Friday, November 03, 2017

AMA Answers #3: Jessica Prescott, Natalie, and Gabby A.

Time for the third batch of AMA answers!  Once again, there's a vlog at the end of this post in which I answer one question from each of these participants.

Also, again, if you want to ask me any questions, you have ONE MORE DAY to do so.  Anything asked after tomorrow (11-4-17) won't get answered in a post and vlog, it'll just get answered in the comments.  Ask your questions on the original post, please.

Jessica Prescott

What's your favorite color to see in a movie? As in, what's one color or shade (of scenery, clothing, sets, whatever) that makes you REALLY happy when you see it on-screen?

This is not something I've ever thought about before!  Hmm.  I'm very attracted to deep blues, purples, and reds.  Also deep browns.  So my eye is drawn to any of those, but I can't say there's any one color or shade that makes me feel happy to have it in a movie, in and of itself.

What is your favorite thing about fall? 

How my creative energy surges!  I get so tired and sort of worn-out during the heat of summer, but when cooler weather arrives and I can feel the world around me begin changing, that's when my creative juices flow faster and freer again, and I feel the urge to write and create much more strongly again.

Which character in The Chronicles of Narnia do you relate to most, and why?

I think probably Peter Pevensie, though it's been a really long time since I read the, so I can't say for sure.  Edmund was always my favorite.  Well, favorite human character, anyway.  I think Bree is probably my fave character over all.

Meat for breakfast: yea or nay? (that'll be a 'nay' from me ;-) )

I wouldn't say yea, I'd say "yay!" if you offered me meat for breakfast!  I adore bacon and sausage, and quite enjoy livermush too.

What do you wear on your feet most often? Sneakers, or dress shoes, or just socks, or what?

Absolutely nothing!  I am almost always barefoot.  Cowboy always says that he knows it must be Very Cold Indeed if I'm wearing socks in the house.  I also go barefoot outdoors whenever I can -- I really hate socks and shoes.

My feet

How do you name your fictional characters? Where do you tend to get the names from, in general, and how do you figure out which fits with which person?

I'll answer this in the vlog below :-)


Do you have a favorite fantasy animal? (Unicorns, dragons, etc.)

Probably a flying horse like Pegasus.  I love horses, and then if you can add flying to them, how amazing!  They don't get used a lot, though.  I find centaurs pretty fascinating too.

If you could, would you rather meet a fictional character or a real-life historical person? Who would it be?

See vlog at the end of the post :-)

Which author's books do you prefer: Charlotte Bronte or Jane Austen?

Oh, that's tough!  Charlotte Bronte wrote my favorite book ever, Jane Eyre, but I've never read anything else by her.  Whereas I've very much enjoyed all of Austen's works.  Judging by who I read more about, I guess I'd have to say Austen.

A little known book you love that you think deserves more popularity?

I don't know anyone else who has read House of Living Stones by Katie Schuermann, and that's just nonsense because it was such an enjoyable read.

Do you like musicals/Broadway shows?

I do!  I love them, in fact.  Old ones, new ones, stage-musicals-adapted-for-the-screen, musicals written specifically for the screen -- love 'em.

Would you rather have a week-long, all-expenses-paid trip in the American West or in New Zealand?

I shall choose New Zealand because a week is far too short a time to spend in the American West, but I think if I had a week in NZ, I'd see pretty much everything I want to see.

What would you rather be (hobbit, elf, dwarf, human...) if you were a character in Middle-earth? If human, would you rather be from Gondor or Rohan?

A human!  I'd like to be one of the Rohirrim.  Even if I wasn't a Shield Maiden of Rohan, I'd still get to be around a lot of horses and out in the wide-open spaces of Rohan.


Gabby A.

What do you normally eat for breakfast?

Most days, I have a protein bar, half a cup of orange juice, and a cup of coffee.  We live it up on Saturday mornings, though.  Cowboy makes breakfast on Saturday, and all bets are off.

What is a memory that makes you laugh?

See vlog below :-)

Is there a characteristic about people that really attracts you (eg. witty humour, good with kids etc)?

Kindness.  I very much appreciate and gravitate toward kind people.  And, conversely, and repelled by unkindness and unkind people.

