Victory Can Only Come After Struggle

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, VICTORY, posted on Friday morning. Right after that came news (from Twitter; self’s news always come from Twitter) about the Paris attacks.

It seemed very ironic, that the photo challenge urged us to think of the positive. The terrorists made that all seem like such a travesty.

Nevertheless. Nevertheless.

Here are some pictures that self needed to look at today. Reminders of the positive.

The inaugural issue of Irish lit mag Banshee was celebrated at the most recent Cork International Short Story Festival, in September. Self was so glad she attended the launch:

It is a perilous venture, the field of literary magazine publishing. But the young women who edit BANSHEE prove that the dream never dies.

It is a perilous venture, the field of literary magazine publishing. But the young women who edit BANSHEE prove that the dream never dies.

One of the most life-affirming and redemptive characters of recent fiction is, in self’s humble opinion, the baker of The Hunger Games. She only caught the symbolism today: Hunting doesn’t feed the belly, doesn’t sate it, to the degree that bread does. In the purported love triangle of the trilogy, there was never really any other choice for Katniss: Peeta Mellark rocks.

Self will mourn the passing of this franchise when the final film opens on Nov. 20. J-Hutch, you did a great job bringing Peeta Mellark to life!

Self will mourn the passing of this franchise when the final film opens on Nov. 20. J-Hutch, you did a great job bringing Peeta Mellark to life!

Finally, one of self’s favorite reads in 2015 was Crab Orchard Review’s West Coast and Beyond issue, which included a haunting short story by Lucy Jane Bledsoe. Self brought the issue with her to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, this past summer. Whenever her writing energy flagged, reading a bit from the Crab Orchard Review never failed to revive her inspiration:

Several of the contributors from the West Coast & Beyond issue will be participating in a panel during AWP 2016/ Los Angeles, end of March.

Several of the contributors from the West Coast & Beyond issue will be participating in a panel during AWP 2016/ Los Angeles, end of March.

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 Café 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.

Change 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is CHANGE.

The Daily Post includes a quote from Lao Tzu:

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.

Here’s a picture of the Triskel Art Centre in Cork, which was the venue for the Kelly Link/ Heather O’Neill reading last Thursday, during the Cork International Short Story Festival. It used to be a church, and they kept the wooden pews:

Triskel Christchurch, Cork

Triskel Christchurch, Cork

Another event self attended was the launch of a new literary journal, Banshee, edited by three intrepid young women: Laura Jane Cassidy, Claire Hennessy, and Eimear Ryan:

Below, Issue # 1:

Issue # 1, Banshee Literary Journal, Autumn 2015

Issue # 1, Banshee Literary Journal, Autumn 2015

Finally, a sign on the wall of the Galway Train Station. NIIICE! Trains represent movement, movement represents change:

Galway Train Station

Galway Train Station

Funny, in the States, self has grown used to associating the color red with STOP signs.

Here in the UK, she’s seen red phone booths, red sofas, red walls, red sneakers, red sweaters, and now this sign in a train station.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cork International Short Story Festival, September 2015

Self is presently in the beautiful city of Cork.

The Cork International Short Story Festival began yesterday. She was pretty inert yesterday when she arrived in Cork and holed up in her room, eating. Alas, she missed some great readings (And put on at least five pounds. After that dinner last night! The people sitting next to self couldn’t resist remarking that self had ordered A LOT OF FOOD)

Today, self made it to the launch of the Banshee Literary Journal and got to meet one of the editors, Claire Hennessy:

Claire Hennessy, Editor, with the Inaugural Issue of Literary Journal BANSHEE, today at the Cork City Library

Claire Hennessy, Editor, with the Inaugural Issue of Literary Journal BANSHEE, today at the Cork City Library

Self was soooo relaxed. In spite of not knowing anybody, she chatted with a young woman who kept self company while she drank (free) wine.

Wine is so wonderful. Why don’t they serve wine at library readings in America?

Also, self has never been to an afternoon reading in an American library where there is wine. It just has never been done. At least, not to self’s provincial American knowledge.

Then she chatted up two of the three authors who read. One of the readers, Eleanor Hooker, told self that she pilots a lifeboat in her “real life.” How cool is that? Self has never, ever met an American author who can pilot a lifeboat. And write sentences like this:

She lived with us for three days after she drowned.

That is a swoon-worthy sentence if self ever heard one.

Tonight, an American author, Kelly Link, is reading at 9:15. Self is torn. It is pretty cold at night, and there’s a strong wind. The River Lee surrounds Cork on two sides. You can never escape the river wind. And she just wants to be cozy.

But then, she pinched herself. NO! SELF, you did not travel all this way to Cork to nest in your room GETTING FAT! And INERT!

So she told Ger (Chef and all-around Factotum of B & B that self refuses to name because they have very little room and she doesn’t want to have to fight for a reservation next year. Or the year after next) to book her a taxi and Ger said, That is a 10-minute walk from here you will not need a taxi.

