Wednesday, June 25, 2008


This week's readings:

Dead by Haddayr Copley-Woods
No Love for Middleman by Tony Frazier
The God Engine by Ted Kosmatka
What the Thunder Said by Lavie Tidhar

Thursday, June 19, 2008

flash fic

Come on over to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf over at Bonifacio High Street, Global City, Taguig, on June 24, 2008, at 7:00 pm. I'll be talking about writing flash fiction (with just a tiny segue into creative non-fiction).

It's all part of Coffee Bean's contest. In addition to me, there'll be speakers for videography (Mike Cabardo) and photography.

Should be fun. See you there.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

fly, racoon, fly~

the night monkeys

Hey, hey! The launch for The Night Monkeys: More Palanca Prize Winners for Children (Tahanan Books) is on June 30, 2008 at 7PM (that's a Monday). Come on over to Mary Grace Café at Serendra, Fort Bonifacio Global City and join the celebration.

Nikki Alfar has a story in the antho, as well as Raissa Rivera-Falgui, Natasha Vizcarra, Luis Katigbak, Yvette Tan, Cyan Abad-Jugo, Herb Fondevilla, Celeste Flores-Coscolluela, Honoel Ibardolaza, and Bing Sitoy.

Just look at that cover - I love it!

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litcritters open at robinsons galleria

LitCritters! Here are the details for this weekend's open session.

When: June 21, 2008, 2PM

Where: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Robinsons Galleria

The readings:

Deadnauts by Ted Kosmatka
Falling Onto Mars by Geoffrey Landis
Conhoon and the Fairy Dancer by John Morressey

Make sure to read up - and then come on over :)


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

story update


I got a chance to see the TOC of the upcoming Exotic Gothic 2 (edited by Danel Olson from Ash-Tree Press) and I must say that I have silly smile plastered all over my face. Can’t tell you why though until the TOC is made public but it really made my day. It’s quite a thrill to be in company of these writers – authors I know only by name or because of their books.

I’m finishing my contribution for Ruey de Vera’s travel antho, to be published later this year or early next. My story is set in Hong Kong and I’m thinking of rewriting the entire thing (sigh) and doing some weird lovechild of spec fic and creative non-fiction (yes, I’m infected by Mia). When I look back at the time I lived in Hong Kong, I remember a mix of excitement and a deep longing for home. I did not believe in the concept of winter in Hong Kong, but recall cursing the day I disallowed my office manager from buying a heater. I do not do well in cold – I think my body retains a sense of disbelief. In terms of timestamping I’d use the run of Legion Lost, issues of which I bought from a comic book store along Sugar Street.

Another of my stories will appear in antho edited by Linda Panlilio (from Anvil). This is the story I agonized over before actually writing it, but with the proper approach, it wasn’t as difficult as I expected. There are times when it is not the characters, the conceit, the plot, the language or the structure that are problematic. Sometimes, it is the approach, some metatextual gobbledygook that has to do with how I’m grounded and just what the hell I’m trying to do (the easy answer, of course, is to “tell the story”, but come on).

Another story has been selected for an international “best SF”-type antho slated for publication next year. With these international anthos, I cannot help but wish I had a broader and deeper body of work. As it is, I write certain types of stories about certain things that reflect certain themes. I’m trying to do more, to expand my writing, which leads to experimental stories that do not always succeed. The important thing is to try – and to know when to move on (it’s not necessarily throwing in the towel, as in “goodbye, you shitty unloving difficult subgenre!”, but more of “you know, it’s not working for either of us right now; we need to take a break; it’s not you, it’s me”).

Three more stories are going to appear in antho edited by Cecilia Brainard. I submitted three when she asked for one (because I honestly wanted her to choose whichever she liked best, if any) and she took all three. All are short pieces, not exactly flash fic but more like rounded vignettes. My favorite among them was something I wrote when the daughter of a government official died in a fire; it made my heart ache.

Oh, and there’s another international antho in the making that I’ve been invited to contribute to. It should be both challenging and fun if all goes well.


I’m editing the 2nd annual collection of fiction winners of the Neil Gaiman/Fully Booked competition from last year. I was on the board of judges with Peque Gallaga and Tony Perez and was quite happy with the results. The big winner was Joseph Nacino’s” Logovore”, of course, but we’ll be publishing a number of stories, including the other winners (I think Ian Casocot’s “The Sugilanon of Epefania’s Heartbreak” is a must-read for everyone under the sun) and finalists. I received the stories today and will begin editing and coordinating with the authors soon.

Nikki and I are editing Philippine Speculative Fiction IV and have been receiving submissions since I first announced the open call for submissions. It's our fourth year and I'm looking for something fresh and astounding.The deadline is September 15, 2008, so get down and write some spec fic and send it over. I’ll repost the call in another entry.


I’m building up my inventory, thank goodness. I’m hoping to have at least 5 or 6 stories by next month – then I start submitting them to publications. As I mentioned earlier, some of my present writing is not my usual fare – which may be a problem for publishers or editors who expect a certain thing from me (offhand, it would be something to do with language). I’m happy that the LitCritters and I conform to a certain production schedule (yes, stories are products, says Marxist Dean) and thus I have a “real” deadline in addition to my personal deadlines.

All this is because I’m planning to have a second collection of short fiction by next year (actually, I’ll need to complete it and pitch the collection to the publisher this year to get it on publication schedule for next year). I’d prefer to have previously published most, if not all, of the stories that will appear in my second collection. But of course reality will trump whatever preferences I have, haha.

For the second collection, right now, I have:

Strange Weather
Chasing Aurora
Something Like That
The Many Loves of Ramil Alonzo
I, D.I.
Ever, After
Survey of Artifacts Found in the Derelict Vessel The Malaya
Princess Ribbit (with Nikki Alfar)
Poor, Poor Luisa (maybe)

+ inventory sold by October/November

+ unlisted stories in other athos appearing by December, at the latest (all the other anthos get right of first printing, of course)

So I think there should be enough for a book. I’m hoping Andrew will illustrate the interiors like he did for “The Kite of Stars and other stories”.


And somewhere somehow somewhen I need to make time to actually write the damn thing. My initial attempts were stymied by overanalysis and poor time management (and the fact that short fiction was top priority). And anxiety, of course. Worries about the sophomore slump, etc. But I try not to think about all that. The new/old angsty decision: literary vs. genre produces the same answer within me: why not both?

Part of me wants to take a long string of weeks off and just get this done - but life intrudes in the best possible way.

So we’ll see. As usual.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I've been loyal to Blogger since forever, but I find certain features on Multiply and Facebook quite entertaining and useful. My big issue with Facebook is the lack of a blog space, but now it seems with this application (Blog It) I may have issues no longer - so I'm trying it out. I'm updating from Facebook and this should also appear in my Blogger blog. Sadly, there seems to be no direct link to my Multiply account, but we'll see how this goes.

The holy grail for me would be a single site that integrates all my blogs, permits me access to my webmail, has the fun and extensibility of Facebook, and the good bits of Multiply. i need everything aggregated so I don't need to skip around and update in several placed.

Is there such a thing?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

running the game

I'm sharpening my game notes for tomorrow and it got me thinking.

For many years now, I've been the GM (or Gamemaster) of an extended series of role-playing games, with intricate storylines that have taken many years to tell. I love fantasy and I love acting and I love telling stories, so it is an activity I relish - even if, at times, I get fatigued.

Why do I get tired? Well, fundamentally, I do three things: creatives, design and development.

The Creatives part is all about story. This includes the master plot/s, all the characters and characterizations, back stories, and such. This would be a daunting task on its own, especially since my style of creatives favors huge casts, multiple settings and a tremendous amount of drama (as well as comedic elements, of course). My players (changing in names and numbers from high school to college and beyond) who dwell in the world play only their characters - everyone (and everything) else is me. For someone who deprioritizes plot as a discourse element in his fiction writing, I revel in it in the game. I employ a variety of techniques such as seeding, prolepsis, analepsis, vignettes, solo focus as well as dramatic tools (I am still a playwright, after all) for dialogue and so on. This is the part I love best. Since I do not like linear games, I tend to construct plot skeins that go in different tangents; in my world, things go on with or without player participation - while the players may be central to parts of the story, they are not central to everything. My disorganized notes have the ability to delight and dismay me. Since I jot down thoughts as they come and develop them in a very general timeline, there are instances when I recover something I wrote that simply does not make sense anymore, typed in Deanish shorthand (the past Dean assumes the future Dean will get it). Sometimes though, I surprise myself by unearthing a multipage document that reveals, in detail, family histories, love lives and tragedies, complete with names, dates and family trees (those are the times I bless my past self - and wonder where the past Dean found the time to do such a thing).

