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Celtic Christmas — Stories, Articles, Gifts, & Books Sponsored by Mom’s Favorite Reads .................................................................... 8 PARTICIPANTS — Poppy Flynn, RhiWax, Maressa Mortimer, Tideline Ceramics, Wendy H. Jones, Paul Roberts, In the Welsh Wind, Lorraine Smith,
Craig Daly, Diane Humbley, Rebecca Bryn, Welsh Football Magazine
The Gift by Melanie P. Smith ............................................................................... 36 WebCam by Ross G. Homer .................................................................................. 52
The Magic of Christmas by Sylva Fae ................................................................. 67
Simply Stupid Silly Jokes for Kids by Navya (Age 6) .................................... 44
Laughter is the Best Medicine! by Hannah Howe ............................................. 35
Golden Autumn by Stan Phillips ......................................................................... 61 On the First Day of Lockdown by Stan Phillips ............................................... 66 Winter Time by Stan Phillips ............................................................................... 83
The Social Distancing Tango by Stan Phillips .................................................. 84
Mom’s Favorite Reads Author — Ronesa Aveela .............................................. 70
Forest Therapy by Sylva Fae .................................................................................. 42 Women of Courage: Heroines of the SOE by Hannah Howe ......................... 48 Classic Movies: Terminator by TE Hodden ....................................................... 63 The Plot Twist by Father Ian Maher .................................................................... 68 Things to Celebrate in December by Poppy Flynn .......................................... 72 Snow Dogs by Sylva Fae & Adrian Czarnecki .................................................. 77 Do You Need to Know the Reiki Symbol by Val Tobin .................................. 85
Oreo Brownies by Ceri Bladen .............................................................................. 50
20% OFF First Book Promotion with the Fussy Librarian ............................... 47 Connections eMagazine ......................................................................................... 71
Check Mate in 4—Supplied by Chess.com ........................................................ 51 Word Search by Mom’s Favorite Reads .............................................................. 76 Hot Rod Todd Coloring Pages .............................................................................. 88
The Commander by Dan Hendrickson ............................................................... 46
Celebrating Winter by Melanie P. Smith ........................................................... 40 Sger Coast in Winter by Hannah Howe .............................................................. 62
Celtic Christmas — Stories, Articles, Gifts, Books Sponsored by Moms’s Favorite Reads
Serendipity: Yule & Enchantments
By Poppy Flynn
Excerpt Seren was unaccountably nervous at having Siarl here, in her personal space, again. It made no sense at all, since he’d spent the last few days trapped there with her, but maybe that was why. Before neither of them had any choice. This time, they were meeting up because they wanted to…or was it just because neither of the had anyone else to spend Yule with?
Serendipity is a series of adult fantasy stories planned to coincide with the Celtic Wheel of the Year. It follows the exploits of bumbling Welsh witch, Seren Starlight.
Bumbling broomsticks, she wished she could stop second guessing everything. Maybe it really was just loneliness on both their parts. Well hers anyway. She couldn’t quite see Siarl as lonely. Except there was the gift… As soon as she’d found the tiny little fur-ball critter, curled up asleep, in her pocket, she had known without a doubt that she wanted to give it to Siarl. It was absolutely the most perfect prezzie to keep him from getting too sombre and subdued. As much as she wanted to keep the baby as a replacement for Happy, who she missed far more than she expected considering their brief association, Siarl needed a little bit of light and laughter in his life.
Seren Starlight isn’t your average witch. At 26 she’s yet to graduate from Ysgol Ddewiniaeth, the esteemed senior academy of witchcraft because she refuses to obey the rules.
Never mind the fact that she’d pulled out all the stops in her efforts to make - the old-fashioned way - a traditional Yule meal, focussing on timehonoured ingredients which came from the Earth itself. Nuts, berries, seasonal vegetables and hunted game. Well, hunted in theory. As much as they had more reason than most to celebrate the Earth’s rebirth this year, Seren drew the line at actually going out and hunting down their meal like their forefathers used to do. So admittedly, she’d conjured a nice, ready plucked and prepared goose, even if she had chosen to roast it in the oven herself with potatoes and parsnips and a minimal amount of magical help.
A magnet for misadventure, things always go wrong around her. She doesn’t realise the consequences of talking back to the principal sorcerer until she receives a rather stinging lesson. Destiny takes Seren on a series of Yuletide exploits during the Winter Solstice and she stumbles through them thanks to a string of happy accidents. Seren by name. Dippy in nature. Serendipity through fate. -8-
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a completely magic free meal, but hey, she was on a time limit here. She’d done most of the hard work; the detailed stuff like marinating and preparing and putting it all together. She might have used a magic spoon to do some of the heavy mixing, but that was just so she could do two things at once and she’d sped up the cooking times a little bit. None of that really counted, right?
“I didn’t doubt that for a moment,” he said, treating her to that sexy smile. “I just didn’t think you’d have the time. Being a witch makes it simple to just conjure things up for ease.” “Well, I’m glad you think so, because I might have prepared it, but I’m not risking everything going cold by serving it up the old-fashioned way, so take a seat and let’s eat.” When they’d finally eaten their fill and washed it down with wassail, Seren clapped her hands to take care of the clean up the easy way too. While the crockery and cutlery marched itself to her small kitchen and proceeded to wash itself up, Seren picked up the single gift that was under her tree.
Seren set a traditional Yule table with a green cloth to reflect the earth coming back to life and a gold runner to signify the return of the sun in the longer days. She arranged fat, red and gold candles as a centrepiece in a dish surrounded by pinecones, scented with oranges that had whole cloves pressed into their skin and sprigs of holly.
“I, um, got you something,” she said hesitantly, shuffling from foot to foot. Seren bit her lip and looked at the brightly coloured box, trimmed in gold ribbon, in her hand. Since she couldn’t take the words back, she shoved it clumsily at him.
It was late afternoon when Siarl arrived at her door.
With a snap of her fingers, Seren lit all the candles around the room, doused the main lights and illuminated the fairy lights on the Yule tree and the ones that were interspersed with the pine boughs adorning the windows.
“Thank you,” he said graciously as he took it from her but Seren had already turned away, folding her arms self-consciously over her chest as she stared at the dancing flames of the fire without really seeing them.
She worried that the overall result was inappropriately romantic, with the dim lighting and the cosy crackling of the Yule log in her fireplace, then decided it was time to quit worrying and just enjoy the evening for what it was.
Shitsickles, she was such an idiot. What on earth had possessed her to give a bouncy, chittering critter, that was more pest than pet, to a suave, sophisticated man like Principal Siarl Orias? Never mind the fact that he had said they couldn’t keep any, so she had blatantly gone against his wishes, even if she hadn’t exactly broken any rules, this time. Those merry berries must have knocked out a few of her brain cells.
He brought Carrot in and Seren made the injured fox comfortable on the soft sheep skin in front of the fire and placed a bowl of warm milk close by. “Something smells delicious,” Siarl commented as he looked around. Seeing the food cooking on the stove and in the oven, he whistled appreciatively. “Wow! You actually cooked?”
Seren gave him a mock glare and poked her finger into his chest. “I do know how!”
Yule & Enchantments is the second book in the series and releases on December 1st, exclusive to Amazon.
Siarl caught her finger and placed a kiss on the tip and Seren felt a corresponding flip in her tummy.
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Nollaig Shona Duit!
By Maressa Mortimer
If she doesn’t freeze before then. Her idea to buy a cloak specially for her quest now feels over the top. She had wanted to be in style, and the real lambswool cloak seemed a great idea. She wishes she had worn her normal, synthetic coat with sleeves and a zip. How did people manage to avoid hypothermia in the past?
They probably weren’t out near Midnight on Christmas Eve. Siobhan clenches her jaws, she had to, there had been no other option. Easter dates are too risky. It would still be light till much later in the evening so, arriving unseen near the Rock was too risky. The main factor had been the calendar. She wouldn’t have been sure of the dates, as different calendars would mean she could have the wrong date, and miss the chance for connection.
Siobhan brushes a tiny snowflake off her nose, squinting through the dark. The tree provides her with a dark area, convenient for checking out her goal. After a last quick glance she steps outside the shadowy area, making her way to another bush. Siobhan pulls her cloak tighter around herself. “I’ll be glad to wear my winter coat again,” then stops talking to herself, as she can see the little white puffs forming in the night air. It takes her half an hour to get to the gates. She doesn’t dare to get too close, sure that the cameras will pick her up. She taps her fitness tracker, and the luminous display tells her it’s an hour before Midnight. Good, she has plenty of time.
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Siobhan makes her way along the rough stone wall, making sure to stay in the darkest parts. She keeps glancing over her shoulder as well, it would be too awful if an innocent dog walker suddenly loomed up behind her.
A noise makes her spin round, thoughts of battles fresh in her mind. Siobhan tiptoes to a dark corner, trying to breathe without large clouds floating around her face. She crouches down, alert and still. Nothing moves, only the tiny white dots, swirling in a migraine-inducing way with each gust. It’s too early for the encounter to take place. What if there is another claimant? Siobhan’s heart does a jig. That would be too awful for words.
If only her calculations were right… More snow drifts down, clinging to her woollen cloak. She rounds a corner, relaxing a little, although there might still be cameras. Siobhan crouches a little, checking the wall, hoping for a spot where she might be able to climb over, without risking her neck. She has decided that she isn’t made for cloak-and-dagger stuff, in spite of her new cloak. Her knee feels bruised from contact with a jutting out stone, her feet numb, and her fingers might be permanently bent from clinging on to both sides of her cloak to stop it from blowing off into the dark.
As the place where she is hidden is slightly sheltered, she decides to wait there till midnight. She carefully takes a special necklace from her handbag. It has a blue background with three golden crowns embroidered on it. It took her some time to make it, but she had been determined; anything to improve the possibilities. So much hung in the balance, not just her reputation.
Minutes later, Siobhan sinks down on the frozen ground, vowing to get to the gym more often after all this is over. The frozen ground seems to be trying to integrate her, and she pushes herself up. From here she has got a good view of the courtyard. The buildings in sight are all newer, but she is convinced it’s the spot that matters, not the few ruined buildings.
At a few minutes before midnight, she slips out of the narrow area. The air quiet, she glances quickly past the mountain with the funny bite out of it, and tries to imagine which part of the courtyard would be best. What if it’s going to be near the ancient throne room, if there had been one? Her heart beating wildly, Siobhan moves towards the courtyard.
She slowly moves around the courtyard, keeping a sharp lookout for cameras. It’samazing how much light there is. In the far distance she spots Devil’s Bite, and shudders.
In the end she decides to go near the entrance to the main building, with a good view into some of the buildings as well. Surely she’ll notice if something is going to happen? She can tell when it’s midnight, as the far away church bell can just be heard. Siobhan waits, her breath coming in little puffs, then, as nothing happens, she decides to take the initiative. Fortune favours the bold, after all.
The mountain looks blacker and more evil than ever. Of course, it’s just a legend, but tonight, in the quietness of the ancient ruins, she wonders. A lot of those kind of stories had some truth to them. What if Patrick hadn’t chased the devil away completely? What if this site was still a battleground between good and evil.
Stepping forward that little bit, she calls out softly, “Hello?” Did that even get used as a greeting in the past? She pushes on, “My - 12 -
name is Siobhan, Siobhan Éogan, and I ehm…” She stops to scrape her throat, what does she say now? The stillness is crushing her, the ruins behind her shaped like a mocking mouth. Months of planning, plotting and thinking, and when she finally got her act together, she finds herself without the right words? “I
need you, King Aengus, it is Christmas, and I’m waiting here.” She feels her face flush, that sounds so needy, would the king despise a desperate woman? What if a later king came? After all, not much left for Aengus to come back to, even at Christmas. What about Cormac? “King Cormac? My last name is Éogan, I recognise your status as king,” she says, feeling better about that line. Nothing happens apart from the snow specks turning into small flakes, making it hard to look up. She swallows, “As I said, my name is Siobhan Éogan, and I wish to meet you.” Should that have been ‘desire’? After all, she is a descendant, she only needs physical proof. Tonight. She checks her watch. 00:13. She has missed it. “Please,” she doesn’t care about the sound of her voice any more. Has all this been for nothing? She will have to withdraw her application tomorrow. Too cold and miserable, she turns and stumbles towards the wall she climbed over to get in. Getting out should have been easier, it should - 13 -
also have been a moment too thrilling and exciting for words. Instead it’s a slinking away, back into the dark. Unable to see through her tears, Siobhan drops down the last bit, landing on the frozen ground. Her breath knocked out of her, she finds herself unwilling to move. Instead, she allows her tears to melt the thin layer of snow under her face. All is lost, she doesn’t belong, no king came to claim her or confirm who she is. Unable to move, Siobhan closes her eyes, feeling sick down to her stomach. That’s when she hears the voice, clearly coming from the little town at the bottom of the Rock. A sweet, haunting voice, clear as the icicle close by, cutting through the snowy night. Singing about another night, a night in Bethlehem, long ago, when a King did come. Siobhan lifts her head, using her cloak to half-heartedly dry her cheeks. Maybe she has met the High King already. Slowly, she sits up, letting the beautiful melody float over her, Don oíche úd I mBeithil, beidh tagairt ar ghréin go brách… Her frozen cheeks crinkle into a smile, “Nollaig Shona Duit, Daughter of the Eogannacht, a Merry Christmas to you!” she whispers to herself. Who needs to win anyway?
By Crochenwaith Llinell y Llanw
I make hand thrown and sculpted pottery in my small studio in West Wales. I'm inspired by the coast and seascapes around me, often walking on the beach and tideline to get ideas (and to exercise the dog). I'm interested in the textures, colours and contrasts created by nature and try to use some of these effects in my work. I use stoneware clay, which is strong and durable, and generally high fire my work, meaning that it is oven, dishwasher and microwave safe. All my glazes are food safe unless stated otherwise. www.etsy.com/uk/shop/tidelineceramics
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Scotland’s Husband and Wife Creative Team
By Wendy H. Jones
Scotland has a rich history of both writing and crafts and this love for both continues today. Husband and wife team Catherine Czerkawska embody this as Catherine is an author and Alan an artist and woodcrafter, both highly acclaimed both nationally and internationally. I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview them for Mom’s Favorite Reads.
Catherine Czerkawska Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
small rural village in the Scottish lowlands, and have done for many years. It’s a lovely, friendly place to live, but it does mean that I’m a bit out of the loop as far as the urban literary scene is concerned. On the other hand, the pandemic has meant that we all are, to some extent. It’s a great place to write – I’m lucky enough to have an office upstairs with a beautiful view of the garden, and the woods on the edge of the village, so it’s very inspirational, especially since a lot of what I write has a Scottish historical background. I have many writer and artist friends, and I’m keeping up with them on social media, but I do miss contact, meetings, chats and hugs!
I was born in Yorkshire to a Polish dad and an English/Irish mum. We moved to Scotland when I was twelve. Since then, I’ve lived and worked in a number of places: Ayrshire (where I live now with my artist husband, Alan Lees) Edinburgh, Fife, Finland, Poland and the Canary Isles. I started out as a poet, then worked as a full time playwright for some years, writing radio drama for BBC R4, some television and a number of stage plays, including two full length plays for the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. However, about twenty years ago, I decided that I wanted to focus on fiction, and that’s more or less what I’ve been doing ever since – although I still have the occasional foray into drama. I also collect antique textiles, and sometimes deal in them online to make a little extra money to keep the wolf from the door. My husband and I have been freelance for much of our working lives and earning a living can be precarious.
Also, our son is living and working in Barcelona at the moment – he works as a video game economy designer – and I haven’t seen him since last Christmas. We probably won’t see him till spring, so as you can imagine, I’m waiting and praying for the vaccine. I have done quite a lot of work throughout the pandemic. It’s good to have a bolt hole I can retreat to. I try to write every day, although for much of this year I’ve been involved with major edits on a couple of old projects, and starting to research a new book about my Polish grandfather. I’ve dug out a big box of old research I did before the internet was available and now I’m finding out even more.
You’re firmly rooted in Scotland’s thriving literary scene. Can you give us a flavour of life as an author in Scotland? I live in a two hundred year old cottage in a - 15 -
Where did this love of all things Scottish history come from?
This is a hard one but which of your books would you say you enjoyed writing the most and why?
I have an English Language and Literature MA from Edinburgh University, but I specialised in Mediaeval Studies, and a lot of that involved old Scots literature and history. I’ve always been interested in it. Then I did a Postgraduate Masters in something called Folk Life Studies, which is more or less social history – and again, I specialised in Scottish oral history – things handed down by word of mouth. Later, I got very interested in 18th century Scotland and researched a novel called The Physic Garden about one of the young gardeners at the old college of Glasgow University and his friendship with one of the professors of about the same age. It’s a rather sad book because it’s about betrayal as well as friendship, but still one of my favourites. I got very interested in that period, which stood me in good stead when I began to write about Robert Burns’s longsuffering and neglected but wonderful wife, Jean Armour. The more I found out about her, the more I loved her. The result was a novel about her called The Jewel because he wrote that she was ‘the jewel of them all’. She certainly was.
It’s usually the next book, the one I’m working on right now. I’m currently researching a book called The Last Lancer, about my Polish grandfather, who died in the war. It will be non-fiction, although I’ll be telling his extraordinary story, and imagining things. However, there’s a book called Bird of Passage that – even though I’m traditionally published by an excellent small publisher called Saraband – has never even been read by any publisher – so I published it myself. Oddly enough, I think it’s probably one of the best things I’ve written, and one of the books I’ve most enjoyed writing. It’s available as an eBook and I’m hoping to get it out in paperback quite soon because quite a few people have asked me about it. It’s set mostly on a fictional Scottish island, and is a big, heartrending family tale, a love story – and it owes at least some of its inspiration to Wuthering Heights, a novel I’ve loved since I was young.
