Monthly Archives: July 2018

Wednesday Words #186 (7/18/2018)

Welcome to Wednesday Words!  Every Wednesday I will post some sort of prompt for a flash fiction piece.  The prompt will go live just after midnight Eastern time.

The prompt might be a picture, or it might be a list of things to include in a story, or maybe a phrase or a question or something from a “news of the weird” type thing, or a… who knows?

After that, it’s up to you.  But if you do use the prompt to write a bit of flash fiction (say, 500 words or so) I’d love to see what you came up with, so comment below with a link to where it is on your blog (or on WattPad or wherever).

(And a pingback to the post here where you found the prompt would be appreciated but isn’t necessary.)

Oh, and this isn’t a contest or anything.  It’s just a (hopefully) fun thing for all concerned.

And, hey, if it inspires more than 500 or so words, run with it!

This week’s prompt:

demons
a pizza party
a missing key

And, as always, I’d love to see what you come up with!

 

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Sunday Snippet, July 15, 2018

I’m posting from Hedge House, a nearly completed first draft. Finishing it is going to be my project for Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I’m not quite sure whether to classify it as paranormal or urban fantasy; the two of them tend to blur together a lot for me.

I’m picking up from last week, with Cara checking into a somewhat unsavory motel.

 

“I’d like a room, please.”

“How long do you need it for?”

“I don’t know. Maybe a week, maybe just tonight.”

“You alone?”

“I’m here for my grandmother’s funeral.”

“Grandmother’s funeral?”He seemed confused for a moment as he reoriented his opinion of her. “Belle Hawthorne?”

She nodded. “I’m Cara Hawthorne.”

He handed her a key, his demeanor changing. “The room on the end. I’ll make sure not to put anyone in the room next to you so you won’t be disturbed.”

“Thank you.” She pulled her wallet out of her purse and handed him her credit card but he waved it off.

“No charge for you. Your grandmother was loved by just about everyone in town. We’re all grieving with you.”

 

Find more great reading
at the Sunday Snippet group.

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Rainbow Snippet for 7-14-2018

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Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, bloggers, and readers to gather once a week and share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).   Check out all the other awesome snippets by clicking on the picture above.

Still posting from Book Five of the Academy of the Accord (fantasy) series that I have been (and will be) working on for forever.

I’m picking up from last week, where Draethlen asked Wellhym if he and Kordelm were lovers.

(For those just tuning in, Kordelm and Wellhym are warriors, captains at The Academy of the Accord, and they are lovers. Draethlen is a 10 year old cadet rescued from an orphanage where he was sexually abused by the headmaster.)

Picking up directly from last week’s snippet.

Draethlen forced himself to think. It wasn’t easy when fear seemed to have him paralyzed, but his mind drifted back to the bath house, to the things Wellhym had told him.

“Be-because that wasn’t love,” he said softly. “That was hatred.”

“Exactly,” Wellhym said. “And there’s more.” He leaned forward, looking into Draethlen’s eyes. “Did you want to do what the headmaster made you do?”

 “No. I hated it.” He held Wellhym’s gaze for a long moment. “You – you said that neither of you would ever force someone, that forcing someone – male or female – was wrong.”

Wellhym’s smile was all the praise he needed.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Answer Is

142.

That’s how many words I have for Camp NaNoWriMo so far. And that means I have to write 1572 words per day to finish on time. I can do this! That’s less than the 1667 words per day for NaNoWriMo in November.

Only it’s going to be more than that because I’m not going to get 1572 words written today before I have to go to work. I need to finish this blog post, set up my Rainbow Snippet post for tomorrow, and catch up on last week’s Rainbow Snippet blog hop.

Hopefully I can get some writing done at work tonight. (Maybe even that 1572 words I need to aim for so I’m not falling too much further behind.) I’m going to try, at any rate, and at least I seem to be regaining energy and interest and want to get back to it instead of avoiding it like it’s housework or something.

Outside of that, we’re in for another heat wave this weekend, with temps near 90F so tomorrow we’re going to go look at air conditioners.

Oh, and the grass still needs cut. I just haven’t had time to do it before work. Maybe I can stay up long enough when I get home tomorrow morning to get at least part of it knocked down.

 

 

 

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Wednesday Words #185 (7/11/2018)

Welcome to Wednesday Words!  Every Wednesday I will post some sort of prompt for a flash fiction piece.  The prompt will go live just after midnight Eastern time.

