Sunday, May 4, 2014

Loving the Leibster!

I think that many of us as writers do what we do because we have some inner desire to be heard, to have our thoughts expressed and received by others and, quite simply, to matter in ways that our personalities or life circumstances won't allow.  

When I was a single man, I used to hear my female friends constantly bemoan the fact that there were no gentlemen to be found.  Where are the nice guys?!   I would listen to all of this talk, with my back against the wall, eyes cast downward, silently screaming, "I'm right here!  I'm right here!"   But, never looking up and making eye contact, never crossing the room to grab some lady boldly by the heart, never able to simply say to anyone, "Hi!  My name is Tom and I think I might be worth getting to know."

Well, I think that I might be worth getting to know.  Writing allows me to bravely put myself out there.  My words are my voice.  My words are, for you, the gateway into my world.  I am happy to welcome you inside.  I am glad that so many of you are so comfortable there.

I write to be heard and to be noticed and to be valued.    When I write and then, receive feedback in the form of positive comments, that fills me up.  Your words of praise, returned to me, make me feel as though what I do each time I put my thoughts down on paper, is worthwhile.  Your encouragement pushes me forward and helps build me up.  I am forever grateful for your support.

Your words of encouragement are, truly, enough. But, sometimes, someone goes a step further.  A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a wonderfully-talented writer and very generous person named Michelle Stanley.  Michelle's blog can be reached here.  I highly recommend that you take a few moments and pop on over to her site.  She is a very creative writer and a great supporter of the rest of us who write.  Evidence of her generous and supportive nature can be found in the fact that she has nominated me to receive the Leibster Award.    This award is given to "up and coming" bloggers and acts as an affirmation that the nominated blogger is writing stories that possess quality and are worthy of any reader's valuable time.  I am honoured to have been paid such a compliment by someone of Michelle's calibre and, as such, I humbly and proudly accept this award.

In order to fulfill my obligations with regard to this award, there are several things I am required to do:

- I must post the award badge on my website.
- I must list some interesting facts about myself.
- I must answer a series of questions posed by the nominator.
- Finally, I must continue the tradition of recognizing up and coming bloggers by nominating several myself.


I am going to tackle these requirements from the bottom up.

I am going to nominate only three bloggers for the Leibster Award.  This is due, primarily, to the fact that I am so new to blogging myself that I simply do not know many bloggers who are not already well-established.  But, the three I will nominate are all top-notch writers and are well-deserving of your attention.  I shall nominate them in the order of which I met them.

1- Bethany Ellen Curtis     She writes at Bethanyellenblogger.blogspot.com
2- Turok Tucker                 He writes at Turok-Tucker.blogspot.com
3- Jayanta Tewari               He writes at JayantaThoughts.com

Let me tell you a bit about my nominees:

Bethany was a student in my classroom when she was waaaaay back in Grade 2!!!  She was always a very positive, quirky, talented young lady and I have always had a special place for her in my teachery-heart.  She and I shared a favourite book back in the day called, Stellaluna  by Janell Cannon.  We would write, back and forth, in Bethany's journal about this book; to the point when, eventually, I began calling her "Stellaluna" and then, "Luna" for short.  I still refer to her by that name today.  :)  We have kept in touch via social media such as Facebook and, through FB, I have come to be aware of her blog.  Bethany is a strong writer and creates compelling stories and personal posts.  I believe very strongly in her talent and feel that her potential as a writer is unlimited.  She is definitely an up-and-comer who, in my opinion, is already here!

Turok Tucker is a fellow alumni of that great writing community known as The Trifecta Writing Challenge.  It was while writing in this community that I found my wings as a writer and began to hone my skills.  The members of this community were all extremely supportive and crazy talented!  When the editors of Trifecta decided to close up shop this past March, a lot of us scrambled to establish personal connections that went beyond Trifecta.  As well, we all began posting heartfelt tributes to Trifecta in our closing Trifecta posts.  In one of my final Trifecta posts, Turok responded with a comment that ranks as one of my all-time favourites.  To paraphrase it, he said that not everyone "gets" what it means to be a writer. He went on to say how we all share something special that bonds us together and that we are Bards.  I don't have Turok's permission to post the whole comment but, it was written in a very heartfelt way and meant the world to me when I received it.
Turok is a fine, passionate, edgy young writer who, like Bethany, isn't afraid to let his writing take him beyond the safe and cosy confines of civility. He is, beyond question, Bard-like and fully deserving of this award!

Jayanta Tewari came to my attention during the recent A-to-Z Blogging Challenge that I was involved with.  Jayanta hails from India and is a member of a wave of excellent, intelligent, passionate writers emerging from that country.  Jayanta writes about bettering the quality of Life; not just in India but, for all mankind. However, he does so in ways that are realistic, approachable and, even humorous, at times.  Jayanta is a fine man and someone with whom I hope to have a life long correspondence.  I thank Jayanta for nominating me for the Sunshine Award and, in this world of quid pro quo, I nominate you right back, my friend!  Jayanta is someone everyone should read. You will be better for having done so!