This magazine is read worldwide, what would you say to readers from other countries who are looking for Scottish novels to read and which one of yours would you recommend?
You write historical fiction. Why do you think it is important for us to document Scotland’s history in novel form?
I would recommend that people go back to Robert Louis Stevenson and read Kidnapped and Catriona, two novels I adapted for radio many years ago, and still love very much. They are books that entertain while telling you a great deal about Scotland. Of my own books, I would recommend The Curiosity Cabinet, which is very accessible, and is still a story that I’m fond of. There is also a book called The Posy Ring. This is, to some extent, a continuation of the Curiosity Cabinet, in that some of the characters appear in both books. Both books are published in paperback and as eBooks. They are set on the same fictional Hebridean island, and both follow past and present day stories, although nobody goes back in time, so they aren’t quite
There was a period, some years ago, when historical fiction went completely out of fashion. I couldn’t sell anything. Fortunately, all that changed, because I’ve always loved writing historical fiction. And yes – I do think it’s important to document Scotland’s history and doing it in novel form means that it’s accessible to more people. We didn’t used to learn enough about Scottish history, back when I was at school. I try to make it as accurate as I possibly can, but I also try to make it interesting to read, and entertaining. I tend to do plenty of research and immerse myself in a particular time and place before even starting to write a book. Then I can feel as though I’m back in time when I’m writing. - 16 -
Her blog is at ‘time slip’ books. But there are connections between past and present in both of them. The Posy Ring was meant to be the first in a trilogy. I’d love to write the other books in the series, all based around a historic island house and its contents and two main characters, Daisy and Cal, (and a dog called Hector) and I probably will, as soon as I’ve finished the Last Lancer. Those who have read it seem to like it a lot – and they like The Curiosity Cabinet too – so I feel that if I can give it a little push in the right direction, I can tell the rest of the story. I know what happens next, and people keep reminding me that they want to find out too.
https://www.catherineczerkawska.co.uk/ Catherine Czerkawska is an extensively published and award winning writer of fiction (novels and short stories) non fiction, poetry and plays for theatre, BBC radio and television. Born in Yorkshire, of Polish and Irish parentage, she has spent most of her life in Scotland.
Her historical novels include The Physic Garden, set in early nineteenth-century Glasgow, The Jewel, about Robert Burns’s wife, Jean Armour and The Posy Ring published by Saraband. In 2019 Contraband published A Proper Person to be Detained, a personal family story that takes us from Ireland to the industrial heartlands of England and Scotland. Other novels include Bird of Passage and The Amber Heart. She is currently working on a new book about her Polish grandfather: The Last Lancer. Her stage plays include two full length plays for Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre: Wormwood, about the Chernobyl disaster and Quartz. She has written plays for Glasgow’s Oran Mor venue, television drama and more than 100 hours of drama for BBC R4.
She has served on the committee of the Society of Authors in Scotland and spent four years as Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the University of the West of Scotland.
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all. There is even a name for what I do – ‘outsider art’. And then occasionally, if somebody is spotted by a celebrity, the outsider is admitted to the inside! Again, this is very much like publishing. But ordinary people do seem to appreciate the work I do.
Alan Lees You are both an artist and a woodcarver, which I think is pretty impressive. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? After quite a long career at sea – first as a trawler skipper, and then as a charter yacht skipper and sailing instructor, I decided that I wanted to spend more time at home after our son, Charles, was born. I’d always been interested in woodworking, and I started experimenting with carving, although that also involved sketching designs. That quickly progressed to making hand carved rocking horses, as well as huge outdoor carvings for various venues. I did a lot of rocking horse restoration too. I hadn’t really thought about it till I was approached by people with old, much loved rocking horses. The most difficult one I ever worked on arrived as a bunch of charred sticks in a box – it had been put on a bonfire and rescued by its original owner. His family wanted it restored for him, for a ‘big’ birthday. Its name was Hovis and it was beautiful – eventually! I think he was very moved to see it. Working on rocking horses involved saddlery and various other skills as well. I’m largely self taught, but I’m a very practical person.
Do you prefer one or the other, which I suppose is like asking a father to choose between his children. It’s a case of necessity. I loved carving but it was hard work. Wood – especially hard wood – is very heavy to work with. And I enjoy painting. I love colour particularly. When I’m painting, I like to work with very vivid colours and create scenes with lots of figures and activity, paintings that tell a story.
I’m fascinated by woodworking as I can’t get my head around it. What processes do you go through from idea to finished product I sketch out a very rough design, find the right piece of wood (that isn’t always easy) and then I cut off all the bits that don’t look like the idea in my head. I suppose that’s shorthand for ‘I don’t really know how it works’. It just seems to emerge, somehow, from the right piece of wood. But it is a very long and difficult process.
Eventually, I developed serious arthritis and could no longer tackle the big carvings, sometimes outdoor carvings, that had been my trademark, so I turned to painting, in acrylics, and have had some success with that. But I still do occasional small carvings.
I believe you were commissioned to do a life size carving of Tam O’ Shanter. Who was he and tell us more about the carving.
What is the artistic scene like in Scotland?
Tam o’ Shanter and Meg or Maggie, his mare, were characters from the long Robert Burns poem of the same name. Farmer Tam o’ Shanter (from Shanter farm on the Ayrshire coast, a place that still exists to this day) had been to Ayr on market day, got very drunk, and set off to ride home on his ‘grey mare Meg’. He passed ‘Alloway’s auld haunted kirk’ – also still in existence – and saw the devil playing the bagpipes for a dance of witches – a horrific sight. There was one pretty, young witch called Nannie,
Like publishing, it’s very hard to break into unless your face fits. I’ve encountered quite a lot of snobbery in the UK. There are a favoured few. Also, there’s this perception that if you’re a skilled craftsperson – which is what woodcarving demands – you can’t also be ‘artistic’. Technical skills don’t seem to be taught in art schools any more, and yet that’s what people want – something beautiful but beautifully made. I’m not really part of that traditional artistic scene at - 18 -
wearing a very short petticoat: a cutty sark in Scots. Tam forgets himself, calls out to her, and then is chased by the whole coven. Brave Meg manages to carry him across the bridge over the River Doon. The witches can’t cross running water. But Nannie pulls off poor Maggie’s tail. She ‘brought off her master hale, but left behind her ain grey tail.’ It’s a wonderful, funny, frightening poem that Burns wrote when he was living at Ellisland Farm down in Galloway.
world asking me what became of it because they loved it so much.
During lockdown you did a carving of The Last Supper. That’s pretty impressive. Why the last supper? My recent Last Supper carving was started years ago and finished during lockdown. It took many months of hard work to finish – and that was only achieved because I could sit down to do it. I started off working on it in my workshop at the bottom of the garden, worked on it throughout the summer, but brought it indoors when the weather turned colder, and finished it off in the house. It was originally requested by an American customer who changed his mind. I put it away and forgot about it, but got it out again during lockdown, and decided to finish it. I loved doing it. It’s a high relief carving and working on all those figures wasn’t easy, but it was very rewarding, even though it was complicated. I wanted it to look as though the disciples were enjoying themselves. I’m pretty sure Jesus would have been very good company, even though it was a solemn occasion. I’d love to find a home for it in a church or similar religious setting.
I was asked to do a life size carving of Tam and Meg for a Burns anniversary, for Alloway where the poet was born. It was incredibly popular. Meg is sitting on her haunches, as horses occasionally do, exhausted, with Tam leaning on her. People used to rub the horse’s nose and it got beautifully shiny. But when the National Trust took over at the Burns centre they decided that they didn’t want it. (More artistic snobbery, I fear.) However, a number of other places did want it very much and it found a home at a local farm park, where I believe they are looking after it. I still get people from around the
His website is at:
https://www.alanleesartist.com/news - 19 -
I make hand carved, bespoke axes, knives, shields, tools, pendants and bushcraft equipment. Every design is uniquely created and hand drawn for each client. Typically, this is around a Nordic or Viking style, but I have designed pieces from company logos, album covers, military, Nature and even Tyson Fury the boxer!
https://www.instagram.com/bushmansurvival/ https://www.bushmansurvival.com/ www.bushmansurvival.com/etsy-shop
Fully customised designs based around the things that you love. Iâ€™m a 26 year Army veteran who now lives on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, South Wales. Iâ€™m fortunate enough to live in a beautiful farmhouse that was built in 1590! I occasionally teach a bit of Bushcraft but my main staple is carving.
Testimonial: Paul Roberts of Bushman Survival was great to work with. He created a beautiful design, based on my ideas, and the finished knife was amazing! The quality and craftsmanship are outstanding, and all the more special because it is a unique gift. -Sylva Fae
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In the Welsh Wind
range of spirits: 6 distinctive gins and a caskaged rum celebrating the traditions and quirks of Wales. You can take part in a gin making or gin tasting experience at the distillery or, if you prefer, create your own bespoke bottle of gin using our Tailor Your Gin platform. The distillery is pioneering a grain to glass Welsh whisky, produced entirely from Welsh barley, in Wales: an exciting new development in the Welsh whisky sector. For more information, visit www.inthewelshwind.co.uk
In the Welsh Wind is a distillery sitting out on the very west coast of Wales. The distillery is home to In the Welsh Wind Signature Style Gin, featuring botanicals synonymous with Wales: orange, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. In the Welsh Wind develops and distils custom spirits (many award-winning) for other businesses and also produces the Eccentric
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By Lorraine Smith
“Well lad, age? He answered ”twenty-one Sir,” trying to sound like a native. The Sergeant gave him a long look and asked “Are you from Dundee?” He swallowed and replied, “I'm fae Lochee”. The Sergeant looked at him long and hard, taking in the newly cut hair and shaved face. The skin on the lower half of the face clearly lighter than the rest of it.
“Ok, sign here” he pointed to the papers in front of him The recruiters line was long, it seemed that everyone wanted to join up. Some of the men in line looked thin and hungry. Dundee was a poor place despite the wealth of the jute Barons. The crowded slums and poor working conditions were ideal companions to the hunger and disease which racked Dundee. The men in line, their collars turned up against the cold were there to sign on. For most of them the reasons were financial. The separation allowances and other benefits were an incentive. He thought of his wife, Esther, and their four children. The war had raged now for over a year and despite the casualty lists, he would take the chance.The man beside him nudged his arm. “Now mind your name’s Martin Levin and don’t get chatty” “Aye Ok” he replied trying to disguise his accent, the distinctive sound of Ukranian vowels slipping through. “ Keep it short, man,an if they ask, your fae Lochee”. Andy shook his head. He was a few years older, at twenty- eight. He admired the younger man for his courage, but that accent! There was no King and Country in this line, they were selling themselves for money and pensions for their bairns - If they could pass as fit. The line moved slowly but they were at the front now. Andy looked at his friend “Ok wer’re up”. The Doctor checked them, sounded chests, cough etc. He moved and stood in front of the wooden table, still fastening his shirt. The recruiting Sergeant looked up.
He signed, his hand shaking slightly. Andy slapped him on the back as they stepped back out into the cold . They walked together up the High Street and parted in the Nethergate, each going separate ways, for now. He made his way up the street and into his own building. Esther was busy, she turned as the door opened bringing in a cold blast. She looked, shocked at his clean shaven face. And cut hair. All that set them apart now gone. She settled her children with food, they were curious, nor sure who the beardless man was. When he spoke, they were sure again. Their Papa, but different. The next weeks were awkward, he left work at the docks, was inducted into his Battalion, and now had to billet in Dudhope Castle overnight. In the morning he would march from there to the train station. He looked at himself in the mirror. The stranger gazed back. The soldier there looked uneasy. The heavy kilt felt strange. The uniform made him look older than his 20 years. His shaved face was new to him, the beard gone, along with the side locks. As he faced himself, his children crept slowly into the reflection, and looked at their father, their faces solemn and uncertain. Helena, the youngest, steadying herself on her chubby toddler legs. She grabbed at his kilt and gazed up at him holding the thick wool with tiny hands. She wasn’t sure, and even as he bent to lift her and she was swung up into his arms she - 22 -
erupted in tears, her face red and her cry shrill. The moment had come. His wife was busying herself at the sink, trying to delay the inevitable. He walked to the threshold of the bedroom, the child sobbing in his arms. The three boys following, unsure. Esther looked out of the small window, the drizzle misting the glass. Her heart was pounding. She turned quickly, drying her hands on her apron.
Her husband stood there in the doorway, the toddler clinging to him, her crying now just a weary whine. The child knew something was different, but not what. Esther stared, he looked so different, his sons peering out behind him, the eldest just four, the others, three, and barely two years old. Helena just 11 months. They had been fruitful since their marriage just five years earlier.
His kit bag sat ready by the front door. His new life packed up inside. A soldier’s life. He had joined the Black Watch 4th Battalion, Dundee’s own, and now stood fully kitted out with kilt and cap. Esther ran to him, all they had was each other. Family and friendships left behind in another Empire. They had come here to Dundee, all their wealth in the children they carried. That was seven months ago. Now he was shorn of all that marked him out, no beard, no side locks, but still they felt welcome and at home here. The morning was cold, the haar from the Tay chilling everything it touched. He stood to attention, drawing the cold air into his lungs. The same cold as back home. A small place, in a large steppe. He felt a pang of homesickness. They were marching, out onto Lochee Road, down into the town centre. as they passed through the Nethergate, he saw her, Esther with Helena carried on her hip and his sons standing on the pavement looking eagerly for their Papa. As he swung past them, his kilt swinging, His eldest spotted him - “Papa! Papa! Kiltie! His boys, shouted again and again,” Papa! Kiltie!
They stood still looking at each other, the silence was overwhelming. As they watched each other they realised that they may never see each other again.
The column turned down to the train station, his boys cries ringing in his ears. Their voices had the distinct Dundee twang. His heart was pounding, his spirit surged, Dundee’s own.
Lorraine is a keen student of history and writes about Dundee during WW1 and WW2.Her main interest is WW1 and comes from family research and family lore told to her when she was a child. Research has uncovered the interesting stories behind each family member’s path to war, and also the stories of those who stayed behind. These now form the basis of a novel using the stories of her grandparents. - 23 -
By Craig Daly Craig Daly is a Welsh illustrator/designer, originally from Cardiff, now based in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. Craig creates cute and punny sheep based illustrations and gifts for his company Eweniverse. He creates collectable enamel pin badges, mugs, coasters, tote bags and more. His webshop is www.eweniverse.com. Please visit for more details. https://www.etsy.com/shop/eweniverse
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Winter in Wales
By Maressa Mortimer The hill looked so smooth, its rounded head a rusty brown, contrasting with the pale winter sky above, around. My breath the only clouds. I park my car, my lungs protesting at the sudden chill.
The mountains and hills, so distinct, unique
Shivering, I tug at my coat, my eyes searching for the path.
and my non-trained mind uses them as reference, simply Celtic Mountains, when faced
I find it, my feet eager to get up. The rest of me...not so keen.
with rounded, calming, sloping hills, where ever placed.
What seemed so smooth no longer there, replaced by stunning views, the Brecons, the mountains, and that one,
Mountains with names hard work, tongue stumbling,
is that Sugar Loaf? Or is it Pen-Y-Fan?
resembling the laborious breath steaming.
I feel regret, determined to know next time.
Smooth sounding names, pleasant to hear, The summit reached, I sink down on a rock.
reminding me of ages past, suddenly feeling near.
No longer cold, apart from my nose. My eyes drink in the scene, my heart high
Of singing and music in the minor key,
joining the Red Kite, soaring, swooping.
of forgotten people with names still around. My car far below, a coloured speck surrounded by huge grey rocks, dotted with sheep.
Of chapels all sheltered, and castles which survey
Always sheep, I smile, thinking back
the Valleys, more than just that.
to special holidays, beaches, walks and sheep. My car is warm, my coffee warm even now, I shiver, the exertion wearing off,
my body grateful for a comfy seat.
the winter air once more reality.
I smile at large words painted on the road,
My legs complain, not impressed
Araf, slow. Yes, I promise, I will slow down.
with what I call a gentle hill, hardly a mountain. - 25 -
Scotland’s Celtic Creatives
By Wendy H. Jones
When asked to write an article about Scotland’s creative community I was weighed down with the enormity of the task; not because I didn’t know who to choose, rather because there were so many outstanding creatives from which to choose. Then I realised, what a fabulous dilemma this was. Therefore, in a bid to share some new talent I share their stories, their books and their crafts.
Quarryside Crafts Lorraine Miller started crafting 7 years ago when she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Rather than wallowing in self-pity she decided to focus on something positive and turned to the creative side of her personality and Quarryside Crafts was born. Crafting helps her to focus on the things she can do rather than worrying about the things she can’t. While Lorraine produces a range of products, to suit every taste, her real love is for crafts that reflect her Scottish heritage. These individually craft items display her love of the country and all it embodies. In addition to changing focus, Lorraine also opened a shop where she sells, not only her own crafts, but supports up and coming Scottish crafters to reach a new audience.
You can find Lorraine on facebook or visit her shop, Quarryside Crafts and Accessories 32 West High St. Forfar.
Wee Craft Hame Wee Craft Hame is a Carnoustie based business run by Jemma Stone. Jemma, the mother of three children, combines raising children with running her own business. She specialises in Pyrography, each piece burned by hand, making them special and unique. While her creations include arrange of designs, her Celtic collection embodies Scotland and its folklore. Yes, dragons really are a part of Scottish folklore, particularly in the City of Dundee. That’s a story for another day.
You can find out more on Facebook and on Etsy as Wee Craft Hame http://www.facebook.com/weecrafthame - 26 -
Wendy H. Jones Author and Writing Coach After 23 years serving in both the Royal Navy and the Army and a stint in academia, Scottish Author Wendy H. Jones turned to a life of crime. In a literary sense of course. She writes books that can literally cover all your reading needs from the cradle to the grave. She started with Gritty crime the award winning DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. Following this, she turned her hand to young adult books in the award nominated Fergus and Flora Mysteries, humorous crime in the Cass Claymore Investigates series and non-fiction books for authors the Writing Matters series. She never intended writing children’s picture books, so imagine her surprise when she was asked to write a children’s picture book based on the true story of a young water buffalo that ran away in Fife, Scotland. Bertie the Buffalo was born, and the wee escape artist also has his own soft toy and colouring book.
Mary Craig Author and Historian Some historians are known as hedgehogs, happily snuffling about rooting out the minutest of historical details. Others are known as eagles, soaring on high they see the great vistas of historical events. A few are known as magpies: if something shiny and interesting catches their eye they will try to capture it where possible. Mary Craig is a magpie. She writes as Mary W. Craig, and is a writer and historian, as well as a former Carnegie scholar and a graduate of the University of Glasgow. She writes historical fiction and non-fiction about ordinary people and how they lived their lives buffeted by the politics and economics of the elite. Her latest book, Borders Witch Hunt, gives us a fascinating insight into the 17th Century Borders’ Witch Hunt Trials.
Wendy lives in Dundee, Scotland where her books are set. Mysteries were the obvious choice for her to write as, not only does she read mainly mysteries, but crime and mystery books are Scotland’s second biggest export after whisky. She sometimes wonders what the rest of the world must think of Scotland. You can find out more on her website https://www.wendyhjones.com
You can find out more about Mary and her book via her website https://www.luath.co.uk/product/borders-witchhunt - 27 -
By Diane Humbley
I started this in the year covid 19 robbed me of my dad suddenly and unexpectedly. He used to grow and 'breed' fuchsias, he travelled all over the country giving talks and winning prizes, he also had a healthy fondness for whiskey, and every special occasion I could I would buy him a special bottle. When he passed I felt I had lost everything and I had no way of having a proper memorial due to the restrictions and I wanted to do something just for me, I acquired one whiskey barrel with the intention of planting one of his own fuchsias in it (all his grandchildren have fuchsias named after them). I cut it in half and started experimenting with a simple design as a practice (a paw print) but it came out so nicely I was asked to make another four..it has barrel rolled from there (excuse the pun couldn't resist.) I have yet to make my own pot; but to be honest when I am making these barrels I know my dad is chuckling and watching. He especially would love the connection and seen the funny side. So in a way it has been the start of a healing process...I will never not miss my dad and our conversations but I know he would be so proud of these and what I am doing.
https://www.facebook.com/Barreled-Over104584361335297/ https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BarreledOver https://www.instagram.com/barreledover https://twitter.com/BCwmbran - 28 -
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If she scrimped to make the most of a piece of cloth it was because, ‘I ets to goo accordin.’ And if she worked until the early hours to finish a suit, it was because the customer ‘Ets to ev it.’ Devotees of the Evening Telegraph cartoon Air Ada will know what I mean.
Ooh, Air Margrit
By Rebecca Bryn
*** Grandma had never had an easy life. She was the oldest girl of eight children and brought up seven siblings when her mother died young: her maternal grandmother had already been found dead in a stream at Yardley Hastings, her family home. Grandma’s father, Ebenezer, Mum told me, was no help at all. He was an alcoholic wifebeater who drank his wages on a Friday night in The Cherry Tree or The Woolpack unless Grandma met him at the gasworks’ gate and begged enough cash to feed his family. ‘We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Margaret…’ Dai Davies, lay-preacher at the cathedral and pillar of the community, stands beside the coffin in the crematorium chapel as if carved from the same Welsh oak: he rolls the Rs in Margaret and lilts in a rich, melodic baritone about my mother, a woman he’s never met.
According to the 1901 census, Ebenezer was a stoker of the coking ovens at the gas works in the days when coal produced town-gas: it was a hard, filthy, sweaty job that drove the stoutest men to drink. Mum said he was a horrible man, but maybe the hardships of life made him that way. Although I never knew him, he is my first certain, dateable memory.
My mind rebels at the platitudes for, although I loved my mother, and I know she loved me, my relationship with her was ambiguous, even difficult at times: there was never that mother/ daughter closeness between us, and the older, and more dependent, she became the more restrictive and binding were the apron strings.
I’d crawled into the middle bedroom of Grandma’s back-street terrace, where an old man lay in bed. I remember that I stood up, and we stared at each other, but no words were exchanged between us. According to his death certificate, he died when I was 22 months old.
Whatever the reasons for my greatgrandfather’s drinking and violence, Grandma
I’m ashamed to say I felt relief when she died: relief at finally being free tinged with familiar guilt. She died on her eighty-seventh birthday and, though I’d taken her present-hunting only days before, I hadn’t visited her on her special day. With her death, the spectre of my own mortality drew me to dredge through family history, and I’ve begun to understand Mum’s relationship with her own mother, Grandma’s relationship with her parents, and the impact they had on my relationship with Mum. Northamptonshire born and bred, Grandma was a tailoress, nimble-fingered whether sewing or knitting, and nimble-tongued in the broad dialect peculiar to Kettering. If a garment needed taking in, it was ‘A bit over-fully.’ - 30 -
unhappiness that her mother had fostered in her. Photographs taken between the wars show stiff figures, with sombre expressions, and served only to revive bad childhood memories for Mum. Maybe the next generation, or the next will live untrammelled by the after-effects of war, the violence of a gasworks stoker and the depression of a young woman robbed of her childhood and love. *** Dai Davies raises his voice, bringing me back to the service I’d almost forgotten about. I notice that the owner of the care home has come, and two of Mum’s care workers are sitting by her. ‘Margaret had an interesting life. She joined the WAF in 1939 and was stationed at RAF Holt in Norfolk, a county for which she retained an abiding affection. She drove the blood lorries…’ Light from the stained-glass window paints the pale oak red, blue, and green and kisses Dai’s right hand. He’s getting into his stride now, even though the crematorium service isn’t a religious one.
never learned to show love or affection, or to spark that gift in her daughter. I wonder how Ebenezer got on with Grandad, his son-in-law. I adored my Grandad: he’d fought in the cavalry in the Great War and a sepia photo of him in uniform, on his horse, took pride of place in the front room in Regent Street. My present work in progress, ‘The Dandelion Clock’ is inspired by his wartime experiences. I have his army fork and the two purpletopped Cowrie shells he brought home, and a silver spoon he won showing a Dutch rabbit at Olympia in 1928. The rabbit won best in show and he was very proud of it: its name was Maurice… odd the things that stick in your mind.
Odd, or maybe not so odd, that Mum couldn’t – hadn’t been able to stand the sight of blood. Dad’s war service consisted of working as an electrician at Stewarts and Lloyds, the steel works at Corby. He and Mum had met through their respective brothers, who were close friends. Mum told me that when she took Dad home to meet her parents, Grandma’s disapproving comment was, ‘Ooh, air Margrit, couldn’t yu ev done better en that?’ True, Dad was small and wiry, balding, with a hook nose, a scar the length of his forehead, and was blind in one eye due to an altercation between a wooden trolley and a two-ton truck at the age of eight – which was why he escaped being called-up, but, well, Grandma spoke as she found.
I had an empathy with Grandad, as well as a shared love of horses and nature. He’d gone to war a farm boy and came back from Palestine with a wanderlust that never left him. But he’d promised Grandma that, if he survived, they’d get married and he kept his promise, took a job in the boot-last factory in Carrington Street, and moved in with Grandma and Ebenezer. But he’d changed, he confided in me; the dream he’d come home to no longer existed. The love Grandma craved was never allowed to blossom, and instead withered into a mindset of mild disapproval and a sense of shame, of failure. I can’t remember one word or look of affection between them. Mum too would repel any public show of affection Dad made towards her.
She died just before my first son was born, and I always regret that she didn’t get to meet him. She and Dad never really got on. Dad was a quick, impatient man, and Grandma not the brightest candle in the room, though she loved a game of cards, or a bet on the horses, and a gin and tonic. She once won seventy-five pounds on the football pools and made a pot of tea with no tea in it, she was so excited. I find myself getting more and more like her as I get older, though my speciality is standing in the middle of the kitchen wondering what I went there for.
How history repeats itself. How the shock-wave of emotional repression and guilt ripples outwards to touch generation after generation. Grandma suffered from depression most of her life, understandable now I realise the disappointments with which she contended. It was a disorder that haunted my mother’s mind and I see clearly, now, how she fostered in me the same feeling of responsibility for her - 31 -
‘My eyes are drawn again to the polished oak coffin with its shining brass handles. Soon the curtain will draw across in front of it and Mum will be gone forever, her ashes floating free on the air like her beautiful butterflies. Her greatgrandchildren, although doubtless bored, are behaving themselves remarkably well. There’s some shuffling of feet and rustling of paper from the younger members of the congregation, and some asthmatic breathing and the odd cough from the older generation, but otherwise Dai holds his audience wrapt
*** After their marriage, Mum and Dad moved in with Grandma, Granddad and Ebenezer, and lived there until I was a year old, and my brother was five. Seven people and four generations in a three-bedroom terrace with only an outside ‘lavvy’ and one cold tap in the kitchen. Is it any wonder they bottled their feelings and there were few outward displays of affection? Is it any wonder Mum became a target for Grandma’s discontent and ‘ooh, air Margrit’ a frequent rebuff?
Ken the Box, the undertaker recommended by the care home, sent Dai to speak to me soon after Mum’s death. He arranged the order of service at the crematorium, and for Mum’s ashes to be interred with Dad’s in the windswept churchyard on the hill above Solva, overlooking the sea. He asked me about Mum’s life, what she was like, so he could say something about her at the funeral. We got chatting. Dai was a man with a twinkle in his eye and a wicked sense of humour. He laughed a deep bellylaugh as he related the tale of the man who’d insisted his parrot attended his funeral. Halfway through the service the parrot had piped up. ‘Fuck off. Fuck off.’
Dad died 21 years ago, only eighteen months after he and Mum followed my second husband and me from Northamptonshire to Pembrokeshire. I’d escaped… briefly… from the uneasy cords that bound me to my mother. What is it they say, a woman is a daughter first, a mother second, and a wife third. It was a constant juggling act with those three clubs, hands constantly slippery with guilt and feeling I failed at all three. Dad had prostate cancer and the hospital sent him home to die. The nurses, who visited daily, were fantastic and our family doctor spent the whole of Christmas Day with us: he died peacefully at ten minutes to midnight on Christmas night. ‘I know your mother can be difficult,’ he’d said. ‘It hasn’t always been easy, but I love her. Look after her for me.’
His irrepressible humour relaxed me and drew me out: we got onto the subject of family history and I told him I was researching mine. Black sheep, rumours of whom had always intrigued me but which Grandma had kept firmly hidden beneath a frown of respectability, leapt imaginary hurdles to freedom. A great-great-great aunt had been the ‘bad girl’ of Warkton village and was deported to Australia. A great-greatgreat uncle and his two cousins had been convicted of killing a gamekeeper in Yardley Chase. None would admit to murder, or finger either of the others, so, rather than being hung, they’d found themselves on a prison hulk in Portsmouth harbour before setting sail on the convict ship HMS Tortoise, bound for Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land, in 1841. My historical series ‘For Their Country’s Good’ is inspired by their adventures.
‘I will, Dad. I promise.’ I did my best… Did I? Did I, really? I put her in a home when she lost her sight, became wheelchair-bound, and demanded more time and love than I could give her. I could have given juggling preference to her club and gone to see her on her birthday. ‘Margaret loved her garden, and nature.’ Dai’s gentle purring voice lulls me back form my guilty past. ‘She bred Swallowtail butterflies which she released on Wicken Fen in Norfolk…’
And then there was Aunt Ellen, I went on, warming to my subject. She was Grandma’s younger sister, who’d run a tailor’s shop in Glasgow, lost her only son in the Second World War, and lived in a tenement in the Gorbels. As children, we took bets on what colour her hair would be when she visited. I can definitely remember blue, orange, red, green and purple, - 32 -
I catch my cousin Libby’s eye as Theme to a Local Hero plays quietly, and she smiles comfortingly. I last saw her at her wedding almost twenty years ago. It was a lovely service, held in a Catholic church in the woods somewhere near Trier, Germany. The English contingent was small compared to the groom’s side of the family, but we did our best to follow a ceremony that was entirely in German. We did sing one English hymn, somewhat feebly, and our minds eagerly latched onto the odd German word that sounded marginally English. It was all going fine until the priest said, ‘Jesus farted.’ At least, that’s what it sounded like to English ears. In front of me, rows of shoulders heaved with suppressed mirth. I suspect those behind me heaved as well. Like the bride, I daren’t turn round to look: catching someone’s eye would have been disastrous. She, too, knew exactly what her family and friends were thinking.
and once a mixture. We kids loved her, but Grandma said she was a kleptomaniac and you couldn’t take her anywhere: she’d even come out of a restaurant with half the cutlery shoved up her sleeves. Pressed for more of Aunt Nell’s misdemeanours, Grandma had clamped her lips disapprovingly shut. On reflection, I’m surprised she’d admitted as much as she did. Mum was more forthright and declared her family ‘a load of loose-knickered, murdering thieves.’
Dai clears his throat and looks directly at me: I straighten my face as the wedding darkens into a funeral: white to black. ‘Margaret came from a good family.’ The timbre of his voice commands our full attention, with his majestic rolling of his Rs and his lyrical Welsh accent. His eyes move to the assembled mourners and he smiles broadly, benignly, embracing us all in his appraisal. ‘Of murderers, thieves, and prostitutes.’
*** Dai pauses for breath, head bowed respectfully, as Mark Knopfler plays guitar with wordless eloquence. I glance across at my older brother, who lost his partner not long ago: she and Mum shared a birthday and today will be hard for him. Then there’s my uncle, my father’s younger brother, who’s in his 80s and now the last of his generation. My sons and their families are behind us, and behind them Mum’s brother’s children and their partners. Family, some I haven’t seen for years, have travelled from Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Kent, France, and Germany to be here to honour Mum’s life.
The silence behind me deepens until a vast pit opens and swallows all sound, all asthmatic breath, all rustling paper, all shuffling feet. Time hangs suspended, and into that silence, as I will the floor to swallow me whole, my late grandmother voices her final disapproval, her final humiliation and shame, though for once she targets the wrong sinner. ‘Ooh, air Margrit!’
Rebecca Bryn lives in West Wales with her husband and rescue dog where she paints the fabulous coastal scenery in watercolour and writes historical, contemporary, and post-apocalyptic fiction with a bitter-sweet twist. Books at http://viewauthor.at/RebeccaBryn Blogs at https://rebeccabrynblog.wordpress.com/
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Welsh Football Magazine
Welsh Football magazine is the national football magazine of Wales, covering all levels from national teams and elite leagues to grassroots, men and women, plus club features, Welsh football history etc. We've continued to publish all through lockdown and have a special offer for Christmas gift subscriptions: buy a year's subscription (ÂŁ27.00) starting with the November 2020 edition, and we'll add a free copy of our 2020-21 Guide. Details at www.welsh-football.net
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Contributions by Hannah Howe The Twelve Jokes of Christmas Why is Christmas office? Because you do hard work and the in the suit gets credit.
What do you call an elf who has just won the lottery? Welfy!
just like another day in the all the fat guy all the
Who hides in the bakery at Christmas? A mince spy.
The four stages of life: you believe in Santa Claus, you donâ€™t believe in Santa Claus, you become Santa Claus, you look like Santa Claus.
What happened to the man who stole an advent calendar? He got 25 days.
What goes Ho Ho Whoosh, Ho Ho Whoosh? Santa going through a revolving door! What did Santa do when he went speed dating? He pulled a cracker!
What do snowmen have for breakfast? Snowflakes!
What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck? A Christmas quacker. What do you give a dog for Christmas? A mobile bone.
Why did the turkey cross the road? Because it was the chickenâ€™s day off!
What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frostbite!
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The Gift by Melanie P. Smith Talia sat in front of the large window, watching the snow fall gracefully from the evening sky. It was going to be cold this year. She sipped her tea and considered all the possibilities. There were so many. Anticipation bubbled inside her, and she laughed when her stomach growled in hunger. She had skipped lunch, wanting to be good and hungry when she arrived for the feast tonight.
Talia stood. She had to get a move on. As much as she loved the peace and serenity the falling snow brought, she knew it would continue at least until tomorrow. It always did. No exceptions. Each year, even if they were having a dry season, the snow would begin to fall on Christmas Eve and continue until midnight on Christmas night. It was an anomaly nobody could explain — not even the experts. And yes, they had swarmed into town to study the weather patterns, the moisture index, and all that technical stuff that meteorologist analyzed to forecast the weather. After a few years, most of them gave up and just accepted the unexplainable.
The annual town Christmas party was only a few hours away. It was a local tradition, one nobody dared miss. Every adult for miles would make their way to City Hall for a Christmas Eve celebration like no other. Everyone would dance and sing carols of joy, and the food would be served promptly at midnight. Then, they’d all head home and prepare for an early morning with anxious children, gifts from Santa, and the promise of a new special prize of their own. With a sigh, she pulled her blanket in tighter. She would need to get up soon, slip into that little red dress she’d bought just for this occasion, and head into town. But first, she wanted to finish her tea. For as long as she could remember, she had loved this tradition. Sure, it was a little scary, but the uncertainty only added to the excitement. Talia smiled, took another long sip of tea, and planned out her evening. She’d slip into her new fur-lined boots, shrug into her favorite coat and head into town. The holiday lights would twinkle along the tiny street that led to City Hall — and the enormous tree she helped decorate in the center of Main Street would glow bright and welcoming. Her favorite part was the angel perched so high above the city it gave the illusion she was floating on fluffy white clouds as she spread her wings and ushered in the festive evening — and the suspense.
She was humming her favorite Christmas carol as she carefully applied her makeup and pulled her hair into a sparkling clasp she’d purchased just for this occasion. She wanted to be stunning and confident. Maybe, if she were upbeat and cheerful enough, it would bring her luck. She’d need luck, the good kind this year. Last year, the year before and every year for the past five years since she turned eighteen — the only luck she had was bad luck. Her special gift was always a disappointment. Not this time. Tonight, she’d choose wisely, and she’d be rewarded for her faith and hope. It was only fair after all this time, right? Twenty minutes later, she slid into her boots, shrugged into her coat, and slipped through the back door. The air was crisp and cool tonight — as it was every Christmas Eve. - 36 -
The snowflakes felt cold but enchanted as they tickled the tip of her nose, settled onto her warm holiday cap, and swirled around her like a mystic guide that pulled her toward the center of town. She didn’t need the pull. Excitement, anticipation, and a childlike giddiness filled her soul with joy and urged her forward. The intrigue of it all was a gift of its own. She’d remember that if she didn’t receive the reward she wanted tonight. It was still a gift and, if disappointed again, there was always next year.
would disappear in the darkness and return exactly one year later on a snowy festive night to greet guests with a cheerful smile and a knowing twinkle in his eyes. The man looked like he could be about a hundred years old, but he was spry and jovial and had been since her first night attending this event. She wandered through the elaborate building, taking in all the decorations, the lights, and the cheerful conversation. It was magical and enchanting, even better than the year before. She didn’t know how that was possible. She just knew it was true. The instant she stepped into the large ballroom, her breath caught, and she thought she might explode with the wonder of it all. A dozen large trees were scattered around the room, each with delicate, bright, festive decorations adorning them. Some were theme oriented, some traditional with red, blue, and green lights brightening up the area. Presents were piled strategically beneath the branches, giving the illusion those were the gifts guests came to receive.
She was still several blocks away when she heard the music. One of her favorites — Bing Crosby’s White Christmas was playing over the loud-speaker. She sang along, then twirled around, hands held out to her sides as she enjoyed the beauty that surrounded her. It wasn’t just the snow; it was all of it — the delicate cool snowflakes that flowed down from the sky, glowing from the twinkling lights that hung overhead, the sound of music in the air that mixed with the winter breeze, and the smell of gingerbread, cranberries and peppermint. It was a magical night and always would be.
It was an illusion, and everyone gathered together tonight knew it. The actual gifts came from the enormous table that stretched out lengthwise from one end of the room to the other. It was filled with every food imaginable; pastries, cakes, pies and tons of cookies; succulent rolls in a variety of shapes and flavors — sourdough, wheat, and white and a dozen others — with some kind of fluffy whipped butter; sweet honey ham, golden turkey, and even a holiday
She reached the great hall, ascended the stairs, and turned her coat over to the man greeting guests at the door. Reginald was another constant — and a mystery. Nobody knew where he came from. He was only in town for one night, during this event. In the morning, he’d be gone. He somehow vanished once the last guest left the building. Nobody knew where, nobody knew how, they only knew he - 37 -
goose. The options were limitless, which made choosing the first nearly impossible. She wandered the length of it, debating, calculating, considering. One simple choice would determine her destiny for an entire year.
She waited until the murmurs and the whispers died down. “We’ll form a line,” Daphne advised. “Don’t worry, your chances are the same whether you’re the first or the last to choose. The gifts are unique and individual. Two people can choose the pumpkin pie, but each will receive a different, carefully selected gift of their own. One choice, one gift, one magical ability that will stay with you for exactly one year. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, the gift you selected last year will shift to its new owner and your new gift will be bestowed. Are there any questions?”
She nearly reached the end, had surveyed the entire table, when Daphne — their regular announcer — stepped onto the stage and paused in front of the microphone. The room was immediately silent. Daphne would also vanish at the end of the evening. Maybe she joined Reginald on a tropical island somewhere, where they’d lounge on the beach and watch the sun set over the water day after day until they returned to the cold and the festive.
She waited, but when nobody spoke, she smiled, raised her hands, and called… “Let the eating begin!”
“Welcome,” Daphne said cheerfully. “I know most of you know the rules, but we have a few fresh faces with us tonight. Let’s give a warm welcome to all of the young people who turned eighteen this year.”
Talia slowly made her way down the line. Last year she chose a mouth-watering, extremely enticing chocolate brownie. It seemed to call to her, and she was so sure it would hold something amazing. The brownie tasted as good as it looked, but the gift was a bust. Okay, it was useful, but boring. This year, she was going to be more practical. She silently waited for Mr. and Mrs. Brannigan to make their selection. They were taking too long, and it was driving her crazy.
The room erupted in claps and cheers. “As usual,” Daphne continued. “I’m going to remind everyone how the evening will proceed. As you can see, we have a wonderful selection of holiday delicacies tonight. I’m confident you will find something you like; whether you have a sweet tooth, you’re set on something healthy, or you like the robust. Take your time and choose wisely. The food will determine the gift and there’s no going back and no changing your mind once you make a selection.”
The line moved a few inches forward. Talia tapped her toe nervously and impatiently wished it would go faster. Anticipation merged - 38 -
with excitement; she was almost there. She glanced around the room and took in the emotions. Some guests were celebrating, others sagged with disappointment. She was about to turn back when someone bumped her from behind. She shifted, nearly tripped, but caught herself on the edge of the table. The instant she regained her composure, she realized where she was. She only had to reach out and seal her fate for the coming year. She took a deep breath, reached out hesitantly, and wrapped her fingers around a single chicken kabob with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese cubes, and several large cubes of roasted chicken. Her mouth watered as she stepped from the table and made her way to the back of the room. She wanted privacy for the big reveal. Talia made her way through the crowd, dodging friends and acquaintances, head held down, her selection hidden. When she reached the library, she settled into the corner and lifted the sturdy stick. Her hand trembled and her lips quivered. Talia closed her eyes and slid a plump, perfectly ripened tomato into her mouth. Flavor erupted. She could pick out the basil and the olive oil with a hint of garlic and something else. She savored the explosion, licked her lips, opened her eyes, and focused on the inside of her left wrist. Her current tattoo was so faded it was nearly nonexistent. Just a few more weeks and she’d never have to see the mundane and nearly useless word Ice on her arm again. She
thought back to exactly one year ago, sitting here, waiting for the word to form. When it did, she thought it meant she’d be able to freeze things — but no. Ice was literally ice. She had suffered through an entire year with the simple, sometimes convenient, mostly boring, ability to create ice from anything — any time she wanted. It was handy on a hot summer day, but useless in the winter and nearly useless in the spring and fall. She wanted something exciting and remarkable. She was tired of practical. She held her breath and waited while the new letters took form directly above the old. Then she jumped to her feet and did a little happy dance as the vibrant black letters solidified and formed the word Telekinesis.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like my holiday short story: Country Christmas. https://books2read.com/CountryChristmas
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 - 39 -
Celebrating Winter by Melanie P. Smith
ÂŠ MPSmith Publishing - 40 -
Be sure to visit my website for a FREE 2021 eCalendar
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Forest Therapy by Sylva Fae, Featuring Hannah Foley As a woodland owner, it’s no surprise that I love trees. It’s not just the trees themselves, it is the feeling of calm they bring as I wander aimlessly between them. I take great pleasure in watching the seasonal changes, the fresh new leaves springing forth and signifying an end to the harsh weather of winter, then broad leafy branches providing shade from the hot sun, and those same leaves changing colour, delicately drifting down to enrich the soil and give nutrients for new growth. Even the silhouetted, bare, twisted branches of winter add subtle beauty to the ever-changing skyline.
its own growing habitat. They are the tree’s immune system, if you will.
I’m no expert but I know my trees, the ones that share my little English woodland, and I appreciate the part each one plays in creating my haven away from the real world – the graceful birches that sway gently in the breeze, the old oak that has seen two-hundred plus years of change, the cheerful sycamores, the chestnuts and hazel that offer autumn treats, the hawthorn that decorates the hedgerow…. Each one is a delight to the senses as I amble along, or sit quietly among them, breathing in their healing scents.
These phytoncide compounds are commonly referred to as terpenes, which is in essence a simplified terminology for a very vast and complex subject. Phytoncides are the essential oils of a tree. The number of phytoncides in any given area is unique to that specific growing habitat and has many variables and determining factors, which makes each cubic foot of forest air utterly unique. Why should we be aware, and begin to appreciate these phytoncides?
I’ve always intrinsically felt that time spent in the forest has a healing effect on both the body and mind, so it is no surprise to discover this has been scientifically proven. One of my like-minded friends is Hannah Foley, who runs Boudicca Bushcraft & Forage School, based in South Wales. Hannah has recently undertaken a course in forest bathing, but I’ll let her explain in her own words:
Well simply there are several benefits to the interaction, both physically and aromatherapically. Firstly, I will break down for you the main types of phytoncides (or terpenes) you may come into contact with if you partake often in activities in the forest. Examples of Common Terpenes: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
*** Shrinrin-Yoku – by Hannah Foley
Having just completed my qualification in ShinrinYoku, aka forest bathing, which is scientifically proven to have many physiological and psychological health benefits, I thought I would share with you some of the simplified, and more concise science in regards to a phenomenon that trees produce, namely phytoncides. Essentially these are the compounds the tree produces to protect itself and assist
D limonene - lemony scent Alpha Pinene - piney scent Beta pinene – basil, dill scent Camphene - resinous, camphorous scent
It has been scientifically researched, under the blanket subject of aromatherapy, that these phytoncides can have great benefits for the human body and condition. Phytoncides can be used to increase the body’s immune system, actively stimulating natural killer cells within the immune system, and have - 42 -
Hannah enjoys sharing with like-minded people. If you happen to live down in South Wales and want to join Hannah’s bushcraft and forage school, or if you wish to find out more, you can contact her via the Facebook page, Boudicca Bushcraft & Forage School.
a direct impact on the parasympathetic system also. Remarkably they can even balance the pH levels of the skin, invigorate the senses, maintain vitality and sooth emotions. Some are natural insect repellents and skin healers. Others promote sleep, regulate hormones, lower blood pressure, increase lung air flow and improve concentration. Some phytoncides assist with cardiovascular function, improve hair condition, reduce stress, kill bacteria, relieve arthritis, ease inflammation and so on!
During these uncertain times, where most of the world is encountering some form of lockdown, we need every boost to our physical and mental health we can get. Thankfully, spending time out in nature, is one pastime that is both permissible under lockdown laws, and greatly beneficial to our health and wellbeing. So, leave behind your phones and electronic devices, go out to the forest, find some trees in a local park, or just take time to notice the many trees growing in the hedgerows. Whether you like the earthy smell of the woods after a rainstorm, fragrant pine scents, or the freshness of new growth, breathe in deeply and taste the clean air. Enjoy the beauty around you as you take your exercise, and consciously allow the healing powers of nature to enhance all your senses.
One fascinating fact for example is that pine forests can emanate so many phytoncides that they effectively disinfect their own air environment! So, to sum up, forest exposure, is a positive and healthy thing to do. It boosts our own immune system, regulates stressors, and much more. This cements my own belief that as living creatures, and in some cases dead ones, we all have a symbiotic cycle. Basically, we are all interlinked, and that our actions do have a direct impact on all things around us. So next time you dendrophiles go for your fix, note the sights and especially the smells and remember those phytoncides that are healing you!
"I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees." - Henry David Thoreau
*** Forest bathing is just one of the many activities
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/ - 43 -
Simply Stupid, Silly Jokes for Kids Submitted by Poppy Flynn Written by Navya Manchanda Jan Age 6 Navya Manchanda, a 6-year old first-grade student at Charles A. Bernazzani School, Quincy, has authored her first book titled, “Simply Stupid, Silly Jokes For Kids”. The book will appeal to kids aged 5-8 years. “I realized I was twisting words around a lot during the summer vacation. This inspired me to create jokes and my mom started sharing my jokes with her friends, and they all liked my jokes”, said Navya, talking about how she got started on this path. “I told my parents that it would be cool to have a book of jokes and that’s when my mom got the idea of creating and publishing a book,” explained Navya. “The book has my 30 best jokes, though I made a lot more. My mom checked if the joke is original or inspired from somewhere, and she only included the original ones. It took me about two or three weeks to create all the jokes,” explained Navya when asked about her book-writing journey. Her mom, Sakshi Garg, noted, “Once we decided to create the book, her mind was working non-stop to create jokes. One night, Navya woke me up in the middle of the night to share her joke before she forgot it.” An early exposure to books created a love of reading for Navya. “At only four months of age, I found it easier to engage her with board books than toys,” explains her mom. “She still spends a big part of her day reading books. Her favorites keep on changing, but she loves Junie B. Jones and Magic Tree House books,” explains her dad, Vivek Manchanda.
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When asked if she would like to be an author when she grows up, Navya said, “I cannot decide if I want to be an artist or an author.” She also shared some details about her next book: “I want to write a storybook next, possibly a superhero story. When I grow up, I would like to write chapter books, because chapter books are really interesting.” Navya said, “Kids in Kindergarten to third grade will really enjoy my book. I want to share this book with as many kids as possible and for this reason, the book is available for free. My parents got some copies printed and I would like to give it to lot of schools and libraries in Quincy.” Navya also noted that it feels great to have a book with your own name on it. Navya’s other interests are playing the piano, which she recently started learning. She also enjoys watching PJ Masks and is looking forward to dressing up as Owlette (a character from PJ Masks) on Halloween. Pick up Navya’s book for free. It is available in ebook format on Amazon, Apple Books and Google Play Books.
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The Commander by Dan Hendrickson
Last Enemy Series Prequel Reviewed by Grant Leishman I have read the full Last Enemy Series and have enjoyed it immensely. I have watched Dan E. Hendrickson grow as an author and each iteration of this wonderful series has been even better than the previous one. I was especially excited when the author asked me to review his latest effort, the prequel to the series. One of the difficulties of writing a prequel to an established series is the juggling of timelines, characters and events that have already been written about but occur in the future. As a reviewer, I am always on the lookout for any errors of this nature or plot holes that make no sense given what has already been written. I am thrilled to report that I found no such holes or errors in this excellent story. As with all the stories in this series, although they are linked, they are stand-alone tales and can be read in any order. That having been said, I would still suggest any new readers to Hendricksonâ€™s work start with the prequel and work their way through the series. It just makes more sense to do it that way.
is planning the terrorist attack and thwarting it. Tommy knows the best men for that job will be Commander Edwards and the rest of his topsecret military task-force that he is in charge of. So begins an epic showdown in the Gulf of Mexico between a desperate band of criminals and the might of the United States Coast Guard.
In, The Commander, we meet Commander Jacob Edwards just as he is promoted to being the youngest Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard and given command of the refurbished Coast Guard Hamilton Class Cutter, First Responder. Jacob, his wife and nine-year-old daughter are required to move to where the cutter is based but thankfully that is the same place as his wifeâ€™s parents live, so Jacob will feel more comfortable about leaving them alone when he is off on patrol. As he takes command of First Responder, it becomes increasingly apparent, to the Coast Guard, that something big is brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico. It seems that terrorists may be planning to sabotage one or more of the deep-sea oil rigs based in the Gulf, to try to strangle the U.S, supply of oil. Captain Tommy Williams (The Legend) is tasked, by the President, with finding out who
The characters Hendrickson has created in this series are fascinatingly overdrawn. At one end of the scale you have the evil mastermind of the criminal enterprise, Boris Rasmov, his family and criminal enterprise, while at the other end we have the dedicated, moral, and powerful leadership of Commander Edwards, his extended family, his crew, and his paramilitary team. What I liked particularly was those fringe characters who were at or near the top of the Coast Guardâ€™s hierarchy but who were morally flawed and therefore able to be manipulated and indeed subverted by the evil Rasmov. - 46 -
As with all of Hendrickson’s books the action is fast and furious and the author’s research, to this lay-reader, anyway, appears impeccable. The author knows his onions when it comes to the U.S. Coast Guard, its hierarchy, its weaponry and its procedures. Commander Jacob Edwards appeals partly because of his heroism and all-American ingenuity (Bondish or McGyverish in many ways) but what makes him so likeable and identifiable as a real person, is his willing acceptance of other’s ideas and talents. He will always listen to ideas from anyone, and give them credit for them, no matter what their rank. Yes, he’s a lead-byexample hero but he’s more than that. He has a genuine care and concern for his fellow “Guardies” and also for humanity in general. There is a lot to like about Commander Jacob Edwards.
As a reviewer who has reveled in and enjoyed watching Hendrickson’s growth as an author over the past couple of years, I can definitely proclaim The Commander: Last Enemy Series Prequel as the crowning jewel of a superb action/adventure Coast Guard series. Dan E. Hendrickson has arrived, in my opinion, and I am eager to see where his fertile imagination will take him next on his literary journey. I can highly recommend this book and the entire series. It was a truly enjoyable and satisfying read.
