Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine April 2022

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Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine is published monthly by Goylake Publishing and designed by Melanie P. Smith of All contents Copyright © the individual authors and used with their permission. All rights reserved.

MELANIE P. SMITH (Executive Editor / Graphic Design )

SYLVA FAE (Managing Editor / Art Director)

WENDY H. JONES (Copy Editor)


Editorial Contributors

ALLISON SYMES (Story Editor)


POPPY FLYNN (Content Editor)


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Jennifer Shahade Interviewed by Hannah Howe

Could you please tell our readers something about your background including how you became involved in chess. I learned to play chess when I was five, but didn’t throw myself into it, and become a champion, till I was in high school. I fell in love with the art of the game itself, rather than on winning and losing- the addiction to the process, rather than to the results, was exactly what I needed. As Beth Harmon said in the Queen’s Gambit, chess isn’t just about winning—it can also be beautiful.

Chess reached a new audience recently through the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit. Did the series offer a realistic portrayal of competitive chess? Did you enjoy the series?

think that was low hanging fruit, that a female producer or consultant would have been more likely to notice and address. That said, Anya Taylor Joy’s performance was flawless and, I still consider the show a masterpiece.

I loved the Queen’s Gambit, and I thought the adaptation was fantastic. It showed the glamour of chess, the art of the game, and the community that it forms. Of course, they took some dramatic licenses (for example, no one really talks to each other at events, and the way Beth moved her pieces was not typical) but as an artist and creator myself, I was not at all put off by those decisions.

You are a two-time U.S. women’s chess champion. Can you remember how you felt when you realised that you had a winning position, that the title was yours for the taking? Yes. I felt dizzy with happiness. All my work and focus had paid off! I was excited to release the tension and celebrate.

From the novel to the screen, The Queen’s Gambit was a male production. What aspects of chess and the leading character would have come to the fore if the series had enjoyed a greater female input?

In chess, what is more important to you, finding the ‘perfect’ move, no matter how long it takes, or remaining in control of the clock?

Well, it’s not always the case that female input leads to more feminist story-telling, but in this case, it was striking how few women were at the top of the credit lines. The games featured in the series, dozens of them—were all based on games by male champions and Grandmasters. I

I think for results, remaining in control of the clock is far more important. But, I am also attracted to the game for its aesthetic qualities, and many times, I could not resist sinking deeper into a fascinating position, even at risk of losing control of the position later due to low time. -8-

Is chess a game, an art or a science?

You are also an accomplished poker player. What emotions do you experience when you play poker: excitement, nervousness, or is your mind always calm?

In practice, it’s a mindsport. In its study, it’s a science. And in its compositions and history, it’s an art. The ability of chess to cross disciplines is extraordinary, and that’s why it’s such a great teaching toolit can make a kid who isn’t interested in geography or history interested in it in respect to chess. Or make a kid who doesn’t think they’re good at math, suddenly understand that it could just be a different type of math they need to sink their brains into. It’s the ultimate synthesis tool.

All of the above- depending on what hand I have and how many chips are in the pot. But regardless of how I feel inside, I try to present myself in the same way. You don’t even have to be calm when you play poker (the legendary poker face!) you just have to be consistent.

Are the skills required for chess transferable to poker, and vice-versa?

Grandmasters use chess engines to help them with their preparation. Sometimes this preparation runs to over twenty moves. Is there a danger that the players will become automatons playing the best moves suggested by a chess engine?

Absolutely- becoming a great poker player is easier for a chess player, and vice-a-versa. However, they are very different games, so not all skills will transfer. Poker has more math and probability, and you have to be keenly aware that you may be playing badly, but winning—or playing well, but losing. It also requires great financial management. Chess is more like a language, and you need to become

Yes, that danger does exist. Sometimes people forget to think for themselves. You have to remind yourself that the machines should help you think more like the best version of yourself.


Ability to separate results from outcome. You can play brilliantly and lose, or play terribly and win. That’s much more like life than chess. That’s why poker teaches you to focus on the quality of your decisions.

It’s not all about what you do, it’s about how often you do it. If you never bluff, that’s bad. If you always bluff, that’s bad too. It’s about finding that right percentage. Similarly, if you were to always do the same exact thing, life would be pretty boring

Be aggressive. You only get one chance at lifethere is no dress rehearsal. If you’re not getting told “no” or getting caught red-handed with a bluff, you’re probably not bluffing enough.

Do you have a favorite female chess player, someone who has inspired your career? So many of the women from Chess Queens inspired me, but here are a few stand outs: •

Judit Polgar, the strongest female in history, inspired me with her attacking prowess and gutsy life decisions. Phiona “The Queen of Katwe” Mutesi—grew up in an impoverished area in Uganda, went on to represent her country all over the World, becoming an international icon for resilience when her story was told in a book and later Disney film “The queen of Katwe.” The second Women’s World Champion, Lyudmila Rudenko, who saved a train full of children in the World War II before the “Siege of Leningrad” encroached on their city.

We ask our interviewees if they would like to nominate a favorite charity or good cause. Would you like to nominate a favorite charity or good cause? US Chess Women is my program to support girls, women and gender minorities in chess, so of course that’s one of my faves. is a great organization that is promoting LGTBQ + inclusion in sports, while fighting transphobia and homophobia. We need to progress in this area in chess.

And finally, where can readers find a copy of Chess Queens? It’s out in audio-book, e-book and European hardcover March 3, 2022. Available everywhere June 14, 2022, from to amazon to Barnes and Noble. Here are all the handy links:

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: - 11 -

Wildlife Chapter One, Cream Submitted by Poppy Flynn Written by Hailey Age 8 One day a cat named Cream started running down the hall from some dogs chasing after him. “You should have trained for this!’’ Shouted Cream. “We ran as much as we could to run as nice as possible!’’ shouted Toby.

Cream quickly hid behind the sofa and said, “Hi, I’m Cream, and as you can see the dogs that were chasing me are probably the craziest ones I’ve ever seen. That Black and White one is Toby. Toby is

pretty crazy! One time he crawled in front of me trying to pounce and he said, “The time has come to PLAY! May the force be with ME!’’ Then I quickly said, “Ummm… It’s may the force be with you not may the force be with me… And this is not Star Wars.” And Toby said “Well, for me it’s may the force be with me because you don’t understand how to use the force and I do.” Then, I said, “Do we have to get Star Wars involved with this?’’ Then Toby said, “Yes, to make things more EPIC and ya know I could be part of Star Wars one day.’’

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I moved out of the way and let her eat. Later I was resting in the laundry basket before my human pushed me out of it… I was having a horrible day. I could not eat breakfast, and I could not rest. “Could this day get any worse?’’ I moaned. Then when it was night time I managed to jump out the window and run into the street. I jumped onto a car and saw someone looking at me, “AAAAH!’’ they screamed, they crashed into a park and I jumped off. I was so scared that I ran home where I found Tiggy, my brother. Tiggy said, “Is everything ok?’’ “Yeah,’’ I said. I started crying and said, “Everything is not ok I made someone crash their car.’’ “That is bad! Maybe you could - CATCH THE CRIMINAL!’’ yelled Toby. Rosie, his sister, ran to get me.

“Get your butt out of my face, buttface!’’ I yelled as Tiggy hissed them away. “Thanks,’’ I said to Tiggy.

“How?’’ I asked. “You know how. I could be Toby One.’’

“No problem,’’ said Tiggy. Then Jazmin came right in front of us and she did not look happy. She was the last cat I wanted to see!

“I know what you were going to say now,’’ I said. That was A hard day but today could be a LOT crazier. So this morning I was gonna have my breakfast before a crazy dog ran over me but Toby did not show up. Someone worse came right in front of me. A cat, that had black, white, and gray fur with an angry face and she was coming to me. “Jazmin!’’ I yelled. “You better get your face out of my food bowl or ELSE!’’ Jazmin roared.

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Taking Stock by Father Ian Maher

Deuteronomy 30.15—end; Luke 9.22-25 As we head into Lent, for the third year running we are once again facing unprecedented challenges. In 2020 and 2021 our lives had been interrupted in ways that none of us could have imagined as Covid-19 brought devastation to the world. Now, in 2022 and with the pandemic still far from over there is a dreadful war in Europe, the ramifications of which cannot be overestimated. Now, perhaps more than at any other time in our lives, Lent invites us to take stock of what really matters.

implications of God’s renewal of the covenant. At the end of a long and eventful life that knew much hardship and suffering, Moses exhorts the people to be faithful to the commandments of the Lord, thereby choosing life and blessings over death and curses. The point Moses was stressing was that life would bring distractions that would often seem to be the easier option but which would have disastrous consequences if following them meant turning away from God. Choose life, he urges.

Always a season for reflection upon our life and an opportunity to take our spiritual temperature, this year we must also incorporate into that period of self-examination the impact of the events in Ukraine, and the existential threat posed to us all by the evident instability of President Putin. How, I wonder, has our faith been disturbed, challenged, rocked, or maybe even strengthened through all that has taken place over the past 12 months, and particularly as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

In the gospel reading from Luke, Jesus declares to his followers what will be required of them if they choose to follow him. It will mean taking up their cross daily, and even being willing to lose their life for his sake. What will it profit them, he says, if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves in the process? What both readings point us to is a simple, yet profound truth for life, and it is this: What matters more than anything else is our faithfulness to God because from that, everything else flows. It will not always be easy and sometimes it will be costly, but living as the people God calls us to be enables the love of God to flow in us and through us to others and that, ultimately, is the source of our contentment and happiness.

As always, we can turn to the Bible for encouragement and inspiration to remind us that being faithful to God requires us to make choices in the midst of whatever life throws at us, including the unexpected things that come our way, even a pandemic, even wars and rumours of wars. Deuteronomy recalls the words of Moses to the people of Israel as he conveys the - 14 -

Being faithful to God’s call upon us is also the source of our hope, certain in the knowledge that whatever the future holds, nothing can separate us from God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. And that is what we can be at such a time as this: carriers of hope into a world where there is so much fear and despair.

resolutely through this dark season of sorrow and suffering. Trusting in the mercy and compassion of God to help us travel through this Lent with courage for the present, hope for better days, and making the everyday choices that enable us to grow in faith and love. So as we head into this great season of Lent, may we recommit ourselves to take stock of our lives and our relationship, to take up or cross daily and, in all things, to choose life.

This Lent, we are faced with another challenge that none of us could have anticipated a year ago, and that is to walk our journey of faith

I am a priest and minor canon at Sheffield Cathedral. My last post prior to retirement from stipendiary ministry was as the Multifaith Chaplaincy Coordinator and Anglican Chaplain at Sheffield Hallam University, where I worked for 12 years. Twitter @IanMaher7 - 15 -

How to Develop Psychic Sight by Val Tobin itself means “clear seeing.” According to UK medium Craig Hamilton-Parker in his book Opening to the Other Side, mediums receive information from spirits through visual images, and this is what they refer to as clairvoyance.

I once commented to someone that I would like to be clairvoyant rather than claircognizant. “I used to have clairvoyance envy too,” she replied. Her remark hit home, and I considered that I should probably appreciate what I had, but I continued to want to improve my skills in the area of clairvoyance. What I learned since then is that, even if clairvoyance is not your main channel of psychic communication, with practice, you can improve it to the point where you can get decent results with it.

