Philosophy By Christy

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There are many struggles in life, but for me, sometimes it's finding the words to place onto the page. Writing is away to create new worlds, explore, and experience so many different emotions. Only by reading do we learn not only to write but certain stories will change us through out our lives.

*Image above: The Pleiades
*Header Image found from The Matrix of Gallifrey FB Page

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1899: The Year That Changed Everything

J.K. Rowling/WB’s Fantastic Beasts (Eddie Redmayne & Katherine Waterston) and Disney’s Newsies [2017] (Kara Lindsay & Jeremy Jordan)

Spoiler Alert: This blog post will contain spoilers for the films, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016), and Disney’s Newsies (2017).

Since the musical stage version of Disney’s Newsies became available in the cinema (in February, special encore in March, & there will be an encore in August) and now digitally (in the U.S., and July 3 aka my birthday, internationally), I’ve become very passionate about this musical. Also recently when I received the Blu-Ray of Fantastic Beasts, I’ve been pondering more about these two stories together. Mostly because as an English scholar, fan of MuggleCast, and a fangirl/nerd in general, my mind is wired to make connections. The first most notable connection is the same setting, New York City. Another would be, throughout Fantastic Beasts, there are many characters, especially kids who wear newsboy caps, just like the Newsies do. Once you begin to see these two films side by side, there are more connections that you might not even realize. They both have major connections to newspapers, and print writing. Also focus on important issues that expose truths, and empower characters. Even comparing and contrasting the characters brings some additional insight into these two stories that might not be explored as much.

First, I have to point out something that blew my mind when I made the revelation. The year 1899 changed the world. “A little hyperbole never hurt anyone.” While this year was important for the newsboy strike, which actually happened. This same year in London in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, Albus Dumbledore’s life was changed forever, which eventually influenced Newt Scamander’s and Harry Potter’s lives after. At the age of 18, Dumbledore lost his mother, met Grindelwald (who will later become a threat to be defeated), and his sister Ariana accidentally gets killed. This happens in a few months time, around the summer. Another interesting fact, Jack Kelly is 17 that same year, though the actor who plays him, Jeremy Jordan, is older. Also quite like the actor who plays Newt, Eddie Redmayne. Originally the broadway musical began in 2012, and the original film was released in 1992, so that lead me to wonder, is it possible that J. K. Rowling was inspired by Newsies, the newsboy strike, or both? Could she possibly have decided to set Fantastic Beasts in New York City on purpose? Besides giving new broader insight Wizarding World, and giving recognition to the success of her books being popular in the US. As well as the city was the capital of the US before Washington, DC. J.K. Rowling has always put a lot of meaning, and planning to every detail in her stories. So it wouldn’t at all be surprising, if there was a connection here. On another note, the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will get a chance to be on Broadway in NYC real soon. Let’s not get side tracked.

It surprised me to imagine that Dumbledore was just a year older than Jack that same year, and both dealt with hardships, but ultimately pull through and become heroes and influence more than what they could ever imagine. Dumbledore, I believe, influences Newt enough I believe to make this Hufflepuff explore his passion and protect the fantastical creatures he’s fascinated by. No only to help his former student, after a set back, but also possibly in hopes that would bring Newt towards being a hero that Dumbledore couldn’t be. In Newsies, Jack helps bring forth the newsboy strike, and inspires Katherine Plumber to write about it. Jack and Katherine’s relationship mirrors Newt and Tina’s relationship as people who don’t quite fit in, but together they improve and push each other towards being their best. While Newt is a traveler, and even one planning to go out west to release the Thunderbird in his case, Jack is starts off feeling trapped in NYC for being limiting, and his desire to travel, especially out west. Both stories deal with some real issues that influence their period. In 1899, it is the struggle of the poor, orphaned, the use of child labor, and fighting for better wages and working conditions. J.K. Rowling poses the issues of unjust treatment, especially of the other, magical or not, in her stories. It’s noticeable in Fantastic Beasts, where it begins in 1926, when Newt arrives in NYC. She also exposes a truth that influences today with institutional orphanages, places where they are perceived as good, are actually not beneficial for the kids, and many in these institutions aren’t even orphans, but children who’s families can’t afford taking care of them, or persuaded by institutions to give up their child, all for the benefit of these institutions to keep running. It is not for the benefit of the kids and their families, and this can be seen as similar to what The Refuge is for the Newsies, where kids are being taken to this place to get them off the streets but not taken care of. As well as child labor being used in both stories for someone older taking advantage because of greed, or for their own agenda to single out the Other, which in this case is those with magic.

Writing, and Art in general, becomes a way for empowerment in these two stories, which also leads towards friends becoming family. Katherine uses writing as way to let others know about the newsboy strike, and later on, the children’s crusade. Newt writes a textbook towards letting the wizarding community understand, and work towards protecting these magical creatures. Drawing provides Jack a chance to expose what is going on with The Refugee, as well as express his own desires of heading out west, and his love for Katherine. Through music, dancing and singing gives opportunities for these characters to bond, but also to shine in their own way to define who they are, at a time when they don’t really know themselves. Newspapers and print also have their downsides according to who is in charge, and lead towards unjust treatment. This presents how something as good, as print to expose the truth, can be used in a negative way when people have the desire for power. Just like many good stories, the good wins out the evil in these tales. Newspapers, print, writing and art ultimately are used for good at the end to create positive change. In Newsies, it shines the light on the injustice with child labor, wages, and The Refuge, and provides relief to those who are treated unjust. While in Fantastic Beasts, Newt’s experience in NYC pushes him even more towards publishing his textbook to help the magical creatures receive just treatment, but also bring forth, an understanding of the Other, that humanity treats unjustly those that they fear, do not understand, or for some, an opportunity to disempower in their desire for power. The main characters in these stories already start off with a family bond, where it is by blood or similar experiences, but as the stories go on, they become closer towards being more a different kind of family, one that they can create. Love becomes a bond between these two stories as well, with family, but also in romantic relationships by being the greatest power for good.

