Monday, April 30, 2007

dean = proudly avuncular

Like a delighted uncle (and mind you, I'm not taking credit for their success or 'discovery'), I'm happy to note new publications and fellowships of authors whose works appeared in Philippine Speculative Fiction Vols. 1 & 2 (let's go, spec fic!):


Oscar Bryan Alvarez - "The Chain Letter Siege" in Story Philippines
Douglas Candano - "Dreaming Valhalla" in Story Philippines
Kate Aton-Osias - "The 101st Michael" in Philippine Genre Stories
Sean Uy - "The Final Interview" in Philippine Genre Stories
Nikki Alfar - "Beacon" in Philippine Genre Stories (in her case, 'avuncular' is the wrong word)


Jonathan Siason and Joshua Lim So made it to the Iligan Writers Workshop
Mia Tijam heads off to Dumaguete for the Silliman Writers Workshop

Kudos to everyone.



A couple of weeks ago, I had a great conversation with PinoyCentric's Karla Maquiling, right after my talk at iBlog3 (my presentation notes, sans the funny stuff, can be found here).

We spoke about writing and other things of interest (like how I consider myself a 'barok' blogger, LOL). It was startling to talk to someone who knew so much about me and my previous work.

Check out the Innerview.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

long live the legion

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It's no secret that I love comics.

The very first I ever owned was an issue of Omega the Unknown (Marvel), which wasn't very good but regardless is branded into my memory.

When I was 12 years old, one of wildest comic dreams came true when I arrived home from school. Waiting for me were a pair of huge balikbayan boxes stuffed with comics - X-Men, Sgt. Rock, Legion, Superman, Spiderman, House of Mystery, Incredible Hulk, Donald Duck, Avengers, Justice League, Thor and many others. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.

Growing up, I spent my allowance on comic books in Greenhills: back issues at Crishareth, current issues at ComicQuest and Filbar's. These four-color books were like a godsend, providing trapdoors into other worlds, expanding my vocabulary ("Forsooth!"), teaching me writing subconsciously, entertaining me endlessly.

And I wrote back to the comics I loved, praising or critiquing the authors and artists.

During that time, comics had letter columns, and my letterhack idol was TM Maple who wrote long insightful missives.

I wrote dozens of letters, hoping to be published (see? even then I wanted to be published). And miraculously, I saw my letters printed in the pages of the very comic books I loved: Doom Patrol, Strikeforce: Morituri, Batman, Teen Titans, Elfquest, and others.

I stopped writing to comic books when real life had to be lived, and began restricting my comic book purchases over the years. It has been difficult - I'm still an addict but the financial cost of maintaining a current collection is extreme. Nowadays, I buy a trade paperback (which collects a comic book storyline in one volume) or two once in a while. But if I had all the money in the world, I'd be buying the monthlies.

A few weeks ago, my friend Alex surprised me by lending me a box of comics. "It's Legion and others," he told me. I lugged the box up the condo intending to start reading that very night but other deadlines - work and writing - took precedence.

I had almost forgotten that I had a box of comics to read until last night, when, after completing a short story, I decided to stretch my legs and almost tripped over the box.

I opened it and found myself in mylar and backing board heaven. With trembling hands, I got around three inches of comics and began to read.

It was the "5 Years Later" run of the Legion of Superheroes, written by Tom and Mary Bierbaum with art and plot by Keith Giffen. I remember being in the minority of fans who actually loved this incarnation so I began to read.

I was shocked by the cover year: 1989. I first read this comic book 18 years ago.

Soon, immersed in the narrative, I lost track of time. It was around issue #9 that I began to read the letters pages, and it was a bit like coming home reading the names of the letter writers then: TM Maple (of course), Elizabeth Holden, Jim Kelly, Malcolm Bourne.

In issue #11, the author of a particularly long letter was Dean Alfar. Me!

Shocked, because I had forgotten I had a letter printed there, I could only smile and relive my youth. I didn't remember writing that letter but it smacked of me, which suggests that the core tone of my writing voice has not changed dramatically.

