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Bleh, between the cold and my job suddenly going from two days a week to five I haven’t been very active here on the blog, sorry. Todays post is a sort of follow-up to my last post on buying locally.

Atelier Meruru Collector's Edition
Atelier Meruru Collector's Edition

I am a JRPG fan. For those unfamiliar with the term, that means Japanese Role Playing Game. They are role playing games with anime styled characters and the sort of crazy twisted storyline you expect from anime as well. You usually have to sink around 100 hours into them to play the whole game, which makes them serious value for money too. Because I live in Australia video games cost ball-park $100 (sometimes as high as $120 or as low as $70 for a new release), so you want that value. Some of my favourite games are the Persona series, the Final Fantasy range and the Atelier series.

The sad part is some of the best games never even make it to Australia. Because Australia has a smaller population than America we similarly have a smaller number of buyers for a niche market like JRPG’s. I always buy my games from Australian stores to try to support the Australian JRPG market.

I want Atelier Meruru. More importantly, I want the collector’s edition of Atelier Meruru. I don’t care if you call it limited edition, collector’s edition, premium pack or game with extras, I want it. And yes, I know the shirt will be ridiculously huge but I will wear it anyway.

The problem is they won’t release it in Australia. The game will come out here, but only the standard edition and only enough copies to cover the first couple of weeks of sales.

Sure, I could buy it from one of those stores that imports the game from overseas, but I’m still not supporting the Australian market. Those stores import from America or the UK, meaning they purchase from that country’s market, bolstering their numbers not ours. Also, it’s usually cheaper if you’re going to get an import game to just buy it yourself from Ozgames or Play-Asia.

So here comes the conundrum, do I buy the game on its own and support the Australian industry – which may mean in the future we might get these collector’s editions afterall – or spend the same amount of money(ok, $10 more with postage, but damn close) to get the collector’s edition imported from overseas?

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Picture of Atelier Meruru Collector’s Edition unedited from the NIS America Store.

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Jane and The Dragon

I was so glad to discover my local bookstore can order ‘Jane and the Dragon’ in for me (Not sure what Jane and the Dragon is? Go to this earlier post to find out). I much prefer to buy from local businesses than the internet, not just for the personal contact and the sake of warranties (though I’ll not deny either of those to be a factor) but because I want to support local businesses. These are people who quite possibly own the house down the street from me and while I’m sure my one or two books a month (who am I kidding? A week more like it ;p ) don’t seem like much, but it makes a difference between what could be their business staying open or closing down.

My parents owned their own business for as long as I can remember (and another before that one which they owned before I was BORN). When they sold it I was shocked – almost as shocked as when they sold the farm and moved to the Gold Coast (lucky bums). I grew up in a working environment, talking with other local business owners in the center, listening to Mum and Dad talk about the ins and outs of the business and eventually when older, joining those conversations.

Being raised in a family that survived on that income makes me more sensitive to the trials and tribulations of a small business owner and of course more inclined to try and buy locally. Yes I know I could get the book for less online, but you know what happens online sometimes? You get sent an item that was bent in the post by an over-zealous postman, or the item isn’t as described and the returns policy expects you to post it back three days before you even received the item. Not to say that you should never buy online – just I prefer to buy locally if the option is there.

Does anyone else feel strongly either way? It’s always nice to hear other points of view.

Jane and the Dragon picture from the Official Jane and the dragon Website

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Fluro Quilled Echidna

I love reading non-fiction. It feels like I’m resetting my brain. Every second page gives me an idea ranging anywhere from just a little thing I can slip into one of my stories to create some authenticity to entire stories that revolve around that one thing.

Whenever I read a book I know is going to spark my creative fires I keep a stack of post-it note flags beside me. Post it note flags let me quickly write the title (or working title) of the story the idea will most likely go in and a little bit about the idea in case it leaks out of my brain in the flood of other ideas. Of course the problem is some of my non-fiction books end up looking like a fluro quilled echidna, case in point pictured here, and I’m only about half way through.

I also like to read non-fiction just to learn new things. Fiction makes me marvel and question and ponder more philosophical things usually, but non-fiction tends to teach me and inspire in a different way.

I read to be inspired, regardless of fiction or non-fiction labels. How about you?

