The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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Having only recently responded to one a blog award nomination, I still have three more to do – so I thought I’d better get on with them. I’m doing each according to when I received the nomination, and this one, from Maria, at Doodles and Scribbles, is from late September.  I really do appreciate being nominated for these awards, but time hasn’t been a particular friend of mine recently. So I must apologise to Maria for hanging onto it for so long. I don’t seem to have enough hours in the day to fit everything in that I need to. Maria writes some lovely posts, including many great flash fiction stories, and I recommend you to take a look at her blog.

The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award is one I’ve had before, but not this particular version. I was pleased to find that it didn’t ask for any more facts about me, as I’ve used up a lot of those recently!

The rules for this award are as follows:

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  1. Thank the giver and link their blog to your post.  (done)
  2. Answer the 10 questions given to you.
  3. Pass the award on to ‘N’ (as many as you want) other bloggers of your choice and let them know that they have been nominated.
  4. Give your nominees 10 of your own questions to answer.
  5. Include the logo of the award in a post or on your blog (first image above)

Right then, now to answers the questions:  

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  1. Why do you write?

I’ve always loved to write (such a typical response!). Even in primary school I wrote stories about all kinds of things, often inspired by what I’d been reading at home or at school, or games created in the playground. I was always good at the basic spelling, punctuation and grammar, so it was just a case of using my imagination – which I never had a problem with. Nowadays, I write my books because I have a story to tell and need to get it out. I also become very involved with my characters and love developing them.

2. If you were to create a fictional character for yourself, who it be and why?

Having finished two of the three books of my trilogy, I can say that I’ve created a lot of fictional characters. Several of them, like Alfred the Great, are actual historical characters, so I’ve had to be careful to comply with whatever has been historically documented. But my story is set in the 9th century, when little was written about individuals’ characters, especially those of women. So it’s down to authors to flesh out the details. Sometime in the future, when I’ve finished this trilogy, I’d like to create some interesting Roman characters for a historical crime novel set in Roman Britain. At the moment my protagonist is likely to be a legionary based up on Hadrian’s Wall who will have some devious characters to deal with.

3. What’s your favorite book?

I haven’t got a single favourite book. I’ve read a lot of excellent novels, and enjoyed and admired the skills of the authors who wrote them. I read mostly historical fiction and crime novels, and really like a combination of the two. For historical fiction I’ve enjoyed books by Dorothy Dunnett, Wilbur Smith, Bernard Cornwell and Harper Lee. For crime novels, I’ve liked many authors, most recently Val McDermid. I’ve also enjoyed some of Patricia Cornwell’s crime books which delve into the forensic side of things. If someone twisted my arm for a single, favourite, I would have to cite ‘Game of Kings’ the first book of the Lymond Chronicles as my all-time favourite.

4. Idealism or realism?

I think we need a dollop of both idealism and realism in life: they balance each other out nicely. I believe a life spent totally in fantasyland can be a dangerous thing. We all need to live in the real world and face up to how things really are. Conversely, most of us can dream of having a better life, a better future – both for ourselves and the world in general. In my view, the bravest people are those who go out there and work towards making that happen.

5. What quote do you live by and why?

The quote(s) I like best are those which simply say ‘Be Yourself’. I think it’s so important to keep a firm idea in your head about who you actually are and not behave in a way you think will impress other people. Some of the unhappiest people around are those who try, or pretend, to be something they’re not. I don’t mean we shouldn’t aim high and work hard to achieve better things in work and home life – but when it comes down to it, we need to know ourselves to be ourselves

6. What’s the most challenging thing about being a woman?

For me, the most challenging thing about being a woman has been the need to balance bringing up a family and having a career. Having six children and a teaching career, I found it impossible to work for several years whilst the children were all still young. I admit, I wouldn’t have wanted to leave them with child-minders anyway, as few people did that in those days. And we never lived close to any family. When I had just the four children, I did take on teaching evening classes a few nights a week at a nearby boys’ detention centre  – which has now become a men’s prison – for a few years (the ‘boys’ being aged 14-21). That worked well for us because my husband was home from school by then. But even when I returned to teaching at a secondary school it was hard work fitting in all that needed to be done at home as well as finding time for the marking and preparation of school work. But, as they say … needs must.

Nowadays many women return to work within weeks of giving birth, whether through financial necessity or a love of their careers. Grandparents are called on a lot, and childminding has become far more stringently controlled and managed, almost as a ‘career’. And rightly so: parents need to know that their children are in reliable and responsible hands.