I could go on for much longer, but then this post would get very long. I do want to leave with one more thing. It is common now to sort characters, that aren’t in J.K. Rowling’s stories, into Hogwarts and Ilvermorny school houses. I find it a fun, and interesting exploration about what people think about characters and their traits and where they would fit in the Wizarding World. It gives us another way to understand our favorite characters, as well as ourselves, which is really why we love stories so much besides being relatable and many other reasons. So I noticed that a fellow fan had sorted Jack Kelly into Gryffindor. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, and it’s an interesting perspective. I think he would be sorted into Ravenclaw. I might be bias since that is the house I was sorted into on Pottermore, but because of that experience, it opened my eyes to understand the Ravenclaw house, as well as the other houses a bit more. It could also be because Jack wears blue most of the time, which is a color for Ravenclaw. I think many would sort Jack into Gryffindor because of being brave and being a leader, but I think that really defines Davey so much more. Jack’s talents and desires lead me to believe he would be in Ravenclaw, and Thunderbird. Jack calls Davey the intelligent one, but the Ravenclaw house isn’t all about intelligence, it’s also about wit, wisdom, and creativity. Plus it’s also great to see heroes be outside of the normal Gryffindor house, which we’ve seen with Newt being Hufflepuff and Merlin being in Slytherin. Katherine Plumber reminds me of Tina Goldstein a lot, especially with her desire towards a successful career. So I can see Katherine being sorted into Thunderbird, just like Tina. I could also see Katherine being a hat stall at Hogwarts between Ravenclaw and Slytherin, but choosing Ravenclaw. Crutchie reminds me of Newt and Jacob in different ways, I think Crutchie would be in Hufflepuff and Pukwudgie, for his loyalty, patience, and heart.

It’s such a joy to enjoy these two stories, make connection, but also to imagine these characters meeting each other. I hope you all have enjoyed reading my discussion, and let me know what you think as well. From what I’ve have seen online, I know that there are many, and hopefully will continue to be, fans who enjoy both stories. So this is for you. I also want to thank the ones who inspire me, give me hope, and brighten my days: J.K. Rowling and Jeremy Jordan. Also my friends and family for continuing to let me fangirl at my hearts content.

Lots of love to you all.

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The Power of Writing and Inspiration

“One thing I know: Words are powerful.” – Christina Farley, THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE, 224 

With each stroke of a pen, or key on the computer, people and new worlds can be woven into stories. I’ve always found stories, as well as writing, magical. Christina Farley’s latest novel, THE PRINCESS AND PAGE, is perfect for all ages, but most of all, a wonderful way to explore the power of words for readers and writers alike. Every time I picked up the book to read, I found myself interested in where the story would go, but also made me drawn to my computer to write. I’m glad that I took my time to read this book because it made me really enjoy the story, and the way it was created. The most amazing part of the story it’s actually inspired by actual castle and its royal inhabitants, including Gabrielle d’Estrees, French royalty who lived during the 1500s.  The main character of Christina Farley’s story, Keira takes on a modern day journey as a Word Weaver, who bring their stories to life when they use a magical pen. I believe that Keira will inspire many girls to create their own stories. I know because she and her author have inspired me.

During the time that I was reading this book, I had recently completed my final retake comprehensive exam, and started on my Camp NaNoWriMo creative project. I went from one intense writing event to another. Both would end up being extremely successful. Now that I’ve passed that exam, I can graduate this month and receive my Masters degree in English Literature. With Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve still have a bit more to go on my writing project, but I reached my goal. I hope to finish the draft and revise it soon. Christina Farley’s book was only one of many things that inspired and motivated me with Camp NaNoWriMo.

Image: Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) from Supergirl  — Meme created by me

Another would be Jeremy Jordan, the multi-talented actor from the same city I live in right now, he inspired and motivated me through his own range of work and online postings. Not just for April Camp NaNoWriMo, but also since the TV show Supergirl aired (on the CBS and now The CW) and most of all this semester. My mantra for my exam was: “If Jeremy Jordan can reach his dreams, then so can I.” It has basically become my mantra for life. Hopefully someday I can meet him, and tell him how much he, and his work, has inspired and motivated me. It can’t be too hard to meet up with him, he has to come back to his hometown eventually, right? It’s my birthday wish, but it’s likely not going to come true this year. Just as Christina Farley was inspired by real life aspects for her story, so was I. One of the best things about creative writing is that you can make almost anything possible. Even make your birthday wish come true early. If I’m Word Weaver, it will eventually happen, but hopefully not exactly how I wrote it. My new novella is only loosely inspired by the real world, a bit of my Catholic faith seeped in, but besides all that, it’s all fictional. I still haven’t done anything with the first novella I wrote for my first Camp NaNoWriMo. I would like to revise both and then see if I can get them published somehow.

