1. How do you get your ideas for blog posts?
Generally from what’s going on in my life. Places I’ve been, conversations I’ve had, news I’ve heard and so on. Taking part in these memes helps to get regular posts going too. Many of my posts have been about the research I’ve done for my books.
2. What’s the one piece of advice you would give to new bloggers just starting out?
Blog as often as you can. Blogging, like all writing, is a skill and you only get better with practice. Blogging often also gets you into good habits and will help you to become part of the blogging community.
3. How would your closest friends describe you?
I dread to think! I hope they would say I was passionate, caring, intelligent and funny. They might also say I was sensitive, a bit of a drama queen at times and extremely opinionated!
4. What’s the best place you’ve ever visited and why?
Meerufenfushi, aka Meeru, an island in the Maldives. It’s paradise on earth. I’m so lucky to have been able to spend a week there 11 years ago. I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic for the place lately and would love to be able to go back.
5. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Accepting myself. I haven’t overcome this challenge yet, but I am trying. It took me a long time to accept my vocation. I always wanted to be a writer but that booming voice of society told me “you’ll never earn a living at it” and I let that voice divert me. But I was so unhappy in everything else I tried to do. Now that I’ve embraced my path I’m so much happier. I need to do that with all sorts of things in my life, accept myself for who I am and stop worrying that I’m not good enough. I need to change the voice in my head from one of constant self-criticism, to one of love and nurturing. It’s not easy to do, but I have a mantra now “Forgive yourself and move on”. I’m trying to live by that.
I am really grateful to have been nominated to participate in One Lovely Blog by the ever-insightful Willow at http://winsham.blogspot.co.uk/
The rules are as follows. Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you, share 7 facts about yourself, and nominate up to 15 blogs that you particularly like, or fewer if you can’t think of 15. If I’ve nominated your blog, please don’t feel obliged to take part if you don’t want to, but if you do, thank you!
Okay, so 7 fun facts about me so that my readers can get to know me a little better.
1. I spend time contemplating how I would survive the zombie apocalypse. Yep, I’m one of those nerds. I have my secure location picked out, should my home fall. It’s a nearby store with no windows, a single set of automatic doors out front and an outdoor area surrounded by a very high fence. Provided it doesn’t get damaged during the looting phase, it will make a great base for quite a few people, we could even grow food in the outdoor space. I have a bat’leth to use as a weapon, it has sharp points for piercing zombie skulls and blades for decapitation. It’s the perfect weapon 😉 I just need a stockpile of tinned goods and I’m ready.
2. I used to love rollercoasters and thrill rides, but no longer enjoy the more extreme ones that much. I don’t know if it’s old age (ha!) or becoming a mother, but the fear overwhelms the thrill for me these days. I still enjoy rollercoasters that I know and love, like Nemesis at Alton Towers, but am reluctant to try newer, more intense ones. I sat out The Hulk at Universal Islands of Adventure two years ago and watching it, frankly, made me feel ill.
3. I’m an introverted Highly Sensitive Person. This makes it difficult for me to make friends and get close to people. It also means I have quite a volatile temper at times, when I react strongly to things that upset me. I’ve learned how to protect and nurture myself over the years and do try hard to step away from situations that are causing me stress, so I have a lengthy “blocked” list on Facebook 😉
4. Due to number 3 above, I am also a terrible salesperson! So perhaps entering the world of self-publishing was not the most obvious choice. I can natter on social media, but am terrible at approaching strangers to pitch my work, so this route actually made more sense than trying to sell myself to an agent or publisher. Before becoming a mother and then a writer, I had a string of awful jobs in service and sales. It took me a while, including several months as a charity fundraiser, to accept that it really wasn’t my “thing”. Never again!
5. I’m a passionate advocate of rights in childbirth. After a traumatic first birth, during which I was bullied and my consent violated, I became a campaigner for better maternity services. It was a heck of a journey, I learned a lot about different aspects of birth and found myself volunteering on a helpdesk and facilitating support groups. I still keep a finger in that world, but my focus has shifted onto my own career after a healing second birth.
6. I pick up song lyrics ridiculously easily! I generally only need to hear a song a few times to have most of the lyrics memorised and once they’re in there I tend to remember them indefinitely. So far. Except under stress. Don’t put me on the spot and ask me to sing for other people, not on my own. I love being in a choir, but solo singing gives me terrible stage fright.
7. This is a terrible admission for a writer, but I’m not actually a big reader! I did used to be, when I was a child and teenager I would devour books constantly and had a large library of beloved books. But I have so little free time now, with two small, home educated kids and a series of books to write, that I tend to choose to zone out in front of the TV during my downtime, rather than tax my brain with a book. But if I get into a book I will grab every instant to read until I finish. I recently read the Hunger Games trilogy (I know, late to the party, see above!) back to back in just over a week, which is fast for me. Next is the rather ambitious project of completing the BBC Big Read 100 most popular books list. I’ve only read about 20 of the titles on the list at some point in my life, so it’s a big project!
So that’s it for me. Now I am supposed to nominate some fellow bloggers…..
Kristen Lamb at We Are Not Alone: http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ I always read Kristen’s blogs with interest and am a fan of her book, Rise of the Machines – Human Authors in a Digital World.
Sarah Watkins at And Then I Read a Book: http://andthenireadabook.blogspot.co.uk/ Sarah’s reviews are always thoughtful and insightful.
Marcey Kennedy, writer and editor whose writing tips I always eagerly lap up! http://marcykennedy.com/
Sarah at Pyjama School: http://pyjamaschool.co.uk/ lovely home education blog, packed with ideas and inspiration.
I am currently drafting the third book of Echoes of the Past, entitled Tides of Spring. About two weeks ago I wrote a pivotal moment in the series, a game changer and key bit of character development for one of my protagonists. It was very emotional to write and I very much hope that my readers feel moved by it too. After writing this, and other previous “big” moments in the series, I was emotionally and mentally exhausted and have hardly been able to write a word since.
Today I realised that I tend to work in tides, high and low. I’ll be extremely prolific for a couple of weeks, churning out 20,000 words or more but then I need a rest, sometimes just a few days but after a significant emotional expenditure like this one I sometimes need a few weeks.
The second element of this realisation was that I noticed it was a new moon yesterday, and a solar eclipse early this morning (I missed seeing it but woke to a notification about it on my phone). This means that I wrote the epic chapter around the full moon. It got me thinking and looking back at these tides and I do believe they are connected to the phases of the moon, which is somewhat fitting as my series is so intimately connected with our silver satellite and the goddesses associates with it. During the waxing moon, as it moves from new to full, I am motivated and prolific. During a waning moon, as it moves from full to new again, I sometimes have a lull in output. This isn’t strictly true all of the time, if I am on a roll then a prolific period can last several weeks or a month or more. The waning moon seems to slow me down only when I reach a super dramatic moment in the series and need that emotional breather afterwards.
People have long connected behaviour with the moon, usually the full moon, which is credited with inducing erratic and even crazed behaviour in people, hence the terms “lunacy” and “lunatic”. Many also believe the moon influences birth, though I can’t say this has been my experience. I wonder what more subtle influences it may have? Does it effect our motivation? Energy levels? Moods? Do those who follow a fitness regime struggle to meet their goals at certain times of the month? Then there are other celestial events, such as eclipses, solstices and equinoxes, and of course a blue moon*. I know that for a week or so around each equinox I feel very unsettled and emotional.
*A blue moon is the third full moon in a season that has four full moons. Seasons normally only have three full moons.
I would love to hear from you. Have you ever noticed any of these influences in your life?
This is a slightly random post from me, some thoughts about writing opinions vs fact.
When we feel passionate about something, it can sometimes be difficult to tell fact from opinion. I remember an English class from when I was about fifteen. Our teacher gave us a list of statements and we had to sort out the facts from opinions. One of the statements was “Foxhunting is barbaric.” Now, much as I may agree with the sentiment, I knew then that this was an opinion dressed as fact. One of my classmates, however, was adamant that this statement was pure fact, with no emotional bias. She refused to be swayed and a rather awkward stalemate occurred between her and the teacher. I don’t remember what happened next, I guess he changed the subject and the discussion moved on.
I often remember this event when I am writing. I write fiction now, but I have written scientific and opinion articles in the past and both require different approaches. In an opinion piece, a writer needs to be aware that what they are writing is their opinion and be careful to ensure that this is clear. I too often see articles in leading publications that are not entirely clear on this. So-called journalists write what is clearly set up as an opinion piece, however, they report their opinion or experiences as if these are universal and very often make statements that fly in the face of scientific evidence.
Even more disturbing, is when I see “experts” state matters of opinion as if they are facts. A recent example of this was the rather controversial case of Dr Christian Jessen, who commented within an article for Closer Magazine and reiterated in a statement on their website that “If a child is being breast fed until eight, this may make them overly dependent on their mother.” I have no wish to get into a debate on this subject on this blog, that’s a subject for my parenting blog 😉 however, I did want to highlight that this is a perfect example of his opinion being touted as if it were scientific fact. The actual fact is that research demonstrates that the opposite is actually true and that “attachment parenting”, which includes full term breastfeeding, actually fosters greater independence in children than “conventional” parenting does (Mercer, 2005).
When a qualified health professional expresses their opinion it has the potential to influence a great many people who will trust their judgement. Anyone writing for the public must be sure that they are aware of this and ensure that their opinions are stated clearly as just that and that any facts they may wish to convey are accurate. This is the wolf in sheep’s clothing, as per the title of this post, opinion disguised as fact can be dangerous.
This goes for informal discussions too. It is all too easy for unnecessary conflict to arise when someone expresses their opinion as if it is a fact. But as I stated at the start, when we feel passionate it can be difficult to see that our opinion is not fact. It can take quite a lot of strength to see and admit that something we hold to be absolutely true, may actually be up for debate. I may be as guilty of this as others on some occasions 😉
Happy writing, peeps.
Mercer, J., (2005), Understanding Attachment: Parenting, Child Care, and Emotional Development, Greenwood Press.