Smorgasbord Air Your Reviews – Balroop Singh and Robert Eggleton


Welcome to Thursday where I share recent and past reviews for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore. First is for Balroop Singh with a recent review for her poetry collection Emerging from the Shadows.

About Emerging from the Shadows

From darkness into light, from despair onto the wider ways of hope…life oscillates between sunshine and shadows. Emerging from shadows is a choice, which lies dormant, which can be gently inspired by self-talk. Each poem in this book banks on the hope of emerging stronger, saner, positive and resilient. Each poem in this book would talk to you, revealing layers of enclosed emotions. Each poem would divulge a secret path that could lead you into the world of poise and serenity.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

 And here is the review

“Beneath that beauty lie broken dreams
Beneath that smile recline unspoken words
That gentle caress hides frozen fallacy
Feigning to hold forlorn finesse.”

These delightful words are the opening stanza of the first poem, entitled When Darkness Deepens, that feature in Balroop Singh’s new book of poetry.

Each poem featured in the book comprises of beautifully constructed phrases which together tell a story. Some of the poems are sad and some are happy, all are filled with mystery and delight.

My interpretations of three of Balroop’s poems are as follows:

The poem Emerging from Shadows encourages the reader to be brave and rise up above obstacles in your path, grasping at life and making the best of it.

Why I walked away …. teaches the reader how to turn your back on negativity and sadness and how to break free from the shackles of unhappy past events. It is a joyous poem of a search for liberation.

Outside and inside – a tale of that illustrates that settling for the deception of second best and the sanctuary of the easily attained leads to perpetual self doubt and anxiety.

Each poem in this book is a voyage of self discovery.

Head over and buy the collection: https://www.amazon.com/Emerging-Shadows-Poetry-Balroop-Singh-ebook/dp/B073YLWLG1

Also by Balroop Singh

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Balroop-Singh/e/B00N5QLW8U

Read more reviews and follow Balroop on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7340810.Balroop_Singh

Connect to Balroop Singh via her blog: http://balroop2013.wordpress.com

And now for the most recent review for Robert Eggleton’s book Rarity from the Hollow which has just passed its 100th review.

Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/

 

About the book

Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn’t great. But Lacy has one advantage — she’s been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the Universe.

To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily via direct downloads into her brain. Some of these courses tell her how to apply magic to resolve everyday problems much more pressing to her than a universe in big trouble, like those at home and at school. She doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.

Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.

Robert Eggleton’s humorous science fantasy follows in the steps of Douglas Adams, Tom Holt and Terry Pratchett.

The most recent review for the book

Lacy Dawn is a gifted ten-year-old human girl with a dysfunctional family, an android boyfriend and a difficult life. She lives in a place called the Hollow where she converses with the trees and with her best friend’s ghost. Lacy has witnessed many traumatic events in her young life; her father is a veteran of war with severe PTSD, her best friend was a victim of various types of abuse and her mother suffers from depression. She’s got one thing going for her though: she’s going to save the universe.

I must say that this book is unlike any other story I’ve ever read. It’s unique in so many ways! It’s the first time I’ve read an adult novel that was written from a child’s perspective. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of another! We also get to see into the thoughts of other characters like Dwayne (her father), Jenny (her mother), DotCom (her android boyfriend) and even their dog, Brownie! It’s super neat.

There are a lot of touchy subjects that are brought up in this novel such as violence, substance abuse, sexual abuse, and self-harm but the use of satire and the interesting narrative help keep things less negative and more on the lighter side.

I really enjoyed reading Rarity from the Hollow. It’s so different and so well-written. I also love that it creates awareness in readers about mental health and different types of abuse and that it’s told in a way that isn’t too heavy. There wasn’t a single dull moment and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something out of the ordinary.

I give this novel 5 out of 5!

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton-ebook/dp/B017REIA44/

Other buy links

http://www.doghornpublishing.com/wordpress/books/rarity-from-the-hollow

http://www.lulu.com/shop/robert-eggleton/rarity-from-the-hollow/paperback/product-22910478.html

Connect to Robert Eggleton via his website: http://www.lacydawnadventures.com

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will explore these authors and their books further. Thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Poetry – #Haiku – Honouring Feng Shui


I am very lucky to have access to Paul Andruss’s photos that he takes when he is visiting gardens around Wales and the rest of the country. This photograph is of the Chinese Garden at Bidulph Grange.  

You can find out more about this stunning place in Staffordshire at this link

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/biddulph-grange-garden

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Witchlet (Book One The Magical Chapters Trilogy) by Victoria Zigler


Welcome to poet and children’s author Victoria Zigler who will be joining the other authors in the Cafe and Bookstore with her book Witchlet: Book One The Magical Chapters Trilogy.

About Witchlet

In a world where everyone thinks witches are warty old women, a powerful and short tempered 9 year old is trying to find her place in the world, and make amends for something that happened when she was only 3. Her name is Paige, and she can bend the elements to her rather strong will. But can she convince people to accept her for who she is?

