Tag Archives: publication

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.

One More Forthcoming and Another Article at the Good Men Project

My second installment of writing about vigilantism at the Good Men Project is a lot more real, taking a close examination of what it means to be an American and whether taking the law into your own hands (and sometimes defying the government itself) can be an act of patriotism. Thanks to Noah Brand for working with me on this and to my friend (who knows who she is) for being the first set of eyes on it.

In other news, I recently had a story recently accepted to the next issue of Sententia: The Journalmany thanks to editor Paula Bomer for taking the chance on this piece. And thanks to my co-worker, who is now a good friend, for not being creeped out when a relative stranger told her that he used her likeness for a character in a story. This particular piece is inspired by an item on my Bucket List (Item 56 — Have a conversation with a bonobo or gorilla in American Sign Language). This has been a story I’ve struggled with repeatedly, so I am very very grateful for this acceptance.

Forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine!

I’m ecstatic to announce that I’ve just had a story accepted to Gargoyle Magazine. Like my piece in Big Lucks, this will run in 2014, so it’s a ways out, but all the same I am honoured to have my work appear in such a fabulous publication with such a deep local history. The story, titled “The Message of My Skin,” is one of the more honest pieces I’ve written. It takes place in the neighbourhood that I grew up in–coincidentally the neighbourhood Gargoyle is based out of and which I more or less still live in–and discusses Vietnamese crime in the Washington, DC area. I am humbled.

So the year 2013 is somewhat lacking, though I have done much revision in the past seven months. I think this thing will go in waves of creativity and then re-working, so I’m going to not let myself become too anxious about my dried up well of creative energy right now. I’m happy to know that I’ve secured some publications in 2014 and that they are two very different stories. Compared to my earlier published work, I think that my range is growing and my voice is becoming clearer. Very happy for that.

Until next time.

A Quick Update

It’s been a long time since I’ve written an entry in this blog. I’d love to say that I’ve been a busy bee, toiling away at the arduous labour that is the writer’s life, but that’s not exactly accurate. In the past few months, I’ve only managed to produce two additional short stories and most of a third.

What I have been doing:

  • Founding and curating a new reading series in Arlington, VA … it’s coming great and we’ve got quite the season booked for this summer. More details to come.
  • Going to other readings … I’ve had the pleasure of seeing one of my new favourite writers — Marie-Helene Bertino — read from her novel-in-progress along with Elliott Holt, Scott McClanahan, Sara Rose Etter, Matthew Salesses, Laura van den Berg and so so soooo many other great writers. This is the kind of thing I live for.
  • I have a review / recommendation for Ms. Bertino’s debut collection, Safe as Houses, forthcoming at TheLitPub (it’s REAAAALLY good)
  • A short story is forthcoming in Big Lucks — huge thanks to Michael Beeman, Mark Cugini and Chris Molnar for featuring my work!
  • Reading and other schoolwork

So it has been actually fairly busy. There’ve also been this huge debates internally about whether or not to move. For now, I’m staying put.

I have a more personal anecdote to share, but I’ll reserve those thoughts for another time when I can devote more to it.

Happy writing, all.

Carolina Quarterly!

cq62-3cover2I wanted to avoid posting this until I had the issue in my hands, and now I am happy to share that I’ve been published in The Carolina Quarterly’s winter issue! This is the first non-fiction piece I’ve ever written and recounts a tale from my childhood years. The essay is titled “Redshift.” Check it out at the NewPages webstore!

I am deeply grateful to the Carolina Quarterly and Non-Fiction Editor Nick Anderman for accepting my piece. Not only that, but–as you can see–I’m excerpted on the cover. I’m also the excerpt for CQ’s TellItSlant submission page! Humbly honoured.

Acceptance to the Kartika Review!

I’ve another short story accepted for publication, this time to The Kartika Review. Very rarely do I ever write anything that stems from being Asian-American. I’ve actually taken great strides to distance myself from that identity. I want to be known for writing great stories, not for writing great Asian stories. I think Nam Le sums up how I feel on the matter best:

My relationship with Vietnam is complex. For a long time I vowed I wouldn’t fall into writing ethnic stories, immigrant stories, etc. Then I realized that not only was I working against these expectations (market, self, literary, cultural), I was working against my kneejerk resistance to such expectations. How I see it now is no matter what or where I write about, I feel a responsibility to the subject matter. Not so much to get it right as to do it justice. Having personal history with a subject only complicates this — but not always, nor necessarily, in bad ways. I don’t completely understand my relationship to Vietnam as a writer.

Hoan Kiem Lake’s giant turtle

I wrote this story after my girlfriend and I broke up (right around the time this blog was started). I was fairly distraught over the idea of suddenly being alone again and needed to write out my grief, sense of loss, and abrupt solitude. I didn’t want to do a break-up/divorce story (I seem to do those best when I’m not feeling like that). Somehow, the news article I read about a giant turtle from Vietnamese legend being discovered sick came into my mind and provided the backdrop for this story. I found myself writing about Vietnam for the first time in my life, but there was enough distance (and subtle amounts of fantasy) that I could do it without necessarily being very personal about the whole process.

The Kartika Review is a journal with a themed focus on the experience of Asian-American diaspora. Honestly, I could never write about my experience with that diaspora. It almost seems like whining. But I’m proud of what this story – originally very cathartic, raw, and super cheesy – has turned into. I’m happy and extraordinarily grateful to have it face the publicAfter, of course, the editor takes a knife to it. 🙂