Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Campaign For Real Fear

Can you write a 500-word story that "encapsulates modern fears"?

If you can, consider sending a story in to The Campaign For Real Fear. Here's a write-up about it over at The Guardian. An excerpt:

The Campaign for Real Fear is the creation of Christopher Fowler – author of many critically acclaimed urban horror stories and the quirky Bryant & May detective series – and blogger Maura McHugh. It was born out of McHugh's frustration with what she sees as the genre's failings to be fully representative.

On her blog Splinister, McHugh has twice blown the whistle on instances of perceived bias: in September, she pointed out that a British Fantasy Society book of interviews with horror writers contained no women. Last month, she highlighted the same issue with SFX magazine's horror special. Both of those rows are well-documented and led to widespread internet debate (and, to be fair, apologies and explanations from the targets of her ire). Now, with Fowler's support, McHugh seems to be focusing her energies on doing something positive about the situation. Setting out the Campaign for Real Fear's manifesto on his blog, Fowler writes: "Our nascent horror movement is beginning to grow... We're hoping to change the outmoded habits of the past, aiming for some positive discrimination leading to fresh new strands of writing that will benefit readers and publishers alike. The Campaign for Real Fear starts here." Both Fowler and McHugh were at the World Horror Convention in Brighton at the weekend, spreading the word.

Here are the FAQ's.

Again, my thanks to the regular PGS blog reader who emailed this link in.

The Class Pyramid Of British Literature

Here's an interesting article, "The Class Pyramid Of British Literature", over at The Guardian about how different types of writers are ranked in terms of "social class". An excerpt:

At the top, to my way of thinking anyway, there are those impoverished aristos, the poets. To be a poet, however reduced and/or neglected, is to be a member of an elite; heir to a tradition that includes Chaucer, Shakespeare, Byron, Auden and Larkin.

Poets, for me, are closely followed by playwrights, for rather the same reason. Playwrights aren't aristocrats, but oddly vagrant. They're part of a tradition that is, arguably, the richest and most original thread in the English-literature tapestry. Write a successful play and you join Shakespeare (again), Jonson, Congreve, Sheridan, Wilde, Shaw, Pinter (there's no need, here, to get into an argument about the Irish contribution). I think it's undeniable that plays and players embody something uniquely demotic and uniquely English about our literature.

Then, oh dear yes, we come to the literary novelists. These are not (usually) aristocrats, but are rather middle-class types who spring from bourgeois society in all its complexity. Popular historians, biographers and memoirists share a similar position.

How much further are other types of writers ranked? Click here to read the whole article.

Would anyone like to take a crack at ranking the literary hierarchy here in the Philippines? :D

My thanks to the regular PGS blog reader who emailed me this link.

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover

Really, you can't. Not anymore. Not with eBooks. They don't have covers.

Check out this article over at The New York Times. An excerpt:

Bindu Wiles was on a Q train in Brooklyn this month when she spotted a woman reading a book whose cover had an arresting black silhouette of a girl’s head set against a bright orange background.

Ms. Wiles noticed that the woman looked about her age, 45, and was carrying a yoga mat, so she figured that they were like-minded and leaned in to catch the title: “Little Bee,” a novel by Chris Cleave. Ms. Wiles, a graduate student in nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence College, tapped a note into her iPhone and bought the book later that week.

Such encounters are becoming increasingly difficult. With a growing number of people turning to Kindles and other electronic readers, and with the Apple iPad arriving on Saturday, it is not always possible to see what others are reading or to project your own literary tastes.

You can’t tell a book by its cover if it doesn’t have one.

Click here to read the whole article.

Reminder: Officially Philippines 2010 Writing Contest

Just to remind you of The Officially Philippines 2010 Writing Contest, which I blogged about last February 14, 2010. Since there's a long break this week here in the Philippines, and many of you may be off traveling, this may be a perfect opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of your trips, and then write about them and send them in to this contest. The grand prize is P15,000 and one Sony PSP. There are three other categories with P5,000 cash prizes each.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pinoy Wrimos At The Summer Komikon

Ria Lu of Talecraft emailed me about the Pinoy Wrimos who will be at the coming Summer Komikon. Here's the copy-and-pasted entry from the Talecraft website:

As part of our Project 20:10 Advocacy, Talecraft is sponsoring a table for the Pinoy NaNoWriMos to be able to promote and sell their e-books! Here are some of the titles appearing at the Summer Komikon on April 17, 2010 at the UP Bahay ng Alumni:

Pauline Tan
Title: Ghost Café: Now Open
(1 short story, 1 novel)

Genre: Mystery/Thriller, Supernatural

Summary: There's something we call 'retired'. So, if I say I'm already retired, it means I'm no more in service. Been so for the past four years, actually. Please stop sending me lovely lady agents, seriously. It's not easy to run a coffee house when there are blond agents running in and out, threatening me to do exorcisms when I'm already a retired exorcist. It's not that I'm old. I just have issues and hey, just because I agreed to it in the end, it doesn't mean you can just throw some ghost of a crazy serial killer--are you even listening? Jebus.

Raven Warrchylde
Title: Crimson Skies

Genre: Literary Fiction

Blurb: Her name is Cindy Wilder and she is a novelist. She wrote a story and made it big in the industry wherein people will die just to reach her. Literally. When she woke up to find an angry yet angel-like creature watching over her; she knew, she is now a part of her story and she's the main character who is doomed to die. Will she be able to live through the next chapters?

Judd Labarda
Title: Dragon Wars: The Dragon Slayer's Heart
(novel excerpt/sample as of last information)

Genre: Science Fiction

Blurb: “A group of gaming enthusiasts who challenge the inequitous system of their ‘world’... An extraordinary tale of friendship, deceit, and betrayal... Weaved into humorous satire and heartrending drama.”

EK Gonzales (PGS Contributor for The Holiday Issue)
Title: Activated

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Blurb: In two regions where elements are controlled by programs, four young people must work together and save Selatan from an invasion by Pendi. Fire programmer Lan has given up on life. Heal programmer Beika has to prove her worth and her friendship. Futuretell Marceau must defend her new authority. Ice programmer Soji must seek his reason to live. They will have to work together to get back Selatan's new Crimson Master before it is too late.

If you're interested in being part of this project, feel free to email us.

eBooks: the new Betamax/VHS disruptive technology?

An entry over at Small Stories compares eBooks to the dawning days of home video, back when Betamax/VHS were all the rage. An excerpt:

There's a fascinating podcast at Beyond the Book with William Patry where he talks about the massive moral hysteria against Betamax and VHS video recording technology when it first appeared. The television networks were terrified that people would record TV programs to FAST FORWARD through the adverts, thus making their advertising business model unworkable.

The film business used home video recorders as a scapegoat when their core profits were increasingly generated by home film rental rather than theatrical sales and were taking a hits from pirated videos - but they completely forgot to add that no one expected such a huge market from home video rentals which as a market had never even existed before - and only came about through video recording technology.

