The writing’s on the wall…er…tablet?

I don’t usually re-blog my own posts, in fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever done it before, but I saw this post I blogged in May last year and just loved the subject matter – writing and the history of writing! Enjoy! ūüėÄ xx

Sophie E Tallis - Author/Illustrator

The Deluge tablet, carved in stone, of the Gil... The Deluge tablet, carved in stone, of the Gilgamesh epic in Akkadian, circa 2nd millennium BC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, the writing‚Äôs on the tablet and I‚Äôm not talking computer tablets here, in terms of writing and technology, it seems we‚Äôve come full circle! ūüėÄ

Like many of us, when I was a child I believed that the ancient Egyptians invented writing. That hieroglyphics were man’s earliest endeavour at making sense of the world in written form.

Of course, we all know this to be untrue now, that actually Sumer (southern Mesopotamia) and the ancient Sumerians invented writing, Sumerian cuneiform by writing on clay tablets with a reed called a stylus, at least 200 years before the Egyptians.

"The Flood Tablet. This is perhaps the mo...
“The Flood Tablet. This is perhaps the most famous of all cuneiform tablets. It is the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic, and describes how the gods sent a flood to destroy the world. Like…

View original post 848 more words

Hope, Hot Cross Buns and Easter Surprises!

hotcrossbuns_397_16x9[1]

It’s Easter already? Where did the year go?

Well, I feel I should share a few of our family rhymes at this time of year:

“Hot cross buns,

Hot cross buns,

One a penny, two a penny,

Hot cross buns.

If you have no daughters,

Give them to your sons,

One a penny, two a penny

Hot cross buns.”

Lol, although those that know me well know that I’m not a religious person at all, in fact I’m an atheist, I do respect all cultures and religions and people’s personal belief systems. But, despite my non-religious status, I’ve always found Easter to be such a hopeful time. It’s probably to do with Spring being in the air, the first warm days of the year, the first azure blue skies (though not today!), the first new flowers of the year.

SAM_3705

SAM_3701Walking round the garden with my four doggies becomes an almost spiritual experience at this time. The sheep with their baby lambs frolicking in the fields behind, the first green shoots on trees, the swaying sturdy stems of daffodils, the delicate drooping heads of the snake’s head fritillary, the first butterflies and countless birds nesting in every nook and cranny. We love nature and the cyclical nature of life is not lost on us. We put out peanuts and wild bird seed every day for the woodpeckers and various little birds which live with us and corn for the moorhens, but the best thing is brushing all our dogs and placing the discarded fur out on the lawn, then sitting back and watching. It takes literally seconds before the first birds swoop down and start picking out bundles of the white fluffy stuff in their beaks to line their nests. It really is such a wonder to behold. Tiny little chiff chaffs, blue tits, chaffinches, robins and sparrows all¬†sporting long white beards and moustaches, like little miniature mandarins. SOOOOO sweet!

SAM_3722

If you have any pets, cats or dogs (though dogs are best), now is the time to brush them and put out the fur for the birds in your garden, you’ll be amazed by the results!¬†Within an hour, there was no fur left, and it just got me thinking¬†about how important it is to be in harmony with nature and give it a hand whenever you can. SAM_3711

I just love the thought of all our nesting birds having a doggy fur lining to snuggle up in!

But, I digress… SAM_3725

Easter and Spring is about hope, whatever your religious or non religious beliefs. A year of promise and opportunities stands before you. So, what will you do to seize those opportunities?

For me, apart from pursuing my creative endeavours, including setting up my new illustration business http://sophieetallisillustrations.weebly.com/ and hopefully getting back to novel writing, I am also pursuing some personal goals too. One of those I’ll keep quiet about for now (don’t want to jinx myself), but I do want to share a struggle so many of us have – with our weight.

SAM_3735

A few weeks ago I weighed myself, something I’ve learnt not to do often to avoid bad news, and had a nasty surprise – since my illness last year when I really couldn’t do much of anything, I’d put on a whole stone!!! I was shocked when I worked out my BMI. ūüė¶

Although I was a skinny kid and slim in my early teens, after a few traumatic years I started eating for comfort and the pounds piled on. As an adult I have struggled with my weight like many of us. Name a diet and I’ve done it, Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Rosemary Conelly, Atkins, fasting, Dukan diet, etc., etc. The best I’ve ever managed to lose is about a stone and a half then plateau for four/five months before giving up utterly dejected and eventually putting the weight back on. ūüė¶

This year, after a year of¬†huge life change, I eventually had an epiphany… SAM_3719

Yes a lot of it was to do with having turned 40, having left a 15 year solid career and embarking on a whole new one, and a lot of it was to do with the sudden shocking death of my dear friend, Lindsey J Parsons, in Jaunary 2014. 827e711c41030a7f023505.L._V144210053_SY470_[1]

My epiphany was simple – life is too damn short to waste a moment of it. Don’t just think about your dreams, or plan for tomorrow, DO SOMETHING about it!

MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!!!!

With that in mind I mentally slapped myself and VOWED to lose weight and get healthier. No, I don’t expect to get back to my former skinny self, 22inch waist and all, but it’s not¬†about capturing¬†the past…it’s about creating a future –¬†a healthier, happier future.

SAM_3691I made a schedule for myself, three small healthy meals, eating breakfast (for the first time since I was 13), not eating after 6pm, doing three bouts of exercise daily. No counting calories, carbs, points or anything else, just regulating what I eat, making sure it’s healthy, and smaller portions of course.

Well, only two weeks later since I started and I’ve lost 10lbs so far!!!!!

I have a loooooong journey ahead of me, but I know I can make. For the first time ever, I have¬†HOPE. I’m not sure if it’s Easter hope or Spring hope, but I know I’ll get to where I want to get.

You know the saying, “Hope Springs Eternal.”

So, for all of you out there, whatever your goals, 2014 will be the year you achieve them, just believe in yourself, be pro-active and have HOPE!

ūüėÄ xxxxx

SAM_3720

 

Han Solo, Passing 14,000 and The Liebster Award!!!!

Han Solo

Okay, first I’d like to say a massive THANK YOU to all my amazing talented followers for pushing this little blog past 14,000 hits!!!¬†That’s truly humbling and astounding. So, whether you’re regular visitors, weekly watchers, new to the site, fly-by, one-stop-shop, pop-in pop-out kind of visitors, or hang out pull up your chair and relax visitors, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!¬†This blog would be nothing without your support!¬†ūüėÄ xx

Right, before I get too gushy on you, I’ll get on with the post.

As I mentioned in my last nomination, The Versatile Blogger award, I’ve been¬†very forgetful regarding the awards which have¬†so kindly been bestowed upon me, but, I’ve now caught up with this latest one, the Liebster Award. Again,¬†huge thanks must go out to the gorgeous, talented¬†and thoroughly lovely Kay Kauffman (http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/), who¬†nominated me for this award in May. Kay is an extraordinarily gifted¬†fantasy author with a love of nascar, a gift for cooking and a¬†huge heart!

Apart from being a fellow member of The Alliance of Worldbuilders – http://theallianceofworldbuilders.weebly.com/index.html¬†& http://www.facebook.com/TheAllianceOfWorldbuilders along with myself and a bunch of fantasy/sci-fi geeks,¬†Kay Kauffman¬†has also established the most amazing blog which¬†I highly recommend you all checking out! http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/¬† – Thank you Kay! ūüėÄ x

As usual, there are a few rules for this:

liebsterThe Rules:

  1. List eleven random facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the eleven questions that were asked of you by the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate eleven other blogs for the Liebster Award and link to their blogs.
  4. Notify the bloggers of their award.
  5. Ask the award winners eleven questions, to be answered upon acceptance of the award.

Umm…I’m noticing a pattern in the number 11!liebster-award

Okay, so here is where I bend the rules a little…ahem…okay, break the rules again. Rules are¬†made for breaking, right? The Liebster Award is supposed to be for blogs who have 200 followers or less. Well, as the lovely Kay Kauffman (http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/) suspected,¬†I am very lucky to have more followers than that, first rule broken. but since she was kind enough to nominate me, I’m gladly accepting!

Okay…er…first¬†eleven random facts about me:

  1. I’m a terrible insomniac and have been since I was about 14.
  2. I’m petrified of spiders but okay with snakes.
  3. I’ve nearly died at least 4 times, drowning, car crash, decapitation, run over, and that’s not counting all the times I fell twenty feet out of trees with hardly a bruise or scratch – I’ve never broken a bone!
  4. I have dreadful eyesight yet can see amazing details close up, like microscope vision, great for drawing and I ADORE looking at maps!
  5. I could talk before I could walk and was writing and drawing before 3yrs.
  6. My first crush was on Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, I even posted an airmail love letter to Jackson Hole, Wyoming!
  7. I am very much a country girl, born and bred and love nature and wild landscapes – preferably with no people around, just the elements and me!
  8. I love animals and detest cruelty of any kind. I’m anti all ‘blood sports’ like fox hunting.
  9. I love green vegetables and have a real thing for runner beans! English: runner beans
  10. Star Wars was the very first film I ever saw at the cinema. It got me totally hooked on science-fiction and fantasy, but it also seeded a deep desire in me, ever since I was 4yrs old, to be an astronaut. To this day, I still have vivid dreams of flying my own spaceship!
  11. When I was 17 I went to Communist Russia on a school trip. Our plane was diverted to an airstrip north of Moscow due to a storm and the KGB boarded our plane and took our passports. It was very scary. I¬†was frisked¬†by one of the guards and we were all detained for four hours in a blizzard. It was an amazing trip though. We went to Lenin’s tomb – incredible. It was like a dream. Although he’d been dead for over 70 years at the time, he looked like he had just fallen asleep! Seriously freaky!

