Monday, March 28, 2011

On the creation of a book

I am learning a lot about what goes into putting together an anthology. It's not just slapping a bunch of stories between some covers and calling it a book. There's has to be balance, an internal structure. And one of the most amazing things is reading the work people have sent and being able to see themes developing. Of course we're still reading, still taking submissions, and the shape is not complete. But I'm starting to see the outline.

With that in mind, I'd love to see some more stories (especially stories, but also art) about:
  • Schoolgirls and salarymen and subcultures and modern Japanese pop culture.
  • Japan outside Japan (we have two beautiful submissions that capture the delicate way Japanese culture touches the rest of the world; I would love one more of these set in LA.)
  • Animals -- foxes and catfish and koi and herons and cats.
  • Food. (If someone has a story built around an actual recipe, that would be amazing.)
  • Folklore and legends -- I would love to see some of vibrant characters from Japanese folktale and mythology brought to life in new stories. 
  • Cherry blossoms and origami. ('Nuff said.) 
Some things I would love to see, that we have not seen much of yet, are:
  • Futuristic Japan--robots, cyberpunks, high-tech. (Go ahead, send us that near-future science fiction!)
  • Manga! I know there are some coming our way--but we haven't seen it yet. We would love at least one story in manga.
I think these stories must be out there, and we would love to see them.

(Please do not send stories about the tsunami and the earthquake; we have received so many eloquent, touching stories about the disaster, but if we included them all, this book would read like a dirge when it is meant to be a celebration--a reminder that Japan is still a beautiful country.)

Thank you, everyone, who has already sent us something. It's because of you that this book is going to be beautiful.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Inspiring quote by Barbara Bloom

"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful."
~Barbara Bloom

By submitting your beautiful poetry, art and stories, we're working together to fill those cracks with gold.

Submissions close April 11th!

Statistics: What does the submission pile look like?

The New Sun editors have been hard at work reading through all your wonderful written and hand-crafted work. Thank you so much for your submissions - keep them coming!

You may be wondering what the submission pile looks like... Well, it's looking pretty! The standards are high and there are some wonderfully descriptive and emotive pieces coming through.

We love to read stories/poems and look at art that ignites the senses and paints a vibrant image of the Japanese, their country and their culture. We hate to have to reject a well-crafted piece of work because it dwells too much on recent events or emanates too much negativity, but we must keep to our intended purpose; to celebrate and honour the Japanese with this beautiful anthology.

So what are the statistics so far?

Stories (flash and longer works) : 31%
Poetry (haikus and longer poems) : 53%
Art (drawings, paintings, photography etc) : 11%

Over 50% of submissions are poetry, closely followed by 31% stories and a mere 11% art.

We'd love to see more art work coming in to accompany the beautiful written works in our anthology. Do you have a creation you'd like to share? Do you know any manga enthusiasts who could be informed about this opportunity?

Don't feel as though we no longer want or need stories and poetry - we are after more of all the categories, so keep them coming and keep spreading the word!

The closing date for submissions is the 11th April.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Your Questions Answered

We've got a form on our website where people can ask us questions. I promised to answer on the blog. So here they are!

So first, a bunch of you guys want to know if we take non-fiction.
No, we are collecting fiction and poetry and art. There are some other projects going that are open to non-fiction, especially Write for Tohoku. They are asking for non-fiction from authors in Japan.

Lindsay asked: How many submissions have you received already?
Over a hundred, and that's not counting the ones that have sent document attachments (which we can't open, only art should be attached) or multiple submissions (please wait to hear from us before you send more work).

A lot of people have asked to know more about the project, and the people behind it.
We've got an About page on the website where you can read more about who we are. I'm sorry it took so long getting it up; I didn't really feel like editor bios were the most important information about this project. But now you can read all about us. (Though I have no idea why so many of you want to!)

And finally, James asks do I retain the (C) copyright?
Yes. To be perfectly clear, we are asking for permission to use your work in our ebook and print book. We may also ask that you let us make video or audio adaptations of your work in support of this project, permission for it to be read aloud, etc. But only for things that support the New Sun Rising anthology project. All funds in perpetuity go to the Red Cross. We aren't asking to hold onto the rights to your work or limit reprints.

I hope those are good answers! If you've got any additional questions, you can ask them from the website, post them in the comments here, or shoot me an email. (The address is on our Helping Out page.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Yorker Cover, March 2011

Submission Guidelines: World Poetry Day Edition

For your delight and general edification on World Poetry Day

Our Submission Guidelines

Rendered in unpalatable verse

by the inimitable (and why would you want to?) Frankie Sachs

Please send us a story,
just one, and no more.
Three flash or three poems,
up to five haiku.
Please no attachments,
.doc your virus at the door.
We'll take .jpg of your art,
send lots of manga too.

