Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Call for Submissions - Religious book on Marian Sites


This is a call for submissions of creative nonfiction for an anthology tentatively titled, MAMA MARY’S PILGRIM SITES. The book will be edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and published in the Philippines by Anvil. Contributors will receive copies of the book as compensation for the use of their work.

The manuscript should be approximately 1,300-2,000 words. This should be emailed to palhbooks@gmail.com.

The book will collect true accounts of pilgrims’ visits to Marian sites. The anthology will be something like a “tour guide” to other devotees of Mary who are interested in visiting Marian sites.

The editor is looking for well-written religious essays about people’s experiences when they visited Marian sites, in particular sites where Mary has appeared or where miracles have occurred because of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Some of the questions that should be addressed are: Why did the person make the visit? Where is the Marian site located? What is the history of the site? What did the person do while at the Marian site? What did the person experience while there or after the visit? Did the person experience any emotional or physical healing? Did the person experience any psychological change as a result of the pilgrimage?

Some Marian sites follow: Fatima, Lourdes, Medjugorje, Knock, Pontmain, Pellevoisin, Giertzwald, Beauraing, Banneux, Paris, Rome, La Sallete, Guadalupe, Syracuse, Vellankani (India), Montserrat, La Vang (Vietnam), Zaragoza, Ephesus, Loreto, Czestochowa, Philippine-sites, and many more.

Some writers have promised to write about: Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, Velankanni, Ephesus, Ethiopia, Our Lady of Pillar, Medjugorje, Greenbay - the book will try not to duplicate Marian Sites.

The publisher is Philippine-based; contributors with a Filipino connection are preferred.

Deadline for submission is October 15, 2011. Early submissions are welcome. Please send your manuscript and bio (approx. 150 words) in people-friendly narrative form. Be sure and include your contact information.

ABOUT THE EDITOR: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the award-winning author/editor of over a dozen books. (http://www.ceciliabrainard.com)

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Here are some pictures taken this Memorial Weekend.
Top picture, l-r: Mike Ross, Lauren Brainard, Michael Genelin, Doug Noble, Cecilia Brainard;
Second from top, l-r: Linda Ross, Mike Rossa, Lauren Brainard, Michael Genelin, Doug Noble;
Bottom pictures show Mao with Cecilia

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Our Lady of Velankanni Prayer Group

A group of us have been meeting once a month to pray to Our Lady of Velankanni (Our Lady of Good Health) at Maria Ciocon's house, under the spiritual guidance of Father Sebastian and Father George. The group picture shows: Miguel,Marietta, Lucy Adao McGinley, Patrick McGinley, Beverly Bonzon, Father Sebastian, Maria Ciocon, Med Villanueva, Cecilia Brainard

The picture of three shows: Sim Ciocon, Father Sebastian, and Maria Ciocon

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cecilia Brainard & Veronica Montes on BakitWhy

I met Frederick Docdocil of BakitWhy at the Authors Night of Philippine Expressions last April 29. He interviewed Veronica Montes (re Angelica's Daughters) and me (re Vigan and Other Stories) for BakitWhy.com. Thank you, Frederick!



Friday, May 20, 2011


We had the reading at La Canada Flintridge Bookstore of the pet anthology, Cherished. Editor Barbara Abercrombie gave a great introduction of how the collection of personal essays came to be. She had blogged about the passing of her horse, and her vet/student/friend, Dr. Bob Goldman, talked about the need for a book on pet loss and pet grief, how there simply were no such books (at the time), and people who lost pets didn't know how to grieve since it's not totally accepted to grieve for pets. Barbara decided to collect a book of personal essays about pet loss; she contacted writers she knew and admired as well as writers she didn't know but admired (as in Jane Smiley) - and voila - the book, CHERISHED: 21 WRITERS ON ANIMALS THEY HAVE LOVED AND LOST, came to be.

The contributors of Cherished, which has made it to several bestseller lists including Amazon.com, are: Dr. Robert Goldman (Preface), Carolyn See, Michael Chitwood, Robin Romm, Jane Smiley, Joe Morgenstern, Judith Lewis Mernit, Melissa Cistaro, May-Lee Chai, Anne Lamott, Samantha Dunn, Billy Mernit, Barbara Abercrombie, Monica Holloway, Linzi Glass, Jacqueline Winspear, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Victoria Zackheim, Jenny Rough, Sonia Levitin, Thomas McGuane, and Mark Doty.

Present last night were: Barbara Abercrombie, Dr. Bob Goldman, Melissa Cistaro (who flew in from Northern California), Samantha Dunn, Linzi Glass, and me. The readers had 5-6 minutes each. Barbara and Samantha read about their horses; Melissa, Linzi and I read about our cats. Even though the essays focused on the pets, ultimately the writings were about the owners and families of these beloved pets. There are moments of pathos, as well as funny moments.

After the reading, someone in the audience asked Dr. Bob what he thought of people who didn't accompany their pets when they were being put to sleep. Dr. Bob explained that in some cases these people want to remember their pet in better times, that they don't want the memory of their pet dying. He talked about how some people change vets when their pet has been put to sleep by a particular vet in a particular pet hospital - it's simply too painful for them. There were more questions asked, and book signing followed.

I was delighted to finally share my work about my beloved cat, Kiki, with such lovely company. I was also happy to read in the La Canada Flintridge Bookstore and Coffee Shop - an absolutely delightful place. Earlier that evening, in the coffee shop I saw a group of seven huddled together in what looked like a writer's workshop to me. The bookstore also has some cute items for sale, aside from books. If you live in the area, you must stop by.

Thanks again, Barbara for including my story about Kiki in your beautiful book!

top: Standing, Barbara Abercrombie
second from top: Dr. Bob Goldman
third from top: Melissa Cistaro
fourth from top: that's me, Cecilia Brainard
fifth from top: Samantha Dunn
bottom: Linzi Glass

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Tonight - I'll be reading with Barbara Abercrombie and 4 authors from CHERISHED, 7:30 p.m. La Canada at Flintridge Bookstore, 1010 Foothill. The anthology, Cherished, has been on the best-seller list in Amazon.com, Book Soup, and others. The collection is on Pet Loss, Pet Grief. Bring your Kleenex!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

UCLA Extension's Publication Party 2011- Eve Caram & Cecilia Brainard

Here's a picture of Eve Caram (author of the newly released Corpus Trio)and myself. This and the other publication pictures are courtesy of Mae Respecio (thank you Mae!).This was taken at the 18th Annual Writers' Program Publication Party of UCLA Extension. The readers were: Barbara Abercrombie, Francesca Lia Block, Laurel Ann Bogen, Michael Buckley, Rick Bursky, Eve La Salle Caram, Samantha Dunn, Linzi Glass, Daniel M. Jaffe,Rachel Kann, Stefan Kiesbye, Edan Lepucki,Suzanne Lummis, Leon Martell, Lou Mathews, Colette Sartor, Steve Sohmer, and myself (Cecilia Manguerra Brainard).

The May 12 event was held once again at the Skirball Cultural Center, 27011 North Sepulveda Blvd., with it's lovely auditorium and patio.

I have to say that this year had the best program ever. The readers had great selections and were particularly considerate at staying within their designated 5 minutes. This event allows me to meet the new younger teachers, such as Michael Buckley who it turns out teaches at the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA). I had taught for CSSSA for around 5 summers, along with Traci Gourdine. It was wonderful to listen to Mike's work and to get caught up on with CSSSA news.

I was also particularly delighted to hear selections from Barbara Abercrombie's collection, Cherished, presented by Samantha Dunn and Linzi Glass. Cherished was/is Amazon.com's Number 1 bestselling book on Pet Loss/Grief. I myself have a story in it, about my beloved cat, Kiki. I was torn between sharing that story or from my own third short story collection; I opted to read from Vigan and Other Stories. (Fortunately I'll have the opportunity to read about Kiki this Thursday at Flintridge Books, 1010 Foothill Blvd, La Canada at 7:30 p.m. along with Barbara, Bob Goldman, Monica Holloway, Samantha Dunn, and Melissa Cistaro.)

As always, the poets, Suzanne Lummis and Laurel Ann Bogen, are always delightful to listen to; they are indeed master performers and great poets.

Daniel Jaffe was there, and I made sure I bought a copy of his new novel. I was proud to listen to Eve La Salle Caram, friend and mentor of many years. It was also a pleasure to see Lou Mathews again. Lou and I go back a number of years when we both won the California Arts Council Fellowship in Fiction at the same time. He has been ending the program in the past years, and Lou is gracious and acknowledges Linda Venis and the staff for all their hard work in putting this wonderful program.