The questions Kay Kauffman (http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/) wanted answered:

  1. If you could have lunch with any one person, living or dead, who would it be and why? Probably my personal hero, David Attenborough.David Attenborough 1
  2. What is your favourite song and why? Mull of Kintyre by Wings. It was the first record I ever bought and even though I know it’s cheesy as hell, I still adore it. Something to do with being a soundtrack to nature I think.
  3. What is your dream job? Besides being a writer? Probably a film director. I love telling stories and being a highly visual person that would be ideal. Weirdly enough, my career’s advisor said ‘writer or film director’ as two of my best most suitable jobs!
  4. What is your favourite season? Spring, everything awakening, coming back to life and the promise of Summer yet to come.
  5. Why did you start blogging? Oops…I read this as ‘when’ – 26th January 2012! Why? Umm. To be honest I don’t know, I just kind of fell into it and found I loved it!
  6. What is your favourite comfort food? Bread and Marmite.
  7. If you had a time turner like Hermione‚Äôs in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, what would you do with it? Sorry, I’ve never read any HP more of a Tolkien girl, so don’t know what that is. I’m guessing it’s a time machine device or something? Uh…I’d probably go back in time and undo some mistakes, do a few things differently given the choice. I don’t live with regrets, but I’ve often made choices for other people and not for myself.
  8. If you could have lunch with one of the captains from¬†Star Trek¬†or one of the characters from¬†Star Wars, who would you choose and why? Ooh, that’s hard. The 12yr old me would definitely go with Han Solo, now though, I think I’d pick Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk, he’s kinda cute and I think he’s a funny guy. It would be a fun lunch!
  9. Do you use your cell phone mostly for talking or mostly for other things? Mostly for texting, but mostly not at all. I’m an email girl not a cell/mobile phone girl.
  10. What makes you dance? Most music.
  11. And the follow-up, what makes you sing? “You’re Just Too Good To Be True…” & “Sweet Caroline…ba ba ba”, the classic drunken sing-a-long songs!

There you go! Now for my eleven nominees, as always, these really are in no order at all!

  1. Tricia Drammeh ‚Äď http://blog.triciadrammeh.com/¬†&¬† http://theclaimingwords.com/
  2. Lindsey Parsons ‚Äď http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/
  3. Susan Finlay ‚Äď http://susansbooks37.wordpress.com/
  4. Kate Jack ‚Äď http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/
  5. Andrea Baker ‚Äď http://www.andreabakerauthor.com/¬†& http://rosewallauthor.wordpress.com/
  6. Will Macmillan Jones ‚Äď http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com/
  7. Jane Dougherty ‚Äď http://janedougherty.wordpress.com/
  8. Lisa Scullard ‚Äď http://lisascullard.wordpress.com/¬†& http://hardinkcafe.wordpress.com/
  9. Emily Mckeon ‚Äď http://theabsenteeblogger.blogspot.com/
  10. Joanne Hall – http://hierath.wordpress.com/
  11. Ashen Venema ‚Äď http://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/

Wow…there are a LOT of lists on this post! Okay, now for the last fun part…he he he!

Eleven questions I would like my nominees to answer, should they choose to accept the award. Here goes!

  • What was the first book you ever read, and the last one you read/are reading?
  • What superpower do you wish you had and why?
  • Better to burn like a comet or fade away? Quick and¬†bright or slow and dull? How best you do live your life?
  • If you were transported into a Grimm’s Fairy Tale, Tolkien’s Lord of¬†the Rings¬†or one of G.R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones stories, which character would you play and why?
  • Joss Whedon or JJ Abrams?
  • Favourite movie and why?
  • Favourite all time character from fiction and why?
  • DC or Marvel?
  • Guilty pleasure?
  • If you were granted one wish, what would¬†it be and why?
  • What book has had the most profound affect upon you and why?

There you go, a mixture of absurdly silly, shallow questions with a few sensible ones thrown in! ūüėČ

How would YOU answer these? Eh? Huh? Wanna give it a try? Yes, you sitting there in the corner, yes YOU! Come on over here and ask yourself these questions, come join our little nerdfest! ūüėÄ xxx

Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Versatile, yes…but very forgetful – The forgotten awards!!!

Okay, to my regular visitors, you lovely shiny happy people, you’ll know that due to illness I have not been the consistent blogger I used to be, and have been rather sporadic in my¬†posts over the last few months, something I hope to correct soon.

Anyway, to my delight I¬†was nominated for two blog awards! –¬†¬†The Versatile Blogger award and the Liebster Award. Amazing, yes, fantastic and humbling, definitely, but here comes the embarrassing bit…

The gorgeous and very talented writer, Kay Kauffman (http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/), kindly nominated me for the Liebster Award back in May – thank you Kay! But it was, ahem…over a year ago when she nominated me for The Versatile Blogger award! *cringes* Oops, sorry!

I really am the definition of the absent minded blogger! So, VERY belatedly, I’m accepting The Versatile Blogger award first. ūüėÄ

So, here are the rules:

I have to say seven things about myself and nominate fifteen others for the award, so here goes! *gulp*

  1. I’m a complete nerd with a deep love of comic book superheroes, dragons, and basically anything to do with fantasy and science-fiction. Yes, I love DC and Marvel comics EQUALLY, how could I really choose between my spidey¬†and batman? However, I hate Dr Who, I like my sci-fi/fantasy to be ultra high quality (BSG¬†– Battlestar¬†Galactica & Games of Thrones¬†girl here). But I still have a fondness for the wobbly sets of Blake’s 7 and Red Dwarf! English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films
  2. The first film I ever saw at the cinema, was Star Wars in 1977, I was 4yrs old (yes, I am that old!). I screamed and ducked down in the seat during the opening titles because I thought the starship was going to hit my head! That was it – I was HOOKED!!!! I still have some of my original Star Wars figures!
  3. One of my dreams, other than being able to fly like Man of Steel or kick butt like Buffy,¬†is to go to America at least once and attend the Comic-Con convention in San Diego, a feast for any fanboy¬†and fantasy freak! I hear the marvellous Henry Cavill is attending a panel and signing autographs there Saturday 20th July…mmmm…sigh! ūüôā

    A Comic Con sign.

    A Comic Con sign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  4. I’m an avid film buff¬†with an enormous collection of films, including some wonderfully obscure ones. My favourite actors¬†are Al Pacino, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch¬†and Christian Bale. My¬†favourite actresses are Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Juliette Binoche¬†and Judy Dench, though I think Jennifer Lawrence is great. Favourite film? …oh¬†that changes so much! Betty Blue, Les Enfants du Pont Neuf, Star Wars & Empire Strikes Back, Godfather 1 & 2, Leon, Blade Runner, Three Colours Blue, The Dark Knight Trilogy, 2001 Space Odyssey, Gladiator, LOTR trilogy, Watchmen, Man of Steel, Insomnia, Memento (yes, I love Christopher Nolan movies) Frankie & Johnny – did I say I have eclectic tastes? Chinatown, London. Benedict Cumberbatch during...
  5. I LOVE New Zealand after having spent four glorious months there back in 1997/1998, just travelling around with my backpack and loving every second of it! Not only was it a life changing experience, the adventure, the freedom, the people, the amazing landscapes, but that 4 month odyssey also inspired my debut novel, White Mountain. Without that trip, my Darkling Trilogy would never have come to pass. A few years later, after I’d already begun writing the novel, I saw my beloved New Zealand again when watching the LOTR films. A truly mesmeric and freaky experience, as unlike the majority of the audience watching it with me, I had actually BEEN to most of the locations they filmed in, and the same extraordinary landscapes that inspired Peter Jackson, had inspired me! His¬†Mordor¬†was parts of¬†my Fendellin, his¬†Fangorn was my¬†Grey Forest, and Aoraki itself – Mount Cook, WAS my White Mountain!¬† 75
  6. I’d love to travel more as I used to, revisit Russia, Andorra, Italy and New Zealand. I’d especially love to do the world’s¬†longest and wildest train journey, the¬†Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Vladisvostok. I’d also love to go to Tibet and Mongolia and rent a car and drive across America, road trip style. More adventures needed!¬†ūüėÄ
  7. I ADORE my two white wolves, my family & friends, Marmite, my lightsabre, my ability to dream in 3 dimensions and cinema surround sound – which doesn’t make for a good night’s sleep but wow are my dreams vivid!¬†(I’m an awful insomniac), my book collection, my gorgeous garden, nature, landscapes, the ocean, art, photography, chess, maps, the stars…life!

There you go! ūüėÄ

Right, now for nominating others, this is really hard as I know SO many great bloggers out there that deserve this award…in NO order whatsoever!

