by

Inspired somewhat by this post on naming characters I thought I would tell you all about my recent adventure with naming Storybook Perfect’s protagonist.

Wait a sec you say, didn’t I finish writing Storybook Perfect ages ago – that’s the completed manuscript, right? So why are you naming the character now? I had originally named the character Yui right from the start. She was of Japanese/Australian descent with an Aussie father and a Japanese mother. When she turned eighteen she took her mother’s maiden name as her last name in honour of her deceased mother, so she has an entirely Japanese name.

Originally Yui was Yui Horiba, but recently it occurred to me for authenticities sake I would need to know her name meaning and the kanji she used for her name. For those unfamiliar with the Japanese written language there is the Hiragana(for words of Japanese origin) and Katakana(for words of foreign origin) which are similar to the letters of our alphabet only they cover ‘mora’(syllables) such as ‘ka’, ‘tsu’, ‘ni’ ect. Then they make it really hard by having Kanji.

In a nutshell kanji originated from China and are a large and (often)complex symbol which stands for a word or phrase. Most Japanese children are not fully aware of all the kanji so in many books and manga when a kanji is used the hiragana are written small alongside it so it can be spelled out easily. Most Japanese names have a special kanji attributed to them. I realised I had a serious character flaw in the fact I had no idea what Yui’s kanji or meaning were so I studied up.

I had a dreadful time trying to find the meaning for Horiba – which admittedly was a random Japanese surname that the younger me saw and thought ‘oooh, that sounds cool’ – and eventually came to the decision I might have to drop that last name and pick another.

So I thought it best to start with Yui’s first name. I was fairly certain I didn’t want to change that, but if there was no last name I could match with it and be happy about I might be forced to so I didn’t say never. Yui’s name has multiple meanings depending on the kanji (as with most names). Meanings ranged from tie/link, only and reason and most of those could or were teamed up with the kanji for robe/clothing. With this range of meanings in mind I read through lists of last names and their meanings.

I found a brilliant match almost immediately (It’s enough to make you believe in destiny!) in the surname Watanabe. True Watanabe is almost the Japanese equivalent of Smith, but when you hear what the combination of kanji can read as you will see why I chose it for a protagonist who travels from one dimension to another.

Yui Watanabe can be read with these Kanji

Yui Watanabe in Kanji
The Kanji for Yui Watanabe

as tie/link across boundaries/areas. You’ve got to appreciate that and (not to be too spoiler-tastic with my own book) you learn something more in book 2 about how powerful a meaning that name is for her.

Of course I’m still a little paranoid, I’m only a beginner at Japanese and most of my research on names and kanji has been on the internet (where everything HAS to be true. Right?) so my translation may not be perfect. I’m hoping I might be fortunate enough that someone out there more skilled than I might be able to confirm I have it all right (You’d know someone, wouldn’t you Sammy?).

Out of interest does anyone out there have an interesting name meaning, either for themselves or a character they created?

Lastly I hope I didn’t offend any Japanese people in my descriptions I was decsribing what I knew in the simplest way possible and meant no insult if I made any.

by

I first heard about five year diaries in a quarter column in Kare Kano. (Quarter columns for those who don’t read manga/Japanese comics are small spaces – a quarter page to be precise – where, when the chapter was printed in the serialised magazine it originated from, an advertisement used to be. When the chapters are collected up into a book the space is left blank and the author usually fills it with what might resemble a short blog post or a tweet. They usually talk about their life, or something to do with the comic you’re currently reading.)

When I read about it I was immediately enamoured of the idea. I wanted one. I scoured the bookstores, newsagents and stationery stores around me, but to no avail, I’d started looking for it too late in the year, no one could order them in (apparently, even though they don’t bear any set year date) and they are not usually a desired item.

After almost giving up searching I stumbled across one on the sale table in front of a newagent’s where all the 2012 diaries were stacked up and discounted. The ‘yoink’ as I grabbed it before anyone else could was audible I’m certain.

A five year diary features one date (for example, January first) on each page, but the page is split into five parts, one for each year. So as each year passes you can look back to exactly what you were doing this day last year. I’m using it as a tool to encourage me to accomplish at least one thing with my writing each day. Knowing that Future Me will look back on it and frown if I did nothing is a bigger incentive than just feeling glum when a whole week passes me by with no notable progress.

I’ve been having a great time filling up the pages. Some days the five measly lines I have aren’t enough space for everything, even if I shorten my sentences down to note form. I feel a sense of achievement even just looking back at the previous day’s entry sometimes.

What methods do you use to keep yourself motivated? Do you keep a different kind of diary?

by

I thought I would post this link so everyone can enjoy them too, but basically these lovely folk had an idea to make dust jackets for books which say ‘bugger off I’m reading’ in a nice way.

