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Patreon Perks, Updates, and Company Building

Hello all! We are already in March (holy hell!) And I am working toward finishing the last part of Vengeance (my latest audiobook) You can find the others here.

My past audiobooks are completely free so that all of you can sample my work. However, starting this year I’m going to have to start charging for them as each piece can take upwards of 8-24 hours to make, depending on the sound effects. I wish I could keep releasing them for free, but something has got to give! I’m about to start a section in my Patreon specifically for audiobooks.

I’ll be posting all my podcasts for free as per usual and this next episode we took a vote and decided that my When East Meets West podcast would cover Japanese vs. American horror films. As most of you know, I have a real affinity for the dark side. You’ll find it in all of my writing.  Spring is in the air, which means I love to talk about the supernatural. hehe :3

Podcasts on YouTube

Podcasts on Soundcloud

Hell’s Gate is currently under revision and will have it all released together this year along with an art book. You can get the Kindle edition for free if you have Kindle unlimited. The first book (book 1) that I linked is 100% edited and done. Book 2 needs professional edits as I later discovered. Since I have a day job that I am currently only working part-time, I would like to finish this earlier than later so that I may continue to get more work out to all of you.

If you like my style and want more even if it’s just a dollar a month it helps! And, you’ll get it before anyone else. 

I just recently opened up a story that will be included with Hell’s Gate and it’s a companion to the Hell’s Gate Series. The story of the Weaver and the Cowherd. You can see samples of it on my Patreon here. 

Big things coming this year, as I further develop the company. Including our stream mini-series work (details to come later after we plan it all out) and of course more audiobooks, podcasts, and novels.

I’m only one person, and soon there will be more helpers but for now, it’s all me. That’s where all of you come in to help me in a big way.

With these funds, I can provide more content and have to do less of the backend work myself. For example, I currently do all of the social media, graphic design, illustration, marketing, on top of all of the content and writing/directing.

I don’t mind the work, but it is seriously dragging down my release dates. Thankfully, I am employing a few people this year that can help and getting our business proposal underway. I would love to finish out both Hell’s Gate and get my Sci-Fi novel released this year as well.

I don’t often like to post this because it seems like everyone is doing this that is an artist. With good reason, but it can get a little overwhelming for people to decide who to support. That’s why I offer so much of my work for free so that you can get a feel for my style, and hear the quality for yourself.

All that being said, thank you for taking the time to read this and hear me out. Any and all support goes directly to me and building my stories, illustrations, and writing to all of you. Thank you to all of my fellow supporters, artists, and a big hug to all the other struggling artists out there.

Take care and happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you.

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Comics are starting back up

For those of you that noticed, my comics have stopped for a while because I was dedicating my time to video editing my short film, Black, finishing the last edits on Hell’s Gate: Resurgence, and entering in NaNoWriMo. I also have been doing lives on Twitch and putting up audio stories and books on Youtube.

But the comics for me are a real way of expressing not only my daily joys and frustrations but a real form of release. I find it exciting to make other people laugh. Call it whatever you will, but I see so much crap online all the time that I find it my civic duty to make others laugh. If I don’t, I end up being this tightly wound ball of bitterness mixed with anxiety. I’ve decided that comics are a very real way for me to share with others. I generally enjoy making two types of comics: The Things My Boyfriend Does (or TTMBD) and life frustrations and silliness. Many, if not all of my comics are based on actual things that have happened to me or have been said to me. Don’t be fooled, because sometimes they are 100% random and plucked from my very demented mind.

Expect the Tuesday schedule to pick back up again. I won’t ever promise an exact time because of the chaos that is my life, but I will always generally have them up before 5. Thanks to everyone that has supported me!

I want to take a moment to also shout out to my Patrons:

  1. Brian and Amy Shader
  2. Seth Bailey
  3. Brent Smith
  4. Robert Vasquez

Without your help, I couldn’t make any of this a reality. Thank you so much! Check out this month’s rewards here.

If you would like to support me, but not become a Patron, you can also send it directly to me.

