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!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mid -week Senanigans, Casting Cuties and Chasing Elves

As promised, Here is the mid-week blog about my other shenanigans. I'm going to lob you at my other blog sites. As I've said earlier, I have to keep my branding in mind when I do these blogs. This fuels the search engine traffic which really does fuel the old book sales.

On the Romantica at Sypress site, you'll find quite a rant about how taxing it is to be told that I should be following current trends that I have been following already for a number of years. That leads into how I came to write my first romance and start this very blog. It's a rabid but insightful rant. I've re-released the book on smashwords. For those who've never read it (naughty, naughty), there is a full explanation of how it came to spring from an obsession over Legolas from Lord of the Rings. There is also some naughty, naughty excerpts to spur you to buy the book! That link is HERE. While you visit, take a moment or two or thirty to read the fabulous and fun blogs of Marguerite Lliteras and sample her fun and naughty book The Intern.

On the Yaoi at Sypress site, I chronicle how my simple little cooking videos to promote the yaoi books, Cook Like a Uke  have involved into an actual shoot with some very, very cute actors. I mean, they are adorable. Of course, there is a tale to tell about the casting session and how amusing that all was. I had to put on my producer suit and actually wear make-up for the meetings with these guys. And, while I was out, I ran into Gary Dourdan from CSI while awaiting my first actor. I was at the preferred place for go-see meetings, a coffee shop in Marina del Rey. Ladies (and some guys), he really is that cute in person.  and he winked at me! I had the presence of mind to not respond with a girly teehee. You'll have to read the rest on the sybpressyaoi site HERE.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Fangled vs Old Fashioned and a Tired Brain

This is a short one due to brain overload. I'll be putting out mini blogs during the week with more information.

I really do appreciate advances in technology, despite ample evidence to the contrary. I still write my fiction in longhand. Heck, I write actual letters to people. However, I cannot imagine writing fiction or scripts on a typewriter. I don't like thinking about using a typewriter or a business letter. Between services like Skype and shared file interfaces have allowed me to work with people in Japan on manga and short stories. And I completely get why the most rudimentary cell phone is valuable in keeping safe in a deserted area. One doesn't need to leave the car to seek out the lone pay phone on a desolate street to call for help. One just needs to keep that battery charged. And I completely get that the social networks are a must for both established and independent artists to build and audience and hawk their wares. Digital Manga expects their localizing teams to keep a blog and a twitter account to generate buzz for their titles.

But I'm still the same person who avoids having a walkie talkie on film set. My cell phone is barely smart at all. I only upgraded from one that only made phone calls, because of the trip to San Francisco. Airlines update by e-mail or an app, and I could use social networks to send one message to many people that we arrived safely. A reasonably smart phone is also handy in medical situations for getting word out or requesting help from a bunch of folks at a clip. My attitude has changed enough that I no longer call people who text me to yell at them. I can't believe how much info I can carry on a phone to transmit to others for work. I got the smarter phone reluctantly and use it sparingly. My Twitter account happened as an accident of sorts. When I signed my blog up for some kind of cross promotion, the process also set up a Twitter account. I wasn't going to use it at all until I discovered that my favorite chefs hung out there, and they were willing to answer questions from fans and retweet their efforts to their followers. I later found it to be valuable in driving my book sales.

But this week, I have to confess that all this accessibility grew trying. There are currently four ways to engage me in a direct dialog online and two ways to communicate with me by phone. A couple of times in the past week, I swear that all five ways of reaching me were on fire. It always seemed to happen when I was trying to solve a nettlesome problem with editing. Two days this week, the multi-tasking began at 10 am and I was still at it in some fashion when Jon was walking in the door at 6pm! I hadn't even made dinner. It's difficult to cut off the online access, because I need it to do the editing. There have been long days when I've spent hours going back and forth with our manga typesetter. Was my brain ever tired by the end of those days. I could do nothing in the evening beyond staring at the TV. I don't even think I could engage enough to watch a program. I don't know how these young-ungs handle all that hardware and all those conversations at once. I'm not sure that I'll ever get used to it. As for electronic tablets, I have no use for one yet. I can see highly useful applications on a set, but not right now. I can't justify the expense. While I have embraced some of the high tech of this century and continue to be amazed by what it can accomplish, I'm not a complete techie yet. I don't know if I ever will be. I will always like hand writing stories (and letters). I will always love reading an actual book.

Though I was terribly busy this week, I was mostly housebound. I didn't do my usual walking every day. I seemed to have injured my back at some point and needed the rest. I couldn't even cook the way I usually do. It was frustrating, and no doubt lessened my patience with the various difficulties I had this past week. I was out on Saturday and walked almost five miles. I plan to slowly get back on track. The really vexing thing is that I don't know exactly how I hurt my back in the first place. Still, I cleared a bunch of stuff off my plate writing-wise. I'll soon be able to focus on some really big projects that I need and very much want to focus on.


