Friday, April 30, 2010

Fake fires, real nurses

Today, we had a Friday drill at my big elementary school. Somehow, Japan makes even the most mundane things ridiculous or amusing, or both.

Now, this wasn't my first drill. Last year, we had an earthquake drill at JHS, and I discovered, much to my dismay, after wandering outside 7 or so minutes into the drill, that I wasn't on anybody's accountability list. On my old schedule (a week at each school), if I'd been buried in an earthquake on Tuesday, noone would notice until Monday. And even then, it would be my foreign colleagues, and not a Japanese person.

Anyhow, back to today.

The Senior Teacher warned me that the bells would ring at different times today, because of a fire drill. Okay, I thought, and went back to lesson planning.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

There is a fire truck reversing outside. I furrow my brows. Are they for real? In answer to that question, an ambulance pulls up. The firemen come in- in my town, the Fire Service mans the ambulances as well- and go into the Principal's room, where they have green tea. Around 9.30 the firemen and the Principal wander back into the staff room. The Senior Teacher comes and stands at the PA system, which happens to be right next to my desk. I'm ignoring everybody and drawing pictures of Doraemon and Naruto for a game.

That is, until the Senior Teacher presses a button, and the most obnoxious alarm I've ever heard goes off. The Senior Teacher then announces that this is a drill and there is a fire. The School Secretary and the caretaker come over to the PA system, which also has the fire alarm monitoring system, and figure out that the fire is in a classroom on the 3rd floor. They grab a fire extinguisher and race upstairs, accompanied by a fireman. At this point, I wonder if they plan to have a fireman at the school before a real fire alarm, but then, there might actually be. The firemen and the police are at my schools so often, I can recognise them. I also realise that the alarm sounding in the hallway is a normal alarm and not the obnoxious sound playing in the staff room.

The Secretary, Caretaker and fireman return. They report to the Senior Teacher that they could not control the fire. She then announces that we're to evacuate. The Principal turns off the lights in the staff room and we head out. Some of the staff go to the genkan (entrance way) first to get their outdoor shoes. I go with them. If I wear my indoor shoes outdoors, then I have to stop and clean them before I come back inside. I wonder if, in the event of a real fire, people would go get their outdoor shoes.

Having grabbed our shoes, we head back the way we came to go out the back of the school. The School Nurse is running across the field with a green cross flag. Class teachers aren't too far behind. They all have flags with the number of their grade on them, and they're being followed by their students. They actually used the pretty staircase on the side of the building. It never occured to me that it's a fire escape. It's really pretty, it has a glass roof, and green floral designs in the metal on the sides. They sit down and make sure the kids are all accounted for (noone checked the teachers- I'm just going to bail out in the event of a real emergency, cuz noone will notice I'm missing til I'm dead).

And then, we did the Japanese thing. A fireman came up and gave a speech. I don't know how Japanese people manage to work a full on speech into everything, but they do. And then it was over, and the kids went to clean their indoor shoes, but not before I wondered what would happen if there was an emergency which required an ambulance while this was going on. The central part of my town has at least 7,000 people, 8 fire trucks and 1 ambulance. I don't know why we need 8 fire trucks either. At home we've got 270,000 people and we have like 11.

As promised, I'm also going to tell you guys about the Nurse Room kids. People who've never lived in Japan think that the society is all orderly, and obedient. They are sooooo wrong!

Here's the thing: in Japan there's no punishment. Yep, NO punishment.

Okay, that's not exactly true. But the only punishment for most things, is social ostracism. Japanese society is very dependent on the idea of being part of the group. You want to be like the members of your group and you don't want to displease them. That's all well and good, but if you're like me, and you don't really give two monkey coronaries what other people think, you can do whatever.

The Nurse Room kids are a prime example of this.

In Western society, if you have a problem with a kid in your class or a teacher, you deal with out. You can't just not come to school. I mean you could, but they'd have the truant officer on you in a minute.

Here, if something in class bugs you, it's perfectly okay if you stay at home. One of my ALT friends had a student who never came to school, except for the days when his wife (not an actual employee of the school) would come to school and draw manga characters with her. That same student never spoke to males.

Apart from not coming to school altogether, you can come to school and just go to the Nurse Room all day every day. There's even a possibility, that they will be an extra teacher to work with you, even though there's a teacher already on the payroll, teaching in your classroom.

By the way, this concept isn't just for kids. Adults can take kokoro no byouki (heartsickness), a seemingly unlimited amount of leave so they can just not come to work for whatever reason.

Another random thing I found out recently, kids are not special ed. if they disagree. Your teachers can say you belong in Special Ed, your parents can say you belong in Special Ed, but if you (the unqualified minor) say you don't, they have to put you in with the regular kids! I have seen this happen. In Special Ed, they would have learned at a slower rate, in the regular classroom they learn nothing. It's really sad.

Sometimes, Japan gets it so right. Other times, well at least they're good at judo!*

* Last year I had a kid who really struggled in all his subjects. I asked a teacher: Mizuki-kun** really struggles with English? And his response was, He's good at judo!

** name has been changed.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Talk Back Thursdays: Linda Villarosa

Welcome to Talk Back Thursdays, Linda. Tell us a bit about your book PASSING FOR BLACK.

I've been a journalist for years and years, always writing for someone else, in a voice that wasn't exactly my own. At the New York Times, I sounded like the other writers and editors, largely white men, who work for the paper. At Essence, I wrote serious stories mostly about social issues. People who'd read my stories would meet me in person, and always say something like, "wow, you're really funny, nothing like the serious articles you write!" So I decided to write a novel to be able to sound like me.


PASSING FOR BLACK explores both race and sexuality, two concepts which are the base of many works, but not often examined together. What made you decide to pair these two subjects?

There was a groundbreaking book about black feminist studies that used the phrase "all the women are white, all the blacks are men, But Some of Us Are Brave." To borrow from that, in the popular imagination it feels like "all the gays are white, all the blacks are straight, but some of us are brave." In Passing for Black I wanted to look at the intersection of race and sexuality, a place where so many of us live, often unseen.

Angela takes a non-traditional stance on black sexuality, which is seldom represented in publishing, if at all. What made you want to write this book?

I wasn't necessarily trying to write a lesbian novel or even a coming out story. I was writing about a woman who is trying to figure out who she is, how she wants to live and who she loves. It's a universal story, a novel of self-discovery. It's also about mother-daughter relationships, friendship and the publishing industry.


"You know who's meanest- black people. Somebody's always hatin' on you or saying they're going to kick your black ass into next week...Add in racism, and it's hard growing up black." Angela Wright, the protagonist of the novel, says this to her best friend, Mae. I love how you highlighted the pressure from within a community, in addition to the external pressures.


Thank you!

You present an interesting argument when you talk about passing. People (not just blacks) find themselves dragged into stereotypes. If you don't listen to rap music, you're not black enough. If you're white and you do, then you're trying to be black. Tell us about passing. Have you ever felt like you were forced to "pass" in your life?

I'm very interested in passing. I was a black studies minor in college and loved the books by Nella Larsen and Charles Chesnutt. My grandmother, who was mixed race, passed for white, which caused pain and tension in my own family. I thought about writing a novel about passing, but I didn't want to do historical fiction. So I thought, what does passing look like in the 21st century? Who is passing?

Then I thought of all the LGBT people who pass so they don't lose their families, friends, jobs. Then I thought about black LGBT who don't feel like "real blacks"--or are told they aren't really black--because of their sexuality. That's the big idea behind Passing for Black. But it's also the story of a woman who falls in love and learns to be herself.

One of the lighter topics was the black female preoccupation with hair. Why did you decide to include this theme?

Hey, I worked at Essence for a long time! In any gathering of black women, it's not long before the group starts talking about hair.

How was your path to publication? How much does it help to be a former New York Times editor?


It took me quite a while to get Passing for Black into print. I had to make the uneasy transition from journalist (an observer) to novelist (a participant). My early draft was basically rejected all over town. I pulled it back, got two wonderful readers to give me new insight, then sent it out again. I also changed the title from Together, which was too vague, to Passing for Black. I got two offers and ended up with Kensington, which worked out well for me.

It's not that easy to get a book published with a black main character who also discovers an attraction to a woman. Neither my Essence nor New York Times connections helped me. For me it was about digging deeper, improving my writing and being persistent and single-minded about getting this book published.


Can we expect more novels from Linda Villarosa?


I would like to write another novel down the road. Right now, I'm working on a nonfiction book about HIV/AIDS in the African American community and contributing to a PBS documentary on the same subject. I also teach journalism at City College, have two children and play pick up soccer for fun. So there's plenty going on in my world!

Thank you again for joining us on Talk Back Thursdays. Linda Villarosa is the author of PASSING FOR BLACK and a former editor of The New York Times and executive editor of Essence.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Unknown celebrities

I've got a little secret.

You know Jodi Piccoult? THE Jodi Piccoult who wrote My Sister's Keeper (now a major motion picture- can't wait for the day I can say that about my novel) and a whole long list of other works?

Well, I didn't. Know Jodi Piccoult, that is. Until I was introduced to her last year, by facebook. That's right, if it wasn't for WeRead on facebook recommending her, I would not know who she is (or Marian Keyes or Jennifer Weiner).

Oh, but it doesn't stop there. Nopes.

Remember Interview with a Vampire? Of course I knew Interview with a Vampire. Even I'm not that bad. lol. And I'd heard of Anne Rice. But they had a connection? News to me!

Oh, but it gets worse. (Can it get worse, you wonder?)

You know Neil Gaiman? Yes, yes. That Neil Gaiman. I had never even heard his name til January! I didn't know he wrote Coraline til last month and I only discovered on Thursday that he wrote Stardust!

What rock have I been under? What huge literary rock?

Right now, I'd love to blame Japan. After all, you lose your Western focus out here. They don't overload you with pop culture like in the US. (With the exception of J-pop and anime.) I legitimately didn't know about Twilight because I was in Japan. I read Twilight because I was in JFK and bored. By sheer coincidence.

But Jodi Piccoult? Anne Rice? Neil Gaiman? Definitely around before 2008.

So how did I miss them? I guess it's a mixture of things. But the biggest is probably this:

I forget the names of authors I've never read, and I never noticed writers, screenwriters, directors, etc in movies. Just the actors.

That said, I notice all the actors. Case in point, last week my neighbour read somewhere that straight actors are more likely to be cast in gay roles than gays in straight. To confirm this, we tried pulling up a list of gay actors on wikipedia.

Me: Omigosh! David Odgen Stiers!
Colleagues: blank stares
Me: Cogsworth!
Colleagues: more blank stares
Me: The clock in Beauty and the Beast
Colleagues: You know the name of the clock in Beauty and the Beast?
Me: Yeah, don't you?

I know actors like the back of my hand. Off the top of my head, I can tell you who did the singing and talking voices for young and grown Simba, for example.

But yet, these acclaimed writers slipped through the cracks.

I realised something last week (as I was spluttering at myself for never realising that Neil Gaiman wrote Stardust). If I'm to call myself a writer, I have a certain responsibility- not just to know of these authors because someone I know happens to mention them, or because something they did crosses my path.

It's my responsibility to be familiar with them. To read something by each of the greats. To know how Stephen King's style is different from Toni Morrison's. (That is like the weirdest comparison ever...) To internalise them to the point that I know what I like in their writing and what I don't like. (Please lightning, don't strike me.)

And the biggest responsibility of all? To seek them out. Just because I've never crossed paths with an author's work, doesn't give me an excuse to not know them.

Reporters don't sit in the news room waiting for news to jump into their laps.
Avon ladies aren't relaxing in their living rooms, waiting for customers to knock on their doors.
Doctors aren't lounging around the hospital waiting for patients to... Wait a minute... :)

Point being, stay informed.

Could you imagine? Being interviewed by Oprah and she wants to discuss how my themes are similar to Neil Gaiman's and I'm like "Who?".

NEVER.SELL.ANOTHER.BOOK!

PS. Don't forget to check out my contest.
And stay tuned tomorrow for an interview with the author of Passing For Black, Linda Villarosa

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Break in Transmission and Random 80's

My deepest apologies for disappearing these last few days. I was travelling. I thought I would have been able to give you guys a heads up on Thursday. Clearly, that was not the case.

I went to Okinawa (Japan's Caribbean) for the weekend. It was great- brown Japanese people, hisbiscus flowers, sugar cane, ukelele music, it kinda felt like Hawaii. (I've never actually been to Hawaii.) I had a bit of a fiasco coming back. I read the flight arrival time instead of departure time and totally missed my flight. $500 later, I ended up 100 miles South of where I'd planned to be and had to take a Shinkansen (bullet train) back to my prefecture to make it in time for work today.

Still, it was kind of tame, compared to my regular travel-ventures. lol.

But on a brighter note, I managed to pick up 6 new KitKat flavours! This means that the winners of The Sweetest Tooth contest are now guaranteed at least 7 KitKat flavors for their prize!

And now, back to regular Tuesday stuff. Some random 80's themes.

The Jeffersons 1975-1985. The longest running black sitcom! I always used to wonder what cho-rye-in was ("took a whole lot of cho-rye-in, just to get up that hill." lol)


David Hasselhoff and the coolest car I know! Knight Rider 1982-1986. Is it just me or has this theme song been sampled in a ton of modern songs?


Remember the dance of joy? Perfect Strangers 1986-1993. (This show had a spin-off that went on to become the 2nd longest-running black sitcom.)


Before there was Frasier, there was Cheers. 1982-1993, I think I was too young to appreciate the dry humour, but it's still some of my favourite tv lyrics ever.


Golden Girls 1985 - 1992. Can you believe Betty White is still acting?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Sweetest Tooth 2010

Guess what?

Golden Week is coming up. (Golden week is a week of holidays here in Japan.)

April 29- Showa Day (Showa was a former Emperor. The current Emperor's birthday is also a holiday.)
May 3- Constitution Memorial Day
May 4- Greenery Day
May 5- Children's Day

If you take April 30-May 2 off, you have 7 days of holiday. Apparently, the 'golden' part of the name was for the fact that it would be a golden opportunity to go to the movies. But I don't know how true that is.

Anyhow, since you guys don't live in Japan (with 2 exceptions) and you won't be able to hibernate for a whole week, I decided to give you a consolation prize:

MY VERY FIRST CONTEST!

It's called "The Sweetest Tooth" and there are 2 routes and several ways to enter!

A. LUCK

1. Be a follower and post in the comments saying that you are.
(NB. You don't have to be a follower to win in this contest. I'd like to think that those of you who are reading this blog are reading it because you wanted to. Not because I waved a prize at you.)

2. Link to this on your blog and post the link in the comments.

3. Write a short story 1000 words or less on the theme "The Sweetest Tooth". You can call it whatever so long as it has a connection to the name of the contest. Upload your story sometime between now and May 4th 11.59 pm EST, and leave a link in the comments.

You'll get an entry for each one of those 3 things.

What? You have no luck? I hear you.

Since I'm a writer and the grand majority of you are writers as well, there's another route to being a winner.

B. SKILL

4. If you enter using #3 above, on May 5th, followers can read your entries and vote.

But Claire, aren't you forgetting something?

Me? Forget? Never!

Well, maybe sometimes. Okay, okay, all the dang time.

The Prize!

Well since I AM in Japan. And it IS for Children's Day. And it IS called the Sweetest Tooth...


An assortment of Kit Kats!

So just to recap:
What: The Sweetest Tooth Contest
How: Be a follower, blog, write
When: Before 11.59 pm EST, May 4

Good luck! May the Sweetest Tooth win!

Welcome to the vlog party!

Hey lovies,

Today I'm posting my first vlog ever. Because you know I like to name stuff, my vlogs are going to be called "The vlog party".

This vlog is an entry to the contest that agents Kathleen Ortiz of Lowenstein Associates and Suzie Townsend of Fine Print Literary Management are hosting.

Here's what I had to do.

1. Post a vlog about a book repped by either agency.
2. Talk about what I liked about the book.
3. Mention what I thought I'd get from talking to the agents.

So here's my first vlog. Stay tuned, more on this awesome book to follow.

video

Here's the post I mentioned about some of my feelings on being black.

Hope you enjoyed. Wish me luck!

Empire State of Mind

What's on my mind today? State of mind.

My empire state of mind, by the way, has nothing to do with the Empire State as in Jay-Z's and Alicia Keys' song, but a little to do with Japan. And since we actually have an Emperor, we must be some sort of empire...

But, as a friend of mine would say, I digress...

So today I came to work and looked at the schedule. I had to teach 1st and 2nd period and I'm free the rest of the day.

Now, let me explain a little of my teaching situation to you. I teach at 1 Junior High (12-15 yr olds), 2 elementaries and 1 kindergarden. Except for kindergarden which is always at 11.00 whenever we're there, my schedule changes every time I come to school. And I never know my schedule til I go to a school for the first time that week. Tuesdays and Wednesdays I'm at JHS, so I at least know Wednesday's schedule a day ahead of time. I find out Thursday's schedule at 8 am on Thursday and Friday's at 8.25.

Well, today I looked at the schedule, and my brain processed it, 1st two periods and then off. Then the school nurse came to me and asked if I could teach the nurse room kids. (It's a long story. I'll try and remember to include it in Friday's post.) And it offset my day. I was a little annoyed and grumpy.

Why? I mean, it's not like I don't have 4 free periods today. When I was teaching at home, I would have killed for 4 free periods in one day. And it's not like I don't only have one class tomorrow. And I'm being paid to sit here sans internet (just hijacked a cable from the teacher who sits next to me, because she has a class now) until 4 pm. And I don't actually have to prepare a lesson or nothing.

I just have to go to class. And have a 50 minute conversation. In my native language. Seriously, it's really no sweat off my back.

So what was the problem again?

Mindset.

I came in and saw a plan. I was to do x thing at x time, and then I'd be free. And even though I really have nothing I have to do in the 5 1/2 hours of free time I was scheduled (other than edit my novel), my brain got used to that plan and was not thrilled to change it.

Makes me wonder how many other times we have problems that are entirely in our minds? How often ware we annoyed, disgruntled, miserable, sad, (insert negative emotion here) over nothing? And how often could we be happy, but choose not to be?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sunday Fun!

I was tagged last week by Marsha. The rules in this game are to answer 5 questions, 5 times, and then tag 5 other bloggers.

Question 1: Where were you five years ago?
1. University
2. Barbados
3. Colombia
4. Jamaica
5. Submarine

Question 2: Where would you like to be five years from now?
1. Published
2. On the NYT Bestseller List.
3. Writing Full Time.
4. Married
5. Fluent in Japanese

Question 3: What is (was) on your to-do list today?
1. Tidy living room
2. Critique
3. Edit
4. Watch anime (Full Metal Panic)
5. Try out new radio (found Full Metal Alchemist radio drama- Japan rocks!)

Question 4: What five snacks do you enjoy?
1. Pizza chips
2. Mochi (smashed rice)
3. Apple
4. Fruit cups
5. Crazy Kit Kat Flavours like Vegetable!



Question 5: What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
1. Spend 3 months apiece in Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Colombia, Kenya, ...
2. Set up writing scholarships
3. Be Emily Gilmore but nicer
4. Take my friends to Italy
5. Set up an asthma research organisation

All you've ever wanted to know about the entity called Claire Dawn.

I'm not tagging anyone (I know I'm a horrible rule-breaker), but if you want to do one of these, be my guest. :D

Saturday, April 17, 2010

DUFF ARC Giveaway and Fridays suck!

Yes, this is a far out Friday. Yes, it's totally Saturday- and not even just here in Japan where we get Saturdays first. Fridays SUCK! And now that I'm teaching again, it looks like I'm going to have to find a creative way of getting my Friday post to actually go up on Fridays. SIGH!

First things first. The awesome-cool girls over on the Highway are giving away a copy of Kody Keplinger's DUFF. Head on over and check it out.

The school year starts April 1, here in Japan. So last week I had a bunch of a nyuugakushiki and a nyuuenshiki and an enkai. Don't worry explanations to come.

Nyuugakushiki- 入学式- It's like matriculation at university. Excepth that you have one every time you enter school starting from primary/elementary.

My big elementary school invited me to theirs this year. (My big elementary is 194 kids. I know, I know. But it's huge when compared to Tiny Elementary and their 30 kids.) First I was proud to discover that my desk had been relocated so that I now sat with the teachers, as opposed to next to the caretaker. It only took 21 months too. lol!


I decided to try out a new style of 'fro for the day.


The new class marches in. They're only 25 of them, while the sixth grade is 46- demonstrating just how fast the Japanese population is shrinking.

The 2nd and 3rd graders did a recitation and a dance for the newbies. They spelled out Nyuugaku Omedetou (Congratulations on your matriculation) and did an anagram. In Japanese, it's spelled ni-yu-u-ga-ku-o-me-de-to-u. I was most surprised to find that I was the Ku! In Japanese my name is spelled ku-re-a. The sentence was:


Kurea-Sensei ni itsumo genkina eigo no aisatsu wo iite kudasai. (Or something like that.)
Claire-Sensei to always lively English greeting say please. (Don't you love Japanese word order?)

video

Here's a vid of a part of the dance the 2nd and 3rd grade did. All the dances the kids this age do, look almost exactly the same.


Nyuuenshiki- 入園式- gaku means to study, and is the last syllable in the words for elementary, middle and high school, and also university. Since you're not actually studying much the last syllable is en, and so they have a nyuuENshiki instead.


The teachers are being introduced to the parents and the newbies.


Get out! Now, while you still can! :)

Here's the 8th instalment of Iwate Swan from the late Rodger Swan. Most of the towns here have a summer festival. Hanamaki festival is a lot bigger than the one in my town, since Hanamaki is about the 4th biggest city in the prefecture. If you're wondering what they're chanting as they walk, it's ichi-ni which sounds more like each-knee. It means 1-2.



And in totally unrelated news, the newest flavour of Fanta, which I totally bought for it's name, but ending up being pretty good.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Talk Back Thursdays: Dianne Salerni

Welcome back for the second episode of Talk Back Thursdays. Today we are we are talking to Debut YA author, Dianne Salerni.

Hi Dianne! Welcome to Talk Back Thursdays, and thank you for agreeing to be a part of this month’s spotlight, Authors in April.

Your book, WE HEAR THE DEAD debuts next month. Tell us about the book.


WE HEAR THE DEAD is a historical fiction novel that retells the true story of Maggie Fox, a young girl who, in 1848, accidentally invented “the séance” and founded spiritualism with a high-spirited prank. Maggie and her younger sister Kate pretended they could speak to the dead. When their older sister realized the money-making potential of the prank, she took custody of the two girls and set them up as spirit mediums. Maggie and Kate became America’s first teenage celebrities – but fame came with a price. The girls were living a lie; they faced accusations of witchcraft, and when Maggie met the love of her life – the heroic and dashing explorer Elisha Kane -- her unconventional occupation stood in the way of their future happiness.

I’m no history buff, so historical fiction seems like a tall order for me. What was your research process like? Did it help that you’re a teacher?


No, it didn’t help. As a full time teacher and also a mother, I couldn’t travel to do any research in person. I read biographies of the Fox sisters and Elisha Kane. Most helpful to me were excerpts from Maggie and Elisha’s love letters. I also read Elisha Kane’s own book, Arctic Explorations, to help me understand him better – his voice, his humor, and his personality. The only “research” I did in person was to visit Elisha’s grave in Philadelphia. I wanted to pay my respects, so to speak, but the visit also helped me write the scene in which Elisha takes Maggie to the Kane family vault as part of a romantic outing. Yeah, that was a 19th century guy’s idea of a date! Go figure!

When did the idea for WE HEAR THE DEAD come to you? Was it influenced by the East Coast preoccupation with witches? What was the biggest challenge you faced in converting it from an idea to a novel?


I was less interested in witches than in séances. I was toying with the idea of writing a YA book about séances, having been inspired by reading the adult book Inamorata by Joseph Gangemi back in 2004. However, when I began my research, I stumbled onto Maggie Fox’s story, which was cited in every book as the starting point of spiritualism. Maggie’s tale began with a ghost story and ended with a love story – and it seemed perfect for adaptation to a novel. The biggest challenge I faced was filling in the gaps of history – understanding the motives for people’s recorded actions and making them believable in my novel.

How did you find your agent and what’s your relationship like?


I don’t have an agent at this point. I’m one of those rare, un-agented authors who stumbled into a publishing deal on her own. Sourcebooks has been wonderful to me – supportive and helpful and encouraging. However, I am beginning to search for an agent now because I realize I need a “minder” – someone to keep me on track, point me in the right direction, help me sort out my priorities, even take me by the shoulders and shake me when it’s necessary! So, that’s the kind of relationship I’d like to have. Here’s hoping he/she is out there!

Any fortune cookie jewels of wisdom for aspiring authors?


Opportunities appear in unexpected places and sometimes the path to success heads in unusual directions before ending up just where you wanted to be all along. Keep writing – and it doesn’t matter whether you are writing stories or poems, blog posts or reviews, or participating in conversations online. Be generous to the universe, and hopefully the universe will pay you back tenfold!

Thank you for joining us this week for Talk Back Thursday. Good luck on the book.

WE HEAR THE DEAD is due for release on May 1, 2010. Get thee to your nearest online book store and pre-order it now!


Take a gander at the book trailer!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fools and laypeople

They always say "Don't argue with fools. A passerby won't be able to tell who's who."

While that may be true, I think there's a better reason not to argue with a fool. You can never win. You see, when a fool is convinced of something, nothin you say will unconvince them.

Sometimes this same thing happens to the layperson. People who are not familiar with the ins and outs of a field, just don't understand why things need to be done a certain way. You might remember I told you about a friend's problem with a friend sabotaging her diet. Her friend didn't get how important it was for her ALWAYS to follow the plan.

It's important for me to publish traditionally. I don't have any standard but my own, and other aspiring writers. My neighbour telling me that I'm good is not quite the same as someone who edits Stephen King telling me. For me, traditional publishing means I AM good enough. Laypeople don't get that.

I know that I am not the self-publishing type. I don't sell well. I feel guilty about saying stuff like "You should spend your money on this thing." If I do ever say that, it's because I really, really, really believe in it. The most I would probably say is, "Look I have a book." And I would end up with only friends, family and a few blog followers buying a copy. Laypeople don't get that.

I don't know why you write. But I know why I do. I'm not in it for the money (clearly- but it would be nice to make some). I write because I have stories to tell. And I have dreams for my stories, as you'd have dreams for a child. I want them to go out into the world and be known. I want people to recommend them to one another. I want people to quote them. I'd love for classes to study them some day. And I would feel like I'd done my job if even one person in the whole world realised something new about life, through reading one of my books. Laypeople don't get that.

I want writer's fame. Where everyone knows your name but they couldn't identify you in a line-up. I want to do Oprah book clubs. I want to cut ribbons on Libraries. I want to present a Literary prize at my MFA Alma Mater (when I have one). Laypeople don't get that.

I'm not against self-publishing, or POD (Print on Demand) or vanity publishing. But they require a plan if you're going to be successful. I want to be successful and I'm not much for plans. I'm more of a "jump and hope I remembered to pack the parachute" type. If it's for you, go for it. If not, don't argue with the laypeople. You can't win. They won't get it.

Interviewee clue: This week's interviewee's debut novel will be released next month.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Crime in the 80's

This week for our Time Travel Tuesday, I'm all about 80's crime shows.

First up, my personal favourite, and the reason I wanted to be a scientist (and conducted fairly ridiculous experiments).

Macgyver- 1985-1992


Hunter was on air from 1984-1991. It was another of my big 4 crime shows. (The other two were Adderley and Sledge Hammer.) Check out Fred Dryer's first pose. 80's tv was so bad! Why do I love it so much?



If you have a problem, if noone else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-team! (83-86)


You know your 80's if you can remember the P.I. brothers, Simon and Simon (81-89). A special perk: 80's Oprah! :)


Magnum P.I- Tom Selleck with a moustache, does it get any badder than this? (80-88)


Third interviewee clue: Historical/Romance

Monday, April 12, 2010

Stickwitu foreva

Nobody gon' love me betta
I'm gon' stick wit u foreva
Nobody gon' take me higha
I'm gon' stick wit u
You know how to 'preciate me
I'm gon' stick wit u my baby
Nobody ever made me feel this way
I'm gon' stick wit u

I know better than to go on about the lyrical or musical value of the Pussycat Dolls, but even a broken clock gotta be right twice a day, yeah?



Today on my mind: commitment.

Commitment is a difficult thing for me. I've heard several theories about why I don't stick with anything. (You know in this day and age, everybody and they sista has a theory about everything.) My personal favourite is Barbara Sher's concept of scanners and divers. (Look it up, it's fascinating!)

Whatever the reason, the fact remains, it seems I am unable to commit to anything in the long term. I'm 28 and I've already sold shoes in a department store, been a co-pilot/translator on a passenger submarine, been a tour guide/interpreter on bus tours, been a teacher of 4 different subjects, been a supervisor in a call centre, and been in the military.

I've done a fairly ridiculous string of training associated with several different fields. And don't even get me started on things I wanted to do, but never pursued...(like the ten minutes when I wanted to be a police officer.)

Yet, despite knowing my aversion to commitment, I've wondered into a field which requires more commitment than maybe any other.

Being a novelist, you see, is a very solitary pursuit. You spend hours upon hours wrapped up in your own little imaginary world. You can have the most supportive family and friends around you, but in the end, you still have to spend a lot of time on your own.

In other professions, there are objective measures of your skill level. As a salesman, you can record the number of sales. As an accountant, you can boast of your perfect record on the audits. As a teacher, you can boast about your students' accomplishments. As an unpublished writer, you have none of the above. And after a while, you being to think your friends and family are just being nice or don't have a clue what it takes in the writing world.

You need commitment to keep going on the days when you feel like you're horrible and must have been crazy to ever have laid eyes on a keyboard, pen, pencil, crayon, X-acto knife...

There are a lot of professions where being average (or even mediocre) is just fine. You don't have to be the best salesman to have a job in sales. You just have to be able to sell. Sometimes, you don't even need that much. But just being able to write will not get you very far as a novelist. To get published (traditional style) you have to be in the top x percentage. And if you want to be a household name, NYT bestseller, winner of any of the top literary prizes, you're looking at the top 1% of the original x percentage.

It takes commitment to keep practising for all those years when you know you're crap, to come to a point where you're half-decent, or maybe even, good.

Even for the best and most accomplished writers, turning out a novel is not a quick process. It's slower than even the other artistic fields. In one day, a painter can finish a painting, a songwriter a song, a coreographer a dance. Show me a novel that was written in a day, and I'll show you fuel for your barbecue grill. Writing a novel can't even be compared to many of the longer processes. Someone might say, it's like building a house on your own- one brick at a time, but it's not. In a house when you slap cement on a brick and lay it down, chances are, that's where that brick will stay. Not so with a novel. It's more like building a lego house. You build it, and you think it's horrible, so you pull it down and start over. Next time around it's not so bad, so you only pull off pieces of it to tweak.

It takes commitment not to throw the towel in after the first draft.

Imagine if you will, an Olympic hopeful (without sponsorship). He's up early so he can train every day, He's got to make up his own diet plans and workouts. He's got to find funding to attend qualifying meets. He's got to keep convincing himself that he's good enough in between meets. AND he's gotta keep going to work, because right now, his athletic pursuits are a pipe dream and that 9 to 5 is paying the bills.

A tall order? PSHAW! Writers do it every day. All day, every day.

Writers NEED to be committed...

to an asylum :S

Second interviewee clue: YA

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Over the Top Soulmates

More awards.

Thanks to Marsha for the Over the Top Award. Lil ol' me? Over the top? Never! lol!

The rules for this award. You're supposed to answer a bunch of questions with one word only. There were 35 of them originally, but I know you guys don't want ot sit through that so I'm doing a miny version with the ten most intersting questions.

1. Your favorite food? steak

2. Your dream last night? marriage

3. Your dream/goal? writer

4. Your hobby? language

5. Your fear? stagnation

6. Where do you want to be in 6 years? comfortable

7. Something that you aren’t? thin

8. Wish list item? house

9. Last time you cried? last week

10. Life? gift

I'm passing this award to E.J and the ladies on the YA Highway

Jon Paul gave me the Soulmates award. For this award, you get to invent a fact about each of the 5 bloggers you pass it on to.


Laura/Elbie
once snuck up on a clown and caused him to faint. To avoid disappointing the kids at a neighbourhood party, she borrowed his nose, and played the part of clown until he came to.
Tawna was once researching whether it is possible to have sex standing on the toilet seat in a bar stall. As she and Pythagaras climbed onto the toilet, it came away from the wall, causing a massive flood. They escaped the scene through the bathroom window.
Amy Holder s the current Chocolate Diving Champion of Pennsylvania. To win this title she dove into 6 feet of chocolates to retrieve a teddy bear, with a time of 15.26 seconds.
Cynthia Reese was going to be a ghost for Halloween. Until she bumped her head while cleaning the kitchen and got a huge bump in the middle of her forehead. She put green makeup on the bump, swapped the white sheet for a black dress, and went as a witch instead.
Moon Rat once tried to break a Guinness World Record by reading a novel every day for the entire month of February. She narrowly missed out, when on the 28th, she forgot she was supposed to be reading and went out for hand-pulled noodles instead.

PS. Apologies for the lack of a Friday blog this week. Fridays are really bad days for me. This Friday was particularly intersting. It ended with a Japanese fireman trying to pick me up in a bar. LITERALLY! End result: both me and Japanese fireman sprawled on floor, as my teaching staff looks on in amusement.

PPS. This week's interviewee clue: female

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Talk Back Thursdays: Kiersten White

Welcome to the first edition of Talk Back Thursdays. I've designated this month "Authors in April" so the first few issues will be with authors.

For the first interview, I present Kiersten White. Also stop by and check out her blog.

______________________________________

Welcome to the first episode of Talk Back Thursdays, and the first edition of Authors in April, Kiersten.Congratulations on your new novel. So you’ve got your first copy of PARANORMALCY in hand. Does it feel real yet?

Every stage feels a little more real than the last! Although I do sometimes forget, and seeing that cover with my name on it is always a happy surprise. It's actually happening! How odd.

Tell us a little about your publishing journey.

I started writing about five years ago, after my first child was born. Initially it was just a hobby, something to pass the time. I didn't get serious about pursuing publication until I started writing YA novels. I wrote the first one of those in June of 2008 and signed with Michelle Wolfson, my agent, that November. I wrote another novel that December, and PARANORMALCY that January. When the first novel didn't sell, I decided Para was the one to pursue and spent several months editing it. Michelle went out with it the end of July, and by mid-August we had a three-book deal with HarperTeen, and my brain exploded with joy.

I don't think my brain has quite recovered yet, in all honesty.

Right now I've turned in the first sequel, am editing a previous project, and drafting an entirely new book that will hopefully turn into something wonderful. I like to keep busy.

From your ravings (and Tawna’s) I deduce that Michelle Wolfson is either a superhero from another planet or an angel. Is it possible to be both? What’s your relationship like?

Michelle is fabulous to work with. She's warm and funny and approachable, but also very aggressive. I never doubt her drive or business savvy, and I know she got me the best possible home for my books. She responds quickly to any and all questions, is always professional, but also delightfully (and occasionally wickedly) funny. I adore her.

You’re a fulltime Mommy and wife. How difficult is it to squeeze in writing? What’s a typical day like in the Kiersten White household?


My days involve feeding kids, dressing kids, feeding kids, re-dressing kids, running errands, feeding kids, and putting kids to bed. And feeding them. So yes, the days are very, very full and it can be hard to get in any writing time. Typically I try to write in the evenings after they go to bed, but anyone who has kids can tell you how frequently bedtime is either challenged or messed up. So, like anyone else, finding the time is always the challenge.



So PARANORMALCY? Interesting name. Tell us about the book.

PARANORMALCY follows Evie, a sixteen-year-old girl working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. In a world surrounded by the paranormal, Evie desperately wants a little normal. But when someone--or something--starts murdering immortal paranormals, she's got to decide which is more important--figuring out how to be normal, or accepting who she is and, you know, saving the paranormal world and stuff.

Evie sounds awesome. Is she a lot like you? What would be Evie’s ideal Saturday night? Does she like mayonnaise on her French Fries? (I mean inquiring minds are dying to know!)

Evie has a similar sense of humor, but that's about it. Evie's ideal Saturday night would be to go on a date with a cute boy and have as normal a teenage experience as possible. So, if she thought putting mayonnaise on french fries was normal no doubt she'd at least try it. But I'm pretty sure that's the strangest thing I've ever heard...

Finally, any advice for those aspiring to get to where you are?

Work. Writing is wonderful and fun and engaging, but if you are determined to get published, you really, truly have to work at it. Hard. A lot. It's gonna take some sacrifices, and a whole lot of drive on your part. So decide whether or not it's what you really, truly want. If it is, full speed ahead!

Thank you Kiersten, for your time. Good luck with the novel.
PARANORMALCY will be out September 21st. Get thee to the store nearest you and pre-order it now!

_______________________________________________

Stay tuned next Thursday for the next installment of Talk Back Thursdays. I hope you enjoyed it!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Garbage in, garbage out!

Calling all writers!!!
Calling all writers!!!

You’ve heard about Atkins. You’ve heard about South Beach. You’ve heard about Jenny Craig.

But there’s never been a diet just for you-

UNTIL NOW!!!

BS Industries presents

------------------------THE MANURE DIET!---------------------

One week on this, and you’ll be oozing crap all over the pages.

Dr. Evan Coli marvels at the Manure Diet! "It's a gastro-enteritical miracle!"

Here’s what the bigwigs have to say!

“I’ve never written crap like this before!” – Maggi Silly Green, author of Good Morning, Spoon.

“I couldn’t believe how Barry Snotter turned out after I started the Manure Diet! It’s crap-tastic!” – J K Boweling, author of the Barry Snotter series.

“I was amazed how fast the crap flowed. Even when I wasn’t writing, I felt like I was filled with crap! It’s like one big crap-athon!” – Rann Brassieres, author of Brotherhood of the Unravelling Pants.

Call us now at 1-800- MANURED!

For 74 easy payments of 2.99, you too can produce your best crap EVER!

1-800-MANURED! Crap like never before!


*Disclaimer- This is a parody. I'm not insinuating anything about anybody's writing. Except maybe my own.

I'm editing the first draft of one of my manuscripts. Just in case you wondered.

Anyway, today's clue for tomorrow's interview:

She's a Paranormal YA author, who's first book will debut on September 21.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Soapsuds (TTT)

Welcome to another Time Travel Tuesday. I'm really excited about this (and upcoming) Tuedays.

You see last week I found this on Suzie (Super-Agent Extraordinaire) Townsend' website. The video is made of pure awesome. Since I'm an 80's child (81 Baby HOORAH!) I totally freaked at the use of the Doogie Howser theme. It sent me scuttling through the annals of youtube looking for others.

So, this whole month, I'll be bringing some of the theme songs that defined my childhood. I hope they bring back memories for you too.

We start of with the Soaps. Obviously, I wasn't really old enough to appreciate soap operas back then. (I wonder if I'm old enough yet-lol.) But the tv was always on, and I remember every second of the themes from these four.

First aired 11 days before my birth, Falcon Crest ran from 1981 to 1990



Dynasty ran from 1981 to 1989. The filthy rich were popular on tv in the 80's. Oh wait, that hasn't changed.



I remember Knot's Landing best, probably because it ran the latest. It was on from 1979 to 1993. It features some faces which should be familiar, like William Devane. This opening is from the 10th season. It's the one I remember best, but it doesn't show Alec Baldwin who came to recognition back in '84 on this show. You'll also notice Desperate Housewives' Nicolette Sheridan.



And last, but definitely not least. The biggest media stir caused by a soap in the 80's. Who shot JR? People you might recongise: Patrick Duffy was in Step by Step and Sheree Wilson was in Walker, Texas Ranger.



Hope you enjoy! :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Same song, different vid

I know I owe you guys a Monday on my mind post. However, this week I've been writing a script, critiquing a novel, critiquing chapters of another novel and rereading a book by the author I'm going to interview. Top that off with the fact that I have severe insomnia- went to bed at 9.27 am on Sunday morning, and so considered it early when I got to bed at 5 am this morning. Even though I had to work this morning. (Drawbacks of living in a non-Christian country- not having holidays when it seems every one else in the world does. But on the upside, I get 3 holidays in a row next month, with another holiday a few days prior. Only in Japan could you have a week of holidays.)

Anyhow, taking all of that into account, my brain is not very functional, right now, and there is pretty close to nothing on my mind.

BUT

I did discover two awesome videos of the same awesome song, so I'm going to share them with you.



And if that video wasn't cool enough, there's also this AWESOMESAUCE one.



And the song is pretty cool too! Hope you enjoyed. (These are the same guys that did the cool treadmill video "Here it goes again". Guess they're just as big for their vids as for their music.)

By the way, this week's writer interview clue: YA (young adult- for you non-author types)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Keep it clean, ladies!

Tawna is having a contest. You can win your own phallus! Check it out!

This Far out Friday post is a little late, but it's not entirely accidental.

I've got a little story to tell you guys. I think I'll tell it impartially first, and then include my feelings. Or maybe not.

On Thursday, there was a knock on the office door. We can count the number of people who come ot our office.

1. Miyuki, a friend in the town hall, who hangs out with the foreigners in our area and sometimes helps up with stuff we can't figure out.

2. Tanaka. We jokingly call him the Loan Shark, because he collects the lunch money for the school lunches.

3. Sugosawa. Our supervisor, who (as far as I recall) has actually been to our office only twice in the two years I've been here. Once because the lock wasn't working and once to bring something over for Stephanie.

4/5/6. The cleaning ladies.

"Hai," I shout.

One of the cleaning ladies opens the door. Caleb (my neighbour and coworker) and I let out the breath we'd been holding. The lady walks around, sweeps and leaves. A while later, there is another knock.

"Hai."

All 3 cleaning ladies come in. Caleb and I exchange a glance.
1. This has never happened.
2. Evil Cleaning Lady has arrived.

We call her Evil Cleaning Lady because she's just awful. Every single time she comes to clean she complains about every single thing. The weirdest part of this is that she never says anything TO us. She just mutters loudly in Japanese to herself.

Evil Cleaning Lady (hereafter referred to as ECL) points to a heater we have in the corner. This is my personal heater, and has been in our office since we used it as a prop for a play. We were picked up by car, from home, the first day we did the play, and we were not taken back by car on the last day. So some of the props are still in the office.

"Stobu," she points and looks at us. (Stobu is Japanese for heater)
We nod. "Hai."

"Stobu," she says again.

She and her two minions - she seems to be some kind of supervisor, because she wears something different from the other two, and acts supervisor-y - head over to our sink. There are some used teabags in it.

"It stinks," ECL says to noone in particular. She grumbles for awhile, but I stop listening and go back to what I was doing. If she's hellbent on talking to noone, I'm hellbent on noone listening.

Caleb gets up and explains the teabags are draining. She says something about them stinking and that we should put them in the garbage. She tries to turn on the sink. Caleb explains that it's off and it has always been off because it leaks.

She then picks up two cans on my desk, that I drank out of during lunch and says I should throw them away. She walks around the room picking up random things- like a plastic frog- and shaking them at us.

She heads back to the door and points at the heater again.

"Stobu"
I nodd.

She picks up something off the desk by the door and waves it as again. Then, she pretty much throws up her hands in disgust, and says something like, "What's the use, they don't speak Japanese. Argh! They're just like children." Then she says somethin about the Board of Education, that neither Caleb or I catch, (they're our actual employers) so we wonder if she's going to tell our boss our something.

Caleb and I are staring at one another like, did she just say that?

"Stobu" she points one last time

Then she and her minions leave.

Caleb and I were fairly pissed for the rest of the afternoon. We were in shock about the level she'd escalated to. Japanese have a very strict honour system. Noone ever says anything bad of anyone to their face. In fact they compliment you on everything. You say "konnichiwa" (hello) and they ooze on and on about how fantastic your Japanese is. Only when you do something terribly wrong does anyone say anything and even then, that person has to be miles above you on the food chain. On YOUR food chain. For example, if a bunch of kids behave badly in the supermarket, the owner will call the school and the teachers will go off on the kids. The owner will not take it upon himself to say a word to the kids. That's just how it goes.

After I got over the shock, I got mad. I felt like finding them and shrieking:

1. You are the CLEANING LADIES and you don't clean. You only ever sweep- once a week if we're lucky.

2. We have no access to any cleaning materials, so it's not like we can do it ourselves.

3. You don't give us garbage bags, we bring our own from home. Do not presume to tell me what the hell to put in the garbage bag that I brought in here from home. Who has to bring garbage bags to work?

4. Every other Japanese office dries their tea in the sink. The only differnce is that they are provided with a little strainer to put them in. So don't complain to me for doing the same thing every other person is doing, in the 3 buildings YOU clean.

5. This room has 20 years of crap in it. Japan has 16 years of trash categories. People who don't read Japanese and who didn't grow up with it, have trouble figuring it out, which means, a lot of the time, stuff gets stashed, instead of thrown away. So, no ECL, I don't know why there's a taxidermied squirrel in here. I found it here and I'm going to leave it here.

6. Lastly, I don't really care! Maybe I might care if my office was an actual office, not a closet inside a closet. (I kid you not, we walk through a storage room to get to our office). Maybe I might care if my school didn't do emergency drills and declare everyone accounted for, when I'm sitting in the staff room none the wiser. (I figure that If there was an earthquake at my Friday shcool, I could be dead til Monday, before anyone even knew I was missing.)

There's a pink elephant in the room and I've been tiptoe-ing all around it, bloggy buddies. Here's the startling truth.

Japan does not like foreigners.

Sure, Tokyo and Osaka are full of them and they deal with them. But the system purposely makes life hard for foreigners. Harder than it is for legal immigrants/ foreign workers in most of the world. (My friend who has one Japanese parent, wou;d have to go back to school, take a test and live here for about 10 years to gain citizenship- and he's HALF-JAPANESE!)

Often, the best foreigners can hope for is indifference. But some people are just downright mean.

Some days, it's hard to be here. Even at the best of times, you're that person that everybody loves to say they know, but nobody actually wants to be friends with. Like a crazy celebrity or something.

We're really lucky, when it comes to our town. We don't generally have to deal with people being mean- even though noone wants to sit next to us on the train. Still, sometimes, Japan must be Japan.

On a brighter not, here's Iwate Swan 8.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lies-es and Suprises

Hey my lovelies,

Lots to tell you today, but first check out Tawna's post on how inappropriate jokes cause leather balls. :)

Okay, back to the regularly scheduled madness. Last week, you were supposed to try to pick the truth from a pool of lies. Here, finally are the answers.

I've eaten deer, rabbit, crocodile, snail, horse, ostrich and kangaroo.
FALSE. Last summer, as a part of my VOCK'd up weekend, I had Venison (deer), Ostrich, Crocodile and Kangaroo. I first had rabbit and horse in Colombia in 2005, and I've also had horse here in Japan. As a young impressionable school exchange student (15-ish) in Martinique, I refused to eat snail on principal, but I still ended up eating conch and sparrow.

I narrowly escaped arrest in Colombia.
FALSE. In Colombia, all males have a mandatory military service. I think you can get out of it if you go to university, etc. When you've done your service or been exempted, you get a document to say this. You're supposed to walk with that document at all times or, if you're a tourist, you have to keep your passport on you. One day, 2 of the guys from my group forgot their passports and were taken into custody. 2 girls had to race back to the hotel to get their passports before they got shipped off to fight the cartel or something.

While I was in secondary school I played netball.
FALSE. I despise netball. It's like basketball in stopmotion. EW! When I was in school, I played one of the greatest tomboy sports ever invented- field hockey. GRRR!

I met George W. Bush while training in the US Coast Guard.
FALSE. I met George Bush Sr. He came to the academy to do a lecture (which included a hilarious diatribe about broccoli- lol). I was walking across the campus when I heard a gun salute. I was stuck there, cuz you can't move during the salute. Then a train of SUV's pulled up. A bunch black, one maroon. SS guys hopped out, and he got out of one of the black ones. He nodded at me! Also in my CG days, I met Maya Angelou, Robert Ballard (who found the Titanic), Sugar Ray ( the band not the boxer- on a red eye to Miami) and narrowly avoided meeting Mark Curry in Colorado. Plus various important-y military types.

I have never been to a music festival.
FALSE. I went to Summer Sonic in Osaka last year. 3 days- 300 bucks- Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Keane, Ne-yo, Nine Inch Nails, Elvis Costello, Joan Jett, The Tings Tings, Solange, Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, All American Rejects... I was HAPPY :) And I discovered that, I as a black person, CAN sunburn.

I have never broken a bone, but I did sprain my wrist once.
FALSE. No broken bones- no sprains either.

I have been to 15 US states.
TRUE. That's training in the military for you. During my time at the United States Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut, I visited 11 states, and 4 I got to on my own over the years. I've never been on the West Coast of the US though.

Noone guessed correctly. Truth is more boring than fiction sometimes.
-----------------------------

Now for the Surprises!

As I told you guys, I'm all excited for April, so I decided to do some special stuff.

1. I'm going to have my first contest at the end of the month. The prize is going to be a supercool Super Japanese prize, so stay tuned.

2. Also, I'm introducing Talk Back Thursdays- a new interview feature on the blog.

3. I'm declaring April: Authors in April ( you know I love alliteration- although this is technically assonance) and I'm bringing you interviews with some amazing authors. I've currently secured two authors whose debuts come out later this year, and one New York Times Bestselling Author! (I was so psyched about these interviews that I couldn't sleep til 4 am last night:S)

Every week, I'll give you hints about the author to be interviewed, and I'll reveal the name on Wednesday. Remember the interviews go up on Thursdays.

Welcome to the beauty that is April folks. I really hope you enjoy!

Next week's author: female...

Surprises in April!!!

Hello my pretties!

I'm PSYCHED!

April is Awesomesauce! And since I just love April (for no particular reason other than we're due to have our first 16 degrees Celcius this weekend) I've decided to pass my happiness along.

All will be revealed tomorrow. Except it's ready tomorrow in Japan- lol. And I have no intention of revealing all...

Some shall be revealed tomorrow EST!