Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012!

Goodbye 2012! I don't even know where to start. It was one of the most amazing years of my life. So much happened. On April 3, 2012, my book Lessons from the Monk I Married launched into the world. You can see reviews of the book on this sidebar. That launch changed my life. Shortly after the book launched, I went on book tour with my husband to Washington, Oregon, California, New York, New Jersey and Baltimore!

I tried to keep up with weekly lessons on this blog, but I started writing monthly lessons instead and even that tapered off a bit. I wrote much about my tour and events on this blog in 2012.

In July, my husband and I started combining our talents and did a yoga/writing retreat on Whidbey Island, WA that was sold out! You can read about it here! We went on another Yoon's Yoga Bliss retreat to Sedona, AZ in October 2012. We recently got back from Las Vegas and Zion National Park over Christmas.

That trip inspired me to go back to the start. I started this blog in 2009 with the intention of sharing my thoughts in the form of lessons I have learned. On January 1, 2010, I announced publicly that I would be writing 365 Lessons on my blog. Writing every single day was such a challenge for me, but somehow I DID IT! That commitment and that resolution to write a blog post every single day helped me to complete my book, get an agent and a book deal. My entire journey from blog to book was written on this blog in 2010 in the form of lessons. That year of blogging is also going to become my next book called: 365 Lessons. The book is for ANYONE who has ever had a dream or goal in life and had the courage to start it and maybe even see it become a reality!

Writing a blog post EVERYDAY was so hard for me. I swore I'd never do it again. But here I am on December 31, 2012 with a new banner up on my blog. Oh boy, here we go! This year I vow to write EVERY SINGLE DAY for 365 days. But I don't want to only focus on my journey. I feel we are all so connected. The word "inspire" means to be "in spirit". When we really work hard at something, commit to something and complete our goal, we become "inspiring" to others. People are attracted to that energy of "the spirit that is in all of us." Inspiration is not something I own. It does not belong to ANYONE, everyone has this quality within them. This year I am going to commit myself to writing about the people, things, places and situations that inspire me. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I vow to write:


1. One daily, inspiring quote from someone who inspires me
2. A daily blog post about a person, thing, place or situation that inspires me
3. How I will apply that inspiration from others to my own life

By doing this, I hope to connect to the inspiration that is in and all around us. I hope to share it here so that you may read about it and also become inspired to do and share great things in your life. I hope that you will leave many comments and let me know about posts you like or inspiring people, places, things or situations you know about and would like share. Maybe you'd like to share about something inspiring that YOU are doing! Who knows? What you share here might also become one of my 365 posts! The biggest thing I hope to happen is that we might all be able to connect through the inspiration that will be HERE on this blog FOR ONE WHOLE YEAR! I think 2013 is going to be a GREAT YEAR friends!

The picture from this post is from my very last walk with my husband in 2012 around Greenlake in Seattle. The birds on the lake represent all the inspiring people, places, things and situations that I have yet to encounter. The sky and calmness of the water also inspired me today. So there it is friends! I hope you will join me on this journey!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Foreign Book Sales Offers: Croatia, Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong....Oh My!

I never expected Croatia, the country of a thousand islands, to be the first to make an offer on the foreign rights for Lessons from the Monk I Married. As a friend said on Facebook, "Leave it to the Eastern Europeans to be the first pioneers to take on a book like LFTMIM." Shortly after that, my agent let me know that a Taiwanese Publisher made an offer for Complex Chinese Rights!

Not to turn "Fifty Shades of Gray" on you, but all I could say at the time was "Oh, My!"

My book is selling in foreign markets! I can't believe it. I can't believe it will be translated into CHINESE! I'm imagining people in Hong Kong and Taiwan sitting on a bus reading my book. Maybe I'll go on an overseas book tour and have the chance to be on CPR (Croatian Public Radio).

Of course my mind started reeling a thousand days into the future.

And then I thought of the past....

I still remember when my book was just an idea in my head and then a rough outline on a yellow legal pad. I had no idea on earth how to publish a book at that time. But the book was burning inside me and I knew it would get out. It had to be published. I felt it from my core.

Step by sometimes agonizing, painful, uncertain steps, I got to here. I never gave up my focus. There were people who cheered me on from the start and others who told me to "hang up the towel" when the idea first sprang from my lips. I chose to stick close by the former group of friends and ignore the later.

What I learned is that when you have an idea burning inside you that is begging to come out and be born, it WILL HAPPEN. It may not happen how you planned, but it will.

Patience is key. It's the biggest key. Without patience, you will hang up the towel too soon and step back into a comfortable life.

I received news about the foreign sales a while ago, but it still feels like yesterday. I'm working on keeping my mind in the present and not getting too far ahead or behind myself.

Tomorrow I head off for a silent meditation course. I will not speak for several days. I look forward to being in silence and focusing on the present. December is such a busy time and I welcome several days of silence to reflect on all that I'm grateful for. I am particularly grateful for this blog and all the wonderful people I have met here over the years.

If you haven't left a comment here before, please leave one. I love to hear from readers and I'd love to hear from you!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Just a little announcement first: The monk I married and I have a yoga/writing retreat coming up on the Big Island of Hawaii March 20-26, 2013 and have spots for one or two more people! For more information you can check here.

Now on to The Next Big Thing....

Laura Munson, NYT Bestselling author of This Is Not the Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, recently tagged me and invited me to participate in The Next Big Thing, a sort of blog hop that has been hitting blogs all over the place, so much so that it was difficult to find someone who has not yet heard of it or taken part in it! I had the great privilege to meet Laura while she was on  book tour for her debut memoir (above) about a time in her life when her marriage and everything around her appeared to unraveling and how she made a decision, in spite of it all, to be happy. I loved the book and read it in two sittings. Laura now leads writing workshops nationally and internationally. You can read more about Laura's retreats here. Laura also blogs here.

So Laura has handed me this "writer's torch" and I'm meant to pass it on, but first I must also answer a few questions about my Next Big Thing or, in other words, my next book! I have several books in the wings, but 365 Lessons will be my next one. So here it goes....

What is the working title of your book?

365 Lessons: How I Found my Voice, Got an Agent and a Book Deal While Blogging Every Single Day for One Year

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The entire book presented itself to me in the form of lessons I wrote on my blog from January 1, 2010-December 31, 2010. I had no idea, at the time, where this year of blogging would take me and how hard it would be to blog
every
single
day
I blogged through pain, fear, lethargy, rejection, boredom, hunger, insomnia and happiness, excitement and bliss too. I blogged when there was absolutely nothing to say, because I had committed myself to it.
I blogged about commitment and focus too.

I realized that lessons could be found everywhere. I found them in fortune cookies, in billboards on my way to work, in a cup of tea or something a stranger said to me. I had no idea that I would find my greatest teachers right in front of me.

I wrote my first book, Lessons from the Monk I Married, a book about my 15-year journey with my husband, while simultaneously writing these 365 Lessons. My entire journey from blog to book is in those 365 Lessons. (By the way, most of my original 365 Lessons have been removed from this blog as they will be available in book form in the not-so-distant future, but you can still get a sneak peek of some of those lessons here)

What genre does your book fall under?

