Sunday, August 3, 2014

Japan... Trip of a Lifetime

Japan. I hardly know where to begin describing this incredible, deeply moving adventure. Fun, beautiful, unforgettable, scary, life-changing, and that's only skimming the surface. I traveled alone for 2 weeks for the first time ever. I crossed the country and stayed at hostels mainly, with a couple of nights in ryokans (traditional guest houses), a night in a manga cafe (oops) and another night in an actual hotel. Hee. ~embarrassed smile~ More on those further down.



Considering the poor deadline management skills I'm working through**, I'm going to swipe an idea from the magnificent Trisha Leigh. Trisha took an amazing trip throughout Europe... you should snoop her Facebook page and see! So, she wrote up a top list of her favorite things on her trip to sum up her journey. Here are mine:



Diana's Top Eight Most Favorite Things About 
Her Incredible Trip to Japan

1. Favorite food: Ebiyaki on a stick!

I don't remember what it was *exactly* called, but it's this super tasty kabob sort of thing with battered squid, onions, bacon, and deliciousness all fried on a stick! Crunch-crunch-yum!

 Runners up: All the sweets and cakes in Hakone! I love treats. Also, Tsukiji's sushi, Hiroshima's okonomiyaki, Fukuoka's raman, Osaka's appetizers, Maid Cafe ice cream sundaes... can everything be the runner up?! Everything except umeboshi :( :( #neveragain
 









2. Favorite natural sights: Hakone!
I loved relaxing in onsen, seeing Mt. Fuji, the forest, the lake, everything about this city was truly lovely. I would try very hard to make this a part of every future Japan trip.






Runners up: Nikko (serene, with gorgeous shrines), Miyajima Island (breathtaking views from the hilltop and an incredible temple), and Nara (so friendly! And sooo many deer roaming the streets!). 











3. Favorite part of Tokyo: Harajuku!
It's so unique, crazy, fun... I don't think I could have understood Harajuku without going there and experiencing it for myself. Lots of one-of-a-kind items, too!

Runners up: Akihabara (Sex store! Gaming! Maid Cafes!), Ikebukuro (Fashion! Girly shopping!), and Asakusa (Tourist shopping! Geisha district! Extremely cool vibe).


4. Favorite thing to do at night: All-Night Karaoke!
A private room with disco lights and a sound system with English and Japanese songs, it felt like my hostel-buddies and I rented our own private night club! With one flat-rate for all the alcohol, fountain drinks, ice cream, and french fries we wanted, and a hostess who delivered our goodies within minutes of pushing buttons on an iPad, this was a high-tech and uniquely Japanese experience. I would have done it more than once if I could have.










   

Runners up: Shibuya (so many bars!), izakayas (anywhere!), seeing Odaiba at night (Rainbow Bridge! The huge Ferris wheel! Fuji TV building all lit up and synched with music! The HUMONGOUS Gandam!). 

5. Favorite thing to do during the day: Sight-see and try new foods!
I could fill an entire blog-post series on either of these topics. Sufficed to say, I tried every new food I saw, and old favorites too. And I took every opportunity I could to see famous sights or little-known gems. Shrines, temples, museums, shopping districs, nature, city-life, there was more to see than I could have fit into two weeks. No wonder I'm already daydreaming about my next trip.

Runner up: Onsen... this is absolute bliss. I wondered if I would feel shy about the experience, but I loved it and I hope to work this experience into any future trips to Japan!

6. Favorite place to sight-see: Kyoto!
So many gorgeous buildings preserved for centuries, I loved seeing things as they once were in Japan, walking through the very places where emperors and samurai walked. Nijo-jo had floors that sang like nightingales, and Kinkaku-ji was covered in real gold.



 Very Close Runner up: Miyajima Island. I love this area so much. Both Itsukushima Shrine (sadly I didn't get to see it during high-tide when it's "floating", but impressive nonetheless!) and Daisho-in temple are magnificent. I love the small shops and restaurants, too.
 









7. Favorite uniquely Japan experience: 
Traditional Tea Ceremony, complete with kimono! 

I will never forget my friend Naoe. After a night and day together, I visited her at her home and her mother graciously offered to perform a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. She even dressed me in one of her own kimono. It was a genuine honor and it's a memory I cherish. <3


Runners up: Um... everything!!
Lawsons on every corner, train travel, vending machines *everywhere*, revolving sushi, the Ghibli Museum, maid cafes, a 7-story sex shop, highly specific escalator travel, McDonald's delivery scooters, funny signs, characters all over the place, strangers asking for pictures, sakura, kissatens, female-anatomy-shaped treats, and futuristic toilets that play soothing noises and leave a burst of pleasant fragrance as you leave, complete with warmed seats and bidet with strength/temperature controls... ~sigh~. I miss those toilets.





8. Favorite mistake: Missing my flight home and getting interviewed by Japanese TV!
WHAT.
Yes, yes, I missed my flight and was in tears at the airport, but it all turned out okay. Thanks to the extremely helpful agent at Singapore Air, who saw my sad attempts at sleeping at the airport and managed to reimburse me enough of my flight-change fee to cover a stay at a hotel--she even searched nearby hotels and booked one I would never have been able to afford on my own. THEN the next day after returning to the airport, I was randomly chosen by a small Fuji TV crew to be interviewed for their morning variety show! That wouldn't have happened if I had come home as planned the day before. Yay for happy accidents! ^_^


Runner up (...there were so many mistakes, how could I choose just one?): Getting back from the snow-monkey park TOO LATE and missing my train to Kyoto, which meant I had to wander the streets of Nagano in search of a bed... I ended up in an all-night manga cafe! It felt like I was having a private slumber party!

