Tag Archives: Music and Musings Monday

Armchair Adventures: Shogun Japan- Samurai, Geisha, and Sake.

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Are you like me? Do you dream of meeting interesting people, trying exotic foods, and seeing places so beautiful they take your breath away? As we wait for unlimited wealth or Dr. Who to make us his new companion (make sure to dress everyday as if today is the day the Dr. comes for you) I invite you to join me on my Armchair Adventures.
This week Armchair Adventures invites you to travel through time to Shogun Japan.

Get something to drink, a snack, and settle in while I give you several book options you can use to travel back to a time full of beauty, ritual, backstabbing, and sexual perversion.


Ronin by Frank Miller
This is a guy’s book. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but it’s hard to become attached to a Zen Fable that stops, it doesn’t really end because life doesn’t end and honestly I think the ultimate goal of Zen is to drive people crazy. However this is one of my husband’s favorite books so I read it. Like everything else I have read that takes place in feudal Japan there is rape- it is more descriptive then in the other books and was upsetting to me.

I’m not sure what to say, this is the story of a Ronin a masterless samurai, and his journey. He’s an ass, he doesn’t really change. You get a good idea of what life was like for a samurai and village people and was well written. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I liked it- does that make sense?? No it didn’t for me either.
I say unless rape is a trigger for you, check it out then you too can be frustrated by Zen.

NOTE- My hubby says his favorite part of the book is the story of the boys training. It comes about half way through, and was good, once I dropped my over protective mom-ness.


Autumn Bridge by Takashi Matsuoka

This is a beautifully written book. I felt transported to Shogun Japan as I turned the pages. The customs, dress, and more importantly the Japanese perceptions of white people and what was happening were very vivid.
Because a culture builds upon its past I find understanding Japan and her people during the Shogun helps me to understand the cultural differences now.

Autumn Bridge is not an afternoon read; at least it wasn’t for me. If you are familiar with Japanese history and names then you might get through it faster, but I had to take my time in order to make sure I kept up with who was doing what and where and when we were.

This book jumps between several different time periods, and while it was confusing at first once I became familiar with the names and differences in the time periods I was able to keep up without too much trouble. And the author brings everything together beautifully. I really enjoyed this book and loved getting lost in Takashi Matsuoka’s Shogun Japan.

I do have one nitpick, I wish the romantic relationships had been as detailed as the fight scenes. I don’t necessarily mean graphic in description, but when they do come together I wish the emotion had been shown to us more. That being said, his other book Cloud of Sparrows is on my TBR (to be read) list. This is a wonderful book, and will definitely transport you to the time of Samurai, Geisha, peasants, and western invasion.


Bundori by Laura Joh Rowland

This is the second book of the detective Sano Ichiro series. While reading the first book wasn’t necessary I wish I had because the story is so good that I’m sad I didn’t start from the beginning. This book sends you into the world of 1689 Edo, Japan. The sights, smells, sounds, and tastes are clear and strongly described. Bundori is a murder mystery that kept me as fully entertained and engaged as learning about the world of a Samurai and Ninja. One thing I have learned is people either pretended to follow Bushido, but didn’t and were slimy backstabbing assholes, or you are Bushido’s bitch. No one follows Bushido, you are lying or Bushido rules you. * Hubby laughed but agreed.

I was drawn into this story, hooked into this world, and Sano’s troubles, including a love affair. I was left guessing until the very end as to who had done what and who’s side people were on. While I want to read the first book, the third is currently sitting next to me just waiting to be read and despite ALL the books I have yet to read, I’m thinking I might just go ahead and read this one right away.


The Way of the Traitor by Laura Joh Rowland

The third of detective Sano Ichiro is sent to Nagasaki, the only port in Japan that allowed foreign ships to land during the time of isolation.

It is so much fun to read about Sano as he finally gets a chance to see the ‘white barbarians’. If you have ever wondered how the Japanese viewed foreigners this si the book for you. Another murder mystery drives Sano to find the truth even if it might led to his death. His assistant Hirata, who we met in Bundori, plays a much bigger role and I really enjoyed the chapters in his POV. Like last time I wanted to scream when the ‘officials’ were backstabbing fake Bushido followers, and also scream when Sano’s hands were tied because he did follow Bushido to the letter.
However I want more, and after checking on Goodreads I have found there are 10 books in the Sano Ichiro series, so we can all escape to feudal Japan for a long time 🙂

WARNING all of these books have rape in them in many different forms. Ronin was the most descriptive, while the others books described it in a more detached way. The next time I read a book for traveling back into Shogun Japan I will try and find something that doesn’t include the rape of woman, men, and children. If you want to read these books but are triggered by descriptions of rape email me or leave a comment and I can go into more detail, so you can decide if its something you can handle. I normally can’t, but did fine this these.

