Sunday, March 27, 2011

National Kite Festival...

...postponed due to the weather. Awww. It actually turned out to be sunny and not too cold this afternoon, so I got a chance to test out my kites in the back yard (there's just enough space if one is careful about it). Both of them flew, yay!

Here's my younger daughter with one of the kites:

Sakura kite 2011

The theme this year was "spring and blossom-inspired kites". For once I made an attempt to follow the theme (that's supposed to be a cherry blossom design, damn it! Even if it is completely invisible once the thing is in the sky.) (In 2009 I went with a Dalek kite. Heh. Well. It was one of the usual shiny-wrapping-paper diamond/square thingies I always make, as those are reliable flyers and not hard to make. I just glued on a drawing of a Dalek. Also invisible once it was in the sky!)

Ok, then. Back to writing I go. I need to finish the story before the next season of Doctor Who begins, or it'll be even more hopeless. I'm such a slacker. I should be more inspired by the example set by Diana Wynne Jones, who was apparently writing just about up to the day she died... R.I.P., DWJ. We'll miss you. :(

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I feel like a vulture...

...picking over the dying Borders bookstore. Wah. It was my favorite local bookstore, and the main reason my family ever went to that mall. (A mall which as a whole seems to be dying a slow death, too, sadly.) I suppose I'm part of the problem: nowadays I buy at least half my books online (many of them used). But I still prefer a bookstore I can physically walk through for browsing and buying random items that catch my eye.

So, I've been going every week or so, picking out a few books to take home with me. I find that I have much less patience these days to read novels (especially not big long epic ones), so mostly I end up with fluffy nonfiction books (preferably written by a scientist/doctor/engineer/whatever as opposed to a journalist).

Today's catch:

The Food of a Younger Land (Mark Kurlansky)
I really liked Kurlansky's book Cod, and enjoyed some of the others, so this looked promising. I also vaguely remembered reading a review of this book in the Washington Post, so...hmm... I did always wonder what Americans ate in the old days when food was a local thing. (I remember years ago I read some old book about turtles where they talked about eating them as if it was common! Well, who knows?)
Survival of the Sickest (Dr. Sharon Moalem)
Subtitled "The surprising connections between disease and longevity". They had lots of them at the store. I'm not sure how "surprising" it will be to me, but it looked like a fun book. It was on sale! It should help me design my next generation of vampires and werewolves. (Remember, in my world, vampirism is caused by mutant magical parasitical worms.)
The Island of the Colorblind (Oliver Sacks)
I've always enjoyed Oliver Sacks' books. This one is from 1996, but I don't have it in my collection. I do now! Ha ha! Anyway, obWriting: this kind of thing helps me think about how aliens might be alien (mentally and in their perceptions). Also about how in the future humans might meddle with their own minds. Or how you might design AIs. Etc.
Quirkology (Richard Wiseman, Ph.D)
Subtitled "How we discover the big truths in small things". Is this trying to capitalize on the popularity of "Freakonomics"? Still, I do have a weakness for psychologist-magicians, so there we go. Humans! Ha ha! Silly creatures. So yeah...this is the first one I'm actually reading!

Once I finish these books I'll get back to writing. (Ha ha ha ha ha! Shyeah, right. Ok, I did do a bit yesterday, but now I need to start a new chapter and I'm not sure what happens in it, so I stopped writing. Um. Later.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My story never writes itself

It's so annoying. I'm jealous of all those people out there who seem able to go into the "zone" and feel that their stories are flowing freely...just about writing themselves!

For me, it's like pulling teeth. Every single time. I wrote a bit this morning, but only got about 300 words done. I mean, I like to have written stuff, it's cool, and keeps me motivated (if I keep at this, I'll have some stories to show for it). But now, NOW I am hating having to think of what words to type next. "Now" may not actually exist and be purely an illusion, but that's how our minds work, so it's "now" that I am wasting words on this blog and not putting them in my novel. Hrmph.

Maybe it's just me trying too hard to write a "wuxia anime" fantasy thing. The Doctor Who stories were so much easier to do. (I just don't really WANT to write a ton of DW stuff. Come on. I'm American. Of course, you could say the same about the "wuxia anime", but hey, at least I don't have to worry about trying to sound British!) On second thoughts, the non-"wuxia anime" non-DW stories aren't any easier. I'm just grasping at straws.

Here's one of my "wuxia anime" confrontations. Can you count the cliches? Also, yes, I am very literal-minded.


A cold fog lay draped over the folds of the hidden Shambhalan mountains. Chola could smell the wet green of new leaves. Somewhere in the fog, he could hear a creek trickling past.

