"Welcome to Japan, folks. The local time is . . . tomorrow."
- from 30 Minutes Over Tokyo, The Simpsons, Season 10

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Well, a Lot Has Happened

Well, a lot has happened since I last posted anything, so I'll try to be brief, but still cover a lot of ground.

1. Well, I'm no longer in Japan. I had already been planning on taking a one-week vacation in October to go to my friend's wedding, but when I got a phone call that my grandmother passed away, I went home a week earlier. And I've been here ever since for various reasons.

2. With my grandmother's passing I finally acquired a dining room table set. This is a pretty big deal for me since I've never had one of my own. At the last apartment my husband and I had during college, our dining room was more of place to keep all our bookshelves.

3. My friend's wedding was interesting. It was sad because I wasn't able to go to it with my husband, since he is still in Japan, but my friend was happy that I could make it.

4. With staying here for two months and counting, I finally decided I really needed to get a job. I've had a couple interviews and am waiting to hear back. But I've definitely been enjoying my time not needing to work.

5. Part of why I wasn't really motivated to get a job was that November was National Novel Writing Month. This was my third year participating, and my second year not getting to the 50,000 word mark. But I don't care. I absolutely love the book I started in November, and am anxious to finish it in December.

6. In addition, my husband is coming back around December 20th. So we're both pretty excited to be together again. Though it won't be for long since he'll need to go back to Japan in early January. But he'll be coming back again sometime in March.

7. Lastly, my husband challenged me to have a book ready to submit by the end of the year. Of course logic says I should go back to Kitsu's book and wade through the massive amounts of rewrites I have for that, but my heart is telling me to work on the new story I started in November.

8. The new story is called Wolf Eyes. It's a teen werewolf romance about a girl named Nisus Asano and the boy she likes. I'll try to post more info about this story later.

9. I'm also trying to get my husband and I ready to go to grad school, starting August 2009.

All things considered, I should be staying pretty busy for the holidays.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Writer's Block, Part 2

This is cross-posted from the Den of Shadows message board.

As to writer's block in general, I tend to get stuck for a couple reasons.

1. I took the easy way out while writing something. Meaning rather than writing what would be better for the characters and plot, I wrote what was easier or what came to me first without giving it some extra thought. Then I usually can't figure out where to go from there, so I "delete" (meaning I just copy it into a new document) what I wrote (sometimes it'll be a paragraph and sometimes it'll be an entire chapter) and start over. I get stuck this way the most during the actual writing process.

2. This is also during the writing process, where I can look at my outline and know what I need to write, I just have no idea how to go about doing it. (This is probably my problem with my new chapter 1.) This block is the hardest to fix since it pretty much forces me to become a better writer than I am now, or I have to rework my plot to make a different scene fit.

3. I have no idea where the story is going or needs to go. This can happen during either the outlining stage or while I'm writing, since I tend to write a lot of things that weren't included in my outline (especially in the middle of the book). To get past this, I usually need to do a lot of brainstorming either by writing down all the ideas I can think of myself, or by talking to my husband.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sentence Sunday

This is mostly cross-posted from Fangs, Fur, & Fey.

This week's Sentence Sunday was to pick a paragraph that reflects your feelings for a setting you loved.

This is from a non-fiction piece titled "Things I do not Think About", but I want to incorporate many of the sensory details from this piece into my YA WIP, No Leaf Clover.

The second thing I do not think about as I bow is the rectangular room that we are in. I do not think about the smell of sweat and sweating bodies that is soaked into the walls and floor, or that the smell no longer bothers me. Except on test days, like today. This room has been crammed with people for four hours, with large men and other martial artists pushing our bodies past our limit, sweating profusely, and adding to the ambient smell of sweat in the room. I do not think about the first time I entered the tae kwon do building, that the more stairs I climbed, the stronger the stench of sweat became, until I entered the room at the top where the stench was so unbearable I thought I’d never be able to return.

I like this because this includes my very first impression of tae kwon do, and I really thought I wouldn't be able to go back. But I went back, and the more I did, the less the smell bothered me. Anyway, I really like this because tae kwon do had such a huge impact on my life when I was in high school. And even though I'm not in tae kwon do now, I hope that by writing about it, I'll be able to share my good memories with other people.

Also, the location and many of the students have changed since I went to tae kwon do in high school, but by writing about it, I can always go back to the way things were.

My Valuable Husband, Part 2

This is cross-posted from the AW message board.

When I'm stuck, I usually can't figure out exactly why I'm stuck, so I will talk to my husband. I try to talk about my current problem, because that's the only thing I'm stuck on, right? Though usually just by talking to him, I'm able to figure out a lot more about the story, the characters, their backstories, the world, etc. just by talking to him. And yeah, sometimes the conversations are a bit one-sided, but usually just voicing ideas helps. Besides, I figure if an idea sounds really stupid when I'm trying to explain it to my husband, even if he isn't listening to me, then it'll probably sound stupid to everyone else.

Being Sick, Goals, and Research

I posted this at the Den of Shadows a day or two ago.

I didn't get any writing done at all last week. Mostly it was because I became extremely sick and had to miss two and a half days of work. I only went the half day on the first day I was sick because my boss made me and I don't think he realized how sick I was. But I finally went to the doctor's yesterday, and while I'm not completely better, I'm starting to feel better.

I'd probably try to get some work done today, but I have an English test to write, and besides, I don't think my brain's really functioning at full strength right now, so I'd probably just end up with a bunch of stuff that needs to be scrapped anyway.

Plus, I just got Supernatural, Season 3 in the mail yesterday, so I'm probably not going to get much writing done until I've finished watching that.

As to my weak spot, I'd say it's not actually finishing a project before starting the next one. My plots or my characters may not be that great, but with discussing problems I'm having with my husband, I can usually figure those out. It's the knowing what needs to be revised and fixed, and then not actually fixing it that I have a problem with. I think part of it is that I don't have an external deadline to keep me in line and to keep me working on one thing at a time, so I've considered sending off a query to agents, but then I've read some horror stories that happened to other people and I don't think that's the wisest idea either. So I don't know.

Though I do want to have Kitsune ready to submit by October 31, then maybe I can work on her book 2 (assuming I get the printout of it while I'm in MN in October) or I can work on some of the characters' history that happens in the distant past of Kitsu's time, but in the near future (I think) of our time. I think that history is really important to figure out too before I start doing too much work on book 2. Plus, the history should be fairly short, so I should be able to finish that for NaNo even if I don't make the 50,000 words.

Whenever I go to the library, I say I'm going to get one or two books on this one topic that I want to research, and then I come home with two bags full of books. Okay, so most of the books I get are children's books, but that's just because I find them easier to understand, at least for certain topics. But still, when I was living with my husband's parents, whenever I got home from the library, his dad would always say, "I thought you were going to get just two books." And I always say, "I was."

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Peek at my Writing Process

This is cross-posted from the Den of Shadows.

I don't think I really have candy bar scenes. Because I write out my entire story longhand first, I like to write the order that I think it should go. Usually I have two or three outlines I try to follow. One outline will be for the entire book, one will be for the chapter, and then sometimes one will be for the scene. I usually write scene outlines when either I think of a really great scene (or at least I think it's really great at the time), but it won't be happening in my story for quite some time. So I write a scene outline that I tuck into my notes to come back to when I finally get to that scene. I also write scene outlines when I can't figure out how to do the scene I'm currently working on, since writing the scene outline gives me more leeway to go off on random tangents that writing the actual scene wouldn't allow.

Even though I try to work from an outline, it's still just a starting point to the whole writing process. I think my brain's kind of chaotic, so having an outline helps me bring some order to my thoughts. Usually, my story has changed from the initial outline I wrote for it, with plenty of scenes and character emotions and reactions that I never planned out beforehand.

Though I suppose with Kitsune/Butterfly Mask, I have more of a candy bar character. I have this character whom I love working with and love the way he and my main character interact with each other, so I'm always excited when a scene with him is coming up. Plus, over the weekend, my husband helped me figure out some more of his background, so I have a bit more of a character goal/character arc for him for this book. So I'm looking forward to working on the next draft of me book just to work with him some more.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Valuable Husband

This is cross-posted from the Den of Shadows message board.

EverStar wrote:
yttar, I envy the partnership you have with your husband. It must be nice to have someone whom you can share your work with and receive feedback from. :wink:

It's kind of two-fold actually. He's really good with helping me with ideas. Which I decided to scratch the new idea I got because he figured it was too far of a stretch and it probably was which was why I stopped working on that idea, and he tried helping me fix the first couple of ideas I had. That also led to a new idea for another character's backstory and room for character growth for that character, which is always good, plus it makes one of my villains seem so much more evil, not that people will really see that right away.

But when it comes to actually reading and critiquing stories, well, he's not so good. I mean, he can point out logic and continuity errors or things that just don't make sense, but he's kind of slow at reading the story. And I don't really want to be that whole nagging wife with, "Have you read my story yet? Huh? Have you? Why aren't you reading it?"

In college we took a couple creative writing classes together and during the critique of one of my stories, there was a part that was just really bad and no one else in the class mentioned it, but he did, so he said so. Of course all the girls were outraged that my husband would say something so mean about his wife. And the two of us were like, "What? If he always tells me how great and wonderful my writing is [which it usually isn't], than how am I ever supposed to learn anything as a writer? How am I supposed to get better?" But I guess most of the girls in that class would probably dump a guy if he said anything bad about her writing.

