Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Liebster Award x3

I was nominated for this award by generous Daijah V from Codename: Danger, a very prolific, talented and versatile writer who engages in different genres and yet is never bounded by their characteristics -- an iconoclast she is, too.

I was nominated again by Jinx/Pamela Troy from Tales from Touperdu -- a writer I found out about only now, through this nomination.

A third nomination comes from David from Mr. David Veiga, where he runs a journal for his Simself. He is also a creator of great custom content, especially for male Sims.

Please read below my answers to all.

The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to bloggers, to promote the blogging sites we love and support.

Accepting the nomination comes with these conditions:
1. Post the award on your blog.
2. Thank the blogger who presented the award and link back to their blog.
3. Nominate 5-11 bloggers whom you feel deserve this award and have fewer than or equal to 3,000 followers.
4. Answer 11 questions posted by the nominator, and ask your nominees 11 questions.

My Nominations:

LateKnightSimmer for Echoes of Eternity

Lily Parker for Jill's 100 Baby Challenge

Rebecca Thornheart for 6 Degrees of Separation

Lizzie Gudkov for all of her writings

Marsar Pru for A Pair of Brown Eyes

Caterpillarsims for Summerdream

Matt and Brad for 2 Boys in Love

Questions to my nominees:

01- Why do you write?
02 - What motivates you to write?
03 - When did you start writing? And blogging?
04 - Does publishing online interfere with your writing process, and how?
05 - What is your writing process -- do you have a preferred place, hour, a ritual to write?
06 - Do your online readers influence you, and how?
07 - Have social medias changed your writing, and how?
08 - What do you do to overcome writer's block?
09 - What are you favorite authors -- in Literature, cinema?
10 - Does writing help you in your personal life, and how?
11- You're free to deliver whatever message you want for whomever reads this.

Answering Daijah V's questions:

01. When did you start writing?
Around 8 or 9 years old, I started writing adventure plots, in response to reading Jules Verne's books one after the other. I was also illustrating my childish books -- and as my drawings seemed to impress people more than my stories, it led me to later in life become an illustrator, while putting writing aside. It was not until a couple of years ago when I recalled I illustrated the stories I wrote, instead of writing stories to illustrate them.

I am now dedicated to writing, much more than drawing.

02. Are any of your characters or situations based on real people or events?
Often. Very often, yes.

In The Last Canvas, the protagonist Laurent D'Allegro is my alter ego, and some of the stuff he endures and enjoys I have been through myself. That's why I often have writer's block -- Laurent is too personal and too close to my own experiences. But he also gives me the opportunity to live those things differently, and arrive to different insights and experiences. In a way, Laurent helps me rewrite my own story. Armand de Montbelle, the French nobleman, takes on another side of my life -- when I have wanted to become a Buddhist monk. But he chooses a different tradition and part of the world to ordinate. Carlo D'Allegro, the peasant who becomes a visual artist, is loosely based on some of my visual artists friends, who share his same struggles and achievements. Angelo Vivace, Laurent's boyfriend, impersonates some of the people I am glad to no longer have in my life -- and the way he makes Laurent suffer is another major source of writer's block, since I have to dig into my own past suffering.

My other story, As the mirror breathes, currently being published on Wattpad, contains too many autobiographical events, and I am certainly not making them explicit.

In my fiction, I also enjoy revisiting places and traveling to countries I have been in real life. There is plenty of this in both The Last Canvas and As the mirror breathes.

03. What inspires you to write?

I'm very visual, and while in the past I made collages for each character and their ways of live, I now keep boards on Pinterest for them all, and the cities I place them.

I pay attention to people, and  -- shame on me? -- I am that kind who listens in on other people conversations, when they talk loud. I go about the internet, too, researching a lot and reading stories about people from different parts of the world.

That's when I'm productive -- because when I have writer's block, I have to search inspiration in other arts, like cinema, music and fashion.

Meditating too, helps clean and calm my mind and always opens space for inspiration to emerge.

