Tag Archives: Liebster Award

It’s Aliiiiive!

Yes. Hello. I am, in case you may have been wondering, still here and still beavering away; beavering so assiduously, in fact, at so many different things, that I don’t often get time to venture into WordPress-topia, even just to see the sights. My main preoccupation, of course, is currently tootling around on the floor at my feet, chewing on something and leaving a trail of drool which is, frankly, a health hazard – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The baby is now almost one year old (the thought is frightening. Where has the last year gone?) and I’m about to get stuck into the copy-edits for The Eye of the North, which is exciting.

Oh, and by the by, I’ve seen a draft of the cover art for the aforementioned novel. It’s glorious. I can’t wait to share it with you all.

But really I’m here today to do two things: mark the fact that it’s been four years since I started blogging – four years! – and also to jump on the coattails of my very good friend and extremely talented blogger, who goes by the name Fairweather Paddler around these parts, by answering some questions which she posed on her blog (Home Grown Heaven) as part of her recent nomination for a Liebster award.

Not, of course, that she tagged me in said Liebster award post. But why should that stop me answering her fantastic questions?

Alors. Off we go.

What drives you up the wall in people?

I hate it when people refuse to see other points of view. It’s like people are so terrified of being wrong that they can’t bear to accept the idea that other people might know better than they do about certain things. This, in my humblest opinion, is silly.

What is it that draws you to new people the most?

Meep. Well, a few things combined, probably. If they’re making interesting conversation, showing curiosity, open-mindedness and an eagerness to learn more about the world, on top of a sense of humour and an aura of kindness, then I’m suckered.

What was the biggest shock about becoming a parent?

The all-consuming terror. The terror, before your baby arrives, that something will go wrong, and the terror after they arrive that something will happen to them. I really hadn’t expected that. I’m still not used to parcelling it away, leaving it on a high shelf so that I can get on with enjoying my child’s presence, in the moment.

What one thing would you recommend to new parents?

To keep their baby close, particularly when they’re small. Not to listen to advice which says ‘put your baby in a crib/Moses basket/cot, so you can get your life back/have a cup of tea/watch the TV’ – maybe this attitude isn’t prevalent elsewhere, but when my baby was tiny it was something I encountered a lot. My instinct was to keep my baby close, in contact with me, right over my heart, and I think instinct is there for a reason. Keep your little ones close while you can, is my advice.

What’s your go-to store-cupboard-is-empty meal?

Erm. Sandwiches? I don’t know. I normally have pasta in stock at all times, and I’m always swimming in green olives (I have an addiction, don’t judge me), and I normally have either passata, or chopped tomatoes, or tomato puree, or tomato pesto – sometimes all four! – somewhere in my kitchen. So, that makes a tasty, if not very hearty, meal.

Why blog?

Why not?

To make friends. To connect with people. To feel like I’m making a contribution to the world’s store of knowledge. And to pass the time.

Best place you have travelled to and why?

Malta, which was where I honeymooned. Not necessarily because of the honeymoon aspect, but because it was spectacular, in terms of scenery and culture and language and history and just about everything. I would dearly love to return someday.

Any hidden talents?

If I had, I wouldn’t be telling you about them.

What talent do you wish you had?

Coordination. It would be nice to be able to move with grace and fluidity, instead of like an arthritic hippo. My body is a wonderland and has done many things, and it’s strong and capable and sturdy, but by God. It’d be nice to feel like I was a Cadillac instead of a Humvee, just once.

Where do you find your village?

I have excellent friends. Some of them I see a lot; others only rarely. Some of them I talk to all the time, and others I ‘speak’ to only online. But they are my people, and I couldn’t be without them.

What are you most proud of in life?

The fact that I came through the darkest months of my life after the baby was born and that I’m now out the other side, more or less, and learning every day how to be a better mother. I’m proud that I didn’t crumble when it felt like the whole world had collapsed upon me.

Oh, and I’m proud that I wrote a book, too, and that it’s being published. Have I mentioned that already?

So, there you are. Apologies once again for the irregularity of my updates. I hope this missive finds you all well, and I hope to be back soon with more news of frightfully amazing cover art… To that end, did you know you can now follow me on Instagram, too? Check me out there, where I’ll hopefully be unveiling some teasers for the book jacket as soon as I can. And, until next time, stay awesome – and keep reading.






Showered with Liebster-ness


I was all set to yak on about independence referenda (go Scotland! ahem) and/or newly-diagnosed dairy intolerances and how dang hard they make everything and how I’m now basically vegan against my will, but luckily (for y’all) none of that is now necessary.

The reason?

Well. I’ve been and gone and got myself Liebstered again, haven’t I.

