Friday, February 28, 2014

OUT NOW: "USOTSUKI." A Ren'Ai Rensai: Gaiden Novel

The REN’AI RENSAI: GAIDEN (Another Story) series is a companion piece to the main Ren’Ai Rensai series focusing on alternate views to stories you’ve already enjoyed and couples deviating from the series’ norms.
Approximately 76,000 words
Fate struck Haruka and Kaori one warm spring day not so many years ago. Without question they accepted their destiny, swearing to love each other and to forge a new life built on their unwavering devotion for what they had.

Kaori, the dutiful career woman who always has her eyes on the next stage of her life; Haruka, the easy-going musician who will do anything to support her girlfriend’s ambitions. One of them is lying. Maybe they both are. It’s these amassing lies about their families, their friends, and their jobs that will lead them to discovering who is the biggest “usotsuki,” or liar, between them.

Their relationship might just survive it

"USOTSUKI." takes place from May, 2010 - September, 2013

Amazon - B&N


             The woman picked up the cup with both hands and blew the steam off the top. The way her lips made a delicate O shape, pushing that pink gloss outward, was too enticing for Haruka to stare at directly. She kept her eyes on the white saucer on the counter as the customer sipped the tea… but Haruka made the grievous mistake of looking up as the woman swallowed.
            “Oh, that is lovely,” came a satisfied voice. “How much is it?”
            Haruka told her the price, and the woman quickly made the decision to purchase a small package. She rang her up on the register, taking the woman’s money while trying to keep her hand from passing over those manicured fingers.
            “By the way,” the woman began again, taking her receipt and her bag by the handles, “is that Ephemeral’s latest CD?”
            Haruka’s jaw nearly fell off her face. “You know Ephemeral?” The rock tunes held a steady undercurrent to their conversation, the lead singer’s scratchy vocals belting out a chorus about a crimson-colored love affair.
            The woman nodded. “They’re one of my favorite bands.”
            No way. This dainty looking woman, with the pressed outfit and perfect hair and make-up? She was into rock music like Ephemeral’s? “They are my favorite band right now,” was all Haruka could say.
            “Are they?” The woman clutched her bag to her chest. Her curving chest, as Haruka couldn’t help but notice. This was the kind of day that could only get better or worse, depending on if she lived in a comedy or a tragedy.
            “Yeah… did you hear that they just transferred to a major label?”
            “Absolutely. Everyone in their fan club heard about it.”
            “You’re in their fanclub?” Not even Haruka bothered with that. Sometimes her favorite bands came and went so quickly that she learned to not join fanclubs until she was sure they would be around for a while – or that she would be interested in them. “I only heard about it online, on their website.”
            “Uh huh…” The plastic handles of the bag tumbled in the woman’s hands, stretching as her skin turned red. Is she nervous? Haruka hid her hands behind her back, so the customer couldn’t see her nervous habits, like flicking her fingernails. “Actually,” the woman then continued, with a meek voice, “I have tickets to their show this Saturday. The fanclub only live celebrating their anniversary and getting onto a major label… I have an extra ticket… but nobody to go with…”
            Haruka nodded. Then the words sank in.
            The entirety of her thoughts, feelings, and words were lodged in her throat, blocking her ability to swallow or speak. Is she asking me out? That pretty side-glance, that charismatic smile, those fluttering lashes… this felt like something straight out of a teen drama, where the (bluntly heterosexual) female lead waited for the good-looking hero to ask her out. Does that make me the good-looking hero?
            Behind her, the lyrics from Ephemeral’s song about knee-shaking love played out. “Take the one you love by the shoulders and tell them that you love them.” That was the lead singer’s way of expressing that sort of desire. Haruka, however, would not take this young woman by the shoulders and scream, “Yes!” even though she wanted to. Instead she said, “I hope you can find someone to go with.”
            A flash of disappointment covered the woman’s complexion. “Maybe…” It was replaced with deep, churning red. “Are you available Saturday night?”
            She’s asking me out! Heart pounding so hard that it almost bruised her ribs, Haruka’s mouth went dry. Say yes, idiot!
            “I’m, uh… Douyoubi kana…” Haruka scrambled to remember what she was possibly doing that Saturday. She had to work during the day, and at night her father was hosting a small party with his friends, but… Nothing important. Still, how could she blurt out yes to a complete stranger? She didn’t know this woman from the Empress. There were friends of Haruka’s who would have no problem saying yes – many of them foreign and from countries where being forward like that was permissible. But Haruka still had it pounded into her head that she should be demure, in a fashion. Like this woman before her, who managed to ask her out while looking like a sweet thing who knew not what she did. I am pretty sure she knows.
            “Oh, you must be busy. Please forget I asked.” The woman turned and took a step.
            “No, wait!” Haruka lunged across the counter, one hand extended toward the woman. “I mean… I’m not busy. If you really can’t think of anyone else to go with…”
            The woman glanced over her shoulder, relieved. I almost ruined her day. And almost ruined her own.
            A cell phone came out of the woman’s purse. “Let me get your number… Miss…”
            “Huh? Oh!” Haruka pulled out her phone. “My name is Haruka. Haruka Kitamoto.”
            The woman typed into her phone. “Nice to meet you, Haruka-san. My name is Kaori.”
            Kaori. Haruka remained in a daze as she inputted the woman’s name and number into her phone. That’s a pretty name. It evoked the word for “scent,” perfumed, laced in lavender, like the tranquil moments after a bath when everything was clean. But the wink Kaori gave her as she waved goodbye and left was anything but clean.
            “See you Saturday, Haruka-san,” she said, hand over the doorknob. The bells jingled as the door opened. “I look forward to it.”
            Haruka stood as if living in a dream. When her father returned minutes later, he asked her what was wrong, and all she could say was, “I hope you don’t need me Saturday night.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Another One Bites The Dust

Computer, that is.

So, this past Monday, as I was finishing up the blurb for "USOTSUKI." and its ebook formatting, my dear four-year-old desktop replacement laptop decided it was a good time to shut down for good. (Yeah, great timing. Thanks!) One of the hard drives is dead, and while I COULD just get a new one I guess, that laptop had a bunch of other terrible problems (its love for bluescreening, a dead touchpad, an aversion to all things ~touchpad~) and I am going to get a new one in the next couple of days. I've known this day was coming for a few months now, so it's not a huge surprise, but could it pick a worse time???

What does this mean for the new releases coming down the pipeline? You'll be relieved to know that I have everything backed up in 1000 places (or so it seems) so no super crucial files were lost. While using my backup/travel netbook here to format ebooks and upload them to retailers is definitely not ideal (don't do it! argh the slowness! the tiny screen!) "USOTSUKI." is in no danger from my end in being late to release this Friday.


I lost some files, it seems, regarding the photo guide. Not any of the pictures (but I do get the endless joy of organizing them all over again) but I lost my notes of how I wanted to organize it and my credits I had amassed. This puts me back about another month of putting it together! :( Granted, I am expecting it to come out in the second half of 2014 toward the end of RR's run, but this ain't fun for me!

So, that's the issue over here! Just a gripe and RIP to my dear old laptop that  traveled with me around the world and helped me start up and run my business. A moment of silence. Okay, silence over. Now to go drop a bunch of money on a new one for me to get attached to. Sigh.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cover Reveal For "USOTSUKI."!

The first REN'AI RENSAI: GAIDEN book is due to drop at the end of the month, so it's time to reveal the cover for Valentine's Day! "USOTSUKI." follows Haruka and Kaori's relationship from their first meeting until it catches up with the current REN'AI RENSAI timeline. About three years to cover!

Behold the cover! Blurb to come.

