Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Plug: Filipino Authors, Submit to Lightspeed and Fantasy Magazine

Just giving a shout-out to Lightspeed Magazine and Fantasy Magazine. Their guidelines are here and here respectively. The editor has informed me that they haven't been getting a lot of submissions from this part of the world so Filipino authors, go submit!

Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 7 Call for Submissions

Editors Alex and Kate Osias invite you to submit short fiction for consideration for Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 7.

Philippine Speculative Fiction is a yearly anthology series, which collects a wide range of stories that define, explore, and sometimes blur the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all things in between. The anthology has been shortlisted for the Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award, and multiple stories from each volume have been cited in roundups of the year’s best speculative fiction across the globe.

First-time authors are more than welcome to submit; good stories trump literary credentials any time.

Submissions must be:

1. speculative fiction—i.e., they must contain strong elements or sensibilities of science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, alternate history, folklore, superheroes, and/or related ‘nonrealist’ genres and subgenres
2. written in English
3. authored by persons of Philippine ethnicity and/or nationality

Submissions are preferred to be:

1. original and unpublished
2. no shorter than 1,000 words and no longer than 7,500
3. written for an adult audience
In all cases, these preferences can be easily overturned by exceptionally well-written pieces. In the case of previously-published work—if accepted, the author will be expected to secure permission to reprint, if necessary, from the original publishing entity, and to provide relevant publication information.

Submission details:

1. No multiple or simultaneous submissions—i.e., submit only one story, and do not submit that story to any other publishing market until you have received a letter of regret from us. We don’t mind if you submit to contests.
2. All submissions should be in Rich Text Format (saved under the file extension ‘.rtf’), and emailed to kate.osias at gmail.com, with the subject line ‘PSF7 submission’.
3. The deadline for submissions is midnight, Manila time, September 30, 2011. Letters of acceptance or regret will be sent out no later than one month after the deadline.

Editors’ notes:

1. Please don’t forget to indicate your real name in the submission email! If you want to write under a pseudonym, that’s fine, but this can be discussed upon story acceptance. Initially, we just need to know who we’re talking to.
2. If you’d like to write a cover letter with your brief bio and publishing history (if applicable), do feel free to introduce yourself—but not your story, please. If it needs to be explained, it’s probably not ready to be published.
3. We advise authors to avoid fancy formatting—this will just be a waste of your time and ours, since we will, eventually, standardize fonts and everything else to fit our established house style.

There will be compensation for selected stories, but we’ve yet to determine exactly what. In previous years, we’ve provided contributor copies of the book, as well as small royalty shares, but we are considering shifting Philippine Speculative Fiction to digital format, so we may be shifting to outright financial payment as well.

Please help spread the word!

Alex and Kate Osias, co-editors
Dean Alfar, publisher

May 31, 2011 Links and Plugs

This week's Strange Horizons is full of Carol Emshwiller!


Scheherezade's Bequest #13

Monday, May 30, 2011

Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6 Launch Photos

I've always been impressed at how Ellen Datlow uploads the photos she took from various genre-related events so in the spirit of her Flickr account, here's mine (although I didn't take the photos--the credit goes to Kenneth Yu).

May 30, 2011 Links and Plugs

I just want to plug the Coode Street podcast interview with Karen Lord which I think is a very important discussion (dropped calls aside).

EDGE Publishing also has one of its titles up for the Alberta Readers Choice Award, Cinco de Mayo, which you can vote for. 



Dead Red Heart: Australian Vampire Stories edited by Russell B. Farr

Philippine Speculative Fiction 2011 Overload and Random Thoughts

The problem with being unknown in the Philippines is that it's difficult compiling the published speculative fiction in the country. Sure, my author friends send in their stuff, but they're friends so I know about their work. This, compounded by my temporary blindness and house renovations, prevented me from compiling a comprehensive bibliography of what was published last year.

2011 is different, especially since The Philippines Free Press and Philippines Graphic--the two longest weekly publications that publishes short fiction on a regular basis--are now online. Gone are the days of scrounging for copies of the magazines, looking for missing volumes and filing them in chronological order, and then carrying a heavy stack when all you need is the scant few pages of fiction in each issue.

So basically in the span of one Sunday, I managed to catch up on what is presumably majority of published Philippine speculative fiction in the year (so far).

Here's are some random thoughts on the various publications, authors, and fiction:

Spindle: Didn't really source a lot of speculative fiction here (there's Maria Pia Vibar Benosa "What the Chicken Knows (Or, The Eight Stages of Grief)" and Fidelis Tan's "Jars") but as a general reader, it's living up to its name as an online literary journal. Right now poetry is easily its strongest suit but they're experimenting with other formats as well, such as comics.

Philippine Genre Stories: Disclosure: I edited the first issue. Personally, I don't like the genre tagging (as if each story could only fall under one category) but that aside, I'm really excited at what comes out during the rest of the year. With the launch of Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6 over and the end of the Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards, this is the last bastion of local spec fic that'll tide us over for the rest of the year.

The Philippines Free Press: In many ways, the magazine is in a fiction renaissance. Now I didn't read last year's issue but based from what I was reading two years ago, the fiction (speculative fiction or otherwise) this year is a significant improvement in quality. Whether that's due to submissions or the editor, I really don't know, but I can honestly envision the magazine almost standing toe-to-toe with Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6. 18 stories were published so far and seven--easily a third--are speculative fiction stories.

Philippines Graphic: The stories in the publication seem shorter and the quality isn't as strong as its rival, but it's still publishing some interesting stories and is worth monitoring solely because of that fact. 15 stories have been published so far and four of them are speculative fiction.

Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6 edited by Nikki Alfar and Kate Osias: Disclosure: I'm one of the contributors. Easily a favorite in the batch, second only perhaps to Vol. 4 of the series. Unfortunately, the book sold out during the launch, so...

Kristine Ong Muslim: Apparently, this poet/author flew past my radar for the past few years. She's garnered Honorable Mentions in the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror and nominated for the Rhysling Award numerous times. Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of flash fiction, which is what comprises most of her fiction.

Julian dela Cerna: He's recently been published in both The Philippines Free Press and Philippines Graphic and both of his works were speculative fiction stories.

Must-Read Stories: Here's a list of what's been published so far (you can contribute to the database here) and here are what I consider must-read stories for the year.
  • "What You See" by Ian Rosales Casocot (Disclosure: I was editor for this piece); Philippine Genre Stories.
  • "The Expedition" by Pocholo Goitia; The Philippines Free Press.
  • "The NMIACI (The Fourteenth Fool)" by Cezar Ruis Aquino; The Philippines Free Press.
  • "Open Angle" by Daryll Jane Delgado; The Philippines Free Press.
  • "The Sweetness of Women" by Javelyn Ramos; Philippines Graphic.
  • "The Big Man" by Asterio Enrico N. Gutierrez; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
  • "Ashland" by Elyss G. Punsalan; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
  • "From the Book of Names My Mother Did Not Give Me" by Christine V. Lao; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
  • "The Break-in on Batay Street" by Francis Gabriel Concepcion; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
  • "Strange Adventures in Procreation" by Andrew Drilon; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
  • "Hollowbody" by Crystal Koo; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
  • "The Storyteller's Curse" by Eliza Victoria; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.
  • "Simon's Replica" by Dean Francis Alfar; Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Philippine Speculative Fiction 2011 Database

Help me document Philippine speculative fiction published in 2011 by filling out this form (please read and follow instructions). I'm not omniscient, so if you want coverage, please take the initiative to include yourself in the database.

You can view the completed database here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27, 2011 Links and Plugs



Several awesome books from Australia arrived in the mail:

More Scary Kisses edited by Liz Grzyb

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 26, 2011 Links and Plugs



I've been neglectful of my Chomu Press-reviewing duties so here are some of their books:
The Life of Polycrates and Other Stories for Antiquated Children by Brendan Connell

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 25, 2011 Links and Plugs



Happy book release day:
Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011 Links and Plugs




Osama by Lavie Tidhar

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23, 2011 Links and Plugs

Congrats to the 2011 Aurora Award Nominees, 2010 Nebula Awards Winners, and Aurealis Awards Winners.

Also, you should check out Andrew Drilon's latest comic, Pericos Tao at Top Shelf 2.0.

Last but not least is for those in the Philippines, I hope you can come to the Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6 book launch on May 28, 5 pm, at the UView Theater in Fully Booked, The Fort.