What the reading does is help create a literary community. I know it makes me feel connected to these writers. These events feel like a reunion, in fact. Most of all, it makes me feel proud to be be teaching with these talented writers. The work presented is always fine and impressive.

The Writers Program took a video of the event, which will be in the writers' webpage in their site. As soon as it's available, I'll link to it.

All for now, stay tuned,

Sunday, May 15, 2011


It's official, Mao, my classic orange tabby kitten, now has video clips on YouTube. Search "Mao the orange tabby."

Here are some video clips:

Mao the Orange Tabby and the Feathered Toy - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=059XCiqr6yo

Mao the Orange Tabby and the Paperbag - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isV6p5gEvjo

Mao the Orange Tabby and Toy Mouse - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=059XCiqr6yo

Friday, May 13, 2011


Here is my orange tabby cat, Mao, competing with Maru the cat's New Fashion,
Look at the short video of Mao and the Paperbag, and also the pictures below to see Mao's New Fashion. After you've seen these, take a look at Maru's New Fashion.

Click here to see Maru's video. http://www.youtube.com/user/mugumogu#p/u/0/J3wsDZV0KFI

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Book Review of Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults (PALH, 2010)
by Karen Pierce Gonzalez

What I like most about folk stories is that they tell us something important about other people. They create specific examples of universal themes that exist in all cultures; they express the uniqueness of a particular time and a particular people that enlightens us all about our own humanity.

This is what I recently experienced after reading Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, a collection of contemporary stories for young adults collected and edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. The 257-page book published by PALH (Philippine American Literary House) was first brought to my attention by fellow writer Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor. A bright writer herself who lives in Washington, she was able to share with me not only the beauty of her own literary work but also the richness of her cultural heritage.

Thanks to her I was allowed into the post 9/11 world of Filipino and Filipino American youth. Through this I was introduced to a culture that admittedly I knew very little about.

I learned through the stories that many Filipino children are raised in a very strong patriarchal system that often over rules the individual child’s needs to ‘fit in’ with the dominant American culture. For example, in ‘Double Dutch’ (Leslieann Hobayan) when young Maria Elizabeth comes home one day with her hair braided by her African American school friend her family responds by telling her the braids are ugly and she is no longer allowed to play with her friend. I could feel the poignancy of Maria Elizabeth’s dilemma as she withdrew from the schoolyard community she enjoyed so much.

Other stories also reveal the hard facts of immigrant life. Alma (‘Here in the States’ by Rashaan Alexis Meneses) struggles to understand how hard her mother must work as a nanny to make ends meet. Shame and sadness mingle when she questions the discrepancy between her mother’s role as a respected professional back home and her new role as a domestic helper. Adolescent resentment and rebellion about having to help care for younger siblings (something the maid back home did) further complicate Alma’s efforts to make sense of this new world. It is in her mother’s quiet strength and acceptance of life’s uncertainties that Alma finds her greatest comfort and connection.

While the book is designed to reflect the issues young adults face, it does much more than that. It reaches out to the rest of us in a way that invites deeper understanding and awareness of how our Filipino and Filipino American brothers and sisters experience life in America. Fraught with the angst of adolescence that exists everywhere and grounded in an abiding sense of strong Filipino family/cultural values, the authors of these stories have something valuable to tell us about our own desires and struggles to belong in whatever world we live in.

We are fortunate to have access to such a formidable anthology. It is certainly a must read for anyone who wants to celebrate our multicultural society.

Rohnert Park/Cotati writers: got a book you'd like me to review? Let me know by emailing folk@folkheartpress.com.

From Amazon.com Book Review of Growing Up Filipino II by Vonsbiz

This is an absolute fantastic read. I read Growing Up Filipino I many years ago, I was in my early 20's then. I remember it being such a great read, I had to get part II. Although Part II is wonderful, I still think Part I takes the cake. I've purchased several copies of Part I as gifts for nieces and nephews who are now in their late teens. I also had to purchase another copy of Part I for myself since I never got my original copy back from a loaner. Part I and II are both excellent. Short stories, great for bedtime, each story with a visual and emotional message.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Mother's Day

Mother's Day - thinking of my Mom.