Thursday, March 26, 2015

Your Lie in April

Just finished watching Your Lie in April on Crunchyroll. What a beautiful anime. A complete tear jerker. While there were some cliches in it (the love triangle one in particular, going 2 different ways), it was refreshingly lovely and unexpected.

I know there's a manga for it as well but, for once, I don't think I'll be trying to find it to read it. That's my normal first move after watching an anime that I like. But in this case, it's all about the music and the color. I don't think it would work as well lying there statically on the page. The animation is what really made it.

I mean, as a writer, the story -- including the "surprise" lie reveal at the end, is good but it isn't groundbreaking. I can't say that I was really surprised at the end or at any point during the development of the story. BUT it was all just really well done and deftly handled. Very nicely done.

I realise that I'm saying contradictory things here -- that it was unexpected but not groundbreaking. I think I'm looking at it as a gestalt. All of it together came together to make something really beautiful.

I suppose, as a comparison, today I also removed some things off of my queue on Crunchyroll. One was Listen to Me Girls, I'm Your Father which went in an entirely different direction. Decent idea for a story and a good main character...but totally ruined by over sexualization of young girls. It was uncomfortable to watch. I quit a few episodes in. Potential but ruined by pandering. No, not even pandering...I'm not even sure how to describe it. I'm obviously not the target audience, though and quite frankly, I wouldn't really want to know anyone who considers that to be their thing.

Life is short. Best to keep it full of beauty.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Otaku-ness

I recently realised that I now know more Japanese than Chinese, which is really kind of sad. Not that I can speak Japanese, but I've watched so much anime now that I've picked up some words and phrases.

That's kinda pathetic.

I have really been on a binge though. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I haven't really read for "just" pleasure much in recent years. I'm usually reading for research purposes (even if a lot of that reading is fiction in whichever genre I'm working in). I definitely can't say any of the manga I've been devouring has anything at all to do with my writing, though I would actually love to see the Hildie book as a graphic novel (but it would be a very non-manga-isn one). And I've mostly been reading and/or watching lighter "slice of life" romance-y type of things. Definitely not what I'm writing right now.

That could be why the Death book has been on my mind, as it fits more into that mold, though not at all neatly (and no, spellcheck, I'm going to leave that spelled the US way and not go the UK route of "mould" because it's my blog and I CAN).

Meanwhile, my office really is a complete mess. I need to take a day or two and just completely demolish it and throw away a bunch of stuff and do some filing. Re-organize. Have had very little get up and go though.

Weird health issues popping up again, including high blood pressure, which I've never had, and other mystery ailments. I'm not sure if that's why I've been so tired or if it is something else entirely.

Also not sure why I'm sitting here blogging instead of trying to get some writing done. The Hildie book is killing me. I keep writing in things that I don't have in the outline and then having to work around it. I think the middle bit of this book is going to be a hot mess. Going to be?? No, is. Totally is. Also the slowest I've ever written. I've had some 1000 word days but also a fair amount under 500. It does make me wonder if I should just work on something else for awhile, but I KNOW that the middle bits are always my problem parts. I'm just not sure why this particular book is being so horribly hard to get out.

All the Chicago parts actually came out pretty quickly and flowed nicely. But now that I'm at the scenes in London, it's stuttering along with lots of false starts and baby steps. Horrible.
Anyway...enough. Things to do.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Slippery

Words have been slipping
through my fingers lately,
remaining unformed, a jumble of unrelated syllables,
hazy and indistinct,
just out of reach.

Misbehaving
and running away from me
while I try to pin them down
and bend them to my will
but they are stronger than I,
all those vowels and consonants
unmoved.

They don’t care that I need them to do something for me.
They only see themselves.
I am not reflected in them anymore; I cast no shadow.

You see, they don’t need me,
not like I need them.

