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Free reading from me

First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who has downloaded their free ebook copy of Sigyn's Flowers so far this year. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Please be kind and let me know what you think!

That said, when it comes to original material, Sigyn's Flowers, and possibly The Re-Naming of Marcus Anthony James, will be my only free, original stories (unless you participate in the cosplay giveaway). This is something I've been reflecting on, and I still write fanfiction. I receive no money whatsoever for writing fanfiction. That is my for fun, for me, for community writing. As of right now, I have no plans to tear down my fanfiction persona on either fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org. If people want to read anything for free by me, they can read my fanfiction.

This might seem like arrogance on my part, and perhaps it is, to state no more free original material from me. I know a lot of indie authors do this. They publish a series, and they make the first book for free to draw in people. I had

I had actually considered doing this. Because it's "the thing" to do for indies. It's what all of the indie authors are doing . . .

I've never really done well going down the same path as others. I have free fiction available. It's always been available. Yes, it's fanfiction, it's basically free promotion for products and companies like Marvel and Star Ocean, but it's out there. It's available for free. It's just not on Kindle or NOOK. So I will not be making Portal to Gaming available for free ebook download.

And, yes, this is a stance I need to take for myself. I do put a lot of effort into my writing, both fanfiction and original. Both areas have value in my life, both are meant for the enjoyment of others, but, when it comes to original, I do deserve to be paid for the time and effort into the process. This is hours of agony, self-torment, self-doubt, pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, butt in the seat because I am that dedicated to the story, oh my gods where did this idea come from I like it moments.

I walk my own path, guys. It's what works best for me. I will have free stories. On fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org. And deviantArt. I don't like to be exclusive that way.

Updates - yeah, my characters keep surprising me. I love it. They'll be in trouble before too much longer, and I will gladly sip my tea with Loki as my cohort in crime.

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August Convention Decided

In one of my previous entries, I mentioned a conflicting desire between attending Otakon 2017 and GenCon 2017. Unless I receive quite the substantial windfall ($500+ a week for tips, $500+ a month in book sales, and a lottery windfall of a substantial amount - something I'd told my best friend when we discussed this), I'm simply unable to afford attending both. Otakon is the weekend of August 11-13, and GenCon is the following weekend. My dilemma arose in that, of the conventions I've chosen to attend (and have registered for), only one is a convention I've attended (Tokyo in Tulsa), and I'm returning because I happen to live here in Tulsa. It helps the convention center is like a 5 minute drive away from where I live.

I've taken some time, consulted my best friend on the matter, and I've decided to make the return to Otakon. It's a bit further for a drive for me, but the pull of nostalgia draws me. And, no, I did not do "Eeny, meenie, miney mo" or "Bubblegum, bubblegum, in a dish" to make the decision. Nor did I draw the conventon's name out of a hat. (I'd have found some reason, I'm sure, to argue against the random chance-ness of the "winner".) I made my consultations, reflected on the matter, and decided with the information I had on hand.

I will be making a return to Otakon this upcoming summer. Right now, it will be attendee status only. Trying to get into Otakon's dealer and artist spaces are usually first come, first serve, and my server wages are just not enough to get that secured. With the exceptions of Tokyo in Tulsa and YoumaCon (final convention for 2017, unless I find one more after that to attend, and I have some major plans in mind for both), I'm more interested in attendee status for Shuto, Anime St. Louis, and Otakon. It gives me a little more freedom to attend some of the more interesting panels and allows for me to arrange meet ups with people interested in my work in original fiction and with the Star Ocean community (my biggest geek passion). Given what I've just learned about some of the latest happenings for Star Ocean, I'm about to geek out big time. It definitely makes me glad I'm cosplaying as Fayt for the conventions. It's a variant, for the moment, but that doesn't mean I won't be expanding on him!

I'll be working on getting the registration done for Otakon within the next month. Once I'm registered, I'll announce that particular confirmation. The same goes for YoumaCon.

As far as conventions go, I'm also aiming to conduct a panel or two at Tokyo in Tulsa and at YoumaCon. I need to solidify some ideas and present them to the convention organizers. When I know anything for certain, I will announce it immediately on facebook.

I'll announce times in which I'm available to meet people at ShutoCon. There are some panels and photoshoots I want to attend, and I will definitely have books and bookmarks on hand!

