Archive for October, 2008

Goodbye, dear Bailey

My parents had to put their dog Bailey (and my dog too…) to sleep 😦 She was nine years old. I remember getting her as a 6 month old puppy at the pound when I was a freshman in high school.

The last time I saw her was on Labor Day….

Not sure what killed her exactly–she’s been having issues the past few weeks (even when I went up last month) with her left side and coordination. They think it might have been some sort of spinal abscess or tumor.

Mom called crying .She said Bailey was howling…and in the nine years we’ve had her, I never heard her howl. I guess I just feel really horrible for my mom….she’s been through so much the past six months, what with Grandma’s stroke and caring for her and visiting her daily at the nursing home, to Bailey getting sick so suddenly and dying like this….

I can’t lie; I’m pretty much a basket case right now 😦 I think it’s the combination of never seeing her again and the pain my mom’s going through….and the fact that my sister’s at school four hours away, wishing that she could be at home around family.

Phil and I were going up to see them this weekend; I was so looking forward to seeing Bailey. Now I won’t see her again…:( I really wish I could’ve been there, at least to help my parents…Sorry for such a depressing post but I had to get it out.


Bailey at age 7.

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It started with my MC Kaiyo. I always thought I understood her–her personality, nuances, motivation, etc. I thought I knew her and what made her tick, so to speak.

I found out I was wrong.

Though I didn’t actually work on any of my writing this weekend (surprise, surprise…), she accosted me. Kaiyo kept shadowing me the entire weekend, being persistent (as she is known for…), telling me more about herself than I’d ever imagined. She’s a lot more complex than I’d originally thought! She practically screamed at me when I was listening to Natalie Grant’s song I Will Not Be Moved  saying this was HER song; this was the cry of her heart. I never understood her completely until I heard it and now there’s a new understanding I have of her and her story.

Now that she’s thoroughly satisfied that I understand her completely, it seems she’s rallied all of the other characters, for now they are coming forward and letting me know that I need to examine them more. 😛

I’m especially surprised by Ryuji, who still tends to be on the mysterious side, but since Kaiyo’s little dare, he’s found himself slightly more emboldened to let me know how I’ve characterized him wrong too 😛 It seems that there’s a slightly darker past that he has that he never let me see before now. I never really knew how much pain he was really in and how brave he was. I’m understanding why he keeps his distance from people now.

And then there’s Iesada, Kaiyo’s estranged father…he too is very secretive and not really certain if I’m to be trusted with his story; however, I’ve discovered an entire backstory of his that he’s let be revealed through other characters…but with his permission of course. He likes to  be difficult with me, but it’s understandable–his rank as oyabun in the yakuza makes him this way.

And I can’t forget the antagonist, Kaemon (as much as I want to!). I know I tend to avoid him, because he’s so intimidating, but I can’t any longer. I’m afraid to see the true depth of his darkness, for I know he enjoys causing others pain and gets some sick joy out of it. I don’t really want to examine his character, but I know that I’m going to have to if I want to tell the story the way it ought to be. (I can hear him already laughing about what I’m going to discover….)

 I’m spending a great deal of time daydreaming and not being quite here in this world as their world and their lives come to the forefront. And of course, as a writer, I am obliged to sit and listen, for it would be a great injustice to ignore them (even though I don’t think I could if I tried!).

I know a great deal of writers are accosted by their characters at odd times and I’m sure that anyone who has characters and stories can understand this 🙂 Even though this entry does make me sound a bit on the crazy side!

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Here’s something I found on Pterodaustro Dreams‘ blog, a survey/meme thing that I found interesting. Feel free to use it for your own blog 🙂 It is a meme 🙂

Do you write fiction or non-fiction? Or both?
Strictly fiction. I only did non-fiction when I had to do research papers in college.

Do you keep a journal or a writing notebook?
I suppose I have this one, but then I have a little notebook I carry with me should any ideas creep into my head while I’m at work, church, the supermarket, etc.

