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Paul Kirtley—Wilderness Bushcraft, Survival Skills, Outdoor Life Interviewed by Sylva Fae ......................................................................................... 8
Wendy H. Jones—Interviewed by Melanie P. Smith ....................................... 19
Coachella by Anthony Randall ............................................................................. 25 A Night with the Wolves by Chantal Bellehumeur ......................................... 42 Man in the Moon … Or Not by Christine Larsen ............................................. 52
The Stag Do by Joy Margetts ................................................................................ 58 The Trouble with Weasels by Penny Luker ....................................................... 70
Scenic Utah by Melanie P. Smith ......................................................................... 14 Wildlife Photography by Gez Robinson ............................................................. 54
School Holidays by Ollie (Age 12) ...................................................................... 24
Laughter Stan Phillips ............................................................................................. 13 The Anonymous Poet Stan Phillips ..................................................................... 78
Bertie and the Worldwide Games Reviewed by Sylva Fae ............................ 18 The Scent of Water Reviewed by Wendy H. Jones ........................................... 76
The Olympics: A Potted History by Wendy H. Jones ....................................... 16 Genealogy: Meet My Ancestors by Hannah Howe .......................................... 40 Look Beyond the Surface by Father Ian Maher ................................................. 50 The Rio-Antirrio Bridge by John Greeves .......................................................... 64 Europe by Book by Hannah Howe ...................................................................... 68 Side Benefits of Writing by Allison Symes ........................................................ 72 World Honey Bee Day by Melanie P. Smith ...................................................... 80
Mom’s Favorite Reads Author — Chantal Bellehumeur ................................. 48
White to Move—Supplied by Chess.com ........................................................... 31 Puzzles by Paul Godding ....................................................................................... 51 Hot Rod Todd Coloring Pages .............................................................................. 66 Word Search by Mom’s Favorite Reads .............................................................. 79
Mom’s Outdoor Cooking Recipes— Mom’s Authors ...................................... 32 - Campfire Breakfast by Guest Writer Paul Kirtley ....................................... 33 - Turkish Style Chicken Skewers by Ceri Bladen .......................................... 35 - Steak Marinade by Adrian Czarnecki ............................................................ 36 - Sour Cream Cookies by Val Tobin ................................................................. 38 - Savory Potato Salad & Fresh Lemonade by Melanie P. Smith ................. 39
20% OFF First Book Promotion with the Fussy Librarian ............................... 80 Connections eMagazine ......................................................................................... 81
Paul Kirtley by Sylva Fae
Wilderness Bushcraft, Survival Skills, Outdoor Life Paul Kirtley is one of the UK’s leading professional wilderness bushcraft instructors and also a prolific writer on the subjects of bushcraft, wilderness travel and survival techniques. I first heard of Paul Kirtley through his blog articles, which I’ve followed for years. I class myself as an amateur bushcrafter and forager, and as such, I’m constantly seeking out clear and informative articles to further my learning – Paul’s blog provides exactly that, and so much more. His name is well known in the bushcraft world and his training guides are considered some of the most accurate and well written. Last year, I had the good fortune to take part in a live Q&A session that Paul kindly set up for our bushcraft group. I discovered that in addition to being incredibly knowledgeable and skilled, he is also a truly nice man, happy to share his knowledge with those keen to learn.
Paul has a list of qualifications and accomplishments far too long to list here, but you can check out his website if you want to see what has rightfully earned him the title of Bushcraft Legend amongst the bushcraft groups.
https://paulkirtley.co.uk/ Frontier Bushcraft Bushcraft is not just about learning skills, it takes passion, commitment, and years of practice to perfect your skills and techniques. It is also about learning from others and in turn, sharing your knowledge, so that these basic skills are passed down to future generations. Over the years, Paul was fortunate to work with some of the bushcraft greats and now runs his own bushcraft school, Frontier Bushcraft. The school was established in 2010 and has become known as one of the highest quality bushcraft course providers globally.
In his own words: ‘Outdoor life is no longer a hobby or a pastime for me. It’s a passion I turned into a full-time occupation. I’ve been a full-time professional outdoor skills instructor since 2005. I’m fully invested in a life of developing practical outdoor skills and the knowledge to support this – both developing my own abilities and helping others develop theirs.’
For subjects like bushcraft or survival skills, nothing beats actual hands-on experience with a qualified instructor. For readers based in the UK, Frontier Bushcraft offers skills courses, trips and wilderness expeditions. The Bushcraft and Survival Foundation is a one-day course and covers a range of techniques and knowledge that will help you to provide your basic needs and to stay safe while in the outdoors. It includes the basics – fire, shelter, water, food, outdoor safety and equipment. There are also longer courses that cover skills like navigation, woodcrafting, tracking and nature awareness.
Of course, for those unable to attend the practical courses, there are still opportunities to learn. In addition to all of the free articles, instructional videos and podcasts, Paul Kirtley also offers online courses that allow you the flexibility to study wherever you are based.
On this site I endeavour to share what I do know, what I have learned from application and experience, my current level of understanding. My knowledge is a work in progress and forever will be but I hope the material here is helpful to you. I continue to be a student of bushcraft and of nature, researching, practising, applying, failing and succeeding. I also continue to attend courses, seminars and development training with other professionals in a number of fields. Plus, I continue to make wilderness journeys of my own including canoe trips, backpacking trips, ski tours and snowshoeing/hot-tenting, some solo and some with trusted adventure companions.’
A Bushcraft Lifestyle Since joining the bushcraft community, I’ve discovered that everyone, no matter where they are in their learning journey, has something to contribute, and much to learn. This spirit of sharing and learning lies at the heart of the community, but few professionals are as proactive at passing on their knowledge as Paul Kirtley. His blog was previously ranked the top Bushcraft Blog globally and voted the Best Outdoor Blog in the GO Outdoor Awards.
This short article barely shows the wealth of information available within the website. For anyone interested in outdoor life, it’s definitely worth checking out the website, YouTube channel, or reading his newly published book. You can also follow Paul’s adventures on all the usual social media channels.
In his own humble words, in regards to his website:
(Copyright © Paul Kirtley for all photographs contained within this article)
‘In some respects, however, I feel like so far I’ve only just scratched the surface. Bushcraft is a broad umbrella term but at its heart is a practical study of nature. Nature is big, varied and complex. The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know. - 10 -
In Paul’s words: ‘I’m very happy to present this book to you. It distils many years of outdoor experience and nearly two decades of teaching wilderness bushcraft skills. The book is divided into six clear and comprehensive chapters delivering valuable wilderness axe skills and campcraft techniques from start to finish. There are detailed explanations and step-by-step photo sequences throughout.’
Wilderness Axe Skills and Campcraft
About the book
Over the years, Paul has written articles and contributed photographs for Bushcraft and Survival Skills magazine, The Bushcraft Journal, Walk magazine (Rambler's in-house magazine) as well as contributing to a couple of books. During the Q&A session, I was delighted to hear that he was in the process of writing his own book – Wilderness Axe Skills and Campcraft. It was published in June this year and I’m proud to own a signed copy. You can get yours here:
An easily understandable guide to key skills for bushcrafters, campers, outdoors lovers, and anyone interested in wilderness living. Kirtley, one of the leading bushcraft educators globally, teaches outdoor knowledge through courses, demonstrations, and more. This is his first book, distilling many years of outdoor experience and nearly two decades of teaching wilderness bushcraft skills. Clear and comprehensive chapters deliver wilderness axe skills and
https://wildernessaxeskills.com/ - 11 -
campcraft knowledge from start to finish. You’ll begin with learning how to select the correct tools for the task, caring for the tools, then applying everyday axe techniques. Next, learn felling, limbing, and sectioning trees, followed by carving techniques and projects. Then Kirtley teaches campcraft projects large and small. Through detailed explanations and step-by-step photo sequences, you too will be able to develop effective and timesaving campcraft skills using materials freely available in the woods, including pot hangers, tripods, cranes, and a variety of group camp set-ups. An indispensable addition to any bushcraft, woodcraft camping, and outdoor library. As well as signed copies from Paul’s website, the book is available to buy on Amazon:
https://bookgoodies.com/a/0764361481 My Book Review The book arrived in perfect time for my own weekend away in my little woodland. Once the usual camp chores were done, the fire lit and the children fed, it was my time to relax. And what better way to relax than gently swinging in a hammock under the trees, a mug of coffee in one hand and a good book in the other? It was the perfect setting to read it, and definitely worth the wait. Firstly, it is a clear and well-presented book, packed with colourful photographs that are both
instructional and beautiful to look at. The instructions alone are clear and easy to follow however, the photographs add further clarity. This is unlike other bushcraft books I’ve read, which only cover the basics for beginners, instead it concentrates on the tools needed for various bushcraft and campcraft jobs, focusing on the safe and correct way to use them. It takes the basic skills and adds a greater depth of knowledge. The sections on using the right tool for the job are clear enough for a beginner to follow, yet contain enough information for a seasoned bushcrafter to hone their skills and learn new techniques. Personally, I liked the sections on carving techniques and woodland campcraft, as there were many practical projects to try that even my children could master, but my husband was most interested in the sharpening techniques – something for everyone. There is a vast amount of knowledge packed into this beautifully presented book, and it would be a valuable addition to your book collection.
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: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/sylva-fae/
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Laughter by Stan Phillips We write of light and love. We speak of the search for soul. And teach of being present in every moment All the deliberations on life and the living of it, all the serious issues that occupy our butterfly minds to fill our days with stress and anxiety, are grist to the mill of the spiritual life coach. But they are as nothing in the absence of the one thing that completes us, and is rarely spoken of by the 'gurus' of our world. And is crucial to our well being. And that is laughter.
And maybe share it with your friends on Facebook.
A smile. A chuckle.
Oh yes, let your laughter ripple around the often far too serious world of well being.
And, as Freud might well have said:
A belly laugh.
"Let's all have a 'giraffe'"
That strange irresistible force that rises from some deep place within us and explodes into our days.
Stan Phillips 2020 ©
Yes, laughter is essential to us. So find something today that makes you chortle and sets the room alight with merriment.
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: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips - 13 -
Scenic Utah by Melanie P. Smith
© MPSmith Publishing
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The Olympics: A Potted History by Wendy H. Jones As you read this, The Olympic Games, more accurately known as the Summer Olympics, will be halfway through; people from countries around the world will be rooting for their athletes to win, medals will have been won, and tears will have been shed. Wherever you are in the world you could not have escaped Olympic fever. I love the Olympics and root for Team GB every step of the way. That does not mean I do not cheer loudly for anyone from another country who wins a medal as I can appreciate the effort they have put in to win that medal. I recently had a children’s picture book published, Bertie at the Worldwide Games, which introduces children to sporting events such as the Olympics. This got me thinking about the history of the Olympics and where it all started. How did it grow into what we see today? I’m always curious and you can bet your last penny on the fact that a child will ask this very question. Rumour has it that Zeus, the son of Heracles actually founded the Olympics. Why not, as he was the ruler of all other Gods on Mount Olympus which is where the name Olympics originates. If we remain more tethered in the real, rather than mythical, world the first written records of the ancient Olympics have Coroebus, a cook by trade, winning the one and only event. This written record was an inscription found at Mount Olympus. The event was a 192-meter footrace, which took place in 776 B.C. Incidentally, this race was called the Stade, and this is where the word stadium supposedly originates.
sounded when the Christian Emperor Theodosius called them to a halt, saying they were a pagan festival.
It wasn’t until 1896 that the first modern Olympics were held in Athens in Greece. By this point there were 46 events and swimming, athletics, fencing, tennis, and weightlifting had all been added. It is interesting to note that in these first modern Olympic games, all the athletes were men. The Olympics have been held every four years since then, with the exception of 1916 (First World War) and 1940 and 1944 (Second World War). As the years progress more events have been added and the Olympics take place in different countries around the world, this year the host being Tokyo. This year’s Olympics were delayed for a year due to the COVID Pandemic and for the first time will be held with no spectators. I cannot help but feel sorry for the athletes who will be competing without the roar of the crowd to speed them on.
Fast forward a few hundred years where the games, taking place in the shadow of Mount Olympus, had many more events – running, pentathlon, wrestling, boxing, and equestrian events amongst others. Over the years standards declined and it is said the Emperor Nero declared himself the winner despite having fallen from his chariot in the middle of the race and not actually winning. The death knell - 16 -
In 1960, Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila won the marathon - running barefoot. He was the first black African Gold Medallist, and he took his second Gold Medal in the 1964 Olympic Marathon. The actor Johnny Weissmuller, who played Tarzan won five Gold Medals for swimming in the 1920’s. The relay torch and the Olympic flame are required to burn throughout the whole Olympics. Should it go out, it must be lit from a backup torch. This back up torch must have been lit in Greece as well, so the Olympic Torch always gives honour to the games’ roots in Greece. Tokyo Olympics Some Interesting Facts As I am Scottish, I cannot write an article about the Olympics without mentioning Eric Liddell. Liddell, who was nicknamed the Flying Scotsman, was a devout Christian who, in Paris in 1924, refused to run a qualifying race for the 100-metres on a Sunday. He therefore had to forfeit this, his best, race. Instead, he competed in the 400-meteres and not only won a Gold Medal but broke the world record.
Although being held in 2021 they are actually called the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics due to the delay. From its humble roots in 776 B.C. with one race, there will be 339 events in 33 sports and 50 disciplines, with 11,238 athletes expected to compete. I would like to finish by saying an enormous, good luck to all those athletes. Whether they win or lose, they have trained hard and proved that they have a place to represent their countries in the hardest games in the world.
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: https://www.wendyhjones.com/ - 17 -
Title at the Worldwide Games Bertie by Wendy Stan Phillips H. Jones Reviewed by Sylva Fae
reading together. This book is Bertie’s second one, and it is based around the Olympics. Bertie at the Worldwide Games can be read as a standalone book but I think children would love to have both stories to read together.
Reviewing children’s books is a little different to reviewing ‘grown-up’ books. I find myself reviewing with different hats on – each connected but a slightly different perspective. First is my mum hat, second (but most important) is the reaction of the children I’m reading to, and finally, I can’t help but put my children’s author hat back on.
