“Don’t Make Me Come Down There”

I’m thrilled to announce that my 2,100-word short story “Don’t Make Me Come Down There” is published in Translunar Travelers Lounge! It features the Hindu trinity of deities, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, who (try to) work like an Agile software team to iteratively perfect the universe. But Vishnu keeps going off-process with all his avatar hot-fixes.

Please enjoy “Don’t Make Me Come Down There” in Translunar Travelers Lounge issue 7.


Author’s Notes

I wrote the 750-word seed of this story for the Codex Writers “Weekend Warrior” flash fiction contest. The writing prompt was “What life lesson do you fear you’ll never learn? What mistake do you keep making over and over?” My Hindu-raised, Marvel-fan, software engineer brain went straight to cyclical time, multiverses, and iterative development processes. Which is, frankly, a lot for 750 words.

It’s a lot for the 2,100 words of the published story too. I wanted to avoid over-explaining the premise, because nothing falls harder than an explained joke. Many stories bootstrap on familiarity with Western myths and legends (Greek mythology, Aurthurian stories), and I tried to do the same with my own cultural canon. Maybe do a little Neil Gaiman riff on Hindu mythology. This story relies on familiarity with the Hindu “Trimurti” (Brahma/Vishnu/Shiva as personified aspects of creation/nurturing/destruction) and the 10 Avatars of Vishnu. My potential readers are primarily American, and don’t necessarily have Hindu mythology as a cultural touchstone. But I went for it anyway. Hinduism’s cyclic cosmology, put into terms of iterative software development, and presented as a listicle of Vishnu’s ten incarnations on Earth, is probably a very niche joke, but hey, I’m writing to amuse myself. I’m grateful that Aimee and Bennett from Translunar Travelers Lounge were also amused enough to give this story an outlet.

This was a story where “write what you know” turned out to be a useful maxim. Thanks to my mother, grandmothers, stacks of Amar Chithra Katha comic books, and a couple of college courses, I know Hindu mythology. Thanks to my career, I know about Agile software development processes, and where theory and practice can diverge. Thanks to Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, I think a lot about existence as endless iterations (a notion borrowed from Hinduism and Buddhism). And thanks to my nature, I know how the perfect can become the enemy of the good. Putting that all together into a short, light story was great fun for me.

I loved Ms. Marvel. Now give me The Marvels!

SPOILERS for Season One of Ms. Marvel on Disney+

Ms. Marvel on Disney+ reached its season finale and ended on a high note, both for the characters and the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For me, the main charm of the show was how it felt like Marvel’s answer to Netflix’s Never Have I Ever, another quirky, comedic, coming-of-age show featuring a South Asian-American teen and her family. Iman Vellani perfectly embodied the Kamala Khan of the comic books. Most importantly, she played a kid: uncertain, determined, funny, awkward, vulnerable, and loyal. She is easy to root for, in much the same way as a high school Peter Parker is easy to root for. And her family, friends, and community were similarly charming: likeable, quirky characters who have their own goals and arcs, making Kamala’s world feel alive and fleshed-out. For this Indian-American viewer, it felt beautifully authentic, for the most part.

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“Act One, Scene Five”

I’m thrilled to announce that my 900-word flash fiction “Act One, Scene Five” has been published in Brilliant Flash Fiction WHEREIN the only Korean-American kid in school gets into character to rehearse Romeo’s first kiss with Juliet.

Please enjoy “Act One, Scene Five” in Brilliant Flash Fiction. (It’s a ways down the page of the June 2022 issue, alongside other tiny stories you’ll want to read!)

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“Epilogue”

I’m thrilled to announce that my 4,100-word cozy fantasy story “Epilogue” appears in the inaugural issue of Wyngraf Magazine! It features eldritch wine, delicious leftovers, reminiscence, glimmers of magic, and long-overdue kissing.

Please enjoy “Epilogue” in Wyngraf Magazine Issue 1.


