Friday, April 30, 2010

SCAPE: An e-zine of YA Speculative Fiction

As seen on Wandering Star, SCAPE: An e-zine of YA Speculative Fiction, which is now open to submissions and will go live in 2011. An excerpt:

Scape e-zine will launch in January 2011 as an online publication of short speculative fiction with a young adult (YA) focus.

Each issue will feature new short fiction, poetry, art, reviews, interviews & more!

We are now open for submissions. Please read the guidelines carefully before sending us your work.

Until we're live, why not click here to visit our blog?

Fiction Magazines Worth Reading: 2010

From Wet Asphalt, Fiction Magazines Worth Reading: 2010. An excerpt:

It's been just over a year since I posted about the fiction magazines I felt were still worth reading, and already two magazines I liked (Farrogo's Wainscot and the not-mentioned-but-should-have-been Lone Star Stories) have gone out of business. Since then, I've also read a lot more widely, discovering new venues. Given that these things may continue to happen, it seemed appropriate enough to turn the list into a yearly outing. There's a glut of completely unreadable fiction magazines out there (with the "literary" magazines tending toward tepid boredom and the genre magazines tending toward uninspired hack-work), and the world sorely needs someone to sort through them and pick out the ones that are actually worth paying attention to.

Also, if your looking for places to place your own fiction and poetry, there's no better resource than Duotrope Digest, which has a great search feature as well as submission tracking, favorites and other features.

Note: If you publish a fiction magazine that you would like considered for this list please email If your magazine is not available for free online, please include an electronic review copy.

The marker "2" indicates this is the second year the magazine has made the list.

The marker "*" indicates this magazine is most highly recommended.

Top Ten Greatest Science Fiction Detective Novels Of All Time

Here's a list from io9 of their 10 Greatest Science Fiction Detective Novels Of All Time. An excerpt:

China Miéville's detective story The City And The City is well on its way to being the award-winningest novel of the year. But it's not the only great novel about science fiction/fantasy sleuths. Here are 10 other SF detective classics.

Speculative fiction and detective fiction have a lot in common — they're both about digging down to the truth of matters. Fictional scientists and explorers, like detectives, follow clues and act on hunches. The truth is enshrouded in an ocean of red herrings and false trails. Plus, a lot of great science fiction authors, like Ray Bradbury and Robert Silverberg, also wrote detective novels, for money or as a change of pace.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

TAYO Literary Magazine

Check out a new market, TAYO Literary Magazine, which has the tagline "For our culture, by our culture". They say that "All are welcomed to submit, regardless of ethnicity and age. We accept creative works ranging from: Short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, photography, paintings, drawings and digital artwork." Click here for the full guidelines.

Saving Books From The Fire

Whenever I see photos or footage of book burnings, I feel terrible. It feels like heartache for some reason.

I know I'm not alone. A woman in Iraq feels the same way, and because of her circumstances, she did something about it. She went and saved many books from their National Library before their country was invaded. An excerpt:

These books are fugitives, and Ms. Baker, a 50-year-old librarian in stout shoes, is the engineer of their underground railroad. As the British forces stormed Basra in early April, she spirited the volumes out of the city's Central Library, over a seven-foot wall, to the back room of a restaurant and then later into trucks to carry them to her home. Even friends and library employees have been enlisted as caretakers for troves of the books.

The books constitute about 70 percent — all there was time to save — of what was the library's collection. Nine days later, the library building was burned in a mysterious fire.

The books' survival is all the more remarkable because, in Baghdad, looters left both the National Library and a government building containing thousands of illuminated Korans in smoldering ruins. Even some manuscripts taken from the Basra library to be studied in Baghdad were destroyed.

Despite what was saved, Ms. Baker, Basra's chief librarian for 14 years, mourns what was left behind.

"It was like a battle when the books got burned," she said. "I imagined that those books, those history and culture and philosophy books, were crying, `Why, why, why?' "

Before the war began, Ms. Baker requested permission from Basra's governor to move the books to safety, but he refused without explanation.

Ms. Baker, however, is not easily deterred. Although the library did not allow lending, over the years she often slipped books into the hands of readers and sent them home.

"In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was `Read,' " she said.

How The Paperback Novel Changed Popular Literature

From The How The Paperback Novel Changed Popular Literature. An excerpt:

The story about the first Penguin paperbacks may be apocryphal, but it is a good one. In 1935, Allen Lane, chairman of the eminent British publishing house Bodley Head, spent a weekend in the country with Agatha Christie. Bodley Head, like many other publishers, was faring poorly during the Depression, and Lane was worrying about how to keep the business afloat. While he was in Exeter station waiting for his train back to London, he browsed shops looking for something good to read. He struck out. All he could find were trendy magazines and junky pulp fiction. And then he had a “Eureka!” moment: What if quality books were available at places like train stations and sold for reasonable prices—the price of a pack of cigarettes, say?

Lane went back to Bodley Head and proposed a new imprint to do just that. Bodley Head did not want to finance his endeavor, so Lane used his own capital. He called his new house Penguin, apparently upon the suggestion of a secretary, and sent a young colleague to the zoo to sketch the bird. He then acquired the rights to ten reprints of serious literary titles and went knocking on non-bookstore doors. When Woolworth’s placed an order for 63,500 copies, Lane realized he had a viable financial model.

Lane’s paperbacks were cheap. They cost two and a half pence, the same as ten cigarettes, the publisher touted. Volume was key to profitability; Penguin had to sell 17,000 copies of each book to break even.

The first ten Penguin titles, including The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway and The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers, were wildly successful, and after just one year in existence, Penguin had sold over three million copies.

No Country For Strangers

Ephemere gives a solid answer from her point-of-view as someone from this country to The Bibliophile Stalker's post (with references to the subsequent open letter to him, and his response to that open letter). An excerpt from No Country For Strangers:

I will not say: no foreigners allowed. That is a rather horrible thing to say considering an overwhelming tendency here to welcome foreigners with open arms and bend over backwards for them, at the cost of discriminating against our fellow Filipinos. It is a statement that assumes we have the power to say such a thing and enforce such a rule when we, well, don't. "No foreigners allowed" is a fantasy -- a short-sighted, narrow-minded, twisted fantasy, but a fantasy nonetheless.

