The Liebster Award 4.0

Liebster No 4

Back in September (which seems like forever ago now), Rona at Tea with Polly was kind enough to nominate me for my fourth Liebster Award. (Thank you, Rona!) It’s taken me a while to get to it because of the holiday craziness offline and the end-of-year posts I wanted to get out. But now, I finally have time to start catching up on awards again. (Yes, I still have others to do. It’s a little embarrassing…)

Btw, if you’re a fellow tea lover, I highly recommend you follow Tea with Polly. I’ve been part of Rona’s readership for a while, and have found some delectable-sounding teas and herbal tisanes I want to try as a result. 😉

Here are the rules for this round of the Liebster Award:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the questions given to you by the nominator.
  3. Nominate up to 11 other bloggers.
  4. Create 11 questions for the nominees.
  5. Notify all nominees via social media and/or their blogs.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Rona’s 10 Questions

Question #1: What motivates you to keep blogging?

Two things keep me motivated when it comes to blogging. First, my readers. I love reading your comments and interacting with you here, on your own blogs, and on social media. You’ve helped make this endeavor fun and worthwhile, and I’m grateful for it. 🙂

Second, I actually have a backlog of topics for future blog posts. (*blushes*) Between suggestions I get from readers, coming up with my own ideas, and following a number of memes, the well isn’t going to dry up anytime soon. Might as well share those ideas here, right?

Question #2: How long does it take you to write a blog post?

It depends on the article. Blog tags and award posts like this are easy to pull together. My tea reviews for A Bibliophile’s Reverie write up quickly, too. I write notes manually about each tea as I try them, then type up those notes later. Author interviews aren’t difficult, either, since those require mostly proofreading, formatting, and link-adding on my end. (The authors do the bulk of the work, to be honest!)

Which ones take the longest? The Character Evolution Files, without contest. Those require a lot of thought, research, and careful study. The same goes for my Theme: A Story’s Soul posts for DIY MFA.

Blue Hydrangea Lang Mug

Question #3: What is the most beautiful thing you’ve seen today?

This lovely mug from Lang. It’s my “Mug of the Week” for tea at work. I bought it at a gift shop on Cape Cod a couple years ago, and immediately fell in love with its butterfly and blue hydrangea pattern. (Hydrangeas are my favorite flowers, and butterflies are one of my favorite insects.) Plus, the mug comes in a gorgeous matching box that you can use for either storing your mug or gift-wrapping. 🙂

FYI – You can buy the mug and gift box directly from Lang here.

Question #4: What is something you are interested in, but which most people think is “weird”?

I’ve gotten some interesting reactions when I tell people that I see a Reiki practitioner and explore new age concepts like chakras, tarot / oracle cards, and crystal therapy. (My younger brother said something like this: “Wait. You do that weird, creepy stuff?”) But it works for me. I don’t know how else to explain it, other than my life has changed for the better by embracing an alternative spirituality.

Big Book of Mandalas Inner Peace

Question #5: Other than blogging, how do you express your creativity?

Novel-writing, of course! 🙂 I used to write poetry, too, as an outlet for personal expression. I’m not artistic in other ways; I don’t paint, draw, or compose / perform music, though I love music and appreciate all forms of art. However, I bought my first mandala coloring book (The Big Book of Mandalas Coloring Book for Inner Peace and Inspiration, pictured above) over the summer, and I really like it so far. It’s fun to choose the colors you want to use and see how the final piece turns out, and relaxing as well.

Question #6: What did your mother “always tell you” that turned out to be true? Or not?

I’m going with the “not turned out to be true” option.

When I was younger, my mother told me that, while there’s nothing wrong about dreaming of the future, it’s better to be realistic and settle for things (job / career, lifestyle, relationships) that are easy to attain. I believed her then, but now I don’t. If you don’t take risks – if you don’t fully believe in the vision of how your life can be and then work toward making those dreams come true – how can you be happy with settling for less than what you want? So far I haven’t been satisfied, and now I’m working steadily towards the things I really, truly want.

Hogwarts Express

The Hogwarts Express! I so badly wish I could ride it. 😀

Question #7: Do you prefer planes, trains, or automobiles? Why?

Depends on how far I’m traveling. I’m fine with car rides up to 5 hours. (That’s roughly how long it takes to drive to where my relatives live in Maine.) Anything longer, and I’ll meet you at the airport or train station.