Debra Lynne Katz provides a formal definition of clairvoyance in her book You Are Psychic. She describes clairvoyance as “a specific psychic ability located in one’s sixth chakra, or third eye, that involves accessing information in the form of images, visions, and pictures” (Katz 308). The third eye is the area on the forehead located between the brows. It is considered to be your psychic centre.

What is Clairvoyance?

Definitions of clairvoyance can vary, but the word

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familiar with the conditions under which dust specks, and not spirits, create orbs.

How to Recognize Clairvoyant Messages

Doreen Virtue, PhD, once taught that you can recognize clairvoyant messages in a variety of ways. In her book, The Angel Therapy Handbook, she says that many people assume that when you see angels or receive clairvoyant visions, it is in the form of solid, three-dimensional figures that are outside of the head (Virtue 65). While it is possible, with practice, to get to the point where the images are outside of the head and three-dimensional, most of the time they are similar to the mental images you see when you meditate, dream, or daydream.

Receiving Clairvoyant Messages

During a reading, I find myself looking down and to the right when I receive images. This isn’t necessarily the case for everyone, but I have found that I receive the images better when I look down and to the right, perhaps because looking towards the floor removes other visual distractions from my line of sight. Many people find it helps to close their eyes when first beginning to develop their clairvoyant abilities.

In my case, I don’t see clear images, but I get what I refer to as impressions. Impressions are visually vague but can be highly detailed. For example, I once received an impression of a crocheted doily while practicing mediumship. I couldn’t see the doily vividly, but I could get a good enough impression of it to describe its shape, colour, size, and pattern.

Some people find it helpful to use tools to aid them in receiving clairvoyant images. Crystal balls or other scrying tools provide something physical through which to view images. The lighting should be low when using anything with a reflective surface, and it takes patience and consistent practice to become proficient with such tools.

Some people consider orbs in photographs to be clairvoyant images of spirits or angels that are invisible to the naked eye but are made visible by the flash or by the capabilities of the camera. There are many reasons why you may see orbs in a photograph, and most of them are physical rather than paranormal. If you think you have captured a spirit in a photo, it would be best to consult a photo expert or a professional paranormal investigator

Meditation and Dreams a Means of Receiving Messages

Meditation is an excellent way to open yourself to receiving clairvoyant information. When you relax and allow your mind to clear, then it is easier to allow the information to flow. You can set an intention at the beginning of your meditation or ask - 18 -

how you receive messages and to recognize the messages when they come in. But the most important thing to remember when working to improve your psychic abilities is to have fun with it. When you try too hard, cliché though it is, the more difficult it becomes. When you relax and have fun, you allow it to flow naturally. Viewing it as play rather than work or a test also gets your ego out of the way. The more you think you have to succeed, or the more you want to impress yourself or someone else, the less success you will have with it. Play, and you will be amazed at your progress.

a specific question to which you would like an answer and see what comes up as you meditate. You can also do the same with dreams, which can be another way of receiving clairvoyant messages. If you set your intention or ask your question before you go to sleep, you can receive information through your dreams in response. It is important to keep a dream journal, pen, and flashlight next to your bed to write down any dreams you have immediately upon awakening so that you don’t forget them and can review them the next day.


Hamilton-Parker, Craig. Opening to the Other Side: How to Become a Psychic or Medium, New York: Sterling Publishing Co., INC., 2005. Katz, Debra Lynne. You are Psychic, Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2007.

With practice, anyone can improve psychic-seeing abilities. There are many excellent books out there with helpful exercises that you can do to practice and improve your clairvoyant vision. Workshops can help as well since they combine theory with practice. However, the best way to improve is to do it, so if you really want to challenge yourself, then acquire a set of Oracle cards and do readings for yourself and your friends and family.

Virtue, Doreen. The Angel Therapy Handbook, California: Hay House, Inc., 2011. Virtue, Doreen. How to Hear Your Angels, California: Hay House, Inc., 2007. Disclaimer: The information presented here is not intended to substitute advice from your physician or healthcare professional. Before beginning any health or diet program, consult your physician.

Giving readings forces you to build awareness of

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 Art Process — Fluffy Cat in Graphite by Alison Rasmussen I think mark making is a great way to build texture with graphite and I really love drawing fluffy things. I also yearn for a kitty cat but for various reasons I don’t have one, so it’s best to make one to fill that kitty cat void. This one looks very sympathetic and very fluffy! Some time ago I drew a very silly cat called Slinky, shaped liked a skittle/bowling pin and very lanky, and I thought, since it’s kind of chilly, maybe she needed more hair. I’m using some new pencils for the first time – Mars Lumograph Black – I like Mars Lumograph a lot, so I decided to test out the Black ones. They are similar to the others, just not as shiny as far as I can tell. My other tools include mechanical pencils, paper tornichons, and different erasers – a putty eraser, blue-tac, and a pencil eraser, which is, I guess, like a stick eraser in pencil form (must get me one on those!)

it very white! I have ordered white paper in the past that wasn’t remotely white and left me feeling rather bitter, so to actually find some that is bright and very white, well, I just feel I should mention it!

I don’t use the mechanical pencils for the mark making – there’s only so much you can do with a mechanical pencil as the lead can’t take the pressure, but they are good for laying out the initial line work, as I don’t need to worry about making errors and having to sharpen the wooden pencils into stubs before I’m even finished!

I started out by working on the basic shape of the cat. I made her neck a little wider to take into account the fluff I‘m planning, and then started with the Black pencils. I added small lines and dashes very lightly, following the natural flow of the fur and the underlying structure of the cat’s body to make it believable. Even if she is a fantasy cat, she still needs to be believable. I drew the tail across her body – even though I plan to have it sit behind, this way the ends will meet, and make sense visually.

The paper I’m using is a lovely bright white – Canson extra white drawing paper 120 g/ m2 – but to be honest just use whatever you like – I just like

I blended my marks with the tornichon where the areas are small on her face and used a piece of cotton wool for the body. Then I kept working on another layer of marks, adding flicks of graphite along the contours to explain the changes in direction of the bones and muscles that sit beneath. I - 20 -

I also blended the sides of the cat to give her a blurred edge which would hopefully suggest a fuzzy fluffy fur effect. Continuing with the tornichon, I blended the marks I’d already made on the tail. I focussed on a line that ran down the centre of the length to suggest density where the bones would be and gave a lighter feel where only hair makes up the shape.

also used this to show the interaction with the cat’s environment i.e., the fur resting on the floor, flattened, or pushed up and out. I changed to a heavier grade pencil, a 4B (then a 6B) so I could build on top of existing marks, and I added white flicks of exposed paper with the sharpened pencil eraser and the moulded to a point putty rubber. Keep the points of the erasers clean so they don’t add any unwanted smudges. Constantly sharpening the pencil eraser is a waste so you can use fine sandpaper to clean it off from time to time.

I started adding darker layers with a 6B to add a bit of depth. I realised at some point she had begun to look a little fluffier than I had intended. I’d lost sight of the skeleton and muscle, so I took steps to lift off some of the graphite with the putty rubber and the pencil eraser. Pushing the pencil with upwards strokes, as if working underneath the fur, creates some important shading as it creates a denser appearance. I did this with the darker 6B but I didn’t go overboard as too much uniformity with the mark making spoils the effect. I finished with an 8B to add definition and find any lost details and sharpen up any important lines. And now Slinky is all set for a cold Spring! I’ve focussed on the fur texture here and so I haven’t mentioned the eyes, but I plan to write about drawing eyes another time.

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Oh! I’ve included some of the other floofs I made. They insisted!

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Alison Rasmussen is a self-taught illustrator who also loves to write. She creates fantasy creatures and whimsical gothic art and is writing a ghost story where lots of her characters go to play. She’s done illustration work for children’s stories and a zombie series, and is now illustrating her own story, just for fun. Alison has a young son and works at home, running her online art shop and creating art to go in it. When she isn’t writing about her imaginary world of ghosts, she works on improving her drawing with traditional media - mainly graphite, soft pastels, and coloured pencil. She gets inspiration from Asian art, anime, fairies, and folklore. - 23 -

Do You Know Loneliness? By Celeste Majcher Do you know loneliness? Have you ever felt it creep into your very being and nestle there, long enough to make you want to die? Have you ever heard the deafening silence with just your own breathing to fill the time? Have you ever been alone for so long that you are too scared to open your front door and peer out in case someone looks in your direction and you have forgotten how to interact with people? Let me tell you about loneliness. open. With an upward glance I could only make out two pale pink slippers. ‘Are you OK, dear? Can you manage the stairs?’ echoed a timid and hoarse little voice.

In Dundee’s city centre is a huge building, a beautiful building, filled with many flats. I can only tell you about the one which I had the privilege to see on the inside. It was a beautiful twobedroom flat with huge windows, wooden floors and a modern kitchen. On the outside, the area spoke of wealth, with modern boutiques, delis and little cafes between all the houses. It was only when I had to ring the bell three times as proof that I was indeed a care worker and not someone with ulterior motives, that I realised not everything in this neighbourhood was as it seemed.

And then I saw her. Lorna was the smallest and most frail human being I have ever laid my eyes upon. A gentle breath would have knocked her over. Her black hair was glued to her head and her pyjamas and dressing gown seemed to be sculpted onto her body. The poor woman was half blind, nearly completely deaf and rheumatism had bent her neck down ninety degrees, which meant that she was unable to lift her chin off her chest. She had to stand to the side, tilt her head slightly and close one eye to see me properly. As soon as I crossed the threshold, the reality of it all hit me. I don’t think she had seen the other

Once I was buzzed in, I ran up the stairs because I was already a bit late, and somewhere on one of the top floors, I heard a door creak - 24 -

side of the front door in years. As she struggled to close and lock the door to her own flat, I realised that her condition prohibited her from climbing the stairs, and that she had no strength to face the world beyond. My job was to help her have a bath, but judging by her poor state, I realised that she had not felt a drop of water on her skin for weeks, maybe even months. Before I could ask her if she wanted a bath, she told me that she didn’t need one and would prefer if I would use the time to sit and talk to her instead. I tried my best to explain that I would be happy to talk to her during the bath but she refused, and I realised that as with everything else, too much time had passed since her last bath and it had now become just a little too scary to attempt.

pharmacy all my life and when I was finally too old to stack the shelves, they suggested that I retired. And so I lost the biggest part of who I was. I had no family left and I had no friends to speak of. The pharmacy was my entire life. I ended up in my flat, day in and day out, all on my own.’ ‘Until one day, when someone rang the doorbell. He sounded so sad on the entry phone that I just had to let him in. He came in and explained that he was homeless, hungry and in desperate need of a bath. So I gave him a meal and some coffee, he had a nice long bath and I felt so much better for finally being able to help someone again. I felt a little more human again. Like I mattered, somehow. I was even a little sad when he left a few hours later.’ ‘That same night, around 3am, he rang the doorbell again, this time to ask if he could move in with me. The way he explained it made so much sense. He would protect me in return for a place to stay and some food.’

