Out Now!

HUZZAH!!

Latimer and Ridley: So we’re done, it’s out!

What’s out you asked? Our book, Legend Unleashed! We’ve pushed the button!

It’s available now, as an e-book, see the links below if you’re interested!

The paperback will follow on soon enough, we’re just waiting on the proof copy to arrive in the post so we can look over it and make sure there are no issues.

It’s been such a steep learning curve, but really worth it! It was fantastic that we had full control over every part of the process. It’s also been hard work though, with long hours put in and full ‘bookwork’ weekends, so don’t let anyone fool you into thinking self-publishing is an easy task! We finished writing the book many many many months ago. In the time since we’d typed ‘the end’, we’ve spent the rest of our days editing, agonising, formatting, fist shaking, commissioning our cover design, smiling, book trailers, grinning and that was just the start!

In the past, we’ve been asked how the two of go about writing a book together (we’re also fascinated by how other writing duos work together, so we love these explanations. Skip down through this part if you don’t care though!!) We always start with a single idea, whether it’s a scene, a ‘what if’ scenario, or a character. We seem to have plenty of these knocking around! More often than not, it’s a character. After this comes the fun part, world building! We love this, picking character names, places and plotting the story.

We let our imaginations run free scribbling it all down on an A4 pad as we sip on endless cups of tea; what would happen if we…? If he did this….? If she went there…? Wouldn’t it be great if…? If you read this part, what would you want him to do…? It’s the ultimate freedom, we just run wild! After this, we tease out any issues, then we divide them into chapter summaries. Each summary has bullet points, information taken from the plot and any extras we think of as we’re going along, with exactly what we need to have happen. Then these summaries get divided out, we get two chapters each at a time and usually one of us starts the book and the other ends it. This gives us the chance to experience at least part of the book as readers, rather than just the authors. We give each other constant feedback after each chapter stint. In this way, we’ve written six books together, Legend Unleashed is our fifth book and the most polished. So we decided to bite the bullet and self-publish it.

So far it’s been a great decision! Has it been the same for others who have followed the same path? We’d love to hear their tales!

We’re staring into the dark void, not knowing what’s to come, but either way we look forward to what the future might bring!

Sample chapters:

Legend Unleashed Prologue-Chapter 4

Author: M. Latimer-Ridley
Publisher: Cranmer Publishing
Available to buy:  
E-book: Amazon US
E-book: Amazon UK
Paperback: Amazon UK
Paperback: CreateSpace Page

So, what do you do without a laptop?

What does Latimer do without a laptop?

Latimer: I bet the saga of my kamikaze laptop has gotten old at this point! But this is just an insight into what I’ve been doing without one!

Well, first off time’s ticking by… the clock is running down, getting closer and closer to ‘MLR-day’ haha. We’ve been busy editing our book and what not. Editing using Ridley’s lovely laptop (I’m getting envious now! she’ll wake up one day and it’ll be gone, a Latimer shaped hole in her wall… me running across the green outside her house, screaming ‘my precious!’!!).

I’m due to get my new replacement soon (two weeks or so). So I’m getting jittery. 

My old hard-drive has gone completely mental and is shutting down the IT guy’s laptops… it’s gone kamikaze, it’s dying and it’s going to take everyone with it! Every time I get an update, it’s like the situation is getting more and more hopeless…

 Moving on from all that nastiness…

I’ve been unwinding in the meantime, doing some artwork… this is an insight into Latimer’s chillax time!

I decided to make my brother a birthday card (ha, and his birthday was in July! God… you see this is what happens when I have a laptop, other things fall by the wayside… yes, that includes the birthdays of loved ones!!).

He lives in Australia, so about all he’s going to get off me is a card, so I figured it better show I put some effort into it!! He’s a massive comic book fan, specifically batman, so I made him a Batman inspired card.

I edited and redrew some chibi’s I found (a Hermonie chibi, a Batman Chibi and a Catwoman chibi) and put them together to form a ‘Latimer’ card. I also finally used the other Japanese art-stuff I bought… cutting mat, cutting knife and Deleter high-lighter paint and brush. So, without a laptop to distract me, I had a chance to use the stuff..

