Friday, August 31, 2007


We stayed three nights in Kyoto, the longest stay along the tour. I don't know if the increased familiarity had anything to do with it, but I think Kyoto was my favorite city we visited. It wasn't bombed during World War 2, and had a number of original buildings left standing. Being the ancient Imperial capital, it was laid out in a grid pattern, making it easier to find your way around it as well.

The most interesting thing about Kyoto is the stark contrast you can find. You can be walking down Shijodori (4th Street) one moment, which is their equivalent of 5th Avenue in New York, which is filled with fancy stores, restaurants, people and bright lights, and then find yourself in some quiet, green place that has been unchanged for centuries, such as the Heian Shrine Garden, pictured above. Kyoto definitely had the biggest contrasts contained within its borders.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Convention Time

It's a few days since my last post. Internet access for my laptop has been more difficult to come by than I expected. I'm in Yokohama now at WorldCon. I missed most of the first day because of travel, but I'm registered and settled into my hotel and ready for the next part of my trip.

I absolutely LOVED the tour I went on. Every day brought something interesting, fun, new, awesome and/or exciting to experience. One of the places we visited was the Byodoin Temple in Nara, the oldest former capital of Japan. The temple is a huge wooden structure that seems to bear the weight of history on his roof. And the Buddha is an incredible thing to see. One feels almost like a mouse creeping through a hole into Heaven's house.

My plans now are to post some of the highlight photos over the next couple of days, and then set up one of those photo websites to post the rest. It'll need to be a big website, though, since I have over 500 pictures taken already.

More later.


Friday, August 24, 2007


Thursday, August 23rd - Kyoto

After leaving Osaka Castle, the group road the bus to Kyoto. We'll be staying in Kyoto for the next three days. Kyoto used to be the site of the Imperial Palace. While the Emperor was mainly a figurehead during the Shogunate, he was the Japanese peoples' religious leader. As a result Kyoto has a TON of shrines and temples, over 1,600 added together.

The first place we visited as the Ryoanji Temple, a Buddhist temple that has one of the oldest rock gardens in Japan. Three monks tend the guarden, which is used as a part of the training. Zen Buddhism stressing activity over simple meditation.

The rock guardian has 15 stones set into its gravel. One is supposed to sit and view the garden and meditate on what the rocks represent. The problem is that you can only see 14 of the rocks from any given vantage point. This is done on purpose, and is supposed to a demonstration of human limitation.

Old and New, side by side

Thursday, August 23 - Osaka

One interesting thing about Japan is how you can find very old, venerable sites, like Osaka Castle, right next to gleaming, ultramodern buildings. This image caught my eye as I was leaving the castle. It's a view of the outer moat, with the original castle walls to the left. In the background is the Crystal Tower, a modern skyscraper and a local landmark. When I saw it, it looked to me as if the Crystal Tower was rising straight out of the moat. If you look closely, you can see the reflection of the main tower of the castle in the surface of the Crystal Tower's glass. I think this was my favorite image of our Osaka Castle tour.

Old Places Everywhere

Thursday, August 23rd - Osaka

The parts of Osaka Castle that are original are all over 400 years old, almost twice as long as the United States has been a country. This is part of wall over-looking the inner moat, and the guard tower, both of which were part of the original castle. As big as the castle is today, the original castle and outlying buildings covered five times its current size, covering almost all of that section of Osaka.

Castles & Towers

Thursday, August 23 - Osaka

My first full day in Japan was spent in a full day of doing tourist stuff. The first place our group went to was Osaka Castle. It was headquarters of the Shogun, the military ruler of Japan, back in the late 1500's to the early 1600's. The picture is of the main watchtower, which is actually a reproduction of the original tower. If it looks familar to any one it's because it was apparently used in the filming of the "Shogun," the mini-series starring Richard Chamberlain.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nihon e yokoso

I made it to Japan. On the first day, I only had the chance to take one picture, which is the sign you see after coming down the end of the debarkation ramp at Narita Airport. The flight went really well, smoother than most domestic flights I've been on.

I'm already noticing some differences between our culture and Japan's during the flight. First, before we took off, every one of the Japanese passengers got a newspaper or magazine and started to read. The entire cabln was filled with open newspapers like sails in a harbor at the turn of the century. I also noticed that the Japanese passengers around me all took off their shoes after they got to their seats. The cigar/cigarette cart that was wheeled down the aisle was another surprise.

So far, everything has gone quickly and efficiently. I'll try to have more interesting pictures with the next posting.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

New Look

If you came to my blog from my website, you would have noticed the new logo that I have up. Like the previous one, the rainbowed sailed viking ship, it was designed by my creative partner, William Ruzicka. Along with the new logo, I've cleaned up the index page. The list of news updates is gone. I'll be using this blog from now on to post news and information about my work. In place of the 'What's New' list (which was rarely all that new), I've got the links to this blog, my introduction page and my resume page, showing off my published work and giving you glimpses into other projects in development.

As far as news is concerned, I can report that the effort to turn Gagaku Berceuse, 2007's "Best Horror" story in TokyoPop's Rising Stars of Manga competition, into its own graphic novel is proceeding well. I turned in a story synopsis to my editor just before leaving California, and the email I got back from her was very, very positive. She indicated that she was going to show it to the editorial committee within the next couple of days. I'll let you know what happens.

On a personal note, I'm currently in North Carolina to see my sister get married again. That's her with her very soon husband to be, Daniel, to the right. Even though this added a lot of extra travel headaches for me, coming right before my trip to Japan, I couldn't not accept my sister's invitation to her wedding. I enjoy my family very much. One of the reasons, I'm realizing this weekend, is that my family loves to tell stories. When we get together, the first thing we do is tell stories. New stories, about what we've been doing, what happened on the trip; and older stories, that we've told time and time again. Maybe that's where my desire to write comes from. It's just an extension of what I grew up from.

More coming soon.


Saturday, August 04, 2007


Or, "long time no see..."

I tried to start this blog a couple of years ago, and I'm making another effort at it. I think last time I didn't have a clear idea what I wanted to use this blog for, which was why I didn't update it.

Now, though, I have more specific plans. In a couple of weeks I'll be going to WorldCon, the World Science Fiction Convention, being held in Yokohama, Japan this year. I'm going to take my camera to record the experience. I'll share those photographs here. This is the fruition of a dream of mine to visit Japan and after a year of planning and saving, the dream is becoming real.

Also, a short comic I wrote entitled "Gagaku Berceuse" won "Best Horror Story" in the Rising Stars of Manga 2007 competition sponsered by TokyoPop. You can find it in the anthology they put out each year for the contest in any major bookstore that sells Manga (suchs as Barnes & Noble and Borders). Even better, TokyoPop has invited us (my artist partner William Ruzicka and myself) to submit a proposal to turn the short story into its own graphic novel. We've been working on the proposal for the past couple of months and the feedback from the editor has been very encouraging.

That'll be it for now. I'll spend some time learning how to post photos to this blog. I'll be arriving in Japan on 8/22 (8/21 by the U.S. calendar). Look for updates after then.