The Design part of the game has to do with things like magic, artifacts, cultures, cities, philosophies and such. For the ongoing game (named "Imperium"), I created a whole slew of shards with abilities, personas, histories and organizations. For an earlier game, I created a new system of magic, crafting 66 orders of magic with spell lists and techniques. I like the Design part a lot but it isn't my favorite - because I'd rather be telling the story than fiddling with the things in it. But design is very important. A great degree of world building is design-related, and inconsistent design sucks. Thus, I have copious (and terribly sorted) notes on everything that I think is of interest in the game. My design philosophy is simple - it must be interesting to me and to my players, and it must dovetail into the story.

The Development part is my weakness. This is where I dump the rules for the things I've designed - how things work in terms of game systems (whether adopted, adapted or homegrown). This is number crunching, character stats, multiple character sheets, die rolls, charts, tables and so on. The sheer tedium bores the story teller in me (and even the designer) - but this part of gaming is quite important because a system creates consistency, and consistency of experience in vital in gaming. I needed to learn how to put some sort of order in the chaos of my creation (development needs to iron out all the ideas that I come up with, especially when I'm in intuitive idea mode with no patience to look at the small stuff).

In my life as a writer and as a businessman, I've found that I've been able to utilize (and even monetize) all three of my GM skills.

In business, the creatives part is obvious - one of the companies I own makes money based on ideas executed in terms of word and imagery. The design part has helped me handle complex business challenges that require structure and rationales - like nationwide campaigns with different handles for specific doors. Development - my hated number crunching - has proven itself when I deal with financials, and surprise, surprise, I can actually understand income statements, gross margins, percentage contribution of sales and other otherwise braindeadening things. And I am almost never intimidated in meetings with Big Names, because I've roleplayed even bigger entities (haha).

In writing, creatives is once again obvious (although I now ask myself why I veer away from plot and favor other discourse elements in my own fiction). Design weaves into the world-building elements of my stories, but more importantly, permits me to think of story and story elements in a metatextual manner. Development has helped in the business side of my writing, when I act as a publisher, with numbers and logistics to juggle.

And the funny thing is that role-playing games have continuously taken a beating in terms of negative perception. For me, all it has done is to help in my businesses and my writing - as well as provide endless hours of storytelling delight with friends.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

litcritters open @ robinsons galleria

This Saturday, the LitCritters will hold the Open Session at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at Robinsons Galleria at 2PM.

The readings are:

The Fantasy Writer's Assistant by Jeffrey Ford
The Man on the Threshold by Jorge Luis Borges
The Man with the Scale in his Head by Eman Quotah

Hope to see you there.


sick season

I started feeling ill Sunday afternoon. I got a clogged nose and a mild headache which were gradually revealed to be symptoms of the flu. I should've known it was coming since this happens to me around this time every year. I missed three days of work, unable to think very well as I alternately got the chills and sweated like there was no tomorrow. I kept rehydrating and replenishing all the salts and stuff I lost, consuming vast quantities of juices, athletic drinks, chai latte and flavored water, in an attempt not defeat the stupid flu. I cursed the fact that once again I did not bother to get a flu shot - gah. Of course poor Sage and Nikki caught the flu too. It's even harder for Nikki because of the pregnancy.

I was feeling better last night, but woke up at 3AM with the beginnings of the conjunctivitis thing going around the building. Which was just the last straw. It was too much. My placid, I-am-sick demeanor was replaced by rage at the injustice of it all. "Sore Eyes" is my true bane (along with really bad food poisoning that paralyzes me). Why? Because with every other normal ailment, I can read. Not so with sore eyes that reduce vision to a thin painful crud-encrusted sliver.

But this time I was somewhat prepared. I scoured the room for the medicine I had purchased when I thought I had conjunctivitis earlier this year (when I thought a leaf had sheared off my retina). I found the small bottle of the miracle elixir Vigamox, which promised bacterial genocide, then dosed my eyes with drops of moxifloaxin and went back to sleep. At 6AM, I repeated the dosage, delighting in the discomfort I imagined the bacteria to be undergoing - the atomic destruction of their evil civilization. By 9AM, my eyes were fine.

So I actually managed to drag myself to office to get some work done. My lost three days did not stop the requirements and timing of deliverables from clients so there's a lot of catching up to do. And the fact that this coming Monday is a non-working holidays means another day without designers and such.

Back to the grind, yes, but not for the entire day. I think I need to rest a little bit more before.