Sunday, October 31, 2010

National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month
It’s that time of the year again, and I’m gearing up to participate in the National Novel Writing Month annual writing competition, affectionately called NaNoWritMo.
For those of you who don’t know, every year writers take on the task of creating a 50,000 word novel by writing about 1,600 words every day for the entire month of November. You can create your outline before the date, but absolutely no writing of the book should take place before November 1st. So if you’re interested now is the best time to pull out that novel premise you’ve been screwing around with and join the fun. But first you have to register at:
Last year was my first time entering and it had to be worth my while if I’m participating again this year.
Somewhere around ten last night I decided to give the heroine in my proposed novel a new career. Of course this just blew everything out of sync. Now I’m up at five in the morning on the day before the big event trying to reorganize my notes. This is so like me.
Last year I began writing with only an idea. I didn’t have an outline and I had to do the research on the subject as I went along. I chose to do a historical romance novel set in Egypt. Why do I do these things to myself?
This year I’m a little better prepared. I have an idea, know my characters and know how I want the story to begin and end. But I know me. I’ll start off with my prepared outline and I’ll go completely off the charts and write the story differently. Why do I do this? Because my characters usually take control and write the story they want the world to read.
Last year I wrote 5,000 words on the first day, which was pretty good when the goal was only 1,600 words. This year I’m not so confident since November 1st falls on a Monday, which is a work day for me, and I’ll be on a bus for two hours to and from work. Or, maybe I can use that to my advantage by writing while I’m riding. I don’t know. I have to see how things go.
What does it take to participate in NaNoWritMo? Well, it takes patience, determination and dedication to sit there and write with a goal in mind for a month. The hardest part is making sure you do it every day. I know life gets in the way some time so if you miss a day please try to catch up the next day. I generally do most of my writing in long hand first (got the callous on my finger to prove it) and then I type it up when I finish. Before I go to bed at night I enter the daily word count into the NaNoWritMo status counter box on my page. It’s fun to see the count go up every night.
What did I gain from last year’s experience? Well, I gained confidence that I could write and meet a deadline. I also discovered that I could write a book in a month if I set my mind to it. The hardest part for me was not editing the text as I went along. This is one of the rules. Editing is scheduled for the month of December. So if you make mistake just continue on.
What was the best part of participating in NaNoWritMo? The 50,000 word novel I completed.
A lot of people asked me what I did with the novel once I wrote it. Well the answer is after editing it in December 2009 I submitted it to a publisher and was awarded a contract. Last week I got my first royalty check for it. Not bad for just thirty days of doing what I love to do best…writing.
So doing the month of November I will keep you inform on how I’m doing.
Blog more later, and oh yeah, Happy Halloween.
Imari Jade

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You’re Beautiful – Drama Review
A South Korean idol romantic drama, depicting the behind-the-scene life of the A. N. Jell idol group, staring Park Shin Hye, Jang Geun Seuk, Lee Hong Ki and Jung Yong Hwa.
Sister (nun)-in-training, Gemma (Park Shin Hye) is coerced into posing as her twin brother Go Mi Nam while he’s recovering from a botched plastic surgery. Gemma or Mi Nyu reluctantly agrees to help Go Mi Nam’s manger in order to fill her dream of finding her mother who she has never met. Mi Nyu meets the three members of A. N. Jell, Hwang Tae Kyung (Jang Geun Seuk), Kang Shin Woo (Jung Young Hwa, leader of the pop group CNA Blue) and Jeremy (Lee Hong Ki, member of the pop group F. T. Island). In the very first episode Kang Shin Woo discovers that Mi Nam is really a girl. After an unfortunate accident Tae Kyung discovers it too and both take on the responsibility of protecting Mi Nyu's true identity.
Review – Yet another drama featuring a girl posing as a guy, yet not a bad job of acting by the lovely Park Shin Hye. I watched all sixteen episodes in three days and let me tell you I don’t regret it.
