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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
“Yep. Folks, try defining yer blog’s purpose in 99 words; focus that statement even more in 59 words; then hook us with 9 words. Ya might even post these versions at yer own site. Tell us who ya are or what yer about here in the comments, 9 words, no more no less.”
Six years ago my life changed. I became a blogger – a strange creature, even if I say so myself! Initially, I named my blog home: Kyrosmagica – a magical shore of books, writing, photography and inspiration. Kyros after the Greek word crystal and magica to represent magic.
When interviewing authors I sometimes adopt a new persona, calling myself MJ.
I feature authors, review books, take part in poetry, flash fiction and photography challenges, nothing is off-limits. Sometimes I become sensible Marje when necessity calls.
Kyrosmagica has evolved; It is now my author website with lashes of crystal magic!
Six years ago I became a blogger. My blog home Kyrosmagica – a magical shore of books, writing, photography and inspiration. Sometimes I am known as MJ, sometimes as the author Marje, or even M J Mallon. I write reviews, interview folk, take part in poetry, flash fiction and photography challenges. Nothing is off limits, blogging is such fun.
Kyrosmagica blog is me! Books, writing, photography and magic.
Ritu and I have met on several occasions at Blogging Bashes in London and we ‘clicked’ just as much in person as we do in our lovely ‘online,’ friendship.
So welcome Sis! When Ritu knew I was offering fellow writers a chance to join the online discussion about COVID19 – this crazy world we find ourselves in, she jumped at the chance.
How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is Ritu coping with this enforced isolation?
Here is Ritu’s answer:
Coronavirus. COVID-19. Unprecendented. Social Distancing. Quarantine. Self-Isolation. Lockdown.
These are all words we have heard countless times in the last few weeks. What have they done? Brought a wave of panic into your life? Or are you someone who has taken to it rather calmly? Well, for me, it’s been a bit like this. When we first heard about this strange virus, schools were still open, yet I had students going off sick with mysterious illnesses for a week to ten days at a time. Then the government called for school closures, followed by social distancing, and the UK version of Lockdown. I say UK version because, though all non-essential businesses have been closed, we are still allowed out to exercise once a day, go shopping for food, and schools still need us teachers, but in a different capacity; as carers for the children of Keyworkers.
Once I got over the initial worry and shock of what was happening, I got excited. This meant more time for me to get creative, when I was home. Book two has been started but had been languishing for a couple of months, as the business of daily life took its toll. But, just because you have time, doesn’t mean you automatically switch to the creator of four thousand words a day – well, that doesn’t happen to me, anyway. My creativity has been hit-and-miss to be honest. I thought all this time would mean I could write, do some courses I signed up for but never got a chance to access, more promotion, lots of reading…
The reality has been quite different.
To start with, I am in school on a rota system, so I could be in for one or two days, but I don’t know more than a week in advance. And there is the joy of having both kids and Hubby Dearest at home as well, so no time was distraction-free time either.
I sit with my laptop open on one of my home days, WIP loaded up, ready to write up a storm. Nothing comes. I open a book to read. But I can’t get into it and put it down after a few pages. Then I remember those courses. So, I manage another couple of modules on a creative writing course. But no words. After the first ten days, we were in official Easter holiday mode. Technically no different to the last few days, but I felt, mentally, that I was on a break. I discovered online writing sprints on several Facebook groups that helped, and in a few days, I did double my wordcount.
The joy to read came back.
But then official term started again.
And I have now got online learning to do for school too, to justify us all being at home, even though we are still planning work for our children to do at home. As well as still needing to go in periodically.
Another killjoy to my writing spree.
