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Friday, July 31, 2015

Happy Birthday Harry Potter and JK Rowling!

Today is a special day in literary history. It is JK Rowling's birthday, and Harry Potter's birthday!
Harry Potter holds a special place in my heart. As I read the books, I grew up with Harry, and I shared his adventures with my father. Ron was my spirit animal, Hermione was my role model, and Hogwarts was always there when I wanted to read about magic, adventure and heroism. 
Not only did Harry Potter's story inspire me, but the story of JK Rowling herself. She began writing Harry Potter during a very difficult time in her life, when she wasn't sure how long her next paycheck would last, but she never gave up on her story, and once it was published, it became a source of inspiration around the world. 
I was part of the generation that was the same age as Harry when the first book came out, and I remember the day I first saw it at the school library, sitting on a display of many other fantasy books. I picked it up, read the back, and then I couldn't put it down. I showed the book to Dad that very day, and he had finished it the next day. After that, we bought the book, and waiting for the next one became an event. 
Dad would read them first, because he was a faster reader than I was, and then we would talk about the books when I finished reading them.
The second book was one of the scariest for me because of the giant spiders!
The third book was one of my favorites, and Sirus Black and Professor Lupin were my favorite characters. 
I remember Dad warning me not to read the fourth book at night while we were on a hike in the mountains, but of course I did anyway, because the story was so intriguing, and Harry was so brave.
The fifth book made me cry, and I remember having to put the book down for a moment in tribute to a great character.  
The sixth book was the most difficult to read when Dumbledore told Harry something that was impossible until it happened. 
There was only one book that I didn't discuss with my Dad right after I read it. I was at the Disney College Program when the last book came out, and during my day off, I found a nice park and read the book for the whole day. As I read, I thought of home, and for awhile Disney became Hogwarts in my imagination.
I was able to talk to my Dad about it on the way back from the program, and I remember feeling sad that it was over. 
But the movies kept coming out, so Hogwarts was not truly gone, and even then I knew that all stories must end, and I had to find a new series to read. Still, Harry Potter remains a very significant part of my childhood, and I enjoyed talking with my Dad about what would happen next, and how Harry would defeat Lord Voldemort. 
Once the news announced just how Harry Potter was published, I became determined to publish my own epic story, and now JK Rowling is on my list of role model authors. I later learned that she was inspired to write through the works of C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien: two amazing authors with epic stories to their names. 
JK Rowling is an amazing writer, and one day I would like to meet her, shake her hand and thank her for creating a magical, powerful story that can be read and enjoyed by all ages. 
Happy Birthday JK Rowling. 
Happy Birthday Harry Potter. 
Thank you for the magic. 

Monday, July 27, 2015


What is adversity? 
Well, it's anything that seems to be an obstacle in your path. Anything challenging to you that makes you think, and any sort of change that is not easy to adapt to. 

