Friday, May 17, 2013

Liebster Blog Award (Mark's Turn)

Thank you, The Magic Violinist!

The Magic Violinist (who is a fantastic writer and blogger) tagged me for the Liebster Blog Award. Here are the rules:

1. Each nominee must answer 11 questions.
2. Create 11 questions for the next nominees to answer.
3. Link back to who nominated them.
4. Choose 11 people and link them to your post.
5. Go to their page and tell them.
6. No tag backs!

Some writing/book related questions:

1. What is your least favorite book and why?

I really don't know. I don't tend to remember books I haven't liked at all.. I had a very poor experience with The Grapes of Wrath as a junior in high school, but that could have been due to how it was taught. I do remember thinking that the Joads could have traveled to California in less time than it took me to read about it.

2. Have you ever read anything that made you laugh so hard people stared? What did you read?

Not that I can remember. I've had books that make me laugh out loud, but I don't usually read in a public place where someone else would see my reaction. Maybe I need to do that sometime.

3. Who is your favorite villain and why? (He doesn't have to be likable for him to be your favorite).

Severus Snape of Harry Potter fame. Some may argue with me and say that he ends up being a hero of sorts, and that he isn't really the villain. Voldemort is. But J.K. Rowling sets him up as a villain of sorts throughout the entire book series. I think Snape is one of the most well-written characters I have ever encountered. I would love to be able to create a character with such convoluted motivations, who acts so consistently with the back story I've created for him, whether or not that past ever makes it into the book. That is no easy task.

4. What is your favorite movie that was based on a book and why?

I am so terrible with coming up with favorites that I sometimes dread having to do it. I've seen a number of movies based on books, and normally the movie is not as good as the book. I do remember seeing "Chocolat" a number of years ago and thinking that it was better than the book. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is also a great adaptation of a book. I love how it follows the book so closely so it feels like I can really picture what J.K. Rowling had in mind.

5. What is your least favorite movie that was based on a book and why?

Well, I haven't read the book and didn't even realize that this move was based on a book, but "Admissions" with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd was a huge disappointment. Realizing that Tina Fey had nothing to do with writing the screenplay lessened the pain of that movie, but still, it was not a great movie. Bad book or bad script? I don't know. But either way not the best 2 hours I've spent in a movie theater.

6. Which of your book characters is most like you?

None, I hope.

7. Have you ever based any of your characters after people you know? (Have you ever based any villains after people you know)?

Yes, and yes. Basing a villain on a person we know was extremely satisfying. (Does that make me a bad person?)

8. Which book has inspired you in your writing the most? 

It's really hard to say since there have been so many great books from which to draw inspiration. Stephen King's On Writing is an incredible book and probably was the first book that truly began to make me feel like I could write books. I also think books that are well crafted in general are inspirational (The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter come to mind). Books with an interesting format are also inspirational to me.

9. When do you feel most inspired? Morning, night, Saturdays? Why?

I don't know that I can count on any specific time of day or day of the week for inspiration. Ideas for writing and the motivation to do it come at various times, depending on what I'm doing.

10. Do you write more description or dialogue in your stories? 

I tend toward writing more description. It seems like that flows for me a lot more easily than dialogue. I would like to get better at writing more dialogue because sometimes your characters can say all that needs to be said to move the story forward and even provide pivotal information.

11. What annoys you most in books? How about in your books? 

In my own books I get annoyed when my characters decide to stop speaking, or when they decide to stop doing anything at all. Sometimes I try to nudge them along but they refuse to help me out. Yelling at them doesn't help either.

In books in general I get annoyed when the author seems to get lazy. I read a book where the ending happened so abruptly I am convinced she was up against her publisher's deadline so she hammered out the last chapter without thinking much. I don't like when the description gets so wordy so as to detract from the story. Details are good, but too many details is the lazy way to fill space. I have a problem with this, too. I can admit it.

