SECRET KEEPING SAKURA Now Available!

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SECRET KEEPING SAKURA Now Available!

The emails went out about this title this morning so I get to announce it on the blog today! I have a new release! It’s the fifth and final short story in the Kami No Sekai series, SECRET KEEPING SAKURA. I wrote it this summer as I was getting back on the writing wagon, and it was the perfect story to get me back in the swing of things. About a year ago, I asked my Facebook audience, “If you could talk to any inanimate object, which would you choose?” And many chose to talk to trees. I think trees have a special place in our hearts as humans. We take shelter under them. We hear their leaves rustle in the wind. We admire them as they flower, grow green leaves, and turn those leaves brilliant colors in the fall. Plus there are so many different kinds of trees! Palm trees don’t change color in the fall and only grow in warm climates. Some trees grow fruits and others do not. Trees are almost as diverse as humans, when you think about it.

Anyway, so I knew I would choose a tree for the final story of the series, and what better tree than the favorite of pretty much all Japanese people, the cherry tree or sakura. I thought about all the things a tree would see in its lifetime, all the secrets it could keep, and I came up with my story pretty quickly. I wrote most of the story poolside this summer on my trusty Alphasmart 3000.

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I need to get back to writing on that. It really got rid of distractions.

So today, this bittersweet and hopeful short story is ready for you! BUT WAIT! I need to tell you a secret. If you sign-up for my newsletter, you can get the whole Kami No Sekai for free. Yep. I’m giving it away to my list. So you have two choices when it comes to getting this story. You can either buy it online for 99¢ or you can sign up for my newsletter and get it for free.

Sign up for my newsletter now!

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VIGILANTE SLIMMING SCANNER Is Now Available!

I have a new release! VIGILANTE SLIMMING SCANNER is now available, and I hope you enjoy reading this one as much as I enjoyed writing it. This is the fourth story in the Kami No Sekai series and I suspect there’ll be two more after this before I stop writing in this world.

This is the story of Toro, who is out of shape, a bit lazy, and doesn’t take care of himself, but should. He just wants a snack, some chips and something sweet, from the convenience store when suddenly the store scanners have had enough and deny him. I believe I got this idea while standing in line at the self-checkout one day, listening to the crisp voice of the terminal declaring, “1 package, Club Crackers.” Lol. But I also wanted to write about fitness, healthy eating, and exercise (all things I’m into) in a way that wasn’t too preachy. Toro needs to take better care of himself for a reason and the scanners decide that being abrupt and cutting him off cold turkey is the best way to go.

Want to find out what happens next? Pick up VIGILANTE SLIMMING SCANNER today for only 99¢!

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How Do You Design Your Covers?

In my last newsletter, I asked for people to hit reply and ask me anything. I would post answers to their questions here on the blog and back in the next newsletter as well. Aren’t subscribed to my newsletter? You can sign-up here!

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Lola asks me, “How do you design your covers? How do you decide on the cover design? And where do you get the idea?”

So, some people may not know this but I have designed most of my covers until recently. In fact, I’ve designed all of my covers on my own, excepting FACE TIME‘s first iteration, which was designed by Carrie Butler at Forward Authority. Previous to becoming a full-time author, I worked at HBO.com and before that I worked at a few other web design companies. I’ve used Photoshop since 1998, back when it was Photoshop 2.0 and you couldn’t even move layers around! Yeah, I’m old.

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Anyway, I have pretty good Photoshop skills so I figured I would design my own covers. My first few covers were pretty bad, but I got better with The Nogiku Series and did well with FACE TIME and SUMMER HAIKUS. But it turns out that I would rather have the more intricate covers for my contemporary romances and science fiction series done by a professional, so I have also hired a cover designer, Najla Qamber, to handle both of those. She’s awesome! She designed the current covers for both FACE TIME and SUMMER HAIKUS, and she’s working on new covers for The Nogiku Series.

But the simpler covers for my cozy mystery and short stories, I have no problem with designing!

For the Miso Cozy Mysteries series, I did a lot of research on what works well in cozy mysteries before I started designing. I looked at hundreds of covers and found that the majority of them used illustrations for their designs. So I then brainstormed about what I’d do for a Japanese cozy mystery. I searched for illustrations of Japanese women and came away disappointed. Many were too stereotypical (wrongly drawn kimonos and chopsticks in their hair. NO.) and others were too sexualized. I had to change my searching. I went with Japanese scenery and found the flat illustrations that you now see in the first two covers of the series. I combined the scenery with a grassy field and silhouette of a woman, instead of a full-on illustration of a face and body. This felt more authentic to me.

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For my short stories, since each is about a different object and the god contained within them, I choose a singular image for the cover. The fonts were fun to pick as well. The yellow text, stroked with black, is a deliberate choice as yellow text on covers catches the eye and pulls people in. I usually spend a lot of time searching for the perfect image for these covers. If I can’t find one, I take one myself! This rice cooker on RICE COOKER REVENGE‘s cover is my very own (I treat it very well, thank you).

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When I’m deciding on a cover design for a book, I spend a lot of time looking at similar books in the same genre. Sometimes, I look at hundreds of covers! My eyes blur and my head swims. It’s a lot of research. I surf through the best sellers on Amazon and look at the top picks on Kobo as well. Once I have an idea of what works in a genre (objects or couples in romance or space, stars, and spaceships in science fiction), I make an inspiration board on Pinterest. I will spend a lot of time searching images on DepositPhotos and Creative Market until I have a jumping off point and then I go from there. Once I have some good examples of my direction, I then take my covers to my private Facebook group and ask for feedback. My good pals are very helpful and usually jump in to tell me what’s working and what’s not.

I will say that it has been nice to hand off some of this work to Najla. I already do a lot to make my books become a reality, and not having to make ALL the covers is a significant load off my shoulders. But the ones I do design are a lot of fun for me!

Thanks for asking this question, Lola!

If you have a question for me, too, leave it in the comments or feel free to send me a note via the Contact page.

RICE COOKER REVENGE Is Free Through February 12!

Quick blog post today to let you know that RICE COOKER REVENGE is free on Amazon through Friday, February 12! I decided to make it free to celebrate upcoming Valentine’s Day and a Facebook hop going on right now. So, first download RICE COOKER REVENGE if you don’t have it already.

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On Kindle and Kindle Unlimited
Don’t have a Kindle? Learn about my ePub Exchange Program.

And then hop on over to Facebook and participate in the Page Curl Publishing Valentine’s Day Hop! Want to win a signed paperback copy of SUMMER HAIKUS plus some other cool Japanese items?

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Drop by my Facebook page and participate in Pagecurl.net’s Valentine’s Day Hop! All you have to do to enter is to comment on the FB post about your favorite dessert. I’ll be choosing winners on February 17th and you could be one of them! (US Residents only!)

>>VISIT MY FACEBOOK PAGE TO ENTER!!<<

Good luck!

It’s My Birthday! So Have This For Free…

OH MY GOD I’M 40 YEARS OLD!! How the heck did that happen?

I’m happy to report that this year everyone in my household is well for my birthday. Last year, my husband was struck down over my birthday weekend with a horrible stomach virus and we did nothing. This year, though, we got lucky! On Saturday, we went out for a fancy dinner at a restaurant that has a beautiful view of the city, then we went out for drinks before heading home. It was nice to get out and have a babysitter.

Today, the kids have the day off from school since it’s MLK Day, and we’re going to take it easy.

In honor of my birthday, I’m giving away MAMACHARI MATCHMAKER for the next 5 days! (January 18-22) You can download it from Amazon and enjoy this sweet, short story for free! It’s my way of saying thanks for sticking around and continuing to read my stuff. I appreciate every single one of you. And now I’m off to enjoy my birthday!

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On Kindle and Kindle Unlimited
Don’t have a Kindle? Learn about my ePub Exchange Program.

Writing Update – August 26, 2015

It’s been a long time since I’ve done just a writing update on the blog, so I thought I’d pop in and give one now. I don’t have any other content for the blog right now. Summer is winding-down and I’m trying to enjoy every last possible moment. I’m reading but haven’t finished anything lately. In fact, I just started a beta read which means it’s slowing down my other reading. Lol. So let’s talk about writing.

11312562_1787620798131049_2128795835_nI HAVE BEEN WRITING! Not a lot. Like I said, I’m trying to enjoy summer, so I’m only writing about 800-1000 words per day. Some days more. Some days less. But I’ve been working on another Kami No Sekai short story and it’s almost done! I have one last scene plotted out that I hope to write today, and then I plan on setting it aside for a while.

I like this story a lot. This time the gods in a network of inanimate objects have intervened in a man’s life to help him before he kills himself with all his poor eating choices. Lol. It’s funny and a little sad at the same time, with a good HEA ending. I think it may be missing something though. I won’t know for sure until I get a little distance from it. It’s possible I’m just kind of sick of how slow I’m writing it, and when I pick it back up again, I’ll love it and think it’s awesome.

My plan is to set this story aside for the month of September. I’ll let it sit and then hopefully read it again, make some adjustments, send it out to readers, and get it ready for publishing in late October.

What will I be working on in September? I’m glad you asked! I’ll be working on REVEALED. Remember that? It’s the novella I released in the form of some short stories last year. I’m ready to jump back into the Nogiku world and finish up this novella for everyone. I really enjoy being in that world, enough that I’m thinking about another series in that world with Sanaa’s children and a Mark Sakai prequel. Going back there will be fun! I’d like to finish up REVEALED and get it out to you all in November, before Thanksgiving.

And that will probably be all the publishing from me this year. It feels crazy to have the rest of my year planned out! It’s only August! During October, November, and December, I plan to write a totally new novel but I’m wavering on which novel I want to start. Right now, I’m leaning towards a novel in a brand-new genre. I have a lot of ideas for this novel already and I think I’d like to give it a go, especially since I have no obligations to any other series right now. It’s exciting!

Late next week, my kids start school again, and my days from 8:30 to 2:30 will be free again. I plan to write and exercise a whole lot. My goal is to work as much during the day as possible and save any house cleaning or non-writing-related work for the afternoons when the kids are home. I can’t wait!

WASHING STATUE WANDERLUST is FREE Aug 19-21!

Quick post today to let you know that I’ve made WASHING STATUE WANDERLUST free for today, tomorrow, and Friday! If you’ve been thinking about trying out this quirky, fun, and slightly surreal series, pick this short story up for free and spend an hour or two with Yuki and Arai Kannon.

The reviews for WASHING STATUE WANDERLUST are all pretty positive.

“Another fun book in this series and I am already eager for the next book. These books are so fun, they are a quick read, but still long enough to tell a story. I liked the characters in this book and could relate to them. There’s even some character development going on which was nice to see. There is some information about the world building added, but in a really low key way that fits the story.”

“This was another delightful story in the Kami no Sekai series. Wanderlust is a relatable thing, because who hasn’t wanted to travel all over the world? Having Yuki have to contend with her health gave the story a real-life feel, even though she was interacting with a statue. I highly recommend this story, and this series if you haven’t checked it out. It’s fun, it’s quirky, and even thought-provoking.”

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Download for FREE Aug 19, 20, and 21, 2015.
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On Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

I hope you enjoy it!

Why I’m Moving My Books to Amazon Exclusively

There’s been a lot of soul searching around Pajonas No Uchi lately when it comes to my writing career. I’ve thought a lot about what I want to write, where I want to take my career, and how I want to reach my goals. Today, I’m announcing my biggest, most drastic move yet.

You see, I have spent the last 2 to 3 years listening to the vanguards of self-publishing and all their varied advice, and I have been trying to apply that advice to my own career. People said, “Do cover reveals and release day blasts! Do a blog tour! Have a street team! Release your book at 99¢! Sell your book everywhere, don’t put your eggs in one basket!” And I listened to all of this advice because I saw it working for those people with my own eyes. But guess what? None of those things actually worked for me, excepting maybe the blog tour but that was a long time ago and I don’t see them working as much now. I’ve gone through everything on every list of THINGS TO DO IF YOU SELF-PUBLISH, and I have had very little luck.

This, though, is not a woe-is-me post because, if you know me, you know I don’t give up that easily. Lol. I consider each of these failures an experiment, a piece of data. I add that data to my spreadsheet and look heavily at what I have tried and what I haven’t, deciding on what to try next or tweak to get better results. This is only the beginning of my journey as an author, but that doesn’t mean I should sit back and not try to improve my situation.

The last thing on the list, “Sell your book everywhere, don’t put your eggs in one basket!” is the one I have held out the longest with. I really believed that if I just gave it time, if I made sure to promote my work on other vendors than Amazon, I would see success. I made sure I have a permafree book, the first in a series, on all platforms with a substantial series to follow it up. I have made product funnels. I have even made targeted ads for those vendors. And nothing.

I’m coming up on my two year anniversary as a published author and I just don’t have an audience anywhere else but Amazon. The last book I published, SUMMER HAIKUS, only sold ONE book outside of Amazon. At best, I make $12/month between ALL of my non-Amazon books (that’s approximately $3 per vendor). Looking back at my spreadsheet for 2014 and 2015, there are many months I didn’t sell anything at all outside of Amazon.

It’s time to make a change.

As of the time you read this, FACE TIME and SUMMER HAIKUS, along with all the Kami No Sekai short stories, are on Amazon only for Kindle and in Kindle Unlimited. For those uninitiated, if an author wants to take part in the Kindle Unlimited program, they have to enroll their books in KDP Select, and that means the books need to be exclusive to Amazon and nowhere else. By the time I write my anniversary post on September 15th, all my books but REMOVED (which will be free everywhere for the foreseeable future) will be on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. If you’re a Kindle Unlimited user, please download and enjoy them. I do get paid when you read them!

I’m giving Kindle Unlimited 6 to 9 months to show me what it’s made of before I decide what to do. I’d like to just stay there indefinitely since, currently, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks give me no reason to come back. Barnes & Noble just killed off its international business a few weeks ago and makes it harder and harder for Nook users to read content they bought. Kobo’s search is useless and discoverability there is next to nothing. And iBooks is Mac and application only (they have no web store plus they use DRM). I love Macs but come on! I also don’t like Google Play and their strange discounting and the fact that new authors haven’t been able to open new accounts there for the last few months. They shut it down because of pirates. That certainly instills a low level of confidence.

Now if you were the 2% of my readers that did find me on a vendor other than Amazon, I have ways for you to still read my books if you want to.

• You can purchase a paperback through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, or Book Depository.

• You can buy my books on Amazon and read them in the Kindle app on your phone, tablet, or computer.

• Or you can purchase the Kindle version, send me your receipt, and I will give you a DRM-free ePub in exchange.

Send your Amazon receipt to ePub-exchange < at > spajonas < dot > com with the subject EPUB EXCHANGE, and I will send you a DRM-free ePub as soon as possible! Here’s the ePub Exchange page for future reference.

If you have an ethical reason for not shopping at Amazon, I’m sorry I can’t help you. Publishing is a business and I’m doing my best to run my business without going into debt. If you’re mega disappointed in this announcement, you can feel free to tell me in the comments, email, or use the contact form. I will take your comments to heart when it comes time to re-evaluate in 6 to 9 months. But I’m confident that this is a good decision for me and my business, and I thank you for your understanding. Sign up for my newsletter to get more news of this move now and into the future!

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