion spending one’s life on top of a pillar seems very camp indeed.

Why did they do it you may ask?

Good question.

Perhaps they felt it took them far from this thing, you know, the old the sin-bin of the flesh. Or perhaps they were merely fans of David Blaine.

As with all exhibitionists, they gathered quite a crowd, who would invariable shout up their problems. And no doubt the holy man, being of limited experience, having spent his life on top of a pillar, would shout back down the answer to all life’s problems was to get a pillar of your own.

As these solitary saints invariably attracted hordes of followers, who wanted nothing more than to set up communities where they could all be alone together, it is a wonder some ancient builder didn’t have the gumption to offer designer pillars, with added features: like an internal staircase in case of fire, a flushing toilet and perhaps a sun roof.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings; let’s get to the point in hand…

When speaking of Sally’s work I always say how I admire the way she paints an entire scene in a handful of words and conjures any emotion with a well-turned phrase. She often makes me think of Faye Weldon’s The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil (while sincerely hoping Sally is more pleased than offended by the comparison).

The ‘Lives and Loves’ is a huge story told in few words. Each isolated scene fits, jigsaw-like, to propel the narrative forward at breakneck pace. If Faye Weldon had made less brave choices, its genius would have been chipped away. In the same way, Sally’s prose has no waste. Yet clipped of irrelevance, it sacrifices none of its power or art.
Without colour or nuance, words are reduced to bland reportage. While report is essential to narrative, it doesn’t put a shiver down your spine or bring you up short with a sharp intake of breath. Yet if pace struggles under the burden of description; if we painfully explain motivation, and the significance of every look, nod or shrug, readers are bored long before we catch their interest. So where do we draw a line?

Let me introduce Keith Reid, a bona fide poet who wrote lyrics for 1960s psychadelic Brit pop band called Procol Harum. It is claimed Procol Harum is bastard Latin for Far from this thing. In actual fact the real Latin for Far from this Thing is Hoc Procul. The band, to be honest, only ever claimed Procol Harum was the name of a friend’s pedigree Siamese cat.

In contrast to novelists, like Sally and Faye Weldon, as a lyric poet, Keith Reid comes from the opposite direction by stripping out the linear narrative to leave only emotional affect. In this way he can produce a story in half a stanza, making him the daddy of micro-fiction.

At this point I need to confess I am not a whole-hearted fan of micro-fiction. It often seems a bit of a curate’s egg (good in parts) – used to say well, things that should not be said at all.

By learning how the likes of Sally and Faye Weldon strip prose so the story tells itself, rather than is told, we become better writers. Except, of course, the problem is we read them because they are good writers, and so become seduced by the tale and forget the lesson. This is why Keith Reid is useful. His lack of conventional narrative means there is little to get lost in.

Procol Harum’s 2nd single Homburg tells the story of a mature business-woman’s, indiscretion. Her subsequent realisation, in the sober light of day, leaves her dejected young lover unable to see where it all went wrong.

Your multilingual business friend
Has packed her bags and fled
Leaving only ash-filled ashtrays
And the lipsticked unmade bed

Your trouser cuffs are dirty
And your shoes are laced up wrong
You’d better take off your homburg
‘Cause your overcoat is too long

The final verse describes the lover’s Kafkaesque depression of almost apocalyptical proportions. He suffers only as the young suffer. You would never find Keith’s ending in a story, but it perfectly expresses the youngster’s unfathomable rejection…

The town clock in the market square
Stands waiting for the hour
When its hands they both turn backwards
And on meeting will devour
Both themselves and also any fool
Who dares to tell the time
And the sun and moon will shatter
And the signposts cease to sign

With A Salty Dog Keith writes a complete novel, rich in imagery and myth, love and longing, in three short stanzas.

All hands on deck, we’ve run a float,
I heard the Captain cry.
Explore the ship, replace the cook,
Let no one leave alive.
Across the straits, around the horn,
How far can sailors fly?
A twisted path, our tortured course,
And no one left alive.

