Fantasy Romance Sale!

fantasy romance 2

From fairy tale romance to fantasy romance, there are 15+ books here (labelled with a handy ‘heat level’ star guide) for $1.99 and under. (Also, there are some GORGEOUS covers which I’m not supposed to judge by but *mumblemumble*I do*mumblemuble*)

That’s all I have to say.

As you were.

I’m off to write some words now…oh yeah, and upload stuff to Wattpad.

So keep your eye out for another blog post, stat…

Cover Reveal & Excerpt: Bright as the Eyes of You

I’m trying an experiment. More precisely, I’m experimenting on you.

You’re grateful, I know.

You’re probably wondering what that has to do with either a cover reveal or an excerpt.

Allow me to explain. Bright as the Eyes of You is one of my new WiPs (the other two being the 2nd Two Monarchies book and a Carmine & Fancy slightly-longer-short-story).

More importantly, I will be uploading a chapter of it to Wattpad every two weeks.

Theoretically, that is. If I get behind, hopefully it will go without saying that I’m trying to concentrate on the quality of the story (as opposed to simply me being lazy). Because I would never be so lazy. Really, though.

It will be both exciting and terrifying for me, as I’ve never posted a WiP piecemeal before; but I’ve got a good feeling about this one, and I’m interested in feedback.

Also, I really love the cover and I want to show it off.

So there.

Behold! The Beautiful & Wondrous Jenny-Cover that is Bright as the Eyes of You!

image

And below is the first 500-odd words of Bright as the Eyes of You, a quick preview before I upload the 1st chapter on Wattpad early next week.

Enjoy!

1

I See all Kinds of Sorrow

I don’t remember when I first started to Dream. I don’t know why I began to Dream, either, or even how the way I Dream is possible. It could have been because I was bored. Perhaps it was because I’m nosy. Yes, that’s far more likely. I was bored and nosy, and for the first fifteen years of my life I couldn’t walk, so what else was there to do but Dream?

I didn’t know I was spying on people. Not at first, at least. And when I did find out, I didn’t care: I couldn’t stop the Dreams, and it was pointless to be embarrassed by something I couldn’t help. The Dreams came by night or by day, intruding upon the real world until it was all but impossible to tell which was real and which the Dream. My nights were long, but my days were longer, and the Dreams were a welcome distraction from the beige ceiling and the window from which I could see only grey sky. In Scandia the sky is always grey and the ceiling always beige: there’s probably a moral in there somewhere.

You have questions. That’s all right. Ask away.

Oh, that’s a clever one: no one has asked me that before. Did the Dreams come first, or the paralysis? I don’t know for sure, but I can guess. I think the Dreams came first, tugging my soul away from my body, and I became so used to being away from my body that I never learnt how to use it or really live in it.

But it’s more than that. I’m left alone in my quarters most of the time, simply forgotten. People don’t see me. Servants sweep past me without bowing, and if I’m not very careful, I get left out in the garden when I take the air on my couch. I used to think it was because I was actually dead, and perhaps I wasn’t so far off. After all, what is a body without a soul, and why should a soulless body be seen?

 

The year that made me seventeen, my dreams of Eppa began a few weeks before I actually arrived in that country for my now annual visit. It wasn’t unusual for me to dream about Eppa, though I didn’t often dream about it when I wasn’t there. My dreams chiefly follow people rather than places, and I normally dream of the people I’m with. Unless it’s Jessamy, of course. I dream about Jessamy no matter where he is. That’s probably why the dreams began early, if it comes to that.

I was a perpetual nomad, flitting between Eppa and Scandia, and though my father made sure I spoke both Eppan and Scandian, my real home was Scandia. My home was small and light, one of a long line of seaside houses that faced the bare, open shore. I couldn’t see the water from my windows unless it was a day when I could walk, and those were few and far between. The rest of the time I spent on my chaise lounge, my view alternating between beige ceiling, empty sky beyond the frame of my window, and the dreams that visited me by day and night.

***

That’s it for now. Keep an eye out for my tweets and FB posts once the Wattpad chapter is out if you want to read more!

Exciting News! (Also, Help!)

Guys!

Masque has been nominated for, and come out as a finalist in, the 2016 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards!

Twice.

Once in Best Novel, then again in Best Fantasy (High Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery).

Screenshot (142)Screenshot (143)

Whhhhhheeeeeeeeeeee!

The finalists are now open to public votes, so if you’ve read and enjoyed Masque, please head on over to the Bards and Sages eFestival of Words website and vote in one (or both!) categories. I promise to think you’re awesome for the rest of my life!

10 Things I Hate About KDrama (Part Two)

And now for the final installment of my KDrama 10 Things posts!

I know, I know. You’re excited, right? And kind of sad, because the end has come.

Wait, no. That’s how I feel toward the end of a particularly good KDrama.

But if you are sad: Not to worry! Further blog posts on KDrama will be forthcoming. Mostly reviews of my favourites, so keep your eyes peeled.

Meanwhile, here are the last 5 Things I Hate About KDrama…

The Inevitable Part Where Our Main Female Lead Gets Drunk

Oh, how I abominate this trope! It seems to be a pretty universal one: I don’t think I’ve seen a KDrama where there isn’t a drunk scene with the MFL. These scenes range from cute and mildly amusing to horrifyingly embarrassing (they seem to serve mainly as a catalyst for confessions of love or hate), and they never fail to irritate me. I can understand why they’re included–the Korean culture seems still to be so much a patriarchal one where the women bow their heads and do as they’re told, that there’s a need for some kind of catalyst to throw them out of that and make them act with boldness. Or speak with boldness, as the case may be.

