Sue Vincent is a wonderful blogging community member who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person at the bloggers bash. She is a lady of considerable talents, a founder member of the Silent Eye, (school of consciousness) and her sweet dog Ani has his own cute blog! https://thesmalldogs.blog/
I am pleased to be one of many bloggers sharing The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic.
The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic begins tomorrow on February 1st. There is a request for donations that will go directly to Sue and her family, and Charli Mills has graciously set up a PayPal functionality on the Carrot Ranch post that will give the cash directly to Sue.
For those that do not know, Sue has been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. I’ll let her explain most of it through her blog, but suffice to say it has added a lot of unwanted difficulties and challenges. Those that follow her probably know already that she has been a carer for her son, who gained several disabilities as part of an attack, and the cancer has made it difficult or impossible for her to continue in that role. Covid also hasn’t helped. Because she’s been a carer for so long and not made as much money as she could have otherwise, the core group of the Rodeo Organization Team has decided to hold this fundraiser.
Sue Vincent is one of those special bloggers that inspires people all over the world. Readers have long been galvanized by her posts about mythology, about ancient ruins and medieval churches, and her daily #midnighthaiku. Even more have participated in and grown as a result of her #writephoto prompts. In addition to posting her prompts, Sue has tirelessly supported other bloggers by sharing others’ responses to her 19,000 and counting followers.
Recently, Sue has been faced with a new and difficult challenge: lung cancer. You can follow her blog to find out more directly from her. The Covid pandemic has served not only to pose a specific threat to a person with a severe respiratory illness, but it has caused loss of human connection through self-imposed quarantine.
Now it’s time for Sue to receive something back from the community she’s been a cornerstone of for a decade. Let’s bring the Rodeo into Sue’s house through her computer, and let’s come together with hearts full of joy. Join us for the Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic at the Carrot Ranch – a contest, parade, and celebration all in one! There are many ways to participate. One is to visit the prompt image, “Hidden”, at the Carrot Ranch. The prompt image and entry form will go live on Monday, February 1st, 2021. Enter a flash or a poem by Friday, February 19th, 2021, and you could win either $100 or a copy of one of Sue’s books. The form will allow you to give a small donation for Sue and her family, and a link can be found on the contest page. The winning entries will be announced at the Carrot Ranch on March 22nd, 2021.
If you’re not ready to rodeo, there’s always the “Parade”. Reblog one of Sue’s posts from any of her sites (Daily Echo or France and Vincent) with a comment about why you found it special. Follow her blogs. Read one of her books, then leave reviews where you can. Several people are already gearing up for the parade – so feel free to check out other people’s blogs for suggestions.
Also, go ahead and reblog, tweet, Facebook, or somehow otherwise share the contest! 99 word literary art is a fantastic way to celebrate a blogging hero and very deserving person.
Saddle up, everyone! It’s time for a Carrot Ranch Rodeo like none ever held before. The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic begins on Monday, February 1st, and it’ll be a TUFF prompt to fit within 99 words. See you at the Ranch, buckaroos!
No More Mulberries is a story of commitment and divided loyalties, of love and loss, set against a country struggling through transition.
British-born Miriam’s marriage to her Afghan doctor husband is heading towards crisis. Despite his opposition, she goes to work as a translator at a medical teaching camp in a remote area of rural Afghanistan hoping time apart will help are see where their problems lie. She comes to realise how unresolved issues from when her first husband was killed by a mujahideen group are damaging her relationship with her husband and her son – but is it already too late to save her marriage?
I really enjoyed No more Mulberries. The story’s strength lies in its cultural detail, and in its great variety of characters. The tale transports you away to Afghanistan to a country we all have heard a lot about, but few have ever been there. It doesn’t shy away from mentioning the truth of living in Afghanistan where losing face and a woman’s place and freedoms are far different than in the west. It also touches upon the stigma of leprosy. And yet, with all the trials and tribulations there is a sense of how much Miriam loves this adoptive country, so much so, that she decides to convert her faith and become a muslim.
