Super Sweet Blogging Award

super-sweet-blogging-awardJust when I was dredging my exhausted brain for a blog idea for today, I remembered that – hurrah! – the lovely M T McGuire nominated me for the Super Sweet Blogging Award. Thank you! And it’s about cake. And cookies. I just need a cup of tea and I’m sorted. (As if by magic my lovely hubbie has produced said cuppa. Right, let’s go!)

First of all, I’d like to thank M T McGuire for nominating me. Her blog, M T McGuire Authorholic, has a lovely range of articles from publishing information to anecdotes from her son McMini. Do go visit.

Here are the rules for accepting this award:

  • Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you. (tick)
  • Answer 5 Super Sweet questions. (see below)
  • Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post. (done)
  • Nominate a bakers’s dozen (13) other deserving bloggers. (see below)
  • Notify your Super Sweet nominees on their blog. (pending!)

The 5 Super Sweet Questions:
More hurrahs! I have such a sweet tooth. How can I not love questions about sweet treats!

Cookies, yum yum

Cookies, yum yum

Cookies or Cake?
Cookies, definitely. Double chocolate with chunks of white chocolate in them. Although I am partial to cake – chocolate or carrot cake, or a bit of lemon drizzle cake with a nice cup of tea.

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate, hands down.

Favorite Sweet Treat?
Anything chocolate pretty much, the darker the better, although I do get cravings for Crunchies (chocolate-covered honeycomb for the non-Brits) and Double Deckers (teeth-breaking nougat and biscuit covered in chocolate. I actually lost a tooth to one, but still love them!)

When Do You Crave Sweet Things The Most?
All the time, but especially around ‘that time of the month’

Sweet Nick Name?
Hubbie calls me Honey but I’m anything but sweet most of the time

Here are my nominees: these are all bloggers who not only have fantastic blogs which I read as often as I can, but have also supported me through the last year, in my writing, in my parenting, in life. So, ladies, I’d like to buy you all a nice slab of your favourite cake. Calorie-free, of course.

My Bakers’ Dozen

There are others, but the rules say 13… Do pop by and say hello.

Getting Stronger: 2013 365 Challenge #154

Just keep smiling

Just keep smiling

Yesterday I received my first one-star review for Dragon Wraiths. Aside from being aggrieved at the effect on my average rating, because I still don’t have many reviews, I was okay about it because the reviewer said ‘not my style’. Fair enough.

But, as if one-star reviews are buses, low and behold there’s another one today.

And this one’s a proper attack from someone who has read the book (as they’re quick to point out, possibly in retaliation to the five-star reviewer who reviewed while still reading.)

I’m obviously a bit low about it, but only because I’ve inadvertently wasted hours of a person’s life (as they were also quick to point out!). I’m appreciative that they read my novel to the end – I certainly wouldn’t have done if I’d disliked a book as much. And I’m grateful for the honest feedback. I’ll particularly take note of the bit that suggests the climate change theme is preachy and inaccurate.

But I’m not devastated by the review.

Hard to be sad here: The Mill House at Sacrewell Farm

Hard to be sad here: The Mill House at Sacrewell Farm

Which isn’t like me at all. Lost keys or finding a typo can leave me sobbing. I’ve been trying to work out why I’m not upset. I think some of it comes from the fab support I got on my Facebook page in response to the first low review. There are other factors too: Partly it’s because I’ve come to believe in my writing, partly because I’ve thought books and films were awful and been in the minority, and partly because at least it got a reaction. At least someone bothered to tell me what they thought.

Surely every artist wants to know what the world thinks of their work, good and bad.

Not that I want every person who buys or downloads a free copy of my book to leave a one-star review. But at least this person bothered to give a reason, unlike some of my one-star reviews on Goodreads. Now that is annoying. I cannot learn and grow as a writer if I can’t accept criticism, and I certainly can’t learn what to fix if no one tells me what’s wrong in the first place.

Ironically I’ve never been strong enough to join a critique group, because my low self-esteem hears critique of my writing as an attack on me as a person. Having such an attack come from someone who doesn’t know me at all makes it much easier to keep the two separate.

