Dear Friends and Readers,liebster2

I’ve been out sick for the past week, doing what I can to not fall too far behind. Now I’m back in the saddle and ready to ride again. I’ve come by a couple of really nice surprises this week, one of which is a secret, for now. The other, which I’m equally excited about, is the Liebster Award. On March 20, my good friend Nillu Nasser Stelter nominated me for this award and on March 23, another good friend nominated me as well, via his blog Amnesia Soup. To receive recommendation from writers I respect and admire is a high honor indeed, but to know I have the confidence of my peers and friends is priceless. I can’t thank you enough, Nillu and my anonymous friend at Amnesia Soup, for nominating my little blog.

To accept the award, I must answer the questions asked by Nillu and Amnesia Soup, then recommend a few nominees of my own and list a few questions for them, should they choose to participate. And of course I accept, with a heart full to bursting! (Please forgive the cliche.) Without any ado, on to the Q & A!

 Q & A

Nillu’s Questions:

Describe a happy memory to us.

When I was a teenager, my parents had strict rules about dating, but I had a huge crush on the one guy in my high school with a pony tail. Imagine my surprise when I found out he liked me, too! So, after much begging and praying on my part, my parents consented to have the young man over for a movie date. In our living room. With my mom there to supervise. It was the best I was going to get, so I took it.

So my boyfriend shows up dressed in white from head to toe, with his long hair tied back, looking like nothing short of a rock star to my teenage, rose-imbued eyes. He’s the epitome of politeness when meeting my mother, and even goes out of his way to extend a hand in friendship to my little brother, the little politician who’s never met a stranger. Oddly enough, the little guy refused to come out from behind my mom’s legs. My mother and I exchanged an uneasy glance, but then I remembered that my boyfriend was perfect, and didn’t give my brother’s odd behavior another thought.

Throughout the movie, enduring a few awkward, stolen kisses from a very bold (and slightly older) boy, I kept noticing a little blonde head peeking around the corner but never coming within sight. I was a bundle of heightened, anxious teenage nerves to begin with, but my beloved little brother’s behavior gnawed at my conscience. Was there something obviously wrong about this guy that I was missing?

When the “date” was over, and my boyfriend left, my mom and I both looked to my little brother for an explanation of his behavior. This little boy was one who would walk right up to any man to shake his hand and give his name. He was afraid of no one, and he charmed everyone he met. We couldn’t understand for the life of us why he avoided my boyfriend as he did. When we asked him why he was shy around the guy, he didn’t answer. Instead, he found his favorite VHS tape, put it in the VCR and hit play.

The issue became clear when the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers, led by the ubiquitous (at least in our household at the time) White Power Ranger, appeared on the screen. My mother and I burst into laughter the likes of which led to belly aches and tears at the realization. My little brother thought I was dating his idol, the White Power Ranger!

That memory will always be one of my happiest because there was no greater feeling for a teenage me than when my little brother thought I was the coolest person in the world.

Describe the setting in which you write.

In my house, the den and living room are open to one another, but when writing, I keep all the curtains drawn. I write in a corner of the den, with a lamp at my left and the darkness of the two rooms surrounding me. It’s almost like having my own personal cave with internet and electricity and all the coffee my poor kidneys can endure. I can easily pretend that the outside world doesn’t exist, and get lost in the world that comes from my mind, out of my fingertips and onto the screen before me. That bright, white page casts a soft glow around me and little else. The blank is comforting, welcoming, inviting. The darkness around me is like a shield. I write from within a cave that comes from my mind. I can’t come often, with kids and a husband and home to care for, but it’s always here waiting.

What is the best book you have read recently?

The last book I read was Zero Echo Shadow Prime (ZESP) by Peter Samet. I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC, but the book will be available April 3, 2014. It was fantastic! I have several books in my back log that I fully intend to read, but I keep getting pulled back to ZESP. You ever read a book, and then feel compelled to read it again almost immediately? ZESP is one of those rare books for me.

Which is your go to song to lift your spirits if you are feeling low?

That depends on what type of low I’m feeling.
When I’m frustrated with life and just need to vent, I typically go for Three Days Grace Home, Never Too Late, Animal I Have Become, I Hate Everything About You; and Slipknot’s Duality, Wait and Bleed, Snuff, and Dead Memories.
When I’m feeling low energy, and just need a little boost, I have a few songs I’ll play on repeat and dance along with while doing housework. Those are Eminem’s Berzerk, Zendaya’s Replay, and Ester Dean’s Drop it Low.
When I’m feeling lonesome for my man and can’t get to him right away (three kids and his full time job cause this), I go to Clint Black’s When I Said I Do, Shania Twain’s You’re Still The One, Faith Hill’s The Way You Love Me, and Celine Dion’s Because You Loved Me for a pick me up.

Which author or artist has influenced you the most?

I’d have to say Ayn Rand. And I don’t mean that I write like her, because I don’t think that I do. She has impacted me as an individual, reached me on a core level and helped to shape me into the person I have become.

What is your favourite item of clothing?

I don’t have one piece of clothing that I love the most, but I do love socks. Especially fuzzy, colorful ones. Thick, warm socks that can almost double as slippers are the best. I’m really easy to buy for. My wish list will always include pens, paper, and socks. I need very little else to remain content.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

London. I have a few writer friends who live in that general vicinity and I think if I could just get myself over to that continent, meeting these awesome folks would at least become plausible.

