#Weekendwanderings Portsmouth Historic Dockyard #ships #history #photos

During the summer we paid a visit to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. It proved to be a fun way to spend a few hours, though it did feel a little strange seeing armed police patrolling what is in effect a museum. I suppose that is just the way things are now.

Anyway, not to dwell on the state of society, the first attraction is HMS Warrior. It’s a beast of a ship and I had no chance of fitting it into one photo.

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The Lost Sentinel blog tour – How writing has turned me into an obsessive learner #amwriting

As promised, here’s the link to my guest post on Louderthansilver.

I hope you enjoy seeing how writing has influenced my learning. And in case you missed it yesterday, I posted some photos of the birds of prey I visited a few weeks ago in the name of research (and because I love them).

Join me again tomorrow for the last day of the blog tour.

A day at Falco West Sussex Falconry #photos #birdsofprey

On a beautiful, sunny Saturday a few weeks ago, I spent the morning at Falco West Sussex Falconry. It was a mother’s day / birthday treat, a chance to research for a character in one of my future books, but mainly I went because I love birds of prey!

This is Phoenix, probably my favourite bird of the day.

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I have plenty of shots of this Harris Hawk, but here are just a couple. The first is a view of it sitting on my arm.

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We also got to fly Crystal (Chrissy) the Barn Owl. She’s tiny and weighs nothing, but is a real stunner to watch fly.

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The above picture is Chrissy sitting on my hand (such a privilege).

There were lots of other owls at Falco, which were brilliant to see but unfortunately my photos aren’t good enough to share.

I love this next falcon, but admittedly can’t remember which type it is. I think it is a Saker Falcon.

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This next bird is a Hybrid bird, clearly part peregrine falcon.

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Finally, I’ve already shared a few photos of this young Buzzard on a Wordlesswednesday post. But I had to show off this photo again because it still makes me smile!

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I really recommend a falconry day if you like birds of prey. Nothing beats having one fly onto your hand and being so close to these majestic creatures.

Tomorrow’s stop on the blog tour is a guest post about ‘How writing has turned me into an obsessive learner’. I mention this experience in the post, so it seems a perfect day to share this with you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these photos as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them.

Launch day bargain £1.99 for 13 Steps to Evil by @sacha_Black #amwriting #writingtips

I love villains!

I love reading about them and I especially love creating them in my own fantasy books. When I heard Sacha Black was publishing a book dedicated to creating evil characters, I snapped up a copy of 13 Steps to Evil. I can’t wait to read this how to book and my review of it will follow soon.

In the meantime, here’s some information about the book. Why not pick up a copy yourself while it’s on sale at £1.99?

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Book Blurb

Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is.

Are you fed up of drowning in two-dimensional villains? Frustrated with creating clichés? And failing to get your reader to root for your villain?

In 13 Steps to Evil, you’ll discover:

  • How to develop a villain’s mindset
  • A step-by-step guide to creating your villain from the ground up
  • Why getting to the core of a villain’s personality is essential to make them credible
  • What pitfalls and clichés to avoid as well as the tropes your story needsFinally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create superbad villains.

Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will help power up your bad guy and give them that extra edge.These lessons will help you master and control your villainous minions, navigate and gain the perfect balance of good and evil, as well as strengthening your villain to give your story the tension and punch it needs.

If you like dark humour, learning through examples and want to create the best villains you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting superbad villains. Read 13 Steps to Evil today and start creating kick-ass villains.

Purchase from: All good retailers, but universal link to all bookstores is here.

Sacha Black Author Bio

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Sacha Black has five obsessions; words, expensive shoes, conspiracy theories, self-improvement, and breaking the rules. She also has the mind of a perpetual sixteen-year-old, only with slightly less drama and slightly more bills.

Sacha writes books about people with magical powers and other books about the art of writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son.

When she’s not writing, she can be found laughing inappropriately loud, blogging, sniffing musty old books, fangirling film and TV soundtracks, or thinking up new ways to break the rules.

Contact Information

General

Email: sachablack@sachablack.co.uk

Non-fiction Website: www.sachablack.co.uk

Fiction Website: www.sachablackbooks.com

Social Media

Twitter: @sacha_Black

Facebook: Sacha Black author page

Pinterest: Pinterest profile

Instagram: Sacha Black profile

Goodreads non-fiction: Sacha Black profile

Goodreads fiction: Sacha de Black profile

Tumblr: Sacha Black profile

Google+: Sacha black profile

Linkedin: Linkedin Profile

Amazon Sacha Black profile

#Weekendwanderings Whitecliff Bay – Isle of Wight

We spent a wonderful summer break last year at Whitecliff Bay. It was late August and the weather was lovely. The sea was even warm enough for the kids to swim in. As I’m preparing to send my son off to the Isle of Wight for his PGL school trip, I thought I’d go for a little weekend wander around the beautiful island.

