Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine April 2020

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Author Roundtable: Jack the Ripper Interviewed by T.E. Hodden .................................................................................... 7

Peter Wolf: Hypnosis for Personal Development — Val Tobin ..................... 20 Nick Pope — Interviewed by TE Hodden ........................................................... 31 Anna Grace—Interviewed by Hannah Howe .................................................... 44

Laughter is the Best Medicine! by Hannah Howe ............................................ 40

Dangers of Deep Snow by Cherime MacFarlane ..............................................22

Where Do Authors Get Their Ideas ...................................................................... 48

The Magdalenes by Stan Phillips ........................................................................ 17 Clouds by Stan Phillips ......................................................................................... 24

The Snow by Stan Phillips .................................................................................... 35 Mother’s Day by Stan Phillips ............................................................................. 41

Charlie, The Greatest Elven Year Old Violinist by Ava Dooley ..................... 36

Women of Courage: Heroines of SOE by Hannah Howe ............................... 18 Photography Tips and Tricks for Everyone by Melanie P. Smith.................. 25 It’s BACK by Keith Guernsey ............................................................................... 38 April by Poppy Flynn ............................................................................................. 42 Classic Movie — Helen MacInnes by Hannah Howe ..................................... 47

Black Queen—Supplied by ............................................................... 19 Word Search by Mom’s Favorite Reads ............................................................... 46

20% OFF First Book Promotion with the Fussy Librarian .............................. 51 Nicole Lavoie, Graphic Design ............................................................................. 51 Connections eMagazine ......................................................................................... 53

Mom’s Favorite Reads Author — Grant Leishman ........................................... 52

April 23rd

Author’s Roundtable: Jack the Ripper Interviewed by T.E. Hodden Welcome to another of Mom’s round table discussions. Once again, we have reached out to members of Mom’s author community online, to offer their opinions and insights on perhaps the most infamous series of murders in London’s history: the Whitechapel murders of 1888, those of Jack the Ripper. However, this time we are also doing something a little different. Interest in the Whitechapel murders has not waned or faded in over a century, and there have been countless news headlines, best sellers, documentaries, and movies, all offering their own solutions. It is hardly surprising that over the years, for many people, the facts of the case have become entangled with the myths, the legends, some of the fictions, and a few of the hoaxes.

Richard James is an actor, acclaimed playwright, and novelist, probably best known to the Mom’s community for his “Bowman Of The Yard” adventures.

In this discussion we will be paring away some of those myths and legends, to get a brief overview of the case, to look at three suspects the Police were interested in at the time, and one who was discussed at length in the contemporary press. Of course, we can not hope to solve the case, but we will see which of the suspects our authors find plausible, or interesting, and why.

Linda Stratmann, why do you think Jack the Ripper has such an enduring legacy? Linda Stratmann: The JTR mystery endures partly because of the fact that the crimes are unsolved, also there is the savagery of the murders, and then the location, the atmosphere of the gloomy Victorian streets. It all adds up compellingly, and offers the opportunity for amateur sleuths to examine the facts and come up with their own solutions. In recent years the Whitechapel Society has been looking more at the social history of the area, and the day to day lives of the poorer Londoners of the 1880s.

We will be joined for this discussion by two very special guests, who should feel right at home in the gaslight and fog of 1888. Linda Stratmann is an author of many wonderful true crime books, and novels, notably the hauntingly atmospheric Miss Scarletti novels. She is also a member of the Whitechapel society and chair of the Crime Writer’s Association.


Richard James was the Ripper an influence on Bowman's London?

So, to begin. In 1888 an unknown killer stalked the impoverished areas surrounding Whitechapel, the “abyss” of a slum, where most had no permanent abode, and lived hand to mouth, affording each night’s stay at a doss house, one day at a time. Suspicion fell immediately upon a man known as “Leather Apron”, a Jewish immigrant said to have been harassing and threatening women. However, a letter to the press (now thought to be a hoax) caught the public imagination, starting a flood of hoax missives to the press and police, and also giving the murderer the name he would forever be associated with: Jack the Ripper. Authors...How likely do you think it is that Leather Apron was the Ripper? Would you eliminate a suspect if they were unlikely to be the menace known as Leather Apron?

Richard James: He does cast a rather long shadow, doesn't he? I'm afraid I took the coward's way out and set the Bowman series four years later. I thought I could safely get away without mentioning him at such a distance. That meant I could introduce each new investigation without the reader (or indeed, the characters) thinking, 'It must be Jack the Ripper!'

Has his shadow ever fallen on your work as an actor? The image of Jack in swirling fog, with top hat and cloak has become infused in the language of our pop culture as a short hand for villain. Is it something you ever tapped into?

Hannah Howe: From this distance in time, and with the facts so scarce, it is difficult to identify or eliminate anyone. To understand the murders, and the mind of Jack the Ripper, we need to understand the social attitudes of the time. With Leather Apron was racism a factor? Did the idea of ‘an outsider’ committing these barbaric acts serve as a form of comfort to the indigenous population? Throughout history, when under pressure people point the finger at minorities so unless fresh compelling evidence comes to light I would be reluctant to suspect Leather Apron.

Richard James: Not specifically, but certainly in my two man show 'The Mystery Of Sherlock Holmes' which I presented in 2006 (playing Holmes, natch). My favourite part was playing Moriarty who I felt inhabited a similar sort of space as the Ripper; shadowy, ever-present and slippery as hell... and yes, dry ice and lighting was called for.


Hannah Howe: The list of suspects is vast. I have an ancestor who was a butcher in Whitechapel at the time. He disappeared from the historical record the month the murders stopped. Does this make him a suspect? Probably not. It’s tempting to highlight individuals and build a case around them, but I believe we would get closer to the truth if we examined the facts and social history, and see if those paths lead to any individuals.

And, how important was the press coverage in searing the name Jack The Ripper into our culture? Would we still remember the case, if it were not for the letters? Linda Stratmann: Press coverage in 1888 was crucial.The new Star newspaper published lurid and not very accurate articles and spread a sense of terror throughout London, not just Whitechapel. The letters (almost certainly a press publicity effort) only fuelled the terror.

Linda Stratmann: I agree! As soon as people focus on a suspect it is easy to build a case from fragmentary facts.

Hannah Howe: In terms of truth and justice, the press failed society. The newspaper men saw a great story, and profit. The press coverage, generally speaking, only muddied the waters; it didn’t offer clarity.

For some “celebrity” suspects it seems that all that is required is that they were alive, and have no recorded alibi. Linda Stratmann: That is true! It is as well to remember that for Royalty their movements were very carefully monitored and reported upon.

As the autumn of terror waned, the investigations continued. Assistant Chief Constable Melville Macnaghten was assigned to the case between 1889 and 1891. When the Sun newspaper published a series of articles stating that Thomas Cutbush, a violent convict, recently escaped from Lambeth Asylum, was the Ripper, Macnaghten penned a memorandum to his superiors, that is one of the most important documents available on the case. In it, he not only stated which five murders the police considered to be by the Ripper’s hand, but he went on to state that there were more likely suspects than Cutbush, of which he described three.

Which did not prevent Prince Albert Victor becoming a suspect in the seventies, in a conspiracy that included Masons, surgeons, and Walter Sickert. I can see why so many writers, from television, plays, and comics took inspiration from a Royal Ripper, but it is a story that does not withstand any kind of scrutiny.

In a moment, I will be asking the authors consider these suspects in turn, but before we do... Have any of the authors heard of some suspects you think might have made the list?

Linda Stratmann: Agreed. The more colourful the story the less likely there is to be any truth in it! I think the reason JTR was able to get away from the crime scenes was that he lived locally and knew the streets well and had somewhere he could avoid being caught.

Cherime MacFarlane: I have but don't recall the names.


The validity of this suspect hinges entirely upon the undefined term “sexually insane” and the “private information” from the family. We have no way of knowing if this would be utterly damning, or if -as some have suggested- Druitt was simply hiding his homosexuality. So authors, what do you think of Mister Druitt as suspect? Is he plausible?

Our first suspect is MJ Druitt, who Macnaghten described thus: “said to be a doctor & of good family -- who disappeared at the time of the Miller's Court murder, & whose body (which was said to have been upwards of a month in the water) was found in the Thames on 31st December -- or about 7 weeks after that murder. He was sexually insane and from private information I have little doubt but that his own family believed him to have been the murderer.” The case against Druitt was first made public (give or take a few fleeting press mentions) in 1959, when Dan Farson presented the theory on television, working from Macnaghten’s personal documents (obtained from the detective’s daughter, Lady Aberconway). What we now know is that Druitt was a barrister and school master, not a doctor. There was indeed an element of sexual scandal to Druitt’s final days. Shortly before he ended his own life, he had lost his post as a school master for some scandal that has never been clearly defined. Unfortunately the evidence against him is otherwise circumstantial, and there is little or no evidence he was ever in Whitechapel in or around the times of the murder, and there is some disagreement over how plausible it is that he could have travelled there, between his known movements.

Linda Stratmann: I think the only reason he was suspected was because of his suicide and the fact that the recognised JTR murders ceased.

Hannah Howe: I agree with Linda. Druitt‘s involvement is based on coincidence. There is enough evidence to offer explanations for his suicide without involving Jack. I don’t think he was the Ripper.

Our second suspect is Kosminski, described by Macnahten as “a Polish Jew -- & resident in Whitechapel. This man became insane owing to many years indulgence in solitary vices. He had a great hatred of women, specially of the prostitute class, & had strong homicidal tendencies: he was removed to a lunatic asylum about March 1889. There were many circumstances connected with this man which made him a strong 'suspect'.” Aaron Kosminski was indeed a Polish Jew, and from asylum records (discovered in the 1980s by Martin Fido) would today have been diagnosed and treated for schizophrenia. He was admitted to the asylum for brandishing a knife, either at his - 10 -

sister, or the sister of the witness to his admission. However, according to asylum records he was considered harmless, but for one incident where he brandished a chair at a member of staff. When Sir Robert Anderson wrote his memoirs, he also described a Jew who was, as far as Anderson was concerned, the Ripper, but who could not be tried. Another detective on the case, Swanson, annoted his copy of the memoirs with further details (admittedly remembered some decades later) that the suspect was Kosminski, and that he was identified with some difficulty by a witness, then died in an asylum. These details suggest it could not have been Kosminski who was still alive at the time. Therefore, we must ask, was Kosminski the suspect? Or has there been some confusion with another Jewish immigrant, who was violent and homicidal, and may have died in an asylum after being identified by a witness?

