Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine June 2021

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Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine is published monthly by Goylake Publishing and designed by Melanie P. Smith of

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Flash Fiction and Sharks by Allison Symes ...................................................................................................... 8

Lexie Conyngham: Mystery Writer — Interviewed by Wendy Jones ........... 46 Campfires and Practical Crafts—Interviewed by Sylva Fae ............................ 68

Laughter is the Best Medicine! by Hannah Howe ............................................ 73

Beyond the Hills by Maressa Mortimer ............................................................. 42 Dragon Village Nightmare by Ronesa Aveela ................................................... 43 Bone Dragon—Legends of the Once and Future King by Susan Faw .......... 44 The Fool: New Beginnings by Val Tobin ........................................................... 45 Paige Carter: Deputy Sheriff Season 5 by Melanie P. Smith .......................... 45

Macho! by Jester (Age 17) ...................................................................................... 49

Lady Anne’s Way 110m by Alan Southworth ....................................................59

Monday to Friday by Stan Phillips ...................................................................... 16 Golden Skies | Insomniac by Stan Phillips ....................................................... 74 Chagall (Blue Circus) by John Greeves ............................................................... 82

Fairy Bells of Blue by Sylva Fae ........................................................................... 17 Organise Us? In Dreams! by Christine Larsen .................................................. 52 Europe by Book by Hannah Howe ...................................................................... 56 Out of Africa—A Literary Pilgrimage by John Greeves .................................. 66 It’s Not Rocket Science by Father Ian Maher ..................................................... 76 Genealogy: Meet My Ancestors by Hannah Howe ......................................... 80 World Ocean’s Day by Melanie P. Smith ........................................................... 84

Mom’s Favorite Reads Author — Hannah Howe .............................................. 50

A Family Camping Trip by Chantal Bellehumeur ........................................... 25 The Door by Maressa Mortimer ........................................................................... 54 The Ring of Mystery by Penny Luker ................................................................. 64

Hot Rod Todd Coloring Pages .............................................................................. 40 Word Search by Mom’s Favorite Reads .............................................................. 58 3 Move Puzzle—Supplied by ........................................................... 75 Puzzles by Paul Godding ....................................................................................... 83

Yosemite National Forest by Melanie P. Smith ................................................. 78

20% OFF First Book Promotion with the Fussy Librarian ............................... 84 Connections eMagazine ......................................................................................... 85

Flash Fiction & Sharks by Allison Symes Flash Fiction and Sharks Flash fiction has changed my life. What is it? It is any story up to 1000 words maximum though you don’t have to write to that count. I’ve written to 100 words, 50, 750, 1000 and almost everything in between. Although the form is short, it must be a story with a proper beginning, middle and ending.

CafeLit loved my flash fiction.

Flash fiction is character led because you don’t have room for lots of description so I must make my characters show you what I want you to see. I’ll share an example later.

Chapeltown Books, who are linked to CafeLit, then issued a call for a single author flash fiction collection. I knew by then I had a reasonable amount written and, along with new material especially written for this, I had enough to submit.

It is a form I discovered by accident after escaping “sharks” on my writing journey.

You can imagine my joy when I was offered a publishing contract!

Happy Writing Accident Okay, the writing accident where you end up with two books to your name is the kind of accident to have but how did this happen?

The Sharks Now wind back the clock a few years. I was offered a publishing contract for a novel, but the offer letter was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors and this rang alarm bells. I couldn’t believe what the publishers were trying to charge me to bring the book out and realised if I self-published, I could do it cheaper and keep my rights. I would also do a much better job on the spelling and grammar!

I’d been writing standard length short stories (1500 words +) for Bridge House Publishing, CafeLit, and a few other places. I was having work published online and in print. Then CafeLit issued a 100 word challenge. My first thought was you must be kidding me. There’s no way you can tell a proper story in that tight a word count.

Every writer wants their work published but not at any price. It must be to a good standard. I knew, despite having dreamed for a long time of being published, I wanted my book out there “looking good”. I worried if the offer letter could be shoddy, the publishers would be the same with the book.

My second thought was go with it, Allison. They wouldn’t have issued the challenge if it was impossible. What have you got to lose? The answer to that was nothing. -8-

I contacted the Society of Authors. They told me the company was a vanity publisher and what was wrong with the contract - and boy was there a lot wrong!

Chapeltown Books. They’re an indie publisher based around Manchester and their contracts are on Society of Author terms.

I dumped the vanity publisher, got my manuscript back, entered it into a Debut Novel competition. It was long-listed, coming 13th out of 70 entries.

What did I learn from this? Firstly, trust your gut instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, check it out. Never be afraid to ask awkward questions and always get good advice if you’re offered a contract.

I then decided to approach agents. Most said no. I had a lovely handwritten rejection from one saying there was nothing wrong with the book, it just wasn’t for them. I’d learned by now if you get notes like that, take them seriously. Agents are inundated with material, so when they do take time out to reply, it is time to sit up and take notice.

Secondly, if one route to publication doesn’t work out, try another! Thirdly, never sign anything you’re not happy with. When I turned down the vanity publisher, I’d not been published. There was no sign of that happening at the time either. What these people prey on is the author’s dream. Yet I’ve never regretted burning my bridges here.

Then joy oh joy I was offered representation by an agent. But the offer letter was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors! There were fees. This was beginning to sound a familiar alarm bell. I turned the agent down, that book remains unpublished, and I changed direction.

So, flash fiction then has been my way in to the publishing world. It has led to publication, being a prize winner (Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition three times in a row), judging flash competitions, talking about flash to an international writing summit and to various groups on Zoom.

Switching to the Short Form I focused on short story writing, discovered flash fiction, and now have two books out with -9-

It was a fantastic writing accident to have!

And now story time… the best way to demonstrate what flash fiction is and can do is to share a story!

Dressed to Kill She walked into the room with an elegance that made everyone in the room turn and stare. But then the last time the locals in the cafe would have seen this woman would have been on the streets when they ignored her. She had been sleeping rough in the now empty Debenhams shop frontage. Nobody took any notice of the homeless in these parts. It was such a shame. She used to get some money from people with a conscience who used to shop there but times change and they hadn’t been keen to spend money in the department store, yet alone on her.

time in goodness knew how long, she was going to have whatever she wanted to eat and drink, and she was going to enjoy herself, knowing those staring at her now had no idea who she was or what she had done. By the time they found out, she’d probably be in prison but even then she’d be okay. She’d have a roof over her head. If the police didn’t catch up with her, she had the money and she would buy a new identity and life. Her appearance here proved it could be done. Nobody remembered the homeless and occasionally that was useful.



But now…. She was wearing a glamorous red threequarter length dress with gold braiding around the wrists and neckline. The perfume was Chanel No. 5 and she walked to her table as if she owned the place.

Her Youtube channel, with book trailers and story videos, is at UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA/

It was a killing that turned her fortunes.

With her non-fiction hat on, Allison blogs for online magazine, Chandler’s Ford Today, often on topics of interest to writers. Her weekly column can be found at

But now was not the time to talk about that. She suspected the police would find out soon enough. Right now, all that mattered was that, for the first

Allison also blogs for Authors Electric and More Than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers.

She was dressed to kill.

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

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Mom’s Favorite Reads’ authors span many genres but flash fiction is a particular skill to master. Several authors left their writing comfort zone, and took up the flash fiction challenge to create a story under 300 words….

The man pulls a fifty from his dirty, ragged jeans. He slaps it down. “This is a ‘Pay it forward.’” “No, I’m fine.” She glares at the man, but the cashier has already completed the sale. She waits for him in the parking lot. With hatred in her eyes, she shoves money into his hands. “Won’t take nothing from the likes of you.”

Spinning It Backward by Rebecca Carter

A solar flare leaves the sun.

A man in a white robe, girded by a sash bears a placard over his neck.

A couple, once joined by good intentions, now breaks apart.

“The world is doomed. Repent now.”

A car, previously given to one in need, crashes into a tree.

Another man scratches his scraggly beard and thinks, “I’ll do my part to make it better.”

A child prodigy, provided a second chance at life, finally succumbs to disease.

A woman in front of him in the grocery line counts out change.

Deed after deed undone. - 11 -

Triumphant… by Ceri Bladen

Further back the spring unwinds, ripping through the fabric of time.

As I sit astride my black steed, my sword covered in blood and innards, I look at the bloodbath on the plain below me. Neither side has fared well.

A previously won battle becomes lost because a message wasn’t delivered.

I roll my shoulders under my heavy armour. I, King Bulut of the Kingdom of Kral, should not be fearing defeat. I rule.

A cruel regime takes control. Mayhem reigns. Faster and faster the good deeds unravel. Judea, now.

But not today. Lord Cenk’s army seems to have the upper hand. My advisors—the ones who are left— suggest retreat. Too many of our men and horses are being taken down by Lord Cenk’s ferocious dragons.

The Good Samaritan passes by, turning his head away. Judas never betrays his Lord with a kiss. Jesus never crucified.

My heart is heavy. I half-hear their arguments as I focus my attention on the stench of death and burning. It assaults my senses. It is my fault I led so many to their deaths. Their lives; my guilt.

Mankind doomed. The intensity of the solar flare increases. Earth scorched.

Lifting my hand to signal a retreat, something snaps within me. While responsibility and old age felt an enormous burden to bear, I did not want my legacy to be destroyed. Destroyed like the burning items in front of me. My blood boiled as hot as the raging fires.

Life no longer exists. The spinning stops.

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So young, eyes filled with such wonder and belief in more than heaven and earth reveal, he can clearly see the kindly ancient face framed by 'hair' branches filled with chattering squirrels, twittering birds; and bunnies and a friendly fox below.

“Barrels of water!” I shout to my commanders. “Quell the flames of destruction.” As they haul the water, unexpectedly Lord Cenk sounds an alarm to retreat. But he had won. I watch as they make their hasty retreat; men and dragons.

"Without doubt, we are ALL related; even the humblest weed, even the ancients like ME. ALL of us."

As a renewed vigour consumes me, I call for my remaining army to reform. The battle has turned.

"Me? Me too? Can I be a rellie, too?" “Only if you make a wish as you blow on this, my boy,” and the tree's eyes twinkle, as one great 'arm' bends forward, offering a full blown milkweed thistle.

We give chase until they are cornered near high cliffs. There are only two options for them, fight or retreat up the narrow valley. My eyes widen when Lord Cenk’s men enter the valley, and the dragons fly over the top.

“Each floaty seed will take your wish on the breeze; on the wings of floating thistle fairies as they fly to Santa at the North Pole." Great-great-grandfather tree's smile widens. "He catches them all year round you see, granting some through the year, for you and for me.”

I do not know what is at the end of the valley. I do not care. But they will not be permitted to come out. If they survive, we will form a truce another day. I post men at the entrance and return to the Kindgom of Kral.

The small boy waits, with not too many jumps, up and down, up and down—waiting for the exact right breeze, and when it finally comes, wishes and blows with all his small might, waving and saying, “Bye bye floaty fairy… fly away home.”


One Earth Day by Christine Larsen “Just a weed seed?” says the tree, creaking and groaning but smiling as he bends. An ordinary thing for an extraordinary old man tree to do… certainly in the eyes of one young boy, dwarfed and humbled by this veteran of countless seasons.

The Tree sways gently from side to side. 'Be always kind and be always free,' says the Tree… and the tiny birds add their chorus, "Be free, be free… like me, like me." - 13 -

And the small boy touches the ancient one in wonder, and smiles and waves at all the tree's guests, before skipping joyfully away, proud of his wish for this special Earth Day. © 2021 Christine Larsen

Sweet Solitude by Sylva Fae It's amazing how quickly a mug of coffee next to a camp fire can soothe away the stresses of life. The breeze through the leaves clears my mind and my breathing slows to the rhythm of the swaying branches. I feel my troubles dropping away like the autumn leaves. It's beautiful here, nothing to do but sip my coffee and stare into the flickering flames. They lick at the cloth and flare bright crimson, hissing as the fire consumes the evidence of my endeavours.

I grimace slightly as the act of raising my mug jars my aching shoulder. It's a good ache though, a sign of a job well done. I drain the mug and watch as the fire reduces the blood-stained clothing to a pile of ashes. The fresh earth clinging to the spade at my feet is the only reminder now. I sigh into the breeze and breathe in the contentment of newfound solitude.

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Trapdoors by Suzanne Downes

Not Guilty? By Adrian Czarnecki

“Watch your step, gents, landlord’s got the trapdoor open to the cellar,” said Old George as Lazarus and Stonier approached the Navigation Inn.

I’m in the dock, the jury has convened and the judge asks for their verdict. Not Guilty.

Sure enough, the trapdoor gaped at their feet and so deep in conversation had they been that without the old fellow’s warning, they might very well have had a hard landing on a newly lowered barrel of beer.

Ha! What the f**k do they know. I haunted and taunted my victim until he snapped. Self defense? Nope, totally premeditated, but prove it.

“Thanks, George,” said Inspector Lazarus. “Dangerous things, trapdoors. You can’t be too careful. My father died falling through a trapdoor,” confided George conversationally. “Really,” said Stonier, “Was he a publican?” “No,” answered Old George, “They were hanging him.”

