Sunday, November 29, 2009

Need to be tech savvy

Dear non-followers,
Well, I'm trying to learn, but it aint easy. I'm slow on getting out a blogpost, mostly because I've been busy in the world of facebook and submitting work, and occasionally trying to do some writing. Reading work from the fiction classes I teach at the Writing Salon and now, it's that time of year. I get to read the short stories from my creative writing class at Hercules High School. They have that new kind of creativity. The kind you had when you were a kid. The best kind. Where everything is new. No blocks of any kind. The kind where you weren't afraid to imitate someone's style because you didn't always know that's what you were doing. I did that and still I loved writing. My brother stole my stories from the teacher's desk drawer ten years after I graduated. Wow, a blast from the past. "Today, It Will Happen" and now I see that line in a story and I crack up. Avoid that line if you can. Looking forward to X-mas mostly for the two weeks off afterward. Go see the movieThe Fantastic Mr. Fox.. It's great.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Upcoming Classes

I am looking forward to teaching a new group of people in my Fiction class on Thursday night. And so looking forward to having a new class--Fiction Continuation, where people want to focus mainly on workshop and revision. Both classes start this week, and then Saturday night is Litcrawl. Hope everyone has picked out one or two events to go--I'm so glad to be reading for Instant City. This magazine is one that focuses on San Francisco stories. I love it because it catches that side of me that longs to live in the city, be a metropolitan babe. I encourage everyone to pick a couple of the readings on Saturday night and just tour around the Mission. My reading is at 6:00 at Dalva's --oopsy, forgot the name of the bar again. I'll look it up and get back to you via e-mail.

I went to two readings this weekend--one featured people who've been published in Pedestal Magazine and the other is what I consider to be my local hot spot--the Valona Poetry reading series. The editor from Pedestal--John Amen--read at both readings. Meg Pokrass had stories that were on fire. I needed some relief from all the serious, headiness that comes with poetry at these things, but I have to say, I was impressed by the caliber of the readers. I picked up a couple of Amen's books and plan to use one or two of them as examples of strong imagery and language.

My advice to you for this week if you're a writer, though, is to remember why you do it. I'm reminding myself right now. Cut back on the blogospheres, the facebook frenzy, the duotrope search engine, and just write. CULATER

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Did I get your name right?

My latest story on-line is called "Yeah, But Nobody Hates Their Dad." It's up on You Must Be This Tall To Ride, which is a coming of age stories website. Interesting concept. When I saw their site, I thought, Oh, I have just the story. And I'm glad they thought so, too. If you read it, let me know what you think.

Hey, Kerry. Is that your last name? I forget. Because I used to date a guy named Kerry and I've mixed his last name up with yours. The stuff that gets stuck to your brain flaps.

Coming up, my fiction writing class at the Writing Salon in Berkeley. It's Thursday nights from 7:00 to 9:30 for nine weeks. It's what fiction classes are like, but I like to mix it up a bit with new stories each time. I'm looking around for a new story to use besides "Hills Like White Elephants" to teach dialogue. We've seen this. We know it's great, but please. HOWEVER, if you haven't read it, it's a must-read! I also have a flash fiction class on October 10th for a couple of hours. One more listed is the Fiction Continuation class once a month for six months. Whew!
Check out

Litquake is coming to town and we're all excited. Look it up and see all the scheduled readings. I'll be reading on October 17th at 6:00 for Instant City. Oops, forgot the name of that bar. Hold on for that info. I'll be posting on Facebook. There will also be lots of educational sessions. Just look and see what your preferences are and don't be shy, just go.

I want to say read the newest issue of Smokelong Quarterly for your dose of flash fiction. It's the magazine to goto for flash. Or read Elimae.

Got several great rejections this week. Spurned. I love that word because it rhymes with burned. And yet, when they say "We were glad to have had the chance to consider it," how can you be hurt.