This is the first book in the “Magical Chapters” trilogy. The titles in the series are as follows:

1. Witchlet
2. The Pineapple Loving Dragon
3. A Magical Storm

Two of the reviews for Witchlet from Goodreads and Amazon

Thomai Dion rated it Five Stars on Goodreads

I am the mom of an energetic toddler who is eager to explore the world around him. In addition to helping him discover all of the cool and interesting things he could learn about, one of my top priorities as a parent is also teaching him that everyone is unique and therefore different, and to both appreciate and cherish those differences. “Witchlet” is an endearing book that strives to deliver that exact message — Everyone is not exactly like you and that is OK.

Paige the witchlet is a great example of how a person’s differences and unique abilities are not an exception to be noted; rather, they are exceptional and should be celebrated. A heartwarming read for parents and kids alike!

Have you ever noticed that when you hear the term ‘Witch’, you automatically think of a grey haired, gaunt-faced, warty, scary old woman who wears a black, long sleeved dress with an equally black, tall pointed hat, gets about by riding on a willow garden-brush type broom and is usually accompanied by a black cat?

Paige is none of these things, she is 9 years old, has long blonde hair, dresses in normal clothes, travels by foot, or, if in a hurry, gets the wind to fly her and has a vegetarian Dragon called Daisy as a friend!

This is a pleasant little introduction to the Magical Chapters Trilogy, well thought out and written in a descriptive, Hans Christian Anderson like, language children will understand and can use to allow their imaginations to take hold.

Even though I am well past my sell-by date, the child in me is looking forward to reading Victoria’s next book in the series, The Pineapple Loving Dragon.

Read the reviews on Amazon and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Witchlet-Magical-Chapters-Trilogy-1

Read many more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14743914-witchlet

The other two books in the Trilogy

A selection of poetry books by Victoria Zigler

A selection of other books for children.

All of Victoria’s books are currently in paperback but some will also be available in audio in the future. Victoria has a great many reviews on Goodreads and I suggest that you head there first to read: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5852247.Victoria_Zigler

You can also buy the books from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Zigler/e/B00BHS9DQ6

N.B.. Before the audio versions are released, Victoria would love to have some more reviews for the books and you can contact her directly via her website.

About Victoria Zigler

My name is Victoria, but most of my friends and family call me Tori. Feel free to do the same.

Born in the shadow of the black mountains in Wales, I now live by the sea in the south-east of England with my husband, Kelly, a degu named Joshua, a pair of chinchillas named Mollie and Maizie, and a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie.

Having battled with glaucoma since birth, I now find myself completely blind. But I didn’t let that stop me from chasing the dream I’ve had since I was a young child: the dream of being a published author. I’ve loved to read and write since I learned how, and always wanted to get my work published. Finally, in 2012, I made that dream come true by self-publishing eBooks via Smashwords. Three years later, I began using CreateSpace to make my books available in print. So now I’m a published author of children’s fiction, as well as a couple of poetry collections; all of which are available in multiple eBook formats, and as paperback books.

Reading and writing remain my favourite things to do, apart from spending time with my husband, and our rodent gang, of course. I also enjoy doing crafts (such as card making and knitting). Plus, I dabble in things like roleplaying games (such as Dungeons And Dragons) and figure games (such as BattleTech and Monsterpocalypse) from time to time, and enjoy watching movies and TV shows as well as listening to music. On top of that, I have an interest in history, especially stone age and Egyptian history, and in space exploration. I also love almost anything to do with animals and nature. I have to say “almost” because I’m not too keen on spiders and creepy crawly things, though can pretend they don’t exist if they don’t come too close to me.

Connect to Victoria

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VictoriaZigler
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tori.zigler
Google+: https://plus.google.com/106139346484856942827

Thank you very much for dropping in and I will be letting you know when Tori has her audio books available via the cafe and bookstore updates. Thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Guest Post – Writing all the Wrong Things by Anne Casey


Anne Casey was my first guest writer back in 2013 and I am delighted to welcome her back again with her debut poetry collection “where the lost things go”. Published by Salmon Poetry

Writing all the wrong things by Anne Casey

It is a heart-stopping moment as a professional writer when you realise you have spent 25 years writing all the wrong things. That is the realisation I came to around three years ago. At the time, I could never have guessed the whirlwind journey that lay ahead.

From as young as five or six years of age, I had known that all I wanted to do was write. I had a fake toy typewriter I spent hours playing with, crayoning out my own little storybooks in my small west of Ireland hometown. By the time I was 10, my parents had realised too and they bought me a ‘Lilliput’ typewriter. That was the start of many late nights spent gleefully tapping out poems and stories, the happy ‘ting’ at the end of each line sending my heart soaring.

In my teens, I had various poems published in youth magazines and local publications. My English teacher, Harry Hughes, was very encouraging of my short story writing. But by the time I was leaving school in the mid-1980s, the economic situation was pretty dire in Ireland. Jobs were hard to come by. The reality hit home that my long-held passion for creative writing was not a viable career path.

Determined to carve out some kind of livelihood in writing, I attained a law degree and worked at night to support post-graduate studies in Communications. With part-time work at a small magazine house along the way, I was lucky to land a full-time job in a reputable public relations consultancy. Although it was a compromise, I was thrilled to have swung a position that involved writing for most of my working week, particularly in tough economic times. There happily followed a move into a larger magazine publishing house where I eventually managed two monthly magazines, spending most of my days writing and editing.

