Real Neat Blog Award

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I’m delighted to have been nominated for this award by the lovely Izzy on her blog Izzy-grabs-life. Izzy writes beautifully, contributing to several flash fiction challenges, and does photography challenges, too. She’s a great blogger whose exuberance seems to burst from the page, and I recommend everyone to take a look at her blog. Thank you so much, Izzy, for nominating me.

So, here are the rules:

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  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
  • Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  • Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog, etc.)

 Here are my answers  to Izzy’s seven questions:

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Q.1 Can you describe the four seasons in sounds? Good! Now, please, show us what you came up with. ^_^

For this interesting question the only thing I could come up with was this short story. (It isn’t really that long, but if you’re pushed for time, you could just skip this answer! lol)

Song of the Seasons

Monsieur DuPont, conductor and maestro of his art, stood poised before the orchestra, arms before him, the baton in his right hand unmoving. Silence descended over the packed theatre and the baton gestured to the percussion group to the rear of the violins.

Tambourines softly rustle, rousing the sleeping land from its winter sleep…

Mallets strike the xylophone, brisk, tinkling notes reverberate round the hall: winter’s snow and ice beginning to drip: drip, drip, drippety-drip; drippety-drippety-drip … Mallets sweep the keyboard to and fro, the trickle becoming a steady flow. The flute’s melodic notes gush forth: hillside streams hastening their descent to the valley below. Timpani boom, loud and determined; streams uniting with rising rivers; cymbals clash as waters burst their banks; farmland, village and town consumed. The repeated springtime curse…

Gentler now, the piccolo mirrors the dance of butterfly, blackbird and bee; warm sunshine on blossoming land. Violins soar, heralding summer’s intensifying heat, darkening greens, and roses, marigolds and hollyhocks bright. The strings are in full burst as midsummer blooms… slowing and softening as the ripening wheat sways in the breeze and fruit swells on orchard trees…

Mellowing all too soon, violas deeper tones mirror autumn’s golden hues, broken at times by bursts from piccolo and flute: laughter from children at conker fights; adults celebrating harvest home. Sweeps of the xylophone signify the whirr of combines in the fields.

The horn’s soft, slow tones herald the advent of winter and darkening nights; the cello in sombre mood reflects life’s sedate pace. Jack Frost shows his face, the sharply plucked violin depicting his efforts to penetrate home and hearth.

January’s soft snowfall is the gentle harp’s delight. Snow blankets the earth, muffling and protecting all beneath.  The tambourine rustles a little, glimmers of February’s wan sunlight holding promise of spring.  But loud bursts from the trumpets tell us that March winds demand to be heard … quieting as gentle April draws nigh. Spring once again.

Note: If anyone out there is screaming at my inappropriate choice of instruments for these sounds, I confess, I’m no musician.

Q.2  Who is your favorite fictional protagonist? Antagonist? Why?

My favourite protagonist just has to be Francis Crawford of Lymond. He features in the series of six books known as ‘The Lymond Chronicles’, by the brilliant Scottish author, Dorothy Dunnett, who sadly died in 2001.

Lymond, as he’s generally called, has to be the most complex character I’ve ever come across. He has so many admirable qualities, most of which lie concealed beneath the veneer he chooses to show to the world. He’s a nobleman, who lives by his wits and swordsmanship; a scholar, a poet and a musician. For much of Book One, he comes across as someone with a careless attitude to life, and his motives for doing things are often misunderstood by others, who see him devious and scheming. But as the book progresses his true character emerges – a sad, sensitive and troubled person, fiercely loyal to his family and country. He is also desperate to prove himself innocent of the crime for which he was framed: treason towards the Scottish crown.  Overall, it’s the complexity and depth of his character that works for me.

As an antagonist, Graham Reid Malett, also from the Lymond Chronicles, really appealed to me. He appears in Books 3 and 4, as a member of the Order of St. John on the island of Malta. He is initially portrayed is as a Godly character, generous, beautiful and fair-headed. In other words, he is truly angelic – the reason why he is referred to as Gabriel. But in reality, he’s the most evil person anyone is ever likely to meet. I won’t describe some of the things Gabriel does, but he is Lymond’s arch enemy in Books 3 and 4 – though his effect is felt for far longer and sends Lymond to the depths of despair.

Q. 3 What do you feel most proud of this week (so far)?

I’m not feeling particularly proud of doing anything right now, I’m afraid, other than getting on with my writing. I’ll  have to try to do something to be proud of next week.

Q. 4 What did you want to be when you were little?

The first thing I ever wanted to be was a nurse, after I’d got a nurse’s outfit from Father Christmas when I was four. I used to subject my little sister, then two, to being bandaged up and lying on the settee covered in blankets while I pretended to dose her with medicine. Poor child! Fortunately, that phase didn’t last too long and, like most kids, I wanted to be various things, including a train driver, a librarian and eventually, a teacher.  At first I wanted to be a P.E. teacher, because I was always the sporty type and adored gymnastics. I didn’t settle on geography until I was doing my ‘A’ levels (age 16-18).

Q.5 How do you spend your free time (even if it’s a few minutes)?

If ever I have any free time, I read. If I really do have a lot of time, I might go for extra walks. or go swimming. But the odd half-hour, or even waiting in the doctor’s or dentist’s surgeries, is spent reading. I always take a book, or my Kindle, with me.

Q. 6 What skill would you like to learn and why?

I would love to play the violin, and regret never having learned as a child. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t have spare cash to pay for such things. Life was hard for working-class families in post-war Britain. I suppose it’s never too late to learn. If only I had the time.

