Category Archives: Artists

So Say We All’s featured artists.

Power/Full: Meet our performers!

Power/Full: A VAMP Showcase kicks off tonight at 7 PM at The Industry, 871 Harold Place Bldg. 1, Chula Vista, CA 91914.

We’ve met the adult storytellers already: Lizz Huerta, Francisco Martinezcuello, Josh Cole, and Skyler McCurine. Now it’s time to get to know the three high school seniors, selected from our collaboration with High Tech High Chula Vista last year.


artwork from left: Kyleen Ojeda, Trenece Fearon, Julio Lopez

In the project, the students examined their power from both a biological and literary perspective. They wrote personal narratives on the theme of power, and created stunning artwork about the scientific roots of power.

Meet our high school students featured in tonight’s show!

Trenece Fearon
Trenece is a 17 year old social justice activist who has recently discovered her voice in her community. She is an advocate for the Black Lives Matter Movement, Feminism, and LGBTQ rights. She has a puppy named Nala whom she loves more than anything. Her favorite activities include (but are not limited to), rollerskating, cleaning her glasses (it’s just really satisfying), watching bad horror movies, and eating sugar cookies (not the regular ones, the ones with frosting on them and little sprinkles, yeah those are the best). She is currently on season three of Game of thrones and never wears matching socks.

From her inspiring story, “Boy Cousins”:

The problem with my “tomboy phase” isn’t that I did it to be accepted, it’s that I started associating “Girly things” and “Girly behavior” with weakness.

Kyleen Ojeda
Kyleen became the person her parents wanted her to be because as long as they are happy shouldn’t she be too? It took her a while to realize that her happiness comes before anyone else’s. In her artwork, she replaced the girl’s head with the brain because that is where our personality comes from. That is where we store our memories and thoughts about ourselves. The female figure is only wearing undergarments to represent how vulnerable she felt during a challenging time in her life. Her power comes from her realizing who she is and becoming independent.

And a tiny tease from her heart-wrenching story:

I thought my parents would be the ones to teach me how to tie my shoes.

Julio Lopez
Julio is a senior at High Tech High Chula Vista, and this project has given him one of the most honest and emotionally truthful experiences of his life.

The calm before the storm in his harrowing story, “Futbolito”:

I still clearly remember getting ready for the party. Putting on my Spain jersey my uncle had bought me right after the World Cup, running down the old wooden stairs to go play soccer in the backyard. And the sound of my grandma’s loud and desperate voice yelling at my brother and I from upstairs to stop playing due to the countless flower pots and windows we had completely shattered with our ball over the years.

We hope you’ll join us for tonight’s showcase. See you at The Industry at 7:00 PM. All ages!

Incoming and VAMP Contributor Tenley Lozano in O-Dark-Thirty

We are so proud to see Incoming and VAMP contributor Tenley Lozano‘s non-fiction work featured in the women-only issue of O-Dark-Thirty, O-Dark-Thirty is a publication of the Washington, D.C.-based Veteran’s Writing Project.


[O-Dark-Thirty cover image by Magdalena Green]

From Tenley’s story:

I am not an average-sized man, but rather a short woman. The sail is luffing at my eye line, bulging out and snapping in the wind. BM1 barks orders to his crew of willing participants. The rain falls on my hands and is so cold that it stings. The metal handrail I’m grasping tightly chills my fingers and as I reach for a handful of sail, I realize that my fingers are already stiffening up. I flex them again and again, trying to restore blood flow. I can barely reach the sail and I realize that I’ll be useless while standing on the foot line. I check the clip on my harness, yanking it against the handrail and hearing the clink of metal against metal, the clip holding.

Taking a deep breath to steady my nerves, I pull with my arms on the handrail and reach for the sail on the forward side of 43 the beam, launching my body upward to lay my midsection over the cold painted metal as my feet lift off of the line and dangle one hundred feet over the deck of the ship. Christie turns to me with a look of horror, her dark curly hair flattened against her face on one side by the wind and rain. She is much taller, her long cross-country runner’s legs placed firmly where they’re supposed to be on the black rope.

Check out the full story, and the entire issue here.  Rock on, Tenley! We love her work and we fully expect to see stories from every slice of the Pacific Crest Trail as she hikes it with her VAMP-famous pup, Elu.

