Thursday, December 29, 2016

What to Get Your Writer: REAL Gifts Writers Will LOVE

Once you start to get known as a writer, you'll get on a bunch of lists, willy-nilly.  At this time of year, ALL of those mailing lists and every ad on your social media will send you suggestions of Things To Get Your Writer.

Almost all of these are wasted on me.  I don't need a costume.  I don't wear T-shirts.  I HAVE ballpoint pens.  I don't use notebooks, especially not cutesy touchy feely fill in the blank ones.  Sticky "inspirational" notes for my computer?  Just, no.  Pins for my jacket?  I don't think so.  Gift cards for Starbucks?  I don't like coffee and I couldn't possibly write there.  Where's my huge desktop computer?  My comfortable chair?  My lake view?

Here's what you can give your writer that she or he will appreciate and use.  They're all based on one simple notion:  what a writer needs most is TIME TO WRITE.  Among other things, we Buddhists clean our houses for New Year's, symbolizing and giving a fresh start.  This means REALLY clean, not just the regular weekly routine.  I'd feel wrong if I didn't do it or have it done, and this year there is nobody but me to do it.  Yet, I'm writing well and fast right now in first-draft (the hardest) mode and I don't want a single second away from my computer and research materials.  I need to plan it out, then write it down.  What do I need?  I need TIME.  Give your writer some TIME.  Here are some ways to do that, and only a couple of them cost money.

1.  Housekeeping service.  Hire somebody to dig out your writer's den every other week -- they don't come weekly anymore -- for a period of time.  Forever would be good.  While the cleaner is there, the writer can research, run to the library or bookstore, or (if there's a closing door) actually write while the rest of the house and the laundry get spiffed, and move to another room when it's time for the Writing Room to get cleaned.  Or you set a regular time when YOU do it.  That costs you nothing.  Regular times are important.  Just trust me on this.  It's no help at all if your writer can't count on things getting done as if by magic.

2.  Do the dishes and fluff the house every single night.  If YOU do the dinner-dishes thing every night and a little house fluffing, your writer can dive into the computer and get that scene down.  This is a great gift for a writer with a day job.

3.  Take care of the children.  This is also great if your writer has a day job.  Make regular plans for YOU to do the homework-bath-story-bed routine every night.  Couple that with the dishes and fluff routine and your writer now has two or three hours every single night to devote to her or his craft, and still enough time to kiss the kids goodnight and spend some quality time with you.

4.  Yard and garden.  Yep, if you take care of those, or pay someone else to do it, your writer can do something else, like write.

5.  Run the errands.  Pick up the children, take them to practices and games, get the things on the list from the grocery store or hardware store or cleaners.  Great for non-custodial parents, grandparents and others who live nearby and want to nurture their relationships with the kids.  No kids? Running errands and shopping for your writer when you do your own is a fantastic gift.

6.  Set aside regular times to amuse yourself (and children, if any).  In return, ask your writer to set aside time for you and the family (if any) to go do fun things.  Some times the writer will be on a roll and won't have a spare second.  When a draft is resting or in publishing production, or a writer is between books, she or he will want to do other things and have more time to do them.  Recognize the patterns of a working writer and go with them.  This is a mutual gift.  Scheduling quality time makes it happen.

7.  A couple of the "List" ideas are good, but cost.  A gift card to an on-line or physical bookstore or a specialty library membership allows your writer to get exactly what she or he wants and needs.  An all-expense paid trip to a conference relevant to the writer would be great.  A class your writer wants to attend would be appreciated.  All of these depend on what your writer wants.  Ask your writer before buying books, booking conferences or enrolling them in classes.  A "Write Your Memoir" class at the local Senior Center or Community College might be perfect for someone who wants to get started on a memoir, giving motivation and structure.  The Romance in the Moors Conference would be fabulous for someone who writes historical romances.  Those wouldn't work at all for somebody three books into a dark dystopian future series.  Ask your writer first.

8.  If your writer doesn't have a dedicated writing area, give her or him one.  Spend a little time selecting a location, setting it up and keeping it sacrosanct.  Space in the physical sense is also an excellent gift.