  1. Lindsey Parsons – http://lindseyjparsons.wordpress.com/
  2. Tricia Drammeh Рhttp://blog.triciadrammeh.com/ &  http://theclaimingwords.com/
  3. AFE Smith – http://www.afesmith.com/blog.html
  4. Kate Jack – http://kateannejack.wordpress.com/
  5. Will Macmillan Jones – http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com/
  6. Andrea Baker Рhttp://www.andreabakerauthor.com/ & http://rosewallauthor.wordpress.com/
  7. Gretchen Steen Рhttp://www.gretchensteen.com/ & http://gretchensteen.blogspot.com/
  8. Ryan Holmes – http://griffinsquill.com/
  9. Jane Dougherty – http://janedougherty.wordpress.com/
  10. Susan Finlay – http://susansbooks37.wordpress.com/
  11. Debbie Young Рhttp://youngbyname.wordpress.com/ & http://offtheshelfbookpromotions.wordpress.com/
  12. Emily Mckeon – http://theabsenteeblogger.blogspot.com/
  13. Lisa Scullard Рhttp://lisascullard.wordpress.com/ & http://hardinkcafe.wordpress.com/
  14. Ashen Venema – http://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/
  15. Lisa Weidmeier Рhttp://lisawiedmeier.blogspot.com/ & http://lisawiedmeier.com/
  16. Okay, I know I’m not allowed more than 15 nominees, but some of these were previously nominated for this same award so I HAVE to include¬†a couple¬†more. The wonderful multi-talented and extremely versatile, Morgen Bailey – http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/
  17. And the marvellous fantasy author, John Lucas Hargis – http://johnlucashargis.wordpress.com/

A HUGE thank you to fellow member of the Alliance of Worldbuilders http://theallianceofworldbuilders.weebly.com/index.html, the wonderful Kay Kauffman – fantasy author extraordinaire, for her very kind nomination!

Please check out¬†Kay’s stunning blog, full of heart warming poetry that leaps off the screen, tips on writing and her journey to becoming a published author and much much more! Thank you honey – http://suddenlytheyalldied.com/¬†ūüėÄ

Author Essentials: Go there…

Making it real, no matter what genre you write in…¬† ūüėÄ

Hard Ink Café

Sophie E Tallis in New Zealand

If your imaginary world is rich in geographical detail, at least in your mind’s eye, you need to get out there and soak it up in order to transfer the experience to the reader. Sophie E Tallis was already travelling when she started to think about writing her epic fantasy adventures.

You may be the writer, stuck at your desk ‚Äď but the reader can be anyone, anywhere in the world. And if you‚Äôre imagining any part of the world that your reader knows, you need to impart knowledge and inspire empathy. If the reader doesn‚Äôt recognise the Oxford Street that they pass through on the way to work every day, because you‚Äôre writing about it from your cul-de-sac in Bexhill-on-Sea and the closest you ever got to Central London was Tunbridge Wells, then perhaps a one-day travelcard wouldn‚Äôt go amiss in your research.

Even if your world is invented…

View original post 143 more words

The writing’s on the wall…er…tablet?

The Deluge tablet, carved in stone, of the Gil...

The Deluge tablet, carved in stone, of the Gilgamesh epic in Akkadian, circa 2nd millennium BC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, the writing’s on the tablet and I’m not talking computer tablets here, in terms of writing and technology, it seems we’ve come full circle! ūüėÄ

Like many of us, when I was a child I believed that the ancient Egyptians invented writing. That hieroglyphics¬†were man’s earliest endeavour at making sense of the world in written form.

Of course, we all know this to be untrue now, that actually Sumer (southern Mesopotamia) and the ancient Sumerians invented writing, Sumerian cuneiform by writing on clay tablets with a reed called a stylus, at least 200 years before the Egyptians.

"The Flood Tablet. This is perhaps the mo...
“The Flood Tablet. This is perhaps the most famous of all cuneiform tablets. It is the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic, and describes how the gods sent a flood to destroy the world. Like Noah, Utnapishtim¬†was forewarned and built an ark to house and preserve living things. After the flood he sent out birds to look for dry land. ME K 3375.” In the . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we grow and get older, thus our knowledge grows. What will we learn tomorrow? ūüėĬ†¬†¬†The reason for my focusing on ancient history, apart from the fact that I love it, study it and it continually inspires me, is simply the wonderment of the act of writing itself. That miracle of thought made manifest that we all take for granted.The Sumerians were this planet’s¬†earliest known civilisation, although new discoveries are being made all the time so never let your knowledge be set in stone!

Clay tablet with Sumerian cuneiform script lis...

Clay tablet with Sumerian cuneiform script listing gods in order of seniority, 2400-2200 BC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As well as inventing writing, the Sumerians¬†invented the round wheel, astronomy and agriculture¬†as we know it. A truly amazing people, thousands of years ahead of their time. Yet we know so little about them. Their great ziggurats¬†(pyramids) have not withstood the ravages of time as well as their later Egyptian cousins, many of their stele ‘stelae’¬†(huge standing stones inscribed with cuneiform) are but broken fragments. Of course, time has not been the only eroding factor. Sumer as it was, lying between the great river deltas of the Tigris and Euphrates, is modern-day Iraq, a country which has been ravaged by war for hundreds of years.

English: Ruins from a temple in Naffur (ancien...

English: Ruins from a temple in Naffur (ancient Nippur), Iraq, are said to be the site for the meeting of Sumerian gods, as well as the place that man was created. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sumer’s greatest city states were Uruk, Ur, Nippur, Eridu¬†and Kish,¬†though these are ruins now, their history overwritten by the Babylonian Empire which followed, the Akkadians, Assyrians, Hittites and a¬†host of other invading and overlapping peoples. In such a rich environment, it was hardly surprising that the fertile ground of the Tigris and Euphrates would be a prize worthy of fighting for.

