Hello, Sunshine! (or, the Sunshine Blogger Award)

Happy Friday, and I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week so far! I was so excited and honored over the weekend when I saw that The Soul Whispers Blog had nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award. I’ve never been nominated before, and it put such a big smile on my face. 😊

So, what is it, and what are the rules? Well, quoting directly from The Soul Whispers Blog (and thank you so much for nominating me!):

The Sunshine Blogger Award “is a peer recognition of the inspiring, creative and motivational work done by bloggers. It is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community.”

If you have been nominated:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog. 
  2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you. 
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers to receive the award and write them 11 new questions. 
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

So, here are my answers:

What or whom inspires you?

I’m lucky to live in a community full of creative people, and they inspire me every day to try new things and push myself outside of my creative comfort zone. But beyond that, Dolly Parton. She’s life goals. Her constant creativity, her immense talent, her kindness and love for her hometown, her authenticity and her confidence…I just love her. And in terms of writers, Neil Gaiman. I love his style, I admire his flexibility and confidence to work in several different areas, and I just enjoy his storytelling.

What is the last book you read?

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. Highly recommend this entertaining, and pretty quick, read. Next on my list is The Heroine with 1001 Faces by Maria Tatar.

What is your favorite spot in your home?

I quite like my comfy writing chair, which sits beside a west-facing window and right next to a cozy fireplace. Perfect for chilly days like today.

Oatmeal chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or neither?

Yes. Give me all the cookies.

What was an unforgettable vacation?

Iceland was amazing, but Wales was just heartbreakingly beautiful. As long as I live, I don’t think I’ll ever forget how I felt walking around in Snowdonia. It was like living in a fantasy novel. So, so striking and desolate and full and alive all at the same time.    

What is your proudest accomplishment?

That’s a tough question. Looking forward, I hope it will be finally finishing one of the many novels I’ve started writing. But for now, I’m really proud of the volunteer work I’ve done, and also proud to have graduated from college (I was one of the first in my family to), and especially proud that I’ve been able to really focus on my writing and creative work in the last several years.

What is your go-to meal?

Spaghetti Carbonara. Simple, fast, filling, and super tasty.

How has a set-back turned into something better?

I worked in Human Resources for many years and made my way up the corporate ladder for a while before losing my interest and my drive. I really fizzled out in my last HR position, and felt like a failure. Then, I took some time to really think about what I wanted and realized that HR was not my path. The problem wasn’t me. It was HR. I left, and I’ve never once looked back, and I’m happier now than I ever was sitting in an office all day.

What is your tool of choice when writing (e.g. journal, notepad, computer)?

I jot ideas down on whatever loose slip of paper happens to be close to me at the time, but I do keep a notebook, as well. When I actually get down to the business of writing, I use my laptop. Oh, and I only use blue ink pens. I don’t know why. It just feels right.

Which do you prefer: a few friends or the more-the-merrier?

Both, actually, depending on the occasion. I love a big, loud party with lots of chatter and music. It’s fun seeing all of my friends together in one place. But I’m also a huge fan of a quiet sit-down with a few people to really spend some time together. Either way, I get a little tired. But it’s worth it.

What brightens your day?

I find joy in lots of different things. My dog and my cat, especially when they want cuddles or when they’re being silly. Time with Graham. A good book, a funny movie. A new tea, or a bite of something sweet. Life’s all about making your own happiness, so I appreciate any little moment that makes me smile.

And here are my nominees (I love all of these blogs, and you should check them out!):

1. Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles

2. Happy Panda

3. Nick West Photography

4. It Ain’t Right Till I Write

5. The Skeptic’s Kaddish

6. Steve’s Country

7. Joseph E Bird

8. Social Bridge

9. The Alchemist’s Studio

10. My Inspired Life

11. The Plein Air Experience

And my questions for them:

1. What is your favorite time of day to create (be it writing, art, photography, etc.)?

2. If you could meet one person from history, who would it be?

3. Pizza or sushi?

4. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done yet?

5. What’s one fear you’ve conquered?

6. Winter or summer?

7. The mountains or the beach?

8. Stealing from The Soul Whispers Blog, what/who inspires you? (It’s a good question, y’all!)

9. If you could go back (or forward!) in time, would you?

10. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

11. Do you collect anything? If so, what?

(And of course, there’s an implied “Why?” in all of these questions. 😉)

This was really fun! And it was exceedingly difficult to choose only eleven bloggers to nominate. So here’s a thought: Should I do a monthly feature where I link to other blogs I read? Is that something y’all would enjoy? If you’ve stuck with me this long, let me know! There are so many wonderful creators in this community, and I’m just constantly inspired by all of you. 😊

Bonus Post! More Q&A!

