Digital Windowsill Clover is available via amazon.
As I have announced beforehand I am releasing three new books in 2019, tying together the Honey Moon Marmalade series that I had previously published online via Textnovel.
This marks not only the release of my first English trilogy, but also the end to a series that I have been working on since 2011. While Textnovel has shut down in May 2018, I have tried to find a way to finish the series and making it available for everyone, but settled on turning it into a full book in the end.
I was given the option to publish it either myself or with a publisher in Europe, however I thought it was a great idea to go this step via amazon and make it available worldwide as opposed to making it harder to obtain for readers in other countries.
"A writer only creates a character from their point of view. They might give them a personality, a look, and relationships, but what they really are and what they become depends on the reader."
An unusual red string connects the high school student Kotonoha to the schools cross-dressing delinquent Akira. Once he found out her secret – Kotonoha is the country’s most known online novelist – he blackmails her into a relationship with his friend Yukinari. But she soon notices there is more to this story than just a make-believe romance.
This novel is the first of a three-volume book series that started on textnovel.com in 2011 as “Honey Moon Marmalade”. Honey Moon Marmalade won the Editors’ Choice Award on Textnovel in 2012 for Best Cell Phone Novel and Original Style.It was ranked number six in the Top 10 Most Read novels, live and regularly updated until the site's closure in May 2018. The novel explores several views of other characters through flashbacks and a variety of different writing mediums within its world while tying back into the main story at the end of each arc. The minimalistic writing style is the result of blending poetry and prose, staying as close to the original style of Japanese cell phone novels as possible.
I first came in contact with the medium of "携帯小説" (Keitai Shousetsu = Cell Phone Novel) through Japanese media such as "xx Shinasai", a manga, and "Koizora", a movie based off of a cell phone novel. After researching into the writing style I found a community on Textnovel.com, that posted their own stories emulating the unique style in English. At this time I was in middle school and my English wasn't too great, but it was enough to get me into trying to write my own novels.
I created several smaller projects alongside "Honey Moon Marmalade", which quickly turned from a few chapters into a weekly series, where I would post a chapter a week, completing arc by arc.
I made several friends within the community and ultimately decided to send excerpts to publishers, trying to find a way to publish it in book form eventually. In the meantime I had already gotten "Staubmädchen", my first German novel published and was hopeful in being the first in my country to get a deal on a new genre that - so far - didn't exist on its own. I was disappointed to learn that it's not necessarily easy to queue a new literary genre to the European market and many of my efforts were ignored or rejected.
When I was about to give up I met an independent author at a fair, she had made her own publishing business and sold other works via amazon to save on printing costs. This set off something in my mind, that I had always pushed aside when it had come to writing. The thought of "stepping down" into self-publishing after already having secured a deal with a publisher in my home country for my other series seemed like a bad idea, but what other options did I have left?
As it turned out I finally had to chose between a small publisher in the English-speaking parts of Europe paying with the availability restrictions or simply putting it on amazon.
I chose the latter, found a friend who designed the cover and enjoyed two rounds of editing and layout on each book by myself. It was great to decide myself which parts should get redacted and which parts were allowed to stay in the book, rather than having someone tell me what to do.
I even got to chose elements of the cover myself - which was also the case with my German series - but would have been out of my hands otherwise.
The cover specifically is an element of the release that I am really happy with. If I saw it in a bookshop I would buy it just by the design.
As of now "Digital Windowsill Clover" is available in print and e-book (kindle) format via amazon, worldwide. The second volume *TBC* will be out by the end of this summer and the third one will follow in fall.
There will be a third volume of the "Staubmädchen" series, cover and synopsis are already available to Patrons (HERE). English translation are in the works and will be available via Best Off Publishing.
I want to quickly preface this post by saying I didn’t write this to fuel any further hate in a community I am no longer part of. I changed and shortened names to keep people’s privacy.
I wanted to address some of the issues that came up in the past and took me a very long time to get over. I know very well that this is going to be ripped out of context and turned into whatnot, but I still want to try and tell this story from my point of view.
^ Coming Of Age Day, 2015
Let’s start in 2012, I first did a performance at LAGC which I now no longer attend. I got to do panels, talk about the German Cosplay Championship which I’ve been participating in 2011 and open the talent show.
I got asked to come back from that year onwards, made friends through participating in UK events, even more so when I moved to the UK in 2013 to study Drama at college.