But I still hate it. Drunken women are just as unappealing as drunken men, and drunken women are in a lot more danger than men who get themselves into the same state. It’s a dangerous sort of behaviour to promote.

Gong Shim, who plays hide and seek (in the garbage) when drunk...

Gong Shim, who plays hide and seek (in the garbage) when drunk…

The Drama

So, again: this is something that is on both of my lists. Meaning I both love and hate it.

I love the depths to which KDrama takes its characters: the highs and lows, the challenges and the triumphs, the soul-searching and the growth. Being that there are usually 12-20 hour long episodes devoted to the one story-line and one set of characters, there’s the scope for depth and well-drawn characters; and for the most part, KDrama seems to do that remarkably well.

Until it doesn’t.

Then you get the angsty, soap-opera style of drama that underpins too many of the KDramas I’ve seen (and promptly rage-quit watching). Your MFL, in her pursuit of the MML, will cry and whine and angst and despair. The MML, in being pursued, will suffer from the worst kind of bipolar disorder–one day he’ll be furious at being bothered, the next, when his MFL finally gets a backbone and decides not to take the insults anymore, he will actively cling to her, putting paid to any thoughts of healthy independence in her silly little head. (Not mentioning any names, but *coff*Playful Kiss*coff*)

pk

You, sir, are a prat.

Or, or (oh my ragey heart!) a hitherto perfectly good KDrama that should and could have ended with 12 or 14 episodes, is artificially expanded with angsty drama that drags it down into what I call the Sticky Middle. The best KDramas I’ve seen do not have a Sticky Middle. They continue evenly and build beautifully, with the best kind of depth.

KDramas with a Sticky Middle, on the other hand, seem to bog down at about episode 9 or 10, and don’t really pick up again until the 15th or 16th episode. All the humour and fun is subsumed in the tears and angst, and one might be forgiven for thinking that some of the female leads were chosen specifically for their ability to cry.

It’s depressing.

Seriously.

If a KDrama is good enough, I’ll stay with it even through the Sticky Middle, but I infinitely prefer those without.

Gratuitous Objectification of Men and Young Boys

This might sound like I’m having a laugh, but I’m not. You think women are objectified in western movies (they are, but that’s a discussion for another day)? Watch KDrama and find out that while the girls are (usually) kept out of the grimier spotlight, almost every single male lead, be he 17 or 37, will have a shower/change scene. And it’s no good telling me that what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, because I am very much of the opinion that two wrongs do not make a right. If it’s objectification when it happens to young girls, it is also objectification when it happens to young boys.

I know there are a lot of people who aren’t going to have a problem with this point (and it seems extremely unusual for it to proceed further than a bare chest), but it still gives me the same squicky feeling I get when I watch a western movie where the very young female lead is parading around in her barely-there underwear for that getting-changed scene that movies always seem to have.

On the bright side, I really do love that KDramas (mostly) seem to be very careful about the modesty of their female stars. It’s lovely. I’d just like to see the same care taken of the male stars.

MFLs with Split Personalities

Okay, so technically, it’s not a split personality. It’s actually just bad writing, and it’s bad writing that even the best KDramas are just a tiny bit guilty of. Inconsistent characterisation, in fact, which I always find difficult to forgive.

Let me explain.

You may have noticed my penchant for violence. As in, I really love a MFL who is not only capable of punching the MML (or in fact any of the Male Leads) in the face when they deserve it, but actually does punch them in the face.

It warms the cockles of me little ‘eart.

So when that MFL, who all the way through the show is tough and strong, and fully capable of taking care of herself, becomes fearful and useless and cowering in the last episode (or worse, half way through the series), I find it excruciatingly frustrating. Worse, often she becomes so simply and purely because it’s necessary for the MML’s gratification/aggrandisement.

Aaaaaaargh!

No. Fix your characterisation, KDrama! If your MML isn’t man enough to not feel threatened by the MFL’s strength, write another, better MML who is.

Soon Joon (Falling For Innocence)

Soon JoonShe has smarts–serious smarts. It’s seen through the whole first half of the drama, where she manages to outwit our MML quite a few times in business matters, and proves that she is a very good ally.

Unfortunately, she then has to take a back seat in the business/political type machinations so that our MML can triumph with his own cleverness.

This, I did forgive, simply for the fact that the MFL’s strength in another area was more clearly shown up by her lack in this area. Soon Joon didn’t become any less for the MML’s failure to properly utilise all her strengths. Besides which, his growth as a character was still shown through it, and his triumph would still not have been possible but for her strength behind him.

Joo Hee (After School Bokbulbok, Season 2)

Screenshot (139)Spends most of the series making the boys live in fear of her fists and is actively awesome, then as a necessary element for the last episode, is stripped of all that fierce fighting spirit and left cowering so that the MML can rescue her.

I find that very hard to forgive, and if After School Bokbulbok, Season 2 hadn’t been so flamin’ hilarious, I wouldn’t have forgiven it. Also worth noting is the fact that I don’t actively reccomend After School Bokbulbok, Season 2 as it has far too many things in it that I wasn’t comfortable with.

But for the purposes of illustration, it illustrates this particular KDrama Hate perfectly.

Yoon Seo (Noble, my Love)

*breathe, W.R., breathe*

No.

Nope.

I get too ragey about this one.

(I should also mention that I laughed a lot, but the ragey feelings are what I chiefly remember).

not irritated

Romance is Not (Always) the Point

I’m really torn about this one. As with a few of the things I’ve hated (each of which has had its side that I loved) there is actually quite a bit I like about this.

The main romance thread through KDrama will usually come to its zenith somewhere about the middle of the drama. By this point, love will (usually) have been declared and kisses (usually) exchanged. From that point on, there will be relationship issues (if it’s an annoying, angsty drama), or plot-line related issues (if it’s a good one).

