Sakura: An Easter story

IkomaSan

My friend, you died on Easter morning.

We all knew it would happen sometime soon. But still it seemed sudden.

My grandfather also died during Easter weekend, many years ago. Good Friday, in fact. I was 10. We had to have the wake and funeral right away. The Church said they wouldn’t allow him to be buried on Easter Sunday.

My mother told us that Grandpa went straight to Heaven, because he died on Good Friday. That we would one day see him again.

Terry, you died on April 1st. But it was no Fool’s. It was Easter. You were sleeping, and did not wake. Continue reading

Death of a Cherry Tree

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This past Monday, city workers came to cut down a cherry tree near our house. It had been there for years.

We found out later that a neighbor had complained that leaves falling in her backyard were a nuisance to clean. The fact that local children (and adults alike) treasured the cherry blossoms each spring seemed to escape her.

And cherry blossom viewing season is just around the corner. What a shame. A waste.

More’s the shame, I only have two pictures of the tree in full bloom.

Fleeting moments, lost in time and memory.

My children wrote a heartfelt letter to the tree, and I taped it as best I could to the stump:

“To the Cherry Tree,

For always showing your cherry blossoms to us until now, thank you.

We miss you, but we’ll never forget that this stump is the stump of a cherry tree.

If this stump ever grows, we want to see cherry blossoms again.”

Stories are made by fools like me…

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Month of the Gods – or Without?

Month of the Gods – or Without?

It’s been a very trying month, and yet rewarding.

finalistAt the beginning of the month, I found out that my science fiction novella/novellette Adam’s Stepsons had won an award (Readers’ Favorite). The next day, I was selected as a Featured Author by BookWorks. And then less than a week later, Adam’s Stepsons got another award, this time Finalist for Best Novella by the Independent Authors’ Network. Inspired, I worked on my next SF novel and got the word count up to around 25,000.

Pretty cool.

And then it started to rain.

And rain.

And kept raining. For about eight to nine days straight. Mold everywhere in the house: the entranceway, the hall, the bath, the kids’ bedroom, even our little library nook (which doubles as my writing room/man cave).

Yuck.

And then (not done with us yet!) the typhoon came. No damage for us but plenty for some of my colleagues and neighbors up north in Kyoto and Gifu.

Typhoon22Our daughter’s sports festival – her last at the nursery school, in which she gets to play snare drum in a marching band – was delayed, and then cancelled.

Then both kids got sick. Waking up several times a night, coughing with stuffy noses, and still having to get up early each morning (6 – 6:30) for school and work for all four of us.

The Month of the Gods (神無月) became the Month without Gods (無 = na (of) as well as naki (without)). As if suddenly abandoned.

So it’s fitting that after only two days of sun, October will end with yet another typhoon. Yikes.

Probably a glancing blow, but the heavy rain that accompanies the storm will no doubt scuttle our plans for a Halloween party for our kids and their friends. It may inspire some writing, however.

After all, isn’t that how Mary Shelley started?

Halloween2017

 

Extensive Reading: Getting Kids to Read

A joint Nara Chapter-ER SIG Event DATE: Sunday, June 18th VENUE: Yamato Conference Hall TIME: 10.00 a.m. — 4.30 p.m. Speakers: (1) Ann Mayeda Integrating ER into the Curriculum (2) Paul Goldberg The benefits of doing extensive reading online with Xreading (3) Mark Brierley How to persuade them to read (4) Ann Flanagan ER: Building […]

via All You Ever Wanted to Know About ER — Nara JALT

I’m an educator. And also a reader. And of course a writer.

“I cannot live without books.” (Thomas Jefferson)

We cannot educate without books. If you’re in Japan, stop by Nara on June 18th and find out how we can help our students enjoy reading.

 

On “En”

DSC00976I’ve been meaning to add a personal essay page to my web site for stories that didn’t seem to fit into any neat categories. The immediate impetus is an essay that was recently “rejected” by my former graduate program’s in-house literary journal…probably because it’s an essay and not a short story (I posted elsewhere an article about the quirkiness of the English-speaking world’s insistence on an artificial separation of “fiction” and “nonfiction”).

Rather than wait up to half a year to see whether I could get it published online in a magazine (most of which seem to only publish US-centric, “woe is me” or “OMG look at THIS” sensationalist drivel) I thought that at least I could share it here…

The essay is “En” (縁), a topic that Asians (particularly those in Confucian-influenced societies) know a lot about. I first encountered the concept as a teaching assistant in Gojo High School, Nara, about 15 years ago. Almost like a previous life. Maybe it was…

Check it out here.

Goodreads giveaway for Notes from the Nineties

Announcing a book giveaway!

Enter to win one of 10 signed copies of Notes from the Nineties (paperback, $6.98 value).

Begins March 25, 2016 and lasts until May 1, 2016.

Tell your friends! Tell your family! Oh, tell it on the mountain! And dangle your friend off of it…

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Notes from the Nineties by M. Thomas Apple

Notes from the Nineties

by M. Thomas Apple

Giveaway ends May 01, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Notes from the Nineties: Training the Mountain Warrior

This is the second preview of my upcoming collection of short stories and poems, Notes from the Nineties. In the first part, I explained the background behind the first story and poem pair, Cois Fharriage and Ag an gCrosaire.

EnnogyojyaFrom first to last: the final story in the collection, “Training the Mountain Warrior,” is based on two specific events that happened to me shortly after moving to Japan in 1999. The date thus places the story barely in the Nineties; the paired-poem (“Asian Dreams”) was written hastily—scrawled, really—in an old yellow lined notepad the night before I left the US (permanently, as it turned out). I still have the notepad, well used and abused.

The short story describes my attempted nighttime climb of Mt. Fuji (which ended short of the summit due to high winds) and my trek through the ancient mountains of the Kinai peninsula, whose hiking trails later became a World Heritage Site. There were a lot of details that I deliberately left out, and of course the dialogue is completely fictional. But I did, actually, dangle my friend over a cliff.

Continue reading