There have been a few alternative “Jewish Suspects” put forwards since the late eighties when the records began to be available. Martin Fido who found Kosminski also found a man called Cohen whose internment band death both matched Swanson’s description. Critics suggest that the Unknown Jewish Suspect relies on Jack the Ripper being Leather Apron, which would not be unreasonable, but neither would it be conclusive. Linda Stratmann: Leather Apron had an alibi. The problem about anyone called 'Cohen' at that time is that Polish arrivals tend to adopt that as a name as it was easier to spell. My grandfather did just that.

Linda Stratmann: I think at this distance in time, it would be impossible to disentangle records of people with similar names. I have that trouble in my own family tree where many of my forebears anglicised their names when they came to England.

“Leather Apron” is also confusing because it seems to have been used to mean different people at different times. I know at least one man was brought before a coroners court to state he wasn’t Leather Apron, and was with a policeman watching a coal fire on the Thames at the time of a murder, and half the things I have read suggested that put the issue to bed, while others have wondered if it was a general term applied to more than one odious individual, especially once it was in the press. Is that a fair reading of the situation?

Hannah Howe: Victorian asylums were bleak places, but most kept detailed records. Jack the Ripper’s behaviour was so extreme I’m tempted to think that if he did end up in an asylum the doctors of the time would have noted his behaviour. In some respects Kosminski is almost ‘too good‘ in that he fits the Jack mould. However, I haven’t seen anything compelling that states he was Jack. Linda Stratmann: As none of the later Whitechapel crimes are convincingly JTR murders I think the perpetrator must have either died or been confined to a prison or asylum not long after the MJ Kelly murder. Yes, asylum records are pretty good, and those for 1888 must be in the public domain now.

Linda Stratmann: Individuals may have had different understandings of who that referred to, but I think the most generally accepted one was John Pizer who had an alibi.

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Hannah Howe: Clearly, he was a deeply troubled person, but the facts don’t link him with Jack. You could build a case around him as a suspect, but you’d have a difficult job proving that case. I think it highly unlikely that he was Jack.

Our third suspect is Michael Ostrog. Here is how Macnaghten described him: “a Russian doctor, and a convict, who was subsequently detained in a lunatic asylum as a homicidal maniac. This man's antecedents were of the worst possible type, and his whereabouts at the time of the murders could never be ascertained.” Confirming a lot of these details, especially the suggestion of homicidal violence, has proven difficult, because so little is known of Ostrog’s life before he emigrated from Russia, and because lies and fraud seem to have been his stock and trade. He did however have a considerable criminal record of petty theft and fraud, that would continue until 1904 when he fades completely from the historical record.

Our fourth suspect Thomas Cutbush was identified by the press rather than the police. The theory holds that, Cutbush, alleged to have been suffering from syphilis, sought his revenge against the prostitutes he blamed for his disease. Macnaghten dismisses some of the points of the case made against Cutbush, notably that the knife suspected of having connected Cutbush to the Ripper murders was not purchased until 1891, and that the Sun had attributed to Cutbush a series of six attacks to womens behinds with a knife, where as Cutbush was only charged with stabbing two women, the rest of the series were by another man, Colicott. Cutbush was deemed as psychotic and dangerous, and was sent to Broadmoor.

We should not also that the last discussion of Ostrog I am aware of suggests a pretty strong alibi. Phillip Sugden provided some pretty convincing records suggesting Ostrog was in France, during the Autumn of Terror, where he was detained in prison during the murders. Once again we can only speculate as to why Macnaghten believed him to have been homicidal or violent, as whatever evidence there may have been has been lost.

Research since suggests reasons to be sceptical of Cutbush. His asylum records do not indicate that he was suffering from syphilis, so the alleged motive is in question. Furthermore, although he was clearly violent against women, and in London at the time of the murders, it is noted the two stabbings that sent him to Broadmoor were an entirely different kind of violence to the Ripper’s MO.

Does anybody believe that Ostrog is a likely Ripper?

AP Wolf has since put forward the theory that the reason we have so little evidence of Cutbush’s alleged homicidal past is because of a conspiracy within the police, noting that Cutbush was a relative of a high ranking officer within Scotland yard. Does this conspiracy strike you as convincing? - 12 -

Linda Stratmann: Very few conspiracy theories convince me!

is, how did Jack walk the streets for so long, why didn’t he stand out? A possible answer is he didn’t look ’mad’. Many people in prominent positions today suffer from severe personality disorders, yet some people think they are wonderful. Jack was brutal, but maybe he had a calmness about him as well, which enabled him to escape? His victims were from a narrow band of society. Who interacted with this band of society? If we answered that question would we be nearer the truth? And the key question for me is, why did the murders stop?

Hannah Howe: That fact that he was a press suspect weakens the case against him. Pointing the finger at individuals sold newspapers, but it rarely uncovered the truth. I’m not a conspiracy theorist and the facts as we know them surrounding the police investigation do not point towards a cover up. However, we know from our own time how effective the ruling class are at covering up scandals. I believe high profile people were involved on the fringes of Jack’s activities and that their indiscretions were hushed up to avoid scandal. Remember, for the ruling elite it was a volatile time. Jack may not have been a member of the elite, but by obscuring their activities it might have made the truth harder to find.

Linda Stratmann: Often after a serial killer is identified he is the quiet one who 'keeps himself to himself'. He might not have appeared dangerous. Yes the last question is key. Many of the named suspects were living a normal life after the last murder. This alone means I cannot believe they are guilty. JTR was either dead or confined somewhere or unable to function in some way after the last killing.

Cherime Macfarlane: Heavens, now I recall how difficult this entire case was for the police at the time. So many years have passed it is even worse now.

Rachael Wright: One issue that the US faces, to this day, is that police departments don't talk to each other, and certainly the attitude that 'prostitutes' are unworthy of public sympathy when they are murdered, hasn't changed in the almost 150 since Jack. It's possible that he moved and continued murdering elsewhere.

Linda Stratmann:I tend not to look at specific suspects but the kind of person the killer was. I would say male, relatively young, and lived in and knew the area well. The mistake made by so many theorists is to attribute some sort of motive. The killer would have been what we now think of as a 'serial killer' who suffered from a severe personality disorder and was not acting under a motive such as we would understand it.

Sheena Macleod: Did he move? There is a claim that he moved to Dundee. Name of Bury.

I have a sneaking liking for Kosminski as he was born in the same tiny Polish village where my paternal grandfather was born. I haven't found a family connection yet, but I keep digging!

A quick bit of googling suggests William Henry Bury who was hanged for the murder of his wife. As far as I know he was in London at the time, but do not know of any tangible connections.

Hannah Howe: The majority of people with personality disorders are sensitive, placid people not moved to violence. Of course, there are exceptions. Jack’s actions suggest that he suffered from a severe personality disorder. One question to consider - 13 -

Hannah Howe: Interesting how criminals of all sorts are associated with the legend, or proposed as Jack. I wonder what other crimes Jack did commit. Did he act in Whitechapel during a phase of madness, or did he engage in other crimes?

What are the strangest ideas, legends or rumours you have heard about Jack? Linda Stratmann: The weirdest idea was that he was Merrick the Elephant Man who was confined to a hospital at the time. Utterly ludicrous. I also read a book which suggested that the chalked messages (still not proven to have been made by the killer) were secret messages in anagram form. Just the sort of thing one might pause to dream up while fleeing a murder site! Hannah Howe: It’s easier, and maybe more comforting, for people to regard those who look different or behave in a quirky manner as ‘the monster’. People will go through extraordinary lengths of denial before they acknowledge that the monster looks similar to them.

Hannah Howe: In mysteries of this sort an individual’s solution will probably tell you more about them than the real Jack the Ripper. Linda Stratmann: Hannah Howe, how true! Many theorists have just looked at this one case and never see it in any sort of context or compare it to other crimes. They form their opinions from TV and film dramas not from studying crime.

Hannah Howe: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Speculating on why the murders stopped...Jack was in the grip of a severe personality disorder. I don’t believe he cured himself and decided to live a decent life. His violence was directed outward, not inward, which tends to eliminate suicide. An asylum might have beckoned for reasons unconnected with the murders, but under asylum care would his Ripper personality have remained hidden? Maybe that depended on the quality of the doctors and the care. If he’d moved away the murders would have continued elsewhere. Which leaves us with the Ripper’s death. Was he physically ill, an illness that provided the motive for his killing, and he succumbed to that illness a short time after the last murder? Linda Stratmann: He may well have died of natural causes. I think any suicides in the area would have attracted suspicion.

Is that any less silly than looking for clues hidden paintings, poems, or children’s books through somewhat... creative interpretation?

There are no murders with a similar enough MO in other parts of the country or abroad to suggest he moved away.

Linda Stratmann: Yes, the Sickert accusation suggested that he was a suspect because he painted murders. This was made by someone who wrote crime fiction. (Obviously writing about murder doesn't incline one to commit them but painting them does!) - 14 -

I would suggest that the attention a suicide would draw goes some way to explaining why Druitt is a name we know of.

Linda Stratmann: By the way, I purchased the Mango Books biography of police detective Swanson yesterday, and am dipping into it with great enjoyment. It is well over 700 pages based on 10 years detailed research so if I am to find any answers to questions in it, it might take a while!

I believe there has been a lot of interesting research done to create biographies of the five victims in recent years, which the census records no doubt helped. It is always good to remember that these were people, more than names or a few scant facts, with lives that deserve to be remembered with the same respect we would afford anybody else.

Hannah Howe: Do the census records hold a clue, or are they placed too far away from the murders? I believe that a detailed understanding of the social history is the best way of reaching the truth. Linda Stratmann: I did once look at them, but the censuses were 1881 then 1891 and the shifting population made it almost impossible to gather any real clues.

Hannah Howe: Good point. I was just thinking about that. Rather than looking for Jack maybe we’d learn a lot more if we studied the lives of his victims. Also, I believe many of the leading police officers were retired army men and therefore their detective skills were minimal.

Hannah, that is an interesting question. My concern would be that census records are a snapshot, but we are talking about districts of London where the population was in flux. Large numbers of people were living in doss houses, meaning they had to pay for each night in cash or be moved on. Those who could not afford it might find themselves paying to sleep behind a taut string, or finding short spells of rest in pubs, or doorways. A large and varied immigrant community were entering the country and moving between short term accommodation, while working in sweat shops, on a production line for shoes, or suits. The roots people put down were, in many cases, fragile and easily lost.

