Sally Cronin is the author of sixteen books including her memoir Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 330lb first published in 2001. This has been followed by another fifteen books both fiction and non-fiction including multi-genre collections of short stories and poetry.
As an author she understands how important it is to have support in marketing books and offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities on her blog and across her social media. Her podcast shares book reviews, poetry and short stories.
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.
Thank you very much, Lisette, for inviting me to join you in the Writer’s Chateau today…
(It is my great pleasure, Sally! It’s been my wish to have you as a guest for quite some time.)
Your Smorgasbord Blog Magazine is one of the best online magazines I’ve seen. It’s very special. Can you tell us how it began? Feel free to brag about your invaluable contributors.
Thank you very much. I am delighted you enjoy the blog and its format it has evolved over the last 11 years and it is something I love putting together.
The concept actually began back in 2004 when I was co-presenting some shows on English speaking radio in Spain. I had been a nutritional consultant since the late 90s and was delighted to be asked to present health segments on the morning show. After a few weeks, listeners began emailing with questions, so I thought I would start a monthly newsletter on nutrition, food, recipes, health issues etc. This was emailed out for two years on subscription and evolved to include other areas including humour. I also presented the short story competitions on the station, recording the stories, and this in part fueled my own love of writing them.
Whilst looking after my mother in the UK from 2008 I carried on presenting on radio on the local station including interviewing authors on my Sunday Show and doing a health show on Thursdays. When I turned to blogging in 2012 I therefore had all the ingredients needed to bring Smorgasbord Blog Magazine to life featuring health, nutrition, food, music, short stories, author interviews and book promotion and humour. Of course it didn’t take off immediately but I built up a presence on social media platforms and that is how I connected with the wonderful people who now contribute as part of the team on the magazine and have become great friends too.
One of these was William Price King on Twitter. I was putting together a series of interviews with creative artists across art, music and writing. It took a chance and contacted William and asked if he would be a guest and thankfully he agreed. He is an amazing classical and jazz singer and composer and over the last nine years he has brought an incredible range of music to the blog. In the last two years we have been co-presenting the Breakfast Show with hits from the 40s through to the 2000s and this year we are showcasing the Big Band Era and the dance crazes from the 20s through to the 50s.
Debby Gies who writes as D.G. Kaye, connected with me back in 2015 and participated in a women’s health series with an article on heart health and then in a number of interviews. Debby loves travelling and in 2017 began a column taking us on cruises and visits to popular destinations around the world, followed by her Relationship Column and now Spiritual Awareness. An amazing author Debby writes non-fiction and memoirs as well as terrific blog posts and also does an excellent job in foraging for funnies to share in our laughter posts every week.
Carol Taylor lives in Thailand and ran a restaurant there. She participated in one of the guest post series in 2016 with an article about her rescue dog and the organization in Thailand who work hard to take dogs off the street and re-home them. Once we got chatting about our shared passion for food and healthy eating, I asked Carol is she would like to write a food column and the rest is history. Passionate about the environment Carol created the Green Kitchen column for the blog in 2021. Currently we are re-running her information packed A-Z of Culinary terms and foods with recipes that are guaranteed to prevent malnutrition. We co-wrote the series Cook from Scratch which focused on the individual vitamins and minerals needed to be healthy and I am looking forward to showcasing her cookbook which she has promised us soon.
Finally but certainly not least, two authors with a great sense of humour also contribute to our funnies each month. Daniel (Danny Kemp) shares wonderful memes and jokes on his Facebook Page and lets me wander in from time to time to pinch and share. Malcolm Allen lives in Australia and he kindly sends us an email each month with his take on life and is happy for me to share on the blog.
I’ve read two of your books, Sally. They were wonderful. I love the creativity in your poetry and short stories. You capture so many nuances of nature and put them on center stage. Is nature your favorite topic? What else demands your attention?
Thanks for the boost for the books, Lisette. I feel most at home when I am in the natural environment. I used to clamber up and down mountains and trails wherever we lived and on holidays but these days my knees have a mind of their own. I am restricted to walks by the sea and to taking care of the flowers and the birds in the garden. Over the last six years in our home here in Ireland I have found myself the proprietor of the Birdseed Café and Spa with a regular clientele of sparrows, starlings, tits, doves, crows and jackdaws. They get a running buffet of seed, nuts, suet, fats and fruit each day and they have an ‘all you can eat’ approach which means we are fully booked every day. They bring me great pleasure and are worth every penny, particularly during the lockdown when they were not restricted in their visits and entertained every day.
My other focus is people, and you can’t get to 70 years old without a few life experiences, good and bad, and sometimes terrible, without becoming a student of human nature. These days of course, most of my interactions are online, but that is interesting in many ways. Not only do you see the normal human behavior at play, but also some that are normally kept hidden when face to face with others. Plenty of fodder for any writer, and whilst I am careful about who I follow as I have had a few less than pleasant experiences over the last twelve years, I love following people who have quirky approach to life… they are a great source of characters for stories.
Is there something you’d like to write that you haven’t written yet?
I do enjoy crime thrillers both books and movies and television dramas and in our house it is a race to identify ‘who dunnit’. I do have a work in progress that might turn out to be that genre, it is progressing along that path and we shall just have to see how it goes.
You’re known (and so appreciated) as an amazing and supportive friend to many authors and other creatives. You do an incredible amount of work to highlight the work of others. What drives you?
When I wrote my first book Size Matters about my 150lb weight loss and a nutritional guide to losing weight in 1998, I approached an agent and we worked together to edit the book and he then sent out to seven publishers. They all came back with a rejection but it wasn’t for the book which they thought was good. It was because I was in my mid-forties, probably with only the one book, no public presence and probably not newsworthy. So I self-published with a Canadian POD company and set about marketing it. My background in operations which included marketing, sales and customer services was useful as I was accustomed to preparing promotional material and I sent out press releases locally where we lived in Ireland to the national papers and also to UK women’s magazines. It did pretty well and I got quite a bit of publicity. It was a time when obesity was not the norm it is today and stories of major weight loss made news.
When we moved to Spain I worked with the Canadian company acquiring more authors for them and as my husband formatted my books, he began to format for other authors too. I began working on English speaking radio which was a great place to promote my own books and I also began helping the authors with their physical launches.
It was tough back then when the big mainstream publishes were ruling the roost and being self-published implied that your book was not worth the paper it was written on. That drove me to find ways to promote my books but also other indie authors who needed a platform. I know that people are wary of the internet and some are reluctant to open themselves up to the world, but in fact it is the best thing that ever happened as far as authors are concerned.
It does, however, take work to build a presence and to understand that marketing your books is part of being an author. Some still don’t get it and think that readers are just going to rush over to Amazon to buy their books whilst they sit on the sidelines and watch the show. It simply does not work that way, and there are plenty of con artists out there ready to part authors from their money with promises they cannot keep.
I know the readership of my own books is within the writing community online, and it is important to be an active member. Supporting other authors and their books is part of that focus, and I get a great deal of pleasure in helping boost the interest in their work.
I love the way you write poetry in triangular shapes. It’s so pretty and clever. Did you always write this way? Why is this special to you?
There are a number of forms that occur when using syllabic poetry and it does often reinforce the message in the poem. A triangle or a reversed triangle can add an emphasis to the words either bringing to a point by ending on one word, or bringing the whole poem to a satisfying ending with the longest line. Other forms mirror the subject of the poem…for example a Butterfly Cinquain such as this one I wrote recently.
camouflaged to conceal
their tempting plump juvenile forms
to morph into silken cocoons
as a bewinged
Please, tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is Variety is the Spice of Life : A Blend of Poetry and Prose.
In the first part, I share my most recent poetry about life, love, relationships with a special section on my garden and its inhabitants. In the second half of the book, there are eight short stories all with a different theme, with touches of revenge, paranormal, mystery, and love.
You’ve written a lot of books. Do you have a favorite?
Since it is partly auto-biographical, I would say Just An Odd Job Girl is one I that is special to me. I have certainly had a varied career, and it was fun to take the jobs and my experiences and turn it into a novel. I am always delighted when I see a review for the book even though I wrote it in 2002, and I love the comments it receives when I have serialized on the blog.
Do you have any advice for first-time authors?
I have worked with many first time authors, and most get in touch when their book is already published and they are just thinking about how to promote it. I believe very strongly that it is important to be preparing for the marketing of a first book almost before you begin writing it.
I know that people can be dismissive of blogging and social media and say they don’t have time for it, but without an online presence how do they expect their book to be noticed. Amazon is just a book store and it doesn’t do any marketing except when you are more established and your book has sold some copies.
I appreciate that it takes time to gain followers on social media and connect with like-minded followers who might read your book or at least share to their own connections, but it is worth the effort.
I have been running my series on PR for authors and book marketing on my blog through January 2023, but I have a pdf of the series for anyone who would like a copy. It goes into detail on how to set up an online presence including Amazon, Goodreads, and social media and it is available by emailing me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?
There is still a lingering disdain for indie publishing that annoys me intensely since the work involved in the writing of a book through to it landing on the bookshelf is complex and time consuming. I know that there are some books around that might not be as good as they should be but with grammar aids, editing services and technology advances books are of a higher standard. I have certainly paid good money for mainstream published books that I have not finished.
I know some authors who have gone the mainstream route to publishing and some do very well and others felt their control of the process including the editing of their books has been compromised. Many have now taken back the copyright for their books and are Indie and happy to be so.
Additionally today, unless you are considered to be the next Lee Child or Stephen King, you can forget about a massive advance and kiss goodbye to a mega marketing campaign. Many end up doing the same book promotions as an indie author.
By all means if you are a new author, do your research. I always have a current copy of Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook which lists agents, publishers and also useful articles on presenting your manuscript. You need to avoid a shotgun approach to sending out your work and narrow down specific agents and publishers who work with your genre or area of expertise. For example children’s books or young adult, memoirs, and romance, and then check out their requirements for a submission and follow it to the letter.
If you face rejection, then keep going, but don’t dismiss the idea of self-publishing and if you have been building your brand along the way you will already be set up and ready to go it alone with the help of the writing community.
Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?
We live on the east coast of Ireland in County Wexford about half a mile from the sea. We have been living here for nearly seven years after having a home in Madrid for seventeen years. It did take me a while to acclimatize after enjoying 300 days of sunshine and 60 days of rain or snow, to the complete opposite of 300 days of rain and 60 days of sunshine! Well it feels like that anyway, although the warmth of the people around us makes up for it. We are about to move again this year to a smaller house, but it will be here in Ireland further down the coast. Ireland is one of the most economically stable countries in the EU and for pensioners it offers excellent benefits.
Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?
We used to do all of the above and I still enjoy a road trip from time to time. We have swapped planes for ferries whenever possible and to be honest it would take an emergency to get me into an airport and on a plane today. We would still like to do the Rockies by train so perhaps with enough margaritas I might be persuaded to fly again, but it would take quite a few.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
I definitely count being taught to read and write as up there as the best gifts I have received. Without that I would never enjoyed all the books I have read, been able to enjoy a wonderful varied career, indulged in my passion for writing and probably never met my husband. After all, without being able to read and write, I would never have been assistant manager in the hotel in Wales he decided to stay in on business and ask me out on a date.
Thank you very much, Lisette, for allowing me to share my thoughts and I would love to respond to any comments and questions from your readers.
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