The Child Review My girls are the biggest critics ever, however they are not always the best at describing their views in words. Their reactions range from getting up and walking away, to mild distraction, to engaging and questioning, and finally the height of praise is wanting the story read again (and again, and again). You can tell our family favourites by how well-read and tatty the books are. Bertie was a ‘read again’ story, and will no doubt become very tatty over time.
The Mum Review As mum, this is a great book to read aloud, with a fun, bouncing, rhyming rhythm to each page. My Scottish accent is rubbish but I gave it a go to add to the character of Bertie Buffalo, and my efforts were appreciated, if not authentic. This is the kind of story to inspire children to be active, it energised my wee listeners, so with that in mind I wouldn’t recommend it as a bedtime story. It is definitely a story to read before going out to play, to encourage children to run and exercise and be generally active. I can imagine this being a great story to read to a nursery or reception class, or as a theme for school sports day. I also liked the fact that Bertie didn’t win every race, and that was OK. The book teaches children that they’re not going to win at everything but it’s important to give everything your best effort. The story also teaches the importance of teamwork, and when Bertie worked with his friends, they won the race together. All great messages for children this age to understand, and it finished with a happy ending.
Their first comments were how cute Bertie was and they also liked that his animal friends were unusual compared to the usual characters found in children’s books. They also enjoyed discussing the animals from other countries and their different skills. Fellow Children’s Author Review Firstly, I thought the book was beautifully presented with simple and engaging illustrations, perfect for the intended readers. It is quite a long book but it meant that each rhyming section had its own page, with plenty of illustrations to hold the child’s attention during the reading. I liked that the positive messages throughout the book were subtle, allowing the young audience to deduce their own meanings. It also sets a framework for parents / teachers to discuss subjects like effort, teamwork and winning.
I heard from the author that the original Bertie the Buffalo book is based on a true story of a baby water buffalo that went missing from a farm in Fife in Scotland. He was roaming around the countryside on his own for 14 days until he returned. My girls were fascinated with this and it added to the fun of
Whichever hat I wear, Bertie at the Worldwide Games gets an easy five stars from me. - 18 -
Wendy H. Jones Interviewed by Melanie P. Smith It’s that time again… the Summer Olympic Games are in full-swing. As such, it seemed like a great time to interview Author Wendy H. Jones to discuss her new release — Bertie at the Worldwide Games. Wendy is a multi-genre author who writes mysteries, non-fiction, and children’s books. We reached out to learn more about her work and her career. As an added treat, she also agreed to answer a few questions from Bertie’s perspective. So, let’s get started…
Wendy, Can you tell us a little about yourself? I am the author Wendy H. Jones and I write books to cover you from the cradle to the grave – adult mysteries, young adult mysteries, children’s picture books and non-fiction books for writers. I live in Scotland but before the pandemic could be found all over the world writing and speaking at conferences. Fortunately, my three favourite things to do are reading, writing and travelling, so this is the perfect career for me.
Tokyo to represent Scotland. Bertie is a baby water buffalo who lives on a buffalo farm in Scotland.
Let’s take a break here and get to know Bertie a little better… Bertie the Buffalo is a baby water buffalo who appears in the books Bertie the Buffalo and Bertie at the Worldwide Games. The first book is based on a true story as Bertie is a real buffalo who ran away from a farm in Scotland and was missing for 14 days.
What inspired you to write your first book? To be honest I just had an idea for a book and started writing it. I wrote a blog post saying I was writing it and everyone was so encouraging I just kept going.
Bertie, Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Bertie: I’m still a baby so I’m not grown up yet. I’m having an amazing childhood as I get to play on the farm every day and go on adventures.
Tell us your latest news My latest book is Bertie at the Worldwide Games where Bertie the Buffalo and his friends are off to - 19 -
What makes Bertie so special?
What are your dreams for the future?
I’m a Scottish Buffalo who loves adventure and I also get to wear a kilt. My clan tartan is Ancient MacLaren the same as the lady who wrote me. I’m also known as Scotland’s very own wee escape artist and have my own twitter account.
To have lots and lots more adventures and keep on running really, really fast. I also want to see myself on screen. If you could go anywhere with one person, who would you take and where would you go?
Tell me about your reputation and how it has impacted your life and your relationship. I’ve got a reputation as a buffalo who likes to have fun. This means everyone wants to hang out with me. I like having adventures with my friends Emma the Emu, Hezzie, Jack, seven and Ari the Alpaca.
That’s hard as I love all my friends. I suppose I would like to do a world tour with the lady who wrote me. She’s already taken me on a cruise around the Caribbean and for my own book tour for 8 weeks to several American States.
Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you wished you had done differently?
Describe something that happened to you for which you have no explanation.
I’m a bit young to be having regrets. I’ve enjoyed all my adventures and they’ve taken me places I never know I would go, so I’m glad I had them.
I got invited to the Worldwide Games in Tokyo. Who can explain a wee Scottish Buffalo doing that.
What was the best compliment you have ever received?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
That my books are so much fun for little ones and that I look cute.
I’m a buffalo who doesn’t grow up, a bit like an animal version of Peter Pan. I would like to see myself starring in my own TV series in 5 years. - 20 -
If you could go to anyone (living or dead) for advice who would it be and what would you ask? I would ask my friend Ari the Alpaca as she’s been all over the world and has stickers on her suitcase to prove it. She knows everything. I would ask her how she managed to go on so many adventures. Mountains or Beach? Beach as I love water. Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with? Even baby water buffalo are too big to go in an elevator. My stuffed toy doppelganger has been in numerous elevators and would like to meet Hamish McHaggis in one.
Now that we know Bertie a little better, let’s get back to his creator. *****
When and why did you begin writing? I started writing at about the age of seven and have always loved words. When I travelled around the world, I wrote about what I was doing and where I was. I started writing seriously when I worked in Academia and wrote for academic journals and also textbooks. I turned to writing fiction seven years ago when I was chronically ill with my lungs. I didn’t need much energy to write and could do it sitting down. I’m recovered now but my writing remains.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? When I started writing my first novel.
Will we be seeing more of you in the future or has your story already been told?
What inspired you to write your first book?
There’s another adventure being written, and my publishers are excited about it. I’m not allowed to say any more yet.
To be honest I just had an idea for a book and started writing it. I wrote a blog post saying I was writing it and everyone was so encouraging I just kept going.
If you could change one thing about the world… what would it be?
Do you have a specific writing style?
I would want everyone to be nice to each other.
Tell us about your best friend and what makes them so special. My friends are Ari the Alpaca, Jack, Hezzie, Seven and Emma the Emu. They are all special because they all have different talents and they all like having fun and adventures.
There is a lot of humour in my books and I think that makes me distinctive.
How did you come up with the title for your last book?
I wanted Bertie and His friends to go on an adventure to the Olympics as they all love running, so it was a perfect fit, especially with the Olympics coming up. However, you can’t use the Olympic name without sponsoring them, so I made it the Worldwide Games. - 21 -
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Can you share a sample of your current work with us?
My biggest problem is I have far too many ideas. Time is also a big issue. There never seem to be enough hours in the day.
I will give you two. One for children and one for adults.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Bertie Goes to the Worldwide Games
Thank you for reading them and for saying you enjoy them so much. It means a lot to an author.
Ari the Alpaca ran right up to them, she shouted full of glee,
What are your current projects?
Bertie you’ve got a letter, why don’t you open it and see, Bertie ripped it open, the letterhead was clear,
I am writing the next Bertie the Buffalo book, the next Fergus and Flora book and will be publishing the third book in the Writing Matters series in September. This is called Creativity Matters: Find Your passion for Writing and is aimed at writers and anyone interested in writing a book. This is a collaborative project and other authors are contributing chapters.
You’re invited to the Worldwide Games, happening next year. Killer’s Curse A robin trilled, the only sound disturbing the otherwise peaceful scene. A thin layer of snow carpeted the woods in a glittering white blanket and coated the bare, skeletonised, branches of the surrounding trees. Tiny icicles hung in a sparkling curtain - a myriad of festive ornaments ready for the Christmas season. Nature displayed its glorious winter beauty. The robin’s breast wasn’t the only red to be found in the woods that day. Red the colour of rage, the colour of death and, conversely, the Chinese colour for luck, happiness and good fortune. The bodies lying on the ground, an equal pairing, wore clothes of scarlet, a colour mimicked by the blood that stained the otherwise pristine snow. Red hadn’t brought them much luck.
Killer’s curse, the seventh DI Shona McKenzie Mystery, will be out in the next few weeks - 22 -
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? In Bertie Goes to the Worldwide Games, I wanted children to learn about celebrating diversity, that taking part is important and that you have much more fun if you do things with your friends.
What books have most influenced your life most? This is a tricky one as I have been a reader all my life. In terms of children’s books, I remember having many books at home but can’t remember what I read until I got to reading books like the Famous Five, Secret Seven, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys etc. By the age of ten I had worked my way through every children’s book at the library and was reading adult books such as Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie etc.
One final question...Do you have a blog orwebsite? If so, what is it? My website can be found at What do you want written on your headstone and why?
She brought joy to others. I want to be known as someone who brought some happiness into the world.
http://www.wendyhjones.com/ I am Wendy H. Jones on all online platforms.
Long before she delved into the world of fantasy and suspense, Melanie P. Smith served nearly three decades in the Special Operations Division at her local sheriff’s office working with SWAT, Search & Rescue, K9, the Motor Unit, Investigations and the Child Abduction Response Team. She now uses that training and knowledge to create stories that are action-packed, gripping and realistic. When Melanie’s not writing, she can be found riding her Harley, exploring the wilderness or capturing that next great photo. Learn more about Melanie on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/melanie-p-smith
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School Holidays Submitted by Poppy Flynn Written by Ollie Age 12 The school holidays are here! Most kids are in upheaval, just like me. In no time we jump out of bed to face only the excitement. We get to spend time doing nothing but what we please, awaiting for school again.
Every day feels like Saturday. We don't do anything.
I can ignore my math homework and go kayaking on the lake,
We can stay up late at night and watch TV with our friends,
Or go on hikes with my friends.
Or read comic books all night under the pleasant summer skies.
All work and no play, what's that?
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Coachella by Anthony Randall Not so long ago, on a road trip in the states, I had the pleasure of staying in a house on a luxurious five-star golf resort at La Quinta, near Palm Springs, California. The house belonged to my buddy’s brother-in-law, a well-known actor who shall remain anonymous for two reasons, to respect his privacy of course, but also because he still doesn’t know about the incident that befell us whilst staying at his gaff. The resort is fabulous, it has its own golf course and a multitude of superb facilities, lots of swimming pools, restaurants, and shops. It’s so equipped; you really don’t have to leave the resort at all if you just want to chill and relax. The complex is immaculate, the palm-lined streets are quiet and kept pristine by an army of grounds people, who are polite a very discreet, and by far, the best way to get about the sprawling resort is with a golf buggy, of which our house had its own nestled snugly in the garage, a fairly new Harley Davidson number, in black and metallic silver, with a likewise Union Jack emblazoned on the roof. It was a very good-looking machine that drew a lot of attention, and whilst we were there, we utilized it to its full potential.
Empire Polo Club grounds, Indio, about five miles up the road from where we were staying. Shane had been to the festival the previous year and was psyched about going again, and although it was geared mostly for teenagers and young adults, it was an opportunity not to be missed, and being a musician, I was keen to experience it. The brother-in-law had even coughed up a hefty sum for two tickets to attend the festival over the entire weekend, so we also felt obliged to go.
As you can imagine, it is an expensive place to vacation, but because we were ‘family’, my buddy and I got to crash there for free, just the two of us in the lap of luxury, for this was a holiday home, and Shane’s sister and brother-in-law were up in LA at their regular place.
On Friday, we spent the day lazing around the pool, drinking beer and free tequila shots from the cowgirls peddling an uncommon brand of Mexican mouthwash. Then we had a delicious meal at one of the top-notch restaurants on the complex,
Our trip happened to coincide with the Coachella valley music and arts festival, held every year in - 25 -
before showering, getting spruced up, and ordering an Uber to take us to the polo grounds for 8:00 p.m. Our intention was to take some photographs of the sunset waning behind the rows of epic towering palm trees and the outlandish sculptures and attractions dotted around the fields. We were dropped by the Uber driver as close as he could get to the grounds, for the place was rammed with pedestrians all heading in one direction, a mega herd of scantily clad youth. The temperature at this time of night was still in the upper 20’s C, a strong tailwind blew up dust from the bone dry field, choking the air, causing many to cover their faces with scarves and bandanas, it was horrific. This was like no other showground I’d ever been to, it was massive. Including the camping grounds and parking lots, it covered an area of 642 acres, and we had to tramp with the throng for half a mile just to get to the entrances.
Now, to put you in the picture, this event is enormous and spawns millions of dollars, 2017 was attended by 250,000 people and generated $114m in revenue, so the entire city police force, plus endless stewards, security guys and hi-viz volunteers, coordinate to effectively shut down the streets surrounding the venue, creating one-way systems,
with busses and cars having separate routes in and out of the parking areas. There are high steel barriers and roadblocks everywhere, and everything takes a very long time to get done. Once through security checks, and having lined up for an ID check to get a wristband proving we were over 21, to get alcohol, we were in and free to roam the vast array of tented stages, rides, exhibitions, and sideshows. Shane was effervescent, leading me here, there, and everywhere, with a “Come on, let’s look at this,” vibe. I followed, well he’d done it before, so he knew all the good things to see, and there were some definite eye-openers, mostly the costumes, or lack of, that the youngsters wore, but now I am sounding my age. We watched a couple of bands, but mostly the stages this year were occupied with solitary DJs pumping out club mixes of their own making and whipping their following up to an unfathomable frenzy. This wasn’t our cup of tea, and according to Shane, not a patch on the previous year, when there were more live acts and famous names.