Instead I will say: this is no country for strangers. This is not a people that can be known by observation alone, without the risk of actual engagement. This is no land where you can set yourself apart and then delude yourself with claims that comprehension naturally comes with high-minded goals and noble intentions to enlighten a system whose only fundamental flaw is ignorance of your ways. This is not a place that needs more foreigners coming in to visit, then taking away with them their misconceptions and their privileged judgments -- because we have been misrepresented enough, not just in the international community but also amongst ourselves, and false categorizations and claims about who we are and where we came from and where we should go are unneeded and shouldn't be welcomed.

This is a place where one must know rage to know sight. I wrote, somewhat recently: "[S]ometimes rage is useful. Sometimes anger is necessary. Sometimes you need a great and brutal force to drive ugly and hidden secrets into the light; sometimes self-satisfaction and complacency cannot be worn down gradually, but must be wrenched apart. Sometimes fear is the only edge that will compel you to walk a difficult and unfamiliar path. Sometimes you can't just politely ask rotting structures to make way for the construction of new ones. You have to knock them down. Burn them to the ground." I believe this is as true of the writing of fiction as it is of development policy, or economic research, or the study of Philippine institutions.

So (and I address this now to the theoretical audience of those on the other, privileged end of the inequality) if you, as a white person, are afraid of writing about us: then be afraid.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The POC Review: A Call For Submissions

Saw this via Exie Abola's short Twitter message, a call for submissions to The POC Review. An excerpt:

The POC Review, a new online magazine of Philippine literature, is now accepting submissions. We will publish short fiction, creative nonfiction, and criticism in English.

Submissions must be previously unpublished, in print or online. Works submitted simultaneously to other publications will be considered, but let us know that you have submitted your work elsewhere, and inform us promptly if your work is accepted for publication. By submitting, you guarantee that your work is entirely your own original creation.

Click here for more details.

Friday, April 23, 2010

On The Bibliophile Stalker

Without making any comments on The Bibliophile Stalker's post, the open letter to him, and his response to that open letter (because I've already emailed him my opinions on the matter, and that's a private exchange between him and I), I would like to remind folks of the work he has done over such a long span of time via his blog and those other sites he contributes to, and how he has worked so hard to share his thoughts and ideas on publishing (print as well as digital), and how he has promoted not just speculative fiction in general, not just reading, and writing, but speculative fiction by all writers, no matter their backgrounds. He has been a champion for fiction and openness in the same for such a long time, that I believe we mustn't lose sight of what he has done over the years to help and promote speculative fiction from around the world. All that he has done over this span of time counts for something quite substantial, in my book.

iPad has 'changed' 99-year-old woman's life

From Cnet: iPad has 'changed' 99-year-old woman's life. An excerpt:

According to Adelsheim, her mother is now reading books on the iPad, thanks to its ability to increase the size of text to a readable level. Campbell has also increased the brightness on the display to further enhance her reading experience. And although she has never owned a computer, she is now writing poetry on the tablet.

Perhaps fittingly, Campbell decided to write the following limerick tribute to Apple's iPad:

"To this technology-ninny it's clear
In my compromised 100th year,
That to read and to write
Are again within sight
Of this Apple iPad pioneer.

I like that the iPad has helped someone get back to reading.

An Email Exchange Which, Hopefully, May Teach Something

I had an exchange of emails with PGS contributor Dean Alfar about types of stories and the readers who read them, as well as approaches to storytelling, and other things.

I have a feeling that the email exchange may help others also, readers as well as writers, so I asked Dean Alfar if I could share this on my blog, in the hopes that someone out there may learn something from our exchange, whether how to do it, or how not to :D. I'm grateful that he said yes.

Please just note that the email exchange reflects only the viewpoints of two people; there are sure to be more ways to do it, more ways to "skin a cat", more ways to "tell a story". In fact, I'd appreciate it if others would share their thoughts in the comments section, in the hopes that even more could also learn.

Even if you're all reading this exchange in media res, I'm sure you'll all be able to tell where we're coming from through context.

Dean's parts are in blue; mine, in red, copied-and-pasted from the email body.

I hope this'll be worth the read for you.

Could this be a matter of taste? I mean, your taste versus others'? Certainly taste/preference plays a huge role in reading. Some people like a certain kind of story; others don't. What you characterize as 'bland' (the adjective I agreed to), for me, is safe, easy, not a challenge. If the goal was to simply 'tell a story', then you and I and many other writers can do this easily, in the same way any one can with the basic understanding of cooking can cook an egg. But to push the analogy further, there are actually many techniques for cooking eggs beyond simply frying them. If the goal is to produce a simple fried egg, you got it made already. But how about an omelette? a soft-boiled egg? My sister, a chef who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in London, tells me that she knows over 100 French techniques for cooking an egg - techniques, not recipes (such as putting a raw egg in a bowl and then putting that bowl in another bowl full of boiling water - without the water touching the egg).

This egg analogy has helped make things a lot clearer! Makes it clearer than just saying "there's more than one way to skin a cat" or "there's more than one way to tell a story".
As writers, we seek to go beyond simply telling a story the basic way - beginning, middle, end. We study literary techniques, styles, narrative tones, etc so we can tell stories in different ways - and tell different stories. There is nothing wrong in light stories (stories that have a light subject matter, that are uplifting, that are popular, that are safe). In fact, from a mass perspective, these types of stories are what the audience wants (as aside: consider the local film industry in terms of commercial films and more challenging films, indies included. On one hand, there are those who just want to produce what will be popular in terms of ticket sales so they make money by appeasing the masses. On the other hand, there are filmmakers who consciously attempt to tell different stories in different ways, often commercial failures, but sometimes commercial successes). But if we, as writers, do not attempt to grow in our craft and experiment or challenge ourselves, we'll end up with 'bland' stories, mostly of the same type, told in the same old ways. There would be no Gabriel Garcia Marquezes, Salman Rushies, Neil Gaimans or Kelly Links (each of whom, by way, also enjoy commerical success). We would not be looking for work by Borges or Salinger or Stross. My first point here is that we've got to grow, and that often means pushing ourselves to write beyond our comfort zones, or what is easy, or what is
While I agree to the truth that taste matters, I don't particularly subscribe to writing for the taste of the greatest number of people. In my case, I want to tell the types of stories I want to tell in the manner in which I want to tell them. If people don't like one, too bad for me - the comfort I take in that scenario is always twofold: 1) others will like it (and in a small way, vindicate my effort, through a letter of comment, word of mouth or review); and 2) that is just ONE story and I have others to tell, again, in different ways.

