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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Appreciation for Jane Eyre

Strangely, my college does not have a copy of the book in it's library. A grave oversight, but I plan to find it and buy it as soon as I get a chance, so it matters little.

While I could go on about my frustrations with certain elements of the plot, that isn't what I want to say today.

There's a quote in it I've been telling myself a lot lately. I'm not sure if it's actually in Jane Eyre, but I'm pretty sure it is. If it isn't, someone kindly direct me to the originator.

This is as well as I remember it:

Love this, tears are not weakness!

I suppose I should add that all of the things I hate, crying is probably among the top ten. But as is the case with most transitions, they come with tears.

I have told myself for years that crying is a sign of weakness. A message drilled into my head from a bullied childhood. I tell myself ferociously that you do not cry in public. Be strong, I tell myself. Never let anyone see you cry. Hardly helped that matters of true frustration and emotion are usually attached to my tear ducts.

Lately though, I've been feeling a certain amount of kinship for Jane. I'm not sure why. Maybe because right now, I'm in a position similar to hers--alone in a strange place, not sure where to go. Not really closely attached to anyone yet and wary of strangers.

No one's almost run me over with a horse and I haven't run into any broodingly handsome, enigmatic landowners, and I'm okay with that. Honestly.

Right now, I feel like Jane and I could sit over a nice cup of tea and commiserate over this weird period of transition. How you're trying to connect, to get attached and sometimes you feel a thousand times removed from the whole situation. How crying helps sometimes. And you hate that it helps.

Jane cries quite a bit in the novel (or from what I remember) and she never lets this stop her. She picks herself up and carries on. And for that, I respect her enormously. When I read the book the whole way through this time, I think I'll like her even more for that.

Anyways. Over & Out,
Rachel


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Follow the Yellow Brick Road Down the Rabbit-Hole





Though I am still writing Halcyon House and am quite determined to finish it, I am also busy with a new idea, a side project if you will, that is rapidly getting out of hand. All of my side projects get rapidly out of hand, I find.

Anyways, it's brought on a culmination of things, most specifically, re-tellings.

And The Wizard of Oz. 

I love the Wizard of Oz, book and movie. It's a classic and it's woven it's way into my every day language. As a little girl, I found myself reading it and putting myself right alongside Dorothy and her stalwart companions. I wanted to throw the bucket of water, outsmart the Witch and wear the Silver Slippers (not Ruby. That was on the part of the movie, because red showed up better on film). I haven't read the other books in L. Frank Baum's Oz series, but I may have to, if this project of mine keeps going.

I'm re-telling the Wizard of Oz. 

As aforesaid, this was brought on a few things. Watching Disney's Oz, the Great and Powerful earlier this year was one of those. While visually speaking it was stunning, plot wise...could've been better. I shall be forever bitter about Mila Kunis not being sassy. She deserved to be sassy. And even before that, the SyFy channel did the mini-series Tin Man, another lackluster re-telling that had some really great ideas...but less than stellar execution. Even with Zooey Deschanel as the heroine.

But beyond all those things, it was mostly brought on by the simple question: Why aren't there any good Oz re-tellings?

I mean, you get Alice in Wonderland reimaginings by the boatload. Books, TV series, movies. Oz got The Wiz, starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. And that slightly creepy made-for-TV movie back in the nineties, Return to Oz. I mean, electric shock therapy? The Wheelers? The switching of heads, for crying out loud. I wouldn't let the kids I looked after watch that movie.

And then I started thinking. Why do people love Alice so much? We understand her. We sympathize with her. She's thrown into the slightly scary, more than crazy, completely backwards (literally) world of Wonderland. She is, quite literally, the only sane person in the room and sometimes they question even that. She's all of us asking that universal question: What the heck is going on? 
we're all mad here.

But Dorothy? In the book, she's a little girl. In the movie, she's Judy Garland. She's sweet. She's kind. She's innocent and totally credulous. In Dorothy, we're not asking what's going on, we're asking, How do we get home? 

As a little girl, I read The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. I liked Oz better because there was a very definite story. Dorothy wants to get home. Simple as that. She meets a broad cast of characters who aid her or try to thwart her. All in all, it's more like a traditional fairy-tale than Alice. Alice is thinly veiled social commentary hiding behind a children's nonsense story. But I liked the character of Alice better than the character of Dorothy. Alice is sharp-tongued. She is impertinent, while trying to cling to the quintessential British decorum and courtesy, amid the lunatics of Wonderland. She is smart-aleck and sassy, much more like me rather than the sweet, good, kind Dorothy.

off to see the Wizard















But now I realize, Dorothy is grace under pressure. She is Vasilisa the Brave of Russian folklore, outwitting the iron-toothed Baba Yaga with kindness and integrity and good deeds. The kindness she shows to the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion inspire them to be heroes for her. Alice, in contrast, is an Appalachian Jack or Puss-in-Boots, who wins through cleverness and wit. What are Alice and Dorothy's flaws, my mother asked me, as I tried to explain all these feelings to her. Dorothy is too credulous, I said. And Alice is impertinent.

