Last year, I shared a post about the lessons I’ve learned from my mother and how they inspire my writing. Today, I’d like to honor my other greatest role model with the most important lessons he’s taught me and how I apply them to my fiction. My family has played a large role in my life choices as well as my creativity, and much of that is thanks to the wisest man I know: my father!
So this week, I’d like to dedicate my creative writing post to the man who lovingly raised me by sharing three of my favorite lessons from him that inspire my stories. Enjoy, and thanks for the inspiration, Dad!
1) Real men respect women.
There’s a lot of debate around the question of what constitutes “being a man”. Some people measure masculinity through physical strength, others through intelligence or courage, and still others through power or wealth. Many even claim that the only requirement to make a man is a Y chromosome. My dad, however, seems to have his own idea of what it means to be a man. He’s not a big fan of sports (unless you count the tennis game in Wii Sports), he values wisdom coming from anyone, and he considers people who show off their wealth petty and obnoxious. In truth, the only men I’ve ever heard him call “not real men” are those accused of mistreating women.
If I learned anything from my dad, it’s that a real man knows his worth shouldn’t be measured by the power he can exert over women, but by how well he thrives when on equal footing with them. My whole life, my father was the only man in the house (even most of our pets were female!), yet from the respectful way he always treated his wife and daughters, I know any brothers I might have had growing up would be just as chivalrous today. That’s why the male heroes in my stories are always gentlemen who treat their female peers as equals and never look down on them in any way (the same can’t always be said for the villains). It’s a lesson my dad has been teaching me for as long as I can remember, and one I continue to work into my fiction to this day. If I expect to be treated decently by the men in my life, my heroines must demand no less from the men in theirs!
2) Whatever you do in life, strive to be happy.
One piece of advice my dad always gave me and my sisters was to “be happy”. That may sound vague, but what he really meant was that we should always make choices that lead to a positive and fulfilling life, in every possible aspect. Pursue a career in something you love doing. Marry a person – not “man”, “person” – who loves and respects you. Avoid people and situations that make you miserable. Tackle the problems you can solve and let go of the ones you can’t. In a nutshell, every decision must be made with a single clear goal in mind: being a happier person.
So I’ve tried to make choices that benefit my happiness. I’ve pursued writing and science because I love both. I’m in a relationship with someone who makes me laugh and who treats me like royalty. I work hard for the things I want and try to get past the things that make me unhappy (hard as it is much of the time). And I apply the same lesson to my stories: I give my characters clear ideas of what they want in life and the courage to jump through every hoop imaginable to get it. I once wrote a protagonist who was ready to throw everything else in her life away for the one thing she desired. Why? Because she knew it was the only thing that would make her happy.
As a writer, I’ve come to realize my father has essentially been telling me to be the heroine of my own comedy. And as long as I’m willing to pursue happiness above all else, my characters will continue to do the same.
3) A woman’s father is the most important male figure in her life.
Every girl, no matter how many strong women surround her, still needs a man in her life to serve as an example of what she should expect from all the other men she ever meets. Brothers, uncles, grandfathers, and even male friends can provide some insight, but no man is more influential in a woman’s life than her father. He’s the man who raised her, who watched her grow up, who was always there for her (or in many cases, wasn’t). He’s the first man who ever loved her and the only one guaranteed to love her forever. How can any other man hope to compare?
Princess Merida sharing a laugh with her father, King Fergus (Brave, 2012)
More often than not, the way a girl interacts with her father growing up will set the standard for how she interacts with men throughout her adult life. The relationship I have with my dad is one of my most valuable family ties because he’s more than just a cool dad to me; he’s a mentor and a friend. Our bond has made me the woman I am today and has served as inspiration for several father-daughter relationships in my fiction, and his wisdom continues to guide me and influence my stories about family. I’ve learned much from my mother and sisters, but my connection with my father will always be exceptional!
What about you? Have you ever been creatively inspired by your father’s lessons? What sorts of stories or poetry has he inspired?
Today’s post is dedicated to my father, whose love and lessons have always been a wonderful inspiration to me. Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!
