YouTube Martial Arts Theatre- Hapkido

Recently, I’ve been on a jag of watching old Kung Fu flicks on YouTube, which is a bit like eating candy in a candy store! Almost any Kung Fu movie you can name has been uploaded to YouTube, and they literally made hundreds of these movies back in the 70’s and 80’s.

I thought I’d post links to a few of the ones I’ve really enjoyed, and the first is Hapkido (aka Lady Kung Fu), which is a unique little movie on several levels.

First, it’s a Hong Kong movie about Chinese who go to Korea (during the Japanese Occupation period) to learn a Korean martial art (the title Hapkido) and then bring what they’ve learned back to China. So despite being a “Kung Fu” movie, it’s actually about showcasing the Korean counterpart to Kung Fu.

Second, Hapkido stars Angela Mao in a role that would normally be played by a Bruce Lee clone, which brings an interesting twist to it. She is incredibly badass, but does so in a different and more calculating way which is different than how male martial artists tend to fight. On top of that, there’s no attempts to feminize the movie in any way- it’s a straight martial arts movie where it’s just accepted that she’s the boss of the group and everyone just treats her as an equal. It’s an interesting case where the lead being female did nothing to affect the plot. but still has an effect on the way things play out.

Yes, the English dub is stilted, but since it’s also pretty straightforward you get used to it after a bit. Oh, and there’s a pair of nude female breasts in a single shot for a few seconds, in case you’re watching it at work.

Enjoy!

Rob

Little Gou and the Crocodile Princess New Release Sale!

Crocodile Princess  Front-med

Little Gou’s first novel-length adventure is now available on Kindle for just 99 cents for the month of September. Grab it now while you can!

The story:

“Every last member of the Mao family will die by the Hour of the Rat a fortnight from now.” 

With these words begins a race against time, as the roguish martial artist called Little Gou hunts across the back roads and waterways of Old China to find a young bride-to-be who has become a pawn of the mysterious Lady Moonlight. He must outwit friends and foes alike, all of whom are dancing to the Lady’s song, and unravel a scheme that could see thousands dead or enslaved and the Middle Kingdom aflame with rebellion if he fails. But, worst of all, he has to face the woman who abandoned him in the name of family duty- the love he can never be with, or forget. 

Influenced by Legendary Wuxia novel writers Gu Long and Jin Yong; and in the spirit of movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Little Gou and the Crocodile Princess is a martial arts action & adventure thriller set in the Jianghu martial underworld of Old China. Through a combination of wits, swordplay and kung fu, the martial artist Little Gou, and his companion the warrior nun Sister Cat, must uncover the truth behind a deadly plot to bring the martial underworld to its knees, or die trying.

 

Ascension- A Novel of the Twin Stars Is LIVE!!

Ascension Cover

My very first novel, based on the Parsec Award Nominated Podcast (which has had over a Quarter of a Million Listeners)  is now up and available for Amazon Kindle. Check it out!

My Second Novel- Little Gou and the Crocodile Princess, is done!

In Summer, 2008 I started what was to be my first novel- Little Gou and the Crocodile Princess. A thrilling WuXia adventure story centered around everyone’s favorite gambler in his first long-form adventure. I wrote the first 40,000 words of the story at a rapid pace, with everything coming together like a finely crafted puzzle. It was great, it was fun, it was going to rock!

Then I hit writer’s block with the story so hard that I think it gave my grandchildren a bloody nose.

Try as I might, I couldn’t get the story moving again. All my attempts failed, and the tricks I used to plot it out produced nothing but boring crap.

So, I set it aside and moved on to other projects. I was in full audio-drama production mode, so it wasn’t hard to just let that fill my creative needs and figure that I’d return to Crocodile Princess when the time was right.

Well, after 4 years of aborted attempts, and one novel (Twin Stars, Book One) completed, I sat down at the end of July and told myself I was going to finish this thing. I’d just gotten done listening to Stephen King’s book “On Writing”, which I adored, and decided that instead of plotting it out and trying to force things, I’d follow his approach and just sit down each morning and let it flow. I started using my old laptop, which can’t connect to the net, stuck it in the basement and used that as a writing area. I decided that I wouldn’t force it, just try to feel my way through the story inch by inch as naturally as I could.

Then I wrote. Every day.

I also decided to take some writing advice I’d heard once from Podcaster Mur Lafferty- “It’s okay to suck.” (Which I took to mean your first draft will often suck, but just write it anyways and then fix it during revision.)

Well, this morning, on the last day of Summer (as we teachers reckon it) I wrote the work FIN at end of page 511 and saved it. (Then saved it again on a memory stick, and stuck it up on Carbonite to make sure it doesn’t get lost- ever!) At 96,449 words, I wrote roughly 54,000 of them in just the last month, which means I both won by NaNoWriMo standards, and have now written my longest 100% original work ever. (Twin Stars being an adaption of the first season of the audio dramas.)

