Transition: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is TRANSITION.

Some examples from The Daily Post:

  • a photo of your little one’s first steps
  • a sunset scene, as your world passes from day to night
  • waves kissing a shoreline, the space between land and sea

Self took this picture during a stopover at the Zurich airport, early this month:


Sunset: Zurich International Airport, early November

And here’s a picture self took from a cab as it crossed a bridge over the Arno River in Florence:


Crossing the Arno River, early November

The leaves in Florence were turning, when self and her niece were there in early November:


Park, Florence: Early November

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Still Thought # 20: “Weeds Do Not Easily Grow On a Field Planted With Vegetables”

The above Still Thought is from a publication called STILL THOUGHTS: MASTER SHIH-CHENG YEN, which self picked up from a Manila Book Fair, about 20 years ago. Never before or since has she heard of Sage Master Shih-Cheng Yen.

Self is presently using Still Thoughts to calm down because she is so not-happy with her internet connection.

Do you know how many times she’s tried to load pictures for Careful # 2: her would-be second post on The Daily Post Photo Challenge this week?

Each time, the system does this little poky dance, and then she gets the horrible Red X with the message: System Error.

Then she has to begin all over again.

But there is one spot that continues to shine like a beacon in all this dross that is self’s current internet experience.

And that is, each time she clicks on a bookmark to an Everlark Fan Fiction website, no matter what the website, and no matter how poky her internet connection, like a gear slipping into a groove, her MacBook goes straight to the site and the whole comforting nest of Katniss/Peeta stories unfurl before self. It’s as if self has rubbed the magic lamp and said the magic words and HOLY SMOKE THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL.

This evening, self is going down a list of questions from Everlark fans. The questions are as follows:

Do you know of any fan fiction where Katniss and Peeta build a blanket fort?

Do you know of any canon-divergent Quarter Quell stories?

Do you know of any Canon AU One-shots?

Do you know of any fics with Peeta-Hits-a-Force-Field scenes?

Do you know of any fics that have Dark Peeta?

Do you know of any fics that have Kidnapped-But-Not-Hijacked Peeta?

Do you know of any fics where Peeta is popular and Katniss is a loner?

Do you know of any fics where Katniss is a bartender?

Do you know of any fics based off the movie Jurassic World? (Indeed, self can name one, right off the bat: Raptors Out of Containment)

Are there any Cinderella/Everlark fics? (You betcha!)

And now, self simply must get to reading her current fan fiction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s Speculative Fiction: Short on Science, Long on Speculation

Self’s science fiction may be a little short on the science, but it has everything to do with story-telling.

She is thinking about her stories today because last week she was in San Francisco and popped into Borderlands, the Science Fiction Bookstore on Valencia. So wonderful to browse! Self saw many, many books she wanted to read. There were new books from China Mieville, Joe Hill, and Jo Walton, to name a few.

Borderlands, Valencia Street, San Francisco: All Science Fiction, All Fantasy, All the Time

Borderlands, Valencia Street, San Francisco: All Science Fiction, All Fantasy, All the Time

This is the problem with going to a bookstore: self ends up leaving with loads of books that she then has to pack into a suitcase and then haul that suitcase around on her travels and the experience is just painful.

Anyhoo, self had been thinking for quite a while of starting to put together a new collection, and is leaning more towards having it all be science fiction. She might lead off with “Spores,” which her friend Morgan Cook turned into an MP3 Audio File, early this year.

This excerpt is from “Spores” (Trigger warning: profanity)

“Me mum’s a thick,” K said once. “A fecking thick. A root rotter.”

“Hit brew and all?” I asked.

“12 pints one go, honest,” K said. She silent the rest of the day.

I grew weary of K.

Self’s story “First Life,” published by Juked in July, is again “nothing but strange,” to quote from The first sentence:

Ever since they moved our colony from Tonle Sap to the Philippines, my mind hasn’t been the same.

And then there’s “Thing,” which came out in the New Orleans Review in 2012, about Animal Rehabilitation Center, Sector 6, where the results of heinous lab experiments are tended to by a rag-tag group who are barely human themselves.

And “Magellan’s Mirror,” which J Journal published and nominated for a Pushcart (The Philippines populated by a race of giants)

And “Vanquisher,” which self wrote as a sequel to “Magellan’s Mirror,” in which Juan de Salcedo turns into a kind of vampire.

And there’s “The Forest,” about a man whose wife has just let him, and whose sister offers, out of the kindness of her heart, to turn him into a spotted deer or an eagle.

And there’s “Ice,” which is set in a future Earth whose surface is covered with ice:

Out there, ice caps, cold as knives.

Steam from her mouth, his mouth, none from the boy who lay between them. She knowing what but not able to bear it.

And of course, “The Freeze,” in Bluestem Magazine early this year, in which a woman loses her entire family when a catastrophic freeze descends on the planet (The rumor is that the Russians started it) and decides to walk to Mexico.

And “The Departure” (2011 Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s annual Best of Horror list), in which a woman looks up at the sky just in time to see a giant hand appear and go left to right, the gesture of a teacher erasing a blackboard. Next thing she knows, her face has sprouted glass.

And her short short “The Ark,” in which Noah is unbelievably cruel to the animals under his care.

And “Sofia,” in which a woman is visited by her great-great-grandfather, to tell her she is . . . (No spoilers here)

And her piece in Witness, about a man who is the last living person on Earth to have actually tasted a mango.

And she has other stories: stories about “breeder” sweaters (Women wear the sweaters to help them conceive) and lonely Cyclops (“I Am Cyclops,” published in Lillian Howan’s Nimbus Cat)

And another about the lost city of Atlantis, discovered 1715 (“Residents of the Deep”)

And another story called “The Great Emptying of the Three Triangles” which is a Power Point presentation on desertification.

And another called “Harvest” in which a young girl’s mother walks around all day dressed in nothing but a mink coat and her best friend vanishes from a field during an insect harvest.

And another called “Eating” in which a girl’s mother forces her to eat and eat and eat until the girl feels she is about to die.

And another called “Appetites” in which a girl sends her nanny off into the wide, wide world to search for a particular delicacy the girl wants to taste (This one’s published on CafĂ© Irreal)

And “Isa,” which is about the last two remaining islands on Earth (published by Rogue Magazine in their Bacolod issue).

And one in which a Fetch appears to a father mourning the loss of his daughter.

And one about a dictator’s Special Research Project (This one’s included in her first collection, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila)

Phew! Too many stories to list.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Irish Women Playwrights/ American Film Actors

In late September, self was in Cork, Ireland. The Cork International Short Story Festival was happening. One of the featured readers was American writer Kelly Link.

Self attended Link’s reading, held in the Triskel Art Centre, a converted church.

There were many, many wonderful things that happened that night, not the least of which was meeting Kelly Link and getting a signed copy of her new collection of stories, Get In Trouble.

Self struck up a conversation with another woman who happened to be seated directly in front of her. Turned out the woman was a Dublin playwright who had come to Cork simply to attend the short story festival.

The woman and self exchanged e-mails. She made self promise never to blog/tweet about her, or reveal her name. Self gave her solemn promise.

And then she roamed the internet, looking for the woman’s plays.

She found an article by Eileen Kearney, in Colby Quarterly, Vol. 27, Issue 4. It spans the Twentieth Century up to 1991. Many new Irish women playwrights have emerged since 1991, of course, but here was a start.

And, just to show you how playwriting is very deep in Ireland’s bones, a national women’s playwright competition sponsored by The Irish Times drew 188 plays in the first year alone.

Here are the playwrights mentioned in the article (Self will never reveal which of these belongs to the woman she met in Cork last month):

Geraldine Aron * Mary Elizabeth Burke-Kennedy * Marina Carr * Anne Devlin * Mary Halpin * Anne Le Marquand Hartigan * Jennifer Johnston * Marie Jones * Harriet O’Carroll * Christina Reid * Carolyn Swift * Dolores Walshe

Dear blog readers know very well how much self loves plays. She went to Galway simply to catch Star of the Sea there. In April, she went to Minneapolis for the AWP Conference and caught a performance of Joe Dowling’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Just last week, self caught Cal Shakes’ King Lear, with Anthony Heald.

When she was a college student, at the Ateneo de Manila, she wrote plays, and acted in them, too.

Her love of movies is deeply connected to her love of plays, her love of theatre.

Perhaps, if self finds time, she will post about the three movies she has seen this month: The Martian, Pawn Sacrifice, and The Walk. Each of those movies features these American actors at the very top of their game: Matt Damon, Tobey Maguire, Peter Sarsgaard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Usually, come the end of the year, the Oscar contenders get trotted out by the movie studios. And usually, a number of Oscar contenders will feature British actors like Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch. Or Australian actors like Russell Crowe.

