My Rust Belt Girl followers have heard me say before that I don’t win stuff: raffles, bingo, cake walks. Luck eludes me.

Maybe my luck is changing—because I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by Undertones, and I am so thankful. You’re going to want to follow Undertones (if you aren’t already) for its creative exploration of passions, thoughts, and opinions—expertly wrought. Essays. Short fiction. Trust me, this girl can write!

So, I’m happy to support the WordPress community by both taking part in this exercise and passing on the Liebster Award love!

My answers to the questions put forth as part of the nomination process. (Fun to write–and fun to read, I hope!)

What motivated you to start your blog?

When I started Rust Belt Girl, I saw blogging as an avenue to explore the fiction set in my native Rust Belt, the post-industrial U.S. Midwest. I love fiction. But blogging has also provided me a forum for exploration of other genres—the memoir, in particular—and helped me develop my voice as an essay writer. It’s also provided a supportive community of talented writers, who inspire me to keep plugging away, even on the days I don’t feel at all lucky.

What inspires you most to write?

A little backstory: Unlike a lot of writers, I didn’t grow up writing many stories. (I do remember writing a pretty kick-a*# song about losing my purse, in middle school.) My creative outlet—an all-consuming one—was ballet, an art form that I gave myself to until I was 19. After I quit dancing, I went looking for another outlet. As a freshman in college, I took a Performance Art elective, for which I bathed in mud in an academic building tree planter and flossed my teeth from a balcony overlooking my classmates. Performance Art didn’t stick, but the creative drive did.

I’d always been a good writer in school, so I started taking more Creative Writing courses in college and eventually landed on fiction. My inspiration is one part passion and one part obsession. The famous ballet choreographer George Balanchine famously said, “I don’t want people who want to dance, I want people who have to dance.” I feel like I have to write—for myself. Heck, there’s little else I can do! And, really, if I didn’t write, how would I spend my time? Getting in shape? Hardly.

In a few words, how would you describe your blog and/or your style of writing?

I’ve stayed pretty true to my initial idea to read and write the Rust Belt on this blog: News, reviews, and stories of the Rust Belt. There, that’s a few-ish words.

Who is your favorite author and why?

This changes, but at the moment, I’ll say Bonnie Jo Campbell. She is the queen of the short story and her novel is also a perfect little gem. Basically, Campbell is the writer I want to be when I grow up!

Apart from writing, what is your preferred creative outlet (i.e. painting, drawing, playing an instrument) and why?

I love to sing—in church, in the car. Much to my kids’ embarrassment, I have no shame. If it’s classical music, and there are no words, I’ll pretend to be the conductor. As I’m from the Midwest (and have a fairly strong accent) my speaking voice is less than pretty. I do think I’m less nasally when singing—so I should probably sing more and talk less! I often tell my kids that in my next life I plan to be an opera singer. Stay tuned.

Who is your favorite artist?

I love Edward Hopper for his art (featuring regular ol’ places and people, and such light!) and for his story. An illustrator first, he had success with his own work later in life. It’s never too late, right?

How do you deal with writers block?

Someone smarter than I said, “have kids, and you’ll never have writer’s block again.” There’s a lot of truth in that. But, it does happen that I get stumped as far as the next move for a character in a story, etc. Taking a quiet walk—just getting up from my writing desk—can help unblock things. I also have a tip here to both “kill your darlings” and find inspiration when you need it.

Do you think good writers are born or made, and why?

Both. Most writers likely have a natural talent for language. But you can’t stop there. Craft must be practiced and practiced. I’ve been doing a bit of writerly advice on the blog lately, and much of it comes down to putting your butt in the chair and writing. And also reading the sorts of things you want to be writing.

If you could change something about the way you practice this craft, what would it be?

36-hour days. Can we somehow make this happen, already? But, really, I would have spent more time on short stories—which teach so much in a manageable space—as a young writer before trying my hand at a novel, the behemoth I’m still revising.

If you were to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?


As part of the award, I’ll be nominating five more bloggers. For those who will be nominated next, the rules are as follows:

  • Create a new post thanking the person who nominated you, linking to their blog. Include the award graphic.
  • Answer the questions provided.
  • Make a new set of 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Nominate 5-10 recently followed bloggers and share your post with them so they see it.

My questions for you are:

  1. What motivated you to start your blog?
  2. How would you describe your blog?
  3. Has your blog changed its focus since its inception?
  4. Has blogging informed other writing that you do? If so, how?
  5. When did you start writing, and why?
  6. What sort of books do you most enjoy reading?
  7. Who is your favorite author?
  8. Do you have any other creative outlets other than writing?
  9. If you were to change something about yourself as a writer, what would it be?
  10. How would you complete this sentence? I will write until _______.

My nominees for the Liebster Award are:

With Love and a Little Self-Deprecation

malakhai jonezs


The Story Addict

Miles of Pages

All of the above are bloggers whose work I read. I encourage you to do the same! ~ Rebecca



5 thoughts on “Liebster Award 2018

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