Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I have won TWO (count 'em!) Liebster Awards for blogging!

Two good friends, fellow bloggers and writers have nominated me for the Liebster Award for Blogging: Christine Nolfi, founder of the BestSelling Reads group; and Bruce Blake, fantasy author and fellow member of Independent Authors International.

As a Liebster Winner (Liebsterite? Liebsterine?), I now have to:

• tell you 11 random facts about myself

• answer 11 questions that Christine and Bruce sent

• nominate 11 authors; and

• send them 11 completely new questions.

11 random facts about me

1. My last name has changed twice in my life, and I’m not running from the law.

2. I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the land of frozen Januaries.

3. I had a LOT of hair when I was in university.

4. I suck at paperwork.

5. My first car was a 1969 Cutlass two-door with a V8 engine.

6. I cannot focus a camera myself. I need auto-focus.

7. I know how to sail a sloop.

8. I have occasionally been unkind to others. Okay, more than occasionally. Sorry.

9. I love maps.

10. I am fascinated by plate tectonics and ocean currents.

11. I could listen to Carlos Santana play guitar all day long.

11 Questions from Bruce A. Blake

1. Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met?

I waved once at Bruce Springsteen a couple of years ago in Lake Placid, New York, and he gave me a “peace” or “Victory” sign back. But I didn’t actually speak with him. I guess the most famous person I’ve ever met and spoken with is Bill Gates, back in the 80s, when he wasn’t the Wizard of Oz but merely the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

2. What article of clothing could you not do without?

Pants are good for walking down the street, but for some other activities, they’re too ... obstructive. I’m not much of a clothes fan. I like my leather jackets, but I survived before I had them and I’ll survive without them, too.

3. You have one meal left before you are put to death. What would you eat and what did you do to be condemned?

I pissed off the people in power by asking too many tough questions. Seriously, back when I was a full-time journalist, I once made a guy sweat with so many questions. And it wasn’t even that serious a story!

My last meal: New York steak with perogies and lots and lots of fried onions; two bottles of Chianti from Baron Ricasoli’s most private, select cellar; a gallon of Stella Artois beer to wash it down; chocolate soufflĂ© for dessert, finished with lots of Remi Martin Louis XIII cognac. While getting oral sex from the SOB who condemned me.

4. If you were a computer program, which one would you be?

A grammar checker vastly better than Microsoft’s, one that would suggest shorter and more elegant sentences.

5. What book have you read that you most wished you had written?

Either Life of Pi, Winter’s Tale or The Master and Margarita.

6. If you could only own one movie, which one would it be?

David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago, the movie with Omar Sharif.

7. Sweet or savoury?

Boldly, dangerously savoury.

8. Would you rather give a speech in front of a large audience or touch your tongue to frozen metal?

Already touched my tongue to frozen metal, back in Grade 1. Don’t want to do it again. Already spoken to large audiences. That wasn’t as bad.

9. If you had your choice, are you an early bird or a late riser?

Early bird. I do have the choice. Sleeping is such a waste of time.

10. You have a new pet and it is entirely up to you to name the beast. What kind of animal is it and what do you call it?

How about a swordfish named Cyrano.

11. If you could recommend one non-fiction book, which one would it be?

Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

11 questions from Christine Nolfi:

1. Describe your life five years from now.

Here’s the fantasy writer’s answer: I make more than enough money from selling books to live comfortably. I come down to my main-floor study every morning with a big cup of coffee to write, correspond, update social media and create my next work. I can afford to take my family on vacations once or twice a year, and occasionally give an interview or a talk on my work, the writing process or the publishing world.

Now the reality: in five years, I’ll probably be doing more or less what I’m doing right now, except that I’ll have five more books available at bookstores.

2. What was your favorite toy during childhood?

I remember a turquoise Matchbox car, and later, a larger die-cast Batmobile. I also had a GI Joe (back when Joe was bigger than Barbie) as an astronaut, with a Mercury space capsule and a silver space suit.

But I have to admit that the leisure items I spent the most time with while growing up were books.

3. Most embarrassing moment during adolescence?

Geez, Christine, whose side are you on? Okay, this story requires a little background: in Canada, we have a TV games show called Reach for the Top, where teams of high-school students compete in answering trivia questions — kind of like a team version of Jeopardy for teens.

In Grade 11, I had two friends on my high school’s Reach for the Top team, and one Saturday I accompanied them to the TV studio. This was a working studio in a small-city station; the only accommodation for a live audience were a few random chairs at the back.

I sat on a high stool. At the very end of the show, when my team had won, I applauded. I don’t know what I did, but the stool tipped and I toppled onto my butt. Watching the taped show later, I saw my friends on the team pointing at me (off-camera, thankfully) and laughing as the credits started to roll.

4. What do you most enjoy about the writing process?

I know that some people say “I don’t like writing — I like having written.” I disagree. I love the process, I love thinking up ideas and the way they take their own shape as I type them onto the screen.

5. You can spend the day with someone famous (living or dead). Who do you choose? Why? What do you talk about?

Jack Kerouac. We could talk about writing, about breaking into the publishing world, gaining attention and the interface between literature, music and other arts.

6. How many unfinished manuscripts sit dusty and unloved in your office?

Many dusty, none unloved. I really plan to finish them all, one day.

  • There’s the high-adventure science-fiction novel that I began with “It was a dark and stormy night.”
  • Then the story of the girl who stole all her research from her unappreciative employer.
  • Dark Clouds, the story of the son of the Witch Queen.
  • A psycho-killer story.
  • My memoriam to my father-in-law, who was drafted into the Red Army in 1941 and later escaped, with the 12 men under his command, from a German POW camp.
  • The doctor's in-laws
  • And several more.

7. Of which of your works are you most proud?

So far, it’s the only novel that’s been published so far: The Bones of the Earth. I am proud of it for being my first published novel, and because I believe it’s a good novel. It has several levels: it’s an adventure story, but it also illustrates the struggles of a young man with a disability in an unforgiving society.

The plot encompasses all seven basic stories: the quest, revenge, rite of passage, kill the king, fish out of water, redemption and of course, boy meets girl — you gotta have a love story!

And I’m also proud of it for earning some very good reviews. Not a huge number (not a huge number of sales, either), but mostly very positive.

8. Please share the most heartwarming or amusing comment you’re received from a reader.

There have been many, I am very thankful to be able to say. I am so moved when readers tell me how they love Javor, the protagonist of my novel, The Bones of the Earth. For example: “Javor, whom I love, is the slayer of monsters and dragons,” from Linda, a reviewer on Goodreads.” And a good Internet friend and fellow author, Cinta Garcia Rosa, wrote about Javor “One of my favourite characters from now on.”

9. Do you eat your veggies?

Absolutely! Not only do I love vegetables (and meat, and dairy, and sweets, and ... food), I hit the “5 to 10 a day” mark every day!

10. What was the catalyst that drove your to write your first book?

I had wanted to write a dragon story for my children for a long time, and I wanted to write something that went beyond typical fantasy. Also, I wanted to write something that evoked eastern European cultures, something largely overlooked in Western literature.

The catalyst had two sparks:

• David Keys’ Catastrophe: An investigation into the origins of the modern world, which theorizes that the eruption of the Krakoa volcano in Indonesia in 535 AD led not only to the plague that killed Emperor Justinian, but the migration of the Avars from China to Europe, the rise of the Turks and the weakening of other civilizations around the world.

• At about the same time, I came across a theory (cannot find it again, alas) that the historical King Arthur and Beowulf both died that same year — 535 AD. That led to the story!

11. Favorite vacation spot?

Vienna. Friendly, clean, courteous, walkable with unbelievably great food and dense, rich culture!

11 new questions for authors:

1. Which villain character did you have the most fun writing. Admit it, you loved it!
2. In the genre you have chosen to write in, which convention (typically followed by other authors in the same genre) drive you nuts the most?

3. What genre that you have not written in yet would you most like to? What’s holding you back?

4. Have you ever written a character based very closely on someone you know in your real life?

5. What word or phrase do you find you overuse the most?

6. Name your favourite author: what is it about that person’s writing that appeals to you so much?

7. What music do you listen to while you write?

8. Coffee or tea?

9. Dog or cat?

10. Who was Jessica Rabbit?

11. If you could meet one fictional character from any book other than your own, who would it be? Why? What would you talk about?

And now, the next 11 victims authors to receive the Liebster Award:

1. David C. Cassidy

2. Cinta Garcia Rosa

3. Scott Morgan

4. Roger Eschbacher

5. Gary Henry

6. Benjamin X. Wretlind

7. Martin Crosbie

8. David Mark Brown

9. Alan McDermott

10. Kathy Lynn Hall
11. RS Guthrie

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