On the weekend, we took it pretty easy. We ate delicious food (Indian, can anyone guess where?!?!) and wandered around Ueno Park. We also had way too much fun with toy vending machines, but I didn't get any pictures of that.
Ueno Park in the (early) spring.
I played Zelda's Lullaby on my ocarina. Nothing happened.
Purple potato soft cream is the best. Plus, this shop matched my glasses!
I took a trip to Japan in March. It was for research purposes (several books I'm working on have a Japanese setting), so I had to take lots of pictures. Yeah, I've been back for nearly a month, but I had to finish writing one book and edit it, then start writing another book. The work of a writer is never done!
But now I have pictures. They're split up sort of chronologically.
Asakusa in the rain.
Ramen lunch set.
So glad I brought the rain boots!
The next day we took a trip to Nikko. There was snow, and it barely got above freezing.
On the train to Nikko.
Night in Ueno. This shrine was down the street from our hotel.
So, in case my blogging absence has been noticed, I will explain. Life happened all year long, and I was crazy busy. Also, I got really lazy when it came to doing anything picture worthy (work, b/c writing is hard!).
But I'm back! For now, and I have the promised photos!
Besides work, there was some craziness that forced me to move to a much smaller (but better) place. So I no longer had room for an office in my home. How do I fix that? I bought a mobile office -- a vintage mobile office, of course!
Say hello to Dot (the truck) and Cordelia (the trailer). These are the photos I took when I picked it up in early December. Then I got sick and the trailer is in storage, so no interior pics for now.
Cordelia is a 1979 Silver Streak. They were similar to Airstreams but built much better. Only 4,000 Silver Streaks were ever built in the 30 years the company was in business, and they were all custom jobs. The inside is a 70's nightmare, but I'm going to redecorate it. Check out my Pinterest board to see what I have in mind.
Me with no make-up and a homemade bear hat.
At a rest stop right before Snoqualmie Pass.
And my new collection! This is my set of vintage toys (because I needed more junk). I have 7 vintage Dream Pets at the moment (1950s and 60's animals from Japan!). So cute! I also love my wind-up elephant and that polka-dot octopus. These friends will decorate Cordelia someday!
I'll post more often, for reals! I have a new haircut (pixie power!) and some awesome new outfits. Mostly vintage inspired with a little kick of librarian chic thrown in.
So my first YA book is out. It's only on Amazon as an ebook and as a print book at the moment (print will be live in a day or two). After three months, it'll be out on other avenues like Barnes and Noble and Kobo.
Felix didn’t want to move to the old house in the countryside. He didn’t want his dad to start dating again – and he definitely did not want to end up in Neblim, the world of the forgotten.
Now if Felix wants to get home, he’ll have to join forces with Esther, a girl who’s been trapped in Neblim over a hundred years though she’s unchanged by time. As the two traverse the strange land filled with witches, crypt keepers and ancient ruins, their own memories slip away. To make matters worse, masked creatures stalk them from the shadows and a sea of mist slides over the entire world, swallowing everything in its wake.
If Felix and Esther don’t unravel Neblim’s secrets before it’s too late, they’ll be trapped in the world of the forgotten forever.
My first YA fantasy book is coming tomorrow, December 3 2013. I guess I should've been pimping this more, but I've been busy writing another book and revising the book I'm releasing in January 2014. The work of a writer is never done.
Plus, I had to drive to Boise on Saturday to see a man about a truck. I've always driven sensible, small and inexpensive cars. And they've always been gray or silver, not by choice, just because that's what they had on the lot and I needed something within my price range. Now that I can be a little more particular, I have a bright red truck in my drive way. A big truck.
It's one hell of a birthday present, but I needed it for my new nomadic lifestyle and the vintage trailer I'm picking up on Wednesday (I'll take pics, promise!).
Now here's a look at the first chapter of Neblim. Enjoy!
Part One: The Girl in White
The house looked like the whole world forgot about it.
That’s probably why their dad liked it so much, Felix thought as he climbed out of the car and walked up the gravel path. Yellow paint flaked off the wood, and the windows were all shuttered and closed, except one upstairs.
The sun reflected off the glass and shone right into his eyes. He put his arm up to block the glare and bit his bottom lip.
They left Chicago for this?