It's amazing how many of these fears and arguments have resurfaced with eBooks - without paper books we will lose our culture, paper books are 'natural', people prefer paper books, ebooks will destroy the publishing business, they're not 'real' books, the quality will suffer ... think about the whole hype against the video 'nasty' and the fear about the corrupting moral effects of computer games.

I'm pretty confident that ebook technology will create new markets that we haven't grasped yet ... new markets much like the video store rental service (instead of having to go to a film theatre) - home entertainment was a revolutionary concept in its time.

Philip Pullman On Censorship And Free Speech

Related to Deck Shoes' blog entry, which I mentioned here, is this quotable quote from Philip Pullman:

Philip Pullman, addressing an audience at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, was asked about whether his latest book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, was offensive. Here's his reply:

"It was a shocking thing to say and I knew it was a shocking thing to say. But no one has the right to live without being shocked. No one has the right to spend their life without being offended. Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it. And if you open it and read it, you don't have to like it. And if you read it and you dislike it, you don't have to remain silent about it. You can write to me, you can complain about it, you can write to the publisher, you can write to the papers, you can write your own book. You can do all those things, but there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop me writing this book. No one has the right to stop it being published, or bought, or sold or read. That's all I have to say on that subject."

Click here to see the video of Philip Pullman making this quote.

Asian Chic Book Launch In Manila

As seen on Facebook:

Hello to the VIPs in our lives!

Anvil Publishing is releasing our novels in Manila, and we would love for you to be there for the book launch on April 8!

A little backstory: Last November 2008, we successfully launched three chick lit titles in Singapore and Malaysia, but sadly a lot of our Philippine-based friends couldn't come.

Just a teaser on the books...

• "Mrs MisMarriage" by Noelle de Jesus Chua
This delicious novel about a reluctant newlywed's adventures is by the Palanca award-winning author and editor of "Fastfood Fiction", an anthology published by Anvil.

• "Amazing Grace" by Tara FT Sering
One woman's hilarious jetsetting journey to true love is by the multi-awarded Sering (she wrote "Almost Married", among many other books)

• "Undercover Tai Tai" by Maya O Calica
This mystery thriller has action, romance and comedy thrown in, and is by the bestselling author of "The Breakup Diaries", which was produced as part of ABC-5's "Love Books" TV series in 2008.

See you all on April 8, 5.30pm, at National Bookstore at the Shangri-La Mall. And do come up and say hello :)

Noelle, Tara and Maya

Nomination Form For The 1st National Children's Book Awards

Here is the nomination form for The 1st National Children's Book Awards, which I blogged about last March 13, 2010. If you wish to nominate a book, please download the form and send it to the NBDB. Click here for the rules. The deadline is on April 15, 2010.

Daily Love: Open To Submissions

(The title to this blog entry could be interpreted another way, couldn't it? :D)

There's a new story site that launched today. It's called Daily Love, which promises "Love stories, daily." Well, romance is a genre, too. An excerpt:

Set to offer you new tales of romance and love every day, 365 days a year, Daily Love is the brain child of author E.S. Wynn. His vision was to create a place where writers who pen the art of love could get the exposure they need to get noticed within the mainstream of society, all while providing a constant dose of romance for readers all over the globe.

Send love/romance-themed submissions (poetry, stories, etc.) less than 4000 words in the body of an email (not as attachments) to: dailylovesubmissions(at)gmail(dot)com.

Here are their complete submission guidelines.

Wow! What If It Really Works?

This article, "Archaeologists Unearth 'Door to Afterlife'", has got me thinking of a slam-bang popcorn adventure story. I could set it in modern times, or not, set it in the West, or here in the East, change the cultures, change the characters, background, adjust the mysticism. Yeah! All based on the question, "What if it really works?". Now, if I only had the time to write it, hehe. Those ancient Egyptians sure have some of the coolest artifacts. An excerpt from the article:

Archaeologists have unearthed a 3,500-year-old door to the afterlife from the tomb of a high-ranking Egyptian official near Karnak temple in Luxor, the Egyptian antiquities authority said Monday.

These recessed niches found in nearly all ancient Egyptian tombs were meant to take the spirits of the dead to and from the afterworld. The nearly six-foot-tall slab of pink granite was covered with religious texts.

The door came from the tomb of User, the chief minister of Queen Hatshepsut, a powerful, long ruling 15th century B.C. queen from the New Kingdom with a famous mortuary temple near Luxor in southern Egypt.

User held the position of vizier for 20 years, also acquiring the titles of prince and mayor of the city, according to the inscriptions. He may have inherited his position from his father.

Philip Pullman’s Talk at the Oxford Literary Festival 2010

Deck Shoes shares her experience at The 2010 Oxford Literary Festival, where she attended author Philip Pullman's talk about his latest book, "The Good Man Jesus And The Scoundrel Christ". An excerpt from her blog entry:

Attended author Philip Pullman’s talk at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford on Sunday where he was interviewed by Peter Kemp (fiction editor of Sunday Times and who also interviewed Ian McEwan last year). He talked about his new book “The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ,” his retelling of the life of Jesus who appears in the book as twin brothers Jesus and Christ. The interview lasted 45 minutes, afterwards the audience was invited to ask questions during the last 15. When I looked up news and blog posts about this interview, I wasn’t surprised that the gist was mostly on Mr. Pullman’s last words, in answer to the question regarding the title of the book. His response, in sum, was about choices and rights. To quote one of his lines, “And if you read it and dislike it, you don’t have to remain silent about it.”

Call For Submissions: Our Own Voice (Journal For Filipinos In The Diaspora)

Our Own Voice has a call for submissions (blogged about on Asia Writes) for pieces about the Chinese-Filipino heritage for their December 2010 issue. Here's their call:

We are an online literary journal for Filipinos in the Diaspora. We are now accepting submissions for an upcoming issue (December 2010) which will be on Chinese Filipino history and heritage. Such an issue would offer our readers essays, poetry, short stories, links as well as a bibliography on Philippine-Chinese materials and electronic resources housed in the Library of Congress.


* Short story up to 5,000 words
* 5 poems for a single submission, not more than 50 lines per poem
* Essays, book reviews and critiques up to 5,000 words
* Excerpts from dramatic pieces or plays limited to 3,000-5,000 words

For works that significantly exceed these word count parameters, please query the editor. We will not outright reject a piece because it is too long.

Send to our.own.voice(at)gmail(dot)com. Authors will be notified of the status of their submission by e-mail.

Deadline: November 1st.

