The Weekend Roundup (Letter ‘I’)

Here are the Instructions:

1. Starts with “I.”
2. A Favorite.
3. “I”nsect.
Tom 😀

  1. Starts with ‘I’: IMPROBABLE – In a very wee vintage shop in downtown Fort Bragg, DoOrwaRd, self found this magnificent print by “the foremost mushroom forager on the West Coast,” Billy Sprague.

2. A Favorite ‘I’: The opening sentence to self’s story, which appeared in Western Humanities Review last year: “I didn’t like the blind woman.” Apologies for the shameless plug, but she roamed all over her archives and didn’t find Irises or any other favorite thing beginning with an ‘I’ and was impatient.

3. Finally, Insect: Louise Bourgeois’s giant spiders at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, July 2018

Louise Bourgeois giant spiders at the San Francisco MOMA

Literary Magazine Spotlight: ROSEBUD

from the listing on Duotrope:

  • ROSEBUD is one of the most dramatically eclectic literary magazines published in English, designed for the interests of both readers and writers. Our mission is to encourage a higher literacy by publishing a wide range of modern and traditional writing with a great variety of subjects, literary styles, and cultural points of view. While we publish many famous and established writers, most of our content comes from newer or under-appreciated authors.

One of their regular contributors was a man in federal prison in California (since released). Editor’s note: “Throughout his incarceration, he has continued to produce laudable work in circumstances under which most people would not be able to write at all.”

Here’s the cover of self’s contributor copy, Issue 67, dated 2020:

They published self’s story The Vanishing, which had been hard to place because . . . Juan de Salcedo? Who the heck ever heard of Juan de Salcedo! The grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who got to the Philippines in 1565 with (she just found out, from reading Conquering the Pacific) an older brother, Felipe. Juan de Salcedo was 17, Felipe was 18.

Felipe became captain of his grandfather’s flagship, the San Pedro, on the vuelta. He succeeded in taking it all the way back to Nueva España (quite a feat for an 18-year-old!). Juan stayed with his grandfather, who died in the Philippines the following year. No one really knows what happened to Juan de Salcedo after, but self found, in a book by the late Filipino journalist Manuel Duldulao, a reference to a group of about 40 “starving Spaniards” who tried to push their way into the Mountain Province. The Spaniards were led by a “boy.” That was a very young and green Juan de Salcedo, trying to survive.

Anyhoo, how can you not become fascinated with that boy? In self’s short story, they call him “Vanquisher.” A fourth of self’s story was written in Spanish, without translation. The conceit was that the Spanish issued from the mouth of the insomniac king, His Royal Catholic Majesty Felipe II, and he really didn’t care if anyone (meaning you, dear reader) understood him or not.

An excerpt from The Vanishing:

His Royal Majesty will grant Legazpi five ships. Two ships more than El Viejo expected. Each ship will be fitted with the usual complement of bronze cannon. And 500 men, he adds, almost as an afterthought. Legazpi thinks how those ships will sit in the water, attracting privateers the way honey does flies. He imagines Portuguese and Dutch sails bearing down swiftly in fresh wind.

Thank you, Rosebud editors, for giving self’s story, as well as that of so many others, a home.

Hearing

Despite the frustrating lack of PDAs between Holmes and Mary Russell, this book has been serving up an array of delightful facts about supernatural phenomena.

Convo between Mary Russell and the Princess Ileana:

“But tell me about the ghosts in Bran Castle. The ones you’ve heard.”

“I don’t know that one can hear a ghost, there’s another name for that.”

“Poltergeist?”

“That’s it — a spirit that knocks things about.” Which, though I would not tell her, generally appears in the vicinity of an adolescent girl who feels that not enough attention is being paid her.

“I thought once I heard a voice speaking.”

Castle Shade, p. 147

That’s funny, self occasionally hears voices too! And this voice, this disembodied voice, always says, plaintively, “Mommy! Mommy!”

Once she heard it in Bangkok Airport and it almost broke her heart, it sounded so lost, so sad. She found herself turning her head, this way and that, as if looking for a lost child.

Ghosts feature a lot in self’s fiction. Mary Russell’s remark about adolescent girls made her think immediately of one story in particular: Seeing, in PANK

Ghosts are amazing narrative devices.

Apologies for this digression. Back to reading the enormously entertaining Castle Shade!

Stay tuned.

Excerpt from “Sand” (Pembroke Magazine No. 53)

Published here.

  • And then my dreams started. I dreamt of matryoshka dolls dancing around my bed. I dreamt my boyfriend, Melvin, had turned into a matryoshka doll. He stood next to me, making matryoshka doll faces. His severely penciled eyebrows acquired the intensity of lightning bolts. “Fuck!” I said. “Melvin, stop making matryoshka doll faces at me.” Melvin disappeared, and in his place was a dancing chicken. A dancing grilled chicken. A barbecue stick skewering each wing. I couldn’t believe Melvin had turned into a chicken and there was a chance I might eat him. Then I woke up. That’s how I knew, if I didn’t steal my mother’s Chopard earrings, and soon, I’d always be the kind of person whose boyfriend turned into a matryoshka doll that made faces at her.

It doesn’t read quite as exciting on the page, but I can assure you, the effect on the Banff audience when I read that passage was electric!

It’s actually a very melancholy story.

Stay tuned.

Banff Centre for the Arts: Introducing the Program in Literary Journalism

This summer, from July 4 to July 16, Banff is offering a new program, Literary Journalism. Meetings are in-person on the Banff campus. Self knows one of the instructors, Charlotte Gill.

Self was at Banff Writers Studio, seven years ago, when she was just starting her novel, and the feedback she got from her mentors was invaluable. She wishes she could enroll for this program, as she’d do anything to get back to Banff again, but she’s not a journalist. (The only caveat was that she got fat. They give you a food allowance at the start, and there are five eateries to choose from. By the end of the five weeks, everyone in her program was complaining how much weight they’d gained. Then we had to pose for group pictures, which was really embarrassing.)

At the MacLab, she once sat one table over from k. d. lang — exciting, except she didn’t find out until after k.d. lang left. Part of the Writer’s Studio is giving a public reading, and self signed up for the very last day. She was so nervous, she had to drink a glass of wine beforehand. The story she read from was “Sand,” and had — profanity! There was some restless movement from the audience when she uttered the first word. After that, only laughter. So great.

btw, it took a while, but “Sand” finally found a home last year, in Pembroke Magazine:

Banff Centre’s Literary Journalism 2022 program encourages the exploration of new ideas in journalism and experimentation in writing. Designed to challenge and stimulate, the program aims to inspire creative pieces of nonfiction and to assist the writers in their completion. A preeminent space for long-form journalism, this residency emphasizes the strengths of thorough and articulate reporting, distinctive storytelling, and literary devices.

Application Deadline: March 9, 2022

Complete information can be found here.

Sea of Images 2021

Four Stories and One Forthcoming, 2021

Her story about Chopard earrings, dancing chickens and matryoshka dolls, out now in the most recent issue of Pembroke Magazine.

Two stories about ghosts and guilt, one set in Murcia, Spain, the other in Miami’s South Beach, just out in Vice-Versa

Her story about Osama bin Laden (yes, THAT Osama bin Laden), forthcoming in The Museum of Americana.

There is one other story which was published late 2020, so mebbe it doesn’t really belong here, but what the hoo: her story about a ferry disaster on the Philippine Sea, published in the most recent issue of Western Humanities Review.

Share Your Desktop Photo Challenge: August 2021

It has been QUITE a summer. How fast it went. And now the Olympics are over, we’re out of Afghanistan, and fall is just around the corner.

You’re alive, we’re alive, wear a mask.

Thank you to the host of this challenge, Clare’s Cosmos!

Support Literary Magazines

Self has short stories in all of these literary magazines.

Gratuitous self-promotion, what?

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

PEMBROKE MAGAZINE, Latest Issue is Out Now

Grab your copy before it’s too late!

This most recent issue contains poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by emerging and established authors from the US and abroad. An aimless college graduate searches the suburbs for his lost dog and finds ominous duplication; soldiers are sent to the frigid tundra to repopulate a nation. A man reconsiders his complex relationship with the watermelon. A Woman escapes to a surreal tropical island with a diamond earring. A daughter recalls her stitched-together childhood home; and much more.  Cover art by Chhavi Sharma.

Support great writing.

Order your copies now!

Sentence of the Day: Story # 23, The Big Book of Classic Fantasy

The floors of the passageways were decked with poppy-petals, so that the queen’s feet would tread on purple only.

Furnica, or the Queen of the Ants, by Carmen Sylva (1843 – 1916), translated by Gio Carval

The Jules Verne story, Master Zacharius, was extremely silly.

The next story, by Louisa May Alcott, was something cute-sy about fairies and the Frost-King.

Self flew past Stories # 16, 17, 18, and 19.

She liked the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Will-o-the-Wisps Are in Town, but it did not slay.

She didn’t read the Lewis Carroll excerpt from Through the Looking Glass because she already knows that book intimately.

She was on the point of cherry-picking (instead of reaching each story in order) until she got to Furnica, or the Queen of the Ants. She hasn’t finished reading it yet, but it is soooo charming.

Furnica got to be Queen of the Ants because: 1) She is an orphan; 2) She is virtuous; and 3) She is extremely hardworking. The ants just love her. After becoming Queen of the Ants, she takes her job so seriously that she “visited the pupae every evening, to test the softness of their cots.” She is a just Queen, banishing recalcitrant ants and even condemning a few to death, though her heart bleeds as she watches “the merciless stabbings” carried out.

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

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