A non-stop weekend

The last few weeks have been busy for me from a writing perspective and also from a work perspective. I am in the middle of two large projects and they are both requiring extra effort and time so I have been working longer hours again.

From a writing perspective, I have finally managed to finish the re-writing and self editing of Through the Nethergate and Mr Fox is now doing a read of it for me and picking up a few small things I missed before I send it for final editing. He has been quite complimentary about this book and said “it is quite interesting.” High praise indeed from Mr Fox who is not a big fiction reader.

Here is the cover and the blurb:

NEVERGATE full spread

You can find out more about this book on my other adult blog, Roberta Writes.

I have three short stories in a new murder mystery anthology that is coming out in July called Death Among Us. My three stories are all historical murder mysteries with a splash of supernatural in line with my current writing style. I made some memes over the weekend to advertise the book. I was pretty pleased with them and think I am getting better at these. Here is one of them:

Death Among Us - promotion 1

I was thrilled to find a lovely review of my new Sir Chocolate book, Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook and two reviews for While the Bombs Fell. It is so exciting to get a good review and it really makes all the effort of writing the book feel worthwhile.

Sir Choc books - Fondant five elephant

I caught up on my book reviews over the weekend and wrote five new reviews for Goodreads and Amazon. I still have two more to write up this coming weekend and I, by the end of the week, I may have finished my latest audio book too so that will make it three. I don’t like to rush writing reviews as I need to think about them and write them up properly.

I wrote a new historical blog post and that took a bit of time as there was research involved and I did a bit of work too. Oh, I nearly forgot, I also developed a flowchart of my new book idea. That was fun and I am forcing it to fit in finding that my ideas fit in perfectly with all my blog prompts.

My mom wanted me to take her shopping on Sunday morning so off we went together and had a nice time looking at all the new winter fashion items. Somehow, I am the one who had all the packets when we left the shops though.

The best news of all is that my Michael was awarded the designation of Councillor for his school. He has worked very hard to achieve this and I am so proud of him.

I don’t know where my time goes, well I do know but everything seems to take so long to do, doesn’t it? It feels like my days simply fly by.

Enjoy the rest of the week.



#Bookreview – Catching snowflakes and other poems by Victoria Zigler

Book reviews

I am delighted to welcome children’s author and poet, Victoria (Tori) Zigler to the blog today. I have read and reviewed a number of Tori’s lovely children’s books and have recently read her adult poetry book, Catching snowflakes and other poems, which is equally delightful.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Victoria Zigler

My name is Victoria, but I prefer to be called Tori.

I’m an author of poetry and children’s stories, and have been writing since I was old enough to know how, having quickly learned the joy of doing so. Not well at first, admittedly, but nobody’s very good at it when they start out. I’m also a vegetarian, and a huge animal lover – except for creepy crawly things, like spiders and insects, which I just can’t bring myself to love.

Born and raised in the Black Mountains of South Wales, UK, I now live on the South-East coast of England, UK, along with my Canadian husband, Kelly, and my furkids. The latter currently consisting of a degu named Joshua, a chinchilla named Mollie, and a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie. Though how, or why, they all put up with me, I’m not entirely certain.

I’ve got several hobbies; I’m some kind of weird mix of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood, which means I enjoy giving both sides of my brain a good workout, and enjoy academic pursuits and creative ones equally, so you’re just as likely to find me knitting, playing role playing games, or baking, as you are to find me reading scientific papers, watching historical documentaries, or attempting to solve brainteaser puzzles. Although, being totally honest, you’re most likely to find me reading fiction in one genre or another, writing, or playing with the dog.

The other thing you should probably know about me is that I’m completely blind, having lost my sight to Congenital Glaucoma a little over a decade ago, after spending my childhood and teen years with low vision.

I know you are a great reader, Tori, as I see your numerous book reviews on Goodreads and on your blog. You cope extremely well with your blindness and have created a lovely life for yourself and your family.

Who is your favourite poet?

I always have trouble picking favourites of anything. It doesn’t help that my favourites will often change depending on my mood. I can, however, narrow it down to three: Robert Frost, William Wordsworth, and Dylan Thomas, which is more than I can do with most favourites lists.

I see some of my own favourites among these.

What is your favourite poem?