Do you have a favorite book which takes place in shogun Japan?

No adventure is complete without food, which I shall explore on Wednesday day. And for the full sights and sounds of Shogun Japan I will have several movies which will make your journey complete.

Because I always offer music to start off your Monday here is a video of Japanese Folk Music Sakura with some beautiful pictures of Japan.

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Blame Your Past Life.

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A while back Myndi Shafer tweeted about how she was afraid of libraries, and how this is not good for an author. I offered to create a past life which would explain this odd fear, and she said ‘go for it’. So here is a possible past life explanation as to why our dear Myndi would be afraid of libraries:

She knew it was wrong but she couldn’t stay away. One of the best things about being married was her husband’s immense library. It was against the law for her, a mere woman, to be able to read, but her father had taught her, and now she couldn’t stay away from the hundreds of books that lined the walls; books her husband couldn’t read.
She loved it when her husband left. Not only could she read, but every time he would leave her alone, he begged her forgiveness and promised to bring her back trinkets to prove he’d been thinking of her while he was away. Her uncle had picked a kind man for her to marry, and she was content. However, if her father had been alive, then her chosen husband would be a man who would have also found the law forbidding woman to read foolish and worth ignoring.

Her finger tips were numb by the time she had traced over the leather spines and finally settled on a book, a ghost story. Curled into the furthest corner of the room she hid. The servants knew she liked the smell of the books, that they reminded her of her father. They thought she gazed out the window, depressed by her husband’s absence. Today she brought some embroidery to pretend to work on.

Biting her lip she curled over the book, reading quickly as she feared for the heroine’s life and had to know what happened. So, lost in the story, she didn’t hear the door creak open, the footsteps echo through the room, or the gasp of horror as her husband found her.

The slick cold sound of a sword being pulled from its scabbard did pull her from one nightmare into another.
“Husband,” she whispered. Her mind raced as she desperately tried to come up what she could say to make this all right.

He snarled and in two steps he crossed the floor and ran her through. The book dropped with a splat in a puddle of crimson life. She stared at her stomach. Her blood coated the gleaming metal. “No, wife of mine will disobey the law. It is not proper or safe for a woman to read.” He jerked the sword from her body.

She gasped. Her hands fluttered, and she placed them on her stomach below the mortal wound. Tears ran down her cheeks. “My baby.”

Out of the corner of her eye she saw her husband step back. His voice echoed, but she couldn’t understand the words. Pain shook her body as she fell over. Chaos surrounded her, but all she saw was blood and books.

And this is why Myndi is afraid of libraries. So what do you think? Does anyone have another idea? Or an odd fear that we can make up a past life excuse for?

And some music to for your Monday. Today I have Seth Lakeman Race to be King.

Come My Wonderful Spider Friends

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My poor husband frequently listens to me ramble about my day. He smiles indulgently as I chatter on about irritating children, paperwork, and conversations I’ve had during the day. When I talk about people, he tilts his head a bit to remember the person and get a reference to who I’m talking about. However, due to how frequently I interact with people on the computer, instead of getting a reference hubby’s brow wrinkles and he looks at me needing a context.

I blush and say, “They’re someone I met on the internet.”

Why do I blush?

Because I am old enough to be a bit embarrassed about having friends I’ve only met on the computer. You see, back when I was a teenager, the internet and chat rooms were a breeding ground for psychopathic killers, rapists pretending to be little children, and losers living in their mothers’ basements with skin the color of a mushroom.

Seriously, the internet was full of danger, and you had to assume everyone you met was lying about who they are. It was a scary time. And even though I am past that, it was so ingrained in me as a teenager that I am still a bit embarrassed by having ‘internet friends’.

So I have decided to re-name all of you, from now on you are all my spider friends. Since we met on the ‘web’ it seems fitting, and because it’s such a brilliant name, I wanted to put it out here for everyone to use and so I have proof that I was the first one to think of it. 🙂

So now when I talk about you guys to my hubby and he makes that curious face, I simply smile and say ‘Oh, they’re a spider friend,’ and go on with my riveting tale.

Do you get embarrassed telling people about a friend you only know via the web?

For your music today I have Soluna Samay who made it to the Eurovision finals. I’m sad that she’s trained herself to sing in English without the accent. The outfits are odd, not sure what if any look they are going for.

I am out of town, we’re taking all the work kids to beach then I go to a drug awareness workshop so I won’t be back until June 22nd. Please leave comments, I promise to respond as soon as I get back!

Being self-centered rocks!

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Today during yoga I was totally self-centered. It was just about me and my mat.

I didn’t think about how I looked to others.

Or how I was doing compared to the teacher.

I let go of my desire to push myself trying to prove the tubby middle aged woman does belong in the class.
And while I made a note that I need a tank top under my shirt, I didn’t worry about who could see down it.
Instead I just did yoga. Not perfect, awe-inspiring yoga. My yoga. Yoga that pushed my boundaries and help me connect to my body. Yoga that I did with my eyes closed half the time because it helps me keep my weight even on both sides of my body.

I felt at peace after yoga. I was sweaty, stinky, a bit shaking, and totally happy because I had taken time to be self-centered and focus on me.

It made me wonder what other things should I do while completely focused on me. How could I improve on things if I managed to set aside time and space to do them completely focused on me and not trying to manage kids, keep an eye on dinner, and write.

What about you? Are you ever self-centered? How does it help you?

The song for today is Falling Slowly from the movie Once. I’m sure I’ve used it before, but I just adore it!

Help me Read Your Books!!!

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This is for ALL authors, so please listen up, this could mean the difference from my downloading your book and actually reading and reviewing it!

When I download books onto my Kindle Fire, I rarely just download one. So as I browse, get hooked by covers, read blurbs, and then buy, who knows how many will wind up in my Kindle that day?

Unlike a regular Kindle, the Fire doesn’t have a way to sort books, which I would do when I bought them if it did. Are you listening Amazon developers? I want to sort my books on my Kindle Fire.

Anyway, after reading Kristen Lamb’s WANA book, I realized it had been ages since I had read any YA books! I know I’ve downloaded a bunch. So I begin to scroll through my bookshelves and this is where the problem begins.

I can’t remember by title and author which books are YA, okay well maybe a few of them, but not most of them.

So I click on them, and I get the first chapter, which is okay, but what would be great? The blurb. Put your blurb on the first page of your ebooks! This way I know what I have bought and why.

If you are traditionally published, ask your agent and/or editor about doing this. If I don’t remember why I bought the book and it doesn’t grab me right away, or if it doesn’t fit my mood ,I move on. And instead of remembering why I got it I’m left with the feeling of not liking it.

THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT IF YOU HAVE A PROLOGUE!!!! Yes, that did need to be in all caps. Quite a few of the books I searched through had prologues, which is either from the main characters past or way back in the past. I won’t know which until I get to chapter one. So I flip through the pages (one prologue was so long I gave up) to find Chapter One and then try to figure out if the book is YA.
This leaves me feeling frustrated by your book, which isn’t want you want.

Please, I am begging on my knees, help me change the way ebooks are formatted, put your blurb on the first page. Help me read your book!

Because it’s Monday- and I think I forgot last Monday I have music for you! It’s ‘I’m a Joker’ by Anri Jokhadze who is the first man to represent Georgia in the Eurovioson song contest! What do you think? Would you vote for him?

Statues and Swedish Pop

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My blog posts that are ready to go are on my laptop- which isn’t working, so yesterday afternoon when I realized I didn’t have one prepped I panicked. I’d been up till 1am the nigh before woke a bit before 6am and worked all day- so my brain is basically mush. So I turn to youtube in the hopes of finding something moving/ gross/ funny whatever to entertain you.
Okay so I have combined my need to research with posting something for today. Here is a video of a couple performing statue, I need to write this from the woman’s POV not sure how I’m going to do that just yet, but hopefully it works out well.

And because it’s Monday we need to have music, so here is the Swedish Eurovison Song Contest performer Loreen with Euphoria. I like the song, the dance is very different- seems like a modern dance which is something I’m not use to with a pop song. What do you think?

I Am Not Perfect

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I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shocking news . . . Better? good. As you know, I have recently published my first novel, which much to my surprise has not blazed across the literary sky crashed to earth and changed our very history.

However, it has been a major catalyst of growth. Not only putting myself out to the world to be judged(ACK!), but learning to let go, trust and face my biggest fear. People have found mistakes. *GASP* I wanted to melt like Elphaba in Oz when Dorothy threw water on her.

