“The Best Simplicity” [Another “Finding Mister Wright” short]

I’m currently finishing up my 2014 NaNoWriMo story, but, yesterday, I got a flash idea for a short Valentine’s Day free-write. As most of my free-writes tend to be, this one takes place in my “Finding Mister Wright” universe, with its familiar cast of characters. Like “Tuxedos and Sugar Plum Fairies” and “Namesake,” this short story takes a step back from the cast’s present day. Unlike any of the previous FMW pieces, though, this one looks at life from Daniel’s perspective.

I’ve written for Daniel in his other incarnations before, but I’ve never written specifically for him, here, in this body, personality, and time. I don’t know if it was entirely successful a departure from the other characters in the FMW universe, but his conflict was certainly interesting to examine. Also, I had way too much fun writing this story.

“The Best Simplicity”
(3000 words; 15 pages)

Valentine’s Day is about love. Not necessarily romantic love, though we often translate it that way for our purposes. Whether you’re dancing the night away with your partner or enjoying a stay-at-home dinner-and-a-movie night – or wherever you are in the world, and whomever you’re with – I hope your adventures are filled with the same love I’ve tried to share with these words.

January 2015 (writing) recap

I figured I’d better put something up here so folks haven’t think I’ve died or otherwise slipped off the planet. While it may seem – from the non-existence of posts on this blog since the end of 2014 – that I haven’t been doing any writing, I’ve actually been doing a fair share of it, over on my other blog, The Highs, the Lows, and the In-Betweens, my ongoing chronicle of my 2014 NaNoWriMo story universe. Here are the post updates to prove it:

Jan 2015 Writing UpdatesI’m one of those fools who gets anxious when I haven’t updated a particular social media outlet or blog in a while, someone who thinks that makes me less of a person writer. But, seventeen story updates for January isn’t too shabby. (One of them doesn’t count, as it’s just a music video link.) It’s not a popular journey in terms of audience size, but I’m having too much fun with this story and these mostly-new characters to care much about that part of it.

Over the course of the last several weeks, I’ve also been working on a massive edit/rewrite of my homo-erotic space western opera story, From Hell: A Love Story. It’s been both interesting and enlightening to see this one evolve from a mishmash of sci-fi and romance ideas designed to cater to a fan fiction audience, to a tighter story of love and acceptance that satisfies my own inner reader. Through this process, I’ve come closer to understanding what my tastes really are, and where my stronger skills lie. I’m sure it will also affect my edits for my waiting-in-the-wings stories, “Finding Mister Wright” and Fearless, both of which I’d like to put through the same wringer starting this year. But, first, I’m working with Scrivener (finally!) to put From Hell: A Love Story together as a real book (courtesy CreateSpace, which awarded two free hardcopies of a book to each NaNo 2014 winner).

Of course, no writer – even a self-proclaimed one – should go too many days without reading something for the fun of it. I continue to enjoy Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer series of classic detective novels, in the hopes of someday writing my own detective story. But, that’s a post for another day.

Twitter friend Moyabomb asked if I’d share my experiences with my publishing exercise as regards Scrivener, CreateSpace, editing, and artistry, so I’ll have to do a post about that coming up. In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying your own reading and writing journeys!

Mayumi-H’s 2014 in review

Apparently, WordPress has monkeys working for them, to calculate my 2014 statistics. That sounds about right, I think.

This was a weird year for me. I wouldn’t want to repeat it, but I definitely learned a lot. The one thing this recap post doesn’t recognize is that I actually did a lot of writing this year. In fact, all of my “Finding Mister Wright” vignettes were written in this year alone! That’s eight little stories, in all!

Thank you to everyone who stayed with me through this year. I won’t name names because that’s not very fair, but please know that I’m grateful for every look, like, and comment you’ve sent my way, because those little gestures have always made me feel not so alone.

