Friday, March 30, 2012

Winner of the Critique Contest

As some of you may recall, I held a 20 page critique contest (raffle, really) in honor of 200 posts! Although only a few people entered (and thank you to all that entered! I didn't expect anybody to, bwahaha.) that's still a few enough to have us a raffle! So the tickets were counted, the numbers were shuffled, and the randomizer decided that the winner was...

Morgan B.

...as the winner! 

Congrats Morgan! I'll be asking for your 20 pages for critiquing in the coming days! Thanks again to all those who entered, and who knows! Maybe for #300 I'll actually have something to give away! Bwaha.

No Friday Flash this week. Sorry~

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hubpages Wednesday: More Japan! More Music! More Japanese music!

I write about Japan and music and Japanese music a lot. It's kinda my ~thing~.

Anyway, two hubs for you this week! First one is a review of Ayumi Hamasaki's latest album called Party Queen It's mostly a favorable review so I suggest going to check it out and getting some new music - it's a track by track review with Youtube links to each track (assuming the non music video ones aren't taken down soon...sigh.)

Number two is the second part of my Living in Japan series, and is called How to Use the Post Office in Japan. Cause you might need to know some day.

That's all for this week!


Monday, March 26, 2012

A Very Special Hubpages Monday: What the heck is it anyway?

c. Hubpages
Seeing as how it's Monday and I can post whatever I damn well please on Mondays, I've decided to sit and squee about how much money I'm making on Hubpages lately. No, I'm not making hundreds, even dozens of dollars a day. But so far for the month of March I've made $2.02. Last month I made $0.82. The month before that? About 30 cents.

You see what I'm getting at here.

While I don't hold any delusions that I'll keep doubling my income on the site every month (payout is $50), there's a few things to keep in mind.

1) I wrote my first hub the day after Christmas.
2) It's been three months now.
3) I'm making money that actually adds up.

My goal is to hit monthly payout (that's $50 a month) by the end of the year. Will I make it? We'll find out. Right now I'm focusing on putting out more (quality) hubs and continuing to research SEO.

Well this is all well and good, but I'm sure by now most of your eyes are glazing over and going "wait, what?"

If you've been following me for a while, you know that every Wednesday I post an ad for my latest hubs. I mostly write about music, video games, and living in Japan. Right now my most acclaimed hub is one about the Legend of Zelda Timeline (which today became the highest ranking hub in the Adventure Video Games category!) and my most popular one by views is the first installment of my J-pop Oldies Idols series. There are people who are making more than me by this point, but there are way more people making less or nothing.

Hubpages is a freelance writing website. You sign up, write articles, and get paid by either ad clicks (Google Adsense) or ad views (Hubpages Ad Program). You can write about anything you want with the stipulation that it falls under specific guidelines (Hubpages is actively family friendly~) and that it's *original content*...you can write about the same topic as somebody else, but it has to be "original". As in, you can't just copy and paste from somewhere...including your own works! Anything you post at HP has to be there only. If you want to transfer, say, relevant blog posts, you'll have to delete them off Blogger first.

Writing articles is only half the battle though. You have to make sure they're appealing, well-researched, formatted nicely, and use the right keywords to attract a good Google ranking (you mostly get paid via visitors from Google searches). This includes building backlinks and generally advertising your hubs in relevant places. Not only do they give you more exposure, but they can help you rank higher as well.

Obviously like anything else, it's not a get rich quick scheme. You have to actually enjoy writing about things you love to eventually start to see earnings. =P And while I can't buy more than a couple candy bars a month with my earnings, that's still two more candy bars than I had at Christmas. And now I finally have a place to post my music reviews and video game ramblings and make a profit off them without much work.

My eventual goal is to hopefully make some decent passive income off this site. If I could even pay one bill from my monthly earnings, then I say it's an investment well done.

Anybody else on HP? Thinking about joining?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekly Writing Check-In: Chapter 8, why.

Had a fairly busy week again, but I still managed to sneak in some editing and writing time...somewhere. Anyway, I'm Chapter 8 now, and when I opened it it was 35 pages and 20k words. WELL OKAY THEN. I think that's the record for this novel. I mean, I write long chapters as it is anyway, but even for me this is kinda ridiculous. I'm almost through and have it down to a whole spankin' 34 pages (on the readthrough, i'm sure it'll go down further once I hit search and destroy mode) but I'm laughing to myself. It's taking a whole week to edit this chapter. At least it's mostly dialogue!

That's all for this week, really, but I guess I'll throw a question in here anyway to make it more worth your time: What's the longest chapter you've ever written? Aaaaand go!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Survey Time! Did you hire a professional editor before self-publishing?

