Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dog Whisperer

Having grown up a farm girl and knowing instinctively how to work with animals (domesticated and farm animals), I felt vindicated and happy to see how an older calmer dog keeps a younger more immature dog in line; teaches him to be calm. My older dog was always so patient and sweet and we felt he taught Casey the new puppy how to behave. Now that Roger, the older dog, has passed, Casey seems a little depressed and out of sorts, but I think she is also reacting to my vibe. I'd love to get her a middle aged dog that's good natured and loves cats, too. It seems like a tall order. I know some people don't agree with his methods, but realistically there are some pretty out-of-control animals that need a tighter reign than other animals. I haven't seen anything on the program that I really disagree with--as per his methods, but I've only watched it a couple of times.
What do you think?

Responding to comments

By the way, I really truly appreciate your comments you leave. I haven't yet figured out how to respond via blogging. So I'm just responding with my own comments. Anybody who can tell me what button to hit to respond to someone's individual comments? I'd greatly appreciate it.

New Classes

Starting in January, I'll be teaching a fiction writing class in Berkeley at the Writing Salon located in the Strawberry Business Park. You can find out more on this class and other great classes provided there in the city (SF) by logging onto The classes are reasonably priced and are great for getting the creative ideas brought to the forefront--just in time for the New Year--2008--writing resolutions. We'll be reading a diverse choice of authors and studying their short stories for a focused element of craft and then we'll be sharing our writing, critiquing with a fair and generous attitude, but remembering to look for purpose and intent.

I'll also be teaching a flash fiction writing class in Sebastapol at the art center. They have a really great affordable series where they invite writer/teachers of writing to come and speak about some element of craft they are familiar with. I'm honored and stoked to be asked to come teach something different that is near and dear to my heart. And I can't wait to attend some of the other seminars and learn from other people's creative endeavors.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Upcoming flash fiction publications

So aside from having been nominated for a Pushcart, which is still pretty cool, what's new? I have a short piece coming out in The Writer's Post Journal called "The Ring" and another piece of flash fiction coming out in The Vestal Review in January called "Quitting Smoking." I just read a (an old one, admittedly--2004) scathing article about flash fiction by the editor of Storysouth about how flash fiction is really just drivel being pumped out by mediocre MFA students. I'm thinking of the short story by Hemingway called "A Short Story" or work by Mary Robison. If the short story "Yours" isn't considered to be flash fiction--well. This editor does admit that some stories are gifted and need to be told that way, but I wondered why all the vitriolic attitude. There are mediocre full-length stories and mediocre full-length novels being published, too. It's its own art form. I think some stories just want to be told that way. I did agree with his opinions about Amy Hempl's piece and how it is an easy way to publication.'s not always easy to get flash published either. There are some great flash websites, magazines, and anthologies: Smokelong Quarterly, Quick Fiction, Sudden Fiction. Maybe his opinion has changed since 2004, though. storySouth / MFA disgust, flash fiction, short shorts, and micro fiction

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's Been a While

I heard some exciting news from the editor of Storyglossia--he has nominated my short story "Stories I heard when I went home for my grandmother's funeral" for a Pushcart. What can I say? I'm super-happy and amazed. Just when you think you are dying on the vine. It was nice to hear good news. We had a bad week in the Genna household as our dog Roger, thirteen and a half years old passed away. He had severe arthritis and was in a lot of pain, so we are glad that he is not suffering any more. We are all very sad and there's a big empty space in our hallway, on our porch, in the middle of the dirt-pile on Saturday mornings, and in ours and all our pets' hearts (Casey, Elvis, and Kitty). Del and I have been going over to the YMCA at Hilltop and feeding the stray cats up there. There are two domesticated cats that seem to be brother and sister and they are two of the sweetest cats we've ever met. We are brainstorming a way to find a home for both of them. They seem to be about a year old, maybe a bit more. What can I say, you can take the girl off the farm, but you can't take the farmgirl out of her. We are all dog whisperers and cat whisperers from way back, which reminds me of how Roger always came to the gate and said hello with funky roo. We love you so much and miss you, Roger. Say hello to Taz for us. Wish you could read...messages to the universe

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Coming soon

Forgot to mention where my work will be showing up soon (again).

"Stories I heard when I went home for my grandmother's funeral" (Nov./ Dec.)
"Dry and Yellow" (November) in Iowa Writes (a branch of the University of Iowa's on-line website.
"A Good Swim" (2007 / end of year) in Farallon Review (a new magazine put out by Tim Foley and friends).

Right now, you can read "Ration Coupons" at
or "Dirt to Vine to Grape to Glass" at R.KV.RY Literary Journal (

And recently two new stories accepted:
"Quitting Smoking" Vestal Review (Flash fiction)
"Wood is Wood" in Wheelhouse (late 2008)

Go find them and don't be afraid to tell me what you think.