I’m trying to be practical still have work, but I need my play too, which involves reading and writing. So, I have taken time to re-plan and structure my WIP, and while doing that, I have got my juices flowing, again, I think. My aim is to do school-based work in the mornings and use after lunch time to look at my creative projects, be it writing, courses or research for the WIP. The evening is filled with family time, walks, cooking, reading, watching films and TV, and if I feel inspired, a little more writing time. I’m under no illusions. At one point I thought I would end this period with a mainly finished first draft, but I don’t think that will happen. I’ve had up days, days where I have felt productive in all areas of my quiet life, then there have been days where I have barely wanted to leave my bed.
Those days are the days that suck my creative well dry. The days I watch the news and the world gives me nothing to be hopeful about. The days I had that call or message to say a loved one was ill, or had passed away (twice, so far). Still, I’m just thankful that I am okay, we are all healthy, and that, in itself, is the biggest thing. I’ll keep trying to write, but I won’t beat myself up if nothing comes. These are crazy times. Messing with our heads. If I can’t write my own words, I’ll read others. I’ll teach myself new things to make my words, when they do come, better.
But I won’t stop trying to write.
(Oh, and I discovered TikTok! Heaven help us all!)
Author Bio Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her. From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!
Ritu also writes a blog, www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.
Today, I decided to approach Spillwords to see if they would publish one of my poems. I decided upon the dragonfly as it is one of my favourite poems/photos from my poetry, prose and photography collection Mr. Sagittarius. I didn’t realise that Spillwords don’t take images with writing – so I spent a good while making the following graphic on Canva which I’ll have to use elsewhere
Today, I featured Willow with a Coronavirus poem and a James Blunt song. Very nice.
Hubby has been building garden chairs and I have been washing windows… Our weather during Lockdown has been really good but apparently according to Gina it is about to deteriorate.
The girls and I did an exercise online class in the afternoon around 2pm but it was too hot and on top of that the area we were exercising in seems to have suddenly become infested with ants. At one point Gina shouted, “I’ve got ants in my hair!” Which made me feel very itchy. Natasha was also scratching and I was slipping everywhere as there are only two exercise mats – I used an old blanket which wasn’t much use.
So not exactly the best exercise session that we’ve done. It was comical though!
I didn’t take part in Lizzie Chantree’s writers sprint this morning, (I normally do,) as it clashed with the timing of Natasha’s PT session with me! And somehow I didn’t feel in the mood today. Monday’s seem to be the same whether you’re working. or not. And today I feel a bit low.
I did an exercise session with Natasha in the morning. It was a really tough one I thought I was going to pass out. But I completed it.
We went for a walk in the country park in the afternoon. Kept seeing robins everywhere – a good luck omen perhaps? The ducks were playful too. One came straight at us as if it was showing off and then whizzed across the lake, its mate came to join him but he was having none of that, he zoomed away.
We chatted to my mum on the phone she seems down at the moment as does Gina. This protracted length of time cooped up together is getting to all of us.
I saw a black crow picking food from a bird table on the way home – they always give me the creeps – so black and menacing looking, before and during Coronavirus I keep seeing them. This is the third one I’ve seen. So strange. I hope it is not a bad omen. It’s a day of conflicting emotions, both good and bad.
I also saw my friend Mary Enna and Godric with their beautiful husky dog out for a walk. It has the most amazing blue eyes. We stopped for a while – them on one side of the road – and us on the other. We talked about bread making, she suggested I make sourdough loaf which doesn’t need yeast. Like the sound of that – may try it this coming weekend.
In the evening we had a family tiff in the kitchen. Kitchens seem to be the prime area for disputes to arise. The kitchen is the undisputed danger zone. Hubby always pokes his nose in the cooking even if he isn’t eating with us. (Sometimes he likes to cook his own food.) This interference in the food prep caused a stroppy atmosphere and then hubby went outside for a time, sat in a chair by the patio and pulled his hood over his face to hide from us all. Gina saw her opportunity – she took his photo! When he looked up he said “I hope no one took my photo!
Of course not… If you believe that, you believe anything!