Part of my 'writerly' poetics is happily donning the mantle of a lifelong student of writing, always looking for ways to improve my craft. I'm only as good as my last published story, and I'm rarely truly happy or gung-ho about anything I've written. I delight in my creative tension, always questioning myself in terms of "does this work?" and "is it good enough to be published?". I advocate growth, even through failures or growing pains as I learn. The times I fuck up are as important to me as when I win an award or get international commendations or simply get published - because I have a terrible need to learn from experimentation. The act of trying is part of my psychological makeup - which is why I tend to push friends to write more, to be better, to compete for awards (in my personal case, to see if I am still relevant, if the type of writing I do can stand toe-to-toe with the usual realist winners, to see if I've still "got it").

I guess this is the difficulty I face since my comfort zone is to be a hermit and write for myself; even if the stuff I put out is not published, I'm okay with that. I have to learn about "audience", at least a bit more. But I'm not sure I can give up fully my preference for being "alone". I have to find a way to work through this, somehow.

In your case, I definitely prefer your later work as well as what you characterize as your darker writing - not necessarily because of subject matter, but because your techniques, your voice, is powerful. Cherry Clubbing POV and craftsmanship are great. The sensibilities and terseness of The Sparrows of Climaco Avenue are terrific (this may be my favorite story of yours, Kyu - it is elegant, sophisticated, finely observed and jewel-like in its tightness - napakalinis. I'd give Climaco an award if I were judge and it were an entry. It is thought-provoking, like your story with twacking in the garden. I lump in your "evolved" stories "Beats" because of the fine writing in some portions and the overall sensibility/feel of it - also quite sophisticated.
Don't get me wrong with what I have to say next, okay? If the positive feedback of readers is important to you, if you wish to please those readers, you are of course free to cater to them with your other types of stories. But take it from me - also a reader, and also a writer - your later stories are better. Find a way to balance your need to please with the need to grow - otherwise, you won't. You'll feel duty-bound to your bland audience who will want the same old thing.

No, don't worry, I'm not taking it wrong. It's not positive feedback I'm after, not even feedback per se. I'm secure enough in myself that I don't need or look for it, positive or negative (but I appreciate it when it comes, especially if I can learn from it). I understand that there are many who read and don't bother responding. It is simply my observations that the "bland" ones (I wish I could come up with a better adjective than that; it's not entirely appropriate) garner more responses than those that are not. Which is why I asked you about reader psychology/behavior, if that plays a part, and you answered me there very well when you mentioned "mass perspective" and "what the audience wants". I'm grateful for this, as it's helped in my education of "audience".

Most people like it easy. But I personally find that kind of writing boring. I have a finite time of life, and a slice of my lifespan I've chosen to devote to writing. I'd rather maximize my time and produce something I'm happy with, rather than concern myself with what will make the greatest number of people happy - because I am sure I have an audience, a small one, a minute one, perhaps even just one or two. That audience is willing to give my writing a chance, will read my strange stories, and hopefully, will want to write their own stories in their own way.

I'm still going to do my "light" stories, I suppose, every now and then, if ever the mood strikes again. They're for myself, I suppose, in that I want to affirm that there is something "good" in the world that I observe. And maybe it serves as a balance also to the "evil" that I also observe, and which comes out in my more sinister stuff, hehe, maybe it's a reflection in stories that the good is more boring than the bad, eh? Who was it who said "evil is just more fun"? Or, if I can use superheroes as an analogy, someone did say once that Batman, Superman, and Spiderman are interesting, but it's their roster of villains who are even more interesting.

Make peace with your creative tension, the push and pull between safe and not-safe. All this is just one stop in your 'writerly' journey - who knows what you'll be writing next year? Or the decades after? Write what moves you, and if written well, it will move someone, and perhaps more someones. But do not choose NOT to grow.

Yes, thank you. I do have to find a way to work through this, as well as to find a balance between my penchant to just be by myself, alone, and to get used to going out every now and then so I don't end up getting "cave-sickness". I have a bit of the hermit qualities of Salinger in me (hermit-qualities lang, ha? Not the talent), but not as much as he has. I'm grateful for what you've shared, seeing as you're further down the public road as a writer than I am. The problem with hiding as I've done is that you become insular, sort of like China when they locked themselves away from the world, or Russia when the iron curtain was still up. You still progress, you still learn, but you do so in a self-made vacuum; and really, opening up even a bit can do wonders in making me learn from others. Thanks for taking the time to share. I truly appreciate it.

Writing Workshops For May And June

From my email inbox:

YA Write!
May 25, 26, 27, and 28, 2010
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

This summer, the library offers a series of lecture-workshops for young adults who have a knack for writing stories or novels. This comprehensive course offers guidelines and effective exercises on creative writing, pushing the talents of our teens to their full potential.

The workshop fee is P 4,500.00 inclusive of handouts, materials, snacks, and a certificate. Deadline of reservation is May 18, 2010. A 5 percent discount will be given to those who will pay in full or before May 14, 2010.

For more details, please contact the Filipinas Heritage Library at 892-1801 or 0917-5612413 (Joy de Asis) email You may also visit for our other news and announcements.

The Filipinas Heritage Library is located at Makati Avenue, Ayala Triangle, Makati City (across The Peninsula Hotel).

Creative Writing for Beginners
June 30, July 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2010
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Learn the basic skills and techniques in writing creatively with this writing course for beginners. This workshop will guide participants in tapping their intuition as well as their senses for inspiration, and developing the skills and techniques in creative writing.

