Saturday, May 18, 2019


I've hit six books in The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series.  That's a lot.  That's serious.  I have a research trip planned for book 7 and I can think of ways this series can go on for many more books.  There's so much going on in the real Meiji Era, so many thing my characters can explore, as their lives also expand and change with the exploding changes of the times.  Many more books to write!

That means it is time to start acting like a series.  That means a style sheet -- doing things the same way across all the books.  It doesn't mean changing the stories but it means making them consistent in appearance and format, and it also means some other changes.

These are changes rather like those of Japan during the Meiji era.  The surface changes, but the depths remain the same.

There's a new style sheet, now.  Much of the internal information contained in each book will be moved to the website. There's just too much of it!

There are also changes in the publishing world (and these are happening about as often as social changes in the Meiji Era -- like every single day) and so the placement and marketing of the whole series needs to be rethought.  If it changes the readers' experience in any way, you'll hear about it.

This means a LOT of work for me and several other people who comprise Team TGSB but for you it means:

Consistent style (oh, we hope we're getting that right!)
Consistent and single size books
New Marketing Stuff (we'll announce that as it's relevant.)

NEW COVERS!  (Wait for the announcement on those!  They are going to be SO GOOD)  WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE THEM!

THE DRAGON SISTERS, new cover and all will be released in e-format and hard copy around the end of June.

The original editions will be going away, and that leads to another announcement:

The Three-Book Omni Edition will be FREE, for the last time, June 1 - 5 (I think that's US time) in Kindle format.  This edition will go away.

So -- GO GET FREE BOOKS!  And enjoy them!

       Buy the set now!

Keep your eyes open for news.  There is plenty coming!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Life on the Floor: not for everyone

A friend of mine said to me yesterday that not all foreign people adjust to living in Japan. She wondered how I was doing.

She's been careful to be available if I need help -- and a couple of times I really have -- and also to be my friend as much or more as she has been when I was going back and forth, but she's also left me on my own to see, on my own, if I was going to sink or swim and how well I might do it.

Sure, it's different. Yes, it's strange. No, it's not like the US.

Most significantly, it's not like being on vacation or going to school or having a short-term job.

Anybody can have a great time here for a few weeks or months or a school term, I think. Japan is a superb country for a holiday or adventure, given its history and culture, the old and the new, juxtaposed side by side, always with a secret wink. Fabulous scenery, wonderful architecture, a great sense of fun. Visitors have the benefits of hotels or other temporary lodgings like hostels, inns, student housing or Air BnB. There will be hospitable people full of patience and kindness, who can write out directions, summon cabs, coordinate logistics, make arrangements, read labels, order tickets and otherwise ensure the trip goes as smoothly as possible.

When you've been here a few times, you can do most of that yourself, but it's nice to have the safety net. Goodness knows, there are times you'll need it.

Living here is different. Very different.

It's all too easy to think you've seen it all, you've learned what it's like, that Japan is close to wherever you're from, just wearing different clothes.  I will have been living here two years come the first of  August, and traveled here extensively before that.  It's easy to convince yourself that the values are basically the same and the systems work the same way and you just have to learn a little bit more about the details, study a few more words, but you have it down pretty well now.

If you're here with the usual work or student visa, they'll take great care of you. They don't want you getting in trouble or being unhappy and they don't think you'll be here all that long anyway. They've greased the skids and so you don't have to figure things out on your own. But that leads to a very shallow understanding, though much better than most leisure travelers. Yet, that's not why I'm here or what I'm doing. I want to acquire a deep understanding that I can share through my books so that others can come to love this fascinating country as I do.  It's not easy.

Japan is hard for foreigners.  Its values aren't yours. Its systems are like nothing you've encountered. I find that every time I think I'm getting close, understanding slips away.

Patience is a virtue, but it's never been one of mine.  Here, I need lots of it.  I need a very open mind.
I need to realize I am constantly working in a culture that is as alien to me as I am to it.

I have non-Japanese friends who also have interests that lead them to come here often, but who say openly -- at least to me -- that they could not live here and would not want to.

That's insightful of them. For the short term, Japan is fascinating and fun. If you're going to be involved with Japan for whatever reason, I hope you'll read The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series.  I hope to charm you as only Japan can do, to give you enough understanding to get by, and to do so with compassion and grace for all concerned. For the long term, it's really not for everyone, but so far, I think it is for me.

The Dragon Sisters, Book 6 in  The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series will be out towards the end of June.  It's good. And it is for everybody!