Settings Part Two

The 10,000 Names of Manzanar

We got around to rerecording Settings Part 2, the one where we define how a setting can overwhelm the characters in your book. We’re talking about an event that obliterates the routines and comfort zones of your characters. We give thoughts on this genre, starting with highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of your characters as they are changed by the setting.

Trigger Warning: we use Manzanar as an example.

We bring you up to speed on our works in progress (three!) and our prep for Nanowrimo.

Are we right? Wrong? Let us know via our Contacts page. Thanks for listening!

The podcast.

Quick Update

CC and I are keeping busy:

There is no podcast this week, though we recorded one. After review and much debate, we decided that the content was not in keeping with our mission of helping writers write. Shorter: too political. We’ll return to the normal schedule and format on Sunday, October 16.

The edited manuscript for our joint book (codename Stupid Sells) should be back in our hands this week. Because of real life, we looking to slip the release to December. This change in dates gives us time to ensure you get a quality book.

Our graphic arts class is fun, and well be diving into Photoshop soon.

Retirement and I are not comingling well. It’s hard to break 40 years of what I consciously and subconsciously call a “productive day.” (Insert “old dog” jokes here.) CC gave me a kick in the butt at lunch and reminded me I retired to become a full-time writer. Therefore, I have to reset my expectations and guideposts.

Ugh. Change is hard.

I reopened my WIP and will finish it (I hope) before Nanowrimo. It’s really close, but I can do it as long as I write full time.

If you have ideas for a discontented retiree, or want to shoot me encouragement, here you go.

Wish me luck and thanks for reading. You rock.

Who Are We?

“Helping Writers Write”

CC and I zoomed pass one hundred podcasts since we started “The Amateur Hour” in 2021, and we should reintroduce ourselves with a list of our popular podcasts.

Cassidy Carson and JT Hume are parents, grandparents, and independent writers who podcast, and we’ve got a few books between us. We’ve been a team for over forty years, and we learned things about writing and living together during our journey. Our advice and $5 will get you a Starbucks.

Writing: On top of our books, we have works in progress (WIPs): CC’s historical romance, and JT’s space epic. We wrote a book together that was so much fun, we’ll do it again after our individual WIPs. Check out our joint book and let us know if you like it.

Podcast: We podcast to share our experiences and ideas, but we really like to do is sit down and take a break with each other. That’s all. Nothing dramatic or lurid. Two people of a certain age with a history of chatting over coffee. Our podcast mission: “Helping Writers Write.”

These adventures are the meat of our podcasts. Here’s a short list of the many related topics for your listening convenience.

  • Elmore Leonard was a preeminent 20th Century writer, and he created “10 Rules for Good Writing.” We looped in Hemingway and a Marvel movie.
  • We had an on-the-air earthquake while we discussed the “nature vs. nurture” complexity of the “Flawed Protagonist.”
  • The Nature of Reality, and we employ the usual podcast tool of using familiar movies: “The Matrix” and “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

All this and dozens more for your daily commute. We hope you listen and send us feedback because we would love to hear from you.

As we always say, thanks in advance and love you lots!

Settings Part One

Bridgeport, California, October 3, 2022

This week’s podcast has us on the road to Lone Pine, California, home to many movie settings, some of which you’ve seen. We use a visit to the Museum of Western Film History and the Alabama Hills as background for a chat about Settings.

They can be a challenge to writers as we try to strike a balance between adding a colorful dimension versus overwhelming the reader with details and extrapolation.

We thoroughly spoil Pleasantville and Blade Runner (1982) as examples.

Next week, we talk about how a setting can become the dominant tone of a book.

We update listeners on our manuscript at the editors, our graphic design class, and my retirement (also mentioned here).

Have a listen and let us know what you think TIA! LYL!

PS: Here’s our new writers’ selfies. The tallest peak in the background is Mt. Whitney. Which pic is your favorite?

Selfie One
Selfie Two
Selfie Three
Selfie Four
Selfie Five
We’re doing logos in our graphic arts class


Our followers know I retired on Friday, September 30, after 40 total years of public service.

My last day was filled with heartfelt wishes from long-time associates and poignant memories of a building where I learned so much. The icing on the cake was the goodbye dinner with my team and their partners where we were able to raise a glass together as co-workers one last time. I will miss each of them so much, and am thankful they welcomed me as a teammate. They are quality, quality people.

The most humbling gift was the final salute from the Governor’s office, written by my colleagues and guided through the bureaucracy to the top of our chain of command. I can’t express the emotions I felt when I received this. You can read the proclamation here.

