Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New book on the Shelves #Pre-order #Romance – The Gambling Hearts Series Book Three: My Girl by Jacquie Biggar


USA Today Bestselling author Jacquie Biggar has a new release on Pre-order 99c/99p until October 21st for book three in the Gambling Hearts Series: My Girl.

About the book

Sometimes, the right decision isn’t the easiest one to make

Trish Sylvester knows her family and when they accept a week long stay at a rustic dude ranch, she is concerned- especially since it’s at her ex’s home.

Aaron is overjoyed at the opening of his family’s guest ranch, until he learns their first guest is his ex-girlfriend, her parents–and a fiancé.

And that isn’t the only surprise.

Head over and buy the book at 99c until October 21st: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XBDVQ35

And on Amazon UK at 99p: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07XBDVQ35/

A selection of of other books by Jacquie Biggar

One of the recent reviews for Book Two – The Gambling Hearts: Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

A high powered New York publicity expert comes home to help her family save their ranch, and to finally resolve her lingering feelings for the handsome ranch hand she left behind but both her brothers and her crush seem to think they can do just fine without her. The thing is, she’s all grown up now, and she’s not willing to take no for an answer.

I loved Sophia’s determination, her spunk and her vulnerability, and it was hard not to feel for the strong and silent Tony with all his conflicted feelings – besides who doesn’t love a cowboy. Their romance made for a great way to spend an afternoon.

Read all the reviews and buy the books including great deals on book sets: https://www.amazon.com/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG

And at Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG/

Read more reviews and follow Jacquie Biggar on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445812.Jacquie_Biggar

About Jacquie Biggar

Jacquie Biggar is a USA TODAY bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males who know what they want. That is until they’re gob-smacked by heroines who are strong, contemporary women willing to show them what they really need is love. She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has just started a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls. She has also contributed to several successful anthologies.

She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.

Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can’t function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. 🙂

Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her web site: http://jacqbiggar.com

Connect to Jacquie Biggar

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Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will head over and explore other books by Jacquie Biggar. We all need a little romance in our lives….. thanks Sally

Just an Odd Job Girl – Serialisation – Chapter Ten – Cat Burglars and Insurance Fraud! by Sally Cronin


This was the first novel that I wrote back in 2001 when I first moved to Spain to live. I had written short stories before and non-fiction health books, but felt the need to bring a little romance and humour into my writing.. the result was Just an Odd Job Girl.

Previously Imogen ends up running a pub on the Isle of Wight and ends up enforcing the rules with a pick axe handle.

Chapter Ten – Cat Burglars and Insurance Fraud! by Sally Cronin

We found a lovely small flat in Southsea, a few roads back from the sea. It had a bedroom, bathroom, separate kitchen, and a combined living and dining room. It was nicely furnished and felt like our first real home. The only drawback was the three Spanish students who lived above us. They were used to staying out late and would arrive home about three in the morning and proceed to indulge in a spot of Flamenco dancing, or so it sounded. The tap of three pairs of high heels on wooden floors had a rhythm to it that was a little like a dripping tap. We would bury our heads under our pillows, but eventually we learnt to live with this minor inconvenience.

Not so their cat, a black and white tom with a distinct lack of regard for other people’s property, particularly of the edible kind. Over a period of some weeks, I became increasingly alarmed by the amount that Peter was eating. I got into the habit of cooking two meals at a time. This worked very well for stews, roasts, and pasta dishes. We would take one day’s portion and I would leave the remainder to cool on the kitchen table before putting in the refrigerator for the next day.

The one thing that Peter would do about the house, was to clear the empty plates away and wash up while he made us a cup of tea. We would then settle down on the sofa and watch our tiny television until it was time for us go to bed. I would take the empty cups out to the kitchen and put the next day’s dinner away. I began to notice a marked difference in the original amount and the quantity that I was putting in the refrigerator. At first, it was only a slight difference and I assumed that Peter was helping himself to an extra spoonful or two when he was making the tea.

After two or three weeks, it became more than a spoonful and in fact there was barely enough to feed one person the next night, let alone two. I decided to tackle the problem discreetly, as I knew what Peter could be like when he was criticised. He did not take kindly to having his actions questioned, which was another little sign I managed to ignore for twenty-five years.

‘Darling, you seem very hungry in the evenings, would you like me to do a few more potatoes and vegetables’ I thought that was diplomatic enough.

‘What do you mean, hungry.’ A belligerent look swept over his face.

‘There’s too much on the plate as it is, I am putting on weight and I have been meaning to talk to you about it.’

Was this self-denial? Here he was, helping himself to our next day’s dinner and having a go at me for feeding him too much and causing a weight problem.

Of course, a full-scale argument ensued and everything that had been stored and filed for future use came out into the open. I slept on the sofa that night, and Peter slammed around the flat until midnight. It did have an upside however, in the form of verbal abuse, hurled upwards to the occupants of the upstairs flat who unfortunately chose this night to hold a fiesta with much heel tapping and laughter at four in the morning. There was a deathly silence then giggling. We could hear bare feet slapping across the floors, as beds were sought and then quiet, which was to thankfully last until the girls moved out a month later. However, all hell was to break loose in our apartment before they left.

After the argument, we made up and I started making one meal at a time and cooking every day. We did have fish and chips on Saturday, after the pub and peace reigned in our little palace for a while.

I was doing temp work at the time and was moving around the place quite a lot. I was asked to work late one night, with an insurance company that was behind in paying its claims. The day before, I had made two dinners, as before, and put the half dish of lasagne on the table to cool. I had forgotten to put salt on the table and returned to the kitchen to get it – much to the surprise of the cat with it’s head buried in the béchamel and cheese sauce. It was so enraptured with my cooking that it did not even look up. I was so startled; I just stood at the kitchen door and screamed my head off. The cat leapt up with arched back and hissed at me. It looked pretty ridiculous really, with a ring of white sauce clinging to its whiskers and a piece of tomato hanging from his mouth.

Peter shot into the kitchen and the three of us stood in a frozen tableau. Peter was the first to move, grabbing a tea towel from the back of the door, he flung it at the cat. Obviously, my lasagne was a prize to hang on to. The cat actually grabbed another bite before leaping nimbly onto the sink and onto the windowsill. We rushed to the open window just in time to see the cat climbing up the ivy that covered the front of the house. With an arrogant backward glance, he gracefully slid into Spanish territory and we were left hanging out of our window, powerless to catch the cat burglar.

This solved the mystery of the missing food. The cat had looked very much at home, and it was obvious that this was not the first time it had helped itself to dinner at our expense. Short of causing an international incident, especially after we had introduced our neighbours to Anglo Saxon vocabulary, we decided to keep the window closed – to a level that allowed air, but not feline, entry.

I thought it was all very funny, but Peter was not amused. He was all for going down to the surgery immediately and having all sorts of tests conducted to find out if he had been infected with cat flu or similar. Of course, it was entirely my fault, for leaving food uncovered, and for not closing the window. I did point out that I had not expected to be burgled on the third floor of a building, but apparently this was not a permissible excuse.

Despite the increasingly volatile relationship between us, we stayed there for nearly a year. In that time I worked for a Temp agency and found myself using my rusty secretarial skills around the city. Most of the jobs were boring and repetitive but of course, being me, there were one or two incidents of note, even among the mundane tasks allotted to the transient temp.

I worked for two insurance companies in my first few weeks with the agency. My first assignment was in the typing pool, where I was expected to spend the entire day typing claim cheques. These were usually payments as a result of motor accidents, and some of the cheques were for several thousand pounds. You had to pay strict attention. I had an electronic typewriter that I was unused to, and in fact, looked on in envy by the girls pecking away on their manual versions. I learnt to master the beast that seemed to have a mind of its own. Keep your finger too long on a particular key and you ended up with a cheque for a million pounds instead of a hundred. All the cheques were numbered and any ruined ones had to be logged and given in at the end of the day to the accounts department. I did not get off to an auspicious start.

The cheques came in packs of fifty. They were joined together and had perforations between each cheque. On my first day, I managed to produce seventy acceptable cheques and thirty cancelled ones. The supervisor glared at me from behind her glasses and muttered something about temps and waste of time, I didn’t quite catch it all. I sidled out of the door vowing never to return. I half expected a call from the agency telling me that I was not welcome back anyway, but the reprieve never arrived.

The next day I found myself, once again, back in front of the gleaming monster. The curved keyboard reminded me of rows of teeth, determined to bite my fingers off at the first touch. However, for some reason, I started to get my eye in, and on the second day I produced ninety-five perfect specimens and only five rejects. By the fourth day, I was producing one hundred and fifty cheques a day with barely an error. The supervisor had thawed somewhat and the muttering under her breath had been silenced. This silence did not extend to the other temps that had been drafted in to clear this backlog of insurance claims.

Three of them cornered me in the ladies at coffee break, standing with arms crossed and grim expressions; I wondered what I had done to incur their displeasure and smiled sweetly in an effort to lighten the atmosphere.

A blonde, with deceptive baby blue eyes, leaned closer to me after assuring herself that the toilet stalls were empty.

‘What do you think you are doing?’ she hissed at me between clenched teeth.

‘We have been here for six weeks and they’ve been very pleased with our work.’ She continued, glancing at her companions for moral support.

‘We only produce seventy-five cheques a day. What are you trying to do, talk yourself out of a job, and ours along with it. The backlog should have kept us all here for the next six weeks until Christmas.’
She took a breath and imparted the final shot.

‘The supervisor has told us all to increase our cheques per day or she will have us replaced, you have to slow down now or there will be trouble.’

Right! Here I am, so desperate to get out of this place that I have perfected the art of cheque production, and these three bimbos want me to slow down so that they can stay here forever.

The problem with me is that I have never been much of a sheep and although I did not feel that a temporary job was worth getting into a fight over, I did have a problem with dishonesty.

Both the insurance company and the temp agency were getting fiddled here. These three girls were deliberately working slowly, taking three times as long to do the job as was necessary, and therefore taking three times more money than they should.

I pushed past them and returned to my desk. I carried on working at my normal speed and produced my one hundred and fifty cheques as usual. I also a produced a couple of other things. I earned glares and ostracism from my three temporary colleagues and my first genuine smile from the supervisor at the end of the day. I don’t think she missed much at all and I was proved correct when three replacement staff were drafted in to the department the following Monday.

I was given the task of bringing them up to speed and ensuring that an acceptable number of cheques were produced each day. The job was completed in three weeks and as my three erstwhile colleagues had predicted, we only had three weeks left until Christmas. Most offices did not take on temps at this time of year, and I was told by the agency that there would be some vacancies in department stores for the sales in January and that they might not be able to find me anything until then.

I adjusted my Christmas present list, which left Peter with a pair of socks, and my parents with a bottle of wine and a bunch of flowers. My responsibility was to pay for the food each week, so I hurriedly rang around both sets of parents and siblings to wangle an invitation for Christmas lunch and Boxing Day. I was marginally successful, but it looked like fish and chips for New Year. Then I received a call from the Agency.

With just two weeks to go before Christmas, an unusual vacancy had come up. A receptionist–secretary for a ‘Funeral Director and Chauffeur Driven Limousine Service’. Not the most cheerful of occupations at Christmas time. But, beggars can’t be choosers. The thought of Peter’s face, when he opened his solitary Christmas gift, convinced me, and I duly arrived at Flanagan’s Funeral Directors on December 15th.
©Sally Georgina Cronin Just an Odd Job Girl

One of the reviews for the book

Dec 04, 2015 Jo Robinson rated it it was amazing

Just an Odd Job Girl is the uplifting story of Imogen. Cast aside aged almost fifty by her husband who chooses a younger wife to replace her she faces beginning life all over again. A new and most cool phrase totally to me in this book – the fast tracker – a great name for those gorgeous young women who forego the whole long term working to succeed in life together as a couple in favour of swiping an already successful older man from the woman who has put in all the years to gain the success. Imogen’s self-confidence is low as it can be, but she heads off to a personnel agency that specializes in placing the more mature job seeker to see if they can help her find work in spite of her not obviously stellar curriculum vitae. Twenty four years of “only” housewife and mother. There she is interviewed by Andrew Jenkins, who rather than dismisses her on the basis of her tiny CV, encourages her to tell him what she liked or didn’t like about the few jobs she did have many years back before she stopped working in exchange for being a stay at home wife and mother. And then the fun begins!

I laughed so hard I almost cried a few times reading Imogen’s memories of former jobs and employers. She’s crazy in the most wonderfully inspiring way. Chasing thieves and fabulousness in a funeral parlour and dentists office to name only two of the places she showed her wonderful character and savvy in on her Odd Job Girl trip. The apprehending of the shoplifter just has to be read! In the telling of her own life, Imogen realizes her value though. While this book is a really fun romp, it’s also very poignant and touching. So many women around the globe really do get kicked to the kerb after years of thinking that they married their true love, and would be together forever. Generally they feel old and ugly, all used up and not much use for anyone or anything, let alone a meaningful career and life.

This is a book with a happy ending, and an inspirational happy ending at that. It shows that all is never lost until the very last breath that you take. It shows that everyone has fabulousness within us, and all it takes is to recognize it, grab it, and have a ball with the amazingly wonderful person that you are. It’s not all about age, it’s all about feisty and real. Five out of five stars and a very hearty one hundred percent recommendation. A nice one for the guys out there too – especially if you have ever been a target for a fast tracker. There’s a whole lot more to life than a little bit of nubile.

If you would like to browse my other Ebooks.. you can find their reviews https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thanks for dropping in and as always your feedback is very welcome. Sally.

I hope you will join me again next week for the next chapter in Imogen’s colourful work history.

Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Romance, A modern fairy story by Sally Cronin


Last week was Valentine’s Day so I shared a post I wrote for USA Today Bestselling Romance author Jacquie Biggar’s website last year – on the subject of keeping the magic of romance alive every day.

In respect of this series, where I explore some of the key elements of our modern lives, I take a light-hearted look at love and romance. Well partly light-hearted, as there are some elements of this universally sought after state of bliss that can be from the dark side.

I thought I would share my modern fairy story with you and the things I have learnt along the way.

Have you ever wondered why the classic fairy stories that involve a beautiful farmer’s daughter, scullery maid or even a princess, who are swept off their feet by a handsome and rich stranger on a white horse; end with the words ‘And they lived happily ever after’?

It was not just because most were written by men, at a time when a woman was a chattel who cooked, cleaned and bore children. Women believed that was their role and yearned for it! The male writers of the fairy stories of the time were definitely headed off to happy ever after!

That may sound a bit cynical, but I can remember as a child being fed the propaganda. Most commonly via bedtime stories and the ‘Happy Ever After’ films that we were allowed to watch in our teen years. Disney had the whole thing down to a fine art. By the time I was sixteen and listening to the crooners of the day, I was convinced that at some point, a rich and handsome stranger was going to gallop into my life and sweep me off into a love filled paradise just made for two.

By the time I was 19 years old I had kissed a few frogs. I also thought that Prince Charming had ridden in a few times, then discovered that in reality they just as quickly rode off into the sunset. Still that is all part of growing up, but because of the indoctrination of childhood, I mistook one particular prince for the real thing.