I'm trying to get to bed at a decent hour.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Mechanics of Falling by Kate Brady

Well, I just had to take a break from reading her book and it's pretty amazing. Such a good read--it hurts to read it. Makes me want to be a better writer. Buy it and read it. You'll love it. The Mechanics of Falling by Kate Brady. I think she goes by Catherine Brady on the book, though. I was thinking that the back of the book has it wrong, though. She doesn't need to be compared to any of the greats--she is one. I'm her biggest fan.

Sorry I missed out on Sean Beaudoin's book opening in San Francisco. His new book is called Fade to Blue. I've heard it's pretty good. That's next on the list. I love the cover.

Litquake's coming up in October. I'll be reading for Instant City--that cute little San Francisco magazine that I'm always promoting in my classes. I'm wondering what to read. Something serious or something irreverant and funny. Well, probably both b/c that's how I roll. A friend of mine--Kerry Norris is reading for Babylon Salon at the same time, shucks. I've never heard her read and want to.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

On readings and writing

Well, it's Sunday, September 13th at 12:45 and I am fussing with the "L" button on my computer that doesn't work. Reading poems by Raymond Carver from the book All of Us. If you are feeling lost and jaded and want to come down to earth--that's the place to go. I went to the literary reading series called Babylon Salon last night where Pam Uschuck read, along with Daniel Alarcon. Quite a diverse mixture of talent. I especially liked the work by alumni from USF--voices emerging from the darkness of the bar scene. It was nice to see familiar faces. Picked up Pam's book of poetry, which is up for a Pulitzer, and I read today in the paper that Daniel Alarcon's work is up for a big literary prize, too. I am sure, after thinking about it for a while, that these writers have been at it, working on their writing for many years and are deserving. It's easy to see the longing in myself and others when I go to these things. I get this feeling--time to put the time in at the chair and journal, by myself. Put the words down on paper.

If you're looking for a great website to read, check out Jane Anne Staw's new page on writing: And it's free! That's what's amazing. She'll get you writing.

Finished the O'Henry collection and am getting excited to read Kate Brady's collection The Mechanics of Falling. I want to go hear her read from it and am hoping she has a reading again soon.

September is the busiest month in terms of teaching, but teachers have voted to support a strike, so I may have more free time than I want in a couple of weeks. The district wants to take away benefits for our family members. Way to hit below the belt--no negotiation on pay, just no, we're taking that. Tension and anxiety. Class sizes are inflated beyond belief and because we don't have a contract yet, they are going to get away with not paying us for all the extra students in the classes. 69 students in a P.E. class. They might as well dress up in military uniforms and send them off to war.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back to School

I'm such a lazy blogger, but here goes. It's August 19th and tomorrow is back to school for teachers and vote to strike. Ayee. On the writing front: trying to revise an old story about teaching called "Ana from Panama." I think I finally hit the mark. You know when you write a story and you work on it and it's all polished, but you feel like, Oh, I know if I send that out, it's not going to hit. Even though it's a perfectly good story. What is that about? It's because you are hinting at what you wanted to get at with this story, but you didn't dig deep enough. I was on the surface of that situation, but I had to get down to why the narrator was telling the story in the first place. Get at the HEART of it, as I say in my class. I finished reading the O'Henry collection and was glad I picked it up. Some really fine stories in there. We're discussing Junot Diaz's story "Wildwood," which was in the New Yorker last year. Go on-line and read the New Yorker blog. Diaz (Yunior) responds directly to comments on his story. I'm also reading the Best of the Web collection put out by Dzanc. I found some pretty cool stories in there, but I'm also, once again dismayed at the high number of male writers versus female. I know there are plenty of women writers on the web. Maybe it's the particular take/taste of the Dzanc Editors. I hate to be such a feminist, but the numbers don't lie.
I will try to go on sooner rather than later and talk about the individual stories from that collection that I like.
Steven McDermott is going to (hopefully) have a section of Storyglossia on review of the short story. That should be intellectually interesting. That is about all I read these days. I'm getting ready to reread Angela's Ashes this week and make a project / test for my students' summer reading assignment. Sad sad sad that Frank McCourt is gone.
Writing: Work on a story about music and obsession for Storyglossia. Out.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

