Honoured to receive the Dragon’s Loyalty award

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Love that picture!

I was very pleased (not to mention surprised) when Briana Vedsted nominated me for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award!

This was an award I’d not seen before so I was delighted when Briana chose to nominate me and my blog.

The rules for this award are:
1.         Display the Award Certificate on your website.
2.         Announce your win with a written post and link to whoever presented your award.
3.         Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers.

4.         Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have liked them in the post.
5.         Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

So here goes!

Seven interesting (I hope) things about me:

1.         Robin Hobb’s ‘Blood of Dragons’ might be the last paper book I will ever read…

2.        Writing has become my anchor in an otherwise chaotic life.

3.        I dislike the cold and grey of winter – but I love the snow!  How weird (S.A.D.) is that?

4.         I have a terrier who may have been an engineer in his former life.  He’s the smartest dog I’ve ever seen.

5.         I’m fascinated by sunsets and cannot stop taking photos of them.

6.         My biggest regret is having not pursued motor racing in my 20’s.  I still think I could have made a career out of it.

and…
7.         I can find peace and inspiration if I stop to watch running water.  Perhaps my Muse is a water-spirit…

And now for my nominees (I’m doing 10 instead of 15):

As it’s a loyalty award, I will nominate those who have been with me, who have encouraged me and stuck with me throughout my (and their) ups and downs…

Ryan Casey – without whom I may not have (self) published

Candace Knoebel – whose adventures have blazed a fiery trail!

Sonya Loveday – for her love, encouragement and inspiration here and on Facebook.

Jon at Jumpingfromcliffs – for keeping me going when things got sticky.

Michelle Proulx – for her zany (and often surreal) humour and for introducing me to the word ‘Woot!’

Pat at patwoodblogging – for her steadfast encouragement even when it snowed.

…plus a few newer followers with whom I have enjoyed much banter;

Karen Gadient – it seems we share much that is non-corporeal!

Daphnee at AnEvilnymphsblog – who is anything but evil (sorry, didn’t you want that known?).

Nightwolf aka KisaWhipkey – for encouragement via blog and Facebook

Fortyoneteen – thanks for your insight.

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Please pass this award on to those bloggers who are deserving of a loyalty award.  We gotta stick together!

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Brand New Award

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My blogging history has been quite short, unlike my desire to publish a novel, which stretches back to my schooldays in the 1970’s.

I’ve been blogging since 2010, but only produced my first post in June of this year, thereby announcing to the blogsphere that I had finally screwed up enough courage to let others read my random ramblings.

Since then, I have been blessed with an avalanche of hints, tips and encouragement, without which my WIP would not have been catapulted forward to the very doorstep of eBook publishing possibility.  Yes, it’s imminent!

So I say, to all those bloggers who lowered down the golden hair of assistance from the towering heights of publication, a big, heartfelt THANK YOU.

In recognition of those who have helped me most directly, I have created this;

I hope it goes some way to illustrating my gratitude towards aspiring authors those who pause in their headlong race long enough to help us – the stragglers.

They didn’t have to…they could have simply concentrated on their own compelling journey.  But they didn’t – they reached out and shared their experiences; their knowledge.

Ryan Casey said to me; In this age of eBooking, writers are no longer in competition with each other – there’s enough room out there for us all.

And these helpful souls illustrated just what can be achieved if we all work together.

Now, I’m aware that every single post, every tiny nugget of information that a blogger publishes in a post can accumulate to contribute to the whole and this invaluable advice is reason enough to send thanks out to those who share.

But I can’t simply nominate everyone that I follow, even though I am already developing a guilt complex for not doing so.  *sigh.

So, I will nominate a small number of Most Helpful bloggers, those who have most directly inspired me and ask that you spread the nominations in turn to those who have offered you a helping hand along the way.

I’d also suggest that you might want to mention how they helped you and perhaps what kind of a difference their advice has made to your WIP.

Besides the above suggestions, there are no hard and fast rules to this award.  Let it evolve…feel free to improve upon it as it goes.

It will be interesting to see how it develops.

So, without further ado, I hereby nominate the following bloggers for their help, advice and encouragement;

Ryan Casey – for all his eBooking assistance and for pointing me towards Guido Henkel’s invaluable ‘Take Pride’ tutorial.

Sonya Loveday – for her love, encouragement and going ‘above and beyond’ (ie without sleep) to provide critique.

Pat Wood – for her constant encouragement and witty repartee.  Thank you, Ms. Arborea!  :)

Candace Knoebel - for blazing a Ravven-coloured trail that showed what could be achieved with hard work and dedication.

CA Hustead – for providing constructive comments when they were needed most.

Michelle Proulx – for inspiring me with her blow-by-blow descriptions of her ePublishing adventures.

Jon Simmonds of Jumpingfromcliffs – for his wise, thought-provoking comments and words of wisdom.

M D Kenning – for his guidance, hints, tips and experiences with eBooking and social media.

I also extend an open-armed and warm-hearted thank you to everyone else who has inspired me – even indirectly – and ask that you continue to share your wisdom and experiences so that we may all benefit and flourish as writers.

Write on!

Beautiful Blogger Award.

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This has been a busy couple of months for me.  Ever since I stepped up my blog-followings back in June (on my birthday, as it happens), I have been nominated for no less than 4 awards. 

Thank you, everyone.  I’d just like to *sobs* thank my mother, my neighbours, my cat…

Just kidding.  I’m no Gwyneth Paltrow.  Except maybe at the weekends,but that’s another story.

I was a little surprised by the award.  I mean, I know I keep the blog area tidy.  But for it to be truly beautiful, I’d have to get some flowers around the place, maybe a couple of potted plants. 

Still, the award nominations look nice over the fireplace. 

But I digress.  Thank you, Jon at Jumping from Cliffs, for nominating my blog.  I will try to keep the cobwebs at bay. 

The rules of this nomination stipulate that I am to tell you 5 beautiful/interesting things about myself or my blog and nominate 5 other bloggers for this award to spread the beautiful feeling. 

Also, the award must be handled with humour and humility in equal measure.

Beautiful fact 1;  I only began to blog because it seemed like a modern way to keep a writing journal.  Since then my blog has become as essential to me as my novel.  I enjoy being able to access it from anywhere on the planet (all right, within Europe). 

Beautiful fact 2;  My blog enables me to chart my journey.  I’m often startled when I read what was troubling me as a writer back in 2010, or how little I had written back then.  It all seems so long ago.  Nostalgia’s not what it used to be, you know.

Beautiful fact 3;  I love the way that my blog has enabled me to ‘reach out and touch’ so many like-minded people, some of whom have become friends.  I’m talking about you – yes, you.  No, not them behind you.  You.

Beautiful fact 4;  Having a circle of friendly bloggers is like having a big, warm, cosy blanket to wrap around me on the ‘down’ days.  ‘Alone’ is not a word that I use much anymore.

Beautiful fact 5;  I once read that the definition of old age is; ‘You have all the answers, but nobody is asking the questions.’  Well, blogging enables me to ask of that which I do not know and pass on that which I do (does that make grammatical sense?).  I don’t have all the answers (who does?), but together we can ensure that fewer of us now tread this uncertain road in lonely ignorance.  Thanks go to everyone who has offered advice and ‘steered me right.’

To vary my previous nominations and to ensure that there is no favouritism, I will nominate five bloggers that I haven’t nominated before.  The alternative is to nominate only five that I follow and exclude many worthy bloggers that I would also wish to nominate.  Guilty feelings for me and perhaps unhappiness from them for being omitted. 

So, five bloggers that I think deserve this award and who haven’t been previously nominated by me;

1) Em Types  – a rivetting read.  I found myself simply unable to stop.

2) Paulina Czarnecki – who lurves Emoticons  ;)  so much she blogs about them.

3)  J-Bo  Love the picture, love the chatter.

4)  Jacqui Murray – I always leave here enchanted AND educated.

5) Norfolk Novelist – every glance draws me in to read more…

Enjoy, check out these great blogs – and keep widening the circle of bloggers.  

The main reason I am following so many fascinating blogs is because of this type of awards system. *Cheers!*

Write on!

 

It’s all about the journey

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I’d long been an avid cynic of reality TV shows such as X Factory, Pop Idle, Big Brooder, (disparaging mis-spellings intentional) et al, citing them as simple ratings magnets that were all hype and no substance.

I’d avoid them like the cliche, eschewing Saturday night television altogether, tutting at the oft-hyped results and the acres of tabloid coverage they seemed to generate.

But little by little, weekend visits to a friend’s house resulted in the television (which seemed to have no ‘off ‘ function) drawing my eye and ear towards the (often hapless) auditionees on ‘X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ every Saturday night. 

I found myself becoming intrigued, for no reason that I could fathom.  I didn’t know these people, these fame-seeking wannabes (only some of whom were quietly talented and later became successful) and yet I found myself increasingly drawn into their stories as they inched their way towards the stars.  I followed them from their earliest beginnings.  I saw their spotlight-dazzled faces as they shuffled reluctantly onto an over-large stage to croak out a few nervous bars of their favourite song.  And then I watched their eyes light up as the crowd called out its approval.