 

Oh the joy in the royal family, that the princess had been chosen by a prince of such standing in the community. A large wedding was planned and executed by the two queens with the kings simply opened the doors to the treasure houses. The invitation lists in both palaces grew by the hour as dignitaries were invited from far and wide. Many of whom the princess and prince had never met. The reception was a masterpiece of just the right location and the food suitably divine. A vaulted arch of the prince’s entourage lined the drive from the grand cathedral; carriages awaited to take the jubilant bridal party to the festivities.

 

A few glasses of champagne, elegant speeches and a thrown bouquet that was caught by the next lucky bride. Then the prince swept the princess off on his luxurious charger into the sunset to the awaiting bridal chamber.

They call it a day to remember, and certainly as I thought about the celebrations in the weeks and months following, I knew it would be etched on my mind forever; not necessarily for the right reasons. Suddenly the prince was not quite so charming, but still my belief that in the end the magic would prevail, maintained the veil of delusion over my star struck eyes.

However, pretty quickly, what I had believed to be the essence of true romance had vanished, and during the next few years I had some pretty good lessons about the reality of maintaining a one-sided relationship. I was trapped by the web that had been spun around me and I felt it would be impossible to break free without angering so many; particularly at the two royal courts.

But one day, for some reason, the spell lost its power and despite the threat of banishment to a far off land where my shame would not be witnessed by family and friends; I packed up a small bundle of clothes and hit the road.

 

I spent the next three years wandering and keeping well away from anyone who knew me, ending up in the depths of the Welsh mountains where I flirted and flitted through a number of meaningless relationships. I was not going to be caught up in the fairy tale again. I was very happy to be the wicked witch and to spend my life making spells of my own and being loved by cats. My release papers arrived on April 1st which seemed totally appropriate.

Then, would you believe it… a prince arrived in disguise. Quiet and bespectacled and riding an ancient nag that had seen better days. There were no grand or extravagant gestures, just a gentle wearing down of my defenses. But there was magic involved of that I am certain. I felt myself being drawn in despite the walls that I had built around me. A spell was being woven that ensnared me and despite all my best intentions, after only one dinner date, I found myself saying yes to spending a lifetime together with this softly spoken suitor.

The Queen and King back at the castle were I was born were aghast on hearing that I was betrothed again. And to a foreign prince from afar with as yet unknown credentials, who had the audacity to propose on our first date; the Queen announced that she was about to faint.

My prince was not about to let the grass grow under his steed however and he approached the King and asked for his daughter’s hand. Rather hopefully, the king offered him £5 and a step ladder, and an enquiry as to if  there might be an elopement. Which there was, and within six weeks, very quietly and without undue ceremony, we were married.

 

This time just both sets of Kings and Queens and one lady in waiting attended! Drenching rain blessed the union in a small office in Wales. After a celebratory lunch we set off on the prince’s ancient steed to a rather dark castle in the mountains, where the bridal suite, decked in red flock wallpaper, vibrated to the noise emanating from the public bar beneath.

Then it was off to the damp and musty rooms, that we managed to find and afford, whilst we worked hard together to build up enough savings to buy our first modest home. That has set the pattern for the last 39 years, where we have both worked together as a team to keep our relationship strong and to achieve a reasonable expectation of ‘Happy Ever After’.

 

Every fairy story usually has a moral at its heart and for me, that was ‘All that glitters is not gold’ and fancy cars, uniforms, extravagant gestures and empty promises are not worth the paper they are written on.

Thirty-nine years into my second marriage, I have no doubt in my mind that my first disaster was sent to teach me a valuable lesson and to appreciate the real thing when I finally found it.

Considering that statistics show that at least 45% of marriages and civil partnerships end in divorce or separation, at least some of you reading this will have gone through a similar experience with your own modern fairy story!

A few observations I have made along the way.

Overuse of the ‘L’ word

I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to overusing words that are supposed to be used to express ones devotion to another.  I love, sugar, salt, dogs, writing, reading, movies, music, next door’s cat, Tom Selleck, chocolate, red wine, ice-cream, strictly come dancing, buying clothes, shoes and handbags.

So how special does that make my husband feel when I tell him I love him?

Words are very easy to use and they spill from our mouths with increasing thoughtlessness to their actual meaning. Telling someone you love them all the time and expecting them to do likewise, especially when you also use the same expression for all the other ‘things’ in your life, can dilute its meaning.  It is lovely to hear from time to time, especially when accompanied by an act of love that reinforces it.

It is actions that speaker louder than words and you can show how much you love someone every day without having to vocalise the emotion.

A very good reason for that loss of the bond that keeps a relationship strong is our expectations. However realistic we may think we are, we still believe that life is going to be eternally happy when we have found our prince or princess. In truth once the courting days, when we are on our best behaviour and make an effort to look great are over, we find out that perhaps we are not as suited as we thought.

Expectations for some young people are fuelled by the the constant stream of gossip about celebrities and their million pound weddings, 100k dresses and a centrefold spread in ‘Hello’. And the fact, that they are far more likely to break up within seven years,also brings a normalcy to the temporary nature of relationships. Particularly as it seems that it is okay to have another million pound wedding with a 100k dress and lavish party again and again. Recreating the fairy story and quite frankly tarnishing it.

It is certainly true for some that there is an expectation of instant gratification and when it looks like some hard work is needed to make a relationship work, it is easier to leave and find another short term fix.

My sympathy does lie however, with the children who seem to be dragged through the public spats and repeated matrimonials without any say in the matter; and you can only wonder what it does to their perception of love and romance!

It seems that once the honeymoon is over, there comes the period of adjustment when it it is permissible to change anything and everything about your new spouse, so that they conform to your idea of perfection!

Football or basketball might be more of a priority than previously thought and nights out with the girls once a week and clubbing might be tough to give up.

One of the assumptions that we make is that when we get married we will be joined at the hip and do everything together. This might be fine if you get married at 75 or 80 years old, but if you are in your twenties, you are still growing and developing. Being married should not mean losing your individuality and there should be activities that you continue to pursue, as long as it takes your partner into consideration.. In fact over the years you will find that you begin to share more and more and that you grow more alike.

There are plenty of activities that you will share as a couple, including when children arrive; which is a wonderful but labour intensive part of a relationship. Sleepless nights and eighteen years of car-pooling and soccer practice begin to eat into time that might be set aside for romantic gestures. Certainly cash flow is usually also restricted with mortgages and college funds. Life is going to keep pushing your boundaries and if you do not have a strong bond, then it will succeed in tearing you apart.

Then there are the little things we didn’t really notice when we were in the throes of passion. Prince charming does snore, have smelly socks and breaks wind and so does his princess.

One of the most often used excuses by men for their infidelity is ‘My wife does not understand me.’ Which usually means that a wife and mother is spending all her time keeping food on the table, taking care of the children as well as hold down a job and not paying him enough attention.

The most used excuse for women for infidelity, is that the love and romance has gone out of their marriage, and they just wanted to feel beautiful and desired. Which usually means that a man is out working in a stressful job all day, comes home and just wants to eat his meal in peace, watch the television have a beer and get some sleep.

And just a tip… let him take his coat off, have a meal and relax before you tell him the washing machine is broken.

It takes a huge amount of work to keep the various relationship elements alive and well.  A lot more work than some people are willing to put in.

There is nothing wrong with ‘Contentment’

Happiness is this all encompassing emotion that is a high we all expect to achieve; and of course there are moments in your life of sheer joy. However, it is impossible to sustain that for 60 or 70 years. You would be worn out. To be honest your friends and family will be pretty weary of seeing your perpetual smiling face and happiness.  It will simply be too tough for them to compete with the perfection.

