Kind of Reeling Over Here…

Well…how shall I start this? I’ve been sitting on this unexpected turn of events for so long, it stopped feeling real a good while ago.

Friends, I am publishing a book.

There. I wrote it. It feels a tiny bit more real.

I bet you think it’s going to be a sewing book, but nope. Even better. I am going to be writing and illustrating my very own children’s book!!!!

When I was a kid, and had to go through the usual rigmarole of answering the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Without skipping a beat, I always answered, “Fashion designer.” Then, “And a children’s book author and illustrator”. I stockpiled kids’ books even before I had K, and I would spend hours studying various illustrators’ styles. I have too many favorites to list.


In a roundabout way, all this sewing deludes me into feeling like a fashion designer and perhaps I’ll do more actual designing in the near future. But through thick and thin of all my eclectic career botches, I have always wanted to write/illustrate a kids’ book. Always. In fact, when I was going through my creative writing phase in San Francisco, I tried to pen a simple tale about a girl named Joja who traveled the world with a talking snail, flying alligator and a bald hedgehog. I’m sad to say no one was even remotely interested.

To tell you the truth, a lot of exciting projects have fallen through in the last six months, so I was nervous that this one might suffer the same fate. So I kept mum (only my family and a small number of friends were in the know), signed the book deal and waited patiently for the countersigned contract and advance check. The thing about book publishing is that everything takes a very long time. My book won’t be published until April 2015. Yes, over a year from now. Crazy.

I now have the contract and check in my hot little hands, and though I can’t go into too many details at this point (mostly because I have yet to actually create the book), I can share this: the book will be published locally and distributed through Random House. There will be ninjas and samurais and fun Japanese factoids. And it will be about a girl — a girl remarkably like K. I’m beyond honored that I get to do both the writing and illustrating. Stay tuned as I share the process with you, and yes, I will tell you how it all came to be. It happened through a series of coincidences, and it’s a pretty good story, I think.


I’m kind of reeling over here…and also, I wanted to let you know that — for the billionth time — things may get spotty on the old blog. It never seems to happen, but just to give you a heads up. These painted sketches? From my old Joja story that remained buried and unloved in my pile of rejected ideas. The fact that I never threw them out shows that I never gave up on my pipe dream. Either that, or I’m just a hoarder. More to come!

97 thoughts on “Kind of Reeling Over Here…

  1. I love your illustrations! I’m sure that book will be amazing. There are so many books for children with plain bad drawings. I’m always happy when I find one that has pictures that are also for us adults beautiful to look at! Wishing you the best for your book!

    1. So sweet Annika, thank you! I have to confess that I have a soft spot for all children’s books, even the ones with…um…less than professional drawings.

  2. Oh wow…this is awesome! And exciting! And amazing! I am so very happy for you and can’t wait till we get to hear more about how this happened!

    1. Thank you!! It’s been months and months in development and I’m amazed myself that it’s actually happening. I’ll definitely talk more about the whole process because I know it would be what I would want to know most.

    1. Ah, that’s another area I’d love to pursue. It dovetails so nicely with my fabric obsession, don’t you think?

  3. So, so, so, so, so happy for you! And can’t wait to read that book. Your illustrations are always so captivating. Well done chasing your dream – even if in a round-about way. You’re an inspiration to us all! Can’t wait to read about the whole process – and your Story of Many Coincidences. x

    1. I feel like my entire life is a Story of Many Coincidences, Laura! Thank you so, so, so, so, so much for your encouraging words!

  4. How wonderful to pursue your dream! With your beautiful watercolours, I think you would probably also be a great fabric designer (maybe with a Nani Iro sort of aesthetic?).

    1. Greta commented the same – and I would SO love to be a fabric designer!! How do I make that happen? I need to investigate…

  5. That is so awesome!!!! A pipe dream turning into reality must be one of the most thrilling moments a person can live. Your illustrations are so lovely and I’m sure you’ll have so much fun creating the story. Whooppeee!!!

    1. High five!! Remember how I was telling you that I need to just make a pittance to keep the hubs from having a nervous breakdown? I might be able to accomplish that this year! Might being the operative word…

  6. I am dancing over here! I am so very happy for you! I will wait very patiently for that book to be published, knowing, every day will be worth the wait! ChildrenΒ΄s books are a great love of mine and I am looking forward to be reading your book with my favorite little girl. This makes me happy!

