Because I’m Lazy and Need to Update… A Questionnaire

Hey, yo!

Man, this updating stuff is something that’s been on my mind all week. I feel terrible that I haven’t updated more on here. I really miss interacting more with my WP buddies, but time is a nasty you-know-what.

I was over on bluechickenninja’s blog just now, and she posted a really cool questionnaire that she snagged from a fellow blogger, as well.

So, since my brain is mush from my new job and getting so much writing done (yay!), I’m going to do the questionnaire.

Not that anybody really cares to know this crap about me, but I like doing questionnaires, so you’re all going to suffer.

Here we go!

Reader (I’m adding writer) Questionnaire:

1. What is your favourite book?

My favorite book ever is not something that I can narrow down. There are too many amazing choices. I’ll include a few that just pop up continually: Lord of the Rings (obvious if you actually read my blog), Anne of Green Gables (also obvious), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Flowers for Algernon, Persuasion, The Princess, Forevermore, umm… umm… I like so many others, too. Gah!

2. What are your goals? For the year? For your life?

My goal for the year is to finish the massive re-write of my first book and get an agent. Also, I need to finish the first draft of the second book in that series. My goals for life are vast. I have too many to list here, but I’ll say I want to be published, adopt a bunch of kids, and be happy.

3. Are you a writer? If so, tell me about your work. 
Yes. My work is varied, depending on what you’re talking about. The piece I’m working on right now is a series of books for the middle grade market (7-12 year-olds). It’s a fantasy based around a young girl and her friends who are part of an ancient race of beings who protect humans and the Earth. It follows them for a few years and we watch as they battle “the bad guy,” each other, and themselves.

4. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Everywhere. I want to see it all.

5. What was the last movie you saw in the theatre and was it worthwhile?
The last movie I saw in the theatre was The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I’m sorry to say I was extremely disappointed in all three of those movies. The acting was good, and most of the digital effects, but I’m sorry. I am a HUGE fan of the book and all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing on Middle Earth and everything else. The amount of changes they made to the storyline was RIDICULOUS! I was so mad because Peter Jackson is an amazingly talented man. Why did he let this nonsense go on? Yes, they took information from the indices, but much of what was changed wasn’t even in those! Yagh! The Hobbit is an awesome story without all the added goop. The Lord of the Rings are my all-time favorite movies, so I had high expectations and hopes for The Hobbit movies. They didn’t come anywhere close to my expectations.

6. I’m curious, are there any books that you’ve tried to read and simply couldn’t finish? This is a no judgement zone.
Yes, I’m sure there are many. I can’t stand forcing myself to finish I book I despise, unless it’s for school. But honestly, I enjoyed pretty much all the books I was assigned for reading. There are too many other books out there to waste my time reading something that doesn’t hold my attention. Twilight was one of them. *Shudder* Blech. I rolled my eyes about a dozen times in the first two chapters. I never finished any of them.

I know there are more, but that’s the most memorable one that comes to mind.

7. Are you currently working on a new book/project right now? If it’s secret, you don’t have to tell me about it. If so, however, I hope it’s going well.
I already talked about my re-write for my first book. That’s the major project. I have about 12 other books in the making, all in various stages of completion, so occasionally my mind wanders to one of them and I get sidetracked from my main project. My other writing projects range from Christian fiction/romance, to children’s books (think under seven years old), to murder mystery, to non-fiction books on Christianity, to comedies, to historical fiction… It’s an awesome list of projects and I love them all, but it’s definitely overwhelming.

8. If you could live in any of your favourite books, which one would you choose?

This is difficult because there are so many books I love. Middle Earth is probably my first choice (LOTR), but it’s a close tie to Prince Edward island, where Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) grew up. I’d also love to live for a time in Jane Austen’s England. Many people tell me I was born 200 years too late, so that would put me right about in the correct time period.

9. Are there any book-to-movie adaptations that you think are just incredible? That you absolutely hated?

I think LOTR was amazing. Yes, they changed things, but the story pretty much stayed on track. The cinematography and special effects were groundbreaking for the time. It won a million awards, and rightly so.

My least favorite adaptation is the third Anne of Green Gables movie. The man who owns the rights to the stories mucked it all up. The first two were good, a bit off, but nothing completely unforgivable. The last one was horrendously off-story. The writer/director basically made an entirely new story to suit himself. I love the characters and the acting was great, but I’m ashamed of Kevin Sullivan and his wanton abuse of the success of L.M. Montgomery’s magnificent books.

