1 Year Anniversary

A year ago, in a far away, cold and snow filled rural land, I began my blog.

From my first two followers, I somehow gained another 100! ヾ(〃^∇^)ノ

Sorry, I couldn’t help my excited-ness from creeping out. (See? It did it again!)

A lot of things have changed in my life, starting with the obvious: country(ies), job, friends, etc… As life would have it, I’ve had my share of ups and downs, longer than I wished un-creative and sadly non-writing phases with good times peppered in between. But for all of you who supported me through that time, my complaining and blues-y-ness, a huge heartfelt thank you.

Your support means more than you know, and although I might not be overly grabby, touchy-feely about my love for you, know I have it inside my heart and I’m still working on expressing it.

Thinking back now, I have a feeling I chose this particular date to start my blog. It’s no coincidence that I began a new quest on this very day.

Today, March 11th, marks another, sadder, anniversary, touching not only my grieving heart but the many hearts of a people and country I love, respect and pine for: Japan.

When the earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku region, it tore my heart apart. I would watch video after video, unable to stop the tears streaming down my face and the grief from cutting me to pieces. Cities and livelihoods were destroyed, people were snatched away from loved ones in a blink and a part of Japan was forever altered. Yet stories of unbelievable bravery kept surfacing, bringing a strange yet undeniable glow of warmth to a very dark tale.

For days I would check for news when coming back from classes, wishing I was there to help. Then the news of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant made headlines, and from the wounds caused by grief a hole formed in my chest and seemed to suck out hope.

But the Japanese endured, and persevered, and endured some more as headlines faded to other worldly matters, leaving tens of thousands of people in temporary shelter even three years after the disaster.

I can hardly believe three years have already passed, and I’m sad to note their worries and troubles are far from over. I would be immensely grateful if you could take a minute to remember the lost ones, and send good vibes to the grieving families, those still struggling today and our beloved Pacific Ocean.

Never forget 11.03. 11.

Ali J.

P.S: For those of you who can help, please join me and my fellow JETs and see your donations doubled here. (Donations made on March 11, 2014 (Japan time) will be matched by Global Giving.)

What’s in a name?

Greetings from an early morning (aka, I should be sleeping).

You might notice this is my first “work in progress” update in a while! Let’s take this as a good sign, shall we?

While I haven’t yet made very much progress on my novel, I’m at least still thinking about it. I’ll take my “I suddenly want to write my antagonist’s back story out” moment as a promising feeling and cling to that while I can.

But there is a recurring thought that I still can’t answer, and since I have readers (some of whom happen to be writers), what better way than to help shed light on my dilemma?

Simply put: Can I make do without last names in the book (and potential ‘series’)? If I can, should I?

This is a hard decision because the world building is still going on, which is both good and bad. I don’t have to decide right now, but then again, why not now?

So, what’s in a name? I’d love to say that writers can just pick any name that sounds good or has a wanted underlying meaning, but that would be ignoring the very real stigmas existing in this world. I almost feel a duty to combat it, although I’m a bit uncertain on the ‘how’ and if it would actually work.

In my book, there is a very logical explanation as to why first names have a certain origin. I envision the world to be very diverse, and I already know that “stereotypical” names are anything but. Anyone can be named anything, no stigma attached.

I’m afraid that by adding last names of different origins than the first names, it will add a layer of “well this character must look like this” or “this character is (insert origin).” Am I just over-thinking or anticipating?

As of now, I came up with a few solutions:

  1. add to the world building and banish (or replace) last names altogether,
  2. add the last names of varying origins/ethnicity anyway (screw stereotypes!), or
  3. simply physically describe characters to dispel any preconceived notions (or attempt to, but people might still pull a Rue on you…)

Or maybe none of this matters in a book, but only once it becomes a movie?

Do you have a preference? I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or other solutions on this! Especially if you strongly feel about fair and equal representation of minorities/ethnicities as I do.

Ali J.

P.S: If you’ve ever faced this “this name means ‘rebel’ but on another it means ‘flower'” dilemma, you know how frustrating google searches can be. So if you know of trustworthy sites with relatively accurate names & meanings, please let me know!

Writing—So Easy a Caveman Can Do It

An excellent post on how to handle criticism (with a grain of salt) and learn to make the right choices.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Sodanie Chea Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Sodanie Chea

Recently a Facebook friend shared a post with me regarding Indie Musicians versus Indie Authors. It appears our culture has a fascination and reverence for the Indie Musician whereas Indie Authors face an immediate stigma. We authors have to continually prove ourselves, whereas musicians don’t (at least not in the same way). My friend seemed perplexed, but to me it’s very simple.

We’re not even going to address the flood of “bad” books. Many writers rush to publish before they’re ready, don’t secure proper editing, etc. But I feel the issue is deeper and it reflects one of the many challenges authors face and always will.

People give automatic respect to a musician because not everyone can play an instrument or sing. Simple. It’s clear that artist can do something many cannot.

As writers, we have an insidious enemy. People…

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