The Definition of Insanity

One of my works in progress is a novel whose temporary title was ‘Dream Dancers.’  It’s something that I knew was going to take a lot of work.

Just not this much work.

The Definition of Insanity (thank you, Shelby, for okaying the title), is a story about a woman in her early twenties who has always heard voices in her head.  She doesn’t really know what’s going on, but there are actually other people living inside her mind.  And they want out — badly.

My best friend and I were talking the other day, and we kind of realized how pathetic we are.  She knows more about the regency period and I know more about ancient Egypt than we do about the modern world.  What on earth do normal people our age do with their lives?  That’s a huge problem I have with the Definition of Insanity.  While it’s got elements that aren’t ‘normal,’ for the most part it’s a contemporary novel and it confuses me.  Many interesting things happen in daily life, but not much that makes a good book.

This is my third time rewriting the beginning.  I have to write chronologically, so the beginning, for me, is a huge part of integrating myself in the story.  And it kept falling flat.  I had too much info-dump and hadn’t planned things out enough.  And I readily admit I was rather lazy.  I’m rather a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person and my methods and the story were not meshing.  When I write, I need excitement.  And what I was doing wasn’t conducive with the story.

But I learned more from every rewrite.  I already have playlists put together to spur my mind as I write and I’ve finally nailed the plot down more.  This time, I think I can do it.

So, just for fun, I’m going to tell you a bit about my story.

The name is kind of a family in-joke.  My dad is a huge tease and he likes to tell us that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.  And just given the content, it fits.  Besides, I think writing this one might just drive me over the edge.

I was inspired to write the book, in part, by the therapy I was doing.  My dear friend and therapist, Brother Cassity, had me try a technique where I would ‘enter’ a sort of conference room in my head where all the facets of myself had gathered.  He asked me to find the one holding onto all the fear, and when I saw her, I think I scared him a little.  This is Valkyrie.

I was born into a less-fortunate household, seeing as my biological father was quite mentally and emotionally abusive.  I grew into a hardened, mean individual, and Valkyrie is basically myself had I not been given the opportunities to change.  (And for the record, my mother remarried when I was twelve, and I completely, totally, and unreservedly consider my new father as my real one).  So writing this book is very much an emotional journey for me, as I’ll be delving into my past and coming to terms with it.  Everyone has difficulties and trials individual to them, and a goal I hope I can reach with this novel is to bring peace to other tortured souls.

As always, a book is made by its characters.  Plot, technique, etc. are all very important, but to create a memorable experience characters have to be flesh-and-blood, individuals the audience can relate to and sympathize with.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time on these guys, and I’d like to introduce you now:

DUSTY ELIZABETH DARCY (FORMERLY MURPHY)

My protagonist, Dusty Darcy

Dusty, the protagonist and host of most of the others, was legally adopted by her mother’s second husband, which is why her last name changed.  She’s twenty-one, and the book begins soon after she and her sister lose their parents.  She’s intelligent but struggles with school and currently works at JCPenney in Reno, Nevada.  She’s a quarter Sioux on her mother’s side and has thick black hair, full lips, thick brows and eyes that are rather small in her chiseled face.  (Morphing Lily Collins and Sandra Bullock kind of did the trick with a bit of GIMP alteration).  She’s a bit blunt, a bit of an introvert, and loves to read — just don’t ask her to spout her knowledge.  She has bad dyscalculia (basically dyslexia with numbers), and is quite the people-watcher.  Rather quiet, it takes a while to get to know her, but inside, she’s always acquiring and digesting new facts about the world around her.

RYCE KATHRINE DARCY

Aww, happy Ryce

This is Dusty’s younger sister.  They’re not biologically related, so don’t be surprised at their complete lack of resemblance.  She’s a literal genius, but because of money matters she’s decided not to continue on to college — at least not for the moment — and it crushes Dusty.  She’s sugar and spice and everything nice, but she’s surprisingly shrewd.  She always sees the good in people and tries hard to remain positive.  She’s overwhelmingly loyal to her sister, and in many ways is Dusty’s rock.  Dusty is Ryce’s caution, Ryce is Dusty’s worry-alleviator.  They balance each other out very well.

DJIN (NEEDS MIDDLE NAME) HAWTHORNE

Djin!

Djin’s kind of rough-around-the-edges.  When you first meet him, he seems kind of hard and sullen, but that’s just the way he appears.  He does have quite the temper, but usually manages to keep it in check.  He doesn’t trust others very easily, but is usually willing to give them a chance.  He’s devoted to his adopted brother, Tsuyoshi, and when he’s around him is the only time his true softness comes out.  Djin feels things very deeply and is somehow of the opinion that it is his job to care for those trapped in Dusty’s mind.  He’s very selfless, almost to a fault, little though you’d know it from his brusque attitude.  All-in-all, he’s what my friends and I call a burnt marshmallow — bitter and hard on the outside, gooey and sweet on the inside.  Although I don’t think he’d be particularly keen on that description.

TSUYOSHI AKI (NEEDS LAST NAME)

.

He was inspired by the adorable Yuzuru Hanyuu who won the gold in the men’s skating last winter Olympics.  That little face needed a story.  So Tsuyoshi (or ‘Tsu,’ as Djin calls him) was born.  He was the last to arrive in Dusty’s mind, and Djin kind of took him in.  Tsuyoshi is very different from the others — he’s incredibly sweet and soft-hearted.  He’s not the brightest sometimes, but he’s kind and loving in an innocent way that is very rare these days.  Whatever he does, he does with his whole heart.  He loves music, especially classical, and can often be found composing in the apartment he and Djin share.

HUGO JAMES BENEDICT

Combine Jareth and The Awesome Elvin King Whose Name I Don't Know and you have ... HUGO JAMES BENEDICT.

(Another morphed project).  Hugo likes to keep to himself, though he is attracted to Valkyrie.  Out of all of them, he is perhaps the coldest.  He thinks only of himself, not even those he’s been with for about a decade.  His opinion of himself is basically that he’s royalty.  His apartment is lush and he enjoys spending time in the library, philosophizing and looking regal in his tailored suits.  Very self-absorbed.  He is willing to do anything to free himself from Dusty’s mind, and that makes him the most dangerous of all.

VALKYRIE AURORA WEBB

I made a Valkyrie thing!  I'm so proud of myself!