In my mid-twenties, I migrated to Australia and pursued a career that has facilitated not just writing, but my second love of travel. Over the past 25 years I have had thousands of pages published. As a journalist, magazine editor, legal author, corporate and government communications director, I’ve written reams. I have been extremely fortunate to meet and to work with some extraordinary people, while travelling across the world and back. I’ve penned speech notes for a nation’s President, government Ministers, CEOs and entrepreneurs; news articles on emerging industries and multi-million dollar business deals; and books on new laws and commercial implications.

Along the way, however, my inner voice never stopped whispering. Sometime in the last few years, it escalated to a shout. Having children and prioritising family over my corporate responsibilities gave me the space to see things a little clearer. In my heart of hearts, looking back over my career I realised I had sold out. For all the ‘important’ things I had been writing about, I realised that none of it really mattered… “Today’s headlines are tomorrow’s fish and chips wrappers”. No-one will remember any of it, not even me.

That’s when I dug out my old notebooks. I carved out some time, set up a blog and some social media sites and started to write. I wrote about anything that wasn’t ‘serious’… the stuff that set my heart alight. I wrote about nature, my children, my family history, even my dog! Soon I was back writing poetry, and letting go of some of my corporate consulting work.

When my first poem as an adult was published, it was in The Irish Times. I had written about my journey as an emigrant against the backdrop of losing my mother. The guilt and grief in that poem resonated with others. The comments section at the end of the article kept filling up until it closed. Then people were tracking me down via Google, my website, Twitter and LinkedIn to tell me how much that poem had affected them.

It was a watershed moment for me. I realised that this was what I had always wanted to do – to write something that touched people’s hearts. To shake people out of the semi-conscious daze we walk around in and wake them up to the things that truly matter.

I set about capturing the things that have really mattered to me. As an emigrant, in returning to my homeland each year I have become acutely aware of the changes. Each time I fly away and come back, I find that another face or another little piece of my growing up years has disappeared. These are the things that sowed the seeds of who I am, growing up on:

“A little street
In a little town
At the wave-washed edge
Of the world”.

This was a place and a time where a child wasn’t brought up by one or two people, but by the many hands of a community and all they had passed down. Every bump in the path had its history and its meaning. I set about capturing and preserving those pieces that were slowly slipping away – the things that made us who we are – people, places and credos.

There are other places and faces that have marked my journey which have also ended up in my poetry. I have never been short on political views but, unshackled from censorship due to work sensitivities, I have a newfound courage to actually write what I really mean!

The west of Ireland wind must have been blowing my way about 18 months ago… With offices a stone’s throw from where I grew up on the County Clare coast, Salmon Poetry has been a tour de force for Irish poets – women poets in particular – over the past 36 years. I am a great admirer of Salmon’s managing director, Jessie Lendennie. She was the first book publisher I contacted with what had grown into a poetry manuscript.

I was blown away when Jessie agreed to meet with me on my visit home in 2016. The possibility of joining the Salmon Poetry family (which includes such salubrious poets as the President of Ireland, Mr Michael D Higgins himself) seemed liked a distant dream. My feet barely touched the ground after I left Jessie’s office with a 10-year publishing deal, my debut poetry collection to be published a year later.

Siobhán Hutson at Salmon Poetry did a stunning job on the design and production of my book, where the lost things go which was published by Salmon in July 2017. And I am eternally grateful to renowned Irish poet,  Eleanor Hooker for her glowing speech at my book launch in Ireland on 6 July.

And so, after all these years, and some major side-tracks along the way, this little girl’s dream has come true. My inner poet has finally emerged from the attic and the whispers have quietened for a little while. But we shall have to wait and see…

To follow are two poems from Anne Casey’s debut poetry collection “where the lost things go” published by Salmon Poetry.

In memoriam II: The draper

“The town is dead
Nothing but the wind
Howling down Main Street
And a calf bawling
Outside The Fiddlers”

My mother’s words, not mine
In a letter, kept in a drawer
These long years
She had a way with words
My mother

That’s why they came
The faithful of her following
Leaning in to her over the counter
For an encouraging word
Or the promise of a novena

Long before we had
Local radio
Our town had my mother
Harbinger of the death notices
And the funeral arrangements

Bestower of colloquial wisdom
Bearer of news on all things
Great and small
Who was home
And who hadn’t come

Who had got the Civil Service job
And by what bit of pull
The Councillor’s niece
Smug in her new navy suit
Oblivious to the circulating countersuit

“Would you ever think of coming home?”
Her words would catch me
Unawares
Lips poised at the edge
Of a steaming mug

Igniting a spitfire
Of resentment each time
Then draping me for days
I’d wear it like a horsehair shirt
All the way back

Until the sunshine and the hustle
Had worn it threadbare
This extra bit of baggage
In every emigrant’s case
Their mother’s broken heart

I never thought to ask her
“Would you want me to…?
So I could look out at the rain
Circumnavigating the empty street
And shiver at the wind
Whipping in under the door…?”