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Jane and the Dragon

Recently I discovered a cool children’s show called ‘Jane and the Dragon’. Naturally I loved the medieval/fantasy setting, I liked the gaming style animation of the characters and the pencil shaded look of the backgrounds and what REALLY sold me (and this is no surprise to anyone who knows me well) is the main character is a girl training to be a knight.

I found out shortly after watching several episodes it was based on a series of books for children and my mind couldn’t help but ask “How could this possibly get any better?”

I’m currently hunting down the books – they appear to be out of print annoyingly enough but there are many online services designed to help me circumvent THAT issue – partially for my own guilty pleasure but more so for Xander. Why? Because until recently I had no idea how little the realms of fantasy (among other things) have few positive female role models.

Personally it hasn’t been until entering the blogosphere that I even realised this. Perhaps I have always had the good fortune of consistently picking up the right kinds of books where women were strong and brave and bold – often outside of the confines of their usual roles, but sometimes from within those restrictions as well. More likely it is the fact I’ve always been a tomboy and as such gender roles were by and large ignored by me. Some of the posts I read make me roll my eyes at the melodrama, but some have such clever points that I can’t help but feel shocked.

So why then do I care about my son reading stories where women are positive role models? That is because I want him to one day be talking with a girl, disheartened she will tell him ‘I can’t be a *Insert role here* because I’m a girl’ and his response will be a look of bewilderment followed by a reply of ‘who on earth told you that load of balderdash? Of course you can’. Okay, maybe he won’t say balderdash, but what more could a mother want to hear?

Xander already has access to some great tales of feminine strength that are brilliantly disguised as ‘normal’ fun stories ranging from comics to books and even a few video games (there’s a sad few of that last format). He even has several real life role models (of course I count myself, but there are a couple of others as well who I hope can stay in his life for him to both learn from and love). So the future looks promising for my sweet little man and with some luck for that poor misguided girl too.

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If you’re interested you may like to read this nice letter to the girls of the world.

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picture from the official Jane and the Dragon website.

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I do have some proper content to provide you with, but first I just want to gush briefly about my son. While buttering our breakfast crumpets I wondered why on earth he was being so quiet in the living room, so peered around the corner to check, assuming Sesame Street would be filling his little eyes with wonder. Instead I found him on one of the chairs at the dining room table. He had prised open my laptop and grabbed what remained of my morning tea and was drinking the tea with one hand while bashing the keyboard with the other. This is exactly what he perceives my early morning to be ;p It was so cute, but I couldn’t grab the camera for fear he might spill the tea on my precious PC.

OK, on with the content my title promised.

I’m revising the recently finished first draft of (working title) Fanta’s Story – it has a temporary alternate title of ‘All The Stars’ but it’s fighting against ‘The Missing Stars’ and ‘The Dissidents and Stars’ all I know is stars are most definitely going to be involved in the title. More on titles in a later post.

Right now I’m wondering if I may have jumped into my revision a little too soon. There’s plenty of red pen to be found, rewrites scrawled on the back of the page it will belong to, but something still doesn’t seem right. I can’t pinpoint it right now and the work is still far too rough for me to show it to anyone just yet. Possibly my squirgly tummy is reacting simply to that roughness – Storybook Perfect was rewritten about eight times before it even made it to first draft stage NOT THE WAY TO DO THINGS, BELIEVE ME! – or maybe my brain is filled with the paranoia which comes along and plagues writers and other artists from time to time. You know what I mean, that ‘I’ll never be good enough’ attitude that pushes to the fore-front of our grey-matter on occasion to make us doubt our skill, our talent, our resolve, our very self-worth.

Writers often talk about ‘the Muse’ as the wonderful part of our mind that blesses us with the very best ideas. This beast that bursts forth I call the Anti-Muse. Creativity splutters to a halt, and the editor becomes even more perfection driven than usual, critical of everything without reserve. I’m even looking at my website – which long term readers will know took me three days to get to this stage due to a lack of knowledge of CSS code – and thinking it looks too kiddie, like my attempt at a Sailor Moon fan site when I was fifteen. It’s frustrating because I do not have the time to learn the code I need to make the site look more professional but neither do I have the money to pay someone to do it for me and the Anti-Muse sure as heck won’t let me leave it like this for much longer.

