Sunday, October 7, 2012

Best of my Japan-Related Tweets for Week of October 1


Photo by: Plus/Minus
 * Brooklyn Synth-pop band Chairlift taps childhood memories of Japan for inspiration | The Japan Times
I was doing songs with my band way back in the 1980s in Japanese. I’m glad to see some foreigners are still doing this. I agree that the Japanese version is better than the English. Catchy song!

* Sometimes all you need is a little Pink Lady to brighten your day: [oooooooh....WANTED!]
I didn’t get into J-pop until the 1980s idol period (Nakamori Akina, Matsuda Seiko, etc.), but I do love me some 1970s Pink Lady. I’d never seen a live performance of this song ("Wanted") and it’s one of my favorites by the dynamic duo. And I love those funny voices they do in the middle!

* What are the most popular TV shows in China, India, Germany, Japan, India, the UK and Italy?
Now that we have YouTube we can see a lot of international TV that you’d never have the chance to watch unless you were abroad. And I’ll be you can find some clips of these if you try (though probably not the latest UK season of Downton Abbey!).

* Got Nihongo? NHK WORLD offers free Japanese lessons online:
There’s really no excuse not to study a foreign language with all the resources available on the Internet!

* Japanese study says kawaii puppies and kittens make workers more productive -
We’ve had to know there’s been some method to the madness of kawaii-mania that’s been a staple of Japan for years!

* If you're like me and can't make it to Tokyo right now, you can live vicariously via Style-Arena Japan:
I love looking at the street fashion on this site!

* Do Americans care more about fairness than the Japanese? Daily Yomiuri -
Studies conducted on Japanese and Americans on what constitutes “fairness” are revealing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Expat Women in Asia: Call for Submissions

Editor Shannon Young is seeking contributions from expatriate women in East Asia for a new anthology from Hong Kong’s Signal 8 Press. The collection will feature the writing of women who are currently expatriates or who have previously lived in an East Asian country. For the purposes of this anthology, this includes Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and the ASEAN countries. All submissions should be creative non-fiction and/or travel memoir pieces that speak to the expat experience in modern East Asia. Potential topics include travel, work, relationships, gender roles, safety, family and repatriation. Stories should have a strong and personal narrative arc, not just travel guides or descriptions of the places where the writer has lived. The anthology strives to be as inclusive as possible and welcomes submissions from women from different parts of the world.
Submissions should be between approximately 2000 and 5000 words in length. Each writer will receive two copies of the completed anthology and a percentage of the royalties to be determined by the final number of contributors. Please send all submissions, with a brief paragraph about the author to Shannon [at] typhoon-media [dot] com. Submissions should be in Microsoft Word, .doc or .docx format, and in a standard font. The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2013. The anthology will be released in paperback and e-book formats in the spring of 2014.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I’m teaching another one of my “Strong Beginnings” classes on Saturday, July 28 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Book Passage Corte Madera! This class is geared toward all levels of writers who are working on novels. Memoir and creative non-fiction writers will also find it helpful.

Making a good impression in the first five pages is crucial for the success of your novel, whether you want to keep a reader reading or are hoping to get an agent to offer representation. Common mistakes include starting the story in the wrong place, giving too much backstory or using an action scene that serves no purpose. In this class, we do what’s called a close reading of first chapters of a variety of successful published books. We analyze all the elements (pacing, characterization, style, tone, voice, structure, etc.) to understand what grabs a reader. Then we take a look at the first five pages of students' novels to see what works and what needs improvement.

Over the years, students have responded quite positively to this class, citing its practicality and usefulness as opposed to other creative writing classes that emphasize more abstract concepts that can’t always be applied to a student’s specific work. And the things you learn in this class can also help you with revising your entire novel.

Looking forward to seeing you there! You can sign up here:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

His Wife and Daughters is FREE on Amazon!

Kirkus Reviews says about my novel, His Wife and Daughters: “A refreshing narrative with a strong sense of place: political scandal with an interesting twist that hits the mark.” And you can download it for free on Amazon as a Kindle ebook or read it on the free Kindle app on your iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC, etc. through Friday, June 15 by clicking HERE

More on His Wife and Daughters:

It’s 1988 and Trina Brath and her teenage daughters, Jill and Phoebe, lead happy and privileged lives as the wife and daughters of successful California Congressman Dan Brath. But that all changes when Dan, 52, is suspected of having an affair with Lesley Chisholm, a 19-year-old Washington DC intern who has gone missing. Soon Dan Brath is being accused in the harsh media spotlight of not only sleeping with Lesley Chisholm, but responsible for her disappearance. Despite Trina’s standing by her husband—yet keeping the secret that he has cheated on her many times before—the incessant media scrutiny puts a strain on the family, and their lives to go into a tailspin. Eight months later, when Lesley mysteriously returns home safe and sound, Dan Brath’s career is over, and his family is in tatters.

Fast forward to today and the scandal that rocked the Brath family continues to take its toll. Jill has food issues and can’t trust men, Phoebe leads a self-destructive life and Trina continues to blame Lesley Chisholm for everything. And now Lesley is breaking her silence with a tell-all memoir, which is sure to make Dan Brath’s wife and daughters relive the trauma all over again. Will Jill, Trina and Phoebe be able to cope, heal their wounds and move on with their lives? Told from the viewpoints of the three women, His Wife and Daughters is a moving story of how one family attempts to survive the ultimate betrayal.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Falling Uphill" Ebook is FREE on Amazon!

Just wanted to let you know that my chick lit mystery e-book "Falling Uphill" is free through Friday, April 27 on Amazon HERE!

Please spread the word!

And here's the blurb:

“Falling Uphill” by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

“Ruth Fenton is dead, but what does that have to do with me?” That’s what Candace Grey, 29, wants to know after receiving a puzzling phone message from San Francisco. A bright, but slightly absent-minded anthropology teacher at a small Michigan college, Candace is all set to leave for Los Angeles to conduct research on 1960s TV star Pamela Parrish—America’s Sitcom Sweetheart—for her Master’s thesis on television and female gender roles. But after discovering that Ruth Fenton is a long lost relative, she’s first off to San Francisco for her memorial service where she meets a crazy(?) old lady who claims Pamela Parrish didn’t commit suicide like everybody says—she was murdered. Now Candace has to get to the bottom of it, all while fighting the nagging feeling that her long-time professor boyfriend back home is getting a little too close to one of his students, and at the same time wondering if new-found friend Brandon, a newspaper reporter and budding painter who lives on a hidden stairway street in the hills of San Francisco, is really the guy for her. It’s a funny, but moving, uphill climb for Candace who finds that things are rarely what they seem in the ups and downs of love or in discovering a surprising secret about her not-so-perfect mother, or unearthing the truth behind the death of America’s Sitcom Sweetheart.

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Short Story, "Love Right on the Yesterday"

I'm so pleased that my short story, Love Right on the Yesterday about a Japanese teenager who longs to be an idol singer, was selected to be a part of Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Fiction edited by Holly Thompson.

Tomo will be published on March 10, 2012 and proceeds from all sales will go to organizations that are helping teens in the quake and tsunami hit areas. Tomo, which means friend in Japanese, aims to bring Japan stories to young adult readers worldwide as well as help support teens in Tohoku.

You can pre-order a copy of Tomo HERE. And you can read interviews with the contributors at the Tomo Blog Site.

But that's not all...I'm also thrilled that my story was selected to be published on YARN, the Young Adult Review Network, to give readers a sneak preview of Tomo. So I hope you'll check it out!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How J-Drama "Marumo no Okite" Improves My Rusty Ear

I’m dusting off the cobwebs of this blog and hoping to be more active again. I’ve got a lot going on in my crazy writing life, but will do my best to ganbarimasu!

Recently my husband granted me the wish of a subscription to TV Japan through Comcast Xfinity. Way back in the day when I was first studying Japanese (in the ancient times of no Internet and when VHS was the ultimate in high tech), I relied a lot on a local San Francisco station, Channel 26, that broadcasted Japanese programming mainly on weekends, to help with hearing real Japanese. There was a time when you could catch a wide variety of Japanese TV shows on Channel 26, some with English subtitles, and it was a great help in training my ear to Nihongo.

But as the years passed and the demographics in San Francisco started shifting, Channel 26 began to strip away its Japanese programming in favor of Mandarin and Cantonese language shows. The pickings became slim and with the advent of TV Japan, I now understand that many of the expats or temporary expats in the Bay Area weren’t watching Channel 26 anymore. And with the advent of TV Japan I’m assuming it was harder and harder for the station to attract Japanese sponsors.

With TV Japan I’m back on track and I can hear Japanese 24/7 if I want to. This helped tremendously when I found myself in Osaka last month, my first time visiting Japan in more than five years and by far my longest break from one of my favorite places in the world. My ear wasn’t as rusty as it usually is and I also felt “in tune” with Japan since I was much more aware of what was going on, thanks to steady viewing of TV Japan at home.

I want to urge those of you studying Japanese to try and immerse yourself in the language as best you can. And these days with the Internet, DVDs, cable TV, etc., etc. there’s really no excuse—even if you live thousands of miles away from Tokyo you can still get an earful.

One of the best ways to improve your Japanese, I think, is by watching Japanese TV dramas. On TV Japan I’ve been watching one called Marumo no Okite. TV Japan mostly shows up-to-the-minute NHK shows, but has recently started offering other programming. Marumo no Okite originally aired on Fuji TV last spring, but it’s new to me so I don’t mind if it’s a bit old.

If Marumo no Okite were an American TV show, I wouldn’t watch any more than five minutes of it. It’s sappy and sentimental, about a young salaryman (Sadao Abe) who unexpectedly must take in his old baseball team buddy’s two kids when the friend dies suddenly. The children (Mana Ashida and Fuku Suzuki) are precocious and much too perfect (though they don’t mug for the camera as much as some American child stars) and there’s also a talking dog. Sheesh!

But I’m not expecting Downton Abbey here. I like that Marumo is predictable and sentimental and repetitive because that makes it much easier to understand when you don’t have any English subtitles on which to rely (another good strategy to help you improve). It’s also good to notice how the Japanese changes when a character is talking to his family, to his boss, to his customer and to a stranger. If you observe enough, you’re bound to pick up a lot. And if you find yourself understanding everything Mook the talking dog says you can reward yourself with a treat!

Wendy Nelson Tokunaga is the author of the novels, “Midori by Moonlight” and “Love in Translation” (both published by St. Martin’s Press), and the e-book novel, “Falling Uphill,” written under the pen name Kelly Sweetwood. She’s also the author of the nonfiction e-book, “Marriage in Translation: Foreign Wife, Japanese Husband.” Her short story, “Love Right on the Yesterday” appears in the upcoming book, “Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction: An Anthology of Teen Stories.”

Wendy holds an MFA in Creative Writing from University of San Francisco and teaches for Stanford University’s Online Writer’s Studio and for the MFA program at University of San Francisco. She also does private manuscript consulting for novels and memoirs. When she’s not busy writing, Wendy loves to sing jazz and Japanese karaoke with her Osaka-born surfer-dude husband accompanying her on keyboards. Follow her on Twitter at Wendy_Tokunaga and visit her website at: