I’ve done it again… I changed the website to fit the theme with my floating banner. Pretty please go take a look and give me some feedback. What do you think? Is it easy to read? Does it have a nice feel to it? Is it worthy of my sexiness? That last one is important 😉
I made a banner for my newsletter… see it there, following you as you scroll up and down the page? It’s like one of those ghosts in Super Mario Brothers. If you turn away from your screen it will actually get CLOSER!! duh, duh, DUH!
That is my subtle hint that I would love to have you lovely people sign up for my newsletter!
That, and I am wondering if the positioning is right. Is it obstructive? Bothersome? Cool? What do you think?
As I posted about before, any and all people who sign up for my newsletter will be sent a link to enter into a raffle of one (1) copy of Elizabeth Kostova’s, The Historian.
A big shout out to Ana Spoke, who once again proved to be my WordPress guru and posted this lovely gem that aided me in getting this done. Her website is full of helpful hints, so go check it out!
Hello fellow bloggers. I am hosting a book giveaway and one (1) lucky person will be running off with a free copy of Elizabeth Kostova’s, The Historian!
All you have to do to enter is sign up for my newsletter. Easy, right? The newsletter is published once a month with updates on my novel and the ins and outs of querying an agent as well as some of my own personal history.
We will also be hosting a free book giveaway each month! Yay books!
If you are reading this on a computer the link to the newsletter should be on your left where it says, “Join the Olive Branch”
On tablets and phones you will need to drop the menu down.
Thank you for all your support and continued readership!
I had the double honour of being nominated for two awards in two days by the lovely people of the blogging world (or should I say, blogosphere?)
As someone who has learned in my month of blogging how essential the element of reading and supporting other blogs is, these awards come as a very special honour. I have elected to post on both awards in one blog (a tactic I learned form another blogger this month) in order to keep from putting one before the other or to repeat myself in any way.
I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog award by The Runaway Palate and I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks for the nomination. I was attracted to her blog from near the beginning of my journey into blogging due in no small part to her obvious experience in writing, but also a love of food and interesting travel stories. Being a fellow occupant of the Asian continent myself I saw some common ground and I felt that her experience as a journalist was something I could learn from and appreciate. I can say that from the time I clicked ‘follow’ on her blog, I have not been disappointed.
Dutch Goes the Photo! nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award and I am flattered to be recognised by a blogger with such a keen eye with the camera. As a creative mind I find myself more and more drawn to other artists who blog. I like to see what other creative minds are creating and the pictures and stories that go along with them I find on this site are very inspiring. The whole work on the Yoga Tree on this site is wonderful. I may have to use that tree in my writing someday.
One Lovely Blog rules:
- Thank the person who nominated your blog
- Say something about that person or blog, and include a link to the lovely blog on your post.
- Display the award on your post
- Tell the world seven things about yourself
- Nominate another seven blogs for the award
So, seven things about myself. Here we go:
- I am fluent in Japanese, my wife is Japanese, and my daughter (who is 4) only speaks Japanese with any real efficiency (although she can say, “No thank you!” in perfect English. I am the embodiment of the 80’s song, “I think I’m turning Japanese”
- Every novel I have begun to write was based off of a character created from a friend or close acquaintance. People I love or admire are the inspiration behind my writing.
- The story I wish I had written the most is Alice in Wonderland. The idea of everything being what it isn’t is just so perfect. It encompasses the essence of childhood imagination perfectly.
- I am a sucker for anything crunchy. That is why I love apples. It isn’t the taste, it’s the crunch.
- I grew up in Southern California but I have lived in Colorado, and Texas. I lived in more houses than I had years in my life by the time I was 20. No, my dad wasn’t in the military, he was in sports marketing.
- I am a preschool teacher.
- I majored in history and wrote an 100+ page honours thesis for which I won a cash award and highest honours from UCLA. It was about the Japanese emperor and his status as a divinity after WWII.
Blogger Recognition Award rules:
Rule 1: Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
Rule 2: Provide a link to the award creator
Rule 3: Attach the award to your post
Rule 4: Nominate fifteen other bloggers, excluding yourself and the person who nominated you
Rule 5: Write a brief story of how you started your blog
Rule 6: A piece or two of advice to new bloggers
Rule 7: Comment on the blogs you have named here to let them know you have nominated them
A brief story of how I started blogging?
