Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 10th – 16th January 2021 -1960s music, Breakfasts, Anti-Aging, Book Reviews and Funnies.

Stop by Sally Cronin’s fabulous Smorgasbord blog today and check out this week’s round-up. Some great stuff included: invitations, funny videos, food & recipes, and other fabulous goodies. After you’ve enjoyed looking around, be sure to pass it along so others can enjoy it too, thanks! And as always, thanks to Sally, who (also as always) ROCKS! 🙂

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the round up of post on Smorgasbord you might have missed this week.

There seems to be little let up from either virus or weather this week and apart from a trip the supermarket and a few turns around the garden I have not ventured out relying on indoor exercise options. I am grateful apart from an inquisitive robin who sat on the windowsill one day, nobody has seem me bopping around the kitchen to Status Quo and Tina Turner with a carrot peeler and wearing my apron.

In case you are wondering this is not a new trend of mine.. here I am the first Christmas in our first home 40 years ago. Only I seem to have a glass of sherry in my hand rather than a carrot peeler. For some reason I thought a goose was a good idea for Christmas dinner..more fat than meat…

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#FirstLineFriday Submissions Are Now Closed! Here’s the Answer to Our Quiz, and the Name of Our Winner!


Submissions for #FirstLineFriday are officially closed now. My thanks to all who emailed me with their guesses. Today, I’m sorry—but maybe not surprised– to say we only have one winner. While I was hoping I’d be wrong, I had a feeling this would be a tough one, even though it’s a title sure to be familiar with most, if not all, of you. Still, I think it’s fun and interesting to study these opening lines, and I hope you enjoy this little quiz as much as I do.

Congratulations to our winner today, Jeanne Owens, who blogs HERE.

Now, without further ado, here’s the answer to today’s quiz:

“Left Munich at 8.35 pm on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6.46, but train was an hour late.” is the opening line to Bram Stoker’s classic novel, Dracula.

While I know each of you is very familiar with the character of Dracula, whether you’ve read the original story or not, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Stoker’s book. Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. It introduced the character of Count Dracula and established many conventions of subsequent vampire fantasy. The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of people led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.

Dracula has been assigned to many literary genres including vampire literaturehorror fictiongothic fiction, and invasion literature. The novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film, and television interpretations, and none more famous than the 1931 Hollywood film starring Bela Lugosi.


The hunt is on! Dr. Van Helsing and his accomplices begin the chase to track down the infamous vampire Count Dracula before he completes his quest of moving into England and further spreading the undead disease. Even with the garlic, the crosses, and the holy water, the Count manages to entrance a fellow lady vampire hunter and bring her to the undead side. An invincible foe Dracula may appear to be, but Van Helsing and his group will stop short not even to death itself until they have conquered the most notorious villain of all time.

From Transylvania to England and then back again, this classic 19th century Gothic horror became the cornerstone for the horror genre that boomed in the century to follow.

You can download numerous versions of this famous book on Amazon, including the leather bound version HERE.

And that’s it for this week’s #FirstLineFriday. I’ll be back with another in a couple of weeks, if the bridge don’t go, an’ the creek don’t rise. 😉 Hope you’ll join us then, when the line may turn out to be one you recognize at once.

Thanks for taking a look today! See you next time!

Co-Authorship Part II: Shared Vision

Today’s Story Empire post is by Gwen Plano, and she does a bang-up job of explaining how she and fellow author John W. Howell made co-authoring a book work for them. If you’ve ever considered writing a book with someone, you really should read this post (and John’s earlier one) to get some tips on how to make it all work smoothly. Check it out, and then please remember to pass it along so others can learn, too, thanks. And thanks to Gwen for such an enlightening post. 🙂

Story Empire

Hello SE readers, Gwen with you today, and it’s my pleasure to offer Part II of the four-part series on co-authorship. Last week, John Howell mentioned that he and I wrote a book together. Using examples from our experience, he introduced co-authorship and explained some of the essential components. Today I’m going to build on his post and focus on creating a shared vision. If you missed John’s post, you can see itHERE.

