I’ve been long-listed for the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016! @BlogAwardsIE #blogawardsireland

blogaward


I am delighted to have made the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 Long-List in two categories; Arts and Culture, and Books and Literature. If the judges consider me worthy of short-listing, the winners will be chosen by public vote, so I may be enlisting your help in the not too distant future.



In the meantime, congratulations to all my fellow nominees, particularly lovely Blogger-Friend Tara Sparling, who I am up against in one of the categories, and she is a former winner… gulp! Exciting times! Wish me luck!

You can check out the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 here.


Oh and by the way, some more great news: I’m off to university in September to study for a BA in Celtic Studies and Irish Medieval History! Nearly 50 and starting university… I must be crazy! 😤😄😃‼

#BloggersBash Myth 2016: Part Two The Pyjama Party

Two lonely figures made their way cautiously up the loooong winding drive.

“Could do with some lights. It’s pitch black around here,” complained Hugh, looking nervously over his shoulder and walking headlong into a gold plated lamppost.

“Ouch!” He rubbed his tender hooter.

“Matches his dark soul,” replied Ali. “You OK?”

“I’b fide.”

“What?”

“I said… oh, forget it.”

The mansion reared up like a forbidding dark shadow ahead of them.

“How does anyone afford a palace like this in the middle of London unless it’s through ill-gotten gains?”

“He was a solicitor in the 80s. Of course it’s through ill-gotten gains!”

“Well he’s obviously trying to save money on his leccy bill then,” said Hugh, stubbing his toe on the diamond studded kerb.

“Look, we’re here now. Ring the bell.”

“No, you ring the bell.”

“Fine.”

Ali pushed tentatively at the doorbell, and from somewhere deep inside the house the muffled sound of chiming reached them.

“No one’s home,” said Ali, and turned to leave.

“But what about the Pyjama Party? I’ve brought my best sparkly pj’s with the glittery collar and my favourite nightcap.”

“You wear a hat in bed?”

“Hardly.” Hugh grinned. “It’s brandy.”

“Ssshhh. Someone’s coming.”

Slow shuffling footsteps could be heard pacing on the other side of the door.

“D’you think it’s a ghost?”

“I don’t think ghosts shuffle, do they?”

“Only when they’re dancing.”

“There was no mention of dancing on the invite.”

“No one said anything about ghosts either.”

“Must be a very long hall. We’ll be dead and buried by the time the door opens.”

With that, the steps stopped. Hugh and Ali clutched at each other nervously as the door began to creep slowly open. Light spilled brightly onto the stone steps, making them blink as they tried to focus on the shadow silhouetted in the door way.

“Hello chaps! Just in time for dinner,” said a voice they recognised.

“Geoffle!” cried Hugh with relief, and bounced through the door.

“We thought we’d got lost and arrived at the wrong house. Your directions were a little… confusing,” said Ali as she followed Hugh inside.

“What’s with all the shuffling? Have you injured your leg?”

“You try walking in these cute fluffy bunny slippers, and see if you get on any better. The Textiliste insists I wear them when we have guests. She’s not keen on me showing my toes. Makes me wear socks with my sandals, too.”

Hugh took a closer look, and blinked. “Are they real bunnies, Geoff?”

“Yes, but it’s Ok, they’re dead. The Vet shot a couple out on the grounds this morning. I needed a fresh pair. The others were getting a bit whiffy, and they don’t fare very well in the old washing machine.”

“Love the nightshirt,” said Ali, stifling a giggle.

“Yes, turned out rather well. I’m thinking off extending the official line of Bloggers Bash merchandise with these. I’ve had boxers and padded bra’s printed too. Wanna see?”

“No thank you!” Hugh and Ali chorused hastily.

“This way then chaps.”

The dining room stood at the other end of the hall, past many intriguing closed doors. Inside, a large polished mahogany table was set at one end with five places.

“Five?” Ali raised her eyebrows enquiringly.

“You’ve been spending too much time with Sacha,” Geoff commented.

“Talking of whom, where is our glorious leader?”

“She’s been upstairs painting on her eyebrows for the last hour.”

“Well, they are a work of art. They’re very mobile. If she makes a mistake, one of them will arch a little too high and completely flip off her face. Beauty takes time, you know.”

“Surprise!” At that very moment, Sacha flounced through the doorway, wearing a steampunk nightdress in black brocade overlaid with a velvet corset with genuine authentic steel boning. She waggled her eyebows. “What d’you think?”

Ali gasped. “They’re PURPLE!”

“Yes, I thought I’d brand them with the Bloggers Bash colours this year. Beat Geoff at his own game.”

“Gorgeous!” said Hugh.

“As ever,” said Geoff, taking her hand and leading her to the table. Which is just as well, because she could barely walk. She collapsed gratefully into a chair.

“Bloody Leboutins,” she grumbled kicking them off under the table. “I don’t know how I’m going to manage in them all day tomorrow. Might need a wheelchair at this rate.”

“But they do give amazingly good toe cleavage,” said Geoff appreciatively.

Sacha levelled a hard stare at him. “You got a secret foot fetish we should know about? Is that why the Textiliste makes you keep yours covered? Ali, Hugh, make sure you keep your socks on tonight.”

“Let’s eat,” said Geoffle, changing the subject hastily. He picked up a slender silver bell beside his plate and shook it. Immediately, a food trolley was rolled in by…

“Urszula!” gasped Sacha. “What are you doing here?”

“I got lost following Geoffle’s directions, so he agreed to take me in for the night providing I cook up a fabulous vegetarian feast.”

Ali and Hugh nodded their heads in sympathy.

“But… the Bash isn’t till tomorrow,” said Sacha.

“I know, but I like to arrive early.”

Urszula served up the feast, and took her seat at the table. It didn’t take long for the committee to inhale the grub… partake of the delicious offerings with the delicate manners and grace of a sty of pigs.

“Wonderful,” sighed Sacha with great satisfaction. “I haven’t eaten real food in weeks.”

“We have serious matters to discuss, ladies and Hugh,” said Geoffle, lighting a cigar. “The small matter of the BOOB.”

“Well you seem to be in the know, Geoffle. We’ve seen enough to guess at your gangsta background. We think you’re the BOOB.”

Geoffle spread his hands and assumed an innocent look. “Come on. I may be a tit at times, but I’m hardly a BOOB.’

“It’s not Geoffle,” said Sacha, looking thoughtful. “But it’s clearly someone with inside knowledge.” She looked at Urszula. “Funny how you turned up tonight so conveniently.”

Urszula laughed. “It’s not me. If it was, you’d all be dead by now. I’d have poisoned your food.”

“Don’t look at me,” said Ali. “It was me and Goeffle who saved the day last year, remember?”

“True,” mused Sacha. “That leaves…”

Everyone stared at Hugh, who flushed bright pink.

Sacha’s eyes narrowed. “It’s the perfect disguise. Everyone loves you. You’re the Chief Hug Master. You have legions of adoring fans. No one would suspect you.”

“But I love the Bash, and I love all of you. I would never sabotage the Bash,” Hugh protested, looking greatly upset.

“But you did write The Truth App.”

“That was just a story. But this monster we have created, this Bloggers Bash is real, and it’s my baby just as much as yours. I would never hurt it.”

Sacha grinned. “Just kidding! No one as lovely as you could be capable of doing something so dastardly and despicable. But we need to be vigilant tomorrow, just in case. I suspect there are BOOBs everywhere.”

“If one of them comes anywhere near the Bash tomorrow I’ll bonk ‘em over the head with this!” said Ali fiercely, whipping out her shilelagh.

“My, that’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen,” sighed Hugh. “Is it new?”

“Surely is. Specially carved from magical hawthorn by the fairy king himself for just such an occasion.”

“Will you two stop thinking with your shilelaghs and concentrate for a minute?” snapped Sacha, both brows arched to the max. She delved into her dainty postage stamp sized vintage Victoriana lace handbag and pulled out a wad of red envelopes. Then she pulled out ten small boxes.