11 Questions from Me about Books and Stuff 

1. How do you feel about main characters dying in a book?
2. If you could be any character in any book you've ever read, who would you be and why?
3. Is there a book you'd really love to see be turned into a movie? Why?
4. If there was a movie made about your life, what genre would be the best way to tell the story?
5. Who would play you in the movie from #4?
6. Does answering 11 questions instead of an even dozen make you nervous? Why or why not?
7. Alfred Hitchcock said, "The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder." How long could you hold your bladder for a great movie?
8. Is there a perfect length for a book? If you think there is, how long is that? Why do you feel that way? (Yes, those are three questions after one number.)
9. You can either win a Pulitzer for your book or an Oscar for your screenplay. Which would you rather win? Why? (You may not find a way to say "both," no matter how clever you think you are.)
10. Do you prefer a book that has titles for every chapter or just numbers? Why?
11. You've just written the book you've always wanted to write. Your magnum opus. Now Steven Spielberg has bought the movie rights. Which song do you want playing during the closing credits, and why?

Tag, You're It

I now tag Stacy (turnabout is fair play), Thing 1--no, wait. Can't do that since it's against the rules. Um, er. I basically know the same people online as my family so . . .

Tagging 11 people is a daunting task. Tagging 11 people, who haven't been tagged before, and who will actually answer my 11 questions is even more difficult. I'm going to break the rules and not actually tag anyone. Consider this the "Tag of the Unknown Blogger." Maybe 11 people will come across these questions and decide to bog their own answers. Whatever happens, a big thank you goes out to The Magic Violinist.

10 comments:

Boquinha said...

Funny. I remember chapter two of Grapes of Wrath being one of the longest ways ever to say, "The turtle crossed the road." Then again, I'm not sure I'd grown to appreciate yet the importance of good writing in addition to a good story . . .

Snape! Such a great answer. I agree with what you wrote.

In #11, are you talking about Mockingjay?

Great questions, too. Good food for thought. I like our "free pass" idea. :)

Dr. Mark said...

Yes, I was thinking of Mockingjay, but I've read others like that, too.

I agree with you on not appreciating good writing at that point in my life. My teacher was a little odd. He kept refering to James Joyce (even though it was an American Lit class, and none of us had read any Joyce at that point) and he would randomly say, "the portrait of the artist" while he gestured with one of his hands. I really liked him overall, but sometimes I wasn't sure where he was coming from.

The Magic Violinist said...

Ugh, "Mockingjay" was NOT as good as it could've been.

Snape is an "anti-hero" of sorts, so he counts for both. ;)

Ha ha, why don't you want your characters to be based off of you?

No, that doesn't make you a bad person. XD I do it, too.

Dr. Mark said...

So, when you have all of these awesome books you are writing, and you are working under a deadline, DO NOT neglect the ending. No, no. No. Drives me crazy!

It's not that I'm opposed to writing a character based on me. It's that I hope none of my existing characters are like me. I don't know if that would be a good thing.

Jimmy said...

I'll give it a shot...


1. How do you feel about main characters dying in a book? I'm fine with it. It makes the book memorable. For instance, I can't remember any details at all about Where the Red Fern Grows except that the dogs died and that was really sad.
2. If you could be any character in any book you've ever read, who would you be and why? Icarus, with a less tragic ending and more disciplined ambition.
3. Is there a book you'd really love to see be turned into a movie? Why? American Pastoral. I can't even explain why that book has stuck with me. The idea of having such a blessed life and seeing it all go wrong because of the person you love the most in this world. It would just be intersting to see how that plays out in a movie.
4. If there was a movie made about your life, what genre would be the best way to tell the story? Documentary. I mean my life lends itself to a pretty straightforward telling of it. Not a lot to sensationalize.
5. Who would play you in the movie from #4? Well, me if it's a documentary. But if it were fictionalized, I think Scott Baio has always had an uncanny resemblence to me at any age.
6. Does answering 11 questions instead of an even dozen make you nervous? Why or why not? No. Never even thought about it.
7. Alfred Hitchcock said, "The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder." How long could you hold your bladder for a great movie? Seriously, I get teased because it takes me five attempts to watch a movie. It's not so much my bladder. Usually I fall asleep once the lights in the theater go out.
8. Is there a perfect length for a book? If you think there is, how long is that? Why do you feel that way? (Yes, those are three questions after one number.) A book can only be too long or just right. There are several books I haven't even attempted to read because just looking at them I felt like they were too long. The same can be said for movies. Forrest Gump and Dances with Wolves are two examples of movies that would have been better if they had ended sooner.
9. You can either win a Pulitzer for your book or an Oscar for your screenplay. Which would you rather win? Why? (You may not find a way to say "both," no matter how clever you think you are.) Pulitzer. I'm down to earth that way. Hollywood recognition would feel really uncomfortable for me.
10. Do you prefer a book that has titles for every chapter or just numbers? Why? Titles,when they're done right, add meaning to the story.
11. You've just written the book you've always wanted to write. Your magnum opus. Now Steven Spielberg has bought the movie writes. Which song do you want playing during the closing credits, and why? Let It Be. It would honor my mom, named Marybelle.

