***Please note, if you have not seen The Last Jedi yet and are one of the few who have not already read about the whole movie in detailed analysis from the hundreds of articles written in the wake of its debut, then this may contain spoilers.
When it comes to Star Wars, you have a wide fan base, from new generations of movie lovers to old. You have the fans who watched it as children with wide eyes filled with wonder and grew up loving movies. Now, as adults, these hardcore Star Wars fans have expectations that may never be satisfied. I am, of course, addressing the mixed reviews the latest installment, The Last Jedi, received from its rabid fans. No matter how well something is done, when you add to something so beloved as Star Wars many years later, the purists are going to take some issue with something in the universal rules or character development. I get it. I don't agree with the negativity in this instance, but I get it.
Although I grew up watching the movies, and even remember seeing the Return of the Jedi in the movie theater when I was about four years old (Jabba the Hutt just stands out in my brain), I would not classify myself as a fanatic. I like the movies a lot. But I'm not the one who bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale or collect Star Wars Legos. That's my husband, who is a Star Wars junkie. He's not your average fan boy, his inner geek only shines in these moments. So perhaps that is why his love of Star Wars is still intact, and he thought the newest movie was awesome. But like many, his favorite so far of the new ones has been Rogue One. It's gritty and dark. Blah, that was too sad for me, although inspiring. So on with my review of The Last Jedi.
What I Liked:
•As I've said in the past, Star Wars presents strong female characters. The strong character development of Leia was before her time, followed in more contemporary times by Jyn Erso and Rey. These woman have agency, they have character, and they are the heroes in the story. Leia as the resistance leader in The Last Jedi is emblematic of a time when women are rising and leading contemporary rebellions against an administration perceived by many to be deeply corrupt and unjust.
•I absolutely fan-girled over the connection between Kylo Ren and Rey. Not in an, I'm totally shipping over them (that's just too complex a relationship to root for), but the mystery and meaning behind that connection is fascinating. She's the light in the force, he's the dark in the force, and despite their mental connection being created by Snoke, they have chemistry and a desire to help the other one find the right side. I'm intrigued to see where their connection takes us in the next movie and whether Kylo Ren can be redeemed. Do they have a deeper connection than we even know yet? I find it thrilling.
•The dual perspectives I didn't realize I was even watching until it was posed so eloquently in an article I read, was Poe Dameron's and Admiral Holdo's. Earlier in the movie, you see through Poe's eyes, the man who wants to be a hero, who doesn't run away but takes risks and sometimes without much thought uses violence to try and win the day, and as the audience, you root for him. But then the flip side is revealed when you see Admiral Holdo's perspective and fully grasp the whole picture. I delight in such writing and the delayed awareness of how brilliant it was.
•Leia's use of the force was one of my favorite parts. In canon, she's always been force sensitive. In a dire moment when she'd die otherwise, she's able to harness her sensitivity and use it to save herself. It's truly an amazing send-off for the character and symbolic of the strength both Leia and Carrie Fisher have within.
ªAs my brother pointed out, Yoda was messing with Luke just like always. Once he drew this parallel for me, the scene with Luke and Yoda became that much more meaningful and funny. Now everyone, pause for a minute and watch this video:
What I didn't like:
•I admit, while I agree wholeheartedly that Rey's parents being junkers allows her character to illustrate that greatness can come from humble beginnings is really relevant and awesome, I was a little disappointed at the revelation. I have come to embrace it more fully, but I think the hype for two years around who her parents were was the primary reason for this letdown.
•I don't like when people I like die, so I was a bit peeved that Luke bit the dust in this movie. I get the whole, forging a path for the new generation and letting the old ways die, but come on.
If it it's not obvious, I give this movie an A+. I think I've become a bigger Star Wars fan than I was ever before because I feel like it can be used to inspire those who have decided to become rebels in their own right, who are fighting for the light. I actually had written this review shortly after seeing it, but the page closed on me and I lost it all. So while that was a bummer and it's taken me an extra week to re-write it, reading some of the smart analysis on the movie has clinched my love for it. Here's a quote from an article written on Bitter Gertrude by Melissa Hillman that just makes the meaning behind the film that much deeper:
"The nearly all-white, overwhemingly male, privilege-based way of thinking that celebrates war culture and toxic masculinity and that created the First Order has to go, both in the larger world and as it’s internalized in our hearts and minds, and in its place will be something entirely new, created by diverse young people who are walking away from war culture, walking away from toxic masculinity, walking away from systems of privilege ... The future is brown, and female, and brilliant, and fierce, does not give even one single fuck about the way things used to be."
Quick Note: Hello, dear readers! It has been some time since I have traversed the pages of my blog with anything new. But I'm back from the purgatory I have been in as I revamped Fractured Dream, and I'm ready to become a blogging member of society again. So here goes!
I recently watched Wonder Woman (finally!). She is by far my favorite super hero. I first began watching Linda Carter kick butt as the Amazonian heroine when I was only four or five years old. But I can remember how much I wanted to be like her. I would run around outside, imagining I was her. When my older friend Megan came over to play, I'd let her be Wonder Woman and I'd be Wonder Girl. Us girls have to share the power, after all.
The movie was as amazing as I hoped. Am I silly for getting choked up a bit watching it? I'm a bit overly sentimental at times, it's true. What I found empowering, was that this movie was finally made and the rave reviews it received after its debut. It just seemed to encompass the entire female power element.
In literature and shows, I am drawn to the powerful female. I believe Wonder Woman inspired this in me at such a young age. Quite frankly, a fictional character helped set me on the path to becoming the proud feminist I am today.
Since then, many women, both real and imagined, have continued to be inspiring forces. Super heroes come in many form such as in mothers (Hi, Mom), literary figures (RIP Maya Angelou), political figures (you rock, Kirsten Gillibrand), historical figures (Thank you, Susan B. Anthony), and so many more. But fictional characters have also had a huge impact, whether they represent the fictional or non-fictional narrative. They don't all wear capes or take down men twice their size. They use their words, hearts, intellect, and voices. My writing is a part of my voice.
I have always been drawn to strong female characters, in all components, and I will continue to write women and girls with that spirit in mind and hopefully discover new worlds to weave for them to save or survive in. Because I believe in the power of the fictional character. In our minds, she comes alive. <3
Today I saw a quote from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which still stands as my favorite TV show of all time: "Every girl that could have the power will have the power. Can stand up. Will stand up." For those who have never watched the show, this is from an epic moment in the last episode of the season. To me, it says you don't have the potential to be strong, you are strong.
I've always loved the moment in stories when the woman takes back her power or finally wields what she has had inside of her all along. I'm a Wonder Woman lover, but Helen Keller is my hero, and I miss Maya Angelou's voice. The women who fought for our rights in this very real life story are inspirations. International Women's Day honors those women before us, it honors us, and it brings awareness to the disparities that still exist in equality in our country and around the world.
I've always recognized the day, but this year it means far more to me than it has in the past. If this country's political climate has shown me anything, it's that we are still fighting for our rights. That we need to still fight for our rights and for our voices to be heard. It has shown me that despite my own experiences with inequality in the work place, I have been privileged enough to not fight too hard before. I have been too unaware of the struggles going on every day.
As each day ticks by and another fight arises to maintain our rights or the rights of our fellow human beings, I find myself reminded of Story, Jess, and Kestrel from my book Fractured Dream or Blake and Shelby from the Reaper's Daughter. I write strong female characters because I believe in the inner strength that we possess. Magic is awesome, but they beat all odds not because of their special powers, but because they recognize their inherent power within. Because they persevere against all odds. Because they persist. I think often about all the books I've read where women fight against oppressors, fight to make the world brighter, fight to save the world. I think about Buffy. And I think about all the women fighting for their rights around the world. But instead of magic, they use their intellect. Instead of super strength, they use their voices. Instead of battles, they march.
Today, I am unabashedly proud to be a feminist. I believe in equal rights for women. I believe in equal rights for all human beings. Happy International Women's Day to all the amazingly strong women in real life and to those who have inspired us in fiction. As Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said, "Well behaved women never make history." And as Mother Teresa said: "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples." Let's make it ripple.
When I first met my husband, hell, even when I married him, I had no idea he was such a huge Star Wars fan. While I knew he loved the series, it wasn't really until Disney bought the franchise that he began the geek out. So probably needless to say at this point, I saw Rogue One, the newest installment in the Star Wars world, this past weekend.
I've always been a Star Wars fan as well, but not to his level. Lately, Star Wars always seems to be on in the background when he's home. But I grew up watching them, and so I was really excited about the Force Awakens when it came out last year. I wasn't so much about Rogue One. While not technically a prequel, it is a precursor to events and ties in so well it is effectively a prequel to the Death Star plot line. And even though as a writer I've written my own prequel, I do have a hard time getting excited about them. But when I saw the one line played many times in commercials leading up to the release, when Jyn Erso says, "Rebellions are built on hope!" I was so sold. It's been a bumpy 2016 for our country and I am feeling entirely rebellious.
What I liked: Once again, Disney (and the franchise itself) has no problem with women characters being strong and self-sufficient and having full agency over themselves. The fact that the two newest movies feature females as the main protagonists and so many geeking out men didn't bat an eyelash, makes me supremely happy. Girl power!
Felicity Jones. I love her. I want to see more of her. There was not one moment while watching her that she was anything but Jyn Erso to me. Her physical and emotional responses were lively, deep, and wrought with fiery emotion, while other times it was more nuanced within the glimmer of her eye. She's angry but vulnerable. More than anything, she's inspired. I got just as much delight seeing her deliver the, "Rebellions are built on hope!" line watching it in the movie as the first time I saw it in a commercial. Having more context just made it better. Sometimes scenes that seem momentous in trailers don't pan out in the reality of the scene, but this one did for me.
Apparently, certain scenes that depict rebel alliance characters from the original movies were actually from never before seen footage. And yet, it was seamlessly woven in. My husband and I discussed the presence of the characters and the possibility they were other actors who looked liked the originals as we were leaving the movie. Yet, it turned out it was actually them!
The story stood on its own despite the audience knowing where it was headed. The relationships between the characters truly came to life. K-2SO, the reprogrammed imperial droid that pals around with our main gang, is by far the best comic relief from a droid ever with his charmingly honest at times, Sheldon Cooper-like responses. The relationship between Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus was one of my favorites. I loved their banter, their obviously loving back-having support. It reminded me a bit of the brotherly bond between Luke and Hans. My husband, though, wondered if perhaps they weren't gay, which has apparently been a topic discussed, at least by Comicbook.com. If they were, more props to the film for integrating diversity, but whether it was a brotherly bond or lover's bond, it was touching.
The battle sequences were epic. I nervously gnawed at my nails while not a moment was wasted of onscreen time. And the Darth Vader scenes were pretty wicked.
What I didn't like: The CGI for Grand Moff Tarkin was a bit funky looking.
It was sad. Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of hope. But it was also sad. Sniffle.
So I recently dreamt I was back in school again. But it wasn't the normal, oh my god I have to take a test dream. Or have you had the ones where you're back in school but you're a full adult and teachers are telling you that you never really passed? I'm sure some wise sage would say that one has something to do with confidence levels.
At any rate, I dreamt I was back in college as an undergraduate during my first two years when I attended Monroe Community College. I recently went back there only because the Children's Book Festival was being held there. (As a side note, I got to meet Jane Yolen and James Howe! #fanwomaning). So perhaps that's how that time in my life eased its way back into my brain. I haven't been inside that building since I was 22, afterall.
But let us delve into the symbolism of dreaming about school. According to DreamsCloud.com, there are a number of reasons I could have been dreaming about going back to school. Here are a few reasons:
"Being in school may be bringing you back to a childhood memory that needs to be addressed. The grade you are in may indicate the time of life the dream is set in or the level of maturity you are at in the dream."
"Being in College may be a reference to your college days or a relationship from that period; may represent a lesson to be learned; or it may suggest you are experimenting or trying something new, as college students often do."
I've thought about this for a bit and I've come to this conclusion. I'm a mom and I'm a freelance writer and editor, and I also write fantasy. My life for some years now has been dedicated to my son and my writing, figuring out social media for my author platform, and building our home and family. All good things. But I've felt the need for a long time to be more active in society. I work from home and, while I haven't ever lost my passion completely for issues, I've become apathetic, distracted, too busy with other things. Given the aftermath of a stressful election season and the uncertainty of the next four years, I've felt compelled to be the outspoken me once again. The me who deeply cares about issues that I stayed away from for some time now, too afraid to make a ripple. I had ideals that I wanted to make happen. And that girl became loud in those first years of college, and she's the woman in me now who believes dreams have meaning and acting in the name of human rights always and forever, is a must.
Continue to dream with me, for hope begins with dreams.
“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” ― Oscar Wilde
When I was in my first year of college I wrote about dreams for an essay. I had a very good reason why. Months before I'd had a dream that my relatively older (I was 18, him 23), snowboarder boyfriend—#firstlove—had moved to Colorado without any goodbye but a letter. I woke up from that dream, sobbing, to him calling me. Understandably, I told him of the dream, and at the time, he assured me he'd never do such a thing.
Fast forward to a month after my freshman year in college, and there came the day I couldn't get a hold of my boyfriend. No pages (this was almost 20 years ago, so pagers were the norm) were answered. No phone calls returned. A couple of days later with still no word from him I was told by his friend's mother that he'd moved to Colorado. He'd been too chicken to say goodbye. Prophetic much? Now a married woman, I've long made peace with the heartbreak of that time. But the dream still haunts me.
After the essay, my English professor recommended that I read Inner Work by Robert A. Johnson. So I bought it. I did read it, and while I don't remember much of it, I've always been impressed with the idea that dreams are messages we're trying to tell ourselves. Perhaps therein lies why my very first book holds dreams as a main element to the story. It is, after all, called Fractured Dream. And to the main character, dreams are incredibly significant.
In fact, parts of Fractured Dream were inspired by dreams. I think they're important. Just the other day, I dreamt there were bats hanging around my house. Now, according to SleepCulture.com, Bats "are very sensitive to the other members of their group and constantly communicate with them. A dream of a bat suggests issues associated with free will and freedom as well, since bats can fly!" Now I think the dream could have been spawned by my obsession with all things Halloween, but I've also been very affected by the election and political climate, so much that my husband has voiced a number of times that he'll be happy when it's over so I'll stop worrying.
I've struggled with my platform, wondering what I could offer that isn't already covered in full by authors— writing tips, editing tips, getting published tips, nothing if you're big enough and don't have to blog anymore. I think my thing is dreams. I'm going to use this blog as something of a dream diary. So tell me your dreams. I think some of the most kick-ass ideas come from the craziness of our brains in after hours. I I know I've got lots of crazy dream stories to tell.
I'm not just a reader, writer, and editor, I'm a book collector. If you're anything like me, getting someone to read a book you've suggested because you just loved, loved, loved it, fills you with a strange, zealous fervor. Because of this, I've lost a number of books through the years to friends, family, and even to one of my son's short-lived nannies, all because I am filled with a passion for sharing the words and worlds I've read so much I willingly hand out books like I'm the public library.
The one person I love sharing books with more than anyone though, is my son. One of my favorite parts of the day is bedtime and sharing my love of reading with my five-year-old. He's incredibly imaginative, and so far, he loves to read, find new books, and pick one or three out each night to read. My goal is to nurture this into a lifelong love of reading. So when I recently pulled out some of my old chapter books from when I was between the ages of six and ten years old, I contemplated seeing if he'd be interested in reading one with me.
While I don't have all my books from my WHOLE life ever, I'd say I have a lot of them. My mother and sister have even dumped some of their old books on me, even while urging me to donate mine. But no, unless they're tired text books, I've held onto them. I can't seem to let them go. My son and I have enjoyed books from my childhood--Pinkerton Behave by Steven Kellogg (my son finds this one hilarious); all the books written by Stephen Cosgrove that no one I know has ever heard of but all which have special lessons at the end and are beautifully written and illustrated; my Care Bears books; Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak; etc.
Don't get me wrong, I love discovering new ones with him as well. I get as excited as when I was a kid when Scholastic orders come home, even though new books we do not need nor have space for. But sharing the old, the ones I loved as a kid with my own child, brings a certain nostalgia with it while igniting the passion to share. Did anyone ever read the Lemonade Trick by by Scott Corbett as a kid? I remember loving it. This is the first chapter book my son allowed me to read to him, and he actually let me finish it over the course of several days. But I'm astounded he stayed attentive, because there were many mundane details at times I thought I would lose him. Despite sometimes frequent interruptions for questions, he was for the most part engaged, at times falling into appropriate fits of giggles during the funny parts, questioning me about chemistry during the science/magic parts, and there were even a couple of times I was informed that he did not like Bumps Burton (the bully) at all. Today, we made a special trip to the store because he suddenly was craving lemonade.
Next, he agreed to let me read him Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones, which is probably one of my favorites from my childhood. But a few sentences in, we both realized it was above him at this moment, so we shelved it for another time and a little growth. We broke it up with a little Pete the Cat tonight, and next we're onto my Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald. I'm certain if I can dig out my Bunnicula books by James Howe he'll fall in love.
See, the moral of my story is, being a book "collector" can pay off, and I hope it continues to far into the future.
I had this idea recently to create a YouTube show where I read and ran on my treadmill at the same time, something like, Running & Reading For Life. It was going to serve as this inspirational bit for moms who love to read and want to get more fit. I laid in bed for more than an hour much later than I should have been up, picturing how funny I would be, how novel my idea was. I imagined it being a video diary of sorts, a way to motivate myself while serving to induce hilarity in my many, many followers.
Perhaps I didn't convey the idea very well to the people I told, but their blank looks told me they would definitely not be my target audience. While we can never let others dictate what we do in life, or make us think our ideas are less than brilliant (within reason), the light of day some times tells us that some idea are best left for another day.
So yeah, onto the next idea. Or maybe I'll just go write.
So, I've been dismally bad about blogging this summer, but rest assured the time I could have spent blogging has been focused on writing my actual books, so when I come out of the fog that is trying to get Fractured Dream published again while finishing Shattered World and another secret project I'm working on, I will be a blog girl once again!
I did want to let people know that my book, Fairytale Lost, is currently free on inkitt.com along with many other books. For those who liked Fractured Dream, this is the beginning of the story. Make sure to take a look!
Facebook and other social media platforms have created amazing ways for people to interact and stay in touch, promote their businesses, and view the world from new, interesting perspectives and opinions. Most of all, it's allowed people to share their lives, support one another's endeavors, or be a shoulder when there's loss. Dogs, criminals, lost children, all have been found through social media. It's powerful. But what I've also learned from social media is that there's a lot of hate and divisiveness still in this world. More than I had realized. Because on the flip side, it's also become a place for people to denigrate each other, bully, and and wave flags for ignorance and intolerance.
After the attacks on Pulse in Orlando, Florida, it's never been more clear that hate among, not just extremist groups, but Americans, is strong. Regardless of whether the shooter, Omar Mateen, decided to shoot up the club because he hated gays or he hated Americans, make no mistake, it was a crime of hate. And I'm certain that when Eddie Justice, a club-goer who tragically lost his life during the killings, was texting his mother that Mateen was in the bathroom with them, what motivated Mateen's hatred was second to the fact that he was in there to kill as many people as possible. "I'm gonna die," Justice texted his mother. Those texts were the last conversation she had with her son. I have no words.
These are the stories that chill me, the last text messages, the phone calls people made to loved ones on 9-11, faced with so many definitions of terror. It makes it real. For a brief moment, I can imagine, what if that was me? What if that was me saying one last goodbye and thinking about my young child who is my world, left behind without a mother? What if it was me receiving such a message from my husband, my sister, a friend? How helpless a feeling, how terrifying, how horrible, how lacking in words do I feel to try and describe what these people must have felt, what their loves ones are now feeling. Sadly, it's a scenario I've imagined many times.
In times like these, of which there seem to be increasingly more, it's always healing to see the country unite. Sharing love, compassion, empathy, and grief. I feel at a loss this time around, in the wake of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. I've seen plenty of support for the gay community and a general sharing of sadness over this tragedy, but I've also seen a serious breakdown in the culture of support, a divisiveness where there is no compromise, a spewing of stances on second amendment rights, disagreements surrounding presidential responses, Muslim rights, gay rights, etc. More anger, more hate, more vitriolic discussions on who's right and who's wrong. Forty-nine people died and the country is grieving. Let's focus on that as a united people before we get back to the squabbling, don't you think?
It's my mantra: #StopTheHate
K.M. Randall writes fantasy and paranormal for both a general and young adult audience. Her debut novel, an epic fantasy called Fractured Dream, launched in June 2014, and her second book, The Reaper's Daughter, launched May 2015. Randall also published Fairytale Lost, a prequel to Fractured Dream, as an exclusive on Wattpad. She blogs about dreams, female heroines, and activism and its relevancy to the literary and fictional world. And when in the season, sometimes she just likes to talk about Halloween. She is currently hard at work on the second book in the Dreamer Saga series, Shattered World.