Besides, I was also nominated for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award today, (thank you and, as an author, you take the good with the bad and Just Keep Writing…


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:


“Morning, sleepy head.”

Claire turned towards the noise and prised open sticky eyes. Kim was standing beside the bed, a cup of tea in one hand, a plate of toast in the other.

“I thought you might be hungry, as you said you didn’t eat dinner yesterday.” Kim slid the cup and plate on the bedside table, then perched on the edge of the bed.

“How are you feeling this morning? How’s the wrist?”

Claire wriggled upright, blinking her eyes into focus. “How are you so fresh and awake? What time is it?”

“It’s around 11am.”

“What?” Claire jerked, as if to leap out of bed. Kim held out a restraining hand, and smiled.

“Shhh don’t get up. It’s fine, you needed sleep. Sleep is the best healer.”

“Kim, I haven’t slept in until lunchtime in years.” Well, not without an incentive to stay in bed at any rate.

“You’ve had an accident, you need to rest.” She tilted her head, and grinned. “Besides, I need you awake to discuss wedding plans with me later. My concern is purely selfish.”

Claire looked up at her friend, noticing for the first time the blonde roots showing through the bright red hair. As if sensing her scrutiny, Kim put a hand to her head and smiled sheepishly.

“I had to stop dying it, when I found out I was pregnant. Looks like I’m going to have to wear a wig after all. Not sure what I’m going to do for the wedding. I can’t decide whether to get a blonde wig and look like me, or get you to pin it up so the roots don’t show.” Kim stopped abruptly. “Sorry, I’m wittering on again. I talked your ear off last night, when you arrived, didn’t I?”

Claire shook her head, hoping it seemed sincere. She reached for her tea, to mask any expression on her face that might give her away.

“I did, I know. I’m sorry. It’s just I seem to be bottling words at the moment. There’s so much going on in my life, in my head, and Jeff isn’t here all that much. We’re in rehearsals stage at work, so there’s no time to chat…” She trailed off, as if unwilling to explain her need to talk with yet more words.

“What about your Mum, can you talk to her? Not that it isn’t nice to talk to you.” Claire’s words slurred with tiredness, and she took another gulp of hot tea.

“I don’t really feel comfortable talking to Mum. I know she isn’t thrilled about the pregnancy, and the wedding being all rushed.”

“I thought it was Jeff’s parents insisting you get married before the baby arrives.” Claire cradled the mug and let the steam warm her face.

“They didn’t insist, we guessed. No one has really said anything, it’s all just dark looks and sharp intakes of breath.”

Claire tried to remember Kim’s parents. From what she could recall, Kim had a great relationship with them. Much more open and loving than hers. She remembered hearing Kim’s mother call, ‘I love you’ as Kim ran in to school. Kim would yell her answer over her shoulder, long hair flying, face bright with joy. I don’t think I’ve ever told my parents I love them, or heard them say it to me.

“Maybe you need to sit and have a good chat with your Mum. She doesn’t seem the disapproving type. Perhaps she’s worried about saying the wrong thing, or getting in your way, over-stepping the mark. It must be tough for her, too.”

Kim stared at the floral duvet cover, a crease between her brows. The girls sat silent for a few moments, the only sound the slurp of Claire’s tea.

“You’re right.”

Kim’s sudden words made Claire jump, and she was thankful the mug was empty.

“I need to call her. I don’t want to plan this wedding, or have this baby, without my Mum. Will you excuse me?”

Claire nodded, envious of Kim’s decisiveness. Her friend disappeared from the room, leaving Claire to eat her cold toast alone.


Liebster Blogging Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Thank you Rinelle for my Award

Thank you Rinelle for my Award

Way back in March I was nominated by Kelly at Free Little Words for the Very Inspiring Blogger award (my second nomination) and I confess I didn’t have capacity to accept the award, despite my best intentions. Since then I have also been nominated for the Liebster Blogging Award, by Rinelle Grey (gosh, that was a month ago too! How time flies). I haven’t received the Liebster Award before.

Therefore in today’s post I would like to thank Kelly for her nomination, and also thank Rinelle Grey for hers. I will respond only to the Liebster Award, as I would nominate the same blogs for both awards anyway!

What is the Liebster Blog Award?