Plodding around until around 10:00 p.m. eating dust, washed down with expensive beer, we decided to call it a day and try again tomorrow. Maybe there’d be some better acts the next day. Walking back to the Uber drop-off area took ages; my feet, in ill-fitting trainers, were killing me. When - 26 -
we arrived, there was an hour’s wait for a cab, so instead of doing that, we felt it a good idea to exit the grounds, walk a block or two and then call for an Uber away from the chaos. None were available for hours, so we carried on walking, me with my aching feet complaining all the way. We had five miles to walk home, and I definitely wasn’t fit enough to do that, but luck would have it, a car pulled up, driven by a Lift driver, and asked us if we needed a ride. Too right we did, climbing onto cool leather seats in an air-conditioned environment, never felt so good, and within minutes we were back to the sane, cricket chirruping serenity of the golf resort, shoeless and at last content.
“Sure, you can drive these babies on the road; it’ll get ya up there and back on a full charge. Just park it at the club and walk across the street. If you go in through the worker’s entrance, which is right there, no one will stop you; it’ll save you having to line up around the other side of the block.” It was like a revelation, a free ride, and a whole lot less bother. We thanked him for the heads-up and trundled off for a fry-up. After another grueling day of sunbathing, swimming, and dipping in the Jacuzzi, we decided to have a longer spell at Coachella and eat there. After all, it was going to be a breeze, and we could relax and take things at our leisure. We changed into suitable clothing, shorts, a light shirt, hats, sunglasses and open-toed sandals, and set off on our slow, but fanciful source of transport. Still slightly dubious if this was legal or not, because we were passed dangerously close by speeding, honking cars and trucks as we crawled along by the curb, but we went by several parked police vehicles and not one of them paid the slightest bit of attention to us, so we thought it must be alright to drive a golf buggy up the main highway.
The next morning at 9:00a.m, our slumber was interrupted by the cleaner, wrapping on the bedroom doors wanting entry to carry out her chores. She wasn’t used to rousing a couple of British layabouts intent on squeezing the life out of charitable hospitality and was slightly miffed. Washed and dressed, we headed for the garage to unhook the Harley from its charging plug and aim it towards a restaurant for breakfast. Outside, waiting in the sunshine for his wife, was the cleaners husband, a man we had met before working at an exclusive golf club up in Indio, directly opposite the Polo club, a place where Shane's brother-in-law was a regular member, we’d been there for breakfast one time, extremely rich people played each other there for a pastime and large wagers of cash.
Arriving at the first set of steel barriers, manned by cops and security staff alike, we were amazed as they literally stopped the tide of human traffic crossing the street, and ushered us through as though we were entitled, dignitaries. This happened not once, but many times as we curtailed the restrictions and roadblocks, circumnavigating the perimeter of the venue, and ventured to the sanctuary of the golf club car park, laughing our heads off at our audacity and the way we had been given privilege. Perhaps they thought we were staff, other golf buggies were zooming around, but none anywhere near as bling as ours.
We stopped for a chat, explaining where we had been the night before, and what a drag it was to get in and out of the show grounds. “Why don’t you just take the Harley up there?” suggested the husband. We looked at each other with incredulous eyes. “You can do that?” I doubtfully enquired.
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concern opened a flap in the polythene wall and let us through. Boom, we emerged out of the hubbub, onto the calm of Monroe, a wide deserted street, and rather like Keyser Söze at the end of The Usual Suspects, Shane straightened up in stride all pleased with himself that he’s fooled the guy, and we crossed the road like we’d just escape jail. Back on the buggy, we crossed back over the street and got onto the dirt path that wrapped around the festival, and headed north up to the corner of Avenue 50. A left turn here would take us all the way back to La Quinta on one road. But the corner was thick with security staff and unlike the salubrious path we had navigated before, our celebrity status had evaporated like dry ice and they would not let us through. One guy was absolutely flabbergasted as to how we had got up here in the first place on a golf buggy, they weren’t licensed for the road, and he demanded we take the thing back to the golf course and get a taxi home.
As the husband had said, it was easy to stroll through the worker’s entrance. We had our wristbands on, but nobody checked to see if we were staff or not. There were some decent bands on in the afternoon, we laid on the grass and chilled while the sun descended behind the mountains, ate pizza and drank expensive beer, took plenty of photographs, and enjoyed the multitude of attractions, including the multi-coloured light cylinder called Spectra, the giant spaceman and the Ferris wheel, but by 11:00 p.m, we were pooped, it was time to leave.
Of course, we weren’t going to do that, so we turned around and headed back the way we came. We’d have to go two blocks (two miles) in the wrong direction before we could turn right and go around the showgrounds in two-mile chunks before we could eventually turn left again on Avenue 50 away from the cluster of unreasonable job’s worths.
Wanting to exit onto Monroe, the street where the golf club was situated, we tried to go through an emergency exit which was heavily manned by security staff. They were adamant not to let us through, advising that we instead should walk to the proper exits, a good half-mile in the opposite direction to where we wanted to be.
It was such a drag, but the only way to get home along with the buggy.
Bugger that, we thought and wandered up to the next emergency exit, which luck would have it, was only manned by one young guy brandishing a ‘walkie-talkie’.
On the way, we picked up a hitchhiker, plus rucksack, who was quite elated to be given a ride on the rear bench seat for a couple of blocks. He was a nice guy, but extra baggage we could do without.
“Watch this,” said Shane, as he put on a limp and a grimace, and held his back like he was in real pain.
It was getting chilly now and the winds were whipping up again, all we had on were clothes fit for a blazing hot day, and the temperature had dropped significantly during the evening. We trundled on, down Avenue 52, passed cops, fingers crossed that
“I’ve done me back in, I’ve done me back in, let me out, let me out, quick,” he raged at the doorman, who without hesitation and a certain amount of - 28 -
we would not be stopped, gritting our chattering teeth and saying “don’t look, don’t look.” No one looked; we kept going, right turned onto Jefferson St and down to Avenue 50, where we had to negotiate across three-lane busy traffic and then wait in line for traffic lights, to turn left on the major junction.
little warmth from this dude. He radioed back to his headquarters, who unequivocally said no, we couldn’t leave the vehicle there. We tried remonstrating with him. What were we supposed to do, push it down the Avenue three miles? But all he would say was “I don’t know guys, I don’t know, but you can’t leave it here.” It was a nightmare.
It was going across this box section that we noticed a drastic lowering of power in the machine; she then began lurching, operating on just vapour. If we came to a halt in the middle of this crossroads, it would cause a monstrous holdup. Miraculously she found more life and we nursed her onwards, but she was way down into the red on the power indicator and moving at only a walking pace with Shane’s foot welded to the floor.
He then, oddly, out of sync with the situation, asked us to tell him some English jokes, saying that he loved Fawlty Towers and Monty Python, he then farted the loudest trump I’d ever heard, and went and took a piss up against a palm tree, it was a lunatic scenario. Wealthy people were coming and going from the community in their expensive cars and giving us filthy looks for blocking their drive, there seemed to be little compassion for a couple of destitute Brits here.
Horror was leaching through our veins, if we had to abandon the buggy here, she would either get smashed to bits by passing traffic or stolen, each scenario ending us up in deep kaka. With the last gasps of electricity, Shane rolled the buggy into the horseshoe drive of a high-end gated community, and rolled to a stop beside a private security guy, in blue uniform, complete with a sidearm, sitting in a deck chair beside the gate.
Eventually after listening and comprehending our story of woe, the guard warmed to us, commenting with incredulity, “That’s the most random thing I’ve ever heard,” twice. Shane pleaded with him again to let us use his phone, and this time he relented, giving us “One call!” like it was the most precious thing on earth to give to anyone. Shane got the number of a local breakdown service and called them, it was about 1:00 a.m now, but thankfully they had a 24-hour service.
Now, this was the oddest fella you are ever likely to meet. He was reminiscent of a hyperbolic character from a 1980s John Hughes film, an untraveled, narrow-minded hick that had probably never even left the county before. He was wide-eyed at everything we said to him, suspicious of our intent and resolute that we could not park the buggy here under any circumstances, even though we made it quite clear that the thing had run out of power. All he kept repeating in his Top Cat cartoon voice was “I dunno you guys, I dunno.”
We waited, freezing our nuts off, telling very dated English jokes, amusing our new friend, until half an hour later, when the biggest breakdown recovery truck I’d ever seen, lit up like a Christmas tree, sped past our turning and disappeared down the road.
He wouldn’t let us push it inside the gates and he wouldn’t let us use his phone to call for help. I was physically shaking now with the cold and getting
Shane ran out to Avenue 50 in an attempt to flag the driver down, but he was gone. Returning to the buggy, my mate blagged once more the use of the - 29 -
reluctant security guard’s mobile phone, calling back the breakdown service, who rerouted the driver our way. This time he found us and reversed his huge emblazoned black and chromeplated truck up to our position. And after another abridged explanation as to how we ended up in this cul-de-sac, to the incredulous, overall-wearing vehicle recovery guy, he lowered the hydraulically controlled the rear ramp on his expensive bit of kit, unravelled a chain, and winched our forlorn little Harley onto the polished aluminium runners, then clamped it down in the centre of the flatbed. It looked pathetically minute piggybacked to this leviathan, which could easily have hauled up a seven-ton truck onto its rear. Our cart looked ridiculous.
We thanked the odd security guy for helping us out, and bid him goodnight, he’d have a fascinatingly ‘random’ tale to tell for the rest of his life.
The recovery guy found us amusing, yet kept it professional. We could tell he thought us a couple of dimwits, but was cordial and discretely dropped us back onto the drive of our house at 2:00 a.m, a five-minute journey costing us $260 if you please, hardly the free ride we’d anticipated. As if it had all been a hazy dream, we rolled the Harley into the garage and put her back in charge, then slopped off to bed, stupefied by the whole affair.
Anthony Randall has resided in Tucson, Arizona, and in Bourlens, France, but now lives in sunny Dorset on the south coast of England by the sea. He has been a singer and songwriter, recording and performing pop songs all over the world. He wrote and published his first novel with his co-author Doug Goddard back in 2005. He is also a regular content provider for MFR. https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/anthony-randall/
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Chess Supplied by Chess.Com White to move. Mate in three.
Supplied by https://chess.com the #1 chess website. Used with permission. For more chess puzzles please visit https://chess.com You can find answers for this activity on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/magazines/activities/ - 31 -
Outdoor Cooking Submitted by Mom’s Authors August is the perfect month for cooking outdoors. Whether you choose to cook on a campfire in the woods, or a barbecue in your back garden, there’s something special about cooking out in the fresh air. It is more a social occasion than a method of feeding family and friends and campfire / barbecue cooking brings people together in a magical way.
Here are a few ideas from around the world: •
bacon, pancakes and blueberries, pancakes and honey, pancakes and maple syrup, pancakes and tinned fruit, pancakes and Nutella, pancakes and lemon juice and sugar, pancakes with cheese and ham…… the list could go on but I’m sure you get the idea. There’s something for everyone. On this note, pancakes can also be modified to take account of food intolerances and allergies. Pancakes can be made with gluten free flour instead of regular flour, soya milk or almond milk instead of regular milk. I like pancakes made with and cooked in butter, especially if they are with sweet accompaniments but vegetable oil can also be used for those who don’t want any dairy.
Guest writer, Paul Kirtley (England), shares his favourite campfire breakfast.
Mom’s Favorite Reads authors • • • •
Ceri Bladen (Turkey) shares her recipe for Turkish style Chicken Skewers (Tavuk şiş) Adrian Czarnecki (USA) shares his favourite steak marinade. Val Tobin (Canada) shares a sweet treat recipe – sour cream cookies Melanie P. Smith (USA) shares a family favorite – Savory Potato Salad & Fresh Lemonade
One of my favourite things to cook on the campfire is pancakes, not just because I like pancakes but also because of the smile pancakes bring to other people’s faces. Many people like pancakes and just the mention of “I’m cooking pancakes for breakfast today”, brightens the morning mood.
When it comes to cooking in camp, there is some equipment we will need, and likely have, for cooking pancakes. There is also some equipment we might have in a kitchen at home but are less likely have out by the campfire. A frying pan and a spatula are the main tools you need. In camp I’ll mix the pancake mix in a spare stainless steel cooking pot or billy can. I don’t usually carry a whisk. A serving spoon will suffice to mix the ingredients and beat the pancake batter.
Pancakes are versatile. You can combine a range of sweet and savoury foods with them. Pancakes and
To make sure everyone is on the same page, let’s start with the basics. To make pancakes you need
Campfire Pancakes by Paul Kirtley
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Baking powder makes pancakes rise a little.
Companions of the author take to the pancake helm during a wilderness canoe trip.
three core ingredients, eggs, flour and milk. You also have the option of adding a little baking powder to raise the pancakes a little and make them fluffy. Some form of fat is needed for the pan at least.
the powder in with other dry ingredients before adding water, or to mix the milk powder with water then add this to the pancake mix. I prefer the latter as it provides more control over the consistency. So mix the powdered milk as per the instructions on the packet or tub. See below for amounts.
At home, we’d use fresh eggs and fresh milk to make our pancake mix. If you are living in a fixed camp, or making a vehicle-based trip, then you might have fresh eggs, at least to begin with. Less likely is fresh milk, as without a fridge it goes off quickly, especially in summer. UHT milk stores for a good amount of time and can be used too.
If you can’t carry fresh eggs, then you will have to resort to powdered eggs. These work perfectly well and I always try to add them on canoe trips in Canada, where powdered egg is easy to come by, even in camping stores. In other countries, powdered egg generally seems a lot harder to find in regular stores. I’m certainly not a body builder but I’ve found that body-building nutrition and supplement suppliers often carry powdered egg.
Campfire pancakes always seem to bring a smile.
Otherwise, we can use powdered milk. There is also powdered soya milk available these days too. You have two options with using powdered milk, to mix
Pancakes cook best on hot embers, rather than searing flames. - 33 -
Pancakes and scrambled egg. What will you have with yours?
Another happy camper – pancakes, fruit and syrup.
All photos by © Paul Kirtley
Then start adding the milk, mixing as you go. Break the dough down with the spoon and start to beat the mix as it becomes thinner. There will be lumps. Squash these against the side of the mixing pot with the base of the spoon. A few small lumps won’t be a problem, but do your best to squish as many of them as possible.
Keep adding the milk until you have a batter the consistency of single cream. That’s single cream, not double cream. So, you see this basic recipe can be applied whether the base ingredients are fresh or all powdered.