What would you change about the world if you had the power?

The general lack of accountability. If people would spend more time trying to be the best individuals they can be, and less time trying to make others into who they think they should be, the world would be a better place overall.

What are your favourite and least favourite characteristics?

My exuberance and my exuberance.  At best, I’m sometimes seen as an annoying little bugger who’s just buzzing for attention. At worst, I’m seen as an overbearing, obnoxious know-it-all who simply must be running the show. A former employer called me “aggressive” because I took the initiative to go to the next level, seeking more work, doing more than what was expected of me. He saw it as a very good thing. I was an asset to his company. My coworkers, who sought to keep me in my place so they could keep their jobs (understandably), saw me as a threat. Competition. I see me as someone who doesn’t half-ass anything and always tries to improve. Sometimes I fall short of my own expectations, because all that energy translates to unrealistic goals at times. My exuberance has always been equally good and bad.

If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

I want to fly.

Amnesia Soup’s Questions:

What are some of the best books you’ve recently read?

Aside from ZESP, which I mentioned above, The Lost One, The Seals of Abgal.

What book do you wish you had written?

Those books that are so great that I wish I’d written them? Yeah, nope. I’m glad the author who wrote them, wrote them. No one could have done it quite the way they did. I do have a few books that I wish to write, and will. But I can’t tell you about those just yet.

Who is the biggest influence in your life?

Ayn Rand, my mother and my grandmother in equal measure. I see bits of each of these women in myself daily.

Describe a perfect day:

Sleep until 10 am. A full breakfast buffet prepared and set out for the family to enjoy all together. The children go off to play with their Nanny (I don’t have a Nanny or someone who prepares our meals) while I write until lunch, when we all meet again for a light meal. The children are off to play again, in the vast gardens of our estate (totally non-existent, but you did say perfect, so I’m going all out) while I write away the afternoon. In the midst of all of this, there is someone else to take care of the housework and bill paying and all other such frivolities I simply can not be bothered with. After supper with the family, and a couple of hours spent playing board games or watching movies with the husband and kids, we tuck them into bed and enjoy another hour or two to ourselves. When it’s time for us to go to bed, [ Insert blank screen for approximately one hour] we spend the rest of the night talking and laughing until we drift off to dreams.

Describe your writing process / environment / routine:

I described my environment above. As for the process/routine? It’s different every time. It makes sense though, for my personality. I’m a Pisces, and ever changing. My writing process changes with each new aspect I learn.

If you had a time machine, what would you do with it?

Sell it.

What is your oldest memory?

When I was three or four years old, my grandfather (mom’s dad) came outside where I was swinging to tell me my other grandfather had passed away. It’s not a vivid memory, but I remember that I was swinging and that I was wearing a dress.

What’s the one thing that drives you mad beyond all else?

Other drivers. Especially in the school parking lot when I’m trying to collect my children and get the Hell out of there.

Blogging vs. writing fiction: what do you get out of each? Which is more difficult for you?

What I get out of each is transcendence. Writing in any form allows me to experience worlds farther beyond my front door than I’d ever before imagined possible. Blogging has opened the door to many personalities I’ve met who have each influenced me in some way.  Blogging has allowed be to examine myself more closely and get to know myself better. This has been instrumental in helping me to identify flaws I’d like to change, and strengths I’d like to define and build upon. Writing fiction has helped me to see the real world differently, more clearly than I ever have before.

Neither is particularly difficult. Fighting the little battles that allow me the time to write is difficult. Sometimes I fight against myself, my own fears and hesitations make powerful adversaries. Sometimes it’s all I can do to get the house cleaned and the kids fed in a day, and it’s a fight to stay awake long enough to just enjoy some quiet time to myself. On those days, writing is nearly impossible and the fight becomes about disappointment and depression. Writing is easy. Winning the battles that lead to writing is the hard part.

Okay, whew. That was fun! Now, on to my nominations. This award is for those blogs who have fewer than 200 followers, but I’m ashamed to admit I don’t even know how to check how many followers any particular blog has. I’m going to recommend some of my favorite blogs, while trying to avoid duplicating nominations and those with 200+ followers.

Do check out Nillu’s Blog and Amnesia Soup. If they hadn’t already nominated me, thereby having answered their fair share of questions, I’d be nominating both.

And the nominees are:

J. Edward Paul

Torrent of Darkness by Ryan Williamson

Scribblings of Brina Williamson

From the Ashes of Old Stories by Kevin Gross

My Train of Thoughts On… by Karen

Now for a few questions for Jon, Ryan, Brina, Kevin and Karen, if they should choose to accept the nomination and participate.

1- What motivates you?

2- What holds you back?

3- Name one goal you’d like to achieve in the next five years.

4- Using love as a metaphor, describe writing/art.

5- Some say anger is the strongest emotion. Others swear it is sorrow. Still others insist joy outweighs the rest. Which emotion do you feel is the strongest, and how does that emotion play into your writing/art?

6- When you’re a famous and fabulously wealthy author/artist, how will you spend your days? (Dream big, folks.)

That’s it for me. And after all the writing I’ve done here so far, I dare say that’s quite enough. Until we meet again, my beloved friends and readers, Adieu!

– Jess


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