7. If you could spend a day with a character in a book or movie, who would it be and why?

The character I would most like the ‘get my head around’ is Francis Crawford of Lymond, from the novels by Dorothy Dunnett, set in 16th century Scotland. My daughter, Louise, is probably an even bigger fan than I am, and has read the series umpteen times. I have only read the books once and know I should read them again. Lymond, as he’s generally called, is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever come across in a novel and, even if I spent a day with him, I’d barely begin to unravel his many foibles, motives and incredible strengths. After a week, I still don’t think I’d understand the way his mind works and I’d probably want to kill him from the sheer frustration of that. He’s an awesome and totally intriguing character.

8. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘feminism’.

Feminism to me means women having equal rights to men. It can conjure up images of the antics of people like Germaine Greer back in the 1960s in their attempts to bring this to public attention. Undoubtedly such antics were intended to shock and get people to take note of the subject of women’s rights, both in the home and workplace. This ‘getting noticed’ plan was little different to the actions of the Suffragettes at the end of the 19th/ beginning of the 20th century. To me, fighting for those rights was justified, in many ways. We only have to watch films and comedy shows set in the 60s to remind us of the way in which women were viewed in western society back then. I believe that, in a place of work, if a woman does the same job as a man, then equal pay is her right. Jobs which involve the physical strength and size of a man are a different thing.

The bad side of feminism that too often raises its ugly head, is women behaving in a derogatory way towards men and being totally obnoxious to any man who offers simple courtesy towards them -by keeping a door open for them, for example (I’ve seen that happen.) To me it’s common courtesy to keep a door open for anyone following behind me, man or woman.  But this particular woman gave the poor man who’d held the door for her a real mouthful of abuse and the usual accusation of being a chauvinist pig! I won’t go into any more examples, but there’s a nasty side of feminism as well as a positive side of equal rights and equal pay. As for drunken and lewd behaviour, my feelings about that are applicable to both sexes. It shouldn’t happen – certainly not on the streets.

9. Name one thing you will never do in life.

Apart from the obvious things like committing crimes of extreme violence (!) and posing naked, I’m struggling to answer this one. I could say that I’d never swim with sharks – or even go down in a metal cage – because I have a real phobia about them. I went snorkelling on the Barrier Reef (Australia) a few years ago, to be asked by our two huge Australian guides when I got back in the boat, if I’d seen the shark down there. I hadn’t … but talk about freaking me out!

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It was only a reef shark, they said. But a shark’s a shark to me! It put me off snorkelling for a while. But I just can’t resist lovely clear, blue water.

10. If your blog is a body part, what would it be and why?

I don’t see my blog as a body part. I know some people will see it as their heart, but I simply see it as an extension of myself and my writing, and another outlet through which the creative juices can flow. I love my blog dearly because of the wonderful people I’ve ‘met’ and ‘talked’ to regularly, but when it comes down to it, my priority right now is my trilogy. I love writing my blog posts though, particularly the flash fiction, and I also love doing my travel and historical posts. But my own writing needs more attention right now because I’ve neglected Book 3 for a lot of this year whilst indulging myself on WordPress. It’s now time for me to ease off on my blogging.  I won’t be saying farewell to all of my heart – just a part of it.

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I’ll pick up the pieces later on.

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And here are my nominees:

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Norma at Emovere

Amanda at Something to Ponder About

Susan at Susan’s Personal Blog

Morgan at The Diary of a Computer Science Student

writenlive at Read Write Live

Jean at White House Red Door

Chioma at livehomeandaway

Bekki at Dartmoor Yarns 

Joy at Tales fron Eneana

Daniela at DanielaApostol

Questions for my nominees:
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1. How would you describe what your blog is about?

2. Do you see your blog changing (as in expanding or developing in any way) at some stage in the future?

3. Do you write your blog posts straight onto the WordPress page or onto a word document first?

4.  When you write do you need to be on your own or are you happy to write with others around you?

5. Which is your favourite species of tree, and why do you like it?

6.  If you were to have a day out somewhere easily reachable from your home, where would it be?

7.  Which ‘celebration’ (annual or otherwise) in the country where you live do you enjoy the most?

8.  Which way would you choose to travel, given the choice: car or train?

9. Which subject did you enjoy the most at school?

10. What do you think is the best thing about being a woman today?