Rob Weston (Nara-ken, 2002-04), author of the one-of-a-kind children’s novel Zorgamazoo, continues his uniquely rhyming ways. In February, he published Prince Puggly of the Spiff and the Kingdom of Spud. And in November he will be publishing a phosphorescent children’s book–The Creature Department.
About Prince Puggly:
Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff is the story of Puggly, a commoner chosen to be the prince—not the king, definitely not the king—of the extremely unfashionable Kingdom of Spud.
The newly-crowned Puggly is surprised to receive an invite to a party in the kingdom next door, the painfully chic Kingdom of Spiff. When Puggly shows up in plaid trousers and a polka-dot cape, the stylish Spiffians are not amused—especially when when it turns out Puggly’s invite is a forgery.
But hark! All is not lost. Puggly soon discovers an unexpected ally in Francesca, the bookish Princess of Spiff. Together, the two friends set out to teach the Spiffs an absurd lesson in style…
For more info, go to: http://robertpaulweston.com/
Gemma Vidal (Okayama-ken, 2010-12) is a recently returned JET seeking work in licensing/merchandising (if it’s within the publishing industry, even better!). You can usually find her in her little web spaces Gem in the Rough and Peachy Keen (about her JET adventures) or training with San Jose Taiko. If you know of any authors/aspiring writers you’d like to see featured in JET Alum Author Beat, just contact Gemma at gem.vidal [at] gmail.com.
Thanks to Michael Gervais (2000-03) for notifying The Author Beat!
The Author Beat would like to introduce R. Michael Burns (Saitama-ken, 2000-03) to the stable of JET alumni authors! Michael was an ALT in Fukaya, Saitama and worked for the American Language School in Moriya, Ibaraki for a year and a half after his time on JET. He is currently a high school English teacher in Florida where he sponsors a creative writing workshop and a Japanese Pop Culture Club.
Interested in mythical stories set in medieval Japan? Michael’s Hokage series — “Shadows from Firelight”, “Demon-Fang”, and the newly published “Shadows and Hellfire” are available at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. The series follows Hokage, a samurai and his kitsune companion, Sasa. I read “Shadows from Firelight”, the first in the series and I enjoyed it a lot! Although it’s short, it’s packed with magic and action that made me want to read more. I’ll definitely be checking out the rest.
If horror is more up your alley (alas not for me), “The River Child” is one of the stories compiled in the anthology Horror Library III. The tale follows a schizophrenic homeless man who thinks a kappa is killing people around him. Another short story, “The Door, the Lock, the Key” was recently re-published in the anthology An Uncommon Collection. Windwalkers is Michael’s first full-length published novel and it is a horror tale set in a fictional town in Minnesota. Here’s a summary:
When a nightmarish blizzard drives college students Nick Bookman and Robin Kelley to take shelter in a small-town Minnesota church, they are forced to confront the intimate secret that is tearing their friendship apart. The appearance of another storm refugee, Alicia Morgan, an attractive high school senior and self-described witch, arouses Nick’s interest and threatens to strain the old friends’ relationship past the shattering point.
Then one of the men trapped in the church disappears in the deep of the night, and his young daughter stumbles in from the storm babbling about monsters. Only Alicia recognizes the creature from the child’s tale for what it must be — a wendigo, an ancient spirit that embodies the hunger for human flesh.
Soon there’s no doubt — the windwalkers are on the hunt again, and the refugees discover that they must fight not only the menace that haunts the storm, but their own darkest desires. If they cannot control their hungers, their hungers will consume them — and they shall become wendigoes themselves. Only the strongest hearts among the strange band of storm refugees have any hope of surviving the long blizzard night…
You can purchase the book on Amazon.
If you would like more information on Michael’s works, drop by his website www.rmichaelburns.com. Welcome to the Author Beat Michael!
Gemma Vidal (Okayama-ken, 2010-12) is a recently returned JET seeking work in product licensing and copyright (if it’s within the publishing industry, even better!). You can usually find her in her little web spaces Gem in the Rough and Peachy Keen (her JET adventures) or training with San Jose Taiko. If you know of any authors/aspiring writers you’d like to see featured in JET Alum Author Beat, just contact Gemma at gem.vidal [at] gmail.com.
