Some things about ‘Jjincha’

Hello, readers.

One of my stories, “Jjincha,” is now out and available for you to click and buy at Amazon, as part of the anthology Dark Heart Volume 2, published by the small press wonders at Little Bird Publishing House in London. There’s a lot of good stories in there. Additional file and platform types, including an ink and paper version!, will be available from August 1st.

Also, as part of their promotion of Dark Heart Volume 2, the Little Bird folk are running a series of interviews of the authors. Mine went up yesterday. Inside, you’ll learn some things about me such as what happen to a Luke Skywalker action figure I once had and almost certainly didn’t bury somewhere.

Here are some things about “Jjincha.”

The first draft was written while on a plane. I was flying from Nashville to San Diego. In San Diego, I was set to attend the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. Jeffrey Ford was teaching that first week and, he had decided that every writer showing up to the workshop should have a brand new, 1,000 word, short story ready on landing. Jeff’s a fantastic writer and teacher. He didn’t take it easy on us. He was brutal and loving. We loved him for it.

When I got on the plane, I didn’t have a 1,000 word story.

When I landed, I had something slightly more than a 1,000 word story. I spent the night cutting some words. In the morning workshop, I read the story. Jeff said, “Great. It could be better. You can have 250 more words.”

I took his advice and made it better. I added a bit more than 250 words. Sorry, Jeff.

That’s what writing it was like.

As far as what it’s about–a monster, a bridge, and a young Korean girl in search of her dead father–that is something different and I’m not sure where it came from.

Possibly me flying away from my sister and my mom, who was in hospice at the time. It was a struggle, for me and my sister and my mom, this thing I was doing. Flying away.

Possibly it was about my own dad, who had passed away a few years before.

Possibly, it came from my 2 years teaching in Korea where I marveled at the bridges and the shadows underneath. There was a party once where I got to walk back into the caverns under a bridge. Bridges are cool. They connect worlds and people. 

Possibly it came from a girl I met in Korea whose name I stole for the main character. She gave me a book about the death of a Korean mother and the resulting mysteries and wonders that her family experiences in the aftermath. 

Possibly, it was all of these things.

Which is the best thing about stories. All of the things.

Happy Tuesday, readers.



Begin Again and Again

Hello, readers.

Happy whatever day it is where you are. Here, in Ho Chi Minh, it’s Thursday evening. Last night, I saw Begin Again, a new film from John Carney, writer and director of Once. We went to the Bitexco cinema. The Bitexco is a very tall building which features restaurants, coffee shops, a cinema, and also a helicopter pad that, so far as I know, exists solely to be a major plot point in action movies.

We paid 5,000VND extra to get VIP seats. 5,000VND is about a $0.25. The movie was pure joy, as was the audience. The crowd laughed and clapped and stomped along. A totally genuine bubbliness that matched what was on screen, which was bubbly and funny in a way that was magic. It felt like watching people having fun making a movie about people having fun figuring out what to do with their broken selves. Which is, of course, to begin again. And again. As needed. 

Here are some things:

1) The Awkward Robots are killing it of late.

Go read or listen to the awesome Lara Donnelly’s story, “Chopin Eyes” at Strange Horizons.

57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides“, the Shirley-Jackson-Award-nominated story from –superhero, community organizer, writer–has been included in Wilde Stories 2014, an anthology of the year’s best gay speculative Fiction. Woot!

In other Sam news, he and Ruby Katigbak, will be part of a “an unofficial, off-track, alcohol-fueled guerrilla reading” during Readercon, at midnight on Friday in the Burlington Marriott’s new Great Room. It will be hosted by Marco Palmieri, 

2) The awesome people I invited in my writing process blog post have put up there’s. Go read what A.S. Moser and Luke Pebler had to say and who they invited and how a blog tour can last forever.

3) My short story, “Jjincha”–which is about a little girl and a monster and also there’s a bridge–will be out in Dark Heart Volume 2 on July 11th. DarkHeart_v2

July 11th! That’s like. You know. Soon.

Don’t worry I’ll awesome all over the interweb when it’s available for clicking and reading.

3) I’m going to be in London starting in August. It’s a thing.

Happy Thursday, readers.


Some notes on notes

Hello, readers.

At one time, I kept a journal in which at the end of every day I wrote about the aforementioned day in the form of the following lists:

1) What did I do today?
2) What was I afraid of?
3) What did I do despite my fear?
4) What will I do tomorrow?

