Sunshine Awards

Something to soothe.

Something to soothe.

Hey I haven’t written much of late. If anyone’s still following me, I warned you a year ago this would happen. It’s the way of my job. I LOVE MY JOB. Not really. But I want to write, so I’m forcing myself to pander some inkling of a post to those who want to read of me. A little.

Anyway, Miss Vinegar over at (Piss, Coffee, and Vinegar) nominated, well, everyone she knows to do this. Since she (somewhat) knows me, I’ll dracula bite. I must:

1) Thank the Blog who nominated me
2) Answer the previous blogger’s eleven questions
3) Nominate bloggers to answer similar 11 questions. Usually writing-related. I think. I’ll make it so.



1) If you had to survive on one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

An oddly complicated question, given the parameters. I’m sure the expected response is something like “Pizza” or “jerky,” but if I’m to answer truthfully, and with the greatest level of creativity, I’d say Stew. Given the vast array of ingredients that could go into stew, my palate boredom would be much less than something with pizza. Or jerky.

On the other hand, if I were to say my favorite food in the world to eat, I’d have to say salt and pepper squid from a delicious hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place in the middle of nowhere. I love food…

2) What’s more important in a story: character, plot, or voice? 

Voice. Hands down. I can stomach weak characters. I can stomach cliche plot. I can’t stomach a weak voice. I love this question. Voice introduces so much to the story that would leave everything else tone-deaf. I have often set down books with strong characters, strong plot, and an uncertain, or meandering, or inconsistent voice.

Books with (my idea of) a weak voice:
First three (3) Harry Potter books,
Twilight books,
Lullaby, by Chuck Palahniuk (DISCLAIMER! I LOVE THIS MAN’S WRITING!) (Also note: italicizing all book titles for this post due to the use of Bold for question headings)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggars

I hope I didn’t just make a bunch of enemies.

3) What’s the first book you remember being deeply affected by?

Windchaser, a Dinotopia series book. The first one in the series, in fact. It cemented a very antiqued interest in complex emotional characters while simultaneously kindling a love for adventure books and exploration reminiscent of 18th century seafaring journeys. Plus the idea of arriving on an undiscovered island full of sentient dinosaurs via dolphin back seemed quite fantastical, without the magic, a vein of the fantasy genre I still write in (mostly) today.

4) How important is good grammar in a novel to you?

As important as a strong voice. If you don’t write with skill, even if it is simple and direct and without flourish, you lose me as a reader. The ONLY exception I see to this is a writer so skilled at writing he knows how to bend, or break, the rules of grammar. Take Finnegan’s Wake, for example. Read two sentences into that and you know you aren’t in Kansas anymore. And it’s brilliant.

5) Would you rather get blackout drunk in front of
A) Your mother-in-law, or
B) Your boss?

Boss. My boss is a laid back, carefree cowboy. He’d shake his head, all embarrassed-like, and give me shit for the rest of my days working. My mom, on the other hand, wouldn’t ever let me live it down. I’d suddenly be a danger to myself, needing observation, and quite possibly suicidal. Nope. B, please.

6) In honor of the season, tell me one good memory you have about Halloween as a child. (The first year I was diabetic for Halloween, my dad traded me my candy for a guitar. My dad is, obviously, very cool.)

I don’t remember much, but when I was in 7th or 8th grade, I built my own Halloween costume out of Constructs, an (at the time) futuristic type of lincoln logs. I spent hours on it, and I managed to make a praying mantis headpiece (really difficult to wear) and a pair of splayed wings in the back. I finished it up with a bit of construction paper taped on the wings to achieve a “rainbow” effect, and viola. I was a praying mantis. None of my classmates understood or cared about it, but the teachers were impressed. I was happy as can be to have done it. I wonder where that can-do attitude is nowadays…

7) One word or phrase that really annoys you.

“It is what it is.” No kidding, it is. It’s pointless filler for a completely different meaning intended. “I can’t change it” works SO MUCH BETTER, and it conveys the exact thing you wish to communicate. I recently caught myself mid-twitch when someone said it. And on top of that, it isn’t even true half the time. You CAN change it, but you don’t want the responsibility of doing so, therefore use passive voice to push off the idea that you can actually affect a change. “It is what it is.” “Yeah, but you can change that.” “I guess you’re right. Whatever.” Blah.

8) Give me five single words that describe your writing style.

Florid, divergent (from definition 2 of, complex, introspective, FUN!

9) What’s the best part of an average day for you?

There’s a little someone I love talking to. It doesn’t happen terribly often–usually we just text throughout the day–but talking to her elevates my day to a new level. I love being outside, even in the rain. I’m strange like that. Mostly talking to her.

10) If you’re writing, somebody somewhere encouraged you to do it. Who?

I hated to write when growing up. I was terrible at it (third grade), and it drove me nuts I couldn’t write as fast as my parents. My father had one of the first commercially available computers, and he wrote on it quite quickly. Nobody ever encouraged me to write, though. By fifth grade I wrote at a decent speed, home row keys and everything, and I dreamed vivid dreams. So being able to write them down became a kind of therapeutic way to handle them. That being said, even though I won an award in 8th grade for a short story (best in all the city), nobody’s ever encouraged me to write. In fact, both my parents preferred I wouldn’t. Even college professors told me to give up that dream and work on something more income-worthy. Being grounded frequently for my sharp mouth, confined to my room quite often and unable to talk to people about things led me to simply sit down and write things down. My first book was written entirely on a yellow pad of paper. Page after page. A fanfic of Dinotopia, in fact. Haha

11) What makes you decide a story is bad?

Poorly researched details usually slow me to a stop. Poorly thought-out characters also hurt a lot. If a writer posits his MC is “brilliant,” that character better damn well be brilliant. If the setting is a bustling desert city, that city better be dry, people better be dressed right, and I better feel the desert. Also. Writers who cut corners because a bunch of writing may be difficult irks me to no end. A novel I tried to read involved a courtesan who became advisor to the king, from nothing. She walked into a city on one page, opened a bakery the next, and sold sweetbreads to royalty on the third. The writer literally cut out all the meatiest parts of the story. Why? Because she doesn’t have the writing chops. Bad story. Bad!

And pace. I have a lot of opinions on this question. Haha Poor pace, poor momentum really hurt a story. Five pages of intricate set-up for a character and setting, all detailed and perfected and descriptive, and page six switches perspective to the girl he just met, leaving all that info behind for three chapters.

I don’t know if anyone still reads my stuff, so I can’t really nominate anyone. I’ve kept up on several bloggers throughout the past year, and they’ve provided me with a lot of enjoyment and entertainment (and insight). ScifiFantasyLitChick, for one, doggedly reviews and discusses her favorite writing/TV/Movies with SPUNK and an awkward vulnerability I’ve grown to love. In particular I enjoyed her Gotham reviews (and since I recently started watching the series on Netflix, I went back and reread her insights. SPOT ON). Confessions of a Broccoli Addict for two: lighter, shorter posts usually adorn this blogger’s page, with a mix of insight and discussion. This blog is a warm teacup full of words, meant to be sipped. A new blogger and personal RL friend of mine decided to start up a small project here on wordpress, Soccer Parent Etiquette. A Guide. Current exploits include rocking out, sucking up as much politics as he can, and a brand of sarcasm that makes you laugh if it isn’t directed at you. Finally, I’m a bit of a fanboy for this writer: S. Zainab Williams dominates the ethereal comic/graphic novel scene with finesse and gothic skill. She also knows the importance of the business side more than most I’ve found, and she’s living her dream.

Anyway! Me 11 questions:

  1. Are you more of an Early Bird Coffee or Night Owl Energy Drink person? AND WHY!?
  2. What is your favorite genre of music to listen to while driving? What is your favorite band and song within that genre?
  3. A lot of people nowadays get creative inspiration from movies/tv shows. What’s yours and, of course, why?
  4. You’re self-sufficient on a deserted island. Ample food, shelter, water. No interest in being saved. What are the three books you want to accompany you? Go.
  5. Do you prefer a male or female protagonist? Why? Who is your favorite?
  6. What makes you decide a story is bad? (reused from previous survey. Love the question)
  7. NaNoWriMO: do you speak it?
  8. What is your greatest single memory of writing/creative success?
  9. What is your totem animal/creature? Why?
  10. Would you be willing to beta read for me? (pandering, I know)
  11. Spin on number 4: All the same parameters, but, you have a typewriter with reams of paper. What story would you write? Why?

Thanks for everyone who read. Given this is the kickoff day for NaNoWriMo, and I rarely do it (because work), I posted this in part to inspire (perhaps) someone to write, and in part to try and inspire myself to write. Good luck to everyone out there. And  keep the words flowing! May you all find yourselves on deserted islands with chocolate-covered bananas as far as the eye can see.


2 thoughts on “Sunshine Awards

  1. Hah I’m so sorry, Chris, I don’t know how this slipped by me. Good to see your sunshiny face once more.

    However, I’m not sure you’re allowed to answer ‘stew’ to that question. I mean, come on, that’s like me answering ‘pizza’. 😛

    I think I’d pick something very expensive, get a store of it going, and sell it for profit. Then I can just buy whatever I want. That’s ‘living on’ one food, right? Right?

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