...Well, just as the subject says. I know that  vast amounts of you use beta readers, but I rarely see talk about hiring professional editors (who are quite expensive, of course) before taking the self-publishing plunge. So my curiosity is going lyke w0. Feel free to say whether yes or no in the comments.

Did you hire a professional editor before self-publishing anything?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Flash: The Color Yellow

Hey everyone! Time to bust another one of these out. (What? It's called "flash" for a reason, right?) Well, I had intended to write Red Scare, Pt II for this week, but it's turning out longer than I anticipated and I don't have enough time to finish / edit it. So instead you get this little piece I wrote a few days ago. It's based on a prompt from Flash Fiction 365 @ tumblr. But if nothing else, it features the same character that Red Scare, Pt II includes, soooo that's something, right?

Also, we're time-warping back to 1979.

(Over 1k words, written in about an hour.)

---

Amongst anything else - flowers, dresses, plastic jewelry, Crayons in a box - the color yellow was nothing special. It was a nice enough accent color, but the era had taken it to ridiculous extremes via paint pallets and upholstery.  It also reminded one of dinner soup come back to haunt in the middle of the night.

But that day…

That day yellow was beautiful.

At six years old Miranda had no real opinion about most colors – not like her peers at the kindergarten, who rolled around in blues and pinks and fought over red glitter and purple crayons. Of course, she had her supposed favorite of the day, a deep orange so thick in its own hue that it turned sienna in the summer light. She wore it on her jumper and in the ribbons in her hair, against her mother’s better judgment (“Why do you like such boring colors? Boring colors for a boring girl. You look like a street dog in that color.”) and her teacher’s frustration since it made little Miranda blend in too well with the paint on the walls.

But yellow was beautiful.

Her classmates were all like her:  either a mix of Caucasian or not all. The local Asian population was at its thickest in that area, and a mixture of Mandarin, Laotian, Vietnamese and some Korean babbled in the air during drop-off and pickup times. There was one other child who was part Japanese like Miranda, a boy whose parents forbade him from speaking their natural language. Her mother had futilely arranged play dates between the two children in the morbid hope that they would get engaged before primary school.
Little George was currently stuffing another boy’s face in the sandbox while Miranda clung to the wall, alone. Her eyes flitted between her supposed fiancé and the new girl who brought with her the color yellow.
Susie was also part Asian, but the genetic randomizer had bestowed upon her a happy head of blond from her white father’s side. The color pouring from her scalp was so vibrant that it was the definition of the color yellow.

It was beautiful.

Somebody chided Miranda for staring at the new girl. When she denied it, the child went and told Susie. Miranda turned and shoved her face in the corner before her cheeks could pinken.

“Hey, are you Miranda?” Susie’s voice sounded like sharpened chalk on metal. Miranda flinched and craned her head over her shoulder – she forgave Susie for the vocal oversight the moment she saw the lovely blond hair.

“Yeah. Why?”

Susie kicked her feet and grinned. “They said you were staring at me.”
 
“No I wasn’t!”

 “Why are you staring at me? Are you weird?”

Miranda bowed her head. “You’re pretty.”

“Thanks! You’re pretty too!”

Susie could say that so candidly – why was Miranda so shy to admit it herself? “Do you wanna play?”

“Sure!”

They took off for another corner where a pile of blocks were abandoned. Together they built themselves a nice colorful castle and decorated the ramparts with tiny plastic soldiers. Miranda babbled about defensive tactics while Susie gaped at how it all flew over her own head. While Miranda put all the soldiers into formation, Susie took a blue ribbon out of her hair and strung it around the base of the castle as a makeshift moat.

It was a decent castle by any other kindergarten’s standards, and other children stopped by to admire it…or threaten it as the kingdom dragon, as it were. One particularly young girl took a soldier out of Miranda’s hands and sucked on it before giving it back. Miranda sneered and threw it at the back of the girl’s head.

“Miranda!” chided the nearest teacher. “Don’t throw things!”

Miranda hunkered down near her and Susie’s castle. From that moment the teacher hovered near them, although her attention was constantly taken by George’s bullying of the other boys.

“All right. That’s it. Playtime’s over,” she finally announced. “Clean up!”

Susie slammed a hand against the castle and watched it fall with delight. Miranda merely stared at the colors falling around her, each block crushing a tiny soldier against the brown carpet. Something lurched inside her stomach in agony.

Susie’s hair brushing against her forehead made her stomach lurch in something else.

“Where’s my ribbon?” Susie’s voice snapped Miranda out of her sickening trance.