In The Time of War & Master of the Road to Nowhere by Carol Emshwiller

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011 Links and Plugs



An A–Z of the Fantastic City by Hal Duncan

Essay: Setting Aside Time for Reflection

Source: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

I'll open with this comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

Have you ever gotten inspiration for a story or solution to a problem while bathing? I have. I attribute this to the fact that bathing is more or less an autonomous task that I can focus my conscious thoughts on reflection.

The same goes for various other activities: running, knitting, washing the dishes, scanning photos and documents... It's also not surprising why these activities are suitable for listening to podcasts.

And that's the opportunity cost here. Whenever I'm engaged in a monotonous activity, I usually have two choices: I can listen to my thoughts or someone else's (whether it's a podcast or music with lyrics). When I was a teenager, I was brooding and contemplative, mainly because I had all the time in the world. I didn't have a lot of friends to hang out with (which is a different story altogether) so I typically spent recess and lunch alone. I also didn't listen to the radio so the trip to and from school was spent on introspection.

That eventually changed when I got a portable media player (PMP). Whether it's podcasts or Japanese music, I don't have to spend my solitary moments with my thoughts. Except when bathing. I wouldn't want to wreck my iPod Touch.

It's not just music that keeps us from reflection. It can be engrossing ourselves with work. Or video games. Or media (whether it's television or film). We might drown ourselves in alcohol or drugs. Or simply embrace lethargy and sleep and eat, sleep and eat.

That's not to say reflection is the ultimate form of transcendence. The threat to one's sanity with solitary confinement isn't just the lack of social interaction, but the fact that we have nothing else to do but contemplate. Too much introspection and we might end up focusing on the possibilities and what-ifs instead of the reality at hand. Or we might be seduced by the allure of theorycrafting and imagining events without backing it up with action.

Still, for the most part, I think reflection is an important part of our lives. It can be a scary experience but it also be enlightening. As a communicator--and not just a writer--I think it's important that we be able to articulate our thoughts, opinions, and emotions. Reflection helps us with that. And we need to set aside time for it. It's all too easy to get wrapped up with our other priorities.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 18, 2011 Links and Plugs



Southern Fried Weirdness: Reconstruction by T.J. McIntyre

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Essay: Persistence

"One thing I think about, as I work on this writing career of mine, is that anything worth building takes time. Consistent action over time, specifically." - Theodora Goss

I was just reading Shelly Li's old (by Internet years) blog entry entitled "Best of Luck Elsewhere" and she mentions something we've all heard before: the road to publication is paved with rejection slips and takes time. (It is, of course, possible to get published in your first try and I've interviewed some authors wherein that's the case; they're the exception rather than the norm though and let me be the first person to tell you that I'm not exceptional.) Li speaks wise words. I'm even more impressed that this is coming from someone who's ten years my junior and has a prolific bibliography to back it up. (What was I doing when I was eighteen? Not writing fiction, that's what.)

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Theodora Goss who's celebrating 40,000 hits on her site after four months of blogging (Congrats Dora!). Now Goss is a talented writer (she's a big influence on how I read and write speculative fiction) and I'm surprised she hasn't garnered a huge blog following (if I could give her my own readership, I would, because she's that deserving). But just like anything else, it takes time to build an audience. Last month I had 6,000 visitors, but I've also been blogging for a long time (my old Pitas blog is apparently still up). During my first three years of blogging, I barely had an audience. It's only in the last three years that people have started to notice me (and even then, it's mostly a US audience rather than a local one).

And personally, fiction-wise, I had to be persistent as well. My fiction was recently accepted for Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 6 and in fact my stories were were published as far back as Vol. 3. What you haven't heard is how I was already submitting stories since Vol. 1 (and other anthologies as well) but got rejected. It was only during my third year (third time's the charm?) that everything came into place and my story was polished enough not to get rejected.

The SF&F Short Story Collection Meme

I love the short story format and the problem with a lot of the book memes circulating is that they exclusively focus on novels. I've done some crowd sourcing (and some personal recommendations of course--this list isn't meant to be objective) and I've come up with a list of 166 short story collections.

The usual rules apply: bold those that you've read and italicize those that you own but haven't read.