End of July already

Whew! This month went by. I'm reading the O'Henry collection and I am so taken with the short story by Paul Theroux called "Twenty-two Stories." For all you flash fiction writers out there--read it. It's really a collection of very short flashes, which is what I like to do when I write. Finished revising two short stories and sent them out. Lots going on in the Bay Area. Went to Adele Mendhelson and Clive Matson's poetry reading at the Berkeley Art Center Saturday night. Wow. One man sang "Old Man River." Another woman sang from the opera "Carmen." The usual open mic people--David Gollub and few others I know from the now defunct open mic at La Mediterraneum. Ah, the good old days. Sent out some flash pieces today--haven't done that in a while. Thanks to Meg Pokrass for her encouragement. Google her--read here. She's great. She's on decomP right now. Go there. Don't watch my youtube video of me reading my piece "Ten Suggestions for How to Write a Story Based on a Dream." Why? Because I suck. I had to go first. The crowd was not warmed up and I was trying to hard, plus I don't like my hair. Here's a piece of flash about my hair.

How to Get the Same Exact Hair Color That I Have

First go to Target ready to spend ten lousy dollars on a box of hair color. Loreal is the good product. Spend an hour there deciding whether to buy 8G or 9G. Why don't they have an 81/2 G? Go home and wait to color your hair until a half hour before you have to be somewhere important. The box says a half hour. Follow the directions carefully. Shit, you are late. Now you are going to have to live with that orangeyness until tomorrow. The next day--buy the Blonde Highlights Shampoo and Conditioner. Hesitate. Yeah, go ahead. If you want my hair color, follow along exactly. Wash your hair with the shampoo--make sure to leave it on four minutes instead of three. Do the same with the conditioner. Don't look at your hair when you take it out of the towel--that's not quite the color it's going to be. Blowdry it. Now look. Go right to the local drugstore--Walgreens is best because they have a wider selection. Buy that tube of the purple stuff meant to take the "brassiness" out of your hair. Go home and wash with that about eight or nine times...yes, the same day. Wait a week. Give it a rest. Okay, now call the beautician. She will charge you $200 to correct this. Plus a tip.
Total Cost for Hair like mine: $250. Yep.
Wait, one more. About a week later, go to a different hair dresser and cut it all off. Start over. Write this down and don't forget how to do it because you will do it more than once.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July

Up this morning with barking dogs. And, went on-line for submissions. Natural Bridge, the literary magazine out of the University of Missouri-St. Louis is accepting work and they have a nice page about the submissions process. Look for it.

No plans for this day--I thought it was tomorrow--the fourth I mean. I'm glad. Holidays during the summer annoy me. I don't drink or smoke, so I'm stuck with finding stuff to do. If it gets warm, we'll probably go over to the pool and swim, again.

Time to finish the last draft of my Metal Dump story and send it on its way. Same for the Goat Herder story. I'm reading on the 18th in San Francisco at Amnesia. More on this later.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stuck in the Denver Airport

