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.

 

 

Room 3: Button Factory, Temple Bar, Dublin

Lest dear blog readers think self is losing her wits, she blurred these photos deliberately, to give an effect of — mood?  Energy?  Transience?

The setting was the Button Factory, in Temple Bar Music Centre, 4 Temple Bar, Dublin.

Self is riffing off this weeks’s WordPress Photo Challenge:

SHARE YOUR TAKE ON THE IDEA OF ROOM — it could be an actual room in your house, a favorite gallery in your local museum, a cubicle at work.

Last Set of the Night:  Jaime Nanci Barron & the Blue Boys Getting Ready to Set Up

Last Set of the Night: Jaime Nanci Barron & the Blue Boys Getting Ready to Set Up

The audience at the Button Factory listens with rapt attention.

The audience at the Button Factory listens with rapt attention.

The Magic of Music and Midnight in Temple Bar

The Magic of Music and Midnight in Temple Bar

Why, self muses, is this bar called the Button Factory?  Having been in Dublin for a wee bit, she knows it is because, in all likelihood, the place did indeed use to be a button factory.

Her B & B is near Ballsbridge.

The local supermarket is called Spar.

The street itself is called Lower Mount Street.

The saloon on the corner of her previous B & B, in Inchicore, was called the Black Horse Saloon and in fact that was the name of the actual stop on the Luas (tram) line.

Some of that nuance and pungency must have worked itself into her writing.  The stories she’s written here in Ireland are:  Spores, Toad, Residents of the Deep, Breeder.  She likes!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Twist 3: The Stone Lintel’s Close-Up

The stone lintel self passes almost every day, in the garden between the farmyard cottages and the Main House of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, is now ready for its close-up:

What is this mysterious thing?  And what is it doing on the grounds of the Tyrone Guthrie Center?  Who made it?  And why?

What is this mysterious thing? And what is it doing on the grounds of the Tyrone Guthrie Center? Who made it? And why?  Her musings about it remind her of her musings on the mysteries of Stonehenge.

Self thinks it is a very good thing to do an artists residency in a rainy place — such as a boggy island like Ireland — because one is given so much incentive to stay indoors.  And since everything else is so far away (like movie theatres, like newspapers, like television), one perforce has to exercise the utmost resourcefulness to keep oneself entertained.  And, in self’s particular case, that means concocting convoluted (yet entertaining) narratives involving ships and voyages and science and spores and changeables and hedgehogs and Commons and bongs and elephants and imaginary cities.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

And the Strangest Twist of All!

Dear blog mistress’s novella, published last year by Vagabondage Press, has been shortlisted for Best Novella of 2013 by the Saboteur Awards!

Which are going to be handed out Saturday a week from today!

In a very cool town which just so happens to be Oxford, England!

And the par-tay will be in the cooler part of Oxford, which self understands is the northern part, in a place called JERICHO TAVERN!

And self really didn’t think she could make it, but suddenly she got a message from her friend Jenny Lewis who teaches at Oxford, who said, “Everyone here’s been talking about it.”

So then self has been kinda stunned, and part of her wants to go into full-on Pity Party Mode (Self has nothing to wear! She’s been re-cycling the same three pairs of jeans for a month!) but another part wants to say:  GET UP, WOMAN!  JUST — GET UP!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

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