Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Best Harry Potter Costumes

With the release of Harry Potter 7 coming up, whisperings of muggles dressing up have been circling about. I would like to dedicate this post to those who spend countless hours planning, sewing, enchanting, and purchasing the absolutely perfect Harry Potter costume for Halloween, book and movie release parties, and/or running up and down the street yelling out spells (don't pretend like you haven't).

The first Harry Potter book release I went to was The Order of the Phoenix. It was a night I will never forget because it honestly seemed perfect to me. I remember my brother Chris lending me some of his church clothes so I could have a tie and vest similar to a Hogwarts student. My little sister Holly and I both fought over who looked most like Hermione (Yes, its true), and the countdown at Borders was just bliss to me.


It shouldn't be surprising to you that after that event I went to every Harry Potter release party I could. For the 5th Harry Potter movie I dragged Kellen, my husband, to the midnight showing. I convinced him that we HAD to dress up, and willingly he agreed, even though he hadn't read the books. So once again I dressed up as a Hogwarts student (not very creative I know), and Kellen showed up as spider-man. Yep, a full complete spider-man costume, red boots and all. This wasn't that surprising to me, Kellen's rather unpredictable. What was surprising was that he WON the Harry Potter costume competition.

For the release of Harry Potter 7 part 1, Kellen and I once again dressed up for the festivities. I tried making a costume resembling Professor Trelawney (tried being the key word...), Kellen began arranging his costume trying to resemble a death eater, but became a golden snitch in the end (I think?). And Bekki, Kellen's sister, wowed us all with her whomping willow costume. It. Was. Awesome. She won the costume competition that time (duh!) and luckily I got a picture of it.


So when you dress up (and you better!) for the release of Harry Potter 7, I congratulate you on your creativeness and hope you have a magical evening!

PS my spell check says "Muggle" is a real word. Weird.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Wine in Old bottles

‘Most intellectual development depends upon new readings of old texts. I am all for putting new wine in old bottles, especially if the pressure of the new wine makes the bottles explode.’

(Angela Carter, “Notes from the Front Line”)

I remember when my creative writing teacher first put this idea in my head. Sorting through old fairy tales, myths, and legends, and finding a whole new take on a story, changing it up to make new, different, exiting, or current. One novel that does this PERFECTLY is Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted. If you have not read Ella Enchanted please go get it right now! (you can borrow it from me if you need to...but only if I know you. Otherwise that might just be weird.)

Ella enchanted is a story about a girl who has cursed with the gift of obedience. She lives with her two step sisters, wicked step mother, and is forced to be a maidservant for her family. Sound familiar? Yep, you got it. It's Cinderella. However, Levine adds in Ella's gift of obedience to change up the classic tale, she also creates a dynamic, layered, and extended story that keeps you hooked.

I love the idea of putting new wine in old bottles (well, as long as it applies to story writing). I've been sorting through Grimm's fairy tales myself, trying to find this same creative inspiration. To me it is pure talent to find old fairy tales, myths, or legends and make it an incredible and new story that's all your own.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Inspiring Words

I tweeted earlier about something I learned from amazing author Tracy Hickman. I went to a writing seminar where he told a heartfelt story. (I’m just paraphrasing part of his powerful speech.)

He talked about how all of the meaning for a book is found by the reader. It takes more file space for a picture on your phone than it does for a whole novel (crazy!). The reader takes what you’ve written and creates meaning. In one of Tracy Hickman’s novels he writes about a character who’s a knight. When the great battle comes at the end of the novel, evil surrounds the knight, and he faces it alone. Sadly, he ends up dying. However, his death inspires other knights who end up fighting against the evil, and honoring the brave knight who stood on his own.

Tracy Hickman went to a book signing that was like none other he’d ever been to. At this signing there soldiers there who were going to Iraq, some that would not return home. He spoke about how difficult and emotionally draining book signings are, because every fan wants to have a personal connection with you. After so many people, he begins to feel numb and falls into a bland rhythm of greeting, signing, greeting, signing.

Someone came and presented him with an extremely torn, worn, and battered book to sign. The owner was a young man in a wheelchair. He told Hickman that his book had been with him through the ocean, jumped from airplanes, and anywhere else he went. The soldier had been in Afghanistan, and was shot in the spine. After he was shot, the first thing that came to mind was the brave knight from Hickman’s story. He asked himself what that brave knight would do. The soldier ended up warning the other men with him and saved 12 lives that day.

Hickman finishes saying that all he wrote were words. But those words meant so much to that soldier, it made him a hero. We never know what affect our words will have on the world. To inspire and change lives—that should be the reason why you write.

Thank you Tracy Hickman for the amazing story.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer Tradition

I love family traditions. When I was younger my sister and I would watch fireworks on the roof, and eat brownie mix. BEST THING EVER. We don't climb on the roof anymore (and I don't think my mom ever knew!), but we still get tempted to eat raw brownies when fireworks light up in July.

My Aunt's city puts on this carnival/firework/Neil Diamond impersonator extravaganza every summer. We go every year, and somehow my husband always ends up dancing crazily next to the stage with security guards eyeing him cautiously. I used to think it was the cheesiest event (okay maybe it is), but really it's one of the funnest summer traditions we have.

So this summer when your family forces you to go to a family reunion, or go visit a majorly stupid national park, just go with the flow. You never know how long Grandma Smith will be around, or how much longer your family will visit Mount Rushmore. Be enthusiastic, laugh, be silly, I promise you'll have so much more fun and your memories will be ten times better.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What I learned from Harry Potter

1) Everybody wants to be taken away to an enchanted world.
2) You don't have to be a perfect hero without flaws in order to save the day.
3) Don't eat Jelly Beans that look Toffee-flavored.
4) It's important to understand your past, but it doesn't have to define you.
5) Doing the right thing is not always going to be easy, but it's worth it.
6) Sometimes redheads turn out to be some of the nicest people.
7) True love always always always prevails.