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Of these movies, one is hitting DVD/blu-Ray in the next week or so if it hasn't already been released (Doctor Strange), one is in theaters (The Great Wall), and one is due out in theaters sometime this year (Ghost in the Shell). These movies are in some quite . . . spirited (we'll go with spirited) discussions. These discussions are centered on casting choices.

In Doctor Strange, the role of the Ancient One went to Tilda Swinton. The story put her as old (the one guy, when telling Strange about her, couldn't even say how old the Ancient One was, only that she was Celt), despite her youthful appearance. I went to see Doctor Strange in the theaters. That was actually discussed in the movie.

People have their knickers in a twist over this. The reasons for it have me, well, not happy. (Yes. We'll go with unhappy.)

People are upset that the Ancient One was portrayed by a WHITE woman. Please note the fact it isn't necessarily a woman in the role that has everyone upset but that she's WHITE. In a role allegedly designed for an Asian. Ironically, I feel quite certain some of those same people complaining about Swinton's casting would also be complaining about Hollywood stereotyping the role. Kind of a lose/lose situation. (Yet no one said anything about Idris Elba playing Heimdall, a historical figure in a work of fiction who happens to be the whitest white guy in the Norse pantheon, and Elba is African-American, obviously. No complaints about his casting on my part. He was actually a fantastic choice, but he does stick out in Asgard like a sore thumb. Onwards.)

On a personal and creative level, I find this outrage over Tilda Swinton's casting of the Ancient One and people screaming bull sh-t over Marvel's change of cannon (they own it, they have the right to change it) for the Ancient One's origins to be more than a little insulting. Not because they're screaming foul over what is perceived whitewashing but over their own stereotyping. By saying bull shi-t to the Celtic background, to me, implies that the only cultures who can have Ancient Ones, masters of sorcery and magic, are the Chinese and Japanese, maybe even the Koreans. Let's just lump all of Asia into that. It's an unintentional implication that the Celts didn't have pagan roots, that the Norse, the Germans, Egyptians, South Africans, and the Native Americans throughout North and South America were somehow inherently always Christian and thus never having these beliefs in magic and in being gate-keepers against the forces of evil that would destroy our planet.

As a writer, I do like to think of how a person becomes what s/he becomes, and, for Doctor Strange, I see the journey of the Ancient One as transcendental. Tilda's Ancient One learned from another Ancient One was probably Chinese or even Hindu. A person from Africa or from a Native American tribe could have made that same journey as the Celtic Ancient One and become the Ancient One. It is not a role one is born with but a role one acquires through who knows what.

So I personally feel it wouldn't have mattered if the Ancient One had been cast as George Takei, Tilda Swinton. or Rhiana. People would have found a reason to complain about this particular casting choice because the role would have been A - Stereotyped (Takei), B - Whitewashed (Swinton - already being said), or C - Done to be Politically Correct aka Another Token Person of Color Character (Rhiana).

I would love to have an open, civil discussion over the possibilities of the Ancient One from Doctor Strange with people who clam the role should have gone to a Chinese or Japanese actor. Because that is my question: Are you actually helping Chinese and Japanese actors land better, leading roles in Hollywood by saying they must be in certain types of roles at all times? Or are you generalizing and stereotyping based on something that's been done for years?

Second in the discussion of alleged whitewashing is The Great Wall. Don't worry. It didn't actually happen. Matt Damon plays a character that was actually meant to be white. Is there some white savior complex going on with this movie? Hardly. It's kind of one of those situations where he could turn tail and run but still face death anyway, or aid in the defense of a kingdom, especially defenders who have been stuck in one place for pretty much their entire lives. The writer of the story always had the role intended for a white person, Damon's a self-proclaimed fan of the director, and the director also wanted him on the film.

Like I said the other day in my updates entry, don't go expecting it to be an action flick because it has Damon. It is not.

Finally, I get to Ghost in the Shell.