I wish I could escape and go to see my parents in Edinburgh… This is beginning to get to me. I am missing them so much. The conversation I had with mum today wasn’t right. She’d talked to my eldest daughter Tasha first, they’d chatted and chatted. No problem. But as soon as I spoke to her everything changed. Her voice sounded disjointed like she wasn’t forming her words properly. Mumbling. I pressed the phone closer to my ear, my shoulders tightening. “Mum, you sound strange. Are you okay?!” She spoke up a bit, “I’m lying on the bed and the phone’s a bit far away.” I acknowledge the ridiculousness of my fear, mum’s phone is simply too far away from her as she speaks. Her voice becomes clearer; the mumbling words are gone. “Is that better?” she asks. “Yes, I can hear you now,” I reply. The familiar feeling of panic pressing on my ribcage disappears for a moment. I realise I’ve been holding my breath. I need to take another calming breath to steady myself. And then she admits she’s terrified of catching this horrible illness. I can hear her fear and that frightens me. I imagine her on her bed, clutching the duvet towards her, her eyes welling with tears moistening the fabric. I want to hug her and be there for her. I should be there for her. She says, “I don’t want to end up alone and on one of those bloody ventilators, and neither does your dad.”
Her words are powerful, I can hear them so clearly. What can I say? It breaks my heart that she is saying this to me.
I don’t respond but my inner voice yells: I hate you virus. I feel the unspoken words filling a vast space which tightens in my gut.
We continue to talk about symptoms, as if we can protect ourselves, if we are knowledgeable enough. The latest indicator is shivering, she tells me. I already know this, I am well informed. We’ve both had the shivers recently but who knows whether it’s fear that’s making us shiver? My daughter asks for her phone back, perhaps her minutes are running out, she appears oblivious to my dread of hanging up. Her youthfulness makes her less astute. At last, Mum and I talk about Skyping at the weekend, an obvious preliminary to saying Goodbye.
Once I’m home I replay the conversation over in my mind and realise I missed something. We called mum in the afternoon and she never naps during the day. Is she ill? Is she alright? Was she shivering now?
This is COVID19 worry; It is relentless. I doubt I will ever forget how it feels.
It brings guilt too. Why didn’t I Skype her yesterday? It has a voice, this virus it’s accusatory.
There will be more to come in the diaries soon. I’m a bit behind with them.
Hope you are all keeping well and safe.
A new review for Mr. Sagittarius:
Adele Park 5.0 out of 5 stars A poetic journey through life Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 April 2020 Verified Purchase Shaped with poems and beautiful pictures this book is a must-read and keep. This novel is the kind you will go back to again and again to dip into and read your favourites. A fantastic book, the author has delivered with engaging characters and beautiful prose. Well done.
And a fairly new review for The Curse of Time:
Eloise Sousa‘s review Apr 13, 2020 really liked it YA Dark Fantasy that will keep you riveted
A fascinating twist of events shakes Amelina’s world, awakening her to the power of crystals and her family’s legacy. An enjoyable read with well-written characters who keep you on your toes as they drive the action forward.
I’m so happy that Willow can join me today. She is an old blogging friend, who I have met in person at several blogging bashes. An old friend in the logging world is referred to as a Blogging Sister!
So welcome Sis! When I mentioned my Writer’s In Isolation series I knew Willow would come up with something really fantastic and she has.
How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is Willow coping with this enforced isolation?
Here is Willow’s answer:
I really don’t know if writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope any better or worse than the rest of the population. In fact, I don’t think I am coping all that well. I seem to be busier now than ever I was before Covid19 reared its ugly head. I really find it hard to find time – to sit down and work on my blog – and the family even though they are not living at home, they take up most of my time. If it has taught me anything, it has taught me that my blogging time must be managed, as it helps me, so it must have its place.
Marje: Indeed it should Willow. I am so glad that blogging has helped you and continues to help you cope with your current situation. It’s tough and I know you have had your share of problems. The poem which I’d like to feature today originally appeared on your blog in February and it is eerily true to life at the moment.