The magical box where I keep my copic markers. It’s a biscuit box (from Bruges in Belgium). It’s a little creepy with that girls face on it!!
Latimer Potter

The idea is magical, Potter me, transforming my brother and his wife into Batman and Catwoman, so they can fight crime in Australia (haha)!

Brother as Batman
Wife as Catwoman
Putting the cover together
Brother and wife inside the card… and crazy me!!

It was fun putting it together… a job done you could say!! I gave myself a tick on my list of ‘outdated things that may never get done’… that’s a long list let me tell you… people get things off me years later, confused they go ‘what’s this for?!’ I will smile, ‘your birthday… last year…I’ll get you something next year for your birthday this year!!’.

Randomly, at the weekend, I also got it into my head that I would like to make a stop-motion model of myself and Ridley (after watching the making of Paranorman character ‘Norman’).

There’s more to it than I thought.. haha (stupid me of course there is!), rigs and stuff that are expensive… and to do it properly would take a lot of skill and time. Maybe in the future I’ll have a go, but for now, I settled for drawing what I would like the stop-motion model me and Ridley to look like… (maybe one day someone will make them for us!! I would go to Laika and say, ‘build us! build us!’)

Latimer and Ridley… as stop motion models!!

It’s random I know, but these are the things I think about! Things I get into my head. What would stop-motion me and Ridley look like? Can I make them? They would look great in the office… haha.

While I was doing all of this, I was listening to the Tell em Steve-Dave podcasts (staring Bryan Johnston, Walt Flanagan, Brian Quinn, Ming Chen and sometimes Mike Zapcic and the great, Sunday Jeff, who only works on sundays 🙂 ).

I love them! They are friends of the director and writer Kevin Smith (of Jay and Silent Bob- he’s Bob). The podcasts are part of the fantastic Smodcast network. Which since I’ve found it, I’m fascinated by it (I get obsessed very quickly)!! I love how Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier have built this empire; a new empire for a new age, the age of podcasting! It’s such a brilliant idea, but I love his thoughts on it.

Kevin is like, these are conversations I can have with all my friends, I can listen back to them, I can have them forever. It’s such a brilliant idea; and Kevin Smith is actually a very cool interesting guy (as are all his friends!).

I never realised this was all going on, I love finding new corridors in the hotel of life.

This video was made by an Irish fan of the Tell em Steve-Dave boys (and they were so in awe of it; so amazed and happy that someone would have made it for them for no reason other than he was a fan). He animated it all based on a conversation the guys had about Walt delivering comics to a guy that couldn’t come to the shop (Jay and Bob’s Secret Stash on Broad St, Red Bank, NJ- Walt is the manager and runs the shop which is owned by Kevin Smith).

The guys of Tell em Steve-Dave kept me company as I drew!

Well, without the laptop I’ve managed to draw some pictures and actually make my brother a birthday card, so it’s been good.

 But, God, hopefully I’ll have one soon 🙂

Food, glorious Food!

When lunchtime rolls around in Ireland, Latimer and Ridley find themselves getting hungry, but roast dinners and stews aren’t what occupy their thoughts; no, they’re reminded of their culinary adventures in Tokyo!

Latimer: whenever I get hungry, I think back on food I had in the past. And for me, it can be the very distant past.

For example, my sister went to college in London when I was 6yrs old; when she moved there, myself and my mother went with her, to help her settle into her dorm for a few days. One night we were very hungry so we decided to get chips. I can remember it vividly, how dark and cold it was (my sister tells me now that it wasn’t a good area to be in at night time!), the roads were black, wet with rain, and the chippy was a little suspect.

We got three bags of chips wrapped tightly in newspaper (old school!). They were massive bundles and the chips were delicious!

There were so many that we could only manage to eat a few.So the majority of those chips were tossed in the bin.

That was a lifetime ago, but to this day, I remember those chips when I get really hungry. I think back and always say to myself ‘oh why did I toss them! I wish I could eat them now!’

It’s such a strong memory. We always remember a good meal, as if our body is saying ‘yes, remember how much you like to eat! How tasty food is! REMEMBER!’ Somehow it seems like the body is afraid one day we might not like food anymore!

When we went to Tokyo, it was one of our aims to eat well everyday. When we were in Japan 4yrs ago, we were with other people and it was hard to find food that everyone wanted to eat. This time, we had no worries; we’re pretty similar in that we wanted true Japanese food, and we wanted to eat!

Thankfully, Tokyo was only too willing to feed us!

Every time we went somewhere, I took out the camera and snapped some pictures. Because we wanted to remember the food; we wanted to show people; ‘look, look at the food! Look how yummy it is… we ate that! We remember the taste’.

Looking at these pictures now, I have very fond memories of sitting in these places, munching on this food as Tokyo and its people flashed passed us; we ate in good company, had good chats and dreamed good dreams… so with that, let me show you our food memories!

Day one of serious photo taking involved yummy okonomiyaki (sort of savory pancakes) at the famous restaurant, Sometarou in Asakusa. We mentioned it in a previous post, but it’s worth another mention. It was amazing!

It was also the most tradition place we ate in, and while it was roasting sitting by those frying-slabs, it was just perfect!

Ridley lovingly paints our pancakes, with a substance we didn’t recognise but had the consistency of tar!

Cuttlefish and tiny red shrimp- probably us at our most adventurous I think!

The next day we were off to Ueno Park.

Now the Lonely Planet guide book didn’t recommend many eateries in Ueno, so we were stuck. It was a hot day, the park was vast and we were hungry. Looking around the periphery of the park we managed to find the Korean cafe.

Ah, we love Korean food, it’s hearty stuff, so we were very happy with this find!

Although the waiter didn’t understand us, and we had some mishaps ordering, which left Ridley with food, and me with a drink! Ha! We managed to sort it out and I ended up with food, but Ridley didn’t get her drink! But she didn’t care by then, it was too much hassle!

But actually, the drink was AMAZING! Like drinking sunlight (big assumption!).

The food was typical Korean fare (yummy!)….

Except for these….

Ahhh! What are they? They’re looking at me! Ridley ate them without looking as far as I’m concerned! When I pointed it out to her, she was two mouthfuls in… she was rightly aghast!

When we went to Ikebukuro, we ate in one of the shopping malls.

Which we were kind of thinking was a cop-out as we should eat ‘authentic’ food out in the little restaurants. But the guide book (not that it had become God in the last few days…well actually it had, all hail guide book!) said that the malls actually have some really good places to eat in!

They were right! This was a veggie noddle dish, with rice, served in a pipping hot stone bowl. Which, in winter would be just amazing, in summer a bit too hot, but still lovely!

At one point I remember we spent hours looking for this one restaurant around the Ginza area I think.

Ridley had her google maps out and we managed to find the place where the restaurant should have been. But it was mysteriously absent (she was annoyed because we had spent all that time looking and it was almost like the map had bested her!).

So, falling back on the God, Lonely Planet, we headed into the nearest shopping mall. We judged based on pictures what restaurant we would eat in.

It was on the top floor and faced a massive sky-bar that loomed over the mall from across the road. We sat down, and a lovely waitress came over and explained the menu (we had been staring at it completely bewildered). She had very good English (we were soooo happy!). The first thing she asked though was…. ‘have you ever eaten Korean before’.

Haha, we didn’t even know we’d come into a Korean restaurant. We were even happier!

The food was cooked (by her in front of us) over a small hot plate, in a large steel bowl.

She asked us if we wanted rice or noodles, we said noodles…. but they didn’t materialize. We were baffled, but we ate away not caring.
It was great, sharing food over a hot plate like that. Korean food is so hearty and built to share (kind of facilitates conversation too!).
When we were finished the waitress returned with the mysteriously absent, much discussed noodles. She put them into the remaining sauce and added water, leaving it to bubble away… It was so good!
It reminded us of being in a Korean drama! It was the best feed I think we had while in Japan.

I get very hungry thinking back on this dinner… sigh. On another day we contemplated going back to this place, but Ridley frowned, “I don’t think I could find it even if we wanted to, we did so much walking around… I wouldn’t know the way.”

Ridley is like a human GPS, so if NavWoman couldn’t find it, it wasn’t possible!