It is a slow burn of a story, with much detail in the beginning explaining the path that took Miriam from Scotland to living in Afghanistan. It is also a love story, and in some ways a love triangle between the ghost of her dearly departed first love, who was killed, and her new husband Iqbal with tensions apparent especially towards the end of the story.
The ending was emotionally powerful and brought all the threads of the story to a satisfying conclusion. I began to understand Miriam’s motivations and her actions.
A well-written, engaging story which I would highly recommend especially to those who appreciate cultural stories about family, marriage, love and honour.
Congratulations to Colleen who has now moved into her new home in Michigan. I wish her much happiness, and many happy writing and reading days there.
NEWS – My poem this week is one to be included in a new poetry and photography book I am currently working on called Lockdown Innit, a light-hearted collection highlighting the absurdity of this time. I am also working on another poetry book called Do What You Love! It is a race to see which I will finish first…
So, about this Lockdown Innit, or a particular a swan who I saw during the first lockdown.
Thrilled to announce I am a contributing author in Dan Alatorre’s anthology with my latest horror story: The Great Pottoo. The story is inspired by a creepy flat I spent an evening in at a writing conference I attended!
From the creators of the #1 bestselling horror anthology The Box Under The Bed and its #1 bestselling sequels Dark Visions, Nightmareland, and Spellbound comes Wings & Fire, a horror anthology with 24 stories from 16 authors.
Two high school girls discover an old book with strange that causes strange things to happen. As they learn more, they realize the book has unusual powers and may be a link to a mystical world and the people who “reside” there. But merely opening the book has its own repercussions, and someone you thought was a friend may suddenly not be. In a new world you don’t understand, can you ever be safe again? Tremble along as this brilliant collection of stories reveals witches and wizards, fools and kings, lovers and demons – and a thrill ride that any horror fan will enjoy! Compiled by USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre, this anthology of horror once again unites the minds and talents of more than a dozen amazing authors.
Wings & Fire will send you into the foggy twilight of the eerie and macabre, with heart stopping stories from:
USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre (The Gamma Sequence) award-winning bestselling author Allison Maruska (The Fourth Descendant) award-winning bestselling author Roberta Eaton Cheadle (Through The Nethergate) award-winning bestselling author Betty Valentine (A Twist Of Starlight) award-winning bestselling author Alana Turner award-winning bestselling author Christine Valentor award-winning bestselling author Adele Marie Park award-winning bestselling author Frank L Parker (Called to Account) award-winning bestselling author MD Walker award-winning bestselling author Heather Kindt award-winning bestselling author Dabney Farmer award-winning bestselling author M J Mallon (The Curse of Time 1: Bloodstone) award-winning bestselling author Geoff LePard (The Harry Spittle Sagas) award-winning bestselling author Ellen Best and introducing Jessica Bakkers (Guns Of Perdition) and Susan Lamb
Perfect for Halloween or any time, these stories will make you think twice before spending the night alone, watching TV with family, or even going on a casual boat ride.
CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.
NOTE: American and British spelling inside. Of the 23 stories contained in this anthology, none are part of any larger work.
I’m pleased to announce a new release for author Heather Kindt.
I just love the cover and graphics!
Blurb – Most villains meet a likely doom by the end of their book… most villains are not Enders. With the power of the codex, the Wanderer sends most of the Golden Recluse into their books and Laney must rush to save them from their own writing. With William, she crosses the page into a horror novel filled with bloodthirsty birds, a romance paperback where, to their dismay, they become the main characters, and a children’s picture book that’s not as innocent as it seems. With each second that passes, the threat of the Wanderer’s pen threatens to end the Weavers.
With everything at stake, Laney realizes that she’s part of something bigger, and it all comes down to a choice that the Wanderer has always wanted her to make: Will she save the man she loves, or the family she’s only just discovered?
