What happened next—

After taking delivery of 2000 copies of Book 1, life has become even more hectic. I am finding that the business side of publishing, promoting and distributing these readers myself is taking up so much time that there is not much time left in the day for writing! It’s exciting and I get real satisfaction out of each new aspect of the job when I finally master it.

Book 2, Jikanwari (The School Timetable), is currently in transit between China and Sydney and should be delivered around 20 December. We sent Book 3, Jouba Kurabu de (At the Riding Club), to the printer yesterday and Book 4, Yamanobori (Mountain Climbing), is now being illustrated.

We have produced a flyer for the series, which you can download using the following link:
Japanese ReadersSeries 1 Flyer Lo res final

Some people have queried the fact that there is no Hiragana or Japanese script on the covers of the books. The reason for this was that librarians and booksellers would need to be able to read the titles. The stories themselves are completely written in Hiragana, with no Romaji except to indicate pronunciation of Katakana words in Books 1 and 2.  In Books 3 and 4, the Romaji pronunciation has been replaced by Furigana.

I have contacted Japanese Language Teachers’ Associations in all states, to promote the series. People everywhere are so helpful and encouraging, which I find really energising! I have visited some schools with ideas on the many ways these readers can be used in the classroom, and I also have a couple of workshops lined up, as well as conferences to attend in 2013.

My initial motivation for writing this series of readers was to have something, in the multi-level language classroom, for the keen students to do, to practise reading, when they have completed set tasks and are waiting for the rest of the class to finish. I wanted the readers to be fiction stories that would appeal to the 10~14 years age group—that they would read for enjoyment and want to continue reading. I realise now that this is just one way the readers could be used. In coming posts I will explore other ways they could be used to enhance the teaching of Japanese in the beginners’ classroom.

Until next time


Nihon wa hajimete desu—these boxes contain 2000 copies


Rokunin no Tomodachi: Series 1, Book 1 is printed!

I haven’t quite mastered the art of putting photos in my posts, so, as a result and after several attempts, I have posted the first photo of Book 1, separately above. I will be brave and attempt to put the next two photos at the end of this post. That hasn’t worked so I will try and post the two remaining photos separately, after this post.

It’s been a while—almost three months, in fact. That time has been spent editing, organising business cards, flyer for the four titles in the series, and finally getting Book 2 off to the printer.

Last week my husband picked up 2000 copies of Book 1: Nihon wa hajimete desu (Japan—for the first time) from the customs clearance agent and brought them home. This was the most exciting moment for me. This series of readers has been in my mind for four or more years and I have been working on them for about three years (off and on). And now I know that they are becoming a reality!

Nihon wa hajimete desu

Nihon wa hajimete desu

The front cover of Book 1

Business name and ISBNs

In this last week there has been little time for writing as such—I have been flat out on a steep learning curve, finding out in detail what my job as self-publisher involves. Using ‘Self-Publishing made simple’ by Euan Mitchell as my starting point, I began with a business name. Euan strongly recommends I get one, and that’s enough for me. He says it clarifies the distinction between the author and the publisher on the part of booksellers, as well as down-playing the fact that the books are self-published.  Once I had decided on a name (a simple process that took me 3 days, because I made the mistake of asking too many people to give an opinion), I was able to register on-line at ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission). I now have a registered business name ‘TT press’ for the next three years.

The next task was obtaining ISBNs. For this I visited Thorpe-Bowker online. Thorpe-Bowker allocates ISBNs for all Australian books. I purchased a block of 10 ISBNs and 4 barcodes. I have since discovered that I also need one of the ISBNs to be a series ISBN, so I will need one more barcode to complete the first series.

I also had to write the ‘Copyright blurb’ and in researching what to write for that, I discovered that I will be required to send a copy of the published books to the National Library of Australia. I can also receive Cataloguing-in-Publication data from them and this means that my books will be added to the national database that libraries use. I have worked out how to apply for this, so, as soon as I receive my ISBNs I will be doing that.

My head is spinning from all this, and I still haven’t had a go at uploading photos (or even searching for  a photo to upload). That will be my task for the next post.

Until then…


Monday’s post—a little late!

Everything has suddenly become hectic this week. I meet with Karen on Tuesday to discuss the final tweaks for Reader 1 and also to work out the storyboard for Reader 2. 

No matter how hard I look, or how many people also proof read Reader 1 for me, I continue to find typos or, more often, word breaks in the wrong places. I even found more after our meeting. I know there are no major problems—but I want it to be perfect. At the moment I am stuck, struggling with a table, trying to get the word list to cooperate and keep the a japanese words appropriately lined up with their English meanings. This is not as easy as it sounds and I am becoming frustrated. Help is on its way, in the form of my daughter’s partner, who I am expecting to call from Melbourne any minute with a super simple solution. Then my job as writer will be almost over (for Book 1, that is). Karen is going to send me a couple of cover designs from which to choose and I have to look into ISBNs. (I know I’ve got info about ISBNs filed somewhere from a course I’ve done about getting published). It’s probably time to get out the book on self-publishing as I know there’s a lot of work ahead of me that has not a lot to do with actual writing.  

I am finding this whole challenge exciting and feel inspired and invigorated by the progress I have made so far.

By my next post I will work out how to upload some images and make this Reader project come to life in this blog.

Until Sunday! (I’ll have my head down, mastering technology)

Cheers   Trish

Nearly final draft of Japanese Reader No. 1!

Today I received a ‘nearly final draft’ of Reader No 1: ‘Nihon wa hajimete desu’ (First time in Japan) from Karen for review. As I mentioned in my last post, I am finding it hard to believe that my dream of producing these readers is finally coming to fruition! There are still a few minor glitches to fix—glitches in matching the text to the illustrations. These misunderstandings have been the result of my inability to explain clearly the Japanese text. I tend to forget that it really seems to be ‘gobble-dy-gook’ to anyone who has not learned the code. We have had several meetings to discuss the meaning of the text and also to get the cultural significance, not only correct and appropriate, but also relevant to the current generation of high school students.

The illustrations are great. Karen has been very professional in her approach to this project, and her illustrations are colourful and appealing to Aussie kids as well as reflecting and highlighting the culture of day-to-day living in Japan. 

Today we discussed the latest draft by phone and have now planned a meeting for next Monday, to have a final discussion of this story and work out a storyline for the next one. We realise we still have our work cut out to complete our deadline of four readers by early- to mid-November.



Back from a Break, and here to stay

I don’t seem to have been doing too well at this blogging thing. Sadami, my illustrator, suddenly found herself with a new set of deadlines and had to withdraw from illustrating the readers. Life got hectic in other areas and keeping up with the blog became too much. Now, I’m back on track and committed to regular posts—at least twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

Fortunately, Sadami had recommended a book designer, Karen Carter, before she withdrew. Karen and I had already made contact via email, and when I called her to say that the project would be on hold for a while as I had lost my illustrator, she said: ‘I’m also an illustrator.’ This was fantastic news for me, and she sent me a copy of her portfolio. I liked her work, she is very adaptable and has now been working on the project since the beginning of April. She will design and illustrate the books and each book’s individual cover, as well as a theme for the series, and she will deliver the books to the printer in the appropriate format. So far  this business of self-publishing seems to be progressing very smoothly indeed!

As Karen doesn’t speak any Japanese, I give her translations of the script and we meet periodically to discuss ideas. She has conducted extensive research on Japanese manga-style illustrations, and I am really excited with what she has come up with. We have decided that this first series of four readers will be in picture book format, with manga-style illustrations, and each reader will be 28 pages in length. The stories revolve around the experiences of an Australian boy who wins a scholarship to study Ninjutsu at a special junior high school in a small town in the mountains in Japan. I am expecting to get a finished version of the first reader in the series by the middle of this week. I can hardly believe that what has been a dream of mine for some years is finally coming to fruition.

Japanese picture book readers for beginners

Konnichiwa! Hisashiburi desu ne!  Hello! It’s been a while since I blogged!

I have been writing a set of picture book readers in Japanese, for beginner learners of the Japanese language.  There is a real need for supplementary materials such as this, as there is very little available beyond text books and related course materials.  When I say I have been writing them—this has been an off/on occupation for some time now.  I had sent them to a publisher of Japanese teaching materials but the potential market was deemed too small. So I left the project on hold for about 12 months. 

I have now decided to take the plunge and self-publish the readers and today marks the first step on this new leg of my journey towards self-publishing. I found a Japanese illustrator, Sadami Konchi, and today I met with her to discuss the project. The meeting went well and we are both excited about bringing my dream to fruition, although I am also a little apprehensive about the amount of work and steepness of the learning curve involved. To keep me on track and focused on my goal I intend to document my progress here, and I will welcome comments and advice along the way.

I’m sure I’ll have much to report in the next weeks!




Konnichiwa! Hello and Welcome!

Welcome to my blog!

Let me introduce myself.  I grew up in the nearly-beachside-suburb of Balgowlah, just north of the Spit Bridge in Sydney.  As a child I was fascinated by adventure/mystery stories, loved climbing trees and was crazy about horses and learning other languages.

I studied Science at the University of Sydney and taught Science in NSW state high schools for twenty years before changing to become a Languages teacher, specialising in German and Japanese.

I now live in Maraylya with my Japanese husband (whom I met at a German language school in Bavaria), usually one or two of my adult children who drift in and out, a horse, two dogs and five chickens.  Our family culture is strongly Japanese, set in an Australian environment, which is sometimes confusing, but never predictable or boring.  Intercultural communication and mis-communication are part of our daily life.

Since retiring from full-time teaching last year I have embarked on the tasks of writing Young Adult fiction set in bi-cultural, bi-lingual situations, picture stories for beginner students of Japanese and a memoir of my experiences with Japanese culture.