Friday, June 26, 2015


No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgement of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. 

It is so ordered.

--Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States, majority opinion of Obergefell v. Hodges

4 Historical Characters Mentioned in Pearl (And Maybe Some That Aren't)

1. William Wilberforce
Wilberforce, 1790

“You can’t simply walk up to William Wilberforce and ask him to find your brother. That’s not what’ll happen. You understand?”

She nodded. Wilberforce was the leading voice for abolition of the slave trade in England. Some slaves called him King Wilberforce. Never mind him; the slave trade still went on.

William Wilberforce was a British Member of Parliament from 1780 to 1812. In 1785, Wilberforce became an Evangelical, which influenced his political decisions. He became known as a reformer, proposing changes to the electoral system (only men who owned a certain amount of property could vote at the time). In 1787, Quakers, known for being reformers and already working towards abolition, recognized the need for influence in Parliament--and in order to do that, they needed an Anglican like Wilberforce. (Quakers and Catholics weren't allowed to hold seats in Parliament in those days.)

Wilberforce agreed to take on abolition as his cause, "provided that no person more proper could be found." In 1791, after a very long Parliamentary committee hearing on the slave trade--Wilberforce introduced his first abolition bill in Parliament. It was defeated. He kept on introducing bill after bill, but as the 1790s wore on and France's Revolution frightened the Establishment, the discussion on slavery and the slave trade lessened. Parliament began to concentrate on containing the malcontents in England and once England and France were at war, the government turned its attention to that.

So, 1799, the year Pearl opens, was a dead year for the abolition movement. The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed in 1807, abolishing the Atlantic slave trade (though not slavery itself).

Slavery in the British Empire was officially abolished in 1833. Wilberforce died three days after this act was passed. The movie Amazing Grace starring Ioan Gruffudd and Benedict Cumberbatch depicts the British abolition fight, focusing particularly on Wilberforce.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Very Japanese + Irish Day

I've talked about my two cultures a lot. I've certainly spent a lot of time in my life explaining my precise racial and cultural background.

(Can I get a nickel every time I tell people I'm Japanese and Irish, by the way? And maybe a dime every time someone reacts with, "Really? Wow!")

But my mixed background never becomes as apparent as when both sides of my family get together. It doesn't happen very often; we're usually with one side or another.

My grandfather died three weeks ago. He was my mother's father, my Japanese grandfather. In accordance with Japanese tradition, he was cremated. We had a memorial service at my grandparents' house.

I don't know how it works in other Buddhist sects (my mom's side are Nichiren Buddhists, but even there, there are a million different sects), but in my mom's, we chant and then there are some ashes that you lift to your forehead three times as you pray, and then there's incense. I have the basic prayers memorized, although I have no idea what I'm chanting or what the words mean. So we did that--my mom's side of the family, some family friends, majority Japanese.

My Irish side--my dad's two brothers and their families--came, too. Now, they're Catholic and they've never been to a Buddhist memorial ceremony, so it was all new to them. And they don't get to eat Japanese food a lot.

My cousin: "I don't usually like sushi, but this is sooo good."

(Did I mention that my uncle's a sushi chef?)

And so, I found myself being truly mixed and biracial and all that jazz. On the one hand, I'm having conversations with my younger, white cousins. On the other, I'm talking to my grandmother in Japanese. I'm translating from Japanese into English and vice versa. I'm explaining Japanese food to my white relatives.

Like I said, it's rare for both sides to get together, but when they do, I'm really glad that I've been raised in two rich cultures and that I can blur the lines between them--because when the two come together, there I am.

Also, completely random note: I'm being interviewed over at Michelle Tran's blog today. My first author interview!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

7 Thoughts On Self-Publishing

As you lovely readers know because I've been inundating my social mediums with my news, I released a novella into the world. Now, granted, I'm only three days out from release, but these are some reflections I've had on the self-publishing process.

1. Thank God I Hired a Really Good Copyeditor.
No, really. I've been reading my own book on my Kindle (that feels so weird to say) and although some of my formatting is kind of making me cringe (more on that later), the actual story itself isn't. Not saying it's a perfect story--it definitely is not--but I know that the spelling, grammar, and punctuation is spot on because Jess checked this baby thoroughly.

The huge amount of commas, ellipses, and dashes is my fault.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Pearl is live! Now available!

Pearl is now out in the world.

It is available on Amazon.




I put it up on all the other platforms Draft2Digital offers, too, but those four are the bigger ones.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Pearl: An Historical Novella Cover Reveal

Hi everyone!

Pearl: An Historical Novella is super close to being ready to hit the Interwebs. I'll let you know of an exact date when we get there, but I anticipate early next week.

In the meantime, here's the cover, one of the designs from!

Time to a slave only means endless work, but for Pearl, the last ten years have meant time without her younger brother Julius. He was sold away from Barbados, a little island of sugar cane and slavery, but Pearl is still there, the lady's maid to Mrs. Keegan.

After Mrs. Keegan dies, rumor has it that Mr. Keegan may return to his native England with his two children, which means Pearl will be sold for sure. Surprising herself, Pearl asks Mr. Keegan if he intends to sell her. To her shock, he says that yes, he'll return to England—but he's going to free her first. Pearl asks to be taken to England, too, with vain hopes that she'll uncover what's become of Julius—even if it means she'll remain enslaved.

Freed and employed as the Keegans' nanny, Pearl does not know how to begin looking for Julius or how to conduct herself as a free person in a new country. Her search leads to an unlikely alliance with Mr. Keegan, friendship with freed blacks, learning to read and write, and the choices to change her life, on her own terms.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Write the Book You Want to Read

Writers, by nature, will give out all kinds of contradictory advice. Show, don't tell. (Huh?! It's a novel, not a movie ...) Write what you know (But I know nothing. Jon Snow.) Write for a market. Don't write for the market (because it'll change by the time you finish your book.) Write something you think people will actually want to read. Nah, forget the readers, write it entirely for yourself.

But the best piece of writing advice I've read--I probably saw it, put all pithily in the way of writing advice, sometime during the mire that was The Keegans of Banner's Edge--

Write the book you want to read. 

In my case,  I wanted to see a historical fiction costume drama-like story with some grittier issues, with some diversity. Expanding on that, Pearl, which is a spin-off from the Keegans, is about a black female protagonist in a Georgian England setting and her plot does not involve romance. 

I mean, I like romance in books, but not every woman needs to be presented with a love interest. I'd like to read more novels where the female lead doesn't fall in love with someone by page x. 

I'm back to writing the novel I've been tinkering around with, with all its intendant complications, but even there, it's the kind of book I like reading--and have read in some cases--because it's a dual timeline. There's a small mystery, there are two female lead protagonists, there's diversity and art. But it's half historical period and half contemporary. 

I think of it as two halves of the kind of stuff I like to watch---part Downton Abbey/Jane Austen adaptations/Outlander--and part Once, Begin Again, delicate little indie movies. 

So, what kind of book do you want to see on the shelves or on the ebook rotations? And are you writing it? 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

IWSG: June

It's June's IWSG post. Check out the IWSG page to find out more about this wonderful group.

My mind has been going in two different streams the past few days. On the one hand, the novella is coming together--I got the copyedited manuscript back over the weekend and went through the Track Changes. My copyeditor only had about 4 queries for one, which she said was good for a story that is 29K.

So the story itself is almost done. Now it's on to covers. I have no ideas for a cover--not being a visual person in the least--but it's an important component for a book. Readers takes cues from covers.

I've been looking at places that have pre-made covers displayed to see if something among them might suit. I've found a few that might be okay, but I'm not entirely sure yet.

I need my cover to convey:
  • Historical
  • Woman of color as the main character
But I don't like faces on book covers nor do I like the cut-off woman in period dress on historical fiction covers, so. . .what did you all do, self-publishers, about your covers?

And in the other mind stream--and on a much more personal note--my maternal grandfather died this past Saturday. He was 89 years old, had been ill for some time, and we knew it was coming very soon, so the family had time to prepare. We were at the house as he/just after he passed. You can't ask for a more peaceful and family-filled end. Still sad, though.