It’s not a thing I love. My favourite form of romance is where the main romantic plotline is resolved toward the end of the story. This is mostly because when the romantic plot-line is resolved in the middle of the story, there is usually only angst to come.

In KDrama it ain’t necessarily so. In fact, some of my favourite KDramas have completed the first part of their romance plot-line somewhere in the middle of the drama, and then continued on strongly because it wasn’t just about the romance–or at least, not just about the exciting beginning of the romance. It was about growing together as a couple and facing the difficulties to come (in the form of the other main plotlines).

That’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s flamin’ brilliant writing, and it shows how good of writing it is that I keep watching.

It's not. It's really not. You're just stupid.

It’s not. It’s really not. But then, maybe all stalkers think like that…

But remember the Sticky Middle? Yeah, if your KDrama is finishing its main romantic plot in the middle of the drama, and from then on it’s all angst and separation and reconciliation and separation ad nauseum, I’ll stop watching.

Because–say it with me!–“Life is too short to watch bad T.V.”

This concludes my four part series of (ridiculously long) KDrama posts on 10 Things I Love/Hate About KDrama.

Hit me with your reccs (if you have any) and feel free to ask questions. Also remember that taste is completely subjective, so if you hate the things I loved, and vice versa, try looking for KDramas you’ll like in the ones I didn’t like…

 

10 Things I Hate About KDrama (Part One)

Okay, you know the drill. Been watching KDrama, loving some things, hating others, too long and gasbaggy to keep this down to one post, so ya got another two-parter.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

I guess I’ve just got a giving heart.

Anyhoo.

Some of the 10 Things are minor niggles. Some of them are pet hates. Some of them are things that make me fume and scream and rage-quit. Some of them are things that just make me give a small, sarcastic hiss of laughter and say: “Oh really?” 

So here goes, again in no particular order. 10 Things I Hate About KDrama, Part The First.

The ‘Accidental Kiss’

So there’s this thing in KDrama.

It’s this thing where the characters are secretly attracted to each other (or perhaps simply don’t yet realise that they’re attracted to each other), and through a terribly coincidental accident or ‘adorably’ clumsy moment, end up kissing. Like, the girl falls off a chair or a bench or something (this method seems remarkably popular–hint: ladies, if you tend to fall off things, flamin’ well don’t climb on ’em, yeah?) and the hero, in catching her, ends up accidentally locking lips with her. ACCIDENTALLY.

accidental kiss flower boys next door

YEAH. FLAMING. RIGHT.

You know how I said that this was in no particular order? I lied. This one cheeses me off the most. And when I say ‘cheeses me off’, I mean I sit there saying: “Oh really? Where is the blood? Why aren’t your lips mashed to a bloody pulp fit to rival The Walking Dead?”

Mates, it’s simple. Lips may be soft, but they’re backed by teeth, which really aren’t. I so much want to see a scene where the heroine loses her front teeth and the hero’s annoyingly bee-stung lips are a bloody, gory mess. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN TWO MOUTHS COLLIDE AT HIGH SPEED AND SIGNIFICANT IMPACT.

(Sourced from Stuck-In-A-Loop) This. This is what happens.

(Sourced from Stuck-In-A-Loop)
This. This is what happens. It’s not cute, and it’s not pretty. You WILL look like a zombie.

(There’s only one instance that I’ll forgive and it’s sheerly because of Park Shin-Hye and Yoon Shi-Yoon, who are both so adorable as Dok-Mi and Kkae-Geum that I’ll forgive them almost anything. Also, there was no falling from a great height, just a minor impact. Also, also, it was unusual in that he was the one who fell on her, which made me laugh.)

Arrogant Male Leads who win ALL THE TRICKS

AUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!

Okay, it’s out of my system. For now.

But maaaan, is it annoying!

Here’s the setup: your Main Female Lead (henceforth MFL) is a bright, determined, stubborn woman. She doesn’t give up. She makes things work. She is kind and principled and clever.

Enter MML (Main Male Lead). Maybe she saves his life. Maybe she accidentally sends him hurtling into a vat of concrete (I’m firmly of the opinion that she should leave him there but no one listens to me). Maybe she piques his interest ‘cos every other woman ever falls at his feet in an infatuated heap, and he *blurk*’likes a woman with spirit’*blurk*. Naturally he is unbelievably handsome and all the women love him.

Because apparently it's ok to be a prat if you're beautiful and/or sexy. I wanted to punch this guy in the face SO OFTEN.

Because apparently it’s ok to be an abusive prat if you’re beautiful and/or sexy. I wanted to punch this guy in the face SO OFTEN.

Whichever way it happens, the hero decides pretty quickly that he needs this woman in his life. He may not realise exactly why at the time, but he’s pretty clear that she’s not allowed to go anywhere, or with any one. To achieve this, he will (if he’s rich) buy up whole buildings to force her into the one he wants her in, get her fired from her job, make her homeless, make her indebted, and basically mess with her in a fashion that’s about as close to torture as you can get without blood.

She will initially struggle and try to fight back, but will eventually come to him with her tail between her legs (or, if the writer prefers to save face) with a reason as to why she changed her mind. After a protracted battle where he wins all the tricks and she manages not to do a single thing that could have ended the cycle for good (like engage in assault and battery, for example), bam, they’re together, exactly where and how he wanted them to be.

Can you say: “Abusive Relationship?”

And after being worn down like that and having all agency taken away from her, the MFL will still fall in love with this grade-A prat. Worse, during the struggle, all of her vaunted determination and cleverness and self-reliance will have proved to be just window-dressing on the part of a writer who had to have a reason for the MML to fall for the MFL in the first place. Of course, once he has, who needs that window-dressing?

