Part 2 of Vanessa Hua’s “Accepted” (Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19, No. 2: Summer/Fall 2014)

Self is hugely enjoying this story.

(Self has written her own Stanford stories, but OMG does Ms. Hua ever kill it)

Rodin Sculpture Garden, Stanford University

Rodin Sculpture Garden, Stanford University

Flipping open my binder, I found a flyer urging Stanford cadets to apply for the ROTC honor roll with the attached form and an unofficial transcript. A reminder I didn’t have grades, and wasn’t enrolled, a reminder I should give up and go home. Surviving day-to-day brought me no closer to becoming an official student. I imagined my father’s disappointment, my father’s words: ignominious, mendacious.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vanessa Hua, “Accepted” (Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19 No. 2: Summer/Fall 2014)

This story (in Crab Orchard Review’s Summer/Fall 2014 issue) is poignant as well as funny.

Self hears this sad girl narrator’s voice in her head, more often than not.

A lie begets a lie that begets another lie and another lie until finally disappointment turns into despair.

The Crab Orchard Review Summer/ Fall 2014 Issue (Special Themed Issue: The West Coast & Beyond)

The Crab Orchard Review Summer/ Fall 2014 Issue (Special Themed Issue: The West Coast & Beyond)

“I hadn’t meant to lie, not at first, but when Jack Min donned his Stanford sweatshirt, after receiving his acceptance (a senior tradition) — I yanked my Cardinal red hoodie out of my locker. When my AP English teacher, Ms. Banks, stopped to congratulate me, I couldn’t bring myself to say, not yet. She’d worked with me on a dozen revisions of my college essay and written a generous letter of rec, and I didn’t want to disappoint her.

Another week passed, and I posed with Jack for the school paper. A banner year for the church our families both attended, and for Sparta High, with two students in a single class admitted to Stanford. When I showed my parents the article as proof of my acceptance, Oppa held the newspaper with his fingertips, as if it were bridal lace he was preserving on a special order.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s Biblical Revisionist “The Ark” (Local Nomad, Spring 2015)

The theme of the Spring 2015 issue of Local Nomad (edited by Filipino American poet Jean Vengua) was: KILLING GROUND.

Jean solicited a story from self; the short story she sent Jean was “The Ark.”

Accepted!

She wrote the story after watching Darren Aronofskly’s wild and fabulous “Noah,” starring Russell Crow and Jennifer Connelly.

  • Cruelty, he taught his sons, was essential.

Animals of all kind fascinate self, she’s not sure why.

Here’s an illustration from a children’s picture book called, simply, The Ark:

Illustration for Children's Book, THE ARK

Illustration for Children’s Book, THE ARK

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Karin Fossum’s Latest: THE DROWNED BOY

From the Review by Tom Nolan in The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 22-23, 2015:

“One has to be careful when judging another person’s grief,” cautions Norwegian police inspector Konrad Sejer, the “wily old fox” in award-winning Norse author Karin Fossum’s latest somber, intelligent, empathetic procedural novel, The Drowned Boy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). “Everyone grieves in his or her own way. Some people want to move on quickly whereas others want to hold on to it, wrap it round them.” Nonetheless, in the face of the weepy but defensive behavior of a 19-year-old mother whose 16-month-old son was found dead in the pond in back of the family house, the inspector concludes: “She has an odd manner, and I don’t believe her.”

The dead child’s father vows never to stop grieving, even as his brisk wife insists that they get on with life.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2nd Quote of the Day: 3rd Wednesday of August 2015

Self is back to reading Howard Jacobson’s novel, The Act of Love.

Oh, the places this book has traveled!

When she really likes a book, she cannot stand to finish it.

She’s on p. 247, when she encounters this fabulous sentence:

All the men in our family my father’s age had themselves whipped as a matter of course.

After self reads that fabulous sentence, she simply can’t stand to read anymore, so many FEELZ to process, so instead she turns to the books she has lined up to read after she finishes The Act of Love:

  • George Eliot’s Middlemarch
  • Leon Werth’s 33 Days, translated from the French by Austin D. Johnston
  • Richard Norton Taylor’s The New Spymasters: Inside Espionage From the Cold War to Global Terror
  • three books by Ruth Rendell (British mystery writer, one of self’s favorites. She passed away May this year): A Judgment in Stone, Tree of Hands, and A Sight for Sore Eyes

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s Very Own Apocalyptic Dystopia

Why on earth would self be quoting from The 100 when she has written her own story of apocalyptic dystopia that was published just a few months ago?

Right? Right?

Here again is something from “The Freeze” (Bluestem, Spring 2015). When she realizes how long the story is — it’s a miracle. It’s written in very hallucinatory prose. And she was able to go on like that, without switching voice, for almost 20 pages? Self is always surprised when she can pull something like that off.

To tell the truth, every one of her speculative fiction stories is an experiment. Beginning with the extremely short story, “The Departure,” published in Philippine Genre Stories (thanks to Charles Tan, who solicited it for their very first issue).

She likes applying the dreamy voice to her science fiction.

Moving along.

There is a very terrifying scene in “The Freeze.” But she will skip right over that because she is quite distressed herself after reading it.

No sign of Annie. She had been taken by a great, invisible force. Up, towards the light? Or down to the sea. Who knew?

If there was no body, there could not be a death. That comforted me.

I walked in the gloomy dark until I heard, far away but distinct, the sound of waves pounding the cliffs.

Descend.

Almost overnight, the temperature dropped, and dropped, and dropped.

Mr. King, the old man who lived next door, said, It’s just a cold spell. It will pass.

But two weeks later, it was dark almost the whole day.

The roses blackened, my teeth chattered in my head.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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:

MASSIVE SPOILER-Y ALERT:

  • 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.

Generation Gap, by Joan McGavin, Hampshire Poet for 2014

DSCN0471
With the Armistice declared,
school was closed
and the children all
ran hilty-skilty
down the brae.
Mum burst into the house —

her brother’s photo
already three years
on the mantelpiece.

Newly
promoted corporal,
he holds
the swagger stick
self-consciously,
glances to the side.

And now she’s gone,
and those questions
one could ask about him
— dead on the Somme —
will need books,
the internet, research,
for any hope of answers —

and between me and my uncle
only the red hair
and my mother
forever saying
how much I reminded her of him.

— by Joan McGavin, Hampshire Poet for 2014

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.

WOE!

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:

http://pankmagazine.com/piece/seeing/

*     *     *     *     *

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)

http://johnjay.jjay.cuny.edu/jjournal/V5N2/Villanueva_MagellansMirror.pdf

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

http://johnjay.jjay.cuny.edu/jjournal/V5N2/Villanueva_MagellansMirror.pdf

*     *     *     *     *

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.

These Characters Self Writes

Self adores FictionFeed.net for doing that piece on her. She’s started following them on Twitter.

The writer of the piece (on her story “First Life” in Juked) is listed simply as Curator. Here’s an excerpt:

No, the story isn’t particularly out of the ordinary, but its narrator (a boy by the name of Dragon) makes up for that in spades, with a wildly unusual voice and bendy-spoon perspective that basically defamiliarize the story’s world in its entirety.

Some time ago, self began writing stories about male characters on the edge, she’s not sure why.

Recently, she’s been thinking of another of her Male-Characters-on-the-Edge, from a story called “Crackers” that appeared in Crab Ochard Review’s The West Coast & Beyond Issue (Vol. 19, No. 2, which is also going to be the focus of a panel in next year’s AWP: Midwest Magazine Searches for West Coast Writers, YAY!).

Crab Orchard Literary Review's The West Coast & Beyond Issue (Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer/Fall 2014)

Crab Orchard Literary Review’s The West Coast & Beyond Issue (Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer/Fall 2014)

Hello, “Crackers” is speculative fiction, so of course crazy. Do not expect real-world Philippines, and you will be okay:

In December 2012, I finally emerged from the wild mountain fastness of the Philippines. My left shoulder had a tattoo of a python, my right a tattoo of a kris, the blade of choice of the mountain tribes. I wore a necklace of red parrot beaks. I spoke only in monosyllables. They said I was crackers.

They made me register at the Palo Alto VA for a psychiatric evaluation.

Thank you, Juked, thank you, Crab Orchard Literary Review, for taking a chance on self’s crazy writing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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