There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.
There are classical names such as Adam, David and Sarah that will grace millions of babies in the future. There are also names that parents have invented or borrowed from places or events in their lives which may last just one lifetime or may become the classic names of tomorrow.
Whatever the name there is always a story behind it. In What’s in a Name? – Volume One, twenty men and women face danger, love, loss, romance, fear, revenge and rebirth as they move through their lives.
Anne changes her name because of associations with her childhood, Brian carries the mark of ancient man, Jane discovers that her life is about to take a very different direction, and what is Isobel’s secret?
I really enjoyed this short story collection. it’s different from others taking a person’s name as the starting point for creating a story. There is a wide range of variety in this collection but all share one thing in common: these are about life, love and humanity. The range of topics in the stories will appeal to all from amusing, sad, emotional to happy stories. There is even a story about a nun, Celia, leaving her calling which remained with me a long time after reading. The twists at the end of the stories were entertaining too, especially loved the one in ‘George!’ and ‘Isobel.’
Another favourite of mine was ‘Clive,’ about a boy taking a walk in the tropics and walking into a whole lot of trouble – the little ‘un meets a cobra! But, the moment when the boy and cobra look into each others’ eyes is just priceless. Loved it. Cobras are not that uncommon a sight in the tropics, my mum’s step mum came face-to-face with one too! And, in ‘Eric,’ you’ll smile at the tale of a widower who learns to live again through his cat, Doris. in ‘Grace,’ the moving yarn of a young girl in an orphanage ticked all the boxes for me. And the tale of the drunk driver and ‘Hannah,’ was fantastic.
Highly recommended to short story enthusiasts and to all who enjoy well written tales.
Sally Cronin is the author of fifteen books including her memoir Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 330lb first published in 2001. This has been followed by another fourteen books both fiction and non-fiction including multi-genre collections of short stories and poetry.
Her latest release, Life is Like a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony is a collection of 50 + images and poems on life, nature, love and a touch of humour.
As an author she understands how important it is to have support in marketing books and offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities in the Café and Bookstore on her blog and across her social media.
Her podcast shares book reviews and short stories Soundcloud Sally Cronin
After leading a nomadic existence exploring the world, she now lives with her husband on the coast of Southern Ireland enjoying the seasonal fluctuations in the temperature of the rain.
A sinister town that’s not on any map, mysterious black vans and missing people, a book that can kill you, a vengeful mother, an account of life after death, and your worst nightmares come true. This is a strange and dark collection of poems, short stories and musings on a variety of gritty subjects, such as revenge, body image, fear, death, life, motherhood, nature and writing.
This is an interesting collection of unusual tales and poems some of which will stay in my thoughts for a long time!
Many were relatable to me personally – the poem – We Write – and – The Writer Woman – A Cautionary Tale exploring the addictive side of writing obsession which is oh so understandable to us writing types!
Three of my horror favourites – the tale of so-called friends in Child’s Eye, Dylan’s Dream, and the weird, grotesque and not so simple purchase of a shed in The Shed!
The unwelcome attitude to strangers in small towns is portrayed and executed with a creepy ending in Black Hare Valley. There are some character style, reflective and human interest poems like Stan, Dark Little Girl, All These Thoughts of Dying, A Woman of a Certain Age and Crushed By A Number which I really was impressed by.
And poignant tales about death, risk, darkness, fear and confusion… 7 minutes,Moonlit Shadow,Driving The Bends, The Black Van and Slug which will creep you out especially if you are scared of slugs!
Another favourite was The Rubbish Man about people who dump their rubbish. The working world, difficulties, and challenges of life are explored in poems such as Monday Morning, Fine Wine, and Tired. And the darker thoughts of the pandemic and worst case scenario in tales such as Outside. Those who love the forest, (I do!) will be drawn into The Forest.
I loved the poem called The Universe which brings a sense of hope in difficult times.
A collection which you would benefit from reading more than once to gain more insight. Excellent tales and poetry. Highly recommended.
Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children, and multiple pets. She is addicted to reading, writing, and music and writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love.
Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life and has now been developed into a 6 book series. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere and award-winning dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels, plus a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. The award-winning Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature was released through Pict Publishing in October 2018. A Song For Bill Robinson is the first in her YA trilogy.
Daniel and Colette are holidaying in the redwood forest when they discover some real fairies! This is a sweet, magical tale with an important message to impart about how important it is for us to look after our world, recycle, nurture and not be greedy like poachers (and other uncaring people,) who have no respect for nature, or the damage they can do to the natural world by their carelessness.
There are lovely descriptive passages as well as engaging dialogues of the fairies, wise talking trees, and dragonfly. And an amusing section with a kingfisher!
I particularly loved the parts with the trees (and dragonfly,) as I love redwood trees and dragonflies! Redwoods are such spectacular trees and have a special magical quality.
This is a lovely short tale with a considerable amount to say in a short magical narrative.
And there is also a lovely poem – The Little Fairies – at the beginning which I thoroughly enjoyed.
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 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
Life’s Rich Tapestry is a collection of verse, microfiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world. Reflections on our earliest beginnings and what is yet to come, with characters as diverse as a French speaking elephant and a cyborg warrior.