The much-anticipated release of Sinners & Saints Anthology is FINALLY HERE!! I’m thrilled to announce this impressive lineup of award winning, best selling, and up and coming authors as they’ve come together to compile a multi-subgenre Romantic collection. From Romantic fantasy, to Romantic Drama and everything in between, the Sinners & Saints collection offers something for everyone! There are 17 authors total bringing to the table 17 novellas that are sure to leave you feeling hot, shocked, and perhaps even craving a little sin of your own. Not only that, but there are some pretty cool pre-release purchase incentives, and an Amazon giveaway that will CONTINUE THROUGH RELEASE WEEK! (incentives available until Jan. 17th)
BLURB: Sometimes it takes a Saint to love a Sinner. There’s something for everyone in this collection of 17 romance stories from today’s USA Today bestselling, award-winning, and rising star authors. From reluctant billionaires to displaced gods, century old vampires to young lovers just about to graduate high-school, love strikes where it will, and who’s to say a Sinner is any less deserving of happiness than a Saint?
Let us tempt you to take a walk on the wild side, unleash a little bit of the sinner inside you to find that romance you’ve always been waiting for. These original stories are packed with unforgettable characters, amazing romances, and intense emotion that will leave you on the edge of your seat waiting for more. From sweet to sultry, these stories will have you reading long into the night. Fans of Mary Higgins Clark, Stephanie Meyer, Danielle Steel and Suzanne Collins won’t wait to misbehave for Sinners & Saints.
Don’t miss your chance to get this set before it’s gone! The sins will stack up and the saints won’t stay forever, so make sure to grab your copy of these 15+ titillatingly delightful stories when you scroll up and one-click today!
With stories from: Shaunna Rodriguez (AW), MA Abraham, Hannah Earl, AnnaMarie Gardner, Deborah Garland, Madison Granger, BK Harrell, Angelina Kerner, CA King (USAT), Darlene Kuncytes (AW), Megan Kuykendall, Andi Lawrencovna, Didi Oviatt, Crystal StClair, SE Winters, Tricia Daniels and Payne Craven.
I’m thrilled to be a contributing author in Dan Alatorre’s latest Box Under The Bed anthology with the wonderful horror writing team of:
Allison Maruska (The Fourth Descendant,) Roberta Eaton Cheadle (Through The Nethergate,) Betty Valentine (A Twist Of Starlight,) Alana Turner, Christine Valentor, Adele Marie Park Frank L Parker (Called to Account,) MD Walker, Heather Kindt Dabney Farmer, M J Mallon (The Curse of Time 1: Bloodstone) Geoff LePard (The Harry Spittle Sagas,) Ellen Best and introducing Jessica Bakkers (Guns Of Perdition) and Susan Lamb.
More about that soon…
To pre-order…. Wings & Fire releases January 15th.
Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet is a collection of short stories with scattered poetry, reflecting the complexities of life, love and loss.
The stories in the collection dip into the lives of men and women who are faced with an ‘event’ that is challenging and in some cases life changing.
Even something as straightforward as grocery shopping online can be frustrating, and a DNA test produces surprise results, the past reaches out to embrace the present, and a gardening assistant is an unlikely grief counsellor. Romance is not always for the faint-hearted and you are never too old for love. Random acts of kindness have far reaching consequences and some people discover they are on a lucky streak. There are those watching over us who wish us well, and those in our lives who wish us harm.
Well, what can I say about Sally Cronin’s latest collection of short stories and poetry?
It is a brilliant mix of bitter and sweet, a fine collection that I’m sure will appeal to everyone. In fact, I had so many favourite short stories and poems that I’d be hard put to try to pick just a few to highlight. Life is Like A Bowl of Cherries is a snapshot of life embracing all its complexities, with humour, joy and kindness.