- It’s less than a month until Robert Weston’s (Nara-ken, 2002-04) release of his new book, Prince Puggly of the Spiff and the Kingdom of Spud, and to mark the countdown he posted some of the artwork for the book. Victor Rivas is also behind the illustrations of Robert’s previous book, Zorgamazoo. Speaking of Zorgamazoo, it seems like we might be seeing this on the big screen! By the producers of Shrek no less! Congratulations on the film option Robert!
- What’s going on in the Japanese pop culture arena? Take a look at Roland Kelt’s (Osaka-shi, 1998-99) blog on his brief picture post on Japan’s Comiket, the mecca of all things self-published. Looking at his website made me realize that it was Hayao Miyazaki’s 72nd birthday this month. Shame on me, I know.
- Ari Kaplan, JET Alumni and author of Reinventing Professional Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace, recently had his book translated into Japanese, which is under the title ハスラー プロフェッショナルたちの革新 . The translated book can be found at the publisher’s website. Here is what Ari had to say about his book being translated:
The publication of the Japanese edition offered me the opportunity to express my gratitude for the remarkable experience I had almost two decades ago. I dedicated this version to the Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education, Kobe Kohoku High School (where I taught), and the head of the English department at my school, among others.
Until next time JET alumni!
Gemma Vidal (Okayama-ken, 2010-12) is a recently returned JET seeking work in licensing/merchandising (if it’s within the publishing industry, even better!). You can usually find her in her little web spaces Gem in the Rough and Peachy Keen (her JET adventures) or training with San Jose Taiko. If you know of any authors/aspiring writers you’d like to see featured in JET Alum Author Beat, just contact Gemma at gem.vidal [at] gmail.com. She would also like to express her deepest condolences to the community of Newtown, Connecticut.
- Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica wrote a special article for The Japan Times where he interviewed Pete Townshend, guitarist of The Who and discussed UK/Japan post-WWII similarities and Mr. Townshend’s recent memoir, “Who I Am”. You can find the article here. Roland Kelts also posted an interesting article on the possible decline of the pop culture phenomenon “Japan Cool”. That article can be found here at The Christian Science Monitor.
- If you’re looking for some light entertainment, Young Adult book Guardian of the Dead’s New Zealand author Karen Healey self-published a collection of essays titled Teen Movie Times. In this collection she muses on teen movie “classics” such as Bring it On and Clueless. Who knows, maybe one of these movies can be used in one of your lessons?
Gemma Vidal (Okayama-ken, 2010-12) is a recently returned JET seeking work in licensing/merchandising (if it’s within the publishing industry, even better!). You can usually find her in her little web spaces Gem in the Rough and Peachy Keen (her JET adventures) or training with San Jose Taiko. If you know of any authors/aspiring writers you’d like to see featured in JET Alum Author Beat, just contact Gemma at gem.vidal [at] gmail.com
- Congratulations are in order to Will Ferguson (Nagasaki-ken, 1991-94), author of Hitching Rides With the Buddha (f/k/a The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Japan), who was awarded the esteemed 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel 419. You can check out the announcement on the Scotiabank Giller Prize website and read more about his novel and other works on Will’s own website. Congratulations again, Will!
- What better way to warm up from the cold weather than a cup of sake! If you’re a fan of sake and live in Japan, check out John Gauntner’s (author of The Sake Handbook) annual Sake Professional Course 2013. It is a 5-day educational course which includes classroom sessions and visiting sake breweries in the Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe area. For more information about the schedule and registration, please visit the SPCJapan website. You can also download a free version of Sake: The Least You Need To Know, a quick start guide to sake here
- Suzanne Kamata (Tokushima-ken, 1998-90), author of Losing Kei and fiction editor of Literary Mama announced that her latest Young Adult novel, Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible will be published by GemmaMedia (cool name) in May 2013! Gadget Girl follows the life of 14-year old Aiko Cassidy and her dream to become a manga artist. The story won the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in Fiction. You can check out the book on her website or through Amazon, Powells, and Indiebound.
- Japanamerica’s Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99) will lead a presentation titled, “Japan’s New Anti-Piracy Law and the Online Media Debate” with media lawyer David B. Hoppe and music journalist Steve McClure on November 14th.
- Attention NY residents! James Kennedy (Nara-ken, 2004-06), author of The Order of Odd-Fish is holding a signing on November 27th at the Pittsford Barnes & Noble in Rochester at 7PM and presenting new material on November 28th at Writers and Books (also in Rochester with a $5 fee). Details can be found on James’ website and this site for the November 28th event. Go and show your support!
- Want a chance to win a free book written by one of our own? Benjamin Martin (Okinawa-ken, 2008-Present), publisher of the More Things Japanese blog is giving away two personalized copies of his new book, Samurai Awakenings which was just released last month! The giveaway ends on November 30th, so go to Goodreads and sign up! You can read JETwit’s own brief interview with Benjamin about his book.
“In a universe torn by war, two governments vie for power: the elemental Kingdom and the telepathic Hierarchy. Hierarchy women with animal bonds think nothing of sacrificing their beasts’ lives to protect themselves. Except sixteen-year-old Renagada. The bond with her carrion-eater bird Acha is two-sided, and she knows his mind as much as he knows hers. When Rena overhears her parents plotting to kill Acha because of superstition, she must leave her fiancé and home of sheltered luxury to flee with Acha into the desert. Peril awaits them at every turn, and someone is tracking them…”
And that’s all for this round of the Author Beat!
Benjamin Martin is a fifth-year JET ALT in Okinawa Prefecture. He spent three years on Kitadaito Island, a place of 12 sq km and 550 people before moving across the prefecture to another island called Kumejima. His debut novel Samurai Awakening is out now on online retailers and hits bookstores October 10, 2012. Benjamin competes in Okinawan Sumo, is co-host of FM Kumejima’s weekly Haisai English radio program, writes the blog More Things Japanese and serves as an occasional plaything for elementary school students.
About Samurai Awakening and Benjamin Martin
Samurai Awakening is a Young Adult fantasy that takes place in Japan. I began writing it as a way to bring aspects of Japanese culture to young westernersas a compliment to what we do on JET. Overall, it’s a fun read with aspects of Japanese mythology derived from The Kojiki and a healthy dose of real Japan as seen during my time teaching kindergarten through junior high. Here’s the official description:
David Matthews is having a particularly bad day, after an especially bad month. His first weeks as an exchange student in Japan have left him homesick and misunderstood by nearly everyone around him, even his host family! Beaten down by a month of loneliness and bullies at school, a fateful invitation to the local Shinto shrine sends David on a path no foreigner has experienced before.
After awakening with a newfound ability to speak Japanese, David learns the members of the Matsumoto family are far more than just traditional sword smiths. They are the keepers of ancient secrets, and a task set upon them by the first Emperor- to train new Jitsugen Samurai, protectors of Japan.
When more strange things begin happening to David, he discovers his future is tied to a Japanese god within him, and that to be a Jitsugen Samurai holds consequences he may not survive. With his new family, friends, and a reluctant ally, David must fight against dangers far closer than any of them realize. As students disappear, David must overcome his past, and accept a new and uncertain future in time to stop the lurking darkness threatening Japan.Why Write?
I started writing as a way to share my experience on JET. My photography and writing skills have grown in tandem since I began my blog More Things Japanese in 2010. I had read Sir Basil Hall Chamberlain’s Things Japanese at the University of Arizona, and wanted to recreate it for today. It became a way to share the unique aspects of Japan I see every day with the world.
The two projects complement each other. The blog lets me focus on non-fiction without having to worry about huge amounts of research. I can simply share what I see, while my novels provide a chance to explore the question, “What if The Kojiki is more than mythology?”
JET has been an amazing experience, and writing gives me a chance to give back and continue to promote the ideals of cultural exchange. I left the US for Japan with a degree in Business and an interest in Japan. Now I have found just how amazing this country can be, and learned a lot about myself I had not known before.
Join the Awakening.
Enter to win a free copy of Samurai Awakening. http://morethingsjapanese.com/samurai-awakening-is-here/ Contest ends 10/10/2012. Alternately you can support my blog and novel by purchasing a copy from your favorite bookstore or online vendor. Thank you!
JET alum Nicholas Klar’s (Niigata-ken, Omi-machi (now Itoigawa-shi), 1995-97) My Mother is a Tractor: A Life in Rural Japan, originally published in 2006, is now available for free on Kindle for the next couple days. Click here for more details.