If you write fiction, do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing?
I know the gist of their goals and conflicts before I write but then it often evolves as the characters decide to grow and change and pretty much take lives of their own. I try to keep up with it, but sometimes it just comes out when I’m writing a chapter.

Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?
I think I’m a procrastinator most of the time. I say I’m gonna do it; I dream about doing it; yet the book is still unfinished. Perhaps it’s because I realize the depth of the story that needs to be told and it’s a bit frightening; perhaps it’s also the research factor that I know will consume my soul at some point. Either way I know I need to STOP being the procrastinator and just get with it already, otherwise I’ll just be another writer who longs to have the story told but then never does it.

Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time?
Generally it’s short bursts. I have a hard time writing for more than two hours at a time–and most of the time that’s when I’m out at a write-in for NaNo or forcing myself to work on the laptop of mine that doesn’t have Internet access. If I have distractions like Internet, I get sidetracked….perhaps a bit of ADD there. 😛

Are you a morning or afternoon writer?
Afternoon/evening. I have work (as most of us probably do) and while there are some slow times I can do things, I generally can’t concentrate enough there, so I do it when I get home.

Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate?
I must have some sort of music playing. It’s too hard for me to “get in the mood” of the story without it. And the music generally has to be some sort of movie soundtrack, classical, or on my “novel playlist” meaning it’s a song I think represents a character/theme of the story. During NaNo I often work with others at a cafe for a write-in, but then I need my music to help me along. My thoughts don’t form or flow without it (another reason I have a hard time at work writing if there’s time).

Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)
Computer. I wouldn’t be able to read my handwriting; I can type words faster. Writing longhand would require hours of trying to decipher the scribbles 😛 I used to write longhand back when I was working on my first novel at the age of twelve or so (before computers really became big) but my handwriting was also neater for some strange reason 😛

Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One? Or do you let the story evolve as you write?
I have the gist of the ending but nothing definite. It’s changed and evolved as I’ve added different things. Actually, I’m kind of struggling now with how exactly I’m ending it–the last few chapters are up in the air. I suppose that’s one thing that I’ll see what happens as I get closer to that point.

Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?
Not really. I mean, how many other books are out there involving the yakuza and a half-American/half Japanese young woman? None that I know of 😛 I only ever write historical pieces too, so if for some reason historical fiction becomes obsolete in the next five years, I suppose I’m at a loss! 😛

Editing/Revision – love it or hate it?
Not really sure…sometimes I like it, because it makes the story better, other times I get frustrated by it. But it’s necessary and I know it’s what will make my book marketable, so I’m leaning towards liking it.

Thanks again to Pterodaustro Dreams for posting this!

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Throughout the past week, I’ve been revamping and changing my outline for CHRYSANTHEMUM PROMISE.  I’ve added more chapters to the beginning to better identify the close relationship between my MC Kaiyo and her mother; I’ve taken out a few characters and one sidestory that I thought would draw attention away from the main one; and I’ve added another character.

I’m figuring I probably should actually work on outlining what I’m actually writing for NaNo instead of the changes, but that pesky inner editor of mine wasn’t letting me 😛 So, the goal this weekend and the coming week is to get through most of the outline–at least to Part III.

I know I won’t follow this exactly–I always change something along the way as I’m actually writing–but at least it’s there to give me an idea of what will happen next. While I’m generally not an organized person, when I’m writing I have to be, at least somewhat. I cannot understand how writers can go without outlines–I’d be going all over the place. Perhaps they feel that an outline stifles the creativity. But each has their own style that works for them. Mine is the basic ever-changing outline.

If you’re writing for NaNo–or just writing a book at all–are you outlining it? Or do you work better without one?

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I’ve discovered very early on that it’s incredibly challenging researching for a novel that takes place in a culture and in a place completely different from your own.

