Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ninja Proof!

Inspired by Carrie as well as my fast draft of my WIP where my MC travels by the Immortal's secret channels to Japan, I've decided to do a post on Nijo Castle in Kyoto, Japan.

Last year, my family and I went to visit my sister in Tokyo as well as took a jaunt down to Kyoto. Here's a little history and fun stuff we learned along the way.
Nijo Castle stands strong and proud. Built in 1602 to protect the Shogun of Kyoto, Japan, it portrays power and beauty. Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, took great care to ensure that not even a Ninja could get inside.

How did he do this?
1. Two moats the length of a semi truck

2. An outer and inner wall with turrets designed to barrage an incoming attack with arrows

3. The nightingale warning system built within the floors of the Hanmarn Palace. This ancient day alarm system was designed to creak and squeak like a cooing bird as you walk.

4. If the ninja’s feet are softer than a feather, he might reach the First Grand Room. But behind tasseled doors lies ninjas in the service to the Shogun who can leap out at a moment's notice.

Nijo Castle was never attacked or penetrated.
Now we know why!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Lunar New Year!

Think rice cakes, family time and traditional hanboks. Yesterday and today we had the day off from work because its the New Year Holiday here in Korea!

Korean families have been busy cooking and making preparations for a big feast of meats, cakes, fruit, side dishes, fish and spicy kimchi. After all the shopping and cooking, it will be time to travel to their family hometowns.

Everyone dresses up in their hanboks (traditional Korean clothing) and eats a huge feast. But before the feast, the family will perform the charye, which is the ancestral rite of remembering and honoring the ancestors by giving them food. They will also perform the sabae, the bowing ceremony.

But unlike the Koreans, we've been eating out, relaxing and just enjoying the emptiness of Seoul since most everyone has left the city to the countryside. We did all get the flu on Sunday night and that wasn't too fun. So since we missed a day of vacation in bed, does that mean we don't have to go to work tomorrow?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Hwarang Warriors of Ancient Korea

In honor of my historical middle grade novel, tentatively named Chosen Warrior, I'm posting some pictures of my recent visit to the War Museum in Seoul.

I wanted to do some research on the dress of the Hwarang warriors as well as view the famous turtle ship.
A little history about the Hwarang. The Hwarang warriors use the ancient martial art of Tae Kwon. This originated nearly 2,000 years ago in Korea. It wasn’t until the United Shilla Dynasty (660-935 A.D.) that it grew popular.

When the Japanese invaded Korea, a group of warriors called the Hwarang, defended their people. They fought using subak, now known as Taekwondo. Chosen students were taught this art in the secret. The Koreans didn’t want their enemies to learn these special skills.

Later, the Hwarang warriors became famous for their flying kick that could knock men off horses. These great warriors inspired the Japanese to create the Samurai Warriors.

So at the War Museum I was having way too much fun and my husband had to drag me out. Of course that was after he took all these pictures for me while I scribbled furiously in my notebook. I really can't complain!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated by Brenda for the “Kreativ Blogger Award.” Wow! I'm excited. But more than that, I'm new to this whole blogging thing and I'm loving it! It’s fun getting to know people through blogger and sharing all the good parts of life together. Thanks Brenda!

So, for this award, I need to think of 7 things that I love. Not in any particular order!

1. Chocolate- obviously. My blog isn’t named for ‘Chocolate for Inspiration’ without a reason. But dark is my poison.
2. My boys- I love, love, love my boys

3. My husband- always my helper, a great kisser, and for his yummy grilled salmon

4. My sister-my muse and who's there for me no matter what. Hugs!

5. My mom and dad- for their wisdom and love. They are on the other side of the world right now and that’s not too great sometimes.

6. My brother- who understand me

7. Traveling- What a world we live in! Some many beautiful places and people that God created.

Now I'm supposed to pass the love to other bloggers who deserve this award too:
Kim, Stephanie, all my fast drafter chicks at Author 2 Author, Jen, Ellen, Carrie

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Presenting Lenore is having a contest!

Presenting Lenore is having a fabulous contest! Get 8 YA books after you've posted where you find your recommended books to read. Check it out here.

The Korean Fan Dance

The Korean Fan Dance is my favorite of all their dances. It’s not only beautiful in its steps but it creates the gorgeous scenes within nature that can be seen in Korea. This dance originated in the Chosen Period, about 600 years ago.

These are pictures I took when a Korean middle school group came to dance for our students. This school is special in that all the kids who go there have a focus in art.

Can you figure out which scenes these girls are creating?

