FILIPINA-CANADIAN Publishes Breakthrough Fantasy Novel


FILIPINA-CANADIAN Publishes Breakthrough Fantasy Novel

Filipina-Canadian Cindy Lapeña recently released her first novel, The Lost Amulets, online through Amazon and CreateSpace in both paperback and digital versions. The novel is an exciting and masterful fantasy written for young adults but sure to appeal to all ages, in the same way J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series did. Already, she is being compared to best-selling authors Lloyd Alexander and Cornelia Funke.

“…your tone and content reminded me of the Lloyd Alexander books. I’ve always been big on folklore and mythology from around the world, so this was fun to read…I liked this very much. You have all the pieces in place for an epic bestseller for your target audience. It’s already better than Cornelia Funke, and she sells like hot cakes.”

                                                                                                                                                       – Paul Bowersox, Pennsylvania


The Lost Amulets is the story of four teenagers who are drawn into the magical world of Dapit-adlaw, where mythological and supernatural beings live. They join a party of Littlefolk and Otherfolk, consisting of dwarves, elves, gnomes, and a kapre to seek lost amulets that are instrumental in the controlling natural elements so that they can restore some balance to nature. Their adventure takes them all over the islands of Dapit-adlaw, where they encounter other supernatural beings and mythical creatures, including aswang, sigbin, buwaya, siyokoy, kataw, and more.

What makes The Lost Amulets an important and significant addition to the corpus of Philippine and World Literature is how it integrates classical and ancient Philippine myths into an urban fantasy adventure. It introduces a vital aspect of Philippine culture to the world and presents it in a thoroughly enjoyable manner. It is a refreshingly new concept that is more than welcome as it provides a unique replacement for the tiresome vampires, zombies, and werewolves that are the current mainstay of urban fantasies.

The Lost Amulets is the first book in Cindy’s upcoming trilogy, The Amulets of Panagaea.

Besides being a first-time novelist, Cindy Lapeña is also a past-winner of the prestigious Carlos Palanca National Awards for Literature. She received the 3rd place award for a full-length play in English in 2007, her first entry to the annual Awards. She is the author of the reference series 101 Fun Games, Activities, and Projects for English Classes (also available on Amazon and CreateSpace), which draws on her extensive experience as an English teacher and training consultant in the Philippines. She currently resides in Prince Edward Island, Canada, where she is an arts and teaching consultant, a practicing artist and writer, and owner of Art ‘n’ Words Studio & Gallery.

Cover Design by Cindy Lapena Cover Art by Kitt Lapena

Cover Design by Cindy Lapena
Cover Art by Kitt Lapena


I Like Printed Books!


I just read an article about print vs. digital textbooks on this blog and pretty much agree with the article, which you can check out here:

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While many people I know already download reading material on their tablets and carry around as many as a thousand books with them, I still don’t think I’ll ever give up printed books for several reasons.

I like the feel of a good solid printed book in your hand, and each book has its own feel. Hard bound, soft bound, cloth bound–they all feel different. Inside pages also are different from one book to the next, as are the edges of the pages. I have recently noticed several hard bound books with rough-cut edges which gives them a quaint appearance and feeling and spares you from paper cuts. I love touching the embossed designs on some covers and many covers are worthy of being called art. I love the smell of paper and pages, especially of freshly-pressed books with that crisp, inky new-book smell. Sure, it might be the chemicals in the paper and the ink, but  it still smells good! I love the feeling of flipping the page or sliding my fingers on the top or sides to separate the page I am reading from the next one, ready to turn as soon as I reach the bottom. I love stuffing a large coat pocket with a book and feeling the book through the cloth, knowing that I can read it when I want because pocketbooks were meant to be carried around in pockets. I love having the option to write in the margins or mark my favourite parts, even if I don’t really write on the margins–but I know some people who do. I love collecting bookmarks of all sorts and peppering my books with bookmarks so I can open any one of them and return to a page that, for some reason, a long time ago, I wanted to be able to return to, then realize why I wanted to bookmark that page. I love to grab a book and open it to any page at random and take a peek at what’s on that page. It sometimes makes me want to read the whole book, or reminds me that I have read that book already. I like seeing the whole page at one glance and skipping ahead to the last paragraph on the page or peeking at the facing page to see where the story is leading, or maybe peeking back at the previous page to recall certain details. I can read it without having to spend on upgrades or batteries. I can read books in any light at any angle and I don’t have to worry about magnets of scanners or any other device that might destroy all my book files. I can look at the pictures as closely or as far as I want and still see the whole picture. And the page.