Pft, Consistent Characterisation? What’s that? Can I eat it?

I would like to stress here that the best KDramas I’ve seen do not do this. It has, however, been prevalent enough in the rest of ’em to make me want to reach through the T.V. and physically hurt those arrogant MMLs who are verbally or emotionally abusing their MFLs (Noble, my Love, I’m glaring at you).

I would also like to stress that in the best KDramas, even if a MML starts out as an arrogant idiot, he is always changed into something infinitely more lovable during the course of his adventures and trials. This change can be effected because of the MFL, or because of a capability to learn and change on the part of the MML (which is even more satisfying).

Perfect hair...as in, perfect for grabbing so I can rub his face in the dirt.

Perfect hair…as in, perfect for grabbing so I can rub his face in the dirt. Ji Sung-Joon from She Was Pretty only just made it through my 3 episode rule.

So I’ve made a rule for myself. If I spend more than three episodes wanting to grab a MML by his perfectly coiffed hair and forcibly acquaint his face with the nearest table-top, without once thinking ‘Oh, poor baby!’ Or ‘Ah! So that’s why!’ I stop watching.

Why?

Because life is too short to keep watching bad T.V. Also, there are far too many great KDramas out there to be wasting my time on the bad ones.

TSTL MFLs (AKA, Main Female Leads who are Too Stupid To Live)

This indirectly leads off the previous point, in that one of the biggest things an arrogant MML will taunt a MFL with, is the charge of being stupid. This seems to be a much bigger thing in Korean T.V. than it is in Australia: probably because we don’t actually care about being called stupid (Study-Til-Your-Nose-Bleeds isn’t a thing here).

My problem with this is more than the constant barrage of insults the MML shoots at the MFL. The big, BIG problem I have with this is that the MFL doesn’t actually usually start out as stupid. She may not be book smart, but she usually has a different kind of smarts. She is also usually kind, lovely, and proactive in helping others.

So of course, I sit there calling out and verbally abusing the MML because of his insults, and basically getting all rage-quitty.

Then we get to somewhere in the middle of the drama and the MFL starts to do really, really stupid things. Things like following the MML around like a dog. Or stalking him across campus and hiding behind bushes to watch him while he’s on a date. Getting hit by a car while she’s following someone. Or doing THE THING, THE ONLY THING that he told her not to do. Or–oh my ragey heart!–making the exact same mistake over and over and over and OVER AGAIN.

Basically proving true every single insult he ever made about her.

Playful Kiss. I would like you both to die now, please. And bring on the dude who checks if the petrol tank on his motorbike is empty by using his lighter, cos even he isn't as stupid as these two are. Plus, he's funnier.

From Playful Kiss. I would like you both to die now, please.
And bring on the dude who checks if the petrol tank on his motorbike is empty by using his lighter, cos even he isn’t as stupid as these two are. Plus, he’s funnier.

I can’t even.

I can’t odd.

RAGE. QUIT.

I will forgive a lot in a kind heroine, but not that.

OTT MFLs (AKA, Main Female Leads who are Ridiculously, Embarrassingly Clumsy and/or Cling to the MML like Lawyer Vine)

Let me state a basic rule of thumb, MFLs. If you have to install an app on his phone to track his whereabouts, it’s not a crush. You’re a stalker.

Writers, I want to love your MFL. I want to love her and sigh for her and cheer her on. And that’s really hard to do when she’s an idiot who clings to the MML with all the tenacity of Lawyer Vine, without a smidgen of self-control, self-respect, or pride. I mean, how much humiliation and rejection do you have to imbibe before you finally realise that he’s not into you?

Only in KDrama, he will eventually be into her. Because if you stalk a guy long enough, of course he’s eventually going to think you’re cute and fall in love with you. Of course he’s not going to have you put under a restraining order or actively run away from you. Because you’re the cute MFL, and the paradigm is created solely for you.

I hate your guts.

Also. MFLs who are so cringeworthily clumsy that I’m watching entire episodes through my fingers because I can’t bear to look.

I hate you too.

It’s not just clumsiness. It’s unbelievable, ridiculous clumsiness. How have these girls not died? HOW? At some point they would get run over, or accidentally impaled, or slip in the shower, or any number of things.

You. Clumsy/awkward MFL. Why are you holding your head like that? You look like a chook. A scrawny chook. Why are you rushing around like that when you know you fall over? I spend most of my time with these MFL wailing: “Why would you do that? Why? Why would you do that?

Unfortunately, MFLs who are either of the above tend to be BOTH of the above.

This, too, makes me rage-quitty.

2nd Boys who break my heart (AKA, Give 2nd Boys a Happy Ending too!)

(Told you this was gonna be on both lists.)

Oh my broken heart! It is an almost infallible fact of life that I will always fall in love with the 2nd boy. If that 2nd boy is a facilitator, there’s no hope for me: I’m lost.

So it naturally bothers me that my lovely little 2nd boys so rarely get their own happy ending. Where in the rule book does it say that only the main leads should have a romance?

KDrama writers, what are you doing to me?? I have enough books of my own to write: I can’t obsess over every 2nd boy and write him a story just so that he gets a happy ending! Help me!

A Tale of Shin-Woo: or, How I Wrote a Whole Novel to Give my Fave 2nd Boy a Happy Ending...

A Tale of Shin-Woo: or, How I Wrote a Whole Novel to Give my Fave 2nd Boy a Happy Ending…

It’s the same thing I hate about most older films: the secondary characters are never allowed to do more than stand as supports for the main characters. They exist solely as they impact the main leads.