Pancakes – Campfire Pragmatism I’ve spent a good amount of time experimenting with field expedient campfire cooking recipes and here’s what I find works consistently for cooking pancakes on a campfire, both for me and for others I show this method to. ♦
One egg per person.
One handful of plain flour per person.
Enough milk to create a mix which is the consistency of single cream.
Expedition Pancakes – Dry Ingredients Only If you are using powdered egg and powdered milk, here’s a method. Look at the powdered egg packet and work out how much powder is equivalent to one egg. Add this amount per person (i.e. one egg per person). Add one handful of flour per person. Mix this dry mix of egg and flour before adding any liquid. If you are going to add any baking powder (no more than a teaspoon per 6 people), mix this into the dry mix too (dry ingredients should always be mixed before adding liquid).
On the face of it, this pancake mix is a little vague. But I’m preparing you for camping situations or expeditions here. We don’t take kitchen scales with us. In terms of measuring jugs, the nearest we’ll probably have is a camping mug with a couple of volume measurements on the side.
Mix the powdered milk with water in a separate container as per the instructions on the milk packet. Stir in the milk to the egg-flour powder mix until it is the consistency of single cream.
The way we apply the basic pancake mix is to add the flour to the mixing container. Then crack the eggs into the flour. Mix with a spoon. This will make a solid dough. - 34 -
Pancakes – The Fat Bit You can use vegetable oil, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, suet or lard to make pancakes. You need most of it for the pan, to stop the pancakes sticking, as well as to add a little flavour. Personally, while I love olive oil in general, it’s my least favourite option for pancakes unless I’m making savoury pancakes. Butter is by far the best tasting fat to use with pancakes to my palate. You should melt some in the pan and drain off the excess into a metal container which you can keep near the fire to keep it liquid. I find the insert of a Zebra billy can ideal for this but there are of course many other options. The secret to using butter for good campfire pancakes is to melt a knob of butter, then add it to the pancake batter before you start cooking any pancakes. Mix the liquid fat into the batter mix. I have Delia Smith to thank for this idea. As already mentioned though, if dairy is not an option, substitute another form of fat.
Campfire Pancakes – The Cooking Part It’s easy to burn pancakes. Ideally, you’ll have a good bed of hardwood embers onto which you can place your pancake pan. Alternatively, a bit of charcoal will help a lot, especially if the local firewood is mainly softwoods. If you have a few flames from your fire, hold or suspend the pan further away from the ground, so the mix is not heated too quickly in the pan.
Turkish style Chicken Skewers (Tavuk şiş) by Ceri Bladen Ingredients:
Add the pan to the heat. Add some butter (or oil) and ensure the whole pan has a coating. Pour off the excess into the reservoir you are keeping warm. Add a little batter – an eating spoon full for example – to make sure the pan is up to heat. Once the small amount of batter has solidified, remove this and add a full pancake portion. My measure for one person is a standard ladle full. This gives a decent pancake in a 10”/250mm fry pan. You should get a couple of pancakes per person out of your standard mix. Add a few rashers of bacon and some maple syrup, along with a mug of coffee, then I’m well set for my day of outdoor activity.
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2 skinless chicken breasts
1 onion (medium)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste (Turkish salca)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
My ‘BBQ Steaks by whimsical cook Adrian Czarnecki BBQs are for any month any day and other than burgers you simply cannot beat a steak be it a Rib Eye or a T-Bone. How I do them, like them is not for the faint hearted as you’ll have your friends thinking you’ve set you BBQ on fire as yep, flames everywhere – oh so much fun but the end result is so darned tasty, juicy and delicious.
Cut the meat into bite-sized cubes
Grate (not cut, this is important) the onion and garlic to make a pulp
Place the pulp and juice into a fine mesh strainer
Using a wooden spoon, press out the juice into a separate bowl
Discard the onion and garlic pulp (or use in another recipe)
Combine the onion-garlic juice, yogurt, oil, tomato paste, black pepper, paprika, and a little salt
Add the cubed chicken and toss
Cover the bowl and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours, or overnight for the best results
Preheat a grill to medium
Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade
Thread onto small metal or soaked bamboo kebab skewers
Sprinkle kebabs with salt and put them on the grill
Grill evenly on all sides (around 12 minutes total)
Sprinkle the oregano, paprika and sumac over the hot kebabs for extra flavour
It’s all very simply really. Here we have two nice Rib Eye steaks of about a 1.5 lbs (24 oz = 680 gms) each that have been marinaded for 2 to 3 hours. The BBQ is on high and I mean HIGH. Up to at least 450 degree’s but if it gets hotter that’s OK. OK up to temperature on go the steaks for 3 minutes each side. I like to turn the steaks pretty much every 1.5 minutes but that’s just me BUT when doing so beware of the flames – you do my recipe AT YOUR OWN RISK. Ok 6 minutes is up and you’re looking at your steaks and thinking OMG what have I done ha ha ha ha – you of little faith – smiles all round. Steaks now onto a rack and tented with silver foil for 5 minutes. No need to make a seal just put the foil over the steaks. The 5 minutes tenting is all you need for a medium rare steak.
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FYI, I live in the USA at 3000 feet so cooking times can vary for those of you at sea level so now, serve the steaks with your favorite sides. In my case, today my sides are a baked potato with lashings of butter and a Bacon and Blue Cheese Salad. That’s it enjoy …………..
Here are the ingredients for my marinade ♦
Dijon mustard all mixed together in a bag
HP Sauce or in the USA Heinz 57
You’ll notice the lack of ‘salt’ during my recipe and that’s mainly because Soya Sauce as a rule is quite salty in itself and only add the baking soda if you feel your steaks need a little more tenderizing Mix everything together in a large zip lock so that you can place the steaks inside side by side. Make sure both sides are evenly coated and remember to turn every 30 minutes. Enjoy Put the steaks side by side and flat in a gallon ziplock bag and pour in the marinade and turn to ensure both sides are coated Marinade steaks for a couple of hours turning every 30 minutes. - 37 -
These cookies are soft and sweet and easy to make. Ingredients
Prior to placing steaks on grill grind black pepper each side
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup of butter, softened
1 to 1.5 cups of sugar (depends on how sweet you want the cookies)
1 cup of sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Sour Cream Cookies by Val Tobin (Canada) If you’re a regular reader of Mom’s Favorite Reads, you might have noticed that when I contribute a recipe, it’s a sweet treat. Guess who hates to cook but loves to bake? So when Mom’s wanted barbecue recipes, I once again dug through my recipe box. Instead of contributing a recipe for the barbecue, I’ve got a treat that makes a great addition to any barbecue event.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-size bowl.
Beat together in a large mixing bowl at medium speed the butter, sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy.
Reduce speed and mix in the sour cream and vanilla.
Gradually add in the flour mixture until blended.
Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour until firm.
Roll dough into small balls (about 1 inch) and place on lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (bottoms of cookies should be lightly browned).
Cool cookies completely on wire racks.
Recipe makes about 4 to 5 dozen cookies. These cookies freeze just fine, so if you don’t want to scarf them all in a couple of days, you can store them in the freezer for a month or two.
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Savory Potato Salad By Melanie P. Smith (USA)
Fresh Lemonade By Melanie P. Smith (USA)
6 Eggs, hard-boiled (3 for sauce / 3 garnish)
3/4 Tbsp Hamburger Relish (Sweet)
1 Onion (blend w/ eggs)
1/2 tsp. Garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1/2 tsp Celery Seed
1 Pint (1/2 large bottle) Miracle Whip
Honey Syrup ♦ 1/2 Cup Raw Honey ♦ 2 Cups Water For the Lemonade ♦ 4 Cups Water ♦ Freshly squeezed juice from 6-8 lemons ♦ 2-3 Sliced lemons ♦ Mint or Pineapple Mint sprigs Instructions Honey Syrup — Combine honey and water in sauce pan over medium high heat until honey is dissolved, then set aside.
Combine in large bowl and fold together until thoroughly mixed.
Lemonade — Mix lemon juice and 4 Cups water in a large pitcher. Add 1 cup of the honey syrup mixture and taste. Gradually add additional syrup to reach desired sweetness.
Boil potatoes until soft.
Cut into squares.
Mix in sauce
Garnish with 3 boiled eggs (sliced)
Chill for at least 1 hour
Wash and slice 1-2 whole lemons and place slices in pitcher. Chill for at least 1 hour. Optional — add 2-3 mints sprigs to each glass before serving. You can also substitute 2 sliced limes in place of 1 lemon — or in addition to the lemon slices. - 39 -
Genealogy: Meet My Ancestors by Hannah Howe George Wood and Hannah Quick
George Wood, my 9 x great grandfather, was born on 12 March 1625 in Bonsall, Derbyshire and baptised on 10 January 1632 while Hannah Quick, my 9 x great grandmother, was born in 1635 in Derbyshire. The couple married in 1658 in Matlock, a fact recorded in the Monyash Ashford Meeting of Quakers. Quakers, a Protestant group also known as the Religious Society of Friends, established themselves in mid-seventeenth century England. Undoubtedly, the English Civil War had a strong bearing on their creation and beliefs. George’s union with Hannah was his second marriage. Previously, he married Anne who produced three children before her death in 1656. George and Hannah’s marriage also produced three children, including their last born, my 8 x great grandmother Elinor Wood.
The Quakers based their message on the belief that ‘Christ has come to teach his people himself.’ They stressed the importance of a direct relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and a direct religious belief in the universal priesthood of all believers.
The upheaval of the English Civil War left a deep scar on society, which took generations to heal. In some communities Quakers were accepted while in others they were ostracised and persecuted. At the age of 57 and 47 respectively, George and Hannah made the momentous decision to create new lives for themselves and their children by emigrating to Pennsylvania. They began this hazardous journey on 27 May 1682.
Quakers used thee as an ordinary pronoun. They wore plain dress, were teetotal, refused to swear oaths, refused to participate in wars and opposed slavery. Later, they founded banks and financial institutions, including Friends Provident, Lloyds and Barclays. They also founded three major confectionery makers, Cadbury’s, Fry’s and Roundtree’s. A notable difference between Quakerism and Orthodox Protestantism was that many of the early Quaker ministers were women. Quakers were noted for their philanthropic efforts, which included the abolition of slavery, prison reform and social justice.
George and Hannah were not a young couple looking to make their mark on the world. Indeed, they were approaching the stage where - 40 -
they could contemplate a quiet life. Yet, they embarked on their Pennsylvanian adventure. This suggests that their commitment to the Quaker cause ran deep and was central to their lives. Along with his son-in-law Richard Bonsall, and seven other families – six from Derbyshire – George was a founder member of Darby Township, alongside Darby Creek. The records described George as a yeoman or landowner with 1,000 acres of land to his name. George bought the land from William Penn on 23 March 1682. He also subscribed £50 (approximately £5,725 in today’s money) to the Free Society of Traders. A dam, saw mill and grist mill existed on his portion of the creek, which was obviously a hive of activity. George was also active within the community, serving on the local Assembly. His fellow settlers elected him to this post in 1683, shortly after his arrival in Pennsylvania.
Quakers introduced many ideas that later became mainstream in American society, such as democracy in the Pennsylvania legislature, the Bill of Rights, trial by jury, equal rights for men and women, and public education. Furthermore, the Liberty Bell was cast by Quakers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Quaker meetings in Delaware recorded the births, marriages and deaths of the Wood family, including Hannah’s death on 9 March 1687, five years after her arrival, and George’s death on 27 April 1705. George bequeathed his land, buildings, purse, apparel and ‘some books’ to his son, John, while his three daughters, Mary, Elizabeth and Elinor received a shilling each. George and Hannah’s daughter, Elinor, married Evan Bevan, son of John Bevan and Barbara Aubrey, founder members of the Welsh Tract in Pennsylvania. More about the Bevan family and their lives in Pennsylvania in future articles.
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: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe
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A Night with the Wolves by Chantal Bellehumeur
Imagine waking up and seeing a wolf looking through your window after hearing a pack howling in the distance throughout the night. Under normal circumstances, I’d be scared. However, this scenario was actually anticipated and welcomed. My husband Jeff and I rented a special cabin within a wilderness park in Montebello this past April. It was pricier than what we normally book for our getaways, but worth it. The park animals are used to the year-round flow of visitors, but none of them are domesticated. Although curious, they’re also cautious and run away when frightened. After leaving the habitats of the docile animals, we slowly rode past the enclosures of black wolves, bison, arctic foxes, caribous, and musc oxen. We stopped at the sugar shack and treated ourselves to maple taffy on snow, then took a path in the woods which led us to a mini farm. We saw bulls, goats, mules, and a donkey. I bonded with a doe prior to getting back on the vehicle trail. We then briefly observed arctic wolves, coyotes, mountain goats, and bears within their enclosures, and fed more wandering animals. At the exit, we headed to the accommodations section.
Our stay included entry to Omega Park; fenced grounds consisting of forests, meadows, rocky hills, and lakes. It’s the chosen home of numerous Canada geese and other birds. Several types of mammals inhabit the conservation land too, but aren’t free to come and go as they please.
Our lodging was in a secluded area of the woods, with only one cabin beside ours.
We rolled on the vehicle trail, feeding carrots to elks and deer from our windows. Boars walked around, sometimes followed by piglets. We found them as adorable as the fawns and elk cows on site.
When we entered our log cabin, Jeff and I were impressed since it was more luxurious than expected. The spacious main room had a high ceiling, fully equipped kitchenette, and dining area with a giant chandelier made from shed antlers. A box of - 42 -
artisanal chocolates had been left for us on the dining table. There was also a postcard with a nice welcome message written on it.
enclosures. Not only was the boardwalk build between sets of high metal fences, there were safety nets below.
The best part was the two double beds facing a large bay window where we could see some of the eleven grey wolves moving about in the fenced yard. The visible wolves from the pack were going about their business in a large open area, whereas the others remained hidden in the forest.
We saw our wolves hanging around the open grounds and bay windows of the cabins. Jeff and I observed the canines which was mesmerizing. Some of them lazed on the ground while others followed each other. Another slowly made its way down a rocky hill to drink from a pool of water. On the opposite side, we saw the back of four large wooden cottages. Different wolves lived in that enclosure, but we couldn’t see them. We spotted a black bear near the edge of a frozen lake in front of a conifer forest. Another bear was seen close to cave openings. It playfully pawed at thick mud later on. Jeff and I walked to the end of the short boardwalk which included an observation area overlooking the lake, and went up a long set of wooden stairs.
