“Crackers” (Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19 No. 2: Summer/Fall 2014) — We’re on a Panel at AWP 2016!

This was a story self started writing two years ago, which Crab Orchard Review picked up fairly quickly (Definitely NOT the norm!): “Crackers.”

It’s a somewhat comic take on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. An American man goes “native” in the Philippines:

They made me register at the Palo Alto VA for a psychiatric evaluation. The attendant asked my age, and though I had not thought about it for many years, I replied that I might be 41 or 42.

My mother, God rest her soul, was a saint. She passed away when I was still in grade school. My father was the kind of man whose idea of spoiling us was to give us Happy Meals, every single day. While I was “away,” my father died, my sister inherited all his money, and there was nothing left for me.

My first night back in America, I couldn’t sleep. The quiet made me jumpy. People don’t realize how noisy the jungle is. When you know what to listen for, you can tell who is next to you, who is a few feet away, who is just on the other side of that bamboo thicket. Night is for hunting. It’s an active time. Here, though, the night is so quiet, it’s like being dead.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Ramblings: PANK Going Off-line/ J Journal List of Pushcart-Nominated Stories and Etc.

PANK, the on-line literary magazine, is going off-line in December.


PANK published a story of self’s in issue 9.5 — “Seeing.”

She isn’t sure what’s going to happen now to the archived stories. Do they just disappear?

Here’s a link; it’s at least viable until PANK goes off the grid:


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And, while self is at it, here’s another link, this to the Pushcart-nominated stories that appeared in J Journal, one of which was self’s “Magellan’s Mirror” (Volume 5, No. 2, Fall 2012)


J Journal published an excerpt from “Magellan’s Mirror,” here:


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And, while on the topic of Pushcart nominations, last year, her story “The Elephant,” was nominated by Your Impossible Voice.

She has had several of these already, stretching back decades. Let’s see, how many already? Five or six.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“The Decedent Is Initially Viewed Unclothed”

Self’s story, “The Decedent Is Initially Viewed Unclothed,” is included in Calyx Press’s 40th anniversary collection of prose and poetry, to be published 2016 in partnership with Ooligan Press.

She was particularly happy to learn that “the book will feature an excerpt from the memoir of Margarita Donnelly, who was a founding editor of Calyx.” Margarita passed away December 2014.

And that is all self has to say right now, sorry for this extremely short post.

Stay tuned.

Poem-In-Progress Self Wrote on Twitter

Self has no idea what #PoemCrawl is. But in no way, shape or form did this prevent her from tweeting a nondescript poem last night. It goes:

An island. Notes written on an island.

An island big enough for games.

Where the death of Jesus sounds like today’s headlines.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self Wrote the Libretto for a Two-Act Opera!

Self wrote the libretto for a two-act opera.

Self doesn’t watch opera. But she is never one to let a little thing like not knowing anything stop her from writing!

Self’s composer/collaborator, Drew Hemenger, is sick, as self was before she left California. A few shots of chili-laced Szechuan soup near Harvard Square and she’s all better!

The world premiere of The Marife Suite is this Saturday, in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Boston is freezing cold. Self tried walking around Harvard Square this morning. CRAAAAP! She didn’t even make it five blocks. The wind and — ugh, ugh, ugh! Lips are chapped! Yikes! Hands look like wrinkled prunes!

She’s switching all her fan fiction (the ones that had Peeta as a Harvard undergrad) to Palo Alto.

So glad. Just so glad she chose to study in Palo Alto, where giant palm trees line the broad avenues etc. May the Heavens preserve us, she just can’t take this bitter Boston cold.

Self brought with her the libretto for The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, the opera by Philip Glass and Doris Lessing. Believe it or not, reading this libretto, six years ago, was what started self thinking that maybe, just maybe, she could pull this one off. Maybe she could actually write a full-length opera.

Lessing’s libretto combines two of self’s most enduring interests: science fiction and terse language. Here’s an excerpt from Act II Scene 4:


The people stand huddled together, waiting. Beside them is a great heap of insulating material.

The People (variously)
Like coats for houses.
In this new time of ours buildings must wear coats and skins.
Like us.

They sink down into the snow. Sit listlessly. Some go off to sleep.

Reading the above, self wonders how much of her story The Freeze, the one that’s coming out in Bluestem Magazine (It’ll be on sale at the AWP Book Fair. Yeessss!), consists of lingering echoes from The Representative for Planet 8. In self’s story, the temperature drops overnight, everything stops working, every living thing dies — except for huddled bands of starving people, who decide to head south.

Her story follows one intrepid band (teen-agers and one very old woman) who decide to follow Highway 1 to Mexico.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Local Nomad

Local Nomad took self’s Biblical Revisionist Story “The Ark.”