Memoir/Blogging/Book Writing/Self Help/Inspiration

Which actors would you choose to play your character in your movie rendition?

I don't see 365 Lessons as a movie. However, Julie and Julia was a big success, so you never know! I do think my memoir, Lessons from the Monk I Married, a love story about my 15-year journey with my husband, a former Korean Buddhist monk would make a beautiful movie! Not sure who would play the characters? I'd have to think about that a little more.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

365 days of doing anything is a L-O-N-G time, with no guarantee of knowing what curve balls or stumbling blocks life might throw at you preventing you from making it to the end, but Katherine Jenkins did exactly that in 2010 when she wrote 365 Lessons on her blog, chronicling her journey to finding her voice, getting an agent and eventually landing a book deal for her first memoir, Lessons from the Monk I Married.

Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?

I have great faith that my lovely agent will find a wonderful home for this book with an amazing publisher!

How long did it take you to write the first manuscript?

One year

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Julie and Julia or 365 Thank Yous

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

This book is for anyone who has ever had a dream. It's an inspirational book about how small steps in the right direction can lead one to one's dream even without knowing what's beyond each step. It's about moving out of the comfort zone into the unknown. It's about keeping commitments and following through to the end despite all challenges and obstacles.

Now I must pass the torch on to fellow writers/bloggers. I'm very inspired by the three writers/bloggers below:

Becky Jain is a communications specialist with a passion for social media, currently working with the United Nations. After graduating from college, she spent many years living abroad. She is working on a memoir of these experiences in France, the UK and India dealing with gender, spirituality and a quest for belonging. She lives with her Indian husband of seven years in Astoria, New York where she's active in the local Queens writing community. She blogs at www.beckyblab.com and tweets from @bexband.


Allison Ellis is a Seattle-based freelance writer, aspiring author, and mother of two. Her essays and articles have appeared in Redbook, Working Mother, Fodor's Travel Guides, NBC, MediaPost, Red Tricycle, Parent Map, This I Believe, and The Seattle Times. Read more of her work at www.allisonellis.com. Her new blog, www.widowinaspeedo.com, focuses on "wacky widow wisdom" when it comes to love, marriage, death, grief, and other all-around good times.

More links: 
http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2531860-allison-ellis


Dr. Jody Stanislaw is the author of a brand new captivating book called HUNGER, an Adventurous Journey of Finding Peace Within. Her book offers readers an exhilarating account of the amazing stories she encountered while working at a holistic health spa in Thailand. The many life lessons she shares throughout the book leave readers feeling empowered and inspired.

Dr. Jody is also a naturopathic doctor. She received her doctorate degree at one of the best holistic medical schools in the country located in Seattle and has helped hundreds of patients transform their health from flailing to fabulous. She is not only well trained professionally, but at the age of 7, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and as a result, has been a diligent student of health and well-being her entire life.





Monday, October 29, 2012

ON TOUR: Yoga at Sedona's Powerful Vortexes and a Predestined Meeting with a Bicycling Buddhist Monk

Was it Sedona's powerful vortex energy that led us to this chance meeting of two Korean monks? Well, one is a monk and the other one is a former monk and my husband. Several months ago I received an e-mail from someone who had read a review of my book, Lessons from the Monk I Married,  in Shambhala Sun and contacted me about writing a book about a Korean Buddhist monk named Daeung Sunim who is bicycling across the Americas in what is called "Journey of Spirit." He started in Vancouver, Canada and is heading down to the tip of South America. He doesn't speak much English and is depending mostly on the generosity of others to see this trip through to the end. While the story sounded intriguing, I didn't feel I had enough connection to the story to write a book about it. However, I did mention to the person who contacted me that I'd write a blog post about this monk's story. That was weeks ago and I still had it in the back of my mind that I would write something, but never found the time.

Last weekend, my husband was leading a small yoga retreat in Sedona, AZ. He wanted to take some of his students to the vortex locations in Sedona and practice yoga and meditate there. What is a vortex?  Apparently, a vortex is the funnel shape that is created by whirling fluid or energy. Hurricanes and tornadoes are well known vortexes, but there are also vortexes of energy under the earth. In Sedona, there are four main energy vortexes where magnetism has been measured to be the strongest. Even Juniper trees near these vortexes take on a strange twisted shape and appear to have responded in a physical way to the energy at these sites. This is a photo of a twisted juniper tree at Cathedral Rock Vortex and there is a view of Bell Rock Vortex in the background.

We practiced yoga and meditated at two of these vortexes. I definitely felt a flow of very subtle energy while hiking on these rocks and practicing yoga. I also felt grounded, connected, happy and at ease. Before hiking up onto Cathedral Rock, we made our own human yoga vortex down below. The view was tremendous from the top of Cathedral Rock. It absolutely took our breaths away. We didn't want to come down from the top and stayed up there for quite some time. Below is a picture of my husband and me on top of Cathedral Rock.

We ended our day with so much energy. I felt so happy and fortunate to have this experience and it was my birthday weekend too, which made it all the more special for me. The next day, with all the energy we were still feeling, we decided to go to the Grand Canyon. My husband and one member of our retreat had never been there, so we set out on a two and a half hour journey from Sedona to the Grand Canyon. 

In the car, I started to tell a few of the retreat members about the Buddhist monk who was bicycling across the Americas. I mentioned how I thought he was probably in the Grand Canyon area too because I had seen information about that on his Facebook Fanpage. Less than an hour later, we were making the turn onto the freeway that would take us to the Grand Canyon and I spotted a man on a bicycle. He was covered from head to toe, including his face, in order to protect himself from the wind and sun. I drove past him and then just put on my brakes. 

"That's him!" I shouted. 

I could not physically see if it was him, but I felt it. I felt it at the very core of my being that this was the monk who was riding his bicycle across the Americas. I pulled the car over to the side of the road and told my husband to tell him, in Korean, how I knew who he was. The monk was just astonished to see us and to be speaking Korean to a former monk brother. We hugged and smiled and talked. There was a great energy exchange between us all. The monk seemed relieved to see us. I don't know if he had had a particularly long and lonely stretch of highway before he met us, but he seemed so happy to see us. He took a picture and then we all took pictures. We gave him an apple, orange and some trail bars and wished him the best of luck on his travels and we left him to make his "journey of spirit" on his own. I was smiling all the way to the Grand Canyon. I could not believe I had met this gentle soul who I had heard so much about. Who knows if it had anything to do with the vortexes or the energy of the place? What I do know for sure is that this was not a meaningless coincidence. My husband is quoted in my book as saying, "When the time is right, we will meet the people we are supposed to meet." I couldn't agree more.




Monday, September 24, 2012

ON TOUR: Oprah Calling.....

"Next thing you know, you'll be on Oprah." This is what friends have said, but for some reason it never struck me as something that would really happen.

 To be quite honest, I've had several dreams about it. Very real dreams. Dreams so real that I had to shake my head a few times and snap myself back to reality. The thing is, I like Oprah. She is one of the top 5 people, along with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Barack Obama, Eckhart Tolle, and Krishna Das, who I'd like to spend an afternoon with. 

So perhaps I shouldn't have shrieked out loud at midnight last Tuesday, when I got the call (or the e-mail to be precise). But I did.