Valkyrie is an extremely complicated individual.  (No, you may not call her ‘Val.’  I do, but she can’t murder me without her story careening to a halt).  She remembers far more than Dusty the abuse they suffered at the hands of Dusty’s biological father, and she has grown into a woman haunted by her past, hardened to the point that she no longer feels anything.  Her only relief comes by dancing, the rigor of ballet somehow soothing her.  She also loves music and has a vast collection of both classical and musical theatre.  (She is against pop.  She finds it crude and childish).  She doesn’t feel, but she certainly thinks.  She doesn’t know how to see the positive, and life, for her, is just about surviving one more day.

CHRISTOPHER (NEEDS MIDDLE AND LAST NAMES)

The name is completely coincidental, I promise.  Chris just graduated college with a degree in engineering, sponsored by his wealthy parents.  He has everything he wants.  He’s first attracted to Dusty, but Ryce quickly captures his attention.  He’s charming, caring, and attentive, and his help is greatly appreciated by the struggling girls (much to the dislike of those in Dusty’s mind).  But his motives are far less generous than what initially they seem.

So, that was a sneak peek into my old/new novel.  I hope you enjoyed, because there will definitely be more on the subject.

Cheers!

Ana

P.S. Happy birthday, Reita!

Reita - The GazettE

Liebster Award Tag

I love that name.  I have no idea what it means, but the German-ness of it is just so fun.

Anyway, I considered myself tagged by my dear friend Tracey.  She’s an awesome person, amazing writer, and hilarious friend.  Read her list: http://traceydyck.blogspot.com/2015/05/liebster-award.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TraceyDyck+%28Tracey+Dyck%29

(I have no idea how to make the fancy ‘click here’ signs, so please bear with me.  I looked it up and was even more confused than before).

Anyway, on to the questions!

1. What’s one of your favorite summer reads?

Oh, dear me.  I don’t really reread books, so this is a hard one.  There are very few things I actually revisit cover to cover, and it’s only when I feel a strong need to enter back into those worlds.  Those picks are a) the Squire’s Tales, b) an unfinished book by my friend, c) Harry Potter, and probably d) the Phantom of the Opera.  And right now I’m reading Najee: A Glimmer of Hope by Sarah Y. Westmoreland, and Shakespeare is good for any season.

The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady (The Squire's Tales) by Gerald Morris. $6.99

(Based on the legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight).

2. What’s your favorite way to cool off on a hot summer day?

My sisters and I developed a game we would play in our rather suburban neighborhood: fill a huge bucket with water, arm everyone with a plastic cup, and chase each other with the full glasses.  Hit your victim with the water, they’re frozen until someone else frees them.  You get soaked, but it’s so much fun.  And apparently wet long hair is not a good alternative to the water glass — I’m told it hurts.

3. What’s a combination of three authors’ “special somethings” that you’d like to emulate in your own writing?

Ooh, rough one, Tracey.  Great question, though!  Hmm.  First of all, Gerald Morris’ (the Squire’s Tales) humor.  His books are laugh-out-loud hilarious and the man’s wit is rapier-sharp.  I love Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s perfect balance between showing and telling, making you feel as if you are in the book.  And probably my favorite detail included in the books I love most is the realism of the characters.  If they’re flesh-and-blood, I have to love them.  They become my friends.  One of the best at this is Mirriam Neal, but Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Gaston Leroux are also some of my favorites in this area.

4. What music are you currently listening to?

Right now?  Or just in this general time frame?  Right now I’m listening to my sisters putting together a puzzle, and they’re not music.  They’re strange creatures.  Generally, right now I listen to the GazettE, but I do that a lot.  I’m also doing a project involving musical theatre, so I’m listening to more Chess and Aida (Elton John’s, not Verdi’s, obviously).

5. Which superhero (from either Marvel or DC) are you most like?

Tracey, are you trying to kill me?  No idea.  I want to be Spider-Man (not Spider-Girl, I will be Spider-Man), but as to whom I’m already the most like?  (And I really hope that was the proper use of ‘whom’ — Mom’s helping with the puzzle, and I’m too lazy to utilize her English-teacher skills).  I’d like to say I’m most like Captain America, since he’s one of my top favorite people ever, but probably Bruce Banner/the Hulk with maybe a bit of Natasha Romanoff/the Black Widow thrown in.  I try to be calm and kind, but my temper is something I struggle daily with.  And like Nat, I haven’t always been a perfect princess, but I still try to do my best.

6. What’s your favorite fantasy creature you’ve ever read about?

Chimera, hands-down.  Have you ever read the Treekeepers?  I’d always liked chimeras, but Ally completely solidified that.  I also love griffins, and dragons are cool, too.  Although my love of chimeras kind of got me into trouble — there was a girl when we just moved here that I was trying to be nice to whose name, while spelled differently, was Chimera.  I said, “Oh, that’s awesome!  They’re my favorite animal!”  My sisters told me later that my ‘compliment’ may not’ve been that welcome, seeing as we live in a deprived community where a chimera is a type of car.  I love where I live, but I can’t imagine a world without chimeras — it would seem so lonely, bleak, and sad.

Adorable baby chimera yawns its way into your heart

(It’s a baby chimera!)

7. Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate.

my thoughts exactly.

8. What’s something you admire about yourself?

I don’t give up.  I come from conquering stock (William the Conqueror and Charlemagne on Mom’s side, Theodore Turley and the pioneers on Dad’s, just to name a few), and I shall make my ancestors proud.  There are times, of course, when I want to give up, but how could I live with myself if I did?  My life would come to a grinding halt, and I refuse to give in to those things that would like to stop me.

9. Which do you prefer: writing by hand or typing?

Because of the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I struggle with writing by hand.  Besides, I swear it was a form of torture my mother devised for us as children.  Because of my loose joints, my handwriting is really bad, and if I write for too long my wrists tries to attack me.  Which is why I can’t study math right now….

10. If failing was impossible, what would you do?

Everything!  I would be a heart surgeon, a pharmacist, live in college and speak fifty languages, I would take a walk every single day, I would fly, I’d become a mermaid, I’d become Spider-Man, I would be good enough to sing at the ROH (Royal Opera House), and most importantly, I would rid myself of all the mistakes I make once and for all.  I’ve mentioned that I have a real fear of failure, and something that kills me is my past.  I feel like I make so many mistakes and have so many flaws and can never make my Heavenly Father proud, but if failure was eliminated, those thoughts wouldn’t trouble me.  But honestly, failure is part of the eternal plan.  If there was no fear of failure, there would be no triumph when we succeeded.

The Amazing Spider-Man | 24 Unofficial Movie Posters That Are Better Than The Real Posters

11. What’s something God has taught you recently, new or rediscovered?

Best question yet, Tracey.  He’s teaching me about the Atonement again.  That no matter how many mistakes I make, I can be forgiven.  And He’s teaching me that He’s always there.  I can always rely on Him, even if it’s a small matter.  He wants to help me.  My biological father always told me how disappointed God was with me, so it means so much that I’m learning from God Himself that it’s not true.  I can become better, and I do have worth in His eyes.

Tagging time!

All right, I still am very limited in who I know in the blogosphere, so please, consider yourself tagged and give me the link in the comments!

But I do have to tag those I actually know: Shelby, Lody, and my new EDS friend Mandiix.  And Rana, I’m not sure what the rules are concerning tags, so you’re included.

And the questions:

1. Which Disney character do you identify most with?

2. What’s your ethnic background?

3. If you had your pick of the best cosplay materials in the world but could only choose one character to play, who would it be?

4. What do you think the greatest blessing in your life is?

5. What is your favorite physical attribute in yourself, and what is your favorite spiritual attribute in yourself?

6. If you forgot everyone in your life and your relation to them except for one person, who would that person be?

7. What’s your dream? (It doesn’t have to be something achievable.  Just something you dream of doing, every impossibility thrown out the window).

8. What are your favorite qualities in a friend?

9. What do you like to study? (It could be anything from Impressionist painting to the cultural impact of fleas).

10. What is your favorite word?

11. List all the reasons you’re amazing.

Cheers!

Ana

“I will walk together.”

I’ve mentioned before my great love of the Japanese rock band the GazettE.  (And the reason the ‘e’ is capitalized is just because it looks cool).

the GazettE

(Left to right: Aoi, Reita, Kai, Uruha, and Ruki is sitting).

I first was ‘introduced’ to them by my friend Mirriam Neal’s blog.  She had pictures of Aoi and Kai (with the awesome hair pictured above) and I was curious.  When I first looked into their music, I was a little confused and weirded out.  I thought they were okay, but they weren’t anything I’d come in contact with before.  But I still went foraging through the internet to look for their clean music.  (While I don’t speak Japanese, the overall theme of a song is still very apparent in the music even if the words are foreign to the listener.)

I acquired a bit of a collection, but I branched out into other types of j-rock.  A lot of them are good, but I quickly realized that the GazettE is one of the cleaner bands.  It’s so hard to find songs even in my native language that are clean and it frustrates and angers me to no end.  So I was certainly impressed and proud that the Gazette didn’t block me out of their artistry.  That’s not to say that all of their stuff is perfectly clean — it’s not.  But something that I love about them is that if they choose to make something inappropriate for someone with my standards to listen to, the content usually includes only swearing or themes of violence.  In today’s world sexuality is glorified.  It’s pathetically hard to find a song that doesn’t highlight this in some way.  That’s one reason why I don’t listen to a lot of modern pop music (plus it’s not really my thing).  One has to search diligently on the internet and be prepared to wade through things no one should have to come in contact with just to find a good song.  It’s pathetic and disgusting.  But for the most part, the GazettE stay away from involving that particular theme in their music.

Aoi.Reita(The GazettE)

(Aoi and Reita).

The GazettE get life.  None of them have had it easy, perhaps Ruki, the vocalist, in particular.  He was treated very poorly by his family to the extent that he had nothing to do with his father until the band began to get popular.  These guys have seen sadness and pain but not only has it made them fuller, better people, they’ve been able to help others through their experiences.  That’s how hardships should be used.  So many of their songs are uplifting, and many of them deal with harsh topics such as abuse and death.  One of my favorite songs is Miseinen, and to paraphrase the song, it’s basically a story of growing up.  In youth, you rebel and your pride lifts you up, but that’s not really how it’s supposed to go.  It’s okay to rely on friends and family, to be broken, because it makes you stronger.  I think it not only sums up the amazing mentality of the band, but the hope we can have for our own lives.

The GazettE have helped me very much in my life.  I have a very hot temper and their music is one of the few things that calm me down sufficiently.  As anyone who knows me understands, I struggle so much with math.  (And my dad’s an accountant.  Sad, right?)  I would get so wound up that my emotional state would be on the range between ‘frustrated’ and ‘angry’.  I don’t like being mad.  It leaves a bitter feeling that’s hard to shake.  So as I studied up in my room, I’d turn on Baretta and Best Friends.  It really helped.  One fan has said, “They understand what my family doesn’t.”  And while I don’t share those feelings about my family not understanding, I love that I can listen to a couple of songs by the GazettE and then be calm enough to express myself to those close to me.  ‘Cause it really stinks to be so frustrated that when I try to speak, all of it boils up and I wind up doing something I regret.  Or even if I’m feeling down, listening to Cassis calms me and gives me hope.  To me, that’s really the GazettE’s message: hope.  Both in their music and how they live their lives.

The GazettE

They’re actually really shy, private people.  My dad avoids the topic of them because I think they make him wary, which, in my opinion, is kind of funny.  Mirriam and I talked quite a bit about them the other day, and the way she described them when her mother looked askance at them was that they’re sweet babies.  And she’s right.  They have such sweet spirits.  Their music is downright awesome — they’re a highly talented bunch.  But their spirits have the opportunity to speak through it.  They try so hard to be tough, but they’re polite and funny and just genuinely people who make me smile.  When I’m upset in any way, they’re one of the things with the highest percentage of cheering me up and giving me hope.

the GazettE. I love their smiles. :D <3

I could go on about them forever, but I’ll just keep this short and sweet.  The GazettE have reached into my heart and give me confidence and help me strive toward who I want to be.  I have a very strong fear of failure and they help calm me down and let me see more of my potential.  I don’t know them and they don’t know me, but the hope and strength they give me will forever be something I treasure.

Cheers!

Ana

P.S. New album in August!  Someone tell me how it is, as I’ll be on a mission.

Such a Pity

My mother had the love and wisdom to introduce Jim Henson’s film ‘Labyrinth’ to us as children.  It’s pure magic.  For those of you who don’t know the story/need a refresher, here’s the synopsis:

Fed up with her stepmother’s insistence that she watch her baby half-brother, fifteen-year-old Sarah wishes the infant into the care of the goblins and their malevolent king.  Desperate, Sarah fights her way through the Goblin King’s dangerous labyrinth with the help of some unlikely new friends to reclaim her infant brother and defeat the evil king.

Labyrinth haha! Love this!

(I just couldn’t resist, guys, and I’m not sorry).

We loved this film so much as kids that my sister painted the most adorable picture of His Royal Jerkface, complete with awesome hair, that was up on the door forever.  Dang, I wonder where it went….

(Complete sidenote, but this is exciting — my mother agreed to let my daddy buy me white bread hamburger buns!)

It’s been over a decade since I first saw the film, but my love for it has just grown throughout the years.  I love the goblins, I love the music, I love Sarah’s hair, I love Jareth’s smile, I love the blinking glitter—  What’s not to love?  It’s a story of overcoming obstacles for the love of your family.  Sure, it was released in ’86 and there are some aspects that really need help, but it’s still a sweeping tale rife with beauty, magic and mystery.

Jennifer Connelly was only fourteen when she was cast as Sarah.  I think it was her first real role, and to tell the truth, she was a terrible actress back then.  (If you haven’t seen a Beautiful Mind, do yourself a favor and turn it on.  While not perfect, she does a fantastic job and the story is too amazing for words).  But she did the best she could and I think her nose is adorable.  I love her nose.  As for the character, Sarah begins as a frustrated teen, and while I totally understand her point of view — y’know, father remarrying someone quite unlikable, being expected to be the perfect child, perfect babysitter, and losing the attention of her father, just to name a few things — she does go about dealing with it all in the wrong way.  She’s embittered toward the little baby and resents that she’s constantly pulled from the world of fantasy she has created around herself as a buffer from the unhappiness of her life.  She thrives on story, and her favorite book is a small, worn thing that she’s constantly quoting.  It’s called ‘the Labyrinth.’  When she wishes away her brother and the story actually begins happening, she quickly realizes that the adventure is not as great as it was in the book.

Sarah: For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great — You have no power over me. Labyrinth, 1986

(I think this is the most beautiful picture).

As Sarah goes along her story, winding through the labyrinth, she meets three folk who will become her dear friends: Hoggle, Ludo, and Sir Didymus.  At first Hoggle gets on her nerves and she treats him rather rudely, but she ultimately has a good heart and learns to trust him.  Ludo, a big, furry yeti, wins her over immediately due to his sweet nature and adorable childlikeness.  Sir Didymus is a fox-looking knight, and I think she’s amused by and appreciative of his gallantry towards her.

Despite Jenny’s sadly lacking acting ability, Sarah’s personality and abilities do shine through.  She loves stories and fantasy, and she’s brave and determined.  Though Jareth, the Goblin King, takes every opportunity to throw things in her path (literally and figuratively), she doesn’t let it deter her.  She’s nearly turned to mincemeat, dumped in a bog, mindwashed, sliced in half, shot, but she continues steadfastly in her mission to save her little brother.  As she realizes how far she’s willing to go to get him back, her dormant love for him blossoms and when her adventure ends, the audience senses that forevermore, Sarah will love and protect Toby no matter what.  She learns the true meaning of love and how it can change her life for the better.

Sarah begins as a lonely child, a girl longing for attention and love.  But as she learns what it means to trust others as well as herself and becomes aware of how much she is capable of, she transforms into a woman.  Her journey through the labyrinth wasn’t just to save her brother — it was to learn about herself.  She is brave, loyal, compassionate, and strong.  She has a heart that is capable of loving and forgiving despite betrayal and hurt.  At the end of the film, we see her putting away the relics of her childhood as she realizes that if she wants to move forward, she can’t be held back by her pain and loneliness.  As wonderful as these childhood books and toys were, no matter how much they helped her, she understands it’s time to move on to different tools, ones that will carry her into womanhood.  Still, one can’t outgrow love and friendship, and she invites all her friends back and they celebrate together.  She still needs them, and perhaps she always will.  They remind her of who she truly is, and they encourage her to be her best.  They have become her family, and it’s beautiful.

Sarah from Labyrinth. I'm putting this on my

(Sarah and Hoggle).

Hoggle — whose name always seems to be mutilated most embarrassingly — begins as a grudging ally of Jareth.  Originally entrusted with taking Sarah back to the beginning of the labyrinth, Sarah bribes him with her plastic bracelet.  Hoggle says of himself, “See, you’ve got to understand my position.  I’m a coward, and Jareth scares me.”  It’s true, Hoggle is a coward, and while he’s extremely touched when Sarah calls him her friend, the instant he hears a terrifying roaring (which happens to be Ludo) he takes off, despite Sarah having taken his little bag of jewels in an attempt to make him stay and lead her to the palace.

Hoggle was my favorite character when I was a kid.  He’s funny and curmudgeonly, unaware of how utterly adorable he is.  He pretends to be hard, but he’s really just an old softie.  He begins as a ‘fend-for-myself-’cause-it’s-safest’ guy, but as Sarah worms her way into his heart he realizes there’s more to life than regretfully doing the Goblin King’s bidding.  Jareth bullies him into giving Sarah an enchanted peach, and Hoggle can’t forgive himself.  He sits alone, huddled by a fire, and says softly, “She’ll never forgive me.  What have I done?  I’ve lost my only friend.  That’s what I’ve done.”  He himself claims not to have any pride, and subsequently his self-esteem is all but non-existent, which Jareth takes full advantage of.  Sarah helps him to realize his true importance and that he can be loved for himself.  When Sarah and the others approach the gates to the Goblin City, Hoggle braves runs across the wall and stops the electronic goblin machine that was trying to kill the little crew.  When Sarah rushes to see if he’s all right, he confesses that Jareth made him give her the peach, tells her that he doesn’t care what she thinks of him and he ain’t interested in being friends.  Softly, she replies, “I forgive you, Hoggle.”  He’s shocked, and is further moved when Sir Didymus adds, “And I commend you.  Rarely have I seen such courage.  You are a valiant man, Sir Hoggle.”  And Ludo gently taps him and says simply, “Hoggle and Ludo friends.”  Sarah thanks him and gives him back his pouch of jewels, and buoyed up by the love surrounding him, he stands and heroically declares, “Well, what are we waiting for?  Let’s go get that rat who calls himself Jareth.”

A movie I've adored for many years. I love the smile on her face in this picture.

(Sarah and Ludo).

Isn’t Ludo adorable?  When Sarah finds him, he’s hanging upside-down from a tree, being tortured by a small group of armed goblins.  Sarah saves him, and he asks if she’s his friend.  When she replies in the affirmative, he’s overjoyed.  He’s basically a big puppy-child, his sweet nature and unconditional love something Sarah desperately needs.  He’s playful and kind, almost incapable of understanding evil, such is his innocence.  He’s easily frightened and sticks very close to Sarah while in the glittering, ominous forest.  He is able to control rocks, calling them his friends, and this ability is what saves the small band during the Battle of the Goblin City — the poor goblins didn’t know what hit them.

Ludo is extremely loyal, and while he knows to protect himself, his nature is one that is primarily kind and gentle.  His heart is large enough to hold the world, and he, more than anyone, is the one who teaches Sarah how to let her own goodness free from the restraints she had built up.

Sir Didymus, Hoggle and Ludo (Labyrinth)

(Didymus, Hoggle, and Ludo).

Sir Didymus is kind of a loony.  He believes himself to be the bravest and most noble of knights and is gallant to the point that there are times you might want to headdesk.  When Ludo all but defeats him in a ‘ferocious battle,’ Didymus yields and adopts Ludo as his brother.  He’s willing to fight to the death for any cause that comes his way, even if his sheepdog steed isn’t so keen on his courtly ideals.

Didymus lacks a few brains cells despite his bravery.  Anything that moves ought to be fought, he lifts a weapon and he’s immediately won, and is constantly convinced he’s unbeatable.  For instance, when he finally convinces his mount to stop running and they are encircled by some of the goblin cavaliers, he says, “Don’t worry, […] I think we’ve got them surrounded.”  He’s humorous but doesn’t get it, chivalrous but makes mistakes, and rushes headlong into any situation that bears a promise of a noble fight.  And he looks cute and cuddly until you see him move — he’s almost like a squirrel.  Oh, so adorable, right? — then its teeth are sunk deep into your finger.  But he’s still cute.  Although he would be deeply affronted to ever hear that.  Warriors are not ‘cute.’

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. Turn back, Sarah. Turn back before it's too late!

Jareth.

King of the goblins, expert in the art of magic, and a royal jerk.

How can you not love him?

But there are times when anyone in their right mind wants to whack him about the ears.

But there’s just something about him that draws you in, just as it did Sarah.  Jareth is immature and manipulative, but there are times when you see past that.  The one-and-only David Bowie portrays him and even got to compose all the songs for the film (the score was done by Trevor Jones).  He’s dangerous and has obviously spent way more time than he would’ve liked among his rather idiotic subjects.  He goes around whisking away babies and the magic of the labyrinth turns them into goblins within a day.  He does everything in his (considerable) power to intimidate and stop Sarah, often in ways that would harm her greatly to say the least.  For him, I don’t think it’s so much about keeping the baby — it’s about conquering this headstrong young girl who’s doing way too well in overcoming his labyrinth.

Jareth fascinates me.  There are so many layers to his character that you just long to peel back to see the real man inside.  Like all the characters, there’s definitely an arc during the course of the movie for Jareth.  He’s proud and dangerous, and when he offers Sarah the chance to find her brother, I really don’t think he actually expects her to do it.  What he’s counting on even less is the help his own subjects — most especially Hoggle — toward the girl.  He’s insufferably domineering over everyone, cruel and mischievous, and likes to think he’s on top of the world.  He wants the baby.  He wants control.

Yet there’s something beneath his glittery cruelty that compels and sparks the mind.  Something I love that Bowie did with the music was tell Jareth’s story.  The first song, Underground, alludes to Jareth understanding Sarah’s pain at being rejected and ignored.  The second, Magic Dance, is a hilarious, catchy romp that almost has to do with little baby Toby.  Jareth dances among the goblins — the puppeteering is amazing, says the puppeteer’s granddaughter — as they sing the playful number.  Jareth is very childish and insists the goblins laugh when he laughs, shut up when he wants them to, and otherwise do his immature bidding.

(Jareth and Toby).

His relationship with — at? — Sarah is quite interesting.  At first you get the feeling that she’s just another specimen to watch and do his bidding, a sort of test rat to run through his maze.  But he seems to be genuinely intrigued by her.  As she nears his fortress, he pulls string to make her fall into a sort of trance.  In her dream, she’s in a ballroom, looking for Jareth, and the song that plays — and that he later sings — hints that he’d like her to stay.  He seems honestly concerned and sad when she breaks free, though it could’ve been worry for her mind slipping back to rescuing her brother, but when she regains her memory and finds him and Toby in the palace’ Escher room, his attitude is strangely raw.  The entire scene is basically Sarah running around trying to get to a gravity-defying Toby as Jareth sings Within You.  The song begins as he’s berating her for turning his world upside-down, but finishes in a rather sad way.  He says he believes in her and softly asks her to “Live without [her] sunlight.  Love without [her] heartbeat.”  He seems almost overcome with emotion.

(The dress, guys.  The dress.  The hair.)

Okay, one of the main reasons I’m writing this blog post is because of a problem I have with fangirls.

Guys, Jareth is pretty, mysterious, and we all love him, but he’s not some whimpering puppy you can take home to mama.  It frustrates me how blind girls can be to the ‘sexy’ guys faults.  He’s not nice.  Yeah, he has pain, but that doesn’t mean he’s some poor, innocent baby you can cuddle and allow to dawdle after you forever.  He won’t.  Maybe someday he can change, but until then, stop acting as if he’s some misunderstood darling who only wants love.  Yeah, he does want love, but the way he goes about it is twisted and cruel.  And he would be the first to admit it.  Excuse my harshness, but use your heads.  (The same principle goes for the majority of guys in today’s popular stories).  And as much as I love him, I try to see him as the manipulative jerk he actually is.  That doesn’t mean he isn’t redeemable, but I’d need to love him from afar.

Okay, after that rant, let me finish my little yeah-I-love-Jareth monologue. Anyway, the last scene between Sarah and the Goblin King is so dynamic.  He tells her to beware, for “[he had] been generous up until now, but [he] can be cruel.”  When she doubts this, he tells her he has done everything she wanted.  He took her brother, reordered time, turned the world upside down … and all for her.  He claims that he’s exhausted from living up to her expectations of him. She then begins the most powerful speech of the whole movie, one that is incredibly moving and inspiring.

“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen.  For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great.”

He interrupts.  He’s afraid.  He offers her her dreams, and as she steps forward, steadfastly continuing the speech, and in near desperation, he says, “I ask for so little.  Just let me rule you, and you can have everything that you want.”  There’s a certain line that Sarah can never remember, and she visibly struggles as he leaps on his moment.  “Just fear me,” he says, “love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave.”

Sarah looks up, and his fear heightens.

“You have no power over me.”

Those were the words that destroyed him.  When Sarah spoke them, he twisted through the air, collapsing, until he turned into his owl form and Sarah reappeared in her home just as the clock struck midnight.

I genuinely believe that Jareth cared for Sarah.  She’s different, someone who believes in him and has the strength to overpower even him.  David Bowie said, “He’s completely smitten,” and adds, basically, that her purity and goodness was another thing that drew him to her.  But Jareth doesn’t know what it is to love.  His heart is so hardened by what he has done that he can’t understand what it is to truly care about someone.  And I pity him for that.

I love the ending of the film.  Sarah has grown, she recognizes that there’s more to her than the lonely child she was before.  As she invites her dear friends back into her life, I get the feeling that these unconventional companions are going to be her example of unconditional love.  They are her family now, and we finally get to see her truly happy.  Outside her window, a white owl perches on a branch, but as the celebrations continue, Jareth flies away toward the moon.

Ludo: [in the mirror] Goodbye, Sarah.  Didymus: And remember, fair maiden, should you need us... Hoggle: Yes, should you need us, for any reason at all... Sarah: I need you, Hoggle.  Hoggle: You do?   Sarah: [nods] I don't know why, but every now and again in my life - for no reason at all - I need you. All of you.   Hoggle: You do? Well WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO? *Epic Goblin party ensues*

The story of Labyrinth is love.  For family, for friends, and for yourself.  Sarah’s friends help her find herself, and she does the same for them.  She understands how much her brother means to her, and I like to think that those dear friends from the labyrinth will be the companions of Toby’s life as well.

Love really can conquer all.

Cheers!

Ana

P.S. It’s further than you think.  Time is short.

Got Mezzo?

So y’all know I’m an opera singer.  I’m a lyric mezzo-soprano and I love it.

What’s a lyric mezzo-soprano, you ask?

Joyce DiDonato as Octavian

(Joyce DiDonato as Octavian in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier)

So there are, roughly, three voice types for a woman: soprano, mezzo-soprano, and contralto.  Within those categories there are several more, primarily coloratura, lyric, and dramatic.  (I could go into much greater detail, but I will spare you).

Sopranos are the singers that are the most comfort in the higher registers.  Mezzo-soprano, in the Italian, means ‘middle-soprano.’  Our voices are a little lower with the comfort level (tessitura) further down the scale.  Contraltos are characterized by their rich, developed voices that are usually in the range of a countertenor.  (Good examples of each: Kiri Te Kanawa — soprano, Joyce DiDonato — mezzo, and Marie-Nicole Lemieux — contralto.)

so helpful! soprano mezzo alto tenor baritone bass range chart

(Typical ranges for most types of voice)

Roles are often stereotyped.  The sopranos get the best, biggest female roles — it’s been that way for centuries.  The Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute, Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Susanna and the Countess in the Marriage of Figaro….  There’s a lot.  The soprano has that soaring voice capable of the most profound emotion and even the most piercing evil.  It’s no wonder everyone loves them.

Diana Damrau as the Queen of the Night. I think she could probably kill us all...

(Diana Damrau as the Queen of the Night.  The woman is legend already)

And I love a good soprano (my best friend is one.  It’s one of my favorite things to brag about), but often they overshadow the other voice types.  We’ll get to mezzos in a minute, but first let’s introduce the contralto.  As rare as a true soprano is, a true contralto is even less common.  Subsequently, they get the least amount of roles.  (Polinesso in Handel’s Ariodante is absolutely awesome, however.  Marie-Nicole Lemieux’s performance gives me chills of creepiness).  Luckily, I’ve heard that often they can do the roles usually written for mezzos.  Ah, imagine Rosina performed by a contralto?  Man, that would be gorgeous!

All right.  The mezzos.  There’s a saying that I will not repeat due to the inclusion of a word I’m not comfortable repeating, but the basic gist of it is that mezzos get only the witches, guys, and bad girls (or the maid that has all of two scenes).  Mezzos are rather underutilized, which is a real pity, but at the same time, the few central roles written for us are usually stellar.  Let me name off a few:

Azucena in Verdi’s Il Trovatore: Azucena is the mother of the ‘troubadour,’ an old woman whose last wish is to avenge her mother’s death.  She’s a sort of mad sorceress, a pinnacle of power within her ragtag group that gives her a kind of wary respect.  She’s only ever on her own side, and I’m inclined to believe that she lost her mind long before the start of the opera.

Elena Manistina (centre) as Azucena in the @Canadian Opera Company's performance of Il Torvatore

(Azucena)

Romeo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi: This opera is a retelling of the story of Romeo and Juliet.  Romeo is a determined youth whose heart is set on peace (and Giulietta), but who isn’t afraid of getting his hands bloody … unfortunately.  He’s a swashbuckling hero, brave but reckless, and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the happy ending he envisions.

Bellini - I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Joyce DiDonato (Romeo). Photo by Cory Weaver. San Francisco Opera 2012

(Romeo)

Carmen in Bizet’s opera of the same name: Who doesn’t know Carmen?  She’s basically the original ‘bad girl.’  A gypsy who uses her sensuality and cleverness to get what she wants, one doesn’t mess with her.  Her motto is, “Si tou ne m’aimes pas, je t’aime.  Si je t’aime, prends garde à toi!”  Basically, that means, “If you don’t love me, I’ll love you, and if I love you, watch out, bub.”

Elina Garanca and Roberto Alagna in Bizet's Carmen.

(Carmen)

That’s not to say that all the mezzo-soprano roles are stuck in these three stereotypes.  There are many alterations of these roles, and we also get the occasional ‘princess’ one, as well.  Rosina in Rossini’s Barber of Seville is one of the best roles a girl could ever hope for, and it’s usually performed by a mezzo.  (Kathleen Battle just didn’t cut it, sorry).  She’s kind of a spunky Cinderella — the count (it took me a moment to remember the word in English) falls in love with her and he, the barber, and Rosina begin a hilarious plot to free her from the clutches of her mean, overbearing guardian who wishes to wed her for her fortune.  It’s probably my favorite operatic comedy.

Joyce DiDonato, Cherubino, Lyric Opera of Chicago

(Joyce as Cherubino)

As much as I love sopranos and contraltos and despite the slightly-lacking repertoire for mezzos, I wouldn’t change my voice type for the world.  There’s a certain pride that comes with the voice (mezzo power), and the whole world is ripe for the picking.  Nicklaus, Cherubino, and Sesto are my friends.  Their stories have become mine.  As I strive to make my voice worthy of the music that belongs solely to them, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

Cheers!

Ana

“Hello. What’s Your Deepest Secret?”

Danger lurks around the bend  I’ve always struggled with character development.  I would get a great idea for a book, put together a cast of characters, give them names, and they would just stare at me with blank expressions, somewhere in their minds accusing me of not creating them properly.  And, as much as I hate to admit it, they were right.

My novel Metamorphosis was my trial-run.  I’d written before, and while my technique was good, the rest was sloppy and inexperienced.  I was working on a novel that had inspired Metamorphosis, and getting bored of it and excited for my new project, I abandoned it and began to write Fraina, one of my principal characters.

She had initially started in my mind as a Mary Sue — yuck, right?  Then her hair got shorn, I saw her petite little mouth always set in this tough line, and I witnessed the lightning-fast, penetrating look in her grey eyes.  She became real.

(My model for Fraina).

So, I hadn’t had much experience creating my own characters well before this.  I had always loved stories, but I had never really finished a novel.  Not even close.  I can’t tell you how many notebooks and Microsoft Word documents are two pages long, the few paragraphs filled with such promise, then abandoned when I realized I had no idea what to do with them.  The best I had done was a historical fiction novel that I really need to get back to and the sweet, pathetic story that helped Metamorphosis come to be.  (They will both get their spotlight.  Eventually).  Then Metamorphosis happened.  I loved the idea, the characters, and no matter how hard it was or how confused I got, I kept pressing forward.

Perhaps there is magic in the world.  Because somehow, miraculously, all the frayed strands wove together into something that I never could have accomplished alone.  Now I know how important it is to get to know your characters before you start your story, but thankfully my team of misfits didn’t kill me as we struggled to come to terms with the others’ idiosyncrasies and shortcomings.  As I wrote, I came to know them.  Brunnhilde and I had a bit where I thought she should be regal and wise, and she wasn’t having it.  She’s regal, yes, but in a fiery, wild way.  She was underdeveloped because we were constantly fighting over who she was — it pays to listen to your characters, because the story became so much better after I admitted that she was right.  (Thank you, Shelby, for helping me with that).

(Reference to Brunnhilde’s wings).

But with as much as I learned, even in the beginning chapters of my book, I still struggled with knowing who I was writing.  I didn’t understand how to accomplish that.  I asked my sisters, my friends, and they all said the same thing: ask them questions.  In desperation, I emailed my friend Mirriam Neal and begged for assistance.  She sent me a list of questions she asks her characters, and I still wasn’t sure exactly how to go about this.

I had a brilliant idea.  (Okay, being Christian, I understand that most of my brilliant ideas have had a little help getting through my often-thick skull, so I am immeasurably grateful for a God who puts up with me).  I simply wrote myself into a scene with them.  I basically had my five protagonists in Metamorphosis covered, but I needed real antagonists.  I knew their names, their species’, but nothing of their souls.  Here’s an example of my interview with Quintessa, the Amazon:

Ana shrugged. “You basically tell me what happens and I write it down. Everyone controls their own fate – I just make it happen, being the writer. But I can’t do it properly until I’ve talked to each of you and gotten to know you better. I’d rather write you honestly and as you’d like to be portrayed. I don’t want to make a mistake, y’know?” She refrained from reminding them that they were the villains, and in order for them to seem as powerful and real as they were, she really needed to interview them. She gestured at Quintessa. “Let’s start with you, babe.”

            One elegant eyebrow curved upward at the pet name, but she waved her hand and her companions rose and reluctantly left the tent, staring over their shoulders suspiciously.

            Ana dragged Takeshi’s chair closer until when she sat down her knees would be but a foot from Quintessa’s. Pulling out her dad’s laptop, she lifted the top and opened Microsoft Word.

            “One sec,” she said absently, frowning down at the screen. “Let me write down what you look like.” Jotting quickly, glancing continually up at the regal leader of the Invaders, she managed to write:

QUINTESSA

THE EPITOME OF ROMAN BEAUTY, EVEN IF HER HISTORY IS GREEK (NOT LIKE SHE KNOWS THAT). HER FACE IS OVAL WITH A PLEASANTLY DISTINCT JAW, RATHER RECTANGULAR. HER NOSE IS FIRM, AND HER EYES ARE LARGE AND BROWN WITH THICK, LONG LASHES. HER EYEBROWS ARE STRANGELY ELEGANT, AND HER CURLY DARK HAIR IS BRAIDED DOWN HER BACK. MAN, THIS WOMAN IS TALL! SHE IS ALSO VERY MUSCULAR, ALMOST LIKE A JAGUAR. OH, AND HER LIPS ARE MEDIUM-FULL.

            “There,” she said finally, “I think I got it. Can you read?”

            Her eyes narrowed. “No.”

            Ana shrugged, secretly relieved. “That’s fine. So, let’s get on with it.”

            “I thought we’d already started,” she said coldly, obviously irritated at the inconvenience Ana was proving to be.

            Ana laughed. “Not formally, no. I have a few questions suggested by a friend and I few I’ll add myself.”

            “Which friend?” Ana could tell that what she really meant was, ‘what does this person know about me?’ She didn’t care about ‘which friend.’

            “She doesn’t know about you,” Ana reassured her, “but she’s got some good interview ideas. So, what do you like to wear?”

            A corner of Quintessa’s mouth twitched, as if she were hiding a smile. “And I thought these would be deep, probing questions that I would be seriously reluctant to answer. This is a bit trivial, don’t you think?”

            “Don’t worry, we’ll get to the difficult ones soon, babe.”

As a result of my interview with a Vampire (ha, ha, I’m so funny!) and other beings, I truly was able to know and understand these individuals.  Despite their villainy, I love them.  I know their — sometimes-questionable — motives, their fears, their joys.  They blossomed into real people, one that someday, could even be called my friends.  (Considering they nearly wanted to murder me for invading their privacy, I doubt that it will be anytime soon).

Very Takeshi. XD

(Takeshi, the Vampire in Metamorphosis and my friend Ashley’s husband).

But even with this technique, sometimes it’s really hard to understand your own ‘babies.’  An idea I had after getting frustrated with Marian’s complete lack of interest in the project she’s the protagonist of was assigning them each a song.  I grew up a dancer, so my second home was backstage.  I have three different categories: Disney, Broadway, and pop.  (Opera’s hard to work with because a lot of it is so specific to the characters and plot of its own production).  My naughty characters were each given a Disney song and lovingly forced to perform it.  I would write from each of their perspectives as they had to belt ‘Cruella de Vil’ and ‘Let It Go.’  I carefully selected the songs that fit each of the characters — ‘Be Prepared’ for Magar, ‘I See the Light’ for Nicky and (an older) Piper — and as they performed, seeing their perspectives, getting used to writing their individuality, I became closer to them and could understand them even more.  Even their rage and irritation towards me for making them do all this helped me get to know them.  (Really, I’m lucky I’m alive.  Hugo wants my head).  They even had ‘I’ve Got a Dream’ as the grand finale — it was awesome!  So right now we’re struggling through the Broadway category, and it’s just as fun.  And Hugo may or may not need a restraining order.

Stages of Choosing A Disney Movie to Watch | Oh My Disney...@Jennifer Edgington Curley I feel like this was a way of life when we wanted to watch ANY movie in school...

(This — this right here is the definition of magic).

These are some of the ideas I’ve had to get to know my characters from the inside out.  They have become completely real to me.  I feel like they’re my friends, like they’re my children.  I love them very, very much — simply for being who they are.  I am so proud I get to share my life with them.

I genuinely hope that if you struggle with character development, that you can find ways to come to know your people.  Perhaps this blog post will help, perhaps it won’t.  But I know that you can find a way that will be true to you, your writing style, and your characters.  They will be some of your best friends.

Cheers!

Ana

To the Sound of Music

I have to apologize for my complete and total absence from everything but Pinterest.  We’re in the process of moving from the mountains down to the big city, and the stress has sky-rocketed.  We put our house on the market, and the old, horrible cycle of showings has begun yet again.  And I just found out that the feedback from the horde of realtors that descended upon us on Wednesday dealt primarily with clutter and stuff on the walls … i.e. my room.  My walls are my life.  Take my bed, my desk, anything — but not my few special stuffed animals, my books, or the things on my walls.  Sorry.  If you want to remain alive, leave me my walls.

The Emperor's New Groove is now on Blu-ray.  Click to order!

(L-yama, in Bolivian Spanish.  Not llllama.  Not yama.  L-y-ama.  Cool, huh?)

Anyway.  Hello again!  Now that you’ve been updated in the minute details of my life, I will progress to the fun part.

So I’ve said before that my novel To Befriend a Vampire has been giving me grief.  It didn’t want to cooperate.  Nicholas was sitting in a corner, pouting and clinging to his seat, and Piper was watching me in wary confusion.

When I write, music is involved.  While I was working on Metamorphosis (which needs to be edited fiercely), I was almost constantly listening to Korean pop, introduced to me by the amazing Mirriam Neal.  (Look her up and buy her book.  It’s called Monster and you will thank me for introducing you).  I would sit in the car and go through my entire collection of U-KISS songs, and something that really kept me going was assigning each song to one of the characters in the novel.  When, after an eternity of pumping words out, my brain would start to putter to a halt, I would take a small break and watch a music video.  It would rejuvenate my mind and I could continue with the story.

Neverland. ;D

(My boys).

Music somehow untangles all the colored strands of my imagination.  It soothes me and encourages me, and all the thoughts cluttering my mind and fighting for room in my imagination pay attention and cooperate.  For instance, when I’m struggling with math I’ll listen to the Japanese rock band the Gazette.  Their music calms me and keeps me from getting angry.  When I’m writing, it’s a little harder to know what to listen to.  The music has to coincide with the material I’m working with.  And, strange or not, it’s usually confined to one artist/group or particular genre.

the GazettE,  Go To www.likegossip.com to get more Gossip News!

(The Gazette.  Man, they mean so much to me).

Recently, I’ve found that I can’t write without the assistance of music.  It keeps me on the literary straight-and-narrow.  My youtube account consists solely of separate playlists for my varied projects.  I listen to U-KISS when I edit Metamorphosis.  Dream Dancers is American/British pop — and as an opera singer, that’s just strange for me.  But I’ve found that it fits.  (I think I’ll have to add some Tchaikovsky for Valkyrie, however.  That would make me happy.)  My Robin Hood/King Arthur retelling is, I think, all Heather Dale.  (She’s a Canadian singer who writes and performs songs based on old English legends.  Go listen to the Trial of Lancelot.  It’s gorgeous).  And To Befriend a Vampire … was empty.

Dreadfully empty.

I turned on my Disney playlist that I had put together, assigning a song to each of my characters (man, that was fun!).  It just didn’t work for my novel.  I tried without music.  No luck.

For fun, I began again to listen to the Wonderland musical my friend Ashley introduced me to — bam.  I had it.  It was fresh, (mostly) unassociated with my other projects, fun, and totally insane with a healthy dose of whimsy.  It was perfect.  So I put that baby on a playlist and began to add a slew of Disney songs — including stuff from Snow White.  As a child, I never realized how charming the music was.

Voila!  I could write.  The words flowed, the characters began talking to me again, plot points began to sprout like daisies, and we have worked together to create something beautiful.  Mind you, I’m only on chapter four, but with this music, Nicky, Piper and I can come together and make this into something amazing.

(Piper).

So that was my daily ode to music.

Cheers!

Ana