We sailed for parts unknown to man,
Where ships come home to die.
No lofty peak, nor fortress bold,
Could match our captain’s eye.
Upon the seventh seasick day,
We made our port of call.
A sand so white, and sea so blue,
No mortal place at all.

We fired the guns, and burned the mast,
And rowed from ship to shore.
The captain cried, we sailors wept,
Our tears were tears of joy!
Now many moons and many Junes,
Have passed since we made land.
A Salty Dog, the seaman’s log,
Your witness, my own hand.

Earlier I used the word Kafkaesque. It pertains to Franz Kafka one of the major figures of 20th-century literature, whose work fused the clinically real and absurdly fantastic. His isolated protagonists faced surreal situations and battled the sort of incomprehensible bureaucracy prevalent in the Austro-Hungarian Empire before World War I.

Metamorphosis chronicles a man’s transformation into a giant cockroach; The Trial a nightmarish prosecution by an implacable faceless authority for an unnamed crime, unknown both to the accused and the reader. Today, we have largely forgotten how to write like this. Over to Keith for a reminder of how to layer surrealist, even absurdist, images one on the other to produce, in this case, a spiralling descent into madness.

Shine on Brightly
My Prussian-blue electric clock’s
alarm bell rings, it will not stop
and I can see no end in sight
and search in vain by candlelight
for some long road that goes nowhere
for some signpost that is not there
And even my befuddled brain
is shining brightly, quite insane

The chandelier is in full swing
as gifts for me the three kings bring
of myrrh and frankincense, I’m told,
and fat old Buddhas carved in gold
And though it seems they smile with glee
I know in truth they envy me
and watch as my befuddled brain
shines on brightly quite insane

Above all else confusion reigns
And though I ask no-one explains
My eunuch friend has been and gone
He said that I must soldier on
And though the Ferris wheel spins round
my tongue it seems has run aground
and croaks as my befuddled brain
shines on brightly, quite insane

By now, I suspect you feel Keith is not the only one suffering from a befuddled brain.

Bet you regret ever wandering in to the kitchen to say hi!

Go on guys, you’ve suffered enough. Get back to the party…


But before you go…

(Dang it!)

Here is one that speaks to all writers; mainly because if it wasn’t written, we would probably want to write ourselves.

Pilgrim’s Progress
I sat me down to write a simple story
Which maybe in the end became a song
In trying to find the words which might begin it
I found these were the thoughts I brought along

At first I took my weight to be an anchor
And gathered up my fears to guide me round
But then I clearly saw my own delusion
And found my struggles further bogged me down

In starting out I thought to go exploring
And set my foot upon the nearest road
In vain I looked to find the promised turning
But only saw how far I was from home

In searching I forsook the paths of learning
And sought instead to find some pirate’s gold
In fighting I did hurt those dearest to me
And still no hidden truths could I unfold

I sat me down to write a simple story
Which maybe in the end became a song
The words have all been writ by one before me
We’re taking turns in trying to pass them on
Oh, we’re taking turns in trying to pass them on

Lyrics: Keith Reid :

©Paul Andruss 2017

Buy Procol Harum music:

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.

Finn Mac Cool

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

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory:

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

I hope that whatever your plans this weekend you will be able to spare a few minutes to drop in and sign the guest book in the comments.


Posts from the Archives – #Gods and #Legends – Ionia by Paul Andruss

As Paul Andruss is on an extended break working on other projects..I will be sharing some of his earlier posts for those of you who were not visiting the blog at the beginning of 2017. Also I am sure that those of you who have read before will enjoy as much as I have the second time around.

Ionia by Paul Andruss

picture1This land of gods and heroes fills me with irrational love and irrepressible longing. Here a sister married her brother and built him a tomb so magnificent it became a wonder of the world. Here, a nymph saw a young man drink from her spring. Fiercely desiring him, she prayed they would never part. With cruel humour, the capricious gods joined flesh to flesh, creating the first hermaphrodite.

