Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Confessions of a Newbie Whovian

*First off, I'd like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope your Christmas and/or holiday season was as wonderful as it could be.*

So, in case you didn't realize from my previous entry, yes, I am a Whovian.  A new one, to be sure, but still a Whovian.

This wasn't my first experience with the Time Lord.  My grandfather used to have a pinball machine in his basement that I would play every time I visited.  The pinball game had the then mysterious title of "Doctor Who," including 8 different men identified as Doctors (at this point in my childhood, I didn't know about the laws of regeneration which governed the Time Lords).  I loved that game, and it broke my heart when my grandfather gave it away.

I recently got into the series itself after a vast majority of my friends, family, and Sigma Alpha Iota sisters (Love and Roses from Gamma Upsilon! <3) all got into it. They have all been fans of it for quite a while.  I saw it everywhere. In stores, on TV, on the Internet... everything and everyone around me was consumed by this fever caused, ironically enough, by a Doctor.

My younger sister Bridgette is one of the biggest Whovians I've ever met.  She would show me clips from the show.  She would always talk about this Doctor or that villain.  And so would several of my other friends and sisters.  As time passed, I began to become more and more fascinated with the large universe in the fandom, and the dedication of the fans to the show.  So, I decided to watch some clips and parts of the show on YouTube, to get myself acquainted with the series (this is something I usually do with every series/fandom I try out).

That was when I first met Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor.

I absolutely adored his performance (well, what I saw of it).  He was snarky and sassy, but could get things done when he needed to.  Eccleston's more serious side would later serve as the partial inspiration of my villain for my novel Gears of Golgotha (yeah, yeah, I know, bringing that stupid old thing up again haha).

So, now, here we are.  A short time after the 50th anniversary, and the evening of this year's Christmas special/regeneration from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi.  BBC America has been having a non-stop Doctor Who marathon all week to celebrate this very special occasion, and I've seen both of these.  I have to say, they were both the most fantastic and yet most heart-wrenching moments I have ever seen not only on television, but anywhere.  The characters were all so relatable, and there were moments where I found myself both smiling from ear to ear or on the brink of tears.  Each character had something special and unique to offer.  As for the extensive lore, I was able to catch on rather quickly.  Whatever I didn't get, I would just ask Bridgette, or some other Whovian friend, and they would more often than not be able to answer.  I admire Doctor Who not only for its creativity and endless possibilities, but for its heart, passion, and even humor that you can feel in every line, every scene, every character.  Every person involved has something unique to bring to the table.  It gives a depth to the characters that isn't possible in most other kinds of series.

Now, if anyone needs me, I'll be watching "just one more episode" of this classic series before I go to bed.


Bah, who am I kidding?  I'm probably going to be up all night.  Allons-y!

Love and Coffee cups,

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Where the Hell Did You Get "Gears," Anyway?

So, I know that my last several posts on here have been really heavy, deep, political, etc.  That's why I've decided to be a little more light-hearted for this entry.  You all know that I've really been talking up my new novel Gears of Golgotha.  I'm really proud of the progress I've made on this urban fantasy epic.  I spend every day (well, almost every day) trying to write at least 150 words (usually it's more) along with my cousin Amy (she has an awesome blog, by the way, called Letters to Daniel).  But where did it come from?

Like most stories, it began with a crazy night at my friend's house.  It was a Friday night.  Exhausted, I accidentally ended up crashing on my buddy's couch.  That night, I had a crazy dream about me flying through the air.  And I was flying towards these large gears.  Inside the gears was a tall, skinny man with dark hair and a pony tail.  He was wearing a lab coat, so I concluded that he must be a scientist.  The inside of these gears was similar to the inside of the TARDIS in Doctor Who.  In the dream, I could feel energy moving through me.  When I saw "my" reflection in the steel of the gears, I could see "my" long hair flaring out behind me, and I was surrounded in a gold light.  It was like magic. These gears, the scientist and I served some great purpose that I wasn't aware of, but one that I was desperate to find out.

When I woke up the next morning, I immediately took out my iPhone, opened up my Notes app, and began to record every detail I could remember from the dream.  By then, several of my other friends, who had stayed there as well, had woken up.  One of them asked why I was typing furiously into my phone.  I told them that I had a "badass dream" and that I wanted to write it down in the hopes that I could turn it into a story.

Before I knew it, we were sharing ideas for the story.  Mostly we discussed basic elements such as names and physical characteristics, but still, at least we were getting somewhere.  It was here where we decided on the names for my main characters and my villain, and the idea to incorporate magic and science into the story.

When I had shaped all of these ideas together, I had some idea of what I wanted for a novel.  It would be a sci-fi/urban fantasy that involved using magic and science in order to defeat a ruthless dictator.  But for some reason, I felt like something was... missing.  Never mind the fact that I had (and still have) an everlasting need to be original; there was no reason, no substance to drive the story along.  What was the relationship between the two?  How did the gears come into play?

Most importantly, why was I writing this in the first place?

