Crazy Writers Life: Share Your Rejection

When self moved back to her home in Redwood City, a few months ago, she found a treasure trove of files, including one on ‘Nice Rejections.’

Here’s one from The Antioch Review. No idea who ‘RSF’ is, but it is so rare to get back a personal note that self saved it.

The piece was “Devotions.” It was eventually published by Used Furniture Review.


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Welcome to Self’s Apocalypse

Got a rejection from Oxford American today. Nevertheless.

Self has decided to submit a short story collection to a contest.

Story # 1: The Departure

The Situation:  A mom says good-bye to her son, who’s on his way to a college on the coast. Not five minutes after she waves good-bye and re-enters her house, the world ends. The woman wakes up to find that the roof of her house has cracked wide open, and nothing’s working. She decides to check in with a neighbor across the street, who invites her to share some cake (Did self say yet that she writes dark fiction?)

They each took a chair and faced each other across the kitchen table, the cake between them. The cat was still on Julietta’s lap but seemed to show no interest in food. She simply lay there, as if comatose. Through Mrs. Bautista’s kitchen window, Julietta thought she saw wisps of clouds moving backwards. Far off, somewhere, she imagined a whole bevy of airplanes were getting ready to scramble.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


#amwritingfantasy: “Down”


Study in Oil by Bernadette Burns. She lives on Sherkin Island, off West Cork.

We’re going under.



Just like that.


Well, I need more time to select.


Yeah. What do you think?

Everything you need is down there.

The two men arguing are about to descend to the ocean floor in a bathosphere called Pinkie Pi. They are under the impression that’s where everyone else on the surface has gone.

Stay tuned.

While Self Was at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

She worked on a number of things. One was a collection of her dystopian science fiction. She placed one of those stories while she was still in Annaghmakerrig (luck of the Irish!)

She also worked on “First Causes,” her sequel to “First Life,” and got a very quick response. Though the magazine did not take her story, saying it was a little too “out there” for their magazine, the editors “nevertheless” wanted me to know: “This is indeed a very good story and we have no doubt it will be picked up by some other magazine.”


Ridiculous to get so excited over a rejection letter. But —


Self had worked particularly hard on the ending, and on the dialogue between the main character, Dragon, and his nemesis, Big:

There’s a bluish-greenish shadow on Big’s back, right between his shoulder blades. I see it when he disrobes for inspection.

What is the cause? Is it Tumor? Is it Plague? Is it Virus?


The Pod, Viewed From Somewhere Near Whitechapel, London

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.



Adventure 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self saw a production of “Titus Andronicus” in the Globe during a week in London, en route to Ireland and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, in late April 2014. When she told her friend Joan McGavin that she was going to see it, Joan said: “Bring a bucket. Loads of gore.”

And indeed, Joan was right. There was indeed loads of gore. The production was a bit Quentin Tarantino-ish. But it was still bloody great.

Titus Andronicus at the Globe:  Wild, Bloody, Great

Titus Andronicus at the Globe: Wild, Bloody, Great

Then self proceeded to Ireland, where she had many more adventures. Including, her first actual acquaintance-ship with real swans (as opposed to the swans in Hans Christian Andersen or the Grimm brothers’ fairytales). Here is a picture of a loan swan, powering across a blustery lake, early May 2014:

Sighted Yesterday, on the Way to Annaghmakerrig: A determined swan powers its way across a wide lake, in blustery winds.

Sighted on the Way to Annaghmakerrig: A determined swan powers its way across a wide lake, in blustery winds.

She was so impressed with this swan that she started to write a story about swans which evolved into a story about Noah’s ark, after she saw the Darren Aronofsky movie “The Ark.” The last rejection letter she received for her ark story was just last week:  “Sorry,” quoth the young man, “Revisionist Bible stories aren’t really my thing.”

Self’s most recent adventure was attending the Squaw Valley Writers Conference, this past July.  She’d been hearing about it forever. Last year, she finally bit the bullet and applied. And she got in! And they offered her partial aid.  She is so glad she went soon after getting back from Ireland. For by the time she got to Squaw Valley, in early July, she was fit, mentally and physically, from six weeks of traveling all over Ireland and England. And she made so many new friends.

The Olympic House at Squaw Valley: July, 2014

The Olympic House at Squaw Valley: July, 2014

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.



Most Recent, Part Deux

Self thinks that now would be a good time to remind herself that there is a point, after all, in trying and trying and trying and trying, that this is where she’s heading:

  • “Cake” appeared in Alimentum.
  • “Magellan’s Mirror” appeared in J Journal and was nominated for the Pushcart.
  • “Devotions” appeared in Word Riot.
  • “Vagabondage” (self’s first novella) was published by Vagabondage Press, Florida.
  • Manila Noir (Akashic Books) was published.  Self contributed a story, “Desire.”
  • “Bridging”, a piece self began in Hawthornden, appeared in Waccamaw.
  • “Hollow” appeared in 5_trope.

