Saturday, September 27, 2014

Licking Wounds

The dark story of my family life continues. Having been hit and verbally abused by a family member for years, I took the necessary step of finally moving out.

It's been a good two or so weeks since I left the abusive home where the relative still stays despite what he's done. Outside the family, people have been uncannily kind to me when they heard I have begun to rent. My close friends, if not comrades, in the office have even been offering to buy me lunch just so I won't have to eat instant noodles everyday this month. I paid rent and the advance deposit, plus bought a bed and some furniture, that's why I'm suddenly dirt poor. But I've been happy. I've started to laugh again and become positive at work. It made me feel like a new test is coming, which I didn't want to think, but which sadly did arrive.

I didn't expect it. Things just don't add up sometimes. I may have gotten a better job but that doesn't mean I'm shitting cash. I mean, who actually expects that? Why do people keep assuming I do shit cash? I already computed my budget and had a talk at home that I will need to reduce my contributions given that I'll be shelling out more than half of what I make every month to pay for my mortgage, rent and living expenses. I will also need to set aside 20% in case of emergencies as I don't have healthcare yet. I thought we were in agreement with that.

I then come home only to be shouted at about how my contributions aren't enough. I was even told that if I don't want to give money then don't. Oh, God. Why do these people think of me like I'm some stingy bitch who doesn't want to share money? It's not that I DON'T WANT to give. It's that I don't have the amount you want me to give. If I give that, there's a possibility I will be short of cash before next payday.

I've been eating canned beans and steamed vegetables for days just so I keep my daily cash out at Php 300. Such is the reality of someone just starting out, which when I tried to explain, I was promptly cut short and dismissed. My difficulties don't even matter because I apparently don't understand what they go through at home. Two weeks. I was away just two weeks. Will I need a bulletproof vest on my next visit?

I'd already offered to pay for dinner before I came home today. How come that doesn't even account for any good points on my account? I'm still the girl who doesn't know how to listen. Well let me pose the question, who declared "I don't want to talk about this" and who was screaming at the top of her lungs?

Maybe to some people, nothing is ever enough. They will wait for you to bleed your guts out, and still they won't see that you've tried to give your all. They will dismiss it as angst or drama, because theirs is the REAL suffering. Sadly the truth is everyone suffers in this world. And that's why God introduced kindness and compassion. For people who go to church every week, it's a surprise that I rarely see these in action.

Oh, I try to understand. But this event just wounds me yet again. Pain makes wounded animals bite.

(Readers of this blog must be wondering why I'm suddenly spilling the dirt on my life when I've kept up this noble facade of being an accomplished writer blah blah blah. I kept many secrets and didn't write anything close to home because this caused problems for me before. Well my writings are dirt. And I am dirt. Life will just have to take back the dirt it has thrown at me. I won't keep these secret anymore. Silence has done me no good)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction Issue #3 is Out!

I just love, love the cover artworks done for this journal! This is issue 3's cover:

Reposting the details for this issue...

This issue of LONTAR presents speculative writing from and about Singapore, the Philippines, Cambodia and Taiwan.

 Inside these pages, you’ll find:

  • the evocation of an alternate ancient Cambodia from multiple award-winner Geoff Ryman;
  • an investigative automotive revenge tale from Palanca Grand Prize winner Dean Francis Alfar;
  • the mystery of magically appearing furniture from Taiwanese short fiction wunderkind Sabrina Huang (deftly translated by PEN/Heim grant recipient Jeremy Tiang);
  • an uneasy exploration of marital discord on the road from Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award winner Nikki Alfar;
  • a quasi-Ballardian take on beach resort culture from Ben Slater;
  • the uniquely Singaporean response to a viral outbreak from JY Yang;
  • and speculative poetry from Anne Carly Abad, Arlene Ang, Tse Hao Guang, Cyril Wong, David Wong Hsien Ming and Daryl Yam.

This issue marks the handover of publication and distribution of LONTAR to Epigram Books.

  1. The More Things Change | Jason Erik Lundberg (editorial)
  2. A Field Guide to the Roads of Manila | Dean Francis Alfar (fiction)
  3. Setting Up Home | Sabrina Huang (trans. Jeremy Tiang) (fiction)
  4. Resort Time | Ben Slater (fiction)
  5. The Elephant in the Room | Anne Carly Abad (poetry)
  6. Before the Last War | David Wong Hsien Ming (poetry)
  7. Signs, or The Fate of Big-Footed Individuals | Daryl Yam (poetry)
  8. Harbour | Tse Hao Guang (poetry)
  9. Since We Stopped Communicating | Cyril Wong (poetry)
  10. Three Poems | Arlene Ang (poetry)
  11. Mother’s Day | JY Yang (fiction)
  12. An Unexpected Stop | Nikki Alfar (fiction)
  13. The Last Ten Years in the Life of Hero Kai | Geoff Ryman (fiction)


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Study of Swarm Intelligence

by Yours Truly


The creatures scatter
at the sight of one of their own
shot dead.
That is when they show
ant-like qualities,
falling into pheromone trails
of fury and protest.
Swiftly, the once-empty streets
crawl with millions.
They parade a new queen
drenched in yellow war paint.
She leads
a swarm so single-minded
that the existing royals
are summarily dethroned
the entire colony repatterned
like never before.


Further observation of the creatures
leads me to suppose that the new age
may not be so new after all.
During a lull filled with fresh elects,
I see what might be a reenactment
of the first dethronement.
The signs follow:
individuals and their little conclaves
calls to reform
jump from one hand to the next.
A loud voice or two is enough
to herd the all-too-ready
onto the streets once more. There,
the yellow queen
endorses another queen.
I know how this ends.


I may have been mistaken.
Their patterns may be more akin to that of bees
foraging, perching from one flower to the next
for ever sweeter nectar—
that is this creature’s quest for leaders
even if they must alight on the shoulders
of rapists, thieves and murderers
which is what I fail to understand
why they refuse to abandon
solutions no longer viable, drawing
from resources long exhausted.
If this is a sickness of the mind
of the individual, or the colony
or the system;
one or all, I cannot tell.
It may all just be a performance
of hardwired instinct.

First Appeared in The Philippines Graphic Magazine, December 2013

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Acceptance from Not One of Us

Whenever I receive good news like these, I still have to ask myself, "for real?" Acceptances are such unexpected gifts, and I'll never stop being surprised by them. I thought I'd never get into the likes of Strange Horizons and Apex, yet with a lot of time, hard work and rejection slips, I made it.

Another wonderful publication that's welcomed my work is Not One of Us. The magazine has been frequently recommended by editors I've worked with and I discovered that the mag has been running since the 1980s. Its focus is on otherness, a rich and powerful topic that will never lose importance in the world. A couple of verbatim reviews from their site:

“I definitely recommend Not One of Us to readers attracted to character-oriented dark fantasy... plenty of disquieting reflection. Fine work.” (Rich Horton)

“The staying power of Not One of Us is a testament to its quality.” (The Fix)

“Not One of Us a reliable source for interesting dark prose and poetry.” (Ellen Datlow, Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror)

Here is a snippet of the email I received from the editor, Mr. John Benson. An acceptance into a joint with this name feels a bit like a pun, which maybe it is:

Dear Anne,
I'd like to use "Why Animals Don't Talk" in one of our future publications. The poem would go either in the next of our annual, variously-titled special collections in January or in the next issue of Not One of Us itself in April. [...]
John Benson
Not One of Us

It's another great week. :) 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Work that's Appeared in the Philippines Graphic Magazine this 2014

While I have my eye on the international scene, my heart still belongs in my home country. That's why I've been aiming to have my work out in local joints, which are becoming fewer and fewer every year. :(

The Philippines Graphic Magazine has remained strong throughout the years, thanks to the efforts of dedicated editors Joel Pablo Salud and Ms. Alma Anonas-Carpio. The literary dream lives on!

This is a late post, the result of many things going on in my life, moving jobs and homes being two of them.

In the Graphic's June 9 issue appears my poem "Transit"


Can hell be any nearer?
This infernal heat--
sun, swelter, pigslush of bodies.
Behind the scenes, someone winds up
a music box playing
the chilling tragedy of transit:

The mob puts Dante's damned
to shame.
The line is the first circle
of anguish, patience
is no virtue
in this push-and-shove contest
where everyone finishes last

because the trains are a lottery
in themselves. Fickle as storms
they decide whether or not to take you
to your destined haven, serving suffering
with a fleck of hope--
success for some, failure for most.

Until routine sets in,
birthing Devil whelps
wallowing in the third hell
of peaceful torment.

Meanwhile, I cut down and finalized my long short story "Sage's Reckoning" and subbed it to the team months later. The story, at a whopping 6500 words, thankfully made it to the coveted pages. Whew.

Part 1 of "Sage's Reckoning" appears in the August 18, 2014 issue;
Part 2 is in the August 25, 2014 issue, which my friend Angelo
luckily came upon and obtained in a branch of NBS in Ortigas.
YES! I have a copy!

I'm thinking about posting the story in this blog. Still thinking about it. I mean, it's so long, so it's not particularly fun to read on-screen, right?

Monday, September 8, 2014

On Books: The Endangered by S.L. Eaves and Princes of the Shroud by Frances Pauli

I'm currently editing/revising my upcoming novel with Zharmae Publishing Press. My book is entitled "The Light Bringer's Kingdom" but well it's been a crazy month and I haven't gotten far in the editing process.

Anyway here are a couple of Zharmae books. I'll post three today:

SHROUDED: Vashia’s father is the planetary governor. Unfortunately, he’s also a complete bastard. When he promises her to his lackey, Jarn, she panics. On the run in the nastiest corner of the galaxy, Vashia seizes her one chance at escape and signs on as a bride candidate for the elusive race of aliens known as the Shrouded, unaware that she very well may be chosen as the next Queen of Shroud Of the seven, volatile Shrouded princes, Dolfan may be the only one that doesn't covet the throne. So the last thing he expects to find in the future queen is the woman of his dreams. If he wants Vashia, he must accept the throne as well. Unfortunately, his long-time rival has the same idea. Now, only the planet’s sacred crystal can decide their fates, but what happens when the right woman is paired with the wrong man? And when Jarn comes after what was promised to him?

SEEN (Upcoming 2014): Rowri is a priestess with prophetic dreams—and she’s dreamt of her soulmate. So when she volunteers to be the gifted bride in a peace negotiation between her own peoples and the Tolfarians, she is certain that the lilac-skinned man in her visions is the Tolfarian leader she is to marry. But prophecy is never simple, and visions are never clear. Shayd, a seer and one of the Shrouded, is summoned to transport Rowri to her new husband-to-be. When Rowri sets eyes on his lilac skin, she knows she’s made a terrible mistake—one she’ll have to live with for the rest of her life if she wants to save her people and prevent war. The two are drawn together, and the fates of two races hinge on the decisions they make. On the precipice of volcanic eruptions, galactic terrorism, and mercenary attacks, Shayd and Rowri must give up every hope of happiness for their people, or sacrifice everything for true love.

THE ENDANGERED: Have you ever gotten sick from getting a flu shot? Have you ever turned into a werewolf from a getting a flu shot? How did that make you feel? When a prominent pharmaceutical company releases its newest strain of the flu vaccine to the public, all hell breaks loose, literally. A gnarly side effect turns those who receive the vaccine into werewolves, and only a small population of vampires, known as The Endangered, are capable of fighting against the ever-growing werewolf population. When all is said and done, secrets will be exposed, alliances formed, and blood spilled as The Endangered do everything in their power to preserve their own kind and their food supply.