Get Ready for the Boar

NAOMI HIRAHARA

2007 is the Year of the Boar, or Wart Hog, which would have been my grandmother’s year, if she was alive. For me professionally, 2007 will be a transitional year. I won’t have a novel out, and I’ll be working on a YA series as well as doing research for a mystery standalone. As my career shifts, or rather expands, and my workload increases, I thought it best for me to give up my spot on Murderati for another blogger.

My intention to join forces with Pari and others on Murderati was primarily to discuss the process of releasing my third book, to write about public relations and promotional efforts (I was a flak in Hollywood for about three years), and to talk about the L.A. mystery writing and marketing scene. For the sheer size of the book market here, I still maintain that we don’t have a comprehensive literary web presence. There are many good websites and blogs, but we can use more.

Here’s a handy and dandy index of L.A. Mix profiles I’ve posted during the past eight months:

Independent Bookstore Mystery Galaxy in San Diego
Media Escort Ken Wilson
Newspaper Writer Patricia McFall
SinC/LA President Sue Ann Jaffarian
Professor William Edwards

And nuts and bolts posts:

Copyediting styles and copyeditors
L.A. Times Festival of Books (I, II, III)
Craziness of Amazon numbers and how they don’t mean much
ISBNs and Library of Congress numbers
Book launch for a first novel
Author essays in mystery magazines

I purposefully haven’t blogged too much on the writing process, because I have learned to write intuitively from reading novels, not from how-to books or classes. I’m pretty independent and stubborn, and don’t like to rely on any kind of guides, except for maybe travel books. Since I learned to write outside of the classroom, I didn’t know how beneficial my writing advice would be.

Although I’ll be leaving Murderati as a regular blogger, I’m be visiting from time to time as a guest blogger. And I’ll still be very much a part of the mystery scene, as three of my short stories will be published in anthologies in the Year of the Boar (or else close to it):

"Number 19" in LOS ANGELES NOIR, edited by Denise Hamilton. The life of a lonely young woman in L.A. is changed forever when she becomes obsessed with a masseuse at a Koreatown spa.

"The Chirashi Covenant" in A HELL OF A WOMAN: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FEMALE NOIR, edited by Megan Abbott. A former Japanese American beauty queen seeks upward mobility for her family in the 1950s at a disastrous cost.

"Tat Master" in THE DARKER MASK, edited by Chris Chambers and Gary Phillips. A young female tattoo artist, on the run from her yakuza boyfriend in Japan, finds herself with some supernatural powers after an encounter with a stranger in L.A. (This is going to be super cool because each story will be illustrated by a comic book artist. Actually, I think this book will be coming out the beginning of 2008 instead of the end of 2007.)

I can’t tell you how I excited and honored I am to be included in all three anthologies, which appeal to slightly different niches. Just looking at the editors and other contributors indicate the high caliber of these respective collections.

The stories I’ve written for these anthologies are definitely more hardboiled than my Mas Arai mysteries. (I still have a few weeks to polish two of the stories.) It was both liberating and challenging to sharpen my story-telling skills and to find the unique voice of each protagonist. The stories are all told from female points-of-view, which has been a refreshing change for me. In fact, writing "Number 19" probably helped "clear my decks" in tackling my YA novel, which is told in first person by a 13-year-old girl. Taking a break from Mas Arai and stretching my creative wings have made me more confident and brave a writer.

While I’m excited about the creative and professional changes in my life, I am sad to leave the camaraderie of Murderati team. It’s strangeโ€“I’ve only met in person one Murderati blogger, our fearless leader, Pari, so far. I think one of the reasons why Murderati has worked is that we are so different. We aren’t a clique. What binds us together is that we write mysteries professionally. And I don’t know if the other Murderati would appreciate this observation, but that we all are underdogs in one way or another.

There’s nothing wrong with being an underdog. In fact, it’s as American as apple pie. Our national fascination with the underdog and second chances is probably our most endearing cultural value (well, at least to me). As these stories go, the underdogs always come up winners at the end. So I have special wishes for each of the Murderati bloggers, both present and future, with gifts of Japanese New Year, or Oshogatsu, food, which is full of symbols and metaphors.

Renkon for Deni
Renkonb

Lotus root, which has many holes to foresee the future.

Kazunoko for Jeff

Kazunoko

Herring roe for fertility. (Enuff said. How about productivity in terms of books?)

Both Jeff and Deni will be moving on to pursue their own blogging venture.  My best to them.

Kuromame for Simon

Kuromame

Black beans, which represent health. Add chestnuts, and you have success, repeated over and over again.

Tai for Elaine

Tai

A big fish for the queen of the sea. Tai, or sea bream, is usually served whole; nothing is broken. Elaine will be taking over Wednesdays, so I know this day will be hopping!

Kamaboko for J.T.

240pxkamaboko

Pink fish cake which symbolizes patriotism, purity and honesty. Totally appropriate for this Killer Year woman.

Mochi for Pari

Mochi

Pounded rice cake, which is plenty sticky for long life and prosperity. Mochi, like Pari, keeps everyone together.

Kombu Maki for all the new Murderati bloggers!

Kombu

Rolled kelp for gladness or joy. Kombu maki always reminds me of tuxedos or penguins for some reason. And oh, so fun to make.

Toshikoshi Soba for all you readers

Toshikoshisoba

These buckwheat noodles are especially long for long life. Yum! Can’t wait to eat some.

As of 2007, I will be updating my website monthly with a note, brief book review on novels and mysteries related to Asian Americans, and yes, a new Japanese word to learn. So come visit. I know I’ll be visiting Murderati on a regular basis. In fact, as a guest blogger, I’ll be posting two interviews on two illustrious librarians during the last week of December. In February I’ll be in Seattle for Left Coast Crime; if you are too, please say "hi" in person.

If you ever come to L.A., I’ll be helping with the inaugural Asian Pacific American Book Festival on Saturday, May 12, 2007 and contributing to the Japanese American National Museum’s "Landscaping America" exhibition, which opens in June. And let us not forgetโ€“there’s the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at the end of April.

Happy Year of the Wart Hog!

Peace.

WEDNESDAY’S LAST WORD: inoshishi (SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI, page 75)

Boar, wart hog. It’s pronounced EE-no-she-she. Boar birth years are 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, and, of course, 2007. Boar people are supposed to be pure of heart, generous, and kind. A true friend with a passion for life and indulgence. They are supposedly compatible with Tigers, which would make any Boar a good buddy of mine.

19 thoughts on “Get Ready for the Boar

  1. Jeff Cohen

    Thanks for the charming thought, Naomi, and all my best to you. I’m glad you qualified that, however, as I already have two children and feel that should be my limit. More books? I’ll see what I can do…

    Jeff (year of the male chicken)

    Reply
  2. Naomi

    Sue Ann:

    Yes, it’s true. But I’ll be popping in and out, just not so regularly. I’ll be posting an interview with our girl Padmini during the last week in December, so definitely check that out.

    And for anyone in the Southern Cal area, come to the Pre-Published SINC holiday party this Saturday at the South Pasadena Library’s Senior Center at 2 p.m. Unpublished writers will be reading their works; who knows who among them might get a deal next year?

    Reply
  3. Brett Battles

    …mmmm…mochi…. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Will miss your weekly blog, Naomi, but I take heart in the fact that since I’m also here in la-la land, our paths will cross several times a year!

    Brett (not Murderati, but am Year of the Tiger)

    Reply
  4. Elaine Flinn

    Oh, Naomi! I’m thrilled you’ll be blogging with us often, but I’m going to miss you each week!

    Arigatou for the Oshogatsu gift of Tai – I am honored. And my omedetou to you for your new directions and the THREE anthologies!!

    Sayonara, sweet gal…

    Reply
  5. pari noskin taichert

    Naomi,What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful, thoughtful contributions to Murderati so far.

    I love the food gifts for each of us. Sticky, hunh? Actually, I like mochi quite a bit — so thank you for that wish, too.

    Dang, I’m getting hungry thinking about the soba . . .

    As to our group, I’d love to know the signs for the rest of our Murderati group. You’re right, we are a diverse bunch. It makes for interesting reading and writing.

    Our new members will continue that tradition and add distinct voices to the mix.

    Please accept my personal wishes for your every success, Naomi. You richly deserve every boon and bounty that comes your way.

    Reply
  6. Deni Dietz

    >Since I learned to write outside of the classroom, I didn’t know how beneficial my writing advice would be.

    Surely you jest! Your writing advice, illustrated by your experiences, was incredibly beneficial. I’ve enjoyed every single blog you’ve posted. I look forward to the anthology stories. And, especially, your stand-alone novel.

    See you at LCC!!!

    Hugs,Deni, year of the something…I’ve lied about my age so many times, I can’t remember ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  7. Deni Dietz

    PS- I learned to write outside the classroom, too. And I REALLY learned to write via [non-form] rejection letters from editors who were kind anough to include detailed critiques. I am forever grateful to those editors, as well as the ones who took a chance on me.

    Reply
  8. Naomi

    Hey, everyone, thanks for your kind words.

    Brett and Pari–

    Grilled mochi with sugar and soy sauce. Killer combo, really. And congrats to Brett on the release of his debut novel in hardback in the summer of 2007! From small press to mmpbo/Bantam to hardback/Delacorte, THE CLEANER has made some kind of trip. I love a good international intrigue novel, so I’m really looking to meeting your character, John Quinn.

    Louise–

    Looking forward to your blogs. It’s like exercising. Hard in the beginning but then you get your second wind. Really.

    Deni–

    I adore editors. Since I’ve sat in their seat, I understand what they do. Newsroom work is the best training.

    Evil E, Lucky Rabbit–

    I’ll be harassing you, don’t you worry. Take good care of Wednesdays.

    Reply
  9. JT Ellison

    Okay, I’m sitting here sniffling. What is wrong with me? These are happy times, our friends are making leaps, growing as writers and bloggers, yet I’m sad to lose everyone. I’m so happy that you’ll still be with us, Naomi, and hope Jeff and Deni come back and plug in with us often. I feel like we need to sing Auld Lang Syne, and at the same time say the new crew is going to be stellar.Naomi, your kindness, patience and fortitude over the past year has been amazing. If anyone needs further explanation of what a wonderful woman you are, all they need to do is look at your post today.I wish we could give you something so precious in return. Just know that we will always have an open door, and an open post, with your name on it.xo,JTGood Luck!

    Reply
  10. Sandra Ruttan

    Naomi, I have enjoyed your contributions. You have such a wonderful presence online. I hope to meet you in person at LCC, but most of all I wish you a wondrous 2007 filled with new challenges and much success in all you do.

    Sandra

    Reply
  11. Naomi

    J.T.–

    You are just one big softee! Thanks for all your technical expertise and it’s been wonderful to watch the seed of an idea grow into the Killer Year.

    Sandra–

    Kudos to you, too. And can’t wait to see that curly hair in person.

    Mike–

    Well, J.T. got her book deal shortly after she join Murderati, and I hope that same will happen to you.

    I’m officially out. See you after Christmas.

    Reply

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