But why was I watching this IQ-sapping drivel; this thinly-disguised attempt to solicit viewers (and before you mentally compose hate-mail, please let me finish), this apparent waste of valuable writing time?

It suddenly became clear to me when I unexpectedly became hooked on yet another reality TV show – Masterchef.  

Hooked? Why?  I know nothing about food.  I can barely make mashed potato or an edible cheese sauce.  To this day I am still able to slide rock-hard frozen food onto a microwave platter with only a basic idea of why it emerges twenty minutes later as a hot, steaming meal.  I have no aspirations to create Langoustine consommé with lemon tuiles and pea puree, or to begin experimenting with molecular gastronomy (although liquid Nitrogen does look like a wonderful toy).

The chemistry of food defies my kind of logic.  It’s a pleasure to eat, true, but the assembly is an alien process to me and most likely will forever remain that way. 

But there I was, week after fascinated week, watching untrained but enthusiastic amateurs, their fumbling fingers creating elegantly-assembled dishes of confit duck on a bed of celeriac mash to Michelin-class standards.   But why?  In the name of the knife, fork and spoon, why??

Then it finally clicked.  The title of this post says it all.  It was about the journey.

We aspiring writers have very similar goals to those clumsy cooks, those shaking singers, those jittering jugglers.  We are all on the same journey of self-discovery – with the hope of our own selves being discovered.  Or our work, at least.

I realised that by watching these rising stars gain new skills and achieve undreamed-of heights, my thoughts were paralleling their journey with my own aspirations, because I hoped that I would also (one day) experience a similar journey. 

My mind had latched onto these stories in an unconscious act of self-preparation.

It may be that every individual who achieved the final three of Masterchef, X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent has already inspired me; proved to me that it IS possible to lift our (literary) voices from behind the background noise of society enough to be heard. 

Ordinary mortals like us can achieve great things.  But it takes time.  It takes a measure of confidence.  But it can require a good measure of encouragement from our peers too. 

It is perhaps because of all of this that I am mentally prepared for the next step of ePublishing, the quiet, stealthy equivalent of seeing my work in Bookers or Waterstones.  I dare to touch my toe to the chill waters of public consumption and say to them ‘nibble on that,’ whilst thinking ‘pleasedon’tbite, pleasedon’tbite!’

The journey from ‘I could write a book’ through ‘could I write a book?’ to ‘I have written a book’ is moving forward.  Who was it that said; ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’?

But where is your journey taking you? How far have you already come?

Have you been inspired by stories of success or sheer determination? 

Have you watched others climbing the ladder towards success, feeling that your journey was headed the same way?

Do you feel (particularly with ePublishing opening up new possibilities) that the impossible is now possible?

Share your story with us.  Tell us where your journey is taking you.

Write on – and encourage others to do the same in every way that you can.

  

Reader Appreciation Award

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This post has been a long time due and so, for that, I apologise.

The whirl of completing my Twelfth Draft, the decision to ePublish and the creating of my book cover scoured my brain of much of my daily to-do list.

Anyway, last month I was fortunate enough to receive a nomination for the Reader Appreciation Award, not once but twice!

Thank you Mymagical escape (I tried to find your name on your blog, but couldn’t) for this award.   I love the image – it just so happens that big, bright sunflowers are a favourite of mine.

Also, Sonya Loveday nominated me the following day, a lovely thought.

The conditions of this award seem to be similar to those of the Liebster and Lovely Blog awards.

I tried to back-track through Mymagicalescape’s nominator, Pat Wood or as I like to think of her, Caress Arborea *winks*, but I couldn’t find any specific conditions listed on her blog.

Sonya mentions that the Reader Appreciation Award Foundation stipulate six nominations, so I will do that, but add in Mymagicalescape’s format and write seven things about myself first – stuff that I haven’t already said after receiving previous nominations.

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1. I believe in Angels – just not necessarily the kind that appear in popular literature.

2. I live in the same town as Jenna Burtenshaw and have received a great deal of encouragement from her.

3.  It was my wife’s tottering stack of vampire novels that compelled me to write ‘A Construct of Angels’.

4.  Movie soundtracks inspire my writing.

5.  My ‘day job’ takes me all over the UK.  75% of the time it gifts me writing opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise enjoy.

6. Currently, my favourite writing tool is my Acer Netbook.

7. I am the closest I have ever been to publishing a book and cannot quite believe it.

.