10. What do you look for in a book that you want to read? What’s the first thing to capture your attention?

Sometimes it’s the cover. Especially for kids books. I read a lot of them because that’s the age-range I write for, and if the cover is boring, kids won’t pick it up.

For other books, it’s the synopsis and the first page or two. If I roll my eyes even once during the synopsis, I put the book back. If I’m not hooked after two or three pages, I set the book down (assuming I’m in a bookstore). Sometimes I’ll read two or three chapters just to see if it gets better, but if not, I won’t finish it.

11. If you’re an author, what do you do when you first get an idea for a book?

I get ideas at the most inopportune times. Usually in the shower, while I’m driving, or when I’m at work. None of these times are conducive to writing something down, so if I can’t do that, I say the idea in my head over and over again. If I’m near my ever-present notebook, I’ll write down as much as I can on the topic. If I’m driving, I’ll pull out the dictation app on my phone and talk away until I’ve exhausted the creative juices.

I have waited too long and lost the idea for a book. That makes me nuts. Usually it’s a dream or some passing thought while I’m driving and I don’t get it down quick enough, thinking “Oh, I’ll remember on my own.” Pfft. Not.

12. How do you feel about different genres? Romance? YA? Sci-Fi? Poetry? Do you have any favorites? Any least-favourites?

I love many genres. Middle grade fiction (what I write), fantasy over sci-fi, fiction over non-fiction. Prose over poetry.

I’ve read a little of everything. I love the classics. And magical realism.

13. If you could meet any writer in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?

J.R.R. Tolkien. No question. The man was a genius. He created multiple FULL languages that people can actually learn and speak. He also crafted the most historically complex and detailed modern epic fantasy masterpiece. I’d love to pick his brain.

14. Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Fiction.

15. Are there any characters that everyone loves that you can’t stand? Or vice versa?

I despise Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. I honestly don’t know how anyone could like her. Also, Bella Swan from Twilight. She is the epitome of what a main character ought NOT to be.

16. What do you like to do besides reading/writing?
I sing. I’m a die-hard Detroit Red Wings fan. I like movies. I love to travel. Having dinner with friends. Exploring someplace new.

17. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

I’d just like to have made a positive influence on someone’s life. I’d love it if someone told me, near the end of my life, that being friends/enemies/co-workers/neighbors with me changed their life for the better, I’d die the happiest person on Earth.

Does that sound too self-absorbed? Oh, well.

18. What is your favourite guilty pleasure book?
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

19. Do you have a reading goal set for this year?
I never make reading goals. I usually read well over 100 each year, so it seems pointless to make a goal for more than that.

20. Tell me anything about yourself that I haven’t asked. Random fact. Weird human trick. Whatever.

I have GPS fingers. Seriously. If you tell me something hurts, even a vague spot, I will be able to put my fingers exactly on the spot causing pain. Part of that is my career as a physical therapist, but I know other PTs who aren’t as good at that.

Listen to me boast. 🙂 GPS fingers. That’s an Amy-ism right there. It’s a thing.

Ergh! Enough about me. I’d like to hear about you! Feel free to steal away and let me read all these lovely things about you.

Happy writing!

Top Ten Tuesday – Books To Give Away

It’s that day again!

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten list by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish is a topic that took me some time to think about. It was Top Ten Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read X. Over at their blog, they picked historical fiction. In a similar fashion, I’m going to pick the Classics. Top Ten Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read the Classics.

1. Shakespeare. Shakespeare, Shakespeare, ANYTHING Shakespeare! I know this isn’t a book per se, but he is my top pick for anything classical. I especially love his sonnets, but I know poetry isn’t for everyone. My favorite play is Macbeth, which is much darker and brooding than my normal taste allows for. I’ve never read anything by Shakespeare I didn’t like. I understand the classics aren’t for everyone, but I think we all enjoy a good spooky story. Macbeth is a great place to start.

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Many modern authors have criticizes Jane’s writing, but she was a female author in the early 1800s… of course she’d write about love and gossip and scandal and family. Although Pride and Prejudice isn’t my favorite Austen book, it is the favorite of the general population. What I think appeals more to people who may not like the classics is the stupidity of the Bennet women and their antics. I’m excluding Jane and Lizzie, of course. It’s hilarious to watch these women make fools of themselves. The humor in that book, alone, makes it worth the read. 

