Guest post – Sally Cronin talks about blogging and her books

Sally Cronin is a wonderful blogger and a huge supporter of the blogging and writing community. Her blog Smorgasbord is styled along the lines of a magazine and she has published numerous books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Welcome, Sally, it is an honour to host you on Robbie’s Inspiration.

Over to Sally

Picture of Sally Cronin

Thanks very much Robbie for your invitation to join you today and for the great questions.

You have a successful blog, Smorgasbord, with a large following.

What gave you the idea of a blogging magazine?

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine
Picture of Smorgasbord Blog Magazine banner

When I began blogging it was to promote a recently released men’s health book, but after a few weeks, I discovered I loved the immediacy of blogging and the response to the posts, and was hooked. It evolved from there as I began to share my other passions.

It was called Consequences for about a year, and then I looked around for a name to identify the varied range of topics I was writing about. I happen to be very fond of buffets that offer so many different food options, and having enjoyed ‘smorgasbords’ when travelling I changed the name to Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and hoped readers would be intrigued enough to pop in to check it out.

I personally think your idea of a blogging magazine is wonderful and very innovative. I enjoy the variety of articles you share on Smorgasbord.

Which of your posts do the best generally?

I checked my statistics which lists the posts and their views since I began the blog, and interestingly my ‘about page’ did the best which just shows how important it is to have an introduction to you as a person and writer in place. The other most popular posts are a mix of health, humour and book promotions. Currently The Breakfast Show with the 1960s music and book promotions, including the serialisations of my own books, top the list followed by health and humour.  Since this is primarily a book and author marketing site it is good news.

How interesting that your about page does so well, that is great to know. The posts and serials you have mentioned here are certainly among my favourite posts, and I enjoy reading episodes of your books again, even though I have read them all more than once.

What are your future plans for your blog?

I am setting up a mini studio at the moment to move some of the posts to audio. I am not sure what the WordPress blog format issues are going to be in 2021, and after nearly 10 years, I would like to offer a different platform for promotions, reviews, health and marketing. 

I have archives of material to share in audio format, either on YouTube or Sound cloud. I also want to record more of my own short stories and novels over time. I recorded one collection on CD in the past and those stories will go up first and give me a chance to record more to join them.

This sounds very exciting, Sally. Podcasts and YouTube videos are definitely growing in popularity and I look forward to seeing what you come up with in this space.

A lot of your short stories and novels, and even your mythical books, Tales from the Garden and Tales from the Irish Garden, focus on characterisations, relationships, and experiences.

Tells us a little about your fiction books and what they mean to you

These stories offer pure escapism. I am so grateful to have had an amazing life living around the globe, but even as a child I had an overactive imagination and would create different worlds and in particular imaginary friends.

I know you too moved quite frequently and a downside is the sadness of leaving friends behind and spending what seems ages, getting to know new ones. All the time understanding, in a couple of years you will be leaving them behind too.

Creating worlds of your own and imaginary companions allows you take them with you. Some of my stories began life sixty years ago and have developed from there. As I get towards my 70s it is also a way to insert the people I have met in the real world and to keep the memory of them fresh. I am hoping that at some point when I am getting a bit doddery, they will remind me of the good times.

I did also move around frequently as a child, Sally, and I turned to reading and books to help me through the anxiety of moving schools often and having to make new friends all the time. Our life experiences certainly do come through in our writing, but your particularly sensitive to people and their emotions and aspirations.

Do you draw your ideas mainly from your own life experiences or are you a people watcher?

I am both I would say. Life experiences good or bad are very useful to draw on when writing both fiction and non-fiction and I certainly have plenty up my sleeve for the future. I used to love travelling a great deal more than I have in recent years, with security protocols and now the pandemic, but sitting watching people coming and going in airports or a train station is fascinating. Some of these poor unsuspecting strangers have no idea the shenanigans and emotional turmoil I will put them through later in a story.

I think that is wonderful, Sally. You have an uncanny ability to create characters that are real and to whom readers can relate.

Do you have a favourite book or short story and why?

I would say Sam; A Shaggy Dog Story is my favourite. We waited 18 years to get a puppy because of our travels and working full time. I had two collies previously and love the breed. Sam was born five miles from our new home in Ireland and at just at the right time, as I was able to work my own hours for the first time in my business. From the moment he entered our hearts at eight weeks old, he changed our approach to life completely, and it was the most amazing ten years that followed. I wanted to immortalise him in a book and share his character with others in the hopes they would fall in love with him too.  I was delighted readers responded to his story and in print over the years, it has been my bestseller.

I must admit that I loved this book too, but my personal favourite is Just an Odd Job Girl because the occupations you featured are so very different to my own job and I found them very interesting and your interactions with people highly entertaining. My son, Michael, loved Sam. He talked about it for months after we read this book together.

You can read my reviews of both books here:

Just an Odd Job Girl by [Sally Cronin]
Cover of Just an Odd Job Girl

Just an Odd Job Girl

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story by [Sally Cronin]
Cover of Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story

Sam; A Shaggy Dog Story

Your covers are very striking and appropriate.

Do you design your own covers or does someone else help you?

Thank you Robbie, so happy you feel that about the covers. The title usually presents itself as a book or collection of short stories evolves. I used to train copywriters for an advertising publication I worked for, and apply the same principles to get the title and tag lines right. Once I have a title I am happy with, I look for an image to reinforce the selling message. David my husband who formats and designs my books mocks up several covers to consider, using titles and selected images, and we play around with them until we are both satisfied.

David is certainly very good at designing covers, Sally. I was fortunate enough to have a cover designed by him too. I love your covers and they are certainly very appropriate for each of your books.

What do you think is important about the cover of a book?

A book cover is a key element in book marketing. With 20,000 EBooks alone being uploaded to Amazon each week, it is tough enough to stand out as it is. The cover is the first thing any potential reader is going to see when they go into the author page or the book page. This is why it has to look good in thumbnail as well as full size.  The image should be relevant to the genre and the story, and the title and tag lines need to add to the overall congruity. 

Unless you are Wilbur Smith, Lee Childs or Stephen King etc., who could put their names on the front of a book in large print and readers would buy regardless of the image; generally the author’s name should be clearly visible but not the focus on the cover.  If you look at a bestselling author’s covers however, you will find even they make every effort to get the whole concept right. Their budgets are of course often in the thousands, but with thought and use of free images, there is no reason why you cannot create a ‘come buy me’ cover for very little cost.

When I visit an author’s page to check on reviews or new releases for a promotion I always check to see which of the covers jumps out from the line-up and nearly always those particular books have higher rankings and more importantly a high number of reviews.

Not everyone has an eye for creating their own covers, but these days there are some excellent cover designers who are genre specific, and charge reasonable rates. I do recommend spending time and money on getting this aspect right.

I agree with you completely, Sally, and have all of my covers designed by someone how I admire as a designer and creative [except for the Sir Chocolate Books where I create the illustrations myself]. I think your covers are all very eye catching.

You have written a number of non-fiction books.

Do you find the facts and information in these books need to be updated regularly as new ideas become available?

Thankfully most of the data on nutrients remains current although I do spend a considerable time on recommended research sites to make sure I don’t fall behind. I have serialised most of my non-fiction books and use that opportunity to make sure they are current, and when I moved them from print to digital a few years ago, I updated them all.

Nutritional guidelines issued by the government are a moveable feast, if you will pardon the pun. One minute they tell us don’t eat fat, only carbohydrates, and then when a generation have become obese because of this misguided determination; suddenly carbohydrates are out of favour.

I have always believed in a balanced diet without excluding any major food group (apart from refined sugar which has been adopted into the western diet on the mistaken understanding it is a food group!). Therefore my approach to a healthy diet has not changed since I began studying to become a nutritional therapist 25 years ago.

You are right, Sally, about the advice changing. It is better to form your own opinions as a consumer, based on good advice and input from people like you.

Do you enjoy writing non-fiction as much as fiction?

I do enjoy both equally. With non-fiction I love sharing my passions and experiences. I might not be practicing nutritional therapy anymore, but I still enjoy passing along the information in the hopes it will make a difference to someone with weight or health issues. With fiction the options are endless and letting your imagination go wild is exhilarating.