No tsunamis or radiation,
and please no earthquakes,
Sad is okay, scary is too,
but no more disaster,
we're begging you.
We all have to read it,
and it makes our hearts ache.
(You'll get an answer faster
without weeping breaks.)

We want stories of Japan,
the old and the new.
Write what represents
the country to you.
Subs close on April 11
so send your work soon.


The full guidelines are on our website.

Do not send us poetry like this. I am serious. -Frankie

Tanka, a Photo and a Haiku

This week, for obvious reasons, I decided to turn my hand to writing haiku and tanka.  A challenge which I quickly found fun and somewhat addictive!  I expect I'll be further exploring this form.  So, in honour of World Poetry Day, and with thoughts of Japan never far from my mind, I offer up the following.

inert we watch news
drowning in waves of anguish
’til ideas dawn
first whisper, then shout, a book
galvanized, New Sun Rising

an ancient culture
flows into charity book
see, smell, hear, taste, touch
capture tradition, rejoice
Japanese essence abounds


here in London streets
Japanese cherry blossoms
glimmering moon shared



For World Poetry Day, I thought it would be fun to look at haibun. This is a lesser known form which incorporates haiku and prose. Any discussion of this form should probably start with The Narrow Road to the Deep North and The Narrow Road to the Interior by the Japanese master Matsuo Bashō. It is considered to be one of the most important texts in Japanese literature.

This is a section:

I patched my torn trousers and changed the cord on my bamboo hat. To strengthen my legs for the journey I had moxa burned on my shins. By then I could think of nothing but the moon at Matsushima. When I sold my cottage and moved to Sampū’s villa, to stay until I started on my journey, I hung this poem on a post in my hut:

kusa no to mo
sumikawaru yo zo
hina no ie

even a thatched hut
may change with a new owner
into a doll’s house.

Bashō's hut on Camellia Hill. No. 40 of the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo by Hiroshige (1856-58)

You can find more about Basho and his haibun here.

There are many contemporary writers embracing the form with great success. I found this haibun at Simply haiku and I thought it was quite beautiful.


the smell of the sea
a memory
in black and white

A classic snap. Three of us in deckchairs on the shore of Aberafan beach—Dad in sunglasses framed by my sister and me—and Mammy invisible behind the shutter's click. These are the years when his hair was dark and he could still pick us up and spin us around. When Mammy could run faster than anyone we knew.

They will never be the same again. My father will learn to walk slower, his slippers dragging along the garden path. My mother's heart will grow tired.

But for now the horizon behind us is clear. The sea calmer than I can ever remember, and if I close my eyes I can hear them both laughing when the sea, unexpectedly, licks around our feet.

the old songs
sunlight breaks through
winter rain

~By Lynne Rees

Do you have a journey to tell us about?

World Poetry Day

It's World Poetry Day. Did you know we need your poetry? It would be awesome to get 100 poems about Japan for world poetry day. (That would be enough for a whole other book, right?)

If we do get that many, we'll do something awesome. I don't know what yet, but it'll be awesome. You can make suggestions in the comments if you've got an idea.

I would like to do something awesome, so please send poems.

As a special feature, I am letting the editors out of the submission salt mines long enough to post about poetry and post poems of their own right here on the blog. So check back. We'll be updating with poems periodically.

(As you can see, Vaishali kicked us off with a tidy little haiku!)

My open arms...

She sits by the pavement,
begging for alms
and some thought
with open arms

The farmer looks up,
asks for some rain
and hope
with open arms

A child learns to walk,
asks for a finger
and strength
with open arms

A soldier raises his gun,
asks for guts
and peace
with open arms

Mother bosoms families,
asks for nothing,
simply gives
with open arms

with open arms
I wait for yours…

Monday, March 21, 2011

Only three steps...

a child's drawing
ladder to the sun
only three steps

...this is how goes my favourite Haiku by Scott Metz of the Haiku Foundation. A Haiku is characterised by its sheer simplicity. In as little as 5 syllables (1/3/1)or as many as 17 syllables (5/7/5), one can express and capture myriad emotions, messages, and moments.

Basho, Buson, and Issa, amongst others, are considered as the Masters of this fine art of Japanese poetry.

The Haiku Foundation ( is one of the most informative sites to learn more about Haiku; the Masters and Poets behind all forms of Haiku, be it traditional, urban, or modern.

New Sun Rising honors Haiku as one of Japan’s most revered literary forms and solicits your entries for our book. So let's celebrate Japan, its culture, its people, its art!

And as for my answer to Scott Metz's Haiku:

only three steps
in a journey of miles;
a child’s play

...and I'm on my way!

More Charity Writing Projects!