The only downside is that he's not really considered a "fresh set of eyes". So he can catch most of the mistakes in the story, but when I finally finish editing it and before I try submitting it to an agent, I'll need to find someone else to read through it for me. I have another friend who's really good with critiques, but he's going to be starting up school again, so he'll probably be busy with his own creative writing. But with how slow I work, I probably won't have my story finished until winter break anyway.

Another Excerpt From Butterfly Mask (Kitsune)

This scene's from my WIP Butterfly Mask.

* * *

I was seven years old.

Cristao stood across from me in the middle of the training room, his emerald eyes focused on my jade ones. He bowed; I followed. “You have the skill,” he said, “you just need to use it.”

“What if I don’t want to kill?” I slapped my hands over my mouth. As if that could take away what I said.

“This isn’t about killing,” he said. “This isn’t about what you want; or what I want. This is about survival.” He assumed a fighting stance. “Now hit me.”

I stared at him; I couldn’t hurt my brother.

“If you don’t attack,” he said, circling me, forcing me to move to keep him in sight, “I will.”

He punched. I backed up. His front two knuckles grazed my upper lip. He kicked. I spun to the side.

My brother punched. I dodged. He kicked. I dodged. He forced me to move so fast, I couldn’t breathe. My brother wasn’t even sweating.

Cristao reached for something in his in the folds of his martial arts uniform. He punched. I stood there, too exhausted to move. He threw three darts.

Two whizzed past my ear. The third dart pierced my chest. As I pulled it free, I sniffed its poison. “Serentis Moss.”

He smiled, proud. “It’s good to see you studied hard, Izabel.”

I glared at him. I didn’t correct him that my knowledge of the galaxy’s deadliest poison didn’t come from my studies. Or that the dosage in a single dart wasn’t enough to kill me. But it was enough to know he was serious.

“You can have the antidote,” he said. Then he smiled. “But only if you can beat me.”

My brother reached inside his sleeve. I crouched so low I almost touched the hardwood floor. With a fox’s speed, I pounced and pinned him. I wrenched the darts from his fingers, and threw them across the room.

My brother flipped us, pinned me and slammed my head into the floor.

It was act now, or not at all.

With all my power, I kicked. Cristao flew into the wall. I looked at my brother with two solid black orbs. For the only time in my life, I saw true fear in his eyes. He knew I would kill him if I wanted to.

I crouched, growled, and pounced. As I pinned my brother, my fingernails and toenails lengthened into claws that pierced his skin. His deep crimson blood welled up under my nails, but I didn’t care. He tried to throw me off; I dug in deeper.

My canines elongated into fangs, which I sank into his throat and tore at his flesh. His screams encouraged me. I didn’t stop until his throat was nothing more than shredded flesh and blood.

Oh, God. I jumped back from my brother’s still body and screamed. It was the only mourning I was allowed before his body disappeared.

The applauding started then. From the one person hiding in the shadows. He smelled of musk over a light sheen of sweat. His scent was as familiar to me as my own.


He stepped out of the shadows, wearing his white mask with the red scorpion whose tail was ready to strike. I should have known. Why fight your own sister when you can program a Holo to do it?

“You should be more careful whom you reveal your secret to,” he said, smiling and simultaneously looking like my caring older brother and the Scorpio he was soon to be. “You never know who’ll want to use it.”

* * *

I like this scene because it's the first time my main character reveals her supernatural abilities to anyone, including herself. And I think much of the plot of Butterfly Mask directly results from this scene.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Need a Hero

A few days ago I started working on a novella for Nocturne Bites.

So I spent a couple of days working on an outline and I was pretty happy with how it was all fitting together. Then I talked about the story and characters with my husband over lunch, and he pointed out why it didn't make a whole lot of sense. More specifically, he said if that's how this type of supernatural that's supposed to be incredibly rare is created, then there'd be a whole army of these basically half-breed guys running around. Being that I only want there to be one of these "half-breeds" running around, I figured that would be a good thing to change. Which led to a whole change in plot.

So I rewrote the plot, or at least tried to based on his suggestions. And I didn't like it. There just wasn't any emotion to it.

So I rewrote it again. And I really like it this time. My husband likes it too.

Now I just need to figure out what the hero looks like. I can almost catch glimpses of what he looks like in my head, so I'm hoping that by writing the story, it'll come to me. Or I'll have to drag my husband to the HobbyOff to search the anime and game figuringes for a suitable match, like I have for the heroine.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

An Excerpt From Butterfly Mask (Kitsune)

Here's an excerpt from Butterfly Mask. I'm still editing it, so this is from my most recent draft.

I like this scene because it's the first meeting between Kitsu and Natsuke after not seeing each other for 2 years, and the setting shows some of the conflict between them being together. There is some mild language.

* * *

I squeezed his hand one last time. “What the hell did you even come here for?” Because I knew it wasn’t for an intragalactic booty call.

“You.” He turned back to face me, his chocolate brown eyes embraced mine.


“I want you to come to Elea with me.”

I stared at him.

“Aren’t you going to ask why? Or how I knew where to find you, Sombra Alara?” He quirked his sexy lips at me.

“Get out.”

“I’ve been working on something big,” he said. “Something so big, it’ll change our understanding of science. It’ll change our understanding of religion.”

There was nothing that could have that great of an impact on the galaxy.

“I’ve been working on a theory that proves humans came from a single Human Homeworld.”

Except that. “That’s heresy.”

“I know.” He looked down at me, hopeful. “Come with me.”

“I can’t.”

He looked around the trashy hotel room, with the faded pink wallpaper coming apart at the seams, the paint fractures on the wall behind the bed, the water stains on the ceiling, and the glass bowl full of condoms for all sizes, pleasures, flavors, and species.

“Why? Am I keeping you from some other affair?”

“You know it’s not like that.”

“What else would you be doing here?” He didn’t bother hiding the disgust from his eyes.

I got up, marched Natsuke to the door, and reached around him to enter the keycode. “Out.”

The door slid close between us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sci Fi Movie Fun

I saw this on a blog and thought it looked like fun.

Here’s how this works. Copy the list below. Mark in bold the movie titles for which you read the book. Italicize the ones you’ve watched.

1. Jurassic Park
2. War of the Worlds
3. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
4. I, Robot
5. Contact
6. Congo
7. Cocoon
8. The Stepford Wives
9. The Time Machine
10. Starship Troopers
11. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
12. K-PAX
13. 2010
14. The Running Man
15. Sphere
16. The Mothman Prophecies
17. Dreamcatcher
18. Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
19. Dune
20. The Island of Dr. Moreau
21. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
22. The Iron Giant (The Iron Man)
23. Battlefield Earth
24. The Incredible Shrinking Woman
25. Fire in the Sky
26. Altered States
27. Timeline
28. The Postman
29. Freejack (Immortality, Inc.)
30. Solaris
31. Memoirs of an Invisible Man
32. The Thing (Who Goes There?)
33. The Thirteenth Floor
34. Lifeforce (Space Vampires)
35. Deadly Friend
36. The Puppet Masters
37. 1984
38. A Scanner Darkly
39. Creator
40. Monkey Shines
41. Solo (Weapon)
42. The Handmaid’s Tale
43. Communion
44. Carnosaur
45. From Beyond
46. Nightflyers
47. Watchers
48. Body Snatchers

Okay, so I didn't read all of Jurassic Park or War of the Worlds, but I tried. I had to return War of the Worlds to the library before I could finish it, and the writing was probably above me at the time I tried reading it. But I did listen to the radio broadcast on audio cassette, if that makes up for it. Oh, and for Dune, I saw the newer miniseries, or at least part of it, but I own a couple of the books (all unread).

Also, I, Robot shouldn't count, or at least the one with Will Smith since that was originally an original screenplay. (It was the producers or someone who said to add some Asmovian elements to it to make it appeal to a wider audience.)

I might have watched Cocoon, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Thing, and some others, but I don't remember.

Monday, August 18, 2008

On the Origin of Stories

This is modified from my original post to the Fangs, Fur, & Fey LJ community.

I think my favorite stories to work on are ones that come to me in pieces, where I get a glimpse of something here (like a character, an image, a title, etc.) and I get a glimpse of something there. For a while I think these glimpses have nothing to do with each other--and for the most part they don't.

Then something happens where I need to work on an actual story (rather than filling notebooks with random notes), and all these different, previously unconnected pieces just fit together.

So I can start with an opening line ("An angel and a demon can never be friends."), an image (all the fishes gathering at spawning time), a title (Dragon Rose: A Dragon's Love Story), a character (Pai's drawing, Rose and Striker from role-playing games), or a "what if . . ." (What if you made this a sci fi?, What would it be like to live in a world where . . . ?, or What if he didn't know that she [his girlfriend] was the supernatural he's supposed to be hunting?), but usually one of these isn't enough to get the full story. Also, I mostly rely on the "what ifs" to fill in the missing pieces of character and plot.

Because I know the origin of Pai's story the best, I will use it as an example of how one of my stories came into being.

When I was in 11th grade, I drew a picture of a girl wearing a Chinese-style dress, wore a cape, and had a sword. I named her Pai after a video game character I used to always play at my friend's house, but for the life of me can't remember the game. At the time, I think I had some notion of turning her into a superhero.

A few years later, I got this idea for a "magical girl" story (which is a Japanese manga/anime genre about a young girl who gets magical powers and can be like a superhero). Around the same time, I wanted to write about a character who had a sleepwalking dream, much like my own experience. So I named this "magical girl" story "Nothing Else Matters" in memory of the boy I had the dream about.