Of note here, is that myself and Ridley have this deep love of ramen. It started really from watching anime (Naruto mainly). We always wanted to taste the real stuff in Japan. We managed to on our first trip a few years back and we always regretted not eating more of it (our other friends didn’t really like it that much).

So this time we were noodle crazy- we wanted to go to ramen places as much as possible. It’s a massive bowl of happiness!

This place was a ramen shop around where we were staying (Akasaka). It wasn’t the best ramen we had, but it was nice. We had to use the typical vending machines the Japanese use in eateries like ramen places and curry houses.

Bascially you select the meal you want, pay for it, get your ticket and give it to the people in the shop. It’s a brilliant idea, because us foreigners aren’t left feeling confused… although a few times some kind Japanese people had to step in and help us! You have to match up katakana, kanji and hiragana symbols to identify the food you want on the machine (a little time consuming, so we had to make sure no one was waiting behind us, or sidestep and let them in first!).

I was actually always very happy to see these machines in the places we were going to eat in- a deep sense of relief!

Our search for ramen brought us to another cool, traditional restaurant around Akasaka. This ramen was delicious!

These were Ridley’s gyoza (dumplings… she didn’t like em- too many onions!)

My yummy ramen (I love sweetcorn)

Ridley’s pork ramen (looks delicious)

The best ramen we had, we got in the Ginza district, in yes, another shopping mall! This was our last night in Tokyo, so we finished it with the food we had loved most- (well, next to the Korean food!).

This business man was eating beside us. He was a little rude to the guy making the ramen.

I found at times the meat that was being used was tough. But this was melt in your mouth pork. I feel like Homer Simpson at the moment, drooling away at the thoughts of eating.

I was so tired this night. Me and Ridley sat at this bench for ages. We were the only people there. I nodded to sleep at one point (resting my eyes, haha). When we got up to leave, the two ramen chiefs smiled over at us and gave us big goodbyes and thank yous. It was a nice way to end our ramen adventure!

A side project we had was to have proper Bubble Tea/Milk Tea. This is popular in Asia. Basically it’s a milk-based, flavoured drink, with tapioca balls in it. The straws are thick so you can suck them up. The desire to get the Bubble Tea wasn’t that strong as the days wore on. It was only as we passed through Harajuku on our third round that we found this Pearl Lady place. Which seemed to be where all the kids hung out.

It was all pink and open plan and full of cheap fast-food places selling curly potato fries and so on. 

After about 10mins of trying to remember my Katakana (argh, I hate Katakana). I was able to figure out two flavours, caramel and strawberry! That’ll do we thought!

We settled down at the window overlooking Takeshita dori. We slurped on our Bubble Teas, with intermittent coughing/choking fits when we gulped down a tapioca ball or three, or ten.

We’ve had some bad Bubble Teas (Christmas market, Berlin brings back bad memories of gingerbread, hot Bubble Tea! Oh nasty). So, I was dubious. But this was so tasty. I wish we had of known about this place sooner! Check it out if you’re ever there- it’s so good!

Following a delay in our flight (actually an out and out cancellation), we ended up in an airport hotel. I finally tasted the strange green-tea and cherry blossom flavoured kit-kat I’d bought. It was actually nice. But doesn’t it look weird?

We were offered a free all you can buffet lunch- I should never be offered such a thing! I tried a bit of everything (and felt sick afterward). I snapped a picture of the fancy Japanese sweets because they looked so lovely. But I didn’t like them- they were made from rice dough and filled with bean-paste… I was expecting chocolate- so I was left grimacing, while Ridley nodded, “yep, bean paste! Knew it!”.

On the way home, our fly was practically empty- it was heaven for a long-haul! Everyone, I kid you not, everyone had a three seats to themselves! 

I won’t end with airplane food- don’t worry (it makes me sick and I can’t eat it). But I was able for this ice-cream….

Our final taste of Japan, for a few years at least!

On a book related update, the editing of our book is nearly finished! By me at least… procrastination must be the way of getting things done in a weird way! I’ve done so much of it. Soon we’ll be sending it to the professionals. We are so excited to be walking down this road! Ridley is busy with her book trailer too, so all is going well!