9.  If your writer is published, BUY THE BOOKS.  Give them to people.  Donate them to toy drives, schools and libraries, as appropriate.  WRITE THOSE REVIEWS.  They mean a lot, and few people, even those who love the books, actually do it.

Your writer will love you, and I promise she or he will show it.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Too beautiful for words

If a child you know got a tablet as a gift, make it ultra-special with the addition of The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy THREE BOOK BOX SET.

Available at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes and ALL THE USUAL OUTLETS.

It's so beautiful outside, with ice on the lake, the fire burning, the sun shining, the breeze lifting flakes to flutter in the ultra-cold air. There's 14" of Mother Nature's finest on the ground, and today it will become well-behaved as walks are cleared and roads are better plowed. It's so lovely I start a poem every second and then another before I've finished the first. My heart lifts with joy!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Merry Everything to Everybody!

One always hears that one must WRITE EVERY DAY.  Those people don't seem to care whether you're working on a long-term project or writing a grocery list.  One MUST get up in the middle of the night and bash out something.

So, what IS writing?

When I'm working on a book, I come to stops sometimes.  I know, overall, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT,  mostly, but I don't know how to get there.  Sometimes, things have changed in my little universe, and WHAT HAPPENS NEXT isn't what I thought it was going to be.  (Really?  The Dragon King is getting playful?)

I need to figure that out, not write a 6-word short story or a 1000 word description of what's out my window.

I may not be sitting at the computer, but I am writing.  I am thinking about the all-important WHAT COMES NEXT.  When the scene comes clear, I dive for the computer and get it down.  Often, that starts a flow that jumps from idea to idea, and thousands of words land on the screen.  I DO think that is writing!

Solstice was yesterday, next up is Christmas, then Festivus, Hannuka, and (the big one for Buddhists) New Year's.  Whatever you celebrate, have a merry one, and the happiest in the New Year.

Here's where you can buy The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series Omni, in all possible formats, e- copies, and the hard copies are linked up through Amazon.  It's a lovely world to visit, and it just keeps getting better.  Enjoy.

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Three Book Set
Amazon Link
Apple Link
Barnes & Noble Link
Kobo Link

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Did 2016 kill social media?

Several people showed me clearly this year that they were people I don't want in my life, and were duly removed from my personal page on Facebook.   I find I stay off of Facebook most of the time now, and get rid of torture posts (hopefully forever) and all the bullshit, and there's not much going on in the Wonderful Worlds of Vegan/Vegetarian cooking, science, music, history, math jokes, literature and art.  I can't bring myself to post anything that's going to be responsed to with hatred, bile and personal attacks -- which can include such things as sports, recipes and art.  I am DONE.  Those people don't get to do that to me any more.

I am sick and tired of hearing all the horrible sexism and racism and lies that seem to go ON AND ON AND ON as though certain groups think they've been given a License to Hate.  No, I don't want to "get over it," because some things are too terrible to get over, and I'm NOT going to let you get away with that crap, or shove it in my face with accompanying calumny.  Your lies, hypocracy and double-think make me want to throw up.  I have better things, and more effective, things to do.  If that's who you are, I don't want to know you.

I trust no media at ALL, and haven't since I was in college, especially and particularly from the US, except maybe the NYT, Washington Post and CNN, and those with reservations and research.  Like always.  Nothing's changed there.  Boyz in the Basement and Treehouse News (NO GURLZ ALLOWED) are not now and never have been reliable news sources, and I'm tired of people pretending they are, and trying to get me to give them credibility, which isn't going to happen.
Lies do not become truth through repetition.  I am tired of advertisting masking itself as news and all the lying headlines.  Not interested.  I'll do real science research, not read your flipping, endless, ad, TYVM.

I rarely Tweet and never Instagram.  I take lousy pictures -- and who wants to look at me or still more nature scenes? -- and run short of time every day already without Tweeting "I'm running late" and "too much to do; not enough time" constantly.  Who cares?

I do this blog and the Toki-Girl and Sparrow-Boy accounts because I am told it is vital to do all these things (that a million other writers and wanna-bes are doing) to keep promoting my excellent and entertaining books.  I'm working on Book 4, in which Uncle Yuta Has An Adventure, right now.  The Meiji era wasn't always a happy place and strange things happened that adversely affected many people even as others became staggeringly rich, creating the basis of an economy that remains today.

I miss some of the people I've cut off or avoid because I used to think I liked them, overall.  Others I can't believe I wasted time on.  They are fools having temper tantrums, and I can't be bothered with their idiocy.

The prevelance of this rotton behavior, all the hatred, all the lies, all over the Internet makes me want to go back to the days of using this medium for reseach, which it's really good at.

Is social media dying because of all of this?

It sure is for me.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Lost (poetry)

I lost the poem I thought I wrote
with a fountain pen on a legal pad.
I can't remember it.  I don't know if it's bad or good.

Things change.

Today it rained, it's warm and now there is sun.

Things change.  Be happy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Modern plumbing/poetry

I've been reading a lovely anthology of Japanese poetry and literature.  It's short, and cherry-picks, but the way the poetry touches my soul makes the world easier to bear as I try to leave the modern world for something better.

I've been reading my draft of Book 4 and find that it's hard to stay there, in a world filled with overwehlming change on a daily basis.

Just as I thought I'd reached a happy place, all my plumbing exploded. No working toilet, an exploding disposer, and while half of it's fixed, it will take a full day to clean up.

And still:

I will burn free.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

My personal reality

Been a while.  There's no snow here and it's not even cold enough to run the snow cannons.  We did have a couple of inches of useful rain, though.  Tough in a tourist area where people plan their entire years around coming to ski for a week at Thanksgiving, buying stuff for other holidays, and generally getting into a seasonal mood with the cold and snow they'll never get Down the Hill.

The sun shines relentless, if beautifully.  The lake sparkles, but it's too cold for boating and the lakes are closed anyway.

I've been researching some not very happy aspects of the Meiji era.

Now, I'm going back to MY Meiji era where wrongs are righted and human rights restored.

Think SNOW.

Monday, October 3, 2016

What a wonderful feeling!

I love it when I am writing.  Researching's good, but seeing the story unfold under my hands is thrilling.  Last time I spoke about letting one's subconscious work on the story when one's concious mind is going, by necessity, somewhere else.

I'm exciting about further research I'll be doing soon, but I will also bring along an actual computer (not just my iPad) so I can keep on writing.

Sometimes, writing feels like giving birth.  Other times it feels like a miracle.

May miracles never cease!

Did you know there's a Facebook Page? Like!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Going with the Flow

I'm well into writing Book 4, in which Uncle Yuta Has An Adventure.  After months of hauling around huge research tomes, I learned I am much less interested in litarary critiques than I am in what the authors actually had to say.  I learned that even while working myself into exhaustion and illness, things I read stick and I form opinions and plots even when I don't think I'm doing anything to forward my story.  I learned that there is a flow, and that I can trust my subconsious.

When I finally just sat down and started writing, I found my subconcious had been doing a lot of work while the rest of me stumbled around battling continuous and extreme fatigue.

I have a flow.  And I'm going with it.

This one will be the best yet, and I'm thrilled.

Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of the series.  There's now a three-book e-format box set,  plus books 1, 2 and 3 in beautiful trade paperback editions.   All at Amazon, e-formats at Amazon, Smashwords and all the usual outlets.

This is going to be fun!

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy

Friday, September 16, 2016

A great deal is coming/Phishing with Clickbait

On September 21, The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Three Book Omni will be Book of the Day at  THREE WHOLE BOOKS for only $0.99.  This is a HUGE deal on some great , top-reviewed, books.

If you haven't started this amazing series, now's your chance.  E-book only.

Now for a rant:

I get a lot of pseudo-news in my Facebook feed.  It's all about "If you don't like this..." or "DO like that" click and vote/sign.   IF YOU DO, your input is not recorded unless you sign onto their spam list.'s all Clickbait and they are Phishing for your information so they can SPAM YOU ENDLESSLY asking for money, and tell all their little friends to do so, too.  I just won't do any of those. There is recent research (Pew, I think) that says those petitions do not do a damned thing, which sounds about right, just like those "post this as your status for one hour to support (whatever.)"  Those don't do a thing, not a single blinkity-blank thing.  I REALLY won't do that, as I do not respond well to any kind of blackmail.

In Writer-land, everything published right now about marketing one's books is all about "build your email list/facebook page likes" so YOU can spam people endlessly.  The frosting on the cake is that Facebook will only send your post to like 3 people out of 1500.  You must buy ads to reach more people.  Create web pages, landing pages, giveaways, etc., all to build that Magic Mailing List.  Which nobody has time to read.

That's the problem I see.  I love books.  I love to read.  I subscribe to several discount lists and have found some good authors I now follow through them.  With e-books now going for up to $15 EACH (total rip-off; sometimes more than the paperback, which actually costs the publishers money, which e-books don't) I need all the discounts I can get.  Those really costly ones by Big Name Authors from one of the FIVE big name publishers?  I'd like to benefit the authors, but I will not buy them.  I sign up on the waiting list at my wonderful public library.  That aside, as a working writer, I simply don't have time to read even the lists I deliberately subscribed to.  I do NOT have time for any more.

This method has overreached itself, and like any given MLM, has run out of an audience.  There IS something new out there, but the time to catch it is before every single person everywhere is doing it over and over and over.     If you have an idea for the Next Great New Thing, let me know.  Meanwhile, I'm back in the Meiji era, writing Book 4.  Remember September 21 at for a real deal on some really good books!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Think snow! (and get a deal)

Autumn dropped in before the end of August.
Put the garden to bed, move the kayak and scooter indoors.  
The cushions and umbrella go into their trunks and the cover goes on the table.

The light turns gold; the apples turn red.
Early Fallers fly from trees.
It's going to freeze.

A season of magic as earth gives up the last of this season's bounty
and settles in for a regenerative nap.

Think snow!

On September 21 ONLY, you can get all three books in The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series, Coming Home, Chasing Dreams and Together, for ONLY $0.99 at Amazon, through the selection of the this e-bbk complilation by as Book of the Day!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I should be writing! (The moment is now.)

When is the moment that I put aside the research tomes, sit at my big computer and open a file?

When do I know enough about the story to begin setting words on my screen?

When do I know the moment to begin?

When am I just procrastinating?

When I ask these questions, the moment is now.

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, 3 Book box set

This is the Kobo link.  Also at iBooks, B & N, and Kindle.  Just released, this set is for those who like to get sets at discount prices.  The usual price is 3 for 2.  On SEPTEMBER 21, this book will be OnlineBookClub's Book of the Day, and will be available on Amazon for JUST $0.99.  This is a great series.  Read it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

You're always a writer

I've been sick -- nothing serious and on the mend -- but that doesn't stop me from at least thinking about writing all the time!

I'm trying to read two hard copy books of literature of the Meiji-Taisho eras.

It's HARD.  First off, the books are large and cumbersome anthologies.  They're hard to cart around.

Second, they are both academic anthologies/translations and they're full of information that I am not sure I want.  I'd like to make up my own mind on the works.  I don't want to read reams of literary criticism.

Third, I will, though, because I read EVERYTHING.

Still, one book was very distanced from its characters.  Another has very obvious and deliberate author intrusion, but is involved with its characters.  More is coming.

Serious question, though.  Does literary criticism benefit me, as a writer of period fiction, or is it just confusing?

Wait and see.

Monday, August 8, 2016

On this perfect summer day...

I study the history of dragons.  I look up obscure educational acts.  The wind blows the trees.  the birds chirp.  Aaron Cat purrs at my feet.  I baked a cake, which I hope will be good.  It's a pineapple cake, recipe from Taiwan, spiffed up with some maraschino cherries (someone's bright addition) and a brown sugar glaze from Emeril Lagasse.  It's supposed to get better with age, and that's good, because my birthday isn't until Wednesday.

It's also VERY COOL that August 10, 2016, The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 1, Coming Home, will be BOOK OF THE DAY at Online Book Club!  It's on as deep a discount as I can give it, because I want YOU to start reading this exciting and wonderful series.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Summer Heat

The heat enfolds me as I step outside,
Warming me clear to my bones,
Dry and enveloping, like a welcome embrace.
I plunge into the cool water, refreshing and refreshed
and I never want to leave.

I couldn't live here, because I can't spend my whole life in a shaded pool, but it's a great place to visit.
I just got back from a short visit to Mexico, where I am finishing up some dental work.  I like the quiet efficiency of Mexico, a country full of ambitious entrepreneurs, experts practicing their arts and crafts, who have no need to flaunt their skill.  They have it, and it shows in their work.

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 1, Coming Home, will be Book of the Day on for August 10, 2016!  It will be as discounted as possible, and is a great way to start this exciting series, just right for a lazy afternoon.  Enjoy!

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy

Friday, July 29, 2016

A not-formal poem

Your world spins one way.
Mine spins another.
They clash, sparks fly.
Galaxies chasing each another across the universe,
Singing the songs of physics.

I usually write formal poetry, but not today.  This one owes a great debt to Emily Dickenson, of course.

Together is bursting forth.  There's going to be a great special August 10 as Coming Home becomes Book of the Day at Online Book Club.  It's a great way to start the series.  There will be more specials for Books 2 and 3 in the fall.  Check it out!

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy website

Monday, July 25, 2016

Overwhelming busy and it's great!

I don't think many people realize how much a writer has to do!  After the book is finally out, it's time for PR, publicity, interviews, reviews, and keeping up with social media.  At which I've been very bad.

If you're writing a series, as I am, and attempting to publish on an annual basis, it's ALSO necessary to start working on the next book.  Oh, my.

I've been reserching family crests, interesting ancestors, women ninja and more!

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy is a wonderful series.  There's even a new 4/4 review for Book 1, Coming Home, at Online Book Club!  Over the next several months, reviews for Book 3, Together, will start coming in.  There are new-book specials going on over the next month or more.  Why don't you buy it now and write one?  Those mean more than I can say, and thank you to those who do so.

The life of a working writer is not just about writing the books, although that's the best part.  Thank you, readers, for making it possible for me to do every single bit of it.

They are as good as the reviews say they are, and I am thrilled.  Come join my world!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Now it's real…

I read almost nothing but e-books, and I love my Kindle with a fire-y passion, but there is something so satisfying about a book, a real book, that I can hold in my hands and place in my shelves!  The bound galleys have arrived, they have been approved, and the HARD COPY will be available at Amazon and CreateSpace in a day or so.  It takes 6 - 8 weeks for hard copies to show up everywhere, but you can get them sooner than that.

Now, it's real.  And it's wonderful.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Another Great Review...4/4

This review is of Book One: Coming Home, from onlinebookclub.  The reviews for Book 3 haven't started coming in yet.  I think they'll continue to be DARNED GOOD.  Please do read.

What a charming children's book! The book wasn't what I expected it to be. It was much better! By the time I had finished the first chapter I knew for certain that it would be an amazing read. And I was right! This book is a thrilling adventure ride incorporating fantasy, folklore, historical tidbits, politics, dual-natured beings, quests, and much more besides.

The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy by Claire Youmans is the first in a series featuring two unique kids, Azuki and her brother Shota. And I do mean unique! Both kids can turn into birds, imagine that! While Shota, the sparrow boy, is impetuous, curios, and resourceful, Azuki, the Toki-girl, is brave, adventurous, and determined. The two complement each other splendidly. Set in a fantasy version of Meiji-era Japan, the story follows their trials, adventures, and mishaps amidst all the changes and chaos Japan experienced as her gates were opened to the rest of the world.

There are two main plot lines which overlap in interesting and surprising ways. Azuki and Shota's story is one. The two kids-birds live peacefully with their adopted human parents in a small district on the southern island of Kyushu. Their lives take a turn for the worse when an evil feudal overlord kidnaps Azuki for the beautiful feathers she sheds. Azuki manages to break free, but what a girl-bird to do? Desperate and hurt, she decides to look for her Toki-kin. Shota has a quest of his own. He has to bring his sister back home before the year is over, or they will lose their human identities. They need to be able to live as both human and bird, in order to truly be themselves. Along the way they both meet colorful new friends and learn valuable lessons about their self-worth.

The second plot line involves another set of protagonists, Anko and Benjamin. Amidst the suspense and adventure there is also the gentlest touch of youthful romance between the Japanese girl and the young American naval officer. Their budding relationship serves best to emphasise the differences between the two cultures. The cultural barriers between the two are well conveyed.

The book revolves around the four main characters and colourful cast of side characters. The various threads complement each other and add a complexity and interest to the story. The author’s intricate weaving of the different characters' points of view is well done. With a story told from multiple points of view, a well-constructed world, likable protagonists, and an enthralling narrative, we have an enchanting tale. The story was quite original and it had me curious about what would happen next. It does take a dark turn (two murders) and the ending is a bit too abrupt, but those are its only faults.

The plot and the world-building surrounding this story were quite interesting and all the elements in the story flow together seamlessly. It is a beautifully written book that captures the imagination of the reader from the first and the perfect middle grade novel. Even though it’s geared towards young readers, as an adult I was able to fully immerse myself into the fantastically created realm. The writing style is easy to understand, but by no means simplistic.

The author takes what could have been a straightforward tale, and turns it into something more - a lesson in self-discovery and acceptance of one's nature. Children will find the characters easy to identify with, and will learn important life lessons along the way. The book combines an adventure story with themes of self-worth, loyalty, friendship, love, and courage while emphasizing qualities such as compassion, empathy and kindness. Each chapter opens with lovely illustrations (black and white on my kindle) which were done by young artists. Hurray to them!

It was a fun read from start to finish, so I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I enjoyed the book and loved the concept of dual-natured beings. I am definitely looking forward to reading more in the series. I would recommend the book to middle grade kids and up and to anyone who loves unique fairy tales and fantasy adventure. The author created a very imaginative tale that children and parents alike will want to read over and over again.


Monday, July 4, 2016


Bound Galleys are on their way! It'll take a few days for Kindle and for ALL e-formats (Nook, Kobo, iBooks etc.) to appear at Smashwords, and a few weeks for iTunes and B&N.  Maybe a week for the hard copies at Amazon.

These are truly beautiful books.  The covers, the illustrations, the typesetting, and, of course the STORY  are all wonderful.  Eformat or hard copy, they are a joy to read.  If you haven't started the series yet, there are many opportunities to start doing so ON SALE at Smashwords and Amazon.  And there's a special surprise coming, oh, next week. 


Friday, July 1, 2016


Book One, The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Book 1, COMING HOME, will be FREE on Smashwords for the month of July.

If you haven't checked it out yet, this is a great opportunity.

Since you're going to like it, you'll be able to get Book 2, CHASING DREAMS, for only $1.50 at Smashwords for the months of July.

There will be specials, events and contests for Book 3, TOGETHER, and the print copy, too.  Watch This Space.

Smashwords produces books in all conceivable e-formats.


Want to see the back cover.  Do yah?  Huh?

Well, here it is.

Azuki and Shota are finally home!  Life in their corner of rural 19th Century Japan is nearly perfect – but Azuki’s sick and Shota doubts his friendship with the Dragon Princess, who is upset because her mother rejects her dual nature.  Shota defies his uncle to track down the legendary Crane-girl to help Azuki and impress the Princess.  This leads to the discovery of a new and better way to incorporate Azuki’s spectacular feathers in fabrics.  When Shota takes his beloved boat to deliver Azuki’s work, he finds trouble – and not just among humans!  Even the Dragon King and Princess Renko’s European mother must join forces with Azuki and Shota to repel a sea-monster’s challenge, but it’s Uncle Yuta who crafts a lasting peace.

Happy Independence Day