I don’t miss that question now
On my annual pilgrimage ‘home’
My father never asks it
Like me, I know he feels it
Hanging in the air
Alongside her absence

I miss my mother
And her way with words

(First published in The Irish Times, 31 January 2016)

Between ebb and flow

Mist rolls off moss-green hills
Where wind-wild ponies thunder
Manes flying as they chase
Their seaward brothers
Locked in eternal contest
On this deserted grey mile

Past the little stone churchyard
Long-forgotten graves spilling
Stones onto the sodden bog
A soft snore from behind
My two angels sleeping
Thirteen thousand miles

From all they have ever known
Running our own race
To make the best
Of spaces like this
A rainbow rises along the horizon
And I recognise her

Come for my mother
Locked in her own
Immortal struggle
The sister returned
So I know it won’t
Be long now

And I cry a little at
The unbearable beauty
Of these diastoles
When we are all
Suspended
Here in a heartbeat

Between heaven and earth

©AnneCasey

Buy this wonderful collection of poetry by Anne Casey direct from the publisher: Salmon Poetry Bookshop

About Anne Casey

Anne Casey’s poems have been published in The Irish Times, The Murmur Journal, The Incubator, Other Terrain, Backstory, Into the Void Magazine, ROPES Literary Journal, The Remembered Arts Journal, Dodging the Rain, Tales from the Forest, Luminous Echoes: A Poetry Anthology, Deep Water Literary Journal, The Blue Nib, Visual Verse: An Anthology of Art and Words and Thank You For Swallowing, among others.

Anne passionately believes that every poem, like all art, should leave you changed by the experience. Her poem, “In Memoriam II: The Draper,” was the fifth most-read item – across all categories – in The Irish Times on the day of publication, and resulted in a furore of social media commentary.

She was shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Poetry Prize in 2017 and the Bangor Poetry Competition 2016. Originally from the west of Ireland, Anne lives in Australia. She has worked as a business journalist, magazine editor, corporate and government communications director, author and editor. Anne holds a Law degree and qualifications in Communications.
Connect to Anne Casey via her website and social media.

Website: http://www.anne-casey.com/home.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/1annecasey
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1annecasey
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+AnneCaseyWriter
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anne-casey-aa998662/
Videos: http://www.anne-casey.com/videos.html
Publisher: http://www.salmonpoetry.com/

It is wonderful to feature Anne on the blog again and please help spread the news of her poetry collection across your own networks.. Thank you Sally

Smorgasbord Guest Post – My School Days by Poet and Author Kevin Morris


As part of the celebration of the release of his latest book, My Old Clock I Wind, poet and author Kevin Morris is sharing a series of memories about his childhood. In this post he takes us back to his time at school in Liverpool at the Royal School for the Blind.

I lost the majority of my eyesight at approximately 18-months-old, as a result of a blood clot on the brain. As a consequence I attended several schools for the visually impaired (the Royal School for the Blind and Saint Vincents school for the Blind), both of which are located in the city of my birth, Liverpool.

My first love of literature undoubtedly stemmed from my grandfather who would spend hours reading to me, (I still recall the glass bookcase filled with paperbacks which stood in the spare room of my grandfather’s house). It was, however during my time at school that the world of independent reading (in the form of braille books) first opened up to me.
I recall the library in the Royal School of the Blind as being a dark room filled with tall bookcases. In contrast the library in Saint Vincents was a much lighter room and (unlike the Royal School) the floors where carpeted. I must confess to having a liking for traditional libraries (with dark furnishings and high shelving which does, in part at least eminate from my time at the Royal School).

I vividly recall taking down Edgar Alan Poe’s “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”, while at the Royal School and becoming lost in it. Apart from being a place where one could read, the school library doubled as a spot where I could (when tired of playing with my peers) retire to. Indeed I still recall being chased out of my sanctuary by a teacher and admonished to “go and play with your peers!”

The library at Saint Vincents contained (in addition to many braille books) several braille magazines. I remember reading “The National Braille Mail” which was produced by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and consisted of a weekly digest of the weeks news and leading articles drawn from the UK’s press. The National Braille Mail and other similar braille magazines no longer exist, having been replaced by easy access to newspapers online, which can be accessed by blind people using software such as Job Access with Speech or (JAWs), which converts text into speech and braille enabling visually impaired computer users to have the contents of their screen relaid to them.

It was while attending school that my love of poetry developed. I’ve happy memories of leafing through “The Oxford Book of English Verse”, an anthology of Kipling’s verse and many other poetry books.

I boarded at both the Royal School and Saint Vincents. We boys lived in dormatories and would often talk long after our official bedtime (once the lights where turned out talking was prohibited). I still recall having to stand outside in the corridor, in my dressing gown and slippers as a punishment for talking after the lights had been switched off!

We children would often make up stories about ghosts, ghouls and other things that go bump in the night. All this was tremendous fun until I had to leave the dormitory to use the toilet. My mind would go into overdrive imagining all kinds of unearthly horrors waiting to grab me once I left the comfort of my dormitory!

Even while in the comparative safety of the dormitory the noises made by the big old-fashioned radiators as they cooled down could frighten one half to death. Was that strange sound merely a pipe cooling or something more sinister? Why did that floor board just creak?

My time at school was, on the whole a happy one and I look back with nostalgia to the time spent in the library and the story telling after the lights went out and ghosts and ghouls roamed along the empty corridors, waiting to grab the unwary child …!