I hope to be more productive in the year to come, and I hope that you’ll join me for it!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 28 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Christmas Story Swap [“Tuxedos and Sugar Plum Fairies: Another ‘Finding Mister Wright’ short story”]

When my sister and I were little girls, we had a tradition of writing and swapping Christmas stories. Mostly, this was a way for us to kill time on early Christmas mornings when we weren’t allowed to run downstairs and clamor under the tree. Over time, though, it became more than that. I came to look forward to those stories as much as I looked forward to anything else dealing with the holiday, including presents, turkey and stuffing, and decorated cookies. As we got older, and our tastes became more particular, the stories became more complicated. We had universes and canonical events and established characters we returned to in one form or another, as we did with other stories throughout the year. Eventually, though, we went our separate ways as young women – and as storytellers – and we stopped swapping stories. It’s one of those little traditions I’ve truly missed over the years.

Last year, over winter break 2013, I flash-wrote my novella “Finding Mister Wright,” about Marshall Wright and his complicated love life. It was a sort-of Christmas story, in that it took place mostly around the winter holidays. I’ve written lots about Marshall and his supporting cast since last winter, but the idea of those characters living in a kind of perpetual Christmastime setting has always stayed with me. It seemed only natural to me that I revisit them around the same time this year.

I invited folks on social media to join me in a Christmas story swap. Only fellow writer Neeks took me up on the challenge, so you’ll hopefully see a link to another holiday story here, soon, too. For now, here’s my offering for this year:

“Tuxedos and Sugar Plum Fairies”

This particular story is a slight step back in time for the FMW crew, to the early days of Rob, Paige, and Daniel. It’s about 5300 words (19 pages double-spaced), so it’s not short. But, for anyone who chooses to take a look, I hope you enjoy.

Happy holidays, happy reading, and happy writing!

Sports Day in Japan (or, watch kids go crazy on a field)

Every year, Japan celebrates undoukai (運動会). It’s a holiday that celebrates sports and health awareness, and it usually involves children competing in very simple intramural events. While we were in Kyoto this past October, we were lucky enough to attend Ave Maria School’s undoukai. Friends and families cheer on the competing students, and it’s a great lot of fun to watch these young athletes excel…or, at least, yell their little lungs out with excitement.

You can learn the straight facts about undoukai from Wikipedia, so I thought I’d share our personal experiences.

Saturday, October 10, 2014, we set off from our house in Otani to Ave Maria School in Yamashina. Ave Maria School is a kindergarten/primary school, with three sets of class ages: 2, 4, and 6. My nephews* are in the 4-year-old class.

SportsDay2

Taking the field at Ave Maria

Those kids love to march while swinging their arms.

There’s a cardboard rocket tower in the back, with the word “がんばって (ganbatte)” written on it. “Ganbatte” means, very basically, “Do your best,” and we heard a lot of it that day. Especially during all of the fun little contests, like this ball-to-basket toss.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzq4m-_-Z9E

For these little ones, the contests weren’t all that complicated. Most of them were some variation on a race. It didn’t matter, though. Watching kids run across a field is pretty much comedy gold any time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caVJK_361O4

While the students were very excited to compete, they also stayed pretty orderly. You know, for 4-year-olds.

SportsDay3The colored caps were used to keep the different “teams” straight…as well as to help families and friends keep track of where our particular kids were at any given time.

Undoukai is just as much a celebration of school pride. Here’s the 6-year-old class marching band performing semafore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAzNZgwsW5c

They’re not Army-Navy game caliber, but pretty good for 6-year-olds. Am I right?

My nephews had a great time participating in their first undoukai (this is the first year they’re enrolled in a formal school). They did well in the giant ball race – they’re twins, so they got to be together for that one – and their obstacle course races. At the end of the day, everybody gets a celebratory lift from their parents!

SportsDay5

Parents resting their backs until the kids arrive.

I’m so glad we got to experience undoukai with family while we were there, especially since we were only in Japan for two weeks. It was a great time!

I almost forgot! We also had scrumptious obento (lunch box) made by my cousin that day. You’ve got to keep your body well-fed if you want to compete at the top of your game, after all!

SportsDayFoodHow do you celebrate sports and wellness in your family?


* I call them my nephews, but, actually, they’re my cousin’s boys. It’s just easier for me to refer to them as “nephews” instead of “second-cousins.”