Friday, May 25, 2018

Ouch.

Did I mention that I joined the gym? A sort of fancy one at the local Crowne Plaza. It has a pool I can take the little dude to (and a sauna and steam room and jacuzzi + all the normal gym stuff + classes). The membership comes with 1 personal trainer session a month and 1 spa treatment a month (like a facial or a massage). Shmancy.

Kinda felt like it was a little pricey but when you add in the extras (and discounts on restaurants and stuff, it's actually not bad).

So I did the first personal trainer session on Wednesday.

It's Friday.

Ow.

I mean, hey. I knew I was out of shape. That's why I joined a gym (well, two reasons: lose weight and get healthier). But. Man. I didn't realise exactly how out of shape I was.

I made it through the session (and I am going back to the gym today for a session on the elliptical) but ouchy ow. I hurt so bad. It's kinda ridiculous. Breathing hurts. I am so tempted to skip out today and just mooch around the house feeling my aches and pains and reading something on Love 365. But that's not why I joined. So off I go. After this blog post.

In other news...I've started working on the Death book again. I should probably be fixing up the Yonder manuscript instead, since it's half taken apart after the edits that one publisher requested, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I need to let it sit for a bit. The other MS is out with Scholastic with the editor I like and would love to work with. Hopefully she likes it. It may not be what they are looking for now, but I do think it is a fun book and it has a much easier hook than Yonder.

So, anyway, all that means I thought I'd go back to YA and work on the Death book. Which actually has a tentative title of The Never List.  Who knows if that'll be the final (only two of my books have wound up using my working title as their final title), but I like it. For now. It's better than Death's Door, which is what I'd been using.

I finished re-working the outline and getting the whole thing in Scrivener, since it was just in Word before. Did wind up changing one fundamental thing, though luckily I only have to fix 4 existing scenes. It just radically changed the rest of the original outline. And it has an ending now -- I'd always known that there were three different ways it could end and I finally figured out which one felt right and wrote it up. Well, enough of it, anyway, to get the idea down. Now it's mostly filling in the middle. Which is, of course, the most painful part. But I think it will be okay. One thing I need to do is write a song, though. I was going to use an existing song BUT after the pain of tracking down permissions for just lyric fragments in my fourth book, I ain't never gonna do that again. So I need to write one. I have a start on it, but I'm not really sure about it yet. We'll see.

But, man, I really do like this book. It's my first told from a male POV and it's blatantly romance. Every time I pick it up again I am reminded of why I love these characters. I don't even remember now what gave me the original idea -- maybe the idea of Death having a son? I don't know. But I like it. So I'm gonna work on it. Damn the torpedoes and all that.

Anyway, off to the gym.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Still tangled

Okay, so the write up for Love Tangle was getting seriously long so I thought I'd do a part deux. I'm still kinda surprised I'm still playing it but it's the same reason as before -- it's easy. And now I've got lots of stuff in it. Still haven't spent any money on it either.

Anyway...when last I wrote, I had just started on Miguel, the Olympic swimmer. I did finish his route and it was decent. The MC was a bit more...um...thirsty in this one. At least, she sure did think about his swimmer bod a lot. And he was a nice guy, so I don't have any particular complaints. I wouldn't say it wowed me either. No hankering to write fan fiction or revisit him, if you know what I mean. On the plus side, during the early chapters where you're still officially torn between the two characters, I did figure out that Nolan (who always seems like such an ass in other people's routes) might actually be a decent guy. So I'll probably do his route at some point.

Yeah. Dean totally takes a bullet for you. Talk about dedication.
After that, I went onto the Dean route. He's the "cheerful but unlucky" policeman and is paired up with Wylder, the artist. There's a whole plot about a big discovery at the lab and some evil corporate pharmaceutical company that wants to steal the data. Dean does a whole lot of saving the day in this route. Dude gets shot. Wylder's connection to him is that he was also once saved by him. Plot-wise, this was probably one of the better ones that at least somewhat made sense (well...okay, not really, but at least it was more thrilling than most). Dean is unflappably cheerful for someone who considers himself cursed with bad luck. Their relationship seems fairly balanced, so...all in all, not bad for this app.

Around the end of the Dean route, they released a brand new route for Earl. He's paired up with Celina, the first female love interest in the game. However, she's not released yet (though presumably she'll be coming next). So I'm doing Earl's route to get all the goodies you get with a new release (Steampunk outfits this time! I hate to admit I am slightly excited as I do like steampunk stuff, though the dress up your avatar thing is definitely NOT why I play these games).