It was an odd moment as I tried to remember what I was like then, what possessed me to composed such an analytical letter and send it off to New York (there was no email then, you young whippersnappers). I could not have known how my life would have turned out. I remember being more callous than caring, more horny than careful, more lazy than ambitious.

It was like looking at an old photograph and remembering, suddenly, bits and pieces of that year.

I am 20 again, even if only a moment, even if only for the space of a page.

Long live the Legion!

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All images are the property of DC Comics and their respective artists.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

dumaguete workshop

Krip Yuson has an article in the Philippine Star about the upcoming 46th Dumaguete Writers Workshop (or is it properly called the Silliman Writers Workshop now?).

It brought back memories of my summer there in 1992, with Sarge Lacuesta and my (then-secret) crush Mailen Paterno-Locsin. I was much younger then, quite the brash guy, and Mom Tiempo thought I was a powerkeg waiting to explode. I remember having so much unfocused anger coming in. At what precisely, I don't recall. But when it was over, I didn't want to leave. I'd found my new home away from home.

I was more of a dramatist then, with only a handful of published short stories to my name. I didn't want to get in the workshop via my plays though. It was my craft with fiction that I knew I needed help with. The workshop sessions affected me deeply.

I remember agreeing, foolishly, to go to Cebu with Sarge. His stipulation was that we did not take a plane. I didn't realize how terrible the journey would be for this city boy. The highlight of the trip was being crammed in a bus with pigs. By the time we arrived in Cebu, I was caked in dust and smelled haram. Oh, plus I think Sarge and I saw a UFO or something (noo noo noo noo noo noo noo noo).

It's an amazing three weeks because for that span of time you only have one hat to wear - a writer's hat. When you take it off, the real you is revealed. When you wear it, you can choose what "you" to reveal. It's a maddening truth/lies me/not me dichotomy thing that is both libertating and enslaving.

Fifteen years later, I think I've finally found the writerly road I want to travel.

And I'm excited for the new writing fellows who are going to take their first hops, skips and jumps down strange and wondrous paths.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

litcritters summer workshop

It'll be a busy May for the LitCritters, thanks to A Different Bookstore.

For three Saturdays in May, the LitCritters will conduct a 2-hour writing workshop on Speculative Fiction at the Eastwood City branch of A Different Bookstore (they have a full line-up of summer activities including Digital Photography, Drawing & Painting, Comics & Book Illustrations, and a lot more).

We'll cover a range of topics and will be more than happy to take a look at existing work and offer helpful pointers (but no texts longer than a short story, please).

Dates: May 5, 12 & 19, 2007 - 4PM to 6:00 PM

Fees - P300.00 per head / per session

Age: 18 years old and up

Moderators: Dean Francis Alfar, Kate Aton-Osias, Vincent Michael Simbulan, Alex Osias, Nikki Alfar, Andrew Drilon

For inquiries and reservations, please visit or call: A Different Bookstore, Eastwood City - 687-3932.

I'm extra-happy because there is a Coffee Bean right next to the bookstore in Eastwood - so I can have an IV drip of Extreme Ice Blended Mocha to counter the oppressive sun.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Call for Submissions: Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.3

I am now accepting submissions of short fiction pieces for consideration for the anthology "Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.3".

Speculative fiction is the literature of wonder that spans the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror and magic realism or falls into the cracks in-between.

1. Only works of speculative fiction will be considered for publication. As works of the imagination, the theme is open and free.

2. Stories must cater to an adult sensibility. However, if you have a Young Adult story that is particularly well-written, send it in.

3. Stories must be written in English.

4. Stories must be authored by Filipinos or those of Philippine ancestry.

5. Preference will be given to original unpublished stories, but previously published stories will also be considered. In the case of previously published material, kindly include the title of the publishing entity and the publication date. Kindly state also in your cover letter that you have the permission, if necessary, from the original publishing entity to republish your work.

6. First time authors are welcome to submit. In the first two volumes, there was a good mix of established and new authors. Good stories trump literary credentials anytime.

7. No multiple submissions. Each author may submit only one story for consideration.

8. Each story’s word count must be no fewer than 2,500 words and no more than 5,000 words.

9. All submissions must be in Rich Text Format (.rtf – save the document as .rft on your word processor) and attached to an email to this address: Submissions received in any other format will be deleted, unread.

10. The subject of your email must read: PSF3 Submission: (title) (word count); where (title) is replaced by the title of your short story, without the parentheses, and (word count) is the word count of your story, without the parentheses. For example - PSF 3 Submission: How My Uncle Brought Home A Diwata 4500.

11. All submissions must be accompanied by a cover letter that includes your name, brief bio, contact information, previous publications (if any).

12. Deadline for submissions is September 15, 2007. After that date, final choices will be made and letters of acceptance or regret sent out via email.

13. Target publishing date is December 2007/January 2008.

14. Compensation for selected stories will be 2 contributor’s copies of the published anthology as well as a share in aggregrate royalties.

Kindly help spread the word. Feel free to cut and paste or link to this on your blogs or e-groups.


Dean Francis Alfar

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

spectacularly speculative

From the Sunday Inquirer Magazine (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
April 22, 2007

Spectacularly speculative
By Ruel S. De Vera

MANILA, Philippines - As far as Dean Francis Alfar is concerned, Filipinos dream just as potently as any other race, especially when it comes to worlds and realms beyond our own. The much-bemedalled writer (nine Palanca Awards and counting) is easily the alpha writer in the kingdom of speculative fiction.

"Speculative fiction is the term used to describe the literature of the fantastic," he explains. "Its roots are in the science fiction genre, when it was first used to describe stories that were premised on the idea of 'What if?' As time progressed, it became an umbrella term for stories of the non-realist genres, which includes fantasy, science fiction and horror as well as fabulist, magical realist and interstitial stories. For the purpose of generating interest in the literature of the fantastic, I've adopted this term to encompass the stories of the Filipino imagination, as opposed to stories that use the methods of social realism and domestic realism."

Because teachers have tended to favor realism, Alfar says that it's very common for people to view speculative fiction as being kid's stuff. "There are many different types of stories, and none should be more privileged than the others," he says. "Speculative fiction celebrates the Filipino imagination and goes beyond mere escapism. The literature of the fantastic is just as capable of exploring and exposing the human condition."

Now, it is a matter of getting more people into reading and writing spec fic, and Alfar admits it's a relatively young genre. "Children's literature aside, I would consider Greg Brilliantes as one of the earliest, if not the earliest, writers of what we now consider speculative fiction, particularly with his 'The Apollo Centennial,'" he says.

"Good examples among the older writers are Alfred A. Yuson, for his novel 'Great Philippine Jungle Energy Cafe' and his short story 'The Music Child,' as well as Rosario Cruz Lucero's short stories. But the majority of Filipino speculative fiction is new and written by younger authors."

It's the rise of many of those young readers, and writers, that's given speculative fiction an opportunity for ascent. "They are more open to the collapsing of genre boundaries than their elders ever will be. This generation sees the intrinsic value of fantasy and the liberating power of science fiction," Alfar notes.

Alfar has walked the walk as well. A collection of his own spec fic stories, "The Kite of Stars and Other Stories," is due from Anvil Publishing later this year. But he has gone beyond that. Alfar has edited and published, through his Kestrel IMC, the country's first anthology of speculative fiction. "I believed that writers, if given an opportunity to write and publish these kinds of stories, would do so," he explains. "So I sounded a call on my blog and was happy with the results."

In fact, "Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 2" was launched just last December. For this book, Alfar says he received more stories than for the inaugural volume, some coming from all over the nation and even other countries, often from first-time authors. The third volume is in the works, hopefully before year's end. Alfar identifies the following as writers of quality speculative fiction today: Ian Rosales Casocot, Kit Kwe, Cyan Abad-Jugo, Sarge Lacuesta, Luis Katigbak, Yvette Tan, Nikki Alfar, Pocholo Goitia, Kate Aton-Osias, Andrew Drilon, Vin Simbulan, Douglas Candano, Alex Osias, Karl de Mesa, Joseph Nacino and JB Lazarte, among others. He notes that a new generation of younger writers is emerging as well.

Alfar is very much encouraged by all that he sees. "It is a very exciting time for writers of speculative fiction. There are so many directions to go, stories to tell, scenarios to bring to life, and issues to tackle," he says, pointing out that writers of spec fic can see such work published in venues such as Story Philippines, Philippines Free Press and the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. And in a development perfectly in synch with the nature of spec fic, blogs and the Internet help expand the audience.

"All Filipino speculative fictionists need to learn how to infuse their stories with the culture of our imagination, which means being Filipino and, at the same time, surrendering that very same limiting notion, being more than Filipino, unleashing the Filipino of our imagination, divorcing and embracing the ideas of identity, nationhood and universality," Alfar says of the next stage in the evolution of this uncharted territory. "We need to do magic."

Dean Francis Alfar keeps a blog at "Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 2" is available at Fully Booked, Booktopia and A Different Bookstore.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

beach time

Everyone in my company has been working hard so our company outing tomorrow for an overnight stay at a beach resort is truly welcome.

I'm bringing wife and daughter, of course (and no one is more excited than Sage, who, for the past couple of weeks, has been assembling her "beach things", which include her swimsuit, sunblock, pail, shovel, waterwings, V-Smile Pocket and who knows what else).

Truthfully, on a percentile scale, the thought of beach vacation triggers around 10% of my interest. I'm not really a surf and turf, outdoorsy kind of guy. But if you tell me that next to beach is a wonderful hotel where I'll have an air-conditioned room, access to a spa, restos to choose from and competent hotel magazine/book store - well, my excitement is only eclipsed by Nikki's delight.

Yes, while Sage and everyone else - including her Ninong Vin, who loves the sea - splash about in the sea, Nikki and I plan to read. Or maybe even write (I keep trying to do this: write during a vacation with other people even though it impossible to make time to do so. It only works when I'm on my lonesome where no one can disturb me - yes, I'm grumpy that way). And definitely eat.

I'm hungry already.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

the kite of stars cover studies

Designing the right cover for a book is quite a challenge. And it only becomes more challenging when it is mine (haha). But one of my favorite designers, Hiyas de Guzman (who designed the cover for Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.2), took a crack at it and I'm happy with the results.

"The Kite of Stars and Other Stories", collecting 16 of of my short stories, is scheduled to be published by Anvil Publishing later this year. Each story will have a spot illustration, courtesy of Andrew Drilon.

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This second study incorporates a cartouche, which ties in all the text, similar to the Pullman books.

The brightness of the colors is easily adjustable - right now though, I tend to like this dusky feel. It makes the golden title pop.


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Monday, April 16, 2007

little big moment

One of the highlights of my week is Father-Daughter Day. Each week, Sage and I go out and spend time at a bookstore and a toy store and mix it up with visits to our pet store, the videoke, a resto, a dept store and so on.

I love taking my 5 year-old out because we get a chance to talk, make up wild stories and songs, try out food, critique toys and skip across the mall like a pair of loons, hurling imaginary stars into the air.

On our most recent FD Day, we chose the new Bestsellers over at Robinsons Galleria as our bookstore of the week. I told Sage to stay in the children's book section while I half-trawled the nearby areas (half-trawled because I'd look in on her every minute or so to see if she had in fact agreed to go home with some other father - "Dad," she'd tell me wearily, "I'd never leave with some other child's father.").

ME: Go ahead and pick out some books to read.

SAGE: Ok, Dad.

ME: I'll be around.

She selected several books from the lower shelves and plopped down in a corner. Every time I checked in with her, I found her studiously reading aloud. I wanted to see if she was actually reading so I finally sat down next to her.

ME: What are you reading?

SHE: Tiny Tim.

ME: Is it good?

SHE: Dad! I'm reading. I'm not finished yet.

ME: Read for me, nga.

SHE: (sighs) Ok, Dad.

And she did, with amazing speed and precison, stopping only to sound out the letters of words that were completely new to her (English is quite the unfair language, with more exceptions than rules), and confirming with me if she got it right.

In that whirlwind of recitation, I was lost in the sound of my daughter's voice. I was so proud of her. I knew she could already read but I thought it was more isolated words or a story that was previously read to her. But this time, with those books on the floor, every story was new, previously unheard by her. And with no help or prompting from me, except to correct pronunciation.

In the middle of the story, she looked up at me after reading the last word on the page, her eyes bright with wonder.

SAGE: Dad! He got turned into a big meatball! This is so funny!

I laughed along with her, sharing the absurd thought of people who turn into food, and watched her turn to the next page.

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Friday, April 13, 2007


Just got back from iBlog3 where I delivered a speech about the benefits of a literary blog (well, along with a handful of stories that I think went over well with the audience).

I got to meet some old friends and blog buddies, as well as make new ones.

Thanks to Janette Toral and the rest of the iBlog crew for having me over - I had a blast.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

freedom and passion for you

Two of the comic book anthologies I put together with Vin Simbulan are available digitally, courtesy of PullboxOnline. You can even see some sample pages.

The Siglo series ("siglo" is the Filipino term for "century") was one of our most challenging and rewarding endeavors. We sought to produce comics that went beyond what people expected Filipino comics to be.

Siglo: Freedom (2003) was our first salvo, with 10 authors and artists creating 10 stories set in 10 decades of Philippine history. The roster of comics creatives who explored the idea of freedom in a Filipino context included Gerry Alanguilan, Marco Dimaano, Carlo Vergara, Arnold Arre, Elbert Or, Honoel Ibardolaza, Andrew Drilon, Nikki Alfar, Vin Simbulan and Dean Francis Alfar. These are the same people who created Elmer, Wasted, Angel Ace, Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, Mythology Class, After Eden, The Lost, Cast and other Filipino comic books. Siglo: Freedom went on to win the National Book Award in 2004.

Siglo: Passion (2005) was more ambitious. We basically went full color, broke the rule of 10 stories and 10 creators and explored the darker aspect of passion through the lens of Philippine history. We invited notable fictionists (and a filmmaker) and gave them the opportunity to write comics, put together a gallery of artwork from both respected and new artists here and abroad, and asked one of the leading young poets in the country to provide front and end poems for the collection.

Storytellers and artists include Andrew Drilon, Angelo Suarez, Antonio Abad, Ariel Atienza, Camille Portugal, Carlo Vergara, Cyan Abad-Jugo, Dean Francis Alfar, Edgar Tadeo, Elbert Or, Gerry Alanguilan, Hiyas de Guzman, Honoel Ibardolaza, Jac Ting Lim, Jamie Bautista, Jason Banico, Jeremy Arambulo, Joel Chua, Jonas Diego, Lan Medina, Leinil Yu, Luis Katigbak, Ma-an Asuncion, Marco Dimaano, Michelle Soneja, Nikki Alfar, Oliver Pulumbarit, Paolo Manalo, Quark Henares, Rafael Kayanan, Red Berger, Reno Maniquis, Vin Simbulan and Vincent Groyon.

Siglo: Passion won the National Book Award for Best Comic in 2006.

When I look back at these two books, I still can't believe we pulled it off. It would have been impossible without all the creatives and Nautilus Comics - I am simply proud to have been part of it all.

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fantastic nikki

Wow, April's turning out to be a great month for writing.

Nikki just made her first US magazine fiction sale - in Fantasy Magazine, edited by Paul G. Tremblay and Sean Wallace. Fantasy Magazine is a quarterly magazine of all forms of fantasy fiction: high fantasy, contemporary and urban tales, surrealism, magical realism, science fantasy, and folktales. It has featured some of our favorite authors such as Theodora Goss, Jeffrey Ford, Hal Duncan, Caitlin R. Kiernan and Peter S. Beagle.

Her piece is slated for the Winter 2007/2008 issue later this year.

I am so proud of her - and suddenly feel the need to update my inventory and get some submissions to other markets going, haha!

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Current Issue: Winter 2006/2007

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free press award

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I can't tell you how delighted I am to have my story "Six from Downtown" win 3rd Prize at the 2007 Philippines Free Awards. I'm about as happy as when "Salamanca" won the Palanca Grand Prize for the Novel a couple of years ago.

The main reason is that this story is unabashedly speculative fiction and it competed in a tough field dominated by realist stories. If anything, the recognition by the awards-giving body shows me that spec fic can and should compete against whatever, because ultimately what matters is the story and not which genre it belongs to (and the money's nice too!).

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I was also proud to stand onstage next to my fellow winners, Tim Montes and Douglas Candano, because one of the things we share in common is Dumaguete Writers Workshop - and the lessons and guidance of National Artist Edith Tiempo. This is especially fitting because I wrote the story while I visited Dumaguete last year. Ian, this one's for you!


From "Six from Downtown"

Restaurant Row

Evenings at Shiro Shiro were usually a happy time for most of us. Except for me. Tonight I just sat there, listening to each of my friends relate all their current and prospective creative work (“For profit or for the soul”, as DM, the loudest and the most prolific of us, put it). As each person rattled off all their plans and schedules, I kept silent, knowing I was nowhere approaching my expected output as a member of our circle of writers and artists.

“I’m thinking of the male nude for my exhibit, but very harshly lit,” Tony said, passing a handful of Polaroids around. “No shadows, no textures, no mystique. I think I can pull it off. I’m thinking of getting really old guys, grandfathers, you know, people like that. Hairless, wrinkly. I’ll get them drunk or high and give them a fistful of razors. I’m thinking about what lies beneath all of us – or them, in this case.”

It was not a matter of whether or not I had ideas. I did have them, I recall finding a few quite exciting, perhaps one or two even astounding in their potential. But they remained pure ideas, unexpressed, as I permitted myself to be mired down by the mundane circumstances of my life. Normally, even the humdrum everyday would be a source for me to mine and craft, set down into words, but I’ve been unable to pursue my thoughts to their multi-path endings, unable to commit the time and effort to actually create. The very thought of writing immediately drained me before I even started.

“Of course, all the thirteen stories will interconnect and are all true – I researched the police files myself,” Susan was explaining, a little too loudly as usual. “It’s all about the intertextuality of sexuality.” She was telling the group about her book deal and the risks she was undertaking, pushing her personal literary agenda when all that the publisher wanted were short romances in Filipino. “Without risk, we cannot create,” she said, pausing for dramatic effect. “It would just be empty fireworks. I’m setting the themed collection in a school for the blind. The challenge is to articulate what these characters cannot see – the onrush of heartbreak. Imagine these kids groping each other, fucking around while they make their stupid paper no one buys.”

Her words reminded me how my own thoughts came in staccato bursts, like pyrotechnics that rose and flared, abruptly lighting my consciousness before just as quickly fading into the quiet of my mind. The longest piece I’d had written in recent memory was a fractured poem of three verses in first person with no imagery whatsoever. When I was finished I knew I was guilty of setting monologues as prose poems with no hope of truly creating anything; just wanting to write something, anything, to have something to show the others, to burn away time.

“You know those old ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books,” Andrew asked, gesturing to the group. “You know, you make choices and get different endings and shit? Remember how they could have been so cool? Well, I’m writing one on my blog, hyperlinked and all, so there’s an actual experience of moving away once a choice has been, you know, made. I’m working out linking it to this sad, sad blog I hacked. There’s this woman who’s been abandoned by her husband, and everything she writes is just pathetically exquisite. She exposes everything. She thinks he left her because she’s fat and ugly, and she’s absolutely right. She has a picture and, oh man! One of the links goes directly to her– and she won’t know.” His idea made most of the group laugh and sit up as they contributed memories of the old book series.

“She’s her own tragedy,” Marge giggled.

“That sounds great,” DM said, bestowing a dazzling smile of approval upon Andrew. “Finish it and we’ll think about how to protect it from plagiarists. I like the conceit applied to the web, but I don’t trust the assholes online.”

When it was my turn to speak, I just coughed twice and proceeded to be studiously engrossed with my cell phone, letting the painful moment of anticipated response pass by in bullet-time, before Marge, the purple-haired poet next to me, saved me from further embarrassment.

As I listened to her announce the publication of yet another of her collections of angry-young-woman-who-makes-the-mistake-of-falling-in-love-with-her-mother poetry, I thought about how my own ideas and plans just sat in the still corners of my mind, perfectly transfixed, like the plastic displays of menu items in the Japanese restaurant that DM insisted upon so he could light up and smoke his noxious clove cigarettes.

“So, in the end, my collection says, in a nutshell, ‘I have nothing more to say to you, Mama – go find someone else to go down on you.” Marge sat back, exhausted by her own vitriol.

“I love it,” Susan said, raising her glass of Strong Ice to Marge before turning to look at me. “What about you, Trish? I didn’t hear what you’re up to.”

“This and that,” I muttered. “Nothing much.”

“I’m sure you have something,” DM said with a small frown. “What happened to the novel you’re writing, the one about Spanish friars in Cebu?”

“I have something cooking,” I replied. “I have the words.”

“You’re just being lazy, Trish,” DM said with an exaggerated frown.

“Whatever,” I said. I composed a text message and sent it to myself.

Get out get out get out

When the message arrived, triggering the beep of my cell phone seconds later, I stood up, excused myself and drove back to my house.

I headed directly to the fridge. I ignored the giant candy-shaped aluminum foil that contained the remains of last year’s aborted writing and instead took one of the baby blue tupperwares, peeled open the cover and looked at all the words I’d been cutting out from various books, newspapers and magazines for past several months.

In a clean skillet, I tossed the words in, added a little water and soy sauce, twisted the heat to low, waited for the text to simmer and hoped for the best.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

holy week, batman

Tomorrow begins the long Holy Week holiday in the Philippines (from Thursday to Easter Sunday, with Monday's Araw Ng Kagitingan thrown in). I'm as happy as the next guy. Unlike the majority of the population who will attack the provinces in droves, I'll be staying in the city, as usual, enjoying the silence and traffic-free streets.

The Palanca deadline is looming and I have next to nothing (just the bare bones of a story and perhaps a tweakable play, nothing outstanding) so I must make time to write. Another publication has a requested a story from me and this time I'm truly starting from scratch so I have to start on that as well (or just maybe I'll pull the levitation story from my files and beat it into submission). It's not so bad, and sometimes deadline pressures are actually fun (that is, until I miss one).

I'm looking forward to just staying at home, away from work and business. I get to spend more time with Sage and Nikki. I bought a bunch of colorful plastic Easter Eggs - the kind you can open and close - for Sage to find on Sunday. I'm still thinking of what to put into them though.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

story in story

Over the weekend, I got word from the publisher of Story Philippines that they are buying my story "An Excerpt from 'Princes of the Sultanate' (Ghazali: 1902); Annotated by Omar Jamad Maududi, MLS, HOL, JMS." They've slated it for later in the year as they wrestle with the formatting my story requires (95% of the story is in the footnotes), along with a couple of authors I'm delighted to be published alongside with.

I'm generally happy with Story Philippines, though certain story selections sometimes make me shake my head - but that could be attributed to taste and preference. All in all, it's a healthy and spec fic-friendly market. I hope to see more issues released this year. Both Nikki and I have had stories published there earlier ("Doe Eyes" and "The Maiden and the Crocodile").

Meanwhile, the junior version of Story Philippines is looking for short stories for children (ages nine to twelve), written in English, 3000 words and below, about anything under the sun as long as it's unique, interesting and rated PG. Original and unpublished submissions should be emailed to before April 30, 2007.

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