Valentine’s Day is around the corner, which means many of us creative writers are thinking more than ever about romance (at least, I am). All the talk of love in the air has gotten me thinking about my favorite love stories and the characters who bring them to life. February is the perfect month for romantic inspiration, so it’s no wonder I always take this time to indulge in stories about my favorite fictional couples. To be honest, there are probably too many to count, but I’ve managed to narrow my current favorites down to a few that I’d love to write about!
So to celebrate the upcoming holiday, here’s a list of six of my favorite fictional couples and why I love them. Enjoy, and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Warning: the following post may contain spoilers for Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, and The Hunger Games. Proceed with caution.
1) Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet
Could I really have started with any other couple? Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet has long been my favorite love story, so much so that I’ve written a post about it every year since I started blogging and even adapted the story into my own novel-length fanfiction (not sorry). It’s a tragic tale of passion thwarted by fate, and it may well be the most famous love story ever told.
Romeo and Juliet started out as lost and lonely teenagers who quickly found meaning for their lives in each other. They defied a generations-old feud through a forbidden love affair, complete with consummated marriage and the determination to be together at all costs. And though they didn’t get the happy ending they arguably deserved, they did immortalize themselves as the star-crossed young couple whose love finally ended years of violence and hatred. Love may not conquer all, but it’s still one of the most powerful forces on Earth!
2) Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger
To anyone who knows me well, it’s no secret that the Harry Potter books have been my favorite series since childhood. I grew up with J.K. Rowling’s beloved fantasy books and have been in love with her magical world for most of my life. Each new book was better than the last, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I reached the second half of the series to find she had tossed the exact romantic subplot I wanted into the mix.
Ron and Hermione had a rocky start to their relationship, even as friends. Every Potter fan who read the entire series watched them grow from disgruntled acquaintances to close friends to jealous crushes to will-they-or-won’t-they admirers to romantic couple to happily married couple. It’s the perfect example of a childhood friend romance gone right, and Rowling couldn’t have done a better job of timing this beautiful love story all the way to its satisfying conclusion. Best friends forever indeed!
3) Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy
I finally got around to reading Pride and Prejudice last year, and I have to say it’s such a delightful story that I’ve ranked it among my favorite books ever. The story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is a complex tale of true love concealed beneath (and often obstructed by) a veil of manners and morality, with a hint of irony to comically highlight the incongruence between a charming demeanor and a good heart. These two are the ultimate proof that when it comes to romance, first impressions don’t matter as much as character, assuming both parties are willing to open their minds to humility and their hearts to the possibility of love where it’s least expected. Jane Austen was truly a master of romantic comedies!
4) Monica Geller and Chandler Bing
Ross and Rachel may have been the star couple of Friends, with their ten-season-long will-they-or-won’t-they story that culminated in a heartwarming “they will” (“I got off the plane!“), but my favorite romance in the series was the far more stable relationship between Monica and Chandler. After hooking up the night before Ross’s wedding in England, these two best friends embarked on a beautiful journey of love that became the saving grace of the show. You didn’t think viewers would hang around for ten seasons just to see Ross and Rachel get together for good, did you?
Monica and Chandler are a classic example of a romantic experiment that worked. While Friends didn’t start with the expectation of getting them together, their chemistry was so great from the earliest seasons that their entire relationship, from friendship to happy marriage, just felt natural and real. Sometimes true love really has been right in front of you all along!
5) Marshall Eriksen and Lily Aldrin
While diehard fans of How I Met Your Mother are still arguing over which couple was better in the Ted-Robin-Barney love triangle (Ted and Robin FTW!), I’m sure everyone can agree that Marshall and Lily were the most adorable pair in the series. Not only were they college sweethearts and each other’s first love, they maintained a loving and (mostly) stable relationship all the way to the show’s conclusion. From engagement to marriage to parenthood, these two continuously took on the challenges of a committed relationship and kept knocking them out of the park. And let’s be honest: while we all waited nine seasons for Ted to finally get to his happy ending, wasn’t it fun to watch Marshmallow and Lily Pad already living theirs? Seriously, cutest couple ever!
6) Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark
I admit it: I was one of the Hunger Games fans who cheered for Katniss and Peeta from the start. Not that I had anything against Katniss and Gale; I just preferred the dynamic between the two characters who were thrown into the Games together. Katniss has a strong spirit, which often manifests as a hardened demeanor and a refusal to show weakness through emotion. Peeta, on the other hand, is considerably softer and more sensitive, though no less strong in spirit than his fellow tribute. Their chemistry not only makes for an interesting relationship but a refreshing departure from the stereotypical “strong man, weak woman” pattern. An innovative love story for the novels’ young adult audience!
Over the course of three books/four movies, District 12’s “star-crossed” duo endure two Hunger Games and a revolution, through which they evolve from acquaintances to allies to a fake couple and finally emerge as a real couple in love. They go to hell and back for the greater cause at hand, but draw enough strength from each other to never lose themselves on the way (at least, not completely). So when these two finally earn their happy ending, you know it’s a love that’ll last. It seems the odds were in their favor after all!
What about you? Who are your favorite fictional couples? What love stories inspire your romantic fiction?
Welcome to the second part of my top ten list of books to read in 2017! Looks like another Goodreads reading challenge is on the horizon! If you haven’t yet, feel free to check out the first half of my list from last week. Otherwise, enjoy!
6) Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Here’s another selection from last year that I didn’t get around to reading in 2016. Hopefully I’ll have better luck with it this year! Wuthering Heights has been on my to-read list for a while, even before I received a copy as a gift some years ago. With quite a few dystopian novels making it on my list for 2017, I’m sure a break for historical fiction will be more than welcome!
7) The Martian by Andy Weir
After indulging in so many historical novels last year, it’s time I start picking up more science fiction. After watching this movie in 2015 and loving it, I decided to read the book on which it was based, though it would still be a while before I could get my hands on a copy. Now that I’m starting a new chapter of my life and should have a little more free time, I look forward to adding The Martian to my list of reads for 2017!
8) Shogun by James Clavell
This book was recommended to me by my parents, both of whom read it a long time ago and loved it. The fact that they want me to pick it up is a sign of how well they know me, because one of my greatest obsessions in life has long been the culture and history of Japan! Maybe it’s the fact that I’m part Japanese myself, but something about the country just draws me in and intrigues me to no end. It’s a long read for sure, but if I find the time this year, I’d love to give Shogun a try!
9) The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Here’s another selection that made it onto my list by recommendation, in this case by my boyfriend. He read this book a while back and really enjoyed it, though he did warn me it would be kind of depressing. Still, the author’s unique style of storytelling stands out and will certainly make The Road an interesting choice for my 2017 reads!
10) StarTalk, edited by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jeffrey Simons, and Charles Liu
Fully titled StarTalk: Everything You Ever Need to Know About Space Travel, Sci-Fi, the Human Race, the Universe, and Beyond, this book is essentially a written adaptation of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s popular podcast and National Geographic TV series, full of scientific questions and answers about the Universe as we know (or don’t know) it. I know it’s not like the other selections on this list, but similar to last year’s format, I’d like to include at least one nonfiction book in my 2017 lineup. I gave this book as a Christmas present to my boyfriend in 2016, though it was really a gift for both of us as I have every intention of borrowing it! I’ve always been fascinated with science in general and space in particular, so StarTalk is definitely a book I’ll enjoy reading this year!
This concludes my list of books to read in 2017! I hope you enjoyed it, and as always, thanks for reading!
What about you? Any books you’d like to read this year? What other goals have you set for 2017?
As everyone knows, with January comes a fresh batch of new year’s resolutions. Since I really enjoyed making a list of books to read last year, I decided to try my luck again with a new list for 2017! Well, semi-new; some of them will be repeats of books I didn’t get around to reading in 2016, but that I’ll hopefully have better luck with this year. Either way, here’s to a bright new year of reading!
So to kick off my 2017 goals, here’s the first half of my list of the top ten books I want to read this year. Enjoy!