Earl is an extremely anti-social taciturn computer programmer genius dude. Which, okay, I kinda get it -- I used to work at IBM. I worked with those guys. But heaven knows I never tried to romance one. Besides the fact that I was married, they're...um...fairly intolerable to chat with. And so is Earl. I mean, it's like pulling teeth in this route. The MC's attraction for him seems to be completely out of left field and with absolutely NO encouragement from Earl at all. It's really rather painful. If I weren't playing for the steampunk gear and extra bonuses, I'd probably have quit by now. There are hints of Celina being a bit of a sly dog too, but at least she's friendly.

I'm probably about 2/3 of the way through now and I can say that the story is pretty much telegraphed loud and clear and I'm not all that wowed by it. This time it's hackers but...eh...just not feeling it. Probably because I'm just not feelin' Earl. And his name. Earl. That is not the name of a computer programmer. That's the name of a guy who drives a pickup truck with a gun rack in the back.

Maybe I'll go back to Nolan or Wylder after this one is over. I'm still mostly saving up gems or diamonds or whatever they are for Timo.

Edit: So, finished the Earl route. Very meh about the whole thing. He never really improved at all. The story didn't make much sense: hey, yo, I'm a whitehat hacker and I burned down buildings with police knowledge but it's okay because it was to stop potential terrorist recruitment activities (because, of course, burning empty buildings would totally stop them) and who cares, insurance will pay for it anyway...um, what? That's not how things work. The whole hacker thing here also made no sense. And they even claimed he developed his own operating system and "everyone" uses it? WTF? Is he supposed to be a more attractive but even more socially inept Bill Gates?

And, at the end, he goes off on some kind of self-imposed sojourn, comes back after creeping on you by more or less bugging your computer via a little hacking thing he gave you before he left (not that he told you what it did), leaves a cryptic message for you to meet him at the airport, and then grabs and kisses you when you get there even though he had, up until that point, given NO indication of any romantic interest in you whatsoever. In fact, he pretty much tells you to go away throughout the entire route. But, stupid scientist that you are, you're okay with this. So, yeah. MEH.  Definitely not my route. Made me wonder all over again why I'm still playing this one.

So I'm back on to do Nolan's route now.



Edit: So, yeah, I did Nolan's route. It's weird. They made him relatively decent (compared to how he always is in all the other routes) in the first chapters up to the decision point where you have to choose him over Miguel. And then...boom...he becomes a pompous ass again. I wouldn't say he's the worst that this game has thrown at me, but I also wouldn't say it was particularly enjoyable and, eh, character development? On either side? Not so much.

But I finished it. Mostly because I'd gotten so far along that it seemed a waste not to finish it and get the diamonds and story tickets you get if you finish. Miguel was better.

And they've now released the Celina route (with the special event stuff), so I'm doing that even though I didn't find her particularly interesting. Haven't made it out of the first chapters yet, but we'll see. At least I'm racking up some diamonds to use on Timo. I'm hinging my hopes on him still. There's gotta be one route in this game that's good all the way through...right?

Poco's Udon World


Little dude and I were looking for something kawaii and boy, did we find it. Poco's Udon World apparently came out around the same time as Sweetness & Lightning and didn't fare well against it, perhaps because a lot of people thought it was going to be a similar cooking-themed show. It's not at all, though I can see why people might think it based upon the name and the cover image. It's a slice of life with a bit of a twist and it's a one season and done kind of thing (or, at least, it mostly wraps up the story and doesn't leave you hanging).

Meet Souta. He's 30 and lives in Tokyo working as a web designer. He's come home to Kagawara because his father has died and he and his sister are planning on cleaning up the family's home/udon restaurant and selling it so they can get on with their lives. He's feeling very ambivalent as he hadn't been close to his dad since insisting on moving away to the big city rather than continuing the family business.

But he's soon got something to distract him -- he finds a wee little boy hiding out in the restaurant. But it's not a boy...it's a tanuki who can change into a child. After coming to terms (sort of) with this strange predicament, he begins to take care of Poco, introducing him to everyone else as the child of a friend that he's just taking care of. Poco is adorable squared, whether in his human form, total tanuki, or a blend of the two. Seriously. Kawaii. Like make your eyes bleed kawaii.

It's a story of Souta coming to terms with himself and his family. Of family in general. It's about kindness and fear -- fear of things left undone and unsaid. The supporting characters are also great -- his best friend from high school with the pointiest teeth I've ever seen in anime (not just two, but ALL of them) and his own relationship with his father. And Souta's sister, who has fears of her own related to motherhood (their mother died when they were both really young). And there's a charming bit where Souta meets up with an old crush from high school and winds up becoming "mom friends" with her.

