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Sunday, May 26, 2013

"Parasite Girls" -- A Small Taste...

Well, here we are...approaching Memorial Day Weekend, and I come face to face with numerous matters.

Regular readers of my blog will note I don't blog very much anymore. Back in the day of Myspace (soooo 2006, right?) I used to do it fairly often. Right now, I don't have the time to speak of. 

I have to admire regular bloggers, like my old college friend Joanne (Tahoma Beadworks & Photography), who can do so fairly often. How Amanda Palmer has time to do voluminous blogs on her site, with her touring, music, this and that. She must not sleep.

Sylvia Plath's journals, especially those of her high school/college years are incredibly descriptive. Her ability to recall subtle details and put them in at the end of the day was remarkable. 

But we're here to talk about "Parasite Girls." My first book is ready to go; we'll be putting it out to the e-Reader market this summer, and I am hopeful that this is a good enough story, touches on enough issues that need to be done, and make for a beginning.

I have a lot more in the can, believe you me. Recently my agent and I parted ways after a four-year relationship. Just didn't work out. Add to it, the six-volume "Sweet Dreams Series," a young adult/anime/time travel series is too big a step for a first-time author. It needs more work, and I need to show the world what I am capable of before bringing it out.

Anyway...here is the beginning...while this may not be word for word, here's the proof of Chapter 1 of "Parasite Girls." It's short, hopefully to the point and gives enough of an idea to make you want to keep going.

Do let me know what you think...


