Quote of the Day: T. J. Stiles

It was reading this quote that persuaded self she needed to join the Authors Guild:

I have supplemented my income with secondary activities. I teach now and then on a freelance basis. I have done some freelance commercial writing. But two years ago I lost my big freelance client, and my income has dropped by 20 to 40 percent a year. In the past, I have resorted to desperate measures. I like to say my last book is so big because it’s a tombstone to the 401k that gave its life so the book could live.

— from “Among the Digital Luddites,” Authors Guild Bulletin, Winter 2015

The Big Picture: Slowly Coming Together

Self has spent the last eight years working intermittently on a World War II novel. She would occasionally make forays into the Hoover Archives and spend the day there, reading memoirs.

Once, she requested an item, some memorabilia an American soldier stationed in the Philippines had taken back to the States with him. She was amazed when a librarian actually came out to talk to her. “We can’t bring the box out here to the reading room. But we can let you take a look at the contents if you follow me.”

So of course she followed the librarian. And he took her a level below. And there were people in an office staring at her. And someone asked, “Is this she?” And the librarian said yes. Then they took out a box and stood back while self looked in it. And, damn. Samurai swords. What?

She was the first person ever to request that particular item, and she’d done it simply on a hunch. Because the man was an American soldier, a survivor of Bataan and Corregidor.

Self never knows where her curiosity will lead her. It sure does lead her to some interesting places.

She knows what happened on Bataan and Corregidor. Of course. She is from the Philippines. She’s been to Corregidor, looked at the American gun emplacements, seen the flag of Japan flying alongside the flag of the Philippines on the quay. She’s walked the maw of Malinta Tunnel, which is said to be haunted.

She read the transcripts of the trial of General Yamashita, responsible for the overall defense of the Philippines, who the Americans convicted of war crimes and hanged in Los Baños (Yamashita’s lawyer was a very young and inexperienced American who knew the only reason he’d been assigned the defense of the general was because he was not expected to win. At the death sentence, the lawyer cried)

But, damn. Hampton Sides. Thank you for laying it all out so vividly. In command of the Japanese Imperial Army was Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma.

Ghost Soldiers, pp. 56 – 57:

There was little point in occupying the Philippines if the Japanese Navy or merchant marine could not freely use the docks and wharves of Manila Bay, the finest natural harbor in Asia. Yet one could not control Manila Bay without controlling Corregidor. Fixed with cannons that could fire twenty miles, honeycombed with deep tunnels and lateral shafts, Corregidor was stuck like a steel bit in the mouth of Manila Bay. The island was shaped like a tadpole, its squirmy tail pointing off toward Manila, its bulbous head aimed at Bataan.

There was only one way for Homma to take Corregidor, and that was for him to move his forces into southern Bataan, array his artillery pieces high along the southern flanks of Mount Mariveles, and rain unmerciful fire down upon the island, softening it up until an amphibious assault could be reasonably undertaken.

It is an axiom of Euclidean geometry that two points cannot occupy the same space, and therein lay Homma’s problem. Before he could move his forces into southern Bataan, the surrendered Americans and Filipinos (80,000 men, approximately) would have to be moved out . . . the Bataan prisoners would have to be hastily cleared away — swept off the stage, in effect, so the next act could begin.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Listen to “Spores,” Read by Morgan Cook

Morgan, an actor from Galway, says this story sounds like “outer space in a North Dublin chip shop.”

He pulled together a reading of it, just to show self why.

Here’s the link to the audio, on decomP Magazine.

It’s the first of self’s dystopian science fiction/fantasy series (written in very cracked syntax). Thanks so much to decomP for giving it a home!

The story (which self wrote in Ireland) begins:

K thinks the boss is in love with her.

She looks like a mosaic puffball, her skin covered with checkered patterns

The boss was born Earthstar. He’d never look her way. His spores were meant to go else: to a Silverleaf. Or a Shag. Not K that smelled like wet rot. All scaly cap and throat gills. She belonged with other Common.

