JENALYN, Self’s First Novella, Downloadable Now: Only $2.99 per Download!

And here’s the link, dear blog readers!

It’s very experimental storytelling.

And it’s available FREE for a very limited time  (NOT!  You waited too long!  Now you have to pay $2.99!)

If anyone is interested in reviewing Jenalyn or The Lost Language (more about this collection, below), please contact self so that she can send you review copies!

*     *     *     *

And here’s something else:  Because The Lost Language, self’s third collection of short stories, was published by a Philippine press, Anvil, it hasn’t been readily available here in the States.  Self has told many people that, if they should chance to be in the Philippines, they should drop by their local National Bookstore or Powerbooks and pick up a copy there.  That, or have a visiting relative bring over a copy.

But self has just discovered that Linda Nietes of Philippine Expressions (L.A.-based long-time purveyor of Filipiniana) gets a monthly shipment of books from the Philippines, so if you want a copy, all you need to do is e-mail her at:

linda@philippineexpressions.com

She has a Paypal account.

When self’s first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, was published, it was Linda Nietes who organized the launch in L.A.  And she has done the same for untold numbers of Filipino and Filipino American writers.  Really, self cannot thank her enough!

Stay tuned.

You Asked For It, You Got It!

More answers for the “Next Big Thing” Meme (Apologies for being two days late!)

Question # 7:  How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Self has two current book projects:  a short story collection called Magellan’s Mirror, and a novel (her first!) called The Vanquished.

The title story of the short story collection Magellan’s Mirror —  self began that story sometime in 2009 (A handful go as far back as 2006).  The other stories are mostly since that period.  The draft will never be finished.  Until the manuscript gets accepted by a publisher, self will just keep working and adding and revising.  So, let’s say the collection gets picked up in 2015, and self gets to answer this question again:  At that point, she can say, “Six years.” But until then, who knows?

As for The Vanquished —  she started the book with the events that are now in Chapter 2.  That was sometime 2009 as well.  Whoa!  That was truly a watershed year for self, writing-wise!  2009 was also the year Anvil brought out The Lost Language.  It was a year after self’s sister-in-law, Ying, passed away.  Whenever someone in self’s family dies, it just lights a fire under self.  It’s how she “deals” —  with anything hurtful.  By writing.  So, bring on the hurt, World!

About Ying:  She was so proud of self’s writing.  Self got a lot of inspiration from her.  Self wrote a story called “The Peacock,” about a trip she and Ying took to Angkor Wat.  It’s so far not published, but that story is largely about the time she and Ying were in Siem Reap.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Story

This story is a story of return, or perhaps of many returnings.

Can she write this story?  She wants to; it exhausts her.

It is not a story about revenge (though, to be completely honest, there’s a little of that, too.  That, and anger.  Yes, those feelings are always in self, even in each and every bite of a crumbly piyaya)

Strangely, it also turned into a story about becoming American, about a person who knows her rights and doesn’t have to kowtow to anyone.

As an American, self returned to this island and to Bacolod, her father’s hometown.  She saw the wonder of the people (who she thought were the kindest people in the whole world, especially after self experienced the grief of her Manila family).  She made it her purpose to traverse every inch of this island, and to treat her experiences with the same respect with which a museum curator treats a priceless artifact.

Emotions —  ah, emotions.  They directed her gaze, always.

In her latest message, self’s Burmese friend Kyi says “people in Rangoon imported a lot of flowers from the Philippines, including the double bougainvillea Million Dollar.”  What a fantastic name for a flower!  Self has never seen a bougainvillea with that name, certainly not in California.  And she is suddenly reminded that she has, growing in her Redwood City backyard, a bougainvillea “Purple Queen” that she managed to coax to life after six months of anxious coddling, and was just starting to flower when she left for Bacolod, in early October.

She loves this island.  Her eyes ache, just to look at it.  Her room looks out over the rooftops of Bacolod.  Her gaze always ends at the sea.  There was where the ships came:  first, pirates.  Then, Spanish missionaries.  Then, French engineers.  Then, American soldiers.  Followed, at last, by the Japanese Imperial Army.

Like son, self loves the sea.  Or water of any kind.

In self’s room, she now has five copies of The Lost Language.  She bought them at National Bookstore in Greenbelt One.  She has never given a reading in Bacolod, not in all her years of being a writer, and wonders if she ever will.  Here’s a passage from a story in the collection, “Dust”:

It was sunny, a glorious day.  April was sometimes cold, but Jocelyn thought she could sense summer coming, just around the corner.

The girl who clipped them, that afternoon in April, was just 18.  Driving her red Ford Mustang at a speed that was just short of criminal, she’d gotten her driver’s license only that month.

The Ford Explorer rolled over and over and over —  for almost two years she kept seeing the image.  It would flash into her mind, often just before she lay her head down to sleep.  Then she had to get up and pace the bedroom, or take two Ambien if there was something important she wanted to do the next day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

More of That Hybrid Piece, “The Lost Language”

First you have to find the earlier post so that you can read from the beginning.  Self will post in dribs and drabs, as time permits.

You know how busy Dear Blog Mistress is, don’cha, dear blog readers?  What with running after The Decrepit One and gardening and sweeping dog hairs off the hardwood floors and so on.  Not to mention editing self’s mail-order bride novella for ever-so-patient press in Florida!  Self would just like to say:  Today has been a Super Duper Special Day.  Why?  Because she:  1.  Got an acceptance from Word Riot; and 2.  Got to eat salted caramel macarons from Pamplemousse!  Her waistline is getting so alarmingly large!

“The Lost Language” (cont.)

Eventually, however, the people grew lazy.  They neglected the care and cultivation of their fields, their harvests diminished greatly and their business with other tribes was discredited because of the small quantity they raised.  Almost all the tobacco fields were abandoned.  With no tobacco crop to provide them with income, the people could not obtain the most basic goods and other necessities to sustain their lives.

One day, a strong earthquake shook the foundation of the earth.  Soon afterward, a volcano started spewing out fire and smoke.  The people were frightened and ran helter-skelter towards the sea.

To their astonishment, Hari sa Bukid suddenly appeared.  He was in a terrible rage.  Looking down on his huddled people, he rebuked them.  As he spoke, lightning flew from his nostrils and his voice roared, “You are no better than animals!”

The people could find no words to defend themselves.  Mutely, they cowered before their King.  They knew they were guilty of the serious crimes of disobedience and laziness.  Soon after, Hari sa Bukid gathered the scant amounts of tobacco left in the fields and departed.  He carried the tobacco to the top of the mountain and with a terrific blow of his fist, bore a hole to the center of the earth.  After he had entered the hole, the earth closed over him.  Hari sa Bukid disappeared and was never seen again.

(To be continued.  Stay tuned, dear blog readers)

Hybrid Essay Love: “The Lost Language”

“The Lost Language” was one of self’s first “hybrid” pieces. She loved it to death — both the process of writing it, and where it appeared.  The piece was first published in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of a nifty magazine called Isotope, a journal that combined literary, nature and science writing.

That issue of Isotope also contained work by fiction writer Jaimee Wriston Colbert, creative nonfiction by Lee Gulyas, and poetry by Winifred Hughes and Shara Lessley.  The editor was Chris Cokinos.  Isotope’s advisory board included two biologists, a painter, a psychologist, and three poets.

Later that year (2009), “The Lost Language” became the title story of her third collection, published in the Philippines by Anvil Press. Since that Read the rest of this entry »

“Isa” : Seascape, Poem, Story

The Sea in the Netherlands near Amsterdam (Photo by self, snapped while balancing on a wobbly bike)

Water is H2O,
hydrogen two parts,
oxygen one,
but there is also that third thing,
that makes it water
and nobody knows what that is.

— D. H. Lawrence

*          *          *

An excerpt from self’s short story, “Isa” (from the collection The Lost Language, published in the Philippines by Anvil Press, 2009.  Also published in Rogue, the Bacolod issue, April 2009):

Remember the names of the fishes and birds.  Remember the beings of the sea, the beings of the air.  Remember how you fell asleep each night, listening to your mother’s crooning and to the sound of the waves.

At first, there was a way to walk on the ground between the houses.  But gradually the water rose and that was when we began to use the rope bridges.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Man in the Post Office/ “The Pacific”, Disc 2/ Jacob Pitt (A Very Digressive Post)

This morning, self braved the hail, the gusty winds, the rain etc etc and went to the Main Post Office on Broadway in Redwood City to mail a copy of The Lost Language to Reena Peña (friend of a friend, who self met in Bacolod in January).

Dearest Mum suggested a restaurant for our first meeting:  Baybay, which Dearest Mum said was somewhere in the Bacolod Reclamation Area.  So Reena came to fetch self at L’Fisher Chalet, and she had her driver take us all over the Reclamation Area while we looked for this restaurant, and it was nowhere to be found.  Later, Reena asked around and found out that the restaurant had closed —  years and years ago. “So I guess,” Reena told self, “Baybay went Bye Bye!” 🙂

Anyhoo, self mailed her book to Rina today.  There was a long line at the post office.  That was OK, self loves to let her mind wander when she is standing in line.  Plus it was raining so hard outside.  Self was in no hurry to leave the post office.

The problem was that a man came in, and it was non-stop explosive sneezing.  Self looked at the man:  a middle-aged Chinese gent, with a very red face, obviously sick.  Self put a scarf up to her nose.  ACHOO!  ACHOO!  ACHOO! went the man, about 20 times.

When self reached the clerk, she practically threw her money at her and didn’t wait for the receipt.  “I have to go.  Oh my God,” self burst out.  “I just have to get out of here.”

The clerk looked at self with the most bewildered expression and asked, “Why?”

The explosively sneezing man walked right up to the clerk and self took off, practically running.

Granted, a cold virus is not as bad as nuclear radiation (unless, of course, it is SARS).  In fact, it’s a very very mild irritant, just one more inescapable facet of daily, tedious life.  But self still remembers how, flying Delta out of Narita in February, half the people who got on in Tokyo donned surgical masks as soon as they were seated in the plane cabin.  (Are those sensitive souls still in Tokyo, self wonders?  Given the current levels of radiation in vicinity?)

And she also remembers how, her first three weeks back in California, she had the most awful cough.  It kept her up every night.

No, she would not like to have that experience repeated.

When self arrived home, she discovered that UCLA and Florida were in a very tight game, and UCLA was trailing.

##@@!!!

To calm herself, self began roaming the web, and saw something that made her think she wanted to add the Kate Winslet movie “Revolutionary Road” to her Netflix queue.  But upon logging on to Netflix, she found that she had exceeded the number of movies she can rent for the duration.

She’s been watching “The Pacific” with hubby.  There are six discs in total.  Yesterday, self found out that Disc 2 is extremely, extremely slow (at least, compared to the heroics on Disc 1, which focused on Guadalcanal).  The soldiers are on furlough in Melbourne.  There are many scenes of hooking up with comely Australian lasses.  And one of the main characters gets sent to another island for treatment of a mysterious ailment called “eneuresis”  which seems to involve much bedwetting.  But there are hardly any of those rousing scenes of battle that self was led to expect from Disc 1.  (“Why are there no Asian American soldiers?” self found herself whining to hubby.  Hubby’s immediate response:  “They were all assigned to Europe.  They wouldn’t send them to the Pacific Theater:  they might get mistaken for the Japanese!”  Oh.)

There are more scenes, however, involving Jacob Pitt, who, though far from being one of the main characters, is simply magnetic —  especially the more haggard and scrawny he gets.  This actor first came to self’s attention on “Justified,” where he impressed self with his sardonic delivery.  On “Justified” Season 2, he is becoming —  seriously —  hot.

And since self has started on the subject of “Justified,” let’s just say she loves that there is less emphasis on Raylan shooting people (During Season 1, he just about killed one man per episode), but there are some very dark characters emerging.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Libreria, Cubao X, December 18

Seated: Danton Remoto, Karina Bolasco, and moi, surrounded by exuberant Filipino bloggers!

This is what happiness should feel like, every day!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, ALL!

That book Danton is holding up is self’s, self’s, seeelf’s !!!

She will be back in beloved homeland before dear blog readers can say “tiddly-winks” !!!  Why?  Because she can!  Because she doesn’t start her full-time administrative position until March!  Because she has a very long-suffering husband!  Because the vet said he would take care of Gracie while self was out of the country (Now the vet is self’s new Best Friend!).  Because once is never enough!  Because life is too short!

And, self is so kapal.  She actually e-mailed Pao that she wanted to have a “Take Two.”  (Self, when will you stop being so buwaya?  When will you learn to get off your high horse and —  once again, she digresses!)

Stay tuned.

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