2017

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Did you enjoy reading Hanabi to Kitsune? Were you confused or intrigued about kitsuke after reading it?

Kitsuke is ‘the art of wearing a kimono'(and that act of it too). Some basic rules you might have caught in the story are that certain prints suit certain seasons, and how particular colours match(or contrast!) to look beautiful and stylish.

For example with prints and seasons, when I wore a kimono in spring, you’ll notice the strong theme of cherry blossoms both on my kimono and my obi (the picture also shows the gorgeous bow they tied for me too). Don’t panic if you find a lovely yukata or kimono which has multiple season images on it – you’ve found a special item which can be worn in both seasons 😀

You can also let your destination play into your choice, for example if you are going to be spending time waterside you might pick a print with irises on it since they grow by the water.

Your age can be a factor too. Younger people are encouraged to wear bright colours or bold patterns, but the older you get the more you’re encouraged to wear muted colours and simpler prints and patterns. Never forget though, you’re only the age you feel you are!

If you’d like to admire more kimono and learn more about kitsuke you can check out or follow some of the blogs I do.

Check out Kimono Tsuki she’s currently doing a Disney Princess Kitsuke project so she’s combining two loves of mine <3

Aubergine Fleur’s blog is full of magnificent shots of a wide range of obis being worn beautifully.

On Tumblr Kimono Nagoya(many pictures, plus a good amount of advice on how to co-ordinate); Tanuki Kimono(stories and accessories abound too), Wa-Dance (so many adorable drawings with on point kitsuke, and swatches), and Kimono Colours(puts a colour palette beside the pictures to help you figure out what matches and contrasts best). There’s lots more, but these are just my top picks, if you’re curious for even more and too lazy to look forthem yourself I could be convinced to share a longer list.

Going back to Hanabi to Kitsune, it’s just as well Mayu chose not to go obi-less since the ‘Heisei style’ her friend saw never extended very far beyond a few television images, and a couple of fashion blogs in Japan. It didn’t really take off ;p If you’re curious as to why I included it I was flicking through my Tumblr feed I saw the post below and decided a kitsuke-savvy girl like Mayu would know and think of it. At the time I wrote the story this was very new news. Time has proven it to never evolve. But I like it still being there, maybe it will make people Google ‘Heisei style yukata’ and make them ask more questions about kitsuke.

http://kimononagoya.tumblr.com/post/149916446276/hi-i-hope-i-can-ask-a-question-and-include-an

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my theme be all

I did fairly well in August, particularly for someone who lost their voice twice! I finished edits of Dressed For Success and submitted it. I’m quite fond of it. It’s very strong work IMO. Even if they reject it, I’m confident the story will find another home fast. I’m so proud of it I actually used it in my SAF grant application(which I also successfully sent off).

In further news relating to completing goals, I finished edits on Mermaid In A Jar, submitted it to my writers group, and will get my feedback tomorrow.

I’m 7,600 words into the Nothing Charming draft(that’s a new 6,400 written this month), but still have a good 25,000 words to go if my projection is accurate

I’ve edited a few more chapters of Written By The Stars, including one which, with additions/revisions is now 20,000 words long, so needs breaking up ;p It’s been a long slog, mainly because the draft was written back in 2012. I’ve done five years of growing as a writer since then. Soooo much is wrong with it. It’s not an impossible job, but not an easy one either. Also, back then I clearly felt like I needed to club readers over the head with my theme and sometimes its so bad I just can’t look at it ;p My theme be all ‘notice me, senpai!’.

I chaired two panels at the Brisbane Writers Group Convention and took a seminar on a new(to me) method for non-verbal communication with Xander.

As far as learning my craft more goes, I listened to seasons 3, 4, and 5 of Writing Excuses (if you missed it, last month I started binge listening to their back catalogue. I originally started in season 9 a few years back and didn’t bother with the back catalogue because it seemed like too much). I also read James Scott Bells’ Plot and Structure, and went to the aforementioned Brisbane Writers Group Convention.

And the biggest miracle of all, I have thought of a possible proper title for ‘Skeleton Romance’: Lovely/Lonely. Not a perfect fit, but pretty solid and quite evocative, I even have a funky little logo imagined up for it ;p

September’s goals are:

  • Focus on editing Written By The Stars
  • Finish Nothing Charming first draft
  • Complete feedback for the non-fiction book and the near-future sci-fi book I’ve been asked to beta read
  • Using group feedback edit Mermaid In A Jar so its ready to submit to publishers
  • Write either the new short story rolling around in my head currently titled ‘Bards vs Beasts’ or the horror story ‘Alone Time’
  • If the cover comes back in time, get the proof and – if time – maybe even do the print run of Darkest Depths print version.