1. The Monkey’s Wedding and Other Stories by Joan Aiken
2. Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
3. The Kite of Stars and Other Stories by Dean Francis Alfar
4. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
5. Black Projects, White Knights by Kage Baker
6. The Best of J. G. Ballard by J.G. Ballard
7. Perpetuity Blues and Other Stories by Neal Barrett, Jr.
8. The Imago Sequence and Other Stories by Laird Barron
9. Occultation by Laird Barron
10. Mirror Kingdoms: The Best of Peter S. Beagle
11. The Collected Stories of Greg Bear by Greg Bear
12. The Chains That You Refuse by Elizabeth Bear
13. The Girl With The Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender
14. Lord Stink & Other Stories by Judith Berman
15. Trysts: A Triskaidecollection of Queer and Weird Stories by Steve Berman
16. A Book of Endings by Deborah Biancotti
17. Blooded on Arachne by Michael Bishop
18. One Winter in Eden by Michael Bishop
19. The Poison Eaters & Other Stories by Holly Black
20. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings by Jorge Luis Borges
21. From the Files of the Time Rangers by Richard Bowes
22. Streetcar Dreams by Richard Bowes
23. The Stories of Ray Bradbury by Ray Bradbury
24. Graveyard People: The Collected Cedar Hill Stories by Gary Braunbeck
25. Home before Dark: The Collected Cedar Hill Stories by Gary Braunbeck
26. Particle Theory by Edward Bryant
27. Tides from the New Worlds by Tobias S. Buckell
28. Bloodchild and Other Stories By Octavia E. Butler
29. Dirty Work: Stories by Pat Cadigan
30. The Night We Buried Road Dog by Jack Cady
31. The Panic Hand by Jonathan Carroll
32. Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories by Angela Carter
33. Fireworks: Nine Stories in Various Disguises by Angela Carter
34. The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories by Angela Carter
35. The Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
36. The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke by Arthur C. Clarke
37. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke
38. Novelties & Souvenirs, Collected Short Fiction by John Crowley
39. The Avram Davidson Treasury by Avram Davidson
40. The Enquiries of Dr. Eszterhazy by Avram Davidson
41. Driftglass: Ten Tales of Speculative Fiction by Samuel R. Delany
42. We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick
43. Strange Days: Fabulous Journeys with Gardner Dozois by Gardner Dozois
44. Beluthahatchie by Andy Duncan
45. What Will Come After by Scott Edelman
46. Axiomatic by Greg Egan
47. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison
48. The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World by Harlan Ellison
49. Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison
50. The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller by Carol Emshwiller
51. Dangerous Space by Kelley Eskridge
52. Fugue State by Brian Evenson
53. Harsh Oases by Paul Di Filippo
54. The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories by Jeffrey Ford
55. The Empire of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford
56. The Drowned Life by Jeffrey Ford
57. Returning My Sister's Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice by Eugie Foster
58. Artificial Things by Karen Joy Fowler
59. What I Didn't See and Other Stories by Karen Joy Fowler
60. Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
61. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
62. Burning Chrome by William Gibson
63. In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss
64. Take No Prisoners by John Grant
65. A Separate War and Other Stories by Joe Haldeman
66. Last Summer at Mars Hill by Elizabeth Hand
67. Saffron & Brimstone: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand
68. Things That Never Happen by M. John Harrison
69. The Past Through Tomorrow by Robert Heinlein
70. 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
71. Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson
72. The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard
73. The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
74. Unexpected Magics: Collected Stories by Diana Wynne Jones
75. Minor Arcana by Diana Wynne Jones
76. Grazing the Long Acre by Gwyneth Jones
77. The Wreck of the Godspeed and Other Stories by James Patrick Kelly
78. The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories by John Kessel
79. Night Shift by Stephen King
80. Different Seasons by Stephen King
81. Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King
82. Portable Childhoods by Ellen Klages