After some discussion, we finally settled down with a coffee and I was glad to see her release the anxiety of an unwanted bath by a complete stranger with a sigh. I looked around, trying to give her some time to adjust to my presence, and I was surprised to see the number of books and newspapers stacked along the walls. The tables and chairs were stacked with even more items, some precious, most completely and utterly useless and before long I found myself analysing her hoarding tendencies. ‘Tell me if you see a little cockroach, dear?’ she chimed into my thoughts. Having never really loved the little critters, I lifted my feet ever so slightly off the ground and asked if she had a problem with cockroaches in her flat? ‘Oh no, I don’t, but the landlord does. You see, I have always been alone. I worked at the

‘I was in my late fifties at the time, and he was thirty -five. It was a good arrangement. He stayed in the spare room and ensured that all the lights were turned off and the doors were locked at night, and when things were broken, he would fix them. In return, I would cook for him and do his laundry. There were times when he was a bit violent, but he wasn’t a bad man. It was just a lifetime of sadness that became a bit too heavy from time to time.’ ‘I think he was the only friend I ever had. The only real friend. In my forty years at the pharmacy, I saw hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Most of them were friendly but there were the odd nasty ones as well; no two customers or colleagues were the same. The only constant was the knowledge that they would leave again. Some, as soon as they found what they needed. Others, in pursuit of greener pastures. It taught me not to become too attached to people and it served me well. At least until my retirement.’ ‘When Gerry arrived that night, I knew he wasn’t going to stay for long either. I just knew it. And I was right. After about two years of conversations and camaraderie, he was diagnosed with a very - 25 -

aggressive cancer and he was given a few short months to live. His children and family wanted nothing to do with him, and I was the only person in the world who was willing to look after him. I vowed that I would look after him until the very end, and that is what I did. They supplied him with a hospital bed and turned my kitchen into his bedroom. He spent the last few months of his life here. I was always by his side with food and water, a cold compress for the fever or a warm blanket for the shivers. I looked after him to the absolute best of my abilities, but death still came to take him home.’

‘We had such lovely conversations. Or rather, I had lovely conversations. He was such a good listener. And what an appetite! I must have fallen asleep at some point because when I finally woke up again, I was still sitting in my chair and all the lights were on. My little critter friend had disappeared though, and I was just about to feel the sadness creep in again when I spotted him trotting into the room, this time with two of his friends! We talked some more, and I slept some more. I can’t tell you if it was night or day because time was not a solid construct anymore. I just know that I felt so incredibly happy again.’

‘I didn’t have any money to pay for a funeral, so the council took him away and buried him somewhere. I don’t even know where. And I have been alone ever since.’ ‘Golly, I never even told his children of his death! Although they don’t really deserve to be told. I mean, to disown your own father like that! No, I don’t think they deserve to share in the details of his final few years and months on earth. Not yet anyway. I might tell them later.’ ‘After they finally came to collect his bed and other equipment, I was left with a very empty house. That is when I first spotted them. Two small eyes in the corner of my room. At first I felt a bit scared, but then I thought that perhaps it was Gerry who had come back in the form of this little creature, to tell me that he was OK. So I broke a piece of Gerry’s favourite biscuit and can you believe it? The little insect came closer and ate it up! And then he asked me for more! That’s when I knew Gerry was alive and well and I was lonely no more.’

‘It was only when there were a few thousand of them that I realised I would not have enough food for all of them. My pension wasn’t enough to keep feeding them all, so I had to scale down a bit and make my portions slightly smaller but that did not put them off in the slightest. They kept coming back and they kept spreading the word!’ ‘I’m not stupid. I knew it was becoming an infestation, but it was so nice to have some life in these four walls again, that I tried to extend it just a little longer. But the neighbours phoned the landlord when the scratching on the floor became unbearable. It made sense, as there were so many that it looked as though the floor was moving with all of them. It was only when they started running up and down my curtains that I started to feel a bit scared as well.’

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‘The landlord was very angry with me. He shouted a lot before finally calling pest control. I knew what that meant. Those people would come and kill them! And it wasn’t their fault that I started feeding them. So, when the men finally arrived, I decided not to open the door. I chose not to open it every day that week, and then they finally stopped bothering us.’ ‘At least, that is what I thought.’ ‘A few weeks later they came to get me. The ambulance and social worker. They took me to a retirement home so that they could fix my flat. It took them nearly a year. They had to redo the floors, the walls and the ceilings and they got rid of everything I owned, the furniture, pictures, books, everything. They later told me that they had to renovate the entire building.’

I enjoy the visits of all you lovely ladies, but it is only for an hour a day and that is not really enough.’

‘When I was finally allowed back inside, there was no sign of life left anywhere. Everything was gone. All of my possessions. Everything I had of Gerry. Everything I had of my late mother and sister. I had nothing left. I haven’t been able to get rid of anything since.’ ‘However, the absolute worst part, was that there were no cockroaches left. Not even a single one. I now spend my days staring at the floor, listening to my own breathing. I can’t really see the television and the radio doesn’t have good reception. Don’t get me wrong,

‘So, I have started to leave a few crumbs out every night. Just a few, mind you, as I don’t want to encourage them too much. Just in case they survived and need some more food. Surely you can understand that? Please don’t tell my landlord.’ Loneliness is to open the door to a homeless man when you are the wrong side of fifty and allow him to stay, just to feel human again. Loneliness is to stop washing and dressing, because there is no one to see you. Loneliness is to wait for that bell to ring three times a day to allow someone in for an hour’s conversation. Loneliness is to hope, with every ounce of your being, for a little cockroach to reappear to eat a few of your crumbs. The thing about loneliness is, it is so incredibly lonely.

Celeste Majcher (pronounce Myer) is a proud South African expat who now lives in Scotland with her husband Iain. She is a mum of five, including a set of three-year-old triplets and a boy with additional needs. She is also a pastor’s wife, and actively involved in ministry at her local church. And in her free time, she likes to write. The Forgotten, a collection of short stories based on her experiences as a care worker was published in Afrikaans and English in 2020. She is also in the process of self-publishing an anthology of poems, and hopes to get her memoir of the time when she had five children under 5, published later this year. She also blogs at and she is very active on her social media platforms with the same handle. Her book can be purchased from all major retailers, or for a signed copy, via her website. - 27 -

The Eternal Soul Submitted by Hannah Howe Written by Rhys Age 14 How could I survive? Most certainly, I could not thrive. I entered the dreaded gates, With thousands, I faced Auschwitz and its fates.

I was born in Danzig, beside a plough, We owned a farm where I milked a cow. The world was at peace, But upon that fateful day this would cease. The Nazi invasion had begun, We were unable to run. That was only the start of their terror, It seemed that it would go on forever.

I smelled death from a chimney, The Final Solution would erase me. Children, separated, would cry, They must have known that soon their parents would die.

We lost every right, I had a new card that night. They changed my name to ‘Israel’, And so I embarked upon this dreadful tale.

Now, I am weak and must shower, We all cry, but do not cower. They told us nothing but lies, I mop my brow as the gas burns my eyes.

Off to the ghettos I was sent, To face what, endless torment? So many were already dead, Starved of even a loaf of bread.

Black and white is all I see, My hearing is crowded by those who wish to flee. Dear reader, do not forget me in this silent tomb, For forever at Auschwitz my soul shall loom.

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Glamorgan Sausage Submitted by Hannah Howe Glamorgan sausage (Welsh: Selsig Morgannwg) is a traditional Welsh vegetarian sausage. The main ingredients are cheese (usually Caerphilly), leeks, herbs and breadcrumbs. It is named after the historic county of Glamorgan in Wales. The earliest published mention of Glamorgan sausage dates from 1862 in the book Wild Wales by George Borrow. The dish became popular during the Second World War when meat was rationed.

Ingredients •

150g fresh breadcrumbs for the sausages. White or a combination of white and brown breadcrumbs can be used

A further 100g of breadcrumbs for the coating

75g Caerphilly cheese, grated

3 eggs

1 leek, finely chopped

1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

A pinch of dry mustard

Flour for coating

Vegetable oil or butter for frying

Milk for binding (optional)


For variety you can swap the leeks for onions, try different herbs and spices, and various types of cheese. - 29 -

Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, leek, parsley, mustard and seasoning

Beat 2 eggs and 1 yolk and use this to bind the mixture, adding a little milk if necessary

Divide into 12 portions, form into sausage shapes and roll in the flour

Beat the remaining egg white until frothy. Brush the egg white over the sausages then coat them in the extra breadcrumbs

Chill for 20 minutes

Fry gently in vegetable oil or butter until crisp and golden brown

Serve with fresh parsley, red onion and chilli pepper relish, or tomato chutney

Songs by Stan Phillips

Each fresh morning brings a new melody to fill the senses Bright bird song to dance in the treetops. Soft tunes that whisper soft on the breezes. Sad refrains that echo in your tears. Wistful ballads to whisk us off down memory lane. Songs of laughter Songs of love Songs of loss Songs of hope. Songs of youth

Songs of death And songs of birth. Yes, every dawn is a new symphony of unique music for body and soul. And best of all is the knowledge that, mostly, we get to choose that fresh refrain that will echo round our new day. So select it now. Just what will you sing today?

Stan Phillips is a 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: - 30 -

Aboard the Orient Express by John Greeves The Orient Express is synonymous with sumptuous luxury, mysterious intrigue and exotic travel and has close associations with books and films. Kings, tycoons, refugees, big game hunters, smugglers, prima-donna, courtesans and secret agents have all travelled on it. In her autobiography Agatha Christie wrote: “All my life I had wanted to go on the Orient Express. When I had travelled to France or Spain or Italy, the Orient Express had often been standing at Calais and I had longed to climb up into it” Prior to her first trip on board the Orient Express she had visited South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii with her first husband in 1922. Six years later she boarded the Simplon Orient Express on a solo trip bound for Istanbul (then called Constantinople). She stayed in the Pera Palace Hotel which catered specifically for the Orient Express clientele. From there Christie travelled on to Damascus and

Agatha Christie © The Christie Archive

Pera Palace Istanbul where Agatha Christie stayed - 31 -

then on to Baghdad visiting the archaeological site in Ur where she later met her second husband Max Mallowan. From then on she became a regular visitor on the service and even took her typewriter with her when she travelled with her second husband Max to the archaeological sites in Iraq and Syria. Murder on the Orient Express is undoubtedly one of Agatha Christie’s greatest mystery novels. In the book, the scene is set just after midnight as the Orient Express comes to a halt because snow has blocked the line. The trains is surprisingly full and an American tycoon lies stabbed to death (twelve times) in his locked compartment. Its up to Hercule Poirot to exercise those ‘little grey cells’ before the felon strikes again.

