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What I Read, 2017 Week 1

Total Count: 5 pieces of short fiction | 60 poems

January 1: “Long Time Lurker, First Time Bomber” by Mason Edwards, FIYAH 1: Rebirth, Winter 2017. Short fiction.

January 1:Loneliness Is in Your Blood” by Cadwell Turnbull, Nightmare 52, January 2017. Short story; 2,100 words.

January 2:In the Middle of Maize Country” by Omar Sakr, Twisted Moon 1, October 2016. Long poem; 110 lines.

January 3: “Except Thou Bless Me” by Nicasio Andrés Reed, Uncanny 14, January/February 2017. Short poem; 18 lines.

January 3:In Lieu of the Stories My Santera Abuela Should Have Told Me Herself, This Poem” by Carlos Hernandez, Uncanny 14, January/February 2017. Long poem; 226 lines.

January 3: You Are Happy by Margaret Atwood, Harper & Row, 1974. Approx. 57 poems.

January 5: “The White Dragon” by Alyssa Wong, in Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling, eds. Jaym Gates & Monica Valentinelli, Apex Publications, 2016. Short fiction.

January 6: Next Station, Shibuya” by Iori Kusano, Apex Magazine 92, January 2017. Short story; 3,700 words.

January 7:Bodies Stacked Like Firewood” by Sam J. Miller, Uncanny 14, January/February 2017. Short story; 6,800 words.

Goals for 2017

Placing this here so I have a public accountability post 😊 

Base Goals:

  1. Move to Seattle
  2. Actually reach out and be social in Seattle
  3. Write at least three story drafts
  4. Stick to my meal plan
  5. Exercise at least three times a week
  6. Release all three issues of Arsenika on time
  7. Keep Arsenika response times under 14 days (excluding holds)
  8. Solicit/invite/encourage authors and make efforts at diversifying Arsenika
  9. Read at least 20 books of novella+ length 
  10. Read at least 100 short stories of flash+ length but not novella length (excluding submissions)
  11. Read at least 300 poems of any length (excluding submissions)
  12. Write weekly roundup post on what I read
  13. Donate at least once a month
  14. Actually call reps about stuff and take more political action

Stretch Goals:

  1. Volunteer at Clarion West
  2. Attend at least one Clarion West party
  3. Net weight gain of 5 pounds or less for all of 2017
  4. Write at least 5 story drafts and 3 poetry drafts
  5. Submit work (fiction + poetry) at least 50 times
  6. Keep Arsenika response times under 7 days (excluding holds)
  7. Read 35 books of novella+ length
  8. Read 300 short stories of flash+ but not novella length (excluding submissions)
  9. Read at least 600 poems of any length (excluding submissions)
  10. Write monthly roundup posts of my favorite things I read that month
A flock of birds

Colophon: Her Sacred Spirit Soars

It occurs to me that I never posted a colophon for my one full-length short story publication this year, “Her Sacred Spirit Soars” (podcast). Well, better late than never, right?

This story has been through so much, y’all, but it’s a standing reminder to me of how much of a story comes out in the revision process. My first draft of this story (written for the Fall 2015 Short Fiction course at the Brainery) was an attempt to write a selkie story that wasn’t a selkie story, and then I wrote a selkie story, so this one could be free of that weight—then I started turning it into a story about mythical birds, about love and loss, about depression and recovery.

I’m not exactly sure how I came up with the idea, except that I was searching out mythical creatures from Chinese folklore and came across the qianqian (or kimkim). I found myself fascinated, but also frustrated, as I couldn’t find very much information on them online, whether in English or in Chinese. So I decided to face my diasporic impostor syndrome—Who’s to say I’m any authority on Chinese culture; who’s to say I can play with and bend with it?—and do what I wanted and imagine how I saw fit: after all, vampires and werewolves have so many iterations and one doesn’t have to be a cultural expert to play with them.

So I ran with it, this weird idea about symbiotic birds and reviving coma patients and electroconvulsive therapy and body swapping and amnesia and love and loss and depression and recovery, and it coalesced into a story that ended up working. Which teaches me to just go with the flow of my ideas and trust that they’ll find an audience.

Part of this story draws from personal experience: I don’t keep it a secret that I deal with my own share of mental health problems. When I think about this story, I recall sitting in my therapist’s office and struggling to explain to her why I write the stories I write: “I guess I always end up writing what I needed to hear when I was younger—messages of hope and reassurance.”