Self thinks it is wonderful that the American actors are so dominant in this fall’s movies.

But, she digresses. She has to get going. Perhaps more, later?

Stay tuned.

Monochromatic 5: Alberta, Canada, Spring 2015

Today will be her last post on this week’s post: MONOCHROMATIC.

She had no idea, when the prompt was posted a week ago, that she’d find so many pictures to post.

Earlier this year, self was in Banff for the Annual Writing Studio. What an amazing experience it was. She definitely feels confident in her novel now.

Banff, Spring 2015

Banff, Spring 2015

Before she arrived in Banff, she spent a few days with her cousin, Mike Villanueva, in Calgary. So much fun! Mike and his wife Pixie took self to the Royal Terrell Dinosaur Museum, where she saw the most fantastic exhibits. Here’s a picture she took of an underwater dinosaur.

At the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum, Alberta, Canada

At the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum, Alberta, Canada

Driving to the Dinosaur Museum with her cousins, self discovered the true meaning of prairie:

Prairie: Alberta, Canada

Prairie: Alberta, Canada

Looking back at the pictures she took for the theme MONOCHROMATIC, there was:

  • Alberta, Canada
  • Annaghmakerrig, Ireland
  • Cambridge, England
  • Half Moon Bay, California
  • Yorkshire, England

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Monochromatic 3: Costume Designer’s Sketch, Book Cover, a Weathervane in Cambridge, UK

Loved the delicacy of this page, depicting an iconic character:

Katniss, page from Costume Designer's Sketch Book for The Hunger Games

Katniss, page from Costume Designer’s Sketch Book for The Hunger Games


Self purchased Lucifer Princeps at the Atlantis Bookstore in London’s Museum Way. The bookstore specializes in all manner of things related to the occult. Since self is writing a novel about an 18th century Spanish priest who is sent to the Philippines specifically to battle demons, she thought the book might come in handy.

Lucifer Princeps: Book Detail

Lucifer Princeps: Book Detail


Self took the picture below while she was on a Jack-the-Ripper tour of Whitechapel and environs!

Cricket Player Weathervane, on top of a building on Whitechapel Road, near E. Aldgate, London

Cricket Player Weathervane, on top of a building in Cambridge, UK (Revised the location — I originally posted as a building in Whitechapel, London. Good thing I double-checked)

Other Monochromatic Takes:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Story by Danielle McLaughlin: The New Yorker, 7 September 2015

Just self’s luck. The first New Yorker story she reads in a long, long time, and it’s about


(Trigger Warning: Read the rest of this entry »

Monochromatic 2: Book Cover, a Yorkshire Meadow, the Lake at Annaghmakerrig

From the WordPress Daily Post photo challenge:


“The inclusion of a pop of color in an otherwise monochromatic palette can also result in a dramatic image . . . “

Detail, Book Cover: ERAGON, by Christopher Paolini

Detail, Book Cover: ERAGON, by Christopher Paolini

Meadow with Sheep, Yorkshire: July 2015

Meadow with Sheep, Yorkshire: July 2015

Lake, Annaghmakerrig, Ireland: July 2015

Lake, Annaghmakerrig, Ireland: July 2015

Here are a few other bloggers’ takes on MONOCHROMATIC:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Remember When . . .

Remember when, right after, they grounded all the planes, and people who were returning to the United States had to wait at their last known destinations, until the airports opened again?

Remember how a student told you she was so desperate to get home to her family in Arizona that she begged and cried and finally a San Francisco cab driver agreed to drive her all the way to Tucson for the price of what she would have paid for a plane ticket?

Remember when the only sounds you heard at night, for several nights, were the sounds of military choppers flying low?

Remember when the airports opened again, and you were still so scared of flying?

Now you take airplanes several times a year, with not even a shake or a shiver of memory.

That’s how you know that life, beautiful, ordinary life, has returned.

Stay tuned.


For the first time, this issue of Your Impossible Voice is coming to you on-line, free of charge.

Contributors in the latest issue are:


Adam Klein * Andrei Babikov (in a translation by Michael Gluck) * Chin-Sun Lee * Courtney Moreno * Harry McEwan * Joe Baumann * Roger Mensink * Thea Swanson


Diane Payne * Morgan Christie * Wilfredo Pascual


Evan Hansen * Jen Schalliol * Jessica Murray * Satoshi Iwai * Scott Beal * Simon Perchik * Theodore Worozbyt

The issue’s cover is by artist D-L Alvarez.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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