Well, I started my blog one month ago (about mid-December) to expand my writing platform. That sounds really selfish and business like but it’s true. I am a novelist who is working on polishing my first completed work to submit to agents and have been told that having a platform would aid in that battle.
That being said, engaging in the process changed what my blog has become. I learned through the engagement and community aspect of blogging that this blog and the entire essence of blogging is to give back. The more you give the more you grow, and the more you grow the more you find that blogging is about inspiring other creative people to create and this in turn adds fuel to your own creative fire.
Blogging is reciprocal and it has been a great experience for me.
All I have ever wanted was to have people read the things that I wrote so I could feel like all the strange things bouncing around in my head had a purpose. All it took was for one person to say they enjoyed my writing for me to want to write more. If this blog achieves nothing else, it has served its purpose in that one interaction. Thank you all for your input and feedback over the last month! It has encouraged me to keep typing, and maybe someday it will lead to me finally achieving my dream.
My one piece of advice to other bloggers:
If you have read my post on blogging you will know what is coming next. My advice is to read other blogs. Comment on other blogs. Find blogs similar to yours, especially successful ones, and try to learn how they became so. Successful blogging is about interacting. If you have a blog it’s because you want someone to read or look at what you are creating. If you want that to happen you have to be willing and able to read and look at what others are creating. If you want people to comment on your work, comment on theirs. If you want more, give more. Blogging is a community and you have to engage in the community aspect if you want to be successful and grow your blog.
One award asked for 7 nominations and other other asked for 15. I am going to shoot for the middle and go with 10. These ten blogs are blogs I read often and appreciate the work that they make. I will link back to one of their posts that I genuinely enjoyed so you can see what about them I liked so much.
- Vasa and Ypres – as a fellow creative writer I really appreciate her literary style. The story is very engaging and her prose is wonderful.
- leet_g33k – As a fellow lover of scifi/fantasy, I really enjoy his sarcastic wit. Reminds me of Adams a bit.
- Beilin Ye – Again, another fellow creative writer with great sarcastic wit. Still waiting for the follow up to this one 🙂
- Girlygeekgirl – One of my favourite bloggers. We see eye to eye on a lot of things… just not our favourite NFL teams.
- The Caffeinated Writer – Another fellow writer who muses in a way that I like, which is rare indeed. Sorry, just gave you a heap more awards to deal with 🙂
- The Dog Rules – A fellow animal lover and a person who knows how to tie life lessons into the love of animals and the interaction us humans have with our pets.
- Elan Mudrow – I don’t like poetry. That I rush to read every post by this blog is a testament, in my eyes, to how good it is. It’s mainly long poems and they are fantastic!
- Only 100 Words – The stories are very compact and the punch this writer manages to get in with so few words is amazing. Love your work.
- A Narcissist Writes Letters, To Himself – If you ever need a good laugh, this is the place to find one. I am still smiling after reading this post again.
- Girl at a Desk – Another writer who has a great sarcastic wit.
*I will get to commenting on your blogs this week but I can’t get to you all right now. I hope the pingbacks show up so you know I love you 🙂 *
*Not all images belong to me. For what I borrowed, thank you. For what I didn’t, I’m sorry.*
Disneyland is a polarising place. For those that love it, it’s a magical obsession. For those that hate it, it’s an overpriced land of extravagance.
I am of the former persuasion.
Having just returned from a two day, three night trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea I will submit the things I learned from my trip to The Happiest Place on Earth.
Did you really pay 20 dollars for that?
One of the most amazing things about Disneyland is that they sell the most ridiculously overpriced novelty items, items that cannot be used without some level of embarrassment on the days following a Disneyland trip, and people buy them up like crack. I saw endless items that were obnoxious to the point of being an eyesore but countless people dropped nearly 40 dollars for them. I cannot remember a time in my life that I saw a person wearing their ‘special’ Disney purchase outside of the park. So you spent all that money on something you would love intensely for one day? It’s like people become drunk on the Disneyland experience and cannot fathom their life outside the park. Buying a bright orange Tigger hat complete with tail is not only normal, but expected. They must wake up the next day feeling like an alcoholic, take one look at that ridiculous purchase and think, as many of us have at one point or another, “I am never going to drink again as long as I LIVE!”
This attraction brought to you by Tampax, for when you are riding your own Splash Mountain.
I understand how business and promotion works. I am not, contrary to how this post will end, 4 years old. It was still sad to see that every ride now has a sponsor. I don’t know that the LA or Florida Disneyland’s are like this, but the Japanese Disneyland had a sponsor for every ride. It was VERY subtle and you really had to be looking to see it, but when you got to the main sign for any ride, there it was. “Space Mountain” and under it: brought to you by Coca Cola. It made me think of Fight Club. “When deep space exploration ramps up, it’ll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks.”
Disney at night is my personal heaven.
Disneyland during the day is always a bit congested and can feel really hectic. When the sun sets and the lights come on it is a world of quiet tranquility. This is an odd statement seeing as how there are roaring rollercoasters and shouting people just like during the daytime, but the night just seems more peaceful. The night also brings on the light parade, the fireworks (in the current case it’s a projection mapping show too.) The night time is when Disney becomes truly magical.
Disneyland engages all 5 senses like very few things can.
People who had one home they grew up in their whole life talk about how that place brings them back to being a child. I had many homes, so I don’t know what that feels like. I think it feels something like going to Disneyland for me. Why? Because Disney is amazing at engaging all five senses. The magic kingdom layout is almost identical no matter which park you go to, thus the sights are familiar and comforting. Then there is the lingering smell of caramel and the tastes of the candies, the sounds of all the familiar jingles, even the feel of the railing, the faux wood they use in the lines for many rides, is the same. I was half a world away from the place of my birth but, if only for a moment, I was back home. Looking at the ride attendants in their familiar costumes and listening to all the songs and jingles I have heard so many times, I could have been back in California. It was an amazing feeling.
Going with a 4 year old is like going with a schizophrenic
Taking my daughter for her first trip to Disneyland was sensory overload for her. She wanted to do everything, all at once, RIGHT NOW! She wanted to buy everything in every store. She wanted to touch everything. She wanted to ride all the rides at once. Except the ones that went into a dark place, those could go blow, until she got used to the idea, then she wanted to ride again. NO, she was not going to GET OFF the ride. She was going to ride it again, thank you. Daddy, tell that stupid person we aren’t getting off! I was dealing with a person broken by joy. But still…
Going with a 4 year old is pure magic
As insane as my daughter made the Disney trip I cannot image going without her now. Her reaction to everything brought back the magic so many of us lose the older we get. That is what Disney brings out in me, and it brought it out in my daughter as well. The look on her face when she laid eyes on THE Mickey Mouse was akin to looking at the combination of a person who has just come face to face with God and a teenage girl who is kissed by her idol crush. There was screaming, there was crying, there was twitching, and there was the idiotic smile only the truly joyous could possibly conjure. Everything about Disneyland made her smile. Watching the light parade with her brought me back to being 4. All of it was amazing. It’s a parade of lit up floats but to her it was 100% magic. I could see it in her eyes. My heart was full to burst with the joy she was radiating.
I learned a lot this trip. The joy and freedom my daughter felt being at Disneyland reminded me why I love it so much. It is also the very reason why so many people buy the stupid Tigger hats. Because Disneyland is a place where you are supposed to just be happy. It’s a place where you are allowed to be 4 as well, even if you’re 90. No one judges because we are all in it together. It’s a huge playground and the age requirement is 4. You can’t be older to ride that ride. So we buy our stupid hats and we breathe in the sweet smell, hum all the silly jingles and wave like idiots at Mickey when he waves at us… or even when he can’t see us. It is a place of unparalleled freedom and happiness. As adults we resent the prices and the crowds, we curse the lines and get frustrated at how stupid some people are. In the end, if you choose to focus on these things, you may well come to hate Disneyland. For me, I will never be able to see anything but the joy and nostalgia it holds for me. I picture myself as an old man, sitting with my grandchildren watching the light parade that I watched as a child and remembering that there will always be a place, if only for a day, I can be a kid again.