Bad storytelling, KDrama. Bad, bad storytelling.

OTOH, it means that when I find someone who is technically a 2nd boy but manages to take over the main role because the writer is that good, I appreciate it so much more (Flower Boys Next Door and High School King of Savvy, thank you very much!)

You already know how I feel about Kkae-Geum from Flower Boys Next Door. Meet Seo In-Guk, who is a 2nd Boy type character. He is ADORABLE. So sweet, and stupid, and delightful. Sort of like a big puppy, but better. He completely won my heart, and without him I would have stopped watching High School King of Savvy, which would have been a pity.

You already know how I feel about Kkae-Geum from Flower Boys Next Door. Meet Lee Min-Seok, who is a 2nd Boy type character. He is ADORABLE. So sweet, and stupid, and delightful. Sort of like a big puppy, but better. He completely won my heart, and without him I would have stopped watching High School King of Savvy after the first episode, which would have been a pity. This little baby gets the girl, and not only that, does a huge amount of growing at the same time. It’s constantly delightful to see his change in perspective as the episodes pass.

Okay. That’s it from me until next time! I hope you enjoyed this episode of my (rapidly increasingly) series of posts about KDrama!

10 Things I Love About KDrama (Part Two)

And now for Part Two of 10 Things I Love About KDrama!

Wherein I consider the last 5 things that I love about KDrama….

Character Redemption (aka, Bad Guys are People Too)

There’s not much I hate worse than watching a movie or T.V. series with a villain who’s evil Just Because They’re Evil. Unfortunately, it’s something I come across horribly, horribly often. This is partly because I watch a lot of older T.V., and character writing has evolved a lot over the years, but it’s by no means a bygone phenomenon. It’s still something that continues to annoy me in modern T.V.

KDrama has some seriously evil characters, from the absolutely terrifying schoolgirl bullies who rule the school to the murderous gangster bosses who beat people to death with golf clubs in the comfort of their own homes. Some of them are laughably evil, but the vast majority I’ve seen now have been nuanced, complete characters in their own right.

Not only have they been nuanced, but in a few cases, they have almost overshadowed the main leads in complexity. This is because in KDrama, there is a very good chance that the villain can be redeemed. There are points in the narrative at which the villain is faced with two courses of action: the right, and the wrong. They way he/she reacts to that choice begins to determine the possibility of their redemption, and their path begins either to slowly slide toward the irredeemable or to climb painfully toward a new life.

In KDrama, you can never be certain that your main villain will not change completely–just like a regular person. Not only is this spectacularly good writing, it adds an extra dimension to the entire story. Not every villain is redeemed, but every villain has at least one chance to do so. The mindset this displays is delightful. Redemption as a theme is a very precious one to me, and to see it in T.V. series (and used in such a general way) is a huge breath of fresh air.

Here are a couple of the most poignant villains I’ve come across in KDrama so far:

Lee Joon-Hee (Falling for Innocence) Is he a murderer, or isn't he? Either way, he's a fully 3-dimensional character that you can't help caring for or relating to. A beautiful, driven individual with a hidden dark side that begins to emerge slowly but surely, Joon-Hee is a character I was thinking about for weeks after I watched Falling For Innocence.

Lee Joon-Hee (Falling for Innocence) Is he a murderer, or isn’t he? Either way, he’s a fully 3-dimensional character that you can’t help caring for or relating to. A beautiful, driven individual with a hidden dark side that begins to emerge slowly but surely, Joon-Hee is a character I was thinking about for weeks after I watched Falling For Innocence.

Kwan Soo-Ah (Sassy Go Go) Will she continue in her venomous ways, poisoned irretrievably by her mother and her own desires, or will she seize onto the tiny, budding sprays of right that have sprouted in her heart and cling to them? Her mother has taken care of her grades and hidden her wrongdoing, but what about Soo-Ah's soul?

Kwan Soo-Ah (Sassy Go Go) Will she continue in her venomous ways, poisoned irretrievably by her mother and her own desires, or will she seize onto the tiny, budding sprays of right that have sprouted in her heart and cling to them? Her mother has taken care of her grades and hidden her wrongdoing, but what about Soo-Ah’s soul?

2nd Boys

This is another item that is on both my Hate and Love list. It leads on a bit from Character Redemption, and has a lot to do with how well (or how badly) characters in a show are written. However, it also seems to be a thing done very well as a whole in KDrama. I get rather tired of badly drawn love triangles in fiction (I actually don’t care much for the love triangle as a form of story anyway, but when well done I can quite enjoy it) and it’s refreshing to see it done right.

In too many movies and series that I’ve seen, the main female lead falls for the main male lead, with a side love interest who is either never well developed, or there only so the main male lead can be jealous and/or warn her about the side love interest’s bad motives. More annoyingly, when it’s the latter, this side love interest almost always turns out to be a bad guy.

Seriously, though, what the heck is wrong with having a side love interest who is actually good and nice? He shouldn’t be there simply to excite the main male lead’s jealousy and then be dismissed with the easy excuse that he was a bad guy all along. Sometimes good guys lose out, too. (Ironically, this is also a thing I will discuss in my two part post on the 10 Things I Hate About KDrama). There is absolutely no excuse to skimp on character building simply because the 2nd boy doesn’t get the girl.

Tae-Gwang

There is absolutely no excuse to skimp on character building simply because the 2nd boy doesn’t get the girl. The best execution of this rule that I’ve yet seen is from Who Are You? where my favourite character, a crazy, delightful little boy called Tae-Gwang, doesn’t get the girl, but gets a lot more from his storyline. He’s a character who grows and matures and learns to connect with the world despite the fact that he hasn’t been lucky in love (and the more important fact that his father has shut him up in a mental ward). He actually stole the show from the main male lead, leading me to wonder exactly how he didn’t get the girl (apart from a complete lack of mental capacity on the part of the girl). But his journey is more important than his love life, and that really comes out.

I seriously love KDrama’s secondary love interests (aka, 2nd boys). In fact, I usually prefer the 2nd boys to the main love interests. This is because 2nd boys are, as a general rule, kind, thoughtful, and very beautiful–while main male lead are crazy, annoying, and almost always arrogant (which, while making a hilarious and fun character, would be no fun at all to live with in real life).

Anthony Trollope-esque Politics (whether School or Company Politics, oh my! So many political storylines)

Can you believe that I’d never heard of spec-stacking before? That could be because I’m not actually that academically gifted and also because we could never afford to go to college anyway, but seriously. The political underworld of KDrama’s schools is vast and intricately twined.

Of course, you’ve already heard me rave about Falling for Innocence, which has such a complicated, over-arching theme of business machinations and by-plays along with its murder, medical, and romance plot-lines.

If a T.V. series or movie is well-written, it will have those sorts of things in it, anyway. But there seems to be a definite focus on twisty plots in KDrama, and as a lover of Anthony Trollope, those twisty plot-lines make my little heart sing for joy.

Facilitators

This is another character thing (which will not surprise anyone who knows my obsession with Character in Story). Facilitators are rarely seen in the wild in Western films, which makes me sad because I flamin’ love Facilitators. One of the first MCs I ever wrote was a Facilitator.

The Facilitator sees things from the outside, whether from boredom, superior intellect, or just plain crazy. He (and in rare cases, she) will cultivate characters and plot-lines sometimes to a point that almost-but-not-quite breaks the fourth wall (see especially Jin-Rak in Flower Boys Next Door). Facilitators almost always end up getting sucked into the story they’re trying to direct, and/or falling in love with the girl they were helping out.

Five of my favourite Facilitators to date (in order of most to least favourite):

Shinwoo from He's Beautiful. My all-time fave Facilitator and 2nd boy

Shin-Woo from He’s Beautiful. Bored and mischievous and unaware of how badly he’s about to fall, Shin-Woo is my all-time fave Facilitator and 2nd boy. Shin-Woo is kind, thoughtful, and patient, with a deeply mischievous sense of humour and a love for playing games with the people around him. When he begins to know what he wants, it’s an amusing surprise to him. This 2nd boy dug a hole in my heart with the way he brought the heroine tea and selflessly cared for her behind the scenes. Tea. He brought her tea. How could I not love this one?

Kkae-Geum. Again, from Flower Boys Next Door (can you tell I loved it??) This guy is hilarious and sweet and just plain lovable. Actually, he should be my top favourite, but isn't for these two reasons: 1.) 2nd Boy Syndrome, and 2.) Wounded Seagull Syndrome. Clear as mud? Don't worry, I'll explain it later.

Kkae-Geum/Enrique from Flower Boys Next Door.
This guy is hilarious and sweet and just plain lovable. He is REMARKABLY unsquashable. Actually, he should be my top favourite, but Shin-Woo still wins for these two reasons: 1.) 2nd Boy Syndrome, and 2.) Wounded Seagull Syndrome. Clear as mud? Don’t worry, I’ll explain it in my next two-parter blog post.

Jin-Rak from Flower Boys Next Door. This Facilitator takes the back of a hammer to the fourth wall in the most delightful way possible. Again, a 2nd boy, but he didn't break my heart 'cos I was too busy laughing at him and his saggy pants.

Jin-Rak. Again, from Flower Boys Next Door (can you tell I loved it??)  Okay, he’s technically not really a Facilitator, since he doesn’t ever exactly facilitate: but his outlook and his presence in this series is that of the outsider. He never even quite feels as if he’s a part of the story proper. I love that! So. Jin-Rak. This Facilitator takes the back of a hammer to the fourth wall in the most delightful way possible. Again, a 2nd boy, but he didn’t break my heart ‘cos I was too busy laughing at him and his saggy pants. Also, he’s a writer, so what’s not to like about this guy? Constantly delightful.

Shin-Hyuk from She Was Pretty. This guy is just flamin' HILARIOUS.

Shin-Hyuk from She Was Pretty. I didn’t love She Was Pretty (spent too long wanting to grab the male lead by his hair and bash his face into the desk) but this guy is just flamin’ HILARIOUS. Pretty much every scene with him is a riot, especially the one where he realises that he’s crushing on a certain someone, because Shin-Hyuk does seem to know his place as a Facilitator and to be quite comfortable in the role. It’s really, REALLY hard not to laugh until you cry when you see him chasing his uptight boss and yelling about underwear every time he sees him…

Nebi (or Navi) from Love Cells. The only female Facilitator I've seen (thus far). Her character--and in fact, the whole execution--of the Love Cells series, was not what I expect. It was so much better. She's fun, and funky, and mischievous.

Nebi (or Navi) from Love Cells. The only female Facilitator I’ve seen (thus far) in KDrama. Her character–and in fact, the whole execution–of the Love Cells series, was not what I expected. It was so much better. Both Love Cells and Nebi are fun, funky, and mischievous, with an unexpected dose of heart.

Friendships

In far too many Western films and T.V. series, when there’s an MC, that’s it. You’ll get bits and pieces of friendship, but there’s not usually a light shone on that unless the whole film is about friendship (which is also reasonably rare). I love the fact that in KDrama, there are WHOLE PLOTLINES about the friendship between two guys (again, Flower Boys Next Door, Sassy Go Go), or two girls (Who Are You?), or a whole group (Sassy Go Go, I’m lookin’ at you). It’s not just about the romance. And yeah, it’s got to do with what’s good writing and what’s not–for instance, there are some VERY badly written KDramas out there, too–but as a whole, friendship seems to be much better explored. I love that. I especially love it when it’s a male/female friendship that doesn’t turn into a love triangle.

Favourite Friendship Pairings:

Kim Yeol and Ha Joon

Kim Yeol and Ha-Joon from Sassy Go Go. You’ll notice a lot of friendship pairings from Sassy Go Go, and this is because Sassy Go Go is brilliant. Ah! These two guys! Their friendship is a breath of fresh air, and a proper thread that runs through this series rather than being simply a thing that’s there in the background. It’s important, and it underpins many parts of the plot.

Yeon Doo and Dong Jae

Yeon-Doo and Dong-Jae from Sassy Go Go. I LOVE THESE GUYS! Dong-Jae has a physical disability where he can’t be touched without going into an almost catatonic state. It’s so delightful to see the way they interact. He always brings her strawberry milk. When she wants to show affection she plays with the zippers on his sleeves and the loose folds of his clothes. It has all the emotional impact of a hug. And guys, they don’t try to turn it into a love triangle! *Happy sigh*

Sassy Go Go Friends

ALL OF THEM. THE WHOLE GROUP FROM SASSY GO GO. These guys make me dance in delight. You watch them fight and grow through the whole series until they’re one cohesive whole, held together at first by Kang Yeon-Doo (and then by their genuine affection for each other). This group makes me very happy.

Jin Rak and Co

Jin-Rak and Dong-Hoon. These guys were SO MUCH FUN. Their friendship is a huge part of Flower Boys Next Door, a delightful and tender growth that ebbs and flows, but most importantly, grows, throughout the entire series. Their misunderstandings and temper tantrums had me continually laughing.

I have so much more I could say, and so many more favourites, but this blog post has already assumed a ridiculous length, so I’m off again to WATCH ALL THE THINGS. And maybe write a little bit…

 

 

10 Things I Love About KDrama (Part One)

To be honest, there are more than 10 things I love about KDrama, but I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t break the internet due to post length when I finally uploaded it.

Sassy-Go-GoWhich is also why this post is being broken up into two parts. Well, to be strictly truthful, I have another reason. As one of my writerly friends said, breaking this blog post up means that I’ve got blog posts written for two weeks instead of one. Bargain! And since I’m trying to be balanced about this, my next two posts after this two-parter will be 10 Things I Hate About KDrama (which might be a bit of a stretch, since I’m not sure I have that many things that I hate about it).

You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been watching a fair bit of Korean Drama lately. And since I was fascinated with the language and the written form, I’ve been learning Korean as well, which gives me the perfect excuse to just keep watching as much Korean TV as possible. It’s research, OK?!

Anyhoo.

flower_boy_next_door4-4840I wouldn’t be a writer if I didn’t analyze (and over-analyze) the whys and wherefores of my new-found love for KDrama. So I’ve been thinking over the things I love and hate about it (and as much as I love KDrama, there are things I hate about it, too).

So, in no particular order, these are the first 5 things I love about KDrama:

The Humour

Oh my. I’ve really been enjoying the humour. When I first started watching KDrama, I was hugely surprised to hear it called KDrama– because to me, it was all hilarity. My first thought was Wait, if this is Drama, what the heck is their comedy like?! I was to learn very quickly that the drama does, in fact, come into things, but in all my favourite KDramas so far, that humour has continued all throughout as well.

There’s the slapstick, of course, which–when done right–I’ve never really grown out of loving. Then there’s the mouthing off that happens in, well, every KDrama I’ve seen so far. If you read my books you know how much I love characters who are constantly mouthing off at each other. There’s the cringeworthy embarrassing stuff that happens to every female lead who is meant to be adorably clumsy (during which I stare at my screen in horrified wonder from between my fingers and wonder exactly what is wrong with their brains) and that sometimes happens to a male lead if he’s the right kind. Oh, and don’t forget the delightful back and forth that happens between H & H.

As a matter of fact, a lot of the humour in KDrama comes from the relationship between the H & H. This humour can be any of the above, but to my joy, it quite often takes the form of physical comedy.

For example.

There’s always a point at which, if the relationship in question is a typical love/hate one where the main male lead is a right prat who insults and annoys the main female lead, that I will be longing for her to bash him one. This happens when I watch either KDrama or any other kind of T.V.

I will literally be sitting there howling: “Are you kidding me?! Punch him in the face!”

To my eternal sadness, this happens so little in Western T.V. And yet, twice now while watching KDrama–as I was in the very process of making said outcry–the female lead has, in fact, punched him in the face. Cue me whooping in disbelief and delicious glee. I really can’t express how much I enjoy watching pratty male leads being punched in the face.

Please excuse the blurriness of the screen-cap--unbelievably enough, no one had screen-capped this and I had to do it myself.

Please excuse the blurriness of the screen-cap–unbelievably enough, no one had screen-capped this and I had to do it myself. ‘Noble, My Love’ annoyed me SO MUCH and this is my favourite bit in the whole mini-series.

Other things I find myself delighted over: tiny little Korean girls who have been teased and annoyed to the point of exploding. Because the next thing you see is a tiny little Korean girl pulling the hair of a guy twice her size while he howls and tries to run. This honestly never gets old.

Gong-Shim from The Beautiful Gong Shim: hilarious, and has one of the loveliest male characters I've seen yet.

Gong-Shim and Ahn Dan-Tae from ‘The Beautiful Gong Shim’, which is hilarious and has one of the loveliest male characters I’ve seen yet.