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

Helpful, happy, and busy.

How tall are you?

I am 5'7" -- the same height as Alan Ladd, according to his Army enlistment record.

(Because I just had to stick a reference in here somewhere.)

What does being a Christian mean, for you, on a daily basis?

Making a conscious effort to see that everything I do, I do to the glory of God.  Thanking him for blessings, asking him for help, and thanking him again throughout my day.  Showing his love and forgiveness to everyone around me, especially my husband and children.

That's my goal, anyway!  Do I succeed at living that out on a daily basis?  Not even close.  I'm a sinner in daily need of repentance and forgiveness.

What book changed your perspective on life (whether big or small)? (The Bible is a given. ;))

Jackie Robinson's autobiography, I Never Had it MadeIt really opened my eyes to how little freedom some people still have here in what is supposed to be "the land of the free."  And his insistence that "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives" really reminded me that I need to be mindful of my actions and how they affect those around me.  As a Christian, I am charged with showing God's love to everyone around me, and my success or failure at doing that can really make a huge difference to others.


That's it for today!  Happy Friday :-)


  1. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yay!!!! You answered my question!! <3 <3

    Oh wow. I love hearing about how you named the characters from Cloaked! I thought Mary Rose O'Brien might have some Irish Catholic heritage possibly--glad to see I was right! And "Hauer" and "Linden"--my, that's fantastic. They fit perfectly together :-)

    I've been trying to think over how I myself name my characters. Now that I think about it, it's pretty much the same way every time--a very rigid ritual, if you will. I first have to find a photo (usually from Pinterest) which I am satisfied looks EXACTLY like the character; and then I take whatever information I have about their ethnicity, background, etc. and I go to (it's always and I find a name that I feel matches the picture. I often end up writing down a list of 5 or 6 names that *could* work, and then I pick the best of the lot. But it has to match their face. If it doesn't, I go back to the beginning and start the whole process again.

    I can't write if I haven't named the character--I need a name and a face, before I can do anything. I'm a huge stickler on that point, for some reason.

    So, for example, for my WW2 novel Breaking Glass, I knew the main character was a German Jewish teenage girl, and I knew what she looked like (I had an old photo of Nadia Comaneci that personified her just beautifully). So I went through the list of German names and Yiddish names on, looking for something that would fit; and I settled on Tamara, Tammi for short, because it just matched her face really well. And then I went to the list of Jewish surnames and found "Herschlag," and I was all set. Tammi Herschlag.

    For my Snow White story, I had a photo I knew I wanted to use for the main character; and I knew she was a Mexican immigrant, and I kind of wanted a name which would refer back to the Virgin Mary in some way, although I wasn't sure how subtle the reference should be. I settled on the name "Mercedes," which of course means "mercies" in Spanish (as in, Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes), because, again, it matched her looks and her personality just perfectly. Then her dual last names, Guzman Aguilar, came from's Hispanic surname list.

    Your vlogs are awesome <333

    1. Also: I forgot to say that my favorite color to see in a movie is blue--many shades of blue, but specifically lake blue or clear blue. Clothing, walls, sky, water, doesn't matter . . . I just need BLUE. A movie will automatically go up several notches in my estimation if they use lots of blue in the color scheme. I partially judge movies by color, you see--it's not as important as character, or tone, but it's still very important in my mind.

    2. I did! I've been answering them in the order they were asked :-)

      Yeah, definitely some Irish Catholic going on in Mary Rose's background :-) Mr. Linden took foreeeeeeever to get his name -- I actually started writing it just calling him Mr. Creepy or something like that. Or possibly just Fassbender, as I'll sometimes toss in an actor name until the real name arrives.

      Your character-naming process is so systematic! I kind of envy that a bit. Mine is just kind of a gradual gathering process. Which sort of describes my whole pre-writing process, actually. I gather up bits of stuff here and there until I've got enough to make a story. Which is why I often refer to not-ready-to-write-yet stories as "simmering" or "percolating."