Varnish and varnish. I’ll say this for K: she is tenacious. Especially about her delusions.

“Me mom’s a thick,” she said once. “A focking thick.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Everlark Comments

Self began a new multi-chapter fan fic last week. (It’ll be her 9th; this is really getting out of hand but whatever).

In the last couple of chapters, readers have been more or less agreed:

  • Why does Katniss keep asking Peeta so many questions it is weird but he answers them anyway?

(It’s called: device for advancement of the plot, dah-lings!)

  • This chick has word vomit or something! (Uh-oh!)
  • Katniss has the worst foot-in-mouth tendency ever!

Self finds all these comments somewhat endearing, what the hey!

Self had no idea, none, that her Katniss she was crossing boundaries. Shows you how much she has to learn about modern-day courtship rituals.

One time, self wrote something about a boyfriend visiting his girl in her college (They were having a long-distance relationship) and he ended up spending the night in her dorm room and readers were like: What? That’s so not OKAY! (Really? Why? People did that all the time when — never mind!)

Someone else told her today: Your writing is so different than most (If you only knew, dear Everlark fan fic reader!), it’s so lyrical. My problem is: Why are your chapters so short?

(It’s called subtlety and restraint, dah-ling! Because self is quite the flash fiction writer! Oops! In fan fic, it’s not flash-fiction, it’s called a ONE-SHOT!)

Self finally decided to partner with another Everlark fan fic writer. And together, we are writing an AU to the AU that is all Everlark.

She works hard, self’s collaborator. She has written one of the 10 most-read Everlark fan fics EVER. That is according to statistics compiled by this famous xxx fan fic website. The fact that she agreed to write outtakes for self is so humbling. Not to mention, hers are triple the length of self’s. And so much more funny!

Packed with tattooed girls and bands and grunge clubs. Which of course self has no first-hand knowledge of because she is really a nun writing from a cloister on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Pray Mother Superior doesn’t find out!

Stay tuned.

Starting New Everlark: HEEEELP!

Self, what is wrong with you? At this point in 2016, the last thing you need is to start a new Everlark fan fic.

She posted it as a one-shot last weekend. Just 400 words, no biggie.

Then she got comment after comment. Which kinda got her excited.

This is her story: Peeta is a homeless man, and Katniss is an office worker, and the homeless man strikes up a very innocent conversation with Katniss. Everyone was all like: OMG that is so sweet!

Self wrote 3000 more words in one day! But all the interchanges so far take place on the street and self has no idea how to move the action to Katniss’s apartment. Where it obviously needs to go.

Readers are naturally impatient and begin offering self some helpful hints:

“Umm. Maybe it’s raining and Katniss invites Peeta to step inside?”

Or: “It’s foggy and chilly and Katniss doesn’t want Peeta to freeze to death!”

“She drops her wallet and Peeta retrieves it and Katniss’s address is on the license so he finds her building and rings the buzzer?”

Then, the backstory for why Peeta ended up homeless. More reader suggestions:

  • “Maybe he’s a war vet suffering from PTSD?”
  • “Maybe he was evicted from his apartment because he lost his job and couldn’t make the rent?”
  • “Maybe he’s a filmmaker doing a documentary on the homeless and decides to do guerrilla filmmaking?”
  • “Maybe he was a chef and the restaurant closed?”

Johanna appears in the story as a punk drummer in a rock band that plays in grunge places (fast disappearing in San Francisco but — creative license, after all!) She has a tattoo of a picnic basket on her arm and Gale, Katniss’s current boyfriend, finds that so overwhelmingly hot! Gale is all over that picnic basket tattoo! Hell, yeah!

Turns out Johanna and Peeta are related. Like, distant third cousins. Johanna doesn’t know Peeta has become one of the homeless. Peeta gets hired to model for Cinna because even though he is homeless he still has a pretty good figure. He gets paid $1000 in cash.

New dilemma: What in the heck is self going to have Peeta do with $1000 in cash?

