Far Too many Elephants


Janet Stafford’s opening line to her recent blog post, “There’s no place like home,” captured my attention because I entirely agree with her. That line led me to read on and I discovered just how much more meaning her novel Seeing The Elephant means.

“There’s no place like home. Unless there are a quantity of elephants about you’re not in India or Africa…”


Another quote from Janet’s Far Too many Elephants:

“Speaking of big bugs, one had already moved in during our absence. His name was Josiah Norton, an industrialist who already owned several mills out east around Paterson and now possessed a woolen mill and uniform factory south of Blaineton. The man knew how to take advantage of the war. The government was more than willing to pony up the cash for his merchandise. But then again, Maggie’s brother Samuel was doing the same thing over at this carriage factory after he had converted to making wagons for the Army.”

“So that’s the set up for a tale woven around human frailty and foibles as they do battle with the power of love and hope. Yessir, Blaineton was headed toward a big blow up of some sort. It was far too many elephants for me to take in.”

Read the full blog post and learn more about Janet’s books  HERE

Stephanie M. Hopkins


St. Patrick’s Day Weekend Book Bundle Giveaway

St. Pat Day Book Giveaway 2018

St. Patrick’s Day Weekend Book Bundle Giveaway for American Residents!

The giveaway ends Sunday night and one lucky winner will be announced Monday morning US Central Time! Best of luck!

Enter to win at L.AP. it Marketing Facebook Page!

THE DAY OF STORMS by Stuart S. Laing Part II

The Day of Storms Final

Photo by Maxine Stewart

I’ve challenged Author Stuart S. Laing to write a story inspired by this photo shared on Facebook a few weeks ago and he accepted my challenge and wrote a short story called The Day of Storms that takes place in The Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, February 5th 1794. Today is Part II and In this story, you will meet Sarah, Rebecca Hopkins and a band of ruthless smugglers.




The Day of Storms Story coverAs the sisters enjoyed the feel of warm air washing over them they were oblivious to the door being locked behind them. They looked around the room to find it was small, barely twenty-foot square with several tables and chairs set across the flagged floor with the only illumination coming from a blazing fire and some tallow candles set on a single table around which sat four men who eyed the girls with grim faces. All were dressed in the thick, warm, hard-wearing clothing of those who made their living hunting the herring shoals in the cold waters of the German Ocean. Their weathered faces were as care-worn as their clothes and not a single smile welcomed the girls to the Dolphin. Only sullen, suspicious and unfriendly eyes stared darkly at them. That sour welcome was an unfamiliar sensation. Generally, they received, by dint of class and breeding, warm words and fulsome praise on how attractive they were. The only ‘compliment’ they heard here was a chuckled, “Aye, they’d dae for warming yer bed on a night like this, eh?”

The youngest of these figures sitting around the table with tankards resting before them was in his middle thirties. The eldest a grey bearded figure in his late sixties. What all had in common the hard-uncompromising look of men who did not welcome strangers into their midst.

“What are you doing letting the likes of them in here, chief?” the eldest man growled around the stem of a clay pipe clenched between stained teeth. “We’ve business needing sorted out, and we don’t need an audience for that.”

“Och, sit at peace, William,” the doorkeeper growled back sharply as he smirked while running his eyes over the sisters. “They’ve promised me five pounds to give them shelter from the storm. And, as you all know, I am a man of my word.”

“Yer a man wanting five pounds,” another man snorted merrily. His smile dissolved into a wicked leer as he added, “Who knows they’re here? They didn’t fetch up in Ainster on their own.”

Sarah, a cold shiver running over her body that had nothing to do with the weather beyond this snugly warm room, swallowed nervously. Forcing a weak smile to her lips she said as pleasantly as she could, “perhaps one of you gentlemen would be kind enough to place a note in our coach? It would let out coachman know where we are once he returns. We would both be so grateful, wouldn’t we, Rebecca?”

