Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Careful Cuts, Timely Advice and Munchkins

It's always good for a couple to share interests and experiences. Now, I understand why there was so much swearing while Jon edited films. I also remembered why I did not choose to go into the filmmaking track when I was an undergrad. Though part of my problem stemmed from the crude technology of the time. Back in the olden days, editors actually cut film into pieces then taped it together. Even with a short film, there could be hundreds of tiny pieces to put back together before sound could be addressed. I hated that, and I hated directing then. While it's far easier to deal with hundreds of bits of digital film, I still find film editing daunting. This time, I'm manually syncing the dialog (oh, the swearing – from me this time). Jon is mostly helpful. I mean, he has a lot of knowledge to share, but it usually comes out after I've been wrestling with some issue for hours. I'll hear 'why didn't you try such and such?' And I'd answer, 'why didn't you tell me about this twelve hours ago' with a sweet voice and a frozen smile that I think frightened him. Oh, he's fine. And the editing is almost done. I still have to do color correction. The photo above is a still from the video that has not been color corrected. Everything takes a long time, because of having to reboot. It seems that the editing eats up a lot of RAM. After a couple of hours, the program starts to freeze. 'If you're not hogging RAM, you're doing something wrong,' Jon says. It means progress is in fits and starts. Yep, I really understand all that swearing. On the other hand, I can't do more than two hours straight either. Maybe my brain's RAM gets clogged and needs to be re-booting. All I know is that it's been good to have other things to switch off to. I've been doing a lot of multi-tasking. I am learning a great deal about how to edit and how to shoot better. At my current pace, the video should go live this Tuesday. Or Wednesday.

Still Finding Footing
This was an odd and sometimes difficult week. On the one hand, the Month of fun began early. I'll cover that later. I'm a member of a Facebook Appendix Cancer support group. I found them when I started doing research for the documentary. They are an amazing group of people who are living life with as much zeal as their battered bodies will allow. When I am thinking crazy things about my current state of normal, this group sets me straight and keeps me sane. It wasn't a good week for the group. An important member succumbed to the disease. And then, one of the founding members announced that the recurrence of the cancer meant she had to have another surgery. The risks of that surgery are very high in the best case scenario. I will not detail them here. And for this woman whose body has been ravaged internally from previous treatments, the risks are dire. Yet she bravely chose to have another go and is carrying on with fund raising for research and living life with her usual aplomb. I found myself shaken by all of this. Since I'd been declared cancer free, I've been trying to make up for the time I was sick and make the most of my time. Making the most of time meant not just accomplishing as many goals as possible but also not dwelling on things that are not important. In many ways, I am doing these things. But I am a flaky artist at times. I worry about not worrying, or I worry about wasting time or living up to the gift I've been given in getting a second chance on life. Or I worry about pushing too hard. On the day our group founder announced that she would have the surgery, I had been up and online editing the video and the manga and writing a script since very early in the morning. Then, I got an instant message from a longtime caregiver of a PMP patient. All it said was 'it's lunch time, take a break.' I was startled to realize that I was very hungry and very tired. I think I was also sad for my friend and angry that nothing else could be done. It was a well timed bit of advice. I needed a bean burrito, a good cry and a nap. The thing I'd forgotten in recent weeks is I'm supposed to be enjoying each day along with all of those other lofty plans. Things went a lot more smoothly after that.

Martinis in Munchkin Land
I love it when I go out with a totally wholesome activity in mind and end up in the middle of something decadent and potentially naughty. I set off to the Culver Farmer'sMarket with my usual list of items and my lists of items to browse for future purchase. This time, I had long-time bud, Marie Lecrivain with me. Marie is co-editrix of Sybaritic Press with me. She is also the founder and editor of Poetic Diversity, a notable and long running litzine. Marie is a sybarite, like myself. Thus I was not surprised that she managed to find some delightful treats I had overlooked during my many other visits. I knew there was a groovy mushroom booth called LA Funghi. They have truffle oil! And they had something really exotic called truffle salt. I'm waiting for information on what that's like to cook with. Many wholesome things were purchased. Okay, the rum infused, mini bundt cakes weren't exactly wholesome, but they were really yummy! From there, we went to the Culver Hotel  for a beverage. This is a historic hotel that once housed the actors who played the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz and was once owned by John Wayne. Thee were a half dozen pairs of ladies having tea from pretty ceramic pots and lovely treats on tiered trays. I was thinking of having something like that when our server announced that it was nearly happy hour. That meant that the Dirty Harry Martini I'd been eyeing on the menu would be half off. Decision made! We had a long, lovely chat while enjoying impeccable drinks and some delicious treats. The Month of Fun has begun! And I was very tickled that it began with Marie.

