Essential Beginnings in Nonfiction, UCLA Extension Writers Program

I have been teaching this course a long time, almost 20 years. It was, and still is, my favorite course to teach. And, because of a lot of pandemic chaotic stuff and fixing my 1939 cottage, I am only teaching it ONCE in 2021. (Promise I’ll be back early 2022)

What happens during the course? YOU happen.

Don’t ask me to explain why I am a better teacher of nonfiction than I am a teacher of fiction. I know, I’m a fiction writer. Maybe I’m too close to the process, I’m not as good as explaining how it happens for me. Nonfiction, though, is a whole other story.

Trust me. I have kept this course as streamlined as possible to allow plenty of time for discussion and interaction with each student.

My hope is to get everyone to the happy place where they see writing as a verdant field of dreams.

There is one text, a classic.

There are my “lectures,” which are much less classic but okay, they’re useful.

There are THE WRITING EXERCISES EACH WEEK which will fill you with so much tension and joy, you can’t even explain it. Because that’s how writing, the act of sitting down and writing, actually feels (If standing on your head writing works for you, hey . . . )

Registration is open NOW. Class begins May 5 and ends June 15.

Since this class is ON-LINE, you can take it from anywhere in the world. I usually have, in one class, students from at least three continents: North America, South America, Asia, and the UK and Europe.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Free Submissions, Today Only, FIVE SOUTH

All day today, Sunday, April 11, the literary mag Five South is temporarily suspending submission fees.

All other writers guidelines still apply. Such as WORD COUNTS:

  • Flash: 1000 words
  • Short Fiction: 5000 words
  • Poetry: Open

Here’s the link for full guidelines.

There is a typo: Simulataneous Submissions.

But hey, this is a good journal, and they do get back to you fast.

The Narrator, Ballistic Kiss

Which is when the fucking phone rings again. For a minute I feel a twinge of relief, hoping it’s Candy with a good excuse to cancel the party. Instead it’s Abbott. My landlord. His calls, I can’t ignore. I put the phone on speaker and say hello as I continue cleaning the weapons.

pp. 10 – 11

Ha. Ha. Ha. What is this series? It’s self’s first Sandman Slim. Loving the tone.

Just One Person From Around the World: Redwood City, California

This Photo Challenge is courtesy of ThatTravelLadyInHerShoes:

I have stopped watching the news….I have dropped all social media, except for my blog, which I try to keep to positive vibes…. there are a lot of folks in the world, who are everyday folks, just trying to provide food and shelter and love……….they are trying to make a living…….keep their kids educated and basically just take care of their families, without an agenda.  Me too. I think there is more of us…. Just trying to live our lives….. So, I would like to take the time to focus on one person a week to bring us together, to celebrate ordinary folks.

Feel free to join Just One Person From Around the World  by creating your own post and then share your link in the comments! Also, add the tag JUST ONE PERSON FROM AROUND THE WORLD to your post so it is easier for me to find! Thank You!

Calling All Emerging Writers!

Enter the Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction

Deadline: 1 May 2021

This contest is specifically for writers who have yet to publish their fiction in book form. Submit your short story (maximum: 3,500 words) by 1 May 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PDT for a chance to win $1000 (Canadian) and publication!

Entry fee is discounted and comes with a one-year print subscription to The Malahat Review.

$25 (Canadian) for each entry from Canada; $30 (Canadian) for each entry from the USA; $35 (Canadian) for each entry from elsewhere.

Go here for full contest guidelines.

Getting Through It

It’s been almost a year since the world stopped, plans got thrown out the window, and nothing will ever be the same.

Self thought she’d take a moment to celebrate the things that got her through the past year:

Of course, gardening. Her garden has never looked so great. Every day she watches the oxalis in her backyard get higher and higher. And she just loves it.

Second, books, and her fantastic local library and their curbside pick-up system. She’s been using it since June (Before that, she ordered many books from Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, which is equally fantastic). Also, self would like to thank the AUTHORS of these wonderful books. When self needed to be transported to another place and time, these authors delivered:

Self would also like to thank FREE CONCERTS. The week after everything shut down, St. Bride’s in London began streaming everything. And so did St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, which used to hold free noontime concerts every Tuesday.

She would also like to thank Cal Shakes, whose summertime Shakespeare was a high point of her summer, as long as she was home in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Her first Cal Shakes was Romeo and Juliet. ADAM SCOTT PLAYED ROMEO. Sold!!!) A few days ago, she got a message that they would mount ONE live production this summer (Dates to be announced), with appropriate social distancing, of course: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

Also, FaceTime. Self has actually learned to FaceTime with Dearest Mum. It’s been so great.

