Mar 6

Posted by Tom Baker

The Japan Writers Conference is now looking for writers to give presentations at its 2024 event, to be held on the weekend of Nov. 2-3 in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture.

The official announcement appears below, and you can find more details at the JWC website.

All published writers, translators, editors, agents and publishers are welcome to submit proposals. Both new presenters and those who have presented at past conferences are welcome to submit. JETs who have given JWC presentations in the past include Suzanne Kamata, Charles Kowalski, Michael Frazier, Patrick Murphrey, Suzan Laura Sullivan, myself and many more.

When planning your JWC proposal, keep your audience in mind. Your listeners will be writers and others (translators, editors, publishers, and agents) concerned with creating publishable writing.

As in previous conferences, this year there will be three presentation rooms for poetry, fiction/nonfiction, and other topics (publishing, marketing, editing, translating, technical, sharing your writing communities, residences, workshops, or anything that applies to all genres).

Dec 18

Posted by Tom Baker

The Japan Writers Conference, a free annual event that always attracts many current and former JETs in Japan’s English-language writing community, is held in a different part of the country every year.

The 2024 host city has just been announced: Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture.

The 2024 JWC will be held on the first weekend in November, but it’s not too soon to start thinking about participating now — especially if you are a writer who might like to give a presentation.

For details, visit the Japan Writers Conference website, scan JETwit for past posts in the category of “Japan Writers Conference,” or watch the video recap of the 2023 JWC below. It features JET alumni Suzanne Kamata, Charles Kowalski, Patrick Murphrey and yours truly.

Sep 20

JET alum and travel writer Patrick Murphrey to speak at Japan Writers Conference in Nagoya

Posted by Tom Baker

JET alum Patrick Murphrey will give a presentation on his experiences as a published writer — particularly with regard to travel writing — at this year’s Japan Writer’s Conference. The conference, which is free, will take place in Nagoya on Oct. 14-15.

Here’s the official description of his talk:

Patrick Murphrey
Pleasure Combined with Publishing: How I Became a Travel Writer and Ideas that Apply to All Publishing
Short Lecture with Q&A

While I traveled extensively since high school, I started travel writing five years ago. I started writing about Nagano, where I reside, and have since expanded the travel writing to include all of Japan and other countries. With this presentation, I reflect on my experiences in hopes of offering guidance to those who have an interest in travel writing. On top of that, many of my experiences can apply to publishing in general. Therefore, the tips apply not only to potential travel writers but anyone who hopes to publish any type of articles or books. It gives insight into the marketing of your works as I explain my successes and how my writing career has developed. This
presentation provides advice and inspiration. Thank you for attending.

Patrick Murphrey is a travel writer. He has published articles in magazines, newspapers, and on the internet like Tokyo Weekender, The Japan Times, Reader’s Digest. and Matcha Travel. He currently resides in Nagano and started writing five years ago after he realized the potential of the prefecture.

Sep 12

Posted by Tom Baker

JET alum and novelist Charles Kowalski will give a presentation on worldbuilding in fiction at this year’s Japan Writer’s Conference. The conference, which is free, will take place in Nagoya on Oct. 14-15.

Here’s the official description of his talk:

Charles Kowalski
The Worldbuilder’s Toolbox
Short Lecture with Q&A

Creating an entirely new world is such a daunting task that even gods have been known to wash away their mistakes and start over. Fortunately, we mortals now have tools at our disposal that make some aspects of the worldbuilder’s craft almost as easy as saying, “Let there be light!” This workshop will introduce basic techniques, handy reference books, and online tools to help with the “Four L’s” of worldbuilding: Lore (creating foundational myths and stories), Land (mapping your world), Life (designing cultures and creatures), and Language (giving your world a distinctive sound, whether you want a simple naming language or Tolkien-level complexity).

Charles Kowalski is the author of the award-winning thriller MIND VIRUS, the political/espionage thriller THE DEVIL’S SON, the historical fantasy SIMON GREY AND THE MARCH OF A HUNDRED GHOSTS, and several short stories. When not writing, he teaches at the Department of Cultural and Social Studies at Tokai University.

Sep 9

Posted by Tom Baker

JET alum Susan Laura Sullivan will be part of a troika of writers discussing the concept of hybridity at this year’s Japan Writer’s conference. The conference, which is free, will take place in Nagoya on Oct. 14-15.

Here’s the official description of her presentation:

Jane Joritz-Nakagawa, Susan Laura Sullivan, & Marcus Grandon
Collisions, Collages, Collaborations: Using Hybridity Effectively in Your Writing
Panel Discussion

This session will focus on how to employ the concept of hybridity to make fiction, memoir, essay, journalistic writing, poetry, or cross-genre work more exciting for its audience. Examples will be given using excerpts from various published writers, including but not limited to works of the presenters. Things that can be added to a work include visuals, quotations, work in a different genre or language, sound, metaphor, musicality, any type of found work, dialogues, and more. This session is intended to benefit any writer working in any genre or style at any level.

Jane Joritz-Nakagawa has lived in Japan since 1989. Currently she lives in Hamamatsu. She is working on her eleventh full length poetry collection, a novel, short stories and essays. She teaches part time at Shizuoka University but frequents Yatsugatake (Minami maki mura, Nagano) whenever possible.

Susan Laura Sullivan publishes across all genres. Co-editor and contributor to the award-winning Women of a Certain Age (Fremantle Press), she was shortlisted for the 2012 TAG Hungerford prize. Her most recent poetry will appear in Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies in the near future. She resides in Japan.

Marcus Grandon is a multimedia artist, writer, musician, researcher, and educator. His work has been exhibited internationally and won awards in multiple genres. He’s a Teaching Fellow at the University of Birmingham, UK, and a university instructor in Japan. Marcus’ artwork is in private collections of people around the world. Marcus presents at conferences internationally and travels frequently. He makes his home in Shizuoka City, Japan.

Sep 6

JET poet Warren Decker in lineup for Isobar Press 10th anniversary event

Posted by Tom Baker

JET alum and poet Warren Decker will be in the lineup at an Oct. 14 event in Nagoya to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Isobar Press. He and other poets will read from and discuss their work as part of this year’s Japan Writers Conference. The conference, which is free, will take place in Nagoya on Oct. 14-15.

Here’s the official description of the Isobar event:

Isobar Press: Tenth Anniversary Reading

The first publication from Isobar Press, a small press specialising in English-language poetry and poetic translation from Japan, was a book by founder Paul Rossiter, From the Japanese; it was published on 14 October 2013. Ten years and forty-five books later, on 14 October 2023, eight poets and translators published by Isobar, each with their own strikingly different style, gather from Miyazaki, Kobe, Osaka, Shizuoka, Tsukuba and Tokyo to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the press. Paul Rossiter will speak briefly about the history of the press and the motivation behind it, and each author will briefly introduce and read from their work. We hope you will join us for this celebratory reading!

Paul Rossiter has published eleven books of poetry since 1995. After retiring from teaching at the University of Tokyo, he founded Isobar Press, which specialises in publishing English-language poetry from Japan, and English translations of modernist and contemporary Japanese poetry. More information can be found at:

For biographies of the individual readers, please see their author pages on the Isobar Press website:
Janine Beichman:
Yoko Danno:
Warren Decker:
Gregory Dunne:
Jane Joritz Nakagawa:
Philip Rowland:
Eric Selland:
Christopher Simons:

Aug 28

Posted by Tom Baker

JET alum and prolific author Suzanne Kamata will discuss the art of blurbing — how to get good blurbs for one’s own books and how to write them for others’ — at this year’s Japan Writers Conference. The conference, which is free, will take place in Nagoya on Oct. 14-15.

Here’s the official description of her talk:

Suzanne Kamata
“This is the Best Book I’ve Ever Read”: Some Thoughts on Endorsements
Short Lecture with Q&A
Keywords: nonfiction, fiction, endorsements, blurbs, promotion, career

Endorsements — typically words of praise from an established author — are often deemed an essential marketing tool. However, well-known authors are often besieged with requests for such blurbs, and beginning authors may find approaching them to be intimidating. In this session, I will discuss the importance — or lack thereof — of blurbs, how to get them, how to use them, and how to write them, using examples from my own experiences and those of others.

Suzanne Kamata is the author of editor of many books including, most recently, the poetry collection Waiting (Kelsay Books, 2022), the IPPY-award-winning novel The Baseball Widow (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2021), the middle grade novel, Pop Flies, Robo-pets and Other Disasters (One Elm Books, 2020), and the Hi-Lo novel romantic comedy Bake Sale (Gemma Open Door, 2022). She is an associate professor at Naruto University of Education.

Feb 17

Posted by Tom Baker (Chiba, 1989-91)

The Japan Writers Conference, a free annual event for English-language writers of all types, is looking for published writers to give presentations on the art and/or business of writing. Many JWC presenters in past years have been JETS. You can read about some of them in the JETwit archives.

If you have insights, wisdom or techniques to share, send them a proposal by June 1. Here’s the official announcement:

Nov 20

2022 Japan Writers Conference on video and online

Posted by Tom Baker

When the 2022 Japan Writers Conference took place at Tokai University last month, hosted by novelist and JET alum Charles Kowalski, it was the first time for the event to be held in person since before the pandemic. Even so, there were still a few online sessions. Some of the sessions were recorded for posterity. (And you, dear reader, are posterity.)

Below, you can watch screenwriter and UCLA Prof. Steven Wolfson describe some of the elements of a successful screenplay. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can see many more at the JWC YouTube channel.

Oct 1

Posted by Tom Baker

JET alum and prolific author and editor of fiction and nonfiction Suzanne Kamata will host a panel discussion on how the pandemic has changed the writing life and the publishing world at this year’s Japan Writers Conference. The conference, which is free, will take place in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Oct. 15-16, but participants must sign up by Oct. 8.

Here’s the official description of her panel’s presentation:

Suzanne Kamata
Clara Kiyoko Kumagai, Kristin Osani, Clarissa Goenawan, Sara Fujimura
Pivot: Writing for a Post-Pandemic World
Panel Discussion

How do you keep going when the world, the publishing landscape, and YOU have had major paradigm shifts since 2020? Multi-published authors Sara Fujimura, Clarissa Goenawan, Suzanne Kamata, Clara Kiyoko Kumagai, and Kristin Osani discuss the limitations and growth opportunities that come with this new post-pandemic reality.

Are you waiting for the publishing world to “go back to normal?” The bad news: It’s not. Supply chain woes, soaring material costs, editorial burnout, and continued unrest in the world have made traditional publishing harder to break into and even harder to sustain a career. Savvy authors pivot. Five multi-published, award-winning, globally-minded authors give a state-of-the-industry report from their region of the world. They identify specific challenges they’ve had in the last two years, including launching new books during a pandemic (One out of 10 stars. Highly DON’T recommend!). They also offer tips and techniques on how to keep your writing career rolling when it seems the world is constantly conspiring against you.

American Suzanne Kamata has lived in Shikoku for over 30 years. During the pandemic, she published an award-winning middle grade novel, Pop Flies, Robo-pets and Other Disasters; The Baseball Widow, a novel for adults, and Waiting, her poetry debut. She is an associate professor at Naruto University of Education.

Clarissa Goenawan (she/her) is an Indonesian-born Singaporean writer and translator. Her award-winning short stories have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in Singapore, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Italy, the UK, and the US. Rainbirds, her debut novel, has been published in eleven different languages. Her second novel, The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida, came out in 2020. Watersong is her third novel.

Kristin Osani (she/her) is a queer fantasy writer who lives in Kyoto, where she works as a freelance Japanese-to-English video game translator when she’s not wordsmithing, working on nerdy cross-stitching, or cuddling her two cats (three if you include her husband). She has translated games like The Kids We Were, Voice of Cards, and Triangle Strategy. Her original fiction has appeared in FlashPoint SF, the Arcanist, and Ghost Orchid Press’s Beyond the Veil: Supernatural Tales of Queer Love anthology.

Clara Kumagai is from Ireland, Canada and Japan. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in publications such as The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, Banshee, Room, Cicada, and The Kyoto Journal, among others. Her children’s story, A Girl Named Indigo, was translated and published in Japanese with the title Indigo wo sagashite (Shogakukan, 2020). Her young adult novel, Catfish Rolling, is forthcoming in 2023. She currently lives and works in Tokyo.

Sara Fujimura is a hybrid author of four award-winning young adult books: Tanabata Wish, Breathe, Every Reason We Shouldn’t (Tor Teen), and Faking Reality (Tor Teen). She is represented by Ann Rose of the Prospect Agency. Every Reason We Shouldn’t was named an NPR Best Book of 2020.

Sep 26

Poet Michael Frazier to address death and hope at Japan Writers Conference

Posted by Tom Baker

JET alum and acclaimed poet Michael Frazier, whose work has appeared in the anthology Umoja, will hold a workshop at this year’s Japan Writers Conference.

Here’s the official description of his presentation:

Michael Frazier
O Death, Where is Your Sting?: A Poetics of Hope!
Craft Workshop

Turn on the news and it is inevitable to see a news broadcast about someone dying. By a virus, a health condition, a natural disaster, or a twisted mind with a weapon. This generative workshop is a poetics on death and grappling with the fear death induces by unmasking the demon and realizing our hope.

This is a generative workshop for those interested in writing about and through the reality of being ephemeral beings in a world that is posed against our fragile lives. We will read poems anticipating, about, and responding to death. Some poets may include Danez Smith, Safia Elhillo, Li Young Lee, Max Ritvo, Mary Oliver, and others. We will read anti-eulogies, psalms, palindromes, and other poems that resist the inevitable. We will understand how they write around and through the concept of dying, with particular interest in how hope is the hinge of their poetry. We will write our own poems that face our fears.

Michael Frazier is a poet and high school teacher living in Kanazawa, Japan. Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets nominated, his poems appear in Poetry Daily, The Offing, RHINO, Tinderbox, Tokyo Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.

Sep 26

Posted by Tom Baker

JET alum Jillian Marshall, author of “Japanthem,” will delve into the nature of memoir in a presentation at the Japan Writers Conference.

Here’s the official description of her presentation:

Jillian Marshall
Reimagining Memoir: Storytelling as Analytical Inquiry
Short Lecture with Q&A online

What lies between the traditional boundaries of non-fiction genres? This presentation examines the analytical possibilities of memoir and storytelling. Bookended by presentation and discussion, we will read a chapter from my new book as a case-study in analytical memoir, learning about Japanese music culture in the process.

This hybrid presentation and group reading introduces new approaches to memoir devised during my time in (and departure from) academia. Following with a brief lecture questioning the limits of non-fiction genre — what does the slippage between memoir and ethnography reveal? — we’ll examine analytical memoir by reading a chapter of my new book, Japanthem: Counter-Cultural Experiences, Cross-Cultural Remixes. Originally written as part of my doctoral thesis in Japanese ethnomusicology, the selected chapter and Japanthem on whole posit memoir and storytelling as colloquial sites of anthropological inquiry (in this case, getting subtly bullied by my Buddhist dance teacher in Akita Prefecture). With the Q and A that follows, I ultimately hope to inspire new possibilities in non-fiction writing and bridge not just the intellectual rigor of academia with the public sphere, but cultural (mis)understandings between Japan, the US, and beyond in the process.

Jillian Marshall, PhD, is a writer, educator, and musician who champions public intellectualism. Her first book, Japanthem: Counter-Cultural Experiences, Cross-Cultural Remixes, debuted in April with Three Rooms Press. Jillian’s other writings have been published by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Cornell University Press, and Music Television.

Sep 19

Posted by Tom Baker

JET alum and author Coffee Quills will speak about newly emerging forms of publishing in a presentation at the Japan Writers Conference.

Here’s the official description of their presentation:

Coffee Quills
Spinning Web Fiction for Fun & Profit
Short Lecture with Q&A
Fiction, Other Genre
Game Writing

Quick discussion of what authors and writers want, going into the pros that web fiction can offer and the pitfalls that are hidden among the opportunities, and showing writers and authors that – in addition to traditional publishing and indie publishing – web fiction can be a 3rd option in their writing career.

Wander deeper into the realms of internet writing and find places where writers can explore the opportunities web fiction offers through serializations (in which a story can be uploaded chapter by chapter even as it is being written) such as Kindle Vella and Radish, or interactive writing with Choice of Games and Tales, in addition to the benefits that free places such as Wattpad, HoneyFeed, and Royal Road offer.

Coffee Quills, of Tokyo, is an embodiment of their slogan Many QuillsMany Genres. They are a game developer with 4thewords, stream daily writing sprints on Twitch, and have indie published three books: Blasted Research, Digital Lights, Spells, Snow, & Sky. They exist on coffee and seafood.

Sep 13

Posted by Tom Baker

Sarah Coomber (Yamaguchi, 1994-1996) is the author of “Under the Same Moon,” a memoir in which she describes moving to Japan in search of a reset in life. One month from now, she will share some of her memoir writing tips in a presentation at the Japan Writers Conference.

Most of this year’s conference will be held in person at the Shonan Campus of Tokai University in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, but some sessions, including Sarah’s, will take place online via Zoom. (Join the conference mailing list to get the Zoom codes.) Her talk is set to begin at 10 a.m. on Oct. 16 (Japan time). Here’s the official description:

Sarah Coomber
Moment by Moment: Demystifying the Writing of a First Memoir
Craft Workshop online
Nonfiction, Other Genre

Telling your story in memoir form can be daunting—you have a lifetime’s worth of experiences to draw from. Where to begin?

Moment by moment.

In this craft workshop, I will share several strategies to help you on your way.

Memoirs, like life, progress moment by moment. The most important thing is not whether your particular story is full of excitement, tragedy or coincidence. What matters is what you bring to the moments in your story—how you view, interpret, reflect on and react to them.

Infusing moments with meaning will help you uncover your larger story. This can occur with sensory explorations, analogies, linked memories, about-ness and more.

I will share what I wish I’d known before writing my first memoir and will coach you through several of my favorite moment-developing strategies.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a scene or observation to explore.

Sarah Coomber is the author of The Same Moon (Camphor Press, 2020), a memoir about two years she spent regrouping in rural Japan after wrecking her Minnesota life. She has worked in public relations and journalism, coaches writing, has degrees in creative writing and journalism, and achieved level four certification in the Seiha School of koto.

Sep 11

Posted by Tom Baker

Tokai University Professor and JET alum Charles Kowalski will be the host of this year’s Japan Writers Conference, at his university’s Shonan Campus in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Oct 15-16.

He is the author of the Japan-based middle-grade fantasy Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts, and the contemporary thrillers Mind Virus and The Devil’s Son. He has won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Award, and has been a finalist for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award, the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association Literary Award, and the Adventure Writers Grandmaster Award.

This year’s Japan Writers Conference will feature approximately 27 different sessions on various aspects of the writing life, one of which will be presented by Charles himself. Here’s the official description:

Charles Kowalski
The Magic of Humor
Craft Workshop
Fiction, Nonfiction

What wizardry lies in writing magical symbols that make anyone who looks at them fall into helpless laughter? Here, we explore ways to infuse writing with laugh-out-loud humor, such as combining divergent situations to make a comic premise, creating comic characters, and running dialogue and narration through “funny filters.”

Of all the ways to make people laugh, one of the hardest is through the written word. This workshop will present several techniques for infusing writing with laugh-out-loud humor, including:

How humor works by subverting expectations and creating new ones
How to combine disparate situations for comic effect
How to run ordinary dialogue and narration through “funny filters”
How to create comic characters using archetypes, quirks, and comical situations

Page Rank