Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

The Writer’s Blog Tour and me!

November has been a hectic and exhausting month, but very fulfilling and productive.  And there have been some real bright spots in amongst all the general minutiae of daily life and the never-ending to-do list!  One of those highlights was an invitation from the lovely Indah Susanti to take part in the Writers’ Blog Tour.

Indah writes over at indahs.com, with the perfectly apt tag line ‘travel story and photography’.  Her images are just stunning, especially those she gets on her underwater adventures.  I am in awe of her camera skills.  She also has a beautiful way of weaving her travel stories, so that you just want to pack your bags and get there.  It is a wonderful blog, so if you haven’t seen Indah’s work before, I can highly recommend you go check it out for yourself.

With a little time to breathe now, I’ve at last got the chance to properly reply to Indah’s invitation.  Of course I am delighted to share my working process for the Writers’ Blog Tour.  What a lovely compliment and honour.

Being the kind of blogger  person that I am, I couldn’t just launch into answering the four standard questions (below).  I like to try to find out the roots, uncover the history and back story to things.  There’s always more than there first seems isn’t there? Well, frustratingly, it turns out that, despite a fair bit of digging, I have spectacularly failed to find the source or history of the Writers’ Blog Tour.

But I did find a nice description of it by Merilyn Simonds, who is a very successful, established author.  She wrote her own post as a participant in the Writers’ Blog Tour, saying:

“I don’t know who started the Writers’ Blog Tour, but I am delighted to hop on. Each writer goes on “tour” for a week, posting their answers to four questions–all at once, or one at a time. At the end of their posts, the touring writers offer links to the postings of those who have gone before in this marvellous literary travelogue. It reminds me of those chain letters that promised you a thousand recipes by the end of the week, provided you send the letter to three friends, and they send it to three friends,…”

I love the idea of a blog writing friends chain letter! I have a vivid memory of being part of a chain when I was young – maybe nine or ten – that involved not a chain letter but a chain cake.  The Herman cake.  Have you ever heard of it?  Perhaps you also joined the chain?  It had a resurgence in popularity a few years ago in the UK, and national newspapers were even writing about the phenomenon.  This excerpt from The Guardian describes it quite nicely:

“For anyone not yet initiated into the ritual of Herman cake creation, it is the culinary equivalent of a chain letter. Someone presents you with a jar of yeasty mix and a set of instructions on when to add sugar, flour and sift or stir it. Ten days on, you divide the mixture into five, pass four jars onto friends and, with the rest, bake yourself a very yeasty and sugary but surprisingly tasty cake.”

Feeding, nurturing and dividing my Herman cake batter to give to friends was a decidedly messy, sticky, and stinky business as I remember.  It involved live yeast  – the house smelled like a brewery!  Writing my answers for the Writers’ Blog Tour chain has been an altogether cleaner, more orderly affair!


Q: Why do I write what I do?

A: I blog about things that I am passionate about, make me smile or ask ‘I wonder why…?’.  Nature and wildlife, my family and home life, cultural observations, books and language, food.  My posts are usually quite upbeat.  Sometimes I take a more sobre tone, especially about wildlife protection and conservation, which are issues very close to my heart.  Although I often write to provide food for thought, I tend to avoid controversy. It’s just not my style!


Q: What am I working on?

A: My blog is an ongoing focus for me.  I’ve not got anything in draft at the moment, but I do try to post at least a couple of times a week.  If it’s a hellish week and I can’t manage anything else, I always find time to do my Word for Wednesday post. It’s my baby, rather than a challenge set by someone else.

I am also working on an idea for a novel.  I say ‘working’….I’d hoped to be able to blitz it during the intense madness of NaNoWriMo, but a heap of different factors have conspired against me.  Such is life I guess.  However, it hasn’t been an all out fail, as the NaNoWriMo focus has given me enough of a push to get some research done and some initial notes down on paper.  I have grown the tiny kernel of an idea into a delicate little seedling. I’m happy with that, as an outcome for now.  And actually it suits the way I work to have some breathing space to think and research before the words come tumbling out onto the page.  I will keep nurturing and nourishing, until next November, when hopefully I’ll be able to give it a really good go.  Watch this space!


Q: How does my work differ from other work in its genre?