When I study something, I like having my own book, because I do write in the margins of my textbooks. I mark parts and cross-reference them with other parts. I can flip back and forth and then look at two or more pages at the same time, holding the in-between pages straight up. I can put in several bookmarks and skip back and forth or curl the pages and save all the places I want to go back to. I know exactly where to find the table of contents or the index or appendices and if I need to without having to scroll through a page-less text. I like running my fingers across the spines of books on a shelf or in a pile, tilting my head to read titles standing sideways, studying the fonts and the colours.

A book will never hang on me, never run out of batteries, and can be dried with a flat iron. I don’t have to worry about dropping it or smashing it. I don’t have to worry that it will become obsolete. I don’t have to worry about running out of space to add more books because the memory only holds so many books. I don’t have to pay a subscription to anyone and don’t need to worry about not having a credit card to buy something online where only credit cards are accepted.  If I need a replacement, I can get a new edition or a used copy for a very low price. I can open two books at the same time, or three, or ten, which is great when you are researching or studying and have several references that you want to compare. I think of all the people in the world who don’t even have a computer, let alone a tablet, because they can’t afford either. For the price of the cheapest tablet, I could get as many 10 books. Why would I buy the tablet and then pay for downloads of those 10 books on top of it all? I can see my real books and know I have them and just seeing them reminds me that I might want to read another book, or reminds me that I have read so much. Just seeing so many books around me gives me a cozy, comforting feeling, knowing that each book on my shelves is unique in so many ways.

I don’t see myself getting a tablet any time soon or anytime ever, as long as there are real books somewhere–even if they are just in my little library where I keep the books I want to keep. Call me old-fashioned if you will, but I like my books to look and feel and smell like books.

As far as digital vs. print textbooks are concerned, it’s print for me.


The effect of books


Some books are meant to tickle the surface, bring about a smile, a chuckle, a frown, a tear. Others to nail you to a spot while engaging your mind in an exhilarating, breath-taking, mind-numbing adventure. Still others are meant to penetrate the depths of the mind and launch the reader into a soul-searching metaphysical conversation with the universe. Finally, there are the books that drag you out of your complacent lifestyle and launch you into the strange and frightening world where you can only succeed if you survive, and you only survive if you dare to take a step into the unknown. 

They each have a different effect on you. What does not affect you in some meaningful way is what you discard, sometimes after the first few pages.

365 Things to Look Forward to-Number 19: Starting a book


19. Starting a book

To a certified bibliophile like me, a.k.a. bookworm, one of the most exciting things to look forward to is to start reading a new book. In fact, sometimes the prospect of starting to read a new book is so exciting that I have to hurry to finish the book I am currently reading, just so I can start a new one.

If there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s a book, especially if it promises to be a good one. Of course there are certain books I just won’t touch or be seen with, but at the risk of being hung by my thumbs by fans of such literature, I will not mention any genres in particular.

I love the feel, the sight, the smell of a new book, especially the hardbound editions. I can’t say much about the smell of a new pocket book, though. Not much stands out to attract my olfactory glands. But the smooth cover, the unturned crisp virgin pages–what a joy.

Not everything is perfect, of course. Many times, your average pocket book has a cover that suggests very little or has no relation at all to the title or the contents. I have to admit, though, that the cover, along with the title, are a main attracting point. There’s nothing like a catchy, fresh, original title that piques my curiosity. Add to that an intriguing cover design, and I’m a sucker born that very minute. If I had the money to buy every single book I am drawn to, I would have the Library of Congress in my living room. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. The PEI Confederation Centre Public Library then. Okay, okay. The Stratford Public Library, maybe.

But really, my dream room is a home library that is covered floor to ceiling in books, with at least three levels, like a tower or an atrium and those quaint ladders running along tracks around the room so you can get to any level quickly. And in that room, a bay window with cushions piled upon cushions overlooking some totally rustic country garden filled with weeping willows and riotous wildflowers everywhere. Maybe a garden bower with a hammock or wide, cozy swing where I can curl up and spend hour after hour reading.

My dream reading world aside, nothing attracts me like a book. You know what I mean, of course. Books have this unique magnetic influence on me, and I have been that way since I was a child. Ask my schoolmates. The best memories they probably have of me are me sitting in the grass reading a book.

Look at me–I still haven’t even gotten to actually starting reading and I’m all excited already!