My Old Clock I Wind and other Poems

A collection of 74 new and original poems. It contains both melancholy and more cheerful pieces contrasting the fact that We can enjoy life but at the same time cannot escape its inevitable end.

We laugh
As we pass
Along life’s path.
There are tears too
Its true,
For me and you
My friend,
For every year
Must have it’s end.

An early review from Annette Rochelle Aben

If you have yet to find yourself lost in a book of poetry by English poet, Kevin Morris, then lose yourself in My Old Clock I Wind and Other Poems. Allow yourself to wander through the changing seasons, to experience the magic of limericks, and to be entertained by the musings of a man who sees this world through different eyes.

You’ll learn about girls with unsuitable shoes, what having dinner with Dracula might be like and wonder if a garden log might be an alligator or perhaps a crocodile. Be thought provoked, by a magpie and perhaps find yourself shaking your head in agreement with the last line of Kevin’s Melting Ice. “and now the call, of the bird, goes unheard, by those drunk on their own words.”

For Kevin Morris, another notch on the belt of his writing career. For us, the readers, yet another opportunity to experience the world through the poetic eyes of a multi-faceted English poet. My Old Clock I Wind and Other Poems belongs in your collection.

“My Old Clock” is available in paperback and ebook formats from Moyhill Publishing,

It can also be found in the Amazon Kindle store, Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

Also by Kevin Morris

Read all the reviews and buy the books : https://www.amazon.co.uk/K.-Morris/e/B00CEECWHY

Find out more about Kevin and connect to him on his blog and social media.

Website: https://newauthoronline.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/drewdog2060_
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6879063.K_Morris

Thank you for dropping by today and it would be great if you could share this childhood memory of Kevin’s far and wide. thanks Sally

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update – Balroop Singh and Christina Steiner


Welcome to the first of the updates this week and our first author is Balroop Singh with her latest poetry collection Emerging from Shadows.

About Emerging from Shadows poetry collection

From darkness into light, from despair onto the wider ways of hope…life oscillates between sunshine and shadows. Emerging from shadows is a choice, which lies dormant, which can be gently inspired by self-talk. Each poem in this book banks on the hope of emerging stronger, saner, positive and resilient. Each poem in this book would talk to you, revealing layers of enclosed emotions. Each poem would divulge a secret path that could lead you into the world of poise and serenity.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

An early review for the collection

 

“Beneath that beauty lie broken dreams
Beneath that smile recline unspoken words
That gentle caress hides frozen fallacy
Feigning to hold forlorn finesse.”

These delightful words are the opening stanza of the first poem, entitled When Darkness Deepens, that feature in Balroop Singh’s new book of poetry.

Each poem featured in the book comprises of beautifully constructed phrases which together tell a story. Some of the poems are sad and some are happy, all are filled with mystery and delight.

My interpretations of three of Balroop’s poems are as follows:

The poem Emerging from Shadows encourages the reader to be brave and rise up above obstacles in your path, grasping at life and making the best of it.

Why I walked away …. teaches the reader how to turn your back on negativity and sadness and how to break free from the shackles of unhappy past events. It is a joyous poem of a search for liberation.

Outside and inside – a tale of that illustrates that settling for the deception of second best and the sanctuary of the easily attained leads to perpetual self doubt and anxiety. Each poem in this book is a voyage of self discovery.

Buy Emerging from Shadows: https://www.amazon.com/Emerging-Shadows-Poetry-Balroop-Singh-ebook/dp/B073YLWLG1/

Also by Balroop Singh

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Balroop-Singh/e/B00N5QLW8U

Read more reviews and follow Balroop on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7340810.Balroop_Singh

Connect to Balroop Singh via her blog: http://balroop2013.wordpress.com

The next author is Christina Steiner whose recently released children’s book Shimji, The Channel Island Vixen is receiving terrific reviews.

About the book

Shimji, a young Channel Island vixen, dreams to go where no Island fox has ever gone: to the place her ancestors came from thousands of years ago. By talking with a sea lion named Malibu and a seagull named Topanga, she finds the island’s harbor and stows away on a boat headed to the California coast. During her adventure on the main-land, Shimji befriends wild and domesticated animals. She learns from their different ways and thus gains knowledge of the world. Her curiosity satisfied, Shimji longs to return home, only to be discovered by humans. Scientists want to send her to a zoo. Can Shimji escape and find her way back to her island home?

One of the recent reviews for the book

This book is adorable. I purchased it for my grandson who just turned 4 and we read it together as a chapter book. The tale is about Shimji, a Channel Island vixen, who sneaks off to the mainland for a look around the home of her ancestors. She runs into a delightful variety of animals who help her along on her adventure before she decides to sneak back home, a task fraught with some challenges.

Shimji is a sweet character with a courageous and friendly nature, and the animals that she encounters are a hoot with distinctive personalities and voices. The opossums made me laugh out loud, and Blackout, a domesticated cat, is a riot as he explains how he manages his humans. The gulls are pretty funny too. Throughout the book, Steiner weaves in a bit of history about the island foxes as well as information about all the different animals Shimji meets.