04. Which of your characters is your favorite?
The obvious pick -- Laurent D'Allegro from The Last Canvas, and the couple Kim and Joh from As the mirror breathes (I'm still working on their part).

05. Who is your favorite author? 
I have had many, in different ages. Jules Verne and Maurice Druon when I was a child, and then Scott Fitzgerald, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, Marguerite Yourcenar and JMG Le Clézio in my late teens, and then Virginia Woolf, Italo Calvino, Thomas Mann, Dino Buzatti, Guimaraes Rosa, Lawrence Durrell and Paul Bowles. At the moment, there are Ismail Kadare, Cormac McCarthy, Ces Nootebom, Ian MacEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro.

06. What kind of books do you read?
Literature, as stated by the names above, and poetry -- Konstantinos Kavafis, Cecilia Meireles, Rilke, Yeats, collections of haiku and many more.

07. If you could use the Sims Time Machine, where would you go and why?
I'd like to be transported to the heart and soul of each of my characters, to get to know them deeply. Or else materialize my characters, and bring them to my presence. That would be superb!

08. You're stranded on a deserted island with 4 characters from your story(ies). Who are they and what do you think would happen?
That is exactly what happens in the first part of what I called "The First Transmission" of The Last Canvas, when we follow the impossible love triangle -- Carlo D'Allegro, Armand de Montbelle and Catherine Mortinné, on the deserted Île du Blanchomme, lost in the Indian Ocean. The apparition that haunts Carlo is the fourth character here.

09. If you could be any character from a book or movie, who would you be and why?
I choose Kit Moresby from 'The Sheltering Sky', both from the novel by Paul Bowles and the movie adaptation by Bernardo Bertollucci. On the big screen she was played by Debra Winger, and I have more than once dreamed with her beautiful presence and gleaming eyes. I am mesmerized by Kit's trajectory of abandonment, how she slowly surrenders to the men she meets, to her foreign surroundings, to her own doubts and torments, letting it all invade her to finally lose and free herself completely from the world. To me, it seems like an analogy of living life itself, and the open ending is the most perfect death one can meet.

10. If you could marry the man/woman of your dreams, who would you choose and why?
This is accomplished, my dreams fulfilled at this very moment.

11. Sims have a lot of quirky and fun inventions and objects not found in real life. If you could choose one thing (for example, spellbook, time machine, Bonehilda) what would it be and why?
Being able to enter whatever cheats in my own life whenever I need them would be great. I always start by making everyone happy.

Thank you again, Daijah V, for the support, your generosity, and this nomination.


My answers to Pamela/Jinx's questions:

1. Are any of your sims based on real people?
Many of them are.

I have even created a Sims for Karl Lagerfeld, the creative genius whose work I adore. But his impeccable ponytail got bugged, and I never was able to fix that. I Simmed his whole entourage – Baptiste Giabiconi, Sébastien Jondeau, Cara Delevingne, Stella Tennant.

2. Do you use simming as a sort of platform for writing text stories?
That’s all I use Sims for. After only a few days playing Sims, having disliked the gameplay in every aspect, I was about to quit when I decided to investigate the character I had created – Laurent D’Allegro. He seemed rather lonely and tormented in his huge designer’s house, and unhappy despite being professionally successful. That’s how The Last Canvas started. And then I discovered CCs and the wonderful creators we have out there, and pose player – that's when game became a ‘platform’ exactly, and I never played it, in the strict sense, again.

3. What part of the world seizes your imagination? Deserts? Islands? The tropics? Europe, Asia, or the US?
The Mediterranean. It always has, since I was a child.

It will play a very important role in The Last Canvas, especially in Laurent’s story -- the picture I consider to be the closing one is supposedly in Algeria. 

Soon we shall visit Morocco, where Armand de Montbelle lived for quite a while, after having abandoned the monastic life in Thailand. I have loved building and rebuilding those sets.

4. What era or century do you like to write about?
There is not a particular one -- though I am fascinated about Greek classical history, having read a lot about it, and their Mythology. But I don’t think I could write about it.

