First Sentence, New Story/ And Self’s Discovery of a New Fantasy Book Series

  • Let me tell you about wind.
Self was going to take a picture for this week's WordPress Photo Challenge, instead she got distracted by bars of light . . .

Self was going to take a picture for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, instead she got distracted by bars of light . . .

It is a red-letter day. Self started a new series by Christopher Paolini. The first book of the series, Eragon.

Over the years, she has had much cause to thank various nieces, nephews, sons of friends who tell her, “Read this! You won’t regret it!” She thought it would be fun to compile a list of series she started because niece/nephew/children of friends brought them to her attention. Here goes:


  • The Hunger Games: Thank you to Niece G, who saw self reading Twilight and told her: “You should read The Hunger Games.” Self put off finishing Book 1 (the last 50 pages) because she thought Peeta was going to die. Until, one fine day, she spilled her angst to Niece G and Niece G said, “Peeta makes it.” Then self had to rush back home because she needed to finish the last 50 pages she’d put off reading. For three years. Two books later, self was a goner. How deep into this stuff is self? She even entertained the notion of meeting up in Dallas for a convening of Everlark fan fiction writers)
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief:  Thank you to son of Gayo A.
  • The Infernal Devices: Thank you to niece in Calgary, Karina Villanueva.
Karina in Calgary: So Adorbs!

Karina in Calgary: So Adorbs!

  • Eragon: Thank you to Isaac S. At first self thought she would never get over The Infernal Devices — the angst! The Victorian Steampunk! London and York! — but Isaac thought she just might like this new series, so anyhoo, she gave it a shot. Hoooooly Smoke !!!! The Prologue was — mind-blowing.

Also just began reading Kass Morgan’s The 100 (which she heard is very different from the CW TV series). The plot goes something like this: 100 juvenile delinquents get sent to Earth to re-populate it. YAY!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Never Forget This

Self was about to start grad school at Stanford University.

Dearest Mum went with her. We did a jaunt to LA and stayed with a distant relative in Glendale.

The relative’s name was Lucy. She was living with an American guy named Bob. She drank a tall glass of green liquid every morning, she said it was good for you: pure chlorophyll.

Self tried a bit and it tasted disgusting, the consistency of mucus.

One night, Dearest Mum and self returned to Lucy’s home to find it dark, locked, nobody home. We drove around for hours, just waiting for Lucy to show up. This was the era before cell phones, so the only recourse we had were to use payphones.

Dearest Mum spied one in front of a liquor store. She said, Get in there and use the phone.

Self said, What? No! It’s a liquor store!

Nevertheless, self being a very obedient 21-year-old, she got down from the car and used the payphone that was right in front of the entrance. Dearest Mum remained in the car. When self turned around after making a series of fruitless calls to Lucy, she saw that a car had pulled up right next to Dearest Mum. Two men were inside that car, staring intently at Dearest Mum, who was clutching the steering wheel with both hands. Self would call that “a white-knuckle clutch.”

Whereupon, self jumped back into the car, Dearest Mum va-voomed out of the parking lot with screeching tires, and we drove around and around for two more hours, until we were pulled over by a policeman.

The policeman walked over to Dearest Mum’s window and shone a flashlight straight into her face.

What is it, Officer? Dearest Mum coo-ed in her sweetest, most girl-y voice.

Ma’am, we pulled you over because we thought you might be drunk.

What? Me? Drunk? Dearest Mum’s voice dripped outrage.

Well, the Officer said, I see you’re not drunk, Ma’am. But here’s the thing: me and my partner have been following you for a bit because: A) You braked on a green light; B) You switched lanes in the middle of an intersection; and C) This is the fourth time you’ve passed this corner.

BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAAA! Self had to assume her best poker face during the exchange.

Now I’ll tell you what, Ma’am, quoth the cop. You see this big intersection right here? You make a left at that intersection, and you keep going, and you keep going, and you don’t stop until you see this big hotel, and you wait in that hotel for your friend to get home.

