Virtual Blog Tour: And Introducing . . .

Self got tagged, so now it’s her turn to tag three others.

The three artists self tagged for the Virtual Blog Tour are:

  • Luisa A. Igloria, poet and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA
  • Stella Kalaw, photographer, Emeryville, CA
  • Kathleen Burkhalter, writer, New Bedford, MA

She’ll start with Luisa, and follow up with Stella Kalaw and Kathleen Burkhalter in later posts.

About Luisa A. Igloria:

Poet and Professor Luisa A. Igloria, at home in Virginia

Poet and Professor Luisa A. Igloria, at home in Virginia

Luisa’s recent books include Ode to the Heart Smaller Than a Pencil Eraser (winner of the 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow:  Prose Poems (forthcoming from Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Press, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (winner of the 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), Trill & Mordent (Word Tech Editions, 2005).

Luisa has degrees from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was a Fulbright Fellow from 1992 to 1995.  She has lived and worked in Hampton Roads for the last 13 years.  She enjoys cooking with her family, book-binding, and listening to tango music.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Tagged! Virtual Blog Tour

Self has a lot of catching up to do with regards to honoring the lovely Rashaan Alexis-Meneses’ tagging of Kanlaon for the Virtual Blog Tour.

She was tagged two weeks ago, but summer is always a blur.  In the summer, self’s brain seems to work at half-time.  Not. Kidding.

Nevertheless, she is now at full attention and ready to participate!

First things first:

THANKS MUCH, MZ RASHAAN:

“. . .  in your blog you acknowledge the people who invited you, answer four given questions about your work and your process, then invite three other people to participate.”

For this post only, self will drop the 3rd person arch-ness and go for first person SINCERE.

My responses are only slightly tongue-in-cheek.

What are you currently working on?

A series of speculative fiction stories, most of them flash, all of them intriguing. LOL LOL LOL

One of them, “The Elephant,” will appear in the next issue of Your Impossible Voice.

“The Secret Room” is already up, on Café Irreal.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t “do” narratives of identity.

I write narratives of deformity.

We’re all monsters.  In one way or another.  Inside.

I dig deep to find that which makes us wretched.

Why do you write/ create what you do?

Because I can’t help myself.  And because writing, frankly, is the only thing I’m REALLY good at.

Honestly, if someone had told me, way back when, “Your life will be spent mostly in an empty room (empty of people, that is), writing stories of deep despondency, for which you will be paid nada,” I would promptly have said, “You’re crazy!” or, “You’re dreaming!” or, “Do you think I’m some kind of martyr?” Turns out I am all of those things:  crazy/demented dreamer/ martyr.  Maybe ALL writers are all of these things. Ugh. Welcome to my Pity Party.

How does your writing/ creating process work?

The angrier I am, the better I write.  So I try to stay angry.

I like to think of my process as SLASH AND BURN.

P. S.  It’s really fun to “do” anger in flash fiction.

*     *     *     *     *

Spreading the love to:  Stella Kalaw; Luisa Igloria; Kathleen Burkhalter

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The List in Self’s “The Secret Room” (CAFE IRREAL, Issue # 50)

Self has long pondered the difference between science fiction, speculative fiction, fairy tales, myths, horror stories and the “irreal.”  The other day, she decided to go through the Café Irreal essay, “What is irrealism?”

She’d first read it several years ago, when she began writing lots of speculative fiction.  It was nice to re-discover it.

The essay reminds us that, in “pre-modern” times, the people telling and listening to folk tales and legends assumed them to be “true.” These people, if they had heard Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” read aloud to them, “would most likely assume that the transformation” of the protagonist into a bug was likely the result of “a spell” (And why not? In “pre-modern” times, spells were considered practical ways to deal with malevolence; in other words, spells were not “magic.” They were solutions to a problem) For them, “the irreality of the story — which flows from an irresolvable clash between the real and the unreal — would be lost.”

There’s more, much more to ponder in the essay.  Self recommends that readers go over to Café Irreal to read it in its entirety.

Self’s story, “The Secret Room,” is in the current issue.

At yesterday’s writers group meeting, self’s esteemed friend (and soon-to-be-famous published novelist) Lillian Howan mentioned that her son liked the list in the story.

Which, self confided to Lillian, was the trickiest part of the piece.  Self had to keep working at it and working at it, constantly changing the items in the list because she was never completely satisfied with the “mix.”

