Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Liebster Blog Award Challenge

I've been nominated by the very lovely, Karen Aminadra, author and very good friend. You can view her post here.

I always enjoy Karen's blog, she comes up with something new and interesting every time. It isn't always easy to drum up a large following and this is a great idea to help bloggers get a foot on the ladder.

The purpose of the Liebster Blog Award is to recognize blogs with fewer than 200 followers that deserve a look. My job is to list 11 random facts about me, answer the 11 set questions and then nominate 11 new bloggers, who I think deserve more notice.
If you are nominated below, post on your own blog linking back here, with 11 random facts about yourself, answer my 11 questions and nominate 11 new bloggers (and think of 11 questions to ask them - can be anything!).
Right then...  If you prefer you can just do the 11 random facts about yourself, and answer my questions but it would be good to keep the ball rolling, so find 11 other bloggers if you can.

Eleven random facts about me.

The view from my desk
1. I live in the middle of the Welsh countryside and I don't drive. So, apart from my  husband and two grown up sons and the members of my writing group, Cwrtnewydd Scribblers
sometimes the only other human being I see for weeks on end is the postman. This would drive most people crazy but at least there are no distractions from writing and researching. As mad as it seems, it is Facebook that keeps me sane.

2. I am afraid of nothing ...except spiders - regardless of size, they freak me out.

3. When I was at school (long, long ago) and studying Romeo and Juliet for my 'O' levels and for the school play, I became so engrossed in it that I handed in a history homework paper largely written in Shakespeare style language.
My Irish Wolfhound substitutes

4. I absolutely love Irish Wolfhounds but my husband is not mad keen on dogs so, as a sort of compromise, I have two Jack Russells.  The bitch is called Hero and is the biggest coward you ever saw in your life, the dog is called Bryn, which is Welsh for Hill because he loves to run all over them.

5. I was a secret writer for years, only letting a few people know. It wasn't until I went to university and my lecturers encouraged me that I began to let my work be read outside the family. At first I wrote short stories and poetry because I didn't believe I had the capacity for a full-length piece. I was very happy to be proved wrong.

6. I am chronically shy and have to really force myself to promote my own work. I hate public speaking and readings and try to avoid them whenever possible. I really need to improve my confidence.

7. I love fish. Not for dinner but in the water. One of the things I hate to watch on television are fishing programmes showing the poor creature dragged from his natural element for our enjoyment. I hate all blood sports.

8. I am the youngest of five siblings and was an aunt by the age of three, growing up as more of a sibling to my nieces and nephews than an aunt. I am also a great-great aunt - but no crocheted shawl about my shoulders as yet.

9. I have been a history nut since I was a child. A portrait of Richard III has hung in my room since I was a teenager, when he shared a wall with Freddie Mercury.

10. I love any chocolate. My preference is Greens and Browns but I will happily scoff any brand within reach.

Some of the gang
11. I am mother/stepmother to seven, four boys, three girls (happily grown up now) and we also foster.

The Questions set for me  by  Karen Aminadra.

1 - Do you speak another language?

Not really. I have a little bit of Welsh, a smattering of French words and a few sentences of Japanese that I use to impress people - although the only Japanese words I know are from the Queen song Teo Torriatte:

Teo torriatte konomama iko
Aisuruhito yo
Shizukana yoi ni
Hikario tomoshi
Itoshiki oshieo idaki

2 - Is there a place in the world that you've always wanted to visit?

There are plenty of places I'd like to visit but I really hate travelling so I tend to keep to the UK. For a number of years I've been trying to get to St Iltydd's church near Brecon which isn't far from me at all but things keep getting in my way and its not very far from here at all.

3 - If you could go back in time, when would you go to and why?

1483 to hang out with the princes in the tower and find out what really happened to them.

4 - If you could go back in time within your own lifetime, what would you do?  Would you change anything?

 I don't think I'd change anything apart from maybe go to university as a young person instead of waiting until I was 40. If I could go back, I'd like to walk with my Dad again in the New Forest, hold onto his hand really tight and try to keep him young. He is 93 now and his walking days are over - they were my happiest times. I have the best parents in the  universe.

5 - Which of the characters that you've written is your favourite and why?

I think King Harold in my first novel, Peaceweaver, is my favourite. It's hard not to fall in love with your characters sometimes. As the plot drew closer to the Battle of Hastings I grew sadder and sadder. It almost felt as if I'd slaughtered him myself - which I did in a way, I suppose.

6 - Is there someone whom you'd love to put into one of your novels and kill off? (I won't ask who, but can you tell us why?)

There are usually elements of people who have offended me in my nastier characters. it can be quite refreshing. I don't think I've killed any off though, I usually reform them. It's a control thing, in fiction I can turn someone around and make them how I wish they really were.

7 - Are you nostalgic?  What or when for?

My childhood. It seemed to be always summer then. Long summers of picnics, camping with my family - winters infront of a roaring fire with a pile of books and mum bringing in a tray of lunch. As I said before I had a lovely childhood and I've tried to give my own children a similar one. I think its harder today though, my parents didn't have to compete with tv and computer games.

8 - What was your favourite band/group/singer when you were growing up?

Queen. I loved (still love) Freddie Mercury. My claim to fame is that he smiled at me once. I was at the free concert in Hyde Park, was it in 1974? I forget. anyway, my friend and were hanging over the front barrier and during a lull I yelled out his name and he looked right at me and smiled. I have lived on that smile ever since.

9 - Who was your first kiss with?

First proper kiss? My first snog was with a boy called Liam who lived a few doors down from me. I wrote a poem about the first time a boy gave me a peck.


Our tent a splash
of urban orange in his meadow
where he was part of the landscape.
His eyes the green-brown shade of
cowpats in the splattered byre.
His rough-knit jumper smelled of hay.  
His wellies were mired to the knee while
mine, newly released from umbilical string, 
gleamed like Whitby jet.
He showed me a broody hen on her secret clutch,
a nest of pink-mouthed kittens
that snagged my cardigan with tiny hooked claws.
In the hay barn, where sunlight striped
the dusty dark, the bales were piled to the roof.
There, he became the king of my castle.
He held me, I closed my eyes.
A trail of spittle on my lips and
a taste of humbug.
Afterwards I was allowed only a glimpse
of his dirty neck, the crown of his windblown head.
When his mother’s brood of straw-haired children
surged from the kitchen to hug and kiss
with dirty hands and sticky faces,
I looked for his goodbye but … he was not there.
I felt his lack as, camping gear jolting,
the car nosed along the rutted track.
The farmhouse dwindled and
from the back seat window, I saw him
climbing the meadow gate, his hair a clump of windblown grass.
He stopped to look and raised his hand.

10 - Have you ever thought about writing in a different genre?  Which genre and why?

I have tried contemporary but I am really not at home there. I have no idea what it's like to work in a modern office or even how a mobile phone works. It might seem strange that I can write about Tudor times but not about the here and now but I am so out of touch with modernity I dont think I could pull it off. I could probably do the 1970 -80s with more success but I think I will stick to historical.

11 - What is the one thing in the world that you cannot live without?
John. He is my husband, partner, lover, best friend and I cannot imagine being without him and my kids. After them comes my computer and my books. I also have a flourishing relationship with my kindle.

My questions for the people I have nominated.

1. When you aren't blogging or writing what do you like to do best?

2. How did you become a writer?

3. Which 11 people from history would you invite to dinner and why?

4. Tell us about your favourite place and what makes it so special.

5. If  you were Prime Minister what would you change?

6. What did  you do before you had the internet? - if you were born then of course :)

7. What people have influenced you in your life?

8. Can you remember what you wanted to be when you were five years old?

9. If you were a character in a fictional classic, which would you choose to be?

10. Do you prefer wine or spirits, chocolate or cheese?

11. Of all the blog posts you have ever written which is your favourite and why. Put a link to it here.

 I nominate these people for The Liebster Award:

Sheila Dalton, Rachael Thomas, Judith Barrow, David Pilling, Helen SpringLisa Yarde, Cas Peace,   Avis Lexley,
Jean Mead, Anna Belfrage