“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 got picked up fairly quickly: “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.

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

This story (in Crab Orchard Review’s Summer/Fall 2014 issue) is poignant as well as funny.

Self hears this sad girl narrator’s voice in her head, more often than not.

A lie begets a lie that begets another lie and another lie until finally disappointment turns into despair.

The Crab Orchard Review Summer/ Fall 2014 Issue (Special Themed Issue: The West Coast & Beyond)

The Crab Orchard Review Summer/ Fall 2014 Issue (Special Themed Issue: The West Coast & Beyond)

“I hadn’t meant to lie, not at first, but when Jack Min donned his Stanford sweatshirt, after receiving his acceptance (a senior tradition) — I yanked my Cardinal red hoodie out of my locker. When my AP English teacher, Ms. Banks, stopped to congratulate me, I couldn’t bring myself to say, not yet. She’d worked with me on a dozen revisions of my college essay and written a generous letter of rec, and I didn’t want to disappoint her.

Another week passed, and I posed with Jack for the school paper. A banner year for the church our families both attended, and for Sparta High, with two students in a single class admitted to Stanford. When I showed my parents the article as proof of my acceptance, Oppa held the newspaper with his fingertips, as if it were bridal lace he was preserving on a special order.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s Biblical Revisionist “The Ark” (Local Nomad, Spring 2015)

The theme of the Spring 2015 issue of Local Nomad (edited by Filipino American poet Jean Vengua) was: KILLING GROUND.

Jean solicited a story from self; the short story she sent Jean was “The Ark.”

Accepted!

She wrote the story after watching Darren Aronofskly’s wild and fabulous “Noah,” starring Russell Crow and Jennifer Connelly.

  • Cruelty, he taught his sons, was essential.

Animals of all kind fascinate self, she’s not sure why.

Here’s an illustration from a children’s picture book called, simply, The Ark:

Illustration for Children's Book, THE ARK

Illustration for Children’s Book, THE ARK

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

War, Literature & The Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities

In a few weeks, it will be time again to remember 9/11.

Self is so glad she bookmarked War, Literature & the Arts, which she’s been dipping into for a very long time now.

Today, she read Donald Anderson’s essay on Phil Klay’s story collection, Redeployment.

It begins:

I’ve long guessed that serious students of “war literature” are not war lovers, that love of war is not why they turn to literature.

Anderson’s first Phil Klay quote is this:

We shot dogs. Not by accident. We did it on purpose, and we called it Operation Scooby. I’m a dog person, so I thought about that a lot.

Honestly, that was truly, shockingly painful to read. But she believes every word. That is, she finds it entirely plausible.

She thinks she may just look for Klay’s collection, next time she’s in a bookstore.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Beneath Your Feet 5: Oh the Places Self Roams! In Her Imagination and Elsewhere

Early this year, while self was in Mendocino, she got sent an illustration by Matthew Park (son of an ex-classmate, Mavee Park). He based his illustration off self’s story, “The Freeze,” which was as yet unpublished.

About two weeks after she got sent Matthew’s illustration, the piece was picked up by Bluestem. How’s that for synchronicity? And then, at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, in April, she picked up her author copies.

The story of “The Freeze” is: The earth is slowly dying from a precipitous Ice Age that descends without warning, right after an Obama broadcast about the Russians. Self knows this is far-fetched but, hey, that is only the backstory.

She would love to see this made into an animated film, some day.

Here’s an excerpt:

My group was walking south along the coast. Why? In the cold, we became migratory birds, heading south unquestioningly, thinking: South, it will be warm. Or, anyway, warmer than here.

Can you imagine a time when . . .

Coffee. Waving good-bye to my girls every morning. Inspecting the roses. Peeling off the leaves that were mottled with blackspot and rust.

TheFreezecover_concept02-3

Self combed her archives this afternoon and found more pictures that relate to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:  BENEATH YOUR FEET

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2013, just before it shut down for renovation.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2013, just before it shut down for renovation. It should be open again now?

The vaporetto stop on Ca' San Toma, Venice, early morning, May 2013

The vaporetto stop on Ca’ San Toma, Venice. Margarita Donnelly and self shared an apartment: May 2013. Margarita passed away December 2014.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Ramblings: PANK Going Off-line/ J Journal List of Pushcart-Nominated Stories and Etc.

PANK, the on-line literary magazine, is going off-line in December.

WOE!

PANK published a story of self’s in issue 9.5 — “Seeing.”