Interesssting comments about publishing on-line. I think it's an area many writers worry about--to on-line or not to on-line. To publish in newer magazines and have more coverage or wait and submit to longer running presses, but have less chance of publication. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Banner Year for On-line Publishing

So, I've had a few writer friends talk to me about whether on-line publishing is legit. Are those magazines "as good as" print magazines. And my answer is that--yes, most are. I have some of my favorites, of course, because (me, me, me) they've accepted my work, but I've also submitted to places that have really strong writing, strong writers published on them. And then there's publishing on-line for personal reasons. Maybe you have friends in the on-line community who have a website and they want to read your stuff. My advice to you--only send your best. You shouldn't be sending your work out unless it is your best. If there's something in your mind that says, well, this isn't quite that good, so I'll submit it on-line, well then, that piece needs work. But I do have to say I've had more success with short-shorts and flash on-line. I take edgy pieces that I adore and send them to on-line venues. I think that the market might be different on-line. When I'm reading on-line, I have less time so I go for shorter pieces. I have less patience if a story doesn't grab me right away. That's just my own personal attention-deficit disorder. I like interesting titles. Recent website that I visited, read, liked, and submitted to (or I'm intending to submit to) are Vestal Review, Storyglossia, Wheelhouse, Anderbo, The Adirondack Review, and Cutthroat's new on-line magazine. Check them out. There's more, but I'll stop now because I gotta go see a man about a mule.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Thanks to all who came out for the reading. It was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed Steve Almond's sense of humor and his dedication to his ideals. He read about places his semen had been and about some clever responses to hate e-mail he had received when he resigned from the Boston College (Don't exactly know which one, even though I remember reading about it.) because Condalesa (Sp?) Rice was going to speak at the commence ceremony. His sincerity made me think of Emily Dickinson's poem on war which I can't quote exactly: (Well yes, I can)

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory

As he defeated--dying--
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

I'll just leave that hanging there for you to ponder.
Litquake is coming up in SF and I want to go hear the readers but I hate battling the crowds.
Might go see some of the more spacious venues, like at the SF library.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Whoa or Woe

Yes, I know
I meant to do that
A Freudian slip?
You'll never know

Friday, September 14, 2007


Just a quick update--dropped by the USF reading series to hear Nona Caspers read from her short story collection Heavier than Air. Just some perfect lines in her story "Country Girls." The way (some) Midwesterners have cruel practicality around their emotions--it takes me back. Something in the universe is telling me something because I'm just on a country kick via my reading schedule. I don't know what. I'll have to read my Tarot cards. Or else just go back to Iowa to visit. I can't wait to dig into her collection. As for what's on second, any suggestions? As for the last sentence to my short story "Ration Coupons" on VerbSap--I do think there's forgiveness out there and inside, too. Whoa to those who carry vengeance. All right time to go.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Whew, Labor Day Weekend Over

Well, my husband had the flu and so we were sort of housebound. Poor Mikey. Took those kids school shopping, though, and did some writing. Storyglossia picked up my story "Stories I heard when I went home for my grandmother's funeral." It will be out sometime in October. I'm so happy--I love that zine. Finished Rock Springs, which makes me sad. Mike's reading it now and we are talking about Montana, where we both lived our own lives for a long time and then met each other just before I moved to California. I'll make sure I remind everyone of the Sept. 20th reading once or twice before then, don't worry. It's great to see your posts. Keeping it short because although WCCUSD started a week ago, my kids' school starts tomorrow, so I gotta' go beddy early. Yuk--not a morning person. I've tried it, but I think biologically I am programmed to REM sleep around the hours of six to seven-thirty. If I had a nine to five, I'd be okay, but...or even a night job. Wah.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

What's coming up?

So, I have several stories coming down the pipe this fall and wanted to post those again for friends and family to find. Look for my short-short story, "Ration Coupons" on one of my favorite zines,, in Octoberish. It's a story about a divorced couple who go to a funeral of young man together. And also in October, I think, look for my short story "From Dirt to Vine to Grape to Glass" on R.KV.RY: A Literary Journal. You have to type in to get to it. This story is about a woman who ponders giving up five years of sobriety in an instant when someone hands her a glass of wine at a winery. (Probably shouldn't go to those all day events if you're not supposed to be drinking. Then again, October or Novemberish, I have a super-short piece of flash called "Dry and Yellow" coming out on Iowa Writes, a zine published by the University of Iowa. It's so short, I don't want to describe it, but there is a dream-box in it. And finally, some folks from San Francisco started a new magazine called Farallon Review, and my short story "A Good Swim" will be in that, hopefully by the end of 2007. The title of the story speaks for itself. I'm having a great summer/fall for publishing.