All of my donations go toward producing better content for all of you. Thanks guys~

If you would like to purchase my art, I will be placing it up in an online store soon! Sometimes, I also draw on Twitch as well and sell what I make. 😀

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Whew – An expression for this month

If you have checked out my YouTube, you’ll see I’ve been a busy lady. What is that? Is that music, Ms. Greyson? Why, yes. Yes, it is. I like to experiment and when I create my audio shorts, I tend to find most of my sound effects or use royalty free music. However, occasionally I enjoy making my own things along with the story I write. I love trying different things, and this was another way for me to experiment. The difficult side is finding musicians for vocals! But, worse case scenario, I just pay someone and send my stuff off to them to work their magic. I’m hoping that by accomplishing this, my creative demon is sated.

Currently, I’m working on my NaNoWriMo for 2017. You can follow me, add me as a friend, or get a sneak peek of the story and watch me struggle daily to try and catch up. My dumbass decided to wait too long to start, so I think I’ll probably be crossing the finish line and tripping over my own shoes and fall on my face. Best case scenario there.

So, if you were wondering why I was so quiet on social media, there’s your answer. I’ve taken a short break from Twitch, but I’ll pick it back up once a week again after hell month is over. My next creative twitch was voted on and everyone wanted a drawing vid, so I’ll hang out with all of you and do a little bit of fun painting!

Just a quick update to say I’m not dead yet.

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Live Events, Giveaways, and Anime Fest 2017

One of my all-time fav conventions is nearly here! Anime Fest (August 17th – 20th) has hands-down been one of my favorites since I started attending them some years ago. I am extremely biased when it comes to these sort of events, however, because I’ve always preferred smaller crowds. Granted, the fact that AnimeFest is now being hosted near my home in the Sheraton Hotel certainly means they’ve grown exponentially.

And have you SEEN the guest line up for this year? If you haven’t, seriously go look it up.

Unfortunately, for our team at Dusk Publishing, we weren’t able to snag a table this year at the event─ But, we are doing panels. And a panel I have planned oh hohoho~~

If you aren’t currently watching my Live Events, or are just kind of tuning in, I do live writing panels and stories for DuskLive on FB from 2p.m. – 2:30 p.m. These usually don’t go for more than a couple of minutes, but I like to stay on the safe side, just in case we have people asking questions! Once these live events are finished, I post them on all of my social media pages. So if you can’t attend, no worries─ they are always posted afterward. (like the one this past Sunday about a scary experience I had while I was in Japan doing research for the Hell’s Gate book series.)

For the AnimeFest panel, you can expect to have all my usual bizarre Japanese culture and Urban Legends content that you can find on Soundcloud (now slowly being added to my YouTube channel) and on my Livestream events.  This year, I’ll be covering modern Japanese urban legends and where they come from and also talking about some ancient Japanese urban legends. We’ll all sit and reminisce as I talk about my experiences from Japan (interesting, bizarre─ and the everyday life as a ‘normal’ Japanese citizen)

The panel will be held on Thursday, August 17th from 5 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in Panel 4. 

For this panel, I’ll have copies of Hell’s Gate readily available, or you can bring your own for signing!

If you aren’t aware, you can actually enter to win a free copy of Hell’s Gate in our contest. (Hurry, it’s only running until 7/27/17!)

This next Sunday, (July 30th) I’ll be covering ways to combat writer’s block and techniques that I use to help. See you guys there!

 

xoxo

C.A. ❤

 

Kimi no wa Movie Review – A Stunning Visual Masterpiece

Kimi no wa releases in the US this April 7th and it is every bit as amazing as everyone has lead on.

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Makoto Shinkai has yet again created a beautiful visual masterpiece. If his name sounds familiar, you may know him as the creator of Voices of a Distant Star or She and Her Cat or more recently in 2011 Children Who Chase Lost Voices

 

 

It is my firm belief that anyone can relate to and enjoy this movie, no matter if you are an anime or film fan. I was lucky enough to get a pre-screening and decided to share my experience with all of you.

The story follows the life two young people living in Japan:

Mitsuha from the fictional Japanese countryside town of Itomori.

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And Taki from the large city of Tokyo.

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It begins somewhat confusing as you slowly become aware that Mitsuha and Taki have switched lives. The interesting part of the story, was that it didn’t happen every day─ but rather, every so many days. You get to ride along with each individual as they experience the delicate intricacies of each other’s life.

