Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gloss Girl Is Scary

She's very scary. She's threatened to wear eyeliner and show herself to me!

Guest-editor for the PGS Special Halloween Issue, Yvette Tan, expounds on the horror genre, how she sees it, what she looks for when she reads it, why she writes it. Here's a quote:

"It's easy to stick a vampire or a serial killer (or in our case, a kapre or a manananggal – both of which I'm guilty of doing) in the middle of a story and call it horror. And it may be very good horror. But it takes a genius to use a shy motel owner or an entire farming village to wreak havoc on the reader's psyche."

Check out her blog entry: January Blues Or The Horror, The Horror! Get a clue as to what she's looking for in your submissions for the PGS Special Halloween Issue. (She also lists those on this year's preliminary ballot for The Stokers).

Gloss Girl is scary. But she's also looking to be scared. Send your submissions in (pdohs(at)yahoo(dot)com) and scare her eyeliner off.

The Peter Gordon Talk

Last January 24, I attended the presentation of Peter Gordon, the Executive Director of the Man Asian Literary Prize, at the AVR of U.P. Diliman's Rizal Hall. I went alone, but had the good fortune of meeting another loner there: fellow Grinch Exie Abola. We two Grinches found each other and shared our Christmas war-stories, needless to say feeling chipper now that the holidays were way over. No Christmas emo from either of us! Bah, humbug!

Mr. Gordon talked about the literary prize and its goals. I admire what he and his organization are trying to achieve: wider readership among Asians of novels and stories about each other. In his observation, each country usually only reads their own (I was thinking there are few enough readers here as it is), in addition to the usually well-marketed Western fare. So Singaporeans would read only other Singaporeans, Chinese would only read Chinese, ditto for Indonesians, Filipinos, and everyone else. The prize aims to bring recognition to stories by Asian authors so as to generate interest among readers from other Asian countries, and not only the country where the writer lives. Lofty goals, but worthy. And really, it is interesting to read the stories of other cultures. The blurb for last year's winner, Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong, has piqued my interest.

Sir Butch Dalisay's Soledad's Sister was short-listed for last year's prize, and in answer to a question of whether this has helped him get recognition and advance himself as a writer, he told us that he has received five emails from publishers/agents already ever since the list was released. So yes, this literary prize can open doors for writers.

Peter Gordon mentioned that the topics of the novels from last year's competition ran the gamut of subjects, including genre. This shows the openness of this prize to any material, and he specifically mentioned several times that the judges are so well-read as to be able to handle anything thrown their way.

The deadline for this year's competition is March 31. It need not be the full novel, and the judges understand that what is being sent may just be a draft. The lower minimum is 10,000 words only, with the remainder to follow some three months later should your work be long-listed. So those of you with long works languishing in your desks or drives, you may want to consider sending your opuses to the Man Asian Literary Prize.

Sir Butch also informed us that there are two other novel-competitions whose deadlines, coincidentally, fall on the same date. These are the U.P. Centennial Gawad Likhaan Literary Prize, and the Palancas. So, novelists, prepare your work! There are three competitions for you to join, three opportunities that don't come around very often.

It struck me while I scanned the faces in the crowd that if a bomb had gone off in the AVR that afternoon, Philippine literature would've been set back for years. Of the names I could put to faces: Bienvenido Lumbera, Krip Yuson, Gemino Abad, and Butch Dalisay for the more accomplished generation, and then, Tin Mandigma, Exie Abola, Emil Flores, Apol Lejano, Janet Villa, Yvette Tan, and Luis Katigbak for the, um, "less-accomplished" doesn't seem to be the right adjective. "Younger" sounds better, doesn't it? Not that this latter list lacks in accomplishments either. It was a pleasure to see familiar faces, and to briefly meet new ones too in Apol and Janet! Apol's story will be coming out in PGS4, by the way.

So there, more reasons to get writing.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Butch Dalisay Talk Moved

There's a change in the schedule of talks that were announced here:

Sir Butch's talk on Creative Non-Fiction has been moved from January 26, 2007 to Feb. 2, 2007, 2-4 p.m., Powerbooks Trinoma, due to ongoing renovations at Powerbooks Megamall.

Ichi Prompts

Ichi Batacan has begun posting prompts on her blog to get us thinking about crime stories. The first of them is here. I'll link up each time she updates them.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

PGS Special Crime/Mystery/Suspense Issue: Call For Submissions

If you remember this post, "Crime Does Not Exist", you'll know about my previous rant. Go ahead and review it and all the links in it. Read too this link from Peter Rozovsky in the U.S., on Detectives Beyond Borders: A Forum For International Crime Fiction. Consider it a refresher, seeing as we all might have forgotten about it given the discussion that erupted here sometime after.

