“Alternative Alamat” on the Kobo and In-depth Review

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 16 - 2012

Thanks to Flipside Digital Content, “Alternative Alamat” (and my steampunk comic, “High Society” ) are now available at Kobo!

Speaking of “Alternative Alamat”, I’d like to thank everyone who has already bought a copy, and everyone who continues to spread the word about the anthology–we must have received a few sales over the last few days, as we jumped back up to #5 on the Kindle Fantasy Anthology bestsellers list last Saturday. For anyone who’s still on the fence about the anthology, maybe a very positive story-by-story review from Jaymee Goh will do the trick? Jaymee posted this almost a month ago, and while I re-tweeted it robustly then, I only just realized that I forgot to link to it on Rocket Kapre. Jaymee is a fellow Southeast Asian author and an insightful critic with a perspective that I think readers of Philippine speculative fiction will appreciate. You can also find her on Silver Goggles, her postcolonialist steampunk blog (which you may remember from the in-depth review of “On Wooden Wings”).

Lower Myths and Current Events: An Interview With Eliza Victoria

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 3 - 2012

Eliza Victoria’s fiction and poetry have received prizes in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards. She’s contributed to many of our projects here at Rocket Kapre, including Usok, Ruin and Resolve, and Alternative Alamat. She took the time to answer a few questions about her first solo book “Lower Myths”, which was just released digitally last week.

Why did you choose “Lower Myths” as the title of this novella collection?

I’m not sure if I first read this in a book or online, but some historiographers make a distinction between what they perceive as two kinds of myths. B?rendran?tha Datta discusses it here: “classical”/literary myths are considered “higher myths” while oral/folk myths are considered “lower myths”.

The myths that I’ve always loved are oral myths, and their creatures and characters appear in this volume.

Did you intentionally set out to write novella-length fiction, or were these simply the length you felt that the stories needed to be?

I distinctly remember making notes on these stories and thinking that the plots couldn’t be contained within 5,000 words (the length of an average short story). So yes, I guess the intention is to write longer stories. I didn’t think “novella”, I just thought they’d be “long”.

Did you notice any difference in the writing of novella-length fiction, as opposed to shorter stories? Were there any peculiar difficulties/benefits to the novella?

Working with a longer word count could give you a fake sense of freedom. You’ll write scenes the story doesn’t really need, go overboard with descriptions, etc. What I’m saying is, there’s no difference really. It just so happened that the novella was the length the stories needed.

BUT I have to say one difficulty to the novella is IT’S HARDER TO SELL. I once spoke with a print publication, and they told me that they love Lower Myths, but it’s not marketable. Most publications want short stories, or full novels. Good thing Flipside picked this up or this won’t see the light of day.

Was there any particular reason you chose to package these two novellas together? Do you feel that they somehow interact with each other, thematically? (An early review mentioned that the stories “visit both sides of the fence…”)

The stories mention the same creatures and at moments occur in the same setting.

“Trust Fund Babies” involves a war between families of witches and fairies. What kind of research did you have to do for this story?

I am a fan of mindless, mob movies. Just gleeful, plot-driven action. And I am fond of detective fiction. Whatever research this story needed, I’ve already done in the past I suppose.

Why did you choose fairies and witches in particular, as opposed to other available creature/sorcerer groups?

The story begins in the Cagayan Valley, and the stories my mother and grandmother (who are both from Cagayan) tell me “from back home” almost always involved witches.

As for fairies, I’m just fond of diwata.

Was “The Very Last Case of Messrs. Aristotel and Arkimedes Magtanggol” (where an aristocrat and his daughter consult sibling lawyers about a mysterious crime) inspired by any real life events?

If I told you what real-life event inspired this story, I’ll give the plot away! A clue then: turn to the news.

The book also features some fine illustrations. Can you tell us a bit about the artist, and why you chose to include artwork?

The inclusion of artwork (by Lester Banzuelo) was the decision of the publishing house. But [the illustrations] lovely, aren’t they? I really love the cover too [illustrated by Lester Banzuelo and designed by Adam David].

“Lower Myths” is an ebook, but you also have a print collection of short stories coming out later this year. Can you talk a bit about the differences and/or similarities in the publishing process for a digital book and a print book? How did you choose which collection to pitch for print/digital?

I pitched this collection for digital because it might be easier to sell a short book as an ebook than its dead-tree equivalent. And, as I’ve mentioned, I don’t think print publishing houses are keen on accepting novella collections.

As for the differences, print books take longer to produce, and are more expensive. During revisions, a digital book will be returned to you as a Word file with Track Changes on. Meanwhile, my short story collection was returned to me as a print-out, a hefty package with the comments penciled in. As someone who is used to working on a computer, the process seemed archaic to me (I had to sit on the floor so I could flip through the MS without ruining the pages, and take notes on a separate piece of paper). But it was beautiful! It was very romantic. It’s been a while since I last saw an editor’s handwriting.

“Lower Myths” can currently be purchased at Amazon or Flipreads.

Photo credit: Karen Lucero of the National Book Development Board

Flipreads Promo: Read an Ebook Week and Read Aloud Day

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 6 - 2012

Flipreads is running a promotion this week , in celebration of Read an eBook Week (which is this week, from March 4 to 10) and World Read Aloud Day(which is March 7, tomorrow). Flipreads has placed several digital titles on sale, and amongst these is our very own “Alternative Alamat” which is now being sold at the discounted price of PHP200 (down from the regular PHP235). A fine time to get your copy, if you haven’t purchased it already! Flipreads accepts payment via Globe Gcash, Smart Money, PesoPay, Paypal and Cashsense.

“The Soundless Ones” by Kate Osias on Bewildering Stories

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 3 - 2012

Author and editor Kate Osias has a new flash fiction piece in issue 464 of online magazine Bewildering Stories called “The Soundless Ones“. Go check it out!

Tina Matanguihan Reviews “Alternative Alamat”

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 2 - 2012

Reviews of “Alternative Alamat” are starting to trickle in (we were in the Philippines Graphic last week), and I’m happy to say that so far they’ve been of the positive variety. The latest comes from Tina Matanguihan (One More Page, PinoyWriMos) and she gives it a 5/5. You can read the full review at her book blog or on Goodreads, but let me just say that when I reached the part where Tina goes “I felt that this book and the stories in this collection were mine”, my head swelled to the size of the Lion’s Head at Kennon Road.

As always, remember that you can purchase Alternative Alamat at any of the following vendors:

Alternative Alamat: A “Notable Book” of 2011 (GMA News Online)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 1 - 2012

We’d like to thank GMA News Online, particularly writer Meann Ortiz (who just last week gave her positive early impressions of “Alternative Alamat”), for including “Alternative Alamat” on their list of Notable Books from 2011. Amongst the other local speculative fiction books mentioned are “Philippine Speculative Fiction vol. 6″, “Heartbreak & Magic”, and “Trese 4: Last Seen After Midnight.” Here’s how Meann describes “Alternative Alamat”:

Philippine mythology isn’t just about aswangs, duwendes, and kapres; there exist pantheons of deities and a deep well of other legends and myths that we were never taught in school. Alternative Alamat makes some of these lesser-known tales and characters more accessible to modern readers with 11 engaging re-tellings. The book also includes interviews with scholars of Philippine mythology, a reference guide, and a list of notable deities accompanied by illustrations by Mervin Malonzo. This is only available as an e-book, though, so I hope that the publisher will consider releasing it in print so that it will be accessible to more readers. Because of efforts like this anthology, it won’t be long before we find our own local Rick Riordan who will successfully skyrocket this aspect of our culture into the popular consciousness.

As always, remember that you can purchase Alternative Alamat at any of the following vendors:

Typhoon Sendong Relief Incentive: Free Ebook “Ruin and Resolve”

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 20 - 2011

I’ve already mentioned the devastation wrought by Typhoon Sendong over the weekend. As of this writing, at least 652 people have been confirmed dead as a result of flash floods that affected 135,000 people, nearly 47,000 of whom have been forced to evacuate to shelters. When Typhoon Ondoy slammed into Manila in 2009, Filipino writers and poets collaborated on a charity ebook I called “Ruin and Resolve” , for the benefit of typhoon victims. Since then, I’ve distributed the ebook for free as an incentive and a means to promote awareness during times of need. In the wake of the latest natural disaster to ravage my country, I am once more making Ruin and Resolve available for free–this time permanently–on Smashwords.com, and now on Flipreads.com (both are PDFs). I’m offering the book for free because I realize it would be easier/quicker for people to donate directly to entities such as the Red Cross, rather than course the donation through an ebook retailer as “payment” for the book. Here are a few links with information on how to help:

I hope that this ebook leads more people to those links, and if you do decide to donate and would like a small reward as a sign of our gratitude, please do feel free to download Ruin and Resolve. Thank you!

Here’s what people have said about Ruin and Resolve:

“Borne out of tragedy but driven by a spirit of triumph, Ruin and Resolve takes us to different worlds, fantastic and magical, futuristic and the mundane every day. The collection, meant to help Ondoy victims with is proceeds, provides us all with reasons to keep striving, to never surrender, never quit. It may sound corny to say that one finds inspiration, and yes, the resolve needed, in these texts. But that’s the fact of the matter. More than a few times the reader will find not just beauty of image and power of prose, but genuine uplift and the feeling of elevation.” Carljoe Javier, author ofAnd the Geek Shall Inherit the Earthand the “Kobayashi Maru of Love.

“But outside its being a charitable donation, this newest [Spec Fic] anthology isn’t a throwaway piece of literature; it’s worth buying for its own sake — lending credence to the publisher’s self-effacing introduction of “we hope our stories and poems make you feel all the happier to have helped those in need.” - Johanna Poblete, Business World.

Release Day: Alternative Alamat Now Available

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 14 - 2011

Cover for "Alternative Alamat" by Mervin Malonzo

The day has come!

Alternative Alamat“, our digital anthology of stories inspired by Philippine mythology, is now available for US$4.99 at the following fine establishments:

  • Amazon.com – US$4.99 (note there’s an extra US$2.00 charge for certain non-US territories/accounts, including, unfortunately, the Philippines)
  • Flipreads.com (epub file) – PHP235.00
  • [iTunes and Barnes & Noble/Nook editions to follow]

I hope that by now you’re all excited to get your hands on the book (or, rather, the hardware holding the file), and if so, thank you and what are you waiting for? If you’re still on the fence even after the preview of our contributor and story introductions, and our author interviews (Raissa, Mo, Eliza), then read on (or download the press release here)!

As a celebration of today’s launch, I’d like to give you a glimpse of some of the non-fiction segments of the book, as well as the wonderful artwork of Mervin Malonzo, creator of “Tabi Po“. You’ve already seen the beautiful cover Mervin made for us, but you may not have realized he’s also doing internal artwork as well. Each book is graced with eleven original illustrations by Mervin, where he gives his spin on eleven of the most interesting gods and goddesses of Philippine mythology. I don’t want to give too much away, so here’s a montage-teaser using elements from all eleven pieces:

After the cut: one full sample of Mervin’s interior artwork, the full text of the book’s introduction, and excerpts from my interviews with Professor Herminia Meñez Coben and Fernando N. Zialcita.

Read the rest of this entry »

Alternative Alamat: Table of Contents

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 13 - 2011

It gives me great pleasure to finally be able to announce the table of contents of our first commercial anthology “Alternative Alamat: Stories Inspired by Philippine Mythology”. It’s been a long road, but I’ve enjoyed every step of the way. The book will be digital-only for now, and will be published in cooperation with Flipside Digital before the end of the year. I’ll be releasing more information about the anthology in the coming weeks.

“Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St.” by Eliza Victoria

“Harinuo’s Love Song” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

“The Last Full Show” by Budjette Tan

“The Alipin’s Tale” by Raymond G. Falgui

“Keeper of My Sky” by Timothy James Dimacali

“Conquering Makiling” by Mo Francisco

“The Sorceress Queen” by Raissa Rivera Falgui

“Beneath The Acacia” by Celestine Trinidad

“Offerings to Aman Sinaya” by Andrei Tupaz

“Balat, Buwan, Ngalan” by David Hontiveros

“A Door Opens:  The Beginning of the Fall of the Ispancialo-in-Hinirang” by Dean Alfar

Appendix A: A Few Notable Philippine Deities

Appendix B: Interview with Professor Herminia Meñez Coben

Appendix C: Interview with Professor Fernando N. Zialcita

Appendix D: On Researching Philippine Mythology

Cover and interior artwork by Mervin Malonzo

All of the pieces for the third set of stories at PGS Online, co-edited by Kenneth Yu and Dean Alfar, have been uploaded to the site. If you haven’t read them yet, here they are (click on the image to go to the story):

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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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