A: I’m not sure my blog really fits a particular genre.  I can’t clearly call it a food blog, a travel blog, a parenting blog, a lifestyle blog, a nature blog.  Although it has elements of all of those things, some of the time.  When I started blogging I wasn’t looking to find a niche, I was just wanting to write and express myself a bit more.  It may not find me fame or fortune, but it works for me at the moment.  And the fact that other people read, like and comment on my posts is a massive extra bonus that I never would have dreamed of.  It is such a huge boost to know that someone has appreciated something I’ve written or photographed.


Q: How does my writing process work?

A: I am a researcher and a planner!  I like schedules, and plans and an idea of where I’m going.   I have a rough format for what I’ll be posting on most weeks, although the ideas for the actual content of those posts is usually pretty spontaneous.  I tend to come up with an idea in the morning, let it percolate through my brain and then sit down and write, either during the small window of toddler midday nap time, or in the evening once our toddler is down for the night, my husband is out at the gym and I have an hour of peace and quiet!  It doesn’t always work according to plan, but the intention is there!

I also really enjoy taking part in challenges set by blogging friends.  Jennifer Nichole Wells’ one word photo challenge and Ailsa’s travel theme are two recurring favourites.  I find these kinds of challenges lots of fun.  They are a great way to think quickly and creatively, and I love engaging with other participants and seeing how differently people interpret the same challenge.


So that’s me! I hope you enjoyed the guided tour around my little writing corner.  Was it what you expected? At least it was less messy that a jar of oozing, bubbling, yeasty cake mix.  Mission accomplished!

Now, where do I fit in this Writers’ Blog Tour chain? The links before me were Indah Susanti at indahs.com, nominated by Allane Milliane at packingmysuitcase.com, nominated by Ting Dalton at my-travelmonkey.com.

I already knew and loved Indah’s blog, but the last two I discovered through this Blog Tour process, which is a great plus as they are fantastic reads.  The benefits of taking the time to track back!

And the links in the chain to come after me, so that I can receive those 50,000 recipes, giant box of cookies or whatever else my writerly reward is?  Well, if they’d like to accept the baton, I’d love to hear more about the way that these three writers work:

Each of these writers has such a wonderful written voice, which I am so often inspired by.  I love reading their posts for the perspective and style that they convey.  But don’t just take my word for it!  If you don’t know them already, please do go and pay them a visit.


All that remains is to say a big ‘thank you’ to Indah for inviting me to play along.  If you liked the idea of the Herman cake chain I’m afraid I’ve got no jars of sticky gloop to hand out, but I thought you might like this cake instead. We may all need the sugar fix as we head into the whirling chaos of December in its full festive season madness!


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Big breath….off we go!

With swimming under water, perspective is everything.  If you start thinking about how far you’ve got to go, your mental focus collapses, your body goes into panic mode, and you pretty quickly find yourself scrambling to the surface!  As a regular swimmer I know that the ‘not breathing’ bit under the water would be impossible without getting the before and after ‘breathing’ bit right. And attitude is key.

I’ve trained my body to be able to go the distance, and my mind to trust that it can. I don’t focus on the ascent.  I definitely don’t focus on the fact that I have descended under the surface!  I just try to relax and focus on feeling the water as I slice through it. Totally in the moment.


I feel a lot of parallels with my approach to writing.  If I think about it too much I start to feel myself seizing up; the words drying up as my uncertainties become all-consuming.  But if I just take a really big breath, block out the whirring worries and write, I find my flow and all is good again.  It has worked up until now, anyway!

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath”

(F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Embracing the carpe diem approach, I’ve signed up to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short).  I am going to give it my all but, as a relatively last-minute decision, this isn’t something I have spent months preparing for. I’m not anticipating I’ll get anywhere close to completing the 50,000 word challenge.  But I am playing the long game with this one.  Anything I achieve and learn this year will help me mentally and physically prepare to participate in earnest next year.

As today is the first day of the month-long challenge, this is me taking a few really deep, long breaths before jumping in with both feet and making my descent.  It’s going to be a challenge, but a fun one I hope.  See you on the other side! I’ll be the one looking rather exhausted, in need of a long cool drink, but smiling…hopefully.



My entry for this week’s WordPress weekly photo challenge, ‘descent‘, and my NaNoWriMo pledge to myself!