Linda Stratmann: There is a book called The Worst Street in London which is the history of Dorset Street. And of course Hallie Rubenhold's new book, The Five, although mostly about the victims' lives before they came to Whitechapel and how they ended up there.

Linda Stratmann: If Kosminski was confined to an asylum under the name David Cohen (the Jewish equivalent of John Doe, or Fred Bloggs) that would make any identification pretty much impossible. Hannah Howe: I don’t think the census would point to an individual, but the record might help in the understanding of the murders. - 15 -

Both our special guests Richard James and Linda Stratmann have written fiction set in the Victorian era. Is it fair to ask if there is something about the enduring appeal of the period, that has leant itself to the continued fascination with the Ripper? If his presence taps into the same gothic zeitgeist as Sherlock Holmes, and Dracula?

As always, I would like to thank all those who took part in the round table discussion, including those whose comments and queries haven’t made the article. If you want to find out more about Linda Stratmann’s books, please investigate her website at . She is also the chair of the Crime Writer’s Association found at , or you may be interests in the Crime Reader’s Association . Her book Death In Bayswater is on Amazon, here:

Richard James: I think that's spot on. If the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist, the greatest trick the Ripper ever pulled was convincing the world he was a gothic construct - a bogeyman to be feared as one fears Nosferatu - rather than a sadistic, twisted murderer.

You can find out all about Richard James, his Bowman of the yard books, blog, podcast, and free short stories at

A general question: if people wanted to read more on the subject, what are accessible books with good background material? Or authors to look out for? Where you may be interested in his blog “Where’s Jack” inspired by this discussion.

Hannah Howe: Authors to consider...Keith Skinner, Philip Sugden, Andrew Cook, David Bullock, Donald Rumbelow, Robert Clack and Philip Hutchinson.

T.E. Hodden trained in engineering and works in a specialized role in the transport industry. He is a life long fan of comic books, science fiction, myths, legends, and history. In the past he has contributed to podcasts, blogs, and anthologies. Discover more on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: - 16 -

The Magdalenes by Stan Phillips The women who suffer and are shut away to slave, unseen by the "upright" public who turn away. The children who are tortured and slain. And who are buried in secret squalor with no name, no joy, no life. The women who are lost in an agony of heartbreak as a result of small moments of desire, of innocent youth, of panic, of rape. Laughing girls. Frightened girls. Our girls. Condemned to a world of pain for being - well just like us- born to be human. And the children of those poor benighted girls are being revealed as we speak, those small fragments of bone that are all that are left of those brief moments of passion. Small bones hid away for decades. An echo on the consciousness of the state which speaks it's weasel words of regret, prior to setting up yet another enquiry. But what, we wonder, what became of the men? Those lovers, fathers, brothers, uncles, clerics, and rapists, who brushed themselves down and walked away into anonymous respectability.

Yes, and what happened to those families who signed their daughters into lives of work and regret with a silent scream etched onto fading memories? And what happened to the priests, the nuns, and the politicians who accepted that status quo as a way of being? Did they all, those responsible adults, just get on with the living of their lives? Doing their jobs? Eating their dinners? Doing their gardens? Raising their children? Yes they did! They surely did! Look around your town. Tell me what you see. And be outraged at the betrayal. And be outraged for the anonymity of the perpetrators. Stan Phillips © 2020

Stan Phillips is an 80 year old poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: - 17 -

Women of Courage Heroines of SOE by Hannah Howe

Sonya Esmée Florence Butt, also known as Sonya d’Artois Sonya Esmée Florence Butt, also known as Sonya d’Artois, was the youngest female SOE agent to serve in France. Born on 14 May 1924, Sonya worked as a courier for the Headmaster network under the code name Blanche. Sonya’s role of courier brought her into contact with German check-points. The SOE preferred female agents as couriers because when travelling around the district on bicycles they were less likely to attract attention compared to males of military or working age. Sonya joined the SOE, aged 19, on 11 December 1943. Her training included soldiering skills and stamina development, plus specialist skills for her life in occupied France. This training regime was new to women at the time. However, the training was familiar to men, including a French-Canadian army officer, Captain Guy D’Artois, whom Sonya met and later married.

After D-Day, the Allies liberated Sonya’s district. However, before then two German soldiers detained her for questioning. Thankfully, her cover story and false papers withstood the interrogation and she was released. In October 1944, Sonya returned to Britain. She married Guy d’Artois and the couple lived in Canada where they raised six children, three boys and three girls.

On 28 May 1944, the SOE parachuted Sonya and Captain Guy D’Artois Sonya Butt Sonya into Le Mans to work as a courier. She arrived nine days before DSonya died on 21 December 2014 at the age of Day. A fellow agent who landed with her was 90. It is a remarkable fact that of the twenty-one shot, so Sonya took on his role of weapons inagents who form the background for my two structor. As a courier, she carried money, delivSOE characters two-thirds of them lived well into ered messages and maintained contact with their eighties and nineties. fellow SOE agents and the French Resistance. Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann's War Mystery Series and the #1 international bestseller Saving Grace. Hannah's books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into ten languages. Discover more on Mom's Favorite Reads website: - 18 -

Chess Supplied by Chess.Com The black queen is short of safe squares so white’s plan is to exploit that.

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Peter Wolf: Hypnosis for Personal Development Interviewed by Val Tobin In this interview, hypnotist Peter Wolf discusses how hypnosis can help people with their personal issues. He also tells readers what they should or shouldn’t do to prepare for a hypnosis session.

Hypnosis for Anxiety and Weight Loss Val Tobin: What do people typically ask you to help them with when they come to you for hypnosis? Peter Wolf: “Mostly, they see me about anxiety, habits, and patterns—usually continuous patterns that somebody is experiencing and doesn’t know why. I may then do a regression to a particular moment in time to find what is at the core. Most of the time, people come to me about weight loss, which has nothing to do with weight. It’s usually how you associate with something, and you need to reassociate differently. Primarily that’s what I find hypnosis is best for.”

“So what should people not do? The first thing is, don’t come with judgment. Don’t come with preconceived notions. If you have never been hypnotized before, you may have a judgment about hypnosis itself and what you think it’s like. That’s the one thing I get the most from people. If we do a session where they’re not off in la-la land, essentially not a deep level of hypnosis, they think they ‘didn’t go anywhere’ and weren’t hypnotized. Well, where were you supposed to go?”

Wolf’s Advice on Preparing for Hypnosis Val Tobin: If someone’s visiting you for hypnosis, what can they do to prepare? Peter Wolf: “I’d say there are things they shouldn’t do. Some people do come for habits, like nail biting, sales, hair pulling, and more typically, habitual circumstances. You don’t deal with habits and we humans never break habits. We have to deal with what’s creating the habits in the first place. You deal with the real stress, anxiety, and thought process before the habit began. Those are the fundamentals to deal with. Those are the things that hypnosis is really best suited for. - 20 -

Val Tobin: Often, that comes from watching movies or TV or stage shows.

Wolf’s expertise with hypnosis has allowed him to help thousands of people over the years and to entertain many more with his stage show. In this part of the interview, he talked more about clinical hypnosis, why people would use it, and what they can expect when they go for a counselling session that involves hypnosis.

Peter Wolf: “Yes, stage shows can actually give it a bad name or a bad image. I do do them, but I stick a little positive juice in there at the same time.”

Remembering What Happened During Hypnosis

Wolf also discussed clinical versus stage hypnosis, the experiences of individuals who volunteer for stage hypnosis, and facts about forensic hypnosis. The results of that discussion can be found in previous issues of Mom’s Favorite Reads.

Val Tobin: I think, though, that people are afraid of losing control, especially with the stage show stuff. They don’t recollect what they did. Peter Wolf: “Oh, they do if you tell them to. I always tell people that they will remember what they did. I always let people remember what they did. Always. All I can say right off the bat is that this is not stage show stuff. Nothing is going to happen to you that you don’t want to happen to you. The main thing is you can’t resist what’s going on. If you resist it, you’ll shut it off. You can’t fight your mind. You have to work with your mind and you have to work with me as well. For some people, it’s best to start off with a programming type of hypnosis to condition them so they get used to it, where you’re not doing something heavy or big. Everybody has to do it at his or her own pace.” Val Tobin: So, what can they expect? Peter Wolf: “The only expectation that they should have is an expectation of themselves. They should expect that what they’re doing is entering a state that they are very accustomed to, that they do all the time. Anytime they daydream, anytime they sleep, they’re entering a state that is very normal. The thing to understand is that we are accessing that state on purpose this time instead of doing it accidentally.”


Wolf, Peter Earthtalkers Image: Courtesy of Peter Wolf

Val Tobin writes speculative fiction and searches the world over for the perfect butter tart. Her home is in Newmarket, Ontario, where she enjoys writing, reading, and talking about writing and reading. Discover more about Val on Mom’s Favorite Reads website:

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The Dangers of Deep Snow by Cherime MacFarlane There’s a ton of snow. They say you can have a heart attack while shoveling. They say it is one of the main causes of heart attacks in winter. I’m here to tell you there is another, moose. When the snow gets deep, they can physically wade through it with long spindly legs which slide through without too much trouble. Their hooves are cloven, split, and the beasts are tall. From hoof to shoulder they can grow from 5 to 6.5 feet. Strong and powerful, they are loners with a nasty disposition. They will take a cleared path before wading through the snow, if at all possible. And they hate, detest wolves with a passion. As far as any moose is concerned, your family pet is a wolf. If it’s with you, too bad, you must be a wolf too.

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The moose in the picture has been hanging around my house. I caught the pictures of it from my kitchen window. I keep the path to the back of the house where the propane bottles for the cook stove are. That means I need to get out the flashlight and survey around the house from the windows to make sure the moose isn’t around when I put the dog out. I don’t need a dead dog. The critters are using my paths as I came home one evening and found moose tracks across my front porch and walk. I put a picture with this article and another showing how close to the house the moose came.

Imagine my surprise when in broad daylight one ran right in front of the door and past the window to the other side of the house. Talk about a clatter. An almost ton of moose can make a noise. Then the dog barked and continued to do so. I’m glad I put the dog out earlier. He can stay in for a while as that moose is busy munching branches on the west side of the place now. I’ll be happy when the snow melts. Dodging moose is as hard on the heart as shoveling snow.