      For historical stuff, like my westerns and my WWII fanfic, I do often research first names to see if they were popular/in use in a specific time period. To name the twelve sisters for "Dancing and Doughnuts," I consulted lots and lots of lists of popular names from around the Civil War era and found ones that worked. And the meanings behind names often play an important part too. Like, my hero in DD is named Jedediah, which was the second "blessing" name given to Solomon by Nathan when Solomon was a baby, and my character has to use a lot of wisdom and cleverness in the book, so I liked that connection.

      I'm very attracted to certain colors when it comes to clothes or yarn or whatever, but they don't affect my liking of a movie. At all. Maybe because I grew up watching lots of black-and-white movies along with color ones? Or just... it's not a thing for me? That's so interesting that the inclusion of blue will make you like a movie better! Huh.

    3. I know, right??? I didn't quite realize HOW systematic I was about it--religious, almost--until I started thinking about it and comparing it to other people's processes. I guess it goes with my "plottingest plotter" [thanks for that nickname, lol] nature; I just have to have a system for everything.

      Jedediah! That's a neat name. It's also a name I had NEVER heard until I moved South, haha . . . I guess it's just not super popular in New England.

      Wow! Color is SUPER important to me, for films; it just really "colors" my whole understanding of the story, if that makes sense. And yes, blue is #1 for me. One of the reasons why I immediately fell in love with "Thirteen Days" was all the blue they used; and not just any blue, but my favorite shade--lake blue. (I mean, there were other reasons why I loved it, too . . . it's about 20th-century US history, and it's got Bobby Kennedy in it, and lots of guys in uniform, and such. But the blue backgrounds were a key piece.)

    4. Jessica, well, that fits for the plottingest plotter!

      I love all the cool Biblical names that still get used in the south. Levi and Seth and Micah...

      And to be honest, I'm really having trouble wrapping my head around the idea of a color used in a movie making someone like the movie better. Sometimes a color gets used in a movie and then I start liking it better (I've become a huge fan of the color red because of Thor, but I didn't like it at all except for Christmas for the first 35 years of my life). But not the other way around. HOWEVER! Cowboy reminded me that when we worked night shift for four years, I got really attached to the show CSI: Miami because I loved all the golden sunlight in the show and how everything was yellow and bright and sunshiny. (And then after we gave up the vampire lifestyle, I quit liking the show.) So I guess sometimes colors do attract me to things, in that way.

    5. Oh, yes. We get alllllllllllllllll the Biblical names here. It's quite fun.

      Really?!? Wow! To me, it's just a natural way of judging and appreciating movies--because, for me, a movie is a visual and aesthetic experience almost before it's anything else. If I just wanted stories and characters, per se, I would read a book! But I watch movies because I want to SEE something beautiful; and color is a huge part of that. Because I love color. Some colors naturally attract me and make me happy, others repel me or make me feel vaguely unsettled. It's a mood thing, as well as an aesthetic thing.

      (This is partly why I am somewhat leery of black-and-white movies. And it is roughly 90% of the reason why I am so, so reluctant to try old color films--because the colors LOOK WRONG, and I can't deal with that.)

    6. Well, Jessica, back in college, one of my lit professors told someone that I watch movies the way other people read books. And a couple of years later, a co-worker told me that they loved watching me read books while eating lunch in the break room because I read books the way other people watch movies.

      To me, they're the same process. One might give me more details, or a different perspective on the story, but it's all about experiencing a story. When I write, the story unfolds in my head like a movie, and I try to capture it on paper. And usually if I prefer the book over the movie, or the movie over the book, when it comes to two ways of presenting the same story, it's going to come down to which one I feel told the story better.

      Colors are nice. Costumes are nice. But they're just window-dressing, they're not the story. They're like whether you dip your french fry in ranch dressing or ketchup -- it'll taste and look a little different, but neither one are going to make a bad fry good or a good fry bad. They're just externals.

      And black-and-white movies often make me feel like I'm experiencing a story even more than if there was color because it doesn't rely on external distractions like color to gloss over a badly told story -- it tells the story, or it doesn't, no hiding.

      But anyway... old color films look wrong? Are you talking about old movies that were filmed in color, or about black-and-white movies that were colorized? Because yeah, colorized movies look pretty lame most of the time. But old color movies like The Adventures of Robin Hood or Gone with the Wind or MGM musicals from the '40s and so on -- they seem to be filled with rich, vibrant, realistic color to me? I don't see how they look wrong or different from reality?

      (Cowboy read this over my shoulder and he said maybe what you mean is that sometimes they look better than reality, because he's always wished the real world was as pretty as The Adventures of Robin Hood.)

      The one big difference I can think of when it comes to modern color and old color is that a lot of modern westerns are shot in this muted, dust-laden, grey-brown drabness, whereas classic color westerns have greens and blues and yellows and reds and lots and lots of color, not just various shades of brown.

    7. To me . . . color is part of the story. I'm not really sure how to explain it; but the colors and visuals in a movie get wrapped up with the characters and the themes and the dialogue in this sort of web, and that web IS the story. You can't untangle it. (For me, that is.) So if I don't like the colors, or the costumes, or any other part of the aesthetic--it's inevitably going to affect the way I see the whole thing. It affects my mood while I'm watching it, you know what I mean? And then the mood I carry away with me, at the end, is how I judge the story as an entire whole.

      I associate written stories--books--with colors, too, now that I think about it. And the colors that come into my mind when I'm reading have a big impact on how I like the story, or don't. Tolkien, for instance? Tolkien is GRAY. Gray and sort of olive-green. And that gray color gets in my brain, and lowers my spirits, until I have to just give up and put the book down. And the authors I love most have their own colors, too. Chaim Potok is a really beautiful, rich, dark-brown. Willa Cather is autumn red and autumn gold. P.G. Wodehouse is a cheerful pink-and-white. Markus Zusak is gray and gold and black--but it's a different sort of gray than Tolkien's gray, which is why I can enjoy it.

      Hm. *thinks* I had to go back to some of your screencap reviews, to get a better handle on what I meant. I think--yes, I think your husband is right, it IS that they look better than reality. They're too bright, somehow? Father Goose and We're No Angels, for example--the colors somehow look "not real" to me. Which you would think, wouldn't be a problem . . . but it is.

    8. Okay, so associating colors with other things I do get, cuz I do that too. I could associate a color (or a number, or a shape) with just about any person, place, thing, or idea, or even with words, if you wanted me to. I would say greeny-brown for Tolkien, which are warm, comforting earth tones to me.

      I do agree that the external details affect the mood of a story. Sometimes I'll even like a book better if it has a different cover. But that's kind of separate from the story, to me. (This is part of why I get frustrated with people who refuse to watch particular period dramas based on what the costumes look like.)

      And so interesting that when the colors look better than reality, you like them less! Fascinating.

    9. Yes. I couldn't associate numbers or shapes with anything--but colors, definitely. Especially stories. Stories ARE colors, for me, in a sense.

      Hmmmmmmmmmm. See, for me, the costumes definitely matter--but not so much in a "period accuracy" kind of way. I just want to be able to ENJOY how they look--I want them to look GOOD. Except in very rare cases, I'm not going to complain if they're not historically accurate; but I will complain if they look ugly or otherwise "wrong" to me. Because that messes with the story, in my mind.

      Yep. Not sure why that is . . . ?

    10. I think you're just very visually oriented and process life and stories in a different way than I do, and that's all there is to it :-)

  2. Oh, yay, fun post. :D

    Haha, yes, I go barefoot everywhere too! Although I do like my trusty thongs (aka flip flops) if there are heaps of prickles outside.

    Your answer to the height question made me laugh. ;D Gosh, everyone seems so tall! I can never decide if I'm short or normal or WHAT. (I'm juuust slightly below 5'4".)

    The vlog was really good! :D I love your answer to the fictional character question! I normally just hear or read a surname at the time I'm thinking up names and go "Aha! That's the one!" and I combine it with a first name I like.

