Of love and of worry, Part 3

Of love and of worry, Part 3

In part 2 of these series, Of love and of worry, I discussed the real life consequences of Edward’s behavior towards Alice and Bella in one particular scene. I said that Edward’s behavior which was caused by worry could have led to Alice doubting his brotherly love for her and Bella fearing to tell him about his faults.

Are these projected consequences exaggerations? Repeated behavior shows character. Edward was always worried/afraid and his worry/fear always made him behave badly. (in New Moon, he breaks up with Bella because he’s, *big surprise*, worried about her safety and her humanity. In the same book, he’s afraid that she committed suicide, so instead of finding out more from Alice, he overreacts and tries to kill himself by going to the Volturi. This action exposes his family to the jealous nature of the vampire government; This is the source of most of their problems in the next two books.)  I’ve noticed that some romance writers don’t really analyze the long term meanings behind their protagonists’ ‘romantic’ behavior. If these writers really did think through it, they would see that no one actually wants a ‘soul mate’ like the one they write about.

 What did Edward achieve by worrying, only to hurt and put his family in danger? People may think that Bella saw his love for her through his worry, but how does raising your blood pressure and mistreating others around you, including the person you claim to love, show someone that you love them? If love is an action, then what did Edward’s actions show? A lot of books have characters who behave in similar ways. More dangerously, in real life, people expect their love ones to worry about them. It gives us pleasure if we know that people are worried about us. It hurts us if people don’t worry or fear for us; we would feel like they didn’t have affection towards us. (Carmen in the movie Sisterhood of the travelling pants, is an example). Once again, what does people worrying about us really accomplish for us or for them?

How can writers cut down on writing 3 pages of ‘I’m worried about my love interest’? what you can do is to have your characters think about how they don’t see the benefits of worrying, instead of worrying.  So they could write something like:

*my rendition of the Eclipse scene I described in LOVE AND WORRY PART 2 above, but from Edward’s perspective.*

I felt fear’s cold, strong hands grip my heart. Bella was in danger, again. How could Alice have….

I quickly blocked that thought. What good did it do for me to get angry at Alice? Now was the time to be in one accord, not to be angry with the one person who could see the future. Besides, I wasn’t going to  let fear win. I was no use to Bella if I let fear dictate my decisions like it had when I thought she had committed suicide.

I resumed breathing.  Vampires don’t need to breathe, but doing so helped me to think, to be rational.

Writers, think through how your protagonist’s worry really affects those around them. Think through what it says about a person that expects others to worry/ be afraid for them.

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Of love and of worry, Part 2

A preacher, Kenneth Hagin, learned to stop worrying from a young age. However when he got married, his wife was a worrier. (The general belief is that mothers/wives are supposed to worry about their families. You’d be considered a bad mother if you didn’t.) Mrs. Hagin worried a lot and would get angry that her husband just never seemed to worry. So one day she accused him saying something like, ” if me and the kids drop down dead right now, you wouldn’t even worry about it, would you?”. Mr. Hagin basically replied, ” no, I wouldn’t because if you guys are dead, then I don’t need to worry about you.” That may seem heartless to some people but it’s so true and smart! What do you accomplish by worrying?

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Jesus said,” Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:27) Think about it, what do you accomplish by worrying, only to raise your blood pressure and damage your health? People may think that if they didn’t worry they wouldn’t get things done. However, you can still get things done and not worry about them. So why add worry  to it?

Here is one scene in Twilight’s Eclipse by Stephanie Meyers: Alice Cullen, who can see visions of possible future events, missed one vision that was a threat to Bella, Edward Cullen’s girlfriend. Edward, who claims to love his sister (and he really did have affection for her), spoke harshly to her because of her mistake. Bella tells him to stop talking angrily to Alice (cause he was really mad). Edward then turns on Bella, with a glare. After a few seconds, he calms down and apologizes. The book doesn’t delve further into this issue, but leeclipse-alice-cullen2t’s imagine this scene happened in real life. How do you think Alice felt? Like her brother loves her only if she doesn’t miss a vision. She’s only worth something to him when she doesn’t miss a vision that is important to him. So these thoughts come knocking at her door whenever he asks her about another vision or whenever he’s not around (It seems like I tend to remember the hurtful things loved ones have done to me when they are not around.)