The Anti-Muse has some good ideas of things to add, like perhaps the blurb or pitch for my novels and a teaser or taste of the first chapter – I might leave that for when I have the books at a stage where they are ready or almost ready to sell – but she’s none to nice when she offers these ideas up.

A part of me wants to step back from the revision and give myself a little more time, but the other part of me tells me I might as well finish this run off and then come back again at a later date, after all, we all know I’ll never just do one revision anyway.

I think what I really need to do is take the Anti-Muse and go for a drive and leave her in some ditch on the side of the road between here and the highway (there’s a lovely, long stretch of road with not much but fields, trees and distant houses that runs for about 15 kilometres) but considering she’s a part of me (and has a few valid points) I think it might be better to weather the storm and keep reminding myself she’s just my anxieties given voice.

Do you have any good names for your Anti-Muse? Or can you think of any particularly heinous monsters whose name could be used? Let’s have a good laugh at the expense of our inner-critics.

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I’ve been wanting to join a writers group for a long time, craving the chance to both be critiqued by others (particularly those not emotionally invested in myself and my work) and to improve my own critiquing skills. Both time and fear have been holding me back.

The fear was the smaller of the two problems. I’m not an introvert so talking to strangers isn’t a daunting task. What worried me was that the group would not work for me. I worried that either I would dislike them (too harsh with their critiques and/or taking joy in that or too nice and pandering, not allowing themselves to say things that needed to be said) or they would dislike me for the similar reasons to why I might have not liked them.

The group I joined was a delight. We all noticed different things from the same pieces and while opinions occasionally differed it didn’t create any animosity between the opposed individuals. I was also glad to find out I wasn’t  awful at critiquing – which was another fear I had since I’ve never critiqued anything and then been able to listen to the author’s reply, unless you count myself… which would be weird.

While the whole group writes in the speculative fiction genre we all seem to write slightly different sub-genres, giving us all a chance to enjoy the widely varied worlds and styles. It was a fun day with some very cool people. I’m looking forward to our next meeting and a little disappointed it’s a whole month away!

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Have you heard of DIPG?

Neither had I until Xander’s swimming instructor – Mikayla – introduced it to us. DIPG is an inoperable tumour on the brain stem. With so little awareness about it there isn’t much research or funding.

Mikayla is organising a fundraiser which will be super fun for children at the Chipmunks at Lawnton on the 19th of May, so if you’re a Brisbanite (or whatever you call yourself if you live here in Brisbane) please come along. If you can’t make it because of distance or otherwise, head over to the Facebook page, Miette’s Journey and like and share it with your friends. Let’s help spread awareness. (To learn more, click here for details)

Also for Brisbanites, if you listen to 96.5FM tomorrow (Wednesday) at around 9:15am you’ll hear Mikayla promoting the event. If any of my tech savvy friends out there know how to record that snippet it would be fantastic if you could and send me or the page a link to it.

Thanks everyone.

Flyer For Miette's Moment
Flyer For Miette's Moment - click for details

 

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Liebster AwardMs Mandie over at ‘Stuff No One Told Mandie’ gave me a lovely award the other day: the Liebster award. It’s a nice viral award for small blogs which creates a wonderful trail of links helping us all promote one another.

This award is designed for blogs with less than 200 followers which inspire others. As part of accepting this award, there’s a few rules:

1. Copy and Paste the award on your blog

2. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award

3. Pick your five favourite bloggers with under 200 followers who deserve to be recognised and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have received the award

4. Hope the five chosen bloggers will continue to spread the blog award love!

The hard part here is I worry I might inadvertently insult one or some of the people I offer the award to by inferring they have 200 or less followers. I have no real way of telling, so if I offer the award to you and you have more followers than that I’m sorry and I certainly meant nothing by it beyond your blog makes me feel delighted and inspired.

My award receivers are:

One Thousand Lights – an inspired and inspirational artist

Perogies and Gyoza – great book recommendations and a window back to my beloved Japan. Mouth-watering title too.

Writer In Progress – a fellow author enthusiastically trying to ‘break in’

Of The Sea – A very cool insight into freediving and travel, makes me miss being young!