It is much healthier to achieve a state of contentment, where you still make the effort to keep love and romance alive, and are able to sustain it. This is when the small gestures such as making cups of tea, holding hands in the movies, cooking a favourite meal or a date night, really come into their own.

And one of the key elements of a healthy and long relationship is the laughter. Without that glue to keep you together, it is easy for one or both of you to descend into misery.

At the end of the day this is just my views on romance and certainly every couple needs to find the formula that works for them. Hopefully I have given you something to think about and if you feel that the romance in your partnership could use some TLC then now is the time to give the matter some serious thought.

©sally cronin 2019

You can find the other chapters in the series in this directory… and your feedback is always welcome: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/something-to-think-about/

 

Something to Think About – Keeping the Magic of Romance Alive Every Day by Sally Cronin


This post appeared on Jacquie Biggar’s website last year. I thought you might like to read again on this day of love and romance….

Not everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day and I believe that romance is something that infuses every day of a relationship, but if receiving a card, or some roses, reminds someone of how much they are loved, then this is a good day.

My thanks to Jacquie for inviting me to share my views on romance. It is one of the elements of our lives which is universal, and much sort after. People often ask what the secret to a happy relationship is… darned if I know.  All I can offer you is some of the little things I have come to appreciate over the last 50 odd years of dating and relationships. Make that 55 as I had a crush on Peter Birch at primary school age ten which resulted in my first broken heart!

Because many of you who are reading this are writers, I thought you might be interested in a few statistics on the billion-dollar-a-year Romance book industry via Romance Writers

  • The annual total sales of romance novels per year is in excess of a billion dollars.
  • Romance novel share of the U.S. fiction market is 34%.
  • 82% of romance readers are women.
  • Average age is 35-39.

What interested me about these statistics is that romance is a hot ticket item. It is also evident that romantic stories are very much sought after by women, but clearly not as high on the list for men. Something that those who feel men are sometimes not as romantic as they might be, would find interesting!

Another statistic is that the average age of those seeking out romance stories is between the ages of 35-39… which begs the question… Do women in their 40s, 50s, 60s give up on romance, or they are simply not catered for by the romance writers?

Like most young girls of my generation, I was infused with the myths surrounding love and romance at an early age. Between fairy tales and my mother’s desire to make the goal of romance clear cut in my mind, I surmised that at some point a Prince Charming, on a white horse, would sweep into my life, whisk me off my feet, and we would ride off into a future of bliss, children and Happy Ever After.

I was encouraged to take the available wisdom to heart, and with hopes and dreams of my own, embarked on my own dating adventures. The trouble with ingrained expectations is that they are not always as revered by others, particularly the opposite sex.

However, after some false starts, at the age of 20, a more mature Prince Charming of 26 did arrive, in uniform and driving a classic American sports car. It seemed that expectations had been met and exceeded, and it was crowned with a spectacular wedding with matriarchal approval on both sides. We drove off into the sunset with clanging tin cans behind the steed… which proved to be tolling bells of doom!

Trouble is what you see is not always what you get! And when compounded with differing expectations of what a relationship is supposed to be, and a lack of commitment of one of the participants, things tend to fall apart. After four years, some interesting life lessons, and an expensive legal intervention which took three years, I finally managed to extricate myself with a vow to never marry again.

Then wouldn’t you know it, six months later, into my life walked a softly-spoken, unassuming guy who took me out on a date and asked me to marry him before the night was over. Five weeks later, without any ceremony, and with just our parents in attendance, we exchanged rings and our own vows.

The last 39 years have taught me that romance is not one-size fits all, is unique to two people who love each other, and is not always about red roses and chocolates.

Some of the elements that spell romance for me.

As Jeremy Taylor quoted ‘Love is Friendship set on Fire’. Of course there is that initial, and amazing firework display of hormonally induced physical attraction, which then evolves over the years into a familiarity that can still be breathtaking. However, without the essential elements of like-mindedness, shared moral code, sense of humour, and appreciation of another’s unique personality, the fire of romance slowly dies down to embers.

An analogy I often use for romance between two people, is that it is like an extended ballroom dance that flows and whirls with two partners in perfect sync. Always staying within the limits of the dance floor, allowing other styles come into play, with fiery tangos and playful sambas as the tempo of the music changes. Even when there is a momentary loss of connection, there is a coming together again, and the dance always finishes in a firm embrace.

Whilst there may be the occasional extravagant gesture when a special event warrants it, mostly it is the small things that keep romance alive and flourishing.

Red roses are wonderful, and we all love to receive a bouquet on Valentine’s Day or an anniversary. But it is the odd flower brought in from the garden and laid on a breakfast tray, a small tree planted in the garden that blossoms every spring, or the paper flower, misshapen and oddly coloured that appears by a bedside, that really help to keep romance alive.

Romance is waking up on every birthday to find cards hand-made from images of sea, sunflowers, cats and dogs, golden sunsets with handwritten verses inside that come from the heart. It is also those few minutes on your wedding anniversary when you sit silently, holding hands and remembering that special day and the people who are no longer there to share the memories with you.

True romance flourishes when you are unwell and scared and a strong hand holds yours and a voice close to your ear, tells you that it will be alright, that you are safe. It is when you suffer a loss and cry together and heal together. It is when you walk through the door and someone says, ‘hi love, how was your day?’

Romance is when the last words before you go to sleep are ‘I love you’

Romance does exist after 39 years old, whatever the statistics might say.

Romance and love go hand in hand, and as I watch very old people together, you can tell the ones who still adore and respect each other. It is easy to still see that spark and twinkle in the eyes, the small touches of a hand or brush of lint from a shoulder. That unity has been welded from years of life, laughter, sadness, joy, disappointment, excitement and love. Thousands of cups of tea, breakfasts in bed, dances in the kitchen, date nights, holding hands in the movies and vigils by a sickbed, have gone into the rich tapestry that is romance. There might be a faded red rose pressed between the pages of a diary, or a diamond ring that comes out on special occasions, but it is these small daily gestures that will have kept the romance alive and will continue to do so long after one or both of them dies.

Romance is also about the things we don’t do in a relationship.

We don’t belittle someone we love in public and then say ‘But you know I love you’.

We don’t bully them and then say we are doing it ‘Because you know I love you.’

We don’t marry who we believe is Prince Charming or the fairy princess, and then set about changing them by saying ‘You know it is because I love you.’

We don’t take the actions of those we love for granted, and saying ‘thank you’ for a meal, a wardrobe full of clean clothes or for being a great mum or dad, goes a long way to keep romance alive.

Romance is not about making someone happy or expecting them to make you happy. Your happiness is your responsibility and choice. Putting the onus for your happiness on someone else is a very quick way to lose them.

I will leave you with one of my favourite poems on romance from Elizabeth Barrett Browning courtesy of The Poem Hunter

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Most of my stories have an element of romance.. and with my latest book, I have even got a Prince Charming (the good kind).

About Tales from the Irish Garden

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…..

All my books in Ebook are available: Amazon UK

And Amazon US: Amazon US

You can read more reviews and follow me on Goodreads: Goodreads

Thank you for dropping in today and even if you don’t celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, what is the most romantic gesture you have ever received?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you prefer the big city or country life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any tattoos and if so, where?

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

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

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

About the book

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

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

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

An early review for the book.

LAS Reviewer Good Reading January 31, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

A selection of other books by Laura M. Baird

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

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

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

Connect to Laura

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

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

 

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – Mañana, Mañana by Sally Cronin


Welcome to the next story from my collection Flights of Fancy… a cheating husband and a dash to a remote beach… what could to wrong… or right?

