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.

sally wedding day 1980

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.

what's_in_a_name

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.

Sally 3

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

SGC-Book-covers-10x

MEET REBECCA BRYN

When I read the blurb Rebecca sent me for for her guest blog I was fascinated to learn she has a historical relative who was transported to Australia. Now that’s impressive it’s no wonder she can write good books – I should know I’ve read three of them and plan to read the rest. They’re all inspired by true tales of the past or modern day scenarios and her books cover a wide range of different topics and genres. There is something for everyone here. So, who is Rebecca Bryn?

ruth coulson 1

Someone recently asked me to describe myself in five words. The first five that popped into my head were lazy, driven, artistic, silent and old. As a child, I lived very much inside my own head, telling stories to imaginary listeners as I tramped the countryside with my cocker spaniel, so spoken words were rare from me, and I’m still not a chatty person. How can I be lazy and driven? It sounds like a contradiction. I procrastinate endlessly over housework: you can admire the dust in my house but don’t write in it. My mother would be ashamed of me.

I’m happiest when I have a project, be it painting the glorious Pembrokeshire coast of home, or creating characters who take me to the ends of the earth and break my heart. The necessity to create, maybe I should have used the word creative rather than artistic, is what drives me incessantly: I’m lazy where it comes to the myriad of daily chores, but never idle.

In my writing, I haven’t shied from things that have hurt me, the screw-ups I’ve made, or the regrets that haunt me: rather, I have embraced them for they’ve made me who I am and allowed me to write stories dragged kicking and screaming from the murky depths of my imperfect being.

Old, I can do nothing about: it crept up unnoticed while I was reading life’s small print and wondering if I could send myself back for a refund. No can do, apparently.

Do my novels have themes in common? Forgiveness and unbreakable love, for to forgive is divine, and true love never ends: it merely accompanies us on the paths along which life leads us.

ruth coulson 5

My novels:

http://mybook.to/SilenceoftheStones

A mystery/psychological thriller. Alana, a young artist, is left a cottage in West Wales by an aunt she didn’t know existed. She finds herself in the midst of a conspiracy of silence over two children who went missing thirty years before. Someone is out for revenge and threatens everyone Alana holds dear.  Inspired by the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and the release from prison of Angela Canning after the evidence regarding ‘cot-death syndrome’ was found unreliable.

ruth coulson 6

 

http://mybook.to/TouchingtheWire

Historical thriller set in Auschwitz and England. A Jewish nurse steps down from a cattle wagon into the heart of a young doctor. He attempts to save his patients from the gas chamber. 70 years later, his granddaughter uncovers his private past and seeks to keep his promise to his Jewish lover. Inspired by my sixth-form tutor, Professor Schaeler, who lost his family in the Holocaust.

where hope dares

http://getbook.at/WhereHopeDares

A dystopian thriller set in the High Atlas Mountains. A young healer is kidnapped to fulfil an ancient prophecy. Her storyteller husband sets out to bring her home, with only a head full of stories and an old friend who must choose between his friends’ lives or mankind’s immortal souls.

Inspired by the horrific way in which mankind is destroying this beautiful, fragile planet.

 

ruth coulson 4

http://mybook.to/OnDifferentShores (Book One of ‘For Their Country’s Good’)

Historical series set in England and Van Diemen’s Land. A young poacher, convicted of killing Lord Northampton’s gamekeeper, is transported for life, leaving behind the girl he loves. Penniless and pregnant, she determines to follow him at any cost.

Inspired by my great-great-great uncle who did kill said gamekeeper and was transported for life. Books Two and Three coming this summer.

www.amazon.com/dp/B071HX3K8W  http://mybook.to/OnCommonGround

And here are all the other contact links for Rebecca. (Can you remember the day when we all had one postal adress? Wasn’t life simple then?)

www.rebeccabrynandsarahstuart-novels.co.uk

www.facebook.com/rebecca.bryn.novels

www.facebook.com/TouchingtheWire

www.facebook.com/ForTheirCountrysGood

www.twitter.com/rebeccabryn1

www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn

On Different Shores the first book in the series will be free on 8th and 9th June, today and tomorrow so grab it while you can! I’m off to do just that.

 

OLD AND USELESS BOOKS

I was reading a book the other day – yes really, I do read, I’m a voracious reader, in bed, the smallest room, during meals if I can get away with it, while not watching the television, you get the picture. But I gave DH (Dear husband) quite a fright when I shrieked with joy the other day. I’d not only found a typo but noticed a plot hole in a book by a very, very famous household-name writer. Yes!! Even the best of us and their top five publishing companies are not perfect.

