Dedicated to the Girls Who Used to Stand in the Back Row in Dance Class

Don’t be mad. I just googled the band, Mötley Crüe. I know its a heavy metal band formed some time in the 80s, but why were they a “motley crew?” One picture solved the mystery for me:

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Don’t be surprised, but this is where I relate Mötley Crüe to young adult fantasy books.

I’ve been doing lots of research on character introductions and came to the realization that most of my favorite books have some sort of motley crew – a group of underdogs who beat all odds and save the day.

The obvious one is Harry Potter.  Wasn’t Luna a little looney?  Neville Longbottom accident-prone? And Ginny Weasley just a little girl? But you loved the ragtag bunch.

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Percy Jackson wasn’t any better – his best friend was a satyr and his brother was a cyclops.

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Don’t even get me started on Lord of the Rings.

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How about the New Directions in Glee?  Definitely your standard geeky bunch.

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Well, my next book series starts the same way – a mismatched gaggle of kids, looking for a brave leader, getting into trouble, and of course, attending a school taught by famous ghosts.  Look for it soon, called (after)life lessons.

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I feel like real life isn’t so different.  Didn’t everyone in San Francisco cheer for the 49ers?

I take jazz classes with a talented teacher named Ann twice a week.  There are a group of us who joined about a year ago.  We started in the back of the class, our own version of a motley crew, tripping through combinations and embarrassing ourselves.  Through dedication and hard work, we improved.  Most recently, the teacher suggested we stand in the front of the room.  I felt like my own personal underdog, able to keep up with her challenging routines and perform next to beautiful dancers without missing a beat.   [Perhaps I’ll attache a video soon!]

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The Ultimate Superpower

As a fantasy fiction author and reader, I am constantly thinking about superpowers.
Speed. Strength. Invisibility. Magic. Charm….
All terrific abilities to have and useful when defeating the big bad enemy, but none of these traits are the supreme reason for the hero’s success. The way I see it, the ultimate superpower is optimism.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world,” said the King of the Dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield, who recognized hobbits were the true heroes, doing good for the sake of doing good, without further goals or desires.
While I agree it is their selflessness that should be revered, I also think it is their optimism. There is something to be said about persevering with a positive outlook as you helplessly stare your enemy in the eye.
It’s the same “Can-Do-It” attitude the unsung hero, Neville Longbottom, portrays when he grabs the sword of Gryffindor and takes down the Dark Lord’s snake.
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Although applied to fight a different type of enemy, I watched the power of optimism in action last night. I attended a jazz class taught by a fabulous women named Ann, who’s mother had just passed away. To add insult to injury as if to mock her and say ‘try being happy now,’ it was also the teacher’s birthday.
Ann, with the help of her friends in the class who dressed in animal print to show their support, was an optimistic superhero and beat down the enemy. The class became a joyful tribute to her mother, and we danced our hearts out with glee.
I was truly touched with her parting words for the night. “Create your own happiness, and keep dancing.”  — Ann Barrett

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