Tag Archives: novel

What I’m Working On Now

But first, it appears that I’ve made the long list for storySouth’s 2014 Million Writers Award twice. Once for “The Phantom Harlot” at Big Lucks and once for “The Grinning Man” at Eclectica Magazine. It looks like there’s a lot of genre work on this long-list, so I’m not entirely sure how these pieces might measure up (easily the most fabulist of stories I’ve written, but still quite realist), but fingers crossed! It was really just a pleasant surprise. Thanks to the editors at both journals for sharing these works! I’m also really just happy to be listed alongside Celeste Ng, whose debut novel EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU I’ve recently just started. It is phenomenally crafted, from what I can discern in just the opening chapters. Great attention to detail, vivid and unique uses of imagery.

Anyway, I wanted to share a little bit about what I’m doing and thinking about now. The novel is still in-progress, but a little hung up. This has more to do with me being busy and not putting the work in than it does with me running dry on ideas or how to move forward. It will get done, but for now… there’s the day job to worry about; there’s my last MFA workshop (tomorrow!); there’s revising the thesis; there’s finishing my craft essay and outlining my seminar; there’s a lot of work.

All said, I do have a couple of potential story ideas germinating (and how do I miss short stories!). There’s also an idea that I’m not sure if I want to do as an essay or as a work of fiction, which has to do with Street Fighter (the arcade game) and social class / racial politics. They’re connected, trust me. haha. I’ll let it stew a bit longer before try to put anything to paper.

With that, adieu, good friends. 🙂 Work hard.

Now I’m Just Babbling…

I suppose, from time to time, I might actually use this blog as a proper blog, though my general busy-ness is a great preventative measure there. Lately, I’ve been reviewing the manuscript I wrote, a novel on the shorter end of things about college-aged ghost hunters. There’s always been some disquiet about this piece because, thematically, I really love it. I can’t help but to, even if I’m exhausted of it at the same time (the curse of any novel-length project, I imagine). I kept thinking that there was something off on a structural level, something missing in the first part of the story (which I wrote several years ago) that lacked motivation, drive, stakes for the characters or the readers.

Still, the structure seemed okay to me. Rereads went on and I still liked what I’d produced. So what was wrong? When I decided to go ahead and write a synopsis out, I saw pretty quickly. There’s something about condensing a whole chapter into a single sentence and seeing those sentences side-by-side that make you think, Oh… well… how the crap do these two ideas follow? How did we get from there to here at all? I could see the gaps. And I could also see how I had neglected one simple thing.

When I approached this novel, I wrote an outline. This outline changed a lot and it existed as a perpetual Gmail draft so that I have no record of what the original looked like nor even what the final looked like (the outline was deleted). So I always had a relatively clear idea of where I was going, but not necessarily how I got there. I think that as things changed and shifted and moved, the original stakes were lost (in fact, the original narrative is nothing like the final) and I simply forgot about it. With the synopsis, I can see very clearly what the stakes should always have been. It’s so simple that I feel really dumb for not seeing it before. And it requires only a very minimal retouching of some lines here and there, and suddenly, everything makes sense and the narrative is cohesive (enough anyway).

I’m debating whether to continue calling this a work of literary fiction or to start marketing it as “young adult.” Maybe I’ll query it out as both and see what bites first.

Anyway, lesson learned: write your synopses.

End of Summer News

I am happy to announce that my short story “Asylum” will be published in Connotation Press in mid-November! I’m honoured to sit beside some great and prolific writers like Sara Lippmann and Kristine Ong Muslim. And there is a deep gratitude for Meg Tuite for working with me on this story and for agreeing to publish it. “Asylum” has been a long favourite of mine and the version that will run at Connotation Press is the best yet.

I’ll also be participating at 826DC’s monthly reading series — the lowercase — at Big Bear Cafe in DC on September 5th. Pretty exciting, as this will be my first reading!

The end of September brings Fall for the Book at GMU (and some other locations around the DC Metro area). I’m really excited to see and hear from Karen Russell, who kicks the event off. I have been a fan for some time now and she is certainly masterful at what she does. And I’m a pretty big Neil Gaiman fan, so that will be an amazing experience!

I am working through the edits to a new story and have the shells of others in the works. I’m also continuing work on my novel-in-progress (over 40,000 words now!) and just hoping to have a thick portfolio ready for when the residency and semester at Queens starts up.

On the athletic front, I’m preparing for the USAPL Virginia State Championships in October.

Overall, I’m really excited for the autumn to start. I have a few months of devoted work and some pretty exciting stuff ahead of me. Every day, I feel a little bit more like I deserve the lofty self-proclaimed identity of “writer.”