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Monday to Friday by Stan Phillips

await my weekend with excitement, with anticipation, as Friday melts into blessed Saturday weekend morning, and Sunday lie in bed with papers, and toast, and tea, and watch the idle day drift dreamily, lazily by. And still, I go to bed on Sunday night with small bitterness in my heart for the damned day that lies menacingly before me, (even though there is nothing for me to do) Monday still grins at me through crooked, stained teeth, unforgiving, as the dreamtime of my blessed weekend draws to it's inevitable close.

How strange it is that my week is still in two parts. I wonder how many retired people feel the same? That after a lifetime of: Those Monday to Friday studying days. Those Monday to Friday working days. Those five days filled with tasks to perform, Those deeds to do. Those early to bed, early to rise, rules to follow. With scarce a break for all those unfolding years of my existence. I should still, even now old and grey and retired,

Stan Phillips (C)2020 Stan Phillips is a poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: - 16 -

Fairy Bells of Blue by Sylva Fae A blue sky is always a good excuse to escape to the woods for some fresh air therapy. I always have a surge of happiness as we turn onto the lane to the woods. That short drive, carefully dodging baby rabbits, signifies escape from the real world. I can’t explain the joy that this random bunch of trees holds, but they’re ours and they hold happy memories and promises of adventures to come. Our magical little woodland is special. The children eagerly pull on wellies and disappear into the trees long before we arrive at the camp. They seek out the familiar, climbing their favourite tree or racing to the rope swings. My husband also has his routines, checking the wildlife camera and making a fire are always his first priorities. I however, seek out the changes; I potter, camera in hand, to discover what each season has brought.

For the last few weeks, I’ve watched the progress of the bluebells. With each woodland wander, I’ve eagerly headed to the bank on the edge of the secret field in the hope I’ll be greeted by a sea of blue. This visit was the one. I could smell the heady scent long before I arrived. It’s a unique smell. I’ve always associated colours with smells and this is the scent of violet; rich, sweet and exotic. I surged downhill, wading through ferns and brambles, in anticipation of the scene beyond. The children charged on to run through the long grass in the field, leaving me for a little moment of calm with my bluebells. Just as well if folklore is to be believed, for the bluebells are fairy flowers. It is told that an unsuspecting child wandering into a bluebell ring, will fall under a fairy enchantment. Other tales claim that the wearer of a bluebell

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crown will be compelled to tell only the truth. I trusted my woodland fairies were a friendlier bunch than those of folklore and settled against a tree, my legs stretched out on a carpet of blue. I could see the children through the trees, dancing and twirling, then disappearing from sight as they rolled in the long grasses. As their voices blended with the breeze, the sounds of the woodland drifted back. I listened out for the ringing of the bells, a summoning for the fairies to gather. Instead, I heard only the hum of wings as bees and butterflies enjoyed their feast. This time of year is special to me and even without the fairies, I have fallen under the enchantment of my bluebell bank.

The Bluebell

Bluebells are known by many names: Wild or Wood Hyacinth, Wood Bell, Bell Bottle, Cuckoo’s Boots, Lady’s Nightcap and Witches’ Thimbles; they are also known as Fairy Bells and the sight and scent of them alone is magical. If you have ever wandered through an enchanting sea of blue, it’s easy to see why they feature frequently in local folklore. Their Latin name is Hyacinthoides non-scripta, but prior to the 1970’s they were called Endymion non-scripta – Endymion being a beautiful mortal youth from Greek legend, who was lulled into an eternal sleep by the moon goddess, Selene, so he would never grow old and die. Myth and magic surround this beautiful flower.

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© Sylva Fae

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Although bluebells can be found across Europe, fifty percent of them grow in the UK. Sadly, they are threatened by habitat loss and as such they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). Bluebells can take years to recover after footfall damage, as crushed leaves cannot photosynthesise, causing the plant to die back. Perhaps the fairies are trying to protect the bluebell, as local folklore warns that to trample a bluebell bed will anger the sleeping fairies and bring bad luck. Darker myths tell of children who stray into the bluebell bank, being whisked away to the fairy realms – definitely a deterrent not to step on the plants. However gorgeous the bluebell smells, it is not edible – every part of the plant is toxic. It does have some useful qualities though, the sap was once used in bookbinding, because the toxicity repelled insects, and it was also used to glue feathers to arrows. - 20 -

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Traditionally, bluebells were used to cure TB and leprosy, but modern-day scientists are now researching their unique properties, that may one day be a cure for cancer. If this is proven to be effective, then the humble English bluebell truly is deserving of its magical names.

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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:

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A Family Camping Trip by Chantal Bellehumeur When Martha announced to her two teenage children that they would be going on a family camping trip over the weekend, neither of them looked up from their electronic devices. Her sixteen-year old daughter Jody let out a sigh and rolled her eyes, then continued texting. Although Martha couldn’t see the back and forth messages, she figured her daughter and the other party had just ridiculed the trip and were probably complaining about how unfair their lives were. Jody’s phone kept giving out text message notification beeps which Martha found as annoying as the clicking noises of her daughter’s quick typing.

"What!? Are we just going to sleep on the ground and let bugs crawl all over us and get eaten alive by mosquitos?" Jody asked. "I'm definitely not going!"

"Let your mother speak," Greg told his daughter.

While Martha tried to keep her cool, her thirteenyear old son Jonathan rapidly pressed the buttons of his gaming console. "Come on!" he yelled. "How are you not dead? I hit you!" He let out a frustrated grunt. "What? How? How?" He threw the console down beside him. "Yo! You made me die," he told his mom.

With his muscular build and standing six feet tall, Greg looked imposing. His naturally loud voice could be intimidating and this was one of those times. Martha on the other hand, although as athletic, was quite the opposite. Being only five foot one, slim, and with short dark brown hair, she was pixie-like. She was also soft spoken, and often had trouble disciplining her children; especially as they got older.

Of course it’s my fault, Martha sarcastically thought. She took a deep breath and looked at her husband Greg for reinforcement.

When Martha finally got her children’s full attention, she informed them that she’d rented a cottage by a lake, and that it was in the form of a treehouse.

"As your mother was saying," Greg said in an authoritative tone, "We thought it would be nice to go camping together this weekend."

"A treehouse?" Jody said, looking unimpressed. She silenced her phone and discretely texted, likely letting Emma know the plan.

“Sorry. I already have plans with Emma,” Jody said without looking up from her phone.

Jonathan had a more positive reaction. He thought sleeping in a treehouse would be cool, and Martha was happy with the progress of the conversation. She was about to provide more details, but the shocked look on Jody's face stopped her. "What is it honey?" she asked.

Before Martha had the chance to respond or tell her daughter to put her phone down, Jonathan asked if they were all to sleep in the same tent. "No way!" Jody yelled, finally looking up. "We're actually not going to sleep in tents," Martha said. - 25 -

Jody looked up from her phone with tears in her eyes. "My life is over!" she shouted before running out the living room.

"What's wrong, sweetie?" she asked as she sat on the edge of the bed. Jody wiped her tears and remained silent. Martha didn’t press her to speak.

"Hormones," Jonathan said as Jody stomped up the stairs.

"Jake broke up with me," Jody finally said, then angrily specified it was done by text. "I can’t even. I mean, who even does that?" She started crying again.

"I heard that!" she shouted. A few seconds later a door slammed. Martha exchanged worried looks with Greg. “I’ll handle it,” she told him. She waited a few minutes before going up to Jody's bedroom. She heard her daughter sobbing and lightly knocked on her door. "Go away!" Jody shouted.

"Oh honey, I'm so sorry. You didn't deserve that." Martha sat next to her and put a comforting arm around her daughter’s shoulders. Jody allowed herself to be hugged. "Do you want to talk about it?" Martha asked.

Martha opened the door and let herself in. Jody sat on her perfectly made double bed with her knees to her chest and her arms wrapped around her legs. She held her favorite teddy bear. Although Jody was a fully developed young woman who liked to claim she was independent, to Martha she looked like a helpless girl.

"Not really." "Okay. I'm here for you if you change your mind."

They sat in silence. "You and dad never really liked Jake," Jody eventually said. "We didn't hate him. We just..." Martha didn't really know what to say. The truth was, she and Greg thought Jake a bad influence. They didn't like his attitude, nor the way he treated their daughter. Of course, telling her this after she introduced them to him almost a year ago had only made her rebel. "I'm not happy Jake broke your heart," Martha said. “And I’m definitely not impressed with the way he ended things with you. It just wasn’t meant to be. I know you'll find somebody much better, who will treat you with respect." - 26 -

Jody ranted about not wanting anyone else because she loved Jake. She told her mother that she could not possibly understand what she was going through. Of course not, Martha sarcastically thought. She knew it wasn't the time to tell her daughter about her own breakup experiences though, so kept her mouth shut.

"Uh-huh," Jody answered without a smile. "I love you," Martha said as she reached the doorway then waited for a response. "I love you too," Jody finally answered without much conviction. *

"I think this camping trip will do you good," Martha said to ease the tension. "It will help clear your head and get your mind off Jake."

Jody spent the rest of the afternoon in her bedroom talking to Emma on her phone. She only came out when it was time for dinner, after Jonathan came to her door to let her know it was ready.

After receiving confirmation that there would most likely be no cell phone reception or shared Wi-Fi at the camping site, Jody stated that she absolutely could not go. "What if Jake tries to get back with me while we're away?” she whined, “He'll think I'm ignoring him when I don't respond."

"I heard about Jake," Jonathan said as they walked down the stairs together. "I'm okay," she lied. "He's still a jerk. Want me to beat him up?"

"You can't stay here alone sulking," Martha told her. "And before you ask, no, Emma can't come here while we're gone either."

Jody laughed. "I'd love to see you try." She ruffled her brother's gelled short brown hair.

Jody tried to reason with her, even promising that her and Emma wouldn't have a party which hadn't crossed Martha's mind.

"Ohhhh! Does that make you salty? Your hair won't look so perfect while we're camping," Jody teased.

"Yo! Not the hair!" Jonathan yelled.

"And you might break a nail," Jonathan replied.

"You're coming with us, and that's final." Martha’s tone of voice surprised her, but it barely had any effect on Jody.


"Why do you want to ruin my life?" Jody asked. When she saw the hurt in her mother's eyes, she apologised.

When the children walked into the kitchen, Martha was happy to see Jody in a much better mood. "I made your favorite," she said to her smiling daughter in a sing-song tone to keep the positive vibes flowing.

"This is important to me," Martha said. "We haven't done anything as a family in a while. You and Jonathan are growing up so fast, and soon you'll move out and start families of your own."

"And I helped," Jonathan added. "Seriously? You cooked lasagna?” Jody said to him. “Is it safe to eat?"

"Okay," Jody said even though she didn’t seem thrilled about being forced to go camping.

"Ha, ha. Very funny," he responded.

"You'll see, it will be fun," she said and got up to leave.

Martha and Greg gave each other satisfied looks.

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As the family ate their meal Martha and Greg discussed possible activities for their upcoming trip. Neither Jody nor Jonathan let out a single complaint; not even when Martha mentioned that they wanted their getaway to be free of cell phones or gaming consoles. “You both need to exercise more than just your fat thumbs,” Greg told his children. After dinner, Martha handed Jody and Jonathan new hiking backpacks as well as individual packing lists. "Pack light. Bring essentials only. Everything has to fit inside your backpacks," she told them. "We'll be doing a short hike to get to the treehouse." Jody opened her mouth to contest, but her father gave her a warning look so she said nothing. "Makeup, face cream, perfume, and hair spray are not essential," Jonathan told Jody. "If that's what you were going to ask."

without them, but thought better of it. "Come on! It's time to go!" she shouted instead. Jonathan ran up from the basement holding two fishing rods and a small tackle box full of fish hooks and lures. "Can we bring these?" "That's an excellent idea," his dad answered. "I can't believe I didn't think of it myself." Meanwhile, Jody came down the stairs from the second floor while writing a text. She was still looking at her cell phone screen while slipping her bare feet into flip flops. Her toenails were painted light pink, just like her long fingernails. "Please tell me you're bringing a better pair of shoes," Martha said. "My running shoes are in my backpack," Jody replied and continued texting. “Put your phone away now,” Martha told her. Jody sent another message. “Just one second.”

She lightly punched his shoulder, and he hit her back when she told him that hair gel wasn’t essential either. “You know what is though?” Jody continued. “Deodorant and soap. Know what those are?" Jonathan gave his sister another little punch in response. "If you two end up fighting during our trip, your father and I will leave you in the woods," Martha said. "And we won't come back," Greg added.

Once everyone was in the car with their seatbelts on, Greg backed the vehicle out the driveway and started singing a song he had learned in Boy Scouts. Jody and Johnathon asked him to stop singing.

The following day, Greg loaded the trunk of his grey Volkswagen with their backpacks, two reusable shopping bags of food, plus a cooler containing frozen ice packs and items that needed to be kept cold. "Do we have everything?" he asked Martha when he came back into the house.