There is a lot going on with my titles and on the web series front. I did a casting session for the first time in years. It was a lot of fun. I'll put out a couple of blogs about the goings on tomorrow. I have a pot roast to attend to, and my brain is still a little tired from all that multi-tasking.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Banned in Boston (and elswhere), Slanguage and Updates

 A book of mine was banned this week. It was only banned for 24 hours, but it was banned in Boston and everywhere else Amazon.com services. It was a sudden kerfuffle with Digital Manga Publishing over explicit content that was quickly resolved after a whole lot of hell was raised from all quarters of the manga community. This comes on the heels of Paypal demanding that certain erotic content be pulled from Smashwords.com. This, too, was reversed when the policy ignited a fire storm of protest. I am not a fan of rape, incest or bestiality as content. However, the wording of the policy would have affected classic literature like Lolita or any shape shifting fantasy that involved werewolves. It was also loudly pointed out that Paypal had no problems accepting money from Craigslist and other sites that sell porn and facilitate prostitution. Likewise, Amazon is in a glass house where content is concerned selling everything to 'inflatable friends' to toys that even I've never heard of before. I'm not going to link them here. Just search the site for any sort of kink, and there is a book, DVD and/or product that caters to it. I always thought I'd be banned or stoned by Trek fans because of The Secret Logs of Mistress Janeway, not for a sweetly sexy and funny collection like Again Tomorrow [Now available on Amazon Kindle at  http://amzn.com/B007FN03L6;
On Barnes and Noble Nook at:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/again-tomorrow-nabako-kamo/1109212837 and And On EManga at: http://www.emanga.com/books/Again_Tomorrow]  that was legally published in another country and properly licensed here. I'm glad that the issue is resolved for DMP. I'm really glad that I didn't have to battle to keep my books widely distributed. It would be hard for Sylvia Beach to champion banned authors in an era where one or two companies control so much of either online payment processing or actual content distribution.

Manga Editing – What DO You Do?

The book banning brings up the question of what does this company do and what do I do for it. I know my gentle and curious readers. Digital Manga Publishing is a US distributor of manga, light novels and soon literature from Japan. The Digital Manga Guild is a group of translators, editors and typesetters who work in teams called localizer to convert Japanese title into English. My team consists of LW Hubbard, an ex-pat professional translator who lives in Japan, Hentai Tenshi, an independent music producer who lives in the LA area and little ol' me. Our team works under the name Haven's Blade. I thought that we would be working largely independently of each other save for proofing the final pages. It has been far more collaborative, and it calls on skills and knowledge that are far beyond the manga stories on the pages. There needs to be a broad knowledge of past and current Japanese culture and pop culture. We've had instances where we've had to figure out what to call a product mentioned that is a parody of a wildly popular snack food in Japan. In the last week, we've come across popular TV shows and a catching hit song that had to be factored into the translations. Then we had to figure out what would be a stateside equivalent for those things while not making them too American. The author or mangaka http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangaka has to recognize the work. That was why I was listening to the RubberDucky Song earlier this week. What's been more challenging is making the dialogue sound natural and realistic when the characters are 20-something guys. Though the audience is certainly not 20-something guys, the characters have to sound as real as their Japanese counterparts. Since none of us are members of this demographic, that takes a bit of effort and all three of our brains. Among this weeks puzzlers was whether or not young punks would use the term German aphrodisiac and what could be used in its place. I couldn't find any reason for the substance coming from Germany, and I really looked hard. 

The other thing we had to be really careful of was trying to be too current with the slang. The readership has a really wide range in age, and dialog that is too set in a particular time gets dated and looks sill in just a few years. The slang has to be something that has passed into the general lexicon of speech. My rule of thumb is whether or not the Hubs uses the slang. He is so square, he's a cube (that's his description of himself). If he uses it, the term has been around for some time and is likely to stay in use. Overall, the team is aiming at a loose, informal way for the characters to speak that reads as natural to anyone that may pick up the book. I'll talk about the joys of sound FX translation and proof reading on another day. This is just a taste to show that our work is challenging but above board despite the occasional banning. It's also cool to work with some really interesting people that I wouldn't have known otherwise. We all enjoy sharing creative energy and solving each new and often amusing puzzle.