Finding the right number of syllables for a Haiku, Tanka, Etheree or Cinquain focuses the mind; as does 99 word microfiction, bringing a different level of intensity to storytelling. You will find stories about the past, the present and the future told in 17 syllables to 2,000 words, all celebrating life.
This book is also recognition of the value to a writer, of being part of a generous and inspiring blogging community, where writing challenges encourage us to explore new styles and genres.
What a lovely book from a lady who does so much for the indie author community. I’ve been following Sally’s blog for many years. The title: Life’s Rich Tapestry sums this beautiful book up perfectly. I enjoyed this immensely. It is like a treasure trove with a range of delights for everyone: poetry, micro fiction and longer pieces of writing too.
Sally Cronin is a talented story teller and I have so many favourite pieces in the collection!
Here they are:
Speculative Fiction section:A moment of alignment, Onions, The Enhancement Project.
There is a very cute dog section titled: The underdogs! Lol. And of course…The Superiority of Cats.
CAT FAVS: For the love of Lily. (my tied favourite in the collection – loved this.)
DOG FAVS: An Ugly Mutt, The Junkyard Dog (my tied favourite in the collection – loved this.)
FAVS: Strawberry Jam, Storm Windows, Splashing Good Time, Rock Star, Recycling Centre, My Mouse (so funny!) Following Elephants, The Charm Bracelet, Broken.
Random Thoughts:In touch with the earth
Celebrating Pets: My best friend, A Dog’s Life.
Fav poems in Remembrance:Wedding Anniversary Septhember 11th, The Poppies
Fav poems in The Natural World: The Beach, The Cave, A Magpie’s Prize, The Magnolia
FAV Poems in Fairies and Other Folk: Fairy Gold, Fairies at play.
FAV poems in the All Things Human section: Romance, Youth,
FAV Poems about the Seasons of the Year: Glorious April, March Hares,Hallowwen – This Night, Rust and Gold, November Trees, December.
I mention my favourites only so you can see the variety of stories, poems and microfiction in this collection. The cat and dog sections are superb so this collection will really appeal to those who love their cats and dogs!
My recommendation: 5 stars. An excellent collection. Highly recommended.
Lorraine writes bestselling crime: The DI Sterling series. There’s no crime in This Is Lockdown but Lorraine features a wide variety of authors in her Friday Fiction Features. She also has a critique and mentoring service plus information for writers on her blog.
19th July – Recap Promo of all the great promos- M J Mallon
20th July – Launch Day Promo M J Mallon – Lockdown Quotes. 21st July – Sharon Wilden of Shaz’s book blog – promo 22nd July – Ritu Kaur BP 23rd July – Richard Dee 24th July – D G Kaye ( Q and A) 25th July – Marian Wood
25th of July is the last day of the tour as I am going on holiday thereafter and taking a break from social media! As this has been a huge project and I reckon I will be exhausted by then.
The fabulous authors, bloggers and creatives who have contributed to This Is Lockdown. I’d like to give a shout out to them all.
This Is Lockdown is a anthology/compilation of diaries, short stories, flash fiction and poetry set during COVID19 from 23rd March until 1st June 2020. The anthology also features the ‘isolation writers’ who featured on my blog discussing their thoughts on isolation during this time.
The question which I posed at the time was:
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.
Several of the contributing authors and bloggers also contributed poems, or thoughts about this time.
The wonderful contributing authors and creatives are many in number!
Thank you so much to each one of them for being a part of this project.
Please do visit their websites to discover the huge variety of writing and creative talent amongst them ranging from talented short story and poetry writers to horror, fantasy, supernatural thriller, romance and memoir writing. And more!!! Plus the wonderful fundraising Community Masks 4 NHS initiative from Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val.
There truly is something for everyone amongst this international group of writers and creatives who are based in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Italy, America and Zimbabwe.
This is a tough time for writers as it is for everyone. The arts and creative industry is under threat as are businesses worldwide.
The kindle of This Is Lockdown was released on 20th July.
The paperback of This Is Lockdown was released on 2nd December. It is a shorter version, (with no diaries, all photographic images in black and white. )
The latest posts regarding the book itself, or COVID19 are:
Part one includes my personal diaries and poetry during lockdown, the ‘isolation writers’ discussing the impact of this extraordinarily stressful time on their lives, poems and writings from authors, bloggers and a piece from Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val about their fabulous fundraising mask venture for the NHS.
Look at these:
Part two continues with my writings during lockdown: poetry, short stories, (including my YA short story The Poet’s Club, and flash fiction plus a more mature Love Affair, (short piece set post virus.)
It has been quite a learning curve for me – my first compilation/anthology!
The formatting was a challenge. There are lots and lots of photographs in this collection. The majority are observational photos I’ve taken during allowed walks of all manner of things including concrete frogs hidden below bridges…. and my thoughts about why this fellow is there… So mysterious…
There are also lovely kitty photos from my good friend Samantha Murdoch… Now that’s a face! Poor Charlie, kitty, what is the matter?
As well as fetching author photos… and masked up photos from myself, Beaton, and the Masks4NHS venture.
Anyway, it is a true account of my observations, and the thoughts of authors, bloggers and creatives from the UK, US, Canada, Italy and Zimbabwe.
Wherever we are, we are all feeling it. This time unites us in a way that we could never have imagined.