Cherime MacFarlane is an award-wining, bestselling, prolific multi-genre author. She has a broad range of interests that reflect her been there– done that life. Discover more about Cherime on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website:

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Clouds by Stan Phillips

It looked at first, From where I stood, Like a Unicorn, Galloping free with its white mane, Streaming like the foam that is fashioned by the breaking tide, that rises wildly into the day. It's eyes, fierce and determined, were watching the way ahead, and it's hooves struck sparks from the earth, so frantic was it's flight. My galloping, Here one moment, And gone the next, Unicorn.

It was flying, white, across the skies. Shifting and changing with the passing moment. Ephemeral, like a butterfly, or a falling tear, the vision shivers and turns, before my gaze, and becomes a sea god. Poseidon, sitting bethroned with his trident pointing to the sky as he rides his chariot into the fading day. And the heavens are set on fire with the daily dying of the sun. Clouds, clouds. Look at them as they fill the sky. Watch the shapes of them as they come and fade. And listen to hear the wordless story songs they sing to us. Stan Phillips 2020(C)

Stan Phillips is an 80 year old poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: - 24 -

Photography — Tips & Tricks for Everyone by Melanie P. Smith Spring makes me want to shed the gloom of winter and head outside. I suspect with all the global quarantines many of us are feeling stir-crazy at the moment. Here are a few tips to capture this moment in time, it might help entertain the family and it’s a great way to memorialize this moment for future generations.

There are too many factors at play, lighting, shutter speed, your subject, etc. It is true that some cameras are better than others, but we live in a day when technology has given the average photographer amazing tools and, in most cases, the differences are minor. Almost every entry-level DSLR is better than the top of the line SRL from yesteryear. Still, photographers were able to capture amazing, iconic pictures. How? The secret is learning how to use the camera you have. Focus on learning your camera’s strengths and weaknesses, not collecting expensive equipment.

Whether we’re trying to capture that amazing catch, your child’s first steps, or learning to ride a bike — we all love to take pictures. Being stuck indoors is no exception. Take advantage and fill those SD cards. Only you can freeze that special moment and encapsulate the magic from your own unique perspective. Don’t worry, I know aperture, bokeh, focal length, and metering tends to make the average person’s head explode. You just want to take a great picture without all the complicated settings. Which is why, I’m not going to get into those right now. I want to talk about basic tips everyone can use to improve their photos. It doesn’t matter if you are using the camera on your cell phone, a simple pointand-shoot or a more complicated device. These basic principles remain the same. So, let’s talk basics. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you take a better (if not perfect) shot.

Compose your photo and Move your Feet Often times, we grab the camera and settle for the shot we see instead of taking just a second to compose the photo we want. This could mean moving something out of the frame or moving ourselves to a better vantage point. What do I mean by this? Ever looked through your photos and notice you got a picture of great aunt Agnes, but the top of her head was cut off. That’s because you were flying on autopilot and didn’t take the time to compose your shot.

Use the Camera you already have There are countless cameras, lenses, and accessories on the market. You can spend a fortune trying to find ‘the one’ that will give you the perfect shot every time. Here’s my tip… it doesn’t exist. And, you already have it. Confused? No camera will produce the perfect shot every time. - 25 -

Think of the last birthday party you attended. You called in Junior and told him to stand next to the cake while you lit the candles and caught that amazing moment when he made a wish, blew out the candles, and celebrated being one year older. Or did you? How could you make that moment, that picture, better? Before you call Junior in to stand behind the counter, take a few seconds to look around. You have the cake, but did someone just set an empty red plastic cup on the counter? Move it out of the way, clear off the counter, if the background is cluttered, move the cake. Maybe you are at the soccer field and you want to capture your child running toward the goalpost? Look through the lens. What do you see? A garbage can? Other spectators? Try moving slightly to the left or the right and get those objects out of your frame. Crouch to change your height, climb on top of things. You get the idea. Sometimes the tiniest tweaks make a massive difference in how good your photos look. Look closely at these photos. You can see there’s a plastic bottle in the image. Just moving slightly to the side resolves the problem — no plastic bottle. A small thing, but it makes a big difference.

Use the Rule of Thirds This is probably the easiest rule to remember and the most often forgotten. If you want a picture that has that ‘wow’ factor, is eye-catching and balanced — apply the rule of thirds. What does this mean? First, imagine four lines, two lying horizontally across the image, two standing vertically — creating nine squares. Some digital cameras come with the option to add the grid to the screen for you. If your camera has it — use it. It might take a little time to get used to, but you won’t regret it. - 26 -

Now, compose your picture so the subject or focal point falls where four lines intersect. Sounds counterintuitive, I know. We tend to center the image, thinking that will create the best results. But, composing a picture the way I just described, creates tension, energy and interest — Elements that make your picture more interesting. When taking a portrait style picture, position the subject — or other main points, like their eyes or their mouth — so they fall on one of the intersections. Sure, that’ works if you’re snapping a shot of a single item, but what if I want a picture of a landscape, seascape or cityscape. There’s not a single point of interest. You can still apply the rule of thirds in a different way. Split the picture into thirds. In a cityscape, the city should take up two-thirds of the image with the sky filling the remaining third. Or, in a landscape the waterfall covers two-thirds while the water below fills the bottom third. You get the idea. Now, go practice and see if you don’t like your pictures a little better.

Avoid Camera Shake Camera shake or blur plagues any photographer. In fact, I still occasionally snap a photo, get home and realize it’s just a little blurry. Why? Because I didn’t hold my camera correctly or I was in a hurry and didn’t pay attention. This typically happens when capturing wildlife — or my not so wild furry friend that is so full of energy he rarely stands still.

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What’s the solution? Make sure you hold the camera so it’s steady while you take the shot. Obviously, using a tripod is the best solution but we don’t always have one handy. Hold the camera with both hands and make sure you don’t shift or move while you snap the photo. Equally important, don’t be in a hurry. Once you think you have the shot, hold it there for another half second. Depending on the lighting, shutter speed, and various other, more technical conditions, unintentional movement of the camera will make the image come out blurry. And really, who can’t wait just another second to ensure that great shot?

Create a sense of Depth This is especially true when taking landscape photos. Basically, you are trying to make the person viewing the image feel like they are there. How do you accomplish this? Place something in the foreground. This can be a person, a tree, a park bench — anything that can be positioned in the foreground to give the image a sense of scale and emphasize how far away the distance is. Contrast the first picture with the second. Both were taken of the same trees and mountain in the background (different day). In the first, I’ve utilized the rule of thirds with the tops of the tallest trees and the valley taking up two thirds of the screen while the blue sky provides a nice contrast in the upper third. Compare that to the next image. First, I moved closer (move your feet) and then I composed the picture to include trees and rocks in the foreground and changed the angle a bit — adding objects creates depth and the illusion you are there.

Use Simple Backgrounds Have you ever looked at a picture and it’s so busy you’re not sure what you’re supposed to be focusing on? It doesn’t do the image justice — unless, of course, your intention is to capture the chaos. For everything else, embrace a ‘Less is More’ philosophy.

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The direction and softness of the light. If the light is too harsh, you might get shadows on your subject’s face or the angle may be wrong. See if you can move the subject or yourself to get better angles. If you have time, the best solution may be to wait until the sun moves and the lighting is better. In addition, if you are using a handheld device like a phone or point-and-shoot make sure there is enough light. Otherwise your pictures will be bland or dark.

When setting up a photo, decide what you want to shoot and eliminate anything that might cause a distraction. Plain backgrounds are best, because the simple background draws attention to the image rather than the color, odd building. or crowded background. If you strive for neutral, the shot will pop and highlight the moment, not the clutter.

To get amazing landscape photos, take advantage of the ‘golden hour’ whenever possible. When is the ‘golden hour’? Approximately one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. During this time, colors are vibrant, shadows are visible, and the contrast will be amazing.

Lighting Lighting is paramount when taking a great picture. It dictates shape, texture, contrast and shadows. Good light makes the picture pop. Too much bright light will wash out the image. Too dark and the subject will be a silhouette in the foreground. The goal is to balance the light’s intensity between the subject and the background. Pay attention to - 29 -

Finally, back up your photos Always, always back up your photos. They should never be kept on a single hard drive because eventually, your hard drive will break. Many professions keep at least three copies of very photo and they use at least two different types of storage medium. I have my pictures on an external hard drive, then backed up onto DVD’s by category and the most important photos are backed up again on an external cloud storage. Sounds like overkill, I know. But I don’t have to worry about that amazing picture I don’t want to lose. I know I’ll have it somewhere when I need it.

Also, if possible, don’t take all the pictures with one camera. I went on vacation years ago with a close friend who has since passed away. We took turns taking pictures, some with her camera, some with mine. Her bag was lost or stolen on the trip home — with her camera inside. I still wish we had those photos, but fortunately we didn’t lose everything because I still had my camera. We ended up with fewer pictures, but we still captured the moment. Now that’s she’s gone, I cherish those memories more than ever. If she was the only one taking pictures, they would be gone forever.

If you take a lot of pictures with your phone, Dropbox has a feature that backs up the images in real time. When you take a picture, it’s automatically saved to your Dropbox folder. I’m sure most of the cloud services available these days have the same feature. I highly recommend it. Phones and small cameras can get lost or rendered unusable. Backing up your pictures will ensure you don’t lose them if something goes wrong.

I hope these tips and tricks help you take better photos. Remember, the more you experiment, the easier it gets and the more interesting it becomes. Try new things, play with the settings on your camera, test different lighting and different backgrounds. You won’t regret it and you might just discover a new, fun and adventurous hobby.

Long before she delved into the world of fantasy and suspense, Melanie P. Smith served nearly three decades in the Special Operations Division at her local sheriff’s office working with SWAT, Search & Rescue, K9, the Motor Unit, Investigations and the Child Abduction Response Team. She now uses that training and knowledge to create stories that are action-packed, gripping and realistic. When Melanie’s not writing, she can be found riding her Harley, exploring the wilderness or capturing that next great photo. Learn more about Melanie on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: - 30 -

Nick Pope Interviewed by T.E. Hodden There are many thriller writers who have drawn on their experiences, working in the defence sector, for inspiration, but I think it is fair to say that Nick Pope, author of such acclaimed thrillers as Blood Brothers, and Operation Thunder Child, has experiences that are… somewhat unique. Today he is a familiar face, a leading expert on conspiracy theories, he has appeared on all kinds of television shows, in media articles, and at conventions, but in the 1990s he ran the British Government’s project researching UFOs and other strangeness. boots. But I was fortunate enough to be seconded into the Joint Operations Center during the Persian Gulf War (because I had a very high security clearance) and whilst there, I came to the attention of a manager who had an upcoming vacancy – the UFO job!