When our trip came to an end I was carrying my daughter to the train. She was strung out from two days of the ultimate high and ready for sleep, but then she saw a huge picture of Mickey Mouse waving goodbye to everyone, saying, “Come Back Soon!” The fuse was ignited one last time and, screaming Mickey’s name in my ear, my daughter let the magic erupt one final time. I couldn’t help but smile like a big, dumb idiot. She waved at Mickey with all her four year old might and shouted, “Mickey, bye bye! Thank you, Mickey! Let’s play again!” Knowing then that her time at Disneyland was really over, she buried her face in my shoulder and cried.
So did I.
Thank you, Mickey, for everything.
I’ve created a Mailchimp account to help support my *aspirations* as a writer!
This is totally shameless, and as a person who vehemently slammed shameless self promotion I know I am being my own worst enemy right now, but I would love to have anyone interested in my writing sign up for my newsletter!
I promise I won’t send more than one a month and I will make sure to give something away with it!
To kick it off I think I am going to do a book giveaway, so if you would like to sign up for my newsletter I will put you into the pot for the first one. Make sure to list three books you would be interested in receiving for your prize and I will announce what book I chose when the giveaway starts.
The link to the newsletter is on my sidebar, just below my menu buttons (where it says: Join The Olive Branch)
Thank you so much for the support. I honestly and truly do love you all! Yes, even you 😉
First, I would like to send a big thank you out to girlygeekgirl for nominating me for this award. I had read a few of these and really wanted to try it out and now I have my chance, so here… we… go… (said in my best Joker voice
- What career, if any, did you want as a child?
I wanted to be a professional athlete, either baseball or American football (I’ve gotten used to adding the “American” part recently because I live in Japan and have come to learn from the other English speakers of the world that there is more than one sport considered, “football”). This was mainly because I spent my young life idolizing my father and he loved sports. I did too and still do but there you have it.
2. If you could be guaranteed a gold medal in an obscure Olympic event, or only have a 50-50 chance at a bronze medal in one of the super popular, highly televised and commercialized Olympic events, which would you choose and why?
I would choose the former. This is mainly because I would love to get a gold medal in archery or the biathlon. Hello? Skiing and shooting a gun? Who the hell thought of that? And why is it a sport? But I digress. I don’t think the popularity of the sport is important but my love of the sport. I would rather finish last in a sport I love than to train in something just to ‘win’.
3. What is your favorite museum you’ve ever visited (either in person or virtually through a website or documentary)?
Sadly, I haven’t been to many museums. That is something I need to rectify. But the museum I would really love to go to is the American Museum of Natural History. I love dinosaurs, archeology and the study of time and history. As a writer of stories it’s impossible not to appreciate the history of man. That is the greatest story every told.
4. If you could have any painter in all of history do a portrait of you, who would you choose and why?
I am going to go with Michelangelo and I would want it to be a sculpture. Not because I am The David or anything, but because that is the form of art that I appreciate most. Michelangelo is also my second favorite ninja turtle, but that is neither here nor there. (Raphael is my favorite there. Sarcastic jerks always make me laugh)
5. What is your favorite flavor?
This is really hard because it doesn’t tie it down to one variety of food. I would have to say the one flavor that constantly satisfies me is ‘apple’. I love the fruit, I love the crunch of it, but I also like it in so many other things. The apple flavor they put in Japanese curry is amazing. Apple tea is also amazing. Same with apple cider and apple flavored sake (Japanese rice wine). Apple in anything tastes good to me.
6. Morning person, night person, both, or neither?
I would have to say morning. I am more productive when I first wake up. I do good work at night too but it is really scattered. It’s harder for me to focus at night. (Partially because my 4 year old is harassing me to play hide and seek)
7. How often do you hit snooze on your alarm clock? If you don’t use an alarm clock, what wakes you up? (Baby, dog, just naturally wake up on time, etc.)
I used to do this all the time. Then I learned that I would actually sleep through the alarm at times and be late places. Now I get up as soon as the thing beeps. I feel like an android sometimes, rocketing out of bed and trying to pretend like I was totally ready for the thing to go off.
8. Did you ever have an imaginary friend as a child?
No. I imagined myself being a million things but I was always the star of my own fantasies and I usually ran solo.
9. Name one thing that truly terrifies you.
Suspended heights. I can handle rollercoasters because they eventually go down, and quickly. Put me on a Ferris wheel and you will see utter terror. My wife and I went to a famous snow festival in Sapporo, Japan the first year we were dating. There is a famous tower in Sapporo along the boardwalk where the snow festival is and the line for the elevator was two hours long. They told us we could take the stairs with no wait so we decided to be brave. The staircase was outside in a caged up zigzag that ran along the spine of the tower. I am not joking, I had to struggle not to cry. The wind was howling and the tower was moving back and forth. I was certain that would be the last night of my life.
10. How often, if at all, do you go out to the movies rather than watching them at home?
Almost never nowadays. Movie theatres in Japan are incredibly expensive. Not to mention I have lost my love of movies of late. I prefer television because the narrative is longer and more thought out. 2-hour movies don’t pack the punch they used to. There is too much focus on just making money and not making a good story. I did watch the new Star Wars in the theatre though. It was my first movie theatre movie since “The Dark Knight Rising.” It was awesome.
11. For books you own, do you break the spine?
Not on purpose, no. I am anal retentive about my books. I see them as trophies. When I finish them I make sure they are on display so that people can see what I have read. It drives me crazy when they look ugly, or the sizes are all mismatched. I also hate it when a series of books get made into a film and the cover changes to the stupid movie promo cover. I love my books though. They are my most prized possessions (outside of my wife and my daughter, of course).
11 Random Facts About Me:
- I failed Spanish in high school, failed French in college, and somehow mastered Japanese… which is infinitely harder than both of the other two for an English speaker.
- Following in the vein of girlygeekgirl, who tagged me with this post, I write my upper case E like a backward 3. It drives all the Japanese people who read my notes crazy.
- I can fall asleep anywhere and in any ridiculous position. When I am tired, I turn off (again, like an android… there may be something to that…)
- I love mint-flavored things. Not as much as my aforementioned apple obsession, but mint flavored Ice Cream, Mint chocolates, mint gum. Good stuff. Those mints they put on pillows at hotels are one of the things I look forward to most about staying in a hotel. When it’s some other stupid chocolate I always drop one star in my rating of the hotel.
- I have a paralyzing fear of flying insects. I hate them with a passion. If I see a bee I will be running like a diva quicker than you can say, “fabulous!”
- I am a sucker for anything to do with Alice in Wonderland or The Nightmare Before Christmas. I love Alice and Jack.
- I have written a novel, begun two others and am working on a series within my blog and in all of them the lead female character can beat the crap out of everyone else in the story. I really like girls who kick ass.
- I love to be cold and I cannot stand being hot. If the house is freezing I am in heaven. Wrapped up in blankets is the best way to live. I own a leather work chair though so when it gets to the summer in Osaka it is really hard to work at my desk. Peeling myself off a leather chair with sweaty legs? No, thank you.
- I am a sucker for all things Irish. I have some Irish in my blood and I am obsessed with the history and culture of Ireland. I am actually reading, “Finn MacCool” by Morgan Llywelyn right now.
- I would rather see a million people gutted and murdered in film than watch someone hurt an animal. Animal cruelty to me is intolerable. If you have ever seen the movie John Wick, which is not a fantastic film by any means, I kept watching it just to see the prick that killed the dog get it. That made me angry beyond words.
- I have no boundaries when it comes to finding something to like about anything. I am not a snob. When my daughter wants to listen to Taylor Swift I don’t go into macho mode. I can admit that I like some of her music. I also like watching My Little Pony sometimes too. Pinky Pie is funny, man! I can find something redeemable in almost anything… except Twilight and 50 Shades. That is where I draw the line.
My 11 Questions to You:
- If you had to live the rest of your life in a book/movie, what would it be and why?
- If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?
- Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what? If not, why not?
- If they took your computer away and you had to write long hand, how would that change your writing?
- If you had to spend the rest of your life in one season what would it be and why?
