2015 Roundup

2014 was the year I started writing and submitting. I like to think that 2015 was where I really made things happen, though.

My goal was 30 submissions, and while I didn’t reach that, I did submit 22 times over the year, which isn’t bad, considering I’m doing this with a full-time job (not to mention a shiny new relationship since April). Out of those 22 submissions, one was accepted: “Of Peach Trees and Coral-Red Roses” will be in Kaleidotrope‘s summer issue this year. Also of note: “Dreaming Keys” is in the anthology An Alphabet of Embers, due to be released in February. It’s my first published piece, so I’m quite proud of it.

Also, I submitted twice to the Writers of the Future Contest, and got two Honorable Mentions for the third and fourth quarters. Here’s a nice badge they gave me for the fourth quarter:


While I did write new stories in 2015, a lot of them are unfinished, either because I would go, “oh, shit, that word count is way too high” or “oh, shit, I don’t know how to finish this thing.” I’m hoping that won’t happen as much this year. Currently I’m working on something for PoC Destroy SF, and the issues behind those are: too many ideas, not enough time and energy, and a perfectionist habit that I’m desperately trying to break. I really don’t think writers can be told “the only perfect first draft is a finished one” too many times.

I also did a lot of reading! A lot of great books came out this year, including Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings, Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings, Mira Grant’s Rolling in the Deep, Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, and Catherynne Valente’s Radiance. I was also introduced to The Dragon King Chronicles by Ellen Oh, and Shira Glassman’s Mangoverse, which are both utterly delightful series (Mangoverse is ongoing; the next book, The Olive Conspiracy, is coming out in July.)

Because I am superstitious about certain things, such as this upcoming Mercury retrograde, I’m considering rereading some of last year’s books and posting reviews. I need to be more present here, anyway, so I may as well ask you, the readers: along with book reviews, is there anything else you would like to see? Posts about cooking, perhaps? Or beauty products?

To close, I have some goals for this year:

  • get up to 30 submissions;
  • lose the perfectionist streak and finish more stories; trust betas to help me fix them later;
  • get more exercise, due to high triglycerides running in one side of the family;
  • learn to weave.

Best wishes for a smooth, productive 2016!

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Story Sale to Kaleidotrope

I had a bit of a harrowing weekend, what with attending a family event, which included being on the road for at least six hours on Saturday and Monday. The family event itself was fine! But there was a lot of hectic rushing about, and I can only take so much of that.

And it’s been a bit of a stressful week, but one very, very bright spot was that when I came home on Monday, I discovered that I’d sold my short story, “Of Peach Trees and Coral-Red Roses,” to Kaleidotrope. It’ll be out in the Summer 2016 issue!

This story is a retelling of Tam Lin, and has a touch of inspiration from wuxia stories and Chinese mythology. It’s near and dear to my heart for several reasons, but the main two are that 1) I’ve been drawn to Tam Lin in a way that I keep coming back to it, like a favorite vacation spot, and 2) this is an attempt to try and put East Asian heroines in a world that I’d always found closed off to me since childhood, because as a kid, I would read all this great fantasy, but subconsciously there would always be that notion that these were worlds that I could never, ever enter.

If you’re looking for a great story like this with East Asian heroines, I highly, highly recommend SL Huang’s Hunting Monsters. Seriously, go read it if you haven’t already!

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Alphabet of Embers ToC

So the official ToC for Alphabet of Embers has been released, including yours truly, along with other awesome folks like Zen Cho, M Sereno, and Emily Jiang (you should read their work, it’s terrific).

Otherwise, not much going on here except writing and submitting. I’ve managed to submit two stories so far, and I’m hoping to increase that number by December 31. I’m trying to do 500 words a day if I’m not editing, with 1000 words on weekends, but we’ll see how that goes. A friend suggested a story bank, which is basically a document with all the story ideas I’ve thought up so I have one now. It’s a short list, but it’s growing, little by little.

Hope everyone had a good new year, and hoping that 2015 has good things for everyone.

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On Bravery

I feel like I don’t have enough for a Year in Review here when it comes to blog posts, but on the other hand, a lot did happen in 2014 when it came to writing.

I started thinking seriously about submitting around 2013, although like almost every writer, I’d been writing longer before that (Seriously, I have a story I wrote when I was thirteen that was going to be a novel. To this day, I still can’t look at it). A lot of it was motivated by anger, admittedly, or as Ken Liu said when announcing his novel, reacting against things. Unfortunately, 2013 wasn’t exactly productive, because real life got hectic, but also because I spent way too much time talking about the stories I had in mind instead of actually writing them.