But nothing happened.

This was huge for me, because grammar and such is my weakest point, although I must point out the mistakes are things I should have caught, a word that should be plural that wasn’t, an ‘a’ that needed to be in the sentence. Stuff like that.

One problem with being self- published is I’m the only one to blame. At first I tried to be cool about it. It was a friend who gently mentioned it to me. Kind of a whispered, hey your zipper is down comment, one of love and not wanting me to show the world my undies.

So I’m pretending to be cool, then I didn’t get enough sleep, which means my brain starts to spiral down into depression while listing every mistake I have ever made in the past twenty years. This can go on for hours.

So, I forced myself to go to yoga and hated most of the class. I have never hated yoga before, but the teacher was challenging us, and my arms began to burn during the first down dog. See why sleep is important? Then she kept doing high lunge, which is not my pose. I almost cried several times. Had I been at a yoga studio I might have but this is a yoga class at the gym and so I sucked it up.
The teacher says something about going at your own pace, and how challenging these poses are, and that she’s proud of how well we’re doing. And it clicks. It’s more important that I show up, try, and work to improve then being perfect.

I will admit, because we’re all such close friends, that I did wrestle with myself over continuing to wallow in self-pity and pouting for the rest of the day or really accepting this new found grow-up wisdom and moving on. Before class was over I was feeling good again.

Writing, revising, and publishing a book is hard work, and I have learned a lot and will continue to learn a lot. I now have a new plan for editing so hopefully I’ll find these before my book gets to the reader. I am not selling perfection I am selling, I hope, a great story. Now I have read my book out loud (again) and corrected the mistakes I found, because while perfection isn’t the goal, improving is. To keep my fears of failure at bay I remind myself that I wrote 98,000 words, so even if 10% of them are wrong that’s still an ‘A’ 🙂

So if any of you enjoyed my story but felt you couldn’t give it a good review because of the mistakes email me, I’d love to give you a copy of the new improved Phoenix Child for your enjoyment. I don’t promise perfection, but improvement. And for those of you who enjoyed my story and were able to overlook my mistakes, thank you.

How do you deal with failure? Have you ever been afraid of something and then had it happen?

And to lighten our Monday some fun music, these women from Russia are too cute!

Naps = Awesomeness

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I love naps. Not only do they help me feel better, but they also make me feel indulgent because not everyone is lucky enough to be able to nap during the day. As a writer, I think napping is important because it allows my subconscious mind room to plot and plan. It also keeps me from turning into a grumpy bitch when I have stayed up late writing, plotting my next novel, reading a book, talking to my teenager (why does he only want to talk after 9pm?) or possibly maybe staying up watching a Firefly marathon.

I’m giddy when I go to take a nap, smiling and jumping onto the bed and snuggling under the covers. Naps are a very happy part of my day.

One interesting fact, at least it’s interesting to me, I don’t move when I nap. I don’t know why. I lie on my side, fall asleep and wake up in the same position. If I can keep napping, I move then, but while I’m sleeping I don’t move. Why? I’m all comfy in bed, so why don’t I shift while I’m napping? I move around when I sleep at night. It’s just weird, and this morning, while I’m too tired to work on my WIP, it seems interesting enough to be a blog post.
Do you need anything special when you nap?

Today’s music Monday is the Romanian contest for the Song Contest and a little eye candy of the female kind 🙂

Luck 7 meme

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Lucky Seven Meme
Okay I was tagged by Rhonda Hopkins and Lani Wendt Young and just last night Lesann Berry in the luck 7 meme.

The rules are:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines ( sentences or paragraphs) and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 writers and let them know.
So here is my piece for book two of the Phoenix Child series- I don’t have a title yet. It’s raw- not even fixed from critique group yet- so no grammar comments please. 🙂

“It is you,” said a sweet voice as cool hand grabbed my arm.

I started to pull away until I recognized Braids. “Hello.”

“I can’t believe I found you. I hoped I would. My family wants to thank you for saving me. I’m Alanna by the way.” she said in one breath as she tugged me away from the crowd.

“Sapphire, and I really didn’t do all that much,” I said, walking with her. “There’s no need to do anything.”

“You obviously don’t know what you saved me from.” Alanna turned to look at me and stopped. Her hands dropped and I felt this muddled wave of emotion: embarrassment, excitement, and awe. “I’m sorry. Please, will you come with me?”