A highly enjoyable book for kids with gentle characters working together to help each other. My grandson gave it 5 stars, and I second the opinion.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071GM4SR1

Also by Christina Steiner

 Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Christina-Steiner/e/B00IUZNJXC

Read more reviews and follow Christina Steiner on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4516146.Christina_Steiner

Connect to Christina via her website:  www.christinasteinerwriter.com

Thank you for dropping by and it would be great if you could spread the news of these authors and their books. thanks Sally

If you have a new release or a fantastic review please let me know and I will find the most effective promotion to feature you in. sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – New series and new contacts


Smorgasbord Blogger Daily
I have been working offline for the last three weeks and I have neglected my duties of host of the blog and remiss in not thanking new bloggers kind enough to add me to their contacts. Time to make amends with a regular update and also a return to the Blogger Daily with posts from around the community.

Hello there! I am Muskan Lamba. I am a 17 year old Indian. I like to write, make art and photograph. I am an optimistic individual who likes to hope for the best and plans to prepare for the worst. I am a dog lover, a mummy to 3 stray dogs who mean the world to me. They are also my favourite to talk to. I choose family over everything else, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to make my parents happy.

The world is a strange place and we make it stranger, but I am absolutely perplexed by its wondrousness. I have a great fear of shallow living. Softness is my greatest strength. My ability to feel deeply is my most beloved possession. I am fascinated by nature.  I like to find beauty, poetry, art and music in the most shunned places. I think it exists everywhere.

Read the rest of Muskan’s about and read her posts: https://muskanlambablog.wordpress.com/about/

Now Isobel Caves and her blog where she has several subjects that she posts about including the following.

  • Short stories. I love fantasy and all things magic, as well as ghost stories and sci fi. I publish literary pieces too. My mind is always cooking up new stories, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.
  • Poetry. Lots of haiku! I like to play around with different styles of short poetry. Sometimes a little magic creeps in too…
  • Photography. There is so much magic in the world around us. I love sharing this magic through my nature and wildlife photography

Read more about Isabel and enjoy her Haiku and other posts: https://isabelcaves.wordpress.com/about/

Sidekick by Katrina Cain

Please don’t hide
Your tears from me,
I’ve enough strength
To set us both free.
If you need to cry
I will always be here,
Listening to the words
That bring you fear.

Read the rest of the poem and links to her book: https://thedarkestfairytale.com/2017/07/18/sidekick/

About Ipuna Black

This is an inspirational blog for anyone seeking to live their best life. None of us are perfect or come from perfect backgrounds, but this doesn’t mean we can’t aim for a positive and fulfilling life. The life we all deserve. Oh, and I have a PhD in Nursing and write YA fiction.

Here is one of Ipuna’s recent posts.

Survival of the fittest

How much can you endure before you crack? Survival of the fittest goes back to the scientist, Charles Darwin. His theory of evolution by natural selection indicates that species which can adapt to their environment are more likely to survive over species which can’t. There are limited resources available in an environment, which promotes competition amongst organisms of the same or different species, creating a struggle to survive.

Read the rest of this interesting perspective on survival of the fittest and read the full bio for Ipuna Black: https://ipunablack.com/2017/07/10/survival-of-the-fittest/

MY REVIEW OF “LOVE AND OTHER CONSOLATION PRIZES’ by Jamie Ford
“Love and Other Consolation Prizes” by Jamie Ford is an informative Historical Fiction novel, that I highly enjoyed. The time line is in the past  around 1909 and more in the present around fifty years later.
Can you believe that it is possible for a person to be raffled off as a prize? During the World’s Fair in Seattle in 1909, that is exactly what happened to Ernest, a half Chinese Orphan. In China and other countries where there was poverty, it was not unusual for parents to either sell or giveaway their children in hopes for a better life. Many of these children did not survive the trip. Others were “raffled” off as slave labor of one sort or another. Surviving was very difficult.
I appreciate the historical research that Jamie Ford has done in preparation for this novel. I also am impressed with the important issues that Jamie Ford discusses.
That’s it for today’s catch up and more tomorrow.. thanks for dropping in and if you have a recent post you would like me to share – send it over to sally.cronin@moyhill.com or put in the comments section… Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Poetry – Time on my Own – by Sally Cronin


Life is not one never ending fairy tale. Not many people sail through their years without encountering obstacles to their happiness and most of us, being human, contribute to the problem.

I was only twenty when I fell for an older and charasmatic man. I was told I was playing with fire but knew better. Four years later the charm offensive had just turned offensive, and I left with a couple of suitcases.

At first I thought a distance of 100 miles was sufficient but a few late night calls from friends persuaded me that I needed to put even more miles behind me and I headed to  Snowdonia in Wales to work in a hotel. Forty years ago, without the Internet you could disappear quite effectively. It eventually took me three years to disentangle myself legally and my divorce was finalised on April Fools Day 1980!.

They say that our lives are mapped out for us. I find it ironic and slightly spooky that if I had not run off to Wales I would not have met David six months after my divorce.. and that would have been the bigger tragedy.

I wrote a lot of song lyrics back then (never seen the light of day). They are good old fashioned country with plenty of angst.. But those original lyrics have formed the basis for later poetry and this is a poem about what was a short but impactful period in my life.

Time on my Own

I came to these green hills in search of peace
Away from the betrayal and blame
Hoping the distance would make nightmares cease
help me banish the feelings of shame

Some told me that it was mainly my fault
That our marriage was doomed from the start
Filling my wounds with their pinches of salt
Ignorant of what caused us to part.

