I’d Rather Be . . . In a Bookstore


Linda Nietes greeting a customer at the bookshop she owns, Philippine Expressions (Inside a 1920s building, 479 W. Sixth St., San Pedro, CA). Linda is 81 years old. She has been running bookstores all her life.

Last Saturday, 17 March, International Woman’s Day, Linda Nietes invited six Filipina authors to Philippine Expressions Bookshop in San Pedro to read from their work. The authors were: poets Angela Narciso Torres and Irene Suico Soriano, and prose writers Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, Tessie Jayme, and self. The reading was held in the beautiful lobby of a 1920s-era building on 479 W. Sixth Street:


Here’s son with Linda before the reading:


Beautiful Event. Self was honored to be a part of it.

Here’s Linda, in her own words, about why she does what she does:

  • It is a ministry, an advocacy, a labor of love, and the results cannot be counted in dollars and cents. It is fulfilling only to the person who accepts the responsibility of creating a greater awareness and a higher consciousness among members of our community. I have found the field, planted an orchard. Saplings are growing and some have already grown and are blooming and even fruiting. Lucky will be the generation that will just pick the fruits of my labor, but I do not mind that because I understand what the role of a trailblazer is! You blaze the trail so that people will find their way. I was inspired by a quote: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

I’d Rather Be . . . On a Boat

San Pedro Marina, this morning. Just behind the forest of masts, the San Pedro Naval Shipyard, the largest shipyard self has ever seen.


San Pedro Marina, the Day After a Reading at Philippine Expressions Bookshop on W. Sixth Street, San Pedro

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


This event is sponsored by the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford. It is free and open to the public.

The Clayman Institute’s Winter Artist’s Salon features novelist and Stanford professor Chang-rae Lee. Lee will talk about the women characters in several of his books, giving a short reading, followed by a discussion with the audience on a range of questions.

He will focus on June, the female protagonist in The Surrendered, and Fan, the female protagonist in On Such a Full Sea.

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018
4:15 to 5:45 p.m.
Levinthal Hall
Stanford Humanities Center

RSVP to: gender.stanford.edu


Reading Last Night at the Main House

When Lise-Ann McLoughlin, an Irish actress and screenplay writer, reads your words aloud and you become a puddle on the floor.

From “The Rorqual,” self’s horror story-in-progress, set in the Bering Sea:

A large shelf of ice had just dislodged — calved — the day before in Hobart Bay. The sea water had risen by several feet. The immensity of the sound — a low thunder that cascaded off the sides of the snow-capped mountains — was deeply unsettling. Here and there, by the water’s edge, were tussocks of green on which grey tippled seals crowded, blunt snouts raised high in the air.

Despair gripped her.

“Can they replace him with a pagophilic?” the Captain asked.

Tamara bit her lip. “I won’t have a pagophilic. I’d sooner kill them than look at them. They murdered all my children but one. And all the people of the Black Hills.”

NOTE: Self invented this creature, the pagophilic. Somewhere in her story is the dictionary definition. But, the short answer: Pagophilics are mutants developed by the U.S. Navy in a top-secret (naturally) facility somewhere north. Something went wrong with the experiments, and the program was discontinued. A few of the pagos managed to escape and are roaming the northern wilds.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


SATISFACTION: Best of Self’s 2017

  • Share a photo of something that brings you satisfaction. It can be monumental, minor, or something in between.

Jen H., The Daily Post

For this post, self decided to kill two birds with one stone. She’ll look back at her fondest memories of 2017 (thus far) — the moments that gave her the most satisfaction.


Going to the Globe and seeing Tristan and Yseult; sorting through old photographs of Dearest Mum; seeing the Eiffel Tower up close; reading her story First Causes at Sixth Engine in Washington, DC; watching Mayerling at the Royal Albert Hall; visiting Cork; Tyrone Guthrie Centre

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“First Causes” Quarterly West, Issue # 89

Read it at Sixth Engine in Washington DC, at a group reading organized by Quarterly West in conjunction with AWP February 2017. The editors took a chance with this one, it’s all fractured syntax and stars a professor named Fire Lizard. Self is writing a sequel right now.

