Monday, February 4, 2013

Liebster Award Acceptance


What's a Liebster Award? (Copied from Nat's awesome writing blog. Thanks for nominating me, Nat. You're Super Spesh.)

A Liebster Award is a nod from fellow bloggers that they like something you're doing. It's also a way of spreading the word about up and coming blogs and bloggers. Does it get any better than getting a pat on the back from your peers?

As with most awards, there are some rules.

Liebster Award Rules

  1. Post the award image on your blog. There are several varieties. Google them and find the one you like the most.
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions asked by the person/people who nominated you.
  4. Make up 11 questions for those to be nominated.
  5. Nominate 11 people to receive the award. They should have fewer than 200 followers on their blog.
  6. If you're nominated, your name and/or link will appear at the bottom of this post. Just follow the same format and voila! you're a recipient.


11 Random Facts

Futurehusband likes to say I have a stone heart. I don't know why; I'm ever so kind. It's not true, you know. I've had it tested.

I adopted my dog, Toby, from the Humane Society. I'd been looking for a dog for a few months, but I knew I didn't want to buy one from a breeder. I wanted a purse dog. Yes, one small enough to fit in a large purse. Don't judge. 

Anyway, I'd been to the Human Society once a week for several weeks, but all they had were pit bulls or large breeds or bony, large-headed chihuahuas. Except they had this one dog that looked like a little lion. Every time I visited, he'd be the only one who wouldn't come up to the door, sniffing and whining and pawing to be let out. His file, hanging on the fence, was triple the thickness of the other dogs' files. I leafed through it. 

The first entries: "Doesn't play well with others. Doesn't like his butt touched. Doesn't like to be picked up. Tail was once broken, never healed right. Will never wag again." Huh. Sounded familiar. 

The latter entries showed promise: "Socializing: barks at big dogs when they play too rough. Let vet touch rump. Played with volunteer for first time." 

They told me he'd been transferred from shelter to shelter, because many of the shelters in my area have a no-kill policy. No one knew how old he was, and no one had shown any interest. It made me sad to think he'd probably die of old age, alone and unloved. 

So I took him home. He keeps my other dogs in line, patrols the house and neighborhood with a Napoleon complex, likes expensive shoes. 

Futurehusband says he's exactly like me. 

I ate ants when I was a kid. My older brother told me they liked to be eaten.

I ruin the punchline of jokes because I overthink them.

English is not my first language. I understand two dialects from the Philippines, Spanish, and slowly-spoken French.

I was on my high school Speech and Debate Team with activist Jose Antonio Vargas. He used to be really hyper as a teenager.

While going to UCSB for undergrad, I lived in the Biko Co-op for three years. It was like a sorority house and frat house combined. With hippies. We had a "vegan" fridge (no meat products allowed) and an "omnivore" fridge. One time, an omni had a falling out with a vegan and peed in the vegan fridge. Or was it the other way around…?

Steve Aoki, founder of Din Mak Records, was in the room next to mine. I remember leaning against his doorframe as he tried to explain how to silkscreen T-shirts to me. I learned a lot about leadership by watching him interact with people.

I was seven or eight when I realized that holding on to one's truth can sometimes be painful or humiliating or both. A teacher was explaining the difference between alive and not alive. A piece of chalk is not alive, but a cat is. A pencil is not alive, a child is. An egg is not alive, but a chicken is. 

I remember raising my hand and saying that a fertilized chicken egg is alive. (We'd had chickens in the Philippines. If you hold a fertilized egg up to the light, you can see the chick develop day by day. Technically speaking, a cellular process to support life external to another life was going on within that egg.) 

He said all eggs are not alive, all chickens are alive, and to go stand in the corner for lying to my classmates.

No one is my entire family has ever read my stories. Because I don’t write romance. Or "kung-fu". 

Futurehusband likes to say pregnancy made me more "human." As if the pregnancy hormones eroded my cynicism. He might be right. I haven't found a test for that yet.

