My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Posts tagged ‘The Scarlet Daughter’

NaNo Rebel

So this year’s NaNo is not going as planned for me 😛 I’m only 6K in. I suppose I’ve been pretty preoccupied with other life changes.

Anyway, I decided to switch to writing my “new” draft of Scarlet Daughter for NaNo instead of the fantasy story I had. Mainly, my fantasy story hadn’t been planned out yet (much), especially in the world building area and that was posing a major problem when I was writing. I’m not giving up on that story–I’ll probably try it again next NaNo.

I believe this is like the third time I’ve written the same story for NaNo. The first year, it was almost a completely different book and I only made it halfway. The second year, I wrote the second “half” of it but again, it’s really gone in a different direction. Last year I wrote Lady of the Snow and made it probably 3/4 of the way through the book (although that one will also be heavily revised as well–the story’s changed so much there too). And this year, it’s the new draft of Scarlet Daughter. The funny part is that the title has changed every time I’ve done NaNo too. 😛

So I may be a bit of a NaNo rebel switching midstream. But oh well. The 6K came easier than the 3K for my fantasy. I may be lucky to hit the 25K mark by the end of the month but that’s OK. I’ll be that much closer to sending the draft out to beta readers. 🙂

Tsukiji: The Former Foreign District

My book really has one main setting, which is in the small town of Kakunodate in Northern Japan.  Most of it takes place here, where Naomi learns her Japanese heritage. However, it starts off in Tsukiji, which was the foreigners district in Tokyo prior to 1899.

Foreign settlements were established specifically for the Westerners and were in cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagasaki and Kobe. Tsukiji was on the outskirts of the city, build on reclaimed land with canals and bridges. It was built here because it safely removed from the center of the city in the event any anti-foreign violence erupted.  Here in Tsukiji, many Western ways of life spread into the city and throughout the country, from fashion, to new forms of education and medicine, to the Western style hotels, like the Seiyoken. A few schools and hospitals were started here that continue today: St. Paul’s (or Rikkyo) University, the American School in Japan and St. Luke’s Hospital.

After 1899, foreigners were no longer confined to living in Tsukiji. The district was nearly completely destroyed by the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and after it, government officials decided that relocating the city’s fishmongers to the former foreign district was a better idea. It’s now the internationally known Tsukiji Fish Market.

Tsukiji is the area where my MC Naomi grew up. Though she’s only there for the first chapter and a half of my novel, it still remains an important part of my character’s background.

For more information and some nifty old photographs of Tokyo’s foreign district as well as the famous hotel Seiyoken, head on over to the Old Tokyo page here and here.

The Meiji Era: The Perfect Setting

Samurai of the Satsuma clan, during the Boshin...

Image via Wikipedia

The Meiji Era lasted from 1868 to 1912. Until the arrival of Perry’s “Black Ships” in 1853, the country had been isolated from the world for 200 years. Once the country’s borders were forcibly opened, the country began to change rapidly.

The old feudal system was demolished by 1868, with supreme rule transferring over from the last Tokugawa shogun to Emperor Meiji.  Of course, there was some resentment from the samurai class, whose power was taken away during this time. The well-known movie, The Last Samurai (which is completely inaccurate with Tom Cruise’s character by the way) is set during this time and the last rebellion by the samurai in 1877.

It was a time of drastic change–in military, education and the general way of life. Some embraced the change, quickly adapting to the new Western clothing and ways, while many others still preferred the old way of life. By the 1890s,  a more conservative and ultra-national train of thought began to be adopted by many, with the rise of dozens of small ultra-nationalist (and often terrorist) groups. The main one, called the Dark Ocean Society, or the Genyosha, wished to expand Japan’s growing military power across the Asian continent. The roots of Japan’s ideology during World War II  can be traced back to this time.

With all of this upheaval in society, what better time to choose for a novel, right? Especially one where the MC is part of both cultures. I did this purposefully, to try to examine on a small scale the whole East meets West conflict. And of course, once I did more research and discovered that the late 1880s/early 1890s was a time when terrorist groups really began to take hold of the country, I found my antagonist (well, one of them anyway.)

Later this week, I’ll examine the Dark Ocean Society in more detail whom I base my fictional terrorist group off of.

This is why I love writing historical fiction; there’s so many interesting tidbits that you find when researching. Of course, it can be challenging, but it’s always exciting when you find something that can really work into the plot of your book. 🙂

Background for The Scarlet Daughter

I’m sure some of you wonder why I chose to write and set The Scarlet Daughter  in 1890s Japan (the Meiji era in Japanese history). Why choose a time and place that’s fairly obscure to most of Western culture?

Well there are many reasons, so many that I’ll do a little “mini-series” on my blog about it. I’m sure it won’t be very interesting to many–especially if you aren’t a huge history fan–but I thought it might be something of interest to a few 🙂  The Meiji era is such an interesting time, when Japan truly transformed. And it’s a time when the country had to adjust to many new and very foreign ideas, something that didn’t always settle well with many who were used to the old ways. This is just a sampling of some of the conflicts that I try to examine in The Scarlet Daughter through Naomi’s character.

