I’m so in love with this book. SO in love. It’s very much the book I would have wanted when I first began sewing for K and all her itty bitty friends, and it’s a grateful nod to the numerous Japanese craft books that inspired me to teach myself how to sew back in the early days. I remember scratching my sweaty head as I navigated the Japanese instructions, a perplexed expression plastered on my face. How amazing that I’ve been given the chance to produce my own kid-focused craft book in a language in which I have a bit more fluency. Side note: I can speak and comprehend Japanese at near native levels, but my nihongo reading/writing require assistance from Google Translate.
The folks at Sasquatch Books continue to make my book-making dreams all come true and I adore the entire staff there, but I am especially appreciative of my editor Hannah and art director Anna (we even had a photoshoot at Anna’s gorgeous house) for this book! I couldn’t have possibly pulled this project off without the magical expertise of Rachel (photo stylist) and Amy (photographer). “You guys are like unicorns,” Hannah told me and from start to finish, this book really did feel unicorn-y. Can I also mention that we have the CUTEST models in the book? Plus, I’ve got to give a major shout out to all the testers as well — I had nearly 100 testers and they were fabulous. I incorporated their feedback and did my absolute best to make the instructions and illustrations as clear as possible.
So!!! I’ve been wanting to share the cover for awhile, but since we’ve been tweaking the last details I wanted to hold off until it felt pretty much complete. As of this week, I’ve turned in my proofreader edits and we’re finalizing the back cover so it’s feeling super official now.
And hey, how about some behind-the-scenes tidbits? When it came time to figure out the cover, I created four sketches and we photographed a few variations based on the sketches. I always love to see how concept sketches turn into final execution. The ideas go through a number of approval processes (including getting the buy-in from the Penguin Random House team — Sasquatch Books is now part of Penguin Random House). My favorite version was ultimately selected, and I let out huge whoops of joy! I thought it might be fun to share the sketches:
Isn’t it cool that the final cover is so closely aligned in look and feel with the sketches?
Anyway! Did you know that pre-orders have a dramatic impact on the success of a book? The more pre-orders there are, the more exposure the book will get. Stepping up my marketing game is one of my big, big goals and I’ll be getting out of my comfort zone a ton over the next few months. I’m so excited to share this book with the world and I’ve been working on a fun bonus digital gift that I will send out on publication day for all pre-orders! There are a couple of ways to receive the bonus gift.
1. Let me know that you’ve pre-ordered at sanaeishida13[at]gmail.com
Update: There’s been an overwhelming response, and I have lots of fabulous testers signed up. THANK YOU!
Hello, hello! I’ve been diligently working away behind-the-scenes and my next book is starting to come together in a lovely way. It’s SO exciting. This is my favorite part: when the structure of the book is mostly done but there’s still enough wriggle room for changes. I can practically feel the elation of bursting through the finish line, but it’s also continuously and thrillingly uncertain.
So. Do you love sewing? Are you interested in getting a sneak peek into my new book? Are you a stickler for details? Then perhaps you’d like to be a pattern tester? That would be so tremendously awesome!!! This new book is a slightly different flavor from Sewing Happiness. It’s been pure fun and the projects are very beginner friendly and kid-friendly. All of the projects can be whipped up in an afternoon or less. If you’d like to be a tester, please fill out the Google Form below and I’ll send you a PDF with the pattern to test by February 8th. You’ll have a couple of weeks to work on the pattern and in order to meet my deadline, I would need all feedback by February 22nd. Because I’m so grateful for any and all help, I’ll be popping a little treat in the mail for you so please make sure to fill out the address fields. 🙂
I’m looking forward to being able to share it in full next year, my friends!! Sometimes I wish the book process didn’t take its sweet old time but then again, that’s what makes it all the more rewarding. Patience is a virtue and all that.
OK! Here’s the form (if you can’t see it, please click on this link):
P.S. The photo is actually an outtake from Sewing Happiness styled by my wonderful friend Allegra Hsiao, shot by me.
Hello, my friends! I apologize for the not-so-pretty photo, which was taken in the dim lighting of my basement a few months ago. This is the crazy fabric/yarn stash situation that’s been assaulting my conscience for years. Bear in mind that this is only about half of what I actually own. The yarn sitch isn’t awful; it’s just that one bin in the top row. But the fabrics!!!!!
Luckily, I have a solution.
It’s to pretend that my stash is as soothing and contained as it is in this photo. Denial can be a beautiful thing. No, that’s not it.
The solution is more involved. My dear, dear friends — I’m working on another sewing book. Actually, I’m working on two sewing books!!!!! One is due out in 2020 and the other one will be released 2021. As is the case with books, I can’t say a whole lot about them at this time since I’m smack dab in the middle of it all, but they will perhaps help with the stash problemo.
I’m calling the process my “destashival”, which is an amalgamation of destash and festival. A celebration of destashing! Thank goodness I have an exorbitant amount of supplies at the ready for these upcoming books.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been steadily purging all of my belongings to get closer to something that resembles minimalism, but these fabric-stuffed bins have been throwing a wrench in my whole scheme (not to mention art supplies, and books, and skincare, and teas — but we’ll discuss those later). For the next several months, I’m going to jubilantly sew samples for my books and tackle the many, many other sewing patterns I’ve been holding off on (I just posted on Instagram the dolman sleeve top that’s near completion).
Now, with my destashival in full swing, I’ll be able to show you an empty wall in…I don’t know…a year? D’you think I can do it?
I realize that this announcement is somewhat lacking in fanfare but my insides are full of fanfare and sparklers and massive fireworks. I feel so outrageously, profoundly lucky that I get to do this. Could I have predicted that I would be working on my fifth and sixth book in 2018? Nope. Nuh-uh. No way. One always hopes that opportunities are ever-flowing, of course, but there are no guarantees. It boils down to you and this little blog in many ways. Thank you for visiting even when my posts are sporadic, thank you for buying my books or checking them out from the library, thank you for encouraging me through the Furoku membership (where I talk about all the behind-the-scenes stuff), thank you for all your comments here and on Instagram, and thank you for all the virtual good vibes. I am rendered speechless by the immensity of my gratitude.
Alright, back to book-making shenanigans. Have an awesome weekend, all! I hope this autumn season is treating you well and that you’re gearing up for a spectacular Thanksgiving!
What’s been fascinating for me is how different the experience has been for each book. Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl — my first book baby — effortlessly popped out with virtually no changes, nary a stretchmark. I basked in a floaty glow of grateful disbelief the entire time I worked on that book. I’ve written about the process before here and here, and I remember thinking, “If book-making is this easy and fun, I want to publish 20 books a year!”
My second book, Sewing Happiness, was a tumultuous experience requiring a lot of uncomfortable emotional upheaval. If Little Kunoichi was the first blush of sweet, unconditional newborn love, Sewing Happiness was like the cantankerous, tantrum-filled toddler phase of fierce love and equally fierce aggravation. I came out of it in one piece, but not unscathed. But I also felt stronger, prouder and more…authentic as a result of creating that book. I understood myself a lot better. It was such a collaborative book, and I owe the resulting aesthetic loveliness to the discerning eyes of Tristan and Michelle aka Besotted, my rock star stylist friends Rachel and Allie, and the hilarious photographer George. And of course, my editor Hannah was a dream.
Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet actually wasn’t meant to happen. At least, not right after Sewing Happiness. It was supposed to be the fourth book, preceded by Ba-chan, The Ninja Grandma. However, Little Bigfoot was publishing another grandmother book around the same time (it’s phenomenal, highly recommended), so the order was rearranged. I love the Chibi book so much, yet perhaps a gentle samurai boy has less appeal than a persevering ninja girl? I’ve been surprised that it hasn’t sold nearly as well as Little Kunoichi or Sewing Happiness so far. I’ve received quite a few emails from readers that their kids repeatedly request Chibi Samurai Wants a Pet, so I have high hopes that it’ll steadily find its way to more young (and older!) readers over time. In terms of working on it, it wasn’t quite as easy as Little Kunoichi, but not nearly as difficult as Sewing Happiness. Sort of like how I’ve been feeling about K’s tween years: easy, but not too easy. There was more scrutiny and definitely more changes with Chibi, but as a result I’m pleased with how much smoother and cohesive the story is. Editors are under-the-radar heroes of the publishing industry. I am in awe of all the wonderful editors I’m privileged to work with: Tegan and Christy are my main kids’ book editors and they shepherded me in the right direction every step of the way.
Now, Ba-chan, The Ninja Grandma was a tricky one, like a moody teenager. I’m very intuition-driven, and I had a distinct intuitive hit a couple of years ago that I was meant to work on a money book for kids. Ugh. I was dismayed. Really? Money?? I don’t know about you, but I’m confused by and frightened of money. I’ve spent most of my life avoiding the topic if at all possible. Just ask my husband. It seems to have become the only barometer of value that matters (at least amongst people I’m surrounded by), which bothers me, and few topics can be as divisive as money. I sometimes find myself filled with shame that I don’t have what could be considered a sizable income even though I feel like what I do IS valuable. I’m still hesitant to sell and market my ware, which is stressful and may be a contributing factor to my income situation. Ultimately, I think money is wonderful, which you don’t hear a lot of people say. There can be so much delight and goodness and positivity as a result of earning and spending money. On occasions when I’ve actually felt prosperous (because let’s face it, most of us in developed countries are prosperous if you look at the globe at large), I’ve been astounded by the amount of guilt that floods me. As if I don’t deserve to be financially successful, especially if I’m doing something I love. It’s bizarre.
At its core, money is simply a tool for the exchange of goods and services. I know this. You know this. Yet there’s often so much angsty stuff that weighs down anything that has to do with the mighty dollar (or yen or deutsche mark or whatever). The development of currency was super smart because bartering can get unwieldy, you know? I admit that I do fantasize about using my fabric stash as currency because if you saw how much I have, you’d call me a zillionaire.
Why do we, as humans, place so much value on money? Why do we flood our senses with advertisements and shows and information that exalts material consumption? Why are so many people in debt? Why are there so many people renting extra storage units for things they don’t use? Why, in this age of extraordinary abundance, do we seem to feel so much scarcity? What is truly, truly valuable? What am I teaching my own daughter about money and value through my own actions? These types of questions perpetually buzz around in my head. I often think about this quote that I’m paraphrasing here:
We buy things
we don’t even want
we don’t even have
To impress people
we don’t even like
I’m not trying to vilify money — far from it. It’s a necessity for our world to function, but the intent and purpose of this utilitarian tool seems to have gotten muddled and glorified, no? Is it just me, or has the tool morphed into something bigger that holds power over us? I don’t pretend to have answers. After all, I used to be in debt, I still mindlessly consume sometimes and I still have fear-based issues surrounding anything that has to do with money.
It wasn’t just about money that I wanted to explore with the book, but the whole idea of value. I wanted to see if I could approach the subject in a playful way and I wanted to incorporate wisdom from a ninja grandma, naturally. I was ecstatic when Sasquatch/Little Bigfoot allowed me to experiment with this book. It wasn’t smooth sailing, let me tell you — the story has gone through many, many iterations. The rough draft of part of a storyboard you see above is one of dozens of changes I made. In the end I have no idea how the book will be received. But that’s true for all my books and I know that I did my absolute best. And for me, that’s enough.
Okay! Now that you have a little bit of background, let’s talk about the promotion we’re running for Ba-chan, The Ninja Grandma! Instead of a single launch party at one bookstore/venue, I wanted to include as many Pacific Northwest bookstores as possible this time and I’m thrilled that we have quite a few participants!
I made a turtle submarine for each bookstore and they’re filled with chocolate coins and “money mints”:
If you find the turtle submarine in the bookstore, please help yourself to a coin or dollar! Also, for every purchase of Ba-chan, The Ninja Grandma at one of the participating bookstores, you will receive a free gift (and a signed copy of Ba-chan)!! I put a lot of thought and love into these wee goodie boxes — we’re keeping the contents a surprise because I adore a little mystery!
The promotion will start on September 22, 2018 and will continue until bookstores run out of gifts. The participating lovely bookstores are (list may be updated over the next few days):
If you’re in the area, I’d love it if you’d support your local independent bookstore!
And there’s more!!
As I thought about this, I wanted to do something for people who don’t live in the Seattle area, so I have 10 gift boxes and signed copies of the book to giveaway as well! Please either comment here or on IG and I’ll select 10 winners by October 1st. If you’d like some ideas for a comment, what’s something you consider valuable? It can be anything: photos of your kids, a cozy home, hikes in nature, a bobble-headed doll from your cousin, a sense of freedom, a personality trait or particular skill you have…you can list multiple things too!
International entries are welcome, as always. Good luck!!!!!
Hello, hello! Long time, no blog…the last five months whisked by and I have no excuses for not updating at all. I’ve been focusing on “being in the moment” and have fully enjoyed immersing myself in spring/summer activities and projects!
Now that it’s September (my favorite month of the year), I’m feeling that usual surge of energy to get back into action. We did so much this summer: some traveling, a few camps for K, a ton of time with family and friends. And we got a kitten! I’ve become a full-on cat lady already and it’s only been three weeks.
I’d like to introduce you to Katara, the sweetest kitty I’ve ever known. Granted, I’ve not known many felines since this is the first time I’ve ever had a real, interactive pet — sadly, K’s frogs have been a dud in the cuddling department — and I guess I just don’t know a lot of cat owners. Katara was fascinated by the box of my advance book copies.
So!!!!! I won’t bore you with endless tales of Katara’s adorableness, because I wanted to share the exciting news that my newest book, BA-CHAN, THE NINJA GRANDMA is about to launch! September 18th, baby! It’s already available for pre-order on Amazon, and I’d be ever so grateful if you’d consider purchasing a copy! Did you know that pre-orders help enormously with book rankings and actually boost sales down the way because it’ll populate the “inspired by your browsing” section? Or at least, that’s my understanding. I might be wrong. And as usual, it’s been awesome working with my publisher, Sasquatch Books/Little Bigfoot!
Now, what makes this book extra special is that the main ninja grandma character is modeled after my very own mother:
There’s no doubt that she’s a bonafide ninja. To promote the book, I’ve got some fun activities in the works, but I just wanted to give a shout-out to my amazing mom on this day, September 6th, because it’s her 70th birthday. I feel tremendously fortunate to be her daughter, and I love that I was able to create a book that is going to be released during this big birthday month.
Happy Birthday, Mama. Thank you for being the best mom (and grandma) in the world.
I hope you’re all doing well, my friends! Keep a lookout for upcoming posts – I’m going to be blogging more regularly again!