And this story exemplifies that—it’s a story that says you can love again after you’ve suffered a loss; it’s a story that says there are people out there who will support you, that says things will get better, even if things don’t turn out perfect. It’s a story about acceptance, one that doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic to be true. (Not that there’s anything wrong with romantic stories, but I wrote this story on some level to be an aromantic show of love—it’s as much platonic love as it is any other kind of love.)

I also created a mixtape that collects a few songs that play off the mood of the story as it progresses:

And here’s the song that I nicked the title from; Eric Whitacre is one of my favorites:

I hope you enjoyed this story and my notes, and as always, thanks for reading. ♥

Cover photo by Micolo J

2016 Awards Eligibility

With the Nebulas now open for nominations, SFFH awards season has officially arrived. A.C. Wise has a fantastic meta post of awards eligibility posts and links to reviewers; in it, she reiterates the importance of art even—especially—in these times: “[T]he art we make is important. Stories are important. So as award season gets under way and 2016 comes to an end, it’s a perfect time to look back and celebrate what you’ve accomplished over the year, as well as celebrating the works you loved.”

I’ve had a number of things come out this year. The first awards eligibility I’ll mention is that I am in my first year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Next are my individual works for this year:

Chimera” by Gu Shi (Clarkesworld, March 2016) is a translation that Ken Liu and I worked on together. It’s a complex story that explores family and bioethics through parents desperate enough to save their son that they create the first viable human–pig chimera. But their experimentation comes at a cost… Eligible novella for the Nebula and the Hugo.

Her Sacred Spirit Soars” (Strange Horizons, July 2016: Our Queer Planet) is a story about love and loss, about caring for yourself and others; it’s also about symbiotic mythological creatures and a human–bird body swap. Eligible short story for the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award.

Th Fifth Lttr” (Daily Science Fiction, September 12, 2016) is a linguistic dystopia, a story about the power of language and resistance to tyranny. Eligible short story for the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award.

“Someone’s Checking You Out Right Now!” (Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures, October 2016 from DefCon One Publishing) is a story told as an OKCupid profile of a lonely jiangshi, or Chinese zombie/vampire. Eligible short story for the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award.

The Lies You Learned” (Liminality, March 2016) is about the oppression we internalize, the twisted relationships that we justify. Eligible long poem for the Rhysling Award.

Children of the Geese” (Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry, July 2016) is my anti-love letter to geese and how terrifying they are. Eligible short poem for the Rhysling Award.

Parallax” (inkscrawl, August 2016) is a tiny poem about space. Eligible short poem for the Rhysling and Dwarf Star awards.

肉骨茶 (Meat Bone Tea)” (Uncanny, September 2016) is my ode to food and friendship. Eligible short poem for the Rhysling.

My narration of “Just a Little Spice Will Do by Andrew Wilmot (GlitterShip, May 2016) is eligible for Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form) [SCS] for the Parsec Awards.

My narration of “The Gold Silkworm” by Tony Pi (PodCastle, July 2016) is also eligible for Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form) [SCS] for the Parsec Awards.

Aaand… that’s it, I think! Wow, I did a lot in 2016. Many thanks to everyone who’s supported me and made all this possible ♥!

September Updates

MidAmeriCon II was a delight; it was wonderful to meet people I’d only known online and get in touch with new contacts. Thanks to Con or Bust for funding my travel and stay! Please consider supporting them so they can get more fans of color out to conventions.

Strange Horizons published my short story “Her Sacred Spirit Soars” in their July special Our Queer Planet; a podcast narrated by Anaea Lay is also available. In August, my poem “Children of the Geese” was published in Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry, and my poem “Parallax” was published in inkscrawl 10.

Uncanny Issue 12 CoverSeptember Poetry

Star anise floats in the night-sea of meat bone tea,
backed by the cloud-flower shapes of lingusticum.

Issue 12 of Uncanny features my poem “肉骨茶 (Meat Bone Tea),” read by the wonderful Amal El-Mohtar. This poem is dedicated to Jaymee Goh, who inspired me with her friendship and delicious home-made bak kut teh. It’s the perfect treat for our upcoming fall weather.

Read Now

Coming Soon

I’ve just received the final proofs for Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures, edited by Jeremy Zimmerman and Dawn Vogel, forthcoming from Mad Scientist Journal. The book should be available toward the end of September or early October; I’ll send order information out as soon as I have it.

I also have fiction forthcoming from Daily Science Fiction and GlitterShip, as well as a poem forthcoming from Strange Horizons—more information on those and upcoming projects as their release dates near.

As always, you can get more behind-the-scenes glimpses and updates by supporting me on Patreon. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter as well.