Martha laughed at the children’s misplaced embarrassment. After all, there was just the four of them in the car. She turned the radio on to replace her husband’s bad singing. An old country song played,

"Everything except the kids," she answered. Jody and Jonathan were taking their time getting ready. Martha almost yelled that they were going to leave - 28 -

and Jody asked her to change the station. Martha turned the dial until her daughter was satisfied. "Teenage Dream" was playing, and Jody softly sang along with Katie Perry while looking out the window. When "Let’s Talk About Sex" by the eighties hip hop group Salt-N-Pepa played next, Martha loudly sang along. "Mooooom!" Jody shouted.

"What? You're the only one allowed to sing?" Martha replied and laughed. "I think we should change to a rock station," Jonathan said. "Fine," Jody agreed, likely so that she wouldn’t have to listen to her mother singing about sex. Martha changed station, and nobody sang or complained about the music for the remainder of the one-hour car ride. As their cabin wouldn’t be ready until late afternoon, they decided to go zip-lining. When they arrived at a small pebbled parking lot at the site, they were greeted by a golden retriever. The dog ran towards them wagging his tail. He allowed himself to be petted, then ran off towards a small brick building. Jody changed footwear and put her long hair in a ponytail. When she was finally ready, the family headed over to the visitor’s center where the golden retriever greeted them again. Greg handed their reservation number to a woman at the front counter. With a smile, she handed him four liability waivers attached to clipboards as well as cheap-looking blue pens and told him where to go after filling out the forms.

and instructed the family to follow him into the next room. The back wall was covered with hooks holding yellow helmets and black body harnesses. They each handed their form over to a man in his early twenties wearing the site's green and black uniform as well as zip-lining gear. The man checked through the forms. “Okay. Everything is good. My name is Jeremy, and I’ll be your guide today. We’re still waiting for a few people, so if any of you need to use the restroom now’s the time.” He pointed them out, and both Martha and Jody headed towards the women’s door. Each family member as well as the eight other participants were given protective helmets and a body harnesses according to their sizes and weights. They were then told to put their feet through the bottom loops of their harness and pull it up like pants. Jeremy helped everyone in turn to tighten the harnesses. Martha noticed her blushing daughter checking out the blue-eyed and blond-haired guide and stifled a smile. She thought Jeremy too old for Jody, but wasn’t worried about them hooking up. When everyone was ready, they headed outside and walked towards a wooded area. The golden retriever followed for a short while.

Jody and Jonathan sat on a wooden bench and made snarky comments as they read the disclosure about the dangers of the activity. They then filled out the forms and answered the medical questions. Because they were minors, Greg signed the legal forms. Greg then returned the pens and clipboards - 29 -

“Hey boy!” Jeremy shouted when he noticed the dog.

Jonathan lifted his hand to volunteer, and Martha watched her son walk to the clear water and put his hands in the shallow stream. He stooped there with his hands about six inches apart, without moving. A large fish swam between Jonathan's hands, and he made his move. He grabbed the fish and threw it onto the ground.

“Is he yours?” Jody asked him. “Max here is our unofficial mascot. I often give him treats,” Jeremy added and gave Jody a friendly wink. “Is it just me, or is it really hot?” Jody said before chugging half her bottle of water.

Martha laughed.

The trout flapped around and Jeremy grabbed it. He then hit the fish's head on a large rock which made Jody and a couple of other women turn away in disgust.

"I have to pee," Jody whispered.

"Who wants to go next?" Jeremy asked.

"Seriously?" Martha asked. "Didn't you just go?"

Encouraged by Jeremy, Jody gave it a half-hearted try but the slimy fish always managed to get away and she gave up. Martha had the same problem, but eventually caught one. After killing Martha’s fish, Jeremy strung it with Jonathan's. Greg went next. He not only caught a fish, making it look easy, but killed it too. He then caught another trout to make up for Jody not catching any. The four fish would be their dinner.

“Duh! It’s like a hundred degrees,” Jonathan responded.

Jody laughed, and Martha knew she was joking. She was glad to see her daughter in a good mood, even if Jeremy was likely the main cause. She made a mental note to avoid doing anything that could embarrass Jody. She took her husband by the hand, and as they walked together she whispered that they both needed to be on their best behavior. She then motioned her head towards her daughter and then Jeremy. Greg nodded in understanding. When the group reached a dirt path and started hiking up an uneven hill into the woods, Martha could see the various steel zip-line cables above them.

The eight other participants got their chance to try catching fish as well. Most threw their caught trout back into the water, but some kept them to eat. Jeremy told everyone that the fish would be put on ice, and could be picked up at the visitor's center after the zip-lining. Right on cue, his colleague Dave showed up with a cooler. Dave took the fish and left.

About halfway to the top, Jeremy stopped beside a small stream full of fish. "For those who paid to do some hand fishing, this is the spot. There are plenty rainbow trout here." Without giving any instructions, he asked who wanted to go first.

The group headed up the wooded hill until they reached the top, and soon arrived at the start of the aerial runway. Jeremy gave clear instructions and answered questions, then did a quick demo on a short zip-line close to the ground. The sound of the trolley rolling down the thick steel cable sounded similar to a loud zipper. After his demo, everyone did a practice run on that zip-line which took a little while. Although it took less than two seconds to make the trip down the short line, Jeremy wanted - 30 -

Jonathan alternated from shouting “weeeeeeee” to “woohoo” as he zoomed down each of the seventeen lines while Jody screamed at the top of her lungs. Martha just smiled, enjoying the bird’s eyes view as wind hit her face during her adrenaline rush. It looked like Greg did the same.

everyone to try the bungee break in case they needed to use it later. Also, he had to secure each individual, in turn, to the single trolley then unhook them after their descent and bring the trolley back up the hill. Finally, everyone was able to go on the higher ziplines which consisted of eighteen long runs among the tall trees. It started at twenty-five metres above the ground, and gradually went down in height. Dave had returned and professionally zipped on ahead at around fifty-six kilometres an hour, using his gloved right hand to slow down as he approached the first landing deck even though there was an automatic breaking system. He remained on the wooden platform to supervise.

The family met up at the end of the circuit after the thrilling activity, then walked back to the visitor's center together to return their equipment and collect their fish. “That was fun, wasn’t it?” Jonathan said to Jody as they were getting back in the car. Jody not only responded positively but thanked her parents for taking them on the activity. “Screaming in the air released some of my frustration,” she admitted.

Jeremy attached Jonathan's harness to the bottom of the trolley by connecting the long heavy-duty nylon lanyard at the back with a metal carabiner. He made sure everything was secure before allowing Jonathan to go forward, reminding him to keep his legs stretched out in front of him. The excited teenager wrapped his bare hands on the trolley’s metallic handlebars and lifted his large feet.

“Glad to hear it,” Martha responded with a smile. A half-hour car ride later, they arrived at the cottage’s wooded site. Chickens, ducks, and geese roamed around the grounds. Although there was a welcome centre, there was no need to check in or collect keys. After getting out of the parked car, Martha grabbed a laminated map hanging from a string on a metal hook below a welcome sign. Only one of the other hooks had a map hanging from it. There were four other cottages in the site, each with a different style and name. From what Martha could see from the colourful map, the cottages

"Weeeeeeee," Johathan shouted as Martha watched him zoom down the first zipline. Jody’s turn came next, and she let out a long ear-piercing scream as soon as her feet left the high platform. Martha was next, followed by Greg and the others in the group. - 31 -

were adequately spaced apart and all included access to private beaches. All the guests would get their privacy.

“Now this is my kind of camping!” Jody announced. “More like glamping,” Jonathan corrected. “Whatever,” Jody said as they walked up the narrow wooden staircase. Upstairs, three double mattresses lay on the ground a few meters from the wooden railing, right below a low triangular ceiling with large windows. Each mattress had clean bedsheets, a thick navy blue comforter, and two covered pillows.

Everyone grabbed their backpacks from the car, and walked together along the main dirt path. When they reached a fork, they turned left without consulting the map; a wooden arrow nailed to a large tree trunk with treehouse on it, pointed them in the right direction. They continued on the path for a good five minutes until they reached another fork, and followed the directions from an arrow nailed to another tree trunk.

“We’re all sharing a room, or sleeping space?” Jody asked. “You can sleep on one of the futons or the balcony,” Greg suggested.

“I see it!” Jonathan shouted. Martha looked where Jonathan pointed. The treehouse looked better then she had imagined. First off, stairs led towards the wooden door so no climbing up any ladders or wobbly ropes was involved. Also, the wooden cabin was bigger than she’d expected. When she reached the balcony surrounding the two-story cabin, she got a great view of the woods and lake. She also saw a bridge leading to a small terrace containing an outdoor table, six matching chairs, and a covered propane barbeque. Inside the cabin was a fully equipped kitchenette with three large jugs filled with water on the counter, a long wooden table with benches, three double-seater futons arranged around a wood stove and fireplace, plus a staircase leading to a mezzanine.

“Or in one of the hammocks outside,” Martha added, and Jonathan jumped on that possibility. “I’m good,” Jody replied and asked where the bathroom was.

Martha feared Jody’s reaction if it turned out to be an outhouse, despite how the rest of the treehouse looked. As it was, Jody wasn’t too impressed with the indoor bathroom either because there was no real shower or toilet. Since the cabin didn’t have running water, the water from the jugs had to be heated if anyone wanted to wash, and the toilet was a dry one with a bucket inside a wooden structure. A sign on the wall informed them that they had to fill the bucket with a scoop of woodchips after each use to mask bad odors. - 32 -

“How about we go to the beach before dinner,” Martha said to change the unpleasant subject that had started around the bathroom doorway. Everyone agreed.

When he couldn’t find the spider Jody looked completely freaked out.

“I’ll get the food from the car and meet you at the beach,” Greg told Martha and kissed her on the lips.

“Are you sure?” Jody asked.

“Never mind, I see it now!” he shouted. “Okay. It’s dead.”

“Yes, I’m sure. I squished it. You want to see?” he asked and moved the rolled-up paper towards her.

“Gross!” Jonathan teased. While Greg was away, the others took turns to change into their bathing suits inside the windowless bathroom. As Martha gathered up her clothes, a black spider scuttled down from a thin web near her face. She screamed, unlocked the door, and ran out the bathroom in her black sporty one-piece bathing suit.

“Ewww! No!” she said and ran away. Greg returned with the bags of food and rolling cooler. “You haven’t left yet?” he said, sounding surprised. “We had a spider issue,” Jonathan told him. “I took care of it.”

“Did something attack you, Mom?” Jonathan asked.

After congratulating Jonathan for his heroic act, Greg took ice tea and sodas from the cooler while Martha handed out bags of potato chips. While Greg changed into his swimming trunks, Martha packed everything from the cooler into the small refrigerator, and left the rest of the food near the table. She picked up the thin instructions binder that had been left for them and skimmed through it. Finally, everyone headed out with towels in hand and made towards their private beach. There, six adjustable lawn chairs sat on the sand around a circular stone firepit. Chopped logs had been set inside the ash-layered pit ready to light and more lay in the sand under a clear protective cover. Although there was a firepit closer to the cabin, Greg thought it would be nice to make a campfire on the beach. When he suggested coming back in the evening, everyone nodded.

“There’s a spider in there,” she answered and laughed at herself. “What?” Jody let out. “It’s just a small one,” Martha reassured her.

“Says the one who came out screaming,” Jody said, and everyone laughed.

They settled into chairs to relax before having a refreshing swim in the dark blue water. Martha and Greg acted like kids, splashing each other. The sound of their laugher echoed. Jonathan took part in the fun, and they called to Jody to join them. She

Acting like a superhero, Johnathon walked into the bathroom and grabbed his weapon of choice; a piece of toilet paper. “Girls, girls. Have no fear. I’ll go kill your monster. Where is it?” - 33 -

sucking insect landed on her, Martha instinctively swatted it.

shook her head no, happy where she was. She always complained about the seaweeds when her bare feet or legs touched the slimy aquatic plants. She preferred to stay seated on her chair, sunbathing in her colourful striped bikini.

The family made smores and roasted marshmallows, all the while having pleasant conversations and telling cheesy jokes. They played a game where they were not allowed to laugh at any of the jokes, but that didn’t last. Nobody could stay serious. When they calmed down from an explosion of hysterical laughter, an owl hooted which got them going again. They all looked to see if they could spot the night bird. Instead, they saw a few bats flying around the long branches of a tree. Jody let out a shriek, but once she realised they weren’t going to come anywhere near her she was okay.

Soon it was time to return to get changed and prepare dinner. Greg asked Jonathan to help gut the fish before cooking them on the barbeque. Martha asked Jody to help clean and cut vegetables to make a garden salad as a side dish. They ate outside on the high terrace. To prevent insects bothering them, Martha lit a couple of yellow citronella candles which she placed on the plastic table. After their meal, Martha and Jody headed indoors to do the dishes. They had to heat some water. Meanwhile, Greg and Jonathan went into the woods to collect kindling for the campfire and make roasting sticks for their marshmallows. They then all played card games which the family hadn’t done together in years. Martha made hot chocolates and they munched on chips. Greg lit a fire in the old stove-fireplace. The logs burned for two hours, providing warmth as well as a soothing crackling sound. As the sun was about to set, the family headed to the beach wearing warm sweaters, jackets and mosquito repellent. They brought hot chocolate along with the three simple ingredients to make smores; grahams crackers, milk chocolate, and large marshmallows.

Greg fed the fire another log when it started dying. He started telling a spooky ghost story that he heard as a child, then the others took turns telling their own scary tales. While Jonathan was making something up about a lake monster, a loud splash occurred. It startled everyone and they laughed at their jumpiness. When the splash happened again they decided to investigate. With dimly lit flashlights in hand, they left the warmth of the campfire and moved close to the water. They all curiously looked at the surface of the dark lake, barely able to see anything.

Greg built a campfire, and Martha watched the grey smoke rise. She loved the intoxicating smell it created. Aside from looking at the hypnotic dancing fire, she watched the bright orange sun set behind the dark trees across the sparkling lake. The family barely spoke, paying more attention to the distant sounds of the loons. Soon, the sky faded from various shades of orange to black. Shining stars could then be seen along with a white half crescent moon. Crickets could be heard along with the occasional buzzing of a mosquito. Whenever a pesky blood - 34 -

about, they returned to the campfire. The loud splashing, which turned out to be the beaver’s flat tail slapping the water, continued throughout the evening. When the fire died, the family headed back to the cabin to get ready for bed. Fairy lights strung around the balcony and terrace were lit up. They took turns using the bathroom to brush their teeth and change into comfortable pyjamas. While Martha lay on her chosen mattress, she could see the stars through the large windows above her. She thought it was nice to sleep under the stars without getting bitten by mosquitos. Nobody slept for a while since one of them would end up saying something that would start up a conversation or wave of laughter. The chatter was eventually replaced by silence as Jonathan drifted off. Shortly after Greg fell asleep, he started snoring like a bear.

Another loud splash was heard. “Over there!” Jonathan said. “I see something!” “I can see a dark figure moving in the water. It’s your lake monster,” Martha told Jonathan, and he gave out a nervous laugh. “Seriously, what is that?” Jody asked. “I can see it too.” They walked to the end of the long wooden dock. “Careful,” Greg warned, “The monster might attack.”

* Jody put her extra pillow around her head and ears to try muffling the irritating sound, but it didn’t work. She took her comforter and pillow downstairs to sleep on one of the futons. She could still hear Dad snoring, but at least it wasn’t right in her ears. The evening’s spooky stories started playing with her head, and she imagined a lunatic walking into the unlocked cabin. She tossed and turned, unable to push the thought away. Finally, she got

Another loud splash made them jump, and Jonathan pointed the beam of his flashlight towards the sound. “I caught a glimpse of a round whiskered face with two buck teeth. I think it’s a beaver.” When Greg confirmed that the lake monster was indeed a beaver, and there was nothing to worry - 35 -

up and placed the heavy water jugs in front of the door. It gave her a sense of security. When she turned around, a dark figure stood in front of her and she screamed. The figure screamed back, and she realised it was Jonathan. “Jeez! Don’t scare me like that!” Jody said in a loud whisper. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to,” Jonathan quietly replied and laughed. “I came to see what you were up to.”

Greg proposed that they go canoeing. He’d seen an overturned one near the dock. Six orange life jackets hung in the open kitchen of the cabin and they all grabbed one. They headed to the lake and turned the heavy green canoe around. Two wooden paddles were hidden underneath. Martha took one, and Greg took the other. Once the boat was partially in the water, Jody and Jonathan climbed aboard and sat on benches in the center. Martha sat in the front, and Greg pushed the canoe further into the water before getting in the back seat so he could steer. He used his paddle to push onto the ground to make the canoe move forward, and Martha started paddling. With combined effort, they managed to get far enough from the shore. They headed North to move against the current, and soon saw a beaver den close to the right side of the shore.

When Jody said she couldn’t sleep, Jonathan said that he couldn’t either and walked towards the futons. “I don’t understand how mom can sleep through that,” he added pointing upstairs. “I wear earplugs,” Martha said. It made both kids scream and she laughed. “I thought I heard screaming and it woke me.” I wasn’t expecting to see you both down here, although I can understand why neither of you can sleep. I brought some extra earplugs if you want them.” Both children enthusiastically said yes, and everyone was finally able to get a good night’s sleep.


“I guess that’s where the lake monster lives,” Glen joked.

The next day, Martha made a light breakfast of croissants, fruits, and orange juice. As the family ate outdoors on the terrace, a wild turkey walked around on the uneven ground below. A few more came into view, but they all disappeared into the woods shortly after.

During a ‘Zen’ moment, Martha realised that since they’d arrived at the cottage, Jody hadn’t told her dad to stop saying bad jokes nor had she told him he wasn’t funny. Her daughter seemed more relaxed and carefree, so did Jonathan. It was nice seeing them having a good time without it involving a cell phone or video game. A passing motorboat broke the tranquility, not only because of the loud engine, but because of the waves it created as it zoomed by. She helped Greg stabilize the wobbling canoe while reassuring Jody that they weren’t going to tip over.

“That was weird,” Jody said.

“And you would know cause you’re the expert on weirdness,” Jonathan replied. “It runs in the family,” she responded.

- 36 -

themselves on the beach lawn chairs. “Feel like going on a little hike?” Martha asked her daughter. “Sure,” Jody responded with a pleasant smile. When they returned to the cabin to get some granola bars and water bottles as well as spray some mosquito repellant, Martha scanned the laminated site map. She chose a hiking trail, and off they went. They hiked along an easy path in the woods for about forty-five minutes, during which they saw squirrels, chipmunks, and various types of birds. They also spotted a porcupine, a red fox, and a timid looking doe.

The waves faded and, as Martha continued rowing, she took in the scenery around her. Different types of leafy trees and conifers on each side of the water created a blanket of various shades of green on the small brown hills. She imagined that the woods looked even nicer during the fall season, when the leaves changed colours. When a small island came into view they rowed towards it. There wasn’t much to see; just a few trees, plants, wildflowers, and tall grass. Soon, they reached an area with cattails and a heron standing on one thin leg among the long plants. The big grey bird walked slowly, then dove its head in the water. It flew away with a fish sticking out of its long pointy beak. After an hour of paddling Martha’s arm muscles hurt. “Do you want to take over?” she asked her daughter. Jody said she could try, but almost tipped over the canoe while attempting to trade places so they aborted that plan. Instead, Martha and Greg turned the canoe around and headed South towards the cabin. They could mostly let the canoe float onwards with the current.

“Look. A murder,” Martha calmly said.

“What?” Jody exclaimed in a panic. “A murder,” Martha repeated and pointed towards the top of a tree while trying not to laugh. Jody looked up. “I see seven crows cawing creepily.” She looked at her mother like she’d gone crazy.

Once they reached the shore, Jonathan asked his dad to go fishing. Martha gave her daughter a quick paddling lesson at the beach while the boys headed to the car to get their fishing gear. Jody had trouble with her paddle at first, but soon got the hang of it. She and her mom stayed close to the shore and returned when Greg and Jonathan arrived with their fishing rods in hand. As Greg and Jonathan went back out on the lake, Martha and Jody plonked

“A murder is what you call a group of crows.”

Jeez,” Jody replied. “You didn’t have to freak me out.” As they resumed their walk, Jody tried to get even by screaming in fear over the false sighting of a bear. Martha didn’t even twitch, instantly calling her daughter’s bluff. When Jody told her she saw a - 37 -

skunk, Martha didn’t believe her either.

friend, and that they didn’t have to share their deepest secrets. “It would just be nice to go out for a meal, watch a chick flick, paint our nails, do facial masks, or even go to the spa once in a while.”

“I’m totally serious,” Jody warned. “And I doubt you packed any tomato juice, so don’t do anything to scare it. I don’t want to get sprayed.”

“Sure,” Jody said. She hesitated then added, “Sorry I’ve been such a pain in the butt lately.”

A furry black and white animal came out the bushes and slowly crossed the path ahead of them. “I told you!” Jody yelled, backing away. They remained in place until it was safe to continue without risking getting sprayed by the skunk, Martha felt a bit silly. There were several types of wild mushrooms near the winding path and she asked her daughter if they should pick some to go with their supper. Jody, who despised mushrooms said no. She then surprised Martha with a question of her own. “How did you and dad manage to stay happy together for twenty years?” It led to a heartfelt conversation about love and relationships. “I want my next relationship to be like yours and dad’s,” her daughter said.

That made Martha’s day, and she hoped to get a similar response from Jonathan when she approached him with an equivalent proposal. She had a feeling she would have to learn how to play video games in order to bond with her son, but if that’s what it took then so be it. Back at the cabin, Jody helped make enough cold cut sandwiches for everyone and they brought them down to the beach. They didn’t wait for Greg and Jonathan before eating their lunch.

Greg and Jonathan found them on their lawn chairs about an hour later. Jody opened her eyes. “Hey,” she sleepily said, “Did you guys catch anything?” Jonathan proudly showed her two fish. “Cool,” Jody told him. Martha also opened her eyes. “I’m sorry. Did I fall asleep?”

Martha had enjoyed her bonding moment with her daughter. “We should do this more often.” “What? Hike?” Jody asked. “No,” Martha replied. “Hang out, just the two of us.” She emphasised that she wasn’t trying to be her best - 38 -

“How dare you?” Jody said. “Actually, I fell asleep too,” she added laughing.

“Must be all this fresh air and exercise.” Martha yawned. “We made sandwiches for you,” she told her husband and son. The sandwiches were gone though. Small prints that looked like hand and feet with claws could be seen in the wet sand, and it was concluded that a sneaky racoon had stolen the sandwiches. The family headed to the cabin to make something else. Greg and Jonathan cooked fish on the barbeque while Martha and Jody took another nap; this time on individual hammocks hanging from thick tree trunks. Later that afternoon, the family played a few of the board games they found in the cabin, then cooked steaks and potatoes on the barbeque for dinner. In the evening, they headed back to the beach for another lakeside campfire. People from a nearby cottage had released dozens of lit lanterns into the sky, presumably to celebrate a special occasion.

Martha felt her daughter was referring to her recent breakup with Jake. Not wanting to bring it up she just smiled. Their lake monster, as they now called the beaver, came back with company so the loud splashing sounds were heard more frequently that evening. Everyone slept well that night, even though Greg again snored loudly.

They had to leave the cabin before eleven o’clock the next day, so they ate breakfast, packed up whatever belonging they had left out, did a quick cleanup, and headed to the car. Greg and Martha made a second trip to get the cooler and leftover food plus double check that nothing had been forgotten. When they returned to civilization, Martha learned that Jody had received several desperate texts from Jake.

“I read somewhere that they’re a symbol of good luck as well as worries and problems floating away,” Martha informed her family.

"I'm soooooo over you," Jody said to the phone then turned to her mom. "You were right. Camping was exactly what I needed to clear my head."

“Sounds nice,” Jody said. “I think I already feel my problems going away. I’m definitely not worried anymore.”

Although the point of the trip had been to spend quality time together as a family, Martha was happy to learn it had served a second purpose.

Chantal Bellehumeur is a Canadian author born in 1981. She has several published novels of various genres as well as numerous short stories, poems and articles featured in compilation books, magazine, plus a local newspaper. For a complete list of publications, including free reads, visit the following website:

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

Coloring Book FREE PDF download available via website

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

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June Book Releases by Mom’s Favorite Authors

Beyond the Hills by Maressa Mortimer Macia Durus, daughter of the well known Brutus Durus AMP, works hard to achieve a life of honour and prestige in her beloved Elabi. When a so-called “friend” challenges her priorities, Macia’s confusion threatens her carefully constructed plans. And her decision to investigate a forbidden book could have serious consequences for Macia as well as her family, turning their lives upside down.

- 42 -

Dragon Village Firebird by Ronesa Aveela Imagine waking up to the rumble of falling water, the scent of spring, enveloping you with radiance and caressing your soul with the thrills of an intoxicating melody.

You are next to a small pond where the frogs are lying on the green water lilies. Leaves sway from the game of playful fish.

The beast shakes his head furiously and turns his one bloodthirsty eye toward you menacingly. A screech adds to the clamor as a house on chicken legs approaches. On its chimney perches a purple winged cat. Not far behind, swimming through the air with a broom and a mortar, the famous Baba Yaga orders them about with oath after oath.

Above you rises the crown of a mighty tree, and on top of it shines like a sun the Firebird. Its colors are like Zuna, the rainbow, arching like a dome over your head. You are still sleepy and haven’t yet woken. From the tree emerges the image of the bird’s patroness, drifting like a morning mist with a soft smile on her marble face, holding a crystal ball.

You try to hide behind the trunk of the tree, encouraged by the smile of the Firebird’s patroness, but something grabs you by the legs. Sharp nails dig into your skin. A bloated, green man with bulging, watery eyes tries to pull you under the water. A Vodnki, a water spirit. You manage to escape. You run, and run, and run. When you think you’ve succeeded, you fall into a dark forest of withered trees, whose bony arms stretch out to grab you.

At the same time, a shadow covers the sky. Above you flies a herd of six-winged deer with glittering purple balls between their horns. Seated on them are women like Amazons, brandishing whips of snakes. The warriors descend with a thud onto the green grass. These beautiful and dangerous Samodivi are dressed in white robes, their hair floods their bodies like wild foam.