Let’s start with a question. By chance, have you contributed to an anthology? If you have, you know that expectations are explained. You’re given word count limits, a theme, time-frame, and general dos and don’ts.

Authoring a book with another writer has similarities. Instead of multiple stand-alone tales, though, there’s one overarching story that might include a romance, a murder, or an adventure. These subplot threads must be seamlessly interwoven into the one story…

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#FirstLineFriday #GiveawayContest #FreeDownloads

Welcome once again (FINALLY!) to #FirstLineFriday, a little quiz designed to help us appreciate some of the best opening lines in literary history. From the classics of long ago to the latest best-sellers, everything is fair game.

As always, the rules are simple:

  1. Be one of the first five people to email me before the game ends at 4:00pm EST, with the title and authorof the correct book. 
  2. Do not reply here on the blog. Email only:
  3. Honor System applies. No Googling, please.
  4. Submissions end at 4:00 P.M. EST, or when I receive 5 correct answers, whichever comes first.
  5. Winners who live in the U.S. may request a free download of any one of my books for themselves, or for someone of their choice. OR, if they’ve read all of the offered books, they may request a free download of my next publication.
  6. Winners who live elsewhere may request a PDF file of the same books, since, sadly, Amazon won’t let me gift you from the site.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for! I’m predicting this one will be a challenge, but my predictions haven’t been right yet, so who knows? Either way, here’s today’s opening line: 

“Left Munich at 8.35 pm on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6.46, but train was an hour late.” 

Remember, email answers only, please. Thanks! And now off I go to await your guesses. 

When You’re Stuck: WIP Staying Power

Mae Clair has a wonderful post on Story Empire today, entitled “When You’re Stuck: WIP Staying Power,” and I’m sure it will be of interest to many of you. Check it out to see some of Mae’s ideas, then join the conversation to let others know how you handle this sort of thing. (And of course, don’t forget to share far and wide afterward, too, thanks!) Also, my thanks to Mae, for such a super post! 🙂

Story Empire

Hi, SEers. Mae here today for my first post of 2021! I hope all of you had a spectacular New Year. Let’s hope 2021 is going to be FAR BETTER than the wretched mess that was 2020.

I’m going to start this post with a question, and it may seem like a strange one given we’re talking about new beginnings, but—how long do you stick with a problem WIP before abandoning it for greener pastures?

We’re all acquainted with the first flush of love for a new project—the excitement of jotting notes, working up character profiles, and choosing our setting. If you’re a plotter, you’ve worked out all, or most of, the details. If you a panster or planster, you have a general idea of where your novel is headed. Either way, you start with a bang like a racehorse bursting from the starting gate.

And… you’re off!

Riderless horse with racing saddle in full gallop

For a…

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Using a Character Bible – Is it worth it?

Brand new year, brand new chance to work on a new book. But you might want to check out Don Massenzio’s timely post on Character Bibles first. I know some of you are diligent about this, but for those (like me) who have been careless in this regard, Don’s post is a good place to start thinking about getting organized so you don’t forget those important details from earlier books. Check it out, and then please consider passing it along so others get the reminder, too. Thanks, and thanks to Don for giving me a nudge in the right direction. Great post! 🙂

Author Don Massenzio

As I embark on my next writing venture after a 2020 hiatus, I realized something. The equation of my age plus the stress of 2020 and the length of time since I’ve written a Frank Rozzani book has added up to me forgetting the details of many of my familiar characters. I remember reading a while back about having a character bible, a book of character profiles. The article I read talked about how this is especially important if you write a multiple-book series with the same characters.

At the time, I said to myself, “I’ll never forget these characters. They’re part of me.” Well, as I get older, I’m pretty sure there are actual parts of me that I’ve forgotten.

