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Journey – Star Wars An Epic Fantasy Tradition

Journey – Star Wars An Epic Fantasy Tradition

Re-written from July, 2013

I speak of a journey. Whether it’s the one we take from the minute we’re born to the day we die or the smaller journeys in the in between. The stuff that makes up our life, our legacy. The journey with an end goal, working toward an accomplishment of a dream.

I’m drawn to stories about these journey’s to find oneself because I undertook one of those when I finally decided to honor my seven-year old self and write my first book.

And luckily one of my most favorite epic fantasy journey’s has been featured on-line, in Facebook, and I just finished watching it.

Star Wars – Luke’s Journey

I was nine years old and I still remember my dad asking if we wanted to see a movie called “Star Awards”. It was so new, I had no idea what he was talking about.

It was one of those experiences that from the minute the opening scrolled across the screen with the musical background, that a smile grew across my face. One that didn’t leave, long after the final credits.

Star Wars just happens to be one of those movies that I can watch and re-watch, always entertained, always amazed by this simple epic fantasy.

I will always contend the story is an epic fantasy, that just because the story is filled with blasters, light sabers, the X-wing fighters, it’s so much more than Science Fiction. It is at its core, a story about a boy who unbeknownst to himself, is about to take a life changing journey. And just like every epic fantasy, he will learn of his royal heritage, he will become the reluctant hero and he will discover his true self and what he is capable of. All this accomplished in a strange new world, with characters and creatures unlike our own, in a place with rules that are unfamiliar to life as we know it. 

My Own Journey

It’s much like my own life, my own journey. From the moment I opened my first document and wrote Chapter 1, and let the words pour from my head to my fingers, as I typed variations of twenty-six letters that became 100,000 words, I to find myself in an unfamiliar world, discovering jus what I am made of .

Star Wars, a simple, elegant story, rough and primitive, that is almost as old as I am. The nine-year old in me still watches with a smile on my face, simple joy at a story worth re-telling. And in honor of May the 4th be with you, may you all find yourself and your own journey.

 

Self Help

Self Help

yodaThere’s twenty pages of books on Amazon about living as an introvert, marketing as an introvert, how to succeed as an introvert, public speaking for introverts, you get it, there’s a lot of books on how to live as an introvert. I’m not one for self-help books. I find them redundant because I really know what it is I need to do in order to change the circumstances of my life. At my age I’m also aware of who I am and what I can change. Having someone else spell it out for me, seems like a waste of time and money.

When I needed to lose weight I knew I needed to exercise and reduce my caloric intake. I did that. When I decided it was time to check #7 off of my bucket list, I sat down and wrote that book. For me there’s no more thinking about the things that need to be done. There can only be doing. So says Yoda from Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back.

“No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Self help books, videos or people, I don’t subscribe to them. I realize that people are looking for answers and are looking for a way to make changes for the better and that’s their option. Those books for me are a crutch. A way to feel like I’m accomplishing something without accomplishing anything besides finishing a book. The books themselves can lead you to water, lead you to the change, but only you can make a change. I know what I need to do in order to get to where I want to go. It doesn’t mean that I will get there, all it means is that I have to just do it, I just have to drink that water. If I’m lucky it will happen, if I’m not at least I…

I set the goal for myself, I will write everyday and I will complete my second book. Whether or not I become a successful writer, time will tell, but at least someday I’ll be able to look back and know that I did everything that I could to try to get there. My own self-help.

 

 

Time Travel

Time Travel

sheryl banner whateever wednesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

My kid did something that I had wanted to do for years and it only took her a month to do it. She decided to watch Doctor Who, all seven seasons of the reboot. I never thought there was time, nor did I realize every episode was On Demand. So the kid got me hooked on yet another show which gets me thinking about time travel. The idea of being able to go anywhere in time and in the case of traveling with the TARDIS, anywhere in space as well.

If time were no longer a linear concept, would you take advantage of it? Where would you go? I might be intrigued and head to the past, my past specifically and visit my seven-year old self. I have so much wisdom I’d like to share with myself. Though changing my past my make my present unrecognizable. Maybe I should go and experience history, the greatest moments when events changed the world.

Since I have yet to see my future self in my present timeline, I can assume time travel hasn’t been invented or perfected in the future. So it remains a science fiction concept and storyline. I can live with that and I can suspend my disbelief that time travel is plausible as long as the explanation makes sense. Think of Terminator. I can believe that Sarah Connor’s protector came from the future and became John Connor’s father. Because in the version of time travel I like to think is possible you can’t go back to the past if you hadn’t been there when the past was actually the present. Think of it this way, if you meet your future self today, because that future self came back to the past, you will be able to do it in the future because you came to this point in the past. If that didn’t make sense than maybe this will, you won’t be able to go to your past because you didn’t meet yourself in the past already. And of course since I don’t know you, maybe you have. In that case, I’d be very impressed and a little jealous.

When writing a series, like Annie and Cham I’m always dreaming of unique storylines that could hold the reader’s attention. And in the middle of falling asleep on the couch and watching a documentary about Beowulf, I began imagining Annie in the past. More specifically, Annie as Beowulf, saving the world from something scary. She Wulf became a story of Annie’s adventures in ancient England during the time of the Vikings. A chance for her to save the world from an indestructible demon, and in return, watch the demon’s extinction. And when things didn’t go Annie’s way, she still remained hopeful. With the demon no longer in the present world, she knew she could resolve the situation and return home because she already had done it in the past. It was just now in her present that she actually remembers experiencing it.

I’m glad my daughter decided to watch Doctor Who. I enjoy the endless possibilities as a watcher, reader and writer. If you could would you travel to the past? Where would you go and who would you meet? Just remember, don’t touch anything, talk to anyone or change history. You might not recognize where you return home to.

 

 

The Sidekick

The Sidekick

Superman, Arrow, Batman, Sherlock Holmes, literary heroes with something in common, yeah they all fight evil, stand up for the common man, they act on the belief that justice will be served.  

With all that said, I’m really thinking of the sidekick. You know, that person who hangs around the hero, the character you can far more easily relate to because they’re more like us, the one’s we think we can be like. They hold many roles, these sidekicks do. Oftentimes they act as the comic relief, or the straight man all with the purpose to better the hero, make them more likeable. The character of the sidekick gives the hero a friend, someone to talk to, and someone to assist them in bringing about justice for the victim. They are the confidante, understand and know the character better than he knows himself and offer the hero a mirror which reveals their true selves.  

I know of Batman and Robin, Of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Superman and Jimmy Olsen. But I really know of Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak, at least through the eyes of Arrow the television show that I discovered in the middle of last season. As much as I love Urban Fantasy, I’ve never been much of a fan of the comic book. I find them confusing in that the story is mostly told through the drawings. I far more prefer prose, and all that words bring to the story, but now I digress. What I really think about is the role of those sidekicks and what they offer to the hero, to the story.

Oliver Queen the billionaire playboy. Portrayed as the most unlikable character that cheated on his girlfriend with her sister, before getting shipwrecked on a deserted island where he survived for five years. Flashbacks, reveal a glimpse of the irresponsible, selfish man he once was. We compare his past to the man he’s become and the mission that his father left for him before he died in the boat disaster. He becomes the Hood in order to save his beloved city and take it back from those who wish to harm it. While in the process of protecting his secret, he chooses to let those who once knew him believe that he was still that man.

But through Felicity Smoak, the computer genius sidekick, we catch a glimpse of his other self, for she defends him and the choices he makes. She spends her time assisting him catch the villains with her computer as well as coming up with quick snippets of wit, in the middle of an intense storyline, offering that touch of comic relief.

I often wonder who in The Day of First Sun, is Annie’s sidekick. It occurs to me that maybe the role belongs to Sturtagaard the vampire who offers comic relief or the character to play off us. But that’s not really it. Maybe it’s Cham, her best friend who takes a back seat to Annie. But he’s not the sidekick either. It’s not until I started writing Heavenly Gifts where I really think Annie has found her sidekick. A young Wizard Guard named Emerson, the one who worships the more experienced Guard, the one who’s not quite a full-fledged Wizard Guard, who needs just a little help, who might be able to humanize Annie. It’s something I hadn’t really thought about until just recently. Who will be Annie’s comic relief, who will offer her assistance and who will defend her above all others?

We all need our champions.

What the Heck is a Tardis?

What the Heck is a Tardis?

If you have to ask you’ve never watched Doctor Who. Okay. So I don’t watch a lot of Doctor Who. It’s not because I don’t want to, the show is right up my alley. It’s mostly because I’m woefully far behind and have no time to catch up. Instead, I watch when I can. But then there’s my daughter, the one who I’ve managed to turn into a geek, the one who loves, The Walking Dead, Torchwood, and Comic Con. I’m so proud.

She’s now a Doctor Who fan, the kind that sat with the Ipad for six hours to watch season six and then declare, she wanted to go to Barnes and Noble and buy his screwdriver. Yeah, the kid is a culture nut and I’m the proud mommy.

But it had me thinking about space and time. And how in all of these science fiction and fantasy entertainment vehicles that it’s the vehicle, the way the characters move within the storyline from place to place and time to time that is what the show is centered around.

Even if you’ve never seen Star Wars, you know the Millennium Falcon. Han Solo’s ride, his home, the only thing he owns worth anything and yes it saves all of their lives by flying them away from the Death Star and in the end it’s the machine that allows Han to assist Luke Skywalker blast the hell out of said Death Star. You might also be aware that it’s a rust bucket and the hyperdrive doesn’t always work.

I’m sure even if you don’t watch Star Trek you know the USS Enterprise. Or Back to the Future you travel through time in a DeLorean. But these types of time and space travel seem practical, seem as though they fit, belong in the realm of their reality. So who then, came up with the Tardis?

Even I know, having only watched maybe five episodes of Doctor Who that the Tardis is the time machine moving the Doctor and his companion through space and time. Tardis stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space. Yeah a time machine; where occupants can transport to any point in time or place in the universe. 

I had to look it up, understand what this thing was that took on the shape of a 1960’s style London police box. Its chameleon circuit is broken, (a mechanism which is responsible for changing the outside appearance of the ship in order to fit in with its environment, leaving it in its current state). It’s an ordinary object used for extraordinary things. A time machine with a mind of its own, rather than going where the Doctor wishes to land, it lands where he is needed the most.

These machines spark imagination; make dreamers into creators who might attempt to recreate what they’ve seen on television, in the movies and make them reality. So I sit and examine my daughter’s new purchase, a miniature Tardis; an object of dreams and wishes to discover, to explore to assist and make better. If we could go back into time, would we and while there is it practical to make changes? Would our lives be better or would we destroy all that we know? Would that one little change, change everything? And the Tardis, opens the whole of the universe to us. Would you take a trip through time and space? I know I would.

It’s a Crappy New World – Then Why are We So Happy About It?

It’s a Crappy New World – Then Why are We So Happy About It?

hunger games

Utopia, the perfect world, where the sun shines daily, people are equal and no one lacks for anything. While we realize that this is probably never going to happen as each side of every issue have difficulty finding a happy medium, we trudge through our daily lives, going to and from work, schlepping our children from activity to activity, and paying those nasty bills instead of finding Utopia. Okay so our lives aren’t as awful as I just made it seem, but I am getting to my point. We don’t live in Utopia but we also don’t live in a Dystopia either.

For those unfamiliar with that term, think The Hunger Games, think The Walking Dead. It’s the opposite of a Utopia, a world that we wouldn’t want to live in, something frightening and unfamiliar, as a result of  an event, biological or otherwise which leads to the cataclysmic decline in society. Stories are filled with the dehumanization of the person, totalitarian governments, lawlessness. So then, why are these television shows, movies and books so popular?

We are huge The Hunger Games and The Walking Dead fans in our household, classic examples of the dystopian society. In one story line we see the catastrophic spread of a disease which turns the human race into flesh-eating zombies. A society whose only purpose is to run from the zombie monsters and survive.

In The Hunger Games, we’re entrenched in a world that is recovering from a revolt attempted by the less fortunate. Citizens living in the outer districts, being controlled because of The Hunger Games. A world where the government controls the masses by sending children 12 – 18 years of age to the spectacle, where they must fight to death. Who in what society would allow this to happen? How does it get to this? Again, an impossible world that we can only imagine, one that is terrifying and decidedly not where we would want to live.

So again, the question is, why? Why are we so interested in these horrifying societies, unreal and yet manage to hold our fascination? I’ve said it before but I always think it’s easier to solve our real world problems in a world devoid of the rules that we know and understand. Where we can feel that justice is served because we can make our own rules, as needed based on impossible situations because shooting an arrow through the brain of a zombie solves the problem neatly and cleanly.

I think that for us readers and viewers it’s a glimpse into something far more fantastic than our own lives and in a way that’s a little scary. We need something so unbelievable, so frightening, so awful to grab our attention and thrill us, or maybe the questions that these stories pose, allow us to think about the consequences of our actions. Topics and situations that gives us a reason to discuss and conclude something about our own lives. Or maybe it’s a simple as hope. the belief that things can get better if we work hard, think it through and fight for what we believe in. Trust in the people closest to us and care for them through the impossible.

In The Hunger Games, Katniss’s simple gesture to honor a fallen child is turned to hope. And she will use that to protect those she loves as she’s propelled into the face of the rebellion. We cling to the hope as we watch the rebellion move forward and we cheer when she makes the right choice and earns her freedom and the freedom of those she loves.

Hope is different in The Walking Dead, because there isn’t a cure for the zombie disease. It’s about finding a stable environment in which to make a life. a place to be safe. Ironically, it’s the prison. Because they stumble into the now unused prison where they are able to defend their position and remain out-of-the-way of the zombie hordes, it becomes a place worth protecting and fighting for, escaping destruction and loss of more of their new-found family group. It gives them hope.

Or maybe I’m over thinking it and it’s simply a bit of everything wrapped in a warped and wonderful visual experience.

 

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Prophecy, Choice and Character

Prophecy, Choice and Character

Prophecy is a message given to a prophet, someone who communicates it to others. It’s oftentimes the vehicle for a fantasy plot line.

As a fantasy writer, even I’m not immune to the use of the prophecy. In She Wulf, it is what the story is centered on. Throughout the story, my assertion for Annie is this; do we have to follow through on a prophecy or do we have free will to simply say no. Or because of her character does she simply not have a choice but to accept her new destiny.

 

prophecy girl

The question of prophecy and free will is in more than one series. As a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, episode, Prophecy Girl I’ve often grappled with that question and wonder what would happen if Buffy simply waits until the next day.

In this episode Giles discovered an ancient book called the Codex, one in which foretells of several different prophecies, all which have come to pass. It tells of Buffy’s death at the hands of The Master.

 

 

Giles: I wish to G_d I were. But it’s very plain. Tomorrow night Buffy will face the Master, and she will die.

But my thought every time I see this episode is this; what if she waits one more day or even an hour after midnight, will the prophecy still hold true. Will waiting allow her to live and still kill the master or will it be her downfall anyway? But it’s her calling as a slayer to fight the Master and ensure he doesn’t rise. For if he did, all forms of evil will break through the Hellmouth and terror will reign. In the end Buffy doesn’t believe she has a choice. She accepts her responsibility and submits to the prophecy.

The other prophecy that always had me wondering came from Harry Potter.

“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …”

—Prophecy made to Albus Dumbledore by Sybill Trelawney

 

harry prophecy

Having not heard the entire prophecy Voldemort doesn’t know for sure which child will bring his end and he chooses Harry rather than his other possible choice of Neville Longbottom. But he marks the child and walks directly into a self-fulfilling prophecy in which one of them will have to die by the other’s hand. Would he, had he not marked Harry his equal, been able to avoid the prophecy and succeed in bringing about his plan?

Having their destinies thrust upon them, both Harry and Buffy accept the prophecy and their role in it, not because of the prophecy but because of their character. For Buffy, she is the slayer, and in the simplest terms, it is her job to stop evil. She is able to do this because she is grounded to life by her friends and her mother. Though Harry is responsible for stopping evil, it is his love for his friends and the memory of his parents that keep him fighting. He accepts his role when he realizes he is the only one who can stop Voldemort and keep those he loves safe.

The prophecy is the story’s catalyst. It propels the characters into their journey one in which they learn about themselves and come into the person they were meant to be and in the end, they discover what they are truly capable of accomplishing.

It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Spoken by Albus Dumbledore.

For Buffy and Harry it is their choices to not run but to fight that make them the characters they eventually become.

 

Star Wars, The Ultimate Fantasy I Swear It

Star Wars, The Ultimate Fantasy I Swear It

When I was nine, my dad asked if we wanted to see a movie called “Star Awards” so new I had no idea what he was talking about. We went anyway and from the minute the words scrolled across the screen and I heard that music, I had a smile on my face. Star Wars just happens to be one of those movies that I can watch and re-watch always entertained always amazed by this simple epic fantasy.

I still contend its fantasy, though most I’m sure would think that Star Wars is a work of Science Fiction, with the blasters, the light sabers, the X-wing fighters. But it’s far more than just the technology that holds the movie together. As in all good fantasy stories, there’s that hero, the one who might be royalty and not know it, the one who is thrown into. All bound by the Force, the magic, the code in which the hero fights his battle. Whether it be to save the princess or the galaxy or return an artifact to the place in which it will always be safe, the outer package of the story makes no difference. These are the themes that bind a fantasy together.

This is the ultimate story of good versus evil, where the hero wears white and the villain wears black, and Han Solo wears both.

This is an epic fantasy, a strange new world, with characters of every shape and size, a medieval landscape in which rules don’t exist. How will Luke Skywalker bring order out of chaos? That is his journey. He is the chosen one.

A story, simple and elegant, rough and primitive, that is almost as old as I am. The nine-year old in me still watches with a smile on my face, simple joy at a story worth re-telling.

 

Guilt Free TV Surfing Is Not as Much Fun as You’d Think

Guilt Free TV Surfing Is Not as Much Fun as You’d Think

Four weeks ago I had leg surgery. Actually, I had about a mile of varicose veins removed from my left leg because of a superficial blood clot in my leg. So when expecting to be down for any length of time at all, what do you think of doing. Watch television, catch up on a few books, paint a masterpiece. Silly me, I thought the down time would give me serious writing time to finish my book.

I wasn’t really supposed to do anything and as the doctor pulled and cut those nasty little veins, she asked me what I had planned for my downtime. Did I have a lot of books and movies to watch. Had a planned ahead of time I could have knocked off a bucket list item and watched every Star Wars movie in a row. Really couldn’t do much else. I told the doctor, seriously, I was planning on working on my book. I swear I saw her eyes roll and heard something akin to a snort.

I had the best of intentions. Really I did. My computer sat on the coffee table. I think I might have checked email. What I hadn’t realized is how much it hurt to have those veins removed. I spent the first day grunting and groaning when I moved or stood up to use the bathroom. And when I wasn’t moving, I spent time wondering how the doctor removed those nasty veins without tying them off. Though still to this day, it wigs me out a little thinking about it.

So instead of planning for what was really going to happen, I sat on the couch with my leg up and channel surfed. I promised myself, the first day off. So that meant guilt free ESPN, Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City, Murder She Wrote, Monk, Avatar the Last Airbender, (which happens to be one of my favorites). Not so bad. Only three more days. And that’s where the problem started.

Day two, I pulled out the computer, stared at the screen and put it away. The Day of First Sun sat there mocking me. It never happened. I re-watched television shows. I changed the channel, read a book, and fidgeted with the compression stocking that was so tight I was losing feeling in my toes.

It might sound fun, guilt free channel surfing. It’s not. It’s mind numbing and boring, especially when there’s so many more important things to get done. Like writing a book. Which finally happened. I’m pleased to say, The Day of First Sun is with several beta readers. I hope I never have to take that much down time without the ability to do something. Anything. recuperating, not as much fun as it sounded.

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