Happy AANHPI Month celebrating Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander heritage! I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day and are looking forward to a nice, long Memorial Day Weekend ahead.

I have lots of updates and some fun pictures. Thank you for following along!

Editing Progress

My editor titled a recent series of emails to me “embarrassment of riches” because they included an abundance of book production activity, including cover rounds, copyedits and promo text.

Yes, my cover design is coming together! We’ve gone through two rounds so far and the second round was much better. The first round was more rough, but Marketing said those designs had commercial appeal. My agent and I narrowed it down to one we liked a lot, and the design team is working on refining it now. My third round just came in yesterday. I will reveal my cover soon!

I recently finished the copyediting phase, which made my novel clearer, more accurate and concise. After line edits, my manuscript went to copyeditors who combed my manuscript following the standard Chicago Manual of Style rules and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary entries. I received a style sheet that showed any exceptions that were unique to my work. This was the cover of my style sheet.

Amazon Publishing logo

The copyeditors focused on minor grammatical and mechanical issues, such as adjusting punctuation and aligning spelling, and repetition of words and phrases (I used a variation of the word “imagine” 42 times—yikes!). They also highlighted possible factual inaccuracies and continuity issues (chronological details). They helped me correct issues of timing, consistency and anything that could distract readers. In short, my copyeditors were amazing!

I also received promo text from my team. These consist of the book description that will appear on the Amazon detail page and on the back cover, as well as the press kit that accompanies advance reader copies. The bold lede line appears above the book description, and taglines will be used for the back cover, Kindle ads and social media posts. Marketing will have final approval on copy because they look at factors like keyword placement, but my agent and I were able to make suggestions.

A favorite tagline was “After hardship comes happiness,” which is a Korean proverb I use in my novel.

At the end of hardship comes happiness - Korean Proverb

I appreciate everyone on Team WHITE MULBERRY who is making the book the best it could be. My copyeditor Lauren said “There is much to admire about this fluid, beautifully crafted coming-of-age tale, from your deep attention to language and place to your poignant grasp of character and family dynamics.” I hope readers will feel this way too!

I’m not sure if I’ve announced this here but my official publication date for WHITE MULBERRY is DECEMBER 3, 2024. Please mark your calendar and stay tuned for more news!

Joey bumped into his friend Arri on a walk in my neighborhood. Joey is a great excuse to get outside while I’m editing!

Joey meets a friend on the sidewalk

Family Reunion, Birthday Bash & Research

Last month, I celebrated an early birthday in Seoul with friends who are also turning 60 this year. It was filled with laughter, fun and some research. I went to the document archives of the Seoul Metropolitan Library and saw Seoul as it looked in the 1920’s when my current novel begins, and then in 2020. What a transformation! I also went to the Blue House, where the Korean President used to live, and which plays a large role in my next novel. Korea has come such a long way, and I’m glad to be able to provide a window into its history in my book.

Rosa and friends

Seoul past and present  exhibit at Seoul Metropolitan Library

Park in Seoul

A highlight of my trip was traveling with my brother to visit our Korean family in Kyoto. We had last gathered as an extended family when my grandfather’s tomb was officially established at a Buddhist Temple in Kyoto in 1983. I was fortunate to be able to see where my father was born and where he lived with his cousins before he was taken back to Korea by his mother, my grandmother, in 1943. My father visited that old house in 2016, but my brother is standing in front of what is now a parking lot. My book is inspired by my family’s stories.

Rosa and family at Grandfather's tomb in Kyoto

Rosa's father at the location where his father lived in Kyoto  Rosa's brother at the site where their grandfather lived while in Kyoto

Rosa Kwon Easton's grandfather

I also had the opportunity to stand in front of the library of my late grandfather’s university, Ritsumeikan, where he studied law. My grandfather appears as a character in WHITE MULBERRY too, and the city of Kyoto is an important character since so much of my novel takes place there. Here is my grandfather and grandmother’s wedding photo from 1936.

Rosa's grandfather prior to 1936   Rosa's Grandparents Wedding Photo

Rosa at Ritsumeikan University Library

Although a vending machine now stands where my father’s house used to be, I realized Kyoto has not changed that much since my last visit about thirty years ago. Old buildings and institutions have remained largely the same to preserve Kyoto’s legacy as the ancient capital of Japan. One thing that hasn’t changed is the food! We enjoyed great sushi, tofu kaiseki overlooking the Arashiyama Mountains, and a traditional meal in an old Shogun’s house. I also had a tearful reunion with my homestay sister, whose house I stayed at for a year while I studied at Doshisha University during my junior year abroad in college.

My visit to Kyoto was a trip of a lifetime!

traditional Japanese meal
Sushi in Kyoto

60th birthday celebration

Rosa and

Events and Book Clubs

This past April, I was fortunate to be in conversation with acclaimed author and friend A.H. Kim about her new novel RELATIVE STRANGERS. We had a lively discussion about her witty, humorous story of sisters, family, and secrets over a mouthwatering Korean lunch at Michelin-recognized Yong Su San restaurant in LA’s Koreatown. I laughed out loud reading Ann’s book, and you will too!

Rosa and others with Relative Strangers books

Last week, my Smith College Book Club discussed Invisible:  The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster by Stephen Carter. It was great to read about Eunice Hunton Carter from my alma mater who helped put Lucky Luciano behind bars in 1936. Even though Eunice was never able to realize her dream of becoming a judge due to racial and gender barriers, she broke glass ceilings.

Rosa at Smith Bookclub gathering

My Asian American Book Club met to talk about two books in translation: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by by Cho Nam-Joo and Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. Thanks to one member who is also part of a book club that reads Korean language books, we thought it would be a good idea to read Asian books in translation. I’m recommending them for my book selections below. The books explore themes of gender bias, motherhood, career, and emotional resiliency, which are surprisingly timely and relevant even in our own country.

Overall, we were disheartened to read that patriarchy still exists the way it does in modern day Seoul, and how conformist Japanese society is when it comes to gender roles. Because these characters shed light on contemporary women living in Korea and Japan, we couldn’t help but compare their lives with ours in America. Despite all our country’s problems, I think we all agreed that we are grateful we live here. But we also saw that women face similar issues wherever we live, and there’s still a lot of work to be done.

We had Japanese “convenience store” food while we discussed the books. We had a fabulous meeting!

Rosa and her Asian American Bookclub

What I’m Reading

Book cover of Kim Kiyoung, Born 1982

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is a novel about a young, millennial Korean “everywoman” who begins to impersonate the voices of other women after quitting her job to care for her infant daughter. It is structured as a narrative told to a psychiatrist.

Cover of The Convenience Store Woman

Convenience Store Woman is about an unusual Japanese woman who works as a clerk at a convenience store in Tokyo and feels pressured by society to pursue a career and marry. But when she takes steps to please the people around her instead of herself, her life takes a dark turn.

Both of these novels are largely autobiographical and commentaries on the life of a modern woman in Korea and Japan. I highly recommend them!

Picture of the Day

Rosa and her 2nd cousin in traditional 60th birthday costumes

My second cousin, Ikumi, and I were surprised with traditional red costumes that Japanese wear to celebrate “kanreki,” or 60th birthday, in Japan. We were offered fruit tarts with candles and everyone sang us happy birthday in English. We appreciated the shout out! I can’t wait to see what this next decade brings!

Thank you for following me on this journey and cheering me on. I always love hearing from you. Please comment below if you have time!