I’m thrilled to have Sally Cronin back to my blog today and feature her new book, What’s in a Name? – Volume 2.
For those of you who may not yet be familiar with Sally’s first book in the series, both books are written as short stories using names to tell a story about a person who was named after something or someone significant to their family legacy.
Sally’s stories touch so many in all of her books, no matter if they’re her heartfelt short stories or her informative, nutritional and healthy living books. Sal gets to the heart of the matters in all of her writing. Sally is a dynamo in both the virtual and her real world. She’s lived a most exciting and entrepeneurial life and shares her experiences in her books and on her blog – SmorgasbordInvitation .
Sally’s blog is informative and entertaining, almost like a magazine you can visit and
flip scroll through daily. The blog is aptly titled Smorgasbord because of the variety of posts she offers – everything from short stories, interviews, laughter, health advice, and of course, the many promotions she offers writers to feature their posts, books and book reviews.
I’d like to mention two things I most enjoy about Sally’s blog (besides the fact that she’s one of the best promoters of other’s works), her daily posts offer a variety of posts which come in handy for those bloggers who may have missed them elsewhere, plus we get an opportunity to read some great articles she hand picks to feature for the day where we can be entertained or learn something new and make new connections with those bloggers. Second, I can attest to the many new friendships I’ve made along the way from connecting with many of these bloggers I’ve met through Sally’s blog. These friendships we make along the way enrich our lives and tend to expand our own blog following when we engage, which expands readership on our own blogs and within the blogging community. As writers, it’s important to forge these connections which often lead to great friendships beyond the virtual world. As a writer who is often confined to my four writing walls, I can certainly attest to the fact that nobody understands a writer’s life quite like another writer.
My name is Sally Georgina Cronin but you will find that I have had a number of variations online and for my books including Georgina Cronin and Sally Cronin.
After working in a number of industries for over 25 years, I decided that I wanted to pursue a completely different career, one that I had always been fascinated with. I began studying Nutrition and the human body twenty years ago and I opened my first diet advisory centre in Ireland in 1998. Over the last 18 years I have practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as written columns, articles and radio programmes on health and nutrition. I published my first book with a Canadian self-publisher in the late 90s and since then have republished that book and released nine others as part of our own self-publishing company. Apart from health I also enjoy writing fiction in the form of novels and short stories.
Our legacy is not always about money or fame, but rather in the way that people remember our name after we have gone. In these sixteen short stories we discover the reasons why special men and women will stay in the hearts and minds of those who have met them. Romance, revenge and sacrifice all play their part in the lives of these characters.
Kenneth watches the love of his life dance on New Year’s Eve while Lily plants very special flowers every spring for her father. Martha helps out a work colleague as Norman steps back out into the world to make a difference. Owen brings light into a house and Patrick risks his life in the skies over Britain and holds back from telling a beautiful redhead that he loves her.
Meet Queenie and Rosemary who have both lost their husbands and must face a very different future. One that will take courage and the use of new technology.
Sonia is an entitled princess whose father has reached the end of his tether and Theresa has to deal with a bully in the checkout. Usher is an arrogant narcissist with a docile wife and is used to getting his own way and Vanessa worries about the future of her relationship with her teenage son.
Walter is a loner and is happy with just his dog for company, Xenia is the long awaited first baby of a young couple. Yves is a dashing romeo who has the tables turned on him unexpectedly and Zoe… Well she can see into the future.
In one way or another all these characters will be remembered by those whose lives they have touched.
*There is also a bonus story introducing a new collection The Village Square to be published in 2018.
Now, without any further ado, Sally has generously offered to share one of her short stories for this post and she has cleverly picked out a story about shoes because she knew shoes are a subject close to my heart. Sheesh, my shoe-lovin’ reputation has certainly been made known, even in the virtual world. In one of Sally’s other books, Just an Odd Job Girl, Sally tells the story about a girl named Imogen, which includes many odd jobs she worked along the way, rising above many sticky issues. The book is written in the fiction genre, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that Imogen was indeed Sally! Today, Sally is sharing a story about one of those jobs she had from the real life version.
Odd Jobs and Characters – The Shoe Department by Sally Cronin
My thanks so much to the wonderful Debby Gies.. .D.G. Kaye for her continued and much appreciated support for my blog and books.