Carriages in at London Victoria

Trains, luxury and Spies The original Orient Express was a French train service connecting Paris with Istanbul. Initially the route ran from Paris via Strasbourg-Munich-ViennaBudapest- Bucharest- Giurgiu in Romania. Here passengers made other train and ferry connections to complete the journey to Istanbul. A direct service was finally completed in 1899 and took three nights from Paris to Istanbul. The first menu on board comprised of: oysters, soup with Italian pasta, turbot with green sauce, chicken ‘à la chasseur’, fillet of beef with ‘château’ potatoes, ‘chaud-froid’ of game animals, lettuce,

Max & Agatha Christie © The Christie Archive

Inspiration for the plot of Murder on the Orient Express is based on an actual incident that occurred on a trip in 1931. Christie was travelling alone and felt the express halting in the middle of the night due to the line flooding. The rain turned to snow and when the train finally departed, it was two days late. A similar incident had occurred in 1929. Murder on the Orient Express first appeared in print as a serialisation in the Sunday Evening Post. It was called Murder on the Calais Coach, a title which lacked the obvious cachet of the book title. - 32 -

chocolate pudding, buffet of desserts. Originally, called Express d’Orient the train was renamed ‘Orient Express’ a few years later. In 1977 all direct services from Paris to Istanbul or Athens were halted and The Orient Express continued now to run as the main overnight train between Paris and Vienna and gradually evolved into the Austrian Railway (ӦBB) EuroNight train until the service ceased in 2009.

Boarding Card — Ship from Folkeston Harbour

The original Orient Express had other competitors, including The Simplon Orient Express and The Arlberg Orient Express which both offered alternative routes. Murder on the Orient Express was actually set on the Simplon Orient Express and not the Orient Express as suggested by the title of the book. The Simplon Orient Express offered the same level of comfort and luxury as its chief rival and ran until 1962 when it was renamed the ‘Direct Orient Express’ which finally ended in 1977. The Arlberg Orient Express (1930-1962) was another alternative for travel and crossed northern Switzerland and Austria running in between the route of the classic Orient Express and the later Simplon route before terminating in Bucharest, or travelling on through Belgrade to Athens.

Among the many luxurious features there was a drawing room for ladies which was furnished with Louis XV chairs and taborets (cylindrical stools without backs), a miniature chaise longue and had walls padded with tapestries and hanging silk drapes covering the windows. The gentlemen weren’t forgotten their smoking room was equipped with heavy leather fauteuils (arm chairs) and footstools and a bookcase containing maps and guides of the countries the train passed through as well as a range of international newspapers and journals. In every way it created the cosiness of a London club. - 33 -

The 1930’s, saw the Orient Express and its fellow sister trains acquire a reputation for comfort and luxury, with their opulent sleeping cars and restaurant cars along with their quality service and cuisine. Comfort in all these services was matched by speed as the coaches were pulled by great steam locomotives like the rapid Class 424. These double chimney twin cylinder expresses departed rapidly in a piercing cloud of steam from Paris to their wide -flung European destinations. These luxury services soon acquired worldwide status by the wealthy travellers, not only did they provide all the luxury associated with the finest hotels but these trains created an atmosphere of intrigue and romance as they conveyed passengers through countries often considered hostile to their own. The Orient Express soon earned the name “Spies’ Express” as it became a magnet for spies from the earliest time. According to the historian Cookridge: “it made their jobs so much easier and their travels much more comfortable.” Famous spies such as Mata Hari, executed in 1917 for her part in spying for the enemy and Lord Robert Baden-Powell travelled on the Orient Express. Robert Baden-Powell, posed as a lepidopterist in the Balkans and made intricate coded sketches of the fortifications he spotted along the Dalmatian Coast, which proved to be a great help to the British and Italian Navy

during the first World War. During the second World War, Hitler was interested in the Wagon-Lit carriage, where in November 1918 German Officers had signed a surrender. In 1940, Hitler ordered the same carriage to be moved to the identical location as in 1918 where he dictated the terms of the French surrender.

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Decline and Rebirth

for supplies and luggage. Being half a mile long, it provides an ideal walk for burning off those extra calories. Of the 12 sleeping cars, ten have nine double compartments while two sleeping cars have four double and nine of single compartments. Each cabin has a washbasin, hot and cold water, towels, bathrobes and slippers. A Grand Suite class accommodation was also introduced 2018 in a special refitted sleeping car divided into three new suites. Each suite includes a double or twin bed layout, a drawing saloon with a sofa (which can be converted into a third bed) and an en suite bathroom. Six Grand suites now exist since 2021 with free flowing champagne throughout the journey and many other exclusive benefits including the preference of dining in a private in-suite dining car during the journey. The main social hub of the train is the bar. Here you can order a signature cocktail or sample from a wide selection of vintage chilled champagnes while a pianist plays in the background.

Several reasons can be ascribed for the demise of these iconic trains. In the 1950’s the relatively new novelty of air travels reduced the number of Orient Express passengers. By the 1970 mass low cost air travel and high-speed trains seemed to have spelt the end of an era until The Venice Simplon Orient Express (VSOE) arrived in the early eighties. It was the brain child of James Sherwood, rail enthusiast and American businessman who wanted to recreate this iconic train once again. In 1977 he bought two Orient Express sleepers built in the 1920s at a Sotheby’s sale in Monte Carlo. Within a few years 35 historic first class carriages were restored in workshops in England and Belgium. They were acquired from all over Europe; some of which had come from private owners, some were museum pieces, some were derelict and some were even in people’s gardens but all were part of the rebirth of this iconic train. All the carriages were decorated in the authentic 1920s liveries of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons Lits et des Grandes Express Européens or the Pullman Car Company Ltd. Belmond has owned and operated the Venice Simplon-Orient Express since its inaugural journey on the 25 May, 1982 from London to Venice via Milan. Today the VSOE continental leg has seventeen carriages composing of 12 sleeping cars, three dining cars, a bar car and two other carriages which provide accommodation for the staff and storage room - 35 -

Fulfilling a Dream Agatha Christie said “All my life I had wanted to go on the Orient Express.” My own epiphany came as a teenager while I was sitting in Montmartre looking across at the Moulin Rouge, after hitch hiking back from the South of France. That day while sitting on the kerb, I promised myself I would travel back to Paris some day in style. What did Wilde say, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Thirty years later, I departed from Victoria Station on board The Venice Simplon Orient Express with my wife aboard a resplendent 1920’s cream and brown Pullman carriage. On the first leg of the journey we enjoyed tea and a Champagne brunch. Each car was restored exactly to its twenties or thirties heyday with delicate polished art-deco wood panelling of rosewood, ash and all with exquisite marquetry. The elegant interiors matched the upholstery when the carriages were new and maintained the authentic experience of a bygone age. Of the three companies’ restaurant cars owned by Belmond, the Étoile du Nord has wonderful floral marquetry, while dining car 4141 built in 1929 has its own history and was decorated by Rene Lalique in the ‘Cote d’Azur’ style.’ The third dining car L’Oriental even featured domestic services in France during the German occupation but still runs regularly today. Our journey was slightly different, as it was a year before the Euro tunnel was completed. We all disembarked at Folkestone Harbour where our luggage, passports were all attended to by a train official, while we entered the VIP lounge of the ship en route for Calais.

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On the continental leg, we boarded the French bound VSOE train for Paris, dining that evening on a five star menu. That long ago promise had been realised. I had experienced the opulence and nostalgia of a bygone Golden Age of travel. At Paris my wife and I alighted to our ordinary way of life, which has, an inherent richness and purpose in itself.

Link: venice-simplon-orient-express/ ** Unless otherwise attributed all images © John Greeves

John Greeves originally hails from Lincolnshire. He believes in the power of poetry and writing to change people’s lives and the need for language to move and connect people to the modern world. Since retiring from Cardiff University, Greeves works as a freelance journalist who's interested in an eclectic range of topics.

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Ladybugs and Bees by Sylva Fae

© Sylva Fae

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Coloring Page By Adrian Czarnecki Though I love dreaming up and putting together my Siberian Husky themed children’s illustrated picture story books, Adventures of Hot Rod Todd, I don’t think of myself as an ‘author’ or as a ‘writer’. ‘Storyteller’ sounds better. My books are dependent upon the illustrations. That’s where illustrator Cameo Anderson http:// comes in. Cameo really can see into my mind’s eye interpreting my often rambling page descriptions into works of art; there’s a saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and with a children’s book that is so important and Cameo nails it every time and then some. So, for your enjoyment, here is a page from the Coloring Book featuring some of the characters and scenes from the books.

Coloring Book FREE PDF download available via website

Adrian S. Czarnecki is a semi-retired writer of Siberian Husky oriented children’s books based on an actual litter of 6 puppies born to his Dam Empress Maya and Sire Damien Czar on March 14th 2019. Born in Huddersfield, England, Adrian has travelled the world extensively pursuing careers in journalism, photography, PR / Marketing as well as print and sales. Adrian now lives in Idaho, USA with his wife Meta and their Siberian Huskies who keep them on their toes. - 40 -

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Genealogy: Meet My Ancestors by Hannah Howe

Zephaniah Thorpe and Mary Discipline

What compelled them to leave? For settlers in earlier centuries religious persecution offered the main motivation, but in Zephaniah and Mary’s case it would seem that a better quality of life was the main factor. Zephaniah had a skill - he was a sculptor specialising in marble. In the 1830s New York was a developing city with a need for artisans. Zephaniah and New York were made for each other, so he took the gamble and transferred his family across the Atlantic Ocean.

I reckon I should award the prize for my most exotically named ancestors to Zephaniah Thorpe and his wife Mary Discipline. The son of Ralph Thorpe and Mary Wakefield, Zephaniah was baptised on 25 April 1790 in Lakenham, Norfolk. He was named after his grandfather, Zephaniah. Mary Discipline was born on 25 January 1789 and baptised on 1 February 1789 in Heacham, Norfolk. Her parents were Thomas Discipline and Mary Smith.

Using a chisel, sculptors would remove large portions of unwanted stone. During this roughing out phase they would work rhythmically ensuring that the stone was removed quickly and evenly. Some artists would carve directly on to the stone while others used a model formed from wax or clay.

Zephaniah Thorpe and Mary Discipline married on 22 August 1813 in St Dunstan, Stepney, which indicates that they had moved from Norfolk to London. However, this was a small step before they embarked on an even greater adventure. Before detailing that adventure it is worth noting that Zephaniah and Mary signed their names on their marriage certificate. For a well-to-do man this was common, but for a woman, even one from the middle classes, it was a rarity. Often, women of the age were not taught how to read or write for fear that it would ‘corrupt’ their minds.

An example of a sculpture created during Zephaniah’s era can be found in Green-Wood Cemetery. There is no evidence that Zephaniah worked on this sculpture, but he definitely saw it and maybe it offered him some inspiration. The sculpture is called Charlotte Canda (3 February 1828 – 3 February 1845). It’s a memorial to a young debutant, Charlotte, who died in a horse carriage accident on her way home from her seventeenth birthday party.

In 1829, Zephaniah and Mary found themselves in New York. You would think that emigration was a ‘young man’s game’, but Zephaniah was 39 and Mary 40 when they embarked on their journey.

On 11 April 1838 at the Common Pleas Court in New York, Zephaniah and Mary applied for naturalisation. The application, sponsored by James .

Stereoscopic view of Charlotte’s memorial by E & H T Anthony

Application for naturalisation

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accident, other times through design - particularly when people wish to hide something. Often, you need to read between the lines. There is no record of Thomas’ wife, so I’m inclined to believe that she died young and that Josephine was Thomas’ daughter. Certainly, she lived with him throughout her childhood.

New York, c1865, a scene familiar to Zephaniah. Maybe he worked on these buildings?

