Things About Sandman Slim

Things that are cool about Sandman Slim:

  • He is Nephilim.
  • He has a flaming sword called Gladius (like a light saber, but cooler).
  • He has PTSD from being in Hell.
  • He can go anywhere, anywhere in the world, as long as he can find a shadow.
  • His ride is called the Hellion Hog.
  • While in Hell, he developed a taste for Malediction cigarettes.

Things that are not cool about Sandman Slim:

  • Janet
  • Janet
  • Janet again
  • Just, in general, Janet and their lack of ambition. She works in a donut shop. (This does not seem like a “transitional” phase.) She explained to Sandman Slim that she is against binary pronouns — he/she. He must always refer to them as “they” or whatever.
  • Janet is tiresome. They are the type of woman who likes their men to rescue them. Notice I have to submit to calling Janet “they/them” because that is how they want Sandman Slim to refer to them. And they are mixed up. Did self say already how weird they are?
  • They belong to a club where people find sexy ways to commit suicide, such as rushing straight across a freeway during rush hour traffic. To get into this club, Sandman Slim must show how adventurous he is by killing a vampire. He does it handily because of supernatural ability. Also because of flaming sword. Mostly he just does it to impress Janet. Which is lame, boring. Because they are boring.

Anyhoo, self is reading fast now and hopefully will get to her next book, a memoir by Elizabeth Berg, about aging and how we all must go through it, blah blah blah. Hopefully it will NOT be depressing, because nothing’s worse than reading a book about aging and being depressed. Also, it’s about a real-life couple who have a great love, and sometimes it’s depressing to read about that.

But oh, it’s such a gorgeous day. And oh btw, she edited a story and sent it out. Her story’s about exploration, and discovery, and about how a one’s character can pretty much dictate the arc of one’s life, and when you get to the end, do you say, What’s next? Or do you say, What was that all about? Or do you say nothing.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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.

Day 3: BRIGHT SQUARES

The host of this challenge is The Life of B. Self aims to post at least one bright square every day through April

I want everyone to have fun. So you can join me posting squares daily or simply pop by as and when suits you and your blog. You can interpret the theme of bright strictly or let it take you somewhere random.

The Life of B, Bright Squares Photo Challenge, April 2021

  • Apple Store, Union Square, San Francisco
  • Daily Journal

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Your Street or Neighborhood: A Photo a Week Challenge

Photo challenges are life!

Nancy Merrill hosts A Photo a Week Challenge. This week’s theme is:

  • IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO OF YOUR STREET OR NEIGHBORHOOD.

This picture is of the nearest independent bookstore to self’s house: Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park. Still going strong. Self gave her first local reading here:

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Opening, Self’s Camarote de Marinero

What do you think?

  • On the last day of November, on the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the Genoese pilot of the Santa Maria found a current.  It led to a vast and peaceful ocean, an ocean whose purring sighs and amber warmth held us firmly in its liquid embrace. The weather was mild, the sea an unbroken stretch of glass. Suddenly, we forgot scurvy and exhaustion, and even the last dreadful sight of the men put ashore in Guam, the ones slain by the cannibal Chamorros.  The terrible screams from the beach had carried across the water to the black ships.  Oh, the horror!

I think this is READY.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

TransGenre: “I dreamt about my sister, dead these many years”

Another of my pieces. This one was published in Hotel Amerika, the TransGenre issue, 2010.

Copyright reverted to me after first publication. I’m not sure how many people read it the first time, which is why I’m re-publishing here. ALL THANKS TO HOTEL AMERIKA for giving this piece a home.

Ghosts

by Marianne Villanueva

I dreamt about my sister, dead these many years. It seemed she was in a place of ghosts. In my dream, I put my face up to hers and kissed her cheek and said, “I’ll always be your sister.” But she turned her face away and closed her eyes. Her cheek was cold.

I said, “Do you want me to take you away, dear? Come, come! Let us go!” But she only looked sad and didn’t speak.

My son was with me but in my dream he was a young boy. I mean, my son at seven, not the way he is now. He was impatient with my sighs and tears and wanted to get away from that place. He was bored.

I gave him a pencil and told him, “Draw!” He took the pencil obediently. He drew. But it seemed to cost him great effort.

Now and then I would peep at what he was drawing: a series of empty rectangles. I asked him, “Why don’t you put people in your drawings? See, here, and here, and here. They’re all around us!”

He looked up and slowly I saw understanding dawn on his face. He filled his drawings with the outlines of people. I understood then that he, too, could see them, these ghosts.

I told my sister: You are under a spell. You should never have gotten married. She nodded, but she didn’t seem to want to do anything about it. Eventually I left, I left my sister there in that cold white house in the middle of a barren plain. The landscape looked like that of a northern country, all bare brown fields as if struck by winter. All white trees.

In the back seat of my car was a white box. It made an angry buzz. I wanted to throw it away but I couldn’t because I knew somehow that there was something in that box that belonged to my sister.

When I got to my own house, after a journey of some distance, I took the box out but now I felt it contained something evil, I wanted to get away from the box but I felt some sense of loyalty, too, because in that box, possibly, were pictures of my sister.

Eventually I forced myself to open it. Inside was a collection of photographs. My sister was in all of them, but around her were people I didn’t recognize. They were on either side of her, staring straight at the camera. My legs felt numb. There was a terrible ache in my chest and my cheeks were cold.

A leaf had turned. A leaf had fallen. It was a Thursday in September, I saw from the calendar on my desk. The 23rd of September.

Flashback Monday

Kathleen Burkhalter was a member of Dear Departed Sister’s barkada at Wharton. When Kathleen passed away a few years ago, self lost more than just a friend: she lost a member of her squad. And one of the few people self stayed regularly in touch with, over the decades. With Kathleen, self never had to explain how she was feeling at a particular time of her life, she always understood.

She wrote and self-published a series of books about her life. Her daughter, Mercedes Bell, is now a singer. Here’s a link to her FB page.

And here’s a post self wrote about Kathleen, four years ago.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Micro: Hope You Enjoy!

SPINNING

by Marianne Villanueva

On a certain night, a good woman sat spinning by candlelight, her husband and her children having gone to bed long before. Suddenly, a great tiredness came upon her. She put a hand to her brow and exclaimed “Ah, me.” Just then, the cottage door burst open and a knight came in, bringing with him the dark.

(NOTE: Self used to think this story needed more. It doesn’t. Moral of the story: Anything can happen. Drumroll, Ta-ra! She’s self-publishing her micro. On Friday the 19th of March 2021. Also, it’s copyrighted. Do not re-publish without Acknowledgment)

How Self’s Novel Began

A few minutes ago, self went to her previous MacBook Air to transfer old story files (which she should have done years ago, but anyhoo).

There was this fragment called A Myriad Wildernesses. She didn’t recognize the title but, after opening the file, she realized that this was early Camarote de Marinero.

There was no clear historical period, and the only character named is Matias, the young priest. In fact, it’s a very mysterious short story, and reads almost like fable. It begins:

An old servant woman greeted Matias at the door and led him through a tiled foyer. At the far end was a heavy door, next to which were arranged three austere-looking chairs of soot-black wood. The woman did not seem to want to engage in any kind of interaction with him, so he simply followed her and then stared at the chairs while she disappeared somewhere. Matias deliberated before finally selecting the chair furthest away from the door.

This was first draft. How this grew a novel that’s (currently) 408 pages is amazing to self.

It’s told in a really simple, straightforward voice, too, which is in contrast to the subject: Matias is reporting to the Bishop his sighting of an angel (This scene completely disappeared from the novel in its present state. Maybe she can turn it into a standalone short story.)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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