So there you have it! I loved this trip. <3

I would have made this a top-ten list, except I've already taken an hour to write this post, doh! If you have questions about my trip, traveling alone, best/worst things about my trip, etc etc etc, just ask away. :) You can contact me by commenting here, on Facebook or twitter, or emailing me at: email@dianapaz.com

**Deadline management? Wellllll, I'm 3 months behind on publishing my novel. It's just not ready! Also, I'm having a crisis of confidence, which several writer friends are helping me get through. GOING IT ALONE IS TERRIFYING. I miss the reassurance of a company telling me they are willing to invest in my work. It's hard to truly believe I can make this judgement without an official boss. But somehow, I must do it. I can do it. I WILL do it!

Just. First. I'll breathe through a brown paper bag and read through the ending again. And send it out to trusted friends who have been patiently waiting for me. Also, let me end this footnote already! This post was about Japan, after all. ^_^

I hope you liked my Japan trip recap.
Thanks for reading! じゃね!

xo
Di


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

AHH!! My Book's Cover Reveal + Contest! Timespell: Perilous Waters

...my book has a cover!! AHHH!!! I couldn't be more thrilled to share, so without further ado because I AM EXCITED, here it is!!!!


Designed by Michelle Davidson Argyle, MDA Cover Designs
Click here to check out her awesome website  
and other fabulous covers she's done!

Timespell: Perilous Waters is set to release May 15! Click here for a link to goodreads... and if you haven't read Timespell yet, or if you enjoy getting FREE STUFF, enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a signed paperback of Timespell the First!!

And here's a little more about Timespell: Perilous Waters:

~ ~ ~
After nearly losing their lives defeating the creatures of Mythos in Revolutionary France, Julia and Kaitlyn finally understand what Angie has known all along… being a Daughter of Fate isn’t so fun when one mistake can mean their deaths. Haunted by visions and horror-filled memories, the girls have spent the summer honing their newly discovered magical abilities, determined to grow in power and prepare for the uncertain time when the Fates summon them to their next mission.



But their protector Ethan, still embittered by Julia’s betrayal, refuses to engage in the girls’ magical research or power-enhancing spell practice. That is, until his brother’s loyalty to Julia causes him to unwittingly uncover ancient magic greater and more binding than any force the girls have encountered so far. Before the girls or Ethan grasp the full extent of what his brother has done, the girls are jettisoned through time into the madness of the Caribbean during the golden age of piracy.



Only by working together can the girls harness the full power of their magic and secure the world timeline, but with the lives of those close to Angie and Julia at risk, and Kaitlyn designing a dark agenda of her own, all three girls harbor secrets that threaten to drive their fledgling trinity apart. Small treacheries, mounting fear, and the use of dark magic have not gone unnoticed by those trapped within the Nether… those who would stop at nothing to unleash their destruction upon the world once more.

~ ~ ~


GIVEAWAY:
WIN A SIGNED COPY OF TIMESPELL THE FIRST!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for checking out my cover, and thanks for stopping by
xo
Di

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cover Reveal! FIGHTING FOR INFINITY by Karen Amanda Hooper



The third and final book in The Kindrily series, FIGHTING FOR INFINITY, by Karen Amanda Hooper has a magical new cover. To celebrate, she's giving away a signed paperback and an ebook bundle!
But first, are you ready to see the cover? Bring on the mystery...

Cover created by NYC’s premiere digital agency, Steve Graham of www.avurt.com.
Currently available for design and graphic services, contact: Steve@Avurt.com

Want to know more about this final installment in Maryah and Nathan’s story? Here’s a hint...

Every moment, every lifetime, every decision--including her choice to erase--has led Maryah to this. 


Two outcomes are possible: an infinite happy-ever-after with her kindrily or the final severing of her relationship with Nathan. 

Closer to the enemy than ever before, Maryah unravels the diabolical plan that Dedrick has been manipulating into place for centuries. Revelations, secrets, and lies surface faster than Maryah can process. She doesn’t know who to trust, what to believe, or how to save her loved ones from the desolate future Dedrick is so close to executing. 

Guided by an enigmatic raven-haired prisoner, Maryah fights body and soul to save Nathan, her kindrily, and countless others. But is her love strong enough to alter a prophecy written in the stars? 

FIGHTING FOR INFINITY releases April 30, 2014.


Want to win a signed copy of GRASPING AT ETERNITY or TAKING BACK FOREVER? Or, an ebook bundle of the first two books of The Kindrily series? Enter the Rafflecopter contest below.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Karen Hooper was born and bred in Baltimore, frolicked and froze in Colorado for a couple of years and is currently sunning and splashing around Florida with her two beloved dogs. She's addicted to coffee, chocolate and complicated happily-ever-afters.


Karen has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. Due to her strong Disney upbringing, she still believes in fairytales and will forever sprinkle magic throughout all of her novels.

For more info on Karen or her books visit: www.KarenAmandaHooper.com