Jack, Felix’s five-year-old brother, ran to the porch and jumped onto the swinging bench. “A swing!” he cried as he rocked back and forth.
Mickey, with a bag over her shoulder, fingered the tip of her braid. Her dark brown hair was immaculate, like always. It was a stark contrast to Felix’s own pale brown hair, which stuck up even when he tried to brush it down.
“They only fixed the house? What about the yard, dad?” she asked and set her lips into a frown. She almost looked like their mom when she did that, and Felix’s chest tightened at the thought.
Mr. Singer shook his head. “A bit of gardening won’t hurt you and Felix now will it? Maybe Jack would even like to help,” he said as he climbed the stairs to the porch and fiddled with his key chain.
Mickey gave Felix a meaningful glance, and he frowned. The grass was long and knotted with weeds. Unruly bushes twisted themselves around the porch. To the right, before being lost to the forest, an ancient hedge of over grown rose bushes grew wild and unforgiving. Jack helping was even less absurd than dad calling it ‘a bit of gardening.’
“How much land is ours?” Mickey asked and plopped next to Jack on the swing.
Jack giggled and tried to make it rock with both of them on it.
Mr. Singer pushed up his wire-framed glasses. “Umm, everything from the drive way up and around. There’s a fence to mark it off, I’m sure. The realtor said something like twenty acres.” He checked his pockets and sighed. “And I don’t have the key. We’re going to have to wait for Ms. Carlton to arrive.”
“But I have to pee,” Jack said.
“You don’t have to touch yourself every time you have to pee,” Mickey said and sighed. “Go in the bushes.”
Felix kicked some gravel with the toe of his sneaker and looked back at the road. It was hidden by the trees. Yeah, this was a lot different from their former suburban neighborhood.
“You gotta pee too?” Jack asked as he unzipped his pants and aimed at the bushes, smiling up at Felix.
Jack had their mom’s smile and the same pale gray eyes. Felix took after their dad with his muddy hazel ones.
“No,” he said and kicked a larger rock into the weeds.
Mr. Singer rested his hand on Felix’s shoulder. “What do you think?”
Felix bit back what he really wanted to say. It sucked. They should be back at home eating pizza in their comfy living room instead of standing in the middle of nowhere looking at a dusty old Victorian house. “It’s fine,” he murmured instead and looked back at the house.
Movement in the upstairs window caught Felix’s attention. A glimpse of something white shifted behind the glass. A moment later, it was gone. He shook his head and rubbed his eyes. Great. Now he was seeing things!
“Good,” Mr. Singer said and smiled, his crow’s feet crinkling. “I think we’ll be happy here. It’s a change, huh?”
Felix nodded and took a deep breath. Was change even the right word for it anymore? Mom was dead. The two-year anniversary would be in three months and they couldn’t even visit her grave now. Dad had a new job, a professor’s position with a tenure track. Of course he couldn’t pass up something like that. So he uprooted all of them out of the city they’d lived in their whole lives, away from their friends and their house, and here they were.
A new house.
A new town.
A new life.
Change didn’t encompass that. This was more like a total reorganization of everything they loved. Wash away the old and bring in the new. Like mom never even existed. Like she’d never lived or–
Felix sighed. Nothing was going to be the same. Ever again.
Not only did dad move them away from everything they knew, but he moved them to a small town Mickey called ‘the back country.’ He even bought that stupid house without their consent.
Felix couldn’t believe it when they drove through town. There was a Main Street that ran right down the center. All the dusty side streets had names like Maple Road and Pine Cone Lane. In all, the whole town was smaller than Bughouse Square. He’d spotted a single restaurant, the school with one building for all grades and a tiny post office, but that was it. When they wanted to go shopping they had to commute to the college town forty-five miles away where dad taught.
At least Mickey had a driver’s license. Without that one piece of hope to cling onto, he’d go crazy.
Felix slumped on the front steps and put a piece of cinnamon gum in his mouth. The late summer air heated his skin, and he moved his head to get out of the unforgiving brightness of the sun. He was about to complain when a little blue car pulled up the driveway, a great dusty trail snaking in its wake. An older woman climbed out, probably in her fifties, wearing a suit that his grandma would have worn. Giant shoulder pads and everything.
Mickey snickered, and Felix stood up while Jack twitched in his sleep on the porch swing.
“Mr. Singer how long have you been here?” she asked and smiled.