I'm not good at hiding news. Never tell me a secret. Just saying.

So my husband was drifting off to sleep next to me, when I decided to check my "junk box" on my iPhone. I was scrolling past ads for CASH LOANS, daily coupons, a memory foam mattress sale, free trials for penis enlargement, a solution for hair loss, something about a magic green coffee bean and then this in the subject line:

OWN TV-Pilot Episode

This wasn't an ad for a new TV show. This e-mail was addressed to me. It started with "Hello Katherine."

I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I went on to read the rest of the message to my husband who was just about to fade off to sleep, but perked up with the news.

These were the sentences that hit me that this was REAL:

"While researching I came across an excerpt from your book Lessons from the Monk I Married and found it to be extremely powerful and a unique perspective on love.  We think it would make a great fit for the first episode."

It was a producer in Los Angeles who is putting together a pilot episode about "love" for a new series for OWN TV and he was wondering if we could do a Skype interview.

Before I could gather my wits, we were Skyping with the episode director. Here's what we looked like in our Skype interview:



Mind you, I didn't have much time to think about outfits. It all happened so fast. We were in the midst of remodeling our house and smelled of paint fumes. I'm just happy they couldn't smell where we were.

I think the interview went really well. I was informed that our recorded interview would be sent to the executive producers who would make a decision about whether or not to use our story for the show and he would let me know.

I haven't heard back yet, but I've been in this place before.

I think our story would make an excellent first episode on LOVE and they'd be silly to pass us up.

There, I said it.

In all honesty, I felt the interview went great! We had fun and we were ourselves.

No matter what happens, we were happy to have had the opportunity to interview for the show.

Today, here in the Lessons from the Monk I Married household, life continues on. I started a new quarter at the college teaching American Culture to 29 ESL students from all over the world, the monk I married got stung by bee on the way to the mailbox and his finger swelled up right before his yoga class, toxic fumes from our newly refinished bathtub cost me a few brain cells that I can't afford to lose, and our furnace went kaput. But I can't really complain. Life is quite GRAND and I'm happy for every moment in my life, even the ones that seem trying.

Calling Oprah...

Oprah, if you are out there, I'd just like to say that getting an e-mail from one of your producers really made my day, but the show must go on....




Friday, September 7, 2012

On Tour: A House Remodel, A Magazine Gig, and A Million Other Things....

I'm a pretty focused person, but lately I've been all over the map. I have so much on my plate these days that I'm having difficulty focusing and prioritizing what should come first. I haven't been online as much as I hoped. I haven't slept in my own bed since August 3rd due to a sudden house remodel. I'm absolutely thrilled that it is happening, but I feel a bit "uprooted" to say the least. I'm not grounded at all.

All of my earthly possessions (which don't really amount to too much) are stuffed in the garage and not in any orderly fashion either. I've been switching off between a few outfits for a month. I have a couple little satchels of things with me and I've been living with those and they have somehow carried me through all the house surfing we've been doing.

I have to say that we've been very lucky to have such wonderful friends who have let us come and stay at their lovely abodes during this "uprooting" and "gutting out" process. Currently we are house sitting at my best friend's parent's house which is the ultimate retreat in the city and is situated along a lovely river. I really can't complain. This place is a writer's paradise. 

It's interesting how the gutting out of a house on the physical level can often feel like a gutting out on a mental/spiritual level as well. My husband's handles the unpleasantness of it all quite well. He jumps right into the destruction and gets to work. I, on the other hand, have wanted to avoid the house at all costs during the construction phase, preferring instead to enjoy the new surroundings of where we are currently staying. I am better at handling messes from afar and doing the documenting, writing and recording of the event. I'd prefer to do the organizing and come back when it's all done. I really wish I were the kind of person who could roll up my sleeves, get dirty and GET TO WORK, but I'd much rather write about it. Here's a photo of my husband who pulled out all the old floor boards of our 1940s Seattle bungalow. He's my hero...really!



Here are the good points and bad points about moving out of ones comfort zone. In this case, the comfort zone is our house, but it could relate to any change in life.

Bad Points:

1. You can't find anything and it makes you confused. Things aren't where they are supposed to be.
2. Everything is a mess and turned upside down.
3. You are not sure how things will get done or if they ever will.
4. You wonder if the contractors will show up.
5. You are not sure if you can afford all of this, but you proceed.
6. A lot of fear comes up and you wonder if you deserve to have the things you really want in life.
7. Things get broken in the process and you make mistakes.
8. You feel scared and unsettled.
9. You question your reason for doing something in the first place and sometimes feel like throwing in the towel and giving up.
10. You can't sleep in your own bed because it's under a pile of stuff in the garage and you can't sleep in your house because there's no water or electricity and the place is covered in a thick layer of dust.

Good Points:

1. You branch out from your comfort zone and get to know your friends and you have an opportunity to be part of their lives and see the world from their comfort zones which expands your own.
2. You realize that when you start to work toward a dream, people naturally want to help you and they are much more generous than you expected.
3. The generosity of others can often be baffling and inspiring at the same time and it makes you want to be generous as well.
4. When each tiny bridge gets crossed in the process, it makes you believe more in your dreams and your ideas.
5. You get to try out some new beds (we slept in a lot of comfortable beds) and environments which may prompt you to buy a new bed or get some new ideas for your own house.
6. You see your life from a wider perspective and realize that you can actually live with just a few satchels of clothing and things in various places and still be happy, if not happier.
7. You build something together.
8. You share ideas with others.
9. You see a beautiful transformation that makes you want to transform other areas of your life or at least expand them.
10. You get to enjoy the fruits of all your hard labor and work.

Recently other areas of my life are expanding too! I'm working on two books and I got asked to be a contributor at Shambhala Sun Magazine! Perhaps when one thing starts to expand, its just a matter of time before all other areas of ones life start to expand as well. The hardest part is deciding to take the initial leap of faith and to just go for it in spite of all the obstacles that may be against you. But if you never try, then you certainly will never know.




Thursday, August 2, 2012

ON TOUR: Book Review in Shambhala Sun and a Yoga/Writing Retreat in Sedona


So I'm not technically ON TOUR anymore, but there are some tour stops coming up on the horizon. I think the next one may be Phoenix, Arizona in October, but I'll keep you posted on that. It's been a busy week, but somehow I got through it. I've got so many projects and ideas on all burners. I can't share yet, because they are sort of half-baked, but I will soon. I can share some other news though.

Yesterday I was feeling a bit tired after work and my husband suggested that we go take a 3-mile walk around Greenlake. When the weather is nice in Seattle, you really don't want to miss out. So after our walk, I wanted to stop by PCC, our local grocery store, to get a Kombucha, some red grapes and check if the latest issue of Shambhala Sun was on the magazine stand yet. Lo and behold, it was. I picked it up and began flipping through it. Mind Waves on Page 39 caught my eye. How curious that Shambhala had decided to reprint an excerpt from Shunryu Suzuki's book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. It was one of the first books I read about meditation and I mentioned it in my book, Lessons from the Monk I Married. I continued flipping through the pages and there is was!


A review of my book was on page 83 of the September 2012 issue of Shambhala Sun and it was a good one! Here's a little taste of the review:

"Lessons from the Monk I Married is travel writing at its best. It takes us deep into another culture while documenting a profound inner journey."