Wow, yes, okay. I have just heard about Write for Tohoku. My only excuse is that I've had my head down behind the scenes, trying to streamline our submission handling and begging for contributions from some amazing writers, and get the last bits of the site up.

It is so great to see how the literary community is organizing its resources to try and help people. And for Write for Tohoku, this is really close to home; they're in Japan. So, here is what they need:

We are a group of writers in Japan who are publishing an ebook to benefit survivors of the March 11, 2011 Tohoku-Kanto earthquake and tsunami. This project has two goals: to raise money for earthquake victims and to help overseas readers understand more about Japan and the kindness and hospitality of its people.

We invite all writers and translators in Japan to submit short pieces of writing (500-1000 words). We welcome travel stories, humor pieces, essays, translations from Japanese or other languages, interviews, profiles (of people or places) or other non-fiction work. Subject matter is up to you; we would like your writing to convey your take on the joys of traveling in Japan or the spirit of cooperation and togetherness demonstrated by residents of Japan after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

All proceeds from the sale of the ebook will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross.

Got that, guys? They want non-fiction and essays from writers and translators in Japan.


I have just heard of the mad-dash book project from Our Man in Abiko, JAPAN EARTHQUAKE: GET WRITING NOW!

He's aiming to get his book out TONIGHT!

He says:
I'm looking for contributions from anyone who has something to say about the earthquake. (eg where were you when it happened, what did you feel? How have you helped? Did it change anything in the way you live your life? Are you coping with grief? Or just bewildered behind a barrage of media images?)

I'm not looking for windy poetic stuff, just honest stuff.

Aim to write 250-300 words or so - equivalent to a short blog post (or one page of a book)

If you can contribute original (ie you have the copyright) artwork, a sketch drawing or cartoon that would be awesome too)

If you have any great tweets to submit - that would be great too.

Photos (that you took) would be really awesome.

Remember, he wants to publish ASAP, so if you got it, get it to him now.

Go. Help. Do good.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

More Banana, Please

There are many reasons I have come to love Japanese literature, but if I had to list a few of the top things which I am drawn to I would have to say the deceptive simplicity and the way some of the Japanese writers tend to go around and around things leaving you stunned at the end when you realize you were actually looking directly at it all along.

One of the writers I most admire is Banana Yoshimoto. I think the following graph from Elizabeth Wadell's review of Hardboiled & Hard Luck in The Quarterly Conversation really does a fantastic job of summing up the magic that is Banana Yoshimoto:

The narrators are in a fragile, undetermined state of trying to figure out how to pay tribute to their tragedies while still finding some way past them. At times, they express nostalgia for the real, clear pain of the tragedy, and all moments when feeling was genuine and clear. Describing the aftermath of her sister’s cerebral hemorrhage, the narrator of “Hard Luck” explains, “Kuni hadn’t only given us pain, she also created moments for us that were so much more concentrated then usual. In the world we lived in, the good times were a hundred times better. If we couldn’t catch that sparkle only the agony would remain.”

This is what I would love to see more of in our submissions.

This attempt to transcend the horrifying tragedy still unfolding in Japan.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Sun Rising - Call for Submissions

New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan is an anthology of writing and imagery celebrating Japan, proceeds of which will all go to Japanese disaster relief.

Watch the video and learn how you can get involved in this amazing project.

What we're looking for

It is so hard for me, for all of us, to read your submissions. They are beautiful, they are poignant. They are heartfelt; we know how deeply you care. We read it in your words, as you try to make sense of this terrible thing that has happened and try to understand how the world did not end, how life can go on.

Last night I went to bed and cried.

We've been talking, as editors, about our vision for this book.

It's not a book that makes people go to bed and cry. It is too soon for that kind of tribute. We do not need to remember the tragedy; it's still happening.

This is not a book of mourning. This is a book of hope.

This book is of Japan.

It is about sushi and salarymen and samurai. It is about emperors and ASIMO. It is about gyaru and cherry blossoms and love hotels. It is about temples and tatami mats and tea ceremonies. It is about the past, and the future. It is about the present too, but not only The Disaster.

We aren't going to ignore the earthquake, the tsunami, the nuclear emergency. How could we? But there must be balance. It's going to be a very small part of the book. Just like it's a very small part of all the things that have made Japan Japan.

So send me poems about Chiba cyberpunks and armies of giant robots commanded by schoolgirls. Send me The Merchant of Venice set in Twenty-first century Tokyo. Send me a story about how a paper crane saves the world. Send me a story about how a boy and a girl fall in love. Send me J-horror and 50's sci-fi. Send me manga--we haven't seen any yet, and how can we have a book about Japan without?

We don't need stories about what's happening in Japan, we need stories about Japan.

