Category Archives: literary magazines

View from the Slushpile

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I’m the Fiction Editor at Kartika Review, and I take great pride in sifting through KR’s slushpile (I personally read the whole slushpile) and connecting with the work of other writers. In fact, great friendships have come out of the slushpile; I keep in touch with them to this day, and hang out with them at AWP and online on twitter.

But the slushpile is not without its gripes. And I decided to tweet about some of the things I experience each time. I tweeted in real time, and I hope the advice is well received. My friend Elizabeth Stark aggregated them on a blog post at Book Writing World a few days ago.

Here is part of the list…

1) Reading thru @KartikaReview slush pile. Do NOT start ur story with 3 pages of ITALICS. No. Just, no. nonononononooo.

2) Reading thru @KartikaReview slush pile. Do NOT start ur Asian-themed story w mentions of rice paddies/kohl/silk/lotuses/etc. NO. nonononono.

3) Reading thru @KartikaReview slush pile. If ur NOT Asian, I do NOT want 2 hear abt ur travels thru Asia fucking prostitutes & smoking opium. (Don’t wanna hear if you ARE Asian, either–but so far, it’s not a trend for writers of Asian descent to write the above, thus the specificity).

I am considering tweeting about manuscript protocol, too…

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Interview with HTML Giant

October 6, 2013

I’ve been on an interview kick, it seems. Peter Tieryas Liu queried me and Jennifer Derilo for an interview about our work as Kartika Review editors. So in between tasks involving caring for the baby (nap, feed, comfort, play, etc), I sat down and answered a few questions about what happens behind the scenes at Kartika with Jennifer for HTMLGiant. We discussed the slush pile, Asian American literature, and why we published what we publish.

Hope you enjoy.

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Sometimes silence isn’t a rejection

Penny legs up on the bed. Happy baby.

I wrote a story a few years ago. In fact, it was a story I began writing before my stroke. It was a story I resumed writing and editing after recovering from my stroke. It was a story that led me to Kartika Review and my current position there as Fiction Editor (thank you, Sunny). It was a story that had been good to me.

It was a story I sent out about sixty times. And it got rejected about sixty times. Maybe like, fifty-seven times. I didn’t hear back from a few places (like I said, about three places)–but after awhile (a year?) I just assumed the rejection got lost in the mail or that the more passive litmags didn’t even want to bother with sending a rejection. In one case, the litmag went under.

I stopped sending the story out. In the back of my mind, I thought I would revise it further. But really, I gave up on short stories and decided to focus on my novel. So it sat on my hard drive. The characters lingered in my memory.

It’s one of a number of short stories that I wrote and never had published. Some of the unpublished stories have placed as runner up in contests, an official way of saying they had “potential,” but like one of my mentors said, “Almost still means no in publishing.”

Short stories are heartbreaking to write, for me. So much effort, such a tidy format, so much legwork to submit, and such little chance for publishing. I mean, short story collections make literary agents break out in hives. Editors will more often than not buy story collections if the writer commits to writing a novel for their second book.

So it was with both my heart and head that I decided to focus on my novel.

It was a total surprise to me when last week, an editor emailed me about the story that had been rejected about fifty-seven times. The last time I’d sent out the story for consideration was almost three years ago. It had been almost three years since they received the story. “We’d like to consider it for our next issue,” he said.

I wasn’t sure if that meant yes–but I was still shocked that it wasn’t a no, after all this time. And it did turn out to be a yes; they’d accepted my story. At last.

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Kartika Review Spring Issue 15 is live

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The new Spring 2013 issue of Kartika Review is live! As the Fiction Editor, I’m particularly proud of the pieces by Wah-Ming Chang, Kaitlin Solimine, Anu Kandikuppa, and Sharon Hashimoto–though I’d like to also give a wink to my friend Jackson Bliss whose work is featured in the Creative Nonfiction section. And don’t miss our interview with the amazing Monique Truong.

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The Ethnic Literature Box

The Fourth Kingdom

I had an amazing time interviewing Don Lee for Guernica Magazine. We discussed books, writing, Orientalist book covers, his latest novel The Collective, and the trajectory of Asian American literature–all good stuff made even better by Don Lee’s candid and generous responses.

All it takes is a click to go read it. Hope you enjoy!

(And big thanks to Alexander Chee for pointing me in the direction of this opportunity).

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Kartika Review Spring 2012 issue!

I love the cover of our Spring 2012 issue!

Kartika Review, the literary magazine at which I was once Fiction Editor and am currently Editor-at-Large, has a newly redesigned website and a brand new Spring 2012 issue. I’m so proud of this beautiful issue, which features amazing writers, and beautiful cover art by Ako Castuera.

It’s been an interesting transition for me from Fiction Editor to Editor-at-Large over at Kartika; what exactly would I aim to do as Editor-at-Large? After spending a bit of time feeling the edges of my new role, and brainstorming special projects–I decided to plunge into what I enjoy best at Kartika; soliciting and interviewing emerging and established Asian American writers.

To that end, I’m proud to share with you interviews (page 72 and 78, respectively) with both Catherine Chung, author of an amazing (the glowing reviews are still rolling in) debut novel called Forgotten Country and Krys Lee, who debuted an equally acclaimed story collection, Drifting House.

Both Forgotten Country and Drifting House were highlighted giveaways on my blog, and they are books I recommend you buy and read. And I hope you enjoy Kartika Review‘s Spring issue!

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“Bile”

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About eight and a half years ago, I held out with trembling hand a story that I had written in secret. None of my friends knew I wanted to write fiction, but there I was, in a nighttime fiction workshop. It was the first story I’d ever written.

The workshop instructor said to send it out. And so I dumbly sent it out to ZYZZYVA. And that is how I was published for the first time in ZYZZYVA’s Fall 2003 issue.

Much gratitude to Howard Junker for finding my story and finding me. And now thank you to the current editors for featuring my story, “Bile” (circa 2003) on their website, along with some kind words today.

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