“Only about half an hour. I tried you on my cell, but I couldn’t get a signal.”
She nodded and produced a key from her purse. “I know, but that’s the price you pay to live in such a beautiful place. No cell towers close by – you’ll have to get an old fashioned landline out here.”
“It’s worth it,” Mr. Singer said and smiled, hurrying to the door after she’d handed him the key.
The door opened easily, even if it did squeak, and Mickey, Felix and a sleepy eyed Jack wandered inside. The floors were wooden and dark. A thin layer of dust covered everything. It was in good shape for a house of its age, although beyond the fresh paint it still smelled old.
Their dad would buy a place like this, Felix thought. And he’d probably tell them all about the family who originally built it too.
Ms. Carlton left after a bout of final paperwork, and Mr. Singer took them upstairs. “I’m afraid you and Felix will have to take the two smaller bedrooms in the front,” he said to Mickey.
She sighed. “Why?”
“They have their own private balconies and we don’t want Jack to fall,” he said and turned to Felix. “Perfect for your telescope, huh?”
Felix peeked inside and shrugged. “I guess.” That was one thing they didn’t have back in Chicago, a balcony.
Mickey took the larger of the two rooms, and Felix settled for the one she’d left. It would fit his bed, dresser, desk and bookshelf, and that’s all that mattered. Plus, the balcony was good for his telescope. At least he’d be able to see more stars out here in the country than he could in the city. Their mom would have liked that best.
Then the moving van arrived, and Felix spent the rest of the day unpacking. He wasn’t sure how many times he heard his dad say ‘careful’ but felt confident it had been in the hundreds. Anything that didn’t fit in his room proper either got shoved into the closet or relegated to the basement.
When he was finished, Felix stretched his aching muscles and walked to the living room. Mr. Singer must’ve arranged it while Felix unpacked. The room was too large for the couch and loveseat. The fading floral wallpaper made the stains on the cushions and the dents in the coffee table look shabbier than they had in Chicago.
He remembered, briefly, his mom complaining about how old the furniture was before she got sick. Their dad never did anything to update it though. Not then and certainly not now.
Mickey lounged on the sofa while Jack sat on the floor playing with blocks. Someone had opened the windows to air the house out, and Felix leaned on a seal and looked into the twilight. There were no street lamps and the darkness came from the woods and enveloped them, like a great black cloak dotted with stars.
“Oh, I didn’t see you,” Mickey said and glanced at him. “There’s no cable. Dad says we’ll have to get satellite if we want anything way out here in the back country. Even for Internet. Can you believe that? Ugh!”
Mr. Singer laughed as he walked in the front door, a screwdriver in his hand. “I’ll have it installed by the end of the week. Anything else I need to do?”
“Do the washer and dryer have to be in the basement?”
Mr. Singer nodded. “Afraid so, that’s the only place with the hook up. It’s not so bad down there.”
“If you’re a rat,” Mickey said and frowned as her stomach groaned.
“I’m hungry too,” Jack said and pushed over a tower he’d just built.
Felix’s own stomach felt empty. They hadn’t eaten since they’d arrived.
“Right, dinner,” Mr. Singer said and a frown wrinkled his forehead. He’d gotten more wrinkles since mom died. “Do we have any sandwiches?”
Mickey put a pillow over her head. “Ah, why can’t we just order pizza?”
Felix frowned. Back home, Antony’s was just a phone call away. Plus, their mom never would have moved them to the middle of nowhere and then not had any hot food for dinner.
“Boloney!” Jack cried and ran into the kitchen.
Mickey rose from the couch as if she were a queen. Felix followed them both. Boloney? He could hardly wait.
When they were done with their cold boloney and mustard sandwiches, Mr. Singer smiled sheepishly.
“I suppose we’ll take a shopping trip tomorrow,” he said.
Mickey threw her crust into the garbage. “I hope so.” Then she turned to Felix and fixed him with her pale eyes. “You gonna come?”
“Yeah,” Felix said and downed the last of his root beer. What else was there to do?
“Good,” Mr. Singer said, “we’ll make a day of it. Oh, will you put Jack to bed, Mick?”
Mickey rolled her eyes, and Mr. Singer walked upstairs. Avoiding parental responsibilities like always. Felix scowled, but their dad didn’t seem to notice.
