Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Beginnings

Finished (hopefully) the edits on the first chapter. Sent off two different options for the opening and the modifications for the rest. Reasonably happy with both openings. I think they work better than before. It all still feels a bit rushed for me from how it was before, but I can understand why the editor wanted to move the action-y bit forwards. It was too much backstory, even if it was lovely backstory. :)

Still so tired today. I'm not sure why, but I feel like a wrung out dishrag. I want to take a hot bath and then hibernate. Maybe some of that is because life has felt like an endless series of small and large potential disastery-ness for the last two years. But some of it is working itself out now and some semblance of normality has been achieved and my brain is trying to catch up to that.

Or maybe it's just the weather. Who knows.

Epic Fantasy World Selfie
I did take a little time out to watch two episodes of In Another World with My Smartphone because I had to catch up to where the little dude was. He's so happy to have a show that we can watch together! Me too. Even though this one is very very very similar to a lot of other shows.

There's KonoSuba, which I do enjoy, though I feel old and guilty when I watch it because there's entirely too much boobage -- which is why I don't let Max watch it even though the humour in that show is right up his alley. It's a pity. And even Sword Art Online -- though this one is not nearly so heavy as that (no one ever dies in In Another World)...though they look to have made a conscious effort to make the main character look a lot like Kirito, down to wearing a long, flowing jacket (but it's white to Kirito's black, which is fitting as this character is as pure as the driven snow practically).

And another one that we are also watching: Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody...which totally wins for most awkward title. That one has almost exactly the same premise but there it's an older game developer who wakes up inside the game he was working on. The main characters even almost look the same, though Death March isn't as comic. As that season is still ongoing, we haven't gotten as far, so hopefully it stays tame enough and doesn't steer into ecchi territory. The main character is just as overpowered as the one in In Another World... And he looks nearly the same...dammit, they all look like Kirito. C'mon, people. Enough with Kirito.

Oh, look...another harem.
Anyway, back to In Another World...it's one of the rather tired storylines where the young protagonist dies due to some mistake. In this case, God accidentally struck him with lightning and felt guilty. So he's been resurrected on another world -- a fantasy, magic kind of realm. The one thing he asked to bring with him was his smartphone, which God has kitted out for him so that it maps his new world, etc. God has also basically powered him up so that he's the most powerful magic user EVER in the history of this world and made him well-nigh impossible to kill.

Good thing this character is so nice. Otherwise he could have taken over the world. Instead he just wanders around saving people and kingdoms and collecting a harem of girls who adore him and all want to marry him (but are at least strong and capable in their own right). Polygamy is the norm in this world, apparently, though the King and Duke only appear to have one wife each. Hmm. Anyway, it's ridiculous. Nothing bad ever happens. They win every fight. Nothing comes close to hurting them. I don't think he's ever even gotten a bruise. He defeats a dragon and is like, oh, yeah, that was easy. If someone does get mortally wounded, the hero just saves them with his healing ability (including the King, which is how the Princess decided she wanted to marry him). At least it is always the girls chasing him and him thinking, whoa, I'm too young for this. And the chasing, so far has been very tame (they played paper, rock, scissors to see who got to hold his head in her lap when he was sleeping).

So, in other words, an absolutely rubbish story as far as what a normal story is supposed to include. No conflict. No danger. All happiness and light.

But it's perfect to watch with Max. It's like his ultimate wish fulfilment anime and for once it doesn't have a non-ending stream of absolutely ridiculous ecchi elements (I'm looking at you, KonoSuba). There are a couple of things that are right on the edge of what I'm comfortable with him seeing, but nothing too horrible. They actually wear clothes that cover them up. Basically, it's fun. He loves it. I love it because he loves it. Hopefully we can find some more shows to watch together.

EDIT: The last couple of episodes had some slightly dodgy bits. Not so bad as Sword Art Online or KonoSuba or anything or even some of the movies we watch (we let him watch some 12's) but both of us giving it the side-eye. We talked about it and I think it's good that little dude knows to think about what he sees and evaluate things. He's started on My Hero Academia now, which seems very promising (mostly a battling kind of thing, nothing dodgy).

Winter blues

It is cold today and damp -- in other words, very English. Kind of fitting as yesterday we had our citizenship ceremony and we are officially Brits now. We went out to dinner to celebrate. Really glad to have that done now. It's a relief that the process is finally over. We're here to stay.

But today I am cold and I am tired and I don't want to work on the revisions on this book (I've gotten to that spot you always reach at some point in the process where you hate the sight of it). I will, though. Hoping to get through the bulk of the remaining two chapters today. I think it will just be a bit of a slow start. Maybe I just need to get the fireplace going first and make a nice coffee and warm myself up both literally and metaphorically.

I should probably start getting out of the house to meet up with my fellow writer peeps again. The weather is just so crap that I barely want to stir out of the house.

And I really feel more like writing something else. But, this first. So. Later.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Backstage Pass

So I bought Backstage Pass for myself for my birthday. It's the first proper otome game I've purchased (meaning, on my laptop vs. being a mobile game...which are generally F2P). It's a bit of a stat raising one, which is interesting but also a tiny bit annoying as I think it would be nearly impossible to play without walkthroughs unless you played it over and over and over again to figure out the things you're supposed to do (which stats go with which player, how to unlock locations, who likes which movie or cupcake or whatever and what gifts to buy people). I certainly don't have time for that. Maybe when I was in college and would sit and play Civ for hours and hours...yeah. Not at that time in my life anymore. Casual gamer now.

Possibly the reason that I bought this game is that this
is one of the images on the store page and some guy
wrote the comment "OMG I think I just turned gay"
which I thought was hilarious.
Though the picture...geez, Matthew.
That said, it's pretty fun. The main character is a girl named Sian who is a college student but with excellent makeup artist skills due to her mother being a professional makeup artist. She thinks she's in for a relaxing time during her first year of college but after a family crisis, realises she needs to step it up and work, not just study. Her close childhood friend Adam (trope alert!!) is also attending the same school and happens to be a budding pop star. Through him and through her skills she meets a number of people: John (actor/Adam's manager--which makes no sense, why would he be managing Adam??--who's got a horrible fake English accent...probably good enough if you're American but I live in England and it makes me cringe every time he speaks...consequently, dunno if I can ever do his routes...), Lloyd (a producer/director type), Matthew (a super shy but super hot model), Alvin (a TA at the school), Benito (a very random addition as he's only 15 and is a street magician), Nicole (Matthew's sister who is pretending to be his girlfriend at the start because he's so painfully shy around people), and I think there might be another one or two. Adam, John, Matthew, Lloyd and Benito are the main ones though. Am I kind of weirded out that two of them are really too old for her and one is too young? Yeah, a bit.

That's probably why I was most interested in trying out the Adam and Matthew routes and probably Alvin at some point in the future. The Adam romance route was actually quite sweet. I liked it. They seemed like a good match and very compatible and I didn't even mind the stereotypical childhood friend thing. Though, weirdly, perhaps, I liked the Matthew one more. I don't normally like super model-y types (especially blondes) but he was really, really sweet and shy. As the MC is also prone to panic attacks when she is in a crowded situation, it was nice to see them helping each other along. And elf Matthew at the Ren Faire! Ha!

You can also play it as just a stat raising kind of challenge and not even attempt to go for romance or friendship. The standard scenes are a bit repetitive though so I'm not sure how many times I will play it through. Maybe something I will just pick up every now and then casually. Still, it's a nice solid game and quite sweet. I like the main character as she's both strong and weak in believable ways and is a nice person.

Only big complaints would be that you never get any of her internal thoughts so it can actually feel like the romance comes out of left field when it does happen (especially Matthew's as opposed to Adam's as the Matthew one really doesn't happen until the very, very end while with Adam you at least become his girlfriend halfway through the year). Also that the dates you have to go on are incredibly repetitive. And the art wavers between really quite good to pretty sketchy (especially weirdly angled profile shots). But overall I think it's a keeper.

And, you know, Matthew's ridiculous abs and hair.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Little things

I'm really enjoying blogging again. It's been so long since I've written for just the pure pleasure and randomness of writing, rather than writing for work. Writing with a goal. This is all writing for no purpose other than the words and remembering and keeping my brain busy.

