Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another Camp come and gone.

Sometime last night I crossed the 50k threshold for the month, which means I've won another Camp Nanowrimo. Hooray! It was kind of taxing for writing this month, since I never got "ahead" until about halfway through. I like finishing early, because then it takes the pressure off for me to keep writing. And, any other words I tack on afterwards? Yay, that's just extra! But last night the next installment of the Ren'Ai Rensai series broke 65k, or 50k for the month, since I had about 15k written already in January. (I like simple math!) I plan to continue writing this month, of course, but I'm taking it easy for the remaining three days of August. Doubt I'll break 60k or the month, but I've got a huge scene I'm ready to write coming up, so we'll see.

I'm not sure how many other people were participating this month. If you were, how did you do?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekly Writing Check-In: Slogging Through

Another week, another check-in. Not as much stuff happened this week as it did last week, but things are on track nonetheless. I'm still waiting on final edits for "DAISUKI." so I'm busying myself with writing the MS for the next book in the series, which is both my Camp August novel AND coming out a "full length" novel. I'm currently at 62k, and while the end is in sight, I'm expecting this novel to push 75k. Who knows how long it will be after edits, but I'm sure it'll be the longest in the Ren'Ai Rensai series. (That's okay, chronologically it's the first book anyway! It's allowed to be longer.)

So, yes, Camp! I'm not as far ahead as I usually am in Nano events, but I should finish either tomorrow or Tuesday. Currently I'm just shy of 47k. Making progress, but I want this story to be done already! Sheesh! (Also, cover image has been picked out for this one. I'm currently pushing for a late November/early December release for this one. See, this is what happens when you're "unemployed" and just work on books all day. You're able to crank books out this fast. It's kind of...exhilarating? Frightening? Gah.)

I don't really recommend this fast of a pace to anyone. As it is, life revolves around me getting up at noon-1pm, putting around for an hour, checking all my usual websites, exercising (let's not talk about how I've put on 25 pounds since moving back to America. Woo!), reading, dinner, and THEN my writing life begins from about 7pm to 4am. This includes blogging, writing, editing, and anything else related. Yes, I consider blogging a part of my writing job. Why shouldn't I? =P

I suppose I should stop rambling for now. What have you all been up to this week?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"DAISUKI." Blurb Released!

Today marks the official first day of promotional rounds for my debut novella, "DAISUKI."! First day is the promotional blurb for this romance about lesbian love in Japan.

Aiko and Reina have been together for almost 20 years, yet one thing remains unsaid between them: "Daisuki", or, "I love you". As they approach their anniversary, their relationship comes to an impasse as Aiko the Japanese housewife begins demanding "I love you" with a side of marriage and romance.

But Reina doesn't understand complex concepts like "love" or other heavy emotions. She's spent years supporting her girlfriend via a soul-sucking salary job and tending to their mutual needs in the bedroom. Isn’t that sufficient? In a culture demanding Reina choose between the "feminine" and the "masculine" worlds, it's bad enough she's trying to find her role without Aiko adding extra pressure.

Some words need not saying, but "I love you" is about to destroy a relationship already surviving strange side-lovers and even stranger exploits.

I can't believe it's the first day already! Next day of promotions will be the cover reveal on September 1st! But you may be getting a preview sooner than that...

Actually, soon it'll be September 28th, and I'll realize I have yet to do final edits / convert crap into mobi and epub. Let's be real, this is my life. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hubpages Wednesday: Or, Whatever Happened to That Thing

You may or may not have noticed a severe lack of Hub updating from my end of the Internet. I have a pretty dang good reason for this:  I got Google sandboxed early last month.

What the heckity heck is the "Google Sandbox"? Succinctly, it's when Google's algorithm decides it's not going to send your website traffic anymore. There's a number of reasons this may happen, but the short of it is that it happened to me, and I stopped making money. Any money.

July actually started very, very excitingly. By the end of the first week I had made almost six dollars! I know, right? Up until that point my traffic had been steadily increasing, and I put out a huge effort to write as many quality hubs as I could to keep the hits coming. Somewhere at the end of June my hits TRIPLED and I started raking in some money. By the end of the first week of July I was pretty sure I would hit my very first payout the end of that month.

Then I logged on one day to see that my hits had tanked to ten.

And they never got better.

I went from making sometimes up to two dollars a day to barely making four cents a day. All I could figure, as it never improved no matter what I did, was that I had been sandboxed, and it was time to move on. So I did. I stopped hubbing mid-July and focused on my noveling.