Q. 7  What does being strong mean to you?    

Not an easy question to answer, because strength can be interpreted in so many ways. It can be seen in people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in. It can be seen in families, or friends, who support each other through difficult times. It can be seen in people suffering great hardships who persevere and refuse to give in. I could give several more examples but that would result in a very long answer.

7 questions for my nominees:

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  1. Which is your preferred way of expressing yourself creatively, either on your blog or elsewhere (e.g. art, poetry, photography etc.)
  2. What do you like best about blogging?
  3. What is your favourite genre in books and films/movies, and why?
  4. Which three qualities do you value the most in a good friend?
  5. Are you a city-loving person, or do you prefer the quietness of country life? Give your reasons?
  6. Is there any particular time of year where you live that you like the best, and why?
  7. Do you have a favourite flower? If so, what is it you particularly like about it?

Now here are my nominees:

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Apologies in advance to anyone whose blog is an Award Free one. I have looked on everyone’s, but I could well have missed something.

Liebster Award X 2

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I am delighted and honoured to have been nominated for this award by two different people. Strictly speaking, I’ve been nominated for two different versions of the award, so I’ll proudly display both badges on my page. My two lovely nominators are – in the order that I received them – Suganiya Rassiah at her blog, Infinite Passion (above badge) and Yinglan at A Simple Life (badge shown lower down the page). I want to say a huge thank you to both of them for thinking of me and urge you to take a look at their blogs, if you don’t already do so.

I’ve had Suganiya’s nomination for a good few weeks now, but it’s been on hold until I got back from Andalucia. Yinglan’s arrived last week, while I was still in Spain, so I think it’s time to do something about both of them.

First, here are the rules:

Other than for the fourth one, the rules are the same for both of the awards.  The questions are different, however, so I’ll take one set of questions at a time.

shutterstock_1180812761. Thank the person/people who nominated you by providing a link to their blog in your Liebster Award post. (Done)

2. Give 11 random facts about yourself.

3. Answer the 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.

4.  (a) Nominate 11 other blogs that have 200 followers or less (Suganiya’s Award – black badge, above).

(b) Nominate 5-11 other bloggers (Yinglan’s – blue badge below).

5. Ask your nominees 11 questions of your own.

Now that’s done, here are eleven random facts about myself:

shutterstock_1783224441I have very fine, flyaway hair. When I was younger I kept it long so I could just tie it back or put it into bunches or pigtails. I’d look a right idiot with bunches or pigtails now, so it just hangs and gets on my nerves. These two photos of me with bunches were taken when I was a first-time mum.  They’re so old and cracked they’re a bit of a disaster.

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2. I may have said this before, but I’m a techno-nerd. In other words, any technological apparatus or appliance has lost me before I even touch it. And when I do touch it, it invariably breaks.

3. I live in a tiny village where the Internet connection drives me to distraction. I’ve had to abandon so many posts, or comments – and even emails – for a while because the connection has been lost just before I hit the send button!

4. I hate the wind. I like a nice gentle breeze on a summer’s day, but a strong wind in either summer or winter is a definite no-no. Probably all to do with my flyaway hair.

5. If it were possible, I’d relocate to the Lake District – which I’ve adored since I was a child. Not that I want to wander off looking for daffodils – Wordsworth’s already done that bit. I just love the mountains and lakes.

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View from Castlerigg Stone Circle, near Keswick, in the Lake District.

Now we live on the edge of Lincolnshire, which – with the exception of couple of areas – is very flat. Very pretty… but still flat.

6. I adore ice cream – although I’m not a lover of fancy flavours. I just like a nice, rich vanilla or even what we call Cornish ice cream in the UK, which is very rich and creamy. I’ll eat ice cream any way, but I prefer it in a cone/cornet when I’m walking around. Occasionally I’ll be tempted by a chocolate flake or strawberry sauce.

7. When I write – seriously, I mean – I have to be in a room on my own and in silence, give or take a few of the noisy birds we have around here. I don’t even like music playing, no matter how quiet it is.

8. I love travelling, both abroad and in the British Isles. I still have a list of countries I’d like to visit, for different reasons, as well as British sites I still haven’t seen. Finding the time (and money) is a different matter, though.

9. Early mornings are my favourite time. It’s the time I like to get out and walk. Then – apart from the usual housework and necessary cooking -I have the rest of the day to do my own things. I can’t do late nights nowadays. By 10pm I usually head off to bed to read.

10. This was me (the one on the left) when I was three, with my aunt (who was only six years older than me) and my little sister. I always hated these picture because they made me look like a little pudding. The second photo, of just me, is also very stained now. My tendency to overweight has long gone through year of jogging, going to gyms and swimming. Now I have dodgy knees due to all the jogging and people keep telling me I need to put weight on! Mum, Joan and Linda 172 11. I’m struggling to find random facts now … Ah, I know: By the time I was twenty I was beginning to believe I was destined to marry a farmer. I had had three ‘steady’ boyfriends who all, for some unknown reason, were farmers. The first two lasted for simply a matter of a few months but the last one was for three years. Most people assumed we would marry when I finished my teacher training. But things just fizzled out when I moved across to Yorkshire to start my first teaching job. I still wonder what attracted farmers to me, or me to farmers. Perhaps I just liked that rugged, outdoors look they have. Haha. 😀  None of the three knew each other and I met each in completely different circumstances. shutterstock_78397096 Now I think I’m totally factless… 

Here are the two sets of questions for me to answer: shutterstock_148655024 FIRST, SUGANIYA’S QUESTIONS: 

1. What era do you think you’re best suited to?

Although I write historical fiction and have a passion for the past, I’ve always been happy living in the present era. I was born just after the war, so I’m part of the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation who were teenagers during the 1960s with all the changes that came with it. I have very happy memories of my 1950s childhood and can’t help comparing it to childhood during the present times. I appreciate all the ‘mod cons’ we have now that make life so much easier and more comfortable, not to mention the medical advances that have been made. I rarely wish I’d been born at a later date. The future holds so much uncertainty.  