Yukkk, we are on the way to Omaha, Nebraska, and we're stuck in the Denver airport. Luckily, we have crossword puzzles to fill our brains up. (Or empty them) I've been revising my metal dump story and reading friends stories. I finished Olive Kitteridge and highly recommend it. I'm going to read the novel Brooklyn by (????Colin Tolbin???) Sorry if I butchered his name. I also have a literary magazine along for the ride--River Oak Review. Okay, so for you short story writers out there, I sent a story to Gargoyle, and the reader sent me a note within two days, suggesting other venues: Baltimore Review, Post Road, So to Speak, Pedestal Magazine, and Folio. I went on-line and looked at them and it seems like they might like more traditional or regional topics. So I sent him a different story...more trendy, unusual format, and he immediately sent back suggestions for several magazines, some the same, one or two different, but he also commented briefly on the second story. So, that made me happy and nervous. First, I was so heartened by the fact that this editor would take the time to suggest other venues he felt might be more suited to the two stories, and second that he liked the way I had written the second story. I was also nervous b/c I don't like being pegged as a regional writer. I wonder what "regional" means? Anything that deals with a specific part of the country? Stories dealing with cows and pastures and country people? Stories that deal with the Midwest region? Anyway, neither story dealt with country people or cows or pastures. One did take place in the Midwest, but didn't specifically state a place. One was a story about a family; the other a story about rats. Are rats regional? Anyway, the next editor responded to a piece of flash fiction I sent him and he said something about my story opening spaces inside him that he'd forgotten about. (Different story) I needed to hear that. So my story is that you never know what editor your stories will appeal to, but it does help if you've researched a little. It's funny, because I had already sent stories to four of the five magazines on the first editor's list. I'd read sample work of these magazines on-line or I'd picked up a copy somewhere (the USF lit. mag. library, the bookstore, or ordered a sample copy.) I had never sent to Gargoyle before but I liked how they looked and sounded on-line. I think I should order a copy, though. As L. Buzbee used to say to me, "Do your homework." Keep Writing.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dog speeding

Okay, so I'm trying to catch up on publishing, but first we (meaning the creative writing class at the high school where I teach) had to finish creating the lit mag. Then we had a talent show. In between this I am reading work for my night class, which is keeping me in the loop artistically. I'm feeling good, though, because Jackey got a haircut and we bought new shoes and headbands today, so one more week of high school and school's out for the summer. I'm getting ready to read and write and kick back poolside while Jackey swims. (That's at the public swim pool, by the way.)

On the reading list? Nothing yet. I'm going to visit a bookstore. I did pick up the lit mag Hunger Mountain. Really liked it. Still too busy to comment. Okay, my dog's speeding--I gotta go talk him out of it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Olive Kitteridge

Well, I got this book because it won the Pulitzer. I thought, with a name like that, it can't be good. But what the heck, I had read her work somewhere before. I know the people who run those prizes can't be all wrong and it is a collection of SHORT STORIES! Yeah for the short story! Now I don't want to put it down and I don't want to finish it because it is so good. It is so good, while I am in the car and my husband is talking to me I am yessing him, but I am so annoyed because I don't want to talk about the job or the kids or anything, I just want to see what's going to happen to this family next. It's as enjoyable as any Alice Munro collection and who else? Jumpha Lahiri, Tobias Wolff, Raymond Carver, and my local favorite--Kate Brady. So that's it. Buy it, read it. That's all you're getting out of me.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pre-Mother's Day Reading

Hey--long time--I've been busy. I'm reading at Books, Inc. in Alameda today. May 3rd. At 3:00. It should be interesting. Laura Riggs with Speckled Eggs Studio set it up. She's making Mother's Day cards with our work. I hope there are three adult friends who will show up. The address is 1344 Park Street. I'll be reading a super-short flash and my essay published on 580 Split.

Writing: ????Yikes. Dealing with life crisis. Daughter in car accident in L.A. Enough said. She's okay and I'm having post-traumatic stress disorder.

Writing. Write--I'm reading the new Georgetown Review where my short story "Words I Like to Use Lately" appears. I really like the stories in it. They are down-to-earth, feel true and real. Not much experimentation going on and I kind of like that. The poetry is accessible. I see Jacob Appel's name everywhere these days. I have to recommend the story "When Will Our Grass Be Ready" by Jackie Thomas-Kennedy that's in it. Just loved it. I think because we all feel the way the main character does...or at least I do...What do I want? So I'm a fan. I feel like the stories in this magazine are also vivid, have memorable imagery and ideas.

Talking to a friend last night about getting inspired to write. She said she went to a Leonard Cohen concert and it made her want to go home and put words on paper. I think...get out, see the world, listen to other poets, songrwriters...good idea. I went all over California with my parents and was gung-ho to write when they left (sad, though) and then the car accident threw me for a loop. I'm getting back on that horse this week.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

580 Split Reading on April 25th

I have a reading at Mills College coming up for the magazine 580 Split. That's always fun and nice to get out there and hear other people's work. There's also a life after the MFA forum on Sunday, the 26th at USF, so I'm looking forward to being busy in the literary life. My class at Hercules High School is hard at work on the lit mag: The Dynamite Factory, and I'm so proud of them. They get right to it and know exactly what to do. The English III classes are presenting projects for their multicultural lit unit and the other two English classes are reading Catcher in the Rye. I can't tell whether they like it, but I'm getting tired of it. I think I'll try to find something fresh and new for them to read next year. They liked Their Eyes Were Watching God, I think. We have to do some writing soon. So that's life after the MFA in a high school English class. I'm hoping more of you out there will sign up for my Wednesday night fiction class at the Writing Salon (soon). It may be a sign of the economy slump. I'd like to teach a class and only have two sign-ups right now. It'd be nice if the class stayed small, but six is the necessary amount for the class to go.

As for my own writing--well--more time to write is always a plus. Working on a collection of suburban stories. Rough day, though. Daughter had a fender bender, husband's truck got broken into and his wallet stolen--they charged a bunch up at Toys R Us and Staples within an hour or two--and some students at my high school hijacked the school website and wrote some pretty awful things about administrators and teachers. I felt sad and disheartened at their meanness, especially toward teachers and administrators who work so hard to make school a safe place and the teachers who work extra hard to help them be successful on AP exams. Maybe teachers and students don't always see eye to eye, but writing profane and abusive statements, terrorizing the school's website (which students created and maintain)? I don't get it. These are definitely kids with too much time on their hands. And they're sure to get caught, which will also be sad for their lives--and their parents' lives.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Practice of Poetry

Hey, if you're a poet and wants some terrific exercises for writing poetry--try The Practice of Poetry, edited by Roni Behn and Chase Twichell. It's great for sparking the imagination, which is why I'm especially encouraging fiction writers who are blocked to try it. It's got my mind all woke up. A friend gave me an article from the LA Times about cowboy poets/farmer poets and I thought that was pretty funny and true. I'm from the Midwest and I can see why farmers would resent the bailout when they lost all their farms in the 80's. No one came to their aide. Here's a sample from Yvonne Hollenbeck
"A 'Bail Out' plan in AgLand is to feed the livestock hay,
and not the type of bail-out plan we hear about today.
When country folds lose money, which happens most of the time
they don't receive a handout...not even one thin dime."

Love it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Creative Nonfiction on the Web

I have a new essay out on the web at 580 Split. It's the short essay called "In the Shed." GOTO and then go to their web journal. Let me know what you think. After seeing it on-line, I felt like whoa...too personal. It's my first nonfiction piece. I think I like hiding behind the veil of fiction, but I wanted to step out this once because my daughter JG was mentioned in it and I wanted to say to her, "Hey, I wrote something about us." I was also trying to write about the past and trying to write an essay in the vein of personal reflection. My eleventh grade students have to write one, so I made myself write one, too--to show them and to show myself.

As for people who were considering taking my Friday night class, I'm sorry. I had to step off on that one because I was too overwhelmed with things to do in the next three months. (And quite frankly, I got ill with kidney stones and it set me back about two weeks.) I will still be teaching my Fiction class. It's been moved back to Wednesday nights, with all new stories to read, new writing exercises, and more opportunities to workshop. So check it out if you're thinking about taking a class. If you have graduated from an MFA program, but miss the classroom, this class has a nice mix of writers who are very dedicated to the craft and are very responsible in the workshop/editing phase. It's a great place to go back to and revive that spirit and excitement you had for writing. (Or if you are new--we're gentle and encouraging)