Supergirl on The CW – Winn Scott (Jeremy Jordan) & Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoit) from the recent episode, “Alex” #SupergirlCW

On another note, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that I’m drawn to stories about female reporters, since I was a student reporter for high school and college for a while. While Supergirl brings hope, Kara Danvers inspires me more. Especially this season as she has grown as a reporter, and I hope she continues to grow in the seasons ahead. Her passion to tell the world the truth, no matter the consequences is awe inspiring. Also her influence has inspired those around her to want to be heroes as well. That I find amazing. That includes Jeremy Jordan’s character Winn Schott, who has wonderfully grown in the past two seasons to be an important part of Kara’s life. His nerdy, smart, crafty, and charming personality, and as well being an awesome friend makes him a hero in his own right. Kara and Winn are my favorites on the show, so it’s also no wonder I want them also to be together. For now, I’m happy with them as friends.

Katherine Plumber (Kara Lindsay) and Jack Kelly (Jeremy Jordan) in Disney’s Newsies (2017) #NewsiesForever

In the stage version (which is even better than the original) of Newsies, Katherine Plumber is another inspiring reporter. She not only brings a voice to kids fighting for the right wages, she also empowers herself through her writing. She gets inspired to write an article about these newsies, especially about the head of the group and the face of the strike, Jack Kelly. These two get inspired by each other to do what they thought wouldn’t be possible. As someone who has loved music, dancing, and singing, especially musicals, and plus I’ve learned many of these talents in school, it is no wonder I found this stage version of Newsies enthralling. I’m not the only one since the stage version has been nominated and won a few Tony awards. I wish I had gotten a chance to see it live, but I’m so thankful that they filmed the stage version and released it this year in cinemas. Soon the world will know about the best musical I’ve ever seen, because the digital release will be May 23. For now, you can enjoy the original cast recording of the songs on Spotify, and as well as other songs that Jeremy Jordan has performed.

“This is next level.” – Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) on the latest episode of Supergirl. 😉

I could tell you more about what has inspired me lately, but I think this post is getting long. I’m sure I’ll write more on my blog in the future. Hopefully I’ll write more blog posts coming up, and especially in the summer. See you soon! Thanks for reading! May you have many blessings, and if you write, may you have plenty of inspirations to lead you to write. I’m so thankful to have so many inspirations that lead me to write from my favorite authors to my favorite actors, and my friends and family. I’ve truly have been blessed by God. More and more feel that He is leading me towards using not only my singing voice, but also my writing voice towards showing His love for us. So I don’t know what is ahead for me, but I’ve realized that I’ve been given talents that must be shared. I’m thankful for that.

P.S. Several of my favorite authors made me cry today because of their writing. Thank you, J.K. Rowling, Richard Castle, and Christina Farley. Lots of love.

2017: Journey

Creating Journal entry by Christy V.

Creative Journal Entry by Christy V. (aka me)

Journey: a passage or progress from one stage to another. I decided to make this theme, that my best friend Tabitha suggested, as my focus for this year. I’ll explain why in a moment. There are multiple journeys in life, including life itself. The most difficult are the ones where the odds are uncertain. No matter what, we have important people in our lives to give us strength to push through any difficulties. Sometimes the difficulties push us to be better than we once were.

There is fear in the unknown, but for me, my faith in God reassures me that things will work out even if they are not what I expect them to. He is there always by our side, even when it feels like others are not. By focusing on “journey” this year provides a way to view this year differently than others: an opportunity for growth, compassion, and faith, but these are things that can be continued on way beyond this year and onward. It is a reminder to focus on the important aspects of life when the future seems even more uncertain than before. It is a reminder that we’re all a work in progress.

What can we do to make this journey of 2017 worthwhile? Pay attention a bit more of your surroundings. Listen to those around you. Reflect on what you’ve done each day and see what you can improve on for the next day. Grow your passion for learning, especially with reading and writing. Allow yourself to be open to new ideas, while still holding strong to what you believe is right. I grew up being a girl scout, and recently, I’ve been reminded of the Girl Scout Law and Promise. Both are what I want to keep in mind this year.

On my honor I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law. I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout. 

This year we need to seek healing, hope and unity to move forward stronger and better than before. We also have to remind ourselves what truly makes us happy, and what we’re doing that could hold us back from happiness. We can’t let things like procrastination and negativity hold us back. With step by step we can move forward together.

We must have patience as we work out the difficulties because it will ultimately lead to our happiness, but most of all, lean on those who matter the most, especially best friends who encourage and challenge us to become the best version of ourselves. Just as Matthew Kelly said in his book Resisting Happiness, “The power of one friendship can change the course of a life.” The people around us changes us, and we change them. It’s the secret of life. Remember “Life is short. Never waste a day.” Set out this year to do the things you’ve been wanting to do. Don’t let time pass you by. Be stouthearted. Lastly, remember “The strongest stars have hearts of kyber.” If you do not understand what I mean by this quote, I recommend reading the novelization of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. For now, here is one of my interpretations of the quote: Live with your heart open for love, even if it breaks your heart. It’s more powerful and stronger than you think it is.