2. What kind of person do you wish you were? Describe please! For a start I’d like to be a lot taller! I’m a grand 5 foot 2 inches, and the shortest person in my family. My mother was six inches taller than me, although my father was an inch shorter than her. He looked even shorter because of the bad limp he had after being badly wounded in the war. But Dad’s side of the family were all ‘shrimps’ like me, especially the women. As for the type of person I’d like to be … Probably someone more assertive. I’m very easy going and have a ‘live and let live’ attitude to others. There’s no point in letting other people get you down as far as I’m concerned. We’re all different, and that’s that.

3, Why did you start a blog?  I started blogging simply because people assured me it was something that all writers should do. But I’ve found far more to WordPress than a site on which to promote my books. In fact, I do very few posts about my books. In all honesty, I hate some of the blogs of writers, whose every post has ‘Buy my Book’ thrust at the readers and nothing else. I can’t bring myself to do that. I enjoy blogging and participating in the flash fiction challenges because they’re fun. I also like to put my travel post and those about British customs and traditions. My blog is called, ‘Bringing History to Life’, which is what I like to do.

4. Describe your dream man/woman 😉 Ah now, that is an interesting question – although I’m probably far too ancient to be answering it! As far as looks are concerned, I’ve no preference for either fair or dark, or particular eye colour. But, between you and me, I’m rather fond of Chris Hemsworth as he is in the ‘Thor’ movie. 😀 Now, I know I’m biased here, and vikings are are must for me – but he is a god, after all …(I couldn’t find a free image of him as Thor, but I’m sure you all know what he looks like with long hair and carrying his big hammer.) I like long hair! I suppose I’ve been influenced by two hippie-style daughters!

5. Have you ever written a story/book (doesn’t have to be completed) and if so what’s its name? This is an easy one to answer! I have written the first two books of my ‘Sons of Kings’ trilogy – ‘Shadow of the Raven’ and ‘Pit of Vipers. I’m writing the third at present, but the only idea for a title at present is along the lines of ‘Dragon of Wessex’ – after the Wessex flag. (This is because it is in Book 3 that Alfred’s dreams of keeping the Danes out of Wessex are fulfilled … mostly!)

6. Do you remember the first book you read, if so what’s the name? Some of the first books I read (unassisted) were the ‘Secret Seven’ and then the ‘Famous Five’ books by Enyd Blyton when I was about six or seven. I read quite a few of them, so I don’t remember which I read first. Before those, of course, I had to learn to read at school. We had some set reading books about a farmer called Old Lob. So I suppose, they were the first books I actually read – under the gentle guidance of the very patient infant teachers (plus Mum at home). The first ‘classic’ I read was ‘Jane Eyre’ when I was about eleven. I loved that story.

7. Why do you read, or rather do you read? I can’t imagine life without reading. I’ve read all my life, to what extent dependent upon circumstances at the time. I now read for two different reasons. I read non-fiction when doing research for my writing, and fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. I find reading a great stress reliever. I can delve into someone else’s story and forget about everything I’ve got to do for a while. Any form of reading is also very educational. shutterstock_197038109 8. What relaxes you? Walking, swimming, reading, knitting and baking. I’m not one for a great deal of TV watching. I like the odd programme, like ‘The Musketeers’ – which I now have to wait almost another year for, but I can happily miss most stuff. Knitting I’ve simply abandoned while I’m writing this trilogy, but I know I’ll come back to it eventually. I’ve made dozens of jumpers and cardigans in my time and find knitting relaxing. Baking nowadays tends to be when we have all the family coming round to eat it.

9. Something you regret. My main regret is in not starting writing my books earlier in my life. But six children and teaching left no time until I’d actually retired. Now, I’m beginning to feel I really have left it too late.

10. Something that you don’t regret. Marrying and having six children. I’d probably do the same, given my time over again (although I’d probably have people screaming at me nowadays to think about the population explosion!)

11. What is the imaginary pet you always wanted to have? Don’t like pets, well try them 🙂 We’ve had just about every ‘normal’ type of pet imaginable when my children were young, including various types of rodents, and tanks and ponds full of various kinds of fish, including some huge koi carp that the local herons seemed to find tasty until we netted the pond. We also had a catfish that we soon realised was eating all his playmates. The only reptiles we’ve ever had are tortoises. I drew the line at snakes because I really don’t like them! Ugh … As for imaginary pets … When I was a child I’d have liked a flying horse, like Pegasus, or perhaps a unicorn. I also loved all those dogs and horses that always came to their child-friend’s aid when they were in danger. Like Lassie, Or Champion the Wonder Horse.

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Now for Yinglan’s Nomination

6e913-liebster-award1 AND HERE ARE YINGLAN’S QUESTIONS:

1. What made you start blogging?  (Same answer as Q.1 above)

2. What have you learned through blogging? I have learned that blogging takes a lot of time. It’s also a lot of fun meeting so many people around their world and many posts are very educational as well as interesting. Some have opened my eyes to things I had never considered before.

3. If you could go anywhere, where would you go? I’m happy actually living in the UK. Even if we move away from Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire, nowhere in this country is that far away from where most of our family live. Britain is very small compared to other countries. For holidays, I think our next ‘long haul’ will either be New Zealand or Canada, although I’ve taken a fancy to Russia recently, too – and Argentina! Flying across to mainland Europe is a quick holiday for us, and we generally go down to Malta every September because we have a timeshare there. I’d like to do some ‘city breaks’ though …perhaps Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin.

4. If you could be anything (occupation-wise), what would you be? I’ve already finished my career as a teacher – which I loved – and now I’m concentrating on my writing. If I hadn’t gone into teaching, I would have veered towards midwifery. I’ve always been a ‘baby person’. I fancied being some kind of air hostess when I was 14  because I wanted to see the world. I soon learned that in those days (1960s) they wanted tall, leggy women for that … which I certainly wasn’t!

5. One word you like people to use to describe you. Creative, I think. I love to write,  but only the feedback from others can say whether I manage to be creative or not.

6. One word you would not like people to use to describe you. Insensitive. I hate insensitive people, so if anyone called me that, I’d have a lot of self-assessment to do.

7. What are some sounds you dislike? Loud ones – particularly high-pitched screeches. ( I won’t elaborate on my dislike of some women singers’ high pitched caterwauling here!) I hate noise, whether it’s machinery, music or lots of people talking and laughing loudly. I really do like peace and quiet. Of course, I don’t get it when the tribe descend on us, especially at Christmas and times like that shutterstock_153779333 8. Who do you look up to? So many people throughout history, both men and women, have achieved greatness in their lives, and I’ve no desire to prioritise right now. Thinking about most of these is a humbling experience. Closer to home, I have to admire the way my husband has coped with his life in the twenty-six years since the car accident that almost killed him. Though not his fault in the slightest and he did receive compensation, he had to retire from teaching. Now, although he jokes about being ‘Metal Mickey’ (we have great fun at airports) he copes really well and, other than the limp due to a displaced pelvis, he keeps as active as possible – though sometimes not without his regular, prescribed pain killers.

9. If time freezes for 24 hours, what would you do? I’m not sure what could be done if time were frozen. Presumably I wouldn’t be frozen in time as well (?) in which case I’d probably write … and read. I could manage that for 24 hours, but any longer and I think I’d just go crazy. 😦

10. Are you motivated by hope or fear? Hope – for what I have still to do and can achieve. I don’t see fear as something to motivate anyone. Rather, it would surely hold them back? My own hopes and ambitions for my writing, and seeing as much of the world as possible, drive me forward – as well as  my hopes to see my children and grandchildren thrive in their future lives.

11. What/who is your inspiration? I’ll gear this question to my inspiration to write, I think, because I’ve been inspired by many people for different things. So, great writers … Dorothy Dunnett inspired me to write historical fiction many years ago. But her writing style is so complex, I always felt I could never match her standard. Still, it didn’t put me off wanting to write. I’ve enjoyed books by so many authors. I love Wilbur Smith’s ‘River God’, Mary Stewart’s ‘Crystal Cave’ and Bernard Cornwell’s series about Arthur. And far too many more to list here.

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Which brings me to my questions for my nominees:

shutterstock_1412641331.What are the main types of posts you write and what type of blogs do you enjoy reading yourself?

2.Do you have a particular time of day when you do your blogging and how often do you generally aim to post?

3. Have you a particular genre you like to read or watch on TV/movies, and are there any genres that you would avoid at all costs?

4. What would be your ideal holiday destination? (e.g. are you a sunshine-and-beach kind of person or a sightseer, a sports-driven holiday-seeker, or what?)

5. What is your biggest goal in life at the moment?

6. What is your favourite type of music? Do you have any favourite performer(s)?

7. Do you have a favourite musical instrument and do you play anything yourself?

8. To what extent are you influenced by fashion in your choice of clothes?

9. Describe your ideal meal/venue for a meal on a special occasion or night out.

10. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?

11. Now the biggie: What do you think of ‘Game of Thrones’ (book or TV series)? This seems to be a popular discussion point at the moment!

Finally, these are my nominees. I’ll do them in two groups. 

These are the people I nominate for the first award shown (the black and pink one):

luckyjc007 at Reflections on Life’s Journey

* Sonya at Only 100 Words

HumaAq

OldenGray

 SerenaArtiste

Jessica (skyllarae) at Eat Me

* Shivangi

 lifehomeandaway

For Yinglan’s Award (blue/grey one)

* Norma at Emovere

AlexF 

Bekki Hill at The Creativity Cauldron

tastyniblets

Jack R. Cotner

The Snow Melts Somewhere

Blog Tour Award!

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I’m a bit staggered to have been nominated for this award, and I owe Izzy huge thanks for even thinking of me. She’s done some really good pieces of writing on her blog, Izzy-grabs-life, which are well worth checking out. Her blog title says a lot about her personality and the way she writes. Izzy is lively and full of fun – and really grabs life by the horns, or some such place!

This is a little different to the other awards I’ve responded to, and involves answering  questions about writing – which is great for me!

So these are the rules:

  • Compose a one-time post on a specific Monday (date given from your nomination – I was given March 30)
  • Give them the rules and a specific Monday to post by.  On this occasion, next Monday will be Easter Monday, April 6 2015. So I’m going to say that my nominees can either post on that date, or leave it until the following week, which will be Monday April 13.
  • Pass the tour on up to four other bloggers.
  • Answer four questions about your creative process which lets other bloggers and visitors know what inspires you to do what you do.

Here are the four questions and my answers . . .

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Q.1 What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I’m working on the third book of my Sons of Kings trilogy. Book One was published as an ebook on Amazon in April. 2014 and Book Two in December 2014. That doesn’t mean I write really quickly. I know there are authors out there who can write, edit and publish a book in a few months, but I’m not one of them. Many authors I’ve read about take a year for a 340-50 page book, which both of mine are. But by the time I’d got Book One onto Amazon, I’d already written half of Book Two.

All in all, what I’m saying is that Book Three is unlikely to be finished before the end of this year.  Still, I know I’m going to have to put a spurt on … which, sadly for me, means that I’ll soon have to cut down on a lot of the posts I do on my blog.

Q.2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?

Every writer’s work is unique to them. We all have our own writing styles, our own ‘author’s voice’. So in those things, I know I’m unlike anyone else. As for my books … Well, there are many Viking books around today, some straight forward historical fiction, some historical romance, others historical fantasy, and so on. I classify mine as historical adventure, and know that Book One in particular, fits that description well.

Although other authors have written about King Alfred, their interpretation of his character is completely different to mine, particularly since, in my first book, Alfred is a young child. Most other ‘Alfred’ books start with him as a man and already a king. The main action in Book One comes from my equally important protagonist, Eadwulf of Mercia. His adventure takes up a good deal of the book, with frequent glimpses over to events transpiring in Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom). The two stories continue, and intertwine, throughout the three books. Eadwulf is fictional, so no one else will have him in their books!

Q.3. Why do you write or create what you do?

I write historical fiction because I love both history and a good adventure, so that’s where my writing heads to. I fell in love with the story of Alfred’s great fight against the marauding Danes many years ago, but only since retiring from teaching (and bringing up our six children) have I had time to actually write about it. I’m particularly character driven in my writing. I love to delve into my characters’ heads and ponder how they would react in certain situations – notably those I plonk them in. If you know your characters well, their actions/reactions often just follow on through.

Q.4. How does your writing/creative process work?

To start with there’s always a lot of research to do for historical novels. I did loads before I started Book One, but at least the background to the period and events stretches throughout the trilogy. Each book demands exta, too. Then I spend a long time just letting the story play out in my head – different scenes, different characters I’ll need to introduce in the new book. Ideas get thrown out and new ones step in. Unfortunately, I often get ideas for other books as well, which I just have to shelve for now. I’ve got at least two more books I’m itching to start. But, right now, I have to be strict with myself and focus on Alfred and Eadwulf.

Once I’ve worked out a rough plan of the plot I type out a synopsis, and leave it so that I can add extra bits of information as I work on the actual writing.

My writing day always starts with a walk. This is the time during which I plan out the scene I want to write when I get back. I have nice quiet lanes and fields to walk across, so my thoughts rarely get interrupted. I write my chapters a scene at a time, and won’t move on to the next scene until I’m satisfied it’s exactly how I want it. I never just keep on writing, regardless of mistakes, until I’ve finished the book, as many writers do. This is  simply the way I work, and I realise it may not be the preferred way of others.

Once the first draft is done, I edit it myself a few times. I tend to print out a lot of it, because it’s so easy to miss errors on a computer screen. (Well, it is for me, anyway!) Finally, the book goes to the professional editor I use. Of course, this does cost money, and for anyone who can’t, or doesn’t want to pay for editing and proofreading, there are plenty of people happy to be beta readers. And WordPress is an excellent platform for aspiring writers, especially the many flash fiction challenges. If writing a book is still only an ambition for you, and you worry your writing just might not be good enough yet, the challenges are great. The feedback can be really useful and the word limit is excellent practice in being succinct.

Well, that’s my bit done. Now for the last part …

nominees-winners

Now for my four nominees:

I.  Joycelin Leahy at tribalmysticstories

2. Rachel at Creatopath

3. Emily Livingstone at Unmapped Country Within Us

4. Francesca Smith at A Smith’s World

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

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I am very very grateful to Jocelyn Leahy for nominating me for this Award last week.  Her blog at tribalmysticstories is one of the most inspirational I follow. Not only does Joycelin share wonderful stories of her early life in Papua New Guinea, but many posts about various types of art and writing. Jocelyn is both an artist and writer herself and shares interesting information about both. Additionally, she writes about environmental, political  and topical issues of real interest. Her blog is versatile, inspirational and very informative.

I agree with Joycelin when she says that ‘blogging is fun, but often not easy‘. My blog was seven months old at the end of February – not exactly a baby any more, I suppose; more like a toddler. I’m definitely still finding my feet. Like Joycelin, I think it’s hard to know what to post, or not. Right now, I’m doing several flash fiction challenges whilst fitting in posts about aspects of history, traditions and writing. My blog is entitled, ‘Bringing History to Life’, after all. I write historical fiction, but I enjoy lots of other genre as well.

So, the rules for this Award are as follows:

1. Display the award on your blog.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you

3. State 7 things about yourself

4. Nominate 15 bloggers, link to them, and notify them about their nominations.

Right then, I’ve done the first two, so now I have to get on with the third and divulge seven things about myself. Just bear with me if they cause a yawn or seven . . .

1. I/we have six children. I know that’s on my About page, so is no secret, but I thought I’d say a little about them today. Only last weekend, a blogger I follow asked me whether I ever wrote about my children on my blog – which I don’t, as a rule. So I’ll mention a couple of things here. My children have been a part of who I am for 42 years now. Despite teaching and being with young people on a daily basis, I still suffered from ‘empty nest syndrome’ for years after they’d all left home. I was Mother Hen no longer! Well, that said, I/we have four sons and two daughters: girl-boy-boy-girl-boy-boy. Very neat. They all have similar looks and colouring but very different temperaments – and careers in life. My second daughter also has a WordPress blog. She is a great photographer and writer, and writes some lovely stories and poems: a real ‘Fairy Mind’ you might say. (I’d better not say anything else about them or I might not get my choccies and flowers on Mother’s day next Sunday!)

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2. Millie Thom is my pen name, derived from my parents’ names, Millicent and Thomas. My own married name is far too boring to use as a writer – although my editor strongly disagrees! He thinks our surname is ‘joyful’! No more about that.

3. Eggs are my favourite food (as well as cheese) – which is just as well, considering my husband’s a vegetarian. If I so much as grilled a lamb chop when we were first married, he’d have to leave the house!  He’s become immune to most meaty smells over the years, as all the children eat meat. He lives on egg, cheese and nutty dishes and, fortunately, we all love lots of fruit and vegetables.

4. I’m an Aries. I’m very impatient and impulsive – much to my husband’s annoyance. If something needs doing, I have to do it NOW. My impulsive nature is under control nowadays (mostly) but in my younger, single existence many moons ago, shopping and me didn’t go together at all. I bought so many things – including clothes – that I hated once I got home. I don’t believe in horoscopes, by the way. This is all just coincidental. For a start, I don’t lose my temper very often, which is not an Aries trait. Aries is a fire sign, but my ‘fiery’ temper is rarely more than a spark.

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5. I miss living by the sea, despite having been away from it since I got married 45 years ago. I miss the smell of it and the sound of it, and being able to paddle in it when I took the dog for long walks. The Irish Sea is always freezing, but I did venture in for a few dips – swimsuit and all – as a child. And I loved to watch the sun setting on the western horizon.

6. I love doing research and tend to get carried away with it when doing it for my novels. I suppose I just enjoy learning new things, so I spend hours following links which have nothing whatsoever to do with what I started to look up in the first place.

7. The four seasons hold a fascination for me and I can’t imagine living in a place where the landscape looks the same all year round. Every season in Britain is wonderful and it’s amazing to see the changing colours. I know many places worldwide enjoy similar seasons, and I also know that people find wherever they grow up to be beautiful and ‘normal’. For me, the year is all about the seasons.

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Lastly, Number 4.

I find many of the blogs that I follow inspirational, for various reasons. Many of them have either already had this award or state that they’re An Award Free Blog. So here are some I really like which, I hope, don’t fall into either of those categories. I have looked, but I could have missed something.

* Forestwoodfolkart

* 1874: First Impressionist Exhibition

* Scraydotwo

* Draliman

* Sam Rappaz

* Aquileana

* Priceless Joy

* Plum Tree Deamer

* Diana George Marcos

* Farindanaz

* Mara Fields

* Alex F.

Versatile Blogger Award

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I am ‘chuffed to bits’ to be nominated for this award and extremely grateful to Joycelin Leahy, the author of Tribalmysticstories, for doing so.  I have followed Joycelin for a few months now and am so glad I found her. Her amazing blog is the most versatile one I’ve seen on WordPress so far. Such a variety of posts! I particularly love her memoirs of her life as a child and young woman, growing up in Papua New Guinea. She did a wonderful post about the importance of varying the type of blog posts you present, entitled ‘The Diet of Content’. It’s really interesting and informative – and definitely worth the read. Thank you so much, Tribalmystic!

Joycelin nominated me for this award a few weeks ago now and I’m seriously guilty of prevaricating over my response. As with many of us, its a question of, ‘so much to do but so little time to do it in’! Now, I think I’m ready to

So here are the Versatile Bloggers Award rules:

  1. Show the award on your blog.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you.
  3. Share seven facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 blogs.
  5. Link your nominee’s blogs & let them know. You can click on each one mentioned to get to their blogs.

 Here are seven facts (in my case, they’ve turned out to be paragraphs) about myself:

  1. I’m not in the least bit photogenic. I seriously hate every photo of me ever taken and growing older has just added to my dislike of them – especially close-ups. One of my daughters is a keen photographer, who spends a lot of the time snapping anything in sight. I hate going for walks with her when she’s armed with her blessed camera! She took my photo for Amazon – and what a palaver that was! She took well over a hundred snaps just to get one that was remotely suitable. I don’t like it one bit, but it was all I had to use at the time. The problem (so she tells me) is that I ‘pull a face like an alien’ when I pose for a photograph. I don’t smile nicely, it seems. I grimace. I keep telling her to move further back, but does she listen . . . ?  She takes awesome pictures of everything else, though.
  2. I was a fitness / exercise freak for years. I jogged, went to the gym and swimming pool, and walked everywhere whenever possible. When the children were little I moderated accordingly, going jogging or swimming once my husband got back from school (yes, another teacher). Nowadays I just rely on long walks and swimming a few times a week.
  3. I love physical geography / geomorphology. The study of landforms, river systems, tectonic and sedimentary processes and so on fascinates me. I taught it for years and enjoyed every minute of it. I also love geology, particularly the palaeontology side of it. I have a large rock and fossil specimen collection, all nicely labelled. My husband made a really big wooden box, with a hinged lid, for me to house them and it’s really quite impressive.
  4. Although I write historical fiction, I adore crime novels and read a lot of them. I’d like to have a go at writing one myself some time. It would probably have a historical setting, although in which period I’ve yet to decide. Perhaps a little later than the 9th Century, this time!
  5. I do (or rather, used to do) a lot knitting and have made dozens of sweaters and other items over the years. I know it sounds like a ‘granny’ thing to do (and I am a granny!) but I was knitting away happily even when I was a child. My grandma taught me, and when we had lessons in Junior School (if you’re snorting derision at that, I just want to add that it is the 1950’s I’m talking about!) I could probably knit as well as the teacher. I find knitting a very relaxing thing to do, although I haven’t done any for a couple of years now. My writing has to come first. But I do still get the urge to ‘create’ something on my knitting needles now and then.
  6. I love children. That might sound obvious in view of the fact that I’ve got six of them and was a teacher for umpteen years. Although I taught older students (11-18) I love little ones, and I adore babies. Yes, I’m soppy, I know. I tried primary teaching for two years once, but realised it wasn’t for me. I love my teaching subjects – always science and geography, with history most years as well – and loved the depths to which I could explore them with the older ones, particularly the GCSE and ‘A’ level students. I miss teaching a lot, sometimes. I have lots of happy memories, though.
  7. My husband and I, and our children, are great bird lovers. We live in a tiny village, surrounded by farmland and woods and our house is next to a farm, with barns and other outbuildings. We have so many different bird species coming into our garden, or the ‘bullock field’ at the back of it. I won’t list them all, but they range from tiny wrens, tits and finches to different species of owls and woodpeckers and a pair of sparrowhawks. The latter (not together) sometimes fly in to attack the hundreds of sparrows nesting in our back hedge. My particular favourites are the blackbirds. They are so territorial, just watching the antics of the most dominant ones has me in stitches. But even the pretty little male robins can be little brutes with each other! Of course, we encourage the garden birds to visit us with nut and seed feeders, and fat-balls hanging from every possible place. We’re well rewarded in the spring by being woken at 2.30 a.m. by the most amazing dawn chorus.  So much for  trying sleep . . .

These are the blogs I’m nominating for this award:

Note: Amongst them are a couple that have already had this award but who, I noticed, have responded to nominations for the same award more than once.

1.  faburlifekhloe

2. Pocketful of Joy

3.  The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

4.  Tony A Smith

5.  PlumTreeDreamer

6.  Heena Rathore P.

7.  Random Musings

8.  Something to Ponder About

9. Couple’s Chronicle

1o. Mariella Hunt

11. Kindness Blog

12. Scribbley14

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award is an award that recognises the unique voices of women across the world and I feel quite overwhelmed at having been nominated for it. My blog is relatively ‘young’, and I don’t publish as many posts as I would like to due to my writing commitments. So, I feel doubly honoured by this. The lovely lady who nominated me is Hardi Goradia. Her blog, Fifty Shades of Reality is excellent, every post extremely informative, thought provoking and deserving of every praise.

These are the five rules to follow:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.

2. Put the Award logo on your blog.

3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.

4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.

5. Nominate seven blogs.

These are my answers to Hardi’s questions:

1.  What keeps you going?

Life keeps me going; the sheer joy of just being able to enjoy the wonderful things that life can offer in the company of my family. I’ve spent many years of my life bringing up our six wonderful children and teaching until a few years ago. Now I’m writing the books I’ve had on hold for so long, and am enjoying every minute of it. I’m just about to start my third!

2.  What is more important to you, money or happiness?

I don’t need to think too hard about the answer to this one – happiness is more important to me than money. I know that’s easy to say when I’m not one of the millions of people worldwide who live in poverty and don’t even know where their next meal is coming from. But, without getting deeply into that issue, all I can say is that I’m thankful to be able to have a healthy and happy life, and know I am privileged in that.  And I don’t need lots of money to stay happy.

3.  Who is the one person to whom you can open your heart, share your           deepest sorrows as well as your greatest moments?

I have been married for 44 years and throughout that time my husband has been my soul mate. We are fortunate to have a marriage that has lasted through the years – which I think is partly because we are not afraid of talking about things, whether they be worries or delights. Sharing thoughts and feelings is part and parcel of mutual trust and friendship which, to me, are integral parts of a strong marriage.

4.  If you could go back in time, which age would you prefer, and why?

The two books I’ve written are set in the Anglo Saxon /Viking lands in the 9th century,  so naturally, I love that period. But I adore history in general and wouldn’t object to going back to a number of periods. Yet, that is all I would want to do – just have a ‘look’.  I know, without doubt, that I’d not want to actually stay in any period prior to the one I live in now! I’m afraid I’m rather partial to all the technological and medical advances we now enjoy. Yes, I know that the environment was better before industrialisation and the population explosion and so on. But life was extremely hard and life expectancy very short, so the past will never tempt me to return to it permanently. If I could borrow Dr. Who’s Tardis I would be supremely happy.

