Blog Awards! The techno-idiot gets two nominations!

Sunshine

Every time I think my IT skills are improving, something happens that reminds me of just what a techno-idiot I am.

I was very VERY kindly nominated by the lovely Kay Kauffman for the Sunshine Blogger Award. What a wonderfully kind and lovely thing to do! I was thrilled that Kay had been nominated and had then nominated me.

BUT, it was only today after being nominated for another blog award, Very Inspiring Blogger Award, by the equally lovely and kind Lindsey Parsons, that the penny finally dropped.

D’uh! You are supposed to answers questions and nominate fellow bloggers!

Firstly, a HUGE thank you to Kay Kauffman. I’m utterly thrilled and rather humbled! 😀 xx

Here is Kay’s blog http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/ – a wonderful mixture of poetry, short stories and musings on life. Highly recommended!

So, here are the rules for all those that get nominated:

Rules

  • Link the award to the person who gave it to me.
  • Answer questions about myself – see below.
  • Nominate ten bloggers for the award.
  • Link my nominees to the post and comment on their blog, letting them know about the award.

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1.What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Although I am a complete film nut, I’m one of those people that loves obscure films and remembers things like directors, release dates, every actors’ name…ummm I’m really sounding like a nut here, but I’m not big on Christmas films. I guess I don’t like anything ‘designed’ to illicit a certain response, which holiday films invariably do. It’s the freak in me that likes to push my own buttons rather than have someone else contrive to do it. So, my choices are remarkably narrow. I’d probably go for either Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, or something wonderfully daft like Trading Places and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (yes, I know it’s not a Christmas movie, but it’s SUCH fun!). 😀

2.What is your favorite flower?
I love white flowers, the purity and simplicity of them. Daisies, lilies, tulips, anemones…but my favourite are poppies. Poppies are such delicate papery flowers yet they have such a vivacity about them. They herald the coming of summer and warm hazy lazy days. I love red poppies, but white and Himalayan blue poppies are my very favourite!

3.What is your favorite non-alcoholic beverage?

I drink lots of milk. My favourite drink is a toss up between Shloer, Elderflower cordial or my own kick-ass homemade lemonade. The secret is a squeeze of lime! 😉 Do love a good hot chocolate though.

4.What is your passion?
Writing, writing, writing. Other than that, my problem is that I have too many passions really. I love drawing, painting, sculpture and photography – creating something special from a blank canvas, lump of clay or camera lens. For me, being creative is as important as eating and breathing…two things I’m rather fond of! 😉

5.What is your favorite time of year?
Definitely summer…the promise of warmth. I love all the seasons, though Autumn has always meant ‘spider season’ and ‘school’ and another birthday coming round. Spring is a wondrously rejuvenating time of year but so often drenched in rain. I love the quiet peace and stillness of winter, but nothing compares to those precious few days of the year where you can lie on the grass under cerulean skies and feel the sun on your face! Bliss! Summer means adventure and possibilities…

6.What is your favorite time of day?

That’s easy to answer – night owl here! Daytime is for work, job, stresses of life. I love the night, when everyone is asleep and the world is quiet. Those magical few hours of stillness, with nothing but the soft night breeze and a halo of stars drifting above you…that’s when the magic truly happens!

7.What is your favorite physical activity?

Lol! Ummm…I could have been naughty there! I love walking especially in wild places. The wilder the better. The countryside, especially the remoter parts of it, hold such a mystery to me. There is nothing better than climbing a hill or mountain or tor and viewing nature at its best. Very humbling and deeply profound.

8.What is your favorite vacation?

I love Italy. The culture, the history, the people, the food, everything about it. I’ve been about four times now and it is such a special place. I love Rome but Tuscany, Umbria and Florence is my favourite. The art galleries alone are intoxicating. But, more than anywhere I’ve ever travelled to, New Zealand will still always be my favourite. If it is possible to have a ‘soul connection’ to a place, then New Zealand is it. Astounding, breathtaking, awe-inspiring, humbling, unforgettable. Back in the winter (their summer) of 1997/98 I spent four months travelling around the North and South Island having adventures and awakening my senses. A real odyssey and life-changing experience. They filmed Lord Of The Rings there for a reason, the place is simply magical! Ahhhh… 😀

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Right, very difficult to choose just ten, but here are my nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award  (in no order) :