The story didn't really go anywhere. Fast forward a couple years to my creative writing class in my last year of college where I needed a short story to write. I had planned on working on another short story, but I got this image of a teenage girl holding a sword after a long battle with blood running down her hands, but not from the actual fighting.

My mind placed all these things together, so when it came time to write the short story (which was really chapter 1 of my new WIP), everything just fell into place. The short story was titled "Esper" (a type of magical girl who uses psychic powers or has ESP), though the title of the book changed to "Bleeding Hands". I didn't like "Bleeding Hands" as a title, because while it captures that image I had, I don't think it sounds good, plus I wanted to continue with the Metallica-themed title since I was dropping "Nothing Else Matters". So the new title is "No Leaf Clover" which I think fits the theme or the events much better.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

When Writing Worlds Collide

When I first started writing all the stuff I've worked on since high school, I thought that each story took place in a different world. But the more I learned about each story, the more I realized that they were all practically taking place in the same world anyway, or in a world so similar that it would be more difficult to keep the many worlds apart than it would be to combine the characters and histories all into one world.

Actually, I should mention that not all of my worlds have become one. Just that it's only been the more recent stuff that I started earlier this year that isn't part of the main world. Though I keep trying to figure out ways that they could be only to say, 1. I don't want them to be in the same world, 2. That makes absolutely no sense for them to be in the same world, or 3. That's contradictory to what I already have established in the main world.

At first I thought my characters all existed in different worlds, but then I realized that three of my characters shared a cousin. The cousin isn't even mentioned in any of the writing or the notes, only in some vague impression I have of their backstories. But that led to two characters being sisters, and the older sister's boyfriend's friend being their cousin. Though yesterday or the day before, I might have added one of my other characters and her older sister to the mix of cousins. This family is somehow highly supernatural or affected by the supernatural and the majority of them don't know it. Which begs the question: why?

I'll try not to think about this too much for the time being since I really want to finish editing Kitsune/Butterfly Mask. But who knows, maybe that'll be important somehow. Though I'm looking forward to finding out the secret behind this supernatural family.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Some Writing and a Much Needed Vacation

For the time being, I've set Kitsune aside to work on a submission for a YA book I started a while ago. Hopefully, it's just a short distraction, and then a really good motivator to finish Kitsune so I can work on this other story (called No Leaf Clover).

I don't know if I'm going to do NaNo this year or not either. It depends on if I finish both Kitsune and No Leaf Clover. And if I can figure out what to write about. So if I get the other two books done, I might work on book 2 in my vampire trilogy, so we'll see.

Other than that, I'm on a much desired vacation, but don't have much time to work, since my mom and my husband's parents are here and my husband and I get to act as tour guides. It's kind of amazing how much more I'm understanding or remembering just by being here long enough, and how the different parts of history connect.

So far, we've visited the house where the Mori daimyo (feudal lord) lived in Hofu, Yamaguchi and we went to Hiroshima Castle that was built by Mori to be a very defensive castle. And tomorrow, we'll be going to Shoin Shrine in Hagi, Yamaguchi that's dedicated to Yoshido Shoin, one of the people that Mori signed a death warrant for.

Writing this makes me think of my trip to Brazil and how learning about the history there just fascinated me. While in Brazil, I had one of my good friends (who's from Brazil) explain the history to me (well, he translated what the tour guide said in Portuguese to English). And when we go to Hagi, one of my students who's a volunteer tour guide and has spent a lot of time studying the history of Hagi will give us a tour.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Urban Fantasy Fans

I joined the LiveJournal community Urban Fantasy Fans today. I figured I've been reading posts there often enough that I should just join it.

Here's my introduction post, cross-posted from UFF.

LJ Name/Nickname: yttar

Are you a writer? Yes.

Are you trying to get published? Yes and no. As soon as I'm finished editing, I'll try to get my book published.

What do you write about? Right now I'm working with fox shapeshifters, but I've also written about hunters, witches, espers, vampires, faeries, and other shapeshifters. I also write a mix of modern and futuristic fantasy.

What are you reading now? Man of Many Minds by E. Everett Evans, a 1950s sci fi novel about a telepathic spy.

Who is your favorite urban fantasy author? YA author Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.

What urban fantasy book is your favorite? It's a toss up between Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong, Moon Called by Patricia Briggs, and Shattered Mirror by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.

Who is your favorite character? Either Sarah Vida from Shattered Mirror, Risika from In the Forests of the Night, or Hai from the Kiesha'Ra Series.

Do you write fanfic? What fandoms? No.

Anything else? Currently, I'm living in the Land of the Rising Sun where I teach English as a Second Language to Japanese people of most ages, from kindergarteners to retirees.

Oh yeah, I also added a new picture. Well, it's the only one I have here, but oh well.

My husband took the picture after our first trip back from Hiroshima when we stopped at one of the rest stops off of the Interchange (the IC). While there, he got hotdogs from a vending machine.

And while I'm making changes, I think I'm changing the title of my current book from Kitsune to Butterfly Mask. I really like Kitsune as a title. And I really like Butterfly Mask. But as I've been going through the edits, I think Butterfly Mask is a more suiting title. Especially since it goes back to the first title I had for Kitsu's story, which was Butterfly Kiss, which goes back to the naming scheme of my second and third books I wrote (Whale Song and Dragon Rose).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A UF Classification

Over at the Science Fiction/Fantasy writing section of the Absolute Write message board, one of the posters proposed a classification system for urban fantasy. As someone with a BS in Biology, I couldn't resist modifying his a bit.

Kingdom - SF (Speculative Fiction)
Phylum - Fantasy
Class - Urban
Order - Contemporary, Historical, Futuristic
Family - Romance, Mystery, etc.
Genus - demons, fey, shapeshifters, magic users (witches, psychics), angels, vampires, etc.
Species - author's specific interpretation of the supernatural creatures and cultures

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Typing is Finished and the Kitty Has a Name

I finally finished typing up Kitsune. But after typing almost 30 handwritten pages yesterday, my wrists are incredibly sore from resting on the computer. I'm going to spend most of the day reading, and then this weekend I hope to have my husband read through it so he can give me some feedback on what's working and what isn't. So I'm pretty excited about that.

Plus, our little kitten finally has a name, and a nickname (but you know how that goes). His name is Saru, which is Japanese for monkey. His nickname is monkey, because he really is a little monkey. If I'm standing up and wants attention he'll just dig his nails in and climb up my leg. Though is nickname is also Georgie. From the monkey Curious George.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Cutest Thing

My husband got me the cutest thing for my birthday. It's a tan and white kitten. Of course, he isn't as cute as Vivi was when we got her, but he's still cute. He doesn't have a name yet, but only because I'm waiting to be inspired.

He has a birth defect that makes his tail shorter than normal, an infection in his right eye that may or may not make him permanently blind, and fleas. Since we both have Thursday morning free, we're going to go shopping for him. You know, to get things like a flea collar or anti-flea shampoo, some toys, a food dish and a water dish (he's using some plates right now).

As soon as I get pictures uploaded to the computer, I'll add one here.

Oh, and just like kitties everywhere, he wants to claim the computer as his.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Ideas Keep Coming

Among other revisions necessary for my story, I've been playing with the idea of giving it a new opening. I figure for a semi-action novel, the opening needs to start with a lot more action (because so far, the action doesn't really start until chapter 2). And last night, I finally figured out how to do that. Or, what that starting action should be. Plus, if I do it right, it should create some additional suspense. Of course it means I'll be creating a new chapter 1, chapter 1 will become chapter 2, I'll create a new chapter 3, and chapter 3 will become chapter 4 etc. But then later on, there's a chapter or two that I want to remove from book 1 and put into book 2 (with some changes, of course. But I won't get to that until I've finished this one.)

I haven't made any changes to the story yet. So far, I've just been taking notes on what new ideas I come up with as I've been typing my novel. It's probably a good thing too, since I don't know if I'll keep all the new ideas I have, or if they even make sense for the story. But once I have my novel typed (which will hopefully be by either Thursday or Friday), I can make a list of all the changes I want to make a list of all the changes I want to incorporate, so I'm not adding unnecessary changes.

I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I'm still pretty excited about all the work I have to do.

Out of My Comfort Zone and Loving It

I don't know exactly what counts as a non-standard genre for me. I guess I could say Kitsune does.

1. While it's a love story like pretty much everything else I've written, Kitsu sort of has a relationship with many different guys (but she's still only with one guy at a time).

2. It's sci fi. And while I've written sci fi before, this one has pretty much nothing to do with Earth. So while some sci fi writers can say "such and such technology works like such and such technology from Earth, only more sci fi-y, I can't do that. Needless to say, my descriptions a bit lacking since I don't know how to describe it in non-Earth terms.

3. Kitsu's also a spy. This is what makes her story the most outside of my genre. I've never read a spy novel and I've only seen a few spy movies other than James Bond. I wouldn't have made Kitsu a spy if I didn't think it'd be fun, but it is by far the most challenging thing to work with.

Actually, I used to think the sci fi part was the most challenging thing, and then last weekend I started watching Alias, and that's generated a whole bunch of questions from me and my husband about the inner workings of her world that I just hadn't considered before, but would make sense. So now, not only do I have to change things about the plot in book 1, but I have change parts of the world. Hopefully, by the time I get through with all the new world building and it gets fully integrated into the plot, I'll have a really, really good story.