1) A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Oh yes, I’m still working on this one. I started reading A Game of Thrones a couple of years ago, but after school started taking up most of my time, I had to put it down for a while. My resolution from last year to read every day has helped me pick it up again, though, and now that I’m done with school, maybe I’ll finally be able to finish it this year! Of course, seeing how long it’s taking me just to get through the first book, I’ll probably have to pick up the rest of the A Song of Ice and Fire saga from the TV series!
2) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
That’s right, I still haven’t read the Hunger Games trilogy! Crazy, right? I know I had wanted to start reading more dystopian fiction last year, but I guess I got so caught up in historical fiction that there just wasn’t enough time for anything else. These books are at the top of my list, though, so hopefully I’ll find the time to finally read them this year. I look forward to enjoying a new fiction genre in 2017!
3) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Speaking of dystopian fiction, here’s another book that’s been on my to-read list for a long time. I remember watching the film adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 for an Introduction to Technology class in middle school, but to this day I haven’t gotten around to reading the book. I enjoy stories that explore the dangers of mass media, state-based censorship, and an ignorant society, so this book is a definite must-read for me – if not this year, then at least for my bucket list!
4) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This one was recommended to me by my boyfriend, who started reading the book last year and has really been enjoying it so far. Ready Player One certainly sounds like the sort of novel I’d like: a science fiction story set primarily in a virtual world and rife with 80s pop culture references. I am planning to read more sci-fi this year, so this will definitely be an interesting pick for my 2017 list!
5) 1984 by George Orwell
I know, this book is on everyone’s to-read list, but it’s so iconic that I just couldn’t leave it off mine any longer. George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel is so relevant to modern-day society, it’s terrifying to think the most glaring mistake in the author’s prediction of the future may well be that he was only off by a few decades. Exploring themes of authoritarianism, totalitarianism, censorship, and historical negationism, 1984 is the epitome of political dystopian fiction. It doesn’t sound like the most uplifting choice for my 2017 reads, but… well, let’s just say, I have a feeling this novel will be more relevant this year than ever!
That’s it for today’s to-read list! Tune in next week for the second half of my top ten list of books to read in 2017! Thanks for reading!
What about you? What books do you plan to read in 2017? Have you made any other resolutions for the new year?
With the holiday season upon us and Christmas just around the corner, it’s time for another Christmas-themed blog post! Last year I shared a list of my top ten Christmas songs, but there are so many songs I love that I decided to share a few more this year. Nothing like some good Christmas music to get you into the holiday spirit!
So just for fun, here are five more Christmas songs I love listening to around this time of year. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!
Note: this post contains embedded YouTube videos. If you’re reading this in your email, you may need to open the page on my blog to see them.
It’s not really the holiday season until you’re hearing the A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack everywhere you go. Last year I started my list with “O Tannenbaum“, while this year I’m going with the more iconic “Linus and Lucy”. Everyone knows this one for the famous Peanuts dance scene, right? It’s a Christmas classic!
Okay, maybe this one is a bit grim for Christmas, but it takes me back to my childhood, so I love it anyway! I’m sure most of us have seen How The Grinch Stole Christmas! at least once, and we all know this famous theme song. If you happen to know a real-life Grinch or two, this song is for you!
Yes, I know I shared this song last year too, but this version from Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean is too awesome to leave out of this list! Conducting the Salvation Army band evidently comes naturally to Mr. Bean; this is easily one of my favorite remixes of this classic Christmas carol!
Here’s another song I picked up from Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean! This one is sung by a chorus of caroling children, and it’s nothing short of angelic. One of the cutest scenes in the whole special!
Another well-known song from How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, “Welcome Christmas” covers the other side of the famous children’s story. The Whos understand about the Christmas spirit what the Grinch has yet to learn, a lesson Dr. Seuss so eloquently sums up in a few lines:
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
– How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (Dr. Seuss, 1956)
Now there’s a lesson we can all stand to be reminded of every holiday season! The company of loved ones is what truly makes a very Merry Christmas!
Bonus: if you like your holidays to be as politically correct as possible, you may get a kick out of Jon Cozart’s ridiculously hilarious Progressive Christmas Carols video. Enjoy, and have a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Joyous Kwanzaa!
What about you? What are your favorite holiday songs, Christmas or otherwise?