I've never really been a fan of Ghost in the Shell. That's more my brother and sister and my best friend. I have, however, become acquainted with several different anime and manga series since my second year of college, when I started hanging out with people in their late teens, early twenties, compared to my mid-twenties. I've actually encountered a bit of variety in characters from Japanese pop culture, and one thing I have noticed is some of the manga-kas like to do unusual characters. Genjo Sanzo from Saiyuki is actually Chinese, but he has blond hair and violet eyes. His traveling companions are considered demons, and they don't look typical, either. Sha Goyjo is half-human, half-demon with bright red hair and bright red eyes. Cho Hakkai has the light brown hair and green eyes. Goku, our little monkey king, has brown hair and golden eyes, a sign of being a born heretic in the mythos of this story line.

Bear with me here. I have a couple more examples of the variety in Japanese mangas and animes before I get back to Ghost in the Shell.

I love Saiyuki. I love Trigun. Vash the Stampede has blond hair, blue eyes. My best friend loves Hellsing, which takes place in London, if I'm not mistaken. I love Gravitation and FAKE, both yaoi mangas. FAKE is set in New York, Gravitation in Tokyo with some parts in New York. In FAKE, everyone is American (obviously), and only one person has Japanese descent (Randy 'Ryo' MacLean - my apologies if I got his last name wrong. It's been a while). Gravitation, Eir 'Yuki' Uesugi is full Japanese but does not look full Japanese with blond hair and lighter eye color. (Tohma can be explained as possibly dying his hair blond and wearing contacts to make his eyes blue-green.)

Of course, there are the feudal style mangas out there, Inuyasha and Rurouni Kenshin. For Inuyasyha, Rumiko Takahashi has claimed that Kagome's dad was Canadian. That's why she originally had blue eyes, which is not a normal eye color for anyone of Japanese descent.

Now I'm not going to touch on the likes of Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, or even some of the video games I've played where the characters are obviously not of Japanese descent. Rather, I'm going to get back to Ghost in the Shell and the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Motoko.

While I'm not a fan of Ghost in the Shell, I have done my research. Motoko isn't even human. Motoko is an artificial intelligence, a cyborg, an android, and anything else you wish to describe her, but she is not human. She might have the memories of a human, but that doesn't make her human, at least on the flesh and biology aspect.

That expands the casting choices for Motoko. Motoko doesn't have to be white. Motoko doesn't even have to be Japanese. Motoko just needs to be female. And if people want to point to Motoko's name as proof of her Japanese-ness, I call b.s. on that logic, mainly because it presumes that only Japanese people have Japanese names. No. Japanese people do pick European/American names for their children. I'm certain there are a number of white Americans, people like me who are enamored with Japanese culture, who would name their kids Japanese names. I know female cosplayers who go by Japanese names, and they're not Japanese in the slightest. And, since Motoko's creator in the series is probably Japanese, s/he gave her a Japanese name. That does not make Motoko 100% Japanese. A cyborg is not 100% any culture. And to imply that there are no Americans or Canadians or other Europeans (or even Africans, South Americans, etc . . .) living in Japan is kind of foolhardy. I do feel like that is what people who are complaining about and judging Ghost in the Shell are doing. Whether that's actually what they're doing, I don't know. I admit it. I don't know, but text-based conversations do leave a lot of room to be desired.

From Wikipedia on Motoko: Since she has a full cybernetic body, she is not certain her "ghost" retains any humanity and speculates on the possibility that she is entirely synthetic, with artificially generated memories designed to fool her into thinking she was once human. Throughout the movie, she seeks to find answers to her questions and finally meets the Puppet Master, a rogue AI who became sentient and who is also looking for existential meaning. In the climax of the film, Kusanagi and the Puppet Master "merge" to form an entirely new entity that exists free of physical boundaries and propagate itself through the Net.

Now, those who are upset about the casting of ScarJo as Motoko can say whatever they want. I question how much they do know about Ghost in the Shell. I have the whole internet to use to find out what I need to know about a character for any given series. I do know people who do like tihs show, whose opinions on ScarJo's casting I would love to hear. I'm just not into condemning a movie I haven't seen based on casting choices.

Then again, I also have no problems watching Japanese and Korean horror films.

In subtitles.

I found Uzumaki to be more funny than scary. A Tale of Two Sisters was disturbing. Hero, starring Jet Li, was amazing.

With all of that said, yes, I do want to see more diversity in films. And, with the internet, I know how to find it.

Thanks for bearing with me on this. I believe roles should go to the actors and actresses who can best portray the character. And in fiction (please note the word "fiction" here), pretty much anyone can play a given character.

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, guys!

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