Archive for October, 2009

Brainfood SF&F Workshop: Day 1

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 14 - 2009

These days, if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s the fact that I’m a writer–but if you were to ask me if I’ve trained as a writer, I’d be hard-pressed to give an answer. I used to spend glorious summer afternoons in Maya Jacinto’s writing class, and I had the great privilege of having the late, great, Doreen Fernandez as my English teacher for my freshman year in college, but in some way those early classes were more about teaching me how to love writing and how to spark my creativity, rather than about the nuts and bolts of prose. As the volume of my word-count has risen and the scope of my reading has broadened, I’ve gained a sense of just how deep and treacherous the well of literary expression is, and any opportunity I may have to hone my skills as a writer is one I welcome.

This is one of the reasons that I was happy to see the ads for Brainfood’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop, which takes place over four two hour sessions held on the last four Saturdays of October. The number and variety of writing workshops available in the West has long filled me with envy, and I’m always glad to see the emergence of any venue for the development of local talent, especially in my favorite genre.

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PGS: Horror Issue Now Available

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 14 - 2009

PGS Horror issue cover

It’s a happy day for fans of Philippine Speculative Fiction–most particularly for fans of Philippine Horror–as the long-awaited Horror Issue of the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories is now available at Comic Quest branches at Megamall and SM North EDSA (it will also be available soon at National Bookstore). Yvette Tan takes over as guest editor for this issue, and gathers stories from Dominique Cimafranca, Alex Paman, Charles Tan, Raymond G. Falgui, Sean Uy and Joseph Nacino

You can see a preview here, and an advance review here.

On The Far Shore: Mia Tijam

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 13 - 2009

“On the Far Shore” is what I’m calling this series of interviews with the authors/editors of “The Farthest Shore” an anthology of secondary world fantasy from Filipino writers. The anthology is available here . Today we speak with Mia Tijam, author of  “Spelling Normal.”

Could you tell us a bit about your story, “Spelling Normal”?
I don’t know how to answer the question without preempting the story (and consequently ruining the whole Big Buddha Bang Theory and propagating the Cliff Notes Virus).

I think I had a bad case of that virus in High School (mixed with Acute Bluffititis).
Hahaha, I had the latter when I was studying Shakespeare and almost contracted the former when I was studying— yeah, Shakespeare. It was all cured by a doctor in Shakespeare named Ick.

So, how did you hear about the Farthest Shore anthology?
I have Elves and they have special ears. The Web Elf told me about it. I said, “How far is that from my Native Shores?” Then Agent Elf sneaked the story out of my factory and here now is Secondary World History.

Man I wish I had a story factory. (Mine’s more of an outlet store.)
Hahaha, not a bad outlet store since it landed you a Palanca. Hey, let’s do a comparative analysis on the production from a factory and an outlet store, hahahaha. But the damn factory is a sweatshop with an agoraphobic Torquemada as its supervisor: woe.

Prior to that, had you ever written a secondary world story before?
By the gravitas of the definition and tropes of the term “Secondary World”? Nope. But I always consider any work of fiction as secondary world isotopes, hehehe.

Ah, that pesky definitional issue. How would you define a secondary world story then? (The image of an isotope is an intriguing one.) I confess I’m not very adept at making distinctions myself, not in the field of art at least.
Lexical and semantics gymnastics: What is pesky? What is an issue? What is an isotope? What is a distinction? What is art? What is a box? What is a line? What is a point?
What is a definition: you write it and the editors and critics do the labeling. On with the smashing discourse yo!

How long did it take you to write the story?
Eight years. Seriously.

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Chained Links (13 October 2009)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 13 - 2009

Things were a bit crazy for the past week, but here’s a round-up of recent news that you guys might find interesting:

  • The deadline of the Pinoy Story Writing Contest has been extended to October 17;
  • Pinoy Transgressive, a website devoted to the publication and promotion of “transgressive literature” has launched, with words by Carljoe Javier, Jonathan Jimena Siason, Karl de Mesa, Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon, and Norman Wilwayco;
  • Spec (and all-things-experimental) Fic author Adam David has been nominated in the National Book Awards in the Best Book Design category;
  • The Bookbabble podcast interviewed Filipina Spec Fic author Crystal Koo.
  • Underpass, a new graphic novel anthology from industry heavyweights such as Gerry Alanguilan, David Hontiveros, Ian Sta. Maria, Budjette Tan, Kajo Baldisimo, and Oliver Pulumbarit will make its debut at the Komikon. You can also check out a list of other komiks launching at komikon at the Komikero blog;
  • In other komiks news, Trese #3 has been printed and should be in the grubby hands of pre-ordering fanatics (like myself) some time this week;
  • Wired points out some functions which will not be present in the International Kindle (if used outside of the US from what I gather);
  • John Scalzi is running a quick writing contest on his AMC blog;
  • Via technovelgy, we’ve got word that parts of The Periodic Table of Science Fiction (a collection of 118 rather short stories by Michael Swanwick) are now online.
  • I’ve also received word via Yvette Tan’s Twitter that the special Horror Issue of Philippine Genre Stories (which she guest edits) is ready, although the Charles Tan informs us that the issue doesn’t appear to be out in the wild yet. Hopefully the news at least means that the release is imminent;
  • Speaking of Yvette, her story “Seek Ye Whore,” which came out in Rogue magazine’s July 2008 issue was long listed in Ellen Datlow’s new annual horror anthology. She’s also guest-editor at UNO Magazine (a men’s magazine so searching it out may be NSFW) this month, has an interview at the FHM (also a men’s magazine) website and has a feature on “”Waking the Dead” in Garage magazine. She does get around doesn’t she? ^_^
  • EDIT: Whoops almost forgot this–we can expect a new book on Philippine Folklore (can never have enough of those) soon, as the book proposal of Dianne de las Casas and Zarah Gagatiga was approved.

Scheduled Maintenance

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 9 - 2009

Just an FYI: Our site host sent us word that they’ll be doing some maintenance at 8pm EST on October 9–which means 8am October 10 here–and that might entail a short period (we’re told) of downtime.

Pepeng/Parma: How to Help

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 9 - 2009

Typhoon Pepeng (international name “Parma”) devastated Northern Luzon when it made landfall last week with wind speed of 175 kilometers per hour, forcing the evacuation of over 60,000 people and decimating the livelihoods of many more.

Then it came back.

Twice.

Northern Luzon, badly in need of aid, has been practically cut off from Manila and the south. At the present 60-70% of the towns in Pangasinan are under water as dam water is released to prevent even more catastrophic flooding.  Currently, over 330,000 people–over 70,000 families–have been affected by Pepeng, which left hundreds of people dead and caused damage approaching 800 million pesos.

Coming so soon after Ondoy, relief might be hard to come by, but for those who are still able, any help will be greatly appreciated.

I’ll try to update this post in the coming days, but here are a few links that might be of assistance to good samaritans:

Photo by and (c) Mike Alquinto/NPPA Images, according to bulatlat.com

Brainfood SFF Workshop: New Schedule

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 8 - 2009

And here’s another rescheduled event: Just received confirmation from Elbert Or of Brainfood that their Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop: “You Have Worlds In You”, originally scheduled to begin last Saturday, will instead start this Saturday, October 10.  So if you were afraid that you missed the first session and were hesitant to come in media res, then worry no longer.  Here’s the spiel once more, this time with the new dates:

BRAINFOOD WORKSHOPS present:

“YOU HAVE WORLDS IN YOU!”

Join the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing Workshop and explore both genres not only as a reader but as a creator!

The workshop will help budding sci-fi & fantasy writers be proud creators through discussions, exercises and projects. Stories will be compiled into a short story anthology to bring home.

Four sessions. Php 2,000 per person.
October 10, 17, 24 and 31 @ Fully Booked (High Street).
Saturdays 4-6pm.

Sign up at the customer service area of Fully Booked High Street or email brainfoodph[at]gmail.com

The Kindle Cometh

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 8 - 2009

kindlephil

We all knew it was coming: the Kindle is going international. A Kindle with international wireless whispernet (and yes the Philippines is covered) will start shipping on October 19 and is available for pre-order now. You can find more details at blogkindle and Teleread.

Not a bad time to be a digital publisher eh?

Writer’s Wednesday: Fantasy Edition

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 7 - 2009

WriterWednesdayBaseSm

Today’s Writer’s Wednesday is brought to you by… The Farthest Shore. We’ll focus on fantasy today (the secondary world sort at least), although there’s always an overlap with other branches of SF. We’ve got links to a pair of resources you might find useful for world building as well as a list of fantasy-relevant writing tips, old and new.

Baiting the Muse (Links):

  • Let’s start with this great list of world-building questions posted by Patricia Wrede over at the SFWA site, which are meant to help authors create believable worlds for their stories.
  • For worlds patterned after the pre-hispanic Philippines, Filhistory.com is a fairly new site that covers Filipino history and weaponry (not just of the pre-hispanic kind). We’ll also be doing a series of posts on pre-hispanic Philippine weapons in our upcoming Talasalitaan segment.

Consulting the Muse (Tips):

Testing the Muse (Prompts):

Think of a trope or a cliche (note: not the same thing) in the fantasy genre which you are tired of, and write a scene (or hey, an entire story) which breaks away from that.

While we’re always keen to post helpful links for writers here at Rocket Kapre, we thought we’d devote the Wednesday of each week to a more concentrated form of writing goodness.

WW is an experiment and work-in-progress so please let us know what works for you and what doesn’t in the comments ^_^.

On the Far Shore: An Interview With Eliza Victoria

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 7 - 2009

“On the Far Shore” is what I’m calling this series of interviews with the authors/editors of “The Farthest Shore” an anthology of secondary world fantasy from Filipino writers. The anthology is available here. Today we speak with Eliza Victoria, author of  “The Just World of Helena Jimenez.”

Tell us a bit about your story “The Just World of Helena Jimenez”:

Without spoiling anything, “The Just World of Helena Jimenez” is about a girl whose family has been a victim of a heinous crime. One day she just finds herself in a world where there is no crime.

How did you hear about the Farthest Shore anthology?

Wow, I can’t even remember. I must have picked up the “call to submissions” link from Charles Tan’s blog, or from Dean Alfar.

Prior to that, had you ever written a secondary world story before?

No. Or if I ever were able to write such a story before, the writing was done unconsciously. If anyone ever reads a story of mine and points this out to me, I’ll probably just dismiss the notion and say, “Oh, those things didn’t really happen, it’s a psychological thing, the character’s just insane”. Etcetera etc. When I write non-realistic fiction it is still very much rooted in our reality, so much so that the fantastic elements can be easily explained by psychology. Ha! I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. I can never do Lord of the Rings, where everything is created from scratch, even the language; I’m inclined to use the two-world trope. I suppose Harry Potter falls in this category. This world, that other world.

I can never erase this world from my stories, but that’s me speaking now. This may change in the future.

As far as reading goes though, does your present self share those same inclinations? Or, all else being equal, do you enjoy reading Lord of the Rings type epic fantasy as much as a tale set in our world?

Confession time: I haven’t read Lord of the Rings. (Please don’t shoot me.) But to be sure, I enjoy reading non-realist fiction as much as the realist ones. I read like crazy. I read whatever the bookstores and the book bargain sales and the online journals can offer (well, as long as I can still afford them). I don’t care if the story is set in this universe, or elsewhere. If the language is lovely, the plot engaging, the characters interesting, then I’ll pack my bags and board that plane to Wherever.

How long did it take you to write the story?

Hm, not too long, but longer than usual. However, it took years before the story finally assumed the form I wanted it to have. I started writing this story in 2007, my last year in college. I finished the story sometime after graduation I think. The first draft was more than 30 pages long. It pained me to cut it, so I just set it aside, then wrote other, shorter stories and sold them. When I heard about Farthest Shore, I revisited the story, rolled up my sleeves, and revised.

What aspect of the writing did you enjoy the most?

Creating a new world is always fun. Describing the culture, the surroundings – I enjoyed this immensely.

What aspect did you find most difficult?

Editing! Oh, editing this monster pained me, because it was so long and I had to cut so many conversations between the characters short. Also, the first draft was very graphic, very violent. I toned it down a bit; though the violence is necessary, I really don’t want to hit the readers too hard.

Ouch. Always painful to kill one’s precious babies. How did you choose what made the cut and what didn’t?

I remember a couple of scenes where the characters suddenly became melodramatic. Like telenovela-melodramatic. When I read the manuscript again after setting it aside for a little while, the dialogue made me cringe. So out with those scenes.

The other parts I didn’t really cut, I just shortened them. I mean if a scene can be shortened and it still works, then it doesn’t have to be that long, right? As a writer, you’re just wasting space. Or being clingy to your language, like, “Oh, but this line’s so beautiful/witty/whatever”. Enough with that – just edit!

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Rocket Kapre is an imprint of Eight Ray Sun Publishing Inc. (a new Philippine-based publisher), dedicated to bringing the very best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in English to a worldwide audience by means of digital distribution. More info can be found at our About section at the top of the page.

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