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Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend! Something that I was lucky enough to get in my Easter basket was the DVD of an old movie that I used to love catching on television when I was a kid: Cats Don’t Dance.

It’s this cute animated movie about a cat, and his other animal friends, who want to make it big in Hollywood. However, the people of Hollywood only give cats scripts with the line, “Meow,” on it. Therefore, the animals will just have to change the minds of the people of Hollywood and show them just how much talent and hard-work these animals really have. It’s all about following your dreams and never giving up. A bit cliche, yes, but sweet and totally relevant to anyone trying to make it big, especially in his or her creative pursuits.

Back as a kid, I never really understood the main meaning. I just thought it was a fun movie about singing and dancing animals. Now, though, it totally resonates with me. The last song, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us, was one of my favorite parts of the entire movie. While it’s not as big as I remember, it still invokes that sense of nostalgia and the meaning is right there.

Remember to always remain positive and to keep heading towards your goals, no matter what the naysayers say!

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Posted by on April 17, 2017 in Home

 

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Unstoppable Force

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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in Home

 

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Attractive Characters 

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2016 in Home

 

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Chasing Freedom

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During slow times at work, I tend to browse around on the Internet for a little while, sites like Yahoo with their news articles (and “so-called news” articles — seriously, some of the topics that they write about shouldn’t be newsworthy, like the cost of a celebrity’s leggings). Often enough, there will be articles showing off studies about millennials, how we think, how we work, what we want out of life, things like that.

Forgive me, but I wasn’t aware we millennials were a different species from the rest of humankind. Apparently we’re baffling enough to warrant these studies for the older generations (you know, the generations that raised us) of the world.

One of the major things I see regarding us millennials is how we’re different with the way we want to work and make our livelihoods. We’re not thrilled with the idea of 9 to 5 desk jobs. We want creative freedom in what we do. Yet, those 9 to 5 desk jobs are generally what pays the bills.

My job is a fantastic opportunity, one I’m not going to waste, but I’m not going to try to stop reaching towards the creative freedom I crave. I’ve been told that I’m set for life with my job, that with enough careful planning and saving I’ll be able to retire in just a few decades rather than six.

But I’m not my parents or grandparents. I’m not satisfied with a 9 to 5 desk job. Granted, they may not have been either, but back then their life goals may have been different than my generation’s. My generation is all gung-ho about chasing after our happiness, even if the money isn’t the best in our dreams. We’re the generation who is challenging the notion that you work just for money.

I’ve gotten amazing advice and support from my family, from the generations that came before me, and I will forever be grateful to them for it. Their advice will always be there in the back of my mind, but I also need to figure out my own path, forge my own way.

I think that’s how millennials baffle the older generations the most. We’re not content with just working to survive. We want more than that and we’re taking steps to get it.

(I mean, we’re probably still little pains sometimes to those older generations, but hey, that’s expected, right?)

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2016 in Home

 

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A Side Character’s Story

In between writing and work, Rachel and I have been playing video games. In particular, the game that we’ve been sweeping through is Paper Mario, a gem from the old Nintendo 64 era which we have on our Wii’s virtual console. Even non-gamers, I’m sure, know the Mario name. The guy’s been around since 1981 in the arcade game Donkey Kong when he was known as “Jumpman,” a year before he earned his familiar Italian moniker while playing the antagonist in his next game appearance. Being in over 200 games since then, Mario has become a well-known hero in the video game world.

The games in the Mario series are populated with all sorts of fun characters of all sorts of different species, from Mushroom Kingdom’s Toads to the colorful Yoshi dinosaurs to the shelled Koopas to the plant-like Piantas. Paper Mario is no exception, especially if one considers all of the partners and side characters that Mario helps and is helped by in the game. His partners are all helpful and have a purpose, both in and out of battle, but one of the side characters particularly amuses Rachel and me.

Kolorado and his snazzy mustache

Kolorado is a world-famous archaeologist in the console Paper Mario games. He frequently travels the world for history and treasure (much to the frustration of his wife). Mario meets him fairly early in the game at Chapter Two, and he just seems like a fun little character with a British accent. Later on in the game he actually accompanies Mario into one of the dungeons, an island volcano on the verge of erupting.

As creators, we populate our stories with so many characters to boost our antagonist’s and protagonist’s virtues, flaws, and goals. At times, promoting aspects of the main players of the story is the only purpose of the side characters. Many fall into cliche stereotypes, such as the mother hen, the dumb jock, or the brainy nerd, and are only there to push the hero (or villain) along.

Kolorado smashes through those stereotypes, proving that he’s more than just a simple side character. From his introduction into the game, the players are given a brief overview of his personality from meeting his wife, who complains about him not being home. He’s rash, always exploring, never settling down during his quests for treasure. Upon finally meeting him a little later, players find that he’s a friendly, curious sort. Even later still, he provides comic relief while courageously (or foolhardily) risking his life in an active volcano for Mario (and treasure).

Here is a character that has his own dreams to pursue rather than just being a plot device for Mario’s adventure. Here is a character whose personality is as well-rounded as a novel’s protagonist, with both virtues and flaws. Here is a character who is living his own life, even though the story’s spotlight is not on him.

Kolorado reminds us that every character, no matter how small a part they play in the novel’s overall story, has a tale of his or her own. He knows who he is, what he wants, and how to achieve his goals. Sure, he’ll help Mario if and when he is needed but, for the most part, he’s busy doing what he has to do for his life. Kolorado’s background and personality helps shape his story and his interactions with Mario which, in turn, help shape Mario’s story.

When sketching out a side character, don’t only figure out what he or she can do for your protagonist or antagonist. Figure out his or her character. What is their history? How did they get to where they are now? What made them the cheerful girl next door or the wise old man? What are your side characters’ dreams? What are they doing to achieve them when they are not interacting with the main characters? How do their goals shape them?

The main characters may be the heroes of your story, but every side character is the hero of their own.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Home

 

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A Mouse and a Leap of Faith

“Everybody needs a leap of faith… When are you taking yours?” – Nickelback’s “What Are You Waiting For?”

I must have been a dog in my past life.  A feisty little dachshund, to be exact, if one was to ask my coworkers.  Years ago when I had applied for and gotten the position to work at a dog day care and hotel, no one from my family and circle of friends had been surprised.  With my love of animals, it was a natural choice.

It had been a shock when, about four years later, I had announced that I was quitting.

I still loved the dog day care, and I hadn’t grown sick of it at all.  It was the first job that I had never dreaded to wake up and go to, and I had seriously considered making a career out of my position in that company.  Yet, I had other dreams that had been collecting dust in the back of my heart and it was about time that I took a leap of faith to make them come true.

Writing had always been a passion of mine.  My room was littered with notebooks, pens, and how-to books on crafting rich tales.  My Internet personas boasted of half-finished fanfictions from video games and movies, and of stories that were always works-in-progress.  There was no reason why I could not turn those works-in-progress into full-fledged novels.

My epiphany happened while vacationing with my younger sister in the most magical place on earth, Disneyworld.  With how busy the dog hotel was, especially during the times of year when schools were out and families were on vacation, that Disneyworld trip had been the first vacation I had taken in over a year.  It was at the end of August, a blazing time in Florida, and my sister and I sought out the indoor attractions and shops while collecting autographs from the face characters.

One such attraction that struck both my sister and me with inspiration was a certain gallery exhibit in Disney’s Hollywood Studios park, Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream.  We goggled at the artifacts that detailed Walt Disney’s life and how he created a monumental company that has always touched the lives of so many people.  It rekindled the spark of our dreams with writing. After all, Walt Disney was able to follow his dreams with just a mouse.  Why couldn’t we do the same with just a pen?

My sister and I have had many frank discussions regarding our dreams with writing ever since seeing that exhibit.  She has over a half a dozen first (and sometimes second and third) drafts of novels while balancing her full-time job along with school.  I have had only two completed first draft manuscripts.  Even though my work schedule had always been more sporadic than hers, she at least had the focus to complete her stories.  I still had the attention span of my past-life dachshund when faced with a squirrel.

I made a decision before the end of that Disney vacation.  With no debts to my name, I had a decent savings account that could allow me to take a few months off and work on my writing dreams.  A mere month after returning from that vacation, I left my job at the dog day care and hotel with bittersweet feelings.

Dogs are pack animals and most thrived with socialization and being around familiar faces.  I felt as if I had left my pack to try to establish my own, and I wasn’t sure about all the rules of the wild.  However, I had taken my leap of faith and, though it may take me a while to learn how to fly, I will soar.

I may have been a dog in a past life but, with my stories, I believe I have many lives ahead of me. I wasn’t going to keep them waiting any longer.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Home

 

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