As I try to write for my tried and true characters, I find myself searching my previous books for things like dates, names, hair and eye color and other…

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#GuestDayTuesday – Subject A36 by Teri Polen

Today, please help me welcome our special guest, author Teri Polen, featuring her latest book, Subject A36. I’ve read this one, Folks, I can tell you it is terrific. It’s Young Adult written so that we “OLD” adults can enjoy it, too, and I did, every minute of it! In fact, I’m eagerly awaiting the next in the series. So, without further ado, let’s let Teri share some fun information about herself and her work. Teri, the floor is yours!

Thanks, Marcia!

If you’re a regular visitor at my blog, you know that every October for the past several years I’ve hosted Bad Moon Rising, which features thirty-one indie authors of horror, paranormal, and supernatural (or really any genre that falls under that umbrella).  Other than the book info, there’s also a short interview with both fun and writing-related questions.  While brainstorming ideas for this guest post, it occurred to me that I’ve never answered any of my own writing-related questions from October 2020, so I decided this was my chance.  I guess it’s me interviewing me.

If you had to give up snacks or drinks during writing sessions, which would be more difficult?

Definitely drinks.  I don’t snack while writing, but I’ll always have either a Diet Coke or water beside me.  If I’m writing at night, you’ll find a glass of red wine.  Sometimes I sneak in a hit of chocolate before I start—dark chocolate Hershey Kisses or Reese’s Thins.

Do you write to music?

Yes!  I usually have a playlist for each book.  Music inspires me and helps me visualize the scene as it plays out.  Sometimes lyrics give me ideas.  When I wrote The Gemini Connection, the twin brother main characters had different musical preferences.  Evan wanted my favorite genres—hard/alternate rock, but Simon demanded classical, a type I don’t mind, but it’s not something you’ll find in my music library.  Those boys were polar opposites, but I sure miss them. 

What was the hardest scene to write in your featured book?

It’s hard to describe without giving away spoilers, but I’ll try.  My MC, Asher, lost his family at a young age, but is now part of a found family.  There’s a scene where he experiences devastating pain that just ripped me apart.  It took me several days to write it, and I still wonder if I got it right.  The intensity was hard to convey.

I’m thrilled to say that Subject A36 was voted one of the 50 Best Indie Books of 2020 on!  With the quarantine and silent characters plus recovering from COVID, the sequel has been a long time coming, but I promise I’m working on it.  Hope you enjoy the A36 excerpt below.  It’s from Asher’s point of view when he was eight years old. 


“Asher!”  Mom gripped the porch railing and called for me.  Her voice cracked and was laced with tears.  Dad vaulted over the porch railing, landed solidly on the grass, and frantically scanned our expansive yard. 

My stomach clenched.  Something was very wrong.  “Over here!”

Dad’s gaze locked on mine.  “Code Exodus!  Now, Asher.  Run!”

Was this another drill?  We’d practiced twice a week, the times always unexpected, without fail for as long as I could remember.  Drills were a regular part of our life, like eating, sleeping, and homework.  Protocol was pounded into our brains.  There could be no hesitation. 

But this felt different.  Dad’s expression was tight and urgent.  Tears streamed down Mom’s face, and I knew.  This was no drill.  It was real this time.  We’d been found.  Code Tribe—we leave together.  Code Exodus—we leave without our parents. 

Code Exodus rules.    

Grab the backpack.

Leave immediately. 

Don’t stop for anything or anyone.

Run to the Wallaces.

When my sisters could no longer keep up, hide them and keep running.


If genetic engineering could guarantee you and your family perfect health and unparalleled beauty, would you pay top dollar for it? Would you kill for it?

Residents of the Colony would. And do.

Only the Insurgents can stop them.

Seventeen-year-old Asher Solomon is a premier operative with the Insurgents. He and his team have rescued countless hostages, saving them from painful deaths in Colony labs as desirable genetic traits are stripped from their bodies.

He’s also suffered more losses than anyone should have to.

Then Asher gets intel that might give his people the upper hand. The Colony is searching for Subject A36. If the Insurgents determine the subject’s identity first, they might be able to turn the tide of the war.

Asher and his team embark on their riskiest mission ever, and the stakes have never been higher. But even if he survives the physical dangers, the devastating secrets he uncovers might destroy him. 

Buy Subject A36 HERE

Teri Polen, Author

Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.  The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium.  She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat.  Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.  Visit her online HERE

Contact Links:


Hi, Everybody! Just a quick update for you, so you’ll know I haven’t forgotten you guys, or my promises that The Write Stuff was going to become more active in the weeks ahead. And that’s going to start happening very shortly, honest! 

I did have to take a slight break again due to my daughter and family coming to visit from Denver. They’ve been here almost two weeks, and it has been a great time, filled with a ton and a half of fun. (A two-year-old granddaughter and a 7-year-old grandson can really fill a house with noise and laughter, and an enormous amount of activity!)

Today is packing up day, though, and they will be heading back to Colorado tomorrow. I’m so sad to see them go, but also totally worn out (in the best way) from all the things we’ve been up to. (Gramps and Granny haven’t seen that much action in years!) 

Lest you think we weren’t being truly careful, let me assure you that my daughter was tested 3 times before the visit, and the four of them quarantined themselves for two weeks. And all of our activities have been “open air” and in low traffic areas. They’ve gone canoeing several times, gone to the (non-crowded) beach three times, and, BEST OF ALL, they gave me a private river outing on my friend Doug’s eco-tour boat, and my son & family came, too. So just the 9 of us, the captain in the back, and Doug, who has been isolating for months, just like me. I hadn’t been out on the St. Johns in about a year and a half (gasp!) and it was glorious. Perfect weather and a fabulous time for all of us.

(Reya,  SIL Myres, Kaelen, Me, Hubby Mark, Son Jason, Granddaughter Tabitha, Daughter Erin, and DIL Jenny)

What a motley crew, eh? But boy, did we have fun! 

Starting Sunday, life will be getting back to normal around here, such as normal is during on ongoing pandemic. But the best part is that I will have time to check in with my favorite blogs again, and to get some fun things going here. I do have a guest on Tuesday, and am planning a #FirstLineFriday next week, too. I’ll be running #WildlifeWednesday a couple of times a month, if all goes well, and in general, being a lot more active here on The Write Stuff. Hope you’ll visit often!

Now, go ye forth and enjoy your life, whether it’s quieter than usual right now or not. There’s still loads of stuff we can do, even when staying home, after all. And personally, I’m hoping to get back to my WIP and get that story told! What are YOUR plans? (Inquiring minds wanna know!)


Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Mystery #Paranormal – The Light (Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4) by Marcia Meara

Had a wonderful surprise this morning when Sally Cronin reviewed The Light, my fourth Wake-Robin Ridge book, over on her fabulous Smorgasbord blog. Released at the very beginning of the pandemic, this book didn’t get much promotion from me, so I’d be extra grateful if you could take a moment to share her post far and wide. Thanks so much, and my heartfelt thanks to Sally for such lovely words. 🙂 ❤

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I loved the Wake-Robin Ridge series by Marcia Meara and this week I have read book four in the series… The Light.

About the book

The Magic is Back!

For Robert MacKenzie Cole—or Rabbit, as he’s known to all—the chance to accompany his family to see North Carolina’s infamous Brown Mountain Lights has him nearly dizzy with excitement. And what better night to watch this unexplained phenomenon unfold than Halloween?

But when the entrancing, unpredictable lights show up, Rabbit gets far more than he bargained for. He’s gifted with what folks in the Appalachians call “the Sight,” and it’s this extrasensory perception that enables him to spot the one light different from all the rest.

In his biggest challenge to date, Rabbit—aided by his daddy and his newest friend, Austin Dupree— begins a quest to learn more about the mysterious light. Their investigation unveils a web of cons and corruption…

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