3. The Divine Comedy/Dante’s Inferno by Dante Alighieri. Instead of reading the actual work, which is quite difficult, I’d go ahead and pick up a modernized version of it so that it makes sense. When I first read it, I had to write down everything that didn’t make sense to me and look it up. Let’s just say it was a long read. But if you get, say, this version, it’ll be easier to read. Many current literary experts agree that the two most prominent writers of classical literature are Dante and Shakespeare. Dante’s work is dark and imaginative, and I always learn some tidbit about creativity and writing from it. 

4. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – I’m not really sure if he’s considered a classical author, but I consider him to be one. These books/stories are a lot easier for people who don’t like classical literature to swallow. They’re generally pretty short, and have a certain storytelling rhythm that’s repeated in each tale (the adventure/mystery happens, then the backstory is explained for the reason behind it). It’s fairly straightforward stuff, but fun to read and extraordinary in detail. If you know anything about Sherlock, it’s how smart he is and how much he notices every little detail. That comes through in the books in a subtle way, and it’s brilliant.

5. 1984 by George Orwell. I read this book in high school and was completely weirded out by it. I’m even more so now because of how much written in that book is now coming to fruition. Big Brother, indeed. He was spot on. It’s not a difficult read, nor is it overly long. One of my faves, for sure.

6. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. This was my favorite book in high school. I couldn’t even pinpoint why. It was depressing most of the time, but such an easy and interesting read. It was originally a short story, but then later turned into a novel. For those who haven’t heard of it, the story centers around Algernon, a laboratory mouse who has experimental surgery to make him more intelligent. His changes are recorded and observed by Charlie Gordon, who is mentally disabled, and the first human subject in the experiment. What happens to Algernon eventually happens to Charlie, and it’s a testimony to the human condition and the morality/ethics of human and animal experimentation. I consider it a bit satiric, which I like in the classics.

7. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is a must read for everyone, whether they like the classics or not. Atticus Finch imparts some crazy good philosophy and is a moral hero for many people. It’s a quote-worthy book unlike many others.

8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. For those of you who’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that he is one of my favorite authors and has influenced my writing the most (along with L.M. Montgomery). I wouldn’t recommend LOTR to people who haven’t read the classics because it’s much meatier and harder to get into. But The Hobbit is a fast read full of adventure, and it opens up the world of Middle Earth and all the wonder of Tolkien’s genius. 

9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. She, along with Tolkien, are the writers I admire the most. However, the story of a young orphan girl who has a tendency to rant on and on in long soliloquies is not for the faint of heart. It’s set in Canada in the late 1800s, early 1900s, and follows the hilarious antics of an orphan who gets herself into a lot of trouble because she’s so curious and full of life. She’s my favorite literary heroine, and always will be.

10. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Another gritty, morally enlightening book that puts things into perspective on how we treat people who are different than us. It’s set in Puritanical Massachusetts in the mid 1600s, so you can imagine how people acted and how they talked. But it’s not a long book, and there are a lot of good lessons to be learned. 

 

Wow. That was hard. There are so many other classic books I would love to recommend: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Secret Garden, Moby Dick, The Phantom of the Opera, Little Women, The Count of Monte Cristo… the list could go on for pages.

What do you think of my choices? Do you like the classics or would you ever consider reading them? Why or why not? I used to hate them, myself, but now I can’t get enough of them!

Happy writing!

Top Ten Tuesday – Authors Who Fill My Bookcase

It’s Tuesday! 

Top Ten Tuesday

As has become a weekly post for me, I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday put on by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish blog

This week’s topic: Authors whose books I own the most of. (Weird sentence, no?)

Here we go!

 

1. L.M. Montgomery ~ 15 books. She wrote a lot more than just the Anne of Green Gables books, but that’s what she’s most remembered for writing. If you recall from this post, Anne is my all-time favorite literary heroine, and L.M. Montgomery (with J.R.R. Tolkien) are the authors who have most influenced my own writing. Love her!

2. J.R.R. Tolkien ~ 10 books. Since he’s one of my favorite authors, it makes sense I’d own a good portion of his books. Besides LOTR and the Hobbit, he’s written and published much  more about the history of Middle Earth, as well as other scholarly books. He’s a fabulous, classical writer and I love him. 🙂

3. Cathy Marie Hake ~ 10 books. She writes historical Christian RomComs, and her books always make me laugh. I read a lot of them in my teen years, but I still love them now.