I loved working in the dental surgery, but I felt that I would like to take the medical side of my training further. I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and join the Royal Navy as a nurse in the Queen Alexandra’s Nursing Service. I applied and was accepted for an interview which I attended at Haslar Naval Hospital. It was a bit of an ordeal as it involved a written exam, physical exam and an interview with senior nursing and naval officers. I returned home and waited for the outcome. A letter arrived a week later, to say that I had been accepted, but not for another eighteen months.
This left me in a quandary, and being the age I was, I felt that before I joined up I should see a little more of life. I handed in my notice at the dental surgery, applying to the local department store for a temporary job whilst I decided on my strategy for the next year or so.
I have to point out that I am one of three sisters, with a mother who loved shoes and handbags, and it appeared that she had passed those particular genes onto us. I can remember at a very early age spending many happy hours in the bottom of my mother’s wardrobe, rummaging through her high heeled dancing shoes and trying them out for size. Not very elegant at five years old, but habit forming.
When I was offered a temporary post over Christmas, in the shoe department of Handley’s Department store in Southsea, I was obviously more than excited. Little did I know that I would experience petty theft, a rather revealing encounter and potentially dangerous equipment!
The shoe department was staffed by a manager and a number of assistants, one of which had been there for donkey’s years. She was a spinster lady, who seemed ancient to me at the time, but was probably only in her fifties. She was designated to show me the ropes and duly took me under her wing. One of the bonuses of working in the shoe department was that you received commission on every pair of shoes you sold. You would cut out the front of the shoe box and write your name on it, saving these up until the Thursday and handing them to the manager to be sent up to the accounts department. It didn’t add a fortune to your weekly pay, but a few extra shillings a week was not to be sniffed at.
My mentor told me not to worry the first week, as she would make sure that the box ends were collected and handed to the manager. I kept a record of my sales and was surprised to find that I was missing half my commission on the Friday. I was new and didn’t want to rock the boat, but I obviously looked after my own box ends after that. I later found out that one of the other girls had encountered the same problem when she started. We had a couple more assistants arrive to help over the Christmas rush and we made sure took them under our wings!
Come the sales in January and we were rushed off our feet with high end shoes reduced considerably. I also got staff discount and was in seventh heaven, spending my lunch hours in the stock room trying on everything in my size. One day a very smart middle-aged customer arrived and pointed out several pairs of shoes that she wished to try on. Delighted by my luck in finding a big spender, I set about gathering my wares.
We had short-legged stools with a sloping rubber covered surface on which a foot was guided into shoes with a shoe horn, and if needed a gentle shove. As I helped madam into her first shoe, I looked up to see if she approved, to find her skirt had slid upward to above the knee. She was wearing no knickers, and I have to say that for a moment I had no idea where to look. The customer was completely unconcerned and not wishing to cause embarrassment, I tried to keep my focus on the number of box ends I would be submitting at the end of the week.
This brings me to the piece of equipment that was in my opinion highly unsuitable for use in a department store. Particularly as it was primarily used to identify if a child had sufficient room in their new shoes for their feet to grow. You placed the customer’s feet on a platform underneath the housing of the machine, looking through a viewfinder to see the x-ray. Having worked in a dental surgery with stringent precautions when using an x-ray machine, I was astonished to find one in use in public. I am afraid that after my introduction to this equipment I relied on the safer, tried and tested method of determining fit, by pressing my thumb all around the child’s foot in the new shoe to check for the necessary growing room. These shoe-fitting fluoroscopes were subsequently banned in the mid-1970s in the USA and Europe, and thankfully I only had minimal exposure. There were however grave concerns over the long-term effects on sales personnel who had used the machines over many years.
However, I did enjoy my time in the shoe department and also being in a sales environment. I had made friends amongst the staff (except for one) and asked if I could stay on. They no longer needed me in the shoe department, but I was asked if I would like to be a powder blender and roving consultant in the cosmetic department. My favourite items after shoes… More adventures on the horizon.