I do take great care with the time table of my stories, since I’m often mentioning the characters ages and the years of the events, often related to real events. It’s the most complicated part of my writing process, where it’s easier for me to get lost.

5. What music, if any, do you consider the “theme” to your sims stories?
The first version of The Last Canvas had a song for theme of each chapter, a link to the video and its lyrics.

There was even an instrumental playlist on the site, and I have made it available as podcasts. The links to listen/download them can be found in the Soundtrack tab above.

6. Sims 2, Sims 3 or Sims 4? Which do you prefer?
I only use Sims 3 for the illustrations, to build the scenery and pose the characters. The graphics from the other two versions do not appeal to me.

7. What novels/movies/tv shows do you love?
So many books by so many authors – mainly the ones quoted in my answers to Daijah V, above.

And I love cinema, too, mostly European (French and Russian especially) and Asian movies. Directors like Fellini, Bertollucci, Kurosawa, Wong Kar-Wai, Fassbinder, Kim Ki-duk, Angelopoulos, Tarkovski have taught my eye.

I never watch TV. I don’t even own one.

8. Do you modify your sims’ appearance so they are a bit more ordinary, or do you aim for beauty?
It depends on the Sim.
NO, I’m not being honest here.
I always aim for beauty.
It’s my perdition in this life. I can spend days building a set. And I’ll usually edit the pics a lot before being satisfied.

9. What is the best place you’ve ever lived?
Ladakh, in the Hymalayas.  Absolutely stunning -- for its people, traditions and landscape. You can only spend the extended summer season there, about four months, and I intend to go back one day, and rent a room for an entire season.

Living in a Zen monastery in France for six months was also quite an experience.

10. What kind of snack food do you eat while you’re simming/writing?
I don’t.

I might drink tea or cappuccino, but since I bathed my Mac and it never worked properly again, I try to avoid drinking while on the computer.

11. Are you ever inspired by fiction you’ve read or movies you’ve watched?
I certainly am.

I often watch movies as research for writing about places and situations that belong to my characters’ lives and worlds, while not to mine. That’s a part I love about writing -- it enriches my own life, and broadens it. I am now researching contemporary Australia for “As the mirror breathes”.

I had this rule of not reading fiction when I was writing it – to be not influenced by other author’s styles. But I have never written anything lengthy like The Last Canvas, so the rule no longer applies. I also need to be constantly reading in English to be able to write without making too many mistakes – otherwise, it would be worse than this. I learn new words daily.

Thank you again Pamela Troy/Jinx for the nomination!


My answers to David Veiga's questions (Google Translate):

1 - If you were a Sim in which world like living?
Fresh Prince's Vice City and Jack Wilson's Tropical Island have been key to the narrative of The Last Canvas, and I love them both. 

In a way, I have lived in them through my characters.

2 - There is a gaming townie who is your favorite?
No. The are all too goofy, aren't they?

3 - What is your favorite stuff and expansion pack?
I don't own any.

4 - What year met the Sims?
I started using it in 2013. I was looking for a program where I could render both the scenery and avatars I would create. Sims 3 offers a good compromise.

5 - What was the first The Sims you played?
I only use Sims 3 to illustrate my story.

6 - What is the maximum hours of playing?
I do spend a lot of time building houses and sets for each part of my story, as much as I spend time looking for custom content. Posing for the scenes I have written requires some time, too. 

But I believe applying filters and editing the pictures to the desired effect takes more time than all that -- but still, less than taking care of the text itself.

7 - What is the worst: Error 12 or Sims3.exe stopped working?
I have no idea. My game will very rarely crash, thanks God!

8 - Which format you prefer: Sims3pack or Package?
Packages are easier to uninstall after you no longer need them.

9 - Your Sims already was some supernatural being? If so, what?

10 - Among all The Sims, which your favorite. (Among consoles, mobiles and PC)
I only use Sims 3.

