Almost over jet lag!

I’m finally beginning to get over jet lag a week after coming back from Tokyo⁠—by next weekend I figure I’ll be back to normal. 🙂

Sensō-ji, in Asakusa. This is Tokyo’s oldest temple.

This trip was so I could take a few classes for my day job, so while I did have to do work-related things, I also got to do some fun touristy things⁠—and didn’t have to pay for the travel expenses. 🙂 The best part of the trip was spending time with my friend Mike M, who moved to Tokyo seven years ago. We’ve seen each other in Colorado a few times since he moved, but it had been a while, and we had a ton of things to catch up on. He took me on a whirlwind tour of the city, which was super fun. His wife met us later in the day and we went to Roppongi Inakia for an amazing dinner. It was a good thing they both speak Japanese because I wouldn’t have known to order half the dishes they picked!

Tokyo Tower

One of the more memorable adventures on this trip was walking to Tokyo Tower and back with a few of my co-workers. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt, which is right next to Mori Tower, a 54-story skyscraper that our company’s office is in. On the last evening of class we walked over to Tokyo Tower, which is a communications tower designed in the style of the Eiffel Tower. We started to walk back toward the hotel and stop at a restaurant along the way, but decided to take a slightly different route. We could see Mori Tower, so we knew which direction to head in. What we didn’t realize is that there are two Mori Towers! Ours was Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, but at some point we accidentally started heading toward Toranomon Hills Mori Tower, which is 52 stories tall and also has the words “Mori Tower” on the top. Oops. 🙂 Once we got there and realized what had happened we looked at the map and found it was about a 40 minute walk back to our hotel, so we took a cab back. The next day one of my co-workers realized she actually had taken a small video clip that showed both towers, but none of us noticed this at the time. 🙂

Our last day was a team building day for the smaller group I work in, which meant we got to be tourists for the day. We went to Yanaka, a neighborhood that escaped the bombings in WWII, and is considered one of the more traditional areas of Tokyo. There’s a cemetery, temples, shrines, and lots of shops. One of my favorite shops was Kanekichien, a tea shop where I bought tea (hojicha and genmaicha⁠, which are both very, very good—I wish I’d bought a few other varieties as well). My other favorite shop was Isetatsu, a store founded in 1864 that sells chiyogami, a kind of paper printed with colorful patterns, and created with traditional wood block printing methods. (Yes, I bought one, and will get it framed. :)) I also bought some beautiful pieces of furoshiki cloth. This is an approach to using pieces of cloth to wrap things in an artful way. We’ll see how mine turn out…

Torii at Nezu Shrine

The weather forecast called for rain on our tourist day, and I thought: pshaw! How much can it possibly rain? Apparently enough for me to become completely soaked. 🙂 Fortunately the lady at Isetatsu put a plastic bag over my shopping bag, so the papers I purchased didn’t get wet. I finally stopped at a 100 Yen store and bought an umbrella. Our last stop before heading back to enjoy a fabulous dinner at Roku Roku was Nezu Shrine. I really wanted to visit this shrine and see the path of vermilion torii, and they were just as neat to see as I’d hoped. There were only a few other tourists there, probably because it was raining :), which made it feel even more special it was easy to get a good look at everything without having to peer around other people.

Frogs.

Saturday morning I wandered around a little on my own, and stopped by two shrines that were close to our hotel: Juban Inari Shine, which has two frog statues to honor the legend of a giant frog that extinguished the flames of a great fire. This shrine also has a statue of a boat containing the Seven Lucky Gods. These gods ride on their takarbune (treasure ship) at New Year’s and stop in ports and bestow gifts on those lucky enough to come across them.

Juban Inari Shrine

A lot more happened on the trip—so much that I’ve started making notes while I still remember everything. It was really, really fun, and I’d love to go back again someday.

Now I’m back in the real world, and hopefully I really am finally adjusting back to Colorado time. 🙂 I’m wrapping up the last few details for the next volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries. Things are going well, although my computer died today 🙁 so instead of finalizing the book cover, I ordered a new computer and set up a temporary profile on my husband’s computer. The good thing is that because I keep almost everything backed up and/or in the cloud, it was surprisingly quick to set things up. I was super organized and made notes on what I set up, since I’m going to have to repeat this when my new computer arrives.

I do have new short story that came out last month: “After,” which appears in issue 002 of Vagabond magazine. My story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where most of humanity has been wiped out by a virus. But don’t worry, it’s a (mostly) uplifting story!

The best part about my trip was coming back to Rosie and Jasper. 🙂

 
 

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I’m ba-a-ack!

I haven’t actually been gone, I’ve just been extra super busy—which is saying a lot, since I’m usually super busy. 🙂 I’m so happy to be working with my virtual assistant, Adriel Wiggins, and her team! They’ve been a tremendous help, and I’m still handing things off to them, so they’re going to be even more help. Plus Adriel is not only super organized, she’s also smart and funny and has great ideas. Hooray!!!

