Monday, June 30, 2008

Flash Fiction

I forgot to mention in an earlier post that I will also be teaching a flash fiction class at the Writing Salon. In this class, we'll be studying some classic short-shorts by Hemingway, Carver, Kate Chopin, among others. These will fall under the heading of sudden fiction because they're longer than what some think of as pure flash. Then we'll be studying some current flash fiction from various places I've been reading. At the same time, we'll try timed writing exercises and creative ways to write flash. This class is all day on a Saturday at the Berkeley salon (Strawberry Creek business park). I believe it's on July 23rd, but check the website: Or call Jane, the owner/manager with questions. We'll try writing short stories that are 1,000 words, 750 words, 500 words, and possibly even shorter. But we won't sacrifice story for length. Check it out.

Quick Reads Worth Looking For

Read Laurie Seidler's short story "Falling" in Small Spiral Notebook. It deserves more than one read-through. I was reading VerbSap's summer issue and saw her link to the story and I agreed with another editor. It's the kind of story that makes you pause. Very skillful blending of imagery: the moon, the surf, the narrator's situation. Poetic.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fiction Class at the Writing Salon

I'll be teaching a fiction class at the Writing Salon again this summer. It starts on July 23rd and runs for nine weeks. That's on Wednesday nights from 7-9:30. If you haven't taken a class at the salon before, it's got a great atmosphere for writing. It's in the Strawberry Creek business park; there's a little grass park right there and you can hear the creek bubbling by. Jane has a wonderful studio for writers there that is quite conducive to inspiring people to write. If you've taken the class before, but wish you could take it again, don't hesitate. I think you'll learn something new. I like to use different readings to study, but the craft issues are always important to look at. I'm also into using new writing exercises and new essays by people who really know what they're doing. We look at the arc of story, plot, character, what the character wants and desires, setting and how it affects story, point of view and voice, theme, metaphor in story, and much more. You'll get a chance to write and workshop at least two full-length stories for class. When I graduated from the masters program at USF, I continued to take classes through the Writing Salon so I could stay inspired and continue to grow as a writer, and I was never disappointed. So I think my class is beneficial to both new and experienced writers. A rough draft is always a rough draft, so don't feel intimidated--just write.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Watchword Press's shindig

Wow, the art at Watchword Press's thing last night was pretty amazing. And the performance pieces were really quite moving: some funny, some disturbing in a good way (whatever that means). I had a chance to chat with the author whose work the installations and dramatics were based upon--Britta J. Astin. Each day for a year she typed little "stories" or as she said, not wanting to call them anything, on little notecards with an old-style typewriter. One act interpreting her work used typewriters as a main prop and when they brought out the tan suitcases it brought back fond memories for me of my parents' old typewriter I used to play with growing up. I am old enough to have had to learn how to type on a typewriter, how to erase with a whiteout reel or tape, and how to retype a whole page when you really screw up. I was the second fastest typer in my high school...Laurie Schlueter being the fastest. She was an adopted Asian girl, the only Asian girl in our all-white high school back in Iowa. You see the floodgates that typewriter image opened up for me. Speaking of floods--my parents farm is not underwater, it's on the other side of the state, but their bottom is, as always, flooded. I don't feel so bad about it--dad sold the bottom and kept the fishing rights to the river, which just means that, for now, they can't go fishing. And no, they can't just fish in the field.

Watchword's exhibition is still going on at Intersection for the Arts at 426 Valencia and the work is really worth seeing. They're having an encore presentation of the performances on the 26th of June, I believe. Susanne Dyckman's poems on iconic religious cards are worth reading, looking at. Love the holiness of putting poems on the back of what was a staple in my grandmother's household growing up. Pictures of Jesus and the lamb. Mary, Joseph, and the baby--all with halos around their heads. There is one particular picture of the baby Jesus that looks just like my youngest sister when she was a baby--pure white skin, rosy cheeks, rosebud lips. Hilarious and yet so sweet. See how we get our religions.

Picked up the new Watchword X and have only had time to thumb through it, so stay tuned on that lit mag. I'm also reading Lydia Davis's book Variety of Disturbance Stories. It caught my eye because of a story called "The Fellowship," which is hilarious. It's about how when you apply for a fellowship your work isn't good enough or that you have to forget about applying for the fellowship or else you won't win. This cracks me up. I was reading the Tao of something in my sister's bathroom in Malibu and it was suggesting the same thing--that if you want something too badly, you won't get it. That you have to send it out to the universe and forget it about it and the you will be rewarded. What a nut-job way of thinking of god, that if you pray for something, but pretend you don't want it, god will suddenly reward you with it. Yeah, that's why I send my work out everywhere, all the time, so that I can pretend that I don't really want to be published.

I'll be attending FC2's summer writing conference called the Writer's Edge, in late July, so I guess in preparation, I'll be reading a lot of out-there kind of stuff. Hoping it gets my creative bug juices flowing. I also picked up a copy of Miranda July's book that's out in paperback, No One Belongs Here More Than You, which I know I've already read a couple of stories from. I heard her read last year at Modern Times Bookstore in San Francisco and she was great, very charming and quirky, just like her movie and her writing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer's Here!

Yeah, the time has arrived to finally get some more exercise, eat right, read books, and write. This is a not-necessarily-in-that-order list. One summer must-read is--The Elements of Style. I've read it before, but oh-so-long-ago. (This is a hyphenated summer blog.) I was determined to go to sleep and get up early and start with gardening and laundry in the morning; then writing in the afternoon and what-do-you-know, my back was killing me last night, so I had a rough night and had to sleep late. Tennis is not good for a bad back, I guess. I was thinking it'd be useful to post some of my favorite websites for writers on this blog so here goes: are both great resources for writers to find places to publish
Go to emerging writers website--it's a blog under, but I'm sure if you google in Emerging Writers you'll find it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Summer Reads

What are you planning to read this summer? On deck: The Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, Oh Pioneers! by Willa Cather. I have to finish reading the set of the Little House books to Jackey. Still have The Longest Winter and These Happy Golden Years to do. I also never read The Little House in the Big Woods to her, but I think by the time I get to that, she'll want to read it herself. Lately, she's been reading the Junie B. Moon series. As for myself, I plan to pick up several short story collections. I keep seeing Pete Orner's name around and want to see what his works like. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


VerbSap's Summer edition, 2008, is now up and a short story of mine called "Reruns" is on there. It's a crazy womaen story--go to My high school creative writing class finished their lit mag--The Dynamite Factory and it's beautiful. We did, however, have a student who submitted two plagiarized poems. Sad. Other students recognized the poems--They were the kind of poems kids read on myspace and other e-mail it forward type of poems. I don't know why the student thought this was okay to do, but I think it was probably just a naive mistake. Like, Oh, I really like these poems, can I submit them? Not realizing they had to be their own original work. Odd that someone who loves poetry so much would not try to write their own, though. Overall, though the kids did a great job. Now it's time to start reading my summer backlog of stuff I want to read--all the new stuff that is out in paperback. Go to some readings in SF--I see Aaron Shurin, the director of USF's writing program (along with others), has some readings coming up for his new collection of essays. I'm hoping to go to the one in the east bay.