In the editing process I have been armed with my moomin cup (always full of Lyons tea) and my moomin pen for the taking of notes (both bought in Kiddyland in Harajuku)! The kit-kat, yes, is one I bought in Japan. If it keeps I plan to eat it when the book goes ‘live’ so to speak! Keep watch… it might not last that long!

One Piece of what?

Since returning home to Ireland from Japan, Latimer has begun to wonder- what is One Piece and why was it stalking her across Tokyo?

Latimer: I am a massive manga and anime (subbed) fan. I follow, what I term, two ‘epics’- Naruto and Bleach.

While some would say, you like cartoons seriously? I would reply; stories are stories, no matter the media… and I love a good story!

Naruto (by Kishimoto Masashi) started out initially as the story of a very annoying child. But as it progressed it turned out to be a very deep story; one of friendship, love, loss and betrayal. Naruto as a main character grows as the series progresses and becomes an actual inspirational figure in his world. No, he isn’t the strongest; no, he isn’t the best looking and NO he isn’t the coolest. But, he is the most courageous and determined. He comes to embody a true hero; someone who never gives up and will sacrifice everything to save his friends and even random strangers. It’s actually a great story about the growth of the individual (not just Naruto, but all the characters, villians and goodies alike).

Then there’s Bleach (by Tite Kubo). The story of an ordinary boy, Kurosaki Ichigo (not that ordinary as it turns out) who becomes a substitute Shinigami (or ‘death god’/soul reaper). He reaps ghosts that have become wild, beast-like creatures called ‘hollows’. The story really comes into its own when the real Shinigami (a woman called Rukia) who appointed Ichigo as a substitute Shinigami, is arrested for doing just that. The story gets some real pace when we are introduced to the Captains of Soul Society (the Shinigami world).

I wouldn’t say that Bleach has the emotional heart of Naruto (Ichigo is typical shounen (boys) manga main character material- he’s strong and keeps getting stronger and has powers likely beyond anyone that’s ever existed).

Ichigo isn’t as limited as Naruto in terms of strength, which lessens his chance of having the same emotional draw. It actually highlights the importance of character flaws. It is often stated in the DC comic and Marvel comic worlds, that all superheroes must have a cap on their abilities, otherwise we can’t understand or respect their struggles- ultimately for us mere mortals to fully connect with a character we must see that they are at least in part, as crap as us!

That aside, Ichigo’s story is very intriguing and when he gets strong enough to stand up to someone- it’s great! But there’s only so many battles that that can stay cool for.

I enjoy both Naruto and Bleach for different reasons. But, as Naruto is my first epic (Bleach is Ridley’s) it has a slightly bigger place in my heart.

 

One Piece (my Tokyo stalker) is older than both Bleach and Naruto. I know this because Wikipedia told me.

I thought because Bleach and Naruto were massive in the West, we wouldn’t be able to move for Bleach and Naruto junk in Tokyo.

Oh, how wrong I was… instead I was stalked around the city by ONE PIECE… it was in the shops, on the subway… in the cinema… at the airport… it was FOLLOWING me and I knew nothing about it! That always annoys me.

It’s supposed to be a fantastic story. It is extremely popular… and the marketing was working on me… I wanted to know about it.

So, I decided I would A) do a One Piece Stalking me post, and B) in order to do this, I would watch 1 episode of One Piece.

It’s an epic story (551 episodes long TO DATE). The manga is a staggering 15 years old this August (and still ONGOING)!

I can’t commit to this; but I am curious (good marketing Tokyo… very good).

So, I am now going to watch my first episode (before this, I’ll get some tea, in my new Moomin Cup I got in Harajuku’s Kiddyland- that’s a shop, by the way!).

Okay, now I’m ready to go… (I will record initial thoughts):

(Pirates… uh-oh, not a fan of the sea)

(One Piece is some mythical treasure)

(That orange-haired girl has massive hands)

(Damn, this cup is SMALL… but that’s a fine cup of tea if I do say so myself- Lyons Tea, are you listening?)