Everything was great weeby fun, I filmed covers around the city, in my backyard and started streaming on NicoNicoDouga. Then, YouTube started shutting down dance channels & I was forced to mute my dance covers by the end of the year. I saw many of my friends lose their channels during that time.
I uploaded an unrehearsed acapella cover of a K-ON song during that time and this was the first time I got a serious amount of views on a video.
I wasn’t immune to hate at that time, and I could write a book about all the bad things that went down just before I graduated. An account under the name “Jrcach” was pretending I sent messages to them and set up comments on a website pretending I was congratulating myself. I got a comment from YouTuber D. on this persons’ blog under one of my videos. His comment said something mild about the light in my room being too harsh on my nose, D.’ comment said something outright mean about my nose and me being ugly. Her friend C. chimed in.
I ultimately took my vlog down and blocked both of them. But this wouldn’t be the last time I would hear of them.
In 2014 a lot of things changed for me. I graduated from college, got scouted by a Japanese company during Hyper Japan and started selling most things I owned for moving countries. I also started a Kickstarter campaign to help me pay for the travel costs. Around the same time, I got a letter from a publisher accepting my first novel with a contract attached to it.
Excited about these changes to my life I took the title “Author” to my Twitter bio, only to get torn apart by Jrcach and their followers for “boasting” a title I apparently didn’t deserve.
^ My first novel on display
The thing about my nose was something I was aware of and I never really showed my face from a side angle until it became a common gag among people who disliked me, but this was the very beginning of that.
It’s also one of the reasons I got plastic surgery earlier this year. I obviously didn’t do it solely for that reason, there was a medical problem I had as well, but I would have probably not gone through with it if it hadn’t been for those three people.
I got to go to Japan in September as a model for a festival in Tokyo, and I was asked by the organizer to bring a friend. I spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I chose Beckii because it made sense and she hadn’t been to Japan for a while. It was a great trip, but I got some rude messages after telling my I shouldn’t leech off of her for fame.
I sold most of my clothes and it was a wild mess. I had about 8 packages shipped out a day, I was getting rid of everything I couldn’t fit into my suitcases. A girl I’ll call E. (not even close to her real name) bought a dress from two different accounts since the name for shipping (her first name) was identical I put a post-it with that name on it and when going through the list again, later on, though I already packaged it. I mailed it, then got told the dress didn’t arrive. E. didn’t want to go to her post office to ask. I really wanted to get rid of all my stuff so I offered untracked shipping. I called around until a week before HJ, when I stumbled across a thread online calling me out for “scamming” E. While I refunded her, she was asking people to help her contact Hyper Japan to get me cut from the program, contacting several events in the UK telling them the same story. She got people involved who weren’t even involved in the case. She got her refund, I messaged her. Blocked. The post office later told me the package was delivered weeks ago. Finally, I found a similar post by E on a forum starting a thread on me being a scammer.
This fake drama went on for years.
Even though E. has been called out for posting about other people and starting drama, her old fake accounts were deleted and I was un-banned from all sales pages she got in contact with, even though she apologized and took the thread down, it was later reposted and some people still believe it.
This happened about FOUR YEARS AGO.
It might have even cost me a job in the past, but it’s hard to tell for sure.
^ Celebrating New Years in 2014
I moved to Japan in December 2014, on my first day I celebrated my birthday in Tokyo. I was shopping out in Harajuku when I got stopped by a TV crew and asked for an interview. I barely spoke any Japanese at this point, but I tried anyway because it was what I had come to Japan for. I was scheduled to be on You Ha Nani Shi Nippon He…? Earlier on, but I got canceled last minute without an explanation why.
I could speculate on it being the doings of Jrcach or whoever, but I have no way to prove that.
I did, however, get a big fake callout for sharing a picture.
After my interview, I went to a café called Noa on Takeshita Street and got a window seat. A photographer had followed me into the shop and asked for pictures of me for the site. I was really dressed up (as was visible in the TV interview), and after he got his pictures he said thanks and left.
I ordered my food and noticed three girls at the window gesturing to take pictures of me. I nodded and they did. More and more girls joined them, and the shop owner realized what was going on and asked in broken English if he should shoo them away, I said it was fine and waited for it to die down. This went on for a good 15 to 20 minutes. My tea got cold and the shop owner got visibly annoyed and ultimately went outside to tell them to stop. I thanked him after.
In hindsight, I wish I would have filmed this. But apparently it wasn’t real and I was imagining this, according to Jrcach.
