Sunshine Blogger & Liebster Awards – Thank You, Answers & Nominations

Hello out there in the blogosphere. It’s me, Ollie, and, that’s right, I’ve been nominated for two blogger-to-blogger awards! How awesome is that? And I’m not even the one who types my blog (my paws are too big, so James does it for me). I’m so honored that two people think of me so highly. Sure, I may be a Sir (and I can use it since I’m an Old English Sheepdog, unlike Kevin Spacey who isn’t English and can’t use the title even though he’s been knighted), but even this may overrule the knighthood the Queen bestowed upon me – nah, the Queen rules! LOL – all Queens rule!

However, this is so super. What are the Sunshine Blogger and the Liebster Awards, you ask? Well, let me see if I can briefly explain them, as there are requirements I must fulfill in order to accept these awards. So here goes.

The Sunshine Blogger Award, as I understand it, is given to bloggers who motivate and guide their readers while shining a light into their lives, directing them on how they may accomplish their goals. The first thing I need to do for this award is to thank DMGByrnes  for the nomination. You might remember I wrote about her awhile back. She’s pretty awesome. The rules of the award require me to answer the eleven questions she has asked. That is if I want to accept the award – which I do. I then need to nominate other bloggers and pose eleven questions for them to answer should they want to accept the award. It’s quite democratic, which I like.

The Liebster Award is a way of promoting and recognizing fellow bloggers you admire because of their efforts and accomplishments. Here I need to thank Marge Cutter Tesch whose blog I’m quite intimately aware of since, well, let’s just say I’ve met her Dragon – a most lovely Dragon she is. Here, again, there are eleven questions posed that I must answer. Similarly, I then need to nominate other bloggers and pose eleven questions for them to answer.

It may seem complicated, but it’s actually quite simple and fun. So, without further ado (again that word I so admire), here are the questions and my answers:


Sunshine Blogger:

  1. If you’re a Harry Potter fan (I concede that there are some out there), do you enjoy the movies?

I don’t know who this is, but James says he read the first three books and enjoyed them, but, since he’s not typically a reader of YA fiction, he quit reading the books and picked up The Game of Thrones. With that said, he loved each and every one of the movies.

  1. Do you have a preference for hard copy books or ebooks?

I prefer hard copy books because they’re fun to chew. I’m a tactile person, so I like the feel of the book, ripping the pages, chewing on a bookmark, etc. James has, and does, read ebooks, but not that many so far.

  1. Do you have a story you want to write but keep putting it off for some reason? If so, why?

Interesting question. I have a love story to tell, but James will only write this blog for me. On the other hand, he’s been putting off all the books he’s wanted to write (he should clarify that he has written, but had not edited or even considered publishing) until his sixties. Why? Because they are either quite personal or based on things quite personal, so it was easy for him to put them off. Now that he’s an old man, he’s getting them out of his system. Writing a novel length book, poetry manuscripts and a collection of short stories takes an enormous amount of time.

  1. How long have you been blogging?

Since last October when James and I took the Writer’s Digest’s Platform Challenge with Robert Lee Brewer.

  1. How do you deal with self-doubt?

I don’t have any self-doubt, but James does. He embraces it. He believes in it. He makes love to it (TMI). Then he gets out of bed [he would have a cigarette if he still smoked – thank the big dog in the sky he doesn’t], showers, dresses and gets to work.

  1. Have you been to a writer’s conference? Or do you plan to soon/this year?

Since I’m not a working dog like a seeing-eye dog, they won’t let me attend any. Neither has James and he has no plans to attend a writer’s conference. Sometimes he thinks he might like to, but then self-doubt rears it’s lovely head, so he embraces it,…

  1. Do you have a favorite hat? If so, what is it?

Yes, oh, yes! The one I wore for Halloween. It’s a brown felt hat. Looks super cool on me too, even if I do say so myself. Okay, James wasn’t to say that right now, because it is summer, it is his Panama hat that he recently bought at Orvis. It fits him like skin and keeps the sun off his face and his head cool (thank the big dog in the sky again since he can be a hot head). I also think he looks good in it, but that’s only one dog’s opinion.