Chapter 1    Mimas World

     “So you need to tell me,” Mima said, “just why you’re here.”
     Aidan lit a Gitanes and leaned against the apartment deck rail. The sounds and smells of Tokyo drifted up to the second floor, but he did not take them in. Instead, he smiled and gazed through the French tobacco smoke at his host.
     Mima regarded Aidan through the bangs of her short hair and rimless glasses. She wore an old sweatshirt, the cuffs frayed from years of wear and washing; the logo was not of a university from Japan, but an American one. Black tights wrapped themselves snugly about her muscular thighs and calves; Mima’s girth was wider than the norm when it came to Japanese women. That mattered not at all to Aidan and even less to Mima, who danced to the beat of her own internal drum machine.
     “Well,” Aidan replied as he carefully flicked the cinders into a smokeless ashtray, “I have a layout in mind for the book as we discussed earlier. I also felt a change of pace was in order.” He hoped that would be enough. 
     “Whatever you have in mind,” Mima replied as she took a step closer to Aidan, a smile on her face, “you’re welcome here for as long you need. I am so grateful to see you again.”
     “I appreciate that.” Mima, he knew was appraising him behind her sun-darkened lenses. They’d not seen one another in years, and his long-lost friend was taking stock: Aidan’s brown hair remained, but there were now streaks of grey, far too soon. His blue eyes were the same, but Mima detected the changes around them. Aidan was not himself, and while Mima picked up on that, she didn’t ask.
     Mima had changed too, but in her these things were subtle. Only months younger than himself, Mima appeared ageless. She was a little heavier, chunkier perhaps than Aidan recalled, but from what he saw pass through the apartment earlier that morning Mima was in shape in more ways than one.
      “Anyway,” she said, “I must get back to work. Got a project to deliver this week.”
      “No worries.” Mima ambled barefoot into the main room of her apartment while Aidan took his time with his guilty pleasure from the first Paris assignment. Skyward, Aidan’s eyes passed over the high rises that surrounded Mima’s apartment building.
      Aidan had experienced many worlds, but Japan was still unfamiliar territory. As in any other foreign land, he would immerse himself in it, become part of it and yet remain Aidan Connor.
      His cigarette finished, Aidan carefully stubbed it out and slid the butt inside the blue pack. He stuffed this in the breast pocket of his shirt, switched off the curious device Mima provided him and brought it through the sliding door.
      “You can leave that out there,” Mima commented from his right. “The rain never comes in; it’s cool.”
      “Okay.” Aidan set the ashtray on the black wire table between the matching chairs, and slid the door closed. He turned and again found himself inside Mima’s world—or was this her universe?
      The apartment was small, even by Tokyo standards. It was one room with a cramped kitchen to the far left, plus a door that led to a tinier bathroom. Against the far wall, just to the right of the door was Mima’s futon, unmade with a nightstand next to it to hold her lamp and clock radio. Before this, a TV rested beside an Xbox with about twenty game discs scattered around the console.             
      There were also other odd gadgets of the kind that could only be dreamed up in this land, including a robotic toy dog. The floor was bare, hardwood and without rugs.
      On the other side of the door was Mima’s workspace. Beneath an overhead light was a large table that doubled as a desk and drafting board. Mima’s Gateway and Toshiba Satellite laptop were linked by a USB hub; also attached was a laser printer, scanner, router and two external hard drives. The power cords for all of these snaked off behind the table into not one, but two surge protection strips, the plugs attached to the only power outlets on this side of the room. Two file cabinets and a wall-mounted rack for discs made up the rest of Mima’s “office.” Mima was hunched over on the high stool, focused on the ad design she’d talked of nonstop since meeting Aidan at the airport the night before.
      To Aidan’s left was the low couch that became his “guest room,” beside which lay his open suitcase. His Sony Walkman, jean jacket and the case that held his ancient Minolta camera rested atop the jumbled pile of clothes.
      Aidan sat here now, looking at the wall above the bed. Mima adorned the pale blue walls with her original artworks, sketches, doujinshi and anime creations.  There also was a pair of wildly colored abstract canvases, not of Mima’s hand.
      “Those are Sora’s,” Mima commented. She did not look up as she guided the cursor across the screen.  “We’ll be seeing her tonight,” Mima added. “Sora is very excited to meet you; I’ve told her so much about you.”
      “Oh, God,” Aidan joked as he unclipped the battered leather case that held his camera, “just what have you told her?”
      “Only the good things.” Mima turned and giggled; this and the screwed-up facial expression that accompanied the sound never failed to make Aidan laugh. “There is nothing bad about you, Aidan,” she went on as she turned back to the screen, “but considering some of the scrapes you’ve been in, I would imagine you’ve acquired a few habits.”
      “Yeah.” Aidan tried not to let his voice change, but he failed.
      Mima turned again. “You okay?” 
      “There’s a lot of stuff to talk about,” Aidan admitted as he drew out the Minolta, “but I still need to piece it together before I can really explain.” 
      “No,” Mima said, “I am sorry. I get the idea what happened in Kabul was pretty rough. You don’t have to talk about it unless you want to.”
      “It’s all right,” Aidan replied, “I will soon enough. The main reason I’m here I think is to get away from that. Not run from it, mind, but to think about from it from a distance. Then maybe I can go back, you know?”
      “I do.” Mima slid off the stool and came over to sit beside Aidan. She watched as he broke down the camera for cleaning, and noted the care with which he handled the instrument. “Like I told you,” she said, “you’re welcome here, Aidan. You were dear to me back then; you still are.”
      Aidan set the pieces down in his clothes. “You were,” he replied, “and are too, Mima. Stuff has to change, and some of it is me; I’m working on it.”
      Mima slid her arms around Aidan’s shoulders. “Take all the time you need, Aidan.”
      He reached up and felt his friend’s thick arm, and the hidden strength within as Mima gave him a squeeze. “Thank you,” Aidan said. “I’ll try not to be too depressed during my stay; you’re good for changing that.”           
      Mima grinned, made an odd but cute, “Nyah” sound before rising and heading back to her table. “I am flattered,” she replied as she resumed her work. “Unfortunately, that does not get this finished. I’d like to see the outline down before we hit the streets.  We’ll go see Sora this evening and find if we can get her out. That cool?”
      “It is.” Aidan drew out the camera’s cleaning kit. “I’m not exactly sure what you mean by getting Sora ‘out,’ though.”
      “That will depend,” Mima explained, “on which one of Sora is available when we get there.” She continued to sketch across the extra-large mouse pad with a slow, deliberate hand, and said no more.
      The statement made Aidan pause. Mima’s comment about Sora was a fleeting one and sounded like she said it fairly often.
      As he carefully wiped the Minolta’s lens, Aidan wondered what was up with Sora. She was a talented artist, easy to see by the depth and originality of those paintings. 
      Aidan then reminded himself that when it came to people, everyone had a story, and there was always much more than what they thought they saw.