^ Girls outside Cafe Noa 2014
After the TV crew followed up on me at my apartment I received hand-delivered letters in my mailbox and had to move apartments because of it. Even though they had blurred out my place on TV someone had figured out where I lived and hand-delivered their love letters to me. I went to the police. Moved in with my boyfriend at that time shortly after.
I didn’t share much about my private life online, and it was very limited at that time. Especially after I left my first agency and started performing again after releasing my first single, this was really hard. I was being recognized in places like Akihabara and Harajuku and I had to constantly look 100%. It wasn’t fun, but it was what I had signed myself up for.
I wore thick hair extensions, eyelash extensions, nails, a lot of make-up, frilly clothes, etc. all day, every day. During my time in my first agency, I was working part-time in impossible conditions, standing outside every day during harsh summer and cold winter in Japan. I was sick ONCE after getting a tumor removed and am NOT ALLOWED to work for a week after. I had told everyone a month in advance I had surgery but got called in the day after the surgery regardless. Because I couldn’t go I got cut little by little from my shift plan until I ultimately had to quit because I had 2h shifts once a week I couldn’t feed myself on.
I left the agency because I wasn’t allowed to audition for music projects and wasn’t offered to join or start music with my agency either, even though I was promised just that when I signed my contract.
^ Performance in Akihabara 2015
I joined my second agency, and another person entered the scene; Another girl let’s call her O. (Also nowhere near her real name). She had befriended me on Facebook and I knew her vaguely being a friend of an Ex back in Germany. I had received an offer from her old agency a while ago and it reminded me I should try out for them after leaving. They offered me a job the following November and I got to Osaka for a photoshoot. Later I auditioned properly and got offered her old position in the group. I declined because I didn’t want any further drama with anyone. I was already attracting enough hate and people reposting things just by following my small chance of going to Japan.
One day around that time I got asked some personal question about my sexuality by O. and decided to just take her off my friend list since screenshots showing up had doubled. I kicked some other people off while I was at it and decided to never tell her I declined her spot, thinking she would think I felt like I was too good for it when actually I just didn’t want to be the next O.
There is a lot more that went down with O., and I asked her to resolve things privately with me via DM, but she chose not to. There were lots of comments on some passive-aggressive post that I should have a screenshot to avoid all the drama she started, but I was dumb enough not to. I was still trying to believe in the good in people, no matter how many messages and hurtful comments I received regarding my appearance.
I saw obvious exes of mine overexaggerating about experiences with me in forum posts, hidden behind some makeshift nickname and with malicious intent only. One comment said I tried salt-poisoning my mom. The truth behind that was a prank I played on my mom on April first when I put salt in a sugar dispenser and she had put salt in her tea and noticed immediately. Obviously, an anonymous comment had more liability than the truth and I didn’t really feel like replying to the post, though I was toying with the idea of replying to it with “Hello, (name-of-ex)”. Of course, shock value weighs more than the boring truth of a prank everyone laughed off in the end, but that’s hard to exaggerate and start discussions on “what a psychopath” I apparently am.
I ran a birthday fundraiser shortly after releasing Wagamama Love, I received one donation and found out it was due to people claiming I was cashing in on it myself instead of giving the money to charity. The two donations that were made (mine and that of a friend) got put forward through the charities website which I had run it with. The rumor persists.
^ Filming for Kazeiro Gakuen
I posted my last(ish) dance cover in 2016 on YouTube and it got recognition by TeddyLoid, the composer of the song I covered, he retweeted the cover and people were quickly onto me for “bothering people for fame” again.
I did my best at my new agency, ultimately cut off my hair and had a lot of troubles in my private life. Regardless I got into an idol group called “Baby Wolf” after being on “Kazeiro Gakuen” an idol net TV show for half a year and having guest appearances on “MinKame” on TV Asahi.
^ On MinKame, TV Asahi
I did perform my original song several times during that time period, but even though I was promised a mini album by that agency, one of the company people made bad decisions continuously and I was lucky to see a light at the end by joining the unit. I made it out of the 1000+ people who auditioned and I really had to improve my Japanese until the live audition where we were playing “Werewolf” against each other to make it to the final 13 members.
My contract with that agency ended the following winter and because my partner had doubts in our relationship, he contacted my manager and told him I would resign. I never had a say in this personally and I asked to stay in the group a little longer, but I ultimately had to give up.
We broke up later on, there was a lot of wrong things that were borderline abuse happening to me and it only got fueled by the messages and harassment he had received online from people on forums in the West.