Mañana, Mañana by Sally Cronin

The hot sun burnt her already tanned legs and she moved them slightly into the shade of the large umbrella overhead. She felt a small trickle of perspiration slide between her breasts and decided that it was not really that uncomfortable a sensation. In fact, it felt rather sensuous.

She looked out across the summer-bleached grass in front of the small villa and waited, her lower lip caught gently between her teeth. Any minute now, any minute now. Yes, there he was. She released her lip with a sharp intake of breath as he walked out of the water and onto the small patch of white sand at the bottom of the garden. He flicked his head and his long, wet black hair erupted into shining droplets of water in the hot air.

He was breath taking. From his arrogant, hawkish face down to his perfectly proportioned feet, he oozed masculinity. His work in the garden had honed his shoulder and chest muscles into sleek male hardness and her hands waved vaguely in the air in remembrance. His waist was small and his hips flared slightly before plunging into long muscular legs.

As he walked back up the beach towards her, she shook her head in disbelief. Just two months ago she had been sobbing her heart out in the kitchen of her luxury house in Chelmsford. Her husband of twenty years had announced, completely out of the blue, that he had just found someone else. To be honest it turned out he had not just found her, but had been enjoying her dubious company for the last five years.

If it had not been for Marjorie Hamilton, and her puncture, she would never have found out about it and would still be living in blissful ignorance. Well, perhaps blissful was a bit strong a word to use for the rather listless state of their marriage, but then again, she really had not had anything to compare it to. Until now!

Anyway, back to Marjorie and her puncture. After a trip to the supermarket, and with a laden boot of shopping, one of the rear tyres on her brand new car had suddenly deflated, right in the middle of the high street. Marjorie had got out and having discovered the cause of the sudden tilt to the right began to prepare her “little girl, I’m helpless look” that had worked so well for her in the past. Glancing around, in hopes of finding an available and suitably impressed gentleman, she spied Gregory Davenport at a table in the window of an Indian restaurant. This in itself was not a shocking revelation but the fact that his hand was gently cupping a chin that was definitely not his wife’s, was.

Marjorie was wearing an oiled rain hat and pulling this lower over her forehead she approached obliquely along the wall of the restaurant. Gregory had his back to her and she had a very good view of his companion. Shockingly, she recognised the chin that was being rapturously held by Gregory’s hand. It was Melanie Blake, her own next-door neighbour, a divorcee and supposed best friend to Gregory’s wife Elizabeth.

Marjorie had backed up the high street towards her car where she found a policeman about to write a ticket. In the ensuing pleading, begging and eventual satisfactory tyre change by the rather handsome young officer, Marjorie almost forgot the wonderfully juicy revelation she had been privy to. Almost, but not quite. By dinnertime that night the secret was out and Elizabeth Davenport had received several commiserating telephone calls.

Hence the tears in the kitchen. Gregory was gone, presumably to obtain sympathy from his paramour, now that he had been forcibly ejected from the marital home. Elizabeth had thrown the appallingly dreadful dinner service, that his mother had given them for a wedding present, at his head when he had proposed that he have his cake and eat it. She now contemplated the shattered crockery and thought it rather nicely summed up her marriage.

There were some compensations. Her children were both very well adjusted and intelligent girls, at university in their first and second years. They rather flummoxed her by not being surprised at the news, and Elizabeth was mortified to think that they had known about their father’s affair and had kept it to themselves. In fact, it appeared that they were not the only ones with prior knowledge, as more and more people rang to commiserate with her and to glean any further gossip that might have slipped through the normal channels.

Something else began to rankle and that was the realisation that up to now, she, Elisabeth, had participated rather vigorously in this community news machine that was now focused on her, and she did not like it one bit.

She had been the perfect wife, looked after the children and Gregory, always making sure that their needs came first. She had not looked at another man since she had become engaged. Well, perhaps that was an exaggeration. She had looked, but she had certainly not touched. This was her reward and a lonely old age beckoned. She was forty-five years old and on the scrap heap. Well, he was going to have to pay, and first thing in the morning she would be contacting her solicitor.

Elizabeth stretched like a cat in the warm sun as she continued to follow the progress of the Adonis up the beach. There was a small wooden gate that separated the sand from the lawn of her villa. He opened it and suddenly noticed her looking in his direction. The dazzle from his white-toothed smile nearly scorched her already overheated skin.

Following her rather emotional but productive meeting with her solicitor, Elizabeth had rung her cousin Susan. Susan had been through the same life-changing situation two years ago and had been lucky enough to retain a rather basic but lovely holiday villa in the south of Spain. It was on an undeveloped part of the coastline, near a small fishing village with a couple of restaurants and a small grocery shop. There were no golf courses in the area, no tourist attractions and it was a perfect hideaway to retreat to, especially as Gregory would no doubt be desperate to speak to her when he received the first broadside from the lawyers.

It was bit laborious to get to the village but once there, Elizabeth unpacked and took to her bed. The sun-bed! Two months later and here she was, still bedridden, but it was hardly due to grief and desperation.

What her cousin had failed to tell her was that the house came with a sitting tenant. In exchange for gardening and keeping an eye on the villa in its owner’s absence, a young musician called Ramon was ensconced in the spare bedroom.

He had been out on the evening that Elizabeth arrived and so they did not collide until the next morning when they both attempted to shower at the same time. Ramon was only clothed in a very small towel and Elizabeth was just wearing a smile. Fleeing to her bedroom she only had time to hear a wonderfully rich laugh coming from the bathroom before locking her door and throwing herself on the bed and under the covers.

Two days later and they had progressed to verbal intimacy. This had not been easy as Ramon’s English was broken and Elizabeth insisted on speaking her half-remembered school French to him, as that was the only foreign language she had ever tried to learn.

That an understanding was reached was largely due to the chemistry that sprang up between them. Elizabeth felt that she was in a permanent state of shock, with stomach churning, weak-kneed anticipation every time she was near him. He, for some reason, found her fascinating and they would sit closer and closer together as they tried to communicate.

Finally, on the third day, the inevitable happened and for the first time in her life, Elizabeth Davenport visited foreign delights that she never knew existed. If she thought her husband’s affair had been a revelation it was knocked into insignificance by far more explosive forces. Life in England, the divorce and any thoughts of the future were dismissed as she threw herself wholeheartedly into this new and wonderful adventure.

As Ramon approached her across the brown grass, Elizabeth smiled at him and extended her hand towards him. She could see drops of seawater clinging to his oiled brown skin and she knew that it would take several hours to dry him thoroughly.

Elizabeth woke with a start and heard her daughter coming up behind her.

“Mum you’ve let your tea get cold again”. Jane was a good girl and Elizabeth was staying with her while she recovered from a replacement hip operation. Seventy-five years old and they had said that she would have a new lease of life, the new hip good for at least fifteen years. That was a bit optimistic but it she lived to ninety she would not have any complaints.

“Don’t worry darling, I was getting a bit hot and bothered out here in the conservatory and I think a glass of that lovely chilled Cava would be much nicer”.

As Jane went off to the kitchen, Elizabeth closed her eyes briefly to see if she could recapture that wonderful and breath-taking interlude all those years ago. It was gone but she knew that it would come back to her. She was returning to Spain soon, having made an excellent recovery. Back to the villa that she had bought from Susan with some of the proceeds from her divorce.

Of course thirty years on, apartments and hotels surrounded it, but it was still a little oasis with access to the now public beach. It had been lovingly renovated over the years and the garden was absolutely wonderful. Ramon adored growing her flowers and bringing them to her when he came home from the hotel he managed in Marbella. They had never married, but the fifteen years age difference between them had not made the slightest dent in their passion or love for each other.