Her sister gave her a narrow look before looking back towards the fishermen with a look of disdain barely hidden on her lovely face.

Her look was missed by the men as the doorkeeper said, “Aye, I promised them that one of you would do that very thing.” This was delivered with a hidden wink. “Right, young miss, you write out your note and young Bobbie there will run along to leave it all safe and sound for your man to find. Won’t you, lad?”

The youngest figure scowled but finally nodded in response to the grim look the doorkeeper shot him. All this was missed by Sarah as she produced a pocket book and pencil from the reticule she carried. A moment later the man left with the hastily written note in one scarred hand. As he left the doorkeeper, a tall bearlike figure with massive shoulders and a dour expression on his heavily bearded face, waved the sisters to take seats by the table closest to the fire while the mariners were told roughly to move. As they left they took all but one of the candles with them to sit as far as the room allowed from them. Once seated the men resumed their study of the young women in a brooding silence.

*             *             *

Within a few minutes Bobbie returned, the note still crumpled in his hand as he slammed the door shut behind him and twisted the key to relock it. Neither fact went unnoticed by the girls. With the hand still clutching the note he pointed a finger towards them as he hissed angrily, “It’s the excise man’s coach. They have been sent here by the excise man himself!”

“I know,” the menacing doorkeeper replied with a grim smirk. “I recognised them as Sir Hector’s daughters the moment I saw them. What I don’t know is why he has sent them in here to spy on us.” He rested great fisted hands on the table as he leaned over them. “How many excisemen are waiting out there?” he barked at their shocked faces.

“Excisemen?” Sarah gasped out, her eyes darting from face to face as she struggled to understand what was happening. “There are no excisemen out there. We are alone. No one has sent us to spy on you, sir. I give you my word. Why would there be anyone else?”

“Because your father thinks he can outwit me,” the man laughed without humour. “I’ll give the man credit though. He has some nerve to send his own daughters into the very lair of his prey. He can’t place much value on your lives, can he?”

“What? I don’t understand what you mean…”

“I do,” Rebecca spat out, cutting Sarah’s words off. “These scums are the very smugglers that father has been looking for!”

“Prove it!” The doorkeeper chuckled as he turned his back on the sisters. “Bobbie, go back out there and see what’s afoot. Big George is watching the east road. Find out how many others have come creeping after us tonight.”

“What about them?” the younger man asked with a nod towards the girls.

“That depends on what you find out, doesn’t it? Be on your way, and don’t be o’er long. It wouldn’t be polite to keep the girls waiting to find out what happens next.”


About the Author:

Stuart Laing

Born and raised on the east coast of Scotland in the ancient Pictish Kingdom of Fife Stuart grew up looking across the Firth of Forth towards the spires and turrets of the city of Edinburgh and its castle atop its volcanic eyrie.

He has always been fascinated by the history of Auld Reekie and has spent most of his life studying Scottish history in all its aspects whenever he finds the time between family, work and the thousand and one other things that seek to distract him.

Despite the vast panorama of Scotland’s history, he always finds himself being drawn back to the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Those streets have provided the inspiration for his stories and characters.

He would urge all visitors to Scotland’s ancient capital to (briefly) venture into one of the narrow closes running down from the Royal Mile to get a flavour of how alive with mischief, mayhem, love and laughter these streets once were.

Author Website 

Stuart’s books on Amazon 

Part three of this story will be posted next Friday here at Layered Pages!


Sexuality And Its Impact On History (The British Stripped Bare)

Available for pre-order on Amazon UK and Amazon US

1 + 2018 Sexuality in History Brits Stripped Bare

Previously published at LA.P. it Marketing 

Learn of the scandals and romance that shaped Great Britain. This provocative collection of essays depicts the cultural and societal kinks of the British, from the Anglo-Saxons, Medieval, Tudor, Regency, and Victorian eras. Discover the ménage that changed the course of the Anglo-Saxon throne, go undercover to explore Courtly Love, learn about the business of Tudor and Regency marriages.