The Drama

Well. This is slightly difficult. Reason being, The Drama in KDrama is also on my list of 10 Things I Hate About KDrama. I don’t, as a rule, like drama. Drama for the sake of drama, that is. The angst, the tears, the head-beatings. Mostly I want to slap characters who become too morose and weepy. But as with Shakespeare, the delightful blend of comedy and drama makes each element much more poignant: the humour pulling me in and the drama alternately breaking my heart and uplifting me. There aren’t too many KDramas that get the mix exactly right (I can think of 3 at the moment, out of the many that I’ve watched so far) but there aren’t really that many that get it horribly wrong, either. Most are a mix of good and bad, but mostly good if you discount the sticky middle.

Such sads! Such Drama!

Such sads! Such Drama!

The Actually, Really, Believably Lovely Characters

Okay, despite me trying to keep this down to only 10 things I love about KDrama, and breaking it into two parts this blog post is probably going to be ridiculously long anyway. This because of Characters.

I’ve raved on and on about Soon-Jung in Falling for Innocence as a completely lovely female character–an actually, morally good woman who is honoured (and targeted) for that goodness–and I have since found at least four other completely lovely characters.

Kkae-Geum from Flower Boys Next Door. Kang Yun-Doo from Sassy Go Go. Ahn Dan-Tae from The Beautiful Gong Shim. Dong-Wook from Falling for Innocence.

Sigh. These are characters who are not only morally lovely, but are allowed by the writers to change their paradigm by the rippling effect of that lovliness on all of those people around them. I could go on and on about how much I love finding beautiful characters–not to mention ones who aren’t belittled or seen as foolish for being morally lovely–but my word count is looking rather frightening so perhaps I’ll defer that until another episode of These are a Few of my Favourite Things…

The Lack of Sex Scenes

Yeah, yeah, I know there are always exceptions, but I’ve been fortunate enough not to run into any so far. For me it’s really nice to be able to watch something and not be moodily certain that the characters’ ‘love’ is going to wind up being ‘developed’ by having them sleep together. Sex is not the end goal of the romance here. There is actual character development and the closer understanding of two people. I love that. I find gems like that in Western films, too, but to be honest, they’re gems because they’re rare.

What’s that? Can I eat it? (And other hilarious catch-phrases)

-Pervert

Seriously. Seriously, guys. It shouldn’t be hilarious, but it really is. Everyone is a pervert in KDrama. Accidentally walk in while a girl is wearing her (perfectly concealing, flannel) pjs? PERVERT. Stare too long at someone? PERVERT. Smile at them? PERVERT.

-Wanna die?!

Such a deliciously belligerent phrase! Especially fun when spoken by tiny, fierce, female leads.

-Ha! What’s that? Can I eat it?

This one is probably my favourite. Someone thinks you’re afraid? “Hah!” You say. “Fear? What’s that? Is it a food?” Someone tells you to quit. “Hah!” You say. “Quit? What’s that? Can I eat it?” I honestly don’t think I’ve come across a foreign phrase that I love better (even though ‘wanna die?” comes pretty close). At first I thought it was a peculiarity of one distinct character in one KDrama, but then I saw another character or two use it in other KDramas. This is one that’s coming over to the English–at least in my house…

When you've been totally burned and you're still raging about it later...

When you’ve been totally burned and you’re still raging about it later…

Okay, I’m sure you guys have your favourite things about KDrama, too. Feel free to share in the comments. Otherwise, I’ll see you in a couple days for the other 5 things I love about KDrama!

(Also, if you want reccs, check out: Sassy Go Go, Falling for Innocence, Flower Boys Next Door, and The Beautiful Gong Shim. They are all hilarious and more than moderately heart-warming. I’ve already reviewed Falling for Innocence, and the others will follow in due course.)

Bookish Squees

I’m having a lovely day today. It didn’t start out lovely: I was feeling sick and tired, and didn’t really want to go into town even though I was meeting writerly friends.

Of course, when I got there, I had a wonderful time. After that I got very tired running around between op-shops and vintage shops with the Mum, which was a mix of nice and exhausting until the ear-ache started, and then it was just exhausting.

Then I got home to find my post-box simply stuffed with catalogues. I decided to empty it and found a parcel wedged in between all the glossy pictures. It was a nice surprise, since I could tell from the feel of it that it was a book, and the only book I was semi-expecting (and not very hopefully, since I’d been told there was a post office snafu and that I probably wouldn’t ever receive said book) was Lloyd Alexander’s THE BEGGAR QUEEN, the final book in the Westmark Series.

I ordered the books ages ago, all marked as library binding, and all in the hardcover because I thought they looked nice and I liked the way they felt. The first two arrived very quickly, but the third book was more expensive and very hard to source, and about a week or two after I ordered it I was sent an email saying it would probably never arrive, and asking me what I wanted to do.

So I was very excited as I opened my parcel. Sure enough, it was THE BEGGAR QUEEN, completing my trilogy.

all three

It was in the most gorgeous condition, the cover flawless, the spine not even cracked, and I wondered who on earth could have owned this book and never even opened it? Why would you not read it?

beggar queen

And then I opened it.

And then I squealed very, very loudly, and danced around the kitchen with the book clutched to my chest, before opening it again because I couldn’t believe my eyes.

signed!!

It’s a signed copy. A SIGNED COPY, GUYS!!

I never got to meet Lloyd Alexander and the chances of me getting a signature were so remote that I’d never even hoped for it.  And the icing on the cake is that the book is 1st edition, which probably doesn’t mean much with a book from 1984, but it means a lot to me.

And today is a wonderful, frabjous day after all.