Character Names in a Book I Can’t Pronounce

 

WednesdayBloggingChallenge-copyI have a confession… I can’t stand not being able to pronounce a character name in a book, so I immediately look it up. Yay social media! 

As a learn more about writing on my own, I have discovered how difficult it can be to name characters. Even if I have a name in your head, often I will change it by the time I draft chapter three or so because I have too many characters with similar names (Amy, Amanda, Amelia) or it is too cumbersome or too common. Or I already used a similar one in another story. And I think some names get overused. I remember long, long ago when I worked for a review blog there was a spate of books with heroes named Liam. There have got to be other choices for an Irish character.  As an aside, there are too many Hollywood Chris’. The limit has been reached.

 If you’re doing SFR, it’s tough to come up with alien names that sound ‘alien’ but aren’t too distracting. I used to get annoyed with too many alien character with names like Zar, but then I tried to  write an SFR and realized how incredibly difficult that is. Writers have a tough job. 

I remember reading a book, again awhile ago, and it was about hero names in romance. This was before indie publishing took off so the ‘rules’ are rather restrictive on what traditional publishers wanted. One rule was that you couldn’t have a hero with a Russian name because those didn’t sell. (There are tons of Russian heroes now, but apparently that was a thing.) And if the character was Latina it was almost always Maria.  Asian characters in romances were rare, mostly supporting characters stuck to a handful of  (Chang, Patel, Sato ) here or there. Southeast Asian names were non-existent.  

You also weren’t supposed to have names that were too ethnic. If you were writing African American romances you had to make sure the names were more ‘neutral’, but not too ethnic like ‘Tameka’ or Keisha’. I had a problem with that. I still do. As a young woman, I read Harlequin’s now defunct line geared to African American romances (there was a teen one also) and I liked having characters that looked like me and people I knew. So it grated that certain names were considered ‘bad’ by publishers as if a person’s name automatically makes them less worthy to be a hero or heroine in a romance. 

This post went off the rails. Oh well. 

A Project or Hobby of mine that was inspired by a book

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Wow. This is a challenging one, because usually I seek books about my hobbies. And I’m interested in just about anything. I’ll go through phases of reading. Once year, it was all books about Mathematics and Mathematicians. It did not encourage to me to do more math, but it was interesting to read about. Books don’t necessarily inspire hobbies, but they do inspire obsessions.

When I was young, I loved the Harriet the Spy books, so I did try to copy her. I stayed with my grandmother every summer for about a week in a very small slow paced town in NC. I was bored. Sitting around in the summer heat in NC, with no air-conditioner just rickety fans blowing hot air around. Not much in the way of TV. No cable, three stations with reception, and we had to be sit there and be quiet in the afternoons while my grandmother watched The Guiding Light and The Young and the Restless.  For some reason, I got it in my head that I could spy on people like Harriet so I made journals  of the neighbors coming and goings, and came up with elaborate plots about who they ‘really’ were and what they were involved in. I didn’t discover any great secrets.

There was a whole series of books called Ghosts of North Carolina, if I remember correctly. They probably aren’t around anymore. Anyway, each book had a list of locations in NC that were said to be haunted complete with ‘real’ photos of ghosts. So, on another slow summer with my grandmother I decided I’d be a paranormal investigator. Nothing much happened except scaring the crap out of my younger sister. 

I do love Bill Bryson’s books. He’s a travel writer, and it does influence my love of travel. His books are funny but really packed with information. A Walk in the Woods about walking the Appalachian Trail is wonderful. And he has another book, Notes from a Small Island, that really makes me want to go to Australia one of these days.

I’m also blogging at Coffee Time Romance today, celebrating my series and upcoming release. So if you have a moment, come by and drop a comment about your favorite alien species.

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The Last Place I Traveled to and Why

WednesdayBloggingChallenge-copyLike most people, my travel has been limited. I haven’t been out of my prefecture (province or state) since January. The good things is, I’ve been able to visit some of the local spots and now that there are restricted openings, I decided to enjoy a few places. One of the best was Sunpu Castle, which was the seat of power of Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the most powerful shogun in Japan’s history. The castle was first built in 1585 and he resided there with his favorite consort and his sons until he died in 1616. (From records kept by his attendants its theorized he died from cancer) The castle is a reconstruction, only a parts of the moat and gates were left, but it has a museum and a beautifully designed tea garden based on ideas of the period. 