Amber lights illuminate the trees. Are they fireflies? No, they’re glass spheres, hundreds of spheres filled with souls.

Something disturbs the idyllic moment. The clanging of bells. A group of masked men dance madly. The belt of bells around their waists creating a din that chases away a Karakonzhul, a half-man halfhorse creature.

You close your eyes hoping to wake up from this dream, nightmare. Silence ... - 43 -

Suddenly, hot air breathes onto your face. You open your eyes and scream. A gigantic dragon's eye pierces your soul.

Bone Dragon — Legends of the Once and Future King by Susan Faw

You close the book’s cover. For this was not a nightmare, but an adventure. You snuggle into your warm bed. Everything around is quiet. The monsters remain hidden between the pages … until you let them loose again the next evening.

A vengeful sorceress with a bone to pick. A forbidden love that could cost the throne. And a magical destiny impossible to avoid. Arthur Pendragon, heir apparent to the throne of Camelot, approaches his sixteenth birthday with dread. The chains of his heritage, chafe. He wishes nothing more than to be a regular youth, free to seek and pursue the pleasures of young love.

This is the world of Dragon Village – Zmeykovo. Our books will take you to a world full of known and unknown creatures from Bulgarian and Slavic mythology, you will see Theo's friends and experience their joys and sorrows.

But the object of his affection is a love forbidden by the church, the true power behind the throne of Camelot. With the power to set up future kings and tear them down, Arthur knows that to pursue a love interest with a man will cost him the throne, and possibly his life.

Laughter, surprises, fear, nightmares ... a recipe for a wonderful adventure.

When a mysterious object of magic is stolen from a secure vault in the depths of the armoury, Arthur is tasked with hunting down the thief and stopping the horror of it being unleashed on Camelot. A fleshless dragon, constructed entirely of bone, attacks an outlying village and Arthur is sent by his father, King Uther, to investigate the occurrence. With the help of a fledgling wizard - a youth no older than himself - and a hand-picked group of knights which includes his love interest, Arthur races against time to stop the sorceress who is determined to see Camelot burn. Dive into this Camelot retelling, chock full of political intrigue, magic and wonder! Download your copy today! **FOR FANS OF MERLIN, BERNARD CORNWELL OR T.H. WHITE**

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Following one clue after another, they confront the man who can lead them to the missing girl—a mistake they may not live to regret. The Fool: New Beginnings is the first novel in the Tales from the Unmasqued World urban fantasy series. If you enjoy the paranormal, the magickal, and the mystical, then you’ll love Val Tobin’s thrilling world. Purchase Link:

The Fool — New Beginnings: Tales From The Unmasqued World by Val Tobin She believes vampires are monsters. So why is she risking her life to help one? After a divorce and much soul-searching, Kelsey Davis opens a bookstore café at the crossroads where several hypernatural communities converge. She’s ready to find herself and prepared to face her fear of those who aren’t human by living and working in the heart of their communities. But she’s not prepared for the tall, snarky vampire who bursts through her door and demands to talk to her son.

Paige Carter: Deputy Sheriff Season 5 — Crime Blog by Melanie P. Smith Dax and Paige work to repair what has been damaged and adjust to life as a married couple. The training center is thriving, relationships are growing and evolving, and the group continues to solve local crime.

When Kelsey learns the vampire’s daughter is missing, and her own son isn’t where he’s supposed to be, she frantically gets involved in the search. - 45 -

Lexie Conyngham: Mystery Writer Interviewed by Wendy H. Jones I know you write three different series but let’s start with Hippolyta; where did you get the idea for this series?

Thank you, Lexie, for agreeing to be interviewed. I have recently discovered your Hippolyta Napier series and I love both the character and the books. So, I just knew I had to chat to you. I am really looking forward to getting to know you and your books.

I wanted to start a second series because at the rate I was writing my first series, my hero would be ancient in very few years. I was intrigued at the idea of writing about Deeside, not far from where I live, before Queen Victoria made it the holiday destination it is now: it’s a beautiful area but there’s little written about it before the Queen turned up and brought so many fashionable people with her. I wasn’t sure quite when to start the series, but around that time Ballater, the village in which the series is mostly set, suffered yet another serious flood. I remembered accounts of the Muckle Spate, a huge flood that affected the area in 1829, and decided to start there. The proceeds from the first two books went, for several years, to the Ballater Flood Fund.

First things first, tell us a bit about yourself? I’m a historian and Latin tutor living in Northeast Scotland. I think I’ve been writing since I realised you could, and writing crime fiction since I picked up my first Agatha Christie aged about ten! But I’ve been publishing historical crime fiction since 2011, and loving doing it interleaved with my other work.

What does a writing day look like for you? Well, in ‘normal’ times all other humans leave the house about eight in the morning and from then to half-past nine is my very best writing time. If that goes well, I can just carry on after that doing as much as is needed – I usually aim for 2,000 words a day but on one memorable peak I hit 12,000! If that first hour and half does not go well, though, there isn’t a hope of getting into it that day. I have to spend my time on research, or paid work, or knitting, or gardening, or cooking, or (perish the thought) housework. Whatever I’m writing is constantly in the back of my mind, so actually I might well be writing in my head, plot-wrangling or character-developing, even when I’m doing something else. If I have a knot in the plot, my best resource is to go and sit on a bus to somewhere or other, and let it work itself out.

Hippolyta is a fabulous character and I’m curious as to how you went about building her character. Good question! Hm … Well, I wanted a female lead as my other series had a male lead. I’ve always been interested in medical history and the mid-19th century is a good time for medical developments, and though I haven’t done much with that side of things yet it made it appealing to make her a doctor’s wife, young and new to the town. I’m a bit of a restrained character myself, never taking a mile where I can take an inch, and so it was lovely to - 46 -

make Hippolyta confident enough to follow up on her nosiness and dare to do a few things I wouldn’t do myself! The same applies to her hospitality to both humans and animals – she has much more nerve than I do just to say ‘All right, come on in and we’ll find you a bed/job/space under the kitchen table’. I’m also interested in how the Victorian period tightened up on ‘respectable’ behaviour, in both men and women – Hippolyta, brought up in the slightly more relaxed late Georgian period, is going to experience restrictions as she goes on – she’s already surprised at the anxiety of young women of her acquaintance about what they’re allowed to do. It mirrors, in some ways, our own times – ideas about ‘acceptable’ speech and behaviour are changing now, too.

very intelligent! I think perhaps that seeing the animals in the books as characters in themselves helps – something I do when there are animals in my household, too. Though I’ve been told off in a review for not giving one dog a name! Like every other character, it’s how the animals interact with those around them that makes them what they are.

Tell us about your Murray of Letho books. This was the first series. Murray had existed in various incarnations, as had his old friend Blair, as I fiddled about with proto-books. My main problem was that I thought I wanted to write police procedurals but I was slow at keeping up with the technology and changes in police practice and the law. Then I took a job in Edinburgh’s New Town and I was surrounded every day by glorious Georgian architecture, and it dawned on me that I could probably cope with technological advances if they had happened two centuries before! I love Murray’s household, and his position in society has allowed me to travel a bit with him – to Norway, to Italy and to India, as well as Fife and Edinburgh where he mostly lives.

You have a lot of animals in your books, and they are fabulous characters in themselves. How do you go about making animal characters, not only likeable, but fun? I’ve always lived with animals, mostly cats, and I’ll always go out of my way to talk to animals and birds. I find crows fascinating – they seem to be - 47 -

You also write Viking mysteries. Now, I’m fascinated, where on earth did you get an idea for Viking Mysteries?

Peter Wimsey and traditional crime fiction. I think I’d learn a lot!

Ah, that was a mixture of pride and stupidity! My mother and I met an old neighbour and, as mothers do, she said ‘She writes books, you know!’. The neighbour asked what kind, and I said ‘Historical crime fiction’. ‘Oh!’ he said, ‘do you do anything Viking? I love Vikings!’ ‘Oh, no,’ I said, with a keen sense of Georgian superiority. How could you possibly write a Viking murder mystery? But the thought niggled, and after a visit to York’s Jorvik Viking Centre I had a long hard think about it, and decided that though York and Norway are both places I love to visit I wanted to set the series in Orkney, a favourite place of mine. Frantic research followed – I had no idea how much knowledge I’d built up about the Georgian period until I tried to match it with Viking knowledge in a limited time. But I really enjoy writing the series – Sigrid is a strong woman, Ketil is intriguing as a hero, and it’s renewed my old love of the islands. And the first book is dedicated to that old neighbour!

If you could spend time with any literary character, who would you choose and why? I struggled with this one, because many of the literary characters that are great to read about might be a nightmare to spend time with! But I think on this occasion I might go for Miss Marple. Listening to her acute observations would be intriguing, never mind spending time in her garden and probably eating very good scones in a picturesque village … it sounds like the best kind of holiday.

My very last question, where can readers find out more about you and your books? My website is, and I’m on GoodReads, Facebook and Pinterest – and occasionally on Instagram and Twitter. I also blog at – mostly reviews of books I’ve read. And all the books are on Amazon. Thank you so much for inviting me!

If you could spend time with any author who is now dead, who would you choose and why?

It was absolutely my pleasure, Lexie, and I know Mom’s Favorite Reads readers will feel the same. Thank you for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to join me and give us an insight into your world.

Dorothy L. Sayers would be high on the list, though I might not be intelligent enough for her – we could talk about cats, and the Anglican church, and Lord

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: - 48 -

Macho! Submitted by Poppy Flynn Written by Jester Age 17

Beneath the armour plating, Beneath the cool façade, Within the stone exterior, Behind the careful guard,

Beyond the streak of violence, Beyond feigned nerves of steel. Belying tarnished windows Are feelings that are real. Not far behind the tainted walls

A woven web of half truths

Lie gentleness and care

Where identity’s concealed.

Once found his love and understanding’s

A mask of strangest odyssey

Really not so rare.

Too rough to be revealed.

But love’s relinquished,

But you’ll see chinks within the armour

Out of bounds,

Where love and light shine through

For fear of being tied.

To give away the stormy, macho male

A wall he builds around himself

As human too.

Where deepest feelings hide.

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Mom’s Favorite Reads Author Hannah Howe Hannah is the bestselling author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series. Sam’s Song, book one in the series, has reached number one on the private detective chart on nine separate occasions, plus the number one position in Australia. Furthermore, the Sam Smith Mystery Series has graced the top twenties in ten other countries. Hannah’s Ann’s War Mystery Series has also reached the number one position on three charts – mysteries, historical and literature, along with the number one position in Australia. The Ann's War Mystery Series is a series of five novellas set in 1944-5. Each story contains approximately 15,000 words and a complete mystery. The stories are: BETRAYAL, INVASION, BLACKMAIL, ESCAPE and VICTORY. The stories are set four months apart and will be published four months apart, so you can read them in 'real time', if you wish. However, you may prefer to read the books 'as one' after the publication of VICTORY. Please make your choice based on your reading preference. Kindly note that each mystery is resolved within one story, and that Ann's story arc will be resolved over the five books.

From Book 1: Eve’s War is a series of twelve novellas. Each book contains approximately 20,000 words and a complete story. Kindly note that the price throughout the series will be set at the minimum level and that Eve’s story arc will be concluded at the end of the series. - 50 -

Sam’s Song. This is the story of a week that changed my life forever. Love Hurts. For Derwena de Caro, songstress, female icon, teenage dream, success brought drugs, alcohol and a philandering boyfriend. It also brought wealth, fame and a stalker, or so she claimed. And that’s where I came in, to investigate the identity of the stalker, little realising that the trail would lead to murder and a scandal that would make the newspaper headlines for months on end.

Love and Bullets is the story of a dramatic week in my life, a week of soulsearching, selfdiscovery and redemption.

Secrets and Lies – a story of love, of deceit, of the many faces we all possess – the public face, the private face and the deeply personal.

The Big Chill I was alive. But with a snowstorm gripping the city and with an unknown assassin closing in, I faced the most dangerous moment of my life and the very real prospect of feeling the big chill. Family Honour, the story of a villain and his family, the story of a moral dilemma. Should I kill in the name of justice, or should I allow a villain to walk free? In answering that question I discovered a lot about myself and the person I longed to be.

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Ripper – the story of a week in my life that reshaped the past, disturbed the present and brought the promise of an uncertain future.

The Hermit of Hisarya – a story of corruption, of murder, of a woman and her seventy-year-old dream, offering proof that the past, the present and the future are all intrinsically entwined.

Sins of the Father, ten days that defined my relationship with my dad.

Organise Us? In Dreams! by Christine Larsen Everyone has to start somewhere, whether it's early education to begin the learning curve that never ends; apprenticeships to learn careers; dating and falling in and out of love — OR even milking cows! We thought we'd learned farming in the wheat/ sheep belt of Western Australia. But then we came home to South Australia and became Dairy Farmers. This was just part of the first 'hands-on' day! “Organisation’s the secret,” I said firmly. “Preparation, organisation, imagination… and any other ‘tion’ you can think of!” And I laughed; as though my heart weren’t thudding so hard I thought it would outdo the solid pulsation of the milking machine. It was on a test run before we went down the paddock to get our girls in for our ‘maiden milking’.