Here were some of my personal favourites:
Short Stories:The Weekly Shopping (this will make you chuckle! A special one with dieters in mind!) The Date – (so humourous and sweet, think old lady out for a date but she sure does it in style!) The Wedding Day, The Scratch Card, (So lovely – a short excerpt of this particular story is available below in the author interview link,) Long Lost Love, The Night Shift (A lovely tale of a Care home and a cat,) Gaffer Tape (about fortitude and overcoming domestic abuse,) The Gardening Assistant (Loss of a baby – this will touch the heart of many, especially those who have experienced such sadness, or miscarriage (as I have,) but the ending with the help of a furry friend brings light and hope.)
Some of my favourite poems: The Visitor, Garden Birds, Ritual of Mehndi
I featured Sally with an interview and excerpt recently:
My recommendation. A highly readable and touching book of short stories and poetry. 5 stars.
Welcome to Kyrosmagica! It is wonderful to have you over for a chit chat, Sally.
Lovely to be here Marjorie and thank you for the invitation.
MJ: I’m delighted to be reading Life is Like A Bowl of Cherries, Sally, the title is so beguiling, particularly as I do love fruit, and cherries are a favourite!
MJ:Sally,I’d love to hear more about your nomadic life. I believe you have lived in many countries. Which of these places has a special place in your heart and why?
My father was in the Royal Navy and was posted overseas several times. On occasion we were able to travel with him as a family, including my first trip at age 18 months to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The first year was documented in photographs and I don’t really remember as I was too young, but certainly by the time I was three I was aware of my surroundings and the people in my life. We lived in a house on the edge of the jungle and we had a cook and an amah or nanny for me. My two sisters were 13 and 14 by this time and when they came back from school I was handed over to them. Anything they did I did too, and I was swimming every day in my rubber ring which I loved and still do today, but without the rubber ring!! On one memorable occasion, I followed my eldest sister up a steep ladder during a diving competition. She completed her dive and surfaced expecting applause to find a stunned silence and groans from the crowd. I had crawled to the end of the diving board, stood up and jumped off. Apparently I surfaced and told my sister ‘again’.
After Sri Lanka we returned to the UK for two years followed by two years in Malta which were amazing, and after another two years in England we moved to South Africa. My memories of our time in Cape Town are very vivid as I was ten years old by this time and well aware of the situation at that time with apartheid for example. As a family we had to attend an induction day so that we knew what we could say and what the rules were for segregation. I found it very difficult as I had friends at school in England from the West Indies and the Middle East and it felt very uncomfortable being unable to be friends with anyone because of their colour.
David and I have lived and worked in several countries over the last forty years and certainly our experiences, and the people we have met, have provided us with amazing memories. As a writer all of my travels have left me with memories that are wonderful to dip into and use for stories.
They say that ‘home is where the heart is’, and for me that is certainly the case, and wherever we might be living, as long as David and I are under the same roof it is a special place.
MJ: Oh, how lovely.
MJ:Writing short stories and poetry takes a special skill. Can you summarise the way you approach writing them – any rituals you have, or methods you use?
The stories start out life a great deal longer than they end up. I tend to write in my head first when walking or exercising, then come back and dash it out on the computer. I spend a lot of time revising and editing down to a point where I feel it reads aloud well. And I always ask myself, would I enjoy if I read the story for the first time.
I tend to stick to the Japanese poetry which is constrained by the number of syllables. I love the various formats and experiment depending on the theme. After the first draft, I usually end up changing the words within a certain syllable count to find the one that expresses the most action or emotion.
With everything I write, I use David as a sounding board and he is brilliant with suggestions that might enhance or improve the piece.
MJ: You feature so many authors on your wonderful blog Smorgasbord. This must be a labour of love as I’m sure it must take up so much of your time. As an indie author you give so much to the community in features, reviews and the like. How do you manage your time? And do you ever feel overwhelmed?
One of the key elements I learned early on in my management career was project planning and this was vital when dealing with major construction, installation or sales and marketing campaigns. I carried this over to when I was running my own business for the next twelve years and then as a blogger.
