Saturday, December 30, 2006

Author Interviews

Just adding to my database:

Here are some links to mp3 interviews with various authors:

R.A. Salvatore

Jeff Vandermeer

Naomi Novik

Harlan Ellison

Japser Fforde new interview and old interview

Jeffrey Ford

Elizabeth Kostova

Chuck Palahniuk new interview and old interview

Kazuo Ishiguro

Steven Erickson

Lucius Shepard

Susanna Clarke

Clive Barker part 1 and 2

China Mieville

Terry Pratchett part 1 and 2

James Barclay

Terry Goodkind

Dan Simmons

Margaret Weis

.Mov files:

Gene Wolfe

Neil Gaiman 1 and 2

Laurell K. Hamilton 1 and 2

Naomi Novik

Peter S. Beagle

Ellen Datlow

Robert Jordan 1 and 2

George R.R. Martin

Terry Pratchett 1 and 2

Orson Scott Card

Susanna Clarke

Jasper Fforde 1 and 2

China Mieville

Tamora Pierce

William Gibson

Garth Nix

Margaret Weis

Mole People

Just got back from meeting with some people who actually purchase moleskin notebooks on a regular basis, apparently ordering them all the way from Hong Kong and paying twice the price at what's being sold here now by Fully Booked.

Of course one week after the infamous bookstore started importing them, the notebooks are going faster than Starbucks Planners. According to my estimations, supplies of the regular one and the ruled notebook variety should be running out in two weeks time unless Fully Booked restocks. Of course some versions I expect will linger on until 2008. I mean how many people really need Memo Pockets? Or will use the one for Water Color? Just goes to show that you shouldn't order everything in equal quantities.

Technical Difficulties

Perhaps rivaling the disconnectedness brought about by typhoon "Milenyo" is Taiwan's recent earthquake. The Internet isn't stable, or rather there are some sites I have trouble accessing. Such as Google and its affiliates (which unfortunate includes Blogger.

Of course I was talking to a friend a few hours ago and her problems are the opposite: Google's just fine. It's Yahoo that she has problems with. And for some time, I couldn't access the servers I go to for chat rooms.

Hopefully 2007 will be better for everyone.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Delusional in December

So I have a cold/migraine ever since yesterday. Perhaps it was getting caught in the rain while doing my Christmas shopping last Thursday. Or the Christmas party last Friday. Or going out last Saturday when you weren't feeling 100%. But that's life and while Banzai Cat will be spending Christmas in bed, I'll be spending it in my sick bed.

Oh and if you got weird text messages from me during Christmas, that's what I get for sending text messages amidst hallucinations and hunger.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

To Aspiring Writers/Artists Part 2

Dear _______,

If you didn't like my previous letter, then you won't like this one as well. No one ever said the path of a writer would ever be easy. However, I will give you one consolation. It's okay to get hurt by criticism. Everybody gets hurt--it's an instinct, an emotion. Even the best of writers get hurt by critics. Some even go as far as channeling this pain into their work. I'm not telling you to deny yourself of this pain. What I am telling you, however, is how to react after the pain. At the end of the day, it's not about you: it's about your work, your craft, your vocation. If there's anything that makes people remarkable, it's our ability to grow, to mature, to learn. In the end, that's what criticism is about: improving one's writing, honing one's skills.

Before I begin talking about criticism, it's only relevant if you know who your audience are. And writers should, even if it's only at a fundamental level, know who they're writing for. If you're writing only for yourself, then criticism from other people is moot. Feel free to disregard this letter. But more often than not, writers will write for an audience other than themselves. Be careful to note that there is a distinction from a writer saying "I will only write this for myself" from "I will write a story I can enjoy". The former is only concerned with themselves. The latter, while placing himself at the top of his priority list, still has other people in mind when writing.

Not all criticism is constructive. Not all points criticism shouldn't be heeded. But that's not to say we should ignore criticism. Who to listen to and who to ignore? That's why knowing your audience is important. When somebody critics your work, more important than them liking or disliking it, the foremost question in your mind should be why. Why do they like this story? Why do they hate it? It is only in asking the question of why does criticism become constructive. No one progresses from a comment like"this story is horrible". A writer can grow, however, if it is stated why the reader thinks the story is horrible. And when we listen to their reasons, we find out if they are indeed our audience or not.

Some writers, even successful ones, will tell you to ignore reviews, to ignore criticism, to even ignore editors. That's only true under one of a few conditions: if you're confident in your talent and skill or if you're only writing for yourself. The latter is easier to explain. You can come up with what others might deem horrible writing, but if you're honestly just writing for yourself, why should you care? The former is more ambiguous. How can you tell if your skill has already been polished? Ego plays a part. Not all published writers are good writers. But some do mistake popularity for skill, or publication for talent. One can easily claim that their writing is polished enough already and pursue publication. But there are also others who continue to re-evaluate and constantly seek improvement. I'd choose the latter, because that is the path of growth. However, a writer must at some point possess the same decisiveness as the former. One can get caught up in perpetual revision that your text never comes out.

In the end, I am writing this letter for the writers who want to grow. If you attend a workshop, you're admitting to yourself that 1) there's room for improvement and 2) the people attending the workshop have something relevant to say. The same goes when you solicit comments from other people. It's your choice what to do with unsolicited advice, but like I said in my previous letter, if you're asking for honest criticism, do not get angry at the person for giving you actual criticism. With every endeavor comes pain and disappointment, and writing is no exception.



Saturday, December 23, 2006

To Aspiring (and Even "Professional") Writers/Artists

Dear _______,

Please be aware the criticism is part of the craft, just as praises and awards are. If you can't take criticism, don't write publish. And while every point of criticism should be taken with a grain of salt, that's not to say that every point argued against your work isn't valid of constructive. If you can't take constructive criticism, then you can say goodbye to workshops, editors, and honest reactions from readers and writers alike.

Also please be informed that when you ask somebody to review your work, that means that they can point out your weaknesses as well as strengths, and to not be angry at them for pointing the said flaws. It's one thing to receive unwarranted criticism, it's another to ask someone else to look at your work, and be mad at them for giving an honest--if unflattering--opinion. Readers are not yes-men nor are they idiots, even if they are your "friends".



Thursday, December 21, 2006

Moleskine Notebooks

Aside from the ever-elusive Copic Markers, Fully Booked is now stocking Moleskine notebooks. Not that anyone I know will be interested... (Neil Gaiman uses them)

Too Many Accessories

I'm not a fashion guy (I'm not metrosexual). Given the choice between practicality or aesthetics, I'd take the former any day. If I'm complaining about accessories, it's probably because the cyborg culture theory is catching up to me.

One of the legacies of the random bombings a few years ago is that mall security is still relatively strict. The strictest so far is still the Podium. There's an actual metal detector (or at least that's what it looks like it's suppoed to do) at the entrances in addition to the frisking. There's an occasional security dog from time to time (or is that Mega Mall?). I cannot stress how much of an inconvenience it is to enter the Podium because I have to unload all my electronics into a basket, and the amount of electronics I carry far exceeds the size of my palm.

First off are my two mobile phones, one for Globe, one for Smart. If I had a choice, I'd throw both phones into the ocean, but it's required for work (and for people who do not pay me but require me to produce the same output as work... some people know them as "family", others as organizations, clubs, friends, and my current gaming group).

Second is my Creative Zen: Vision M mp3 player. You'd be surprised at how much my output has doubled because of the thing (not because it plays music but how I can listen to PodCasts and videos while waiting for meetings, as well as acting as a voice recorder). Oh, and I can view porn on it too (but alas, it does not allow me to read e-books or manga) assuming I owned porn to begin with.

Third is my flash drive. I used to place it in the same pouch as my mp3 player (since it's easy to loose that tiny device) except I just bought a 4 GB model the other day (I'd buy the 16 GB model if somebody would actually import them to the Philippines) and it came with a strap. While I eschew the wearing of ID's, the same cannot be said for flash drives. So now I have a flash drive dangling by my neck (and making sure it does not get tangled with my earphones).

Somebody should write a fashion article on tech accessories. I'm not yet one of the borg, but you know what they say, "resistance is futile".

I'm just waiting for somebody to import e-book readers so I can read porn my manga and my pdf files on the go.


I feel like I've been isolated from the world and just crawled out of a cave.

Back in college, I was part of this non-accredited (i.e. unofficial) organization called Comic Collective. I don't think I need to elaborate what exactly the interests of the organization was. Anyway, the president of the org back then was TinTin Pantoja. It's only today that I found out, from a stray email from Elbert (the Comic Collective's president two years after TinTin) that TinTin is doing some work for TokyoPop (moral lesson of the day: read your email!).

Of course how I originally met TinTin is a story in itself...

Long Lines

No, I'm not talking about the lines of Christmas shopping (although yes, they are long, and traffic is horrible... it's a good thing I walk).

I managed to drop by Mega Mall today and discovered that the Krispy Kreme branch (in between Goldilocks and Pizza Hut on the ground floor) has finally opened. And it's the longest line I've seen (but then again, it's a really small shop). It reminds me of the days when Zagu first opened, or when Gonuts Donuts first popped up.

Not that I'd be buying donuts anytime soon. I'm allergic to food you know.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mission and Vision

I'm a product of 17 (yes, seventeen!) years of Jesuit education and the term "mission and vision" has been ingrained into me. What's the school's mission and vision? What's the club's mission and vision? Even in college, the organizations had to have a mission and vision. And since these were Jesuits who demanded that we have a mission and vision, the "mission and vision" had to be socially relevant and not insular.

Of course to those out there in "the real world", the concept is laughable. Mission and vision, what's that? Last year, there were some students who came to our offices, asking if our boss could be interviewed and asking what the magazine's mission and vision was. One of our former editorial assistant's laughed and said the publication had no mission and vision. We existed to make our boss rich.

On the surface, that's true. Business and companies and organizations exist for their own sake, usually for the sake of profit. Why are we in jobs? Again, on the surface-level, the answer is probably for selfish reasons: for our own sakes, so that we can earn money, so that we can get by in the world. Yet this answer did not satisfy me--not because I disliked the answer that I was seeing, but because I saw something more.

I think every corporation, every business entity, even every human being has a mission and vision. It might not always be socially relevant in the sense that it affects the community, and it doesn't always operate on a conscious level, but it's there. I mean my boss, while seemingly always on the lookout to save money or to earn money, nonetheless has standards. There are some things which he won't comprise on, such as the magazine's photos and art. If the magazine I was working for had a mission and vision (and on a subconscious level, it does), it would be aesthetics. And this just doesn't apply to my company. Bookstores, for example, operate on the belief that people will read. The cause it supports, even indirectly, is literacy.

Of course what brought about this realization is something closer to home. A few months ago, I'd game at a friend's house in San Juan. He'd offer to bring us dinner because it was near his grandfather's restaurant. His grandfather, upon starting the restaurant, swore that no one in his family would starve. Thus my friend always had free food (if he so obliged) whenever he was in the area. And this wasn't a unique case. Another friend of mine (part of the gaming circle I'm with) also had a grandfather who used to be a farmer and promised that the family would always have rice (unfortunely, it only applies to rice and not the wide menu of an entire restaurant unlike my other friend).

Brain Drain

It's amazing what a lack of Internet access can do for your imagination. Or in my case, sheer impotence in updating my own blog.

Updates on my Internet connectivity: Monday, I managed to get through to PLDT. Their networks seem to be fine, it's either our cables or our modem that seems to be having problems. They'll be sending a guy to see what's wrong, but you know, waiting for them to actually arrive will probably inspire me to write the next Waiting for Godot.

Of course come Tuesday, I have access once again to the Internet, albeit sporadic. And today's Wednesday, and with the exception of the early morning, I have sporadic Internet access once again.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Writing Theory

In one of the rare moments when the house actually has Internet (it's going on/off every few seconds), here's a PodCast with author R.A. Salvatore, known for his Drizz't series in Forgotten Realms. What's particularly interesting about the interview is that Salvatore has a different approach to writing. I'd say a more "modern" approach that breaks some of the old rules of writing. Listen to it for yourself to see what I mean.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ink & Stone Book Sale

Last big sale, Dec. 15 - 17, 2006 at Ink & Stone Podium, 15% of regular items, additional 5% off discount holders. Great bargains from P120 up.

Internet-less Limbo

Almost two weeks now since the home DSL has gone down. And yes, it only works when it rains. So if you had a choice of getting PLDT/SMART DSL or something else, I'd choose the latter.

On a side note, it's my last day of work, so I'll be virtually free next week. If anyone wants to meet up, I'm a text message away. I can also bring your Christmas presents like a skinny Santa Clause.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

No Hidden Cameras

For those who missed the Speculative Fiction Vol 2 Launch, here's the mp3 to the event. For the most part, the voices in the foreground is Sage and babysitter Elbert, but just crank up the volume and you can hear Dean and company.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stalking the Spec Fic Vol 2 Book Launch With A Sucky Camera

Taking the lists of names from Dean's preliminary table of contents, here's the cast who was available at the photo op (from left to right, unless you're Chinese, which I am, by the way): Joshua Limso, Russel Stanley Geronimo, "Masked" (sandwiched and "hidden" in between two authors), Joey Nacino, Yvette Tan (must plug my boss), Madeline Rae Ong (hiding behind Yvette... my angle's awful for not catching the pretty people at the launch), Dean Alfar, Oscar Alvarez (a.k.a. Tyron Caliente), Andrew Drilon, Vincent Simulban (we only see his shiny head as he's covered by Alex), Alexander Osias, Kate Aton-Osias, Nikki Alfar, and Jessi Albano (who is protesting the picture).

Oh, and there were eight male authors who showed up, and five of them were bald (by choice). So if anyone needed signatures, I told them to look for the bald men. =)

Witness to Disaster

Because I'm a weak-willed person, I was buying a coworker's food on the street next to Emerald Ave. when I saw one of the pole lines explode. It was a brief explosion, nothing blinding and not the type that would wreak havoc in the area around it, but you knew something had gone wrong.

Five minutes later, I'm back in the office and I discover there's no electricity. And then something clicks in my head. "Oh."

DSL Ironies

I think by now, it should be obvious to anyone that PLDT and its affiliations (i.e. SMART) are the worse people to approach for their DSL services. The only thing going for them is that they are PLDT, and thus you don't need to apply for a separate phone line, and they have a package that's P999.00. Everything else is crap, from the service to your Internet connection.

Of course in a bizarre twist of fate, I had sporadic Internet access last week. How sporadic? Try 4 hours in a 24 time period. And this didn't seem to have been caused by anything. The weather was fine, the sun was out. It's only yesterday that I got a steady Internet connection. Of course the funny thing about yesterday is that it was raining all day.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Singapore Ironies

Friends staying in Singapore are currently going home for the Christmas, while other friends are heading to Singapore for their Christmas vacation. Hmmm...

Farewell Libreria Books

The large bookstore at Tomas Morato will be shutting down soon, so if there's any book you want to take a look at their shelf, I'd suggest doing so now.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

We Don't Need a Cure of Stupidity

There are two kinds of stupid people. Those who acknowledge that they're stupid (hopefully I fall into this category), and those that think they're always right. We don't need to cure stupidity, we just need to cure arrogance.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Classic Pag-Asa

No offense to the country's official weather bureau, but Pag-Asa is what one of my teachers in high school called a joke. They call off classes when so-called storms amount to fledging rain (or worse, sunshine), and allow classes to continue when there's a storm outside. Not that living in a tropical country makes meteorology easy by any means, it's just that we've grown accustomed to believing the opposite of what Pag-Asa declares.

And perhaps that's why Milenyo was such an awful typhoon. It's not that Pag-Asa didn't warn us, but it's the fact that they did. Who knew that their 1/100 forecast would actually come true? How did that old adage go? Even a broken clock will tell the right time.

Classes of course were called off last Thursday in light of an approaching typhoon that's even worse than Milenyo. Of course as far as Metro Manila was concerned, it was simply a windy day with some drizzle. And thankfully, when it was supposed to arrive last Friday, it didn't. Just relatively stronger winds and the DSL going out.

This is what I call classic Pag-Asa, or as far as the Philippines is concerned, all returns to normal. We can't have Pag-Asa predicting the correct weather, right?

A Different Bookstore Discount Cards for Sale

In the lull that was Friday (a holiday and potential threat of a torrential typhoon), I managed to pay a visit to Ink & Stone at the Podium. The new stocks are in. But aside from that, as a Christmas promo, you can now purchase discount cards for P300. Or P200 if you already have one of those cards that needs stamps for every purchase. The mathematician in me calculates that you'll need to spend P3,000 or P2,000 on cash purchases in books to break even so it's a worthwhile investment if you buy that much books.