Willow: “I had no idea then how close to the truth it was, though I do hope the outcome is better than the one I predicted.”
Here’s Willow’s Poem:
The planet was struggling it’s true
From space it was no longer blue
It was suffering from millennia of wars and abuse
People pleaded for change, no use.
Most people tried to help Earth
They knew the planets worth.
Then came the plague
No respecter of king or knave
It cut through the ranks and top brass
No preference for age or class
It sent weak, old or young to the grave.
It emptied the streets and Malls,
Pubs, clubs and church halls.
It stopped the planes and the trains
The fat cats lost their profits and gains.
Huge nations brought to their knees
As scientists search for the keys
To the elusive cure to rid all of the bain.
Just when it could not get worse
Hate joined fear with a curse.
The people turn on each other
Neighbour, husband, wife, sister, brother.
Empty shops, no fuel they could not stand
Then all civilian movement was banned
The crops and animals died on the land.
Drones flew over head, all was scanned.
Mother Nature watched with a tear
Chaos in weeks, rebellion, extinction within a year.
I am the mum of three boys all now grown and flown to live their own lives. Luckily they do keep in touch and visit often. I now have two beautiful grandsons.
When I started this blog I had not long come home from hospital after an accident in which I broke my back, for the second time. I was in hospital for a month and had three operations.
It has taken me a long time to recover, I am still recovering but every day my body is getting stronger. It has taken a huge toll on me mentally I had to retire early on health grounds, I had to come to terms with finding out people I thought were friends were not. I had to make a new life for myself. Things I could do easily have become difficult.
Writing poetry and prose has helped me a great deal. I have made so many wonderful friends through blogging I think it has definitely saved my life.
Marje: You have been through so much Willow. Bless you. You’re such a resilient, and amazing person.
Willow continues to amaze me – here are just some of her wonderful blog posts to give you a tiny flavour of who she is:
Hi all, yesterday was my six year blogging anniversary – I am a bit of a slow coach celebrating but better late than never. So it’s happy six years to me!
And it has been. Happy. The last month maybe less so, but there are positives: spending more time with family, relaxing more, (apart from when I’m feeling anxious,) and having more time for writing which is a big plus.
Here’s my latest news of the family, writing, blogging kind… plus a poem about a golden dragon at the end. He is worth the wait as I promise he will take you places…
Daughters and I were doing our nails again when I found a very soggy biscuit in my crisps! Ugh. Disgusting.The crisp manufacturer admitted that his was probably a build up of flavouring rather than a biscuit! Perhaps they might give me some free crisps… We’ll see.
Started doing blog posts about Coronavirus and isolation for creatives, Richard Dee is my first guest. I post about this on Book Connectors and receive more interest than I anticipated. In fact, I am somewhat overwhelmed and have to request that I get back to a few people ….
My 300 word submission to Writers Unite Blog is accepted for publication on next Saturday. Yeah! Spoke to mum and dad on Skype and a little worried to see that my dad is coughing. Apparently, their neighbours have given them a settee which is in their garage. Hope they maintained social distance when they accepted it into their property.
20th April 21, 2020
Mum sent my daughter Tasha a text asking about apps for their local community group. Tasha couldn’t work out what app she meant. Mum mentioned it as if it was the only app in the world! She’s not very up to date with social media so I thought it best to call her which I did. I explained apps, the basics of how they worked and promised to get back to her with more details via Skype. Also, I sense she is getting bored and frustrated being at home, so I suggested that she sews some masks! She has loads of material including elastic. That will keep her occupied. I even said she might want to make some for us. To this end, I sent her a couple of links on how to make them. Who knows she might make loads!
This tells you how to make a face mask without sewing if you want one quick:
Dad is still coughing so I’m worried about him and have asked Mum to check his temperature. He often coughs during the Spring/Summer and all year round for that matter so it is hard to tell whether it is one thing or another. Like me he has Allergic Rhinitis all year round.