As with all other questions like this, my favourites can – and do – change. However, right now I’d have to answer with “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, for no reason other than I do really like it, and it was the first one that came to mind. For those not familiar with it, here it is:

“Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”

Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem, Tori.

What do you appreciate the most in a poem?

That depends on the poem. Even poems by the same poet bring something unique to the table, and have to be evaluated and appreciated individually. Sometimes it might be the actual words the poet has chosen that I most appreciate. Other times it might be the images the poem evokes, or the memories it brings to the forefront of my mind. It really depends on the poem. My mood can sometimes make a difference too; sometimes being in a particular frame of mind will make a poem speak to me in a different way to how it might otherwise.

I enjoyed this answer, Tori.

Why do I write poetry?

Why do I write poetry? You might as well ask why I breathe, because the answer would be the same: because I have to. Sorry if that’s not quite the answer you were looking for, but it’s the truth. The poems come to me, and I have to write them down. It’s the same with my stories. Sooner or later, I’ll have to write one. I write them because I have to. I share them because I believe art in all its forms should be shared. It’s that simple.

If you specifically mean you’d like to know why I write poetry rather than only sticking to stories, the answer is that I don’t know. Perhaps there’s some truth in the saying that, “To be born Welsh is to be born; not with a silver spoon in your mouth, but with a song in your heart, and poetry in your soul.” I can’t remember who said that, but it’s a quote that speaks to me enough that I used to have a pair of key rings with it on; one in English, the other in Welsh.

Regardless of the reason I do so, I do write poetry, and I love to share my poetry with the world. With that in mind, here’s a poem of mine called “Typo Fairies” for your reading pleasure:

Smiling a contented sigh

The author rubs her aching head,

Before stumbling sleepily to her

Long desired for bed.

A smile plays upon her lips

As she closes her tired eyes,

Imagining five star reviews

And her book winning a literary prize.

Then in the middle of the night,

While the author’s fast asleep,

From their secret hiding places

The typo fairies creep.

Listen to them giggling

(It makes a tinkling sound)

As they use their fairy magic

To move letters and words around.

By the time the author’s woken up

They’ve disappeared real quick.

She won’t see or hear them;

She’ll know nothing of their trick.

She’ll just shake her head in wonder

While exclaiming with dismay,

“It’s amazing how many typos you find

When you look again next day!”

Then she’ll sigh in resignation

And begin the tedious chore

Of making her precious manuscript

Typo free once more.

Another excellent answer, Tori. It is like that for me too. When a poem comes into my head, usually in a fairly complete form, I have to write it down. Thanks for sharing this poem from Catching Snowflakes and Other Poems.

Thank you, Tori, for visiting me and for sharing these entertaining answers to my questions.

About Catching Snowflakes and Other Poems

What Amazon says

A collection of poems of different lengths and styles – some with a hint of humour, others of a more serious nature – exploring a variety of themes, such as animals, nature, emotions, and the world around us.

My review

I found Catching Snowflakes and Other Poems to be a wonderful poetic adventure. The poem has captured some lovely moments in nature and transformed them into beautiful and descriptive words. This book is not only about the wonder and beauty of nature, it peeks and prods into also sorts of interesting areas of life and experience including folk tales and the fairy folk, thought processes, relationships with people, small pleasures and includes some fun and entertaining takes on well know nursery rhymes.

The poems are presented in a number of varied poetic styles, including freestyle, rhyming verse, haiku and limerick. I am not a big fan of limericks but I did find these ones brought a smile to my face.

One of my favourite descriptive pieces in this book, extracted from a poem called “The Dance of Lady Autumn” is as follows:

“Here comes Lady Autumn

In gown of crimson and gold

With amber eyes and russet hair

She’s a beauty to behold.

See her dance among the trees;

Twirling around and around.

Each leaf she touches changes,

Before it tumbles to the ground.

Can’t you just visualise this gorgeous lady, in her array of striking colours, dancing among the trees. I can!

Purchase Catching Snowflakes and Other Poems

About Victoria Zigler

Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids. Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world. She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future. She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Follow Victoria Zigler





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Purchase Victoria Zigler’s books here:



…Along with a variety of other online retailers.


How reading encourages diverse thinking

I am over at Writing to be Read with a post about how reading encourages diverse thinking, an important attribute for our children to develop in our modern, multi-cultural world. Thank you Kaye Lynne Booth for hosting this post.

Writing to be Read

Growing bookworks 2

We all want our children to grow up to an environment free from bias and discrimination. We want them to have opportunities to achieve their dreams and to believe they can accomplish anything. We also want our children to feel included and loved in all situations, from school, to home to religious institutions.

The best way to achieve this is to weave diversity into the fabric of our children’s lives. We can do this in many ways, one of which is by providing our children with a selection of multicultural books which allow them to imagine experiencing life in a different way and from a different perspective.

When you read multicultural books you are transported to a different culture and are exposed to new ideas about housing, food, schooling, transport and religion. I always remember when I read the books written by Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë as a teenage…

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“While The Bombs Fell” – Wednesday’s Bookmobile Experiences “Life In Wartime”! Bravo Robbie Cheadle and Elsie Hancy Eaton!

Thank you, John Rieber, for the amazing article about While the Bombs Fell. John has included some lovely photographs in this post and made it very visual and interesting. If you haven’t visited John’s blog before it is a most interesting and unique mix of food, books and movies and well worth a visit. John’s blog has been nominated for an award at the 2019 Annual Bloggers Bash in the category of Best Entertainment Blog.


Growing Up “While The Bombs Fell”

This Wednesday’s Bookmobile is going back to a time and place when children would routinely have to seek shelter in the London Underground because of bombing over the city!

Imagine living during wartime, in this case World War II in a town outside London – an experience that has been vividly brought to life by a terrific Blogger, Robbie Cheadle and her Mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton – who lived through it!

“While The Bombs Fell” is a great story, told from the point of view of a young girl who lived through it, recounted with the help of her daughter…such as the issue of government gas masks:

“She felt relieved that she didn’t have to worry about her gas mask anymore. The family’s gas masks lay forgotten in their boxes. The British Government’s anxieties about chemical warfare had not materialized.

When fitted to her…

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Story story by Jim Webster – Butterfly Net

butterfly net

I suppose that there are many potential hobbies for young ladies to take up. As most will be taught by their governess to draw and to paint, those with any talent will often progress in this direction. As all are taught to read and write, some take to literary pursuits. As always, many really shouldn’t.

Still, the joy of listening to the smaller number of excellent writers and poets probably makes up for the pain suffered during exposure to the works of their less competent sisters.

So on pleasant days it’s not unusual to see a small coterie of girls or young women out enjoying the sun with their paints or their note pads. They spend a pleasant afternoon and sometimes create a work which gives pleasure. In all candour what more can any of us claim to achieve?

There are others who take up other hobbies. Riding, hunting and fishing all have their devotees. The latter two have the advantage of providing something for the table. Others are captivated by the sciences, gain great joy from studying the intricacies of nature. I would suggest that our better botanical artists are all women, as are any number of illustrators of bestiaries or travel guides.

So when I saw young Jessamine Hailstrong out with a folder and a butterfly net I just assumed that she was another illustrator in the making. Her mother, the wife of one of the city’s leading investors, was renowned for her embroidery. All the temples jostled for her time, and she produced beautiful work which graced the robes of a whole range of functionaries and dancers. Jessamine’s older sisters were also talented. One danced with
effortless grace, another had a beautiful voice, and both were remarkably attractive young women. Jessamine was perhaps somewhat under their shadow and if the truth was told, seems to have gone in awe of them.

On the other hand while she might not match her sisters in some areas, frankly when it came to intelligence she was more than their equal. So you can see why I wasn’t surprised when it seemed she looked set to make her mark in the natural sciences.
Still I confess that I was somewhat surprised at the places I saw her working. She seemed to find things to study and paint in old tomb yards, or in the broken ruins of ancient temples of dubious sanctity.

Several times I noted her sitting cross-legged on an old box tomb, sketching whatever it was she had caught in her net and transferred to a glass jar. I had initially assumed butterflies, after all some tomb yards, especially those which are full and have been allowed to drift into disuse over the past few centuries, are not short of plants pushing between mouldering stone slabs.

Finally on one occasion I had finished my errands for Shena, and had an hour to kill before I went to the house of a patron. So I purchased a bun for my lunch and looked around for a quiet place to eat it. It was a very pleasant day, and it struck me that if the circumstances were suitable I could not merely have my lunch but could continue to work on some verses I was preparing. Indeed it was entirely possible that if I found the right place, inspiration might come. So I drifted into the Fallan’s Ginnel Tomb Yard.

This is one of the oldest in the city and cannot have had a burial in it for a millennium. It’s only because the site is owned by four different temples that it remains unused and unloved. If they could ever agree on a role for it, it would doubtless be developed. But until that unlikely event, it remains a little oasis of peace and tranquillity.

I sat on a slab with my back to a tombstone so weathered the name of the person commemorated was long lost. I ate my bun, drank a little water from my flask and contemplated my verses. In all candour I may have dozed off. I awoke to see Jessamine Hailstrong not two tombs away, sketching busily.

As I stood up, she glanced over and wished me ‘Good afternoon,’ before getting back to her work. As I’d been included in conversation I said ‘Good afternoon’ back. As she was between me and the exit it was not unreasonable for me to walk past her and glance over her shoulder at her work. She was drawing the likeness of a most hideous imp or minor demon. She noticed my interest and gestured at the jar. “Have I captured a proper resemblance?” I looked at the jar and the creature within grimaced back at me. “You most certainly have.”

She returned to her work and I realised I had better return to mine. It was three months later where I got a message from her mother inviting me to discuss some small matter. I confess I was intrigued and so presented myself at the house at the appropriate time. Jessamine was there with her mother and on the table in front of her were numerous illustrations, some just in the original ink, others had been coloured.

As it was explained to me, a family friend had noticed that Jessamine showed a natural ability to sense certain creatures others couldn’t see. So he had provided her with a suitable net which could trap them and a jar which allowed them to be both held and seen more clearly. She had happily thrown herself into the project. Her mother, looking at the quality of the work, wondered if I could help with publication. Of course I recommended Silac Glicken of Glicken’s Printers. Jessamine’s father then approached him to discuss matters, Silac looked at the excellence of the illustrations, discussed the quality of paper and the work to be done on the plates, and a price was agreed. As well as the illustrations, Jessamine wrote a short piece on the nature and taxonomy of the imp illustrated. Later that year the book was published as, ‘The imps and minor demons of Port Naain and its environs,’ I believe it sold quite well; there was a second printing within the year.

Jessamine continued her studies and eventually travelled to distant parts to  complete her education. Apparently she wishes to become a necromancer.

And the hard sell!

So welcome back to Port Naain. This blog tour is to celebrate the genius of Tallis Steelyard, and to promote two novella length collections of his

So meet Tallis Steelyard, the jobbing poet from the city of Port Naain. This great city is situated on the fringes of the Land of the Three Seas. Tallis makes his living as a poet, living with his wife, Shena, on a barge tied to a wharf in the Paraeba estuary. Tallis scrapes a meagre living giving poetry readings, acting as a master of ceremonies, and helping his patrons run their soirees.

These are his stories, the anecdotes of somebody who knows Port Naain and its denizens like nobody else. With Tallis as a guide you’ll meet petty criminals and criminals so wealthy they’ve become respectable. You’ll meet musicians, dark mages, condottieri and street children. All human life is here, and perhaps even a little more.

Tallis Steelyard, Deep waters, and other stories.

Kindle Edition

Amazon UK

Amazon US

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Discover the damage done by the Bucolic poets, wonder at the commode of Falan Birling, and read the tales better not told. We have squid wrestling, lady writers, and occasions when it probably wasn’t Tallis’s fault. He even asks the great question, who are the innocent anyway?

And then there is;-
Tallis Steelyard. Playing the game, and other stories.

Tallis Steelyard. Playing the game, and other stories. by [Webster, Jim]

Amazon UK

Amazon US

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Marvel at the delicate sensitivities of an assassin, wonder at the unexpected revolt of Callin Dorg. Beware of the dangers of fine dining, and of a Lady in red. Travel with Tallis as his poetical wanderings have him meandering through the pretty villages of the north. Who but Tallis Steelyard could cheat death by changing the rules?

If you want to see more of the stories from the Land of the Three Seas, some of them featuring Tallis Steelyard, go to my Amazon page at

Jim Webster Amazon Page US

Jim Webster Amazon Page UK

Tallis even has a blog of his own at Tallis Steelyard blog