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Two Americans live in Kyoto for a year and find adventure, curiosities, love, and cheap sushi.

“Dizzy Sushi” Part 1 ~ Tokyo

The first thing I saw in Japan was a corpse. It was lying under a canvas sheet on a gurney in the Tokyo airport, the shoulders and feet bound by wide leather cargo belts. A warm mist clouded the windows of the shuttle that took us from the plane to the terminal. 

This is the opening paragraph of my book, “Dizzy Sushi.” I lived in Japan for a year between 1988 and 1989 when Emperor Hirohito died. And although the body I saw in those first moments landing in Tokyo was not the emperor’s, the spectre of a ghost haunted my time in the country.

I taught English conversation in Osaka, studied Zen at a monastery in the Japanese Alps, lived in a Unagi- (Eel)-shaped house in Kyoto, shopped at the YMCA kimono sale, walked to the subway along the Kamo River with geisha...every day was part of an exotic routine.

A Japanese travelogue and Zendo spiritual quest, “Dizzy Sushi” is, at its heart, a love story between two friends exploring a foreign land. Now that the writing and editing of “Dizzy Sushi” is complete, you are invited to help bring this memoir to the world.

What is a Dizzy Sushi?

Imagine a small crowded food shop filled with gaijin (foreigners) and Japanese salarymen (businessmen). There is an an elliptical table with stools around it and a high narrow counter seemingly floating small plates of sushi, nigiri, and soup through the shop for hungry customers' selection. A team of precision sushi chefs prepare and refill the parade of raw delights as quickly as they disappear from the conveyor belt snake. And because you follow a plate of sushi around the table with your eyes, we dubbed these fast food restaurants “Dizzy Sushis.”

The title also aptly describes the ups and downs of living in a different country, one diametrically opposed to your own. “Dizzy Sushi” transforms my experiences recorded daily in my journal during the year I lived in Japan.

Have a listen to the beginning of "Dizzy Sushi:"

Winner of a Recursos de Santa Fe Discovery Award, excerpts from "Dizzy Sushi" have been published in several Japanese literary magazines, including, "Kizuna: Fiction for Japan (A Charity Anthology", 2011). 

My search to find the right publisher for this narrative nonfiction novel led me to Tres Chicas Books, a collaborative press that began in Santa Fe, NM, in 2003 among three poets and friends: Miriam Sagan, Joan Logghe, and Reneé Gregorio. Their award-winning press edited "Dizzy Sushi" and will be providing a press release and small press distribution. 

Here’s where you come in.

In order to co-publish my book with Tres Chicas Books, I need to bring $5,000 for printing costs to the table.

The way Kickstarter works, friends, family, and interested strangers contribute to a community funding of the $5,000 and become my “angels” bringing “Dizzy Sushi” to the public. If I don't raise the entire $5,000, I don't get any part (and the pledges to fund are withdrawn). 

Any contribution is welcome. In fact, the smaller “Reward” categories are usually the ones that make funding successful. The impact of crowd funding is to harness the exponential power of “six degrees…” So there is a fantastic push for you to help me create a “buzz” and viral excitement about "Dizzy Sushi" and to become (and encourage others to become) an important part of this dream to publish my story of a time and country I briefly became a part of—that has become an inexorable part of me. I can’t do this without you!

Rewards.

What I love about Kickstarter is getting the rewards together. These are fun creative projects for me like podcasts and pdfs, but the one I have always wanted to create are "Dizzy Sushi" chopsticks! Everyone who donates from the smallest to the largest, will receive a pair.

"Dizzy Sushi" Chopsticks and Poster.
"Dizzy Sushi" Chopsticks and Poster.

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What people are saying:

"We made a success of Science Fiction Land. Let's make a success of Dizzy Sushi!!!" Trent Zelazny

"Because I believe in my friends...because I believe in Kickstarter, and mostly because I believe in my good friend Melissa White, I urge all my Facebook family to contribute to Melissa's campaign http://tinyurl.com/dizzykickstarter. “Dizzy Sushi” is Melissa's travelogue and love story from her year abroad in Japan. Contribute now!" M. Picón

"It's a great read combining travel, Japanese language and culture, Zen, and relationship. Beautifully written and it wants to be Kickstarted and Tres Chicas Books will publish and launch. Good incentives to encourage you to participate. It is a book in longing for a life of its own." Santa Fe Poet Laureate and Tres Chicas Books publisher, Joan Logghe

"A great story by a smart and wonderful woman. Consider a little kickstarter to print." E. M.