I once did a car trip to Baltimore, Maryland. It was about 8 hours from where I live in Massachusetts, including a couple rest stops along the way – but by Hour #7, I wanted OUT of that car. It was the closest I’d ever been to feeling claustrophobic, and after that I resolved to never travel that far by car again. Ever.

Also, I like the views you get when you’re in a plane or train. I’ve never been fearful of air travel. In fact, I find it fascinating to look down at Earth, see what’s below, and guess where I might be based on landmarks or coastal shapes. And when I rode the train to NYC last summer for Writer’s Digest Conference, I didn’t realize that part of the trip would involve hugging the Connecticut shoreline. It thrilled the ocean lover in me. 🙂

Question #8: What music do you like, but are embarrassed to admit?

I’ve never been embarrassed to admit that I’m a metalhead. At the same time, I’m aware that some people view metal music in a negative light. The lyrical content can be (*ahem*) disturbing at times; and the loud, distorted nature of the music combined with those lyrics and the band’s image can be frightening or unsettling. However, that stereotype is NOT indicative of what all metal music is like. It’s just like any other genre of music, and the lyrics can be about anything. Love, relationships, nature, current events and social issues, inspirations from books / movies / mythology – and the list goes on. Plus, metal bands often exercise their imagination with their music – and the results are can be incredible! Some use orchestras and choirs and feature classically trained singers. Others bring in keyboards and synthesizers for a moody, atmospheric sound; or incorporate influences from medieval, jazz, and world music.

I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m ranting (and I apologize if it does). But what I’m trying to say is that not all metal music is satanic, violent, or offensive. In fact, some of it is quite beautiful and lyrically relatable on a universal level. This is one of the reasons why I started my An Ode To… series. I won’t showcase metal bands every time; but when I do, I hope that some of what readers hear takes them by pleasant surprise.

Lilo & Stich Aliens

Question #9: Are aliens real? Have you ever seen any?

Do the aliens I’ve read about in books or seen in movies or TV shows count? Probably not, right? I guess that’s a “no” to the “seen any aliens” half. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is or has been life on other planets.

Question #10: What’s your all-time favorite desert island tea? (Yes, you have to choose ONE!)

WHAAAAT??? You mean I can only choose ONE?!?! 😦

OK… Based on my mood right now, I would pick any jasmine-scented oolong tea. It combines my favorite type of tea with my favorite floral scent, and the flavor profile is like being carried to Heaven’s garden on a clear moonlit night. (*sighs happily*)

If you’re interested in trying such an oolong, check out Teavana’s Jasmine Oolong or Royal Jasmine Oolong from Bingley’s Teas. They’re both ambrosial. 🙂

My Nominees for the Liebster Award & My Questions to Them

I couldn’t quite get to 11 nominees, but here they are. Please don’t feel obligated to accept if you don’t have the time or prefer to skip award posts. Just know that I think you’re deserving of the recognition. 😉

  1. Amelia @ Throwaway Literature
  2. Andrea Wiesner @ A Life of Pages
  3. Ayunda @ Tea & Paperbacks
  4. Jubilare
  5. Sarah Sanborn @ Lady of the Pen
  6. Shim @ Sketches and Scribbles
  7. Solveig Werner
  8. Sunny @ A Splash of Ink
  9. Zezee @ Zezee With Books

Here are my questions for them:

  1. What is one thing you absolutely must do every morning, or else you feel like something is missing from your routine?
  2. Describe your sense of humor. Is it dry, snarky / sarcastic, silly / slapstick, etc.? What kinds of things make you laugh?
  3. Name one thing you were terrified of as a child.
  4. What is your favorite time of day (e.g., sunrise or sunset, morning / afternoon / night, etc.)?
  5. What is your favorite song from the year you were born?
  6. What book would people be most surprised to know is one of your all-time favorites?
  7. Who are some of your favorite creative inspirations outside your preferred medium? For example, if you’re a writer, who are some of your favorite musicians, photographers, or artists (if you have any)?
  8. What are some of your favorite food scents?
  9. You’ve had a bad day, and a loved one offers to make whatever you want for dinner. What would be your “cheer-me-up” meal?
  10. Do you know what your MBTI Personality Type is? Do you agree that it matches who you are?
  11. Name five (5) things you would want in your dream home. If you already consider your current home as your “dream home,” name your five (5) favorite things about it.

