Irksome Things in Game of Thrones

I’m talking only of the Game of Thrones television show which I’ve been binge-watching recently. As far as I can tell, these “problems” are liberties taken by the show (I read all the books a while ago, so I may be wrong).

Ser Dontos Game of Thrones

Captain Westeros, The First Avenger

1. Ser Dontos, an overweight drunk, wears armor that has a marked resemblance to the American flag.

That’s just mean. He’s called Ser Dontos the Red, not Ser Dontos the Red, White, and Blue.

Though I’ll admit it’s kind of funny that he looks like a really crappy Captain America.

2. Catelyn Stark says “stand down” which is a phrase thought to have originated in the early 1900’s, and the Bastard of Bolton says “phantom limb” which is a phrase coined in the 1870’s.

Yeah, yeah—I know the show is set in a fictional fantasy world, and it wouldn’t really work to have them speak Middle English (no one would understand except English majors, and even then it’ll only be the handful of people who paid attention during their Chaucer class). However, I personally prefer medieval fantasy to avoid modern-ish technical phrases as much as possible. I’m really not sure if these phrases were in the books or if they’re only in the show. I’ll have to pay attention if I ever read the novels again.

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Book Two During NaNoWriMo

I’ve recently started outlining a for a “second” novel.

While I’ll begin writing this new novel in earnest during the National Novel Writing Month, I won’t technically be a NaNoWriMo participant as I won’t be following any of the NaNoWriMo rules: I don’t give a single bantha poodoo about hitting the 50,000 word count, I might start writing before November begins, and I’m not signing up anywhere. Still, it’ll be nice to know I’ll be making up stupid stories at the same time as so many others.

Panda-Rocking-Horse-No-Bantha-Poodoo

In regards to my first-ever completed manuscript, I’m still waiting on an agent to realize its immeasurable awesomeness (i.e., when they realize you can’t measure negative awesomeness).

A.D.M. Was Here: Japan (日本), Part Two

Before going to Japan I purchased a JR rail pass which basically allows you unlimited rides on JR trains all over the country, including many of the “bullet trains” (shinkansen/新幹線). I think two or three rides on a high-speed rail already equals the cost of the rail pass (of course, I did this six years ago, so things may be different now). The pass is available only to foreigners and can only be purchased while outside of Japan, so plan ahead.

Anyway, toward the end of my time in Japan I activated my rail pass and finally ventured away from Tokyo—

Kyoto

Kyoto Imperial PalaceBefore the Meiji Restoration which put the Emperor of Japan back in power, Kyoto was the capital of Japan. The city’s home of one of the Imperial Palaces (yeah, there’s more than one—the other one’s in Tokyo) as well as a whole bunch of iconic Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. With my limited time in Kyoto, I did see the Imperial Palace in the rain and also visited a few shrines and temples.

Kitsune StatueKeeping in mind that this was in the summer and I didn’t bother going to a hot spring (definitely on my to-do list for my winter trip), my favorite place in Kyoto was the Fushimi Inari-taisha—an Inari shrine located up on a mountain (Inari Okami is the Shinto spirit of foxes and, generally, prosperity). This particular shrine requires you to hike up a mountain for about two hours to get to it and, really, it was the hike that made the experience awesome. On the way, you pass through countless orange and black gates, and other notable monuments.

Inari Shrine Gates

CatBeing awesome, I got lost on the way down and ended up passing by a cemetery where a handful of cats started following me around.

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A.D.M. Was Here: Japan (日本), Part One

Long flight, long subway ride, getting lost for a bit—still fun

Two years after I graduated from UCLA, I went to Tokyo to do stuff (super secret stuff—don’t ask). Aside from going to Canada as a kid, this was my first time out of the country, and it was pretty exciting. It was probably a good thing that my anime-nerd phase had ended about four years prior to this trip. Otherwise, my head might have exploded from all the awesome.

I undertook my first fourteen-hour flight with Korean Air. This was pretty much just before the major airlines started providing screens for every passenger, so my choice of entertainment was limited to whatever they had up on the large-ish screen up front (I’m pretty sure the TV I’m sitting five feet from is larger than the screen they had—higher resolution, too—ah, the past and its crappy technology). They started with an American movie, then switched to a Japanese one, then a Korean one. If I recall correctly, the last movie had no subtitles and no dub option on the headphones, so I had to actually try to sleep for a while. It sucked.

Somewhere in Tokyo

Is this Shibuya? I forget.

Being a cheapskate, I opted to be on the subway as much as possible making my way from Narita Airport into Tokyo proper—all while dragging my luggage around. I got off at the Aoyama-itchome Station and proceeded to wander for an excessive amount of time looking for my hotel—and, yeah, still dragging my luggage around. Locals watched me and pitied me as I backtracked two or three times (marveling at the tiny cars that hadn’t yet become abundant in California) until I finally got my bearings and found my lodging. It even started to rain a bit near the end of the ordeal.

The first of many acts of idiocy abroad . . .

Still young and charged from being on my first international excursion, I didn’t let the rain stop me from venturing outside. I checked Google Maps for a place to eat, borrowed an umbrella from the front desk, and wandered over a few streets to a little ramen shop.

Well, in Japan, some of the cheaper eating establishments have you order through what I would describe as a vending machine. It’s a box near the entrance that you put your cash into, press the buttons for what you want to eat, and then it gives you a ticket with your order on it. Then, you’re supposed to hand that ticket to the cook-person who prepares and/or fetches your grub.

Being a noob, I totally bypassed the vending machine thing and just sat down and had my first experience in which a local tried to explain stuff to me in English because I couldn’t be bothered to properly learn the language of the country I was visiting.

Yeah, that wasn’t embarrassing at all.

Obnoxious American-ing: convini hopping

In Tokyo, it’s legal to walk around with an open alcoholic beverage in your hand, so long as it’s not a glass container (like Vegas, I guess). Notably, local Japanese folks generally don’t eat or drink anything while they walk from place to place.

Being Americans, my friends and I (and sometimes a random person from another country) had no qualms about walking around and getting sloshed (of course, being politer than most, we didn’t cause any trouble aside from calling attention to ourselves by simply having drinks in our hands). What we’d do was decide on a destination to walk to and intermittently stop by convenience stores for more drinks until we got there. The journey was definitely more important than the destination. Continue reading

Awesome Character #1: Milhouse Van Houten

So, I was playing The Simpsons: Tapped Out on my phone and was getting close to unlocking Milhouse when thought to myself about how awesome a character he is. Now, thanks to that random thought, my blog followers will be subjected to a series of posts concerning individual characters from whatever work of fiction I happen to like.

So, here’s the first character of this series: Milhouse Van Houten.Milhouse Van Houten - The simpsons

The way he’s drawn alone sort of screams funny (and adorableness), and the comedy bits that revolve around Milhouse poke fun at his misfortunes. Perhaps it’s because his life sucks so much that I find him so much more likable. Milhouse evokes sympathy and buffers it with comedy, and those two things are what I look for in fiction.

One of the most iconic Milhouse moments is where he’s playing a video game and enters his name as “Thrillhouse.” Thanks to old school games only allowing so many characters for your name, however—well, you can see what happens in this clip:

While searching for more Milhouse awesomeness, I came across this beautiful song by Allie Goertz which captures the hilariousness and sadness of the character with references to many of his scenes:

Milhouse Mystical Journey Continue reading

Waiting for Agents, Revising the Manuscript, and Milking Cows

Waiting for Agents . . .

Waiting for agents to confirm that they hate my book (or not) has been somewhat stressful. As I wait for those who have my partial/full to finish partying in Frankfurt (there’s a giant book fair thing over there right now) and read rejections from other folks, I grow more doubtful of my manuscript and query.

Not fun.

It’s popular advice for writers with novels out on submission to begin working on another projecttheir next book, short stories, poetry, or whatever. Aside from getting your mind off the wait, it also prevents you from altering the manuscript that’s currently out on submission. You know, just in case the agents you’re waiting on actually love your MS and would be appalled by changes (because that totally happens).

Against this advice and my earlier wishes not to revise, I’m going to begin outlining and implementing major revisions for my novel.

Revising the Manuscript . . .

The plan is to condense, combine, and excise entire scenes; save the awesome, and replace everything else with more awesome. The current ending will be altered to become part of the rising action. Then, I’ll add a new ending which I came up with while listening to music in my car (a scene of unprecedented awesomenessyou can verify this claim after you put some money in my wallet).

And, well, I could always revert back to an older draft if an agent actually likes it.

Milking Cows . . .
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Pitching Fiction without a High Concept

One Does Not Simply Meme High Concept VS Low Concept Fiction A.D. Martin

Thanks to the recession and other factors in recent years, many literary agents and publishers now have a more vocal preference for novels with a high concept. High-concept work, to put it simply, is work that’s easy to pitch effectively.

To define high-concept less simply . . .

To be high-concept, a work must be: (1) highly original; (2) widely appealing; (3) easy to visualize; and (4) easy to sum up in three sentences or less while demonstrating the first three elements.

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