“Here it is.” She reached out and picked up the ribbon from the pile of blocks.

“Thanks. Can you tie it for me? My mom always does it for me.”

“I guess…”

Susie gathered her hair on the side of her head and gestured for Miranda to approach with the ribbon. With the rabble of a scrambled clean up going on around them, Miranda took the ribbon and began to tie it in an acceptable loop around Susie’s yellow locks. A tear emerged at the edge of her eye as she felt each thick strand between her fingers.

“Oh! Are you okay? Why are you crying?” Susie pulled herself away and finished her hair on her own.

“I’m not crying…”

“You’re crying! You are weird!”

“It’s just…your hair is so pretty.”

“My hair?”

“Yes. I like the color a lot.”

“It’s just hair…you’ve seen yellow hair before, right?”

“Maybe.”

“You’re so weird.”

They stared at each other, Miranda’s eyes watering while Susie’s blinked in bemusement. Miranda reached out and took her new friend’s hand.

“You’ll be my friend?”

Susie shrugged. “I guess so. But you are weird.”

“Thanks.”

“Don’t say thanks to that!” Susie yanked her hand away. “Weirdo.”

“Can I kiss you?”

“What?!”

Miranda pointed her chin down and pretended she couldn’t see anything. “My cousin says you should kiss people you think are pretty.”

“But girls don’t kiss other girls!”

“Why?”

“I…I don’t know why…they just don’t!”

“Why can’t I kiss you?”

“Because it’s weird, you weirdo!”

“Would you kiss me if I were a boy?”

“Ew! No way! That’s gross!”

“Then why not kiss me?”

Susie finally relented. Besides, she later said, she needed the practice. And since boys were so gross, why not kiss a girl instead? And thus she let Miranda lean in and peck her on the lips while the kindergarten cleaned itself around them.

For centuries artists have tried to capture the innocence of a child’s kiss; for centuries adults have had heart attacks over them.

Miranda!” The teacher swept in and pulled them apart. “Susie! What are you doing?!”

She addressed both of them, but it was Miranda she had her firm hands clasped upon. “We were kissing…”

“I could see that! That’s disgusting!”

“No it’s not!”

“Come here!” The teacher yanked Miranda away and towards the telephone in the back office.
When Miranda’s mother arrived, it was more of the same she always heard. “Unnatural child!” “Has no morals!” “What kind of family do you keep at home?” “This is the second time!”

“My daughter is quite sick,” Miranda’s mother responded via her sister-in-law’s translation. “I’ve disciplined her several times about this.” “I was hoping it was just a tainted American phase but she can’t get rid of it.” “I will punish her again.” “This is unacceptable, I agree.” “I’m so sorry.” She even bowed at the end.

And when Susie’s mother came, nothing changed. “What?!” “What kind of place is this?!” “Is this what goes on here?!” “Do not make my daughter a homosexual!” “I can’t stand a place like this!” “We’re leaving!”

She took Susie with her, and the little blond girl never returned. When Miranda went home that night, she was quite righteously punished by her disgusted and enraged mother. The shrieking was the same as always, and the spanking didn’t even hurt after a while. The worst part was when she went to the phone and called George’s mother, insisting on another play date.

But George would never do. No boy would ever do. The feelings inside Miranda – that she would have no words to describe until she was of age – were there, steadfast in her heart, and imprinted on her memory. No girl would be as pretty as Susie, the little girl with yellow hair.

Until she met the next one.

And the next one.

And finally the last one.

Because the color yellow was so beautiful.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hubpages Wednesday: All Hail the Queen

To celebrate over nine years of me stannin' the crap out of this amazing woman, I bring you Ayumi Hamasaki: The Queen of Japanese Pop Music. Don't let her initial squeaky vocals fool you - not only is she the most successful female singer in the history of Japan, she's also incredibly thoughtful, talented, and omg gorgeous brilliant. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Want some new music? Why not give her a shot?


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SUPER AWESOME 200TH ENTRY PARTY POST!!!

Well, look at what time it is again! How about that! It's time for another party post to celebrate this blog's 200th entry! Hard to believe that the last one was just in September. In fact, it's almost been exactly six months. Does that mean we'll be having a party post every six months? Maybe! Who cares! More gifs and stat fun! There's also a contest at the end of this post, so stick around!

That's right Pikachu. That's right.







 Since last making a party post, a couple things have changed in this blog. First, which most people probably never noticed, I've stopped mirroring posts at Livejournal. It was just too annoying. Yup. Second, I have over 110 followers! Awesome! I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my entries and even comment on them. What's the point of talking to myself?

I've also started posting on a more regular schedule, as can be seen on the right. Oh, but you don't care about that. Before getting to contest crap, you're here to read about my wonky-ass stats.

Y'all are creepers.
At the time of posting this entry I currently have over 220,000 views. Now, before y'all go willy-wally on me and start asking me "WHAT'S YOUR SECRET?" and "GURL ADSENSE THIS PLACE UP" I think we should talk about where all (or about 95%) of these views are coming from.

Blogger says:

COUNTRIES:

Ukraine
4,413
Russia
3,270
Germany
1,256
United States
1,025
Latvia
493
United Kingdom
454

China
388


lol gonna just stop there. You can already guess what's going on. Bots love my ass. Either that or I am a god in Latvia and nobody's informed me.
REMEMBER OJ SIMPSON?
 But nobody actually cares about the bots that plague my place and thus would never click on Adsense ads (crying shame. Because I obviously want to bombard all my human readers with ads.) Nope. Time to check out search terms! There's some really  good ones in here this time!

fantasy maps - 4
how much adco metronidazole to give dogs -2
middle earth tolkien map - 2
powered by phpbb equine science degree - 2
профсоюзное право контрольные - 2
aleah jasmine vancouver escort - 1
animalhentai porn video gallery - 1

I think what gets me is that the last two people searching for those...terms...actually clicked on my damn blog. I mean, what?

I can't. This is not a Vancouver escort hentai blog.
Okay, well, we did. I'll shut up now.

Guess I'll just have to talk about the contest then.

To celebrate 100 posts, I posted a character profile template. Since I have way more followers now, I think it's time to up the ante a bit.

You know, I've been editing a lot lately. I'm kinda tired of critically reading my own stuff. Maybe it's time to critically read somebody else's stuff?

Since I'm poor (and moving abroad. Again.) it's kinda hard for me to have a contest that costs me money at this point in time. So to celebrate 200 entries of Musings of a Procrastinating Author, I'm having a

First 20 pages critique contest!

First drafts, final drafts; original fiction, fan-fiction (although it may help if I know the fandom, eh?); adult, young adult...I'll read it and critique it if you win. The only thing I'll ask for is forewarning of unsettling content, if applicable. 

So, want an honest critique of any draft of WIP of yours? I'm game. Just follow these guidelines to enter!

1) Follow this blog Odds are you already do. Moving on!
2) Comment on this entry and somewhere state you intend to enter, please.
3) This contest will be decided via raffle. Here's how to get "tickets" into the raffle.
     a) Comment on this entry. You're gonna have to do this anyway, but it's an auto-ticket!
     b) Tweet about it with a link to this entry. One extra ticket. (leave link of proof in comments)
     c) Blog about it with a link to this entry. Two extra tickets. (leave link of proof in comments)
     d) Any other social media advertising. One extra ticket each. (leave a link of proof in comments)
         Only one comment on this entry can get you a raffle ticket. 
4) Add your name and email to the Link List below after you've done 1 & 2. Please use the name that you comment here with. 
5) List will close on Friday, March 30th. That's 10 days to enter!

CLOSED
That's it! Thank you for reading another 100 entries at my blog! Here's to 100 more!

Hooray!

Monday, March 19, 2012

"The only other way to play God is through wri-I mean the Sims."

My best kept secret that isn't a secret at all is that I keep a health dose of Sims 3 (used to be Sims 2, will probably one day be Sims 4) in my life. Recently I've been playing about an hour every day, but I go through spurts like these and eventually I won't be playing it at all for a while. But I digress already!

Anyway, I don't have as much time anymore as I used to to REALLY get into the game and play it - back in the Sims 2 days I had multiple families whose sole purpose was to pop out sim babies so I could challenge myself to take care of them all while watching all their individualisms come out. Then I got the brilliant idea to recreate all my Nagnomei characters in Sim form and try to recreate their settings and situations as well. This ended up being  really useful, because now I had visual references for characters I never really thought about before!

Seriously, do you know how long it took to find this hair again?
When I got Sims 3, the very first thing I did was go the character route, and now it's all I play. The first attraction is that, especially if you can't draw worth crap like me, you finally get to make visual representations of your characters JUST as you want them. Although I have gone "hair hunting" for the perfect hairstyle (and am still vainly searching for better ones, but let's face it, if I haven't found it by now...) and sometimes I look at my clothes and go "no...no she/he would not wear...any of this. The hell." OH aand somewhere between 2010 and 2011, my laptop died and I lost all my old files. I had some salvaged screenshots, like the one to the left here, to work off when trying to rebuild my character sims. STILL BITTER about the month  long search for Reina's fantastically butchy hair, by the way.

