Philippine Dept. of Education Call for Supplementary Materials

Self got an e-mail yesterday from alma mater Ateneo de Manila University. They’d been trying to reach her because the Philippine Department of Education wants to include her first collection of short stories, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, in schools. It will be part of the supplementary learning materials (SLM) for Grades 7 to 12.

You know what that means, self’s Philippine publisher said. That means, they will order copies. Lots of copies. And if the publisher runs out of copies, they’ll have to print some more.

That book, self’s first, was one of five finalists for the Philippines’ National Book Award. She forgets who won that year. She told her Dad about it, and of all the things he could have said, he said this: “Do you know how famous your Mom used to be? She was so famous, she performed in Carnegie Hall!” Self had no answer.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Tell Your Stories, My Dear, You Have So Many of Them

So here’s yet another one.

Dearest Mum was a child prodigy who won The New York Times Piano Competition when she was 13 or 14. Self will find that New York Times article if it kills her! Kills her! She played in Carnegie Hall! Self has a picture of Dearest Mum standing on the stage and taking a bow. She’s in a cute little black dress, white socks, and black Mary Janes. And behind her is a full orchestra.

Carnegie Hall is celebrating its 125th Anniversary with Carnegie Hall Stories. If you have a story that involves Carnegie Hall, now is the time to drop them!

The closest she has come to writing about this family history is in the story “Lizard,” when she has Dearest Mum presenting with a kind of incubus stuck to her back. So heartwarming, self always goes for the cozy and reassuring, in life as well as in art!

That story’s in her first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila.

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Announcing: The First Annual Margarita Donnelly Prize for Prose Writing (Deadline for Entries: Sept. 30, 2015)

Margarita Donnelly's Last AWP, Seattle 2014. Pictured: Margarita and Brenna Crotty, Calyx Senior Editor

Margarita Donnelly’s Last AWP, Seattle 2014. Pictured: Margarita and Brenna Crotty, Calyx Senior Editor

She was indomitable, that is all.

Met her first at: Bookstore in the Mission

Self read her story “Ginseng.”

Margarita went up to self afterwards and asked, “You got more like those?”

(Yes, sitting in a file cabinet; Four years past the Stanford University Creative Writing Program, and self was such a coward that she never sent the manuscript out:  WHEEE!)

What better way to honor her legacy than a prose contest? Calyx, the press Margarita co-founded, launched the Prize on July 1. Here’s the link to their website. The contest is open to both fiction and nonfiction.

  • Deadline for Entries: Sept. 30, 2015
  • Reading Fee:  $20 (check payable to Calyx)
  • Maximum Length of piece:  10,000 words

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vivid 3: A Day’s Peregrinations, Which Include Reading a Short Story in THE BANE CHRONICLES

Today, self re-visited some of her favorite haunts, the locus for some of her most vivid memories.

One was a small shopping center at the intersection of Marsh and Bay Road.

Here they have a great potsticker place and also a very nice breakfast place called Squeezed In which, for some reason, has adopted the motif of aliens. Green aliens. There was this at the entrance, and more hanging inside, on the restaurant walls:

The Aliens Have Landed! On Bay Road!

The Aliens Have Landed! On Bay Road!

Self was so impressed that Sandy has this little thing, made by one of her sons when they were in grade school (St. Raymond’s, where self’s Andrew also went to school. In fact, that’s how Sandy and self met, many many years ago. Now, Sandy’s older boy works in Palo Alto, and her younger boy is in the Navy, stationed in Oahu):

Hanging Above Sandy's desk in her home office!

Hanging Above Sandy’s desk in her home office!

Self’s last stop was Kepler’s Books. Self has read in Kepler’s a couple of times, most memorably when her first book, Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila, was published by Calyx. Today, self stopped by in the hottest part of the afternoon, and wanted to just curl up in a corner and read.

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She began reading The Bane Chronicles (so tempted to buy a copy, but it’s hardcover and quite hefty), the fourth story, called “The Midnight Heir,” which she knows from Goodreads is the story about the Herondales.

Magnus Bane, Warlock, returns to London for the first time in 25 years, and at a party he meets a beautiful 17-year-old boy who reminds him so much of his old friend, Will Herondale. He almost thinks it is Will himself in the flesh, but the boy does not have Will’s blue eyes. When Magnus approaches the boy, he is surprised when the boy addresses him thus:

“You are Magnus Bane.”

Magnus hesitated, then inclined his head. “And you are?”

“I,” the boy announced, “am James Herondale.”

