Thursday, May 31, 2007

vignette: preparing to walk

When Papa, stoop-shouldered and pale, finally returned from the village council and told us of the decision, Mama let out the tiniest gasp before breaking into tears. Grandma Polo shushed her, wagged a finger in her face, and in a strained voice told her that it was all for the best. I held Marion, my little sister, barely three years old, and distracted her from Mama’s helpless sobs. Papa came to us, tousled Marion’s hair, and gave me a look that I will always remember: it was like livestock at the butcher’s just before the killing knife fell.

“She’s not going anywhere,” Mama suddenly shouted. “She’s not – she’s not-”

“The decision has been made,” Papa said, proving the strength of his thin arms as Mama struggled to free herself of his embrace. “We have no choice. You know this.”

We began to prepare for the Walk when Mama calmed down. She’d cried it all out, she said, dismissing her tears as a matter of maternal shock. But she was fine, fine, fine, she told everyone within earshot, which by that time included all our aunts and uncles and cousins, all the other families and neighbors – of course everyone had heard of the council’s decision.

When I tried to bring Marion over to her, Mama said that there were things, food things, goodbye things, travel things, countless things that she had to handle, and that it was better if I held on to Marion. Grandma Polo snorted as she busied herself with her own business, which consisted of picking out the shoes that everyone in the immediate family would wear, adding several new layers of hard leather to the soles, and complaining about her personal sacrifices in near-soundless whispers that sounded like the hissing of tiny snakes. Papa went outside to find out just who else was going on the Walk, with a scratchfeather death-gripped in one hand. It was later, when we began to walk, that I realized that more than half of the village would accompany us.

I was eight years old.


vignette: housename

Marianne regarded the profusely sweating man with a smile derived from countless hours of exercise. He was tall, perhaps even handsome enough in a roughhewn way, and dressed in ill-fitting clothes that reduced his shape to a baggy mass. And he was sweating, his dark brown hair rendered almost black by a wet sheen. She did not care for him immediately, but then again she did not care for anyone immediately, so she forgave herself and him. And, she reminded herself, no man was turned away from Cedar House, not even if he evinced enough perspiration to drown everyone in sight.

“I’m terribly sorry,” the man said, wiping his forehead with a piece of cloth that resembled more a table napkin than a handkerchief. “I do not mean to take too much of your time, Miss-“

“Marianne,” she smiled again, offering her Housename.

“Miss Marianne, my name is- well, you might call me Wallace,” the man replied, pocketing the large cloth. “That is, if you are so inclined.”

Against her will, Marianne found herself fascinated by the wet man’s provincial charm. It was one of her weaknesses, and she had many.

“Given as it’s the only name you’ve given me, I will take to calling you Wallace, Wallace,” Marianne said, drawing herself up to her full height of five feet and two inches.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007


This Week:

Clockmaker's Requiem by Barth Anderson
Different Flesh by Claude Lalumiere
Zilkowski's Theorem by Karl Iagnemma
Meteorite Mountain by Cao Xue

Next Week:

How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman
Bodywork by Hari Kunzru
Lucky Chow Fun by Lauren Groff
Why I Am Not Gorilla Girl by Daniel Starr

Last Week:

Balance by Mercedes Lackey
The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey
Feast or Famine by Naomi Novik
Attar of Roses by Sharon Mock

The story I enjoyed best last week was the Novik, written with intelligence, heart and craft. In the span of a few thousand words, she created an engaging scenario: hungry dragons who learn how to open a gate, and the interesting implications of that action - good enough reason to read her Temeraire books (the first of which, His Majesty's Dragon, is nominated for a Hugo). The McCaffrey, a classic, was a good read as well, though I found it lacking in certain parts. The Lackey is a good example of why I do not read her novels, and the Mock's excellent tone shows the author's great potential.

The LitCritters is a small reading and writing group based in Manila, as well as in Dumaguete. Every week, we read and discuss several pieces of short fiction from various genres from different writers with the goal of expanding our reading horizons, improving our ability to critique, and learning how to write from the good texts. In addition to speculative fiction, we read Philippine literature in English, as well as world literature.

Once in a blue moon, we are requested to conduct writing workshops (such as our recent 3-weekend stint at A Different Bookstore), and are planning to hold a more formal one, maybe next summer, as schedules and realities of life permit. For those who'd like to join us, we recommend participating in one of the workshops, or signing up for the LitCritter mailing list (which is basically me sending the readings once a week). We also accept the occasional sit-in (when we conduct sessions in restos or cafes). If you'd like to be on the mailing list or want to sit in on one of our sessions, email me at deanalfar(at)gmail(dot)com.