She isn’t sure what’s going to happen now to the archived stories. Do they just disappear?

Here’s a link; it’s at least viable until PANK goes off the grid:

http://pankmagazine.com/piece/seeing/

*     *     *     *     *

And, while self is at it, here’s another link, this to the Pushcart-nominated stories that appeared in J Journal, one of which was self’s “Magellan’s Mirror” (Volume 5, No. 2, Fall 2012)

http://johnjay.jjay.cuny.edu/jjournal/V5N2/Villanueva_MagellansMirror.pdf

J Journal published an excerpt from “Magellan’s Mirror,” here:

http://johnjay.jjay.cuny.edu/jjournal/V5N2/Villanueva_MagellansMirror.pdf

*     *     *     *     *

And, while on the topic of Pushcart nominations, last year, her story “The Elephant,” was nominated by Your Impossible Voice.

She has had several of these already, stretching back decades. Let’s see, how many already? Five or six.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

These Characters Self Writes

Self adores FictionFeed.net for doing that piece on her. She’s started following them on Twitter.

The writer of the piece (on her story “First Life” in Juked) is listed simply as Curator. Here’s an excerpt:

No, the story isn’t particularly out of the ordinary, but its narrator (a boy by the name of Dragon) makes up for that in spades, with a wildly unusual voice and bendy-spoon perspective that basically defamiliarize the story’s world in its entirety.

Some time ago, self began writing stories about male characters on the edge, she’s not sure why.

Recently, she’s been thinking of another of her Male-Characters-on-the-Edge, from a story called “Crackers” that appeared in Crab Ochard Review’s The West Coast & Beyond Issue (Vol. 19, No. 2, which is also going to be the focus of a panel in next year’s AWP: Midwest Magazine Searches for West Coast Writers, YAY!).

Crab Orchard Literary Review's The West Coast & Beyond Issue (Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer/Fall 2014)

Crab Orchard Literary Review’s The West Coast & Beyond Issue (Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer/Fall 2014)

Hello, “Crackers” is speculative fiction, so of course crazy. Do not expect real-world Philippines, and you will be okay:

In December 2012, I finally emerged from the wild mountain fastness of the Philippines. My left shoulder had a tattoo of a python, my right a tattoo of a kris, the blade of choice of the mountain tribes. I wore a necklace of red parrot beaks. I spoke only in monosyllables. They said I was crackers.

They made me register at the Palo Alto VA for a psychiatric evaluation.

Thank you, Juked, thank you, Crab Orchard Literary Review, for taking a chance on self’s crazy writing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Juked: “First Life” (Multiple Choice)

Drinker says, Negative outcomes. (How did Big ever make it to Academy? Slow as slow)

Sunlight and glass, prisms and mirrors. My mind is floating out there, beyond the windows. Out there, where swish swish swish goes something, maybe the wind.

Drinker says, That’s the problem, right there. Hello? Dragon? Hey, Dragon?

Am so happy to have “First Life” in Juked this month (also self’s birthday month, Woot Hoot!).

Went live while self was in Ireland, hey good one.

Also love the tag: “multiple choice.”

It’s very amusing to go through all the pieces on the Juked website and try to figure out why they’re tagged the way they are. There’s a slyness involved in tagging. The best ones are brilliant.

Self got her novel-in-progress to a good 140 pages. She cut about 20 pages in the last week, so what’s left is pretty solid.

Bless FictionFeed.net for picking “First Life” as their Story of the Week and for tweeting about it:

http://www.fictionfeed.net/population-studies/

Self loves that the post on “First Life” is tagged Uncategorizable — BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAAA — and that there’s a sentence “love the names, by the way.”

Dear blog readers have no idea — NO IDEA — how hard it was for self to come up with those names, and here self will list them for you for your elucidation:

Dragon. Her. Big. Drinker. Lizard.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Villanueva + Waccamaw + 1-800-U-R-Saved =

from “Bridging”, in Waccamaw No. 12:

Introduction: A Filipino widow decides to combat loneliness by volunteering on a Mental Health Hotline called 1-800-U-R-Saved.

“I’ve bought myself a plane ticket,” the man said.

“Where are you going?” Leticia asked.

“San Francisco,” the man said. “To throw myself off the Golden Gate Bridge.”

“Don’t do that,” Leticia said, then stopped. San Francisco! Leticia had never been to San Francisco, though she longed to.

She then broke Rule # 3:  She gave the caller her real name.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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