The Publishing Decision

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The time is drawing near.

 

I’ve cut entire chapters, added in new ones, got feedback from some people I respect (and some new people I’ve added to that list) and forked out a bit of cash to an artist to get a front cover done.

 

The plan up until now was to do a digital version, hopefully make enough of a noise through my existing networks, and then approach a publisher or manager to see if we could get it turned into an actual paperback novel (which is really the end goal for me).

 

But, as I’ve started seeding the battlefield, I’ve started thinking that maybe I should go the full-frontal assault and do a paperback through my own steam. There are a few services that would do that for me, and I think that I could probably even sell the smallest production run exclusively at Komiket (those guys just buy anything…).

 

So now, I’m thinking that maybe I should go that route. I know that not everyone checks out this blog, but amongst those that do, which would you prefer? Digital with the possibility of a paperback in future, or paperback from the outset?

At this point, I’m thinking less than US$5 for a digital; a paperback will be about US$20 I think (I need to do more research).

So, what do you all think? I would do a poll here but I have no idea how to do that in the new WordPress interface, so please just leave comments below.

 

Cheers

The Easter Egg Edition

Edit: There were two things that I forgot – so apologies to the 150 or so people that missed them! I blame late night flights.

So, on New Year’s Eve at Komiket, I was eavesdropping on a fan talking to Hir, the Japanese Translation Group’s leader. It basically was a question that I’ve heard a bunch of times over:

“How the heck do you read Iwanako?”

I was too far away from the conversation to jump in and talk, and the fan walked away quickly, so I didn’t have the chance to explain. Hir later approached me and asked why we used such a non-Japanese name.

The answer is simple. Iwanako isn’t Japanese; at least not in my head. Iwanako is a bastardisation of a Polish girl’s name. I won’t name her to protect the innocent (and also to protect myself from a major arse-whooping should she ever find out), but I had a crush on her at the time of writing the opening to KS, so I threw the name in. Of course, being a non-Japanese name caused some concern for the translation team. In the dev group we never paid it much mind; it seemed as legit as any other ****ko name so it survived right up until the final release. It was only when the first parts of the script made it to Japan that anyone noticed, and they started using the Kanji for “Stonefish” for the “Iwana” part of the name – hence the “Stonefish Girl” popping up on 2chan.

I’m sure that every writer or artist has put part of their own backstory into their works when they have needed to insert something trivial, and I thought that I had made a list of these in the past. However, looking at my posts, I can’t see anything.

So, here are the other Easter Eggs that I know that I put into Katawa Shoujo. I believe that some of them have been deleted but I think some have stayed.

Hisao’s Room. A  simple one that for some reason sticks with me. Hisao’s room is modeled on my dorm room at my University, including the room number. The original directions to Lilly/Hanako’s rooms were also taken from a few of my female friend’s rooms from the same period.

The Pool. Again, drawing from my uni days, the pool is something that I thought we needed to include. I went to the Defence Academy in Australia (similar to West Point for the Americans among us). Whilst it wasn’t a school for the differently abled, it certainly had a focus on physical activity. The pool was the focus of many of our physical training sessions, and so it seemed logical to me to have a pool, even though it was never used.

Shameless (at the time) self-insertion. At the beginning of the project I was probably no better than a teenage fanfic writer when it came to character development. I was also a Hanabro and had the whole “wow, I’m a bit socially isolated so I am totally like Hanako” mindset. So the original Hanako that appeared in Grid 1 was a sound engineer. I drew upon my high school experiences in amateur theatre and put that directly into Hanako.

Thankfully the other writers revolted at such obvious self-insertion and we removed all reference to it. However, some vestiges remained, like the references to karaoke and the excessive drinking (in a veeeeery deleted Act 2 scene, Lilly takes Hisao and Hanako onto a boat and Hanako drinks to excess in an attempt to relax her social anxiety. Protip: This didn’t work for her, it has never worked for me, and it most likely won’t   work for you in the long run.)