Click to enlarge
Fun fact~ this is the first cover to have both lovers featured since the freebie short "ROUMAN." over a year ago. (It's a total pain finding relevant stock art, let me tell ya.)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Writing and Publishing Prolifically, Part 1: Discipline, Dedication, And The Damn Muse

Courtesy of
(Note: This blog post mostly goes out to other writers, specifically those who are trying to learn to write faster for whatever reason. Of course, readers are invited to enjoy too! Sometimes it's fun finding out what goes on in a writer's brain. And on that note, this is merely what works for ME. This is by no means a guarantee that you'll be writing as much as I do - or more - every day. Take from it what you can!)

I often have readers asking how I am able to put so many works out. Besides what you see under my real name, I also write fiction under another name (with far more releases) and do freelance article writing on the side. On an average day I write anywhere between 2-5 thousand words. (Any more than that and my fingers start falling off. Oops.) I rarely take days off from writing. It helps that it's also my biggest hobby and has always been my biggest creative outlet, so the idea of NOT writing for a day is ridiculous for me. The only times I don't write are when I'm ill or have something else major going on, such as traveling.

Trust me when I say it took me many years to reach a point where I can "pound out" 3,000 words of a story in one sitting. It wasn't until 2-3 years ago that I really became dedicated to writing so much and so frequently. Before that, I was lucky if I could finish Nanowrimo without crying. (I average about 70-100k a month now. Not all words get published.)

I firmly believe that you can't have prolific publishing without prolific writing. But since being able to write prolifically is a huge part of publishing at the same rate, it's a good idea to get that chunk down first. The following tips are not exhaustive. They may not even all work for you. You may try some out and quickly discover that they don't jive with your way of thinking. That's okay! For fun I've added some other tips and suggestions that I personally do not follow because they don't work for me, but are certainly sound and may work for you. Let's get down to the dirty.

Tip 1: Dedicate A Time Just For Writing

We're busy people. Unless you're fortunate to write for a living or don't have many responsibilities, finding time for our hobbies and future endeavors can seem futile. But your brain is a muscle. It responds to habit. If you've ever tried to get fit by exercising, then you have often heard the adage that you need make it a habit. The same is true for writing. Set aside a certain amount of time - an hour is good - in which your life revolves around writing, emergencies excluded. I know many writers with kids who do this in the early morning hours. They get up before the rest of their family and write write write. You can do the same after kids or other family go to bed.

Quickly you'll find which times work best for you. For me, personally, I can't get into the groove of writing until the sun goes down. I've always been more creative during the dark AM hours... BEFORE bed. (I have to stress that. I'm a person you don't talk to until three hours after she's gotten up.) I go to bed around sunrise. As you can imagine, I never fared well with "day jobs" and that thing called "school."

Writing is also a part of my sleep ritual. I take my laptop into bed and type about a thousand words or so before nodding off to sleep.

Tip 2: Keep Writing Even When You Don't Want To

Your allotted hour isn't up, but you just don't wanna do it, huh? Tough cookies. Get back to your Word document and start typing, slugger. I don't know how many times I've sneered at my WIP and said "GO AWAY" because there were 38493893 things I would rather be doing than working on that. But I kept writing. And I can hear the replies now. "But Hildred! My muuuuse!" Hey guess what?

Tip 3: Evict Your Muse Into Outer Space

You don't need her. Or him.  Or it. Or whatever your muse is. Seriously. Your muse is what's keeping you from getting work done half the time. How many times have I seen a writer say, "Oh, I just didn't feel like writing today. Guess my muse wasn't with me!" Yeah because you muse was off cavorting with someone else's brain. You don't need her, boo. All she does is give you excuses. I think growing up a lot of us were presented with the idea that "great" writers were these bastions of artistic integrity in which a muse guided their every word. And we hear a lot of chatter about "my muse made me do it." Here's some cold, hard truth: your muse doesn't exist the way you think she does. Everything you've created? Came straight from your brain, your creativity, your life, your experiences, your environment, and most of all, you. This isn't the same as inspiration, which may spur an idea. But you can't wait until your muse shows up, or inspiration strikes you. If you want to be a prolific writer, you have to put your ass in your seat and start typing some damn words. Get the idea that you need some outside force to help you out of your mind. It's only holding you back.