Y’all, I missed some questions! With apologies to Shivani (whose blog you should definitely visit!), I’m answering them now. Because they’re good questions. 😊

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When writing a story, what’s the first thing you take care of?

It varies. Sometimes a voice will come to me first and I’ll start with a character, and sometimes, I’ll have a setting in mind. It just depends on what kind of mood I’m in that day and what’s standing out most to me. That being said, the first thing I usually do when I sit down to write a story is to make myself a cup of coffee (sometimes tea, but usually coffee) and to write a few journal pages, just to get any messy thoughts and anxieties out of my head. I find everything comes out a little more smoothly after that.

How do you decide on a catchy title for a story?

Honestly, I have no idea, and sometimes, I don’t. Choosing a title is sometimes more difficult for me than actually writing the story. It’s usually the last thing I do in the process, and by then, I just hope that the story is good enough. My best advice is probably just to keep it simple. The story’s the real work and the real reward.

EDITED TO ADD:

Are you sure your house isn’t haunted?

LOL, no! It’s almost 3:00 a.m., and I’m still up writing, and the washing machine just turned itself on and off twice in a row. Do you think the ghosts want me to go to bed already so they can do their ghost things before the morning?

Q&A! (Long promised, finally delivered!)

As promised, here I am with a Q&A. Hope you enjoy it!

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Why did you start this blog?

I started this blog back in 2016. I’d left a corporate job to pursue writing full time, and starting a blog as part of that shift just sort of felt like the sensible thing to do. It never felt quite right, though, and looking back, I realize now that I was scared. I didn’t want to put my creative writing out there, because I was afraid people wouldn’t like it. And I didn’t want to share too much of myself, because I was afraid people wouldn’t like me. I more or less rebooted this blog (and myself, really) in very early 2020, after my grandmother died. She was my last grandparent, and cliché as it sounds, losing her made me realize how fast life goes, and how quickly everything can change. I stopped worrying about being liked, and started thinking about what I wanted to create and how I could get it out into the world. And here we are today.

What do you have in mind for the blog in the next three months?

More stories, more poems, maybe a couple of travel posts. I’m also really intrigued by the six-word stories I’ve been reading, so that would be fun, I think. And I’ve thought about incorporating more posts about my writing process, and more inside looks at how I build stories. Is that something y’all would want to read? Let me know!

Weren’t you going to start a YouTube channel?

Yes! And it’s coming, I promise! My non-writing life has been pretty unexpectedly chaotic this year, and I’ve had to put off really digging in and getting started making videos, but I’m still planning to make it happen. I might even write some posts about how it’s going, once I get started. 😉

Still working on your novel?

Which one? I mean, yes. I have a love/hate relationship with my novel(s) at the moment. But we’re working through it.

Who’s your favorite writer?

Neil Gaiman. I’m also very fond of Kazuo Ishiguro.

What’s your favorite book?

That’s like asking me to pick a favorite star in the sky! I really like Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I read it many years ago and it’s stuck with me all that time. Recently, I’ve been reading Yona of the Dawn, which is a manga series and yes, I know that’s not the same thing as a book (or is it??), and I’m really invested in the story. Would recommend. And I still find myself thinking about The Song of Achilles, which I read at the beginning of this year. So, so good!

What does your name mean?

My personal name? Katie means “pure.” My mom chose it because she liked it. I’ve come around to liking it, too, but I desperately wanted a more unique name when I was a kid. I think a lot of kids do, actually. As for my blog name, I’ve lived in Virginia all my life, and I love it here. There are lots of places I’d like to see, and I can’t wait to be able to travel again, but no matter where I end up, Virginia will always be home.

Have you ever visited Waterford, VA?

Yes, I have! It’s a lovely little village here in Virginia, named after the one in Ireland, I believe, with some interesting Quaker history and lots of immaculately preserved historic structures. Graham and I actually looked at a house in Waterford, when we were searching for a historic home. It was our second choice, but a strong one, and I think we would have been quite happy there. Or in Ireland.

Tell me more about your house.

Well, I’ll start by saying that you don’t live in an old house so much as you experience it. And you’re not really the owner of an old house so much as you’re the steward. At least, that’s how I’ve always looked at it. I grew up in a small town with lots of history, and two main streets lined by beautiful old homes, and it was always a dream of mine to own a historic home of my own. It took over a year to find the right one.

Is it ancestral?

No. It’s housed many a family in its long lifetime, and I’m sure Graham and I won’t be the last.

Did you restore it?

We’ve done a few projects, and we have a few more to do. We bought it in good shape, though.

What’s your favorite part of the house?

I have several! I write in a comfy chair by the window and fireplace in my living room, and so I’m quite fond of that spot.

I also love the stone walls in the basement.

And the view. I love the view.

And I know it might be hard to believe, but I really love my small, practical kitchen.

Easy to use, but more importantly, easy to clean!

Is it haunted?

Depends on who you ask. Graham doesn’t think so and I’m pretty sure it’s not, but some of our friends are totally convinced it is. Either way, I think it’s a happy house, and we’ve always felt very comfortable. I did have a friend ask to come in and do a ghost hunt, and I was like, “No! Absolutely not! I have to live here when you leave!”

Tell me a funny story about when you were in school.

Here’s me, in high school, playing Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

I once argued with a high school English teacher over whether Welsh sounds like French. (It doesn’t.) I should have just kept my mouth shut, but I was the kind of kid who…well, who just couldn’t. I also got in trouble in kindergarten for using paint brushes as drum sticks. Oh, and I broke my arm pretending to be a monkey on a set of monkey bars (isn’t that what they’re for???). Is any of that funny? I don’t know. I was an academic, musical kid, and I took myself super seriously. It wasn’t until I was out of college that I really embraced my silly side.

Do you have a favorite friend?

I’m fortunate to have a great group of wonderful friends, and since I’ve been working on the Better Friendships podcast, I’ve really started looking at friends and friendships differently. All of my friends bring happiness and value to my life in their own ways, and I treasure them for who they are and for how they each make my life a little better.

What do you think of The Gondwanaland?

I’m a fan! 😊 Thanks for asking, so I could say so!

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And that’s it! This was kind of fun, I admit. Maybe I’ll do another one when I hit 500 followers. We shall see!  

Thank you for 300 followers!!

I’m so excited, you guys! I’ve hit 300 followers (plus a few more!), and I’m so grateful. I mentioned in a post when I hit 200 followers earlier this year (and I think in a previous one before that…) that I’d like to do a Q&A, and I’ve not had a chance to sit down and write everything out yet. So, if you have questions for me, post them below! I promise a Q&A post next week. 😊

In the meantime, thanks to each of you who follow my blog and read my work. I appreciate it so much, and I love being part of this wonderful, supportive, creative community. Y’all are the best!

200 Followers! Thank you! (And last call for Q&A)

Just a quick post today. Over the weekend, I hit 200 followers. Thank you so much for reading! I’m so grateful and this is an awesome community to be part of. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading and for your support!

I’d shared some weeks ago that I’m planning to do a Q&A post soon, so I thought I’d make one last call for questions, since I do have some new readers (welcome and thank you!). So, if there’s a question you’d like to ask me, comment below! And in the next couple of weeks, I’ll post some As to your Qs. 😊

Q&A! What do you want to know?

At the end of last year, I wrote a post about my goals for 2021. I’m normally pretty shy about sharing goals, but I figured putting them out there would help to hold me accountable this year.

Which brings us to today. One of my goals for 2021 is to start a YouTube channel. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I don’t love seeing myself on camera, despite years of being completely and totally comfortable acting and singing on stage. But I do love the idea of sharing stories about old house living, days in the beautiful Virginia countryside, writing poems and stories, music and singing and songwriting, and eventually, when it’s safe again, some bigger travel adventures.

I’m planning to start putting together some content in the next several weeks, once it starts to warm up a bit outside. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to reach out to all of you, wonderful readers and fellow bloggers, and see what kind of content you’d be interested in.

Like, I know my everything about my very old house is fascinating to me, but what aspects of living in an older home would you like to explore? And though I love driving down dirt roads in the country and sampling craft wine, beer, and cider, what would you like to know about Virginia’s historic and scenic countryside?

And as part of the fun, to get started, I thought I might do a Q&A here, so you can all learn a little more about me. I’ve seen other bloggers do this, and I love it. 😊 So, ask away! What would you like to know?

I’ll plan to post some A’s to your Q’s in the next couple of weeks.