I Love A Mystery–First Post on Hieu’s Website

Plot Holes

This post is linked to my first post on Hieu Tran’s Website. It involves plot holes and solving the Great Mysteries of Hieu’s Past.

Click on the following link, or copy and paste it into your browser. www.comingtoamericaajourneyhome.com

As always, please “Like” my Facebook page and subscribe to this blog. Please do the same for Hieu when you visit his site.

Thank you for reading!

See ya!

Reedsy

What is the Theme of Your Story? A Guide for Authors

If you click on the words above^, they will take you to an article and quiz on “Theme.” Since Hieu’s memoir has multiple themes, sharing this post is quite appropriate. Plus, I hired the editor for my Old Testament Romance through Reedsy, ( reedsy.com)  so if you need professional editing, check it out.

The Secrets

This contains spoilers, so please watch the film before reading this if you don’t want to know what happens.

I am working on an Old Testament romance. In researching this story, I am hoping to watch some Jewish movies to learn more about the Jewish culture. The Secrets is a movie I hoped would help me. It is entirely in Hebrew with English subtitles.

Although I watched the entire movie, I am disappointed in this film for several reasons.

1. It never tells how the woman killed the man.

2. It portrays the Jewish religion as a cold and uncaring society run by harsh, unmerciful men.  When the murderess approaches the rabbi to ask him to help her seek God’s forgiveness, we see him hollering at her and driving her away. Later, when the girls try to help this woman, they are threatened with expulsion.

What we don’t see, but find out later in the movie, is that the woman is not truly sorry for sinning against God, even though at the beginning she says she is. Some people may argue that what she did wasn’t sinful. If a person does something and believes it is sinful, then it is sinful because the person is deliberately going against what s/he believes God does not want. The woman thought what she did was sinful because she talks about it and says she cannot regret it. Also, earlier in the movie, the woman states that the very same things were sinful.

In our society, we may have difficulty understanding that the girls face expulsion, not for trying to help the woman, but for doing what the Jewish religion specifically states (in the movie) to be a man’s job. “Well, that’s not right,” our society might say. That is truly not ours to judge unless we are Jewish.

3.  The girl who “snitches” on the other girls, is actually in the right, not for snitching, but for telling the girls that their ceremony is blasphemy and for trying to stop the ceremony. This girl is portrayed as a cruel, tattling hypocrite who does not care for the woman or for the girls. She actually cares a lot and wants to prevent all of them from sinning against God. And, she is right, a person cannot be forgiven if s/he isn’t sorry for what s/he did.

On a separate note, I do admire the courage of the main characters. They risked expulsion to give the woman some measure of peace before she died. I feel the lady in charge of the girls’ school would have been more lenient toward the girls, and even approved of the girls’ actions, if the rabbi had not become so angry and threatened to shut down the school.

For updates on my progress on the OldTestament romance, please “Like” my Facebook page and/or subscribe to my website.

I welcome any positive or negative feedback on the above review as long as it is stated in a respectful way, so let me know what you think.

Thank you for reading, and See Ya!

Project Memoir: Interviews

Hieu and Me Working on the Memoir Over Coffee

Hieu and I get together regularly to do interviews for his memoir. This generally includes me turning on a digital recorder to record his answers to my prepared questions.

Hieu has also given me a list of people to interview. I also include them.

So far, I have interviewed his former teacher, Mike. (I am only using first names unless the person is a public figure.)

One of the first teachers to have Hieu in class when Hieu started school after being adopted.

One of his best friends, David.

David and Hieu became friends when Hieu first started school, and they are still friends today.

And another former teacher/guidance counselor, Mayor Brenda Stadholt.

Mayor Brenda Stadsholt was Hieu’s guidance counselor and teacher.

Some people remember a lot about Hieu, some don’t remember as much. Sometimes one sentence, one memory, opens doors to topics which HIeu and I have not considered.

When I interview these people, I set the recorder on the table, turn it on, and say, “Tell me about Hieu.” Inevitably, all of the people touch on the themes of Hieu’s book, which, according to them, he lives out in his everyday life. They talk about these themes without me mentioning them, which tells me Hieu is the genuine article.

After the interview, I transcribe the person’s dialogue into my computer. Later, I will weave them into Hieu’s memoir: a story everyone will benefit from reading.

Please “Like” my Facebook page and/or subscribe to this blog to receive notification of future blog posts about Hieu’s memoir and other upcoming books I have in the works.

Thank you for reading, and See Ya!

Daeney

I have a “talking” cat. Her official name is Daneryus Stormborn Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains. We just call her Daeney. Whenever we turn on the water, she comes running over, “talking,” telling us she wants a drink. She also “talks” when she is hungry, wants out of a room, or greets us when we arrive at home. Let me know if you have a “talking” cat, and what your cat says.

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Three Shades of Midnight by Hargrove Perth

Three Shades of Midnight by Hargrove Perth

My author/friend Hargrove Perth has a new book out called “Three Shades of Midnight.” If you have some time, please go to the following link to vote for her book to be chosen by kindlescout.