Monday, May 28, 2007

long days

Last week felt too long, with not much time for blogging.

I attended the 2-day Philippine Marketing Association annual event, this time called "Da Marketing Code". It was hell getting to the Sofitel Philippine Plaza and back, but I was happy in general with the speakers and the topics discussed. My favorite talk was by M. Villanueva of Publicis, who gave a thoroughly engaging speech on what the big ad agencies are doing to adapt to the new order. Useful stuff for someone in my shoes.

I finally got to visit the new Ayala mall over at EDSA/North Avenue. With only about half of their retailers in place, walking around Trinoma was an odd experience. It doesn't quite feel like an Ayala property yet (though the layout and architecture make poor SM North EDSA look like the big box that it is). The shops and services I like are present there (or will be present) so it seems like someplace I can take Sage.

There was also some writing to be done, clients to visit, projects to manage and by the time Saturday came, I was just happy to crash.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

end day: spec fic on discovery

I caught an interesting program on Discovery Channel last night. End Day, a docu-drama (shot very cleverly, using TV and radio broadcasts from various places), presented doomsday scenarios, based on apocalypic "science facts".

Disaster strikes in four ways: a giant tsunami triggered by a supervolcano that splits an island; a supervirus that causes global pandemic; a killer asteroid; and the creation of a black-holish "strangelet" that swallows the world.

A very interesting hour, let me tell you.


the road to publication & up gawad centennial

I just received the second proofs of my short fiction collection from my publisher, with all the initial comments and corrections from Nikki and myself already imbedded. They've also sequenced the additional pages I requested, such as the dedication page, and used the updated author bionote I sent them.

So all that remains is for me to plunge one last time into the text, rereading my stories for the odd font changes or missing periods and such, before signing off.

Since my design company is providing the cover, I'm still waiting for the required elements that will appear on the front and back (the back is also part of the cover): Anvil's logo, the ISBN, space for the bar code, blurb/s, etc. I'm really hopeful that the publisher's budget permits a little extra for the cover, particularly some kind of lamination for the title (spot or sand lamination) or embossing. I think we have a great-looking cover, but every little thing helps to drive the aesthetic home.

I think part of me has been using this book as a reason not to write as much as I used to. It's as if I'm telling myself to get this done first before I can turn towards new fiction. It's not a very good reason, but I suspect it's the truth.

My inventory (unsold/unpublished stories) count is a dismal "1". I simply have to write more. Soon, I hope to add to the count with the story I'll develop for Jing Hidalgo's anthology of tales, a couple of stories for Perfect World, something for the erotica anthology Nikki's looking at editing, a Young Adult piece for Story Philippines, and - because like Olympic years, the novel category of the Palancas is upon us again next year - a novel (I'm thinking if I plan to write one anyway, might as well make it eligible for competition). Honestly though, with the stultifying heat right now, I cannot imagine how I will do everything.

Speaking of contests, there's a big one next year: the UP Centennial Gawad Likhaan (complete details here). Six awards—each one worth P200,000—will be offered for original, book-length works in the following categories: a novel or short story collection in English in English; a novel or short story collection in Filipino; a poetry collection in English; a poetry collection in Filipino; a full-length work or collection of creative nonfiction in English; and a full-length work or collection of sanaysay in Filipino. Deadline for submission is March 31, 2008 at 5 pm. The names of the winners and the members of the Board of Judges will be announced in June 2008.

Only original works (unpublished in print or online - which means no NaNoWriMo for me anymore, in case I get disqualifed) that have not a won prize anywhere are valid. Which really makes it a tall order as neither Salamanca nor my upcoming collection are valid. Interestingly, since I write neither poetry nor creative nonfiction in either English or Filipino, and writing a novel in Filipino is beyond my small skills, I can only compete in one category: novel or short story collection in English. Let's see, shall it be a new novel (gah) or about 50,000 words worth of new short fiction (gah again - and inventory envy bites me hard). These are two completely different things and one is no easier than the other. I just wonder how the judges will pit someone's novel against someone's short fiction collection.

We'll see how things go, if time can be made. After all, there is still Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol.3 to put together.