Little dude loved all of it except the very end, though I hate to tell him that I'd figured out what was going to have to happen (as well as the "twist" regarding Poco's connection to the family). Poco wasn't going to be able to remain in human form forever. He'd really like more episodes and I wouldn't have minded either. It was surprisingly deep and sweet and satisfying. The only thing I wish was that they'd given a peek into Souta's future--it would have been nice to see him starting his own family. It looked like it was headed that way (Next door Granny's grandaughter made a late appearance) and there was the sister of the Shrine priest.

Souta's one of the nicest anime guys I've seen in a while. You just wanted to give him a hug.

Irresistible Mistakes

So, Irresistible Mistakes came up as a free route on Love 365 and after not being able to get through the last free route (Kiss of Revenge...literally, I read about 2 chapters and was so incredibly meh on it that I stopped even though it was free...nothing about it appealed to me, not the revenge part, not the characters...) I was hoping for something decent.

You work in advertising and have been at the company for about six years. Why this field? Because you were super inspired by a commercial you saw as a teenager that was made by Shunichiro Tachibana, who coincidentally is the star at the firm you work at. Or maybe that's why you're there. You've admired him from afar for eons. At an office party one night celebrating the man himself for another award won, you wind up getting totally stinking drunk. Obliterated. The next morning you wake up in a hotel room...naked...clothes strewn across the floor...and some guy in the shower. Embarrassed and mortified, you sneak out before he can see you -- or you can see him (which is sort of normal but also sort of stupid...after all, he obviously saw ALL of you the night before). You head off to work, not knowing who it was you had your one night stand with...

Yeah, Shunichiro, I was thinking the same thing.
The free route was for the man himself. Shunichiro. You quickly figure out it was him and are completely shocked but also kind of excited. But more shocked. After all, you've admired him for so long that you've got a bit of a complex about the whole thing. And at first, he seems a bit suggestive and flirty. Like, really suggestive (he literally says something along the lines of Oh, you don't remember how wet you were? and she's like OMG though you find out a bit later he meant from the rain...but it's obvious that he totally meant the double meaning too). And you have this whole "I'm not worthy" thing going on which is really heightened to the breaking point when he appoints you to a new team that's trying to win a contract for the Olympics. Yeah, that Olympics. It's a big deal.

Thrown together with him on the project, you wind up making that irresistible mistake again. And again. Each time a little more thrilling but also more soul shattering than the last. Because, and this is where the whole middle of the route lies, you don't know how he feels. You barely know how you feel, but you're pretty sure you don't want to just be a booty call (in fact, when Natsume finds out about it and confronts you with those very words, you want to deny it...but you can't). You're falling deep, girl. And Shunichiro, by all indications from what is going on with the sleazy governor and the governor's daughter (who wants to marry Shunichiro), doesn't see you as anything but a convenient good time. That's what you're up against.

Let's just say that everything winds up copacetic and that Shunichiro's character could easily have been a total asshole, but he wasn't. Overall, the route was a little inner turmoil angsty for me -- does he? doesn't he? do I? what do I want? what does he want? is he a slimeball? am I a slimeball? -- but ultimately it was okay. I'm a bit over the whole oh no, he has a fiancé thing (c'mon, Voltage, something else, please). BUT it wasn't bad. I wanted to be more mad at the MC because she is such a waffle through the majority of the route BUT it more or less made sense for her character because of who he was and who she was. That hero worship thing. I may or may not be as forgiving if she's that way with other love interests.

I did enjoy it enough that I am thinking about doing another route. Perhaps Natsume, even though he's an old friend, partly because I like how he stuck up for her in this route. He seems like a decent guy (o, famous last words when used in conjunction with Voltage...I think I've just doomed myself). I've heard Toma is good as well, so I might check that one out too. I did like that she's a mature (i.e. older) MC and that she doesn't faint at the very thought of sex like a lot of Voltage MCs. And that she proved herself competent at her job...though it was the same-old same-old Voltage thing of making her the low man on the totem pole looking up to her male counterparts which is ANNOYING. For once, please give me an MC who kicks ass from the beginning.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Plotting. Planning. Researching. Avoiding?

Okay, so I've been thinking off and on about writing my own otome/visual novel. I looked through some Ren'Py tutorials today, though I haven't downloaded it yet. I might be getting ahead of myself as that's never the first step anyway -- researching, outlining, plotting, planning...it's still writing, right? It's just a different kind of structure and a branching format, rather than a more linear one. But a lot has to be the same, at least on the writing side of it. Story is, after all, story.

I have two ideas (well, more, but two reasonably feasible ideas) that I'm debating...

