From time to time, Archway Publishing turns over its blog to its authors, giving them the opportunity to share stories and perspectives about their individual self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Caryn Umetsu, author of “Little Liar”. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.
I was 4-years-old when I left my birth country of Japan, my parents divorced and that’s how I came to live with my new father in Hawaii. My mom often played a song about a little blue-eyed blond doll made of celluloid who was leaving America to go to Japan. The doll was homesick and wondered if she would make friends. By the tone of the latter half of the song, we know that although she left her home country, she made fast friends in her new country. That is how I felt, I was sad for the divorce but thankful for my new life and the new me. I renamed myself Caryn which means “one of the seven stars of the constellation Orion.”
I don’t remember much of Japan but I do remember saying good bye to my aunt and uncle as we pulled out of the train station. Nothing is more romantic and forlorn, the way a train leaves ever so slowly then faster and faster leaving behind your loved ones who grow smaller and smaller like figurines in a dollhouse. My aunt and uncle gave me a book to remember them by, a Chinese folktale called “The Magic Brush”.
For most of my life, books have always played a significant role in shaping who I am. First grade was the first time that I ever set foot in school. I didn’t know how to speak, read, or write English in my new country; my mom said I cried every day for two weeks. My dad was the one who patiently sat with me under the lamp on the edge of the couch on a nightly basis to read with me “A Pig Can Jig.”
Every Saturday, my dad took my sister and I to the library where we could borrow as many books as we wanted, we felt like Hansel and Gretel at the Gingerbread House. In no time, I was out of the ELL class and devouring whatever I could get my hands on, I moved beyond the picture books to the chapter books. I moved up quickly in reading level from the very bottom to the very top; my teachers were amazed and so proud of me. Later in college years, my sister and I said that we would become sister writers, I would be Emily and she would be Charlotte Bronte.
My latest children’s book “Little Liar” is based on my oldest son “Bobby”. When he was four and my middle son “Mitch” was two, we wrote the “Little Liar” book together and after many nights, we finally finished and stapled it together with pride. Although we went to the library twice a week, that was their favorite book. Even with all the dinosaur and construction books we borrowed and reborrowed, it continued to be their favorite bedtime story. I still have the purple tattered and torn copy of the original book which I used to create “Little Liar.”
The most powerful tool about self-publishing that I have come to find out is that we are able to, as authors, be in full command of how the book turns out. For me, the illustrations were truly important. I liked the cartoonish style of illustrating, similar to a “Peanuts” comic book. It was beyond words, the feeling that we three experienced, bringing our once beloved and nearly forgotten book that we had created so long ago when I was a housewife, to life. “Bobby” and “Mitch” are now 23 and 21, a fireman and a marine. My youngest son who is introduced on the last page of the book is 14.
I have so many books that I am currently working on and I hope to continue publishing. It has been so amazing working with Archway Publishing. I feel that every day brings me closer to my dream. Just like Marie Lelay in the movie “Hereafter,” I will one day become an author proudly sitting at a book signing.
Thank you Archway, I believe what you do is phenomenal. Check out my new website carynyumetsu.com. I am also making a plushie of Bobby by Budsies and another Bobby doll by Ginta from ParisJavaDoll from Etsy. What I have in mind is that eventually my book will be popular enough and in demand so I can order many plushies to sell with my book. I am also preparing for a book launch with SCBWI. If you want to email me, I am at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am a high school 11th grade English teacher so I have summers and many holidays off to work on my books. Let’s network and help each other make our dreams a reality. I would love to hear and learn from you!
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