Guest Post: Cathy Cade

Today I am very pleased to feature English blogger and writer, Cathy Cade.

Finding my Courage

There were a couple of reasons why I would have skimmed over Pete’s first call for guest posts, however attractive I found the prospect of reaching a wider audience. What on earth would I write about, for a start? I struggle to think of topics to post on my own blog.

Time would have been a factor too – isn’t it always? As well as formatting our writing group’s third anthology, I’m currently revisiting my ‘practice novel’. I have been known to tackle the ironing to avoid revisiting this novel.

But very little of my retirement wardrobe requires ironing, these days, which leaves me short of postponement strategies. And most of it boils down to simple cowardice.


I actually completed a first draft of the aforementioned practice novel before losing confidence and putting it aside in favour of short stories. Short stories are less scary and are quicker to produce and obtain feedback on. I could share them with online writing forums or a local writing group. However nerve-wracking it was to present my own work for feedback, I found critiquing others’ writing just as scary. But the sky didn’t fall.

Short stories can be submitted to competitions… some even free to enter. I sent off stories to competitions and most disappeared into the void. The world didn’t end.

Short stories can be sent off to magazines. The best of these gave helpful feedback when rejecting my stories. And the sun rose next morning.

I started a blog – the writing gurus all said I ought to, but I’d put it off. Who would be interested in my ramblings? What on earth would I blog about? (Still a challenge.) After my first tentative posts, I realised that the only one interested in who read my posts was me.

On publishing our writing group’s first anthology, nobody laughed at us for trying; the world didn’t end when it needed amending.


Eventually, one of my competition stories was shortlisted. Others were placed… and printed!

I reviewed my rejected magazine stories and sent them out to other magazines, both print and online. Some were accepted!

I followed other blogs and plucked up courage to comment. Some of the bloggers came to look at my blog.

We had the group’s anthology printed locally, sold them to our u3a members and went into a second print run. We published a second collection the following year. With one of our members producing our covers, all it cost us was the ISBNs, so I took the plunge to publish books of my own (on Amazon and Smashwords). The sky still hasn’t fallen.

If, like me, you have the courage of Oz’s Cowardly Lion, take heart. Most things in life become easier once you’ve taken that first scary step. Even guest blogging.

Cathy Cade

Here are some links where you can read more from Cathy, or buy her books.

http://www.cathy-cade.com

http://www.facebook.com/cathycade.wordsmith

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=Cathy+Cade&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/cathincade

https://www.goodreads.com/cathycade

Guest Post: Vaidehi Venkatadriagharam

I am very pleased to feature a short story sent to me by Indian blogger and writer Vaidehi.

Here is her short bio.

Vaidehi writes travel stories, short stories and haiku poems on her blog “Weary feet…Happy soul” at http://www.vvaidehi.wordpress.com. She is based in New Delhi, India.

ABANDONED

I am old and frayed now. Nevertheless, I am classy, one of substance and not like the new ones on the block. And yet, here I am, abandoned and lonely.

When I was young and in good company, I had many admirers and conversations in elegant circles revolved around me. Life was good.

Over the years, I was slowly relegated to the background. At first, to the back of the shelf and then to the trunk in the attic. But nobody can deny that I was and still am the best in deductive crime fiction. The characters that unfold as you turn my pages are still alive in the minds of people. I am told that they are still making films and serials with my main characters.

All this crowding and jostling in the trunk exasperate me. Even a trash can would be better than this! Soon, I was picked up with several others of my clan and shoved into, you guessed it right, the trash can. Talk to me about a self-fulfilling prophecy!

Abandoned and hurt, I had no faith in humankind. After a long and painful journey, I lay in the dump and resigned myself to being shred or burnt or just left to decay.

I woke up from my stupor when a gloved hand picked me up and crammed me into a coat pocket. “Now what?” I thought. I dimly remember that I passed through several hands over the next few days, none that is worth mentioning.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when the young woman looked at me with interest and I felt the care in her touch. She cleaned my red leather cover carefully, removing the smudges and stains of years of neglect and the rough and tumble of the last few days. My title glittered again and I shone like a new coin.

What does a book want? To be handled carefully, to be read with interest and to be valued. She did all this and much more.

I had been with her for quite some time when, one day, she picked me up, put me in her handbag and left for work. I was enjoying the snug ride when she took me out, put a paste-on note on my cover and placed me gently by her side on the metro train seat. I was quite happy to have a separate seat and looked around brimming with pride, to check if anyone had noticed. But I am sad to say that all of them were engrossed with a gadget held in their hands.

