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 copy of this book?
I am planning to wait until after the summer and will launch both the E-book and print versions at the end of September.
Here is a short excerpt from Chapter Four of Tales from the Irish Garden along with one of the illustrations from Donata Zawadzka which will appear in the book. This has yet to be finally edited.
Website Donata Zawadzka: http://www.artdonataezawadzka.com/
The Flight to the New Land and The Storyteller
Back at the Palace it was pandemonium, with fairies flying around in a discordant symphony of gossamer wings. Finally, after a day of panic, Queen Filigree ordered her advisors to bring all the members of the court to the ballroom so that she could address them. She also summoned Jacamo the pigeon master, the Queen Bee from the royal hives and Sir Gregory’s chief butterfly messenger; all of whom were essential to the planning of this massive migration to the new land.
‘I want you all to sit down on the chairs provided and close your eyes for a few moments to compose yourselves.’ Queen Filigree looked around the ballroom to make sure all complied with her order. When all the fairies were sitting calmly, she took a deep breath herself, and then issued the following edict.
‘Unfortunately we cannot pack all that we have collected in the last 700 years, and we also cannot transport many of our stone guardians that have guarded our secrets so well.’ The queen heard one or two gasps and ran her eyes over the crowded chamber until she spotted several of her courtiers with their eyes open in dismay.
‘Fairy Nikisha, close your eyes this instant and pay attention.’ Immediately she saw the little blonde fairy’s eyes snap shut again.
Satisfied that she had everyone’s attention she continued.
‘Those guardians that we cannot carry by swan, will be transported north for safety to Prince Zachary’s palace, where one day he will be king. He lives in a safe haven that is protected land, and they will be welcomed there. I charge them with caring for my beloved son and his family for their lifetime.’
Those listening heard the break in their beloved queen’s voice, as she shared this news of their revered guardians. ‘It is with much sadness that I lose their loyalty and wisdom, but we will be taking with us the eagles, who have been our guardians since Roman times, and the Princess Lucinda who came to us from my mother’s kingdom in Anglo.’
Tears were in the queen’s eyes as she took a moment to compose herself. She knew that she had done the best she could for her beloved guardians, and she smiled wryly at the thought that she would even miss that wretched Stoned Band.
‘Now, all of you are to take one silk bag from the corner, and that will be sufficient for some clothes, toiletries, personal mementos, and a honey drink and blueberry muffin for the trip. The Swan Express will be supplying us with Canadian Geese to carry the passengers, and Swan Cobs for the household items such as furniture, linen and gold.’
Queen Filigree clapped her hands. ‘Now, open your eyes all of you, and has anyone got any questions.’
Immediately the Queen Bee lifted one of her furry feet and waved it in the air and began to buzz her question.
‘Your majesty, what about my subjects, and the stores of beeswax and honey, how are they to be transported?’
‘Thank you for asking Queen Bee. You and your hive will be transported in special honey baskets that will be provided by Swan Express. They will be strapped to their most experienced employees, and will leave in two days.’ Satisfied with the solution, the bee queen left to organise her minions.
The next three days passed in a much more orderly fashion, with treasures taken up from the roots of the magnolia, to waiting swans with capacious saddle bags that were filled to the brim. When they left fully loaded, they also carried a senior courtier, who would organise the unpacking and furnishing of the new palace on the Emerald Island.
With only a day to spare, Jacamo and the queen, released all the non-nesting pigeons into the warm spring air to make their own way. A message had already been sent to the Storyteller who had built a dovecote in the branches of the magnolia tree in preparation for their arrival, and within three days, they were all safely roosting and exploring their new surroundings.
On the last day, a line of Canadian Geese lined up on the grass, as a queue of nervous fairy’s clasping silk bags with their treasure possessions, waited to fly up to take their seat along the bird’s broad back. Each was tied on with a thread of spider’s silk and a humming bird moved between them checking they were strapped in and comfortable.
The last goose in the line was reserved for Queen Filigree and her two daughters, with considerably more bags of belongings than those flying in economy. But, as a queen it was important that she meet her new guardian, the Storyteller suitably attired.
With everything loaded, she turned for one last look at the garden that had been her home and kingdom for 700 years, following her arrival as a young bride to the handsome prince. He was now long banished to the human world for his dishonourable behaviour. However, she had many happy memories of her life here, and she would so miss her guardians in the garden, now departed for her son’s palace. She looked up at the branches at the broad green leaves of the magnolia, and saw the tears that had formed on the tips dripping onto the ground. Her own eyes overflowed and she wiped them away with sorrow.
With a deep sigh she flew up to the broad back of the goose where her throne was tied down with spider silk, ready to receive her royal behind. A humming bird brought her a glass of amber nectar, and a packet of honeycomb mixed with ginger in case she felt airsick during the flight. After thanking the flight attendant, the Queen checked that her two daughters were safely seated behind her, and waved her wand in the air to signal that the goose could take to the air.
The goose did a circuit of the now empty magic garden to check that no fairy had been left behind. With a final wave Queen Filigree said her farewell and settled down for the long flight to her new home.
Thanks again Debby for your friendship and support… you are treasured.
Visit Sally’s blog at the Smorgasbord Invitation and meet some new bloggers, add your books to Sally’s Bookstore and Cafe as well as many other opportunities Sally offers.
My latest book was published on 27th July 2017 What’s in a Name – Stories of Life and Romance.. This is Volume Two and takes ordinary people with ordinary names who leave a lasting impression.
You can buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Name-Stories-Life-Romance-ebook/dp/B0748MLZ1W
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