“Wow! You have a handbag like a Tardis,” breathed Ali, enviously.

Sacha gave a smug smile. “It’s Sacha Black Magic. I need it for carrying all my make-up and my airship puncture repair kit around.” She looked around at them all. “The day has finally come. Tomorrow we open these little red bad boys and announce the winners. Then we present these super duper luxury one of a kind awards. Are you ready for this?”

There was a solemn nodding of heads.

“Right. You…” she pointed a purple talon at Hugh. “Go and get your bottle of pink sparkly stuff so we can dye Geoffle’s beard. And you…” she turned to Ali. “Go and get your PJ’s on, and Geoffle, pour us some Champers and let’s get this party started.”

No one noticed the dark shadowy figure which had been peering through the window as it turned and slipped noiselessly away into the night…


ABBA 2016

You can read Part One of the Bloggers Bash Myth here.

You can read last years Bloggers Bash Myth here.

And if you want to know more about BOOBjust take a look at this, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!


As you are reading this, I am already on my way across the sky from Ireland to London! Keep your eye on our Facebook page, and on our Twitter hashtag #Bloggersbash to catch up with everyone as they set off on their travels to the Bash.

See you tomorrow, Bloggers!

 

The #BloggersBash Agenda and Who’s Who

London skyline2You’ve all been asking for it… and now you’re gonna get it! The Bloggers Bash Agenda, that is. I can’t believe that it’s already nearly a year since the very first Bloggers Bash. When Sacha, Geoffle, Hugh and I sat down to our first Google Hangout to discuss Bloggers Bash 2016, it seemed ridiculous to even contemplate it so soon after the first one, yet here we are, only 16… yes, SIXTEEN days to go, and I can honestly say the time has flown by.

We are really looking forward to seeing all our old friends from last year again, and meeting all our new ones too. It’s an extraordinary experience meeting a blogger for the first time when you have known each other for ages on WordPress. I’m so excited!


what will the day look like?
1:00 PM
Arrival and registration
2:00 PM
Welcome Address from Sacha
2:30 PM
Presentation of first two ABBA awards
3:00 PM
Presentation from Luca Sartoni, GROWTHKETEER AT AUTOMATTIC
Introduced by Geoffle
3:30 – 4:45 PM
Presentation of ABBA Awards
4.45 PM
Closing Speech from Sacha
Food will be served throughout the afternoon
Hugh will be circulating during the event, capturing the day on film

who’s going to be there?

In no particular order. Please feel free to drop by the virtual homes of your fellow bloggers and say “hi”, by clicking the links. Have fun!

Lbeth 1950
Nutsrok

Shell Baker
ChellesBookReviews

Noelle Holten
Crime Book Junkie

Judy E. Martin

Sherri Matthews
A View from my Summerhouse

Lucy Brasier
Secret Diary of Porter Girl

Helen Jones
Journey to Ambeth

Linda Hill
Linda’s Book Bag

Cynthia T. Luna
Living in Cyn

Lucy
Blonde Write More

Ritu
But I Smile Anyway

Rich Moran
Wafflemethis

Esther Newton
EstherNewtonBlog

Marje
Kyrosmagica

GraemeCumming

Barb Taub 

Julie Lawford

Suzanne Cronnolly
Suzie Speaks

Thalia
April4June6

Christina Philippou
Writing Round the Block

Rosie Amber

Alison Williams
Alison Williams Writing

Amanda Lyle
Inside the Life of Moi

Simon Farnell
Universe of Possibilities

Dwane Bickersteth
The Rantaman

Adam Dixon
Adam Dixon Fiction

Christoph Fischer

Shelley Wilson
I Write. I Read. I Review.

Emma Robertson
Hello Emma Kay

Sarah Hardy
By the Letter Book Reviews

Urszula Humienik-Dworakowska
Confessions of a Broccoli Addict

Steve Tanham

Loretta Milan
Literary Lightbox

Becky Brown
It Caught My Eye in Portugal

Ruth
Image and Word

Dave Robertson
Misty Books

Lauren Wills
My Kind of Movie

Alex
Alex Raphael

Willow Willers
Willowdot21

Mary Smith

Erika Kind

Steve
Steve Says

Mick Canning
My Writing

Elouise de Souza
Thoughts by Mell0-Elo

Annika Perry’s Writing Blog

Constantina Kaponi
LondonHealthMum

Olga Nunez
Just Olga

Judith Barrow

Luca Sartoni

Sacha Black

Geoff Le Pard
TanGental

Hugh Roberts
Hugh’s Views and News

Me (Ali Isaac)
Aliisaacstoryteller


So that’s everyone! Hope I haven’t missed anyone off the list. Have fun getting to know one another before the big day, if you don’t already, and see you all there very soon. Any questions? Check out the FAQ on Sacha’s blog. Geoff will be posting directions to the venue on Thursday 2nd June, and if you still haven’t voted for your favourite bloggers, you have until Thursday 9th June.

I got nominated…

champions-awards
#championsawards http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

For a #championsaward by the lovely Hugh Roberts, thanks Hugh! I met Hugh last summer at the Bloggers Bash in London, although we had already spoken several times on the phone as part of Sacha Black’s Bloggers Bash hit squad.

I adore his blog, Hughs Views and News, as not only does he write very entertaining short stories, but he knows a lot about blogging, and regularly shares all his tips. I’ve learned all sorts of stuff from him, like how to copright my blog, how to back it up, how to organise it and make it more user friendly, and how to write a great ‘About Me’ page… although I’ve yet to update and implement that one. As well as all this, he is a fabulous and supportive friend who is fond of dishing out hugs when the occasion arises.

In return, I would like to share the love and nominate some of my favourite bloggers for this award. In no particular order, they are…

Jane Dougherty

Sacha Black

Ed Mooney

Cybele Moon

Helen Jones

Elissaveta Marinova

I’ve chosen these six bloggers because their posts bring me such pleasure in the mornings, and also because they are genuinely such interesting, knowledgeable, talented and lovely people. If you don’t know them, click on their names, you may just discover your new favourite blog!

If any of my lovely nominees choose to accept their award, and there is no pressure to do so, this is all you have to do…

Recipients, if you choose to accept and wish to propagate the CHAMPIONS AWARDS, please do the following:
1.Post the Award Sticker on your blog, with the hashtag #CHAMPIONSAWARDS
2.Acknowledge the sponsor of your Awards.
3.Choose at least five of your own nominees and advise them accordingly, attaching these 5 guidelines.
4.Keep it simple… no need for explanations for the Awards… we know how great these folks are.
5.You are free to give out these Awards as frequently as you wish.

The Champions Awards is the concept and brainchild of the highly successful and quite charming blogger and author, Mr. Seumas Gallacher.

Friday Fantastic Flash with CS Boyack


Author and blogging friend Craig Boyack responded brilliantly to my recent call for participation in my new feature Friday Fantastic Flash, so without further ado, here is his masterpiece.


“Captain Stevens, the pressure on the hull is building again! I don’t know how much longer before it crushes,” Ensign Lola said.

I buckled myself in my chair. “Everyone buckle up. Boost the shields to the pressure points. The last time the pressures were followed by that awful shaking.”

“Pressures seem to be coming from the top and bottom of the ship. Like being in a big vice. I can divert some power from the sides, but it’s just a guess.”

“Do it!”

“Pressure is easing up, but we’re in motion again.”

“Hang on everyone.”

The ship moved violently from side to side. The sudden change in direction reminded me of a whip cracking. Half the crew would be in sick bay tomorrow if we survived whatever kind of storm this was. It wasn’t bad enough to risk landing here for fuel, we might need more repairs than we could handle after this.

The lights failed, and emergency lights cast a shadowy glow across the cabin. “Try to get a fix on where we are now. If we have to send an emergency signal, we need to tell them where we are.”