White Cliff Bay

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One of my favourite places on the Isle of Wight is Shanklin Chine. This gorgeous ravine has been open to the public since 1817. It has a drop to sea level of 105ft. It’s an inspiring place to visit and I plan to use the location in at least one of my future books.

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The Chine leads you down to a beautiful beach.

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I was able to capture a couple of good shots of a local buzzard.

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Finally, some beach art and a gull.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this weekend wander.

#AtoZChallenge M – Mood Music and the Miracle of Life

I’ve had tons of ideas for the M post in the A to Z Blog Challenge. These are a couple of things that have stuck with me.

Mood Music

I had an Q&A session with Book Savvy Reviews this week, here is the link if you missed it (Q&A). One of the questions was did I have any muse music I liked to listen to when writing. I thought I would share a couple of youtube videos of my favourite atmospheric singer/songwriter/musician. He is a totally talented and I love his music – Ben Howard…

Esmerelda – I love this song. It is simply beautiful.

Oats on the water – Hauntingly beautiful and builds to a dramatic conclusion though not over the top. Just perfect and it gives me goosebumps.

Old Pine – This is another beautiful track with lots of nostaliga to it. Lovely bit of acoustic guitar.

Keep your head up – I feel this song has a bit of a life motto ‘Keep your head up, keep your heart strong’. Brilliant song. This link also plays other of Ben Howard’s songs The Wolves, Only Love.

I love every track on his debut album Every Kingdom. It’s worth a listen, maybe you’ll find some mood music to set the tone for your next writing project. Also check out the EP’s Burgh Island and The Old Pine. I cannot recommend them enough.

 

Miracle of life

When I moved into my first house 7 years ago and finally got a garden, I went all out growing my own vegetables. My garden even won a prize for a local competition ‘Best Vegetable Garden.’ Not bad for a first effort!

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This year has not gone so well; the a-z blog, a kitten that climbs the window sills and will no doubt knock over my propagating trays, trying to market Visions of Zarua, and finish the edit on my next book. Something has to give.

I’m sad looking back on these pictures full of life and greenery that I haven’t put much effort into my garden. But it’s only April, plenty of time to set that straight.

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If you want a hobby, gardening is wonderful. Growing from seeds and watching the miracle of life as tiny green shoots appear. Then tending and nurturing the plants as they grow and later enjoying the rewards of your labour, either visually or gathering your crop and eating it.

Time to plant some seeds I think.

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Tomorrow N for notebooks.

Check out other a to z posts here

#AtoZChallenge I – Inspiration

I was lost for Inspiration with ‘I’ and that’s when it dawned on me… Inspiration.

I find getting outside with nature, whether that’s just walking or taking photographs, charges up my creativity. I like beautiful places, but forests have a special place in my heart. These two prints hang in my home, and I love to stare into them and wonder what is waiting beyond the trees.

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Pictures and visual aids really get the ideas flowing. A great place to find these pictures is in magazines. Especially as you can cut the pictures out and keep them with you whenever you need a creativity boost.

I subscribe to some really good magazines that have fascinating articles as well as stunning pictures. Lots of my characters, places and ideas have come from these pages.

My top three for inspirations are;

Country file (also love the TV show on a Sunday)

Lonely Planet

Discover Britain.

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I wrote a post about this a few months ago. Original post.

In the post I revealed how I covered my writing area with pictures to inspire my WIP. That would be fine, but my desk is in a corner of the kitchen so everyone has to put up with my mess. I think it looks great though. I can sit back and stare at these pictures and escape into the world I am creating.

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I told you it was a mess!

Do you have any magazines that inspire you?

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Tomorrow a delicious Jam.

Check here for links to my other a-z challenge posts.

 

#AtoZChallenge A – Amber’s Method: Top 5 #writingtips

Amber’s Method on how to create characters and stories.

(Background – Amber is my 9 year old daughter, but she’s already teaching me a thing or two about writing.)

1. Start with a name.

She uses name books to look up interesting male and female names.

I prefer to make names up, another reason I love the fantasy genre, but I often find the names are not unique and are used in unexpected places. My current W.I.P ‘Garrick’ is actually a London theatre and a nearby road I’d never heard of before. ‘Brogan’ has been an ogre in Sherk. ‘Rike’ has been used in Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy.

2. Use pictures off the internet to create an Inspiration File

If she wants a particular type of character like a fairy or mermaid, or maybe a dark haired 10 year old, she’ll put in the search and look through the pictures. She then copies the pictures into a file that she can use to describe the character and refer to when she needs to. This also works for settings and objects.

My method has always been looking for faces and places in magazines and plastering them around my wall. Unfortunately my workspace is in the kitchen so everyone has to put up with my mess. Using a computer file would be a lot tidier and I would have it will me all the time.