This is Bodrum, once Halicarnassus, home of the mausoleum. Behind the town, hidden in hills of olive and pine, is the spring of Salamcis where the son of Hermes and Aphrodite took that fatal drink.

The heartland of Ionic Greece was already ancient when the Parthenon shone brand-new on the lion coloured rock of the acropolis. Cities, old as time, ringed the Gulf of Latmos. Even then a dying seaway choked with mud from the Meander River. First Priene and then Milatus were left high and dry. Abandoned since antiquity they provided tourist attractions for Ancient Romans.

To one side of the silted estuary is Lake Bafa, formed by the tears of the Moon goddess weeping for the shepherd boy, Endymion. On the other, the city of Miletus, where in the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul awaited the Ephesian elders.

Once, Lake Bafa was seashore. The freshwater lake only formed when the estuary silted. The men of Heraclea faced with the retreating sea, desperately dug navigable channels, causing seawater to turn the lake brackish.

Legend says the moon goddess, Selene, was so smitten with Endymion she threatened to forsake the sky. In response, the fearful gods made him sleep for eternity, and as she wept for her lost love, she cried a lake. It was a good day in November and Bafa was body warm, we swam and can confirm the water does indeed taste of tears.

The Meander estuary is now a fertile plain. Having never seen it in November we were surprised by hundreds of cotton wool balls littering the roads. It was cotton-pickin’ time. Turkish women, in traditional rural dress of headscarf and baggy trousers, picked tufts of gossamer from branches of stunted, scrawny bushes. It could have been a hundred years ago, if not for the huge blocky harvester devouring the adjacent field. Its parallel rows of vertical teeth left only broken, skeletal stalks. In factory courtyards were cotton castles of pearl-grey lint, while caught in the wire of the perimeter fence, grimy candyfloss streamed in the wind.

picture2First stop was the ancient city of Eurymos. All that is left is the Temple of Zeus. We were the only people there. It was like discovering it for the first time. As if we were some Victorian explorers with Sir Richard Burton – the one who translated the Arabian Nights, not the one who married and remarried Elizabeth Taylor.

The only problem with fantasy is truth. Although sites look undiscovered they are actually the result of extensive excavation. Unexcavated, they are under 2,000 years and at least 20 feet of wind blown soil – like the rest of Eurymos. One undistinguished field is the forum and another is the theatre. Each has its herd of indifferent sheep, munching as they have munched for millennia, placidly unaware of their contribution to history falling out the other end.

picture3The temple of Apollo at Didim was never finished because during the centuries it took to build, Christianity became the state religion and pagan temples were abandoned. It is impossible to convey the sheer size of the site. Nothing is on a human scale, the column bases; the cyclopean stones walls – now only a third of their original height. All of it dwarfs you; awes you. It is like something built by the giants who stormed Olympus.

picture4There is a sacred spring in the temple grounds. It had recently rained and the area was marshy. It should have prepared us for what was to come at Miletus. It didn’t. Here we saw tortoises mating. And it was lucky they were tortoises. When Tiresias saw two snakes copulate, he changed sex.

Because of his unique perspective, Zeus and Hera asked Tiresias to settle an argument about who needed love the most. Tiresias replied that if love had ten parts, women needed nine. Hera was so furious she blinded him. Leaving Zeus to compensate with the dubious gift of second sight and a lifespan increased sevenfold. However, thoughtless Zeus forgot to bestow Eternal youth so Tiresias grew old and stayed old for a long, long time. More of a punishment than a gift one would think.

picture5Back at the car, we saw a stone placed at the base of a wall. As it was obviously for looking over, we discovered part of the sacred way stretching from Miletus, 26 km away, to the shrines of Apollo and his sister, Artemis.

picture6We had read Miletus has a fantastic theatre but not much else. Because of this, our friends decided they had had enough of scrambling over ruins and went to the site café, leaving us to explore alone.