Chez moi we did a gym workout in the garden – just my eldest daughter Tasha and I. My youngest daughter Gina is still asleep as she always tends to be until Midday. Boy, Tasha worked me hard but we had some giggles about my dodgy knees which always helps. I forgot to put my head scarf on, so my hair was dangling everywhere,and my glasses were falling off my face in downward dog.
In the afternoon we did a bit of Spring cleaning. Cleaning isn’t my favourite pastime but needs must. Unfortunately, I chipped my lovely nail polish which made me cross! To make up for it I made a huge pot of Chilli Con Carne in the evening – comfort food. Everyone enjoyed it and every last drop was gobbled down.
I’m a bit worried about my youngest daughter, she’s been feeling anxious – this enforced stay at home is getting to her and to her boyfriend too. I have to keep an eye on her. Bless her. Her boyfriend lives far away. Apparently, she was telling me that some of her friends’ parents allow them to see their boyfriends. Risky tactic. I can just imagine letting them pitch a tent in the garden to spend ‘private’ time together! Oh my… Not in my house… Staying alive comes before love and kisses right now.
I’ve noticed I have this continuous headache whilst I am in the house, as soon as I go out the door it vanishes, miraculously – obviously a stress headache. When will this end?
I try not to dwell on the death toll, and the Government’s management of the crisis but I am worried. Particularly about the lack of PPE for nurses and doctors. This is unforgiveable. They are our troops at the frontline; they should be protected. Without them, what would we do?
Today I wrote a book review of The Enhanced League by C. S. Boyack:
And I received a new 5 star review for Mr. Sagittarius from Author/Poet Camilla Downs:
“I absolutely adore this book and will be sharing it with my 18 year old daughter. I enjoyed the different styles of poetry and prose mixed together with photography. It flowed beautifully. An uplifting, magical, sweet gem of a book.”
willow willers5.0 out of 5 stars A magical story told in poetry pose and photographyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 April 2020What a magical Webb is woven here by author Marjorie Mallon. A tale of two brothers and a sister, botanical gardens, magical creatures and a bench under a Golden Willow Tree. This delightful mix can be either read in one go or enjoyed as momentary fix. I truly cannot recommend Mr Sagittarius enough there is something for everyone inside it’s pages. I shall say no more apart from urge you to read this book and be totally charmed by it.
Thank you to all those who take the time to read and review. I so appreciate you, x
It’s my six year anniversary! Six years blogging can you imagine? Where did that time go? To celebrate I did some work on my next poetry and photography collection, collating all the poetry, images and placing them in order. I discovered three poems I wrote about dragons six years ago! I loved all three of these and they will be going in my new book.
Here’s a sneak peak of one of them that took me on an adventure…
It was lovely reconnecting with old friends and making new ones too.
Unfortunately, as with all bashes there is always that moment when you realise that you haven’t had a chance to speak to everyone. So apologies to those I missed and to those I only chatted to briefly.
I took very few photos. Getting lazy…
But here are some, below myself, with Willow and Ritu.
Congratulations to Ritu for winning best book blog and to Sam Smith at Loving The Fifty Something Blog for winning the writing competition this year. I really enjoyed chatting to Sam and wish her every success and happiness with her writing and inspirational lifestyle.
I particularly enjoyed listening to guest author Gemma Todd talking about her writing journey.
From working class girl with no books in the house, or readers in her family, to librarian and Headline author! That shows determination, tenacity and a love of the written word! Gemma flitted across the stage in an exuberant but down-to-earth way making me smile. She shared some touching anecdotes about her father and her genuine authenticity shone through.
It is my great pleasure to welcome artist Carolina Russo to my blog. I consider her to not only be a talented artist but also a dear, sweet friend with whom I have a lot in common. We both share a great love of the beauty of nature, art, crystals, jewellery and music.
Tell us about your artistic journey. Where did it all begin and what defines you as an artist?
