Friday, January 21, 2011

Martial Arts in novels

Martial Arts have always been my passion. I don’t remember exactly how it all started, but as long as I can remember, the fighting arts (key word is arts) held my interest. You may wonder if I’m a violent person by nature. The simple answer would be I am not. But it’s too simple. I believe we all have violence in our nature to an extent. It’s how you chose to channel it that makes all the difference. Let’s be honest here, not many of us would shy away from violence when it comes to protecting ourselves or our loved ones. Now, don’t be too fast to deny that. Think about it first. Would you do what you have to do to protect your child or your spouse? Would you use violence if necessary? I should hope so.

But Martial Arts are not about violence, not at its core.  It’s about learning to defend your life and the life of those you love. But it’s also much more. In Japanese, “martial fighting technique” is called bu-jutsu. It is quite different from the term bu-do, which means “the martial way”, the way referring to the way of life. What differentiates the two, besides the obvious, budo encompasses a lifelong pursuit for the perfection of character and technique, while bujutsu is just that – learning to fight with no concern for one’s personal development as a human being. One of the main precepts of the Japanese style of karate called Shotokan is “to seek perfection of character”. This is what got me involved with Martial Arts in the first place.

I love when I find a novel where the hero or the heroine is practicing a form of Martial Arts.  I mean, I enjoy any kick-ass heroes but I feel that the actual practice of Martial Arts by a character lends them more depths and gives more of a glimpse into their personality. Generally, it would tell the reader that this character has enough patience and diligence and willpower to push their bodies and minds for years and reach for something beyond the physical. The training scenes in particular often reveal much  about a particular character. It also humanizes them, makes them more easily relatable.

Here are just a few examples of the novels with a character that practices Martial Arts or has some kind of a connection to it. These are novels that I really enjoyed reading and would suggest.

The Ninja Series by Eric Lustbader – Martial Arts in this series has an almost mystical nature but nevertheless, it makes for a great character and interesting insights.

A Devil In the Details by K. A. Stewart – I’m partial to the Japanese Martial Arts, so I’m partial to Jesse’s way of life and connection to bushido. Lots of quotes and mentions of such great classics as the Book of Five Rings and the Art of War.

Night’s Cold Kiss by Tracey O’Hara – Includes good training scenes

 Please add your favorite novels with Martial Arts connections.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Plans for the year ahead

It's 2011 out there and I had a couple of weeks to think about what I want to accomplish this year. So far this year (or at least this month) has been fairly productive and I hope to keep my enthusiasm and productivity for the rest of the year. Sometimes it's so much easier to give up (especially after the rough year that just passed) but it's so much more fun to push forward!

As of yesterday, my writing partner Tina Moss and myself have finilized the revision of our manuscript and have sent out more queries. Although editing and revising is never easy and usually is not a favorite activity of most writers, this time I actually found it enjoyable. Perhaps that is because I love to see how the story is smoothed out and made better by the revisions. Having said that, sometimes you want to bang your head against the wall during this process.

But now it's time to step away and concentrate on other projects, one of which is continuing our work on the manuscript of book 2 in the series. I'm also in the concept stage of figuring out my project on an urban fantasy invovling martial arts (my other favorite activity besides writing).

Speaking of martial arts, the women's classes I teach at our dojo (karate school) have been fun planning and executing lately. But I also have to concentrate on getting back to my own training heavy duty and maybe start thinking of getting ready for my second degree black belt...(Oooo, did I just say that? *Scampers back into a corner and hides face from the amount of work this entails*)

So on with the new year and may it be a productive one!

What are your goals for this year?

P.S. RIP Captain Kirk!   

You were an amazing cat!
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