I still cringe when I think of the mistakes I made with my first book, I probably shot myself in the foot at the beginning of a possible career as an author (who am I kidding I’m long past career time, I’m supposed to be retired). You know the kind of mistakes. The CreateSpace cover taken from a bad photograph, my own personal editing, heck I’d been paid in the past to edit a national magazine so of course I could find mistakes in my own work couldn’t I? No. The print was too small, the paper the wrong colour and it was riddled with typos.

pic-of-book-copy

However in my rose-coloured cloud I didn’t notice any of these things and I promptly ordered 50 paperback copies. What I was going to do with them all I had no idea, but it felt good and I sat for days gazing fondly at the boxes jammed full of my masterpiece.

Then the axe fell. A kind writer friend pointed out a typo, another mentioned a split infinitive, a third casually dropped that adverbs were last year’s flavour and a total no no in modern literature. I raced to my laptop. Called up the manuscript, made the changes and uploaded again in both kindle and paperback. Panic over. Until, I noticed the 45 copies (by now I’d bullied a couple of friends in buying a few) and wondered what to do with them.

Should I give them away? Sell them cheaply? Shred them?

From being a delight to behold, they sat accusingly in their boxes in the spare room.

“We are defective,” they screamed at me every time I walked past. “We cost you a lot of money!” They whined as I tried to ignore them.

“What are you going to do with us?” They wanted to know.

Eventually, as the tally of errors piled up, the corrections made and a new cover, then another new cover and then another one graced the book I bit the bullet and destroyed the lot. Now I finally have this.

Featured Image -- 5978

But that was not the end. Just as I breathed a sigh of relief, I noticed that every other author had matching covers on their series. I looked at Amie books one and two and no they had completely different covers, nothing to tell you they belonged together. I adored the covers, they were brilliant, but they didn’t tell the story inside.

Another, bitter, learning curve.

So back to the drawing board and now they make a set –

but yes, you’ve guessed it, I have several copies of the old versions on the shelves.  Should I give them away? Sell them cheaply? Shred them?

You see if I inflict them on people as Christmas or birthday presents they may be less than impressed and not look for my other books. Most times I’ve grabbed the new version out of the back of the car when someone has asked if I have any handy to sell. (You don’t carry your books around with you all the time? No? What about the bookmarks and the business cards and the inscribed pens?) Personally people are probably horrified when I squeak “Yes, I have all of them. Which one would you like?” The someone was probably expecting the conversation to go –

“Sorry, I have a few at home though.”

“Oh, what a shame, maybe next time?”

“Yes of course.” It was Christmas 2014 when we last bumped into each other wasn’t it?

But oh no, I’m prepared, and I whip open the boot/trunk of the car. But then my hand hovers over the old covers, do I, do I not?

“I must order more Amie 1 paperbacks I mention casually to DH over breakfast.”

“Whatever for? You have a shelf full of them.”

“But those are the old covers, and could you just redo the ones that have awards now?”

He gives me that ‘look’.

So what do you do with early editions?

THE ADVERTISING BIT

I am thrilled to announce that the first book in the Amie series is now available in audio – so now there is no excuse for busy people not to read all about her adventures as you travel to work, go running, cook the evening meal and do the laundry etc. I believe it’s free if you sign up for audio books.

AMIE 1 AUDIO COVER

www.amazon.com/dp/B0725CYNYG

Till next week, take care.

PLEASE DON’T BE MY FRIEND

The other day I posted the following on my Facebook Timeline.

Dear Prospective Face Book Friend, I do understand that you may be looking for pen pals and maybe even a romantic connection, especially if you are posted abroad in a war zone. However, despite this being a public page, I use it to chat to my reader and writer friends and exchange hints, reviews, and other marketing information. So it’s probably not the kind of page you are looking for – besides, I’m a happily married grandmother, who’s rapidly losing the wrinkle war. I hate to decline friends, so I hope you’ll understand and not make a friend request.

Yes, I know I come across as hard, overbearing and pretty unpleasant, but I’m really a softie inside and I don’t like to refuse a friendship, my page is public after all. The problem is, I don’t like to be rude or offend, but then (like many of us) I get bombarded with virtual roses and bottles of drink and even more flowery comments.