At this point, self wanted to charge the check-out desk, whip out her credit card and exclaim, Put it there! I’m good!

But no, she restrained herself and continued to read:

James: I would not set any great store in it. My father trusts a great many people.

Magnus:  I see that a flair for the dramatic runs in the blood.

So, since young Herondale is so visibly drunk, Magnus undertakes to bring him home and restore him to the loving arms of his parents, who are none other than — Will Herondale and Tessa Gray! Who Magnus has not seen in 25 years! Holy Heavens to Mergatroid!

James Herondale has passed out, and Magnus has to carry him in his arms (the better to scrutinize that darling Will-like face, of course), and the anxious parents come to receive their son, whereby Magnus recounts the events of the evening, which included James riding a bicycle (without using his hands) to Trafalgar Square, climbing to the top of the Nelson Monument and attempting to do battle with Lord Nelson, then trying to drown himself in the Serpentine.

Magnus:  Then he abruptly collapsed, naturally in the path of an oncoming train from Dover, and I decided it was well past time to take him home and place him in the bosom of his family. If you had rather I put him in an orphanage, I fully understand.

Strangely, Tessa has not aged at all in 25 years, but Will has. Yet, to Magnus he is still handsome.

And then Brother Zachariah (Damn him! Self is all WESSA) makes an appearance. And the love between Jem/ aka Brother Zachariah and Will is even more palpable than the love between Jem and Tessa. Holy Mackerel! No wonder 95.6% of all fan fiction about The Infernal Devices is M/M.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2nd Quote of the Day: From Self’s Short Story, “Lizard” Included in the Collection, GINSENG AND OTHER TALES FROM MANILA (Published in the U.S. by Calyx Press)

They must have been sitting there a long time. Her grandmother was leaning forward, saying something in a low, insistent voice, while Wito’s mother listened with bent head. Wito saw how intently her grandmother gazed at her mother, how there seemed to be something about her mother that kept drawing the older woman forward, so that it seemed she might reach out any moment and touch or, perhaps, hit her. Wito saw how her mother hung her head, and knew that she was crying. The back of her neck, covered with fine, black hair, looked narrow and exposed. Wito thought she caught the words shameful and waste, but then her grandmother saw her and broke off aprubtly.

When Wito went up to greet her grandmother, the old woman’s cheek felt dry, like parchment, whereas her mother’s cheek was soft and moist, and when Wito turned to leave, her mother softly said “no” and pulled her close. Her mother’s arms encircled her, forcing her to face her grandmother.

—  Marianne Villanueva, “Lizard,” included in The 100 Best Philippine Short Stories in English, Manila: Tahanan Books, edited by Isagani Cruz

Depth 5: About Self’s Attachment to Books

Books, for self, are the ultimate uncharted territory.

The depth of her love for books knows no bounds.

She was running low on her copies of Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila and Going Home to a Landscape: Writings by Filipinas, but her publisher sent a box of those to Mendocino last week and they arrived safely.

Two other books: Mayor of the Roses and The Lost Language, are in Gallery Bookshop on Main Street. Those copies she signed.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Family 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is FAMILY.

The prompt on The Daily Post site asks:

What is family?  For some, family is defined by genetics.  For others, it is simply those with whom you share a bond of love.

Son and his best friend, Kramer. Kramer's doing a PhD in UC Davis; he used to be in Harvey Mudd.

Son and his best friend, Kramer. Kramer’s doing a PhD in UC Davis; he did his undergraduate work in Harvey Mudd. Photo was taken at Buck’s in Woodside.

Calyx Press, based in Corvallis, OR, published self's first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila. The editors are my second family.

Calyx Press, based in Corvallis, OR, published self’s first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila. The editors became self’s second family.

Gracie being chased by Scots Terrier w/ pee fetish. She passed away in April 2011.

Gracie being chased by Scots Terrier. She passed away in April 2011.

At Some Point, Self Just Knows

There will be no Literature NEA Fellowships for self, unless they dream up a post-humous award.  But for what?

This is self’s 6th or 7th NEA rejection.  She thinks she began applying in 1991, after her first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, was published by Calyx Press.  There was a period of about a decade when self’s confidence was so low that she didn’t even try.  Then, when Niece G enrolled at Stanford, she urged self to keep applying.  Since Niece G’s forceful intervention, self has applied three times.  At some point, it starts feeling really, really . . .  draining and exhausting and humiliating and all of that.  It’s a bear to master the application program, and of all things, during this last round, she was contacted by an NEA staffer to say that her application was incomplete and she had 24 hours to send in her supporting materials.  What?  She checked and double-checked and made sure she submitted everything well before the deadline.  She began sweating bullets and spent an entire day in a state of high nervous anxiety.