    Oh, yessss!! SHERLOCK HOLMES!!! (Awesome hat! :D) I would love to meet him too!!! And exactly - Watson has to be there as well. I love Watson just as much, really. <3

    Haha, I love your funny memory. ;D Something I would do! (I have SO many too! Just because I'm naturally a sort of awkward-but-gets-away-with-it kind of person. For example, I went to this ball recently, and it was AMAZING. And there was an equal amount of guys & girls too, with perhaps one or two extra girls. For the first 4 dances, I didn't get asked to dance, so I got up and asked the other girl who didn't get asked, and I would always take the gentleman's part, just because I didn't really mind. I was determined to have a good time. Eventually, a guy asked me to dance, but when we went to take our places, I went to the guy's side because I was so used to do the gentleman's part by then! :P He was like, "Oh, I think you will have to be a lady for this one." (And he was calling the song, too, so everyone was watching us. *facepalm*) But I got asked to dance every other dance after that, haha, so it must've been alright. (And all my partners were lovely, too... all very different, haha. One was super goofy and would pull faces throughout the dance, and another was my age, but he was rather delicate because he had almost died that week due to blood poisoning and I was a little worried he might topple over at some points.)

    1. Gabby, barefooted people for the win! I do wear sandals on hot surfaces like asphalt during the summer. And, you know, there are all those pesky laws about having to wear shoes in public places.

      The average height for American women is 5'4", so you're juuust slightly below average. When we lived in Connecticut, I always felt very tall because there were a LOT of short people there. I'd go to the mall and look over the heads of the majority of the other people there, even the guys. When I lived in Minnesota, I always felt very short because there are a ton of tall Scandinavians there.

      Glad you enjoyed the vlog! I've enjoyed making them more than I thought I had. Last answers post and vlog probably won't come out until Sunday, we'll see. I might be coming down with my kids' cold, and also, it's hard to find a time when I don't have noisy people around me so I can record them.

      I really do love Watson just about as much as Holmes. And when it comes to adaptations, I think the handling of how Watson is portrayed makes or breaks the production.

      Um, yeah, I say nonsensical stuff or do weird things in public fairly often. Like I started singing Captain Hammer's theme song from Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog out loud (quite loud) in the parking lot of Target a few years ago, while pushing my cart back to the corral... and then there was this middle-aged woman standing on the other side of an SUV who was just giving me the weirdest look. I hadn't seen her there when I started singing, or I probably wouldn't have been so loud, but... the song was going through my head, and I felt like singing, so I did. (It goes "Stand back, everyone, nothing here to see! Just imminent danger; in the middle of it, me! Yes, Captain Hammer's here, hair blowing in the breeze! The day needs my saving expertise!" And my hair WAS blowing in the breeze...)

      SO cool you got to go to a ball! Was it like English Country Dancing or Square Dancing or something? I've always wanted to try those.

  3. I think I am quite average in height, I just have a LOT of tall friends and cousins! (You know, up around the 6 foot mark...)

    Agreed about Watson! They HAVE to get him right.

    Haha, I sing in public too. XD Once, my younger brother (7 yrs) was with me waiting for family members using the dressing rooms in Target, and we were sitting just outside the dressing rooms, and decided to sing Newsies songs! We did get a lot of funny looks, but most people were just amused. ;)

    Yes, it was quite like English Country Dancing! It was literally like the balls you see in Jane Austen movies - we tried to follow all the etiquette, and we did dances just like they did (in fact I think we did a few off Pride and Prejudice and one off the Scarlet Pimpernel... I recognized them when I was dancing it!) It was A LOT of fun! I've been to two - that one, and another one that was similar but it was a masquerade ball. (That was slightly intimidating. I didn't know hardly anyone even with the masks OFF. :P) But all the girls wear ballgowns and corsets and gloves (and some wear hoopskirts) and the guys wear stockings up to their knees and big buckled shoes and ohh... it's SO much fun. :D

    1. Aha! I have a lot of friends right now who are the same height as I am, so I kind of feel very average and forget that I'm tallish.

      Oh, man, when I was a kid, my brother and I would belt songs from musicals and oldies in public and have the best time!

      So, so cool you did English Country Dancing. I did a bunch of research on different dances when I was writing Cloaked because I wanted to be sure I had them doing period dances, and it was fun to watch YouTube videos explaining the different ones :-)

      A masquerade ball would be a little freaky, I think! But so cool that everyone gets dressed up. How did you find that group?

  4. (Edmund is my favorite character from Narnia, so it makes me happy when other people love him, too!:)

    I loved your talk about names. I am pretty name-obsessed myself, and it's one of the most important things for me when I am writing a story. Sometimes I hear a name and a character forms in my head around that name and the story actually comes afterwards.

