Tag: Novel

Book Review – Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster’s Daughter

Book Review – Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster’s Daughter

Organized crime, forceful loan sharks and debt collectors, drug deals gone wrong. These are some of the things people think of when they hear the work “yakuza.” Often depicted on the large screen as well-dressed men who want to rise up through the ranks, those who call themselves yakuza are part of Japan’s organized crime ring, involving themselves in various kinds of criminal activities that would lead them to doing heavy jail time if caught or sold out. However, even when heavily involved in the underworld of crime, many of them still paid attention to their lives outside of the ring.

Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster’s Daughter is a woman’s life story during the 70’s and 80’s of Japan how her life changed all because she was the daughter of a yakuza boss. Ever since she was just a child, Shoko Tendo had to deal with the lifestyle that followed her, from hearing nasty and malicious rumors about her family, being shunned and tormented by both students and teachers while she was at school, and enduring the countless abuse from those she loved, including her own father. In her early teenage years Tendo told the story of her rebellious and delinquent ways as a yanki, and her experiences getting high off of paint thinner and hard drugs. As she got older, her life would seem to be on the right track to improvement, but then reality would hit her in the face, literally, in the form of various kinds of abuse she endured from different men.

Tendo left nothing to the imagination, getting right to the point when she shared her experiences, both the heart-warming and the dirty and gritty. Her writing style is raw and harsh, often going into detail about events that would make one’s shoulder shudder and send an icy cold tinge through their body. Many who’ve read it found it uncomfortable to read at times because Tendo practically took her life and written it onto paper, but that’s what kept me wanting to read more. From describing how debt collectors came by and destroyed her childhood home, to the bloodied, bruised and scared damaged she suffered at the hands of her lovers, those who like reading about one’s journey from hell and back will truly enjoy Tendo’s tale.

It was the height of summer, and there were days when the heat was enough to melt the asphalt on the street. The heavies sent by the loan sharks couldn’t care less. They ripped out all the air-conditioning units in the house and piled them up in the garbage along with a bunch of other household appliances, all in full view of the neighbors, of course. Our large-sized American refrigerator was left lying on its side, its doors hanging open to reveal nothing but empty white racks. The wooden parquet floors were so damaged that they didn’t lie flat anymore, creating a kind of bizarre optical illusion that the ground was moving.

Every day without fail, the debt collectors would fling open our doors or windows and yell in at us. I knew there was no point in arguing, but one day I cracked under the pressure. After one thug had just hurled a string of abuse at my mother, I brought my fist crashing down on the kitchen table.

“Who the hell do you think you’re threatening? If you keep on talking to my parents like that, you stupid assholes, then that’s it.”

“Fucking kid!” he spat back.

So this was what is was like to have no money. I wanted to cry with frustration.

Without wanting to give away major points and details about the emotional and complex life, the moment Tendo decided to have a tattoo done by a traditional Japanese tattoo artists, that’s the moment when she took her life in her hands and began to take control, not letting her past come and haunt her anymore. Accompanying the book are photographs submitted by Tendo herself, giving us a small window on what parts of her life actually looked like, including a photo of her tattoo.

After reading Yakuza Moon, it personally gave me a deeper understanding about exactly what kind of life a yakuza would be involved in, and what kind of torment and suffering their family may have to go through.

Yakuza Moon: Memories of a Gangster’s Daughter by Shoko Tendo is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major bookstore. For those who like visuals and images, there is also a manga/graphic novel adaptation of Tendo’s life story. Regardless of which one is purchased, it’s still well worth the read.

(Image from Amazon.com)

Luka’s Top 5 Tips to Writing

I’m sure that this has been done thousands and thousands of times, and that another one of these ever being seen will go unnoticed, but I figured I’d give my own personal take on it. Everybody has their pen opinions and things that work for them, right?

People always think that writing is something that only those who are talented, those who’ve gone to school too perfect their skills, and the naturally gifted, are able to do. Every now and then we’ll hear about a new bestseller from an unknown name, sometimes from somebody who’s only in their early 20s or so. Or maybe, an instant classic has been uncovered by an author who has long since past into the next life. Yes, it may have brought them fame, but it wasn’t because they just randomly sat down one day and pushed out a masterpiece in a matter of hours. 

It takes a refinement of your ability, focusing on what you’re best at or what your interested in and improving upon it. For me, I found out I wanted to write when I was only into my freshman year of high school and I’ve continued ever since. And with that, I’d like to share my top 5 five tips to writing. 

1. Figure out what you want to write

You can’t just randomly sit down and just put words on a page. Although you can just keep writing word after word until you have a nice length, it won’t always matter if you know exactly what you’re writing. Maybe while you’re in the middle of a free-write, you read the words and turn out that you were writing an article about your favorite restaurant, or it’s an academic style paper on how black holes form. When you’re ready to sit down and let the words flow, have some kind of ideas of where you want your words to lead the reader. 

2. Know why you’re writing something

Let’s be honest: Some people want to write or publish a book because they think it can turn a quick dollar. Although writing can lead to profit, it’s a much more challenging project as a whole, requiring more than just an ability to craft a story. You’ll need to be able to set yourself apart from the sea of upcoming authors and a place on the best seller’s list. However, making a profit isn’t the only reason to write. Maybe you’re the kind of person who never see a certain genre and decided to write one. Or maybe you’re using writing as an outlet for stress. Some people even write just because it’s fun. Regardless of your own reasoning, keep it in mind when you’re letting your words out. 

3. Keep your goals grounded and honest

In the beginning, having the goal of finish a novel in a month may sound an ideal goal. Some can do it because they have the amount of time needed to craft and complete such a feat. However, everybody is different and have different circumstances. Yes, it would be amazing to finish a novel, but think about your schedule: Do you really have the time to spend hours a day writing? You want to find a nice balance of responsibilities and free time that can be dedicated to writing. And that goal of finishing a novel, drop it down to finishing one page a day, or even just 500 words. Over time, you’ll realize that your little goals actually took you further than one massive goal. 

4. Create the right writing setting 

I’ve have dozens of friends and family members ask me ” How can your write when it’s so busy around you!” Truth is, when it’s busy, I’m just noting down things I can do for story ideas or just writing lines of dialog. I’m the kind of person who can really be focused with a pair of headphones playing smooth jazz while typing at a comfortable 40 words-per-minute. Now, that’s just me. There are those who thrive and feed around the busy, hectic life they have. And of course, there are those who can’t even get a single word out if it’s too loud. Experiment with your surroundings and see which one you’re most productive in. Is it the silent library corner all the way in the back, or can you down out the noises of a midtown cafe shop at nine in the morning?

5. Don’t compare yourself to others

One of the biggest reasons why people give up writing is because they’re constantly comparing their work to others. Comparing yourself to a bestseller is one of the worst things to do because it’s limiting your ability to write; you’ll eventually just end up copying their style because it’s easier. But never let that stop you. There’s only one you, find your own writing style that suits you. If anything, if you’re looking at other’s work, let it be for motivation, give you a reason to strive higher and continue to improve. It never hurts to have a rival that you want to best. 

And there you have it! Now, I could have gone and made this list when further, but I felt like five is a good benchmark to at least get somebody started or help light that fire they needed to continue. 

Do you agree with my list? Do you feel like something else should have been on it? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!

(P.S Peer feedback is always a good idea!)

It’s Time Again: NaNoWriMo Has Begun!

It’s finally November. It’s just after the spooky month of October, but just before the festive December holidays. It’s that time of the year where people come together, come together as a family for a large feast at the end of the month, and draw turkeys using our hands as a guide. It’s a great month to start bringing family and loved ones together. But there’s another thing that happens in November. A certain little thing that involves spending time using your imagination and collecting your thoughts. That’s right: It’s time for NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month, is that time of the year dedicated for people who want to challenge their creative potential. Throughout the entire month of November, authors, writers, and wordsmiths alike are encouraged to try and write an entire novel over the course of one month. To some, this is a feat that’s too challenging for them, but still attempt it for pure enjoyment. Then there are those who constantly keep their pens and pencils moving, or fingers moving in case they type their words,

Although the word “Novel” is in NaNoWriMo, the end-result doesn’t necessarily have to be a novel. It could be an anthology of short stories, a collection of original poetry and song lyrics, an autobiographical story about a plant named Rodrick told through multiple monologues, it can honestly be whatever a person can think of.

Although the month is all suppose to be about encouraging others around the world to find their inner writer, there are those out there who feel like NaNoWriMo only sets unrealistic standards and mindsets for those who haven’t been in the writing industry long enough.

If you’re curious and want more information about what exactly NaNoWriMo is and how to involve yourself for the month, head on over to the official NaNoWriMo website for more information.

Are you a new member of NaNoWriMo or are you a returning veteran? Do you find the NaNoWriMo website helpful or does it set unrealistic expectations? Feel free to express your thoughts and ideas in the comments and share!