    1. Yay!! We have so many great loves in common, Ute! Thank you for your continued enthusiasm and unconditional support!

    1. Such a gift! I’m quite beside myself with swirling ideas and a slight case of panic that I might not be able to get it done in time (my darned procrastination tendencies…)

      1. I’m a procrastinator too (sometimes, just depends)… but I bet up against the wire it will come out beautifully!

    1. Thank you, Alana! I have sketches all over the place, and I can’t wait to see how the final product turns out too πŸ™‚

  7. Wow! I’m so excited about this. I’m raising a Japan-o-phile after we took her to Japan to visit friends last winter. I’m all ready to pre-order this book! Congrats and good luck!

    1. Fantastic! The book will be perfect for a Japan-o-phile (and I hope for non-Japan-o-philes too) πŸ™‚ Thank you, Jill!!

    1. Fingers crossed Marta! It was quite surreal to see words like “royalties” in the contract and I’m very nervous about the sales side of things. But I’ll focus on making it as good as I can πŸ™‚

  8. SANAE! THIS IS SO FREAKING FANTASTIC!!!!! I’m so happy for you and so happy for US because I’m sure it will be fantastic and I can’t wait to buy it up and get my hands on it. 2015 is so far though . . . I always thought that you should illustrate a book – I think I even said that to you once, no? Yes! OMEDETOU! You are so inspirational!!

    1. Thank you, Cherie!!!!! I know, 2015 is a lifetime away, but I actually have to have everything done very soon. Isn’t that nuts? It takes a looooong time to get through the publishing process.

  9. How wonderful!!! How perfect!!! I’m so thrilled for you, and so happy that you’ll be sharing your amazingness with the world in this way. Congratulations Sanae, I can’t wait!!

  10. How exciting to have a dream from your childhood coming true! I look forward to reading more about how it came to be and about the creation process. We are always excited for new books around here to add to our collection. And if you ever wanted to share the titles of other favorite books I’m always on the lookout for new titles! Right now my daughter is obsessed with My Fathers Dragon and I may have it memorized soon!

    1. My Father’s Dragon is a wonderful series! I just got it for K for Christmas (rather, Santa got it for her). We also got a bunch of comics like Moomin, Mutts, and K LOVES them. Ana Juan is one of my favorite illustrators and her books are wonderful: Frida, The Night Eater. And you can never go wrong with Mo Willams. We’re huge bibliophiles as you can tell, and I would be so touched and honored if you purchased my book, Elizabeth!

  11. Wowser!!!! That’s fantastic Sanae well done you, I wish you all the luck in the world, hope you still manage to keep up the blog as I love reading about your sewing πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Shelli – I will need lots and lots of luck! The blog is still one of my very favorite things to do, so I have a feeling that I’ll try to stick to a regular schedule unless I keel over from exhaustion πŸ™‚

  12. Congratulations, that’s amazing! I’ve always loved it when you add illustrations to your blog, and now we get a whole book!

    Can’t wait to see the finished product. You are going to be a busy lady this year! πŸ™‚

    1. Ah, it’s not even the half of it! There are other insane things going on — but again, they may fall through so I’m still holding them close to me. Thank you for your kind comment, George!

  13. CONGRATULATIONS! Yes, I’m shouting because it’s just that exciting! Of course you should author/illustrate a book – with your writing and illustration skills it makes perfect sense! I’ve heard that the period of waiting for your book to be published is a bit like waiting for the birth of your child. May it not be so physically taxing for you as that:) So, SO excited for you and I will definitely be purchasing a copy. I would anyway, but even more so as the protagonist will be Asian. I try to find books for my daughter that give her something to connect to. YAY SANAE!

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lucinda! And yes, I totally know that hunt for books with which kids can relate. In one of my idea proposals, I wanted to write a book about bi-racial kids since I see so few of them, and I know that it will be something K will wonder about. Perhaps one day…

    1. Stay tuned! I will try to chronicle the process without giving everything away. It’s what I would want to read!

  14. Sanae,

    Congratulations! That is wonderful news. I hope to write and illustrate a children’s book someday too. I look forward to hearing about the process and of course seeing the end product. I just found your blog a month ago and it’s golden.

    Angie Lynn

    1. Thank you so much, Angie. I’m always astounded that people come back to my blog where I’m letting it all hang out, stream-of-consciousness-style. Don’t give up your hope to write/illustrate a book! If I may be so bold and emphasize anything, it’s that amazing things will happen if you keep at it. Perhaps not exactly the way you envision it, but usually in a far better, more suited way.

    1. I love to hear that my illustrations piqued your interest, Em! Thank you – it’s become a very exciting year already and I am hunkering down with my paints!

  15. Congratulations! And hooray for dreams that come true. That sounds like a fabulous story, definitely one for our bookshelf (I love buying childrens books that are meant to be for the children but are really for me).

