My life in writing is both long and eclectic. Here is a bird’s eye view of my published works by genre.
Fiction is my main act. I write short form (flash and traditional short formats). It’s slightly easier to get published than, say, a novel.
The novel, however, is the form that I love. It’s big and messy. A novel can take a while to get started or jump you straight into the action like a James Bond movie. Novels can hide a multitude of sins.
My debut novel is The Dancing Girl and the Turtle. It’s set in the time and place where my father grew up. His stories of 1930s Shanghai were the seed that grew into this novel though its darkness is all my own.
My aim is to combine The Dancing Girl and the Turtle into a set of four interlocking novels. I call it The Shanghai Quartet. Spanning two wars and a revolution, The Shanghai Quartet chronicles the fate of Anyi, the dancing girl, her brother Kang, his friend Max the American and Jin the cook.
Unlike novels in quartets or otherwise, short form fiction requires muscular writing and brilliant flashes of action. I like to compare short fiction to the pictograms from which written Chinese evolved: a whole story inside a single character. Here’s my short fiction published so far.
Mrs. Yip began life as a character in my second novel. I love her salty sense of humor and her general crankiness. She deserves a story all her own.
Australian powerhouse publisher Marshall Cavendish agrees. “Mrs. Yip” is part of the anthology A Tapestry of Colours: Stories from Asia. You can preorder your copy here. Publication date: 15 June 2021
Canadian flash fiction journal NUNUM published Frogs, a story to two brothers long estranged. My words were combined with Binary 10, artwork produced by Catherine Skinner because NUNUM is a Canadian website in love with flash fiction and art
blending them together until one can’t be swallowed without the other.NUNUM Manifesto
NEWS FLASH: Nunum nominates Frogs for 2019 Pushcart Prize! Read more here.
ANOTHER NEWS FLASH: Nunum selects Frogs for Anthology 1. Buy your copy here.
NEWS FLASH #3: NUNUM nominates Frogs for the VERA.
Moon Cakes was published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. It started as a character study for Wong Jin. She appears in The Dancing Girl and the Turtle and will soon take center stage in the second volume of my Shanghai Quartet, Peace Court.
Sometimes a character study has legs. It can get up and walk around the room. It can demand to become a story. In “Moon Cakes”, we learn how Jin became a cook.
Words Fly By
Words Fly By was my first short story ever published.
It appeared in Jabberwock Review (Winter 2015). This story, too, has its roots in China though drawn from contemporary life. It’s the story of about losing the power of speech.
See also the lovely review of this short story published in NewPages.com (July 2015).
The circus tent of nonfiction houses many creatures, wild and wonderful. A webpage like this is one example. You’ve probably stumbled on this page by way of my blog or perhaps my newsletter. You might have seen a book review.
Creative nonfiction is a no man’s land to which I find myself increasingly drawn. True stories, well told. The application of a narrative voice, grounding details and poetic devices to fact-driven analyses. It seems to work for me because I’ve had so many essays published I’ve had to group them on their own page, which you can find here.
By all rights, I shouldn’t include the genre. It’s been a long time. In college and through law school, I wrote poetry. Some of it got published.
“At the Convent“, new University (Fall 1980?)
“The Girl with the Patch” and “Grandmother,” a chapbook (1980?)
I wish I could show you my edition of Gumbo because Yusef Komunyaaka edited it. But I lost a box of beloved books during a move from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. So the image you see here is of the inaugural Gumbo issue. Here’s a draft of The Girl with the Patch.
The future of publishing
What’s next? Your guess is as good as mine. Right now, four different journals have accepted my work. Those pieces now move through the editing pipeline. They may or may not be published. One of these journals paid me last year and the piece still hasn’t appeared. I live in hope.
Last updated 07.06.2021