what i did on my birthday weekend

– Re-read Stephen King’s Pet Sematary

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– Read a bunch of stories from Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year series. (I was in a very horror kind of mood.)

– Watched all 13 episodes of Hataraku Maou-Sama (The Devil Is A Part-Timer). The Dark Lord of Ente Isla and his demon general Alsiel flee an attack by using a portal between worlds. They end up in modern Japan, where there is no magic and everything is expensive. The Dark Lord is forced to work part-time at a fast-food restaurant, while Alsiel stays in their rented apartment, figuring out how to get them back to Ente Isla, do housework, and make sure they’re living within budget.

It’s as crazy, charming, and funny as that summary. I loved it to bits.

– Did an interview with Philippine Star SUPREME about creepypasta, NoSleep, and online storytelling. [Read: “The new weird” by Don Jaucian]

– Ate a bowl of Ramen and sea salt caramel chocolate mousse.

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– Received cake, a black balloon, and a bag of treats from my lovely colleagues.

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– Received cake from my siblings.

– Ate a lot of cake.

Flashback:

– Attended the second Usapang May-Akda, featuring Emiliana Kampilan of Dead Balagtas.

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– Bought a new copy of elsewhere held and lingered and had it signed by the author. Happiness.

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– Jaykie and his drawings.

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mibf ’14 + visprint book signing at precious pages

I’m happy to be back at the Manila International Book Fair this year!

It coincided with SM Mall of Asia’s three-day sale, so we decided to head there early — really early — and have breakfast before joining the crowd.

MIBF 2014

MIBF 2014

J had to head elsewhere first, so I walked to SMX from the restaurant. Good thing I chanced upon table-mate Ferdinand Pisigan Jarin (Anim na Sabado ng Beyblade, Visprint, 2013). We walked to the venue together.

Happy for the nameplate, but I still got asked where the registration table was. Haha!

MIBF 2014

I was happy to meet the readers. One of them, Mira, brought us some sweets!

Mira took this lovely photo of me and J at the Visprint table.

MIBF 2014

Tricia and her friend came armed with an Instax camera, which was very cool, and made me very jealous.

Ivy took a nice photo of me.

We stayed at the table until half-past 11.

Look at the crowd.

MIBF 2014

MIBF 2014

MIBF 2014

MIBF 2014

Got these beauties from the Visprint rack at Precious Pages. Till next year!

MIBF 2014

reading progress

Having just wrapped up some personal writing projects, I went back to my woefully neglected reading pile.

We Are All Completely FineWe Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 

I will have to agree with Brit Mandelo here and say that expectation is a killer. I bought a copy of We Are All Completely Fine because I just loved the premise (especially when juxtaposed with the title): it’s about a therapy support group for Final Boys and Girls. I thought of slasher flicks, and expected human antagonists instead of supernatural monsters. I expected insights about the terrible effects of trauma and violence instead of plot. I did not get what I expected, which in this case is a bummer. It’s a slim volume, less than 200 pages, and is a breezy read. I’m sure other people will enjoy the ride, as I did (I did rate it 3 out of 5 still). It was just not what I needed at the time.

Unpossible and Other StoriesUnpossible and Other Stories by Daryl Gregory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Another reason could be that I read Daryl Gregory’s insanely good short story collection first, which I loved so much everything else paled. There are really fresh ideas here about consciousness and physics, coupled with religion and human folly. Heartbreaking fantasy, too. My favorites are “Second Person, Present Tense”, the title story “Unpossible”, and “The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm”, which is set in a country resembling Russia and where Superman is the villain. Gregory was raised a Southern Baptist and works as a programmer, and the influence of both worlds is clear in his fiction.

