Sunday, February 9, 2014

It's been a while since I've won a Liebster

My buddy Margit Sage bestowed a Liebster Award upon me last week. These awards are really little blog hops and tend to be fun. While I’ve won this one a few times, the Liebster has never looked so pretty. Look at that sweet new badge! 

These things always have a few rules. They can be simple, like these:

1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
3. Nominate a few other bloggers who’d enjoy it.
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.

It’s an unspoken rule of mine to change the rules of all of these games. It’s a flaw in meme theory I like to exploit. Did I change these? You’d have to read Margit’s post to know. Speaking of Margit, let’s dig into her ten questions.

1. What is the soundtrack to a great writing day for you?
--I regularly use soundtracks and they differ on the mood or context I’m writing about. I’ve blogged multiple times about how useful I find Akira Yamaoka and Hans Zimmer’s music, and Nero’s Welcome Reality was the most frequent soundtrack to my previous novel. In January I wrote regularly to Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts’ OST for Cowboy Bebop, which has such a range of musical moods that it’s a lot like cheating. The common elements to all these works are very few lyrics (which I find distracting), and so much suggestive nature that the playlist ends without my noticing. I’ll hit the end of a paragraph or scene and realize I need to hit Play to restart the disc. In those cases music is the best work partner.

2. Is there a song that embodies your favorite character (or poem) that you’ve written? If so, what is it?
--No, and I'd be deeply bummed if a song could outdo me in the fullness of any character that I was going to spend many pages on. But "It's All in Your Mind" by Madness does a good job of summing me up, sometimes.

3. Do you know exactly what each of your characters looks like? Or do you just have some vague notion (or none at all)? Does your visual conception of characters change over time?
--This is an interesting question because if you asked me to physically describe my brother or mother, I’d do a terrible job. I'm so familiar with them that I suffer from familiarity blindness, and a stranger who met them recently would do a better job. I know some of the key physical traits of my characters and that's all I need. I'll seldom describe a character in full, preferring you to see what you see. What's paramount to me is knowing how they think and act.

4. Why do you write?
--I’ve put too much time into it and haven’t developed any other skills. If I didn’t want to write, I’d be rather stuck for alternatives. Luckily, I love writing.

5. How does your writing begin? With a visual, a concept, or something else entirely?
--I’ve definitely started with a concept, or a really good line, or an image before. I wrote about a magical movie theatre that could rebuild the world by running the right films thanks to my playing fetch with a dog one night. The motion of throwing the stick was the visual that got the rest to click together. Much more often I begin with a character, or an action that some character must take. Somebody has to throw a boomerang sword? Okay, who would, what is he like, where is he from, in what circumstance is he stuck now, who is stuck with him, what are they afraid of, etc.etc. The one thing routinely gets me to sketch in the rest.

6. When you write, where are you? What are you surrounded with/by?
--I have a desk in my bedroom facing a window that faces the woods. I’m surrounded by cheap speakers and glasses of water, the former drowning out ambient noise, and the latter cutting off my excuses to get up because I’m thirsty. There is also a keyboard.

7. What author do you wish every writer you talk to had previously read?
--Any ancient author whose work was entirely lost, as in natural disasters or at the various Alexandria disasters. I pick this random soul because he or she would have written in a language very few of us understand, and thus everyone’s explanations for how they’d all read something that didn’t exist and shouldn’t have been comprehensible would entertain me.

8. What are your writing goals this year?
--I started a novel in January. I’d like to finish it, and do a new draft of the other novel it’s related to. I’ll query those out to agents. Those are goals, right? Are they goals if you have specific dates on which you’re going to do everything?

9. What advice would you like to share with your blog readers right now?
--What advice applies to everyone? I guess I’ll impart my best lesson from the last year: periodically, review how you treat the people who matter most to you. Are you treating them how they deserve? If so, then great. If not, then you’re like me and we’re going to try to do a little better.