Instead of continuing to rant, perhaps something can be done about it.

Given that we have a special call for submissions for the Halloween issue guest-edited by award-winning writer Yvette Tan, she with the penchant for the spooky, wouldn't it be wonderful if someone with the inclination for crime/mystery/suspense handle such a PGS issue?

Talk about good fortune. As with Yvette, Palanca award winner F.H. "Ichi" Batacan, author of the crime novel "Smaller and Smaller Circles", has taken on the guest-editing chores for this special PGS issue focusing on this genre. This might serve as a small push for these kinds of stories. No occasion like Halloween or Christmas is required. Crime doesn't need a holiday.

And so...this is another special call for submissions for crime/mystery/suspense stories, to be perused by Ichi, she who will shape and form that particular PGS issue, tentatively due last quarter of this year (*gulp* here's hoping enough material gets sent in).

Some restrictions: when we say crime/mystery/suspense, we're talking the realist kind. No cross-genre. Don't mix it up with scifi, fantasy, horror, etc. Ichi wants hard-boiled, gritty, dirty, down-to-earth, stuck-in-the-mud, empirical kind of crime/mystery/suspense fiction. To use TV shows as an example, think those programs on the Crime/Suspense or Fox-Crime channel on cable right now (Law & Order, Dexter, Cold Case, CSI, etc.). And keep the stories Rated PG people. You can get as close to Rated R as you want, just don't cross the (yellow police) line. Think deeply about character and motive, folks, as well as the common themes of such stories, like justice. Or injustice, for that matter.

Other notes: The story need not be set in the Philippines. Given how spread out Pinoys are, it is conceivable to write a story set anywhere in the world. Come up with your own conflict/situation. Ah, but Filipino leading characters, please.

Deadline is August 15, 2008. Please follow international manuscript guidelines as stipulated here. Send all entries as rtf attachments to pdocrmy(at)yahoo(dot)com. They will be immediately forwarded to Ichi. All previous submissions to that email address that are still pending will be sent to Ichi.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment on this blogpost.

For an initial taste of why this genre draws Ichi, check out her blogpost, "It's A Mystery".

Get writing, people! Ayokong mapahiya kay Ichi! At ganun din kay Yvette! Write and send in your horror and crime tales!"

Vin Simbulan At Xavier School -- Second Semester

National Book Award winner and writer Vin Simbulan, whom I visited back here, invited me to return to Xavier School in San Juan to meet his new students for the second semester. I met up with his sophomore class yesterday afternoon, and it was most certainly a fun afternoon picking the youngsters' fresh minds for the tales that grab them. This bunch showed an affinity for fantasy-adventure and action tales, no different than when I was their age. I promoted PGS with them, of course, and encouraged them to keep on writing and reading-reading-reading, goals close to my and Vin's hearts. It may be a struggle to get youngsters to lessen their time with their video games, but I think we got through to these students. Thanks for inviting me again, Vin! Next week, I'll meet his juniors class.

(Sorry for the less-sharp photos. I forgot my digicam at home, and had to rely on my cellphone's camera for the shots).

It was also Vin's birthday yesterday. Happy birthday again, Vin!

Browser -- Ruel S. De Vera

Many thanks to Ruel S. De Vera for writing about PGS in his Browser column in the January 20, 2008 issue of The Sunday Inquirer Magazine. If I'm not mistaken, I think Ruel is a Palanca award winner himself for poetry. Check out his collection, Faulty Electrical Wiring: Poems; and here's a sample of his work, Anthurium Girl. Thank you very much, Ruel! You made me sound better than I do!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Write Or Die Announcements (Updated)

I apologize for this rather late set of announcements (haven't been checking out the blogs of friends lately). Read Or Die has announced its non-fiction series of talks for January, 2008:

January 12 (Saturday): Maribel Garcia
Science Writing
Powerbooks Greenbelt, 2-4PM

January 20 (Sunday): Isagani Cruz
Writing Literary Criticism
Powerbooks Greenbelt, 2-4PM

January 26 (Saturday): Butch Dalisay*
Creative Non-Fiction
Powerbooks Megamall, 2-4PM

Well, this announcement is too late for January 12, but you can still catch the other two.

*Sir Butch's talk has been moved to Feb. 2, 2007, Powerbooks Trinoma, due to ongoing renovations at Powerbooks Megamall.

Peter Gordon, Man Asian Prize Executive Director

Here's an invitation from Sir Butch Dalisay, copied and pasted from his email. So who wants to go? I'm fixing my schedule so I can make it. Please let me know, so I can inform Sir Butch. PGS contributors and readers are all invited. Let's go, folks! This might well be worth all our whiles!

hi, kenneth! kumusta? was wondering if you could help me publicize (and better yet, if you could be there at) peter gordon's talk in UP next thursday. here's the official PR. it would be great if you could bring your PGS regulars along, or at least invite them. many thanks, and see you soon!