First of all, I want to thank Marje for inviting me to this interview and for preparing these great questions. I appreciate this very much. What a nice opportunity to be featured on her Blog. Now about the beginning of my artistic journey… well it all happened the day I was born 😉 I am very thankful for the gift of my artistic talent. I realized that I was very creative as a child. I loved drawing and creating things, and by the time I was a teenager I knew this was my calling. Creating art was what I wanted to do. My father is an Artist and I learned a lot just by watching his creative methods and observing him working on his beautiful oil paintings. I was born in Italy, raised in a beautiful country which is bursting with Italian art, creativity, and history. I studied Art & Design and Jewelry design in Italy. I also have experience in Fashion, Graphic and Illustration Design. I always wanted to be an Independent Artist with the ability to create freely – which is what I am focused on right now. I have just redesigned my Blog yesterdayafter.com and included my own Carolina Russo Shop where I sell all my Art. This allows me to have direct contact with those who reach out to me. I also offer art on a commission basis and I love to collaborate with other inspiring people. If you like you can read more about my creative journey on a guest post I wrote a while ago here: https://yesterdayafter.com/the-designer/creative-journeys/
You create jewellery as well. I know your collections are ‘nature finds.’ What is it about nature, salvaging, recycling, restoration, and transforming things that attracts you? Pure Nature is one of the most beautiful things on our planet and needs to be preserved and not to take it for granted! I love nature and I love animals. I find it to be fascinating when I come across some wild nature finds of any kind, but especially fossil seashells, beautiful unique stones and other interesting little pieces of nature. I like to think when I find fossil seashells that they have been smoothed and shaped by the ocean waves with the helping hand of sand and rocks and that they are here on this planet for millions of years and saw it all! I love to create unique pieces of jewelry with natural gemstones and crystals combined with my nature findings. Sometimes I also like to draw directly on stones or seashells adding my art to their surfaces – to bring these discovered objects back to live a life in a different dimension – where they can still shine, bringing the magical vibes of nature to us.
What is your favourite crystal? And why?
Well this is not a easy question! I love so many crystals. I like to find out about their meanings and the energy of their healing powers! I love Blue Quartz because is a soothing and calming crystal. It brings a relaxing and peaceful vibe to any kind of situation. Rose Quartz is known as the ” Love Stone.” This beautiful crystal emits strong vibrations and energy that clear and purifies, opening the heart to promote love in any situations. And of course I like Sapphire which is my September birthstone. I like that it symbolizes purity and wisdom.
You live in California. Is this the perfect location for your art or do you miss your birthplace – Italy?
Well I love California. It is a beautiful place, but of course I miss Italy as it is the place where I was born and grow up. I have been in Italy most of my life. My parents, brother and family are all there and it doesn’t often happen that we get a chance to see each other. Life events happen and the long distance makes it more difficult. About the location of my art I honestly don’t need a specific place to be able to create, this is one of the beautiful sides of being an independent artist. I can be artistic and create anywhere, and I love that! I mostly sell my creations online via my shop on my website. I actually just redesigned my Blog and included another section which is my Carolina Russo Shop https://yesterdayafter.com/shop/ where I have direct contact with customers anywhere in the world who are interested to my Art. All of my latest collaborations were overseas in Europe. I am so happy about this, because I can work anywhere as long I have my supplies and an Internet connection. I paint at home in my little bunny hole studio. I like to do everything by myself and I print all my Limited Edition Fine Art Prints of my paintings on my own. I want to give a 100% service to those who choose my art. I love to prepare my prints personally by adding final touches when I sign and pack them. I like to work on my pieces from the beginning of creation to the end to make sure that my customers have the most beautiful experience when they purchase from me. My watercolor paintings and Limited Edition Prints are sold around the world – Europe especially England, Scotland, Germany, Norway, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and more. I believe you create music album covers too. I’d love to find out more about this. And your favourite musical artists. This is a great question! Yes I do create music album covers. It has always been a dream of mine to create art for music artists and to collaborate with them. Recently I collaborated with UK music composer Nu-San and created the cover for his soon to be released new Album “Nu Nostalgia” and I am so looking forward to seeing my art on Vinyl and CD.