Hi Nick, is it okay to ask a little about your background? How did you get involved in the MOD? My father was in the MoD at a senior level and we joked that it was the “family firm”, so it was natural for me to follow him into government service there. The irony was that I knew very little about the work, because even with family, my father took his secrecy oath extremely seriously and seldom talked about what he did. I think this probably added to the fascination!

What was an average day on the job like? Was there an average day? I know this is a cliché, but this really was one of those postings where no two days were the same. Because this is an events-led field, I never knew what lay ahead and what the next sighting report might involve – or indeed where my investigations might take me. And then there was the research side of things, which could entail delving into our vast archive of historical reports, looking into an overseas sighting via British Embassy staff, or involve doing some trend analysis, looking for potentially significant patterns in the data. And we never knew what was going to come suddenly and unexpectedly from left field: a question asked in Parliament, meaning we’d have to drop everything and quickly draft an answer and supply background briefing for the Defense Secretary; a media inquiry where we’d have to draft “key messages” and “defensive lines to take” for the press office; or even a letter from a child doing a school project on UFOs, where we’d always try to be helpful and friendly.

And how did you end up involved in the investigation of UFOs? There are thousands of jobs at the MoD and many of them are comparatively unexciting, dealing with subjects that range from Armed Forces pension policy, to the introduction of a new design of Army

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The media referred to you as the “real Fox Mulder” (of the X-Files), was that a fair description?

And after that, I was promoted again, into a security policy job, where counter-terrorism lay at the heart of most of what we did. That involved all sorts of fascinating things, including some short trips to places like Kosovo and Iraq – an interesting experience for a civilian employee such as myself. After that, I took early retirement and now work as a broadcaster and journalist – as well as doing consultancy and spokesperson work on various alien-themed movies, TV shows and video games.

That’s a tough call. I was irritated at first, because I thought that equating a serious government program with a fictional drama trivialized our work. But I soon realized this was a stuffy attitude and that I should lighten up and see the comparison as a bit of fun. Later on, I did some spokesperson work for Fox and met David Duchovny at the UK premiere of the second X-Files movie. Chris Carter told me he was well aware of my work, and indeed it was at about that time that I was helping the British government promote the public release of many of the UFO files that I’d written and worked on. Of course, there are some big differences between the fact and the fiction (particularly with some of the ‘Monster of the Week’ episodes), but yes, we investigated UFOs, and yes, through that we got drawn into other mysteries and ‘weird stuff’ including crop circles, alien abductions, ghost sightings on military bases, and even the question of whether psychic powers were real and could be used in intelligence work. So sometimes, art does indeed imitate life!

Can you tell us a little about your autobiography Open Skies, Closed Minds? It’s a little dated now, to be honest. The book was written 25 years ago and it predates the declassification and release of the MoD’s UFO files (a program I came out of retirement to spearhead), so there were limits to what I could say. I’m not a whistleblower, I abide by my security oath, and I have to submit the manuscripts of my books for security clearance, so Open Skies, Closed Minds gave people a glimpse, but much had to be left unsaid. And of course a lot of water has passed under the bridge since it was published: in the last 2 years alone, we’ve seen huge developments such as the release of 3 videos of US Navy jets chasing UFOs, coupled with the revelations concerning the Pentagon’s AATIP (Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program) research project, which looked into certain aspects of the UFO phenomenon.

So, where did your career take you next? I was promoted from the UFO job into a financial policy job, which was more interesting than it might sound and involved – among other things – negotiating with film and television companies who wanted to use military assets in movies and TV shows. - 32 -

Your science fiction novels Operation Thunder Child and Operation Lightning strike were well received. Were you always a fan of the genre? Yes. I read the H G Wells classics The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine at a very early age and, later on, read novels by sci-fi writers such as Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert and Connie Willis. Additionally, as a child, I watched and enjoyed classic sci-fi films such as The Day the Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet and This Island Earth.

What sort of books and shows were you a fan of, growing up? My parents encouraged me to read from an early age. This included a lot of Greek mythology and Sherlock Holmes stories, as well as classics from authors including Robert Louis Stevenson, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien and many more. When I was older, I discovered George Orwell and also developed a love of biographies, military histories and thrillers. When it comes to TV shows, I always enjoyed the classic sci-fi series like Star Trek and Doctor Who.

Some of our readers might have seen you in the media campaigns for all kinds of movies and shows, from the X Files, and Super 8, to Alien Covenant and Torchwood. Is that a direction you expected your career to take? Absolutely not! But now, I do a lot of consultancy and spokesperson work, often revolving around bringing some realism to the projects in terms of answering questions such as “how would the government really respond to something like that?” and then – in the marketing campaign – discussing the similarities and the differences between fact and fiction. The trick is to have fun and to remember that Hollywood is about entertaining people, so it’s great to be grounded in reality, but you can’t let this become a restraining factor: writers and directors must be able to take creative leaps. When you see phrases like “Based on a true story” and “Inspired by true events”, it doesn’t mean you’re about to watch a documentary! - 33 -

Do you have any favourite memories from this side of your career? Meeting the actors from The X-Files was interesting, and I had a similar experience in Hollywood with Super 8. But I genuinely enjoy every project. What I really like is when I’m involved in a film that’s a modern retelling of a classic, such as The Day the Earth Stood Still. These are great projects because you have big boots to fill. But good writers, directors, actors and other film/TV professionals will always find new and creative ways to bring a classic story up to date and make it relevant to the present day, as we see, for example, with the new Fox TV series War of the Worlds, starring Gabriel Byrne.

Do you think science fiction inspires interest in science, and the inspirations behind the stories?

If this interview has intrigued the readers, where can we find out more about your works?

I’d like to say “yes”, because this would be a good thing, but I think it’s more complex. Some people may gravitate towards the science, while others gravitate towards the fiction! But bringing anyone into science is a good thing, so even if doesn’t always happen, it’s great when it does. For example, I’m aware that a number of women decided to pursue studies and then careers in science, having been inspired by Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of the strong-willed and intelligent Scully in The X-Files.

My website has information about my government work and my books, while my @nickpopemod Twitter account is where I tend to post breaking news.

Are there any other projects we should keep an eye out for? I can’t say much about upcoming projects, because things tend to be kept under very tight wraps until official announcements are made, but I have some very exciting film and TV projects on the horizon, some of which involve me hosting TV documentaries, and others of which are shows (fact and fiction) that I’ve created or co-created. And I’m sure I’ll be writing more books too, though I’m not able to disclose specifics at this stage - sorry to be so cryptic!

So, what can you tell us about Blood Brothers? While I’m best-known for my government work on the UFO phenomenon and for my sci-fi novels, I wanted to write a thriller based around terrorism, Special Forces, and the intelligence agencies, with particular reference to the integrated political, military and intelligence community response to terror attacks. Needless to say, I had to be very, very careful when writing this novel, that I didn’t inadvertently stray into areas that are classified, so I was extremely grateful to the MoD for their meticulous security vetting of the manuscript. I consider Blood Brothers to be my best writing to date, and I genuinely think it gives people a realistic, insider’s perspective into counter-terrorism and intelligence work, while still being a fast-moving, hard-hitting thriller. I’m hoping it will be made into a movie or a TV miniseries at some stage.

Are there any charities or good causes you want to mention? Having worked alongside the military for most of my career, I have huge admiration for the men and women who serve, and for their families, so without wanting to single out any single organization, I’ll give a shout-out to all those charities and other bodies working to support veterans and their families. “All gave some; some gave all”.

Mr Pope, on behalf of the Mom’s community, thank you.

T.E. Hodden trained in engineering and works in a specialized role in the transport industry. He is a life long fan of comic books, science fiction, myths, legends, and history. In the past he has contributed to podcasts, blogs, and anthologies. Discover more on Mom’s Favorite Reads website:

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The Snow by Stan Phillips

The snows done all its falling now. Filled our towns and streets and gardens with pure white glory. Filled our children's and our childish hearts with wonder as we played and slid and laughed in the fantastical playground it created for our frolics. And it was so silent as it tumbled like heaven's gift to the inner child locked away in our grownupness. And oh how we skated and skied and snowballed as we built our snowmen and snowcastles. Suspended, just for a brief and magical moment, twixt the reality of winter fused with the promise of spring. But the snows done with its falling. And the rains coming soon to wash it all away. Slush and slippery ice vanishing with the deluge, and taking with it that ephemeral recapturing of the innocent children we once, so enthusiastically were. Me, and all of you, must pretend to be responsible adults again. But in our hearts we know something else, don't we? And perhaps we can learn to cherish that small person inside of us that never ever went away. Just got hidden a bit. Till the snows came down to set it free. Stan Phillips ©

Stan Phillips is an 80 year old poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: - 35 -

Charlie, The Greatest Eleven-Year-Old Violinist Part One Written by Ava Dooley

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Charlie. Charlie loved music, especially his violin. Every day, after school he would go to the music room and play his violin.

confident to want to take part in the talent show, Charlie”

It was not long before the day of the talent show arrived. Charlie had practiced and practiced a lot over the two weeks since it was first announced. When it came to be Charlie’s turn, he soon started to think it was a bad idea, but he realised that it was too late to change his mind. He took a deep calming breath in, before stepping out onto the stage.

One day, there was an announcement in assembly. There was to be a talent show at school for people to show what talents they have. That’s when Charlie knew he had to audition and to take part in the talent show. The school headteacher, Mrs King asked who would like to take part. Immediately, Charlie quickly raised his hand in the air.

Once he appeared on stage, he began to play his violin. The more he played, the more confident he became. Charlie was on cloud nine, noone could catch him from above. Once he had finished playing, everyone in the audience stood from their seats and started to clap and cheer for Charlie. He felt so happy, so happy that he felt like he could fly.

“Me,” he yelled. Mrs King laughed at Charlie’s excitement at wanting to take part. “I’m very glad that you are excited and - 36 -

Mrs King appeared on the stage, clapping along with the audience as she stood beside him smiling.

were in and counted for, Mrs King came back onto the stage. “The winner of today’s talent show, with the chance to appear in our local newspaper, is—” she says as she opens the piece of paper. “Charlie Smith,” she cries happily as she and the audience begin to clap and cheer for Charlie.

“I’m very proud of you, Charlie” she whispered in his ear, before standing up straight once more. “What a performance that was, don’t ya think, ladies and gentlemen?” She shouted.

Charlie couldn’t believe his ears. He ran onto the stage and hugged Mrs King, thanking her.