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At first, they both lay out certain (and most definitely hilarious) rules for each other.

(I don’t care who you are, you will lose your shit at these scenes.)

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What starts as both people feeling a sort of general annoyance at this life change, gradually turns into an appreciation for each other, and respect for one another’s lives

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Until one day, Taki stops receiving messages from Mitsuha and begins to only wake to his normal, every day life.

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Time passes and Taki decides to take a train to the town to discover why Mitsuha has stopped being such an important element in his life.

What he finds, will simply floor you.

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Enter the life of Mitsuha and everything that happened within the lost time.

 

Eventually the two find one another again,  working together to prevent one of the biggest tragedies Japan has seen in a long time.

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It is as eloquent as it is brilliant─ written to pull the heart strings as much as provide you with a hearty laugh. It is one of those films that literally takes you on an emotional roller coaster.

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It’s a story of tolerance, acceptance, and walking in someone else’s shoes. It will sweep you into its magic and make you really feel as if you are part of something larger than yourself.

It’s a story of fate.

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Do yourself a favor─ Grab a box of tissues, go with your dearest pals or family and experience this amazing film together. I promise you will love it.

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I give it a huge 5 out of 5 possible stars.

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Here are the official trailers, please enjoy!

Official Trailer

English Version Trailer

What’s next?

2/12 Valentine’s Day Japanese Cake Recipe Blog – How to make one for your sweetie in the US. If you don’t understand the difference in Valentine’s Day in Japan and White Day, here’s a little info over both.

Info here:  Valentine’s Day and White Day in Japan – The difference

2/14 Come visit my podcast/audio book page here: https://arisevalhalla.org/podcasts/ for thrills and chills this Valentine’s Day as I talk about internet urban legends Kisaragi Station, Slenderman, and The NoEnd House.

 

 

Quick update – Today’s Comic Release

Hey guys! This is just a brief update on yesterday and today. Normally, I release a comic every Tuesday. As most of you know, I have a day job like everyone else.

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Which means my days can go from busy to:

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When you run a company, and work a day job (plus adding a kiddo to the mix 2-4 days a week) let’s just say my life is not lacking excitement.

Yesterday was a day of nightmares.

Finally, after trudging home at 10 p.m. (having worked at my job which currently has me as Marketing Director/CSR/Web Designer) I finally was able to try and finish my comic. Then, the realization hit me. I’d left my file at work and forgot to save it on G-Drive.

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Needless to say, (tl;dr) I’ll have it up today.

Check out my poll on twitter today @chrystal_Annecd at noon─

You all get to vote what my next Urban Legend podcast will be over. :3

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Happy thoughts, children. ❤

─ C.A.

Horror has a Bad Rep – Is that Merited?

From the sub-genre, to main genre, horror has had some pretty great times─

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To downright deplorable moments.

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But if you look at the genre all together, it really does have a bad reputation. Why is that, and is it merited?

The answer is more complex than you think. My personal favorite are thrillers and shows with thriller/horror like elements. For example, in shows such as Westworld, The Walking Dead, or Game of Thrones, the horror elements are fleshed out─ they’re balanced. But notice how I said that. Elements. The average person does not like to constantly be underestimated with cheap thrills, or jump scares. We like depth, we like just the right amount of complexity without over-thinking the scene.

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The director and casting director have a tough job. They have to not only convey the entire story within a reasonable amount of time, they have to embody the feeling through a combination of images, background, and good actors. This is a huge over-simplification of the process, but bare with me.

The main reason for disdain with the genre is the director’s focus. Much like the adult industry, horror gets caught up in ‘the money shot’ if you will and wants to creep-out or scare the audience as much as possible. But there is a huge piece of the picture they aren’t seeming to get.

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Horror fans are changing. We don’t want two dimensional characters as cliche as something you’d see on the CW. (and in my defense, I liked Supernatural so keep your pitchforks at bay.) What does better, time and time again are shows with elements of creepy/unknown because it’s alluring. No one wants to see the whole thing at once. And the whole ‘bad guy coming to get you’ is just over-done. Found footage? C’mon, that died years ago. The problem, I find, is that the whole industry is just outdated.