I was also hoping my post would deter the ones from humans who, deep down, may not be genuinely interested in me and my books. For example I had one who asked me what I was wearing. Ah, I thought, s/he was curious about writers and their habits, so I told it (with a name like Alex it wasn’t easy to tell). I’m sitting here I wrote in my usual creative gear, IMG_0726my fluffy red and white pyjamas liberally adorned with red reindeer and Xmas trees (I bought them around Christmas time) under my red furry dressing gown with the rabbit on the pocket, a pair of free airline socks and my favourite reindeer slippers. (They may be mooses, I’m not quite sure).

I was then treated to a picture of my new friend. S/he wasn’t wearing very much at all and what s/he was wearing defied comprehension.  DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!

So with the very best intentions, I hoped my post would not subject me to such heart-stopping shocks, (it’s not good to call the paramedics in too often), this post will do the trick I thought.

Sure enough a few minutes later I got a friend request from a dear little granny living in France. She looked so cute and cuddly, grey wavy hair, delightful smile, pretty dress. Great, I thought another fan friend who has heard about my brilliant books and can’t wait to read them, she might even buy one, or two, or three, or four. I cheerfully pressed accept and said how happy I was to connect with her.

In just a couple of minutes she private messaged me, telling me how thrilled she was to be my friend. She lives in France, and she was dying of cancer. How sad I thought, my fingers were poised to send her virtual hugs, hearts and kisses.  She was a widow previously married to an English entrepreneur, (I hadn’t noticed at this point she had a German surname) and he had been killed in a car crash with their only daughter. I reached for my hanky

IMG_0727

and upped my mental reply to include a bunch of virtual roses (I was trying to decide if a bottle of plonk would be suitable as well in this instance). She continued by telling me she had 10.5 million Euro in the bank and if I promised to donate it to various charities….I could keep 20% for myself.

I groaned. Yes, it’s what we called in South Africa a 411 letter – they want your name, bank account number, the date you stopped being breast fed, your inside leg measurement and all your pin numbers.

What a disappointment. Off I go to Facebook to do the blocking and reporting thing – DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!  But FB do send you a nice apology don’t they – saying they’re sorry you’ve been subjected to this.

They can’t still be catching people out with this scam surely? Did s/he think I was born yesterday? Well maybe looking at my avatar…?

Now the big question of course is, she’s given me her private email address, so do you think I can add it to my Mailchimp list so she’ll get my monthly newsletter? I’m a bit worried she might unsubscribe.

You can subscribe if you like http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf

AMAZING AUTHORS

I don’t very often feature other writers on my blog but if I discover their books and I’ve read and loved them, then I want to share them with you.

Colin Griffiths is one such writer.

He was born in South Wales, Cardiff in 1958 and grew up on a council estate built to house the steelworkers. The place was called Underwood, surrounded by trees with just one road in. He was never sent to school – his father was a painter and took Colin to work with him.

Almost everyone worked at the steelworks back then and Colin was no exception. He was a steelworker for 22 years and then studied in his thirties to qualify for teaching and counselling.

He secured a job as national education officer for a trade union, but after 12 years he was made redundant and decided to remain in Yorkshire.

colin-pic

Colin is 58 now and does something much easier, he watches CCTV monitors in a nice warm office. He always wanted to write, and composed poetry in his teens – “they were a bit deep” (his words). He found them 40 years later and published them on Amazon – almost 250 of them – but says they are very raw and unpolished. He also wrote a horror book about Underwood, which he describes as a great grounding for his future books! Colin wrote his first novel ‘Never Say Goodbye’ just two years ago at the age of 56, and he’s currently working on his 10th book.

“I write almost every day, I find it a good release and I often go to bed, and lie awake thinking of ideas and scenarios.”

When Colin discovered self publishing and uploaded his books he received a lot of criticism about editing. (I confess to being one of them).

I didn’t get it at the time. I have to admit and I still don’t know when to use a semi colon. But I do realise now the importance of having an edited book. Grant Leishman has edited five of mine free of charge. He is a diamond.”colin-never-say-goodbye

Colin grew up reading a lot of Steven King books and his own are also in the paranormal or psychological genre. Of the 9 books he’s already published “Life for a Life” is the shortest but the one he holds dearest. He told me the indie author world is a great one and the majority of authors are a fantastic help. He’s come across some whose only intention is to knock and demean. He even had a troll – “in the end it was all so comical.”

colin-and-michelleColin has two children from his first marriage, a boy and a girl and three wonderful grandchildren. Two of his grandsons are talented footballers and he loves watching them play. He’s been married to Michelle for three years, which he says “… proves you’re never too old to find love!”

