Setting: Isla del Fuego

from self’s novel:

  • It has a circuit of nearly a hundred leagues and a length of about fifty leagues, for it is very narrow. At the two extremities it is, at the widest place, about twenty leagues wide. All along the coast are to be found bays that curve in different directions.

This, dear blog readers, is self’s mythical island in the central Philippines. The place where her ambitious MC (a priest!) lives out his life, in the 18th century.

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.

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.

Why Always Ice?

Excerpt, work-in-progress

Genre: Fantasy/Horror

Status: 52 pp.

Working Title: The Rorqual

It began with the discovery of a ship, sailing languidly along the ice-clotted harbor. It seemed meandering, yet sure of purpose. It drifted toward shore, riding high in the water.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Bedford Place

The bioethics council operated out of the basement of a Georgian townhouse in Bloomsbury’s Bedford Square, a pretty oval garden popular at night with methadone addicts whose discarded syringes were a regular feature of my walk to work.

Asymmetry, p. 179

Self’s impression of Bedford Square (which she knows very, very well) is quite different. She hasn’t seen a single syringe.

Here’s the view from her room on Bedford Place, which overlooks the Duke of Bedford’s private garden.

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She has to pass Bedford Square every time she goes to the British Museum or the London Review Bookshop.

Stay tuned.

Early Draft: Matias, 1746

Self found an old chapter of her novel-in-progress (which is right now 310 pages; it used to be 323 pages)

This chapter is titled “Education, 1746” and begins:

The Bishop schooled Matias carefully. He gave Matias instruction on the governance of the Islands, and the manner in which the archipelago had come under the tutelage of Spain.

And then the history of the Islands unfolds, from Magellan’s voyage to the succeeding century, and all is told in dialogue.

“I must rest,” the Bishop said. “We shall continue on this topic tomorrow.”

Matias returned to his room and lay, restless and wakeful, far into the night.

Self loves, loves, loves these early drafts. That is fine writing, even if it was done by herself (lol). There is almost no backstory. Matias, the young priest, is being schooled by the Bishop. And it is only the two of them, chapter after chapter. There is a garden, and an old house, and birds, and heat, and the Bishop sometimes takes middle-of-the-night walks in just his nightshirt, and Matias catches him, and there’s light from a thin moon. And then nothing.

The parts self added, she doesn’t really like that they spell out so much history. In fact, the only new parts self likes are the parts during the ship voyage from Cadiz to Manila. And the introduction of four soldiers who escort Matias to the island. But these soldiers serve absolutely no plot. They simply take Matias and leave him there, on the beach. Then an old woman emerges from the forest and dances for Matias, and leaves again. And Matias lives in a swamp with another old woman. And finally he meets a half-breed named Diego.

That’s it! There are no big, dramatic scenes. But maybe that’s the story self wanted to write. Maybe that’s the real story: colonization in a hypnotic state, with no drama.

Ugh, writing in long form is truly difficult. She has to get the words down, but those words mean nothing. It’s only after, when she has to carve them into some kind of meaning. She’s not talking about plot, she’s talking about meaning. Her kind of writing is truly writing without a safety net, for she never has a road map.

She has a friend, Caroline (a member of her writers group, and a fine, fine writer herself) who read her short story collection. Last week, Caroline and self met in a cafĂ© and Caroline told her which stories in the collection could/should be expanded. Caroline is the mother of three young children (all still in grade school) and has just started a graduate program at St. Mary’s, yet she read almost 300 pages of self’s work. That kind of generosity is priceless. These stories are not new, but because of Caroline, self knows which ones she has to try and work on some more.

She hopes she can do all this work in Annaghmakerrig. If she can just. Get. There. Without. Falling. Apart.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Redwood City Public Library Author Series, Fall 2018

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Fireplace Room, Downtown Library, Redwood City

The first reading of the series was Holocaust Survivor, Public Speaker and Memoirist Sylvia Ruth Gutmann, reading from her book A Life Rebuilt: The Remarkable Transformation of a War Orphan. It was held two nights ago, in the Fireplace Room of the Main Library, and self is most happy to report the reading was a resounding success: a sizeable audience packed the room. High Fives to Sylvia Ruth Gutman for kicking off the series on such an auspicious note!

The second reading is a Women Authors Panel featuring self, Lillian Howan and Veronica Montes. Saturday, Sept. 8, 2:30 p.m., at the Fireplace Room of the Downtown Library. Self is a long-time Redwood City resident, and she’s so pleased to be reading with two of her favorite writers!

Veronica Montes’s first book, Benedicta Takes Wing and Other Stories (Philippine American Literary House, 2018), is a sparkling collection of stories about Filipino Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lillian Howan’s first novel, The Charm Buyers (University of Hawai’i Press, 2017) is an extraordinary and powerful love story, set in Tahiti during the last years of French nuclear testing in the Pacific, in the 1990s.

About self: She’s published three collections of short stories (Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, Mayor of the Roses, and The Lost Language) and a novella, Jenalyn (Vagabondage Press), that was a finalist for the 2014 Saboteur Award. She has stories published or forthcoming in Quarterly West, Bellingham Review, Crab Orchard Review, Juked, and Prairie Schooner.

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Books will be available for purchase and signing.

The last event in the series is a reading by Vanessa Garcia, reading from See You at the 7: Stories from the Bay Area’s Last Original Mile House. The 7 Mile House in Brisbane is the only Bay Area mile house operating at its original location. Garcia will read on Sept. 26, 7 p.m., in the Downtown Library Community Room.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

“Sweetheart of the Song Trabong”: Story # 9 of The Things They Carried

For Rat Kiley, I think, facts were formed by sensation, not the other way around, and when you listened to one of the stories, you’d find yourself performing rapid calculations in your head, subtracting superlatives, figuring the square root of an absolute and then multiplying by maybe.

The Hero’s Journey: Two From Self’s Personal Bookshelf

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One takes place in ancient Greece, the other in a post-apocalyptic England.

Self loves them both, so much.

Stay tuned.

Opening Sentence, R. L. Stevenson’s TREASURE ISLAND

Treasure Island (published 1883) Part I Chapter 1:

Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17–, and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn, and the brown old seaman, with the sabre cut, first took up his lodging under our roof.

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