And now it’s December, the most musical time of the year

I completed NaNoWriMo with a whopping 74,804 words, past my goal of 70k, just shy of an even 75k.

This marks the completion of the CAUTION quartet. It’s my first quartet. And I haven’t even finished a trilogy before so this is extra special. Bonus: I even like the ending! I thought it was silly and rushed when I did it (feeling silly and rushed), but when I went back I was pleased. This series turned out as fun as it started, and a lot better than I’d ever thought it would be.

Today’s Topic: Favorite novel-ing music

Anime soundtracks: All Kajiura Yuki (Mai-hime, Cosette, .hack, Pandora Hearts, etc.), Shinsekai Yori, Fullmetal Alchemist, Death Note, Natsume Yuujin Chou, Yu-gi-oh Duel Monsters, YuYu Hakusho (symphonic), all Joe Hisaishi (Ghibli)

Movie soundtracks: Amelie, Coraline, Hunger Games, Pirates of the Caribbean, Gladiator, The Hobbit and LoTR, Lion King, How to Train Your Dragon, Chocolat, Brave, House of Flying Daggers, Crouching Tiger, Last of the Mohicans, Lord of the Dance, Star Wars (but then I start singing the Imperial March so success is 50/50)

Game soundtracks: Halo and Final Fantasy.

Artists instrumental: Himekami, Kieko Matsui, David Lanz, David Arkenstone, Cusco, Aine Minogue, John Tesh, Lindsey Stirling, Michele Mclaughlin, Sur Sudha, Yanni

Artists lyrical: Cecile Corbel, Akino Arai, Damh The Bard, Faun, Enya, Gary Stadler, Kalafina, Kokia, Loreena McKennitt, Origa, Rin’, Woodland

Songs I frequently put on repeat: Mountain Wind (Mamer), Transformation (Daine Arkenstone), the Gathering (Aine Minogue), Master of Tides (Lindsey Stirling)

Conclusion: Instrumental music makes it a lot easier to concentrate. But sometimes you need the magic of voices.

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NaNoWriMo & new poetry

It’s November! I knew that. I just neglect my poor blog.

With November comes NaNoWriMo, a fun writing challenge that challenges your writing kind of but mostly challenges your dedication and ability to stick with a project until the end. For this reason I recommend NaNoWriMo to everyone as a rite of passage.

I jumped ahead with my first real day of writing and am ahead of schedule at 14k words. This is a good sign. Especially since I’m studying for my Black Belt (2-dan) test at the same time. It just goes to prove that the busier I am the more efficiently I use my time. Also it proves that we are never as busy as we think we are. My younger sister is recovering from a car crash so isn’t working and is only taking 2 classes at school. She insists she’s terribly busy and stressed about her classes (she gets mostly As). Not that I don’t believe her, I just laugh.

Anyway~

As a special bonus to the blogosphere (Be It An Everlasting Existence) I’ve added some more of my poetry. See the Poetry page. None of it is really new, but I finally have the courage to share it with the world. Or the one person who reads my blog? (That’s me!)

At least read Salutations, My Demo, it should be entertaining.

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The Fourth Princess of Bengal: Chapter 23

Chapter 23 : The Old Woman

Helped as she was by the kind farmer, Saeng reached the old capital of Ma’uw that night. The old palace, now a university, was mostly unchanged from its ancient state, whereas the rest of the city had grown with the ages. An old wall surrounded the area outside the university, and this in turn was surrounded by a moat, a relic of times long ago when cities were so small.

Saeng had visited this city once before, as part of her education, but at that time she and her sisters were kept from sight and met almost no one as they toured the university. Seeing the city now, as an ordinary traveler might, Saeng was surprised at the activity even after the sun set, and she was delighted by the lights that bloomed over the streets and rivers to keep the activity going. Seeing Ma’uw this way, being jostled by the crowd, Saeng wondered if even Chang would be so different were she to see it not as a princess, were it to see her not as a princess.

The driver had shared his lunch with her, now her stomach reminded her she needed to do some things on her own, starting with finding dinner. Where should she go? How much should she pay? Was the food clean? What tasted good? Saeng in her wisdom realized she was not so wise when it came to doing ordinary things. Disposed to treat others as she would wish to be treated, Saeng decided that if she was cheated, it could not harm her, and karma would come round to punish those with wicked thoughts. Oh, but she didn’t wish them harm! What if she, in her ignorance, compelled someone to take advantage of her naivety? Did she wish them to be blamed for it?

Saeng sighed into the cat’s fur. “I cannot believe ill of others. It is too hard.”

“Are you all right, child?” someone asked. Lifting her head, Saeng observed an old woman with a walking stick who was standing very close and looking very concerned.

“I am so well, grandmother, I feel I am taking good feelings from others!” Saeng exclaimed. “But, I do not know what food is best for me to eat, nor what prices are here in Ma’uw, and at the moment this is a pressing matter.” Her stomach made a funny noise and she smiled sheepishly.

Before she could say a word otherwise, the old woman was taking her around, pointing out foodstuffs and crafts and doodads and speaking of prices and taxes and deals and how this merchant knew that one — and the princess found herself with a feast procured, she was assured, at a very good price.

“I’m better yet, even before I eat!” the princess declared. “Grandmother, please join me in my dinner.”

“You must be hungry indeed, or else your cat has an appetite, for we have food for six!”

“Oh.” The princess looked again at their shopping and supposed she must be right. She’d only ever eaten what she wished! This was her first shopping — what a strange world.

“You must come to my house and meet my family,” said the old woman, “and then you must spend the night with us.”

“But how kind! I couldn’t!”

“It is dark and the night is late, why, I wouldn’t let my own granddaughter wander the city alone!”