One...take Hildie, my hitwoman character from that novel that Lo, thou shalt never see the light of day, and use that as a springboard. There's even the possibility I could raid that manuscript for dialogue and scenes. Possible love interests could be:

  • Nick (her super hot bisexual best friend/roomate with a heart of gold but no stomach for killing)
  • Tiny (a quiet giant of a man who's not afraid of crushing a man's balls but isn't good at sharing his feelings)
  • Alfie (the dude she's supposed to kill next, he's an asshole type with a chip on his shoulder)
  • Sean (Alfie's older brother, much nicer guy, older brother type)
  • As Yet Unnamed (if adding a female LI, a bartender she knows from her cover job)
  • As Yet Unnamed (high school friend who doesn't know she now kills people for a living, IF I decide to do the childhood friend thing which I probably won't)
  • As Yet Unnamed (policeman?)
Supporting characters would include Wiz (female hacker with secrets), Frankie (Francesca -- Nick's Nonna, leader of the family), and possibly a young junkie punk that sees her with some compromising evidence (Fat Lou's severed hand in her purse). I could even more or less keep the same structure that I've already got in the book, but with different outcomes depending on which route. It could work. 

Pluses: Hildie would be a very strong MC and I've already got gobs of written words that I could pull from. Also would be nice to finally use her for something because I like her a lot.

Cons: It'd be a pretty involved story with the different branches so it wouldn't necessarily be much easier to use what I've already got as I'd really have to sort through thousands of words to find what's useful.

Of course, could start off with just Nick, Sean and Tiny to begin with and then add more later. It would be kind of hard to romance Alfie as he's such a jerk as he's currently written. Though throwing in a cop or some kind of law enforcement dude would be interesting too.

Two...a possibly simpler idea but one in which I would be starting from absolute zero -- have a 30-something writer as the MC. This idea came to me because games/shows/movies/whatever NEVER EVER get writers even halfway right. So have an MC that's perhaps been mid-list her entire career but her latest book is hitting the bestseller list. All of a sudden she's more in the spotlight. Possible love interests could be:
  • Editor (of new book, some hotshot she's never worked with before)
  • Famous Writer (perhaps publisher wants her to collaborate with someone--think like what Patterson does)
  • Movie Producer (wants to option novel as a script)
  • Primary Source/Interviewee (if she's decided to work on a non-fiction project next, so could be anyone interesting)
  • Newbie Writer/Fan
  • Publicist/PR Flack (she's getting an actual tour, so they'd be together a lot)

If I was really going to go all out, could add some stat raising kind of stuff (different skills: research, writing, public speaking, charm, etc.). Not sure I'd want to get into that, but might be interesting. May be fun to make her primarily a romance novelist, which gets no respect in general (even in many writerly circles), but her latest novel transcended that...that gives some potential friction between her and some of the LI's. I'd want her to be snarky but earnest. Perhaps a bit of a closet nerd but she'd have to have a backbone.

Not sure which idea would be more appealing to other people. Maybe neither one. And do I have time to do this? Maybe. It's very tempting. Of course, I'd have to find someone for the art or at least placeholders to start with and then see if it's worth pursuing and hiring someone. Each character would need at least 3 sprites, right? Normal, happy, sad and/or mad. Backgrounds. CGs. Urk. That's the part that really daunts me. But maybe I'll try something really simple to start with, just two LIs and see if I can even work in this kind of format. So...which one? Anyone? Bueller?




O, Purple Haired One

Pressure? How about choosing which stories to buy, huh?
So...I had a moment of panic the other night when I realised I hadn't yet spent the last bit of my monthly pass in Love 365 and it was time for the next monthly pass to start up. Oh crap, I thought, did I just waste it? So I opened the app and bought something from my wish list not even really paying attention to what I got because it was, like, midnight. The next morning I looked and realised that what I'd bought was Be My Princess 2: Sieg Lieben. Er...I hadn't even realised that there was anything on my wish list from BMP2...how exactly did that happen? Because I'd pretty much detested the original Be My Princess and while Be My Princess 2 was better, I wouldn't say it was my favourite. But anyway. Happily, it didn't affect the next monthly pass and nothing was wasted so I was, like, well, okay...here we go, O purple haired prince. Let's give it a shot.

It's the same basic start as in Be My Princess 2: Hayden that I did as a free route, so I won't rehash the prologue again or who the MC is (she's the same dedicated pastry chef). But this time, Sieg is...well, he's pretty much an asshole. I checked out the free chapters of his POV piece too and basically, in the whole beginning of the route, he kinda likes the MC but his mouth keeps getting in the way and he says some horribly rude things. It's like he's trying to be nice, but it doesn't come out. At all.