"Please support this gifted writer!" C. W.

"This is a FABULOUS project by a really wonderful writer, who happens to be a friend ~ so check it out, and even if you can't contribute, share with people who might!" Rosalia Triana

"A great project from my friend Melissa!" Nancy Judd, Recycle Runway

"Check out my friend Melissa's Kickstarter project." Ted Merz

"I had the happy opportunity to read an early draft of Melissa's book a few years ago - I recommend it highly and hope to see it published!" Warren Buss

"A friend of mine's kickstarter project to publish her book. She's a wonderful writer (and a great person). Check it out!" M. B.

"LT '79 alum! Please support and share!" C. W.

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Dōmo arigatōgozaimashita!

Thanks go out to all the wonderful folks who have helped with "Dizzy Sushi" and with this Kickstarter Campaign:

Tres Chicas Books
Translator Sanford Goldstein
The Edit Femmes
Stryder Simms of OpenChannelContent.com
San Q Restaurant in Santa Fe
Everyone who read the ms, (Janette, Ondine, Brett, et al), and those who read and commented on my campaign, (Diane, Asher, Ron, etc.)
Music by Olympic Smoker - Japanese Airlines (03:15)

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Once the funding is in place for printing the book, the interior layout will begin. Since the edits have been done already, that is a big chunk of work that we don't have to do! But laying out the pages and double checking will take several weeks. My editors have published dozens of books, so I will look to them to supply the ISBN number, help with what goes on the spine, and design the cover. If more funds come in from this Kickstarter campaign, then I can use them to do this layout work, otherwise, having been in the print production business, I will take on that job myself.

I will also be finalizing the logo for the bamboo chopsticks and setting up the poster to print. The chopsticks will be ordered from a company overseas, so there will be some nailbiting as I wait for them to arrive. The posters will be printed in New Mexico.

After the books have been printed, bound and shipped, I will be sending them out to all of you. Tres Chicas Books will ship a box to Small Press Distribution and we will write a press release and set up a local book signing. With a book in hand, it will be my job to go forth and market "Dizzy Sushi." Luckily I have writers who have used all kinds of Internet tools and connections to help "Dizzy" be read by many.

FAQ

  • Anyone who has traveled to Japan, or lived in Japan will find this story brings back memories. The detail in the book creates a complete world in just a moment, and you can hear, smell, and taste your surroundings. "Dizzy Sushi" is also a complicated love story between two friends who are pushed and pulled by the oddity of living is a foreign place. Finally, there are stories and experiences of Zazen, and Buddhism, a trip to Eiheiji, and Ryonji that weave a spiritual quest throughout the narrative.

    Last updated:
  • It will be traditionally printed, soft-cover, 304 inside pages, 5.25"x8".

    Last updated:
  • Neither, actually. My co-publisher is Tres Chicas Books. They usually publish poetry books, which require less paper, thus the larger print bill. "Dizzy Sushi" will be 300+ pages, soft-cover, 1,000 copies printed traditionally.

    The women of Tres Chicas Books are Miriam Sagan, Joan Logghe, and Renée Gregorio. They read the ms, accepted it, and edited it. We will be using their ISBN and printer. They will help promote the book with a book signing, press release, and small press distribution. I am very excited to work with them, and they believe in this book.

    Last updated:
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    SUSHI DINNER ~ Sushi Dinner for you and a friend with the author in Santa Fe at San Q + two signed copies of "Dizzy Sushi", the PDF, podcast, acknowledgement, poster, and chopsticks. (Timing up to one year.)

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    ISSEN ~ An author reading in your US town + Sushi Dinner for you and a friend with the author + two signed copies of "Dizzy Sushi", the PDF, podcast, acknowledgement, poster, and chopsticks.

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