The workshop fee is P 5,500.00 inclusive of handouts, materials, snacks, and a certificate. Deadline of reservation is June 2, 2010. A 5 percent discount will be given to those who will pay in full or before May 28, 2010.

For more details, please contact the Filipinas Heritage Library at 892-1801 or 0917-5612413 (Joy de Asis) email You may also visit for our other news and announcements.

The Filipinas Heritage Library is located at Makati Avenue, Ayala Triangle, Makati City (across The Peninsula Hotel).

Conversations With A Sorcerer

As seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles, "Conversations With A Sorcerer". An excerpt:

Witchcraft and sorcery are alive and well here in the island of Siquijor, Philippines. This mystical island is considered the navel of sorcery and magic in the Philippines, and there are indeed people who practice sorcery and witchcraft here. In this place, I found that it was never a question of whether these sorcerers exist or not, but rather if their powers are truly effective or not.

In particular, I was constantly hearing about this powerful sorcerer who lives in one of the remote villages of Siquijor, whose name is invariably mentioned by residents whenever sorcery is being discussed -- Mr. Alberto ‘Manong Edol’ Baroro.

I decided to meet Manong Edol and perhaps interview him and photograph his work, if he permits it. Incidentally, my habal-habal driver Johnson frequently transported clients to Manong Edol’s house. When I told Johnson my intention to meet Manong Edol, he arranged a late afternoon meeting between me and the Siquijor sorcerer.

Click here to read the rest of the piece.

PGS Contributor In The Philippines Free Press

Congratulations to PGS contributor Chiles Samaniego, whose story, "Stranger On A Train", is in the current issue of The Philippines Free Press!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Online Literary Journals: The Cutting Edge Of Traditional Publishing

From Writer's Relief, Inc., this article on literary journals turning to the web, Online Literary Journals: The Cutting Edge Of Traditional Publishing. An excerpt:

With the advent of online literary journals, writers seeking reputable and well-known venues to publish their work are no longer confined to print. Online literary magazines are beginning to coexist with (and often take the place of) print magazines, and the result is good news for writers of short stories, essays, and poems.

The Historical Stigma Against Online Publications

In the early days of the Internet, online publications of short prose and poetry were considered lesser publications than print journals. However, now that the Internet has come of age, publishing your writing in reputable online venues no longer carries a negative stigma. Many publishing industry experts believe that traditional literary magazines will convert increasingly to online-only models.

So get ready, writers! It’s time to start being proud of your online publications and listing them in your cover and query letters alongside your print publications.

Why Many Literary Magazines Have Already Gone Online

If you’re regularly submitting your writing to literary magazines, you know this much is true: There isn’t a lot of money to be made in short stories and poetry, because literary magazines often operate on a very limited budget.

The recent recession has only made the situation more difficult; many, many literary magazines have closed their doors over the last 18 months. At Writer’s Relief we are also tracking an alarming number of literary magazines that are “on hiatus” or “indefinitely closed for submissions.”

Print magazines that were under financial duress during the economic downturn had a choice: adapt or fail. To cut costs, editors who chose to persevere turned to the final frontier in publishing: the Internet. Without the high costs of printing, binding, and mailing, literary magazines can operate on a smaller budget.

For that reason, there are more reputable literary magazines online now than have ever been online before. And, of course, there are fewer print journals than there were 18 months ago.

Writers who have been trained over the years to respect only print publications may find it difficult to believe that online publications and print publications are at equal value. Some writers may prefer to hold a physical publication in their hands. However, just as literary magazines have had to adapt, writers (and companies that assist writers with the submission process) will need to adapt as well. The practical benefits of publishing online may outweigh any lingering emotional reservations.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How To Write In 700 Easy Lessons

Another article Exie Abola pointed me to: How To Write In 700 Easy Lessons. An excerpt:

The trouble of course is that a good book is not something you can put together like a model airplane. It does not lend itself to that kind of instruction. Every day books are published that contain no real artfulness in the lines, books made up of clichés and limp prose, stupid stories offering nothing but high concept and plot—or supra-literary books that shut out even a serious reader in the name of assertions about the right of an author to be dull for a good cause. (No matter how serious a book is, if it is not entertaining, it is a failure.) I’m not talking about the books we write or publish in the attempt to answer the need for entertainment at whatever level one chooses. And I have no quarrel with the genres, because to help people escape from life is harmless, and honorable enough, and in its way just as valuable as helping them escape into it. (Though I am a bit weary of the stream of stories from undergraduate students about the undead that I’m lately getting. I sometimes think all the zombie stories were written by one stupendously energetic fellow with a serious skin problem and not the slightest lick of talent—they are all so much alike, and so cloyingly adolescent.)

My quarrel is with the implication in the how-to books market that one can merely read them to find the magic secret for writing well enough to publish. Recently, at a college where I was lecturing, a student told me, with great pride, that he had “over a hundred books” in his library—I could see that I was meant to be impressed by the number, and that he considered himself a vastly well-read type of guy. He went on to say that many in his collection are how-to books. This person wants to be a writer, but he doesn’t want to do the work. Being a writer is a stance he wants to take. He did not come to writing from reading books, good or bad. He came to it from deciding it might be cool to walk around in that role. I meet this kind of “writer” far too often now in my travels around the country—even, occasionally, in the writing programs.

I can hear the argument coming back: “Yeah, well, what about the writing programs? Don’t they promise the same thing? Don’t they encourage the same kind of thinking?” And the answer to that is quite simple: no, they do not. All of the writing programs, and most of the writers’ conferences—I have taught at Bread Loaf and Sewanee, and elsewhere—read manuscripts in advance before accepting students. A person has to demonstrate talent to be accepted into a program of study. And while at times one wonders how this or that student got by the screening, in all instances the emphasis is on reading, and the workshops are not about writing as something like steam-fitting or the construction of an engine, but about the matters of craft that can be discussed as they come up, story by story.

Writing is not taught in these places; it is encouraged, given room to take place, and students in them always end up being better readers, whether they go on to produce books or not.

