I am pleased to announce that I have been given the Liebster Award for 2016. This marks the second year I have received the award; the first was for 2014. The Liebster Award is peer nominated, normally given by bloggers to other bloggers, and offers the opportunity to develop relationships with fellow bloggers and new readers. I accept this award and am honored to be part of this tradition. Thank you, Pat Garcia, for nominating me.
Pat Garcia is an inspirational writer of nonfiction essays and of fiction. She is an American writer, blogger, book reviewer, singer and musician living in Europe. Pat says her “heart lies in telling stories with a romantic twist that inspires.” You can find her uplifting stories on the Internet at: http://www.patgarciaandeverythingmustchange.com. This is just one of her blogs, and it will lead you to her others.
- Write a post about yourself, displaying an image of the Liebster Award.
- Link back and thank the blogger who nominated you in your post.
- Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
- Pick 5 – 10 new bloggers (must have less than 300 followers) to nominate and ask them 11 new questions. Do not re-nominate the blogger that nominated you.
- Go to each new blogger’s site and inform them of their nomination.
I must tell you that I hesitated to complete the acceptance of this award. To write all this about myself seemed rather self-indulgent, and I and other authors have said much of this before. Ultimately, I decided to go ahead with it. I might attract some new reader, and my present following might dig up something of interest. In my wilder dreams, an agent might come along and say, “I must find a book publisher for you and avidly promote your work.” I should advise you, though – this is really long, so you may want to read it episodically or just go ahead and binge read.
Questions Asked by Pat Garcia
1. What does writing mean to you?
Digging up the clams at low tide …
- The importance of the fourth estate – journalism: the function of the press in a democracy is checks and balances; also, incisive investigation and communication of global affairs and humanitarian conditions.
- Truth – whether by nonfiction or fiction, for consensus observes there is more truth in fiction than in nonfiction.
- Human Interest profiles about individuals who have accomplished something extraordinary and beneficial for society.
- Exchange of information and ideas – learning how and what others think; reaching truth, acceptance and compromise.
- The messenger.
Providing the magic carpet to fly readers to the lands of their imagination.
2. Where do you get your inspiration?
I love storytelling and I am driven to write. Ask me how I’m doing and I’ll say, “Let me tell you a story about that.” My father and my uncle were always telling us stories, so I got that gene. Plus, I am interested in everything: I read, research and ask a lot of questions about a lot of things.
People fascinate me: Before I was old enough to wield pencil and paper I was an observer: I was 2 or 3 years old when my mother would tell me to stop staring at the passengers seated across from me in the trolley car. I studied them, wondering who they were, what their lives were like. Thus arose the genesis of transporting characters from the real world into my imaginative stories. By the time I was 8 or 9, you could hand me a pencil and a yellow legal pad and I would sit content, writing a story. When I began reading, I derived inspiration from fairy tales, The Arabian Nights, the logical illogic of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry (A Child’s Garden of Verses), children’s mystery (Nancy Drew) and biography books, and finally, F. Scott Fitzgerald. A great deal of my inspiration and influence develops from the set of 12 graded My Book House books my mother bought me when I was quite young.
3. Do you write fiction or non-fiction or both?
I write both fiction and nonfiction. I have been a journalist for years, writing features and human interest stories, and evolving to being an essayist, memoirist, short story writer and currently working on three linked novels. I especially enjoy the storytelling genre of writing creative nonfiction, intermixing fact and fiction.
4. Do you blog and if so, how often?
I blog. This is it. You are visiting and viewing my blog presently. I began writing my blog in May 2011, posting about twice a week; then, I was writing about caregiving for my mother who suffered from dementia. She died in April 2012. Since then, I have been posting on my blog as I feel necessary. I’ve taken the A-Z Blogging Challenge two years running, posting every day but Sundays throughout April 2015 and 2016. Lately I post intermittently. So, my blog has gotten dusty; and Moriarty, the Phantom of My Blog, although he does much work around here, such as hanging new headers, cleaning up after parties, and sometimes cooking meals which we share with his black, fluffy dog, Dickens, does not dust. So, I have to get busy dusting and I need to do that before I write another blog post so I won’t sneeze all over my pages, because then, Moriarty points out, the pages will stick together and my masterpiece won’t be much of a page turner.
5. Where is your favorite place or room to write?
I write in my studio at my iMac, listening to music, usually classical, looking out my window at the ever-changing dogwood and the activities of the birds, squirrels and my neighbor’s grandsons within its branches. Sometimes, too, I write by hand, using a favorite ballpoint pen, in my notebook, sitting in the chaise lounge between the perpendicular windows in my library. I believe it is necessary to write by hand. The process is slower, therefore allowing you time to think between the words and lines you are putting on the page; consequently, you go deeper into thought and detail and your writing flows like a soft stream over cobbles.
6. Do you have a regular routine, like writing in the morning or evenings? Or do you write whenever it hits you?
I like to write in the mornings, two or three hours; but sometimes I write best in late afternoon, for an hour or so, before dinner. I keep pen and paper all around the house and carry a pen and little notebook with me when I’m out, so I can capture that elusive gem the moment it rises above the ripples of thought.
7. Who is your favourite author? What kind of influence have they had upon your writing or upon you personally?
My favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald. He has taught me most of what I know about writing well. In pre-computer days, I read everything Fitzgerald wrote and everything written about him. I hand copied pages and pages of his essays on good writing and kept them in a file. Sadly, he died just before I was born. I chased after him to find the houses he had lived in nearby where I live – Wilmington and Baltimore – but found they had been torn down only a few years earlier. He is my kindred spirit and great inspiration, along with Thomas Wolfe and his marble angel. Thomas Wolfe’s childhood home still stands, in Asheville, and I have visited it twice. These two authors inspired me to believe in and discipline myself to write. They are my angels.
Additionally, the greatest short story writer, I believe, is Anton Chekhov, second only in talent to William Shakespeare. His nonjudgmental, incisive knowledge of humans and the human condition combined with his simple yet compelling storytelling approach the mystical. Too, there are Leo Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Edith Wharton, Daphne du Maurier and Jane Austen. My living favorites are Julian Fellowes, Adam Gopnik, Stephen King, William Least Heat-Moon, Orhan Pamuk, Gay Talese, Elif Batuman and T.J. Banks. I could go on.
Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy were friends. Chekhov wrote, “When literature possesses a Tolstoy, it is easy and pleasant to be a writer; even when you know you have achieved nothing yourself and are still achieving nothing, this is not as terrible as it might otherwise be, because Tolstoy achieves for everyone. What he does serves to justify all the hopes and aspirations invested in literature.”
8. Do current events in the world have an effect upon what you write?
Of course current events influence what I write: they saturate us. You’d have to be solitarily confined not to extract some effect from your surroundings, and even then you might find something. Every writer must be attuned to his or her environment, whether it be war, misogyny and genocide in a foreign land; the sound of a piano through an open window; the way a squirrel grips with its hind paws a dogwood branch swaying in the autumn wind while turning the red berry in its front paws as it nibbles it; or the aroma of authors in a library, of the bindings and pages of their books. A writer, by nature, is an observer.
William Least Heat-Moon wrote in Blue Highways, “It was the Texas some people see as barren waste when they cross it, the part they later describe at the motel bar as ‘nothing.’ They say, ‘There’s nothing out there.’” Heat-Moon proceeds, then, while “driving through the miles of nothing,” to test the hypothesis. He stopped. “No plant grew higher than my head,’ he writes. “For a while, I heard only miles of wind against the Ghost; but after the ringing in my ears stopped, I heard myself breathing, then a bird note, an answering call … I heard the high zizz of flies the color of gray flannel and the deep buzz of a blue bumblebee. I made a list of nothing in particular.” He lists 30 things, and then says, “That was all the nothing I could identify then, but had I waited until dark when the desert really comes to life, I could have done better.” http://www.csun.edu/~hceng028/English/Sp15/moon.pdf.
9. How often do you read? Do you read books in different genres?
I read daily – everything from the backs of cereal boxes to The New Yorker to the great classic novels. I read different genres; however, I am a classicist in general, and I prefer and most often read the great 19th and 20th century classics – American, British, Russian, French and German. Too, I like how Middle Eastern storytelling starts from the middle and scrolls outwards to the beginning and the end. In my childhood I read the great classics from around the world, so those set my foundation. I think you’ll find that great writers have read insatiably as children. In my early childhood no one had TV, so I had to read. Most of the books I read had no pictures, so I had to imagine the scenes in my own mind, a phenomenon which modern screen time little supports.
10. Please share a paragraph or two of what you are currently working on.
Shortly, Lisa entered the lobby. She looked about 16, a perky blonde with a good tan. She wore a short skirt and pumps, no socks. The first thing I noticed as she led me down the hall to her corner office, which turned out to be about the size of my apartment, was her distinctly pronounced sock marks. Her ankles were snow white. It’s like she had highlighted them. The white sock marks looked so neatly painted in nice clean lines. That set the tone for our interview. “Did you use a stencil?” I wanted to ask as I followed her down that long, narrow, dark hall, her ankles practically lighting the way. I think the least I would have done was apply a tanning preparation — better orange ankles than Casper ghastlies. –From “White Sock Marks,” an essay included in my to-be-published collection, Leftover Bridges.
Were I to live forever, I would know him anywhere: Connell. His head was turned to his left, his dark eyes fixed on something across the street, and he was about to run into me.
It had happened once before: We worked together at Shoreline Catering. I cut a diagonal across the catering warehouse floor to his office to tell him something. Just as I arrived at his open office door, he jumped up from his desk and walked squarely into me in the doorway.
“Did he plan that?” I wondered. I wondered for seventeen years, the whole time I was away, living in Princeton, New Jersey. I had arrived back in Southern California two months ago, in October, just before the rains began and the snow-mantled mountains embraced the L.A. basin. I loved this time of year.
“Connell!” I said. He was four feet from me and coming fast, as always.
He turned his gaze on me, his intense, dark eyes sparked from somewhere deep and scorched my soul. Time telescoped. –A short story, “These Eyes,” from Leftover Bridges.
11. Where and what do you see yourself as within the next ten years? Will you have relocated? Will you have become the writer person that you have dreamed of being?
In 10 years I will be 85. By then, if I’m still living, I might have relocated from Delaware to Southern California where I lived most of my adult life. As for my writing, I am on the retirement side of my 50-year professional writing career. I began with analyzing and summarizing legislation for constituents of a United States Congressman, and worked through marketing and sales copywriting to magazine and newspaper writing and editing, to ultimately blogging and book authoring and publishing. I have some things I’d like to clean up, though – finish and publish books I have been working on – novels and essays, and continue writing my blog as I see fit, while my books become bestsellers.
My Liebster Nominations
My Questions to Nominees
- When did you begin writing and what or who inspired you to dedicate yourself to writing professionally?
- Do you have a writing routine? Please tell us about it.
- Do you write at a computer, a typewriter or in longhand, or a combination of these?
- Do you have a designated space for writing? Where?
- Do you write to music? If so, what kind?
- What types of works do you read?
- Who is your favorite author and how has this author influenced you?
- What is your writing process from inception to completion and publication?
- Are you published? Through a publisher or indie? E-books or print or both?
- Please share a paragraph or two of a work in progress.
- Do you have an agent? If so, how did you get your agent? Otherwise, how do you market and promote your work?
October 8, 2016