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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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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.

Exclusive Interview With Classic Alice

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465621.kate28webI’m presenting an exclusive interview with the creator & lead star of Classic Alice today. I’ll be going back to my normal blog posts after this one but there’s a good chance that I might write a review and/or do an interview soon for the book, SILVERN, written by my friend Christina Farley. Just to let you all know.

FYI: NANOWRIMO is coming!

I want to thank Kate Hackett for her response to my interview questions. As you might tell, I tried to lean the questions towards writing for many reasons. I hope you enjoy the interview & check out the web series Classic Alice, if you haven’t already.

1. Where did the idea of this web series come from?

The concept came about because I was asked to do some hosting & I have no real love of hosting. So I asked the people who had approached me if they would mind a scripted narrative told in a format that bridged the gap from hosted YouTube show to programming by doing a narrative vlog.

2. Did the story idea change over time than originally planned?

Absolutely! Originally I wrote a ‘mockumentary’ style thing with loads of camera movements and OUTSIDE-ness. Then I had to scale it back.

4. How do you plan out all the transmedia writing to work with the videos?

Our Comikaze panel actually touches on this, but as a teaser: the bigger items I definitely planned out (the Ocelot Call articles about Keaton/Cara/Andrew, for example) but some of the more timely tweets and what not were done off the cuff. I do a big timeline (color coded!) and make sure that one of the threads is the transmedia element.

We plan a lot of it by sitting down and banging out the tweets/posts/etc. that follows the timeline I created at the very beginning.

5. How much input do the cast, crew, and fans input into the story line?

More now than they did before. Josh (director) helps me out if I get stuck writing, but he’s generally pretty go-with-the-flow about what books we do. Tony and Elise love contributing — because they helped craft these characters. Tony really took charge with the Pens vs Lens podcast, which is awesome and earned him a producer credit for it. They’ll both point out if something seems off or out of character or if it needs more depth. Generally, we try to be a collaborative set!

6. What do you suggest to someone who wants to write web series?

Do it! Do not wait. But also know that if you want to use it as an industry calling card, you HAVE to pay for sets, costumes, sound, lights, etc.

7. How do you choose which classic text to use? How does that factor into the overarching story you’re planning to do?

It’s pretty fluid — I just kind of pick a book that I think might fit and it usually does! Or, if it doesn’t, I go find a different book. Each book does add something to the larger story — Alice’s story.

11. How did the podcast(s) come to creation?

I’ve always wanted to do a Cara-podcast with music, so when Dana (transmedia producer) turned to me and suggested it, I said yes immediately. Then Tony asked if we could do a podcast about books and the movies that are created based on those books and I said “if you plan everything”, so we recorded with no outline and I nearly died because NO OUTLINE.

10. How long is this series planned so far?

We shot 24 episodes + confessionals over six days last July. I’d love to keep going, but that really hinges on a) how popular we are and b) how much money we can raise. We plan to do an indiegogo campaign in Jan./Feb. so keep an eye out for that and know that we are eternally grateful for your support!

12. What do you plan to continue to evolve the relationships as the series continues?

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Spoilers!!! But we definitely have some AMAZING stuff plotted out for Book 8+ and would love to continue sharing this story.

13. Are you willing to share any sneak peeks to future episodes or plot directions?

Yes. Ready? /GHOSTS/. #KateTrollsAgain

I hope you all have an amazing Halloween!

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Alice Rackham (Kate Hackett) & Andrew Prichard (Tony Noto) from Classic Alice

The Memorable Character

George and Meredith

George O’Malley and Meredith Grey (from tv show, Grey’s Anatomy)

In amazing stories, there’s always a character that stands out from the rest. The one that stands by and does everything possible to be the best they can be, therefore making the world just a little bit better than it once was. This character might be not significant at first. Over time, becomes heroic in their own way. They make an impression on the other characters. So much so when they are gone, they are never quite forgotten. The audience knows more about them than just the basic facts. They become relatable. Their words and actions can bring many different emotions. This character is always there when needed, and if they aren’t it’s for a reason. They are true, honorable, but not immune to weakness. Their strength comes from how much they care.

When we strive to create a memorable character, it makes the story come alive. The essence of the human condition. The one you root for to succeed. The one who you want there to be a happy ending, because they deserve it. Some times these characters don’t get their happy ever afters, and it adds a bit of realism back. People can’t stay forever, and neither can characters. There always has to be an ending somewhere because that’s life. It may be fiction, but these stories change us and make us realize that we have a chance to do more than we can ever imagine. We can get stuck in a rut, with emotions, and don’t know when your life will begin (again). Then you see or read a story, someone in your life does something special, or you’re reminded about your faith in something bigger than yourself. That’s when we make a change.

We try to make our lives worth living, not only for us but for others. Then something causes us to forget and we get distracted by the every day normalness that flows through our journeys. We have to continue to work for adventures and the ones who matter. It’s important to write a memorable character to impact the reader, but we have to remember we have the chance to be like these incredible characters every day of our lives. We just have to make the choice. We don’t have to be the one to save the day. You’ll find where you’re needed, and your place in the world. You’ve have the opportunity to help write your own story, and it’s more than the words on the page. We have to live life, explore different stories, and be open to the characters in your life. You never know, those experiences might inspire your writing. How can we know how to write the memorable character, if we never know them?

mer-and-george

 

Just A Few Updates

planningI received an opportunity, and I’ve been worried about mentioning too much about it, in case it doesn’t turn out. At the same time, I really want to talk about it because I know it will help not only motivate me, but maybe I can get some suggestions. Without saying too much, I have a chance to write an essay that might end up being published in an actual book. It’s exciting, but since I’ve never written anything academic for publishing before, it’s new to me. I want to take up this opportunity, but I’m not really sure exactly how. First, I do have an outline (as you can see a bit of it on the photograph above) which helps me have an idea of what I’ll do. The big issue is that I need to read several books, so that way I can complete the essay. There are some aspects of the essay that I’ve already have, and all I need to do is revise it, and/or write it out. So I figure if I do those parts first, it would make me feel like I’ve already got part of the draft done. The tricky part is that I’m busy with graduate school. So I have to make sure that I get everything done for my classes, which is my first priority, and then work on this project. So far, I know that I need to schedule time to make sure I get stuff done that way I don’t rush on this project (even though it’s due some time in June). There is a bit of research that I still need to find that will add to the essay. I realize that mostly what I really need to do is read, and write till the draft is complete. Then there will be editing, and revising, but that’s later.  Is there any other suggestions? I would really appreciate it.

Besides this, there hasn’t been much excitement. I haven’t written much creatively, besides a very short unpublished fanfic. I think it would be nice to get back into writing a bit more poetry. That way I can still get my creative juices flowing, in the meantime. Most of the writing so far, this year for me is academically, which makes sense right? I’m a bit stressed out with my classes, but trying my best to take them one step at a time. Plus I remind myself that this is where I’m suppose to be. There has been some reading for class that I’ve found interesting, and made me realize some aspects of my life that I hadn’t thought of before, which defines the life of an English major at least in my perspective. Relating to this month, series 3 of Sherlock ended (but luckily I have fanfiction and the cool Sherlock: The Network app [which is worth it’s price] to keep me at bay till the new series comes out some time in likely 2016), a few shows that I like have come back, so those are nice breaks for me in between the stresses of classes. Valentine’s Day was actually really enjoyable this year, even though I was single. This will make me sound like a dork, but I had a good time sharing Valentine’s Day images online, sending messages to friends of mine, listening to some poetry through The Love Book App, and hanging out with my best friend for a little while, in between all that was homework (which wasn’t as fun). I tried to remind myself, as well as others, that the day was about love, all kinds of love. It made me feel so much better to just enjoy the day. Plus I’m okay with not being in a relationship right now, it’s much easier and less drama. Sure it would be nice to have someone, especially when I get stressed out about classes, but I’ve got my friends and family so far they have been there for me always that means more to me than anything.

As many students might be already, I’m really looking forward to Spring Break (March 7-16). It sounds like my professors will actually give us a true break. So that should help, relating to the project that I’m working on, plus give me some time off from my classes. Nothing really exciting planned, but that’s all right. Some times it’s best to just relax, and enjoy what you have.