The prompt might be a picture, or it might be a list of things to include in a story, or maybe a phrase or a question or something from a “news of the weird” type thing, or a… who knows?

After that, it’s up to you.  But if you do use the prompt to write a bit of flash fiction (say, 500 words or so) I’d love to see what you came up with, so comment below with a link to where it is on your blog (or on WattPad or wherever).

(And a pingback to the post here where you found the prompt would be appreciated but isn’t necessary.)

Oh, and this isn’t a contest or anything.  It’s just a (hopefully) fun thing for all concerned.

And, hey, if it inspires more than 500 or so words, run with it!

(This week’s prompt may need a bit of an explanation. I’ve been playing a very addictive game called GardenScape and sometimes your task is to find a certain number of gnomes. I got stuck on a level because I couldn’t get them all found before I ran out of moves and lives, then I hit a level where I got all the gnomes but something else was giving me problems. It really has nothing to do with a certain dwarf’s phobia — even if said certain dwarf is my favorite brother of my favorite dwarf.)

Anyhow…

This week’s prompt:

For once it wasn’t the gnomes that were the problem.

And, as always, I’d love to see what you come up with!

 

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Too Tired

Well, so much for the weekend.

Friday night was a total bust. I didn’t get a chance to sit down and chill until 2:30 (night shift is 10:00 pm until 6:30 am), at which point I couldn’t really chill as I still had over half an hour’s worth of paperwork to do to get caught up on the first half of the night. And the interruptions just kept on rolling until suddenly it was time to get everything ready for day shift.

Saturday night was better but I hadn’t slept very well, had a killer headache, and no focus.

Last night I finally managed to get some words written but in long hand and I haven’t had a chance to type them up yet to see where I stand. I know it’s not much but at least it’s better than it was.

Today? Today has been my only day off until Saturday and it’s been worse than Friday night, as evidenced by the fact that it’s 10:30 pm as I’m writing this.

So far today (after getting up a little after 2:00 this afternoon and running on about 5 hours of sleep, maybe a little less) I have done two loads of laundry, washed dishes, took my dog (and myself) to the chiropractor for adjustments, drove through McD’s (Riley got a cheeseburger), and took Riley to visit residents at the nursing home where I used to work.

Came home, sat down to relax a bit until the temperature dropped a little then went out to mow the lawn which is waaaaaayyy overdue.  (If hay is growing as fast as our grass is the farmers should get half a dozen cuttings this year.) (That’s a bit of hyperbole – three is the maximum I’ve seen.)

Anyhow, I couldn’t get the mower started. Engine was primed, blades weren’t in the grass, engine wouldn’t even try.

Banged mower down on sidewalk. Nope. Blades not fouled.

Checked gas tank.

Empty.

Swore.

A lot.

Gas can was also empty so I went to get gas and by the time I got back it was too dark to see to fill the tank.

So, the grass still needs cut and I still have to type yesterday’s written words and I’m too tired to care.

And there you have it. The life of a nurse: too tired to care.

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Sunday Snippet, July 8, 2018

I’m posting from Hedge House, a nearly completed first draft. Finishing it is going to be my project for Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I’m not quite sure whether to classify it as paranormal or urban fantasy; the two of them tend to blur together a lot for me.

She had expected the town to look different, somehow, but as she drove down the main street she felt as if she had never left. The buildings were still the same, as were most of the businesses. She almost stopped to see if Rex’s Drugs still had its soda fountain, but she was tired and wanted to get settled and call Jacob to let him know she was there.

The Starlight Inn was seedier than her memory painted it. To a seven year old it had been a place of mystery; now it was just a run down motel that saw very little business other than an occasional tryst, teenagers getting drunk, and the overflow of alumni and families from the university in another town on homecoming weekend.

The inside was even bleaker and less inviting than the exterior and Cara reminded herself that she was only here for a little while as she tried not to identify the odors that assaulted her.

“Can I help you?”

The man eyed her up in a way that made her grateful for the self defense and martial arts classes she’d taken.

 

Tentative Blurb:

When Cara Hawthorne returns to the childhood home she had been torn away from twenty years earlier, she thinks it will be to do nothing more than settle her grandmother’s estate and return to her job as a junior lawyer at a prestigious law firm in Tulsa.