Our ancient dairy had been the first herring-bone style in our area, a breakthrough in its day. At this point in time, however, it had ‘whiskers on it’… as we would discover. The herring-bone style dairy meant cows stood alongside each other in a staggered, zigzag fashion - six girls each side of a waistdeep concrete pit where Kanute and I would milk them with swing-across sets of milking cups. A flat steel bar behind their bottoms and a thick concrete ledge behind their back feet was designed to keep them from joining us.

True to my deepest philosophy, I had imagined the worst that could happen, worked out how we’d handle it and then tucked it away to the back of my mind. Problem solved (or at least faced and worked through). Kanute once believed this to be a type of pessimism, but soon learned I’m actually a born optimist who prefers to prevent disasters by having a pre-planned course of action. An over-thinker maybe, but an optimist nonetheless.

A long feed trough with a walk-space in front enabled hand-bucketing of the cows’ crushed grain rations. In the interest of speed and ease of handling, I carefully lined up the spot where I imagined each cow’s head would be, and evenly spaced out six bucketfuls of their beloved dairy pellets into each trough on both sides. “Perfect”, I announced confidently. “I’m ready.” - 52 -

Perfect indeed! Except the first cow entering the dairy stopped at the first pile of feed in the trough and started eating. Immediately, everyone else started piling up behind her, pushing and shoving like a mob scene at the opening of a department store sale.

Bravado - along with pride - comes before a fall. We had no option but to let them all back out again into the dirt yard as we cleaned down the now putrid dairy AND removed the offending feed from the troughs. A new learning curve! You feed them after they have walked in and shuffled and arranged themselves… and ‘pooped’ again. It took us almost four hours from go to whoa to milk 26 cows. We proudly cut that back to 2-1/2 hours at the p.m. milking. Unimaginable that our ‘regular’ speed some years later would be 80 in two hours.

Soon there were cows in the engine room and the milk room around the huge (expensive) stainless steel refrigerated milk vat. A couple went down the steps into our pit; two were wedged tight between the tail rail and the trough; and another tried to jump over the feed trough, succeeding in straddling it instead, totally unable to make her way forward or back.

Practice makes perfect, they say… and in this case THEY were right.

Christine is an Australian in the middle of her seventh decade - a writer, farmer, wife, mother, grandmother - now on their retirement farm, and returning from an absence to reignite her works. Christine’s three main genres are - Memoirs - of growing up in the 1950's in Australia, of farming, and of treasured collections. Children's Stories - mostly for middle-school age readers, but also excellent read aloud stories by parents, siblings, grandparents, babysitters, teachers.Short stories + Flash-fiction (and non-fiction) Collections - a range of almost every genre, encompassing every emotion from humour to deepest sadness. - 53 -

The Door by Maressa Mortimer Amethyst giggles at her nephew, his dark blond curls flapping in the breeze. “Auntie Thyst, this way,” he shrills, and she obliges. He laughs wildly when she pretends to hide from him behind the rock, ignoring her sister’s eye-rolling. He shrieks with glee when he spots the large wooden door, set in a grassy area. It’s a door to nowhere, playing on people’s imagination. Simon grabs her hand and drags her to the door. Amethyst pretends to be a struggling prisoner. “In go, Auntie Thyst, in door,” he shouts, his face a mix of purpose, thrill and satisfaction.

door shut, laughing like an evil jailor. Amethyst gasps, she suddenly wants the door left open. Too late. The wooden door slams shut with a startlingly loud bang, and the entire door vanishes at the same time. Amethyst cries out, her voice following the door into nothingness.

“No, no,” protests, Amethyst, trying to sound worried through her giggles, her heart filled with all the right kinds of feelings towards the sweet little boy. The stern jailor won’t be persuaded though, and with a final push, he sends her through the freestanding doorway.

All that she can see is a green undulating field, stretching into the distance. Wildly, she spins round to where the door was, only to come full circle at the discreet little cough behind her back. A man stands just behind her, his tophat out of place, his extremely white face reminding her of street artists in London. There is nothing funny about this man though, and Amethyst can hear the tiny whimper escaping her constricted throat. The man merely raises a black, pencilled eyebrow, and in a voice that reminds her of blowing on a blade of grass, he says, “Welcome. I think. Not many people would simply barge through somebody’s door with that level of noise, but there...” He stares at her, his jet black eyes expressionless, making her shiver, and her throat uses that moment of weakness to allow another little whimper to escape. Both eyebrows are raised this time.

Amethyst stumbles through the doorway, narrowly missing the top lintel, trying to decide which way she’ll make her escape. The grassy area on the other side of the door is small, and bordered by rocks, with tiny trails on either side back to the main path. These gardens are pretty and imaginative, she thinks, at the same time moaning and protesting in her role of condemned prisoner. Simon’s warm chubby hands give her a last push and then she stands on the small grassy patch. But it’s no longer small. Amethyst gives a snorty sound between a gasp and a laugh, knowing that her mind is playing tricks. She turns round to the door, suddenly uncomfortable. She is just in time to see a cherubic but blurry face grin at her fiendishly, tiny hands pushing the

“I...I didn’t realise,” Amethyst begins, wanting to apologise for...for whatever it is she has done to upset this person, then reminds herself that she was simply playing with her nephew, in a public - 54 -

garden, so there is nothing to apologise for. So she stops and manages to look straight back at the man.

perfectly straight. His hat sits calmly on top of his head, and his rather long, floppy hair doesn’t move at all.

He merely shrugs, “Stranger privilege, of course,” his voice colder than his eyes. She glances over her shoulder, hoping the door has reappeared. Disappointed, she looks back at the man, determined to stand up to him.

This time he raises both eyebrows and purses his mouth. Amethyst swallows the second half of the high pitched hysterical whimper down, even though her entire being feels like shrieking out loud.

“As far as I know, these are public gardens. I simply went through the door, and that was that. So this isn’t just your own private space.” She hadn’t meant to sound like a girl in the playground, but Amethyst hopes that kind of voice still works on adults. It doesn’t. “Colonialism is a thing of the past,” the sharp, reedy voice tells her, and his eyes seem no longer expressionless. Amethyst suppresses the shudder that wanders all over her spine. “You can no longer walk into somebody’s house, claiming it for the Crown,” he adds, his dark red lips thinning out to a very fine line. Amethyst swallows and looks around the large field, the horizon a pale green shimmering in the distance. “Not much of a house,” she sneers, brushing escaping bits of hair from her face, the seaside breeze reaching the garden easily. She opens her mouth to carry on along the same line, then stops. Her dress might be billowing in the wind like the sail on a Viking longboat, but the man’s long coattails hang

“Well, just show me the door, and I’ll gladly be off,” she gasps. The man frowns, the pencilled lines above his eyes meeting at the top of his thin long nose. “You cannot abuse your Stranger privilege to escape an awkward situation,” he intones. “You have abused your perceived power, and upon finding it lacking, you cannot simply withdraw.” Amethyst can feel her temper warming up and she ignores the shaking of her freezing hands. “I have no idea what you are talking about, or even who you are. I don’t care either,” she adds quickly, in case he gives her his life history. She simply wants to get out. Or back into the public gardens. The man grips his walking stick a bit tighter, casually swinging it, his reptile-like eyes never leaving her face. Amethyst looks at the walking stick, its small movement unnerving her. What is the knob made of? Is that a skull? Or a head of some kind? An eyeball? She steps back a little and... Finish the story for me! What happens next? Mail it to me at, and I will use it on my website under Stories! Surprise me!

Maressa Mortimer is Dutch but lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, England with her husband and four (adopted) children. Her debut novel, Sapphire Beach, was published December 2019, and her first self published novel, Walled City, came out on December 5th 2020, followed by Viking Ferry, a novella. Beyond the Hills is the second book in the Elabi Chronicles, and will be released on June 18th 2021. All Maressa’s books are available from her website, or local bookshops. - 55 -

Europe by Book by Hannah Howe

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel Lost in Portugal. Lost to grief. With nothing but a chimpanzee. A man thrown backwards by heartbreak goes in search of an artefact that could unsettle history. A woman carries her husband to a doctor in a suitcase. A Canadian senator begins a new life, in a new country, in the company of a chimp called Odo. From these stories of journeying, of loss and faith, Yann Martel makes a novel unlike any other: moving, profound and magical.

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Scandinavia: A History by Ewan Butler Here is the dramatic story of Scandinavia – from its earliest Germanic origins and Viking sea raids to its battles for independence and its involvement in World War II. Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, writes award-winning historian Ewan Butler writes, struggled through unions and separations, with both outsiders and each other, developing their own personalities and languages yet retaining their ancient connections.

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

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Word Search By Mom’s Favorite Reads

You can find the answers for this activity on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: - 58 -

Lady Anne’s Way 100m (160km) by Alan Southworth his male heirs, this injustice was felt very deeply both by Lady Anne and her mother and in future years would be a bone of contention between Lady Anne and her husbands, it marked a turning point in her life and she spent the next thirty eight years trying to regain her inheritance. She was married twice, firstly to Richard Sackville Earl of Dorset who died in 1624 and then six years later to Philip Herbert Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, the second marriage was not a happy one and after four and a half years they quarrelled and subsequently lived apart. The Earl of Pembroke died in1650 and the year after Lady Anne left the south of England forever, it had been her home since childhood but in 1643 she had at last come into her rightful inheritance and now was the time to return to the county of her birth and set her houses in order.

This long-distance walk begins in Skipton in North Yorkshire and ends in Penrith, Cumbria and follows the route taken by Lady Anne Clifford during her time she spent until her death maintaining and restoring the properties and castles owned by the Clifford family.

Lady Anne Clifford was the last in line of that great family the Cliffords who owned vast estates extending from Skipton in Craven to Brougham in Westmorland (Now Cumbria). She was born in Skipton castle and was the only surviving child of George Clifford 3rd Earl of Cumberland and his wife Margaret Russell, on her father's death she failed to inherit the estate which passed to her uncle and - 59 -

Her estates and in particular her castles were in great need of repair and the restoration of these was to be her self-imposed task for the rest of her life.

the 'Shepherd' Lord Clifford in Tudor times and later to Lady Anne where she stayed frequently during her lifetime and undertook much restoration work. Leaving Barden, we follow the course of the river Wharfe through the villages of Appletreewick (shortened by locals to Ap'trick), Burnsall and Hebden and on to Grassington. Grassington a small but bustling town was once the centre of a flourishing lead mining industry which was worked since preRoman times. Leaving Grassington our walk takes us to Buckden, passing through the villages of Kettlewell and Starbottom enroute to Hawes. Lady Anne would have broken her journey North by staying overnight at any number of estate cottages where she would have been made thoroughly welcome, such was her popularity. Our next overnight stop is the market town of Hawes capital of the upper Dales and one of England's highest market towns, famous for its Wensleydale cheese (amongst others it produces) and ropemaking, it was also the centre for the Quaker movement.

As previously stated, the walk starts from Skipton castle, the birthplace of Lady Anne. Skipton is well known as the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales and is a thriving market town with its cobbled streets and narrow alleyways and the Leeds to Liverpool canal basin harbouring a multitude of narrow boats for hire, the town is dominated by the imposing castle, one of the best preserved medieval castles in the country, it was the home of the Cliffords from 1310 when it was rebuilt and strengthened by the first Clifford, Lord of Skipton.

However, on with the walk, we leave Skipton heading for Grassington first passing through the villages of Embsy and Eastby eventually meeting up with the river Wharfe and Barden Tower our next link to Lady Anne. The imposing ruin was once home to

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The next stage takes us to Kirkby Stephen following the high route known as 'Lady Anne's highway', it takes us over the fells from Wensleydale to Mallerstang and the start of the Eden valley. The 'Highway' was almost certainly a pre-historic route, later used by the Romans, also drovers coming down from Scotland to the markets of the Dales, Lady Anne would have used it on her way from Wensleydale into Westmorland to visit Pendragon castle where she would stay and oversee repairs. Kirkby Stephen has most amenities, shops, hotels, cafes and accommodation including a Youth Hostel. The town has always been a place of some importance being on the main trading route from Wensleydale through the Eden valley and over the Pennines into Scotland. It was granted a charter 1n 1361 and has continued to hold a market every Monday since. Bull baiting took place in the cobbled square and in the 18th century the town became famous for its woollen stockings which were knitted by both men and women using local sheep wool. Kirkby Stephen also had the tradition of ringing the 'Taggy' bell at 8pm each evening as a curfew for the children otherwise the demon 'Taggy' would pounce on them after dark. Our next stage takes us to Appleby in the Eden valley with its lush pastures and the flowing River Eden, after passing through the villages of Winton, Brough, Warcop, Sandford and Great Ormondside to reach Appleby where the Gypsy horse fair is held annually, reputed to be the largest horse fair in the world many deals of horse sales are traditionally done in the river. Lady Anne played an important role in the town and spent a great deal of time restoring and repairing the castle which was left in ruins after suffering at the hands of the Scots and later the Parliamentarians, she also had a number of Almshouses built which later became known as the The Hospital of Lady Anne. - 61 -

Our next and last stage takes us from Appleby to Penrith, a low level route with superb views of the North Pennine moors. Leaving Appleby we soon come in sight of the Pikes of Murton and Dufton and a fabulous view of High Cup Nick, a horseshoe of vertical crags, near which is the Whin Sil an escarpment of extremely hard granite, we pass through the villages of Long Marton, Kirkby Thore and Cliburn to reach Brougham Hall and ultimately Brougham castle which was probably Lady Anne's

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favourite for it was here that her father was born and her mother died. She spent a great deal of time here so it is perhaps fitting that she end her days here in this idyllic spot by the river. Few women can have made such an impression on so many people during their lifetime and be still held in such high regard over three hundred years later. Lady Anne died in the state bedchamber in Brougham Castle on Wednesday 22nd March 1676 after enduring great pain, her last words being 'I thank God I am very well'.

