Challenge: 10 Books

So this challenge popped into my inbox today. The 10 books you read growing up that have stuck with you, from Write on the World and my list is of course below. I was quite surprised by my own choices and memory of the books that have stuck. I was trying to think way back into the origin of my Fairy and Folk-tale obsession and couldn’t find it. I have always loved Disney so perhaps these films are the cause of my fascination?

I’ve tried to put the books in order of how I remember them, so they’re listed as I grew up and they’re an odd mix! But they all had an impact on my life, reading and writing ambition. I was a voracious reader as a child but time and ‘being busy’ has limited my ability to just indulge in a good book.

  1. Narnia – Horse and his boy – C.S.Lewis

Again this was inspired by a film. We used to watch the animated Lion Witch and Wardrobe over Christmas and on sick days. I absolutely loved it! However I realised that our VHS recording ran out 5 minutes before the end of the film so I saw the Pevensie’s following the white stag and then….well I don’t know what I assumed happened!

But my older brother bought me the box set of the chronicles and I devoured them all. I must have read the whole set about 100 times, but my strongest memories are of the Horse and His boy. I have to admit, that it inspired a few of my early attempts at writing, a protagonist sent away as a baby to protect him from an evil wizard. Excellent work. Talking horses – even better!

The Pevensie’s always struck a particular chord with me in that I have three siblings. Including an older brother (the oldest) and gorgeous older sister. Two son’s of Adam and two daughters of Eve. Narnia, here we come!

So many disappointed attempts to cajole my siblings to climb into a wardrobe…

 

  1. Five go on a hike together / Valley of Adventure – Enid Blyton

There was a definitely point in my life when I was Enid Blyton obsessed. I read everything she’d written that I could lay may hands on. I even asked my Mum if I could go to boarding school and was more than a little bit heartbroken when she said no. So I started writing plays about what it would be like, largely based on Blyton, I have to admit! I planned out props, costumes, stage directions. I don’t think the drafts ever developed beyond coloured pencils on scrap paper, but I was determined.

The two books above are ones that I remember most clearly. Five on a hike has the children and Timmy (their dog) trying to recover ‘treasure’ from the bottom of a river. The scenes where lights are flashing over the moors and Julian is diving in freezing water has stayed with me. Including a love of Ginger Beer (Best hangover cure. Ever. I love how things evolve.) I was also beside myself when my family adopted a dog, not quite called Timmy, but Sammy was close enough.

 

As for the Valley of Adventure this gave me such a vivid image of a exotic jungle location and a secret civilization inside a volcano, that when I read H.Rider Haggard’s She for the first year of my degree, I felt I already knew the landscape and exactly where She resided. Very strange but quite amazing.

 

  1. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge and Heidi from Johanna Spyri

I loved both of these books equally and also feel that mention should be given to Anne of Green Gables as well, for some reason they all a grouped together in my mind. However, Katy and Heidi I always found poignant as my cousin had Cystic Fibrosis. Both Katy and Heidi’s cousin (Claire?) are ill. Katy is bedridden for much of her book after an accident and Claire seems to have a degenerative disease. Heidi definitely brings home the idea of healthy food, fresh air and good simple living. I loved the Grandpa that lived on the hill, and the image of Heidi sleep walking when she stays in the city is still haunting.

Ah just remembered, the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Another haunting novel of a young boy kept prisoner by his illness and inept medical professionals who inflict torture in misguided attempts to keep him alive despite being afflicted by ill-health. Fortunately the protagonist is a rule breaker and sneaks him out of his room and again, fresh air and good fun enact something of a cure. That is how I remember it anyway.

  1. Danny champion of the world – Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was a wizard of words. This was my favourite though, a boy who lives in the forest and tries to pheasant poach with his Dad. I can’t help but remember what Dahl says about baths in this book, and every time I see a pheasant I wonder how it would taste…

  1. Machine Gunners – Robert Westall

I found this book accidentally. It was just one that was in a book case at home and I’d never noticed it before. It’s a powerful portrayal of the second world war. A group of children create their own air raid bunker complete with anti-aircraft defence. My strongest images of WW2 on the home front is a mash of Dad’s Army and this text.