You can find The Commander, plus the other books in Dan E. Hendrickson's portfolio, here on Dan’s profile page: https://www.amazon.com/Dan-E-Hendrickson/ e/B07B3W5V19
Grant Leishman is a fifty-nine-year-old full-time author and editor, domiciled in the beautiful island of The Philippines. After careers in finance and journalism, Grant finally found his true bliss in life, writing. He is happily married to Thess and they have two daughters, Rose and Angeline. Discover more about Grant on the Mom's Favorite Reads website https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/grant-leishman
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! - 47 -
Heroines of SOE by Hannah Howe mind which is desirable in subversive activity. She seems to have little experience of the outside world. She is excitable and temperamental, although she has a certain determination. However, she is patriotic and keen to do something for France.”
Odette Sansom Odette Sansom, also known as Odette Churchill and Odette Hallowes, was born on 28 April 1912 in Amiens, France. Her father, Florentin Désiré Eugène 'Gaston' Brailly, was killed at Verdun shortly before the Armistice in 1918.
George Starr, a successful agent who clashed with many of the female agents, particularly the attractive ones, described Odette as “a dreadful lady.” In particular, he deplored her “seductive behaviour.”
As a child, Odette contracted serious illnesses which blinded her for three and a half years. She also contracted polio, which left her bedridden for a number of months.
Odette landed on a beach near Cassis on the night of 2 November 1942. There, she made contact with Captain Peter Churchill. Her initial objective was to contact the French Resistance on the French Riviera and establish safe houses for other agents in Burgundy.
As an adult, Odette met an Englishman, Roy Patrick Sansom (1911–1957), in Boulogne and married him on 27 October 1931. The couple moved to Britain where they produced three daughters. Roy Sansom joined the army at the beginning of the Second World War. Two and a half years later, in the spring of 1942, Odette responded to an Admiritaty appeal for photographs of the French coast. Those photographs brought her to the SOE’s attention and the secretive organisation promptly recruited her into their service.
In January 1943, to evade arrest, Churchill and Odette moved their operations to Annecy in the French Alps. The couple resided at the Hotel de la Poste in the village of Saint-Jorioz. The hotel became a meeting place for agents, which aroused suspicion. Spy-catcher Hugo Bleicher proceeded to SaintJorioz where he introduced himself to Odette as "Colonel Henri." He suggested that they should travel to London to “discuss a means of ending the war.” Odette reported this meeting to her superiors and they warned her to sever all contact with Bleicher.
With her three daughters in a convent school, Odette trained as an SOE agent. At first, Odette’s instructors regarded her as too temperamental and stubborn for the SOE. One report stated, "She is impulsive and hasty in her judgments and has not quite the clarity of
At the time of Bleicher’s meeting with Odette, Peter Churchill was in London consulting with
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the SOE. They warned him to avoid contact with Odette and “Colonel Henri" on his return to France. However, when he parachuted into Annecy during the night of 14 April 1943, he met Odette and they proceeded to the hotel in Saint-Jorioz. At 2 am on the 16 April, Bleicher, no longer in the guise of "Colonel Henri," appeared in the hotel and arrested Odette and Churchill. At Fresnes Prison, near Paris, Odette was interrogated by the Gestapo fourteen times. Despite brutal torture, she stuck to her cover story and insisted that Peter Churchill was the nephew of Prime Minister Winston Churchill and that he knew nothing of her activities. The idea was, as a relative of Winston Churchill, the Gestapo would keep Peter Churchill, and Odette, alive as bargaining chips. Nevertheless, in June 1943, the Gestapo condemned Odette to death on two counts to which she responded, "Then you will have to make up your mind on what count I am to be executed, because I can only die once." Infuriated, Bleicher sent her to Ravensbrück Concentration Camp. In Ravensbrück, the Nazis kept Odette in a punishment cell on a starvation diet. However, her earlier blindness and paralysis, and the example set by her grandfather, who "did not accept weakness very easily”, aided her survival. Furthermore, she accepted in advance that the Gestapo might capture her and that she might die. Odette adopted an attitude of defiance and found that this attitude earned a degree of respect from her captors and strengthened her mind. Later, Odette insisted that she was not brave or courageous, but that she just made up her mind about “certain things." She recalled in a postwar interview that while everyone has a breaking point, her feeling was that if she could
"survive the next minute without breaking up, that was another minute of life.” Because of her past illnesses, Odette knew that she could accept her situation and survive it. By accepting death, she felt that, "They would not win anything. They'll have a dead body, useless to them. They won't have me. I won't let them have me." In general, the Gestapo found people of the prisoners' own nationality to carry out their torture, so that the prisoners could not say they were tortured by the Nazis. Odette’s torture was carried out by a "very good-looking young Frenchman" who she believed was mentally ill. In August 1944, with the Allies advancing on Ravensbrück, the camp commandant, Fritz Suhren, took Odette and drove her to an American base to surrender. He hoped that her supposed connections to Winston Churchill would allow him to negotiate his way out of execution. In 1946, at the Hamburg ‘Ravensbrück Trials’, Odette testified against the prison guards charged with war crimes and this resulted in Suhren's execution in 1950. Odette’s wartime experiences led to a complex personal life. She divorced Roy Sansom in 1946 and married Peter Churchill in 1947, only to divorce him in 1956. That year, she married Geoffrey Hallowes, a former SOE officer. Odette’s SOE experiences were chronicled in a movie, Odette, which was released in 1950. Anna Neagle played Odette while Trevor Howard played Peter Churchill. Odette insisted that the film should not be made in Hollywood for fear that her story would be fictionalised. The movie, a great success, ensured that Odette became a celebrated member of the SOE. Odette died on 13 March 1995 in Surrey, aged 82.
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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Oreo Brownies Submitted by Ceri Bladen https://www.amazon.com/Ceri-Bladen/e/B00AS0256Y
195 g Unsalted Butter
195 g Dark Chocolate
3 Large Eggs
275 g Caster Sugar (or 250g caster and 25g brown sugar)
90 g Plain Flour
35 g Cocoa Powder (dark, unsweetened works the best)
100 g Oreo bar (cut into chunks)
100 g white and milk chocolate bar (cut into chunks)
Preheat oven to 180c (160c fan), 350f, Gas mark 4
Line a 9″ square baking tray with parchment paper
Melt butter and dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water
Leave to cool
Whisk eggs and caster sugar for a few minutes until pale and double original volume
Poor cooled chocolate mixture over eggs and fold together carefully until completely combined (being careful not to knock out the air)
Sift cocoa powder and plain flour on top of chocolate mix and fold in
Fold through chocolate chunks
Pour into prepared tin
Bake for 25-30 mins (it will still be slightly wobbly/ soft in the middle – I like mine extra wobbly )
Leave to completely cool in the tin
Once cooled, cut the brownies and enjoy!
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Chess Supplied by Chess.Com Black to move. Checkmate in four. The key here is to use the black bishop as a decoy.
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 Momâ€™s Favorite Reads website here: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/magazines/activities/ - 51 -
WebCam by Ross G. Homer It is six o’clock in the afternoon, St. Louis time. Grinning, he sets up the camera and takes an extra moment to adjust the focus as perfectly as he can, making it crystal clear in his small LED screen. The target would soon be in the room across the way. A half-hour later, the unflinching eye of the camera catches the scene: a person deep in shadow and a woman. A slashing knife. Deep red gouts of blood splattering the room. This scene is being sent live over the Internet for many unsuspecting people to watch. One of them was Rona Windsor. Her quiet contemplation was rudely interrupted when Tommie, her fifteen-year-old daughter, came crashing into the house from school and as all teenagers seemed to do, hollered, “Mom, I’m home!”
This is her story. <<<<>>>> As she stared at the computer screen in front of her, Rona Windsor took off her glasses and rubbed her dark eyes and thought about a break. She was a programmer for a company that paid well enough for her to work by telecommuting. Glancing at her desk clock, she saw that it was a few minutes before three on a sunny Seattle afternoon, and decided, as she usually did, to take a tea break. Standing and stretching her shapely, five-foot three-inch frame, she left her upstairs home office and walked down to the kitchen. She decided that Earl Grey was the tea for this particular afternoon.
The screen door slammed into its frame as Tommie tossed her backpack full of schoolbooks and other odds and ends onto the couch. Rona Windsor called from the kitchen, “Why don’t you take out an ad in the paper to announce it to the world and, baby girl, would you please stop letting that screen door slam?” Tommie laughed as she entered the kitchen. Her sixteenth birthday was coming up next month, in June, and that license was dangling out there begging for a new driver. All she had to do was continue keeping her grades up and together, she and her mother would hit the DMV. She was saddened, a little, that her father was no longer in the picture to see it happen. On the other hand, that delicious hunk, Ed O’Malley, was hanging around more and more.
Rona entered the kitchen and walked across the red oak parquet floor to her newly installed blue-veined marble countertop. She loved the way the color of the countertop accented the red-oak color of the cabinets and flooring. It had been expensive but damn, it was worth every penny. Smiling, she put her water on to boil and fetched the container of the tea she loved.
Rona and her daughter hugged for a moment. When the kettle began to whistle, Rona took it off the heat and let it cool just a second and then poured the water into her large bright blue mug, the one with “Seattle Seahawks” inscribed on it. Adding a dollop of honey, she said, “Tommie, I have more work to do. Have some tea and do any work you have down here. Okay?”
Opening the jar, the aroma of the Earl Grey tea pleasantly rose to greet her. As she filled the tea ball, she looked out her kitchen window into the warm afternoon over Seattle and the Puget Sound below. Flowers were blooming and it was another gorgeous May day.
“Sure, Mom.” She grinned evilly. “Can I have some of your really, really, good stuff?” - 52 -
Sighing, she clicked into another favorite site, www.webcamsrus.com and selected ‘random views.’ This selection was interesting because she never knew what she was going to see. Sometimes it was pretty cool, she thought, smiling as she sipped her tea, and sometimes not. Once she had seen what could only be described an eye-popping X-rated scene in the bed of a pickup. It had been exciting for exactly three minutes, the time each webcam had before moving on.
Shocked, Rona snapped, “No! Absolutely not, young lady.” The really, really good stuff was orange pekoe tea laced with THC that Rona used to fight monthly cramps. She was so happy now that it was legal in Washington. As she headed back upstairs for a few minutes of “slacker time” as she called it, she heard Tommie laughing. Rona ignored her because it was time to check into eBay, catch up with her small circle of friends on Facebook, maybe read some news, before heading back into the gnarly bit of programming she was doing for her company.
Nothing interesting was happening on the site and as Rona moved her mouse to exit out, the next view popped up. In an instant she realized she was seeing a woman being stabbed.
Rona settled into her chair and clicked on eBay and then into the Fine China Collectibles. She was looking for a rare teapot to complete a service she had been building for fifteen years. Nothing today, she saw. Tommie came in with a cup of orange and rose hips tea, its strong aroma leading the way. She sat beside Rona and said, “Still can’t find that pot?” “Nope.” “I’m sorry. By the way, Elaine wants me to come over this weekend. Mind if I go? Saturday we’re going to do some hard training with some of the others.” “Of course. You know me…be careful out there. You can’t race with something hurt.” “I know Mom.” She grinned at her sometimes over-protective parent. Elaine was a lifelong friend of Tommie’s and Rona had no problem with her daughter spending the weekend with her. It was a frequent occurrence now that both girls were teenagers. Tommie would go there; Elaine would come here. The thought of her daughter being gone for a couple of days and nights sent a tingle through Rona’s body. Maybe, just maybe, Ed would finally move from just kissing to more. Rona smiled at the screen. A lot more. Tommie and Elaine were also mountain bike racers and they frequently trained together. Rona smiled. Tommie was also far better at it than her girlfriend.
Startled, Rona plopped her tea mug down on her desk and slopped a little of the hot liquid on to the back of her right hand. Blowing on the scalded area, she stared at the image. While she couldn’t see the assailant plainly, the naked woman was crystal clear, as was the blood covering her and flying off the knife blade as it rose and fell. She was silently screaming and trying to fight off the knife. A flashing yellow neon light outside the room gave a strobe-like, otherworldly psychedelic affect to the scene. Tommie screamed! “What the fu…what the hell is that?” They watched the horrifying scene together. The knife plunged into the nude woman’s body again and again. She fell across a bed, facing the camera, her eyes fading. With quick presence of mind, Rona hit ‘Print Screen’ on the keyboard. She prayed that it would save the scene. - 53 -
The scene dissolved into a warm, sunny beach that could have been Hawaii or any other tropical location.
“Yeah, Mom. I’ll go back downstairs. Yeah…I’ll do that.” She stood on shaky legs and left the office.
Rona looked at the tropical scene and tried to digest what she had just witnessed. That can’t be real, she thought, blowing on her hand again. She leaned forward and opened a draw program. Hitting “ctrl-v” on the keyboard, the image she hoped she had saved pasted itself into the program. Good, she thought.
Rona continued to look at the screen. There was some new imaging software the company had just bought for an upcoming project that might help enhance the image.
She couldn’t clearly see the assailant, but she felt that the partially shadowed person was staring straight at the camera. Rona thought, what in hell do I do? Call 911? I don’t know if this is real or not. I don’t even know where it is. She stood up and paced a
step or two then looked again at the screen.
Tommie made the decision for her. “Mom! Call Ed. He’ll know what to do.” She nodded and grabbed up her phone and dialed Lt. Ed O’Malley’s cell phone number from memory. Ed O’Malley recognized her number and answered, “Hey, Rona. What’s up?” “Ed,” Rona said with a shaky voice, “I’ve… Tommie and I have just seen something from a webcam feed that, well, looks like a murder being committed. Could be kids play-acting but I’d sure like it if you could come over now, if you can, and take a look. I managed to get a screen print of it.” He smiled into the phone. This amazing woman made him smile every single time he thought of her or was with her. “I’m supposed to be there for dinner anyway, but for you, sooner is better than later.” He had fallen hard for Rona Windsor and enjoyed every second he was with her. “Thanks Ed. I appreciate it.” He heard the nervousness in her voice. “That’s okay. I just finished here at the dojo. Let me grab a quick shower and I’ll be there.” Training for his second-degree black belt in Shitoryu karate was hard, sweaty work, and he was determined he was going to get it on the first attempt. “Okay.” She replied. “See you.” To Tommie she said, “Ed’s on his way over. Why don’t you go do your homework? You really don’t need to be seeing this.” Rona saw how pale Tommie was.
Ed O’Malley took his shower, dressed in a light blue short-sleeve t-shirt, faded jeans and dark brown loafers. Driving to Rona’s picturesque house on Queen Anne Hill, he thought too bad
her ex was such an idiot. He lost one of Seattle’s most beautiful and intelligent women and I’m the lucky one picking up the pieces. He had known both Rona and Dave Windsor since college. He was at the hospital when Tomasina was born. Occasionally, when he could find a date, he and the Windsor’s went clubbing together. Then a year ago Rona and Dave divorced. Dave was gone much too often for his business and then Rona found out about the women. Dave had women all over the country he was sleeping with. After waiting for ten months and trying to build up his courage, he finally called Rona for a date. Much to his surprise she said yes, and they hit it off right away with this new arrangement. Things were going along very smoothly for the both of them and he found he couldn’t wait to see her. He was also hoping that he could finally spend the night with her. But he absolutely wasn’t going to push the issue. “Come on in,” Rona said, opening the front door. “I have the picture up on the screen.” She stood on tiptoe and kissed him quickly on the lips. Ed was at least a foot taller than her and it was quite a stretch for her to kiss him. Rona smiled. “I’m glad you’re here.” She took his hand, squeezed, and led the way up to the office. Tommie called from the living room, “Hi Ed. Wait until you see what she has up there.” He nodded and made a double entendre out of it. He couldn’t wait to see what she had ‘up there,’ either. Standing in Rona’s office, Ed looked at the picture and was speechless for a moment. “God, what the hell is that?” “That’s why I called you, Ed. It certainly looks like someone being stabbed.”
- 54 -
The scene was framed by a dark brick wall with the camera centered on a an eight-pane window. Immediately below the window was a bed. The woman’s nude body lay sprawled there, covered in blood and terrible slashes. Ed said, “I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that whoever set this up was watching that room for some reason. Maybe a voyeur who happened into something like this?” He leaned forward a bit. The weapon looked to be a heavy-bladed Bowie-style knife. The gore covered blade must have been at least eight inches long. There was a door on the far wall that may have led to a hall. Another door, left of the bed, was open several inches allowing some light to illuminate the scene. The partially open door backlit the killer, hiding his upper body and face. The rest of him and the woman were well lit by the light coming through the open door. The woman was lying across a bed. Her head and upper body were hanging off the edge, facing the window. Ed guessed the open door led to the bathroom. A low dresser with a mirror stood beside the open door. A nightstand with a darkened lamp sat beside the bed. Faded flower-patterned wallpaper covered the walls. He leaned back and said, “That looks like a motel or hotel room. Too bad we can’t see the street. It might give us a clue to where this is.” He pointed at the dresser and nightstand. “The furnishings look cheap and the lack of decoration anywhere else in the room tells me it’s a hot sheet hotel. I wish we could see a sign or something.” Rona said, “There’s stuff on the dresser. I’ll work on enhancing that part of the picture and see if I can get something out of it. It could take a while, I’m afraid, but it might help identify who he or she is and possibly where this is.” Ed pointed at something on the nightstand. “What do you suppose that is?”
Rona looked at the fuzzy image and said, “Don’t know. I’ll work on that, too.” Pointing at another part of the picture, Ed said, “Rona, that looks like a word there. See it?”
