Oct 27

JET-Popp: Osaka Critique Group and Kyoto Writers’ Conference

Popp, Laura (Mie-ken, 2008-Present) is a current JET who writes fantasy and science fiction for children and young adults, and is an occasional playwright/film maker.  Her short work includes a short story titled “In theShadow Realm” and a documentary she made in Malawi.  To read about her amazing adventures all over Japan, go to her blog at laurajanepopp.livejournal.com. (And check out the Authors/Books section of the JetWit Library for a list of more writers in the JET-o-sphere.)

Hello, everyone!  I`m new to Japan and the JetWit blog, so allow me to introduce myself!  I`m a sci-fi/fantasy young adult writer from Oklahoma in the U.S.  I love to travel, as you can probably tell from my blog, so most of my posts will be about my wonderful adventures all over Asia and any writing news I learn about.

This week I`ll be reporting on two writers` events I attended last weekend,  a critique meeting in Osaka and a conference in Kyoto! For those of you who don`t know, there is an excellent group called English Writers and Readers that meets every Saturday in Osaka from 2:30 to however long people want to stay.  It’s not just for writers; if you love to read there is also a book club and various other discussion boards and events.  But if you are a writer, of any genre or form, you can email your work to group members and have it critiqued the following Saturday.  For me it was very productive. They tore apart (figuratively) my story “Tapestry of Time,” but now I know how to make it better.  I will warn you that the turnout for meetings tends to be very low (there were only four of us), so if it`s quite a trek for you, I suggest getting a general idea of how many will be there before you go all that way.

One of the girls in the writers` club, Rianna, was really sweet and let me stay with her Saturday night. On Sunday morning, I headed off to the writers’ conference in Kyoto. I was a little disappointed.  Good luck trying to publish an English fiction book in Japan, they said, because no publishers here accept them. There are English printers here, however, and a strong potential market of foreign readers.  So if you have a book already published elsewhere and would like to promote it in Japan, there are several resources available to you, including Printed Matter Press.  Here is their website: http://www.printedmatterpress.com/.   And of course, if you want to go the self-publishing route, these guys can help with that too.

Other than that, the “Revising Your Novel” seminar, presented by Holly Thompson, was most helpful.   Her basic strategy was to systematically go through your novel and create a detailed spreadsheet of necessary revisions in character, setting, theme, etc. and mark these various “threads” wherever they appear with colored sticky notes.  Then, read through the novel with only one of these threads in mind.  That way you can stay focused and not get bogged down by the sheer size of the project.  Here’s a picture of her session:

During lunch, I happened to run into the right people at the right time. I was looking for a place to eat my bento and sat with three ladies outside.  We got to talking, and one of the three happened to be Suzanne Kamata (Tokushima-ken, 1988-90) who I`d been trying to get a hold of for some time. She’s an American published young adult writer living in Japan who’s involved in the SCBWI (Society of Children`s Book Writers and Illustrators). She invited me to go to their major conference in Yokohama on November 28th that`s going to host Alvina Ling, a Senior Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.  What an amazing opportunity!  For those who are interested, the registration deadline is November 4th.  You can sign up at their website, http://www.scbwi.jp/.

To hear more about the Kyoto conference and my other adventures in Japan, visit my full blog at laurajanepopp.livejournal.com!

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