Monday, January 12, 2009

My WIP Needs a Name

So my paranormal romance needs a title. I'm not ready to spill the beans on the plot yet, although I'm totally psyched over it, I've been brainstorming ideas.

But the problem is I'm terrible at coming up with good titles. Then I went on NaNoWriMo and they had a link for Title-o-Matic that generates random titles for you. I got a kick out of it, but no title yet.

Some halarious titles it picked for me:
  • Requiem Coughing
  • Sepia Languid
  • Gold-Flake Blurple
  • White Sea Pearl
  • Star Tomato
Maybe you'd like to play too? Click here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Winter Wonderland in Downtown Seoul

This weekend we finally made it to see the lights of downtown Seoul. We strolled along the river that has been recently restored while listening to Korean singers along the way. It was a cold, chilly night but the colors and excitement in the air made it all worth while.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wanted: Surival Tips for the Obsessive Writer

Fast drafting has left me little time to do anything but write like a madwoman. I'm so into this novel, I forget about everything else.

My son was asking for pants to wear, my husband has been scrounging the refrigerator for food, and the cat stares bleakly at her empty food bowl (thank goodness I don't have a cat that meows incessantly). Oh! And I almost forgot. I'm supposed to actually go to work because I have a job!
(FYI, don't visit without a giving me enough time to stash the dirty dishes in the bathtub and toss the piles of toys under the beds.)

I've been thinking of ways to make my life easier and ideas to give me more time to appease this writing obsession.

My list so far:
1. TV- instant babysitting but also guilt
2. Fast food- except its too difficult to get here in Korea
3. No sleep, chocolate and extra doses of caffeine- effective so far
4. Pretending laundry is a fun game and cross my fingers my three year old thinks so too
5. Yeah, that's about it.

Love to hear your ideas of survival tips for the writing maniac!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Inner Conflict- Tear Up Your Characters

One focus in my current WIP is creating inner conflict in my characters. I decided to pull out some of my favorite novels to see what those characters had to go through.

Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer- Bella is in love with both Jake and Edward. She cannot love both, Werewolves and Vampires aren’t exactly buddies. She must choose.
Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Gemma wants to bring the magic into her world but she knows she can’t control it.
Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier. Reason must either except the magic within herself which her mother has taught her is evil or go insane.
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr- Aislinn is madly in love with Seth but she is destined to become the fairey queen.
Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle- Percy is torn. She thinks she’s put a love spell on the guy she’s madly in love with. Should she accept his love even if it’s not real or push him away?

It’s the PULL. In all these novels, the MC is pulled in two directions, both possible, but both with inner conflict. I’m trying to build this inner conflict in my characters and I’ve been pleased with the results so far.

In Donald Maas’s book Writing the Breakout Novel, he asks these questions: (Paraphrased)
1. What does your character want more than anything?
2. What is the exact opposite of that?
3. How can you blend these to make your MC desire both?

Tear your characters up. Send them through an internal roller coaster. Put them through inner pain as well as external. After all, no pain, no gain.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Fast Drafting in 2009!

2009 is here and I’m jumping right into one of my goals—finish a YA novel. I hooked up with a fabulous and motivated group where we email each other our daily numbers. Having a core group to bounce ideas off of and encourage each other makes the process slightly less painful. At least you know that there are others as crazy as you out there.

For my last book I made a sketch of an outline, which kept me focused and helped on those days where I wanted to just stare at my computer.

But for this novel, I went a step further. First I used this template to keep my story focused. I also took each character and created a web for them with all their favorites, needs, desires, motivations, and such. Jenny Myers has a fantastic character questionnaire that I used too, which got me asking some tricky questions.

Finally, I read Donald Maass How to Write a Breakout Novel, which by the way is excellent. Everything he had to say was spot on but what I liked best about his book were the examples he gave. It brought the concepts he wrote about to life. I also got the workbook that goes along with the book and I’ve been using that as well.

So, with all these tools, I’m ready to start writing! Better head back to my novel and start FAST DRAFTING!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Success in 2009!

It’s that time again. Time to make New Year Goals. I went back and looked at my goals that I made last year and interestingly enough, I achieved nearly everything on the list except for two. When I showed the list to my husband, he pointed out that the two that I didn’t achieve were out of my hands. They weren’t my decision to be made but someone else’s.

He’s right! Goals made should be within our own power to make them happen. My critique partner, Beth Revis, talks about this on her blog too.

So this year, I’ve made my goals to be achievable only by me.

Here they are!
1. Finish revisions of my MG and tween novels.
2. Write and revise a YA novel.
3. Take a writing class.
4. Submit magazine articles from my travels to the Carus group and Highlights.
5. Blog and contribute to the writing community.
6. Read, read, read