I will have a bunch next week!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Musings on Cow Hooves and Haggis

It wasn't only that I was seriously considering coming home from the multi-ethnic market with a shin bone from a calf (complete with hoof) which made me realize I was becoming a hardcore cook. There were some things I could make with one didn't involve aspic. That day, I wasn't in the mood for such high level, fancy wrangling. And I worried about Jon's reaction upon coming home to a hoof sticking out of a tall pot. It was also that Jon wasn't surprised that I was considering such a purchase. When I wondered why, he told me that I routinely bring home chicken feet (they make awesome stock), and that I've been coming up with viable strategies while watching Chopped. That is true, though I still think I would have reacted well to canned haggis. You know, there is vegetarian Haggis? It's made with beans, mushrooms and oats that's baked in a pan. Jon thinks that is more of a vegetarian scrapple. I found that also. It's called Vrapple. The internet is evil. But I digress.

I've entered a new level with cooking, 'tis true. However, I had fallen out of the kind of extensive meal prep I had been doing prior to chemo. I do cook dinner almost every night, but I have been doing them with less planning than even before I got sick. I used to do a bi-montly mega preps, so we'd have meals with very little thought for an entire two weeks. They would last longer, because inspiration always strikes, and I'll want to try something different from the plan at the spur of the moment. But it was really good to have a nice selection of options in the freezer ready to go. I'd just add a veg or salad or pasta, whatever. It is easier to eat correctly when the foods are handy and easy to prepare. It also leaves me with more free time during any given day. I'd forgotten how soothing doing all that chopping and such can be. My mind is taken out of everything focusing on that.

I needed to do errands and cook, so I can free up that time during a busy upcoming week for post on the videos. I have enough goofy distractions to keep me away from my various difficult tasks without adding legitimate ones. On top of the post editing, I'm proofing the manga pages, working on pilot and there are some other bits of writing I need to get finished sooner than later. Yes, I'm talking about Rik and Vincent. It all sounds like a crazy pace when I look at it here, but somehow things get done and I don't feel panicked over it. And no worries about me overdoing it. My body is really good at demanding rest by going on strike if I push too hard. That's when I get my reading done!

Before I forget again, I must announce that we are only 8 days from the Month of Fun. This day also marks the second anniversary of my MOAS (Mother Of All Surgery), giving me more reasons to celebrate properly. For new readers, the Month of Fun is when yours truly celebrates another year of life by taking the time to appreciate all the things – big and small – that make life special. I spend time with friends I don't usually get to see. I take the time to have that special baked good and lovely coffee I would usually skip during an errand. This year, I could even have a mani/pedi. The black strips on my nails from chemo are finally gone! The Month of Fun is not about spending money. It's about the sage wisdom of Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks. Paraphrased, you should give yourself a present every day. Over the years, I have found a present a day is not possible. But I can do it for 30 days consistently. It can be something big – like being in France. Or something as simple as a 'damned fine cup of coffee.' There are some lovely spots I've discovered since I last lunched with certain friends. I'd love to share them. I may even take in a picture show. I haven't done that in quite a while as I haven't seen anything worth the considerable expense involved in going to the movies lately. However, Dark Shadows comes out on my birthday. That seems to be destiny. That was the first soap I've ever loved. And Barnabas was the first vampire I knew. And there was funk and disco in the trailer! Even the Avengers is looking appealing. It's woefully lacking in giant robots, but I'll take giant robot dragon snakes. The Japanese trailer is cooler and gets to the point faster. Look at it HERE. What can you do to help me with the Month of Fun? If you are in the LA area, let's have lunch already! Otherwise, I accept well wishes of all kinds (including rain dances).