Then, once you have them all the way you want them to look, you eject them into the game and gleefully make them reenact your novels (as much as you can, anyway). Mostly it's just them getting similar jobs to what they "really" have and hooking up with their partners. None of my characters (except one) are the kid-carryin' types, so I have little chance to explore those realms of the game. In fact, two years having this game, I have never had a sim-baby. Sims 2 Player in me is crying.

BUT THE BEST PART is when you've ran out of things to force them to do and you just...let them do their own thing. There are lulzy relationships in my game between characters that will never happen in cannon, but I let them do it because it's so personally amusing to me. Then there's having whole new characters enter your world. Sugar Bijou started dating one of my characters, and now she's being written in later on in the series with a different name and my own background info. I love it when the Sims writes my own damn story for me. (I currently have one supporting character sporting a sudden wish to "kiss" one of my main characters, and my brain is already going "Woah!" at this information.)

Actually, I lied. The best part is when you let things just "run" and your characters still act...in character. When you've programed them so well that they react the exact way you would have written them. I can't lie, I get a huge smug writerly satisfaction from it. It validates that I actually do know this character inside-and-out, because I can exactly predict how they will live as a damn Sim.

So before I go on and on about how great this game is for writers, let me ask - do you Sim? Do you recreate your novels to the greatest extent you can? Have you gotten new ideas from it? Dyin' to know.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekly Writing Check-In: lol editing.

I...I have no better subtitle than that. Seriously.I mean, just the usual editing junk. Finally made it up to chapter 8 in Rebirth which is where I left off last time before Nano made me go "LOL U" at it until this past month. So that means back to serious editing, full of "omg i can't believe i worded it that way make it stop", SEARCH AND DESTROY, and generally watching the word counts go down a couple thousand. Joy.

Meanwhile, still writing on Revenge. Only a few hundred words before going to bed, but it keeps me busy on it. Editing is technically more important right now but I do love me some writing before bed.

ANYWHOZERZ I have a small announcement! This is  post 198, so you know what that means! Sometime this week (probably Tuesday) will be the 200TH SUPER PARTY POST and YES there will be a contest / nice prize to celebrate 200 entries of this blog! So be sure to check that out this next week!

There will also be internet cookies.

Now I have your attention.

aha.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Flash: "We could get discharged!"

Totally spaced out writing something this week, what with all the editing going on in my personal life, ha! So here, seems only fitting that I should give you an excerpt from the files this week. Decided on a little of the usual confrontation between Danielle and Miranda because it's fun. (Also, brief note, as this series takes place in 2007, DADT is still a thing.) Enjoy!

-----


            She rummaged through her locker in the showers. Her pride wasn’t as hurt as she announced earlier, but she was embarrassed about the public tousling from Miranda and then beat to boot. She wasn’t expecting to overthrow her and become the little cancer-patient-that-could; however, it would have been nice to prove to Miranda that she was capable of defending herself.
            “For the love of God, where is it?” Danielle muttered, stuffing herself further into the locker in hopes of finding the undershirt she left there earlier.
            “Looking for this?”
            Danielle pulled herself out at the sound of Miranda’s voice and braced herself. Over her shoulder she saw her captain, still in gym clothes and with the same smirk on her face, dangling a wrinkled, white undershirt over her right hand. “Uh, thanks,” Danielle muttered, and reached out to snatch her shirt back. Miranda lifted a wary eyebrow and lowered her arm. “Where was it?”
            “I found it on the ground. Didn’t want it to get dirty.”
            Danielle continued to frown as she brushed off some dust on the white fabric and considered how she was going to get Miranda to go away. She was not comfortable undressing in front of her.
            “Look, Danielle…” Miranda approached her with the wariness of a cat sensing a predator, the odor of slight sweat becoming stronger the closer she got. “I want to apologize for what happened back there. You know I’m under a lot of pressure.”
            “I guess.” Danielle slammed her locker shut once she had all her clothing back. “But you know we’re going to be talked about now by anybody with two retinas and half a brain.”
            Miranda continued to stand with a placid countenance. “I don’t mind.”
            Danielle threw her clothes down on the bench and swerved around, her cheeks flushing red as Miranda’s cool suggestion ran through her ears. “Well I do, you know!” she shouted, and then realizing that her volume was too high, looked down at the ground and uncurled the fingers from her fists. Miranda stood without a glance of surprise on her face. “I mean…” and a rough spot formed on the back of Danielle’s throat as she tried to pass her next few words on, “I’m not interested in you, you know. And it’s just easier if people don’t assume those things. We could get discharged for Christ’s sake!”
            Miranda lowered her eyes and saw a glimpse of gold on Danielle’s wrist. “I thought I told you to get rid of that,” she snapped, her voice flatter and firmer than any of their body parts combined. “You better do that before Noyes sees you. Get back to work within the next fifteen minutes.” Miranda then pivoted on her cross trainer heels and stalked towards the locker room exit.
            Danielle was left to stand in sheer awe at how Miranda ignored her statement. Didn’t she realize what such flirtations would mean for the both of them? In the end Miranda had more to lose than Danielle did – longer time under recruit, a higher status, a bigger paycheck, more benefits, a life in general…or Danielle had to assume. She did not know much about her superior’s personal life because it was just not appropriate.. They were not friends beyond general work-related acquaintances, and although it was obvious that Miranda was romantically interested in her, Danielle hoped to do nothing to inspire more of that thought in her commander's mind.