Every protagonist faces adversity, whether it's a difficult choice or a looming monster challenging them to battle. 
So what do you do, when a monster is staring you in the face? Do you run? Do you challenge it? Or do you pretend it isn't there? 
Many people deal or don't deal with adversity in many ways. Some people judge others by how they deal with adversity. 
But why is adversity so important in stories? Because adversity is important in life. 
The way a person deals with adversity, and the way they choose to reflect on it really can make a difference in the way they live their life, and how they view it. 
I'm going through adversity myself, but it may not seem serious: instead it's a bit embarassing. I almost accepted a false job. So I was scammed. What was the first thing I did? Did I rise up and say no? Did I make a decision right away?
No. I panicked. I began to say horrible things to myself ("You were an idiot." and "You let this happen.") 
But did that help me deal with the adversity? Absolutely not. 
It's normal to be overwhelmed when adversity rears its head, but it's not healthy to determine that it is your fault. This is a natural response, but it doesn't do anything for you. 
Sure you can complain, vent, and blame others, but that still doesn't work. 
So how do you handle a difficult situation? 
One way to handle it, is to accept it, and use it. 
This way is not often taught in schools, or even in everyday media. But the thing about accepting adversity is that you can find meaning in it. That meaning becomes a part of who you are. 
It's like leveling up in video games, and the hero's path in novels. Every conflict you face is a part of your story, and your journey. Each conflict is a step toward finding who you are, and just how far you can go. 
Now, my brush with adversity is minor compared to others.
My brother has Autism. And I can't tell you how many times my brother, my family and I were judged, ridiculed, and ignored because of it. 
We live in a society where different is often ostracized. And now that Autism is becoming more recognized, and less "abnormal" future Autisic children will never have to deal with some of the ignorance and indifference of the school systems that we did.
But that's not the point. 
The point is, my brother struggles with things that are not a struggle to other people. And because of this, he believes that he will not succeed in living a normal life. 
His adversity is a constant battle with acceptance, and just as we all struggle to accept ourselves, so my brother deals with outward and inward ridicule. 
I learned a lesson while working in Korea about the response that kids had to adversity. 
In my students' cases. Many of them didn't want to learn English. But when I reasoned with them, and agreed that English was difficult, but I believed they could learn it: things changed. 
Did I have to do this? No. But I did, because I understood that when you are faced with adversity, the last thing you want to be told is "you can't". I was offered no guidance, and no extra counseling with these students, but through daily encouragement and positive feedback, they got better. 
Now, we're all human, and no matter what problem we face, people will tell us to deal with it, but maybe that's just another way to call it a burden or obstacle. 
Instead, you can think of adversity as a tool. 
As Aimee Mullins explains in this video: instead of asking "How can I get around this?" we can ask "What can I do with this?". 

Seeing adversity, difficulty and even failure as a step toward self discovery may be just the perspective that inspires you to use it. Adversity is the opportunity to write your own story.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Life Happens

Life happens. 
What can I say?
It happens now, 
and even today. 
It happens next week, 
next month, 
and even next year. 
So, what is the point
of living in fear?
Or bitterness?
Or regret? 
Or even in spite? 
There's more to life
than starting a fight
with yourself, 
with others, 
or with the past. 
There's no guarantee 
of what will actually last. 
But there's so much to do,
to enjoy,
and to see. 
So much to learn,
to wonder, 
and to be. 
Life can be scary, 
and a dangerous plight. 
It's a chance to grow wings,
be brave,
take flight. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Happy Anniversary FFX!

It's a day late, but happy anniversary to Final Fantasy X! 
I love this game. The world, the characters and the story are amazing! 
I drew a lot of inspiration from this game for my upcoming novel Starlight. The conflict was interesting, and Yuna is my favorite character. Her pilgrimage, and the lessons she learns along the way are powerful elements in the story. Tidus, the narrator also grows from an easy going athlete to a quick thinking hero. These two characters were my favorite, but I also looked up to Auron, the wise and strong warrior. Rikku's optimism, Wakka's determination, Lulu's guidance and Kimihari's dedication added to the team. 
This story from ignorance to enlightenment: doom to hope still impresses me, no matter how many times I play it. 

The world is beautiful, from the mythos to the geography. 

My favorite places were the Moonflow . . . 

and Macalania Woods.

This game has so much imagination and philosophy. It asks the big questions in a beautiful setting with magic and adventure. 

And who could forget the laughing scene ^_^ 

FFX has been a major influence on my life, from the moment my friend Becca first introduced it to me ^_^

I have dressed up as Yuna a few times.

I gave Lightning her outfit in Lightning Returns

I saw the FFX display at Artina Cafe.

And the soundtrack is part of my writing playlist: 

Final Fantasy X is one of my favorite Epics. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Elements of Storytelling

(Warning: Some explicit language)
Storytelling is a complex craft, but this TED Talk by Andrew Stanton is inspiring. These elements are not always easy to create or find in stories, but they are worth it.
As I write stories, I try to keep these elements in mind, and I admire these elements in some of my favorite books, movies, TV shows and video games.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

OUAT: Dark Swan Theory

It's been a while since I've written a theory, but this trailer convinced me.


First off, this video does a great job pin-pointing all the major dark moments in Emma's life. From her doubt in herself to her loses and the rejection of her power.
Once Upon A Time has been Emma's story from the first episode, and each trial brings her closer to the light. She has yet to deal with darkness.
Due to her circumstances, Emma has felt abandoned for most of her childhood, and it caused her to grow tough and guarded as an adult. As she walks the path of a hero, Emma learns that accepting her life and role as it is will only happen when she stops doubting herself. This is her first step down her own path of becoming a hero. The second step was to accept her past, and she used that knowledge to save her son from the darkness. The third step is learning what she can do. She must embrace her magic and accept it as a part of who she is. It took a long time for her to do this, and she still struggles with accepting herself as a hero, a mother and a magic user at times.

But this season will be her most difficult challenge of all: embracing her dark side. As she did sacrifice herself to the darkness, becoming the hero that she knew she could be, she still had issues with accepting her heart. This childlike part of Emma is always pushed away, and now, with darkness to tempt it, we will see this side of her character.

This is our first look at Emma, and already she seems a little childish, playing a cruel game of hide and seek. Her expression reminded me of Peter Pan when he is testing Hook. She acts on impulse as well, and before he can blink, the guard is dead. This is a scary moment to witness, because despite her act, Emma instantly regrets what she has done. You see it in her expression, as she stands there, staring at him.
There's another interesting detail in this scene: the diamonds.
Something to keep in mind here is that Emma did not become the Dark One to be evil. She did it to save Storybrooke, and the darkness seeped into her soul.
Each dark one has an element that is related to the soul tied to the darkness. For Rumple, it was gold. For Emma, it looks like it will be diamonds.
Diamonds are symbolic for healing, shining from within and they reflect light.
The word diamond relates to the word adamas, which means unbreakable or unalterable in Greek. 
So the diamond is a specific symbol for Emma, in the fact that it disperses light. 
Emma was made of light and love, and her soul is still in there, probably constantly battling the darkness. She is still aware of her actions, as we see in this clip, but she is surrounded by so much darkness, darkness that has been growing for centuries, that she is unsure how to stop herself. 
It's already been confirmed by the writers that Emma will slowly turn dark, so this clip may be way later in the series, when it is more difficult for her to resist out of pure exhaustion. 
I beleive that the child side of Emma, feeling abadoned and lost will become the shadow side that the darkness will attach to, but the diamonds are Emma's own strength, light within the darkness.
I hope this series reveals the reason Merlin believed that the only way to contain this horrible evil thing was to tether it to a human soul, because it seems to have a conscious of its own. 
Because Emma is more light than dark, the darkness will eat at the light for a long time, but I think Dark Swan will be a projection of Emma's childhood self, the self she pushed away for a long time. 
In Once Upon A Time true love does conquer all, but I'm not sure they will do a true love's kiss for this one. It didn't seem like that would work for Rumple, and it probably won't work for Emma. 
It will probably be exactly what Emma said to her parents and to Killian that will at least reach out to her. They will have to find the light in the darkness to save Emma. 
And now for Regina's role as saviour. This is an interesting story arc. We've seen Regina be a hero, but I imagine she still has demons to fight from her dark past. She may be Emma's only hope because she has been part of the darkness, and it nearly consumed her. (And she's not lying on the ground unconcious like Rumple) 
I think the big moment in season 5, and the theme they have been going for since season 3 really, is the acceptance and love of the self. To love yourself as who you are. To accept your faults and weaknesses. 
This was a similar motiff for Riku's story in Kingdom Hearts, and Lightning's story in Lightning Returns. Emma will probably have to accept her shadow side, and her parents, son and pirate will probably help her with that. It is the most difficult battle for any character to face, and it may be balanced through Regina's new role. 
While Emma embraces the dark, Regina must embrace the light. 
This is just a theory, but it comes from being a writer, a reader and an observer of characters. 
The shadow is the scariest and most challenging villian for a character according to Carl S Jung. There are only two ways that stories have invented to defeat it: accepting it or banishing it. 
This darkness was already banished by Merlin, so my theory is it will only be defeated once it is accepted. 
That said, I'm both thrilled and wary of this season. It looks pretty dark. 
An interesting twist would be Merlin needing to embrace his dark side, or his dark magic. I hope Morgana is involved because she is known to be his worst nemesis. Who knows, maybe she taught Maleficent how to be dark. 
It will be interesting to see how they portray Emma's dark side, and how the characters will react. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Butterfly

The wonder of the butterfly
is the conflict you never see. 
They are champions
of the greatest battle
on Earth: shedding the old
to welcome the new.
Many people know
the beauty of 
a butterfly. 
They don't see
the struggle and the pain. 
The process from one thing 
to another. 
From crawling to flying. 
From clinging to falling.
Breaking the walls of a shelter 
made only to be destroyed. 
Earning wings
is a trial of things 
challenging and new.
The celebration of a victor 
who overcame the odds. 
The life of one who flies.   

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Time and Patience

I learned an inportant lesson today, going to my physical therapist to fix my finger. No matter how much effort I put into something, it won't change right away. 
Things take time. Healing takes time. 
It's a series of actions and reactions. But it's a balancing act between work and rest. Work too hard and you have no energy. Rest too long and you make no progress. 
I found that this is true of many situations in life. Getting over fear, for example, or learning how to better care for yourself. 
Now I'm not perfect, but I do expect myself to be, and that's the trouble. If I see failure or if I realize that I've taken a step back instead of forward, I panic. 
I did that yesterday when I was late meeting a friend, and I was scolding myself the whole way there, until my friend told me that it was okay. 
I had never thought to tell myself that. It's okay. 
Mistakes are not always failure, and life is unpredictable. 
It's important to recognise that you are you, and sometimes you will need things, and sometimes those things will take time. 
I had been pushing myself to a ridiculous standard, trying to get my finger to bend properly, trying not to make any of my friends upset, trying to make sure that everyone was happy, that I burned myself out. I needed a break. 
This comes from a long habit of feeling guilty for not spending time with my brother in the past, and it evolved into every single thing I did for work, school, and in social situations. It was exhausting. 
Because I was so focused on what everyone else wanted, I didn't think about what I wanted, and what I needed. It was this vicious cycle of disappointing myself over and over again, and it became a mindset. At times I still fall into this mindset, and all I manage to do is what I'm trying not to do, upset the people around me. 
But getting out of this mindset, and getting out of this habit is going to take some time. There are lessons to learn. I need to communicate things better. I need to recognise my own wants and needs. I need to understand the wants and needs of others. It's a process. It's part of being human. 
But today, I made progress, lots of progress and it happened because I took a break, so that was a new experience for me. Breaks are just as important as work. Sometimes all you need is time and patience. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Star Canopy

This scene from The Croods is amazing!
I finally watched this movie, and I was impressed with the story line. But this scene is probably my favorite.
The Croods have always lived in the dark, and they finally venture out into the world. This is the first time that they have ever seen stars. And this scene captures the wonder and awe they experience.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Captain America: A Good Man

Today is July 4th. Independence Day, and the birthday of Steve Rodgers or Captain America. 
Cap'n is my favorite Avenger. And it's not just the man in the suit, or Chris Evans. 
It's his character. 
Captain America begins as Steve Rodgers, a man who wants to serve his country, but lots of obstacles stand in the way. He is physically weak, he has asthma, and he loses a lot of fights with bullies. But he doesn't give up. He goes to many army enlisting booths and changes his name, age, health and tries until he gets caught by Dr. Eskvine. 
Doctor Erskine asks him why he wants to enlist in the army, and this is Steve's response. 
"I don't want to kill anyone. I don't like bullies. I don't care where they're from." 
It is this repsonse that convinces Erskine to choose Steve Rodgers to be first super soldier. 
Despite Erskine's choice, Steve doesn't pass challenging physical tests, but the moment he takes a "grenade" for the team, his true strength is revealed: the test of character. 
Before Steve takes the serum, and becomes a super soldier, Doctor Erskine tells him: 
"The serum amplifies everything that is inside, so good becomes great; bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen. Because the strong man who has known power all his life, may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows... compassion." 
As Chris Evans says, "He's good for the sake of good." This is why Captain America is such an amazing character. He does the right thing, and he never gives up. 
Once he finds out that his best friend Bucky has been captured, he goes after him, proving that he can lead troops into battle and stop Schimdt from conquering the world. 
Once he suceeds in saving Bucky, Steve becomes the soldier he always wanted to be, and more than that, a captain.

He also teams up with the incredible Peggy Carter, and he defies more and more of Schmidt's plans for HYDRA. But when Steve loses Bucky, he becomes even more determined to foil Schimdt's plans. 
But the ultimate act of good for good's sake is when Steve manually crashes Schimdt's plane to save millions of lives from the bombs that Schimdt set up in the plane. 
Captain America saved the world, but he paid a price: seventy years of his life. 

He wakes up in modern day America, with a new goal- to maintain the dream he had and to adapt to the changes that the world has gone through while he was gone. 
The first challenge he faces after waking up is to work with others on the Avengers project. 
He gets a lot of slack from the other heros for being old fashioned, but as Agent Coulson put it, "The world could use a little old fashioned." 
SHEILD wants him to work for them, but Steve doesn't trust their secrets. 
He goes to Peggy and tells her, "For as long as I can remember I just wanted to do what was right. I guess I'm not quite sure what that is anymore." 

A new challenge is presented to Steve when SHEILD is comprimised, and he faces his most challenging enemy, his best friend Bucky, brainwashed and weaponized. 
Steve must determine what he believes is the right thing to do, and he decides to stay true to himself and do what he believes is right. 
While saving SHEILD from HYDRA, Steve says, "The price of freedom is high, but it is a price that I am willing to pay." 
In that moment, Steve Rodgers is himself again, and he knows what he wants to do. 

Before Doctor Erskine gave Steve the serum he said, "I want you to promise me one thing. No matter what happens after tomorrow, you will stay who you are, not a perfect soldier, but a good man." 

Captain America is a great hero because he strives to be the best he can be. This is an admirable trait, and the mark of a great hero. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Writing Music- The Great Mouse Detective

This movie was one of my favorites as a kid, and the instrumental gets stuck in my head all the time. It's a fun score and I write to it often, especially during exciting scenes.
The Great Mouse Detective was released on this day in 1986. I still watch it from time to time, and this score still gets me whenever I hear it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

You are

What are some of the most powerful words in the world? The words that make a difference at the end of the day? 
"You are". 
What comes after these words can make a difference. Whether you say them to someone else, or to yourself. 
You are important. You are brave. You are strong. You are able to handle whatever comes your way. 
These words work, because we all have egos, and when we hear something positive, even in the gloomiest mood, there's a little more spring in our steps. When we hear something negative, we can react in two ways. We can believe it, or we can question it. 
The interesting thing about these words is that we believe whatever comes after them. If we use negative words, then that is what sticks with us, and the same is true about positive thoughts. 
It's difficult to change this habit. We hear mean things, we take things personally, and we ignore them sometimes when we're stuck in a rut. But they do have meaning, and they shape our world. 
Whatever we believe about ourselves really is important, and it really does effect our work and life. When we say "You are" to someone, what you put at the end can effect how they view themselves, and how they view you. 
Some people could look at this post and roll their eyes. I did that, a long time ago, but then I began to pay attention to what I said, what I heard, and what I believed. 
It's one step toward self confidence, deciding what you believe about yourself, and believing in others. 
Because life is hard. We all have painful memories, obstacles and challenges in our lives, but they don't have to be as powerful as we make them. 
Once we create the words after "You are" we are shaping our own reality. 
And we can also remember that "You are" is a complete sentence and "I am" is even more powerful.