Sunday, January 12, 2014

Change is Good!

 I’ve been MIA from the blog for far too long but I have a good reason. I’m making a huge life change in 2014. I’m moving to Southern Oregon! In the spring my husband and I are packing up our antique filled Victorian home in the big city and moving to the country. 

We’ve lived in Pasadena California for over 15 years and we’ve been itching for a change. We went up to Southern Oregon on vacation in September and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. We fell in love with the friendly people and the beautiful countryside. We went up again in November to look at houses and flipped over a beautiful lodge home high in the hills of Grants Pass. We put in a low offer not expecting the seller to accept it but she did!

I’m a country girl at heart so the move is something I’ve been dreaming about but never thought would actually become a reality. The last couple of months have been filled with a few “OMG we did it” moments, and several major to-do lists. During the holidays I’ve been squeezing in time to say good-bye to some wonderful friends. It’s tough to leave a place I’ve enjoyed for so long but I knew it was time to do something big. From the moment we drove around the countryside of Southern Oregon it felt like home. Parts of it reminded me of Colorado, where I lived for seven years, and the other of upstate New York where my family is from. It also has a little bit of California thrown in so there isn't a ton of rain like in the northern part of Oregon and the winters are mild. Southern Oregon seemed like the perfect place to start a new chapter in my life.      

I have a lot of work ahead of me purging years of stuff tucked up in the attic. I also have a house full of collections and antiques I need to pack. But I wanted to let my faithful blog readers know I’m alive and well. I’m crazy busy but I’m looking forward to my new life in the country. My office has a view of a small stream with a waterfall. It’s going to be a wonderful place to write.

My husband will be in heaven in the huge barn aka ultimate man cave.    

2014 is going to be a great year!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dreaming of Tuscany

I had plans to head off to Tuscany in October but unfortunately I’ve had to push out the trip to 2014. That doesn't stop me from dreaming about one of my favorite places. Florence is such an amazing city and I think I’ve only scratched the surface of all the amazing churches and palaces it has to offer. I long to return to the over-the-top rooms of Palazzo Pitti. I wasn't able to tour the royal apartments or see the costume exhibit on my last visit. I want to hop in a tiny Fiat and hit the road and explore the wonderful hill towns. One of my favorite things to do is focus in on the little details that make each town unique. In Assisi the churches and cathedrals like the Basilica di San Francesco take center stage. But as I wandered the streets I became fascinated by all the intricate wrought iron lamps and posts that jutted out of the stonewalls. 

 They were held up by the most spectacular gargoyles.

I found myself looking up to make sure I caught all the wonderful creatures that loomed above me.  

In Poppi, the town is centered around the huge medieval castle that sits high on a hill. When you enter the castle a massive stone staircase commands your attention. The shear scale of the castle is impressive enough, but what really caught my eye was the immense ballroom. The walls and the massive vaulted ceiling were covered in faux painted marble panels and wonderful stenciled designs. A decorative painters dream. Having faux painted quite a few walls myself; I could appreciate the amazing skill the painters used to complete such an enormous space.    

I continue to dream of Tuscany. Next year can’t get here fast enough.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Vending Machine Madness

 The Coke Robot Machine

I'm working on book two of The Sushi Chronicles and I'm writing about one of my favorite things in Japan, the insane vending machines that carry everything from fresh eggs, to bananas, to Smart Cars. Yes, Smart Cars! 

The statistics say there is one vending machine for every 23 people in Japan. Walk down any street in a major city and try to find one without vending machines. They are a part of daily life. The number keeps growing as Japanese can't get enough of their favorite go-to device. They want access to anything they can possibly think of at their finger tips. Have a craving for bananas? No problem. Just walk a block or two and a Dole machine has you covered. 


Decide you want to make a salad at the last minute? No problem. Walk down the street and get fresh lettuce right out of the machine. In fact you can watch it grow right before your eyes if your bored. 

Hungry for breakfast but forgot to buy eggs? No problem. There is an egg machine right around the corner. 

Ever left the house and forgot to put on a bra? No problem. The bra vending machine can save you from embarrassment. 

I think you get the picture. Japanese vending machines are a total life saver and a huge business.  Billions of yen a year are made from the machines. I wouldn't be surprised if they are a major part of the economy. 

But for me, I love the fact that you can always get what you need while strolling the streets of Japan. Whether it's a beer on a hot day, an umbrella during a surprise rain storm, or if your a business man who wants to read porn on the way home from work, Japanese vending machines have your back.      

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Making of the Tokyo Dare Book Trailer: Soup to Sushi

When I was writing Tokyo Dare I had a movie playing in the back of my head for every scene. So when it came to making the book trailer, I thought I had a head start. : ) Then I realized it's not easy to capture the essence of a book in under two minutes.

The first thing I did was find the right person to put my words into action. I really liked the work Jeffery Somers did for fellow author Amanda Brice. The trailers he did for Codename:Dancer and Pa de Death really made me want to read her books. And I did! I wanted people to feel the same way after watching the trailer for Tokyo Dare. So I contacted Jeff. I'd never written a trailer script before so he kindly gave me a kickstart by sending me a script based on the short synopsis I sent him. After a bit of tweaking the script for the trailer was born.   