As for advice about writing, I'm now reading a book called The Practice of Poetry by editors Robin Behn and Chase Twichell. They have some terrific exercises for people to write poetry, but I like some of them for inspiring stories, too. I like the idea of writing a story from a poem. I used to do this all the time when I was in the program at USF. Write the story out as lines in a poem first. Then go back and fill it up with detail. I do the reverse sometimes with poetry. Freewrite as a narrative; then pare it down to the simplest form. Cut out and get to the central image and metaphor.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Too much to do

Gotta keep it short. Still reading Writing Tips. Love it. Also reading Pushcart Prizes 2009. I'm planning to go hear Kate Brady read (if she does) at her book release party. I love her work. Her book is called The Mechanics of Falling. I lost my cell phone today and a pair of shoes last week and a workout jacket (that I recovered). So I lost three run of bad luck is over. I had three financial disasters: the pipe to our main water line broke, the car needed a new catalytic converter, and our daughter needed new tires. So that's over. My mom says they only come in threes. Oh and she says, "Don't swim in the river!" Love it.

Jane at the Writing Salon is planning a class for me to teach--once a month on a Friday night for six months. This is for people who mainly want to workshop their work. Check it out on her website soon. I'm still planning to teach the Fiction class once a week. BUSY!

I hear lots of people are getting published out there. That's good news in all this doom and gloom atmosphere. It's weird. We (my family) have always been economical and careful with money (sort of) and our income is the same, we still have our house, but we still feel like we should be more careful. It's a strange time. Well, my husband did lose a bunch on his 401 K. Oh yeah, he lost his wallet this week, too. I hope nobody tries to identity theft him!!!!

The writing life feels crammed full right now and not much time for advice. I'm having the class read stories to look for two stories in one.

Tired because of the time change and my dogs are hogging the bed. Sorry, gotta go. I'll write more when I have something to say.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Rain

Today is the 22nd--the last day off before the end of ski week. I spent the week working on revising short stories, painting a set for my daughter's play next week, finding a costume for her. I have to say the set turned out fabulous: a surreal orange and yellow sun, a pink castle with silver glitter, and fields of pink, yellow, and white flowers. Thanks to my husband, it looks pretty professional. It's a fairy tale story.

Well, I'm reading a couple of books about writing right now: Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark and Creative Journal Writing by Stephanie Dowrick. Clark's book is in some ways an updated version of The Elements of Style; however, I'm finding all kinds of useful tidbits around writing that were unexpected when I picked the book up. I wish more newcomers to writing would read books about writing, but I remember when I first started writing--it was all about the act of writing and less about craft. Anyway, Clark looks at things from a journalistic stance, too, and I think that can only help my sense of organization. I found some surprising writing exercises in it. The Creative Journal Writing book is still on the back burner for me. I did like journaling about goals for a particular project--it helped me clarify a direction I'm taking with my collection of stories I seem to be working on now.

I was also thinking a lot this week about writing groups vs. classes vs. one-on-one mentoring. I've been shopping around for a writing group to join, but find many groups blocked to my entry. I think it's just that people get used to each other--hmm, what am I trying to say? I keep encouraging people in my classes to also think about finding someone whose opinion they really trust to help dig deeper into their stories. I have one or two people whose opinions really matter to me; I'd like to find one or two more. One thing I think that happens is a person needs help with just one small issue in a story, and an article or a craft book doesn't really address that. I read the flyer/newsletter from Glimmertrain called Writer's Ask? Is that what it's called. Anyway, I feel like they need to have the articles dig a little deeper on some of their topics--too superficially treated. I think helping students with a particular topic works in a one-on-one question/discussion format rather than in the workshop model. In a workshop class, students bring the writing to the table and are told the strengths of the piece and then some areas that need attention. Or the others ask questions. The writer is silent until the end, but I find that if I am allowed to talk about a story to a group, I'm able to come up with the answer I needed. By that, I don't mean that I justify the events or endings or whatever in a story. If it aint there, it aint there. I mean, say I don't like me ending, but I can talk about my ending, maybe I can figure out why I don't like it. If a group tells me the ending doesn't work for them and then suggests alternate endings, they've gone too far in trying to write it for me. I attended a group last week, and we sat around and ate chili and salad and laughed and talked about our stories and that helped free up my writing more than any prescribed group vs. writer type of setting. Journaling about a story helps, too. Still can't work in a vacuum. I'm not that writer. All right enough rambling. I've got stories to edit and I gotta go see a man about a mule.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Writing Fiction

It was nice to see a couple of people read my blog--Peter and Kevin. Kevin asked about my fiction class that I teach on Thursday nights at the Writing Salon. It usually runs as a nine week class. In each class, we address an issue of craft, such as developing characters or finding the arc of the story. I try to bring new articles and ideas surrounding craft for each class. That means if you've taken the class before, I still bring in new stories and new techniques for addressing craft. We have a short discussion around craft, read a story related to the issue, and discuss that. Then we try some writing within the class--something centered around the story we read or the craft issue. Maybe we'll try writing a story that has lots of dialogue with lots of subtext, something like that. Then we workshop 2-3 stories for the rest of the class. It's a jam-packed night. If you take the class, you get to workshop at least two stories within the timeframe of the class. It starts again in the summer. Sometimes I teach a flash fiction class on a weekend, but I've had more trouble drumming up a class for that. the website for any classes at the Writing Salon is

Kevin--thanks for the quote from Bukowski, but I think he was a pretty ambitious poet. He's not giving himself enough credit.

As for me, I had a great time at the Good Vibrations reading on Friday. It was very tastefully prepared and everyone seemed to have a good time. Laura Riggs made some beautiful cards with our poems/flash fiction/nonfiction on them, so I was especially pleased. (By the way, it was on Polk--oops)

I'm working on a story now that I got inspired to write by reading the book Ron Carlson Writes a Story. It's a book that follows how he wrote the story "The Governor's Ball." I liked it because it looked at how we writers write a story, instead of looking at story from the outside ie. craft. I was so inspired by it that I decided to include a period of time within my class at the Writing Salon where we don't just talk about craft, but also talk about where we get ideas, how we make decisions, how we get into and through the revision process, how we set a writing schedule that works for us--stuff like that.

Bummed. I went to Zack Rogow's reading today at Diesel Books in Oakland on College (His book: lovely, lovely, lovely--called The Number Before Ininity) and forgot my purse, so I didn't get to buy all the books I had picked up for myself and for loved ones' Valentines--I gotta get back over there. Well, it's time to read and write a little, spend some time half-watching a kid movie with my younger daughter and get some sleep. Be kind to yourself and say hi to me when you get a chance.

Wait let me just say one more thing about Zack's book. It's a collection of poems that are wonderfully written. The blurb on the back says each poem is a chapter in the story of two lovers united by passion but separated by previous commitments. I especially choked up over his poems involving children caught in the tug-of-war when two people move apart. The Number Before Inifinity

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Poetry Reading

Hey, If you read this. Leave a comment. I need to know if anyone reads this in order for me to continue. All right--up on the agenda--I have a reading coming up on Feb. 6 at Good Vibrations in San Francisco. We are reading love poetry at that location and selling a little gift card with our poems in it. Cool. This is all arranged by Laurie Doyle from my Fiction class at the Writing Salon. More on this later. Come on over-it's at 7:00 on Valencia Street in the Mission.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Checking In

Well, it's been a while. My new Fiction Class at the Writing Salon starts next Thursday, the 29th of January. It runs from 7:00 to 9:30. I'm looking forward to it. We're planning to address issues of craft as usual, but I also want the class to talk about the process of creating a story ie. "Where" do they come up with stories? How do they find time to write? How do they stay with a story until it's finished?