When we managed to turn our attention away from the wolves to view the rest of the cabin, we noticed it was perfectly decorated with wolf, bear, and deer themed items, down to the original antler toilet paper holder. The big bathroom had travel-sized toiletries just like in hotels. The mirrors above the sink opened up to reveal screened windows with a great view of the wilderness. On top of all this, the cabin included an outside living room with furniture facing another bay window for wolf observation.
We looked at the wolves acting like playful dogs, and headed out with snacks. Jeff and I walked up a hill into the woods and accessed a fenced boardwalk. We found ourselves at the perfect height to observe the animals, not worrying about accidentally falling into the gigantic - 43 -
to scratch the ground in front of the window. There was protective metal wiring at the bottom of the glass for additional safety, but I still wondered if the wolves could break in. Wolves are intelligent. Although they don’t care about humans on a social level, I wouldn’t take my chances with one in the wild. We’re a source of food after all, even if not their first choice. They prefer eating large mammals like elk and deer, but will sometimes hunt smaller creatures such as beavers or rabbits. I set the table while our noodles cooked alongside the simmering meat sauce. I forgot to pack seasoning so was happy to see the table's centerpiece, a statuette of a sitting moose, literally holding salt and pepper shakers. Jeff and I continued looking at the wolves while eating our plain pasta topped with grated parmesan cheese. On our way back, I noticed a wounded wolf. Jeff and I were previously told the injury happened during mating. The dominant couple is the only one in the pack allowed to reproduce, so we knew the wolf who came to check on his isolated mate was the Alpha male.
The sky darkened as the sun set, making the shining stars appear. The wolves retreated to another fenced section and we couldn’t see them anymore, even with the outdoor light on. We were disappointed about their disappearance, but it didn't ruin our evening.
Back in our cabin, Jeff and I were as hungry as wolves and ready to eat a full meal. While making pasta sauce, we got distracted by the pacing wolves outside. We poured ourselves glasses of chilled white wine, and took turns standing by the window to get a better look.
After helping me clean up and do the dishes, Jeff made a fire in the old-fashioned cast iron fireplace. We sat on the floor in front of the crackling flame, eating our chocolates and sipping coffee. When we looked outside, Jeff and I noticed the tall trees slightly illuminated by the outdoor light. It was spooky, yet visually pleasing.
The wolves seemed curious about the inside of our cabin. They rarely looked at us directly but rather past us, moving from the main window to the one from our outside living room. They’d often move on to the next cabin and soon return to ours. It was like they were trying to figure something out; perhaps a way in? Sometimes, they’d use their sharp claws
We eventually closed the outdoor light and pulled down one of the two dark blinds. It didn’t completely cut out lights from the distant cottages like we wanted, but shadows of the trees created interesting patterns on the thin blind.
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Jeff and I went to bed at around ten, as usual. We both fell asleep fairly quickly, but got woken up close to eleven by the sound of wolves howling in the distance.
We got up to start our day even though we could’ve used more sleep. Jeff and I occasionally went to the window and crouched down in front of the pacing canines.
What an amazing thing to hear! It was almost like listening to a talented choir practicing a wordless chant. The wolves each seemed to have different musical notes to their howls which they started at the exact same time. An instant mixture of ghostlike “ooo’s”, whines, and grunts were heard.
One of the wolves looked directly at me with its yellow eyes. The thick glass between us was the only thing keeping it from potentially attacking me. I thought the canine was a beautiful animal, and part of me wished I could pet its thick fur as though it were a dog. But, I had seen its sharp teeth up close when it growled at another wolf, and wouldn’t want them digging into me.
After about two minutes of intense howling, all the wolves slowly lowered their vocal sounds. In an instant, everything went silent. Jeff and I witnessed something similar with a large group of Huskies while waiting to go on a dog sled ride this winter. Their loud barking stopped at the same time which impressed us, but it was nothing compared to a pack of wolves howling and simultaneously going quiet. We heard the loud howls again at three in the morning and it was just as spectacular. Jeff unfortunately didn’t wake up for the six o'clock howls, nor the ones which followed only fifteen minutes later and again fifteen minutes after. I tried to gently stir him awake as I listened to the vocalisations, in awe each time, but to no avail.
After eating a light breakfast and drinking coffee, we continued closely observing the active wolves. When the canines were not at our window, dozens of birds gathered to peck at the ground. We could hear them happily chirping.
Because I had trouble falling back asleep, I got out of bed to pull up the blind and crawled back in the warm sheets. I sat upright against my pillows, looking at the sky as it got brighter with the rising sun. Some of the wolves started moving around between the distant trees.
The wolves started howling again at around eight thirty, and once more about an hour later. Jeff was quick enough to record that session with his phone.
I eventually lay back down and managed to get more shuteye.
Birds continued chirping nonchalantly on top of the howling. It seemed like they were used to their noisy neighbours and lived by the motto “if you can’t beat them, join them.”
By the time Jeff and I fully woke up, some of the wolves were moving around close to the window like the previous evening. We watched them from the comfort of the bed. - 45 -
while appreciating the peaceful sounds of nature and fresh air. We didn’t want to leave. Our adventure continued after checking-out. We rode on the vehicle trail of the park again, but also explored pedestrian sections we bypassed the previous day. We hiked around a frozen lake, plus pet fawns and does when children didn’t scare the poor animals away by chasing them with carrots or lettuce leaves. Jeff and I also visited the wolf observation area. Like the boardwalk, it consisted of protective wooden railings and safety nets.
We faintly saw the howling wolves gathered among the trees; one of them was a late joiner. As soon as the howling session was over, each wolf started doing their own thing. We continued observing them.
As the animator tossed pieces of raw elk meat to the hungry grey canines below, he explained the wolves’ ranks which became evident by the way each one greedily ate, growled, or temporarily avoided food.
Jeff and I decided to head to the boardwalk, hoping the wolves might howl while we were out but no such luck. The only sounds we heard for the majority of our walk were various birds chirping or pecking at trees.
The Beta couple follows the Alphas in the chain of command, then comes the Gammas. They normally eat in that order. The weak Omega is always last and also responsible for taking care of the pups. It mainly eats scraps, if anything.
The second pack of wolves was visible this time. Some of the canines were lazily lying under trees, but a few were walking around further away.
We were informed the female Alpha, or Luna, was expecting a litter in May. When Jeff and I visited in the fall, there were two half grown pups in the pack. We couldn’t tell them apart from the fullgrown wolves anymore.
Although happy to finally see them, Jeff and I preferred observing the wolves near our cabin. We did so for a short while before continuing on our leisure walk.
When the animator’s short presentation was over, Jeff inquired about the howling wolves. We had been under the assumption wolves only howled at night, but having witnessed otherwise we wanted to know more.
As we made our way up the stairs, Jeff spotted a bear with two cubs by a conifer. We later saw another bear lying on the ground, closer to the edge of the enclosed forest. It walked towards a conifer and played with a low branch.
We were informed individual wolves howl when they’re happy, but when they do it as a pack it’s to announce their territory. Since there are five packs of wolves living in Omega Park, they often have howling wars, not realising neither pack can enter the other’s fenced territory.
Walking down the stairs, we noticed a stream burbling down boulders which was soothing. When we arrived closer to our cabin’s yard, Jeff and I sat on a bench to watch the wolves again - 46 -
Children attempted to get the wolves’ attention by giving their best howls, but none of them reacted. They could obviously tell the difference between their own kind and humans imitating them.
Note: If you’re interested in listening to the recording of the howling wolves, click this link: https://youtu.be/qBkpJ-yGhZE
Back home, Jeff and I repeatedly watched the video recording of the howling wolves. We heard the howls inside our heads as we went to sleep that night.
Chantal Bellehumeur is a Canadian author born in 1981. She has several published novels of various genres as well as numerous short stories, poems and articles featured in compilation books, magazine, plus a local newspaper. For a complete list of publications, including free reads, visit the following website: https://author-chantal-bellehumeur.webnode.com/products-/
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Mom’s Favorite Reads Author Chantal Bellehumeur Chantal Bellehumeur is a Canadian author born in 1981. She has 18 published books of various genres as well as numerous short stories, memoirs, poems and articles featured in compilation books, eMagazines, plus a local newspaper. Chantal is also a regular contributor to Mom’s eMagazine and Connections eMagazine. This is the third book in the Harmony series, the first being "Not Alone," and the second "Really Not Alone."
After a sad past, the main character leads a harmonious life.
FACEBOOK — https://www.facebook.com/ profile.php?id=100063612126420
Harmony heads out of town to attend her sister Katherine's wedding as a bridesmaid. She later goes on a weekend getaway with her husband Christian to celebrate their one year anniversary, and their second honeymoon extends during their summer vacation. Although the couple decides to simply do a staycation, exploring the Montreal regions turns out to be quite fun. They end up in The Laurentians a couple times, where they find peace...
TWITTER — https://twitter.com/c_bellehumeur LINKEDIN — https://www.linkedin.com/in/chantalbellehumeur-65802631/ WEBSITE — https://author-chantalbellehumeur.webnode.com/
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There is nothing more exciting than watching those first few flakes of white as they dance across the sky. Nothing, that is, except perhaps those last few days before Christmas. Memories of snowfalls and holidays spent with family and friends seem to brighten our lives, even when bittersweet. Their magic and joy bring happiness throughout the year. Join twenty authors from around the world as they share stories and poems to warm your heart and hearth this holiday season and the whole year through.
While cleaning out the attic of her deceased grandmother's Victorian farmhouse, Alice discovers old letters and diaries she can't help but read.
In this heartwarming story, Caroline fulfils her fiveyear-old son's wish to see the ocean by taking him on a cruise to the Magdalen Islands.
When Lorena was twelve years old, she witnessed her parents getting murdered because of a magical gem.
Harmony Goodhumor continues to tell the story of her life in the first person, allowing the reader to feel like they are either inside her mind or reading her diary.
There is something magical about autumn. From the changing leaves to the creeping shadows, autumn holds mysteries and enchantment with which no other season can compare.
Pull up a chair and prepare to smile as thirteen talented storytellers take you back in time in this small collection of big hearts.
Under hypnosis, six-year-old Jack Huntington tells his psychiatrist the dark unsolved tale of Jack the Ripper’s 19th century murders.
Harmony Goodhumor didn’t always get along with her younger sister Katherine, but the girls became close after their mother’s death.
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Look Beyond the Surface by Father Ian Maher
Matthew 9.9-13 Tax collectors in the time of Jesus were held by many in the same sort of low of esteem as some politicians are today. Just the very mention of their name was enough to evoke a negative response in people. In neither case is every person working in those professions dishonest or bad and, in fact, most are conscientious and sincere in their work.
Not surprisingly, the religious elite of the day saw Jesus’ socialising with ‘tax collectors and sinners’ as an affront to their understanding of what it meant to live a good and holy life. ‘Keep your distance from the likes of them’ could have been their mantra – ‘them’ being any category of person that did not fit their standards of what they regarded as upright and clean.
It is, however, very easy to fall into the trap of categorising a whole group of people in accordance with the failings of the few. Not every tax collector in first-century Palestine was on the fiddle and not every politician in 21st century Westminster is crooked. Those respective professions have been tarnished severely by the bad apples in the barrel.
Thus, any tax collector in their society was dismissed in their view simply by virtue of their profession – judged not by the best but by the worst behaviour of some individuals. In contrast, what Jesus saw was a human being, pure and simple. That was his starting point and maybe for the first time Matthew felt seen and heard for more than his despised role, and it was instrumental in the change that he made to his life.
So there is something important about not jumping to conclusions too quickly about a person whose occupation, status, political allegiance, religious affiliation and so on, rings negative bells for us. That word ‘person’ is what we need to hold on to because it helps us to see beyond the stereotypes that affect us in how we regard and respond to other people.
One thing that the story of Jesus and Matthew the tax-collector does is encourage us to see the person first; to look beyond the surface of any prejudice or stereotype that we or the society we live in might hold towards particular professions or groups.
Jesus’ treatment of Matthew the tax-collector demonstrates this approach. It is almost certainly the case that Matthew was despised in his community. Not only were the tax collectors gathering payments on behalf of the Roman occupation force, some of them – not all, but some – were skimming off extra profit for themselves.
One thing that the story of Jesus and Matthew the tax-collector does is encourage us to see the person first; to look beyond the surface of any prejudice or stereotype that we or the society we live in might hold towards particular professions or groups.
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. https://imaherblog.wordpress.com/ Twitter @IanMaher7 - 50 -
Paul’s Puzzles By Paul Godding The Main Challenge Can you insert the numbers 1-9, exactly once each, into the gaps below so that all three lines work out arithmetically?
The Mathematically Possible Challenge Using 3, 4 and 12 once each, with + – × ÷ available, which SIX numbers is it possible to make from the list below?
◯ + ◯ = ◯ ◯ – ◯ = ◯ ◯ ÷ ◯ = ◯
6 12 18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60 #6TimesTable
The 7puzzle Challenge 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 & 3rd rows contain the following fourteen numbers:
The Lagrange Challenge Lagrange’s Four-Square Theorem states that every integer can be made by adding up to four square numbers.
8 13 17 25 28 36 42 45 48 55 63 64 66 80
Which number, when 20 is added to it, becomes a square number?
For example, 7 can be made by 2²+1²+1²+1² (or 4+1+1+1). Show how you can make 189, in ELEVEN different ways, when using Lagrange’s Theorem.
The Target Challenge Can you arrive at 189 by inserting 3, 4, 5 and 7 into the gaps on each line? ◯×◯×(◯+◯) = 189
(◯+◯–◯)³+◯³ = 189
*** Solutions: http://7puzzleblog.com/answers/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Man in the Moon?... Or Who? by Christine Larsen Long after giving birth to her last litter of kittens, Smokey began noticing the moon differently. At 19 years old, she wasn’t altogether sure if she was losing it or actually finding a new reality. It had all begun when she was teaching her son, Speedy, how to lap water from a bowl, instead of forever hanging from her for sustenance. The magic happened one night when the moon reflected itself in her bowl of water. (It really wasn’t HER bowl at all.) This one was outside and belonged to the dogs, but they were nowhere near and the big bowl gave her far more benefits than her own cat-bowl inside.