Stretch goal(because miracles can happen, even if they didn’t last month):

  • Commence edits on Lovely/Lonely (aka ‘Skeleton Romance’).

 

 

 

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Another writing prompt over on the Vision Writers’ Group blog. Go check it out.

Writing Prompt: Inheritance

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Another month another writers’ group meeting. We had a great one with both of last month’s newbies returning for round two, and a couple more newbies making their first appearance. Though a lot of our veterans were at the retreat there was still a lot of great feedback given on the submitted pieces and of course I’ve posted my ‘meeting takeaway’ piece of advice on the Vision Writers website.

Giving Your Reader Setting Up Front

 

 

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The goals I set at the start of July were

  • Mudgerwokee edits – did two rounds with the editor and now all I should have to do is wait for the release in November
  • Help promote the release of the anthology Tales from The Sunrise Lands which contains my short story Hanabi to Kitsune(Fireworks and Foxes) – I did the social media, blog post, newsletter, and updated my website to include the book page. I still have another blog post I want to do about kishotenketsu story structure, which I used when writing Hanabi to Kitsune, I’ll get to that soon ;p
  • More Vision Writers work – did some website housekeeping, lots of little stuff like adding links in the sidebar to give easy access to the writing prompts and meeting lessons. I got the spine width for the cover of the print version of Darkest Depths off to our cover designer, wrote a promotional piece for the group to be featured on the Writers Group Convention website and a different one for the new version of the QWC website. I also did some more behind the scenes work too.
  • Edit and appropriately name ‘Kitsune In Spaaaaaace’ – edited as best as I can manage by myself and ready to receive the editorial critique in September, complete with new title: Not Human, Not Alien
  • Commence and ideally complete edits on Written By The Stars novel – I did the first three chapters, but honestly I only spent two days this month on it because everything else ended up prioritised. I really need to buckle down harder on it.

There were a decent number of new words written this month, a total of 10,500. I wrote the first draft, edited and submitted to my group for critique a YA magical realism short story Dressed For Success(5,100 words) about an asexual succubus who dreams of working at the daycare her father did before he passed away. It’s choc full of LGBTQ characters, sarcasm and snark, and involves a heist to steal something from a special exhibit at the Brisbane museum. I hope it sells to the anthology I wrote it for, but if not, I’m sure it’ll find a good fun home.

I finished a first draft of a short story called Mermaid In A Jar (4,200 words) about a starving artist left to care for his 8 yo niece by the wintry ocean for a few days and a discovery they make. It’s in dire need of editing though as I change tense repeatedly, which happens whenever I try to write first person past tense, I always slip back into present tense ;p

I also started the first draft for Nothing Charming getting 1,270 words down, not much, but certainly better than zero. Looking at my plan for the series, each of the stories gets progressively longer until we hit novel length for one.

On the learning side of things, I finished reading Save The Cat Goes to the Movies and read Randy Ingermanson’s How to Write A Novel Using The Snowflake Method. I also binged on the whole first two seasons of Writing Excuses (I started listening at season 9 a few years back, and was too lazy to manually download the older seasons until now).

My goals for August are:

  • Focus on editing Written By The Stars
  • Finish Nothing Charming first draft
  • Edit/revise Dressed For Success with group’s feedback and submit
  • Self-edit Mermaid In A Jar and submit to group for critique
  • Apply for SAF grant
  • If the cover comes back in time, get the proof and – if time – maybe even do the print run of Darkest Depths print version.

Stretch goal(because miracles can happen):

  • Commence edits/properly title ‘Skeleton Romance’.

 

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Tales of the Sunrise Lands has just released from Guardbridge Books and one of the stories in this cool anthology is mine: Hanabi to Kitsune (which translates to ‘Fireworks and Foxes’).

The story follows Mayu, a high schooler in current day Japan. In traditional high schooler style she has a crush on an upper classman (notice me senpai, notice me ;p ). She’s managed to catch his eye once at a fireworks festival, but she’s determined to do it again, even going so far as to steal a beautiful yukata from her grandmother’s attic. What Mayu doesn’t realise is her act of theft will result in mythic consequences.