What else is new? Looking forward to my reading on September 20th. School's back in session and I'm loving my new group of students. They're smart and full of energy and it should be a great year. What I'm reading right now? Still on that book by Richard Ford, Rock Springs--still in love with it. In fact, I put it down during the last story because I couldn't bear for it to be over. I'll have to read his novel Independence Day. I know some of you old-schoolers are saying, yeah, yeah, yeah. Like I've often said, I've had gaps in my education. Also reading the textbook Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway.

As far as writing is concerned--just tweaking and revising. Finished a weird story called "Rat Stories." September is a slow month for me because of back to school, so I take it in stride.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Prairie Girl

So, a student gave me a copy of Richard Ford's Rock Springs and I'm in love. Love all the references to Montana, where I lived for several years. But mostly, love his prose--what's going on in the stories and how he ends them--with some philosophical passage that hits the mark. Someone asked me the other day if I had read any great poetry books lately and I said, well, I've been reading short story collections all summer. Then I went home and looked at my book shelf. The Read 180 collection, edited by Billy Collins is great. Sun Under Wood by Robert Hass and All of Us: The Collected Poems by Raymond Carver would be my recommendations. I actually get my poetry in small doses through lit mags and the Pushcart Prize Anthologies. Then I go to poetry readings in the community and pick up chapbooks from authors from time to time. I started back to school this week--been rereading My Antonia and in love with the prose and the sweetness of the story. I've been reading the Little House books to my eight year old and so pairing these two prairie girl stories in my mind has made me meditate on a harder time and a simpler time. I'm a Prairie Girl. Sounds like the next book title.

Friday, August 17, 2007


The thing about blogging is what I think most of you have already figured out--it's like journaling on-line and people can comment on your thoughts. So now, I'm figuring out, hey, maybe you should be careful about what you say. Plus, I want to write back to people who comment, but didn't know that wasn't an option except via e-mail, so yeah. What's going on today--gotta do some editing for a friend and buy some ink for my printer to print out my manuscript and send out. I'm interested in hearing from people on their process for deciding what goes into a short story collection and how they organize it. I was thinking yesterday that a short story is much like the format of an aerobics class. Start off with an introduction that's easy, relaxing, warm up, get harder and more complicated, build, but don't stay at the hard peak for too long, get up to it, then back off, then move forward, have one super hard song, and then cooldown with some nice relaxing stretching. Oh wait, no, that was an orgasm is much like an aerobics class. Or maybe that was a short story collection is much like an orgasm. I don't know. What was that about being careful about what you say?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday's my hump day

It's Thursday and I always think of it as the low-energy day. I don't know why. I think it has something to do with being a former aerobics instructor. By the time Thursday rolled around, I'd be pretty beat up. So now, I take it easy on Thursdays. Okay, I've decided I will try to be more grammatically correct but can't promise to clean up all dangling participles. I like things that dangle. I also like it when someone accidentally says something that is funny on two different levels. For example, when I said to my class, "If you're not going to watch tv, then we're not going to watch tv." I'm working on a comic book (very bad drawings) called Ms. Johnson Tries to Get Herself Fired. If you know me, you know that. I've been trying to write a story about winning the northwest aerobics championship and going to L.A. and being on national tv, but there you have it--that's the story. Keep getting stuck on the seamier underside and making a funny story into a sad story. Does that ever happen to you? You want to write something hilarious and it turns dark on your ass. It's no Alice Munro story, which makes me wonder if Alice Munro takes aerobics classes, you know, Pilates, or Yoga or something. (Sorry, my brain does that.) It'd be funny to have her in class in front of you and doing the pendulum. That's how I broke my foot in two places--doing the pendulum, remember that aerobics dance move? I'm reading this Writer's Chronicle article about Alice (Go Ask Alice) and it's talking about rhyming action in her work, and I'm thinking--motif, where's the word motif? There's some good stuff in there, though, about introducing some image and repeating it later, but waiting just long enough so that the reader doesn't remember the image, so that it gets imbedded in your unconscious, and then repeating the image where it's not so obvious. This idea is actually from Charles Baxter's book Burning Down the House, a collection of essays about writing that's just a really great book. I saw him read in SF and talked to him for a while after, a great guy--love the meticulous detail in his short stories.

Guess I should go buy some ink for my printer and print out that manuscript and mail it off to some contests before school starts. Come see me read on the 20th because it's all about me. Both my daughters have that printed on a t-shirt. Just kidding. I am going to get a t-shirt that says, "I Don't Give Directions!" for when I'm out walking. More on the streets of Rodeo later.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I'm So Excited and I Just Can't Hide It

After chatting about Steve Almond's collection of fiction, I cosmically received a notice from my writer's collective asking if anyone would like to read with him, so I shot my hand into the air and whatya' know, I get to read with Steve, the man with the great last name, on September 20th at Modern Times Bookstore on Valencia in San Francisco at 7:00 PM. Super-de-duper. I'm going to read something very funky and fun, but don't know what yet. His new book is a collection of essays titled Not That You Asked.