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Monday, May 21, 2007


This week:

Balance by Mercedes Lackey
The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey
Feast or Famine by Naomi Novik
Attar of Roses by Sharon Mock

Next week:

Clockmaker's Requiem by Barth Anderson
Different Flesh by Claude Lalumiere
Zilkowski's Theorem by Karl Iagnemma
Meteorite Mountain by Cao Xue

Last Week:

Plenty by Christopher Barzak
Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway
Mateo Falcone by Merimee Prosper
Horatius and Claudia by Charlie Anders
Dusk by Jack Deighton

The Barzak was tops, of course - there's so much to learn from him (and I wish he'd come out with a collection). And while I love the implications in the silences of the Hemingway and the cruelty of the Prosper, I really enjoyed the Anders story, with its wonderful exposition that doesn't feel expository.


Saturday, May 19, 2007


When you're there, when you're in the zone, with the words coming faster than you can type, the feeling is pure exhiliration. Writing in white heat is something akin to a zen state, with your mind at full throttle, conquering the blank monitor screen with sentences that smack of grammar-be-damnedness.

It never lasts long for me - which is why I believe talent is an inconsistent thing, something no one should rely on. When the white flare subsides, when talent has done its thing, what's left is hard work and discipline: continuing what has been begun, ekeing out meaning from a few brilliant phrases, cementing a line of dialogue with craftwork.

Some will advise to write in white heat and edit in cold blood. That's fine, obviously. It makes sense not to waste that moment of pure inspiration - you cannot not write. But it is more important to also learn how to write in cold blood, when inspiration is nowhere in a sight. It is not true that the cold-blooded writer is more remote or distant (as if that is a bad thing in writing). On the contrary, someone who crafts when there is no inspiration is sort of a purer writer, aware of the emptiness, relying on discipline and everything learned from the craft of writing to finish the story.

It takes longer at the start because we are conditioned into thinking: I will only write when I feel like it; or I will only create when I am inspired; or I will only put words down on paper when I have an beautiful idea. It is worthwhile to train oneself to write regardless of mood, time of day or personal circumstance. To disdain the notion of a "writer's block" and confront the true reasons why one chooses not to write: I am lazy; or I'd rather watch TV or play a game or read a book; or I am frightened I truly have nothing to say.

Sloth can be dealt with. Distractions can be shut down. But the thought of having nothing to say is absurd. Not everything one writes needs to be something completely new, birthed to a stunned universe. Small truths are just as powerful as big ones. Small ideas are just as potent as the awesome ones that changed the world. Writers are human in the first place (an obvious thing sometimes forgotten in all the bluster of activity) and as such are perfectly capable of observations of what makes them (and the people around them) human. What we render into our fictions are truths, half-truths, white lies and things we see or imagine we feel - but consider that in the realm of fiction-making and storytelling, everything starts out as true. When we consider agenda (that act of infusing our writing with a secret or not-so-secret raison d'etre), then we immediately have something to do while we write, creating an engagement between idea and words and the text. We always have something to say - it is for the reader to determine its significance, mundane or otherwise.

To return to what I was initially talking about: I think that the best stories, the best-written fictions,are those that are crafted in cold blood; the architecture and wirework rendered invisible, the words well selected, the idea elegantly presented. It doesn't seem crafted and could be believed to be a work of white heat, a tribute to the hardworking author's discipline.

It is something I strive for.


Friday, May 18, 2007

vignette: the giant's shadow

The three people on the streets below who witnessed the shocking death of Picaro Marviloso that night would all agree that a higante had come to Ciudad, plucked the poet from his balcony, twisted his head between its massive fingers then hurled the man thirty feet to the ground below – after all, what else but a giant could cast so tremendous a shadow that all three swore to seeing?

“I know it sounds absurd but that is what we saw,” the flustered man repeated. “I know you don’t believe us,” he muttered miserably.

Veronica Bunsong-Bu’an, the detective-in-charge, shook her head and finished taking the last of the witnesses’ statements. She had been summoned only minutes after the murder and had lost no time in finding her way to the site of the crime. She had looked carefully at the remains of Picaro Marviloso and ascertained that he was dead before he struck the ground, his head cruelly twisted from back to front.

The Tiq’Barang stretched to her full height and fought off her fatigue. Like most of her race she could endure more than men, but when Tiq’Barang tire, they needed to rest longer than anyone, and Veronica had just returned from an especially long investigation in the Ispancialo garrisons in the dark north. She absentmindedly rubbed the end of her equine snout and took some time to review what she had already noted.