Well, I have to say, it was the perfect ending to my day!

In other news, we are gearing up for another yoga/writing retreat October 25-28 in Sedona, Arizona!
We had twenty participants on our last yoga/writing retreat at The Yoga Lodge on Whidbey Island, WA and excellent feedback, so we've decided to carry on with these. If you are interested in joining us on this retreat, please contact my husband Yoon at info@yoonsyogabliss.com. The retreat is filling up and we are offering 20% off if you register before August 15th (The poster says July 30th, but we've extended it). That date is fast approaching, so don't miss out on this great deal.

Yoga and writing are the perfect combination, in my opinion. Yoga helps one to go inward and often that is where we find our best writing.


Best writing has nothing to do with being perfect, it has to do with uncovering and discovering what we are meant to do and/or meant to write and share. On our last retreat, not everyone who attended was a yogi or a writer. That was not so important. But by the end of the retreat it was clear that everyone had gotten in touch with a deeper part of themselves. They had new clarity on the direction they wanted to take and yoga, writing and collaging were tools we used to get us there.

On this retreat coming up, we get the added beauty of Sedona, Arizona—red rocks, a labyrinth, a sky full of more stars than you knew existed, a full moon, beautiful fall weather, hikes to several vortexes, river wading, organic vegetarian meals, meditation....and of course yoga and writing! I can't wait and I hope to see you there!

I'm going to really try and post once a week! Read here for all my posts on yoga and here for posts on writing.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

ON TOUR: So You Want to Publish a Book—One Writer's Publishing Journey

So you want to publish a book and have no idea how to go about it. My own publishing journey is chronicled in the 365 Lessons I wrote in 2010. Each person who has published a book has his/her own experience of the process. The best part about having a blog is all the great bloggers and writers I've had the fortune of coming in contact with. Hemmie Martin, UK author, is one of those people. I believe I met Hemmie on Twitter and later discovered her blog called Hemmie-isms and found that she too had a first novel coming out around the same time as mine.

Her book, The Divine Pumpkin, is a very engaging story about Forensic Nurse Paloma Parker who appears to have her life in order except for a meaningful relationship. During her counseling sessions with a young offender named Ella, she discovers a connection she never expected to find. I loved this book so much and was completely drawn up in the characters' lives. I was particularly fascinated with how Paloma's life ran so parallel to that of Ella's life, the young offender who she was counseling. It seemed like they both had so much to learn from one another and that they weren't that different from one another when we were able to get a closer look at their lives. Interestingly, Hemmie is not only a writer, but has also worked as a Forensic Nurse working with young offenders. I wondered how much of her life experience found its way into the book.

Do you find that is true in the work that you do? Do we have a lot to learn from people who live on the margins of society or who have committed an unspeakable crimes?

I believe we all have a lot to learn from one another, no matter where we are in the social structure imposed by life. Some people are able to overcome adversity, some people can do jobs others couldn't imagine doing, whilst some people are exceedingly charitable and forgiving. Life is one long learning process, we never stop and we never know enough.

And here are my questions to Hemmie about her publishing experience. Enjoy and I hope you are able to learn from her book publishing process. Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section!


1. When did you become a writer or decide you wanted to write? When did you decide to write The Divine Pumpkin in particular?

I suppose I would count writing a diary through my teenage years as part of becoming a writer, as it was something I've always loved doing. I have also written professional articles in the past, so writing has always been part of my life in one way or another. I decided to write The Divine Pumpkin in the beginning of 2011.

2. You also have a blog called Hemmie-isms. Do you think it is necessary for book writers to also have blogs and/or websites?

I think it is important as it shows potential publishers and agents that you have an on-line presence and that you are willing to promote yourself and your book. I didn't have a Facebook account, but the publishers requested that I get one and have a fan page—which all felt weird. I'm still not overly keen on FB but I do love Twitter. I also joined Goodreads where authors and writers 'meet' and there are lots of free books being given away, and it's a great place to discuss books.

3. Can you describe your journey to publication for other writers hoping to get a book published. Did you write the manunscript first and seek a publisher after? Did you submit your book to several publishing houses? Do you have an agent or do you think it is necessary for a first time author to have an agent? What are your thoughts on self publishing?

I first began seeking an agent after I wrote my first novel, which I now know was a mistake, as it was too raw and poorly crafted. The Divine Pumpkin was actually my 4th novel and the others will never see the light of day, except Attic of the Mind. I wasn't really aware of indie publishers and I knew that other publishers wouldn't see a manuscript unless sent via an agent. I believed that without an agent I would never be published. I had actually decided to try and self-publish in 2012. My husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas so I could see what it looked like. However, I received a contract from Winter Goose Publishing in Dec. 2011. So no, I don't believe it is necessary to have an agent, and if all routes are seemingly closed, then self-publishing is a very real option.

4. Yes, I noticed that Attic of the Mind is due out February 2013! Congratulations! Is that story similar to The Divine Pumpkin? In what ways are they similar or different? Can you give us a synopsis of the next book?

Thanks! This one leans more towards a psychological thriller in some ways, but like The Divine Pumpkin, it does explore people's behaviours and why they may respond to life the way they do. I love people watching in real life and so I love to people watch in my books too. The story revolves around secrets, deception and fear between four people who meet up again after twenty-five years.

5. How did you discover Winter Goose Publishing?

Winter Goose Publishing followed me on Twitter first. I was curious to know more about them, and when I saw they were open to submissions I decided to send off The Divine Pumpkin. Twitter truly offered me what I was looking for, as Winter Goose Publishing has an extremely supportive and talented team. Their philosophy is to nurture and develop their writers, and it shows in the way they deal with me.

6. Have you written anything else for publication?

My second novel is already with my editor for us to work on shortly, and I am writing the first draft of my third novel.

7. How long did it take you to write it?

The whole process of writing, re-writing and editing took about a year.

8. Did you keep a writing schedule? When did you do most of your book writing?

I try and write everyday so I remain in the 'zone', and also because I love writing and it makes me feel content. However, life does sometimes get in the way, but I don't feel racked with guilt if I can't write, I just accept it and hope to write the next day.

9. Do you have a writing or a critique group that helped you in your book writing process?

I don't belong to a writing group, although I'm aware that it would be a good thing to do. Perhaps I'm too anti-social to join such a group? 

10. What was the editing process of this book like for you? Did you have to do a lot of revisions with the publisher, or did they accept most of the manuscript as it was?

I did four edits before I sent it to the publisher. I was nervous about working with an editor, but there was no need as he was fantastic to work with. It was a liberating experience and I only lost 3,000 words of the novel, although by the 5th and final edit, I was beginning to type in my sleep!


11. Did you receive a contract for both books at the same time and/or were both manuscripts completed when you first approached Winter Goose Publishing?

I approached the publishers with The Divine Pumpkin first as they were looking for contemporary women's fiction at that time, even though I had written Attic of the Mind two years previously. I sent 'Attic' to them just before 'Pumpkin' was due to be published, and was delighted when they wanted to publish it. 