Photo Credit: foxypar4 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: foxypar4 via Compfight cc

This morning I awoke to find that the fabulous izaezel of the teen vernacular had nominated me for my second Liebster award this year. She said, and I quote: ‘Your blog [meaning my blog, just so we’re clear] is amazing!’, which basically meant my day began with a bang – which is always the best way to begin a day, of course. You can zoom on over to her blog to find out her answers to questions such as ‘If money was no object, what would you do all day?’ and ‘If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?’ – incidentally, pretty much exactly the same answers I’d have given.

There’s clearly a reason why we follow one another’s blogs, right?


In bold, below, are the questions izaezel asked of her Liebster nominees, and which I’ve done my best to answer in suitable style. Onward!

If you were given the choice, which fictional world would you live in?

Argh. This was a really hard question, because there are so many. The Shire, obviously, has to be up there, along with Narnia and Earthsea and Westeros (well, bits of it at least. I reckon, if I could pass as a man and/or break down gender inequality by forcing them to accept me, femininity and all, I’d take the black and join the Night’s Watch. I’m not sure why, but it appeals to me somehow). I also really really want to live in the world of Star Trek, just because it seems so civilized and balanced and perfect – and I so want to be in Starfleet, despite not having any marketable skills in any field that would make me useful. I also have a major crush on the world of Eretz, but I’m not sure I’m graceful enough for it.

So. After all that, I reckon I’ll plump for the world of Sylver, as described in Tone Almhjell’s The Twistrose Key. Snow, and furry creatures, and hot chocolate, and cosy fires, and waterfalls, and stuff? Oui, merci. One of the things I loved about this world was how it was described as a snowy landscape, but not because it was under a terrible spell or anything like that – it just was what it was, which was beautiful. So, yep. Sylver. I hope my long-lost puppies, Pepper and Jake, will be there waiting for me. (Read the book to find out why, or you can check out my review of the book here).

What was the last book you read?

The last book I read was The Dangerous Discoveries of Gully Potchard, by Julia Lee. Before that it was A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (yes, I’m late to the party). Before that, it was White Feathers by Susan Lanigan. And I’m currently reading Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.


How many sugars do you take in your tea/coffee/hot chocolate?

None! I’m a sugar-free zone. I can’t drink hot chocolate any more (due to being dairy intolerant, le sob, which I may have mentioned already). I’m pretty sure there’s a soy equivalent – there’s a soy equivalent for everything – but I’m equally sure it will taste vile. So. I shall just do without.

Do you have any weird talents?

I used to be able to wiggle my ears, so much so that my glasses would shift up and down on my nose, much to the amusement of my classmates at school. However, it’s been a long time since I was at school. I haven’t tested this talent in many years, so I may well have lost it. I can also drop my voice into a really deep, creepy-sounding pitch which my husband says reminds him of a demon; I like to do it when he least expects it. Keeps things interesting, y’know?

What would be your last meal?

My last meal would probably have to be the biggest, cheesiest (vegetarian, naturally) lasagne in the world. I could quite happily burp my way into eternity if I had the chance to tuck into one of those bad boys, just one last time…


Honestly. I’m fine with being dairy intolerant. Really.

Would you rather have chocolate eclairs for fingers or brownies for toes? (They regenerate)

My favourite part about this question is the stipulation that they regenerate…

Anyway. I hate chocolate eclairs, and so I’ll go for brownie-toes. It means that when I’m invited to parties I don’t need to bake anything – I’ll just swing my feet up on the table and let people nibble away. Sweet!

If you could go back in time and talk to anyone, who would it be and why?

Excellent question.

There are so many people I’d love to talk to. Marie de France is definitely one, as is Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe and Geoffrey Chaucer (you’re seeing a pattern here, yeah?), as well as Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare and Charles Stewart Parnell (just to assure him he’d be remembered with fondness by his country, one day). I’d love to meet Lord Byron and Emily Dickinson and Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley and Ada Lovelace and Madame Curie (preferably before all the radiation-stuff) and Flannery O’Connor.

But the one ‘person’ I’d really love to talk to isn’t really a person – she’s a character in a poem. Her name is Wealtheow, and she’s the wife of king Hrothgar in the English epic Beowulf. Her name – despite the fact that she’s the queen – means ‘foreign servant’, and her main role in the poem is pouring drink in her husband’s hall, acting as a ‘peace-weaver’ between tribes, and making a speech which is entirely ignored by the men. Being a ‘peace-weaver’ (a woman of one tribe married to a man of another in an attempt to end a feud between them) was an important role, in some ways, but I’d love to know what Wealtheow thought of her life and her role in her world. She might be fictional, but she represented real women. I’d love to talk to one of them, because their perspective on history and their world has been totally ignored.

What is your favourite song right now?

Gah. Right now? The first to come to mind – which means it’s high up on my favourites list – is Just One of the Guys by Jenny Lewis. It makes me really sad, but it’s a great tune.

What are your surroundings as you’re reading this?

Mess. I’m at my desk in my office, and there are books everywhere. Outside the window is my garden, and then a row of trees, and the supermarket across the road.

If you had to live in a different country, where would you go and why?

There are so many places I’d love to live. New Zealand is one. Tasmania’s another. I’d love to live in Paris, but I will never be able to afford it. But, in truth, my heart lies in the north. I’d love to live in any of the Scandinavian countries – my preference is Norway, for reasons even I can’t explain to myself – or Iceland. I’d also love to visit Greenland one day. I’m not sure I could live there, but I’d love to see it.

It’s weird. I’ve just realised I’d love to live in the one part of the world where a vegan diet would render me dead within days. I’m a complicated little person.

What was the highlight of your day today?

Well, it’s only 08:06 a.m. where I am, so I haven’t had a lot of ‘day’ to have a highlight in, yet. Waking up alive is about as much as I can be thankful for, so far. In the last twenty-four hours, though, my husband came home after having been away for several days, so that was a pretty big highlight. Can we use that? Okay, good.

Here endeth my answers to the questions, and I hope they’ve been satisfactory.

Because I’ve already been Liebstered, and I nominated people for it then, (and I also don’t like nominating people for stuff, because pressure), I’m a bit loath to point to people in particular to take up the Liebster baton. So, instead, can I nominate anyone who wants to take it up? Link back to me if you feel like taking part. Kate? Claire? Susan? Maurice? Emily? Any interest? No pressure!

My questions:

Photo Credit: jamuraa via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: jamuraa via Compfight cc

If you could be any ANIMAL from a piece of fiction (i.e. book, play, TV show, movie), which would you be and why?

What is your favourite letter of the alphabet, and why? (Bonus points for not sticking to boring old English for this one!)

If you had to pick one book to define your life, what would it be?

What sound do you hate the most?

What is your favourite place in your house, and why?

What’s the one thing you’d do to bring about happiness on earth?

If you had a choice between going to the bottom of the ocean or into outer space, which would you choose and why? (You have to pick one. No cheatsies).

Name a movie you love that you think isn’t appreciated enough by the world in general, and explain why you love it.

If there was a way to find out the day you were going to die, would you do it? Why?

If I said the word ‘kjevtiske’* to you, what would you think it meant and why?


*To the best of my knowledge, this is a word I’ve just made up. I’m interested to see what the sound of it brings to mind for other people, though.



New Year, New Liebster Award!

Well, what better start to a New Year could a gal ask for? My pal, and fellow blogger Kate over at Will Wally Wonder has nominated me for a Liebster Award, which basically involves me answering a load of questions about myself and – hopefully – trying to spread the love a little by nominating other people, all of whom are the custodians of blogs I enjoy reading, for the same award. Nobody is under any obligation to take part, of course. It’s all in good fun.

But let’s hope we kickstart the New Year in style, all the same.

Image: willwallywonder.wordpress.com

Image: willwallywonder.wordpress.com

In bold (below) are the questions Kate put to her Liebster nominees, and which I’ve done my best to respond to.

Name a television program that makes you laugh. Who is your favourite comedian?

Funnily enough, I don’t actually follow a lot of TV comedy any more. The only TV programme I can think of which I hate to miss because I enjoy it so much is ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ It’s one of the shows my husband and I can watch together – understanding the jokes makes me feel clever, and it’s great for me to have him around to explain the more complicated bits. I can’t choose a favourite comedian, either – I really enjoy Bill Bailey and Eddie Izzard in equal measure, so they’ll have to fight it out for the title. Or, just merge into one, and create a new super-comedian…

Tell me about the worst film you have ever seen.

‘The Ninth Gate.’ Has to be. It’s been years since I saw it, and I’ve done my best to wipe my mind of it since, but from what I remember there’s Johnny Depp (usually watchable, yes? Well, not in this festering mess, believe me) who plays a rare book dealer. Like all rare book dealers in film, he’s on the hunt for a book written in the seventeenth century and apparently a copy of a work written by the Devil himself, which gives the reader powers of immortality and super-strength. This reasonable plotline turns into a convoluted and largely senseless chase around Europe with people trying to murder and/or seduce each other as they search for this tome, which culminates in a scene beside a burning castle which I almost felt I hallucinated, it was so bad.

I love mysteries. I love rare books. I love stuff that has to do with codes and the supernatural. Heck, I even love Johnny Depp. But this film is utterly ridiculous, and a total waste of time. In my humble opinion.