I could have guessed your answer to this question, Sally. Your enthusiasm for both is clearly evident in your writing.

Do you find it easy or difficult to switch between the factual style of writing required for non-fiction and the more dialogue and show don’t tell style writing of fiction?

I often have two books, one fiction and one non-fiction, on the go at the same time, switching between them for a change of pace and to recharge my batteries. You can only write about nutrients and health issues for so long before you need to lighten the mood, and creating a fairy story or getting a character in and out of trouble, refreshes creativity and enthusiasm for both. 

I do enjoy a good conversation face to face in person, and I have missed the opportunity to do so more than anything this last 15 months of lockdown. I do talk to my sisters in the UK via Skype, which at least is face to face and much more emotionally satisfying than talking to someone on a telephone.  Creating dialogue between characters is a great antidote for lack of face to face contact, as is the opportunity to escape these four walls to inhabit the virtual worlds of my imagination.

You are amazing, Sally, with all you do. You are a prolific blogger and writer and everything you publish on both platforms is of an excellent quality. I take my hat off to you, Sally.

Thanks again Robbie for inviting me over and look forward to answering comments and questions from your readers.

Thank you, Sally, for being a wonderful guest and for these incredible answers to my questions.

About Sally Cronin

I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996. My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another thirteen books since then on health and also fiction, including five collections of short stories. My latest book is a collection of verse and speculative short stories titled Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet

I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.

As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books.. as important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog and linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.

My blog is https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com
And for more information on my books listed here at Amazon please visit
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books/

Find Sally Cronin

Amazon UK

Blog

Twitter

Sally Cronin’s books

Sally Cronin has an extensive collection of books which you can find here:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Picture of all of Sally’s books

256 thoughts on “Guest post – Sally Cronin talks about blogging and her books

  1. Fab interview ladies, thanks so much. I also changed countries and schools endlessly as a youngster and never had the chance to make friends. Books were my friends, still are. My stories were called fibs, too, when I used to try to share them with my mother. I learned to keep them to myself. Nutrition is another of my favourite subjects, I studied it but not to the level you have Sally, you speak sense: balance, and cut the sugar and salt. I am so impressed with what you have achieved, it just shows hard work and dedication pay off. I hope your audio project goes well, no idea where social media is headed but it is becoming harder and harder to use. Thanks for all you do to support authors such as myself, you are a gift from heaven. I think I have been following you for ten years – since I began my blog. That cannot be right, ten? You cannot be serious. Keep up the good work, wishing you much success with your books, blog, and audio plans. Stay safe and well, and take some time for yourself, you need it. Thanks Robbie, excellent as usual xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jane, it is my pleasure to host the wonderful Sally and share her interesting answers to my questions with this amazing community. I was also a person who moved a lot (14 schools and 21 houses) and so I also learned to take change in my stride. I don’t have friends from my school days.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I moved a lot too, army and civil service. Later in the music biz, so get it totally. And Sally was in Singapore as a child, like me. Lots in common. Hard for those who have never gone far to understand.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, I didn’t move a lot. Did some back and forth between living away at The School for the Blind and then coming home in summer. Then there were times when situations caused me to be in the public school system so I had two different lives going on all at once. So, for me, books were a great escape!

        Writing things down also was a great help.

        So, I think there are many reasons why reading and writing is important to many.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh I lived in my head as a child, books were everything to me. A great escape indeed, and for you I am sure. Hope you get on well with Guide Dogs for the Blind – positive vibes. xx

        Liked by 1 person

      4. HI Jane, books have always been a love for me because my mother loved reading and she passed that onto me.

        Not at Guide Dogs for the Blind. I am at The Seeing Eye Guide Dog School in Morristown New Jersey.

        Guide Dogs for the Blind is another school we have here but not one I’d choose for myself.

        Talk soon.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. My pile is taller than I am. Or it would be if it were physical books and not digital.

        LOL.

        I get you.

        The great thing about my book, is it is 26 chapters long so I tell people it can be read in less than a month at a chapter a day. Chapters are short enough to read on a lunch break, in the waiting room or in the evening with a glass of wine before bed.

        Anyhow, I really do get it!

        Liked by 2 people

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