Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Tag Archives: Retriever

Finished “Dangerous Men”

I started Dangerous Men because I felt like writing something with a lot of negative emotions flaring and because, after all, comedy is the difficult thing to make. That would make drama the easy part.

Surprisingly enough, it developed from the expected one-shot into around 24,500 words. Furthermore, it has rooted into one of the existing universes, Retriever of all of them. While it makes some sense as it is one of the few stories I have placed in the USA. However, I have written USA worlds before that did not mingle into the Retriever.

The character that actually linked the universes was the most unexpected one of all, but I like how it turned out in the end.

Dangerous Men follows Jake Kaibara, a Japanese-origin, LA-based gunrunner who meets a fellow Japanese-ancestry inmate while in prison, Hideyori Alexander (who was supposed to have gotten a different name at some point, but apparently it got stuck). Kaibara falls in lust with and pulls some strings to hire him.

And that’s all I can say, I guess. The story has some sex, some violence, some bad feelings, and a grey Siberian husky who was supposed to be a cat in the first draft, I swear.

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Universe Weaving

You might have noticed on the last post that there was a blank day in 2013 when I did not write. That day I was in Tokyo, more precisely in Hikawa Jinja, and I decided that I wanted to delve deeper into the Hyakki Yagyō universe. To be honest, I had not really let go of that verse and last year I wrote about 7500 words in related stories. However, what I felt like doing that day was adding to the main book, to the original story. I took notes for two new chapters, and when I came back I filed those notes with all the writing material, and sort of forgot about them.


Hikawa Jinja, Akasaka, Tokyo, with awful lighting, I know.
 

I did not really forget about them, if I am completely honest. I just put them aside because I was somewhat scared of picking up the main book again and finding that I could not add to it. To my surprise, it was not that hard – as a matter of fact it has almost been ridiculously easy. The two chapters have been written, and they have flowed rather well – aside from not feeling like writing sometimes due to personal issues. Both chapters have been written, one set in Hikawa Jinja, as planned, the other one set in Ueno Zoo, also as planned, adding about 11,000 words to a 51,000 word story. Right now, I am considering though writing some more within that verse, another marginally-related story, set a few years after the first (and main) one, but I am scared that it’ll get out of hand XD”

On another note, I have been noticing lately my little obsession for weaving universes into each other. I knew that Lifequake and Axis 95/11 belonged to the same universe, but during a recent edit I found myself linking both to Blood Moon. While it makes sense, well, it is strange that the chance was so open and it was such an easy thing to do. In the same way, I am now absolutely sure that The Barman and Shorai are likewise joined – by the dogs, if you want details. Apparently Tamon will be Tadashi’s obedience instructor when he gets his dog Taki in a few years (yes, Shorai should last a few years. And I’m on its sixth month. Urgh.). Then there is also the Retriever universe, which in my mind still lacks a closing with the secondary characters. And well, of course, the Osaka Guardians series…

While I don’t think this is something ‘new’ for me, it suddenly hit me as I wrote the edit into Axis 95/11 that I really like those little insiders. They are fun. I like weaving.

Hidden in the Stats

Sometimes it is fun to find out what people Google to get to you, and I was quite surprised one day a few months ago when checking the lists, I found this…

Referring to this post.

I was surprised that someone would look for the title of the post within the blog itself (the archives are easily findable), but I did not think much of it until the other day when suddenly the stats went uuuup in one day, and most of those visits had been to one particular post:

Those visits had come from the US. I forgot to screencap the map, but a couple of days later, said map looked like this:

And while I know that it is the most logical way, as most traffic would come from the US in any case due to the blog’s language and the rate of netizens that come from North America… I just have to ask.

Chase, is that you?

