The Liebster Award

Hello!  A brief respite/continuation of the daily cliffhanger – fret not! The travails of Echo return on Monday with T for Tango (which, as long as you have been paying attention, gives nothing away).  If that last sentence is any anyway confusing, then you might want to look at this summary).

One of the delightful things about the Annual #AprilA2Z/#AtoZChallenge is the opportunity to visit new blogs.  Debs is much better at this than David.  On the reverse side of the coin, you also get a lot of visitors coming and having a look at what you are up to.  Whilst the story we have presented this month is very much an experiment, so far we’ve enjoyed it (the stress, not so much), and we’ve already decided that we’re glad we managed to commit to it.  One of the things that has made the month infinitely more bearable is that we’ve had a lot of positive comments from people that we trust and admire, and we’ve made some new friends – which is part of what the Challenge is about.  One of these new friends is Stuart Nager of TaleSpinning.  Stuart does an excellent line in creepy, paranormal stories and has been doing a series of stories about the Abysmal Dollhouse for the AtoZ Challenge.  This is not everyone’s cup of tea, but Alfred Hitchcock once talked about a ‘good scare’, and Stu’s work is certainly in this category.  His writing is excellent, and he has a flair for the unexpected  – we both rate his work very highly.  He does other stuff as well, so well worth checking his blog out – just beware of the Unfolding Doll…

Stuart has very kindly nominated us for a Liebster Award.  The Liebster is all about paying it forward.  It’s about noticing blogs, particularly those that don’t have thousands and thousands and saying “hey, I like the work that you are doing”.  All good awards come with Rules…

The rules are:
1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you and display the award logo.
2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger sets for you.
3. Nominate blogs that you think are deserving of the award.
4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let your nominees know about their nomination!

Stu! Hey! Yes you!  Thanks man!  *tick*

Stu being the kind, considerate person that he is, is expecting both of us to give this a go: being the kind of cranky, cantankerous people we are, we’ll each answer the questions that he’s set, but we’re going to jointly nominate some blogs and jointly ask some questions.

Anyhoo – Stu asked some questions, and these are our responses (apparently there are bonus points for ‘Why’):


  1. If you could write in any writers voice besides your own, whose would it be? Tricky…I did a #secondthoughts* on how disappointed I was when I returned to one of the books that I loved when I was a teen, and how I realised that it has a lot of problems.  As a writer, I spend a lot of time deleting stuff that I don’t like, in part because I’m still trying to find my own voice.  But to answer the question: I’d probably go with Terry Pratchett.  I love everything he’s written, not uncritically (Raising Steam, for example, has serious problems, IMO), but he has a flair for character driven stories, and I’d like to get better at that.  On the other hand, I’d love to be able to do the diabolical whimsy of Melanie Atherton Allen (see below), so there’s that as well.
  2. What literary genre holds NO interest for you? Erotica.  Not sure why, but my impression is that there is not much depth.  Each to their own, but when you don’t have enough time to read as it is, you want to save that time for stuff that is going to challenge you.
  3. What song with a strong narrative still touches you? I like music, some music, but I’m not really into the lyrics side of things, nor thinking overly deeply about the narrative…Errm…errrm… Right Said Fred the embodiment of look before you leap/measure twice, cut once.
  4. What fictional character do you wish you were?  Richard Seaton – he’s one of ‘Doc’ Smith’s super-scientists who are also incredibly athletic.  Life always seems easier somehow, despite the fact that he’s frequently fighting for his life…
  5. Savory or Sweet? I have an incredibly sweet tooth, but I like savoury as well.  In music, food and probably much else as well, I’m usually more interested in specific examples than in classes of things.
  6. What are “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of?” Hard work – wishes aren’t horses, or manuscripts, or whatever, so sooner or later you have to knuckle down or be disappointed.
  7. You stumble upon a magic rock. Picking it up, you discover something underneath. What is it? A plaster, for the stubbed toe.
  8. Have you had an inexplicable experience? What was it? When I was little, one of my slippers completely disappeared.  No trace of it, when I went to look for it, and it was never seen again…
  9. What fiction book would you recommend to me?
    There are so many great books that I would be pleased to recommend, but it’s difficult to  pick just one that I think you’ll love on such a short acquaintance.  Debs’ choice is excellent, and if you haven’t read it, I urge you to run to the library/bookshop right now, but I’m going to take a different tack.  I’m going to recommend Brian S. Pratt’s Unsuspecting Mage, the first in the Morcyth Saga.  It’s not perfect, but it is very good.  From a writer’s perspective, it’s written in a way that I’ve never come across before or since, I think that you’ll find it interesting for that reason if no other.
  10. What movie or TV show do you love but hate to admit it? Hmmm…I’ve watched some proper tosh in my time, but I don’t think that there is anything that I wouldn’t admit to – although, the girlfriend of a friend of mine once lambasted NCIS in such a way that I then couldn’t admit that I quite liked it.  Mind you, I’m hopelessly out of touch with that now, so…
  11. What does writing mean to you? (yes, I’m stealing it from Shari. Deal).  Writing is a way of trying to a) get my thoughts to make sense and b) quieten the voices… there is something therapeutic about making the letters and words free and then making them do your bidding.