83. Scenting the Dark and Other Stories by Mary Robinette Kowal
84. Nano Comes to Clifford Falls and Other Stories by Nancy Kress
85. Nine Hundred Grandmothers by R.A. Lafferty
86. Objects of Worship by Claude Lalumiere
87. Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
88. Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan
89. Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan
90. Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters by John Langan
91. The Best of Joe R. Lansdale by Joe R. Lansdale
92. The Wind's Twelve Quarters by Ursula K. Le Guin
93. The Compass Rose by Ursula K. Le Guin
94. The Birthday of the World and Other Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin
95. Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer by Tanith Lee
96. The First Book of Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber
97. The Second Book of Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber
98. The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti
99. Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
100. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
101. Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors by Livia Llewellyn
102. H. P. Lovecraft: Tales by H.P. Lovecraft
103. Breathmoss and other Exhalations by Ian R. MacLeod
104. You Might Sleep by Nick Mamatas
105. Dreamsongs: A RRetrospective by George R. R. Martin
106. The Invisible Country by Paul McAuley
107. Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia McKillip
108. The Bone Key by Sarah Monette
109. The Best of Michael Moorcock by Michael Moorcock
110. Black God's Kiss by C.L. Moore
111. The Cat's Pajamas and Other Stories by James Morrow
112. Dreams of the Compass Rose by Vera Nazarian
113. Unforgivable Stories by Kim Newman
114. The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club by Kim Newman
115. The Original Dr. Shade and Other Stories by Kim Newman
116. Monstrous Affections by David Nickle
117. The Best of Larry Niven by Larry Niven
118. I Am No One You Know: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates
119. The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor
120. Zoo by Otsuichi
121. Lesser Demons by Norman Partridge
122. Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales by Norman Partridge
123. Night Moves and Other Stories by Tim Powers
124. Little Gods by Tim Pratt
125. Map of Dreams by M. Rickert
126. Holiday by M. Rickert
127. The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson by Kim Stanley Robinson
128. The Ant King and Other Stories by Benjamin Rosenbaum
129. Unacceptable Behaviour by Penelope Rowe
130. The Adventures of Alyx by Joanna Russ
131. Long Walks, Last Flights, and Other Journeys by Ken Scholes
132. Filter House by Nisi Shawl
133. Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical by Rob Shearman
134. The Jaguar Hunter by Lucius Shepard
135. Trujillo and Other Stories by Lucius Shepard
136. Phases of the Moon: Stories from Six Decades by Robert Silverberg
137. Are You There and Other Stories by Jack Skillingstead
138. The Girl With No Hands and Other Tales by Angela Slatter
139. Crystal Express by Bruce Sterling
140. Ascendancies: The Best of Bruce Sterling
141. Houses Without Doors by Peter Straub
142. Magic Terror: 7 Tales by Peter Straub
143. Absolute Uncertainty by Lucy Sussex
144. The Best of Michael Swanwick by Michael Swanwick
145. Gravity's Angels: 13 Stories by Michael Swanwick
146. Monterra's Deliciosa & Other Tales & by Anna Tambour
147. The Ice Downstream by Melanie Tem
148. The Far Side of the Lake by Steve Rasnic Tem
149. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr.
150. Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home by James Tiptree, Jr.
151. In the Mean Time by Paul Tremblay
152. My Pathology by Lisa Tuttle
153. Ventriloquism by Catherynne M. Valente
154. The Jack Vance Reader by Jack Vance
155. City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
156. The Third Bear by Jeff VanderMeer
157. Strange Things in Close-up; the Nearly Complete Howard Waldrop
158. Dead Sea Fruit by Kaaron Warren
159. Everland and Other Stories by Paul Witcover
160. The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories by Gene Wolfe
161. The Very Best of Gene Wolfe by Gene Wolfe
162. Impossible Things by Connie Willis
163. Fire Watch by Connie Willis
164. The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth and Other Stories by Roger Zelazny
165. Impossible Stories by Zoran Zivkovic
166. The Writer, The Book, The Reader by Zoran Zivkovic

