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.

 

Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei

I’ve just started watching Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei on YouTube and I have to say I’m really enjoying it so far. Despite the odd title, this is a good old fashioned swashbuckling action series about a Robin Hood type character in old China that seems to be an adaptation of a Chinese comic book. The tragic but gifted hero and his three assistants do their best to right wrongs and kick the butts of scheming officials and other villains using their good ole WuXia martial arts skills.

Having seen a few Chinese TV series before, I’d have to say that the acting and production values of this one are pretty high (even considering it was made in 2010) and overall the series is very well put together. The whole thing has been subbed in English, so it’s an easy watch and each episode ends with a cliffhanger of sorts so expect to be dragged in and find yourself racing along with these four before you know it!

Rob

Lo Pan Style (Big Trouble in Little China/Gangnam Style Parody)

A truly great tribute to Big Trouble in Little China. (Watch for a cameo by James Hong- Lo Pan himself!)

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: 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

Among the Rivers and Lakes Wuxia Community

A new WuXia fan community forum has appeared!

Among the Rivers and Lakes Wuxia Community.

John D., the prolific translator and scholar of all things WuXia has started a new forum for people with a fascination for Chinese adventure fiction. Go check it out!

If you want a crash-course into WuXia fiction, and are pressed for time, check out the (very) short stories he’s translated. None will probably take you longer than 10 minutes to read, but all are bursting with style.

With luck, it will develop into a vibrant community of people who have fallen in love with this poetic and dynamic genre. (It’s only one of the most popular genres of literature in the world!)

Rob

Qin’s Moon 秦时明月

I just stumbled across this series today on the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove site, and watched the first episodes. It’s a computer animated WuXia TV series from China set during the Qin Dynasty (210 BC) about a spunky orphan who has come under the protection/tutelage of the Emperor’s (former) greatest swordsman.

The animation in the first season is a weird combination between gorgeous and weak (it’s almost better to think of it as an animated comic book than an animated TV series) and the writing also seems to jump between almost profound and somewhat lowbrow. Whoever wrote this knew the limitations of the form they were planning it in, and they show some real skill in working around the limited animation at times. (Although it does look like the animation gets much better with each successive season.)

Overall in tone I’d compare it to The Clone Wars, although since it seems to have started around the same time I’d say that was a co-incidence instead of the Chinese animators following in CW’s footsteps.

The first three seasons are available on Youtube, or on the fansubber’s site for direct download. Either way, it’s probably worth a look if you’re a fan of fantasy or martial arts action. I will probably keep watching it for a bit just to see where it goes, but I’m still deciding if I like it or not.

Swallow and Dragon – A Chinese Swordplay Novel

Link

Swallow and Dragon – A Chinese Swordplay Novel. is a new ongoing translation of a Taiwanese WuXia novel from 1959. A little fantastic for my tastes (I like my WuXia heroes slightly more grounded) but looks pretty interesting overall!

WuXia versus Kung Fu

Recently I’ve been watching a lot old Shaw Brothers Kung Fu movies on Youtube, and it occurred to me that from the point of view of someone not really familiar with the WuXia genre (ie most foreigners) there’s probably something they’re missing when they watch these films.

The WuXia genre is the Chinese equivalent to the American Western, or the Japanese Samurai film- a romanticized action story genre set in the past where good guys and bad guys are clearly marked most of the time. Its roots trace back to the Water Margins tales, but the genre really hit its stride in the early to mid 20th century when serialized pulp adventures about Xia became a mainstay of the Hong Kong and Taiwan publishing industry. Thus, just as Westerns flourished in the early part of the 20th century when film rose in popularity, so did the WuXia genre when the Hong Kong film industry bloomed somewhat later on.

Which brings me to the thing that most viewers outside Chinese speakers fail to understand when they watch these films- Kung Fu films are really two genres, not one. There are the Kung Fu films, and the WuXia films, but they are not the same thing. The WuXia films came first, because for the most part they are adaptions of those printed stories I mentioned above, and the Kung Fu films came later- generally being original stories created specifically for film. Knowing this, it’s actually not that hard to figure out which one you’re watching- if it has a complicated story with sudden jumps in time and location, it’s usually a novel-based WuXia adaption they’re cramming into a 90 minute film. If it’s a fairly smooth film with a simple linear plot and limited cast, it’s mostly likely a Kung Fu story made specifically for film.

To give actual examples- compare Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (a WuXia film that most non-Chinese people have seen) to Enter the Dragon or most Jackie Chan films like Drunken Master and you’ll see the differences. The other obvious hint is that a Kung Fu film is usually based around literal hand-to-hand combat, whereas most (but not all) WuXia films feature swordsmen as the main characters (thus WuXia films are sometimes nicknamed “Flying Swordsman” films by some reviewers). WuXia films also tend to center around the Jiang-Hu, or “Martial World”, and their byzantine politics as different clans and societies struggle for power against each other, whereas Kung Fu films generally amount to variants of “you killed my father/master/mother/sister/brother/dog- prepare to die!”.

It’s sad in some ways, that a lot of the scorn that the “Kung Fu” genre tends to get from the general non-Chinese public is actually based on the simple Kung Fu films, but the more complex WuXia films tend to get lumped in with them. While many WuXia films are indeed also crap, there are quite a few gems in there as well, such as the Sentimental Swordsman movies. (Although it too suffers from the typical WuXia problem of too much story and too little time.)

Not that “pure” Kung Fu films are always bad, movies like the 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Iron Monkey and even The Karate Kid are cinematic masterpieces that everyone would benefit from seeing. The point I’m trying to make is not that either genre is better than the other, but that they are different, and it’s a difference that’s worth being aware of if you’re going to appreciate these movies for what they have to offer-good and bad.