###

Well, there you have it...hope you liked it...the rest is coming this summer...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

"Parasite Girls," Updates, and "The Drifters" Prologue

Well, it has been a while since I have blogged, and there's much to bring you up date on.  So, the short part first:

My upcoming debut, "Parasite Girls" is finished.  It will soon become an eBook, and available through Amazon.com for eReaders such as Kindle and others.  I will also put it into the KDP Select program, which will let readers borrow the book.

Tomorrow my intrepid friend Alice will introduce me to a fellow in Harrisburg who may become my cover designer.  We need a good one, and I like what I have seen.

Legal matters, such as the "Doing Business As" or dba are being put in place, and I have a few other similar bits to deal with.  But it's coming together, and I hope before summer you will have my first in your hands.

--

Followers of me on Facebook, Google+ and other areas will know that I embarked on yet another manuscript, which I finished yesterday.  "The Drifters" is one of a long line of YA-type stories with my own twists.  There is kind of a theme with my stories of this genre but I think they're interesting and entertaining.  

Bear in mind, the first draft with me always is bad.  Holes in the plot to fix, character stuff to firm up, and it is a long process with me.  No one despite what they may say ever gets it right the first time.  

In the meantime, along with my hours and hours devoted to hammering away on my laptop, I do have other things to do.  I hope to have other news from the more mundane world one day, but in any case, this is how things go, and we have to roll with that.

--

As much as I love what I do, making a living is not a practical consideration, at least not yet.  Some of us are finding themselves at a crossroads at mid-life or a little bit past it.

I'm 47.  I'm not old, and I certainly no longer feel it.  I've made a point of trying to, not so much remain young, but to maintain some kind of youth in myself, even if I by the number would be considered a boring old fart.  Well, I'll never be that.

It's life, and I do my best to remain optimistic, though it can be hard.  Anyone around me knows that.

So, I'm slowly moving forward in the ways I need to, and we'll see what goes next.  That's it.

--

NOW...would you like to read the Prologue to "The Drifters?"  Bear in mind please, this bit might not even be in the book, and it will be some time before this gets out.  

The opening is narrated by the main character, and we will see much of the story through her eyes and her own recollections.  It's a strange one, to be sure...

Enjoy!

--


Prologue—All Hands on Deck
            Zhac popped his head through the hatch of the Southern Cross and shouted, “It is on, mes amies!”
            We looked up from our work on deck.  Zhac’s unshaven face, his blue eyes alight with unaccustomed excitement flew up the steps, past the wheel and onto the stern.
            I’m in the middle of stitching a sail, which lies over the boat like a disemboweled accordion.  Next to me are my sister Kiku and her BFF Mari-chan; they’re folding and straightening the seams.  Our brother Kenta is forward, testing the foresail with Ariel. 
            “What’s on?” I ask, though I already know from the scratchy marine radio that blasts from below decks.
            “The prevailing winds,” Zhac announced to us, and anyone in earshot on the other boats, “are shifting.  By Sunday, we shall have favorable conditions.  We sail that day, and without fail!”
            Today is Thursday.  As I look across the deck of the Southern Cross, there’s no way in hell we’re gonna be ready for that.  “Zhac,” I politely inform him, “we’ve still got a lot to do.  How are we gonna get this sail fixed, and everything stowed before then?”
            The enormous sail covers boxes of provisions and supplies and tools, all of which has to be put away before we can even think of casting off.  My logic is correct, but I’ve known Zhac long enough to know what he views as practical is different from mine.
            “Oh, we can make it work, Nee-chan,” Kiku chirps as she jumps to her feet, her pigtails flopping about.
            “Yes,” Mari-chan chimes in, “I’m excited we finally have a date.”
            I sigh but on the inside.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my little sister and Mari-chan to death, but they are kids.  If you could see them, you’d understand.
            Kiku is your stereotypical Japanese girl, hands down.  She and Mari-chan are in their last year of junior high.  They’ve both got the cute thing going, the long black hair, all that.  They bounce over to Zhac in their summer gear, and want to know more.
            You’d think both girls were sisters, they’re that close in look and build.  The only difference is that Mari-chan is Korean.  Mariko is her given name, but everyone calls her by the familiar; she’s one of us.
            Our big brother Kenta comes aft.  He’s a year older than me.  Kenta doesn’t walk so much as glide; he picks his way across the deck in a practiced manner.  
            He is a good looker; a lot kids remark how much Kenta looks like guys in anime shows.  I can see it; he wears his hair a little long in back, and it floats about his face.  “What’s the plan, O Captain?” He calls.
            Ariel follows in his wake.  Now, I have to explain Ariel to you.  She is tall for a woman and has a body I have never seen on another in my life.  Ariel’s is a muscular frame, with just enough curve in the right places; her breasts are the perfect size…well, all of her is just perfect.
            As usual when on the boat, Ariel is wearing next to nothing, a colorful bikini with some kind of mini-sarong.  It’s not to show off; Ariel is the kind of woman who can make anything look good.  That’s the first thing you notice, and it takes attention from real mystery of her.
            Ariel’s voice is neutral.  It’s not feminine or masculine; her skin always has a tan.  Her features are western, with high cheekbones and a sculpted face.  She never wears makeup, either.
            She is Zhac’s partner on the Southern Cross.  They live on the boat, and have co-existed for several years if the stories Zhac tells are true.
            A face pokes out from the shadows of the cabin, a multi-colored knit cap followed by a thick pair of glasses, bangs of black hair that fall within the frames and without, plus that pale, unassuming face.  It’s Yoko, the last member of our club.  Her t-shirt is knotted at the hip and reveals a pair of ultra-tight cutoffs and skinny legs.  Yoko’s in my class in high school, and my right hand.
            We gather on the stern, and Zhac fills us in on the weather situation.  It’s mostly meteorological stuff I don’t understand, but everyone is excited, except Ariel and me.  Ariel doesn’t get excited about anything.
            Zhac details what needs to be done if we’re to make sailing time Sunday.  We only have a few weeks in the summer break, and if we’re going to do this we’ve got to get moving.  I appear to be the only one thinking of that. 
            “Let’s get to it,” I say.  When I speak, people listen, but I wonder if it’s grudgingly.  I am the type that gets things done, and properly.  What’s the point if not?
            Zhac now sits with us and pulls on the sailmaker’s gloves I was using before.  They’re like heavy gauntlets, and you need them to protect your hands.  Running big needles through canvas is not like stitching a dress; it’s hard work.  I will say this about Zhac; he doesn’t just give orders.  He’s a pro, and never asks us to do anything he would not do himself.
            I sit again with Kiku and Mari-chan, and we listen to Zhac as he goes on about the stitching and the lines we’ll need.  Kenta and Ariel lower the foresail and secure it, then go about to ensure the lines that hold us to the dock are taut.  Yoko disappears into the cabin, tasked with creating space and getting supplies stored.  She has the mind for it.
            The Southern Cross is Zhac’s sailboat, but it’s an odd one.  Technically a ketch, she boasts twin junk sails, like the Chinese vessels.  The boat is not impressive at first glance, but it’s easy to sail and handle.  That’s important, Zhac says, because conditions on the ocean can change in a snap.
            Zhac and Ariel have lived here in Tosa Harbor for some time.  They don’t work, apart from giving sailing lessons to the occasional tourist.  Kenta was in the Sailing Club last year, and Zhac offered our school the use of his boat (for a fee, of course).  Zhac has become quite the character in our village, even among the native fishermen and sailors of this part of Kochi. 
            Zhac is Canadian, but he and Ariel are both fluent in Japanese.  I don’t know how old Zhac is, but I guess in his thirties.  His brown hair is curly and scraggly, his face bears a perpetual two-day growth of beard, and his clothes are all worn and secondhand.  He always wears an old sailor’s coat even in warm weather, and a cap with some nautical symbol on it.  You’ll also find him in the company of his guitar.  Zhac’s a decent singer and does mostly Canadian songs, nearly all of which we’ve never heard of.
            His father and grandfather were sailors like him.  The stories (or “yarns”) he regales people with are entertaining, but you wonder how much of those are true.  Doesn’t matter; Zhac is a good guy, and someone we trust.
            That’s a hard thing for me; oh, and who am I?  My name is Kahori Aizawa; I’m 16 and in my second year at Manjiro High School.  Those I have described are my family and friends.  We are those who make up the club, which I am president of.  This is how it all started, as far as any of us can remember.
            We are the Drifters.  This is our story.
--

Well, there you have it...let me know what you think!