Not that the two books I've written in the last two years weren't fun. They have been, actually. The whole middle grade fantasy thing is really fun. Compared to when I was trying to write the adult crime fiction, this is easy peasy lemon squeezy as little dude would say. It's not effortless or anything...I mean, it is still my job. But it's enjoyable and it's not like pulling teeth.

That said, even though I like revision and editing in general, I'm finding this go around with the publisher and my agent to be tiring. I've never been asked to do so many little fiddly changes BEFORE having a contract before. Maybe it's a UK vs. US market thing. I don't know. But I'm finding it a bit challenging. Not so much what the changes are but why I'm being asked to do them now. It's frustrating. Feeling like they don't really believe in it. I've got another round to go now because the agent asked for some more tweaks (some taking **out** the tweaks he had me make last time). I feel a bit rushed as it took so long to hear back from him and now I'm wondering if the publisher is thinking that it's me that is taking so long to respond when I've been sitting here waiting and twiddling my thumbs.

Well, que sera sera I suppose. There's not much I can do about it other than keep plugging along.

After this (hopefully) last round, I can get back to making the revisions on the other MG manuscript. And then..I'm really quite itchy to get onto that YA romance that's maybe about a quarter done. Doing that little fan fiction piece actually made me want to get back to that. I really like those characters and I want to get back into their world. Gray and Evie. I was looking at it not that long ago and I found a bit I'd even forgotten writing and it was one of those little serendipitous pieces that just made me happy (even though it was kind of a sad bit). And I'm kind of feeling the need to write something romantic. I've been a big sop lately.

Still feel like I am aimlessly being thrown around by life, but am trying to ignore that and keep plodding on.

(I realise that all the latest posts make it seem like I'm doing nothing but otome visual novel thingies but I have actually been getting a lot of work done. Some of this is stuff I'm writing up from before and now that I've remembered I have a place to put this stuff, I'm catching up. Am I making excuses to myself? Yes, kind of. But I know I'll also look at this in a few years and be all WTF was I doing? and want to remember that, yeah, actually, it's not quite so bad as it looks. It's more that I'm going off the deep end blogging than anything else. Seriously. It's so nice to be writing for no reason again.)

Knock, knock...

Oh, Mystic Messenger, you and your fourth wall. You make me laugh. You also kinda make me want to cry.

Sigh.

Tangled Up

I should have something clever to say, but I don't.
Er...I'm kind of ashamed of myself that I haven't deleted this app. Not because it's NSFW or anything like that (it's pretty tame) but because it's really kind of lame. Actually, I know exactly why I haven't deleted it.

It's easy.

What I mean is that even though it's your standard ticketed otome-style app, the grinding part of it is super simple. You have to bake things in a cafe. Why? Who knows. It doesn't make any sense. Not much in this app does, to be honest. But it's super easy. You pick a dish and then pop in later and do it again. It also gives you enough diamonds through daily logins and gacha stuff that you don't really need to buy anything to progress, though the free tickets do refill really slowly. It takes very little time commitment. Maybe ten minutes a day? Fifteen?

Because, let's face it, I'm not keeping it because the story lines are particular good. They kinda suck.

Let's step back and start from the beginning though.

The main character is a scientist / researcher working at a Zoo. I named her Robin Darwin. So far so good. She sounds like she should be smart and motivated, right? She moves to a new city and somehow winds up living in the same place as a whole plethora of uber successful hot guys with jobs ranging from actor to clothing designer to figure skater to...well, you get the idea. The guys (in the app) are all paired up all ready for a good old fashioned love triangle. I first tried the Olympic swimmer and whoever he was paired up with and only got about 3 chapters in and went meh. BORING. Then I tried the brothers Gray (bartender/wannabe director and his little brother, the actor). Finished their route and wound up with the blonde one even though his surprised face looked like his eyeballs were constantly popping out of his head in a very disturbing way (and he's surprised WAY too often).

Problems? Yes. For an intelligent woman, she's pretty damn stupid. And the further I got in it, the more I didn't care about either of the guys. One feels manipulative and scheming. The other is childish and jealous. Things move both too quickly and not fast enough. And apparently all it takes for the MC to fall in love is somebody paying the slightest bit of attention to her. The romance really isn't believable to me at all. She's got no agency, man.

But I kept the app because it was something to read in-between waiting for MM chats and each ticketed episode is actually quite short, so very quick reads (too short, if you were looking forward to it). Anyway, started a new route, this one with the ridiculously flirty fashion designer who calls you stupid names (Miss Fairy?? Really?) and the petulant loudmouth ice skater that is his childhood friend and is constantly making angry faces to show how angsty he is. And once again, I'm somewhere around chapter 5 or 6 and feeling like they are both stupid as anything and so is she. Even the stuff with her job is frustrating -- she's supposed to be this amazing researcher but it's the guys she works with (who are also romance-able) that actually seem to make the breakthroughs.

But I still haven't deleted it. Because it's easy.

That's kinda sad.

EDIT: Was checking it this morning and realised one of the things that annoys me. Nearly half of the MC's dialogue boils down to her saying/thinking the character's name. There were about 10 screens in the last episode I read this morning and literally three of them were her going:

   Lumiere...

And that was it (And, yeah, he's got a stupid name. It's hard to take him seriously between that and the Miss Fairy business.). What is he, a French lightbulb? A candlestick?

Which makes me think, in a roundabout way of the anime KonoSuba where every time someone says "Kazuma" (the main character's name), he's all deadpan: "Yes, I'm Kazuma." or "Kazuma here." or something similar. And how there it's really funny and cracks me up and this, on the other hand, just makes me groan. BECAUSE IT IS POINTLESS with the repetition of it. I realise that dialogue is actually what I'm known for in my writing. It's my thing. And this -- this is absolute shit dialogue. Once, maybe twice you could get away with this. But with as many times as they use it? It's just lazy.

EDIT 2: So, thought I would update this. I did finish the Lumiere/Yangze route. I really wanted to smack Lumiere and the MC but he was a modicum better than Yangze and at least he had cool clothes.



Then...and this is where Love Tangle really made me mad...they announced a new event for the launch of a new character named Ike. There were all these bonuses AND he was paired up with a character that I'd thought would be interesting (Moses--another researcher type), so I tried it. And, for the first time, one of the characters felt actually interesting and not annoying -- spoiler...it wasn't Ike. Ike is super annoying. Alpha male, weird avatar (dark/tan skin with silver hair?), and he calls the MC "little bunny" FFS. Absolutely loathed him. But Moses was lovely! And every choice I just picked the one that felt right and they were all for Moses. Finally, I thought, a decent route!

Ha.

But then...I get to the decision point where you have to pick one of them. And...you can ONLY pick Ike. Moses isn't released yet. I somehow missed the "Coming Soon" on his avatar when I started the route (maybe because I started it via an Ike pop up). GROAN. There was no way I was going to play through for Ike even for the event bonuses. Really, really don't like him.

So I started over. Again. This time I'm working on Andrea & Henrik.


Mischievous guy apparently translates to opportunistic manipulator with the face of an angel and "confident and assertive" as low-key asshole with control issues. Seriously, this MC is terrible. She just goes along with whatever all the time. "Be my fake girlfriend (provide no explanation)" ... "Okay..."

I keep asking myself why I don't delete this one. And I keep coming back to the fact that it's easy. And now I'm kind of waiting on them to release Moses. And maybe it's that I'm hopeful. I keep thinking, hey, maybe this one won't be so bad...

EDIT 3: Yeah, so I finished the Andrea/Henrik one. I picked Andrea as he seemed at least normal annoying and not otherworldly annoying. And...well...all I can say is that I finished it and my opinion of the MC has, if anything, gone down again. I didn't even bother trying to get the "good" ending and went for the normal one.

So Moses still isn't released. I thought I'd go on to try Carter (the domineering bodyguard? retainer? of the Prince i.e. Henrik aka annoying amnesia boy that didn't actually seem to have amnesia once all was said and done) and Oliver (a "top" model friend of Joy's).

Carter, while attractive, is a raging ass. Oliver, on the other hand, is super sweet and kawaii. Almost too cute, to be fair. He's got pink hair. But I'm nearing the decision point and it really seems like the game is trying to push you towards Carter. Why? Why? Even when she's in the scenes with Oli, she's having nice thoughts about the horrible dude who's constantly belittling her and is just out and out mean. What's wrong with the writers of this app? Do they only like assholes? What horrible traumas have they had in their lives? Would it kill them to give the MC even half a brain and to actually recognise when people are mean to her? She's kind and forgiving to the point that it's ridiculous. And she nearly got kidnapped and the story kind of skipped right over that to have her go shopping...

OH. But here I am late in Chapter 3 and there's a little out of the MC's viewpoint scene with Oli and I swear to god I think they are trying to make him into another manipulative schemer opportunistic scumbag! FFS what is wrong with these people! What kind of choice is that?

Maybe I'll just quit this one and try the childhood friend vet vs. the taciturn scientist route. Though knowing this stupid app, they'll probably ruin the childhood friend somehow (he's been nice and supportive in all the other character's routes).

Edit Whatever: So. I looked it up on YouTube. Oli is a FUCKING SPY.

Stick a fork in me.

EDIT 4: I continued on with Carter, even though he was one of those never-crack-a-smile bossy types. BUT! I didn't actually finish his route because...They launched Moses! And were having a big event! So I switched. Buh-bye, Carter!

Yeah.

So, now I'm nearing the end of Moses' route and they've managed to piss me off again. I still like Moses for the most part but there's really nothing romantic about his route. They just work together. Really. When she starts thinking about him romantically, you're like...why? There's no indication of anything AT ALL romantic. So it feels out of nowhere. And then, instead, you get Timo (another romanceable guy in a different route who also works with her) suddenly being sweet and asking for her help and...TIMO confesses. WHUT? I didn't expect that. She's in love with Moses (but with no hints of romantic feelings happening between them at all other than they've spent time in the same room) and another man confesses he loves her. I thought, ok, sorry, Timo, I suppose you're just there to make Moses step up his game...but...er, no. Moses easily figures out what's going on and STILL there's really no indication from him that he's even interested in the slightest. He just blathers on about how he respects her as a researcher.

Basically, I'm disappointed as the only thing Moses' route has made me want to do is try out the Timo/Paul one. I'll finish it, though. It's like I've got to, somehow. Why, I don't know.

EDIT 5: So...I finished the Moses route and, you know what? EFF YOU Developers! You even managed to pretty much ruin Moses. Once they are together (and you have no idea why, since they went from oh yay we're humble colleagues and we respect each other so much to sleeping together without even really declaring they have an actual relationship...are they dating? Just Netflix & Chill? WHUT?), Moses starts teasing her in this kind of low-key asshole-ish kind of way. She's all, no, don't do that and he's all, oh, but I like it and so you must too... Jerk. Okay, he's not full on asshole, but between the romance seemingly coming out of nowhere and then this, BLEH.

At this point, I think I haven't deleted this app because it gives me something easy to complain about because it ALWAYS DISAPPOINTS ME. There'll be a glimmer of hope and then POOF! Gone.

Sigh.

But I decided I was curious about Timo since he was actually the more reasonable love interest in Moses' route so I picked the Paul (childhood friend) vs. Timo (stern researcher) route for next. Instead of deleting the stupid app. Glutton for punishment? Yes, I guess so. I have deleted lots of other Shall We Date? apps but those all had the Princess Lesson stuff + the decorate your garden or whatever mechanics whereas this one, still, is the easiest to get stuff in. So, yeah, here I am again.

Just how do you pronounce Timo's last name, anyway? Every time I see it,
I think salmonella. Which isn't a good thing. Also, does he have another eye?
I'd gotten a bunch of story tickets from endings of other routes and it was some special 3X boosting thing for whatever thing the collecting thing is to win prizes (flowers? marbles? hellspawn? I dunno.) so I used them and powered through the first few chapters. And dammit, I think they may very well ruin Paul, Mr. Childhood Friend, for me too. He's been so nice in the other routes but in this one he immediately declares at his welcome party to Lilac Court (the place they all conveniently live) that the MC is his fiancé. Without having actually asked her. Without, in fact, having seen her in three years. She soon finds out he's actually gone so far as to ask her dad for her hand in marriage without having talked to her first. That sir, is a dick move. He's Mr. Confidence. And apparently this confidence stems from some promise they made each other when they were little kids that the MC doesn't even remember?

This is supposed to be romantic? He even goes full on kabe-don on her AT WORK.

Okay, Timo, you taciturn scientist you, you're looking better and better.

Except, somehow, the answers I have picked so far (which seemed reasonable -- insisting that no, you weren't engaged, etc. and the professional responses at your job vs. bringing up personal stuff like how someone insisting you're engaged when you haven't even seen them in years is a bit much) somehow point to Paul? How does that make sense? I swear these developers/writers just want to screw with the readers. They're holed up in the dark somewhere, snickering.

Edit 6: So, weirdly, while we were on holiday visiting family, I decided that I did like Timo (and he was probably gonna be my best bet for a satisfying story in this convoluted soppy mess that Love Tangle is) and wanted to be able to use the gems/diamonds whatever they were to unlock his extra bits as I read. Huh. That sounds kinda dirty. I mean the good graphics. Heh. Still sounds kinda dirty. You know what I mean. BUT, while I'm willing to spend some money on Ninja Shadow, I can't bear to give them any for this app. I know that doesn't make sense. It's the same company. It's just me. So I actually stopped playing his route so I could go play some other routes and earn the ending gems/diamonds/whatever. That's probably a little crazy. I'm a little crazy. It's okay. We're all crazy here.

So I'm playing through Ryan now, the other Gray brother (did Cody's route originally). I'd thought he was going to be my chosen LI the first time around but he'd seemed kinda sketchy so I'd wound up with Cody instead. I'm on Chapter 8 now and it's actually better than I thought it would be. People keep warning you about him but mostly he just seems like he's the kind of guy who can't admit to his feelings. So not as douche-y as I thought he'd be. So it's going okay. I'll do a few others before I do Timo's again as I'm at 81 doohickeys and I'll probably need close to 200. Maybe I'll find a few other pleasant surprises. Who knows. I don't have a lot of hope.

Edit 7: Finished Ryan and it's actually probably the best route I've done so far in Love Tangle (still holding out hope for Timo to come through for me). All of the hints of "ooooh, he's tricky, don't trust him" amounted to absolutely zilch. He was reasonable. Attentive. Pretty romantic. Not pushy. Straightforward once he admitted his feelings. So I dunno what the fuss was.

So now I'm continuing on with just racking up some gems.

So, if you complete both guys in a love triangle, you get a bonus image like this
one. Weirdly, she's wearing the same outfit in a lot of them. So I guess she only
wears a ruffled shirt and denim shorts when she's in a threesome. It's kinda odd.

And I thought, oh, hey, Ryan turned out to be a good surprise. So why don't I try out the route I ditched around the beginning? This one is with Miguel, a gold medalist swimmer (pinkish hair), and Nolan (blueish hair), a high powered attorney. Nolan has popped up a number of times in other routes and he's generally always a bit of an ass but will help you out in the end after making sure you understand he's a bit put-upon and you'll owe him later. Miguel has appeared too, but not as much, and seems to be more or less generically nice and the resident beefcake. There's also a bit of weirdness where the sprite for Nolan has this weird off-balance head issue where the right side of his head sticks out more than his left, no matter the perspective. Can't see it so much in this picture, but definitely in other ones. It bugs me. So I'm guessing that I'll probably wind up with Miguel between those two things (niceness & weird head). We'll see. I'm going to avoid any walkthroughs up to the decision point.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

What would Yumi Do?


You and me both, Jumin.
So...I have come to a decision about young master Yoosung because I just had the most cringeworthy chat with him and Jumin. Seriously. Both Jumin and I wanted to get out of there (yes, I know that Jumin isn't actually a real person and neither is Yoosung). Jumin was flustered. I was embarrassed...for myself and for him.

I was following the walkthrough because I generally hate to get a bad ending in one of these things. After all, I'm playing mostly to escape the bad bits in real life, right? So why try for a bad end? I don't want to get blown up. I don't want to die lonely. I want some sparkle and romance in my life. I'd like to actually feel, you know, needed.

It wasn't too hard with Zen's route because most of the time I would have picked the "right" answer anyway (though there were some cringeworthy choices there too). But with Yoosung. OMG. He's a little too needy.

So I was thinking, hey, maybe I won't do the walkthrough with Yoosung after all. I'm not very invested, not like I was in the story with Zen. Zen is sweet. Yoosung is kinda painful. Maybe I'll let it go organically.

It might just be that I'm too old for Yoosung. Wait, no...yeah, I am entirely too old for Yoosung. Absolutely. Positively. No question about it.

OMG Jumin, I am so so sorry.
But then...I still don't entirely want to get a really horrible ending. So I was thinking...what would Yumi do? (It was Lirael that romanced Zen...I had to change the avatar and the name to tackle Yoosung otherwise it would feel really weird.). What if I came up with a character for her and then let her make the decisions? Because if I answer them as myself I am destined for a bad end for sure.

So...Yumi. Let's say she's 21 and recently graduated from university. She can't be too old otherwise it's just a little too Mrs. Robinson. She was at loose ends...her parents had lined up a job for her but it wasn't anything she wanted to do in particular and it isn't supposed to start for another 3 months. Then the RFA fell into her lap and she thought she would ride it out and see what happened. She had nothing to lose. She majored in...er...I dunno...public relations. Perhaps the job was something at an advertising firm of a family friend. Not exactly what she'd pictured but nothing to sneeze at either.

She had a boyfriend her first year of university but it wasn't anything serious. She's never been in love. As a person, she wants to be needed. She's a bit bemused by all of these guys. She's never been shy, but she's never been particularly forward either. She knows what it is like to be aimless. She finds Zen attractive but a bit much. She's too low key to go for someone famous. Too much of a hassle. But she doesn't mind flirting with him a bit because, hey, he's pretty darn cute. At least until she gets serious about Yoosung (if she does). Jumin feels old to her and too rich. He's hard to relate to, but that also makes her want to tease him just the tiniest bit.

She doesn't entirely trust 707 or V because, honestly, she's smart enough to think that the entire situation is just bizarre and they seem the most knowledgeable about what's up. She does think 707 is funny though and wouldn't mind joking with him more.


This is Yumi. Felt kind of right. Not perfect.
She doesn't understand Jaehee at all. She thinks Jaehee is a stick. She doesn't know why she puts up with Jumin's demands. Why doesn't she tease him? Say no? Is any job worth sucking up like she does? Yumi doesn't think so.

Now...Yoosung. She's got to find him a bit attractive (cringe). I think in the beginning she finds it really flattering how quickly he gloms onto her. No one has ever been so instantly attracted to her before. She's pretty, but not a beauty. Her slightly snarky wit probably didn't help with romance. Or maybe because she just never really tried before. She always thought there would be time to get serious about things. She's still young and she knows it.

So that's the idea. We'll see what Yumi does. It's day 5 and she's at the point where she's having a bit of fun and wants to encourage Yoosung. She is slightly weirded out about his fascination with Rika though.

I wonder if she'll make it to a good end or not? I really don't know. She's got a better chance than I do though.

EDIT: I thought I would update this as I go so I don't forget.

Even Yumi had a hard time
not calling Yoosung a puppy here.
End of Day 5: Yoosung called Yumi and confessed that he's starting to feel jealous when he sees her talking to other RFA members. Or, at least, that's what he thinks. He's never been jealous before. Yumi is flattered but also a little leery. They've never even met in person. He's never even seen her picture...though that actually makes it a little more romantic to her. She's pretty sure he'd find her attractive if he saw her but it's kind of cool that he seems to be falling for her even though he's never even seen her. That boyfriend back in college? He cheated on her with some girl in one of his chemistry classes and then had the nerve to make a joke about how they had "chemistry" together. She's never felt like she's had chemistry with someone before.

Day 6... Yumi guessed Yoosung was studying Medicine, more because she knew he would probably read through the chat later than actually thinking that's what he's doing. She's finding his phone calls sweet but a little strange. He keeps hinting at things that sound so at odd with how she thinks he is. Does he even know what he's saying?

(Who knew Yoosung would be so freaky deaky)

Day 7... Okay...I've got to add to Yumi's backstory. Because, quite frankly, Zen is making a lot more sense than Yoosung -- Yoosung keeps saying "Oh! Yumi, you're just like Rika! But I know you're a different person, really! But you're just like her! You probably look like her too, don't you?" and Zen is being nice and all "Er, I think Yoosung has you a bit confused with Rika and I'm worried he's going to go have a meltdown when he figures out you aren't actually her and you're going to get hurt..." And I know I'm partial to Zen anyway, so I've got to have a reason for Yumi to not be running screaming from Yoosung. Because I would be. Boy has some baggage to unpack, yo.

So...let's say that previous boyfriend was epic hella attractive like Zen. So she doesn't totally trust really good looking guys. The more flirty he gets, the less she actually trusts him, though she's attempting to be nice because she knows this about herself and realises somewhere inside that he's being pretty reasonable. And she's stubborn. She doesn't like to be told what to do. The more people want to push, the more she can't help but push away. Also why she stuck around the RFA instead of just saying "Buh-bye!"

Beginning Day 8... Okay, so Yumi was feeling fairly decent last night (and has, apparently, made it past the break point). Yoosung seems to have finally figured out she isn't Rika reincarnated after some advice from Jumin and Jaehee (she suspects he couldn't take the advice from Zen because, well, it's Zen). Things were going okay, he's being sweet and not too creepy because, okay, you can be a bit masochist but when you keep working it into the conversation it is...off-putting). And she thought Drunk Jaehee was really quite comic but endearing so she's liking Jaehee more now too.

Then, you know, the bomb scare. And, inside at least, she's a bit WTF is wrong with everyone in the RFA? They freak but then they get sidetracked and meanwhile she's sitting on a literal bomb. She was on the phone with Yoosung and he's all Oh no, what will we do, I feel so helpless, there's a bomb under my beloved OMG and then he flips out...because of a cockroach. And Jumin is ethereally calm. And Jaehee calls her to talk about how she wanders the building in search of something to eat. And Zen thinks he might have a stalker. At least 707 is working on it but the fact that he lives on Honey Buddha Chips and Dr. Pepper and probably doesn't sleep is a little concerning. But, yeah, okay Yoosung, go have a good day at school! She's trying to remain calm. Luckily she'd stocked up on food a few days before (how come no one else has even asked if she has food? It's not like she can call for delivery or leave...) She figures she needs to just stay calm. Maybe not as calm as Jumin, but calm. She keeps telling herself they all mean well but people deal with stress in different ways.

Day 9...Yumi is keeping as busy as she can. Even though Seven says the bomb is now "safe" she's still a bit meh about that. She's worried about Yoosung. She thinks it was good he finally talked to V but now he's being mysterious and what's he doing with Jumin? And she's worried about 707. Has he slept at all? People make mistakes when they don't sleep or eat. At least Jaehee and Zen are somewhere safe. (She has, by the way, apparently made it though the last break point successfully). There's actually not enough to do with the party to keep her busy and she's still not supposed to go anywhere. She's going a bit stir crazy and jumping at any noises. She wishes Seven would at least fix the app so she could message people directly instead of having to wait for them to message her first. She feels like it is the calm before the storm but she doesn't know what kind of storm it is going to be and that is the scariest part.

Day 10...Yumi is effing tired because there were all these ridiculous chats and calls in the middle of the night where nothing really got said. She's both proud and worried about Yoosung. She didn't expect him to want to go with Seven. A week ago she couldn't have imagined that's what he would do. She's exhausted (yeah, I wound up taking a few of the chats as I was up because little dude had a nightmare). She's worried about Yoosung. He's called a few times or she's called him but he won't tell her anything of substance. Just that things will be okay. Zen is freaking out too, which is not helping her state of mind. And the party is tomorrow. They are supposed to meet. Will they be able to? She has a bad feeling, but maybe it's the lack of sleep.

(The game branched again but I won't find out until noonish whether or not Yumi is headed toward the good end or not. I need more coffee. And a nap.)

Last day...The one weird thing about MM (okay, there's a lot weird, but let's just talk about this ONE weird thing) is when you get to the end and you've got the visual novel bits inserted, it's actually not stuff that the main character would know. So, you, as the player obviously know that something bad has happened to Yoosung. Pretty sure he's lost an eye or something (don't know what exactly as I tried not to look up spoilers). But technically, Yumi doesn't know that. As far as she knows, other than 707 being really weirdly un-glib and Yoosung sounding extra tired, everything is fine. So it's a little strange to be picking the chat answers when you're not supposed to know all that you know, you know? (Sorry, couldn't resist)

Is this the good end for Yoosung? Where he's together with Yumi and has been all brave and manly or what not but he's, like, half blind? If so, that really sucks for poor Yoosung. I mean, what the hell are the bad ends like then? Or am I on a bad end? Not sure. Could be, I suppose, since I didn't check. I'll know for sure in half an hour when it's time for the party. Well, may Yumi and Yoosung live together happily ever after. Will update one last time when it is over.

I'm not going to say anything more about this...
because I shouldn't. Sorry, Yoosung.
After the Party...well, Yumi and I did manage to get the good ending after all. Yoosung leaves the hospital all bandaged up and comes to the party to declare his love in front of everyone. He did indeed get hurt -- damage in his left eye. They share a kiss.

In the After Ending you find out they get married and 4 years later he's about to get surgery on his eye to fix it. He's a vet.

I'm such a bad person. There was this bit (see photo) while Yoosung is confessing and says I'll give you my heart and there was something about that coupled with the bandages around his head that made me immediately think of the bit in Preacher where the guy cuts out his heart to show his mother and holds it out to her in front of all her shocked nursing home friends...and then promptly dies in a spectacularly bloody mess. I'm just evil. Sorry, Yoosung. It's my brain. I can't help it.

I read through the other possible Yoosung endings, since now I can't spoil myself. There's a lot of potentially blowing yourself up in Yoosung's route. I still feel kind of bad for him. Even his good end is only kind of good. Did he have to get hurt to prove to himself that he was enough?

Anyway, to give some closure to Yumi...

After the party, Yumi does take the job her parents had found her. She supports Yoosung as he finishes up school and cares for him when he is down about his eyesight. She moves up in the company, putting her organisation skills to work. She continues to help host the parties for the RFA. She and Yoosung get married. I'm sure they'll have 2 kids because that's statistically the most likely thing for these two to do. They are going to have very normal, kind of boring lives, but they'll always have a smile for each other. They'll go on hot springs trips for vacations and giggle too much. Someday, they'll take their kids on a safari trip to Kenya and that will be the most exciting thing they ever do.

So, whew. Made it through Yoosung's route. I feel slightly more kindly towards him, but this still wasn't my favourite by any stretch. I'm too old and twisted.

Compartmentalising

Lovely Zen with the stars
I finished the Zen route in Mystic Messenger, which has left me feeling strangely bereft. Maybe it's because of the voice acting and the format of the app, but it is far more affecting than the normal otome apps. Of course, maybe it's because this app also sometimes comes knocking on the fourth wall a little slyly, like Cheritz thinks you won't notice or you'll think it's funny, but really it makes me a bit sad. It's a bittersweet thing.

Maybe we are all robots spouting our lines. God knows I feel like that sometimes.

I loved the image of Zen on his rooftop among the stars the best out of all of images because there is something wistful about it and vulnerable. Maybe because I am also feeling that way right now. I liked that the character, on first glance, seems absolutely brimming with confidence and narcissism but inside he's a bit of a mess and just wants love and acceptance. He's lonely and driven and has been wandering the wilds alone for too long.

I am, of course, reading too much into this game.

At any rate, I started the Yoosung route after and am on day 5 now. Weirdly, I don't always complete more than one route in a game but MM is interesting enough that I thought, yes, I'll do it. But...to be honest...it's feeling very strange. Maybe especially because it is Yoosung. The recommended order is Zen > Yoosung > Jaehee > Jumin > Seven...though I know I'll never do Jaehee because I can't stand her, no matter how well meaning she's supposed to be. Yoosung is the youngest. He's a puppy and cute and blonde (so SO not me) and you have to kind of act as this combination mother/girlfriend figure and it's a fine line (a line, apparently, that if you go too much in one direction and you'll wind up with some crazy yandere ending). And after Zen, I'm kind of ... meh. It's not the same feeling. Flustered Yoosung feels like a kid that you need to give some guidance to. Flustered Zen was just adorable and you want to hug him.

But I'll finish it to get a bit more of the story and then go on to Jumin and Seven, but inside, I think I'm always going to feel like the Zen route was the true one (even if, apparently, it's supposed to be Seven). Because I love that little lost man-boy among the stars.

And this is something I found on Deviantart by Complexwish (the others in this series are great too, especially Jumin with the wine) and I love it because I can totally see it happening. It's very Zen, down to the cooling down in front of the fridge and doing math problems in his head. Heh. I can't believe I actually let myself indulge in writing some fan fiction.


Friday, January 26, 2018

The Red String of Fate

That's Luke on the left and Valerie in the middle.
And Aaron, who reminds me of some anime dude
that I never liked that probably waves a
sword around randomly and goes charging off
in random directions for no reason.
I tried a free otome visual novel game thing on Steam called The Red String of Fate. I didn't go in with super high expectations so I was pleasantly surprised. There are only two romantic interests (Luke and Aaron) and I personally found Aaron completely lacklustre in both personality (he's a puppy) and looks (weird spiky blonde hair) and Luke is a lit major (so sue me, I was one too)...so I went the Byronic tortured poet route.

Basically, Valerie (and Luke, you soon discover) can see the red strings of fate that bind soul mates together. However, they've never had their own strings (and Aaron, weirdly, has a frayed string, which usually seems to mean your soul mate is dead? I dunno, since I didn't play through his route). Valerie is working herself to the bone at university and working four jobs because she wants to save up enough money to travel the world. She believes that the fact she's got a mostly non-existent red string is because her soul mate must be on the other side of the world.

Luke, on the other hand, has some past issues and he professes to not really believe in romantic love. Oh, famous last words, O Otome Hero.

At any rate, they hang out together and grow closer and closer (even with some meddling from Aaron). It's pretty straightforward and I didn't at all use a walkthrough for once but I got the romantic ending with Luke pretty easily (though, hey, I guess I could have missed some things, I dunno). I liked that the choices made sense for the characters and that the relationship seemed to develop naturally. I liked their banter. I liked that they had intelligent conversations (about Auden! And Austen! And Shakespeare!). So, yeah, actually, this one was really quite lovely.

That said, I don't think I'll be playing it through again as I still have no interest in Aaron at all and I don't really want to go back and try and be friends with Luke nor do I want to try for any bad ends. There's only four possible ends based on the Steam Achievements anyway.

That's more me than the game, though.

The art was fairly good and possibly there is someone out there that just lurves blonde puppy boys, but that someone isn't me. I would recommend it, though. It was quick as well, just a couple of hours to get all the way through. They have another game out now that I might check out as well, though it sounds a bit more involved and not quite so satisfyingly romantic.

This is one where the story would actually make a pretty good book. I like the idea of the red strings of fate. It's pretty predictable though, which makes me want to turn it on its head. Which is how most of my books start.

Zen the Night

(Some Mystic Messenger Zen fan fiction, which I never do, but it was a prompt and a challenge from violets_will on reddit and a palate cleanser after reading a particularly horrible, horrible piece that involved dripping. Seriously. I haven't written fan fiction since I was about fifteen. Not posting this anywhere else as it probably wouldn't be good to have ff attached to my real name ;-) 

This assumes the party was in January…)

*****

It had been just a little over three weeks since the party. Three weeks since everything had changed. Four weeks, really, if you counted that strange, almost dream-like time spent living in Rika’s old apartment, surrounded by dust and the mementos of a dead girl MC had never met. A month. So much had happened in that time.

And, at the same time, so little. MC shook her head as she looked at the note Zen had left behind. Crazy, sweet Zen. It was Valentine’s Day but he had a full schedule and had left before she had even woken up. A rehearsal, lunch with the director, a model shoot, dinner with a producer. I’m so sorry, Babe, he’d written. I couldn’t get out of it. I’ll make it up to you later. I’ll be home by ten. Promise.

Did he even realise it was Valentine’s Day? He must have. If there was one thing that was certain about Zen, it was that he was a romantic and a gentleman.

Sometimes, too much of a gentleman. Maybe that was Jumin’s fault. He and Zen were on increasingly good terms now and Zen was listening to his advice like he never had before. And Jumin…that rat. She shook her head again as she flipped through the last few chats in the messenger. I am opposed to living together before marriage. He somehow managed to work that into the conversation every single time they chatted. Every single damn time. Even Jaehee had told him to give it a rest.

But maybe that was why Zen was holding something back. They had kissed, yes, meltingly hot kisses that made MC weak in the knees and drove all thought out of her head. And he would hug her, sometimes without any warning, coming up from behind and wrapping her in warmth and the smell of him. Was she the only one that knew that the intoxicating scent of him didn’t come from cologne? It was just Zen, all Zen.

And at the end of every day, he would kiss her good night and go back to his room to sleep and she, she would go off to the guest room—she didn’t want to call it her room, because that made it feel permanent, like she was relegated there forever— and stare at the wall, picturing him on the other side of it in his bed.

Well. It was Valentine’s Day and she was going to do something about it. Jumin be damned. They were living together but if they were ever going to get closer, something had to happen and what better day to have it happen on? Hopefully cupid was on her side.

She went shopping and came back with everything she needed. The afternoon was spent baking homemade chocolates (they were embarrassingly lopsided, but she hoped it was the thought that counted) and the evening pulling apart dozens of roses and setting up candles. She sprinkled the petals from the front door to his bedroom, all the way to the bed, a velvety red and pink path…to happiness, she hoped. Was it too much? Too cheesy? Maybe too stereotypical? At half past nine she slowly lit the candles and turned off all the lights. She’d bought one for every day that they had known each other, not that she expected him to notice, but it pleased her nonetheless.

And for the final touch, she changed into the most important thing. The filmiest, flimsiest, sheerest thing she had ever worn in her entire life and settled herself on his bed, that bed that smelled so much like him that it made her heart beat faster just to be there, and waited.

++++++++++

Zen put his key in the lock, juggling an armload full of flowers. He’d started with one bouquet of lilies but then there’d been the tulips and the daisies and each one had made him think of MC in one way or another. In the end, he’d bought them all. He hoped she wouldn’t laugh. And he hoped she wasn’t mad, though she absolutely had reason to be. The dinner had run late and it was nearly midnight. He should have been home hours ago, especially on Valentine’s Day.

He opened the door and pushed it open with his hip. “Babe?” he called softly, not wanting to wake her up if she was asleep already. “I’m home…” God, he’d never get tired of saying those words. He’d never realised before that his apartment hadn’t felt like a home, not until she had come. He’d thought it was, but he was wrong. It had been empty.

He took a step inside, something soft under his feet. There were candles everywhere, their flames flickering like twinkling stars, shadows dancing on the walls. He carefully set the flowers down on a chair and took a long look around. Oh. There was a carpet of rose petals leading to his room, the door just slightly cracked. He could see there were more candles in there but that was all he could tell from where he was. He glanced at the door to her room. It was closed.

Was she in his room…?

He slipped off his shoes and jacket, swallowing around the sudden lump in his throat. His hands were shaking and he quickly patted himself on the face. One, two, three. Now was not the time to be shaking!

He took a few tiptoed steps forward, the rose petals soft against his feet as he followed the path to his door. Everything was quiet. Was she in there? Waiting for him? Was this okay? He’d tried so hard to not rush things, to not rush her. She’d been through so much and was always there for him. Everyone had emailed him to take things slow, except for 707, who had advised him to accidentally walk in on her in the bath. But no one was stupid enough to take 707’s advice.

He pushed the door open slowly and caught his breath. She was asleep, there in his bed, curled up against his pillow, her dark hair spread out like fairy wings. There were fewer candles in here and they had burned down low, but they still managed to cast a flickering glow upon her that tinged her skin a golden color. He tiptoed closer, barely breathing.

Then he saw, really saw, what she was wearing and his breath left him completely, in one shuddering whoosh. Even in the dim candlelight it was virtually see-through! He could see--! He put a hand to his mouth, fingers trembling. Maybe he should have ignored everyone else and listened to 707 for once.

He was at the side of the bed before he had even consciously made the decision to move. He leaned over her, watching the rise and fall of her breath, and with one shaking finger he brushed a few stray strands of her hair from her face. She was so beautiful.

Her eyes fluttered open and she blinked up at him for a moment as if she was wondering if she was still dreaming.

“I’m sorry I’m so late,” Zen whispered.

She caught his hand in hers, pressing it to her cheek. “All that matters is that you’re here now,” she said. She turned her head and kissed his palm, a butterfly kiss that gave him a shiver from the inside out. He froze, so many things he wanted to do or say next that he wasn’t sure what to do.

“I—” he said.

She smiled up at him. “Shhhh. We’ve talked enough, don’t you think?” And she pulled him down next to her, his silver head next to her own dark one, like the moon and the night, entwined.

(that was all the time I had and I didn't edit it at all...so...you can just imagine what happens next...)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden

Funeral Blues
by W. H. Auden (b1907- d1973)

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with the juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and, with muffled drum,
Bring out the coffin. Let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message: “He is dead!”
Put crepe bows around the white necks of the public doves.
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my north, my south, my east and west,
My working week and Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song.
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one.
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can come to any good.



...which analysis is right? The satirical one or the romantic one?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Do princesses have to be stupid? And pink?

Continuing on with reviewing (which really is more me making notes to myself) otome games (i.e. visual novels)...

Let me randomly pick you up
and carry you off in my arms while running
anytime I feel like it...because reasons.
Let's start with Princess Closet because it's sorta pissing me off. It's really not even a proper otome game as there are no choices to make save picking which eligible bachelor you want to read a story about.

Basically, some super rich clothing designer notices you one day and decides, hey, YOU are my MUSE (the word "muse" is used far more in otome/anime/manga than it EVER is in real life) and makes you the model for his brand, Princess Closet. Even though you're an "ordinary" girl and not tall or thin or any of the things a model normally is. You work in an office. You have no personality other than you really, really, really like pink.

So when it came time to choose, I just went for that dude. Reo. That may have been my first mistake though it's really probably the fault of the heroine. She is one of the weakest, stupidest, pink-froofy-lovingest idiots I've ever had the displeasure of reading about. And the story itself is pure wish fulfilment of any girl who has ever wanted to be swept away as some rich dude's all-consuming passion without thinking about what that actually means. Because this guy is low-key stalker-ish and doesn't pay any attention at all to what the girl says she does or doesn't want (which, to be fair to him, is precious little because she has about as much brains as a bowl of oatmeal and no backbone and he's so uber-rich that he has no social skills for dealing with "ordinary" people that get weirded out when you go and buy them a freaking restaurant on your first date).

This isn't one where you have to grind for points or anything. You basically get so many tickets a day and then can watch some videos to get some more if you want to. I've just used the free ones and read it on the way back from dropping my little dude at school because you don't have to make any decisions and can go on autopilot.

Which is pretty much exactly fitting for the stupid heroine. She can't even ever get out a complete sentence. Her dialogue is mostly: "Huh?" and "O-okay..." and "...I guess." and things like that.

I actually am so annoyed as I'm writing all this out that I've decided I'm gonna go ahead and delete it. So I looked up the ending episode on YouTube just now and...yeah...the end is exactly like you might expect. Rich dude tells her he's gonna marry her, gives her three seconds to respond and she doesn't manage to get her thoughts together enough to actually say anything coherent and he's all, "lol, time's up!" and boom, they're gonna get married and live happily ever after. So, yeah. Doesn't look like there was any character growth there at all...

If you can't tell how hard I'm rolling my eyes, you aren't paying attention.

I even checked out the endings for a couple of the other characters to see if she was just as bad in those. They were marginally better. Like she actually got out a complete sentence in one of them. But only slightly. Still want to tell her to grow a spine. And a brain.

I know that I write romance for teens. But I can't stand heroines like this. Even if you start out a bit wishy-washy, you've gotta go somewhere from there or else the story is no good.

I am rather wanting to write the script for an otome app now though because, yeesh, I could do it so much better.

I should've deleted this after the first episode. Ain't nobody got time for this.

(And, yes, I realise that there are people out there who really like this one. It's okay. To each their own. Like I said, it is pure wish fulfilment and if that's what someone needs, who am I am to complain? But I'm not going to spend any more time on it.)

loose ends

There are days when I feel more or less like I'm hanging by a thread, swaying slightly in that kind of wind that you barely feel. Dangling.

To be honest, fairly sure my hormones are all screwed up again. But there's not much I can do about that as I've got to stay on the medication I'm on and all the others I tried seemed to mess me up worse.

So I'm trying not to wallow. But some days it is hard.

It doesn't help that I'm waiting to hear back from my agent. Am trying to brainstorm some other things but mostly it's the waiting. It's slowly killing me. I feel like I've made one wrong choice after another in my career, though I know that there are people who look at me and go, "Woot! You've got 4 books published! You have an agent! You've made it!" But, meh, not really. I feel very unsuccessful.

Mostly I'm pretty sure I could disappear off the face of the earth and my little dude would be the only one that noticed. After all, I make him breakfast and get him out of bed and walk him to school and clean up his messes and give him hugs. And the dog. I'm the one that opens the refrigerator door, that magic box with good smelling things inside that stymies his intellect.

It's terribly hard to write when I'm like this, when the thing I ought to be working on is a happy little middle grade fantasy that I need to finish some edits on (not that it has a home yet). My mind just isn't quite in the right place. It's on pause. It's waiting.

Waiting is by far the suckiest part of this job.

On the plus side, I got a fan letter for the first time in ages. There's been so few actual physical letters since we moved overseas. So it was a really nice surprise. They sent it via my publisher. So I answered that yesterday. Getting letters, especially snail mail, is the best. I could use some good things.

Have been trying to be social online. Haven't been into the city to hang out with friends, though I am going in tomorrow. It's been too cold to even want to go. I've been a cave troll, if cave trolls hung out in cozy offices with roaring fireplaces and drank too much coffee.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Nah, it's a Zen thing

Meet Zen. He totally knows he's
a hottie and he won't let you forget it. 
 
So, I've totally found my otome crush (ok, there's a few...let's be honest here, it's just me reading this anyway) in Mystic Messenger by Cheritz. I thought I'd try this app as all the reviews kept saying it was "so different!" which usually just means...well, not much. But in this case, yeah, it is. The structure is completely unlike any of the other otome apps/games I've tried, the voice acting is great, and the more the game unfolds, the more intriguing it gets.

A lot of other ones interest me for a an episode or two and then bog down in repetition or bad dialogue or typos or any of a multitude of sins, but MM (so far) just keeps getting better.

The gameplay itself has timed events that you have to complete within a certain window, so you find yourself checking it incessantly. It's a bit confusing when you first start out, but once you get the hang of it, it's quite addictive. That said, it doesn't actually take up that much time to play as you can hop in, complete what you need to, and drop back out. There's no grinding to get items or things you have to repeat over and over again. I'm looking at you, stupid princess lessons.

I'm still only in Day 4 so maybe I'll change my mind but so far I'm really, really liking this one. It's just very original compared to everything else I've tried. It really makes me want to take one of my books (probably Ask Me) and make it into an otome game.

In other news, still waiting to hear back from the agent on the latest revision. Hoping it's done...though then it's waiting on the editor, so, yeah. Back to Mystic Messenger while I wait...

Friday, January 12, 2018

It's all about the face

So, the first otome app that I tried and actually thought, hey, wow, this is pretty decent and I don't want to kill it with fire is Ikémen Sengoku: Romances Across Time. It's attractively done, it has some really nice voice acting (in Japanese, so I only understand a bit of it, but there's translations in English text), the art is really nice AND (so far) the main character isn't a complete milksop (yes, I realise that word generally refers to males but it still kinda works).

Anyway, you play a character that gets accidentally sent back through time due to some weird space-time oddness. A stranger you happened to be standing near (you were checking out an old monument about a long-dead samurai dude) is also sent back, though he wound up arriving 4 years before you. In that time he's acquired himself some bad-ass ninja skills. When you do arrive, you save the life of Nobunaga Oda, who historically was supposed to have died the night you arrive.

You soon learn that history has changed a lot from the bit you knew -- Sasuke (the dude that also got sent back) also happened to do some life-saving when he arrived and there's two more samurai kicking around that should have died. (Oh, look, plot point that works to get you to forgive any historical innacuracies...) He's physicist-smart and thinks he knows how to get through a wormhole in 3 month's time. The problem -- he's embedded in the enemy camp and Nobunaga thinks you're a lucky charm and takes you with him. So you've gotta hang out for 3 months and not get killed around a bunch of shmexy samurai all wrapped up in the middle of a war. Some of them trust you. Some of them don't. All of them have long, shiny swords and know how to use them. (That wasn't a euphemism, actually. Seriously. They're samurai. They have swords.)

What was that, you say? There's a plot? Why, yes, there is. And the main character isn't a total pushover and has some agenda. Woot! She stands her ground! She has ideals! Morals! Okay, and a weakness for shmexy samurai. But who doesn't?

Yeah, he's the original crazy hat samurai dude.
He invented this look.
I picked the Masamune Date route. I'm not entirely sure why, but I liked him the most in the prologue, so I just went with that. I did look up the historical figure and thankfully he wasn't horrible (did some good things, actually) other than it's a bit off-putting how many concubines and wives he had. So. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't have looked that part up when I'm supposed to be creating a story with him. And probably also should have avoided what he really looked like...though his statue isn't that bad. Paintings of him, however...let's just ignore all that. It's a game, right?

So, anyway, you settle into life in the Sengoku period as well as can be expected. It's fairly well written, though sometimes a bit contrived and clunky, but I think that's more a problem of the genre. It's a serious challenge when you've got a "choose your own adventure" style game going and have to seamlessly fit in which choices the players pick but still carry the story forward.

I'm only up to the 5th chapter (there's a total of 13, plus bonus scenes), so the jury is still out on whether or not it will continue to prove worthy. But, so far I'm enjoying it. Perhaps the best part (other than the spunky heroine and the swoonworthy voice acting) is that there's also bits of humour interjected here and there. I literally snorted out loud today at one little joke.

It's got the standard F2P hijinks (princess lessons, an avatar you have to dress up, etc.) and far too many events (I find all the extras a bit confusing, but maybe that's because I haven't finished a route yet) but it's enjoyable.

In comparison, Destined to Love, another "sent back through time" to hang out with a bunch of samurai otome app is a little bit lacking. The app is clunkier and I've noticed a number of typos (they may not bother other people, but they bug me). The art is still nice, however and the heroine, while not quite as upstanding as the one in Ikémen Sengoku, is decent. Honestly, if I weren't doing both at the same time, I probably would have thought that Destined to Love was really great.

Hello, you, with your sad eyes.
Very similar setup -- you go back through time, this time accompanied by an old college friend who is just as clueless as you as to what is going on (you can also choose to romance him, if you like). There's a mysterious love letter with a cherry blossom petal but you can't read any of it except the declaration of love at the bottom. You wind up working at a cafe as you try to figure out what to do.

Perhaps the most jarring thing is that the samurai characters tend to use anachronistic words and it keeps pulling me out of the story as they don't sound like they belong in their time period. And the words/translation themselves...it often doesn't really make sense and is very, very clunky. For instance, this description just appeared: "the bridge of his nose twitched." Er, what? How does that work exactly? The BRIDGE OF HIS NOSE twitched? And there's a serious overuse of adverbs. It makes my fingers itch to correct the writing. I've said clunky already, haven't I? Let's add awkward and ungainly and clumsy... I'm gonna stop now.

And the MC is a bit wishy-washy. Neither she nor Kyo (her friend from the future) really seem to be trying to do anything to figure out their situation. She doesn't much stand up for herself either, though not nearly as bad as that idiot girl in Wizardess Heart.

Dude. So serious.
However, I do really like the character I picked to follow. He's called Kogoru Katsura in the game. In real life, that was his name in the beginning, but he wound up becoming Kido Takayoshi, a Japanese statesman who did a lot of stuff in his life. Seriously. Dude was hugely influential in Japanese history. And was saved by the Geisha of Gion, his wife, during some failed political thing-y. Of course, all of that actually makes me more interested in his real story than in the one in the app. ANYWAY.

I'll continue on with it because I'm interested to see how it will play out. My main complaints are with the app itself anyway. I've really gotta stop looking up the real history, though. It's interesting but then it makes me feel kind of guilty. I'm sorry, Kido Matsuko! I didn't mean to steal your husband!

Yeah, that's weird.

It has made me think though...if these types of games had been invented in the US/Europe rather than in Japan, who would have been the historical players that would have appeared? It's hard to imagine. Maybe because it's easy to romanticise samurai in Western culture? I suppose there are lots of knight-y things--plenty of otome that way, but I haven't come across one yet that actually uses real historical figures. But, yeesh, I can't imagine something set in the Tudor court. I mean, King Henry VIII was really pretty gross, especially as he aged. That huge codpiece was because of syphillis. And what about the founding fathers of the US? Urk.

Yeah, what was I saying about probably not wanting to think about the actual history behind things? That's exactly why.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The maiden and the elephant in the room

I've been playing some otome games to try to distract myself. Ok, that's not entirely true. I'm avoiding thinking. It's slightly different.

Anyway. I'm going to write about them here because it saves me from writing about the stuff that's really bothering me and dwelling on it. Because, avoidance, right?

At least Joel is cute,
even if he is a bit of a tsundere.
Why he loves the MC is a
mystery to me because she's
a total idiot.
The first one that I didn't delete immediately after trying (I tried a few that were complete stinkers -- horrible writing or clunky apps etc.) was Wizardess Heart. It's one of those free to play apps where you have to jump through a bunch of hoops. I don't actually mind (and kind of prefer) straight out buying something rather than having to collect coins and play mini-games and silly things like that, but on the plus side, I'm really glad this one didn't cost money now because I kind of want to kill the main character with fire.

She (the person you're "playing") seemed promising at the very start. She was capable enough to be living on her own, she had her own magic, and liked to help animals and people. But the further along I progress, it seems she just gets stupider and stupider. Like, literally, she's dumb as a post. People can flat out tell her things and she's, like, "What does that mean?" The guy THAT SHE LIKES just flat out told someone that he's her boyfriend and when she's all "But, wait, that's not true, is it?" (and this being after they were out in the fairy woods alone all night and he was making a big deal out of how he had to sleep with his back to her because, you know...things...and how he's been waiting half his frickin' life to run into her again after they were childhood friends...even though she doesn't remember diddly squat about that...where he used to pretend to be a FREAKING GIRL because, you know, reasons...) and he's like "Yo, it's fine. I'll make you mine" and she's all "Huh?"

Seriously. Nearly half of her dialogue is "Huh?"

I've had to look up a walkthrough to get the appropriate amount of "points" for the romance to continue because all of her options/answers are stupid and I kept picking the one that made the most sense, which, apparently, isn't applicable to this girl.

I'm not sure why I haven't deleted it yet. Maybe because it's the furthest along I've made it in any of the apps so I kind of hate to give up. I don't know. I'm sort of waiting to see if they can redeem it. But I do know that I won't play any other routes in this app because this one has been so frustrating. I can't see how they'd make her any smarter in any of the other routes (i.e. guys). I tried another one of their otome apps (the Nifelheim one, after it was recommended on a blog) and it had the same problem -- passive, idiotic heroine stumbling around like an idiot. I deleted that one pretty quickly because the guy options weren't all that enticing to begin with.

As a professional writer, I'm actually a bit offended at the crap they get away with and make money on. Lazy, crappy writing. Ridiculous barely-there plots held together with contrivance and wishful thinking. With typos! Though some of it may be translation issues since I think a lot of these originally came from Japan. Not sure about this one.

On the plus side, the art is pretty nice and the app actually works (unlike some other ones that I've tried). And the guy characters are pretty interesting and attractive, though there's a few too many on the "I'll treat you like a dog and you'll like it" scale for my personal taste.

Anyway. I'll write about some of the other apps in another post.

Did, at least, also work through 4 chapters today. Two more to go and then the manuscript is back off to the agent.

And there's the fireplace going in my office. I think that's saving me from going crazy. Maybe. Might be a lost cause.

EDIT:

Wait. So I just googled Joel and Wizardess Heart and found this review of his storyline. Er...okay...well, I'm glad she enjoyed it!. It's amazing to me that she finds the heroine to be so good. Yeah, I can see the MC as determined, definitely. That's her one good quality. She'll do her all for her friends, even ones she has just met. So, yay!, you go girl.

I probably shouldn't have, but I read all her spoilers and I can see that the Joel storyline is somewhat interesting, except for the clunky bits, some of which she sees too. The amnesia trope is always generally annoying, but in this case it's actually more so if Joel himself was the one who made the girl forget. I mean, if that's the case, why is he continually surprised by her not remembering something? And, honestly, I'm also pretty over the "childhood friend" trope which is so prevalent in anime/otome/manga. If I'd know that was going to be part of Joel's storyline, I wouldn't have picked it at all (especially if I'd also known about the amnesia thing).

Meet Azusa. Who apparently
likes to kill pigeons
and stupid, daft girls
who follow him into the forest.
So, after reading that, I was thinking, okay, I should probably just delete the damn app, right? Joel is cute but do I really want to struggle though more of that annoying Eress bug-fairy-thing and the dishrag main character? But then I thought, hey, there was that other route, which one was it? That looked kind of interesting and not all blonde prefect-y? Oh, yeah, Azusa! So I just googled him and found this review.

He's a freaking murderer psycho.

HAHAHAHAHA oh, thank you, random internet blogger for saving me. That's just...HAHAHAHAHA OMG Really? FFS. I am, for once in my life, literally LOLing out loud.

That's a big old bucket of NOPE from me.

I mean, okay, yeah, I kind of wanted to kill her myself but seriously? That's...that's just really, really effed up. And possibly even weirder is that someone claiming to be an adult left a comment on the review DEFENDING the character route. I just..I can't even...

Well, at least one thing has made me laugh this week. Brilliant. Freaking brilliant.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

I haz a sad

It's been a long time. Again. I'd forgotten I even had this blog, though it was my original one from before I was published. I missed 2017 entirely.

So...I was thinking about this blog because I've been sad for a while now and I kind of wanted to write about it but I can't do it on my normal website or twitter or Facebook or any of my normal haunts because...well, reasons. I'm not supposed to be sad. Or human, I guess. I'm supposed to present a happy face. Be positive.

But I'm not, really. I don't want to do anything. I don't want to leave the house. I don't want to write. Don't want to deal with my husband and his stress and moodiness.

But I'm doing all the things because I have to.

But I've been crying randomly, sometimes out of nowhere.

Feel a bit like I might explode. But I know I won't, because I can't.

Do you ever sometimes wake up and feel like you aren't you? That somehow, somewhere along the way and all the interminable choices we make every day that you took a wrong turn somewhere and you went down that hall of mirrors and now you're so far down the tunnel that you've lost yourself? That the person looking back at you from the mirror isn't you, not really?

There was a book I loved in high school called Infinity's Web by Sheila Finch. It's the story of the many possible lives of one woman. It's got quantum physics and tarot.

I think I've lost the thread.