Tip 4: Allow Yourself To Write Crap

"Crap" in this case are those words, sentences, even whole scenes that end up being cut in edits. You probably know it's gonna be cut but write it anyway. Why? Because you were in the mood when you wrote it. That's fine! What they say about most first drafts being  "crap" is true. Part of the point of editing is getting rid of the crap. Don't get hung up in the middle of writing something because you think, "What's the point of writing this? I'm only gonna cut it!" Write it anyway. One of the worst things you can do while writing is sabotaging yourself with those thoughts. Trust me when I say I speak from experience, yikes.

Tip 5: Take Part In Writing Groups That Focus On Encouragement

Nanowrimo is probably the most popular group of this kind. If you have a hard time committing to certain writing projects, then having a group of other writers cheering you on may be just what you need to get your brain into the role of habit and ritual. I don't participate much at all anymore, but when I was getting serious about being a prolific writer, then Nanowrimo and the like were invaluable resources.

Tip 6: Start With Small Goals

If you're struggling to even write 100 words a day, then start there. Don't shoot for 2,000 right off the bat, because you're probably setting yourself up for failure and subsequent discouragement. Once 100 words is comfortable, then shoot for 200. Then 500. THEN 1000!

Other Tips That May Work For You

1: Turn Off All Distractions

Lock yourself in your room. Turn off the music (or on, if it helps.) Turn off your cell phone. Disconnect from the internet. Just type and type until you can't type anymore. Many writers swear by disconnecting from all distractions of modern life. Personally, it makes no difference to me. I actually prefer having internet access while writing so I can look something up on the fly.

2: Write Out Of Order

If you are really hung up on a scene, skip it and write another one. About half the writers I know write out of order anyway. They write whatever scene they are most inspired to write. This helps them stay on schedule and get work done without frying their brain. I'm the type of writer who has to write EVERYTHING in order. From first scene to last scene. That's me though. It's part tick, part knowing if I write something too much later, I'll have to change a bunch more things in editing and I'd rather avoid that.

3: Switch To a Text To Speech Program

If you have a disability that makes typing troublesome or are just a slow typist, then you may want to check out programs that let you do text to speech. This is especially popular in the article writing world, and has gained traction in the fiction world as well.

4. Outline Like Crazy

Many writers swear by outlining. Some of them even have entire scenes written as "bare bones" and then their "first draft" is filling in the details. Outlining can take the form of saying, "Here's how it will start, here's the middle, and here's how it will end." It can also just be general notes you want to make sure you don't forget. I am not much of an outliner. I have a general idea of what I want in my head as I write and let things go from there.

As you can see, there are many ways to become a more prolific writer! If you've been struggling with writing more, then I hope that at least some of these tips will be helpful to you! Remember that every writer is different, and what may work for me may not work for you. But I do believe in "ass in seat, hands on keyboard" above everything else.

Are you a prolific writer? What advice would you have to give to someone wanting to become a prolific writer?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Weekly Writing Check-In: Wow I Suck At This! (Also, Book News)

Hey, remember when I said I was going to go back to doing this every week? Wow, I lied. Apparently.

Quite frankly, I forgot. Lots of personal things going on (nothing terrible, just busy) and I am working as always. Why don't we just skip to that? The big news this week is that I finished the first draft of another novel. That's always a huge relief! On that note, "USOTSUKI." is in ye olde edits, with a tentative release date of February 28th. Hopefully I should be able to shoot a cover reveal to you next weekend!

One thing I have hidden up my sleeve is a response to a lot  of questions  I get from readers regarding my prolific publishing schedule. That will lead into a series of posts these next couple of weeks detailing how I write so much - let alone publish so much. If you're a fellow writer, I hope you'll be able to get some inspiration from it. If you're a reader, I hope it will at least be interesting to look a bit into my process!

That's all for this week. I'm looking at some potential huge life changes in the coming months, which I am really excited about... and has taken over some of my personal time. I'm not going to reveal anything right now until I am sure about it (no, I'm not moving back to Japan, sigh) but I hope it will be good nonetheless!

Have a good week!