Sunday, January 10, 2010

What Color Snuggie? and other Big Questions

Most of my thoughts and efforts this past week have involved questions--asking them, not answering them. For example, I've been pondering a good icebreaker question to ask the ladies in the Bible study that I'm co-leading next month. You know, that inevitable "Can you tell us something about yourself?" opener in a new group that helps folks get to know each other--but doesn't make shy people break out in hives and run for the Ladies Room. Our previous leader was so good at finding just the right question to ask; always discerning, with a touch of whimsy. Like:

"What's your favorite ice cream flavor?" Or "What's your choice--salty or sweet?" And the ever-popular, "Can you share something that people might be surprised to learn about you?"

I remember my answers: "Pumpkin." "Salty." "I'm an author."

It's my turn to come up with a new icebreaker question. And (because I'm a salty, pumpkin-loving writer) I may just set a little scene before tossing out my question. Something like:

"You've got the evening to yourself--just you, the TV, and big bowl of popcorn. You're going to treat yourself to a movie on DVD. So . . . you curl up on the couch, pick up the remote, and . . .

1) What kind of movie are watching? Comedy? Action thriller? Romance? Sci Fi? Classic oldie?
2) What color is your Snuggie?"

The other questions running through my mind this week have to do with finishing up my third Mercy Hospital book, CODE TRIAGE, scheduled for release in September. I've completed the edits and all that remains is to come up with a dozen or so Book Discussion Questions. These are the questions that appear at the back of a book, a sort of bonus that invites the reader to dig a bit deeper in experiencing the story. I've done these questions for both Critical Care and for Disaster Status. And, because I'd never been asked to do them before, I first read examples from other authors' work. I noticed that the questions not only addressed the story's events and characterizations, but invited the readers to reflect upon their own experiences. I gave it my best shot, and came up with this question for Critical Care:

ER nurse Erin Quinn finds it difficult to trust. She forces herself to try, despite “red flags” warning her about the sincerity of her boyfriend Brad. Have you had that experience in your life? What are signs you might be heading down a wrong path--anxiety, a “sinking” stomach, or sleeplessness? How easily do you trust? How readily do you turn to God to provide the answers to these nagging doubts?

Book Discussion questions are provided for both group discussion (book clubs) and for individual reading. Not all novels include them. While I've not been involved in many book clubs, I do find that I enjoy reading questions included at the back of a book, especially if the author wrote them personally. For me, it's a way of gaining insight into what the author thinks is important in the book--and if I "got" that from my read. Sometimes I feel that way when I've watched a movie that I found thought-provoking, or which has an ending left open to speculation. I'll sometimes Google reviews and see if other viewers were thinking along the same lines as I.

So . . . I'm writing questions for Code Triage. And wonder, how do you feel about having discussion questions at the end of a novel? Do you find them helpful? Have you included them in book club study? Do you skip right past them?

I'm curious about your thoughts.

Oh, and before I go back to work on those discussion questions--there's one last little matter I need your help with:

You've curled up on the couch, have your popcorn and the remote . . .

What color is your Snuggie and what kind of movie are you watching?


MJFredrick said...

Action, and leopard print ;)

Okay, I don't actually have a Snuggie--I have an awesome chenille afghan--but if I had one, leopard print ;)

CandaceCalvert said...

Ha, Mary! I don't have a Snuggie either, but think leopard might be the cat's meow for me as well. ;-)

I'd probably be watching romantic comedy--maybe Sweet Home Alabama again. Or Hepburn and Grant, or American Dreamer, or . . . ack, too many good choices!

Denise said...

Hi Candace!

First of all, despite leaving HUGE hints to my loved ones, I am still without a Snuggie. (wah) My husband and son went Christmas shopping, couldn't decide whether I would like hunter green or tan, so they left the store with a kid's Snuggie for Nick and a Cowboys Snuggie for hubby and nothing for mom. :( I'll probably buy one for myself..someday. :)
I think discussion questions at the end of a novel are great! Our book club usually prefers to select a novel that includes discussion questions either on a website or in the back of the book. Hope that helps!

Carmen said...

I love the study questions. Makes one think more deeply about what we just read.

If they made them, I'd have a pink and rose floral snuggie.

I'd be watching Anne of Green Gables.

CandaceCalvert said...

Hi Denise--thanks for your input regarding the study questions. I like it that Tyndale House includes them (and also posts them on their website).As an author, it gives me a sort of "full circle" feel to the writing experience--reminding myself of the story's take-away.
Ha! I would push for a Valentine's Day Snuggie if I were you. I never gave them a second thought until we had this extended cold snap. Now . . .

CandaceCalvert said...

Carmen--welcome, so nice to see you here! You make me especially glad that I'm including study questions in my Mercy Hospital books. Love your Snuggie choice and your movie--Anne of Green Gables is one of my very favorite movies!! Have seen it many times (own the series on video)and, of course, especially love it Anne is a writer. We must be "kindred spirits." :-)

Unknown said...

Okay, don't kill me, Candace, but as a reader I tend to
skip the discussion questions in the back. Maybe it's because I'm not in a book club and I have no one to dicuss my observations with. As for the Snuggie, I'd choose tan because the color would match my burgundy throw pillows. :-)

CandaceCalvert said...

Oh, gotta love a woman who coordinates her Snuggie with her couch pillows! :-)

Understand about the questions--I'm only just noticing them now that I'm reading so much CBA vs. ABA. And because I'm writing these kind of questions myself.

I'll just e-mail you a short quiz after you read Disaster Status. ;-)

Keli Gwyn said...

Candace, the movie would be a romance. My latest views were The Note and The Note II based on Angela Hunt's novels. Both were great. I preferred the second, though, because there's a bigger helping of romance.

My Snuggie, if I had one, would be blue. Any shade. Love that color.

I'll sometimes scan the discussion questions, but I don't even think to look if a book has them or not. I suppose that's because I'm so busy asking my own as I read. Comes from being a writer I suppose. In your case, since Critical Care kept me up all night and I didn't finish reading until 6 a.m., I was far too tired to think of anything but the fact that I'd just read a phenomenal book--and that I seriously needed some sleep. :)

CandaceCalvert said...

Keli--so good to "see" you here, Snuggie or not. :-)

Thank you for the kind words about Critical Care--honored to make you sleepless! Also cannot wait to see your inspirational romance in print. So many great things happening your way these past few months. Thrilled for you, and for your readers.

Trudi Hall said...

I don't have a snuggie, but I am wrapped in a quilt that was pieced by my great grandma and quilted by my grandma. It is made of bits of dresses that my aunts wore during the depression.

I I watch a movie today, it will be Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I have loved it since I was little, and now my kids love it. The girls like the 1800s fashions and hunky backwoodsmen, and the boys like the fights.

I love the questions at the ends of novels. Sometimes I read them first and then look for the answers as I enjoy the book.