4. J.K. Rowling ~ 9 books. I own the HP series in paperback, as well as Quidditch Through the Ages, and Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them. An amazing imaginative genius, and her writing is so down-to-earth.

5. Jane Austen ~ 8 books. I own all of her novels, as well as some of her children’s stories, poetry, and short stories. I know many contemporary authors hate her, but she’s still one of my faves!

6. William Shakespeare ~ 20 works. I’ve read a great many plays by Shakespeare, keep a smallish book of his sonnets (that has a ton of post-it notes all over inside), and can quote a bit of Macbeth from memory. He was and is one of the best writers of all time, and he revolutionized speech, I think. So many phrases we use today were originated in his works. He’s a hero of mine, for sure.

7. Bibles ~ 15. I own a great many bibles in different translations, as well as from different time periods. I have a New Testament that’s 150 years old and in decent condition. I mentioned in this post about my devotion to my faith, so bibles and Christian books are very important. I have around 50 non-fiction Christian/Catholic books (yes, I’ve read them all). I adore history, so having old books with me is like surrounding myself with the past. And I love it.

8. Grace Livingston Hill ~ 30 books. I don’t know how many people have ever encountered Grace Livingston Hill, but she was a prolific author in the early 1900s. One of my top ten favorite books of all time, Marcia Schuyler, was written by her. Some of her books are very short, and others are longer than Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the fifth HP book, and the longest). Another one of my author heroes.

9. C.S. Lewis ~ 15 books. Besides his seven part Narnia series, I also own the Space Trilogy, The Screwtape Letters, and many, many of his writings as a Christian lay theologian. I hear there’s a movie coming out about the friendship between him and J.R.R. Tolkien. I can’t wait to see it!

10. Mary Connealy ~ 20 books. Another Christian historical RomCom writer. (Can you tell I like historical/fantastical books, yet?) She’s hilarious! I don’t like reading depressing fiction that much (although who couldn’t use a good cry every now and then, right?), so I usually tend towards the funnier or more fantastical writers. Especially in this genre.

 

Well, there you have it! The top ten people who fill my bookcase! I know you don’t see tons and tons of MG fiction here (since that’s what I primarily write), but I do own a substantial amount of that. It’s just not enough by one author in particular to include it on my list.

What authors do you keep most on your bookshelves?

Happy writing! (And reading!)

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters on a Deserted Island

Top Ten Tuesday

It’s that day again! Top Ten Tuesday, presented by the fabulous people at The Broke and the Bookish blog

This week’s sweet topic is the top ten characters I’d want with me on a deserted island. This will be so hard to narrow it down to just ten! Urgh! But here it goes!

 

1. Legolas Greenleaf from Lord of the Rings – Not only is he one of my favorite LOTR characters, but he’s deadly with a bow and arrow, and he can sense things that mortals cannot. Plus, he’s pretty easy on the eyes, too. 😉

2. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter – No offense to Harry, but Hermione is the much more talented witch/wizard. Harry has the heart, but Hermione has the brains. If I’m stuck on a deserted island, brains is more important, and that’s a fact. (And come on, couldn’t she just make a portkey or something and zap us all back home if we needed it?)

3. John Watson from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock is awesome, but John is loyal, funny, and strong. All good traits when stuck somewhere you shouldn’t be. He was also a soldier, which means he knows a lot of survival tricks. (Think the original Sherlock Holmes from the 1800s). He’d be invaluable on a deserted island.

4. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe – Okay, seriously, how useful would they be? First of all, they can talk, so they’d be good company. And they’d be able to talk to any other animals on the island. AND, they can build dams and/or other log structures for shelter! An obvious choice to me.

5. Gimli from Lord of the Rings – An axe-wielding dwarf with a sense of humor? Not someone I’d cross on a bad day, but definitely someone to lighten the mood when it’s called for. 

6. Hope Ladley from Forevermore – It’s a Christian RomCom, so I don’t know how many of you have read the book, but Hope is a chipper, down-home, illiterate, itinerant cook with a donkey named Hattie who wears a large hat. It’s hilarious! Hope can cook ANYTHING so it’d be nice to have someone with a wide knowledge of cooking techniques and what tastes good. I’m talking good old-fashioned southern food, too. Mmm!!! Plus, she’s hilarious and always mangles idioms, but they still make sense when she says them. A great character, and a great person to have in a pinch.

7. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables – Not only is she my favorite literary heroine of all time, but she and I have a lot in common. I think we’d be great friends, and it’d be nice to have someone to talk to when on a desert island. We’d both get into so much accidental trouble, nobody would believe what we’d done!