Goodbye 2016 – Reflections

door closing

No matter what has happened in 2016. Remember that you can start new again in 2017. We start the new year with hope. It is up to us to keep that hope going through out the year. It is also wonderful to be able to let go of the difficulties we had in the past, and yet realize how much we have grown to be better than we were. Reflect on what you have done this year, and be proud of your accomplishments. That is including moments where you’ve struggled, or you feel that you’ve failed in some way. It has made you become a stronger and wiser person than you were before. Each step forward leads you towards something even if we don’t know it yet. There have been sad moments, and happy moments. They have all lead us to who we are now.

Something did not work out this year, let it be something to make you grow. It’s like what the movie, Ice Sculpture Christmas, on the Hallmark channel said, “Things come to us not when we want them, but when we are ready.” Remember those relationships that have impacted your life. Wm. Paul Young said in his book, Cross Roads, “Faith takes risk… and there is always risk in relationships, but the bottom line? The world has no meaning apart from relationships. Some are just messier than others, some are seasonal, others are difficult, and a few are easy, but every one of them is important.” Be grateful for all your relationships because they have helped you, and many have illuminated the way this year. You know for the year ahead that you can trust and lean on them when you need them the most. Remember all the moments that you’ve impacted others. These moments present light to what ever darkness you had this year. What goals have you accomplished that you set out to do? What have you done that you did not expect? Even if you don’t feel like you’ve done much this year. You’ve done more than you might even know.

Even though I have not written much on this blog, I found much joy in filling in one of my favorite journals. I’ve written story stories, poems, personal and spiritual reflections, and favorite quotes. I’ve made drawings and colored into my journal. I’ve done creative journaling before, but I find this year that I’ve journaled more than ever and I still have a part of my journal left for next year. I’ve also written on my computer, but it’s usually to continue a story I’ve written in my journal. If you do not write creatively in a journal, I recommend it. Even if it is just to write a list. You’re able to find that writing down your thoughts, and ideas can push you to do more than you can imagine and push your boundaries. I set out this year to be more open minded. I’m not sure I succeeded, but what matters is that I tried my best. I did find myself more open to exploring my faith in God through books I’ve read this year. I hope to write some things similar in the future for others as well as myself because these books made an impact on me. I would love to be able to do the same. I’ve struggled this year, but I know all the struggles I’ve had will ultimately benefit me in the future. There have been some friends that have made this year special. They have changed me in a good way. I’m thankful to God for them. We all have the power to make the next year better than the year we’re leaving behind. Make it a good one.

Happy New Year everyone! Best wishes on the year ahead.

In Defense Of The Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Script Book

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne (Image from vanity fair.com)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne (Image from vanity fair.com)

Beware: This post will include SPOILERS of the script book near the end. 

I’ve seen and heard many reviews/commentaries ranging from positive, negative, and somewhat in between about the script book, Harry Potter and Cursed Child. My reading experience leans towards the positive, and it was hard to understand why there was so much negative critique of the script book. I’m not saying that the script is perfect. It could have been delayed a bit to tweak the script from previews, so readers could read the official version now being performed. This script we were given was the one they used for previews, so they felt confident about what this script includes. Therefore we should give this script a chance, and I believe it is worth reading. Even though I enjoyed the script, I believe that this story is something that needs to be seen. Hopefully they will record the play with the original cast, and make it available through cinemas and/or television. And also record a dramatic audio book with the original cast.

This script should be read differently as opposed to the seven novels we’re familiar with. First, it must be looked at part of a whole. The script does not include what the actors/actresses put into their characters, the set and costume designs, and the whole immersive experience of the theatre performance. It does help to look at the behind the scenes videos and images the production has provided on their website. This helps imagine how this play would be performed while reading the play. Many fans read the script, I believe, with really high expectations. It is somewhat expected since we have had much time to ponder what would happen after the Deathly Hallows epilogue, and our great love for the book series. The script though somewhat a continuation of the book series should be seen as an extra short story. A short story has a different focus than what a novel would. It is also a limited format. By looking at the themes, and what the story is trying to present, we can fully experience the play as much as possible to how it was intended. We should remember when looking at the script this quote from Poppy Miller, who plays Ginny, “The characters are older now, they’re ours to fill but with this fantastic backstory.” With all of this in mind, I’ll now focus on some of the important aspects from the script.

The story focuses on the psychological weaved into fantasy and a bit of comedy. The past is brought back to the present more than just through time turners. Even though Harry has had time to deal with the trauma of his past, there will be things that will trigger and come to the surface. Albus Potter is greatly affected by his father’s distance more than he realizes at first. As well, Harry doesn’t quite understand why parenting his son Albus is different than his other kids. They both realize at the end, as as do we, that they are more similar than they quite realize. This realization stems from Albus’s friendship with Scorpius. This friendship greatly affects Albus’s experience in Hogwarts, more than just being sorted into Slytherin. First because Albus helps Scorpius deal with bullying from the rumors that he’s the son of Voldemort, and ends up affected by the bullying as well since he’s sorted outside of what is expected. This struggle causes both boys to drift away from the rest of students because the treatment that they are both different from the rest. We also see that Scorpius’s relationship with his father is distant as well because of Draco’s upbringing, but most of all the lost of Astoria Malfoy. So the boys learn to rely on themselves, and made it easier for Delphi’s persuasion to change time. Albus and Scorpius, as well as many of the characters, had to travel through time to deal with the past, grow, and strengthen several relationships: friendship, father-son, and for the couples, Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione.

The second part of the script was stronger than the first because it was where we began to see where the story was going. The story focuses on the importance of friendship and family, and ultimately love, as always. I think that Delphi without love was made to believe that she was the daughter of Voldemort. She wanted to escape from being an orphan. She is the cursed child. She is the one in the design that we see on the cover. There has been some assumption that the child looks like a boy, but I think they purposely made the child look like they could be either gender so we wouldn’t know who the cursed child was. Delphi’s upbringing, and the rumors, were designed to bring Voldemort back. Delphi’s first name was foreshowing to her character. From what I know of mythology, the oracles of Delphi in Greece were not trustworthy and willing to shape prophesies for their own ends. It also seems clever that her name also comes from a constellation, very much like those in the Black/Malfoy family. In the same night sky of July 31st, there are constellations Delphinus, Draco, and Scorpius, almost or exactly like some of the notable characters in the play. Even in the night sky, there is a distance between Draco, and Scorpius, and you can find one above the other. As an Astronomy nerd, and English scholar, these little things excite me, and makes me realize how much astronomy affects the series. Most notably with Dumbledore’s death, but also within the play where Bane directs Harry unsuccessfully on the path that there was something affecting Albus.

The more I think about the script, the more I love it. I believe that J.K. Rowling left the play open to interpretation. So fans can interpret the story how they want. J.K. Rowling let Jack Thorne play in her world, but I think she had a large, even larger than the Harry Potter movies, influence on the story. They both allowed input from the director, John Tiffany, and as they mention at the end of the script (and the behind the scene videos) input from the cast themselves. This story was a group effort towards creation, but we also have a part in creating the story by finding what the play means to us, and most of all, enjoy the magic of the story. What I connected to the most with this story was the friendship between Albus and Scorpius. They reminded me that there are friends, and friendships, you and the world can’t live without. The present period of the story changed not only when these characters made changes, but when they were separated. It proves that friendship makes an impact larger than we could ever realize. Even though they did make a mess of things, their friendship ended up making things better at the end. Those who believe that some characters aren’t in canon, might have forgotten that characters aren’t perfect, they grow, and are affected by their life experiences. The women in the play are the strongest characters, they direct the other characters, and many of them provide strength in difficult times. There is so much that can be discussed about the play, and so much that are positives about the play, you just have to give the story a chance. I recommend re-reading the script. It’s even better the second time around. And I bet it gets better with every re-read, just like the previous books. I agree with what my cousin said after reading the script, “Every Harry Potter book is worth reading.” Always.

Contemporary Dystopian

Dystopian

Dystopian – an imagined place where everything seems extremely unpleasant, or environmentally degraded.  (photo by io9.com)

I’ve read some, but not all dystopian novels. I’ve read Utopia by Thomas Moore. You have to have a bit of an idea of what an Utopian society is to really know what Dystopian is. With Utopia, it explores a fictional island society and looks at its religious, social and political customs. This gives a chance to explore a society that seems perfect, but it’s there to truly critique our own society, where ever it may be in time and space. Dystopian is the opposite, but not completely. We see a society of full of the extremes, but gives enough space to critique our own society as well. It isn’t all that simple. Why are we gravitated to this kind of literature in the first place? Since I’m more familiar with contemporary dystopian, I’ll answer the question with it. The horrible moment of 9/11, I believe, greatly influenced dystopian literature. The new texts became more than a critique of society, but also a way to deal with postmillennial anxieties.

This is why young people, as well as adults, are drawn to these kind of texts. News media, as good intending it may be in certain aspects, has increased our anxieties of the world around us, as well as opened our eyes to more negative aspects of our society. The Hunger Games and the Divergent series are some of the most notable for contemporary. There is also Battle Royale, that is a Japanese novel, which seems to be a precursor to The Hunger Games. There is also the horror dystopian novel, Bird Box, that hits home exactly what our anxieties come from (media/real world), and how we deal with them (confront the labyrinth). We feel unsafe, and we find refuge in these texts because it reminds us that we don’t have it as bad as it could be. Reading these texts gives us distance as well to explore while knowing we’re seemingly safe where we are. It’s somewhat like a travel narrative through our exploration of these fictional societies, but it’s more like a labyrinth or a maze.

The labyrinth in western culture has become to represent confusion within society, and the desire to search for self, meaning, or to feel safe. It also a form of development, this is why it calls out to young people, but also to ourselves, since we continue to struggle growing towards our potential. Ultimately reading these texts becomes a rite of passage. We are able to observe a system and find its flaws to help “beat the game.” We look to this literature to help us deal, but also to overcome more than one opponent, and navigate more than one labyrinth. No matter how you feel about the former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, he tapped into something that has been building within these contemporary novels. Our desire for revolution, but most of all, change social injustice. We need dystopians more than ever now with the current election, and politics. Where candidates are tapping into our anxieties, as well as our hopeful desires for a better world, towards their end goal of winning the election. We need literature to find ourselves, and decide how we will make the best decision(s) to improve our world.