Somewhere in the mud and the fog, he knew he would meet those he had come to meet.

Somewhere in the fog, he heard the soft pip-pip of frogs. The sound echoed in his mind, shaped a name, a name he had tasted many long years ago. Chola stopped walking. He unsheathed his deathblade and held it before him.

"So the Blind Frogmaker walks this world still!" Chola sent his challenge into the fog.

The frogs fell silent.

A shape formed in the fog: gray and hairless, long-limbed, stooped. It was naked except for a ragged white loincloth. Eyeless sockets turned towards Chola. "The Carrion Bear. Fancy meeting you here."

"It's not you I've come to meet," said Chola.

"Of course not," hissed the other. "No one ever wants to see the Blind Frogmaker. Not this ugly thing, when there are so many more pleasant things to rest your eyes on. Oh no. But it's me here, nevertheless. Here to tell you: don't look for a welcome. You will find none."

"Where is she?" asked Chola. He had no patience to waste on the Frogmaker's self-pity or resentment.

"She doesn't need you," said the gray figure. "She doesn't need you, and she doesn't want you. Go away while you can!"

"Let her tell me that herself," said Chola. He sensed the shift of energy around him, but made no response. Not yet.

"You don't deserve even a single word from her lips!" The chorus of frogs had started up again, louder than before. To Chola's ears, they seemed to be shouting curses.

"That's for her to decide," said Chola. "Lady Bloodless! Call off your pet before he ends up skewered over an open fire!"

"You think it's so easy?" sneered the other.

"I already know," said Chola. "Guard yourself!" He leaped upwards, slashing all around him with the deathblade. Gray strands fell away in every direction.

His trap dismantled, the Blind Frogmaker grunted and flew back, using a hand and a foot to catapult himself into a tree. From his other hand, a shower of fist-sized frogs shot towards Chola.

Chola reacted instantly, severing each frog before it could reach him, taking care not to let the venomous blood drip on him. Just as he was about to launch his counterattack, he heard slow applause from behind him.

"The Carrion Bear is the Carrion Bear," said a woman's voice.

"My lady!" The Blind Frogmaker dropped from the tree and went down on one knee, lifting his hands and cupping them in respectful greeting. "The Frogmaker has offended you."

Chola lowered the falchion and turned, careful to keep the Frogmaker in his field of view.

The woman was a stranger to him, yet he recognized the mind behind the face. "Lady Bloodless."

She smiled. Without taking her eyes off Chola, she said, "There's no need for hostility. We're all friends here."

"Friends?" said Chola.

"Frogmaker, aren't you going to thank our friend for destroying Heartless Killer Achamo and avenging your son?" said the woman, not bothering to even look at the kneeling figure.

Chola's jaw tightened. You have no proof, he thought. Though he kept the thought to himself, she clearly read it in his expression.

"Who else could it be?" The woman laughed lightly. "How could anyone else have killed her if you had chosen to guard her? You would not be standing here today. There would have been two dead bodies on Stone Monkey Mountain."

Chola had no answer for her.

"So you killed her, or you abandoned her," spat the Frogmaker. "Faithless or gutless, I name you."

"Yet you owe him," said the woman. "Whatever the circumstance."

"So be it," said the Frogmaker. He lifted his face towards Chola. "This debt I will repay!"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gah, it's turning into a soap opera

A cliche-ridden soap opera, at that. Well, this is what I get for being bad at plotting. I end up just doing the cliched thing to keep the story going. (Let's not think about is-there-anything-I'm-actually-good-at...I'd just get depressed.)

So after thinking about what the heck is going on in my story, I realized that oh, so the Blind Frogmaker is in love with Lady Bloodless (she has that effect on people), while the only one Lady Bloodless likes is the Bear (Chola). (And of course the only one he likes is Nyima, but she's confused and all that, so...) So now we can have the cliche plot element where the spurned lover is captured by the enemy, turns traitor to save his own skin and to get at his rival and ex-love interest. Woot. I was wondering how they ended up being captured. Now we know.

I also know when: it's just when Chola and Lady Bloodless were about to gate off into hell and it looks like Nyima and Chola are about to be separated forever. (Yeah, another cliche.)

And it seems the Bastard's been busy. He's apparently invented some kind of anti-demon taser-like device. Ha ha!

Anyway, that solves the problem of what I'm going to write for the next few days. (Made a small start today, hope to get more done tomorrow.) As to what happens AFTER that...I'll think harder about that once we get there.