Excerpt Monday: Shinjuku pt.2

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This EM tried to sneak up on me, but I caught it. Ha! Excerpt Monday was started by authors Bria Quinlan and Alexia Reed. Unpublished and published authors post excerpts every month. They’ve added many new features such as holiday free reads and new releases too. Check it out on the blog: Excerpt Monday

This month is a continuation of the opening I posted last month. The working title of it is, “My Thoughts Return to Shinjuku”. Perhaps as it unfolds a little more, a little muse might suggest a better title?

The funny thing about re-reading part one — There is no elevator as our protagonist goes to the tea room. But I remember…oops, I mean…I imagined this elevator scene so vividly that the tea room simply must be on the second or third floor. I’ll have to fix that in edits. And the fact that the protagonist’s name sounds familiar is purely coincidental…

From last month:

But I was already late. And the formalness of the woman’s kimono and the meticulous room made me feel all the more gaijin. I hurried across the stones in my socks and knelt down onto the mat. The guy next to me was, like me, wearing jeans. He was the first Caucasian I had seen in days. I shot him an apologetic look, but he simply waited patiently with his hands resting on his knees for the tea ceremony to continue.  Read Part One

Part Two:

The hostess returned to the front of the room in tiny steps, the looped knot of her obi swaying back and forth behind her. The muted lantern light cast a reverent glow. A tray had been set with a kettle and bowls as well as other implements. She served us each a bubble-shaped purple jelly on a paper doily.

“Traditional Japanese sweet,” she explained.

And then the polyphonic tones of Beethoven’s Fifth cut into the proceedings. I sliced into the bubble with a toothpick-like utensil while she pattered to the back room to grab her cell phone. Thank goodness it wasn’t mine.

“Moshi-moshi.” She spoke in hushed tones in the back room while we ate.

The coconut-flavored jelly slid cool down my throat. I took my time picking at it as there was nothing else to do while we waited. The hostess was still talking on the phone when I finished, so I folded the paper carefully in my hands and glanced over at my jean-clad counterpart. He shifted on the mat, but otherwise remained respectfully still. He had light brown hair, short and unstyled. His jaw was slightly square and the look of him invoked an immediate sense of familiarity. I darted my gaze away before he could return it.

I remember how I stood in a subway train a month ago and realized, ‘Hey, I’m not shorter than everyone here’. This was the first time in my life I was surrounded by people who looked like me; Asian faces on every street, in every restaurant — and not just the wait staff.  Why should that feel like a Twilight Zone moment? Like that woman who wakes up from the operating table and is mortified when she sees her own face.

The Japanese woman returned to take us through the rest of the ritual: the respectful bowing, the whisking of the powder and water into a froth. I held the tea bowl in both hands and drank deep. True green tea tastes like boiled grass. The stuff they sell in the States is usually a doctored version.

The phone only rang once more before the ceremony was completed. We paid the hostess for our cultural experience and she zipped the yen notes into a small silk purse.

Out in the lighted hallway, I could see my tea companion more clearly.  His eyes were the same color as his hair, brown and common. He had that everyman boyish face that you saw many times over in the US. Only here in Tokyo could he achieve any sort of distinctiveness. The backpack slung over his shoulder made me think he might be a graduate student.

“That was interesting,” he remarked.

“Yes, it was.”

The stiff formality of the tea room remained with us as we walked to the elevator. Once inside, we grew even more quiet as we stared up at the lighted numbers, counting each ding down. The top of my head barely reached his shoulder.

“The cell tone added a real authentic touch,” he said out of the corner of his mouth. “Especially when it rang the second time.”

“And I felt like such an ugly American for being late!”

We laughed together in the close space, poking fun at how we had come expecting a rich and somber ritual.

“I’m Scott.”

“Jeannie,” I replied, and we passed into the second phase of casual meetings.


This month’s links:

Don’t forget to come back on the first Monday of February for New Release Monday.  See what’s coming out and enter to win a free basket of New Releases.

So, to kick it off, your hosts:

Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG13)


Alexia Reed, Urban Fantasy (R)

Joining us this week:

Stephanie Draven, Fantasy with Romantic Elements (PG 13)
Danie Ford, Contemporary YA (PG 13)
Babette James, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Cynthia Justlin, Thriller with Romantic Elements (PG 13)
Kaige, Historical Romance (PG 13)
R. F. Long, Fantasy Romance (PG13)
Shawntelle Madsion, Paranormal Romance (PG13)
Debbie Mumford, Science Fiction/ Fantasy (PG13)

