Friday, March 28, 2008

Literary Internet

I'd been paying attention to other internet sites like MySpace and Facebook. When I'm feeling mischevious, I google myself to see what I'm up to. Or I'll check MySpace and Facebook to see if anyone listed me as one of their favorite authors or listed one of my books as one of their favorite novels.

After years of neglecting MySpace, ignoring the "someone sent you a message" message--thinking its someone selling me porn--I finally logged on to see how my pathetic page was doing. I was shocked to see that I actually got messages from a few people who wanted to let me know that they're reading me. I sent out apologetic e-mails for my neglect.

I really do appreciate it when people tell me that they're reading my work. It reinforces the idea that I'm doing something right. I have writer friends telling me that their books didn't find publishers. These are really GREAT writers. This depresse me.

I talked to an agent-friend of mine who suggests that building an internet presence actually helps in publishing. If you can go to a publisher and say that you have thousands of friends on MySpace or thousands of hits on a blog, publishers will actually take that seriously. They'll think that you have potential readers who will buy your book (as opposed to the great writer who has no friends).

So, I have this blog. I have accounts with MySpace and Facebook, hoping it will be a smart business plan. Then, you know what? I find that the validation from just one person in internet land, who says says that "Letters to Montgomery Clift" is one of their faves or "Talking to the Moon" is a book they enjoy, spurs me on as a writer.

Oh, gawd! I'm codependent with the internet!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Literary AIDS reading

I'll be doing a presentation for aspiring librarians and archivist at UCLA. My presentation will be on AIDS and art, specifically writing. I'm hoping to develop a list of must-have books for a library. I'm not looking for scientific, medical, or self-help books. I'm leaning toward the literary. I've got titles by Paul Monette, Randy Shilts, Tony Kushner, Essex Hemphill, Saphire, Tony Dent. Any books you'd like to suggest?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Literary Santa Monica

Hey all,

I'll be a guest speaker for Santa Monica College's Spring 2008 Literary Series. It'll be on Thursday, March 20 at 11:15am in the Art Building, Room 214, located at 1900 Pico Blvd. I'll be doing a talk on what inspired "Talking to the Moon." Come out if you can!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Literary Aspirations

This is Cary Grant, one of the most stunning men in movies. Speaking of grants. I applied for one. Not an actor grant, an arts grant. It's for money to help research and develop my third novel. It is my fourth grant hoping to do this. I've applied for two and my agent applied for one--all of them rejected me.

I'm hoping the fourth one will be a charm. I didn't know if I wanted to share this information with you, but I think that those who want to lead the writer's life will have to experience this. Sometimes I see writers get grants and think that I'm certainly capable of getting one. I'm hopeful when I apply and just feel the most horrible pain when I don't.

Last year, I applied for the Fulbright. It took months to prepare that application. I had to get letters of recommendation, an invitation letter from a university from the Philippines, write essays on the merits of my project. I waited and waited. Finally, I got a letter of rejection. I got it on the day of my book party for Talking to the Moon. I got that letter of rejection just two hours before I was supposed to go out and be happy in front of a crowd of people.

My family and friends had prepared a party and I didn't tell anyone that I got this heartbreaking news. I doubt anyone knew that I was crushed. I looked into the faces of all those people celebrating a novel I had written and felt so much better. There was still a tinge of remorse, but I felt better.

What made it sting more was how it was rejected. The Fulbright goes through a series of committees. It has to pass the American Fullbright Committee, then it goes to the Philippines Fulbright Committee. It made it past the Americans, but it was the Filipinos who rejected it. Ouch.

I'm truly wondering if this third novel is something I can write right now. It's on the back burner. I've always aspired to have a collection of short stories published and that's taking my focus. I've got five stories that have been published and I feel confident about them. I'm hoping to have ten altogether.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Literary Dumbo

So, see this woman? Her name is Margaret B. Jones, a half Native American woman who went through foster care and ran with gangs in South Central. She wrote a memoir about it and got a rave review in the New York Times.

Her real name is Margaret Seltzer, a prep school kid from the valley who got busted by her own sister. You can read about it here. Her books were pulled from shelves.

She cries alot now saying she just wanted to give voice to people she tried to portray in her book. She is a dumbo. First off, those people have voices and are being heard. Read Push by Saphire or American Son by Brian Ascolon Roley.

Second, she should have called it a novel. Susan Straight writes about people of color or the disadvantaged all the time, but she would never try to pass as something she wasn't.

Third, I was happy to read that it was her sister who pulled the plug--glad to hear that someone in that household was raised right.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Literary youth

So, people say to me, Noel, you gotta check out these boys on YouTube. They're these clever, young Asian guys named KevJumba and Nigahiga. They tell interesting stories and have a unique point of view. Apparently, they're "stars" on YouTube because they have thousands and thousands of subscibers who watch their videos. I took a look. I was stymied. They are nothing but these obnoxious teenagers who spend way too much time alone in their rooms.

I was quite irked by them actually. It was an annoying feeling deep down in my bones. I couldn't fathon why I had such a severe allergic reaction to them. Then I realised: OMG! I WAS THAT OBNOXIOUS TEENAGER WHO SPENT WAY TOO MUCH TIME IN HIS ROOM.

In some way, it was like watching my former self. I should e-mail those guys and tell them if they're not careful, they'll end up an obnoxious man who spends way too much time alone in his apartment.