At the time, I was still debating on what project to take on for NaNoWriMo 2013. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a challenge throughout the month of November where you have that whole month to write a novel (at least 50,000 words).  I didn't know whether to finish my murder mystery MARIA or to even attempt to give my novel (which at this point still had no name) the dimension and the originality I felt it needed.  All of that changed when I visited Amy close to a week or two before NaNoWriMo began.  I told her about my problem of figuring out what to do.  I told her about the ideas I had put together with my friends, and her face lit up.

"The question, though," I asked, "is why am I writing it?  I feel like it's missing something."

The rest of the hour was filled with intense brainstorming, spitballing, and eating (she had fixed a lunch for both of us earlier).  With each passing moment, I could practically feel my story gain dimension and depth; it was like watching a two-dimensional cartoon slowly but surely transform into a three-dimensional human being.  One thing that I will credit Amy on was how her interpretation of the main villain shaped my new novel.

I want to avoid giving out too many details on the novel, as I want all of you to be surprised with how it turns out (especially with the villain).  I think my previous entries have given you several nuggets for you to chew on about the tone and the type of story it will turn out to be.

I've been working on this story furiously ever since, especially over the past couple of weeks during my school's Winter Break.  I try to write 150 words every day, with Amy available on Facebook if I need any assistance.  Sometimes I land ridiculously high above the mark, and sometimes I miss it by just a few words. Either way, I am so excited as to how this story will turn out, and I think you all will be, too.

Love and Coffee cups,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The WHY of the World: The Reasons Why I Took Up "Gears of Golgotha"

*WARNING: This post is going to contain some opinions and statements that many may find disagreeable. I am aware that in writing this particular post, I will lose some readers and some followers. However, one of the reasons that I started this blog was to help keep myself balanced as I undergo treatment for Bipolar Disorder. The last thing I want is to drive my family apart due to a manic episode brought on by bottled-up rage.  If you are comfortable with this, keep reading.  If not, skip this post, and I'll see you next time.*

**First off, before I begin, I want to say thank you to all of my readers, followers, and those who have commented on my blogs previously.  You all have given me faith in this blog and in the fact that people actually care about what I have to say.  Just know that I care about what you all say, too.**

So, Duck Dynasty.  I've been hearing a lot about it.  I myself have never actually seen it (being a busy college student, the last time I actually sat down to watch television was my school's Fall Break back in October, and I was at home for that), but my friends and family are HUGE fans of the series.  They credit the show for having clean humor and for not shying away from the fact that the Robertsons are devout Christians (the end of every episode consists of a prayer over a home-cooked meal).

However, Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family, has recently come under fire for saying some rather... shall we say, distasteful things about the LGBT community.  These kind of comments aren't new to me.  Growing up in the South, I was aware of the whole "gay debate:" homosexuality is a sin, gays are going to hell, etc.  I even had these beliefs for most of my life.  It wasn't until high school that I really started questioning Christianity's position on LGBTs.

My official position on gay rights, and the reasons why I believe it, as of now are best saved for another post, as it's a really long, complicated story, but long story short, I think that every person should have the basic rights that Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and that marrying the man (or woman) you love is a vital part of that.  Pope Francis summed it up best when he said, "If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and is of good will, who am I to judge him?" (Of course, being a Christian isn't required to not judge them, but I still think that this is a wonderful quote.)

Was A&E right in banning Phil Robertson?  Well, honestly, I don't think that A&E even needed to do that in the first place; the LGBT community and their supporters would have done it for them by boycotting the show themselves.  If anything, banning Phil is nothing more than a marketing ploy to garner more support for Duck Dynasty's viewers.  When I checked my Facebook this morning, you have no idea how many posts I saw about how A&E was wrong in banning the patriarch.  It's what happened with Chick-fil-A, when their supporters crowded locations of the restaurant after the CEO said distasteful things about LGBTs, and now it's happening again.

But this post isn't about whether or not A&E was right.  It's not even about whether or not Phil was right. It's about this question: why are we labeling people in the first place?  In Gears of Golgotha, the people not only are divided, but they are labeled.  Chemists wear white lab coats, while Mages generally get an ornate tattoo on their arm.  Even among the Chemists, they are separated into sub-groups; on the breast pocket of the lab coats are symbols based on where that particular Chemist works.  Hammers for the Construction Division, a flower for the Botany Division, a cornucopia for the Food Division, etc.  You can clearly tell who is considered "the other."

And that's exactly what people are doing today.  Whether you watch Fox News or MSNBC, the people on each of these programs will identify what groups constitute "the other" and should be avoided or persecuted. Hell, some "Christians" are even banning certain groups from helping with charity work (personally, if this is what it takes to be a Christian, then I want no part of it).  We humans have a natural tendency to avoid things that are different; I dare say that we fear them.  Of course, this concept isn't new.  But it's sad that we only talk about how to make the world a better place, and never do anything.