  1. And then there were none – Agatha Cristie

Between the ages of 12 -14 I went through a serious spooky phase and read a lot of Agatha Cristie. The chilling tale of how a group of men and woman are stranded on an island and killed off one by one still gives me nightmares! I think it’s the reason I stopped reading crime. Well a mixture of Cristie and Goosebumps. Too many dark tales. I realised that my imagination didn’t need help coming up with villains.

  1. Dragons of Autumn Twilight – Margarat Weis and Tracy Hickman

When I bought this battered, slightly mouldy copy for 5 pence from a Village Fete I fell in love. Yes Dragonlance has been criticised for bringing stock ‘Knight, cleric, wizard, barbarian etc’ to life but I loved it. It had dragons, it had a brooding half-elf. It had a beautiful princess who turned into leader of armies. After Narnia I’d entered a period where I needed fantasy in my life. Dragonlance opened up a whole series. And from Dragonlance I found Forgotten Realms, Drizzt Do’Urden, the Harpers and on and on. I was bowled away.

  1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I was a teenager when Harry Potter first emerged. My younger brother insisted that he had to have the first two books after reading the first at school. I don’t think he’s ever asked for a book before or after and so my parents were willing to oblige. I however, was far too cool at 13 to jump on any bandwagon! Then I got bored on the way to my grandparents and they were both in the back of the car. I finished the first and then spent the day sat in the loft of their bungalow devouring the second. I was just in time for the third book which is still the best in my opinion. It had enough of my Blyton boarding school nostalgia and my love of fantasy. It had depth, a mystery to be solved and a wrong to be righted.

  1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

I was introduced to Jane and Mr Rochester by the school curriculum and I have to admit that the ‘red room’ scene has inspired a similar claustrophobic and hysterical scene in my own manuscript. I just remember feeling young Jane’s heartbreak and fear at being locked in the room. The chapter still makes me cry. Amazing stuff.

10.Tamora Pierce – Page, Lady Knight then all of the rest of everything she’s ever written

I was so late to find Tamora Piece. I got a random book out the library called Page because it had a girl who was in training to be a Knight and I so badly wanted to be one to. I had to go back the next day and get out the rest of Tamora’s back collection. It was like finding a soul mate. Here was Alanna, Daine, Keladry. The female protagonist’s I’d spent my childhood searching for. I’d found them at long last! I find it really difficult to express my sheer joy at the discovery. It actually hurt. I might have cried a little bit.

One of my outstanding memories of Tortall is when Kel returns after becoming a traitor. She disobeys direct orders from the King to save refugees that had been under her care, and children who would have been murdered in the name of dark magic. Here is my more artistic representation of the moment Kel returns to Tortall and falls to her knees at the feet of the King. Prepared to face her punishment.

It’s been fascinating remember how important these books have been in my life and the decisions and choices I’ve made. I write because I want to return the feeling of euphoria to my readers. That sense that, as a growing child, a young adult, anything is possible.

Have lovely weekends.

Fibi xxx

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Everything is going to plan – Panic!

So this is an update. Hello world! I feel as though I’m emerging out of a cocoon of books, writing, endless of paper with red, purple, blue scribbled notes.

I’ve finished and submitted my MA thesis. Party!!!!

So excited!

And yet…

Scared.

I remember handing in my undergraduate dissertation. I spent the week before it was due scrambling to pull 8000 words together in library. I would swipe in at midday and force myself to write at least 1000 words and then as I inevitably didn’t get that done, by the end of the week I was locked in a private study room until I’d finished the entire thing!

Then I was sat in the library with loads of time to spare the morning the assignment was due. It was beautifully formatted and I had two hours to print, bind and swipe it through the electronic system. I decided to casually browse through the requirements one last time. 8000 words to be handed in, including footnotes. What? Including footnotes. What?! PANIC! Suddenly I have just under two hours to remove 2000 words from my carefully crafted, painstakingly edited dissertation. 2000 words of content and footnotes to remove. Editing, re-formatting, re-reading and hoping that I find all the now half-words and cuts and manage to make everything into a proper sentence again once I’ve gone through with a brutal delete key! 30 minutes to print, dash around the library to find someone from the ‘unhelpful-desk’ to help me use the weird spiral binding machines. Which no-one knew how to use. They were like a dusty alien lifeform, left over from the 1970’s.

I had to run up six flights of stairs to swipe my student card in time. I managed it- just!

The ultimate lesson in how not to finish writing your dissertation.

Much beer was had in celebration.

And then I came back for an MA.

Hand – in this time was not traumatic. It was quite lovely. I was given a cookie by my tutor.

I’d managed to finish writing up a few days early. I spent three mornings re-writing an accompanying critical piece (I have never, never written a draft essay before this! I have to admit, they’re not wrong when they advise you to go back with fresh eyes after a few weeks. Especially if, like me, feedback consists of: ‘needed proof-reading’. Followed by my red-faced realisation that some of the sentences are not sentences and the odd word is missing. Just missing. Not miss-spelled or grammatically incorrect (my undergrad suffered from that) – missing. Anyway, essay was re-done commas’ were moved, reading aloud completed.

And I had a whole day and a half before going to print.

It was printed.

It was bound.

It was handed in.

Where is the panic.

WHAT HAVE I MISSED?!

Nothing. So far, honestly – I think all my hard work has just paid off.

Now I can return to my blog. Hooray!

*dusts shelves & generally spruces up the place*

Just as a further update. My cousin Alex is fast approaching his 8th adventure!!!!!

Good luck to him and the rest of the adventure crew.

Especially the little pony who would. Daisy. She’s going along for this one. I can’t wait for the posters.

I now go to celebrate with a more sophisticated beverage than my undergrad allowed.

I believe!

I’m sure you’ll all be sick of me talking about this, but thank you Daily Prompt for a perfect oppertunity! Another reason to believe….

Currently my reason to believe is the generosity of the people around me. A few weeks ago I put out a call for poems, stories, artwork and photographs to pull together in a book. The purpose of this book was to help raise money and awareness for cystic fibrosis and the fire fighters charity via Alex’s Adventures.
I was overwhelmed by the amount of work I received back, and the immense quality of so many of the pieces.
One of my favourite things is a poem written by my three year old niece about her favourite person. Honestly, it’s inspired! But there are also some gorgeous short stories and many poems dedicated in love to those who have passed on from this world. I’m so proud of the collection and just feel so grateful to all of the contributors who helped make it what it was.
It’s been an emotional journey, pulling it all together but it’s worth it. I hope it does well as all proceeds will go to charity and help raise awareness for things that are close to my heart.
One final, enormous thank you has to be to a friend I contacted, out of the blue just two days before sending the book to print. I asked, because I knew he was into arty things, if he had any illustrations that would fit the theme. His response was just incredible. He managed to get three amazing pictures back to me, for three poems. They are amazing and so beautiful. His website is Unknown Creatives and they come very highly recommended.
If any of you lovely bloggers would want to review this raw and heartfelt collection that would be amazing! Please contact me 🙂

And here it is! You mean the world to me… a collection made and dedicated to love.

I can’t stay mad at you – Occupational Hazard!!