That Book You Like – fantastic book recommendations and a wonderful artist to boot

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There is always a scenario you never considered. Yesterday I was telling you all how my imagination was driving me mental because all that my mind wanted to do was imagine possible outcomes. I thought of wonderful things and awful things that could happen when I was contacted. I never thought I might not have been the only one. There was another woman who tried to go into the seminar with her pram and consequently was refused entry. She’d driven twelve hours to attend the convention (holy heck, 12 hours in a car with a baby, glad that wasn’t me). In all my musings I’d not once thought I was not the only one or might not have been the one he was looking for.

It dawned on me that this is why we have friends and test readers we share our stories with. They can help us see the scenario we never imagined. I know sometimes I’ve been stuck for an answer and talked with T-J about my problem and he has far too often calmly replied ’what if you…’ to which I glare and pout simultaneously for a few moments because he found my answer so easily whereas I’ve been moping and moaning for days over the issue.

These external views can be so helpful, not just to see answers we couldn’t, but to see plot holes and other flaws. I can’t imagine putting a story out for public viewing without first showing it to my close reader friends. These people whose opinions we value are worth more than their weight in gold (tempted to make a bad joke about worth their opinion’s weight in gold). If you have someone like this who compliments your weaknesses, don’t let them go!

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Imagination is the well spring of the story. Without our imaginations the story would not have been written nor could our readers become so swept up within them. Unfortunately for creative types our imaginations are prone to running away with us.

Why this pontification? Because my imagination is driving me crazy. On the weekend our little family went to Supanova. I was particularly excited because a fantastic author was going to be there and I wanted to listen to his seminar. While I took Xander with me to the seminar, my husband waited in line to meet Wil Wheaton – we decided Xander would surely prefer movement and mummy to standing in line and had agreed when TJ was done he would drop by the seminar and grab Xander, hopefully before Xander became sick of the seminar. Upon navigating the crowded halls I arrived at the seminar room only to be told no prams were allowed in the seminar room so I had to leave it unattended outside or miss the seminar. My heart broke. While dodging cosplayers on my return to my husband and the line he was in I wondered why on earth that was a rule, so dropped by the reception of the exhibition centre to ask them. They told me the rule wasn’t theirs, but the attendant at the door had told me it was.

Disappointed I went online the next morning to the convention’s forums and asked ‘why?’. I wasn’t asking for recompensation, I just wanted to know why and whose rule it really was (I find calming down and moving on a lot easier when I understand the why of things). Then on Tuesday I had several emails begging for attention and was shocked to learn the author I had missed the seminar of was looking for me. Me? My head promptly exploded. I was a mix of embarrassment and excitement and my husband couldn’t stop laughing at my red face. The author wants to give me something as an apology, even though he is certainly not the one at fault.

So I contacted him back and now am waiting. It’s nerve wracking. Really it is. This is where my over-active imagination becomes an enemy, not a friend. My mind can’t help but entertain all possible scenarios. My imagination goes to both extremes. Maybe in the heat of the moment I said something that hurt the volunteer who was guarding the doors feelings (I wasn’t a monster, but I wasn’t precisely happy either) and he’ll shake his head at me with pushed together brows, clucking his tongue in disdain. Or on the other hand the positive fantasies are pure self-serving drivel which I’m not writing here because its too embarassing to even admit them aloud (let me confirm though – not sexual!). When you have a writer’s imagination you can’t stop your brain from thinking these things. Even though my mind is well aware that all that will happen is we’ll have a cordial conversation, he’ll give me whatever it is he plans to give me and then we’ll just go back to me reading his books and him writing them my imagination won’t stop sending out all manner of scenarios.

So I’m sitting here at my computer waiting for the reply that will finally let my imagination calm down.

So, am I the only one whose head comes up with dream after dream (or nightmare) while waiting for something? I know I’m not, but I want stories, so please share and give me something to do other than hit the refresh button a hojillion times.

 

*You may notice I never mentioned the author’s name. That is intentional. I didn’t write this post to be a name dropper. I just had to write down all the tight chested, close-throated, hot faced feelings to try and calm myself and temporarily shut up that aforementioned imagination that really is relentlessly making up scenario after scenario. Also, if you know who it is, refrain from commenting it, I do not want to be a name dropper even inadvertantly.