Next, I broke down what kind of imagery I wanted for each scene and Jeff set out to hunt down the perfect match. After several rounds of rough cuts we finalized the video, photos, and graphics for the trailer. Then I needed to pick a voice over artist who sounded like Erin Van Horn, the lead character in the book. After listening to several girls voices (one was actually named Erin) I settled on Hana. When she read the script I could actually see Erin talking. Gave me goosebumps!

Next came the music and sound effects. I'm lucky enough to have a husband (David S. Bateman) who composes music for TV and film. His music brought the imagery to life with the perfect accent to every scene. I thought a JPop song would work well to end the trailer. He did a great job of nailing exactly what I wanted. Usually one to shy away from an opportunity to get in front of a mic, I dove right in and wrote and sang the lyrics to Tokyo Dare. Have to say it wasn't easy to sound like a Japanese teenager but it sure was fun. 

The final step was to send the trailer off to my husband's friend, Will Tabanou, to work his sound effects magic. I wanted him to play up each scene so I outlined what I thought might work. He did a fantastic job of taking the humor and running with it. His effects had me laughing out loud.      

After a lot of hard work, and some awesome help, here is the trailer for Tokyo Dare!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tokyo Dare Cover Reveal & Launch

With much fanfare here is the final cover! 

Isn't it beautiful. I love it! Special thanks to Elaina Lee for the amazing graphics. And once again to Tim Teebken for the awesome illustration. To top it off Tokyo Dare has launched on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel. The rest of the publishing world is soon to follow!     

The book has already received some great reviews on Amazon. 

5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious romp through Tokyo
By Lizzie
Format:Kindle Edition
If you are in need of a fun vacation to a foreign country, buy this book. I finished Tokyo Dare feeling like I'd been on a journey overseas to Japan with a spunky high-school girl. Erin meets some hilarious and interesting characters along the way, including a host brother who impersonates Elvis. I laughed. I learned about Japanese customs. I felt like I'd taken a wonderfully long summer break. For 3.99.

5.0 out of 5 stars What a fun journey! By Dstress
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
A very fun and enjoyable fish out of water story filled with life lessons and plenty of humor. The class of cultures has been done many times but the writer has found a way to make the subject fresh and entertaining. It's a fast fun read!
Comment |

5.0 out of 5 stars Vacation in a Book
By Diane Bator
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Can't get away this summer? Take a trip to Tokyo with Erin Van Horn in Anne Van's Tokyo Dare. A great story woven with tastes of Japanese life and culture, I couldn't put it down! Really hoping there is a sequel to find out what happens to Erin next. Highly recommended for older teenagers and those of us who are young at heart.

You always wonder how readers will receive your stories and I'm thrilled that Tokyo Dare has some fans already. I couldn't be happier!

Here's the links to the book: 

Barnes and Nobel:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cover Evolution

It's amazing how much effort goes into designing an illustrated book cover. I was lucky enough to work with the super talented Tim Teebken on the cover for my first YA release, TOKYO DARE. From original sketches to the finished painting the whole process was a wonderful adventure. 

First we went through a series of sketches to try and pin down the main story line of the book. Here's the TOKYO DARE book blurb:

Sixteen-year-old, Erin, doesn't know an Unagi Roll from a Kaiser Roll, but a dare sends her as a high school exchange student to Tokyo, where a disastrous breakdown between cultures makes her host family think she's the devil, and a wacky to-do list sends her on a journey that will turn her world inside out. 

Sketch #One

Sketch #Two

Sketch #Three:  This scketch combines elements I liked from the first two scketches. 


After discussing the final revisions, Tim prepared the board for painting.    

With much fanfare here is the final amazing illustration!

The painting captures TOKYO DARE perfectly! I want to thank Tim for making the cover of my dreams. I'm one lucky author! 

(Next post I'll show the cover with title graphics.) 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Big News!

I'm sure some of you have noticed I've been MIA for a couple of months. Life has been a bit crazy and unfortunately the blog had to be set on the back burner. But I'm back with good news. I sold my Young Adult novel Toyko Dare! For those who have been following my blog you know how much I love Japan. I wrote Tokyo Dare so that teens could read and learn about Japan through a fun adventure driven novel. I'm so happy to announce that an editor fell in love with my story and it will be published soon. I'll post details as we get closer to the publication date which should be sometime in August. 

Here's the deals report in Publishers Weekly! 

Young Adult

Anne Van's TOKYO DARE, in which a dare sends a high school student to Japan where her host family thinks she's the devil and a wacky to-do list turns her world inside out, to Jude Pittman at Books We Love, by Dawn Dowdle at Blue Ridge Literary Agency.

I'll be blogging about the crazy times ahead as I get closer to the book release. I'm lucky to have a publisher that will let me design my own cover. Those years of art school are finally going to pay off. : ) I'll be posting cover previews as I go along. 

So stay tuned!