The room erupted in cheers for Charlie. He couldn't stop smiling as he saw everyone on their feet cheering for him, he bowed before leaving the stage.

When he was featured in the newspaper, the world found out about Charlie Smith. He was now known as, One Of The Best Violinist In The World

Now it was time for the votes to be counted, so the winner could be announced. Once the votes

Several children have put pen to paper and taken part in the very first Shenanigans’20 Children’s Anthology; Aspiring Dreams. Between the pages of this book you will find the brilliant imaginations of those children, who are aged between ten and fifteen years-old.

All proceeds go to the children’s charity ‫!ܛ܍ܔܑܕ܁ ܛ'ܡܔܔܑۻ‬

From a time traveller to dealing with bullying at school. Some of these kids have never written anything like this before, but for the cause they’ve stepped out of their comfort zones and produced some amazing work. ★.•°★°•.★ ‫ ܏ܖܑܚܑܘܛۯ‬۲‫'ܛܖ܉܏ܑܖ܉ܖ܍ܐ܁ ܛܕ܉܍ܚ‬૛૙ ۱‫★ ܡ܏ܗܔܗܐܜܖۯ ܛ’ܖ܍ܚ܌ܔܑܐ‬.•°★°•.★ • • • • • •

Melissa Queen Ava Doodley Sophie Weir

Ebony Skewis

Mollie Thornhill Kacy Fletcher - 37 -

It’s Back by Keith Guernsey

Giving Care By Sue DeCrescenzo Writer’s in the Wind, Cresswind Creative Writers Group July 2019 blood pressure got so low, he fell. And he fell so hard, he put a hole in the wall with his elbow. With his elbow! Ouch!

My world has gotten much smaller these days. I rarely leave my house. And surprisingly it’s OK because I’m needed at home more than out there.

Sure, there are incidents and accidents. However, believe it or not, there are good moments and you treasure them. These moments, we call cancer humor. For example, one night, he asked me to rub his back. I said no, I’m tired. He said, “but I have cancer” I said “tough”. There was a pause; then we both laughed. I said I love you. He said I love you more and we went to sleep.

My husband has a fickle mistress and her name is cancer. We’re in this fight together and she will not win. He is a courageous warrior. I his guardian or care giver. I’m giving him care around the clock and somehow, I’m supposed to know what to do when he can’t sleep, won’t eat or worse falls or cries out in frustration or pain. It’s a job I never wanted, nor I am qualified to do it, but I’m doing it because I love my husband and together, we are fighting for his life.

And sometimes you cry. There are moments of grief, disappointment, regret and anger. However, you soldier on even though you are worried and scared. We spent nine weeks in a hotel. Up to and including the stem cell transplant was a success. However, he developed a bad infection and was in and out of the hospital in Atlanta four times. He beat the infection but had lingering issues with erratic blood pressure. And it was my job to keep track of which meds to take. And there were pills to stop the nausea, pills to regulate the blood pressure, and thank goodness, pills to stop the cancer.

Ironically, I don’t do well on amusement park rides and being a caregiver is a ride on the roller coaster. It’s a constant up and down, swirling around of emotions, anger and worse fear. Am I doing the right thing? Am I asking the right questions? Am I smart enough to know if it’s time to ask for help – call the doctor, call a neighbor or call 911? His mistress has a name, multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that can be treated with a combination of drugs, chemo and an innovative process called stem cell infusion. Trust me, the treatment for any cancer isn’t a picnic. Since his diagnosis in March 2019, he gets a twice weekly chemo injection, takes an oral cancer drug and various other drugs to keep his bones strong and his stomach from being upset all the time.

Is it selfish to say I want our old life back? Unfortunately, this is our new norm and we take it one day at a time. Our friends and family have been so wonderful and supportive. There are times when you take two steps forward; then you take three steps back. This story isn’t over yet. In md December, he went back to the hospital for a battery of tests.

Did you know that when you are being treated for cancer, it also attacks your weakest link? It makes sense because your immune system is so compromised. So not only is he weak from the chemo, but his gout flares up. On another day his

In early January, we hear the results. We are putting our faith in a higher power so we can say we kicked this cancer into remission. - 38 -

My cancer that is! This time it is a rare form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. My first thought when I looked it up on the internet was one of panic as it showed a life expectancy of only 5.5 years. But then I found a site where it said people had beaten the odds and lived up to 20 years after this diagnosis and felt instantly better. Having already beaten prostate cancer, lifethreatening brain surgery (twice) and obesity, I knew I was equipped to conquer this next challenge.

Those of you that know me best will tell you that once I have beaten this (which I will!), I will pour one in a gallon jug!

Having a great support network was very comforting. It includes my lovely wife Susan, son Keith Anthony, grandson Harry and a network of the finest medical professionals in the world.

What's ahead is unknown and a little daunting but I am determined to beat this just like I have beaten all the other health challenges placed in my path.

After doing a great deal of research, I knew it was important to my recovery to maintain the same healthy lifestyle that I have over the last two decades.

Someone much wiser than I (which actually includes an awful lot of people!) once told me that "God doesn't give you anything you can't handle."

But first I decided I needed a day of indulgence. After spending yesterday being poked and prodded in several doctors’ offices, I was feeling a little rundown and ready for a Saturday in my man cave watching the idiot box and promoting my new book.

I believe that to be true and have doubled my resolve to beat this cruel disease for a second time.

For more, please visit us on the web at;

My definition of indulgence is a day of eating and drinking what I want (within reason of course!) The favorite part was an Outback Cheeseburger but without the usual adult libation. Nobody loves their Saturday afternoon Godfather (yes, sometimes two!) more than I, but the look on Doctor Nervosa's face told me this was probably not a good idea. So I sacrificed (for me a big one!) and had a diet coke.

Thanks for reading, Keith

As a recent cancer survivor, it is my honor to donate 25 cents for every copy of any of our books ordered this month to the American Cancer Society

Keith D. Guernsey is retired and living on Lake Lanier with his lovely wife Susan and his four-footed son Harley (who really is the king of this castle!) witter=@thegurns

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Contributions by Hannah Howe Ladies, when your husband says he will do something for you, he will do it. There’s no need to nag him every six months... In the days of the Wild West when men were men and snakeskin boots were in fashion, a prospector went prospecting with his daughter. After a week, they struck the Motherload. However, while crossing the mountains on their horse and wagon, bandits raided them and stole all their possessions, including $10,000 in cash. “Darn it,” said the prospector, “there goes our $10,000.” “No, Pa,” said his daughter, “I managed to hide the money in my mouth.” “Jeepers!” cried the prospector. “If only your Ma were here we could have saved the horse and wagon as well.”

A policeman on a motorcycle stopped a motorist. “What’s up?” asked the driver. “Your wife fell out of the passenger door a mile back,” the policeman said. “Thank goodness for that,” said the driver. “I thought I’d gone deaf.”

The Invisible Man married the Invisible Woman but, to tell you the truth, their kids were nothing to look at.

I’m not saying I’m getting old, but I’m at the age where my back goes out more often than I do.

An infants school teacher met her pupils on the first day at school. She smiled at one little girl and asked, “What does your daddy do?” And the little girl said, “Whatever Mommy tells him to.” - 40 -

Mother’s Day by Stan Phillips To all the mother's out there. Yes, celebrate your motherhood. Relish the new and extraordinary lives you have brought into this world. Watch those children as they enhance the society in which they dwell. And be proud. But never forget that "mother" is not the entirety of you. It is not ALL you are. For you are still that questing child of the universe. That painter That dancer That poet

That unique creature set on her own course through life and who embellishes the world by being in it. So walk in your garden. Hear your music. Count your waves on the incoming tide. And Yes, you are a mother. But never forget that you are also so much more. You are you. You are woman. But you make miracles. And wondrous things flow from your existence. Stan Phillips 2020©

Stan Phillips is an 80 year old poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: - 41 -

April by Poppy Flynn April is usually associated with Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s believed that this is why the Romans gave the month the Latin name of Aprilis. Although the actual origin of the name is uncertain, the traditional theory is that it derives from the word aperire, which means ‘to open’, and alludes to its association with the season when trees and flowers begin to open. This theory is supported by the comparison with the modern Greek use of the word άνοιξη (pronounced ánixi, also meaning to open) for spring. Of course, since some of the Roman months were named to honour the divinities, and as April was sacred to the goddess Venus, her festival day being held on the first day of the month, it has also been suggested that Aprilis was originally Aphrilis, derived from Aphrodite, the Greek equivalent to Venus. Originally the month of April had only 28 days. The 29th being added in around 450 BC when it became the fourth month of the calendar year with the addition of January and February. The 30th day was added during the Julian calendar reforms by Julius Caesar in 45 BC The birthstone for April is the diamond a symbol of everlasting love, signifying purity, innocence, eternity and courage. In ancient times, diamonds were believed to be tears of the Gods. The birth flowers are the Daisy, which like the diamond is also said to symbolise innocence and the Sweet Pea which signifies love, youth and purity. The zodiac signs for the month of April are Aries up Other observances include: until April 20 and Taurus thereafter. April Fools’ Day (April 1st) Month long observance in April include:

World Autism Awareness Day (April 2nd)

National Pet Month

No Housework Day and World Health Day (April 7th)

Autism Awareness month

Siblings Day (April 10th)

Jazz Appreciation Month

Walk on the Wild Side Day (April 12th)

National Poetry Month

World Art Day (April 15th)

National Volunteer month

Bicycle Day (April 19th)

and National Grilled Cheese month.

Earth Day (April 22nd)

National Park week runs from 18th – 26th April. - 42 -

6th April 1917 - America enters World War I.

St. George’s Day (England) German Beer Day and UN English Language Day (April 23rd) National Pigs in Blankets day (April 24th)

7th April 1948 - The World Health Organization (WHO) established.

Anzac Day (April 25th)

6th April 1917 - America enters World War I.

Hug a Friend Day and Lesbian Visibility Day (April 26th)

7th April 1948 - The World Health Organization (WHO) established.

Pay in forward Day (April 28th)

8th April 1904 - Long Acre Square in Manhattan, New York, is renamed Times Square.

International Dance Day and Denim Day (April 29th)

10th April 1970 – The Beatles break up. 1961 - Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space. 1992 - Euro Disney opened in Marne-La-Vallee, Paris, France.

International Jazz Day (April 30th) Historical April Events: 1st April 1970 - Cigarette Advertising Banned in US.