Man Asian Prize Exec Director to Meet with Local Writers Jan. 24

Peter Gordon, Executive Director of the Man Asian Literary Prize, will be in Manila on Thursday, January 24, to promote the prize among Filipino writers and to speak on “International Opportunities for Filipino Writers.” The UP Institute of Creative Writing is hosting his talk, which will be held that day at 2:30 pm at the AVR Room, 2nd floor, Rizal Hall (Faculty Center), UP Diliman.

The Man Asian—informally known as the “Asian Booker”—was established in 2006 and made its first award in 2007 for the best unpublished novel in English or English translation by an Asian. Filipino fictionist and UP professor Jose Dalisay Jr.’s novel Soledad’s Sister made the shortlist of the inaugural prize, which drew 243 entries from all over Asia. The deadline for the 2008 Man Asian is March 31.

Gordon will speak about the prize and on literary publishing in Asia in general. The UPICW is inviting all interested writers, translators, publishers, teachers, and students to attend the lecture-discussion, which will also feature Dr. Dalisay and fellow novelist and columnist Alfred “Krip” Yuson.

Peter Gordon is also a founder and former Director of the Man Hong Kong International Literary Festival (held each March in Hong Kong), founder and editor of the Asian Review of Books, and publisher at Chameleon Press. He writes a weekly op-ed column in the Hong Kong daily The Standard and is chairman of the Russian Interest Group at the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A View On The Future Of Reading

Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, has an online editorial entitled "Harry Potter and the Future of Reading".

I share her hope.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Compilation Of Writing Markets

M.R.R. "Bhex" Arcega, author of "The Magic Christmas Box" from the PGS Holiday Issue, and who is also the person behind the Philippine Speculative Fiction blog, is busy compiling a list of markets that RP writers can consider sending their pieces to. Check the link out, and let her know of any other markets that she can add to the list. She's doing a wonderful service, as this will be very helpful to writers.

It's also great for those of us who are more readers than writers. Thanks to her, we now know of other places where we can get our story-fixes. Thanks very much, Bhex!

Friday, January 11, 2008

On Science Fiction, by Kurt Vonnegut

Chiles Samaniego sends in this link, On Science Fiction, by Kurt Vonnegut (The New York Times, September 5, 1965). After reading the recommended link by The Bibliophile Stalker on the possible state of science-fiction publishing in the post immediately preceding this, one finds that the labeling and "respect" aspect may have already been an issue more than forty years ago, according to Vonnegut.

Is There Nepotism In Science Fiction?

The Bibliophile Stalker sent in this link. An interesting read, and it confirms too my suspicions that the mystery/crime genre in the U.S. is more than twice that of scifi/fantasy.

Dumb Dream

Last night, while I was sleeping, I dreamed of a big face-off between genre fiction writers and realist a bowling tournament.

The genre team was composed of Dean Alfar, his wife Nikki, Yvette Tan, Chiles Samaniego, Sean Uy, Luis Katigbak, Tin Mandigma, Joseph Nacino, Ian Casocot, and every other spec. fic. writer/reader I know of.

Natch, to balance it off, the realist team had Butch Dalisay, Sarge Lacuesta, Maryanne Moll, Exie Abola, Janet Villa, F.H. Batacan, Danton Remoto, and believe it or not, F. Sionil Jose without his cane, and N.V.M. Gonzales and Nick Joaquin very much alive, along with all the other realist writers whose work we've all read and enjoyed.

(My apologies to the writers who have done both realist and genre work, or for those who write realist genre (like F.H. Batacan), for putting you in one team or the other, but that's the way it went while I was sleeping)

In my dream, the tournament was a big event, with banners, giveaways, trophies,...even a raffle with door prizes and cheering squads! And everyone was walking around in those multi-colored bowling shirts--either one size too large or one size too tight--that professional comedians always love to make fun of. The dream would have been more pleasant if it had been the girls wearing the tight shirts, but sadly...

The genre team used all their magic, hocus-pocus, scifi mumbo-jumbo, and what-not when they tried to knock the pins down. So there were magic-spells cast by the fantasists; the scifi people wore technological wrist supports that looked like something Optimus Prime would have; and the horror writers just tried to scare the realists into rolling their balls into the gutter.

The realist team had none of these things. BUT...they had Paeng Nepomuceno as their coach. The Paeng. That offset any magic spell or scientific claptrap the genre team had.

