10 October 2021

The YA Fantasy Reading Project: Aug. - Sep. 2021

Greetings, friends. 

I'm sad to report I didn't get much reading done during this two-month period. I was busy reading a friend's book that was a bit of a whopper in size (558 pages!!) and at first thought it might be YA and I could count it, but it's not. It's a traditional coming-of-age high fantasy.  

So, after just wrapping my friend's book, I realized on the last day of September that I hadn't gotten through any YA novels during this period, so in a panic, I reached out for one at the last second. I finished it the next day, but the next day was October, and usually I don't count books in my reading project until I finish them. 

However, I'm going to go ahead and count this book as part of my September reads just so I have something here to post! 

And the other caveat, is technically it's not fantasy. It's a YA horror novel, and there's no magic in the story, but it's filled with ghosts. Horror is often called dark fantasy so I just figure I'd give myself a little leeway to count this as a YA read. Plus, it was excellent and I couldn't put it down, so I thought I had to spread it on the blog for people to see. 

I read Ryan Douglass's novel The Taking of Jake Livingston. It had been on my list for a long time just on the basis of the cover, which definitely pulled me in and let me know we're dealing with spooky things. 

So, technically not fantasy. Definitely horror. But...here we are, and I want to share it. Check it out! 

I hope for the next two months I get caught up and read a lot more YA fantasy so I can share the good books I've been reading with all of you. 

Thanks for stopping by!

05 October 2021

#auswrites - October

Source: Twitter

Confession: I saw this on Twitter but I have no idea what the #auswrites handle is referring to or what it stands for. I’m supposed to do this on Twitter every few days I guess, but I just thought it would be a nifty idea for a blog post instead, so here we are. 

What genres do you usually read? 

I primarily read fantasy and horror, and as of late, it’s mostly been YA fantasy. I also continue to read comics and manga in these genres, as well as BL webcomics through Lezhin, Manta, and Tappytoon, among other apps. 

What genres do you write? 

I write fantasy. I originally thought it was going to be adult fantasy, but I’ve discovered and accepted through comments from my fellow writers that I seem to be more suited towards YA, so I’ve decided to embrace that and fully commit myself to writing YA fantasy. Maybe I’ll do some NA too, but so far, YA is where it’s at. 

As much as I would love to write horror, I haven’t cracked how to do that, let alone have been able to envision a straight horror plot. I used to call myself a fantasy and horror writer, but have since dropped that part of my bio since I haven’t produced anything in the genre. Maybe someday in the future I will! 

How much planning do you do before you write a book? 

Characters are usually who I envision before I come up with a plot. The plotting itself is a nightmare. It’s been very difficult. I started using Novel Factory software to try and put together some kind of plot before drafting so usually I’ll fill their template out first…and then completely destroy it while writing. Based on how my last book went, I seem to do a lot of extensive thinking and preparation while I write the manuscript; not beforehand. It’s very much a write-pause-think pattern of creation. I got a book out of it, but it certainly was not an efficient process. 

Write a tweet-length story with your childhood toys as characters. 

No thanks. Short stories and micro/flash fiction are just too hard for me. 

Your new work has just become a bestseller! How will you celebrate? 

I would love to throw a small get-together with my closest friends but that’s not realistic. So what I’d probably end up doing is exploding over social media about it and live in a state of bliss where nothing registers in my brain except for the news of being a bestseller. Then after the glow has dimmed a little, I’ll find out what that means financially and work on a budget towards the next book. I don’t expect to make a living, as awesome that would be, but I would love for the publication of one book to be able to finance the next one. 

Show and tell: an ornament in your home. 

I’m guessing “ornament” has a loose meaning here, so I’m going to focus on my Japanese festival masks. I’ve got a kitsune mask and a tengu mask. I probably should’ve gotten the traditional white kitsune mask but I’d never seen a black one before and I thought it was gorgeous, so I snatched it up. I got the kitsune mask at Amanoiwato Shrine in Takachiho, Miyazaki, and the tengu mask at Izumo Taisha Shrine in Izumo, Shimane. The kitsune and tengu are famous creatures from Japanese folktales and mythology, and since I love myth and legends, I thought they were a great purchase. My head’s too big to wear them, but as you can see, they look great on my wall. 

Is there a specific time of day you write?

For the longest time I wrote late into the night (like 3am!), but the older I’ve gotten, the harder that is for me to do. I also seem to only write on weekends now, based on my work schedule. I may start writing on my computer around noon or so, maybe earlier (but no earlier than ten) and spend many hours on the pc with breaks. I try not to be on the computer past nine at night now. So…I just do marathon writing sessions on Saturdays and Sundays when possible. 

Share a photo of yourself from the past. 

This picture is from 2012 or 2013, I think? I’m cosplaying at Colossalcon in Sandusky (as a female Gankutsuou/Count of Monte Cristo) and the camera person was unavailable at the booth so voice actor Ian Sinclair took this selfie of us. It’s one of my favorite pics with a guest ever. 

What do you look for when you edit your own work?

There’s far too much to look for, and far too much I miss. But one thing’s for certain—I repeat myself all the time. I try to look for duplicate words as well as an overreliance on certain kinds of punctuation (I have a tendency to use ellipses and em dashes all the time). I try to replace repeated words where I can and cut down overused punctuation styles. I’m a fan of semicolons too, and sometimes I have to go back and just make things into separate sentences. Of course, I still miss when I have repetition, so I will always need another set of eyes on my work to catch these sorts of mistakes! 

Write a tweet-length story which incorporates romance. 

I plead the 5th!

A movie you loved that we probably never heard of. 

Oh, wow…this is kind of hard! But I’ve got one—there’s an old anime film that I grew up watching that I’m sure nobody remembers, and it’s called Sea Prince and the Fire Child. It’s sort of a Romeo and Juliet tale and I remember it made me really sad, but I also liked it because I thought it was a sweet love story. I don’t know if the anime is from the late 70s or 80s, but it definitely has a vintage look to it.

What has made you stop reading a book before you finished? 

If there are errors in the book…more than just an occasional typo. Every book has one or two typos, even though editors have combed the words closely, so I can let a couple slide. But when it’s excessive, I want to stop. Unfortunately, I've seen my fair share of books that were published without a proper copy edit.

Problematic terms (like “brute” or “exotic” for a POC) or cavalier mentioning of mental illnesses (casually calling someone “bipolar” as an insult, for example) makes me pause or quit--it depends on the context and how it’s used, but more often than not, there’s no justification for it and it’s lazy writing. 

Pace and voice also make me quit reading, too, if I find issues with them. I usually will stop reading a book if it takes an effort to wade through a text because the pace is a slog with not enough happening, or the narrative voice gets on my nerves. 

I DNF frequently. Life’s too short to read books that aren’t appealing. 

What is a challenge you want to overcome in your own writing?

I’ve got two of them. The largest one is to overcome my inadequacies with plot. I just have the hardest time giving my characters enough to do to move things forward, and to have all of what they do be relevant and with purpose. I frequently feel like I have no idea what I’m doing as I write, and I generate so much work for myself in the drafting stages as I try to figure things out. 

The other challenge is with romance. I am not a romance writer or reader, but I love it when there are love stories in fiction. I want to root for couples being together and I love relationships that blossom along the way. As a reader I do find relationships hard to believe, though, so it often takes a lot of convincing from the writer for me to accept a couple’s relationship as organic and “real.” Because I’m so critical as a reader, I’m even more critical of myself as a writer. I doubt my ability to write relationships so, so much. I’m always worried that it doesn’t come off as natural, or that the relationship is built on a shaky foundation where people can’t accept the relationship as legitimate. I will probably always have some sort of romantic aspect in my books, but I’ll always be afraid that they won’t be authentic enough. I’d like to get over this and write believable romance. 

Show and tell: what do you collect?

Since I’m in Japan I collect omamori, the amulets that they sell at shrines. I think the fabric and embroidery on them are beautiful, and each shrine has their own unique prayer amulet. I like to think that I am supporting the shrine while getting some good vibes from the kami

As you can see, I also collect little anime goods from gacha machines or from anime shops like the Jump Shop or Animate. I’ve made what I call my little wall shrine that celebrates the things I love about Japan – shrines and temples, and anime. 

Share the opening line of one of your works. 

“Late on the night of Lirien’s eighteenth birthday, his father walked into the sea.”  -- Son of the Siren

Do you believe in ghosts? 

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I do. I’ve seen something freaky growing up that had absolutely no rational explanation to it; everything about it was unreal, and I could only think of calling it a ghost or spirit because that was the best fit for it at the time.  It still is the only way I can think of to describe it.