Also because of Kitsune, I'm breaking away from the genre I normally read, which is mostly I read urban fantasy. The book I'm currently reading is a thriller. And next up will be a couple sci fi and spy novels.

I guess though, because Kitsune is so far out of what I normally write, and because I want to make it as good as I can, I'm exploring things that I wouldn't have before working on Kitsune, like reading thrillers and finding out that I like them.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Short Break

Well, I'm taking a short break from typing up Kitsune to work on a short story. It shouldn't take long, since it can only be 1000 words.

Basically, I was looking into the Writing Challenge on the Women of the Otherworld message board, and saw some possible requirements for the next challenge and was inspired. The requirements I'm following for this story are 1000 words, nothing supernatural, and an unusual point of view (like a pet dog's point of view).

So my story is called, "My People" and it's based on true events, only it'll be from the perspective of my Pomeranian, Vivi. (Yes, that's the cute puppy in the picture in the sidebar.)

I want to finish the short story this weekend, along with typing up the rest of Kitsune. But I'm really far behind on Kitsune, since I didn't type anything on Tuesday or Thursday (the one day I actually have a lot of time to get work done), and I didn't make my page count on Wednesday. Also, I don't think I'll make my page count for Friday. So it might take me another week to finish typing Kitsune.

On the plus side, I have a bunch of notes and a couple of new directions the story could go. Actually, I'm not sure if the new directions are a good thing or not, since sometimes when my mind jumps on an idea, all these other ideas come flooding into my head. And usually sometime later, I look back at what I wrote, at what I was certain was the *best* idea ever, only to realize that perfect idea doesn't fit with everything else I have in the story and/or world, either it's contradictory or just plain stupid. Though once in a while, I manage to get a few good ideas that really to propel my plot, story, characters, etc. into new and exciting directions.

Anyway. I'm probably going to hold off on engaging or dismissing any of my new plot points until I've finished typing Kitsune, and thus reading this version. Hopefully, when I get to the end, I'll have a better idea of what the story needs. Then I'll be able to have a big brainstorming session with my husband, and see if his perspective sheds some necessary light needed to reign in the next draft.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Progress and New Ideas

I've been typing up Kitsune at a pretty good pace and I hope to be done by next weekend. When i first started typing it up and rereading what I had written, I was like, Aww, this is so horrible. How can I ever make any sense out of this? To, These chapters don't belong in book 1, they should go in book 2. I mean, the stuff is really interesting, and I want to read more, but I think it will be better if I save it. And finally in the last couple days, I got this reaction, Hey, this stuff's getting really good. I think this is where the plot should really start.

So yesterday at work, I wrote a new short synopsis to give the basic overview of the beginning of the novel. Well, at least what will be the new-ish beginning. Plus, I've already started to think of the new draft as Butterfly Mask, so we'll see which title I go with when it eventually gets finished.

The writing's going good for me and I'm generating a million and one new ideas, but all for this story (which is always a good thing).


Happy Independence Day, everyone.

I don't have much to say, only that this year is my third year without being able to watch the fireworks. And yes, it makes me kind of sad. Before now, I never really realized how much I liked watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

The first year I skipped them (in 2006) was because my husband and I were in Mankato for the day, so we spent time with one of our friends we had met while we were in college. We probably could have seen the fireworks, except since he had two small children, they were already sleeping, etc., so my husband decided to spend more time with our friend rather than seeing the fireworks. I only agreed, because I thought, Hey, I'll be able to watch them next year. Right?

Only in 2007 we were in South Korea. And we didn't come back until July 13th. So much for seeing fireworks that year.

And finally this year, we are in Japan, but we got a few fireworks. Back in May (on our wedding anniversary, actually), there was a fireworks festival in Ajisu, where we used to live before moving to Ouchi Yata. But they also sell a bunch of fireworks at the store, so my husband picked some up and we lit a few off. We probably would have lit more except it was starting to sprinkle. And I always feel wired when we're doing something that the legality of it is questionable. My husband said it should be fine since they sell them at the convenience store. But I guess I'm still used to living in Minnesota where up until a few years ago, fireworks were illegal. Sure, that didn't stop people from having them, but it did stop people from lighting them where others can see.

With all of this, it got me thinking about two things.

1. I love watching fireworks on the Fourth of July, and it feels like there's something missing when I don't get to see them. It's odd because I don't feel particularly patriotic, but watching large fireworks displays without it being the Fourth of July just seems really weird to me. Like there's an emptyness in watching the fireworks without that feeling that these (the fireworks) are in celebration of our nation's independence and freedom.

2. I find it just a tab bit ironic that, to me, fireworks means independence and freedom and the US as a whole, when fireworks were invented by a different culture.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Sky is so Blue

Cross-posted from the Den of Shadows.

When I was in 6th grade, my English teacher kept pretty much all of my writing (same for everyone else in my class), then gave it back to me when I was a senior. The first piece of writing in the folder was a poem called, "The Sky is so Blue." Even after reading it a few times, I still couldn't believe that I wrote it. So I told my friend (who had been in the same English class as me in 6th grade) that my teacher made a mistake and gave me someone else's poem. My friend read it and said, "Oh no, I remember you writing this poem." And I have absolutely no memory of doing so. The weirdest thing is that the poem is really good. I mean, I can even read it now (almost fourteen years later), and go, "Wow, how did I ever manage to write anything like that?" It just makes me kind of sad that I don't actually remember writing it.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Here's me when I got home from work today.

103253 / 120000 words. 86% done!

So the 120,000 words is just an estimated word count. But I have just finished chapter 31, and now I only have the epilogue left to write. I highly doubt the epilogue will be 17,000 words long. Or even 7,000. And then there's the revisions.

Here's me about three hours later.

104426 / 104426 words. 100% done!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Talking About Plot

This is mostly cross-posted from The Otherworld message board. I started this post over a day ago, and now that I'm finally returning to it, I don't remember exactly what I was going to say. Ah, such is life and getting distracted by fun things (like visiting Japanese temples) and work things (like needing to write English tests).

I almost always talk to my husband about what I'm writing. Whether I'm at the beginning stages of planning something and need some example plot placement holders to give me an idea of how to get to the next major plot point. Or if I just need to rethink the direction the story's going in. I'll also usually talk to him a lot while I'm actually writing the story. Like if I've worked my way into a corner and can't find a way out of it, I'll try to explain what's going on with the plot and if any relevant things have changed since I last talked to him. Sometimes he helps me figure out what's going to happen next. But most of the time, just talking to him puts what I'm working on in a different perspective, and that's usually enough to get my own brain to start thinking again.

Though sometimes I won't talk to my husband about something I'm working on. At least not write away. Like on Friday, I wrote a scenes where I had intended two characters to work together, only they were fighting themselves when they were supposed to be fighting someone else. I didn't tell my husband about this right away because 1. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep this interaction in the next draft or not and 2. I wasn't sure what my husband would think of it. So usually for things like that (things that I'm not so sure about), I usually wait until my husband's reading the story for him to find out what I wrote. As it was, I don't to a problem in my writing on Saturday and ended up explaining that "change" to my story so I could get him to help me with my latest problem.

Anyway, on Friday, I broke 100,000 words. And on Saturday, I finished Chapter 30. Which means I only have Chapter 31 and the Epilogue left to write. So I'm pretty excited about that, and I hope to finish this draft before my birthday on Sunday (June 29). Of course I probably won't make the 120,000 words, but that's okay. Right now, I just want to have it finished. Finally. So I can start the revisions.

The Otherworld discussion also brought up these two questions, which I'm more or less paraphrasing.

1. What are the benefits of discussing your plot?

I guess I like discussing my plots because a. it lets me know that at least one other person (usually more) thinks my idea is as interesting as I do and b. my husband is pretty good at reigning in some of my more far-fetched ideas. Especially the ones that really have nothing to do with the story and entertaining the ideas is only a way to procrastinate from the actual writing.

2. Does discussing your plot improve your writing?

I don't know if it necessarily improves my writing, but helps improve my logic and reasoning, and it definitely helps strengthen the ideas behind the plot.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How Teaching ESL has Affected my Writing

Since teaching English as a second language both in South Korea and now in Japan, I can safely say that it has affected my writing, and perhaps my speaking ability.

First, I'll start with the good stuff. When I have students ask "Why?" about parts of English grammar and things that are so natural to me as a native speaker and writer of English, I have to stop and actually think about why something works that way. If I were speaking to another native speaker, I'd give some excuse like, "It just sounds better that way."

But that doesn't work in Korea or Japan. For one, neither Korean nor Japanese has plurals. So when a Japanese student says, "I like cat," I'm pretty sure they mean, "I like cats." But if a Korean student made the same mistake, I wouldn't be as sure about their true meaning. That's mostly because saying "I like cat" is like saying "I like to eat cats," which is a perfectly acceptable food in Korea.

Now for the bad stuff. Since coming here to teach English, I'll make sentences like, "I started working on this story longer ago than I started working on Kitsu's story," and I'll stare at the sentence thinking that something's wrong with the phrase "longer ago," but I have no idea if that's a viable English sentence or not. Though I'd like to keep the "when in doubt" thought going, and hopefully assume I'll be smart enough to get rid of this questionable phrases in my writing. (Unless of course I'm writing a first person story about a girl who's teaching ESL abroad and want to keep her messed up English "authentic," but I don't see that happening anything soon.)

