January 17 2018

Interview with Tamara Woods (PenPaperPad)

I’m not sure of when Tamara and I became friends via YouTube but it’s been quite some time… a few years now. She’s more than one of my writerly friends, and try as I might each time she’s come home (from Hawaii to West Virginia) I’ve wished I could make the trip to West Virginia to meet her in person. One day I will. For now though, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Tamara Woods, otherwise known as T.A. Woods or PenPaperPad on social media.

Tamara is a published poet and author. She’s a YouTube creator. She hosts writerly chats via Tweet Chat on Tuesday nights at 9PM EST by using the hashtag “writestuff.” (#writestuff) She also annually hosts #writetube every year in October to help people learn about and prepare for NaNoWriMo in November.  Every year Mr. Rockstar and I look forward to Tamara’s weekly videos during #writetube–she makes them worth a second watch, and she’s one of the few people on YT that I watch that he’ll sit down and watch the video with me.

So without further ado:


December 7 2016

Discussion Questions for “The Stand”

The Stand by Stephen King. Burgess Taylor

Stephen King’s “The Stand,” is a post apocalyptic novel that many have said is King’s “Lord of the Rings.” It is a monstrosity of a novel. The uncut version is around 1153 pages, but what makes it epic isn’t the length, it’s the characters and the story.

The first third of the novel is about the spread of a man-made super flu virus that has gotten loose. In the first 100 pages, the super flu has wiped out a little over 99% of the population, and those who survive are left with survivor’s guilt, as well as having to learn how to survive and cope with the tragedy that has occurred.

Many of the survivors dream about Mother Abigail, while some dream of the Dark Man (Flagg). The theme of good (Mother Abigail) versus evil (Flagg) is quite obvious, and yet there are other themes in the book as well: themes like fate, the government, and others. What other themes to you think Kind included? And why?

One of the things that really hit me hard when I first started reading “The Stand” this time around was the fact that flu season had started and every where I turned where advertisements for people to get their flu shots. Captain Trips… The slightest sneeze or sniffle and I was thinking about Captain Trips, Mother Abigail, Stu, Nick, Larry (“Baby …dig your man…”), and M-O-O-N….

In the beginning of the novel, Campion is headed straight towards Hapscomb’s Texaco, in a small town named Arnette, TX. Stu saves the pumps from blowing but has no idea he’s signed a death warrant for Arnette and his friends when they’re all exposed to Campion. Fate? Pre-destined?

Much of the middle of the novel is about the road trip to Boulder, Colorado–a long ass road trip, and then setting up their new community, complete with meetings, minutes of the meetings, etc. Do you think King’s attention to detail added to the novel or took away from it?

What do you think about the characters?

Mother Abigail’s flock?

Flagg’s army?

Who  are your favorite characters, and why?

Least favorite, and why?

Which characters are the weakest links? Which characters are the strongest links?

Which characters change the most?

And last but not least…

Once again, we see Flagg in a King novel. The Dark One, the Dark Man, the Crimson King, the Man in Black… what do you think about Flagg in this novel?

November 1 2016

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

During November we’ll be reading The Eyes of the Dragon as the next book in the Dark Tower reading project. This book is quite different than King’s other books, and is definitely connected to the Dark Tower series. Here are the discussion questions for Eyes of the Dragon:

  1. Why does Flagg want to destroy/ruin Delain? “He wanted what evil men always want; to have power and use that power to make mischief. Being a King did not interest him because the heads of Kings all too often found their way to spikes on castle walls when things went wrong. But the advisors to Kings…the spinners in the shadows…such people usually melted away like evening shadows at dawning as soon as the headsman’s axe started to fall. Flagg as a sickness, a fever looking for a cool brow to heat hup. He hooded his actions just as he hooded his face. And when the great trouble came–as it always did after a span of years–Flagg always disappeared like shadows at dawn. Later, when the carnage was over and the fever had passed, when the rebuilding was complete and there was again something worth destroying, Flagg would appear once more.” The Road to the Dark Tower, Bev Vincent
  2. Why doesn’t Thomas tell anyone he saw Flagg in Roland’s (King Roland, not our gunslinger Roland) room? Flagg’s influence and manipulation, his jealousy over Peter, selfishness…
  3. Why does Flagg want Peter out of the way? Peter is intelligent and not easily manipulated, and he will be a good king, a fair king. 
  4. Why does Flag want to kill Sasha? She has too much influence over King Roland… King Roland listens to her and not to Flagg. She’s in the way.
  5. Is Roland a good king? A good father? He’s neither bad nor good at either, he’s not very smart and is easily manipulated so he definitely wasn’t a great king, but he did care about his people and was fair so he wasn’t a bad king. He would have been a much better father if Sasha hadn’t died. 
  6. While in prison, Peter finds a note that was written by a former prisoner. The note implicates Flagg in a murder that took place 450 years ago. What was the person who wrote the note accused of? Flagg’s been in and out of Delain many times trying to ruin it…Valera was imprisoned for killing his wife Eleanor during the reign of Alan II…450 years before Peter was imprisoned for killing his father…neither man committed the crimes they were accused of…both men were framed by Flagg, and the note accuses Flagg of being the murderer. 
  7. What are some of the other names Flagg has used?  Bill Hinch, and he had been the King’s Lord High Executioner. a singer named Bronson, 
  8. The tower where Peter is imprisoned seems symbolic of the Tower. What do you think about the various symbols within the books we’ve read so far? The Needle is reminiscent of the Tower, the last vestige of hope. I like the symbols. Each time I read the book I find a new that I missed before. 
  9. What did you think about this book? I enjoyed the book. It’s a bit of a mix between a Fairy Tale and a Fantasy. It had all the essential King elements, but was quite different than his other books.