Friday Fast Five: Author Tube Edition

Hi everyone!

This week I’m introducing a new type of post to my blog – Friday Fast Five. The set up is pretty simple – a list of five items, people, etc. pertaining to writing and the topic mentioned in the title.

With that being said, I’d like to direct your attention to the list below.

  1. Jenna Moreci
  2. Elliot Brooks
  3. Francina Simone
  4. Hannah Lee Kidder
  5. Alexa Donne

In no particular order, you have found my top five favorite AuthorTubers, or authors with their own channels on YouTube. Each channel is chock full of writing and publishing advice, if you’re in the market for any of that, as well as some good laughs, if you need those too. I cannot recommend each highly enough.

If you have a favorite AuthorTuber, please drop a link to their channel in the comments below, if you’d like. Self promo is okay too! I’m always looking for new writing channels to watch.

Until next time,

T.J.

Advertisements

Why Harry Potter Is No Longer Relevant To Me

There was a time period during my earlier youth when I was obsessed with Harry Potter, as were a large majority of children around my age at that point. It began around seven or eight, and lasted up until about 19 or so, for me. I fancied myself an aficionado on all things Harry Potter related, and indeed I was knowledgeable about it in a certain factual sense. However, until The Cursed Child came into existence, as well as the subsequent casting of an actress of color for Hermione, I did not realize how ignorant I had been up until then. After much thought and research, I will explain why this series does not stand the test of time for me.

At the time of inception of this seven book series, matters regarding the LGBTQIA+ community had only really became mainstream in recent years. The Stonewall Inn riots had been a turning point, but there was much ground to be made still in regard to national and international media in the U.S., and worldwide respectively. The Philosopher’s Stone, after all, was published by Bloomsbury in London just a scant three months after Ellen had announced that she was indeed gay, back in 1997. Harry Potter, at its core, is a children’s series that can be enjoyed by all ages. It is, however, a product of its time. One where those who were not what mainstream media expected them to be, would more than likely flop. Ellen’s show, after all, was cancelled shortly after her admission. While that seems a world away, as well as not that long ago, times have changed much since that pivotal year.

In recent years though, J.K. Rowling has been criticized for her lack of diversity in the books, which as an adult well into their 20s, is not lost on me. However, had it been brought up years beforehand, I would not have understood the condemnations properly for what they were, because as has been pointed out, it is not simply about lack of LGBTQIA+ diversity, but of all sorts of missing representation for a series that supposedly has people in it from all over the world.

Moving back to The Cursed Child – it opened in the same month, ironically, 19 years after the first book in the original series had been released. To long time fans, given the casting news it had been a shock to the system, as we all digested the newest lore and content that had been released, albeit knowing that it had not been Rowling who singlehandedly had penned it. While the actors and others who created the play, I have no qualms with, I do however, reserve a certain frustration with the original series author, Mrs. J.K. Rowling herself.

Why, you might ask? Well, it’s plain and simple. Her excuse of the political climate as a reason she did not create a single drop of LGBTQIA+ diversity in the series might have flown back then, but in this day, it is a lack luster one, bordering on insulting. The Cursed Child, which was released in 2016, easily could have been imbued with some of our community’s flair. Was it? Of course it wasn’t, because her ally ship only goes so far as her tweets.

Talk is cheap, they say, and she has done a hefty amount of that in recent years. Back when the series concluded, collectively, the fandom was heartbroken, as it had been a part of our lives for years. That, was understandable. However, if we had known then what we do now, I wish that we had bit the bullet, and thanked her, then moved on our merry way to other books that actually represent a larger portion of her reader base, rather than continuing to harp on the point of wanting more. I owe that time period in large part to what my favorite childhood author has done thus far publicly.