(And, thank you.)


Video, Love.

You guys, I love you so much right now. All of you. There has been so much support, I think we've got enough editors. It's volunteer, and life comes up, so if people have to drop out, I will ask again. But for right now we're okay.

What we need, now, is your work -- and your word of mouth. But Greg really says it right here:

Did Greg inspire you to send us something? Well, That Girl Tyson has you covered. She's done a video of our submission guidelines:

You guys are so awesome.

Thank you so much.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Questions about Submissions (1)

I'm getting a lot of questions about submissions--thank you so much, guys, for being excited about this project and so generous with your work.

(And to the people that are getting in touch with me, saying "I don't have any work, but is there anything I can do to help?" -- you rock. If I haven't already put you to work, I'll be in touch shortly. ;)

I've updated the guidelines slightly. We'll look at slightly longer stories--up to around 7,500 words.

The previously published question

For the people that have been asking, we will consider previously published work. Just tell us where and when. We're biased toward previously unpublished work, but I don't want you to hold back sending us something awesome because it was in a now-defunct webzine three years ago. I don't consider work posted on your blog or in an online workshop published.

The simultaneous submission question

Please don't do this to us. It is so much work, going from idea to book in a matter of weeks. Submissions are only open until 11 April, you'll hear from us within 6 weeks for sure. I have nightmares about having to root through our submissions, finding withdrawals, and scrambling at the last minute to readjust the book around gaping holes where someone else has scooped up a work we love. I know it's hard, but please be patient.

Artwork and Photos

As much as I would love beautiful color artwork and photos, it adds a layer of complexity in the "printing" and we just do not have the time. It is okay to attach your art submission--.png, .jpg, or .gif format. Please select one to send--your best, your favorite, something that you feel embodies Japan.

I love the offers to select anything we'd like from your photo blog or your Flickr album; by all means, if you would like to extend that offer, mention it with your submission. (This also applies to people who use their blogs as a place to post poetry or stories.)


We are working really hard on the submissions coming into our email, and some of you are amazingly prolific. We just do not have the time to browse hundreds or thousands of your photos. Have pity, at least send us a sample so we can see what your work is like. If what you send is great but just doesn't quite fit, then we know there's more on offer and we'll get back to you about it.

And thank you guys, again, for all the work you are sending our way. You are amazing.



Pampas grass, now dry,

once bent this way

and that.


I believe that every person has the ability to be a poet, whether you think you can or not. ~Jane Reichhold
We are hoping to include some really beautiful haiku in New Sun Rising. I am a huge fan of the form, and I jump at any opportunity to evangelize about how meaningful haiku can be in your life. It truly is a total experience, and can lead to a whole new way of looking at the world.

If you've never tried it before, why not give it a shot now? What better way to help than to contribute something which also honors the Japanese culture?

I thought it would be a good idea to post a few helpful haiku links. You can find tons of wonderful information at Jane Reichhold's Aha Poetry site. I wrote an essay which people seem to find helpful and it is at Escape Into Life.

You also have:

The Haiku Society of America, Modern Haiku Magazine, Frogpond and Acorn.

And if you can take the time to watch this video featuring Jane Reichhold, I believe you'll find yourself rewarded in so many ways.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

By the skin of my teeth

I cannot believe it is only Tuesday. Well, Wednesday now. A few hours in.

This project, it started out on Sunday afternoon with just the slip of an idea for this thing, and you guys reached out with open arms and embraced it.

I am overwhelmed, I do not have words for how grateful I am to all of you. Maybe I would be able to find them if I were not so tired, but I doubt it. Sometimes the magnitude of a thing defies expression.

The facebook page is up, finally. (I swear, I meant to do it yesterday, but I just didn't get there.) I was getting ready for bed. Then I realized I forgot to blog about some other fund-raising projects for charities working in Japan.

I thought about going to bed anyway, but I don't know when I would find the time. And it's too important to get lost.

There's the Authors for Japan auction going on. They have some fabulous stuff. Like a signed copy of The Man Who Painted Agnieszka’s Shoes and the original cover art. (Dan Holloway's encouragement and support was instrumental in starting the New Sun Rising snowball on its journey down the mountain.)

Go. Look. Spend unwisely.

Also in author related fundraising, Stella Deleuze is giving 100% of the sales from her Kindle book to the British Red Cross. Go on, check it out.

(Now I'll go to bed. I promise, Sessha.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


On March 11, 2011 a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck the north of Japan. In the wake of one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in the history of Japan, a state of nuclear emergency was declared, forcing the evacuation of thousands more.

The world watched, stunned.

We wanted to help. Just giving money didn't seem like enough.

The idea for New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan, a collection of stories and poems and art honoring and celebrating Japan, was born.