Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Books! Books! Books!

We're at the end of month 11 and I'm already doing some examining, asking myself if I had achieved what I had set out to do at the beginning of the year. On the writing front, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" The enthusiasm primarily comes from that I've been wanting to write fiction forever but, as I've said many times before, when you're writing and editing magazine articles the whole day, the last thing you really want to do at night is to look at more words.

December is going to be a specially happy month.

Above is the cover of Philippine Speculative Fiction 3. My short story "Pedro Diyego's Homecoming" is included in this anthology. I love "Pedro Diyego" mainly because the writing of it was such a pleasure. I've heard some writers say that certain stories seem to just write themselves, and this was the case here. The first sentence popped into my head, I typed it out on my laptop, and a day later the story was finished. I had to tweak the ending after having Patricia read it, but the writing involved almost zero stress. The editors and publishers, Nikki and Dean Alfar, are launching the anthology in Manila on December. You're all invited! Click here for the launch details.

Very Short Stories for Harried Readers is an anthology of flash fiction (meaning stories with a word count of 750 words or less) edited by Vince Groyon and published by Milflores. In his last e-mail, Groyon said that they are "hoping" to have the book out in Philippine bookstores by December. My contribution is called "Making a Garden." If she reads it, I think that former English lit professor Patricia would tell me the same as she did of "Pedro Diyego": "It lends itself well to a diasporic reading." Ack! Being an immigrant has given me angst!

Milflores is at the same time launching a collection of flash fiction written in Filipino and called Mga Kuwentong Paspasan.

Help Filipino books make it past the regular 1,000 first-printing copies, please. In my La Pomme blog, I encourage people to buy handmade. Here I want to say: Read Filipino! Go buy our books.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What Does It Say About Me...

... that last night I bought our tickets for a three-week stay in the Philippines in January, and more than the thought of hanging out with my sisters, laughing at my mom's hilarious one-liners, burrowing my nose in my dad's kili-kili for a quick snuggle, and the beer-and-pot reunion with old friends planned at my sister and brother-in-law's infamous old 115 Anonas Extension address, what is really getting me excited is the thought that once I am at my parents' place, I can very quickly drive off to eat as much of this as I want to.

Ah, I'm going home! My arteries are already beginning to constrict in anticipation.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Must Read

I am deeply touched by this blog post from Netherlands-based writer RC Loenen-Ruiz. If you are also far away from home, read it and feel the pain.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

About Snails: La Pomme's One-Week Sale!

My new snail pouch.

Don't be a slowpoke snail and be late on your Christmas shopping. Do it now! I'm offering a 20-percent discount to all readers of Provenciana who buy products from my Etsy shop from today until Wednesday, 21 November. Browse and buy by clicking here.

A great big plus is that all my products come packaged in lovely cloth bags that tie close with satin ribbon, so they're ready for giving away as soon as you get them in the mail.

How it works: When you check out at Etsy, you will be given an option where you can send a message to the seller. Here just write, "Hi, Apol! Found you on Provenciana." Don't pay with your Paypal (or check, if you live in France) just yet. Once I get your order form, I will revise the price to show the 20-percent discount and then send you a message that it's ready for you to buy. This sale goes on only until 21 November, and is not cumulative, meaning you can't use this with other sales and promos I have going on in my shop during this time period. See you at La Pomme!

About Crawfish

Once upon a time, more than 20 years ago, a big truck was passing through the village of Fourques, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of the south of France, when the driver, for reasons now forgotten, lost control of his vehicle. The giant truck toppled and it rolled. Like a beast in its final moments, it made terrible screeching noises that everybody and his neighbor could hear. With a final metal-scratching-on-concrete wail, it ground to a halt on its side, smack in the middle of one of Fourques's main roads.

The sight was enough to leave the villagers stunned, but they were in for a bigger surprise. From out of the whacked-open belly of the upturned truck came crawling out hundreds and hundred of monstrous little critters. The things had hard brown skins, spidery legs, and two front claws that snapped. The horde made click-clicking noises as it made for the freshwater canals bordering the road. The children and the women of Fourques screamed.

Cooler heads soon enough intervened, and told everybody that they had no cause for worry. The truck's cargo were not hungry alien monsters. The villagers, with the typical French passion for all things tasty, heaved a sigh of relief and started licking their lips.

And that is how Louisiana crawfish came to be living in the waters of a remote village in the south of France.

The American crustaceans liked it so much in their new environs that they started multiplying like crazy, providing business for the young boys of the village, who would trap crawfish in the afternoons and sell them to the village housewives for a steal--about five francs per kilo. One of these young boys, as you can very easily guess, was named Pierre, who grew up to be my husband, who I know loves telling tales but I don't know half the time if I should believe him.

This particular story he told me after I had come back from the market in Arles with a can of bisque d'écrevisses, crawfish bisque, made in Fourques. I opened it, heated the soup, and ate it with croutons on which I had scratched some shallots. It's a softer version of lobster bisque. I'm going to make the detour to Fourques this week to get some more. Trust me: It's delicious! If you like the taste of seafood and you live in France, you can have cans and bottles delivered to your home. Just go to the Lou Chambri website. You can ask them if their goods are actually tombés du camion*. Or maybe not, as we don't want them spitting in your soup.

(Yes, after all that drama, this is just a blog post about food.)

* tombés du camion, literally, "fallen from the truck," an idiom meaning "stolen goods"

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Paperwork Pain

I am renewing my passport at the Philippine Embassy in Paris. Mr. Tornilla, the guy I had been speaking to over the phone since I began the process, has been very helpful, which helps alleviate a lot of the headache involved.

To get a brand-new version of our precious green-covered booklet, I have to submit my current passport, a birth certificate authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, my baptismal certificate (thank goodness my mom keeps these things!), my voter's certification record, and two current IDs. I'm giving them copies of my French driver's license and residence card. On top of all that, I'm required to submit a piece of paper with the title "Sworn Statement," in which Item No. 3 states, "I came to France using the following ASSUMED/FALSE/ FAKE birth and personal data:"

Mr. Tornilla said that it has become necessary to be strict about these things because of the number of our countrymen coming into Europe illegally, and that to item no. 3, I should just put "not applicable." Since I detest paperwork, however, right now I'm being really tempted to write that I came here as Fatima Alvir, Misty Blue, or Miss Bella Flores.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

La Pomme Promotes

What is this? Click here to find out!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I Hear You, Noelle

Reading Noelle's 31 October blog entry was like hearing an echo of the phone conversation I had with Tara last Tuesday, which had me saying, "Marriage is not at all easy, Tars, and if what I have with my husband doesn't end up to be the forever kind, then I'm never going to do this sort of thing ever again."

If you're not yet married, then I'm doing what Noelle says should be done and telling you: My lord this till-death-do-us-part business is not easy!

For each married woman, I suppose the difficulties are different. For me, independent, stubborn, individualistic, slightly egotistic I, what I'm finding particularly hard to get used to is the constant presence of another. Even when he's not physically there, he is there, taking up space in my head, taking possession of a big chunk of my heart.

There is, too, the fact that I got married at 32, when I had had more than a decade of living my adult life my way. There had been boyfriends, of course, but looking back now I never considered them an intrinsic part of my life. Now I am with someone who is exactly that.

My life is tightly tied up with the life of another. And it is supposed to be this way until I die.

I consider marriage to be most of all about sharing, so the thought does bring me contentment. Still, there will always be a part of me--independent, stubborn, individualistic, slightly egotistic I--that will think about this and will find it difficult to breathe.