I'll also look at a work that my subconscious knows is spelled correctly, but for the life of me, I think it's misspelled somehow. Which can be a pain when writing everything out on paper where I don't have a spellchecker to tell me if I spelled the word wrong or not. But, this one's really only a minor thing since I'm pretty bad at spelling to begin with.

And the last one is that I never thought about English as being "fresh" or I suppose "stale" until I came to Japan. I had one of the other teachers at my school who's been in Japan longer than I have ask me for help with one of the "Why?" questions of English grammar because my English was "fresher" than his. (Actually, the "fresher" is mine. He said, "Hey, your English's fresh.")

Friday, June 13, 2008

Nearing the End

This is mostly cross-posted from the Den of Shadows.

I'm on one of the last chapters in my book, and have been for over a week now. Mostly, it was because I didn't know how to write this one fight scene, so I spent some time working the ecology of Kitsu's homeworld. I have some pretty interesting stuff, but it still needs work.

Earlier this week, I wrote part of the fight scene. I basically asked myself, what's the worse that could happen to her right now? And unfortunately, what came up might not work so well for a future romantic relationship, because it might cause some people to go "And she's supposed to be madly in love with him after that? Eww." But I figure as long as it gets me to write now, it doesn't really matter what I write, I can always change it during the rewrites.

Friday afternoon, I finally got around to writing the next step in the fight scene. This will probable also need a lot of work, since I don't think I've built up to this any. When I was trying to figure out how to do the fight scene, I just asked, "What would be a really cool way for her to win?" Though thinking about it now, I wonder if it would be better to ask, "What would happen if she lost?" or "Would anything cool happen if she lost?" Actually, come to think of it, I think she does need to lose.

Even though there are only about two chapters and an epilogue to the story, I still have to write about five more chapters because of the epilogue. Basically the last two chapters I have to write will be chapters 1 and 2 for book 2, so I can have the epilogue line up properly.

Really, I should be taking my own advice from an earlier post about not thinking too much and just letting it all click. Then I'd probably be wasting less time doing "research" that I *think* will help me write, and spend more time doing the actual writing. Especially since I would really like to get it finished soon so I can move on to editing it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Yukata Fun

For our fifth wedding anniversary, my husband bought me a yukata (or a summer kimono). While he was at the store, he made sure he had everything, including the yukata, the obi (belt), the geta (wooden sandals), and a purse. Only when we searched on the internet for how to put a yukata on, we found out that we were missing the sashes to tie the yukata in place, as well as a slip/petticoat type thing to go under the yukata.

Luckily, one of my husband's students is a beautician and often helps women put on their yukata and kimono. Actually, I've heard that many women don't know how to put one on properly so they usually have someone help them.

We met with my husband's student Saturday night. She had a petticoat I could wear, as well as the sashes to hold the yukata in place. As she put the yukata on me, my husband videotaped it, so if we ever have difficulties, or we're back home in the US, he'll be able to watch it and figure out what he's doing. She taught him how to tie the easiest bow, or the Butterfly, which he said was a lot like tying a bowtie (if only he actually knew how to tie one). Lastly, she stuck a cardboard piece in front, inside the obi to make it look a lot smoother. Also, since it was my first time wearing geta, she advised me to wear the tabi (socks that are divided between the big toe and all the small toes) my husband picked up so I wouldn't get a blister between my toes, even though they never wear socks with yukata.

I was just about ready to ask my husband's student where I could buy the sashes and whatnot, when she said she was giving us everything but the petticoat. So hopefully when my husband and I go out shopping on Sunday, we'll be able to find one for me.

Also, this last week I found out that both his parents and my mom will be coming to Japan for a week in August. So I'm looking forward to their visit, especially since it means they'll be bringing Vivi with them. But I figured at least one of our moms will want to buy a yukata (since they're a lot cheaper than kimono), and now we know all the stuff you really need to have everything, including a video of how to put it on.

We were also lucky because this weekend there is a firefly festival going on in Yamaguchi. We went to a fireworks festival in Ajisu on our anniversary (May 17th), but I was somewhat disappointed I didn't get to wear my yukata. But after getting my yukata put on, we went to the firefly festival. We might go back tonight so I can play the "fish game" where you use a flimsy or quickly dissolving scoop to try to catch a fish or two. Most people can't actually do it. Though I have a student who caught a bunch of fish playing this game. But my husband told me if I caught a fish playing that game, he would buy me an aquarium to keep them in (pretty handy for keeping fish, neh?)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Inspiration, Take 2

I actually get most of my inspiration from movies, but in a way, it's not really inspiration for a completely new story. It's more like somewhere in my brain, I think, hey, I should turn that into a story. But I don't do anything with that idea until I see a movie that's similar to my idea, and I think, that would be a really fun story to work on.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End -- This made me want to write a pirate story, but rather than returning to the pirate story I had started a couple years before, I started a new one (but that was partly because I was living in South Korea and my notes were in Minnesota). I guess you could say the inspiration for the plot came when I asked one of the other English teachers what came to mind when they thought of Eastern dragons, which I think they said "fate."

Vampire movies -- Whether they're good or really, really bad, watching vampire movies always makes me want to work on Standard Issue. I don't even know how the idea got started, just that my husband was like, why is it that in every vampire movie all the vampires have to have the same "standard issue" clothing (of you know, black and leather and tight).

B-Rate horror movies -- I was creating a character for a role-playing game set in the modern day that was supposed to be vaguely horror-ish (the game, not the character), when I needed something for her and her "sidekick" to do while the guys tried to show off, thinking they knew how to destroy the big bad monster. So my character and her sidekick watched b-rate horror movies, which seemed appropriate considering that the adventure seemed like it was taken straight from a B-horror movie anyway. Add a few writing exercises for one of my creative writing classes at college, giving the character a degree in zoology, and well . . . I'm still waiting to write Mission #1: Tank Riding Zombies, but my husband wants to start a webcomic with her and the character he created in our creative writing class.

Okay, so those last weren't exactly the initial inspiration for the story, but close enough.

I also get inspiration from dreams, music, and drawings.

Dreams -- I haven't really dealt much with the stories I want to write based off some of my dreams, but their basic ideas are in the background for the main world that my stories take place in. I call them the Psychic series, but mostly they're biopunk. Though I wrote one short story in that series while I was in Korea, but that inspiration came from the high security system for the place I worked at and how seemingly easy it was to get around it. (Of course, I wish I had that short story in Japan with me rather than in MN since I would really like to edit it and submit it.)

Music and Drawings -- Pai's story is actually inspired from both. Pai is a character I drew during 11th or 12th grade, though she didn't become a character until sometime after I was in college. Sometime later I was listening to "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica and I thought it would be fun to write a story based on the lyrics to that song. Well, since most things don't turn out how you think they will, especially when it comes to plotting, I've decided that the song that much better describes her first book is "No Leaf Clover" by Metallica. But if I'm lucky, book 4 will finally give me the "Nothing Else Matters" type of story.

There are many other places I can get inspiration from, and each of my stories probably has their own inspiration story, but that'll be saved for a later time.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

When Everything Clicks: Or What Happens When I Stop Thinking Too Much

This is sort of cross-posted from the Den of Shadows.

One of my favorite things about writing is when everything just clicks together. The first version of Kitsune was a jumbled mess called Butterfly Kiss that became even more of a mess when I tried revising it. So last August, I dumped the original plotline for something completely different, one that featured a new character as the villain. With such a simple change (having a different villain), the whole story just seemed to come together. I was amazed at how easy it was to plot out the main events. Of course the writing is a bit trickier, but that's always the more difficult part of the creative process for me.

Only I was having a new problem. I had always wanted to write Butterfly Kiss as the first book in a trilogy, with the second book called Butterfly Shadow and the third book Butterfly Essence/Soul. Unfortunately, I also thought of calling it the Fox Chronicles, and I figured something labeled "Chronicles" should be more than three books long, and maybe closer to being five books. But with everything I had shoved into Butterfly Kiss, I didn't think I would get much more than those three books. But, when I changed the central focus of book one (now called Kitsune), created a new villain and thus a different aspect of my world, I opened the Fox Chronicles up to the potential for a very long series.

Of course the problem I was having in May was how was I going to recombine what I had initially written with Kitsune to make a cohesive overall plot for the series.

When I was in tae kwon do, the black belts and red belts who tried helping me always told me, "You think too much. Just stop thinking, and it'll come to you," or something like that. It didn't matter who was giving the advice, but it was always along those lines. And, you know, the few times I was able to actually "stop thinking," I was really good. I didn't make any really dumb mistakes and I could ignore the other people in the room while I was testing. The same thing applied when I practiced board breaking. Every time I thought about kicking the board, my foot just stopped right at the board, because I was too afraid of hurting myself. When I finally stopped thinking about breaking the board, and just did it, it didn't even hurt.

Anyway, about a week ago, I just started writing a basic outline for the series. It was something simple like a few notes on what the book is about, who the villain is, who the love interest is, and Kitsu's main character arc or the main theme/controlling idea of the book. At first, I didn't think I'd have much of a plot for any of the other books, but it was quite easy for me to come up with a basic plot for the next three books in the series. I was kind of amazed at how easy everything just seemed to fit together. Plus, this quick outline for the Fox Chronicles, books 1 to 4 covers Kitsune, Butterfly Kiss (now divided into books 2 and 3), and a new idea I came up with after introducing Kadin and the Foxes in book 1 instead of in book "yes" (meaning, I needed to introduce the Foxes, I just had no idea when that was going to happen). Plus, these first four books lay the groundwork for the politics that I want to deal with throughout the series.