What a blast:


Quarterly West reading at Sixth Engine, Washington DC, February 2017

Discussion of the First Corollary: What is average is perfect. Thoughts dark as dark. Big arguing with her. But but but. Her winking at me behind his back. Me thinking: sunlight and glass.

8 February 2017: Self Read at Sixth Engine, Washington DC

Self’s dystopian “First Causes” appears in the latest issue of Quarterly West.

Self very much enjoyed the reading for the launch of the issue because: 1) it was in Washington DC, and she got to see some old friends again; 2) she re-connected with a few people she hasn’t seen in years. Such as Letitia. Who was a student at Old Dominion University in Virginia when self read there for a literary festival (2007?) Now, Letitia is an Editor/Linguist/Poet (see business card below).

Self is tempted to ask Letitia if she’d like to help edit a collection of her speculative fiction she is getting ready to send out:


The reading was co-hosted by two other literary magazines: 32 Poems and Smartish Pace.

And oh boy it was packed. To the point where the audience was all standing like a can of sardines.

A man threw copies of his poetry collection at the audience. “That is so cool!” a young man remarked. Since self was reading next, she was hard-pressed to think of something attention-getting.

She moved front, started babbling about how fan fiction got her there. And — received enthusiastic applause from somewhere on the right!

Forever grateful to the listeners, and of course to Quarterly West. Here’s a shot she took that night of the (very crowded) venue:


The bar-restaurant Sixth Engine, downtown Washington DC, night of 8 February 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Against the Odds: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 15 February 2017

An unexpected victory? A snapshot of an unlikely moment? This week, show us something that defines the odds.

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

Last year, on the 2nd day of self’s trip to the UK, her camera shutter stopped opening all the way. Rather than buy a new camera, self decided to see how far she could push that old thing. And it lasted till the very end of her trip.

One of the last places she visited before returning home was Bletchley Park, about an hour train ride from London. Bletchley Park is where the World War II codebreakers did their work. According to the visitors’ brochure, “the Codebreakers’ efforts helped to shorten the war by up to two years, saving countless lives.” The codebreakers worked year-round in unheated wooden huts. “The first Enigma ciphers were broken in early 1940.”


Bletchley Park: June 2016

Self took the picture below in Chinatown. She forgets which street it was on. It was either on Grant or on Stockton. Look closer at the words, and it turns out to be about Filipino immigration: the first immigrants faced discrimination. Caucasian women were not allowed to marry Asian immigrants, most of whom were single men. Yet, those early immigrants endured. Their descendants are all over California.


Wall Mural, Chinatown, San Francisco

Anne-Adele Wight coordinates a monthly reading series at Head House Books in Philadelphia. She is a published poet. Just before June’s event, she hurt her knee and had to wear a brace. But — the show must go on!

She is fantastic.


Anne-Adele Wight introducing speakers at the Head House reading series, which she coordinates: Philadelphia, June 2016

So there are self’s examples of “Against the Odds,” which is a very, very interesting photo challenge.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading at AWP (Off-Site) for QUARTERLY WEST, 8 February 2017

Participating in a group reading for Quarterly West at Sixth Engine, a converted firehouse in Washington, DC. during the AWP Conference.

Date: 8 February 2017 (Details to follow), downtown Washington DC

Quarterly West Issue # 89 has self’s newest Dragon/Fire Lizard story, “First Causes.”

It’s a sequel to her “First Life,” published July 2015 in Juked.com

Stay tuned.


“First Causes” in Quarterly West

  • Big starts walking towards me. His voice drops. “Now, now, now, now. Is this payback? For what I did to Her? Her was a stray. Made me look like a clump. You another. Know what I do to strays? You stupid, fucking Fog Brain! I’ll rip you in half!”

“First Causes” in Quarterly West, Issue 89

This has got to be the strangest science fiction ever.

Morgan was right: self’s language sounds like it would be right at home in a North Dublin chip shop. But this is the future. In the last human colony on Earth.

A group of Quarterly West contributors, self included, will be reading in DC, Feb. 8, at Sixth Engine (Firehouse & Bar), 438 Massachusetts Ave., NW.

The companion piece to “First Causes” is “First Life.” Read it on Juked.com.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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