Lola paused. “We haven’t moved far at all. It’s almost like some kind of vortex. We don’t have enough power to break free, and all we can do it ride it out.”

“Damages?”

“Some surface damage to the upper part of the ship. The bottom has some too, but not as bad. We appear to be coated with a watery type substance.”

“Not unusual for a storm, right Lola?”

A creaking pressure silenced us all. Lola focused on her terminal and worked on the shields in silence.

“Well?” I asked.

“So far so good, but we can’t take another round of this.”

***

“Honey, grab her while I finish folding this blanket and putting our lunch away.”

“She’s okay. She’s just sitting in the shade being happy.”

“I know, but I want to change her diaper before we drive back to your mother’s.”

“Hey, big girl. What ya got there? Somebody’s old toy spaceship. That’s nasty. Daddy will buy you your own someday. Honey? Do we have her teething ring in the cooler?”


I have just finished beta-reading Craig’s most recent work, a collection of short stories entitled The Experimental Notebook of C.S. Boyack, and let me tell you, it’s GOOD! If you enjoyed his flash piece, you will LOVE his book… out soon, watch this space. In the meantime, you can content yourself with one or all of his other books, available on Amazon, of course, each one a cracking good read; I know, I’ve read ’em!


Deception 2

And so to this week’s Friday Fantastic Flash Challenge. Deception and lies. You discover someone has not been honest with you. Why? All is not as it seems beneath the surface. How do you feel? What do you do about it?

You can submit here, I will feature one story each week and include links to your blog and books. Entries must be under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. I really hope you will join me and take part in the craic!

#Bloggersbash | What I learned about Bloggers and Blogging

I know you’re probably fed up of hearing about it, and I promise this will be the last you see of it on this blog… until next year, that is!

The #BloggersBash 2015 is over. We had a great time. We honoured our favourite bloggers with awards. We ate, drank, and chatted. And it was quite an amazing experience.

On Friday, as I drove to Dublin airport, I began to wonder what I had let myself in for. There was no turning back now. I was boarding a plane for the UK capital, being picked up by Sacha Black, who I had never met before, who was kindly taking me into her home and making me dinner, before going on to my hotel in a town I’d never visited before.

The next morning, I was meeting twenty or so other bloggers, none of whom I had met beyond communicating via our blogs, and with Geoffle, Hugh and Sacha, we were going to stage the first  ever Annual Bloggers Bash Awards. To say I was nervous is an understatement.

I’ve never been good in a crowd, one to one is more my thing. To draw attention to myself by presenting an award, well, the thought of it turned my knees to jelly. So it was with some degree of trepidation that I took my selfie in the airport and dutifully posted it on Twitter. Can you see the terror in my eyes?

Of course, I needn’t have worried. Sacha put me at my ease immediately. By the way we gabbed non stop all the way home, you would think we had known each other all our lives!

The next morning, we met Geoffle and Hugh slightly ahead of everyone else so we could get everything straight. Again, it was like meeting old friends. And then, onto the statue of Newton outside the British Library, where a circle of Bloggers had already assembled… this was it!

We stood nervously around for about two minutes, but by the time we had introduced ourselves, posed for pictures, and horror of horrors! said our piece on video at Hugh’s request, we had already begun to relax and form little knots of like-minded bloggers.

As the day passed (way too quickly!), I realised a few things;

Bloggers are shy. There’s no getting away from it. That’s why we blog, rather than star on the stage, radio, or in movies. We don’t like being the centre of attention. This was nowhere more apparent than when winning bloggers stood to accept their award.

What you see is what you get. Every blogger I met was exactly as they portrayed themselves to be on their blog. No airs and graces, no hard frontage, no act. Just genuine.

Bloggers have something to say. They may not choose to get on a soapbox to say it, or wish to debate and argue, but you would do well to listen, because it took a lot of thought before it went up on their blog. It’s why they started a blog in the first place. And it comes from personal experience.

