Sunday, October 18, 2009

Writers Conferences and the Kyoto Imperial Grounds

Good morning (or for some of you out there, good evening)! My apologies for the switch in blog sites; livejournal told me I was out of space in my account to post pictures and video! I don`t like this site`s layout nearly as much, but if you have any suggestions on how to make it look nicer/easier to read, please let me know and I will fix it!

This weekend I went to two writers` events, a meeting in Osaka and a conference in Kyoto! There were only four of us at the English Writers and Readers club meeting in Osaka, but I feel it was very productive. They tore apart (figuratively) my story “Tapestry of Time,” but now I know how to make it better! I hope to be finished with the rewrites by the end of this week. With a church family and solid critique group and tons of international friends, what more could I ask for? Japan could very easily become a long-term home. If only I didn`t miss my family so much! Skype helps with that a lot, though. Now that I have home internet up and running properly, I can talk to my family and see them at least once a week! I talked to my mom for two hours on Saturday morning and got to see my cat, Cuddles! I don`t have a digital photo of him on hand, but I`ll add one soon.

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 supposed to go with a British girl named Katie, but she slept through her alarm (who could blame her; I asked her to get up at 7:30), so I ended up going by myself. I missed the first session on publishing in Japan, but I talked to the guy afterwards and was a bit disappointed. Good luck trying to publish an English fiction book in Japan because no publishers here accept them. But I did get an interesting printing contact, so after my books are published in America or wherever I can print them and publicize them in Japan. There is a market here; it`s just not attainable by traditional means.

Here`s a picture of the “Revising Your Novel” seminar. Very useful:

Again, how I just happen to run into the right people at the right time is providence to me. At lunch time I was looking for a place to eat my bento (box lunch) and sat with three ladies outside. I could have picked from a dozen different locations to eat, but I happened to pick that one with those ladies. We got to talking, and one of the three happened to be Suzanne Kamata 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 that`s going to host Alvina Ling, a Senior Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and explained the easiest and cheapest way to get to Yokohama. Sweet!

After the conference, I decided to sightsee in Kyoto for a few hours. I went to the old Imperial Palace grounds with a lady named Susan. She reminded me of my mom because she had surgery on her eyes and coudn`t see well, so I guided her as I sometimes do for my mom late at night. This is Susan:

And this is me in front of the gate to the Emperor’s old palace:

As it started to get dark, Susan had to leave, so I continued exploring by myself. I saw a beautiful park with a gate around it. I examined the gate.

Pretty low. I could jump over that.

What are you thinking? the part of me that`s becoming Japanese demanded. There`s a fence. Maybe it`s there for a good reason!

The obnoxious, rebellious American part of me glanced all around. There`s no one here. No one will know if I take a quick peek.

Don`t do it!

Too late. I`d already stuck one leg over the fence.

Bark, bark, bark!

Oh, no, what`s that?

I told you not to hop the fence!

My leg still draped awkwardly over the bamboo bars, I jerked my head around. Oh. Just an overactive long-haired wiener dog.  The owner was looking from it to me and patting it gently. “Daijobu, daijobu” he was saying.

Since “daijobu” literally translates to “it`s okay,” I took that as my permission. I hopped the fence.

And got this awesome picture!

That`s right, L.J. Popp takes you where no other non-Japanese person has ever gone before! Whether or not it`s smart.

I was hoping to see flowers around the palace, but they were all out of season. Getting to see an ancient park built in 794 AD was pretty cool in and of itself. I kept looking at the trees and forest paths wondering, did a pair of famous Samurai duel here? Did a geisha walk through these ancient trees with her secret royal lover, gazing at the gorgeous changing leaves as I now did? All the plaques were in Japanese so I had no way of knowing, but it was almost more fun that way, getting to make up my own fantasies about the place.

As I was heading back to the subway, I happened to run into a woman who spoke pretty good English, and, as always seems to occur in such circumstances, we “got to talking.” She was studying Portuguese, and again I was amazed at how close it was to Spanish. Whenever we couldn`t understand something the other said in English or Japanese, we would revert to Spanish and Portuguese, and I could always understand her and she could understand me, though the verb conjugations and noun endings were a bit different. She told me quite boldly and out of nowhere that she was a Christian, and when I told her I was too, she got very excited and decided to guide me to the subway. She told me the story of how she got kidney cancer and how the doctors said she would die. But everyone in her church prayed for her and she was miraculously healed. She started to cry from happiness and we hugged for awhile. I could tell we`d both been needing a hug for some time. I asked her to tell her story to as many people as she could, and to please pray for the lady at my church who has cancer. I always get so encouraged when I meet people like that.

So I got the subway about 6:00 and got to Tsuge around 7:30. From there my Brazilian friend Fabio (remember Fabio from last week?) picked me up and dropped me off at my apartment. Yea! I have really good friends.

And this was my dinner:

I wanted to include a picture because the eggs are so tiny. I think they`re quail eggs, or else they come from a really small chicken. They`re like a dollar twenty for ten, which is equivalent to about three or four regular chicken eggs. I get them because they last longer than regular eggs and I can actually finish them. If I get half a dozen regular, two go bad before I can eat them. I like my eggs raw over rice and vegetables. That`s how the Japanese do it. It`s supposedly really healthy.

And last but not least, one more video of the starlight parade from Monday. Who can resist Cinderella and silver birds?

Prayer requests for this week: Thanksgiving for that lady who was healed! And for great, loving, supportive, communities and friends. But also, I got an email from a friend in Tulsa back home telling me that the senior pastor of Victory Christian Center and a founder of over 903 Bible college campuses all over the world, has been diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. Please pray for him.

Until next time, keep reading and keep praying,
L.J. Popp

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