Self’s MC Arrives in Manila, 1766

This scene used to be at the end of her novel, because she was going to have her MC recall it in flashback. But on second thought, she couldn’t think of a good enough reason for him to have a flashback at the end of the novel, there was no emotional pay-off. So istead she moved this section to the early pages.

There’s some quasi-mystic thing going on in self’s descriptions, it’s that way throughout.

The sails were lowered, the ship slowly nosed into the harbor. Looking down at the churning water, Matias saw it was viscous, almost metallic in aspect, as though, somewhere, silver had moltened and now lay floating on the surface. Closer and closer to the harbor the ship moved. The ship was now but one of a throng of sea vessels: galleons, tall three-masters, swiftly moving Chinese sampans, squat dinghies. There was a great tumult of activity all along the quay.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s MC Takes His First Banca Ride

Several weeks ago, I experienced my first banca ride. The banca is a long, narrow boat, made from the hollowed-out trunk of a tree, that has two long bamboo outriggers on either side for balance. I have watched with fascination as these boats darted across the sea, nimble as dragonflies. With great excitement, I accepted the offer of one of these islanders to go exploring.

I and my guide set off at dawn. There is an island off the eastern shore of Isla del Fuego, which he assured me most solemnly was populated by witches.

Blue Water, Distant Shores, p. 29

Seriously shopping for a publisher now. So disheartening that a lot of the independent presses say “Not accepting submissions.”

Stay tuned.

 

Fabrications

Self is getting a little loopy with her readings on Philippine history. At least, despite the lack of fresh air (due to her not leaving her cottage all day) and the soreness of her fingers (from constant typing), she’s been able to add to her treasure trove of

INVENTED CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN HIS MAJESTY CARLOS III AND THE GOVERNOR GENERAL OF MANILA

An excerpt:

To His Sacred Royal Majesty Carlos III

I arrived in Manila on the 25th of June of the year seventy-nine to assume my post. I learned that in the three months prior to my arrival, Manila had once again been attacked by our cousins the Portuguese, and that the shipyards in Cavite had been put to the torch. I was also informed that the King of Jolo, a Mahometan, had refused our demands for tribute, putting to death the officer who had delivered our demand, one Sancho Ortiz de Alvarez.

The morale of the garrisons in the main island of Luzon is very low. The aide-de-camp, one Martin de Peñafrancia, was lacking in experience, and his interpreter, an indio named Hernando, could speak Spanish, but not well.

The letter goes on in this vein for several more paragraphs.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Novel-in-Progress: Blue Water, Distant Shores

Self added a scene to her novel-in-progress today and is quite happy with it (p. 68 of 341 pp.)

Murcia, 1762

Father Soriano: “Is there no end to your obstinate impudence? What can you hope for?”

Matias: “Why, to fight against devils.”

Father Soriano: “I should strike you for such impiety. What makes you think you can fight against devils?”

Matias: “I shall strike them in the belly and when they least expect it. The Lord shall assist me.”

Father Soriano: “What impudence! The Lord assist — you? Ask away, then. I doubt He will listen.”

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Work-in-Progress: Blue Water, Distant Shores

In which self’s MC, a feckless guy from Murcia named Matias, confesses to the local Abbott that he has suddenly been struck by “the call.” Year: 1764.

Abbott: You have never evinced interest.

Matias: Can one not be struck by the desire? It came to me suddenly.

Abbott: When?

Matias: After the recent flood.

Abbott: I see.

Matias: I was afraid. I promised Saint Anne I would enter the priesthood if she but stopped the wind from howling.

That is one of the passages self happens to really like, whether or not it is historically accurate.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Two Pieces Out, One Upcoming

Self is in the issue of Jellyfish Review curated by Grace Loh Prasad: SIGN. The pieces are so delicious and fun. All are really different, showing what self has always known: FLASH RULES. Grace’s opening essay is kick-ass.

(BTW: Seventeen Syllables will be reading at San Francisco LITCRAWL, 19 October, 6:30 – 7:30, at FELLOW, 820 Valencia Street, on the theme: Strangers and Ghosts! These readings are always SRO. Be sure and COME EARLY!!!)

Another story, Tu-an Ju (dystopian science fiction), just came out in Vice-Versa, the University of Hawai’i at Manoa’s e-zine. The theme for the issue was Otherworld/Underworld, a theme self felt could have been tailor-made just for her. Thank you to Pat Matsueda, Lillian Howan and Angela Nishimoto for putting this issue together.

And vol. 3 of msaligned is coming soon! Thanks again to Lillian Howan for soliciting a piece specifically for this volume, and Pat Matsueda for editing the series.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

How To Stoke the Fire: More from Rosario Ferré

This summer self made a stab at re-reading the late Rosario Ferré’s story collection The Youngest Doll. She remembers being stunned by the title story, the first time she read it. The intervening years have not changed her response to the story, not one bit. She urges everyone interested in feminist literature/island literature/Puerto Rican literature or just plain literature to read it.

In addition, self has been slowly re-reading Ferré’s essay on her writing process, The Writer’s Kitchen. The essay was published decades ago, in the Journal of Feminist Studies, but every time self re-reads it, the words are as fresh as the first time.

20190928_205621

HOW TO STOKE A FIRE

I would now like to speak a bit about that mysterious combustible element that feeds all literature — imagination. This topic interests me because I often discover, among the general public, a curious skepticism toward the existence of the imagination and because I find that both laypeople and professionals in the literary community tend to overemphasize the biographical details of authors’ lives. One of the questions most often asked of me, by strangers as well as friends, is how I was able to write about Isabel la Negra, a famous whore of Ponce, my hometown, without ever having met her. The question always surprises me because it bespeaks a fairly generalized difficulty in establishing boundaries between imagined reality and lived reality, or perhaps the difficulty lies only in understanding the intrinsic nature of literature. It would never have occurred to me to ask Mary Shelley, for example,  if on her walks along the bucolic paths surrounding Lake Geneva, she had ever run into a living-dead monster about ten feet tall.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Featured in Jellyfish Review: Flash by Seventeen Syllables

Grace Loh Prasad curated, Roy Kamada’s Grey Matter has just posted.

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

More goodness — from Caroline Kim Brown and Grace herself — to follow.

Grace’s introductory essay, here.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Photo-A-Week Challenge: STACKED

Fun Challenge this week from Nadia Merrill’s Photo-a-Week:

  • STACKED.

A stack of one of self’s short story collections: The Lost Language

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Published by Anvil Press of the Philippines, TEN YEARS AGO!!!!

A stack of books at the London Review Bookshop, May 2019

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London Review Bookshop: May 2019

On one side of London’s Russell Square is the newly renovated Kimpton-Fitzroy. Love the stacks of ornate, ironwork balconies:

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The Kimpton-Fitzroy off Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SIGN: Flash Stories by the members of Seventeen Syllables, curated by Grace Loh Prasad for Jellyfish Review

From the Introduction by Grace Loh Prasad:

A hand or patch over one eye. A rainbow flag. A kneeling athlete. An eggplant emoji. A thumb pointing down.

What do these have in common? They are all symbols, representing something more than what is literally pictured. A symbol is a kind of sign — at its simplest, a unit of meaning. Whether they’re labels for places or ideas, indicators of prestige or health, or warnings of what’s ahead, signs operate at a level deeper than language. A sign is like a boat, but instead of water it navigates through meaning, through a shared set of references within a community.

Read the rest of the introduction, here.

Stay tuned.

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