Elizabeth smiled to herself. Soon she would be lying on her sunbed on the patio watching Ramon come out of the sea and across the sand towards her. Her breath caught in anticipation.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – Curtains by Sally Cronin


Welcome to another story from my collection Flights of Fancy… and this week an elderly woman reflects on her life and the different coloured curtains that have decorated her bedroom.

Curtains by Sally Cronin

The curtains at the small window fluttered in the slight afternoon breeze. The doctor has told me to rest, so here I am, tucked up under the pink eiderdown, a cup of tea cooling on the bedside cabinet.

I am not ill; I have just been overdoing it a bit lately. There has been a great deal of excitement in the family, my great grandson has just got married, and I was not going to miss out on something like that. After all, I had my reputation to uphold, as the fashion doyenne of the family. Much had been made of my emerald green suit with extravagant, black, straw hat. I had heard their comments ‘Trust Sarah to stand out in a crowd’ and ‘Doesn’t she look marvellous for her age’.

No, I was definitely not going to miss the opportunity to show that there was life in the old girl yet. It was a bit depressing really, as although I am nearly ninety, I still feel like a young girl inside. I often sit and remember the old days when I was in my late teens and early twenties. Those pre-war years were so much fun. The first war had been dreadful, taking away so many young men, that those who were left behind felt the need to live life to the full. It was almost as if we knew that the good times could not last. A premonition, that was to be fulfilled far too soon in our young lives.

I must admit that it is rather cosy, lying here under the cover, letting my mind wander. The curtains dancing at the window in their silly way are quite hypnotic. If I close my eyes, they seem to change colour from pale green to a pretty, flowery pattern, very similar to the first pair that hung at the same windows over sixty-five years ago.

‘Sarah, Sarah.’ I could hear my mother’s voice calling to me up the stairs. ‘Hurry up, your cousin will be arriving at the station soon, stop admiring yourself in the mirror and come down here.’

‘I’m coming mother.’ I called down, and with a quick adjustment to my saucy new, feathered hat, and a quick admiring glance in the mirror, I raced down the stairs in a very unladylike fashion.

My mother stood in the hall, her white apron gleaming in the dim light; sleeves rolled up and flour dusting her arms. I smiled; she always managed to get a white patch of flour on the end of her nose whenever she baked.

‘Sarah, how many times have I told you to act like a lady?’ She paused, mystified as to how she had produced someone as clumsy as me. ‘You are too old to be galloping around like a carthorse, try and behave with a little more decorum please.’

From my vastly superior height, I leant down and planted a kiss on her cheek.
‘Sorry mother, I’m going right now, have we got some of your special cake for tea?’

‘Food, food, food, don’t you ever think of anything else, you will end up fat and no one will want you.’

I laughed and opened the front door, and when I reached the little white gate, I turned and waved at my mother, standing in the cottage doorway. She lifted her hand and smiled, she looked so beautiful that I raced back and gave her a hug.

‘Oh Sarah,’ she laughed, ‘get along with you.’

I ran back down the path and crossed the village square to the small railway station. I arrived just as the train was pulling in, and as I reached the platform, the train doors started to open. Not many people were getting off at our village and I excitedly scanned all the faces as they appeared. Suddenly I saw Peter, my cousin, in his smart new uniform and I ran down the platform and was swept into his arms.

‘Peter, it’s so lovely to see you, and you look so handsome.’ He hugged me tightly and breathlessly I looked over his shoulder and up into a pair of twinkling blue eyes.

‘Do I get one of those too?’ A deep voice with a soft Irish brogue said.

I blushed furiously, and disentangled myself from my cousin’s arms.

‘Sarah, I hope that your mother won’t mind, but I have brought a friend of mine from the camp for tea?’ Peter smiled.

‘This is Patrick, Patrick meet my scatter-brained cousin, Sarah.’

For some reason, as soon as Patrick took my hand, I started to tremble. I was never usually at a loss for words, but right now, I couldn’t think of one single thing to say. He just kept smiling, holding my hand and looking down at me from his great height.

I came back to the present with a little start. I realised that I was breathless; the memory of our first meeting had exactly the same effect on me now, as it had then. I felt quite light-headed and as I looked at the curtains, they seemed to change colour again to a deep rich blue.

It was my wedding night and I lay in the big bed, staring at the new dark blue curtains, made by my mother in honour of the new status of my childhood bedroom, as bridal chamber. As I lay waiting for Patrick, I tried to calm my nerves by going back over this wonderful, exciting day. My beautiful dress, the simple service in the small village church and the reception at the hall in the square. Wartime had almost been forgotten, as dashing young men in uniform twirled the pretty village girls around the dance floor.

There was no time for a honeymoon, as Patrick had to re-join his unit tomorrow. My mother and father had gone to stay with an aunt and uncle for the night, and now we were alone together. I sensed movement by the bedroom door and I realised that Patrick was standing there watching me. He had removed his shirt and as I looked at his finely muscled, strong body, I shivered.

‘Are you afraid little Sarah?’ he said softly. I nodded; I could feel the trembling of my knees beneath the covers. ‘I love you Sarah, and I want tonight to be very special for you, something for you to look back on when I leave tomorrow.’

I reached up and touched his bare arm. With my other hand, I drew back the covers and without another word, he slipped off the rest of his clothes and lay down beside me. I felt his arms go around me, he kissed my lips softly and then with more urgency. His passion enveloped me and I felt myself responding with sensations running through my body that I had never known existed. Those feelings took over, blocking out my fear. As his hands caressed me, the girl disappeared leaving a woman deeply in love.

In the morning, I lay with my head on his shoulder. The window was open and the curtains moved gently back and forth across the opening. I sighed happily and felt Patrick stir beside me. We made love again, gently, slowly, only too aware that our time together was running out. I tried desperately to put the thought of his leaving out of my mind, but a cold fear of what the future might hold in store for us began to grow inside me.

The next time we lay together in our bed it was winter, and the curtains were drawn to shut out the cold, grim day outside. Patrick had been wounded and had come home from hospital the week before. He had changed so much in the year he had been away, his blue eyes were pain filled and he had lost a great deal of weight. He would lie upstairs in our bed for hours, recovering in body, but something was terribly wrong. He would smile occasionally, and accept everything that my mother and I did for him quietly and gratefully, but as if we were strangers. At night, we would lie in bed, not touching and if I reached out my hand to him, he would gently draw away and turn over silently to face the wall.

I felt devastated, as if I had been wounded too. I didn’t know what to say or do and I finally turned to my mother for help.

‘Be patient Sarah, give him time,’ she said softly. ‘We don’t know what he has been through, apart from being wounded; he must have seen some dreadful things in the last year. Keep loving him and let him know you care.’

This particular morning, I rose quietly, knowing he would only be dozing. I went downstairs and met mother coming out of the kitchen.

‘There’s an official letter for Patrick,’ she looked at me worriedly. ‘I do hope that they don’t want him back yet, he’s just not ready.’

I walked slowly up the stairs and opened the bedroom door. Patrick turned his head towards me and saw the letter in my hand. He held out his own and I gave him the envelope but I could not bear the suspense, and I left the room and stood with my back to the door on the landing. There was a moment of silence and then I heard great, tearing sobs coming from inside the room. I couldn’t bear the strain any longer and I flung open the door and threw myself on the bed beside him. I put my arms around him and held him tightly. The sounds that he made were terrible, I could feel his hot tears on my skin and I cried with him. I caught my breath as I felt his arms take mine and put them by my side and the next thing I knew, I was crushed against him and this time it was his arms that brought comfort.

‘Sarah, darling Sarah,’ he said haltingly. ‘I don’t have to go back; I don’t have to leave you again.’

