Sunday, November 05, 2017

AMA Answers #4: Rose and Cordy

Here we are at the end of the AMA answer posts!  This has been very fun, at least for me :-)  One last vlog at the end.


Have you ever read a book that changed your view on the world? Which one?

I've read quite a few books that changed my view of specific aspects of the world.  Sixguns and Society: A Structural Study of the Western by Will Wright really illuminated for me why I like specific stories, what I dislike about others, and how to improve what I write.

What are some books everyone should read to call themselves cultivated human beings?

See vlog for answer :-)

What is your dream travel destination?

Alaska!  I've been wanting to go there since I was probably ten years old.

Coffee or tea?

I drink both, but I drink coffee every day, and tea only now and then, so there's your answer :-)


What's your favourite movie genre?

Westerns!  No question at all.  My heart seems to live in their stylized, dreamy version of the Old West.


What are five things on your bucket list? 

1. Go to Alaska
2. Go to New Zealand and see where they filmed the LOTR and Hobbit movies
3. Go to the Alamo
4. Go to Australia and see where they filmed The Man from Snowy River
5. Go to Germany and see all the cool Martin Luther sites


What are some of your favorite character names that you haven't used yet? (Unless they're too good to share and then choose secondary favorites. ;)) 

Hmm.  I don't tend to come up with character names before I have characters.  It's the other way around, really.  I get a character in my head, and then I figure out what their name is.  I don't keep lists of names like some writers do, waiting for a character to come use them.  I don't even always name them, exactly -- some characters simply have names, and I have to wait for them to tell me what they are.

That being said, I've got this character named Cortland for a YA western that is NOT based on a fairy tale, and I absolutely love his name.  I want to write him, I just don't have quite all the pieces of the story put together yet.

If possible using your phone or iPod (or whatever you may have), put it on shuffle and tell us the first four songs that play. (I didn't come up with that question...I saw it somewhere and thought it sounded cool). 

Answered in the vlog!

What's your favorite music to listen to while you're writing...that is, if you listen to music while writing... 

I listen to a lot of Bobby Darin and a lot of movie soundtracks.  Every writing project demands its own music, and sometimes it takes me a while to figure out what music a story needs.  Other times, I'm finding music for a book long before I start writing it.  For instance, I've got this idea for a story set in post-Civil War North Carolina that has about five soundtracks that work for it already, and I've only kind of dabbled around with writing the opening scenes.  But I know exactly what music goes with it.

A while back, I shared some of the music I listened to while writing Cloaked, if you want to read this post for a more complete answer.


What color do you use the most when you're enjoying your coloring books?

I'm very drawn to to blues and browns and greens.  Also reds, but I often can't achieve exactly the shade of red I want, so I've been shying away from them of late.


That's all, my friends!  Thanks again for all the awesome questions -- I had so much fun answering them :-)  I'll put links in a comment to the songs I mentioned in the vlog (if I can find them on YouTube) so you can hear them in their entirety.


  1. Here are the songs that came up in the vlog, linked to YouTube so you can hear them:

    "Something in Your Smile" performed by Bobby Darin

    "Silver Bells" performed by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney

    "Lovely Emily" from the 3:10 to Yuma soundtrack by George Duning

    "Last Stand" by John Corbett

  2. I've only read some of these books. Guess I'm only a partially cultivated human being :-P

    I've read Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, (parts of) Tom Sawyer, plenty of Shakespeare (not Hamlet, though), To Kill a Mockingbird, and some Dickens (but not A Tale of Two Cities).

    I really love The Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens. I've read that novel many, many times, because it always makes me feel happy and cozy. Mr. Pickwick and Sam are just gold together *grins thinking about them*

    I enjoyed seeing your reactions to each of the songs that you found :-)

    These vlogs were so much fun!! I hope you do more of them, someday.

    1. Jessica, well, you're on your way, anyway ;-)

      The Pickwick Papers is on my TBR list because I hear so many good things about it. I think it's on my Classics Club list too. I will read that one! Even though I don't "like" Dickens, I do think he's important, and want to read the rest of his books I haven't read yet. But so far, the only ones I like enough to own and re-read have been A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities.

      I was excited that all the songs that popped up were ones I like, and not ones that are more Cowboy's songs than mine :-)

      If I come up with a fun thing to vlog about like maybe a blog tag, I will do another one. Maybe like I did these, where I answered most of the questions in the regular way, but only a couple in the vlog.

    2. You know . . . I could see you digging The Pickwick Papers. Reason being, Dickens does something in that novel which you also do very well--his protagonist is a quiet, "ordinary," middle-aged dude, whom most people would dismiss right away as "boring." But here's the thing--HE'S NOT BORING. He's fabulous. But you never realize that until you read the novel.

      I really love Mr. Pickwick; he's not the sharpest tack in the box, sure, but he's kind. And gentle. And loyal. And he loves to have adventures . . . he just really appreciates Life, y'know?

      Plus, Sam Weller is EPIC. The end.

      Although, I will say, if you read it, the first 10-20% or so is super skippable. Dickens really didn't know what he was doing when he started writing that book in serial--he got much, MUCH better as he went along.

    3. Jessica, that's cool! I just might have to bump Pickwick up my TBR list. And I'll keep your advice in mind -- might skim that first part, we'll see.

  3. I liked your book list for the well-read adult...except I was confused by one: The Old Man and the Sea.
    "If you're going to read Ernest Hemingway, you probably should read the one everyone's talking about..."
    Well...I have never read it (only a few exerpts in one of my literature classes back in jr. high), but you're right. It IS the one everyone talks about. Just not in a positive way. All I've ever heard is how boring and awful it is to read. Did you like it?

    Let's see, I HAVE read: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Hamlet (not my favorite Shakespeare, but a good one), (Dickens, but not A Tale of Two Cities), Jane Eyre (one of my favorite books ever and I have the exact same copy as you!!!:), Pride & Prejudice (obviously), and Little Women. To Kill and Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby are both on my to-read list, though, so I will be a fairly cultivated adult by the end of next year...I hope.

    I really enjoyed your vlogs, and I certainly do think that you should do more of them in the future. :)

    1. Elanor, I think I mentioned in the vlog that a lot of people have to read The Old Man and the Sea in high school, and that I don't think that's necessarily a good thing. I think high schools use it and The Great Gatsby for lit classes because they're short, and there's an idea that "short" equals "easy to understand." And in my opinion, both of them are not well-suited to teens. They both require the reader to have some life experience to appreciate what happens in the story and what they have to say about life.

      Over and over, I run into people who say they don't like Hemingway's writing, and when I ask them what they've read of his, it's almost always "The Old Man and the Sea." And they've almost always read it for some class or other that spent all kinds of time talking about symbolism and very little talking about the actual story and what Hemingway might be trying to say about life and aging and endurance. So you're right, it's famous in a kind of negative way these days, which I think is a shame.

      I led a read-along of The Old Man and the Sea a few years back -- if you want to know more of my thoughts on it, you could read this post.

      How cool we have the same copy of Jane Eyre! Isn't it a pretty one?

      I will try to do more vlogs in the future, then. When I have something I want to talk about and not type about, or whatever.

  4. Your list of books were very interesting! I've read quite a few and I know a lot about almost all the others... I think some of them, as you said, are more important to Americans, but I feel like a lot of good classics books were set in/written by citizens of America. Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are some of my FAVOURITE books!! I enjoyed a Tale of Two Cities, but it's definitely not my favourite Dickens book. However, it's been a couple years, so I guess it's time for a re-read. (I was only about 14 when I read it, I think.)

    That Silver Bells songs is making me all nostalgic about Christmas. :D I CAN'T WAIT FOR IT TO COME!!!

    I loved your vlogs! You seem very comfortable on camera - much more so than I. ;) (Maybe because getting a time when no one else is around me is nigh impossible, so there's always someone watching me somewhere and making me feel self conscious. :P)

    I really enjoyed these posts!

    1. Gabby, I'm glad you found the list interesting! I'm due for a re-read of A Tale of Two Cities myself. Perhaps in 2018.

      My kids ask me almost every day lately how long it'll be until Christmas, and I do not get tired of that question :-)

      Thanks! Maybe it helped that my dad loves taking videos of people, so I've spent my whole life being videoed at one time or another. And now I do the same to my kids. So I'm not afraid of cameras? But it also definitely helped that I didn't have anyone else around. (And to be honest, I did several takes for most of these because I would screw something up or get tongue-tied or get lost on a tangent, etc.)

      Glad you enjoyed these!

  5. Great selection of books! Have to admit, that Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre are two I've never managed to attempt--I'm not quite round on that side, I guess. As much as I love Tom Sawyer, I think I would substitute Huckleberry Finn as number one; it is The Great American Novel, in my opinion.

    1. Thanks, Stanley! I know Huckleberry Finn is widely considered to be the Great American Novel, so you're not alone in that. I just... like Tom Sawyer better, and think it's more approachable overall.

  6. I've read all of those books, except for Fahrenheit 451. And of the 9 that I did read, Little Women was the only one I didn't read for high school, although I did read it while in high school. I guess I'm only mostly well rounded. I guess I'll have to find a copy of Fahrenheit 451.
    Silver Bells is definitely a favourite but I had never heard of any of the others. I liked them, though. I wasn't sure what I would think of the country song, but I was pleasantly surprised.

    1. Kendra, good job, then! Fahrenheit 451 is pretty amazing, so I hope you find (and enjoy) it.

      It's not a really deeply country song, I don't think -- it's almost pop? Anyway, glad you enjoyed them!

  7. These were great questions! I definitely agree with your book list (can't say I've read them all, but I agree!) I haven't read Farenheit 451; it'll go on my to-read list for Christmas break.
    Speaking of Christmas, it's not coming soon enough for me either!

    1. Abby, I know! I got so many really cool questions. Kudos to all those who left them.

      Fahrenheit 451 is such a quick read -- take it on the plane ride home and you'll have it done before you land!

  8. Finally got around to watching the vlog. First I don't really understand people who don't like Dickens. I have read several. (We read Tale of Two Cities in my sophomore class). I admit that Dickens gets a little long-winded sometimes, but then so does Stephen King.

    As for Shakespeare. Have read Macbeth (another high school project) and really love A Midsummer Night's Dream. I have a teddy bear I have kept for over 25 years that I named "Puck", not only because I feel a bit of relationship to the character, but also because the teddy bear is a metaphor for both mine and Puck's nature. It is a long-haired thing that looks like a paint factory exploded on it. Wish I had a picture to post. I know the story of Hamlet, but I've never actually read that one. It was a part of the story for the movie "Renaissance Man", however, if you haven't seen that I recommend it. Whenever I finally track down a copy I will review it on my blog.

    1. Quiggy, it's not so much Dickens' long-windedness that I don't like as how so often, his characters have these Meaningful Names and represent different characteristics... and so many of his stories are extremely depressing.

      I've only read two books by Stephen King: On Writing and Salem's Lot. I can't do horror, but I loved his memoir so much I've read it three times. (I read one more of his books just so people would stop accusing me of being a literary snob because I didn't read his books. I do handle vampires okay.)

      DUDE! I have seen Renaissance Man! You are the first person since college that I know of who has seen it. I had a roommate who loved Brendan Fraser, so I saw it several times courtesy of her. I quite liked it.

    2. Unless I'm completely out of my mind, Brendan Fraser wasn't in Renaissance Man. Maybe you're thinking of Encino Man? Or maybe it was some other actor. Marky Mark Wahlberg made his theatrical debut in it.

      BTW, I just read the rest of the blog. I missed that you want to see The Alamo on your bucket list. If you do happen to get to SA, don't forget to let me know. We can meet for coffee or something. I'm just 40 miles up the road.

    3. Quiggy, I consulted imdb, and haha, I was thinking of With Honors, not Renaissance Man. For some reason, I always get those two titles confused. They both came out in 1994, so maybe that's part of it?

      We're planning to make some forays out west when the kids are old enough to remember it -- I want the youngest to be at least 7, as I traveled through the west when I was 7 and remember some of it fairly well. So it'll be a couple years yet! But I will definitely let you know at such time as I get to Texas again :-)

  9. I loved hearing your list of top ten books! And, my husband and I have dreamed of going to Alaska someday, too! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving such a kind comment. It was wonderful to "meet" you. God bless you always!

    1. Hi, Cheryl! Glad you enjoyed the list :-) Good to "meet" you too!

  10. Ooh, I loved the vlog! And such a good selection of books! Though, I must admit I have only read 7 of the 10 books, so maybe I'm not as cultivated as I thought;)
    My excuse must be that I don't live in the US so I didn't read them in school. Well then, I guess I'm off to read Tom Sawyer, To Kill A Mockingbird and The Old Man and The Sea.

    Really enjoyed reading all your answer posts:)

    1. Hi, Rose! So glad you enjoyed the vlog and all the posts :-) Like I did say, some of those selections are very American (including Tom Sawyer), so if you live outside the US, it applies less to you? Anyway, of those three, read To Kill a Mockingbird for sure.


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