Meanwhile, I still have chicken stock to make and boxes of things to edit.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Shoots, Truths and Finding Footing

Everyone has recovered from their colds -- including Magic the office cat. Onward to the blog!
There are two truths to any film shoot – no matter how small. The first is that the more hats one wears, the less time one sits. I was on my feet for five full hours to shoot two segments that will be under five minutes in length. The other truth is that filmmaking prohibits going to the bathroom. I wasn't sure if this truth would hold up on such a small shoot. After all, I had no Assistant Directors, P.A.s or caterers around to stop me from reaching the restroom with dozens of questions. There were no questions to answer, but there were dozens of things to do at any given moment. Thus, I could no longer blame not being allowed in the bathroom on a pervasive conspiracy amongst my crew. The third truth is  not a part of the filmmaking process but my own issue --  I would pay for all those physical shenanigans. I spent Friday curled up on one end of sofa in a state that I hadn't seen in over a year. No worries. I was almost back to what I consider normal by Saturday. On a side note, Robert Rodriguez may enjoy being a one man crew, but I believe that if you can pay for a full crew, get the danged crew!

Why did I go through this hair-brained scheme and endure such physical stress? There are a number of reasons that don't sound too crazy. The primary reason is that I'm learning to shoot films on my own, so that I don't have to depend on hiring anyone other that production assistants to help me shoot The Secret Cancer. I realized that if I had a cinematographer shoot footage in Los Angeles, I'd have to have the same person travel with me wherever I went. Otherwise, the footage wouldn't have the same look from city to city. I was also getting hung up on even getting started waiting for crew to be available on a consistent basis. Jon was certain that I could easily pick up what I needed to learn. All I would need to do is practice. He suggested I shoot simple things that I could control easily and that I could shoot fairly often.

At that point, I was looking for a clever way to promote my yaoi titles that didn't involve paying for ads. I was also interested in doing video responses to recipes by my favorite Youtube chefs. I could shoot cooking videos easily. I've been doing those since the fall of last year. It's been neat to have a video dialogue with some talented chefs that I admire. I've also found an innovative way of promoting some of my titles. The foods that appear in manga and anime are real Japanese dishes. Cooking and eating are often central to character relationships. Everyone who has read my work knows that food plays a big part of character interaction. It was a natural to have a food based video promotion. The first videos for Cook Like a Uke (oo-kay) featured my hands and a voice over announcer. And they aren't doing badly as far as number of views goes. I've even made some book sales from what is a very modest effort is a thrill. But yaoi readers like pretty men. There were calls for actual ukes cooking food.

I'm a filmmaker in Los Angeles which is not lacking in pretty men looking to act. I realized I could move my film school training to the next level with actors in front of the camera to light and frame properly. I could not only promote my own titles, but I could also promote manga I edited for the Digital Manga Guild. It happens that a meal cooked in gratitude moved the main relationship in the book toward romance.

As I said a blog or two ago, I did a casting breakdown and signed a four actor pool. I knew that I could probably only handle shooting one or two segments at a clip. I'm hoping to do a few shoots and get as many segments in the can that I can before I'm forced to move on to the upcoming projects. I also expect these very talented young men to move onto bigger things fairly quickly. I must make hay while the sun shines. For the first shoot, I picked a beef curry dish to promote the manga, Again Tomorrow*. The actor I chose to play Yuusei (upper left), the handsome leading man with amnesia was Donal Thoms-Cappello (below right) who is great looking and resembled the manga character. The other was the next dish I'd been planning to film anyway, Tonjiru or Pork Miso soup. The actor playing Misaki who made the dish for a tutor that would later become his lover in Junjour Romantica was Ryohie Watanabe. This actor is actually Japanese and has more than a passing familiarity making that dish. A third actor, Kevin Chambers (He's left in the apron being geeky. He's also about to eat that whole bowl of stew.), agreed to come by for a photo shoot. While here, he read the lines from the voice over announcer who is the antagonist in the videos. That was helpful for the guys on camera, and really kind to me. And I was most lucky to have make-up maven, Cat Elrod, in the house. Aside from being highly skilled at her job, she is always a delight to have on set. She even helped me do the dishes!

