Writers Blog Tour: Confessions of a Lurker

©Rachael Hale (History Magpie) 2014
©Rachael Hale (History Magpie) 2014

I haven’t taken part in a blog tour before and, to be completely honest, I’m far happier lurking in the background clicking other peoples ‘like’ buttons than being in the spotlight. It’s one of the reasons I love blogging so much and over the years I’ve discovered some incredible people in the virtual world. My favourites are the ones that let their personality shine through their words and give a glimpse behind the scenes.

So, thanks to Angela Buckley, aka the Victorian Supersleuth and author of The Real Sherlock Holmes, for inviting me to join this writing blog tour, I’m now revealing a little bit about my writing by answering the following four questions. Angela has also linked up with the talented author of Shellshocked Britain, Susie Grogan, who blogs over at nowrigglingoutofwriting and the questions were originally posed by Christine Findlay, Chair of Bookmark Blair in Perthshire, Scotland. The best bit about the tour for me though is that, at the end, I get to introduce you to four of my favourite bloggers.

Here goes:

What am I working on?

Kent Life Magazine
Kent Life Magazine

Well in true magpie style I can honestly say a bit of everything. I regularly write for two magazines – Kent Life and Kent Homes & Interiors who, despite first appearances, are totally unrelated to one another. So, one minute I’m snooping around someone’s lovely house asking lots of nosy questions for a ‘through the keyhole style feature’ and the next I’m happily lost in an archive or museum researching a historical event or person for my ‘history scrapbook’ series.

I’m also a volunteer writer for the Kent History Centre, hence their archives frequent appearance on my blog, and, when I can grab an extra moment, I’m either writing blog posts or working on my museum related non-fiction book.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think the greatest difference is that I’m not led by any particular historical era or theme. I love history in general and I’m usually inspired by unusual fact – the type that gets randomly dropped into a conversation when you are least expecting it -or an object, whether that be an entire home or a small personal belonging.

Shoes found in the Hopper Hospital chimney
Shoes found in the Hopper Hospital chimney

Why do I write what I do?

Because I love the quirky stuff.

How does my writing process work?

I would love to say that I’m a super organised writer who has a regular writing slot and sticks to it no matter what, but I’m not. I’m usually a writer in a rush. I have a list of feature deadlines stuck to my wall and a ‘to do’ book filled with notes, exclamation marks and ‘must do this now’ scrawled across it. As soon as I get a new commission, I set up a file for it, write a list of what I need to do for it on designated page in my ‘to do’ book and start my research. Then, as family and work life evolves, I gradually accumulate everything I need until a week before deadline when it suddenly becomes – URGENT!

DSC_0752-001As much as I dread them, deadlines are my personal red hot poker, a date not to be exceeded and I actually work better when I have them. So much so that I frequently give myself false dates in order to try and keep on top of things. I think it all goes back to my last job when I had to account for every six minute block of my working time!

As for the actual writing, I always dread starting something new. I love the editing bit but the thought of getting that painful first paragraph down on paper can have me searching for something, anything, more pressing to do and I know I have a particularly bad case of the ‘blank page blues’ when I find myself doing the housework. If this happens I have to bribe myself back into the chair and will gather everything up and head for a local café that doesn’t have internet access. I then force myself to write an outline and at least 500 words before I leave. And by the time I’ve done that I might as well crack on and finish it. The odd hot chocolate awarded at certain stages also helps.

Right, that’s me done with. Now for the interesting bit.

I’ve been asked to introduce you to some of my favourite bloggers and, being in a greedy mood, I’ve invited four of them to join in as I think you might like reading their words too.

So here they are:

If smelly vision had been invented, Midihideaways by Andreas would be perfect and I love virtually touring France through his blog. Just a quick warning though – his images and descriptions frequently leave me feeling hungry! This is what he has to say about himself:

Andreas lives in a small village in the South of France, which he found purely by chance, some 20-odd years ago. A little while ago a friend suggested that he should write a blog to show the many attractive facets of the Languedoc region to holidaymakers, and that was the start of the Midihideaways blog. New posts appear once a week, and topics are wide ranging, including food, restaurant reviews, places to visit, activities, nature and more.

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Edward Mooney on the other hand has taught me the power of a good photograph and I frequently look at how he has ‘framed’ the main object in his pictures in the vague hope that his expertise will magically pass itself to me over the internet.

Edward is a Kildare based Photographer and married father of three great kids. In his rare moments of spare time, he can be found exploring ancient ruins and castles travelling around the Irish countryside in search of his next Adventure, which he fondly refers to as ‘Ruin-hunting‘. Edward concentrates on combining his passion for photography with his deep interest in History, Old Ruins, folklore & mythology. You can see more of his work at edmooneyphoto.wordpress.com

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Both Nicola Young and I juggle full time family care with a professional writing career and I’m frequently inspired by the variety of topics that Nicola covers. We also have young sons on a diary free diet so her personal experiences and family tried recipes, particularly the cakes, are much appreciated.

Nicola is a freelance copywriter and regular contributor to She Knows UK, an on-line women’s lifestyle magazine. Her blog, Nikki Young Writes, is dedicated to everything Nicola is passionate about: her family, healthy food (including making gluten and dairy free creations for her intolerant son) and her weekly fiction writing link-up. Nicola also writes stories for children and is currently working on her first novel for teens.

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And finally, Hannah Griffin at Ditto. Hannah’s enthusiasm and happiness is infectious and her personality pours off her blog’s pages along with common sense advice on the business side of marketing your business. She frequently posts blogs bursting with colour and I’ve learnt a lot from her. Hannah and her team also designed the gorgeous logo sitting at the top of my blog, which gives me yet another reason to be a fan.

Hannah Griffin is a brand stylist, blogger and Creative Director of family-run branding studio, Ditto. She lives in Kent with her fiancé Dan, a graphic designer, and their two house rabbits. Hannah writes about branding, design and business at dittoblog.com.

Happy reading!

6 Comments

  1. Hannah

    Great post Rachael, and thanks so much for inviting me to get involved. I find it really reassuring that others face similar ‘blank page’ fear that I do. It can be tough to be creative on demand, can’t it?

    1. Rachael Hale aka the 'History Magpie'

      Thanks Hannah, I always amazed at how much power the blank page has. When it gets really bad I use the ‘write or die’ program which starts flashing and making horrible sounds when you stop typing. I’m not brave enough to put it on the kamikazee setting which starts eating your words if you take too long to start again. Do you have any tips for getting going?

      1. Hannah

        My only tip for getting things going is to go and do something else! Which isn’t really all that helpful. I have days where my brain is chattering away with a million ideas, and others where my mind is totally blank. If anyone ever bottles the solution to writers’ block, they’ll become very rich!

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