Please visit our site at

2010 Palancas Official Rules and Forms

Thanks to Sir Butch Dalisay, the official rules and forms for the 2010 Palancas are now available over on his blog, Pinoy Penman. Good luck to those who are joining this year!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Twelfth Planet Press, Call For Submissions For Speakeasy

Here's a call for submissions from Twelfth Planet Press for their coming anthology, Speakeasy. An excerpt:

Speakeasy is a roaring, lively and exciting new original anthology, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and published by Twelfth Planet Press. It will blend art deco with urban fantasy, the Charleston with the vampire and the flapper with the noir detective. It will be fast paced, action packed and well dressed. Stories in the vein of Dorothy Parker's "Flappers: A Hate Song" will also be considered.

Stories for Speakeasy should be original, unpublished fantasy stories of between 2,500 wds and 7,500 wds, set in the 1920s and fun.

How: send your submission in rtf attachment to
Length: stories should be between 2 500 and 7 500 words
Submissions will open June 1 and close September 30, 2010.
Payment: AUS$50 per story

Trouble At Science Fiction World

The largest science fiction magazine in the world (in circulation terms) is experiencing problems. Many editors of the magazine, Science Fiction World, are asking for the ouster of its president, Li Chang, whom they are accusing of mismanagement. An excerpt:

China's leading science-fiction authors have joined mounting calls for the removal of the head of the country's best-loved science-fiction magazine, and warned of the journal's imminent demise if no action is taken.

Editors of Science Fiction World (SFW) have published an open letter online, claiming their president, Li Chang, is incapable of running the magazine and requesting his removal from the post.

Such editorial rebellions are rarely heard of in China as the publication sector is firmly controlled by the Communist Party and the president or editor-in-chief of a magazine is appointed by the superior administrative department.

The open letter has prompted hundreds of thousands netizens to comment on the Internet in support of the editors.

SFW had a circulation of 150,000 copies a month when Li took over at the beginning of 2009, but the latest figures showed the figure has fallen to 130,000, said a senior editor of the magazine.

"The circulation had been declining in recent years. We are all anxious, but Li took no positive action and it kept declining," said the editor.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Call For Submissions -- Girls With Guns

This looks like fun: There's a call for submissions for an anthology called Girls With Guns. An excerpt:

Made in DNA and Tonya R. Moore (Yours Truly) are extending an open invitation to digital authors of all genres to be a part of our upcoming Girls With Guns Anthology. The Girls With Guns anthology will be published on Smashwords and made available for Free download.

There is no payout–the anthology will be free to readers. Authors retain the full rights to their work. We only require one-time digital publication rights. Our intent is to give some of the awesomely talented writers out there a chance to gain a bit of exposure while offering readers a taste of bold and unapologetic fiction.

If you’re a digital author who happens to like girls, girls with guns or girls who like girls with guns… do you see where I’m going with this?

Click here for the full submission guidelines.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Word On Short Novels

From The Guardian, Short Is Sweet When It Comes To Fiction. An excerpt:

What have On Chesil Beach, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Don DeLillo's Point Omega got in common? Bewitching narratives concealing hidden depths? Check. Characters dealing with broken lives? Check. Authors performing at the peak of their prowess? Check. All read by me in a single week recently? Oh yes, check. How? Because they're all under 150 pages long.

It's taken me a long time to realise how much I love short novels — those unintimidating, pencil-thick volumes which say: "Pick me up. I won't take up too much of your time. You could read me over (a longish) breakfast." The Outsider, A Clockwork Orange, The Great Gatsby, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Clarice Lispector's The Hour of the Star, The Old Man and the Sea and Of Mice and Men all barely break the 100-page barrier. The last three don't even do that.

When they're this good, short novels come close to perfection in a manner for which longer novels are simply not equipped. Big, sprawling novels are glorious precisely because they're allowed to run riot.

Click here to read the entire article.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Demons of the New Year: Horror from the Philippines

Estranghero Press has just made live the short-fiction site Demons of the New Year: Horror from the Philippines. It is edited by Karl de Mesa and PGS contributor Joseph Nacino; and among the writers in the online anthology is another PGS contributor, Dominique Cimafranca. Congratulations to the editors and the writers! Head on over to read their stories, everyone!

Beautiful Old Typewriters In Photos

Check out this link to see some fascinatingly gorgeous typewriters from the past. They look properly repaired and refurbished, and professionally photographed.

My thanks to the PGS blog reader who sent the link in.

The Marilou Diaz-Abaya Film Institute and Arts Center Is Now Accepting Students

From a PM sent to me:

The Power of Storytelling. Character. The Visual Narrative. Film Sense. Line of Vision. Montage. Mise-en-scene. Screenwriting. Production Design. Screen Acting. Cinematography for 35mm and the Red Cam. Coverage of Action. Film and Video Editing. Sound Recording and Mixing. Color Grading. Production Protocols. The Science, Art, and Business of Motion Picture Production. On-the-job training in the “living sets” of professional productions.

From your script to the big screen, tell your stories. Do it right. Do it with MDAFI, the Marilou Diaz-Abaya Film Institute and Arts Center. Let Direk Marilou mentor you!

APRIL 15: Deadline for online registration
E-mail: mdafilm(at)gmail(dot)com
Mobile : (63 906) 4570072
Telephone: 724-5678, 722-8489

Business office: Penthouse, Providence Bldg., 55 Annapolis St., Greenhills, San Juan City, Philippines. Campus: Mil Flores corner Third St., Beverly Hills Subdivision, Antipolo City, Philippines.

Pay in Philippine Pesos for an international standard film education. Avail of easy-payment schemes, O% interest student loans, and group rates.

A Nationwide Children's Storybook Writing Competition On Health

From my email inbox:

Studies show that the single best determinant of health is educational attainment. Building a healthier Philippines begins with our children and their innate capacities to build better worlds in their minds. Let us foster this by helping them learn to read.

The MU SIGMA PHI SORORITY of the UP College of Medicine

is now calling for entries for the

1st Gawad Panitikang Pangkalusugan – a nationwide children’s storybook writing competition on health.

The contest is open to all Filipino residents aged 18 years old and above, and challenges participants to break away from the clinical, didactic presentation of health issues and create it into a form that is both enjoyable and educational for a young audience aged 5-10 years old.

Entries must creatively tackle the theme: “Tabi-tabi po” – Exploring Philippine Health Myths.

Winners will receive Php 25,000 in cash, a medal, and a chance to be published as a full-color picture in a 7-volume storybook series. Published books will be donated to the AHON Foundation and other beneficiaries.

Deadline of entries is on May 15, 2010.

Visit for details.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ClickTheCity Covers Neil Gaiman's Manila Visit

During the awarding ceremonies of The 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards, I had the good fortune of sitting beside ClickTheCity's charming and friendly writer, Ali Caronongan. Her article is now up: Manila Welcomes Neil Gaiman With Open Arms. Head on over to read about her experiences covering Neil's stay in Manila, and how she was able to meet him during the book signing events (she was one of the lucky winners during the raffle for a chance to have books signed with the author). An excerpt:

In fulfilling everyone’s secret dream of being a Rockstar groupie, having the pleasure to be within the circles of Neil Gaiman, Literature’s critically-acclaimed Rockstar, seemed more than just a fulfilled ambition: It was Surreality at its best.