  1. What is one writing (or other) goal you’ve set and met so far?

I fathered a litter of seven puppies (sadly, only four lived). As for James (he feels like he has to get in on the act), he has published a memoir, World’s Fair.

  1. Do/What is your favorite medium of visual art? (painting, sketch, sculpture, photo, etc.)

I prefer acrylic since it is water based and washes off my hair and paws easily. James likes oil painting. It still looks fresh and alive, as if it were conceived that day, even when it is hundreds of years old.

  1. You’re leaving the house for the day and are bringing a bag of things you need/stuff to do. What are 5 things you’re definitely bringing. (Assume no catastrophe, just a day away from your home/working area). 

Food and water along with the bowls to put them in, a chew toy or two, and a treat. James would need his glasses, hat, cell phone, wallet, car keys.

  1. Name something on your bucket list. 

I would really like to have a playmate around all the time. James wold like one too, but what he wants people to know is that the top item on his bucket list is to travel across China, into Nepal, through Darjeeling, across Myanmar and into Cambodia.


Liebster Award:

  1. How long have you been blogging, and what motivated you to start your blog?

See number 4 above. Robert Lee Brewer informed us that it was one of the channels a writer could have in their promotional arsenal.

  1. In a single sentence, what is your blog about?

Usually about the conversations I have with my James while we are out walking. Well, while I run and he walks.

  1. How did you decide on the name for your blog?

It’s named after me, Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm, since I inspire him to write. It’s also typed by James since my paws are too big for the keyboard.

  1. Where do you get the ideas for your blog posts and how often do you post?

Usually from things James either reads to me or that pop into my head while out walking. James and I try to post every other week. It was every week at first since there were so many things we wanted to say. However, we’ve now settled into an every other kind of pattern.

  1. Do you ever get “writer’s block,” and, if so, how do you deal with it?

James and I have hit blocks for my blog – why we’ve gone to ever other. With that said, James doesn’t usually since he waited so late in life to get the stories he writes. 

  1. What’s your favorite post that you’ve written? Could you provide a link to that post?

“Words to Sidestep While Writing” is perhaps my favorite. The main reason is because I got more treats while we were outside walking/running while we discussed it. James likes it because before this blog there were only a few of these words that he would be on the lookout for while editing. Now the list is even longer than what is on my blog, so (you’ve given Ollie an idea), there may be a part 2. Another reason James likes it is because it has to do with editing, which is when he does the kind of writing that he enjoys – showing.

  1. What is the best advice you can give your fellow bloggers about how to get new subscribers?

I don’t know, but James has been tweeting each Wednesday to #1linewed that has generated at least 20% of the followers he now has on Twitter, and he’s only been doing this for about four weeks.

  1. Do you belong to any writers’ or bloggers’ associations and, if so, which ones?

I don’t believe I do. Like Woody Allen said, I wouldn’t want to be a member of a club that would have James. That was a joke! Can’t a dog joke? Umm, a treat. I love James.

  1. Where will we find you on social media?
    You can find me here blog; and James here Facebook and on Twitter @SkygateStack
  1. Other than blogging, what is your favorite activity?

Running and sleeping – they tie. For James, it’s editing – that’s when he believes he’s truly writing. He also like reading – close tie for him.

  1. What one thing would you like to be remembered for?

Being a loyal friend with a decent sense of humor. That goes for both of us.

Now for my nominees – for both awards, if you please – drum roll heard in the background – okay, those are woodpeckers, but they’ll do:

Veronica Sosa McDonald
Will Hogarth

Here are my eleven questions (okay, so some have more than one part to them, I hope that’s okay) for them to answer:

  1. When did you start writing?
  2. What made/motivated you to begin writing?
  3. Are you earning a living by your writing? If so or not, how or why not?
  4. If you could have been an historical writing figure (living or not), which one would you have wanted to be? Why?
  5. Where and how often do you typically write?
  6. What about the writing process is your favorite part?
  7. Are you a panster or a plotter?
  8. Do you use any software to aid in your writing? If so, what is it and how does it help?
  9. Have you been published? (If so, please provide a link to where your books may be purchased.)
  10. Do you have a will? If so, what have you specified, if it isn’t too much to ask, you want done with you writing when the time comes, so to speak?
  11. What’s your favorite color, movie, song and ideal place to live?