11 - In your opinion, what is the best: The Sims 3 or The Sims 4? Why?
Again, I only use Sims 3. 

Sims 4 is incredibly ugly in my opinion. Of course, very capable CC creators are already doing wonderful things, and they might change even the light, but they can't change how awful the landscape looks. It might be great, though, for those who only pose Sims against walls or other simple backgrounds.

Thank you David for the nomination!


Andante Zen


  1. Hahahaha the last answer is so true of every simmer I guess. My friend and I always laugh at how easy it would be to decorate our house with click and drag. Especially painting the walls and changing the floors. Click, save. Hahaha.

    Well, thank you for linking my blog Andante. I didn't know you are an illustrator, although I did always think Laurent was your alter ego in a way. I have been wanting to become an illustrator, but to be fair I have done nothing about it. I still have the hopes that one day I will be one. ;)

    1. Wouldn't it be great? I guess that is why so many people engage in virtual worlds.

      I have built many dozens of houses for Laurent, and shall only stop when I write the episodes where he is shown in what is supposed to be his actual house. Until now, we have seen him on the way only -- for while he is a traveler, it gives me time to decide on a setting and a house for him.

      You deserve the nomination. Your pictures are incredibly beautiful, and there is an atmosphere of dreams to 6 Degrees of Separation that amazes me.

      You shall become an illustrator, if you want to. A friend of mine who was writing for a publishing company got me into this area first of all. And then another friend invited me into another publishing company, and that's how it flowed.

      Thank you for being here!

  2. Thanks for your answers, Andante. The Blank Canvas has been an inspiration to me. I kept looking for sims legacies that approached storytelling as I do, but so many of them were entertaining and witty, but tied firmly to gameplay. Your novel is very different from mine (you are much better at graphics, for one thing) but you seem to use The Sims much as I do.

    1. I thank you for the nomination, Pamela. I have really enjoyed answering your questions.

      It's neat that you call it The Blank Canvas. It's one of the names I considered before uploading the story as The Last Canvas. It was nice to be reminded of those early stages of this story.

      I am glad that you found my story, and now I have found yours. I did not know about Tales from Touperdu, nor that you were reading/checking The Last Canvas.

      I do spend a lot of time with the pictures, for I used to work as an illustrator, drawing portraits, and I enjoy building and decorating the rooms, creating the light and atmosphere and then retouching everything to achieve the effect I want.

      Thank you again for being here!

  3. Thank you, Andante! Being recognized for my work by a fellow writer means a lot to me. Thank you! :D

    1. I thank you, Lizzie.

      You deserve that nomination. Your short fiction is remarkable in its concision and intensity. Being rather prolix myself, I do admire your capacity of telling great stories with so few words.

  4. I enjoyed getting to know a little more about you through your answers. Inspiration really is all around us. We just have to open our minds to it. As a writer and artist, it seems to come naturally to you. Don't worry about listening in on people who talk too loud. If they don't want anyone to hear them, they should lower their voices! ;)

    1. It's like you say, Lily -- inspiration is all around us. And within us, too. Since I have resumed writing fiction, I am in contact with parts of my story, and the people in it, that I like less -- buy they are so important so that my characters are not just a bunch of loving, silly people. Writing makes me more tolerant and compassionate, I realize. It might also bring the opportunity to overcome past suffering I seem to cling to -- and Angelo is playing that role for me in this story.

      The day I wrote about listening in on people, I had just come back from a restaurant where I dined on my own. It was almost empty, and yet two women decided to take a table right next to mine. One of them was trying to capture my attention, and in a way she did -- she spoke so loud that I quit reading my book and instead listened to her stories :) You're right, she should have lowered her voice if she did not want to become a line in my stories!

      Thank you for reading and commenting, dear Lily!


This novel currently being published online gives us, reader and writer, the chance to connect -- you can hear my voice at each update, and I would love to hear it back from you!

It is a privilege to get to know your thoughts and feelings about the story, so please do share your comments, questions and suggestions, and I will reply.

Thank you for commenting.