----

lol office romances.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hubpages Wednesday: Getting Grub in Japan

You'd never guess I was in Japan.
Only one hub this week, but I'm sure it's bound to be helpful to SOMEBODY out there! Going to Japan? Just curious? Well now you can find out the etiquette and helpful words and phrases of eating out! From family restaurants to smaller eateries, you too can now eat in Japan. You're welcome~

In related news, I'm now making about two dollars a month from writing at Hubpages. Considering I just started around Christmas, and have "only" published 18 hubs so far, I think I'm doing pretty damn good. My goal is to be making payout ($50) every month by the end of the year. Kinda farfetched, but it's a goal nonetheless!

Anybody else write (or tried writing) at HP? Anybody wanna know what's up with it?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Down My Own Rabbit Hole, or, CROSS// Introduction Post

'Sup y'all. For this Monday's post (in which I post about whatever I want) I'm going to take the time to do a proper overview of my CROSS// series. I decided to do this for multiple reasons: 1) I've been writing many flash fiction pieces that include elements of these stories, such as butterfly symbolism and a bunch of talk about Armageddons and reincarnation (which is the crux of the story.) 2) I want a post where I can compile all this information. 3) I'll hopefully be asking for betas by the end of the summer so now may be a good time to start seeing who may be interested! 4) Because it's Monday and I can write about whatever I want.

So, let's party.

CROSS//

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Science Fiction
Audience: Adul
Rating: R (for some sexually explicit talk and scenes, violence, and some swearing
Themes: Reincarnation and spirituality (of the agnostic kind), sexuality, overpopulation, determination, and extreme loyalty
Symbol: Gold butterflies
Premise at start of series: With a core plot that spans over two nearly twenty-five-hundred years, CROSS// (a title that represents "crossing" over into other ventures, ages, and lives),  brings both immortals and mortals together in an intergalactic war for the right to exist. With the Void - the source of all spiritual life in the universe - on the verge of collapse, a pair of sorcerers and a group of Earthlings are charged with bringing spiritual balance back to the universe.

There are a total of seven novels planned for this series: five are part of the "main" series, while two are prequel novels, as listed below.

Subtitles - Main Series (modern day Earth)

1. Rebirth (finished, editing final draft, publication in 2013)
2. Revenge (completing first draft)
3. Regress
4. Repent
5. Release

Subtitles - Prequel Series (extraterrestrial, takes place 2000 and 1000 years before now, respectively)

1. Prophet
2. Process  (completing first draft)

Chronological order includes the "Pro" novels before "Re" series. Suggested reading is Process between Regress and Repent, and Prophet between Repent and Release. Which leaves the planned publication order of:

1. Rebirth
2. Revenge
3. Regress
4. Process
5. Repent
6. Prophet
7. Release

Or at least, that's the order I believe they should be read in for the "full experience".

I always write about death, whether or not there is such a thing as a "soul" (I don't believe it in real life so much, but it's something I explore in writing), and making sure either whole planets or entire cosmic entities are in dire peril. Unless the universe is about to implode and only two or three people can save it, I am just not happy. Of course CROSS// represents these themes the best out of all my works thus far. I pretty much take three people and say "here you go" and give them a broken universe to fix. And it's the best fun I've ever had writing.

Setting

There are two distinct settings in the series (not counting the prequels), and both are in the present day (Rebirth starts in May, 2007, and Release ends somewhere around autumn 2011/2012, I haven't decided yet.) The main setting is a parallel universe version of San Francisco (where military bases meet queer capitals meets this author's west coast sensibilities). The other is a multi-planet enterprise referred to as simply "The Federation", with a female president and a female military commander. In the Federation, (and likewise on Earth, although of course many Earthlings do not know it) there are "humans" and then there are cousins of human breed...but with extras. The main race are the julah,  the oldest living humanoids who live for thousands of years as sorcerers and are the keepers of the status and the secrets of the "Void"...which is where everyone goes when they die (and from whence they originally came.)