Boquinha said...

Jimmy, I love reading these! I think I learned something new in every single answer. Aren't prompts fun?!?

I even looked up American Pastoral - looks fascinating! The article I read said it's won a Pulitzer, is on Time's list of "All-Time 100 Greatest Novels," and also that the movie rights have been purchased by Paramount.

I would be uncomfortable with the Hollywood scene, too. I don't envy their lives.

#11? Great, sweet answer.

Dr. Mark said...

Great answers, Jimmy!

Scott Baio, eh? I'm pretty sure he has plenty of time for a new project at the moment. And now that I think of it, there is a bit of a resemblance.

I agree with you about "Forrest Gump." I was out of the country when the movie originally came out, and all I heard when I got back were references to running and boxes of chocolates. I saw the movie and I was underwhelmed. I never saw "Dances with Wolves," but I know that's a long one.

Long books don't usually scare me, but it's tough to find time to get through them. As a young adult I read most of Tom Clancy's novels, all of which are a bit long. This year I decided to work through the first 4 books of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series (A Game of Thrones, etc.) and that's like 4,000 pages in all. I was so engrossed in the stories that it's only taken a couple of months to read those. I'm waiting on book 5 only because I've had a few other things I've really wanted to read, but the next volume is calling to me. If a book is well written I'm happy to read plenty of pages.

"Let It Be" sounds perfect. What a nice tribute.

Dave Johnson said...

I'm on this!

Dave Johnson said...

1. Have you ever watched a movie that made you very hungry? Which one?

Definitely Julie & Julia - all except the aspics. The scene of Julia Child first tasting French cooking reminds me of how I act when I eat my favorite dishes. Gilmore Girl's (not a movie, but almost counts) movie nights have inspired junk-food movie nights at our own house and we go all out. Pies, chips and dip, candy, chocolate in various forms, ice cream, and anything else bad for you.

2. What is the stupidest movie you've ever seen?

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This is based on a book by Hunter S. Thompson (who I've since learned is a bit overrated, at least IMO) and stars Johnny Depp. My wife and I used to see anything with Johnny Depp but this movie was so terrible and ridiculous...it was an insult to bad movies everywhere. I think it's about two drug addicts traveling across the country, stumbling into various stores and theaters, barfing all over the place, and lots of riding in a convertible. They ride in a convertible. A lot. Did I mention the riding? In the convertible? It takes up 90% of the movie. Then they ride in the convertible some more. It is the only movie we've walked out of (75% of the way through - after the graphic close up of Depp's friend barfing copiously) and it not only made me cautious of any Johnny Depp movie to follow, but I'm also a bit put off by convertibles now. Did I mention they ride around in a convertible a lot? Well, THEY DO.

3. When do you make time for yourself to write? Is it a regular schedule?

In the immortal words of Madelaine L'Engle, "I write only when I'm inspired. And I make sure to be inspired every morning between six and eleven." For me it's more like one and four when we're in the school year, 9 and noon when we're out, but I try to hit it everyday for a few hours, whether it's working on an MS, editing, or querying.