Blogs are addictive. Bloggers love blogging. Once they start, they just can’t stop. Why? Because they get instant feedback on whatever they post; because by blogging they have entered into a unique community of like-minded people; because it is such freedom to be able to say exactly what you want, without interruptions, to other people who ‘get’ you.

Blogs are not a selling tool. Which is contrary to everything we have ever been told. Experience shows us this. Other bloggers confirm it. Who cares? That’s not what it’s about any more, anyway. Besides, it’s such FUN!

Bloggers are not anti-social. This is what non-bloggers think, because we are often up blogging in the middle of the night, spending our time with ‘virtual’ friends from all around the world, rather than with our local flesh and blood friends. It’s not true. Bloggers like eating, drinking, going to pubs and parties, etc, and chatting just as much as anyone, and Saturday was proof of this.

Bloggers are easy to talk to. Yes, we are. Bloggers are not aloof, hiding behind the specialised knowledge on their blogs. They are open, honest, and welcoming. They share information, experiences and expertise. And feedback will generally be constructive at the very least.

Bloggers look like their bio pics! They really do… except for Sue, who has ditched the beautiful red locks to return to her softer, natural colour, and very lovely she looked too! Personally, I have acquired a few more lines since my bio pic was taken, but generally, it was easy to identify each other.

Blogging takes up too much time. Blog posts take research, and header images, before you even start writing. It all takes time. Time you should be spending on finishing that novel, editing, cooking dinner, playing with the kids, going on dates with your partner, walking the dog, doing your day job. It has to be managed and scheduled, but that’s easier said than done. Whatever you do, you feel guilty about what you’re not doing.

Blogging unites people around the world. It makes the world a smaller place, a global community. Bringing people together like this can have quite a positive impact. Think of 1000 voices speak for compassionor helping a fellow blogger going through difficult times, or aiding a courageous individual in his support of a worthy cause.

I could go on, but luckily for you, I won’t, as midnight has already been and gone. As Sacha says, bloggers ‘burn the candle at both ends, and in the middle’. Suffice it to say that it is looking very likely that there will be another #BloggersBash with associated ABBA’s next year, and that it is going to be bigger and better than ever! Hope to see you there.

Friday Fantastic Flash

Headstone in cemetery with flowers for concept of death and loss

Flash Fiction Friday is a new feature on aliisaacstoryteller, which will run in conjunction with The Friday Fiction. I am inviting all you authors, bloggers and readers to join me and have a go. You can submit here, I will feature only one story each week. Entries can be on any subject, so long as they are under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. I really hope you will join me and take part in the craic!

So here is my entry to kick it all off.


Birth Mother

“You’re not my real mother!”

She recoils, as if I have stabbed her with a real knife, not just the sharp edges of my words. Her pale lips tremble, the voice they issue so frail I can barely make it out.

“I nurtured you, reared you, devoted the best part of my life to you. What does that make me, if not your real mother?”

But my feet have already jumped the precipice; there is no going back. “She gave me life. There is no greater gift a mother can give a child.”

“That’s not true.”

“You just don’t want me to find my real parents. You want me all for yourself. You’re selfish, and afraid.”

An uncharacteristic hardness settles into the line of her jaw. “Alright, then. I set you free.”

It is not the reaction I expect, and I flounder, speechless for once.

“Get your coat. I’ll show you.”

I have no choice but to scrape up my courage and follow her out the door.

*

I eye the gravestone, the bare plot, untended and unloved, and wipe the tears savagely from my face.

Sometimes, the stories we make up for ourselves are preferable to the truth. Sometimes, the most twisted imagination can’t compete with reality.

She died young, my birth mother, her life stolen by the drugs she craved so badly for most of it. I had been taken from her as a baby when she was caught trying to sell me in a pub, a desperate attempt to raise funds to fuel her addiction.

Five hundred euros was all I was worth.

I turn away, burying myself in my real mother’s arms. She holds me tightly, stroking my hair, and murmurs softly.

“It was the best five hundred euros I ever spent.”


 

Don’t forget to submit your flash fiction piece here. Thanks for reading and taking part!