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A couple of weeks before Christmas, my Spanish publisher, Pablo Solares Acebal, arranged a school visit in Villaviciosa, a small village in the province of Asturias, in Northern Spain. This was my first school visit in Spain and it was a remarkable experience. I read from my bi-lingual book, Pig on Trial/Cerdito a juicio to the grade one and two classes. The children and teachers had limited English skills, so I read the English side of the book and Pablo read the Spanish equivalent. The children greeted me with enthusiasm and loved the story. They asked great questions and were eager to learn about my life in Canada. The book is a medieval tale set in rural Europe which the kids enjoyed as Villaviciosa is in a very rural part of Spain. The best dairy products come from Asturias. Since some of the children live on farms they were delighted to know that I grew up on a farm in Canada. One young man introduced himself and informed me he was from New York and could speak English very well.

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With publisher Pablo Solares Acebal of Endiciones Camelot

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Sharing the reading in English and Spanish

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I was given a tour of the elementary school, Colegio Publico Maliayo by the Head Mistress (or Principal as we would call her in Canada). The students were learning about the Olympics and had created displays of various countries that have hosted the Olympics over the years. They were proud to show me the display of the Montreal Olympics in Canada. Don´t you just love those beavers!

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The school was laid out very similar to Canadian elementary schools. I was pleased to see there was a well stocked library. Cerdito a juicio is now in it as well.

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I was treated very well by the friendly staff and students at this school. The students were a delight. There was much cheering and clapping from them when I said muchos gracias and wished them Felize Navidad. They made me feel like a rock star! I am now on their website http://cpmaliayovillaviciosa.jimdo.com/

I really appreciate Pablo Solares for arranging this great opportunity.

Since we were in the area, hubby and I decided to explore. I´ll tell you about our time in Asturias in the next post.

I hope your new year has started out well!

Pictures taken by myself and Daniel Solares

I woke up to a pleasant surprise one day this week. A fabulous review of Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone was posted on Evie Carter´s blog site.  I felt like a child of mine had been complimented. It made my day!!

This is what she had to say.

What I liked
_____________
This was one of the best Children’s adventure books I’ve read in a while. Although geared toward younger readers, maybe seven to nine and up, it was well written and had delightful characters.
First of all the plot was tight and flowed. There was enough excitement to even keep me interested and would have been the kind of book I’d have loved as a kid.

read more of the review here: http://eviecarter.novelblogs.com/book-review-amanda-in-alberta/

I do hope this review will cause a few copies of Amanda in Alberta to show up under some Christmas trees this year!

Evie also interviewed me http://eviecarter.novelblogs.com/author-interview-with-darlene-foster/ if you wish to learn more about me and my writing.

I hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful season, staying safe and not getting overwhelmed by it.

Thanks for reading my blog!

It is my pleasure to welcome Sally Cronin as my special guest. Sally has a daily blog covering a variety of subjects close to her heart including writing, health and music, which is apply called Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life. Sally is a generous person who shares blog posts and promotes other writers. Please check out her site and say Hello. Her Christmas grotto has some wonderful gift ideas.

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Without further ado, here is the lovely and talented Sally Cronin!

Thank you Darlene for offering me the opportunity to talk about my new book and also some background on my life and those that have influenced me.

1. You have had a very interesting life Sally. Can you tell my readers a bit about yourself.

My father was in the Royal Navy and we travelled with him whenever it was possible to do so. This meant a disruptive but fascinating childhood living in Ceylon which of course is now Sri Lanka, Malta and South Africa. By the time I was fourteen I had been to seven different schools and enjoyed some amazing experiences.

After school I trained as a dental nurse but then moved through a number of industries including hospitality, retail, advertising, telecommunications and radio and television broadcasting. I have always been interested in health and nutrition so trained as a nutritional therapist nearly twenty years ago and I have worked with clients in Ireland and the UK. My own weight issues led to my first book which in turn led to forming Moyhill publishing in 2004. Since then I have not stopped writing and hope that will continue until I drop. It is one of the few jobs that you do not have an age or physical limit.

Since David and I married in 1980 we have lived in the United States, Ireland, Belgium, UK and of course currently in Spain. That has added a wonderful richness to our life and as a writer I treasure all of it.

2. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is Tales from the Garden. Fairy stories for all ages from five to ninety-five with the usual fairy princesses, monsters, magic and romance. As it has 80 illustrations I hope it will appeal to children and those that like to read a good bedtime story.

Tales From the Garden small- Cover

3. What inspired you to write this book?

We will be leaving our home for the last 16 years here in Spain once the house is sold. The garden is large and has several small areas that are mostly hidden from view. We inherited several large stone statues that we uncovered when cutting back hedges and bushes. Most are very heavy and there is no way that we can take them with us unfortunately and I decided to write stories around them. I now have a book that contains happy memories that I can take with me wherever I go.

From Sally´s garden

From Sally´s garden

4. You have written other books, perhaps you could tell us something about them.

My first book in 2001, Size Matters, was my story of how I became morbidly obese at over 330lbs and my journey as I studied the human body and nutrition and designed a programme to lose 150lbs. This led to a family health manual, Just Food for Health which was also the name of my diet advisory service that I opened in Ireland and then in the UK. I have always written short stories and this resulted in Flights of Fancy and other fiction including two novels, Just an Odd Job Girl and Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story. I have gone back to health in two other books including a health manual for men and an anti-aging book, Turning Back the Clock.

5. What sort of books do you read?

I love to escape into the books I am reading and tend towards thrillers, epic novels that span centuries and adventure. I also enjoy reading non-fiction; usually science and health.

6. What are some of your all time favourite books?

I love all of Wilbur Smith’s books but in particular the sagas of the Courtney family that take you through the challenges of settlers as they explored deep into Africa. Jean M. Auel has written an amazing series Earth’s Children with six stunning books set around 25,000 years ago. The series follows the life of a girl called Ayla from childhood through to motherhood and is captivating. I had my DNA tested in one of the genetic ancestry programmes when they first began and discovered that I was related to a woman whose bones were found in a cave in Southern France 20,000 years ago. This began a fascination with that era and those that inhabited the dangerous environment.

7. Who has influenced you the most in your life?

That is difficult because there are so many people and events that have impacted on the way that I feel, live and write. From my first teacher, Mrs Miller who slipped me more advanced books to read to my husband David who believes that everyone should have the freedom to be the best they can. I have had some great role models and mentors in my various careers and personal life and I am grateful for every one of them.

8. What is your idea of a successful life?

My perception of success has changed over the years. When I was younger of course, there were a few things that needed to be ticked off the list including money, status, nice house, car etc. I was quite prepared to work for them and over the years most were achieved. However, by that time I realised that in fact there were other much more important goals in life including health, great relationships, good friends and a constant access to new ideas and experiences. I feel incredibly successful and it has nothing to do with material wealth but down to simple pleasures that we can all enjoy if we choose to.

9. Anything else you would like to tell the readers.

First and foremost I am a reader and I would be devastated if I did not have access to books in any format. I am so grateful for anyone who picks up one of my books and enjoys reading the story. I hope that readers understand how vital and appreciated they are. Without them what would be the point of writing? Also avid readers are potentially the top writers of tomorrow and I encourage everyone to get their stories written on a blog, novel, short story or poetry collection. It is an excellent way to get your voice heard.

10. Where can we find your books?

I have my own bookstore which is accessed through any of the individual book sites. The latest book Tales from the Garden can be found on http://moyhill.com/tales/ and because it is my own store the Ebook is discounted by 50%.

My books are available on Amazon and the quickest route is through my author page.
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/author/sallycroninbooks

Thank you very much Darlene for featuring my here today… I always love an opportunity to talk about myself and my books.
Social Media Links
Blog: smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1
https://twitter.com/sgc58
https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
https://www.facebook.com/sallygeorginacronin
https://plus.google.com/+SallyCronin/about

Thank you, Sally for making an appearance on my blog site. All the best for your exciting new book.

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Our day trip to Villajoyosa ended with a stop at Santa Barbara Castle, overlooking the city of Alicante and the Mediterranean Sea. The very capable bus driver took us to the top of Mount Benecantil, 166 meters above the city, on a narrow, windy road. This was a large bus and we all held our breath as he barely made it through the castle entrance, built for horse and buggies.

The narrow entrance to the castle

The narrow entrance to the castle

Once there we had an hour to wander the castle and discover the history of Alicante on display in the museums throughout the castle. Archaeological remains from the Bronze Age, Iberian Age and Roman Times have been found on this site.

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I enjoyed climbing around the many levels, checking out the dungeons, chapel, guardroom, bastions and turrets. I loved the wrought iron warriors and archers strategically placed around the castle.