But every nook and cranny of the house and gardens unearths long-buried memories, and when the town’s mayor sets his sights on her and the property she finds herself caught up in a centuries old battle with powers she has only barely begun to understand.

 

 

Find more great reading
at the Sunday Snippet group.

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Rainbow Snippet for 7-7-2018

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Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, bloggers, and readers to gather once a week and share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).   Check out all the other awesome snippets by clicking on the picture above.

Still posting from Book Five of the Academy of the Accord (fantasy) series that I have been (and will be) working on for forever.

I’m picking up from last week, where Draethlen asked Wellhym if he and Kordelm were lovers.

(For those just tuning in, Kordelm and Wellhym are warriors, captains at The Academy of the Accord, and they are lovers. Draethlen is a 10 year old cadet rescued from an orphanage where he was sexually abused by the headmaster.)

 

“Go on,” Wellhym said. “There’s more on your mind.”

“Why… If – if the two of you love men, then why haven’t you… why haven’t you made me…” He couldn’t seem to get the words out around the fear that gripped him.

“Why haven’t we made you do what the headmaster made you do?”

Draethlen nodded miserably. 

“You know the answer to that, Drae. Tell me.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Camp Progress

(Or the lack thereof.)

It’s Friday, six days into Camp NaNoWriMo, and I have written exactly zero words.

The weather has been hot and miserable (we had a heat index in the triple digits on Wednesday, which is almost unheard of here) and I think my mind melted.

That’s not to say that I haven’t been THINKING about writing, because I have. I have some hastily scribbled notes about stuff to go back and add to what’s already written. I think I’m going to end up with a very disjointed 30,000 words by the end of the month.

Anyhow, the weather has cooled off some so my energy level is picking up. And I’m on night shift this weekend so I’m hoping to make up some lost time (and words) between now and Monday.

I doubt I’ll get all 9k written by then, but I’ll be happy with 6000 words. Or even one thousand at the rate I’m going.

(At the rate I’m going, even one word would be progress!)

 

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Fireworks and Stolen Kisses (Release Blitz)

 

Book Blurb:

No. Eating. Pixies.

At the annual Global Lijun Alliance conference in Tokyo, Tally Bastille makes the first impulsive decision of his life. Others perceive his uktena—the enormous legendary serpent that’s his dual-spirit—as a threat, which makes him all too aware that he frightens fellow lijun. But an encounter with a passionate, obviously not-straight otter lijun one evening convinces Tally that he’s found his Em’halafi, his destined match. Tally is determined to barrel through all obstacles to make the match happen, including the otter’s conservative, traditional family.

Trained as a Satislit—a bride-son—Haru Tanaka chafes at the strict boundaries set around their life. They rebel against their clan’s constant attempts to force an arranged match and wish desperately for someone who will love them. At the conference, Haru is horrified to learn their family has accepted an offer for them, one too lucrative for the clan to refuse. Not only has the Urusar sold Haru to a stranger, but the lijun is also a giant snake and one who believes in the tired old superstitions regarding Em’halafi. Threatened with banishment if they refuse, Haru has no choice but to marry the wealthy American serpent.

Back in Tally’s home in Wisconsin, Haru and Tally must navigate both the widening gulf between them as they realize how much they’ve misunderstood about each other, and the tricky politics of the lijun clan Tally leads. Murder, intrigue and increasing hostility threaten to tear apart the little town of Wadiswan and the arranged marriage they’ve barely managed to begin.

Buy Links:

Publisher: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/fireworks-and-stolen-kisses

Publisher 2: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/fireworks-and-stolen-kisses-print

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Fireworks-Stolen-Kisses-Lijun-Book-ebook/dp/B07D36WR8P

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fireworks-Stolen-Kisses-Lijun-Book-ebook/dp/B07D36WR8P

Amazon CAN: https://www.amazon.ca/Fireworks-Stolen-Kisses-Lijun-Book-ebook/dp/B07D36WR8P/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fireworks-and-stolen-kisses-angel-martinez/1128700794?ean=9781786516701

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/fireworks-and-stolen-kisses

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/fireworks-and-stolen-kisses/id1385375258?mt=11

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40167839-fireworks-and-stolen-kisses

QueeRomance Ink Link: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/fireworks-stolen-kisses/

Series Blurb:

From the time humans became a unique species, the lijun have lived among us. Dual spirit beings able to change at will between their human halves and their animal halves, at different periods throughout history lijun have been revered, feared and reviled. Modern lijun realized some time ago that their survival in the human world depends upon successful, peaceful integration—a partnership with humans who are unaware of their existence. But in the little town of Wadiswan, Wisconsin, tensions between rival factions run high, escalating to the point where the secretive lijun community risks exposure. The survival of lijun everywhere may depend on which side wins.