For the purposes of comparison, she includes her original post.

October 2012:  Most Recent

Do you know what this means, dear blog reader?  It means that, in the past 16 months, self has been busy busy busy doing what she loves most:  writing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

At Some Point, Self Just Knows

There will be no Literature NEA Fellowships for self, unless they dream up a post-humous award.  But for what?

This is self’s 6th or 7th NEA rejection.  She thinks she began applying in 1991, after her first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, was published by Calyx Press.  There was a period of about a decade when self’s confidence was so low that she didn’t even try.  Then, when Niece G enrolled at Stanford, she urged self to keep applying.  Since Niece G’s forceful intervention, self has applied three times.  At some point, it starts feeling really, really . . .  draining and exhausting and humiliating and all of that.  It’s a bear to master the application program, and of all things, during this last round, she was contacted by an NEA staffer to say that her application was incomplete and she had 24 hours to send in her supporting materials.  What?  She checked and double-checked and made sure she submitted everything well before the deadline.  She began sweating bullets and spent an entire day in a state of high nervous anxiety.

This year’s awardees include eight from California (which self thinks is the most number of fellowships awarded to any state).  The next state with the most number of awardees is New York, with five.

*     *     *     *

No One Story acceptance, after XX tries — this is embarrassing.  Shhhh!

She still loves One Story, and keeps up her subscription.

*     *     *     *

The phone rings:  it’s a 202 area code!  Has self won something?  She picks up.  A computer says:  Do you need dental care?  Did you know that . . . 

Of course self needs dental care!  Her teeth are so bad, she’s still paying her dentist $300/month for some crowns, even though she hasn’t been in to see her dentist in a year.  At this rate, she’ll finally get her “balance owed” down to “0” sometime in the spring of 2014.

Ah well, ah well.

*     *     *     *

Did dear blog readers know that they can obtain one of Stella Kalaw’s fantastic prints through Fraction Magazine, on sale through Dec. 31?

*     *     *     *

What about the Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines?  Self decided to look at The Huffington Post.  The most recent post is dated a month ago.  It’s about climate change.  It’s well worth spending a couple of hours reading through each post.  There is a mosaic of perspectives including from the Global Fund for Women in Menlo Park (They donated $500, which is a drop in the bucket, but hey, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth)

Gerry Ruiz, a photographer who lived in Tacloban, has a Facebook page.  Follow the photographs.  There is a definite arc of hope (not to downplay the extent of the devastation, of course).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Stanford Creative Writing Program Stegner Updates, and Other Stuff

Two more rejections came in the mail today:  from The Bellevue Review (Self has friends who’ve been published here, that’s why she keeps trying) and from The Antioch Review.  For the very same story that, a couple of months ago, won her the nicest rejection ever, from Epoch:  made it to the final round!  She just has to grit her teeth and keep going.

As luck would have it, top of her Pile of Stuff is the newsletter of the Stanford English Department.  Self browses through, stops at the Lecturer and Stegner Updates:

Stegner Fellow NoViolet Bulawayo’s first novel, We Need New Names, was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.  Stegner Fellow Austin Smith’s first collection of poems, Almanac, was selected by Paul Muldoon for the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets and was published in September 2013 by Princeton University Press.  Anthony Marra, a Jones Lecturer, had his first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, long-listed for the National Book Award.

And there were a few people whose stories will be in the 2014 Pushcart Prize anthology, which means they beat out self, whose story “Magellan’s Mirror” was the sole Pushcart nominee from J Journal.  Self was proud about the nomination, because J Journal is just getting into this process.  Also, she doesn’t know how many other Filipino/Filipina writers got nominated for the Pushcart last year.  She’s willing to bet, not many.  She wonders which Filipino/Filipina got into the Pushcart 2014, along with those lucky Stegners.  Guess she’ll find out in a few months, duh.

But self should stop focusing on the negative.

2013 has actually been one of her more triumphant years.

In January 2013, her first novella, Jenalyn, was published as an e-book by Vagabondage Press of Florida.

In June 2013, Manila Noir, which included a story of hers, was published by Akashic Books.

Waccamaw published a short story, “Bridging,” in October.

Her stories came “very close” with some big magazines.  In fact, most of her 2013 rejections were personal:  she either made it to the final round, or close to.

The most “fun” event she attended in 2013 was the Filipino International Book Festival in October, because she got to hear Luisa Igloria, Angela Narciso Torres, and many other Filipino and Filipino American writers read, and because she got to buy books from Linda Nietes of Philippine Expressions.

Going to Miami was special, especially her visits to Zack’s University of Miami classes, the dinner at Evelina Galang’s house and just experiencing the all-around buzz from a city that seems almost like Space Age meets Skid Row (The food is fantastically W.O.W)

Son got his masters degree from Claremont, and self and The Man had a fun couple of days in southern California in May, during which The Man got to experience the delights of eating out with son and Jennie, while self cleared the decks for Episode 7 of Game of Thrones.  The trip south was The Man’s first visit to son since son began the Ph.D. program in Psychology, three years ago.  It was also our first driving trip down I-5 in perhaps 20 years.  And lo and behold, Harris Ranch was still alive and kicking.  So of course we had to stop, and we had to eat steak.

