Tuesday, November 3, 2020

I AM - A 2020 Meditation

Hello, folks. In America, it's a pretty bleak election day (bleak for those of us who want neither candidate running the country, anyway) and a lot of people have been in a state of constant anxiety and unrest. Last night, I took a walk and looked to the stars, moon, Mars & Venus above for comfort and inspiration--as I often do--and these words came to me. I recorded them on my phone then re-recorded on a better device afterward. They are coming from a Christian faith perspective, but whether or not you share my faith, you may find it soothing anyway. I just felt like I should make a video and share it to help spread some sense of peace and calm today. Much love to you all. ♥  

Music in this Video:
"Contact" by The Tower of Light
YouTube Audio Library

I did not create them, nor do I own them. I am using them for artistic purposes only.

Monday, November 2, 2020

My Journey in Korean Drama: Part Six (FLOWER OF EVIL)

I’m back with my latest K-Drama edition. I am joined by a special guest, Jennifer Downer, who introduced me to K-Drama in the first place. Today we are talking about the amazing series FLOWER OF EVIL, which was released this year. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Help Me, Help Lebanon

My historical fiction novel– featuring the merging of Irish & Lebanese culture–is out now and part of an important fundraiser! Through October 31, 2020 - all my royalties from purchases will be given to private charity to aid in the recovery and restoration of Beirut from the massive explosion on August 4, 2020. ❤️📚📖


#Beirut #BeirutExplosion #Lebanon #Lebanese #RebuildBeirut #Ireland #Irish #Celtic #dancing #culture #indiepublish #indieauthor #indieauthorsofinstagram #historicalfiction #romance #amreading #readersofinstagram #read #multicultural #bookstagram #books #booklover #womenwhowrite

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Adoration - The Short Film

 After over a year of waiting, and intense edits, ADORATION is finally here! This short film was written and produced by myself in collaboration with a talented cast and crew here in my home state of Arizona. I hope one day to make it into a full-length feature! So please support indie film by giving this a thumbs up and sharing. Thank you for watching!  

"After being wounded by hunters, a vampire takes shelter in a secluded desert mission where he and a newly veiled nun find themselves stuck together for the night and share an enlightening conversation."


Thursday, July 23, 2020

My Journey in Korean Drama: Part Five (MISAENG: INCOMPLETE LIFE and KING: ETERNAL MONARCH)

Hi all! I’m back with my latest K-Drama edition all about Misaeng: Incomplete Life and King: Eternal Monarch. What did you think of these series? Let me know below!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Our Coming Renaissance (or Why 2020 Doesn't Suck)

Pain, death, glory, rebirth. It's all coming, creatives. I believe the trials of recent months mean so much more than we know. (Sorry for the exhausted vocal fry haha).

Friday, May 15, 2020

My Journey in Korean (Asian) Drama: Part Four - KINGDOM & THE GHOST BRIDE

My fourth edition in my series of Asian (mostly Korean) drama reviews!

This time it is Korea’s Kingdom and Malaysia/China’s The Ghost Bride. I review the book too.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Kahlil Gibran and the most beautiful Good Friday words ever written...

Some of you may or may not know this, but I am a great lover of Kahlil Gibran. Perhaps it's the fellow Lebanese heart, but his impeccable wording and way of looking at the world make me feel understood. I am a fan of Middle Eastern poetry in general, from Rumi, to King David and his son Solomon too.

For some reason, in my many years of reading over Gibran's works, I never put together that he was also a visual artist! Sadly, many people don't talk about his artwork, and while it may not be as lastingly memorable as someone like Michelangelo or DaVinci, it's still worth studying and understanding. To me, his work is like a combination of two other artists I love--William Blake and Vincent Van Gogh.

I wanted to create a space here on my blog, in honor of Good Friday, to share one of his most exquisitely written pieces, The Crucified. All the artwork shown here is his as well. Gibran wrote on faith as well as just observations on life in general. Though The Prophet is his most widely known and beloved work, I submit that if you have no ready anything else of his, you do. His romantic verses are unmatched and his innate wisdom of the layers in our every day world will make you stop everything you're doing and really think. In a time when we are all put on a halt anyway, what have you got to lose?