Zephaniah died in Kings, New York on 9 September 1868 aged 80. He was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. A Brooklyn directory of 1877 listed Mary as the widow of Zephaniah. It also listed Thomas as a sculptor, living at the same address. Josephine was not listed so it’s fair to assume that she had married and started her own family.

Bryson, was granted and Zephaniah settled his family in Brooklyn In 1855 Zephaniah was living at Number 59 Ward 7, New York with his wife, Mary, their son, Thomas aged 39, a lodger Bartu Durando a jeweller from New Jersey also aged 39, and granddaughter Josephine A Thorp aged 10.

Mary died on 3 September 1876 of pneumonia at 287 Jay Street, Kings, New York. She was buried with Zephaniah in Green-Wood. By this time she had lived amongst the tall buildings of New York for 47 years, a far cry from her birthplace in the flat Norfolk Broads.

The street contained families from Canada, Germany, Ireland and Prussia plying their trades as bookkeepers, carpenters, clerks and grocers. A cosmopolitan area. Zephaniah’s son Thomas was also a sculptor. What did father and son sculpt? Probably the great marble columns and artefacts in New York’s burgeoning churches and civic buildings. Certainly, there was plenty of work available because by this time they had been plying their trade for 26 years. Ten years later, Zephaniah, Mary, Thomas and Josephine were living in Brooklyn, in a house valued at $800. In this census Josephine was described as a niece from Alabama. Ten years earlier the census had described her as a grandchild. Official records are not always accurate, sometimes through

Green-Wood Cemetery. Credit: Find a Grave

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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Around America in 50 Books by Wendy H. Jones


Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris This month, our tour of the USA tales us to Arkansas and a book by a long-time favourite author – Charlaine Harris. Arkansas is one of those states that few people visit, and no one is sure what is there. It is surrounded by Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri and Mississippi, so well and truly landlocked. Yet, it has beautiful countryside and a myriad of lakes and rivers as well as the only Diamond mines in the USA. So, what of our book and does it give us a flavour of Arkansas? wrong place at the wrong time, and despite her best efforts, she's dragged into the murder case.

Book Description Welcome to Shakespeare, Arkansas. Lily Bard came to the small town of Shakespeare to escape her dark and violent past. So, when she spots a dead body being dumped in the town green, she's inclined to stay well away. But she was in the

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Lily doesn't care who did it, but when the police and local community start pointing fingers in her direction, she realises that if she doesn't unmask the killer, her new life will not simply crumble. It will end.

Review This is the first of the Lily Bard Mysteries and I loved it from the first page. In a world where characters can often be cardboard cut-outs, Lily Bard stands out from the crowd. She is tortured by her own demons and yet is working hard to overcome them. In this, the first book in the series, she comes across as a little cold at the beginning but grows as a person, and in the readers and estimation, as the book progresses. Harris is an experienced writer, and this shows in every carefully crafted word. The mystery is strong, the plot progresses well and the story rattles along at a rapid pace. All characters are expertly drawn with distinct personalities. Did it give me a flavour of Arkansas? In some ways not really, as I didn’t get a flavour of the state itself, but I did get a real sense of small-town Arkansas and what it could be like to live there. I really feel I want to visit which I think is the sign that the book more than met my expectations in terms of a feeling of local. I would add it met my expectations in all other ways as well.

Wendy H. Jones is the award winning, international best-selling author of the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Cass Claymore Investigates Mysteries, Fergus and Flora Mysteries, Bertie the Buffalo children’s books and the Writing Matters books for writers. She is also a writing and marketing coach and the President of the Scottish Association of Writers. As copy editor for Mom’s, she works hard to ensure content is appropriate and free of grammatical and spelling errors. You can learn more about Wendy on her website:

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Mom’s Favorite Reads Author Maggie Cobbett Had We But World Enough Life in a new country sounds enticing, but will the hopeful characters in these short stories end up with more or much, much less than they bargained for? Born in Leeds, but now living on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales in the little cathedral city of Ripon, I write short stories, articles, reviews and even the odd poem. Competition successes include twice winning a free place at the annual Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick and – much to my surprise and delight – a Weekend Rover pass to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. After writing, my main passions have been travel and salsa (dancing, not the sauce, although I like that too), which have inspired many a story line. Unfortunately ill health (husband’s, not mine) has restricted the former and completely put paid to the latter for the time being. I am also available locally for talks on my television work, which has also included appearances on Heartbeat, The Royal, A Touch of Frost, The Final Quest and The Weakest Link, and on various aspects of writing. Workhouse Orphan The 20th century has just dawned when David is apprenticed to a Yorkshire coal miner. But what of the younger brothers and sister he has been forced to leave behind in their London workhouse? Will he ever see them again? Wheels on Fire If you can't be famous, be infamous. Wheelchair bound after a tragic accident, revenge

I am currently Chair of Ripon Writers’ Group, Secretary of York Writers and a member of Promoting Yorkshire Authors.

is on Kaz's mind when

she joins the school trip to Paris... - 46 -

Swings And Roundabouts In fiction as in life, things rarely turn out as we expect. Plenty of surprises await characters and readers alike in Maggie Cobbett’s third collection of short stories. https:// B00D1FTGMO

Anyone For Murder

Shadows of the Past

Too Much Blood On The Axminster An elusive carpet fitter gets his just desserts. This story won a competition run by the Ackrill Media Group in conjunction with the 2011 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

Not far from Paris lies the village of SaintAndré-la Forêt, where three English schoolgirls disappear without trace during the summer of 1965. https:// B012IY94PW

https:// B00E67DZOG

Shadows of the Past Foreshadowing A working holiday in France for so little? “It sounds too good to be true,” says Daisy’s mother, but her warning falls on deaf ears. This short prequel to ‘Shadows of the Past’ reveals how three English schoolgirls are drawn into a sequence of events beyond their parents’ worst nightmares. https:// B07RLRPHN8

Easy Money for Writers and Wannabes Your handy guide to writing 'fillers' for magazines and newspapers. Discover why keeping your camera and notebook on hand can be more profitable than you might think, how to make readers' letter pages work for you and the art of putting a new slant on old wisdom. - 47 -

The Castle Walls by Becky Hemsley but remember, it’s your castle and the walls belong to you so don’t let them try to tell you what you can and cannot do

the castle walls you brace yourself for battle for the soon-approaching war and the sky echoes your darkness as grey clouds begin to form

refuse to lose your voice to theirs and do not let them speak for they’ll never give up trying to convince you you are weak

you retreat inside your castle where the walls are tall and strong but in the darkness, the walls whisper all the things that could go wrong

wrap a robe of strength around you wear your courage like a crown and you’ll silence all the whispers that have tried to talk you down

so you run around your castle closing curtains, locking doors and you batten down the hatches in preparation for the storm

and if you find yourself in battle use your fortress, by all means but don’t forget you are in control yes, it’s a castle — but you’re the queen

but locked inside your keep you miss the sky return to blue and behind the doors and curtains you can’t see the stunning view

— Becky Hemsley

see the castle’s kept you listening to all the words it said and the store outside has passed whilst you’ve raged war inside your head

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The Castle Walls A poem by Becky Hemsley, taken from the book Talking to the Wild Talking to the Wild is a poetry collection, the bedtime stories that we were likely never told as children but that can bring us comfort, joy, healing, peace and gentle reminders as we grow. Some days you’ll need comfort, some days you’ll need joy, and some days you’ll just need to feel heard. Validated. Seen. And I hope that’s what this book gives to you. I hope you get lost in the words and find yourself.

You can hear Becky reading her poems on TikTok. @talkingtothewild Or see more on her Facebook page.

Becky Hemsley is an empowered romantic with a hint of magic. She is from middle England and writes her poetry with her own accent in mind. Wherever, or however you read her poems, the message is the same; the story is about you.

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Woodland Therapy by Sylva Fae, with Lee Arrowsmith truly lost I didn't want to see anyone or talk to anyone. I left most of the bushcraft groups I was involved with, because I felt I wasn't interested in doing it anymore.

Fighting Mental Health Issues the Natural Way It’s no surprise that being out in the fresh air and getting exercise is good for us, but there are also many studies that show how encounters with nature can induce wakeful relaxation and positive emotional reactions, and how spending time in a woodland aids stress reduction, and boosts mental and emotional well-being. There is increasing research that supports the fact that trees actually make us feel better and woodlands provide valuable therapeutic landscapes – an escape from the stresses of everyday life.

I split up from my long-term partner as well, which meant I lost my house, my allotment, which I called my bushcraft base camp. It was where I practiced my bushcraft skills when I couldn't get out. All that I loved and cared about, was lost. I would speak to nobody people were ringing me but I just turned my phone off. I wasn't eating right and even my personal hygiene was affected. I was hitting rock bottom. But one day I picked up my day pack, made up a flask, grabbed a litre of water, and some snacks and just left my dad's house and went for a walk. I walked and walked. I didn't care where I went to, and I ended up in a wood where I used to camp as a kid.

One Man’s Story Lee Arrowsmith is just one man going through a tough patch, but his story resonates with so many. Lee isn’t a doctor, a mental health practitioner, or a researcher, he’s just an ordinary guy who has had to work through his troubles and find a way to make it back into normal life. But in Lee’s words, “I always say nobody is more qualified in mental health than someone who has been through it, and nobody knows true strength until they have truly hit rock bottom.”

A lot had changed, and the wood seemed smaller than I remembered, but I was here. I rolled out my sitting mat, got out my flasks and made a brew. It was very quiet and there was nobody about, as it was a weekday – not even many dog walkers about.

This is Lee’s story, and he hopes that by sharing it, he may inspire someone else who is suffering to take the first steps to recovery.

I listened to the wind in the trees and the birds singing, and watched two squirrels chase each other around a tree. Then it started to rain, so I took shelter under a fallen tree and with my knife I had in my day pack I cut away some thin branches so I could go further under the tree as the rain got heavier.

“I hope people will relate to this, and it will help some people who are struggling maybe with mental health issues, or people who have just got to a low point in their life due to unforeseen circumstances.

As I sat there listening to the rain, I reflected on past events, one after another, then I felt tears roll down my cheeks and I started to cry. Then I saw the squirrels once again chase each other and I smiled through the tears. I said to myself, drying my eyes with the back of my hand, ‘Come on Lee, you’ve been through worse let it go mate.’

So recently, I hit a wall in my life and I didn't want to go anywhere or do anything. I won't go into the details but I spent months not wanting to go outdoors or even think about bushcrafting (a favourite pastime of his). I was very depressed and not even my prescribed meds were working. I was - 50 -

Scenic Utah Wilderness by Melanie P. Smith © MPSmith Publishing

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Roast Dinner in the Woods with Gray Durgan by Sylva Fae One such piece of kit is this modified Coleman oven. Gray first tested out the oven in his backyard…

I’m always inspired when I see people going beyond the usual outdoor cooking of burgers and steaks, and create a meal worthy of a restaurant using only a campfire and basic kit. Gray Durgan is an experienced bushcrafter and wild camper, but he’s also skilled in making or modifying his own kit, and experimenting with this to create amazing woodland meals.

Firstly, the charcoal is lit in the fire box, and once the coals are hot enough, the oven is put on to preheat. Next, the meat is put in the oven and roasted alone for approximately one hour. The potatoes were roasted from raw, not part boiled, so they were added to the oven next. When the beef was cooked through, the stuffing was added in for the last half an hour, and the vegetables were put on to boil. Gray tells me it tasted superb.