That's why I'm writing Gears of Golgotha: to make people realize that labeling people isn't going to go anywhere.  Whether we are Christian or atheist or Republican or Democrat or straight or LGBT, we are all the same.  We are all human.  If we're going to make this world better, we need to drop the labels and work together.  New Pangaea got it half right by becoming one global group of humans.  We need to take care of the rest.

Love and Coffee cups,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Too Bad to be Good, Too Good to be Bad: How "Gears of Golgotha" is Part of Me

"Arms wide open, I stand alone
I'm no hero, and I'm not made of stone
Right or wrong, I can hardly tell
I'm on the wrong side of Heaven, and the righteous side of Hell"

Five Finger Death Punch, "Wrong Side of Heaven"

You ever get that feeling?  That feeling that you just can't fit in anywhere?  That you're too good to be bad, but too bad to be good?

Well, that's the feeling that I have.  Not only am I the one of the only liberals in my immediate family, but at school, I just can't seem to fit in the circles that some feel are the "good" ones.  Officially, I identify myself as a Christian. But because of the ugly things that we Christians have done not only over the past 30 or so years, but for centuries, and the impact that these ugly things have had on friends and family that Christians today identify as "the other" (i.e., LGBT, non-Christians, Middle Eastern people, etc.), it's rare that I find myself attending church unless I'm with family or on holidays.  And even then, I get this sick feeling in my stomach, like I don't belong there.  I have friends who the "goody-goods" I used to identify with in high school would say come from "the wrong side of the tracks."  Hell, my boyfriend is neither a Christian nor does he make perfect grades, and yet we've been together for almost eight months (considering that I've never had a relationship that has lasted for more than six months without it becoming dangerously unhealthy, I regard this as an accomplishment). So, yeah, whenever I listen to the song "Wrong Side of Heaven" by Five Finger Death Punch, mixtures of empathy and guilt consume me.

For those of you who may not know, I am working on a new novel called Gears of Golgotha.  In the distant future, humanity has been divided into Mages and Chemists, practitioners of magic and science, respectively.  The main character, Erin, is training to be a Chemist, but she doesn't feel like she belongs in the perfect, cookie-cutter world of the Chemists.  Top it off with the fact that she gains magical abilities a few chapters in, and she definitely feels like she's all alone.  The Chemists have done ugly things to the Mages since the founding of the global nation of New Pangaea, and even before that, too.  But when she tries to see things from the Mages' point of view, she realizes that the Mages are the same, too.  She feels as though she can't belong anywhere.

The more I write of my new novel, the more I realize that Erin is basically my mirrored reflection.  No matter what circle she finds herself in, she can never feel like she belongs.  She's a Chemist with magical abilities; it's no wonder that neither the Chemists nor the Mages completely trust her.  And that's exactly like me.  At least, that's how I feel sometimes.  I have a foot in both worlds, and because of that, it's no wonder that some people don't trust me.  I'm a liberal in a family of conservatives.  I'm a Christian who would rather only listen to the words in red.  I'm a "goody-good" with a "bad boy" boyfriend.  I don't know if it's normal or not, but sometimes I feel that I barely have any friends in the world because of it.

In the end, Erin's quest in Gears of Golgotha isn't to find love or save the world.  It's to find a place where she, and people like her, can belong.  I guess that's what makes Erin so relatable.  I've learned over the years that a lot of people in the world feel like me.  There's a Facebook page that I'm a part of called The Christian Left, which basically combined the feelings that I have for both politics and Christianity.  I've managed to maintain a steady job as a tutor while keeping my relationship healthy.

So for those of you who are reading this, who feel exactly like Erin and I do, don't give up.  You will find a place where you belong.  You are a unique snowflake.  Be proud of it.

Love and Coffee cups,

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Balancing Act

So for those of you who may not know, not only am I an aspiring author, but I am also a college student.  I am studying to become a high school English teacher.  But balancing my dreams of landing on The New York Times Bestseller List as well as the more immediate goals of passing my classes often collide.  As a result, I often leave projects untouched for weeks at a time, and sometimes I even end up leaving projects unfinished.  Not only that, but I was also recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and the stresses of medical issues, college life, and my dreams all weigh on my shoulders.  At times, I feel like the best thing for me to do is just give up.

But then I remember reading The Cat in the Hat when I was a child.  In the book, there is a picture of the Cat balancing on a beach ball, while at the same time holding a menagerie of items, from cakes to umbrellas to books.  Hell, he even balances the children's pet goldfish on top of the umbrella!  And I realize that life is a balancing act.  We often find ourselves feeling like the weight of the world is on our shoulders.  While our lives aren't perfect, they are precious.  And we can't give up on something that means so much to us just because of outside stresses.

That is ultimately what keeps me going.  So, I may be struggling with medical issues.  So, I have a busy college life.  But that doesn't mean that I will give up on my dreams.  I know this post probably sounds cheesy as hell, but it's something that I've been needing to tell myself for a long time.  I can't let anything push me down.  I will keep going.

And mark my words. One day, you will see me on The New York Times Bestseller List. I'll make sure of it.

Love and Coffee cups,