How DARE You, Mr. Ragnor Fell!

Self may be getting ahead of herself, but life is short.

There are two choices open to her when she leaves Ireland:  Yorkshire or Wales.

Yorkshire because a crucial scene in Clockwork Prince takes place there. P. 169:

Ragnor Fell, High Warlock of London: “What’s on the carpet, then, Charlotte? Did you really call me out here to discuss dark doings on the Yorkshire moors? I was under the impression that nothing of great interest happened in Yorkshire. In fact, I was under the impression that there was nothing in Yorkshire except sheep and mining.”

Oh la-di-dah, Mr. Fell. Yorkshire isn’t that boring. She was there when she was 11. She was sent to summer camp, somewhere in Yorkshire Dales. She saw the magnificent cathedral.

And Wales?

Something so alluring and romantic about Wales. Aside from the fact that Wales is where Will Herondale was born and lived until he was 12.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London From Tessa Gray’s Point of View

Jem, Tessa, and Will, the intrepid three of Clockwork Prince, have just boarded a train for York (Trains, in self’s humble opinion, are fabulous. Because they take one from somewhere to somewhere else. They represent movement and also stability because you can read a book and anchor yourself that way while zipping along. British trains are also excellent for eavesdropping. Now, where was self?)

“There is always something so exciting about the start of a journey, don’t you think?” Tessa went on, nose to the window, though she could see little but smoke and soot and hurtling, gray rain; London was a dim shadow in the mist.

“No,” said Will as he sat back and pulled his hat down over his eyes.

Tessa kept her face against the glass as the gray of London began to fall away behind them, and with it the rain. Soon they were rolling through green fields dotted with white sheep with here and there the point of a village steeple in the distance. The sky had turned from steel to a damp, misty blue, and small black clouds scudded overhead. Tessa watched it all with fascination.

Clockwork Prince, pp. 83-84

Street Light, Somewhere Near St. Bride's Church

Street Light, Somewhere Near St. Bride’s Church

As they get further from London, the countryside grows “less green, more stark,” with “long swathes of gray-green grass and outcroppings of black rock.” Self can hardly wait to get to York.

There are a number of Shadowhunter Institutes scattered around the United Kingdom: one in London, of course. One in York. One in Cornwall (“near Tintagel”), one in Cardiff, and one in Edinburgh. Great. Self plans to visit all these places. After she gets back from Ireland. For some reason, today, self was feeling very lethargic and slept in. She continued reading the miserable Third Reich at War.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Queen of Victorian Steampunk


London, April 1878

The demon exploded in a shower of ichor and guts.

—  Prologue, Clockwork Angel, Book One of Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices

Beg pardon, dear blog readers, but ever since self read those lines, in the house of her cousin Mike V in Calgary, Canada, her life has never been the same.

It’s almost like the way she felt when she encountered Annie Ernaux and Gish Jen and Nina Berberova for the first time!

All three (500-page) books in Cassandra Clare’s TID trilogy are going with her to London and Ireland.

Self had to think long and hard about this one, because she’ll be hauling ass. Oh! Pardon the language. She means, hauling suitcases on and off trains and buses. By herself.

But, dear ones, self must be permitted her eccentricities. After all, they’re part of what make her such an indefatigable writer/blogger!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Books for Ireland

Mary Gaitskill: BAD BEHAVIOR

Mary Gaitskill: BAD BEHAVIOR



Poetry, but of course

Poetry, but of course: Dionne Brand and Tomas Transtromer

Suzanne Collins: MOCKINGJAY (Self has read this book at least half a dozen times)

Suzanne Collins: MOCKINGJAY (Self has read this book at least half a dozen times)



and, last but not least:

George Eliot’s Middlemarch

Self is bringing along the following literary magazines as well:

  • Crab Orchard Review’s West Coast and Beyond Issue
  • Witness Magazine’s Spring 2015 issue
  • Bluestem Magazine’s Spring 2015 issue

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cadair Idris, Wales

Self plans to visit the places listed in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices series — or at least, as many places as she can, when she’s in the United Kingdom: Westminster Abbey (After xx trips to London, she has never seen), Kew Gardens, Hyde Park, Blackfriars Bridge, Kensington Gardens, the Tower of London (seen once, ages and ages ago. She remembers in particular taking son to the McDonald’s near there — holy sacrilege).

