Thursday, December 17, 2009

Janine's 2nd Anniversary Sneak Peek

Happy 2-Year Anniversary FNC! It's been a fun and productive 2 years, and I am so thankful to be part of a group that supports, encourages and pushes me all at the same time. (And I need a lot of pushing!)

To continue our 4-day anniversary celebration, I offer you the final scene from my picture book Ojiisan's Gift. The opening scene was featured during our first sneak peek week back in September. Ojiisan's Gift is about a young girl named Jitsuko, her grandfather, and the mysterious gift he brings to her from his journey to Kyoto. It's about love, friendship and loss. Much happens between the first and the final scenes, and they may seem disconnected, but they really are not--you'll have to buy the book some day to find out what happens in between.


A Scene from Ojiisan's Gift:

Weeks passed and the leaves began to change. Soon it was time for her grandfather to make another journey to Kyoto. When the cart was loaded with paintings to be sold at the markets, it was time to say goodbye.

“Be good for your mother and father and take care—.”

“I know, Ojiisan,” she interrupted, laughing. “I’ll take good care of Obaachan for you. I promise.”

Jitsuko stood in the road with her mother, father and grandmother and waved as her grandfather drove the little horse into the road. She held Obaachan’s hand and watched until the cart disappeared from sight.

Not long after her grandfather's departure, Jitsuko’s grandmother became very sick. Jitsuko’s father sent a messenger to find Ojiisan in Kyoto. He had only just arrived in the great city, but he returned home immediately.

For days, Ojiisan remained at Obaachan’s side. He did not leave her room even to eat. Then, one morning, he emerged from the sickroom and slid the door closed behind him. His face was gray.

He nodded in response to the questioning eyes of Jitsuko and her mother and father, then he sat down on a cushion on the floor. He inhaled deeply and pulled Jitsuko onto his lap. She could feel his wrinkly cheek on her temple. She laced her small fingers through his and counted the blotches of ink that stained his hands.

They sat together for a long time, holding each other close. For some of that time, Jitsuko cried. But mostly, they sat very, very quietly.

That night, after everyone had gone to bed, Jitsuko lay awake. Over the sounds of the night, she heard her grandfather on the other side of the wall. He too was awake, tossing in his bed, sighing. After a while, she heard him rise and shuffle across the tatami floor. He slid his door open and stepped into the night air.

Jitsuko sat up and scooted off her futon. She crept across the cold wooden floor toward her own door that opened into the garden. Her grandfather was standing at the far end of the garden, gazing at the moon.

Jistuko stepped into the garden and walked softly, but the stones crunched beneath her feet.

“Jitsukochan?” her grandfather asked, his back toward her.

“Hai, Ojiisan.”


“It’s okay to cry, Ojiisan,” she told him.

Ojiisan grasped Jitsuko’s hand and nodded, and a large tear slid down his wrinkled brown cheek.

Why I Write?

I love words--their meanings, sounds and rhythms. I love they way that they, when perfectly placed, sing off the page. And I love ideas. I like to think that I have something to say--something to contribute to the world. I also love the nuances that can be communicated through writing--how, through writing, we can view a moment through a microscope and see every subtlety that we miss in real time. And good stories! And tension! All of this just by stringing words together!

Welp...thanks for reading my Sneak Peek Post! Stay tuned for Sara's tomorrow. And, if you missed Donna's or Frankie's, be sure to catch up!


  1. AAAAAHHHHHHHH! This just kills me!!! Janine I cannot wait to hold a copy of this in book form--the writing is so beautiful and lyrical and the images just swirl--OMG! So excited to be entering the Query Wars with you!!

  2. It's beautiful, Janine! The Query Wars are ON!

  3. Lovely, Janine. Just lovely. Congrats to all of you on your anniversary.

  4. Thanks for reading and commenting--I'm glad you enjoyed it! As I look back over it, I see more and more lines that could be trimmed, smoothed and simplified. I think I'm finally getting there!!!

  5. Ooh, I love this. I hope you know I'm keeping an eye on you now (especially your name in print). ;)

  6. Thank you, Heather! I'm so pleased that you enjoyed it!


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