And the MC is, understandably, not really having it. So their romance has a big hill to climb at first. She even asks him at one point why he keeps taking her places when it appears he can't stand anything about her. But, slowly, he manages to get out some of his real feelings instead of the verbal diarrhoea that usually comes out.

And there's a bunch of political intrigue in this route. The last half moves along pretty well with a fair bit of action. Things I liked: Sieg also cooks and it's one of the ways in which they finally bond and it was a realistic touch (am I honestly using the word realistic in describing anything going on in Love 365? hmmmm). The MC is still feisty. And once Sieg gets over himself, he turns out pretty sweet and shows some growth and maturity. It actually seems reasonable that he would fall in love with her as she's probably the first girl who's ever talked back to him and didn't put up with his shit.

There wasn't anything in particular I hated about it. I wouldn't say it's one of the best routes in Love 365, but it certainly isn't the worst! Probably in the upper 20% maybe. If I had to pick anything bad, I would say that the resolution with the current King was...kinda iffy and the least realistic part. There's that word again. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means, says Inigo, and he's not wrong. There's nothing realistic about this. Let's just say it's the least, um, reasonable? part...

All in all, I'm not sad that Sieg is what I wound up spending part of my monthly pass on. But I seriously don't believe that he's 30, no matter what his profile says.

The Royal Trap

Awhile back I picked up a game on Steam that was on sale that I'd had on my wishlist called The Royal Trap: The Confines of the Crown. I was reasonably excited about it as it looked to have a pretty feisty MC -- accomplished, brave, loyal, kick ass, etc. etc. Then I made the mistake of reading just one more review...and it completely dampened my enthusiasm. So I let the game sit. I should know better and form my own opinions, but reviews can be helpful at times...anyway...(if you happen to have stumbled upon this, fair warning that it will be very spoiler-y from here on out)...

I finally decided to play a route and see. The story is that you play Madeleine Valois, a well-born but low level aristocrat (due to her being a younger sister), who has been working as a personal companion/valet/protector to a young prince named Oscar. Her job is to protect him, prepare him for his life of rule, and to help him find a suitable bride. In this fantasy world, queens are apparently known as Wisdoms and the line of succession is passed down through them. As a prince, it's Oscar's job to find a wife that will accept him and give him her kingdom. It's kinda weird -- on the one hand, women have a lot of power due to succession, but on the other hand, they don't as it seems like they aren't allowed to rule on their own. Anyway, Madeleine and Oscar are newly arrived at in the kingdom of Gwellinor where he's to meet Princess Cassidy (along with a few other prospective suitors).

Sharing a moment with Oscar in the forest...
Herein is my first quibble with the game. Oscar loves you already. And you, apparently, also have feelings for him but feel you can't possibly act on them because of your situation. It seems an odd place to start off an otome where you can romance other characters, no? Because even if you decide to go the route where you gently turn him down, that's still there in the background and in your heart and, at least to me, colours the entire fabric of the game. You love him. So how do you then go on to find love with someone else within the short time frame of the game when you've spent your entire life up until this point with him?? He is one of the romanceable characters, of course. It would have been better if you'd just been friends all this time and, through the events that occur during the story, you fall in love for the first time. Incidentally, I did choose Oscar for my first run through as it seemed like an appropriate character choice.

Getting on with it...Oscar and Cassidy seem to hit it off and Maddie is a bit jealous but holding it together. Then something crazy happens -- the Princess is kidnapped and they think Oscar had something to do with it! Now it's up to you to help clear your names and recover the princess.

You quickly combine forces -- not sure how different choices work out, but in my case, we wound up working with Callum, Princess Cassidy's brother. And here's where the review I'd read comes in to play. Basically, it said that the "royal trap" is that Cassidy is NOT a girl and is, in fact, another son dressed up like a girl -- a trans person, sort of, as she/he didn't have any choice in the matter as it was forced upon her/him by the King and Queen to make up for a daughter that died. Cassidy was kept isolated to the point that she/he doesn't even know the difference between men and women. The person who wrote the review was offended that trans people were treated in this way and that it was considered a "trap" and I absolutely do understand where they are coming from if that was the case. It's using it as a punchline. I can't get behind that. I've got a couple of friends who are transitioning right now and it's nothing funny. It's hard and lonely but also exciting and fulfilling. It's not a joke. And, as I was going through the story, I was indeed very worried about the review being right because Callum, in fact, was the one who originally kidnapped his sister/brother(?) because he himself believes that Cassidy is his brother and not his sister. Then someone else kidnapped her again and thus the race to save her/him.