 

 

Author Name: Freddy MacKay and Angel Martinez
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Release Date: Tuesday, June 26 2018
Format: Paperback, eBook
Is This Book Romance?: Yes
ISBN: 978-1-78651-670-1
ASN: B07D36WR8P
Price: 4.99 ebook, 13.49 print
Story Type: Novel >50k
Word Count: 84,925
Cover Artist: Emmy Ellis

Genres: urban fantasy, romance, multicultural
Pairings: M/NB
Tropes: arranged marriage, culture clash, destined match

Keywords/Categories: bisexual, non-binary, Native American, Japanese, business man, otter, uktena

 

Series Title: Lijun

Position (Number) in Series: 1

Necessary to Read Previous Books: No

Other Books in Series Available for Review?: No

Excerpt:

Back straight, back straight. Is this person my social equal? Tally offered a futsurei to be safe while the evening’s host introduced him as the new Urusar from Wisconsin. He wished Dad had come with him. As hard as he tried to think of this as just another business conference, the names and places had started to run together. Back home, he might have reached for the worry stone in his pocket. Here, that might be rude.

The ballroom was gorgeous, with the doors to the terrace rolled back to reveal the view of Mt. Fuji. Tables groaning with food lined the walls. Arrangements of blood-red flowers decorated every table. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, though that might have been an illusion created by nerves.

“Wisconsin?” the middle-aged woman inquired with reserved decorum. “That is the state of cheese, yes?”

“Very true.” Damn it, he’d forgotten her name. She was the Uruma, the village mother, to one of the larger cities to the south. “Though thankfully the state is more than just cheese.”

She laughed politely, turned to greet another conference-goer, and Tally hoped it had been a dismissal. He shouldn’t have felt out of his element. Employees depended on his decisions all day, every day. Meetings were his lifeblood, or at least took up most of his life. Not to mention these were his people. The perfectly draped Global Lijun Alliance banner dominated the front of the room—there for anyone, human or lijun to see. For the humans, it was simply a trade organization. For the lijun, it was survival, a shared bond of secrecy and a way for lijun communities to thrive.

Except Tally would always stand outside, which simply made diplomacy that much more important. When his father had gleefully announced his retirement as Urusar, village father of their community in Wadiswan, Tally knew his duty. He’d been groomed for it all his life. He’d taken up the leadership mantle with the sobriety and respect it deserved, even though some of their lijun neighbors had whispered about another deadly serpent leading them.

Uktena.

Tally couldn’t escape his heritage or his lijun type, but he was here at this conference to continue his father’s work—to ensure his community thrived, that the lijun under his care were safe, and to fight against the ancient prejudices that branded him as dangerous.

He retreated to one of the buffets to nibble on sectioned oranges with his back to the wall so he could observe. Not everyone at the welcome dinner was as bound by formalities. The younger attendees had dressed in a variety of styles and more or less appropriately. Nearer the terrace, a young woman in a leather miniskirt tapped her boot heel to music only she could hear. On the other side of the room, a handsome young man in a strange mix of business formal and rebel-casual lounged against the bar. The suit jacket and expensive jeans fit in well enough. The faded T-shirt and rainbow suspenders? Not so much.

Tally thought he would introduce himself to this interesting person, but an older gentleman beat him there and spoke urgently to the young man, who made an impatient gesture and stalked off.

Too bad. He’d been an…otter? Tally surreptitiously flicked his tongue out to taste the air. Difficult to tell in such a large gathering, but he was sure he was right. Something beyond the rainbow suspenders drew him to the otter, a yearning that he didn’t want to deny. He was about to follow when someone touched his arm.

“Herr Bastille, is it not?” A man with flame-red hair, an educated European accent and a calculating smile stood at his elbow. “I am Gerhard Klug. I understand you are a hotelier?”

Tally offered his hand rather than a bow and smiled in return. “Good to meet you. Tal-tsu’tsa Bastille. Everyone calls me Tally. Yes, I run the family business back home. Several properties.”

“Good. Good.” Herr Klug put an arm on his shoulder and steered him toward the bar. “I’m hoping we could discuss a possible business arrangement.”

“I’m always interested in discussion, Herr Klug.” Tally signaled the bartender. “What are you drinking?”

“Gerhard, please.” The fox lijun laughed. “You’ll make me feel old. And they have a pear brandy here that is good.”

Tally ordered the brandy and a whiskey sour for himself. Yes, Gerhard was obviously here to woo him, but Tally didn’t like being put at a disadvantage right from the start, even with something as small as who paid for drinks. “What is it you do?”

“I have glassworks,” Gerhard said as he hopped onto the stool next to Tally’s. “My family has been in glass for several centuries. While we have commercial lines, we have sites dedicated to custom work, as well.”

Tally had the oddest image pop up at the phrase in glass of little foxes running about under cheese domes. Of course he knew what Gerhard meant and the more focused part of his brain perked up at the mention of custom work. “Oh? What sort of custom work?”

Gerhard pulled a small tablet from inside his suit jacket. “For restaurants. For hotels. Erholungsort…what is the word? Resorts.”

Tally answered the fox’s calculating look with a soft laugh. “I have the feeling you’ve brought a portfolio. Please, let’s have a look.”

“Thank you. It’s very kind of you to give me a hearing.” Gerhard opened the tablet between them as their drinks arrived. “We have contracts across Europe. This first set is work we recently added for a winter resort in Sweden.”

They leaned in together to inspect the photos, Tally nodding and asking questions here and there. The images showed wine glasses, water goblets, tumblers and beer glasses in beautiful shapes and colors, with the property name and logo etched discreetly into each piece. Tally particularly admired the champagne flutes with the snowflake-shaped feet. Lovely, though he gave no outward indication that he reacted to any one set more than another.

When they reached the end of the photo samples, Tally sat back, sipping at his whiskey and making Gerhard wait. “It’s a very interesting thought. Though I imagine a certain percentage of that pretty glassware vanishes from the properties as souvenirs.”

“Ha. I’m sure some of it does. Though not offering the prettiest glasses in the guest rooms most likely reduces that number.”

Gerhard’s eyes twinkled as he laughed and if Tally had been someone who craved casual sex, Gerhard might have been a candidate, but his heart would only be half in it. The other half had already left the room with the handsome otter. The suspenders were a beacon, a flare sent up, and Tally was going to speak with the otter of definitely-not-straight orientation that evening if it killed him.

“I’d like you to work up some samples with the resort manager at Sapphire Lake.” Tally didn’t mention immediately that the manager was one of his sisters. “We’d need to see physical pieces, of course. Then we can discuss the possibility of starting a small contract there first. I do have properties in Europe, but allow me to begin closer to home.”

“Very good. A pleasure, Tally, surely.” Gerhard extended a hand and they shook—a gentlemen’s agreement to further negotiations.

When Gerhard Klug finally let him go with an exchange of business cards, the otter was nowhere in sight. Uncharacteristically disgruntled, Tally left the main ballroom to check some of the smaller venues where different sorts of food were on offer. The first meeting room had been set up as a sushi bar, which seemed a good place to find an otter. He wasn’t there. The second was a room dedicated to international cuisine, offerings from host countries of previous years. No otter.

The third was a paradise of desserts which had drawn the children since the beginning of the evening with its siren song. Tally hurried his steps when he picked up shouting from that direction and he skidded to a stop in front of the door.

 

Giveaway:
Angel and Freddy are giving away a $25 Pride Publishing gift certificate with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win!

 

Author Bio: Freddy MacKay

Freddy is a bisexual, biromantic, genderfluid nerd and geek who grew up in the Midwest playing soccer, diving, swimming and doing gymnastics, along with running around outside as much as possible—preferably spending that time in swamps and hiking through forests. The haphazard escapades have not changed, except some of them have been replaced with a healthy geocaching addiction and a love for Science Fiction and Fantasy. This love of SFF developed into a writing passion and has led to several awards in the gay science fiction and fantasy categories. Freddy likes worms, dancing and being outside… and toll passes, but you’ll have to ask on that one. (They/Them/Their pronouns.)

 

Author Bio: Angel Martinez

The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, (same husband for almost twenty-four years) gave birth to one amazing son, (now in college) and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.

Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough. She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.