My cousin Alex is doing ten amazing challenges in ten months to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis and the Fire-Fighters trust to mark ten years since his sister passed away due to this destructive disease. In the past four months he must have walked, cycled, horse ridden and kayaked more than 300 miles! Not to mention the miles put down by everyone joining in with the cause. So, to help him I decided to pull together a collection of poems, short stories, flash fiction and art work from friends, family and fellow creative people and create a book that we will be able to sell; all profits donated to charity.
I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the submissions I’ve received and they’re still coming in! The theme is You Mean the World to Me. Now, this post is supposed to be forgiveness based and I’ve named it Occupation Hazard. I’ve come a long way around, but I’m finding it hard to read the submissions. They’re so beautiful and so many of them are raw. I’ll be honest; the first reading of each submission is tending to leave me in tears.
I’m not usually an emotional person. It takes a lot to choke me up and I’m certainly not one to wear my hearty on my sleeve – well, that’s what I like to think anyway! But I keep choking on the words that other people have sent to me, in honour of this amazing cause. Don’t get me wrong by any means. I am LOVING pulling everything together and working on something physical which will both help the charity’s and act as a kind of record for what my cousin Alex is undertaking. I didn’t expect to need a box of tissues when reading through though.
Luckily, after the initial waterfall-inducing whammy of the pieces, I’m able to step back a little bit. Or at least, I know enough of what they each are to put them into a cohesive order for the book. Make me cry once, shame on me, make it happen twice – well…well done your creative geniuses for creating such moving pieces.
I forgive you all though.
Thank you.
Fibi xx

Memory lives

More than her years
So forevermore she will remain
More than one who has left us
Because she stays
In the words that we say
And the ones that we don’t
She’s the prayer on the motorway
For everyone to come home safe
She is the one that we ask
To make things okay
She is the hope in the night
That there will be a new day
We remember a smile
The most beautiful face
She is with us
And with us she’ll stay

This is dedicated to the memory of my cousin Melissa Mould who ten years ago passed away due to cystic fibrosis at the age of 19. Her younger brother is doing ten challenges in her memory to mark this and raise awareness for CF. More information about his adventures can be found here: http://alexsadventure.wordpress.com/

 

This is part of my contribution to the collection of poems and short stories I’m pulling together for Alex’s Adventures. The theme is You Mean the World to Me. I’m currently working on a family related vilanelle but it’s a tricky devil.

This was originally posted on http://poetreecreations.org/ and I would have reblogged however the picture put up with the poem doesn’t quite fit! Sorry guys!

 

Fibi xx

I have a challenge for you, should you chose to accept it…

Apologies to those that have already seen this on Alex’s Adventures in duplicate 🙂

You’ve all seen my discussions, posts and encouragement of my cousin Alex who is undertaking Ten Adventures to raise money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and the Fire Fighters Trust. Alex has completed 3 out of the 10 adventures in memory of his sister Melissa who passed away 10 years ago.

He’s going up all mountains, kayaking, riding, cycling etc and as I have all of the athletic skill and agility as a two-legged epileptic donkey. I’ve been doing my best to support my little cousin (okay, he does somewhat tower over me these days…) but despite wracking my brains for about six months now, I’ve been struggling to think of what I can ‘do’ to really really help out.

But then, I ordered a gift for my Mum for Mother’s Day. A small, self-published collection of short stories, poetry, flash fiction and musings in a cute little hardback and paperback format. They’ve just arrived and I’m so pleased with the quality of the printing and aaah it just looks lush!

It’s like a genius moment.

I’ve realised what I can do.

I can’t climb a mountain. (I can barely walk in a straight line without injuring myself!)

I can however, pull together a collection of poems, short stories, pictures and art. Publish it with the same company I used for my mums gift and pass on any profits to Alex’s chosen charities.

This is a very good idea!

The title of the collection will be ‘You mean the world to me…’ and all of the collected works will reflect this theme in some way.

It could be a story about a loved one, or a poem someone who has passed away, someone that you just couldn’t be without, a friend or family member. It could also be about your favourite teddy bear or a goldfish. It can be as happy or as sad as you like and any length so long as it’s under 2000 words.

So long as it fits the theme, I’d love to see it!

If you’d be interested in submitting a piece then please e-mail me at inkycygnet@googlemail.com

Fibi

Radio Gaga!

How exciting! My cousin’s challenge will be featured on local radio station!

I’m so proud of him and all the hard work that has gone into the past few weeks as he prepares for the first ‘Adventure’ to raise money. It’s just brilliant.

 

Ps. I promise that this will return to a proper blog sometimes soon 🙂

 

Love Fibi xx

8 Days To Go…

I’ve been harking on for the last couple of months about raising money for charity – sorry! But it’s an issue close to my heart.