But self said Oh indeed I will need a taxi because the wind! And I have a very low tolerance for cold! I was born in the Philippines and lived most of my life in California!

(Self did not actually say all that, but she did impress on Ger that she was serious about the taxi.)

Here’s another picture from the Banshee Literary Journal launch:

Issue # 1, Banshee Literary Journal, Autumn 2015

Issue # 1, Banshee Literary Journal, Autumn 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“The Great Emptying of the Three Triangles” (The Writing Disorder, Winter 2010)

Self re-discovering some of her first speculative fiction.

There’s this story, published by The Writing Disorder in 2010, “The Great Emptying of the Three Triangles.”

She began with “a presentation by Brian Siy” as a joke, but the editor asked her if her piece was nonfiction. Delighted to say no.

The present condition of the area known as The Three Triangles is desert. The desertification occurred around 1511. Several decades later, the first instances of human migration to the coast began.

Our first clue to what may have occurred came the discovery of the Aurora Trench. By closely monitoring its striations, I have ascertained that the area had, for a period of over 500 years, suffered from intense precipitation, unusual wind strength, and heat.

Dear blog readers, hope you enjoy this little snippet.

Check out The Writing Disorder.

Stay tuned.

“Essence of Spain,” 699 Words, Eunoia Review

This piece appeared in Eunoia Review (one of her favorite on-line lit mags) She is re-visiting her stories from several years ago, for some reason (because fun?).

This one’s about a Manhattan office worker who tries to spice up her dreary cubicle life by imagining herself traveling around Spain.

I decided I would use only “usted” when addressing others, even if the other was someone obviously younger than myself.

I learned that in Spain they cared greatly about appearance. I read this in the Travel section of The New York Times, which I bought at least once a week, to keep myself informed not only about Spanish customs, but about life in Europe in general.

I imagined myself threading through calle after calle after calle.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. 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.

More From Self’s Story of The New Ice Age, “The Freeze” (Bluestem, Spring 2015)

Self has no idea what the 2016 AWP in Los Angeles will be like, but the one in Minneapolis in April was a tidal wave moment.

She hadn’t even planned to go, but Luisa Igloria asked if she were interested in sharing a room. On the last day of the AWP Book Fair, self determined to walk around and see whether she saw anyone she knew.

On that last day of the AWP Book Fair, she met the following:

  • Crab Orchard Review Editor Allison Joseph
  • Bluestem Editor Charlotte Pence (who looked soooo fabulous in a pink tweed get-up!

It was a great moment of validation for self, as she realized she’d been published by a lot of the literary magazines on site. Like Juked. Like Witness. Like the New Orleans Review.

All she could think was:  I AM HOOOOME!

She snagged her two author copies of the Bluestem Spring issue. She is so gratified that when Bluestem published “The Freeze,” they kept the formatting — lots of white space, making the story look more like a poem on the printed page.

The band of intrepid San Francisco survivors head south on Highway 1 and begin (of course) to argue:

Someone said we had passed Big Sur. No, it’s impossible, someone said. Big Sur is still up ahead.

I thought, Why argue? What’s the use? We will come to it when we come to it. If we have strength left to come to it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Crackers” (Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19 No. 2: Summer/Fall 2014) — We’re on a Panel at AWP 2016!

This was a story self started writing two years ago, which Crab Orchard Review picked up fairly quickly (Definitely NOT the norm!): “Crackers.”

It’s a somewhat comic take on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. An American man goes “native” in the Philippines:

They made me register at the Palo Alto VA for a psychiatric evaluation. The attendant asked my age, and though I had not thought about it for many years, I replied that I might be 41 or 42.

My mother, God rest her soul, was a saint. She passed away when I was still in grade school. My father was the kind of man whose idea of spoiling us was to give us Happy Meals, every single day. While I was “away,” my father died, my sister inherited all his money, and there was nothing left for me.

My first night back in America, I couldn’t sleep. The quiet made me jumpy. People don’t realize how noisy the jungle is. When you know what to listen for, you can tell who is next to you, who is a few feet away, who is just on the other side of that bamboo thicket. Night is for hunting. It’s an active time. Here, though, the night is so quiet, it’s like being dead.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Part 2 of Vanessa Hua’s “Accepted” (Crab Orchard Review, Vol. 19, No. 2: Summer/Fall 2014)

Self is hugely enjoying this story.

(Self has written her own Stanford stories, but OMG does Ms. Hua ever kill it)

Rodin Sculpture Garden, Stanford University

Rodin Sculpture Garden, Stanford University

Flipping open my binder, I found a flyer urging Stanford cadets to apply for the ROTC honor roll with the attached form and an unofficial transcript. A reminder I didn’t have grades, and wasn’t enrolled, a reminder I should give up and go home. Surviving day-to-day brought me no closer to becoming an official student. I imagined my father’s disappointment, my father’s words: ignominious, mendacious.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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