Jang Geun Seuk gave a superb performance as the vain, arrogant and spoiled leader of A. N. Jell, Hwang Tae Kyung. I found myself screaming at the screen at him for being so pig-headed but was later won over by that handsome face and pouting lips.
I also wanted to slap Mi Nyu silly for not falling for Kang Shin Woo, a young man who loved her and complimented her personality more than the whiny Tae Kyung.
But the first one I noticed was the blond-haired Jeremy. Kind of like what happened when I first saw Hero of DBSK rocking that platinum blond Mohawk. But after awhile I found his character a bit babyish one moment and then too motherly the next. Mi Nyu never had a clue about his feelings toward her but in my opinion that would have been a match made in pastel hell.
Emotions run rampart throughout this drama, which will help you understand the complex issues the two main characters faced. I liked the songs performed by A.N. Jell, especially both renditions of the song “What Do I Do?” performed by Park Shin Hye and Jan Geun Seuk. (But I like his version better.) He reminded me of one of those 50’s crooners, like Frank Sinatra…very effective to set the romantic tone.
So if you’re into goofy, unpredictable characters you’re going to love this romantic comedy. I give “You’re Beautiful” four fleur delis and no doubt this will be one drama I will watch again and again.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mischievous Kiss/Perfect Kiss - Review

Perfect Kiss/Mischievous Kiss (Review)
Overview - Clumsy high school senior Oh Ha Ni (Jung So Min) decides to tell her perfect four year crush Baek Seung Jo (Kim Hyun Joon of SS5501 Kpop Group) how she really feels about him so she writes him a letter and gives it to him at the end of the school year. Baek Seung Jo is handsome and a genius but very rude. He corrects the miss-spelled words in Ha Ni’s letter and then returns it to her and tells her that he could never date a dumb girl.
And as things can’t get any worse an earthquake occurs and the home Ha Ni shared with her widowed father Oh Ki Dong (Kang Nam Gil) is destroyed. Ki Dong’s boyhood friend Baek Soo Chang (Oh Kyung Soo) and his wife Hwang Geum Hee (Jun Hye Young) invites Ha Ni and Ki Dong to move in with them. To Ha Ni’s surprise and dismay it is also the home of Baek Seung Jo and his younger brother, Baek Eun Jo (Choi Won Hong). Can Ha Ni and Baek Seung Jo possibly co-exist beneath the same roof without getting on each other’s nerves?
Review – Funny, funny, funny tale of a young woman who knows what she wants and won’t let anything stop her from getting it. Ha Ni is a beautiful young woman but she can’t seem to find anything she’s good at. She can’t cook, she’s clumsy and she can’t keep a secret to save her soul. But though everyone, including Baek Seung Jo’s younger brother Eun Jo thinks Ha Ni isn’t capable of doing anything correct, she does do one thing well, sister can stalk.
Baek Seung Jo’s world is turned upside down when Ha Ni moves in. She follows him around, pries into his business and never fails to get him or herself in trouble with her persistent hounding of him. They even get into an argument on graduation night which turns out to be a great night for Ha Ni since Baek Seung Jo rewards her with her first kiss after they have an argument. The kiss is a bit awkward, but traditionally about normal for most South Korean dramas with young people I’ve watched. Cute, but still not perfect. This sets the scene, and has viewers waiting with anticipation for that perfect one.
Baek Seung Jo’s mother wants Baek Seung and Ha Ni together, and she does everything in her power to see that she gets what she wants even if it means playing the matchmaker. This is the type of mother-in-law dreams are made by. Even though she was blessed with two genius male children, she still pines for a daughter and instantly takes a liking to Ha Ni. She is the complete opposite of the mother-in-law in the Baking King, Kim Tak Gu. She is meddlesome but for a good reason. The only thing I can’t figure out is why she did not try to teach Ha Ni how to cook. On the flip side Ha Ni’s father was also a chef and owned a restaurant and Ha Ni barely could boil water.
Baek Seung Jo’s grades are so good that he can get into any college that he chooses. Unfortunately, Ha Ni’s grades are not and she must face the fact that she might never get into a real college. But with a help of a teacher and a typhoon Ha Ni wins a spot in a community college. Everyone is so proud of her. Meanwhile Baek Seung Jo has not decided if he wants to go to college. He is tired of everyone trying to tell him what to do and even rebels. Throughout all of this he berates and insults Ha Ni for the least little thing. He continues this type of behavior toward her throughout the entire drama and makes me wonder why she puts up with it. If it were me I would have forgot about him after he insulted me in high school. But our heroine doesn’t let what he tells her affect her long and before we know it she is stalking him again. Later Baek Seung Jo decides to go to the same college as Ha Ni and things between them gets interesting.
Of course there are romantic rivals. Bong Joon Gu (Lee Tae Sung) is a street tough want to be cook who has always been in love with Ha Ni. He appeared as a pest in the beginning of the story but midway through he had won over my heart and for a time I wanted Ha Ni to forget about Baek Seung Jo and date him. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for Ha Ni. Ladies, if you find a man like that, accept him. He’s a lot less trouble and you have to expend a lot less energy on him.
There was also this perfect girl, Yoon Hae Ra (Lee Si Young) who was just perfect for Baek Seung Jo because they shared the same ideals, personality and meanness toward Ha Ni. Well she wasn’t exactly perfect. She wore dresses or skirts throughout the drama and she had very thin legs. But she did pull off the perfect bitchy other girl that we love to hate.
I loved this romantic drama and hated to see it end. Like others I keep hoping for a second season. The chemistry between the two lead actors is fantastic. Of course this was the perfect opportunity for me to ogle the very handsome Kim Hyung Joon who also stars in Boys Before Flowers. Definitely a five fleur de les recommendation for viewing.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Baking King, Kim Tak Goo - A Review

Baker King (King of Baking, Kim Tak Goo) – Review
Baker King (King of Baking, Kim Tak Goo) is a 30 episode Korean drama about the eldest son of Goo In Jong, a legendary baking president of Samhwa Enterprises. Kim Tak Goo, portrayed by Oh Jae Moon (as a child) and Yoon Shi Yoon (as an adult) is a loving and caring person who at the age of twelve discovers that he is the eldest son of Goo In Jong, a skilled baker and also the president of Samhwa Enterprises.
For the past twelve years he and his mother Kim Mi Sun (Jun Mi Sun) has lived in poverty and have moved around a lot because of threats made by Han Seung Jae (Jun Sung Mo), the best friend and secretary of Samhwa Enterprises under the order of Goo In Jong’s wife, Seo In Sook (Jun In Hwa) who finds out about the child’s existence. Goo In Jong and Kim Mi Sun had a brief affair a little over twelve years ago after Seo in Sook gave birth to her second daughter, and under the guidance of Goo in Jong’s mother who desperately wanted a grandson to carry on the family’s name and business. Instead of killing Kim Mi Sun, Secretary Han allows her and the baby to live with the promise that he would kill both of them if he ever saw them again.
Kim Tak Goo gets to meet Goo In Jong, whom he calls Chairman when Kim Tak Goo and another friend tries to steal bread from a baking plant. Kim Tak Goo later takes responsibility and pays off the debt by selling junk he has collected. Goo In Jong is so impressed when the young man lives up to his responsibility that he asks him his name and he tells him Kim Tak Goo. Goo In Jong is shocked because that was the name he asked Kim Mi Sun to name their son before she gave birth to him but chocked it off an a coincidence since Kim Mi Sun disappeared and he hadn’t heard from her in twelve years. Kim Mi Sun gets upset when she learns about the meeting and learns that Kim Tak Goo wants to grow up to be someone successful just like Goo In Jong. But just as soon as she is about to forget the incident Secretary Han hears the child’s name and hunts them down. He threatens to kill them but Kim Mi Sun tells him that she will take her child and leave again. Kim Tak Goo does not want to leave because he is tired of moving and he has made friends. One friend in particular is Shin Yoo Kyung (Eugene) who is being physically and mentally abused by her alcoholic father.
Kim Mi Sun decides to take Kim Tak Goo to his father for him to raise since she is unable to give him the kind of life he needs to be a success. This causes a major problem because Goon In Jong is not only still married to Seo In Sook and they have three children, two older daughters and a younger son named Goo Ma Joon (Shin Dong Wood (child)/Joon Won (adult) whom Seo In Sook has been grooming to take over Samhwa Enterprises. Seo in Sook makes it very clear that she is not going to raise a child by her husband’s mistress. Goon In Jong’s mother instantly sees the resemblance between Goo In Jong and Kim Tak Goo and agrees to raise the child in the home despite the way Seo In Sook feels. Kim Mi Sun leaves and Kim Tak Goo tearfully cries because he doesn’t want to be separated from her. His grandmother tells him to man up and ignore the ugly stares he’s receiving from Seo In Sook and the other kids in the house.
Kim Tak Goo decides to give it his best shot but Seo In Sook treats him so badly, including physically striking him in the face because she hates him and what he stands for. Then one day Kim Tak Goo gets a wired message from Shin Yoo Kyung that his mother is in danger. Kim Tak Goo leaves the home to rescue his mother and Goo Ma Joon follows him. But when he gets there he discovers that his mother has been kidnapped.
Kim Tak Goo and Goo Ma Joon return to the mansion and Kim Tak Goo asks his father to help search for his mother, but his father is too busy and tell him that he will take care of it later. Seo in Sook plots with Secretary Han to get rid of the child and Secretary Han takes him off and tries to sell him to some men on a ship. Kim Tak Goo gets away from the men after he discovers what Secretary Han has done. While in hiding he meets an old man Pal Bong, who gives him some bread to eat, keeps him safe and then talks to him until Kim Tak Goo leaves the next morning. For the next twelve years Kim Tak Goo searches for a man with a windmill tattoo on his arm…the only clue he has in his mother’s disappearance. Twelve years later he shows up at a bakery and all their lives collide again.
Review – This is another one of those instances where you can’t judge a series by a couple of episodes. I originally watched the first couple of episodes and stop because the story dragged. So I put it aside for a while and then went back to it and got interested in the story. Just because you have money doesn’t mean that you are better than people who don’t. In this case money has turned these people into a very dysfunctional family. It is a tale filled with lies, deceit and secrets that span twenty-six years and just when you think nothing else can happen to the happy-go-lucky Kim Tak Goo one of his extended family members pulls a rabbit out of a hat to keep him in his place. This is a tale where men run the business and women run the household. They are pampered and spoiled and have never gone without a meal. Seo in Sook will stop at nothing to make her son the next president of Samhwa. Once she asks Secretary Han to help her he agrees since the two of them used to date and he is still in love with her. Secretary Han is an evil man who doesn’t have a problem committing kidnapping, murder and putting his own life on the line while pretending to be the president’s best friend and confidant.
This story is a tear-jerker, where most of the time Kim Tak Goo is the one in tears. Seeing him cry gets a little boring at times but your heart will go out when you see how determine he is to find his mother. I give this drama four fleur de les.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Eye Strain

Eye Strain
Why is everything good so bad for you? After a month of headaches, neck aches and blood shot eyes I found out I was suffering from eye strain. The doctor asked me how many hours I spent on the computer a day, and I jokingly told him the question should be how many hours I’m not on the computer a day? Doctors, I’ve discovered don’t have a sense of humor no matter how much you pay them. The nurse didn’t either as she stabbed me in the arm to give me my flu shot.
What is eye strain: Eye strain occurs when your eyes get tired from intense use, such as driving a car for extended periods of time, reading or working on a computer. It’s not usually serious and goes away when you rest your eyes.
Symptoms of eye strain: tired eyes, blurring of vision, headaches, doubling of vision and neck ache.
So how much time do I normally spend on the computer each day? Well, I turn it on at six in the morning and watch music videos while I get dressed for work and turn it off about 7:15. The computer on my desk at work is on by 8:00 and shuts down around 4:30. Between those times I have a half hour lunch break and two fifteen minute rest periods that I spend outside writing by sunlight. By 6:00 pm I’m back home and the computer is back on. I have to read my email, converse with friends on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, type up my notes, work on my blogs and chat with my writer groups on Yahoo, all the while cooking, cleaning the house and dealing with my mother, my kids, their kids, and their friends.
Last week I watched the entire set of “The First Shop of the Coffee Prince,” in six nights between the hours of 8:00 pm and midnight and I missed a lot of sleep. On Friday night I watched episodes 10, 11 and 12 of “The Perfect Kiss.” I think I turned the computer off around 1:30 am Saturday morning after taking two Tylenol for my headache and putting eye drops in my eyes (no small fete since I hate to put eye drops in my eyes. If any of the medicine makes it in it’s a miracle.). By watching I also mean reading subs since my Korean and Japanese is limited.
When I woke on Saturday morning it felt like someone had put an entire beach of sand in my eyes. So what did I do? I turned on the computer, checked my email, visited my Cassie friends on Facebook around the world, posted a review for “The First Shop of the Coffee Prince,” on my blogs and then begin this blog.
I was fairly good yesterday. I turned off the computer and the television and just lay in bed. Well, it wasn’t as wonderful as it sounded because one of my neighbors little granddaughters kept ringing my doorbell and running, even after I told her that the kids were at the park across the street. So I decided to get up and fix hotdogs and hamburgers for the kids when they returned. The next thing I knew I was working on my current WIP. Somewhere around nine I decided to watch some anime. That didn’t last too long because I wasn’t paying attention to it. I’ve noticed lately that I don’t watch as much television as I once did and that’s only because I’ve discovered other interesting things on the Internet. So then I was off to watch episodes nine and ten of Sungkyunkwan Scandal because I had to get my weekly dose of Micky Yoochun in. This is a very good drama, and I’m not saying this just because I’m drooling over him and waiting for him to smile at me through the camera lenses. It’s well written and it teaches a lot about Korean history. After I finished with it I popped in Goong, another drama but realized that I had already watched the first three episodes and didn’t feel like calling up the fourth because I was sleepy. So last night I was actually asleep by midnight.
Well, to answer the doctor’s question. I spend a hell of a whole lot of time on my computer. I’m a writer and there’s not too much I can do except use a bit of common sense and occasionally take off my reading glasses and rest my eyes. Great novels do not write themselves.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Review: The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince

The First Shop of the Coffee Prince

A Review

Twenty-four year old Go Eun Chan, played by Yoon Eun Hye has had a rough life. Her father died when she was young and Eun Chan takes on several jobs to help support the family to include delivering food, teaching Taekwondo, peeling chestnuts, sewing eyes on stuffed dolls and delivering milk. While delivering food Eun Chan meets rich boy slacker Choi Han Kyul, played by Gong Yoo who has just returned to Korea from the United States where he has been living. She finds Han Kyul sitting on the couch talking on his cell phone with just a towel wrapped around his waist. Eun Chan is so embarrassed she runs off forgetting the money. Han Kyul mistakenly takes Eun Chan for a boy and wonders why he was embarrassed to see a half-nude man since he was also a male and wonders if the young man can possibly be gay.
Their paths cross again when Han Kyul is on an outing with a female artist named Han Yoo Joo, who too has just returned from the United States after two years. Two years ago Yoo Joo used to date Han Kyul cousin Choi Han Seong, played by Lee Sun Gyun but left him for another man. In the mean time Han Kyul has been secretly carrying a torch for his cousin’s girlfriend for nine years.
Yoo Joo’s purse is snatched at the same time Eun Chan is making a delivery. Eun Chan witnesses the crimes and goes behind the culprit, captures him and retrieves the purse. She instantly recognizes him as a young man who is interested in dating her younger sister. Eun Chan doesn’t want him to get arrested since basically he’s a nice young man so she makes up a quick plan for him to get away. Eun Chan returns the purse to Yoo Joo but the plan backfires and Han Kyul accuses Eun Chan of conspiring together to rob Yoo Joo. Eun Chan argues her innocence but he is not fully convinced. Eun Chan insists that Han Kyul pay for the repair of her scooter that was damaged in the scuffle.
Eun Chan’s learns that the landlord is about to raise the rent and she knows she has to take on yet another job to help out the family. So she takes on a temporary position as a waitress in a wine bar. It is there that she meets Han Kyul’s cousin Choi Han Seong, a music arranger, who takes an instant liking to Eun Chan because she is a cute young woman. Yoo Joo goes to see Han Seong. He is very angry at the way she walked out on him but realizes that he is still in love with her.
Han Kyul grandmothers decide that is time for Han Kyul to get married so she and his mother begin to arrange dates with attractive young woman. Han Kyul isn’t ready to get married or give up his slacker ways. He has plans to return to the United States where he has been offered a position in with a toy manufacturer, so he comes up with a plan to convince his grandmother that he is gay and enlists the pretty male Eun Chan to help him for money. Eun Chan agrees to help him because her family needs the money.

Eun Chan and Han Kyul develop sort of a friendship and Han Kyul begins to trust him. Meanwhile his grandmother is tired of her grandson’s laziness and puts him in charge of run down coffee house and gives him a short time to make it a success and to make a 300% profit. Han Kyul doesn’t want to do it but is talked into it by Eun Chan with the guarantee that he also hires her. The grandmother has put Han Kyul under the guidance of a master coffee barista who is a bit of a slob. But with the help of Eun Chan and three other males he hires, including the one that snatched Yoo Joo’s purse they turn it into a pretty nice establishment, called the Coffee Prince. Han Kyul decides to only hire handsome young men to work in the shop to draw in the young female clientele.
Han Seong discovers that Eun Chan is the person responsible for delivering milk to his home every day and that Eun Chan has made friends with his dog. The two of them become friends and he takes her out to dinner a couple of times and they talk and play sports together. He cannot believe that his cousin can’t see that Eun Chan is a girl. Han Seong falls in love with Eun Chan and tries to hide it from Yoo Joo, and at the same time Han Kyul also falls for Eun Chan and is confused for having those types of feelings for a male and it makes him question his sexuality.
Review: Funny, funny, funny from the very beginning. Thankfully the director had sense enough to cast an actress that can actually pull off the part of looking and acting like a guy. Yoon Eun Hye is an excellent actress with big pretty expressive eyes and a spirited independence that makes you root for her from the very beginning.
As the handsome male lead, Gong Yoo gives an absolutely superb performance as a young man who wants to enjoy his life and not be tied to his family’s business. It is easy to see how he mistakenly thought Eun Chan for a boy and I give him props for coming to the decision that you can’t really pick who you fall in love with.
I really liked Lee Sun Gyun cast in this part as Han Gyul’s cousin. He’s funny and surprisingly enough I thought his character was quite handsome when he wore his glasses instead of the other way around. What I did not understand was his relationship with Han Yoo Joo. He loves her, she left him, she returned, he took her back even though he knew she would leave him again. And then there was this thing about him knowing that Han Gyul has been in love with her for nine years and he wasn’t worried about it. Hmm, not in the real world.
Chae Jung Ahn really pulled off the part of the selfish artist Han Yoo Joo who wanted what she wanted when she wanted it and she didn’t care who she hurt to get it. Although I like the fact that she was independent and could take care of herself, but I did not like the way she didn’t care for anyone else’s feelings.
I truly like the three other young men who Han Gyul hired at the Coffee Prince. It’s nice that each character came with personal issues that blended in perfectly with the story and didn’t weigh it down. Add Eun-Chan’s shoe-shopping mother, her spoiled brat younger sister and the quirky male butcher who is in love with the mother, and Coffee Prince’s coffee barista and you have the perfect cast of characters to pull off a very successful drama. I give this drama 5 Fleur De Les for excellence and highly recommend it.