(I’ve learned new words: Muri desu- ‘it’s impossible’. ‘KAIZOKU’ is a pirate- interesting because ‘kazoku’ is family- so you got to be careful when saying KAIzoku and KAzoku! Makes me wonder; have I ever said; “there are 5 people in my pirate”, in my old Japanese classes?)

(Monkey… the main character is called Monkey?)

(Monkey reminds me of Naruto- he’s pretty annoying… but this likely means he has great potential as a main character?)

(Monkey ate a fruit that makes him essentially elastic… and therefore strong? Yep. Someone (a massive ‘woman’ pirate that looked like a man) just hit him with a giant Morningstar and he was fine)

(He is a lone pirate looking for a crew. Obviously that means the orange-haired girl anyway)

(End: if someone could download the story into my head, then fine, but I can’t watch 551 episodes…)

I’ll tell you what though, I am very interested in something as a result of one split moment… The orange-haired girl was running around in the background of the whole episode, looting from the pirates. Then, she’s escaping off the ship at the end of the episode; Monkey is also. His escape boat crashes down beside hers, spraying her with a wave of seawater (she screams). Then, the camera shot slows down and they look at each other for a brief moment…

My lasting thought… do they fancy each other? Does Monkey have a thing for the Orange-haired girl? I know she’s important because…

she was on the cover of the orange-juice I bought!

Advertising Jungle

Below are just a few of the advertisements here in Tokyo. They can be found on the televisions, large screens on the buildings around the city, in shops and on the subways. It’s not hard to notice that no matter where you go, there is always something for sale or being pushed at you. So here are a few of them….

Ridley: I really don’t know what it is about this video, but it’s just so creepy. The guy playing the tiger is a brilliant dancer, I’ll give him that much. I don’t know why, it’s a combination of the music, the movements he makes and also the little tail movements. Cool, but creepy. And as with all the advertisements over here, we’ve finally worked out what they’re singing (after quite a bit of debate I might add), it’s ‘Ultra Ultra Ultra-book’. The dancer is also in an advertisement that shows in the cinema here (we went to MIB 3 here, for the experience!). The ad is for discouraging illegal filming of the movies. He also dances like this but with a giant camera on his head. That too is creepy. 

Latimer: This ad makes my skin crawl; the sound, the way he moves, the setting- yuck! I feel like my soul has been violated! (He’s a brilliant dancer though!)

Ridley: PonPon girl, as I call her, is everywhere here. There are advertisements in the subways, on little trucks that trundle passed playing her music, in magazines, on TV adverts for fizzy drinks and also on shopping bags carried around by people. I think she’s mad looking, a bit like an Asian Lady GaGa.

Latimer: She’s been following us from station to station and bookshop to bookshop. Leave us be, woman! The song is catchy; but MENTAL… The video is just plain crazy- if I had epilepsy it would give me seizures.

Ridley: I’ve really grown to like this song *rocks side to side with a smile*.

Latimer: No you haven’t, it makes you sick after awhile, that’s not normal.

Ridley: Perhaps….pon pon poooon…

Latimer: Why are the Moomin’s so popular in Japan? A strange Finnish cartoon from the 80’s. Apparently, they now sell Suzuki cars in Japan! Hyaku-pa-cento (100%). That’s all I get out of it. It’s catchy; periodically I will turn to Ridley and sing; “Hyaku-pah-cent-ooh”. It has amused us; the easily amused.

Ridley: I didn’t know what the crazy Moomin witch (and Latimer) were saying for ages. Since I’ve been here, I’ve never had so many words I don’t know spoken at me, I’ve perfected the art of the half smile and non-committed nod. It will get me in trouble one day.

Latimer: There’s a One Piece movie coming out soon and so, it is EVERYWHERE in Japan at the moment. They are in every 7 eleven shop. I don’t watch it, but I am half-thinking I should, but the likelihood is slim. I can’t commit to something that epic any more. I’m not as young as I used to be. 

Ridley: Those twenty-five year old bones of yours are creaking pretty badly these days, Lat! Mwhaa. For the record, I have no intention of being sucked in by the bombardment of all the One Piece advertising, I have no time for it, not when I’m barely getting round to seeing my Bleach and Naruto episodes!