Akira Kellers’ Social Media’ing

Akira is the supporting character in Retriever. He is quite a geek so he is somehow active on the Internet. I originally made a Facebook account for him, but considering recent policy changes, he might have it erased any time, thus I back-upped it here. I think it gives quite a panoramic on the guy. Enjoy his rants right up till the book’s start-up XD


Akira Kellers

About Akira:
Just your average IT expert ^^

Basic info:
Birthday: 2 February 1983
Gender: Male
Relationship Status: Single
Languages: American English and Japanese
Religious views: Pastafarian

Work and education
Employers: 1-0-0-1 Technical Solutions, LA
University: University of California, Los Angeles
Secondary school: Homeschool

Living
Current location: Los Angeles, California
Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Akira’s Favourites:
Music: The God Machine, XJapan
Books: Comics, Manga, maNga
Movies: Akira, The Matrix, Stargate, X-Men Movies
Television: Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory, The Dog Whisperer, The Walking Dead, Supernatural, Stargate Universe, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: The Next Generation
Sports teams: LA Lakers, Dallas Cowboys, Tokyo Giants
Activities: Pi Day, Think Geek, Money, Jenga, Binary code, Videogames, Xubuntu, Internet, Coding
Interests: Manga, Comics, Watching TV, Videogames, Hawaii, Computers, Coding
Other: Marvel, Akira (manga), Richard Stallman, xkcd, Computers, Hawaii, Linux, Ubuntu, Fedora, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Dead or Alive 4, Starbucks, Mahjong Trails, The Darwin Awards, Spiked Math, DC Comics, Adventure Writer’s Competition, Windows, Macintosh Computers, Stephen Hawking, Geeks Are Sexy

Recent Posts:

Akira Kellers
Clients from Hell: Client: (lividly) “This needs more blow. It’s not…
June 2 at 9:28pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Clients from Hell: Client: “Why is this line bigger and bolder than…
June 2 at 9:28pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Clients from Hell: ClientLast night I dreamed that the site was made out of…
June 2 at 9:32pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
🙂

Olga Nunes : We Love xkcd
June 2 at 9:38pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Yes, lady, there IS porn on the Internet. No, I can’t do anything to keep it away from your kid, that’s YOUR job. I can sell you a cybernanny program though 😀
June 2 at 9:47pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
01110100011010000110010100100000011010010110111001110100011001010111001 (the internet is for porn~)
June 2 at 9:54pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
I guess it’s the Japanese blood in me?
Emoticons | Evoticon – Web 2.0 kaomoji, facemark and smiley Dictionary
June 3 at 4:24pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Clients from Hell: Client: “Where can I find the site? I want to be…
June 3 at 7:49pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
I love this page. Relaxes me XDD
自分だけの金魚をブログに飼ってみませんか?「ぼくの金魚鉢」は、自由にレイアウトできる金魚鉢ブログパーツです。金魚をドラッグ&ドロップしてオリジナルの金魚鉢を作っちゃおう!
June 3 at 7:50pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
There are 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don’t
June 3 at 7:54pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Don’t you love Saturday morning shifts? トス!!( ’ ‘)ノノ⌒●~*
June 4 at 2:02pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
ninjas > pirates
June 4 at 2:07pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
but Samurai vs Ninja???? (I’m still betting on the ninja though…)

June 4 at 2:09pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Wanna go to Hawai’i…
June 4 at 6:48pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Clients from Hell: Me: “How can I help you today, ma’am?” Client: “Is…
June 4 at 8:21pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Clients from Hell: How do you spell….
June 4 at 8:28pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Japanese terror movie night! [壁]ロ゚)ハッIt’s even better than monsters movie marathon night…
June 5 at 12:15am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
But first I give you this (^^)

June 5 at 12:17am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
二日酔い…
June 5 at 10:12am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Am I weird for loving this one?
Tug of War – Spiked Math
June 5 at 3:21pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Try addblock =P

June 6 at 12:35am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
1-0-0-1 Technical Solutions, how may I be of help? -.-
June 6 at 11:38am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
*________*
Snow on Mauna Kea in June
June 6 at 2:38pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Does explain a fucking lot………..

