Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Favorite Screen Characters Tag

Hark, I have been tagged by Victoria Grace Howell! The rules are simple:

-List your ten favorite screen characters (from movies and TV; but since I don’t really watch TV, we’ll stick to movies).

-Tag ten other bloggers.

Narrowing it down to only ten—that part is not so simple. I could list twice as many. In fact, it would be so much easier if we could define the category further. Ten favorite superheroes, for example. Or ten favorite female characters, male characters, animated characters, villains, supporting characters, funny characters, or favorite despised characters! I mean, really, I have at least ten favorites in all those categories. Probably more.

But I am forced to pick just ten. *le sigh* Here we go!

1.      CAPTAIN AMERICA: Favorite. Superhero. Ever. He’s upright and courageous, one of the only heroes who consistently holds to his morals. (Not the only one, but pretty close.) He’s not perfect, but he does his best. Grounded in “old-fashioned” values, he does his job with humility and commitment. Plus, he’s got the best one-liners.

"I know I'm asking a lot. But the price of freedom is high. It always has been.
And it's a price I'm willing to pay. And if I'm the only one, then so be it.
But I'm willing to bet I'm not."

2.     TOOTHLESS: I adore dragons, and an uber-fast dragon with powerful breath, adorable personality, and an affinity for fish will instantly steal my heart. Look at that face—how can you not love that face? I want my own Toothless.

3.     BILBO BAGGINS: I confess, I have a bit of hobbit in me. Home is my favorite place in the world, and I enjoy the comforts found there. So, like Bilbo, I sometimes need a Gandalf to knock on my door and drag me into an adventure. All that aside, Martin Freeman pulled off Bilbo’s character perfectly. His mannerisms and personality—everything. And our dear little hobbit turns out to have a giant load of courage.

"I just need to sit quietly for a moment."
4.     SPIDER-MAN: I specifically mean the amazing Spider-Man. (Don’t get me wrong, Tobey Maguire really brought out Spidey’s awkward and geeky side. That’s lovable. But the new Spider-Man played by Andrew Garfield is just awesome.) Cap may be my top favorite hero, but Spider-Man comes pretty close. He’s young, he makes mistakes sometimes, but he puts his life on the line for the sake of helping others. And his humor. Oh, his humor.

"I like to think Spider-Man gives people hope."

5.     WINNIE THE POOH: I know, he doesn’t seem to be in the same league as superheroes, dragons, and burglar hobbits, but this bear with a very little brain has a special place in my heart. I have never outgrown the Hundred Acre Wood; I’ve laughed harder at Pooh movies in the last five years than I did as a child. Pooh is a rather straightforward sort of person: the most important things in life are honey and friends. Silly old bear.

"Think, think, think..."
6.     FLYNN RIDER, a.k.a EUGENE FITZHERBERT: This guy is impossible to dislike. He’s handsome, charming, full of himself, hilarious, and deep down . . . a really great guy with a soft heart. He may have started out with ulterior motives, but in the end, he sacrifices for the one he loves. And did I mention he’s hilarious?

"They just can't get my nose right!"
7.      EUSTACE CLARENCE SCRUBB: Aha, so not all of my favorites are the nice guys. Eustace is a complete brat, at least at first. But he’s the kind of brat you love to despise, until he begins to change, and then somehow, you find yourself liking him quite a bit. His character arc is fabulous. (And I was very sad to see the Narnia movies halted, because I so wanted Will Poulter to play in The Silver Chair.)

"That giant rat thing just tried to claw my face off!"

8.     LUCY PEVENSIE: Can I list two from the same storyworld? Lucy is an amazing girl. Her faith in Aslan never wavers, even when she can’t see him, even when others doubt, even when it doesn’t make sense. And if it wasn’t for her, the Pevensies would never have found Narnia! Oh, and her struggle with temptation in Voyage of the Dawn Treader is also inspiring, as she learns to accept herself and goes on to encourage another girl to do the same.

"When you grow up, you should be just like you."