As my owner got up to alight, I looked up at her expectantly. To my dismay, she moved to the door, glanced back at me and got off. What? Abandoned again?

I sat there clueless and despondent. While several passed, an elderly man stopped in front of me, read the note and picked me up. Smiling, he flipped through the pages and put me in his bag. My stay with him was brief but wonderful as he too read and valued me. A few days later, I was left by him deliberately on one of the benches of a metro station.

So, here I am, lying abandoned on the metro for the umpteenth time and waiting for yet another eager reader to pick me up. I have learnt now that I am a part of a social project “book on the Delhi metro”. Books are left at prominent places on the metro trains and stations, to be picked by interested readers, who would leave the books again for others. Thus, the chain of readers continues.

Needless to say, I now love being abandoned!

If you would like to connect with her, or read more from her blog, here is another link.
https://vvaidehi.wordpress.com/

Free Book Just for Today

Hurry! Get your free copy of Stevie’s book. One day only! And please don’t forget to give it a fair review after reading.

Stevie Turner

My family drama ‘Barren‘ is free just for today. It was published in October 2020 and so far has one 5 star rating:

Esme Jones and husband Aron have completed their family and have twin sons Jared and James. Esme’s older sister Eden Reece is desperate for a child, but a hysterectomy has put paid to any chance of her becoming a parent. When Esme offers herself as a surrogate, Eden and husband Billy are delighted. However, when Esme notices the first fluttering of life inside her and a scan reveals that she is carrying a girl, both sisters are not prepared for the outcome which threatens to tear the fabric of the whole extended family apart.

As always, if you enjoy reading it, please consider leaving a review.

Apart from the usual blog hop on Monday, I’ll be winding down on writing blogs next week. We’ll be…

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There are some things a poet cannot accept

Jim says it all-via Tallis Steelyard- about the tragic loss of the lovely Sue Vincent. This community will be poorer without her, and she will always be remembered by anyone who encountered her on her blog, and in her writing. RIP, dear Sue.

Tallis Steelyard

There are times when a poet must make a stand and say, “This has happened without my cognisance and I will not accept it!” Today has not been the best of days. Today I got a note from a patron. Common enough, especially from her, as she was always quick to praise, swift to encourage. But today the note had a bitter flavour. She was sitting awaiting death. A week? Longer?

And what can a poet do? A poet can protest, a poet can stand tall and say firmly that this will not do. A poet can bang the table with his wine glass obvious of the fact it has shattered and the pieces lie glistening but incoherent, shards of dreams never now to be dreamt.

Others have known Sue for longer than I, others will doubtless feel the grief more keenly, will mourn longer, but my job as a…

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Her last post. Your job? Say #GoodbyeToo @ SCVincent

Please use the link to read Sue’s full post. Courageous, and inspiring. We are losing one of the best bloggers and writers this community has ever known.

Barb Taub

Today Sue Vincent shared what may be her last blog post. It’s so like Sue that it’s a message of hope as well as gentle regret.

Sue has given so much and so freely—to family, friends, and uncounted thousands she’s touched online. This post of loss and love is deeply personal. But it’s also universal. The world has faced loss and grief on an unprecedented scale over the past year. Sue is part of that pandemic recording. It might not be the coronavirus that ultimately beats her (a far older and even more egalitarian cancer will be credited with that victory) but it played a lead role in delaying treatment which might have bought time.

So here’s my challenge. Please share this post. Please share a tweet and add names of those you’ve lost this past year. Because the world needs to remember every loss, every person whose death was…

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Featured Blogger: Pete Springer

American blogger and writer Pete Springer is a retired teacher. He has only been blogging for less than two years, but has already become a great asset to our blogging community.
https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/

He has published a book that he hopes will interest and inspire new teachers, based on his own memories of a lifetime as an educator.

Here is one of his recent posts, giving some idea of what you will find on his blog.

An Impressive Young Man

There are times in a teaching career when you wonder, “Was it all worth it? Would I do it again?” My answer has always been a resounding “yes” to those questions, but I don’t think there is a teacher alive who hasn’t wondered about those things on occasion. All teachers inevitably have bad days, and it can leave you feeling, “What am I doing? I must be the world’s worst teacher.”