(Pinterest – I used this to give me inspiration for the cover of Visions of Zarua. It’s a great resource, and one I want to put to better use for future books.)

3. Write the story – don’t edit until then end!

I’ve often said to her are you going to change that word (I hate seeing a word underlined in red) but she says ‘No, I’ll edit it at the end.’

4. Don’t show it to others too soon.

I have not been allowed to read her work yet.

Sometimes it makes sense to show restraint and get the work ready for others to see. Also talking about the WIP too soon can kill the spark of inspiration.

5. If you’re stuck use picture prompts, or read other books for ideas.

My daughter has shown me a picture prompt site called Pobble365.com that has a picture for each day of the year to use for inspiration. It also give you a starting sentence or words, and asks questions that can spark story ideas. It’s used in school, so is aimed more at children, but it’s still a fun way to spark story ideas.

I’m looking forward to applying these tips to my writing in the future.

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Tomorrow I’ll be discussing Beta Readers, and then onto some more crafty posts. Right now its off to Hampton Court to spent the day steeped in history and beautiful buildings. I hope to have some interesting pictures to share for ‘H’.

(The pic is of a beautiful fountain at Witley Court, Worcestershire. It’s my picture prompt for the day!)

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Please leave comments and I’ll get back to you this evening. I’m looking forward to checking out some new blogs on this challenge.

Did you guess the object? And my perfect writing holiday.

The object in the photograph below (which I posted it in response to Hughes weekly photo challenge week 12 – games) was of course a footprint, a cast of a wolf footprint to be exact.

WP_20160207_20_50_14_Pro  Thank you, Hugh for picking my picture to showcase on your weekly blog challenge.

It is not as exciting as a fossilised footprint (being only 12+ years old), but it is very special to me and reminds me of one of the most magical and memorable experiences of my life.

I stayed on holiday for a week at Wolf Watch UK, actually within a wolf reserve in Shropshire, England. It’s a brilliant organisation and for me it was a once in a lifetime holiday. Please check out their website Wolf Watch UK to see how gorgeous the place is and the important work they do. I don’t know if they still run holidays, but there are plenty of opportunities to visit the wolves on things like photography days.

(The pictures in this post are not the greatest quality as they are only photos of photos, it was way before my days of digital photography.)

I loved that whole experience. Hearing the majestic and haunting sound of the wolves howling in the evening and early morning – I couldn’t think of a better alarm clock. I would spring out of bed at the first howl (not that easy when you’re 5 months pregnant!) and record their howling on my little palm top computer. I have a sound file that I wanted to share, but the .wav format is not accepted by wordpress. If anyone can tell me how to convert and add sound files I would love to update this post. As it is you’ll have to put up with a rather poor quality image of one of the wolves mid-howl or yawning its hard to tell.

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Back in 2004 there was no TV reception in this beautiful Shropshire wooded valley so it made the perfect writing retreat. I started planning and writing scene for one of my works in progress called Child of Destiny. I hope to finally finish the draft in 2016.

My husband wasn’t that happy without a TV. And he certainly wasn’t keen on the wolf feeding experience.

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I loved my time in the wolf enclosure. Even though I was 5 months pregnant with my first child, I wasn’t going to let that stop me getting up close with these lovely creatures. I think you’ll agree I look a lot happier about it than my husband.

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I’ve always been an animal lover, but my obsession with wolves started when I read Robin Hobbs Farseer trilogy. Nighteyes was, and still is, one of my favourite all time fictional characters. I’d love to have met him.

This holiday will always have a special place in my heart and it’s brought back lots of memories writing about it now. I would love to revisit Wolf Watch UK, but I have a few years to go before my youngest is 16 (age limit imposed for safety reasons).

If you ever get the chance, go along and meet the wolves. The experience will stay with you forever.

I’m taking a few days off social media to finish the edit of my next book. Please do leave comments though, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

 

 

#AtoZChallenge – Are you signing up for April’s blog challenge?

Today I signed up for the A-Z April Blog Challenge. I’m number 757 on the list, so it’s obviously very popular.

I’m still in my first year of blogging, so this is the first time I’ll be taking part. My editor, Alison Williams, recommended it. I look on it as a way to help me blog more, to find new blogs and hopefully build my own audience. It’s also a great opportunity to try out a few new things that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and to share some of my favourite recipes and experiences.

My theme is crafts, or a loose interpretation of it. This is ranging from foraging, soap making, and my very special recipe for Zucchini cake – the kids number 1 favourite cake and it’s almost healthy too.

I’m still stuck on b, k, l, u and x. Guess I’m going to have to get creative.

I hope you can check out some of my April blogs and look forward to checking out yours too.

Follow the link here if you want to find out more about the A-Z April Blog Challenge.