Now, I will set it aside and let it sit for a few months while I focus on work, editing Twin Stars and getting it out for sale, and possibly writing my third novel. (Which will likely either be a Young Adult fantasy novel, a detective novel set in Taiwan, or a techno-thriller set in the near future.) Editing Crocodile Princess will also be an interesting challenge, because my writing style has changed a lot in the past four years, and I will have to make the two halves blend with each other. Either way, I’ve finished a novel, and now know I can do it if I try.

For now, the important thing is letting my brain rest and catching up on all the movies and other media I’ve ignoring over the past month while I focussed on writing.

And get lunch. Lunch is good.

Rob

Free eBook: Suffer the Poisoner

 

“There’s poison in your soup.”

With these words, Little Gou is thrust into another adventure as he finds himself struggling to get the woman who poisoned him past an army of soldiers hunting her. Even if they can get past the army, their greatest challenge lies ahead- facing an ancient secret society who will stop at nothing to keep their existence hidden.

 

I’ve just released my newest Little Gou adventure, and I’m offering it for free for the next two weeks! Until July 2nd, if you go to Smashwords and enter the coupon code EG77P you can get it in the format of your choice absolutely free! All I ask is that if you enjoy it you leave a rating on Amazon, Smashwords or Goodreads to help me promote the story.

Just Two Days Left to get The Cat and the Whaler for Free!

The Secrets of the Five Lotus Stance are known by few, desired by many, and held by only one. Unfortunately for Little Gou, that happens to be him! Pursued by pirates, and caught in the clutches of a mysterious warrior sect, Gou must use the power of a scroll he can’t read to get it back to its rightful owner. Even if it kills him.

Little Gou’s second swashbuckling adventure is only free for two more days! So take the opportunity now to snag this ebook novelette from Smashwords!

Until June 7th, if you go to Smashwords and enter the coupon code NQ67B you can get it in the format of your choice absolutely free! All I ask is that if you enjoy it you leave a rating on Amazon, Smashwords or Goodreads to help me promote the story. This is a special Gou story, in that it’s illustrated as well, with art by Yi Weng! Check it out!

Creative Challenges: The Fox Cycle

I think it’s good for writers to challenge themselves, it helps them grow.

Back in January of this year, I picked up an amazing book for (script)writers called Save the Cat! by scriptwriting guru Blake Snyder. I’d heard about it online, tracked down a copy at the local bookstore, and poured through it to discover it wasn’t as good as advertised it was better. So much better. (So if you haven’t read it and you’re a writer of fiction, go buy a copy- NOW!)

Among Snyder’s revelations was his theory that all movies can be broken down into ten different types, and that when writing a story, a writer should have one of these types in mind to know what exactly it is they’re writing.  This makes a lot of sense when you consider that most movies are only about 110 minutes long, at a minute of film per page of script. 110 pages of script isn’t a lot of time to work with when you actually get into it, so stories of movies must be concise and focussed or you get an unfocussed mess.

When I started to think through his list, I both agreed with it, and found it quite liberating. What he’d done was not just condense standard types of movie stories, but also stories in general, and each of them caused ideas for stories to pop into my head. While they might be a little simplistic for novel plots (or maybe not), these seemed to work especially well for short stories.

So, having just finished The Inuyama Rebellion fiction serial over on my Kung Fu Action Theatre site, and looking for more content to keep the site active, I decided to set myself a little creative challenge. Of course, there had to be rules, which were:

1)      I would write 10 short stories, one for each of Snyder’s ten story types.

2)      I would make all the stories Flash Fiction: 1000 words or less in length, since I was at the start of what looked to be a very busy semester.  This was an added challenge to me because I had very rarely written such short fiction (most of my stories tend to be around 7,000-10,000 words long) and didn’t think I was very good at it.

3)      Each story had to be complete and stand-alone.

I also decided that I needed a unified theme, so I dusted off a character idea I’d had about a young First Nations girl in New France adopted and raised by a former Musketeer and decided to use that as the focus. Of course, this meant I was adding both historical research and language issues (Je ne parle pas francais!) to the challenge, but I decided since it was flash fiction it would be light on the details anyways so I could fudge it as needed. (HA!)

And then, on top of that, a few weeks after I started the project, I got into the DAZ Studio 3D art program, and decided that I should incorporate 3D art into the challenge as well as a way to teach myself DAZ. This required slowly buying up the elements I needed for different scenes, and then composing them into something that worked with the characters and stories. A whole huge challenge unto itself!

So, I got to add:

4)      Write in a new, unfamiliar historical setting about completely new characters.

5)      Generate 3D art to go with each story using a new art program I barely knew how to work.

As you can tell, I like my challenges easy.

I decided to call it The Fox Cycle (as in, a cycle of stories, not a fox on a motorcycle) and posted the first one at the end of January with the intent of posting a new one every Monday for ten weeks.

So, how’d it go?

Well, I didn’t quite pull off the one-a-week schedule for many reasons I won’t bother to go into, but this week I posted the tenth and final story in the cycle

You can judge for yourself how it all turned out. From my side, I think some of the stories came out really well, while others are just so-so. I consistently impressed myself with my own ability to both condense the stories down to 1000 words, and to keep each one interesting and different from the others.  I was also surprised how much humor leaked into the stories.

I learned a lot about the characters, which grew organically as I wrote each story, and the setting grew as well. I’d hoped to use this project to explore and develop this story and setting for other larger future projects, and it worked beyond my expectations. I now have a very firm idea of my characters and the world they live in, one which I couldn’t possibly fit into the small space of the cycle, but which I hope to explore in the near future with other, longer works.

My own writing skills have also improved as a result of being forced to write such short, tight prose. It was a challenge at first, but now that I’m used to it I wonder why my other stories tended to be so long! I’d say this challenge has really helped me in thinking through my own personal writing style by forcing me to keep words to a minimum, and it’s also made me rethink how I frame the stories I write.

On the art side, I’ve learned how to master the basics of both DAZ Studio 4.0 and GiMP because of this project, and I’m quite happy with how some of the art turned out. I’ve never considered myself a visual artist, and still don’t, but I have started to gain a deeper understanding of how a picture is composed, the importance of lighting, and how much work it takes to make a good picture.

 

Would I do it again?

I’m not sure.

It’s one of those artistic challenges that’s good to go through as a rite of passage, but I’m not sure I’m going to be interested in doing it again anytime soon. It was a great way to develop this new setting to write in, and force myself to learn, so I might give it another go at some point in the future. It’s definitely a challenge that I’d recommend to someone else to try, although you might want to drop the visual art element and just focus on the writing and characters.

 

Appendix:

For those familiar with Blake Snyder’s Ten Types and who wonder how my stories correspond to them, here’s the breakdown:

1)      The Musketeer (Dude With a Problem)

2)      The Eyes of a Warrior (Buddy Love)

3)      The Elders of Ville Marie (The Fool Triumphant)

4)      The Bodyguard (Out of the Bottle)

5)      The Beating (Whydunit)

6)      Identity (Institutionalized)

7)      Home (Golden Fleece)

8)      Rennie’s Wedding (Rite of Passage)

9)      The Troll (Monster in the House)

10)   Hero (Superhero)

I leave it you, my readers, to decide the degree to which I failed or succeeded in living up to each of the different types. I think I hit a few dead-on, and came close with a few others. My favorites of the set are Eyes of a Warrior, The Bodyguard, Rennie’s Wedding, and Hero. The ones I’m not quite as happy with are The Musketeer, Identity and Home.

Free eBook: The Cat and The Whaler

I’ve just released my newest Little Gou adventure, and to celebrate I’m offering it for free for the next two weeks! Until June 7th, if you go to Smashwords and enter the coupon code NQ67B you can get it in the format of your choice absolutely free! All I ask is that if you enjoy it you leave a rating on Amazon, Smashwords or Goodreads to help me promote the story. This is a special Gou story, in that it’s illustrated as well, with art by Yi Weng! Check it out!

Rob

The Fox Cycle, Story Five- The Beating

This week’s Fox Cycle story is accompanied by my most ambitious digital art image yet. Not only was this the most complex image I’ve put together in Daz Studio yet, with five characters and props to co-ordinate, but it was also my first attempt at doing postwork on a rendered image. I used GiMP to blur the forground characters to give it more of a sense of depth of field (which is possible but difficult for me in Daz Studio) and to add the muck to Marlon’s face and neck.  I’m really quite proud of how it turned out.

In other art-related news, I’ve created my own DeviantArt page to start sticking my renders on, so I won’t clutter my blog with everything I’m doing. You can find me at ultrarob.deviantart.com.

 

CG Art- The Fox Cycle

My journey with DAZ Studio Continues. I spent the week working on images to go along with my currently running Flash Fiction series- The Fox Cycle over on my KFAT page. The stories themselves cover a large span of time, but focus on the former King’s Musketeer Gerard la Russo and his Indian adopted daughter Renard. Using my meagre talent with DAZ Studio, I decided to render a few images to go along with some of the stories.

Gerard la Russo at Callais in 1698.

Renard la Russo and Claudette Dupris 1710

Ren and Gerard 1717

 

And a bonus picture, since I had some people suggest Tysen didn’t look brooding enough in the one posted last week.

Troubled Tysen