For me blogging is a full time occupation and a business despite the blog itself not being monetised. I am an indie author with 14 books to sell and nobody else is going to do that for me. With 20,000 new titles added to the shelves on Amazon each week, it is tough to get noticed, particularly in the popular genres.
Twenty years ago I was helping authors get their books noticed in a very different way with book launches, radio interviews, press releases and my own first book got some great publicity nationally. However, it is very different now, and the focus is on local physical marketing and global online promotion.
As an author of six books in 2012, I needed a platform to market my own books and that involved creating an online presence across other areas of social media. I began building Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn systematically over the years. I don’t belong to any other social media because as you say, it is time consuming to maintain, and these three are the most consistent referrers of visitors to the blog after WordPress Reader.
I had a project plan in place to achieve my vision of how I wanted the blog to develop. To market my own books, I felt that the content on the blog needed to appeal to a varied market. I set out to develop a magazine style platform with a number of topics. I began with health which I have been involved in for over fifteen years by that time, and slowly added the other areas I have been involved such as book marketing, music and humour as the followers and my confidence grew.
After three years I felt that there was a strong enough following to offer free book marketing to other authors, which is when the Café and Bookstore came into existence. There are now over 150 author promotions, two book fairs featuring all the authors in the Café, and around 50 individual author spotlights a year. My hope is that I can help in some small way to showcase an author and their work within our writing community, whilst also promoting my own.
As to finding the time to post in the way I do… I always schedule ahead by at least a week and usually two. In the case of a series I schedule all the posts at one time. This creates time for me to maintain social media, spend time on my own writing projects, and read and review books.
The project plan is not completed, and in the blog’s 9 th year I hope to continue to find new ways to get all of us noticed and sell some books.
MJ: You are an inspiration, what a wonderful goal.
MJ: The title of your latest release: Life Is Like A Bowl of Cherries. How did you choose the title and what were you trying to convey?
My life experience has been one of highs and lows as is the case for so many people. The reason I appreciate what I have right now, is because of the tough times in the past. Nobody has a perfect life and that is what makes it so fascinating. I wanted to reflect this in the stories I write, but I try to end each of them with a hopeful outcome.
As to the name of the collection…I bought a punnet of cherries last year and could not believe how they looked the same but some were bitter and some were sweet. When I was looking for a title it came to mind.
MJ: That’s so cute!
MJ: After eight years blogging what advice would you impart to new bloggers starting their blogging journey?
Everybody has a different reason for beginning their blogs and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. I do dislike the term Hobby Blogger which is used for anyone who does not commercialise their blog. Whether it is one blog a week, one a day or more, it takes time to prepare, format and market. Various skills are required and whilst it should be enjoyable, it takes work, not just to create the posts, but to get noticed.
I do suggest that anyone thinking about blogging visit a load of other blogs first to get a feel of what is out there, the format, the response in terms of followers and comments. That is usually a solid indicator that people enjoy the content.
A good place to start with your own blog is with your passions, which might be cooking, music, writing, etc. Start with one blog a week and sprinkle with some reblogs of other people’s posts that you are following and enjoy. They will appreciate the gesture and return the favour.
Follow and comment on other blogs and share on social media by clicking one of the buttons at the end of the post. Just saying ‘I enjoyed that thank you’ with your name is very welcome. One thing I do suggest is that you don’t put the URL of your blog in the comment as that should come up with your name, and most blogs block comments containing URLs.
Follow bloggers you enjoy on Twitter and Facebook and retweet their pinned tweets…and if you are an author this is particularly important. I do have a pdf of Book Marketing for authors, including set up for blog and social media and if anyone would like a copy then they just need to email me on email@example.com
MJ: Has your writing mojo stayed the same during this unprecedented time of covid?
Like all of us we have had to adjust to several lockdowns and still having to get on with life in the most hopeful way possible. I felt it was very important for my own wellbeing to ensure that the blog continued as normal during the year. More than ever being online and staying in contact was crucial, and authors were still writing books that needed to be marketed. Music and laughter are important in my life, particularly at the moment, so there was no thought of not carrying on as usual.