As for the events of Butterfly Shadow and Butterfly Soul/Essence. Well, Shadow can be worked in pretty much anywhere after book 4. While the events of Butterfly Soul/Essence will get divided up much like Butterfly Kiss. Since the probable events from Soul/Essence dealt with a lot of the backstory for the galaxy in general, sort of like the "real history" of how the galaxy (politically speaking) came to be. Likewise, Soul/Essence dealt with the far future of the galaxy. All in all, I think the story will be better by having it split up. But the events in the far future will still be the last events dealt with in the Fox Chronicles.

Now I just need to get back to writing so I can finish Kitsune and find a home for it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Movies and Inspiration

I have this habit that when I watch a movie I really enjoy, I usually have one of two reactions.
1. That is the best movie in the world, I wish I could write a story as good as that.
2. I want to write something like that.

The last movie this happened with was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. So I spent about a month outlining a pirate novel, called The Emerald Dragon. It's about a girl named Teague, the youngest dolphin shapeshifter, and the Emerald Dragon, a statue that controls fate. Of course I didn't get much past the first chapter because I went back to working on Kitsune.

The newest movie this happened with was She's the Man, and I kind of got two stories out of it.

The first story's about a character I played in a fantasy role-playing game about a young noble lady who gets mad at her parents for trying to force her into a marriage with a proper noble. She's not too keen on the idea, so she uses a magical medallion to disguise herself as a man so she can enter the jousting tournaments.

I've been wanting to work on that story since we stopped playing that game because I really like the character. Unlike most of my female characters, she's very strong in a quiet sort of way, at least while she's female. But, when the game ended, she was in the Afterlife after having carried one of the other character's dead body out of some underground vault. I don't remember exactly what was going on, but I do know that it was very important for my character to win the other character's respect. Mainly because he was the closest to seeing through her disguise, and she didn't want anyone to know what was really going on until she was ready to reveal it herself. (Which if she had her way wouldn't be until she found a man worthy of her.)

But rather than starting that story at the beginning, with the girl getting upset about her parents trying to set up another arranged marriage for her and then her using the medallion to disguise herself as a man, I wanted to start the story closer to where we stopped playing the game. Which is in the Afterlife. Only something went wrong. Because instead of being a female in the Afterlife, she's male. And she finds herself falling for the rogue-assassin whose dead body she had carried until she died.

The best title I have for this right now is We Fell in Love in the Afterlife, but I think it's a little too long.

Though for whatever reason when I start putting it to paper, I ended up making the main character a high school girl from the 21st century who somehow travels to this fantasy world where this young noble lady lives. And in the process of figuring out how to get out of the girl's body and back home, she ends up needing to learn how to joust and falls in love with the rogue-assassin. I don't think the two character concepts mesh very well, but my brain seemed to think so.

The second story I started working on is called Catfight, at least for the time being. It's also another story I've been wanting to write for quite some time. This one has to do with high school, tae kwon do, love letters, and girls fighting over the same guys. Unlike pretty much every other story I have ever written, this one has absolutely nothing to do with the supernatural, sci fi, or fantasy.

I haven't written much in either. But I want to work on Catfight until June, when I plan to go back to Kitsune.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Writing Prompts

Mostly cross-posted from the Den of Shadows.

Angel Love, Demon Love is a story about angels and demons. It started from a short story I wrote during college when I was in one of my moods where I just needed to write something and have it finished. Then I took a creative writing class and the story just exploded.

Rather than outlining the expanded version of Angel Love, Demon Love like I normally do, I thought it would be fun to take the vague idea of plot from the short story I had written and write the story based on writing exercises and prompts. This actually wasn't my idea to start with. I hadn't planned on it being more than the short story that it was, and all I was going to do with it was maybe revise the short story and try to sell it. But then, like I said, I took that creative writing class.

For the first short story or chapter of a novel that we were supposed to turn in, the teacher gave us a prompt to write some part of our story or something about our characters. At first I thought it was really stupid because by writing based on some prompt, I thought it would eliminate my creativity. Instead, I found the opposite to be true. And I found out there was a lot more to Xander and Cortillya's story to tell than what I wrote in the original short story.

But now, I want to write their entire story (or the vast majority that remains of it) based off of writing exercises and prompts.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Writing Again

It's been a while.

It's Golden Week. Which means no classes, no school, no work for a whole week. And while I had planned to spend the week cleaning and writing, I didn't get as much done as I wanted. Well, actually, I haven't gotten any writing done. But, I've been thinking about the last bit of stuff I wrote about two weeks ago, and have decided that maybe those few pages aren't as bad as I thought they were.

Like usual, I wasn't really thinking about what I was writing, and just sort of wrote some complications for my character that I hadn't planed on. So I was going to get rid of all that, and start the scene over. Only now, as I dread redoing the scene, I'm thinking, hey it might not be as bad as I thought it was. I reread the last sentence of that scene a little bit ago, and I thought, hey, I want to find out what happens.

In other news, I finished my synopsis for Kitsune, which I sent (along with a query letter and the first three chapters) to my mom so she could send it to the SHOMI writing contest for me. I was afraid that it wasn't going to make it since it needed to be in by April 30th, and my mom didn't send it until the 28th. But it arrived.

Now I just have to wait until July 1st to see if I'm a finalist or not.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weekends in Japan

Apparently, I haven't updated in a while. Oh well, here goes. This one's cross-posted at the Den of Shadows. For some reason, I have this habit of reading that message board, writing something, and then thinking, hey, I should post this at my blog.

Anyway, here's my weekend in Japan, and why I don't get as much work done on the weekends as I should.

While I haven't finished my synopsis yet, what with going to two different shrines so my husband could take pictures of the falling cherry blossoms and continuing with our weekend hobby of renting really bad movies. (And since there might be a sale at the rental place we might go back to get more today. Bad movies for 80 yen, how can you go wrong? Seriously, it's a bad thing. Because some of them are really, really bad. It's even worse when the Japanese covers make them look like they might actually be quality. Anyway. I'm thinking about starting a bad movie review blog so others can share my pain. Actually, I should say that I find watching bad movies to be fun, pain and all.)

On the plus side, I found a problem with the first draft of my story, and a fairly easy way to fix it. Originally I had my character get on this spaceship and then find out the the assignment she's supposed to do will also be using this spaceship. In other words, it was all very convenient. So when I was writing about this in my synopsis today, I was like, Well that doesn't make any sense. That's sort of convenient, don't ya think? But luckily I picked up on it so I can fix in my manuscript. And have her get on the ship because of the investigation she does before she gets on the ship. (Rather than staying on the ship because of the investigation she does while she's on the ship.)

Break time's over. I need to get back to writing my synopsis. (The sooner I get it done, the sooner I can go rent more bad movies for 80 yen. Yay!)

Actually another non-writing little rant, just because it'll interfere with my writing time. Why does it always seem to be bright and sunny and hot on the days I decide not to do laundry, but cool and drizzling on the days I decide to do laundry? (Also known as why can't the Japanese have dryers so I don't need to hang my clothes on the line. Seriously, you begin to appreciate the little things in American culture - like dryers and how simple it is to do laundry - when you live in Japan. But then, in America, you don't get random Japanese guys walking by your apartment and shouting, "Yo!" or "Bye-bye!" because they are the only two things they know in English. -- Okay, mini-rant over now.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Angel Love, Demon Love Snippet 2

Here's another small snippet of Angel Love, Demon Love (cross-posted at the Den of Shadows message board). The location was a dead city.

Cortillya had never understood what her mother meant. Even if she had, she would have ignored her mother's warnings about The City being dead, and traipsed down there to visit Xander anyway.

But now she looked upon the city with a different light. After living with the demons, Cortillya knows that her mother's words could never be more true. The City was dead. Not only that, it was like all the humans who continued to live in The City had the very essence that made them humans sucked out of them until they were nothing more than empty vessels imitating life.

She finally understood why it was so important to save the humans, even when they didn't want to be saved themselves. Only one question remained. Was it too late to save the humans even if it was too late to save herself?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sentance Sunday - Kitsune, chapter 2, page 2

Here's an excerpt from page 2 of Kitsune, Chapter 2: Followed.

Background: After kicking an old friend out of her hotel room, Sombra Alara learns that someone is following her, and she's not one for sticking around.

Well, here it is.

I painted the stylized black and red lines of a butterfly on my face--my mask--then wrapped it in an illusion. Only those who could see through illusions would be able to see it, and I hadn’t met anyone like that.

Needing a disguise, I pulled the fishnet stockings, the micromini, and the sheer top from my bag and changed. As I zipped my boots, they lengthened to my thighs. I illusioned my long red and black-tipped hair to blonde and emphasized my Caucasoid features over my Mongoloid ones and changed my eyes to violet. Lastly, I picked up my bag, which now looked like a tiny purse and was out the door.

As I passed the front desk, the elderly receptionist looked up at me. I winked and stopped to caress his cheek and kiss the corner of his mouth. If anyone asked about me, he wasn’t telling. It would ruin his chances of me ever doing that again. I didn’t let it show that the thought of doing any of the things I promised was beyond disgusting.