I love music and of course I have my iconic bands that have accompanied me my whole life. On my Blog I often post about the music I like and follow, or mention new artists that capture my attention. Of course I have my favorites and right now I listen to Independent music artists like the Scottish band The Twilight Sad . They supported The Cure in their latest 2016 Tour and they are blossoming in the music world. There are a few more music artists that I really like: I’d like to mention a band called Frightened Rabbit, sadly they lost their front man Scott Hutchison who recently died. If you follow me you will remember my watercolor painting Tribute of him, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my Limited Edition prints, is going to Charity and donated to SAMH Scottish Association for Mental Health, to help raise awareness for suicide prevention.
I also had the opportunity to Interview Ewian and James Radcliffe. I came across some of these great artists through my Blog and amazingly we have become friends, and through this friendship I had the opportunity to interview some of them. I have a specific music taste, and maybe what I like doesn’t suit everyone, but I like to share what I find interesting. One of my Projects is a Collection named “ART FOR MUSIC” a series of artworks inspired and dedicated to music artists. In this project and series, I have created artworks and portraits using several media, traditional watercolor paintings, ink drawings, digital art, photo manipulation. This art series is featured on my Blog for the music artists that I have the fortune to collaborate with.
Like me you love to write poetry as well. Your poetry has been published in Spillwords, Visual Verse and Praxis Magazine. Have you a favourite poem that you’ve written that you’d like to share with us?
Thank you for your mention about my poetry, yes I love to write poems, Haiku, 50 words stories and short stories, I also like to illustrate them with my own photography or watercolor paintings. One of the future projects on my bucket list, is to create an illustrated book that includes my art and writings. I started writing poems when I was a teenager. I don’t write every day, I only write when something inspire me, or when words comes whispering to my mind and soul, silently and suddenly. Then I let the words flow from me. I am pretty pleased with my creative writings, I had some great feedback and I am very happy that some of my poetry is now published in nice Anthologies. It feels great to have my name listed amongst author contributors. I love all of my poems – there is a lot of my own emotional experiences and deep feelings in each of them. Thank you for asking to share a favorite poem, I like to share : Emotions https://yesterdayafter.com/2015/11/09/emotions/
It was brilliant collaborating with you. I love the portraits of two of my characters: Esme and The Creature that you created. Do you have a favourite character from the Curse of Time that you’d love to paint in the future?
We had a great experience during the making of your book! I loved to collaborate with you and see two of your characters coming to life. You gave me some pretty good descriptions, precious details and information that helped me to visualize the characters. I loved to paint both of them especially as they represent two completely opposite looks. Esme is sweet and delicate and so is the painting, while The Creature Eruterac is a pretty creepy creature.. I am not sure if my painting is creepy enough as your description of him was…LOL I love both characters designs and in my opinion it is beautiful to have some illustrations in a book. They sure add a special touch, also if they are only two images like you did it helps the reader to visualize the story more, sometimes art can reach out where words cannot. And now to answer your last question, I love Esme but I already painted her, so my next favorite character to paint would be Amelina, I am so looking forward to see what happens next. I want to thank Marje again and everyone that has taken their precious time to read this interview. If you would like to see more of my work and discover more about me and my creative world please visit my Blog at yesterdayafter.com. Carolina xxx
Before Carolina goes I’d like to say how lovely this interview is and I’d love to share with you this gorgeous portrait that I had the good fortune to win via a blog post competition on Carolina’s blog. She chose the perfect portrait to send a fantasy enthusiast – Alice in Wonderland which is lovingly crafted in coffee and watercolour!
Thank you so much to Carolina for sharing her fascinating artistic life with us.