15th April 1865 - President Lincoln is shot and mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth. 1912 – The Titanic strikes an ice burg and sinks on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

1999 - Eleven countries in the European Union adopted the Euro as a common currency. 2nd April 1982 - Argentina invades Falklands Islands.

18th April 1956 - Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco.

3rd April 1974 - 148 tornadoes hit North America from Georgia to Canada within 16 hours. 3rd April 2010 - Apple Releases the iPad.

23rd April 1984 - Singer Marvin Gaye is shot by his father.

4th April 1906 - Mount Vesuvius erupts. 1949 - The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is established. 1968 - Martin Luther King Jr. is murdered. 5th April 1976 - American billionaire Howard Hughes dies at the age of 70.

24th April 1990 – The Space Shuttle Discovery launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. 26th April 1986 - An explosion and fire at the No. 4 reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine resulted in a nuclear meltdown. 27th April 1994 - Nelson Mandela is voted in as President of South Africa. 30th April 1952 – The Diary of Anne Frank is published. 1789 - George Washington Inaugurated as the First President of the United States. 1945 – Adolf Hitler commits suicide.

1994 - Kurt Cobain lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the rock band Nirvana commits suicide.

Poppy Flynn was born in Buckinghamshire, UK and moved to Wales at eight years old with parents who wanted to live the 'self-sufficiency' lifestyle. Today she still lives in rural Wales and is married with six children. Poppy's love of reading and writing stemmed from her parents' encouragement and the fact that they didn't have a television in the house. "When you're surrounded by fields, cows and sheep, no neighbors, no TV and the closest tiny village is adventures and your horizons are endless." Discover more about Poppy on Mom's Favorite Reads website: - 43 -

Anna Grace Interviewed by Hannah Howe You write an insightful blog and produce excellent YouTube videos on the subject of mental health. What motivated you to start your blog and YouTube channel? - Thank you, when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder I wasn't really sure how to proceed. I have always been a creative person enjoying activities such as art and dancing and therefore writing seemed like a good way to process this new diagnosis. My youtube channel came out of the enjoyment I had gotten writing my blog.

BPD is my most recent diagnosis, and possibly one of the hardest diagnoses to come to terms with. Living with BPD is like being on a constant rollercoaster of emotions accompanied by a range of anxieties, unusual symptoms and a feeling of being disconnected from everyone else, feeling like you can't quite get a handle on life the way that everyone else can. BPD makes everything hard, but one of the most difficult things is relationships, it's difficult to maintain a stable relationship when you are constantly terrified of being abandoned.

You are very open about your mental health issues. I think that is refreshing and brave of you. What are your thoughts on the self-help social media network and its importance to mental health sufferers? - I think as with all social media there are benefits and risks to self help social media. It's great that there is so much support and community for those who struggle with their mental health, however there can also be a risk of triggers especially if someone is in a bad place. Overall though, I have found it very beneficial, it’s a way to feel less alone.

Anorexia nervosa is often a misunderstood illness. Could you please offer our readers an insight into the mind of an anorexia nervosa sufferer? - I have battled with anorexia for 3 and a half years and it is a terrifying illness. For me anorexia was a coping mechanism, the way I dealt with the symptoms of BPD and Bipolar Disorder before I was diagnosed. In order to begin to recover from anorexia I had to go through a long and painful process of separating the illness from myself, the illness had become my identity. The illness convinced me the only way that I was worthy was by losing weight. I find it difficult even now to talk about my anorexia because I am still finding where the illness ends and I begin. It's an all consuming illness.

People are becoming more familiar with Bipolar, but could you please offer our readers an insight into Bipolar, how does it affect you in your day to day life? - Bipolar disorder is something that was fairly new to me when I was diagnosed with it. The only time I had really heard about it was on tv shows. Bipolar disorder has some similarities to depression at times, the well know low mood and lethargy, it also comes with mania, sometimes creative and often uncontrollable energy. It’s hard to some up into words the experience of someone who lives with bipolar disorder. Day to day it can be different, when I am experiencing the depression I often have low motivation, low mood low energy, when I'm manic I feel like I could conquer the world. Even when I am stable I have to constantly watch my mood, I am just waiting for the next episode to come, frantically trying to use the good time well.

How can friends and family best help people who are looking to overcome mental health issues? That’s a difficult question, as each person is individual. I think the most important thing in supporting someone who has a mental illness is by showing them that you are there for them. It's difficult for

The words ‘personality disorder’ can conjure up distressing images. However, the majority of people who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder are gentle, kind, loving people. Could you please offer our readers an insight into BPD? - 44 -

I understand that you are studying psychology at the Open University. Are you enjoying the course? Has the knowledge you have gained helped you personally? Do you have plans to make psychology your career? - I'm loving studying psychology at the Open University, it's a subject that I started studying at GCSE and I fell in love with it. It has definitely helped me understand how and why my brain works the way that it does and it gives me hope that I can help other people who have had similar experiences to me. My plan is to pursue a career in mental health as I hope the combination of my personal experience and my degree will be allow me to help others.

someone who has a mental illness to understand when someone is there for them and for me I need a lot of reminding, often when friends demonstrate that they are there for me it's easier for me to trust. What are the common mistakes well-meaning friends and family make when they are supporting a mental health sufferer? - I think the thing that I struggle with the most is too much sympathy. It's nice that people are trying to be understanding, however I often struggle with feeling like people are treating me as if I am sick. However, just because I struggle with mental illness does not mean that I am weak or that I want to be treated like a victim. I believe that people who struggle with mental illness are incredibly strong and one of the best things that friends and family can do is remind the person of this.

We ask our interviewees if they would like to mention a charity or good cause. Would you like to highlight a charity or good cause? - A charity that I really value is Bipolar UK, I have done some work with them previously and they are an amazing charity that provide information and resources to those who live with Bipolar Disorder. They also have an eCommunity for people who live with or support someone with bipolar in order that people can share and support each other with this isolating disorder. It's a charity that I personally have used to help me long before I started my blog.

Do you have any advice for someone who might be suffering from a mental health issue alone - to whom should they reach out? - Feeling alone, unfortunately is a large part of mental illness, and it's important that those who are struggling are reminded that you are never alone, you may have friends or family who care about you and there are always professionals who can help you. There are so many people either in your life or in various helplines who can help you when you are struggling with your mental health. Remember, it's important to talk to a professional such as your GP if you are struggling, you can also reach out to listening services such as Shout and the Samaritans who are there to listen to your problems.

And finally, what are your favourite reads? My favourite ever book is one call The Glimpse By Claire Merle. It was one I read as a teenager and absolutely loved and nothing has ever beaten it. I love the theories of different utopian futures and understanding people’s perspectives on our current world.

What could we all do, as a society, to help people with their mental health? - I wish this was something that I had the answer to. As a society unfortunate mental health awareness isn't enough. I think one of the most important things that people can do is educate themselves around mental illness, having more understanding in our society makes mental health easier to talk about and also allows us to help people with mental illness.

Blog: Youtube Channel: channel/UCUN3AwHAiB19NQez7V2lfYQ Twitter: @annagracemylif1 Instagram: @annagrace.lifewithbipolar

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann's War Mystery Series and the #1 international bestseller Saving Grace. Hannah's books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into ten languages. Discover more on Mom's Favorite Reads website: - 45 -

Word Search — April By Mom’s Favorite Reads

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Classic Movies — Above Suspicion by Hannah Howe Currently, I’m reading Above Suspicion and Assignment in Brittany, the first two novels written by espionage novelist Helen MacInnes, pictured. These novels about the Second World War were written during the war, so they carried the stamp of authenticity. Furthermore, Helen MacInnes was married to Gilbert Highet who served in MI6 as a British intelligence agent. It is believed that Highet provided espionage details for many of MacInnes’ books and that their experiences formed the basis for Above Suspicion. Directed by Richard Thorpe, Above Suspicion was released as a movie in 1943. Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray took the lead roles in a plot that followed two newlyweds as they spied on the Nazis during their honeymoon in Europe.

Given that the movie was released in 1943, it contained some racy banter between Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray whose innuendos and desire to have sex whenever possible realistically portrayed them as newlyweds.

The production standards for the movie were good. The back projection and background paintings, standard practice in movie making for decades, were largely unobtrusive. On first viewing, I thought Joan Crawford was miscast. However, on second viewing, I agreed with the New York Times who said, “Joan Crawford is a very convincing heroine.”

Above Suspicion marked the end of Joan Crawford’s eighteen year career with MGM before she signed with Warner Bros. Sadly, the movie served as the final role for character actor Conrad Veidt, who died of a heart attack shortly after the final scenes were shot.

The plot lent itself to a noir treatment. However, the producer and director went for a lighter touch, including humour and musical numbers whenever possible. This was justified because a musical score was central to the plot.

If you are a fan of vintage movies, then Above Suspicion is certainly worth ninety minutes of your time.

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann's War Mystery Series and the #1 international bestseller Saving Grace. Hannah's books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into ten languages. Discover more on Mom's Favorite Reads website:

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Where Do Authors Get Their Ideas? Interviewed by T.E. Hodden Cherime MacFarlane: I've lived a long time. Been and done all kinds of thing for a living and sport. I've moved from New Orleans up to Pennsylvania and then out to California. From there I made it all the way through Canada to Alaska with a bit of a stop in Alberta. I love history and have been a reader since I was five years old. Through it all, I watched, listened and learned. A people watcher, I stored up characters in my mind. It's all there and plot bunnies usually hop into my mind when I'm asleep or dropping off. All my stories are character driven. Two settings I know well often serve as backdrops; Alaska and Scotland. They are a lot alike in physical traits with Alaska being on a much grander scale and with a vastly different history. What is the same is the tribal nature of the peoples who made the countries their homes. I've so many ideas I can't type fast enough.

Millie Slavidou: From sitting on my balcony and looking at the beautiful park opposite, and imagining things in the clouds - that cloud is shaped like a dragon. That one is like a column. Imagine if they were in the park, on the ground.

Melanie Smith: Everywhere. The simplest things can spark an idea. I've been traveling down a lonely road on vacation in the middle of nowhere and something in the distance gets my mind wandering, being stuck in traffic with an idle mind is always dangerous, visiting a friend at the hospital... everywhere. My mom commented once that she will never understand the way my mind works. She's probably right -- I had to find some way to justify all those voices in my head.