English: Ancient cities of Sumer Espa√Īol: Anti...

English: Ancient cities of Sumer Espa√Īol: Antiguas¬†ciudades¬†de Sumeria Magyar: √ďkori¬†sumer¬†v√°rosok (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But, the reason I’m focusing on the Sumerians in particular, is simply¬†because they also gave the world its very first story, The Epic of Gilgamesh. A wonderful fantasy adventure story on an epic scale, with our hero Gilgamesh, along with his friend Enkidu, trying to defy the gods and find the secret to immortality.

Gilgamesh Sumerian King

Gilgamesh Sumerian King (Photo credit: tonynetone)

Think of it, the world’s very first story, long before the Bible, Torah, Qur’an (Koran), the ancient Vedic Rig-Veda (early Hindu sagas), Buddhist¬†tales, Zoroastrian writings or ancient Chinese scrolls of Confucius, the Sumerians were writing about their lives and they were writing stories. We have¬†SO¬†much to thank the Sumerians for!

What made them first think of projecting their thoughts in written form? No doubt the need for trade pushed the need for communication between peoples.

Evidence suggests that it was this cuneiform, written on clay tablets, that travelled to Egypt and India and other parts of near/middle Asia as part of the ancient trade links of the time; and that these later inspired the Egyptian earliest proto-hieroglyphics and the written language of the Indus Valley Civilisation (centred around Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa), covering modern-day India and Pakistan.

English: Mohenjo-daro

English: Mohenjo-daro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I suppose that is one of the contributing factors to my liking fantasy, particularly epic fantasy¬†– ¬†the fact that such sagas were written thousands of years ago, is certainly fuel for the imagination. The Sumerian King List for instance, a legendary text now where fantasy and fact certainly mix. The King List simply lists all the great rulers of the time, but it is not this which makes the record so extraordinary. It is the fact that this document cites many of those Kings as having lived and ruled for hundreds even thousands of years! Immortals? Talk about a feast for the imagination. If you’re looking for inspiration look to history.

Mace dedicated to the hero Gilgamesh (fifth ki...

Mace dedicated to the hero Gilgamesh (fifth king of Uruk, according to the Sumerian king list) by Urdun, civil servant of Lagash, Ur III. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The melding of fiction and fact is something I adore. Looking at history as we know it and daring to ask, what if this happened? For me, researching for an ancient forgotten people/culture¬†that pre-date humanity, I had a lot of rich source material to draw from. Were these Sumerian Kings immortal exiles perhaps? Banished from their own¬†«ľllfren¬†or Dworllian kin,¬†to live amongst lesser humans?¬†Perhaps it was these early sun-gods with their¬†advanced knowledge and long life that seeded our civilisations? Are they the¬†reason for the sudden unexplained¬†jump in technology and culture all those thousands of years ago?

For me, my mind boggled with the possibilities. Certainly a rich pre-history from which to hang the tapestry of imagination.

But, fact and fiction aside, all we do know for certain, is that as readers and writers and lovers of the written word, we owe much to that ancient civilisation and their miraculous inventions!

ūüėÄ xx

Ziggurat at Ur

Ziggurat at Ur (Photo credit: jmcfall)

What a year! 2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Biting nails, book signing and the road to publication – Part 2

Now where were we?

Writing advice…ummm. The tricky foothills and thick forests of the publishing world.

Well, you’ve written your grand opus, researched it thoroughly, edited and re-drafted the hell out of it and it’s finally polished enough¬†to be publication ready.

Now that your work is prepared, it’s time to turn the microscope on yourself. Are you, the writer, the creator of your work, ready for the rollercoaster ride? To be sure, I wasn’t.

Despite having joined writing sites years before, like the wonderful UKAuthors and despite having every volume of the Writers & Artists Yearbook from 1998 onwards, and thinking I was ready and pretty savy…I really wasn’t.

The Writers & Artists Yearbook is a terrific resource to be sure and essential reading for all new authors and illustrators, but it is only the first step. As a debut writer you have so SO much to learn and the learning curve is pretty damn steep! …oh, and there’s always more to learn btw, it never stops!

So where do you start?

Well, writing sites are absolutely invaluable. If you think you can do this completely on your own…odds are you can’t. Writing sites are a¬†microcosm¬†for the industry in many ways.¬†You will make new friends and contacts that will stay with you for years, meet dedicated writers with razor-sharp¬†critiquing skills, and¬†yes, you’ll meet the occasional troll, but that’s life, right?

You will learn not only the craft of writing but gain experience in marketing, promotion, entering competitions, raising your online profile, the merry-go-round of enquiry letters, finding publishers and agents or how to chart your own course by doing the self-pub route which in itself has a whole plethora of new skill sets to learn!