With a frequency that is dismaying, I run into people who are widely versed in the manuals, and quasi-literate in all other ways. They have no sense of the love of the art they wish to practice, because they have very seldom or never been in the thrall of a work of fiction as practiced by the great artists in their own literary heritage, or even the good craftsmen in the genres. They may have had some exposure to the great writers, or some anthology-exposure to a fraction of someone, little pieces of the treasure that is there. Or their reading is so deficient that in fact the only books they’ve read that might be called fiction are the few best sellers that achieve some literary merit or cachet. Which is to say that these people, many of them college students, want to be considered serious writers; they seek literary excellence; but they have come to believe that they can accomplish this by means of the convenient shortcut. And the industry that produces the how-to manuals plays to them, makes money from their hope of finding a way to be a writer, rather than doing the work, rather than actually spending the time to absorb what is there in the vast riches of the world’s literature, and then crafting one’s own voice out of the myriad of voices.

My advice? Put the manuals and the how-to books away. Read the writers themselves, whose work and example are all you really need if you want to write. And wanting to write is so much more than a pose. To my mind, nothing is as important as good writing, because in literature, the walls between people and cultures are broken down, and the things that plague us most—suspicion and fear of the other, and the tendency to see whole groups of people as objects, as monoliths of one cultural stereotype or another—are defeated.

This work is not done as a job, ladies and gentlemen, it is done out of love for the art and the artists who brought it forth, and who still bring it forth to us, down the years and across ignorance and chaos and borderlines. Riches. Nothing to be skipped over in the name of some misguided intellectual social-climbing. Well, let me paraphrase William Carlos Williams, American poet: literature has no practical function, but every day people die for lack of what is found there.

Fantasy Fiction: The Battle For Meaning Continues

My thanks to Exie Abola for pointing me to this article: Fantasy Fiction: The Battle For Meaning Continues. An excerpt:

But the commodification of fantasy does not mean it must all appeal to the lowest common denominator, any more than the presence of Starbucks on every street corner means you can't find a decent cup elsewhere. As the recent announcement of the David Gemmell Legend award, and the less-than-positive response it engendered shows, contemporary fantasy is seeking to do more than just entertain the masses. While the Gemmell award highlights fantasy novels at their most commercial and generic, and has been accused of doing little more than rewarding publishers for their marketing strategy, contemporary fantasy is becoming more experimental, diverse and exciting.

With the growing profile of distinctive writers such as Neil Gaiman and China Miéville, and the "smuggling" of fantasy into literary fiction by (among others) Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell, the fantastic is making a comeback in mainstream literature. Acclaimed cult writers such as Graham Joyce, Jeffrey Ford, Margo Lanagan, Martin Millar, Kelly Link, Jeff VanderMeer and many others are taking fantasy in more personalised and distinctive directions. And at the grassroots, short fiction magazines like Weird Tales, Electric Velocipede, Clarkesworld and Fantasy are giving a platform to an emerging generation of writers who are serious about fantasy.

We still love a well-told tale, and our need for the fantastic is not so different from that of our tribal ancestors. We may live longer and in more comfort, we may believe we understand our world better, but at heart, we're still trying to find meaning in a complex and mysterious universe. JRR Tolkien referred to fantasy writing as mythopoeia, the creation of myth for the modern era. The best of it achieves exactly that, and deserves to be rewarded whether it be a multimillion-selling novel or a short story published in a fanzine. But as fantasy becomes more heavily commodified, it is more important still that we keep sight of what the genre can achieve beyond mass entertainment.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Call For Submissions: Alternative Alamat

From Rocket Kapre, a call for submissions for Alternative Alamat. An excerpt:

The Philippines is blessed with a multitude of mythologies and legends, yet too few of these tales are known and read today. While it is understandable that the modern reader might find it difficult to relate to ancient oral tradition, we’ve all seen how the gods/goddesses and heroes/heroines of other cultures have remained relevant (or at least well-known) because of writers who incorporate the old myths and legends in modern tales. (See: The Percy Jackson series, or the many re-imaginings of the King Arthur myth.)

My first encounter with our mythic heritage, outside of school (which tends to suck the joy out of many a topic), was one such re-imagining: Arnold Arre’s “The Mythology Class” (the original four issue version, not the collected graphic novel). I loved that story to pieces (it was the first time a local work ever moved me to indulge in fan art and fan fic) and it remains dear to me as an example of how a well told story in the present can lead to an appreciation–even a hunger–for the foundational tales of our ancestors. A more recent example is Rochita Loenen-Ruiz’s Hi Bugan yi Hi Kinggawan over at Fantasy Magazine.

I think we need more Filipino tales in that vein–and with that in mind, I’d like to announce a call for submissions for Rocket Kapre’s first commercial anthology: Alternative Alamat.

One could put this call under "retellings", similar to my blog entry about making the familiar fresh (but with some of the less popular myths, one could debate familiarity).

Click here for more details and the full guidelines.

Looking For Comic Submissions!

Saw this over at Espresso Weekly Comics Magazine: Looking for Comic Submissions! An excerpt:

To everyone we met and gave our little card to during the Summer Komikon, it was great to see you guys! So, it’s back to our daily lives now. But wait! Not yet. We’re still looking for comic submissions. You hear that? ESPRESSO COMICS IS LOOKING FOR ONE-SHOT COMIC SUBMISSIONS!

Click here for more details.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Two Indie Films At The U.P. Film Institute

Received this text from Jan Philippe:

My full length films Balay Daku (Big House) and Hilo (Thread) screen for P80 at the U.P. Film Institute Videotheque, U.P. Diliman on Apr. 23, Friday, 4:30 p.m. Balay Daku, April 24, Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Balay Daku, 6:30 p.m. Hilo, April 26-28, Monday-Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. Hilo. Please come if you're willing and able. :)

More details here.

The President Is Overdue by 221 Years

America's first president, George Washington, borrowed books and never returned them, and now, the library wants them back. The books are overdue by 221 years.

Talk about hefty library fines.

