White Whale Review

This evening, self decides to re-visit some of the literary journals who’ve solicited and published her work.

There is a reason why, on this blog, self begins to list her publications only starting from 2007: that was the year when she began getting published again.

Yes indeed, dear blog readers:  Just because one has two books under one’s belt is no guarantee of your survival as a writer. And for a period of several years, self received not one single acceptance.

But she hung on.  For which, thank God.

In the meantime, while she was suffering through the acute discomfort of many-years-not-getting-published, she started a blog. This blog. She was writing, but purely for entertainment. Slowly, editors began to write her, leaving comments on the blog.

And that’s how she came to be published in White Whale Review. One of the editors contacted her.  Her story, “Dumaguete,” appeared in Issue 1.2

It’s been a while since she dropped by; she decides to visit this evening, and finds out, Holy Cow, they’re now on Issue 6.2.

So they did not fold.

It’s almost a miracle.

Busy Bee

Self is extremely, extremely happy this morning. She was able to wheedle a reading date from her local library for Manila Noir, an anthology that Akashic published last year, and for which she has never given a reading.

She’s only one of — ehem — 15 Filipino writers in the book, it was edited by Superstar Jessica Hagedorn, she loves the pieces in it to bits. Why has she never read for it in her own neck of the woods?  OMG, why?

She wrote a brand new story, just for the anthology. Yup, one winter holiday, almost three years ago, La Hagedorn requested a story from self, and after wringing her hands for nearly a month, and subjecting herself to all sorts of angsty emo feelings, self ended the pity party, grit her teeth, addressed the problem (which had been hovering over her head, a veritable Sword of Damocles, making her incapable of performing even the simplest holiday tasks, such as setting up the Christmas tree) and that very same day, she came up with a story. Turned it in. Got quick thumbs up from Hagedorn. Became pride-ful and slothful. Told the world of her inclusion in said anthology. Crowed about her triumph in her little corner of the world, and then waited for — NOTHING. Everyone in the Philippines and Asia and even the continental U.S. of A. read the anthology, but her story was sandwiched between such greats that no one seemed to have time to comment on it. Nevertheless, nevertheless . . .

She did manage to get Lysley Tenorio (a fellow alum from Stanford’s Creative Writing Program, he teaches at Saint Mary’s in Moraga) to agree to read with her. Quite a feat, as the guy’s got a big agent, a big publisher, and he agreed to make the trek to REDWOOD CITY. And besides, self isn’t sure whether she still can read, it’s been a while. So it is good if Lysley reads with her, for he is an excellent reader. And not only that, he is affable and very used to signing author copies.

Now, since self is so energized, she is thinking of contacting other places, such as Books, Inc. in Town & Country. Hello, they already carry it; she’s seen it there, in their Mystery section. So, what’s the problem, self? What’s taking you so long? Get off your couch and who says you can’t? Get yourself over to Book Passage, while you’re at it.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books.  She's holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books, at the 2013 Miami International Book Festival, holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

In Progress

Self worked on these stories today:

  • The Mountain Dog
  • The Hole

Why, she wonders, does she keep churning out short stories, when she really ought to be concentrating on a novel, since that is more liable to capture the attention of literary agents and/or big mainstream publishers?

Nevertheless, self is proud about today’s accomplishments.

Both stories were begun ages ago. Suddenly, today, self knew exactly what each story was missing. She had put up the framework, but she didn’t know the story. Not until today.

Go for it go for it go for it

Life is short, the journey long.

Stay tuned.

Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia: “The Heart of the World”

The cover of Colin Poole's TONLE SAP, The Heart of Cambodia's Natural Heritage (Thailand:  River Books, 2005)

The cover of Colin Poole’s TONLE SAP, The Heart of Cambodia’s Natural Heritage (Thailand: River Books, 2005)

In 2004, self and her sister-in-law, Ying, took a trip to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. We stayed in a house ($10/day for a room, including meals) and hired a driver.

The monument was crawling with tourists. One morning, desperate, self and Ying awoke at 4 a.m. and had the driver bring us to the temples. Across the giant causeway, which was barely light, we saw at least a hundred photographers, cameras pointed at the horizon, waiting for the first rays of the sun to appear. It was very dispiriting.

The thing self remembers most from the trip is not the temples. It was Tonle Sap Lake. Self and Ying hired a boat and threaded our way through the floating villages.

In 2008, Ying passed away in Tel Aviv. Self saw her for the last time a couple of months before. Her eyes were so sad.