All in all, things went rather well. Jon did what set decorating there was before he went to work. I had weeks to clean and organize the apartment. Incidentally, this shoot finally pushed me to change the apartment from being a place where a sick person was recovering back to an apartment. I find I really like not being surrounded by pill bottles. But I digress. There was food prep for each dish, photographing ingredients and the actors, running the sound and shooting the video and selecting wardrobe. The whole five hours went by in a blur. I hope I seemed competent during the whole ordeal. I did manage to get everything on my shot lists. The sound for each segment was recorded properly. It's not all done perfectly. There will be challenges in post, but they are minor enough that I'm certain I can make the required adjustments on my own. The performances were very good. I think the yaoi readers will get what they were hoping for. The Yuusei character was flirty and really funny. The Misaki character was shy and sweet. Above all, the food was really good. Each dish was consumed immediately after I took the last shot of it plated up. What was really wonderful to hear for this amateur chef was that, for Ryohei, the food turned out like real Japanese cooking he would get at home. In this case, I had the sense to listen to him when he adjusted the recipes I was using while cooking on camera. A great chef knows when to get out of the way! I admit that I'm really jazzed that this went off well.

That said, this shoot also drove home that I can't handle running all over a really big sound stage or location for days on end during a feature. I'm going to have to be rigid about what I will be doing on these projects. But I am pleased to know that I will be able to have some role. That wasn't really clear until this past Friday. Yeah, I'm jazzed.

Now, it's back to juggling the scripts and manga and video editing and cooking. A lot of wonderful things are on the horizon.

Stay tuned.

*Again Tomorrow - Ashita Kara Mouichido © Nabako Kamo. All rights reserved. Original Japanese edition published in 2010 by Taiyoh Tosho Publishing Co., Ltd.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Blog Delayed Due to a Cat

This will be a micro-blog. Aside from the insane cooking I do for any given major holiday, Jon brought home the cold going around the office. He believes that Magic,  the black office cats is responsible. The cat was sneezing on his keyboard just before Jon caught the cold. I don't think it works that way. In any case, I've got the full blown, miserable cold symptoms and Jon to take care of. I also have some hard deadlines I have to meet. Thus, I can't wrestle with the blog this week. There's enough going on for a big, rollicking blog next week.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Weather Woes, Pioneering Trends and Finding Faces

Okay, I'm almost at the point where I end my own moratorium on making fun of LA weather folk. Today makes more than a dozen times that the forecast missed a rainstorm. There are excuses, of course, that involve head scratching terminology. These are unacceptable in the face of advertising that hysterically touts the finely tuned technical accuracy of one forecaster's instruments over another. Why is it important? It's only rain. I'm in Los Angeles where a rainstorm has the same impact on drivers as black ice does in parts of the country that have real weather issues. One has to a lot more time for all but the shortest of trips. And those trips involve walking. I've been here for nearly two decades, and the motorist vs rain dynamic still befuddles me. Get your acts together, Doppler-gangers, or feel the wrath of my derision!

Strangely, I did two blogs mid-week because I didn't want to write a huge blog last week. I was tired. But many of my readers did not click on the links to the other blogs. I thought they were clearly marked, but that doesn't seem to be the case from the notes I received. No matter. Since one of the blogs harkens back to the first one I did here, six years ago, I'll include it in this blog. The other covers my first casting session in years and my progress in learning how to be a one man crew on the documentary, so that one is in here as well.

Hold onto your hats!

  There are times when I must admit that I go beyond being crestfallen about the pace toward my career goals and drift toward being a touch homicidal. Worry not, my gentle readers are not guilty of anything that would cause such violent feelings from me. However, these people who occasionally infuriate me do inhabit my orbit and have known me for at least a decade. And it's not like I keep my various pursuits a secret. Still, I have well meaning souls coming to me with great excitement and telling me things like 'I just saw something called a book trailer. You should make those to promote your books.' I have four of them online at this moment. This is the latest one I did for the Demonspawn books. Ultimately, I didn't start yelling over this advice, because I haven't pushed the book trailers as far and wide as some of my other marketing efforts.
The latest observation and advice is all about 50 Shades of Gray and its author EL James. I've had a number of people writing me about how this author went from writing fanfiction to writing successful fiction that sprung from the fan works and have a bdsm emphasis. Perhaps, they suggested, I should be doing something like that, too? EXCUSE ME??? In my earliest blogs (SIX years ago), I talk about my creds as a romance fan  and that of a fanfiction writer in the creation of my first book. Geez! What does it take? Okay, I'll grant that I tend to write in niche markets. And perhaps I don't toot my own horn a lot. But I was in a feature film documentary (Trekkies) talking about writing bdsm fanfiction while wearing a corset !!
Okay, that blog was a long time ago. And it was very brief. Maybe I didn't make myself clear. Back in 2005, I was very much in the throes of an obsession with Legolas Greenleaf of he Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy. Legolas was everything I adore in any given yaoi character – lithe but very strong and incredibly beautiful while absolutely masculine. I had seen the films almost often enough to recite them, but wanted to do more. At that time I was reading LOTR fanfiction. Most of it was awful. There was some very good stories, but they were still not satisfying. For a long time, I toyed with writing my own fanfiction. I would be entering another fan arena where I was not very well known. Those who knew me would be expecting a certain bent to my fiction – humor mixed with bdsm. I didn't really want to write that sort of thing for my Legolas inspired fiction. Beyond that, I had sold a feature film. I could no longer justify taking the time away from professional creative endeavors in favor of writing fiction for its own sake.

Thus, The Gift of Surrender was born. I created a realm called the Hanyanoor (a Finnish word for The Known Lands). On the Eastern end of that realm was a prosperous kingdom where the King was weakening with each day. He could not really function must past noon on any given day. The kingdom is at peace with its neighbors, but anyone of them could exploit the king's state to overrun it. Princess Sarianna, the sole heir to the throne is persuaded to marry to strengthen the throne. Though she agreed, Sarianna knows nothing of men and is terrified that marriage would be the end of her personal freedom and the right to have any say in the running of her own kingdom. The prospects do not look good.

Sarianna rode long and hard every day following the departure of her first suitor. She rode until her horse was exhausted. She drove the sentries mad keeping up with her. There was no help for it. Riding was the only way the Princess could blot the previous fortnight out of her memory. The thunder of the hooves and the howl of the wind kept his voice out of her head. The jarring, breathless rides made her forget the feel of his hands on her skin. The problem was that the rides ended throwing Sarianna into a spiral of anger and despair. She was a thundercloud when she was not on her horse. For days on end, the Princess said nothing that wasn’t absolutely necessary.
On the fourth day, when Sarianna stormed from the stables, she found Neuvoja waiting instead of Hanna. While she didn’t want another silent, tense bath with her chambermaid, the Princess really did not want to talk to her advisor.
I cannot hear any words about my demeanor right now, Neuvoja,” she muttered. “Please go. We shall speak in the morning.”
Princess, I come with news,” the advisor replied. “A messenger from Ritvala arrived with news that King Magnus is journeying here with his three sons.”
Sarianna found her legs had no strength. She sank onto the nearest chair. “Three? When will they arrive?”
Two days hence at the most,” he replied.
The Princess sighed heavily. “Tell me of these sons of Ritvala.”
They are accomplished warriors all and said to have their father’s fine looks and bearing,” Neuvoja replied. “The youngest one was born of the Suurimetsa.”
The Forest People?” Sarianna asked. “I thought no one from the Hanyanoore ever had contact with them.”
King Magnus did and took one as a hostage bride,” the advisor replied.
I am to meet three warriors whose father has taken a bride and made her bear him a son,” Sarianna muttered.
Ritvala would be a good alliance for Arinpera,” Neuvoja said.
But you still think Rowsdower would have been a better one,” the Princess pointed out.
I am sorry, Princess,” he said quietly. “I was thinking that they are close to our borders, and the Queen is an ally of your father’s. Perhaps among the three princes there could be a suitable match.”
Please, say no more of it. I must find a way to do what is required,” she said quietly.
All the kind words and advice cannot change the fact that I must face these… suitors… alone.”
Have their chambers been made ready?”
Yes, Highness. All is ready for their arrival.”
Thank you, my dear teacher. Please, send Hanna to me.”
Princess, it breaks our hearts to see you in such a state.”
It is the way of things. You had your trials to test your knowledge. Warriors must tax their bodies to prepare for battle,” she said. “There is little being asked of me by comparison. We can talk further in the morning. I grow weary.”
There was much more he wanted to say. Sarianna knew this. But she could not talk about what had happened to anyone. If she talked about it, she would dwell on it. If she dwelled on it, she would never be able to face those brothers.
Neuvoja relented. “Very well. Sleep well, Princess.”
I will try.”

Meanwhile, Prince Nikulainen or Niku, is not any happier with this situation. He had thought he'd get to choose a mate for love as he was third in line for the throne at best. He and his mother were, as far as he knew, considered hostages at worst. Despite the songs sung by many travelers about Princess Sarianna's beauty, he was loathe to compete against his older brothers for the hand of a woman he'd never met. But his mother told him that things were never what they seemed between them and King Magnus, and Niku always wanted to please his father. Still, he never expected his life to be upended in one instant.

Highness, help me close the stable! We are under attack!” He shouted.
Sarianna quickly closed the heavy wooden window shutters as Minos closed the great main doors to the stables. Sentries arrived as they finished. The Princess knew they were startled and upset to find her so far from the main building. It could have been far worse. She could have been out riding.
Don’t try to get me back,” Sarianna called out to them. “There is too much open area. As far as strangers know, I am a stable girl. Go!”
The men took positions nearby to defend the back entrance and the King’s horses. Sarianna didn’t expect an attack there. It was nearly inaccessible to those who were not very familiar with the roads. And the terrain was such that no heavy weaponry could get through. Still, Minos picked up a short sword and gave Sarianna a large hunting knife. They anxiously looked though narrow slats in the door toward the main gate straining to hear what was happening.
The noise was not coming from that far gate. The walls near the back entrance were being scaled. Whizzing arrows viciously struck down the sentries on those walls. The battle was engaged before anyone from that gate could sound an alarm.
This is madness,” Sarianna hissed. “Who would attack in such a manner?”
Assassins,” Minos replied with quiet certainty. “I feel it in these old bones. They know you are here or would be nearby.”
What are we to do? No one has sounded the alarm from this gate!”
This building will hold. If they try to burn it, help will arrive,” he said.
The Princess looked at him balefully. “Burn?”
Worry not, Princess. I do not think it will come to that,” he said.
Suddenly, black-clad men with bows and swords dropped down from the wall where the Sentries had fallen. There were ten of them with more on the wall. The guards near the stables were soon overwhelmed with fighting them, leaving the Princess completely vulnerable.
Just as suddenly, the assassins on the wall were falling with arrows in their chests. Sarianna saw a flash of someone running along the wall shooting arrows with incredible speed. Swift footsteps were heard crossing the stable roof. Then, the figure was in the middle of the battle in front of them with a sword drawn. He was very tall with long, pale golden hair. That was all she could see, for he moved so quickly dispatching the assassins two at a time. Her own guards had fallen, but were not dead. This stranger kept killing blows from them. He took up the horn of alarm and sounded it when his last combatant had fallen.
He is here to help!” Sarianna exclaimed, moving to the door.
Nay, Princess,” Minos whispered urgently. “It may be a ruse.”
He has sounded the alarm. I shall meet him before others arrive,” she stated. Minos opened the door, but kept his sword and stood close to her.
Sarianna stepped out of the stable as the young man turned toward the movement. In the light of the sunset, he was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. He had a tall, lithe body, but he was muscled where Rowsdower had been soft. He had large, expressive dark eyes, fine high cheekbones, a firm jaw and a well-formed mouth. He was masculine indeed, despite the long, thick fall of pale gold hair. Yet, he was very beautiful. The man gazed at her for a long moment, and then he sank gracefully onto one knee.
I am your servant, Princess,” he said in a quiet, rich voice.
She is my stable girl. The Princess is not here!” Minos exclaimed.
Do not fear me, milady,” he said softly.
Sarianna found she did not. “What is your name, sir?”
I am Nikulainen, son of King Magnus and Lady Reija of Ritvala,” he replied.
She found she liked listening to him. She found it would be hard not to look at him. Her breathing became more difficult. Her cheeks colored, but her gaze never wavered. “I am Princess Sarianna, and I owe you a great debt.”
He smiled then, and her breath quietly caught.
“Nay, Princess. ‘Tis my honor to serve.”

Don't worry, these aren't big spoilers in this epic romance. There are intrigues upon intrigues and betrayals that are painfully close to the couple. And of course there is humor. The book is far from a comedy, but it clearly has a sense of humor. And, of course, there is a twist to the romance. Though Sarianna falls in love with Niku in an instant, she fears his physical power and that of his father. He eases those fears by surrendering his physical power to her. Thus, I still get my D/s twist in there. You'll just have to read the book to see how.

Meanwhile, there is a very tasty excerpt HERE. Warning! Explicit Erotic Content!

The Gift of Surrender is available on all Ebook formats at Smashwords.com HERE .
For Paperback or Kindle, go to Amazon.com HERE.

Casting Sessions

I've been very pleased with the support I've received for Cook Like a Uke. One of the few criticisms – aside from the criticisms based on foreign Japan-o-files thinking that yaoi is something that the Japanese found offensive – is that there aren't actual Ukes cooking the food. I gave that some thought, and realized that this was a fair criticism. And there were things I could do about it. I am a filmmaker, after all. And I live in the land of hot actor boys. Thus, I've decided to use the itsy-bitsy marketing budget I have for the yaoi titles to do some shoots with actors cooking like a uke.And I had a logo done for some new aprons!

I had a casting call last week. It's the first one I've had in a number of years, and I worried that the low budget would limit the choices for the parts. I needed actors who were hot, had a presence on camera AND had credible cooking skills who were willing to work on such a modest budget. I was not very hopeful. Thus, I was very pleasantly surprised when I found four such actors to fill the roles of the various kinds of ukes. At lest, they looked good in their photos and had some very nice reels. But there is more to casting this sort of part than those basic requirements. I had to meet with them to see if they actually looked as good in person (I've been unpleasantly surprised during casting sessions when actors turned out to be a lot older than the photos and reels they post or they've had a few years of hard, hard living since their last head shot and reel was shot). Then, I had to find out if they were truly credible in the kitchen. There are many stories from beleaguered directors about actors who claim they can roller blade or ride a motorcycle only to end up in the hospital and markedly set back en entire film or TV shoot. I didn't want to have an actor or me in the ER from a knife wound, nor did I want my kitchen or me set on fire.

The last thing I had could only gauge in a a face to face meeting is how comfortable the actors would be with the subject matter. That meant, explaining what yaoi is and why it has a rabid, mostly female audience. I basically gave them the history I wrote in a blog last November, Kitchen Supplies, Bromances and Other PicturePostcards. Just scroll down the middle of the blog for the Bromance part. Later, I sent links to episodes to Junjou Romantica and Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi that relate to cooking food.It was funny explaining all of this if the passers by were any indication. Ah well, it wasn't the weirdest casting meeting I've ever had.

The four actors chosen fit the requirements for the roles, and they embraced the spirit of the webseries. I have four different types of guys who will cover some of the various types of ukes, or, in some cases, the very serious, buttoned down Semes who are cooking for ukes. The plan is to make dishes from yaoi anime and manga (this includes a dish from Nabako Kamo's Again Tomorrow that I worked on with a team of localizers for the Digital Manga Guild). The first shoot is scheduled for April 2nd. I'll post behind the scenes photos of the shoot that day. The first video from that shoot are slated to be posted on April 6th. The actors who will appear during the run of the series are:
Ryohei Watanabe

Ryohei Watanabe, a Japanese actor/dancer/director who has been in the US for five years. He is an avid cook who has his own recipes for many of the dishes on the schedule. You can find out more about him at ryoheiwatanabe.com.
Kyle  Valle

Kyle Valle, an actor who is also an avid anime fan and foodie who is a talented, self taught cook.
Donal Thoms-Cappello

Donal Thoms-Cappello, an actor/comedian who is a trained cook.
Edward Swingler

Edward Swingler, and actor/dancer/cinematographer who loves to cook.

As you can see, they are very easy on the eyes. I can't wait to see what they will bring to this fun and irreverent little series.


The shoot was delayed since I wrote until after Easter. I have all sorts of meetings that cropped up for that day.

Stay tuned!