MEET HILARY COOMBES

My guest this week is an author I have actually met. Yes, a real-life meeting, we even shook hands, kissed in the Spanish tradition, and drank coffee together but she’s also a cyber friend of course.

She’s written two books and is currently formatting the third one. But enough waffle from me – over to Hilary.

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I’ve always wanted to write, but then if you’ve never written anything you don’t know any better do you? It started with a couple of successes with magazine articles a lifetime ago and developed from there to short stories and eventually full-blown novels.

Alongside the day job, I decided to become a novelist to put my talent for making up stuff to good use. At the time I mistakenly thought I’d have the power to make my characters do my bidding … it turns out the tail very much wags the dog. My main characters wake me up in the middle of the night and tell me they don’t like what I’ve written about them. I usually end up having to get up and rewrite in the small hours! This is why I sometimes need matchsticks to keep my eyes open during daylight hours.

You may know that I live between the Costa Blanca, Spain and Oxfordshire, England and I adore both my countries, which is probably why they often feature in my writing. I think I must be the luckiest person on earth to live my lifestyle. I wouldn’t change places with anyone – not even the Queen of England or Posh Spice! J

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I’ve had a love affair with Spain since my first visit as a teenager. The good weather, great people, Mediterranean food, scenic beauty, not forgetting the wine of course, and I must confess I have a weakness for a glass of red.

Not sure whether you will really find this bit interesting, but I’ll include it in case you’re wondering which country gave birth to such a lucky soul. I was born in Devon in the south west of England, although when I was adopted I moved to Bristol and I grew up there. I very much feel like a Bristolian and I can talk the talk if need be (‘Ow bee mee luvver?). As an adult, I moved around a bit, as you do, and luckily nowadays we can all live almost anywhere we choose, as the Internet easily keeps everyone in touch.

I love humans (well, most of them); long thick hair (mine is incredibly fine); sunshine; eating al fresco (especially breakfast as this seems decadent somehow); plus writing of course.

 

I have won several writing awards, two of which I am particularly proud of (probably because of their Spanish connections)  … the 2015 Spanish Radio short story competition, and the 2017 Ian Goven Award. I won’t name all the others – far too uninteresting.

I have found that the writing community are one of the loveliest bunch of people you could hope to meet, especially indie writers. I have been lucky enough to write for the big publishers (Macmillan), the small publishers (UPBooks) and lately I have chosen to go it alone as an indie publisher. It’s hard work, but boy have I learned a lot and the support of other indie writers has been there every step of the way.

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My personal challenge for my last novel BEYOND PROMISES was that wanted to put myself in a man’s shoes.

Charlie the main character is male. His powerful politician father parts him from the love of his life, and then the reader follows his exile in 1980’s Spain where he becomes trapped in a criminal underworld. The story follows his life through to the present day. It is a story of passion, heartbreak and humour.

It had very good five star ***** reviews, but to be honest this face-to-face encounter is my favourite feedback  –

I was sat in the local laundry when a lady I had never met before tapped me on the shoulder. ‘You’re that writer lady, aren’t you?’

I was amazed (I have no idea how she knew me, I can only imagine it was word of mouth). ‘Um, y-yes.’

‘I’ve just read your book, Beyond Promises.’

‘Oh.’ (I wondered what was coming next).

‘I want you to know it’s the best book that I have read in the last twelve months. It’s fantastic. I couldn’t put it down.’

I could have kissed her! (I didn’t), but it was such a lovely thing to hear.

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My next book is due out in July 2018, and once again it was born because of a challenge to myself. This time I decided I wanted to write short stories with a theme, so ‘Short LOVE Stories’ was born. Readers are going to be treated to love in all its guises, from brotherly love, love of an artist, elderly love, child love, and even the traditional boy meets girl type love, but of course there are no certainties in love are there, so the themes range from “Game. Set. Heartache” to “Passionate Crime”, of course, sprinkled with humour along the way.

Thank you for coming along with me on Lucinda’s blog today, it’s been great to talk with you, and thank you, Lucinda, for inviting me to be your guest.

I’d love to hear from any reader that would like to get in touch, and there are many ways you could do this. I run a webpage, a blog, and I endeavour to amuse people on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so do and come join me

http://hilarycoombes.com   (my new blog is here)

https://medium.com/@HILARYCOOMBES   (my old blog – has writing tips as well as topical news articles about Spain and the UK)

https://facebook.com/hilary.coombes.94

http://twitter.com/HILARYCOOMBES

http://www.instagram.com/hilary.coombes/

Thank you, Hilary and we’ll be meeting up for coffee again very soon. You can read more of Hilary’s work as she’s contributed a short story to the book her creative writing group is preparing to publish to commemorate their 10th anniversary – I’ll keep you updated on that as soon as I know more.

Until next time, take care.

 

MEET SALLY CRONIN

I’m really thrilled to have Sally as my guest this week. She is a tireless supporter of us Indie authors with lots of exposure (of the polite kind). She’s set up an online book store where she features authors and their books so it’s the very least I can do to return the favour. Do look out for her blogs, Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life they are always fun to read. How Sally finds the time to write books with all the time she spends helping other writers I’ve not the faintest idea, and moving from Spain to Ireland – I hope I’ve got that right Sally?