Interesting Facts About Moi

1- I have a banker box full of stories that I wrote for the kids at my school. Hopefully, they will find new life as published children's books in the years to come.

2- I was the weekly winner once during my tenure with Trifecta Writing Challenge.  That story was entitled Watching Dad's Cigarette Burn. It can be read here.

3- My Mom is 82 years old and is very proud of me.  She has never read a single one of my 109 blog posts written on Blogger. Yet, she is still very proud of her son.

4- My favourite beer is Corona. My favourite milkshake is chocolate.  My favourite soda pop is Pepsi. My favourite milk is skim.  My favourite wine is dry and white.

5- I answer survey questions for money.

6- Not many would guess by my quiet demeanour that I like my music loud!!!

7- I was raised by the Atlantic Ocean but, generally speaking, I don't really like to eat seafood.

8- Having said that, I was married by the Ocean and, for our dinner, we offered guests a choice of fresh turkey or fresh haddock, caught that day by local fishermen.  I opted for the turkey.  Many opted for the haddock.

9- A gospel choir, known as the Inspirational Singers, performed for us after dinner.

10- When my wife and I got to our honeymoon chalet, the restaurant was closed, there was no food in our in-room fridge and we were both very hungry.  Nobody told us that, for more nights than we could care to count, something other than sex would be our top priority come bedtime.


Finally...........

Michelle's Questions for me:

1.   Name three secrets you never told anyone.

    A gentleman never tells.

2.   If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would do?
   
     Pay off all debts and then, with the remaining money, start paying off the debts of others.  Whenever I see an ad for a church raising funds for repairs to their building or, a family, who lost all they owned in a fire, is being thrown a fundraiser....when I see things like this, I'd like to be the person who quietly strolls in and leaves a $50,000 cheque in the donation box and then, walks away.
3.   Looking over the last ten years, what is one goal you have achieved, and goal
      you have not achieved?     
     
     I became a father in the last ten years. That will always be my greatest legacy. As for something I have yet to achieve, well, I have never really had a full, lush lawn at home.  That may seem like a minor thing to put down but, your lawn is what gives passersby their first impression as they drive or walk by my house.  A well-kept lawn is usually a manly responsibility and so, a poor lawn eats at my manhood and bothers me more than most people realize. 

4.   What are your plans for retirement? And will you travel? If so, where and why.

       When I began writing for the Trifecta Writing Challenges a few years ago, it was with the intent of building up my writing skills so that I could reasonably and legitimately expect writing to play a prominent part in my retirement years.  I can actually retire in four years so, the time to build up my momentum and an inventory of good stories and poetry, is now.   
      As for travel, my eight year old daughter has dreams of travelling to the places we have read about in our books so, if there is travelling to be done, I imagine it might be with her.

5.   Favourite drink on a Friday night.

     Hot tea.

6.   What do you think the secret is to a good marriage or relationship with
       a significant other is?
      
     My wife is my partner in Life.  We share a similar vision for many things such as fiscal responsibility, how to raise our daughters, how to conduct ourselves as human beings, etc.   I could go on and on about this but, the bottom line is simply this, the secret to a good marriage is being equal partners.

7.   Name three words that describe your personality.

      Humility, Integrity and Positivity.

8.    Home cooked meal or take-out?

   I like to eat so, it doesn't matter.  What matters is the people with whom I am sharing the food.  The location doesn't matter as long as the company is good.
     
9.    When was the last time you blogged and what was it about?

       My last blog was posted yesterday and it concerned another award I received as a result of my participation in the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge, called the Sunshine Award.  The post for the Sunshine Award was not as long as the post for the Leibster Award, let me tell ya!

10.  What do you think is the key to happiness?

       It is almost a cliche but, helping others is the key to happiness.  Making a difference without the need for reward or recognition always, always, always brings about its' own rewards later on in Life.  My life is very good and I attribute a large part of the reason for that being that I live a life in service for others.  

11.   Who is your favourite poet and why?

          I will cop-out somewhat by saying that there are too many poets I admire to just pick one.  I was continuously amazed at the high calibre of the people who wrote for Trifecta during my time there.  In addition to admiring their good work, I came to learn that, on any given week, all sorts of different people were capable of rising to the challenge and producing stellar work.  Therefore, I will not limit myself to one poet; I like talent, period!   However, if I could highlight one thing about poetry it would be that the last movie, other than Frozen, that I have watched was called Louder Than A Bomb and it was all about a Slam Poetry festival in Chicago.  Please check out the trailer and then, the movie, if Slam poetry is your thing.