1. Morgen Bailey http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/

2. Lindsey J Parsons http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/

3. Ryan Holmes (Griffin’s Quill) http://griffinsquill.com/

4. Ashen Venema (Course of Mirrors) http://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/

5. Will MacMillan Jones http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com/

6. Mandy Ward (Welcome to Wherever) http://welcometowherever.wordpress.com/

7. Fantasy In Motion http://fantasyinmotion.wordpress.com/

8. Andy Szpuk http://andyszpuk.wordpress.com/

9.That Fantasy Blog http://thatfantasyblog.com/

10. Fabulous Realms http://ashsilverlock.com/

I would like to mention the wonderful blogs of Katrina Jack http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/ , Tricia Drammeh http://theclaimingwords.com/, A.F.E. Smith http://afesmith.com/ and Emily McKeon http://www.theabsenteeblogger.blogspot.com/ but I’m trying not to mention those which Kay already nominated. 😀 xx

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The joy of writing and building worlds…

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The joy of writing is the act of creation.

A whole fantasy world made manifest – turning blank pages into battles of character, plot and the subtleties of prose.

But for me, the joy of writing is not merely the act of creating a story which engages and enthralls its readers but in creating a world I can immerse myself in. World building is a skill and one of the many challenges that fantasy and sci-fi writers face when weaving their tales. When done correctly, it compliments the story giving depth and gravitas to ground the fantasy. When done poorly, it smothers the story – turning it into an incidental neighbour you forgot to invite to the party, or worst still, jars with the story due to its utter lack of realism.file3121313815879[1]

The temptation for all writers who world build, is simply that it becomes SO enjoyable to construct your worlds, that you can get easily seduced by your own cleverness – by the intricacies of cultures, the development of language, the botany and animal life, geology, geography and rich histories of your creations. Now that’s fine, if you intend being the only reader of your novel. But, if you’re looking for a readership of more than one, you have to curtail your inner nerd…just a little!

I speak from experience here. Being a teacher of phonetics among other things, I love linguistics and the construction of language. As a result, between my love of phonics and etymology, I have constructed a working language for my characters – ancient Dworllish complete with a basic 24 character Dworllian alphabet based on Maori, Old English, Old Norse and African Bantu dialects! Yes…I did mention nerd, didn’t I?

So, did I include this language and all its nuisances in my book? No. Elements, occasional references and words, but that’s all. I want my novel to have as wide an appeal as possible and readers, even language loving nerds like me, simply don’t need all that information and certainly the story doesn’t.file0001006582285[1]

Okay, so you’ve curtailed your inner geek and taken out those character genealogies you were working on, but what makes a world work? If your novel is a fantasy, whether it be urban, steam punk, classic, high, crossover, contemporary or gothic, do you need to make your world real? HELL YES! No matter how fantastical your creations are, if they are not grounded in realism it makes it damn hard for the reader to connect or care about them.

Think of basic scientific laws, gravity, light speed, evolution etc, of course to bring the magic in, you’ll need to break or subvert these laws but you’ll need to bring realism in somewhere else. This for me, is my next joy…research, research, research!file000816536459[1]

SO much fun it should be illegal! If you’re writing about histories, cultures, mountains, desserts, jungles – research. Let me say that again…RESEARCH! (my nerdy self revels in this)

Even if you only use a fraction of your research in your novel, it will give an integrity and depth of realism to your world that you won’t be able to replicate without. But again, don’t overload it, use sparingly.

For White Mountain and the world behind The Darkling Chronicles, my research runs into three or four large box files and a plethora of books. Ancient history – particularly Sumeria, the Hittites and the Indus Valley civilisation. Indigenous people – like the Chukchi, Nenets, Khanty and Evenki of Russia and the Siberian tundra. The geography and geology of the real locations my characters travel to. Botany and wildlife etc etc. Make it REAL!

Kallorm ‘City of Light’, my subterranean metropolis beneath the Congolese jungles, in central Africa, feels real because so many things around it ARE real, from the colour of the earth in that region to the sapele and iroko trees that grow there. For my Fendellin ‘Kingdom of Dragons’, a lost realm amongst the Himalayas, I based on Tibetan Buddhist myths and Indian folklore about Shambhala – the same legend that inspired James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon and his Shangri-La.

Oh…and any places you travel to, use them for inspiration too. The landscapes of Dartmoor and New Zealand have been particularly rich for me.

So, you’ve done your research, built your world, made it real but not overpowered or forgotten your story (remember – story and characters take gold & silver, setting – bronze), then you are on your way!

Ah…the joy of writing and building worlds… 😀

For some useful advice on the subject, check out Fantasy Faction and their post ‘Why World Build?’ http://fantasy-faction.com/2012/why-would-build/

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