One of the mysteries of teaching is that you can have one of these awful days from nowhere. With experience, you learn that these things can happen randomly for no apparent reason. Many times, it has nothing to do with you but difficult situations that are going on in your students’ lives that you are unaware of. Sometimes you discover why things went amiss, but many times you don’t. Just as often, the following day, everything goes according to plan, and you feel like the consummate professional. Such are the ups and downs of being an educator.

I’ve written previously about some of my favorite post-teaching moments. One post was entitled The Delayed Rewards of Teaching https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/2019/08/15/the-delayed-rewards-of-teaching/ and, most recently, an article called Our Future is in Good Hands. https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/our-future-is-in-good-hands/

This past week I had one of those beautiful post-teaching experiences that reminded me why I became an educator. When you’re in the middle of a school year, you have these memorable experiences when you see a child accomplish something remarkable or observe a fantastic transformation in a child’s academics or behavior. While these accomplishments are rewarding, the big payoff often comes years later.

I taught Samy Awwad in third grade several years ago. He was a bright and sometimes mischievous (never mean) boy with a great deal of potential. I had the pleasure of teaching Samy’s brother the year before him, and his younger sister two years after I taught Samy. They all were exceptionally bright students with promising futures. Unsurprisingly, their parents set an excellent example by being educated, kind people, who put tremendous value on education.

Just because a student is intelligent is no guarantee of future success. I saw bright students get sidetracked for various reasons as they became young adults. The most common reasons were dysfunction in the family, childhood trauma, lack of motivation, hanging out with the wrong peers, or substance abuse problems.

Then there are students like Samy Awwad, who not only do well in school but take their natural ability and run with it. Imagine being a sixteen-year-senior, having already received preadmission to Stanford, and starting up a nonprofit organization for young people.

Awwad’s nonprofit is called IMMUNIGLOBAL. http://www.immuniglobal.org/ His primary focus is to bring education and awareness of the importance of vaccinations to the community in fighting preventable diseases such as the measles or flu.

Immuniglobal is not a small undertaking. Awwad built his nonprofit from the ground up, including website design and development, workshops, outreach, and phone education.

He approached the problem of vaccine education logically by first building his website from scratch to provide information regarding immunizations. A couple of the most startling facts on Awwad’s website are that according to the World Health Organization, between two and three million deaths are prevented each year by vaccinations. According to the CDC, a savings of an estimated 42,000 lives occur in the United States per year.

Awwad sees the big picture and comprehends that real change comes at the grassroots level while also understanding the need to work with huge companies. He has partnered with large organizations and institutions such as the CDC, CLOROX, and UCLA.

The level of thought and action that Awwad has taken is inspiring. He recognized the lack of immunizations that were happening in Humboldt County, his place of residence. Humboldt was recently ranked 54th out of 58 counties in California in terms of vaccination rates.

So why do some people choose not to get their children vaccinated? There appear to be several reasons. According to The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the four most prevalent anti-vax philosophies are:

Religious Reasons
Personal Beliefs or Philosophical Reasons
Safety Concerns
Desire for Additional Education
According to a National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) survey, the top reasons for not getting a flu vaccine are:

36% feel they are healthy and do not need the shot.

31% do not like needles.

30% do not think it works.

27% worry about the risks.

While 70% believe it is vital to get an annual flu shot, only 46% say they typically get vaccinated.

Perhaps what is most troubling is that diseases that were once mainly under control are becoming more prevalent again. Measles cases are on the rise. The majority of people who get measles are unvaccinated.

Beyond the probable life-saving gains, vaccines have an economic benefit and cut medical costs throughout the world. When diseases occur, more hospitalizations are the result. The COVID-19 pandemic has added considerable costs and added higher risk to medical professionals.

Awwad realizes that one of the most effective means of communication is to take his knowledge to the community directly. He has made several presentations in K-12 classrooms in Humboldt County. (Most of these have been at the high school level.) His approach helps young people become more educated about vaccines and encourages them to become involved in vaccine education and other current critical issues.

One of the most important local programs that Awwad became involved with was a vigorous vaccine education program at McKinleyville High School. He organized an Adolescent Immunization Poster Contest with the Humboldt County Department of Public Health and some local pediatricians.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the importance of developing a vaccine has come to the forefront. Worldwide deaths have now reached over 600,000 people with several times more than that becoming ill. Even those who make a full recovery from the Coronavirus may have long-term health effects.

Awwad looks at the present and the future to see how he can use his talents and energy. Once a COVID-19 vaccine is released to the public, he would like to present a series of vaccine-related workshops and activities in schools and other places around Humboldt County.

As far as what comes next for Samy Awwad, the possibilities are endless. He is one of thirty undergraduate fellows selected recently at Stanford’s chapter of an organization called “Effective Altruism.” The goal for this two-month fellowship will be to identify the most pressing issues in the world and then decide how best to implement this resulting knowledge in his career.

Awwad plans to take a gap year to continue his work with ImmuniGlobal before enrolling full-time at Stanford. The most likely path for him will be a future in medicine as a physician. Another possibility is for Awwad to study and conduct research in the field of brain diseases. He is always thinking several steps ahead and has several other irons in the fire unrelated to vaccinations. He hopes to use his voice to help minorities and find ways to tackle important issues such as racism and classism.

I find great inspiration from Samy Awwad’s selfless acts to improve his community and make a difference throughout the world. I can’t wait for the next chapter in his life, and I know that his teachers are all proud of the young man he has become. If ever you doubt America’s youth, perhaps Samy and others like him will help change your mind.

Please find some time to check out Pete’s blog, and get to know him and his writing.

Blogger’s Books: Mary Smith

This morning I am delighted to feature a book from Scottish blogger and writer, Mary Smith.

Here is her own bio.

Mary Smith is an author, journalist and blogger based in Dumfries & Galloway in south west Scotland. Her work includes fiction, non-fiction, memoir and poetry.
Her memoir, Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni about her years in Afghanistan, allows the reader to meet some of the women with whom she worked and provides an authentic insight into the life and culture of the country. Afghanistan also provides the setting for her novel No More Mulberries. Her poems have been widely published in poetry magazines and anthologies and her full length poetry collection, Thousands Pass Here Every Day, is published by Indigo Dreams.
She has, working in collaboration with photographers Allan Devlin and Keith Kirk, four local history books published by Amberley Publishing.
Currently, she is contributing to an anthology about life under lockdown and turning her blog, My Dad’s a Goldfish, into a memoir about caring for her dad through his dementia.

Donkey Boy & Other Stories is her latest fiction publication and first short story collection.
Shot through with flashes of humour the stories here will entertain, amuse, and make you think. Mary Smith’s debut collection of short stories is a real treat, introducing the reader to a diverse range of characters in a wide range of locations. A donkey boy in Pakistan dreams of buying luxuries for his mother; a mouth artist in rural Scotland longs to leave the circus; a visually impaired man has a problem with his socks; and a woman tries to come to terms with a frightening gift – or curse.

This review gives you some idea of what to expect from this delightful short story collection.

Testimonial from Margaret Elphinstone, author of The Gathering Night
Whether we’re in urban Pakistan, an old-fashioned travelling circus in Scotland, or repressed suburban Britain, Mary Smith’s stories take the reader right to the heart of a situation. They focus on characters who are disinherited by mainstream cultures. Whether it’s the boy from Peshawar whose father can’t let him stay at school, the adopted child who is marginalised by an identity she can’t recognise, or a woman escaping from lethal oppression, these people have been forced to abandon a part of themselves. The take on this theme varies from first person narrative ironically revealing its own complacency, to an impersonal voice which takes us right to the heart of suffering. The final story is perhaps the most chilling: is the character suffering from all-too-acute perception of cruelty and brutality, or is she simply crazy? In these stories the reader’s position is always ambiguous: are we colluding with dispossession, or are we honestly able to listen?

Other reviews are available via these links.
Donkey Boy and Other Stories by Mary Smith
https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/2017/09/30/donkey-boy-and-other-stories-by-mary-smith-amreading/comment-page-1/#comment-1293

You can find out more about the book, and buy a copy, by clicking on these.
http://smarturl.it/dbaos
http://amzn.to/2jSwDCO

Mary is one of the most consistent and supportive bloggers in this community.
Please try to connect with her, and show her how much she means to all of us.
https://marysmithsplace.wordpress.com – where she blogs about Scotland, history, walks, Afghanistan – and anything that takes her fancy
Twitter: https://twitter.com/marysmithwriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000934032543

Blogger’s Books: Robbie Cheadle

(Due to some kind of WP glitch, the whole of this post appears in italics. I have tried to alter that, but cannot)

I am delighted to feature South African blogger and author, Roberta Cheadle. She is a very popular member of our blogging community, and her cake-making skills have transferred into a range of delightful illustrated books for family reading, written in collaboration with her son.
Read the book, and make the cakes!

