Wednesday, March 29, 2017

About The Trip

I went to Japan on March 16th and came back to New York on March 27th. That was the trip.

I didn't mean to be cryptic about going to Tokyo, but there were some familial circumstances that made it necessary to keep things on the down-low social media wise. But I'm reasonably sure none of the multitude of Japanese relatives read my blog, so I'll be writing a few posts over the next few weeks related to the trip.

The last time I went to Japan, I was ten years old, so Japan--and me--have changed a lot in the intervening two decades.

My family isn't from the Tokyo area, so in the past, at most, my time in Tokyo was limited to overnights before moving on to other parts of Japan, so to spend ten days exploring Tokyo was a real treat.

We went to Japan for a not-very-good reason: my grandmother died in January and we decided to bring her ashes back to Japan to be kept in the Buddhist temple the family belongs to, where my grandpa's ashes are also. But we ended up having a fun time there, too.

A few random-but-salient facts about Tokyo:

-Tokyo is Japan's capital city, but also one of its 47 prefectures, where there are 23 special wards, each administered like its own city, but all of it is part of Tokyo.

-Tokyo and its surrounding areas have a really good, incredibly punctual public transportation system. Unlike New York's, the trains and buses are on time, the stations and platforms and trains are clean (so clean), and the fares are calculated based on distance of travel, so you have to wave your pass thing over the turnstile machine quite often. The trains and buses do not run 24 hours, however.

-I can speak Japanese, but I can't read it. That is, I can read hiragana (but it takes a long time), katakana (which takes longer), and I can read "1st grade kanji," which I couldn't learn and remember when I was 5, never mind now that I'm 31.

-I have no concept of Japanese yen, except that 100 yen is about $1. Hence, the 100 yen shops were my fave places to shop.

-Japan is 13 hours ahead of New York, so, um, the jetlag is real. I slept for 18 hours on Tuesday. I kept wishing for this form of travel instead of a cramped airplane(s) for 15 hours getting there and 14 hours getting back.


Monday, March 27, 2017

I'm baacckkkk

Hey y'all,

I am home, I have been reunited with my computer, and I have a fresh set of new adventures to share with you all!

I feel like someone tied me up like a pretzel and since I jumped time zones, my internal clock is even more way off than usual. So recovery and laundry and unpacking to follow.

"Talk" soon,

Sunflower Michelle

Monday, March 13, 2017

Regency funerals, Cambridge riots, and a travel notice

In more random research...

I'm writing one story and researching/thinking about/percolating another story which actually has something like 30K already written but I've had on hold.

The one I've actually been writing is The New Bride of Banner's Edge. It's ostensibly a Regency romance, so it should be light and fun and frothy, but because this is me and I'm nothing if not a slightly warped soul, the new bride of the title begins the story a widow.

I hope the romance-y bit kicks in at some point.

So last week, I went through a Google search to figure out Georgian and Regency era English funeral and burial customs. I knew embalming began in the U.S. during the Civil War, but were bodies embalmed in 1804? Did they have funeral directors? And what about this idea that women didn't attend funerals?

Granted, this can be skimmed over in the interests of, well, getting to the romance-y bits, but the answers turned out to be: no, embalming wasn't a thing in England, the dead were washed and laid in a shroud in a coffin in a room in their house, and other facts and things I can't quite remember at the moment. Women often didn't attend funerals (because emotions in public=bad), but sometimes they did.

Jane's husband dies in Epsom, but he's buried in Kent, so that means the coffin needs to travel. It'll only take about a day or so of travel though, so I think it'll be okay.

The second thing I've researched recently is women's higher education, specifically in the late nineteenth century in England because I want a character in the Victorian story, Beatrice, to attend university. I'm duly reading a book called Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women To Fight For an Education right now.

There were women's colleges by the 1890s and many of the major universities in Britain granted women full degrees--except Oxford and Cambridge, which admitted women as students into women's colleges like St. Hilda's, Lady Margaret Hall, Somerville College (where Vera Brittain went), Girton, Newnham Hall and others. The female students were allowed to attend lectures at the universities, sit their exams, study full courses, but they weren't allowed to take degrees from Oxford or Cambridge.

I'm still a little shaky on what this means exactly, but basically, I think it means that they didn't get diplomas at the end.

In 1897, Cambridge University voted whether to include the female students at the various Cambridge-satellite women's college as full members of the university--to grant them full degrees and allow them to be part of the governing of the university.

In protest, the male students created an effigy of the typical female undergraduate on a bicycle, hung it outside of a building, and held banners saying things like "No Gowns For Girtonites" and "Varsity For Men."

And there's photographic evidence!

Look at this nonsense!

At any rate, the resolution did not pass and in celebration (no doubt drunken celebration), a crowd of men tore down the effigy, tore it to pieces, decapitated it, and then stuffed it through the locked gates of Newnham College.

Beatrice would be giving an elaborate eyeroll upon hearing this story.

Oh, also: this post will be my last for a while. I'm traveling overseas and won't be back until the end of March. I'll be back in April with news posts galore, I'm sure.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

No Rest For The Wicked by Krystal Jane Ruin: Cover Reveal


I'm thrilled to be part of the cover reveal tour for No Rest For The Wicked by Krystal Jane Ruin, aka Awesome Blog/Writing Buddy. It's her first book!

No Rest for the Wicked
Krystal Jane Ruin
Publication date: May 10th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal
Since her release from the psychiatric facility and into the smothering guardianship of her aunt, twenty-one-year-old psychic Tatum Torabi has been sneaking away to sell curses and plagues in the underground, a black market known for illegal and supernatural wares. 
Tatum’s unique abilities catch the attention of a hella-creepy trash peddler who offers her a job tracking down people who owe his boss “a favor.” She couldn’t be less interested, but when she refuses, the company forces her compliance by threatening the lives of the only family she has left. 
Because tracking barely scratches the surface of what they really want from her. There’s a reason Tatum is so good at making curses, and they want her to use those skills for a much darker purpose.

Author Bio:
Krystal Jane Ruin is the author of supernatural and paranormal fiction living in the Tennessee Valley. She can often be found knee deep in Sudoku and other puzzles, in a Youtube hole, or blogging about books, writing, and random things.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Smashwords Read an Ebook Week

Hey everyone,

From March 5th to March 11th, it is Smashwords' Read an Ebook Week.

A lot of books are on sale throughout the Smashwords site, including my own:

You can get "When Mary Left" for FREE with the coupon code SFREE. 

You can get Pearl for $1.50 (50% off) with the coupon code RAE50.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG March

It's the first Wednesday of March--that means it's IWSG Day!

The IWSG is a large support group of writers and we post every first Wednesday of the month, following the lead of the founder, Alex J. Cavanagh. Our co-hosts for March are IWSG will be Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it ever work out?

First, define "really old." Have I pulled out a story I wrote in college and reworked it? No. Book the First was pretty much the last gasp of anything I was holding onto from college.

But Pearl was basically a completely gutted and reworked version of a novel I wrote, which I'm now picking apart and expanding for other stories, because you don't actually need that crap novel to understand the stories, I think. The story was better from Pearl's POV.

Anything older than, say, the beginning of this blog isn't really worth revisiting. It's not complete; a lot of it is slapdash and I don't think I could really relate to the characters anymore, if indeed those characters were characters and not just my friends placed into a story.

Also, we don't talk about the reams of fanfiction I wrote pre-, during, and post-college.