Casual Cosplay: Chihiro and Haku

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Spirited Away is one of my favorite movies of all time.  The themes of knowing a person, despite what appearance they have, is something that resonates with me.  As well as the idea of a person growing from tough situations.  It’s an amazing film.  Touching, emotional, humorous, and so, so sweet.

I had the idea for a Chihiro casual cosplay for the longest time.  The only problem I had was finding jersey knit fabric in that shade of pink (it’s sort of salmon or coral, I think).  When I finally did find something that would work, I crafted a maxi skirt.  I paired this skirt with a knit cardigan I bought.  This more-or-less suggests the idea of Chihiro without actually looking exactly like her.

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For Haku, I started with a blue gauze skirt to resemble the bulky pants he wears.  Under a white shirt, I wore a purple tank top for the purple sash he had tied around his waist.

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For both outfits, I accessorized with a beautiful bracelet I received from a friend.  It says, “Embrace the Journey.”  Fitting for these two characters.

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Quick Review: Starting His Engine

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Wanting something fun and flirty, I read W.S. Long’s NASCAR themed short story, Starting His Engine.  This was definitely what I was in the mood for!

Caleb Youngblood comes from a racing family, but he’s been kicked off the race team.  This argument with his father makes Caleb look closer at his life goals, and his budding relationship with steady boyfriend, Sebastian Rush.

After a few tense days, Caleb is able to finally get to the bottom of the family drama.  He discovers his father doesn’t want him racing because of his sexual orientation.  Dad thinks NASCAR isn’t ready for a gay racer yet.  Caleb also isn’t sure he’s ready to be out with the fans and racers alike.

This story was short, but so sweet!  Caleb had an interesting view on life, and I liked his thoughtful process for dealing with the pressures of his family, his fans, and his boyfriend.  Sebastian could have used a bit more definition in his personality, but when he and Caleb were together, the two were adorable.  I loved their interactions and their tender romance.  They are a super cute couple!

The plot was simple and straightforward, the family drama taking center stage.  But there was also the plot of a gay man racing in NASCAR.  I was surprised how much the subject caught my attention.  I’ve never watched a single NASCAR race, but I was very into the details of the sport that were added into the story.

With the sequel, Too Tough to Tame, being released April 8th, I’m really looking forward to where these characters wind up in the next chapter of their lives!

4/5

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Casual Cosplay: Aviendha

Aviendha, of the Nine Valleys sept of the Taardad Aiel, is an amazing character in Robert Jordan’s (and Brandon Sanderson’s) The Wheel of Time series.  The Wheel of Time is my favorite book series.  There isn’t enough I can say to praise it, and its authors.

Aviendha starts out as a Maiden of the Spear, a woman warrior dedicated to protecting her sept and clan.  As the story progresses (SPOILER) she is forced to give up the spear and become a Wise One.  The Wise Ones are the women leaders of the community; they help the clan–and the whole Aiel race–to grow.

This cosplay outfit is Aveindha as a Wise One.  They wear bulky brown skirts and white blouses.

To give it some Aviendha flair, I wore a necklace that was reminiscent of a rose (she wears an ivory bracelet shaped like roses) and I had a snowflake bracelet (she wears a necklace of Kandori design called “snowflakes”).

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And for just a bit extra Wheel of Time-ness, I added in turtle earrings to represent the amber turtle brooch angreal that Aviendha received from Elayne.

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Though Wise Ones should not be killing, I still wore a black scarf for a shoufa, just in case.

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Casual Cosplay: Kyo Sohma

Kyo-kun is a character in the anime/manga Fruits Basket.  In this tale, an unlucky family is cursed by the spirits of the Chinese Zodiac (Juunishi), and they turn into their designated animal when hugged by a member of the opposite sex.  Kyo-kun is an outlier in the story–the cat.  Though not an official member of the twelve animals (according to legend, he was tricked by the rat), Kyo-kun is still cursed.  His curse is worse than the others.  If he doesn’t wear a special bracelet, his “true form” is revealed: the vengeful cat spirit.

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Kyo is feisty, angry, emotional, and neglected.  He’s a very sad character with a lot of baggage.  Which is why I love him so much (though Yuki-kun is my favorite).

For the casual cosplay, I took a pair of my husband’s pants and combined them with a black shirt, and a green hoodie.

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And I even had actual Kyo-kun cosplay beads that I got from my sister!

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Quick Review: Cover Me

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I just finished Cover Me, by L.A. Witt.  This novel was very solid.  Solid plot, characters, setting, even sex.

Nick Swain is a paramedic who has to make a tough call while working an emergency scene.  One patient is too far gone to even try to save, so he moves onto the next.  When the first patient winds up dying, the media attacks Nick for negligence.

Andrew Carmichael is an undercover cop whose partner wound up stabbed in an operation gone wrong.  When Nick successfully saves his partner’s life, he’s more than grateful.  Their interaction at the crime scene leads to them meeting at Nick’s apartment for decompression sex.  Naturally, feelings begin to grow from the originally physical-based relationship.

What I loved about this story was how Nick dealt with his stress in his own way.  He needed sex to let his mind and body relax.  His previous partners didn’t understand that sex–not talking–was what he needed to get past his traumatic day job.

Throughout the story, Nick wonders if he’s just fucked up.  If his way of cooping isn’t right.  During those moments, I wanted to yell at him that he was fine.  That he didn’t need to conform to what others thought was “normal.”  So, when Andrew came along–with an equally stressful and traumatic occupation–I loved how he and Nick fell into sync.  These two were perfect together.

The writing was great, the pace quick, the sex scenes amazing.  I immensely enjoyed this book from start to finish.

4/5

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Casual Cosplay: Vyse

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I fell in love with the game “Skies of Arcadia Legends” when it was released on the GameCube.  It was one of the most in depth RPGs I’d played up to that point.  I adored the story lines, the graphics, the characters, the scope of the game play.  To this day, I still enjoy playing this game!

Vyse, himself, is a wonderful character.  He’s cute, charming, and with a strong moral compass.  Though he’s an air pirate, he’s also a member of the Blue Rogues–a group that only steals from the wealthy armada ships of the Valuan Empire.

Anyway, I really wanted to try my hand at a Vyse casual cosplay.  It’s a pretty simple outfit, and easy to tweak for work-appropriate attire.

I wore a black skirt instead of leggings. I also had a blue sweater with a thin, brown belt.  Vyse’s scarf is small, but I only had a long, fluffy red one to wear.  I think it still worked.

Lastly, I paired it with a purple whale bracelet.   Since (SPOILER!) the Purple Gigas turned out to be Rhaknam, the large arcwhale, it seemed to fit my theme!

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I also wore a crystal necklace under my scarf because it reminded me of moon stones.

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Casual Cosplay: Victor Nikiforov

I’m back at it.  For this outfit, I was inspired by Victor in his early days.  This outfit–based on one Johnny Weir wore–is adorable!  My purpose, though, is to be fun, not flashy.  I had to tone this down.

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I had a white shirt with a stain, so I crafted it with gel glue into a feather/diamond motif.

I paired the shirt with blue jeggings, and hipster type shoes I thought Victor would wear.

To complete the look, I added in a flower tiara.

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And some cute bracelets to show off Victor’s love of the ice (snow), and his love for Katsuki Yuri (the piglet).

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Put them all together and you’ve got a complete look!

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Casual Cosplay: Luna

Here’s another casual cosplay outfit I was really proud of.  In the Sailor Moon S movie, Usagi’s magical cat, Luna, transforms into a human.  And she’s stunningly beautiful!

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My idea was to combined a yellow tank top–or spaghetti strap dress–with a black, flowy skirt.

I found a yellow tank top that suited my needs. To be appropriate for work, though, I paired it with a black shirt underneath.

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It’s hard to tell, but I attempted to do four buns (meatballs) on my head.  Since my hair is short, they didn’t turn out well.

I also wore my cute mouse shoes.  It seemed appropriate, as I was cosplaying a cat.

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Finally, I wore a golden moon necklace!

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I wish my shirt was a bit brighter, but it’ll do!

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Casual Cosplay: Misaki Takahashi

I love dressing up.  Any kind of costume makes me incredibly happy.  That’s my favorite part of Halloween, or Spirit Week at work, or even Comicon.  That’s also why I’m really into casual cosplay.

Casual cosplay–or everyday cosplay–is a normal outfit that resembles a character, or just takes themes of a movie, show, or book, and encompasses them into an outfit.  It’s all personal interpretation.  And since I’m doing to make myself happy, it doesn’t matter if anyone else recognizes it!

First up is Misaki Takahashi.  He is the main character in Shungiku Nakamura’s manga/anime “Junjou Romantica.”

For my cosplay outfit, I combined a few of his looks into one.  First, I started with his pinned back hair.

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He wears it like this in the first episode of the anime.  Since my hair is similarly short, I pinned mine back with bobby pins.

Next, I took an outfit from season three where he’s getting ready to practice for his job interview.  He wears a white button up shirt, a tie, and a blue cardigan.

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I mimicked the white shirt and the cardigan.

Also, Misaki famously (or infamously) wore a pair of socks with stars on them.  I think they are adorable, but many within the fandom don’t agree.

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I have similar socks, bought solely for this purpose.

Finally, I finished my look with a bunny necklace.  Misaki’s significant other is Akihiko Usami–with the nickname Usagi, which means bunny. (My necklace is actually a blown-glass Peep I bought at the Phoenix Comicon!)

These powers combine to form Misaki!

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Pipelines in Paradise Release

I’m so excited to announce the release of my debut novella, Pipelines in Paradise!

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This projected started out on a whim.  I saw the call for submissions from Dreamspinner Press’s States of Love Series, and I was inspired.  The stories I typically write are science fiction and fantasy, so a contemporary romance–set in a state I’ve never even visited–was outside my comfort zone.  However, pushing yourself is always a good thing.  I was happy to get to work on this story, the characters, the setting, the relationship.

I wanted the main character, Palmer Simpson, to be restarting his life.  I was reminded of a quote by the author Haruki Murakami in his short story “Man-Eating Cats.”  It goes, “Once you make up your mind to get rid of something, there’s very little you can’t discard. No–not very little. Once you put your mind to it, there’s nothing you can’t get rid of.”  I tried to channel this idea into Palmer. He lost everything, and with the absence of that fear, he picked up and moved on.

I enjoy the idea of new beginnings, or second chances.  I feel it’s never too late to reevaluate any situation and attack it from a new angle.  For Palmer, this manifested into a trip to Hawaii where he tries to reconnect with his childhood dreams of being a surfer.

Pipelines in Paradise is now available for purchase!  It can be bought directly from Dreamspinner Press, or from Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

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