Saturday, February 9, 2013

Firsts: MFRW Mainstream Blog Hop


Welcome to Creative Hodgepodge! I'm so happy to be a part of this blog hop. We are celebrating firsts, and I had to think about the characters in my story The Samurai's Garden, to find a first worth telling you about. I decided to focus on my main character, Hanako. She's a subsistence farmer in Japan during the time known as the Meiji period. Her farm was raided the previous fall, and the vandals killed her husband, ruined her crops, and slaughtered her livestock. She's had a rough life, but the arrival of an ex-samurai named Hiro changes all that. And having Hiro to help with the farm work allows Hanako to experience something new: friendship. A neighbor, the Widow Nakamura, becomes Hanako's first friend:

"Hanako-san."
She nearly dropped the long wooden chopsticks she used to stir her concoction. "Nakamura-san, forgive me," she cried, quickly turning to bow to her esteemed neighbor.
"Please do not stop your work. I was passing by on the way to the village, and the wonderful aroma from your new home enticed me to investigate."
"Thank you. But — this is actually Hiro’s home," she began.
"And you are merely a servant? No, this will be your home soon, when you and Hiro marry. And then you will have servants to prepare your food."
"Servants? No, I —" she paused in her denial, realizing that Hiro, as the head of the household, would undoubtedly hire servants to take care of the housework. The idea was unsettling. After working hard all her life, how could she sit back and let people work for her?
"Have I disturbed you, Hanako-san?"
"Oh! Of course not. Would you like some tea?"
"You are kind to offer, but my son is outside fixing a broken wheel on our wagon. I must be ready to go when he is. But I wanted to let you know — I have heard about the extra samurai Tanaka-san has recruited. You should not have to feed all these hungry men alone. Please allow me to assist you. Since you already have tonight’s meal started, I will send food over for tomorrow."
Hanako stared in amazement at the woman’s offer. It had never occurred to her to ask for help. "I — I am humbled by your generosity, Nakamura-san," she finally managed.
The older woman smiled. "You are so accustomed to doing everything alone. But these men are helping the entire village and surrounding areas. It is only right we should all help to feed them."
Hanako again stammered her thanks. "But how did you hear about the new soldiers? Watanabe-san arrived only today."
"Tanaka-san is a celebrity in the village. When his friend arrived, asking where to find him, word immediately spread. My sons learned that others are coming. When they arrive, we will all be honored to help feed and house them."
Noburo Nakamura appeared at the doorway. He bowed a greeting to Hanako and then to his mother. "Okaasan, the wagon is repaired enough for us to return home. I am sorry to make you wait."
"It is no trouble, Nobu-chan," the widow replied. "I rather enjoyed this opportunity to visit with our neighbor." Turning to Hanako, she repeated her promise to send food the next day, and left.
Hanako returned to her cooking, but as she worked, she marveled at this unfamiliar feeling of contentment. It wasn’t from the fact that she wasn’t hungry or excessively tired. It wasn’t from the fact that she felt safe with three former samurai in her home. It came from her connection with another human being, another woman, who expressed care for her well-being and was willing to help. This must be what people referred to as friendship.
She decided she liked having a friend. 
****
Thank you so much for stopping in! I'm offering a copy of The Samurai's Garden to a randomly selected commenter. All you need to do is to tell me about your first best friend. What made your relationship with them special? If more than twenty people comment, I'll offer another of my books as a prize. Winners will be announced on Friday, February 15. Or if you can't wait, you can order The Samurai's Garden by going to one of these links: Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.
Have a lovely Valentine's Day!

33 comments:

  1. Love the title, the excerpt, and the cherry blossoms on the cover. :)
    *waves* hello fellow hopper.
    bidelia78@yahoo.com

    My best friend {aside from hubby} is a Marine. Tough soldier type, with a heart of gold.

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    1. Thank you! Astraea Press has some very talented cover artists. Thanks for stopping!

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  2. love the book cover! its so pretty

    parisfan_ca@yahoo.com

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  3. That cover is gorgeous! I guess the relationship with my best friend is special because it doesn't matter how long it's been since we've seen each other, or even spoken, or if we live 3000 miles away from each other now that we've grown up - when we do speak nothing has changed, we are still as close as ever. I always know that she'll be there if I need to talk, and the same goes for me. I miss living close to her though!

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Celina. Best friends are like that. You don't need to see each other often to be able to connect.