How about you? You don’t have to be a nominee to answer my questions, or the ones Rona asked me. Feel free to share your answers below! 

33 thoughts on “The Liebster Award 4.0

  1. Oh what a lovely flower design on this particular award, Sara. I found the questions and replies very interesting – and LOVE your beautiful mug. No wonder it made its way into the blog award interview… I was very interested to read your comments regarding music – it’s fascinating and a bit depressing – that when you look at general attitudes towards music genres, people tend towards the negative… Heavy metal music isn’t the only victim, here; folk music is just as pillories and belittled and yet, like metal, there are all sorts of types and sub-genres out there. The one thing I celebrate is that with the chance to garner music from all OVER the place – I have 5,000+ tracks and counting… I can choose what I like from whatever era and genre. The only single thing my music has in common is that I like it and I can write to it:). Do you have a specific playlist for special scenes when you are writing?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sarah! 🙂

      Isn’t it purdy? I especially love how hydrangea blossoms can change color depending on the soil conditions. The beautiful blue color happens in more acidic soil, or if a lot of pine trees grow in the area. Do they grow where you live?

      “The one thing I celebrate is that with the chance to garner music from all OVER the place – I have 5,000+ tracks and counting… I can choose what I like from whatever era and genre. The only single thing my music has in common is that I like it and I can write to it:)”

      *applauds* And that’s the beauty about being openminded about music. I love metal, rock, progressive, singer-songwriter, new age / instrumentals, classical crossover – all kinds of music, and I feel like my world is a better place for embracing all of it. It’s sort of like reading a wide range of literary genres, or enjoying different film genres.

      Funny you mention the “novel playlist”: I put certain songs on repeat to match the mood of the scene I’m working on. With TKC, it tends to be film score music (I find music with vocals and lyrics to be distracting when I’m novel-writing). But I’m also working on a separate “soundtrack” of vocal-and-lyric songs that remind me of parts of the book… And I’m considering sharing some of those songs during the Draft #3 phase of Chronicling The Craft. What do you think?

      And how about you? Do you have a playlist for Running Out of Space and the other books?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yes, hydrangeas grow very well here, particularly where we live because of the salty air. I have one in my garden that my grandmother gave me as a cutting from the bush just outside her front door. She’s now dead, so that bush is very precious to me:). My mother adds epsom salts to the bushes in her garden to get the beautiful blue colour in the fflowers (sorry about the above typo, but I cannot get an ‘f’ there unless I press 2 for some reason…). As for the music – oh yes, I think publishing your playlist at some stage when writing about your editing process would be fascinating. As for a playlist, yes! ‘Miranda’s Tempest’, which I have only recently completed had some VERY emotional scenes, so I compiled a suitable playlist and cried buckets as I wrote them…

        Liked by 1 person

      • That makes sense about the hydrangea. They grow by the dozens on Cape Cod, which is where I fell in love with them… but I never made the salt air connection until now.

        OK. So far, everyone I’ve mentioned the novel playlist sharing bit for Round #3 of Chronicling The Craft has said “Yes.” So I’ll definitely consider it. 😉 Thanks for your input!

        Awwwwww. What kinds of songs did you use for your Miranda’s Tempest playlist?


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  3. Thanks for nominating me, can’t wait to answer your wonderful questions 🙂
    I’m a very spiritual person as well, my dad and I have been practicing Reiki for years and I always feel like I’m more healthy physically and spiritually than my friends because of that 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the nomination, Sara! 🙂
    I’m curious about those “new age” things as well because I think there is something to them but my family also think it’s weird. I really like your answer to #6 and I agree that it’s best to try for what you want instead of settling and being unhappy. Though I believe it, I’m still trying to act on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Zezee! 🙂

      New age is one of those things that may or may not work for everyone. But if you’re openminded about it, chances are your spirit will respond to it more readily. 😉

      Yeah, #6 is hard to work towards. It requires a lot of patience, belief, and in some cases confronting your fear of the unknown. But if we don’t confront that fear, how will we ever move forward and become our bravest selves?

      Goodness, I’m being rather philosophical right now. *lol*

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats on the award. It’s always nice receiving one, isn’t it? 🙂

    I completely relate to you about blogging. I haven’t done it for long, but it has brought something valuable in my life. I’ve connected with truly fantastic people and I’m so grateful for that. The blogosphere is a place I’d recommand to anyone 🙂
    Weird that I intentionally avoided it for such a long time, no?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sarah! Yes, it’s nice to receive awards. I just feel that I can’t respond to them quickly. (I still have a few more in my backlog to take care of. :S )

      “Weird that I intentionally avoided it for such a long time, no?”

      I don’t so, actually. The decision of whether to blog can be really intimidating for some people. One of my offline friends is debating this right now, and questions like “What should I write about?” and “How often should I blog?” and “How do I get an audience?” are scaring her from getting started. Other people might have their own reasons to avoid blogging, too.

      If you don’t mind me asking, why did you avoid blogging for a while?


      • For the reasons you say above: what would I blog about?

        Well, tell your friend I did wonder about it and that kept me away from blogging for a few years. Then when I became serious about publishing, I set up my blog becuase… you know… if you’re an author you have to have one. And I’m so happy I did. The blogosphere is a fantastic place, so full of people ready to connect with you and help you out. And about what to blog about, you’ll be inspired. When I set up my blog I had completely different ideas what to blog about, then, by responding to what readers seem to appreciate the most, I came to what I’m doing now.

        I’m happy the ‘marketing rules’ forced me to set a blog 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s great to know more about you! I hate long car rides too, but I took a lot of them growing up, my longest being the 14 hour drive from Atlanta to Miami. I was not a happy camper at the end of that. XD I like air travel. I just haven’t done it much. Next month will be my third plain ride ever (not including the one when I was a newborn because I don’t remember it. XD). I’ve seen a lot of adult coloring books going around and they seem really cool. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • 14 hours?! Oyy!! How did you make it that far?

      I like air travel, too, but it’s been a couple years since my last plane trip.

      It’s actually very tempting to get more coloring books once the “adult coloring book” bug has bitten you. But I’ve behaved myself so far. I’m trying not to buy a second book until I finish the first one, and so far it’s working.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a more supportive environment that most people realize – not just in the book-blogging realm, but in the “writerly” blogging realm, too. Nobody tries to compete with one another. They’re more interested in seeing one another succeed, encouraging each other when we’re down, sharing common interests, and learning new things. It’s wonderful. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Bec!


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    • Thanks! I wasn’t a spiritual person for a long time, either, but a personal crisis of sorts inspired me to find ways to help me keep a positive outlook on life. New age was one of the things that helped me make that turnaround. 🙂

      What kind of metal music do you like?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Big thumbs up for a logical and thoughtful defense of metal music 🙂

    And on the driving, when I was little, my parents drove us all the way to COLORADO. At the time, I remember it was fun, but I was bored through the flatter states! As an adult, the farthest I’ve driven in a straight shot is Arkansas (15-ish hours), and I know you’ve seen my epic driving posts! I actually love to drive, as long as I’m driving and can pick the music . . .
    I have only been on a train once, but I’d really love to ride one again! Are you taking the train to NYC this time around too? How long does it take.
    I also love flying – that first feeling of leaving the ground never gets old.
    And based on the Kdrama I’m currently watching (and Doctor Who), I’m almost starting to *wish* aliens were real. At least, that kind. Not the blow up New York/LA/Tokyo or farm humans kind!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. 🙂 I felt like it needed to be said.

      Oh… my… I don’t know how you do all that driving. I would have had you drop me off at an airport or train station a long time ago! *lol* :S

      Oh yes, I’m definitely planning to take the train again to NYC this summer. (I haven’t bought the tickets yet, but I’ve got plenty of time for that.) It took about 3 1/2 hours either way, and I picked off-peak times to avoid rush-hour slowdowns. It’s only about 1 or so hours faster than by car… But driving to and around NYC would be a huge mistake, I think!

      Ha ha! You don’t wish the aliens from Independence Day, Men In Black, and such were real? 😉


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  10. I love blogging and the writing community, for much the same reasons you listed. It’s a wonderful chance to share, connect, and learn.

    For several years now I’ve gone on a road trip out to IL, which is a 2-day drive (lots of stops on the way), so I’d say car and train are my favorite ways to travel. 🙂 There is something fun about flying too, as long as it’s short–I can’t stand long hours on a plan. 😀

    That tea cup is beautiful! I must try Jasmine Oolong now that Teavana has it!

    Liked by 1 person

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