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More locally, I visit a park which has a restored tea garden and tea house. The tea house is not open for guests now, because of Covid, but the ponds are open. There are volunteers who come to keep things clean and someone to take care of the fish. Koi are expensive fish and require lots of care.

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My go-to book or movie for a pick-me-up

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Everyone needs a pick-me-up. Sometimes, I want something complicated and other times I just want escapist fun. My favorite pick me up movies are Galaxy Quest, Star Trek: First Contact, Ed Wood, and Dodgeball. I also like watching Singing in the Rain because it’s so upbeat it’s hard not to smile. 

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My daughter really likes the movie SING. We watch that a lot.

I am currently doing a re-read of Game of Thrones. I started at one point, and lately, have been reading it again. I’m doing a lot more reading since I’ve had to start to work online. By the end of the day, I no longer want to look at a screen. I’ve also go back to my TBR and picked up a few of the urban fantasy series I haven’t caught up on in a while. And I have my growing list of audiobooks. I think I’ll try the X-files next. 

I know this is a short post. I hope you’re all well out there. I’d love to hear any suggestions for fun pick me up movies.

Favorite poems, short stories, or novellas

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Hello out there. 

I haven’t done the blog hop in a while. Like everyone else in the world, there was a lot of upheaval. And somehow other things I do for fun, like blogging, got pushed to the side.

But I saw this topic Favorite poems, short stories, or novellas.

I am an avid reader, so I always have an ever evolving list of favorites. For this post, I thought of doing short stories. And I want to focus on radio dramas. I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I recently listened to the audiobook version of the new Battlestar Galactica, which I like better than the show. (I didn’t hate the show, I just never got into it). There aren’t many shows on TV or even Netflix I follow much, so classic radio dramas and audiobooks have become my latests interest. I’ve always liked X-Minus One, Dimension X or the CBS Radio Mystery Hour. 

Mindwebs began as a Wisconsin radio program in the 70’s co-hosted by Michael Hanson, who passed away last fall. He did a remarkable job narrating wonderful classic SF stories. I got hooked on MINDWEBS (https://archive.org/details/MindWebs_201410) via some of its stories being broadcast on Relic Radio Sci-Fi.(https://www.relicradio.com/otr/show/scifi/) There is also a collection of open source at the Internet Archive. My personal favorite MINDWEBS stories are: Treasure Hunt/ Joseph Green and The Hall of Machines/ Langdon Jones.  

There are other radio drama stories I really like too:

Cold Equations/ Tom Goodwin

Imposter/ Philip K. Dick

The Ballad of Lost C’Mell/ Cordwainer Smith

These stories are all worth reading too. Since I live overseas, it’s not always that easy to find them affordably. But I know that Philip K. Dick collections are available in e-book form and I did get the e-book collection of Cordwainer Smith.

Does anyone else listen to audiobooks or radio dramas? Any recommendations?

 

 

Topics I could give an impromptu speech on

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Hello out there. I hope you are healthy and well, and importantly, keeping yourself mentally well too. I have a routine for me and the daughter to organize our lockdown days. I watch a mystery in the mornings (currently on Rosemary and Thyme) and an SF movie in the evenings. . I’ve already made it through Escape from L.A., Dune, Event Horizon, The Core, and Battle: Los Angeles this past week. 

So, what could I give a speech on….

  1. Classic SF movies and the development of my personal canon. I will cover black and white movies such as the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the original  War of the Worlds. Then I will discuss Forbidden Planet and its influence on Star Trek and space exploration genre shows. Then I will talk about Planet of the Apes and Logan’s Run and how they affected my childhood. I could go on and on and on….
  2. Great Pies. Instead of focusing on how to make a great pie, because I can’t, I will discuss where to get great pies and which you should try and why. I will cover Apple, Blueberry, Cherry, Key Lime, Pumpkin, and even Lemon Meringue. 
  3. Star Wars vs. Star Trek. 
  4. Star Trek vs. Blake’s 7
  5. Japanese Castles. I have visiting quite a few of them, and now take more interest in how they were designed and built. I am a history buff so I’ve tried to learn as much as I can. 