The dungeons

The dungeons

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The chapel ruins

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Watch out for the archers!

Watch out for the archers!

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Fascinating views of Alicante and the Mediterranean Sea

Fascinating views of Alicante and the Mediterranean Sea

This was fun for me as I visited this site a number of years ago and set a scene in Amanda in Spain in this very castle

kids posing with a warrior while dad takes a picture

Kids posing with a warrior while dad takes a picture

Another person posing for the camera.

Another person posing for the camera.

I can´t get enough of the rich history and fascinating castles around here.

A writer friend of mine, Christa Polkinhorn, recently posted a picture tour of her latest book, The Italian Sister, which I thought was a great idea. Check out her blog, and her wonderful books that take place in interesting places. christa-polkinhorn.blogspot.com

This prompted me to think about how my pictures have inspired me while writing my Amanda books. Visiting the United Arab Emirates was a dream come true for me as well as for Amanda. So here are some photos that inspired my first book, Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask

The perfume flask

The perfume flask Amanda buys in a shop called Aladdin´s Treasures

The desert

The very desert in the United Arab Emirates where Amanda gets lost.

With friends in the mountains

Amanda also visits the rugged UAE mountains with friends

Amanda couldn´t get over the silly goats in the trees!

Amanda can´t get over the silly goats in the trees!

She was intrigued by the painted doors

She is intrigued by the painted doors and gates

and she fell in love with the camels, especially Ali Baba

and she fell in love with the camels, especially Ali Baba!

What have I been up to lately?

 

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As you can see, I have been very busy finishing the next Amanda travel adventure book.

 

A metaphor is a figure of speech that identifies something as being the same as some unrelated thing for rhetorical effect, thus highlighting the similarities between the two. (the dictionary definition) I remember learning about metaphors in school. I love them! We are advised, however, to use them sparingly in our writing as many of them are considered clichés. I once submitted a story to an anthology call out. To my delight, my story was chosen. The editor asked me to make a few changes including removing some of the numerous metaphors and similes. I thought I was being so clever, but once I removed a good chunk of them or reworded them, I realized the story read much better. By using metaphors in my rough draft though, I developed some great ideas.

In a newsletter sent out by Jan Moore she writes about how metaphors can be useful, not just in writing. She mentions that Creative people use metaphors automatically. It’s our natural mode of communication. I certainly agree with her on that point. I often get strange looks from my non writing friends and family when I use metaphors in my speech.

Jan Moore has written a book called Work on Your Own Terms:  Change Your Mind and Change Your Life in Midlife and Beyond which is worth checking out. Written by a former career counselor , Jan writes about how you can create meaningful work that nourishes the soul and sets you free, at any age.

Work On Your Own Terms

Jan also goes on to say: Metaphors can be powerful guides for living. Writers and artists use them and so can you. Playing with metaphors can help generate new ideas. Here are a few to play with:

  1. If your day was a colour, what colour would you paint it?
  2. If an obstacle was a mountain, how would you climb it?
  3. If two paths diverge in a wood, would you take the one less traveled?
  4. If a project was a baby, how would you nurture it?
  5. If your life was a song, what would you be singing?

What would your answers be to these questions? Put your answers in the comments if you wish. I would love to read them. 

From one of my favourite authors who passed away last year at age 92:

Words. Words. I play with words, hoping that some combination, even a chance combination, will say what I want.
…Doris Lessing

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photo from Wikipedia

It´s been a year since we launched Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. To celebrate I am a guest on the fabulous blog site Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Guest Post: Amanda in Alberta | Darlene Foster.

Book Description:

Amanda has travelled to some interesting places like the United Arab Emirates, Spain and England. She has always enjoyed herself, in spite of the dangerous situations she has found herself in. This time her BFF, Leah from England, is coming to visit her in Alberta. Will she be able to find enough fun things for them to do? After all it is only Alberta, her home province in Canada.

Read more about the book, a great review and a message from me here. Pop over to the site, make a comment and share if you wish, to help me celebrate.

Thanks so much for the support all of you have given me and Amanda over the past few years. 

Amanda in Alberta is born!

Amanda in Alberta is born!

Faithful supporters at the book launch July 2014

Faithful supporters at the book launch July 2014

 

My biggest fan and official photographer

My biggest fan and official photographer


Amanda in Alberta

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Amanda in Spain

click to purchase

Amanda in England

Click to purchase

Amanda in Alberta

click to purchase

Pig on Trial

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