Here is her bio.

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle;
Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley under Robbie Cheadle;
Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle; and
Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth under Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

And the new book.

Join Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet on a fun adventure to discover why the milkshake rain is pale and white.
Contains five recipes that children can make under adult supervision

Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook.
Authors: Robbie and Michael Cheadle

A recent review on Goodreads (4 stars)
What fun it must be to live in Chocolate Land where the rain tastes like milkshake – and not boring flavours like vanilla and strawberry, but banana-toffee, peachy-marmelade, honey or nuts. And then one day, the rain is all white and the rainbow pale. Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet set off to discover what is the problem and Sir Chocolate gets a chance to make his own flavours of rain. The fairies made from fondant are very pretty and the recipes are very tempting. We’re definitely making the blondies!

You can connect with Robbie using the following links.

Website

https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog

https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584446.Robbie_Cheadle

Twitter

And here is a buying link for the book, which is VERY reasonably priced in Kindle format.

Please check out Robbie’s links, discover the rest of her writing, and get a copy of this fun new book!

Blogger’s Books: Ann Harrison-Barnes

Today I am featuring a book from North American blogger and writer, Ann. She is totally blind, yet manages to write professionally, and help out many others by promoting them on her blog.

Here is her bio.

Ann Harrison is the author of The Spirit of Creativity: Inspirational Poems for the Creative at Heart. Three of her previously published books are in the process of being revised and rebranded. She has also been published in several anthologies, including a devotional entitled God Things: Hope for the Hurting, alongside Jen Lowry and fifteen other authors. Aside from her work as a Christian fiction author, Ann is a professional freelance writer. She also hosts the Inspirational Journeys Podcast, where she gives authors, creative artists and entrepreneurs a platform to share their stories. When she’s not interviewing special guests, she hosts solo episodes providing book reviews, reading selected poems, and sharing tips and encouragement for aspiring authors.

Her featured book is a collection of poems. Here is what she has to say about it, including a link where it can be purchased.

The Spirit of Creativity:
Inspirational Poems for the Creative at Heart

Ann Harrison’s first book of poems delve into her creative journey, given to her by the Holy Spirit. The first section, entitled A Writers Life, covers her journey from writer to creative dreamer, until she blooms into a published author.
The second section, entitled Seaside Poems, will take you on a walk along the seashore, where the Holy Spirit and your muse awaits to fill your heart and mind with inspiration, pulling you out of your creative slump. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you fill page after page with words, pictures or fill your hands with whatever creative task you strive to undertake, as you read these verses, which come straight from the author’s heart.
The third and final section entitled Poems from the Heart, describes the journey of a lost soul as he gives his heart to Jesus and finds a new beginning. Others describe a narrator’s sorrowful tears melting into joyful music and singing. Some of these verses touch on the author’s spiritual walk with the Lord and the music God has placed within her soul. Open your heart and let your mind wander as the Holy Spirit speaks to you through each verse within these pages.

Purchase link:
https://books2read.com/TheSpiritOfCreativity

You can discover more on her blog, using this link.
https://annwritesinspiration.com/

Please take some time to connect with Ann, and welcome her to this great community.

Blogger’s Books: Julie C. Round

Today I am happy to feature the latest romantic novella from British writer and blogger, Julie Round.

More Fish In The Sea is about a widow visiting a dating agency, and the men she meets.

Julie is a valued member of this blogging community, and has had many books published. She lives by the sea in Southern England.

Here is her short bio.

A former schoolteacher, tutor of dyslexics and Kent County Councillor, I am married to Ben and we have two sons, Martin (Sticky) a journalist and Gordon, a part time actor.
Since retiring to Worthing I have been writing novels and poems. My social life revolves round traditional jazz and folk music.
Please turn to our Book page to find out more about the novels, the Gallery to see what I and the rest of the Sea Scribes have been doing and find my blog at https://juliecroundblog.wordpress.com/

More about Julie’s books can be found here.
https://www.juliecround.co.uk/

This is a link to the book on Amazon. It is available in paperback or kindle format, and is free to users of Kindle Unlimited.

Please try to find time to connect with Julie via one of the links, and buy a copy of her book if you enjoy romantic novels.