The Liebster Award is a thing I’ve noticed on some nice blogs, and I’ve always figured it had something to do with the blog being acknowledged as good. Now, after doing some research I know that it is a way for bloggers to tell other bloggers that they are great and favourite and dearest, as the German name indicates, and it’s also a way to bring more visibility to the less followed blogs. I think the idea is really nice, so when I found out I was nominated for this sweet award by the amazing Trip, the author of the awesome Eight Cicadas, I was so surprised and happy! Thank you so much! You can check out her Liebster Award post here, where you can also see her other nominees and their great stories.
And so, as the rules of the Liebster Award state, I now have to:
- Put the award on my blog.
- Thank the blogger who nominated me.
- Nominate 5 to 11 other blogs whom I feel deserve this award and have fewer than or equal to 300 followers (or 3000, or 1000, or something else depending on which rules are used).
- Answer the 11 questions that were asked.
- Then ask the people I nominate 11 questions.
At first the third part felt a bit daunting, because I haven’t to my shame been a very active reader of blogs lately. So in-between my schoolwork and NaNoing, I set out on a journey of discovery into the world of the Sims blogs, something I haven’t done in a while. So as a special side bonus of a very nice acknowledgement I found myself a lot of great new reads! So again, thank you for that, Trip!
Without any further rambling (too late), here are my five nominations for the Liebster Award in alphabetical order:
(Para)Normal Neighborhood by CitizenErased14: So I know Trip and a few others have already Liebsterized the author for their other story, Dust to Dust, but I figured I could give some love to their other story as well. This story has just a few chapters out at the moment, but it already has me hooked. It’s well written, and packed with fantasy and fun. The characters are quirky and the series even has its moments of morbid humour. In other words, it’s just the kind of thing I love!
Fear the Orchard by SimComix: This is a dark and kind of twisted story, and some of the characters are very unpleasant, but I like dark and twisted stuff, and this is a well-written variety of it. The story also has a way of making me really care about the less unpleasant characters, and spark my interest with its fantasy elements and the amazingly pretty pictures.
In the Valley of the Sun by medleymisty: These stories are like vibrant, beautiful paintings. I especially love the Surreal Darkness -story. I love everything about it; its idea and story, its pictures, its vivid descriptions, and the profound thoughts and the amazing atmosphere it has. The other stories found there are great too, with dark themes, horror elements, awesome visuals, and the consistently amazing writing style.
The Edith Prescott Mystery Series by raquelaroden: I love detective stories, and in this blog you can find a whole series of them! The mystery genre is definitely not easy to tackle, so a tip of the hat for the author for trying and succeeding in doing that. Add to that some drama, interesting and very believable characters with good character development, and a world that really feels alive, and you’ve got yourself a very enjoyable read.
The Second Time Around by Lioness InTheRain: This is a Bring Me to Life -challenge story that combines fantasy with drama. If I had to describe it with just one word, it would be: beautiful. It’s beautifully written, with a slightly archaic and flowery narration that surprisingly works (which in my opinion rarely does in modern stories), and the pictures are absolutely gorgeous. The story is finished and the writer has stated they have quit Simming, but I don’t see that as a reason for this great story to fade into oblivion.
Here are the questions I was asked:
- Describe how you came up with the idea for any of your stories.
It depends so much on the story, but most of the time the idea either stews somewhere in my mind and I keep stirring it around and adding things until I can call it a story and then I start writing. Sometimes it just springs to mind and I just have to write it down. With the Sims I usually start by making the central family with a very rough idea of what I want with it and then take it from there. I think with the Fey of Life I did just that as well; made a family with a very rough idea, and then it started to come alive. The Fey of Life also combines some of the better ideas from my older Sims stories that shall never see the light of day again.
- Has there ever been a chapter that turned out much differently than planned once you finished it?
So far not that much with my Sims stories, but with other stories, yes, definitely. Sometimes the characters just start doing things almost on their own. Just some time ago in my NaNo, two characters were supposed to have a conversation in an apartment in Rome, where the other guy was just supposed to give the other a quest of a sort, but then they somehow decided to go explore a cave in Spain. And that’s definitely not the weirdest example. 🙂 With the Sims the most that has happened is that something a Sim has done in-game has inspired me to add something to their characterisation or the scenes they are in. That has been really fun, but nothing too drastic yet.
- Did you ever have the opposite expected reaction from your readers to a chapter?
I’m always very critical of everything I do, and I’m kind of afraid of scarring my readers with the potential awfulness of my writing, but so far the reception has always been very good. The weird things is that I’m still kind of expecting a positive reaction even when I’m fearing the worst, because there is this little voice in my head that is suggesting that I just might be good enough after all.
- What do you find particularly limiting for storytelling in whatever iteration of the game you’re playing?