The editor called it “lovely and disturbing.”

Here are their submission guidelines.

Stay tuned.


“Place, Memoir, Journey” Workshop, This Saturday & Sunday

Self’s primary purpose in coming here to Mendocino is to teach a workshop. A travel writing workshop. A workshop on writing about place. About a physical location. Something that exists. And damn self is going to make the students write as hard as they can. Write write write write write write, dear students. The funny thing about travel writing is: you’re writing about place, but you’re also writing about memory. And damn we will mine those memories to the max, dear students! Especially those of you who arrive in Mendocino from far away. From, say, Louisville! So, in order to prepare the students for this wonderful two-day hard writing weekend, self has been immersing herself in manuscripts. She’s looked at Zack Linmark’s Leche, which is tremendously inspiring for voice work. And she’s reading Tony Robles’s about-to-be-published manuscript Cool Don’t Live Here No More, which is amazing for being about a specific place that he loves so much: San Francisco, South of Market (which may be disappearing under the onslaught of construction and high-tech companies moving in)

She’s also reading the absolutely heartbreaking memoir by Sonali Deraniyagala, Wave. Deraniyagala lost her entire family in the tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004. She lost her parents, her husband, and her two sons. And everyone told her: You’re so lucky you survived! Which just goes to show, people are stupid when it comes to pain. They either don’t feel it, or they feel it but they don’t want to feel it so they fight it and end up doing things like telling a woman whose entire life has been wiped out in one day: Thank the Lord you survived!

She’s also reading Thomas Lynch, who’s a poet but also an undertaker and also a memoir writer. She’s reading Nandini Dhar’s Lullabies are Barbed Nations. She wishes she had something by Atul Gawande and Abraham Verghese but after all, she could not bring her whole personal book collection to Mendocino. She’s still reading Roberto Bolaño and on the basis of the individual sentence, he is amazing. She thinks he has one sentence that goes on for two pages (Translator Natasha Wimmer, self salutes you) She will include the first page of her story “Rufino,” because it’s so far the only one of her short stories that mentions Neil Young. And Luisa Igloria’s poem “Oir” from her collection The Saints of Streets. And that’s as far as she’s taken her reading list at the moment. Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Depth 5: About Self’s Attachment to Books

Books, for self, are the ultimate uncharted territory.

The depth of her love for books knows no bounds.

She was running low on her copies of Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila and Going Home to a Landscape: Writings by Filipinas, but her publisher sent a box of those to Mendocino last week and they arrived safely.

Two other books: Mayor of the Roses and The Lost Language, are in Gallery Bookshop on Main Street. Those copies she signed.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Story “Rufino” (from MAYOR OF THE ROSES, Self’s 2nd Collection)

Towards the end, he couldn’t wear any clothes. They had to cover him in banana leaves.

It was in July he died — I couldn’t believe it. A voice on the phone told me.

“Rufino died na.” It was my mother speaking. Naturally, she had to be the one to break the news.

I was staying in a friend’s house in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the mornings, fog blanketed the hills. We heard the mournful mooing of invisible cows. One or another of us would look east, toward where we heard Neil Young had his ranch, wondering whether we’d catch a glimpse of his pink Cadillac that day.

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Mayor of the Roses was published by Miami University Press in 2005. The press was known as publishers of the American Poetry Series. Self’s collection was the first book of fiction that Miami University Press ever published.

Heartfelt thanks to Brian Ascalon Roley for bringing the manuscript to the attention of the press and Keith Tuma.

The collection’s been taught at Bates College (Maine), Pampanga Agricultural College (Magalang, Philippines), Skyline College, and Stanford University.

One story, “Lenox Hill, December 1991,” was in the syllabus of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, in a course on Ethics and Medicine.

Self Got The Full-On Star Treatment From TAYO Magazine!

Oh the FEEELZ!

TAYO Magazine posted an interview with self.

Check it out.

The banner they used for self’s interview was a picture she took in The Red Room of Café Paradiso in Cork.  That is in fact the ceiling light. Love Ger and her cooking and her warmth and all her fun group of friends who invited self to share their champagne.

Self’s author pic was taken (years ago, cancha tell) by none other than the fabulous Stella Kalaw.

(It’s very funny because self thought all she was doing was having dinner — in Karilagan restaurant, just hailing distance from Max’s in South San Francisco — with Melissa Sipin-Gabon, fiction writer and editor of TAYO, and it turns out what she was actually doing was giving an interview. BWAH HA HA HAAAA!  If only self had an Effie Trinket around to prep for her propo! Any gaffes are entirely her own)

Stay tuned.


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