The Void is an extra-dimensional...well, void. All spiritual life originates here and manifests in "our" (remember, it's a parralel! :P) dimension as human bodies that are born and die. When not in a body, such as in the Void, souls take on the incarnations of golden, translucent butterflies. There is no "God" known to have created this, and the julah do not believe in or preach of any gods. The Void simply is. However, at the start of the series, there is a julah Head Priestess who now lives in the Void as its caretaker and as the ambassador to the living.

Reincarnation

Every living person is under the jurisdiction of one of three "statuses" of their soul. They are:

Normal - The body is the only body the soul has inhabited. These make up almost the entire population of life in the universe.
Reincarnated - During the "first" natural life, the soul went through some severe trauma that was never recovered from or reconciled by the time of death. The soul then rebirths itself into a new body. The person may have similar traits and feelings as they did in their first life, known as "residue", but will retain absolutely no memories of their past life.
Processed - The soul, at the time of death in the first life, enters the "Process", or a cycle of rebirth that only ends when a promised goal is achieved. The person will be almost identical, even genetically (as much as permitted) to their original incarnation. They will retain memories of their first "original" life, as the current life is considered merely an extension of the original life. Souls can only be put into the Process by highly skilled Priests of the Void. Those put into the Process together will always be reborn near one another.

Likewise, planets also have a "soul", but not in the same sense as humans. It's more a failsafe to keep planets afloat. The soul of a planet is broken into five pieces, or "Points",  and scattered around a specific area. These Points may take the form of gems, books, jewelry, clothing, or anything deemed "discreet". Points can change their form, although only after certain periods of time to keep up with the ages of the lifeforms inhabiting the planet. If the Points are all brought together and destroyed by a "detonator", then the planet will cease to exist and everyone still on it will perish. Not explode, not deconstruct...just cease. And the universe will correct itself around it. (yay fantasy!)

Background

Before the first novel (Rebirth), two ex-Priests of the Void, Ramaron Marlow and Nerilis Dunsman, argue over whether or not  Points actually exist. Next thing Lord Marlow knows, his once best friend and confidant has lead to a planet "ceasing to exist' (guess what, points exist!). This leads Marlow to chase Dunsman around the universe in a quest to stop his terror. Eventually Dunsman targets a planet with life on it, the mercenary colony of Cerilyn. Marlow hires two of the planet's best mercenaries, Sulim di'Graelic and Sonall Gardiah, to collect the planet's Points before Dunsman has the chance to destroy Cerilyn and kill hundreds of thousands of people. They fail and are sent into the Process.

The series begins on Earth, where Sulim and Sonall are reborn into their 98th (yes, you read that right) incarnations.

Characters

The three main characters of the main series are Danielle Cromwell (once Sulim), Devon Anderson (once Sonall), and Miranda Hotler. While of course they are approached by various factions to deal with the state of Earth, a majority of the series is about their own personal spiritual issues, their sacrifices, their stubbornness,  their romances, and how the three of them are really and truly connected to one another. There is a whole cast of characters including their friends and lovers, and of course, Marlow and Dunsman using them all as pawns in a galactic battle of chess, but in the end the story is really about these three people who were forced into the hero role, like so many other stories. Meanwhile, the reasons behind Dunsman's destruction are explored, because how can I not make some big comment on society with a story this big. =P

Random

It's pretty much no secret that I play the Sims 3, and that I pretty much only play novel characters in Sim form - and out of those, I pretty much only play my CROSS// characters anymore. It's some of the most hilarious fun ever. I've gotten some great new character and plot point ideas just from letting the game play on high AI!

You'd never guess that Danielle was once a Junior Rodeo Champion

...or that "Somebody's" daughter actually had a personality. Huh. I should work on that.
Well, that's enough shameless plugging for today. Wow, if you made it this far through all that self-indulgent tripe, then I...well, I would give you one of my cookies here, but you know...distance...

If nothing else, I'm just glad I now have a post dump to link to in relevant other posts. So ha! (brb, gonna go play some sims instead of editing. Oops.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Weekly Writing Check-In: March 11th, and of course, editing.

First, the bones of this post. Back to editing CROSS//Rebirth with the hopes of betaing it by the end of the summer. I got up to about chapter 7/8 last time before Nano hit, so I'm going through them a chapter a night until I hit that. At about 10k a chapter that's a damn good rate. Still editing though. Clipping about 300-500 words per chapter, most of them extraneous stuff.