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The next step was to cook a full roast dinner in the woods. First things first though, all woodland activities are more fun if they start with a coffee at the campfire. While it was still light, Gray built up the fire and chopped enough logs to keep it going throughout the cooking process. Then he followed the same process, cooking a full roast dinner, as the light gradually faded behind the trees. Finally, everything was ready – roast beef, roast potatoes, stuffing, veg and gravy, served at the fireside and eaten by the light of the flickering campfire flames – delicious!

Sylva Fae is a married mum of three from Lancashire, England. She has spent twenty years teaching literacy to adults with learning difficulties and disabilities, and now works from home as a children’s writer and illustrator.

Sylva has published several children’s books and also writes a blog, Sylvanian Ramblings. Her debut book, Rainbow Monsters won the Chanticleer Best in Category award. Discover more about Sylva on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: - 55 -

Writing Prompt By Angela Abraham

Descriptionari Quotes and Descriptions to Inspire Creative Writing To chatter is to allow the soul to flow and in this movement is the very stirrings of life.

Discover, Share, Connect

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, March 18, 2021.

Creativity is the weaving of random into a new and wonderful dish. Descriptionari helps you to fill up your idea cupboard with new ingredients, unleashing your inner Masterchef! And so, in keeping with our fantastic flash fiction theme ‘Dialogue’, tongue firmly in our extended-pun-cheek, here are a few nibbles!

Talk to me of everything. Talk of the nothing too. For all I ever wanted is to remain close, to hear your voice, to listen to the timbre of your heart in each word.


By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, March 11, 2021.

Our conversation is so much more than words. It is the smiles, the gentle shrugs and the light in our eyes. That we are both elevated by each other's presence is obvious and even the silences are comfortable. They are moments to savour the company of the other and feel that sense of peace that comes from feeling loved and protected, within the arms of friendship.

On Descriptionari there are over 19k ideas all free to check out (taking the pun bow now, tee hee). Happy writing!

By Angela Abraham, @daisydescriptionari, May 14, 2019.

Angela spent the past 10 years building Descriptionari one flash of inspiration at a time. She is now focusing on the creation of fiction novels. Her dog Oliver says it is all a complete waste of time and can he go for a walk now? - 56 -

Paul’s Puzzles By Paul Godding The Main Challenge

The 7puzzle Challenge

Read the information below to find each of these three different numbers:

The playing board of the 7puzzle game is a 7-by-7 grid of 49 different numbers, ranging from 2 up to 84. The 2nd & 7th rows contain the following fourteen numbers:

A is the only 2-digit square number that does not contain any odd digits

4 8 11 17 24 27 28 30 48 55 63 64 70 77

B is the only 2-digit prime number with both its digits the same

What is the sum of the even numbers listed?

C is the only 2-digit cube number less than 50

The Target Challenge

Calculate the sum of A, B and C.

Can you arrive at 61 by inserting 3, 5, 8 and 10 into the gaps on each line?

◯×◯+◯+◯ = 61

(◯+◯)×◯+double◯ = 61

(◯+◯)×◯–half◯ = 61

The Lagrange Challenge Lagrange’s Four-Square Theorem states that every positive integer can be made by adding up to four square numbers. For example, 7 can be made by 2²+1²+1²+1² (or 4+1+1+1).

(◯–◯)×◯+◯ = 61

The Mathematically Possible Challenge Using 1, 6 and 7 once each, with + – × ÷ available, which is the ONLY number it is possible to make from the list below?

There are FOUR ways of making 61 when using Lagrange’s Theorem. Can you find them? ***

8 16 24 32 40 48 56 64 72 80



Hello, my name is Paul Godding. I am a full-time professional private maths tutor based in the south-east of Wales who delivers face-to-face tuition locally as well as online tuition to students globally. It would be lovely to hear from you, so feel free to click if you wish to secure maths tuition for you or your child. Alternatively, you can ring/message/WhatsApp me from anywhere in the world:

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The Darkest Year By Penny Luker It had not been a good year. Michael had left me in February after thirty-seven years of marriage. He’d said he was sorry but he’d fallen in love with Amy and he was moving in with her. He’d had the house valued and was putting it on the market. Of course, I was welcome to buy his half, which he knew I couldn’t do, as I’d given up my career to look after the children. He also graciously allowed me to live in the house until it was sold. And then the pandemic had come and I couldn’t see friends or family and the rules kept changing. Sometimes I could see them over the garden wall and sometimes in the garden. I could form a bubble but with two children in different households, which ones do you choose? I cannot begin to explain the darkness that descended. It was like a veil drawn in front of my eyes. Churchill described it as the black dog. I knew what he meant. I wanted to hide under my duvet and never come out. It was at this point my mother, who’s been dead these past ten years, started to talk to me. She said I was to get up and have a bath, put on clean clothes and have breakfast, just as if Michael was still with me, but away on business. Then I was to go and buy any shopping I needed or go for a walk in Delamere Forest. I was quite irritated at being bossed around, but I actually found I felt better after my walk, so that became my routine.

Christmas. The black cloud descended again and mother became more bossy. She told me I would get on the internet and order presents for everyone I usually bought for and I would sort through my decorations and pick out the special handmade ones and put them up in the room where I used my computer. Then I had to go and buy a delicious frozen meal and good bottle of wine. I did what I was told. It was easier than arguing with her. Christmas morning came and I really didn’t want to get out of bed, however I followed my morning routine. I had to look presentable because the children were Zooming at two, in the afternoon. I’d just finished my breakfast when my neighbour, Harriet, phoned. ‘Get yourself a tipple of your choice and meet me outside in ten minutes,’ she said and put the phone down.

I often managed to see one of the children or a friend for my walks and like everyone else I learned how to use Zoom. What a blessing that was. I found a choir and several art classes that were run online and each obstacle I overcame, helped me feel just a tiny bit better and then people started to talk about - 58 -

I love Harriet, but she sometimes makes the mistake of thinking that everyone is as kind as her. Still I thought, it wouldn’t be that much of a bother, so I agreed and she rushed inside and started piling all sorts of things over the fence.

Although I didn’t really want a drink so early in the morning, my neighbour was a good sort and I couldn’t really say I was busy. I poured myself a small sherry, and quickly wrapped up the tin of shortbread biscuits a friend from the W.I. had given me. Tugging on my ‘Micheline man’ coat I went and sat on a chair under the open porch. It was at least two metres away from her porch, so we were still complying with the rules, I think.

Martha settled in quickly. She slowly walked round the house, inspecting it, but when I put down the food and water, she seemed to relax. I had a lovely Christmas meal with a good glass of wine and Martha brightened up the Zoom call with my children, who could see, in the background, all the decorations they’d made for me over their childhood years. Martha showed them every part of her anatomy that was feasible to show, in a continual and persistent manner. Later, the children had a chat with their dad and explained that if he didn’t let me live out my time in my home, they’d refer me to a solicitor to help me get half his business and pension. Apparently, it’s doing very well and he didn’t want to risk that. So here I am six months later. We’re just beginning to get a bit of normality back in our lives, although I have to say I do like wearing a mask in shops. No-one can see that you’re scowling at them.

‘Cheers,’ she said as we raised our glasses to each other. I handed over the biscuits. ‘Oh the lovely biscuits, your friend from the W.I. gave you. Thank you so much. The family are coming to peer over the hedge this afternoon. I’ll put them out and a couple of flasks of tea, so they can help themselves.’ We smiled and chatted for a while and then she said, ‘I’ve got a favour to ask you. I know it’s cheeky.’ ‘What can I do to help you?’ I replied. ‘Well, you know I volunteer at the local cat rescue... we decided to each take a cat home, so then we didn’t have to keep going in over the holidays. I took home Martha. She’s ten years old; in perfect health and just wants to sleep, but my two cats won’t let her. They want to play all the time, because they’re a lot younger. It’s only for one week and I’ve got all the food and cat litter, in fact everything she needs. You won’t need to buy anything.’

Martha is still with me, of course. She’s such a lovely companion and now I want to get up in the mornings. Harriet gave me the best Christmas present ever and Mother has stopped bossing me about. Bless her.

Penny Luker is a writer and artist from Cheshire. She writes novels, short stories and poetry for adults, and also writes children’s stories. You can find her work at or

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April by Mom’s Authors One of Our Gorillas is Missing! Author Burt Kempner is pleased to announce that the fifth book in the School of Animal Magic series, One of Our Gorillas is Missing!, is now available for purchase as a paperback or ebook (audiobook to follow soon). Professor Artemus Quinn, a silverback gorilla who’s the headmaster of the School of Animal Magic (SAM), has taken a leave of absence to search for his missing young nephew Kembi. When Professor Quinn himself vanishes, SAM’s boldest action team — Maisha the elephant, Jonas the cattle egret and Maliki the white lion — sets off to discover who’s behind these mysterious disappearances. Will they make it in time to save their friends? The books are standalone adventures that gently introduce young readers to the concept of threatened and endangered species and provide steps they can take to help them. While it's a serious subject, the books are laced with action and humor. About the Author: Writer-Producer Burt Kempner has worked professionally in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Florida. His work has won numerous major awards, and has been seen by groups ranging in size from a national television audience in the United States to a half-dozen Maori chieftains in New Zealand. Spurred by his love for inspiring young people, he started writing children's books in 2015. Larry the Lazy Blue Whale was his first published book, followed by Monty the Movie Star Moose, The Five Fierce Tigers of Rosa Martinez and the School of Animal Magic Adventure series: Maisha the Educated Elephant, Dolphins in Distress, The Salmon Who Wanted to Run, The Purple Wave and One of Our Gorillas is Missing! - 60 -

The Seren Stone By Lisa Shambrook Blurb:

Loren has always loved the fabled stone necklace her mother keeps hidden in her jewellery box. Steeped in lore and legend, it is said that it must be guarded from all who seek it. Unable to resist the lure of the beautiful stone, Loren accidentally invokes its magical properties, catapulting them to another realm. Soon everything is wrong. The Welsh valleys are flooded, the moon is fractured, and dragons—who should only live in storybooks—fill the skies. As Loren and her two siblings are drawn into a future that is barely recognisable, they team up with Orca, a cowardly lechrad, who helps them travel the enchanted land and protect the stone. They’ll need to fight evil and right their wrongs if they ever hope to return home again—and the stone’s peculiar magic might be their only chance.