Even better news is that my collection of short-short stories (under 2000 words) was a finalist for the Elixir Press Chapbook Awards. Got a great rejection letter with cool typos and the ink running out on their printer--i love stuff like that. The collection was called I'll Tell You That Story in a Minute. This is a line from one of the stories--called "Manx," a line I refuse to take out of the story, despite my writing group's advice. I think it's the best line in the story.

My teenager delaney took some great pics of me, so I'm going to post one or two.

What are you reading? I'm reading a collection of Richard Yates stories. If you're a writer, you have to read "The Builders" a story about being a writer. I read about him in the Writer's Chronicle and so I picked up his collected works. What I like about him is that he said that his work was autobiographical in nature, but not autobiography. That's a great way to answer the question, "Is this about you?"

I'm also reading How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously. We're not in debt, according to the book, but I could use some lessons in living prosperously.

Just finished Andre Dubus In the Bedroom. Absolutely cried reading almost every story. What a great storyteller. Two of his short stories have been made into independent films. "Killings" was made into the film "In the Bedroom." (Look let's just get it straight right now. I know how to edit this page, I just don't feel like it. I know titles of movies are italicized, but I hate searching out the button before and after. I'd rather type three sentences.) His longer work called We Don't Live Here Anymore was made into a great film with Mark Ruffalo (number one hottie). Rent them both, you won't be disappointed. Then read them or vice versa. These are stories that seem to go well both ways.

Peace Out

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Favoiite On-line lit mags

Instead of reading the latest news over and over or watching the new Paula Abduhl reality show, try out some on-line lit mags and see what stories are entertaining and interesting. Try Verbsap, Storyglossia, Monkey Bicycle, Smokelong Quarterly.

Today is a babysitting day-watching the neighbor kid, but I'm squeezing in that writing time. How about you?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

What books have you read lately?

Well, it's the Fourth of July and I just finished reading several short story collections.
1.) The Evil B.B. Chow by Steve Almond--I kept seeing his name everywhere, small lit mags, large lit mags, and read several stories on-line, so I decided it was time to check out a larger body of his work. I enjoyed this collection. Almond fuses pop culture references with story line.
2.) Picked up A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both by Ben Greenman and I liked this one, too. Favorite story: "Clutching and Glancing." Lots of clever play with words and the way the stories are lined up is a nice metaphor. Love as Art, Love as Music, Love as Place, etcetera.
3.) Finally finished The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer. It was okay. I thought it went on a bit too long on the love these guys, this place, and a little short on the redemptive phase. It was a little rambly, too, for my taste. I wouldn't not recommend it, though. Best-seller, though? Love that title. I better be careful on my karma quotient, hey?

So today is fireworks, barbecue, and tennis, swimming with the kids. Don't really care for holidays that fall in the middle of the work week. The day gets imbued with too much importance. Delaney is making parfait's with blueberries, rasberries, granola, and yogurt. Red, white, and blue. Jackey doesn't like blueberries or granola. So Del is eating her bb and granola.

Finishing up reading the latest lit mag Opium: Live Well Now. I'm enjoying it. Good humor. Strange, quirky stories, nice graphics (except where they interfere with readability of the story). Nice to get away from the stuffy, we are so important lit mags that I can never seem to get published in. Won't name any names. (That karma thing again).

Time to do a little writing and exercising. Have you done yours for today of either/or?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

May 10th Reading

My reading is on May 10th, & at 7:30 at Modern Times Bookstore on Valencia. That's a go. I'll be reading with Dustin Heron who has a new book being released by Small Desk Press called Paradise Stories. This reading is hosted by Ecstatic Monkey, a writer's collective that hosts readings and provides information to writers about publishing opportunities. To find out more about the collective log onto To read more about Dustin Heron's new book log onto More on this later.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I'll be reading at Modern Times Bookstore on May 10th, 2007. That's in San Francisco on Valencia. Mapquest it. I'm terrible at remembering addresses. I'll post the press release when it comes out. It's a reading sponsored by Ecstatic Monkey, which is a San Francisco based writers' collective. I'm not sure what I'll be reading--either "Itinerary for the Tourist" or "Turtles Don't Have Hair." The reading starts at 7:30, sharp, for those friends who always come late. I'll be reading first--I'm like the warm-up band to the major act. More on this later.

Saturday Morning Writing Postponemen

Here I am trying to create a blogsite when I am supposed to be doing the following:
a) Buying groceries
b) Taking Jackey to get a gift for a birthday party
c) Writing a story
d) Getting dressed
e) Reading my students' work

Not necessarily in that order.
Is this how this day is going to go?