Tenley Lozano

After graduating from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 2008, Tenley Lozano spent five years as an officer in the US Coast Guard. During her tenure, she worked in the engineering department on a ship that patrolled the Pacific Ocean from Vancouver to the equator. She then attended Navy Dive School and spent two years as a diver. She is currently working on an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Sierra Nevada College, has a day job as a ship design engineer, and spends weekends backpacking with her dog. She lives in Oceanside, California.

[photo credit: Matthew Baldwin]

Amy Wallen


Amy Wallen, author of the novel MoonPies and Movie Stars, is Associate Director at New York State Summer Writers’ Institute. She also facilitates a manuscript workshop in San Diego with David Ulin and teaches novel writing at UCSD Extension. Her essays have been published in The Gettysburg Review, The Normal School, Country Living, The Writers’ Chronicle and other national magazines.

Gary Gould’s VAMP: Wedding Season Story, SPLIT

To say that volunteer Gary Gould has been our lifeline lately would be an understatement. Not only has he produced several VAMPs this year, but he is also currently producing the partnership showcase with San Diego City College, taking place October 15th at the downtown library, and co-producing this month’s VAMP: 4 AM. We love the way he empowers the storytellers he works with to get to heart of their stories.

And, AND! He wrote and performed this lovely, funny, and poignant story, “Split” in our June VAMP Showcase: “Wedding Season.” Gary’s story was recently picked up and published by SPEED. You can read it here. Were you at the Wedding Season show? It was a phenomenal night, full of vivid stories and we kind of went through the emotional ringer together, didn’t we?

Banana Splits, it read, a support group and ice-cream social for students with divorced parents. That’s me, I thought, that paper is talking about me. Were there other kids who felt like me?  Who wanted to talk about their feelings and eat ice cream? Could Banana Splits be the answer to all of my problems?

Read his story, and then come and see the fruits of the work Gary has been doing with the writing community in San Diego this month. Congratulations on the publishing credit, Gary, and way to make us proud.


(image: Speed Literary Magazine)

Jen Stiff’s VAMP Story “Your Wife Has A Beautiful Pelvic Region” in XOJANE

We laughed, we cringed, and some of us had to step outside to get some fresh air, but we LOVED Jen Stiff’s story from August’s VAMP: Red Flags. And we are not alone: Her piece was picked up by XOJANE and, lucky you, you can read it here.

We are proud. So proud. Way to go, Jen!

When the nurse practitioner peered into my cervix with her spelunking headlamp, she exclaimed, “Oh my goodness. That’s the tiniest little cervix I’ve ever seen. But don’t worry. I’ll get that sucker up there.”


Jennifer Stiff, letting us all up in her business, at our August VAMP

Black Candies Founder + Editor Ryan Bradford Is A Total Winner

Ryan Bradford is the founder and editor of So Say We All’s journal of literary horror, Black Candies, as well as our volunteer Creative Director. He is usually the one doing all the bragging about everyone else’s writing, so it’s nice to be able to turn the tables on him.

Because: Ryan’s story, “Animal Control,” just won the prestigious short fiction contest at Paper Darts, a fantastic art and lit mag. Yeah Ryan! It’s an incredible story, by an incredible writer, in an incredible literary magazine. We’re so proud, and, as always, quite disturbed. Happily disturbed. Way to get under our skin.

From “Animal Control“:

The next time I see Jean she’s on all fours, crawling over my grass and sniffing the ground. The movement forces definition into her leg muscles, which, I realize, are spectacular. I watch from my porch, draped in a robe and sipping coffee. She turns to me and, without standing, says, “You gotta think like them.” She also says, “There was a killing spree last night.” And finally, “Rough night?” I must look extra pathetic because she offers to show me the victims as consolation.

bradford - animal control

original accompanying illustration for Animal Control on Paper Darts by John Willinski

If you like Ryan’s writing, you might want to check out the stories he’s curated over the years in any edition of Black Candies. Black Candies: Surveillance is available for purchase here. Each Black Candies contributor he’s worked with knows that he uses that highly-tuned gory-creative touch as an editor, too. Way to represent So Say We All, Ryan.

Read more: Black Candies Editor Ryan Bradford on Why Horror Matters