My lovely cousin, who is doing the 10 adventures in 10 months (yes, he is mad…)has this to say for himself…

 

10 years ago I lost my sister to cystic fibrosis.

In her memory, I want to honour her by doing something which is inclusive of the whole family. I want the whole family to participate in some manner if that be logistics, competing or planning.

10 events was decided upon as I wanted this to stand above something I, or any of my family members has ever done before; when specifically trying to honour Melissa’s memory. Some of Melissa’s key characteristics included strength, determination and a phenomenal desire to push everything to the limit; never taking no for an answer, and never giving up or complaining.

We didn’t want the year to sinply pass as another anniversary without her, instead we wanted to act on it by doing something very different.

Raising money for charity is one of the primary objectives; cystic fibrosis and the firefighters charity will be the two beneficaries of my efforts. Cystic fibrosis as a big thank you for the 19 years of support, help and guidance, which we couldn’t have done without.

Following recent injury, the firefighters charity provided essential physio and rehabilitation, which without this, I would not have use of my left arm!

As Melissa’s immediate family, we feel that the grieving process is over. We want to look back at the times we had with her. The whole family have been somewhat isolated since she died; the purpose of the 10 events is to bond the family, and let the conversation of Melissa no longer be ‘taboo’.

 

He has set up a proper page for donations here:  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=alexs-adventures

I am so excited to see what this year brings. Alex is right, the clouds are lifting and it is time for us all, as a family to celebrate that life of the most beautiful and amazing young lady and set our greiving aside.

My sister completeing her triathalon last year in honour of Melissa said when she finished the race that she could hear Milly in her ear during the hardest moments. Laughing at her and yelling: ‘move your behind!!!!’ or something similar…

Whenever life does get hard and troubles rise, she is the person I remember and imagine encouraging me.

I’m a bit nervous about next weekend if I’m honest. I’ll be accommpanying Alex on the 19th with my Aunt and his Fiance on horseback while he walks. I don’t get to ride very often and I’m by no means an outstanding horsepersonage. But Daisy, the beastie (she really is a lovely beasty) I’ll be riding was Melissa’s miracle pony, rescued as a foal. Daisy was left to Alex and I feel very privilaged to be able to ride out onto the South Downs for the miles that we’ll be doing. I’m sure I’ll turn the experiance into something creative when I return.

Loves Fibi x

In the water

Happy New Year All!

I’m a bit slow on the uptake with well wishings and holiday things this year as I’ve been all around the country and Ireland to see family for the festive season. I hope everyone has had a fantastic year though!

These are some of my favourite photos, I’m actually in them so I’m not taking them this time! (Strange) but I do absolutely love them. I had such an amazing ride on the beach with the lovely Daisy.

Daisy and I have been working hard whenever possible to train ready for our trek on the South Downs.

As previously mentioned my cousin is trying to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis in memory of my cousin Melissa who passed away on the 18th of January 2004.  To raise money, Alex will be attempting ten treks/challenges/adventures in ten months. The first of these will begin on the 18th of January (under two weeks away! Agh!). He’s going to walk the 100 mile route across the south downs over a period of 6 days. On one of these days, Daisy and I, Alex’s fiance and George and my Aunt on her horse Guiness will be accompanying him for support.

Wish us luck!

Fibi

 

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Where I’m hiding…

Hi All!

Life, as before is super busy! I will of course be coming back to this blog to put up little interesting tidbits…

However I’m going to be focusing the spare time I have on a second blog that I’m running on behalf of my cousin.

This blog can be found here: http://alexsadventure.wordpress.com/

My little cousin (okay, so what he’s about a foot taller than me and not so little!) will be attempting to complete 10 challenges in 10 months to raise money for charity.

I hope that you’ll all join me in my support for Alex and the work he wants to do. He’s a very brave individual and I’m very proud.

So if you miss me and i’ve not posted here, there is a good chance I’ll be over there. Still writing away 🙂

Wish us luck!

Fibi xxx