“I can see the Easter Bunny in the moon,” declared the youngest, Nicky; getting up and jumping about a bit. It was so exciting and all this laying about was too difficult for a small, enthusiastic boy. Michaela and Brett nodded vigorously. They needed to do a quick jig of their own before settling once again. Both children agreed with their young brother, having always seen the same, and simply figured this was the BIG bunny’s home in between Easters. Bizarrely, Mum and Dad had never shared this vision, though they tried… HARD!
Smokey naturally took advantage, visiting here often on still moonlit nights, loving how the intensity of the reflected moon in the water glowed like a halo around her head. Its magic puzzled her greatly, becoming more and more disturbing to her valuable sleep time as she dreamt of quests and schemes to discover the truth of who indeed inhabited that mystic moon. In faraway days of early motherhood, the major problem was being fresh out of time because of the incessant demands of her furry family. When she found time to scratch herself, that’s what she did… thoroughly. And washing. Did it never end? One day, she promised herself—but that one day took a long time to happen, as Life kept getting in the way.
Smokey agreed. Could she have talked ‘human’, she’d have shared her particular concerns. No-one, it seemed, gave consideration to the Cat and her Fiddle of Hey Diddle Diddle fame; and although Smokey had heard of a cow jumping OVER the moon, there were no reports of one getting stuck there. And that little dog laughing?!? That wasn’t any of her canine sisters—Gypsy, Taffy, or Sheba. Annoyingly, even the dinnerware got in on that rhyming act, with a final, dramatic mention, when… ‘the dish ran away with the spoon’.
One still night, her two-legged family lay on rugs out on the lawn, studying the star-studded sky and its amazing focus this night… the Harvest Moon. Mum and Dad told the kids details of its surface were the clearest seen in memory, according to the experts. That set them to wondering if there was, in fact, a ‘Man in the Moon’. Dad said there had been, in 1969, but only for a short time—two days, he thought, those Earth visitors were there. Mum said last Christmas Eve she’d seen the silhouette of Father Christmas, his reindeer and sleigh sailing across the moon, although there’d been no report of him stopping there—not in her living memory, nor any history books, either.
No cats featuring at all? Surely this was a monumental miscarriage of feline justice! Smokey’s curiosity deepened with the mystery of her water bowl reflection, made even more vivid by this appearance of a huge ‘halo’ of the Harvest Moon around her head. As she tried to absorb the mystique of the occasion, giving little concentration on the current job of drinking, a splash of water missed her mouth, and flicked into the air before her nose. In the neardaylight brightness, the droplet flashed like a diamond. - 52 -
A quick, but gentle paw-pat on the side of the bowl was totally irresistible, causing more amazing ‘diamonds’ to fall… an entire shower of them. Smokey couldn’t resist more pats, stronger every time, until a lengthy trail of ‘diamonds’ stretched and snaked their way across the ground. Despite an initial warning growl at their alien-ness, Smokey soon found herself totally bewitched by this amazing happening. As she wondered at the spectacle, the ‘diamonds’ abruptly formed themselves into a giant glittering ladder, soaring forever into the night sky. A hasty glance over her shoulder proved Smokey’s ‘humans’ couldn’t see this… actually viewing nothing out of the ordinary, though the shortest distance separated them.
“Yes, my dear, I AM Bastet, the Great Siamese Cat! Enshrined forever in the heavenly glow of the Moon, itself the embodiment of Immortality and Eternity. See? I can send a ladder of diamonds any time… or never; keep you here, watching over your world… or send you back in the quiver of a cat’s whisker—which is the thing I WILL do this time. But NEXT time we meet, my dear, I’ll summon you sometime around your 21st birthday, and THEN I will reveal ALL.” Bastet performed the most lengthy and beautiful stretch Smokey had ever seen and yawned behind a delicately raised paw before continuing, “But enough now. I’m weary.”
Smokey tentatively put one paw on the first step, though doubting she’d get far at her age. Her war wounds, as she liked to call her scarred old tissue and joints when they ached, would surely not permit her going far. To her amazement, she heltered and skeltered up those steps as if only two years old again. In nanoseconds she was at the top of the ladder, stepping out onto the moon itself! She looked back at her Blue Planet in amazement. How insignificant in the Universe’s scheme.
Smokey felt herself sliding down, down, down… all the way back to her own special ‘Home, Sweet Home’. This time, as she looked admiringly at the Moon, she didn’t need to wonder any longer. The vision of the Great Cat in the moon was as clear as her own mirror reflection. Squinting her eyes into tiny slits, Smokey could definitely see Bastet's face and huge eyes high above in the Moon; and she was sure there were many other cat's eyes surrounding the Cat Mother of ALL time.
Eerily, a voice spoke inside Smokey’s head through a shimmer of rainbow hues in her mind’s eye. “You’ve puzzled and pondered for a long time in your tiny world, and I have taken pity on you.” As the iridescence intensified, Smokey understood how her young family had formed the belief of a rabbit in the moon. The long bunny ears were actually the tall, sharply pointed ears of the Great Siamese Cat Bastet—the Feline Goddess of Motherhood of Egyptian times. The original MUMMY?!? And the voice heard her thought. And responded.
Smokey found herself amazingly content to wait for the final summons with no trepidation; no regrets. This ninth Life was proving to be the best of them all.
Christine is an Australian in the middle of her seventh decade - a writer, farmer, wife, mother, grandmother - now on their retirement farm, and returning from an absence to reignite her works. Christine’s three main genres are - Memoirs - of growing up in the 1950's in Australia, of farming, and of treasured collections. Children's Stories - mostly for middle-school age readers, but also excellent read aloud stories by parents, siblings, grandparents, babysitters, teachers. Short stories + Flash-fiction (and non-fiction) Collections - a range of almost every genre, encompassing every emotion from humour to deepest sadness. - 53 -
Gez Robinson — Wildlife Photographer by Sylva Fae Gez Robinson is the wildlife photographer from Yorkshire, England, who was interviewed in last month’s edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads, about the family of mice that live in the brambles at the bottom of the garden. But mice are not the only creatures this talented photographer captures…
I was first attracted to the stunning photos of the bramble mice, but my favourite photo is the two foxes, snuggled up asleep like two bookends. The amazing photographs show just how much trust these wild animals have in Gez.
Copyright © Gez Robinson for all photos featured in this article.
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***** Gez’s all-time favourite is a stunning picture of a swan. The photograph won a couple of awards and it’s easy to see why. ‘The swan image took a week’s planning to work out how to get the shot, and three days of going to a local reservoir and sitting with a load of swans. It was a lot of trial and error to get the shot I wanted; my vision was for it to look like a candid photo of a bride in a wedding dress.’ ***** Another of Gez’s favourites is this comical picture of two cheeky kingfishers, protesting against the ‘No Fishing’ sign.
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When Gez said I could choose some photos, yet again I had a dilemma – what to choose? They are all beautiful. These are just a small selection of my favourites, so please hop over to the Facebook page, where you can see more of his bramble mice and the other wildlife that visit the garden. Some of the mice photographs are now available to buy as cards and on other merchandise. https://www.facebook.com/bramblemouse
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: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/sylva-fae/ - 57 -
The Stag Do by Joy Margetts ‘What’s that infernal racket?’ Bill looked up from his book and flung his reading glasses to one side. He would have jumped to his feet to emphasise his annoyance if his tired knees had allowed him.
‘There’s a group of holiday makers in next door. I saw them arrive about half an hour back.’ Irene was in her favourite spot, her little armchair in the front bay window, where she could people watch. It was an ever- changing source of entertainment; until her painful hip forced her to change position, and she would find a little task to do elsewhere in the house. The racket was raucous laughter, shouting and banging of doors. Irene peered around the curtain for a better look. A group of young men, scantily clad, were making themselves ‘comfortable’ on the dainty metal framed garden chairs their neighbour had placed in the tiny flower- filled front garden that overlooked the sea. It was an incongruous sight. The holiday home was usually occupied by young families, or sedate older couples, enjoying a few days away in this quiet seaside resort. There were no clubs, amusement arcades or wine bars to attract a younger crowd here.
‘Oh, let them be. They are just here on holiday like anyone else. You enjoyed a drink in the sun yourself, in your day. Don’t suppose you can remember that far back,’ she half -whispered. ‘Humpff,’ was the reply.
+++ I smiled at Mark’s antics. I’d spotted the faces at the window next door too, but he was quicker to acknowledge them. He meant no disrespect, I knew that. He wasn’t like that, he had grandparents of his own that he loved dearly. In fact they had more or less brought him up when his mother had abandoned him. He was a little rough around the edges, had got into trouble a few times with the police in his teenage years, but had pulled things around now, despite his troubled start in life. He had held down a good job for three years now and had
‘What the…? Bill had levered himself slowly out of the chair and was standing leaning over his wife’s shoulder. One of the lads turned at that moment and raised his beer can, saluting Bill with a grin, before turning back to his mates and laughing. ‘There’s going to be trouble,’ Bill said, shaking his head, ‘I don’t like it. I don’t like the look of those thugs, Irene. I’m telling you. We’ll be calling the police before the weekend is out. Hooligans!’ - 58 -
‘You won’t? You wouldn’t be able to stop me if I was so inclined,’ is what she thought. What she said was, ‘just look at them splashing around in the sea like little boys. It looks like they are having so much fun!’ ‘Fun? That’s one way of looking at it. All I can see is grown men embarrassing themselves. Wouldn’t be surprised if one of them gets themselves drowned the amount of beer they’ve consumed.’ ‘Now then, Bill, that’s not a nice thing to think.’ proved himself a great friend to have in your corner. They all were, these five sat around me now, t - shirts off, drinks in hand, lapping up the sun. A display of shockingly pale sun- starved flesh all round. I could see how such a sight might upset the neighbours, but we needed this time away, this break. We were determined to enjoy every minute.
+++ I watched Tom and Sean larking about in the water. Splashing about and trying to dunk each other. Sean leapt up onto Tom’s back and they both fell into the water, half- laughing, half -spluttering. The cool sea water was a welcome relief from the blazing heat of the sun on our backs. My head was throbbing from heat, and probably a bit from the drink too. I’d join them in the sea in a moment.
Tom appeared in the doorway, a triumphant look on his face. ‘Look what I found,’ he said, lifting up a huge cooler box, obviously heavy with contents. ‘Perfect, mate! All set for the beach lads?’
It was good to see Sean so relaxed. He’d come up with us this morning but he’d only be staying one night as he had to get back to his family tomorrow. I only hoped one of us would be sober enough to see him onto the train in the morning! Home -life was hard for him, but you’d never hear him complain. They had a baby five years ago, and there were complications, and their son was born with severe disabilities. Sean was now his son’s main carer, and it was not often that he could leave his boy for more than a few hours. He’d had his son young, but had been forced to grow up quick. I was in awe of his capacity to care so deeply and completely for his child. He’d be on his phone, face-timing him soon, I didn’t doubt. But for these few moments it seemed he’d forgotten everything except for having fun! It was so good to see. I jumped up and ran into the sea to join them.
‘Lead the way. Who needs a picnic when we’ve got cool beers?’
+++ ‘They’ve been on the beach for hours,’ Bill stood at the upstairs window. The view was better up there. ‘Red as lobsters they’ll be. I dread to think how much they’ve drunk too. Look at how that one is staggering about.’ Irene joined him. ‘Oh dear, they do look a bit pink, don’t they? Perhaps I’ll pop round with some aftersun lotion in a bit.’ ‘You’ll do nothing of the sort. I won’t have you going anywhere near them. Especially in the state they’ve got themselves in.’ - 59 -
Tom stood at the top of the stairs with his hands on his hips. But he was grinning. He’d arranged this weekend. We would have been in Ibiza, or Amsterdam, or even Dublin, if we’d been allowed. But this was all we could manage, and I was grateful. I walked past him and slapped him heavily on the back.
Thud. Another door banged. Irene didn’t think the walls between the houses were that thin, but that one had made her jump. ‘They’ll have those doors off their hinges. Not to mention whatever else they might be damaging in there. I’m surprised at Hilary for letting the house to a group of yobs. Still, on her head be it.’
‘Noted, Thomas, noted.’
‘I’m sure she knew what she was doing. Any bookings are good bookings these days. You know Hilary needs the income from the holiday let to be able to keep the house. Perhaps she had no choice?’
‘Yea, well. I’m the one who’ll get it in the neck if this place is trashed. Seb, put that joint out, or at least take it outside mate! If that smell gets into the curtains, I’m done for.’
‘Yes, well, at this rate she might not have a house to come back to. If I was younger, I’d go around there and check it out for myself. Remind them that it is not their home they are abusing.’
I smiled. If he did get into trouble, Tom would charm his way out of it, I’d no doubt. He was the spoilt one, the monied one, the one with wealthy, over- indulgent parents. He drove a brand new Jaguar. But that wasn’t the whole truth. He wouldn’t have admitted it to anyone else, but we knew. His parents were wealthy, but he had spent his whole life being traded off between them. His society mother and his career driven father had little time for a child. He was an inconvenience, and became a pawn in their bitter fury -filled divorce games. He’d broken contact with them years ago, but the sadness of rejection lingered. He’d found a new family to belong too - us. Oh, and his Aunt Hilary, who adored him. Thankfully.
A shriek of laughter rang out from the open window next to theirs. Bill sniffed the air. ‘Phew! That’s not tobacco they are smoking either!’ ‘Well, how would you know?’ Irene said.
+++ ‘Lads. More care. Aunt Hilary put her trust in me to make sure we respected the place.’
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+++ ‘Look! He’s on the roof! Now another one is getting up there. He’s stripping off. Irene, look…’
Seb was off his head. I’d expected it, he was a bit of a loose cannon these days. I had invited him, knowing he would probably overdo it, but these roof antics surprised even me. Ben was up there too, which was a good thing. He’d been drinking as well, but not enough to be out of his senses. I trusted him to be careful, and he’d watch that Seb didn’t do himself any major harm. These two had formed a close bond over the last year. They’d been friends since school, as all of us had, but Ben and Seb shared an experience that none of the rest of us could begin to understand. Seb’s brother, Paul, had taken his own life, and Seb had been the one who discovered him. Ben was the firefighter who pulled Paul’s lifeless body from his fume- filled car and attempted CPR.