Here’s some more info about the book:
Less than six months after chucking in his management job to take up teaching Nicholas Klar finds himself on the JET Program and a plane to Japan – ending up as an ALT teaching English in Omi (now Itoigawa City) in the far reaches of rural Niigata prefecture.
Never one to be taken too seriously he spends two years far beyond the beaten tourist path in often carousing encounters with Elvis impersonators, love hotels, toilets, train schedules, cults, hostess girls, freezing weather, the local garbage-man and postal workers, plus the recording of a bizarre incident where a cow apparently falls out of the sky.
Combining humour, wonder and a good deal of eclectic research the author veritably crams his pages chock-full of tales of culture shock, humorous anecdotes and insights, reflections upon his own life and cultural baggage, strange facts, plus cultural incongruities and marvels. He inevitably falls in with a motley crew of acquaintances along the way and revealed are many of the personalities he encounters – both Japanese and foreigners.
My Mother is a Tractor is rollicking, fact-filled ride through the Land of the Rising Sun that will both amuse and inform.
Lars Martinson (Fukuoka-ken 2003-2006), author of the graphic novels Tonoharu: Part Two andTonoharu: Part 1, has just published the Kameoka Diaries Volume 2. This is a follow-up to Kameoka Diaries Volume 1, Lars’ insightful and entertaining (especially to any JETs) e-comic about his return to teaching English, this time in Kameoka, Kyoto.
More info here and below: http://larsmartinson.com/kameokadiaries2-now-available/
In Lars’ words:
When I submitted my first e-comics to Apple, ( The Kameoka Diaries: Volume One and Young Men of a Certain Mind ) it took one month for them to get approved, so I’m surprised & delighted it only took two days this time. But hey, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth!
I’ll write more about the new volume of The Kameoka Diaries soon; I just wanted to get this announcement blog entry out right-away.
So please check it out. And if you enjoy it, please consider writing a review on iBooks, and/or telling your friends, and/or tweeting about it, and/or “liking” it on Facebook. Thanks a bunch!
JETwit Note: I just downloaded a copy onto my iPhone as soon as I saw the announcement. Volume 1 was great, even on an iPhone screen.
Lars Martinson (Fukuoka-ken 2003-2006), author of the graphic novels Tonoharu: Part Two andTonoharu: Part 1, has just just published the latest edition of his new cartoon series called“Kameoka Diaries“ about his return to teaching English, this time in Kameoka, Kyoto.
JET Alum Author Beat is a new feature by Ling Tran (Saga-ken, 2009-11) intended to keep readers informed of what various JET alum authors are up to. Contact Ling at jetwit [at] jetwit.com if you’d like to see something included in upcoming posts. She is also interested in providing exposure for aspiring authors/writers among alumni and current JETs – excerpts and updates are all welcome.
- Suzanne Kamata (Tokushima-ken, 1998-90), author of Losing Kei and fiction editor for Literary Mama, reflects on the recent loss of a dear friend through a post about her first sushi experience on Gaijin Mama (a personal blog). Check it out and give some JET support.
- Sam Baldwin Ono (Fukui-ken, 2004-06) hails from the UK and made a life altering decision when he decided to move to Fukui-ken through the JET Program. The quiet facade of inaka Japan gradually revealed its colorful nature, eventually leading Sam to share stories and insights in For Fukui’s Sake: Two years in rural Japan. Whether for reference (newbie JETs, holla!), nostaliga, or reflection – ESID aside – this book is available electronically. If you want to be notified of its hard copy release, click here. Visit the website For Fukui’s Sake for details. (Fukui t-shirts are also available for purchase.)
- Author of The Order of Odd-Fish James Kennedy (Nara-ken, 2004-06) recently did a Q&A with JQ magazine as he will be curating the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival (Nov. 5 @New York Public Library | Nov. 16 @Harold Washington Library, Chicago). Read here.
- Robert Paul Weston’s (Nara-ken, 2002-04) Zorgamazoo will be honored at the Author Banquet of the California Library Association Conference for a California Young Reader Medal on Nov. 12. Details of the upcoming event are available on Weston’s blog. Congratulations!
- Cartoonist Lars Martinson (Fukuoka-ken, 2003-06) has been busily settling into his new home and schedule in Kameoka, Kyoto. He managed to fit in a brief post after a short hiatus. Eager followers can see how he is doing here - more substantial updates to come!