I still get an amazing buzz when someone purchases one of my books. The thrill of getting a good review is amazing. I write for the love of it now and if people want to read and enjoy what I write, then that is amazing.

I’m certainly in awe of a writer who can write so many books incolin-book-2 such a short time. My personal favourite is The Doll’s House https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017ZCOCCW  The characters in the house come to life at night with murder in mind.

Check out Colin’s books.

Mother  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JLW1A10

colin-book-5Can Francis break the links that tie her to her evil mother? Can David persuade her to lead a new life, with him? Or will her mother stop them?

(Don’t you just love that cover!)

 

 

 

A Life for a Lifecolin-a-life-for-a-life

http://www.amazon.com/dp/BO1F7JKJPO

Gavin was eleven years old when his little brother died. Damien was the youngest of seven when his life was tragically taken away. Did the family pull together in grief?

 

 

Someone Else’s Dream  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EQ1OX7E

It’s been thcolin-book-1ree years since the awful death of his three year old daughter Aimee.. Matt Conner did not take that loss well. For three years he had been medicated to help him deal with his loss. On the third Anniversary of Aimee’s death, he made the mental choice to start …

 

I hope Colin writes lots more books in the future, I’m in awe of what he has achieved against the odds.

Please re-blog and pass the word along to give Colin the publicity he deserves. J

AWARDS IN MIAMI

We finally fell back through our front door last Saturday night after a fantastic week in Florida. We were suffering a bit from jet lag, and DH brought an extra 5 million or so little visitors home too. As a result he’s been sleeping upright ever since. I’ve tried to tell him that’s a small price to pay for being married to an award winning author – he looked less than impressed.

“And a medal winning author at that!” I exclaimed waving the medal in his face. He grunted and reached for the tissues.

silver-medal

Secretly I think he’s quite chuffed and I’m not only thrilled, I’m amazed and flattered and re-energized and I still can’t believe it. It’s such a thrill to think that faceless judges, half a world away, think my writing is worth awards.

A silver medal for Walking over Eggshells in the Inspirational category non fiction and an Honourable mention for Amie an African Adventure. (Personally I think the bright green sticker rf-aimie-1-hon-mention-low-resprettier than the silver one) but Honourable comes after bronze, so she did well too. (Probably much to Amie’s disgust as I shall certainly continue writing about her and putting her through even more horrendous situations).

We stayed at the hotel where the function was held and they ran a shuttle to the Miami Book Fair in downtown Miami. We met up with another writer who – now wait for this – used to teach at the same school in Benghazi, Libya as I had. How likely is that? To meet up in the United States – and as the school wasn’t all that large, there could only have been a couple of dozen teachers there at any one time at the most.

We both drooled at the Readers Favorite book display which was selling copies of our books for St Jude’s charity.

img_0596books-at-miami-book-fairimg_0600

And we also had them on display at the reception desk at the hotel. I threw in a few pens and they disappeared so fast!  (Several of the waiters had them stuffed in their pockets, but you never know, someone might look and log on and buy).

On the Fridbooks-at-hotel-deskay evening we sat and listened to several presentations from major players in the book industry, and I tried to get my head around how I can do all these sort of marketing things from rural Spain. Not so easy, there’s the language barrier for a start.

The event itself was great, with the presentation, the interviews and the pictures.

The extra cherry was talking to and interacting with other authors – book people who breathe, sleep, dream and obsess over books – just like me. Sometimes you sit and wonder who cares about books, with computer games and Xboxes and movies and other stuff like that for leisure time – but they are still out there!

I met authors from all over the world and we swapped information and ideas and networked liked crazy.

All in all a fabulous trip, made even better by travelling up to Tampa to stay with a reader I met on Facebook – who organized something very special for me, but more on that next week.

PS  I sneaked a pic of DH in there somewhere – did you notice?

As usual I got carried away while writing this and forgot to mention links to my books etc. So if you want to find out what all the fuss is about you may like to check out a few.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E8HSNDW   Walking over Eggshells

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LWFIO5K      Amie an African Adventure

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015CI29O4       Amie and the Child of Africa

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M67NRG4   Amie Stolen Future

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QE35BO2     Truth, Lies and Propaganda

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VF0S3RG      More Truth, Lies and Propaganda

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPVB4M8                  Unhappily ever After