Monday, September 22, 2014

Moving places....

I am in the process of moving my blog over to my main website. Please be patient as this will disrupt my schedule, but hopefully not for to long. My new home is Thanks for following me and I hope to see you on that site!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What The Giver has That is Lacking From Current Dystopia Novels

There are a lot of mixed reviews about the new movie adaptation of “The Giver.” I actually enjoyed the movie very much since all changes didn’t really change the plot. One of the criticisms I heard is that the movie was turned into the typical teen dystopia novel popular right now. I think they are getting that from the little romance that was added to the script. 

I would have to disagree with that statement. In fact, I liked the movie because it had some key factors that made it different than the dystopia movies out today. 

First, the movie is marked with innocence. Today seems to be saturated with movies depicting character sex lives as well as violence. It was nice to have that lacking. In fact, some sections came off almost dorky. For instance, Jonas shares a kiss with Lilly. A couple boys in the theater giggled at the character reactions of timidness and uncertainty (I actually think that Lilly should have been way too confused). Yet, letting a kiss be an important event in a teenager’s life is refreshing. 

Likewise, the revolution held the same innocence. So many teen novels are littered with loss of life. I remember feeling numb at the end of reading the Hunger Games series. Likewise, I remember thinking in the Divergent series that I was getting tired of meeting a character just to have them die. Death is so much a part of life as it is. It saddens me to think that this has become so prevalent in YA literature. There is still a struggle and there is still a “revolution,” but it is more a power of wills. 

Second, there is an appreciate of life. I loved the sequences where Jonas received memories. It actually reminded me a little of hallmark commercials where images of cultures and joy and family are gathered in a montage. Yet, I loved how the movie meshed that with those images of war and destruction. It really took the full scope of the human life—the good and the bad—and put everything into perspective. Life is not perfect. Life has joy and sorrow. And yet, even with the bad images, it is still better than those in the society who lived in ignorance. 

Third, and finally, there was a lack of selfishness. So many characters—and people—are living for their own agenda. Jonas’ agenda really was centered on what was best. He was concerned for the baby in his family’s care. He was concerned for restoring life to the civilization. He was not working for himself. Again, in a world that is very centered on personal goals, this was refreshing to see. 

Whether the movie is viewed as a success or failure, I think something can be taken away from this adaptation: we need a little more innocence and a little more appreciation, even in literature.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday's Quote: William Saroyan

“I can't hate for long. It isn't worth it.”~ William Saroyan
William Saroyan
Photo taken from his Goodreads Profile
I always find people who carry around drama very curious. It seems like a lot of effort to handle all that emotion every day. On the same note, it is difficult to carry around hate. I know when I am feeling such a strong feeling toward someone or something, it eats away at my day. Eventually, it eats away at my soul. Everything is darker...I am a darker person. When I teach, I tell my students that it takes too much energy to "hate" them.
But, on the flip side, I think the world would do better focusing more on compassion than on hate. Hate typically comes from a place of misunderstanding or a refusal to acknowledge. I think there is too much senseless hate in the world today. Don't worry, I won't get onto the "world peace" speech, but sometimes I want to ask all those who conduct violence with hate at the it worth it? Is the effort put in and the lives lost and the sacrifices all worth it? the old adage says...couldn't we all just get along?
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Friday, September 12, 2014

Journal Entry of Hermes, Servant to Clieto

The Committee fell a year ago and yet I still feel weird about not attending their weekly meetings. Don’t get me wrong. They were the most obnoxious bunch. They stood on principles and standards so high, no one could achieve it…not even them. They caused me such grief. I spent most of my time running around the world trying to deliver messages they deemed important. Most tended to follow along the lines of not following proper protocol. I’d, of course, be the one to get yelled at for my efforts.

But, truth of the matter was, I believed in my job. The Committee may not be perfect, but they were trying to make the world perfect. Who could be mad at that? Who could not support that? I know some who don’t, but they didn’t know those people the way I did. We protected the innocent. We made sure Immortals were treated with respect. 

I still remember the time I went to Gaea to save a young girl from her horrific family. What would have happened to her otherwise? The government didn’t care. To them, she was a freak of nature. Her parents certainly didn’t care. She was an avenue for income, a circus act and slave. But, we saved her. The Committee may have had faults, but they had a lot to offer the world. Without their presence, who will protect the Immortals? Who will stand to defend them when the world comes against them? 

I feel selfish to say this , but I feel lost without the Committee. What is my place in this world now? Sure, I still serve Clieto, but she’s always been less vocal than the Committee. What am I to do now? Part of me believes I could stand up against the world. I can defend the Immortal race. And why couldn’t I? I serve a goddess. Such action grants me certain privileges. Surely I can do it. Maybe that should be my place. 

Take Jocasta for instance. That poor child is going to find herself standing as one against a nation. What baffles me is how much she still loves this place, a government that has abused her and twisted her into something ruthless. But she is still young. I can save her, just like I saved that little girl in Gaea. They are so similar. It may not be Jocasta’s family that is destroying her, but she does behave as if she believes they are her family. Even that is something she should change.

Yes. I can do it. I will stand against the world for her. I will guide her and help save her. If there are no protectors in the world anymore, then I will be the protector of all. This is my destiny. This is my calling. I can do it. I will do it. Let no man or woman or government stop me. I am Hermes, servant of Clieto. I can do this.

