Sorry Honey, I Forgot Our Blogoversary . . .

SO, I figured out that my blog’s anniversary was August 13th . . . and then I worked a 65 hour week and didn’t think about it at all.*

So I’m doing a belated Blogoversary post for myself. That means I will use an inordinate amount of gifs and jibber about nothing for at least a page; you have been warned.

I’ve been blogging for a bit now, but I’ve only been consistent for about a year. In that time, I’ve made some awesome friends, and had a lot of fun getting some words out there. More importantly, I feel like the writing connection with others (and the helpful feedback) has made me a better writer, and made me a more efficient writer.

I answered a lot of the “Why do you blog” questions on this tag from blogger Victoria Grace, so I’ll skip that. Also, you probably have heard more random facts about me than you ever needed! So I’ll skip that too. Instead, I think I’ll write a bit about my past year in blogging, and where I see myself going.

As most of you probably know, I had my debut novel scheduled for August publication.

Unfortunately, it’s already September (yes, I’m screaming), and I have yet to hear back from my publishers on a new, concrete date. They haven’t done something terrible like close down or drop my book, they’ve just pushed everything back in their schedule because: LIFE HAPPENS. No one knows this better than me, but it doesn’t make it easy. In fact, it’s made my last couple months rougher mentally than I would like.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to stay positive and work on the many writing projects (new and old) that I have. I’ve also kept myself reading – because my love of reading is what got me writing, and it’s still my favorite pastime. It’s also good to get other people’s’ words and ideas flowing through your head, just like it’s good to have conversations with various people and not always be stuck in your own brain!

A Few Things I’ve Been Working on Between Last August and Now:

Promoting:

Knight of the Blue Surcoat, my delayed but still debut novel – an Arthurian historical fantasy adventure starring King Arthur’s daughter Melora. More about it here.

Editing:

The Last Coffee Shop (TLCS)- A snarky, post-apocalyptic adventure novel that involves a barista, a bounty hunter, a dancing thief, and a lot of aliens. Read more about it here.

Drafting:

Red as Blood – A genderbent Snow White retelling set in the same “world” as TLCS, just a decade or so later. It involves high fashion, corruption, food service, and quirky, damaged characters. More about that here, and in my current series of Beautiful People posts. September’s entry will be up soon!

Reading:

Scads of research books for a planned Japanese folktale retelling, and a few for an epic fantasy idea that I’ve been tossing around.

ARCS – as many as I can get to, for my day job as a bookseller. Standouts include Vassa in the NightBlood for Blood, and Patchinko.

Most recent reads: Tokyo Ghoul Volume 8 (<3t_t KEN!) and Malice by Keigo Higashino (Japanese mystery).

Learning:

Korean, and lots of other things – to be continued below . . .

Cooking:

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my random kitchen projects. Kimchi-in-everything has been the theme. I’ve progressed to a proper kimchi storage container, so I can make as much kimchi jjigae (김치찌개) as I want!! Other things, such as Korean BBQ, fresh tuna sushi, Thai curries, the usual pies and scones, and many other things happened in my kitchen between work and other work.

Watching:

Obviously, I haven’t had much time to watch anything. However, I did finish the Korean Comedy/Horror/Drama “Let’s Fight, Ghost!” and it was hilarious (and actually a little creepy at times). I also started watching PinocchioCity Hunter, and a big-budget Chinese drama called Ice Fantasy. If you’re interested in hearing more about my tv watching habits, check out this post. AND PEOPLE – if you aren’t watching W: Two Worlds, you should! Not only do we get Lee Jong Suk being a fabulous action hero, it’s a reality-bending drama about being sucked into/out of a manhwa (만화 – Korean comics) and it has a rather Christopher Nolan-esque/postmodern feel about it that is pretty unique.

Oh, and Lee Jong Suk = reasons to watch anything. No, I’m completely unbiased.

ANYHOW.

The last movie I saw was Suicide Squad – and I had very mixed feelings about it. It felt like two different movies competing with each other, and I thought that it would have been better off as a goofy heist-style movie. Everything from the message to the storytelling was muddled (and I seem to be in the 1% who thought the Joker was in there too much – and I’d thought he was the main villain from the trailers . . .). And honestly, the villain (Tia Dalma 2.0, supermodel edition) was completely underwhelming. That being said, the main cast was good and parts of it were very fun/funny – and there were some excellent soundtrack choices.

I’m really looking forward to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemMiss Peregrine’s wasn’t my favorite book – I found it rather boring, and the romance was really the only unnerving thing about it, but the movie looks pretty cool. And of course I’m excited about Fantastic Beasts! It looks like breath of cinematic fresh air.

Listening to:

Other than the usual, I’ve really been liking Korean rockers F.T. Island‘s mixture of pop-punk and excellent vocals/instrumentals. Other notable current favorites include BØRNS (Michigan Native!), For the Foxes, EXO and B.A.P‘s dance-y recent offerings, The Unlikely Candidates, and Icelandic rockers Kaleo.

Also in music, I compiled an ultimate Last Coffee Shop Playlist (around 100 tracks) that gives you a great audio picture of the novel – and it includes a lot of the songs I listened to while writing TLCS as well.

Work:

Err, that. Back in February, I took on a second job at a new craft brewery, in addition to working part-time as a bookstore manager/head book-buyer, writing reviews for a women’s mag, and my own personal writing/reading work . . . so, yes. Anyhow, it’s been fun, but I think the crazy work fest might be over for the year.

Travel:

Besides travelling to Nashville and back in three days, I’ve been to Pensacola (for a day, but well, it was a good day), Gulf Shores, Chicago (4 times!), Traverse City, Harbor Springs, and all that jazz. I manage to clock a lot of road hours for someone who is rarely away from work, 😛

Life:

I GOT A NEPHEW!!! I already had a niece (and she’s one of the most precious, sweet, and mild-mannered little angels ever), but as of the end of June, I have a nephew too. He’s adorable and cuddly, and I got to go see him way too briefly in July.

So you remember I was learning Korean?

Well, last fall, after some serious contemplation/soul-searching/finance-shuffling, etc, I decided I’d be interested in putting some of my savings toward a few more college courses (I have some credits, but that’s all). I’ve always wanted to travel, travel write, and make it to East Asia. Not to mention, my passion for Asian History has had me reading courses worth of books for years. SOooo, I thought, well, a degree in East Asian Studies? Worth it? Maybe a foray into International Relations, or a certificate for teaching ESL? My number one goal has always (and probably will always be) to be a published author, but that travelling/teaching/exploring side is loud too. I want to write, in other places. So this meandering paragraph just means, I’m going back to school, as long as I can afford it . . . At least I’ll have a whole class of people to practice Korean with!!

Related to this – readers might remember how my sister and I had to leave our rental and ended up back with our parents? Well, I’m going to move (at least till December) down to Grand Rapids, and commute to my bookstore job in between. So I can’t see the craziness letting up any time soon, but it will probably be a bit more organized now. *Gulp*

And while I’m on the subject of school, I’m attending a college that really is quite a nontraditional place for an adult student – and it feels like I’m in class with high schoolers – I feel so awkward and out of place. So there’s that. I thought about doing a series about what it feels like to go back to school at 27 (on a small enough campus to where you can feel it). So that might be a thing . . . It’s amazing how isolated you can feel when you’re surrounded by thousands of people. Don’t get me wrong, I love being by myself, but trading in 65hr work weeks for 65hr work-and-school weeks is kind of lonely, you know? But I know that I have you guys to talk to! (And believe me, it’s comforting)

So that’s it – that’s all there is in a nutshell. Happy Belated Blogoversary to me! (Also, happy 추석 to my Korean friends out there!)

(I love Lurch’s dancing because we can all do better – sorry Lurch)

If you blog, when’s your blogoversary? Have you ever thought about going back to school after leaving it? Would you read a series about going back to school as an adult student?