Bear in mind, that I do not believe an author must include LGBTQIA+ people or people of color, various religions, etc. in any work. However, I find it disturbing that given the diversity of the world, that one could wish to sideline or exclude these narratives all together, or add them in after the fact as an aside, rather than have canon text to back the claim up. In that same vein, professing that the only characters who are queer, happen to be a Nazi, and a deeply flawed man? It’s ludicrous, as well as a dangerous message to send to future questioning children, or those who are straight and viewing queer people through media, as well as their own lens. That is a topic for another day though.

So, where does that leave me, a parent, who wishes to pass on only the best of literature to my daughter, who is learning about the world around her, including history of those who came before us? While I have two choices, I can only condone one – shedding the attachments of my earlier years, in hope that I am able to find and boost works that show people of all kinds, rather than exclude them as so many other media forms have done before.

J.K. Rowling and the series of Harry Potter is not inherently bad, and I do still find value in it. Likewise, I did indeed learn from it, both what to do and what not to. However, given the lack of diversity across the board, it is one that I no longer care to uplift.

Little Birds: A Book Review

Little Birds: A Book Review

Take flight to the peaks of your strongest emotions with this collection of short stories, aptly named Little Birds by Hannah Lee Kidder. Though only 48 pages in length, this book had me soaring to the height of joy,
as well as plummeting to the earth into the depths of despair, as I read through it in its entirety.

With that being said, I adored this book. Each story was its own little ecosystem that thrived on the word style choices of the author, who exhibited her skill with a deft hand. I found myself plunging into the carefully crafted worlds, only to be abruptly pulled into the next one as I read further. Lush vocabulary created imagery that would make any writer studying another’s work swoon. Likewise, with the descriptive prose, I felt as if I was a character in the book, rather than an outsider looking in.

Poignant and vivid in its presentation, Little Birds is one of my favorite reads of 2019. It is a stand out book that I will recommend consistently from here on out. While this collection is not at all meant to be light in terms of subject matter, it is impactful, and without a doubt worth the read.

I rate this book 5/5.

To Live In A Moment

To Live In A Moment

At some point in the future, I hope that all of my labor will bear fruits from the seeds that I have sewn. That is what all of us creative types, parents, or people striving for more desire, right? While that time is what I aspire to, even now I find relevance in the present that I am living.

The light filtering through the window, then splashing across the room that I work in, which illuminates the pages I have filled within my spirals, or the exuberant laughter of a small child often accompanied with requests for a story or a jaunt through the woods, remind me that while one day I do hope to have been published many times over, as that is my ultimate goal, I also have other objectives outside of writing. So for now, I will enjoy the mediocrity that is being unknown, for this time and my daughter’s younger years, are only here for so long.

I do not have a fancy desk, but a small functional one, where I can be found at various times throughout any given day, typing away with a fervent flame of desire that courses through me to tell the stories that are woven into the fabric of my soul. I do not have high end devices, but a laptop that has served me well in the time that I have had it. Scattered notes are written throughout multiple notebooks, and someday I may have them readily available in the way that I have witnessed professional authors do. Right now though, I am reveling in my amateur status, because one day I hope to have the privilege of thinking back on it fondly, with the knowledge that the best is yet to come.

One Day At A Time and What It Means To Me

One Day At A Time and What It Means To Me

Disclaimer: First and foremost, because there has been some confusion, I just want to set the record straight and mention that I am not Latinx. I married someone who is, and that is where my last name comes from. It does not bother me that I am confused as someone who is, except that I refuse to falsely portray the narrative of someone I am not. To me doing that is the same thing as stolen valor, which is not okay either. So with that being said, I will continue this ramble.

As a good portion of the universe knows at this point, Netflix announced on Thursday, March 13th, 2019, that it cancelled One Day At A Time. To say that I am heartbroken is probably an understatement, to be honest. This show means so much to my family of three, who have two Latinx individuals in it, excluding myself, as I am Caucasian. However, in a show that was made primarily for Latinx people, I still see myself in the character of Syd, who is the only Enby I have ever encountered in on screen media. Being able to see myself, but also the fact that others found representation for their own lives, is why I am distraught at this decision.