Essay: Goals

It's been my experience that people's goals fall into one of three categories.

The first are long-term goals. They can be abstract ("I want to be rich") or concrete ("I want $1,000,000 at the end of ten years"). They can affect the world ("I want to eliminate poverty") or they can be centered in your little corner of the universe ("I want to live in luxury with my family").

Our long-term goal(s) defines who we are, although not necessarily consciously. If you've ever had a mid-life crisis and question what your purpose in life is, a long-term goal can provide you with that satisfaction. Similarly, long-term goals can manifest itself in other terms like religion, faith, purpose, calling, politics, or agenda.

A person's long-term goal isn't readily apparent. I think every person starts out with the same objective: finding out what our long-term goal will be. There's no definite time frame for this. Some people discover their answer at age ten. Others at age forty. During this time, we're focused on the process of discovery rather than fulfilling a specific agenda.

By their nature, long term goals are difficult to achieve and we won't see results immediately. That's both good and bad: on one hand, we'll always have something next to drive us forward. On the other hand, it can be a frustrating experience as we don't get to experience tangible results (although completing short-term goals related to your long-term goal can be satisfying). It's also entirely possible that we may never achieve our long-term goal but at the end of the day, it's the striving that matters.

For example, in my case, my current long-term goal is to a) promote Philippine speculative fiction, and b) be involved in the publishing industry in some way. The former has been constant (although I might change it in the future to be more inclusive of others). The latter has honestly changed over time: before I wanted to have x books published by year xx. It's altered mainly due to my current activities and relation to my first goal. I don't mind being an editor and nurturing other talent for example. When I need to get my life back on track, I recall my long-term goal.

The second are short-term goals (note that I use short term relative to long term: a short term goal can take a year to complete for example). They can be arbitrary goals ("Earn enough money to buy an iPad") or they can be related to our long-term goal ("Finish writing this short story").

Short-term goals can be very fulfilling, especially when we achieve them. They're usually how we measure our success. Problems crop up when we have too little short-term goals that are related with our long-term goal. For example, as terrific as winning ten consecutive games in Starcraft 2 feels, it honestly won't help me in my goal of establishing a career in speculative fiction. Another problem is misinterpreting how important our current short-term goals to our long-term goals are. For example, in my case, is conducting my nth author interview really helping me as a writer? (It might or it might not. Distinguishing the point when it does and doesn't is important though, and some people still continue pursuing an activity even if it's now irrelevant to their goal.) Or we could simply be swamped with too many pressing short-term goals (i.e. work) that we lose sight of the bigger picture.

I think it's entirely possible to live a happy life simply by completing a lot of short-term goals that are unrelated to your long-term goal. When you stop to reflect, however, you might not be satisfied with what you discover.

The third kind of goal is what I'd classify as a "side quest". It's not quite a short-term goal (it can't be completed immediately) but it's not as essential as a long-term goal. For example, in my case, this takes the form of romance. Despite my rants for the past month, I'm fine living the life of a bachelor (and I've even imagined dying single). But when someone interesting comes into my life, courtship takes on the form of a long-term goal (and anyone in a relationship knows it doesn't end with marriage) and there are various short-term goals I know that I need to take (first date, second date, etc.).

Unlike long-term goals, it's possible to quickly meet failure with "side quests". Again, it's not essential to who you are, but on the other hand, failure in this endeavor can feel just as devastating (and this isn't just failure as a short-term goal but failure in a series of short-term goals). On the other hand, this can morph into a long-term goal (not applicable to romance but some other "side quest" such as the charity you're a patron of taking up much of your life).

What are your goals? How does it come into play as a reader and/or writer?

May 17, 2011 Links and Plugs



Blackgate #15

Monday, May 16, 2011

Plug: My Books in Print 2010/2011

The problem with plugging other people's books is that I seldom get to plug mine. :) And the problem with a lot of my stories being in print is that people can't read them online (I do have one story, "A Retrospective on Diseases for Sale", up on Anna Tambour's lovely website [check out the other stories there]). And promoting my print publications is a bit problematic mainly because a lot of my readers are in the US while my books are only available here in the Philippines (believe me, I wish I was popular here but that's not the case).

Recently however, I did mange to get two books published in the US recently (well, one last year and one this year):

The Dragon and the Stars edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi

21st Century Gothic edited by Danel Olson

Did I mention that my fellow contributors in both books are awesome? (The Dragon and the Stars is fiction while 21st Century Gothic nonfiction.)

With regards to 21st Century Gothic, editor Danel Olson wrote to inform me that the book is also available in the following libraries (so you don't have to buy it, you can borrow it):

Uni of Auckland, NZ
Uni of Melbourne, AUST.
Simon Fraser Univ, CAN
Uni of Toronto
Uni of Southern California
Ohio Uni
Uni of Wisconsin
George Mason Uni
Uni of Pennsylvania
Texas A & M
Uni of Texas - Austin
Washington Uni
Emory Uni
Indiana Uni
Rollins Coll
Iowa State Uni
Miami Uni
UNC-Chapel Hill
U of Illinois-Chicago
Notre Dame

Twitter Transcript: eBooks and Education in the Philippines

Here's a transcript of a twitter conversation I had with Honey de Peralta and Carljoe Javier:

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan But for educ publishing, I think tablets are the way to go.