Then there were self’s visits to Magalang, Pampanga; to Bacolod; to Venice, Italy!

Oh. self suddenly recalls that this is the first winter without The Ancient One.  Bella passed away in October, after spending 18 years of her life with us.  Bella’s passing was a very long, slow, and patient decline, and she passed away lying in the hot sun on the deck, one day when The Man was at work, and self was flying back from Bacolod.  What a sharp contrast to Gracie’s passing, in 2009, which was horrible.  Just the most horrible, painful thing.

Bella’s doggie bed and dishes are still in the backyard because neither self nor The Man has the heart to put them away.  They’re covered with matted brown leaves.

Oh, 2013.

Stay tuned.

Good For You, Self!

You did not give in to temptation and slink off to see “Oblivion”!  No, you stayed home, and saved $7.  Not only that, you saved two hours of your life which were instead spent on:

  • Catching up with old friends.  You found an e-mail from Beth Alvarado.  Which was just so, so —  zen, because you had just been in the Stanford Creative Writing Program yesterday, attending a colloquium with T. C. Boyle (T.C., why are you so hip?  What gives you the right to be so hip?  How can you be a famous author and not be an ass?  How?  How?  How?  Is it your red converse sneakers and the black suit and the hair that probably at one time used to be a mullet?) and it would have been a terrible waste of the energy flow from that event to see a movie like “Oblivion.”
  • You got to try to get son off from jury duty.  That is, you called the San Mateo County Courthouse on his behalf and explained that on the date in question, son would be in Claremont, receiving his Masters diploma.  And the lady said, “Fine.  I’ll move his date to the following week.”  To which self really had no rejoinder.  Well, actually, she did attempt a rejoinder but the lady cut her off and said, “Ma’am, this is the second postponement.  By now he should know what his summer plans are!” Self meekly subsided.
  • You got to hear the mail landing in the mailbox.  And you were then able to see that you had a form rejection (from Colere) and an announcement of winners of the Sarabande Book Prize and were informed that IF you were a finalist, the entry fee for next year’s contest would be waived, so you thought that you were a finalist, until you read the names of the finalists.  What is the point of sending a letter saying IF you are this, then you won’t have to pay a fee to join the contest next year, when there are only three finalists and the letter was probably sent to EVERYBODY?
  • You got to do more web research on your favorite characters from “Game of Thrones” :  Jaime Lannister (You finally realized you’d been mis-spelling his name forever), and Brienne of Tarth.  And you found this fascinating interview between Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Self can’t believe she actually spelled that correctly), and Rolling Stone.  NC-W says quote unquote:  I’m sorry, I’m going in circles.  You were asking about Brienne and I’m talking about Jaime!  To which interviewer responds quote unquote:  It’s very Jaime of you.  To which NC-W responds quote unquote:  We should have Gwen on the phone.  It’d be more fun.

See, this is the reason why watching Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth on “Game of Thrones” is so much fun:  there’s this on-going banter between two people who respect each other, one of whom just happens to be a man.  And maybe Brienne, the woman, really wishes she were a man as well.  The man’s good looks are completely incidental to the relationship, and the woman’s plain-ness is incidental as well.  Holy Cow!  Did you catch that smokin’ hot tub scene in Episode 5?  When Brienne stood up from the water where she’d been just moments earlier simpering like a blushing bride and displayed herself to Jaime in all her earthly glory (from the back, but her curves were evident), and the guy was just — mesmerized?  As were we, the viewers?

Until the fight on the bridge episode (Episode 2?), which was the last one self saw before leaving for Venice, self’s favorite character on “Game of Thrones” was Daenerys.  But —  no more!  Give her Brienne’s awkward ungainliness any time!

So, given that self had skipped watching approximately three weeks’ worth of “Game of Thrones,” she could be forgiven for wondering why Jaime Lannister was wearing that hand on a rope around his neck.  She didn’t realize it was his own hand until some bandit began ridiculing him about it.  Then it was — GASP! —  Holy Major Plot Development!  As some other person on the web said (You see?  Self really HAS been all over the web this afternoon!):  Jaime.  Oh, Jaime.  I really hope you’re ambidexterous.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Other (Mostly Discouraging) News

Once in a while, self gets the strange feeling that she is on a boat, and that the ground is moving up and down.  She felt it just a few minutes ago, in a bar where she was checking e-mail messages.

Self, get a grip!  Even though Venice is resting on ancient wooden pylons, it is not a ship.  You’re going daft.

Since arriving in Venice, self has received  a total of eight rejections, and one announcement of contest results.  The contest was the one by New South.  Why self thinks she Read the rest of this entry »

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