testing

Yet a labyrinth originally was seen as a single route with twists and turns that isn’t meant to be difficult to navigate. There is only one path, one entrance and one exit. The only way one can safely enter is to have a tie to the entrance that will lead you back to the exit. With this in mind, the end goal isn’t the destination, but the journey. Exactly what these novels provide a journey for us to experience. At the same time, we have a maze, that is confusing and paths may lead to dead-ends. This is a puzzle that can be changed to different levels of difficulty and complexity. Mazes are used to see spatial awareness and sometimes intelligence. The Testing series uses both versions of a labyrinth, as well as the maze. As you can see from the first novel cover, mazes are large focus for the series. Without giving too much away, this series gives a different kind of critique of society, presenting the flaws of standardized testing in an extreme dystopian world. This society uses tests to determine who is qualified to lead the country. The series becomes a labyrinth the complex journey, while the characters confront not only labyrinths but also mazes to find out what they can do to survive, but also “beat the game,” what can they do to make their world change to be better.

We desire to read these texts, but also to write them. It’s a labyrinth and a maze at the same time. We want to provide these journeys to others, but also to ourself to find out our potential as well as explore how we can change our society, but most of all make aware of what could lead towards a dystopian society to prevent it from happening. Or are we already in a dystopian world finding our way out of it? It’s all really up to us, the readers and the writers.

 

The Magic of Being The Author

Notebook:Journal

I know it’s been awhile. Somethings just become priority over the rest some times. This week I finally have had some time to relax after a stressful semester of grad school. On Wednesday, I got a chance to do some creative writing with my best friend Tabitha. We pulled out our journals to write. It’s been raining and for me, it feels like the perfect weather to be more creative. Obviously you can’t wait for the perfect weather, or inspiration to strike, but it’s good to take advantage of moments that might be fruitful. It helps to get ideas flowing when you’ve got some prompts to springboard from. I have two books from The Pocket Muse series that are filled with prompts, images, and tips to help get you started. We picked out prompts for each other, and set the timer, and sprint to create a few flash fiction. It was a nice way to push ourselves to write, as well as explore different ideas that we might have not explored previously. Yesterday was the first National Notebook Day, it made me reflect on my experience with journaling the day before. They say that writing by hand can be better than on the computer. I’m not picky. I enjoy writing either way. It was nice to write after awhile with pen and paper. The journal and pen I used is above. It’s been a good reminder that sometimes it helps to get away from the technology for awhile, and write more organically. It’s a bit different when you have to revise though. It does seem to work better to revise and edit on the computer. Even then, it helps to print out your work, read it out loud, and take notes on paper to get a better version of your work.

422HenryPen

Henry on ABC’s Once Upon A Time

Even though the experience with writing, may not be as magical as Henry’s on Once Upon A Time. His story of being an author proves how much writing can make a difference. Not only for those who read our work, but also for ourselves. We can create worlds, characters, and situations that become like magic. We can imagine more of what seems to be impossible, and make what we desire possible. We can explore what needs to change, and what we can do to make that change. We can learn about ourselves, and others. Our writing is powerful, and we have to learn when to weld it. At the same time, we must let the characters lead us to transcribe their stories. Writing isn’t easy. It isn’t something we can do in our sleep. We have to work hard, but also motivate ourselves to write and revise. Even though life is crazy, we should follow what Natalie Goldberg says, “There is no excuse. If you want to write, write. This is your life, you are responsible for it. You will not live forever. Don’t wait. Make time now.” I want to make time, because I want to be a writer.

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Peggy Carter and Daniel Sousa (Marvel’s Agent Carter)

As a writer, you have to remember the reader. What will be the proper ending for a story? Did you show your characters grow towards what they hoped and desired? It’s hard to be a writer when you, yourself, are also a reader. You may want all your characters to have the perfect Hollywood ending, but sometimes, that might not happen. When characters get a good ending, you treasure it because there is such hardships in life already. At the same time, some endings need to happen because that is how life is. Things can not go on forever.

CASTLE - "Crossfire" - With their best lead in hand, Castle and Beckett are ready to take on LokSat. But an unforeseen twist puts their case - and their lives - in jeopardy, on the season finale of "Castle," MONDAY, MAY 16 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT) on the ABC Television Network. "Crossfire" (ABC/Byron Cohen) NATHAN FILLION, STANA KATIC

CASTLE (ABC) – Richard Castle and Kate Beckett-Castle

When it’s a good story, it never truly ends. We continue to imagine what will happen to the characters. No matter if we’re the writer, or the reader, we still can hold the power of being the author. We just have to accept it, and use it every day of our lives. Sometimes we have to fight to get our happy endings, and when we do, it’s worth while. Always.

castle-series-finale-time-jump-3-kids

2016: Be More Open-Minded

Clara Oswald (Doctor Who, BBC America, Series 9)

Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald (Doctor Who, BBC America, Series 9)

Open-minded (adjective): having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments. 

“I try never to understand. It’s called an open mind.” – The Doctor

As an English scholar, I feel studying literature has given me a chance to explore, and to be more receptive. Yet I’m always conflicted. Even though I love being a Catholic, I’ve grown to realize that there are issues in life aren’t easy to pick one side or another one. I want to follow God, and have compassion for everyone, no matter what they believe in or stand for. I feel like some times society pushes us in ways that we must decide to be on one side, and not the designated other side. Why do we have to pick? I think it’s more important to focus on what we share, than what divides us, yet both need to be discussed so that everyone gets their voice heard and is valued.