- You just got an unlimited access to funds. You can do anything. What do you do?
- What is your dream job? Are you doing it? If not, what do you have to do to make it happen?
- Have you ever been given a piece of advice that stuck with you for a long time? It can be a quote or saying as well. Did it change you? If so, how?
- When you imagine yourself as a writer, who are you? Name a writer you would love to become or believe to be the ideal you are aiming for.
- What is your weakness? This can be about your writing of about you in general.
- When we come to this point in time next year what do you want to have accomplished?
Now I Will Nominate 9 People to Tag:
Before I do that I would like to thank girlygeekgirl once again for nominating me. I am really looking forward to reading your story as you get going on it!
- In Sync With the Universe
- Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha
- Conquer the Now
- Setting Up Camp
- Redneck Co-Workers: The Series
- Motorcycles, Books, & Colitis
- The Runaway Palate
- Anyone and everyone in the Blogging101 course! Come one, come all!
For anyone new to the Liebster Award, this is how it works –
- In a post – answer the questions that your nominator posted for his/her nominees.
- Share 11 random facts about yourself.
- Make up 11 new fun questions for your nominees.
- Give some love back to your nominator , include a link back to their blog and their post.
- You must nominate 5-11 bloggers.
Nominees – any questions, please just ask. There is no timescale to do this but please add a link to your new post below when you done it. The aim is to raise the profile of your blog. I’m looking forward to reading your answers.
I had left my title and tag line as my site name and email address to call attention to my contact information.
I got around to creating a ‘contact info’ page and didn’t need that anymore so here is what I’m going with:
Title: The Olive Branch
Tagline: A peace offering of fiction, fitness tips, and teaching stories from abroad.
I went with “The Olive Branch” because my last name is Olivier. That being the case I was thinking of olive branches or dirty martinis. I went with the olive branch, though I did post up “The Dirty Martini of Discourse” “a delightful elixir mixed with equal parts fiction, fitness, and teaching from Mister Olivier himself.” for a moment before I realised how ostentatious it was.
Let me know what you think!
**EDIT – JANUARY 6**
I let it set for a day and decided… it wasn’t right. I changed it again.
The new title is: Olive These Words (I know, it’s pun-tastic)
It plays on my name, it’s a bit silly, and it also flows with the idea that I am a wordsmith or a person of words.
The tagline is a quote I love from Alice in Wonderland. It speaks about how the only things worth doing in life are the things we do for others. As I write stories for submitters on my site I felt that it fit the theme well.
I would love to hear some opinions on this!
My name is Jonathan James Olivier. I began this blog as a way to get my writing out to find an audience. For me there is no better feeling than having someone who appreciates the works I create. That, to me, is the point of creation, for others to appreciate it.
The topics that I will use this blog to address are a bit varied at the moment. I do feel a bit like I am, “firing all of my guns at once,” but as a fresh starter I am going with the things that I really love and love to talk about and I will see which of them finds an audience and maintains momentum throughout this year before I begin trimming it down.
My blog thus consists of five main parts:
–My new fiction stories: I have a young adult sci-fi/fantasy and a crime serial that I am in the process of flushing out and I will post them unedited as I work through them.
–Your Story from 10 Words: I take 10 words, a theme, and a song from a submitter and write them a story with it.
–Fitness: I am a fitness fanatic and have developed a program to get a lean body without needing a gym. I am going to be posting my tips and workouts periodically.
–Teaching Abroad: I have been living and working in Japan for 6 years and have amassed a plethora of silly stories. This is the humour portion of my site and it will include the silly things I see and hear everyday as an English teacher in Japan.
–Opinions: I am an avid reader and movie watcher. I like to get top five lists from people in different categories to compare and see if we can come up with a consensus top five.
So that is what I will blog about.
Who would I love to connect with? Other writers who are trying to move in the same direction, readers and critics who can help me improve my work, and an audience for my work.
My ideal for success for this blog in the next year is to get 10 new followers each month. That will leave me with 100 by the end of the year. It is an ambitious goal in my mind but I really want to see it through.
I hope to hear from any and all of you with suggestions, comments, advice and just general conversation. Thank you for reading!