I did this for well over a year. It became a mental subroutine that, after some time, ran in the background throughout the day and then, rather easily, loaded up in the evening and generated output.

Three things I really loved about this.

1) I felt on top of things. I kept myself accountable. If I didn’t get something done, no worries. I knew that I would put it down in my journal with, more than likely, some thoughts of how to get it done.

2) Fear became conscious. Writing about my fears meant that pretty soon when I was scared to do something I would recognize that fear and think about how that night I would be writing about having felt that fear and how it influenced my actions. I felt stronger knowing my future self would be looking back at my present self.

3) I found having a schedule for reflection very helpful. Otherwise it’s all nostalgia all the time. My mind adores going over the past over and over again. Having a set time to reflect on my day, and its fears and hopes, was freeing.

One day, I stopped journaling. I felt that the sub-routine was so much a part of me that actually writing it all down felt unnecessary. And it was.

But lately I’ve missed writing a journal. I have and still do write all my stories long-hand, but what journaling I’ve done has been mostly in the form of this and other blogs, or notes stored in an Evernote notebook called Thoughts.

It’s not my favorite Evernote notebook.

It feels cumbersome to open Evernote and decided if my thought goes into the Thoughts notebook or another notebook.

Yesterday, I downloaded the Day One app and Vesper with this idea in mind of how to reflect on my life. I could use a notebook, but with my habit, lately, of always moving I am weary of collecting more notebooks than necessary (see above re: writing stories longhand).

Having Evernote, I did wonder if it was possible to have too many note apps. The answer of course is yes. Another answer and concern is that sometimes it feels like downloading apps replaces real action.

In this case, though, I feel like the different apps provide different contexts and so trigger different ways of thinking. Evernote, as some say, functions ike a big filing cabinet. Vesper will, I hope, function as a small notebook that stays forever tucked in my back pocket. I’ll take it out and make notes throughout the day and file the best ones away in Day One, or in Evernote.

And some of those thoughts, however filed, may end up here on the blog. Like this post. Which I wrote a large amount of in Day One when I was thinking of how I spent yesterday.

I don’t imagine that will happen too much.

Also, I’ve been thinking about creating a video blog. Which is a whole other thing. I wonder in what context, I would draft scripts? There’s an app called Drafts I might try.

Using all these apps, maybe I’ll keep my Evernote cabinet, and my mind, uncluttered by shards of half-considered inspiration. Or is that what I want? A cabinet full of the land of was and might be. I don’t know.

I don’t want to be fragmented in an unconscious way. I want my life to be chaotic and tagged, whimsical and precise. We’ll see how it goes.

Happy thoughts, readers.



Hello, readers.

Last night, some friends went to a HCMC karaoke place called Nnice. I don’t know what the extra ‘n’ is for. The room seated 9 comfortably and included walls on which rows of cut-out circles lit up like an equalizer. The rum was not good. Don’t drink it. I sang, among other things, “Stand By Me,” “I Swear,” and “Rainbow Connection.” The last may be my new go-to karaoke song. It’s singable and also it makes some people cry in the best of ways.

Previously mentioned future-writing-process-blogger, Luke Pebler, has put up his writing process blog in which therein are discussed: near-future immigrant power bandits, rock music revolutions on the moons of Jupiter, and how drafting stories is like “old progressive jpegs.” It’s great stuff.

An interesting article about how smart people sometimes are dumb by dint of their being smart enough to put themselves in contexts in which they keep being right and forget how often they might be wrong. (via daringfireball)

During the course of a 30+ hour journey from the U.S. to Vietnam, I spent about 8 hours in Tokyo’s two airports, Narita and Haneda. There was a missed connection and a transfer via a limousine bus involved. At Haneda, two Korean girls had a selfie-like photo shoot that was AMAZING. So many poses. Walking poses, surprise peek-a-boo poses. I loved it. I wish I had some pictures.

Two years ago today, I took a walk with a person who I knew I liked but didn’t know how much I would grow to love them. We had margaritas, missed a bus, and then attempted to find fireworks. We saw some from a bus that we didn’t miss. On the bus, there was a crazy person who kept yelling about things I’ve forgotten. What I remember of that night is that we got off the bus, walked down near the ocean, and saw some fireworks.

I love fireworks. I hope you have some in your today, readers. Or, if not today, then tomorrow. Or yesterday. Fireworks explode across time.


Happy love and fireworks, readers.