To the eyes of any man, Veronica Bunsong-Bu’an was a creature of contrasts. She was indisputably beautiful (her cropped fur was the hue of light kapé that darkened to the purest tsokolate towards her hands and hooves), but her intimidating size and scale dwarfed the tallest of men. She stood almost ten feet tall and the cloak of the guardia civil did little to hide her massive shoulders, yet her eyes, a pale liquid grey, betrayed an air of kindness, and her voice was rarely raised above the barest of whispers.

She was raised in the faith of the Ispancialo and rose quietly up the ranks of the clergy. Her inquisitive mind and natural powers of observation and deduction earned her the position of ecclesiastical investigadór, responsibly handling sensitive internal matters that the Church preferred to remain secret, earning a reputation for solving the impossible, until that particular night when she had to make a painful choice between loyalty and truth.

The guardia civil were more than happy to catch her at the terminus of her fall from grace, and added her to their ranks with understated pride, for already she was known to possess one of the finest minds in all of Hinirang.

A mind that was perplexed by current situation that her notes did nothing to illuminate.

Ser Miguel Lucas Jaena, a junior guardia assigned to learn from her, asked her if she agreed that it was a giant.

“There are no higantes in Ciudad, Ser Jaena,” she whispered while scribbling down her thoughts. “If there was a giant here, where would this higante hide? Why is it that no one saw her anywhere else? And just how,” Veronica Bunsong-Bu’an said, pointing to the narrow streets lined with towers and residences similar to those of Picaro Marviloso, “How did this higante fit into these streets without damaging any other balcony, wall or feature?”

“I don’t know,” the young guardia smiled. “Which is why I can’t wait for you to solve this mystery.”

“Before we talk of giants, we must first establish who this man is, and the why anyone would want to kill him. There are steps to these things, you know,” Veronica smiled as Ser Jaena blushed. “Shall we continue our investigation?”

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

new to the bookshelf

Not too many new books for the Alfar bookshelf, what with the pressure of tuition coming up (yes, Sage's tuition fee is enough to give any decent man a heart attack) as well as the assorted costs of real life. But still, no way can there be no new books (it's simply impossible, even if I have to hock some of my old stuff, I will end up with new fiction somehow -damn this addiction). Here are the ones that are new to us:

Twenty Epics edited by Susan Groppi and David Moles
The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente
Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip
Strange Itineraries by Tim Powers
Hart & Boot & Other Stories by Tim Pratt
Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender
New Magics edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Logorrhea: Good Words Make Good Stories by John Klima

Some of these I ordered from Amazon, the others I was happy to chance upon in Manila. I'm particularly happy with Twenty Epics and have been wanting to read it since I first heard about it. It's nice and thick and chockfull of goodness. Also jumping high on the "read me first, dammit" list is the new collection of Pratt (the LitCritters are among his most avid readers, as his much-read first collection Little Gods can attest). And the Kilma antho based on winning words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee is just too delicious to believe - and the roster of author reads like the LitCritters reading list: Anna Tambour, Jeff Vandermeer, Hal Duncan, Elizabeth Hand, Jay Lake, Liz Williams, Alan de Niro, Tim Pratt, Theodora Goss, Paolo Bacigalupi - it's crazy).

As for my periodicals fix, I'm always happy to receive the latest issues of Realms of Fantasy (this issue featuring new fiction from one of favorites, Theodora Goss - yay! that's two Goss stories) and Fantasy & Science Fiction (Matthew Hughes has gotten me more than mildly interested in his scifi noonaut).


Tuesday, May 15, 2007 lives!

After what seemed liked an eternity, my laptop and I were reunited yesterday afternoon. It seems okay now, but I cannot help but think that the same thing will happen again (cynic vs. realist vs. fatalist, you choose).

So despite the happy reunion, I'm still a bit emotionally distant. And am now saving up for an external drive. Sadly, getting a mac is just not in the cards, no matter how tempting it is (and also, like I said to Maryanne Moll, no fountain pens - because then I'd be the second incarnation of my literary idol Butch Dalisay haha).

Three days without my laptop literally meant no writing (yes, I know I could have scrawled letters with my blood on the floor) - which, in a way, was oddly liberating. In a way that a junkie, unable to score a hit, oddly feels liberated.

As I sat reading on the bed, I surreptitiously watched Nikki typing away at her laptop. I must admit that I (what is that old testament word? ah, yes) coveted her machine. Even if I would not write anything with it.

But now, I'm okay.

(Nothing to see here, move on.)


Friday, May 11, 2007


A couple of hours ago, my laptop began to slow down and ultimately refused to respond to anything. I couldn't open any document or start a program or go online.

