1st Piece Accepted in 2016

I got the good news recently that my flash fiction piece "Living in the Future," which is part of my short story collection Atlas of Tiny American Desires, was accepted in the literary journal Arts & Letters and will be appearing in either the Fall 2016 or Spring 2017 issue.  Nothing like a short story acceptance to keep my spirits up.

1st Story Accepted in 2015

Yesterday, I got the good news that my short story "My 12-Step Program for Yuki Hiramoto," which is part of my debut collection Atlas of Tiny Desires, was accepted by the Santa Monica Review.  Of course, this is fucking awesome, not only because I've been sending the SMR submissions since oh, 2005, when I started my MFA program, but also because it's one of the best journals out there.  Certainly, one of the top west coast journals.  And, while I know the publishing landscape has changed a shitload since then, I happen to know that my friend and mentor, Aimee Bender, found her agent (Henry Dunnow) after she'd published her own story in the Santa Monica Review, so there's always hope when you're getting your shit out there for the world to see.

Reaching People in Your Writing

I got this email a few days ago, the kind that makes you feel great about being a writer.  I love connecting with other writers + I also appreciate it when strangers do kind things (for anyone).  Something as simple as forwarding my name to Roxane Gay's writers of color project is such a beautiful + appreciated thing.  And as long as there are people reading your fiction, then your writing has cultural resonance, which is what we all want on some level.  It's interesting for me to hear from people who witnessed the LROD scrap I got in (pretty much me against the world).  I can't tell you how many  friends I've made through my website.  Thank god for the digital era!

Jackson Bliss,

I've been following your writing for quite some time (I think ever since your kerfuffle with the Literary Rejections On Display blog, now defunct). I was actually also one of the ones who forwarded your name to Roxane Gay who did that list of writers of color who should be noticed (I saw from your blog that someone else mentioned you as well. Right on). I'd been a casual observer of your work, refraining from messaging you or commenting. However, this semester in the creative writing class I teach, I've assigned my students to do presentations on stories they find from online and print journals. We've just finished up the presentations from stories they picked from an online journal of their choice and are moving on to stories from a print journal. Today one of my students wanted to check in with me over a story she is going to present on, and I looked at it and realized it was one of yours, first published in The Antioch Review."What are the odds?" I wondered, and I thought I should send you this message.  I'm a writer as well. I know what it's like to feel as if the work you're doing isn't reaching people, so I wanted to let you know that your stories are reaching others. 

So, keep going, for what it's worth. Also, good luck with your PhD program. I just started one here in Missouri and jesus christ is it a lot of work.

Take care,


Shout Outs from the Universe

Sometimes when I'm being really narcissistic + curious about the great big world, I'll google myself, hoping to find some secret Pushcart nomination I never knew about from years ago or another blog of someone who read one of my short stories (it happens, but never enough), which usually means stumbling on some insolent/ignorant comment from some unpublished, superopinionated anonymous poster who doesn't have the courage to use her/his real name but somehow knows everything about me + the industry.  But sometimes, self-googling reveals whispers of your own existence you really want to believe in + also educates you about rad websites you didn't even know existed before you pushed the search button.  The first is a review of my short story "30 Roofies" in the literary blog The Review Review. This story was originally published in Quarterly West + is part of my collection, Atlas of Tiny Desires.  In case you're not wearing your bifocals, here's a close-up of the paragraph about "30 Roofies":

While I don't find this blurbish story review to be particularly profound, I'm very grateful for the press + also appreciate the author's admiration.  Really, I'll take whatever coverage I can get when it comes to my own writing.  As Tom has told me many times, the only thing we're trying to do as aspiring writers is publish our shit + find our audience.  Boom.

Another blog I discovered after self-googling was Ruelle Electrique that reviews literary journals, books + video games, among other things (three things after my very own heart). Ruelle Electrique reviewed my short story "$67.00 for My Favorite Dictator," (retitled "A Full Cellar" by Howard Junker), which was published in the every-snazzy, always fantastic ZYZZYVA.  "$67.00 for My Favorite Dictator" is another story included in my short story collection, Atlas of Tiny Desires.  Again, if you don't have spidievision, feel free to read the follow close-up below.  Or not:

And lastly, I discovered last month that I was included in an amazing, on-going project at The Rumpus to identify the blog or website of practically every writer of color on the face of the earth, which is no small undertaking, let me tell you that.  While I know that I'm hapa, a lot of people I've met in my life don't give me that honor.  I mean, I still have Asian friends who think they're the only Asian in the room.  It just doesn't sink in for many people because I'm not legibly Japanese-American.  So, in a small, tiny way, I found it both amazing + encouraging to see so many writers of color in this world (+ growing all the time!), + I also found it slightly empowering to get acknowledgment for who I am at such a great literary website like The Rumpus, not just for what I look like to the world.  Here's my name, in between Jabarsi Asiam and Jacqueline Woodson:

Moving On Up

Until you've become the darling of the glossies, writing fiction is not a very profitable business.  In fact, most of the time, we're happy just to get a story accepted into a goddamn literary journal.  That's often--usually--the thing we care most about.  So getting paid is always an unexpected bonus for aspiring writers.  The truth is, F. Scott Fitzgerald wouldn't have lasted two years in the current biz before he said, "fuck this, there's no money here, Zelda" + of course, he'd be absolutely right.

You can understand, then, my giddiness for the check I got in the mail today for $180.00 for my short story, "The Blue Men inside My Head"!  This piece is slated for publication in the Fall issue of the Antioch Review + one of the stories in my collection, Atlas of Tiny Desires.  In the writing world, $180 is like a shitload of money! The most I'd received prior to today was fifty bucks from ZYZZYVA, the Kenyon Review + $45 from the Notre Dame Review, all of which I was very happy with.  Also, I was supposed to receive £22 for Stand Magazine, but sadly, the check never came from Leeds, England + I decided to stop fighting that fight eventually.  Anyway, I don't mean this entry in braggy kinda way, I'm just really fucking stoked that for the first time in my life, I received a check for triple digits for my writing.  I see this as a tiny but major victory in my writing trajectory.

Now that I'm practically $200 richer, it's time to spend this shit.  If you live in Chicago, I'll buy you tea sometime.  Just text me.

Putting Myself Out There because I Have to

Becoming an emerging writer is a Quixotic, blunt, heart-breaking delusion where art is actually more like head trauma than vocation. Personally, I recommend people stay away from the fallout as much as possible. Even so, I've got it bad for writing, so I'm a hopeless case. You may not be.

Anyway, I've proven this before, but like I said, I don't know how to fucking listen. Which is why I'm setting myself up for heartache again. It's how you put yourself out there, you enter contests + hope you come back with the biggest stuffed panda at the state carnival. Eventually someone does, why the fuck shouldn't it be you? Besides, I have to do this: This is how writers do: They put their asses on the line again and again for some whimsical, half-finished idea + you know, it's absolutely fucking worth it too, even with all of the drama, rejection + nausea. It's worth it. We have to write, we can't stop the dream, even when it's turned dark + beastly and demented and sore, it doesn't matter. We have to write + so we do. And when we've got something, eventually we decide it's time to find our audience, which is all publishing really is.

So I sent out some new full + partial manuscripts to a few great, indie presses in the East Coast + entered several contests too. I mean, if we're going to do this, then let's do it all the fucking way, no compromising, nothing half-assed, nothing guaranteed, the opposite of evasion, shyness + silence. Let's do this, the voice inside my head tells me.

Here are some recent book submissions:

1. The Ninjas of My Greater Self (James Jones First Novel Contest) 28 April 2011

A Travel Guide to the Broken World (Coffee House Press) 29 April 2011

A Travel Guide to the Broken World (Flannery O'Connor Award) 23 May 2011

4. BLANK excerpt (Beacon Press) 3 June 2011

A Travel Guide to the Broken World (FSG) 3 June 2011

A Travel Guide to the Broken World (Drue Heinz Literature Prize) 20 June 2011

7. A Travel Guide to the Broken World (Milkweed Editions) 5 July 2011

And of course I'm waiting to hear from Irene Goodman, the literary agent that solicited a whole manuscript of BLANK + the outline of Ninjas, I'm waiting to hear from Electric Literature for almost a year, waiting to hear from McSweeney's for 8 months, waiting to hear from the Paris Review, Black Warrior Review, Fence, waiting to hear from the Chicago Review for 13 months now (including 2 ignored emails I sent them), but I'm still going strong. I have absolutely nothing suggesting I'm going to win shit, nothing suggesting I'm gonna get a new piece published in a new journal anytime soon, but I'm good + I'm strong. Something is gonna work out, something is happening, if nothing else, momentum. If nothing else, some fucking momentum.