12. Do you have any advice for first time authors who are trying to get a book published?

Never, ever give up. They say that a published author is a persistent author. I know I was fed up of reading this when I was trying to get published, and all I can say is, I'm sorry to repeat the message, but it's true. Keep the faith and keep strong. Even when rejections pile up, keep writing new stories, learn about the craft and read, read, read. And don't take the rejection personally.

13. What other advice to you have for writers?

You'll need some self-belief, as some days you will feel that you'll never get published and that your writing is inadequate. I feel that my writing is never as good as another author when I read someone else's novel, but I understand that many of us feel  that way, having spoken to other authors. Personally, when I got 3 or 4 rejections for one novel, I began writing another one. I write books that I would like to read, I don't write for the current trend as that would change by the time of my book's publication. However, I had such a belief in 'Attic' that I persisted to work on it until it was fit for publication. I am constantly learning about the craft and I never feel I have all the knowledge I need. It's an evolving process.

Hemmie Martin spent most of her professional life as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France, and currently lives in Essex with her husband, two teenage daughters, one house rabbit and two guinea pigs.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ON TOUR: Yoga and Writing Retreats from Whidbey Island, WA to Sedona, AZ


Last weekend we returned from our yoga and writing retreat at The Yoga Lodge on Whidbey Island! It was sold out in the lodge and one person camped! We've done retreats before, but this was the first time we decided to combine our talents and we got wonderful feedback! The yoginis/writers arrived on Friday night and got settled into their rooms.

At 4:30pm there was orientation and Yoon's Yoga. This is where the "opening" segment of the retreat really happened. My husband Yoon's classes are not to be taken lightly. His classes are challenging, but anyone who is reasonably fit and mobile can do them. The point of his classes are not about flexibility or how much you can do. His classes are about opening up to what is already there and really going inward. They are about facing one's self and moving through one's self imposed limits. Yoon is a gentle teacher, but a strong teacher who is able to guide each person to their edge without pushing them there. At this edge there is a very deep opening that happens.



A few days ago my husband wrote a Facebook Status update that sums up how I feel about his classes and our retreat:

"Life is a magical, but it doesn't mean it is easy. If life is too easy, you can't see the magic because it is not necessary. The magic comes when you have a brave soul and will to explore deep within. Magic is a reward for that."—Seong Yoon Lee

Another great reward was the wonderful group of people who attended the retreat. This time we had several people come from out of state. There were people from Colorado, San Diego and two friends from Marin County, one who came to my book event at Book Passage.

The food was also outstanding! It was prepared by a chef on the island and brought in fresh everyday!


On Saturday, I had a writing workshop. I spent the hour sharing my publishing journey from blog to book and had my book on display for purchase and signing. I gave a few writing prompts, but didn't anticipate all the writing that would happen during our four hour break in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day and everyone was in their own little worlds. The sun was beaming down and people were planted at picnic tables, under trees, in lounge chairs and on blankets and all of them appeared to be WRITING! I think all the opening that had happened during our yoga sessions had inspired them to get something down on paper! It was very inspirational, especially after hearing quite a bit of that writing on the last day when we all regrouped to share what had transpired that afternoon.

On Saturday evening, we all met for a collaging session. Collaging and intentional writing have proven to me to be very powerful tools for seeing my own ideas and dreams come to fruition. These free writing and inspirational activities have helped me move away from a rational/thinking mindset to a more creative mindset where I am able to allow things to be as they are and where I am free to create and to dream without inhibitions or without allowing the thinking process to get in my way.



On many occasions, I have been shocked to discover that things I have collaged or written about years prior have actually occurred or are happening in my present life.

On the last day of the retreat, it was clear that our group had really bonded. It was a tremendous opening experience for me and there were lots of revelations and tears on the last day right before we departed. I don't believe these were sad tears necessarily, but tears of gratitude for what each of us had discovered about ourselves and what we will take with us on our journey forward.

I am happy to announce that we have another yoga/writing retreat coming up in Sedona, Arizona October 25-28! For more information about that, please see the Facebook event page! Space is limited and the spots are filling up really fast. We are offering 20% off the entire retreat if you register before August 15th. To inquire more about this retreat or to reserve your spot, go to info@yoonsyogabliss.com! It's going to be amazing, I can feel it!




Tuesday, July 3, 2012

ON TOUR: From New York City to Baltimore and back to Washington




My husband and I are house sitting over on Puget Sound. I feel I'm on retreat here. A much needed retreat.  Today I spent the afternoon slowly washing my car BY HAND. I know that's a rather mundane thing to post about, but I haven't done anything slowly and meticulously since our whirlwind book tour began on June 19th. (This is a picture of us at the top of the Empire State Building where I vowed to go when I finally got my book published!) It's been so nice to sllllooowwww down! As I was scrubbing the car, I felt the cool breeze on my face and watched the changing cloud formations over Puget Sound. I said hello to a neighbor across the street.

"Are you coming or going?" he asked.  I had to think about that one for a minute as I wasn't quite sure of the answer.

"I'm just here for a few days taking care of the cats over the 4th."

He smiled and we continued talking about the weather and our activities.

Tonight, a blogger friend is coming to town! Becky from the blog Becky Blab will be here. I met her live for the first time in NYC and she'll be here tonight with her husband. I also met Kate from Sunflower Existence and Christa from Christa in New York and a number of other bloggers and writers!


On June 19th, my husband and I took the red eye to NYC. We stayed for two nights near Columbia University with my husband's yoga student's sister and her husband, the oboe player for the NYC Ballet!  On Wednesday night, after flying all night long, we had our first east coast gig at Community Meditation Center on the Upper Westside. Namaste Bookstore came to the event to sell books! It was a great turn out!

I forgot to mention that right after we arrived we headed to Times Square where over 1,000 people were doing yoga for summer solstice. We couldn't miss that event!


I was so happy that my father and step mom were able to fly to NYC from Florida for my book reading. They had an opportunity to meet my lovely agent and lots of friends. On Thursday night, we went out to dinner and to a Broadway show. We saw Peter and the Star Catcher! It was excellent.


On Friday night we stayed with a dear friend in Brooklyn and on Saturday morning we took the PATH to Jersey City to pick up our HUMMER.




Well, not really, but it might as well have been. The rental car company gave us a Toyota Sequoia. Trust me, no one got in our way driving down the New Jersey Turnpike and that was just as well!


Our second gig was in Hawthorne, NJ at Well Read Bookstore. That was where I met a very dear friend from high school who I hadn't seen in 24 years! This book tour was really like a reunion of sorts with new people added to the mix. But even the "new" people felt like long lost friends. There was a reason for each meeting and each minute was so important to us.

After our event in NJ, we headed to Fort Washington, PA where we stayed a night. The next morning we drove to Norristown, PA where we caught up with an old friend for breakfast who is building a house on wheels in her parent's backyard! It was so great to meet up with her!! And her garden is amazing.


We hit the road again and all of the tolls along the way as we headed to Baltimore for our event at Breathe Books. A Korean family showed up to that event and we discovered that they had visited the temple and attended a ceremony where my husband had become a monk. They had no idea that my husband was a monk there!