Self’s story, “The Peacock,” is about that trip to Cambodia. She’s never been able to get it published, but she keeps trying.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Available Now: Your Impossible Voice, Issue 5

Today self heard from the editors of Your Impossible Voice that Issue No. 5 is out!

YAY!

The story they took is “The Elephant.” Self actually sent if from Cork, Ireland. It was the morning she was transferring from Ballyvolane House to Café Paradiso. You know, self just fell in love with Cork and wishes she had stayed there an extra week.

But, back to Your Impossible Voice and “The Elephant.” It is actually quite a disturbing story, but it is what it is. Here’s an excerpt:

For over a week, the elephant’s wild thrashings sent reverberations throughout the ship. It threw itself against the walls of its container, again and again. Sea monsters, the crew awoke thinking. We’re all going to die!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Memories of Trees” : Live Now on PITHEAD CHAPEL, Vol. 3, Issue 9

I’m one of three people still living who can tell what a mango tree looks like.  I’m important because they think they can learn how to make more.

– “Memories of Trees,” Pithead Chapel, Vol. 3, Issue 9 (September 2014)

Sharing the Love: Last Sunday of August (2014)

Today, while self was poking around in her closet, she came upon a binder where she lists all the literary magazines she’s submitted to, organized per year.

She’s decided to share the 2014 list right here, right now. Because it is so onerous keeping that information to herself.

It’s probably as amazing to self as it is to her readers that there are so many. In truth, in the last few years, she has become rather manic about submissions. Looking back at the long trajectory of her writing life, there were many years when she’d send out to just a handful of magazines. She must be making up for lost time.

And, let’s not kid ourselves, the internet has made a huge difference. Now, it’s so easy to just press a button that says “Submit.” Whereas when she first started sending stuff out, every piece had to be printed out, photocopied, slapped into an envelope, then metered at a post office. Frankly, who had the time?

    • Agni
    • Alaska Quarterly Review (Having serious financial problems, may close)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Work in Progress: Inspired by the Darren Aronofsky Movie

    How many readers actually saw “Noah” when it was in theaters earlier this year? The speculative fiction film version of “Noah,” the one that starred Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connolly? Self loved it. In fact, it’s still one of her favorite movies of the year.

    Self is calling this work-in-progress “The Ark.”:

    Two by two, the counting went on, day and night.

    In moonlight sometimes Noah heard his wife singing.

    No more than two, Noah said. One pair, that’s all we can take.

    His wife began to argue with him. There must be a way, she insisted. Her eyes had that stormy look. Like lake water in spring, when the wind blows hard around.

    Right now, it stands at around five pages, double-spaced (1,000 words). Happiness!

    Stay tuned.

    Teaching Non-Fiction

    Self is in the middle of teaching an on-line class for UCLA Extension right now, “Essential Beginnings in Nonfiction.” The book she is using is Judith Barrington’s Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art.

    From Chapter 3, which self is having the students discuss this week:

    Do not make the mistake of thinking it is easier to tell the stories you have lived than to make up fictitious stories about imaginary people.  It is no easier to write your own story well than it is to write anything else well.

    Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

    2nd Thursday of August (2014): A Poem By Joan McGavin

    Met Joan McGavin two years ago, in Hawthornden (where she also met Jenny Lewis; and Alison Amend; and Hamish) and had many wonderful adventures which she looks back on with fondness.

    Joan is expecting her first grandchild very soon. Self thought of her today while having her car washed: the Auto-Pride on Woodside Road has a great gift shop, with all manner of gift cards. Self chose one with a cheerful yellow envelope and a parade of babies on the front.

    Joan is currently the Hampshire Poet of 2014 and is organizing the Winchester Poetry Festival and is mega-busy.

    Her collection, Flannelgraphs, was published by Oversteps Books.

    Self likes this poem in particular because she’s just finished writing a short story called “The Freeze.”

    New Skills

    for the globally warmer world
    will include flood wading
    taught by out of work
    circus performers
    ex-stilt walkers
    acrobats and the like.

    Anger management
    will be increasingly called for
    with levels of overcrowding
    making those living
    jowl by cheek
    more and more likely
    to go for the jugular
    of their nearest neighbours.
    Our tutors are tried and tested.

    Tear control –
    though not strictly part of our current
    Adult Education provision –
    is an old skill;
    revision, one-day courses
    will be offered
    by our highly qualified staff
    of tsunami victims.
    Haitians.

    Joan speaks so pointedly, though softly.

    Stay tuned.

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