4. What book would you love to see made into a movie?

The List of 7 by Mark Frost. This book didn't do very well back in the 90's when it was written but would make a fantastic movie. It revolves around the fictional adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle and a spy named Jack Sparks who becomes his inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes character. Not only great for Sherlock nerds, but a great story in and of itself. Creepy and funny with plenty of opportunity for great monster effects and action sequences.

OH! Also - (can I have two?) Repairman Jack by F. Paul Wilson. Repairman Jack is a vigilante who lives off the grid, but lives a normal life with his girlfriend and her daughter. He only takes select jobs, "fixing" problems for people who have been let down by the judicial system. There are so far eight books in the series and any of them would make a great supernatural thriller.

I could go on and on: The Last/Spook's Apprentice, Good Omens, The Book of Three, The Unexpected Mrs. Polifax (though made in 1971, needs to be redone), big screen version of A Wrinkle in Time. I wanted Oz the Great and Powerful since I was a kid, and have yet to go see it. Can you believe that?

Dave Johnson said...

5. Who would you cast in the main roles?

The List of 7 - Martin Freeman. Though a bit shorter than I imagine Doyle, he has the proper British sensibilities for the part. Actually, his Watson and Bilbo character are very much what I imagine Doyle to be like in the Frost book.

Repairman Jack - John Cusak. The running joke in the Repairman books is that no one can quite remember what Jack looks like because there's nothing memorable about him. Cusak has that "everyman" quality and blank expression that I've always envisioned for Jack. Plus, Jack never gets too shook up or panicked, like Cusak's assassin character in Grosse Pointe Blank.

6. If you could write for any TV show, which would it be?

I'd like to say The Walking Dead, but I doubt I would be up to the high bar they've set. The Wire, but it's over and I don't have the background in police work necessary, I just love the snappy and realistic dialogue. Hmmm...I guess I would do well with something like Arrested Development because I love the intertwining stories and off the cuff sarcasm, especially of Jason Bateman's character.

7. Do you like books/movies that have ambiguous endings? Why or why not?

I generally do. I don't like them too ambiguous though. The Usual Suspects was brilliant, as was Inception. I like to at least know what question I should be asking myself at the end, but I don't care for stories that drop off because the writer simply couldn't think of a satisfying ending, and IMO it's pretty easy to spot that distinction.

8. Who is the best weird character you've ever seen in a book? Movie?

George McFly was pretty out there in Back To The Future. In a book, I'd have to go with Mr. Teatime (pronounced Tea-a-time-y) in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel, The Hogfather. He's an over zealous assassin that has a great deal of compassion for his victims and yet kills them in unnecessarily excruciating fashions. Of course, Pratchett doesn't give us the gory details, just enough to let our imaginations do the rest of the work. Maybe my imagination is unpleasant to begin with or something, but the character always makes me shudder because he's just so bizarre.

9. Is there any character in a book or movie that you wish were in your family?

That's a long list. Sam Vimes (Discworld), Gregor (Gregor the Overlander), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Thomas Ward (The Spooks/Last Apprentice series), Charles Wallace Murray (A Wrinkle in Time), Halt (The Ranger's Apprentice)...

10. If you could be best friends with any character, who would it be and why?

Death, from the Discworld novels. Though he's just an anthropomorphism of Death in the form of the Grim Reaper, he has a bone-dry sense of humor, is always punctual, and has a way of unsettling people that would be fun to watch. He also seems like a really nice guy.



11. What character (book or movie) do you most relate to and why?

I probably relate most strongly to Captain Sam Vimes of the City Watch in the Discworld novels. Sam's only real desire in life is to spend time with his wife and son, yet finds himself continually pulled into drama at work and in the city because he feels a sense of duty to make things better for everyone, and simultaneously despises himself for feeling that obligation. I'm a lot more like him than I care to admit. He's very grumpy about the whole thing and really just wants to be left alone, yet this compulsion drives him into situations he resents being a part of. He's grown on me so much over the years and I "get" him more than I have any other character.