I  had a lot of fun with this one. I got to show off some of my knowledge of kitsuke(the art of kimono fashion), kitsune and a cavalcade of yokai, and got to come up with two more awesome Japanese names complete with matching and meaningful kanji (if you don’t know what I mean but are curious check out this old post on the complexity of Japanese names). I also played around with kishotenketsu story structure, though the end result can be viewed in both a three act way as well as a kishotenketsu sort of way(more on kishotenketsu in a later post).

You might also notice Mayu’s love interest is called Arima-senpai. My beagle, Arima, recently passed away, and though this story was written and submitted long before that, I can’t help but feel it’s a beautiful little tribute to him.

If you’re a fellow Japanophile I hope you’ll check out the anthology. You can find it on Amazon, or buy it directly from Guardbridge Books(if you can, buy it from Guardbridge, it helps support this awesome and ever-growing small press).

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I’ve posted another writing prompt on the Vision Writers website. This time I’ve come up with some lines that could be opening OR ending lines and am challenging/hoping to inspire you to pick two lines, make one your start the other your end. Head over to the Vision Writers site to check it out.

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We came back from the weekend away to bad news this week; our beagle Arima had passed away.

Arima was the son of our first dog, Ezri, and like his mother was a pedigree beagle (yep, papers and all). I can remember the day they were born, twelve and a half years ago. T-J and I were so nervous and Ezri probably just wanted us out of her face while she paced and nested and did her thing. We stayed up all night, but the puppies didn’t come till the next morning (I seem to be cursed/curse those around me with long labours ;p).

Arima was named for one of my favourite manga heroes: Soichiro Arima from His and Her Circumstances/Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou.You might be sensing a pattern or anime-derived pet names.

While all the other puppies had homes to go to Arima didn’t, but I was only too glad to keep him with us. Because Arima was bred to perfect breed standards – ideal black saddle and all – we always intended to put him in a show one day, but then next thing you know we have kids and then he has grey hairs and the time passed.

Unlike his namesake Arima was always a mischief. He was a master escape artist (as multiple fees from the local pound when they found him before us can attest), and loved breaking into the house to track down any unattended food. He was also almost always the one to start up a howl, and if you didn’t stop him soon all three dog were howling, then every dog in the street!

The last Christmas we had at our place we served the ham up on a platter, left it on the table to go get the rest of the feast only to find Arima and his mischievous little pack escaped from their area and up on the table scoffing the ham. At least someone had ham that Christmas ;p

In his entire life I don’t think he ever spent more than a whole day away from his mother (actual mother, not me his fur-baby mother ;p ), and even then only because one or the other of them was at the vet. When his brother, Porthos, came back to live with us they became an inseparable pack, which made walks more difficult since leaving anyone behind resulted in endless devastated howling(trust me, we tried many times, particularly after our children were born). I barely have a photo of one of the trio without at least one of the others photobombing. Their pack also includes our cats who were never chased or heckled even once that I noticed.

We’ll miss our little boy and it’s evident his pack still misses him too.

the pack sleeping on top of the table because Baron the cat was ‘hogging’ the dog bed beneath (Arima is the one looking at the camera)

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photo by Fabrizio Russo

After another great meeting of the Vision Writers Group yesterday I’m all excited by having three brand new members show up as well as several recent newbies come back again. I also LOVE it when newbies are hungry for and appreciative of our feedback. It always makes me so happy 🙂

Once again I’ve done a ‘meeting takeaway’ post over on the Vision Writers blog about my favourite piece of feedback given. This time the advice was on how to make unlikeable characters more relatable. Check it out

The Unlikeable Ones

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Ha ha, I forgot to do my May goals round up and with it list my June goals, but I’ll run them down and their success(or not) here together.

  • Do some beta feedback for people who’ve betaed for me – this was a bigger job than anticipated. I betaed two entire novels; 170,000 words. It took almost all of my May
  • Complete my self edits of Mudgerwokee and send it on to my editor for the professional edits – done and sent. Contract is signed, just waiting for the edits to come back sometime in July/August.
  • Fix my damn shift keyI haven’t fixed it really, apparently it’s beyond repair (or reasonable cost to repair). I’m currently circumventing the issue by plugging our desktop pc’s keyboard in.  All up I preferred the duct taped laptop to the no shift key laptop ;p
  • Finalise the print version of Darkest Depths for Vision Writers group – price comparison done, so then I had to check and tweak our file to meet the company’s specs. Now all that’s left is figuring out how many copies each person wants and getting the payments together, then upload and print.
  • Finish revision on Glass Slippers – I got a little bit further, figuring out what sort of story it was going to be, therefore which feedback to use, but didn’t really start much pen to paper/fingers to keyboard work.
  • Start writing the first draft of Nothing Charming – frankly, I didn’t touch it 🙁
  • Recommence submitting my short stories that are ready – I submitted Foxworth to the Writers of the Future contest, and a couple of works published last year to a ‘Years Best Australian Fantasy and Horror’ anthology, but came up against the wall due to the fact I don’t have many more short stories that are polished enough for sale or are of a saleable length. I’ve been writing a lot of novelletes/novellas(10,000 words+) lately, and they aren’t as easy to sell to traditional markets
  • Clear up the Vision Writers Group Boards – there was a lot of information up there from various stages in the groups life. 21 years is a long time and a lot of changes have happened in many aspects of the group, but old data kept popping up and confusing newbies. I’ve gone through and checked almost all files on the board and updated any that needed it. It took almost a week, but I did it!
Harley & Xander hard at work on her birthday presents

June was a little lacking because the first week was devoted to organising Harley’s Moana-themed birthday party (which was awesome, I made kakamora cookies, Tamatoa cupcakes, and a Moana Dolly Varden-style cake, and she was so cute in her Moana party dress), and then I splashed my arm with oil frying up Xander’s favourite fish. The splatter burns were mostly on the inside of my arm, meaning typing and using a mouse would rub my burns on they keyboard/desk. I popped blisters by refusing to give up though, because each month I seem to be afflicted with *something* which limits my productivity.

In July my goals will be:

  • Mudgerwokee edits when they come in – the editor said they should come in during July or August, but it’ll be top of my list when it lands in my inbox
  • Help promote the release of the anthology Tales from The Sunrise Lands which contains my short story Hanabi to Kitsune(Fireworks and Foxes) – I’m super excited about this one because my story will be the first in the anthology!
  • More Vision Writers work – including some tidying of the website, updating links, getting and keeping the ball rolling on the print version of Darkest Depths, and writing a promotional piece for the group to be featured on another website.
  • Edit and appropriately name ‘Kitsune In Spaaaaaace’ – I backed a cool project on Kickstarter and one of the bonuses was a short fiction critique to be given on a piece of mine in September, so I need to have something polished for that
  • Commence and ideally complete edits on Written By The Stars novel so I can get some beta feedback to finally allay my worries about the novel and get it ready for submitting to agents.

 

And now for my mid-year check up on my yearly goals.

  • Publish at least three more of my Retailored Fairy TalesGlass Bones just came out and is an RFT, and Groundskeeper has been sold but may or may not be published this year (depends on the publisher). So I have one, maybe two so far. I was originally planning on doing the Charming stories, but I want to have several prepared so I can release them relatively close together. I don’t want to publish anything that’s not ready yet, and with my current pace, I might not be able to produce the right quality, as such this one *may* get bumped. It’s certainly one of my lowest priorities
  • Finish first draft, complete edits, and get to beta readers ‘Skeleton Romance’ (also give it a real title ;p ) – first draft completed, but stalled on edits partially due to self-doubt (I really need to kick my paranoia in the ass I think, but it’s not so easy as it sounds)
  • Continue writing and traditionally publishing stories  – well under way, Glass Bones is already out, Hanabi to Kitsune will be out later this month, Mudgerwokee is due for release in November and Groundskeeper is sold. I do need to put some more effort into writing shorter stories for traditional publication though.
  • Continue learning – I’ve been to a Joanna Penn panel, listen to at least six different podcasts on writing and publishing every week, have gone through an online course and am going through a long to-read list of writing books (currently reading ‘Save The Cat’) so this goal is going just dandy.
  • Continue being an awesome president of Vision Writers Group – I always worry I’m not doing enough on this one, but I’ve been working on the print version of our last anthology, updating the membership files on the board and website, writing promos, getting our book in catalogues and new members have been coming in and not always running away so I’m not failing dismally at least.
  • Write at least three more Retailored Fairy Tales – this is what I’ve been lagging on most, though it’s the thing I want to do most – isn’t that weird…
  • Complete a novel (as in to the point I can resume submitting to agents) – this is probably the most important. I currently have no polished novel out there ‘doing the rounds’. I need to focus on this which is why you’ll notice on my July goals list is the task of finishing edits on Written By The Stars and getting it out to beta readers.

So I’m not cutting any goals just yet, but I am reorganising what’s at the top of my list and what’s at the bottom. I also need to buckle down a bit harder. Pop some blisters if I have to because I need to get moving! Let’s do this thing!