Best Dust Jackets Ever

I wish these had been around in high school. I used to ride the bus to and from school, and living in a rural area meant the ride to school was about 45 min and home was about half an hour (this is because the bus made a circuit and I had to take the longer trip in the morning but could skip it in the afternoon). I gladly filled the dreary journey with delightful books like ‘Tomorrow When the War Began’ and ‘The Belgariad’ and ‘Wheel of Time’. However, every now and then someone would have to sit beside me, and on occasion they decided my reading a book was me crying out for human contact.

Now I wasn’t anti-friend making, but if I’m reading it’s because I want to, not because I have no other choice. If I didn’t want to read I could stare out the window at the forests and farmland whisking by – it’s a pretty nice view after all (and still better than talking to some of the people on that bus).

What makes me giggle now as I recall this is when I was fourteen one of the girls who sometimes sat beside me was my now sister-in-law! She confided in me she was always intimidated by my book and didn’t want to talk with me, even though she was interested in becoming my friend.

Just as an interesting cultural aside on dust jackets, in Japan (Kyoto specifically) when I bought a few books, they wrapped them in brown paper dust jackets which advertised the store and hid what book I was reading from any prying eyes. It was very cool and I kept the dust jackets even though I removed them. Here’s a picture of them. I love they even put the website and QR code on the inside. Though as a marketing strategy perhaps the QR code should also be on the outside for non-readers to scan…

Japanese Bookstore Dust Jackets
Japanese Bookstore Dust Jackets
by

Wow, I never realised how out of the loop I was. I never even heard of a book trailer until I was reading a blog (Spellbound by Books) and saw at the bottom of one of the posts (this one) a ‘book trailer’. Curious I clicked and entered the world of book trailers.

What a great way to advertise your book in a world full of interactivity. Plus it must be very exciting to see your book on film, even if only as a small advertisement.

Wow! This is so cool! Sorry about the repeated use of exclamation points, but when you feel it, you feel it. I’m super excited and want to make one for Storybook Perfect. Of course I’d need models/actors for my primary characters and I need at least the beach/camp setting and one setting for Azulia (the other world) and I’d have to make the costumes somehow. No idea where I’ll find the time or money for that… but I’m already visualising storyboards in my mind. It’s like someone pushed a cart onto a slope, you can’t stop me now. Of course it will take a while, there’s so much to do both with that and all my other projects, but I’ll find the time somewhere, somehow.

Of course, being a n00b to book trailers in general I really want to see more to get an idea of what is the right and wrong way to go about them, if anyone out there has favourites or favourite-to-laugh-ats please let me know, I’d love to see them all.

by

I’m teaching you all another unusual Japanese word today.

I’m reading Ouran High Host Club, a hilarious manga with an unusual female protagonist and a brilliant harem of men who adore her – or at least hang around her enabling the reader to imagine there could be a possible romantic tryst. While reading I came across the word megane again. Back in my otaku days (otaku being the Japanese word for ‘nerd’ and usually used in reference to a particularly fervent fan of anime and manga) when I downloaded gigabytes of fan-subbed anime, read three or four manga tankobons (graphic novel collections of 6-10 chapters) a day (not exaggerating – every day!) and collected figurines and did cosplay, I knew the word. But as the fervour turned into a more well-paced and restrained enjoyment of manga the word slipped out of my vocabulary but has now been returned.

Megane translates to ‘glasses’ directly, but is often used by otaku to say they have a particular penchant for characters who wear glasses like Uryuu Ishida from Bleach, Kyoya from Ouran High Host Club and Miyuki from Lucky Star. Some mean it in a fetishist way, while others (like me) use it to mean usually their favourite characters are the ones wearing glasses. It’s usually a coincidence for me, they just happen to often have glasses, but some people choose their favourites because of the fetish.

I know today was a bit of a random post, but I hope you enjoyed learning a few new Japanese terms (and hearing briefly about my dark past as a wild otaku!

by

Most authors believe in their muse. The muse is a being that lives somewhere in your heart/mind/soul which inspires you to write. This quixotic creature creates the magic in your stories. She tells you to do something which seems a little odd, but then ties those little oddities up into a great twist or a superb surprise. That moment when the words keep flowing out of your fingertips without you having to think of them – that is when the muse is writing. Often the muse makes magic happen, she gives birth to the amazing idea which you never planned.

Sometimes the muse leads you down an odd path though. My muse has done just that. I have reached a point where my muse insists on a certain thing happening – she won’t proceed without it – but the whole thing seems wrong. It goes against my main character’s personality to do this thing, it would totally change her relationship with another pivotal character and it just doesn’t sit right with the logical part of my brain. But that selfish little @%$*# won’t write another word until I do it. Seriously. I’ve had no inspiration to write in three whole days all because I refused to allow this argument to occur. My muse is stubborn. I tried skipping to a later scene in the book, one I’m eager to write, but she pouted, folded her arms and looked in another direction like she was pretending not to see me at all.

I tried tricking her, writing the explosive argument but with the plan to edit it out later, but she then refused to help me create the heated words she wanted typed, leaving me unable to even satisfy her.

I tried to spite her today by only working on the blog in the hopes she’d come back to the table, but she saw right through that (well she is a part of me after all) and just told me to go on and keep blogging, you need to anyway.

