Today is the day! Hooray! Hooray!
My friends, what an incredible ride these last few years have been. Ba-chan, The Ninja Grandma marks the fourth book I’ve published with Sasquatch Books (and third with their children’s imprint Little Bigfoot). My head spun while typing that.
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!!!!!