Writing

Why I Chose to Write Fantasy

Image from Pixabay

I have always enjoyed fantasy more than most other genres. I read the entire “Harry Potter” series in my early teens. In fact, at that time, it was the only thing I would read for pleasure.

I have always been attracted to magic, fantastical elements, and supernatural ideas, for as long as I can remember. I am a highly imaginative person who likes to create and brainstorm.

The idea of my book’s main character dates back to when I was in elementary school. Then she returned to my mind in my adolescence and I developed everything about her from there.

One thing about fantasy is that you can have more freedom with your stories since there is worldbuilding involved as well as other enchanted elements. Of course, the literary devices should still be believable and make sense.

When I first published the sequel of my “Magical Missions” series in 2016 as “Wizardry Goes Wild,” there were still a lot of flaws, including with credibility. One struggle involved having my characters react to magic in a believable way. 

After pulling the original edition from the market and fixing the issues, I decided on a change. Instead of trying to get the characters to react to extreme situations more credibly, since I still had trouble with it, I made certain situations milder, as long as they didn’t need to be severe. For example, there is a scene with a magical robotic bee. But that was originally a fake shark that functioned like a real one.

Basically, I just love fantasy and being very creative, which is why I like to write in that genre. I probably wouldn’t try horror or science-fiction, though. Horror scares me and science involves more research as well as math. Yet, with fantasy, I have more freedom along with fun.

fiction

How Magic Shapes My Characters

What is fantasy without magic? My “Magical Missions” does not differ from that.

However, the magic laws and culture do stand out from other fantasy books. One is that they are set in modern-day America, and the other is that wizards have their own enchanted technology far more advanced than the regular kind. 

How does this shape my characters? The protagonist, Alyssa, has grown up not believing in magic… until the start of book 1, “The Frights of Fiji.” Of course, she reacts with surprise as do the other characters. Or they don’t believe her. Those that do witness wizardry are either amazed or scared.

In the sequel, “A Curse of Mayhem,” Alyssa has already gotten used to magic, even though it hasn’t interfered with her life for the past 6 months. Unlike then, though, she is performing it against her will and longs to remove it. Of course, it involves lots of complications.

While Alyssa’s friends stand by her as does her guardian, most of the characters fear and misunderstand her, especially her school principal. He sees her sorcery as threatening and dangerous. Therefore, he gives her detention several times. Alyssa also ends up at risk for expulsion. Of course, I won’t spoil anything.

Wizards and non-magical people (there is no specific term for them) share the same world, although magicians hide their supernatural culture and skills differently. They will either blend their buildings in with security charms, put invisibility shields around them, or disguise things around ordinary people.

I do explain on my website how wizards hide their secret world. But this is how magic shapes my characters.

You can also buy Book 2 here and Book 1 here.

TV show

Let’s Get Digital with This Evaluation of “The Fairly OddParents” Special, “Channel Chasers”

Warning: Contains spoilers***

In the past, I didn’t usually review or evaluate individual TV show specials. However, that has changed since I have watched that “Fairly OddParents” TV movie, “Channel Chasers,” earlier this year. So, let me get reviewing.

The premise begins 20 years into the future, where Dimsdale has been destroyed. The mysterious guy in the black outfit chases two adults, Chester and AJ. He has to go back in time to stop the evil dictator, Vicky, from ruling the world.

The scene switches to modern-day Dimsdale, where Vicky is her usual self. The news plays and discusses children imitating violent television. Timmy is one of them. He unintentionally bounces into his parents’ offices and gets grounded for it, thus being forbidden to watch TV. So, he comes up with a loophole and has Cosmo and Wanda create for him a remote that takes him into the TV channels. Things go smoothly, and then get crazy, as well as intense at times.

I have to admit how re-watching this reminded me of “Avengers: Endgame”. If you’re an MCU fan or have seen “The Endgame”, you would likely know what I mean. This also teaches the importance of respecting the boundaries of what’s acceptable in real life and what stays on the screen. I used to have a bad habit of imitating television as a child, too.

The TV programs Timmy goes on are all parodies of real ones, including those like, Rugrats, Peanuts, Sesame Street, and even The Simpsons. While I admired that as a kid, as an adult, I feel that it was kind of lazy and the creators could have come up with more original ideas. But maybe they intended that—I don’t know.

Another pitfall is the toilet humor and the amount of defecation jokes used, even in that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special. Also, when Timmy discovers how much longer he can have fairy godparents, he skips ages 13 and 14. He can have fairies until age 18, although I personally feel 13 or 14 would be more appropriate, as you’re not a little kid anymore. Therefore, you need to learn to deal with your own problems more maturely. Plus, most bigger kids want more freedom and independence, so having fairies follow them around might not please them.

Timmy does eventually acknowledge that he needs to grow up and will one day lose Cosmo and Wanda as his fairy godparents. He spends most of the episode not wanting to age.

Speaking of which, it was a good twist for that mysterious guy in the black suit turning out to be adult Timmy. I also appreciate how Timmy grows and changes where he starts off resistant to his grown-up self to missing him when he doesn’t make it past the end credits of “Karate Cows.”

I would rate this special 5 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: What Happened to Lily and James’ Bodies Between Their Deaths and Burials?

Every “Harry Potter” fan or even pretty much anyone in the general public should know that Harry lost his parents as a baby thanks to Voldemort, and had to grow up with his abusive aunt and uncle. For those who really enjoy the series, Harry discovered his parents’ graves in the 7th installment. But who buried them? When? And why was there no funeral for them?

Shortly after his parents were killed, Harry is rescued from the house by Hagrid as quickly as possible. But the two don’t arrive at the Dursleys for another day, for some reason. This is commonly known as the “missing day”, which I didn’t know about until maybe a few years ago. But I will discuss the missing 24 hours in another post.

Here, I am just going to talk about what could have happened to James and Lily’s corpses after they perished. This will exclude events like Pettigrew’s betrayal and turning into a rat as well as Sirius getting locked up in Azkaban.

I learned that James’s parents had him quite old. They lived to see him marry, but not meet their grandson. Lily’s mom and dad also passed on, I think, and her sister, Petunia, was her only living family member. That is why Harry has to live with her until he comes of age. If he lives with a blood relative of his mom, Voldemort can’t go near him.

Anyway, it could not have been Petunia who buried Lily and James. She despised both of them.

Could ministry officials have buried the couple? Possibly, and maybe as soon as Harry was out of that area. Also, did Lily and James not have a funeral because there was no family member to arrange it, despite their wealth? Couldn’t Remus Lupin have planned it, even though he was just James’s friend?

I don’t know if people can plan and pay for events for those not related to them, whether they can get paid back or not. I am not sure how it works for wizards in the ” Harry Potter” series, either. I guess that will remain a mystery, as will who buried James and Lily and how soon.

movie

I’m Going to Review “Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian” from 2009 Right… Now!

Warning: contains spoilers***

The items at the Museum of Natural History in NYC are being packed away to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, night guard, Larry Daley, is promoting something to a live audience.

Not long after, though, Larry is whisked away to Washington D.C. for the museum figures. The enchanted tablet brings the things in the Smithsonian to life, including a villainous Egyptian Pharoah named Ahkmenrah. Danger begins from there.

Like the first and third films, this movie had great humor. One of the funniest moments was when the other bad guys on Ahkmenrah’s side asked about his “dress,” which it wasn’t. It was a tunic. I laugh at when another person asked if he and everyone had to wear that, too. Lol. 

Another amazing aspect was when Oscar the grouch and Darth Vader tried to convince Ahkmenrah that they could be bad, but Ahkmenrah calmly turned them away. There was also a clever twist where Sacagawea made a point about how alerting the dark side about their attack could endanger them. So, when the time came, the good guys yelled, We are not going to attack right… now!”

Let’s not forget about the thinker and when he went “Fire power,” while developing strong feelings for a nearby female statue. Which brings me to the romance between Larry and Amelia Earhart. It wasn’t conventional at all. Amelia wanted leadership and helped Larry a lot. I found that to be fantastic since it was quite unique.

That being said, when Larry told his son, Nick, about her, his reaction was a little too casual. He asked in a neutral way, “You found Amelia Earhart?” 

Aside from that, though, everything else ruled. The Einstein figurines and their little song as well as their advanced knowledge cracked me up. I also appreciate the twist where Octavius encounters a squirrel on the white house property and then rides it.

The review ends here. I would rate this film 5 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Interview with Author, Tara Gilboy

As someone who enjoyed her book, “Unwritten,” I am interviewing the author, Tara Gilboy. See the questions and answers below and enjoy!

What do you find the most enjoyable about writing?

I think for me, brainstorming and coming up with new story ideas is always the best part of writing. I love looking at the world as a potential source of story ideas, and I love doing research on them. Of course, after that, the hard work sets in, as I then have to develop the plot and characters in those ideas. But I am always happiest when I am imagining new worlds and possibilities.

What genres do you like to read in now?

I am a very wide reader: I read in pretty much every genre! Right now, since it’s fall and getting to be Halloween time, I have been reading a lot of scary stories, but I also am a huge fan of historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, nonfiction, you name it. I do tend to read a lot of middle grade and young adult books more so than adult novels, partly because that is what I like to write, and partly because I love the way they focus on good, old-fashioned storytelling.

Who is your favorite character in your book?

It is so hard to pick just one! Gracie, my protagonist, is of course my special favorite, but I loved writing Cassandra because she is just so complicated and evil! And Gertrude Winters and I have a lot in common, so I have a special place for her too. And then Walter, of course…. I love them all!

Who is your favorite fictional character in general?

I think if I had to pick just one, I would say Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. When I was a kid, I was always happiest reading, so I think I am drawn to her because she reminds me of myself when I was younger.

Where do you get your ideas?

I wish I knew the answer to this! Ideas come to me all the time. Sometimes I’ll get an idea from something I read or from people I know. If I am searching for ideas, I will often visit a place like a museum or art gallery, because I always leave feeling inspired. The trouble for me is not finding ideas; it is selecting the right idea, the one I am excited enough about that I am willing to commit to it long-term. I often start stories and then put them aside halfway through because I lose interest in them. But I would say that my number one source for ideas is reading. Reading other books by writers I love always inspires me and makes me want to write. 

What other genres would you ever want to write in?

I have always wanted to write historical fiction, and in fact, I have probably started and stopped nearly a dozen historical fiction projects in the last few years alone. I love to read historical fiction and so have always wanted to write it, but somehow I always find myself either stalling or getting bogged down in the research. I feel confident, though, that I will finish one of these historical projects eventually! I also have an idea for a true crime story that I would like to work on, so I have been doing research on writing true crime narratives lately as well.

What was your favorite book as a child?

It is tough to pick just one! I was obsessed with both Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess

What types of scenes do you enjoy writing most?

My favorite kinds of scenes are ones that make me laugh. Sometimes the scene itself isn’t even funny, but I find myself laughing because I am so taken aback by what a character just said or did. I like writing scenes where the characters surprise me and go in a direction I hadn’t expected when I first sat down to write. Those are usually scenes with a lot of emotional intensity.

What did you struggle most with when writing your book?

I think in my first book, Unwritten, I struggled most with making the “rules” of my magical world clear. The concept I had undertaken, writing of a girl who is a character in a story, ended up being a lot more complex (and potentially confusing to readers) than I had anticipated when I started. I was really lucky to have a great workshop group and critique partners who helped me along the way. I also always really struggle with plot and structure. I find that plotting gets easier, though, once I have my character’s main goal or drive figured out. Until I know what my main character wants, I don’t really have a story.

What character can you relate to most?

I think I relate to Gertrude Winters the most, perhaps because we both share a love of writing. And in Rewritten, Gertrude is struggling with a nasty case of writer’s block, something I can definitely relate to!

Are there unique details you pick up on in fiction, either visual or written?

It depends on what and why I am reading. Reading is my absolute favorite thing in the world, and so I try to just let myself sink into the story. I don’t want to always be looking “behind the scenes” at the way a story is constructed. That said, after I’ve read a book I love once or twice, I will often go back to it and look at what specifically makes it work so well. And when I am struggling with something in my own writing, I often look at books or scenes that are similar to mine to see what strategies the author used to handle various issues that came up. For example, when I needed to write a scene about a fire, I read a lot of different books with fire scenes (for example, the fire scene in Jane Eyre, where Jane puts out a fire in Mr. Rochester’s bedroom) to see how other authors had handled it.

Do you ever notice elements in fiction that others don’t?

I think so, but then again, many of my students and friends notice things in fiction that I don’t too. I tend to look a lot at plot and structure when I am reading, and I have some wonderful friends who are always reminding me of the beauty of language and lyrical prose. I think we all look at slightly different things as readers and writers, and so we always learn from each other.

What is your writing pet peeve?

My biggest writing pet peeve is writers who show off at the expense of the story. It is something I used to struggle with when I first started writing, and I had to train myself not to do it. The plot and characters come first and foremost: writers can’t be afraid to cut paragraphs and scenes, even if they love the language, if they don’t contribute to the overall story. Also for some odd reason I dislike the word “myriad.” I’m not sure why, but it’s always been a pet peeve of mine.

Thank you so much for having me!

fiction, movie

Harry Potter Mystery: Are Wizards Not as Concerned About Safety as Muggles?

One thing I noticed about the “Harry Potter” series is that wizards and witches don’t seem as concerned about safety as muggles do. It is constantly said that Hogwarts is one of the safest wizarding schools in the world.

However, like many, I kind of have to disagree. People have pointed out the numerous dangers Hogwarts has. There is the forbidden forest with deadly creatures that Harry and his friends are forced to go into for detention in their first year. There are also dangerous beasts in the school, such as the basilisk and the three-headed dog, a whomping willow on the grounds, and even the moving staircases. As fun as Quidditch looks, it’s also perilous. And let’s not leave out the Tri-wizard tournament. Yes, they had an age restriction. But even when Harry, who was underage at the time, was somehow entered (he didn’t do it), he still had to participate.

Regardless of the dangerous activities students can do without permission from their parents or guardians, they do need parental consent to visit the village, Hogsmeade, just a short, and safe walk from the school. People have pointed out how illogical that was. But that’s a different story.

Back to this. Although I don’t remember if it was stated in the book, in the “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” movie adaptation, the first-years don’t wear life jackets when on the boats to Hogwarts. The school also has the second task for the Tri-wizard tournament in the black lake, in February. Are wizards immune to hypothermia? Even if charms that prevent it exist (I’m not sure) and they’re in the black lake, there certainly couldn’t have been any in the pond Harry jumped into in “The Deathly Hallows.” And he took his clothes off, but came out okay.

It’s not just Hogwarts that doesn’t seem to be as concerned about safety as muggle schools or society would. In “The Chamber of Secrets”, Harry almost falls out of Ron’s dad’s flying car. If he just had his seatbelt on, that wouldn’t have happened. Plus, he was raised by muggles—the terrible Dursleys. As much as they despised him, they must have made him wear seatbelts in their car.

So, there you have it.

movie

That’s How You Know This “Enchanted” (2007) Critique Will Teach You My Thoughts on it

Warning: contains spoilers***

The story starts off with a princess named Giselle who longs to meet her prince, which is a usual fairytale. However, the evil sorceress and queen, called Narissa, forces Giselle into a place where there are no happily-ever-afters. That is real-life New York City. Giselle looks for help, and is found by a man named Robert. He lets her stay with him.

Now onto the moments I admired.

1: The musical numbers

The songs were fantastic. I enjoyed the “That’s How You Know” scene, especially the Calypso drumming moments done by the park musicians. The other numbers, such as the one at the beginning that Giselle sings, were also good.

2: The Plot Twists

One notable example is where Giselle rescues Robert from the Queen Narissa after she turns into a dragon. I appreciate fairytale twists straying away from the traditional approaches. In this instance, the princess rescues the male.

Another interesting twist is the ending. Although I didn’t think Nancy was so bad, Robert’s 6-year-old daughter, Morgan, doesn’t really like her. She enjoys Giselle more. So, Giselle ends up marrying Robert and Nancy weds the prince instead. I particularly loved when Nancy’s phone went off in the cartoon fairytale world and she acknowledged how she somehow received signal.

3: Giselle’s development

She starts off as a stereotypical Disney princess who acts very strangely, but grows into a different person when in the real-life world. She learns about dating, how love takes time, and develops feelings for Robert rather than the prince, whom she originally wanted to marry.

And now onto the parts that could have been improved.

1: Robert’s reactions to Giselle’s behavior in his apartment

Giselle does some pretty naughty things in Robert’s apartment, such as make clothes from his curtains, sing to call animals to do the chores, yet end up with bugs, rats, and pigeons, and more. But Robert’s reactions were too casual and relaxed. He would have kicked her out and reported her to law enforcement in real life. However, plot convenience mattered more.

2: Why did Giselle’s hair have to be cut?

When Giselle first appears, her hair flows to the waist and hip area. But when she goes to a ball near the end, it’s mid-back length. Yes, Morgan teaches her about neatness and makeovers. However, I don’t see the significance of Giselle’s haircut and why it needed to happen. I can’t imagine that it would have messed up the storyline had she not cut her locks.

I hope you enjoyed this critique. I would rate “Enchanted” 4.5 out of 5 stars.

fiction

7 is a Magic Number in “Harry Potter” and I Have 7 Unique Questions About it

I am not making up the fact that the number 7 plays an important part in the “Harry Potter” series. People have said it many times. There are 7 books in the main series, 7 Weasley siblings, 7 years at Hogwarts, 7 players per Quidditch team, and 7 horcruxes.

Anyway, here are 7 unique questions I have about the franchise.

1: Do Ilvermorny Students learn French and Spanish?

It was great to learn that there is an American wizard school. Everyone even got to learn about it in the 2016 film, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them.” However, it serves not only wizard children in the US, but also all of North America. That means Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

I did research on this school on a Wikia site and saw that they learn the same subjects British and Irish children learn at Hogwarts, like transfiguration, potions, and so forth. But if it’s all of North America, where some people speak Spanish or French, how do students and staff communicate with everybody?

2: Why aren’t national anthems sung before Quidditch games?

In real life, the country’s national anthem is always sung at sporting events before the games start. But in “Harry Potter”, no national anthem has been sung before Quidditch games. Obviously, muggle-borns know their country’s national anthems, but do kids who grew up in the wizarding world know them? Could the International Statue of Secrecy have gotten in the way?

3: Does Dumbledore know Harry’s handwriting?

When Harry’s name comes out of the goblet of fire in the fourth installment, everyone accuses him of cheating. But he didn’t enter. Someone else entered for him.

Although Dumbledore has a ton of responsibilities, and can’t keep track of every student’s information (such as their dates of birth), he seems to think Harry put his name in the goblet of fire right after it comes out.

I don’t remember if Harry’s handwriting was described. But does it really mimic or resemble similarities to the actual person who entered Harry into the Triwizard Tournament? At the very least, Harry would have recognized his own handwriting and may have convinced Dumbledore and everybody else that he didn’t recognize the handwriting on the parchment if it differed from the person who entered him.

4: Could Harry have forged Uncle Vernon’s handwriting for his Hogsmeade Permission Slip?

In “Prisoner of Azkaban”, Harry has his third year at Hogwarts. Third year students can visit the local village, Hogsmeade, as long as they have a parent or guardian’s permission. Harry convinces Uncle Vernon to sign his permission form, but he refuses unless Harry behaves. But Harry gets angry at Uncle Vernon’s sister, Marge, and he unintentionally causes her to blow up like a balloon and fly away. So, there went his chance of getting his form signed.

However, what if Harry forged Uncle Vernon’s signature? Yes, it’s dishonest. Maybe magic has a way of detecting forgery, but I could be wrong. While the trace detects underage wizardry, I can’t imagine that it or any other magic that monitors wizards tracks every action a magician takes.

5: Why is the age of consent 17 in the wizarding world?

Authors usually have reasons behind details in their stories, especially J.K. Rowling. She chooses names and other elements carefully and with meanings. But it seems to be a mystery to why wizards are legally adults when they turn 17.

6: Who takes care of the students’ animals when they’re in classes?

For some odd reason, students are allowed to bring animals. They have owls for delivering mail. They can also bring a cat or a toad (and a rat in Ron’s case until something about that changes). But where do the animals go when students can’t be with them? How do they act? When do they get their food, relieving breaks, and so forth?

While Hagrid is the gamekeeper, he can’t possibly take care of every single animal, especially cats since they make him sneeze. Hmmm…

7: What happens if a wizard child moves to another country?

When a wizard kid is born, his or her name is added to the respected wizarding school list of their nation. Obviously, they have to grow up and be 11 by September 1st before they can attend. But schools, like Hogwarts, are only available to children in the UK and Ireland.

So, my guess is that if a magician kid moves to another country, his or her name is crossed off the old school’s list and added to the new one. For instance, if a child moves from England to France, maybe their name is removed from the Hogwarts’ list and added to the Beaubaxtons list.

That’s it for all the questions I have about “Harry Potter” that I can’t find elsewhere.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: Why Hasn’t Anyone Been Nice to Harry Before His 11th Birthday?

Poor Harry is forced to live with abusive relatives for his own safety from Voldemort and death-eaters. Like many, I have wondered why no one has reported the Dursleys to authorities and why Harry hasn’t been taken away from them. Some say that the way the Dursleys treat Harry, especially making him sleep in a dirty cupboard under the staircase, would get social services involved. Others say it wasn’t bad enough for that. After doing extensive research, I found out the sad truth, besides that Dumbledore would block any muggle from taking Harry away from his relatives.

I came across an article that discussed child protection laws in the 1980’s, when Harry grew up (he was born in 1980). There were few cases reported and they involved deaths. It wasn’t until the 90’s that child protections laws became stricter and added more unacceptable ways of treating children. But if “Harry Potter” were set today, in recent years, or even the early 2000’s, I am pretty sure the way the Dursleys treated Harry would have gotten him involved with authorities long before Harry turned 11.

I also find it odd that Dumbledore gets to have a say in where Harry lives. Yes, Harry is placed there because of his mother’s protection and it’ll only work if he is with a blood relative of his mom. It remains there until Harry comes of age as long as he calls that place home.

But honestly, no child would call an abusive household “home.” I also don’t think any kid would really be safe in a home where they’re mistreated the way the Dursleys mistreat Harry. Frankly, I don’t think Harry is safe either way. I’ve read that a child who is abused can be in danger both physically and psychologically. That type of treatment can impact brain development.

Not only do I think it’s inhumane to force a kid to live with harmful people, like the Dursleys, but I also find it hard to believe that nobody would have felt sorry for someone like Harry. People have said that they found it bizarre that Harry’s abuse signs were overlooked when he went to muggle school. Some have said they weren’t surprised.

Since Little Winging was (probably) not a small town in the middle of nowhere, there had to be a lot of non-residents or new residents, whether they moved to the area, visited people they knew, worked there, and so forth. I am pretty certain that somebody would have noticed how horribly Harry was treated and wanted to take action. At least one or more people (excluding Hagrid) would have been kind to him and would have tried to help him. Or they would have wanted to.