Seeing a book with a title that totally captivates me, like “where a dobdob meets a dikdik” (yes, that is a book title!) has me so worked up, I just can’t wait to dive in. I imagine all sorts of deliciously fancifully outrageous words with a title like that. Is it obvious? I just love books on words. You won’t believe how many dictionaries I own. Or books on lexical oddities and other lexical explorations. Yes, I am a logophile of sorts. I love the new words I pick up from new books. I relish finding out the meanings of all manner of words and phrases and expressions. What could be more fun?

Don’t get me wrong. Geeky word books aren’t the only things that get me going. I love fiction with a passion, as well. And if it’s a mystery or detective story, you can bet I’ll enjoy it, as long as it’s not something with gratuitous violence and gore or foul language (oh, I’ll put up with occasional romantic interludes if the story is intriguing enough—which means I skip to when the interlude is over—and as long as the foul language doesn’t get in the way of the story, the way NORMAL people talk, pretty much, then I’ll put up with that as well). If it’s overloaded at the very start, I’m just not interested and I drop the book like a hot potato.

Naturally, there are authors I will grab without a second thought, and those that I avoid. Again, I will not mention those I will avoid, but I do love a Forsythe, Le Carre, or Ludlum anytime. There are several new bestselling authors as well, who write mainly mystery and suspense, who I don’t mind reading as well, since my top three don’t write as frequently (and Ludlum won’t write anymore, sigh).

I always read the blurb in the back, in the inside cover, anything before the actual text, and sometimes the first page to decide if I want to read the book. Sometimes, what looks interesting becomes a major let-down before the first chapter ends, or somewhere into the second chapter…and that book gets shelved or returned to the library long before the due date is up.

It takes a certain mood to tackle serious literature, and when I’m in that mood, then I go for the “literature” section in the library or bookstore. Naturally, I do have a few favorites in those areas as well, and there are those I will definitely always be quick to get, such as Umberto Eco, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende and similar fare.

There is a broad range of literature I will read, including poetry, short fiction (I love short stories, too and make it a point to get the Science Fiction annuals, or the Best Short Stories annuals, etc.). I do love science fiction and follow certain mini-series types, such as Terry Brooks, naturally Narnia, and absolutely Lord of the Rings, but I do love reading new books as well and am constantly on the lookout for new authors and new titles that aren’t another title in a long on-going series designed for or from video games or role-playing games.

I also love reference books, art books, cook books, craft books, and how-to books, as well as special occasion books, particularly Christmas books!

I try to imagine what new things I will learn, new stories, new lives I will encounter. Then, when I start the book, I stop thinking forward and just take each page, each chapter as it comes. It’s the hardest thing for me to do to put a book down at the end of a chapter or two because I have to go to sleep or go to work or do something else.

Ah, give me a book and you won’t hear from me for a long long time…as long as I don’t have any other things to do, of course. If I could only do one thing, just one thing for the rest of my life, I would choose to read books.


365 Things to Look Forward to – Number 14: Finishing a book


14. Finishing a book

Every time I start reading a book, I look forward to finishing it. Admittedly, I haven’t finished every book I’ve ever started reading, so finishing a book is really something I look forward to. Except when the book is exceptionally dull or convoluted or just plain unreadable.

I have always been an avid book reader. Ask all my classmates in grade school and high school. They’ll confirm that. They used to call me a bookworm, I took special pleasure in that nickname. I always carried a book in my pocket…if it would fit…or in my bag, if it was any bigger than my pocket. And if I didn’t have a bag, I’d still a have book in my hand, wherever I went.

During breaks and before and after class, you’d always know where to find me–either in the library or on the grass, reading. I never really thought much about my reading habits back then…I just wanted to read anything and everything I could get my hands on, especially if it was fiction. My choice of reading material, of course, changed according to the times and the need and my mood and interests at the moment.

At present, I have several I am reading simultaneously…not that I read them all at the very same time. Just that I am reading them all. I have a couple of books on words I’m chewing through (sheer pleasure), a suspense novel (pleasure and time-filler), an art book (study), the latest issue of Reader’s Digest (bus-stop and out-of-my-handbag reading), a crafts book (self-study), a book on freelance writing, and a book on children’s writing and publishing. Oh, and a science fiction anthology somewhere. There are also a couple of other books that I started but temporarily shelved because I didn’t think I felt like reading them, as they seemed pointless at the moment. And a dictionary of slang that I recently acquired, and another book of quotations.

These books are in different places, mostly, and I grab them when I feel like reading and am in a particular spot of the apartment. Some I read continuously—I could read my novels forever, if I didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything else. I don’t know anyone else who will understand how I read books this way, but that’s how I read books. I used to finish novels in a day of guerilla-reading, sometimes as quick as in an hour–which was the length of lunch break in high school. Now, I usually leave novels to my bed-time reading. Anywhere from 1 chapter to an hour before turning off my bedside lamp to sleep, or the same before I get out of bed in the morning, when I don’t have to be anywhere shortly after I wake up. So it takes me considerably more time finishing a book of leisurely nature nowadays.

Regardless of the type of book I am reading, when I decide to finish it, I keep at it. Others, I don’t see myself finishing any time soon. Dictionaries and other word books, books of quotations and all sorts of anecdotes and wise or witty words are books I enjoy nibbling at, much like a box of assorted chocolates, whose flavours I want to last forever. You take them a bit at a time so you can savour each delectable bite-size treat, look forward to taking another treat and relishing a completely different experience, and when the box is gone, look forward to another box.

Novels and other fiction of best-selling  nature are like spicy hot salsa you can have on top of anything you want, really, but you don’t leave it in your mouth long. Those books, you finish fast.

Science fantasy, fantasy, and period literature are a mixed bag of spices leaving different flavours in your mouth. Some you swallow quickly, some you want to roll around in your mouth before swallowing. Some you try once, others, you use over and over again.

Books for learning are books that either reinforce what I already know or can do, help me recall and practice what I want to strengthen, or provide me with completely new knowledge or details of old knowledge that I never knew before. These can be anything from business books to language books to arts and crafts books. These are my cooking books, my problem-solver books, and other how-to books. Most of these, I finish reading but return to every now and then, because I most likely would not have read it in detail the first time around. Usually, I just skim over these books and if I find something immediately useful, I jot it down. Otherwise, I make a mental bookmark then return to the book when I need it.

I’ll admit I have books that I acquired because they looked like something I might try later on…and I still do have a handful of books that are untouched, unread. Thankfully, they don’t rot like real food would. They’d be the dried fruit or dried mushrooms or something like that, that you can keep forever until you want to use them. I suppose they’d have a musky, concentrated flavour as well, which I’d have to sprinkle with generous helpings of magazine reading.

Which brings me to reading magazines. These are all icing on cake, though some of them have exceptional flavours or flavours you want to experience over and over again. I thoroughly enjoy going through the pictures and trying out recipes from these magazines. Some of them provide me with vicarious experiences that I know I will never have—plunging down the ocean depths to examine sea life or sunken treasure…living in deserts or forests or mountains…travelling to destinations around the world that would never be in your average travel brochure. These are experiences of alternate lives I might have lived had I chosen to go down those paths of archaeology, exploration, and science.

Some of you who know me are probably wondering, where are the classics? I love classical literature. I even majored in literature. My genre of choice is drama, and I had books on drama that are hard to find.  I had boxes of books of classical literature, the bulk of which are drama–and my nieces know that, because those books are now with them–except for a treasured few that I have kept, and a few more that I have acquired since setting roots in new ground. I did acquire a membership to The Folio Club, which can provide me with all the classics I want, in classic binding, at classic prices, which I can’t really afford. And some of those books, because I have already read them but wanted classic copies to grace my shelves, remain in their clear plastic wrap. Mint editions, that may one day be worth a fortune. Who knows, I may yet have grandchildren who will be bookworms as their grandmother was. I am done collecting classics. Nearly every book of classic literature that I bought, I have read. I have also read classic literature that was not in my old collection, nor in my new collection, because they were library books that I could not keep. I have even read some classic literature on-line. And I have read classic literature from Papa’s Classics Club collection, that I truly wish Mama had deemed fit to give to me. But of course, that wish is like asking for the moon. But the books I read are already in my heart, the stories squirrelled away in some neural wiring in my brain. The only real and extensive collection I have and continue to build is my collection of word books–dictionaries, etymologies, idioms, euphemisms, quotes, and such. My fascination with words far exceeds my fascination with literary plots and themes, because the plots and themes repeat themselves; the words don’t.

I will still read literature that may one day be the stuff of classic literature, and certainly, I hope to write more literature and eventually publish work that might be remembered vaguely in the annals of literature hundreds of years from now. I will still read literature that will be forgotten once a new best seller climbs to the top of the list, as well as literature that only a few people will ever care to read, and I certainly, as well, hope to write some of that literature and earn a living out of it.

But in the meantime, I am a reader, and nothing will stop that. I know that, if I ever lose my sight, I will have audio books and braille books to fill up the dark space before me with the multi-coloured images and scenes of books written by people for people like me who look forward to turning that last page of a book and take a long look once again at the front and back covers, maybe hold the book close to the heart, before putting it away on a shelf or in a box for others to read.