We talked a great deal that morning. It was not fear for himself, that had caused him to be so distant, only the feeling that if he didn’t touch me, love me, share things with me, it would be easier for me when he left again. He couldn’t bear the thought of leaving me with a child, knowing as he now did, that there was a distinct possibility that he might never return. As we talked all that fear was swept away and when we hesitantly made love, I felt that he had finally come home.

The blue curtains fade away, to be replaced by a bright, cheerful pair. The bedroom had been redecorated and in the corner stood a crib. I lay in bed listening to the gentle snuffling noises, which filled the room, and I had never felt so happy in my life. I heard Patrick coming up the stairs and open the door. I turned and smiled at him.

‘You’re awake then,’ he said softly. ‘Is she awake too?’

I looked at the crib that held our daughter Elizabeth. ‘Not yet, but as soon as she gets hungry, we will all know about it.’

‘Sarah, I have something to say to you.’ I looked at him and saw the bleakness in his eyes.
‘I have to go back.’ He gripped my hand tightly in his. ‘My regiment is going to be returning to France in the next few weeks and I need to go with them. They say that in the next few months we could end this war and they need every trained man they can find.’

I stared at him, hoping that this was all a bad dream.

He gently placed his finger across my lips before I could speak.

‘I have been so happy this last year, now that I have you and the baby everything is complete and I can’t bear the thought of leaving you, but please try to understand.’

The tears poured down my cheeks and I realised that I was back in the present again. The sights and sounds of the past faded away and the gentle knock on the door reminded me that I was not alone. I rubbed my wet face with a tissue.

‘Come in,’ I called, trying to control my quivering voice. My daughter Elizabeth stood in the doorway.

‘It’s four o’clock mum,’ she said. ‘I thought you might like another cup of tea before I go home.’

She looked at me carefully. ‘You still look very tired mum, are you sure you’re feeling alright, would you like me to call the doctor back again?’

‘No darling, I’m fine, just a little tired, that’s all,’ I smiled reassuringly. ‘It was all the excitement of the wedding on Saturday, it’s not every day that you see your great grandson walk up the aisle, and I must have overdone it a bit.’

Elizabeth sat on the edge of the bed and took my hand in hers.

‘Actually, I was having a lovely dream,’ I looked up into her youthful looking face. ‘It’s hard to believe that it is over sixty years since your father was killed. I so wish that you could have known him.’

It is night now and Elizabeth has gone home with the promise of returning first thing in the morning. My companion, Betty has been in with a lovely cup of cocoa and gone to bed, as tired with the last few days’ activities as I was.

The window is open slightly and the curtains drawn back to reveal a clear, starry sky. I feel so tired, but somehow content, my eyelids drop and then I hear his voice as clearly, as if it was yesterday. His soft gentle tones came from the end of my bed. My eyes open suddenly; I am trembling and excited, my heart pounding in my chest.

He is there, in his uniform, looking so handsome and as strong as ever. He is smiling and his arms are outstretched towards me.

‘Sarah, darling, I’ve come to take you home with me; I have been waiting for such a long time.’

I flew into his arms, feeling them close around me. I felt so young, so alive and so safe.

Together we walked towards the window, and the fluttering floral curtains of my youth.
I took a last, long look at our bedroom and in the bed, I saw an old woman. Her eyes were closed and she was lying very still. On her face was the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.
©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – Priceless Treasures by Jacquie Biggar


Delighted to share a post from the Christmas archives of Jacquie Biggar. In this post Jacquie shares some homemade treasures that hold a special place in her heart.

Priceless Treasures by Jacquie Biggar.

Do you have homemade crafts passed down from generation to generation that you can’t bear to part with?

I’m probably one of the least sentimental people you’re likely to meet, but there are some items from my childhood that I coveted. Special bowls and vases tucked away in glass cabinets so sticky little fingers couldn’t break them.

My mom had an English cottage set; cookie jar, creamer/sugar, egg cups, and tea pot. I used to make up stories of imaginary people living in that village. 🙂

Another cool thing she had was a little hollowed out shell, smaller than a fingernail, with a carved ivory queen head for a stopper. Inside was an amazing menagerie of African animals in ivory; giraffe, lion, zebra, monkey, eight in all.

Along with these beautiful collectibles, my mom and grandma were busy crafters; crocheted doilies and tablecloths, handmade quilts, paper toile pictures, and eggery.

Eggery? you say. Eggery is the fine art of decorating hollowed eggs inside and out. The most famous, of course, being Fabergé, but I think my mom did pretty good work herself.

I guess with all the commercialism of the holidays it’s made me think about the things I’ve found have everlasting value. There is no price on memories.  Happy holidays,

A lovely post from Jacquie and like me I am sure that you have some precious items that you keep because of the love that went into making them.. Please share yours in the comments.

©Jacquie Biggar

About Jacquie Biggar

JACQUIE BIGGAR is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love.

And in her own words

My name is Jacquie Biggar and I’m a total dork.
I am a wife, mother of one, grandmother, and a total sucker for my dog and cat.
I’m also a hopeless romantic. I am the biggest The Voice fan ever, and can be found every Monday night with my nose plastered to the television laughing at Blake and Adam’s shenanigans. I enjoy going to my grandson’s hockey and lacrosse games, hanging at the beach with DH (darling hubby), taking pictures, and reading romance novels.
I have a slight Tim Hortons obsession.

I love gardening. I love the color pink… and did I mention I love my husband?

I thought I would feature one of Jacquie’s Christmas stories today.

About Silver Bells

Will a Christmas wish give a lonely author a family? A heartwarming, passionate story of true love.

Mystery writer, Joel Carpenter, has no time for romance. He has a deadline to meet, and too many skeletons in his closet to trust the slightly spinny artist renting his house.

Christy Taylor has her hands full dealing with an ailing business and a diabetic daughter, she doesn’t need the temptation that is her landlord, Joel Carpenter.

Can a Christmas wish bring two stubborn souls together and give a little girl the gift she wants most? A delightful mixture of women’s fiction, chick-lit, and romantic comedy, Silver Bells has something for every reader.

One of the excellent reviews for the book

SILVER BELLS: A Holiday Romance by Jacquie Biggar is a holiday novella that was sweet and easily read in one sitting curled up on the couch while the weather outside is frightful.
Joel Campbell, award winning mystery writer, has moved from Scotland to Vancover Island. He wants to be closer to his grandmother and hopes the change will get him over his writers’ block. Hating his fame, he has walled off his heart, become gruff and hates anyone interrupting him and yet, he is lonely.

Christy Taylor is an artist who has started her own shop attached to her rented home. Her life cannot be more hectic. She is attempting to grow her clientele, while caring for her small daughter, Jill, who has been diagnosed with Type 1, Juvenile diabetes. Christy is a great mother, but her divorce and her exes attitude toward their daughter has made her distrustful of any help from any man.

These two need to open up their hearts and learn to trust again before it is too late.
This novella is an enjoyable and quick read. I loved the characters in this short read, but being short, I felt some of the character development was lost. Jill was adorable and her disease was handle extremely well. I also feel this novella was not really a Christmas story, just a winter setting. That said, still a good heartfelt novella for a cold winter day.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Silver-Bells-Holiday-Augustus-Mystery-Prequel-ebook/dp/B01N58D23M

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silver-Bells-Holiday-Augustus-Mystery-Prequel-ebook/dp/B01N58D23M/

A selection of of other books by Jacquie Biggar

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG

And at Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG/

Read more reviews and follow Jacquie Biggar on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445812.Jacquie_Biggar

Connect to Jacquie

Website: http://jacqbiggar.com
Facebook: http://Facebook.com/jacqbiggar,
Twitter: http://Twitter.com/jacqbiggar

If you would like to share a Christmas Post from your archives, all the information you need in in this post.. Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Many Hats of a Lady: Ladies of Entrepreneurship by Brenda Scruggs


Delighted to welcome Brenda Scruggs to the Cafe and Bookstore with her book Many Hats of a Lady: Ladies of Entrepreneurship released in October 2017.

About Many Hats of a Lady: Ladies of Entrepreneurship

After the war between the North and South, in a time that seemed impossible to mend division, can Lacey Mills and Daniel Bartlett be able to let their differences dwindle to let love flourish. When an opportunity presents itself for Lacey Mills to follow her dream, she didn’t think twice even though, it would take her to the South. A place she never thought she would go since it claimed the life of her father during the war. Yet, her hands had designed some of the prettiest hats that anyone had seen and her dream was in reach. But, would her dream turn into a nightmare after encountering Curtis Kirkland.

A man destined to sabotage her dream and make her his willingly or not. Instead of, opening her own Millinery and Chocolate Shop would she end up being forced to work for her previous employer. Daniel Bartlett still didn’t favor Northerners and especially a fiery red head wearing colorful hat wear. He knew she would be trouble and wouldn’t entangle himself in her affairs, no matter how attractive she appeared. But, when a certain scoundrel targets the redhead, would he let her suffer at his hands or would he conquer the war that was raging on the inside of him and let the feelings for her turn for the better.

Head over and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Many-Hats-Lady-Ladies-Entrepreneurship/dp/1547107421

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Many-Hats-Lady-Ladies-Entrepreneurship/dp/1547107421

Also by Brenda Scruggs

Two of the reviews for The Chocolatier

Loved This Book on May 31, 2017

I highly recommend reading this book.
I loved how the characters meet and developed a love story with suspense with the stalker and how they believe the lord will get them through anything. Who doesn’t love chocolate.
Continue writing stories like this and I will purchase them anytime.

The story flowed well and was alive with danger and emotion. I liked that Charles and Charlene were struggling with each other until it became apparent that Charles had more feelings for her than he had imagined. The intensity of the stalker and the harrowing actions were well written.

I enjoyed the thriller aspect of the story as much as the romance. It is a complex story that takes you into a deep place and shows that love can happen when you least expect it.

Buy the books from: https://www.amazon.com/Brenda-Scruggs/e/B06Y22VDYT

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brenda-Scruggs/e/B06Y22VDYT

Read the reviews and follow Brenda on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4843615.Brenda_Scruggs

About Brenda Scruggs

Brenda Scruggs is an inspirational author, blogger, along with a daytime job. By day, she works as a merchandiser and by night her fingers tap the keyboard producing contemporary/historical stories that take the reader on travels of conflict and suspense with a flavor of romance. Her characters are strong and determined while facing oppositions that could alter their way of life.

She is married and lives in Tennessee. She takes pleasure in watching television with her husband, eating Mexican food and scribbling her thoughts on paper.

Connect to Brenda.

Website/Blog:  https://www.brendascruggs.wordpress.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Brenda-Scruggs-Author-981454718586806/
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/brendascruggs/
Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/brenda-scruggs-98b63323/

Thanks for popping in today and it would be great if you could spread the news of Brenda’s new release around the usual haunts.. many thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New book on the Shelves – Cloud Dancer by Billy Ray Chitwood


Welcome to another author who is joining the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore and today it is Billy Ray Chitwood, a prolific author whose books cross several genres. Tough to pick one to feature but I decided on Cloud Dancer..more about the other books later.

About Cloud Dancer

In 2017, a freeway accident changes the life of broker, Blake Fielding. While in the hospital a pain relief injection brings dreams of a beautiful woman…which leads to a time-travel episode to the year 1838 and ‘The Trail of Tears’.
Back in 2017 he must deal with the homicide of his ex-live-in girlfriend and a series of odd occurrences.

Two of the reviews for the book

I love Billy Ray Chitwood’s Billy Crane mysteries, but in “Cloud Dancer,” he takes us in an entirely new and different direction. His hero, Blake Fielding, knows he is a lady’s man. He is cocky and arrogant. But he becomes a changed man when a traffic accident almost kills him. For a lost moment in time, he finds himself in another place, another time. Blake is trapped on the Trail of Tears, a tragic era when the roots of Native American families were ripped from the good earth and they were forced to leave their homeland and journey to a place none wanted to be. Hearts break. For them, life will never be the same again. Neither will the life of Blake Fielding. Regardless of what may happen to him, he will never forget the spirit, the determination, the courage of those cast out on a trail of broken promises.

In the accident, Blake should have died, but he didn’t, and he wonders why he was spared. He certainly didn’t deserve it. He has a second chance, and in the midst of a bitter world afflicted by murders he doesn’t understand and mysteries he’s not sure he can solve, he finds love that has always eluded him.

“Cloud Dancer” is not a long book, the story moves along at a fast, intriguing, pace., and you will discover that Billy Ray’s writing has passages that border on literary fiction. His characters are real. They aren’t made of words. They are flesh and bone. They have their flaws, their weaknesses, and their strengths. They fail, but they never stop trying. They play the hand life deals them, and you are with them every step of the way.

“Cloud Dancer” is different, it’s emotional, it touches the heart, it is a joy to read. And just when I think I know what will happen next, I suddenly find I don’t.

And one from Goodreads

Christoph Fischer rated it Five Stars in September 2016

This is another remarkable helping from accomplished writer Billy Ray Chitwood. I’m a big fan of his work and took time out of my busy schedule to read this. I was not disappointed.
Written in beautful prose the story dances away and takes us to the clouds. Our hero suffers a car accident and his head gets stuck in the vlouds of medical sedation. From here it is only a step further to time travel and the world of Native Indian as they face the infamous “Trail of Tears’.Sad, yet full of uplifting moments, this is a great blend of genres that will keep your interest easily.

There is a lot going on in this story, historically, romantically and plot wise. It never fails to engage with its beautiful prose and imaginative storyline. A very accomplished novel about meaning in life and inequality, love and honour. Very enjoyable.

Read the other reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Cloud-Dancer-Billy-Chitwood-ebook/dp/B01KMOC1NM/

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cloud-Dancer-Billy-Chitwood-ebook/dp/B01KMOC1NM

A small selection of the books by Billy Ray Chitwood

Read the reviews and discover and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Billy-Ray-Chitwood/e/B00502520Q

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Billy-Ray-Chitwood/e/B00502520Q

Read more reviews and follow Billy Ray on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4832225.Billy_Ray_Chitwood

About Billy Ray Chitwood

An Appalachian hill boy from east Tennessee, Billy Ray Chitwood has family roots that go back to tenth century England and a hamlet just north of London called Chetwode.

Billy Ray received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, taught high school ‘Advanced Writing’ in Lorain, Ohio. He has served honorably and proudly in the United States Navy. Aside from sales/marketing management positions with top textbook publishers, he has been a model and an actor in film, stage, television. He is still active in his own business as the CEO of Chitwood, Inc.

Billy Ray has written fifteen books, most of which you will find on amazon and amazon UK. Many of his novels of fiction were inspired from actual crimes. His first book, “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections Of An Appalachian Son,” is a fictional memoir which has much factual and historical accuracy about the author’s own life.

Currently, Billy Ray spends his time on the Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee with his lovely wife, Julie Anne, and their feisty but lovable Bengal cat named George.

Connect to Billy Ray

Website: https://brchitwood.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/brchitwood
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/billyrayscorner/

Thank you for dropping in today and it would be great if you could leave a comment and share the post. Thanks Sally