Gaiman, well-known for the novels American Gods, Neverwhere, Anansi Boys and the brains behind the Sandman series of graphic novels, recently visited Manila to co-host the awarding ceremonies of the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards - Revelations: Stories of Light and Darkness. Together with Fully Booked, the two-day affair consisted of the awarding ceremonies held at the Rockwell Tent last Wednesday evening, and a Book signing held at the Powerplant Mall on Thurday afternoon.

Better than the OSCARS: A Biased Opinion

Having missed his first two visits to the Philippines, I – like any other Gaiman fan - would have marked those as “red letter-days” to witness one of my favorite authors in the flesh. Originally not expecting any close encounter with Mr. Gaiman (at first), the thoughts of merely sharing the Rockwell Tent and breathing the same air as he did were enough to keep any fan motivated to hope for an extraordinary Wednesday night.

I arrived with my best friends who attended Gaiman’s last visit three years ago at Bonifacio High Street. The turn-out for the Awards Night this time was surprising. The crowd – consisting of avid fans that seemed eager to forget it was a school night or a work day – was given the chance to rub elbows with the finalists, past winners, and different personalities from the realms of entertainment and literature.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Asia Writes

I'd like to call everyone's attention to Asia Writes, a blog devoted to being "an up-to-date resource for Asian writers in English". In addition to competitions, Asia Writes also informs its visitors of various calls for submissions, scholarships/grants, workshops, and open teaching positions. Do check it out, as the site is regularly updated and seems pretty comprehensive.'s Novella Writing Contest is holding a tenth anniversary novella writing contest. An excerpt:

The novella is an unduly neglected form. Death in Venice, Heart of Darkness, Miss Lonelyhearts—would any of these find its way into print today, if it came from any but a well-known author? For traditional publishers, the fixed costs of making a book are too great an obstacle—to justify this outlay, a book has to sell for a price higher than most buyers are willing to pay, for a text that may come in at “only,” say, fifty pages. As to journals, even One Story won’t take anything longer than 8,000 words.

So what of the new Billy Budd or Seize the Day? Will it sit forever, unread but by one, on its author’s hard drive, or in his Moleskine?

No! We’ve opined before about epublishing’s unique ability to give new life—bring new readers, in loads—to fiction in all its forms. Now we’d like to do our bit to revivify this great, if lately unloved form.

The prize is US$500.00. The deadline is May 15, 2010. Stories should be 8,000 words and up. Click here for more details.

As seen via Asia Writes.

Science In My Fiction Contest

Here's a new contest from Crossed Genres, Science In My Fiction. An excerpt:

There’s been a lot of talk recently about whether science fiction is obsolete, no longer the genre of ideas, and so on. Some people have claimed that there is no need to educate yourself in science in order to write science fiction.

We respectfully think that’s hooey, so we came up with the Science in My Fiction contest!

Here’s how it works: Authors write a science fiction or fantasy short story which is inspired by a scientific discovery or innovation made or announced within the past year. It can’t be peripherally added: the science must be integral to the story. Writers must include a link to a relevant article or study of the applied science when they submit their stories.

We’ll be looking for thoughtful, creative and well-researched application of science to a story. This doesn’t mean you should neglect your plot or characters, though! The best entries will be those which use science to enhance the plot, setting and characters, rather than dominate them.

First prize is US$250, second US$100, and third US$50. Deadline is June 30, 2010. The list of judges is here (of whom are writers, an agent, and a webcomic creator; I note Randall Munroe of xkcd and Cat Rambo among them :D). Click here for more details.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Future Of Publishing

A positive look on the changing face of publishing.

Early And Late, By Butch Dalisay

Sir Butch Dalisay shares some interesting observations about his writing when he was a young man, and back when he was a younger man ;-P, in this article of his, Early And Late. An excerpt:

LAST WEEK I promised to share a few paragraphs from my first Palanca-prizewinning story, “Agcalan Point,” which I saw again recently for the first time in 35 years. I’m going to do this not to praise myself, but precisely to show how artificial my voice was back then, and how it’s changed since, by way of talking more generally about how writers and their words change over time.

Here goes:

“Approaching Ginbulanan harbor from the west, as it is the only entry the sea leaves open short of tearing your craft apart with its sunken teeth, the traveler meets Agcalan.

“From afar you perceive a decrepit Spanish fort more than a thousand feet above the bobbing horizon, thickly overhung with clouds in the month of August. From that crown Agcalan plunges madly downwards into jagged slivers of gray sandstone into the sea, carpeted by a fine silken spray.

“Treachery lurks but a fathom below; ships passing this point must have crews of redoubtable courage. So far from the open sea, so near to land—and there the danger lies, to founder on some ill-anchored reef or be crushed against the immutable cheek of Agcalan.

“Agcalan has always been there, and you have only seen it now. It has seen everything, and you know nothing, a speck of flotsam in time and space, and you are overwhelmed. There is majesty in the primeval, some godly attribute magnified by the prism of the transparent mind, and it is here.”

Now let’s a do a little self-analysis.

Note the tone and setting of the story. It doesn’t happen on a typical Tuesday on a city street. It starts on the swell of the ocean, wrenching the reader from the familiar. We are introduced to a “decrepit Spanish fort,” suggesting a bygone era, cloaking the piece in a mythic mist. This effect is reinforced by words and phrases like “thickly overhung,” “redoubtable courage,” “ill-anchored,” “majesty in the primeval,” “godly attribute,” and that last mouthful, “the prism of the transparent mind.”

Those lines will probably get past or even be liked by an impressionable audience. But looking at them now, as the 56-year old reader rather than the 21-year-old writer, I can sense a certain stridency, a palpable anxiety to be taken seriously, which seems easiest to achieve with the use of windy, resonant, polysyllabic words.

It’s the bane of wet-eared writers, this notion that big words and foggy settings will get you far. It’s an understandable crutch, especially when you don’t feel too confident about your material—or haven’t found it yet; a retreat into the romantic past provides a good excuse for mock-heroic prose and a touch of melodrama. I find myself having to tell my students to unlearn this tendency by, among others, asking them to throw their thesaurus away, especially when the only reason they turn to it is to find a fancier word for something as basic as “talk” (expostulate?) or “walk” (perambulate?).

For comparison, here’s a scene from a story I published in 2002, when I was 48: “Some Families, Very Large”:

Click here to read the whole entry.

Brief Respite 2010

From these two earlier ones, I think I can sense a pattern. :)

This is the South China Sea, just like from the first respite, but now the view is from Bataan.

The book I took with me this time? "Live Without A Net", edited by Lou Anders.