A LiveJournal Update

Last July I abandoned my LiveJournal account. Then when I wanted to start Blogging again, I created this Blogger account. But today, I finally went through the effort of getting a new password (since I forgot my old one). So I should be updating both my Blogger and LiveJournal accounts on a regular basis, meaning starting today, the content will be mostly the same (whereas everything up to now has been completely different).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Characters and Power

This is inspired from a discussion on character power at the Den of Shadows message board. Some of it may be cross-posted there.

I tend to like characters with a lot of power, but not too much power. The only problem is that it's a very thin line, and you can easily switch from having a lot of power to grotesque amounts of power. It's when the character gets to the grotesque amounts of power that drives me insane.

A problem I'm sort of having is that I've made Kitsu quite powerful. Because of her supernatural powers, her personality, her background, and the events in book one, she pretty much controls some of the most powerful men in the galaxy, and thus the galaxy. Even though she has this much power, she doesn't exactly take advantage of it. Even so I have to come up with more powerful villains to challenge her, and find believable changes to her personality. I just hope that when I finish her story (I want it to be a series), I'll have balanced her power with her responsibilities (or limitations to her power).

Actually, come to think of it, most of my main characters are quite powerful, I just try giving each one some sort of limitation so they don't seem too powerful.

First I should say, that in the Realm of Shadows, there are three things that contribute to a character's overall power level.
1. The age they first Awaken. The younger they are when they first Awaken into their powers, the more powerful they are.
2. The character's ancestry. If their parents were powerful supernaturals, then there's a good chance they are too. Though supernaturals don't have come come from two supernatural parents (there are full supernaturals, half-supernaturals, cursed supernaturals, and reborn supernaturals), and in fact the reborn ones (who come from two completely human parents) are something to look out for (but it's a good things they're pretty rare).
3. The individual's desire to use their powers. If a character doesn't want to use their powers, they won't, and they won't be powerful. But if someone has a strong desire to use, well, that can make up for all the other factors.

So now back to my powerful characters. Mostly, I'm just mentioning my main characters and not my villains since I'm still not entirely sure who some of them are and/or I don't want to give away any potential spoilers.

From my Hunter series.
1. Rose is a powerful witch-esper. She first Awoken to her powers when she was six years old and accidentally burned her house down. As a result, she bound her own powers and up until she gets to college and starts being hunted as a supernatural, she believes she is fully human, and that all things supernatural are *impossible*, so essentially, she has no powers.
2. Striker is a natural hunter. He first Awakens when he's fifteen and a werewolf is sent to kill him. Only the werewolf kills his family and he kills the werewolf. His power comes from his strong conviction, his desire to get revenge on his family and to make sure no one else has to go through what he went through. Striker is one of my few characters to get a re-Awakening, in which he actually loses his Conviction, and thus all of his powers.

From my Esper series.
1. Pai is a powerful witch-esper. Unlike her sister (Rose), she doesn't Awaken until she's in high school. Due to her destiny with an Ancient Korean sword, she has a lot of people coming after her. While she isn't necessarily strong enough to deal with them right away, she's too stubborn to back down from a fight (even when she knows she should). In addition to having a strong supernatural background, she also has a very strong desire to use her powers (though not for any reason as noble as Striker's).
2. Aiden is the last of the bird shapeshifters. Just being able to survive all the hunters makes him pretty powerful, but his determination comes from questing for the legendary phoenix who is said will be able to bring back the bird shapeshifters.

From the Forsaken trilogy.
1. Ayako. She meets the Forsaken, the most powerful vampire in existence.

Other characters from the Fox Chronicles.
1. Kaitou is a hunter. Unlike Striker, he specializes in Foxes. Due to his upbringing, Kaitou was force to semi-Awaken at a young age. He didn't fully Awaken until he was 15, when he killed his first Fox.
2. Sascha is a powerful telepath (esper). While he can't necessarily control his powers (like he can't turn them off), he's found a way to "deal" with them (which is blasting loud music in his ears 24/7 in hopes of not always knowing exactly what the people around him are thinking).

3. Natsuke's past self. (While he's not exactly in the Fox Chronicles, this is the best place to put him.) He is the only human supernatural (a witch/mage) to have such a desire to use magic and gain power that the gods themselves conspired against him.

Other characters.
1. Anubis. He is a jackal shapeshifter who's ability to (magically) heal people surpasses any other Jackal's ability except for the Anubis who lived in Ancient Egypt. The only problem is, he has no desire to use it.
2. My zombie (who's currently nameless). He somehow manages to rise above the other zombies and look beyond scavenging for his next meal. Then he learns that he has a ghost out there, who somehow managed to look beyond his immediate situation. If only the two could find each other.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Writing Goals

While I could have kept this post with my Clichés in Fantasy post, I decided to make a new one. Though this is really more just a note to myself of what I should be working on.

1. Finish writing, rewriting, and editing Kitsune, volume one of the Fox Chronicles. Write the synopsis, cover letter, bio, etc. for submitting Chapters 1 - 3 to the SHOMI Fiction Writing Contest by April 15. Type, rewrite, and edit during May and June (possibly July) of 2008. If SHOMI doesn't accept it, then I'll send it to agents and editors.

2. Rewrite and edit book one of the Forsaken trilogy, Like a Frothing Rabid Dog is Adorable. Rewrite the synopsis to match the edits made to the book. Once Ayako is suitably YA or Rabid Dog is long enough to be an adult novel, I will return to submitting it to agents and editors. (In a way, I'd prefer to keep it short and make it more YA.)

3. Start something new. This all depends on where I'm at. If I'm still in Japan when all of this is done, I have only the beginnings of novel ideas and plots that I started for the SHOMI contest (and ditched in favor of Kitsune). But if I'm back in Minnesota, than I have a whole slew of over books and novel ideas to go through.

a. Kerrianne May's story. I love the idea of the Intragalactic Fighting Tournament. And I think this story has a lot of potential. Also, I want to find out more about Lucius Ambrose.

b. I'm also curious to explore the new world of Aurora Dawn and Kala Black with gaias and ganas, and exorcists and revenants (their version of vampires).

c. Or I might return to the world of Whale Song and Dragon Rose, now that it seems like I've gained enough distance from the original messed up plots to pull them apart and reform them into something really good.

4. Admittedly, I would really like to skip #3 in favor of getting more than just four or five chapters done on No Leaf Clover. But that'll only happen if I'm in MN.

Clichés in Fantasy

I just remembered that Dragon Rose also had a talking cat, named Caabba, who, along with the help of the prince, helped my heroine realize her true destiny.

This has kind of got me thinking about why I stopped writing this book in the first place.

1. I had no plot for it. And what outline I had written, which I was certain would solve all of my story problems, was in some blue spiral-bound notebook that has since then disappeared. Of course, I tried writing a new outline, but it just didn't seem the same because it wasn't that outline.

2. It was about a 17 year old girl named Allokohottí (Alloko for short), who had no history prior to walking into the first scene of the book, which was a mock combat scene with the prince Doda. And for some reason, this lack of a background never bothered me, but there was no explanation for why she didn't have one.

3. Even though Doda was the prince, he couldn't stand politics, and would rather spend his time in the library reading history books. And then he found the book that would draw him into the plot. It was an unnamed book, but it talked about the true history of dragons, the birth of Dragon Rose, Dragon Lady (the woman who rescued her since she was a runt and most likely wouldn't have survived her first fight), Dragon Lord/Master (the human form of the dragon who trained her to be a good fighter), and the true identity of Dragon Lord/Master, who turned out to be one of the Keepers of the Old Ways and as such was forbidden to fall in love with Dragon Rose. This book also talked about the last days of the planet Dreyverzon and the secret history of how his people came to be on his own planet. So Doda sets off on this quest to help Alloko (whom he has a crush on) to realize her destiny.

4. As it turns out, Alloko is the reincarnation of Dragon Rose, cursed by Dragon Lord/Master all those years ago, all because he fell in love with a non-Royal dragon. Only, Doda discovers that Dragon Rose was in fact a Royal dragon, and the last remaining heir of the original dragon pair (so the only Royal alive).

5. There was something to do with the king being evil (which Doda was oblivious to), and some rebellion with the leader of some cult (because she liked the king, only he was unfaithful to his wife to be with her, and in the end went back to the queen). Yeah, I wasn't really sure where I was going with that.

6. Once Alloko and Doda and Caabba finally made it to the planet (as they realized that Dreyverzon is just one of its three moons), they only have a few days left if they want to break this curse. (It's an astronomical event that occurs once every couple hundred thousand years or something.)

7. When they finally break the curse, Alloko is transformed into her full dragon glory. And Kalidor's entrapped spirit breaks free to realize that the one he loved was really a Royal, and that he had only cursed himself for the last however long for not being able to be with his one true love.

8. Now, as a romantic at heart, and since I had subtitled this A Dragon's Love Story, I always wanted Alloko to be together with Kalidor (the Keeper). Only I felt that there would be a lot of feminist people saying, "Hey, that guy's a complete jerk. He curses her, doesn't do anything to try to make it right, and then she still agrees to be with him in the end, even though all that stuff happened in a past life." Which got me thinking (that, and when my husband read it, he said he always thought Alloko and Doda would be together) who should Alloko end up with?

Now, I think I could find satisfaction if Alloko ended up with Doda and left Kalidor to his misery (hey, he earned it). But at the time, I was so set on Alloko, after becoming Dragon Rose in all her Royal dragon glory, to just go with her dragon lover. And some how that didn't sit well with me.

But back to being cliché in fantasy. Aside from the plot reasons for why I stopped writing the book, there were also some cliché reasons for why I stopped writing, or at least what I felt was cliché with my story.

