Welcome back! While I've enjoyed sharing my Christmas novella with you, this week I'd like to return to my Japanese historical novel The Samurai's Garden. I've spent the last two week promoting this book by visiting the blogs of several other authors. Many, many thanks go to Nancy Gideon, S G Rogers, Catherine Bennett, Lindsay Downs, Lisa Orchard, Diane Burton, Jennifer Lowery, Babette James, and Marsha Ward for hosting me on their blogs!
So now that I'm settled back at my virtual home, I'm busy working on my next projects (I'll share some of those after the holidays!) as well as looking for new ways to promote my November releases.
Recently, we observed Veterans Day, and I joined with others in paying tribute to our men in uniform. It occurred to me that Hiro Tanaka and his friends provided the same kind of protection for his village as our soldiers do for us. Here's an excerpt that explains how he accomplished this:
During one of Hiro’s unexplained absences, Hanako noticed a stranger standing silently at the edge of the field. The last time strangers came, Hiro and Ginjiro had fought them off. But this man looked more dangerous than the two ruffians who had attempted to abduct her. She looked around for Ginjiro, wondering how she could signal a warning to him. Her hands trembled as she attempted to appear unconcerned, continuing to tend to the radishes, but her eyes were not focused on her work. Faster and faster, she moved toward the end of the row away from the stranger. Quick, furtive glances assured her that the man had not moved from the edge of the field. Finally, she spotted Ginjiro, working in the next field with the ox and the ancient plow. She gave up all pretense of calm and raced to him. He looked up in surprise as she approached him.
"What is wrong?" he asked.
Hanako struggled to catch her breath as she gasped out a description of the man at the roadside. Ginjiro’s expression tightened, and he checked for his sword before heading to where she had seen him. He trod slowly, looking around for signs of other intruders, until he spied the newcomer. Then his face broke into a wide grin, and he re-sheathed his sword before running to greet the man.
Hanako breathed a sigh of relief. If Ginjiro knew this person, he was probably not a threat to her. But why would an acquaintance of his travel here? Perhaps he was a relative.
Ginjiro brought the silent man to her and introduced him as a former comrade. He had answered a request to come and help the town defend against the ronin. The newcomer was immediately invited inside for tea. Since the new house had a larger kitchen and dining area, Hanako usually prepared and served meals there. She got out her fine china cups and special tea. As she worked, she caught snippets of their conversation.
The newcomer, Watanabe-san, was younger than Hiro and Ginjiro. Like Hiro, he walked with a proud, erect posture that bespoke a life of privilege and importance. She suspected that he, too, came from a long line of samurai. She wondered what business he had with Hiro.
Hanako strained to hear the men’s conversation as she prepared the tea and a light snack. Ginjiro’s voice carried more clearly, and she could make out his words. Being a lower-level samurai, he was respectful as he spoke to the younger man.
"Watanabe-san, we are honored you came here to assist us. The ronin have caused much damage here and in other nearby towns in the last year."
"Yes, Tanaka-san told me about their evil deeds," the newcomer replied. "It is a shame that some of our kind have chosen to use their skills in dishonorable ways. It was an honor for Tanaka-san to invite me, and I was intrigued by his offer of payment."
Payment? Hiro was paying men to help fight the ronin? Hanako nearly dropped the teapot.
"I have never owned property, and since I am a younger brother, I will not inherit my family’s estate. My older brother would provide for me, of course, but a chance to have my own land was an enticement for me."
Hanako brought the tea in to the men, bowed, and left to complete dinner preparations. But she left the sliding shoji screen open just enough so she could hear more of their conversation.
So Hiro has promised land in exchange for fighting power. Such a brilliant idea. But is he purchasing this land to give to them?
"I have spoken to Fukazawa-san and Kobayashi-san, and they should arrive within the week," the newcomer continued.
The rest of the conversation was lost to her. There are more men coming! He is recruiting an army! The village will be protected! She let the rest of the conversation flow as she prepared the finest meal she could provide.
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and find more excerpts by visiting the blogs of other authors. Those links can be found at Sweet Saturday Samples.