RJ Ledesma Interviews Neil Gaiman

RJ Ledesma of The Philippine Star interviews Neil Gaiman in this article, Sandman Hearts The Dork Knight. An excerpt:

PHILIPPINE STAR: When you first came to the Philippines in 2005, you mentioned at a writer’s workshop your admiration for several Filipino artists who had made it big in the US comic book industry — Nestor Redondo, Alfredo Alcala and Alex Nino. You described their art as “beautiful line work, elegant lines, beauty and proportion, a sense of quirkiness and beauty.” Did their artistic style influence the themes that you have explored in your comic book and prose works?

NEIL GAIMAN: I honestly don’t know. (Laughs) Because that’s the kind of thing when you say “What would you have been like if you had not met this woman?”, “If you had not seen this art?” or “If you had not read this story?” You don’t know. But the enormous effect that these artists had on me was that it gave me a respect for the Philippines. When I first came here, these artists were all I knew about the country. I knew nothing about Filipino culture, I knew almost nothing about Filipino politics.

That might actually be a good thing.

I knew almost nothing about Filipino history. But what I knew was that this was the country here Alex Nino and Tony de Zuniga and Alfredo Alcala and all these artists came from. They were some of the people who got me through my teens. I liked at how Alfredo crosshatched, he came up with the whole technique of crosshatching of one way and then crosshatching the other way. That was his line work. Looking at things like Alex Nino’s retelling of (Harlan Ellison’s short story) “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Tick-Tock Man.” This was glorious artwork, and these were guys were so good. And I honestly don’t know that I would have started this whole Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards contest if it hadn’t been for those guys, in some ways.

Those guys were really the pioneers who brought Filipino comic art to a global audience. It’s a shame they aren’t as popular as they should be back here in their homeland.

When I came out here, everyone was telling me that being a (fiction/comic book writer) is so cool in America and in England. “But here in the Philippines, we don’t really do that fiction of comic ‘stuff.’” I said, “What do you mean you don’t do it? You started it!” Some of the greatest artists (from the medium) came from here. What was strange during that period was that when I’d say this, people would say “Really?” I’d ask “Have you heard about Alex Nino?” And they would say “No.”

Shocking, isn’t it?

It really is. I hope that one of the little things that I got to do as part of the strange cultural exchange that has been going on between me and the Philippines for the last five years is actually to remind the Filipinos that some of the greatest artists in comics in the latter half of the century came from here.

Interestingly enough, many of these “classic” artists were influenced by the work of the late great Francisco Coching, who was a pillar in the local komiks industry and was known as the dean of Philippine comics. In fact, he was twice nominated as a National Artist for the Visual Arts. How many nominees for National Artists do you know from the comic book profession?

Awesome! I love the respect with which (art) is still held out here. Among the local comic book creators, I find Gerry Alanguilan’s Elmer is one of my favorite comics. It’s just heartbreaking and funny and so beautifully drawn.

What do you think of our younger crop of komiks creators?

I love Arnold Arre’s stuff (Arnold is the creator of The Mythology Class, Trip to Tagaytay and Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat). In fact, when I first came out here I kept running into Arnold’s art. I told Jaime (Daez, owner of Fully Booked) “I really want to meet this guy. He’s really good.” And I kept failing to meet Arnold until we were in the toilet together.

There’s a story somewhere there for both you and Arnold. Did you also like Budjette Tan’s Trese?

I really liked it. What I’m really enjoying right now is that people from the Philippines send me and give me comics. This makes me happy. And I just love the fact that these are comics using Philippine culture and folklore. One of the things I really love about the contest is the feeling that I got to point out to people that this stuff is cool. Because when I first came out here, people were giving me books of local folklore and I was reading them. And I was loving them. People would then ask me, “What do you like?” and I would tell them “I liked the aswangs and the manananggals.” After that, they would ask me if I would put them in my stories. Then I started feeling as if I did (write about them) it would lend them some kind of legitimacy, but I would be like a cultural tourist. But what about you guys? This stuff is yours!

Everybody’s got their neighborhood manananggal.

This is incredibly fertile ground. Why aren’t you using it? And one of the things that I love in the (local) comics that I’ve seeing — and more and more in the stories — is the feeling that they are not only using the folklore but they are using the culture around. You’re getting really good, angry, smart, satirical science fiction, you’re getting heartbreaking little horror stories, you’re getting smart social commentary like the Cherry Clubbing story (by Kerry Yu, third place winner in the prose category of this year’s contest). I love it, because it’s talking essentially about sexual tourism of the worst kind and then taking it over into myth. And it’s a beautiful story of outrage and it’s all the voice that it’s told in. Filipina: The Super Maid (by Irene Carolina Sarmiento, second place winner in the prose category), great little story, so angry and so funny. The idea of pointing out that — for some of the world and here in the Philippines — people can be product and just how wrong that is. And what happens when the people that are product become people again.

After reading the works of all the winners in the contest and the current comic book professionals working for US comics — Leinil Francis Yu, Harvey Tolibao, Whilce Portacio — what do you see as the emerging voice of the Filipino in contributing to the global comic and prose community?

When I was here five years ago and I would talk to Filipinos — artists, writers, creators — it was as if I was talking to people who felt that they were at the bottom of a gravity hole. That, from a cultural standpoint, making it out of the gravity pit that was the Philippines and into the rest of the world was so impossible that it simply wouldn’t happen. But what I am seeing more now is that Filipino creators are out there and they are out there as themselves. You don’t get the feeling that people are pretending to be American or English. You now get the feeling that there are brilliant Filipino writers who are willing to write science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, real imaginative stuff and draw and create their own comics. And they are going to it as Filipinos going head-to-head with anybody else in the world.

Just what is in the water in the UK that makes you guys so damn brilliant? Do you have some muses chained up in your basements?

For me, the key to it is that whenever I get together with Alan or Grant, we never talk about comics. We talk about poetry or movies or plays or sociology or whatever’s caught our attention. With Alan, it’s snake gods and local history. I think we all came along from the same kind of “time zone” where a generation read American comic books and thought “These things are brilliant! Imagine what they could be.” And then went off to do another things and kept growing up.

Who's Kerry Yu? :D

But seriously, my thanks to Mr. Gaiman for his kind words for Cherry Clubbing, both in this interview and in this recording by The Bibliophile Stalker.

Click here to read the whole article by RJ Ledesma.

Friday, March 19, 2010

3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards Links

Still writing about my experiences at The 3rd Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards; I'll try and get it done soon, hopefully with pics (I asked some friends to share their photos with me, for sharing).

But there are others who work faster.

Rocket Kapre has this entry up, with videos.

And The Bibliophile Stalker has this entry up, with recorded sound files.

David Dizon Writes About Neil Gaiman's Latest Manila Visit

David Dizon of writes about Neil Gaiman's latest visit to Manila here. Check it out! An excerpt:

English scribe Neil Gaiman, author of genre favorites Stardust, American Gods, Neverwhere, Coraline and the Sandman series, said Filipino authors and artists are ready to make a name for themselves among the heavyweights of the fantasy genre all over the world.

Gaiman breezed into town earlier this week to talk to fans and hand out prizes for the 3rd Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards, which he has funded for the past 3 years.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, the author said he is proud of the annual contest, which he started with Jaime Daez of Fully Booked after his first visit to the Philippines 5 years ago. During that visit, he said he was surprised by the passion and level of excitement of Filipino fans who trooped to his book signing at the Rockwell Tent in Makati.

"It wasn't the first time that I was greeted with enthusiasm by fans but it was the first time that I saw that kind of commitment and that kind of volume. That began my enormously rewarding and enjoyable relationship with the Philippines. I was fascinated with the mythology and I wanted to give something back," he said.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Still Giddy...

...over this.

Will make a proper post, with pics, in the near future.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Summer Storytelling Workshops For Kids

From my email inbox:


Kids learn the basics of book development as they are taught the step-by-step process of creating their own book – from writing their own story, breaking down their narrative into scenes, to drawing their characters and events on each page. The workshop is facilitated by Jomike Tejido, author and illustrator of Ang Pambihirang Sombrero.

April 12-16, 2010

9:00 a.m. to 12:00 nn

Workshop fee is P3,500.00 inclusive of handouts, materials, and a certificate. A 25 percent discount will be given to those who pay in full or before March 22, 2010.

*for kids ages 7 to 12 years old


Fill your summer with adventure, laughter, and new learnings as we read stories and dabble in arts and crafts that will make Saturday a day to look forward to.

Join us every Saturday this April as we explore the world of books and imagination!

April 10, 17, and 24

9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.


but pre-enlistment is required.

*for kids ages 4 to 10 years old

To register, email; call Joy at 892-1801 local 27.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Business Writing Workshop

From my email inbox:

An Effective Business Writing Workshop With Focus On Grammar Improvement.
Get your message across in a clear and professional fashion by learning the techniques in crafting effective business correspondences. This regular workshop offered by the Filipinas Heritage Library has helped employees and professionals from different industries and fields significantly improve their writing styles and formats.

April 24, 2010, Saturday
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Workshop fee is P 2,500 inclusive of handouts, materials, snacks, and a certificate. A down payment of P1,000 is required to reserve a slot. The deadline for reservations is April 20, 2010. A 5 percent discount will be given to those who pay in full on or before April 16, 2009.

For more details please call 892-1801 loc. 27.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cutting It Close With Two Writers Workshops

As seen on Art-centric, details on The 49th Silliman National Writers Workshop and The 1st Thomasian Writers Workshop. A small catch, though, the former's deadline is on March 19, 2010, and the latter's is on March 15, 2010. :) Sorry for the late blog entry!

Singapore Airlines Launches 380-Word Story-Writing Contest

From The Philippine Star, Singapore Airlines Launches 380-Word Story-Writing Contest:

Would you like to win a roundtrip ticket on Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) A380? If you have an interesting story to share about the last time you flew in SIA’s A380, this is your chance.

Singapore Airlines, in cooperation with the Philippine STAR, present “SIA A380 & Me” writing contest open to anyone who has traveled on SIA’s flagship superjumbo aircraft — the A380.

In a story-writing competition from March 14 to May 30 dubbed “SIA A380 & Me,” customers are invited to write about their experience onboard the most luxurious flight on the planet.

The challenge? Describe your A380 experience in no more than 380 words.

How do you begin to share the finest mode of travel you will ever experience thousands of feet up in the clouds? Do you explain the luxurious touches that rival top hotel accommodations? Do you focus on the scrumptious meals prepared by the best chefs and served on artful dishes, finely-crafted silverware and the crispest of linens? Would you be able to convey how attentive and friendly the flight attendants wait on your every need?

The first prize winner gets a roundtrip economy class ticket to any of SIA’s seven A380 destination (Zurich, Paris, London, Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo or Hong Kong). The second prize winner gets a roundtrip economy class ticket to Sydney or Melbourne on the A380. And the third prize winner gets a roundtrip economy class ticket to Hongkong via Singapore on the A380. Eight consolation prize winners will receive other exciting prizes.

“Nothing compares to the luxury of traveling on Singapore Airlines’ A380. It is truly an experience to remember, and it is certainly a story worth sharing,” said SIA general manager Andrew Budiman. “Through ‘SIA A380 & Me’, we don’t only get to hear from our clients but we also get to share their stories with others who would like to know how it feels to be treated like royalty from the time you purchase your ticket till you step off the plane at your destination,” he added.

How to join:

1. To join, a participant must be a Philippine resident, must have taken a flight on the A380, indicate the date of their travel on the A380 and the destination.

2. All entries must be sent with the published contest coupon cut out from the Philippine STAR Lifestyle Section. These coupons will be printed thrice weekly until May 30.

3. Entries can either be mailed or dropped off in two areas: SIA Manila office 33rd floor LKG Tower Ayala Avenue Makati or the Philippine STAR, Classifinder, in Greenbelt 1, Makati.

4. The most unique and interesting experiences will be chosen by the panel of judges.

5. The winners will be notified by June 20, 2010.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The 3rd Rogelio Sicat Writing Workshop (2010) shares with us the details for The 3rd Rogelio Sicat Writing Workshop (2010). The deadline is on April 9, 2010. Click here for the details.

Writing Contests On has listed some of the different contests writers can join. Check them out, and good luck to those who are joining!

The 1st National Children's Book Awards

Friday, March 12, 2010

Books Overtake Games As Most Numerous iPhone Apps

From The Guardian, "Books Overtake Games As Most Numerous iPhone Apps". An excerpt:

The electronic book passed another milestone this month, with the number of books available on the iTunes App Store passing the number of games for the first time. According to data released earlier this month by the mobile phone advertising company Mobclix, there are more than 27,000 books now available as apps. Games lag behind, with 25,400 published this year, followed by entertainment, education and travel.

It's a trend that seems to be gathering momentum, with the number of book apps outnumbering games almost two to one over the past month. Next month's launch of the iPad, Apple's new tablet reader, alongside a dedicated book store, is set to accelerate the shift to electronic reading still further.

"The iPhone has always been perceived as a games-centric device, said Canongate's digital editor, Dan Franklin, "so the idea that books are outranking games is very exciting."

Franklin, who moved into digital publishing a year ago, said that his first thought on getting the job was, "When are Apple going to do something?" because "they have form". A move from Apple into the ebook market will "bring new people to reading like they have brought new people to music with the iTunes store", he added.

"It's a very exciting time," agreed Penguin's digital publisher, Jeremy Ettinghausen. "It's very exciting that people are using iPhones to read books."

"Initially books weren't seen as being top of the pile," Franklin explained, but with the launch of the iBookstore imminent, "Apple are now taking more notice of book submissions".