After trying to be calm and doing what little I knew about such things, I finally gave in to the inevitable - I'm locked out of my laptop, which has everything work-related as well as all of my writing.

I do have a back-up CD of the most important files (around a month old, I back up every couple of months or so) so I'm not so terrified that I've lost everything (unlike previous crashes, when, not having learned my lesson, I didn't back up and indeed lost everything over and over). But when this crash is fixed, I will still have lost around a month's worth of work and writing, which makes me want to... gah.

The timing of this crash is lousy too. The man who fixes my office machines is in Cebu. Which means the next few days, I'll be one of the walking wounded (even my PDA phone uses the laptop to charge), reduced to using someone else's machine (which, for me, is like wearing someone's underwear) or (gasp) writing in longhand. This means I won't a power point presentation for the LitCritters workshop over at A Different Bookstore in Eastwood tomorrow. And I won't have my notes for the RPG I run tonight.

With a couple of campaigns for my favorite apparel client to write, I sat down in my office with a piece of paper and a pen and lasted for all of five minutes, before the atrophied muscles in my right hand screamed in protest. I struggled on, of course, but at the end of my efforts, I could barely decipher my chicken scrawls.

Part of my is actually considering devoting some time to learning how to write in longhand again. But the thought of editing makes me reconsider. I've grown quite accustomed to the power of Word. But I do like receiving handwritten letters and postcards (as opposed to email) because it's much more personal (and I can appreciate the effort). Having said that though, nothing beats the convenience of word processing, so at the end of this ramble what am I really saying?

Who knows. I just want my laptop back.


Thursday, May 10, 2007


With the month of April behind us, the LitCritters can breathe a sigh of relief. We all finished our long form stories (minimum 7500 words) to varying degrees of success. For some of us, it was a battle with word count. For others, it was about reigning in the narrative. For others still, heady with the sudden opening of space, it was about knowing when and how to stop.

We wrote and read eight original stories in April, discussions of which took over our usual critique time. We took the stories apart to see where things worked and where they did not work, and everyone is in the process of rewriting (because "writing is rewriting", as one of my teachers used to say). There is a lot of work still to be done - and next year's task is a novel.

Prima Anatomica's Amazing Thesis Statement by Andrew Drilon
Blogcaster by Alexander Osias
The Poet, the Journal and the Melancholy Sadness by Vin Simbulan
Country Music by Kenneth Yu
When We Were Witches by Nikki Alfar
Traps by Kate Aton-Osias
Strange Weather by Dean Francis Alfar
The Secret Love and Personal History of Tigulang, Liberator of Oriental Negros by Ian Rosales Casocot

As for me, I wrote a straight-up traditional fantasy with lots of action, magic and such. As usual, I'm not happy with it, but I think with judicious tweaks, it could actually be a fun read. I'm still wincing from one of the critic's statements: "it lacks gravity". But not every venture into spec fic needs to be an astoundingly subtle observation of the human condition, does it now?thinks Dean with a twinkle in his eye.

We're halfway through May now, and have taken to discussing some of our favorite stories by foreign authors. By next week, we'll return to the regular four story critiques, as we've done since last year.

Here's the reading list for the next couple of weeks:

Of Silence and Slow Time by Karawynn Long
Homo Karaoke by Jeff Noon
Plenty by Christopher Barzak
The Laughing Man by J.D. Salinger
The Company of Wolves by Angela Carter
Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway
Mateo Falcone by Merimee Prosper
Horatius and Claudia by Charlie Anders
Dusk by Jack Deighton


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

away, sun, away

I swear, walking around the city during the summer months is just asking for trouble – from the sun. It’s crazy; the oppressive sun just beats down relentlessly and the possibility of heat stroke is high.

Which is why I make sure to duck into my favorite oasis – the nearest Coffee Bean, with its cool, cool air-conditioning . I sit there with something cold (right now, I gravitate towards the Honey Dew Ice Blended) and watch the world crawling outside.

I stay as long as my body needs to recover, dismayed at the thought of having to plunge back into the sweaty thick of things (for a moment I imagine everything vanishing in a white glare, like the entire world is a mirage and I'm hallucinating).

My only comfort is word that there are ten to thirteen tropical depressions lurking around the archipelago, waiting for a chance to strike. The thought of rain is invigorating.

And yet, suddenly I feel guilty for wanting rain.

These storms do not just bring rain but also devastation, and not just in terms of property damage. Every year the nation experiences heartbreak as television, newspapers, radio and online services and blogs bring us news of typhoon-caused tragedies.