We drove to Baltimore Airport to drop off our HUMMER and a friend from DC followed us there. We ended our trip with our dear friend Eric who also has a lovely real estate blog called The Cribline! It was a great ending to our tour! We even had a chance to stroll across the grounds around The Capital and along The Mall to a few museums. Miro's paintings were in town at the National Gallery of Art. That was a special treat!

Finally, I had a nice hometown book event on June 30th at Edmonds Bookshop after we returned. It felt like a full circle. I will cherish this experience. The best part of it all was all the lovely people we met along the way. Now we are heading to the airport to pick up my blogger friend who I met in NYC and her husband! Have a lovely 4th of July everyone! I'm going to try and post weekly now. Lots of great stuff coming up! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ON TOUR: Lonely Planet Review and a Monk from Burma

It doesn't take much to make me happy. Just a Lonely Planet review and a monk from Burma to cheer up an otherwise rainy day. Sorry for the absence here friends. It seems like I haven't been here in ages, but it's really only been about a month. I could give you excuses—hundreds of excuses—for  my disappearance such as: 1. My mother was in the hospitalized due to a gall stone attack and had to have surgery 2. I was finishing a quarter at the college and had lots of paperwork 3. I haven't felt like writing much. All of the above are true.

But here I am! My mother is now on the mend, I am completely finished at the college and won't go back until summer quarter, we have joined the masses and now have Comcast for our internet and my husband is mowing the lawn! And I'm here WRITING!

Life is pretty good. I won't deny that. But still, there are times when I wonder how I'm going to get by—financially, physically, emotionally. I tend to be an optimist. I believe that we create our realities in this world. It's up to us what we do with this life we've been given. I believe each one of us should be on our way to living the life of our DREAMS...and there are no excuses for not taking steps towards them!

 But every now and then I fall into a hole that seems deep, dark and hard to get out of. Sometimes I feel stuck there and it takes everything I've got to pull myself out. I think that's what I've been feeling lately and perhaps why I haven't been here much.

But writing isn't just for the good times. It's for EVERY time. When I blogged everyday for 365 days, I knew that. There's no where to hide when you've made the promise to blog everyday.

I've hinged my entire life on this book I have written. I live and breathe Lessons from the Monk I Married. There, I said it. It's true.

But there hasn't been a review of my book or any media coverage recently. My publicist has sent the word out, but it's just not getting OUT THERE and I have felt a bit frustrated lately. I know it's a good read because so many have let me know this. I even get fan mail (okay, just a handful of e-mails from unknown people, but still).

Every writer who publishes wants their work to be READ. Every. Single. One.

But there are times when you want to say, "Hello....hello???? Is there anyone out there?"

So, metaphorically, I was still in my dark hole while I was at school proctoring a State Exam for ESL students. I've got students from Ethiopia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Romania, Ukraine, Mexico, Congo, Saudi Arabia, Iran...oh, and one lone monk from Burma who appeared in my class in his saffron robes at the start of my book tour. I took that as a good omen.

As each student completed their computerized State Exam, I handed them their registration papers for next quarter and bid them farewell. I had a good class and I appreciate each one of them, but it was now time to say goodbye and move on.

It wasn't easy to explain to a class of 35 immigrants and refugees that I'd be out for a week on book tour during the start of the quarter. After all, they are only at Level 3 in their English abilities and it took a bit of repetition and gesturing to get the message across, but they finally got it.

And then came, "Teacher, what's title?"

"Ummm..." I said, glancing at the serious-looking monk sitting in the front row.

Then, I decided to rely on written communication. I've had better luck with that.

In big letters I wrote on the white board: LESSONS FROM THE MONK I MARRIED.

"What's monk?" asked Alejandro from Mexico.

Oh, here we go I thought. Gesturing was not going to get me through this so I pointed to the lone monk in our classroom who was staring at the white board with a perplexed look on his face.

So it took me by surprise when this somewhat serious monk in his flowing robes whipped out a copy of Lessons from the Monk I Married from his monk bag on the very last day of class and said WITH A SMILE, "Teacher, can you sign my book?" It made my day.

And then...after a dry spell of no reviews or any coverage on my book and a silent prayer that my publicist would give me news of ANYTHING....it came.

LONELY PLANET REVIEWS LESSONS FROM THE MONK I MARRIED appeared in my inbox. I just sat there staring at it in awe.

 It wasn't The New York Times, Cosmopolitan or The Boston Globe. It wasn't Oprah calling (see newer post, we recently had a Skype interview for OWN TV!). It was the trusted guide books I've used for traveling/backpacking all over the world. I never thought in my wildest dreams that Lonely Planet would review my book and place me right next to their travel books on India, South Korea, Seattle and Seoul, places that are mentioned in my book. I never thought to categorize my book as travel literature. But it is! It's a JOURNEY in more ways than one.

So just when you think you've sunk and you've tried everything...hang in there. Something is bound to shift, but it won't be anything like you expected.

My husband's Facebook status yesterday read, "Lonely Planet Reviewed my wife's book. We aren't lonely anymore."

A perfect ending.

(Photo above is my husband, the monk I married, with young monks from Milarepa's cave in Tibet. We were there traveling in 1996. The story is in my book.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

ON TOUR: Lessons from the Monk I Married is HITTING THE BIG APPLE!

Start spreading the news, we're leaving in June!...We want to be a part of it...New York, New York!

I've missed you all! I haven't been here in a while. I think it's been over two weeks! That's the longest I've gone in two years without a post! All my time has been consumed with planning an EAST COAST BOOK TOUR! I'm very excited about this! I'm also excited that we'll be doing a book reading/signing at 7pm tomorrow at Village Books in Bellingham, WA. I've only heard excellent things about this bookstore and we'll be sure to post photos after our adventure. We are headed to Bellingham tomorrow morning and will stay a night in the area for our event. I am preparing a slide show of Yoon and my travels from the book for this one!

Are you on the east coast? Well, please don't miss us in June when we come to town. We'll be at Community Meditation Center on the Upper Westside, NYC at 7pm on Wednesday, June 20th (See sidebar for upcoming tour dates). My father and step mom will be flying in from Florida for this event! Namaste Bookstore in NYC also plans to come to the event to sell books! My husband will be bringing his gong all the way to NYC for the event and we hope to have a slide show there as well.

We'll spend a couple days in NYC with family and friends and then we'll head out of the city to Hawthorne, NJ for a book event at Well Read Bookstore on Saturday, June 23rd at 6:30pm. I'm still trying to work out all the ground transportation details. I think we'll rent a car at the Newark Airport and drive it to our event in NJ where will stay a night in a hotel and then head out the next morning for a four-hour drive to Baltimore where we'll have a book event at Breathe Books on Sunday, June 24th at 2:00pm. A friend in DC will be coming to our event at Breathe Books and then we'll stay with him for a few days!

It's going to be a whirlwind trip with three book events in six days, but we can't wait! We hope to use the extra time to explore the Big Apple and meet up with friends along the way. We feel so lucky that our book tour has taken us to so many exciting places and that we've had the opportunity to meet so many friends—including blog friends—along our journey!

If you are not on the east coast, please share this with friends who are and who may be interested in coming. They can RSVP on LESSONS FROM THE MONK I MARRIED EAST COAST BOOK TOUR page on Facebook. All are welcome!!! More soon from the road!

