double-liebstered!

Recently Margit Sage nominated me for a Liebster Award. I am always amazed anyone wants to nominate me for any awards, so getting one from someone whose blog I enjoy so much really means something! Then Cindy Vaskova nominated me for one today!

Both these people write excellent fiction and are far more connected in the blogosphere than I am, so getting a nod from them is very cool. In honour of the double occasion, I took the current Liebster badge and made a double image version:

Those who are Liebstered (is that a term? it is now!) thank their nominator, answer the questions posed to them, nominate more people, and pose their own questions. Because I've got two sets of questions to answer, I'll do my nominations and post my own questions first.

And the nominees are:
  1. Helen Howell: Helen recently published a new novella (Mind Noise). She also has a new blog site!
  2. Larry Kollar: Larry has published nine books (most of them in the last twelve months if I'm not mistaken). He also blogs about e-book publishing and the nuts and bolts of writing.
  3. Tony Noland: Tony published his debut novel, Verbosity's Vengeance, last year. He also blogs regularly about writer's craft.
  4. Icy Sedgwick: Icy has a new novella coming out soon. When she isn't posting flash fiction on her site, she sometimes blogs about crafting.
Questions:
  1. Do you have one place you write in, several regular places, or are you a "writing nomad" (write where you can)?
  2. What are your favourite writing tools (either physical or software)?
  3. What is your biggest writing "win" from the last twelve months?
  4. Author and genre comparisons can be tricky, but what are some signs that a reader will like your books (ie: if they liked X book or like work by Y author, they should check out your books)?
  5. The universe grants you power over all of writer-dom for one day. What's the one thing you make all writers stop (or start) doing?
  6. Recognising that everyone on my nomination list writes in the science fiction/fantasy/horror end of the spectrum — how much time to you spend on planning and envisioning your setting relative to character development?
  7. Does your setting come first, your characters, or a combination of both?
  8. How much research do you do when working on a story?
  9. What are your favourite sources for setting inspiration?
  10. If you could spend time in one of your settings, which one would you pick and how long would you stay there?
I'm going to answer the questions in the order they came in:

Margit's questions
  1. What is the soundtrack to a great writing day for you?
    I don't listen to music much when I'm writing, but some background noise helps. The sound of the dishwasher or my robot vacuum cleaner are good sounds, because they mean I'm getting help, and therefore am "allowed" to write! If I do listen to music, it's got to have no words, which these days usually means Glide/Poltergeist.

  2. Is there a song that embodies your favorite character (or poem) that you’ve written? If so, what is it?
    My main characters tend to get favourite songs, even if they never get mentioned in the stories. Tilly's favourite song is "America" by Simon & Garfunkel; the verse that goes "Laughing on the bus/Playing games with the faces/She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy/I said be careful his bow tie is really a camera" inspired the entire series.

    The two main characters in the novel I currently have in first draft have Foo Fighers' "Learn to Fly" as their theme song, although only one of them knows it.

  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?
    Yes. If I could draw I would be able to draw their portraits. The visual conception doesn't really change unless there's a big time jump (like with Tilly).

  4. Why do you write?
    Because the characters keep showing up in my head, and I keep seeing the scenes, and I keep knowing what happens. Writing it down is the most sane thing to do. I effectively stopped writing for ten years, and it was a very bad thing, because the ideas kept coming anyhow. I always have a hard time believing people when they say they don't have this happen to them.

  5. How does your writing begin? With a visual, a concept, or something else entirely?
    Oooh, this one is uncomfortable to talk about, because it always sounds a bit mad. Either I'm listening in on the characters and sitting near them in their scene, or else the characters show up and start telling me what happened. The latter tends to make the stories that get the most compliments, but it's a little weird as an experience because it really does feel like talking to ghosts.

  6. When you write, where are you? What are you surrounded with/by?
    Usually I'm in the living room, on my couch, surrounded by cluttermy knitting stuff and the stereo. Sometimes I go to one of the local cafés.

  7. What author do you wish every writer you talk to had previously read?
    Philip K. Dick.

  8. What are your writing goals this year?
    1. Finish my current WIP first draft. 2. Edit Tilly to beta-reader status 3. outline the story that will be next WIP first draft.

  9. What advice would you like to share with your blog readers right now?
    If you haven't yet read this blog post by Hugh Howey, you should. Whether you're a writer or not. Because he's right, and there's more to this world than the producer/consumer dichotomy.

  10. What is the reaction you’re most hoping for from your readers? What reaction would put a giant grin on your face?
    For this blog post, or in general? In general I love it when someone finds something in my writing that is far, far more cool than anything I thought of when I was writing it. Because I'm lucky to have some very smart people reading my stories, this happens frequently.
Now for Cindy's questions!
  1. Who’s your hero?
    I don't know if I have one! Usually I admire people for very specific things. Let's say Albert Camus for today, then, because I admire him both for his writing and his work with the French Resistance.

  2. What gave the beginning of your writing experience?
    These are tough questions, Cindy! Okay, what I usually say to questions like this is when I learned how to write I started writing them down.

  3. How do you engage on a story? Do you outline or are you a more of a discovery writer?
    Shorter works I usually have entirely in my head before I write them down (not sure whether that's outlining or discovery). For longer works, I used to make it up as I went along, but I'm transitioning to doing some outlining (not super-detailed, but a framework).

  4. In what genre/s do you write and why?
    Mostly science fiction, but just strange tales in general. Partly because that's what I like to read, but partly because strange things happen all the time, but people don't like to take notice of them. It's like we've all agreed it's not polite.

  5. What’s that one line you’re really proud of?
    I thought that one line would be near the end of my first published short story, but it doesn't stand on its own at all. For the record, it's "I sat on the little strip of grass between Avery’s grave and the grave of the next person who had died, and I cried for all of us, the dead and the guilty." So instead I'm going to go with the near-end of "Cough", which is "And I cough. I cough out the machines of life, and it benefits no one." Both of those are kind of heavy. Hm.

  6. You get to bring to life one character for 24 hours. Which one is that and why?
    Oh, Mags. Because Mags and I, we need to talk.

  7. Do you regret reading a book? Which and why?
    I always regret reading "cod liver oil" books (ie: book I don't enjoy, but read because someone insists I need to). I'm not comfortable mentioning specific books, but a lot of literary fiction and romantic fiction has fallen into this category. Why? I don't do hand-wringing over domestic trivia well; I find it boring. Domestic trivia always needs some cryptozoology or ghosts to brighten it up.

  8. Pick a childhood favourite book. Which is it?
    My edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, which were only lightly translated from the German and not Disneyfied at all, plus there were wonderfully scary engravings for each story. My mum threw out all my childhood books when I went to university (long story). I now own three different versions of Grimm's and none are that version. I mourn that book, and many of the others which were lost. I still look for them in used bookstores.

  9. How many books do you plan to read in 2014?
    As many as I can! I don't like to do numbers on books a lot — I didn't in school and I don't now.

  10. You have been given a one way ticket offering to any fictional destination. Which one would you choose?
    Diagon Alley, to open a yarn shop and write in after hours. Now where did I put that business plan...