Author’s Notes

Have you ever been so immersed in an epic fantasy world that you never wanted the story to end? Because ending meant a return to the ordinary world, without magic, without purpose written in prophecy, without thrilling possibility? What if the characters in that epic fantasy felt the same way?

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Measure What Matters as a Fiction Writer

In my middle-management day job, “measure what matters” (the title of a book by John Doerr) is an oft-uttered phrase. In business, “what matters” is an articulation of the real goals, the things that, if achieved, will enable the business to succeed, and if not, may cause the business to fail. You can measure a lot of things about your business, some more easily than others. And when you consider yourself to be “metrics driven,” you’d better be sure you’re driving from the right metrics, not just the most accessible ones. Choose the wrong metrics, and you can win battles but lose the war.

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First Principles of Productivity

I’m back from vacation, and ready to be productive. But I’ve forgotten what that means, and I suspect it’s something philosophical. So it’s back to first principles.

Goal: The most basic, unambiguous measure of success. Examples: Delivering a competitive software product that can generate revenue. Writing a story I’d want to read.

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I’m an SWFA Member Now

[EDIT: It should be “I’m a SFWA Member Now”–members pronounce it “sif-wa.” But the URL generated from the title is out in the world now, so there we are.]

I’ve always loved to write, but it was only as an adult that I became serious about it. That word, “serious,” made it weird. “Serious,” to me, meant committing to improving my craft and increasing my output. The latter goal served the former. “Commitment” meant setting up structures of internal and external accountability. I took night school classes. Wanting some tokens of accomplishment, I finished two, 2-year certificates in the Creative Writing of Fiction at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. And finally, in 2012, I submitted my first story for publication. It was rejected, and I didn’t try again until 2016. That was when I got three acceptances–and the validation to keep trying.

What I didn’t realize was that “getting serious” about something, at least in my mind, entailed shaping it into something that looks serious to others. Academic credentials. Product. Revenue. Exclusive community membership. During the dry spells, when those things didn’t come easily or at all, I made a philosophical commitment to stop distracting myself with activities that were adjacent to writing, but not actually writing. That lasted as long as my next set of completed stories, and an ego-driven impulse to see if I could sell them. One sold, and I was back on my bullshit.

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Press Release: Issue #1 Cozy Contents!

I’m excited to have a story in this upcoming magazine. It’s a story dear to my heart, and I’m glad it found a home where its aesthetic and vibe fit right in with the editorial mission.

Wyngraf

Wyngraf Announces Cozy First Issue

Wyngraf, a new magazine of cozy fantasy fiction, has released the story lineup for its inaugural issue.

Cozy fantasy is having a moment. Readers are curling up with tales of community and family, featuring lush settings and low stakes. Into this growing movement comes Wyngraf, a magazine dedicated to cozy fantasy in all its forms. With the carefully curated selection of tales in its first issue, Wyngraf gives cozy fans what they’re looking for, welcomes curious new readers, and helps define the genre itself.

I’m thrilled to showcase the range of cozy fantasy in the first issue of Wyngraf. From old pros to rising stars, our writers are as diverse as their stories—the one thing they have in common is talent!

Nathaniel Webb, Wyngraf Editor-in-Chief

The Wyngraf wordmark

The table of contents for Wyngraf #1 is…

  • “The Perils of Living with Your…

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Poppins and Pennywise

I came across this Facebook post that made a convincing argument that Mary Poppins and Pennywise the Clown (the monster from Stephen King’s It) were members of the same species. In my head, the story immediately started writing itself:

“Spin your little nightmares all you like,” Poppins said. “But I expect my charges back in their beds by 9 o’clock.” She rapped Pennywise on the head with her umbrella. “Intact, mind you.”

“Oooh,” Pennywise said, his eyes widening to the size of saucers. “And what if I took one teensy weensy BITE, Maaary? A spoonful of sugar, and all.”

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