Sunday Update – October 16, 2016

Sunday Update – October 16, 2016

It’s Sunday Update time! The posts my oldest daughter loves so much. Lol. She told me that last night, and I had to remind her that mommy uses adult language on the blog. She said, “Yes, I know.” 🙂 Lol. All right, moving on.

This was another week of disruptions due to the school schedule. Monday was Columbus Day, a holiday I still don’t understand why we celebrate. In Japan, Monday was also a national holiday, but it was Sports And Fitness Day, a holiday I can totally get behind. I’d rather celebrate that. Anyway, the kids had a half day on Monday, so we had lunch together at home and then went grocery shopping. I tried to get as much done at home beforehand, including a walk in the park, and I think I accomplished that.

Tuesday, the kids had a full day of school so I really got to work. I did two walking and working sessions at my treadmill desk for almost 4 miles. Then we picked up veggies from the CSA and my oldest had a Girl Scout meeting in the evening.

Wednesday, the kids had off for Yom Kippur. We waited until the cleaning ladies showed up then we went to Costco. I only shop at Costco 3 times per year (sometimes 4) so by the time we made it to the checkout, our cart was overflowing. The kids each got some new books and a new robe, and we stocked up on everything we were running out of.

Thursday, I went to the gym and took care of other work stuff before and after. Friday, I walked 5.5 miles between the two trips to school and the sessions at the treadmill desk.

Yesterday, Saturday, I went for a walk in the morning and in the afternoon we went apple picking. Apple picking wasn’t as great as I thought it would be, due to a winding drive that made me nauseous and an almost car accident because I didn’t understand how the intersection worked at the orchard (one side has a blinking red light and the others have a regular light). But we did make it home in one piece and with two bushels on apples! This afternoon I plan to make a batch of apple sauce for oatmeal and to peel and freeze other apples for apple crisps!

In work news, I launched SECRET KEEPING SAKURA, the last short story in the Kami No Sekai series, bundled all the Kami No Sekai stories in an omnibus, and then gave them away to my newsletter. If you want the omnibus, you can subscribe to my newsletter and get that too! I find it very surprising that I give it away to my newsletter list, yet only about 1/3 of the people on my list downloaded it. I also mentioned in my newsletter that I would rather give them away because most people buy the short stories on Amazon and then return them. And then someone went and did just that! They’re probably not on my list, but there’s information inside SECRET KEEPING SAKURA that they can get the whole series for free via my newsletter. Sigh. Anyway, the joys of being a published author, right?

In writing news, I have picked up steam on Daydreamer 3 and I’m now over 62,000 words! I can feel I’m near the end and life is getting really complicated for Mei. I’m doing mean things to her in this book, but it will definitely have a happy ending and she’ll go into the rest of the series confident and ready to conquer the world. This is her real “trial by fire” book, the turning point for the whole series. I can’t wait to be done with it!

What else happened this week?

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It’s leggings season again! I’m not that happy about this due to the fact that it’s cold outside and I already miss summer. But I do love my leggings.

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Costco had these adorable crochet kits!

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I’m helping to teach my daughter how to play flute. Here she is with my pink ABS plastic flute. It has a good sound, but her metal flute came in on Friday.

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We went out for ice cream on Friday after school and while we were sitting outside eating it, a fox crossed the street right in front of us! It was a beautiful red fox. I was so happy to see it.

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This New Yorker cover spoke to me. Lol.

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And I voted by mail! We’ll be gone on Election Day so I wanted to vote by absentee ballot. I’m glad that I’ve already made my pick and now I can COMPLETELY ignore all politics. I’m so done with the election in the U.S. DONE.

This week on the blog: another Japan post and that’s all I’m promising. I really need to get Daydreamer 3 done, and so I’m going to concentrate on that. I have a deadline, so I have to meet it!

Have a great week everyone!

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!

• • • •

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!

Sunday Update – January 31, 2016

I almost forgot about my Sunday update! It’s been a busy morning, and I just sat down to get to work on my cozy mystery and realized I hadn’t written a post yet!

Well, it was a busy week around here too. I finished up my next Kami No Sekai Short Story and am getting it ready to publish at the beginning of March. I spent the week securing a bunch of promotional items for February and getting my tax information together. And starting yesterday, I began edits on my first cozy mystery! I want to get as much done as possible before mid-February because that’s when we go on vacation. So far, edits are going well. My writing is a little more sparse and less emotion-heavy in these books, and I like it that way. I think it lends well to the genre.

I did feel more depressed than usual this week though, mostly because I was looking at my sales numbers for last year as I was gathering my tax information, and the numbers were not that great. It led me into a bit of a downward spiral that took several days to snap out of. I’m feeling better now, though, and I hope I can go into next week more secure and less sad. I think that being back in my cozy mystery world is helping me perk up quite a bit. I do love it a lot. Plus, I’ve been concentrating on a new cover for FACE TIME and brainstorming new ideas for covers for the whole Nogiku series. I think I’ll have those ready by summer!

What else happened around here?

So. Much. Snow.

We began last week by digging out of a giant blizzard.

Lunch today is courtesy of Tasty. And it is quite tasty! #365days #ig2016 #dailyphoto #tasty #buzzfeedtasty

I tried out a new peanut noodle salad recipe that was quite TASTY. Lol.

Time to workout and watch The Expanse! Hoping to kick this depression I've fallen into this week. #dailyphoto #ig2016 #365days #exercise #exercisebenefits

I tried to focus on exercising when my mood was low. Here, I was working out and watching THE EXPANSE, which I really love. This is great scifi! I just downloaded the first book of the series from Audible and I hope to start it next.

The snow made the bright and sunny day EXTRA bright for my walk. It was nice to get out! #dailyphoto #ig2016 #365days

This weekend has been sunny so I made it out of the house both days for walks around the park!

This week I hope to have a new post on Dictation Brain Hacks! Gonna be fun!

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 – January 8, 2016

Okay, let’s do a writing update. I’ve been making a lot of progress on my current novels, and now that it’s 2016, it’s time for me to set my publishing dates for the year. As some of you know, because you been following my blog for a while, I’ve been working on a cozy mystery series. Between October and the end of November, I wrote the first book in the series. I took a week off and then got started in the second book of the series right at the beginning of December.

Just yesterday, I crossed the 70,000 word mark on book two of the series! I’m in the home stretch, only another 5000 to 6000 more words to write. In fact, I think I only have three more scenes to write, so I will come in just under 80,000 words for this novel. It’s been a long road, especially keeping my word counts up during the holidays. It’s not easy to write when everybody is home in my house, and I struggled with getting the words in everyday. Many days I plain did not write, but that never lasted more than 24 hours. Now, I’m right on track to finish before my birthday on January 18th (I may even finish this weekend!)

There's a little hint here at the subtitle of this series!!

There’s a little hint here at the subtitle of this series!!

I really love the series so far. My main character, Mei, is a joy to write. She’s a bit down on her luck, and she has a hard time accepting when things actually go her way (she denies it to the sky and back). She’s sweet and kind and cares about her family and friends, but she’s also very complex, willing to lie or suppress the truth if it helps others or gets her into situations where she can find clues to who the murderer is. She’s a good actor. Lol. I’m really enjoying writing her. Plus, there are a lot of great side characters in these books, best friends, friends of Mei’s mother, and, of course, a love interest with a very public past. Mei contrasts really well with the love interest. He’s a successful guy who’s fought hard for everything he’s earned, and she’s been anything but successful. I like to see the way they interact. She challenges him and he challenges her. They’re a lot fun.

According to my schedule I can take a week off when I’m done writing this book. Then I need to quickly edit the last short story I wrote (which was forever ago). This is another Kami No Sekai short story that had a great idea, but was missing something. I talked it over with my critique partner, Tracy, and we figured out the missing piece, so now I have to fix it. I then need to plot the novella that I plan to publish in December. This novella is part of a huge scifi shared-world series. Lots of authors are participating and writing their own stories within one shared world. It’s really fun, and will be a one-off, so I’m excited to see where it takes me. We’ll see if I get around the actual plotting though, because January and February are not usually my most productive months. I’d like to at least have a solid idea of what to write before I start edits on the first cozy mystery.

Working while KP plays Star Wars. #amwriting #dailyphoto #365days #ig2015

Working almost every evening while my husband plays PS4 and the kids are in bed.

Also, I plan to reveal the covers and titles for book 1 and 2 of the cozy mystery series before the end of January, but I won’t put up the preorder for the first book until late February. The covers are a flat illustration style using sillouhettes for my main character. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a good illustration of a Japanese woman without the clothes being all wrong (usually Chinese) and not overly sexualized? VERY HARD. If the novels do well, I may get custom illustrations done in the future, but right now, I like what I have going, and I need to save money in the first part of this year. I’m aiming to publish the first book in April, publish the next short story in June, and publish the second cozy mystery in July. After that my schedule is a little hazy, assuming I get everything done.

I have a lot of work ahead of me. I decided to write the cozy mystery series in present tense for the first draft and then revise it to past tense in the second draft. This means I’ll do at least three drafts for every book. Which is good, I suppose, but it makes for a shorter reading time for my critique partner and beta readers. If only I could write the books in past tense the first time, but that’s proving to be very hard for me. What can I do? Maybe with time I’ll be able to change that.

So that’s what’s going on with me and my writing! I have more words to write today and over the weekend. And you have plenty more books to look forward to! 🙂 See you all soon!

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