Self doesn’t know why it never occurred to her to share this story before.

Stay tuned.

Various Achievements, 2014

Self’s been to southern California a lot this year. And one of the nice things about being in southern California is: There are a LOT of her Dad’s side of the family living there.

Had dinner with one branch of the Villanuevas at Max’s in Glendale (There’s a branch in South San Francisco that was one of son’s faaaavorite restaurants when he was growing up), which included Llana, the daughter of self’s first cousin Eddie Villanueva (or Estoy, as everyone in Bacolod calls him), Llana’s husband, and Llana’s stepson. Oh joy!

Llana (in the middle) is the daughter of my Manong Eddie, which makes her my niece!

Llana (in the middle) is the daughter of self’s Manong Eddie, which makes her self’s niece! She is absolutely adorable.

Another thing readers of this blog might have gleaned is that self has a weakness for ice cream. She loves discovering new ice cream flavors and new ice cream stores. One of the places she’s been hearing about FOREVER is Mitchell’s Ice Cream in San Francisco. Even though it’s right around the corner from the place where her writers group sometimes meets, she’s always been too intimidated by the line snaking out the door to stop for a look-see.  Finally, though, self decided she just couldn’t let more time go by without trying Mitchell’s ice cream. She went in and ordered “young coconut” (buko) Oh my, it was heavenly:

Mitchell's Ice Cream is Nirvana!

Mitchell’s Ice Cream is Nirvana!

This was also the year when self saw her first hedgehog! Self spotted it at the San Francisco Zoo.

Self seems to have terrified this adorable little hedgehog, huddled in a pen in the San Francisco Zoo.

Self seems to have terrified this adorable little hedgehog, huddled in a pen in the San Francisco Zoo.

This is an event of some significance because self has been on such a tear, writing story after story after story, and in one of her new stories (science fiction, started while at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland), hedgehogs play a very important role (Just because self had never, ever laid eyes on an actual hedgehog wasn’t an impediment to writing a story featuring hedgehogs). A very mean boss who happens to be Earthstar makes pejorative remarks at a peon and calls him a “lousy hedgehog.” Which is just about the worst insult one can utter, in the year 2104.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

On Top 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

As the week wears on, WordPress bloggers invariably start getting creative with the photo challenge.

Here are a few bloggers’ interpretations of this week’s theme:  ON TOP

Niece G lived and taught in San Francisco for five years.  She moved back to New York City last year. This was the last time self visited her at her apartment on Folsom Street.  Self really misses her.

Niece G lived and taught in San Francisco for five years. She moved back to New York City last year. On the day self took this picture, her niece was in the process of packing up her things. Self really misses her.

One of self's fondest memories of Summer 2013 was the picnic before the Cal Shakes production of "Romeo and Juliet." It was her birthday, July 14. Son spent his first summer home in almost 10 years.

One of self’s fondest memories of Summer 2013 was the picnic before the Cal Shakes production of “Romeo and Juliet.” It was her birthday, July 14. Son spent his first summer home in almost 10 years.  This year, she wants to see at least two Cal Shakes plays.

Wall Frieze Over a Door in the Daku Balay, Bacolod City

Wall Frieze Over a Door in the Daku Balay, Burgos Street Bacolod City.  Dear Departed Dad grew up in the Daku Balay (Literal Trans. “Big House”). At the time of the house’s construction (in the 1930s), it was the tallest structure in the whole of Bacolod City.

Tomorrow is a busy, busy day, as self will be traveling.  But she will have her laptop wherever she goes, so she’ll keep blogging.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Law # 13 of Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power

Why, why, why when self has a ga-zillion things on her mind — like leaving the day after tomorrow for London, and figuring out how to use her new external hard drive, and leaving comments on a friend’s book-length short story collection, not to mention poring over those just-so-good-it-hurts Everlark stories on (the one she’s most obsessed with right now involves Peeta working the Capitol as a male escort while a clue-less Katniss tends to her two children by Gale back in 12) — why, with all of these things going on, does self still feel the nead to reach up to the shelf above her Mac-Mini and pull down The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene?  What could be the reason, what could be the attraction?