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. “Liebster” is German for “favorite”. The rules of this award say I need to give 11 random facts about me, answer 11 questions asked by the person who gave me the award, and nominate 11 bloggers with less than 200 subscribers.

11 Random Facts about Me:

  1. I’m a Libran, born in October, and I sit on the fence so much I have splinters
  2. I always swore I was a paper-book person and couldn’t see the point of ereaders – until I bought an iPad. *Blushes*
  3. I was born and live in the UK but I spent 12 months travelling, working and living in New Zealand. A little part of my heart is still in Dunedin.
  4. I once learned British Sign Language, as part of a qualification I was trying to get. I love it now when my kids watch Something Special (a UK children’s programme that teaches sign language) although I remember virtually none of the signs myself anymore
  5. I trained as a First Aider and discovered the sight of blood makes me sick
  6. I love stargazer lilies but my husband hates them and they’re not allowed in the house. The lilies in my wedding bouquet had to be unscented
  7. I once took the carburettor off my car and took it home in a bag for my stepdad to fix, before returning and putting it back on the car (it still worked). Now I have a husband for that kind of stuff!
  8. I love plants and want a beautiful garden but I have the opposite of green fingers: plants come to our house to die.
  9. I’m a rubbish cook.
  10. I read Clarissa by Samuel Richardson as part of my English Masters – one of the longest novels in the English Language at nearly 1 million words. Two months of my life I’ll never get back! J
  11. I wrote my English Masters dissertation on Marriage and Divorce in Eighteenth Century Novels – and handed it in the week before I got married!

Answers to Rinelle’s 11 questions:

  1. What pets do you have?

We have one dog, called Kara. She’s a labradoodle, big on curly hair, crazy behaviour and eating cheese.

  1. What’s your favourite food?

Biscuits. Chocolate Chip ones preferably.

  1. Do you prefer sunrise or sunset?

I like both but since having kids I’ll stick with sunsets please. If they sleep past sunrise that’s a good day.

  1. If someone gave you $1000, what shop would you hit first?

Kids’ toy shop. I love buying things for my children. Pre-kids it would have been books or nicknacks for the home.

  1. Who is the most important person/people in your life?

My husband and children, no question.

  1. What is your biggest personal achievement?

It’s a tie between being a Mummy and publishing a book on Amazon. Both things I thought I’d never do, certainly never do well, and yet here I am!

  1. Do you have a goal for this year? If so, what is it?

Yes, I’m doing a daily blog challenge, writing a novel in daily instalments on my blog.

  1. What’s your favourite computer game?

I don’t play games on the computer. I used to play Tetras and I liked platform games like Tomb Raider when I was younger. Now that ‘down time’ urge is taken up with Facebook and Twitter.

  1. What sort of camera do you use?

Whatever’s to hand most of the time – my Nokia phone / the iPad mostly. My pride and joy is my SLR Canon 40D which I just paid £200 to have repaired after my youngest dropped it on the floor. Needless to say I don’t use it that often any more.

  1. What’s your favourite YouTube video?

Charlie Bit Me (inexplicably funny) or Fenton the Dog (also funny, though I do wince because it’s the kind of thing my dog would do)

  1. If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

This is a really tough question because I often think it would be a terrible disappointment to meet our idols (living or dead) and find out they were nothing like we imagined. I think I’d like to meet the current Doctor Who (Matt Smith) as Doctor Who. He could whisk me off in the blue box, although I would make a terrible Companion because I’m a scaredy-cat!

Liebster2In return, I nominate the following blogs:

I am meant to nominate blogs with fewer than 200 followers. That’s tricky because many of the great blogs I follow have followers in the thousands. So I’ve gone for the blogs I think probably do, and for the ones I really love that still have followers in the low hundreds, as this is effectively my Favourite Blogs award! There is no obligation to accept!



3 (I know she nominated me, but this should still be here!)









These are all brilliant blogs, for various reasons and across loads of topics. They’re all worth a visit.

