“Synth”: KTNS-12 Prepares for her Vivisection

Self is madly rotating her readings:

  • The Economist
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Eragon
  • Everlark fan fiction

With regards to the fan fiction, she’s consumed all the newest Everlark stories (And they do seem to be coming at a faster rate, since the last Hunger Games movie is set to screen this November), so she’s back to re-reading her favorites. One of her new favorites is a story called “Synth,” in which a cyborg named KTNS-12 is manufactured by a brilliant scientist named Beetee and his Junior Scientist Assistant named Peeta! YESSSS!

Self loves Cyborg KTNS-12!

She must not show any feelings at all. Feelings are anomalies. Feelings mean she is a defective.

But KTNS-12 has those feelings. Especially when Junior Scientist Peeta is around!

There are only two chapters posted, but Chapter 2 ends on a terrible cliff-hanger.

SPOILER TA-DA SPOILER DEE-DUM SPOILER

One day, KTNS-12 is brought to a lab where a trio of scientists waits to begin a new round of testing on her.

“This table is surrounded by a cluster of shining instruments on tray tables. Scissors. Scalpels. Gauze. Tweezers. There’s a C-clamp welded to the floor, and beside it stands an IV hook.”

The three scientists are named: Gloss, Cato, and Clove.

JEEPERS CREEPERS NOOOOO!!!

Paging Junior Scientist Peeta! Emergency! Paging Junior Scientist Peeta!

But KTNS-12 can’t show fear. She enters the room, all the while reassuring herself by thinking: I am not afraid. I am not afraid.

End of Chapter.

Please, O Esteemed Fan Fiction Author, please updaaaate. Self can’t stand it. Her head is full of horrible imaginings.

Three years ago, self had a story published by the New Orleans Review. The setting was an apocalyptic future (Of course: self is nothing if not obsessed by the apocalyptic future) where strange mutated animals were being kept in an Animal Rehabilitation Center tended by humans who were barely humans anymore. One human had flashing metal wheels in place of legs, etc etc etc. The story is called, appropriately “Thing.” Because people have no labels for that which defies characterization, so it is just called . . . Thing. And, no need for self to tell dear blog readers that a world where there is such murkiness about life that “things” proliferate is a dark, dark world. A world of the most Abject Despair.

Self is inured, in other words, to all kinds of fictional pain.

But the thing about fan fiction is, everything is in progress. A lot of times, stories never get completed. Or, if a story gets completed, it’s sometimes as long as a year between updates. And the tension just builds and builds and . . .

OK, self has got to calm down. Because it’s Sunday night and her life is so full.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

I WILL NEVER OWN ENOUGH BOOKS Spreads AmazeSauce over Self’s Saturday!

Today, I Will Never Own Enough Books nominated self for the CREATIVE BLOGGER AWARD!

Epic Blush!

The rules say that self has to share five facts about herself. So here goes:

  1. Her favorite indulgence is reading Everlark fan fiction.
  2. She was a Fellow in the Stanford University Creative Writing Program.
  3. Her 2nd favorite indulgence is watching plays. The last play she saw (July 2015) was “King John” at the Globe in London.
  4. She loves riding trains.
  5. She has written a 9/11 story called “Wavering” (Published in a literary magazine now defunct, boo).

So here are self’s five nominees:

  1. TheGypsyMind16
  2. The Alchemist’s Kitchen
  3. Kick-Ass Ireland!
  4. cassandra jp
  5. Kahakai Kitchen

Onward!

Story. Story. Story (Fiction. Fiction. Fiction)

Last week, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I was in a big hurry. I had to be someplace at 9 a.m.

I looked up. It was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. For real.

He made a motion with his hand: Picture?

Picture? I said back.

Picture with me?

Sorry, I said, I don’t have a camera.

Cell phone?

No.

And I could see this person’s eyes. Through the TMNT mask. Not blue. Not green. Not grey. Maybe brown. They were so — hopeful?

Hug, I said.

So I leaned over just the slightest bit.

After: Was it the blue dress I wore that day? Or the determined look on my face?

Whacha think, 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.

Self’s Very Own Apocalyptic Dystopia

Why on earth would self be quoting from The 100 when she has written her own story of apocalyptic dystopia that was published just a few months ago?

Right? Right?

Here again is something from “The Freeze” (Bluestem, Spring 2015). When she realizes how long the story is — it’s a miracle. It’s written in very hallucinatory prose. And she was able to go on like that, without switching voice, for almost 20 pages? Self is always surprised when she can pull something like that off.

To tell the truth, every one of her speculative fiction stories is an experiment. Beginning with the extremely short story, “The Departure,” published in Philippine Genre Stories (thanks to Charles Tan, who solicited it for their very first issue).

She likes applying the dreamy voice to her science fiction.

Moving along.

There is a very terrifying scene in “The Freeze.” But she will skip right over that because she is quite distressed herself after reading it.

No sign of Annie. She had been taken by a great, invisible force. Up, towards the light? Or down to the sea. Who knew?

If there was no body, there could not be a death. That comforted me.

I walked in the gloomy dark until I heard, far away but distinct, the sound of waves pounding the cliffs.

Descend.

Almost overnight, the temperature dropped, and dropped, and dropped.

Mr. King, the old man who lived next door, said, It’s just a cold spell. It will pass.

But two weeks later, it was dark almost the whole day.

The roses blackened, my teeth chattered in my head.

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.

First Sentence, New Story/ And Self’s Discovery of a New Fantasy Book Series

  • Let me tell you about wind.
Self was going to take a picture for this week's WordPress Photo Challenge, instead she got distracted by bars of light . . .

Self was going to take a picture for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, instead she got distracted by bars of light . . .

It is a red-letter day. Self started a new series by Christopher Paolini. The first book of the series, Eragon.

Over the years, she has had much cause to thank various nieces, nephews, sons of friends who tell her, “Read this! You won’t regret it!” She thought it would be fun to compile a list of series she started because niece/nephew/children of friends brought them to her attention. Here goes:

MASSIVE SPOILER-Y ALERT:

  • The Hunger Games: Thank you to Niece G, who saw self reading Twilight and told her: “You should read The Hunger Games.” Self put off finishing Book 1 (the last 50 pages) because she thought Peeta was going to die. Until, one fine day, she spilled her angst to Niece G and Niece G said, “Peeta makes it.” Then self had to rush back home because she needed to finish the last 50 pages she’d put off reading. For three years. Two books later, self was a goner. How deep into this stuff is self? She even entertained the notion of meeting up in Dallas for a convening of Everlark fan fiction writers)
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief:  Thank you to son of Gayo A.
  • The Infernal Devices: Thank you to niece in Calgary, Karina Villanueva.
Karina in Calgary: So Adorbs!

Karina in Calgary: So Adorbs!

  • Eragon: Thank you to Isaac S. At first self thought she would never get over The Infernal Devices — the angst! The Victorian Steampunk! London and York! — but Isaac thought she just might like this new series, so anyhoo, she gave it a shot. Hoooooly Smoke !!!! The Prologue was — mind-blowing.

Also just began reading Kass Morgan’s The 100 (which she heard is very different from the CW TV series). The plot goes something like this: 100 juvenile delinquents get sent to Earth to re-populate it. YAY!

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.

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