Some of the truths I will take to my grave
There are others I need to let go
It is frightening but I must be brave
Learn to breathe and to go with the flow

I doubt that I will completely forget
The emotional scars of those years
And my decision I do not regret
refusing to shed any more tears.

I am young and despite all this drama
I will not let its pain mar my life
I just need time to patch up my armour
And forget I was ever your wife.

Life is taking me along a new path
Winding around and not very clear
I hope to a safe place where I can laugh
Throwing away these feelings of fear.

Will I love again I really don’t know
For now I just need space of my own
But it is time to get on with the show
To stop my heart from turning to stone.

©sallycronin

Writer in Residence – Lord Byron – Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Paul Andruss


Welcome to another article by Paul Andruss that explores the truth behind some of our literary legends. Lord Byron was had a short life but one that left its mark on the world…

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know… by Paul Andruss

Byron in Greek National Dress

No, not me… but I’m flattered you considered it, even for a moment.

‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’ was how Lady Caroline Lamb described her lover Lord Byron after he dumped her. Caroline Lamb was as mad as a box of frogs. Even Byron couldn’t handle her, which, God knows, given his track-record should be proof enough.

Caro Lamb (Wikipedia)

During one vitriolic public spat with Byron, ‘Caro’ attempted suicide in the middle of a ball by slashing her wrists with a wineglass. Talk about hell has no fury; she then took it on herself to blacken his name with a public eager for any breath of scandal from this rock-star.

Hang on, rock star? Well famously, sex, drugs and rock-n-roll makes you a rock-star. All you gotta do is substitute poetry for rock-n-roll and….

What d’ya think the big appeal was for people like Keats? Consumption?

Considering we have a song for every occasion from weddings to funerals, with lyrics so personal they are meant only for us, is it really so hard to image getting the same chills from a poem?

In the days before I-pods, Discmans, Walkmans, transistor radios, dancettes, radiograms and even wind up gramophones (not though I’m implying any of you are that old) music was not personal, but public. After all, you can’t take a piano on a picnic. But you could a poetry book; to be read aloud or even in dreamy silence.

Ken Russell brought home the idea of poets as rock-stars, as only he could, in his film Gothic: about the summer Byron spent with fellow poet Shelley in the villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva. A holiday that saw the creation of Frankenstein and the first inklings of vampire fiction based on Byron’s remembered folktales from his travels in Greece. In the opening scene two prim young women sneak into the villa gardens, spot the poets, start screaming hysterically and throw their bloomers at them.

Mary and Percy Shelley; Byron and John Polidori (National Portrait Gallery)

Due to the huge volcanic explosion of Mount Tambora the year before, 1816 was called ‘the year without a summer’. Byron and Shelley, along with the Wollenscroft sisters, stayed in the Villa Diodati. Imprisoned in the house by the appalling weather they did what any self-respecting rock-stars would do: got drunk and off their heads on opium, and no doubt hashish from Ottoman Turkey.

George Byron was born in 1788 with a club foot, something that caused him acute embarrassment and violent fights at school. It also added to his allure an adult: sure proof he was the Devil. His deformity possibly gave him the idea of controlling his image when famous. He personally approved all portraits, only allowing himself to be presented in certain studied poses that gave rise to an ideal of a Byronic hero: mean, moody and magnificent.

Byron Portrait (From Britannica)

So, we know Byron was a poet, even though we can’t quote any lines of poetry (*see footnote); that he was devilishly handsome (remember he approved his portraits); and a thoroughly bad lot. But who was Byron and why did the very mention of his name make men, as well as women, want to lie down and reach for the smelling salts?

One of the first things you come across is Byron’s bisexuality. Although, I think that term is a bit post-Freudian. People are sexual, and of course opportunistic. In an all-boys school with hormones raging, then…

Byron confessed to ‘violent passions’ with school friends and had a protégé at university. In later life, he admitted believing ‘consciousness of sexual difference made England untenable’. In those days, homosexuality and sodomy was not just social ruin, but also hanging offences.

Byron also had women: lots of women. One was a distant cousin, Mary Chatsworth; another was his half-sister, Augusta Leigh. Rumours of incest abound. It was claimed he fathered a child on Augusta. His introduction to sex started at the age of 9, when a serving girl visited his bedroom to ‘play tricks on his person’: her way of ensuring he did not tell his mother of her drunken binges.

Underpainting sketch for portrait of Byron’s half-sister Augusta Leigh

During this time his widowed mother’s suitor Lord Grey De Ruthyn also made sexual advances on him. The first vampire story, and possible origination of the genre, was written by Byron’s physician John Polidori during that fateful summer at the Villa Diodati. The vampire, a suave nobleman based on his employer Lord Byron, is called Lord Ruthven, making one wonder what Bryon confided to his handsome, young doctor and under what circumstances.

At the age of 21, Byron headed off on a European Grand Tour as did most young noblemen. An influencing factor may have been a friend downing himself rather than risking public exposure of his sexuality. Byron later admitted sexual freedom was also a lure.

In 1809, with Napoleon rampaging through Europe and Wellington fighting the Peninsula War in Portugal, Byron headed to Italy and through the Ottoman Empire to Turkish Greece. (Greeks and Turks still hate each other.) Here he took up with a 14 year old boy and a 12 year old girl in Athens.

(Even writing this leaves me feeling contaminated – child abuse: one of the many unpalatable facets of history. The past is not just a foreign country; it’s your worst nightmare.)

On a brighter note the Pasha of Greece allegedly wanted to make Byron his catamite. Byron only managed to evade his advances because of his title.

Returning to England, Byron wrote of his travels in the first cantos of his ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ and became instantly famous. Of course despite mounting debts, Byron, being a gentleman, refused payment for his work, which must have made his publishers very happy indeed.

Annabella Milbanke

During this time came his scandalous affairs, mounting debts and unhappy marriage. His wife’s wealthy family were ‘trade’. They had the cash: he the title. Annabella Milbanke, a ‘blue-stocking’ (i.e. educated), their heiress was their pride and joy.

She was also Caro Lamb’s cousin, which couldn’t have gone down well with her deranged relative once she realised Byron had no intention of revisiting that pasture. Fervent, pure-minded and madly in love with Byron’s poetry, Annabella believed she could cure her husband’s excesses and thereby save his soul.

Hmmm… guess what!

Eventually Byron was forced to flee rather than face prosecution for sodomy with his wife. Society gasped to learn Annabella was prepared to face such public humiliation merely to punish her husband. They suspected Caro was behind it. A trifle hypocritical considering Byron had also indulged himself in that way with Caro before marriage and Caro rather enjoyed it, even dressing up as a young manservant to facilitate the illusion.

However, exile did allow Byron to escape his ruinous debts – so it wasn’t all bad.

While living in Venice in 1816, he learned Armenian, co-authoring an English-Armenian Grammar, and eloped with the young wife of an old count with whom he resided until he left for Greece 7 years later. During this time he wrote many important works including Don Juan. His friend Shelley died in a boating accident as did his illegitimate daughter to Mary Wollenscroft Shelley’s sister. Dead of fever at the age of 5, while under her father’s loving but negligent care.

Memorial to the drowned poet Shelley in Oxford

In 1823 Byron joined the Greek fight for Independence from the Ottoman Empire. While sailing to the Greek mainland from the island of Kefalonia, Byron’s ship, fleeing the Turkish navy, landed to Messalongi where Byron joined the rebels. The following spring he caught a chill which may have resulted in pneumonia. With unsterilized instruments the usual medical practice of bloodletting left him with blood poisoning. He died on the 23 April 1824 aged 36.

He left instructions in his will for all his personal papers to be destroyed. His executors carried out his last request: making him even more of an enigma and ensuring the myth of the Byronic hero influenced generations of poets, writers and bohemians. Although lauded by the Greeks and an object of endless fascination to the British public, the establishment never really forgave him.

Byron Memorial Messalongi Greece

Byron had a daughter with his wife Annabella: the famous ‘blue stocking’. No surprise Ada turned out to be a brilliant mathematician, developing computer programmes for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine (1837): the first general purpose programmable digital mechanical computer of the modern age. The size of a small palace it was worked by gears and handles. Due to its size and complexity Babbage only completed a small part of the Analytical Engine, before his death. But all this of course is another story.

Ada Lovelace (nee Byron)

*Footnote: Opening lines of ‘She Walks in Beauty’ by Byron
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;

©Paul Andruss 2017

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

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

Finn Mac Cool

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.

Smorgasbord Poetry – Self- Portrait by Carmen Stefanescu


I am delighted to share Self-Portrait by Carmen Stefanescu as part of the new poetry series. If you would like to share your poem here then please contact me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and we can talk about what I need to showcase you and your other work.

SELF- PORTRAIT

I am the seagull
whose wings have been broken.
I am the frail leaf
snatched by the gust.
I am the hour
that’s already wasted,
I am a dream
that belongs to the past.

I am the foreseer
that people mock at,
Or the guitar
that has no more strings,
I’m the dried well
that won’t quench the thirst,
I am the jester
scorned by the kings.

I’m not the bright rainbow
that shines after storms,
Or the swift eagle
high up in the sky.
I am not the oak tree
defying the time.
I am just a drifter
reluctant to die !

©Carmen Stefanescu 2017

Carmen Stefanescu was born in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble – the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.

Teacher of English and German in her native country and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world, that of the books.

She has dreamed all her life to become a writer, but many of the things she wrote during those years remained just drawer projects. The fall of the Ceausescu’s regime in 1989 and the opening of the country to the world meant a new beginning for her. She started publishing. Poems first, and then prose. Both in English.

Books by Carmen Stefanescu

Read the reviews so far and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Draculas-Prodigy-Mistress-Book-ebook/dp/B071KVQ48W

Buy Dracula’s Mistress: https://www.amazon.com/Draculas-Mistress-Carmen-Stefanescu-ebook/dp/B06XNW7RXD

Connect to Carmen

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624397.Carmen_Stefanescu
Blog: http://shadowspastmystery.blogspot.ro/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Carmen_Books
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/carmens007/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carmen-Stefanescu-Books/499245716760283
Google: https://plus.google.com/117216040843648957646/posts

If you would like to share your poetry and also your other written work then please contact me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com