Additionally, I hope you can support my friends Caitlin and Liz on their great unique Kickstarter projects. Caitlin’s will be finishing in less than a day, so make sure you check it out as soon as you can. If you can’t donate, please share about it. You can find Caitlin’s Kickstarter here. My friend Liz’s Kickstarter (which you can find here) still has 23 days left to go, but I recommend sharing about it as much as you can, so she can get to her goal. They appreciate any support you can provide. I also would recommend checking out this awesome book trailer for the book, GILDED (written by Christina Farley). The book will be officially released March 1st, and I’m really excited for my friend Christina as well as her book.

Don’t forget that you’re loved always by God. Keep writing, and reading, and enjoying life.

Letting Go Is More Than SciFi

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AN: This post is different from the other things I post on this blog, but I felt like sharing it here. Today I was drawn to write what is written below, and the show Doctor Who just helped. If there was anyone in the Doctor Who universe the most like me, it would be Clara Oswald. Some times really good books, shows, and music can bring something to you that would have taken a bit longer for you to realize. God loves to guide me to these things, because He knows it will help, not only in my writing but also in my life as well.

Clara Oswald let go of something
That was valuable to her
She knew it was important
Life is all about letting go
Of things that aren’t meant to be
That are only for a season
Nothing truly stays the same
This is some thing we have to learn
I made a decision to let some thing go
God reassured me that it would help
With the future He has layed out for me
For letting go would open my heart
To remind me of all that I have
And what I still need to do
To make the world a better place
There’s a bright future ahead
He wants me to be open for everything
That will help me get to where I need to be

Some stories are hidden in the past…

Local Greek Festival - 2012Photo by Christy

A local Greek Festival – 2012
Photo by Christy

I’ve always been curious about the world around me, but also my family history. My mother was born in Mexico, and became an American. Her family roots come from Italy and France, from what we know. Even though my father was born here, his grandparents came from Mexico, Spain and Greece. By having a Greek last name, there was something that always made me curious about my Greek heritage. I’ve wanted to know about the history, the culture, and my great-grandfather as well as my ancestors. It wasn’t only Greek, but it was a stronger influence than my other family roots, possibly because of my Greek last name.

Last year I learned that March is Greek-American Heritage Month. If you walk around in the stores this month, you won’t see much about it. There is more focus of Irish-American Heritage Month. The main reason is the popular Irish national holiday that celebrates Ireland’s patron, St. Patrick (March 17th). Though both the Greeks and the Irish share this month, thanks to Former President George H.W. Bush and Congress in 1991. It gives honor to both cultures for their contributions and achievements to the US. They chose to have Greek-American Heritage Month in March as well because of Greek Independence Day is March 25th.

I knew a bit about my Greek heritage through local annual Greek festivals in Texas. It’s a wonderful experience to go with family and enjoy the great food and music offered. They even have a little store where you can buy products from or about Greece. Though I love going with my family every year, it only has given me a glimpse of the culture that I really wanted to learn more about. When I was younger, I read myths from different cultures, but my focus was on the Greek. In my studies, I’ve read the great Greek epics like the Iliad and the Odyssey. Later, I read on my own the Percy Jackson series, that are based on the Greek myths. I knew that there were stories out there that focused more on the country than the myths, and those who immigrated to the US, but… where were they?

The Greek Americans

That began my search to see what I could find in literature, music, and in history. The first thing I found was two book lists, one from 2009-2011 and another from 2012. It gave me a starting point. I continued my search online and found the Greek American Foundation. I also found books in the public library, such as Corelli’s Mandolin and a history book on Greek-Americans. My search even went to finding songs on Spotify. I learned that my great-grandfather arrived in the US at Ellis Island, and even found the name of my great-great grandmother in the records from Ellis Island. We didn’t know if he had arrived at the port on Ellis Island, or another one, and when I found a book on searching through the Ellis Island Records online. I realized that I didn’t have to travel far to find out. Learning that he came to that port, made a difference because by searching the history of Ellis Island I could learn more about what my great-grandfather experience as an immigrant to the US. It was wonderful to do my own research just to learn and experience my heritage. It’s even made me want to pursue studying Greek-American literature in grad school.