8. John Jarndyce from Bleak House – Honestly, just an all-around nice guy who would do anything for anybody to keep them happy. Even at his own expense and happiness. I adore this character, and I’d like to have him around just to talk to him about everything that happened to him.

9. The Dinosaur from Danny and the Dinosaur – This was one of my all time favorite children’s books growing up, and having a nice dinosaur on an island full of who knows what could be very helpful. Plus, he could reach really tall trees or hills if we were too short to get something that was just out of reach. Yep. A dinosaur would be super useful.

10. Anne Elliot from Persuasion – Anne is quiet, but she’s practical and gets crap done! Plus, she’s loyal and friendly and puts the needs of others above her own. She’d probably be one of the first people to think of how to make a shelter or signal for help. 

 

There they are! My top ten characters to be stuck with on a deserted island. There are a ton more that I think would be great, but these stick out above the rest. 

Who would you like to have with you? 

Happy writing!

Don’t Underestimate Me

Underestimate

I think people underestimate me. I’m tall, quiet, shy, polite, and have a hard time telling people ‘no.’ I don’t exactly look threatening. A former patient of mine said I was as cuddly as a teddy bear. Not even joking about that one.

So I think that people may not believe me when I tell them I can do something.

This morning and afternoon I worked at my second job at a nursing home/rehab center. (Remember I’m a physical therapist). After receiving my list of patients, I was immediately told by another therapist: “Don’t even bother going to see HER before breakfast. She NEVER works with anyone. You can try, but she’ll say no.”

I smiled sweetly at this therapist I’d never met before and thought to myself: “Just watch me.”

Within ten minutes, I had the patient laughing, smiling, and telling me all about where she’d gotten her nails done and how long ago her 50th wedding anniversary was.

Afterwards, the other therapist was shocked that the patient had worked with me. That she’d been wrapped nice and tight around my little pinky finger.

I don’t think people realize just how persuasive and sickeningly sweet I can be. It’s felled many a snarky patient.

But besides that one therapist underestimating my abilities before she’d even see me work, she passed judgment on the poor patient simply because she hadn’t wanted to do therapy before breakfast. Is that really fair?

There is a great deal of prejudice against the elderly these days. Far more than the up and coming generations. We treat them like children, speak to them like they’re babies, and shove them around like a piece of overcooked steak on a dinner plate. No wonder they’re a bit testy! I would be, too!

I’m awfully tempted to write a book from the perspective of a nursing home patient. I know many other therapists who do the bare minimum with their patients, telling themselves it’s okay because they’re old and not expected to do much.

Excuse me. No.

They have more to teach us than we can teach them. My patients in the nursing home love me. I’m going to go ahead and toot my own horn. But they also know that when I come to get them, it’s not going to be an easy session. Because I won’t give up on them. Just because they’re old doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put just as much effort into helping them as a young athlete with an ACL tear. If I believe that they’re going to get better, and I push them because I believe in it so much, then they’ll start to believe in themselves, too. And they do. It never fails.

Why am I ranting about this?

Because I think that so many people also underestimate writers. We get that scornful look when we tell people what we do, as if being a writer is a blight on humanity, and only those who can’t get a “real” job fall back on writing as a means of supporting themselves.

I hate to disparage any writer. I’m sure I’ve done it in the past, but I really try not to. The sheer amount of time required to produce any amount of creative working is immense, and it irks me when we tell these people that they’re not good enough, even if we don’t like their work. That they haven’t contributed anything to society.

Hello? Go ahead and tell Anne Frank (if she were living), that she didn’t make a darn bit of difference in the world. Or tell that to J.R.R. Tolkien. Or J.K. Rowling. Or Shakespeare. Or Jane Austen. Or Charles Dickens. I could go on for days.

Where would we be without writers? Without the dreamers of impossible dreams?

Don’t underestimate people. We can’t afford to. We have no idea what kind of talent and drive we’re squelching when we try and hold people back from pursuing goals that may change the world. (And this goes for writers AND the elderly).

Don’t underestimate me. Because behind this quiet, shy, introverted demeanor beats the heart of a warrior waiting to strike.

Happy writing!

 

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
― Leo Buscaglia

“There’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated.”
― Scott LynchThe Lies of Locke Lamora

“One should never underestimate the power of books.”
― Paul AusterThe Brooklyn Follies