May 2020: the month of unexpected online SFF writing conventions

On May 16-17, there will be an online SFF writing con called Dreams of Foundry, free for all attendees. Two of my former classmates, Elsa Sjunneson and Suzanne Walker, will be on several panels. I signed up for as many panels as possible. I’ll be like a kid at a candy store. There’s even a session, Menagerie, that lets us show off our furry friends.

On May 28-30, I wound up with a full scholarship to attend this year’s Nebula conference. Normally it’s in Los Angeles, and having only been to my local writing con (Writefest), I’ve never attended a con exclusively for SFF writing, and at the scale of the Nebulas. Lacking time and money makes pretty much any con not in my area out of my reach, so the Nebulas were never in the cards for me ever since I first heard of them. But by an unexpected, though much appreciated gesture of generosity from Mary Robinette Kowal, on behalf of SFWA, my Clarion 2020-2021 cohort is able to attend the Nebulas on a full scholarship.

I look forward to seeing all my writing friends and acquaintances, and making many more!

Clarion West 2020 postponed to 2021


A good call, given current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, and not unexpected, since Clarion UCSD had earlier called off their workshop. Still, as part of this year’s class, I wanted to share my mixed feelings about this announcement.

Of course, part of me is disappointed that the experience every prior class has had for the past 50 years won’t be mine this year. With 6 weeks at Seattle off the table this summer, I will have to find other ways to spend it.

On the plus side, I have a whole year to get better acquainted with my classmates, and a whole year to build up hype and excitement for the workshop in 2021. My class keeps in touch through Slack, and already we’re bonding over this unique experience we’re sharing together. Prior to this announcement, we convened in a meeting with administration to discuss contingency plans. While we didn’t have to decide right then and there, many of us implied that we preferred the in-person experience over online, even if we had to defer to next year. I’m thrilled that all of this year’s instructors have said that they would be able to make the workshop in 2021. I’m not so sure if everyone in my class would be able to do the same, but I’m certainly hoping.

“Caring For Dragons and Growing a Flower” now available to read at Podcastle


Click here to read.

Once again, the timing of Podcastle is incredibly impeccable. This very personal story was accepted on the day my dad passed away (January 13th), and today, 100 days after his passing (a special day in Vietnamese tradition), the story goes live.

This is also one of the stories that got me into Clarion West and UCSD this year.

I felt like carving out a piece of my heart, and of my parents’ experiences as Vietnam War refugees, while writing this story. I hope you like it.

My Goals For Clarion West

This is part of my preparation for those intense 6 weeks of workshopping, besides throwing stuff into my suitcase. I thought it would be a good idea to assess what I want to get out of the workshop before I go, so I can track my progress and look back to see if I had accomplished what I set out to do. I heard that Clarion is a great place to experiment and try new things, so I definitely kept that in mind while coming up with goals to achieve.

Read more

Clarion West Class of 2020!


The secret is finally out. I got into Clarion West! I’m more than over the moon. I’m so far out that I can see the Milky Way. The announcement is here.

I’m not sure how I feel about getting in during the year of the coronapocalypse, though.

More details about my application cycle to come in a later post titled “Getting Into Both Clarions: The Deets.” (Yes, you read right. I got into UCSD, too, somehow. But like I said, more to come in a separate post.)

No-Go On Clarion This Year

March 14: Rejection from Clarion UCSD
March 20: Rejection from Clarion West

Oh well, there goes my first time applying. I’m glad I went to Writefest last week and found the community of writers I’d been looking for, otherwise I’d feel a lot more dejected and alone with this news. I won’t deny that I’m disappointed, because I felt like I put out my best work to date and opened up my heart onto the personal statements, which took a great deal of courage and effort, but it’ll be ok.

I’ve found that it’s actually very common for people to apply many times before getting in. Two or three times is the usual. I believe someone got in after SIX times? So I try to look at this as one step closer to acceptance. I’ve got 2 more free summers, so 2 more chances, and even if I have to call it quits after trying, Clarion is by no means the only way to be a great writer. There are plenty of people who go on to success and established a network without Clarion, MFAs, other workshops, etc. What matters is the words you’re writing and putting out, the kind of work you want to share, not necessarily your credentials.

Maybe this year isn’t my year. To be honest I’m kind of relieved I didn’t get in, otherwise I’d have to come up with all the money and quit my temporary job, which will really help me for medical school. So it looks my summer will be work and more writing. I’ll fire shots at Clarion for 2 more summers and see what happens.

Putting out the message in a bottle

Completed and sent out applications to Clarion UCSD and Viable Paradise! I ended up sending 2 sci-fi short stories for Clarion, because I had neither the time nor motivation to finish the fantasy WIP. Still, I’m proud of the work I sent, and felt they show my current writing ability and range of interests and styles. Because I’m a LGBTQIA woman POC applicant, I was eligible for the Clarion application fee waiver. I really appreciate how the SFF community tries to be supportive and inclusive.

I’m debating whether to apply for Odyssey or not, mostly because I currently do not have a story under their 4000 word limit and am not sure if I can come up with one.

Now, for the next month or so, I must busy myself with other things to avoid twiddling my thumbs over the wait.

Not quite going as planned

I’ve been held up by a lot of things, school and writer’s block being my chief reasons. Looks like I’m not going to get my stories done and submitted in time for Clarion UCSD’s fee discount, which ends on February 15. Oh well, it’s only a $15 increase from then till closing applications on March 1, so I’m going to take my time. I’ve learned the hard way from previous submissions to never be pressured by a deadline and rush a work into completion (or what I think is completion, when in fact it could do much better with patient, thoughtful revision).

Checking-story-after-submission Woes

I took a look at the story I sent to Clarion West, and I kind of wish I didn’t. One of my beta readers got back to me late, and through him I realized I had a spelling mistake (wrote “ascent” when I meant “assent”) and an apostrophe omission despite double-checking for typos. While I heard that a slip-up or two won’t break the deal, I still facepalmed at my carelessness. There’s nothing I can do about it, because changes aren’t allowed once submissions are sent. Uuuugh.

Seems that double-checking isn’t good enough. At least this teaches me to triple-check for my Clarion UCSD submissions, and submissions in general. Doesn’t hurt to be too careful.