This has been so much fun. I hope you’ll also play along. This is how we connect to one another across boundaries that try to separate us. As James always says to me, “Love is the answer.” James thought someone else might have said that before him, so he googled it and found out it was a song Todd Rundgren sang with lyrics by England Dan & John Ford Coley – who knew? Regardless, James and I believe love is the answer.

I always like hearing from you, so please feel free to leave a comment on this blog post about this or anything at all.

Until next time,
Short Stories - Author Webpage Help Needed
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)

Paw Prints courtesy of
All photos © James Stack 2016 unless otherwise indicated

Strange Weather Days – A Poem About Wind

Hi there – it’s me, Ollie. We’re near the middle of June, and before long it’ll be summer. Seems like only yesterday it was winter. Well, it did get down into the low forties the other night, and barely into the sixties the next day, so it wasn’t that long ago. Things have been strange.

Speaking of things being strange, when James and I were out walking (he walks while I run around) during that cold day, the wind was intensely blowing everywhich way such that the hay fields seemed to be dancing so recklessly that they became exhausted and lay down in a jumble on top of one another. It made it difficult for me to run through them since they were like waves at the beach. I found myself doing more jumping than running. It sure was fun!

Wearing a brown, leather jacket, James told me when we started out that he needed to stay warm. He was also worried that his hat would be blown off by the wind because of how forceful it was. However, he needn’t have worried since his hat fits perfectly. So flawless, in fact, that I had to secretly laugh (well, it’s no longer a secret since James has to type this for me since my paws are too big for the keyboard) when the wind would pick up the two and one-half inch brim and make James look like he was a butterfly about to take to the air. (James is scowling at me – well, it was funny.)

Anyway, while we were outside in this heady wind, it reminded James of the autumn (yes, a completely different season) of my first year when the wind was something I knew very little about. He wrote a poem about me and the wind, entitled, drum roll please: “Wind.” (Sometimes I have to laugh at myself – I hope you are able to do the same.)

Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm age six months – almost.

Without further ado (a word James is curious how I knew it – well, he’d read something to me with “ado” in it – I must say I have a better memory than he does):


Sitting peacefully you casually move your head side-to-side
as if watching a tennis match           unsure of the sound
as it doesn’t resemble a ball or racket
yet aware of a difference
having never taken notice before

Tilting your head sideways           resting inquisitively
it gently whispers in your upturned ear
words only you can understand           or perhaps not

Desiring to discern their meaning
as you pensively ponder what it is saying
there is a distraction           a falling leaf to which
you move to investigate having forgotten the hubbub above

The foliage smells of the passage of time
and before long you are           again
enquiring of the murmurs
some spoken in hushed tones           others squeaking louder

Unexpectedly you cause your own mutter
which surprises and causes you to eventually turn
and sniff behind you
which for some reason you find pleasing

Off in the distance you notice the rattling of the bush branches
knowing something           but not what           is making them move

Rearing back in anticipation of the unknown
yet to be seen
perhaps an imaginary beast           bringing a rising dread
as you move closer           leaning into me

It is nothing for you to fear my dear little friend Ollie
but a cool breeze as it blows through the trees

And then you are off like a rocket
laughing           playing           dashing           zigzagging
after the golden           scarlet             ruddy             flying objects

Autumn has brought with it the enthusiasm of the chase
and the ecstasy you discover in the rambling crusty piles of leaves

And this is what the uttering gusts were saying
nature bestows wonders to behold for your enjoyment and fun
so live fully in the brief time you have
grasp each moment           relish every opportunity
you my loving Old English Sheepdog
are but twenty-one weeks and have a long yet short span
in which to treasure them all


This was supposed to have been a video, “Ollie & Leaves,” but James’ plan doesn’t support videos – oh, well.

I would love to know if you’ve been experiencing any strange weather, and, if so, what kind? You can tell us about it in the comments on this blog. I’ll get back to you if you do.

I always like hearing from you, so please feel free to leave a comment on this blog post about this or anything at all.

Until next time,
Short Stories - Author Webpage Help Needed
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)

Paw Prints courtesy of 
All photos © James Stack 2016 unless otherwise indicated
“Wind” © James Stack 2016
“Ollie & Leaves” video © James Stack 2016