5.  What are the qualities you look for in a life partner?

I can only answer this question with hindsight as I’ve had a life partner for 44 years. (see Q.3 above!). I admit, when we married, I didn’t think too deeply about such qualities. I suppose we just ‘got on’ and understood each other so well that the qualities I wanted were just there. In the 44 years since that time, Nick has proved to be excellent at many of the things I’m useless at, and vice versa. He is superb at DIY, mending all things mechanical, electrical or otherwise. In other words, all the things I’m good at breaking! Whereas, I’m a mum. I miss our children around the place, even now. I love to cook and bake, and do all the other mumsy things. Nick does all the gardening. . . I won’t go on. I’ll just sum up by saying that we complement each other.

6.  What makes you think you are different to most others? 

I don’t believe myself to be intrisically different to anyone else. The  entire human race shares the same physical needs for survival, health and so on. But every person is also an individual. Unique. So I suppose I’ll have to think of something that makes me unique. Oh dear . . . I believe that a person’s ‘uniqueness’ is due to their particular combination of characteristics. So what are some of the ‘characteristics’ that constitute me? Firstly, I’m a strange mix of Arts and Sciences. My degree and main teaching subjects are sciences – which I do love. Geology/Earth Sciences fascinate me. But, on the other hand, I also veer towards the Arts. I sudied English Literature to a high level and have attended Creative Writing classes. Other than this, I can’t really think of a great deal. I know some people think I’m crazy to have had six children, and some people (i.e. my two daughters!) think I’m a complete ‘Ditz’ at times. I do seem to break everything I touch and fall over my own feet – but surely, that doesn’t make me a Ditz  . . . does it?

7. Which one electronic device could you not do without?

This is an easy one for me to answer. As a writer, I couldn’t cope without my laptop. But come to think of it, I’d die without my egg timer . . .!

8. What are you expecting out of this blog?

I started a blog because everyone advised me that, as a writer, I really should have one. So, I started in July, not really knowing how things on WordPress worked – and just kept going. I’ve come to absolutely love talking to people all over the world. Everyone is so friendly, it seems just like talking to old friends. As for my writing, I don’t ‘push’ information about my books – rightly or wrongly, I don’t know. I’m just enjoying connecting with people at the moment.

9. What do you miss most about your childhood?

This is another quick one for me to answer. I miss my mum and dad. I had a really happy childhood, with wonderful, caring parents and, although they both passed away many years ago, I still think of them often. I also loved living in Southport. I do miss the sea. Perhaps that’s why I write Viking books!

10.  Who is the one person with whom you’ve had most memories? Also mention those memories.

Having been married for so long (two-thirds of my life, in fact) the only answer to this can be my husband. We share so many memories – of the children growing up and the amazing Christmases we had when he and I would be up all night on Chritsmas Eve playing at being Father Christmas. I remember one such night in particular, when our eldest daughter, then six, wanted a desk. My husband – thinking he could make her a better one than any one we could buy – was still making the thing within an hour of the four children we had at that time coming downstairs. How we survived the sleepless nights, I don’t know.

So, here are my nominees:

1.  Tribalmystic

2.  Elsa Holland

3.  Heena Rathore P

4.  ChristineR

5.  Glaiza Binayas

6.  RobinLK

7. Julia Manuel

Here are my questions for the nominees:

1. What do you like best about blogging?

2. If you could visit any place in the world, where would that place be and why?

3. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

4. List 3 things that you are proud of doing / having done.

5. What was your favourite subject at school, and why did it appeal so much?

6. Is there any particular environmental issue that causes you concern?

7. What is your favourite childhood memory?

8. Who is your favourite character in a novel or film and why do you like them so much?

9. What is your greatest ambition in life?

10. What is the biggest compliment you have ever had?

I have chosen these blogs because I really enjoy reading them, and connecting with the lovely people who write them.

One Lovely Blog Award

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I have beeen nominated by the wonderful Elsa Holland for the One Lovely Blog Award.

I am truly honoured by this. It’s quite amazing to know that my five-month-old blog is not a total disaster. Yet. Thank you so much, Elsa.

The award requires me to Share Seven Lovely Facts about myself. Not the easiest thing in the world. I suppose it depends on how you interpret ‘Lovely’!  

Well, after some thought, here they are:

  1. I have been married (to the same man, that is) for 44 years. I’m not sure which of us is the more long-suffering!
  2. I was doing my teacher training in Liverpool at the same time as the Beatles were having fun in the famous ‘Cavern’. Manic, but what fun!
  3. I walk a lot. I can’t start my day before I’ve done at least four miles.  Then I go out again in the afternoon. When we first moved into this village I was quickly nicknamed, ‘the lady who walks’.
  4. The thing I like best about blogging is connecting with people all over the world. I could say it’s the geographer in me, but honesty impels me to admit that I’m also a chatterbox. My husband interprets that word as ‘nosy parker’.
  5. I like people who make me laugh. I’m naturally cheerful and love to keep that good humour going throughout the day. Life’s too short to be miserable for long.
  6. My husband and I never go to sleep at night without a goodnight kiss – unless we both fall asleep on our books.
  7. I’m a grand 5ft.2in. tall! I swear that everyone in my life puts things on top shelves just to annoy me. I have to climb on a chair whenever I need something.

Task two of this award asks that I name fifteen other blogs (or as many as possible) that I enjoy reading. Nominate the authors of those blogs to participate and do the same, linking back to the original Lovely Blog (that would be this page).

So, here they are:

The first is Elsa Holland who treats us to great writing, music and art.

I have enjoyed reading many others every week, including:

Tribalmystic

North of Andover

Storytime with John

Pursuit of Happiness

Elan Mudrow

talesbytink

O at the Edges

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