Now it’s another March, now I’m wondering what can I learn and read relating to my Greek-American heritage. Though I’ve found some interesting fictional books (The Island by Victoria Hislop, Lipsi’s Daughter by Patty Apotolides, Falling in Love with Sophia by Robert Krantz, and The Green Shore by Natalie Bakopoulos). I’m sure there is more that I don’t even know about, that includes relating to history. It’s just a bit harder to find, unless you’ve studied it. I’ll keep searching this month, and explore what I find. 

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

I’ve thought about traveling to Europe, especially Greece. To learn more, but also to give me another setting to write about in my stories. Though I can’t afford traveling right now, maybe doing a some research could help me start writing stories about Greek-Americans, and Greece. I’ve written a poem about my desire to learn and experience Greece. One of my former professors even suggested to me that I could write a story similar to my great-grandparents, and he was also the one that told me that if I truly wanted to go to Greece, what was stopping me from doing so. I kept telling him that it was the cost, and he insisted that wasn’t a good enough reason. He said I could save up enough money to travel to Greece. As much as I try to save up money, I don’t think I’ll be traveling to Greece any time soon. Though I realized last year that there were other ways to experience Greece, without spending a lot of money. I had it all near by… the festivals, books,music and food. It not a lot, but for now it’s enough. Plus who knows what stories I might write with Greece as a focus.

Is there something about your family past that makes you curious to learn more about? If this applies to you, I recommend doing your own research and learning everything you can. You may never know what you might find, and what stories or poems might appear.

Reflecting back, what made an impact?

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming  Image by ABC's Castle

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Image by ABC’s Castle

A thought occurred to me as I was watching the latest episode of Castle. Without spoiling the episode, I’ll just hint to where the thought came from. Closer to the end of the episode, Richard Castle was reminded about the book that caused him to become an author. He said that when he read Casino Royale he was inspired to write his own spy novel. Which he ended up writing a spy series, and later a detective series. It was a really sweet moment in the episode, but it caused me to think about what book caused me to become a writer.

I couldn’t really narrow down to a certain book. It really surprised me. Though I’ve always enjoyed reading, though it was a bit difficult for me to read for school (to remember details for exams). It all started with my parents. When I was little they read to me stories in English, and in Spanish. Then when I started to read on my own, I started to drift towards series. Though I’ve read books that weren’t part of a series, none that I could think of really persuaded me to write. So the first series that came to mind that made me want to be a writer was Harry Potter.

jk_rowling

J.K. Rowling wove an amazing story through seven books that have made impact in so many lives. For me it wasn’t just the story, but also the author’s own personal story that persuaded me as well. Even at the most difficult part of her life, she wrote the first book. Even after she finished it, it was turned down by many publishers (which I’m sure they regret it now). That didn’t stop her. Some how her character’s story appeared on the shelves. She couldn’t even imagine how that story would make an impact.

Then there are certain authors that I started with one of their books and continued to read more of their books, such as Jane Austen and Nicholas Sparks. It wasn’t very common for women during Jane Austen’s time period to write. Though she still wrote her stories, and kept writing even on her death bed. Nicholas Sparks is very well know for his novels, especially the ones that turn into movies. He started writing after he got a sports injury and didn’t have anything to do. So he decided to write a novel to see if he could do it.

It doesn’t matter to me if I’m “famous.” That’s not how I perceive success. It’s all about the story, and what the readers receive from it. The reward should be seeing your work finally on the shelve for others to read, and receiving feedback and reviews on it.

Jo March and Professor Bhaer in Little Women

Jo March and Professor Bhaer in Little Women

Reading a great story can really inspire you to want to become a writer. It can also be a character that happens to be a writer, or a reporter. So that reminded me of the book, Little Women. My favorite character was Jo. She was a writer, who wanted to write a novel. It was one of my favorite stories when I was younger. The characters don’t really have to come from novels either. Lois Lane inspired me to become a reporter. Though I’m not a reporter now, the newspaper experiences that I had in high school and a bit in college have taught me skills to write as well.

Lois Lane and Clark Kent in the TV show, Smallville

Lois Lane and Clark Kent in the TV show, Smallville

It can also be the people around you that inspire you to become a writer. I had a friend of mine that inspired me to write in the school newspaper and literary magazine in high school. That was a stepping stone to what I would study in college to have a degree in Liberal Arts (English, and minor in Journalism). If it weren’t for a few friends in college that made me realize that I should study English. That gave me the opportunity to be taught by some amazing professors about literature, poetry, creative writing, and so much more. If I hadn’t made that decision to switch my major after my first semester, I might not be the person I am today. I might have graduated with a Business degree.

So why does this really matter, you may ask. Well, just as someone desires to know their family past to learn more of who they are. I believe each writer should learn, and/or remind themselves, what cause them to love writing. Which causes you reflect where you came from, how you’ve improved, and what you need to do to improve. That way when you have difficulties in writing, or in publishing, you can remind yourself why you love your craft. For it’s the craft, and the experience of creating something, that really matters more than any bump in the road.

The Fine Line Between Fiction and Fact

article image I think it’s always difficult in writing to make the story accurate.

According to this article from BBC News, our nation [the USA] has a top science organization, the Washington Academy of Sciences (WAS), which hands out seals of approval to books that present science correctly. This seems like it would benefit writers, just as much for readers. Though, what if we learn that what we thought was wrong was really right? It’s happened before in history. We did use to believe that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Which items does science say is correct now that we might learn later was wrong?

So how much accuracy should our fictional stories be accounted for?  Writers try to make their stories, though they are fictional, rooted in reality as much as possible.This is why research is an important factor for those who don’t have complete knowledge about a certain subject that will influence the story. Though if we use Science Fiction as an example, some things that are covered in those stories that were more fiction than fact caused an exploration of science advancement, such as ten inventions inspired by Science Fiction. It seems like there should be enough to make the idea credible, or make everything consistent to the story for the idea to seem real. Remember sometimes the truth can be stranger than fiction. Though we have to show which ever idea in a way that will advance the plot, so the readers can immerse themselves into the story. If we know our strengths and weaknesses are, we can find away to improve our stories. So if we’re not good with accuracy, then maybe research might help, and at the end of it all making sure the story is a good one. If the story is good, then the readers might not mind a few inaccuracies.

This topic of accuracy usually comes up when I watch TV shows related to crime, for example Bones. The show is centered on science, but… is it all correct? The crime shows usually have consultants to make sure that what ever they cover is accurate. I know the show has a well-known consultant, but someone who studied Criminal Justice mentioned to me once that shows like Bones were filled with inaccuracies. It kind of surprised me for some reason. I had believed what I was watching had accurate science, even though the story was fictional. I know we can’t all be perfect, but we hope for something close to it. I usually try to watch these shows for the story, and hope that it’s accurate. That’s how I treat the stories I read as well. Do we as an audience and as readers choose to focus on the story, and ignore the inaccurancies? It all determines what you know. Like with the character Sherlock, if you know the subject, you will observe more inaccuracies than others. It’s just like those who have read a book that has been adapted to film who notice what others might not. It causes some to shift away from the story because they are focused on something that is disconcerting.

Though if we focus on making every thing plausible, could we be losing the appeal of fiction? I’m sure there are plenty of people who read fiction to experience a world unlike their own. So as long as the story is interesting, that’s where our focus is. Plus if we write only what we know, we place ourselves into a little box (and not one that is bigger on the inside…). We could be closing off the possiblities for our stories (as well as possible inspiration for future science advancement!). When you write a story, focus on what you do best, and then get help on the rest. Remember that fine line between Fiction and Fact is imaginary. You can place it where ever you choose, because you’re the writer. There will always be room for improvement. So I believe that this science organization can be used to help writers improve, but they can’t have the veto power over what is best fiction.

Live Out Your Imagination

“Indulge your imagination in every possible flight…” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

There is three things I like to imagine… besides traveling to Greece, having adventures in the UK, and imagining myself in my favorite stories.

Now which three things may I be referring to? Well, I’ll give you a hint. It’s several things that I would like to accomplish in my life.

Have you ever had a “Bucket List”? You know, things that you would really want to do in your life before you pass away. I know it can sound a bit depressing, but I think it’s a great way to make sure you take every moment for granted. As much as bungee jumping is thrilling, it’s not all about dangerous thrills. It can be just things that you haven’t done yet, but you’ve wondered about doing. For example, the National Novel Writing Month. I took the challenge to write a novel and though I didn’t finish in time, I was able to write more than I could ever imagine. (more…)