The hero of the trilogy is Will Herondale, who grew up in Wales but has spent the past five years in the London Institute of the Clave, training to be a Shadowhunter. (It’s such a great series. Honestly, self highly recommends it to anyone who enjoys historical fantasy. Especially Victorian steampunk fantasy)

Here’s a section from p. 401 of Clockwork Princess (Of course she is bringing all the books of the trilogy with her!) that describes a mountain Will Herondale remembers from his childhood in Wales:

He remembered climbing Cadair Idris with his father, years ago. There were many legends about the mountain: that it had been a chair for a giant, who had sat upon it and regarded the stars; that King Arthur and his knight slept beneath the hill, waiting for the time when Britain would awake and need them again; that anyone who spent the night on the mountainside would awake a poet or a madman.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Shadowhunter London: A Promise, A Plan

Self is shortly going to be in London.

And she’s bringing The Infernal Devices trilogy with her.

And she’s going to go to every single place listed in the three books:  Blackfriars Bridge, Kew Gardens, the Serpentine, etc etc

Self promises you, dear blog readers: Just as her trip last year to London and Ireland became epic, truly epic, because it brought her to Stonehenge and so many other places she had only ever read about, the one upcoming will be epic as well, though for a different reason. (And maybe she will finally get to see more of Wales? Last year, she only got as far as Holyhead)

And so now, the time for SPOILER ALERTS has arrived.

Because self did force herself to read the Epilogue, finally. And here’s a sentence that just about killed her:


It still seemed incredible to her sometimes that they had managed to grow old together, herself and Will Herondale, whom Gabriel Lightwood had once said would live to be no older than nineteen.

P.S. Cassandra Clare: Can you please explain why Will Herondale is mortal when his father was a Nephilim? Isn’t the Nephilim blood always dominant? Self just can’t stand the thought that once Will is truly out of the way (i.e., DEAD), Tessa then gets with Jem who very conveniently did not have his mouth sewn shut like the rest of the Silent Brothers and therefore is still available to kiss, etc. For eternity. As he’s immortal. And so is Tessa. AAAARGH!

THE END (of self’s reading, that is. She still can’t bring herself to read about Will on his deathbed, so she’ll just skip the next pages)

Stay tuned.

New 3 for the New Year (2015): BRING ON THE AWESOME

It is such a bee-yoo-ti-ful day! This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is NEW.

As the prompt on The Daily Post puts it:  Let’s celebrate the new!

Tomorrow self will drive up to Mendocino and inspect her new digs. She’s packed almost everything, including Sumatra coffee, a coffee bean grinder, and Krups.

Today, self walked all over her garden.

Here are the first daffodils of the year:


And here is a picture emblematic of the mind frame with which self greeted 2015!

You can see this in AMC, Ontario Mills.

You can see this figure busting out of a wall in Ontario Mills Shopping Center (near Claremont)

She tweeted that 2014 was her BEST YEAR EVER.

She has the feeling 2015 might be equally good.

Because, you know, she is starting it off with her residency in the Mendocino Art Center! High Fives! Plus there’s lots of artists up there who self is just dying to meet.

Followers of self’s fan fiction also know that she is up to 17 chapters, 288 hits, and 14 kudos.


Although nephew Chris Blackett asked for her fan fiction pen name, IXNAY to that because, you know, fluff!  Too much fluff!

Here’s another picture that’s emblematic of NEW MINDSET:


Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Coming Up 2015!

  • Being in Mendocino as Writer-in-Residence, starting January. Giving a whole bunch of readings and teaching a workshop on travel writing (offered through the Mendocino Art Center). Reading at the invitation of the California Writers Club, Feb. 18!
  • Visiting Valerie Miner’s Stanford class, early February!
  • Having Drew Hemenger’s “Marife Suite” (based on self’s novella Marife) performed by Hampshire Symphony on March 14, 2015. Seeing friends in New York afterwards!
  • Having a piece come out in Witness’s Translation issue (March 2015)!
  • Attending AWP in Minneapolis and seeing ex-Assumption classmates!
  • Reading with fellow Stanford Creative Writing Program Alum at Redwood City Public Library (Downtown Branch) in May!
  • Self also intends to start her New Year’s reading with a bang: reading George Eliot’s Silas Marner and Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn. Right now, she’s about halfway through William Maxwell’s short novel (or novella) So Long, See You Tomorrow; she is loving it so much.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Foolish Things