Nevertheless, open the book she does, and lands on Law # 13.

Keys to Power:

In your quest for power, you will constantly find yourself in the position of asking for help from those more powerful than you.  There is an art to asking for help, an art that depends on your ability to understand the person you are dealing with and to not confuse your needs with theirs.

Most people never succeed at this, because they are completely trapped in their own wants and desires.  They start from the assumption that the people they are appealing to have a selfless interest in helping them.  They talk as if their needs mattered to these people — who probably couldn’t care less.  Sometimes they refer to larger issues: a great cause, or grand emotions such as love and gratitude.  They go for the big picture when simple, everyday realities would have much more appeal.

(This sounds almost word for word like something one of her Bacolod cousins told her last year.  What very smart relatives self doth have!)



What, what, what is self saying.

Time to go to bed.

Stay tuned.


Week Before AWP Exhaustion and Self Is Already Exhausted

So, what better way to lose herself for a few minutes, or even an hour, than in reading Hunger Games fanfiction?  She found a really good one today.  Dear blog readers will probably laugh but it is no joke:  one of self’s bookmarked sites is

No, self will not go there.

Instead, she continues with Divergent.  Because the movie — well, the movie stars Shailene Woodley.  And self loves Shailene Woodley.  She’s loved her ever since The Descendants.

These are the young actresses self particularly loves:  Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt (well, she’s a bit older; still, self loves her), Jena Malone and Shailene Woodley.  Oh!  She also likes Felicity Jones.  She liked Natalie Mendoza in The Descent.  She likes Lilly Collins. And Lupita Nyong’o who was absolutely incandescent in 12 Years a Slave.

Where were we?

Oh yes, Divergent.

On p. 33, self finds out a little bit more about the world of the book:

The narrator’s father has returned from a hard day at work.  He is some kind of political leader.

The narrator explains:

The city is ruled by a council of fifty people, composed entirely of representatives from Abnegation, because our faction is regarded as incorruptible, due to our commitment to selflessness.  Our leaders are selected by their peers for their impeccable character, moral fortitude, and leadership skills. Representatives from each of the other factions can speak in the meetings on behalf of a particular issue, but ultimately, the decision is the council’s . . .  It has been that way since the beginning of the great peace, when the factions were formed.  I think the system persists because we’re afraid of what might happen if it didn’t:  war.

Self loses herself in conjecture.  To tell the truth, self belongs in a faction like Abnegation.  But she longs to break out of it because it is just, so, so — limp. For instance, p. 34:  “We aren’t supposed to speak at the dinner table unless our parents ask us a direct question, and they usually don’t.”

Members of Abnegation must be humble and self-effacing all the time.  They must not take pride in their looks or in their character or in their intelligence or in their creativity.

What. A. Terrible. Way. To. Be.

Self knows, because she spent — oh, about 80% of her life doing all those self-abnegating things.  And it did her not. One. Bit. Of. Good.

Until self suddenly had this mind-blowing revelation, courtesy of Manang Marilou of Bacolod:  Nobody cares if you are miserable.  So you might as well be happy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Claremont, Day 3: Yoganette Studio, West Covina

Niece, Llana, chatting with Andrew and Jennie after the yoga workshop at Yoganette, West Covina.

Niece, Llana, chatting with Andrew and Jennie after the yoga workshop at Yoganette, West Covina.

Attended 2-hour yoga workshop at Yoganette in West Covina.

Self had such a workout!  She sweat buckets.

One of the workshop leaders, Llana, is the daughter of her Bacolod cousins, Mae and Manong Eddie Villanueva.

Llana was a great teacher:  kind and patient and very helpful.  Plus, she has a great yoga voice.  Hypnotic.  Self could feel her neurosis spinning out of herself, slowly but surely.

How self would love to say she lost 5 lbs. in two hours.  Dream ON, self!

Llana chatting with us after the workshop.

Llana chatting with us after the workshop.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

More Selfies: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self’s selfies — Bwah. Ha. Ha. — are sooo Read the rest of this entry »

Family 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

From the prompt on The Daily Post website:

“. . . family is something that most of us care deeply about and that we find around us every day. Photographing our family not only gives us the chance to share something close to our heart, but affords us the opportunities often required to capture an image in a very special way.”

Son and his cousins William and Chris Blackett, visiting from New York City

Son and his cousins William and Chris Blackett, visiting from New York City

Saw this duckling brood on the campus of the University of Miami, which self visited in November.

Saw this duckling brood on the campus of the University of Miami, which self visited in November.

Manong Junior, self's cousin, at his home in Bacolod.  It was his birthday.  He invited self to a lunch at the Daku Balay, but self had a flight to catch.

Manong Junior, self’s cousin, at his home in Bacolod. It was his birthday. He invited self to a lunch at the Daku Balay, but self had a flight to catch.

“Sleepy Hollow” Last Night (First Monday of November, 2013)

Self loves books.

Self loves books and movies.

She also loves “Game of Thrones” the TV series.  And “Justified.” And “Sleepy Hollow.”

So, let’s go to last night’s episode of the last item on the above list.

Before she spills about how she completely forgot what night of the week it was (The Man always comes to her rescue!), she would just like to say:

Where did the producers unearth this Tom Mison fellow?  He is absolutely the killer Ichabod Crane of all Ichabod Cranes, the ne-plus-ultra of Literary-Characters-Lurking-in-Early-America-Waiting-To-Be-Discovered-For-TV.  He had the British accent down pat, and self was applauding his elegant approximation of a British accent until — until she discovered he was actually British. Oh, so he is just sounding like himself, then?  Bring on more of those Brits!  Any more who look like him?  Lurking on the stage of the National Theater, perhaps?

Anyhoo, in last night’s episode, he was kidnapped.  Kidnapped, you say?


Yes, kidnapped!  After being incapacitated with a paralyzing agent from a blow dart!  He was mourning at the foot of his wife’s grave in the cemetery!  Which was of course the logical place for the baddies to find him!  Always look in the cemetery if you want to find Our Man Ichabod!

Then, Nicole Beharie, who plays his trusty and loyal cop-friend, Abby Mills, goes into full-on attack mode, even springing her sister from the mental asylum where she’s been holed up for the last 20 years, just so the sister (who happens to have the most evil eyebrows this side of “Carrie”) can assist her in finding a “Sin Eater” to eat Ichabod’s “sin” and break his bond with the Headless Horseman of the Apocalypse so that said Horseman can rampage at will over present-day New York State and thereby ensure many, many seasons of mayhem that will throw our darling pair, Ichabod and Abby, into ever more perilous situations, which will require them of course to fall in love.

There!  That’s where it all ends up!

And if you, dear television viewer, were so dense as to believe that drinking poison would actually finish off Our Man Ichabod, then you have got to repeat Television Viewing 101, because you get an F!  The only purpose of the drinking-of-the-poison scene was so that Abby could fling herself at Ichabod and show him how much she really, really cares.

Self must confess:  the reason she started watching “Sleepy Hollow” was because one of her Bacolod cousins started posting on Facebook pictures of the handsome Mison.  There was some chatter about whether he could be related to the Bacolod Misons.  Because, after all, his last name and theirs are spelled exactly the same way.  And with his dark coloring, he might conceivably have some islander blood.  And this talk was making self’s head spin.  So one of the first things she did after getting back to the ol’ US of A was ask The Man to find an episode of “Sleepy Hollow,” which he very charmingly did, in something like five minutes, at which point self could not get over the fact that Tom Mison reminds her a bit of a young Keanu, though his eyes are of a somewhat lighter shade.

The Man noticed that Nicole Beharie/Abby Mills was “cute.”

And so, dear blog readers know where self will be, every Monday at 9 p.m., until the last episdoe of “Sleepy Hollow” Season 1!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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