The Year We Left HomeThe Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard #2)Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1)The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Other things I liked: Jean Thompson’s The Year We Left Homea novel that centers around a family and covers a span of thirty years, the length of a generation. Each chapter can stand on its own as a short story. One can say “epic”, but Thompson chooses to focus on the small things, the unremarkable interactions between people connected by blood, and I enjoyed reading that more. I also loved Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards Book 1)and its sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies. A very well-written, very human secondary world saga. I’m on his third book (The Republic of Thieves), but it feels dragging right now, so I had to set it aside first.

visprint launches dwellers + three more books

My heartfelt gratitude to Powerbooks, Ms. Nida Ramirez, Kyra Ballesteros, and the rest of Visprint; artist Aldy Aguirre for creating great art for my book, fellow authors Paolo Chikiamco, Karl De Mesa, and Dean Francis Alfar; fellow Alternative Alamat contributors, and the people who took the time to drop by the launch, listen, chat, buy books and have their copies of Dwellers signed. Thank you very much!

Dwellers is available now in all Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal and Cavite branches of National Book Store and Powerbooks Store, as well as Uno Morato in Quezon City.

For those outside Luzon, copies are also making their way to your book stores.

Photos! I wasn’t able to take a lot of photos, but I thoroughly enjoyed Paolo’s short talk about the rationale behind Alternative Alamat (How come we know more about Greek myths than our own myths?) and the contributors’ individual stories behind their stories, Dean’s advice to new writers (summary: the mechanism is all there, all you have to do is actually sit down and write!), and Karl’s showbiz tsismis. (Talagang yung tsismis yung nag-stand out sa akin ano.)

Dwellers

Dwellers

Dwellers

After the event, celebrating with Jaykie and some ciders.

Dwellers

Dwellers

I also got copies of the books launched that day. Grateful for the heartfelt messages.

Dwellers

Dwellers

Dwellers

Beautiful covers!

Dwellers

Here’s a closer look at Dwellers. I’m loving the size — it’s small enough to fit in your back pocket.

Dwellers

Dwellers

Dwellers

Early reviews from readers are positive and encouraging. :)

For more information about the book, please click here. For questions about availability, kindly contact the publisher.

Thanks, and happy reading!!!

mystic river by dennis lehane

Mystic RiverMystic River by Dennis Lehane

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An incredible page-turner that I think was ruined slightly for me by its Epilogue. The tonal (and philosophical) shift in the final section would have been more acceptable if the events it described happened not a couple days later but years later. One character moves from guilt and remorse to an acceptance of his evil in a matter of days? From grief to a rant against gentrification? Hm. But there we have it. Everything before the epilogue though was magic, with searing insight about loss and loneliness, about the end of friendships and the end of innocence, with boundless compassion for its characters, all the while managing to remain suspenseful and entertaining. This is my first Dennis Lehane novel, and what a great novel.

View all my reviews

 

Other books I have recently finished that I feel you should check out: Ball Peen Hammer by Adam Rapp and George O’Connor (which I found fucked-up and terrifying and heartbreaking), and two books by David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

some love for ‘unseen moon’, ‘project 17′, ‘the viewless dark’, and ‘lower myths’

Here are new reviews for Unseen Moon and Project 17.

From Cassandra Javier (a review of the paperback, which contains The Viewless Dark):

A collection of Horror Stories from Eliza Victoria, a brilliant and undeniably good Filipina Author, Unseen Moon is something that every Horror/Mystery/Crime fan must read.

First in the collection is Needle Rain. A story of a barkada and how they try to uncover the mysteries of a murder that happened in their hometown. One of the most mysterious stories in the pack, this is a good way to build the tension and suspense that one should feel while reading the book. However, aside from being scary, there’s bit of sadness and surprise here, too. What’s good is that the author was really able to capture the old-skool Filipino neighborhood–she was able to build the feel and imagery that was needed.

And then comes my favorite story in the book: The Ghosts of Sinagtala. Oh, god, this is the perfect thing to read right now as the Holy Week is coming up soon, and aside from being “Holy”, we all know that it’s also the time when they say that bad spirits are all over the place. This (and I told the author about this) SERIOUSLY. CREEPED. ME. OUT. It’s not about monsters or the usual white ladies or whatever, but the kind of horror depicted in this story is so psychological that it would really rack your brain. (And I’m getting goosies again while writing this). Read it and you will know what I mean. It’s really something you’d have to put down and continue once the sun shines again (yeah I read it late, late at night and god my mind worked so bad) because it’s so scary. Watch out for rats.

Summer Evening, meanwhile, is brutal. You never know how twins’ minds’ work these days. You might be disturbed by this story and by the brutality, but all in all it was good. I like how different and creative the author can get.

A tale that will surely tug at your heartstrings without losing its mystery, December, is about an orphan named December, who makes friends with a boy named Gabriel. Together, they discover secrets and mysteries about a dead body in the lake, an abandoned mansion and the people around them.

Finally, there is the Viewless Dark. If you’re a student and are frequenting the library, you’ll be afraid. Okay seriously, this was one of the best. It’s about finding out about someone’s death and learning what you need to learn about that person. It’s scary, it’s suspenseful and it’s a work that’s just definitely top of the line. If you’re fond of trying to solve mysteries, this story is for you.

Give this book a chance because you will not regret it. And you know what? I think I’m going to re-read these stories sometime soon. They’re THAT good.

From Cathriona Lethal:

This is the second book by Eliza Victoria that I’ve read. The first one was Project 17. Whenever I read her stories I [think], “This author must have killed somebody to be able to write gripping tales like these.”

There are four short stories in this book. Reading the first, “Needle Rain”, is like watching true crime. I felt like I was praying hard as my windpipe hang on the second, “The Ghosts of Sinagtala”, and only after I reached the ending was I able to breathe – finally relieved. After reading the third, “Summer Evening”, I was convinced Miss Victoria must have really murdered somebody to be able to pull this story off, like she’s in a vengeance. And lastly, the final fresh-dead-cat present from the book, “December”, is just sick. Sick. I want to run from it, however, I was coaxed to go on…

From Tricia:

Ever since I’ve read Eliza Victoria‘s Unseen Moon, I became a fan. When the news broke that she published a new book last year, I really wanted to get a copy but I missed it during the book fair. Initially, I [didn’t] have any idea about Project 17, but I was so attracted [by] the book cover (cover and illustrations by Jap Mikel) and Victoria’s books are now an auto-buy for me, [that] I got a copy. I am glad I was able to grab one last Summer Komikon!

Let’s admit it, there are only a few science fiction books by our local authors in the Philippines—or maybe I’m just not that well-read when it comes to Filipiniana—and this is a good news that our local authors are now venturing and writing different genres (most of our local writers are into chick-lit and literary fiction).

Project 17 is set in the immediate to near future in the Philippines where robots are now among humans. Cellphones, no-hands, high-technology devices are part of being a human to survive. In this story, our protagonist, Lillian was hired as a babysitter for summer job by a man named Paul Dolores. Her duty is to look after his younger brother, a 28-year old guy suffering from a schizoaffective disorder named Caleb. The situation looks harmless and soon she accepted the job. Boring day after boring day, she starts being curious about the lives of these two brothers as well as Caleb’s medications that  are nonexistent online.

What I like about Project 17 is how Victoria created a world that is new and familiar at the same time. She didn’t dwell too much on being science fiction or on using epistaxis-inducing geeky high science/technology terms for a non-science-fiction-fan like me. It’s just on the right combination of science fiction, mixed with mystery and thrown in bits of humor. What piqued my interest is the mental disorder mentioned in the book. I really like books with health or mental disorders because I had close encounters with people with mental problems when I was a college nursing student. It was a memorable experience and I am forever interested and curious on such topics. Although the book only has few mentions about the mental case, the flow of the story didn’t disappoint. It was well-paced, although I found myself being impatient because it’s a thin book and there’s too much going on! But then, it was all right because things fell into places and I’m all ohhhs and ahhhs after connecting all the details. I like that the book gave off a feeling like I am a detective on [the] run chased by some big, unknown, all-seeing person ala Big Brother for discovering such information Lillian learned. I felt bits of paranoia and was on a look out for heavily-tinted cars that might, you know, kidnap me. Ha ha.