It hit me the hardest when I realized that someone I had trusted for a very long time chose what other people thought of me over the partner he proposed to.
I entered a very dark and bad part of my life in 2017, and without a doubt, it was the worst year of my life so far. I don’t want to talk too much about it, but I was used for profit very badly and lost my remaining friends in Tokyo, and almost all work due to one person I let in my life to wreck it.
The only thing that let me hold on to during that time was making my album, and I might not have lived through it if it wasn’t for making that record. I know this sounds dark and over-the-top, but it’s true.
During that time D. had moved to Japan and I first noticed when I found myself uninvited to a party I had an invitation to for months and looking forward to. I found myself unfollowed by friends and people in the community who had recently posted pictures or videos with her, and I fell under the suspicion that she had something to do with that.
While I had been a regular at beauty and fashion schools to model for students, I found myself with fewer and fewer offers, I was getting blocked or unfollowed by more and more people and grew paranoid to even go outside. I don’t want to give this too much of a timeframe since I don’t want this to turn into a witch hunt she-said-she-said scenario.
But I lost most connections and was afraid to go to events by myself, in fear of more “leeching off of people for fame” type of messages. I also lost some of my long-term friends I’ve had since UK times due to the same thing. Most of them still don’t talk to me.
D. had won. And I still see her posting with newer people I just started following in the Tokyo area, then either find myself unfollowed or the newer people leaving the country. I would never assume that D. has something to do with their career dreams crashing, Japan is a hard place to stay at, but I do wonder if she is happy where she is now.
^ Performance in Shinjuku 2017
I ultimately left Japan in December, shortly after the release and moved back in with my parents. I had left injured and with barely anything on me. I had given my bird Q back to the bird café I had adopted him from because I didn’t want to be so selfish to take him with me and put him through months of quarantine just so I could “keep” him. I was able to rescue another bird of the same species that same winter from a breeder who was shutting down and wanted to “get rid” of all his remaining birds. Thus Ollie entered my life.
Around the same time, I felt at my lowest and had to force myself to go through forums and hate sites to make sure nothing too personal was being twisted in regards to me leaving. Of course, there was, and I am still speculating on who and how and why certain rumors started, but I don’t feel like they matter to me now.
^ Paperplanes Tour 2017
If you were expecting some vile drama or people breaking my kneecaps backstage you were probably disappointed by my story, but this is one of the reasons I have left this corner of the internet and don’t have the intention to ever return.
I recently got asked whether I want to continue doing dance covers after I have fully healed from my recent foot surgery, the answer, in short, is: no.
Even though I do still enjoy idol music and support the groups I like in Japan and the West, I don’t feel like going back through these chapters of my life and putting myself on stage when I always have to think about the negative side of things. I do still dance, but I don’t want to get hurt by doing what I enjoy anymore. The rumors will always outweigh the truth in my eyes and reclaiming my private life again is something I am very proud of and really enjoy at this point.
YouTube and the recent Copyright Directive already made it pretty much impossible to use music with my dances that aren’t my own and stepping away from making cutesie music for the sake of being honest with myself in my lyrics pretty much locked me out of participating in this subculture for good.
I do still enjoy J-fashion, though I could probably write another essay about all the bad stuff that came out of me wearing Lolita Fashion on a daily basis for years.
I wasn’t really happy during a big part of my life in Japan and I do feel like it has to do with the way a lot of people in the West idolize the culture and what they think Japan is. There is a pink-goggle-mentality that I don’t see fading in this part of the internet, where it’s okay to absolutely wreck the self-esteem of young girls just for participating in it. I saw it happen with my own eyes and was young and naïve to think people were who they were in their videos and posts.
A lot of the people I followed throughout the years grew out of this and moved on with their lives, but those who stuck around or gained a large amount of following might do anything they can to defend their position. And those who have failed and feel inferior to the ones going can either fade away or try and put down whoever they can to feel accomplished.
I will always be there for everyone looking for concrete advice for moving to Japan or following a career in entertainment as well as I can. If you want to start dancing or singing or dressing up in J-fashion, don’t let my story stop you from doing so, but take it as a warning to grow a thick skin if you chose to go down that road.
As far as I know, a lot of the hate blogs including Jrcach are no longer active now, but if someone gets truly offended by what you do or how you find your way, they will keep coming. But you are not alone. There will always be people on your side and even when you feel like you are completely alone, try reaching out.
I am glad my friends reached out to me after I came back, and listened to my story.
Just be careful who you surround yourself with.
姫沢 • ヒメザワ