So when 2014 started, I made a resolution to stop talking about writing, sit down, and actually write. And then actually submit, which was the hardest part.

It seems to have gone well so far. My first submission was to Writers of the Future in January, and then to an anthology in June, followed by another one in July, yet another in August, and then magazines starting in September. My last submission for this year was sent in late December, and I got the rejection yesterday.

Speaking of rejections, with the exception of Alphabet of Embers, the submissions were rejected, but out of them, two were personal. Maybe I’m on the right track. AoE is out in 2015, and while I’m resubmitting two previously rejected stories, I’ve got two more that are bouncing around in drafts, and at least three or four that are in my story bank. And all the while, it makes me really happy, because wow, guys, I’m actually doing it.

And it’s huge for me because if you asked me a few years ago, it would have just been a pipe dream. Because I wasn’t really brave enough to put myself out there. The idea of being rejected, or never making it, scared me (which isn’t good because as I’ve learned, almost everything gets rejected anyway). So maybe this isn’t a big deal for some, but if I had to put down one big thing that happened in 2014, it wouldn’t be just the acceptance (although that’s a big deal in and of itself), but it’s the fact that I finally managed to get the guts to put myself out there.

So here’s to 2015, with more productivity, and hopefully more of my stuff out there.

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First Sale: The Story That Almost Never Happened (or, The Bastard That is Self-Rejection)

So a week or two ago, I got the news that my story “Dreaming Keys” had been accepted for the anthology An Alphabet of Embers, due to be released next year. To say I am thrilled would be a huge, huge understatement. It’s my first professional sale, and my first sale, period.

Anyway, while I have you all here, I might as well take a moment to discuss self-rejection, because to tell you the truth, I wasn’t going to submit anything in the first place.

I’d gotten wind of AoE because of the Kickstarter last summer,  a month or two after I’d started submitting my work. At first I didn’t think of submitting, since it seemed like what I usually wrote wouldn’t fall under what the editors were looking for, and the sheer number of submissions they were getting intimidated me, to say the least. In short: I didn’t think I was up to the challenge, and thanks to seeing them get roughly 200 submissions only days–days–after the reading period opened, I also thought my chances were nil.

It wasn’t until others encouraged me to submit that I decided to take a story I’d trunked and rework it, and while I was rewriting it from scratch, I mentioned to Rose Lemberg, the editor, that the number of submissions they’d gotten made me nervous. This is what they told me:

Here is my message to you: send your work. Send it everywhere. Don’t self-reject. Please. Make it the best submission you can, and then send it out. It’s not a guarantee of acceptance, but it is a guarantee that your work will be considered, which you cannot get if you self-reject🙂

That was a big deal, to get that encouragement, after having had another story rejected twice, one that I thought was really, really strong, and after being told in general that if I received compliments, the person giving them was just being polite and therefore didn’t really mean it. It made me shy; it made me always wonder if I was imposing or burdening others. Not to mention I was an adherent of ‘hope for the best, and prepare for the worst,’ with emphasis on preparing for the worst, so I tried not to get my hopes up too much, because I wanted to deal with as little disappointment as possible.

Shortly after I got Rose’s email, I took that rejected story and sent it in to Fantasy & Science Fiction–more specifically, the issue being guest edited by C.C. Finlay. Did I think it would get in? No. But I’d seen the submission call asking for diverse stories going around on Twitter and figured, “well, I have nothing to lose: here goes.”

I was half right: I didn’t get an acceptance, but I did get a kind personal rejection that had incredibly helpful pointers. Maybe I’m overvaluing it, but the advice gave me an extra jolt of encouragement to look at the story again with fresh eyes, now that the issues had been pointed out, and really try and make it even better. It’s changed quite a bit from how it used to be, so hopefully I can start submitting it again soon.

Fast forward to November, and now, I’ve got my first story published, one that I put away and didn’t think about for a long, long while. And to think I almost didn’t toss my hat in the ring to begin with! I am so, so, grateful to Rose and to others who encouraged me to submit.

Still, this is only the beginning. I’ve got other stories in the works, and hopefully, you’ll see more from me in the future.

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In which Junot Diaz is one of my heroes

A friend of mine sent me this quote when I mentioned how I wanted to write stories where WoC were the heroes instead:

“You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”

You guys should read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by the way. I don’t know how Diaz managed to blend nerd language and Dominican history seamlessly together, but the words leap off the page and leave you wanting more.

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Breathing Underwater

My story, “Breathing Underwater,” can be read at The Book of Imaginary Beasts!

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