However, there's no judgement from him about her/him possibly being trans, though there are some uncomfortable almost joke-y bits when they rescue her and Callum makes his claims, to the consternation of Cassidy, who is very confused. So, on the one hand, the review was sort of right. But, on the other, it wasn't quite so anti-trans as they'd written up. Anyway, moving on...by the end, it doesn't even seem like Cassidy is the brother as it seems like they sort-of prove that she is a girl (?). And, in Oscar's bad end if you give him up, it sounds like he marries her. So...? I'm a little confused about this as the review made it sound like Cassidy definitely WAS the brother and not the sister. But it didn't seem like it turned out that way in the route I took. But it may be that it works out differently in another route? I dunno.

I did finish Oscar's good/romantic end and the bad end. In the good one, Maddie receives her own income/property/land/title from the King and Queen for her role in saving Princess Cassidy and, with that, is able to ask Oscar to marry her. Which he does, happily. In the bad, she gives him up to Princess Cassidy instead and they part on bad terms.

So...I suppose I'd say that I wish I hadn't read that review because it definitely affected my enjoyment of the game and while I think it had valid points, it doesn't seem (at least through the one playthrough I've done), that it was altogether correct. But I may have to do Callum's route to really see as there's lots of leftover mystery plot-y bits that weren't explained in Oscar's route.

Those curls. It's not as bad in the CGs as it is with
the sprites, but let's just say...ugh.
To sum up...things I liked...the art is great (except for Gaston, one of the (not exactly) romanceable characters who is just...ridiculous-looking). Maddie is a great character and she truly does kick butt. The storyline/plot was pretty good and looks to be good for re-playability and other routes. Oscar was a sweetheart. Callum seems like he has depth. The King and Queen...er...it is unclear, at this point, what their motivation is and, depending on how further routes play out, this is either an interesting thing or an oversight.

Music is okay. Opening song is nice. I keep coming back to Maddie. She's the best part of the game. She's a good character.

So...I guess overall I'm leaning 70/30? And I won't know for sure my feelings on it until I've done some more routes. But I would say it's a game that's generally worth it and well done. I rather hope the Cassidy thing is explained well in Callum's route (or someone's anyway--that whole thing about the King beating Callum when he was young and keeping Cassidy away from the rest of her family is just weird). As Callum was locked at the start, it seems like he's probably the end game. Not sure if I want to save him for last though...and, at the same time, not sure I want to play some of the other routes at all (Gaston seems to be that foppish sort of fool that puts my teeth on edge, Nazagi looks like a tsundere pretty far on the jerky side, and then there's Dolores and I find her unattractive AND pretty unredeemable as a character so I don't see why the staunch and upright MC would go for her). So we'll see. I'll update this later once I've played some more.

Gritty eyes

The hubster had been sick with the man flu for the past week or so and I thought I had escaped it but now I think I'm coming down with it. And he's still a bit sick but off to Phoenix for a week long business trip. Just me and the little dude at home. The weather today is actually beautiful but I am DRAGGING. There's no get up and go in me at all.

I was hoping to join a gym this week (there's one at a local hotel/conference centre that also gives you access to the pool, which Max would like) but I'm not sure if it would be a good idea or not. My eyes feel gritty and gooey. Nose, slightly runny. Tummy, not entirely copacetic. I don't think I've got it bad as yet, but it's definitely the start of something unpleasant.

And the friend I was thinking I'd meet in London today is busy, so there's no real reason for me to go in...and no motivation to do so. I might take a nap. Kinda feel like I need a nap. It's only 10:30. Urgh.

Anyway. There's been no point to this blog post. So might as well talk about my obsessions, right?

So. I'd been doing Jaehee's route in Mystic Messenger. I'd gotten up to Day 8. I even managed to get on her route without using hourglasses. Whew. Then we had a busy weekend where I couldn't play at all, so I saved, meaning to go back to it. 10 days later, still hadn't done it. Wasn't missing it. Just can't get excited about her (and the "friendship" only option, not that I find her at all attractive but at least there'd be some kind of higher stakes then) and Jumin's such an ass in her route. Opened it yesterday, thinking maybe I'd just pick it up and let it go to a bad end just to get an ending and then go back to the save file and power on through to the good/normal ends. But...omg I'm so not enthused about it. I wish MM had an option where you could just skip through the chats without letting them play through. I don't even really want to read all the ones I missed as I know I'm going to go back and do the route properly anyway. I got through a few of them yesterday, letting them play out, and I guess I'll try again today while I'm writing here. But...meh. I'd rather go back and play Yoosung and that's saying something. I should finish it at this point, though, since I'm so close to the end.