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara Oswald [Doctor Who, BBC America]

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara Oswald [Doctor Who, BBC America]

When I started grad school, I became more interested in Feminism, especially because of Emma Watson (who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies). For a long while before, I felt unsure about what Feminism was about and supporting it. Through Emma’s work with UN Women & HeForShe (check out the new and improved website), she has made me realize that Feminism is ultimately about equality and that both genders need to work together to accomplish this.

Emma Watson

Emma Watson

Equality doesn’t mean that we are all the same, but that we all have equal rights and opportunities. Everyone should have the opportunity to study what they are interested in, work towards having careers in which ever field they want to pursue, and should be able to be paid well. Another organization, GirlsRising, promotes education for girls all around the world, and spreads awareness that many girls sadly don’t have the opportunity to go to school.

GIRL MEETS WORLD - "Girl Meets STEM"

Rowan Blanchard as Riley Matthews and Corey Fogelmanis as Farkle Minkus (GIRL MEETS WORLD – “Girl Meets STEM”)

On the latest episode of Girl Meets World, Girl Meets STEM, the main character Riley realizes that science shouldn’t be something that the boys study and the girls just assist. She stands up for the girls to show that we should question the world around us, and not let things just go by. Riley loves science and wants to grow to be better at it. Her long time friend, Farkle, ends up realizing he isn’t giving Riley the opportunity to grow, and motivate her to explore her interests, especially in science. When they work together in science class, they succeed. Even though this episode is about promoting STEM subjects to girls, as well as Feminism, it isn’t the most important aspect. Riley’s mom, Topanga, brings it up when talking to Riley and her female classmates, “Don’t talk yourself out of pursuing something because your afraid of how it’s gonna make you look. What you need to know is don’t let anyone get in the way of pursuing your growth and curiosity no matter what you wanna do.” We shouldn’t let fear get in the way of our exploration, no matter what we do, and not matter what our age.

GIRL MEETS WORLD - "Girl Meets STEM"

GIRL MEETS WORLD – “Girl Meets STEM”

So what does this have to do with being a writer? We have to be open-minded to new ideas and experiences. It’s tough in our world, but we have to do it. Otherwise, we don’t realize what’s really happening around us. We have an important job to do. Share our voices, thoughts, and stories to make others critically think and motivate each other towards striving our full potential. How can we do this? First by reading, watching, listening outside your comfort zone. Second, exploring what you’re interested in, even if you don’t feel confident in your abilities. Third, decide on your immediate and long-term goals for yourself. Fourth, writing what ever you’re drawn to, but also looking towards inclusion of unfamiliar along with the familiar. I was brought to bring up this because I feel it’s really important at this time for both genders to realize what’s going on around them, and working towards doing our part to improving the world in any way that we can, while still striving towards what we hope to accomplish with our lives.

If you’re looking for inspiration, I would recommend exploring the shows and organizations I’ve already mentioned, but also: the completed web series Classic Alice (if you haven’t already) and the book club created by Emma Watson, Our Shared Self. As well as the new Sherlock special, The Abominable Bride (no spoilers, but it’s worth re-watching multiple times to get all the details of this incredible story). The web series explores Alice’s journey in living life according to classic literature, but grows to realize how important making her own decisions. This recommendation is two fold, it first will inspire you to push towards reading books outside of your comfort zone, and then hopefully inspire you to reach for your own dreams. Second, the series is a great way to see how characters and a story plays out in our ever growing modern world. The show goes from telling the story on film, to giving their characters their own twitter accounts and podcasts, etc to create an interactive experience that makes the viewer not only learn more about the characters but also critically think about the story.

The feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf, was recently created, and Emma hopes it will be a way to have an open discussion about though-provoking and empowering literature. The first book is ‘My Life on the Road’ by Gloria Steinem. This turns to the last point of this post, I don’t want to get stuck in my ways that I’m not open to new ideas. Even though Feminism brings forth issues that what the Catholic Church says is contrary to their teaching of what our values should be, I don’t want to close off hearing what someone else has to say. I’ve been taught that we should listen to all sides. I’ve also been taught to have mercy and compassion. I think they all are needed to have a better future. I’m already receptive, but I hope to be more receptive to new books from this book club, as well as the books I study in the semester ahead and in the future. I want read & explore more about science because like Riley, I love science, and sadly don’t explore it as much as I used to. I want to continue exploring and creating new adventures, on and off the page, and not be afraid to take chances. I also hope the same for you. May this year be filled with inspiration and opportunities.

Kate Hackett as Alice Rackham and Tony Noto as Andrew Prichard (Classic Alice)

Kate Hackett as Alice Rackham and Tony Noto as Andrew Prichard (Classic Alice)

Christmas Magic

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (J.K. Rowling, WB)

Many of the great Christmas stories come down to one thing. They make us believe anything is possible in Christmas. We have hope that some thing wonderful will come. No matter what you believe, we all have hopes and dreams for something this holiday season. It isn’t the typical Christmas list. It’s that deep down one thing you truly want. Some what like when Harry Potter looks into the Mirror of Erised. He sees his family. This season isn’t only about getting something special, but also sharing of oneself with others. What ever it may be, your talent, an unique gift and/or just spending time with people you care about. Make this Christmas a little special for someone or several people. If it’s tough to do so, take some time to think about your favorite moment of the holidays past, and just maybe something might inspire you. If not, maybe think about what might make someone smile.