9.     TADASHI HAMADA: What a hero! And he officially broke my heart. I won’t give any spoilers, but . . . he did make me cry. I’m not a very weepy movie-watcher, but his role in Big Hero 6 was a bit of a tear-jerker. He’s a great older brother to Hiro, protecting him, teaching him, looking out for him. Tadashi is the kind of big sibling that I aspire to be.

"Welcome to nerd school, nerd."

10.  LOKI: See, here’s another really not so nice guy. Loki has got to be one of my favorite villains. There’s just no explanation needed. He’s terribly evil, yet with a sympathetic backstory, and in the middle of his diabolical plots, he manages to make me laugh. Is that not perfect? He is also an extremely quotable character.

"You'll kill me? Evidently there will be a line."

That was hard! I have so many other characters that almost made the list. Brave ones like Katniss Everdeen or Captain Nichollsen of War Horse or Gandalf. Funny ones like Larry the Cucumber, Radagast the Brown, Olaf, Gru and his minions, Dory of Finding Nemo, Mater, Jack Sparrow, and Baymax. Heartbreaking ones like Bucky. Inspiring ones like Aslan. Miscellaneous ones like Thranduil, Jack Frost, Mary Poppins, Gwen Stacey, or Diaval of Maleficent. So many!

(And I just realized how few girls actually made my top ten—only Lucy. Hm. That makes it sound as if I don’t like the female characters, which is completely untrue. Somehow the males dominated this list.)

On to the tagging! I choose these wonderful gals:
To all you adventurers: who are some of your favorite screen characters? Do any of the ones on my list make yours too? Regale me!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Things I Learned As a Child - Part 1

I was laughing with my family the other day about some of the silly things I did as a kid. This, of course, is an extensive topic. Later on, as I was thinking over it, I realized that many of my miniature disasters and tiny discoveries have imparted nuggets of wisdom. Perhaps you'll find reason to chuckle along with me over the wonderful, silly, ridiculous, profound things a little girl's experiences can lead her to conclude.


When preparing to blow a fluffy dandelion, don’t inhale with the dandelion close to your mouth.

Slapping the gym teacher is a mean thing to do.

Mysteries should be written backwards; it helps to know the end before you write the beginning.

Teenagers are very loud and very weird (but can be successfully ignored if one has a book to disappear into).

Dads are the scariest—and funnest—people with whom to play hide and seek in the dark.

Knowing to start from zero, not one, when counting laps gives you an entire lap in which to be embarrassed as you run alone and your classmates all sit down. (But then you get the satisfaction of them having to run one more lap while you are done.)

Babysitters just don’t do it like Mom does.

Standing up on your bike pedals to try to peer over a tall fence as you ride by results in scraped knees.

So does biking too fast down a hill with gravel at the bottom.

So does trying to ride back onto a raised sidewalk, after so courteously steering off to avoid pedestrians. Oh yes, and torn shorts may also be a by-product of such a stunt. (I cheated—this I learned as a teenager. But we teenagers do, on occasion, behave like children, so it still counts.)

Fire drills are scary.

Stepping on certain school hallway tiles and avoiding others does not prevent the next fire drill from occurring.

Books are picture windows into countless worlds.

Fruit juice, ketchup, water from the pickle jar, maple syrup, and other miscellaneous liquids combined do not a tasty beverage make.

Sixth graders are big kids.

The minute you enter first grade, kindergartners look tiny.

My house does not have any secret passages. (Trust me, I looked.)

The only mysteries to be had are ones like “The Mystery of the Missing Sock,” never “The Mystery of the Haunted Stairwell,” or “The Case of the Ancient Treasure Chest.”

Mysteries of missing socks are not worth being paid two dollars to solve. They’re not even worth solving at all.

Secret clubs formed with friends have a tendency to last no more than about two weeks.

Crying does not make the history test go away.

There is more than one flat-nosed bus in the world. (This deserves an explanation: My first day riding the bus to kindergarten, my dad told me to remember the number printed on the side so that I’d get on the right bus after school. In a panic, I told him I couldn’t remember that number all day. He said, “Okay, then just remember to get on the bus with a flat nose.” Little did we know the school had two flat-nosed buses. And of course I boarded the wrong one. Two buses were late delivering their children that day.)

Swapping names and snowsuits with your friend during recess does not keep people from recognizing who you really are.

Brothers don’t appreciate your hairdressing skills.

Standing in the playground and waiting for someone to talk to you is a lousy way to make friends.

Boys that chew pencils, or chase you around with boogers, or flick paint onto the back of your shirt . . . They’re just plain annoying.

That little ditch that runs between two houses on your street is not a secret path. It’s someone’s property.

Cycling barefoot in the rain is fun.

Turning ten is a little bit sad because you’re leaving single digits behind forever.

Every birthday party must have a theme, even if it’s as lame as “polka-dots and stripes.”

It is possible to have more than one best friend.

Best friends don’t have to live next door.

Flip-flops are terrible running shoes.

Riding the little red wagon down the gopher-hole-riddled hill—and letting your cousin steer—is maybe not the best idea.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Venturing Into the Woods

Note: This is not a review. This is merely a gathering of my thoughts, and is not meant to be comprehensive. You can find an excellent content review here.

Recently I watched Into the Woods, and came away . . . conflicted. I love fairy tales, and I generally enjoy musicals, but aside from those general labels, I had few expectations. That’s probably a good thing, because a few weeks later, I still can’t make up my mind about it.

The movie begins delightfully, introducing multiple story threads and drawing them all toward the perilous Woods. The rich scenery and costuming, clever lyrics, and vibrant characters had me grinning as I settled deeper into my seat, eager to see the many threads collide.
Empty-headed Jack trudges into the Woods to bring his beloved cow to market.
Cheeky Red Riding Hood marches into the Woods to deliver goodies to her ailing granny.


Wistful Cinderella heads into the Woods to visit her deceased mother’s grave.

The desperate Baker and his Wife rush into the Woods to hold up their end of a bargain with a witch, who says she’ll give them the child they long for if they gather certain items.

And somewhere deep in the Woods, lonely Rapunzel languishes in a tower.

A fascinating web, is it not? Especially when the items the Baker and his Wife are supposed to gather happen to be:

·        A cow as white as milk

·        A cloak as red as blood

·        A slipper pure as gold

·        Hair as yellow as corn

You see where this is going, don’t you?

It’s this couple’s quest that tangles all these stories together. And it’s rather enjoyable to watch the tales interact and intertwine the way they do. (I found the Baker to be one of the most endearing characters.)

But the final act ruined it.

Just when the story seems to be wrapping itself up nicely, everything comes crashing down. The plot slogs into tedium, the songs stretch out a few too many verses, and in the end, no one gets a truly happy ending.

As a member of the audience, I was left frustrated and restless. “That’s how you end it?” I thought. With a dragged-out finale? With characters left to a bittersweet conclusion at best, a miserable existence at worst? Can there not be at least one happy ending?

That’s my viewer’s opinion.

My writer side, however, feels differently. First of all, this tale rang truer than a lot of sugary, Disney-fied movies. (Yes, this was a Disney film too, but it felt more darkly realistic. Definitely a Grimm flavor.) Characters made choices, and those choices had consequences. There were profound messages on parenthood, the cost of obtaining one’s desires, and growing through trying circumstances. So as a teller of tales, I can see how the movie drives home an important point. It’s not a happy point, but it is something worth paying attention to. As a writer, I appreciate how the story played out.

If the pacing had been faster/smoother, I would have been mostly satisfied. I wish the plot had culminated more efficiently. But “wishes come true, not free.” And so I’m left to ponder these matters, a whirlwind of issues even the Witch would be proud of.

What about you? Have you seen Into the Woods? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, what do you think about unhappy endings in general?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

777 Writing Challenge

The ever-delightful Deborah O’Carroll has tagged me for the 777 Writing Challenge. (Shout out to you, Deb, for giving me my first tag!) I’m supposed to go to the seventh page of my current work-in-progress, seven lines down, and then post the following seven lines. I’m interpreting ‘lines’ as sentences.

My WIP happens to be Book One of that secret project hinted at on my Writings page, but this tag was too fun to pass up, so I’ll divulge a snippet anyway.