Today I logged into HP to see what was going on hits wise. It had been over a month since I last checked it, too disgusted to even bother. Shockingly, I made a whole daughter this month. Woohoo. But what actually WAS nice? My hits were back up in the hundreds! That is, they were about June's average, right before my trafficked tripled.

So what does this mean? I think when I have some downtime I'll go through and start updating some of the older hubs and start advertising them again. Apparently, Google is liking me enough to give me hits again, so why not? But I'm not gonna wear myself out writing new articles if I don't feel like it. I have a couple unpublished ones languishing that I might as well get out. If things improve again? I'll let you know.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weekly Writing Check-In: Stuff Happened!

Remember last week when I was so bored and had nothing new to talk about, that I had to post a video of a crazy Japanese video game commercial to keep things alive? But thankfully I have new things to talk about this week! Friday I announced my new series, REN'AI RENSAI, and the first installment "DAISUKI." releasing on September 28th! And on Saturday I announced my promotions for September and the blog tour for October. Exciting!

Sadly, not everything has been so happenin' this week. On Wednesday we noticed our oldest cat wasn't eating anymore, and on Friday we took her to the vet and found out our suspicions were true:  her cancer is back, and this time it'll probably be the end of her. Thankfully, we've got her on medicine that makes her happy and act healthy again. It's just we don't know how long it will last, and when she will want to go. So until then, we're coddling her and giving her way, way too much leeway in this house..heh.

So because of anguishing over the cat all week, I never got any sleep and was a zombie these past couple of days. No writing got done whatsoever. OH well, I'm a few thousand ahead in Camp, so I could afford it. But I need to get back on track by tomorrow at the latest.

(And for those wondering at home, here's our sweetie darlin' kitty before she got all sick and unwell.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"DAISUKI." Promotion Schedule + Official Blog Tour!

Yesterday I announced the release of my first novel, "DAISUKI.", set to drop September 28th! Also in that post I mentioned that today I would reveal the plans for my first promotion and blog tour! it is?

NUMERO UNO: September Promotions

The following are the TENTATIVE blog post promotions I have planned leading up to the release of "DAISUKI.":

Aug 25: Official blurb revealed.

Sept 1: Book Cover Reveal!

Sept 3: New Layouts (Blog / Facebook)

Sept 5: Character Profile #1

Sept 8: Preview!

Sept 12: Character Profile #2

Sept 15: SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT (May or may not be a blog fest!)

Sept 19: Character Profile #3

Sept 22: Another Preview!

Sept 26: Character Profile #4


Oct 1: Blog tour begins!

Excited? I know I am! Especially for that book cover! It's going to be fantastic! (No pressure to my bff and designer, of course. Well, maybe a little. OKAY A LOT. DO IT RIGHT GURL.  orz)

Also? That SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT on the 15th? Going to be, as the kids back in uni said, ~epic~. It's going to be more a promotional tour for the next book coming out in November (hopefully!) but is still completely relevant to these current promotions as well. If you like writing romance (or want the practice!) it's going to be right up your alley! Hooyeah!

NUMERO THE DOS:  October Blog Tour!

I'll be going on an Internet wide (well, as far as I can go!) blog tour to promote "DAISUKI.", and I'm looking for anybody willing to participate! 

Of course, starting from today I'm only, takers, of blog owners who wouldn't mind hosting me and (preferably) my book cover etc. for a day! I've set up a Link List for those interested right away to sign up  so I can get in contact with you. Now, a few things about "DAISUKI." that you may want to consider based on the readership of your blog:

1) It's a romance with some "graphic" (I find this highly subjective, but yes, there's sex) scenes between women. I debated whether or not to also promote it as erotica, and have decided not to. It's a romance story first and foremost, but yes, there's sex. 

2) The cover is suggestive, but not dirty. I would say "it's no worse than you see in the romance section in Amazon", but let's be real, some of those should be taken down per Amazon's guidelines! Woah! But my designer and I are making sure that the cover complies to Amazon's guidelines, which means there's no nudity. There isn't even kissing. (But an almost kiss!)

3) The entire series (and myself) is very pro-LGBT, as it's sort of the crux of the story. 

Overall, I would give "DAISUKI." a healthy R rating. I share this because I know some of you who may wish to host me on the blog tour may need to consider their readership and whether or not it would cause a problem on their blogs. If you'd still like to do something with me, let me know, and we'll come up with something!

As for blog tour posts, I'm planning to do posts about Japanese culture and language, F/F relationships (both here in the USA and in Japan), character interviews, general interviews, samples, writing romance,  basically, whatever jives with you and your blog!

