Tag Archives: short stories

#AWP17 Roundup

 

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Fellow C&R Press author Xu Xi and I at the private press reading party

My first AWP has come and gone. It was a pretty wild ride and absolutely wonderful to see old friends and meet new ones. The advanced copies of Meditations on the Mother Tongue sold out on Saturday afternoon. And the Friday night reading was a blast! I was truly blown away by the talent and skill of the other authors and am honored to be among their company.

I also now understand what everyone means when they say the interactions at AWP can be very awkward. It’s a little weird when you know someone either through their work or some other means first (they published you, or you have social media interactions) and you’re all suddenly in a place together. I think you expect to be really comfortable with them already, but you aren’t because you technically just met, and the dichotomy is a little unsettling at first. Plus there’s the frequency of just being star-struck by these legends whom you have admired for many years. But it was all very fun and it made me really feel like this book can make some waves.

Here’s hoping! Back to the lab.

Updates and AWP

I’ve been really busy in the past few months, first with going through revisions of the collection with the fantastic Andrew Sullivan (a very positive experience overall), with some marketing/promotional stuff, and also still chugging along at my WIP.

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First copies have arrived.

The above are my author’s copies, which have mostly been distributed at this point. You can start pre-ordering copies directly from the publisher here or purchase from Amazon here. Copies will be available for sale at AWP as well. Keep an eye out for C&R Press’s booth!

For AWP next week, C&R Press are holding a party and reading event on Friday night, starting at 7PM, at 18th Street Lounge in DC. If you find yourself free, stop on by!

Lastly, I just want to give this update on the WIP: the first draft (after four separate re-starts) is finally complete, though it took me a year longer than I expected it to. I’m starting the revision process now — it’s daunting and exhausting (there’s so much work to do on it!), but I think it’s going to be worth it.

Back to work. Maybe I’ll see you next week.

 

MEDITATIONS ON THE MOTHER TONGUE short story collection forthcoming from C&R Press

I am ecstatic to report that, with thanks to editors John Gosslee and Andrew Sullivan, my short story collection MEDITATIONS ON THE MOTHER TONGUE will be released in 2017 by C&R Press. I’m honored to be part of this family–C&R has released some wonderful work and they are already showing a passion and commitment to my own work that I could not be more grateful for. I owe a deep thanks to everyone out there who helped to make this possible.

In related news, it seems I will be in New York City next month for the Brooklyn Book Festival. There will be more readings to come, I’m sure. Will keep everyone updated.

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.

Gargoyle #61 and Other Updates

I’ve made my selection for my week of guest editorship at Smokelong Quarterly. It wasn’t easy; there were a number of really great pieces. Even pieces I could see myself loving very deeply, had they not had a fatal flaw or two that said to me they weren’t quite ready for submission. The selection I made was everything I look for in a piece of flash, was elegantly executed, closed in a way that resonated back through the rest of the piece. I’ll be excited to see it up.

In other news, a short story I’ve waited nearly a year to see released has come in Gargoyle #61, along with many other great writers and friends. This was one of most dear pieces to me, one of the first times I wrote candidly about racial shame. There’s a strange and fairly universal phenomena in being a visible minority, since you live your whole life being compared against the dominant culture, and that’s a deeply-seated sense of shame for being born the way you are. Everyone grows out of it at a different rate, but that shame can manifest into guilt, into rage, into self-hatred. I wrote a character that experiences all of this well into adulthood, and has to come to terms with his own racial identity. Plus, there are squid and lots of linguistic playfulness. The result is titled “The Message of My Skin.” Order a copy, if you feel so inclined.

I’d also like to an extend a very heartfelt thanks to editor Richard Peabody, who recently let me know that my story was one of Gargoyle‘s Pushcart Prize nominations. I’m incredibly honored, not only to be included in Gargoyle’s rich history in American independent literature, but to have my work represent it for the Pushcart. I can hardly believe it, really.

Lastly, a recent piece of mine has been picked up by another indie press I’m rather fond of. More on that later. 🙂

Two Stories!

Update: Turns out I see the release of two stories today. The e-book and Kindle version of Sententia: The Journal’s Issue 5 has been released (print version to come in July). I really love the piece included here, entitled “Conversations with the Rest of the World.” It’s an exploration of my own personal life fantasy: to communicate with a great ape through American Sign Language. I don’t know ASL, though I’m trying to learn. In this story, a young girl is born deaf, ASL being her “native language,” and she discovers during a zoo trip that she can communicate with the gorillas. I owe Paula Bomer and Adam Robinson a tremendous amount of gratitude for picking this story up and sharing it with others.

Original Post:

My friends over at Big Lucks have put up a fun little short story I wrote. I’ve just recently joined the masthead at what I think is one of the most stellar indie presses at DC, but long before that, I had this piece accepted by these lovely and amazing people. “The Phantom Harlot” is, in essence, a ghost story that stemmed from an idea I originally had for a novel: a couple moves into a haunted house and begins conducting recording sessions in a particular room, hoping to capture what’s known in ghost hunting circles as “electronic voice phenomena” (EVP). These are disembodied voices captured on recordings that were inaudible at the time of the recording itself.

It’s a really fascinating phenomena to me, this EVP business. I wondered what it’d be like to have a consistent call-and-response with a ghost in this way. You’d give a sort of monologue, leave the recorder running, and listen to the response the morning after. I thought, If people can fall in love with each other solely through emails and the written word, why not a “letter exchange” through spoken word? The novel itself didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to. The idea wasn’t large enough and I was forcing it, so I rewrote it as a short story.

Hope it’s an enjoyable read. Thanks so much to Mike and Mark for publishing this!

I made the Best American Essays 2013’s Notables list

The Best American Short Stories 2013 details have been posted and it looks really good. Laura van den Berg has two notable stories (as well as a notable in Non-Required Reading too!) and Lauren Groff has a story on the Notables list for each too. Karen Russell made Non-Required Reading! I’m really excited for both anthologies.

This, of course, led me to Best American Essays 2013’s details page. I did a quick scan of the authors who made it and then I immediately popped over to the Notables list. It was a long shot and I didn’t have high hopes, but I also really believe in the worth of my essay, so I clicked and scrolled. And there it was. Right at the bottom of the page. My name. My essay.

Heart-stopped, stunned, I stared at the screen for a good ten minutes. I stopped all work. I couldn’t process anything. I haven’t been writing seriously for very long, even if it’s something I always knew I had to do, so no part of me expected to make a list like that so soon in my career. I cannot thank non-fiction editor Nick Anderman and the Carolina Quarterly enough for running my essay. I’m really just in awe right now.

I guess this counts, huh? I’m on the right path in life, moving in the right direction.

Update: I’ve also placed a story in the Southern Humanities Review. Whoo!