Can’t there be a middle ground? Are we truly geographically stuck between the extremes of stunning heat and destructive water?

There can’t and we truly are. Heat and rain: even when it comes to seasons, we only have two compared to more exotic climes (who hasn't entertained an absurd fantasy of snow in Manila?).

But there is really no use in complaining or wishing it were otherwise. There are certain things we can’t change, after all.

So, being Filipino, we adapt and adjust and make the best of things. That’s our nature, our strength. That's how we get by. We think, "this, too, will pass" and rehydrate ourselves.

I look outside and wish I brought an umbrella.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

binuksan na binalot

Matapos ang ilang linggong training, bukas na ang Binalot franchise namin. Kaya kung:

1. gutom ka,
2. nasa Megamall, at
3. mahilig sa lutong pinoy,

Hanapin mo ang Binalot (sa Building B ng SM Megamall, sa Supermarket) at subukan ang iba't-ibang pagkain sa amin (paborito ko ang inihaw na liempo at adobo).

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Friday, May 04, 2007

donning the mandarin's hat

Whenever I write a story, by necessity, I construct a small part of the world the characters inhabit. If the story takes place in a house, I act as a set designer, making sure that the setting and its expressions are apropos to the narrative. If the story takes us to multiple places in a town, then all those places need to be thought out to some degree (this is where writers vary in terms of approach - some invest greatly in details and background, others have a more cosmetic attack).

Whenever I run a storyline for my role-playing group's multi-year campaign (it's called "Isle" and we're multiple seasons into the thick of things), I need to create a staggering variety of locations and settings for my players to explore and interact in.

So when Level Up! Games asked me if I was interested in developing the stories and backgrounds of their upcoming MMORPG Perfect World, I experienced only the smallest moment of trepidation before agreeing wholeheartedly - it's like a GM's dream come true.

The foundation is Chinese mythology, the approach is fantasy. Really, how could I possibly decline?

The task is massive, but I think I can chip away at it and reveal some interesting characters and events. I'm so delighted that already a couple of fiction pieces have barged into my head (normally welcome, but now needing to be deprioritized as the job of building a world takes precedence). I've begun to write - in my head.

We'll see how things go.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

salamanca at powerbooks

For some time, Salamanca was available only at Fully Booked, Popular Bookstore, and Solidaridad (and Amazon).

I just found out, happily, that it has been available at the various Powerbooks branches (Megamall, Greenbelt, Alabang, Glorietta, Ermita, Filinvest, Mall of Asia, and Shangri-la) for some time now, according to my publisher, Ateneo Press.

So to everyone who's asked if my novel can be found at Powerbooks, the answer (at last) is "yes".


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

the road to publication: the kite of stars

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"The Maiden and the Crocodile" Illus. Andrew Drilon

Anvil sent me the first review copy of my collection a few days ago, complete with all the illustrations, triggering the editing phase. Thankfully, the best editor in the world is my wife, so Nikki did all the heavy lifting, painstakingly reading the entire thing and marking her corrections. Today, I have to finish my own pass, changing what needs to changed, and helping the publisher format one of the stories that stumped them ("Princes of the Sultanate", coming out in Story Philippines in the future).

I briefly considered adding a new story I wrote recently, "Strange Weather", a traditional fantasy with lots of action, but decided to save it for the next collection (siyempre naman, hope springs eternal haha). Also, I haven't even attempted to sell it, so I'll pass it around the block first.

The review copy of the collection made me tear up, seriously. It has all the beautiful illustrations by Andrew Drilon, and has most of the stories I've written up to last year. It feels like I'm holding a chapter of my life in my hands so you cannot blame me for my emo moment.

I'll get my own edits done today, consolidate those with Nikki's, and send the copy back to Anvil where the corrections will be made. After that, I think they'll send another copy for final review and then we're good to go.

Talking to Charles (who appeared like a djinn to to deliver books from Banzai Cat - thanks, man!), I realized that I'll have two books out this year: the collection plus the annual spec fic anthology. Now that epiphany provoked another emo moment (though happier and lighter, of course).

Writingwise, I have new stuff on my plate,including an invitation to a new anthology of tales edited by Christina Hidalgo, to be published by Milfores this year. Plus there is the young adult antho, a short story for kids, and one for another antho I just got wind of. And I still have to replenish my inventory, which at the moment, has exactly one story in it.

And there is the new novel... gah.

Whoever thinks that writing is easy has simply got it all wrong.

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