Reaching the top of the theatre we saw the rest of the city hidden to the side, the wreckage of the harbour mouth monument, now miles inland, the forum, the stoa and senate house lining the start of the sacred way.

picture7The site was boggy and halfway through, mosquitoes attacked. According to the guidebook the café owner was trying to sell our friends, when the Meander River silted up, the city became a malarial swamp and that was another reason it was abandoned.

One of our friends said we came tripping from the ruins like Tippy Hedron in Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ – obviously in search of a phone box to shelter in. In our defence, the mosquitoes were the size of seagulls.

One friend on the trip was thinking of writing a travel book. Caught up in the idea, he had a tendency to pause after each utterance as if waiting for an unseen amanuensis to jot down his thoughts for posterity, which is probably not far from the truth as he was feverishly committing the phrase to memory for future use.

picture9From Miletus we drove through the alluvial plain to Priene, crossing the mighty Meander, now tamed to the size of the Regent’s Canal. Approaching the site, we saw the remaining columns of the Temple of Hera on the hillside and a ruin-lined road snaking down to the old port, now farmer’s fields.

picture8Priene is another huge area of tumbled stones, smashed columns and fractured walls sheltering under black cypress and pine. Unchanged since the time of Caesar and Christ, the view across the plain takes your breath away.

The next morning, no doubt due to a sleepless night of trying not to scratch souvenir mosquito bites, we were up at daybreak. Duly covered up like Turkish cotton pickers, we walked down to the lake to watch the full moon turn the waters silver, while the light bringer, Lucifer, the morning star, ushered a dawn of lemon, pistachio and rose – the flavours of Turkish Delight.

picture10©images Paul Andruss Ionia 2017

About Paul Andruss.

Thomas the Rhymer Finn Mac Cool

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.

You can find all about Paul and links to his books here:

And all his previous posts:

Thank you for visiting today and your feedback is always welcome.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Summer Book #Sale, One of my books FREE,A Writer’s Life,Travel, Music, Cookery, and Guests

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

There has been some rain this week, nothing to get too excited about, especially as it missed the St. Swithin’s Day curse. For those not familiar, if it rains on St. Swithin’s Day it will rain for 40 days following. That is usually quite difficult to measure here in Ireland as it is extremely rare to go forty days without any rain.

This latest heatwave and dry spell is the longest I think in recorded history for many countries in Northern Europe and certainly whilst most of us take advantage the farmers are being hard hit.

Anyway it has put a halt to our plans to lay a new lawn as there is not point in putting down turf with a hose-pipe ban and no serious rain for another week or so. At least the sparrows are enjoying their dust baths on the wide expanse of dry soil in front of the house. It does mean that David has been able to get the ladders out and start the task of painting the back of the house and all the garden walls. The end is in sight of our two year renovation project and it is only when we look at the before photos that we fully appreciate the difference.. I will do a post when all is complete as a celebration.

Just in case you missed. What’s in a Name Volume 1 is still FREE until officially midnight tonight UK time but if you email me in the next couple of days I am more than happy to send you a digital copy. I am not part of Kindle Publishing so it is the easiest way for me to offer my books free.

If I already have your email address just put your preference in the comments section.

About What’s in a Name? Volume One.

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

There are classical names such as Adam, David and Sarah that will grace millions of babies in the future. There are also names that parents have invented or borrowed from places or events in their lives which may last just one lifetime or may become the classic names of tomorrow.

Whatever the name there is always a story behind it. In What’s in a Name? – Volume One, twenty men and women face danger, love, loss, romance, fear, revenge and rebirth as they move through their lives.

Anne changes her name because of associations with her childhood, Brian carries the mark of ancient man, Jane discovers that her life is about to take a very different direction, and what is Isobel’s secret?

One of the reviews for the collection

This was a beautiful collection of short stories with an intriguing premise: each story is titled by the name of its main character, and there is one story with a male name and one with a female name for each letter of the alphabet (through J–Vol. II completes the alphabet).