If you do choose to accept, here is what you need to do:

  • Post the award on your blogs
  • Thank the blogger(s) who gave you the award and link back to their site
  • Post 11 random facts about yourself
  • Answer 11 questions that the presenter of the award has asked
  • Nominate 11 new bloggers with fewer than 200 followers that you want to pass the award to
  • Ask your nominees 11 questions

Finally, my 11 questions for the nominees:

  1. What can you see out your window as you respond to this?
  2. What is a perfect Sunday?
  3. What was the last book you read (or movie you watched) that stayed with you after the end?
  4. Twitter or Facebook?
  5. What did you want to be, when you were seven?
  6. What was the last thing that made you laugh until you cried?
  7. Where’s the furthest place you’ve been from home?
  8. What did you eat for breakfast?
  9. Are you a lark or an owl?
  10. What song do you play to cheer you up?
  11. (I’m going to steal this one from Matt Haig’s The Humans Twitter campaign): What advice would you give to a fellow human?

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

There are many Very Inspiring Blogs

There are many Very Inspiring Blogs

I am so happy to be receiving these awards because it allows me to spread the word about all the great blogs that I read every day.

I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award last month by the lovely Anushka over at FindingmyCreature.

At the time I was buried deep in revisions followed closely by Christmas and my daughter’s Jungle Party. Now things have quietened down I finally have time to answer properly.

Thank you Anushka for the nomination, sorry I was so slow to respond.

Below are the rules for the Very Inspiring Blog Award

1. Display the award logo on your blog (see right)
2. Announce your win with a post and include a link to whoever presented your award. (ta-da!)
3. Present 7 awards to deserving bloggers.  Create a post linking to them and drop them a comment to tip them off. (duly done)
4.  Post 7 interesting facts about yourself. (see below)

Seven (Mostly) Interesting Facts

1. The first grown up book I read was Lord of the Rings. I was about 8, I needed a dictionary, and it took me months to finish. To this day (after reading it twice more and watching all the movies) I still don’t have the story straight in my head.

2. I was born in Watford, raised in West Sussex, moved to Northamptonshire when I was eight and I’m still here (although I have lived in Leeds, Manchester and New Zealand in between)

3. I have a first class degree in History from Leeds University but I hated History. I took as many English Literature modules as I could.

4. I was registered to do an MA in Shakespeare so, when I was travelling round NZ, I had the Complete Works of Shakespeare in my rucksack. I read most of it. (I didn’t get to do that course because my father got sick, but I still love Shakespeare.)

5. I finished my English MA the same month I got married. My dissertation was on Marriage and Divorce in Eighteenth Century Literature.

6. I worked as a bar manager when I was a student. It ruined my enjoyment of clubbing because I used to think someone has to clean up this sticky mess at the end of the night.

7. The worst job I ever did was cleaning pig pens. My stepfather was a pig manager and I earned some cash washing down old units with a pressure hose for three weeks. It stank.

The 7 nominees are:

1. The Inner Wildkat: Kitt Crescendo writes insightful and interesting posts such as the one here about fame, friendship and honesty. She also writes some rather racy posts on sex toys and sex advice. I’m not sure if that counts as inspirational but it’s certainly entertaining! 😉

2. A Scenic Route. Kirsten writes beautiful posts on her blog. Even her About me is a dream of poetic prose as she discusses “Creating worlds from infinite possibilities, narrowing them down to the parts that work. Choosing who lives, and who dies. Explaining why. Words wrapping around roads, making mountains, filling the skies with wings and clouds and stars in constellations no human eye has ever seen. Waking dreams, that when written down can be revisited again and again.” Beautiful.

3. 2Me4Art:  I haven’t been following this blog for long but already I’m a huge fan. The photographs are breath-taking. In her About Me Amy she says “We have to make, create, glue, glitter, snap pictures etc., or we will dry up into empty shells.” Amen to that!

4. Ubiquitous. Quotidian. Robert writes thoughtful posts about a range of topics from this one on life to meaningful essays on Disney Princesses. His strapline Have Internet, Will Travel is particularly relevant to me at the moment as I travel around the UK using the website and Google Maps Streetview.

5. Raised by My Daughter: I came across Neal while reading comments on Amber’s Parenting with Crappy Pictures blog and have followed him ever since. Neal shares the highs, lows and hilarious moments of raising his daughter Addison. His blog and his Facebook feed reassure me that I’m not alone.