After visiting Brougham Castle, we continue along the road to Eamont Bridge and on to Penrith and the end of our journey. Penrith was once the capital of Cumbria and marks the gateway to the Lake District and the North Pennines.

I am a retired engineer and professional woodturner from Lancashire, England. I have an interest in all things wood, therefore, trees, mainly our indigenous native trees. I am a member of the woodland Trust and am a volunteer photographer for the trust. My interests are varied and include hillwalking, cycling and I was a Martial Arts student and instructor for over fifty years. I also play acoustic Guitar and ukulele, badly, I may add, my musical interests are also varied and range from English and Irish folk, through to Classical. I also have an interest in Lancashire dialect writing and poems. - 63 -

The Ring of Mystery by Penny Luker Bev had not been out for months, but the days were warmer now and although she had no idea how to go on, she did feel up to walking round her garden. At the back of the garden they owned a field. She corrected herself; she owned a field. Peter, her boyfriend had walked out and left her. Her whole life had turned upside down. The house was already in her name. She’d paid for everything as he tried to build up his business.

branches. How on earth had that got there? This was private land. She went up to it and examined it. It was beautiful and perfect. Almost unreal. She hesitated to step through it. What if it was a time portal and took her centuries back into the past or perhaps even more frightening, to the future. What rubbish, she told herself firmly and in any case, what was there for her here? She slipped her small frame nimbly through the circle.

When he’d walked out on her to marry Fiona, he’d graciously said,’ I don’t want anything from here. I’m going to be so bloody rich you’re not going to believe it.’ With her old and trusty flask of tea she wandered to the end of the garden and into the field. It was unsurprisingly a mess. The Blackthorn bushes in the middle of the field had flourished and were taking over the top part of the field. The grass was high, too high, but there was a pathway near the edge. Bev decided she would take the chair from the tiny hide she’d built last year and go and drink her tea and watch the birds.

On the other side the grass was cut and she could hear the sound of a small child chattering. ‘No, here’s one for you, Mr. Ted, and one for you, Janet.’ The child looked up and ran over to Bev, excitedly. ‘I was hoping you’d come one day. The Queen of the castle,’ she said and curtseyed. ‘Your throne is this way.’

She turned a corner and came across an amazing sight. It was a circle made from thin Blackthorn

Bev couldn’t help but smile. The throne was a tiny plastic stool and she wondered if she sat on it, if she’d be able to get up. ‘The Queen would like to know, who you are, what you’re doing here and where’s your mummy.’ The little girl’s face fell and Bev thought that tears might follow. ‘I’m not cross with you,’ she added quickly. ‘I’m Lilly. I live next door. Mummy’s working. She likes me to play outside when she’s working.’ - 64 -

‘Oh yes please,’ Lilly said, holding out her arm, which bore a plastic bracelet with a telephone number.

‘Does she realize you’re playing on my land and not in your garden?’ ‘Maybe not, but Daddy knows. He knocked on your door on Saturday. He cut the grass in the top part of your field when he came for his visit.’

After the call they picked up Mr. Ted and Janet and made their way back to the house. As they came to the mystery ring of blackthorn twigs, Bev admired its beauty.

‘Why did he do that?’ ‘Mummy said he couldn’t stay in the house with us and he hadn’t any money to take me anywhere, so he got out his gardening things. He thought you wouldn’t mind if he helped you with the field. He said he’d do the other half next weekend.’

‘Well he’s very clever.’

Bev sat down on the throne and listened to Lilly chattering away. She was an enchanting child. Eventually Lilly offered to share her sandwich.

‘He had to wear gloves when he made it, because of the prickles and we have to be careful as we go through.’

‘Dad made that. He said when you go back through the ring you go back to normal life. This side is our play place.’

They both safely climbed through the ring. As they did, Bev realized the truth of the ring. She was going back to reality but something had happened on the other side. She felt stronger. A small child had enjoyed her company. She was still a worthwhile person. Life could go on.

‘Don’t you go home for lunch?’ ‘Mum’s very busy. I’m okay as long as I’m with Mr. Ted and my favourite doll, Janet. It’s been a lovely day with you being here.’ ‘ Shall I phone your mum and ask if you can come round to my house for lunch?’

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

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Out of Africa—A Literary Pilgrimage by John Greeves Are you one of those people who sees the film, then reads the book, or is it the other way around? For me this particular pilgrimage represented more than a trip to a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong hills. I wanted to find some tonal hues of Africa and combine this with the rich lyricalism I found in Karen Blixen’s book Out of Africa, and discover something of the author herself. sits squarely beside several outbuildings including a separate kitchen block. The house is set in massive lawns with tall trees, shrubs and fragrant flowers with the distant backdrop to the blue knuckles of the Ngong hills stretching out. Inside a blurring of identity exists, between the authentic and the assortment of film paraphernalia. It’s difficult to tell who has prominence here; the former cast of Out of Africa (Robert Redford and Meryl Streep) with their film costumes casually strewn across every room or the rightful occupants Denys Finch Hatton (the bald-headed interloper) and Karen Blixen with her hunting dogs?

I am up at four this morning, probably due to a strange bed and the expectancy of this trip to Karen Blixen’s house. Drawing the curtains back, I see life beyond the tourist bubble- an unbroken line of city workers filing past (from the shanty towns), to their place of work. Nairobi it seems and its people are all early risers; a side of life many privileged outsiders never see.

Separating fiction from fact, in this house, becomes increasingly difficult as I pass from the living room, bedroom, bathroom to the dining room,

After a poolside breakfast and a solitary car trip, I arrive alone at Blixen’s former home. No tourist buses can be seen and I’m fortunate to have the whole place to myself, except for the guide who has arrived early to meet me. The location isn’t what I expected. The farm has gone and suburbia has crept in its outstretched arms. The squat bungalow with a long veranda, - 66 -

who has given up his time to know if her book presented an idealised view of colonial life between 1913 and 1931, or whether Karen left debts with the local Asian traders when she left Kenya? What I can appreciate, sitting here gazing from the window seat is the splendour of the hot shimmering air and changing patterns of the Ngong Hills so beautifully extolled by Karen Blixen in her book and knowing this image at least has not been eroded by time. In her book she also talks of a port and starboard light to guide the traveller home. I expect someday it was always her intention to return to Kenya but she never did.

finding each theatrically staged and believing only the tin bath and commode hold a down-to-earth gravitas. What did I really expect, since 1931, three other families have lived here before the Danish government bought the house and thirty-six acres of adjacent land and presented it to the Kenyan Government in 1963?

Outside, in the warmth, a huddle of talking gardeners remain my only connection now to this former writer. They smile and tell me I am early. ‘Would you like to see something, not many people see?’ they ask. They point to a path. I follow it down and come across the rusted remains of the coffee factory, a partial picture of something unique with a solitary coffee plant that has survived to carry away in my mind’s eye from her farm in Africa.

Change is inevitable. When I visited, plans were afoot to build the biggest wind farm in Africa on the Ngong Hills. Continuity with the past appears waferthin, yet the distant Mountain of the Ngong which rises two thousand feet above the surrounding countryside stretch in a long unbroken ridge north to south. They still remain crowned as Blixen described them “with four noble peaks like immovable darker blue waves against the sky,” and give some assurance among this uncertainty of replicas like the cuckoo clock. After all this time, I can’t expect the museum guide

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

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Craftsman, Neil Rowlands Interviewed by Sylva Fae I met Neil Rowlands through a bushcraft group that I help run. Group members often share photos of the practical crafts and tools they’ve created for use in the woods. I was especially impressed by Neil’s craftsmanship, as using a ferro rod is my favourite method to light the campfire in my own woodland.

What do you make? For the past eight or so years I’ve been making items used in fire lighting. They are mainly used by people with an interest in bushcraft and wild camping. Most of what I’ve made have been leather pouches to contain a fire kit, including a variety of natural, as well as man-made tinder, and ferro rods. Ferro rods are a modern equivalent to the traditional flint and steel sets.

Campfires and Practical Crafts As lockdown restrictions ease and the weather improves, I want nothing more than to escape to my woodland. At the heart of our camp is the campfire. Not only is it a central point to gather, but it provides a means to cook and warms us as the night air cools. The campfire is a focus for peaceful contemplation, staring into the flickering flames becomes hypnotic – it is almost a form of meditation. And yet at other times, we are drawn together around it, and the campfire becomes a social hub. Lighting a fire is primitive skill that takes time and practice to master, but once the flame takes, it is a wondrous feeling.

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So, what prompted you to make ferro rods? Can you explain what they are?

where the handle was simply several metres of duct tape (handy in a fix) and a few from some driftwood I once found. Lately I’ve made a few mixing layers of different materials.

It began when I attended a knife forging weekend with a blacksmith, where I made my own knife, adding the handle and shaping it. Following this I made a few ferro or fire steel, rod handles as I had really enjoyed that part of the process. For anyone who doesn’t know a flint and steel set is a piece of flint rock, paired with a piece of hardened steel. When the flint scrapes minute pieces of the steel away, these are the orange sparks you’ll see fly at around 700 degrees C. With a ferro rod, some hardened metal is used to scrape the rod, and this time the rod gives off sparks which are much hotter, around 3500 degrees C. It can be used even when wet so unlike matches etc is a reliable way to light a fire.

What do you enjoy most about this craft? It’s a great way to meet people interested in the outdoors, or traditional living skills including fire lighting, Stone Age living etc. I’m attending a meet with some lovely friends I’ve made along the way in July this year, which has a focus on the American frontiers people and settlers who travelled and used their skills to survive and thrive. So other than a few sales and earning a few extra pounds to pay the bills (or buy camping equipment), I’ve found it’s been a lovely way to meet new people, many of whom I now consider friends, some of them very good friends indeed. What I enjoy most I suppose, is the challenge of trying something new, which

What materials do you use? I put a variety of handles onto the rods for use, such as red deer antler, sustainable sources of course, various wood, brass, even a few ultra practical ones - 69 -

takes me out of my comfort zone or stretches the boundaries of my current skills and forces me to learn.

What new skills have you learned along the way? Simon of Ashdown Forest Crafts (website of the same name) has been coaching me with some leather work and has been genuinely so kind with his time. With his guidance, I’ve recently worked to bring the quality and finish of my leather work to a new level and expand the range of things I make.

Does your family get involved? My youngest daughter has been wild camping with me since she was four and she enjoys the process of making and designing some of what I’ve made. She recently designed her own mixed material and multi-layer handle for a ferro rod which we then worked on together. A proud dad moment!

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How can people see your work?

To start, you lovingly prepare your tinder, curls of silver birch bark, carefully peeled and feathered while you wander back to camp. Then, kneeling as if in prayer, you offer up a silent plea for the dry bark to catch the spark. You arrange your tiny fire, the smallest driest sticks stacked ready to go, the damper big branches piled close in the hope they’ll be dry enough by the time they’re needed.

I’ve recently started a Facebook page “Neil’s fire steels” so please check that out if you want to see more of my recent work.

Another whispered prayer, ‘please light, please light, please light!’

Perseverance By Sylva Fae

You arrive at the woods after a storm, the air is clear and the sunlight filters through the leafy branches. Everything is fresh but wet, very wet! To get that desired cup of coffee and feed three hungry rascals, first you need a camp fire; functional, essential but more importantly the heart of the camp. Now you could bring with you some paper, fire lighters or a disposable barbecue but where’s the fun in that?

You gently poke that tiny magical bundle of bark into the centre. It’s time. With slow tentative strokes you slide a blade down the ferro rod marvelling at the dancing sparks as they jump off and disappear before they touch the tinder. Stronger now, more purposeful, you adjust your position and strike once more, coaxing, caressing the sparks down to the tinder below. Breath held, you see the slightest wisp of smoke rise. A minute orange glow catches, then dies. You sigh and start again. With each strike your hope rises and fades as the sparks dissipate to nothingness. - 71 -

Tirelessly continuing, that coffee seems so far away. Then it catches. Bending close to shield the tiny flame, you cross your fingers. It flickers and dies but you strike again, urgent and insistent, you focus all your energies into willing that spark to be the one. It catches – a silent cheer – you shield the flame gently rolling the feathered bark across it, nurturing its birth. A second flame leaps up, then a third. Gingerly, you place the little twigs, careful not to starve it of oxygen. You lean in close and gently blow. The heat rises, the glow intensifies and the fire consumes the dry twigs. It’s a balance now, a race to feed the flames, to build the fire but you’re determined. The fire takes a firm hold. You rock back on your heels and a smug grin curls your lips. Hands outstretched to feel the heat from your labours, you breath in and appreciate the swirling smoke that now billows above. With deep satisfaction you fill the kettle and sit and wait with your roaring fire. 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: - 72 -

Contributions by Hannah Howe A publisher went off to France In search of a tale of romance A Parisian lady Told a tale so shady That the publisher made an advance

What kind of tree do fingers grow on? A palm tree.