What have you been up to this September? Conversation is delightful ;P

*I didn’t forget my beloved Bigbang’s anniversary though (August 19th). Priorities, priorities . . .

 

Beautiful People Part II (August): Introducing Phaidra Callas-Yu (Red as Blood)

10928109_595959117172101_1450331761_nWhen I saw August’s theme, and Cait’s awesome gifs to go with it, I just knew that I had to drop the Seven Sisters in favor of another extremely important character in Red as Blood: Sull’s stepmother, the formidable model, dancer, and actress “Calla Fay.”

No Snow White retelling would be complete without it’s “evil queen,” and since this BP was all about appearances, it’s too perfect.

But first, a little bio:
Name: Phaidra Yu, nee Callas          Nickname: Calla Fay

Age: 25     Height: 1.82 meters       Weight: Really?

Phaidra Callas burst onto the modelling scene at the young age of fourteen. From the beginning, her startling beauty, poise, and charming sweetness made her a star, and agencies were practically fighting to sign her. Nevertheless, she kept her current manager (her mother) until her mother's tragic passing in a freak accident when Phaidra was sixteen. 
Phaidra disappeared (presumably in mourning) for a month, and then came back as "Calla Fay" the female face of SnøFall - the groundbreaking fashion line by young designer Yu Hayato  (유 하야토). This was the first time she met Yu, and his motherless son, who was the other face of SnøFall. Phaidra's star continued to rise, and she made further news by marrying Yu four years later. The "King and Queen of Galactic Fashion" were unstoppable - or so everyone thought.
  1. Give a brief overview of their looks. (Include a photo if you want!)

I imagine that Phaidra looks quite a bit like this photo of classic actress and beauty, Gene Tierney
I imagine that Phaidra looks quite a bit like this photo of classic actress and beauty, Gene Tierney
Hair: Natural black      Eyes: Lavender-grey
Skin: Flawless ivory

2. Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.

Well – I don’t actually have a snipped that describes Phaidra right now (since I’m playing around with first person), but I will share one of the random snippets I wrote about her as a practice exercise/character development tool. Note that it probably won’t be part of the book and it’s completely unedited, but it gives you a little taste –

The woman was undeniably beautiful, with her doe-eyed expression and milky white limbs curving through the swaths of silver and gold, but it was the child who stole your breath away. It was hard to look at the woman with him there, this creature of nearly indeterminate gender, whose dark eyes held more sorrow than any child’s should. It was then, after looking close, that you might notice the woman again. You might see how her hand rested on the child’s shoulder, a little too heavy for comfort. You might note how her long, silky black hair draped onto the child, mixing with his own locks in a tangle of confusion. Then you would notice how even the extra fabric from her dress somehow shrouded the child, framing his small body and miring his feet in a swamp of exquisite silk. Last of all, you would look back into her eyes, so clear and crystalline that they might have been liquid, and you might feel uncomfortable when you saw how empty they were. And you would turn away, and try to forget their expressions – but you couldn’t get their frozen stares out of your mind. It’s just an ad, you would think to yourself, it doesn’t mean anything.

3. What is the first thing people might notice about them?

Phaidra’s eyes. They are piercing, crystalline lavender grey, with extra long lashes and an extraordinary sparkle to them. Though she has been (quietly) accused of enhancing them, no records exist to prove it.

4. What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)

Phaidra’s only “imperfection” is a tiny, heart-shaped mole under her left eye. Otherwise, her skin seems poreless, and her features are suspiciously symmetrical.

5. How tall are they? What is their build (Ex: stocky, slender, petite, etc.)

Phaidra is around 5 ft, 10 inches tall (just a couple of inches shorter than her husband).

Delicate bone structure, immaculate features, and a perfectly proportioned, long-limbed, graceful body made Phaidra one of the most galactically popular models of all time. She has been voted the “Most Beautiful Woman in the Galaxy” for the past six years.

6. What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?

Phaidra carries herself like royalty. She is the queen of a fashion empire, after all. Her posture is perfect, and she moves with an unhurried grace that has been compared to large, predatory cats.

7. Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?

Minimal makeup and exclusive designer loungewear that cost more than some average citizen’s house. One of the perks of being married to a designer is that Phaidra is never wearing the same thing as anyone else.

8. Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?

Phaidra’s trademark is a pair of silver crown shaped earrings that she never removes. They were rumored to be a gift from her mother, but she has never explained their origin. However, she refuses to take them off, so designers and stylists have had to work around them. Other than these, Phaidra wears whatever accessories are dictated by her current job.

9. Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!

Phaidra’s “perfect” looks have been under scrutiny ever since she debuted at fourteen as the face of a popular perfume. There has been a debate over everything from plastic-surgery to rumors that she was forced into modelling by her mother. However, ultimately it all comes down to how she looks. Despite the criticism and harsh accusations she’s received over the years, Phaidra seems to glow brightest when she’s being attacked, almost as if she welcomes any attention at all . . .

10. Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?

Yes. Phaidra has said that she would rather die than be ugly, and that her looks are really all she has. The only thing she would change is her age – though she’s only twenty-five, she lives in constant terror of her looks fading and wilting with age. There is an entire lab (funded by Phaidra herself) devoted to finding products and routines that will hold back her aging process as long as possible.

So that’s Phaidra, folks. Since this was all about looks, I feel like we only just scraped the darkness and complexity of her character – but that’s just too fitting. Most people (okay, characters in my world) have evaluated/judged Phaidra by looks alone. As you all know, this can lead to misconceptions, misjudgments, and be a terrible mistake.

So what did you think? How important are appearances to your current characters? Red as Blood is the first project of mine to have appearances be pivotal to the plot!

 Did you all do this month’s BP? If so, leave a link so I can check yours out!

 

 

Beautiful People Part I (from July): Meet The General (Red as Blood)

In the monthly Beautiful People (hosted/originated by Cait @ Paper Fury and Skye @ Further Up and Further In, and you can read all about it HERE.), I’ve been exploring the rather large cast of my current WIP, Red as Blood. And though I started to do the July feature back in, well, July, I never finished it – so I’m posting it today. Check back soon for BP Part II, which will feature the August questions and another pivotal character from Red as Blood.

So, if you need a refresher on Red as Blood or some of the major characters, check out these posts, and for more on the Seven Sisters, here’s the link to their general bio.

Next up is the third sister – Ayan Stonefist – more commonly known as “The General.” Here’s a photo and a quick recap of her bio:
A younger but pretty accurate Ayan reference photo
A younger but pretty accurate Ayan reference photo
Don’t be fooled by her small stature - she can, and will, destroy you. The General has one of the best tactical minds of the last century, and it’s a mystery why she’s working at an out-of-the-way food joint. Actually, most everything about her is a mystery, and she’d prefer it stay that way.

Age:  early forties (or so the Sisters guess)

Occupation: Assistant Manager of Henpecked Bar & Grill. But that’s just what it says on paper . . .

Height: 135 cm?    Weight: Unknown    Race: Human?

Weakness: *whispers* Don’t even tell her we asked.

Weapon of Choice: Throwing knives or a good spear

Likes: Order, cleanliness, and quiet. Sharp blades. Maps. Dogs.

Dislikes: Bad manners. Insubordinate people. Disorder. Cats.

Favorite Food: Strawberries (she has a surprising sweet tooth)

Of all of the sisters, Ayan is the most reserved and forbidding. However, she exudes calm and excels at managing diverse and difficult personalities. Sull tries to avoid her as much as possible, yet he admires the way she carries herself – as if she’s twenty feet tall and all corded muscle – anyone in her way will be ten feet under . . .

So, now, let’s attempt to get to know The General a bit better.

  1. Does she  want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?

This isn’t the sort of thing the General thinks about, to be honest. She’s never desired children, and she has zero interest in any sort of life partner or romance. Still, she isn’t opposed to mentoring a young person, and she did very well as the leader of armies. As a general rule, Ayan feels that children are a nuisance, and that they are a danger to everyone if their parents didn’t really want them. Sull basically affirms everything that Ayan believed about kids. 😛

2. What is their weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.)

I answered this in her profile (throwing knives or a spear), but the General is one of those people who can use anything for an effective weapon. Her brain is her other favorite weapon though 😛

3. What’s the nicest thing they’ve done for someone else, and why did they do it?

When Ayan had command of a particularly large group of young men (soldiers), she caught one of them stealing food from the stores. Normally, that sort of thing was punishable by discharge and the removal of a hand, and the General had not hesitated to carry out the sentence before. However, after investigating the situation, she discovered that the soldier had taken the food for a group of orphans that had lost their parents in the current battles. Ayan looked into this and allowed the soldier to go with only extended latrine duty. She then set up a fund for the children, and personally found them all homes, despite her general dislike of children. When asked why she did it, all the General would say is that war “wasn’t right, and that no one but the instigators should suffer the consequences.”

4. Have they ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it?

She is the General – so 99% of her existence has been in the more violent spheres of life – but she isn’t violent without cause or reason. Rather, she only uses physical violence as a last resort.

5. Are they a rule-follower or a rebel?

While Ayan is usually a rule-follower (she believes that rules exist for a reason), she isn’t afraid to color outside the lines, so to speak. If she truly believes an action is right or wrong, she won’t hesitate to act accordingly.

6. Are they organized or messy?

Highly organized. The General despises anything remotely disordered or messy.

7. What makes them feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?

The General believes that love is like down comforters or a good mattress: comfortable and a life enhancement, but not necessary for a fulfilling existence. Her soldiers usually loved her, but she discouraged it, as she thought it encouraged an unnatural level of risk-taking and devotion (when she was in a dangerous situation).

8. What do they eat for breakfast?

The General strives for balance in every area of life, so she makes sure that her breakfast is nutritious and balanced, with just the right amount of calories to keep her going until the next meal. That being said, she’s partial to strawberry pancakes.

9. Have they ever lost someone close to them? What happened?

While Ayan tries to maintain a professional distance between herself and those around her, she has witnessed the deaths of many young soldiers. The General feels personally connected to every soldier under her command, and every loss or death has made her strive to be a better commander.

10. What’s their treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do they reward themselves?)

The General has a sweet tooth, so she will occasionally indulge in one of Dumpling‘s famous strawberry shortcakes. But only if she has had an extremely stressful day, or she feels quite satisfied with herself.

So that’s all for today- do you feel like you know the General a little bit better? (She’s rather enigmatic). Did you do July’s BP? How is your August going, and what are you writing/reading?

Beautiful People June: Meet “The Doctor”

IT’S BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE TIME! (No, you don’t have to be as excited as I am)

If you’re scratching your head in confusion – BP is a monthly writing meme run by Cait @ Paper Fury and Skye @ Further Up and Further In, and you can read all about it HERE.

Last month, I featured Mollie, one of the Seven Sisters of Henpecked Bar and Grill (Red as Blood) and I decided to continue that theme this month as well. This time around, I’m featuring Doctor Marjorie Pierce, the owner and manager of Henpecked, and the oldest Sister. Just for a recap, here’s her bio and reference pic again:

NICKNAME: THE DOCTOR.

Yes, otherwise known as Doc, or just Boss. While she isn’t a Timelord, Doc is a medical practitioner. Despite her healing tendencies, she’s a vicious warrior in her own right. And you’d have to be a strong personality to have all of the Sisters submit to your rule (a loving dictatorship). She’s a motherly figure, though she never had any children of her own (though there are rumors of a scandalous, tragic love affair in her youth . . .)

Age: A lady never tells – but she’s north of 40 and south of 60

Height: 127 cm  Species: Human

Weakness: Orphans of any species

Weapon of Choice: Bola

Likes: Feeding People, Sharpening weapons. Being Needed.

Dislikes: Whining and Complaining. Inefficiency.

Favorite Food: Fried Chicken and Biscuits with Gravy and Strong, Black Coffee – and Chocolate Cake. She’s not a health nut . . .

Marjorie is the first person to meet Sull in the narrative, and she (presumably) takes a shine to the battered, skinny boy with haunted eyes and too pretty of a face. He needs food.

As Marjorie is the oldest major character, I thought it would be interesting (and helpful) to explore her childhood a bit, since it’s something she never talks about to the other sisters, though it obviously shaped her life.

 

  1. What is her first childhood memory?

Marjorie’s parents were tenant farmers, and her mother was the farmer’s midwife. They all lived with Marjorie’s two younger sisters and grandmother in a longhouse with the other tenant farmers, so Marjorie’s first memories are of lots of noise and people. It was like having a very, very, large family.

2. What were their best and worst childhood experiences

Best: When Marjorie turned twelve, she had her official Welcoming Day. It signified that she was an adult, and fully capable of taking on an occupation like the other tenant farmers. However, what Marjorie liked about it was how she was finally the center of attention, and how her parents managed to make her a real fruit pie, and an almost-new dress that made her really feel like an adult. She felt loved, appreciated, and happy, and she often wishes she could go back to that moment.

Worst: A rival warlord took over the plantation where Marjorie and her family lived. In the chaos, her entire family was killed. Coming back and finding everyone dead or gone was the worst moment of her life.

3. What was their childhood home like?

The tenant farmers lived in a series of longhouses – which are exactly what they sound like – long buildings with almost zero privacy. Families would put up rough curtains between sections, and sleep in a small space on shared pallets. The average number of occupants in each house was around 20, with families that often included grandparents or great-grandparents. The farmers worked long hours, with plantation duties in addition to their other jobs (such as mechanics, android supervisors, medics, etc.) Though many of the farm chores were done by mechanicals and robots, human workers were needed to run things.

4. What’s something that scared them as child?

As a child, Marjorie was frightened of the alien warlord who (basically) owned her parent’s as indentured servants. Though she never really saw the warlord, or his wife (who actually supervised and ran the entire estate), Marjorie heard too many stories about what happened to tenants who broke the rules.

5. Who did they look up to most?

Marjorie had a good relationship with both of her parents and her grandmother, but she looked up to her mother most. Marjorie remembers her mother as a loving, giving, and genteel but capable woman, who never raised her voice above a yell, but was (almost) always obeyed.

6. Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?

Favorite: Other than fried chicken and chocolate cake, Marjorie always loved anything with fresh fruit. Fresh fruit that wasn’t synthetic was a rare luxury that her hardworking parents could hardly afford.

Least Favorite: Slurry. Slurry was the all-purpose name given to the “leftover soup” fed to the tenant farmers twice each day. Morning’s offerings were usually grainy and bland, while evening slurry often had strange, unidentifiable chunks in it. It was so bad that Marjorie never speaks about it, to anyone.

7. If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?

Marjorie would change a lot of things. She’d help her parents more, and daydream less. She would pay more attention, and she would have found a way to get her parents out. That’s what she tells herself, anyway.

8. What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?

Marjorie was distracted and flighty. She was curious about the world around her, and frequently disrespectful of her elders. Despite this, she was very caring, and she was devoted to her younger sisters.

9. What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?

Marjorie loved her whole family, but she felt like they were always disapproving of her, and that she couldn’t be as good as them. Her father was very quiet and stern, and they rarely had conversations, but he silently gave up everything to make his family’s lot a little better. Marjorie’s grandmother and mother were two in a long line of midwife/healers, and they imparted a great reverence for life to Marjorie. They taught her everything they knew, and encouraged her apprenticeships with the other longhouses’ healers. Marjorie’s little sisters were twins, and four years younger, so Marjorie frequently had the care of them. Since their parents were normally working, it was up to Marjorie to feed, bathe, and watch over her sisters on a daily basis. Marjorie resented it at times, but it also made her incredibly close to them.

10. What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?

Marjorie wanted to study medicine off-planet, though she knew her parents could never afford such a thing. She always dreamed of running away, becoming a famous doctor, and coming back with lots of money to redeem her indentured family.

Due to the traumatic events in #2, Marjorie’s interests turned from healing to revenge. She was thirteen when the rival warlord wiped out the plantation, and she fled for the neighboring plantation. There, she convinced the tenant farmers to take her in as one of theirs, and she enrolled in the warlord’s guard. Through cunning, knowledge of anatomy and herbals, and determination (and aided by her small stature), Marjorie developed a reputation as a capable assassin. She finally caught the attention of the Matron (formal title of the warlord’s wife), and after many successful missions, her indentured servitude was lifted, and she was formally employed. Having achieved this goal, Marjorie set to undermining and destroying the warlord who had wiped out her family. She did eventually receive her medical training, and become a renowned doctor, but the planet she left behind never knew her as anything resembling a healer.

Well – that was darker than anticipated. That’s what I get for writing a book about a bunch of assassins-turned-restaurateurs taking in a troubled runaway . . .

Did you do BP this month (or do you plan to?) – if so, leave your link in the comments so I can go read it 🙂

What do you think about Doctor Pierce? Does she sound like an interesting character to you? Anything else you’d like to know about her/like clarified?

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

Beautiful People: May Edition – “Meet” Mollie (Red as Blood)

So I’m back from BEA ’16 and Chicago (*sniffles* Chicago . . .*), with loads of books and not nearly enough pictures.

*(I never want to leave, but I always do, just like the hero at the end of a western . . .) Err, or rather, like someone who has to go to work on Monday . . .

I fully intend to finish my lowdown on BEA, just not right now. Right now, I’ve been working through my character profiles for Red as Blood, and it’s time to further my character development with this month’s Beautiful People.

10928109_595959117172101_1450331761_n

If you don’t know – BP is a monthly writing meme hosted by Sky at Further Up and Further In and Cait @ Paper Fury. Click the links for their fabulous blogs and info on how to join!

Just like Sherlock needs a Watson to humanize him, and the Doctor needs a Companion for almost the same reason, a larger-than-life main character needs someone more relatable and “average” to ground them. Sull, the protagonist of my WIP, Red as Blood, might be a conflicted, angsty teen, but I know that I gave him a rather outrageous story (read more about it here) that few people can (hopefully) relate to in the details.

Enter Mollie. 

If you read my intro to the Seven Sisters of Henpecked Bar and Grill, you know that Mollie is the youngest (and tallest) “sister,” and that she’s not really content with where she is in life. Just in case you didn’t read her bio, here it is again:

Mollie was raised by warrior priests, and fell in with the seven sisters after events that she doesn't like to talk about. However, she is artistic and dreams of opening a shop or gallery in a big, fashionable city. Though she is a passable fighter, her heart isn’t in it, and she ran away from her army-school-temple as a teenager. Mollie’s real name- Machlah – was hard for her superiors to pronounce. Mollie stuck, but she’s sore about it (why doesn’t she get a fun nickname?)

As the youngest, the tallest, and a half-blooded outcast, Mollie immediately sympathizes with Sull. However, he isn’t looking for an annoying surrogate older sister. Still, she’s enamored with the life he left, or what little hints he drops, and she is determined to be his friend. And what Mollie wants, Mollie usually gets.

Age:  23                      Race: Half human/half alien

In my mind, Mollie looks a lot like a younger version of Morena Baccarin in The Red Tent:

  1. How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?

Mollie smiles quite a bit. She’s naturally easygoing, and a daydreamer, so she’s usually smiling at a thought she had.

She would always smile at a stranger – even if she didn’t work at a restaurant. To Mollie, strangers represent different and exciting, so she’s happy to see them and hear about their adventures.

2. What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

Mollie is used to being the target of bigoted jokes about her mixed alien and human heritage. Though she looks human enough (her eyes are red-gold and she has triangular pupils, and her skin has a gold flush to it, along with scale patches), everyone (where she came from) knew her story and how her parent’s left her with monks rather than raise her and bear the shame. So the cruellest things she’s been told are probably not worth repeating, but they almost always are directed at her heritage.

3. What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

When Doctor Pierce (her mentor and employer) told Mollie that she (Mollie) wasn’t defined by her success or failure, and that her art was valid even if only she (Mollie) believed in it, this was something Mollie had never heard. Doctor Pierce is not lavish with praise or unnecessary words, but her encouragement gave Mollie courage to continue pursuing art in the most unlikeliest places.

4. What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

Mollie was raised by warrior monks. They were strict, ascetic, and firm but well-meaning with their wards. Mollie will never forget when trying to brighten up the drab brown robes with some colored fabric scraps that she sewed on to make flowers. The monks called her to the front of morning meeting and gave her a lecture on vanity in front of everyone. Next, they tore off the flowers and cut her long hair (another sign of her vanity), and she was relegated to latrine duty for a month. They weren’t trying to be cruel (she understands this now), but at the time she was just crushed.

In a way, this almost made things worse – Mollie kept her artistic tendencies secret, and she refuses to cut her hair for any reason.

5. What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

Probably something practical, like 48 Days to the Work You Love. But I think Mollie would get a kick out of (and be encouraged by) Little Women.

6.Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?

Not really. The worst injuries Mollie has ever sustained were minor fractures and sprains from combat training with the monks and their wards. She’s stubborn and has a high level of pain tolerance, so she rarely shows a reaction – especially if people are watching her.

7. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?

Mollie is generally pretty agreeable. However, if she doesn’t like you, she really doesn’t like you. That being said, she gets along well with most everyone she knows.

8. On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?

2 – see above.

9. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?

She wants to go to Ithir (also known as Earth-that-Was), the homeworld of the original humans. She also wants to go to New Milan – which is the fashion epicenter of the galaxy. (And where Sull spent a lot of time)

10. Who was the last person they held hands with?

Despite their asceticism, the monks actually encouraged familial bonding between their wards, as well as kind touches and comforting gestures. Mollie held her fellow wards’ hands all the time, but she grew hesitant to touch others after she left. Being a huggy person herself, she doesn’t understand the premium some people put on personal space. The last person Mollie “held hands” with was probably her mother figure-Doctor Pierce-when the latter rescued her from an ignominious fate and told her to run.

So there you go 🙂

I hope you enjoyed reading more about Mollie and Red as Blood. Thanks for reading! (And if you participated in BP, please leave a link so I can check it out)

Monthly Rewind: April-pocalypse

And here I was, thinking April wouldn’t be crazy . . .

Nice to know I can still be naive, I guess?

April made my crazy March look -well- calm.

Have some more 10

So now it’s May, much too soon, and high time for the month in review link-up hosted by Nicole over at Feed Your Fiction Addiction. Click the links to look at what participants have been up to, and/or to join up.

On the Blog:

While I was hardly online in April, I did get a few things up, in spite of myself.

  1. I posted what happened in March – including a (slightly horrifying) pile of imported cds and dvds that . . . err, grew even larger in April. And everyone laughed at a rude waiter with me. That was fun.
  2. I continued working on Red as Blood, and posted a rather long introductory piece about The Seven Sisters of Henpecked Bar and Grill
  3. I made a really exciting announcement about my debut novel, Knight of the Blue Surcoat.
  4. I counted down (just) 10 of the books that make me laugh to the point of tears for Top Ten Tuesday. It was basically just an excuse for me to use silly gifs.
  5. And just when we thought (*I thought) that I’d disappeared from the internet and you would never read anything writerly from me, I decided to post a thoroughly involved post/essay/article on the differences between Villains, Antagonists, and Antiheroes.
  6. Bonus* There was no Beautiful People for April, so I snatched an old one and featured Sull, the protagonist from Red as Blood. (I actually posted this in May, but I typed it up in April, so don’t tell anyone).

Off the Blog:

This is where things got busy . . .

I have been working away at my two jobs, which is a bit like juggling, but with all of yourself. I have been on bartending training shifts, which aren’t hard (since I have the experience), but they do involve longer hours. On the upside, I’m just living the life of my characters in Red as Blood (albeit with less space, and sadly, no aliens. Yet.)

I helped host a bridal shower for one of my best friends (cheers!), which made the imminent wedding seem, well, imminent . . . And my sister and I made many fruitless searches for bridesmaids’ dresses, as we’re both in the wedding.

My sister (the oft-mentioned Grace) made Hotteok (호떡) – or Korean sweet dessert pancakes/street food – which were amazing, but we ended up using them to make egg sandwiches because of the end of this video (if you don’t click through, it’s an interview with Bigbang, with a “cooking competition” at the end.) They aren’t exactly the same thing, but, whatever.

2016-04-30 14.18.37 2016-04-30 14.25.22

They were really good- by the way.

And while we’re on the subject of reality tv (sort-of), there is this new Korean show called “Fantastic Duos” and the concept is really fun (we should adopt it over here). A recognized artist records their part of a song, and then invites anyone and everyone to participate by recording the other part(s) as a duet on their smartphone. Some of the participants are chosen to perform later on the live show (with the artist looking on), and then one is selected to actually perform a live duet with the aforementioned artist. It’s a ton of fun to watch, and they’ve already gotten an incredible performance like this out of it:

I already knew Taeyang (from Bigbang) was a great vocalist, but this girl is crazy good, and it will be a surprise if she doesn’t land herself a record deal. Anyhow, you should watch this, as it’s beautiful. 😛

But I digress – when we weren’t cooking (how we spend the majority of our “free time”, for whatever reason) or watching snippets of reality shows,  I was cram-reading to get ready for book club in May, and a local tv appearance (more on that some other time), and getting ready for Book Expo in May.

To be honest – most of April is a blur – but I actually remember the end of it, because that’s when my sisters and I went to Chicago for the weekend. We actually helped at my friend’s bridal shower, and then got in the car and drove straight to Naperville to check into our hotel. This went faster than expected, giving us plenty of time to stop at the H Mart that was (almost) next door. I mainly just ended up buying vegetables (because that’s what I usually end up buying, regardless). The most exciting one was a radish that was larger than the upper part of my arm . . . Naturally, we stowed the vegetables and things at the hotel before we went over to the Rosemont Theatre for our BAP CONCERT!!!

(for a few pics, you can look at my Instagram feed)

At the Rosemont, we somehow ended up with pretty good seats. We were in the top section (there’s only a balcony and a floor section – it’s pretty small – about 5K seats), and we were in the direct center, so we could see really well (even without the screens). The crowd was far more diverse (especially in age) than any other concert I’ve been to – ranging from little kids to couples my grandparents’ age. And it was a great crowd – minus the extremely annoying and immature girls behind us. They screamed for the point of screaming (and so loudly/high-pitched that they could have broken glass), and talked about the band members like they weren’t even human. I’m an old-fashioned grouch though – I go to concerts because I love the music and want to see the performers live – so I might have overreacted, but still . . .

Other than those girls – everything was awesome. B.A.P are energetic, incredible performers, from their dancing to their impressive vocal talent. Despite the (moderate) language barrier, all of the guys have great stage presence and senses of humor, and they were so much fun to listen to/watch.

To give you an idea, here’s a video from one of the girls in the front row (from Youtube.com)

This is one of B.A.P’s older songs (1004 Angel – released 2014), so most of the crowd knew the (mostly Korean) lyrics, and sang along. When you have thousands of people who don’t all speak a language singing along anyway, that’s pretty cool. Naturally, if you were there you could actually hear B.A.P a lot better, but off a cell-phone camera, not so much!

At any rate, we got back WAY too late at night, but managed to beat the traffic :). The next morning, we found the closest PCA church (which turned out to be a church plant – Restoration Community Church), and they were so welcoming and friendly. After church, we decided to go to Chinatown instead of driving straight home (because I’ve actually never been there . . .). We mainly walked around, as the weather was glorious. We did stop at the Kpop store there, to buy something for my sister Lydia (who had been bummed that she couldn’t go). A cute snapback with the logo of one of her favorite bands did the trick ;P

After that, we continued wandering around and people watching (there were a ton of families out in their Sunday clothes – so so many cute babies). I thought about going to the Disney store (one of my other favorite things), but then I decided it was too hard, and we made the trek back to my car. Walking all afternoon is a little fatiguing after going to bed in the wee hours of the morning.

We finally headed back to Michigan, tired but still amped up (partially thanks to my too-loud music and the nice weather). And then it was back to work as usual!

And now, as it’s May 9th, I’m sitting in a beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and finally having time to write an update. Why Alabama? I flew down for Mother’s Day weekend (as the rest of my family was down here vacationing). And then – most of my siblings got sick, and my phone crashed so bad that it might never be fixed – so I borrowed my brother’s laptop, and here we are. I had all kinds of pictures for this post, but they are on my phone – which is too bad!

On the upside – I am stranded at the beach – so I really can’t complain. Also, I have an eARC of Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani (sequel to Sunbolt).

I have to be in Chicago (again) for Book Expo on Wednesday, so we’ll see how things go. In the meantime, I might head back out to the water. The weather in Alabama is lovely, warm and breezy, and the swimming has been even better (though I did spot two stingrays while I was in the water). Or I’ll pull out The Last Coffee Shop and continue my read through. But here’s to hoping that everyone feels better soon, that I don’t end up with the virus, and I make it to Book Expo in one piece!!

Happy May! If you’re a Mom, belated Happy Mother’s Day!

How was your April? Do you have any big plans for May? What was the last concert you went to?

 

Beautiful People: More About Sull (Forgot to post in April)

There was no Beautiful People for April, so I borrowed one of the earlier ones . . . and promptly forgot to post it. So we’ll just pretend it’s still April. Humor me.

Beautiful People is a monthly writing meme hosted and originated by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In

Since I haven’t seen an official BP this month, I decided to nab one of the older ones that ran before I even participated. (Sara Letourneau did this first, and I happily borrowed her idea ;P).

Anyhow, I’m continuing my current trend and featuring my WIP, Red as Blood. I introduced the MC, Sull, in this post, and some of his “supporting cast” hereRed as Blood is a genderbent Snow White story inspired by vintage scifi, Greek Mythology, the high fashion scene, the food service industry, and my love of Korean and Japanese pop culture. *Yes – you read that right – and no, I’m not completely mad, just a little bit strange*

“What do you mean you’re not mad?”

Again, make sure to look back at the previous BP if you want to know more about Sull before we start.

Beautiful People April Freebie: Meet Sull, Part II

1) What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it?

His *actual* name is Yu Baek Seol (유 백설 – with his surname listed first)

Baek Seol is *basically* the Korean equivalent of Snow White the fairy tale character/heroine of that story. It’s how you see it written out in Korean retellings of Snow White. “Sull” is how that last part is heard by The Sisters.

Story behind the name – Basically, Sull’s mother was obsessed with the story of Snow White, and she wanted a beautiful daughter who was “red as blood, black as ebony, and white as snow.” Sull is all of those things – but he’s a boy. His mother died soon after birthing him, and it never occurred to anyone to give him a different name. So there you go.

2) How old are they, and when were they born?

When the story begins, it’s just after Sull’s sixteenth birthday. Some of the story takes place in flashbacks of the previous year. As for when he was born, I don’t have a timeline figured out (exactly) for the world of Red as Blood, but it’s set centuries after an apocalyptic event took out (most) life on earth (for more on this, see The Last Coffee Shop). But I do know that he was born about 7 years after the TLCS ends.

3) Describe their physical appearance. (Bonus questions: 1. What is their race/nationality/ethnicity? 2. Do you have a picture of them? If so, include it!)

Since Red as Blood is set centuries after an apocalyptic event, all human survivors have dispersed through the galaxy, and become more or less one race/people, especially as defined by the aliens who far outnumber them. So I use “Earth terms” loosely here 😛

That being said, I had a very clear picture of Sull in my head all along (and his parents). His father is of Japanese, Korean, and European descent, and his mother is of Korean and European descent.

As for his appearance, he’s very slight, but with extremely pretty (read: girlish) features – long lashes, silky hair, perfect skin, full lips, etc.

From the beginning, Sull has always looked like a younger combination of Luhan (Chinese singer) and G-Dragon (Korean rapper/singer/songwriter Kwon Ji-yong) to me. So . . . in other words, Sull also resembles L from Death Note. Confused? Well, you know I have pictures (especially if you follow me on Pinterest) – here are three representative ones.

This picture is very Sull to me, lol

+

This is the best genderbent Snow White photo EVER (oh wait, no, that’s just Luhan . . .)

=

No idea who the artist is, but “L” belongs to Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.

4) Describe your character’s personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences.

 Lost 
1. unable to find one’s way; not knowing one’s whereabouts.
synonyms: off course, off track, disoriented, having lost one’s bearings, going around in circles, adrift, at sea, astray

2. denoting something that has been taken away or cannot be recovered.
synonyms: bygone, past, former, one-time, previous, old, olden, departed, vanished, forgotten, consigned to oblivion, extinct, dead, gone

“Lost” might be an obvious choice. Sull isn’t physically lost at the start of the novel, though he is definitely trying to lose himself. Both definitions above are perfect.

5) What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc?

Sull actually has quite a playlist going. But 삐딱하게(CROOKED) by G-Dragon (again) is Sull’s theme song (and one of the major inspirations for his character as we first encounter him). The sound and feel of the song, the lyrics, and to be honest, the video (link below), all screamed Sull at me. It actually took me awhile to get around to watching the video, and it just solidified what I already suspected – this song is the perfect one song summary, so at least read the lyrics 🙂

(*disclaimer* None of these images, lyrics, etc, belong to me. They are being used as emphasis only, and I am making zero money from this post)

G-Dragon – 삐딱하게(CROOKED) w/English Subs
Lyrics and translation here (popgasa.com)
(Chorus/Refrain)
Nothing ever lasts forever
In the end, you changed
There is no reason, no sincerity
Take away such a thing as love
Tonight, I’ll be crooked
Leave me alone
I was alone anyway
I have no one, everything is meaningless
Take away the sugar-coated comfort
Tonight, I’ll be crooked

I scream and get dizzy
 I vent out of boredom to other couples
 I start fights for no reason like a town gangster
 Sometimes, I purposely shake my leg, crookedly
 The main characters of the movie called this world is you and me
 A lonely island, lost and wandering
 The empty streets are filled with those who are alone
 Unlike my heart, the weather is so damn nice

I used to believe in you alone and I was happy
 But like a joke, I am left alone
 You used to promise me with your pinky finger
 But in the end

(Chorus)

(Bridge)
I’ll put on thick eyeliner, use a whole can of hairspray
 Leather pants, leather jacket with a frown
 I want to hide my pain and become even more crooked
 So you can feel sorry, I’ll spit toward the sky
 You’re scared of my crude words and my rough eyes
 But actually, I’m afraid, I want to go back but I have nowhere to go
 I want to love but no one to love, what am I supposed to do?
 I can’t turn it back

I used to believe in you alone and I was happy
 But like a joke, I am left alone
 You used to promise me with your pinky finger
 But in the end

(Chorus)

Will you not say anything for me tonight?
 I didn’t know being alone would be this hard (I miss you)
 Will you be my friend tonight?
 On this good day, this beautiful day, this day where I miss you
 Tonight, I’ll be crooked

That last bit is pretty darn heartbreaking.

Sull is so full of pent-up anger, but inside, he’s extremely lonely and confused. I’m walking a fine line between a frustrating/annoying character and a really sad one here, and I think that “Crooked” sums him up so well.

As for Sull’s arc, I’ll throw in a few more pivotal songs with lyric snippets to give you the idea (and more links, if you dare . . .):
Red – So Far Away
Lyrics found here: metrolyrics.com
I am right here with you
I couldn't more close
Pretending that I'm in this moment
When I'm only a ghost

I listen to the words you're saying
Words I'm fighting to believe
It's like I'm living from a distance
When you're out of reach



Read more: Red - So Far Away Lyrics | MetroLyrics

If you listen to the song, listen closely to the cry in singer Michael Barnes’ voice. That’s Sull – right there.

MINO – 겁 (Fear) Feat. Taeyang

Translation and Full Lyrics found here: colorcodedlyrics.com

 -- When I didn’t wanna see anything
The reason I forced my eyes to open wide
Is because I was just scared
It’s because I was suddenly scared
When I didn’t wanna say anything
The reason I raised my voice
There is no other reason
It’s because I’m afraid, I’m afraid --

It’s worth clicking through and reading all the lyrics to this song, because it was the other closest contender for the ultimate Sull song.

The Click Five – Don’t Let Me Go

Full lyrics found here: metrolyrics.com

. . . You try so hard to hide your scars
 Always on your guard

Chorus
 Don't, don't let me go
 Don't make me hold on when you're not
 Don't, don't turn away
 What can I say so you won't
 No don't, don't let me go...

This is one that you should definitely listen to for the idea. Again, it’s the way Kyle sings it that is the clincher. It’s such a soft, sad, yet convicted sounding melody, you know?

Linkin Park – Leave Out All the Rest

Full lyrics found here: metrolyrics.com

. . .Don't be afraid
 I've taken my beating
 I've shared what I made

I'm strong on the surface
 Not all the way through
 I've never been perfect
 But neither have you

So if you're asking me
 I want you to know

When my time comes
 Forget the wrong that I've done
 Help me leave behind some
 Reasons to be missed

Don't resent me
 And when you're feeling empty
 Keep me in your memory
 Leave out all the rest, leave out all the rest

If you were listening to the radio seven years ago, there’s a good chance you heard this plaintive yet powerful song. Actually, if you were listening to the radio seven years ago, and had more rock leanings, you might have heard half the songs on this playlist . . .

6) Which one of the seven deadly sins describes your character?

Wrath. Despite his calm, sullen, don’t-talk-to-me demeanor, Sull is filled with rage and hatred against the people and things that happened to him.

7) If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air), which one would they be?

Air. Changeable, unable to be chased or pinned down, unreliable, shapeless and formless yet taking up space. Getting the picture?

8) What is their favourite word?

Err, Free food? Sull doesn’t like many things, but he does like food. And yeah, I know that’s two words^^

9) Who’s one person they really miss? (It could be someone who’s passed away, or someone they’re not close to anymore, or someone who’s moved away.)

Sull’s father. Despite the fact that he also despises the man, he misses the relationship they never had, and what might have been. Also, despite what Sull has been through, he loves his father very, very deep down.

10) What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person?

Sights: Clothes, fabrics, rich colors

Sounds: Cameras, shouts, loud music

Smells: Perfumes, essences, and rich, spicy smells.

 

Meet The Seven Sisters of Henpecked Bar & Grill (Character Profiles from my WIP)

You may (or may not?) have noticed that I have been rather absent. The end of March and April (so far) have had me running around like a headless chicken.

Both jobs are getting busier as we careen toward summer traffic, and it leaves little time for blogging, much less thinking. Still, I’ve been plugging away at a read-through/preliminary edit of The Last Coffee Shop, and I still love it, so that’s good. Also, I’ve been getting some more words down and groundwork for my current WIP, Red as Blood.

Red as Blood was also the book I used for the March Beautiful People link-up. In that post (read it here), I introduced the main character and narrator of the story, Sull. He’s a runaway teenage (former)model who ends up in the alley behind the only place to get real fried chicken in the galaxy: The Henpecked Bar & Grill. The Henpecked is run by seven (former) warrior women who decide to give Sull a job in the kitchens, and the rest is, well, the story of Red as Blood. It’s comic space opera meets slice of life diner story meets my generally ridiculous fairy tale retellings saga.

Anyhow, seven important supporting characters = a lot to juggle, so I thought some character profiles could help me hammer out more of their seven distinct personalities. I won’t bore you with lots of facts, but I will give you some basic bits on each “sister” and a picture that suggests what they might look like.

Introducing: The Seven Sisters of Henpecked Bar & Grill

Sister #1: Marjorie Pierce (Doctor Pierce)

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Dame Judi Dench – a major Doc inspiration – taken from this article

Nickname: The Doctor.

Yes, otherwise known as Doc, or just Boss. While she isn’t a Timelord (sadly, a trademark), Doc is indeed, a medical practitioner. Despite her healing tendencies, she’s a vicious warrior in her own right. And you’d have to be a strong personality to have all of the following women submit to your rule (a loving dictatorship). She’s a motherly figure, though she never had any children of her own (though there are rumors of a scandalous, tragic love affair in her youth . . .)

Age: A lady never tells – but she’s north of 40 and south of 60

Occupation: Manager/Owner of Henpecked Bar & Grill

Birthplace: She never talks about it

Height: 127 cm            Weight: You’re joking, right?     Race: Human

Weakness: Orphans of any species

Weapon of Choice: Bola

Likes: Feeding People, Sharpening weapons. Being Needed.

Dislikes: Whining and Complaining. Inefficiency.

Favorite Food: Fried Chicken and Biscuits with Gravy and Strong, Black Coffee – and Chocolate Cake. She’s not a health nut . . .

Marjorie is the first person to meet Sull in the narrative, and she (presumably) takes a shine to the battered, skinny boy with haunted eyes and too pretty of a face. He needs food.

Sister #2: Jian (she has no family name that she speaks of)

This beautiful Yi woman is a lot like what I picture.

Nickname: Dumpling

Jian’s people were shunned and persecuted for hundreds of years after they left their home planet and countries. Most of them barely scraped out livings as cooks and servants for richer survivors. They were known as “dumplings,” a derogatory term that is frowned upon in modern galactic society. Nevertheless, Jian’s wicked sense of humor, beauty, skill with numerous weapons, and excellent cooking skills found her a place as a highly sought after assassin. Of course, that was in her younger days. Now she rules the kitchens of Henpecked, and in a nod to all of the fools people who underestimated her and her people, she calls herself Dumpling.

Age:  46

Occupation: Head Chef, Prime Cook at Henpecked Bar and Grill

Birthplace: The mining colonies of Lai’ren

Height: 140 cm               Weight: 53 kg (ish)                   Race: Human

Weakness: Shiny pots and cooking utensils. Cooking stores.

Weapon of Choice: Her fists for contact. Poison otherwise.

Likes: Cooking. Polishing Silver. Fishing. Filleting . . . things

Dislikes: Sloppy housekeeping. Bullies.

Favorite Food: Spicy Hot Pot. Cinnamon rolls (hers are divine)

Dumpling is the kindest to Sull when they take him in. After all, he needs food, and her cooking is addictive. And while she runs a tight ship of a kitchen, she doesn’t mind helping hands. She’s also the most open of the sisters, easily sharing her skills with a scrappy boy.

Sister #3: General Ayan Stonefist (a last name given to her-not her actual surname)

Afambo afar girl Ethiopia

Photo Credit: Eric Lafforgue

(The General looks a lot like the girl above, just older, and she refuses to wear bright colors)

Nickname: The General.

Don’t be fooled by her small stature. If you refer to her by her real name, she will take you to the alley for your cheekiness. You’ll be lucky if you can walk out again. Due to her past, she never actually introduces herself by her name anyhow, but it’s a fair warning! Other than that she has one of the best tactical minds of the last century, and it’s a mystery why she’s working at an out-of-the-way food joint. Actually, most everything about her is a mystery, and she’d prefer it stay that way.

Age:  early forties (or so the Sisters guess)

Occupation: Assistant Manager of Henpecked Bar & Grill. But that’s just what it says on paper.

Height: 135 cm                  Weight: Unknown                        Race: Human

Weakness: *whispers* Don’t even tell her we asked.

Weapon of Choice: Throwing knives or a good spear

Likes: Order, cleanliness, and quiet. Sharp blades. Maps. Dogs.

Dislikes: Bad manners. Insubordinate people. Disorder. Cats.

Favorite Food: Strawberries (she has a surprising sweet tooth)

Of all of the sisters, Ayan is the most reserved and forbidding. However, she exudes calm and excels at managing diverse and difficult personalities. Sull tries to avoid her as much as possible, yet he admires the way she carries herself – as if she’s twenty feet tall and all corded muscle – anyone in her way will be ten feet under . . .

SISTER #4:Leila-May

I pictured mid-thirties Olivia Newton John from the start. Just look at that charming, innocent (?) grin

Nickname: Shortcake

Leila-May has a sunny personality to go with her bouncy golden curls and big blue eyes. But she seldom talks about her past, and no one ever remembers what happened to her last boyfriend(s) or pets. Despite her talkative, vivacious nature, she’s hard to get to know and she can get away without telling you anything about herself. Still, you can’t help being charmed by her good looks and great smile. Whether this is a good thing or not . . . that’s a chance you’ll have to take.

Age: 38, but she looks around 10 years younger

Occupation: Head Waitress and Hostess

Height: 144.7 cm       Weight: 40.83 kg          Race: Human

Weakness: Good looks, in general. Anything cute.

Weapon of Choice: Charm – and failing that, a garrote vil

Likes: Anything cute, pretty, or attractive. Romantic vacations.

Dislikes: Complainers, demanding people, boring days. 

Favorite Food: If it’s tiny and artfully prepared, she’ll eat anything. She’s particularly partial to gizzards, which surprises almost everyone.

Shortcake loves Sull instantly – she thinks he’s absolutely “precious.” But considering her bad history with pets (she brings them home if they’re cute, and then forgets them . . .), she quickly forgets his existence. However, if you remind her, she’ll gush about how adorable he is. “And such a diligent child, always busy working.”

SISTER #5:Eliza Batbayar

from badassoftheweek.com
Give her a cyborg eye and right arm, make her older,  and yessss, perfect

Nickname: Lizard (or Deadeyed Lizzy)

With a nickname partially derived from her name, and partially derived from the fact that she always looks asleep, Lizard is the watchful bartender of Henpecked. She has robotic parts from a horrific incident in her past, but she’s turned this to her advantage. She still holds the record for the most live bounties taken in Sector 3. Like the rest of the sisters, she rarely talks about her past. However, she makes no secret of her identity as Deadeyed Lizzy (given partly because she has a cyborg eye, and partly because she’s never been known to miss a shot).

Age: 35

Occupation: Bartender, Waitress

Height: 152.4 cm                  Weight: 46.2 kg   Race: Human/Cyborg

Weakness: She’s actually pretty nice, and she’d rather avoid conflict.

Weapon of Choice: Alongside a weaponized arm that can fire various projectiles, she also has a trusty set of pistols that no one is allowed to touch. And she can hit anything with them.

Likes: Mixing drinks, talking to patrons, exchanging capture stories.

Dislikes: Baking. Small talk. False fronts and dishonesty.

Favorite Food: She’ll eat anything, but she’s partial to anything with a lot of vegetables, and she prefers salty to sweet.

Despite her formidable reputation, Lizard is the most open to teaching Sull some self-defense know-how. She’s a hard but fair teacher, and she doesn’t ask questions. Still, Sull never allows himself to forget how dangerous Lizard, or any of the sisters, really are.

SISTER #6: Teral of Min

copyright – DajaBeeSensei – deviantart.com

Imagine something like above ^^, but with long pointed ears, yellow eyes, and navy skin. And redder hair. Also, she has a respirator.

Nickname: Red

Standing just above 4ft tall, Red is the shortest of the sisters. But that doesn’t make her the safest. Red is one of the last of the Minuerans, a race of small, humanoid aliens that are known to be masters of stealth and assassination. Despite her unusually red hair, Red would have lived up to all of that. Unfortunately, she is also allergic to almost everything that grows outside of her homeworld. Red wears a respirator at all times to help her breath the unfamiliar air and avoid reactions. This doesn’t stop her from sneezing constantly. But no one dares to call her sneezy, and for good reason . . .

Age:  Around 30 in human years

Occupation: Waitress, Host, Busser

Height: 124.5 cm     Weight: 31.7 kg  Race: Minueran

Weakness: The environment

Weapon of Choice: Though her sneezing and respirator always herald her arrival, her small size, brute strength, and light feet make her a different kind of danger. She likes to trip her opponents, and then finish them off with the infamous Minueran spiked club.

Likes: Human food, which she is highly allergic to

Dislikes: Flowers, as she is highly allergic to them.

Favorite Food: Biscuits and gravy, which, you guessed it, she’s allergic to.

Red is mostly indifferent to Sull. As far as she’s concerned, he’ll have to earn his keep before he becomes worth noticing. Still, if he wants tips on how to take on a much bigger opponent, she’s a real pro and she likes to talk about it.

SISTER #7: Mollie

I picture her as looking a lot like Morena Baccarin in The Red Tent ^^

Nickname: Mollie IS her nickname

Mollie is the unplanned child of a human and an alien. She was taken in by warrior priests, friends of her father. However, she is artistic and dreams of opening a shop or gallery in a big, fashionable city. Though she is a passable fighter, her heart isn’t in it, and she ran away from her army-school-temple as a teenager. She fell in with The Doctor soon after, and she has followed the older woman ever since. Mollie’s real name- Machlah – was hard for her superiors to pronounce. Mollie stuck, but she’s sore about it (why doesn’t she get a fun nickname)

Age:  23

Occupation: Girl of All Work

Height: 157.5 cm           Weight:  52.6 kg          Race: Half human/half alien

Weakness: Daydreams too much to focus

Weapon of Choice: She prefers to make art, not war, but don’t be fooled: she’s skilled in several martial arts, and those elegant hatchets in her hair . . . they’re fully operational.

Likes: Fashionable clothes and accessories. Art.

Dislikes: Rough culture, bad manners, hard living.

Favorite Food: Pastries

As the youngest, the tallest, and a half-blooded outcast, Mollie immediately sympathizes with Sull. However, he isn’t looking for an annoying surrogate older sister. Still, she’s enamored with the life he left, or what little hints he drops, and she is determined to be his friend. And what Mollie wants, Mollie usually gets.

WHEW – that was a lot of characters. Hopefully you didn’t get lost (if you made it this far!).

What are your impressions of “The Sisters”? Any one that stood out to you? Do you think you’d like to work with them, or is Sull in big trouble?

 

Beautiful People #16 – March Edition (Red as Blood)

In which all my good intentions for sticking to the same project derail, and I introduce my newest novel project – vintage-y sci fi/cyberpunk-with lots of food

So, I had fully intended to use The Butler Did It  . . . (my alternate history/steampunk project), but here’s the thing: sometimes characters have such a strong voice that they shove themselves into whatever you’re doing, screaming WRITE ME!

Naturally, as an author, this is a good thing – but it can be pretty inconvenient (if you’re driving on a rainy freeway, or showering, or at work with nothing to write on . . .).
At any rate - that voice belongs to Sull (a.k.a.Sully, Sullen, The Boy, etc ), a mysterious boy who is:
1. Obviously going by a fake name
2. Has a lot to hide
3. Has been starving and scavenging on his own for a year. 
4. Is so lovely that it gets him into scads of trouble and has caused all sorts of psychological trauma

What else you need to know: 
1. This project takes place in the world of The Last Coffee Shop (just later on the timeline), where alternate "Earth" is an apocalyptic wasteland, diverse species and races of aliens rule the skies, and the sci-fi environment is heavily influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs, world mythology and music, and Lost in Space. 

2. It's currently titled Red as Blood, and it's best described as HippolytusSnow WhiteHallyu Wave culture + Haute couture. 

3. My strange fixation on food service locations continues, with a greasy diner in a mining colony in the middle of nowhere (space) serving as the major setting this time. Henpecked Bar & Grill is famous for it's salvaged, antique chicken signs, and the seven short (dubious and fierce) women who run it with iron fists and toothy grins. It's no place for a pretty boy . . .

Intrigued? Then read on.
(Just in case you were wondering, Beautiful People is an awesome monthly writing meme hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In)

1. What first inspired this character? Is there a person/actor you based them off?

Most of my recent projects have involved mainly adult (or considered an adult for their time) characters, so maybe I felt the need to write in the first person perspective of a teenage boy??  

Sull (a misspelled variation of his name that he goes by for most of the book) is a complicated fellow, and he had a lot of inspiration - my teenage self, my brothers, characters I love, etc. Also, I had the sudden desire to write about a teenage model who runs away and gets a job in food service . . . ahem. Anyhow, here are some pictures/things that influenced Sull's character.
(image credits - L to R, T to B - artmeg101, LuhanMemories, amy-core, Pinterestgermanmissileskqotd

2. Describe their daily routine.

Before he ran away - Sull was on an extremely rigid schedule, supervised by his agent, manager, and nanny. Now he bums around, steals things, and looks for food. He also gets into fights - which he never wins.

3. If they joined your local high school, what clique would they fit into?

That's an interesting thought - Sull has been privately tutored all his life, and his interactions with his peers are a disaster. Personality wise, he'd be in the loners/outcasts. But (pre-story) considering his wealth, his father's name, and his background, he could be one of those rich, popular kids (though I doubt he'd last long there).

4. Write a list of things they merely tolerate. Ex: certain people, foods, circumstances in their lives…

1. Fame
2. His father
3, His agent
4. Humanity
5. Life

Note - this is not to be confused with the list of things he actively hates.

5. How does he react in awkward silences?

He stays silent. He likes quiet and solitude, and would prefer a world where no one spoke. And his poker face is A++

6. Can they swim? If so, how did they learn?

No. He's never been swimming, or even had the opportunity. It probably wouldn't occur to him as a fun activity.

7. What is one major event that helped shape who they are?

MAJOR SPOILERS. You'll have to read the book someday to find out. 
For a secondary event, when Sull gets a job in the kitchen at the Henpecked Bar & Grill, it changes his life in ways he'd never imagined.

8. What things do they value most in life?

His personal integrity. He has his own code and he never breaks it.

9. Do they believe in giving other people second chances? Do they have any trust issues?

While Sull has no problem with "second chances" as a concept, he doesn't really believe in them. Trust issues = his middle name. Based on his past/where he came from, there are a lot of reasons why he never trusts anyone.

10. Your character is having a rough day…what things do they do to make them happy again? Is there anyone they talk/interact with to get in a better mood?

Before Sull ran away, he was carefully monitored for behavioral or mood imbalances. Any sign of rebellion brought a new prescription. Now that Sull's been on his own for a year, he's used to feeling everything, and because he's all alone, he acts out however he feels like acting. He's usually pretty destructive.

Later in the novel, after Sull makes a few friends, he gets a couple confidants who can talk him out of his notoriously bad moods.

While he may not be the most personable chap, Sull is pretty fun to write about, and his adventures with the “Seven Sisters” are all kinds of interesting things to plot out. And I haven’t even mentioned half of the plot or characters here!

What do you think about Sull and his strange world? Would you like to work in the kitchens of a space diner? Did you see the movie John Carter of Mars? I am one of the 10 people who not only saw that movie – they loved it. I read the book first, and I still liked it.

Follow Beck’s board Writing Inspiration: Red as Blood on Pinterest.