In June 2010, I was in NYC.  I went there to meet my agent. I had finally received agent representation for my book, but was still swimming through the uncertain sea of traditional publishing. I wrote a blog post while in NYC called: To be a Famous Author, you need to be a Famous Author. It's a post about never giving up!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

ON TOUR: Hello Seattle! Hello Elliott Bay Book Company!


It was so great to do a book gig at home in SEATTLE. I just had to say, "Hello SEATTLE! Are you ready to READ?!" Yoon and I do these book talks together. After all, he also has his own point of view of our story. People seem to like it. He starts each reading by playing a gong and doing a chant from his monk days and then I begin the reading. He adds his own commentary to whatever I read which makes for a very entertaining event! I've had such a good time at each one of these events, but this one was quite special.

My father flew in from Florida and my sister, brother-in-law, nephews, aunts, a cousin and an uncle were all there. Also, it was so nice to see so many of my co-workers from Edmonds Community College at the event as well as friends from high school, college and beyond. I also got to meet a friend who has been following this blog for several years. It's nice to meet blog followers/friends in 3D! I've been fortunate to meet quite a few!



There's something different about doing a gig in your hometown. All the events have been well attended and joyful so far. But this event, particularly, had a lot of love and positivity. Perhaps that's because most of the people who were there have been part of my life journey.



Regardless of the location, however, I do believe there is an opening that happens when we all come together and share in a joyful manner. The energy that was created with all of these people seemed to expand out beyond place and time. That's what I felt yesterday and have been feeling all along my book tour.

I've been so much a part of the internet with my blog, book, etc. While I do think it's amazing how we can connect these days and I am so grateful to all the people I've had an opportunity to connect with here, it's nothing like meeting live.

I am grateful to every single person who came out last night for the event at Elliott Bay Book Company. We are working on plans for an east coast tour. Not sure how it will all pan out, but I'll keep you posted. The dates we are looking at are for the end of June. We hope to visit NYC, DC, New Jersey and Baltimore. If we get to those places, I'd love to see you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

ON TOUR: The Most Beautiful Thing

Today I'm taking part in Fiona Robyn's The Most Beautiful Thing Blog Splash to celebrate her new novel The Most Beautiful Thing. Bloggers from around the world are participating and sharing their most beautiful thing today.

It's hard to pinpoint a most beautiful thing that is tangible for me. I see so much beauty these days. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with it.

I think how we feel and what we see as beautiful depends completely on our inner state. For me, right now, the most beautiful thing is to be alive and to share with others while I am here. I feel so happy when I am able to connect with people on some level with what I write and even happier when I discover that what I have written has helped people in some way. I guess this is what I have to offer here.

For two years straight, I wrote lessons here on every topic under the sun—fear, stress, love, patience, happiness, yoga, meditation, loving yourself, courage, procrastination, etc. I wrote those lessons not because I believe I'm an expert on any topic, but because they were words I needed to hear. What I realized, through my two years of writing lessons here, is that we all go through the same emotions, feelings, etc. and we are all connected to one another on that level.

Our circumstances and experiences may vary, but what makes us human is the same. Through that understanding, I found the courage to write not just this blog, but also my book by the same title about my 15-year journey with my husband, a former Korean Buddhist monk (Lessons from the Monk I Married, Seal Press 2012).

By opening up and sharing my journey in a deeply honest way, my hope was that others would also be able to reflect on their own journeys and own truths and not be afraid to share them and to live them. In January 2012, I hosted 31 writers on this blog who all shared life lessons of their own. I have met so many kindred souls through this blog and through my book. The sharing and connecting with others that has happened as a result of my blog and book have been the most beautiful thing for me and I am so grateful to every single one of you who have been a part of it!

Thank you Fiona for allowing me to reflect on the most beautiful thing. I wish you the greatest success with your new novel!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

ON TOUR: From Powell's in Portland to Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA



We headed out on book tour last Thursday! It's been a whirlwind. I believe we were in three major cities in less than 48 hours: Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. Before taking off to Portland, my agent e-mailed me with great news! A foreign agent in London has agreed to take my book on, which means it will most likely be published in other countries and languages! (Who knows—maybe there will be a world tour later?! )

Anyway, after a very short flight to Portland, (35 minutes from Seattle) we picked up our rental car and checked into the hotel. Our first book gig was not until 7:30pm, so we relaxed in the pool/jacuzzi a bit at the hotel and then got ready for the evening festivities. We used the GPS on my new iPhone to get us to our first book event at Powell's Books on Hawthorne Street at 7:30pm. After a nice little dinner at Toney Bento, we headed to the event.


It was a great turn out. My husband brought along his gong to play before the reading started. The bookstore was much bigger than I expected. It was great seeing so many people at the event and some familiar faces. After the book reading/signing, we went out with two friends for Vietnamese food.

The next morning we woke up at 4:00AM because we had a flight to San Jose, CA at 6:10 in the morning. We don't quite remember how we dropped the rental car off and got to our gate, but we did and before we knew it, we were on our way to CA just as the sun was coming up!

My publicist picked us up in San Jose and drove us to Berkeley where Seal Press/Avalon Travel is located. She gave us a tour of the facility and then we went out to brunch.

She dropped us off at our hotel and we took a little rest and then we had to get ready for our next book gig at 7:00pm at Book Passage. We were so sleepy by this point and I said to my husband, "This is how bands feel when they go on tour." And we were only on our second gig! Well, third if you include the launch.

It was wonderful to run into a blog friend and several acquaintances and friends at Book Passage! It felt like a little reunion. You never know who will turn up at these events and often they are people you've been dying to meet, are meeting for the first time and/or friends you haven't seen in years!



We hung out the next day with friends in San Francisco and now we are in Santa Cruz at a good friend's house and are finally catching up on needed rest. Thanks to all of you who came out for events! It's always wonderful meeting people on tour! There will be more gigs coming up. Please check the sidebar for details! Our next big event will be at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle on April 28th and then we'll be at Village Books in Bellingham on May 18th. There may be a few more events tucked in here or there, so I'll be sure to keep you posted! Hope you are all enjoying the book! I love comments and always respond to them here. I'd love to know how you found out about the book and if you enjoyed it! Thanks and more soon from the tour!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

ON TOUR: Lessons from the Monk I Married hits #5 in Hot New Releases: best in Love and Romance on Amazon


At 3:30pm on Easter Sunday, my book hit #5 on Amazon in Hot New Releases: best in Love and Romance! It's also in the top 10 in Buddhism. It's been there for a while. In the Love and Romance category, it goes up and down...just as love and romances do.

Yesterday was my book launch party. East West Bookshop in Seattle came to the event at Yoon's Yoga Bliss, my husband's yoga studio, to sell books. About 75 people showed up and the bookshop completely SOLD OUT of books at the event. It was a great turn out.

My husband rang a huge gong 7 times for good luck and because it was April 7th and then he chanted some sutras from his days as a monk. I read from my book and Yoon, my husband, sat right next to me giving his own commentary and take on what I had written, since, as we all know, there are always two sides to a story. Everyone loved it, so we may continue this theme on book tour.



Later we had cake and the cake shop put the cover of my book on the cake! Nothing like an edible book.