Kendal Corbitt, Erotica Contemporary (R)
KB Alan, Erotic Paranormal Romance (R)
Cate Hart, YA Paranormal (R)
Jeanne St. James, Interracial Menage Erotic Romance (R)
Cherrie Lynn, Contemporary Erotic Romance (R)
Michelle Picard, Paranormal/Fantasy (R)
Mary Quast, Contemporary Romance (R)
Danielle Yockman, Historical Romance (R)

Sara Brookes, Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy (NC17)
Angeleque Ford, Contemporary, Interracial, Erotic Romance (NC 17)
Elise Logan, Contemporary Romance (NC17)

Excert Monday: Shinjuku

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It’s that time again! I just couldn’t stay away from Excerpt Monday. I’m switching gears a little and posting the beginning of  contemporary short story that I’ve been working on off and on. I had to remove all the posts for excerpts that may have been contracted or will be on submission soon, but I figured it will be a LONG time before I try to publish a contemporary or a women’s fiction piece.

This story is based on a short visit I made to Tokyo while working abroad. Enjoy!

About Excerpt Monday:

Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–just an writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site! or click on the banner above.


Yotsuya Station, Tokyo

I rushed up the steps of the subway station, weaving through the thick of the crowd as politely as I could. There were multiple exits up to street level and my navigational instincts told me that if I could get outside, if I could just see sky, I’d be able to figure out where I was. But my instincts sucked and they didn’t seem to improve no matter how many new cities I went to.

Out on the sidewalk, the city buzz of cars and pedestrians took over and I cracked open my copy of Lonely Planet: Tokyo a moment before realizing that I had to step aside from the oncoming rush of people. I made myself as small as possible beside the stairs and stared at the glossy map at the center of the book. When I found my location, I stabbed the dot with a finger and looked up, searched for street signs, looked down again, and turned the map sideways.

The tea ceremony at the New Otani hotel was scheduled for 2pm on Saturdays for the price of 800 yen. My cell phone read 1:54. I started walking fast even though I wasn’t sure where I was going. Being five or ten minutes late wasn’t a big deal in Los Angeles time with traffic and crowds and everyone drunk on sunshine, but here it seemed outright disrespectful.

It turned out the hotel was close. Hard to miss too, being a forty-story complex of polished steel surrounded by Japanese gardens. Somehow, I did miss it and had to double back. I stuffed the Lonely Planet into my bag as I approached the glass doors.

“Welcome to the New Otani. How can I help you?” The concierge spoke English in the overly precise tone that came from study.

Darn it, how did they always know? I wasn’t Japanese, but I was Asian and looked it. No one ever mistook me for a traveler from Hong Kong or Korea. Even before I said a word, they somehow knew I was American.

I had to brush my hair from my eyes. “I’m here for the tea ceremony?”

He nodded once and gestured with an outstretched arm, looking crisp in his black suit. I was sweating in my sneakers. Maybe it was the sneakers that gave me away.

At the end of the corridor, a sign on the tea room door reminded visitors to be respectfully quiet in observance of the ceremony. By now my phone read 2:15. I stood staring at the sign, deciding if I should knock. As I reached for the handle tentatively, a woman in a purple kimono opened the door. Her hair was done up in an elaborate knot.

“Tea ceremony?” she asked in carefully pronounced English.

Yes, unmistakably American.

I made an apologetic face. “I’m sorry I’m late.”

She beckoned me in and instructed me to remove my shoes. As I tugged at the laces, feeling more out of place with each moment, I noticed there was another person kneeling on the tatami mats at the other end. He was the first Caucasian I had seen in days. I shot him an apologetic look, but he simply waited patiently with his hands resting on his knees.

“Links to other Excerpt Monday writers
Note: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.

So, to kick it off, your hosts:

Alexia Reed, Urban Fantasy (R)


Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG13)

Joining us this week:

Danie Ford, Womens Fiction (PG13)
Kaige, Historical Romance (PG13)
Jeannie Lin, Contemporary (PG13)
RF Long, Fantasy Sword and Sorcery (PG13)
Shawntelle Madison, Paranormal Romance (PG13)
Debbie Mumford, Flash Fiction (PG13)

KB Alan, Erotic Paranormal Romance (R)
Penny Dune, Romantic Suspense (R)
Cate Hart, YA Paranormal (R)
Inez Kelley, Contemporary Romance (R)
Jeannete Murray, RomCom (R)
Christa Page, Regency Paranormal (R)
Michelle PicardParanormal
Jeanne St James, Erotic Rom M/M (R)
Danielle Yockman, Historical Romance (R)

Sara BrookesFantasy (NC17)
Emily Ryan Davis, Erotic Contemporary Romance (NC17)
Ella Drake, Erotic SciFi Romance (NC17)
Angeleque Ford, Erotic Contemporary Romance (NC17)
Jamal W Hankins, (NC17)
Bryl R Tyne, Transgender M/M (NC17)

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