Today we sit down with prolific blogger and author, Sally Cronin. I know that when I sit down at my computer every morning to look at my favorite blogs, hers is one that I am sure to check out. I’m excited to give her some space on my blog to tell you about herself, her work and her inspiration. Please enjoy this special installment of 20 Questions.
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was lost in my imagination as a child and spent quite a bit of time in my own company. I loved reading and they were usually books far too advanced for my age. I read my first Wilbur Smith at age 11 and was hooked. However, I felt overwhelmed by the number of pages and my writing began with poems until I was about 13 when regular essay writing at school led me to write short stories. Life intruded for many years but I found my way back to it in my early 40s; so all’s well that ends well!
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
It depends if it is fiction or non-fiction. A health book can take longer depending on the subject matter but on average around three months. I usually write about 14,000 words a week when I am on a roll. I write two books alongside each other usually. One fiction and one non-fiction which I find keeps me from stalling on either of them.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I usually work for three hours first thing in the morning, a couple of hours after lunch and then another couple late afternoon between walks, shopping and life in general. Some of that is not books however, as I write for at least a couple of hours on the blog. Basically, put me in front of a screen and I will write.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not sure it is a quirk but some people who know me personally say that they can hear me talking when they read my writing.
Q5) How are your books published? (traditional, indie, etc.)
Indie all the way since 2001 – so pleased that I did too. I went the mainstream route for two years before that and it was interesting and a valuable experience. Like all writers I would love to make a living but I have also met many mainstream authors who are not making money either.
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
My non-fiction books on health are either reference style or specific subjects that are topical and they find usually suggest themselves. Other books such as the Media Training were written to accompany my training courses. The fiction books have been prompted by events or people in my life such as my own temporary jobs when in my 20s and our ten years of being employed by our collie dog Sam! Tales from the Garden and other short stories are triggered by images that I have captured on my camera.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book?
I was 43 when I wrote my first book, Size Matters, but it was six years before I felt ready to publish such a personal story. So twenty years this year.
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love music and films and I am rarely without my headphones on when working around the house of walking. As part of my job on radio I got to play music across the decades which was an amazing experience and I now have a very eclectic collection to keep me happy. As to movies, living in Madrid meant that most film releases were not available and we had to wait until they came out on DVD or download them. Delighted now we are back in Ireland to actually watch films again on the big screen.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
That is a really tough question and I would be hard pressed to answer. However, if I had only one choice of a book to take with me to a desert island then I probably would take Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel. I have loved all her books but the first was so absorbing that it ignited an abiding fascination with that era in human history. To the extent that I had my DNA tested which traced back to a woman in the same time period whose bones were found in a cave in southern France, Northern Spain region.
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
My husband is hugely supportive. He runs our self-publishing concern so he is heavily involved in the production process. He also enjoys reading the work in progress and always has valuable suggestions. My friends are definitely supportive and this includes both friends I have had for many years and those I have met online.
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That those reading them enjoyed my writing. It still surprises and of course delights me.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
I don’t actually hate anything about the process. I have even come to enjoy the editing of the books, time and time again, as I find areas that read more fluidly after some tweaking. Each stage of writing a book should be treasured. I am still learning my craft and practice makes perfect.
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have written nine books and I like them all as they are very different. If you were to twist my arm then it would be Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story as reading it for each new edition brings back such happy memories of a wonderful time as a family.. He was the boss but a very loving one.
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
Write for your readers not yourself. Leave them wanting more not less of your work.
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
I am writing my books now on the blog. Because I am not locked into Amazon or any other publishing program, I can share my writing wherever I like. This means that I get instant feedback and in my last book Tales from the Garden it became clear very early on what was popular and allowed me to react to that in a positive way. I am just about to start a new book exclusive to the blog that will end up being published by Christmas. In about three months I will also write the Tales from the Garden volume two. I am very grateful that there is such positive feedback and any constructive feedback is invaluable.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
Any age, any gender, any time! Love it of course when someone buys a book but I get so much pleasure sharing my older books free on the blog because I wrote them to be read.
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
I like a really strong opening… Followed by a well-crafted story that reaches an appropriate and satisfying ending. Even when a book is in series I like to feel that a certain point has been reached that ties off loose ends with the promise of more to come in the next book. A master of this way of storytelling is Bernard Cornwell. I just roll from one of his books to another without taking a breath… Just finishing off book three of the Grail Quest and have sailed through the books like a knife through butter. It was the same with The Last Kingdom – the nine books simply melded into each other seamlessly. I am working my way through all his books at the moment so looking forward to a couple more years of reading pleasure.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
We did not have television until we returned from South Africa in 1965 and my mother made me watch the Saturday afternoon Hollywood musical with her. I loved the whole concept of music, dancing, singing and acting and from that moment on I wanted to be the next Ginger Rogers. I was in school and college musicals and also sang with a band but my parents were intent on me having something to fall back on, so I trained as a secretary and later as a dental nurse. Not much singing there I can tell you. Still, since then I have worked on radio and television and had the chance to perform in a sense. And one should never say never!
Q19) Where can we find your books?
My books are all on Amazon and my author’s page has all the links.
Amazon India: http://www.amazon.in/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
I also have my own selling pages via the publishing site where I am able to offer most at a hefty discount and the links to the books can be found via My Books on my blog.
Q20. Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?
Here is part of one of the chapters from Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story when Sam, as a young puppy met our resident feral tom cat Henry.