This year’s awardees include eight from California (which self thinks is the most number of fellowships awarded to any state).  The next state with the most number of awardees is New York, with five.

*     *     *     *

No One Story acceptance, after XX tries — this is embarrassing.  Shhhh!

She still loves One Story, and keeps up her subscription.

*     *     *     *

The phone rings:  it’s a 202 area code!  Has self won something?  She picks up.  A computer says:  Do you need dental care?  Did you know that . . . 

Of course self needs dental care!  Her teeth are so bad, she’s still paying her dentist $300/month for some crowns, even though she hasn’t been in to see her dentist in a year.  At this rate, she’ll finally get her “balance owed” down to “0” sometime in the spring of 2014.

Ah well, ah well.

*     *     *     *

Did dear blog readers know that they can obtain one of Stella Kalaw’s fantastic prints through Fraction Magazine, on sale through Dec. 31?

*     *     *     *

What about the Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines?  Self decided to look at The Huffington Post.  The most recent post is dated a month ago.  It’s about climate change.  It’s well worth spending a couple of hours reading through each post.  There is a mosaic of perspectives including from the Global Fund for Women in Menlo Park (They donated $500, which is a drop in the bucket, but hey, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth)

Gerry Ruiz, a photographer who lived in Tacloban, has a Facebook page.  Follow the photographs.  There is a definite arc of hope (not to downplay the extent of the devastation, of course).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Lists, January 2013 Edition

The most number of years between visits to Manila:  5

The longest self has ever stayed in Manila since she left for grad school:  4 months

How long it took her to see Ground Zero after 9/11:  7 months

The number of years it took her to produce her one 9/11 story:  8 years

The number of pages in her 9/11 story:  4 pages

The number of pages in Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila:  100

The number of pages in Mayor of the Roses, her second collection:  181

The number of pages in The Lost Language, her third collection:  153

The number of pages in her novella, Jenalyn, out this month from Vagabondage Press:  80

The number of years it took for her to complete her fourth collection, Magellan’s Mirror:  4

The number of years it took her to find the right ending for “Silence,” the story that was shortlisted for the O. Henry Literature Prize:  3

Total number of years she spent in Stanford as a grad student, first in East Asian Studies and then in English with a concentration in Creative Writing:  4

Number of books she read in 2012:  39

Number of books she read in 2011:  44

The longest period of time between checks of Facebook:  a few hours

The number of times she has been to Corregidor:  2

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“The Seeker of Buried Treasure”

This story’s been out for several months now, but self loves it so much, it was one of her “experiments” and she thinks she pulled it off.  Originally, she called it “For the Seeker of Buried Treasure,” but decided it was stronger without the word “For.”

There IS graphic violence in this story —  how could there not be?  It’s about the destruction of Manila, at the end of World War II.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Seeker of Buried Treasure

Tell me where I can find it, the treasure that the Tiger of Malaya stole, the gold Buddha, the bullion.

You remember.

The necklaces of diamonds and jades, ripped from the necks of women.  One had a scar so deep it looked as though a new red mouth had opened there, at the base of her throat.

Tell me why Yamashita was happy when he received the orders to go to Luzon.  Go!  Go!  He was ordered.  Go lead the Imperial Army, salvage its honor, do not retreat, confront that marauding bear, the United States.  Wipe from memory the soldiers singing Yankee Doodle, the Filipinos singing White Christmas.  How those people love Ol’ Blue Eyes.  The Packard is the only car the rich will drive.  And the chauffeurs wear white gloves even in the heat.

Ladies’ Home Journal and Life and Redbook are the most popular magazines.  American hot dog can be had on a stick or on a bun.  You choose.

The young ladies wear bobby socks and pleated balloon skirts.  Some women are dark but they are still beautiful.  Flashing eyebrows, thin like scars, wrists thin as stalks of bamboo.

Self should mention that the woman who took this piece on behalf of Our Own Voice was Aileen Ibardaloza-Cassinetto, who is an editor of the magazine.  So great!  Self was proud to be published by them.  (She just really wishes they had reviewed her collections, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, Mayor of the Roses, and The Lost Language.  Or Going Home to a Landscape:  Writings by Filipinas, which Calyx Press published. Never mind!  It’s an excellent site to discover Filipino and Filipino American writers)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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