“Come on, little man,” Mickey said and pulled Jack away.
Felix sat alone at the small breakfast table. The floorboards creaked as they all walked above him, and he sighed. No one had even bothered to tell him goodnight. Some family they were now.
He stood and rinsed off his dish. Then he looked at the backdoor, right next to the stove. He hadn’t even seen the backyard yet. Was it as bad as the front? Probably worse, but there was only one way to find out. He opened it and stepped outside.
Darkness pressed on him. The only thing that seemed tangible was the house behind him, solid and light. The sky was awash with countless stars, all suns of their own solar systems, all at unimaginable distances from Earth. Why couldn’t he be out there away from everything? He was already alone so he may as well be alone somewhere different. Somewhere shining in the sky, looking down.
Felix squinted into the night. It was no good. He’d have to wait until tomorrow to see what kind of ‘gardening’ it would take to get the backyard into decent condition. No doubt dad wouldn’t lift a finger to help either.
He was about to go back inside when something cut through the darkness. Something white. What was that? Felix took a step further into the backyard. There it was! Something moved through the grass. What had his dad said? There were animals in the woods.
Wolves. Mountain lions. Maybe even bears.
He snorted. You didn’t have to worry about that kind of stuff in the city.
A pale figure rustled in the distance, and Felix’s heart slammed in his chest. Back in Chicago all he had to worry about were stray cats and dogs – not lions and bears. And he didn’t want to become dinner for one of them. He backed toward the door and slammed it, locking it for good measure.
Felix took a deep breath and a breeze, cooler than the warmth of the day, brushed past his cheeks. He shut and locked all of the downstairs windows, just in case.
When he went upstairs Mickey was in her room with the door shut, and Jack was trying to play quietly in the dark even though he was supposed to be in bed. Felix shook his head and let his little brother be. Dad should be the one to deal with it, not him.
He barely got undressed before he fell into bed, exhausted.
* * *
It was dark, but the red digital readout from the clock shone in Felix’s eyes. 2:48. He scowled and rolled over in bed. The house moaned and creaked around him. Jack would probably be afraid, but he could sleep with Mickey if he got scared because he still peed the bed at times.
Then the floorboards creaked. The two windows on either side of the balcony door bathed the room in pale moonlight. His curtains rustled in the breeze, the air cooling the sweat to his skin.
Felix squinted into the darkness.
The click of a shoe on a wooden floor.
He sat up. What was that?
Felix held his breath and listened, but the footsteps stopped.
Probably Jack or Mickey getting up to use the toilet or something. But why did they put on shoes? Letting out a breath, Felix shook his head. It was stupid to be scared of an old house settling. He wasn’t some little kid!
He leaned back in bed and pulled the covers to his chin. Then something moved on the balcony, catching his attention.
Something white and pale.
The door handle turned as if it were in slow motion.
Felix froze. His heart stopped beating, and he gaped as the door creaked open.
A girl stood, looking at him.
Even in the darkness he could see her perfectly. She gave off a soft white glow and wore a white old–fashioned dress and black shoes. Her hair was long, blonde and tied into two braids that hung over her shoulders limply.
I've been lazy when it comes to updating this blog. My life is stupidly busy at times, but I'm back! I'm also trying to mix the writer side of things in with the vintage side of things. I have some really exciting news coming up too (lifestyle wise), but I'm waiting until I can take some awesome pictures. It involves a really cool travel trailer and me deciding to be a nomad for a while.
For now, you'll have to indulge me with a little bit of promotion for my first YA book release.
It comes out December 3, 2013!
Felix gets trapped in Neblim -- a world populated with people, things and places who've been forgotten. With the help of Esther, a girl who's been trapped in Neblim for over 100 years, he has to search for a way home. If not, they'll be stuck in the land of the forgotten forever.
Here's the cover. The origami cranes are plot related.
I had this post planned for last week. Didn't happen. But it's here now! We went to the Topkapi Palace on our third day in Istanbul. It was the seat of the government and home of the Sultan for some time and had some amazing architecture. I'm setting a book in an alternative reality of Istanbul with a lot of stuff happening at the palace. I was super excited to look around.
Inside the palace courtyard.
Outside Hagia Sophia.
The royal library.
I like pretty walkways.
Inside the Harem Apartments, where the Sultan and the concubines lived.