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 my problem with tablets and educ publishing is that the former is too expensive

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan The Ipad is, yes. But not so much for the other tablets being distributed now to some private schools.

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan Ereaders can't do much in basic ed. I know they didn't even do much for higher ed.

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 even the generic tablets are still a bit too expensive; it's not eReaders per se but eBook formats (ePub, Mobi) that's limited

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 I've written essays on limitations of the format & why they're horrible for anything but (most) fiction

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 ePub on an iPad is still crap for example for higher ed

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan Yup, but I'm talking not abt. the entire educ market. Only the specific section that is demanding digital textbooks.

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan That's why I go for tablets. Bec. what you need is not a plain ebook but something that will support interactivity. Otherwise,

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan ... go with print book. Considering what happens in a classroom, print is still superior to a flat ebook.

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 I think print is superior right now mainly because of economic feasibility (cheaper to use/distribute print)

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 & interactive textbooks still need to be developed; (gov't in question also not paying royalties for textbooks)

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan Not just economics, if you're talking about print vs. flat ebooks. It's how the book is used in education.

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan Print textbooks are more interactive than flat ebooks (mobi, epub, pdf, etc.). W/c is why if you're going to use a device...

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan for educ, interactive textbooks are what you need.

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 eBooks can be more interactive than print but needs to be developed; http://bit.ly/mhJY23 good example of limitations/uses

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 also this kind of eBook http://www.ted.com/talks/mike_matas.html

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan Yup. Few people in educ understand what an interactive textbook is.That is actually our problem--getting them to understand.

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan They want an ebook. We tell them it's a waste of the technology or the device. But they don't understand what we mean by apps.

carljavier: @fantaghiro23 i've just been reading your exchange. but haha funny, people not understanding. I remember the FotB conf last year

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 @carljavier The problem is that people seldom think of "design" (whether it's books or website or something else) as important

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 it's not just important to think about creating an interactive textbook, it's about designing it to be conducive to learning

carljavier: @charlesatan @fantaghiro23 i agree charles. I think it's not just about designing books though but designing experiences.

carljavier: @fantaghiro23 problem of it all is that they want it but they don't understand the tech, the format, and what it can do

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan @carljavier Exactly, Carl. If you only knew what the schools are asking for now and how it is to make them understand...

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan @carljavier what they're really asking for and its implications.

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 from the Gov't vid I saw, they don't even understand basic copyright laws, let alone practical requirements of a classroom

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 the problem is gov't is actually a reflection of the public; public isn't smarter about it either & parrot the West

charlesatan: @carljavier unfortunately the public is just as ignorant as gov't @fantaghiro23

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan @carljavier The govt is only one, and they're not even the aggressive one. It's also the private sector who's also ignorant.

charlesatan: @carljavier & some techies are too focused on the specs rather than design/experience @fantaghiro23

carljavier: @charlesatan yup i think we got the same frustrations. people more interested in specs on one end and not knowing anything on the other

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan @carljavier Agreed. Techies here talk about what it can do, not abt how they can adapt it to fit the educ'l experience.

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 @carljavier "Simply distributing the device w/o evaluation of how the course might be modified for its use limits the impact.”

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 @carljavier source: http://bit.ly/mhJY23

carljavier: i also believe that people will pay. i prefer to pay for my ebooks. it's a matter of cultivating a culture

carljavier: designing experiences, not shoehorning a gadget into a faulty public school system, but seeing it as a tool towards redesigning the system

fantaghiro23: @carljavier Not just public school system, Carl. Private schools are just as guilty.