"With the iPad due next month, and Google looking like they're going to launch their Google Editions, this is the key year for electronic books," he said.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

VONA Writing Workshop

As seen on Rocket Kapre, via The Philippine American Writers And Artists, Inc., The Voices Of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA) at The University Of San Francisco is now accepting applications for its writing workshop.

The Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation at University of San Francisco invites applications from unpublished as well as published writers-of- color –anyone dreaming of writing as a serious pursuit. The Voices Writing Workshop is a special gathering of writers who spend 1-2 weeks working with authors and artists of color. This workshop honors the literary traditions of heritage and culture and promotes the styles, voices, forms and concerns of writers-of-color and their connections to the literary world. Held at The University of San Francisco, The Voices Workshop creates an intimate and interactive community with an atmosphere of sharing and engaging.

Click here for more information.

Tackling Foreign Cultures In Your Writing

An article, "Third World Worlds", has raised rants and indignation at some of the points made regarding writers tackling cultures foreign to them. The Bibliophile Stalker wrote about something similar last year, and follows it up with this new article in light of "Third World Worlds". An excerpt from his latest post:

Last year, I wrote an essay entitled The Dilemma of the Term “World SF” on my blog. Right now, a couple of people in the blogosphere feels indignant at Norman Spinrad’s latest column, “Third World Worlds”, and I bring up my previous essay because Spinrad’s editorial tackles some of the themes which I originally brought up. What gets lost in some of the rants is that Spinrad does bring up some important and valuable points. For example, he writes about American and British writers tackling foreign cultures in their fiction (and I’d like to add writers like Geoff Ryman and Paolo Bacigalupi to that list). In some cases, they work, while in others, they don’t. Whether it’s the former or the latter however, it begs the question: can writers like Mike Resnick and Paul McAuley and Ian McDonald be considered World SF writers?

There are several points in Spinrad’s essay that I find problematic but his column is an interesting exercise in discourse because, at the very least, he’s consistent. I don’t know Spinrad (whether personally or his work), but it seems to be that he’s operating from a cultural paradigm. Take for example this quotation of his that has drawn the ire of several people:

So, for now at least, and in the apparent absence of a significant body of science fiction written by born and bred Africans, this Caucasian American is probably the closest thing there is or has been to an African science fiction writer, with the exception of Octavia Butler. Who did write the same sort of thing, and did it well, and was Black to boot, but I use that politically incorrect word rather than “African American” because aside from her genetic heritage she was no more African than Mike Resnick.

People are interpreting this as Spinrad saying that Mike Resnick is African American due to his fiction (more so than Octavia Butler) but where I’m coming from, that’s not what he’s saying. It’s more of the reverse: Octavia Butler is American (and not African) because she grew up and was raised in America. There is some merit (but I’ll air the opposing paradigm later) to this line of argument. Take me for example: I’m genetically Chinese but was raised in Philippine culture. I consider myself more Filipino than Chinese. Or take South African writer Lauren Beukes (who is of French and Dutch descent). To quote her, in an interview I conducted last year:

In answer to your question, I think of myself as South African full stop. Those European ties are so old, so frayed, they’re not even a sepia photograph, they’re a faded oil painting dating back 350 years when my family first came to this country.

What Spinrad neglects, however, is the opposing paradigm, which shouldn’t easily be dismissed. It’s the classic argument of the expatriate: does Kaaron Warren stop being Australian just because she lived in Fiji for a time? Or our very own Lavie Tidhar, who has traveled all around the world (and is currently still seeking a home!), is less of an Israeli just because he doesn’t live in Israel? Or, following Spinrad’s line of thinking (growing up in the said country’s culture), doesn’t that qualify Tobias Buckell as a Carribean writer because he was born and raised in Grenada before moving to the US? And America has several writers who’ve traveled in their youth, whether it’s Jay Lake or Jeff VanderMeer.

Or let’s talk about me. Sure, I consider myself Filipino, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to contribute to the Chinese experience. My Filipino life is different from the Filipino life of an American-Filipino, a Korean-Filipino, a Spanish-Filipino, etc. in much the same way that my Chinese experience is different from that of a Chinese living in mainland China vs. one living in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. My Chinese heritage, from genetics to the rituals we practice, does have an impact on me and who I am, even if I consider myself Filipino.

The problem with picking just one paradigm is that it’s reductionist. Butler is an African American writer of science fiction because of several factors. Yes, genetics plays a part, but so did her upbringing, even if she was raised in America. Just as there is no Platonic Filipino, there similarly is no Platonic American. There is no single true American experience, any more than there is a single American accent. America is a plurality of cultures: I visited L.A. and San Francisco and the Filipino-American culture in each place is different. How much more when we compare the Filipino-American experience of California vs. New York? Or perhaps the Chinese-American culture vs. Latino-American culture in Texas? There’s room for overlap but each one is also distinct.

Click here to read the whole piece.

2010 International Writing Program (IWP) Residency Now Open For Nominations

From the Ateneo de Manila University website: The 2010 International Writing Program (IWP) Residency Now Open For Nominations:

The 2010 International Writing Program (IWP) Residency is now open for nominations. The objective of this program is to bring together a wide range of international and U.S. writers to examine current trends in literature including fiction, drama, poetry, and screenwriting and to explore the creative process involved in writing. Participants will spend 10 weeks in residence at the University of Iowa presenting their work to local audiences, participating in university level workshops and working with translators. The program also includes field trips to attend literary events in order to meet and possibly collaborate with local writers and artists from other fields. Expenses of selected applicants will be covered by the embassy of the United States.Poets, fiction writers, dramatists, and screenwriters are eligible to apply. Literary translators and writers whose publications and careers focus on creative non-fiction (feature journalism, cultural commentary, biography, and memoirs) are also eligible for this program. Candidates should have at least one published volume of work or works that have appeared in significant publications over a period of at least two years. All nominees must be fluent in English, comfortable with cross-cultural dynamics, and interested in close interaction with other artists from a multiplicity of diverse cultures.

Deadline of application is on April 30, 2010.

For more information on this and other scholarships and grant opportunities abroad, kindly contact the Office of International Programs at 426-6001 local 4037/ 4038 or visit:

If I'm not mistaken, Sarge Lacuesta, The Philippines Free Press Literary Editor, attended this some years back.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Digital Advertising Will Overtake Print This Year

Still more signs of the times? After all my blog entries about e-readers, the readers' shift from print to digital, and how many magazines and newspapers are shutting down, I suppose this was inevitable: US Advertisers To Spend More On Digital Than Print. An excerpt:

US companies will spend more this year on digital and online advertising and marketing than on print for the first time ever, according to a study released on Monday.

Companies will spend 119.6 billion dollars on online and digital strategies and 111.5 billion dollars on newspaper and magazine advertisements and other print campaigns, according to the study by California-based Outsell.

Outsell, which provides research and advisory services to the publishing and information industries, described the spending shift as "an industry milestone crossover event."

It said overall US spending on advertising and marketing will increase by 1.2 percent in 2010 to 368 billion dollars.

Outsell said 63 billion dollars, or 52.8 percent of total online advertising spending by companies, would be on their own websites, which it said constitutes a "powerful form of direct to customer marketing."

"Advertisers are directing dollars toward the channels which generate the most qualified leads and most effective branding," Outsell vice president and lead analyst Chuck Richard said.

"As they emerge from the recession, they need more accountability, and they're spreading their spending over a widening set of options," he said.

By category, Outsell said spending on print newspaper advertising was expected to drop 8.2 percent to 27 billion dollars while print magazine advertising will rise 1.9 percent this year to 9.4 billion dollars.

US newspapers and magazines have been facing declining print advertising revenue, falling circulation and the migration of readers to free news online.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Two Book Sales

As seen on Rocket Kapre, Adarna House will have a sale from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on March 20, 2010. Why only for an hour? Click here to find out.

And via UP Press, they will be on sale from March 8-26, 2010.

Rocket Kapre Round Table Discussion: Fiction Without The Speculation

Rocket Kapre asks some Pinoy writers about their writing processes, and if they differ in approach when writing realist as against speculative fiction. An excerpt:

It’s officially Palanca Awards season again, writers from all genres and walks of life are gearing up for two months of feverish writing (or hand-wringing). While works of speculative fiction can and have won the Palanca, it’s hard to shake the impression that the prestigious body (and ever changing panel of judges) is more receptive to stories of love lost and regained, when the method of “regaining” that love doesn’t involve the dark art of necromancy. Thinking about a submission for the Palanca Awards is about the only time I even consider writing a story without speculative elements, and it’s always been difficult for me to shift gears. With the 2010 awards opening for submissions this month, I became curious as to how other speculative fiction writers go about writing non-specfic pieces–which meant I finally had an excuse to start the second Rocket Round Table:

How different is your experience writing a story without speculative fiction elements, as opposed to writing Spec Fic?

Yeah, I know, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? On to the answers then, and many thanks to the authors who found the time to sate my curiosity.

Young Adult Lit Comes Of Age

From The Los Angeles Times, Young Adult Lit Comes Of Age. An excerpt:

It used to be that the only adults who read young adult literature were those who had a vested interest -- teachers or librarians or parents who either needed or wanted to keep an eye on developing readers' tastes.

But increasingly, adults are reading YA books with no ulterior motives. Attracted by well-written, fast-paced and engaging stories that span the gamut of genres and subjects, such readers have mainstreamed a niche long derided as just for kids.

"Even as the recession has dipped publishing in general, young adult has held strong," said David Levithan, editorial director and vice president of Scholastic, publisher of "The Hunger Games," as well as of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, the series largely credited with jump-starting this juggernaut of a trend.

Levithan added that passing "the mother test" is an indication that a title could go wide. "If a lot of us on staff are sending a book to our mothers because it's really engaging literature, that's a good sign."

"One strong writer leads to exploring that area more, so you've got several now who are leading people into all kinds of directions," Vreeland noted. "You can go the whole gamut: sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, romance, realistic fiction, humor. There's a lot of good stuff going on."

"I think part of the reason we're seeing adults reading YA is that often there's no bones made about the fact that a YA book is explicitly intended to entertain," said Lizzie Skurnick, 36, author of "Shelf Discovery," a collection of essays about young adult literature from the 1960s and 1970s.

"YA authors are able to take themselves less seriously. They're able to have a little more fun, and they're less confined by this idea of themselves as Very Important Artists. That paradoxically leads them to create far better work than people who are trying to win awards."

According to Skurnick, who also reviews adult fiction for publications including The Times, YA books are "more vibrant" than many adult titles, "with better plots, better characterizations, a more complete creation of a world."

I dunno. I've been reading young adult books since, well, I was a young adult. ;-)

The 10 Deadliest Conversation Sins

Not related to reading, The 10 Deadliest Conversation Sins, but I laughed out loud at the last one:

10. "I Only Read Us Weekly, OR Russian Literature"

Monday, March 08, 2010

Nikki Alfar's "Adrift On The Street Formerly Known As Buendia"

Nikki Alfar had a story come out last week, and this week has another one, on Bewildering Stories, "Adrift On The Street Formerly Known As Buendia". Congratulations again, Nikki!

Man "Asian" Literary Prize: Restructured

As seen via Exie Abola's Twitter: Man "Asian" Literary Prize: Restructured. An excerpt:

Nury Vittachi (who has his own history with this prize) writes: Heard the one about vanishing literary prize? It's a mystery -- as, apparently, for a while there it looked like the Man 'Asian' Literary Prize had been wiped from the map (and Internet).
It turns out that it hasn't gone (or been taken) away. Indeed, now it's back -- bigger and badder than ever.
The Man 'Asian' Literary Prize, you'll recall, was, for the past few years, a prize for an: "Asian novel unpublished in English" (whereby their definition of 'Asian' was so arbitrary that the use of it in the prize-name was inappropriate and outright misleading (and which is also the reason why I only refer to it as the "Man 'Asian' Literary Prize" -- and will continue to do so until fiction originally written in Arabic (by Asian authors), Persian, Turkish, the languages of the Central Asian stans, etc. etc. is also prize-eligible (as it has not been to date)).
Now, however, they've 'restructured' the prize. Boy, have they restructured it .....
Their preliminary announcement doesn't provide much information (including whether or not it will finally be a truly Asian prize, or remain an 'Asian' one ...), but does indicate some of the major changes.
The most significant of these is that the prize that used to be for an "Asian novel unpublished in English" will now be awarded: "for a novel written by a citizen of an Asian country and first published in English in 2010". I.e. they've practically turned the whole thing on its head: where the ostensible purpose of the prize was always to introduce new 'Asian' writers to English-reading audiences, now they're only interested in the stuff that's already been taken on by English-language publishers. Don't expect too many shortlisted works from Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, etc. etc. from now on. On the other hand: expect a surge of titles translated from the regional Indian languages, since many of these do get translated into English -- albeit generally only in India-only editions. And expect a surge of even more titles originally written in English -- more likely to have already been published in the author's home country, if that country is India, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.
The M'A'LP-folk also try to make this prize more eye-catching (i.e. media-attention-grabbing) the only way they know how: by increasing the money on offer, trebling the award from US$10,000 to US$30,000. But, to prove how little translation matters (and is wanted: it's clear they prefer the books to be written in English) they didn't even double the money a translator would get if the winning title is a translation: it was US$3,000 and is now US$5,000. (Edith Grossman had it right, about translators getting no respect .....)
Finally -- and this is the change that I find most irritating -- whereas in previous years works had to be "submitted by the author or the current holder of the rights to the English language version" they have now taken the UK Man Booker-approach, with submissions only permitted by publishers -- and, just like the UK Man Booker: "Each publisher may enter up to two eligible books", and no more.

Click here to read the whole piece.