*#Secondthoughts is one of FCBF’s USPs, where we take another look at something with some kind of literary connection.


  1. If you could write in any writers voice besides your own, whose would it be?
    I initially thought of Jane Austin – after all, who wouldn’t want to be able to demonstrate that sharp observation of society and manners, but then I remembered David Mitchell. I read a reviewer who constructively criticised his work before ending with a statement that Mitchell wrote ‘so darn well’ the critic would read any and everything he wrote. I don’t want to write what he writes, but I would like to write ‘so darn well’.
  2. What literary genre holds NO interest for you?
    Like David, I’ve no interest in reading erotica, although it has been suggested that I write it, which I (briefly) considered doing under a pen name. But to this I would add romance and when my primary interest is in people, this may seem odd, for love (and sex) plays a pretty important part in their lives. To clarify, I’ve no real desire to completely exclude these areas, I just don’t want what I read and write to be composed of solely these topics.
  3. What song with a strong narrative still touches you?
    I’ve always wanted to know the full story behind Ode to Billy Joe – a story loaded with pathos, where we are left at the end with multiple whats and whys.
  4. What fictional character do you wish you were?
    None – sorry, but that’s the truth. I like my characters on the page, in their story, and I want to be out here enjoying their tales.
  5. Savory or Sweet?
    Savory – I’d always chose salt over sugar. And that’s probably true in my choice with regard to writing and reading too – anything too sugary is best avoided.
  6. What are “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of?”
    Are you talking Bogie or the Bard?
    Speaking as a Life Coach, dreams are idealised thoughts which you can either choose just to enjoy, or you can decide to do the work to make it a reality.
  7. You stumble upon a magic rock. Picking it up, you discover something underneath. What is it?
    A perfect DSLR, with the most amazing lens covering everything from wide to huge zoom and yet still has the quality of a prime throughout. But in miniature – no more neck/backache from lugging around all that heavy equipment.
  8. Have you had an inexplicable experience? What was it?
    I’ve had frightening experiences – being shot at accidentally for one – but nothing inexplicable, no.
  9. What fiction book would you recommend to me?
    “To Say Nothing of the Dog” by Connie Willis. Wonderfully witty bit of time travel. It’s actually a bit naughty of me, as it was one of David’s picks at our book club, but it led to my becoming open to works of science fiction.
  10. What movie or TV show do you love but hate to admit it?
    OK, hold onto your hat now – “Dawsons Creek”. Yes, that teenage angsty TV series where they’re all impossibly eloquent and beautiful.
  11. What does writing mean to you? (yes, I’m stealing it from Shari. Deal).
    A creative outlet (I cannot draw, paint, sing or dance), it also provides an opportunity to use my organisational abilities for something fun. In the early years, it gave me a methodology of working through stuff that was happening at the time – that created a writing habit which led to fiction.


Grrr…Stu has picked off several blogs that we would have nominated.  Nevermind, if there is one thing that the Challenge provides, it’s some great blogs to check out.  So, in no particular order…

i) Athertons Magic Vapour

ii) L.E.R.T.

iii) Ronel the Mythmaker

iv) Colin D. Smith

v) Planet Pailly

vi) The Quiet Writer

And our questions are …

  1. What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from a work of fiction?
  2. If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?
  3. Who (or what) inspires you and why?
  4. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
  5. What author(s) did you dislike at first but grew into?
  6. Beer or wine?
  7. Which of your characters would you most like to have a beer (or other beverage) with?
  8. You are HG Wells’ Timetraveller, attempting to restart civilisation in the far future: what one book would you take with you to help?  (ebook readers not allowed!).
  9. Book first or film first?
  10. Following on from the previous question, has an adaptation ever ruined the original for you to such a point that you couldn’t read/watch the original anymore?
  11. What was the last book that you read that made you say “[insert favoured cuss], I wish *I’d* written that”?

A final “Thank you” to Stuart for the nomination, a tip of the hat to our nominees (and a reminder that you don’t have to accept), and hopefully we’ll see you next week for the next thrilling installment of our AtoZ Challenge!