  • Maybe he could open a bank account?
  • Maybe he could buy some new clothes?
  • Maybe he could buy Katniss some flowers?
  • Maybe he could take a few art classes?

Self will sleep on it.

Stay tuned.



Quest: Daily Post Photo Challenge, 23 September 2016

We have a new Daily Post Photo Challenge, dropped today by Cheri Lucas Rowlands, QUEST:

  • What are you in search for? Capture your quest with your camera.

Here are some photos from self’s (huge) stash of photos that she thinks emblemize QUEST:


An Ed Ruscha: Currently on Exhibit at the De Young Museum

And here’s from a handmade book self saw at the Legion of Honor:


Illustrated Book at the Legion of Honor, Text is by San Francisco Poet Wallace Ting

Every new story is a quest. Here are two pages of her draft for “Ice” (forthcoming from Bellingham Review):


Two Pages of Self’s Manuscript for “Ice,” One of Her Dystopian Fantasies

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Thinking About Everlark

It is Friday.

Self is pondering her fan fiction.

Unless you’ve been lost in space for four years, you know that she ships Everlark. And only Everlark.

Her readers — self has no idea who they are, because this is fan fiction. Everyone goes by an alias.

She loves when someone leaves a comment and says: Hey, are you going to update this story? It’s been years!

This morning, she’s re-reading a story by Ronja (who is Swedish, self thinks)

684 days ago, a reader left Ronja this comment:

Por favor, ni de casualidad que me puedo morir de tristeza.

Though self’s Spanish is a bit rusty, she thinks she can figure out the gist.

That’s because Ronja has Peeta engaged to someone else.

In self’s newest fan fic, Peeta is a serial killer. Or at least, a suspected serial killer. And Katniss is a detective (with a few secrets of her own), and her partner is Gale. And just so you know, self frequently gets comments like this on her own fic:

Jesus, can’t your Peeta catch a break?

Well, no, he cannot.


Bodies pop up all over San Francisco.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


“Appetites” (The Café Irreal, Issue 31)


Bakery, Kanlaon City, Negros Occidental, The Philippines

  • When she was a toddler, cook cut everything into tiny morsels so that the girl’s mouth would not stretch and become wide and ugly. The girl ate only the sweetest pastries, only the smallest and most tender eggplants. Cook herself grew these in a corner of the garden, which every summer sprouted with little trees with purple-tinged leaves.

— “Appetites,” published in The Café Irreal, Issue 31

Mourning for Isotope, edited by Christopher Cokinos

Filipinos once had an ancient written language. If I were to show you what the marks look like on a piece of paper,they would look like a series of waves. Like the eye of the Pharaoh I saw in my old high school history books.

— from self’s hybrid essay/memoir/short story The Lost Language, published in Isotope

Isotope was a literary journal based in Utah State. When that university began to make steep budget cuts, the magazine lost the heart of its funding. In 2009, editor Chris Cokinos issued an appeal for support. Terrain.org posted it.

Alas, Isotope lost the fight. Self mourned. It was the only literary journal of its kind, combining science writing and creative writing, a place that joined physicists and playwrights, biologists and memoir writers, and created an exciting new kind of community.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Selfie! Sylvain Landry Year 2 Theme 1

Sylvain Landry’s blog is a meeting place for photographers. Self loves participating in his photo challenges. The first of his Year 2 photo challenges is: SELFIE.

Self hates posing for pictures, but not when she’s taking a selfie. When she takes a selfie, the inner imp emerges and self’s smiles are always big as big. Thank you, Sylvain Landry, for the start of another great year of sharing!

This selfie is special for another reason: She bought the jacket from an Edinburgh department store, and the dress from a Tesco, the year she did a residency at Hawthornden. She was there June 2012. And that is where she met two British writers who ended up being fast friends: the poets Jenny Lewis and Joan McGavin.


Self wearing her Edinburgh jacket and a dress she bought from TESCO: 2012

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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