Link:   https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/W1K7YRV5ON6X

 

 

Sand Storm (Sufat Chol-Original Title)

 

As part of my research for the Old Testament romance I am writing, I am watching foreign films located in places similar to the Sinai Desert. These films reflect the lives of women in a patriarchal society where females have little or no perceivable power. Living this way is especially painful for the women who have been exposed to a society where women have opportunities to decide the directions of their lives for themselves.

Sand Storm is about a young woman, Layla, caught in the tangle of choices this knowledge affords. Throughout the film, she struggles with the choice of whether to leave her family-forever-, and their ages old traditions and laws, to strike out in a new direction or to stay with her family whom she loves and abide by the rules and restrictions of their society.

Layla’s mother, Jalila, has struggles of her own. Her husband has just taken a second, younger and more beautiful wife, and her oldest daughter, Layla, appears to be striking out in a direction which both fascinates and terrifies Jalila. Jalila’s smoldering anger at her husband’s indifference and neglect make the movie difficult to watch.

One overriding theme of this movie is the potential women have if they join together and the pain caused by women’s failure to do so. So many times, women are overcome by jealousy and bitterness toward other women that has nothing to do with those women. For example: a woman may be jealous because another woman has a loving relationship with her husband while the first woman’s marriage lacks the intimacy she craves. Another example: a woman may be jealous because she perceives another woman to be more beautiful than she is. Like women everywhere, if the women in this movie: Layla, Jalila, and the second wife, would band together, they could make positive changes that would benefit all of them. If the women in this movie choose to project their insecurities and unhappiness on each other, they will remain mired in the muck that is their lives. You will have to watch the movie to see which these three women choose.

I really liked this movie, and I plan to watch it again. It is a Netflix original and won awards from the Sundance Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Israeli Film Academy among many others.

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Research

I spent about an hour and a half yesterday reading two books:  This Must Be My Brother  by Leann Thieman and Carol Dey  and The Vietnamese Boat People, 1954 and 1975–1992
by Nghia M. Vo .  I vaguely remember the first story, so I either read the book when I was younger or watched a show on television about it. The story takes place over the course of two days and is a fast, easy read. The second book is more in-depth. I am probably going to have to read it two or three times to really understand what it is saying.

Writing a book takes a lot more than just sitting down and putting words on paper. Any book, even a fiction book, takes time, research, planning, and time. If you are writing a book, give yourself time to make it the best it possibly can be before publishing it. Taking the time and necessary steps will be worth it, to you, and to your readers.

We Were Soldiers

As part of writing Hieu’s memoir, I have been researching Vietnam’s history, especially the Vietnam war because those events shaped Hieu’s life directly until he was twelve and indirectly after that.

Yesterday, a friend and I watched “We Were Soldiers.” My friend commented that the hardest part of watching it was knowing that the men were giving their lives for such a senseless war. She admired the soldiers for fighting; she said that their sacrifice means something important. My friend didn’t say exactly what she thinks it means. I think it means that we are a brave, courageous people. I admire every person who is or who has ever been an American soldier. They are undertaking one of the bravest, most selfless jobs a person can do.

One of the people this movie portrays is journalist Joseph L. Galloway, who was present at la Drang Valley, the first major American-Viet Cong battle of Vietnam.  Even though he was not a soldier, he earned a Bronze Star for Valor for rescuing a wounded soldier during the battle. ( Editor, From the front lines of Ia Drang Valley: ‘Killing, dying and suffering indelibly marked us all’, Stripes.comNovember 10, 2015.)

Galloway and Lt Col Hal G. Moore went on to write the book “We Were Soldiers Once and Young.”

(My computer won’t let me continue the above paragraph, so I am starting a new one.) I fully intend to purchase and read his book. I also hope to find his collected Vietnam journalist’s works.

Until I started researching, I had always thought of the Viet Cong as heartless, cruel animals without human feelings. The more I study the war, the more I am realizing that they were real people with real feelings. They loved their families and cared about their children and wanted basically the same things most people want. The movie shows this in one poignant scene.

I highly recommend watching this movie.

Meeting Cassondra Coulter

Last night I traveled to the Carlin-Ingersoll Public Library, Canton, IL, to hear breakout novelist Cassondra Coulter talk about her experiences publishing her first book: Broken Silence: Book I.

In spite of the fact that I am not into witchcraft, her reading of the first page drew me in and left me wanting to explore all that this book has to offer.

Main character Anna Shaw”s first words to us are not about witchcraft, not about personal tragedy, not about love lost. Her first words are about something almost every woman wants from the moment of birth: a mother’s love. She speaks of a deep desire for her mother’s love and to be a source of pride to her mother. Anna shares her secret fear, one that resonates with many women: that she has not become the daughter her mother had hoped to have.

Author Cassondra Coulter’s settings are so accurately portrayed, that one reader actually recognized one of the places in the book as a local point of interest. That is one of the greatest compliments an author can receive.

A huge bonus to this talk is that Cassondra has the speech and mannerisms of Jennifer Lawrence. Her voice is musically warm, and her delivery added humor and spice.

I plan to reserve an afternoon to savor this, the first in a series of books, by Cassondra Coulter.

Her book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. Also, request it at your local library.

In case you are interested, here is the link:  https://www.amazon.com/Broken-Silence-Cassondra-Coulter/dp/1543420176/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497992513&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=broken+silence+cassandra+coulter