I think I know why I dreamed this dream. First, my wife and I had just bought a Nintendo Wii for my kids as a Christmas present, and bowling was one of their favorite games, so we've been spending a lot of nice family time knocking down virtual pins. Second, one of my brothers met Paeng last year and had gotten his picture and autograph for me; the signed photo sits on my bedside table. Third, my high-school friends had invited me last week to join an alumni bowling tournament, which I declined because I don't play anymore (bum knee, painful story, don't want to get into it); day one of that tournament was last night, and I think I miss my old friends.

Near the end of the dream tournament, the score was close and everything had come down to the last frame, when (bad story trope coming--you've been warned) I woke up.

Or rather, I was woken my wife.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"Urmph, yes, yes."

"You were thrashing about a lot. Couldn't sleep well? Nightmare?"

"Yes. Come to think of it, very much a yes."

"Well, next time you have a bad dream, try not to wake me up."

I stayed awake a bit after my wife went back to sleep. I didn't want to risk revisiting the dream tournament. ;P

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Update On Andre

Great news, folks! I received some emails recently from Andre's friends, Jenny and Migs, that he woke up around Christmas last month and is now undergoing therapy. Looks like he's going to make it! Here's wishing you well, Andre!

Linking Authors And Readers' Preferences

Talk about degrees of separation: Literature-Map - The Tourist Map of Literature is a site that allows you to type in the name of any author, and which will then give you the names of other authors that you may like to read in turn.

For example: typing in "Agatha Christie" brings up other names like Arthur Conan Doyle, Ellery Queen, Mary Higgins Clark, Patricia Cornwell, Sue Grafton, and Kathy Reichs. However, the site's not perfect in its listings. In addition to the above names, all of whom are mystery/suspense writers, the site also listed Enid Blyton and R.L. Stine, both children's authors and not writers whose books you'd put side-by-side with Death On The Nile or Murder On The Orient Express (granted though that the former has written children's mysteries while the latter writes children's horror/suspense).

Monday, January 07, 2008

PGS Special Halloween Issue: Call For Submissions

After the PGS holiday-themed issue, let's try, at the suggestion of award-winning writer and PGS contributor Yvette Tan, a Halloween-themed one. In fact, seeing as the workload for PGS is piling up, and it's becoming harder to manage things as both publisher and editor, I've accepted Yvette's offer to let her be the guest editor for this special issue due out near Halloween 2008.
Since stories of the supernatural are what grabs Yvette's attention (and what flows from her pen most of the time), editing the Halloween issue seems like a perfect fit. The guidelines:

- Submissions have to be of the horror/suspense genre. Ghost tales and stories of the supernatural are welcome. Cross-genre tales are also welcome (think "Alien", the first one, which is really more horror with a mix of scifi). Trying to mix horror with other genres like humor, fantasy, or romance is also welcome.

- Horror tropes, whether local or international, are welcome, but preference will be given to tales with a fresh take. Feel free to set your story anywhere, or write about any topic you want, but be aware there are things that have been done many times before.

- It's all right to use in your story mythic creatures, settings, or items that are not copyright protected (like kapres, aswangs, werewolves, vampires, El Dorado, the Fountain of Youth, etc.). But stories with such that are still under copyright protection will be rejected. So an homage/fan-fic piece, like Dracula in Dagupan, or Sherlock Holmes chasing a lost tikbalang in gas-lit London, might be considered, depending on how well-written and original the piece is (Note: Dracula and Sherlock Holmes are characters of the public domain now, as are all of Shakespeare's plays). But stories involving copyrighted material will not be considered. So a story involving Lestat wielding Voltes V's laser sword driving Marty McFly's DeLorean while being hunted down by Captain Barbell in alliance with the Powerpuff Girls, Darna, and Elmer (who is brandishing Indiana Jones' bull whip); said tale being also set in a modern-day Bacolod that has several magical/scientific/yada-yada shining portals that can take you to Hogwarts/Middle Earth/The bridge of the Enterprise/Narnia/Camp Big Falcon/Super Mario World,...will be rejected outright.

Pure, original stories, with original or copyright-lapsed characters, items, and settings, are most welcome. :)

- Send your submissions to pdohs(at)yahoo(dot)com. All stories will then be forwarded to Yvette Tan.

- Deadline is June 30, 2008, about six months away from the date of this post.

All previous horror/suspense submissions that are currently pending will be automatically forwarded to Yvette for this special Halloween issue. If you have any questions, just leave a comment here. Thanks!

*Erratum: thanks to The Bibliophile Stalker, who sent in this link, I found out that Arthur Conan Doyle's characters are still under trademark protection after all. So that erases Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and a few others from free use. My mistake; I thought enough time had passed for the characters to have fallen already into the public domain. Thanks for the heads-up, Charles!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

And So It Begins Again...

..."It" being another year.

Happy New Year to all!

And so now, back to work. *Sigh*.