10. What is the reaction you’re most hoping for from your readers? What reaction would put a giant grin on your face?
--Readers have given me a few giant grins in the last few months. I get them from very personalized reactions, because like myself, most people tend to say the story is good because of plot, pacing, language, etc. But when a reader makes a personal connection to a story, she will ramble about how much she liked this character, and these things she did, and she hated that this happened, but wasn’t it awesome when she did that? The reader doesn’t care so much about rounded feedback as they do for this thing that defined their experience, and they’re grateful for it. I cherish those reactions and they always mean I’ve done something right by at least one other person on this planet. It helps that these sometimes come bundled with thanks for the story helping them through a bad night, or inspiring them to strength. Those are the best things fiction does for me, so to do them for others is splendid.

How did I do? Were my answers suitably entertaining? Did I navel gaze too much?

I'm passing this game on to the following:

And their ten questions shall be:

1. What is the hardest you’ve laughed in the last year?
2. What theme do you wish more fiction tackled?
3. What was the last time you envied another writer’s work?
4. What’s the next book you’re planning to read and why?
5. Does anything in fiction routinely scare you or creep you out? Whether it’s werewolves or doctor visits.
6. If you could spend an afternoon hanging out with any villain, who would it be?
7. If you could delete any character from all of fiction, such that no one would remember it had ever existed, what character would it be?
8. What’s your favorite nickname you’ve ever been given?
9. Do the last ten books you read have anything in common?
10. By a unique snafu of publishing, you are legally obligated to write a crossover between two popular franchises of your choosing. Which two are they?


  1. She threw some tough questions at you.
    Connecting with the dynamics of the story and the characters. That's what I like to hear. Somebody got it.

    1. Those connections make all the work worthwhile. I cherish them.

  2. A deserved award for you. You so very often make me think, and sometimes to reconsider things I had set in concrete. Always a win. Teamed with frequent laughter - another win.
    I love the questions you have posed - and am not surprised at all at question 6. More challenging for me (and perhaps for you?) would be to find a hero I wanted to spend time with.

    1. I actually have no problem coming up with heroes I'd hang out with - I love old Bilbo Baggins, and I bet Peter Parker is friendly once he unwinds. But people love their villains.

  3. Congrats on being nominated again for this award. Interesting questions and very suitably entertaining answers ^_^

  4. Thank you John! I'll get right on it. :-) Love your answer to #10, it's heartening to know that your readers have made you smile, especially since you've had so many challenges of late.

  5. Congrats, John. I, too, mourn the loss of content from the library in Alexandria and wonder somtimes where we would be as a people if they were not destroyed.

    1. The state of that nation would have to fare considerably better to have impacted modern culture that much, but I would like to have saved a few more texts from the various raids and fires.

  6. Excellent answers! I enjoyed your responses. (Great questions, too.) Thank you for playing!

    1. Happy to meet with your approval, Margit! This was fun. Thank you for the Liebster.

  7. Congrats, John, and thank you for the nomination (and the questions) ! Hans Zimmer’s music, and Nero’s Welcome Reality are on my list too! I loved your answers, it's always a pleasure to have an insight into your "world" if I can put it like that.

    1. I didn't know you were a Nero fan, too! Do you know when their next album is due?

    2. This year I hear! I hope it's not false news.

  8. Good questions, John! Thanks for the nod – I'll get busy. And I'm glad that you're good at writing and you're pursuing it because you're damned good!

  9. Congratulations John! Margit posed some great questions, and I'm with you on #6, one of those "if onlys"...
    And thanks so much for passing the award along to me, I'm quite honored. I do tend to be quite late in posting responses to awards, (and your questions, thought-provoking as they are, may cause me to take even longer) :) but I will do my best to get on it.

    1. Possibly a record for me - acceptance posted
      Thanks again John!

  10. That is quite a pretty, and timely-themed, Liebster badge. Great questions and great answers. I hope you get more personalized feedback on your writing as that is certainly the best kind. Good luck with your goals, too.

  11. I hear you on the classes of water. LOL Excellent questions you gave to your chosen.


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