MJ:You live in Ireland now, what made you settle there? And do you ever see yourself moving?
My husband is Irish and despite leaving for work when he was 18 years old we have visited family regularly and lived here for five years in the mid-1990s. We loved living just outside of Madrid and periodically on the south coast of Spain for my time on radio, but we got to our mid-60s and felt that it would be a good idea to return to Ireland. We are in good health but even if you are relatively fluent in a language you would still find it difficult coping with illness, or possibly being left on your own to cope with it.
It has been nearly five years now and I miss our friends and the sunshine, having swapped 300 days of blue skies for 300 days of rain! But the warmth of the people here certainly makes up for that. Additionally this last year, there has been a sense of feeling less exposed as we live in a rural area on the coast. Without the usual holidaymakers arriving from Dublin this summer, the incidence of the virus has been much less than it has been elsewhere in Ireland and in the UK. Obviously we are sorry for all the small businesses dependent on this annual influx but it is better to be safe than sorry.
We love our house which took four years to renovate, with some work is still needed in the garden, which is weather dependent. There is enough room to move in some help as we get older, as neither of us are care home material…so the answer is we probably are here for the duration! For the time being lol…
Thank you again Marjorie for inviting me over and I hope that I didn’t outstay my welcome… I do love to chat… Happy 2021 everyone.
Excerpt from The Scratch Card
Elsie Thompson attended the morning service at St. Cuthbert’s and dropped in to the coffee morning in the church Hall to catch up on the gossip in the parish from the last week. She also wanted to share the good news with her friends that she had won twenty pounds on a scratch card the day before, and she had four crisp five pound notes in her purse to prove it.
Mr. Singh the owner of the corner shop where she always bought her tickets, had beamed at her as he handed over the cash and commented it would not take her far sadly. She laughed and spent one of the fivers on another card, in the hopes another win might get her somewhere with a lot more sunshine than Liverpool. To be honest, even enough for a day out in Southport would be lovely for the both of them, and her husband Frank would enjoy a stroll down Lord’s Street, and she would treat him to a posh tea at the Prince of Wales hotel.
Elsie paid for five cups of coffee and a biscuit for herself and her four friends with one of the remaining fivers, and they sat in a corner happily sharing their news and plans for the following week. It was money well spent, and an hour later, Elsie walked home to get the roast lunch prepared, looking forward to their son Tom’s monthly visit with his wife Steph and their two boys.
As she crossed the main road, she saw a young lad sitting on the pavement outside a closed charity shop, he was playing the guitar, and at the moment the only audience seemed to be his dog leaning up against his shoulder. Elsie paused in her mental preparation of the roast pork with crackling, roast potatoes, carrots, cauliflower cheese and peas, followed by apple pie and custard. The boy’s face was pinched, and he shivered in the cold breeze that had picked up in the last couple of hours. His music was actually not half bad, and he had a nice voice, which drew her closer to hear more clearly. He smiled in recognition of her attention and the dog stood up and wagged its tail.
Elsie looked into the open guitar case and saw a few coppers were strategically scattered to entice further contributions. She had appreciated her own little bit of luck, and a few shillings wouldn’t be missed. She took her purse out of her handbag, opened it and realised she only had some pennies. Shaking her head she pulled out one of the remaining two five pound notes and tucked it beneath some of the coppers to stop it flying away. She looked up into the boy’s face when he suddenly stopped singing and saw tears running down his face into his dirty scarf.
MJ: I’ve read this story and it is one of my favourites!
Sally Cronin is the author of fourteen non-fiction and fiction books published over the last twenty years. After a nomadic life living and working around the world, she and her husband now live on the Wexford coast in Ireland. As an indie author she began blogging seven years ago as a way to promote her own books and then created The Cafe and Bookstore to promote other authors and their work. Smorgasbord Blog Magazine is also home to health, food, music, life stories, poetry and humour.
Latest book: Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries, Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet