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 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!

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