I also recommend checking out the 2014 animated film The Prophet, based on his book and currently available to stream on Netflix. Unfortunately, the in-between-sequences-parts are kind of meh, but I still highly recommend you watch just for the stunning animated sequences of Kahlil Gibran's words. It's like a mini Lebanese Fantasia!

Anyway, without further ado...

The Crucified (written on Good Friday)

By, Kahlil Gibran

Today, and on this same day of each year, man is startled from his deep slumber and stands before the phantoms of the Ages, looking with tearful eyes toward Mount Calvary to witness Jesus the Nazarene nailed on the Cross.... But when the day is over and eventide comes, human kinds return and kneel praying before the idols, erected upon every hilltop, every prairie, and every barter of wheat.

Today, the Christian souls ride on the wing of memories and fly to Jerusalem. There they will stand in throngs, beating upon their bosoms, and staring at Him, crowned with a wreath of thorns, stretching His arms before heaven, and looking from behind the veil of Death into the depths of Life....

But when the curtain of night drops over the stage of the day and the brief drama is concluded, the Christians will go back in groups and lie down in the shadow of oblivion between the quilts of ignorance and slothfulness.

On this one day of each year, the philosophers leave their dark caves, and the thinkers their cold cells, and the poets their imaginary arbors, and all stand reverently upon that silent mountain, listening to the voice of a young man saying of His killers, "Oh Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."

But as dark silence chokes the voices of the light, the philosophers and the thinkers and the poets return to their narrow crevices and shroud their souls with meaningless pages of parchment.

The women who busy themselves in the splendour of Life will bestir themselves today from their cushions to see the sorrowful woman standing before the Cross like a tender sapling before the raging tempest; and when they approach near to her, they will hear a deep moaning and a painful grief.

The young men and women who are racing with the torrent of modern civilization will halt today for a moment, and look backward to see the young Magdalen washing with her tears the blood stains from the feet of a Holy Man suspended between Heaven and Earth; and when their shallow eyes weary of the scene they will depart and soon laugh.

On this day of each year, Humanity wakes with the awakening of Spring, and stands crying below the suffering Nazarene; then she closes her eyes and surrenders herself to a deep slumber. But Spring will remain awake, smiling and progressing until merged into Summer, dressed in scented golden raiment. Humanity is a mourner who enjoys lamenting the memories and heroes of the Ages.... If Humanity were possessed of understanding, there would be rejoicing over their glory. Humanity is like a child standing in glee by a wounded beast. Humanity laughs before the strengthening torrent which carries into oblivion the dry branches of the trees, and sweeps away with determination all things not fastened by strength.

Humanity looks upon Jesus the Nazarene as a poor-born Who suffered misery and humiliation with all of the weak. And He is pitied, for Humanity believes He was crucified painfully.... And all that Humanity offers to Him is crying and wailing and lamentation. For centuries Humanity has been worshiping weakness in the person of the Saviour.

The Nazarene was not weak! He was strong and is strong! But the people refuse to heed the true meaning of strength.  Jesus never lived a life of fear, nor did He die suffering or complaining.... He lived as a leader; He was crucified as a crusader; He died with a heroism that frightened His killers and tormentors.

Jesus was not a bird with broken wings; He was a raging tempest who broke all crooked wings. He feared not His persecutors nor His enemies. He suffered not before His killers. Free and brave and daring He was. He defied all despots and oppressors. He saw the contagious pustules and amputated them.... He muted Evil and He crushed Falsehood and He choked Treachery.

Jesus came not from the heart of the circle of Light to destroy the homes and build upon their ruins the convents and monasteries. He did not persuade the strong man to become a monk or a priest, but He came to send forth upon this earth a new spirit, with power to crumble the foundation of any monarchy built upon human bones and skulls.... He came to demolish the majestic palaces, constructed upon the graves of the weak, and crush the idols, erected upon the bodies of the poor. Jesus was not sent here to teach the people to build magnificent churches and temples amidst the cold wretched huts and dismal hovels.... He came to make the human heart a temple, and the soul and altar, and the mind a priest.