‘I don’t need a cheap thrill. I’m past needing to see men’s naked bodies at my advanced age.’ ‘But they are on the roof… two of them. Now he’s flinging his clothes over the hedge into Harry’s garden. He’ll be livid!’
Irene staggered painfully over to the bedroom window that looked out over the yards lining the back of the terrace. Bill was right, there were two of them up on the flat roof of Hilary’s kitchen extension. They were only about eight foot off the ground, but high enough that if they fell they could hurt themselves. In her experience from her nursing days, it seemed that often the drunk ones bounced, and did themselves little harm when they fell. Or at least felt nothing when they did.
Ben wouldn’t let Seb hurt himself. He’d pull him back from the brink if he needed to. He’d be there for Seb, and Seb knew that too. He and Ben talked, and wasn’t that what we all need? Someone to talk to. If Paul had had that, maybe he wouldn’t have…
One of them was undressing, mercifully still in his underpants, but twirling his shorts around above his head like a lasso. His t- shirt and trainers were already lodged in Harry’s high hedge. They’d need a ladder to retrieve those. The other lad seemed to be laughing along, but definitely steadier on his feet, and still fully clothed. Irene watched for a moment or two longer, but then feeling the chill from the open window retreated to her warm bed.
+++ ‘Well, I told you we should have called the police. I’ve just talked to Harry and he nearly called them last night. They were still carousing at 3am apparently. I’d put my ear plugs in before then mercifully. I didn’t hear them, did you?’
‘Leave them be Bill. There’s nothing you can do. And you don’t need to catch your death standing at that open window.’
‘I didn’t need the lads next door to keep me awake when I had you snoring next to me,’ she thought, and said, ‘I did. But they quietened down eventually.’
Bill slammed the window shut, hoping the noise would startle the unwelcome visitors and remind them that they had neighbours - elderly ones, who needed their sleep. Reluctantly he joined his wife in bed.
‘They’ll be sleeping off their hangovers this morning. I’m tempted to bang a few doors, or set too with my hedge trimmers just to spite them.’
‘Don’t expect we’ll get much sleep tonight. Don’t be surprised either if sirens wake us before the night is done.’
‘What hedge trimmers, we don’t even have a hedge?’ - 61 -
‘No, well, that’s as may be. But you get my point.’ ‘I do, dear, but it wouldn’t achieve anything to disturb then now, would it?’ ‘How long are they staying, do you think?’ ‘Just for the weekend. One more night. It’s a stag party I understand.’ ‘That’s no excuse for loutish behaviour.’
‘Of course, you never misbehaved when you were younger. Not in your army days…’ ‘Well, maybe. I never had a stag weekend though.’ ‘You didn’t have enough friends…’
+++ We’d got Sean off to the station and onto his train, and now we were kicking back watching the footie. There were a few sore heads but there was also more beer in the fridge and we weren’t going to be carting that back to the city with us. It would have to be drunk tonight. It wasn’t going to be wasted. One more night. I had resisted the urge to call home, to see her face on my phone screen. She’d been good too, her girls had whisked her away to some Spa hotel for her hen treat. I was glad. She deserved some pampering. It had been good to get away and spend this time with the lads, my mates, but I missed Jess. I hadn’t been away from her for this long for months. She’d been right by my side, through everything, our love for each other tested and strengthened by what we’d been through. I couldn’t wait to marry her.
But then these boys had been there for me too. I looked around the room, at the bodies in various states of slovenly degradation, at the empty beer cans and loaded ashtrays, the soggy remains of pizza, edges curled in their grease- stained boxes, and
the crushed Pringles cans. I grinned to myself. These were the best of mates. Always ready with a helping hand when it was needed, or a joke at my expense. They were true friends, who knew instinctively how to get me laughing, how to just get me through. I would be proud to have each one of them stand up with me when I waited for Jess to walk down the aisle. They knew as well as I did, that it had been touch and go as to whether I would ever get to marry Jess, in a church, surrounded by friends and family. But then last month I finished my last course of chemo, and a week later got the news we were holding onto a thread of hope for. All clear. Full remission. Life restarted. So that’s why we were here this weekend, at this hastily arranged get away, not the place we would have chosen to go, but definitely the people I’d have chosen to be with. It had been a blast. A deep breath of fresh air. A party of parties. I will call on the neighbours tomorrow, and apologise if we have disturbed or alarmed them. But I’m sure they would understand if they knew the whole story. I know I’d forgive these friends of mine almost anything. We all have our secrets and we all have our stories. We all need to let loose from time to time.
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were just young ones letting off some steam. He looked at me then and smiled warmly, and said that he was glad I understood.’ ‘Understood what?’ ‘Well I don’t rightly know. But I’ve learnt over the years not to judge. Everybody has a story to tell, and often those stories are sad ones. What you see on the surface is not the whole truth of a person.’
Bill grumbled something under his breath and turned his attention back to his book. Irene took her seat back in the window and lifted her hand to wave as a loaded car pulled away. Bill smiled to himself. She was right, again, he knew it. But it would cost him too much to say it out loud.
+++ ‘They are going. Finally. I can sleep peacefully tonight. Did you see the number of cans and glass bottles in poor Hilary’s recycling box this morning?’
Irene smiled to herself too. Bill knew she was right, and she didn’t need for him to say so. She turned her gaze back to the world outside her window and waited for the next story to unfold.
‘I did. I met one of them out there by the bins this morning. He introduced himself as Rob, the happy groom. It seemed they were all doing their bit to tidy up before they left.’ ‘Was he coherent?’ ‘Yes, actually, and very polite. He apologised for any inconvenience they had caused us, and hoped they hadn’t scared us at all. I said it was fine, that they
Joy Margetts has loved writing for as long as she can remember. A retired nurse, mother of two, and a new grandparent, she also has a lifelong interest in history, and loves nothing better than visiting ancient monuments or burying herself in archive material. She was brought up in the South of England but for the last twenty five years has made her home on the beautiful North Wales coast. Her debut novel 'The Healing', a work of historic fiction, was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self published a short novella, 'The Beloved' as both a companion to 'The Healing', and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available on Amazon Kindle. More information on Joy and her writing, and her personal blog, can be found here www.joymargetts.com - 63 -
The Rio-Antirrio Bridge by John Greeves The beautiful Rio-Antirrio Bridge is more than an engineering marvel and can be considered a work of art. It crosses the Gulf of Corinth near Patras, linking the town of Rio on the Peloponnese peninsula to Antirrio on mainland Greece. Like football it's full of statistics, being one of the world's longest multi-span bridge at 2,880 m (1.8 miles). It has a width of 28m, two vehicle lanes in each direction, as well as an emergency lane and a pedestrian walkway. The five-span, fourpylon structures look like a series of magnificent yachts cutting sway across a Homeric Sea and announcing a new golden age to surpass even that of Pericles. Of course, high profile transfers of cash were needed at the time with €630 million coming from Greek state funds and other loans from the European Investment Bank when it was built. But what has this to do with football? You'll see. A while ago I travelled from Athens International Airport into the city, a 25-minute ride. My Greek was non-existent, but by mentioning AEK Athens, Olmpiacos FC, Panathinaikos I generate an immediate response. Various outpourings from the driver signalled instant approval or derision about these teams as he cut through the busy traffic like a fearless number nine.
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holiday reading and decided to give Alexandros Papadiamandis, a Greek author in translation a go. The owner immediately struck up a conversation. 'Where are you from?' 'Wales.' Gareth Bale entered the conversation like a well-executed pass. All his admirable qualities were cited. Then it was my turn. I told him how well Greece did in the Euro 2004 final when they won 1-0 against Portugal. It was if I had made a lifelong friend when I name the goal scorer as Angelos Charisteas. I didn't however mention the odds against them winning the final on that day were 80 to 1 - such occasions need maturing like a good wine in their timeless savouring of cherished memories.
Then single word questions were fired at me: Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea; my face said it all. I put him right about my team, saying it over and over again like a football mantra to make sure he got it. Later I stayed in view of the Rio-Antirrio Bridge in the town of Nafpaktos with its historical citadel gazing out to the bridge which seems to be in full sail 8 km away. Like many Greek towns it came alive in the late afternoon and evening.
We agreed that football has become the new international language. 'When we were building the bridge,' he told me ‘There used to be many different groups of constructors here. Greek, French, Belgium, Dutch and so on. What unified them all he says was their passion for the game and not their politics.'
On this particular day, I walked past sleepy flats, coach-tour hotels, supermarket, alfresco cafes and even one fashion establishment called the 'Chic and Cheap' towards the harbour. I entered a book shop, looking for some
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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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’. ‘Story teller’ sounds better. My books are so dependent upon the illustrations. That’s where illustrator Cameo Anderson http:// www.cameoanderson.com/ 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 www.adventuresofhotrodtodd.com
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. - 66 -
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Europe by Book by Hannah Howe The Wanderer – A Tear and A Smile: Reflections of an Immigrant by Ronesa Aveela A memoir of the life of Ronesa Aveela, relating stories of life in Bulgaria and abroad. Each person is a constant project: changing and adapting—sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. All our lives we wander to find a better place to live or a better job, to learn new skills, to make a discovery, or to invent something of value. Today, technology has removed boundaries. We can easily physically travel to different places in the world, but we can also “bounce” around the virtual space of the web, where we make acquaintances worldwide. In our travels, we build our homes, make new friends, raise our children, attend weddings, and say goodbye to friends and family, sending them to the world beyond. Even thousands of miles from where we were born and raised, we keep our customs and practice the traditions that we have been nourished with. We share them with friends who have a different cultural heritage, upbringing, and faith; and we in turn accept new ones. We must learn to respect other cultures as much as we support people in our own community.
Culture is a temple for the human soul. This is what we carry with us as we wander, what we develop as we adapt to the place we choose to call our home.
Traditions are a great way to teach children the cultural and religious history of mankind by giving them their own identity and roots.
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The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen
autonomous people by following in the footsteps of our neighbours to the North.
From childcare to healthcare, provision for the elderly and tackling issues of homelessness, the Nordic countries are world leaders in organising society – no wonder Finland has been ranked among the happiest places in the world. But when Finnish journalist Anu Partanen moved to America, she quickly realised that navigating the basics of everyday life was overly complicated compared to how society was organised in her homeland. From the complications of buying a mobile, to the arduous task of filing taxes, she knew there was a better way and as she got to know her new neighbours she discovered that they too shared her deep apprehensions.
The Nordic Theory of Everything details Partanen’s mission to understand why America (and much of the Western world) suffers from so much inequality and struggling social services. Filled with fascinating insights, advice and practical solutions, she makes a convincing argument that we can rebuild society, rekindle optimism and become more
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: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe
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The Trouble with Weasels by Penny Luker When you’re a mother, you spend years trying to protect your children from all outside dangers and hardships, but when your children grow up, you have to let them make their own mistakes. It’s so hard not to give them your much more experienced opinion, but I try my best to be quietly supportive. My daughter, Cassie, is one of the kindest and warmest human beings you could meet. She always sees the best in people, which is a wonderful virtue, but I worry about how easily she could get hurt. Watching her start dating is something I’d have liked to ban, but she’d hate me and of course, I have no right. At first, Edward Weasel seemed to be a charming young man. My daughter fell for him, as only the young can, with total commitment, which would have been admirable, if only it had been for another cause, like saving the planet. Who has a name like Weasel anyway? Edward said he was twenty eight and he certainly looked that age until you looked more closely. His reddish brown hair was just a little too even, as though it was dyed, and although he gave an appearance of height, I noticed that his shoes had a subtle heel to compensate for short legs. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against short, older men, but I am quite averse to men who pretend to be something they’re not. If his appearance didn’t come up to scratch, that was the least of my worries. ‘Don’t you think he’s wonderful, mum?’ my daughter asked.
‘As long as he makes you happy, I’m happy,’ I lied, but I wasn’t at all happy. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was I didn’t like about him until about a month later. My brother was throwing a party for the rich and famous. He’s a successful film director. He always invited us to
his parties and we never go. When folk are wearing top notch clothes and jewellery that makes your eyes water, it makes you feel like you’re a country bumpkin, when you turn up in your best Marks and Spencer frock. Okay, I admit it, I’m an inverted snob, but my brother really isn’t. He’s smart and direct and he always sees things very clearly. We received and politely declined the latest party invitation. A few days later Cassie cornered me. ‘Mum, do you think we could un-decline that party invitation to Uncle Derek’s? Edward would really like to go.’ My first instinct was to say no, but when Cassie has set her heart on something, I find it hard not to give in. The night of the party arrived and I have to say Cassie looked exceptional. She’d found a beautiful, knee length, silk dress in a charity shop. It oozed style and class, but when Edward turned up, he was obviously disappointed in how she looked. ‘I assumed you’d dress up a bit more; you know a long dress,’ he muttered, thinking I couldn’t hear. ‘I think she looks absolutely gorgeous,’ I said. ‘Now don’t be a jerk. Off you both go’. I know I shouldn’t have said anything, but how could he criticise her? Edward did have the grace to go red, but I’m not sure if he was ashamed of himself or angry that I’d called him out on his rudeness. - 70 -
the drink and told him she’d started her working life as a waitress, so she knew how hard he had to work.’
The next day I asked Cassie how the party had gone. ‘It was fabulous, mum. Uncle Derek introduced me to everyone as his favourite niece. He whispered; we won’t tell anyone that you’re my only one.’ She laughed and without hesitating said, ‘Can I bring William home for tea later?’
‘She does sound kind.’ ‘Then Edward said I should go and speak to my uncle, because he obviously wanted Juliet to himself, but she linked my arm and said that was a good idea. She had something she wanted to talk to Uncle Derek about, so we left Edward standing on his own.’