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Conspiracy Test Card 2 by TE Hodden

Nothing is New One of the reasons I find conspiracy theories so interesting is because often, when I stumble across a brand new conspiracy theory, and scratch at the surface, familiar patterns and influences show through. Sometimes this is because the human brain has evolved a habit of spotting patterns as a survival instinct, and so we have a habit of spotting the same sorts of patterns in the chaos, over and again. Sometimes it is because stories have a habit of developing in similar ways, and stories that hit certain beats are going to resonate and spread. And, of course, sometimes it is because hackneyed old stories are never allowed to die, as there is always somebody willing to drag them from the grave, shake off the dirt, change a few names, and dress the mouldering bones in new clothes. For example, the QAnon myth, Pizzagate, and pretty much any conspiracy that paints a particular group of “Others”, (from Jews, or Muslims, to Liberals and members of the Bilderberg Group) as Satanic fiends, who steal children for a blood debt, and perform unspeakable rituals, while wielding unimaginable influence over a web of big-name conspirators, all share vast swathes of their substance not only with each other, but with similar stories, such as the Elders of Zion, and all aim to dehumanise groups, reducing them to ghouls and bogie men, stirring up hatred and justifying bigotry or violence. As a quick aside, I should quickly discuss the

relationship between conspiracy theories and racism. Not every theory is racist, but racism is a common theme, not only because bigots and racist often use conspiracy theories as a tool, but because the way conspiracy theories grow and spread often make them fertile ground for racism or bigotry to grow. For some, a conspiracy theory is a defence mechanism. Some events are just too horrible for us to comprehend, so sometimes it may be alluring to believe that they simply did not happen, or, perhaps that history could not be so easily derailed by a small group or single assassin, and that only the most powerful forces could have really done that. Most alluringly though, when the world seems chaotic and scary, the conspiracy theory gives the illusion, no matter how slender, of being in control. They often offer a scape goat, somebody to blame, to hate, and a way to feel like you are in the game, doing your part, because you are finding clues, solving the puzzle, and spreading the word. And boy, can they teach you to hate. It is no coincidence that so many conspiracy theories paint their villains in broad strokes with a bigot’s palette, reducing them to the ghoulish monsters, who prey on the vulnerable and children, performing the same unspeakable acts. It makes them less than human, it aims to convince you that the enemy deserves hate. - 62 -

We see this tactic waved around outside of conspiracy theories, of course. Sometimes stated bluntly, sometimes under the thinnest, most threadbare disguise of “just asking questions”. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about immigrants, trans rights, or anything else, on the internet, sooner or later somebody will ask “but how do we know one of them isn’t…” or “what would stop one of them from thinking they could…” raising the spectre of a purely hypothetical bogeyman.

Even the kookier theories, that we often write off as essentially harmless, and unrelated to politics, often reflect sides of our nature we tend to ignore.

During the early stages of the Pandemic, a whole slew of conspiracy theories rose from the grave to shamble around the internet, wearing only the thinnest veneer of subtlety, while struggling heroically to retain ignorance as thick as grease paint.

Pretty much every theory about aliens visiting the ancient world begins with an assumption that various ancient cultures were somehow inferior, and inherently incapable of learning stone masonry and architectural techniques before Europeans, and thus needed the help of aliens.

A global effort by scientists meant that a genetic profile of the new virus was rapidly sourced, through which we could be fairly sure of its evolution, from its nearest known ancestor, a disease known to infect bats, through several intermediate stages, in at least two host animals, to a stage that was infectious to humans.

And this is the thing about conspiracy theories. All too often they boil down to looking for answers to a question that isn’t really there, not unless you invite a rather nasty little assumption, either that a group weren’t capable of a good thing, because they were inferior, or a reason to blame a group for a bad thing, despite appearances.

But how many times did you see that knowledge reduced down to “somebody ate a bat”? On the one hand it’s an obviously absurd misrepresentation of the science, but on the other hand… it is a calculated straw man argument, a mockery of the facts intended to seem ridiculous, in comparison to the alternative ideas (that ranged from the virus being a hoax, to being a deliberate attack by the Chinese) with a considerable dollop of the “gruesome things foreign types will eat” trope thrown in.

It is not a universal rule, of course, but it is a trend that repeats, over and over, and one that we never quite seem to outgrow, even after centuries of learning to spot the signs. Part of the problem stems from the way that Conspiracy Theories draw from myth, legend, and popular culture. The idea that celebrities or leaders are something other than human, cold blooded lizard aliens, or demons in human form, is laughably outlandish, but grows from the old rumours that Jews rule the world, through the machinations of an evil conspiracy, and root all the way down to the myths and folklore that used trolls and other ugly beasts as thinly veiled metaphors.

The idea that ‘somebody ate a bat’ just won’t die away. It is now ingrained into the zeitgeist, and will remain there long after any discussion of the science has been forgotten. It will become the pseudotruth that endures, in every joke about the strange times of the pandemic. - 63 -

Echoes of this folklore still exist in popular culture, where, intended or not, the association of certain trollish appearances in alien races, or fantasy dwarves still appear to be a short hand for greed and avarice (recent discussions mentioned Rowling or Tolkien, but we could as easily discuss the Ferrengi from Star Trek). Sadly, the way that these ideas shift and change, is how they survive.

cults, to the New World Order, and Pizzagate, to the current belief of Q types, that the secret world government will be overthrown any day now by Donald Trump and JFK Junior (apparently back from the dead and visiting Trump rallies in disguise), and from there, they will rise again, with new heroes, but the same villains, and the same distasteful accusations, threaded around a new narrative, for a new generation.

A direct line can be drawn, from elvish creatures of folk lore, through cold blooded aliens, and Satanic

How much influence we allow it, however, is yet to be decided.

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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1913. Before the World Changed Forever by Stan Phillips

Cricket on the green

Morris Men dancing.

With villagers come to see.

Cricket on the green

Bucolic beauty.

Nineteen thirteen. Simple days.

Cricket on the green

Never come again.

Can you hear the music play?

Cricket on the green

Butterworth I think.

All is peaceful now, silent

Cricket on the green

Can you hear the tears.

All clad in sparkling fresh white

Cricket on the green

Gods or failing fools

Not now my child, sit awhile

Cricket on the green

Who is left to play?

All stop for tea, scones and cream. Stan Phillips is a 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: - 65 -

Dialogue by Allison Symes

Despite the word count restriction, there is room for dialogue in flash fiction. The word count restriction encourages your characters to (a) get to the point and (b) ensure their dialogue moves the story on in some way. It also ensures a good pace throughout the story.

Dialogue in any fiction has several purposes:•

To convey information between characters.

To show something of the background of the characters in the way they speak and the type of language they use (especially educational and class background).

To serve as a break between narrative and action (and it is usually unrealistic for characters not to speak at some point).

To increase the pace of a story. Speech has a rhythm of its own and I find when reading it my pace of reading picks up as I am keen to follow the conversation. It is like eavesdropping!

In a flash story with more than one character, I use dialogue to show the attitude of others to my lead character. For example in my story, Decisions, one character comes up with “The monkey has talent” in reaction to my lead character’s choice to jump on an alien spaceship rather than be caught up in an end of the world scenario. There is contempt in the one word “monkey”. I’ve shown you that rather than spell it all out via description and only needed one word of dialogue to do so.

Also the action in the story can be shown through dialogue. One character brings another one up to date with what has been going on. That in turn leads the second character to acting on the information they have now received.

Don’t forget a character’s thoughts count as internal dialogue. I love taking a reader straight into my characters’ heads so they can “overhear” what my people are thinking, especially when it doesn’t tally with how they are acting towards someone. A reader can see Character A is a hypocrite for being nice to Character B when the thoughts are showing a different attitude. The story there is in how and why Character A came to be that way. The reason needs to be a good one. I’ve sometimes written all dialogue flash pieces, which work best when kept short. You need a natural start and stop point. Often working out what the final line will be first is good way to start. You then work backwards to get to a logical starting point. One of my examples is below. (I turned this one into a video for my YouTube channel too - short pieces can work well as videos).

Getting the Workmen In

‘You want a new kiddie’s chair and bed, and decorators in because there’s porridge everywhere? Is this a hoax call? Sir, there’s no need to growl. ‘I’ll send Matt tomorrow. He’ll sort everything. Three Bears House? Yes. Got that. Yes, yes. We - 66 -

won’t overcharge and you don’t eat Matt once he’s done.

a natural end of under that. My story is under 150 words but I didn’t add more because the conversation with my characters peters out naturally here.

‘I know you prefer oats but you are a bear, sir. I must be careful with my staff. Besides if that madam, Goldilocks wasn’t it, turns up again, you’ll need Matt back. No good is it if you return to your roots and eat the poor so-and-so.

You can use any theme but get two characters talking and show us through their speech what happens to them. Something does have to happen and it can be a reveal of some kind that would change the other character’s life in some way.

‘Payment? Sorry, not in oats, please. Gold coins are fine as long as they’re not the chocolate ones. We will check. Okay, you’ll rob the dwarves, they won’t argue. Fair enough.

For this form it is better to stop at 100 words if you find your characters’ conversation comes to a natural end at that point. Never try to stretch a flash story. It doesn’t work.

‘Pleasure doing business with you, sir.’

For the non-fiction fans, invent a dialogue you wish could have happened between two historical characters. Just base your dialogue on known facts between the characters. Have fun!

Ends So the challenge this month is to come up with an all dialogue flash piece. Maximum word count is the usual 300 but you may well find you come in at


Allison Symes, who loves reading and writing quirky fiction, is published by Chapeltown Books, CafeLit, and Bridge House Publishing. Her flash fiction collections, Tripping The Flash Fantastic and From Light to Dark and Back Again are out in Kindle and paperback. She has been a winner of the Waterloo Arts Festival writing competition three years in a row where the brief was to write to a set theme to a 1000 words maximum. Website:

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Light & Dark

Pie By Cherime MacFarlane

“What kind of pie is that?” “You’ve never heard of shepherd’s pie? You know, with mashed potatoes on top?” “Yeah, but that doesn’t mean I want to eat it. What’s under those potatoes?” “Good stuff, dear. Just try it. Give it to the dog if it’s horrid.” “I do that, and I’ll never hear the end.” “You’ll never know what it tastes like if you don’t take a bite. Don’t be so ornery. You know you like potatoes.”

“Well, it’s not bad. How about another piece?” “I lied. That’s vegetable quiche disguised as shepherd’s pie.”

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Father to Daughter By Angela Abraham

Father: "There is a key on the floor." Talia: "But the door stays stuck." Father: "Kiss the key, open the door, on the other side is my love." Talia: "I thought your love would be in the dark room with me." Father: "It was, you set us both free."

Swerve By Joe DeRouen

Father: "Talia, let's play a game. I speak, and you finish my sentences. Okay, love?"

“Where did you come from?”

Talia: "Sure." Father: "I am in a dark room..."

“No, you haven’t. I was here alone one moment, and the next…there you were.”

Talia: "Everything is black."

“Maybe you just weren’t ready to see me yet.”

Father: "I turn to find the door..."

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Talia: "But there is none."

“It means what it means.”

Father: "From the wall comes a sliver of daylight..."

“You’re not making sense. I’m leaving.”

Talia: "And I realize there is a chance of escape."

“Where would you go?”

Father: "I feel the wall and discover..."

“That’s a good question. Where am I, anyway?”

Talia: "There is a door, but it is stuck."

“Why don’t you sit and talk with me for a while?”

“I’ve been with you all along.”

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“Why should I?

Cross Chat By Maressa Mortimer

“Why shouldn’t you?” “Okay, what’s your name?”

“I think you know that as well.” “I…this is all so confusing. What do you want?” “Just to talk with you for a while, until you have to go.” “I do know you, don’t I?” “You do, though maybe not as well as I know you.” “You’re…you’re Sarah, aren’t you? You’re my sister.”

“I’m sorry that I didn’t hear you the first time, I was just thinking of something.”