June 6 at 5:47pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
I do too. But only when they are wrong…

June 6 at 11:34pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
OTZ
Nerd Friends [Cartoon]
June 6 at 11:36pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy ZZzz(_ _*)
June 7 at 6:06pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers

June 7 at 8:39pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Clients from Hell: Missing the point
June 8 at 11:13pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
ァ ‘`,、’`,、’`,、’`,、(´▽`) ‘`,、’`,、’`,、’`,、’`,、
Stan Lee is making me a super hero! on Twitpic
Where “me” is obviously not me, but Yoshiki-san

June 9 at 8:26am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
ROFL

June 12 at 10:38am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
……………………

June 12 at 10:50am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Looking for cheap Hawai’i flights
June 12 at 11:56am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers

June 17 at 12:47pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
:(){ : |:& };:
June 17 at 8:50pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers

June 17 at 9:02pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Best Love Triangle Ever

June 17 at 9:50pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers

June 18 at 12:32am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
ゴロゴロ(((=_ェ_=)(=_ェ_=)))スリスリ

June 18 at 12:36am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Negotiated vacations with boss. Hawaii, here I come!!!
June 18 at 10:43pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
ィェィv(゚▽^*)ノヽ(ー゚ )ノヽ(゚ )ノヽ( )ノヽ( ゚)ノヽ( ゚ー)ノヽ(*^▽゚)v
June 18 at 10:49pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
I hear you man

June 19 at 1:17am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
………. faitooooo

June 19 at 10:37pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Now I don’t know what to think…

June 19 at 10:41pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Rolling~

June 19 at 10:43pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
(≧∇≦)ノ彡 バンバン!

June 20 at 11:27pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Clients from Hell: Email correspondence with an older client: Client:…
June 20 at 11:31pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Clients from Hell – Me: “You’re going to get a lot of people stopping…
June 20 at 11:31pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Clients from Hell – Staring at computer screens gives me nosebleeds….
June 21 at 3:54pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers

June 21 at 4:14pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
(●ゝω・)ノ【I bow to your greatness☆】

June 23 at 12:16pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Work was so slow that I beat pinball max high-score and nobody entered the shop while I was playing. FML.
June 30 at 11:20pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
かっこいい ロボット 金魚

July 1 at 12:27am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
waaaaaaaaaaaant
Think Geek – Cntrl Alt Del Cups
July 2 at 11:01am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
*____________________*

July 2 at 9:10pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers

July 2 at 10:32pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
So true it hurts

July 3 at 8:29pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
I like pit bulls… and GSD… and rotties! 秋田犬 も

July 5 at 12:10am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
~●))))☆O=(`_` )パンチ!

July 7 at 11:40am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
………………

July 10 at 10:42am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Storage room cleaning. I hate spiders. 大嫌 =_=;
July 12 at 6:57pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
BUT on the bright side, I got my tickets! Found a semi last minute vacation package and I’m flying for Honolulu in a week! (THANK YOU FOR THE TIME OFF, BOSS!)
July 12 at 6:59pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
memebase was down 0_0 Longest five minutes of my life
July 13 at 6:56pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
meanwhile… in 1001…

July 13 at 6:58pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
*dies laughing*
Atheist Headgear
July 13 at 8:40pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
>D

July 13 at 9:46pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
*prepares resume*

July 13 at 11:16pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers

July 14 at 10:24am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Massive facepalm

July 14 at 10:27am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
CSI:Miami joke, plz

July 14 at 12:10pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers

July 15 at 7:24pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
I wonder if they did this according to the xkcd guy…

July 15 at 7:28pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Clients from Hell – Would you settle for a metrosexual rainbow?
July 15 at 7:32pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
problem?

July 16 at 5:58pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
DNT: do not tweet

July 16 at 5:59pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
omg yes

July 16 at 7:16pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
……

July 17 at 11:29am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
*does not comment*

July 17 at 11:42am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
told a costumer of his vacations and was asked if his passport was ok. Hm… Hawaii is still USA, dude
July 18 at 5:20pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
BUT anyways. Almost ready! My flight is tomorrow morning. Luggage check. Tickets check. I’m taking the laptop, so I should be able to update and show you guys what you are missing
ヾ( ^ω^)ノ
July 18 at 5:22pm .. Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
… YES I am taking sun lotion, and no, I won’t disintegrate if I am exposed to the sun. I won’t sparkle either wtf
July 18 at 5:23pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
sudo apt-get install vacations -hawaii
July 18 at 5:26pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
I’m on your FB, spamming your newsfeed… really, I need a life… or google+!
July 18 at 5:30pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers

July 18 at 5:47pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
I Just Kick Things for No Good Reason
July 18 at 8:49pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
*snort*

July 18 at 8:49pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
OTZ

July 18 at 8:51pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
IS OFF TO HAWAII
July 19 at 11:46am . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
AAAAAAAAAAAND IN HAWAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
July 19 at 6:55pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
sat down next to this guy who was playing technologically impaired duck and fixed his computer (I know, I KNOW!). He’s treating me to a beer later in thanks LOL
July 19 at 6:57pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Is off to the beach. I did not come to Hawaii to stay on FB in my hotel room. I got the best view, btw. And a terrace.
ィェィv(゚▽^*)ノヽ(ー゚ )ノヽ(゚ )ノヽ( )ノヽ( ゚)ノヽ( ゚ー)ノヽ(*^▽゚)v
July 19 at 6:59pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Akira Kellers
Back, and off again some food and free drinks! Admit it, you guys are dying of envy! AND I will come back tanned. You won’t recognize me MWAHAHAHA じゃね!
July 19 at 9:04pm . Cool • Say Something • Pass it on

Narita – Hanoi

When I was writing Retriever I really had a headache out of Akira and Gabriel’s transfer from the inbound USA flight to the outbound Vietnam flight in Narita. I was waiting for my plane to come back when I heard the call for the Hanoi flight. It was too juicy to let pictures slide by.

Terminal 1. Gate 18. 10.30 flight to Hanoi operated by Vietnam Airlines / Japan Airlines. Of all the flights, of all the hours, of all the gates. One in a million chance. It worked XD

Retriever Feedback from the Adventure Writer’s Competition Panels

The Adventure Writer’s competition [link], for which I wrote Retriever sent a critique of the book, rather uplifting one:

Panel # 1: The prologue left me a little flat, but once I got into the story proper I was swept along. I really like where the story is headed – just needs polishing.
Panel # 2: Your opening paragraph is fantastic, except for the one part of the first sentence. I’ve never heard of someone snapping his tongue, and I’m not sure what that means. I stopped in the middle of reading to try and picture what that might look like. As a general rule, don’t force the reader to stop while they try to puzzle out something you have written. Maybe Aaron Yen could show his distaste with a different gesture.
Competition director: Look – this has great potential. Unfortunately, you scored in the middle of the pack technically and that kept you out of the Top 5. This is good – polish it and move forward.

When I wrote to the Adventure Writer’s Competition & Panel Director to thank him for his time, he replied this:

You have great potential – know that and move forward!!

While probably he was just being polite, I also got “scores” on several topics:

  • Opening/Prologue / Chapter One: Does the story start at the correct place, with an interesting,intriguing hook? Is there a good introduction of characters and plot? Has the writer revealed enough information, or too much too soon?
  • Setting: Is it clearly defined without extraneous detail? Is there a sense of time and place?
  • Characterization: Are they skillfully developed, multi-dimensional, and believable? Can you emphathize with the hero/heroine? Is the villian evil? Are their actions motivated?
  • Plot Line: Is the plot line interesting, unique, skillfully developed?
  • Dialogue: Is it natural? Does it move the story? Is it distinctive to each character? Is it appropriate to the genre? Is dialogue well- balanced with the narrative?
  • Narrative: Is it necessary, interesting? Does it progress the story? Is it the character viewpoint rather than the author-intrusive?
  • Pacing Does the story flow smoothly? Is every scene essential to the story? Are there highs and lows of conflict?
  • Motivation: Is the motivation genuine and not contrived? Is it compelling?
  • Point of View: Is it clear and concise? Are transitions smooth and the changes logical?
  • Style / Voice: Is the writing vivid and evocative? Is it special, unique?
  • Relationship: Can you feel the tension, magic, excitement? Does the relationship progress at a satisfactory rate?
  • Mechanics: Grammar, punctuation, and spelling
  • Format: The format follows generally accepted guidelines

Each topic was rated on a 1-10 scale and my “score” was a 6 for all of them except for the “Relationship” bit (5/10), which was supposed to be awkward anyway, giving me a total of 83 points out of 150… which is not bad for a novel written in three months. The general “grade” was:

Good – some structure needed

I shall keep trying, and doing it harder ^^

Check out the excerpt for Retriever here if you don’t know what I am talking about:

ETA: And so my dear beta feels vindicated, the highest score was 108/150, and I would be fourth if these had been the only factors at hand – which they were not, obviously XD

NaNoWriMo 2011: Before and After. Part 2: After


It is the evening of December 1st (though the blog tells you it’s December 2nd, I blame it on internetlessness at home) and I’m home sleepily snugglinng my slanket, and NaNoWriMo 2011 is over. Once again, lack of internet shows in the updated wordcount on the Nano page, so I’ll show you a few screenshots of my spreadsheet. The final count at 00:00 today was 107153 words, which is up to date my highest NaNo count. Comparison (click for bigger):

I plan NaNo in advance with a nice little outline that usually is not that little and is at times blatantly ignored. Although the idea is to write 1667 words a day, my ‘need to’ count is 1500-words for weekdays and 2500 words during weekend days. Apparently I am not too good at following guidelines, as the next spreadsheet shows XD

First and second columns are really straightforward, day of the week and date; the third is the Office of Letters and Light’s official wordcount; the fourth is the cumulative wordcount that I need in my 1500/2500 scheme (column five); column six is the actual cumulative wordcount and column seven is the daily wordcount. Finally the eight column is ‘words missing to 50k’. I apparently went a bit overboard though XD The graphs to the right are my cumulative count (green) vs the OLL cumulative (pink) on the first row, along with sector percentage to the upper leftmost (halwfay through the month is in red for missing, green for done), and my actual cumulative vs my own cumulative count on the bottom left.

The first 19 days I focused on my planned novel, The Shikigami of Trust, of the Osaka Guardians series. It ended up having two extra chapters and did not come out completely as expected, but most of the time I had fun with it. It was however about 9000 words longer than expected, two extra chapters and a ‘cumulative extra of about 3k (you know the drill, click for big):

The structure of the Osaka Guardians series tries to be the same for all books: Prologue (1000 words), Chapter 0 (2000 words), a number of regular chapters (about 20, each 3000 words) and an Epilogue (1000 words); the Prologue and the middle chapter show the same scene from different points of view. What made Trust special this time was it was the first time since forever that I had a strong female character taking up the co-protagonist role (I just made to wordcount the post, see what NaNo does to you? XD) and the absolute first time of an heterosexual NC17 scene – time for discoverings XD. It flowed up rather well, even during the scenes that were not planned. The average daily wordcount was close to 4000, but of course it is very biased by the weekend days and the first-day burst, and the total word count is 74238 pending a long process of editing.

I was not planning to continue writing, NaNo-wise, and I had nothing in store after Trust; however, just for the hell of it, I started Undeliverable, in the Retriever universe, with nothing but a couple of very basic ideas, and started developing them on the go. A few words to 33k, I’d say I’m halfway the story (actually, Undeliverable’s word count is a bit higher after adding some snippets I had previously written following random ideas, but those don’t count for NaNo, the final real count for it today is 35275). No clue of what is going to happen with it, but I want to finish it, eventually, although not at the same rhythm (2992 words per day, on average).

The total daily average has been 3572 words, higher during Trust than during U/D, which makes sense considering that the former was planned and the later is being thought of ‘on the go’. I have missed the Interent quite a bit during the writing process, in order to check facts as I was writing, especially travelling distances, but that’s what’s editing is for. All in all, NaNo’2011 went rather well and kept me distracted during long dark evenings with bad weather, but now I can do other things, after all, I’ve just gotten myself Kaplan and Dubro’s Yakuza. Japan’s Criminal Underworld and tomorrow (today XD) I got a few upcoming train hours. I will pack up a pen and post-its…

Planning (a.k.a. musings in pre-NaNoLand)

A short or relatively-short story usually requires less planning than something… say 30k words. In that case, I usually just let things flow with just the help of a few notes – a small notebook is always handy for that. However, now that November is approaching, a.k.a is NaNoWriMo [link] time and I got free evenings I thought about writing a bit about planning.

A while back I talked about mindmapping [link] and how I found it useful for allocating (is this mainstream word too, or just nerdy word?) and organizing a great deal of information in the same place. However, when planning something bigger, it might not be enough.

The first thing I need is a premise, or a seed. That can be anything, whether a scene, a situation or a character, sometimes even the ending of a story, sometimes just the beginning. The premise has to be, of course, expanded. If you have read the excerpt of The Shikigami of Life [link], the scene that shows in the Prologue, Nao strangling Takuma, was the only premise for the whole story.

Once the premise is set I start turning it in my head, and it fleshes out until I got a rough idea of what I am going to do, or so would be the idea… I am guilty of just starting writing without much idea of what was going to happen, just make a rough graph and type away. Anyway, when working on a complex, long story, what I try to do is organize a scheme. That gives me both a plot line to follow and also helps me keep the structure (e.g., for the Osaka Guardians, 1000 words per scene, 3 scenes per chapter; the prologue scene belongs to the middle chapter; there’s a chapter 0 of descriptions). It also helps not to forget about the important information that I need later on to give coherence to the plot twists, since they’re supposed to be a surprise for the reader, but I should know what is going on. Right now my outline for this NaNo, The Shikigami of Trust is about 2300 words vs. an estimated of 65000.

Something else I do around this stage is flesh out the secondary characters by dragging up their names. Though in the scheme, they are just… for instance ‘American-Ox Guy’, all the characters that have been thought up at this stage are named. It speeds up the process of writing and does not break the flow to have to name a character in the middle of a scene (see? Back to the mindmapping and my intel XD).

Research takes a good deal of the planning stage. It might be something simple as ‘what is the sport team in Honolulu’ to a ton of information, like reading through Nevada’s gaming and employment laws. Research does not only make the story more accurate, it helps its development. Most of the time research helps me round up the details of a story to give it a more wholesome feeling (sheesh, I’m abusing the word XD). Related, sometimes it is good to delve into your own world: mapping and drawing always comes handy – even if you’re not good at it, it helps describe something when you need to.

Usually when I use the planning scheme I have a complete outline by the time I start writing, I especially use that on the Osaka Guardians because the books are linked and I need to keep a general timeline that they all share. Sometimes, however, I just outline the main hits that had to happen and… improvise.

Because down in the end, it would be no fun if everything worked like in the outline. Once you start writing and the characters take over any and everything can happen… especially if there’s an Okonogi involved.

P.S.: The Adventure Writers’ Competition is still up and running. You can vote for RETRIEVER here =D [link]. I promise a signed copy of the book if you go vote and it gets published out of this ^^

Dogs: Ima, Taki, Bri

I decided to write about dogs because I’ve realized they have somehow hijacked a few plot twists. Thus, here’s to their dog’s lives, some rant.

Bri, the Rottweiler (Retriever)

Bri is Aaron’s puppy, a 10-week old Rottweiler. I wanted a reportedly-aggressive dog for this, and I actually ran a completely biased and statistically insignificant poll through people I knew about what breed they considered more aggressive, a Doberman or a Rottweiler. Lately the pitbull breed has been gathering some evil reputation, but Rottweilers and Dobermans? Nightmare material for many. The point is that when I got tired of asking, Rottweilers had been marked as the most aggressive and dangerous dog.

Behold the blood-thirsty beast, and its adult version:

 

The American Kennel Club [link] describes the Rottweiler as a compact medium-large robust and powerful dog, with a characteristic black and brown coat. The Rottweiler’s normal temperament is calm, intelligent, self-confident and courageous, with an inherent desire to protect home (which makes it a good guardian dog). When introduced to strangers it comes across as aloof, but it is highly adaptable and has a strong willingness to work.

So what’s the deal with the super-killing machine? A fit Rottweiler is all muscle, and has a big head. It is a strong dog and has a strong bite. Does it make it dangerous? Only when the owner is stupid and can’t take care of it and properly train it, I think, but no more dangerous than say… a German Shepherd, and let me tell you, a pissed-off German Shepherd biting hurts. But German Shepherds got Rin Tin Tin as ‘role model’, and Rottweilers are evil-guy dogs. I have seen terribly aggressive toy poodles , but a poodle bite is laughed of. If a huge Rottweiler bites can cause a lot of damage, and then the breed is spawn of the devil.

There were a few mean Rottweilers in Retriever, i.e. Rottweilers trained to attack and cause damage. I wanted Bri to exist because it is not the breed what makes the dog “evil”, because I believe there are few “evil” dogs (not zero, there are some lost cases, I am sure), but many stupid owners who make the dog aggressive out of training.

Ima, the black Labrador Retriever (Osaka Guardians)

 

Ima could have been a Labrador as much as he could have been a Belgian Shepherd, but in the end I decided on the “stereotypical” helping dog. According to the American Kennel Club [link] Labradors’ temperament is a trademark of the breed. They are gentle, outgoing, eager to please and non-aggressive; they are considered very intelligent and adaptable.

Labradors are the typical seeing-dogs for the blind, they are human-dogs (the same way there are dog-people XD), easy to train, hard-working and loyal. It is amazing seeing one of them ‘at work’. However there are many more things dogs can do. While checking for dog-therapy, I found the Psychiatric Service Dog Society (PSDS) [link], and the amount of things a dog can do for a person is… almost unbelievable. Dogs can be part of the therapy for major depression, bipolarity (manic phase), panic, anxiety, agoraphobia, social phobia, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, double personality and schizophrenia. Of course, it is not only Labradors that can do these tasks, but I know what Ima is up to…

… in the future, maybe, because right now he only cares about three things, tennis balls, shoes and his human… then again, caring for his human is the base of all the psychiatric rehab work, right? ^^

Taki, the Landseer Newfoundland (You & I)

I am not really sure whether the Landseer is a sub-breed (is it even called that?) of the Newfoundland or just a coat-color denomination. The standard Newfoundland has a solid-colored coat (usually dark), while the Landseer is white with black markings.

They are large dogs, and the AKC [link] describes them as sweet as their main trait. They are also gentle and capable of draft work, and apparently possess natural lifesaving abilities. I read somewhere that they are known for standing between kids and bodies of water if they don’t “judge” the human pup capable of handling themselves in the water.

They are very protective in an… unmoving way. They won’t jump and bite but… stand. Unmovable. Even if they are big dogs they can be kept in an apartment, they tend to become lazy and overweight if they don’t walk regularly though, and they drool and shed. Huge dog with huge mouths, lots of space to generate drool, and lots of coat to shed hair.

Taki is a bit bigger than the average Landseer, so he was a huge fluffball when he was a pup; the owner of the Kennel could not sell him and was going to kill him. Fortunately he got adopted. His mission at home is to turn both his owners crazy, and to remind one of them that food and sleep must come regularly. Aside from real psychological therapy, dogs can provide a huge time anchor, giving a person a routine.

He is a slow-motion dog, but he is terribly stubborn. When he sets his mind into anything, whether it is ‘food’, ‘sleep’, ‘walk’ or ‘you shall not pass’, he sets his body on it, and stares. He can either tug on sleeves or just stand in the way, with utter calmness.

I wanted Taki to be a huge dog from the beginning, but usually large dogs are high-energy dogs who need lots of exercise. I had not even heard of the Landseer variation until I started doing research on the topic; originally he was set to be a Sand Bernard, and I don’t really remember why I discarded that idea, maybe because of the energy thing.

Just out of curiosity… Taki’s best friend is a female cat called Princess Cleopatra. You can guess how spoliled she is.
 
 
Well, that was it. I actually wrote a long time ago about a mongrel in a short story, and the dog had more personality than its owner, but as I said it was long ago, and that story was lost one of the times I moved ^^”


All images used in this post are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license and have been obtained from Wikimedia Commons. Attribution: Landseer [link]; Rottweiler – Adult [link]; Rottweiler – Pup [link]; Labrador Retriever – Adult [link]; Labrador Retriever – Pup [link].

Retriever Writing Report and random curiosities

Against hope but following expectations [link] Retriever stayed as title ^^”, just like Beta-san predicted XD Not much of a surprise though, and I don’t dislike the title, so no harm done. In any case Retriever is done *insert cheering* Well, not completely done, still lacking the edition, but the gross of it is finished.

Retriever has a bit of story before becoming a story though. Spain celebrates World Book Day, on April the 23rd (supposedly due to Cervantes and Shakespeare dying on that date in 1616, never mind the different calendars), and on that day there are book sales, which is always appreciated. I was terribly surprised upon finding English-language books on discount and got myself a couple. One of them was Clive Cussler’s Iceberg (which I own up, haven’t finished yet since Retriever ate my life *coughs*). Somehow, eyeing it and searching on the Internet I ended up on the Clive Cussler Collector’s Society’s web page [link] and saw the 2012 Adventure Writers’ Competition [link] that they organize. One thing led to another, Beta-san poked and what the hell, I decided to try just for laughs.

Now, one thing about me: I royally fail at ‘genres’. Be it music (What’s the difference between pop and pop-rock anyway?) or writing (Separate ‘adventure’ from ‘action’, I dare you. And define Indiana Jones.) Anyway, GIYF (Google Is Your Friend) and we found a few tips for writing ‘Adventure’. In the end I got stuck with Retriever, which I am not sure cuts it, but it is done. I think it was fun at some point XD

Gabriel Clark is a retired CIA agent who works as a teacher in Hawaii. He might be my oldest main character since forever (if you don’t count youthful stories featuring vampires I guess XD) and getting a knack on his speech patterns was hard at first. Akira Kellers, the sidekick, however, posed no difficulty; he speaks Geekspeak and I am an expert on that.

Akira and Gabriel meet on a plane bound to Honolulu. Gabriel comes back from a congress and Akira is heading off for vacations when Gabriel’s laptop freaks out. Akira, who lacks the ‘No I won’t fix your computer’ spirit [link], decides to give him a hand with it. Gabriel, thankful, offers to invite the other for a beer, unforeseeing that by doing that he is making Akira a collateral target when an old enemy tries to get revenge on him by spiking their beer pitch with a deadly genetically engineered virus [link]. Gabriel and Akira have six weeks to find a cure, or they are dead meat.

One of the weirdest things that have happened around Retriever was me having to take a plane during the time I was writing. As I was waiting for a transfer, typing away, a guy approached and asked me if I could have a look at his computer, which was not working well. I almost died laughing in the poor guy’s face, but I tried to give him a hand. Unfortunately his battery died by the time I had figured out the problem. Fortunately, he did not try to invite me over for anything in thanks. I don’t think I would have survived that.

During most of summer, I have tried to write 1000 words of Retriever daily. My unrealistic goal was to have it finished before July 27th, which of course did not work, but the most realistic one, August 15th was almost a success, I finished typing on August 16th. I need to admit that the first edit has been hard; I had lots of trouble concentrating on it. In the end when I was editing I just closed Firefox so I avoided all the temptations (read: memebase [link]) and in the end beat procrastination!

Current word count is 67143, which is a wide margin from the 50k which was the competition limit. Speaking of competition, apparently it’s open to the public on FB [link] so you can snoop around starting October. And since we’re on the Facebook topic, Akira has one too, if you want to stalk him [link]

One last note, the song I’ve listened more while working on this has been XJapan’s Jade [link]. No clue why.

P.S.: I shall update the preview with the final version after I have finished looking at Beta-san’s edits ^^