11 Nat Questions

  1. If you could live in one of your story worlds, where would it be and why?
This is a tough question. One could say each world a writer creates reveals a deep longing to escape the world they're in and live in the one they can manipulate. What does that say if most of my short stories take place in the Real World? … With regard to the fantasy works, I'd have to say Taramagne, because humans are on the brink of extinction. Would I be one of the humans? Probably not.
  1. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
Both have their time and place.
  1. After the first draft is complete, do you take a systematic approach to revision, or just do a read-through and fix what needs fixing? If systematic, describe your system.
It's a system:
A. Read it through on the PC, mostly cutting fluff and fixing what needs fixing.
B. Print it out. Edit with a red pen with an eye for language, rhythm, dialogue, theme development.
C. Do the edits on the PC and print it out for Futurehusband to comment on.
D. Make appropriate changes based on Futurehusband's comments.
E. Give/Send to my Betas.
F. Revise, rewrite, revise, rewrite, etc.
  1. Reese's Peanut Butter cups, or Twix?
Both have their time and place.
  1. Do you prefer to write happy endings or not-so-happy endings? Why?
I write the story the characters create. Whether they're happy or not-so-happy depends on the reader.
  1. Dogs or cats? And yes, there is a correct answer! Explain why you have the correct answer :)
If the question is which one makes a better pet, then my answer is: whichever one you want. I've had both. I like both. So I've never taken a stance in the dog versus cat debate. I've also kept fancy rats, bearded dragons, New Caldeonian geckos, lovebirds, cockatiels, reef tanks, and planted tanks. And I used to work in a pet store. From that I've learned peoples' personalities respond better to some companions better than others. The correct answer is to choose a companion that helps you think outside yourself and helps you develop empathy towards the world in general. For some people it's a boa constrictor. I don't judge.
  1. Do you have a method for approaching plots? Do you outline in advance, or simply free write and see where the story takes you?
For flash fiction and short stories, I just vomit it out.

The longer stories always come out of the blue. A character, usually the main character, comes to me and says "I have a story."

I'm usually already working on one or two projects or studying for a midterm so I say, "Take a number."

"Listen to me!" they say.

"Take a f*cking number! Can't you see I'm busy?"

And they take a number and join the other characters waiting just beyond my desk. Some of them pace, glaring at me now and then. Some of them curl up in the corner and lean their heads against the wall. One of them, Ben, sits patiently on the dining room table, Excalibur dark and gleaming across his knees. Jack and Priya are looking through my pantry. Marci, poor Marci, sits in the far corner of the sofa, bare feet tucked under her legs, watching Youtube videos on her phone.  

But I can hear and see their thoughts. Sometimes, they think so loud or show me something so distracting, I have to write it down and purge it from my mind just so I can think of my own life again.

Then I take all those hastily written notes – on  napkins, the insides of cereal boxes, torn envelopes snatched from the recycling bin – and stitch together their stories' outlines.
  1. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kind?
Yes. I listen to specific songs which I've discovered have something that helps me write a specific scene better. Like, Song A has a pace which helps me picture a traveling scene. Or Song B has a part in its melody that helps me feel the anger in a confrontation scene. Whenever I hear a song which evokes a strong feeling, I match it to the story it reminds me of, which results in playlists that I'll listen to through the whole revising process. It helps maintain my focus on pace, imagery, characterization and dialogue.
  1. Who was the headlining act at the last concert you attended? What do you like about them?
I don't go to concerts because I can't tolerate the loudness, or the traffic going in and coming out of Shoreline Amphitheater. I suppose I could walk there…. Still, the loudness….  
  1. If you could go back into the past and tell your younger self a single thing, what would it be and why?
"You know that cute, shy guy who always smiles at you when you walk past each other on Sueno Road? The one with the red corvette? Don't sleep with him."

Just kidding.

I wouldn't say anything to my younger self. I've thought about this, and anything I said could change my current life, which is too good to change. A lot of good things came from the past things I've suffered.
  1. If you could step into the future and tell your future self a single thing, what would it be and why?
"I told you so." Because… I told you so.

Make up 11 Questions for nominees

1. What makes you cry?
2. What is your deepest fear -  a fear you haven't told anyone because you don't want to appear foolish?
3. Han or Luke?
4. How do you deal with criticism?
5. What's the best suggestion you have for new writers?
6. Plotter or Pantser?
7. What short story has influenced your life (not necessarily writing life) the most?
8. What current world event has made you disappointed in humanity?
9. What current world event has made your proud of humanity?
10. Which of your bad writing habits do you wish you could break?
11. What do you like best about your current project?

My Nominees:
I only have three so far, as many blogs I follow already have more than 200 followers (or they don't have a counter-thing.) Will update as I do some sleuthing.



  1. Love this! So fun getting to know you in more than 140 characters! Especially loved the answer about your dog. Reminded me of my first dog (with one exception: she was a 73-pound German Shepherd). Sometimes it's the one nobody else wants that ends up changing your life forever.

    1. Thanks Laura!

      Regarding "the one nobody else wants," I try to be open to cosmic messages and to trust my intuition; too often I overthink things.

      In retrospect, most of the things that contribute to my present happiness come from *feeling* it was the right thing to do, despite *knowing* the possible consequences.

  2. Thanks for the nod. I don't know 11 people. Maybe I need to work on that.

    1. I know hundreds of people. I *know* only myself.

      How deep is that? Like, oubliette deep.