Here are reviews for two of my earlier releases, The Viewless Dark and Lower Myths, both available on Amazon, Flipreads, and other fine places.

Lower Myths: I’ve always loved Eliza Victoria’s works for having a strong Filipino feel. Some people might see the words “diwata” or “mambabarang” in these two stories and automatically classify them as fantasy works, but what really gives both titles an impact is a common emotion that is skillfully weaved into it: love of siblings, love of family. That is something any reader can relate to, and I find that these are what makes both memorable. They are supernatural stories to be sure, intriguing but also very touching for it features something that hits close to home for all of us.

The Viewless Dark: The story was creepy and hair raising at times, but still managed to be incredibly touching with the twist at the end. A fantastic mixture of the supernatural, tragedy, friendship and family all in one short story. I’d loved Eliza Victoria’s works ever since randomly picking up “A Bottle of Storm Clouds” and if there’s only one complaint I have about this author, it’s that her stories always leave me wanting more.

Thank you very much to readers who take the time to write their thoughts about my work. I love how most readers pick up one book of mine, and check out my other books. Returning customers! I must be doing something right.

Unseen Moon can be purchased on Smashwords and Amazon.

Project 17 is in all major Philippine bookstores. (And soon as an ebook! Watch out for that.)

The Viewless Dark is available on Amazon and other places.

Lower Myths is available on Amazon and other places.

Disclaimer: I don’t kill people, just cockroaches.

books books books: summer komikon + gina apostol lecture & book signing

So how’s everyone doing post-Komikon? We woke up early so we could be at the venue early. Tried Highlands Coffee for the first time. (There was a branch across the street from the Bayanihan Center.) Though I’ve had Vietnamese coffee before (here and in Vietnam when we traveled there last year), it felt like the coffee I had that Saturday morning was sprinkled with crack. I was seriously jumping out of my skin around lunch. I hope people didn’t notice.

Anyway! The Summer Komikon was fantastic. The star of the Visprint table were (as always) Manix Abrera with his 10th volume of Kikomachine Komix, the editors of Abangan: The Best Philippine Comics 2014, and Mervin Malonzo, with the print version of his webcomic, Tabi Po. I was there signing copies of my two books. Check out my headband.

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With Mervin and his book. Congrats!

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Funny about Manix: you had to take a number to have your copy signed. We were there early. We got #67. Sixty-seven! After 30 minutes I asked what number was being served, and they said #12. Dyos ko. Daig pa ang doctor’s clinic. Char.

Congrats Manix and please sign my books next time I see you.

Got these cards that I ordered from Shani Tan of Aromateria. Pretty! I’ll be giving these out to readers in upcoming events.

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Mervin’s promise regarding After Lambana. Posting this here SO EVERYONE WILL KNOW.

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We left Komikon early (with Honey, Adam, and Ken) to attend Gina Apostol‘s Lecture & Book Signing at Glorietta 1. I have not read a novel of hers, but I deeply admire and enjoy her essays, like this one, on reading/writing novels, and Rizal.

Enjoyed Danton Remoto’s introduction, particularly the Doris Lessing anecdote. (He asked her if they could have a picture taken with her; the British novelist and poet said no. “We’re in New York, but I’m from Loyola Heights, you know. Hindi ko naman alam na may mga protocol na ganyan!”)

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Gina Apostol was equally hilarious, reading sections from her novels Gun Dealers’ Daughter, and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata. I only brought money for Gun Dealer’s Daughter but (and I told her this) ended up getting Raymundo Mata as well because I enjoyed her reading and discussion so much. Rizal and the revolution through the eyes of a “kooky” blind man. (Raymundo Mata was the blind man who went with Pio Valenzuela in his controversial 1896 visit to Rizal in Dapitan.) Premise pa lang ulam na.

Gina said Raymundo Mata is actually her favorite. I have started reading it and it. Is. Hilarious. Also very inventive and carefully and beautifully written. Check it out.

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My little loot at the end of the day. Happy.

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