Here’s the list in its final, published version:

  • A map of an island with no name.  There was no way to tell whether this island was near or far, whether it lay within the bounds of the Narrow Sea or beyond, in some yet undiscovered realm.
  • A piece of yellowing parchment, on which had been written, in her husband’s careful hand, the letters KMCVQH
  • An iron knitting needle
  • A stone the size of her fist, on whose rough surface glittered a sparkly metal that might have been silver
  • A drawing of a unicorn
  • A broken silver chain
  • A dozen gold coins stamped with the profile of Aurelia, the Queen of the Undersea
  • A small painting, about the width of a hand, of a man with no eyes

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Last Workshop, 2014 Squaw Valley Writers Conference

The Squaw Valley Writers Conference ends tomorrow morning —  WAAAAH!!!

Self had the greatest time.

Here’s a picture self took at the end of the last workshop today:

Members of Workshop # 6:  Roxanne Barish (kneeling), Jean Bertelsen, Cathee St. Clair, Nicky Loomis, Today's Moderator Michael Jaime-Becerra, Vish Gaitonde, Wei Wei Yeo, Catie Disabato

Members of Workshop # 6: Roxanne Barish (kneeling), Jean Bertelsen, Cathee St. Clair, Nicky Loomis, Today’s Moderator Michael Jaime-Becerra, Vish Gaitonde, Wei Wei Yeo, Catie Disabato

The week simply flew by!

Self bought a copy of Michael Jaime-Becerra’s story collection, Every Night is Ladies’ Night:

Michael Jaime-Becerra moderated her workshop today.  He's a fantastic teacher.

Michael Jaime-Becerra moderated her workshop today. He’s a fantastic teacher.

Here’s an excerpt from “Lopez Trucking Incorporated,” one of the stories in the collection:

Evelyn’s going nuts in the passenger seat because Mario still isn’t done with her wedding dress.  My sister’s too nervous to drive, and since I’m the only one home, I’m taking her for her fitting.  Evelyn’s wedding is in four days, on Saturday, and she’s the kind of person who plans everything in her life, from buying wrapping paper for next year the day after Christmas to ordering all her keys by color and size.  She gets her craziness from our mom, and while I’ve had sixteen years to get used to it, Lupe’s only had two.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Contrasts 9: Squaw Valley, the Mountains and the Plains

Self is overwhelmed.  She’s here in Squaw Valley, in the Village, which is in a basin between tall peaks.  She’s never experienced anything like it.

She’s here for the annual Squaw Valley Writers Conference.  She’s been hearing about it for so many years.  This year, she decided to bite the bullet and go.

Her story’s being workshopped tomorrow.

Contrast in Picture # 1:  The Valley and the Peak.  Just —  amazing.

The Village at Squaw Valley

The Village at Squaw Valley. The cable car brings guests to a peak where there is a lake with — she’s been told — ice-cold water.

She rode up with Heather from Benicia, who’s an absolutely skillful driver and got us here in under three hours, without making a single wrong turn.

Contrast in Picture # 2:  The point-y trees and the rounded hills?  The mountains and the plains?

This is the view from the back of self's unit, in The Meadows.

This is the view from the back of self’s unit, in The Meadows.

Contrast in Picture # 3:  The sunlight and the shade.

Her unit has a balcony.  This was the view mid-afternoon, yesterday:

The view from self's unit in the Meadows. Like that stack of firewood? If only it were cool enough to make a fire feasible!

The view from self’s unit in the Meadows. Like that stack of firewood? If only it were cool enough to make lighting a fire feasible!

This place must be absolutely stupendous in the winter, when the peaks are covered in snow.

The altitude here is something like 62,000 feet.

Last night, walking back after the last talk of the evening, she and her roommate got lost.  But it’s only about a 10-minute walk!

She’s been writing; she’s so happy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Contrasts 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Contrasts:  Light and Dark . . .

2nd floor, Farmyard Cottage, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig

2nd floor, Farmyard Cottage, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, May 2014

Son's Room. The painting was done for $20 by an artist in Great America, Santa Clara. Son was six or seven.

Son’s Room. The painting was done for $20 by an artist in Great America, Santa Clara. Son was six or seven.  He’s wearing a San Francisco Giants cap.

Contrasts:  Youth and Age . . .

A Bookshelf in the Main House at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland

A Bookshelf in the Main House at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland

The people in the photograph must long have passed away, but their image endures (Love the crease in the photograph itself:  makes the photograph seem very fragile).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

On Secrets/ On Witchcraft

A few weeks ago, self announced that Café Irreal would be publishing her story “The Secret Room” on Aug. 1.