Now, the nominations;

I’m supposed to nominate six bloggers for this Reader Appreciation award, so here are my choices;

1. Candace Knoebel

2. Ryan Casey

3. M D Kenning

4. Sonya Loveday

5. Carly Sarah

6. Michelle Proulx

7. Abusively Baboozan

8. Pat Wood blogging

Oops – I can’t count.  I know Candace, Sonya and Carlyysarah had already been nominated by Mymagicalescape and Pat Wood nominated her in the first place, but I love them so much, I felt compelled to repeat the nomination.

Who’s to say that I can’t?  :p

Oh, oh.  Yellow card approaching from the Reader Appreciation Award Foundation.

Enjoy, bask if you like, but don’t forget to spread the love!

 

Write on!

Do you empathise with your characters?

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Do you?

I mean really get down into the mud with them and feel their pain as if it was your own?

In this age of guts, gore and death on both the big and the small screen, it’s all too easy to sit back and munch popcorn as a larger-than-life action figure takes a bullet, then fights on to the expected victory.  The heroine, meanwhile, hangs by a single finger over a fatal drop before she is rescued in the very last instant by a strong grip around her slender wrist.

Yeah, sure he groans as the bullet buries itself in his flesh.  She shrieks as her finger slips. 

But what do they really feel?  Can you, as a writer, firstly imagine the pain, the sheer terror that these characters ought to be feeling?  And can you, secondly, convince the reader that these unfortunate, suffering characters know that a life-stopping moment is but a heartbeat away?   We are all buzzing bags of emotion, not unfeeling machines.  Readers know this – and we must deliver. 

I’ve dreamed of plunging to my death in a car, then woken in a cold, shaking sweat, hardly able to convince myself that I’d survived.  In one brief moment, I’d mentally wrapped up my life, regretted things unfinished, and wondered if non-corporeal existence or oblivion awaited me.  Then; bang;  I was a crumpled statistic – but one with an answer.  One with an edge to create better death scenes; and to recognise shallow ones.  And although it was a dream, I’d been there.  I’d actually felt it.

If you’re in any doubt that you are tuned into your characters, retire to a quiet place after you’ve written your action sequence.   Become one with your character of choice.  Climb into their skin, then re-run the action.  Hang from a stone gargoyle one hundred storeys above the city.  Plunge over a waterfall, not knowing if you’re going to see the next minute.  Switch off all the lights and spin around three times to experience some of the disorientation of being inside a darkened warehouse (but please don’t injure yourself – even if you are researching pain!).

Better still, if the geography or architecture allows, visit the closest possible parallels to your scene and lean over that edge; feel the power of the wind and water.  Picture the last seconds of your life as gravity claims its prize. 

Your character would.

Imagine how you’d feel if someone close to you went over the edge instead; feel that anger, that helplessness, that utter and permanent loss.

And relax…breathe.  Then get it down on paper / screen.

I’ve dealt largely with falls so far.  Other fates are available, naturally. 

And of course, this technique doesn’t just apply to action scenes. 

Pain is not the only emotion;

Betrayal?  Your best friend has just eloped with your significant other / taken your expensive car / smuggled out your priceless show cat.  Get angry; feel betrayed.  Just don’t call that friend until you’ve simmered down and put your hurt and anger into black-and-white.

Love?  A trickier one this, one that relies on previous experience.   Think of it as the ultimate head-and-heart battle.  Except that the head belongs to an adult, and the heart is a wanton, wailing, selfish four-year-old that (almost) always gets their way.  How wrenching would that be as an internal monologue?

Fear?  There are many shades of fear, too many to list here.  Briefly, though; Fear of death (brief pain and it’s all over – but you might leave everything unfinished); Fear of loss – what is it that you could not stand to exist without?  Fear of change; your comfort zone – obliterated.

Feel them all – no, really.  Feel them all.  And then create characters that we can really relate to – and emotions that stir our own. 

What better than a novel that takes us upon a roller-coaster ride that leaves us emotionally wrought, but thoroughly satisfied?

For further reading I’d recommend Rivet your readers with Deep POV.  Please note that I am in no way affiliated with this work  – I just found it to be instructive.

So, over to you;

What techniques do you use to get beneath your character’s skin?  

Do you perform mental walk-throughs? 

Do you research on-line for the experiences of others, or even query them face-to-face?

I’ve been judged – and I’m worth $195!

1 Comment

I was just taking my usual route to my blog via Google (I can’t have a shortcut or bookmark at work – long story!) when I noticed that I got a match at webstatsdomain.

Feeling slightly apprehensive, I clicked on the link – and found that my blog is safe for kids – and it’s worth $195!

Cash or cheque / check?

Who knew that random journaling and general babbling could be so lucrative?

:)

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