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Japan, Bender, Moving Forward

I recently got back from a 10-day solo journey around Japan, and it was an utterly fantastic experience. I had never traveled alone internationally before, so it was definitely quite the adventure. Japan was just as beautiful as I imagined, and I feel blessed that I got to visit, and see so much in so little time. It was the perfect country to explore on my own, and luckily, I also met up with some friends and made some new ones along the way, creating the perfect balance. I stayed in Tokyo and Kyoto, and also took a day trip to Nara, where rambunctious deer run around and try to eat everything and anything out of your hands. Kyoto in particular was a dream, where the abundance of gardens, temples, and shrines constantly delighted and surprised. It truly was such an extraordinary place. Here are a few photos from my trip:

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Kinkaku-ji – Temple of the Golden Pavilion – Kyoto

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A baby deer saying peekaboo in Nara

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A photo of me before the Great Buddha at Tōdai-ji, Nara

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The breathtaking orange gates at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto

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Japanese girls in kimonos at the Bamboo Forest

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Bright lights at night in Tokyo

Now I’m back in Seattle and looking forward to the holidays and the rest of what this year has in store. While I was in Japan I got the results from my Kindle Scout campaign for Bender. I was really happy with how it performed, it got nearly two-thousand views, and was in the Hot & Trending section over 65% of its entire run, including 16 days out of 30 where it was trending for a full 24-hours straight.

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Nevertheless, Amazon decided to not offer me a publishing contract, without giving any reason why. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty bummed. I felt like my novel performed well in the campaign, a lot of people voted, and I thought it had a decent chance. But seeing as Amazon doesn’t really give any real details on how they select the novels they publish through the Kindle Scout program, I also knew they’re pretty selective, regardless of how many votes you get. I’m still glad I tried, and at least a bunch of people know about the book now who wouldn’t have found out about it any other way. I probably won’t ever try again with Kindle Scout though, to be honest. It’s a lot of work to promote your book, and it was a bit disappointing to not get selected, and not be given any reason why. Luckily for me, I found this information out while I was eating lunch at a cafe in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo, so I didn’t allow myself to be too upset about it for long.

I’ve had ten different agencies ask for the full manuscript of Bender, and I’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback. I’ve gotten way closer to landing an agent than I ever did with my first two novels, but alas, as it stands now, I am still agentless. I am still waiting to hear back from two agents who have the full manuscript, but seeing as they have had it for a while, and haven’t said anything yet to me, I don’t really have my hopes up. Thus, it appears I will probably be publishing Bender through Maple Lane Books again. Which really, I suppose is fine, although it just bums me out. Not because of money, but because I really would love to have a bigger audience for my writing. That’s what I care about most of all. I’m really proud of this book, and hopefully a lot of people will read it.

I feel my writing has improved a lot since my first novel, and I hope that it continues to do so. I’m not going to give up. I’m going to keep writing until one day, I get not only an agent, but a major book deal. Perhaps it’s just going to take longer than I want it to. I got my first proof of Bender in the mail yesterday, and I’m super pleased with the cover and how everything turned out. Here’s the front cover:

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As it stands now, the target publication date is November 22nd. I’m excited for it to come out, and to finally have this project published. I started it in December of 2014, and finished the first draft in May of 2015. So I feel like its been incubating forever. I’m excited not only to hear feedback from others, but also about the fact that now I feel I can start working on other writing. It’s hard for me to pour any writing energy into something new when I feel my current project is still not fully finished. Publication is indeed, the last step.

I’ve had the idea for what my fourth novel is going to be for over a year now, and while I am excited to start it, whenever that may be, I also don’t feel rushed. I really want the next book to be the one that makes it, so I want to take my time with it. There are still a lot of major plot points of the book I need to figure out, and I’m constantly tweaking the main characters’ identities. It’s going to be set in the Pacific Northwest, in one town in particular. And seeing as I still have yet to go there, I feel I need to visit before I can truly begin. In the meantime, I think I might try my hand at writing some more short stories, which I haven’t done since 2014. I only really have one vague idea for one at this point, but I might try to write like five or six, and just see what happens. Even just getting a short story published in a literary magazine would be fantastic. We will see what happens. I’ll be sure to update you with news about Bender as it gets closer to publication date. Until then…thanks for reading.

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