Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lions and Turtles and kids books, oh my!

When I became a dedicated author I realized my love of sci-fi was not a blessing in my gift of writing. I let me fingers flow and discovered I was a Young Adult Lit writer. So I embraced it and my writing life has been so happy.

I really do adore turtles and lions. SO much so that I have an abundance of plushies, jewelry, etc (Turtle tattoo coming soon to an ankle near you!) Some of these have taken on “personalities”. My plushie High5 even has a facebook page because my friends like to see him “in action”. Seeing his personality unfold and the stories some friends and I make up for him, I thought “childrens book!” … well…. I have a whole new appreciation for authors of kid’s books. I thought to myself “I can write 250-300 page young adult novels. A 20 page children’s book should be a snap!” How very wrong I was. It seems much harder to convey a story in so few pages and such simple words. I admire those people in a way I never did before.

My turtle and lion love will live on in my fantasy YA novels as supporting characters, but Yoda knows making them a star in a kids book is one task I was not created for. It seems our genre’s truly do pick us. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nerd vs Geek – an internal conflict

The first thing I am is a writer. Basically it is write or die for me. Sometimes even interoffice memos become colored in floral adjectives and seasoned with spicy verbs.

Normally this pays off when I am trying to write a paper for college. The ability to bend words to my will can help me express knowledge of the material in ways that a rote memorization test simply can’t. If a class requires writing, I can pass it, and usually pass it well. (Unlike math which sucks my very will to live!) My GPA (3.45 currently) is very important to me so I work hard at college, which I attend full time while also working full time and being a single mom. Why yes, I am a fan of torture, thanks for asking!

Another talent/curse is that I can relate anything in the world to something geeky. I can find a way to make your spilled coffee relate to something Yoda said, or something Link fought in the Ocerena of time, or something Spock found on an away mission, or something Dumbledore told Harry in secret, etc etc etc.

What happens at times, though, is that my nerd self starts getting over run by my geek self. Last week I struggled hard. I even went public on Twitter and Facebook with my struggle. One of my classes this semester is Building a Sustainable Society – aka an environmental course. The topic at hand was a term paper on wildernesses that remain and how do we feel about their protection and destruction. Then we had to discuss any wilderness areas around us.

My first thought  (literally) was “Chocobo Forest!” At first I laughed at myself in a way of appreciation for my geeky humor. Then I started on a serious project. But the Chocobo Forest wouldn’t leave my brain. That’s when I hit the social networks. I really thought my interwebz people would remind my nerd side to take charge. I was so wrong. They fed the geek side. By the way, thanks for all the “Screw the grades, go for the geeky!” comments. You guys are the best enablers a girl ever had.  The struggle internally grew. Would my teacher appreciate some fictional world from Final Fantasy? What if I also included the Forest of Endor, or the Hundred Acre Wood, maybe the Forbidden Forest?? The possibilities were endless!

So was the risk of a B. Or worse.

In the end I stayed true to nerd and gave my very best and serious effort. (It paid off, I got a perfect 100% score.) Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would have still gotten a good grade if I included fictional places in a serious effort to explain why forests are needed.

I can’t help but wonder if my other nerdy/geeky friends find this conflict inside themselves as well. If so – what do you guys do about it? Which side wins?  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Most of us will agree with this man..

When I’m 80 years old and sitting in my rocking chair, I’ll be reading Harry Potter. And my family will say to me, “After all this time?” And I will say, “Always.” ~Alan Rickman

Monday, July 18, 2011

LeakyCon 2012

 I’ve been doing the convention scene (several a year all over the country) for almost a decade and I have never had the experience I had there. At first I was daring to say it was the best, but after coming down off the high (a little bit) I realize that saying it is better or best is a slap in the face to the other amazing conventions I go to. What I realized about Leaky is that it is just completely different. The attendees are different. The entertainment is different. Not better, just different. 

Before I get involved in the recap and thoughts, I need to share this: I couldn’t have done any of it without Scar and her husband Marcos. It would be a long story to get into but you need to trust me on this. I could sing a million words of praise and it wouldn’t be enough. If they hadn’t have worked the magic that they worked then the rest of this entry would be full of blank paragraphs. Now, let’s talk about the con! 

One of the highlights for me was seeing Draco and the Malfoys perform live in concert. They are the whole reason I got into Wizard Wrock. Of course my tastes have expanded to other groups, but they started it all. And they sing from the Slytherin perspective, and we all know I am Slytherin. And they often sing from Draco’s perspective and what mother (Narcissa!) doesn’t want to hear songs from her son. I actually got to meet Brian (lead singer) before the concert. He was just an incredible guy. I told him I tweet him often. He asked for my Twitter name. I told him and he nodded that he recalls it. I imagine that could be true and not be just flattery because not a lot of people who identify as Jedi also identify as Slytherin. It is a tricky combination to say the least. He even consulted me about what sing I loved the most by him and he said he would make sure it was on the playlist. The fangirl moment almost became me jumping up and down and clapping and squealing, but I managed to keep my cool and smile and say thanks. The performance was amazing!!!!!!!! I will tell you right now – Draco and the Malfoys are even better live than on their CDs. Seriously. If you like Wrock and you get a chance to see them – do so! If you aren’t a fan, you should be. Whether DATM are your thing or another group is, you should be listening to something. Hell, even Scar (the Gryffindor) was singing along to This Land Is My Land. They could have performed for hours and I would have stayed (we were all starving). 

I met a few other people I consider nerd celebrities/Harry Potter celebrities. Jason Munday was there (he was polite) and was the first person I saw. I also got to meet Alex Carpenter who was really awesome. I met Kristina Horner and she was amazing. She even signed a note for Tink after I explained what a huge fan my niece is but that she is nine and can’t drive herself to the con. I wanted to hug her but I worried I would break her. But we talked about her necklace and she was just so cool. She is proof that Sytherins don't have to be horrible people. I met Luke Conard and he offered to take off his shirt for me. I can’t tell you how much I wanted that to happen (and Scar said YES! DO IT!) But I wanted Tinks note more and I had already told him I needed 2 things. If I let him remove his shirt I would have had to forgo mine or Tinks autograph. …. DAMMIT! I could have forgone MINE! I was worried about Tinks. Shit shit shit. Oh well. 

I did not do this convention as Narcissa. It was strange being near all the HP people as a common Muggle instead of as my regal pure blood self. Also, it was a little nice to be relaxed instead of trying to keep my hair out of my eyes. (I’ve considered a new wig for my Cissy costume but I do love that one I wear, it just makes me crazy with the bangs.) I have stated a hundred times before that I hate how they dressed movie Narcissa. The dark hair is so wrong in every way. Staying true to my beliefs and to the books I will continue to do book Cissy. I know I don’t get as much recognition that way, but I just can’t change to the dark hair. I did wonder about the clothing she wore in the DH2 movie. It was much nicer than the couch covers she wore in DH1. Still, I don’t know. I always imagined her and Lucius dress from the same wardrobe. He is beautiful and wears bows – so it makes sense. I will likely just stick with my skirts and tops and cloak. Narcissa is the unsung hero. I owe it to her to do it right even if everyone else messes it up.

I did meet a Lucius and Draco there. At first I didn’t stop to say hello because I was not in costume. Then after watching them a few minutes I was extremely impressed with the way they really looked the part. Noses in the air, eyeing others who were beneath them (which is everyone of course), and other things like that. I was impressed. So I went over to say hello. They managed to stay in character attitudes even when talking about personal things (conventions we attend, me showing them the bookmark I bought, etc). I was pleased to find out they will be attending Dragon*con for the Yule Ball. I hope to see them there. Lucius told me how to find him on google. So far no luck. I have to say, and I may be out of turn here, but they seemed very connected. What the connection is, I can’t say, but there is a connection between them. I think it added to the cosplay. I have this gut feeling they are pretty cool people. Bonus: they like turtles!

I bumped into Andrew in his Moody costume. I spent a little while chatting with him (and of course getting a picture) talking about our mutual friends and Dragon*con before taking off with Scarlett and Marcos. 

That brings me back to Scar. Finally getting to meet my bestie in person was amazing. She was every bit as awesome in person, if not more so. And her husband is made of win. Those two were just the most awesome people I could have hoped to spend my weekend with. It was really like we had hung out in person for years. Nothing was awkward at all. If we lived closer I know we would hang out more. Hell, even if it was like a 6-8 hour drive we would hang out more, but halfway across the country is far. Also, Scar is someone everyone would be blessed to have in their lives. She is loyal and devoted as well as fiercely protective. People like her are a blessing. (And her and Marcos are the cutest damn couple ever.) I still think Marcos has some Slytherin in him somewhere but Scar says it was all for the greater good so it’s Gryffindor. I love those two! <3 

I met a guy. He’s a friend of Scar that she has known online. It was their first time meeting as well. He fit right in. He introduced himself as Joey, but she calls him Daniel. Since most of us have professional names, friend names, online names, etc I don’t find multiple names weird. I answer to DJ, Yume, Narcissa/Cissy, and of course my given name of Denise. Hell, some people still call me Neicy. Anyhow.. he’s a fellow writer. He plays guitar and sings. He’s generally awesome. 

I tried to see Mani while I was there but Mani couldn’t make it. But I did let him know just incase he was free. I miss him! (and Whit, and TJ, and all my Orlando peeps!)

I do wish Ash could have made it. Originally she had planned to come. I know how plans fall apart so there are no ill feelings at all, but I still wish she could have made it. Jade too. Oh hell, and my sister.. and Lana.. and this list is about to get huge. 

Inevitably I had to come home. I’m still high from the con. And sore. But it was worth every single moment. I assure you this post cannot capture the amazing experiences I had this weekend. I tried to keep all the spazzing OMG SO AWESOME I ALMOST DIED types of comments out of here so it doesn’t read like a 12 year old wrote it – but it was hard!!! Because it truly was OMG SO AWESOME I ALMOST DIED!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reflections on Harry Potter as DH.2 is set to debut..

Avid readers are usually the first to discover wonderful little known treasures and then have full bragging rights of “I told you to read that 2 years ago.” when the book blows up into a monumental success. I never got to have those bragging rights with Harry Potter. I was, in fact, extremely late to the party.

Of course I knew about Harry Potter. The first time I heard of it was when Sting arrived on the red carpet with his children and said they couldn’t wait to see Philosophers Stone because they had been reading the books as a family. Hm, a book Sting reads with his kids? Sounds interesting. I put it on my “to read” list.

But I didn’t get around to it straight away. In fact, I didn’t get around to it until the release of the final book. Shocking. I know.

I would read about my friends attending release parties. I am a fan of such parties so I fully applauded their dedication. Still, I didn’t have time to read all these books. I would “get to it later.”

Then something happened almost on accident. My daughter sent me a Sorting Hat quiz. I had a vague idea of what the Sorting Hat was, since Harry Potter mania was everywhere – I at least knew the basics. I took the quiz and got Slytherin. My friend Becky commented she was surprised since I am so much like Hermione. “Explain.” I asked. She replied “Hermione and you have a lot in common. You both study very hard. You both hang around with more boys than girls, but you don’t want people to forget you’re a girl. She is really loyal to her friends and she will stand up for what she believes in.” I smiled. This is certainly part of how I see myself. So the hat quiz was wrong since I am clearly Hermione who belonged to the house of Gryffindor.

Later that night I talk to my daughter and tell her Becky said I am like Hermione. My daughters reply was “A bossy know-it-all?” .. .. .. well that was certainly NOT the description Becky gave. Admittedly I am also a bossy know-it-all, but I had to get to the bottom of this Hermione thing.

Deathly Hallows had been released less than 2 full days when I Wiki’d Hermione. I know, I know, in hindsight that was a rather bad place to go. Still, most people on the net (read: except for a few douchebags) were kind enough to post spoiler alerts. I somehow forgot how some people are not so kind. So I dove into the article in Wikipedia about Hermione. I found out EVERYTHING about her. Even the end of the 7th book.

I didn’t realize at the time that I had read the ending. I skipped on over to the Houses section. By definition I was clearly Slytherin. I had some traits of the other houses, but when it came to it – I was Slytherin. I went back to the Hermione article and clicked the link to Lupin, who had caught my eye earlier. I nearly fell in love with him there on the spot. It was there that I realized I had read the ending. I clicked out of the browser fast.

That weekend I went to my sisters. She had the first few books and I borrowed them. I knew how the story ended, now I needed to know how they go to the ending. I read the two she loaned me but couldn’t wait to borrow the rest so I bought them. I read them like a starving person. I was so hooked.

The fandom came hard and fast for me. It was like I had been a fan forever. The complex worlds, the deep characters – it was just so amazing. I, like the rest of the world, wanted to go to Hogwarts.

Then I began to really explore more of the fandom by attending the Yule Ball at Dragon*con. I met some wonderful people there. People I still look forward to seeing every year.

I met people in another online place I went to. Some of those wonderful witches are still my friends to this day. I don’t know them in the flesh, but online. Still, online friendships can be very intense and very fulfilling. I love those girls.

Something about Harry Potter is that I get to indulge fully into the fandom. Like my Star Wars obsession, there are conventions, music, people playing dress up.. even other people who will do bad fake European accents with me when we are in costume.

I have attended midnight opening premieres in my tiny town with a very large group of friends on more than one occasion. For the Half Blood Prince premiere I even made the front page (Slytherin takes down a Ravenclaw!) of the newspaper. We take two rows of seats when we fill the theater. My Harry Potter peeps are amazing.

I tell my children that some day they can tell their children how they saw Harry Potter on the big screen at premiere openings. It’s an experience their children will not have (unless we some day get prequels! But that’s another blog.) I feel blessed to have seen Star Wars when it originally came, and now Harry Potter. I may have missed some things along the way (book release parties, the first few movies) but overall I still got to participate in this fandom. It is something I just hold so dear.

As a writer with a little world in my head, I sometimes try to imagine how emotionally overwhelming it is for Lady Rowling. The moments of seeing your characters come to life, seeing your world in full color on a screen 30 feet high, it must be the most amazing feeling in the world. I think I would cry of happiness all the time. But more so, one of my goals as a writer is to have other people fall in love with my characters as much as I love them. I want people to cry when they do, laugh when they do.. and Jo has achieved that. We love Harry and Hermione and Ron and Neville and Remus just as much as she does. That is what it’s all about. The money must be nice, but that isn’t all there is to it. It is so much more. She brought us a world that we love so passionately. Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, The Burrow, Malfoy Manor, all of those things are a gift to us. It is a gift that nobody can ever take away. It is a gift that will never get lost, never get chewed up by the puppies, never be stolen by an ex who “forgot” to return it. It is ours. Harry and his world will forever remain. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

The inside of my day planner.

My contact info is on the back cover.

(P.S. I am doing this from my phone so I hope the photo and text both show up.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In which Ems gives books away..

If you read, you should be following her.

I want to win the giveaway of epic awesomeness from @Darth_Chic!