The Tile Game. Once we had excised all of my character from Hanako, we had to re-fill her character with something of interest. I can’t remember who it was, but someone said that I needed to make Hanako more real and relate-able. I wasn’t really sure how to do that at the time, so i sneakily put in another thing that I do quite often; the Tile Game. It was disguised as something strange and uncommon, but I think that everyone does something like this.
There are a couple of other versions of this that I do (and thus I imagine that Hanako would do).

The Life of Pi. Most of the books in the Hanako Path we basically the book that I was reading at the time. There wasn’t any real meaning to putting them in there, but I read Life of Pi a few years before the movie so it was relatively unknown at the time.

Hinamizawa. I’ve mentioned a few times that I was obsessed with Higurashi at the time of writing KS (I still am to a degree) so there were a few references in there, however the most obvious one is the “Road from School” image, which is the road that leads into Shirakawa-go, the village which is named Hinamizawa in Higurashi.

“Yamaku” is also a mis-translation of “Yamainu”; one of the competing forces in Higurashi. I was in a failed translation effort of the game, and we used “Yamaku” for a long time before someone pointed it out. As a nod to that group I kept the name for the school.

Sendai Castle. Somehow, in the process of deciding where to base Yamaku High, we decided upon Sendai. I think we thought that having it in a major metropolitan area would be difficult, but it would need to be near a semi-major city in order to have the medical facilities that were required.

After we made that decision I spent 2 days of my first trip to Japan exploring Sendai, and many of the “city” backgrounds in the game come from that trip. (My friends had no idea that this is why we were there).

The school is set in the location of the ruins of Sendai Castle. I caught a bus up the hill to the castle site and then walked back from there to Sendai City (a long distance). After that trip I returned and wrote the detailed description of the school’s environment, and apart from a few changes to match the photos, they pretty much stayed. In 2015 Suriko actually went to Sendai and got a photo of him “being Lilly” in the exact same spot as one of the scenes from the game.

Burns and the Burn Ward. My dad worked in a hospital for most of his life, including about 20 years in the casualty/emergency wards. I once asked him about the worst thing that he had ever seen, and he told me about a man that was camping with a friend. His friend fell asleep with a lit cigarette, and the man’s nylon sleeping bag caught fire and melted to his skin. Somehow he survived but the descriptions form my dad were used in the original drafts of the Hanako script (but I think that none of them survived to the final edition).

I also did work experience in the cancer ward in my dad’s hospital, which was adjacent to the burn ward, so I used some of those descriptions when describing Hisao’s hospital experience.

Sex. The initial sex scene for Hanako, which is mostly destroyed now, was based on my first time. It was with an older and more experienced co-worker, but this made it come off as “too good” for a bunch of first timers…

The Bad End. So, to have a bit of a ying/yang thing here, I ended up completely misreading some signals from “Iwanako” during the writing of KS. I made some foolish (amateurish, really) moves and basically resulted in the Real Iwanako rejecting me hard. This was one of the main motivations for the bad ending (of course, there were a different set of circumstances there; but that is another story for another time. Probably drunk and alone on IRC…)

 

Ok, so that is it!

I hope you learnt something. Hir; I told you I put this up somewhere, and now it is here!

 

A hint from Aura

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I’m not sure why, but for some reason I take Aura’s advice on writing more seriously than most others.

So when he agreed to read the penultimate draft of Arctic Gale (and found it “ok”)  I was pretty pleased.

However, he did share with me the following link:

If all stories were written like Sci-fi

It’s a good reminder that, in Aura’s words, “things that are common to your characters shouldn’t be portrayed as magical.”

On one hand, it is a bit of the antithesis of the Murakami, “if the reader doesn’t understand something then describe it completely” point of view, but after reading the above passage I get what they were going for.

I’m hoping that I can find that balance.

Comiket 89

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Comiket at Tokyo Big Sight.

This is the place where all of those comics, games, music and Anime are made.

This is my second time here, and thankfully this time I had a Circle Ticket (for people selling stuff) so no waiting in the crowd this time.

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The crowd at Comiket 88 (summer). I think there are about 50,000 people in this photo...

I’ll try and get some impressions through the day but the big news this time is that the “Katawa Shoujo Japanese Translation Project” is now officially “4LS Japan”.

Feels good to be a part of that.

Many thanks to Hir for setting this up and pretty much single-handedly doing the JP translation.

Anyway, doors open in 30 minutes and then a flood of 100,000 will charge at us.

If you happen to be here, come on by – East Hall, YU-46a

Christmas, Death, New Novel

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Ok, so I am mad.

I’ve had a few proof readers look at Arctic Gale, including Aura (and hopefully also Silentcook) from 4LS, so I’ll be going back and editing it before finally releasing it as a digital book. That will be a fun day.

In order to help clean up this blog’s navigation, I’ve put up a PDF of the first draft of Arctic Gale instead of having the individual chapters. This will remain here, even after the “paid” version comes out.

But, before I even get to that, I had a flash of inspiration a few weeks ago and I’ve started on Arctic Gale 2. I know that only about 10 people have made it through the full story, but without another degree to study, I had to do something…!

 

One comment that I hear repeated a bit about AG is that there is very little view on the society around Kate and her friends; and this is really a hard thing to do with a bunch of people on the run. By definition, they need to hide from society; especially one where there is pervasive surveillance….

 

But looking at this from another angle, like through Wingett’s eyes, will let me explore that, so that should be fun. So I’ve started that off with a topic that really jars me – capital punishment. Before I spoil you, please go and check out Chapter 1 of Arctic Gale 2 (I’ll come up with a better title late).

The Death Penalty

Let me start by saying that I am totally against the death penalty. It’s a view I’ve held from a young age, when I had a school assignment on “celebrations,” and somehow I managed to convince my partner that we should do “executions” as the topic. I’ve got no idea why I thought that it was a good idea, but I’m kind of wishing that I didn’t. I think that I just wanted to do something different (another one of those defining traits for me).

It’s not only the fact that you can’t bring anyone back from the dead (in the case of the falsely imprisoned, of which history has many cases), but also the clinical nature of executions. Even the general attitude of executions freaks me out. “We’re going to kill someone, so let’s find the most effective solution.” Who honestly thinks that this is a good questions to ask yourself?

 

But, more than anything, I think my main complaint with the death penalty is empathy with the condemned. Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that the child-murderers and psychotic killers should be left to roam the streets. And I know that losing a close family member or loved one is heart-wrenching, so I also understand that there would be a level of catharsis in having a killer killed.

Yet, if I put myself in the shoes of the condemned I start to tremble in fear. To know the exact moment of your death, and to not be able to fight against it, seems non-human to me. I’m not sure how to explain it. Of course, you may say that these people have lost their right to humanity… but whatever.

 

Tl;dr, the death penalty freaks me out, and yet I’m drawn to it somehow. I did a lot of research for AG2-Ch1 and it shook me a little.

 

Christmas in Japan

Thankfully for me though, it’s Christmas! And for the first time in forever, it’s cold at Chrsitmas. Later I’m going to take a walk in Tokyo just so that I can have a “cold” Christmas. It’s also very weird to have everything, including banks, open on the 25th. It’s almost a non-event, apart from the massive lines at KFC where people are buying Christmas dinners and the cake shops in the department stores making record sales.

There are many illumination sites as well, and when Japan does something, they go all-in. Maybe I’ll take my camera with me and go for a stroll tonight – or, more likely, I’ll enjoy this non-working work day and watch some TV.

 

 

So, thanks to everyone who has commented and helped with Arctic Gale. I’m really hoping that I can get the final copy up on Amazon by the end of January. And then starts the new journey, 1/40th or so complete, of Matthew Wingett and Oscar Cole.

 

 

Merry Christmas

Words!

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My old Thesaurus had 300,000 alternative entries; this one has 600,000. I’m a little excited to give it a try.

Not that I often find the word I’m looking for in a thesaurus, but it is a kick to the memory and often I remember what I was looking for in the first place.

Hopefully this has alternatives for “staccato” and “susseration” as I use those entirely too much…