And The Economist, which managed to come every week (every two weeks lately, since DeJoy destroyed the USPS)

Finally, she’d like to thank her favorite TV shows, because she’d never have gotten through without them: The Expanse (closing with Season 6), Peaky Blinders (closing with Season 6), The Crown.

A big hand also for Trader Joe’s, for being most sanitary of all the different supermarkets she’s shopped in.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Remembering Parkland and March For Our Lives

14 students and three teachers probably woke up that Valentine’s Day thinking of chocolates and Valentine cards. Not a single one knowing they’d never get out of that day.

And now we have a person in Congress who’s saying it never happened. And nothing happens to her, the Truth Denier. She even stalks one of the teen-age survivors. Stalks him as he’s leaving class, yells at him as he’s walking along.

An adult is yelling at a teen-ager who survived a school massacre. And gets herself ELECTED TO CONGRESS. What is wrong with this picture?

High Body Count: Eddie’s Boy, p. 29

Self loves this book! From the opening scene — the hero’s having a meltdown in a Bentley because he had to kill, it enraged him, can’t people just behave so he doesn’t have to kill them? — she’s been having a fine time!

There are four corpses (already) in that Bentley, and that’s just in the first paragraph!

Plus self loved learning about the excellence of the double-barreled Purdey & Sons rifle (100,000 GBP each, thank you very much!)

Anyhoo, the first four would-be assassins attempted a break-in at the hero’s re-modeled 1650s Yorkshire mansion (technically, the property of his wife, she’s a member of the English nobility). Our hero drives the Bentley to the Manchester airport, where he leaves it (and the four bodies) in the parking lot and waits for a shuttle to the terminal. Unfortunately, a new set of goons try to kill him before he can get on the shuttle. Since it is only p. 29, we can assume the hero survives, which means these assassins must be off-ed, as well.

A few pages later, our hero faces an existential crisis: how can he get rid of the blood spatter on his clothes before entering the plane (to Sydney)?

Digressing a bit: Self has a book to pick up from the library this afternoon. Then, FaceTime with Dearest Mum in Manila. Tomorrow morning, bright and early (4 p.m. London time), she’s registered for a talk by the woman who writes obituaries for The Economist (such elegant examples of the form, she’s even taught them in creative nonfiction classes). There’s another zoom event tomorrow afternoon, fortunately it’s Central time, not such a big time difference as Manila or London: poets Denise Duhamel and Nin Andrews, hosted by Rain Taxi, and free!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

More Melancholia: High as the Waters Rise, p. 256 (Not a Spoiler)

He sat like that for a long time and felt the air getting cooler, and it made him think of Cantarell, of the gigantic fields, which stopped yielding, little by little. Statfjour, even Brent dwindled, in the North Sea. That someone had taken the trouble to name them all, and that they were now withering, petals and stamens collapsing to leave huge hollow spaces. At some point all that came up was sand and water. And that there was only water over them. That they’d take away the rigs. No trace, like none of it had ever existed.

The North Sea, Petrow had said, is nothing compared to what they’re planning now.

This is an environmental novel, make no mistake. Self is so glad she read it.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Stanford Alumni Letter to SAA Board of Directors Regarding Senator Hawley

If you are a Stanford Alumna, you may sign your name here. Currently, 1244 former students have signed.

To: Board of Directors of the Stanford Alumni Association, Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center, 326 Galvez Street, Stanford, CA 94305 – 6105

January 7, 2021

Board of Directors:

We, the undersigned alumni of Stanford University, call upon the Stanford Alumni Association (“SAA”) to immediately expel United States Senator Josh Hawley ‘02 from SAA.

Senator Hawley’s words and actions on, and prior to, January 6, 2021 are a direct and unprecedented assault on our constitutional and democratic form of government. His baseless objection to the electoral results of Arizona and Pennsylvania, his overt support for the violent mob that swarmed the Capitol, and his relentless deceit in pursuit of power all demonstrate that Senator Hawley represents not merely a different political viewpoint, but a growing fascist threat to the United States. In light of such danger, SAA must deny Senator Hawley the privileges and benefits of SAA membership, and not allow Stanford alumni and resources to become complicit in advancing his harmful and unconscionable agenda.

Senator Hawley’s statements and conduct are also in direct violation of SAA’s Code of Conduct, which states in relevant part that “Stanford reserves the right to warn, suspend or ban any person from access to constituent resources and events whose behavior does not uphold the values of respect, integrity, honesty, and fairness.”

We, therefore, demand that the Board of Directors take action and expel Senator Hawley from the SAA without delay, including a ban on his attendance and participation in SAA events and activities.

Signed,

1,244 names as of January 7, 2021

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