Thankfully, the library only wants the books back. I wonder where they are, and if they're in good condition. The article doesn't say. In fact, I wonder if they're lost or destroyed by now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Making The Familiar Fresh

First, check out urban legend number four in this list of 10 Urban Legends That Drove Pinoys Crazy. In brief, the legend has it that former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos had many street-children sacrificed during the construction of The San Juanico Bridge--reflective of pagan rituals--and was punished for it by a supernatural being.

Second, if you haven't already, go and read PGS contributor and guest-editor Yvette Tan's story, "The Bridge", in her Waking The Dead anthology (you can find an excerpt here, and you can find her anthology at Powerbooks and National Bookstore).

One can learn from Yvette Tan's approach on how to turn a familiar tale that is either loosely or simply structured, and turn it into fresh fiction. The same has been done by many other writers for other familiar legends, monsters, creatures, myths, and fairy tales. To use another example, PGS contributor Nikki Alfar has done the same for a familiar Filipino myth which ended up as her story, "Bearing Fruit".

Here's an exercise: As far as I know, no one has tried yet to give his or her own spin on urban legend number one, the tale about a wealthy businessman supposedly having a secret and monstrous eldest son--a half-man-half-snake and twin to the businessman's eldest daughter--and letting him live in the secret corridors of one of his Metro Manila malls. Would anyone like to give retelling this a try? Or maybe you'd prefer another familiar myth/legend that you fancy and try and make it fresh again? You might end up as successful as Yvette has been with "The Bridge" or Nikki with "Bearing Fruit".

The iPad Will Kill Reading

So says this article from TechCrunch: I Admit It, The iPad Is A Kindle Killer. I Just Wish It Weren't Going To Kill Reading Too. An excerpt:

The iPad is emphatically not a serious readers’ device: the only people who would genuinely consider it a Kindle killer are those for whom the idea of reading for pleasure died years ago; if it was ever alive. The people who will spout bullshit like “I read on screen all day” when what they really mean is “I read the first three paragraphs of the New York Times article I saw linked on Twitter before retweeting it; and then I repeat that process for the next eight hours while pretending to work.” That’s reading in the way that rubbing against women on the subway is sex.

And yet, and yet. There’s no doubt that the iPad is a beautiful device for almost everything else. It’s perfect for reading newspapers – Alan Alan Rusbridger’s space-filling fanfic not withstanding – and it’s perfect for email and web browsing and movies and games. If you have to carry around one device – for your commute to work, for an hour in a coffee shop, or on a long-haul flight – then the iPad is the one to carry. Which is precisely why I’m so worried for the future of books, and for reading.

For a few months, the Kindle – or the Sony Reader, or whatever e-reader floated your (Three Men In A) boat – was the perfect take-anywhere device. Sales of ebooks soared as first early adopters, then everyone else, left their paper books at home and started carrying around something smaller and lighter that still gave them access to their reading material.

Those same people are now the ones who will buy iPads, or presumably any one of the myriad alternatives that will soon be flooding the market. But those people don’t want to carry around two tablet-shaped devices to help pass their commute, so they’ll make the sensible choice and leave their Kindles at home. Sure, the Kindle is unarguably the better reader device, but what many booklovers (myself included) have arrogantly overlooked is that it’s not competing on a level playing field with other e-readers. It’s competing against the whole universe of portable entertainment. “This ebook hurts my eyes – I’ll just surf the web instead.”

Even for those who love books enough to persevere with reading without e-ink will soon face another problem with the awesomeness of the iPad. The device does so many different things so well that there’s a constant urge when you’re using one to do something else. Two or three pages into a book, you’re already wondering whether you’ve got new mail, or whether anyone has atted you on Twitter. One of the joys of reading is to be able to shut yourself away from distractions and lose yourself in a book. When the book itself is packed with distractions, the whole experience is compromised.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Interview With The Pinoywrimos

The Pinoywrimos who are being helped by Ria Lu of Talecraft and who will be at the Summer Komikon on April 17, 2010 at the U.P. Bahay Ng Mga Alumni, are interviewed by Rocket Kapre here. An excerpt:

Tell me a little bit about yourselves, so our readers will know the context from which you approach your writing.

EK (a PGS contritubor for The Holiday Issue): Call me EK, ee-kay. My real name can be easily found–I have published and may still publish with it–but since I am using a professional license now, I prefer to use the online handle for fiction-related matters. My writing background is hard-knocks, coming from school newspapers, stage presentations, fan websites, fanfiction, and some original fiction.

Kuyerjudd: I started writing when I was eight years old, because the worlds I made (or the worlds that made me) were the very things that kept me going. In that sense you could say I’m a hippy writer. I keep my head in the clouds, and not a lot of people who write Western fiction get published in the Philippines, so I constantly end up querying agents from Australia and the US—with no luck as of yet. That being said, I keep my heart where it is … where it belongs: in the Philippines. Other than that, I’m sixteen, live with my parents, and I dream big. More? I write comedy, I don’t use the QWERTY, and I’ll soon rule the world. With brownies. Lots and lots of brownies.

Raven: Actually, what led me to write Crimson Skies were the questions that I used to ask older people as a child (even a priest and a nun): ”Why do we have to die? When is the end of the world? Where is God? How sure are you it‘s not the devil talking to you?” The characters (in the story) ask these same questions themselves.

Pauline: I’m a Psychology major with too much imagination, not to mention an inborn fascination with the occult and the paranormal, yet one lacking the perseverance to slave through blocks of texts that end with a question mark. Much of what I write are products of my imagination, since I like creating facts from theories and theories from facts.

Click here to read the whole interview.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fresh Update On Philippine Speculative Fiction V

From Notes From The Peanut Gallery, a fresh update on the upcoming anthology, Philippine Speculative Fiction V (an image of the cover is also provided). The launch is on April 24, 2010, at the U-View Theater of Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street.

Milk And Blood: Tell Me What Thy Name Is On The Night's Plutonium Shore

A former classmate, Milk And Blood, writes about her rediscovery of Edgar Allan Poe. An excerpt from her blog entry, Tell Me What Thy Name Is On The Night's Plutonium Shore:

I have rediscovered Edgar Allan Poe. I tried reading him as a child starting with Fall of the House of Usher. Apparently that language and vocabulary for that one was a bit too much to grasp. When I was a teenager and getting into goth, I tried again with some of his short stories and quiet enjoyed them, and we studied the poem Annabel Lee in school and I quite enjoyed it's tone of both pride and despair.