Of course, there’s much more–so much that I’m still researching and learning about it (just discovered another new tidbit today that may change Ryuji’s backstory slightly). Anyway, I’ll post more details about it come next week, in case you’re interested. If not, well that’s your loss 😛

Editing Hurts My Brain

And my eyes too. My poor little eyes. 😛

I’m one of those writers. The kind that gets obsessive about it. I get completely sucked into the story and time passes by so quickly that I don’t even realize it until my eyes feel like they’re going to fall out.

Of course, it’s a good thing that I’m able to devote that attention to it. It’s kind of like a weird addiction…like I can’t stop thinking about changing and adding and deleting scenes to make it better. It’s easier for me to get into it compared to writing the rough draft.

Guess I’m doing it right. 🙂

Clichéd Beginnings

So I was going through my critiques for my first chapter, as I’m trying to edit it enough to submit to a few contests–and I got one crit that said the beginning started too late.

This makes me giggle a bit as the last draft I wrote I started it way too early. Anyway, it was only one crit out of half a dozen that said that. Still, I decided to try and rewrite a new beginning, following this person’s suggestions.

This person suggested I start it right as Naomi’s mother was dying…I’ve done this once before and it seemed cliche to me. I rewrote it again and guess what? It still sounds overused.

To me, it’s  similar to the whole beginning where the person has a dream and wakes up, etc. I could be wrong though. I did see what this person was saying, although now I’m not sure how to do it. I did rewrite it with a deathbed scene but…meh. It doesn’t work and I think I’m going to ignore it. I may input some info in as a brief flashback but that’s it.

Anyway, what do you feel about deathbed openings?  What are some other cliched openings that you can think of?

Halfway Point Reached!

Officially reached the halfway point on this current draft of mine (see status bar on the right!). It’s still really rough and going back and reading some of it, I see a lot of places where I need to put in a little more description about the culture and what not. Like the whole wedding scene for example. That scene is essentially blank right now as I have to look up how rural weddings were done, if there was anything besides just a simple sake sharing ceremony.

Also I know there’s an entire section I need to delete–like a few thousand words worth–because nothing happens and the plot stalls. So average that out along with the stuff that needs added and well, I’m still probably around the 40K mark. I also know I’m near the halfway point because the next chapter is where my “turning point” occurs and things start to change…

Well, that’s the plan anyway. I’m glad I got this far; trying my best to get this draft done by vacation in September although it would be nice to get it done much sooner. After it’s done, I will embark on the monumental task of research–finding books and hopefully contacting other experts in Japanese history to help me get cultural aspects correct. Then it’s editing time! I don’t think I’ll be able to enter the Golden Heart this year, but I will still try.

A Lovely Drawing of Naomi

Remember that contest I won back in May on Natalie Whipple’s blog? Well, I got my prize today: a sketch of Naomi!

Absolutely wonderful:

This is the scene where she’s taking part in her arranged marriage to Ryuji. Only, the marriage is for show in order to protect her. See my post here on trial marriages and how it was viewed in rural districts in the late 1800s.

Anyway, this “trial marriage” is on top of everything else she’s had to go through: the death of her mother, leaving everything of her former life behind with no choice in the matter, as well as being even more of an outcast because of her “unconventional” heritage (an unknown Japanese father and English mother). I think Natalie captured the tumultuous emotions raging within her very well, especially in her eyes.

Thank you again to Natalie for this! This made my day. 🙂



Halfway to Halfway

Last night I passed 25% being complete with my WiP. 🙂

Considering I only had like 4% done for numerous weeks, this is very exciting.

Technically, my Fast Drafting ends next Monday, but I’m going to keep going until this is done. I think I’d be going a lot slower if I had to do all of this from scratch, but thankfully I’ve done a few other drafts and there are some scenes that are still part of the story. Of course every chapter has something new added to it, especially since I added the arranged marriage scenario. I’m still debating whether or not to put in a second POV (Ryuji’s); currently it’s just Naomi’s. It’s her story but I think I may be able to weave some of his in too…still undecided about that though.

So, do you have any exciting writing updates to share? Even a few hundred words of writing or editing is an accomplishment. 🙂

Fast Draft: I Just May Lose My Sanity

I have found that I am the most productive writing-wise during NaNo. Not sure why–probably because there’s an external goal I have to reach and a deadline, set by a source other than myself. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo three times and each time I’ve reached my goal of 50K over the month.

And then November ends I have a difficult time keeping that same level of productivity–or any productivity.

Well, today, I read my good friend Jeannie Lin’s blog (like I do everyday :)) She posted about Fast Draft. Essentially, it’s completing a novel in half the time of NaNo. Each writer sets a goal for the amount of words per day they will write. Fast Draft recommends 5000, although I don’t think I’m quite capable of that many as my brain shuts down right around the 2500-3000 mark. So, I’m going to set the goal for myself to be in that range–preferably 3K each day.

I am going to start on Monday, April 12th, and go two weeks from there to Monday, April 26th. I am desperately hoping I’ll be close to the end of this draft.

During this time, I probably won’t post much except I will try to put a daily update so you know if you should get on my case or not 😛 I will try and keep up with everyone’s blogs, although my evenings are going to be taken up with writing (as that’s the best time for me).

If you are curious about Fast Draft, check out this simple article about it. And if you want to participate, great! The more the merrier!

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