    1. I don’t want to hype up the story too much, but it was quite serendipitous. And I’m the same way! I’m supposedly buying the books for K, but we all know the truth πŸ˜‰

  16. WOW Sanae this is amazing news! I will definitely buy your book! You are one of my favorite artists and storytellers! Let me know if/when you need help promoting it or if you need names of indie bookstores in Portland – oh man you need to come down and do a signing! I saw Nikki McClure at this tiny bookstore we just happened to be in one day and it was so cool. So excited for you to be doing this!!

    1. Oh Kristin – you rock so much. I may just take you up on promotion help because I’m absolutely terrible at it — though it sounds like there’s a whole marketing/pr department that takes care of stuff? I have a feeling I’m too small potatoes to actually do a book signing, but hey, you never know πŸ™‚ P.S, i LOVE Nikki McClure. There’s a food shop here in Seattle where she’s done all their collateral and decor. It’s very cool.

    1. So kind, Clare! I’m excited to loop everyone in on the behind the scenes type of stuff. That’s always the most interesting, right?

  17. CONGRATULATIONS!!! How absolutely wonderful! I will definitely be purchasing your book. I just love your illustrations and any story that is based on a girl like K is bound to be great! Good luck with everything!

    1. Thank you, thank you, Meghan! K does have star quality, from my very biased point of view, and I hope that quality will make the book shine πŸ™‚

  18. I can’t wait to read it with my daughter! Congrats!
    Of course, if you did ever write a book about sewing I would buy it…just sayin. πŸ™‚

    1. Ha, thanks Claudette. Funnily enough, there’s a veeeeery remote chance (like when pigs fly kind of chance) my publisher might let me do a sewing book if this first book doesn’t totally bomb. Now that would be something!

  19. Wow Sanae! That’s such excellent news!!! Congratulations! I bet it will be amazing. I can’t wait to read it. Hopefully they will ship it to Europe. I’ve been hoarding children’s books since long before my daughter was born too and I love that she can now share the excitement with me…and HELLO???? a bald hedgehog??? I would SO buy that one!!.

    1. Oh, that’s a good question about overseas shipping. It’s supposed to be available through all major outlets/venues as far as I know so I think so? Love a fellow children’s book hoarder pre-kids! And yes, a bald hedgehog — I thought it was funny, but no one else did.

  20. I’m so excited for you, it couldn’t have happened to a better person! πŸ˜€ Good for you for not giving up on your dream! Books are one of my biggest loves and I’m always on the lookout for new treasures for my little ones. I especially love kids books with awesome little girls as the main character, so I’m sure I will love whatever you have in store for us!

    1. You’re so sweet, Kathryn — thank you!! I have many, many dreams and I’m hoping that by the time I’m 80, I will have accomplished a good chunk of them πŸ™‚

  21. Wow!!!! This is incredible. I can’t wait until we can add it to our collection. I can’t wait to hear the details, but it is already an amazing story. I keep thinking how this is an amazing story for your daughter too, to watch this all unfold and see what is possible! I am thrilled for you.

  22. I can’t wait for your book!!! I already know that it’s going to be fantastic. It’s such a natural fit for you, I am so happy that you will be able to express yourself through a children’s book–it’s the best kind of magic! The world of storytelling, visual expression, kids reading, minds being opened… love all of it! Congratulations!

    1. Thank you, Irene! It’s so exciting, it’s kind of frightening, you know? I too believe that books are magic, and that’s a high bar….:-)

  23. I am VERY excited for this book! Especially since the little people in my life look a lot like your daughter. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, the wait is very long, isn’t it? I’m still learning about the different steps and I’m intrigued with how it all comes together, but it’s “slow like molasses in January” as my mother-in-law likes to say πŸ™‚

  24. Congratulations! I love your illustrations and characters so already I’m sold! I think it’s wonderful that you are fulfilling your childhood dreams built from the pieces of your life as an artist, a mother, a blogger. It’s all coming together as it should — just took a little time to gel! Can’t wait to get a copy!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Kay. It does feel like a lot of disparate factors lined up lately, and it’s been surreal and amazing.

  25. I randomly came across your blog through Pinterest and was scrolling through your posts when I came upon your delightful paintings. I stopped to read and found out about your book deal. Congratulations!!!!! How exciting. I’m a teacher and I’ll be sure to get a copy for my classroom when it comes out.

    1. Thank you, Beth!! Lots of work ahead, but I’m beyond thrilled and how amazing that you’d want to include it as part of your classroom. Thank you again!

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