5a. Parenting with Crappy Pictures: I wasn’t going to include this one because I reached my quota of 7. But hey I’m all for bending the rules. Amber’s blog has kept me laughing and sane for a long time and it deserves a mention. This post particularly is brilliant. I love her kids.

6. Apprentice, Never Master. Gwendolyn recently nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award and it gives me great pleasure to nominate her for the Very Inspirational Blogger award. Her writing is AMAZING and I am drawn in every time a post appears in my inbox.

7. Sharing the Wealth: This is my sister Michelle’s blog where she covers everything from making money on the web to Why Hating Mondays is Insane. Her range of topics is huge and she has a very balanced view of the world.

Thank you everyone for being wonderfully inspiring!

The Versatile Blogger Award

versatileblogger111The Versatile Blogger Award

The lovely Gwendolyn over at Apprentice, Never Master has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award (thank you!)

I confess that I have received award nominations before and haven’t done anything with them because I didn’t feel I knew enough people to forward the award on. Now, however, I follow lots of lovely people and am happy to pass this award forwards (although I can’t manage fifteen. See below).

Versatile Blogger Award Rules

1. Display the award certificate on your blog. (Look right.)

2. Announce your win and link back to the blogger who gave it to you. (Done and done.)

3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers. (I can’t do justice to fifteen different blogs so I’m presenting seven lovely blogs with just over 2 awards each. Thanks Gwendolyn I borrowed the idea from you!)

4. Drop them a comment to tip them off that you’ve linked to them.

5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself. (Hmmm, define interesting. I’ve put seven facts anyway.)

The Nominees:

1. Finding my Creature – even though Anushka has a full time job and is getting married this year she still finds time to write a phenomenal amount of stuff. Definitely versatile.

2.  Sally Jenkins – published short-story writer and informer of many useful competitions. Thanks Sally!

3.  BlogAboutWriting – Helen Yendall is a published short story writer, poet, would-be novelist (in her words) and creative writing tutor. She was Warwick Poet Laureate from 2006-7. If that’ isn’t versatile I don’t know what is!

4. Vampires, Ladies & Potpourri. Keri Peardon is a legal secretary, a writer of vampire novels, a medieval re-enactivist (is that a word?) and a lover of handicraft. Busy, inspiring, knowledgeable, versatile lady.

5. The dog ate my novel: Kellie Larsen Murphy’s blog is entertaining and informative. Kellie has recently self-published A Guilty Mind and her work rate in releasing and promoting the book is awesome.

6. Kittyb78: Kitty is a Writer/Mother/Wife/Black Dragon Kung Fu Instructor that adores cats and tigers. Author of YA Paranormal Romance book Dangerous Temptation. Very versatile.

7. Annie Cardi: Annie is a YA writer with an awesome blog. She posts Friday Fifteen (book reviews in fifteen words or less), Links Galore (full of fascinating facts), links to really cool products and some interesting and inspiring posts. Your one-stop-shop for all things YA.

Although I have dedicated more time recently to getting to know new blogs I still don’t have a massive list in my reader. I prefer to read most or all of the posts from a few blogs than dip a toe in many. As a result I don’t feel I know fifteen blogs enough to nominate them.

Seven Interesting Things About Me:

1. I played the violin as a child even though I’m more or less tone deaf. The children ask me not to sing along to the radio.

2. I paint and sell abstracts in bright colours but I was afraid of using colour in art at school.

3. My most random skill is being able to neatly fold a double-fitted-sheet: learned while working in a Youth Hostel in Dunedin, New Zealand.

4. I like to climb mountains by myself, but I failed the Three Peaks Challenge due to dodgy knees.

5. I read Clarissa from cover to cover (one of the longest novels in the English Language at nearly a million words. It’s an Eighteenth Century Epistolary novel featuring Rape as its core story and I read it the year I got married. It didn’t do much for pre-marriage romance!)

6. I bought my husband for £16.95 on the Internet

7.  I wore a large red silk dress at my wedding

To all of the bloggers mentioned in this post. Please take this award as what it is: an award. Follow the rules (or don’t) as per your own personal philosophies.