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 as I said, symptom of both gov't and public; big hurdle to overcome; mass ignorance @carljavier

carljavier: @fantaghiro23 agree not just public schools, whole system. was just using it as example :) but we need to design around the tools

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan Tell me about it. Difficult as developer bec. there are many forces influencing you. @carljavier

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 @carljavier best analogy for public is that it's like a DVD; it can have special features but moot if it doesn't have 'em

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan Actually, come to think abt it, it's not the entire public, but the decision-makers who lack understanding. @carljavier

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan For instance, some rank and file people understand the implications. But administrators have their own agenda. @carljavier

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 @carljavier depends; I still think majority don't understand implications, although there are a few that do

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan @carljavier Yes, majority don't understand. But the ones who really shld understand are the decision-makers. 'Cept they don't.

charlesatan: @fantaghiro23 @carljavier we're a culture that in general, doesn't appreciate good design until we see/experience it

fantaghiro23: @charlesatan @carljavier That's it. Someone has to take a risk, design a good product, and market it like hell. Then people will see.

carljavier: @fantaghiro23 @charlesatan right running off but thinking there has to be infrastructure, a knowledge base, for innovations to be successful

Plug: Philippine Genre Stories Online

Philippine Genre Stories, one of the local publishers of speculative fiction, transitioned into an online venue last month. I guest-edited the first issue (a new story is released every few weeks) and all three stories I picked are now up:
I hope people give these stories a chance (you don't have to like them but hopefully you get to read them). These are all original stories (unlike my previous projects which were reprints) and hopefully the first of many.

Here's artwork for "Kapre: A Love Story" by Kokoy Polidario:

May 16, 2011 Links and Plugs

Apologies for last Friday but Blogger denied me the ability to post updates.



Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Essay: Miscellaneous Real Life Insights (feel free to skip as it's not book-related)

My life tends to revolve around two phases. One phase involves telling people "I'm busy" (I really am) and focusing on various projects and work that I'm involved with. I spend most of my free time reading and writing, and the occasional Saturday outing with my gaming group. The other phase is the complete opposite: I yearn for company and start calling old friends. It might involve dinner, a simple chat, or some other communal activity. The former tends to be more common than the latter, as it usually takes just a few instances of going out before I resume my hermetic lifestyle once again.

I met my crush during my phase of reaching out to old friends. I wasn't expecting it (whoever plans to fall in love?) but the entire experience is heightened by my mood at the time, exposing the loneliness that engulfs most of my waking hours.

(Having said that, it also exposed my lack of social skills, and the fact that it's sometimes harder to rekindle old friendships than it is to make new friends from strangers.)

Whenever I mention my broken heart to friends, they inquire whether the rejection was difficult. Well, considering that for my previous crush half a decade ago, I experienced receiving the silent treatment for a year or two (even after walking with her for kilometers), had the phone slammed down on me, one of my letters torn into several pieces, and books abandoned in public places for other people to pick up, so having my crush be direct and mention that she's not interested in a relationship outside of platonic friendship actually couldn't be any gentler. But, as I point out, it's a rejection nonetheless, and so my brooding mood. I compare it to the death of someone you love (a friend, a relative, someone important or influential in your life): they can have the most peaceful of deaths or the most glorious demise (if you believe in Valhalla) and while there's a certain comfort in that, it doesn't change the fact that they're dead and so we mourn.

I was talking with my crush and I told her the value of an early rejection is that it hurts less compared to when you break it to them later on, when they've built up all this hope and expectations. That's why I want an honest answer when it comes to such matters, none of the second-guessing or ambiguous signals given by someone who's afraid of hurting the other person's feelings. I don't think you can avoid hurting someone's feelings--a rejection is a rejection--but at least if you're direct with them, they can cope faster, and there's a sense of closure in that chapter of their life rather than perpetuating a constant state that shifts between hope and despair.

Unlike the first time your heart is broken, I know I'll survive this. I have coping mechanisms in place, borne from past experience. Of course there's a cognitive dissonance between what you know and what you feel. I know I'll move on eventually but the day-to-day moments can be full of anxiety.

(Some coping mechanisms feel follow though. I was out late last night, playing DotA with my gaming group, and while it was distracting for the four hours we spent, it didn't feel productive when the game ended. An alcohol binge is the same case.)

Potential is what kills you in the end. You can't help but wonder the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens, even if in reality, that's not how it would have played out (everything is ideal in your imagination). It might make for great stories, but in real life, it's honestly unnecessary self-inflicted anguish. The grass always seems greener from the other side and you never take into account Murphy's Law.