We live in the information age. If I can pick apart every issue and guess the film’s ending in the first 10-15 minutes of it, there’s a problem. Not everyone has to have that surprise element, or a twist. You don’t have to have a boogie man that just won’t die. Don’t make flimsy characters whose sole purpose is to die. I can’t tell you how frustrated I get with weak/pathetic characters that just stumble around and cry.

“Nope! I’m gonna die. Guess I’ll just walk down this road in a straight path and bawl my pretty eyes out. That’ll work.”

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Build an atmosphere. Make competent characters that try their hardest and still fail. The Green Room actually came pretty damn close to this, and I enjoyed it. The people weren’t helpless, it felt real. Like it genuinely could happen.

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Nightcrawler? One of my all-time favs to date. But, I am admittedly a little biased since I love Jake Gyllenhaal. If you haven’t seen this, do yourself a favor─ watch it, like, yesterday.

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But what do I know? That’s just my two cents.

 

What are some of your favorite horror films? Comment, share! 

 

2016, I dub thee The Year of the Turd Part 1

I’m not sure what wayward deity, or all of the Fates I managed to piss off, but I know one thing for sure. This has been a poop year. Not a mildly frustrating, not bad, but damn dude you flipping pissed off every god in existence and they’re coming for blood.

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Picture this: You see that puppy? Bobo? We’ll call him Bobo. Why? Because I’m too lazy to actually look up every image I find online. Imagine little Bobes here─ cute, free, and happy frolicking in blissful ignorance at all the cute things that seem to bring him joy and happiness.

He doesn’t need much, just a ‘good boy’ every now and then, some food and water, and to feel safe.

Well, folks, I’m Bobo. I don’t need much, I don’t like overly complex situations and especially where my love life is concerned. I like it simple and things to be happy.

 

Every now and then I bark, I may even bite, but I get over it quickly. Well, last year was a shit-storm of my own doing. I managed to stay involved with someone that was very bad for me. Cue the sob story and tiny violin, and many craptastic months later, we are no longer engaged.

Oh! But my kind heart, it knows no bounds. It’s masochistic tendencies can put some monks across the world to shame. I called him once a week, even after I was moved out. He’d always answer with the same response, ‘I just don’t know how I feel and that I might never get those feelings back.’ The whole time seeing me and someone else. Later that week, I found out what I suspected. It had been more like the last 4 months of us engaged.

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1 month later, I existed. Minus a fiance, a car, and barely a place to stay─ along with what I was sure were very confused neighbors as I practiced Krav at all hours of the night─ I knew money would be tight, but I convinced myself that all would be ok.

Optimisim!

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Like all things after 4 months went by, I finally was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was doing great at my new job, got promoted to a lead position and was doing training presentations every week. I found great joy and took pride in teaching others.

And then, it happened.

We all get called into the office in May. Our entire department (at giant tech company with four main colors in their logo that’s square shaped – a wink, wink) decided to end our contract and make it impossible to switch to another department due to our ‘skillset’ and changing rules about tech support not getting to switch over as fast track engineers.

We had a choice, move to Manila in the Philippines, or lose our job.

I have a daughter. This was not an option.

So, I lucked out given that our team was allowed 6 weeks to find new work. Oh and bright eyed and bushy tailed, I started. Over one hundred applications a week, calling, re-calling, sending follow-up emails, asking why I was not chosen for candidacy, phone interview after phone interview, and hiring someone to fix my resume to make it look more appealing.

Finally, two months later, (and probably some very frustrated HR staff) I land a job through a staffing agency.It’s amazing! I’m excited. I was making more, getting to be in a Junior Marketing position, and great benefits. I was warned that it was just a trial period, but I poured my heart into that job. I’m doing to work of 2 people, like someone fresh out of college.

Until─ my meds were out.

I have asperger (now called high functioning autism) in combination with depression and ADHD. Often, these all coincide with each other.( Just ask the community on that.) I was nervous, only having been employed for a month and didn’t want to lose my job.

Remember Bobo?

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Cute, sweet, naive Bobo.

Yep, that’s me. I wanted to be honest with my employer!

So, what did I do? I explained that I would seem a little out of focus and become anxious until my insurance kicked in at the end of the month.

My new boss went from kind and understanding, to apprehensive and quiet. She stopped assigning work to me, kept to herself, and called me into her office. She had just returned from a business trip and explained that someone had caught me doing personal work during work hours. Which wasn’t in the least bit true. I was working on a novel during my lunch hour.

I. Was. Mortified.

I went into a mode that normal people can’t really relate to. I call it aspie rage. Not directed at others, but at yourself. It’s vicious, it’s painful, and you are extremely hard on yourself. The worst part is, you shut down emotionally─ feeling as if the world hates you, and you hate yourself, because they think poorly of you.

I got so distraught, that the next day I woke up very sick. So sick, I couldn’t get out of bed. I had to make a choice, go in like that and possibly chance that it was a virus and get others sick─ or to stay home and rest.

I chose to stay home. I needed it. It was the wrong choice.

The next day, I lost my job.

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My now boyfriend, had barely been seeing me for four months at this point. He had allowed me to move in with him when I lost my apartment in July.

Let me rephrase that─

I didn’t just lose my apartment, I lost everything. No job, no place to stay, no work in sight. I was looking at living from out of my car and my gym membership until I found steady work.

When I got that call, I felt like the biggest screw up in the history of ever. He had been paying my bills, and I returned the favor by losing my job. I beat myself up mentally for a while before finally he told me that it was OK, and not to worry about it.

How I wish my brain worked that easily. Just, ‘alright, we’re going to stop calling ourselves a waste of space now!’ It’s taken years to get as well as I have at not doing that. And still, I know I have room to grow.

Stay tuned for part two, kiddos!

–C

Hell’s Gate Trilogy

Where did you get your inspiration?

Many moons ago, this lady had a childhood. (Don’t take that tone of thoughts with me, reader, I hear it in your mind words.) For what my mother lacked, she made up with books. Our family loved stories, and my stepfather could spin a tale. I grew up learning about Chinese and Japanese folklore.

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Though I was fond of many, the one that always stuck out in my mind was The Weaver and the Cowherd.

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In book one of the trilogy, Celeste walks the long corridor of Matilda’s home which is filled with intriguing paintings. This section of the story combines the Tale of the Jade Emperor and the 12 signs of the Zodiac as well as The Weaver and the Cowherd.

Similarly, you may have read or heard about the star crossed lovers with the celebration of Tanabata in Japan. The tales are similar, but vary slightly from China to Japan.

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The gist of the tales, is that the Weaver of the stars fell in love with a lowly cowherd boy. Zhinü (or Orihime in the Japanese version) was forbidden by the Jade Emperor (Sky King, or Tentei in Japan) to fall in love with Niulang (Hikoboshi in Japan) and was separated by the Silver River, which represents the Milky Way.

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The only time the lovers are allowed to meet are on the 7th day of the 7th month when a flock of magpies flies down to allow them to rejoin.

I encourage all of you to actually read the tales, they are quite fascinating. But just know that the theme of forbidden love is probably the oldest in human history and still manages to top the charts with sales in the romance section.

On that note, I refuse to write romance. That’s sissy stuff. I easily get annoyed and the eye rolls begin as I’m cringing through most overly-emotional shows or characters. Don’t get me wrong, a little romance never hurts, but when I see people on screen making dumb choices, my aspie self goes bananas. I’ve managed to offend most people with my rants on how Character A should just off Character F because they are a huge risk to the group. Their jaws drop and I get a 5 minute lecture on human compassion. Yes, compassion is fine and good, but senor bleeding heart mc-love machine needs to take a swan dive over the cliff. Love doesn’t cure the badies rounding the corner because some dude is raising a ruckus to save his already-dead gal’s dignity.

 

…um, she doesn’t need that nor can she feel it. She’s dead, lady. She’s dead. /rant.

 

Why am I telling you this? Because I did a little trickses in Hell’s Gate. Besides the hidden meanings and sayings within the passages, I left a bit of an Easter egg in the story. I’m quite fond of superstitions and find them wickedly delicious when playing tricks on others. To top that off, I start the first book in what seems to be a tale of a love-driven main character. By chapter two, the water works end and by the end of the book, we discover a very different side to her love interest. Just you wait until book 2. I’m practically cackling. Next blog? The life that has kicked my arse for the past two years, and up and coming WIP.