And now, to top it off she’s sitting in a corner with her pencil and book creating wonderful ideas for other projects and calling out for me to pay attention to them. That contrary little wretch. She’s torturing me. Aaagh, is this what the hen-pecked, impotent husband of many years feels like? Unable to escape because of the children (my novels), unable to make my wife happy because he won’t bend on that one little thing that is against his principles even though he usually complies with her every whim? I have no idea what to do!

by

Xander experienced his first day of day-care today. He’s stayed at home with my husband many times before, and he’s spent afternoons with my mother while I’ve had three or four hour shifts but today he experienced care given not by blood relatives and was there for a full day. Typically, he took it better than we, the parents, did.

In the morning as we dropped him off we were both down on bended knee, waving and saying nice and clearly: “Bye-bye Xander, mummy and Daddy are going to work now.” But he didn’t care, he was trying to race over to the slide or the plastic ‘Flinstones’ style cars. Even when we walked out of view all he wanted to do was run around and play with the other kids, there was no backward glance to see if we were lingering behind him like we normally would.

My husband and I consoled ourselves with the thought in a few hours when the novelty wore off he would notice our absence and become distraught. We took great pains to let the centre staff know they could contact either or both of us if he was too distressed.

Of course neither of us received a call. Blessedly I was extremely busy at work trying to ensure there would be nothing left for my boss to worry about when he returns from his leave so the day went by quite quickly for my first eight hour work day in a year and a half. I rushed back to the day-care centre as soon as possible, running a little late because (as always) a customer came in with a long and complicated sale mere minutes before closing. Everyone who has ever worked in retail knows exactly what I am talking about. Naughtily I was speeding just a little but by an incredible stroke of luck someone was speeding much worse than I and they caught the attention of the unmarked police car and not me – and of course I was scared straight by my brush with the law and maintained the correct speed limit the rest of the way to the centre.

When I arrived I found my son happily scribbling on some paper with a girl a little older than he. He looked up, looked back down and scribbled a bit more before doing a double take. He wasn’t particularly upset, but he wasn’t bursting with joy at the sight of me either. Normally when cared for at home he is ecstatic at my return so it was a little knife to my heart.

The carers told me he had been generally happy all day – he had trouble sleeping, but he has trouble sleeping even with his father and nanna so that wasn’t a surprise. I’m glad to hear his first day went so well, but can’t help feeling disheartened that he didn’t miss me more. Or maybe he is an evil genius and this is a ploy to have his vengeance for abandoning him…

by

For those interested/concerned Xander has almost fully recovered now. He took a turn for the worse after my last post, but has bounced back now.

As I catch up on all the posts that I missed over the last few days I curse all the book review blogs I follow. Every single one of them had a review for a book I now desperately want to read. Damn you all stop making me want to spend more money! I would threaten to unfollow them but we all know I’m not capable of that. In fact I should be reviewing more books myself, I haven’t even put up half of my collection on Goodreads yet. There is so much I need to get my rear in gear over. I feel like I’m behind the eight-ball at the moment and I have to remind myself that I’m not under any real pressure because my main job is Xander and that’s going beautifully and everything else is just side projects, but when you don’t get anything done on those side projects for a while it can ruin a good mood fast.

Hope everyone else is feeling a little more accomplished than I am right now.

So I don’t finish this post on a dreary note if anyone out there is on Goodreads let me know so I can befriend you.

by

Xander is in the throes of his first fever. When he was four months he had a mild cold but no fever, and now ten months has passed without a single illness plaguing my poor boy, but late last night he got hot and clingy.

The doctor this morning was HELL. We have a great doctor’s clinic nearby where you don’t have to make an appointment, just show up and wait. Most of the time you’re only waiting 10-15 minutes which you usually wait at a doctor’s office even when you have an appointment anyway. Today was an hour and a half in a packed waiting room with a baby who just wanted to cling and cry.

It’s not an ear or throat infection, his nose isn’t running and he doesn’t have diarrhea so it’s just a random fever. Even though I know it isn’t something to panic about he’s just so sleepy and clingy and sad that it breaks my heart.

Get well soon my little prince!

by

Obviously reading is important to me – not many writers aren’t passionate readers. I am trying my best to pass this passion on to my son as well. He has a large collection of books already at the tender age of 14 months. It’s a mix of all my old favourites (like Graeme Base and Rudyard Kipling) and some new finds from the local bookstore.

We usually read a book together when he first wakes up from a nap, while he’s still quiet so he won’t tear the paper pages in his enthusiasm.

This afternoon I was exhausted so we napped together and when I woke up I was alarmed to find him not lying on the bed next to me. Panicked I ran through the house looking for him and was grateful to see he was safe and sound in the nursery, seated on the floor pretending to read a book with a couple more on the floor. He flashed me a huge grin when I came to the door as if to say “Finally mummy, you’re up, now help me read this.”

He certainly knows his routine ;p