But that’s quite enough from me over to Sally, and we are all about to learn something very, very important.

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What’s in Name?

Sally Cronin has always been fascinated by names and their origins. Having met a number of people over the years who had been named after historical or famous people, she thought it would be interesting to write stories about men and women who then have to live up to the previous owners reputation. The twenty stories are about life, love, celebration and the overcoming of challenges by extraordinary people.

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In the first volume of What’s in a Name, we discover how Brian carries on the family high flying tradition with its origins in the caves of ancient man. How David fought gallantly in the First World War against the might of the enemy, and now stands with his comrades each year to pay tribute to those who did not return. Or how Grace finally achieved her dreams that filled her days in the orphanage.  All of the men and women in the stories bring a new dimension to their names that they can be proud of or be remembered for.

In a day and age where those in the spotlight name their children after football teams, capital cities or simply a colour, it will be interesting to see if the classical names of the past will survive.

Reviews and buy Link for What’s in a Name

Publisher’s website at reduced price of £1.95: http://www.moyhill.com/wian/index.html

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

All books available: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Sally’s other passion is healthy eating.

Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 150 kilos by Sally Cronin

Thirty years ago obesity was a rarity amongst children, and adults, and the related health problems were restricted to a small proportion of the population. Today, it is an epidemic and as we expand our waistbands we are forced into increasing our financial investment in health care for the resulting medical problems that can be life threatening.

There are a number of factors involved in obesity and not all of them are related to the amount of food that we consume. But it is directly related to the type of food we eat.

Our current obesity crisis has been fuelled by the ‘expert’ governmental advice that demonised fats in favour of a high carbohydrate diet thirty years ago. Whilst moderate wholegrain carbohydrate consumption has nutritional benefits for the body, the wholesale reduction in our diet of healthy fats has had a devastating impact on our health.

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Healthy fats have an essential role in the health of our major organs including our brain and heart, and play a part in maintaining a healthy cholesterol balance. Cholesterol is another naturally occurring substance in our bodies that has been treated with a shotgun approach to reduce its levels. Cholesterol is needed in many chemical reactions within the body including the production of hormones. Which makes it even more ironic, that pills are being prescribed to reduce cholesterol in men and women, at precisely the same time their hormones are already on the decline.

If you have a population with a diet that is predominantly carbohydrate, especially when it is refined white and often sugar laden such as white rice, packaged white bread, cakes, biscuits, pies and desserts, there is an immediate rise in the number of people who have diabetes. When blood sugar levels are high, any excess sugar is turned to fat, usually around the belly area

This white diet begins in the womb with the mother’s consumption of white carbohydrates and continues in sweetened formula and canned baby food. Once a child is eating solids and is given industrialised foods, chemically concocted from white flour, sugary cereals with artificial sweeteners, refined sugars and Tran’s fats, the reason for the steep rise in childhood obesity is identified.

After studying nutrition and the human body twenty years ago, I stopped eating all industrially produced foods and cooked from scratch. I ate a handful of wholegrain carbohydrates and eliminated sugar except for honey. I lost 70 kilos in 18 months and my key indicators such as Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol all returned to normal levels.

Size Matters was based on my journal that I kept for those 18 months and also the programme that I designed to help me lose the weight. I went on to share that programme with over 2000 clients over the last 18 years, and have seen the results in others, as they lost the substantial amounts of weight.

The reality is that you can have some of the foods we all enjoy such as ice-cream, chocolate and Danish pastries. But it cannot be every day and for every meal. They have gone from being weekly treats to daily staples and that is one of the key elements in the rise in obesity levels.

The other element is that our activity levels have dropped from childhood to middle-age.  We used to walk to school, play for a couple of hours each day in the street or garden, play games at school three times a week and spend hours out in the sunshine and fresh air.  The amount of PE offered in school continues to fall and is now under two hours per week. Children are also easier to protect when they are behind a computer or in front of a television.

Families were lucky to have one car in the family, now there are usually two. Instead of walking to the shops every day for fresh produce we go in the car once or twice a week. Or we order online and bulk out the order with extras to reach the £50 needed for a free delivery. We take advantage of the buy two get one free and we abide by the use by dates throwing away food, buying more and eating it all before it goes off.

We are eating more food each day than ever before without any thought of how many calories we need daily or how much we are consuming. Little realising that one Danish pastry would require a six mile walk to work off.

Food is wonderful and I certainly do not deprive myself but something always pulls me back from too much indulgence. The memory of how I felt when I weighed 150 kilos could not climb stairs, take a bath, go on an airplane or was told that I would be dead by the age of 45 from a combination of lifestyle related diseases.

We are the ones who decide what we put in our mouths and we should not hand that responsibility over to the marketing department of a food company whose only interest is getting you to consume more food.

Size Matters and Sally Cronin’s other books are available through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2/

Further reviews: Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Blog: Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

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