Other than that, continuing on with a number of other otome games and apps. Mostly Ninja Shadow (I know Sanosuke's route is coming soon with a special event, so I'm doing part of Nobu's route knowing that I'll bail in the middle of it to do the event), Love Tangle (still collecting gems for when I do Timo's route...currently working on Dean, who isn't bad), Blood & Roses (Still on Finn...and boy, the "vampire hunter" is SO much better than the witch, though, let's be honest, the writing isn't that strong with this app), Guard Me Sherlock (which I'm not sure why I tried, I guess I was bored...but mostly I'm finding it really annoying for many reasons, some of which I'll write up in a review later), Ikemen Sengoku (got through two of the Nobunaga special event things but have given up on doing more because the glamour requirements stuff is just insane...so now back to Hideyoshi as I'd like to finish his route sometime this century but I keep getting interrupted by special events), and Midnight Cinderella (ditto on the special event things...seriously, they do too many of them...still slowly making my way through Nico's main story. Underwhelmed.). Oh, and Love 365. This month I wasn't able to finish the free one...some story involving a doctor bent on revenge and nothing about it grabbed me. But I actually did do some other bits with my monthly pass. Will write that up later.

Er, that's a lot, huh?  Too much, really. They don't take much time individually but it does add up. Welp. Maybe I'll catch up on the reviews I need to do while I let the MM Jaehee chats play out towards a bad end...

EDIT: Yeesh. So I let all those chats play out. And it wound up as 33% on Day 8, 0% on Day 9, and 9% on Day 10. I thought for SURE I would get a bad end but NO. Even with just 16 guests, I wound up making it through the break point AND the party and got Jaehee's freaking good end. Now I don't know if I should bother going back to read the chats that I just let play through or just leave it. And I don't really have any particular drive to go back and play the last couple of days for real to get, I guess, the normal end. Bleh. Maybe I'll just do the after ending stuff and leave it at that. So annoyed. What do you have to do to get a bad end here???

Clean Freak

Here's another sort of (sort of? haha) odd anime that the little dude and I have started watching. Depending on the translation, it's either Clean Freak Aoyama Kun or Cleanliness Boy! Aoyama Kun but the original Japanese is Keppeki Danshi Aoyama Kun.

So, there's a football (soccer) prodigy named Aoyama. He's also a germaphobe to the point he can't stand people touching him and can't eat out in restaurants, etc. and spends about half his time cleaning things. He's a bit taciturn and doesn't speak much, but that doesn't stop nearly everyone from being his fan. Like, seriously. He has a fan club. He's played on the national team.

In fact, many people wonder what he's doing at Fujima High when he could be at a better football school to improve his chances at a professional career as the team at Fujima is mostly comprised of complete screw ups. Generally nice screw ups, but screw ups nonetheless. So, why is he there? Er...the toilets. The school has those fancy toilets that clean your bum...

There's a cast of odd characters -- a girl who has loved Aoyama since they were young, even though they've barely said a few words to each other. Of course, he barely says any words to anyone, so that's not necessarily a deterrent. She's a bit mad and will do anything to protect him, including carrying around a baseball bat decorated with nails and kawai stickers of kitties. And a rich/yakuza(?) kid who loves football and calls his scary father "daddy" but is a pretty decent guy. A tall busty girl who is unfailingly kind that Aoyama, bewilderingly, can stand being touched by to everyone's surprise (though he doesn't seem to have romantic feelings for her -- he's just excited to be able to actually high five someone). And some three stooges-like characters, including one who has a talent for bouncing the football on his butt. Yeah.

There's more, but let's just say that they are all kinda weird characters. However, the nice thing about this anime is that each episode isn't necessarily focused on Aoyama. It's more of an ensemble thing. One, for instance, focuses on "four eyes" (the dude who likes to make people laugh by doing keepie uppies with the ball with his butt) when they wind up playing against a team that includes the guy who bullied him relentlessly through his younger years. He falls apart but -- and here's why I like Aoyama -- rather than the star of the team just tearing it up on his own, he holds back and encourages four eyes like a real team player, even though it's potentially damaging to his own career if the guy can't buck up. In fact, Aoyama is honest and trustworthy to a fault -- he's clean all the way through. He doesn't like dirty tricks any more than he likes dirt.

Kind of a nice message, I suppose. And there's so much weird to the situations they get in, which little dude loves. Glad to find another one we can watch together. Other than a couple of slightly dodgy but mostly innocent-ish boob shots of the one girl, there's nothing here that's not okay. But, man, the Japanese really have an obsession with boobage, don't they? Or is it just otaku that do? I dunno. It's forgivable here, I guess, as it isn't too gratuitous and works for the character and is just the one girl rather than a bevy of buxom beauties.