These were the missions of Jesus the Nazarene, and these are the teachings for which He was crucified. And if Humanity were wise, she would stand today and sing in strength the song of conquest and the hymn of triumph.

Oh, Crucified Jesus, Who are looking sorrowfully from Mount Calvary at the sad procession of the Ages, and hearing the clamour of the dark nations, and understanding the dreams of Eternity... Thou art, on the Cross, more glorious and dignified than one thousand kings upon one thousand thrones in one thousand empires....

Thou art, in the agony of death, more powerful than one thousand generals in one thousand wars....

With Thy sorrows, Thou art more joyous than Spring with its flowers....

With Thy suffering, Thou art more bravely silent than the crying angels of heaven....

Before Thy lashers, Thou art more resolute than the mountain of rock....

Thy wreath of thorns is more brilliant and sublime than the crow of Bahram.... The nails piercing Thy hands are more beautiful than the sceptre of Jupiter....

The spatters of blood upon Thy feet are more resplendent than the necklace of Ishtar.

Forgive the weak who lament Thee today, for they do not know how to lament themselves....

Forgive them, for they do not know that Thou has conquered death with death, and bestowed life upon the dead....

Forgive them, for they do not know that Thy strength still awaits them....

Forgive them, for they do not know that every day is Thy day.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

My Journey in Korean Drama: Part Three (Crash Landing on You, Oh My Ghostess, Memories of the Alhambra)

Free from *major* spoilers, here is round 3 of my K-drama experience! I talk about Crash Landing on You mainly, with a little bit of Oh My Ghostess and Memories of the Alhambra as well.

La Beauté - A Raindance Film Festival #SixtySexySeconds contest entry!

Half the world away, I collaborated with some wonderful creative connections in Seoul, South Korea to make this rather French styled short film for the @raindancefilmfestival #sixtysexyseconds competition! I wrote the concept and the team in Seoul executed it. The wonder of technology and good WIFI! As they mention on the Raindance site: "“Sexy” doesn’t always revolve around sex. “Sexy” can be independence, confidence, humour and passions." To learn more about the contest, click here: https://www.raindance.org/sixtysexyse...
Special thanks to: @indigo_f87 @iamnotmoody88 @n8ksimpson @senghore @kathycampo1 @dospuno @solvaldovinos @leezhak_ @jujomiie

Monday, December 23, 2019

#CreatorSnapshots - Scott P. "Doc" Vaughn, Artist & Writer

A sort-of -Christmas-Special is now up on my channel. A new #CreatorSnapshots with my artist friend, Scott P. Vaughn aka: "Doc." 

He's a cool cat, that has a cool cat, and a super swanky house and wardrobe. 😎 Get to know him here 👇

Friday, December 20, 2019

In Defense of Friedrich Bhaer and the Cultural Stigma Against the "Older Man"

I am finally cranking this out as this subject has been bothering me something fierce this year. With Greta Gerwig's interpretation of the story just around the corner (a version I am leery of, to say the least) I figured this would be the perfect time to share my thoughts on this matter. This comes from me not only as a life-long fan of Little Women and a real-life Jo March myself, but also as a real-life Jo March that did indeed marry a real-life Friedrich Bhaer...or at least a guy very similar.

Disclaimer: I am only addressing the story of Little Women, not any of the subsequent books.  Little Women at its core is a standalone story and it never warranted a sequel. So if you plan on firing back at me with stuff that happens in the other books, don't bother. This is about Little Women as a one and done story, which I believe it it is and should remain so. (Kind of like The Matrix or Pirates of the Caribbean should have. *facepalm*)

This post spawned from being bombarded this year on social media by an alarming amount of Friedrich Bhaer hate. I was, honestly, quite surprised by this as I have always loved their relationship and Alcott's story choice feels natural to me. Whether it was people believing Jo should have ended up with Laurie, or people who wanted her to fly solo, or people who labeled her relationship with Bhaer as "patriarchal" or "creepy" due to his age difference and personality, there was plenty of spew to go around.

To me, Jo and Laurie are like dynamite, and not in a good way. It made sense to be that she refused him martially. He is better off with Amy, a partner he also has good chemistry with and who actually wants the lifestyle he leads.

Who doesn't love a proposal in the rain??
As for Jo flying solo, that would have been alright. However, we need to get over this concept as a modern society that having a romance or a marriage weakens a woman. Or that a single woman is more empowered than one in a committed romantic relationship. We're about to see this come to pass in the latest Star Wars film (I've already called it), but so many stories of late intentionally favor the solo woman. This can be a good thing, not everything has to be a romance and some people are better off single, but the heart behind this growing trend is what I take issue with. Our collective disdain for the traditional romance has spread like a disease and we aren't even thinking critically about it. But I digress...

Even more baffling to me is this issue people have with age differences. In our supposedly progressive society we can accept/encourage all kinds of coupling, but if two consenting adults have an age difference--especially if the man is the elder--we act appalled. Where did this stigma come from? Men dating women much younger than them are labeled creepers and perverts. Do we really not consider than a woman might, I don't know, actually like them and want to date them? Likewise, there's a double standard too. An older woman may get called a "Cougar" for dating younger, but she's typically seen as empowered and going after what she wants, while men her age dating younger are just seen as old perverts. It makes no sense and it is very damaging to society. As long as everyone involved is a consenting adult and wants to be together, what's the fuss?

On this I can speak from personal experience. Not only are some of my favorite fictional couples and crushes older men with younger women, but I married that way myself. Friedrich Bhaer was about 15 years older than Jo March, Mr. Knightley was 16 years older than Emma, Mr. Rochester 20 years older than Jane Eyre, and my own Mr. Johnson is 18 years older than me. Marrying older definitely comes with a few challenges or things to consider, but if your souls are made of the same stuff, all the rest can be dealt with from a place of strength. My marriage definitely has its share of challenges, but the age difference in and of itself is not one of them.

I have always been attracted to older men. My first crush wasn't the dopey kid sitting next to me picking his nose in school, it was Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Madmartagan, and all the period piece drama heroes. I don't think I'm weird or have a fetish simply for being attracted to older men, and I find most celebrities look sexier a little more seasoned than they do in their youth. Robert Downey Jr. is a great example of this. If you ask me, his face got more handsome with a little scruff a few fine lines haha. All this being said, I would encourage women to not write off potential suitors simply because of an age difference. If you find them interesting or attractive, give them a chance and see where it goes. I say with confidence that you will likely be surprised.

And just FYI, older men know things, ladies... I'll leave it at that haha.

Rounding back to Jo and Fritz (as he's also referred to). Some other arguments against him are that he is too patriarchal and critical of her. Again, I am only going to reference Little Women, but I think a lot of the criticisms he gave her were warranted, and he did not offer them unsolicited. She gave him her work to read and asked his opinion. He was even hesitant to give it at first, though he had passionate feelings about it.  As most of you know, I am a writer as well, and my own Professor Bhaer has read and critiqued my work. He is very honest if he thinks something doesn't work or could be better. I'm still my own person and I don't always make the changes he suggests, but I'd rather he give me the truth than sugarcoat it just to make me feel better. Offering constructive criticisms, even harsh ones, shows an interest in you as a creator and a desire to see your work be the best it can be. I believe the same for Jo and Bhaer.

Jo also saw beautiful qualities in Fritz's character even before they ever started speaking. I had the same experience with my own husband too...

Professor Bhaer was there while he arranged his books. I took a good look at him. A regular German rather stout, with brown hair tumbled all over his head, bushy beard, droll nose, the kindest eyes I ever saw and a splendid big voice that does one´s ears good, after our sharp or slipshod American gabble. His clothes were rusty, his hands were large and he hadn´t a handsome feature in his face, except his beautiful teeth, yet I liked him, for he had fine head, his linen was spandy nice, and he looked like a gentleman. (Jo's entry chapter 33)

Why everybody liked him was what puzzled Jo, at first. He was neither rich nor great, young nor handsome, in no respect what is called fascinating, imposing, or brilliant, and yet he was as attractive as a genial fire, and people seemed to gather about him as naturally as about a warm hearth. He was poor, yet always appeared to be giving something away; a stranger, yet everyone was his friend; no longer young, but as happy-hearted as a boy; plain and peculiar, yet his face looked beautiful to many, and his oddities were freely forgiven for his sake. Jo often watched him, trying to discover the charm, and at last decided that it was benevolence which worked the miracle.
- quotes from Little Women 1868  

In my two favorite screen versions (1949 and 1994), Jo sees his tenderness right away when he plays with the children of the building owner where she and Friedrich rent their rooms. The very same children Jo will be taking care of as a day job while she pursues her writing. Right off the bat, she is witness to a sweetness and humility that not a lot of men dared to show back then. Additionally, it was to financially support his orphaned nephews that he even left his homeland of Germany in the first place.