My advice?

Learn as much as you can and as quickly as you can, you’ll need all your skills and cunning, believe me. Oh…and if you’re work shy and not fully committed to becoming a writer, as harsh as it sounds, you won’t make it. The hours you will need to put in, to achieve your goal, are nothing short of insane. Forget social life, forget daily routines…it will literally take over your life!

These are some of the best writing sites to join:

www.authonomy.com¬† – The HarperCollins¬†writing site (and home to my beloved The Alliance of Worldbuilders, the biggest thread/group on there, full of wonderful talented writers and fantasy and sci-fi nuts like me! If you pop in, my username is Tollam, a character from my novel…so come and say ‘hello’!)

www.ukauthors.com – The wonderful Andrea runs this site, full of amazing writers creating in every genre possible. Great for poetry too.

www.abctales.com¬†– The first writing site I ever joined. Write a masterpiece and get your work ‘cherry picked’!

www.absolutewrite.com – A one-stop shop for everything writing connected. Great advice too for the new author.

For writing and information sites, these are the best to join and visit:

www.griffinsquiill.com РA great website run by the multi-talented Ryan Holmes, who also has THE coolest job in the world Рhe works for NASA no less! A great place for fantasy writers to showcase their work and help each other. A real haven in a shark infested web!

www.triciadrammeh.com¬†– Fantasy writer Tricia Drammeh’s website where she showcases her own writing,¬†reviews books, hosts guest blogs and interviews authors in her ‘Authors to Watch’ section.

But probably the most comprehensive website/blog I have come across is Morgen Bailey’s.

www.morgenbailey.wordpress.com РEverything you could possibly need or want is here under one wonderful web umbrella! Flash fiction, short stories, author spotlights, blog interviews, writing tips, submission info. for every genre type including scripts and poetry, exercises, poetry writing, the latest competitions Рagain for every genre type , guest blogs, links, writing groups, critiques (no reviews though as Morgen is insanely busy),  and so much more.

For publishers & agents, one of the very best sites is Preditors & Editors.

www.pred-ed.comTHIS IS A MUST SITE! The writing world, like every other, is full of sharks as well as the genuine fish that you’d love to hook or be hooked by. A case of buyer, or writer, beware. This site is invaluable for finding out information on prospective publishers and agents¬†that you are interested in submitting to. A genuinely important resource for all writers.

Also:

www.writersservices.com¬†– An up-to-date site for everything the writer needs. Agents, publishers, editorial services, ‘What’s new’, The Writer’s Magazine, advice from experts and 2,000 pages of information and services. A great site.

www.firstwriter.com РA good resource for finding literary agents specialising in specific genres.

www.agentquery.com – One of the internet’s most trusted databases for literary agents.

www.writers.net – A good general resource for writers, editors, agents and publishers.

In truth, I could go on and on. There really are SO many sites out there to help you on your journey. I’ve only included the ones I have personally used or visited or which have been recommended to me by fellow writers.

Also, for those wanting to navigate the murky waters of what to do next and how to do it – there is help out there. Check out Debbie Young’s new book, ‘Sell Your Books!’ full of invaluable advice for the self-published and small press author alike. Really great stuff! http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sell-Your-Books-Promotion-Self-published/dp/1906236348/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351030196&sr=1-1

Product DetailsRemember, the road to publication is usually a long and arduous one and is often littered with the carcasses of those writers and works that didn’t make it for what ever reason. Give yourself the best possible chance.

Be in no doubt – this IS an Everest that you are attempting to climb.

But remember, Everest has been conquered, despite the catalogue of casualties. It¬†is an achievable goal, though a mammoth one. Be prepared. You wouldn’t attempt to scale a mountain without any training, climbing equipment or a friendly guide, would you?¬†Enthusiasm and talent will only get you so far. Time to get serious.

So guys…get your tackle out! (ummm…that sounded wrong!) ūüėõ xx

Michael Morpurgo & Me!

Strange things have been happening…very¬†strange things. It seems that I am stalking Michael¬†Morpurgo!

9260_433372556719113_86475080_nSince my debut novel was published or should I say born¬†into the world on 30th September, I’ve been lost in a wondrous¬†maelstrom of writing, promotion, marketing, newspaper articles and my first book signings.

To date, I have just had my third author signing event, this time at the huge Waterstones branch in Cardiff. Even though each signing is akin to standing in the sports hall of your school during your final year prom, waiting for someone to pick you to dance, i.e. exhilarating and embarrassing in equal measure Рtalking to people has been wonderful.

I’d like to thank an especially lovely couple yesterday who bought a copy of White Mountain and were so enthusiastic and full of energy about my book and our shared love of writing, illustrations and fantasy, that I could have chatted to them all day!

But yes, life recently has been a complete whirlwind and something of a surreal dream. Surreal is a good word to describe it, though perhaps unreal is nearer the mark.