Phew! That was a lot of text! I appreciate it if you took the time to read it all! I'm very excited about this tour and this novel! I hope to have the blog tour badges and all that jazz ready around the time the cover is revealed. The reason why I'm taking names this soon is so I can get a jump on things before I'm swamped! If you'd rather wait to sign up until after I reveal the blurb and cover, that's fine too. I'm sure I'll be posting this link list a few times...

Now excuse me, I have like a million things to do tonight! (I am running purely on adrenaline right now. Woohoo!)

Friday, August 17, 2012


Here it is! The moment you all didn't know you were waiting for! The unveiling of my new series title and the first book to be released by the end of next month!

Are you ready?


~The Romance Event of the Year~

That's right, my new series is REN'AI RENSAI ("The Serial of Love"),and the first installment, releasing next month, is "DAISUKI." ("I Love You"). 

The series chronicles the lesbian relationship of two Tokyoites over the span of twenty years. "DAISUKI" begins during year 19, when one of them still refuses to say "I love you". (I'm in the midst of writing the first draft of the second one, which covers the origins of their relationship way back in 1992!) So as you can see, there is no particular chronological order to this series. 

It's a spinoff of my main CROSS// series (as it stars two minor characters), and will serve double duty as an introduction to the world. Oh wait, it's not a fantasy! Oh well! It's what I felt like writing! "DAISUKI"'s first draft was written during Camp Nano back in June. Needless to say, I've been working non stop on it to get it polished!

I'll be announcing the blog tour for late September/October tomorrow, along with the general release of further news, including cover, blurb, and character bios! I am so excited!

I swear I am!

Even though I'm so sleep I'm about to pass out!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Alert! Major announcements in ccming days!

I am so, so cheap.

That's right! In the coming days *cough*tomorrowandsaturday* I will be announcing the title and (tentative) release date for my upcoming novella. And after that I will be announcing the accompanying blog tour! Isn't that exciting? It's exciting. So exciting I am exhausted and sleepy and should go to bed. But I'm here telling you about upcoming announcements instead. So that you are ready for them. And getting just as excited as me.

Flawless plan.

I'm over at Meradeth's today!

Time for me to write a guest post! This time I'm over at Meradeth Houston's blog, talking about living and writing abroad in Japan. Check it out an tell us about your experiences writing abroad! (Or your dream to!)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weekly Writer Check-In: Checking Out

I have nothing to say this week that I haven't said the past two weeks. So here, have the greatest commercial ever created.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

SAS: "Game On" Blog Tour, by Kyra Lennon

"Share A Saturday" is a weekly chance for you, yes YOU, to come on my blog and talk about whatever you want, so long as it's related to writing/books. For more information, such as if you'd like to "share a Saturday" with me, please see below!

Kyra Lennon was born on the South coast of England, and to this day, still lives by the sea. Fiction writing has always been her passion, but she also has numerous articles on a variety of topics published on prolific websites. 


When I first started writing Game On, the only characters I had in mind were Leah and Radleigh. Being a complete pantser, I had the loosest plotline imaginable and learned more about where the story was going, and where the characters were going, during the writing process.

What surprised me the most when I was writing, most especially about Leah, was just how much depth she has. On the surface, she’s a British girl living in America, doing a job she loves. That’s it, that’s all there is to see at first glance. But dig just a little deeper, and you’ll find a wealth of baggage and self-inflicted pain that she has been carrying around for far too long. Part of her journey in Game On is trying to figure out if she can “unpack” it, or if she’s destined to carry it around forever.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a writer too, so you will already know just how important it is to give your characters depth. But this doesn’t just apply to the main characters. Think about the ones around your MCs. Do you really know who they are? Think about how J.K Rowling wrote her characters. She knew everything about every single one of them. I’m pretty sure if you asked her Harry Potter’s grandmother’s shoe size, she’d know the answer! Of course, you don’t need to know quite that much, but you should at least know some of their background. The minor players in your own lives have their own pasts, and those things affect the way they interact with you. The same is true for the characters you write, at least it should be if you want people to believe in them.

I can honestly say, I have never had more than one trait or “thing” planned for any character I’ve ever written when I first begin a new story. It sounds like a very sloppy way to approach writing, but it hasn’t ever really failed me. These people pop up in my head, and with one very basic idea as a starting point, they guide me through the rest of the story. They tell me what to do, who they are, where they’ve been and where they’re going. Quite often, they give me this information when I’ve had a different idea, but in spite of my efforts, they usually win and they are always right!

What I’d like to know is, how do YOU approach the creation of new characters. Do you really flesh them out before you begin writing, or do you let them guide you?

-Amazon US
-Amazon UK
-Amazon US (Paperback)
-Amazon UK (Paperback)

If you'd like to participate in a Share a Saturday, feel free to contact me at my email, hildred @ (no spaces) or through any of the other ways to get a hold of me through my Contact page.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Breakthrough! / Branding

This update comes in two sections: The breakthrough, and the branding.

FIRST! The breakthrough! Tuesday I talked a little about my recent "series" naming escapades. I was worried I wouldn't come up with anything. Or that anything I came up with was thoughtless, meaningless, and there just for the sake of being there. While this mini-series in the realm of lesbian romance (in Japan, no less) is set in the same universe as the overarching CROSS// series I'm working on, it features minor characters who are, for the most part, ignorant to the fantasy of the universe. They're just everyday people leading everyday lives. Thus I was stuck on what to name the "mini-series" within the series. On one hand it's meant to exist on its own, but it's also tied to the main universe. I don't want to haphazardly slap the "CROSS//" label on it other than as an aside, so I needed to come up with something else.

Tonight, I was plowing through my online dictionary and came upon a couple words I never even considered before. I knew I wanted something "Japanese" to reflect the story titles, but in this case I didn't care if it was complicated Japanese so long as it was still catchy to readers who didn't know any Japanese outside of "Tokyo" and "Honda". (Sometimes I lose touch, considering I've been studying the language for over ten years now.) And what do you know. The words I found? Perfect! I'm still stewing them over and a couple alternates for now until I make any for-sure announcements on the new mini-series name. So look forward to it! (And learning some Japanese, apparently.)

SECOND! I've been spending some time lately considering the concept of "branding", specifically, my name as an author. It's always been my intention to go by my birth name, which I do here, because I love my name and I've always felt it was unique enough while still retaining a certain "authoryness". And I do intend to write under both my main planned series (CROSS// and, later on in the next decade, Nagnomei) with my name "Hildred Billings". But then one of my friends pointed out that my planned debut at this point is rather, erm ~controversial~. (Gasp! Two lesbians in a long-term relationship?! And they have sex?! GOOD LORD. Buy me a new string of pearls because I've over-clutched the ones I have now!) And as somebody currently trying to find even a part time job to make loan bills add up, I may be shooting myself in the foot should potential employers google me and see my steamy cover I plan on releasing next month. This did give me pause. Now, obviously I don't give a rat's toot if an author uses a pen name for these reasons, even to keep their genres separate, but it's never been something I've considered. I hate aliases (for myself). Even my long-standing Internet name "Calico" doesn't get considered when it comes to my writing career! 

But then I realized - darnit, it doesn't matter. Since this  series takes place in the same universe as CROSS// (and features some of the same characters!) I can't exactly use a different name if only to save myself the headache of people saying "hey wait a this fanfiction? Does Hildred know about this?!" Could you just imagine? And then there's the other thing...I've been building up a name for "Hildred Billings" for the past few years. And I don't care if  family members see what "Hildred Billings" has been up to. Most of them know I'm queer as sin (even if some may be in denial) and I'm not exactly in the closet anywhere in the world. The worst  that can happen is a potential employer looks me up and says "what.", but since I don't plan on a career with children, I'm going to go with "I'm not working for anybody who has a problem with who I am anyway."

Phew. Well, those are all the thoughts swarming around my head these past couple of days. No pen name over here. The only reason why I ever would use one is if it was a safety measure, which I don't count a lesbian romance as in my neck of the woods, as backwards as I sometimes think this place is. And I may have a series name! Goodness.

How about y'all? Do you use a pen name? Why or why not?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Of Cover Images and Series Titles

Man I hate it when this happens.
For the past few weeks I've been trollin' around stock photo sites trying to pick a cover image for my upcoming novella release. (Eee! It's getting closer! CLOSER! Soon I'll be doing reveals!) It's been tough. At first I thought I found the perfect image somewhere. The models, with some hair color tweakin', more or less looked exactly like my MCs! Yay! But there were some...erm...~issuess~ with covering certain body parts up so Amazon and other retailers would not throw a fit over it. Then there was the other issue: "Oh, God, how am I going to find matching images for the sequels?" There was a whole shoot with these same models, but they were either butt-ass naked (which is actually what I DON'T want. Yeah, I had to take my temperature too!) or at an unworkable angle for a book cover. Finally, after seeing my graphic designer/editor-at-large/best-friend-forever came up with via a, this original image HAS to happen! It just has to! And it will happen! As soon as I buy the rights! :P

Phew. Yes, that's been one of my biggest points of stress recently. The other is trying to come up with a series name to list on Amazon and other retailers so they'll show up nicely on search results. I have at least two more similar stories featuring the same characters planned (one of which I am in the midst of writing now) and have never considered naming them as a series until now. It wouldn't be something special or even "official", really. But at this rate it'll probably get named after a very specific flower.

Bah. Rambling! I'm sure most of you other writers know how it is. So tell me, especially you self-publishers, how did you go about picking the "perfect" cover image? And those who went trade, how did you find the cover making process? Did you get to have a lot of input let alone the final ok?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weekly Writing Check-In: Back at Camp, with a side of editing.

It's the first Sunday of August, which means the first Camp numbers are in on my end. I'm making steady progress but am not pulling ahead. Last check I had about 8k. That's cool, I'm not looking to break records this month, but I like getting ahead and giving myself room for ULTIMATE BODILY FAILURE ie: the plague, broken everything, and a dose of death. In total the novel (thinking it's gonna break 60k at this rate) is 23k. Definitely not quite as ~sexy~ as the other one yet, but it might get there! Maybe.

Speaking of "the other one", getting preliminary beta edits back. Gonna go through it myself one last time before shipping it off to ye olde bff editor who is, for some reason, ridiculously hyper and distracting tonight. But I guess that's better than her being dead. '

This next week will be the usual writing, editing (for myself and others), working on getting the cover for the novella done, and solidifying my marketing plan. Oh, and I think I'm supposed to apply to consolidate my student loan debt somewhere in there. One of those things is not as fun as the others. (Or good for the psyche. My God. I have serious debt.)


Thursday, August 2, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: "The Kitchen God's Wife", by Amy Tan

The Kitchen God's WifeThe Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If there's one thing Amy Tan is comfortable with, it's the mother-daughter relationship, particularly between Chinese immigrant mothers and their jaded American-born daughters. "The Kitchen God's Wife" is absolutely no exception. Tan's sophomore novel, "The Kitchen God's Wife" follows on the footstep's of Tan's smash debut "The Joy Luck Club". The easiest way to look at this novel is as essentially the same thing as "The Joy Luck Club", but focusing on one relationship as opposed to four.

The story opens with Pearl, a married-with-two-kids woman approaching middle age and discovering she has MS. Everyone around her knows of her MS except for her mother, Winnie. While Pearl ho-hums over whether or not to tell her mother, Winnie's "best friend", Helen, drops the bomb that she'll tell Winnie if Pearl doesn't. Likewise, Helen threatens Winnie that she'll tell Pearl about Winnie's secrets. Of course, this is all done under a thin guise of Helen pretending to have a brain tumor.

When then happens is that Winnie comes completely clean about her life. The bulk of the story is a framed "story within a story" as Winnie gives her daughter a first hand account of youth and life in pre-Communist China. If you've read "The Joy Luck Club", you can guess about how cheery and delightful it is.

Winnie's horror story of being abandoned by her mother, cast out by her father, married to one of the most evil men to ever grace literature, and one dead baby after another....all while the Japanese are dropping bombs and the Kuomintang take no enough to put anyone with even a hard stomach off. But if there's another thing Tan is great at, it's her voice. The story is told in a very easy conversational style, full of Winnie's random observations, funny digressions, and always laced in the hope that kept her going. Winnie always declares herself as "weak", but anyone reading her story can safely say she's one of the strongest characters to ever survive an Amy Tan plot.

That all said, there are a couple things keeping this book from reaching five glorious stars. First, is the obvious reuse of a story type already seen 4-8 times over in "The Joy Luck Club". The second is a complete lack of empathy for Pearl and where her story is even going. She spends most of her three chapters she gets whining to herself, about her mother, about how she's the queen of passive aggression to everyone around her. Also, as somebody with a mother who has MS, and while I understand this was written over twenty years ago, good Lord. Your life does not revolve around your MS.

My last great gripe is the title and its relevance to the plot and to the characters. All right, that's hyperbole. It does have a place. But it's completely glossed over and relegated to one paragraph towards the beginning of the book. The whole deal with the "Kitchen God" feels like an afterthought on Tan's part. I get the relation of the title to Winnie, the main character, but damn if I didn't care most of the time.

But overall, it's another great piece of fiction and storytelling from one of my favorite authors. And like all her stories, it makes you question your relationship with your family and think "what if" when it comes to wondering if your mother is holding some great secret from you. But as I mentioned before, my mother has MS, like Pearl, and at this point she's probably forgotten any of the great secrets she may have been harboring inside.

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