I particularly love Gabriel Byrne's performance. I think he really showed all the angles of Bhaer's character. This includes that tenderness in moments where he brings Jo a tea tray and a kiss on the cheek, or in his subtly smoldering sensuality as he translates the romantic play they're watching and they kiss on the balcony of the theater stage. Yet, even in the books, he saw Jo right where she was, exactly as she was. Even if he didn't love her murderous vampire stories, he still loved her writing and saw her abundant potential--potential even she herself wasn't certain of at the time.  Love doesn't mean you like the same things all the time or don't ever have critiques toward the other person. Love is being honest in all things and seeing the whole truth of a person. This is something I admittedly have learned the hard way in my own love story. "We are all hopelessly flawed."

I will end with one final idea on why Jo and Fritz are an ideal pair...they complement each other. Jo is outward, impulsive, and even brash at times. She loves everything and wants to soak in the world. This is one of the many things about her I can completely empathize with. In Laurie, she found a friend whom she could commiserate with about droll life and wanting more, but that's about as far as it realistically would go. As I said earlier, they are like dynamite. They share passion, but little patience and forbearance in their relationship. Chemistry is good, but it must be chemistry that yields a viable result. Amy can handle Laurie in ways Jo never could. Bhaer can handle Jo in ways Laurie never could. Bhaer is patient, quiet, feeling, tender, and passionate in a behind-the-scenes way. His inward steadiness and her outward explosive nature are great at bringing a balance in each other.

The scene that best reveals this to me is in the 1949 version when Jo and Fritz return from the opera. She's like a wild balloon, he's like a tether, and they are perfect together...

Anyway, thanks for indulging me in this. I just wanted to weigh in on this anti-Bhaer/anti-older men/anti-romance conversation that has been happening in the backdrop of our social media and especially in arts & entertainment. I will probably add more things about this subject in the future, since it is of great importance to me on many levels. For now, I will leave you with this image of a man gazing at a woman in admiration of who she is and all she has. Ultimately, mutual admiration and adoration are what bring two people together and they are timeless as well as ageless. 

"Your heart understood mine.."

Monday, November 25, 2019

2019: The final tally and where do I go from here?

While  a lot of my life has been falling apart in glorious proportions, one area that has improved is in the presentation of my craft. 

Since 2017, I have put out a novel and completed 3 feature screenplays (and a short). This year I spent a lot of time submitting 2 of the feature scripts to film festival competitions and agonizing over the outcomes. 

This is the first year I have done this. In the past, I have submitted TV pilots to WB and Amazon competitions, but that's about it. Considering this is my first real dive in, I did pretty well! My stuff definitely does better internationally than it does here in the US, but that doesn't surprise me at at all. Here is the final count for each of my stories as far as how they did in festivals... 

My beautiful award from SIFF! ♥
The Guide:
1 Finalist
1 Semi-Finalist
1 Official Selection
1 Top 100
2 Rejections

1 Finalist (1st Place Winner)
1 Official Selection
5 Rejections 

So now that I know there IS something positive to be said for my writing and storytelling, where do I go? How do I get these scripts into the right hands to be made into films? 

No, seriously, if you know please tell me! Due to the cutthroat culture of Hollywood and the drama between the WGA and talent agencies, it's damn near impossible to get an agent. I've thought about getting a manager, but I know even less about how that works. 

These stories are waiting to be splashed across the silver screen, but I feel so lost in the process. In our social media world, it's hard to even get people you already know to listen or view your work, so how do we creatives move forward in our career paths? The way is more muddled than ever.