“If all people were as good as you, no one need worry.”

“If only, child!”

So the princess followed the old woman home, and met her family, and they feasted on their shopping, and the old woman’s daughter served baked apples and bananas for dessert, and Saeng slept in a small soft bed in a cozy little room.

In the morning, the family fed her breakfast, and the old woman’s grandson presented the princess with a silver bracelet made by his father.

“Oh me! I cannot accept such a generous gift,” said the princess, surprised by this unsought generosity.

“You have graced our house, princess,” said the old woman, “we would give you luck for your journey.”

“My secret is not much of a secret,” the princess observed.

“Not when you brush out your silvery hair in front of the fireplace, my dear,” said the old woman, and Saeng laughed for she had completely forgotten her unusual hair in the presence of this warm family, though she suspected the old woman had known her identity from the start.

Wearing the flowery silvery on her right arm, and clutching the still-sleeping cat with her left, Saeng bid farewell. The family would find a gift under the pillow she had slept on. It was not money, for she could not dishonor their genuine kindness, nor was it jewelry, which would be the same; instead, she left them a small weaving, made by the four princesses of Bengal, and set in the middle a spiral of glass engraved with the royal crest. It was her mother of course who thought of this, reminding her daughter that she would be relying on others for much of her journey. “Money will make your way easy, strangers will make it possible.”

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The Fourth Princess of Bengal: Chapter 22

Part 5

The Eastern Circle

Chapter 22 : The Bustling Road

All day the princess walked the eastern road. She could have had a horse, or a carriage and three — yet what adventures could be had that way? If Saeng hoped to hide that she was a princess of Bengal, she would soon discover this a difficult task, but for now she kept her silvery hair beneath a scarf and long garments concealed her light skin, so that those she passed on the road hailed her cheerfully and unsuspecting.

What bustle there was! The princess counted the carts bearing fruit and the carts bearing fabric, the wagons drawn by horses and those drawn by water buffalo, the men with bright pink tunics and the women with deep blue shawls. She caught a ball thrown astray and played with the children who had too much energy to stay with their slow procession, she jumped off the road when a thundering messenger cantered by, and she introduced a few horses to the cat.

The princess walked against most of the traffic drawn by the activity in the city due to the arrival of princes. Of the few carts heading east, one at last drew up beside her and asked if she would like to ride. Saeng gave the driver a beaming smile and climbed up next to him, settling the cat on her lap, and her entire body relaxed in thanks. She wondered, a little excitedly, what the man thought she was doing, if he was curious as to her destination, or shocked by the impropriety of her wandering alone.

“You are the princess, aren’t you?” he asked, once they had moved a short ways. She stared at him, unable to do naught by blink in surprise, then she laughed aloud. “Why! What a short secret! Ah, of course, you must have come from Chang.”

“I did, but never would I have thought our princess would be adventuring on foot. Where is your guard? Your elephants? Your attendants?”

“Attended am I by a powerful spirit,” she said, nodding down to her lap.

“The cat?” His confusion turned to thought, then to a look of understanding, for the family of the Beast King must draw strength from beasts. “I see. Then the people of Bengal shall be all the rest your guardian spirit is unable.”

“I thank you. It moves me deeply, the kindness of our countrymen.”

The man was so struck by the innocent sincerity of her words that he would forever remember and tell the story of the day he ‘drove with princess and spirit’, and he always spoke well of her.

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The Fourth Princess of Bengal: Chapter 21

Chapter 21 : The Unmoving Cat

The fourth princess of Bengal stepped slowly from the gates, listening yet not looking as they closed behind her, and took the winding road down from the city. She kept her eyes on the crossroads ahead, letting her mind wander, only when arriving did she turn in a circle and think on which path she should choose. 

To the north were the strong allies of Bengal: Jarma, Tha’Jun, and Laumphon, and beyond them stretched an impossible dessert. To the south stretched Bengal and a spattering of small countries in the neck of the peninsula. In the west rose the mountains where the ministers would have hidden her away, and to the east were the historical roots of Telano, the old Bengal. 

The princess looked up at the sky, and could see no daytime moon. The wind gently tugged her west, but there a flower was arching south… and what is that? 

Treading softly, the princess approached the ginger lump until she could make out pointed ears and a curled tail. Here was a cat, outside the menagerie, outside the city. Already feeling a longing for home, Saeng knelt and extended her fingers, making soft soothing noises to catch its attention. But the cat did not budge. Encouraged nonetheless, Saeng stepped closer and put her fingers right in front of the cat’s nose. Still it did not budge. She watched the rise and fall of its stomach, then blew gently over its head and noted the twitching of the ear, she nudged its head with her hand and felt warmth on her skin, but still it would not move. Tired of crouching, the Bengal princess picked the cat up from the dust of the road and held it in her arms, and once she began petting it, it purred. 

“Ah, I knew you were alive,” she said, though it did not look at her or adjust itself at all. 

As she stroked its coarse fur, she came to wonder at its purpose, and looked in the direction where, curled, the cat’s nose and tail had pointed. 

“Kitty, I say we shall go east. What say you?” 

The cat did not respond. Disappointed, the princess set it down, and somehow it formed itself as it was before. 

“Aren’t you coming with me?” she asked, then sighed. “Perhaps you are not the sign I seek.” 

The wind picked up and blew a leaf into the cat’s face. Struck by a mischievous thought, the princess again picked the cat from the dusty road, turned it to the opposite direction, and set it down thus. The world seemed to shift before her eyes, as if it was painted on a folded canvas that was now being stretched straight, and — without moving — the cat was again facing east. Struck by this oddity, and reminding herself the way did not matter, the fourth princess of Bengal took the cat up in her arms and began to walk east towards the rising sun.

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