Guest Author Feature – Sally Cronin on #Friendship and a Sneak Peak of her Upcoming Book

  I am thrilled to have back over here, Sally Cronin of the wonderful Smorgasbord Invitation. Sally is one of the busiest bloggers and authors I know, and that is saying a lot because as writers, we are always busy juggling many things at once. But Sally runs her always informative and entertaining blog where she features her short stories, her health articles, her bookstore and cafe where she features the works of other authors, a Blog Magazine Column on several topics where a few authors, including myself, write for once a month, as well as many articles to make us smile. As though her blog wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she is also the author of  almost 12 books!   Today Sally is sharing her thoughts with us on friendships and how our connections with friends has changed through the years, and especially with the advancement of digital connections. Sally has also included a generous sneak peak of her upcoming book – Tales from the Irish Garden – to be released in September. I’m honored to be able to share an excerpt of that upcoming book for the first time, right here on this post!   About Sally Cronin: I have lived a fairly nomadic existence living in eight countries including the Sri Lanka, South Africa and USA before settling back here in Ireland. My work, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories. 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 ten books since then on health and also fiction including three collections of short stories. 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.     The Changing Face of Friendship   My thanks to Debby for inviting me over for a chat today on her amazing blog.  Her friendship is one that supports and encourages me on a daily basis, and has made me a firm believer in the positive aspects of social media platforms. I wish that this technology had been around a long time ago. As a child we moved around a lot, and the greatest sadness for me was leaving friends behind. I have met people, who still have a relationship that have lasted 50 years since school because they have remained in their home town, but I am sure many of you have moved and lost contact. I would have two years at most in a school, make good friends and then we would be off to another country, and the process began again. I did try to keep in touch, especially as I got into my teens, and following our return from South Africa, I corresponded for about a year with my best friend from school. I saved up for the stamps out of my pocket money and on average we would both write once a month.  After about 12 months, the letters began to dwindle. Whilst I managed to scrape together the money for one stamp a month to South Africa, there was no way that I could afford five or six to keep up with my other school friends. This pattern was repeated until I was 14 years old when we returned to Portsmouth from Lancashire, and even though this was the same country, it was still difficult to keep in touch.   There was no Facebook, Twitter or any other social media and in our house, and I am sure in many of your homes, the phone was only for important calls and not to be wasted on hour long chit chat with friends! Recently, I have been sharing the letters I wrote home weekly to my parent s from Houston in Texas, where we lived for two years from 1985 to 1987. As I type them up for the posts, it is interesting how rarely I mention the fact that we had spoken on the telephone, as it was very expensive back then to call internationally, especially for my parents. If we did speak, it would be for a few minutes, and notes would be made beforehand to ensure we got in everything we had to say! Thankfully by the early to mid-1990s, email became more and more accessible, and that made a huge difference. I was able to get back in touch with the friends that we made in Texas, and several of us are still in touch today.  The wonders of modern technology enable us to speak face to face, which adds such an incredible element to maintaining a relationship. And with the added bonus of being able add a number of people to the conversation, you can almost have a party! The Internet has brought us many things, some of which are less attractive than others. It brings the world to our desktop or device, often within minutes of an event. It enables us to watch the highs and lows of humanity as it struggles to survive, but it also brings us the most amazing opportunities for friendship, never experienced before in the history of humankind. There are amazing benefits to enjoying strong friendship with others, including those that support our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. There is no doubt that many of us suffer from health issues and some people carry that burden throughout their lives.  As we get older, there are likely to be some aches and pains, and possibly more serious health problems that develop. The worst thing about ill health, grief or depression, is the feeling of isolation; that you are dealing with the issue alone.  I see posts in my timeline from people who are in hospital, who have been diagnosed with cancer, have lost a loved one, have been fired from their job or have a broken relationship.  They are reaching out in need of human contact, and if you then scroll down the post, you will see the most amazing words of encouragement, support and love.  That sense of not being alone and unnoticed, and that people who you have only met through an online platform, care enough to support you, makes a huge difference to recovery physically, mentally and emotionally. We also are mentally stimulated by our interactions with others, and one of the key factors in maintaining a healthy brain, is to actively explore the world and learn more about the people in it. It is amazing to me to have online chats with people thousands of miles away, in countries that I will never visit in my lifetime, and discover so many new and exciting aspects to their lives. I also love reading their blog posts and are informative and entertaining. Emotionally there is a sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people who share your passions, values and who confirm that you are part of the big picture.  I am sure that like me, many of you switch your computer on in the morning, heading over to Facebook to see what your friends are up to. It is wonderful to share in their celebrations, travels and also to support them when things are not going as well as they might. I am sure that like me, you don’t accept everyone as a friend. The odd one slips through, who is after more than a chat about the weather and life, but that is the same in the offline world too. You won’t become close with everyone that you connect with online, but over time you will find that you have a circle of contacts that move into closer relationships, that are treasured, and will last hopefully for a long time. Debby and I first made contact through my blog back in early 2015 and within a few weeks, she was my guest on my Sunday interview…. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/the-sunday-show-a-funny-thing-happened-to-author-d-g-kaye/ I checked, and our first email communications were about a month earlier than that, and we had also connected on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Since that time we have discovered that we have much in common.  Certainly we seem to share quite a few of life’s ups and downs and our passion for books, health, travel and sense of humour. It has developed over that three years into a friendship that is just as important to me as those I have with anyone offline. Today Debby is a valued contributor to my blog with her fantastic Travel Column. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye/ At the start of this post I talked about how sad I felt that I have left so many friends behind over the years. There is no excuse for that today and even if we never meet face to face, and some of our connections will drop away for one reason or another, we still can make every effort to keep in touch and be there for each other in many wonderful ways. The technology will evolve  and offer many more ways to maintain friendships throughout our lifetimes, however far apart we might live in the physical world. I hope to still be talking to you when I am 90 and aging disgracefully! I am sure that I have left one or two names off this world of friendship, but isn’t it an amazing privilege to be able to say that you have pen pals across the globe ,that you can communicate with at the touch of a button?     For you Sally Cronin fans out there, heads up! Sally will be launching her newest book in early fall – Tales from the Irish Garden. For those of you who haven’t read her first book in the series where Sally brings her beautiful Spanish garden to life, Sally now takes us into her Irish Garden to find out how the fairy queen and her court are coping with their move from Spain and the new characters that they have discovered with the move to Ireland.   Sally, please give us a little taster about your new and upcoming book.   Tales from the Irish Garden has a different format this time, more of a novel than a series of short stories. Queen Filigree has to vacate the palace under the magnolia tree in Spain for a number of reasons and there is a massive exodus to the Emerald Island and the magic garden. There she and her courtiers meet the Storyteller who is the guardian of the garden and they move into a palace in the roots of his magnolia tree. The story follows their adventures over the next twelve months from Christmas to Christmas.   Can we expect to meet some new characters in this book or have you transported all your characters from Book 1 into your Irish garden?   There are some returning characters but unfortunately many of the guardian statues from the Spanish garden were too heavy to transport. However, one or two made in under their own steam, such as the eagles and also the lost princess. But there are plenty of new characters to meet including Jeremy the Donkey, The Dapperman, the half-fairy Summer and her children, and many creatures from the forest around the garden. Some of the illustrations were done by Donata Zawadzka and I love the way that she has captured the queen and some of the other characters.   When can we expect to get our hands on a … Continue reading Guest Author Feature – Sally Cronin on #Friendship and a Sneak Peak of her Upcoming Book