Thanks for that story Sal. It was no wonder I enjoyed that book so much because I was captivated by Imogen’s dynamic personality and her ability to adapt to all of her surroundings and her ability to excel at whatever situation was presented to her. She instantly reminded me of you, and your empowering personality. And no doubt, just some of those qualities about you were common ground between us that drew us together as friends.
A few weeks ago Sally shared one of her heartfelt stories in her new book, What’s in a Name? Volume 2, it’s titled Xenia. And I want to share that story here to give you a sampling of what you can expect to find in her book of heartfelt stories.
Your name is Xenia, after your Greek grandmother, whose wrinkled complexion smelt of roses and almond oil. I remember the hot summers of our visits as we played on the rocks beneath her stone house; working up an appetite for the platters of goat’s cheese, olives and warm bread. The loaves were taken straight from the wood stove; handled carefully with well worn hessian rags, and served up on the rough wooden table in her wild garden. I remember being fascinated by her hands as they sliced thick warm chunks with an ancient serrated bread knife. They were blackened from nearly 80 years in the sun, with dark-rimmed nails from digging into the soil for home grown vegetables.
She was still a beautiful woman, who loved to have her long black and grey hair gently brushed in the twilight; sipping delicately from her glass of rose pink wine. Happy sighs filled the scented air; encouraging continued effort. We dreaded her tears as we left to catch the ferry at the end of summer, with her whispered goodbyes and pleas for us to return again the next year, remaining in our minds for weeks afterwards.
But one summer only my father made the journey, to stay just a week to bury his beloved mother, with her silver backed hair brush and a small bottle of almond oil resting in her hands.
That was ten years ago and I have been saving up her name to give to you, my first child. From the moment I knew that I was carrying you in my womb, I felt certain that you would be a girl and worthy of this much loved name. As the months passed, and I felt that first movement beneath my hand, I began to talk to you of your name and the woman who owned it with such grace. Sometimes when I listened to music playing softly in the background, I would feel a flutter, as if you were dancing in time to the tune. I would imagine Xenia, swaying and clapping her hands in delight, lost in the gentle songs that my father played on his guitar after our evening meal. I knew she would be so happy that I had named you after her.
My time with my grandmother was too short, but I had saved up the stories to tell you, as well as photographs we took during those summers. I would tell you those tales as we rocked, still joined together, in the chair in the newly painted nursery. I promised to show you the embarrassing snaps of your mother when a girl, dressed in her bathing suit with face filled with sticky baklava. I imagined taking you back to Greece to see where you came from, and to visit Xenia’s grave to lay some blossom, and to show her how beautiful you are. I was certain that your hair would be raven black and that you would love almonds.
Your father laughed at me as I waddled around the house in search of more feta cheese and pickled onions. He said that there must be two of you, or that you were really a big bouncing boy; destined to be a rugby player. He would lay his head on my stomach and listen to your heartbeat; loving it when you kicked against his hand. We had chosen not to know the gender of our baby. I already knew it was a girl to be called Xenia, and your father just wanted a baby who was healthy that we would love.
I knew the moment you had gone. All was still where you had been so active. I thought you must be sleeping, and lay in the hospital bed resting, waiting for that kick and ripple, telling me you wanted my attention. But the cold gel, and pressure of the machine in a doctor’s hand, broke the spell. Your father and I held each other as we cried at our loss.
The love I feel for you will not diminish or change throughout my life. It comforts me to imagine you holding the hand of your great-grandmother, as you twirl to the music of a guitar. I see you eating baklava with sticky fingers, and her washing your hands and face lovingly, with rose scented water. I know that you are safe now, and that one day, we will meet face to face, and I will recognise you as the child of my heart. One day the three of us will sit in that wild garden, and laugh in the sunshine.
My two beloved Xenias…..
You can buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Name-Stories-Life-Romance-ebook/dp/B0748MLZ1W
Thank you so much for being here today Sally, and for sharing your wonderful stories with us. I am very much looking forward to reading your newest book! And before I let you go, I must ask you if you can please just give us a little hint about your next book you mentioned about The Village Square?
The Village Square is a collection of short stories about the inhabitants of a small village through the second world war. It is based on the village that my mother was brought up in and where I was born. The stories will be linked by a small number of central characters who will feature across the stories from time to time. I will be using my mother and father’s recollections of those years and basing characters on the people I knew growing up.
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