I also couldn't forget watching Vincent Price reading "The Raven."

Later on, I took a liking to his classics, "The Black Cat," "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Masque of the Red Death." I'll never forget the Masque of the Red Death because I never knew it would the starting point of an incredible discussion with a blue eyed model at a club outside 3am. I couldn't compete with the other babes in terms of having hot legs but when it came to Masque of the Red Death--I could definitely score points.

Poe as conversation-piece with a model, hehe. :) Way to go!

Click here to read her whole entry.

Writer Jay Lake Shares His Thoughts On eBooks And Licensing

Writer Jay Lake shares his thoughts on eBooks in these two blog entries: More On eBooks, Pricing, And Licensing; and Yet Another Dip Into eBooks And Licensing. Make sure to read the comments also. An excerpts:

As I observed recently [ | LiveJournal ], The perennial "ebooks should be free, charging for them is theft" argument is now playing out at

There is a fair amount of supportive commentary there, but also quite a bit of the usual arrogance, ignorance and acrimony about why ebooks should be free. It seems to boil down to the idea that the author/publisher is greedy and doesn't deserve to be paid twice for the same content. This is closely coupled to the misconception that ebooks obviously don't cost anything, and therefore charging for them is theft.

As I said before:

When you buy a print book, you aren’t buying the content, you’re buying the edition. Otherwise everybody who bought a hard cover would be entitled to a free paperback, a free audiobook and a free movie ticket if the book were filmed.
This is driving me more and more toward my nascent view that a book (in any format — print, audio, ebook, what have you) is a license, not a product. The story is the product. The format is a delivery channel. The ebook "debate" gets obscured by the long-running and rather sordid experience of the music industry, as well as the whole bit torrent culture of pirate video. I'm also increasingly coming to view "information wants to be free" as a pernicious meme, as it completely devalues the content Producer to the short-term benefit of the content Consumer.

In the long run, would I write even if I weren't paid? Sure. I did for years before I was paid. But why should my writing, if it has value to readers, be free? The thing I always want to ask ebook activists is whether they're comfortable with their work product being free, simply because I don't think I should have to pay for it? Tom Tomorrow touches on this in his cartoon this week.

And you know what? I'm not going to sell t-shirts or something. I'm not even interested in doing format conversions to sell my backlist online. I'm a writer, damn it. My best and highest value is writing.

It's insulting and demeaning to be called a liar and a thief by readers who don't know anything about the processes of publishing, copyright law or professional ebook production, and yet are certain of both their facts and their moral high ground. It's the Dunning-Kruger effect in full deployment.

I've always said the story belongs to the reader. I believe that in the bottom of my heart. Story is not an economic right, however. Buying a hardback then paying for an ebook is no different from buying a hardback then paying for a paperback or an audiobook. But there's a growing culture online deeply invested in denying that, and they're very happy to demonize authors as part of their denial.

Shires Press Short Story Contest

Northshire Bookstore is sponsoring the Shires Press Short Story Contest. An excerpt:

Northshire Bookstore and Shires Press Publishing are calling all writers to participate in a short-story contest.

Northshire Bookstore is now accepting submissions for the Shires Press Short Story Contest. All genres and topics are welcome and the contest is open to everyone. Using the Espresso Book Machine, Shires Press will publish an anthology containing the ten selected stories. Finalists will be selected by the Northshire Bookstore booksellers and each of the 10 authors will receive a free copy of the short story anthology plus a $50 gift certificate to the Northshire Bookstore. Of the ten finalists, one winning story will be chosen to receive a free custom cover design for a subsequent book published with Shires Press, a $200 value. All submissions must be received by Sunday, June 13 at 5:00 pm EST. Stories should be no longer than 10,000 words and limit one entry per person. Don’t miss this opportunity to see your writing in print!

Click here for more details.

P50,000 Essay Writing Contest On Leadership

Via Asia Writes, P50,000 Essay Writing Contest On Leadership:

The project is an inter-university competition aimed at promoting the young Filipino’s role in attaining sustainable energy independence while maintaining a sound ecosystem. It seeks for views on the new generation’s contribution to having a ‘clean’ and environment-friendly source of energy – oil and electricity in particular. The contest will also look for their views on the best types of eco-friendly power generation and energy conservation policies and measures to support development.


Entry must be from Filipino citizen, 16-30 years old, enrolled during academic year (2009-2010) or at the entry submission in a four or five-year undergraduate course or post-graduate degree (Master’s level) in a college or university in the country. Essay submitted must not have been published print or online. A student can only submit one entry.

Click here for more details.

Call For Submissions: Bewere The Night

A writer whose stories I've enjoyed immensely (and whose name I really like), Ekaterina Sedia, has put up a call for submissions for an anthology she is editing, to be called "Bewere The Night".

I'm putting together a new anthology for Prime, to be released May 2011. The title is BEWERE THE NIGHT, and I'm looking for stories dealing with any were-creatures; werewolves are welcome, of course, and the stories should be in a general urban fantasy vein. I'll need the stories by the end of December 2010, and I'm looking for reprints as well as originals. Reprints pay 1c/word and originals 5c/word, and the length should be between 1,000 and 7,500 words. Also, please suggest reprints by other authors if you happen to think of any.

Thank you!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Philippines Ripe Literary Magazine Call For Submissions

Via Asia Writes: Philippines Ripe Literary Magazine Call For Submissions:

Philippines Ripe Literary Magazine has set out on an undertaking to offer the most engaging reading practice for literature in the country. Featuring fresh literary pieces from Filipino writers, the magazine will be presented in a fascinating format that prides itself on revolutionary design, graphic, and shooting. The magazine will offer its community of dedicated readers the most preferred venue for Philippine writers to share their work.

It is a magazine with an audacious visualization for reading and amusement—one that holds on to its value over time and is never behind the times. Unswerving to distinction, Philippines Ripe Literary Magazine aims to refurbish itself and outline the future of reading pursuit for its readers.

Click here for more details.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cities Of Night Photo Contest

Yes, it's a photo contest, but it's related to horror fiction, and the prize is a new book by author Philip Nutman.

Chizine Publications is hosting the Cities Of Night Photo Contest, based on Philip Nutman's short story collection of the same name. So, you may want to give this a try and join, and take a photo of the Philippine city you live or work in.

We're looking for the most subtle, creepy, evocative photo of your city—or any city—at night.

One you can't turn away from.

One that tells a story.

Click here to read the full guidelines.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Filipinas Magazine Interviews Yvette Tan

PGS Horror Issue guest-editor Yvette Tan is interviewed by PGS contributor Alex Paman, who is also a writer for US-based ezine, Filipinas Mag. Read "Journalist And Mistress Of The Dark: The Enigma That Is Yvette Tan". An excerpt:

"A lot of people think writing is easy, but it's not, at least if you want to write well. Writing is mentally draining, which is worse than physically draining because mentally draining [work] means you're tired, but haven't lost any calories. That said, the most difficult thing about what I do is scheduling. I have to fit all my projects in, plus (have a) life. I have a hard time going off work mode. If you ask me to take a work-free vacation, I'd be miserable.

"(But) I love it when everything just flows and all I have to do is type whatever comes to mind. I hate it when the words don't come. Stick to the rules: less is more; show, don't tell; write what you'd like to read and break the rules only if you're good enough. Of course, lots of people have ignored these and have wound up on the bestseller list. I don't like using big words, unless I'm doing it for fun."

Ironically, Yvette's dream job would not be very different from her current routine. "What I'm doing right now, but on a bigger scale. I would love to make more money off my fiction. But even if I had the chance to make all my money from fiction, I think I'd still be writing for magazines, newspapers and corporations, because it's so much fun."

Rejection from publishers is an integral part of a writer's career. How does she feel one should deal with it? "Very critically. You have to allow yourself to feel bad. Afterwards, you have to decide whether the criticism was warranted or not, and if you're going to use it to make yourself better or not. A lot of people will point out your weak spots because they want you to be better, but there are also a lot of people out there who will put you down because they want to see you fail. You just have to figure out which is which. Use the good advice and discard the rest."

Growing up in a haunted house and developing an early fascination for the supernatural may have set her on the path to writing horror fiction, but it wasn't something Yvette consciously chose to pursue.

Click here to read the whole article.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Let's Vote For The Garapata!

Two of The Garapata's short films have made it to the short list of The Victoria Court Director's Cut Challenge! Let's all vote for them! Here's his PM to me:

Two of the entries have become finalists and now it is all up to getting the most number of views to win!

Please help me win by watching my films (daily if you have the time! but at least once is more than enough). All views from today til the end of April are being counted.

Even better, feel free to share this to other friends, or reposting it in your blog, and inviting them to watch too.

Thank you so much for taking time to help me out.

The game is on! Views are now being counted!

"Sweetie..." a short film
A young man enjoys the beauty and tranquility of Venice with his sweetie.
directed, written and produced by tobie abad
cast: adrian arcega
editor: dekya
music: kevin macleod

What if what you've been searching for has been right in front of you all along?
directed by adrian arcega
cast: tobie abad, macy a
music: perf de castro

Good luck, Garapata!

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz's "Hi Bugan ya Hi Kinggawan"

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz has a new story up at Fantasy Magazine, "Hi Bugan ya Hi Kinggawan". She is also interviewed here. Congratulations!

Scholastic Summer Warehouse Sale

Scholastic will be holding a sale of its books and other items this summer. Details:


Up to 70% off!
Books, References, Teacher Materials, Educational Toys,
Manipulatives, Gift Items, and a lot more!

April 19-24, 2010
8am to 8pm
Monday to Saturday
Scholastic Warehouse
70 C. Raymundo Ave., Bgy. Rosario, Pasig City

Tel. Num. 02-900-1537/02-628-4487 (look for Juvy or Bev)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Creepiest Children's Books Ever

From The Huffington Post, The Creepiest Children's Books Ever. With pictures of the covers, too!

I have to agree that they're all creepy. Some of them are downright weird. The one that really made me laugh out loud is "Cooking With Pooh". :)

Yet Another Monster From The Deep

I've always liked undersea monster stories, even ever since I was a kid. Remember my blog entry about the alien squid? How about the monster crab? Now the deep sea has given us giant armored cockroaches! An excerpt from the article:

Think sharks are scary? They're downright cuddly compared to the Bathynomus giganteus, a very terrifying (and very real) sea creature that recently surfaced from the deep.

So, what the heck is it? According to an article from Fox News, the Bathynomus giganteus (henceforth known as "Bart") is a type of giant isopod, "a large crustacean that dwells in deep Atlantic and Pacific waters." It passes the time by feeding on "dead whales, fish, and squid."

Ol' Bart attached itself to a submarine that was exploring the ocean floor. When the sub surfaced, people got an unexpected look at the slithery stowaway. The creature is a pinkish in color, two and a half feet long, and wouldn't be out of place in an Ed Wood movie (no offense, Bart).

The story was originally posted on Reddit by a guy who works for the submarine company. It quickly went viral from there.

More of this monster here, here, and here.

An Early iPad Review

They're not just calling the iPad a Kindle killer now, they're also calling it a laptop killer. Here's an early, extensive, iPad review. An excerpt:

It’s qualitatively different, a whole new type of computer that, through a simple interface, can run more-sophisticated, PC-like software than a phone does, and whose large screen allows much more functionality when compared with a phone’s. But, because the iPad is a new type of computer, you have to feel it, to use it, to fully understand it and decide if it is for you, or whether, say, a netbook might do better.

If you’re mainly a Web surfer, note-taker, social-networker and emailer, and a consumer of photos, videos, books, periodicals and music—this could be for you. If you need to create or edit giant spreadsheets or long documents, or you have elaborate systems for organizing email, or need to perform video chats, the iPad isn’t going to cut it as your go-to device.