I finished Mark Budman's novel and enjoyed it--nice voice. I also picked up a copy of the current 2009 Pushcart Prizes and was a little dismayed to read the editor's opening comments dissing on-line magazine submissions. I find it in poor taste to allow editors from on-line sources to submit stories for consideration and then to openly criticize on-line venues for the poor quality of the submissions. If the Pushcarts don't want on-line magazines to submit, then they shouldn't have opened the door to this. I'm not sure what's going on there. I've read some pretty amazing stories on-line in Narrative Magazine, Virginia Quarterly, Storyglossia, Western Humanities Review and some great flash at Smokelong Quarterly. I also enjoy reading the flash at Vestal Review. I'm not published in most of these magazines, so this isn't self-promotion. I just find it plain RUDE that print publications are being such dinosaurs about what they consider to be quality fiction. I see lots of award winning authors publishing on-line these days. Enough. I'll stop after I say one more thing--weren't the Pushcarts established in order to honor literature that doesn't get honored. Isn't that the spirit of this prize? I feel like the on-line venues should start their own Pushcart Prize. We do have the Million Writers Award, but this typically picks only one story. Dzanc Books publishes a Best of the Web book now, so I guess that's our Pushcart. It's daunting, though. I hear so many new writers say, Maybe I shouldn't try to get published on-line. I say, do your the magazines...see if you like the stories. Water seeks its own level. Okay I'll stop.

Writing? Yes, but for now, that's under wraps. I do have a short creative non-fiction piece coming out on the ON-LINE edition of 580 Split. I'm very proud of it and very proud to be included in 580's inaugural on-line edition of the magazine. It's out at the end of the month, called "In the Shed."

Anything else? Read Ron Carlson Writes a Story. It'll inspire you. I went to Instant City's reading for their new magazine issue. I feel like it's a small select crowd who all know each other that gets in the mag. Nice people, but Gravity Goldberg was joking about nepotism, and hmm. I'm not from SF, but being from another state and moving here, I feel like I'm a San Francisco-an. I'm from the East Bay. The story has to be about San Francisco--okay, I'm okay with that, but there's also this gritty realism thing, too. Is that all SF is? Drugs, violent scenes at poetry readings, confrontations on mass transit? I need a stronger point to some of the stories I like. I did like one story, though--"Eucalyptus" by Cynthia W. I forget the last name and I left my copy at work. Anyway, that story captured a generation for me. She did some nice work there.

Other on-line venues I like, of course, are VerbSap, Wheelhouse, Midway Journal. I'm published in these. I'm not looking to win awards with these stories, but I still love these stories. I submitted them on-line, not because I felt they weren't good enough to get into a print mag, but because they were shorter, had a trendier, more on-line feel to them. I can't say what that quality is that makes me say submit this on-line. A little shorter than average is one quality, though. Midway wanted experimentation--I liked their logo and I liked what I saw when I went there. I also liked that they were a Midwestern base. Don't be an elitist. Submit to both print and on-line. Encourage and support.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A New Year

What am I finished reading?
Iron Horse Review, The HolidayIssue; Cimarron Review, Summer 2008; Mississippi Review V36, N3; the Iowa Review 38/1.
What am I reading right now?
Mark Budman's novel, My Life at First Try. So far, I really like it. I love the short episodic nature of his chapters. I like it that he tried something different with narrative. I love the voice of it and the cultural details around living in Russia. I'll let you know how well I really like it, when I'm finished.
What did I dream last night?
I dreamt that my deck on my house started falling apart and that I was sleeping outside in this shed in front of my house. Then I was at the school where I teach and I was taking some weird sex class that I couldn't figure out how to pay for. Then I had to get home to my kids, but I had to take this strange kind of vehicle owned by one of the teachers. It had a weird gear shift, like a tractor. I was driving it crazy and fireworks were going off in the field nearby. Okay, that's strange. Shall we interpret that? Home, kids, sex, money, work. Yeah, I'm not hard to figure out.
What am I going to do today?
Write something new. Revise two stories that need work. Journal about my idea for a novel. Ieee. Exercise first so I can establish my priorities.