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Millie Ho

“The Designs of Designer Baby” Published in Uncanny Magazine

Uncanny Magazine (Issue Nineteen)

My poem “The Designs of Designer Baby” is available to read in Uncanny Magazine! The poem is about reclaiming your identity after living for other people all your (very, very long) life.

I got the idea for it after I read a news story about scientists editing the genomes of human embryos to make them perfect. Why did this hit me so hard? I didn’t know, but the idea burrowed into my mind and refused to leave. It was only after I started travelling around Asia that I realized what I wanted to say. In Ho Chi Minh City, I visited the War Remnants Museum. It was a deeply emotional experience, and I’m still processing what I saw. That experience, among other ones—like going to China and seeing, with my now-adult eyes, how certain family dynamics get passed down from generation to generation—shaped the poem into what it became.

Here are some of my favourite pieces from this issue:

Happy reading!

“The Patrol” Published in LampLight Magazine

"The Patrol" by Millie Ho, in LampLight Magazine

My horror story “The Patrol” is now available to read in LampLight Magazine! I’m excited to be included in LampLight, which has published some of my favourite SF/F and horror writers like Kristi DeMeester and Rahul Kanakia.

I wrote “The Patrol” last November, right before I started travelling through Asia. The theme of the story, which is about family secrets and small town horror, was inspired by my own feelings about leaving Toronto and plunging into the unknown. I poured my fears into the story, and am proud of how it turned out—and so honoured that LampLight liked it, too.

If you enjoy dark fiction, please consider supporting LampLight by buying a copy below:

Enjoy!

“Dangers of Memory” Speed Drawing Process

Aw ye, another drawing process video. This illustration is called “Dangers of Memory”, and features a sad kid, lush vegetation, and a looming threat in the distance. I drew this mainly to practice drawing grass and shadowing faces, but I soon got hypnotized with the monster in the back, hehe.

Tools used:

  1. Copic markers.
  2. Faber-Castell black pens (must restock!).
  3. Trusty sketchbook.

The total drawing time was an hour and forty minutes.

"Dangers of Memory" Horror Art by Millie Ho

“Dangers of Memory”, pen on paper.

I’m headed to China for Chinese New Year, which would be a first for me. The last time coincided with a funeral, so there wasn’t much celebrating (though loads of dumplings were consumed). I’m looking forward to it this time around.

Have a good week!

“Shrinkage” Published in Joyland Magazine

"Shrinkage" by Millie Ho in Joyland Magazine

Super thrilled and honoured that my short story “Shrinkage” is now published in Joyland Magazine! This story was inspired by my summers working in retail, and is about secrets between friends and how silence leads to shame (and vice versa). Edited by the fabulous Kathryn Mockler.

Some of my favourites from Joyland include:

Please check them out, and happy reading!

Writing More Meaningful Symbolism

Netflix’s Luke Cage was an entertaining series, and it also helped me understand how to write better symbolism.

Here’s a summary of my talking points.

Avoid Using Superficial Symbolism  

In school, I was taught to reference existing works or mythologies if I was writing symbolism. For example, a guy who was strong would be given the name Hercule. Or I would use colours to represent different character attributes. Green was the colour of greed, so a character who was greedy would carry a green purse, which became a symbol.

These techniques made sense from a literary analysis standpoint, but they failed to enhance the reader’s connection to the characters, plot, or setting. These symbols also missed out on opportunities to accomplish more than one goal and were therefore one-dimensional.

After watching Luke Cage, I realized that I needed to use less superficial symbols that could be replicated for any story, and instead write more meaningful symbols.

3 Qualities of Meaningful Symbolism

In Luke Cage, the ring that Luke was tasked to find took on a deeper meaning as Episode 5 progressed:

  • The ring became a symbol for Harlem (its past, present, and future).
  • The ring represented different qualities of the characters.
  • The ring drove Episode 5’s plot.

I concluded that meaningful symbolism should consist of three main qualities:

1. The symbol must be significant to the characters. 

It doesn’t matter if critics or readers can dissect a symbol for hours on end. If the symbol is not significant to the characters and their lives, it will lack emotional and contextual depth.

2. The symbol should be unique to the story.

Blood is not a unique symbol. It can be used to represent guilt, life, and so forth, but to characters across different stories, it’s still just blood. But if the symbol is original to your story and can’t be replicated elsewhere, it will be more memorable and create more opportunities to take your story to new heights.

Examples: the Elder Wand in Harry Potter, the Death Star in Star Wars, and the One Ring in LOTR.

3. Symbolism should accomplish more than one thing.

You can use symbols to communicate character traits, drive the plot, or reveal the history of your setting. Symbolism can reveal how characters think and feel or were transformed.

Instead of creating different symbols and using them to fulfill a multitude of purposes, one multi-purpose symbol tightens up the narrative and creates a more concentrated impact.

In Conclusion

Symbolism should enhance the characters, plot, and essence of your story first.

Everything else is secondary.

What are your thoughts about writing symbolism?

The Particulars

Millie Ho Poetry The Particulars

I gnaw through blue fingers
raised in a half salute.

Let’s dissect the particulars.

The thread is loose
so
I
pull it out.

Crash and sail,
crash and sail.

It’s the fall now
so you’re out.

It’s easy to slip,
slip and slide,
cut and glide.

It’s the fall now
and I’m out.

Switch the order,
kneel and
bow.

Strike On

Millie Ho Writing Writer Poems

Strike on,
wilderness.

Strike on,
lost ground.

Blood rocks can be
stepping stones.

Violet leaves,
our ceiling.

Let’s roll up them sleeves,
and find that single
shard.

We could leave today,
really.

Draw the blade
beneath the clavicle
a second longer.

Carve the wisdom from
that meat hanger
and call it a
day.

—––

Millie’s Note: I went out last night, and as I walked around downtown Toronto, I thought about how a city at night could look like the wilderness. There was also this feeling of dark detachment and casual hedonism. I wrote this poem when I got home.

“Heavy Moons” Published in Gone Lawn (Issue 22)

Gone Lawn Issue 22 Cover

Gone Lawn 22 cover, Alternate Flux by Kelley Stephens.

My story “Heavy Moons”, which is about lovers, a crime, and alternate realities, is published in Gone Lawn, one of my favourite online literary journals. This story was inspired by my suburban upbringing and Thin Lizzy’s Dancing In The Moonlight, a good song for nighttime strolls.

You can read “Heavy Moons” here: http://journal.gonelawn.net/issue22/Ho.php

Please check out the other writers as well. Enjoy!

FOGBANK

William Klein New York 67th Street

Temper black and radiant,
She leaves me voicemail messages on
her birthday.

Draw me things! Give me things!
You owe me things!

I awoke realizing I was a thing,
have been walking through fog bank
for some time now.

Here is a wire, child.

Play with it until you can see
a way out.

—–

Millie’s Note: Photo by William Klein.

How A Bridge Collapses

A bridge collapses in plain view while
the children are hunted down.

Red arrows put collars onto backdoors
and push palms through cracks.

When small mouths gasp
bitter water seeps in.

The vines grow tall here and
the walls don’t have ears.

Meanwhile the parents claim this never
happened.

“Get your facts straight, sweetie,” they say,
palms up, legs outstretched, forming the
perfect triangle again.

Thin fingers re-work the memories
into something more manageable.

When small mouths grow big
the eyes stay small,
seeing the parents as long shadows,
themselves as pillars of salt.

When did the bridge collapse?

And why?

You must remember that a bridge
did not exist.

Things that did not exist cannot
collapse.