Ever since I saw this tag floating around the blogosphere, I wondered what sort of epic scrap of story I might land on.

And what I landed on was not at all a good representation of my novel. Nothing’s wrong with the snippet at all; it’s just somewhat ambiguous, taken out of its context the way it is. It features my female protagonist, Aileen, and one of her closest friends. That friendship plays only a small part in the grand scheme of things—like I said, not the best representation of the story.

Couldn’t I have landed on something a little more enticing? Ah, well, enticing or not, here it is:


Brenna tossed her thick, blonde hair over her shoulder. “Anyway. Do continue.”

“He just asked me the names of my parents and both sets of grandparents.”

“That’s it?”

“Well, then he said that we seemed to care a lot about human trafficking.” Aileen rested her head on the back of the seat. “No mention of dragons though.” It was true—he’d never talked about the shapes that had appeared.


(Yes, that was nine sentences, not seven. It worked better that way.)

There’s a twist on the rules that allows one to go the seventh chapter, seven pages in, seven lines down, etc. So I tried that. The result is more interesting, but a tad spoilery. Kind of. Well, okay, it involves things that will probably be revealed on the back cover one day, so I guess I’m just being paranoid. I can cheat and post two snippets, right?

A short introduction: main characters Josiah and Aileen have just been called hatchlings by their trainer, who happens to be a dragon. Josiah and Aileen also happen to be dragons at this point, but that involves the spoilery thing I mentioned so . . . that’s all I’ll say for now.


Josiah stood and swung his tail gingerly. It didn’t feel broken, just bruised.

“That’s not what you are, though.” Dauntless inhaled deeply. “I only used that term to motivate you to prove me wrong. It’s like calling you infants, understand? Now it looks as if I’ll have to find a new term, one that’s actually lower than the age your behavior suggests!”


There you have it! I did break a couple rules along the way, but this way you get two glimpses into my secret project. Together they provide a slightly better feel for the book than the first one did on its own.

Now would be the time I tag seven more bloggers, but let’s make it a free-for-all this time, shall we? To all you wanderers: feel free to grab this tag and run with it! And if you do, be sure to let me know in the comments. I’d love to see what sort of snippets you might land on.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Scandal of Grace

Can you imagine? The God you worship has put skin on and walked among you. He has touched you, eaten with you, healed you, taught you, laughed with you, cried with you, lived with you. Now He shoulders a cross up a hill and dies for you.

Darkness falls.

Shattered, you stagger away from that hill of blood and death and suffering. Nothing will ever be the same again. The greatest love you’ve ever known is dead and gone. All is lost.

Days pass in a blur of numbness. You have no tears left.

But on the third day, light bursts forth. A tomb opens wide, and its bowels are empty. And look! There He stands—alive. How can this be?

Suddenly, words come rushing back, things He said and did that made little sense at the time, but now brim with color and meaning. The events fall into place and your blind eyes now see how everything has come together.

After centuries of trying and failing to keep the law, it is fulfilled. After years of distance, years of inadequacy, years of judgment . . . at last it is finished. One perfect sacrifice, undeserved, has turned everything around. The curtain is torn in two. No longer is that holy place of God reserved for the select priests. Now anyone can walk into His presence boldly.

Now you can.

Death’s reign is over, its power conquered. You weep from the sheer beauty of it all as His scarred hands pull you into an embrace. You never deserved this. You’ve spent your whole life trying to scrub away your filth, but Love has cleansed you, bought you with blood.

You should have bled out on that cross to atone for your wrongs, and yet you didn’t. He did. Perfect, blameless, He died a criminal’s death so you can walk free.

There are no words for this, only gratitude. You lean back and smile at Him through the tears because now, truly, nothing will ever be the same again.

Innocence slain. The guilty absolved. A curse broken.

This is a scandal of grace.
Grace, what have You done?
Murdered for me on that cross
Accused in absence of wrong
My sin washed away in Your love
Too much to make sense of it all
I know that Your love breaks my fall
This scandal of grace—You died in my place so my soul will live
 —Scandal of Grace, Hillsong United