The way I describe it is far less simple than Sally Cronin makes it. The stories vary widely. Some are funny, some poignant, some teach a lesson. A couple of them made me cry, which is why I recommend that you have a box of tissues nearby when you read the collection.

The one thing that each story does have is a surprising twist at the end–something the reader doesn’t see coming. I thoroughly enjoyed the collection and look forward eagerly to reading Volume II.

To obtain your FREE copy of the collection in either Mobi, Epub or pdf email me or leave your preference in the comments:

In the meantime thank you for dropping in so regularly and for all the wonderful comments and shares. It keeps me motivated.

This week we must say a temporary goodbye to Paul Andruss as he has some offline projects he is pursuing. Hopefully he will be back from time to time and for those of you who have only been following the blog for the last year or so, I will be repeating some of his early posts in his usual monthly slot. I am sure that you join me in thanking him for his amazing posts on legends and myths and the gardening column which has given so much information and pleasure.

Here is his most recent post on Friday with some thoughts on putting a value, not just on our writing but also on the time spent reading.

Three minutes Forty Nine by Paul Andruss.

Also whilst William Price King has been on his summer break I have been sharing the Roberta Flack series with some of her most iconic hits. This coming week it is the start of the Diana Krall repeats, another fabulous artist with a wonderful voice.

This week Carol Taylor shares some colourful recipes for rice. Rice is one of the staples in our home and I am sure in yours, and it is great to get some new ideas on how to prepare.

This week too.. Carol shared one of her travel posts in Thailand to the Red Lotus Sea Lake.


D.G. Kaye shared another very informative and entertaining post for her travel column this week, with a great many tips on how to prepare for any holiday. Security for your luggage and credit cards, valuables and tips for getting the best value for money when booking.

The Getting to Know You Sunday Interview with author Chuck Jackson.

It is my pleasure to welcome author Chuck Jackson to Getting to Know You. Chuck is the author of three memoirs including his latest Guilt: My Companion. On his blog you will find posts on writing, book marketing and also mental health and social issues such as this recent article:

My Personal Stuff

The summer holidays where people are away for a couple of weeks at a time is the busiest time of the year for criminals. Especially when so many of us kindly leave the door open in the virtual world, by announcing our departure and then posting photographs of our fun in the sun!

Letters from America – Seattle and Washington State Park

Odd Jobs and Characters – some I missed out – Advertising Sales and Artificial insemination marketing!

Sally’s Drive time Playlist – 1979 Queen and Dr. Hook

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story Chapters 12 and 13 – Car Rides and Move to Spain

Chapter Fourteen – Our new home and friends.

My review for The Contract by John W. Howell and Gwen Plano

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Summer Sale.

This last couple of weeks there has been a sale in the Cafe and Bookstore, with books that have been reduced in price or even FREE. Some of those discounts will still apply so please check the posts. In these current posts you will also find links to last week’s sale offers as well.

The Blogger Daily – A small selection of the many blog posts that I enjoyed this week.

Cathy Ryan

Health and Healthy Eating

The Immune System and how it works

Nutrients the body needs – Manganese and the link to Asthma.

Prescribed medication – opioid statistics and our responsibility as a patient


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Writer in Residence – Three Minutes Forty-nine by Paul Andruss

It is time for another post from Paul Andruss who has informed, entertained and amazed with his posts on legends ancient and modern in the last 18 months.

Paul has some exciting projects on the horizon, and is taking an extended break over the summer. During that time I will be sharing some of his earlier posts in his usual monthly slot, and he will be back from time to time later in the year.

I know you will join me in thanking him for all the marvelous and wondrous subjects he has introduced us to, and hope he will share more with us in the future.

You can find all of Paul’s Writer in Residence Posts in this directory:

And his informative and colourful gardening posts here:

Paul leaves us with some questions… about the financial aspects of our writing, professional and peer group opinions of our writing, and where our efforts place us in terms of writer vs. author status.

Something to think about………

Three Minutes Forty-nine by Paul Andruss

    I am Spartacus!
                                                No, I am Spartacus!
                                                                        No, I’m Spartacus!

(The entirely fictional finale to the 1960 Universal film Spartacus)

While watching something on You-Tube, probably a pop video if the title is anything to go by, I was struck by a comment that said…

‘Thank you for the upload. Your reward is I have given you three minutes and forty nine seconds of my life.’

You can imagine my reaction. I cannot abide arrogance in anyone, except me.

Then I got thinking. They had a point. One, as authors, we should bear in mind. Everything we read costs time. And time is irreplaceable.

In case you think I refer to time in some nebulous way as in ‘I gave you the best years of my life you bastard!’ Let me say, it is quite easy to put a cash value on time. The Government did. They called it the minimum living wage.

In the UK in 2018 this is £7.50. Although it varies state by state, the United States federal rate is $7.25. Bear in mind $7.25 at current exchange rates is £5.35. Citizens of the richest country in the world you are being robbed!

Hand on heart how many of you are worth the national minimum wage?

Or are your worth more?

Given most of you are authors, are you worth as much as what Dan Brown or JK Rowling clear in an hour?

Obviously, at least twice that much; that goes without saying. But to get a realistic figure, let’s look at the price of a proofreading service.

Proofreading costs £5.00 per 1,000 words.

The average person reads 200 words a minute.

That neatly works out at £1.00 or $1.35 a minute, or £60.00 or $80 per hour.

As authors, if you could set your own hourly rate would you consider that reasonable recompense for your labours?

If so what the about compensation for your readers’ time?

What price would you put on that?

I timed it. This article has cost you 6 minutes 30 seconds of your life, or in cash terms £6.50 or $8.78.

The $64,000 question is…

Do we, as writers, give value for money?

I have read on numerous blogs we need to write every day to exercise our writing muscle. And with a proviso I agree. In theory practice makes for better writing.

O, the proviso?

Glad you asked.

It only works if you extend and explore your craft. Writing out a hundred times a day ‘I must become a better writer does not make a better writer.

A muscle develops by increasing the demands put on it. If after a few weeks you are doing exactly the same exercise routine, your muscles cease to improve. Why should the writing muscle be different?

People doing physically demanding work do not have the bodies of Greek gods or goddesses. Their muscles are small and dense. They are restricted, even dwarfed by repetition. And in the end they are crippled by it.

Even if writing the same piece every day did make you a better writer, one must wonder would it make the product worth reading?

Every time we write we cannot wait to publish, and hear our adoring fans go ga-ga. Do we never stop to think that as writers we are judged solely on our writing quality? Is it not better to leave it a couple of days and review before publishing? During those days our subconscious quietly beavers away, streamlining arguments and developing new insights.

Rest and review might turn something so-so into a right little gem. Finally before hitting the publish-button we need to ask: Are we saying something that need not be said at all?

Writing is our product: our brand. Experts say the best way to expand a brand is word-of-mouth marketing. If we write well, people like our product. When they recommend us to friends, our brand grows. Conversely if we fail engage due to overkill, or poor, dull work, they stop reading us. Success is entirely in our hands. There is no second chance to make a first impression.

Self-publishing and blogging has blurred the difference between a writer and an author so both appear synonymous. They are not.

Author is a profession. Authors were paid writers. Writers simply wrote. It was irrelevant whether it was poems, stories, or a diary. Even famous diarists like Samuel Pepys and Ann Frank never meant for their words to be read publically. You wrote for yourself until published.

In the days of traditional publishing the difference between author and writer was clear cut.

The publishing process defined it. The writer became an author in stages when…

The manuscript was accepted by an agent based on their professional opinion of its quality and commercial appeal.

The agent approached publishers; one of whom accepted the work based the same criteria.

The manuscript underwent proofreading and editorial development before the author received back the final proofs for checking prior to publication.

Books were sold.

Money exchanged hands.

And voila, you were an author.

It was a long and often fraught journey for both sides. In an over-crowded and competitive marketplace, agents and publishers relentlessly pushed the writer to produce professional standard work.

Agents and publishers might love literature, but primarily they are in business to make money. There were consequences should standards drop. Publishers went bankrupt. If agents could not provide commercial writers they lost their reputation and publishers’ good will.

The problem with self-publishing and blogging is the lack of such external quality controls.
A proof reader will pick up typos, spelling and grammar. But how many can afford to pay a professional proof-reader £400 for 80,000 words. To keep the maths simple 80,000 words is roughly a 300 page novel.

Quality substantive editing costs about £45 or $60 an hour with the editor working at 1 to 6 pages per hour: a 300 page book (at 6 pages per hour) costs £2,200 or $3,000. Intensive developmental editing at £60 or $80 for 2 to 5 pages per hour equals £3,500 or $4,800.

These prices are for experienced professionals. Exceptional editors are like gold dust.

They should probably share writing credits with the author. Yet authors’ relationships with editors are often problematic. Gore Vidal complained his editor removed 4 chapters of his best-selling historical novel Creation. Vidal put back the 4 offending chapters once the rights reverted to him and he negotiated a new deal for the reprint.

As independent authors can we entirely trust any editor we pay, to work in our interest; not their own? Would an editor forfeit a lucrative fee by telling the unvarnished truth? Or would they diplomatically pocket the cash and salvage what they were able in the time allowed; pretty certain the book will never be traditionally published. They know you are not in a position to critique their work unless you pay for another editor.

We writers often rely on peer review. What is peer review but the opinion of a number of people in exactly the same boat as us? There is something to be said for a dozen beta readers highlighting the same problem. But what if they see different problems and suggest conflicting changes?

In the end, it is for you, the writer, to develop critical faculties so as to be able to ruthlessly and dispassionately assess your own work. Examine everything you read, emulate the good and learn from the bad. Listen to people you trust, based on nothing but on your opinion of them as writers. Always ask yourself:

Does the new piece enhance your brand as an aspiring author?

Would you pay £5 or $6.75 per 1,000 words to read it if someone else wrote it?

I have never been paid for writing.

I hold my hands up. I am a writer: not an author.

I am Spartacus

What about you?

Are you Spartacus too?

©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 is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image. Thomas the Ryhmer is currently FREE to dowload from Amazon.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

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My thanks to Paul for this thought provoking post, and for all his amazing contributions and look forward to seeing him back again soon.. Thanks to you too for dropping in and I am sure you will have some comments to add. Sally

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Roberta Flack, Roses, Bacon, Cruise Ship Tips, Jersey and a whole bunch of other stuff!!

The Music Column with William Price King – Roberta Flack – Part Two.

The Gardening Column with Paul Andruss

This month a look at the history, myths and truths behind one of the most popular flowers in the world. The Rose.

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor

There are not many of us who don’t love a piece of crispy bacon or tender boiled ham, and this week Carol shows us how to cure our own bacon and prepare ham for our summer salads.

The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye – Cruise Ships – Part Two – Ship Tips

This week Debby shares her insider knowledge about dining, tipping, excursions and shopping. Invaluable advice before you take that cruise.

Getting to Know You – Sunday Interview with Darlene Foster.

Darlene shares a favourite childhood song, an action hero she would like to be, something that she could never learn….you will be surprised considering the number of books that she writes! And the animal she would like to have a conversation with..

Travel Posts from Your Archives Sherri Matthews – A Tour of Jersey and the history of the island during World War Two.

Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Personal Stuff

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story Serialisation

Chapter Seven – Snow and Favourite Things.

Chapter Eight – Language

Odd Jobs and Characters – Department manager for a store leads to crime solving!

Letters from America – 1985- 1987 – Hawaii

Poetry and Haiku

Sally’s Drive Time and Playlist

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Author updated reviews

The Blogger Daily and Meet the Reviewers.

Cathy Ryan

Health Column

Magnesium is one of the minerals that is likely to be deficient with a resulting long list of health problems.

Often mis-diagnosed Interstitial cystitis is difficult to treat.