 

Favorite Things to do in Spring

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Well, I usually love the spring break as a chance to visit friends. Since I live in a small town, the spring semester between teaching is my chance to go to Tokyo or Yokohama. Traveling is restricted at the moment, so I’ve spent most of my time locally.  I hope all of you out there are well, both physically and emotionally. Keep your head up! If you’re stuck inside, a binge watch may be a good thing- things to completely take you mind away from news. Personally, I watched a few episodes of Are You Being Served, Yes Minister, and Martin. (My sense of humor is wide ranging) Also, Tiger King on Netflix is just so bizarre I couldn’t stop watching it.

I look forward to spending the spring outdoors. Since I know most people are quarantined, I thought I’d share a few pictures of some of my favorite spring places with the hopes that I’ll be able to once again have a big picnic out there someday soon.

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One Skill I wish I had but don’t

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I thought I’d join back in on the blog hop this week. In case you haven’t seen the news, here in Japan pretty much everything is such down in an attempt to contain the spread of Corvid. The schools are closed, and all festivals, sports events, etc. It’s kind of strange to watch the baseball teams play with empty seats in the stadium. Even sumo wrestling, for the first time in history, was held with just the participants and not the audience. It’s oddly Orwellian to see how empty things are. 

So, I figured why not blog? It’s good to think about something else. 

I couldn’t narrow my list down to just one skill I wish I had, so here are a few.  

Knitting. This seems like one of those things everyone is doing nowadays and I have no idea. I’m not terribly good at anything requiring hand coordination of any sort. My Girl Scout days were plagued by the eternally unfinished cross stitches. 

Sewing. I can’t do this either beyond managing to sew a button back on. If I can find the button. Which I usually don’t. 

Playing the piano. A skill that I lost. I used to as a child, but haven’t in decades. I’ve considered starting lessons again because I think I’d probably appreciate it more now. 

More language skills. I can speak English and Japanese. I’d love to learn Russian and Hebrew. I might actually go ahead and give Russian a go if I can find a really patient teacher. 

Piloting a galaxy class starship. I can but dream.

 

Books I reread or want to reread

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I don’t do as much re-reading of fiction as I used to, mainly because there are so many books out there I  want a chance to read  and already feel as it I don’t have enough time.:)  When I was young, I re-read Harriet the Spy, The Westing Game, and all of the Encyclopedia Brown books over and over again. I also read  the A Wrinkle in Time trilogy a few times. 

When I’m feeling sick or low, I re-read the Discworld books. They are always a good pick me up. I remember re-reading the Sevenwaters Trilogy (Juliet Marillier) and Kushiel’s Dart over again because I really like the scenery, the characters, the lush worlds that were created. I do read  Thomas Ligotti’s short stories, Ted Chiang’s short stories and Joan Didion’s classic Slouching Towards Bethlehem. There is also a Junichi Saga who has two great non-fiction books I’ve re-read several times Memoirs of Silk and Straw and Confessions of a Yakuza. If you wonder about life in Japan, particularly in the era when it changed rapidly, these are both great. 

Best Book/TV/ Movie Couples

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It’s been a long time since I joined the blog hop, but I thought I’d give it a shot, however late, this week. And to show my appreciation to Long and Short Reviews for organizing it and doing so much for the writing community.

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Of course, Star Trek will be on my list. Captain Sisko and Kassidy Yates were one of my favorite couples. I thought the actors worked well together, but also I liked the fact that they had a mature, stable, relationship. Even when Yates and Sisko disagreed strongly on the issue of the Maquis, they still loved and respected each other. Also, DS9 hat tip to Worf/Jadzia for best wedding ever and Odo/Kira for heartrending parting scene. 

Delenn/Sheridan from Babylon 5. 

Scully/Mulder from the X-files.  I think they were a better couple when they were not together as a couple. Having two loners who have such a strong connection was more convincing that the rather contrived alien/enhanced/son storyline or whatever that I kind of lost track of. 

My favorite couple on Game of Thrones was Missandei and Greyworm. I know it’s not in the books, but I thought the fact that they fell in love and really were devoted to each other was touching. Hated the way it ended though. Hat tip to Tormund/ Brienne. I love the fan pics of that. 

And last, Kovacs and Quellcrist Falconer from Altered Carbon. That show took me a few episodes to get into( It can be really violent) but the relationship of the couple despite time, distant, and new bodies has a lot of potential. I look forward to Season 2.