When I started blogging, I used to feel incredibly jealous of other experienced bloggers. They nominated each other for challenges and I watched them passing around awards to more experienced bloggers from the sidelines. No one knew me in the blogging community, so I just secretly hoped that one day someone would notice my existence.
Then one day my friend Urszula Humeinik nominated me for the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge (Days 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5). I was delighted but also quite nervous. What if I couldn’t come up with something useful to say? I managed to survive the challenge, and although I enjoyed it, I also realised that I didn’t want to take part in such activities. Luckily no one nominated me again and I was very happy about that.
Until recently, when my friend Gwynn Rogers named me for the Liebster Award. Peer-nominated, this award is given by bloggers to other bloggers, and offers the opportunity to develop relationships with fellow bloggers and new readers.
Ordinarily, I’d politely decline but here are four reasons why I am saying a wholehearted ‘yes’.
- Gwynn is one of my most loyal and engaged readers. She has read pretty much all of my posts since last summer and I got to know her through her comments, contribution to my series and her own blog. Thank you for nominating me, Gwynn.
- For me, this award is about connections. Unfortunately, I have neglected my blogging community a little bit, as I haven’t had a chance to visit and comment on their posts lately. So, this is my chance to name 5-10 amazing bloggers I love and miss. You don’t have to accept this award; I just hope that some of my readers will pop around to say hi. By the way, I’d like to name at least fifty, if not more bloggers that I admire, so if your name is not on the list it’s not because I haven’t thought of you, but because I can name only up to ten blogs.
- I promised to be more open and visible on my blog, and this is an opportunity to share more of myself with you.
- Last but not least, it was my second blogging anniversary yesterday. 21,300+ views and 8500+ visitors later, my old website is now officially down. It feels like letting go of a favourite piece of clothing which doesn’t fit me anymore.
- Write a post about yourself, displaying an image of the Liebster Award.
- Link back and thank the blogger who nominated you in your post.
- Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
- Pick 5 – 10 new bloggers (must have less than 300 followers) to nominate and ask them 11 new questions. Do not re-nominate the blogger that nominated you.
- Go to each new blogger’s site and inform them of their nomination
My Liebster Nominations:
I sincerely hope you will enjoy these bloggers as much as I do. I’ve been connected with these people from the beginning of my blogging journey and they mean so much to me.
Oh no, I’m already at 10! And I just started warming up. OK, I hope you don’t mind if I add two more bloggers I got to know in the last year. They are amazing people.
My Questions to Nominees
- Who has influenced you the most in your life?
- What was your first taste of creativity?
- How and why did you start writing?
- What’s your favourite book?
- How do you wind down?
- What nourishes your creative process?
- What’s the defining moment of your life?
- I’d love to know more about your philosophy about life?
- How do you feel when you write?
- How do/will you feel when your writing is published?
- What is your biggest dream?
My Answers to Gwynn’s Questions
- When did you begin writing and what or who inspired you to dedicate yourself to writing professionally?
I started writing after meeting my dad’s side of the family for the first time at the age of 36. I told this story the other day on video, so I’m going to link that post here, and if you prefer reading about that life-changing moment, then here’s the link to my very first blog post.
- Do you have a writing routine? Please tell us about it.
I’m afraid I don’t have a writing routine. I write when I can, usually in short spurts. Caring for two young kids, having a full-time job, and just having a life don’t leave much space to have a regular writing schedule. One thing is true though that I write pretty much every day, even if it’s just a paragraph. I also spend a lot of time writing in my head, especially on the days when I didn’t have a chance to write up my thoughts.
- Do you write at a computer, a typewriter or in longhand, or a combination of these?
It’s definitely a computer for me, well, laptop to be more precise. I bought a new laptop recently because my 5+ year old laptop was on its last leg, but I still use my old one most of the time. It’s like my fingers know what to do on that key-board without me thinking.
- Do you have a designated space for writing? Where?
I write wherever I can; most of the time it’s in my dining room. It’s a room in the front of the house overlooking a garden. It’s a fairly peaceful room and people and cars don’t distract me too much. Sometimes I write in the conservatory in the back of the house. I love seeing our back garden, but it’s quite hard to get the temperature right in there, because it’s too sunny and hot in the summer, and too cold in the winter. Sometimes, I write in a café. I love sitting by a window. Lots of natural light and seeing green spaces help me to relax and get into a flow. To be honest, ‘where’ is not much of an issue for me. It’s ‘when’ that I find challenging…
- Do you write to music? If so, what kind?
No, I don’t write to music. Many years ago a dear friend gave me a CD of Norah Jones and that period back in 2004 was the only time when I used to work to music. Although I love music, I find it distracting. Every time a nice track comes on, I want to bob along and maybe even get up and jig a bit. It can be great to get the creative juices flowing before a writing session, but, for me, it’s definitely not during writing.
- What types of works do you read?
I love books in the young adult genre, real life stories and some self-development books. I’d love to read more. May be one day….
- Who is your favorite author and how has this author influenced you?
Tahir Shah. I love this man. He wows me with the way he can plunge me into different worlds I’ve never visited. I fell in love with Morocco through reading his books. He’s a master of story-telling. I wish I could convey the sense of place as well as he does.
- What is your writing process from inception to completion and publication?
At the beginning, I generated tons of material. When I say tons, it’s not an exaggeration. I have over 300,000 words in various files on my computer. Crafting it into a story has taken me a long time. At least three times now I thought: ‘I got it, this is the message of my book’ and shaped the stories to convey that message. As soon as I thought I was done the story shape-shifted. I’m going through yet another restructuring and revision. I hope this one will get me closer to the publication finish line.
- Are you published? Through a publisher or indie? E-books or print or both?
- Please share a paragraph or two of a work in progress.
Here’s the opening to my book ‘Where Black Rivers Meet’:
Kirovabad, Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, 1981.
‘I love you,’ Mama said, touching my forehead with her cool lips.
I looked at her and it seemed her olive skin was greying, lips had the colour of old newspapers, black hair dripped with sweat. She closed her eyes to reveal swollen lids. She was crying again, I made a mental note. She was leaning from behind the kitchen door awkwardly, and I could only see her head and torso.
‘What’s happening?’ I said.
She did not respond. I tried to enter the kitchen, but she blocked my way.
‘Mama, you OK?’
She remained silent and stood in front of the door. I tried to see past her. The answer to her being so weird was behind her and I wanted to see it no matter what.
- Do you have an agent? If so, how did you get your agent? Otherwise, how do you market and promote your work?
I’m starting the next round of sending query letters to agents in November. Wish me luck!