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Furthermore, Edward is all worked up because he’s worried about his love, Bella. So what does he do when Bella tells him to stop mistreating Alice? He turns on her (his love) in anger. What does this show Bella? That whenever you caution edward-and-bella-cullen-nuevo-poster-de-y-swan-con-las-imagenes-113020Edward on his behavior, there is a strong possibility that he’ll get angry at you, so maybe it’s best not to tell him his faults………

to be continued……

Sushi for one by Camy Tang

Sushi for one

by Camy Tang

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There are four books in this series and I’ve read all of them. The first book is about Jenny, sports lover, and fantastic volleyball player. She has an issue with people touching her. She is also, according to her rich, manipulative, and powerful grandma, the next person in line who should be married otherwise say goodbye to Grandma’s funding of your volleyball team.

 Grandma demands a boyfriend, and Jenny quickly tries to find another donor to no avail. So the search for a boyfriend begins.

Meet Aiken, masseur,  sees Jenny from afar and knows that she’s the woman for him. Then he finds out that she’s cousins with and close to a woman he dislikes. At first he is wary, but he finally decides to try to get close to Jenny and comes to play volleyball at Jenny’s Gym. The story moves on from there, with humor, pain, and romance.

I liked this story because it was interesting and had its funny moments. It’s a romance story, but it has more to it than just romance. The  characters are vivid, realistic, and the story touches on issues like sport, family, relatives, work, sisterhood, dating, and food. This series touches on food a lot.

When you reach me by Rebecca stead

When you reach me by Rebecca stead

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This book was the winner of the Newbery Medal award in 2010 and I agree that it deserves it. It is really good, really good. I can’t really explain much about it because you see, a lot of things seem random in this book, but they’re really not, and if I were to tell you some of these ‘events’, you may think I’m giving you unnecessary information.

The story is set in New York in 1978-1979, the era of a popular game show called $20,000 Pyramid. The narrator, Miranda, who is also the main character, narrates to someone (we don’t know who) that she received their letter. Now, this letter and the subsequent ones are bizarre not only because they are prophetic, but also because they demand something from her. It is this suspense of who is writing her these letters that makes the reader want to finish the book. There are other minor suspense issues like why her guy best friend stopped talking to her etc.

All I can say is read the book, it’s good. I can’t go into too much detail because like I said before, what appears to be unimportant is not at all. This book also deals with Madeleigne L’Engle’s book, A wrinkle in time. You don’t have to have read Ms. L’Engle’s book to understand this book though. In fact, after you read When you reach me, you might decide to read A wrinkle in time. I’ll say that this book is slightly sad, but then again, not really.

The characters are well defined; the writer shows their personalities, she doesn’t state them. Even now I can conjure up an image of them in my mind. The story itself is also good. It is simple to read and heartwarming. Don’t get turned off by the fact it’s about kids in middle school, set in the 1970s or its randomness, remember it won the Newbery medal award.

Of love and of worry. Part 1

Of love and of worry. Part 1

What’s worry got to do with love? If you read a lot of books where there is romance, whether they be romantic books, fantasy etc, you’ll see that love seems to be represented through worry. The main characters care for their love interests by worrying about them. And writers can fill pages talking about their characters’ worries. The Twilight series did this a lot. Bella, the main character, was always worried about everyone. Edward, her love interest, was always worried about Bella’s safety. His worry for her seemed to be testament of his love for her. However, I believe that love has nothing to do with worry. In fact, worry’s real face is very ugly.

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Here are some synonyms for worry: be anxious, be afraid, be concerned, fret, agonize, be bothered. I like the word agonize to describe worry; it has the same root as the word agony, which istorture synonymous with the word torture. How much can you love someone that tortures you?. It may seem like you love your family, kids, boy/girl friend, spouse, etc., and still worry about them; but I want to  redefine love.

I don’t define love as a feeling because feelings are so unstable, fickle, and inconsistent. Today you feel affectionate towards someone, tomorrow they irritate you, and you hate their guts. I like the Bible’s definition of love because it has to do with actions (1 corinthians 13:4-7): Love is patient, kind, not rude, not easily angered, not self seeking, long suffering, keeps no record of wrong, etc.  So love is really something you choose to do, not something you feel. (check out this man’s love for his wife)

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Worriers tend to behave in a manner that is the reverse of these love actions mentioned above. They blow up and lash out at those around them, especially their ‘loved ones’. They say hurtful things in hurtful ways, that once you’ve said or done them, no apology will remove those words or behavior. Hurtful words and actions can remain in people’s memories for years to come. They hurt relationships and stall intimacy. We then wonder how things got so bad. The truth is that some big problems can be traced back to  worry.

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While I’m not blaming worry for all the problems in relationships, nevertheless, think about it, think about the times you got angry with a loved one. Delve deep into the reason why you got angry. It may not be because you were worried for that loved one; it could be that you were worried about being late, worried about money, worried about work. How did you treat that loved one when they didn’t get into the car quick enough? When they did something that cost you more money etc? Worry doesn’t make people behave kind, patient or peaceable (all attributes of love), no, it makes them behave unkind, impatient and angry. And the interesting thing is that there is a verse in the Bible that says:

          There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  1 John 4:18

(fear is a synonym of worry)

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So I say: Writers, stop showing love through worry. Worry and love have nothing to do together. Loved ones, stop worrying. It doesn’t help you love each other as you should.

The problem with book series that are longer than a trilogy

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I recently started reading a series by kristen Britain. The first book is called Green Rider. I shouldn’t have read them in the first place without thoroughly checking what was going to happen in each book. I knew that the series was more than a trilogy and wasn’t yet finished. I’m always wary of series that go over 3 books. However, I was book hungry and decided to take the plunge without doing any spoiler readings. By the time I finished reading the second book, I was emotionally attached to the story. That was when I decided to check out the spoilers for the other books. What I found out left me so disgusted and sad. The author took something very pure and dragged it through sewage. And the series has no end in sight with the author herself saying that she enjoys torturing her readers. (You see why you’ve got to read the spoilers)

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Series which go on and on with no specific number to stop at tend to go in the same direction as Ms Britain’s series. They have no ultimate destination or goal (example- wheel of time). The readers and maybe even the author don’t know the final destination of the book. That’s why they are so long. It’s like the author has thought up some good characters, a good starting story, but has no idea how it’s all going to end up. I’ve also noticed that these type of series start getting soap opera-ish (ahem… Wheel of time series, Green rider books).

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The ending of a series is hard (remember Harry Potter), but stories have to end. Some readers (like me) can’t/don’t want to spend a decade waiting for the release of new books in the series.

There are, however, series which are long but don’t have this problem. One of them has been my favorite book, series, whatever, since I was 12 years old. I’m talking about David Eddings’ Belgariad series. There are five books in the series, and it also has another five book sequel, The Mallorean, making it ten books in total.

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I can hear you saying, “How can I condemn long series and then tell you that my favorite book(s) is a series that has five books and an actual total of ten books?” I can do so because in the Belgariad and the Mallorean there is a goal, one goal. The first book in each series set basically tells you what that goal is. So as you read each book, you see the characters getting closer and closer to the goal, and the final book is the achievement or failure of the goal.

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The same thing can be said for Harry Potter which is seven books. Once again, the first chapter or rather prologue of the very first book basically tells you that Voldemort will come back to ‘life’, and you can obviously deduce that when he does, he’s going to try to finish the job he started with Harry Potter. Each of the following books then moves us towards the “resurrection” of evil incarnate, aka Voldemort, and then him trying to finish his job on Harry.

Finally, these authors also don’t get sidetracked from their goal. They move us relentlessly towards it, building anticipation and suspense. My advice: if you’re going to read a series that is more than a trilogy, go read the spoilers. If from the spoilers you find that there is no final goal, or that you don’t know whether you’re any closer to the final goal by the end of the third book, then it might be a very good idea to not read the series.

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Cruel Writers what’s your point?

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CRUEL WRITERS  what’s your point?

Hey you! That’s right I’m talking to you! You cruel writers who take pleasure in making your readers suffer. That’s right you guys. You know who you are, whether you’re a tv show script writer or an author. Listen to me, stop killing off loved characters, characters that you’ve made us love dearly, characters whose deaths make us cry, whose lives are unfinished. Stop playing God, you’re NOT! And even He isn’t like that. He’d rather kill himself than kill another person(hello, Jesus). If you’re gonna kill a loved character, make sure it won’t hurt the readers too much. (offenders: Divergent, Jk Rowling- the worst was Fred Weasley)

Stop writing about love interests sleeping with other people than themselves because they got drunk, or some evil person gave them a love potion and so addled their brains that one night (offender: Kristen Britain- Green rider books). Stop using some lame excuse as to why the love interests can’t be together, like she got injected with a disease that only he can contract (offender: Dark Angel), or that his future self went back into the past to warn them about the dangers of being together(offender: Roswell). Stop stretching the courting dance to 4 seasons or 4 books, stop the dance in the second book or the third one, and let them get together(The Mentalist, Bones, Kristen Britain). You tv show writers know what I’m talking about.

Stop marrying love interests off to people other than themselves or making them have a baby with another person, only to then leave this person for their real love interests (offenders: The mentalist, Frasier). It’s just messy and removes any endearment one has for these main characters. Plus, we know what you’re trying to do in these cases; You’re trying to stretch your story beyond its limits, but guess what? There are some stories that just can’t be stretched.

Stop raising our hopes of a possible love match for more than one season or book only to dash it to the ground for whatever reason tickles you (Robert Jordan- Wheel of time, all love triangle authors). Why should we read about and hope on something that’s never gonna happen? And STOP WRITING ABOUT LOVE TRIANGLES BETWEEN 2 LIKEABLE MEN OR WOMEN (offenders: the Hunger games, Firelight, Twilight, The Selection, and so many other books). If you’re gonna go the Twilight Jacob/Renesmee way or something similar, or if you make one of the suitors despicable, then fine. Nevertheless, hearing a woman moan about having to choose between two men is kinda irritating.

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Finally, just write a good story that makes people happy at the end. Remember you’re writing fiction not the constitution of a country. If no loved character dies or is permanently and seriously hurt: GREAT!

 

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Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

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Ella Enchanted was read to my sixth grade class by our Language arts teacher, Mr. Boticelli. He added different voices to each character and so made the story more exciting. I was transported to this fantasy world through the eyes of Ella of Frell. If  you’ve watched the “movie” ….. all I can say is forget about it and just READ the book. The movie has no real connection with the book. And if you’ve read the book and just now found out that there is a movie about the book my advice is: Steer clear.

Ella is the daughter of a noble born woman and a rich merchant. When she is born, a certain fairy named Lucinda, who has a habit of appearing uninvited at births and weddings to give a “blessing”, appears. Her “blessing” to Ella is that Ella will always be obedient. Now, I can hear some parents saying “what’s wrong with that?”. Read the “blessing” again; did Lucinda specify who Ella would be obedient to and for how long?  No, all she said was that Ella would be obedient. So Ella has to obey ANYONE who gives her an order and if she refuses, she gets instantly sick. Do you realize how many orders we give every day? Sometimes we say things like, “forget I said anything”, or “stay clear away from the movie Ella Enchanted”, and guess what? Ella would have to do so.  For her own safety, Ella’s mother orders her to never tell anyone about this “blessing” of hers.

At the burial of her mother (yes, she dies), Ella meets the prince of the land who tells her that he knows a lot about her due to servant gossip and this is where their friendship starts. Ella is then sent to finishing school by her father and unfortunately meets someone who figures out that Ella has this peculiar ability to always obey orders. So this person takes devilish delight in making Ella her personal servant. This finally pushes Ella on the journey to break her “blessing” .

The characters in this book are easy to like and to hate. However , don’t expect all of them to be one-sided, especially not the prince. The protagonist Ella is not a spoiled rich brat, but a strong, funny, and caring character that I came to like. A minor criticism could be that the antagonists are portrayed as unattractive, but then again, if they were portrayed as beautiful, it would be annoying because writers also like to make beautiful people the bad guys. The story is funny and interesting, no boring or slow bits either.

The Twinkie squad by Gordon Korman

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Okay, you’re going to see a lot of Gordon Korman books in this blog because I read him when I was a teenager and I still read him. He wrote his first book in 7th (This can’t be happening at Macdonald Hall). It wasn’t because he was this ” genius”, but because he had to hand in an assignment at the end of the year. This book was his assignment. Now, let me warn you, Gordon Korman’s early books are hilarious. I haven’t had the chance to read much of his newer adventure and mystery books, so I don’t know how funny they are. This book is an “early Korman”, so be prepared to burst out laughing a lot when you read it.

The Twinkie Squad is set in Washington DC at a middle school. Armando Rivera, aka Commando, 6th grader, popular basketball star, political activist, and anti-bullying vigilante meets Douglas Fairchild, “misunderstood” 6th grader and child of a world renowned politician. And that is the end of Commando’s cool status. Due to an unfortunate incident with Douglas, Armando is forced to join the Special Discussion group, aka the Twinkie squad.

The Twinkie squad is made up of kids who have some real social problems. For example, one member Yolanda, lives for movies. she rarely attends school, goes to the cinema instead, and impersonates movie characters. Another member hates everyone and almost everything, and lets everyone know it. The whole school generally knows who the “Twinkies” are and view them as “wackos”. Being a Twinkie is social suicide. Douglas Fairchild is also a member of the Special Discussion group (remember his ‘problem’ is: misunderstood). While Doug is “the Twinkie of all Twinkies”, his joining of the Twinkie Squad will make the whole school rue the day they made fun of the Twinkies.

This book is very funny and the characters are likable. It’s the type of book that just the memory of it can make you burst out laughing, so I wouldn’t advice that you think about it when you’re in a serious meeting. There are no boring bits in this book. Don’t be turned off by the fact that it’s about kids in middle school; the story itself is not childish, nor is the comedy. Children and adults both can read and enjoy.