Rachael Wright: Life experience is a strong influence for me-especially drawing on the strong personalities around me. But I also travel and actively watch people and life around me. Once you begin to question what brought a particular person to this point, this place, the stories almost form themselves. I also have degrees in political science and history and there's so much to be gleaned from that. I don't go actively seeking stories-I try to let them come slowly. I currently have an idea building in my head but it's no where near the first draft story. Best to let it sit and age like good single malt scotch.

The idea for my current WIP came to me one day when I was enjoying a relaxing ride in the back country on my ATV, and we stumbled onto a huge sink-hole. The cases describe in my police procedural tend to come from news stories, life experience, or conversations with my husband (who is a retired cop).

Hannah Howe: Many of my stories come from real life, usually from injustice. In my novels I try to ‘right that wrong’. Observing is another source of stories. And reading for research is probably the greatest source. Whenever I read I make notes. - 48 -

The leap from random note to character to story usually occurs at a quiet moment, often when I’m cleaning my teeth, going to sleep, or waking up.

The idea for Injury grew from an assignment my daughter did when she was in grade eight, which, again, was decades ago. They were assigned to do a biography on a famous person, and my daughter chose Marilyn Monroe. Part of the assignment required the students to create a list of interview questions for the subject of their biography.

Once I’ve created a character they take over. My ideas become secondary to my character’s ideas. You could argue that a character is an extension of an author, but I don’t think so. To be successful, a character should be independent and good stories flow from characters.

One of the questions my daughter came up with was "If you could ask your father anything right now, what would it be?"

At the moment, I’m working on two novels and seventeen novellas (a series of twelve books and a series of five books). Throughout the day while performing ordinary tasks my characters will suggest lines of dialogue and scenes. These lines and scenes take shape when I put pen to paper then they take on a life of their own when they enter the manuscript. Once I’ve created a character the story possibilities are endless. This is the easy part for me. Then I marry my characters to the discipline of writing a set number of words each day.

That one question captivated me. I thought it would be the perfect question to ask Monroe, who never knew her father. My thoughts turned often to what that might be like: you're famous; as a child, you were abandoned by your father; your mother has mental health issues; What are your thoughts surrounding this absentee parent? What would that do to a person's selfimage? To their self-esteem? Monroe seemed to seek out father figures for her relationships. I created a fictional movie star and explored those questions. My actress spent a lot of time since becoming famous wondering if her father sees her, if he regrets abandoning her, and if he wants to contact her. She has low selfesteem and seeks out older men. Her ego is fragile, and she's sensitive and vulnerable.

Val Tobin: My ideas don't arrive fully formed. I have to let them evolve from a random thought into a full-blown story idea. For example, the idea for Storm Lake grew from thinking about the burls on the trees surrounding our family cottage. I noticed them when I was in my teens and they creeped me out. This was around the time Alien and The Thing came out in theatres, and my mind couldn't help picturing alien creatures popping out of these bulges in the trees. I thought there was a story in there, but I didn't do anything about it for decades. Finally, the story had to burst forth the way the monsters in the story do. LOL.

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Poppy Flynn: The story I wrote for the Strong Woman anthology was inspired by a woman I saw on the metro in Rome. Often I get ideas from listening to music. I'll contemplate the lyrics in a song and wonder what the story behind it is & envariably come up with my own scenario. Sylva Fae: I started telling stories to my girls when they were toddlers. We have a little woodland and instead of just going on a walk, we would go on an adventure. Together we named the different places - we have a secret field, Badger Bank, and the throne of the Faerie King and search out dragon's caves or pixie villages. The woodlands and my children’s antics were a constant source of inspiration. Elizabeth Hull: Usually, very vivid dream sequences trigger stories. Then I sit in front of a blank screen and let it flow whichever way it wants. Yes, I can write plots but following one? Nope. It is pantzer all the way. There are exceptions, such as once in a car park in the middle of the mother of all rainstorms when I caught sight of the raindrops forming black ripples in a puddle on wet tarmac. The idea evolved from the image. The twist? All this time, everything she believed about what had happened to her father was a lie. She learns the shocking truth from the media, which turns her life upside down and forces her to re-evaluate everything she's internalized about her self-worth. I love growing a story from the germ of an idea and exploring concepts through characters and plot.

I decided to write these stories down so that my girls would have a record of their childhood adventures. My middle daughter caught on to this and decided to add to them. You see, she has this habit of talking nonstop just before she's about to fall asleep. It's almost like she has a full day's worth of ideas to share before she can rest. Anyway, she would finish by making her demands - "I want a story with rainbows and monsters, and cake and muddy puddles. And can it be ready for breakfast?" Invariably, she would fall asleep mid sentence, but not before giving me a story challenge to fulfil.

Now my children are older and my stories have grown too, from picture books to chapter books. The inspiration has stayed the same though and I'll never get tired of wandering around our little enchanted woodland. Keith Guernsey: My family and friends as I write non-fiction!

T.E. Hodden trained in engineering and works in a specialized role in the transport industry. He is a life long fan of comic books, science fiction, myths, legends, and history. In the past he has contributed to podcasts, blogs, and anthologies. Discover more on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: - 50 -

We are excited to announce that Goylake Publishing has teamed-up with the Fussy Librarian and in partnership we are offering you 20% off your first book promotion with the Fussy Librarian. To qualify for this promotion, your book must be either permafree or listed free during a special offer.

In our experience, the Fussy Librarian is the best book promoter in the business. When we promote with him, our free books always reach the top five of Amazon’s genre charts, most often they reach the top three. We promote with the Fussy Librarian every month and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Prices start from as low as $15, minus our special discount of 20%. Click here: for full details. And, at the checkout, be sure to enter this code: goylake20 to claim your 20% discount. Thank you for your interest. And good luck with your promotion! - 51 -

Mom’s Favorite Reads Author Author Grant Leishman Grant Leishman is an expatriate New Zealander who has made his home in the beautiful islands of The Philippines. After a career in accounting and journalism he has finally found his true calling in life and is now happily “living the dream”, writing fulltime.

LIMITLESS: (With Love, Hope and Tolerance the Possibilities are Limitless) (with multiple other authors) – Literary Fiction, Anthology “A collection of short stories and poetry that is powerful, passionate, and loving.”

Novels Just a Drop in the Ocean – Romance, Adventure “A story of love, hope and second chances. An inspirational story. Highly recommended.” Love Beyond: Walang Hanggang Pagmamahal – Romance, Historical “This story is both sad and uplifting, inspirational and informative, and it’ll be a real treat for all history buffs.” Paranormal Alley (with Chris Leishman) – Horror, Paranormal, Short Stories, Anthology “Wow, what a great, gritty and fascinating collection of short stories, or better called “doors,” one of each leads to its own twisted and absolutely unpredictable reality.”

The Second Coming series

The Photograph – Horror, Paranormal “Brilliantly twisted, dark, suspenseful story that at times can be truly frightening.”

The Second Coming (book 1) – Humor, Semi-fantasy, Adventure, Romance “A fresh, humorous, quirky and thought provoking look at the world and the effort to save us from ourselves.”

Tortured Minds (with Rachel McGrath and Colin Griffiths) – Thriller, Psychological, Paranormal “A fine line between love and hate…perfectly demonstrated in this love triangle with a difference.”

Rise of the Antichrist (book 2) – Humor, Semi-fantasy, Adventure “The writing is very entertaining and humorous in parts, yet serious and reflective in others.”

Holy War (book 3) – Humor, Semi-fantasy, Adventure “The author’s talent and sparkle didn’t dull for a moment… what a fantastic finale!”

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The Connections eMagazine Reader's Choice Award is open to all independently published authors and their work. This is an annual award. The winners will be featured in the August issues of the magazine. Authors can be nominated by anyone who has read the novel. See our website for details.

The 1st Quarter issue of Connections eMagazine is dedicated to the love, romance, new growth and spring. I hope you will take a minute to check them out. Be sure to come back in May for the 2nd Quarter edition.

Romance | Horror, Thriller, Mystery | Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural | Young Adult | Other Fiction | Non-Fiction | Children’s Books

Connections eMagazine is a FREE quarterly publication founded by authors Melanie P. Smith and Rhoda D’Ettore. It is currently produced entirely by Editor, Melanie P. Smith. Over the years, the magazine has evolved and it now features promos, freebies, blog articles, and short stories in every issue.

Discover more about Connections eMagazine on their website here: - 53 -

Editor In Chief—Hannah Howe The Editor-in-Chief is the key figure in every publication. Hannah Howe works closely with the editorial staff to ensure the success of each publication. She is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series and Saving Grace. Get to know more about Hannah, her projects and her work on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here:

Executive Editor | Graphic Designer—Melanie P. Smith The Executive Editor / Graphic Designer is responsible for developing the layout and design of MFR eMagazine. She also works hard to create new covers each month that captures the essence of each publication. In addition to the editorial staff of Mom’s Favorite Reads, Melanie P. Smith also produces Connections eMagazine. She is a multi-genre author of Criminal Suspense, Police Procedural, Paranormal and Romance novels. Get to know more about Melanie, her projects and her work on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here:

Managing Editor—Ronesa Aveela & Denise McCabe Our Managing Editors oversee the physical content of the magazine and coordinates the production schedule. There are two Managing Editors for Mom’s Favorite Reads; Ronesa Aveela and Denise McCabe. Get to know our Managing Editor’s on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: Ronesa Aveela— A freelance artist and author of mystery romance inspired by legends and tales.

Denise McCabe— A children's book author and blogger.

Art Director & Copy Editor / Proofreader — Sylva Fae Sylva Fae—Mum of three, fairy woodland owner, and author of children’s books. Sylva is is responsible for the amazing graphics that appear throughout the publication each month. She works hard to ensure the images capture the spirit and message our author's convey in their articles and stories. In addition, As Copy Editor, Sylva works hard behind the scenes to correct any grammatical, typos and spelling errors throughout the magazine.

Feature Editor—T.E, Hodden As Feature Editor T.E. Hodden works diligently to provide content that is interesting, informative and professional. He is a trained engineer and a life-long fan of comic books, Sci-Fi, myths, legends and history. Get to know more about TE Hodden on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here:

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Marketing Director—Grant Leishman Our Marketing Director, Grant Leishman, oversees marketing campaigns and social media engagement for our magazine. After an exciting career in accounting and journalism, he now focuses on his true calling—writing. Get to know more about Grant on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here:

Content Editors Our Content Editors are responsible for acquiring articles, short stories, etc for the eMagazine. They work hard to make our magazine interesting and professional. Get to know our Content Editor’s on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: Poppy Flynn— Val Tobin — Stan Phillips —

Discover more amazing authors…

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