Since my book in set in Japan in the mid-Meiji era (1890), it’s posing to be a challenge. For one, as an American and “westerner” I’m not experienced in the Eastern culture, so I really have to immerse myself in books, videos and other sorts of research to put myself there and not make any major cultural gaffes.

And then there’s the language barrier…I don’t exactly speak Japanese (although I’m hoping to learn at some point). I know a few words and phrases; I know how people are addressed (-san, -chan, -sama, etc.). Still it’s difficult creating what I would think is semi-accurate dialogue.

And of course, it’s really hard setting my book in a real town that’s basically remained unchanged since that time and can only rely on pictures online and descriptions of it to put it in my book. Unfortunately, with limited income, I can’t really afford a two-week trip to Northern Japan to do the really great research I’m dying to do.

Oh and I can’t forget the whole aspect of involving the yakuza in my book. Finding detailed information on this has been frustrating at best. I’m thinking it has something to do with the fact that it’s still a bit of a taboo talking about this vast and incredibly complex “underworld.” I have found a few books and some information on the Web out there but not enough detail for the time period I’m needing. Most of the information comes from part of the Taisho period (1912-1926) and then a great deal during the Showa period (1926-1989). Mine takes place in 1890…I know it existed then–they’ve been around since the Edo period. And I also know it probably vaguely resembled the modern yakuza. All I can ever find for my time period is a page or two at most of info…

I’m not giving up though. I just have to find another way to go about it. And I will not sacrifice historical and cultural accuracy–books like that make me extremely annoyed as a reader; I do not want to put my readers in the same boat.

I suppose this is part of the fun of being an aspiring novelist!

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A couple posts ago, I mentioned how there were certain songs and soundtracks I liked to listen to when working on Chrysanthemum Promise. And then I finally noticed I could actually post music on here 😛

Anyway, here’s what I consider the “theme” for my novel. Sort of. It’s called Nara by E.S. Posthumus. I can picture it all in my head like a preview for an upcoming movie. (Perhaps because it’s been used in movie previews…)

It’s YouTube videos with the songs; I couldn’t link to the actual songs anywhere.

The other theme song would be “Rebirthing” by Skillet–for me, all the characters (not counting the antagonist) are looking for some sort of a new life and this song captures that feeling.

Perhaps when I can actually find just the song files, I’ll load the rest of the “soundtrack” 😛

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I have been asking myself this question since I graduated college: What made me pursue a BA in English?

For starters, it was the closest thing that represented what I was interested in. I tried journalism, but of course the school I went to decided to  make it mostly graphic design focused, and I’m NOT artsy enough for that…and then senior year they changed it. Go figure. I was three years too old. So I majored in English.

History was another consideration of mine, since my passion for it is about as equal as my passion for writing. But I realized that a history degree would only really be useful for teaching or else going and getting a Master’s which wasn’t something I wanted.

Now I’m discovering that pretty much is the same for English.

I can’t seem to find a job relavent to my degree–at least not in Dayton, Ohio…I know, not the greatest area, but I’m kinda stuck here. Hubby has a good job and he’s advancing quickly. Unfortunately this area is pretty much only good for technology related jobs…something I didn’t go to school for and have no interest in.

I went six full months with nothing but temp work…then I was able to fall into a job as an admin assistant (glorified term for secretary) in real estate. While I’m thankful for this job, I’m also finding myself growing increasingly depressed about it. Mainly because it’s not anywhere near related to any thing I’m interested in, and also, it’s a job I could’ve done right out of high school. It makes me feel as if I flushed 80K down the toilet. Don’t get me wrong–I really do like the agents; they’re very nice (most of the time, but that’s like any job) and I have a great boss. But it’s not my passion and it feels like I’m stagnating.

I have been working on my book more and more and I’m hoping that’s my saving grace…because right now there’s really not many options here, unless I were to pursue a Master’s and try for a library science degree (which I feel would probably also lead me no where, and then I’d be stuck with even more college debt).

Sorry for such a downer post; I suppose I’ve had plenty of time to think about it…

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