This might bring you towards writing your own Christmas story. Or maybe your own, might inspire someone else. Let’s enjoy the holiday season by making stories on and off the page. We just have to prioritize our time to make sure we have fun, while still finishing everything we need to complete. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, a Merry Christmas, and a wonderful new year. Don’t forget to keep writing. We can’t get any where, if we don’t try. All you need to do is show your passion. It will all work out in the end. One more thing, tell those who you care about that they mean the world to you. There are some people that come into your life, and they change it for the better. So when you get a second chance, never take that for granted. Always.

Tips on Drawing on Inspiration to Write



Hello! You’ve arrived at the next stop of the Brazen Blog Tour. I’m excited to celebrate the release of the final book in the GILDED series written by Christina Farley. For those who are interested in learning more about writing inspiration, or just curious to see how the GILDED series was inspired, you will enjoy reading this interview with my friend Christina Farley. I really appreciate the opportunity for my blog to be part of the this amazing book release celebration. I can’t wait to delve into Jae’s story once again, and see what Christina writes next. If you have arrived to this blog post and have no idea what the GILDED series is about, I recommend reading this wonderful fantasy series with a contemporary look at Korean mythology. If you’re a fan of Rick Riordan’s YA novels, you’ll find a familiar yet unique story with Christina’s series that will make you curious to learn more about Korean culture and myths. Also a strong female lead that inspires readers of all ages that they can do the impossible. After the interview, you will find all the information you need to enter into the special giveaway.


To learn more about this series, visit the Gilded Series websiteWatch GILDED’s book trailer here!

Be sure to pick up the letter for this stop at the end of this post to earn extra points in the Kindle Fire or $50 Amazon gift card giveaway! Collect all the letters during the blog tour to spell out the secret message to earn more points.


About the Book:

Find it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads | Indie

Tips on Drawing on Inspiration to Write



Interview:


1.     Where do you draw inspiration for your writing? How do you find ideas for your stories?

   


Photo taken at Mont Saint Michel

Every story that I’ve written so far stems from my travels. I love to travel and I find so much inspiration in it. Whenever I go on a trip I make sure I bring with me a journal. I make every attempt I can to make notes of the architecture, the dress of the people, the way they interact with each other, their tone of voice. I make sure I visit as many museums of history and culture as I can so I can learn about that area’s past and discover what made them to be who they are today.
Here’s a video I made about tackling writer’s block:


2.    What drew you to create the GILDED series? What surprised you the most when you wrote the series? What is your favorite scene from each of the books?


It was the Korean myths and the Korean culture that really sparked my interest in writing the Gilded series. When I came across the myth of Haemosu and Princess Yuhwa, I was completely riveted about the what if’s of that myth and what happened next. I originally hadn’t expected it to be a series, just a standalone but as I started revising GILDED, I realized there was SO MUCH MORE to this series. So I kept writing!
Here’s a video clip where I talk about the inspiration of GILDED.
I’m a sucker for writing fight scenes. So my favorite scene in the series is the last two chapters of BRAZEN. I was completely inspired when writing it. I remember not being able to type fast enough to tell the story that was unraveling in my mind.


3.    How did the process go to publish your series?


It wasn’t an easy journey, that’s for sure! I started out writing to fulfill one check mark on my bucket list. But once I started writing, I was hooked! So I started off writing for magazines, writing short stories and articles.
Then I took a class with Jill Santopolo and learned how to write a young adult novel. I wrote a lot of books! But when I started writing GILDED, I knew deep down inside that this was the one and I told myself I’d do anything and everything to get it published.
So I revised heavily and then sought out an agent. I got three agent’s who offered representation and choose Jeff Ourvan. We went out on sub a few months later (after revisions) and sold five months later to Skyscape/Amazon Children’s.
This video pretty much sums it up!



4.    What is the most memorable reader/fan interaction?

I’ve had so many memorable moments. But going on an author tour to Korea was incredibly impactful. Not only did I get to return to the roots of Jae Hwa’s story, but it was so neat talking to students. One high school boy at Chadwick International came up to me and said, “I’m Korean-American, a black belt in tae kwon do, and I’m from California. Jae Hwa’s story is so much like mine. Thank you for writing this book.”
I was like WOW!!!
And then I got to meet a 7th grader from Seoul Foreign School (the school that’s in the books) and her name is Jae Hwa Lee!!! How crazy is that?
Such an amazing experience. You can watch my video here that reflects on the trip.





About the Author:


CHRISTINA FARLEY is the author of the Gilded series, a YA contemporary fantasy series set in Korea. GILDED was nominated for Korea’s 2014 Morning Calm, Ohio’s 2015 Buckeye award, and the Tome’s It List. As a child, she loved to explore, which later inspired her to jump on a plane and travel the world. Christina’s adventures sparked her to write stories, infusing the real world with fantasy. Currently she writes from home in Clermont, FL with her husband and two sons—that is until the travel itch whisks her off to a new unknown.

Find
Christina Here:


The Giveaway:


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To celebrate the release of BRAZEN, Christina is giving away a Kindle Fire (US only) and a $50 Amazon gift card (international). The letter for this stop is SCollect all the letters from the blog tour to earn more points!