They can go on, oblivious,
line, stroke, inflection, punctuation
because they are themselves, no matter what
while I am only
the sum of the parts

that don’t add up.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Yeah, so...Death

So here I am, writing on the book I'm not supposed to be. I started off working on Hildie like a good little author -- the book I really need to finish. But this scene still isn't going anywhere. I can't see it. I'm not going to call it writer's block because I don't really believe that exists. But whatever it is, it just isn't working right now. Not sure if it's the characters or the story isn't where it needs to be or what, but something is off.

So.

So I opened up Death's Door. It's death, you know, and romance too. First love and sadness, sweetness and loss. And some funny bits, because I can't ever write without that.

It's only at about 14,000 words but somehow it has been in my head lately, so there you go.

And damn it, I can see them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Time keeps slipping...

It's the boy's 7th birthday today. It's already the third month of the year. Am slowly making progress on the book, fewer words per day than I think I've ever had. Not a day over a 1000 in the last week. I'm not sure why this one is like pulling teeth. The early parts came out fairly smooth and fast but this bit is dribbling out in drabs. Painfully. The blood on the forehead type of writing.

I keep wondering if I need to just go back and work on the Death book for a while. Or anything else. But I also know I have to just get on with it.

And meanwhile, I've been devouring manga and anime. I've been in the mood for romance. Slice of life stuff. Things like that. Maybe that's part of my problem. I'm writing about offing people with wine openers and full on bloodshed but have been reading all these girly things. Not sure why.

That doesn't usually bother me though or affect my writing. I am, however, always my own worst enemy. There's a good chance I'm a bit afraid of finishing this book. I kind of want to kill it with fire at the same time that I want to place all my hopes in it. It's too much to put on one book.

It has made me realise, however, what it is that I like about writing YA. It's that first flush of new love -- you can't get that same feeling in an adult book because it's been there, done that. There's only one first love, first kiss, first everything. There's an intenseness in that first time for everything.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to that time, but only if I could be the me that I am now. Not that I've ever grown up. Does anyone? The older you get, the better you get at faking it. Faking knowing what you are doing. But I am more comfortable in my own skin now. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. Can't always do anything about them, but I know what they are. And I care less about what people think of me. I'm happy when I'm alone, watching people. I don't need people like I used to. I don't derive my own worth through my connections anymore.

I suppose that's good and bad.

My brain is wandering all over the place today like a cloud blown this way and that by the North wind. I was going to write down a list of the manga I've been reading to keep track of it, but I've already wasted too much time.

And spent more words in the last 10 minutes writing this than I've written on the damn book. Seriously, what is with this one?? I like Hildie. I just can't seem to see these few characters that need to carry me through the next chapters. Why? What's with them? I can't see them. They are hazy, hiding in the shadows.

Maybe I need to go back and read from the beginning. Get back in the flow.

Maybe I need to write something else for a day or two.

Maybe I need to bust out some poetry and really go all maudlin.

Gotta do something. Because this isn't working right now.

It could also be that I'm tired, so desperately tired. Haven't been sleeping enough. And it's all my own fault. Well, mostly. Some of it is the hubby's fault and the fact that he has to sleep on his back right now since he broke his collarbone and is snoring like some kind of super lumberjack. But mostly it's me.

Like I said, I am my own worst enemy.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I need music

I'm not sure how to end the chapter I'm working on. It wasn't in my original outline but I think it needs to be there. I'd made it too easy on the characters and they were getting out of town without any really trouble. They need to be on the run. But now my main character is having a bit of a crisis and I'm not sure what she will do. Kill? Not kill? Run? No, she'd never run. But I'm not really sure.

Anyway. In other news, since this is for me. I'm down 4 pounds. Lots to go, but it is a start. Have been blow drying my hair so that it actually looks like I've done something to it on purpose. Putting some makeup on. And I realise now that it's a bit odd to be writing about this as if it is earth shattering. I guess it's just because it's been so long since I really bothered. That's the bad thing about being a writer and working at home. No reason to push yourself.

But anyway, got my eyebrows done yesterday.

They look better but O what tortuous things we do to ourselves. I mean, seriously. And why can't anyone in London properly do waxing? They all want to do the threading thing and even if you get your eyebrows waxed, they still want to finish up with the damnable thread that makes me want to scream. Actually, it doesn't make me want to scream. It makes me want to stick a chopstick in someone's eye.

First world problem. Yeah.

Went to a bar by myself last night, at least for a little while. Had to get a babysitter for Max and had to get a three hour block minimum but only needed about an hour of that. So with all that time to kill I figured I'd check out Portobello at night and hit the Mau Mau as I've been thinking about using it for a scene in the book (possibly). After all, it's got this vaguely dodgy air about it and live music. It's a good spot, actually, though it was really weird that their drinks menu had things like cosmopolitans and sex on the beach on it. It's just not that kind of bar. It should be beer and whiskey. But they also have no idea what bourbon is.

New girl, long wavy red hair, so young she makes my teeth hurt, bartending...

Me: Do you have bourbon?
Her: What?
Me: (slower) Bourbon?
Her: Um, I don't know what that is. I'm new. Let me ask. (pulls over the cooler, edgier looking Asian dude with his hair pulled back with a headband and asks.
Him: Sure, yeah, yeah. (points to a bottle of Jack Daniels)
Me: I'll have a gin and tonic, please.

You can't screw up a gin and tonic. It's safe.

At any rate, stage in the back, curtains framing it on either side (which hide the loos...gents on the right, ladies on the left). Dark interior. Christmas lights above the bar. Lights hanging down in those metal cages. A couple of leather couches in the back. Small stools and tables against the side. Some seats at the bar itself, which is rare in London. That's kind of an American style bar thing. Pubs here don't often have that.

Two guys chatted me up a bit, both black, one from Granada. One obviously a bit flirty. I'm not sure what it is, but about the only guys who ever flirt with me are black. Is that weird? I'm fairly equally friendly to everyone and while I don't flirt exactly (obviously -- and I've got my ring on anyway), I'll talk with anyone. I want to know their stories (the guy from Granada lives in Shepherd's Bush and was in the neighbourhood after going to a funeral yesterday, but don't be sad as it was someone old and it's okay, man, everything's all right, but wouldn't jazz be nice after a day like that?...but he wasn't the flirty one, the other one was...or, at least, he might have originally intended to be flirty, but he early on worked in a question about whether or not I had a husband "doesn't your husband drive?" when we were talking about not getting out of London...). Not that people flirt with me very often in general. I am, after all, officially old. I've hit another bracket on surveys now.

I have two silver hairs. Right in the middle. On top. I'd actually rather it was a few more. If it's going to go, then go big. Don't be so half-assed about it. Give me a silver streak.

Yes. The older I get the less I care about some things. Which brings me around to the music. That's all I really want, to walk around the city with the music in my ears. My own soundtrack. Kick ass. Repeat.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Moving On

I really love walking around the city. I love the sound of my footsteps on the pavement, which I can just hear over whatever music I'm playing on my iPhone. Headphones in, beat of the music, beat of boot heels, keeping time, swoosh of the cars going by, wind that goes whipping around building corners, blowing my hair in my eyes, strands stuck to my lipstick. It's a beautiful thing.

I love the people watching. So many strangers. Actually, that's it. I love strangers. Each one is a story, an unopened book that I'll never get to read. I can take a guess from the cover what the story is about, but it will always be a mystery.

Have been trying to wear more makeup. Have still been watching too much anime and reading too much manga. I know me, this is my manic assimilation phase where I dive in and can't help myself. Even though I know I should. The worst thing about being a fast reader is that I think, oh, it won't be that much longer...I can finish...and then it's 1 AM and I'm dead the next day. As they say, I'm too old for this shit.

I'm still finding myself surprised at how good and how varied a lot of the anime/manga is. I should know better. People make fun of YA books, the whole "oh but when are you going to write a real book" but there's some amazing YA out there. And all anime/manga aren't just totally full of boobs. And some of them have some real depth.

Of course, there's also the ones where I watch about 10 minutes and go AGH I NEED TO BLEACH MY EYEBALLS AND MY BRAIN THIS IS SO STUPID I JUST GOT STUPIDER WATCHING THIS.

But some of them are really beautiful. Just started one this morning called Chihayafuru (which I have no idea what that means, other than I think it's the main characters name + something). Very sweetly animated. Slice of life kind of thing.

And I also have my sappy romantic side. Enjoyed Ouran High School Host Club. Maid Sama. Anyway. Enough about that.

Time to get back to work.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Blow out the candles

It's my birthday today.

I am 42.

That is the same age that Douglas Adams died. It is the answer to everything--life, the universe, whatever. I wonder if every writer ponders that when they hit 42 or if it is just me.

I feel old and fat and ugly and tired and worn out.

Trying to get that out of the way so I can get on with the rest of my day and put a happy face on. I don't feel happy. I'm not sure what's up with me today -- maybe it's just birthday crap. They don't usually bother me. Maybe my hormones are out of control. I don't know. I kind of hate my body, because it does that kind of stuff to me, even with the insert that's supposed to help control the levels. Some days I am still just out of balance. This is one of those days.

I don't really want to be around anyone today, but it's Saturday so it is a family day. So, really, I need to snap on out of this.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Obsessive compulsiveness

I know me. Once I start something--a book, a series of shows, a game, etc. -- I want to finish it. I want to know. I want to know what happens at the end. I want to see how it gets there. I want to examine it's entrails and know it all from the inside out. To worry at the fleshy bits and pick apart the bones.

This may be why I'm a writer. I obsess. I obsess about characters. In the book I'm working on now, I know exactly how old everyone is. I have a spreadsheet. I have generations in there, generations of characters that will probably only get a one line (if any) mention in the book at all. Because once I start down a path, I need to follow it.

That said, I'm a bit of a compulsive, random researcher. And I can leave some avenues unexplored if my mind says, hey, no, this isn't important at all. But the things that I might find unimportant aren't necessarily the things someone else would.

I used to despair a bit about how what I see in the world doesn't always seem to match up with what other people see. How the conclusions I draw aren't the ones that other people come to. Bits of that poem by E.A. Poe used to run through my head. From childhood's hour I have not been as others were, I have not seen as others saw...

I'm not very fussed about that anymore. The older I get, the less I care. I know me. I'm not good at people, not on the inside. I add that qualifier because I dare you to find anyone that knows me that would think that. I'm pretty good at faking it...for awhile, at least. This may be why I'm not one of those people who is all BFF with someone. Instead, I collect people. I like to meet people. I like to find out about them.

None of which is any of what I was planning on talking about today. But, like the paragraphs I used to bang out on my typewriter George when I was a teenager, I am nothing if not completely random.

I've watched two more anime series (again, with the MUST. FINISH. ALL. THE. EPISODES. NOW. thing which is, frankly, havoc on productivity). Tried out My Little Monster which had some moments that I really enjoyed but, as a whole gestalt-y type of thing, fell short. That might just be the anime though...the manga goes on for longer and covers more, so maybe it fixes all of the shortcomings. It is, after all, akin to book vs. movie.

The problem was that the characters didn't change much from the first episode to the last. They were essentially in the same place they started. There were ups and downs along the way, but knowing what the end run was and seeing where they were, it's impossible to see how they would get there. But, enjoyable nonetheless with some really good moments. Haru, the boy, was particularly insane and Shizuku impressively deadpan.

Then there's my favourite so far (very surprisingly): Wolf Girl and The Black Prince. I am, honestly, amazed at how much I liked this one because the basic premise is so incredibly overdone and over-used: fake boyfriend to real boyfriend. Not to mention that Kyoya (the guy) was so completely horribly horrendously despicable in the first few episodes. Maybe that was why I kept watching. How, I wondered, can they possibly redeem him after this kind of a start?

But they managed to pull it off. Or, rather, the writer did, whoever he or she is. And the later episodes in particular, when he's turned that corner, had just some incredible moments and spectacularly perfect little lines.

Like when he's been trying all day long to tell her he loves her (because it is her birthday and he overheard her say that's what she wants even though she doesn't actually expect it because everyone knows he doesn't do stuff like that) and he's trying and trying to get it out but can't quite do it -- there's a moment when she's been yammering away about nothing and then stops to ask him what's wrong. Just shut up and keep talking, he says. And that's perfect. Because it's exactly right.

One other excellent line from when another guy is trying to convince him to "be a player" and showing off his cell phone full of 500 phone numbers of different girls. Kyoya shuts him down with It doesn't matter how much trash you pick up. You've just got a pile of trash. Which, okay, isn't that flattering to all of those girls, but the point was quality over quantity. Anyway, still surprised at how much I liked this one and how many great moments it had. I might even have to find the manga for it since I know there are more scenes in it than in the show.

Anyway, tomorrow maybe an update on the current book. It's progressing. I'm happier than I've been about it in a long time. And that's good. Working on creating some of my own perfect little moments.

Monday, January 19, 2015

In which I don't have much to say but say it anyway



It's Monday. I don't particularly dread them any more. In fact, they are kind of nice. Max is back at school. Tony is back at work. I like a bit of alone time. Of course, I spend a chunk of that time going out to meet some writer friends to work (which is what I'm doing now), but it's still "me" time. I'm working at getting organised again. Not so scattered. Lists. To-do's.

Last week I finished re-outlining this book. I should have done it months ago, but I kept putting it off. Kept second guessing whether or not this was the book I should be working on. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but it doesn't matter. Gotta work on something. And I think I've finally worked out all the issues I was having. I was making things too complicated. Taking it back a step and also trying to punch up the timeframe -- don't give the characters time to stop and think. Keep it going and keep them on their toes.

Or, you know, something like that. Keep me on my toes, right?

I did break down and buy the A4 suspension files I needed even though I hadn't meant to spend the money yet. It's because I'm a bit of a sucker. Sort of. I was in the local art store. Nice people. I thought he might have a few folders I could buy to hold me over, though it's a small place and there wasn't a huge chance he'd have them, but I always try to shop local (except when it's impossible).

They'll always order stuff in for me and the wife always asks after Max. So he found an ancient box of them under a cabinet. Box of 50, gathering dust for probably the last 3 or 4 years or ten years. They are more of an art store than office supply store by far. And once he found them, I had to buy them. So I've got a box of 50 now. The old ones, from back when they were still manufactured in Britain and not in China, like they are now. The price was actually decent because they always try to give me a good price and less than I'd have spent on the same thing at Ryman's or some other big chain. But so much for my waiting until next month and the next paycheque.

That's kind of me, in a nutshell.

In other unrelated to anything news, have been watching some anime and have determined that I'm really quite a sap. I sort of knew that, but I guess my life has been missing some romance or something. All the shows we've been watching have been crime or drama or whatever...stuff good for research for the book and things that also appeal to Tony. More than my fair share of guns and psychopaths and intrigue.

So there I am watching an anime called Say I Love You (which was surprisingly good) targeted toward teen / pre-teen girls. Have to say it was more realistic in a lot of ways than I would have expected and I am a teensy bit obsessed with Yamato, but then I've always been a sucker for tall guys. Even cartoon ones. So sweet but with serious issues tackled as well. It was kind of refreshing. And I liked that Mei (the girl) wasn't a total pushover, though sometimes I also wanted her to open up. But that was the point, so the story worked. It has some issues and some things I would have written differently, but overall, quite pleased with it.

Perhaps ashamed to admit that I totally binge-watched all the episodes in one night while waiting for Tony to come home from an after-work happy hour. Dead the next day. I'm too old to stay up so late anymore...at least, so long as Max gets up so early.

Also watched Sword Art Online and am also slightly enamoured with Kirito...though that story has some HUGE issues. As a writer, I am both fascinated and repelled by it. So much potential but then idiotic stuff thrown in. Maybe it's the format and expectations of the teenage male audience. I dunno. But it's got so much gratuitous boobage that it's really annoying. A veritable (not plot moving) harem of buxom beauties including HIS SISTER (which isn't exactly his sister, but really his cousin who was brought up thinking she was his sister and she's in LOVE with him for NO GOOD REASON in the plot). And making a damsel in distress out of a really strong female character. It annoys me but at the same time I am looking forward to the next instalment. Because there's a part of me that will ignore all the problematic story issues to soak my seldom-used-hormones in the teenage-y romance-y aspect.

That's one of the things that I like about writing YA vs. adult. There's something different about first love -- first experiences with love and sex and all the gooey angst that comes with all of that. There's nothing so intense as those first forays into love. By the time you are an adult, the edges have faded. So maybe the next book I finish after this one will be that YA about Death's son. It's a romance, after all.

But now, to work. I've wasted enough time doing my random blog brain dump.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Half gone

How is it that the first month of the year is already half gone? How did that happen? Time keeps slipping away from me (and now, great, I'll have that song stuck in my head ALL DAY). I've got to grab on to it before this whole year gets away from me like last year did. Yes, there was a lot going on last year which I'm not going to recap now because FUTURE, people, the FUTURE, need to look ahead...but I can't let it all get away from me again.

This week has definitely been slipping through my fingers. It's an excuse, but it's partly because I've been sick off and on and off and on since before Christmas. I'm tired of the cough. Tired of the phlegm. Even tired of the word "phlegm" -- I mean, yuck. It's a disgusting word. But it's also that I've been feeling for a long while like a turtle that just wants to retreat into its shell. Or maybe like a groundhog gone underground. I don't know. Like I want to hide.

I've also stayed home this week because I'm feeling really broke. Between Christmas and sending money every month to the family and Tony's new train ticket expenses and me not making any money in eons, I'm feeling strapped. Don't even want to fork out the money for a pricey latte. Been drinking Nescafe. Which, okay, I usually keep around for emergencies, but it's not something I'd choose on a normal basis.

Anyway. I'm digressing. Which is what I do. I need to get organised (as a side note, GAH, I still hate British spellings of things...they don't look right). I did get a filing cabinet as a birthday present to myself. Need to buy another pack of hanging files (British: suspension files) but am going to wait until after the next paycheque (US: paycheck) for Tony before I splurge on those. Would it be weird to ask for office supplies for my birthday?

Because it is, indeed, my birthday this month wherein I will be 42. Which is the answer to everything (though, sadly, also the year that Douglas Adams died during, which is just wrong, really...).

I did have a long sleepless bit last night where I was thinking about an idea for a series of kid's books using some of the half-completed ideas I've already got. Not sure if I should waste my time on those or not as my agent won't handle them. They are cute though. But maybe it's just a distraction.

I did also recently lob an idea at an author friend of mine for a joint project. We'll see if anything comes of it. It was really just the bare kernel of an idea, not anything fully formed or anything like that. A nugget. A little tiny nugget of nutcaseness.

I'm going to try and blog here once a day, just for myself. And today I need to do laundry, do some grocery shopping, do more laundry, and get my to-do list digitised and organised. (Progress! I typed that with the "s" the first time!)

Tomorrow will be meeting with my writing group and working on the book I need to finish this year. First step is going back to the outline and finishing it and no more of the half-assed do-nothingness I've been doing for the last year. I know this about me. I know it. I know if I don't have a real outline that it never gets done. But there were reasons, I know. I know. But no more excuses and no more burying my head in the sand.

What I really need is a deadline.