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  4. My first best friend was a girl who lived two blocks away, just far enough to make my mom worry about me riding my bike there. Even at six, I was independent and headstrong.

    lcahoon7@gmail.com

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    1. Great story, Lynn! I'm sure you appreciated your mom's fears later on when you were in that position!

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  5. I think I'm too old to answer this question. I can remember that her first name was Cheryl and we met in first grade. Alas the friendship did not survive that first year in school. We went to different classrooms in 2nd grade and eventually different schools.

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    1. You're never to old to remember, Rue! But I know, names and places elude me now. And I've lost contact with my first best friend, too.

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  6. My first best friend was a girl named Sue. Her parents were travelers, her dad a professor. During summers their family went to various parts of the world for her Dad to do some 'research'. My family was lucky enough to let their house one summer when we were moving to California. As it turns out, my parents bought the house just two blocks down the street, so when my friend's family returned we spent many many happy days playing and imagining.

    Thanks for asking. Brought back some great memories :)

    Warm regards,
    Christine London

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    1. And thanks for sharing, Christine! Those childhood connections always stay with us, don't they?

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  7. I agree--your cover is absolutely gorgeous! And what a lovely story. There's a very old movie (black & white)I think called the Island--a Japanese farmer and his family eking out their lives on a barren island--but it has some touching moments I've never forgotten. First best friend: I was maybe 4 and liked Carol because she had black, curly hair and I had straight, blonde hair. M. S.

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    1. Thanks, MS. I'll have to check out that movie. Funny how we're often drawn to people who are not like us!

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  8. Just wanted to stop by and say great job everyone. You all have done MFRW so proud!

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  9. Enjoying the blog hop so much fun to see different author sites.

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    1. It is fun to visit different sites, isn't it? Thank you so much for visiting.

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  10. Very nice! The first friendship for your character is a wonderful topic to choose.

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    1. Thank you, Jenna! I had so much fun spending so much time with the characters in this book I had to start a sequel. I have to do a lot more research, though.

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  11. Loved the excerpt!
    My first best friend was when I was in first grade. Her name was Siri Celeste (I won't list her last name. lol). We did everything together! We even spent two weeks sick, laying on the couch, her at one end and me at the other. LOL I lost contact with her in the second grade when we had to move again (my dad was in the service), but I still think about her a lot. I've tried to find her over the years with now luck :-( Anyway...thanks for the great read!

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    1. Thank you for sharing, SD! And thanks for stopping by.

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  12. I don't really remember my first best friend. I think it must have been one of my siblings though, as I had loads of them. I had two best friends in high school which sometimes was problematic. My best friend from college and I are still going strong --over 20 years later!

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    1. Siblings are wonderful best friends. My brothers and I are far apart in age, so we weren't close growing up, but as we've gotten older we've gotten closer. And living through those college years together creates a strong bond, too. Thanks for stopping in, Tess!

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  13. I actually have a group of best first friends. We've known one another since first grade, and that's a long time now. We still get together for dinner/movies or just to chat. They're a great group, and we are best friends forever!

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    1. That's wonderful, Lucy! Nowadays it's unusual for people stay in the same area for so many years. And for a group of friends to stay connected enough to meet on a regular basis - that's really special! Thanks for visiting, and for sharing.

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  14. We met in school and had similar interests.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  15. My first best friend was Susie - and she had 4 sisters. She and I did everything together from the time we were 6 until about the age of 16 - Barbie dolls, bike riding, swingsets, kickball, and later, boys....we got in a lot of trouble together!

    Love the cover of your book!

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  16. What a beautiful cover, and an exotic setting. Reminds me of Christina Courtenay's oriental romances, which I love. I enjoyed reading your bio too - nice to know I'm not the only chaotic creative with too many interests. (Come to think of it, my first best friend was the same!)

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    1. A kindred soul! Thanks so much for stopping in. I'm not familiar with Christina Courtenay - I'll have to look her up.

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  17. Sounds great! Love the cover! My best friend (even to this day) we met in middle school, had a lot in common and kinda just stuck together. Love her! Thanks for sharing! And thanks for the awesome hop and giveaway!
    shadowluvs2read(at)gmail(dot)com

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  18. Thank you all for sharing your wonderful stories! And according to random.org, the winning commenter is-- Lucy Naylor Kubash! Hope you all come back for the next great hop.

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