TETHERED FORM: A Talk on Flash Fiction by Marianne Villanueva, Writer-in-Residence, Mendocino Art Center

Self is cognizant of the fact that the title of this post is LONGER than the announcement itself, but anyhoo:

Writers of the Mendocino Coast & Gallery Bookshop Present:

Tethered Form: The Paradox of Flash Fiction and the Unleashed Imagination

(Talk will be followed by a few writing exercises, bring pencil & paper)

February 18, 2015
6 p.m.
Mendocino Hotel
Booksigning to follow.

*     *     *     *

And here’s a link to the Travel Writing Workshop I’m teaching up in Mendocino, Feb. 21 and 22!

Stay tuned.

Still Further Scenes From Self’s Multi-Chapter Hunger Games AU Fan Fiction

Self has no idea what is happening. A week ago, she had only 9 chapters written. Now, she has 15. Ever since she got the news of Margarita Donnelly’s passing, on Christmas Eve, she’s just been writing (and not just her fan fiction) like blazes. Writing’s always been how self chooses to deal.

In this chapter, Peeta returns home to 12 after a prolonged stay in the Capitol:

The train comes to a shuddering stop.

Haymitch is waiting on the platform.

The older Victor isn’t required in the Capitol. He’s become unsightly, an embarrassment. On the rare occasions when he shows up in the Capitol, he spends most of his time playing poker in the Capitol Casino. He gambles and loses and no one stops him because he’s still wealthy and there is a lot of money for him left to lose. Money’s no use, after all, unless it’s out of a Victor’s pocket and spread around.

There’s a small band waiting on the station platform. As soon as Peeta exits the train, it strikes up a tinny tune, the musicians giving an extra flourish to their motions as soon as they see Peeta turn his head in their direction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Warmth 3: Venice Beach

Self visited Venice Beach twice this year: the first time in September, by herself. The second in November, with Angela Narciso Torres, who was giving a reading at Beyond Baroque (which, incidentally, was where self discovered that Viggo Mortensen of Lord of the Rings fame used to participate in their poetry writing workshops, way back in the ’80s!)

Both times, the weather was beautiful and warm.

The beach itself had very few people, surprisingly.

Venice Beach, November 2014

Venice Beach, November 2014

Venice Beach Boardwalk, November 2014

Venice Beach Boardwalk, November 2014

Sunbathers, Venice Beach, September 2014

Sunbathers, Venice Beach, September 2014

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Warmth 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Oh the sun was out, and it was glorious.

Self was inspired to capture the moment with her camera.

So here is her second post on this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:  WARMTH

Wee Bit of Sun on a Cold Winter's Day!

Wee Bit of Sun on a Cold Winter’s Day!

This next shot has something to do with the nice weather: The Man and self took a walk around downtown Redwood City yesterday afternoon, and wound up at Pamplemousse, where self bought a couple of caramel salt macarons! Heaven!

Self hearts Pamplemousse!

Self hearts Pamplemousse!

Christmas Day self truly had a burst of energy: she and The Man drove to Benicia to see some old friends, and what a treat to have such warm, glorious weather! Here’s a shot of their lemon tree:

This magnificent lemon tree grows in a friend's backyard in Benicia.

This magnificent lemon tree grows in a friend’s backyard in Benicia.


Pile of Stuff: The New York Review of Books, 26 September 2013

Oh why oh why had self mis-laid this issue. Apparently it lay discarded in self’s clothes closet for over a year. And today is a busy busy Monday (Mondays always are), but she just can’t help perusing the issue. And it turns out, there are so many interesting reviews!

Without further ado, here are a couple of books reviewed in the 26 September 2013 issue of The New York Review of Books:

  • The Girl Who Loved Camellias: The Life and Legend of Marie Duplessis, by Julie Kavanagh (Knopf, $27.95)
  • The Lady of the Camellias, by Alexandre Dumas fils, translated from the French by Liesl Schillinger (Penguin, $16.00)
  • The Force of Things: A Marriage in War and Peace, by Alexander Stille (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28.00)
  • The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson (Random House, $15.00)
  • Calcutta: Two Years in the City, by Amit Chaudhuri (Knopf, $25.95)
  • Subtle Bodies, by Norman Rush (Knopf, $26.95)
  • Mortals, by Norman Rush
  • Whites, by Norman Rush
  • The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: An Elusive World Wonder Traced, by Stephanie Dalley (Oxford University Press, $34.95)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Never Forget This

Self was about to start grad school at Stanford University.

Dearest Mum went with her. We did a jaunt to LA and stayed with a distant relative in Glendale.

The relative’s name was Lucy. She was living with an American guy named Bob. She drank a tall glass of green liquid every morning, she said it was good for you: pure chlorophyll.

Self tried a bit and it tasted disgusting, the consistency of mucus.

One night, Dearest Mum and self returned to Lucy’s home to find it dark, locked, nobody home. We drove around for hours, just waiting for Lucy to show up. This was the era before cell phones, so the only recourse we had were to use payphones.

Dearest Mum spied one in front of a liquor store. She said, Get in there and use the phone.

Self said, What? No! It’s a liquor store!

Nevertheless, self being a very obedient 21-year-old, she got down from the car and used the payphone that was right in front of the entrance. Dearest Mum remained in the car. When self turned around after making a series of fruitless calls to Lucy, she saw that a car had pulled up right next to Dearest Mum. Two men were inside that car, staring intently at Dearest Mum, who was clutching the steering wheel with both hands. Self would call that “a white-knuckle clutch.”

Whereupon, self jumped back into the car, Dearest Mum va-voomed out of the parking lot with screeching tires, and we drove around and around for two more hours, until we were pulled over by a policeman.

The policeman walked over to Dearest Mum’s window and shone a flashlight straight into her face.

What is it, Officer? Dearest Mum coo-ed in her sweetest, most girl-y voice.

Ma’am, we pulled you over because we thought you might be drunk.

What? Me? Drunk? Dearest Mum’s voice dripped outrage.

Well, the Officer said, I see you’re not drunk, Ma’am. But here’s the thing: me and my partner have been following you for a bit because: A) You braked on a green light; B) You switched lanes in the middle of an intersection; and C) This is the fourth time you’ve passed this corner.

BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAAA! Self had to assume her best poker face during the exchange.

Now I’ll tell you what, Ma’am, quoth the cop. You see this big intersection right here? You make a left at that intersection, and you keep going, and you keep going, and you don’t stop until you see this big hotel, and you wait in that hotel for your friend to get home.

Self doesn’t know why it never occurred to her to share this story before.

Stay tuned.

Further Scenes From Self’s Hunger Games Fan Fiction (AU, Canon-Divergent Katniss and Peeta)

So very AU, Canon-Divergent, but what the hey.


Peeta is stuck in the Capitol (several years after he became the lone Victor of his Games), entertaining degenerate Capitol denizens with a fake romance with the latest Victor, a 17-year-old beauty named Darna. Meanwhile, Katniss is a very stressed miner’s wife back in District 12.

President Snow blesses the pairing of Darna and Peeta (How do we know this? Because Snow provides Darna with the key code to Peeta’s private suite in the Capitol — DUN. DUN. DUN!)

Darna is a Victor and absolutely lethal in the Arena, but in Peeta’s suite she is nothing but a lovesick 17-year-old who loves watching Peeta cook spaghetti (Pace, Haruki Murakami!)

“Ah, melanzane,” Darna purrs.

“Sorry?” Peeta says, bemused.

“Oh, it’s an old word. My father said my grandfather used it all the time. I don’t really know what it means. But my father used to say it to my mother when she indulged him by cooking one of his favorite dishes.”

“The things you learn,” Peeta chuckles, shaking his head. He reaches for a bottle from the wine rack on the counter.

There’s a brief silence. Then Darna says, “I can’t complain. It could be so much worse. I could be like — “

Snow sees Peeta shake his head. A warning.

“I suppose,” Peeta says.

Darna nods and moves slowly back to the counter. Her beautiful face is now blank, guarded.

Peeta, Snow thinks, is an excellent teacher.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Warmth: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is WARMTH.

Think “indoor pools . . . heated sidewalk cafés . . . spaces dedicated to the preservation and celebration of warmth.”

That said, here are a couple of pictures self took in the fall, when northern California had a month-long string of sunny days.

There is nothing more calming for self than being in her garden on a sunny day:

The Side Yard

The Side Yard (It looks very different now: for one thing, all the trees are bare.

The Apple Tree Last Fall

The Apple Tree

Another image that recalls WARMTH is this picture of sunflowers self took at the Redwood City Farmers Market. The market is held every Saturday from April through November.

Redwood City Farmers Market: Summer 2014

Redwood City Farmers Market: Summer 2014

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Eavesdropping: Downtown Redwood City Century 20, Christmas Day

WOMAN:  “I saw The Interview yesterday.”

MAN:  “Did you?”

WOMAN: “And that was the stupidest, most asinine . . .  The idea that North Korea was threatened by it . . . ” (eye-roll)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Excerpt of the Day: E. B. Lyndon’s “Goodbye, Bear” (In One Story, Issue 172)

She was grilling me about the guy I was seeing — was he the real deal, or just another fine-for-now? I told her my feelings weren’t reliable at the moment.

“You,” she said. “Always a finger on your emotional pulse.”

“But that’s what I’m trying to tell you,” I said. “No pulse. I think I’m dead.”

And, just like that, I decide to renew my subscription to One Story.

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