We'll probably finish it this week, since the hubster is away on a business trip and that means we can watch anime over dinner...

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Tanaka-kun

Little dude and I just finished another anime show that we both loved called Tanaka-kun is Always Listless. I'd had it on my Crunchroll list for a while but hadn't tried it. Honestly, it sounded odd. Not that I don't like odd. Odd is life. Basically, it's about a boy who is...listless. All he wants to do is sleep. He barely has the energy to walk.

Sounds...weird, right? It's actually really charming. You have Ohta, his tall and slightly scary looking friend (who loves sweets and is scared of ghosts and is happy doing housework), who carries him around. Literally. You have Miyano, the effervescent bubbly teensy little thing, who wants to appear more grown up and mature but can't because she's about as big as I was when I was that age. Echizen, Ohta's childhood friend, who wants to act like a juvenile delinquent but is actually really sweet. And Shiraishi, the smart, popular girl who's secret is that she tries really, really hard to appear that way, when inside she's not nearly so confident and doesn't even think that she's pretty. And two little sisters. Tanaka-kun's little sister is my only quibble with the show at all, as she's got that onii-chan hang up that annoys me.

It's another slice of life type show where not really a lot happens (though more than Tanaka wishes would, as he'd rather life be perfectly uneventful). The characters are generally charming and sweet. I love the art style as well. And love to hear the little dude giggling at it. Most of the dramatic tension is built on misunderstandings, but it's all easily resolved (other than Shiraishi's crush on Tanaka) and funny.

We're going to look for the books now as neither one of us want it to be over. :-)

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

And...again

So I'd sent off the last round of changes to my agent on the one middle grade manuscript before we went on holiday to Florida. I hadn't heard anything, so I sent him an email on Friday to ask for a status update (assuming he'd sent it on to the editor that had asked to see it) but I heard back from him today that he's got another round of changes he wants done before he wants to send it off again. Probably about 2 or 3 days worth of work on it, but urgh, if he'd let me know earlier, it would've been done by now. So that's this afternoon and the next two days sorted, I suppose. Most of it is fine. One bit is a wee bit annoying as he's having me change the gender of one character back to what I had it as originally...so, yeah. I like him a lot but it does seem like he's sometimes very busy and/or easily distracted.

It'll be okay. Just a little frustrating.

On the other mg fantasy, I think we're giving up on the one publisher (for this book, anyway) that kept asking for loads of changes (more changes than I'd ever had anyone ask for before a contract). But now I need to finish rippling through the good changes they asked for before we can send it out to anyone else. So that'll be the next thing. I was holding off until I got a kind of definite answer as, if they did pick it up, I didn't want to have re-do bits as they seem quite picky.

In positive news, someone bought a wand in my Etsy store today. They contacted me last night asking what I had already made up and I sent a picture and they wanted one. So I mailed that off today. I haven't actually done any active stuff in the shop in months and months -- the only thing still listed is for custom wands -- so that was a welcome bit of something in an otherwise grey day. Maybe I should list the handful of complete ones I have when I get a chance. I just hadn't bothered even thinking about it.

...And dropped little dude off at 3:30 am this morning for him to jet off to Vienna for a school trip (where, happily, it is sunnier and warmer). Jealous! I've never been there. He's going to have an amazing time. It's the first time he's been out of the country without one of us with him, so it is freaking me out just a tiny bit. Glad the school is posting lots of pictures!

I never had cool stuff like that when I was little. Of course, I grew up dead poor and in the US in a backwater part of the country, so it's not a surprise. I'm glad we can do things for him that neither one of us had growing up. It still feels unreal sometimes. I'm still the person that will shop for my clothes in a thrift store/charity shop. Sometimes it feels really strange when I'm out there chatting with the other mums and they are talking about designer this and ski chalet that and I'm, like, yeah, I got this dress for £5 at Oxfam...

I don't know that I'll ever adjust. And if the hubby's business stuff goes the way it's supposed to hopefully go, in a few years we could be doing really, really well. I can't even imagine it, honestly.

Oh! Did have one more good bit of news. The publisher of my third book has told me that they've (finally) sold through the hardcovers and are going to issue a paperback of it. AND they are planning on doing a new cover (the original cover wasn't all that well received, though the reviews were good). That'll be in September. I sent over a few ideas. Excited to see what they come up with. It's definitely good news as that's probably my fav book out of the ones I've written and it's really struggled in the market. Hardly any stores stocked it, though it seems like it did okay in libraries. A good cover can make a difference. Crossing fingers...