  • As a result of dropping by the Robert Frank exhibit at the Cantor Art Center on the Stanford Campus yesterday, self got it into her head that she would very much like to own a Leica.
  • After leaving the Robert Frank exhibit, self fully intended to go to Aquarius in Palo Alto and watch Rory Kennedy’s “Last Days in Vietnam.” But she did not.  Instead, after filling up with gas, she went home.  And today — alas! — that film is no longer showing.
  • Self hasn’t looked at her story “The Peacock.”  Not once.  Not since it was workshopped at Squaw. She has no idea what to do with that story. It just sits there, like a lump on a log. Taking up space in her computer. In her store of unfulfilled projects. She wanted it to be a memoir about her and Dear Departed Sister-in-Law Ying. She wanted it to be desperate and lonely, the voice of a soul lost in the Cambodian wilderness after failing to connect with the splendor that is Angkor Wat (Dear blog readers, do you know that there’s a RAFFLES HOTEL IN SIEM REAP???)
  • Self has wanted to replace the desert of the front lawn with trees — perhaps olive trees — to screen her house from the busy street. But she’s remained staring at that patch of bare, weed-choked dirt for 10 years. It sounds really lame to keep bringing up the drought.

Ugh, ugh, girl. Why can’t you just do? Why must you always be re-hashing the old, or rehearsing for the future? To what end?

How quickly you forget: just yesterday, you got word from Witness that a piece you sent them eight months ago is going to be in their Translation issue.

As for somehow missing “Last Days in Vietnam,” “Gone, Girl” is showing in the Redwood City Century 20 and she heard from a friend who read the book that it’s actually pretty good. Self is not a Ben Affleck fan — seems he is pretty much a control freak with his wife, and no doubt he took care to present himself in the best possible light in this new role — but what the heck? Maybe she just wasn’t in the mood for another hard-hitting documentary yesterday, maybe she should just try and ignite a new respect for Ben Affleck? She did like “Argo” a lot. He’s not a bad director.

And if she’d managed to watch “Last Days in Vietnam” yesterday, she would have missed seeing the San Francisco Giants’ nail-biting victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. She would have missed seeing the way the two teams went head to head all the way to the 9th inning. She would have missed that sweet, game-ending homer.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Busy Bee

Self is extremely, extremely happy this morning. She was able to wheedle a reading date from her local library for Manila Noir, an anthology that Akashic published last year, and for which she has never given a reading.

She’s only one of — ehem — 15 Filipino writers in the book, it was edited by Superstar Jessica Hagedorn, she loves the pieces in it to bits. Why has she never read for it in her own neck of the woods?  OMG, why?

She wrote a brand new story, just for the anthology. Yup, one winter holiday, almost three years ago, La Hagedorn requested a story from self, and after wringing her hands for nearly a month, and subjecting herself to all sorts of angsty emo feelings, self ended the pity party, grit her teeth, addressed the problem (which had been hovering over her head, a veritable Sword of Damocles, making her incapable of performing even the simplest holiday tasks, such as setting up the Christmas tree) and that very same day, she came up with a story. Turned it in. Got quick thumbs up from Hagedorn. Became pride-ful and slothful. Told the world of her inclusion in said anthology. Crowed about her triumph in her little corner of the world, and then waited for — NOTHING. Everyone in the Philippines and Asia and even the continental U.S. of A. read the anthology, but her story was sandwiched between such greats that no one seemed to have time to comment on it. Nevertheless, nevertheless . . .

She did manage to get Lysley Tenorio (a fellow alum from Stanford’s Creative Writing Program, he teaches at Saint Mary’s in Moraga) to agree to read with her. Quite a feat, as the guy’s got a big agent, a big publisher, and he agreed to make the trek to REDWOOD CITY. And besides, self isn’t sure whether she still can read, it’s been a while. So it is good if Lysley reads with her, for he is an excellent reader. And not only that, he is affable and very used to signing author copies.

Now, since self is so energized, she is thinking of contacting other places, such as Books, Inc. in Town & Country. Hello, they already carry it; she’s seen it there, in their Mystery section. So, what’s the problem, self? What’s taking you so long? Get off your couch and who says you can’t? Get yourself over to Book Passage, while you’re at it.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books.  She's holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books, at the 2013 Miami International Book Festival, holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


« Older entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,200 other followers