Sometimes I feel like I just can’t find the right props or the look I want for my characters, no matter how many CC sites I go through. Otherwise… I don’t know. I usually don’t mind that something is limited and just like finding ways of getting around it. I feel like the sandboxy nature of the Sims 3 worlds has helped my storytelling a lot compared to what taking pictures was like in the Sims 2. That said, the Sims’ facial animations could be better, and sometimes I don’t quite get the reaction that I want out of them (yes, even with cheats and mods).
- Do you have a favorite plot or character-building exercise that you’d like to share?
I usually get further acquainted with my characters by having them discuss something with some other character in my head. They can tackle a thing from the character’s past, personality, future, or just discuss favourites, philosophy, or politics, or whatever I or they feel like. Sometimes the characters might say something totally unexpected if one just lets the thoughts flow.
- How closely to you treat your stories like they take place in the world of The Sims? (i.e. Do you use all of its weird humor and euphemisms? Or not?)
My Sims stories take place in SimNation, I refer to the places it has and I try not to make too many pop-culture references outside of the Sims world. But the Sims’ world in my stories is a bit less… obviously fantastical than in the games, mostly because I like to make the fantasy elements being strange or unknown to the normal people a plot point in my stories (and there will most likely be fantasy elements in my stories).
- Is there a piece of outside media that has profoundly influenced your work?
I read a lot, and a lot of the things I read influence my own writing. Some of my favourite author’s include Terry Pratchett (rest in peace, sir Pratchett… sigh…), Don Rosa, Neil Gaiman, Eoin Colfer, and many others. My favourite TV series, Pushing Daisies has also influenced a lot of the things I create, mainly with its way of combining bright, cheery visuals and quirkiness with dark humour and more serious subject matter. I’m also into arts, and some of my favourite art styles, mainly expressionism and surrealism, tend to show up both visually and in writing in my work. Or at least try to. And while I’m at it, I also have to give a big shout-out to my favourite video game series, Thief (the Dark Project, the Metal Age, and Deadly Shadows), because it was the thing that cemented my love for urban fantasy. Wow, that was a lot of favourites… I’m sure there are other things, but those come to mind first. The music I listen to while writing also helps me set the mood for the scene and I usually pick something that I think would suit the scene’s mood. If I don’t have anything particular in mind, I usually go with Porcupine Tree, Apulanta, or the soundtracks of the Silent Hill games.
- Some people think that stories set in The Sims games shouldn’t try and tackle serious issues, and set themselves up for failure that way. Do you think that there are issues just too serious to tackle in these kinds of stories?
People say that? Huh… Well, my short answer: No. Longer answer: If there is an issue – no matter how serious – that one wants to address, it should be possible in pretty much any medium. The hard part is to do it well and make it work in whatever medium they choose. Sims stories are kind of a niche thing, as far as the larger scale is considered, so trying to address an issue through them might not be the way to go if one wants to get their message out to a huge number of people, however. That doesn’t mean someone can’t address something more serious with their stories. Personally, stories that do exactly that interest me the most, as long as they are written well and aren’t too obvious about wanting to send a message (if that is their intent… although sometimes obviousness can be necessary). If addressing a serious issue, even if done well, makes the story fail, then that’s unfortunate, but hopefully even then the message got out to at least someone. I hope that made at least some sense.
- Are there any tropes in SimLit that bug you? Or kinds of stories you don’t care to read?
I’m not interested in stories focusing entirely (or almost entirely) on romance (not just in Sims stories, but anywhere), or the kinds of stories that are there just to tell about the events of a challenge in a sort of documentary fashion. That said, both types of stories can of course be done well, and I’m not saying these kinds of stories are bad as concepts either. In fact, they’re great concepts! I just don’t have enough interest to read them. There is also something that makes me lose interest in almost any Legacy Challenge -story I try to read. Not sure what it is, though.
- Do you feel like this community has made you into a better writer?
Oh, my, yes! When I started writing stories for the Sims 2 long ago, they were some of the first stories I had ever put on the Internet. I didn’t have much experience in writing in English either, and writing for the Sims community helped me considerably better my writing skills in general, but especially in English. It has also given me confidence in my skills as a writer thanks to the very awesome and positive feedback I’ve got. So thank you!
The questions for my nominees (others can also answer these if they are in the mood for random Q&A):
- Have you noticed some repeating themes/plotlines/style choices/other quirks in your stories?
- What do you find to be the best cure for writer’s block? Or do you not experience it at all?
- Do you have a character/Sim you’ve created that you’re especially fond of?
- Do you have a preferred genre to write in?
- Are there some features that bug you in the language you write in?
- What is your favourite thing about making the Sims stories?
- What kinds of stories or blogs do you especially like to read?
- Besides writing, are there other things you like to do on your free time?
- Are you a cat person or a dog person, or something else?
- What is your favourite mode of transportation?
- Could you name some of the little things in life that make you happy?