What animal do you feel most connected to?

Well. As a melancholy teenager I felt very drawn to dolphins and whales, perhaps due to the mournful calls that whales make ‘neath the waves, or perhaps just because I was passionate about conservation. My room was plastered with posters of them in their natural habitat, and I entertained notions of becoming a marine biologist when I grew up – this was before I realised how utterly useless I was at things like maths, science and standing upright on a boat. With the years I have developed a love for elephants, and I have a small collection of elephant figurines which I prize highly. I wish I lived in a world where they weren’t being held in captivity and/or being hunted for their ivory, though.

Image: animals.nationalgeographic.com

Image: animals.nationalgeographic.com

What would be your superpower of choice?

Knowing the right thing to say at every given moment – the right thing to say to help someone when they’re hurting, or when they’re struggling, or when they’re in a wild rage and likely to hurt themselves or someone else, or when a painful truth needs to be shared with a delicate person, or when a misunderstanding with potentially dreadful consequences is looming and needs to be put right before it can do harm. It doesn’t sound like a hugely important superpower, but I think it would be amazing to be able to use words like this, to stave off pain before it even begins.

Of course, like all superpowers it’s wide open to misuse, but I’m pretty sure I could trust myself to use it right and bring calmness and peace wherever I went. If only it were possible.

Name a little moment in time that brings you joy (for example, I love it when the best before date on perishables matches my birthday).

I love it when the numbers on car registration plates add up to one another (like ‘235’) or when two numbers can be multiplied to give another number (like ‘6318’) or divided to give a similar result (like ‘2464’). I used to get massive joy on long car journeys as a kid, doing this sort of simple maths to amuse myself. The more ways I could get the numbers to interact, the better.

My husband tells me this is actually ‘number theory’, and that it belongs to several branches of advanced mathematics, but I just think of it as my registration plate game. It still gives me a jolt of happiness when a car drives past with a satisfyingly balanced and interesting registration plate. Yes, I am a nerd.

What is the oddest object you own?


I don’t really own a lot of odd stuff. I collect books, and I have a mountain of CDs (which I’ve been collecting for over 20 years, in my defence) – in the modern world we live in, books and CDs are quite odd in themselves, but I don’t think that’s what the question means.

Besides that, I suppose you could say that a grown woman with a teddy bear collection is a bit odd. Is it? I have lots of them, and I love every one.

Name a celebrity you’d like to meet for a coffee (or beverage of your choice) because you believe you would get along well.

I think this would have to be the actress Claire Danes. We are almost the same age (give or take a few months) and I have been following her career since the mid-90s, when she played Angela Chase in my favourite TV show, ‘My So-Called Life.’ She’s currently playing Carrie Mathison in ‘Homeland,’ another show I love (mainly because she’s in it). I have always convinced myself we’d get along well, but she’s a multi award-winning artist with several homes across the globe and a background in modern dance, and I’m a person who can’t even stand up without falling over and who once dyed her hair the same colour as a character Claire Danes played on TV, so I’m probably kidding myself.

My bestie! In my dreams. Image: huffingtonpost.com

My bestie! In my dreams.
Image: huffingtonpost.com

Tell me about a moment in your life that has made you unexpectedly emotional.

The most significant recent bout of waterworks, for me, came on Christmas Day during Mass when the congregation started to sing ‘Away in a Manger.’ By the last verse I was a blubbering heap. I have no idea why I became emotional, what triggered it, or why that particular hymn set me off. I am a person who cries easily anyway, so I get attacked by unexpected bouts of emotion at least once a week, but this is the one that springs to mind.

Right! So, I hope those answers passed muster.

Here are the folks I’d like to nominate for the Liebster award – not that they are under any obligation to take part. Mainly, I’d just like to let them know I enjoy their blogs.

Zissa over at Sanity? Optional. Writing? Required, a blog which amazes me with its wit and intelligence and the wonderful things it has to say about writing.

Loonytuney over at The Loony Teen Writer, another blog which amazes me with its wit and intelligence, and the wonderful things it has to say about writing, and the energy and passion its author brings to her subject matter.

Claire over at Written in Haste, a blog which amazes me because it’s always interesting, always fun, always clever – and written by a lady with a tiny son, as well as a demanding job and lots of other calls on her time. Also, she happens to be awesome in real life.

And now I have to supply some questions…

What is your favourite smell, and why?

What object in the world would you most like to own?

If you were a number, which number would you be – and why?

What is your biggest regret (if it’s something you can share)?

What are you most afraid of?

What is your favourite piece of visual art (i.e. not music, literature, theatre), and why?

Tell me about the best dream you ever had.

If you could be anyone, from any historical period, who would you be – and why?