But when she wandered over to Café Irreal today, she saw that in fact, her story was already live, and had been live since May.

Here’s the link, dear blog readers.  Read, review.  Self adores feedback.

*     *    *     *

Here’s something else she encountered today.

While browsing through the British Museum blog, she stumbled upon an article on Witchcraft.

And here self found an answer to a question which has often nagged at her:  Why are witches usually women?

The piece makes clear that accusations of witchcraft were always personal, as evidenced by the fact that people most often brought up charges of accusation against people they knew well — i.e., their neighbors.  And the fact that many of the accused were old women, or widows, or orphaned women, or stepdaughters, makes very clear that the targets were “the most dependent members of the community.” The ones, in other words, who were least likely to fight back or defend themselves.

These female dependents (the preferred pool for witches) were the ones “whose names figure most frequently on the lists of people in receipt of poor relief, and they were the ones most likely to be caught up in the situation of begging for help and not getting it.”

Being perceived as powerless and being perceived as a threat — such a curious contradiction.  In both instances, these two have more in common with perception and have precious little to do with reality.

Which is what led self to write a very curious short story called “Toad.”  Which she will begin sending out shortly.

She finished it while sitting at a coffee shop on Lower Mount Street in Dublin.  Quite close, in fact, to Ballsbridge, where her B & B was.

OMG.  Witches.  Toads.  Lower Mounts.  Ballsbridge.  Self’s brain was filled with medieval imagery, almost the whole time she was in Ireland.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Guest Blogging

Self is the July 2014 guest blogger on Cecilia Brainard’s Travels (and More) with Cecilia Brainard.

She’s never been a guest blogger before, so she was a tad nervous.

But it turns out, all she had to do was send Cecilia a few pieces, a picture, and a bio.  Whew!

Here’s the link to Cecilia’s blog.  The two stories Cecilia posted are “All the Missing” (first published in Phoebe) and “For Sarah Balabagan, OFW.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Announcing: PHILIPPINE SPECULATIVE FICTION, Vol. 9

It’s almost here!  The latest volume (# 9) in the Philippine Speculative Fiction series.

The editors of the latest volume are Andrew Drilon and Charles Tan.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

  • Blood of Iron by Christian Renz Torres
  • Panopticon by Victor Ocampo
  • A Cha-cha with Insanity by Vida Cruz
  • Only Dogs Piss Here by Michael Aaron Gomez
  • Last Race by Jenny Ortuoste
  • Oscar’s Marvelous Transformation by Kat del Rosario
  • Stations of the Apostate by Alexander M. Osias
  • Sikat by William Robert Yasi
  • Deliver Us by Eliza Victoria
  • Miracles Under a Concrete Sky by Franz Johann de la Merced
  • The Unmaking of the Cuadro Amoroso by Kate Osias
  • The Woodsman by Cedric Tan
  • And These Were the Names of the Vanished by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
  • Anthropomorpha by Crystal Koo
  • Sofia by Marianne Villanueva
  • Transcripts From the Investigation on the Life and Death of Alastor de Roja by Vincent Michael Simbulan
  • TG2416 from Mars by Nikki Alfar
  • Scissor Tongue by Elyss Punsalan
  • Cogito by AJ Elicaño

This is the official website.

Sweetness/ Fan Fiction/ Café Irreal

Self is reading something based on a fairy tale.  It’s really sweet, Hunger Games AU, based on the tale “East of the Sun & West of the Moon.”

Peeta whisks Katniss away from her house in District 12, in a broad heavy sleigh, and they arrive in a house at the edge of a lake.  It’s enchanted, like all good houses should be.

It’s really clever, how elements of the fairy tale are woven in, such as in this description:

“. . .   it isn’t the ancient palace from my dream, with its high stone walls and dusty rooms, filled with silence and nameless fears.  I didn’t ride here on the back of a white bear . . . “

The two are tended by Avoxes, which is another thing that fits in with the sense of unreality.

*     *     *     *

On August 1, a fable of self’s is going live on Café Irreal.  It’ll be her second story in the magazine.  Her first, which appeared a few years ago, was a flash fiction called “Appetites.”

Here’s an excerpt from the story soon to be posted, called “The Secret Room”:

One day, during a fox hunt, her husband fell from his horse and broke a leg.  His squires carried him into the castle.  A monk came with healing herbs and made a poultice.  A surgeon set the bone.  But in spite of everyone’s best efforts, the King continued to scream with pain.  For days everyone in the castle was frozen by the sound of his shrieks.

There you go.  Even when writing fables, self always heads straight for “dark.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

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