In a world where there seems to be so much geared toward those who are not only straight, but also cisgender persons, finding someone who is transgender on television, much less almost exactly like me, was a profound moment. Likewise, to see someone with not only the same gender as me, but the same pronouns, was life altering. I cried over it, to be honest, because I never thought I would see the day when that would happen. So much of my viewing experience has surrounded seeking myself out in people who are only similar to me in certain aspects. At least that was the case, until Syd. Now that I have experienced this, I am only more insistent that it not be the last time I, or other enbies alike, do.

Whether Lin-Manuel Miranda and every other person who has pitched in pulls off saving this beloved show or not, I will be forever grateful that it allowed me to see myself in a positive light, through the inclusion of Syd. The script could have easily been written differently, as has been done many times before. I can only hope that the networks who may be considering picking up the show understand that beyond Syd, there is so much more to love about One Day At A Time, and that it deserves to dance its way into the hearts of more people for years to come. For now though, all we can do is take life as it comes – one day at a time.

Port Lewis Witches, Volume One: A Book Review

Port Lewis Witches, Volume One: A Book Review

Magic, familiars, and love, oh my! I adore books that have a well written setting and plot that are accompanied by a fantastic love story, or two. Suffice it to say, I found all of these, and more, within Port Lewis Witches, Volume One by Brooklyn Ray. As this novel is a collection, I will be mentioning every story by itself, as well as how each ties into the narrative overall.

Reborn is the first story that kicks off the book, and it follows Thalia, the newly appointed Darbonne matriarch as she returns home to assume her position as such. In the wake of her mother’s death, she is no longer allowed to hide from her fate, or the small town she had run from three years before. While the second shortest in the whole novel, Reborn is a great way to introduce the world that is Port Lewis. Thalia and Jordan, which the narrative mainly focuses on here, outside of the aforementioned plot, are a unique couple who add life and passion to the pages.

Next up is Darkling, which follows Ryder Wolfe and his path of acceptance of himself, as well as the partner he ends up with throughout the course of this story. Full disclosure here – Ryder is my favorite character in the whole series. I adore every single one, but he is easily the one that outshines them all for me. His own narrative was placed well, and it furthered my knowledge of the magic system and world building as a whole.

After that, comes Undertow, which is Liam’s story that opens up not long after the events of Darkling conclude. While Ryder is my favorite character, this particular section was my favorite. I loved the dynamics of the characters and how the world building really shines through here. This story is Brooklyn Ray at their best.

Last, but not least, is Honey. This short story is the smallest in terms of length in the whole collection. Were it left out, the book would still endure the test of time for many, I believe, but it is an adorable addition that I thoroughly enjoyed after the heavier plots of the earlier stories. It follows Ryder and his significant other in a light-hearted romp that would touch even a ghost’s soul.

Together, each of the stories mentioned above brought their own magic and whimsy to the narrative as a whole. The imagery that the author employed allowed for a great sense of setting. The characters are in distinct contrast to each other with their own personalities, which made them feel real, rather than card board cut out people made for the purpose of being placed in the novel. The relationships in this first volume also were fantastic, and real. Life is messy, and far from perfect. This novel conveyed that well.

Overall, I loved it with every piece of me. Everyone has their own taste, but I thoroughly could not have enjoyed this more if I tried. There was all sorts of representation for LGBT+ characters, there was magic, found family, and so much more within it, that made it a delight to read.

I rate it a 5/5.

Disclaimers:

(1/2) – This book is a darker NA fantasy and does have blood play during sex, graphic explanations of sex, etc. If those things bother you, tread with caution, or avoid this novel.

(2/2) I received no incentive or payment for this review. These thoughts are wholly my own.

Wake Up, White People – The Time Has Come For Us To Step Back and Step Up

Wake Up, White People – The Time Has Come For Us To Step Back and Step Up

This article is long over due, but in the wake of multiple tragedies caused by white supremacist ideology, in my humble opinion, it is necessary. The problem, as has been stated by countless individuals across various platforms, as well as out loud, is us. Yes, us. Whether we realize it or not, at least a part of each one of us has been complicit in a form of aiding and abetting behavior that could lead to what occurred in New Zealand at one point in our lives. While this is not an easy post for me to write, as those who were impacted by the tragedy attempt to heal from the pain they are feeling, we who are not, have a job to do – take a hard look at ourselves and do better.

For background, I was raised in an environment that breeds racism like infected rabbits. It was toxic, as one could presume, and infected me in ways I wish not to repeat, because that mindset is harmful, and should be furthered no more. Still, thinking such as that has become a widespread problem throughout the world, creating spaces that have become unsafe for anyone without light skin, a cross around their neck or praises of Jesus on their lips. I, as someone who has been further educated by various people of color, wish to change this.

To be clear, I want no part of the “White Savior Narrative”. That is not my intention in writing this, nor will it never be. However, I do hope to educate fellow individuals, who seek to allow complacence to become the breeding ground upon which more sinister forces could re-populate if not addressed, to re-evaluate at the bare minimum. Silence is compliance.

Which leads me to this – white people, it’s time we hold ourselves and others accountable, if we have not been doing so thus far. Sentiments that lead to the destruction of life for those who are not like us do not begin when someone places their hands on a weapon, but far earlier. It is time we acknowledge that passivity cannot continue as that is what allows for dangerous thoughts to run rampant.

Whether we like to admit it or not, our voices have been amplified because of our skin color alone, in some cases. It is a fact that while some disagree vehemently about, as they refuse to see their privilege as it is, there are others of us who see it and hope to do better with it. We cannot do this alone though. Collectively, not only in times of sorrow, but in joy, we must all commit to constant vigilance, and refuse to allow hate to poison the water of life.

Likewise, our current political environment has given rise to some of the most virulent strands of hate in recent years. The words of politicians have been heeded or taken as permission to do harm to those who are not of the same gender, race, ethnicity, and much more. Anyone with a shred of sense will realize that this is not okay, and it needs to stop.

So, as a Caucasian person, what can you or I do? It’s simple, really. We need to stop, take a step back, and listen. Listen to whom, you might ask? To the very people that our actions have either indirectly or directly caused harm to – people of color, those of different religions other than Christianity, and so on. Their voices are the ones that should be heard now, as they are the ones who are repeatedly slighted.

For some, this task might not prove to be difficult at all. However, there are others of us who refuse to allow their voices to be unheard, even when our opinions are unnecessary. This is the path that has led to countless, senseless shootings and other acts of violence or microaggressions against those who have been previously harmed by colonialism and white supremacy for as far back as history can reach. Regardless of what has taken place in the past, this must end now.

Geoffrey Holder once said, “Education begins at home. You can’t blame the school for not putting into your child what you don’t put into him.” With that being said, that racist uncle who makes rude comments during the news? Hold him accountable. That sibling who makes jokes about people of color? Hold them accountable. The bottom line is that, if we do not address the hate we see surrounding us in our daily lives, then how can we expect it not to fester, and manifest elsewhere outside of it?

If you take offense to this post, then consider it a reprimand, as well as a call to action. I am not perfect, and have believed toxic mind sets in the past. It is only because I have met and learned from others in my life who are different from me, as well as read countless articles and posts by people who live in a skin so distinct from my own, that I became aware that I had been wrong on so many accounts. With that being said, words have power, as does knowledge, and I intend to use mine for good, rather than perpetuating hate.

For those wishing to boost the fundraiser on social media, or donate to the victims of the recent shootings in New Zealand, I will leave a link below. As needed, I will update with more if I find any other legitimate ones.

United for Christchurch Mosque Shootings via LaunchGood