Singing in the shower is fun, until you get soap in your mouth. Then it becomes a soap opera.

Mysteries of life. If swimming is so good for your figure, how come whales are so fat?

I went to my bank manager the other day and said, “I’d like to start a small business. How do I do that?” “Simple,” the bank manager said, “you buy a big one and wait.” I visited a spiritualist the other day. The note on her door said, “To avoid confusion, please use the bell.”

A truck carrying a thousand copies of Roget’s Thesaurus overturned. The onlookers were stunned, amazed, overwhelmed, gobsmacked, bewildered, astonished and dumfounded.

The past, present and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

You really said that?! “We all have ancestors, and in this series I will encourage you to dig up yours.” - 73 -

Golden Skies and Insomniac by Stan Phillips Golden Skies I shall melt into your mind, and dance with your words. Embrace your wisdom. And become your second soul. You are the poem I write. And the song I sing. The dawn of my day. You are the setting of my sun. You are the free bird of my yearning that flies in golden skies of Spring

Insomniac I awoke in the night and walked to my window. Beyond the glass the shadows of the branches moved against the scudding clouds. No sound was heard. Just the barking of a distant disconsolate dog echoed on the air. Unseen small creatures used the darkness as their home. But their way is alien to me. And they do not know I exist. And the night stretched ahead lonesome. And sleep would not come. Just the small despair of the insomniac. And I stood there watching the darkness. Made some chamomile tea. Wrote a poem. Listened to some Schubert. Saw the dawn break full of promises. All is well.

Stan Phillips is a poet, musical podcast maker, part-time wannabe male model, and occasional stand up comedian. “I used to be a psychotherapist/counsellor when I had an honest job. I was born into prewar London, and attended 17 schools (my father believed they couldn’t hit a moving target) and I eventually finished up here in Ireland. Still wondering what I will be when I grow up — but enjoying writing my quirky poetry as I do so.” Discover more about Stan on Mom’s Favorite Reads website: - 74 -

Chess Supplied by Chess.Com A three-move puzzle. White can win a knight. But which one?

Supplied by the #1 chess website. Used with permission. For more chess puzzles please visit You can find answers for this activity on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: - 75 -

Its Not Rocket Science: Love One Another by Father Ian Maher Today’s reading continues a section of John’s gospel in which Jesus is giving an extended discourse to his disciples. Jesus is making them aware of the fact that there are difficult days ahead, not only for himself as he faced his impending arrest and crucifixion, but also for those who follow him. No-one can ever accuse Jesus of sugar-coating what it means to be a disciple. He does, however, also give them clear advice about how to live lives that reflect the kingdom of God in the world, as he himself taught and embodied it. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.’

called to march to the beat of a different drum. The supreme example of such loving service was offered by our Lord in bearing the sins of the world on the cross and setting us free from the power of death. Jesus calls us who are his followers, in turn, to love others just as he loved us, even to the point of laying down our lives for others. For some, following that command to love as Jesus loved, might well mean paying the ultimate price, and sometimes we hear of such selfless acts.

A little earlier in chapter 13 of John’s gospel is the account of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. This was a powerful example of just what Jesus meant. He became the least among them, fulfilling the role of a servant, and turning expectations on their head. It was a very different picture to the norms of a world in which power and authority are exercised in a very different way, yet this is the nature of the kingdom which Jesus ushered in. Those who recognise it are

Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, the young man who died trying to rescue a woman from the Thames last week springs to

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injustice and corruption of those in authority by being a voice for the oppressed. He is the one in whose footsteps we follow.

mind as a recent example, but there are many others whose actions in serving and loving others have been costly to the point of losing their life. It is humbling to think of a person acting in that way, and most of us will not be in that position. Yet, Jesus words challenge us all. Loving others, serving others, carries with it a cost. We must be prepared to give of ourselves, to put others first, to respond lovingly to the needs of those who cross our path.

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’ It is for each of us who seek to live as his disciples to work out what this commandment of Jesus means to us in our daily lives, and then do all that we can to be faithful in our calling to live as friends of Jesus.

There was nothing abstract about either the teaching or example of the life of Jesus. He gave of himself for the sake of others as he went about caring for the poor, healing the sick, and putting his life on the line by challenging the

I am a priest and minor canon at Sheffield Cathedral. My last post prior to retirement from stipendiary ministry was as the Multifaith Chaplaincy Co-ordinator and Anglican Chaplain at Sheffield Hallam University, where I worked for 12 years. Twitter @IanMaher7 - 77 -

Yosemite National Park by Melanie P. Smith

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© MPSmith Publishing - 79 -

Genealogy: Meet My Ancestors by Hannah Howe

My 20 x great grandmother Isabella of Castile, Duchess of York, was born in 1355, the daughter of Pedro Alfónsez (Pedro I) “Rey de Castilla y León, el Cruel” and his favourite mistress Maria de Padilla. Isabella accompanied her elder sister Constance to England after Constance’s marriage to John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and on 11 July 1372 married Gaunt’s younger brother, Edmund Langley, 1st Duke of York, a man fourteen years her senior. The marriage was a political alliance to further the Plantagenet claim to the crown of Castile. Chroniclers described Isabella and Edmund as ‘an ill-matched pair’. Isabella was flirtatious and committed many indiscretions, including an affair with Richard II’s half-brother, John Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter, a ‘violent and lawless’ man.

Officially, Isabella and Edmund produced three children: Edward, Constance (my direct ancestor) and Richard, although there is a suggestion that John Holland fathered Richard.

The chroniclers didn’t like Isabella and tarnished her reputation, taking exception to her ‘loose morals’. Of course, their comments must be seen within the context of the political intrigues of the day, which were numerous in Richard II’s court. It seems certain that Isabella did have affairs, no doubt looking for the love and affection that might have been absent in her marriage.

Isabella died on 23 December 1392, aged thirty-seven and was buried on 14 January 1393 at the church of the Dominicans at King’s Langley. Shakespeare, however, brought Isabella back to life when he featured her in Act V of his play, Richard II, set in December 1399. - 80 -

There are no records of the King’s Langley tombs. The priory surrendered to the Crown in 1536, but was not dissolved until 1559, when the estate passed into private hands. It’s assumed that the heraldic tomb-chest now standing in the north chapel of King’s Langley parish church originated from the priory. It was moved in 1877 and opened to reveal the disturbed remains of a sixty year old male and a forty year old female, thought to be Edmund and Isabella. In her Will, Isabella bequeathed to the Duke of Lancaster, a tablet of Armenian jasper; to her son Edward, her crown; to Constance Despenser, her daughter, a

fret of pearls; to the Duchess of Gloucester, her tablet of gold with images; and to Richard II her heart of pearls and the residue of her goods, in trust that he should allow his godson Richard, Isabella’s younger son, an annuity of 500 marks for life, a trust which Richard II, out of the great respect he bore for her, accepted. Richard II loved pomp and pageantry, and it’s clear that Isabella had more in common with him than with her husband, Edmund. While Isabella’s marriage was no bed of roses, in Richard II’s flamboyant court I sense that she was at home, even though that home was a long way from her native Castile.

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

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Chagall (Blue Circus) by John Greeves Begin with the fan

Listen to the loud clapping of hands

let colour voice itself down,

from star struck watchers,

past the arched arms flagged

blue and yellow merging to green applause, enraptured by this tumbling form…

with subtle streaks of yellow, beyond her bejewelled neck, over her red

the effervescent of hues -

contoured breast and flat orb stomach to her long legged body curved across a trapeze bar to the sound of the cockerel’s drum.

hot palmed to seats with the sudden gasps of captured breath.

a vibrancy of red, blue and purple,

Gaze, as her long black hair defies gravity in this sudden inhalation of vivid blues and reds. Breathe deep, as her sudden downward flight, beggars belief in pallet tones of thrilled emotion. Turn your eyes upwards, as she leaps like a fish caught in the apparent irony of weightlessness. Watch the green horse turn its head, one eyed like the silver crescent moon.

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

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Paul’s Puzzles By Paul Godding The Mathematically Possible Challenge Using 3, 6 and 10 once each, with + – × ÷ available, which THREE numbers is it possible to make from the list below? 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 #5TimesTable

The Lagrange Challenge Lagrange’s Four-Square Theorem states that every positive integer can be made by adding up to four square numbers. For example, 7 can be made by 2²+1²+1²+1² (or 4+1+1+1). There are TEN ways of making 130 when using Lagrange’s Theorem. Can you find them all?

The Main Challenge Can you place the 12 numbers 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 6 7 and 8 into the 12 gaps below so that all four equations work out arithmetically? ◯ + ◯ = ◯ ◯ + ◯ = ◯ ◯ + ◯ = ◯ ◯ + ◯ = ◯

Click Mathelona for details of similar pocketbook challenges.

The 7puzzle Challenge The playing board of the 7puzzle game is a 7by-7 grid containing 49 different numbers, ranging from 2 up to 84. The 2nd & 4th rows contain the following fourteen numbers: 3 8 10 17 28 32 35 44 48 54 55 6 0 63 64 What is the difference between the sum of the multiples of 8 and the sum of the multiples of 7?

The Target Challenge Can you arrive at 130 by inserting 2, 3, 5 and 10 into the gaps on each line? (◯+◯)×◯×◯ = 130 (◯×◯–◯)×◯ = 130 ◯²+◯²+◯²–◯² = 130

*** Solutions:

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

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World Oceans Day by Melanie P. Smith

June 8th

millions of people flock to the oceans and beaches every year — it’s where they can unplug and find peace and serenity — or high adventure.

Cover design created to honor World Oceans Day

The ocean covers over 70% of our planet and is basically our life source. This vast resource is the reason our planet is habitable. It produces over 50% of the worlds oxygen and provides the main source of protein for over a billion people. The ocean is so biodiverse that scientist estimate 91% of ocean species have yet to be classified.

From solitary walks on the beach, to surfing, fishing, and diving — the oceans provide a place to get away for just a little while. The diverse scenery provides numerous opportunities for adventure like sailing, whale watching, or just splashing in the waves, or building a sandcastle with your loved ones. Whether you seek relaxation, exhilaration or inspiration, the oceans have it all. Which is why it is so important to protect these great waters.

World Oceans Day was created to remind all of us what a major role the oceans play in our everyday lives. It is often referred to as the lungs of our planet. And just like in humans, the world cannot survive without healthy lungs.

This June, I challenge you to take a minute to do

your part and protect this great treasure. There are tons of local and on-line events you can take part in. Whether it’s a family day at the beach cleaning up trash and debris, entering a recycled art contest, or joining a Facebook live event — You can make a difference. I hope you will mark the date — The planet is counting on you!

This natural resource provides food, creates millions of jobs, and is a source for a substantial number of medications. It is also a place we go to relax. Many of us have highly stressful, fast-paced lives. We long for a place to relax, rejuvenate, and just have fun. That’s why

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

In our experience, the Fussy Librarian is the best book promoter in the business. When we promote with him, our free books always reach the top five of Amazon’s genre charts, most often they reach the top three. We promote with the Fussy Librarian every month and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Prices start from as low as $15, minus our special discount of 20%. Click here: for full details. And, at the checkout, be sure to enter this code: goylake20 to claim your 20% discount. Thank you for your interest. And good luck with your promotion! - 84 -

Brought to you by...

The 2nd Quarter edition of Connections eMagazine features a writing prompt, new releases and amazing sales. Be sure to check it out.

Our Reader’s Choice Award is open to all independently published authors and their work. This is an annual award. The winners are featured in the August edition of Connections eMagazine. If you’ve read a book you love, let the author know by nominating them for an award. Nominations open until June 15th. Public voting begins June 30th.

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: - 85 -

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

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

Managing Editor, Art Director & Proofreader —Sylva Fae Our Managing Editor oversees the physical content of the magazine and coordinates the production schedule. She administers the day-to-day operations of the publication, manages submissions, sets realistic schedules and organizes each edition of the magazine. Sylva is is responsible for the amazing graphics that appear throughout the publication each month. She works hard to ensure the images capture the spirit and message our author's convey in their articles and stories. In addition, As Copy Editor, Sylva works hard behind the scenes to correct any grammatical, typos and spelling errors throughout the magazine. Sylva Fae—Mum of three, fairy woodland owner, and author of children’s books.

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

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

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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:

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

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

General Content Writers Our Content Writers are freelance authors who contribute articles, short stories, etc. to the eMagazine on a regular basis. They work hard to make our magazine interesting and professional. Get to know our Content Writers on Mom’s Favorite Reads website here: Stan Phillips — Father Ian Maher — Penny Luker —

Discover more amazing authors…

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