And then I asked myself, What would you do if you could re-tell Oz?

I'd make Dorothy older. Bitter. Jaded and cynical and would never wear a pair of sparkly shoes, regardless of the color. I'd make Oz into a place of decaying beauty and terror and treachery. I'd make the Wizard more than a humbug hiding behind a curtain. I'd make him subtle and scheming and smiling to your face while he reached for a knife to stab you in the back with. I'd make the Wicked Witch of the West more of an Elphaba of Wicked than an angry hag ready to kill for a pair of shoes. I'd make her a revolutionary, a firebrand, an oracle. I'd make Glinda the Good more than a smiling woman sitting on a throne, traveling by bubble, ready to wave a magic wand that makes everything better. She'd be a social reformer, a lady to her core, whose armor is courtesy and still carrying a knife.

I'd make Oz home to nomads and heretics and the desperate populace. Women with guns and itchy trigger fingers, men with swords and desperate hopes. Nomads who pray for a savior. I'd make it full of smoke and steam from broken down train stations and the shining City of Emeralds above it all, sitting on an ugly underbelly of grease and gears and wheels.

That's when I created my board, Outer Zone. 

Unlike Ayden, my other heroine, Dor Gale (as I've taken to calling her) is younger. Angrier. A survivor of the streets and group homes. She's no one's hero or savior and she hates taking orders. She doesn't want to be in what I've taken calling the O.Z. but returning to our world isn't an option either. I wanted her to be hidden under sarcasm and leather and a chip on her shoulder, only to have something great and good and blazing hiding underneath. To watch the Queen conquer. I wanted to disrupt the smiling world of Munchkins and Winkies and set it on fire, making it blaze with revolution. I wanted the yellow brick road to be overgrown and hidden, for sorry is the fool who underestimates the power of things long buried.

I look forward to exploring the O.Z.

Over & Out,
Rachel

Monday, July 29, 2013

Coming Up

So. Here I am. Almost the end of the summer. And what do I have to to show for it? Becoming alarmingly adept at Pinterest.

That's basically how I've spent most of this year. And the occasional sporadic bursts of writing.

But that's all in the past now. I must put aside such childish pastimes and become a Proper, Full-Fledged Adult.

In other words, I'm going to college.

As in, away.

From my home. For the first time. For six months.

At this moment, I am teetering between excited apprehension and sheer unadulterated panic, because heh, WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT BEING ALONE.

Well, that's not entirely true. I know quite a bit about being alone. I'm alone in my room at home. I'm alone at parties, reading a book. I'm alone outside, where I shouldn't be. But alone at a school with a thousand other kids who don't know me and aren't morally obligated to put up with me like everyone else I know, well, that's a whole 'nother ball game.

If I knew how to use gifs, I'd insert one here to show you my current feelings of panic. Maybe some day. When I have a Tumblr. Lord knows when that'll be.

Anyways.

I take this very seriously, because my parents are taking it seriously. This is time and money for them and I can not take their trust and finances for granted. So come August, I'm going.

I really don't want to have a panic attack on my blog, so here's something else that has Nothing Whatever to do with my upcoming departure.

Mainly, my fairy-tale board on Pinterest. 

Those who know me know I love fairy-tales. I wrote a thesis on it in high school, about how Cinderella is one of the universal stories of folklore everywhere. Nearly every culture has a some variation of a Cinderella plot, and I had fun doing research for it like you wouldn't believe. So this particular board is one of my favorites, because I use all the fairy-tale motifs I know of to write the captions for. Unlike the boards I use for my own personal writing projects, it doesn't bother me as much to know people repin them and keep the captions, because fairy-tales belong to everyone and if they inspire someone, then I have no complaints. Here is a pin or two that I'm pretty proud of:
lips, hair, skin. was this worth killing for, she wondered
lips, hair, skin. was this worth killing for, she wondered. 
half women, half bird, they sound like crows when they laugh and owls when they scream
half women, half bird, they sound like crows when they laugh and owls when they scream.
the mirror does not lie, she tells herself, the mirror does not lie. and the reflection laughs when she turns her back
the mirror does not lie, she tells herself, the mirror does not lie. and the reflection laughs when she turns her back.

I kinda feel these are worth making stories of. I hope it inspires you. 

Over & Out,
Rachel

Monday, March 18, 2013

Found Words

^THIS.
This sums up everything I wanted when comes to writing a confession.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Confessions of a Shipper Fangirl

My name is Rachel Flores and I ship things.

No, I don't have a ship with sails or anything (though I wish I did. That would be pretty cool). In certain shows, movies, comic books, fictional anything, "ships" are the relationships (ha-ha, see what I did there?) of two characters (usually male/female) and you basically want them to get together and live happily ever after with lots of babies. And you react hysterically whenever anything remotely looks like progress happens in the story and read way too much into every little interaction that goes on between them.

Tumblr does this, a lot. I don't, because...well, people look at me weird when I do. But just for once, I'm going to indulge myself. On my own personal blog. So there. *sticks out tongue like a five-year old*

So. Shipping. I ship a lot of things. Mostly canon couples. Some couples that haven't actually happened yet, but the writers/producers/actors keep hinting that will (officially called a "ship tease").

Right now, on the one TV show I watch with any kind of regularity (since it's bonding time with my little sister), it's Once Upon A Time and I am a full-on Captain Swan shipper. For those of you who aren't aware of the fan-name of this couple, it's Emma Swan (our hero) and Captain Hook (the sort-of villain), aka Killian Jones.





the hook and the swan; a story best left untold.

Yes, I know he's a bad guy. Yes, it's a cliche. But the last guy they paired Emma up with died right in the middle of their first kiss, for crying out loud. Regina crushed his heart. Killian hasn't actually died yet! Sure, he's got the snot beaten out of him several times (including and not limited to getting hit by a car of all things) and he needs to get rid of the black leather already (Cora got a "real-world" outfit, c'mon costumers, get with the program!), but it's just...I don't know. I think it could work. And I like him a lot better than Graham, the guy who died while kissing Emma (back in the first season) and as far as I'm concerned, Neal is out of the question.

(Baelfire is Neal is Rumpelstiltskin's son is Henry's dad. Everyone saw this coming.)

Ah-hem. Where was I?

Oh yes, Captain Swan shipping.

So currently, Killian's grand plan of revenge on Rumpelstiltskin is not working out. Not in the slightest. Presumably in the next episode next Sunday this is going to fixed. But eventually (I merely assume this is going to happen), everyone and their grandmother (literally, Granny wields a mean crossbow), is going to team up against the current Big Bad of the season, Cora. As soon as Regina realizes she's become a little girl again, trying to win her mother's approval.

But I just want Emma to be happy, okay? And the resident eyeliner-wearing pirate with one hand might actually do the job for her, dang it. And Henry would just, be totally in awe of him because he's Captain Hook.  From Neverland. With Peter Pan and the Lost Boys and Tinkerbell. And Hook's so...banter-y. This show sometimes severely lacks in banter, people. Real, honest-to-goodness, flirty/UST-laden banter. There's not enough of it.

And I honestly think that Hook might just get sick of being Cora's sort-of, kind-of, constantly-left-out-of-the-loop, left-behind henchman/lackey (because seriously, that's all he is at this point). And while he and Rumple are probably never ever, ever, ever (like, ever!) going to get along (ha-ha, see what I did there?), Cora's kind of the bigger concern here.

Alright, FINE! I just want them to kiss, okay? Kiss and be happy. Colin O'Donoghue is one darn good-lookin' Irishman.

And thus ends my shipper-fangirl rant of the day. I leave you all on this note:
 

Captain Swan: The Ship that Sails Itself.

Over & Out,
Rachel

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sisterly Instincts

Over the past few months, I've come face-to-face with a new phenomenon that's been sweeping the Internet and I just started getting into.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Long story short, it's a updated version of Jane Austen's immortal classic Pride and Prejudice, only set in the modern day with Lizzie Bennet as a twenty-four year old communications major still living at home with her overbearing, plotting mother, dry father, sweet older sister Jane who works in fashion, and her younger sister Lydia, a loud, brash, energetic party-girl who wants to have her moment of fame on the internet through Lizzie's videos and then her own.

You can see the first episode here.

It's everything and nothing you can expect from a retelling of P&P, because the way it's done is so brilliantly set into the modern day you can almost believe it's real. Do we know the story? Absolutely. Do we know how it ends? Of course. But there are just so many different nuances to this that I need a whole different post to get into it, but I'll stick to the one thing I did want to talk about.

Namely, the relationship between the Bennet sisters, both in the original novel and in this retelling.

Now, I hope I'm not spoiling anything for anyone, but I'm going to go ahead and assume everyone knows that the eventual incident that Darcy saves Elizabeth and her family in the original novel is Lydia runs away with the no-account rake Wickham and elopes with him. Of course, in seventeenth century England, where reputation is everything, this is a complete catastrophe. Nowadays, it's awful and devastating for a family, but maybe not as bad as it was back then (as not bad as a thing like that can be, anyways). So the one thing that always made me sad in the original novel was that Lydia gets no chance for any character development. None. That's left to her sister Elizabeth and to Darcy. Of course, that's why we love the novel, but I always wished I could reach inside the book and smack some sense into Lydia. I'm sure everyone does.

But the thing that makes the Lizzie Bennet Diaries so unspeakably brilliant and amazing (in my opinion at least) that they give that character of Lydia a chance to change, a chance for the audience to love her and root for her and worry for her. All the credit of course, goes to the show's writers and actors, namely Mary Kate Wiles, who does such an amazing job of walking the line between Lydia's brashness and vulnerability. Lydia in LBD is your classic younger sister/baby of the family. She wants attention, recognition, doesn't know how any way but the wrong way to get it. A character like Lydia translates seamlessly, sometimes painfully well into this modern day world of Tweeting, Facebook, videos and general over-exposure. Which is how she falls under the spell of the unscrupulous George Wickham (oh yes, he's in there). In LBD, Lydia finally gets what she was denied in the original P&P: character development. (Yes, it deserves underlining, bold and italicization.)


I have related so strongly to Lizzie in LBD that it almost scares me. I have a younger sister, who of course I love dearly, but who can also drive me nuts. We've had our fair share of screaming matches over the years. We clash and argue and fight and my mother yells at us and reminds me she's the only baby sister I have. I justify my harshness to her because "Hey, she's the baby of the family. Compared to the rest of us, she's got it easy. Someone's got to be tough on her, right?"

And yet. And yet.

It is not my place nor my right nor my job to be harsh on my baby sister. Despite what I think, her life is hard enough without me making it worse. I am not supposed to be part of her stresses and worries.

And that's what gets me about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, because it so clearly illustrates the push/pull, harsh/nurture aspect of an older sister/younger sister relationship.



This episode was the one that made me cry, because it touches so strongly that older sister instinct to protect your little sister, to defend her and reassure her of how amazing and clever and all-around spectacular she is. All things you lose sight of because all you can see right in front of you is the many ways she annoys you or drives you crazy or does everything wrong. It takes disasters to make you see all the things you should've done to be helping her, not tearing her down. The wish to hold her and reassure her of your love for her never changes, after everything. 

So yes. If all my yammering hasn't convinced you yet, watch the video (no matter how completely far along the story line it might be) and you'll see what I mean.

Over & Out,
Rachel

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Steampunk Adventures

It's a new year! Time for new adventures! New books to read! New genres to explore! New guys to crush on! (As the previous post proves.)

So. As per the title, I'm dipping my toe into the shallow end of the steampunk genre. Steampunk, for those of you who aren't "in the know," (well, not that I am, that much) is a sub-genre of science fiction where steam/electricity was discovered early, usually in Edwardian/Victorian England and technological advances are, well...more advanced than the time period allows.


A prime example of steampunk fashion/modus operandi for women is usually leather corsets, fancy hats, clockwork and over-sized guns. A man's suit will invariably feature a top-hat, goggles, and some kind of cogs and wheels.

Now, I'm all for exploring new things. Seeking out new genres I could write. Steampunk is one of those things I don't know that much about, but I'd like to know more, if only for the cool things that are featured within. I don't think I could write it, since it requires me to do things like know about math, science, machinery and all those other things I'm not good at, but since it is fantasy, I could just make up what I don't know. So there is that!

But over the past two weeks, I've read two books that qualify as steampunk, and these are my thoughts thereof.

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress.

And The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent.

Of the two, I liked The Friday Society better than The Unnaturalists, because The Friday Society features three rotating narrators, Cora Bell, Nellie Harrison, and Michiko Takeda, all intelligent, interesting, talented, sassy young ladies who solve crimes--in 1900 England. With this book, the steampunk influences are not as obviously overt as, say, The Unnaturalists and the voices of the three ladies is refreshingly modern and not as overtly dated for readers who aren't accustomed to reading books with a old-fashioned voice.

In contrast, The Unnaturalists is very steampunk, featuring an alternate reality where Nikolai Tesla somehow managed to create a mirror, alternate version of London where magic is outlawed and science is the religion--literally. Scientists like Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur and Charles Darwin are considered Saints (capital letter and all). Vespa Nyx, our heroine, is the daughter of a naturalist who catalogues unnatural creatures like gryphons, dragons, sylphs and the like. Now, the world-building in this book is amazing and very in-depth--maybe a little too in-depth, because there were times when I wished for a pamphlet or something to go along with it, just to explain certain aspects to me. There is, of course, the inevitable pull/push between magic and science, how this world needs both to survive. Nomadic tribes of Tinkers (inspired by a people in Nepal) wander around the countryside, practicing illegal magic and protecting creatures like the Manticore and the Golden Dragon.

Now, for readers looking to explore the world of steampunk, for my part, I would read The Friday Society first and then The Unnaturalists, as to have a point of reference to go on. That being said, steampunk is gaining ground as my new area of interest--though if I ever write it, well. That remains to be seen.

Over & Out,
Rachel