“Wait? What? You haven’t done anything wrong.” I was hoping for a normal teenage day, shopping, eating out, maybe noticing a cute boy here and there and then getting yelled at back at home. Do other people have crazy just pop up all the time or is it just me? Maybe attracting crazy is one of my phoenix gifts.

Seven MEME Questions have to be Answered as well…

1. What is your dream vacation? Hubby says my answer should be- Anything where I am pampered non-stop, which might be true. But if we are talking dreams, then a vacation that doesn’t end, I would love to be able to travel the world which would take a really long time.

2. Are you spontaneous? Or do you like to plan? I am not spontaneous at all. Any sudden changes upset me. I have gotten better my current job has given me no choice.

3. One thing you want to do, but don’t dare do? Anything spontaneous where I can’t be certain of the outcome. I love reading stories about people who sell all their crap and run off and live in South America or India or where ever had just trust in the Universe and have these amazing adventures. I want to be that person but I don’t know that I will ever be.

4. What’s your biggest phobia? Being out of control- not like I personally freak out, but being under the control of strangers or people who are cruel.

5. If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you want with you? (not including your laptop or family.) Real answer- a boat, cases of water, and ships captain because I don’t know how to sail. Fun answer- several cases of chocolate, a case of condoms, and a VERY good reason to need the condoms.

6. Name three blessings in your life. My family, esp. my husband he puts up with my crazy. My critique group, trust me you don’t want to be reading the first draft. And Kilian Metcalf, who has given so much of her time and energy into helping me get my books ready for the world.

7. What was your nickname in high school? Red- I have red hair it’s not that interesting.

8. If you could meet the President of the US what would you say to him? If you didn’t have to jump through all these hoops and get things passed through congress and such what would you like to change?

9. If you could be any literary character for a day, who would you be? Anita Blake- she gets to have lots of sex with lots of very beautiful men- I could work with that. She also get to be a bad ass and shoot things.

10. A favorite quote? “Its mind over matter, if you don’t mind it doesn’t matter.”

Okay now time to pick others. Eep, if you don;t want to play that’s fine but …

Myndi Shafer

Sonia G Medeiros

Elaine Charton

Patricia Yager Delagrange

Debra Kristi

August McLaughlin

Kilian Metcalf

And because it’s Monday we have to have some Music! Nina Zilli will represent Italy in this years Euroviosn Song Contest.

Go ahead and pimp yourself

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It’s not often I decide that I have something writerly to share. Today, however is your lucky day 🙂 As I have gotten ready for the release of my book, I have offered to do interviews and asked other bloggers if I could be on their sites. I had many people offer to be let me be on their sites, but fewer asking to be interviewed or doing a guest blog. Why? I don’t bite.

I think people are afraid to put themselves out there, as if they are being judged for having the audacity to feel they are worthy of being on someone’s blog. I know I felt the same way.

This is silly. Not only do I get to learn more about someone, which could easily turn into a character in a book one day, I also get a blog post I don’t have to figure out on my own, and I have gotten at least one new follower for every interview I have done.

Yes, I want to help my fellow authors, and yes I am a blessed saint for doing so, but I also get a lot in return. So the next time some offers you a chance to be on the blog don’t be all shy and nervous, jump at the chance!

Now this part is just personal opinion, but I like interviews that help me get to know the author better.

I don’t want to know more about their process. I’m a writer I understand how it works.

Desperately type words to make word count.

Ignore that they’re crap and move onto the next chapter.

Read and edit finished book wondering what drugs you were taking at the time, patch it the best you can, offer to critique group and try not to cry as they tell you it needs to be re-written.

Throw a temper tantrum.

Rewrite the damn things, take back to group, more editing and revising, lather, rinse, repeat. I won’t get into publishing because that part can be even more of an emotional roller coaster.

Isn’t this how everyone writes?

To prepare for doing my interviews I sat down and thought of 30 questions. Okay, boy child and hubby helped. They’re odd, some have to do with books, some zombies, some food, whatever, but all of them help the reader get to know the guests as people better, which gives them the chance to feel connected to the reader.

When someone agrees to be interviewed by me, I send out the whole list and let them pick what they want to answer. If there are things they want to talk about which are not on the list, then they go ahead and make up questions for themselves.

See it’s not so hard, and it’s fun. As the host I read through them, troll the internet for picks to brighten everything up, and voila! a blog post.

Now for your Monday Music