We all live, for the most part, little innocuous lives. I certainly have for the last 3o¬†something¬†years. Just a quiet bumbling sort of life, lurching from one mishap into another. Fumbling my way through life¬†while I studiously and anonymously¬†scribble away at my stories, dreaming one day that they will proudly sit upon the bookshelves of my lovely local independent bookshop, Waterstones¬†or WHSmith’s, hopefully next to another great literary work.

We all dream, right?

Well, I know I’m never going to be the astronaut I wanted to be (…er…or space pirate!) and dreams of being a mermaid have slipped away as I’ve grown older (notice I¬†don’t say wiser). But being a writer was always a dream I believed would¬†happen…and eventually it has. All good things come to those that wait, eh?

Anyway, during a rare moment of lucidity, I took a camera with me and popped into some of the local bookshops which are so kindly stocking and supporting my book. What did I find? Well, apart from the indescribable feeling of ACTUALLY seeing your own book on a bookshelf, a feeling I still can’t fully express, one worrying aspect arose…

White Mountain – Book 1 of The Darkling Chronicles, may be an epic fantasy for the 21st century full of adventure, dark magic, love, loss, friendship and betrayal, but it would also appear that my beloved novel is somewhat of a stalker!

Yes, a STALKER!!!!!

Everywhere I look, White Mountain is determinedly¬†following and sidling¬†up to the wonderful Michael Morpurgo! Yes, my novel is stalking Michael Morpurgo – the illustrious and critically acclaimed writer I have admired for many years who, after the film of his novel ‘War Horse’, is also in great demand!

There, in every shop I visited, sat my novel sitting proudly next to one of his. I can’t tell you the thrill of that!

So…I would like to take the opportunity of not only thanking Octavia’s Bookshop in Cirencester (www.octaviasbookshop.co.uk), The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop in Nailsworth, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop in Tetbury¬†(www.yellow-lightedbookshop.co.uk)¬†and¬†Stroud Children’s Bookshop…but I would like to thank a total stranger who is also a bit of a hero for me, the multi-talented, Michael Morpurgo!

Thank you, Michael. Even though you don’t know me from Adam, Eve, or a dude called Bob, my novel and I want to thank you from the bottom of our dragon fuelled hearts!

*deep sigh*

Life can be hard as iron, but sometimes, just sometimes…it can be utterly lovely! ūüėÄ xx

Sold out – Magical days are made of this!

Well, it’s taken me three days to fully recover enough to string a coherent sentence together.

Without meaning to sound too OTT, Saturday was truly was one of the best days of my life! …My very first book signing and launch in the lovely Octavia’s Bookshop in Cirencester.

So, what was it like?

Nerve wracking, incredible stressful, tense and hard…but also totally amazing, wonderful, inspiring and unforgettable. Octavia Karavla who owns Octavia’s Bookshop, couldn’t have been kinder or more welcoming and even bought me lunch.

Despite some hiccups, the day really couldn’t have gone better. A heavy stream of eager customers jostled into the shop (very heavy ‘footfall’ apparently), some I knew from teaching, some were supportive friends and family¬†and others were total strangers. Such a thrilling feeling, signing books for people and asking what inscription they’d like inside, but also so surreal! This was me, little old me sitting here like a real author..totally unreal.

One little girl I knew well, asked why I was doing this, did I want to be famous?

I laughed. I tried to explain that I simply had always wanted to be a writer, that that¬†was what I had dreamed about since I was a child and as I said the words I couldn’t help smiling. Good days or bad, troubles and strifes, life’s little bumps and catastrophes really didn’t matter anymore.

Yes, it’s true, I’ve had a tougher life than many and wouldn’t have wished the troubles I’ve lived through on anyone. But you know what? …it has brought me to this point. I wouldn’t be here, on this strange and wonderful journey without having had the dramas and traumas.

Perhaps you need the angsts? Perhaps it’s those angsts¬†which fuel you creatively?

In any case, Saturday’s book launch and signing was a HUGE success and to my utter delight – we SOLD OUT!!!!

Every single book was sold in just over the first hour and Octavia then had to take names, addresses and orders for more! SO thrilled! White Mountain РBook 1 of The Darkling Chronicles, was a smash!!!!

Luckily I had a spare copy to show customers what the book looks like and I had a selection of my illustrations to cover the table…which were a great point of interest for browsing shoppers, but what a day?!

Pinching myself quite severely.

It’s just that having spent so many years creating and writing my fantasy epic and the world it inhabits, I now¬†find¬†I’m living in a bit of a fantasy myself. Nothing feels quite real. I’m sure reality will come crashing down around me and I’ll come¬†back to earth with a bump at any moment…but for now, I’m happy to float around for a while!

ūüėÄ xx

(Try to ignore the half eaten hot dog on the table…I should have hidden that away! :P)