She leaned down beside him and looked where he was pointing. There was something, a reflection, in the bottom left pane of the window. Her perfume, Chanel, he realized, teased his nose and she was very close to him. Soft parts of her rubbed against his arm and he felt blood rushing to his face. Rona said, “Yes and I agree. I’ll add this to the list of enhancements. It could tell us where this is.” As she stood back up, she lightly touched the back of his hand. He was a big man with hard muscles and large hands. Rona knew he could be incredibly gentle with those hands when necessary. She said, “I have some new software I wanted to check out and this will be a good test. Do you want a print of this while we’re at it? I could email it to your office, too.” Ed shook his head. “Not really. We don’t have squat here but a photo of what could possibly be a murder anywhere on this planet. We can’t really see him, but we know she’s Caucasian. Or, now here’s a thought,” he looked up at Rona. “It could be simply a couple of kids hamming it up for that camera.” He turned back to the picture. “Or, for that matter, a scene from some upcoming movie. This could have been a tease.” Rona considered the picture again. “That’s a possibility, I guess. Just the same, I’ll work on the enhancements. Then we can have dinner. We’re having spaghetti.” Ed smiled at that. Rona was a fabulous cook and several of her friends had tried to get her to open a restaurant. He considered himself lucky every time she prepared a meal for him. Secretly, he was praying for the day when she would prepare something for him every night. If only he could find the nerve to move forward with her. From playing what he called ‘kissy-face,’ to actually making love. Ed looked at the overall picture again. If this was really a movie scene or kids play-acting, they were doing an awfully good job of it. In his twenty years as a Seattle cop, he’d seen more than his share of murder and blood and if that were faked, it was something they had done very well. But he doubted it. This was the real deal. With any luck Rona would be able to enhance those things they talked about.
- 55 -
As Rona clicked a mouse button to select the top of the dresser she said, “You know those movies where they use computers and the picture zooms in and you can see an object perfectly?” Ed nodded. “That’s a load of pure heifer dust! It’s pretty amazing what can be done with these things but making something out of nothing simply doesn’t exist…at this time. I can, though, enhance what is actually there.” She smiled. “I’d better be able to, considering what Little charges for this program.”
indeed a monogrammed handkerchief. The initials read “DW.”
She selected the top of the dresser. The program used its AI to intuit what was hidden in the fuzzy pixels and did a good job resolving the image. They saw a dark brown wallet, some cash, several beer cans and what appeared to be some kind of notebook or mini-pad with a pale blue cover. A small pocketknife with yellow inserts was lying beside the wallet.
would be simply too strange, too fantastic!
He looked over at her. “What? Rona did you say something?” She shook her head. “No. No I didn’t.” She was wondering about the chances it could be his? The knife, the monogrammed handkerchief? That brown wallet? There must be millions of them just in America alone. But…wasn’t that small mini-pad cover blue? Rona looked back at it at the top of the screen. Oh, my God! That
Ed said, “So okay. What’s this here?” He pointed at a reflection in the lower pane. Rona took a deep breath and sighed. She thought this was simply coincidence. I’ll wait and see what else
happens before I say anything.
She selected the area. It was the reflection of part of the building where the camera was located.
Rona murmured, “Hmm?” She had given Dave a knife just like that on their seventeenth anniversary.
“If I can get this to sharpen, maybe we’ll have something.” Rona again clicked an icon and part of the word resolved. The word was ‘Fairview’ something.
Ed asked, “What? Did you see something?” Rona shook her head. “No.” He looked at her quizzically then used his pen to point at the beer. “Well, that’s no help. That beer is sold everywhere so it’s not regional like it used to be. This could still be any part of America. Or Canada, I suppose. The light in the room could be coming from a marquee on the building where the camera is. It needs to be either dusk or dark there for that light to shine into the room. We know that it’s not the West Coast. Could be the Midwest where it’s getting dark. Or the East Coast somewhere.”
Ed nodded. “Now all I have to do is email a copy of your original file to my IT guys. They should be able follow the Internet address to where the uplink is.”
She saved the selection and moved the cursor down to the nightstand. It was going to be more difficult to produce a readable image from this area. In a few moments though, a handkerchief resolved itself into rough clarity. There were darker markings on one corner. Beside that was an opened condom wrapper.
“I’ll call them with a head’s up and we can go from there.” He took her hands and said, “Rona? Are you okay? You look a little down or something.”
Ed looked at her curiously as she set up the file for emailing. He felt a change in her mood, and he thought that she was holding something back. Thus far in their two months together, she’d held absolutely nothing back from him, sometimes embarrassingly so.
Rona answered, “No. I’m okay. Just hungry.” She glanced at her watch. “God, where did the afternoon go? No wonder I’m hungry. I’m going down and get dinner going.” Ed caught a hint of something darker in her voice as he pulled his cellphone out of his backpocket.
Slightly embarrassed, he pointed at the dark marks on the handkerchief. “Y’know? That could almost be a monogram. Think the program can pull that out?”
Rona went down into the kitchen and began heating the spaghetti sauce she’d taken out of the freezer the previous evening. As a young child her mother taught her the secret of excellent sauce; use the best ingredients, cook it several days early, let it sit a day and then freeze
Rona drew the select box around the corner of the object. “Let’s see.” She clicked the right buttons and waited while the program processed the faint image. In a few seconds the dark areas became a hazy, but readable. It was - 56 -
what you don’t use for a later time. As she started to slice crusty French bread for garlic toast, she thought about what she had just seen. The evidence, while circumstantial at best, pointed directly at her ex-husband, Dave.
Rona stood at the stove, wooden spoon in hand, stirring the sauce. Her short-cropped black hair was tousled where she habitually ran her fingers through it. Rona had inherited the best of her mother’s Italian genes: her beauty, her outstanding figure, and her intensely dark brown eyes. Ed considered himself lucky to have become so deeply involved with her.
“Oh, Christ, this is terrible,” she said to the empty kitchen. “It has to be Dave. There’s no doubt. I know that’s his stuff in the picture. But why? How? I can’t tell Ed any of this because I don’t know for sure.” Seizing on an idea, she reached for the phone on the counter. “I’ll call his secretary and see where he is.”
Tommie had set the table and was in her usual place, texting no doubt with Elaine.
As Ed walked across the kitchen to her, Tommie smiled up at him. She liked him, and she sometimes wondered if the tall, ruggedly handsome man would make a good stepfather.
Taking a deep breath, she dialed Dave’s office. In a moment, his secretary answered in her ingratiatingly sweet tone, “Good evening, David Windsor’s office.”
Ed told Rona, “It only took my IT guy a minute to trace the Internet address. It was in Saint Louis. I called their police department and explained what was going on. I had a hell of a time convincing them. But as it turns out, St. Louis does have a building called the “Fairview Apartments” and it’s right across the street from a run -down three story, hot-sheet hotel. They kept me on the line while they sent a squad. That’s what took me so long.”
“Hi, Susan, Rona Windsor here. I was hoping you’d still be at the office this late. I have a couple of things I need to discuss with Dave. Is he there?” Susan was in the mood to chit-chat. “Hi, back, Rona. Long time no hear. You’re lucky you caught me. I’m just leaving. How are you doing?”
He stopped talking and stared at the woman he was half in love with. “Rona, they found the dead woman. Across the street in an apartment facing the room, they found the camera. The place had been cleaned out, including the computer. It was the same in the hotel room. There was no wallet, no knife or hanky, no beer cans. Nothing. Just the body.”
Rona replied, “I’m fine Susan. Can I talk to Dave?” “Um, no. He’s in St. Louis until later tonight. He’s doing a presentation there of our new product. Something about video. I hear it’s pretty nifty. Anyway, hang on a sec. I have his info right here.” There was a pause, and then she said, “He’s at the Hyatt in downtown and will be on Continental flight 134 arriving at 9:45 tonight.”
Dinner was a quiet affair. Ed could see that Rona was definitely not with him. Although the spaghetti was excellent, she ate sparingly.
Rona shivered and said quietly, “Oh. That’s okay. I’ll call him in the morning. Thanks Susan. Have a good evening.” Slowly she returned the phone to its receiver and thoughtfully finished preparing dinner.
Because she didn’t want to leave the house while this was going on, she said to Tommie, “You can take the car to Lainey’s now if you wish.” Tommie was majorly surprised. All she had was her learner’s permit although she drove everywhere with Rona in the car.
A half hour later Ed came down. The pasta was ready, and the aroma of homemade spaghetti sauce tinged with garlic filled the warm kitchen.
- 57 -
dark well of her eyes. “You’re right. That would be strange and it’s highly unlikely it would be Dave. Of all the millions of men in America? Him? I doubt it.”
“Are you sure, Mom?” Elaine lived about seven blocks away and none of it was on a major street. Rona wasn’t worried about her daughter at all. It was that image and what she was thinking was getting to her.
“Ed, there’s more. He is in St. Louis right now! I called his office and that’s what his secretary told me.”
Rona snapped, “Yes, goddamnit! Just…just go. Okay? Let her mother take you riding tomorrow!”
Ed just stared into her eyes. “No.”
Tommie’s eyes welled with tears. They’d had fights and spats, as mother and daughters do, but this was different. It was as if her mother had slapped her!
She nodded yes.
“Rona, I have to call St. Louis right now.” She let go of him and he pulled out his cellphone and made the call.
Rona gathered Tommie in her arms. “I’m so sorry, baby girl. I didn’t mean to yell. It’s just that I am worried about all this, especially if what I think is true. I can’t tell you what it is, now. Okay?”
Later, they sat in silence on the front porch of her house while Ed waited for a return call. She had wrapped a blue and green merino wool shawl around her shoulders against the chill of the evening air. Ed wore his well-worn, black leather jacket. Time seemed to drag.
Barely mollified, Tommie pushed away and replied, “Yeah, whatev’.”
It was over an hour before the phone rang again. Ed answered, said very little, and hung up.
“The keys are in my bag. Drive carefully.” “You know I will.”
“Rona, they missed Dave. He had already checked out of his hotel and he didn’t check in for his flight. He used an alias, Darwin Walker, to rent the room. It’s not uncommon for people to use their initials for that kind of thing. The St. Louis cops wished they had been a little quicker, believe me.”
“Tommie, I love you so much!” This was much better. They hugged again and Tommie went up to her room to get her bag and equipment. After she left, Ed leaned against the sink while Rona put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. “Rona, what’s wrong? I can see that you’re upset about something. I don’t think it’s Tommie. Was it the murder?”
She pulled the shawl tighter around her shoulders. “I’m sorry the afternoon went like it did.” She paused for a moment and then said, softly, “I would like it if you would stay with me tonight.”
Rona turned to him and went into his arms. She gazed sadly up into his grey-green eyes. Now he was frightened. “Rona? What is it?”
He smiled down at her. “Rona, there is nothing more in the world that I’d like to do, but right now I need to head down to the office and get this report filed. I’ll come back later, if that’s okay.”
She replied, “Ed, I know this is going to sound outrageous and too strange, but all that stuff we saw points to…well, to Dave being there.” She quickly explained about the items they had seen in the enhancements.
Rona nodded then stood and kissed him. For the first time, there was the promise of more than just sleep later. Ed smiled as he pulled his keys out of his pocket and turned to walk down
Ed held her at arm’s length and stared into the
- 58 -
from the porch. All the times he’d not pushed her into something more physical than light make out sessions were finally going to pay off for him, and them.
Ed continued, “St. Louis thinks he’s escalated and wants to prove something to someone, God only knows who. The poor sucker who rented the apartment to him was found two weeks ago downstairs in the boiler room with his throat cut. Forensics showed both murders were committed with the same knife. Anyway, Dave seems to have disappeared off the earth.”
Rona touched his arm before he left. She said, “Okay. I’ll see you when you get back.” He nodded and continued on down the walk to his car.
Standing, he hugged her tightly, with an intensity that seemed to say, “You’re safe with me.”
An hour later, when he returned, she proved to be everything he’d imagined over the years he’d known her. She gave and took with enthusiastic abandon. Later, he lay with her pulled tight against him and thought again about what an idiot Dave Windsor was to lose this incredible woman.
They kissed for a long time. Rona broke the kiss and pulled him to her tightly. “Okay Ed, I’ll see you in a while.” Then, holding both his hands in hers, she smiled. “I love you.” Surprised, Ed replied, “I, uh, that street runs both ways.” He kissed her again then ran down the stairs and got in his car and drove away. Something…odd…caught his eye on his way down the street. He looked in his mirrors and didn’t see anything of interest. Shrugging, he continued on his way.
<<<<>>>> Late one warm evening toward the middle of July, Ed O’Malley and Rona Windsor were sitting on the porch of her house. They were drinking chilled Washington Riesling and watching boat lights twinkle on the Sound below. Like young lovers, they sat holding hands. Occasionally Rona would lean over and lightly kiss him.
Rona picked up their glasses and went back into the house, the screen door slamming behind her. Smiling and humming, she put the glasses in the sink. She was in love and when he got back, she was sure he was going to ask her to marry him.
Tommy was upstairs surfing the net, leaving the two adults to themselves. She had a feeling that he was going to pop the question soon and the way he mooned all over her mother at dinner, she guessed tonight was the night.
<<<<>>>> He stood on the corner, looking up at the house, and watched as they stood on the porch making out like a couple of damned teenagers. The guy’s hands were all over her. Bitch, he thought, becoming angrier. The man said something to her and got into his car. He left as she turned and went back into the house, grinning like a lunatic. The sound of the screen door slamming reached the watcher’s ears.
Ed finished his wine and said, “Rona, I’ve got to go to the office for an hour or so then I’ll be back.” He smiled and kissed her lightly on the lips. “I just heard this afternoon that the Feds think Dave is a serial killer and has been videotaping his kills. For several years he’s been working the East Coast and sending various police department’s videos of what he did.” Rona nodded. “That fits. He worked the East Coast for a number of years.”
- 59 -
I’ll take my time with her and her lezzy kid and just kill him for the hell of it. He eased the screen door open and stepped inside. Quietly he took several steps into the darkened hallway when suddenly the lights snapped on. He stopped instantly and stared into the black hole in the barrel of the .44 he’d given her for her thirtieth birthday, seven years ago. In that instant, he realized that it had probably not been a good idea for him and Ed O’Malley to have taken her to the gun range with them quite so often. She had become deadly at fifty feet. Here, she was only five feet away.
A moment later, the guy drove by without so much as a glance. The man smiled and started towards the house. Quietly, as if she could hear him from there, he pulled his knife out of its sheath. Yes, he thought, this is going to be a
“It’s over Dave. No more.” As he brought the knife up, the last image his brain received was that of the flash of the gun going off. He never had another thought.
quite satisfying evening, watching her slowly die. That goddamn kid, too. I know she has to be screwing that girl she practically lives with on weekends and I won’t have any queers in my house. He stepped carefully on to the porch and crept up to the screen door. The inside door was still standing open, letting in the cool evening air. The hallway was dark, and he couldn’t see in very far. It was okay. He knew the hallway just fine. He assumed that the door was open for that damn cop. Was he ever going to be in for a surprise when he got back. He thought, maybe
Ross G. Homer was born in Florida some years ago. He grew in locations all across the south and eventually ended up in California. He spent a couple of years going to college before joining the Air Force as a photographer. After spending ten somewhat interesting years in the Air Force, he settled in Alaska where he worked in a variety of occupations before retiring and dedicating his energies to his life-long interest in creating fantasy and fiction. Other pursuits include photography, music - he's a flat-pickin' blue grass/folk singer and guitar player, bicycling, both road and mountain, hiking and cross-country skiing. He is the author of a wide range of genres: sexy romantic action-adventure, thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, and fantasy. His books can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
- 60 -
Golden Autumn by Stan Phillips The flowers have lasted a little longer this golden autumn. And a final rose has been born in our garden.
The leaves appear reluctant to evacuate the branches as they shimmer russet red and brown in October mellowness. There is a sense of inevitability in the air though. As if the season has held its breath for a brief throbbing heartbeat, And the rains come. And the days grow ever shorter. And there is a chill in the morning to greet our awakening. And an extra blanket on the bed to warm our slumbers. Winter draws ever closer and, for all the promise of Halloween and Christmas, a soft sadness for the demise of summer is created in our hearts.
Stan Phillips is an 80 year old poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips - 61 -
Sger Coast in Winter by Hannah Howe
ÂŠ Gayloke Publishing - 62 -
Classic Movies: Terminator by T.E. Hodden Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room: After several sequels, two different reboots, a television series, comics, action figures, and a computer game crossover with Robocop, there is nothing new to be said about the Terminator. I could possibly put the movie in the context of the influence it would have on the industry, how James Cameron’s efficient and exciting direction, and his relationships with cast and crew, would lead to many of them reuniting for the seminal Aliens (and how those two films basically shaped what Sci-fi movies would look like for decades). Or I could talk at length about how the story structure was influenced by the Outer Limits episodes Soldier and Demon With a Glass Hand, both by Harlan Ellison. I could certainly talk about how the film made Arnold Schwarzenegger a household name, and the icon of eighties action movies. I could talk about how it landed at the perfect time to ride on the wave of home video, and became one of the absolute mainstays of VHS culture.
pressure are pure thriller. Brilliantly, the information we are given is just enough to make us do some of the work ourselves.
It’s even the movie that sets Bill Paxton on his way to being the man killed by more of Hollywood’s coolest monsters than anybody else (a mantle I hope he wears with pride!)
Pieces are laid out, clue by clue, point by point, often with sparse dialogue, showing rather than telling.
But I don’t want to do the film a disservice, because, although there is a lot to be said to why the Terminator became a surprisingly important and influential movie in the history of cinema, it often easy to forget that it is also a really good movie in its own right.
Arnie steps out of his lightning-ball and moves with a cold and ruthless efficiency, which in hindsight is obviously because he’s a machine, but… there’s also a ruthlessness to Michael Biehn’s arrival, his stealing a tramp’s trousers, and the cat and mouse game he plays with the Police. Biehn’s humanity is given in a few clues: the few seconds of bewilderment, when he arrives, wide eyed at the city, and the scars visible on his back.
For a start, it’s a wonderful piece of story-telling. Those iconic, opening glimpses of the warravaged future, and the on screen text about the future’s final battle being fought in the present establish the movie’s sci-fi credentials, but the slow boil pacing, and the gradually building
- 63 -
model, or an animatronic puppet tries to replicate a human face or expression, and gets it almost right, but, often for reasons that we can’t quite put our finger on, are off, just a fraction, in a way that makes it feel… uncomfortable. It’s a term for something missing, a vital spark, that makes the mannequins look dead eyed, or… wrong.
As Arnie murders his way around LA, hunting down Sarah Connors to kill, we piece together something of Biehn’s mission from his nightmares of the future, and the moments we see pat his stoicism, to the wounded, desperate soul beneath. For quite a while, as Beihn closes in on Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, we can’t be sure if he’s a good guy or bad, and we feel every ounce of Hamilton’s growing terror and unease, right up into the dramatic nightclub shootout where it all falls into place, and the plot hits a high gear.
That’s what Schwarzenegger brings to the role, and it isn’t something a bad actor can hit on by accident. It’s too calculated, and too measured. Rumour has it that Schwarzenegger was originally suggested to Cameron for the heroic role of Kyle Reese, but during his conversation with James Cameron talked passionately about the way the villain of the movie could be played, convincing Cameron that the body builder and Conan actor could make a Hell of a Terminator.
Speaking of which, let’s address Arnie’s cold, shark-like performance. All the lazy jokes about wooden acting, and the dry monotone miss the point, and more importantly miss the effort it takes to remain that cool, that mechanical, amongst the gunfire and explosions. It’s a great performance, from an unforgiving role, that is eerily and effectively… wrong.
And boy, could he. A half dozen different killing machines, in fact (give or take some cheeky CGI in later movies). All of them just a little bit different.
There’s a term used in technology circles: “The Uncanny Valley.” When a computer generated
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Linda Hamilton gives us the performance of a lifetime too. Her transition from an Everywoman waitress, to a desperate fugitive fighting for her life, finding and losing love in a few short, harrowing, days, plunged into fire, beaten on an anvil, and reshaped into the person she needs to be, to survive the future, is nuanced, endearing, and utterly convincing. And she manages in a script that doesn’t leave her any room to breathe.
Hurd was a protégé of the great Roger Corman, and as the film enters the final act, we can see one or two of the tricks from Corman’s horror films being used, but importantly, they are used in a new way. Shots and moments that would once have been slow and lingering strains, holding us teetering on the edge of our seats, are now used to add momentum to the dramatic conclusion. It teases us. We see the heroes huddling together, believing the robot has been blown to pieces in an exploding lorry, but… because we know the language of the screen (even if we aren’t aware of it), and we can see they are still in a wide shot, at one side of the screen, with the roaring inferno in the background, we are begging the fools to get up and keep running, because obviously, inevitably, the robot is about to rise up from the flames once more. Those few seconds should be our chances to relax, and loosen our nerves, but we aren’t released to take a breath. For these, and many more reasons, the film is an undeniable classic.
For all its relentless excitement and taut plotting, the script is far more than just a rollercoaster between car crashes and explosions. At the heart of Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd’s script, is a perfect closed-loop of a time travel story, the “final” battle in the present both causing, and caused by, the events it mirrors in the future. Disregard any knowledge of sequels or franchises, and the story not only stands on its own feet, but is stronger for it. T.E. Hodden trained in engineering and works in a specialized role in the transport industry. He is a life long fan of comic books, science fiction, myths, legends, and history. In the past he has contributed to podcasts, blogs, and anthologies. Discover more on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/t-e-hodden/
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On the First Day of Lockdown by Stan Phillips
On the fourth day of lockdown
On the first day of lockdown
My true gave to me
My true love gave to me
Four rolls of wallpaper
Instructions to decorate the house.
Three pots of paint Two paint brushes
On the second on day of lockdown
And instructions to decorate the house. (one final time)
My true love gave to me Two paint brushes And instructions to decorate the house. Please!!
On the fifth day of lockdown My true love gave to me
On the third day of lockdown
Five bold glances
My true love gave to me
Four cold shoulders
Three pots of paint
Three blank expressions
Two paint brushes
Two lawyers letters
And instructions to decorate the house.(again)
And instructions to sleep in the car.
Stan Phillips is an 80 year old poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips - 66 -
The Magic of Christmas Eve by Sylva Fae It's all to do with magic (And a slice of Christmas pie) The magic sends the reindeer Flying way up high. The pie gives Santa energy And warms his rosy smile
The children bring some magic
And speeds them all around the world
With their innocence and glee
Mile after snowy mile.
And Santa brings the rest To share with you and me.
The children look for Santa
Gazing out with awe and joy
But here's the thing with magic
Then they climb into their beds
It only works if you believe
Wishing for the perfect toy.
So go snuggle in your beds For a magic Christmas Eve.
This poem is taken from the Children’s Christmas Collection – an anthology by Sylva Fae, Suzanne Downes, Kate Robinson, Millie Slavidou, Patricia M Ahern and Paul Ian Cross. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Childrens-ChristmasCollection-Box-Set-ebook/dp/B082XCQZJN/
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/ - 67 -
Plot Twist by Father Ian Maher There is something quite exciting in reading a book or watching a film that catches you unawares with an unexpected twist in the plot. The twist demands a rethinking and reevaluation of what has gone before. It can subvert expectations and challenge assumptions.
The twist comes in verse 8, which shows that the rich man had discovered the crafty measures taken by his manager before presenting the books. Perhaps one of the tenant debtors had reported him. Yet rather than being outraged further, the rich man commends the manager for his actions.
Jesus knew this well as evidenced by his masterly use of parables. Repeatedly he leads his listeners along in telling every day stories, but then leaves them to ponder the implications of a conclusion that defies conventional wisdom.
This suggests that rich man was not a straight arrow himself. He was certainly breaking the spirit of the law about usury if not the letter. Magnanimity may have been more prudent than raising questions about his manager’s dishonesty, and maybe even his own.
Luke 16.1-8, a story about a dishonest manager, is one of Jesus’ most uncomfortable parables because he seems to be setting up the unlikeliest of characters as someone to follow as an example.
All in all, the parable cannot be about seeing the dishonest manager as a moral example. What Jesus is doing is posing a challenge by means of a contrast. Anyone hearing the parable then or now will know all about selfinterest. It is the closeness to home of the parable that disturbs and pushes us to ponder just what is being commended if not dishonesty.
It tells of how the manager of a rich man’s property seems to have been caught out in some dodgy dealings, and who engages in further dishonesty by writing off some debts of tenants, hoping for their goodwill towards him after he, presumably, is dismissed by the rich man.
I believe what Jesus is doing when he contrasts the ‘children of this age’ with the ‘children of light’ is highlighting the ingenuity and resourcefulness that is channelled in to our material ambitions, compared with the relative lack of such qualities in relation to furthering the values of the kingdom.
Taken at face value the parable flies in the face of the whole thrust of the Bible where dishonesty and false dealing is condemned repeatedly. So what are we to make of a parable that has a villain as its hero? - 68 -
By Phillip Medhurst - Photo by Harry Kossuth, FAL
The ‘children of light’ – that is, those who align themselves with the values of the kingdom, including you and me – need to be as astute and imaginative in furthering the interests of kingdom as are the ‘children of this age’ in pursuing worldly ambition. We need to be prepared to take risks, push boundaries and not be afraid to move in the grey areas of life if it contributes to making our communities, our society, our world a better place. The fact is that if all the energy, time, money and skills that are devoted to the acquisition of wealth and power – whether by governments, corporations, or individuals – were devoted to making our world a more just and equitable place, many of the ills that beset humankind would be swept away, some very swiftly.
The parable encourages us to be creative in finding solutions to the seemingly intractable problems that sometimes get in the way and hinder our Christian discipleship in the world. And we need to be more astute and resourceful in guarding and nurturing our spiritual life, giving to it at the least the same attention as our other priorities in life.
The generation of wealth for self-interest is futile and transitory. We can’t take it with us when we go, yet people go to extraordinary lengths to acquire it. On the other hand, wealth used for the purpose of building a more compassionate world leaves a lasting legacy.
That, at least, is what I have made of the twist in the parable of the dishonest manager this time around. I wonder what you make of it?
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
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Mom’s Favorite Reads Author Ronesa Aveela NONFICTION
Ronesa Aveela is “the creative power of two.” Two authors that is. The main force behind the work, the creative genius, was born in Bulgaria and moved to the US in the 1990s. She grew up with stories of wild Samodivi, Kikimora, the dragons Zmey and Lamia, Baba Yaga, and much more. She’s a freelance artist and writer. She likes writing mystery romance inspired by legends and tales. In her free time, she paints. Her artistic interests include the female figure, Greek and Thracian mythology, folklore tales, and the natural world interpreted through her eyes. She is married and has two children. Her writing partner was born and raised in the New England area. She has a background in writing and editing, as well as having a love of all things from different cultures. Together, the two make up the writing of Ronesa Aveela. https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/ ronesa-aveela/
A broken country. The will to survive. Is the cost too high to abandon the life you know? https:// ronesaaveela.wordpress.com/ ronesas-books/thewanderer/
A book the whole family can enjoy. Take a journey and discover Bulgarian folk tales, legends, and mythology. https:// ronesaaveela.wordpress.co m/ronesas-books/ light-love-rituals/
SPIRITS AND CREATURES SERIES
Nonfiction, Folklore, Social Customs
Past, present & future come together in this explosive modern tale of love and revenge.
https:// ronesaaveela.wordpress.com/ ronesas-books/mystical-emonasouls-journey/
Nonfiction, Folklore, Social Customs https://ronesaaveela.wordpress.com/ ronesas-books/a-study-of-rusalkislavic-mermaids-of-eastern-europe/
The day fire and ice erupt from the sky, everything changes forever for twelveyear-old Theo.
Discover the life of the Vodyanoy, Slavic water spirit. https://storyoriginapp.com/ giveaways/11590b3e-e201-11e9-b12f -f38cdb616e11
https:// ronesaaveela.wordpress.com/ ronesas-books/the-unborn-hero -of-dragon-village/ - 70 -
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The November issue of Connections eMagazine is dedicated to the holidays. Find new releases, promos and amazing articles. There’s something for everyone so be sure to check it out.
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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/ - 71 -
Things to Celebrate in December by Poppy Flynn Every day of month has some kind of official celebration and usually more than one! It might be big, it might be small…it might be wacky or downright bizarre! There are over 1500 National Days throughout the year, here’s just one observance of the many for each day in December 2020. December 1st - Christmas Lights Day We’ve come a long way since the risky practice of balancing candles on the tree. It’s time to dig out those decs.
December 5th - International Ninja Day Recognising the intrigue and appeal of the ninja. They first appeared in about the year 600 in the service of samurai warriors.
December 2nd National Mutt Day
Celebrated twice a year to celebrate the humble cross breed.
December 6th - Microwave Oven Day Honouring the appliance that changed the way we cook.
December 3rd - Roof over your head day A day to appreciate what we have and to recognise that not everybody is so lucky.
December 7th - Cotton Candy Day Dating back to the 1400’s and originally called Spun Sugar, it used to be a labour intensive process which made it expensive and only enjoyed by those who could afford it. Made from Flossine sugar which gave it some of its other names like Candy Floss, Fairy Floss. Except in France where it’s known as Barbe à papa which translates to Daddy’s beard.
December 4th - World Wildlife Conservation Day Supporting the Endangered Species Act, spreading awareness and striving to put an end to wildlife crime including poaching, which is putting Elephants, Rhinos, Tigers, Sea turtles and Gorillas at risk of extinction.
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December 8th - Pretend to be a time Traveler Day Time travel has captured the imaginations of scientist, authors, and TV/movie makers for years. With offerings like The Time Machine by HG Wells, Dr Who and Back to the Future is it any surprise that there’s a day dedicated to it? December 9th - Weary Willie Day What’s this you may ask. I did! Today is a day to recognise the art of ‘clowning’ and is named after a clown character made famous by Emmett Kelly, who was born on this day in 1898. December 10th - Human Rights Day With the formation of the United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).was one of its first significant achievements. December 11th - National App Day It’s a decade since the ‘App’ was declared the word of the year. Ten years on, can you imagine life without them?
December 14th - Monkey Day Monkeys, also known as simians, live all over the world and there are over 260 species. However, many species of monkeys are endangered. December 15th - International Tea Day Despite the popularity of Coffee, Tea is still the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. Make yourself a brew.
December 12th - International Day of Neutrality Promoting the importance of peaceful, friendly, and mutually beneficial relations between countries. December 13th - National Cocoa Day Cocoa, Hot Chocolate or Drinking chocolate. Whatever you call it, the chilly mid-December days are the perfect time to enjoy it. December 16th - Chocolate-covered Anything Day If you cover whatever you liked in chocolate, what would it be? Today is the day to experiment. December 17th - Maple Syrup Day Pancakes, flapjacks, or French toast. None of them would be the same without Maple Syrup. - 73 -
December 18th - International Migrants Day Not only underlining the protection of a migrants’ human rights, today also recognises the contributions they often make to their adopted country. December 19th - National Hard Candy Day Usually made from 100% sugar with added flavouring and colour, the first hard candies, such as lemon drops and peppermints, were actually taken as medical remedies December 20th - Sangria Day Did you know that Sangria is really just a fancy name for fruit punch? It’s made with wine, fresh fruit and fruit juices and sometimes includes herbs, spices, spirits, or a bit of fizz. December 21 - Yule st
Celebrating the lead up to the Winter solstice, the twelve days of Yule, originates from the Celtic calendar, the Wheel of the Year. Yule celebrations include decorating evergreen trees, hanging holly and mistletoe, and gift-giving. As you can probably tell, many of today’s Christmas conventions are borrowed from Yule traditions of old. December 22nd - National Short Person Day It’s true that good things come in small packages and if you’re one of those who is ‘vertically challenged’, today is the day to celebrate it.
December 25th - A’phabet Day or No L Day Bringing puns and the play on words to Christmas Day, to go with the awful jokes inside Christmas Crackers. Love them or hate them, today is a day for the punsters among us. December 26th - National Whiner’s Day As the year comes to an end, Whiner’s Day allows you the opportunity to complain about just about anything. And with the way 2020 has unfolded, I figure there might be a lot of complaints. However, the essential part of the day to remember a couple of important things:
a) No griping about what you didn’t get for Christmas. b) Appreciate all the things you do have.
December 23rd - Festivus In 1997, the popular television comedy, Seinfeld, brought us Festivus when sitcom character, Frank Costanza, invented it as a comeback to the commercialism of Christmas with the slogan “A Festivus for the rest of us.” December 24th - Eggnog Day Celebrated on Christmas Eve, Eggnog - basically a milk punch - is a popular Christmas drink throughout Europe and America. - 74 -
December 29th - Tick Tock Day No this has nothing to do with the app. In fact this day is to remind us to address any unfinished business that needs completing before the end of the year.
December 27th - Make Cut-out Snowflakes Day A day for getting crafty with your kids. December 28th - National Card Playing Day Today is a day for inviting your friends over and indulging in a good, old fashioned game. Let’s home we’ll have the opportunity to do that this year.
December 30th - Bacon Day Someone once said, ‘Everything is better with bacon’ and I, for one, would have to agree. No longer just a breakfast dish, enjoy a meal with bacon today. December 31st - Universal Hour of Peace Observed around the world from 11.30 p.m. on December 31st to 12.30 a.m. on January 1st the Universal Hour of Peace aims to take a step toward a war-free world. Happy New Year to you all.
Poppy Flynn was born in Buckinghamshire, UK and moved to Wales at eight years old with parents who wanted to live the 'self-sufficiency' lifestyle. Today she still lives in rural Wales and is married with six children. Poppy's love of reading and writing stemmed from her parents' encouragement and the fact that they didn't have a television in the house. "When you're surrounded by fields, cows and sheep, no neighbors, no TV and the closest tiny village is four miles away, there's a certain limit to your options, but with books your adventures and your horizons are endless." Discover more about Poppy on Mom's Favorite Reads website:
https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/poppy-flynn - 75 -
Word Search — December 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/ - 76 -
Snow Dogs by Sylva Fae & Adrian Czarnecki I have always loved these beautiful dogs, with their piercing eyes and distinctive wolf-like markings, but I must admit to being slightly ignorant about huskies. Recently, I was invited to join a husky group by children’s author, Adrian Czarnecki, whose books are about the adventures of his own litter of Siberian Husky pups. I originally joined to support the books, but instead, I discovered just how talented, clever and multi-skilled the breeds (and their owners) are. Their unique qualities make them perfect for training – just within this group alone, there are mushing sled dogs, awardwinning trick dogs, rafting, kayaking, swimming and flying dogs, medical, and emotional support dogs, and of course, all of them are considered part of the family.
Neisha Shrimpton runs Australian Sleddog Tours with her pack of rescued huskies. Neisha explains how it started:
“It all started whilst out training for the Altitude 5000 Race, we were approached by an elderly Canadian lady. She asked, ‘could you possibly take my grandson for a short ride in your sled? I see Sleddogs all the time in Canada but my grandson lives in Australia, it's not something you see here every day. I really want him to experience what I take for granted at home in Canada.’ So off they went and on return they were giggling and had smiles from ear to ear. The Canadian lady thanked us all, including the Huskies, but before leaving she turned looked at us both and said, ‘You should do Sleddog Tours.’
I had previously assumed that huskies were sled dogs, and all sled dogs were huskies…. Not so, first of all, there many breeds, though Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute are what most of us would picture as a typical sled dog. Sled dogs have been used in the Arctic for over 9000 years, as transportation, hauling supplies and delivering mail. Their dense, two-layer coat keeps them warm and waterproof, making them ideal to cope in freezing temperatures. In addition, their strength, stamina, endurance, and intelligence make them ideal working dogs. They are also loving and loyal, and some huskies like Janga, don’t work, or do tricks, they just make the perfect soulmate companion. Sled Dog Tours I had mistakenly assumed that sledding only takes place in Canada, Alaska, Greenland and similar such places, but again, I was surprised to learn that there are sled dogs working as far away as Australia.
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So began our journey, we had five Huskies back then, more Huskies were needed so we started rescuing Huskies to join the team. There is nothing more rewarding than giving them a second chance in life and seeing them do what they love to do.” Trick Dogs Huskies are incredibly intelligent; they are also keen to learn and are naturally inquisitive, and these qualities make them ideal for training. I’d seen the term, ‘trick dog’ mentioned in the group, and I’d pictured some kind of circus performance – huskies balancing on balls, while juggling…. Kim Mayes is an award-winning trainer of trick dogs, and kindly explained what it actually meant.
Adventure Huskies Huskies, it seems, can be trained to do almost anything, and are always up for an adventure, especially if it means quality time with their owner. Their boundless energy and enthusiasm for life makes them the perfect companion for an adventurous family.
“Tricks are a wide range of skills...everything from coordination to paw work, nose work, scent work, distance work, chaining behaviors, non-verbal skills, canine conditioning and more! There has never been a sport I have competed in, that I have learned as much about my dogs, as with this one. It is a great opportunity to really bond with your dog.”
Ashlee Kiser’s dog, Balto is her son, Ian’s best friend and companion. Together, they compete in weight pulling, which is a form of urban mushing, which replicates the traditional use of working dogs. In addition, Balto joins the family in hiking, rafting, kayaking, swimming and trail riding – the clever pup is even learning how to bike with Ian.
Kim has three huskies and they are all champions. One of her dogs, Seppala was the first in the US to attain the title of Champion Trick Dog, and one of her girls, Nova held the record for youngest trick dog, for a while, earning the title at just twelve weeks old. Kim too is highly accredited in the world of dog training, and has written several books on training and behaviour, and is the Expert Dog Writer for a variety of publications.
Abby Ritchie’s dog, Zeppelin is an accomplished rafting dog. She describes him as a sweetheart, her soul mate and best friend.
(Kim Mayes’ books, ‘Getting Braver: Tricks & Games For Your Fearful Dog’, and ‘Hyper Dog 101’, are available to order from Amazon.) Kim’s talented pets have appeared in multiple TV shows and adverts, and together, they hold five world records. The photograph shows one of Kim’s newest pups, gaining awards at only fourteen weeks old. - 78 -
He is also incredibly photogenic and you can see from his expression just how much he loves taking part in adventures with his owner.
Rescued Huskies Huskies are full of love, life and energy, but they have many other traits that require a lot of work: ♦ Huskies shed fur – all year round – so need regular brushing. ♦ They are expert escapologists and can easily jump a 6’ fence! ♦ They love to run, and run, and run…. They need an owner who has the energy to give them sufficient exercise. ♦ They are incredibly vocal and like their voice to be heard – loudly! ♦ They are pack animals, so often suffer separation anxiety – they need company. ♦ Some Huskies are naturally destructive, especially loving to dig, and a bored husky can be incredibly destructive.
of time on enrichment toys, hand feeding him, and exercising his body and his mind, trying to build a bond with him. They worked on walking him with their other dogs, and it took a couple weeks for them to bond, and for Hagrid to become part of the pack. Jasmine explains: “Hagrid spent his days learning new things, how to swim, how to pull a bike, and most of all that we were his home. He blossomed under our eyes, every adventure he went on, he got a little braver, a little more excited to get out and explore the world.
With training and care from a responsible owner none of these traits is an issue, but sadly, inexperienced owners struggle to manage these strong characters, and huskies often end up in rescue centres.
Hagrid loved learning to pull the bike, and canicross (basically cross country running with your dogs). He really started to come alive when I began training him to pull. We felt like he knew he had a job and he was good at it. His face when we brought his harness out was so happy, his whole body wiggled, and he sat so patiently waiting for me to put it on him. He was just an amazing boy.” Sadly, Hagrid crossed the rainbow bridge on a sunny Wednesday morning in July, leaving a huge hole in Jasmine’s heart, but also so many wonderful memories.
Many owners in the group have rescue dogs and can’t stress enough the joy in seeing these dogs become part of a loving family. Jasmine Pratt’s first rescue dog was Hagrid. He’d had a difficult start in life, and came to them underweight, scared and aggressive. The first few days were hard work, but Jasmine and her family persevered. They spent a lot - 79 -
place – her husky soulmate, Sakara. Sakara’s antics and rebellious teenager-like attitude made her start laughing again. As they bonded, she taught Kathi to love life again. Kathi now owns eleven huskies and is a great mentor to other husky owners.
Cassie Macdonald found her dog, Girl tied to a tree outside a puppy mill. The poor dog had been deemed ‘worthless’ due to her loss of vision. At the same time, Cassie was also going through some personal difficulties and Girl gave her the strength to keep going. Cassie explains: “We met each other during our darkest times…the moment she ran up to me and flopped on her back asking for a belly rub, I fell in love. She came home with me that day, and we have been inseparable ever since.” Hero Huskies There are many heart-warming stories of rescue huskies within the group, but as Cassie Macdonald’s story shows, often it is the husky doing the rescuing.
Yomaira Habibe also tells a similar, heart-warming story: “Colombiana was given to me in a time where there was no light...only darkness. She laid almost one year next to me...to keep me company, and helped me get back in shape. I went from 100 steps a day to almost 15,000 and lost more than 40 pounds. She is the happiest when next to me. I honestly don't know, what would have happened to me if she didn't come into my life...I guess I probably wouldn't be around anymore.”
Kathi Lanzetti suffered from deep depression, she didn’t care about anyone or anything, she had no feelings or emotions and had given up on life. Then a miracle appeared to bring her out of that dark
Megan Bielefeldt’s gorgeous puppy, Clara, arrived at the perfect time to help them through the grieving process after they lost their dogs in a house fire. Clara was named after Dr. Who’s companion, Clara Oswald, who saved the Dr from his depression when he lost his two best friends. Like her namesake, Clara helped to mend a broken heart. - 80 -
It’s no surprise why Brittany Baldwin’s dog is called Blue, when you look at those beautiful, piercing eyes. Blue is a different kind of saviour as he acts as Brittany’s psychiatric service dog, and is trained to detect her panic attacks before they happen. He performs tasks to calm her panic attacks, should they occur. Out in public, Blue is trained to guide Brittany to an exit, should the panic take over, and he prevents people from getting too close for comfort. It took over 1,200 hours of training to become a service dog, but as Brittany says, “Blue is such a people pleaser and he’s happiest working alongside me.
Rema Murphy Mitchell has spent the last twenty years rescuing huskies and has fifteen Siberian Huskies and Malamutes, plus one crazy Border Collie. She now uses her knowledge of the breed to educate children.
Huskies and Children Despite their size, huskies are gentle, affectionate and good natured. Although it’s wise to never leave a young child alone with any breed, huskies are generally good with children.
The business, ‘Our Furry Husky Kiddos Kennel’, does demonstrations in schools, to share educational information about Northern breeds. Rema’s granddaughter, Emma Rea, has been on a dogsled since she was six months old, and mushed her own snow dogsled, with one dog at the age of one! Last year, at age six, Emma Rea ran her first competitive race in Brownville, Maine.
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Rema explains some basic dog sledding commands: Mush / hike Whoa Gee Haw
He was left in a crate outside a rescue place, with no food and water, and a note that said, ‘Too hyper and has a biting issue.’ The only thing he had with him was a pink squeaking dumbell toy, that he still adores to this day. He got his nickname ‘Captain’, because my husband and I flew in our plane to get him and give him his ‘freedom flight’ home. We named him Chinook because of the massive Chinook helicopters and when he is really excited, he wags his tail in circles like a helicopter. He has logged about 5 hours riding in airplanes, he's the best farm dog you could ask for and can 90% of the time be seen zooming down our grass airfield like he's a plane building speed to take off. He loves his big/little sister Piper (also named after the greatest aviation manufacturer) and can be seen resting his head on her or being her wingman. He is a true and true farm dog and helps take care of our horses, pigs, and feathery friends. He's done a little of everything so has a very full life of adventures.”
Let’s go! Stop! Turn right Turn left
In the book, Captain Chinook is Rock Star Mercs best friend and pilots his revolutionary eco-friendly tour jet. You can read about his adventures in the latest Hot Rod Todd book: Hot Rod Todd Visits Loch Ness. All books in this series are available from Amazon or through the author’s website – www.adventuresofhotrodtodd.com – and if you look closely, you may spot some of the other special dogs featured in this article, within the beautiful illustrations by Cameo Anderson.
Inspirational Huskies So far, we’ve met some amazingly talented huskies, but this last one inspired a character in Adrian Czarnecki’s, Adventures of Hot Rod Todd books. I’ll let his owner, Alex Lundberg tell his story: “This is my baby Chinook. Or as many know him, Captain Chinook. We rescued him when he was ten weeks old.
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/ - 82 -
Winter Time by Stan Phillips
One last day of summer time till the tick tocking time falls back. Losing that hour in its careless rush to usher the summer away. And opening the arms of the world, Frosty fingered, scarved, and coated, To greet another winter. Negative November
Wassailing December Two faced January Frigid February Marauding March Oh wild and wicked season. Come on Do your worst!
Stan Phillips is an 80 year old poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips - 83 -
The Social Distance Tango by Stan Phillips All that I ask dear Is you take off your mask dear For I want a little more As we move around the floor
While we're dancing the social distance tango It's a shame that I cannot see your face Just because of the interminable space That lies between us Like Mars to Venus As we're dancing the social distance tango
And oh for the touch of your hand dear
So let the music play
I know that would be oh so grand dear.
As we struggle through another day
But though it's a disgrace
Though the politicians try us
The rules are in place
We'll not be killed off by a virus
As we dance to the social distance tango
While we're dancing the social distance tango So get your best dance frock out For all the six week lock out.
And let the music play Throughout the livelong day The virus won't defeat us And Covid cannot beat us While we're dancing the social distance tango Ole!! Stan Phillips is an 80 year old poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips - 84 -
Do You Need to Know the Reiki Symbols to Practice Reiki by Val Tobin When Reiki students graduate from Level I to Level II, they learn the three symbols that allow them to use Reiki in more powerful and versatile ways. Learning the symbols enables practitioners to work with their clients more specifically, targeting areas of the body, mind, and spirit in new and different ways. They are now able to send Reiki over distances, use Reiki for manifesting, and even to send Reiki through time to heal past lives. The Second Degree Reiki takes practitioners to a level of deep knowingness. In fact, the higher level of Reiki channeling power you receive when you are initiated into this Degree is called “Oku Den,” which means “Deep Knowledge” in Japanese. Second Degree Reiki. This tradition has carried down from the originator, but there is more to it than simply adhering to Dr. Usui’s wishes. The main reason you shouldn’t use the symbols for Reiki when you have not received Level II attunements is because they won’t work.
Can Reiki I Practitioners Learn and Use the Symbols without Getting the Attunements or Taking Level II Training?
While it is possible to find copies of the symbols in books or on the Internet, I don’t advise Level I Reiki practitioners to find, learn, and use them for Reiki. When learning Reiki II, we are taught that the symbols are sacred, and when used in the service of Reiki, they should not be shared with anyone who has not been attuned to Second Degree Reiki. For that reason, when using the symbols on a client, I make sure that his/her eyes are closed, or I do not physically draw the symbols. I mentally visualize the symbols in my hands or on the person.
The Power Comes with Attunement and Not from Symbols
William Lee Rand, founder of the International Center for Reiki Training, says in his Reiki manual, Reiki: The Healing Touch, First and Second Degree Manual, he has verified many times that without receiving the attunements, use of the symbols doesn’t work. He explains, “It is interesting to note that the attunement actually empowers the symbols so that they will fulfill their intended purpose; without the attunement, the symbols do not seem to do much” (Rand II 5).
I use the Usui Reiki method, discovered by Dr. Mikao Usui in the 1900s. Dr. Usui insisted that his students memorize and keep confidential the symbols they learn when working on their - 85 -
Other Reiki experts disagree that sharing the symbols is wrong and make valid cases for doing so. Diane Stein has copies of all the symbols, including those at the Master/ Teacher level in her book Essential Reiki. One reason she mentions for sharing the symbols is that, in the past, many Reiki Level II practitioners were not permitted to have copies of the symbols, and so have lost the knowledge of how to draw them.
Every time you use Reiki, you boost your energy. You help yourself even while you help others. The more you use it, the better and stronger it flows through you. You will find your intuition strengthens as well, especially if you charge your food and water with Reiki before you consume it. As you increase your ability and gain experience, you may want to consider receiving compensation for giving Reiki.
Rand overcomes this problem by allowing former students to download the symbols from a passwordprotected location on his website, using a password that Reiki Level II students would know. However, since it would be easy these days to learn the password by looking up sources that reveal what it would be, this is not a foolproof method of protecting the symbols from the uninitiated. The important thing to remember is that no one but a Level II or higher Reiki practitioner should use the symbols for Reiki. So, even if you have access to the symbols, you are ethically obligated not to make use of them unless you are a Reiki II practitioner. But there is still a lot you can do as a Level I practitioner.
Practicing Reiki as a Level I Practitioner
Level I practitioners are able to perform Reiki effectively. At the first level, you are attuned to channel Reiki, which is an intelligent universal life force energy that flows through the practitionerâ€™s hands and into the client, and goes where it is needed the most. You are taught the hand positions and how to use it on yourself or on others, including on plants, animals, and trees.
Receiving Compensation for Giving Reiki
You may begin asking for compensation for your Reiki services even at the first level. Many Reiki teachers will expect you to do case studies to fulfill the requirements of your training. While you may not want to ask your case studies to - 86 -
While it’s true that if you want to build a thriving Reiki practice you should continue your training to at least Level II, you can do much with your Level I training. Reiki provides benefits at every level, and the more you practice it, the more you will witness how powerful it is even at the first level. But if you want to take advantage of the full scope of the Reiki energy, then you should consider taking the Reiki II training, where you will have access to a higher energy from the attunements and make use of the symbols to accomplish so much more.
give you monetary compensation, it is permissible to ask them to give you something as a token in exchange for the energy work you are doing. When I was doing my Level I case studies, I received some lovely herb teas and candles in exchange for Reiki, and some people insisted that I take a token amount of money for it. That helped to boost my confidence and gave me the experience and skills I needed to go further with my training. It led me to decide to continue to the Master/Teacher level. As you become more experienced and confident, and if you have the desire to provide Reiki for more people than just friends and family, you can set up a Reiki practice. Set your rates according to your level, though. If you are not yet a Level II, then be clear that you still have training to complete and charge for your services accordingly. Some people will not mind that you haven’t received Level II training and aren’t using the symbols if they are getting the service at a reduced rate.
Image: Japanese Symbol for Reiki—by Dreamage Rand, William Lee. Reiki: The Healing Touch, First and Second Degree Manual, Southfield, MI: Vision Publications, 2008. Stein, Diane. Essential Reiki, California: The Crossing Press, 1995. Disclaimer: The information presented here is not intended to substitute advice from your physician or health-care professional. Before beginning any health or diet program, consult your physician.
Val Tobin writes speculative fiction and searches the world over for the perfect butter tart. Her home is in Newmarket, Ontario, where she enjoys writing, reading, and talking about writing and reading. Discover more about Val on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/val-tobin
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Hot Rod Todd Coloring Pages by Adrian Czarnicki This is my very first contribution to ‘Mom’s Favorite Reads’ so I am hoping you enjoy it. 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 are 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. - 88 -
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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—Ronesa Aveela & Denise McCabe Our Managing Editors oversee the physical content of the magazine and coordinates the production schedule. There are two Managing Editors for Mom’s Favorite Reads; Ronesa Aveela and Denise McCabe. Get to know our Managing Editor’s on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: Ronesa Aveela— A freelance artist and author of mystery romance inspired by legends and tales. https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/ronesa-aveela/
Denise McCabe— A children's book author and blogger. https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/denise-mccabe/
Art Director & Proofreader — Sylva Fae Sylva Fae—Mum of three, fairy woodland owner, and author of children’s books. Sylva is is responsible for the amazing graphics that appear throughout the publication each month. She works hard to ensure the images capture the spirit and message our author's convey in their articles and stories. In addition, As Copy Editor, Sylva works hard behind the scenes to correct any grammatical, typos and spelling errors throughout the magazine. https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/sylva-fae/
Copy Editor / Proofreader — Wendy H. Jones 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/
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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: Val Tobin — https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/val-tobin/ Stan Phillips — https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/stan-phillips/ Father Ian Muher — https://imaherblog.wordpress.com/
Discover more amazing authors… https://moms-favorite-reads.com/moms-authors/
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