Read of a possible dalliance involving Queen Anne Boleyn, and the controversial marriages of Mary, Queen of Scots. Peek into the bedrooms of Victorian prostitutes. Each story provides shocking detail about what was at the heart of romance throughout British history. Would you swig a magic potion or plot to kill your husband in order to marry your lover?

These are just two of the many romantic and sexual customs from British history that you will explore when seven authors take us through the centuries, revealing that truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to love. From bizarre trivia about courtly love, to techniques and prostitution, you’ll encounter memorable nuggets of provocative info that you’ll want to share with friends and co-workers.

It’s all here: Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom, ménage a trois, chastity belts, Tudor fallacies, royal love and infidelity, marriage contracts (which were more like business arrangements), and brothels, kept women, and whorehouses. Take a peek at what really happened between the sheets. Each story provides you with shocking detail about what was at the heart of romance throughout British history.

The Impact of Sexuality in History: The British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, diabolical Tudor escapades—including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots—the Regency, and down to the ‘prudish’ Victorian Era. This scholarly yet accessible study brings to light the myriad varieties of British sexual mores.

About the Authors

Emma Haddon-Wright is from Plymouth UK and a lover of all things macabre & mysterious. She has a BA (Hons) Medieval to Modern European History. She is devoted to her family, history and is thrilled to be included in Sexuality & Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare! You can find her on Twitter @RedLunaPixie

Annie Whitehead spends her life researching and writing about Anglo-Saxon history; the kingdom of Mercia in particular. She is an editor for English Historical Fiction Authors, the winner of the Historical Writers’ Association/Dorothy Dunnett Award, and is a member of the Royal Historical Society. She’s written three novels set in Mercia, blogs at Casts Light upon the Shadow, and was a previous Independent Author Network Book of the Year Finalist. She is currently writing a history of Mercia to be published in the autumn of 2018. Find Annie online at her website  on Facebook and  Twitter @ALWhitehead63

Jessica Cale is a romance author, editor, and historian based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a B.A. in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. She is the editor of Dirty, Sexy History and can be found on Facebook and Twitter @JessicaCale

Maryanne Coleman lives in the English countryside and can be found mainly digging in archives, or her garden. Her passions are King Arthur, Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe. She has many degrees, mainly in English Literature, Tudor History, and Elizabethan Theatre. She isn’t online, so no need to look for her. Although she may often be found at Heathrow Airport waiting on a flight to the French Riviera.

Judith Arnopp’s life-long passion for history eventually led her to the University of Wales How I Review Books..Judith Arnopp_swhere she gained a B.A. in English and Creative Writing, and a Masters in Medieval History. Her first novel, Peaceweaver was published in 2009, quickly followed by two others. Her best-selling Tudor novel, The Winchester Goose lead her to create five more novels covering the lives of Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Parr and Elizabeth of York. The King’s Mother is the third book in The Beaufort Chronicles a trilogy following the fascinating life of Margaret Beaufort. She is researching her eleventh novel. Judith’s non-fiction work has been published in various historical anthologies and she is active online at her  website and at Facebook  and Twitter @juditharnopp

Gayle Hulme was born and brought up in Glasgow, Scotland and after many years of soaking up island life in Jersey, Channel Islands she returned to Scotland via historic Warwickshire, England. Back in bonnie Scotland she now enjoys hanging out with husband Paul, son Jamie and two silly, but adorable dogs, Millie and Spot. Weekdays are spent motivating women as a group fitness instructor. She spends weekends travelling the UK investigating dusty corners of historical castles, palaces and museums. Her passions and fascinations are hugely diverse. In the morning she could be reading about her favourite royal heroine Queen Anne Boleyn and by the afternoon she might be at Ibrox Stadium cheering on the Glasgow Rangers FC. By evening she could be away with the fairies or learning about ancient Hawaiian wisdom. Find her HERE