1. It was about dragons. Yeah, you can't have a story titled Dragon Rose: A Dragon's Love Story without it being about dragons. But I also thought dragons were really overdone at the time. At the same time, I hadn't read many dragon books because they just didn't interest me (either the author's writing style or the plot or something), which was why I started Dragon Rose in the first place.

2. (While I didn't think this at the time, I sort of think this now.) It also had a talking cat. Actually when I first wrote this story, I thought a talking cat was something new and original. Now it seems like everyone has a talking cat.

Though really, thinking back on all of this, I don't think these two things were nearly as cliché as I thought they were at the time. Yes, a lot of people write about dragons. Yes, a lot of people include talking cats in their stories. But that isn't enough to make the whole story cliché.

In a way, it makes me really upset with myself that I didn't stay with this story. Because looking at some of the other books out there, I see bits and pieces that tell me this story could have been popular. I mean, there are romance novels about dragon shapeshifters, and my dragons could shapeshift (well, only the Royals and the Keepers could). Plus, there seems to be a lot of people who like talking cats (though, there are also those who seem to hate them).

All I can really learn from this is to not stop working on Kitsu's story until I get it finished. Otherwise, in five years time, I'll feel the same way about Kitsu's story as I feel about Dragon Rose.

Novels and Anime and Manga

This one's cross-posted from the Absolute Write message board.

I think novels and manga and anime can mix, but before doing so, you have to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each form. I actually think of manga and anime as two separate forms, because while they are both more visual forms, anime has to show pretty much everything, while manga only captures the essence (by showing the picture that best represents the action, where as anime shows all the action).

The best example is Sailor Moon, mostly because of all the formats it can be found in (anime, manga, musical, live-action drama, and novelizations) In each episode of the anime, Sailor Moon and the other Sailor Scouts/Senshi have to fight the youma (or whatever the bad guy of the week happens to be). Each episode slowly advances the overall plot, but mostly it's about defeating the weekly bad guy. Then you get to the live-action drama (which is called Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon or PGSM), where most of the episodes are about defeating the weekly youma, but then as the story/plot advances, it moves away from fighting the youma to fighting the Four General who control the youma, to fighting Beryl and Metallia, Tuxedo Mask, and finally Princess Moon. But if you read the manga, there is no weekly youma to defeat. When Sailor Jupiter is first introduced, she wastes Nephrite the first chance she gets. (Note, however, that I have not seen the musicals nor have I read the novelizations. Yet.)

I have at least three stories that are heavily influenced by anime. The first was a magical girl story, much like Sailor Moon. I haven't wanted to unearth the novel since I wrote "the end", but I wrote a short story using the same characters and turned it in for a creative writing class. In it, my character had to fight an evil version of herself who was trying to take over her city (had it been set in Japan, she would have destroyed Tokyo, but she made do with destroying Red Wing, MN). And yeah, she and all the other characters used attack phrases, to which I got mixed results on. Some students in my class just didn't get it. One student said he thought the average American who does not watch anime wouldn't get it, and therefore I should take it out (when I never actually considered the average American to be my audience, since it was a YA novel about a 15 year old magical girl). Another student really liked that I used attack phrases because it reminded him of rpgs. And my teacher liked it because he tried to visualize what a "Shield of Lust, Bash!" looked like. Since then I've learned that a more or less direct translation of anime to novel doesn't work.

I have another magical girl story, only she's older (17), has some esper abilities, and uses a big sword to fight other supernaturals, including other espers, mages, mummies or "psychic vampires", constructs, demons, and shapeshifters (there're probably others, I just can't think of them at the moment.) I think she's more of a Devil Hunter Yoko kind of girl, but I don't know because I've never seen the anime (though it's on my list).

And the third story was inspired by watching a lot of the more boy/fighting anime (Bleach, Inuyasha, Naruto) where they would hint at a romantic relationship between two of the characters, but that's all they would do. So I developed a story around an Intragalactic Fighting Tournament that my heroine gets "invited" to. Every contestant gets a magical sword that they must fight with, but each sword has magical powers (that need an "attack phrase" to be activated). In addition to fighting all the other people in the tournament and learning about her own magical abilities (as well as those in her sword), she ends up falling in love.

I've probably rambled on quite a bit, but yeah, I think anime and novels can mix.

Also, I would check out SHOMI. Even though it's an "action romance" line, they're still striving to combine novels with romance, action, SF, and anime/manga. So at least someone in the publishing world thinks it can be done.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Early Works

In attempting to answer someone's question at the Den of Shadows, I started thinking about some of my earliest novels.

The second novel I wrote was a trilogy called Whale Song. (I wrote the novel over the course of three spiral bound notebooks and wrote "to be continued" at the end of each book.) Whale Song was about the alien world of Avvvingteesttia, and the Avvlings who came to Earth seeking help for their dying people. The main character was the eldest Avvling princess who, following in her mother's footsteps, came to Earth to request aid. Only when her mother came, she never returned. So along with looking for her two sisters, she also needed to look for her mother, but in the process of trying to save her people, she fell in love with a human boy.

It's actually kind of hard for me to make this story sound coherent since each notebook told it's own storyline, and then because I lost the first and third notebooks, but really wanted to try publishing the story, I tried delving into what the political life was like on Avvingteesttia with no queen, since it was a matriarchal society, and now that all the women of the ruling family where running around Earth, what was happening to their father? Some how in the process, I gave them an evil aunt who was a witch named Hexe. I don't know why, I just figured I needed a villain.

This is actually the most coherent this story has sounded, and thinking about it in these very simple terms (compared to the mess I made of the novel when trying to "fix" it), it makes me think that I could actually rework this story. The plotline would need some reworking since I only have part 2 of 3. And Hexe would be dropped.

Maybe like so many other writers, a part of me does actually want to see my "first" book in print.

The first book I wrote was called Running Water and started with the wonderful (note the sarcasm) opening line of "It was a dark and stormy night . . .". It was also my first attempt at writing a short story outside of school work, and it exploded into a novel. Yeah, Running Water has no chance of ever making it to my list of novels I want to go back to.

Though Running Water wasn't actually the first book I wrote. The first-fist book I wrote was in first grade, and I owe much of my writing to my first grade teacher, Ms Ann Hall, who helped me every step of the way, or at least when I had plot problems. And the second-first book that I wrote was called Lolo and Popo's Adventure, which I wrote in sixth grade. Originally I wanted to expand a short story I had written for the class into a book, but my teacher, Ms Nelson, encouraged me to write a new story. So I wrote one about sister chimpanzees who were trying to save their rain forest home, which just happened to be the Amazon because I didn't realize Africa had any rain forests, or that chimpanzees actually lived in Africa and not South America. Since then, I've learned to do research.

The third book I wrote was called Dragon Rose; A Dragon's Love story. It was only the prequel to Whale Song because they were set in the same world, though originally Dragon Rose was in it's own world. I decided to combine them to use shared world history. But Dragon Rose is set primarily in the ancient past plus some of the "modern day" of Dreyverzon. In a way, Dragon Rose explains Avvingteesttia's history, but I don't think that bit of history is important to modern day Avvingteesttia to be in Whale Song, especially since most of Whale Song takes place on Earth.

It was about the time that the Avvling princesses' mother had the spirit of a tiger and if they wanted to save their mother, they would have to save her tiger first that I realized I needed to figure out who these "animal people" were. While they still fascinate me, and I would like to give them center stage in a story, I haven't yet. Mostly, I became preoccupied with dragons and the legend and the curse, and how the history of Dreyverzon coincided with the history of Avvingteesttia. And then the story just puttered out. Though I have a friend who, every now and then, asks, How is that dragon story of yours coming along? To which I reply, You still remember that thing? And she says, Of course. I loved that story.

So maybe at some point when I want to take a break from the supernatural Realm of Shadows, I might get around to re-visiting the more fantastical world of dragons and shapeshifters, of legends and curses, and of the horrors of modern day science, and alien princesses falling in love with human boys. Theirs is a world that really is lighter and fluffier than the Shadows.

One thing that carries over between the two worlds is that they both have strong magic, not so friendly humans, and shapeshifters. Yes, I'll admit it, my dragons were actually shapeshifters, or at least the more powerful ones were (there were actually three types of dragons in that world - dragons, the Royals, and the Keepers of the Old Ways).

Angel Love, Demon Love Snippet

So over at the Den of Shadows message board, there's an Adding Depth thread in the Writer's Section. Usually I don't post there, but I've been procrastinating with Kitsu's story, while also really regretting not bringing my red Angel Love, Demon Love folder to Japan with me when I went home in January.

The location for this was supposed to be a castle, but I took a few liberties with the term, and used the Great Wall instead.

Anyway. Here's a small snippet from Angel Love, Demon Love.

Xander tried to force his head up, in an attempt to ease his suffering, but it only caused more pain. Giving up, his head flopped back down, a mere inch from the vast desert sands. He was just as his brother had left him, chained and bound upside down to a large barbed pentacle. Would the demon learn his lesson? Would he give up his rebellious ways and convert the angel Cortillya?

Not bloody likely.

He spun the large barbed pentacle around so he could gaze upon the Great City Wall one last time. Cartillya was still trapped within the City, awaiting whatever fate Abaddon deemed suitable for an Archangel's daughter. Xander dreamed of being the dashing knight of ancient legends and rushing in to rescue his princess from her prison as he passed out.