And now for the other point. Today happens to be March 11th, the first anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake in northern Japan (or, the Tohoku area). This time last year I was sitting in a hotel in Portland waiting to go to the Japanese consulate to pick up my work visa. Just a bit of an odd coincidence. My mother and I were glued to the hotel TV and internet wondering if I would have a job to go to at all, or if I would even be able to.

Then we immediately worried about our own home. We are from Port Orford, the westernmost point in the contiguous 48. We were bound to be smacked by tsunamis the next day. Which we were. About 11 of them. (We were even on CNN the next morning. We sat in the hotel lobby going "omggggg" and watching in horror as...nothing happened. Ha.)

Since last April I've been living here in Gifu Prefecture, which is in central (Chubu) Japan. It was largely unaffected by the earthquake and tsunamis up north, but Japan is a very monolithic culture and what affects one part of Japan is felt all across the country. As a foreigner I will never be able to understand the magnanimity of what happened to Japanese people here. But as I sat and listened to the announcement of a moment of silence at 2:46 today, I thought about all of the people still living in squalor shelters in Fukushima. American media did a bang-up job scaring the whole damn world about radiation, but nobody bats an eyelash here. Our main concern are the survivors still stuck in temporary shelters, many of whom have no privacy, very little space to hold their minute belongings, and no idea of where and how they'll be another year from now. If you have it in your heart and ability to do so, please donate to a cause, such as the Red Cross.

We have had many earthquakes since I've been here, but since I'm from San Andreas Land, it's nothing new to me. But it's changed here. Even the smallest shake has all our parents calling and the media assuring everyone things are fine. But I wish the western media would leave that alone. Please focus on the people who still need help. All the scare mongering helps nobody. (Choir. Preaching to it.)

I'll wrap this post up with a video from a band that made an interesting take on survival in Tohoku. Those not prepared may find a tear in their eyes. (The title translates to "Let's Meet Here Again".)



Thursday, March 8, 2012

Friday Flash: The Fortieth Time

What do I do with this tho.
(What? It's Friday here!)

This is my entry for the Second Campaigner Challenge, which is kind of the King of Clusterfulandia. Basically, a 200 (oh excuse me, LESS! So I shot for a nice 199) word flash fiction based on five different prompts. Oh Lord. (I'm not listing all the requirements here. If you're interested, click on the link!)

That said, here is my entry. Writing in my same genre, not sorry. Then again I write just about every genre except YA Paranormal Romance (why I will never be able to support myself writing, apparently) so I suppose it doesn't even matter =P

As usual, this story takes place in the CROSS// universe. But you've never heard these names before.

No ~dirty language~ this week, but there is gun violence. (Also, I'm entry #80.)

---


Once children ran and played with each other on that bridge. But not today.

Not ever again.

Karra’s body slumped forward from the support beam and landed in the mud, her leg too broken to support her. Ireya sobbed beside her and readied a pistol for the inevitable.

The world crumbled around them. Ireya brushed the wet hair out of her face and gazed down at Karra’s vacant eyes and trembling breath.

Ireya stood; the pistol cocked. Looking down the barrel and towards Karra’s muddy blond hair made Ireya choke on her courage, but so long as Karra “lived” there was no room for hesitancy in Ireya’s failing heart.

“I always love you.” Her lips quivered, but the finger on the trigger held in resolution.

With one shot Karra no longer felt pain.

Ireya had one final choice:  join Karra of her own volition, or let the collapsing planet claim her.

A shot.

Ireya’s body fell with a thud in the rain. Blood spilled from her body and joined Karra’s, together at last, as they died for the fortieth time.

The rain fell upwards as two butterflies departed for the cosmic Void.

The world ended.

For the fortieth time.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hubpages Wednesday: All Japan, All the Time

Yu Hayami.
Two hubs for you this week! And yes, as you can tell from the title, both have to do with Japan - but in totally different ways!

The first one is a mini-travel guide dealing with the JR Yamanote Line: Tokyo's Circular Cruise. The Yamanote Line is one of the world's busiest train lines and takes you on a circular tour of all the hot sights in Tokyo. I photoblogged each and every station on the line. I had a lot of time one day in 2009...considering there are 29 stations...well yeah. Come see what sights and sounds can be found within walking distance at every station!

The second one is super fresh. As a follow up to one of my most popular hubs yet, here's Top 10 J-pop Female Idols of the 70s and 80s (Part 2). It's one of the best times you can have on the internet. Hop into my time machine and blast into the past for some great Japanese pop music!

Show 'em how it's done, Yu.