‘William?’ I queried. ‘What happened to Edward?’ ‘Oh, I dumped him,’ she said. ‘When we left here, we had a row. Not the best start to the evening. He didn’t like you calling him a jerk,’ she smiled. ‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that, but you looked so beautiful and you’d taken such care.’ ‘Anyway, we agreed to put it behind us. He was so eager to go to the party and I wanted us to have a good time.’ So what happened then?’ I asked. ‘When we arrived, I introduced him to Uncle Derek, and he seemed to forget I was there. He stood in front of me and actually stood on my foot. I mean anyone could do that, but you check the person you hurt is all right, only he didn’t. Then later, he was trying to impress Juliet Snow – you know from the Northlander’s show, and he actually snapped his fingers at William to bring us some drinks. I was so embarrassed. Juliet was lovely. She thanked William for
‘So is it really all over with Edward?’ I asked. Cassie put her arms round me, ‘Of course it is. He wheedled himself into so many conversations; interrupting when people were talking. I was feeling bad about bringing him, but Juliet Snow told me, that’s the problem with weasels. They’re flipperty gibbets, who scurry around everywhere, but have no worthwhile purpose.’ Cassie laughed as she went upstairs to get ready for William. I sighed. Derek had been right as usual. When I’d rung him to ask what I should do about Cassie’s interest in Edward, Derek had told me to let them come to the party. His thoughts were that if Edward was not a genuine person. he would almost certainly show himself up, amongst the rich and famous. I wonder what William is like.
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 www.pennyluker.wordpress.com or author.to/PennyLuker
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Side Benefits of Writing by Allison Symes
Coming Out of My Shell I’m not an extrovert, far from it, but one side benefit of writing is that it has brought me out of my shell. I’ve had the joy (and continue to do so) of making friends across the writing genres and have deeply appreciated their support for launches etc. When I was starting out as a writer, the thought of networking terrified me. That monster, Imposter Syndrome, would raise its ugly head and tell me I could not do this. I got fed up with said monster. I started going to writing conferences, just to attend the classes you understand so I could learn my craft. I hadn’t planned on talking to anyone. I was too nervous for that. That thought fell apart at the first tea break time. Why?
I have literally only come across the odd writer who is happy to talk about what they do but won’t engage with you.
Because everyone loves a natter over a cup of tea or coffee and what do writers like to chat about? What they’re writing, what you’re writing, the publishing industry, competitions, markets etc. And we all learn from each other here. No one writer can know it all.
Fine, I’m not having a repeat conversation with them then.
Writing is about engagement. We’re seeking to engage readers with our stories and articles. It is a two -way process so, for me, it is pretty pointless not engaging with fellow writers. Writers are not in competition with each other. Even if we write in the same genre, our style is our own. Our voice is our own.
So the moment I cottoned on to the fact that networking simply means talking about what you love - writing - with other people who understand your “obsession” with it because they’re obsessed too and you can learn useful things from each other… well the barriers crashed.
I can only write as Allison Symes. I can prove this too. I’ve had the joy of being one of the winners of the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition three years in a row. For each year, a different theme was set. The winning writers had to work to 1000 words maximum and clearly show the theme. We all did. Fifteen different writers came up with
It’s my experience that 99% of all writers, once asked what they write, will happily tell you and then ask you what you’re writing. Before you know it, you’ve got a good conversation going and you’re well on your way to making wonderful writing buddies for life. Now what is there not to like about that? - 72 -
fifteen different stories at 1000 words on the appropriate theme each year. The styles and moods of the stories were different. The range of imagination was amazing. I found that encouraging.
around them welcome it or resent it? Equally you could take it that a character refuses to do so despite it being in their best interests. What would the consequences of that be?
I’ve also found out about markets such as CafeLit from other writers. That in turn led me to discovering flash fiction and being published in the form. I’m now giving Zoom talks on flash fiction, and my writer’s journey, and that was something I hadn’t anticipated when I started out. Just as well I’ve come out of my shell a bit I think.
Just to start you off here is my take on the theme and I suggest writing to no more than 300 words. This kind of story is best kept short and sweet. My story here is effectively a slice of life story.
So, over to this month’s flash fiction challenge then and I will base it on the above.
Emerging by Allison Symes
Theme: Coming Out of Your Shell Flash fiction can be a wonderful vehicle for character studies precisely because these are at their best when kept short. You don’t want your characters rabbiting on about every aspect of their lives. They, and you, just need to focus on what matters. So with a theme like that, you can write about a character who does precisely that. What happens when they do come out of their shell? Do those
It was a struggle but it must be done. It was easier to stay put but she knew she must break through. Some things were just ingrained, as if programmed. Best get it over and done with though she wondered what she would look like after all this time cocooned. It was not as if she could ask her mother. Mother never stayed around and one day too she would not stay around for her offspring. It was just the way it was. She wondered if she would be beautiful. Was there any way to find out? Well other than the - 73 -
obvious way… if someone from the opposite sex approached, that would be a good indication, she supposed. She stretched again. She felt the cocoon begin to break. Best to go on now the process had started. It seemed to take forever but on emerging and as she stretched her wings, she felt it was worth it. She’d not had wings before. She wished she didn’t feel so sticky but stretching out in the sunshine felt blissful. If only she could stay like this for ever… She smiled to herself. Being a butterfly was all about change. But she’d only gone and done it. She hoped somewhere Mother would be proud.
Books: http://author.to/AllisonSymesAuthorCent. Her Youtube channel, with book trailers and story videos, is at https://www.youtube.com/channel/ UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA/ With her non-fiction hat on, Allison blogs for online magazine, Chandler’s Ford Today, often on topics of interest to writers. Her weekly column can be found at http://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/author/allisonsymes/ Allison also blogs for Authors Electric and More Than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers.
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: https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com/
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“But of course you can’t, because you didn’t attend my meeting yesterday. It was about staff slacking off and not pulling their weight – that sound familiar, Jane?
The last words were spat out, then replaced with a smirk. Yes, this was bullying. All around, colleagues looked on, some embarrassed, some sending sympathetic glances, but all glad it wasn’t them. “You will stay late to work on your presentation. Now sit down.” Suze surreptitiously patted my leg – a silent show of support. Something snapped inside me, I swallowed down the rising nausea and reached into my handbag…
Coming out of my shell by Sylva Fae
“No, Joanne.” A collective gasp filled the silence, and all eyes turned to see Joanne’s ugly, incredulous glare.
'Workplace Bullying’, the words boldly glared out from the leaflet a colleague slipped into my hand. I quickly shoved it into my handbag, just having it was causing my cheeks to flush.
“I’ll do my presentation now,” I said brandishing the leaflet. “It’s on workplace bullying; it’s about cruel bosses who treat their staff unfairly – that sound familiar, Joanne?”
"A few of us are considering taking action," Suze whispered, subtly flicking her eyes towards the tyrant in question. I followed her gaze; the feeling of dread and loathing flooded my body as I took in the false smile plastered across the face I'd come to hate.
Coming out of my shell by Joy Margetts The wait has been excruciating. I’ve been feeling so trapped and irritated by it all. Waiting to have my moment in the sun. I know I will reach my full potential then. I will be seen for what I am. I will shine brightly and be admired by all. There will be a moment; I was made for it and it will come. It might be under a dazzling chandelier in a fine ballroom, or it might be in the reflection of a flickering candle on a romance filled night. I might stand alone, or I might stand with others. At least my bid for freedom starts here - in the safe brown hands of a smiling Pearl Diver.
My heartbeat quickened as I considered what taking action might mean. Workplace bullying, though? Children get bullied not forty-year-olds in a professional environment. It sounded ludicrous to call it that, but what was it? Unfair demands, excluded from team emails, not being informed about important meetings, which (deliberately?) took place on my only afternoon off – was this bullying? “Jane! Stand up!” Her sneering snarl cut through my musing. My heart thudded, flooding my cheeks with beetroot red. Tentatively, I rose on jelly legs. “Bored already? You can go first with your presentation then.” Presentation? What presentation? - 75 -
TitleScent of Water The by Penelope Stan Phillips Swithinbank Reviewed by Wendy H. Jones
The past eighteen months have been strange in the extreme with many people grieving, not just the loss of family or friends, but also the way of life we once knew. Yet, we were, and often still are, going through the grieving process without the support of friends, due to restrictions, but also changing wellworn grieving rituals such as funerals and wakes. Everything has shifted. Despite this, grief is not something talked about or acknowledged, which is why I welcome this book and felt it was important to review. this sent her into a downward spiral of grief and depression alongside PTSD. It was a dark period in her life, and it was at least two years before she could write, or even read books, again. When she did start to write it was a slow process, but I feel the book is all the better for it. She has poured her own feelings into every word and acknowledges the difficulty and the pian. She does not shy away from this and encourages readers to acknowledge their own pain whilst instilling hope in them.
The author, Penelope Swithinbank, writes from a place of her own grief. Eleven years ago, she watched her elderly, yet still fit and active, mother being killed in a tragic accident involving a runaway car. In the book, Penelope acknowledges that
This is a book which has the potential to be depressing, but Swithinbank has risen above that instead focussing on areas which can help one to heal. With a mixture of devotions and prayer, with accompanying bible verses, the book is aimed squarely at the Christian market. I particularly like the first section which deals with key dates after the death such as the deceased’s birthday, the readers own birthday, Christmas, Easter etc. All the times when you would - 76 -
About Penelope Swithinbank
normally be celebrating with the loved one you have lost.
Penelope Swithinbank has a portfolio of experience which has helped to shape the way she now works as a self-employed retired person!
Scent of Water is a stunning hardback book which is in a gift size and is beautifully illustrated throughout. If you know anyone who is grieving, then this would make a thoughtful gift.
The portfolio ranges from being the franchisor businesswoman who created Bumpsadaisy, a national franchise to rent and sell maternity wear, to becoming ordained in the Church of England, where she is now a Chaplain at Bath Abbey. And along the way she has had 3 books published, been a Rector in South Carolina, opened the US Senate in prayer, led pilgrimages in both the UK and Europe, and run a retreat house. Penelope loves walking and has just completed 150 miles in 13 days walking from Winchester to Canterbury on the Pilgrims Way. She is grandmother to 6 almost-teenagers and says the grandchildren are so great she should have had them first.
This book will help those who have lost someone close and who need words of comfort and hope. It soothes like a literary balm and yet deals with raw emotions and real grief.
You can buy signed copies of the book from the author via her website Penelope Swithinbank, or from any bookstore or online retailer.
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The Anonymous Poet by Stan Phillips Long ago that anonymous poet walked the wild woods. Watched the bright or shrouded dawns break over a hoar clad lake. Counted the majestic matchless sunsets with the clouds red and gold and glorious in the endless heavens. And the birds that sang and soared. The fox that scurried. The hare that leapt. The field mouse creeping in the corn.
But his words are still there.
Endless days filled with words of wonder that he wrote upon lost pages, or recited in murky taverns.
Spoken still, or sung to tunes he never knew. Softly touching in a world he could never have imagined.
That told of the sights he had seen.
He did not write for wealth or fame or posterity, but rather for the joy of the fleeting poem.
The places he had been. Lost love.
The words on the page.
The wonder of their creation.
Sacred and profane.
He told it all.
It was sufficient.
And went then into history.
And still, for poets everywhere, it remains so.
With naught but a fading memory echoing in his wake.
Stan Phillips 2020 ©
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: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips - 78 -
Word Search By Mom’s Favorite Reads
You can find the answers for this activity on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/magazines/activities/ - 79 -
World Honey Bee Day by Melanie P. Smith
Cover design created to honor World Honey Bee Day
World Honey Bee Day is always the third Saturday in August. It’s a time to recognize the honey bee and honor the beekeepers who tend to the hives and protect this vital species — which is in decline and at risk of extinction.
Ways to Observe World Honey Bee Day... ♦
Survival of the honey bees is intertwined with our own survival. They are essential to healthy crops and their rapid decline is threatening our global food supplies. Many plants can only thrive when pollinated by honey bees. Conversely, honey bees depend on the sweet nectar from these same plants to thrive in their natural habitat.
World Honey Bee Day is the perfect time for bee fans everywhere to show their love for these iconic insects. Bees are the buzzing heart of plants, flowers, vegetables and so much more. Honey is a tasty treat on it’s own, but we also use it in baked goods, teas and other sweet treats. So, this August 21st, what will you do to honor these amazing insects?
Collect and spread local wildflower seeds to promote honey bee pollination. (Clover, alfalfa, lavender, orange and chestnut are all good sources of nectar for honey bees. Replace your usual sweetener with honey for the day Give the gift of honey to a friend, co-worker or family member Avoid pesticides and herbicides. Chemical sprays are harmful to bees. Try some natural, bee friendly alternatives Build a bee garden — Plant an array of bee friendly herbs and flowers. Focus on those plants that attract bees like mint, lavender and poppies. Pick flowers that are native to your area and try to select a variety of plants that will bloom at different times. Also, add some twigs and pebbles to give the bees a place to land. Check your area to see if there are any organized events or local festivities to celebrate World Honey Bee Day. Attend a local farmers market. Organize a seed swap in your neighborhood to motivate your neighbors to plant bee friendly gardens.
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: https://authors.thefussylibrarian.com/?ref=goylake 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! - 80 -
Brought to you by...
The August issue of Connections eMagazine is dedicated to the winners of our annual Reader’s Choice Awards. We had some amazing books from some talented authors. I hope you will take a minute to check them out.
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. https://melaniepsmith.com/ https://melaniepsmith.com/emagazine/
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: https://melaniepsmith.com/emagazine-landing/ - 81 -
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: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/hannah-howe/
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: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/melanie-p-smith/
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. https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/sylva-fae/
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 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: https://www.wendyhjones.com/
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 is currently working on two additional books: Tears of Strathnaver and Women of Courage—A Forgotten Figure—Frances Connolly. You can learn more about Sheena on her website: https://www.sheenas-books.co.uk/
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Feature Editor—T.E, Hodden As Feature Editor T.E. Hodden works diligently to provide content that is interesting, informative and professional. He is a trained engineer and a life-long fan of comic books, Sci-Fi, myths, legends and history. Get to know more about TE Hodden on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/t-e-hodden/
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: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/grant-leishman/
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: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/poppy-flynn/
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 on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: Paul Godding — http://7puzzleblog.com/answers/ Stan Phillips — https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips/ Father Ian Maher — https://imaherblog.wordpress.com/
Discover more amazing authors… https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/
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