Dr. Beth Lynne is a freelance editor and author. She has a Bachelors in English (SUNY Albany), Masters in Elementary Education, Special Education (LIU/CUNY Queens), Education Administration, and a doctorate in Education Leadership (Rowan University). Originally from New York, Beth worked as a teacher in the New York City Public Schools before moving to New Jersey, where she worked teaching social studies, science, math, and English to a variety of grade levels. She decided to pursue her passion and self-published four books on Amazon. During this time, she discovered her forte was editing. Thus, BZ Hercules, named after her pets at the time, was born! Beth devoted herself to the art of examining the work of others, creating e-books and print books. This venture has been so successful it enabled her to retire from teaching in 2017. Beth currently lives in sunny Florida with her husband, daughter, and several pets. Contact Beth at her  website on Facebook and Twitter @bzhercules1

Hunter S, Jones is passionate about the history of romance, science and music, a.k.a. sex, drugs and rock & roll. She has a popular history blog, and is a historian for Past Preservers Casting. When she isn’t writing, talking or tweeting about kings, queens and rock stars, she’s living the dream in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband. Find out more at her website  and follow her on Facebook  and Twitter @HunterS_Jones


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Cover Crush: The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

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I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

A debut novel set against a background of hospital rounds and life-or-death decisions that pulses with humor and empathy and explores the heart’s capacity for forgiveness…

THe Queen of HeartsZadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

My thoughts

I love the colors and flowers that shape the heart on this cover. Beautifully done and atmospheric and it also gives you a connection about the story.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Other great cover crushes from my fellow book bloggers: 

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden’s Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum



Discovering John Law’s Homestead by Alfred Woollacott


Alfred Woollacott has written a story about his ancestor John Law in The Immigrant and I am across a blog post on his website about Alfred’s drive down Lawsbrook Rd and thought how extraordinary it would be to travel down the same road your ancestors lived. Can you image all the feelings building inside you and the anticipation of what you might discover further? Below is the first paragraph in Alfred’s post and I want to encourage you to follow the link I provide to read the rest of his fascinating post. -Stephanie M. Hopkins


A Jaguar sedan sped along Route 2 with a map of old Acton laying on the passenger seat for reference. The driver was researching the past of John Law, his distant ancestor, trying to pinpoint where he settled some 350 years earlier. This direct descendant had spent his youth twenty miles west of Acton and frequently traveled Route 2 into Boston. The Concord rotary was an approximate midpoint between Boston and his home. The road used to change noticeably at the rotary. To the west, there were rural towns and a divided highway, and to the east, suburbs and an undivided highway, littered with stoplights and congestion.  The farmland just west of the rotary had changed little since he first saw it in his youth. No matter how often he passed by the farmland, he always had peculiar sensations. Often those sensations reminded him to adjust his speed. If he travelling east, slow down and endure the congestion, and if travelling west, open it up and look out for cops…Read more HERE  

About The Immigrant:

The ImmigrantA historical saga that covers a winter of 1650/1651 journey of John Law, a young Scotsman captured by the English Lord Cromwell’s forces in seventeenth century Scotland during “The Battle of Dunbar”. He survives a death march to Durham, England and is eventually sent to Massachusetts Bay Colony as an indentured servant, arriving aboard the ship “Unity” that was carrying around 150 prisoners of war from different Scottish clans. Now an outcast, and in the sanctuary of the new colony, John starts over as an immigrant in a Puritan theocracy. He is first indentured to the Saugus Iron Works and then to Concord as a public shepherd in West Concord (now Acton). The young man faces obstacles often beyond his control, and his only ally is his faith. After his indenture is served he struggles a near lifetime to obtain title to his promised land. From start to finish “The Immigrant” is an intoxicating journey that follows the travails of John, his faith in God, his good wife and growing family.

Available on Amazon 

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