Archive for the ‘Slider’ Category

Ruin and Resolve Released

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 28 - 2009


Ruin and Resolve is now up for sale on Smashwords.

Up and at ‘em everyone! For charity!

If you’ve never purchased a book on Smashwords before, or even made an internet purchase, don’t worry it’s easy. We’ll walk you through the steps after the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ruin and Resolve – Cover and TOC Reveal

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 22 - 2009

Given all that the country has been through in the last two months, September 2009 might seem a lifetime away to some of us.  Yet the damage from Ondoy and Pepeng still remains, and in the coming year the typhoons will return, as they always do.  As Filipinos, as writers, as Spec Fic lovers, we want to do our part to help those who are still recovering from the storms, and to support those who will be at the vanguard of future relief efforts.

Last October, I sent out a limited call for submissions for Ruin and Resolve, an ebook anthology which Rocket Kapre would put up for sale, donating any profits received to the Philippine National Red Cross.  Seventeen heeded that call, and in the span of less than three months, we’ve managed to compile nineteen stories and five poems, to offer as an incentive for those who want to share their blessings, especially during the Christmas season. On December 28 (fingers crossed) the anthology will go on sale at, and I’ll need everyone’s help to get the word out. But for now, I’ve set up a book page for Ruin and Resolve (ignore the sample and mediakit portions for now) with the table of contents and the cover image (artwork provided free of charge by the awesome Artspice! Studios) of which I’ve provided a larger version below.

The list of stories/poems and authors is on the book page, but I’m also putting it in this post, after the cut.

Once again guys – December 28, don’t forget!

Read the rest of this entry »

Chained Links: 21 December 2009

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 22 - 2009

For your pre-Christmas edition of our link round-up, we’ve got a site launch, writing tidbits and a smattering of history:


Site Launch:

  • The official Estranghero Press website is now up and running (although parts remain, as per internet tradition, “under construction”).

Books and the Writing Craft:

  • Speaking of Estranghero Press, here are a few interesting posts from Joey Nacino’s blog, one on local monsters, and another on the inclusion of an editor’s own story in his/her anthology (the latter with bonus flame-y flavor in the comments, if that floats your boat).
  • Mitali Perkins on why she writes multicultural books. (Via Stacy Whitman)
  • For essay writers, poets and artists, there’s a call for submissions for Duguang Lupa, a chapbook of reactions to the Ampatuan Massacre. (via PGS)
  • In the Nick of Time” a free Holiday Sampler put together by J.C. Hutchins with excerpts from a dozen new novels and nonfiction books by authors such as Laurell Hamilton, Cory Doctorow and Joseph Finder. (via
  • The 43rd Bookworms Carnival covering books on/related to mythology (we contributed our post on Anvil’s Treasury of Stories)
  • The Apex Book of World SF (which includes a story by Dean Alfar) is available for the Kindle, and for  free worldwide shipping in dead-tree form. (via World SF News Blog)

Event Coverage:

Historical Documents: (via

Contests and Sales:

Tabi Tabi Po in San Francisco

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 17 - 2009

The sting of neglecting to cover an awesome event such as “Tabi Tabi Po” (a “group exhibition that explores the rich and colorful creatures of Filipino Folklore through Urban Contemporary art”) is only somewhat mitigated by the fact that I don’t think I could have managed the commute to, er, San Francisco (at the 1:AM Gallery) in time (the exhibit took place from November 13 to December 12). Still, if I were anywhere near California, it seems like it would almost certainly have been worth the trip–the one advantage to stumbling upon the exhibit at this late stage is that there’s plenty of content online at the official blog, including the companion documentary below:

Tabi Tabi Po Companion Documentary: An Exploration of Filipino Folklore Creatures from James Garcia on Vimeo.

You can find more clips at the site, including a trailer, a shadow play, and a MyxTV feature. There is also a link on site to the artwork they have on sale, for which a portion of the proceeds will be used for typhoon relief.


Many thanks to the Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc. blog for allowing me to discover such an awesome event.

Confessions of a Shipper – A Discussion of Fanfic

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 12 - 2009

Anna Felicia Sanchez is a published author, a professor at the University of the Philippines, and a Palanca Awardee. She is also, (refreshingly) unabashedly not only a fan of anime/manga but also a fanfic writer, and one of the few people I’ve found locally who deem fan writings to be an important aspect of popular culture worthy of academic study. I missed her fanfic writing seminar last summer, when I heard that the UP Lingua Franca organization was having her as a guest speaker to talk about fanfiction, I decided it was worth braving the Katipunan school day traffic to hear what she had to say.


Over roughly one and a half hours, Professor Sanchez discussed, amongst others, definitions of Geek and Fan (and what role gender/sex plays in each definition), how it feels to be a girl surrounded by geeks, the Noranians-Vilmanian War, “Aca-Fans”, Consumerism/Cosplay/Community in fandom, Subject and Object in the Shoujo genre and what the real world advantages are to writing fanfic.

With the gracious consent of the organizers and Professor Sanchez, I’ve uploaded excerpts from her talk “Confessions of a Shipper: The Joys and Transgressions of Fan Writing” which she gave in front of a packed classroom in the UP College of Arts and Letters. Enjoy!

More video excerpts under the cut:

Read the rest of this entry »

Smashwords Edition of Usok #1

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 8 - 2009


As a publisher (digital or not) avenues of distribution are key to any strategy. It’s our job, after all, to get the stories of our authors in front of as many people as possible. is one of the more open and promising ebook distribution outlets at the present (it is DRM-free as well), and we’ll be releasing our ebooks and digital files of Usok on the site. Smashwords distributes through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Sony and Shortcovers as well (we’ll let you know when/if Usok pops up in those sites) so it’s a great place to be.

For starters we’ve got Usok #1 available as a single file download at Smashwords in a variety of formats, which I’ll discuss in a bit. Since Usok #1 is free, you don’t need to register at Smashwords in order to download it, but if you’ve got the time, feel free to go through the process so that you can review Usok on Smashwords (pretty please? ^_^), and so you’ll be all set when our non-free offerings come out.

Aside from reviews and helping spread the word, trying out the different formats and letting me hear your feedback would be of great help as well.  Which format did you prefer, and what would you like us to improve on in the future? There’s a bit of a trial-and-error type learning curve involved in Smashwords’ ebook formatting system, which is why we’re testing this out with Usok, a free offering, rather than with our first anthology, Ruin and Resolve. The good thing about Smashwords is that after you purchase an ebook, if there are any updates to the file made afterward, you can re-download it for free. (This also opens interesting possibilities for a book with constantly updating content that can be made available for a flat fee, but I’ll save that for another day…)

Note that none of the versions includes the new cover which you can see above (file size considerations I assume) but you can download the cover image here or from Smashwords, and certain readers (like Stanza) allow you to attack a cover image to the ebook file.

For those interested in the details/differences of the downloadable versions, I’ve got a breakdown of the versions, file types, and a few desktop readers after the cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

Writing Markets: December 2009

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 3 - 2009

With NaNoWriMo having just ended, a list of deadlines might be the last thing that most writers would want to see–but the Christmas holiday is one of the longest in the year, and if you can find some time to get some writing done between Simbang Gabi and Noche Buena, I thought it might be useful to have a consolidated list of markets for your stories, especially given that many reading periods end this month. So I’ve combed through my usual sources (top of that list being Ralan, Duotrope, Bibliophile Stalker and Specficmarkets) and assembled this list of open markets and contests with upcoming deadlines (up to those which fall within the 1st quarter of 2010).  If I’ve missed any, local or international, please let me know in the comments.

And oh, it might not have a deadline, but don’t forget that Usok is open to submissions as well. ^_^

Note: The December deadlines are in bold print… You know, for added urgency ;)

Novelette/Novella Markets:

Anthologies/Special Issues:

  • Retro Spec - Retro Spec is a planned trade paperback anthology of speculative flash fiction, short stories, and poetry about culture, society, and politics from the 1920s to the 1980s. Deadline is December 8, 2009.
  • The Pedestal Magazine: Speculative Fiction Issue - speculative flash fiction. Deadline is December 14 2009.
  • Innsmouth Free Press: Multiethnic Issue - (Not an anthology but a special issue of a regular magazine) scary, funny, exciting and plain-bizarre stories with a Lovecraftian twist. Until December 15, 2009.
  • Horrowire Anthology – Horror short stories. Deadline is December 15, 2009.
  • Crossed Genres: Any Previous Genre Issue – (Not an anthology, but Crossed Genre submissions have themes which change every month, so technically a story you plan to submit to them within a particular genre has a month-long deadline). Deadline is December 31, 2009.
  • The Beast Unleashed (The Beast Within 2) - new takes on “were-” tales. Deadline is December 31, 2009 or until filled.
  • The Four Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death -  The anthology will be divided into four sections: Conquest, War, Famine/Pestilence, and Death. Most genres, including, but not limited to, supernatural, dark fantasy, horror, suspense, crime, mystery, humor and science fiction, are welcome as long as they fit the theme of one of our four categories (conquest, war, famine/pestilence, death). Please note which category your story fits into when you submit. Deadline is 31 December 2009.
  • War of the Worlds: Frontlines – are stories influenced by War of the Worlds and containing Aliens in some form against Humanity. They don’t have to be the tripod riding, octopus-style Martians from the original novel. In fact, we would prefer seeing what your imagination can come up with. And while the title of the anthology is War of the Worlds: Front Lines, we realize that wars between man and alien could be fought on many fronts, and in many ways. Deadline is 31 December 2009.
  • Timelines: Stories inspired by H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine – stories inspired by The Time Machine. Stories that delicately reach into our past. Stories that boldly stride into the future. And everything in between. Send us your stories of paradoxes and contradictions, show us what happens when we mess with our timelines or create new ones. Deadline is 31 December 2009.
  • The Future Fire: Feminist SF Issue – (Not an anthology but a special issue of a regular magazine) We shall publish dark science fiction and art with a social conscience, a political sensibility, and of the highest quality. New not only means recently composed, previously unpublished, and original. New means: Creative. Inventive. Experimental. Postmodern. Speculative. Meaningful. Progressive. Deadline is 31 December 2009.
  • Trafficking in Magic/Magicking in Traffic - Trafficking in Magic deals with the sale and transport of magical goods and services, including magical beings, artifacts, fortune telling, communing with the dead, and other spells for hire, or the sale of magical energy itself; Magicking in Traffic deals with magic in the flow of traffic–which could be street traffic, commerce, the flow of energies, or something else entirely–whether to aid, block, or manipulate the flow of traffic, or simply to play in it. Deadline is 5 January 2010.
  • Demons of the New Year – horror anthology from Estranghero Press. Deadline is January 15, 2010.
  • Warrior Wisewoman 3 – an annual anthology series of science fiction featuring powerful and remarkable women. Deadline is 15 January 2010.
  • Aether Age – Shared universe alternate history anthology. Deadline is January 30, 2010.
  • Zombie Zoology: A Natural History of Zombies - Stories must include themes revolving around living-dead animals, beasts, creatures, or anything of the sort. We are looking for variety in both animals and the locations in which the story is set. Stories involving local myths, legends and superstitions will be well regarded as will the use of science. Stories can be set in the past or present. Closing date is the 30th January 2010 and replies will go out after this date.
  • While the Morning Stars Sing – An Anthology of Spiritually Infused Speculative Fiction. Deadline is 31 January, 2010.
  • SCHEHERAZADE’S FAÇADE - “History, literature and mythology are replete with stories of those who, for one reason or another, disguise themselves as the opposite gender, or are transformed into that which they are not. Whether it’s for love, ambition, or self-preservation, whether it’s to challenge the status quo or simply to embrace their true nature, whether it’s done willingly or thrust upon them, there will always be those who cross-dress and blur the lines between genders. Deadline is February 28, 2010.
  • Quest for Atlantis – unique short stories that celebrate the legend of The Lost Continent of Atlantis. Most genres, including, but not limited to, fantasy, science fiction, horror, suspense, mystery, romance, humor, etc., are welcome as long as they fit the theme of the anthology (Atlantis). Deadline is February 28, 2010.
  • Rebel Books’ Faerie Stories Anthology – “We are looking to produce an anthology of Faerie Stories for young adults. Your stories must be modern, original stories about or including faeries with an edgy teen focus.” Deadline is February 28, 2010.
  • Night Terrors - Night Terrors will be an open themed anthology of horror. Science fiction and dark fantasy will be considered as long as it has a strong element of horror. Try to avoid classic horror conventions, unless you incorporate a new twist. Remember, evil has no boundaries and neither do we! Nothing is off limits, so take advantage of the freedom. We’ll accept stories in any setting or time period, as long as it’s well written, powerful and original. Most importantly, scare us. We want to be haunted by your story long after we put it down. Gore and sex are acceptable, as long as it serves a purpose. Deadlines is March 13, 2010.
  • The Way of the Wizard – The story should be about a wizard, witch, sorcerer, sorceress, of some kind (basically, any sort of user of magic). Open until March 31, 2010.
  • Jabberwocky 5 – The elements and bedrock of Jabberwocky can be largely described as the -ical approach: lyrical, whimsical, mythical, in all its forms, particularly short fiction, poetry, and illustrative. Reading period will remain open until the collection is full. Response time is 2 weeks


  • SHINE Anthology competition – a guessing/matching competition dealing with the table of contents of the upcoming SHINE Anthology. The competition will run from November 30 until December 15: it will close to entries at December 15 midnight, Dutch time.
  • Spec the Halls – a contest for speculative winter holiday-themed fiction, artwork, and poetry. Entries must be first posted between November 1st and December 18th, the week before Christmas. They must stay online until Groundhog Day (February 2nd) or until the winners are announced (Groundhog Day is the outside deadline that I’m setting myself for the decision). However, it should be noted that submitting earlier (when there’s less competition) will increase a submission’s chances of being a “Featured Submission.”
  • “Why I Write” Essay Contest - sponsored by Editor Unleashed and Smashwords. Post Your Entry: Monday, November 9 – Thursday, December 31; Popular Ranking: Monday, January 4 – Friday, January 29
  • Eighth Annual (2009) SFReader Short Story Contest - “We are interested in works that feature well developed characters along with colorful settings and fast-moving plots. There are no restrictions on sub-genres, though all stories must be firmly within the realm of Speculative Fiction. Our interests include, but are not limited to: Hard Science Fiction, Soft Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Cyberpunk, Slipstream, and Alternate History, just to name a few. The speculative element must be integral to the story.”

[Image source: Spec the Halls ]

Top 10 Scariest Filipino Monsters

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 30 - 2009

Via Charles Tan, there’s a list of Top 10 Scariest Filipino Monsters posted by gabi319 over at Listverse. Not really sure about the creatures being “scary” although I like the fact that the Kumakatok are high up there. I’d probably take out the Kapre and Tikbalang (especially after Dayo :P ) and put in the Mambabarang and the Pugot. A Mananaggal has too many weaknesses in my opinion to ever win top honors in a scare-fest (compare to the Black Court vampires in the Dresden Files).

I do wish that the author was more consistent in giving attribution to the sources/creators of the images used though… But one thing I’m happy to have discovered thanks to the list is  a rendition of a Tikbalang by the awesome Keith Thompson, illustrator of Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan YA novel (which I loved and ought to review soon). He’s even got a little fictionalized, anthropology-style description of the creature to the right of the pic.

[Images in slider sourced from Listverse and attributed to and]

Business World Feature and Usok Review

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 27 - 2009

To those of you who have a copy of today’s (27 November 2009) Business World, you might be surprised to find a familiar piece of awesome SF artwork in the Weekender section… yes, opposite the articles on Susan Boyd and Adam Lambert ^_^:

Johanna Poblete of Business World has a feature on Rocket Kapre and excerpts from an interview with me, as well as her review of Usok 1. For those of you who can’t snag a copy of the paper, you can catch the article and the review at Business World’s site here. The review comes after the feature article. As with any print interview, there was more to the conversation than what made it into the final version, so when Johanna puts the full Q and A up on her site, I’ll let you all know.

While most of the sites/publications mentioned in the article should be familiar to you guys, for any newcomers to the site drawn here by the article (welcome lords and ladies!) here’s a quick rundown:

Usok Interview: Kenneth Yu

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 25 - 2009

I’ll be doing some interviews with several of our Usok authors, to get some insight as to their lives as writers in general, and their stories in Usok in particular. First up, and rightly so, is Kenneth Yu, editor of the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories which is, I’m not ashamed to admit, the lineal ancestor of Usok. Kenneth is the author of “Mouths to Speak, Voices to Sing“.

Tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea for your story.

There is, somewhere in Quezon City and owned by an old Tsinoy businessman, a large house overflowing with antique Chinese pottery and vases. This old Tsinoy has spent years collecting them; and they come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. I’ve never seen the collection, but some friends who have been to that house have. They were the ones who told me about it, and they were awed at its quantity and extent. The old Tsinoy knows the story behind each of his acquisitions, and my friends estimate that the worth of his antiques could reach the tens of millions of pesos. Over time, this value is bound to increase. This old man was described by my friends as being a nice guy (“mabait” to use the Tagalog word), and quite generous, though they met him only a few times.

My mother owns some antiques herself, but nowhere near the level and scale that this old man possesses. As a kid I would often peer curiously into her vases, wondering what was inside. I never found anything, other than dead cockroaches and a bit of dirt, but in the way that you can hear strange echoes and sounds–voices, maybe music–when you put your ear to a seashell, the same sounds can be heard inside these vases.

Two curiosities I explored in this story: What kind of “mabait” and generous old Tsinoy businessman would collect antique vases and why; and what would these vases be saying if they really could talk. Throw in a little bit of Chinese mythology, and the story somehow formed into what it is.

What aspect of the story gave you the most difficulty?

Trying to find the right sequencing of scenes, for one. Maintaining a consistent point-of-view, for another. It was a bit of a challenge shuffling sentences and paragraphs around, trying to find the best mix. I spent some time moving words around, adding here, removing there, and gauging the effect. I’m glad for the advice of the Usok editor in sorting this out. His comments were a big help. And I did warn him when he asked me for a story that the one I would be sending him was only in its first draft. ;-)

[Ed. Note: Usok editor pats self on the back. :P ]

Do you remember the first short story you ever wrote? What was it about?

Oh, no, I don’t, though an old friend told me recently that he remembered reading a story I wrote when we were 12 or 13, something about a “house on a hill”. I suppose it was a mystery or a ghost story of some sort. I have a feeling it was inspired by, of all things, a Choose Your Own Adventure book I liked very much: The Mystery Of Chimney Rock, a book about, er, a spooky house on a hill. I remember that book fondly, and the Choose Your Own Adventure series was a big hit when I was 12/13 years old, so the logic adds up. I have that title somewhere on my shelves still, I’m pretty sure.

Does your cultural background influence how you write, or what you write?

Occasionally. I’m a Tsinoy, influenced by Filipino and Chinese culture. And there’s no escaping the influence of Western culture, given its pervasiveness on TV, radio, in movies, and books. This influence comes out every now and then in what I write. I suppose it depends on what grabs me at the moment of writing, though it’s been pointed out to me that I did write some stories that are culturally “neutral” (“House 1.0″ from The Town Drunk and “Beats” from Philippine Speculative Fiction IV were the examples given by those people).

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever read or received?

Ah, it’s “Read”. Read, read, read. This advice has stuck with me, and of all things, I received it in such an impersonal way.

Years ago, during the martial law years in the Philippines, when Ferdinand Marcos was still president, the newspapers reported that famous author James Michener stopped by Manila for a few hours, en route to some other destination (I think he was on his way to Japan from Hawaii, or maybe it was the other way around; or maybe I’m completely wrong about where he was going and where he came from, I’m really not sure). His book “Shogun” was a big bestseller back then. Being a celebrity, he was interviewed at the airport and featured on the front page. I forget what the rest of the article was about, but I do recall the last question they asked him: What advice would he give to aspiring writers? He said, quite succinctly, “Read.” I’ve taken that to mean “Read a lot” or “Read as much as you can” or “Read about everything and anything you can get your hands on”; and so, I have.

There is another piece of advice that seems to work for most writers and that seems to run consistently with the most successful ones that I know, and that’s to be disciplined and set aside a regular schedule for actual writing everyday. I don’t know whether I heard it or read it somewhere, but I remember this quote: “The only way to write…is to write.” Makes sense to me. If you have time to read, and want to try the other side of the coin and write, then you have to set aside regular time for both activities.



About Me

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.