    Sherlock is a great choice of fictional character to meet. (I'm a bit of a fangirl myself, so that would definitely be cool!) goodness! That story was quite funny! I smirked at my screen because that totally seems like something I would do. Nice!

    So, I have to agree with Gabby...everyone seems so tall! You are actually taller than I expected. (I'm barely 5'1", so most people seem tall to me. Maybe you're not that tall.)

    Anyway. Enjoy your 76 degrees. I was 40-something here, today and has been so cold as of late. Some snow would be nice, you know, if it must be cold. :/

    1. *'It' was 40-something... I hate when I make typos like that.

    2. Elanor, Edmund fans unite! I know a lot of people don't like him, but... I'm a sucker for a good redemption arc.

      Naming characters is something we could probably just write whole giant reams of blog posts about -- I've never yet met two writers who do it quite the same way!

      And yeah, I have this tendency to get all confused when I'm talking out loud and say incoherent stuff, so that is definitely not the first time I've said totally the wrong greeting like that. (Back in college, I once gave my husband-to-be a thumbs up and then growled at him. I don't even know why I growled. It was this spontaneous thing. Whyyyyy?)

      Not 76 here anymore, it's a much more proper-feeling 50. And I want snow! I love snow.

  5. I'm almost afraid to do this basically because I don't know what kind of questions I's get. Oddball questions would be easy. The hard ones would be like "what is your philosophical view on life?" BTW, just on the subject of Christianity, I checked out C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity on MP3 from the library today and am finally going to go through it.

    1. Quiggy, haha! Yeah, you do take that chance. I've done one or two AMAs before, and people generally ask very random, fun things like "What's your favorite salad dressing?" and "Do you have any tattoos?" and "If you could only take one book to a desert island, which would you take?" Though I got a couple more serious questions too.

      I haven't read Mere Christianity yet myself, but I hear it is AWESOME!!!

    2. The other thing that keeps me from doing it is it is specifically a movie blog. If I ever decided to fire up my old random entries blog I might do it there. But that one has been dormant for about 6 years and I was really burnt out on it when I stopped.

      Got a question for you I just noticed in your comments above. What in the name of Hubert T. Gigglesnort is "livermush"?

    3. Quiggy, yeah, I wouldn't just do vlogs in place of movie reviews or anything. But I could see doing one for part of a movie-themed tag post or something.

      They don't have livermush in Texas? Huh. Here, this will explain it for you. I see from that article that it's most commonly found in western North Carolina, which makes sense, as that's where I lived. I've found it here in Virginia a couple times too, though.

  6. Love Bree!! My cousin gave me a quirky little stuffed horse for Christmas one year and I named it Bree. And if I ever owned horses I would name one Caspian and the other Bree :)

  7. First off, I'm VERY sorry for how late this comment is!!

    Second, I LOVED your answers to my questions (and your answers to other people's questions). Thank you!!

    Heehee. Your reference to Alan Ladd made me smile. :)

    Ahhh your vlog is SO fun! I really enjoyed hearing your voice and seeing you. I loved your answer to the character-names question. I've employed pretty much all of the techniques you have. Especially naming characters after the actors I cast them as, haha. (Fun fact: a country in my Princess and the Pea retelling is named Linden, after a street in my town. Funny that you should use it, too. :D)

    Haha! The moment you pulled out the hat, I knew you would say Sherlock. That's great. :D (I really need to read one of those books!)

    I say "the wrong" thing alll the time. :P Especially if I'm nervous. Then my words all get mixed and jumbled up and I sound like I don't know how to speak. Oh well. *shrugs*

    "I am who I am and I'm okay with that." You're awesome. I want to adopt that as my motivational quote! :D

    1. Natalie, no worries! I'm really busy right now too -- took me two days to reply to this.

      Glad you enjoyed this! Including the vlog.

      So funny we both have used Linden as a name, and gotten it from an actual place.

      Definitely read some Sherlock Holmes! I recommend starting either with The Hound of the Baskervilles or The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

      Adopt away! I have pretty well adopted that as my personal mantra or whatever.


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