Some Blogging Awards

I’ve recently been nominated for two blogging awards: The Sunshine Blogging Award, courtesy of Melissa at NolanWrites, and The Creative Blogger Award, courtesy of Sue Vincent at The Daily Echo.

Thank you both so much for the nominations! It’s always a pleasure to be nominated 🙂 I hope you don’t mind me combining both awards into a single post.

The Sunshine Blogger Award comes from Melissa at Nolan Writes. Her blog is a wonderful mix of travel, cooking and luscious beauty products, so pop on over for a visit!

Sunshine blogaward

The rules of accepting The Sunshine Blogger Award nomination are as follows:

Acknowledge and thank the nominating blogger with a link to their website. Share 11 random facts about yourself by answering the questions the nominating blogger has created for you. List 11 bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love! (You can’t nominate the blogger who nominated you.) Let the 11 bloggers know that you have nominated them. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer.

And here are my eleven questions from Melissa:

1: Who are your favourite published authors?

I have a groaning bookcase full of books, so it’s going to be difficult to narrow it down. However, based on the amount of books I have by these authors, I will say Marion Zimmer Bradley (especially her Darkover Series), Charles DeLint, Guy Gavriel Kay, Kerry Greenwood (her Phryne Fisher series), and Douglas Adams. Honourable mentions to C.S Lewis, Tolkien, Anne Rice, Amy Tan, Charles Pellegrino, Geraldine Brooks, Ursula LeGuin, Charlaine Harris, Bill Bryson…

2: What did you want to grow up to accomplish in your life?

I think, like many kids, my answers changed a lot as I grew up. When I was very small, a flight to Tenerife impressed me so much I wanted to be a flight attendant, then there might have been a brief period when I wanted to be a mermaid. As I grew older, I wanted to be an archaeologist, but not having a Chemistry credit when I left high school (despite being an honour student) meant I couldn’t get into the degree course. Then I went with fashion and visual arts, moved into advertising and it’s only now that I think I’ve discovered what I really want to do, which is to write books.

3: What are your favourite Movies?

This answer may end up being like the answer to question one, with there being too many titles to list. The original three Star wars films, plus the Lord of the Rings films are favourites I’ll always go back to, as is The Princess Bride. I love all the Marvel films too. Um, I also like period romances, tearjerkers, horror (in small doses), comedies – the only sort of films I have trouble with are ones that depict violence (other than fantasy violence, for some strange reason).

4: What’s your favourite food?

Skin-on chips with salt and vinegar aioli. And strawberries with extra thick cream 🙂

5: What is your favourite temperature?

Mid twenties in the day, cold enough to sleep under a quilt at night. Basically, autumn weather.

6: Introvert or Extrovert?

I’m more of the former, though I sometimes act like the latter.

7: What are your favourite past times?

Family time, writing, painting, walking, dreaming.

8: What about yourself would you change if you could?

Nothing, really. Though it’s taken me a long time to get to this understanding. Why worry about things you can’t change?

9: Where is your favourite place in the world that you have ever visited and why?

North Wales is my favourite country in the world. I could just disappear into the misty mountains and stay there quite happily. One of the most dreamlike places I’ve ever visited is Hearst Castle in California. I went there when I was fifteen and fell in love with it. It has partly influenced my descriptions of Ambeth. I’m going back there next month and I will be taking loads of photos.

10: Why do you blog?

I started blogging with no expectations or ideas of what to expect – it was just something I thought I should do. Yet now I’ve met a wonderful community of people as well as increased my confidence as a writer. I write because I can’t not write. I blog because I really enjoy doing it.

11: Who are your favourite musicians or bands?

Ha. Another tricky question. When I was fourteen, I went to see Duran Duran, who were my absolute screaming-crying-fallingover favourite band. It happened to be the night they filmed The Reflex video. I still enjoy their music now, old and new. I also enjoy Muse, Kasabian, The Black Keys etc. My brother is a musician and I always enjoy his shows – I’ve seen him in every band he’s played in since he was thirteen. And if you were to look through the thousands of songs on my ITunes, you would find pretty much everything except jazz and country.

Thanks, Melissa, for a tough set of questions 🙂 Now, I will bend the rules slightly – I’m not going to nominate eleven bloggers. Rather, if you’d like to take the challenge, please do.

My second blogging award is from Sue Vincent at the Daily Echo. Sue is a prolific author and blogger, and her blog features, among other things, her fascinating exploration of Britain’s ancient sites, complete with beautiful photography.


Sue has nominated me for The Creative Blogger Award, the rules of which are as follows:

1. Display the Creative Blogger Award logo on your blog
2. Nominate up to 10 blogs and notify all nominees via their social media/blogs
3. Thank and post the link of the blog that nominated you (very important)
4. Pass these rules on to them

Thank you, Sue! Very much appreciated 🙂 And once again, being a slightly naughty person who doesn’t always follow the rules, I leave the nomination open at this time. However, I may come back with a list of nominees shortly.

Happy Monday, everyone!

xx Helen

Finding the Angle


Sydney Opera House is full of interesting angles…

When you write freelance, you’re often required to write about subjects that may not hold much interest for you. For me, the key to keeping it interesting is finding the angle, that point of interest where you and the subject matter meet. Once you find that common point the work becomes much easier, keeping the writing fresh.

For example, I had a client once who needed brochure copy for her new beauty salon, which offered Botox and enemas and other treatments which all sounded dubious to me. However, it was paying work and, as a professional, I had to deliver. So I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone who would seek out these treatments, finding phrases that would appeal to and comfort them, making them confident in the services being offered. Once I found that angle, I was able to write the copy and the client was happy.

I actually found it easiest to write interview pieces, because the angle was created as soon as I spoke to that person and gained an impression of who they were. Often my interview subjects would be pleasantly surprised by my finished article, saying they hadn’t realised the impression they’d conveyed in just a few words. I would spend time doing research before each interview because it was important I chose the right questions to ask, especially when I often had only ten minutes in which to ask them.

When it came to writing my own fiction, I found the angle was the place where my own experiences and that of my character met. In A Thousand Rooms, the entire book is told from the point of view of my main character, who happens to be dead. Even though I don’t know what it’s like to be dead there’s still quite a bit of me in her, including a recount of a disastrous date that I only embellished slightly, the remembered reality of it quite awful enough. I suppose it’s an extension of the idea to ‘write what you know’ – when you add in something you’ve experienced personally, it’s a lot easier to convey the emotion and surroundings of the scene.

My Ambeth books are told from multiple points of view, each character’s story eventually merging together. This time, the angle came in finding which character was best suited to tell each scene, the meeting point being my gut feeling and the characters themselves. I know Ambeth inside and out, and I also know what motivates each of my main characters, so it became an instance of matching my own knowledge with what the characters were telling me would happen next, while balancing this enough to ensure that one character didn’t dominate the narrative. In some ways this goes back to my interview technique, where I used my prior knowledge to tailor my questions for the best results – this time, I base my decision on who the characters are and how the scene will affect each one of them going forward.

So there you go. Do you have any little techniques or tricks of the trade you use when writing? I’d be very interested to hear 🙂