Monthly Archives: March 2017

Squee! “Lucky Shanghai Dumpling” Accepted by Phantom Drift: A Journal of New Fabulism

I don’t usually announce acceptances until I’ve signed on the dotted line, but I’ve had some correspondence that makes me feel comfortable enough to say here that Phantom Drift:  A Journal of New Fabulism accepted my story, “Lucky Shanghai Dumpling,” for this year’s issue.

While all sales excite me, there are some things that are particularly wonderful about this one.

Phantom Drift focuses on interstitial writing, the space between “genre” and “literary realism.” That’s the space where work I most love to read falls and where I’ve aspired to write — but until now, I haven’t published anywhere with that focus. I’m delighted to have had a story find a home in a venue that gives me street cred as an interstitial writer.

Phantom Drift publishes once a year, has one reading period a year, and will read only one story per author per reading period.

I’ve been sending them stories every year since I started focusing on speculative fiction, which means I submitted one story every year for the past four years. Mostly because I am a huge Leslie What fan. I smiled for days after she followed me back on Twitter. No joke. And while she’s now listed as contributing editor rather than co-fiction editor on the masthead, just having the tiniest writing connection with her has been a dream.  One I feared forever out of reach.

And every year for the first three years, I got a personal rejection. All of them very kind and complimentary, but at the end of the day, still rejections.

Two out three of those stories found homes elsewhere. One is still circulating, a story I personally believe to be my best work. It has received a lot of love from pro venues but no proposals as yet. But I’m confident it will sell somewhere someday.

Anyway, it became a personal goal of mine to crack Phantom Drift.

By last May, I’d pretty much decided what I was going to submit this year. The more I revisited the guidelines and read some of the stories in the journal, the more I was convinced that if “Lucky Shanghai Dumpling” didn’t sell to them it was unlikely any story I ever wrote would. “We like stories that create a milieu where anything can happen. Stories can take the form of myth or fable. They can invent or suggest an unreal ambiance or describe a realistic landscape gripped by a surreal or unexplained event…” Yeah, that’s this story.

“Lucky Shanghai Dumpling” is weird and experimental with no protagonist. The closest thing it has to a protagonist is a magical (or is it?) food truck.

And now, it’s going to meet the world in one of my dream markets.

Happy dance!











The Colored Lens Buys “The Cartographer Gene”

One of the first magazines to publish my speculative fiction, The Colored Lens, has bought another of my stories! “The Cartographer Gene,” one of my most plot-intensive stories, is slated to appear in the Spring 2017 issue. The Colored Lens publishes a lot of talented authors with whom my publishing, reading, and/or social media paths have crossed, including Julie C. Day, Jamie Lackey, and Rebecca Schwarz and I’m grateful to Dawn, Daniel, Henry, and Charlie for selecting my story.

I wrote and workshopped this story for a class through UCLA extension.  Alyx Dellamonica taught the class. It was a fun group.

Unlike so many of my stories, this one did not start from an exercise. I did use some of the exercises assigned during class as an opportunity to flesh out some of the scenes — including the climactic one. But the story started from an idea about a hereditary ability. It grew into an exploration of family dynamics where some members have a “gift” that others don’t, and how empty such a gift can be if it can’t be used to help others.

I recently rewrote certain parts of the story to change the antagonist from a Russian immigrant to a home grown bad guy. Though it was never my intent to suggest that all immigrants are bad guys, given the current political climate I wanted to avoid any possible reading that could support that interpretation.

Indeed, I have noticed that some of my stories have taken on more or different meanings given what’s currently going on in the world at present. Sometimes these meanings strike me as net positives, as with Piper: A Song for Flute and Chorus and Rumpelstiltskins. These stories had thematic elements that current events heightened and made more relevant than they perhaps were when I wrote them.

“Cartographer,” though, as originally instantiated, seemed to me to go the other direction and potentially to play into a narrative I didn’t want my work to support. The enemy isn’t immigration; it’s racism, sexism, antisemitism, homophobia, xenophobia. And people with guns who shouldn’t have them.

In any case, the antagonist is still just his own person and not meant to suggest that all red-staters are violent villains. Through the magic of white male privilege, I’m pretty confident that the risk of a rush to judgment on all white males is small.