 

Where to find the authors:

Author Website: https://freddysstereograph.weebly.com/ http://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/freddy.m.mackay https://www.facebook.com/amartinez2

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/FreddyMacKay https://twitter.com/AngelMartinezrr

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5355677.Freddy_MacKay https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1010469.Angel_Martinez

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/freddy-mackay/ https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/angel-martinez/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Freddy-MacKay/e/B006GQV29U https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Martinez/e/B001KHMFTG

 

Welcome to the Family

It is hard to explore the different spaces of the internet, media, or textbooks without ever having run into a picture of a Japanese person in a kimono. If you ask someone what they think traditional Japanese clothes are, it’s usually their first answer. And they’re not wrong. Exactly. There are more kinds of clothing than just kimonos. In Fireworks & Stolen Kisses, my character Haru is often wearing a yukata though for more formal occasions they wear a kimono. Part of the reason of their clothing choices are because of who they are, a Satislit, a trained bride-son, but there are more reasons they make those choices and it is something that gets explored not only in this first book of the lijun trilogy, but the following two books as well.

I can remember my first full-on exposure to Japanese culture rather clearly. My uncle had finally married his girlfriend and in about the third year they had been married they invited me to stay with them for a week in Northern California over their anniversary. Young couple, in California. Newly married. Why would they want a 13 year old niece around?

The thing you need to understand here is that my uncle and I have always been close. You can go back to my first pictures as a little and see how close we were. My parents and two siblings would be in your standard family pose while my Uncle and I would be off to one side cuddled up laughing our asses off because we did something silly.

When my uncle introduced J to our family, he was most nervous about what I thought of her. I hadn’t like the last girlfriend, none of the cousins had, mainly because we knew how much he wanted kids and how much she didn’t. It wasn’t something we held against her, but they weren’t right for each other because of their wants. First time we met J she went tobogganing with the cousins and we immediately knew she was his person.

What I didn’t initially catch was that she was Japanese American. I mean, I knew she looked different, and did some things differently, but I didn’t get it. Not until my visit to them in July when I was 13. They brought me to their work places. They took me to San Francisco. I went to the movies with them—a tradition my Uncle always have whenever we see each other. We get a few hours for our movie—and, most importantly, J took me to Obon for the very first time.

So much food! But I digress. You may be wondering what Obon is. A quick explanation is that Obon (or Bon) is a traditional Japanese Buddhist festival honoring the spirits of one’s ancestors. It’s a time for family to get together and remember their loved ones. There is food, music, dancing, and other activities.

It was the first time I had seen so many different types of clothing other than the commonplace Western clothes. Yes, there were a ton of yukata and kimonos. Men in hakama. I instantly fell in love the clothing because they seemed so much more practical–and to a non-binary person, they felt less gendered. Then I saw the taiko drumming—or should I say I felt it. Because I did feel and hear it before I saw it. When I saw the drummers in their happi I was a goner. It was a time I cherished because two people who loved me dearly had shared a new part of the world with me. J wanted me to know I was just as important to her as I was to my uncle.

I still go to Obon and celebrate with them as often as I can, because it’s truly a time to connect with family. To love and be loved.

I have my own yukata and still need help getting dressed when I get to the festival. The Japanese community is good about setting aside space so people can help each other, because it isn’t just pull it on and go.

Yukata are different from kimonos. Not a ton, but they are more informal, lighter, usually made of cotton, and meant for the summertime when it’s hotter. Kimonos used to be layered up in the winter time because of the cold. But the two have the same components. I’ve included an image I borrowed off pinterest to show you all the parts of a kimono/yukata instead of running through the list. There are specialized types of kimonos for marriages or for certain ages, the design or sleeve lengths being different respectively. Hakama were traditionally worn by men, but these days you will see women wearing them too for certain things. They are worn over kimonos/yukata, similar to wide pleated pants. Haori are jackets that are worn over kimonos, especially as the weather gets cooler. Happi are like a light cotton coat, usually seen being worn by teams at festivals or work crews. There are different types of footwear – they have tabi (toed socks) and all sorts of different sandals. What type you wear depends on whether you’re wearing a kimono or not, working or not, etc.

If you want a decent place to look at Japanese made yukata or kimonos, I would suggest trying a place called: Kimono Yukata Market Sakura.  It’s where my aunt and I got ours. They are run out of Japan and a very reasonably priced. It’s fun to click through and see what they have.

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