I do apologize for being such a tease about what's going on in the background. I don't mean to be. I'm torn between wanting to convey a reason for my very upbeat demeanor and just keeping mum until I can spill the beans. I can say that the schedule for these projects is holding firm, so that they day for announcements is coming as promised. Also, I have been taking notes, so I will have detailed blogs about every aspect of the mayhem that is coming.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Waiting Game and Simple Pleasures

It was approximately two years ago that I spent nearly 21 hours tangling with the ER at LA County USC Hospital or, as it is really known, General Hospital. I still recall that grueling day and night and day again. I still really hate anything airing on the CW network. I still lament not having THS TV. It's a free premium channel that shows some epically bad action films from the 70s. The film that Craig is ranting about over the phone on any given day typically is airing on that channel. Alas, it is on every cable and satellite provider but mine. Most of all, I remain amazed at how many people that facility treats on any given day and how good that care can be. In my case, it was excellent. The only problem is one that is unavoidable. There is a lot of waiting involved in being seen at General Hospital. To quote the always profanely elegant Nadia G of the Cooking channel's Bitchin' Kitchen, 'when you're a broke-ass, you wait in a lot of lines.' Now, I must amend that a little. The wait times at the ER are considerably shorter than that 21 hours. After my visit, there was a big news expose about that. The county cracked down and the time got way shorter on average. My last trip to that ER ha me in and out in four hours! Thankfully, I haven't had to visit an ER in well over a year.

Waiting Game

This week, I had a two part wait. The first part was at the oncology clinic. Then, I had to wait around an hour and a half before going to wait at the primary care clinic. In between the clinics, I had to climb up then down then up these stairs to the left. There is another set of stairs beyond those to reach the building where my clinics are. It was a grueling experience to put it mildly. The Popeye's Fried Chicken  helped a little – but not very much. The time that I have waiting in the clinic or inching along the 10 west freeway to and from the hospital has been an opportunity to read. I don't think I've read this many books since Grad School. I've read most of Anthony Bourdain's bibliography, including his delightful fiction and an amazing book on Typhoid Mary. I've read all sorts of food fiction and non-fiction. I've also read enough literature, literary history and lit criticism to teach a course (though I really don't want to). I've tried to study Japanese, but that requires a book, a notebook and far too much room than I have on the express bus or the clinic waiting room. Reading is also less stressful while I'm waiting.

Simple Pleasures

The current book I'm obsessed with is The Table Comes First by Adam Gopnik. It is a history of the restaurant and the cookbook as well as the history of the kitchen table primarily in French culture. This all sounds like the height of food nerdom, but Gopnik's gift as a writer is to make any topic very personal and accessible. His writing is always amusing and engaging. He wrote one of my favorite books ever, Paris to the Moon. It was a touching memoir about how he came to be a columnist in France and what his life was like there. But it was about so much more than that as this book is about so much more than food. Though Gopnik proclaims that this book is not a cookbook, his incredibly sensual descriptions of preparing and eating food have caused me to make a couple of the meals he detailed. One description involves a revolution in the way I make scrambled eggs. Yes, scrambled eggs. Gopnik is correct when he says that simple cooking is never really simple. He has made me look at myself as a cook in a new way that's rather exciting. Beyond that, I'm enthralled with his wonderfully elegant way of connecting with the reader. It made the waiting almost joyful! Of course, I recommend it and Paris to the Moon as highly as possible.

Fits and Starts

This week was a throwback to earlier days in my illness. I'm not ill, mid you. But my physical challenges were more pronounced last week. I can say that the acupuncture is having a positive impact on the pain. And I am getting more and more miles in with each walk. The throwback was the fatigue. I went from being able to write or edit until right before going to sleep near midnight to being unable to focus on anything but rudimentary TV shows after dinner around six pm. There were a couple of days when I didn't do anything at all. I think I'd having a period of adjustment to new meds. Strangely, I did manage to accomplish many things on my list. The editing proceeded in a timely fashion. I uploaded corrected versions of two titles. And I uploaded a new video in my Yaoi cooking webseries, Cook Like a Uke. Any one interested in learning about an almost basic Japanese breakfast (almost because I substituted sausage patties cut into cute shapes for natto beans and grilled horse mackerel. The reasons for this and for the technical glitches make for a comedic blog. You can find that and a link to the video HERE.

I cover all that I'm allowed to publicly talk about in the paragraph above. More news is hopefully coming soon as I am bursting with surprises.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Plans, Pin Cushions, Publishing and Updates

I'm not sure where last week went. It got gobbled up though I can't seem to remember how. It was all a blur. There was a lot that I wanted to get done as I recall. Only some of it was accomplished. My reach exceeded my grasp on a few of those goals. Trying to edit and post three videos in a weeks was not realistic, especially when I had to do re-shoots on one of them. I've been doing cooking videos as exercises to learn how to light a set, shoot, edit and do minor post production FX. Now, an exercise is sort of boring to produce and even more boring to watch. I had to make it interesting for me to make. And to attract views, I tied it to an aspect of anime I found interesting – food. The food that appears in anime and manga are accurate depictions of Japanese dishes. Since my characters are food obsessed, I decided to do videos themed around dishes that appear either in my favorite anime or are cooked by my characters. You can check out the videos on DraggonTV's youtubechannel.

Middling to Poorly Laid Plans

Last week, I was to post my long overdue video on the perfect breakfast to the typical crazy male leads I follow or write. However, I also wanted to do a video response to one that Ochikeron, one of my favorite youtube chefs, put up just before the Super Bowl. She did Kara Age fried chicken, a nugget style chicken that is marinated in garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sake before deep frying. I have an oven fired Buffalo chicken that I liked to make for the Super Bowl and other occasions. I figured that my recipe would taste even better by first marinating it in soy sauce, sake, ginger and garlic. So I did a video of my KaraAge Buffalo Wings. Of course, it took longer than I planed, and involved re-shooting that I hadn't planned. By the end of the week, I had no energy to finish the video I had originally planned to upload. Hopefully, I'll get that done tomorrow.

The other monkey wrench in my plans was a complication in editing the current manga I'm working on. Bousou Kareshi or Wild Boyfriend is jammed packed with action. The panels on the pages are jam packed with dialog bubbles, caption boxes, FX sounds and character asides. On top of translating the Japanese and smoothing out the translation in editing, we had to figure out how to label every element so the letterer knows where to put everything. All three of us had to re-do the first 50 pages on the script while moving forward with new pages. That really through my schedule off as far as creative output, because the work was so slow going. We managed to develop and efficient by the end of the week. I'm all caught up on that. I'm way behind on everything else. The delay was worth the trouble, I believe. I learned a lot in going over those pages. For those waiting for book related corrections, I'll get to those this week, for sure!

Pins and Needles

Now that I have been declared cancer free in the latest round of tests [YAY!!!], it was time to really address the body I have post treatment. The yoga and walking have kept me mobile, but it didn't help with the pain caused by the damage chemo left me with. Every manner of medication comes with side effects that are way scarier than the pain. I decided to try acupuncture. A friend of mine had starting having treatments to manage her arthritis pain. There is a very reasonably priced and highly praised clinic nearby, so I thought I would give it a shot. I don't think I've ever met a group of mellower or softly spoken people. It was fascinating. The first treatment only involved my knees and some points to help me relax and sleep. I have to say that my knees to feel markedly better, and I have been sleeping a full eight hours a night since the treatment. I haven't slept like that in well over a year. I can't wait to see what happens when they treat my chronically painful back. I'm far more optimistic about the new normal of my body than I was even a few weeks ago.


The countdown continues to the launch of our projects and leeway to talk about them. So far, the dates are holding firm. We haven't gotten carried away with excitement yet, but I must confess to making all sorts of preliminary lists for when I do. Meanwhile, the fancy dancing of adaptation continues. We've had a few missteps which is to be expected, but the work continues at a reasonably good pace. There is also a pitch in the works of a project that is closest to our hearts. That is coming up in a week or two. Good thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

I'm a Published Editor!

As reported in recent blogs, I've been working for the Digital Manga Guild as an editor. Well, here is the first tile I've edited. It's called Again Tomorrow. Here's the synopsis [Warning!! This is some serious yaoi]:

Shunya’s office is buzzing with wild rumors. Vice President Yuusei Saotome, son of the President and heir to the company, is missing! Most believe he ran off to escape an arranged marriage that would benefit his father’s company. Only Shunya knows that the VP has amnesia and is staying with him in his apartment. The Yuu that Shunya knows is not the coldly handsome VP who barely noticed his underlings. This Yuu is easygoing and likes to cook for Shunya. Yuu even seems to want Shunya in his arms as much as Shunya wants to be there. For a while, Shunya lives in a dream with Yuu. But doubts nag at his conscience. What if Yuu has another love who is searching for him? What will happen when his memory returns? Would Shunya be forgotten or hated by Yuu?
Translated by Vincent Ho; Edited by D.L. Warner; Lettered by Hentai Tenshi

You can buy it on Amazon Kindle at  http://amzn.com/B007FN03L6
On Barnes and Noble Nook at:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/again-tomorrow-nabako-kamo/1109212837
And On EManga at: http://www.emanga.com/books/Again_Tomorrow

Read my spoiler free blog about it! Go to:  http://www.sybpressyaoi.com/2012/02/secret-side-of-seme.html

For all the rest, stay tuned!