Follow Hermes' Struggles in Zeus Defended.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Writer's Brain...Always Thinking

I have been doing research form a story involving a dream world. In my research, I moseyed into the works of Carl Jung. I won’t bore you with the details, although I really thought they were interesting. What I found incredibly interesting was his explanation of writers. Writers are an extension of the childhood fantasy.

I found that interesting because my childhood was filled with elaborate play times. I was never a Barbie person, but I loved My Littlest Pet Shop. I had houses with lights. I had miniature furniture. They had leaders and couples and kids. I actually don’t remember much of the “reality” of my childhood. I think that’s because I spent most of my time in fantasy. I could spend the entire day locked in my room following the stories of my figures. It really shouldn’t have been a surprise when I started writing. 

However, I think to say that writers are just those who extend this ability to fantasize is too simplistic. I often describe the difference as writer’s think different. I saw a picture floating around Facebook last week. It showed the same cracked door in double pictures side by side. On the left, it said a normal reaction: oh, look the door is ajar. How weird. On the right was an elaborate thought process that begins with the open door and ends with some murderous burglar hiding inside. Or, just yesterday morning, I was coming down a hill into a city and saw a fog lifting...although I immediately envisioned an entire town on fire.

I am totally like that. I can turn any situation and manipulate it into a mountain. Besides the paranoid, I also do this in other areas of life. Before a presentation, I might go through countless scenarios of how it could go, what would be the others responses, and how I would react.

But I also interpret ordinary things differently. My mom loves to tell the story of how I used to say “please lock my shoes” instead of “buckle my shoes.” I viewed it different…and I still say locking makes sense. I can still switch words like that. It might not be as blatantly wrong, but my editors are life savers for the subtly different. 

I am a thinker. In fact, the only time my mind is not “moving” is when I’m reading, talking, or sleeping. Any other time, I am thinking. I think about life. I think about the colors before me. I think about stories. I think about motivations and goals of real people—like they are characters. I think and think and think. In fact, I thought of this blog post while changing the sheets on my bed. 

But that is probably a necessity in the writing world. If I wasn’t a thinker, then I couldn’t figure out what to write. Plots wouldn’t develop and characters wouldn’t form. It is the ponderings that nurture a story. 

I always knew I was different. I spent a lot of time trying to fight it. But I think we need to embrace these differences. I could not write without them. So, in short, I am an extension of childhood, quirky, weird, and an over thinker…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday's Quote: John Green

“Nothing ever happens like you imagine it will"~ John Green

John Green
Photo taken from his Goodreads Profile

I love this quote because it is so, so true. My life has not ended up in any way what I imagined it would be when I was a teenager. I bet, when I am another 20 or 30 years down the road, I will look back and say the same thing about my current goals and aspirations.

I think part of the perfection of life is the unpredictability of it. Life sort of happens around us. There are things we can do to prep for it, but, ultimately, no one can predict what happens. This can seem a little depressing, but I think that as long as I aspire toward something—maybe something beyond my reach—I can achieve so many great things I wasn’t expecting. In a way, that makes it not depressing, but exciting. I can’t wait to see the surprises that await. 

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tips to Build Characters

When I am having trouble with a character, there are two things I have picked up over the years to use to help. I think I talked about it before: the Lord of Nightmares was the toughest character for me to write. He’s not human, even though he looks like one. I understood this, but not really. Therefore, when I first tried writing him, he came out too human and wimpy. At the time, I used a question chart I had obtained from another book. It asked about education, age, family history, background, appearance, marital status, etc. All of these were good, but none of them really fleshed out the character. The ones I liked were greatest desire, greatest obstacle to that desire, spiritual beliefs, and greatest fear.

I think that last statement says a lot about a character. I wouldn’t write something as trivial as spiders here unless it has something to do with the plot—like Indiana Jones and snakes, maybe. The Lord of Nightmare’s biggest fear? Falling from the top. That fear drives his actions and decisions throughout the entire book. In fact, it is a loss of that fear that causes him to make the decision he does at the end. In other words, certain events relieved the pressure so he was not ruled by his fear for a moment.

Besides that, I have also learned about something called a “Johari” window. Again, it attempts to dive deeper into what drives a character. It is a 2X3 table. The label for the columns are “Known to Self” and “Not known to self.” The rows are labeled “Known to others” and “Not known to others. Therefore row 1 column 1 will be listed things that are known to other and to self. Row 1 column 2 is known to others but not known to self. Etcetera. This really make  an author dive into the true description of a character and their makeup. I have given an example below of one I created for Pandora in the third Atlantis book. I left the last spot blank because these are “spoilers” for any who want to read the book.

Johari Window: Pandora

Known to Self
Not known to self
Known to others
*Born under unique circumstances: one-of-a-kind
*As ambassador to Atlantis, must take a boy back to Artemis
*Served in Military from age 10-14, change into a wolf form as a weapon
*Raised by Nicias (protector)
*Married young to a King who was assassinated. Now married again to Brasidas, an ex-Zeus military man.
*She can see past the surface of an issue and into the actual cause. This makes her a strong Ambassador.
*Presents herself with a confidence that allows her to interact with powerful people, may intimidate some
Not known to others
*Never thinks she can measure up
*Still feels guilt over killing her sister (wished it didn’t have to happen)
*Hates transforming because it reminds her of war and death

I think it is important for writers to find any source they can to fluff up characters. If the characters are flat, no one will care what they are doing in a plot. To me, a story can rise and fall as a result of its characters. These are just two things I use to help me avoid this outcome.