Growing up in a ‘non-traditional’ American Houshold

I’m sure most of you read that title and didn’t know what to make of it. And to be fair, what IS a ‘non-traditional’ American household? Well to a lot of people reading this, (and if you assumed like I would have some years ago) you would think I meant a sort of an ‘eclectic’ type living. You would only partially be wrong, but I’ll get to that on a later blog.

Let’s get to the point: My childhood wasn’t what you would think when you look at me. Yes, I’m not the traditional blonde-haired, blue-eyed, etc. ─ but you know I’m a white woman. And for every time that I’ve assumed things about others, you’ve assumed things about me.  To look at me, you probably assumed that I lived in a middle-class household with a few dogs, some siblings, and an easy (somewhat pampered) life. That I graduated from a university on my parent’s budget and that they purchased my fist car for me. Though I could rant on this topic as a whole for quite some time, I’ll spare you the details and wrap this up by saying: you would be dead wrong. Very wrong. No-good, very bad, and just plain wrong.

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The most common question people like to ask me, is how I got into Japanese and Asian culture. A lot of my work often dabbles in both Eastern and Western philosophies. Why? Because growing up, I got to experience what a lot of families have not. My parents were an inter-racial couple. This was very racy, even in the 90’s.

Let me back-track a bit. My real father (who is a whole other long and complicated story saved for another time) is actually white. Unless, of course you discount the fact that my great-great grandparents were full-blooded Cherokee─ he is as white as they come. Even lives on a plot of land with some recently purchased chickens and his rescue dogs. (My dad’s a real softy for rescues)

What did that mean for me growing up? Well, my maternal grandfather was not at -all- OK with his daughter dating an ‘oriental’. There were MUCH worse things muttered in our household, and during the holidays, but let’s just let me keep those in my head and not yours, hmm?

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My step-father raised me from the time that I was three years old. My parents had divorced when I was a baby, my mother taking me full-time. I’d love to get into this story, but later, as some very interesting details were discovered by myself after many years of prodding. I immediately accepted my step-father and often still catch myself referring to him as ‘dad’ because to me─ he was.

He was one of the hardest working people I had the pleasure of knowing. He worked long, and often grueling work schedules over-night, would sleep for a few hours, and then attended college. What always amazed me, is how he managed to work a 40 hour work week, school full-time, and still kept a 4.0 grade average. Even during my best semesters and working full-time, I wasn’t able to achieve this. The man was a flipping genius.

Despite those long hours, he always managed to set aside time to dedicate to me, and later both me and my brother after he was born. My mother was a stay at home mom (only after my step-dad told her that he wanted her to stay with us, because damned if my mother wasn’t anything but stubborn on this subject─ she was fiercely independent) and being that she never even graduated from high school (she had me at 17), didn’t have the knowledge to help with my homework. He was especially diligent in teaching me all the things that I struggled with, telling me that I could do anything I set my mind to.

Though my step-dad was a product of a Chinese father, and a white, American mother, we still had somewhat odd traditions than most families at the time. For example, our New Year’s was in February. We still celebrated the American New Year, but our’s was more special. It was about family─ about gathering together, eating special seasonal dumplings or food, and gifts. My eyes would simply sparkle as a child when I was handed those little red envelopes.

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And nothing, I repeat n.o.t.h.i.n.g. can get me more excited than salted plum, or salted plum flavored anything─ that is my childhood in a bottle. My stepdad would bring these home for me all the time. I loved sour things as a kid, and he would make special trips to the Asian shops to get them. Noodles? Check. Rice cooking all day and me coming home to this? Check. If you combined three of the best smells in the world to me, it would be: cooked rice (especially jasmine), salted plum, and star anise (which smells just like licorice). We would go to real Chinese restaurants near us, with hand-pulled noodles, and perfectly cooked rice.

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So if you happen upon a little place called Chinatown or Asian Marts across the metroplex, know there is a happy white girl perusing the spoils of local grocers trying to capture her odd little world in an all-American life.

-C