It was so great to see so many people. There were yoga students, my colleagues from the college, a writer I met on the internet (I always love meeting my blog/Facebook friends LIVE..especially if we've been communicating for so long!), my best friend from elementary school and her family, people I don't know, friends from the meditation center, friends of friends, people wandering by the studio, curious people, writers, yogis, meditation practitioners, psychologists, grandmas, kids, neighbors.....a really GREAT mix of people! I'm so grateful to everyone who came. It felt like everyone one who was there was really meant to be there. The energy was so wonderful.

I've never had so many people ask for my autograph. This is a whole new world for me. I tried to write a nice message in every single person's book. I signed books for friends, mothers, mothers of friends, neighbors, best friends, etc. Many people planned on gifting the book to others. Today I have a bit of writer's cramp, but I'll take this beautiful pain! I'm enjoying every moment of this and I promise to share it here.

On Thursday, Yoon and I are taking off for about a week on a west coast book tour. I think we're going to pack the gong. It was a "hit" at the event! More soon! (See sidebar for events and locations and come meet up with us on tour!)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

ON TOUR: The Book Has Launched!

Yesterday (4/3/12) my book launched. Actually, it sort of launched a few weeks earlier, but it officially launched yesterday. I was in a daze most of the day. So much goes into the process of writing a book and getting it published. It's a very long journey to this point. I didn't do anything out of the ordinary yesterday. Perhaps I needed a bit of ordinariness to keep me grounded. I started a new quarter of teaching ESL at the community college and did all the things I normally do in a day. I did find it a bit serendipitous, if you will, that a Buddhist monk from Burma appeared in my English class. After all, how often do you have a monk show up in class? The last time that happened, I ended up marrying him. Well, if you are just showing up on this blog, you'll have to read back through my 500 or so posts or buy the book to learn more about that.

A friend did pop by my house out of the blue. I heard a loud knock on the door and thought, Who now? Is it someone trying to convert me? Sell me something I don't need? Do they want me to sign something? I don't answer my home phone anymore. It's all sales calls these days. I wait for it to go to the answering function and then pick it up if it's a friend. I don't even own a cell phone. But I decided, What the hay? Maybe I should just see who's there. I opened the door and my friend gave me a kiss, handed me a half dozen tulips and drove away. How often does that happen?

So even though the day was just like any other, there was definitely something in the air. I'm excited to see what's around the corner. I have a feeling it's going to be extra-ordinary. Stay tuned here as I'm taking you all with me on BOOK TOUR!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Countdown to Publication-3 DAYS: Booklist says, "This gentle book is full of surprises..."

THREE DAYS until blast off and advanced reviews are starting to come in. Here's part of the review from Booklist:

“Based on lessons learned from her own experiences, Jenkins, a blogger who spent more than eight years in South Korea, encourages readers to think for themselves, even as she acknowledges the significance of being inspired by others. In 10 concisely written chapters, she recommends lessons from letting go of expectations and trusting your inner voice to learning how to be happy alone…This gentle book is full of surprises…Part memoir, part spiritual journey, this (book) is written in an accessible and conversational style that should appeal to a wide range of readers…”—Booklist

This review will come out on April 15th , but I received it early from my publicist.

Thanks everyone for sending me photos of the book! All of you are so creative. Above is a photo from my friend Kate who is an actress in NYC and also works in an exotic pet store. This one was taken by the fish tank!

I don't know how I'll decide on a winner and prize for this photo contest. Ideas?

Anyway, with only three days left, I feel like I should do something book-related. But I have no idea what to do, so I think I'll go organize my kitchen cabinets! Perhaps I need a bit of a break.

Oh, and don't worry if you can't make a book tour event! I'm bringing you all along with me on this blog! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Countdown to Publication-Week 1: Why Not Grow Some Happy Kids?

Maureen Healy, author of Growing Happy Kids, shares my publication date. Even though both of our books officially launch on April 3rd, the books are already in stock in many locations! Four mere days until we both "officially" launch our books out into the world! So I thought, why not share this space with an author who has some wonderful tips on "growing happy kids." So here she is to share her work. Enjoy!

Raising Self-Confident and Spiritually Aware Kids: 3 Tips for Today

Just yesterday, I worked with an eight-year old client named Ava. She is highly creative and intelligent yet also struggles with her self-confidence. So I asked her, “Would you like to paint today?” and she replied, “I am not sure if I can do it.” Of course, this is a clear sign that she continues to need help building her sense of outer to inner confidence. Since I also know her family as a spiritual but not religious one --- I took the approach of cultivating confidence from a spiritual perspective.

Instilling Self-Confidence Spiritually

So how do I spark self-confidence at a deeper level in children? I must be honest this isn’t a simple question or answer. In my upcoming book, Growing Happy Kids: How to Foster Inner Confidence, Success and Happiness, I present a model called The Five Building Blocks of Confidence that explains in everyday language how any adult can foster a stronger type of confidence in their children. But here I want to emphasis that children begin looking outside of themselves for validation (grades, acknowledgement from parents, and trophy’s) and the process of spiritual self-confidence is helping them go inward.

In other words, adults that nurture in children on a consistent basis that within them is a power, capability and greatness to overcome any obstacles is teaching inner confidence. It is this power within that from a spiritual perspective that is your divinity. You may call it God, Spirit, Christ-consciousness, Shiva, the Buddha Seed or Jehovah – the name doesn’t matter but the idea that there is an infinite intelligence that is in and around our lives that can help us is a powerful teaching for kids.

So I explained this idea to Ava and she immediately brightened up. She said, “You mean I have God within me?” And I said, “Yes. There is a power in you that can help you succeed no matter what is happening in the outer world.” Interestingly enough, she was also then willing and more optimistic about painting.

Inner Confidence: 3 Tips for Today

Nurturing in your children that sense of healthy self-confidence from a spiritual perspective and awareness of their divine nature is conscious child-rearing. Some ideas to help you on your way are:

  • Daily Dose of Spiritual Confidence (Take one everyday like a vitamin!): Just like a gummy vitamin that we give our children daily, we need to nurture in them the belief that they have all the power, greatness and capability in them every day. This may be an affirmation, song, prayer, meditation or something unique to your family or culture --- the point is it needs to be done consistently and not sporadically for best results.
  • Get Inspired Together: By becoming genuinely inspired by life and seeing that the creative force that made the daffodils come up early, and butterfly’s emerge from their cocoons is the same powerful force inside of us – this sparks self-confidence in kids. So enjoy getting inspired together whether it is musically, going into nature or something else but remember to reinforce the idea that that same greatness is in you, me and all of us.
  • Give More: Once children “see” how powerful they are – the path to inner confidence becomes easier and more possible. Lizzie, my neighbor, set-up a lemonade stand on a hot day this week and used all of her earnings ($55) to give to the local humane society that has 19 bunny rabbits in their care and they need help with them. She was so happy to drop the money off, see the bunnies and know they’ll be taken care of till they are adopted.

Maureen Healy is an emotional health expert with more than 20 years of global experience fostering children’s happiness. Her new book, Growing Happy Kids: How to Foster Inner Confidence, Success and Happiness, is available wherever books are sold. More info: www.growinghappykids.com