The person I am most grateful to is my partner of 40+ years, of course. CC had to put up with my emotional roller coaster for these last few months. Of the two of us, I am the lucky one. ♥

As I said in my “real” twitter, I am blessed to have worked with many strong, passionate, ethical professionals. It was my honor and privilege to serve with them.

Nevada, thank you for taking a chance on me. I hope I did you proud.

(Our regular writer’s podcast will be posted on Monday, October 3. Thank you.)

Road Not Taken

This week we chat about Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken” (apologies to Mr. Frost for mangling the quote in the podcast). With CC and I being of a certain age, we have a better perspective of our interests and skills. What careers would we have picked had we the chance to do things over again? And what were our childhood choices for jobs?

We go down this path because we’re engaging our imaginations and “what if’s,” both being essential writers’ tools. Are you in your chosen career path? What would you have done different “if you knew then what you know now?”

Also discussed is JT’s last week with his long-time day job and our in-depth editing sessions we’re having over our current work in progress.

Have a listen and let us know what you think via our contact page. TIA! LYL!

These kids had no clue. 🙂

Anxiety Attack

JT’s Childhood Hero

We gave ourselves an on-air (and mutual) anxiety attack in this week’s podcast as we talked out our plans for the rest of the year. We didn’t know how much we have going on until we turned on the microphone!

The big part of the podcast was Content Editing. We got the draft back from our editors on our joint project, and we learned that we did indeed have plot holes that need smoothing over before we can return the draft for their next deep dive. We talk about how we created those holes and how we’ll fix them.

Another major portion was a deep dive into our Nanowrimo project we’ll be doing in November. We have ideas and thoughts, and we’ll be hopefully organizing them in a few weeks into a coherent draft. Here’s the Nanowrimo link.

We talked about our ongoing Graphics Art Design class we’re taking at the local college. You can see our first line-drawing exercises below. We’re beginners, so please be kind. The last project we touch is the Big Move where we’ll be making a “partners desk” office in our house after JT retires.

Yowza. See why we had an anxiety attack? We barely skimmed over the upcoming holidays if that’s a clue.

Have a listen and let us know what you think. TIA! LYL!

(Here’s a line-drawing exercise. We had to pick an image, then overlay the image with one continuous line in Adobe Illustrator. Lots of fun!)

Interesting Times

“May you live in interesting times.”

JT’s awesome aunt says this is an ancient Chinese curse. The world has been living through them here in the 21st Century, but what does that mean for the writer who engages in historical fiction?

We discuss the challenges facing authors who use real-life events in their books, including sources of information, writer’s biases, and the challenge of seeing into the future. Historical fiction might be the difficult form of fiction to get right.

Have a listen. Are we right or wrong? Let us know via the comments page. TIA! LYL!

Shaved my beard. What. A. Dork. 😁😂😁😂

Imposter Syndrome

We always say we have a jampacked podcast and we’re usually right. Today’s fun started at Oh-dark-thirty when JT photographed a hot air balloon over Carson City, only to learn later that a friend and colleague was aboard. We ended up taking pictures of each other without knowing we were taking pictures of each other. We dedicated this podcast to that brave, brave soul.

We take a dive into “Imposter Syndrome,” loosely defined as someone who doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments while fearing being exposed as a fraud. We talk at length about how this affects independent writers and people in general, especially with traditional versus independent publishing. We speak to our personal experiences with the phenomenon, and we try to offer possible solutions.

Related: what are the three hardest words for a man to say?

Also discussed: our personal writing projects, retirement plans, changing our house, our Graphics Design class, Halloween decorating.

Have a listen and let us know what you think! TIA! LYL!


p/c: JT. Hi, Homa!
p/c: Homa via her Twitter. JT is in this pic somewhere. 🙂

Marketing is Cruel

Episode 81 is all about making a plan to market our book and sticking to it. We say “Marketing is Cruel” because we are not the kind of people to rush out and beg people to read our books. We talk about the baby steps we’re taking to get over that hump and why we’re taking those steps.

We spent the first part of the podcast talking about our experience with the Van Gogh Immersive Experience, from the 3D exhibitions to the moving galleries to the virtual reality walk.

We segued into a discussion into the “tortured artist” stereotype, and we agree that it is a complex and difficult subject to talk about. There was a lot of unwrap here.

If you think you may need help, here’s a webpage to get you started.

Have a listen and let us know what you think. Take care of you. TIA! LYL!

%d bloggers like this: