The Liebster Award

Image

The other day, I was pleased to have a message from Allison Forsythe of The Wannabe Writer Life telling me that I had been nominated for the Liebster Award!  It’s always awesome to be acknowledged for good, hard work, so thank you to Allison for recognizing me! I think that part of building a writing community–online or not–has to include positive feedback and support and this is a fun way to show it.

Here are the rules of The Liebster Award :

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.
2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself, and create 11 questions for your nominees.
3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to up to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen. No tag backs.
4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog

My answers to Allison’s questions were:

1. Who is your favourite character (book, play, movie, or TV) of all time? Why?

 What is it that makes a character likeable?  For me, it is a feeling of honesty in the writing of the character; that feeling that you have when you and a friend are close enough to know each other’s flaws and still like each other.  This character for me is Dane from Tamora Pierce’s “Wild Magic” series, because she is stubborn, brave and pragmatic about her decisions.  (Also, she is a strong female character who isn’t afraid to kick butt when needed). The world of YA books always needs more badass heroines!

2. If you had a time machine and could travel anywhere in the world at any point in time, where/when would you go?

My curiosity would likely guide me to rural England (just outside London) to Stonehenge so that I could see what it was really all about.  I wonder what it might have looked like? Maybe I would go back even earlier and see who built it.  (And if we’re following along the lines of this scheme, I’d detour to Egypt and see who built the pyramids too).

3. Why do you blog?

I blog because it’s another reason to write.  If you are a writer, then I think that you have to make all the excuses you can to write as much as possible.  (I also enjoy reading other blogs and meeting other people who like to write).

4. What was your favourite thing to get for Hallowe’en when you were a kid?

Remember Tootsie Rolls? Not those.  I liked the rainbow coloured cousins of the Tootsie Rolls that tasted (sort of) fruity.  What were they called? (Now you might call them diabetes in rainbow form, but once upon a time they were just chewy, lip-staining delights).

5. If you could learn to speak another language fluently (quickly and easily), what would it be?

Lately I’ve been thinking about travelling to China, so learning the language would make that trip a whole lot easier! Whenever I travel, I like to meet local people. Who knows what kinds of stories I would learn from the locals?

6. What concert would you most like to see?

I was thinking about it and although I like The ShinsFleet Foxes and Weezer, it is the unobtainable that I am drawn to.  Since we’re imagining here…I kind of wish it was possible to see The Beatles perform with a resurrected John Lennon (make-up does wonders now, so I’m sure they would be able to fix up his unfortunate zombie exterior enough to make him pretty again for the show).

7. What was the last song that got stuck in your head for days?

Quite often, I have I’ll Fly Away by Allison Krauss & Gillian Welch on the O, Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack.  It’s a simple melody that seems to hang in the air and follow me around, but it’s not obnoxious so I tolerate it gladly.

8. What actor/actress would play you in the movie about your life?

Jennifer Lawrence! I like to think that I would be portrayed by someone who can hold her own, but also has a feminine side too.

9. What scent is linked to a happy memory for you (if any)? (It could be perfume, food, campfires, etc…)

The warm smell of German crepes sizzling in a cast iron pan brings back memories of sitting in the kitchen with my mom on mornings when it was cold outside.

10. If you could pick a superpower for yourself, what would it be?

I’d want to be able to walk through walls.  Seriously.  I’m always losing my keys! If I could walk through walls I wouldn’t need to worry about keys anymore!

11. What’s your favourite kind of pie?

There is no competition with pumpkin pie. I eat it year round, even though it’s really a Thanksgiving thing, justifying it with the reasoning that “it’s sort of healthy…it’s a vegetable!”

Eleven Random Facts:

1. There is a shade of paint between beige and peach that makes me nauseous.

2. I sometimes pretend that I am accepting an award while in the shower.

3. I am exceptionally creeped out by yellow walls.  (I blame it on Charlotte Perkins Gillman, who wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”).

4. I love polka dots.

5. I always paint the walls in my bedroom Bonaparte Red. I don’t know why.

6. I have a degree of fear for spiders that most people reserve for axe-wielding psychopaths.

7. The next pair of shoes is always the last pair I’ll buy.

8. I love the smell of rain. (Consequently, the name for this scent is petrichor.  It refers to the scent of oils given off by vegetation).

9.  I am obsessed with weird words.

10. I feel that eating a cold breakfast is a form of punishment.

11. I have re-read some books–my favourite ones–twenty times at least, because it feels like retreating to a safe place.

Questions for my nominees:

1. What is your favourite scene/moment in a book? Why?

2. If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?

3. What is the worst part of writing dialogue? What is the best part?

4. What do you like to read?

5. Where do you find your inspiration?

6. How do you know when you have made a good friend?

7. If you could interview anyone–dead or alive–who would it be?

8. What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

9. What made you want to start blogging?

10. Short stories or the novel: which do you like better?

11. If you could have a final showdown with a literary villain, which one do you think you could defeat and why?

My nominees are…

The Mind’s Cabin

The L. Palmer Chronicles

What a fun way to connect and show support!

Home Made Almond Butter, Or Patience

Almond butter

For the last little while, I’ve been toiling over several manuscripts.  Apart from being kind of paranoid, I’m also a total perfectionist.  But the other day, I was getting fed up with the process.  I wanted the damn stories to be done–perfect (or as perfect as they can be)–so that I could send them out to find their homes! Of course, that’s just not the way things work.

It struck me that patience has to be a part of any process if the product is going to turn out right when I was making almond butter in my brand new candy apple red food processor.  Let me tell you–after what seemed like a ridiculously long time of watching almond dust spurt up at the clear dome, I was beginning to wonder if maybe I’d made one of those really stupid cooking mistakes that I make from time to time.  (Think baking brownies with honey, coconut oil and no flour as a misguided attempt at clean eating.  Suffice it to say, I’ll make my brownies the “dirty” way from now on).

But then something that can only be explained as kitchen magic happened.  The almond dust started separating into little round globs.  I’m not going to lie, it still didn’t look like anything that I wanted to eat.  In fact, it looked gross.  But it was progress.  After some time of lip biting and watching the icky globs, they began to transform into smooth creases of creamy butter. When the fragrant smell of almonds filled the kitchen and they churned easily in the processor I knew that I had something good.

That’s the thing with process–it takes time to get to that moment of goodness.  But once you get there…it’s about as perfect as it gets.

Here is the full recipe for my almond butter (super easy):

1. Roast the almonds (3 cups) at 350 F for 10 minutes (or less if they seem to be browning quickly).

2. Puree the almonds, adding a cup at a time to the food processor until smooth.

3. Add any oils or spices to the almond butter after removing from the food processor.  (I like mind plain, but 2 tsp of honey is also nice).

Note: If using olive oil, don’t put it in the food processor, or it will get bitter and become one of those stupid cooking mistakes…

Artifacts

At sixteen, I took a trip to Mexico.  Like most people, I climbed the towering pyramid of Chichen-Itza, scaling the narrow, slick stone stairs three at a time while my parents crawled their way upwards warily.  Across the dusty, bleak ruins I could see the tourists peppered below, peering into the darkest corridors and snapping pictures of the unusual stones that imposed themselves on the green snaking vegetation that had overrun the place in the time that the Mayans kicked the bucket and Mexico became a more impoverished version of Disney Land for history nerds and partiers alike.

I can’t boast at having any kind of epiphany while I was there.  I was sixteen!  Although I did get my first taste of Cerveza and got screamed at by a guard for sitting on some “off-limits” ruins, I happily absorbed the ruins as a strange and wonderful place.  It was only later that I began to think more about artifacts as defining moments in history.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that if you are always stuck behind the camera, you’ll miss the moment as it happens.  I agree with that to an extent.  (How many pictures can you really have of that weird pantsless man on Waikiki beach, anyway?)  But I’ve also thought about what it would be like for someone to find the artifacts of our culture long after we’re gone.  What would it be like for them?  What will they think of us?

I can remember the summer that we first bought our cottage; it was being lived in by raccoons (that’s another story), the roof was caving in and a tree had fallen into the living room.  While we were gutting it, we found a tin box in the wall filled with old playing cards and small trinkets.  On the old pine table was a yellowed newspaper, folded in half as if the family who had lived there before had simply got up and left never to return.  I spent the summer making up stories about who the people were and why they had left, each artifact an intricate piece of the puzzle.

I never did find out their story and it always kind of bothered me that there were these strange pieces of another life.  I wanted the full story and it felt like because they were gone, these weird old relics would never make sense.

While cleaning the other day, I found an old tape recorder at the bottom of a drawer.  To my surprise, when I pushed the button, my grandmother’s voice crackled, filling the room.  For a few moments, she was telling me ghost stories the way she had that day on the breezy porch with the water lapping softly at the edge of the lawn.  I remembered what she had told me—the thing she had said after I had turned off the tape recorder: “She’s still out there, I think…singing in the trees…”  She was talking about her friend Vera, who had died not too long ago.  It’s funny to think that she wasn’t totally wrong.  All these years later, even though my grandma was gone, her voice and her stories were still here. It was just a small artifact of her life–not the whole story, but it was a moment that I could preserve.

It doesn’t matter what stories the artifacts might tell.  They don’t have to tell the absolute truth, because they are only small moments.  What matters is that they—the stories—lived and you found them.  That’s the power of artifacts and the stories live in the moment that they are found.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I only took one picture of the underwear guy on Waikiki Beach. I wonder what he was doing?

Waikiki Man