MY FIRST REAL FRIEND
It may surprise you to know that I learnt to speak Cat before I fully understood human talk. When I was twelve weeks old Sally took me to the place with the strong smells again and I remembered the sharp pain that I had experienced last time and was ready this time. I did not understand the word that the man who gave me the sharp pain said when I sank my teeth into the soft part of his hand but it was very loud.
By this time I had learnt quite a few words as Sally and David talked to me all the time. At first I only got the basics like ‘sit’ and ‘good boy’ which always seemed to be accompanied by a small piece of chicken and because this treat was my favourite at the time, I made a point of remembering these words as it obviously pleased her.
What I did not understand at the time was the conversation that Sally had with the man with the sharp object. He apparently told her that I would end up with a vocabulary of about fourteen to twenty words. How wrong can a man be.
However, on our return from this visit, to what I now know to be the vet, I was allowed a little more freedom and was introduced to the front garden of the house. The previous owners had built the house in the middle of a two acre plot with nearly an acre of garden to the front, half that again at the back as garden then the remaining left as wild meadow.
The cultivated part of the property was laid out with hundreds of bushes and trees as the previous owners both belonged to families with garden centres who had obviously been very generous. The one drawback was the size of the lawns which required the hire of a local odd jobber with a wonderful smelly monster that he rode up and down on and which belched regularly. One of my favourite games was slipping out of the front door unnoticed and barking encouragement to monster and driver as they drove slightly crookedly across the lawn.
It was a wonderful playground for a young dog but the reason I had not been allowed to play out there until now was because another dog was also using it as his territory. He would crawl under the flimsy fence whenever he felt like it and for months I thought his name was “That Bloody Danny” since that is what my mistress called him each time she saw him peeing on her begonias in front of the house. His name was actually just Danny and he was a rather daft Spaniel who was also rather lacking in manners but more about him later.
There were also other creatures that used the gardens and meadow at the back of the house, such as foxes, feral cats and rabbits all of whom might have been infected with disease. Hence my fenced off area by the kitchen door with my kennel, sun beds and pool, affectionately known as Costa del Sam. Funny that I would end up living on the Costa del Sol when I was five years old.
Back to my new found freedom. I was due to have a final vaccination at about fourteen weeks but the vet said that I should be safe enough in the rest of the garden. Sally and David had been living in the house for about a year when I arrived and I did not know that I was not the first four legged person on the premises.
One morning Sally left me outside the front door for a couple of minutes whilst she went back inside for one of my new balls to play with. The moment that she stepped through the doorway I heard a strange sound coming from around the side of the garage that was joined to the front of the house.
“Pzzt.” It was a sound that I was unfamiliar with and being young and foolish I immediately tottered towards the side of the house.
I poked my head around the corner and found myself nose to nose with a rather mucky, aromatic, white and ginger creature with one eye that seemed to move independently of the other.
I leapt in the air and shot backwards convinced that this very smelly individual was going to attack me.
“Calm down for goodness sake otherwise she will be out here.”
I got every other word of this because despite this creature’s efforts to talk Dog he was disadvantaged by only having two or three teeth and he lisped rather badly.
“I’ve been waiting for you to be let out here, you’ve got it cushy haven’t you in your little pad out the back?”
I was beginning to understand a little more of this garbled delivery and wondered how this strange creature had managed to learn to speak my language. It was almost as if it read my mind because it turned around and waving a rather bedraggled ginger tail in the air he looked over his shoulder.
“I grew up around sheep dogs and learnt how to talk to them very early on.” The creature strode off around the back of the house with me in tow, totally mesmerised.
As soon as it got to the back garden it turned and sat motioning with its head for me to do the same.
“She gave me the name of Henry, don’t ask me why but as she saved my life it was the least I could allow her to do.”
I was fascinated but at that moment Sally began calling from the front of the house and she sounded rather panicky.
“Sam, Sam where are you?”
Henry cocked his head in her direction and winked at me.
“Don’t worry I will carry on with the story next time you are in your play pen, off you go now before she gets hysterical.”
I turned tail and raced around the side of the house and wagged my tail beseechingly at her.
“There you are, good boy, I was worried something had happened to you.”
I desperately wanted to please her and when she picked my up I licked her face noting that she had just eaten something sweet and tasty.
After we had played ‘roll around on your back and get your tummy rubbed’ and ‘chase the ball’ Sally put me in my play area behind the house whilst she walked around the house with a large animal that made sucking noises. I had already demonstrated that I found the long cord attached to this monster rather biteable so she put me outside whilst she played with it herself.
I had only just settled my self down with one of my rubber toys that I enjoyed impaling with my small teeth when a ginger and white blur leapt up onto one of the wooden posts of my enclosure and from there to the top of my kennel.
About Sally Cronin:
After working in a number of industries for over 25 years, Sally Cronin decided that she wanted to pursue a completely different career, one that she had always been fascinated with. She began studying Nutrition and the human body twenty years ago and opened her first diet advisory center in Ireland in 1998. Over the last 18 years she has practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as written columns, articles and radio programs on health and nutrition. She published my first book with a Canadian self- publisher in the late 90s and since then has republished that book and released eight others as part of her own self-publishing company. Apart from books on health and media training, she has also enjoy writing fiction in the form of novels and short stories.
Contact Sally Cronin:
Facebook author: https://www.facebook.com/sallygeorginacronin
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