Quite a few people have asked me what kind of work Adriel does for me, so here’s a quick overview. She’s proofed an audio book and the audio revisions (I’d still be listening to the first version…), and is going to collaborate with me to get this set up on Amazon and friends. She and her team (because Adriel needs assistants too!) have formatted a bunch of promotional materials for me, are working on formatting the manuscripts for the next anthology (things like making sure each story uses the same style of dashes, ellipses, etc.), and will put together the resulting ebook and print files. Adriel has set up a number of projects using Asana, a project/task-tracking tool, and I’m so happy with what she put together that I’m now using Asana for the projects I work on with my friend and co-editor DeAnna Knippling as well. And there’s more! But that should give you a sense of how much Adriel has helped me out since I hired her in April.

Jasper trying out the new acupuncture room at our vet clinic. He was the first client to use the room. 🙂

In dog news, Jasper has been getting either acupuncture or a massage once a week, and his back is clearly feeling better! He even occasionally does a downward dog stretch, which is so great to see. He’s not as stretchy as Rosie, of course, but still!

I planted the first batch of herbs in my garden on Saturday, just in time for a frost advisory. I covered everything that night, but then gave up after that. It’s snowing right now…yes, it’s May… 🙂 This weather is ridiculous! I think the herbs will probably be okay, but I’m glad I held off on planting the peppers. The plants growing in the rocks next to my raised bed are borage volunteers, seeded by last year’s borage. I’m torn between pulling them (since there really aren’t supposed to be plants growing in the rocks) and leaving them (since I love borage, and so do the bees). Thanks to our wintry weather I don’t have to make my decisions just yet.

I have so many projects (one might say too many, but I wouldn’t listen if one did) going on right now that it’s a good thing I’m using Asana to track everything, or I might forget something important. 🙂 Innocence and Deceit, the second anthology in the Ever After Fairy Tales series, will be available in paperback any day now (it’s already out as an ebook). Water Faeries, the fourth volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries, will be out in June (in both ebook and print—from here on out, I’ll release both formats at the same time). DeAnna and I are about to begin editing stories for the next issue of Amazing Monster Tales, Monster Road Trip, and the first issue will be out in paperback soon. I’m reviewing stories for a few more anthologies; I won’t start editing them until June, but am going through the submissions now. I’m putting together a faerie-themed ebook bundle which will be available on StoryBundle in November, working with Adriel to get the audio and print versions of Bundle Up! released, and am gearing up to work on edits for my novel Entangled by Midsummer (which will be released as part of the bundle in November). This past week I wrote one non-fiction article, revised another, and participated in the quarterly Uncollected Anthology conference call. and I’m probably forgetting something, but as you can see it’s kind of hard to keep it all in my head. 🙂

 
 

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Organization and the untrained eye

I continue to be completely thrilled with my virtual assistant, Adriel. Not only is she taking over tasks that I can do—if I want to do them instead of write, but she’s also super organized, which is so awesome!!!

If you saw my office—which at the moment I’d call “reasonably tidy”—you might question my organizational abilities, and perhaps chuckle if I mentioned that I consider organizing one of my superpowers. 🙂 I’m organized in swaths, so I have very detailed (and colorful!) spreadsheets, my file cabinets are organized, and my books are ordered on the shelves. (Okay, so I have more books than shelves…but still.) I tend to take on too many things, or to procrastinate on a project I know will be a lot of work. For example, one of my projects is to scan piles and piles of paperwork so I can get rid of the hard copies. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of paper, but I’ve been working on this for I don’t know how many months. 🙂 And, of course, I only have so much time available, since in addition to writing and my publishing business I have a day job and two cute, fluffy border collies to entertain.

At the end of the day, while I may not appear super organized to the untrained eye, I actually am—at least in spots. 🙂 So seeing how organized Adriel is has not only made me happy, it’s also making it a lot easier to turn over tasks to her because I feel really comfortable with her. Yay!!!

Having an assistant is a time-saver, but it also means that I have to organize my files even more and write up how-tos for things where I have a specific approach I’d like followed. So there is a fair bit of time and effort on my part right now which is taking time away from other projects, but it’s a one-time investment, and is totally worthwhile.

Speaking of other projects, I just had a story accepted for the second issue of Vagabond Magazine, which is edited by Chuck Anderson and Jim LeMay of Mad Cow Press. 🙂 I wrote the first draft of this story about five years ago and have wanted to finish it ever since, but there was always another project that was higher priority. When Chuck and Jim said they were putting together an issue with an apocalypse theme, I got super excited, and I’m so happy I had an excuse to finally finish the edits on this story! I realize writing a post-apocalyptic story doesn’t sound like me, but hey—I’m full of surprises! 🙂

In addition to editing, writing how-to documents, and finishing yet another jigsaw puzzle (I think this is my 8th of the year…but it could be the 9th…), I’m studying Japanese! I’m going on a trip to Tokyo for my day job, which seems crazy, but there it is. I figured if I’m going to be in Japan for a week, I can at least learn how to ask questions that I won’t understand the answers to. 🙂 So far the most interesting thing has been that I’ve recognized some words and phrases as having been used in the television series The Man in the High Castle. This was quite a surprise because I didn’t know what the words meant when I last watched the show, and had no idea that they’d stuck enough in my memory enough for me to recognize them months afterward.

And last: in dog news, Jasper is getting massages and acupuncture on alternating weeks, and he’s been feeling his oats! An extra special thanks to our vet Lacey Jones (Jasper’s acupuncturist) and Mary Kennedy (Jasper’s massage therapist) for helping him feel so much better!!!

 
 

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