“I’m Sarah, your sister. I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to be part of your life.”

“You looked worried or something, so that’s why I asked. Is something wrong? You’ve been quiet all day, are you feeling ill? Did you mention it already, I can’t remember, but I do love you, even if I forget that you told me you’re feeling ill and I didn’t ask again later, you know that, don’t you?”

“I’ve always missed you, ever since I found out about you.” “We’ve always been connected, you and I. How could we not be?” “Can you stay with me?”

“Of course I do, don’t look so stressed. No, my headache was last Monday, but that’s fine now. I was just wondering about what you’d said the other day.”

“I cannot. Someday we’ll be together, but not now. Not yet.” “Here we go again with the riddles. What does that mean?”

“I told you it would take me a while. You can’t expect me to get sorted instantly. It takes time. I’m sure I read somewhere that it takes the same time as it took you to get to this position. That’s been ages, so it’s not a great way to support me if you start getting all moody every two weeks about things being the way they are.”

“It means it isn’t your time to go yet.” “Go where? Oh. Oh! I remember now. I remember everything. I was driving, and that damned squirrel darted out into the road, and…and…” “And you swerved, because you didn’t want to hit it. You were always the good twin.”

“Surely you could have made a start? I wasn’t thinking of reaching our goal, but a first few steps would have been great.”

“Am I…are we finally going to be together?”

“You’ll join me eventually, but not today. You still have things to do.”

“Why do you think there was pasta in the food bin? You know how I hate waste, so surely that tells you something? I have started. Change might not always be visible. Maybe adjust your expectations.”

“I love you, Sarah.” “I love you, too, Gracie. Now wake up.” - 70 -


“Food bin? What are you talking about? How is putting extra carbs in the food bin going to fix the leaky gutter or the broken fence? Although thinking about it, maybe one agreement kept would lead to the other one being ticked off the list as well? Painting that shed would count as a proper workout, burning those extra calories. You might regret not eating that pasta!”

“Tea, two sugars, here you are.” “Thanks, hun.” “They said the ambulance would be about ten minutes. While we wait, you wanna tell me how you managed to break your ankle in an empty hallway?” “Er, well I actually broke it getting out of bed. It’s kinda embarrassing…”

Tick Tock By Sylva Fae

“Go on…” “I thought I saw a spider, jumped up, and kicked the bed leg – you can’t believe the agony, Chlo – turned out it was only a hair bobble.” “You daft sod! So how come you’ve only just got up? It’s nearly ten am, and what are you wearing?” “Oh this? It’s just my new silk negligee – you like it?”

“Chloe, is that you at the front door?”

“What? I mean why are you wearing a sexy nightie? You normally sleep in a baggy T-shirt…and are you wearing make-up?”

“Yes, you going to let me in?” “Door’s unlocked, let yourself in – I can’t walk…” “What? Why? Forget it, I’m coming in. Bye.”

“Yeah, just a little and I’ve been up ages.”

“Hiya, thanks for coming, I’ve…well er, I think I’ve…”

“So let me get this straight – you got up, got spooked by a hair bobble, broke your foot, while in agony you texted me, got changed into a sexy little number, put on your make-up and dragged your purple balloon foot all the way to the front door instead of phoning an ambulance?”

“What the hell are you doing sprawled on the floor? Oh my gosh, Chelsea, your foot! What’ve you done?” “Dunno, think it’s broken. It’s gone purple and it hurts like hell. It’s knocking me sick.”

“Erm, yeah. It sounds worse when you say it altogether. Anyway, I need your help. Just grab my phone from the bedroom…”

“I’m not surprised, it’s swollen to twice the size of your other foot. You have phoned for an ambulance, haven’t you?”

“Okay, got it. What now?”

“No. I wanted to wait for you, I need you to help me…”

“When the ambulance arrives, can you video me for a TikTok video? This should get a ton of likes…”

“Seriously? I’m phoning straight away. Hang on, I’ll make you a cup of tea while I’m doing it.”

“Chelsea, you are unbelievable!” - 71 -

Europe by Book by Hannah Howe

A Solitary Reaper: A Captain Savva Mystery by Rachael Wright

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My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan Novels Book 1) by Elena Ferrante 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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Senryu Poems by Alison Rasmussen During the Halloween event Drawlloween of 2021 I decided to include short stories with my illustrations as a lot of them are based on the characters from the ghost story I am writing. When it came to writing a story based on preexisting characters that are not of my own making, I just didn’t feel comfortable using someone else’s words to go with my artwork, so I decided to write little senryu poems for them instead. Senryu is quite similar to Haiku poetry, and I first discovered it through a very sweet anime called Senryu Girl (Senryuu Shoujo, 2019) which is about a girl with social anxiety who communicates through senryu poetry.

There’s a nice explanation here about the differences between Senryu and Haiku:

Frankenstein (Senryu poetry 5,7,5)

Awoken early Unexpected bed head Belligerent bride

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Fairy Tale (Sleeping Beauty) (Senryu poetry 5,7,5)

Spinning wheel, and Witch, and Needle, sending her to Slumber deep, through time.

Alison Rasmussen is a self-taught illustrator who also loves to write. She creates fantasy creatures and whimsical gothic art and is writing a ghost story where lots of her characters go to play. She’s done illustration work for children’s stories and a zombie series, and is now illustrating her own story, just for fun. Alison has a young son and works at home, running her online art shop and creating art to go in it. When she isn’t writing about her imaginary world of ghosts, she works on improving her drawing with traditional media - mainly graphite, soft pastels, and coloured pencil. She gets inspiration from Asian art, anime, fairies, and folklore.

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Birthstone Crystal Grids by Lisa Shambrook April — Diamond April's birthstone is a sparkly diamond and I used Herkimer Diamonds for this crystal grid made for Emotional Connection, Healing, and Love. Soft, lilac Kunzite connects the mind with emotion using healing and abundant love. Herkimer Diamond, a powerful amplifier of strength and healing, brings attunement and spiritual connection through light. Blue Lace Agate offers clarity of thought, confidence in communication, and emotional support. Blue Chalcedony also gives calm and trust, and Rainbow Moonstone brings peace, inner calm, and harmony. Bluebells, my favourite flower, signify gratitude, humility, constancy, and everlasting love, perfect with diamonds!

Crystal Grids made by Lisa Shambrook for mindfulness, meditation, and art. Prints of some grids are available at:

You can find out more about the sensory author and artist, who will lift your spirit, steal your heart, and ignite your imagination at: She also loves dragons and squirrels.

Lisa Shambrook is an author, artist, and dreamer who loves dragons. Born and raised in vibrant Brighton, England, living by the ocean heavily influenced her lyrical and emotional writing. She now lives in Carmarthen, West Wales, another town rich in legend and lore. A sensory writer, Lisa delves into sensitive subject matters that will lift your spirit and steal your heart.

Find out more at her website and her Etsy shop - 76 -

Chess Supplied by Chess.Com Black to move, checkmate in five.

Supplied by the #1 chess website. Used with permission. For more chess puzzles please visit

You can find answers for this activity on Page 81 - 77 -

Jazz Appreciation Month by Melanie P. Smith

April Cover design created to honor Jazz Appreciation

When you think “Roaring Twenties” you can’t help but think Jazz music and dance. The genre originated in the 1920s in New Orleans and is still a big part of their culture today. It is characterized as a blend of classical music, swing, blues notes, complex chords, enchanting folk rhythms with the harmony of West African cultures and rituals. The unique blues notes became the signature dance music for nightclubs, transitioning to a more ragtime dance-oriented beat in the 30’s to accommodate the improvised, swing-style moves. During the 1940’s Jazz again morphed into a faster tempo and used more chord-based improvisation as well as calmer, smoother sounds. During the 50’s, Jazz underwent another transition, focusing more on rhythm and blues and gospel tones. During prohibition, illicit speakeasies began to crop up. They became lively venues for

alcohol, music, dance, and show tunes. At this time, Jazz gained a reputation as immoral. Great artists like Louis Armstrong helped develop jazz into a fine art. He got his start in New Orleans and is considered the leading trumpeter and one of the mot influential artist in jazz history. Jimmy Dorsey on the saxophone and clarinet along with his brother Tommy on the trombone created the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra and appeared on at least seventy-five radio stations. Jazz was finally recognized as a notable musical form. The Dorsey’s as well as other notables like Benny Goodman introduced the big jazz band era and swing. This gave individual musicians within the band an opportunity to show off with complex solos and improvised melodies. JAM (Jazz Appreciation Month) wasn’t developed until 2001 by the curator at the Smithsonian as a way to celebrate and appreciate the genre, remember history and improve lives with dance and music.

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! - 82 -

Current eMagazine...

Brought to you by...

Marketing seems to be one of those areas that every author struggles with. It’s the same struggle companies world-wide have been dealing with for decades. How do I get my product in front of my target audience? Connections eMagazine can help. The publication is free to readers, bloggers and to authors looking for a little extra exposure. Visit our website for details.

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: - 83 -

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, Art Director & Proofreader —Sylva Fae Our Managing Editor oversees the physical content of the magazine and coordinates the production schedule. She administers the day-to-day operations of the publication, manages submissions, sets realistic schedules and organizes each edition of the magazine. 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. Sylva Fae—Mum of three, fairy woodland owner, and author of children’s books.

Copy Editors / Proofreaders — Wendy H. Jones and Sheena MacLead Our Copy Editors for Mom’s work hard to ensure content is appropriate and free of grammatical and spelling errors. Wendy H. Jones is also our Feature Editor and works hard to provide content that is interesting, informative and professional. She’s the award winning, international best-selling author of the DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, Cass Claymore Investigates Mysteries, Fergus and Flora Mysteries, Bertie the Buffalo children’s books and the Writing Matters books for writers. She is also a writing and marketing coach and the President of the Scottish Association of Writers. You can learn more about Wendy on her website:

Sheena Macleod lectured at the University of Dundee, where she gained her PhD. She now lives in a seaside town in Scotland. Reign of the Marionettes is her first novel. She currently has two additional books: Tears of Strathnaver and Women of Courage—A Forgotten Figure—Frances Connolly. You can learn more about Sheena on her website:

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Story Editor—Allison Symes Allison Symes works diligently each month to generate flash fiction writing prompts that will stimulate creativity in our authors and entertain our readers. As Story Editor, she also ensures each entry is professional and polished. Allison Symes is an award winning, published flash fiction and short story writer. She also writes a weekly column on topics of interest for writers for online magazine, Chandler's Ford Today. Allison's fiction has appeared in anthologies (CafeLit and Bridge House Publishing) over many years. Allison judges competitions, runs workshops, and is always happy to talk/write about flash fiction writing.

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:

Young Writer Content Editor—Poppy Flynn Poppy Flynn works hard each month to generate ideas, proofread submitted content, and provide stories, articles, poems and other pieces that are creative and relevant from young writers around the world. Get to know more about our Young Writer Content Editor on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here:

General Content Writers Our Content Writers are freelance authors who contribute articles, short stories, etc. to the eMagazine on a regular basis. They work hard to make our magazine interesting and professional. Get to know our Content Writers here: T.E. Hodden — Val Tobin — Stan Phillips — Father Ian Maher —

Discover more amazing authors…

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