Category Archives: Literary

Written pieces.

Facing Violence on the Page: A So Say We All Master Class with Brooke King

Announcing a new Foundry reading series Master Class! On February 24th, Brooke King will teach “Facing Violence on the Page” a three hour workshop and master class. Register now here:

A So Say We All Master Class with Brooke King

Writing about violence doesn’t have to be complicated, it doesn’t have to be one-sided, and you certainly don’t need to be a victim of violence in order to write about it or what it does to the human condition.

This class will look at writing about violence (and sometimes not in the traditional sense of the word), explore the world of writing through guided exercises, and learn how to get past the imaginary blockade that we’ve placed in our minds about violence. It’s time to lean in to the page in front of you, instead of leaning away.

Saturday, February 24th
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Mission Hills United Methodist Church
4044 Lark St, San Diego, CA 92103

$35 members
$40 general

scholarships available, application deadline 2/15:
General scholarship application
The Gary Armstrong Memorial Veteran Writers Scholarship application
(learn more about the Gary Armstrong Memorial scholarship here)

Brooke King is a writer and veteran based in Tampa, Florida, and author of the forthcoming memoir Full Battle Rattle. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Prairie Schooner and War, Literature, and the Arts. Her piece, “Redeployment Packing Checklist” was featured on our PBS program “Incoming.” You can listen here.

Brooke will also read at The Foundry Reading Series, that evening, Saturday 2/24  at 7:00 PM at The Rose Wine Bar in South Park, alongside Lily Hoang, Amy Wallen, Michael Konik, and more to be announced. Stay tuned for details!

Please consider becoming a sustaining member of So Say We All to support our programming. You’ll receive special discounts on classes, and more! Go to for more details.

Introducing THE WHOLE ALPHABET, a new LGBTQ+ collaboration

To kick off our new LGBTQ+ collaborative project, “The Whole Alphabet,” a partnership with Mission Hills UMC, we are celebrating, connecting, and creating together with a brand new Salon and Writing Workshop.

Salon and Writing Workshop
Saturday, January 20th
3-5 PM
Babycakes Hillcrest
3766 Fifth Ave

RSVP required (simple google form)

Our performers will present a few stories to entertain you and inspire you, and then facilitate a group discussion, some craft instruction, and some generative free writing time to prepare your own submission for an upcoming LGBTQ+ showcase. And of course, there’ll be cake.

About The Whole Alphabet
The Whole Alphabet is a queer writing and storytelling network, developed in partnership with Mission Hills United Methodist Church and So Say We All. We develop and share personal stories to connect with, inspire, entertain, and mobilize our San Diego neighbors. We believe everyone has a story worth hearing. Our values and interests include the queer experience, faith and spirituality (or lack thereof), innovation, leadership, and social justice. Our writers and storytellers determine how we do what we do. The Whole Alphabet is a countervailing force against the toxic and tired political polarization in our country.

Stay tuned for more.

If you like what we do at So Say We All, a literary nonprofit, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month. Details here.

The best stories we consumed in 2017

Each year, we ask a few of our friends, collaborators, and staff: what was the best story you read/heard/consumed in the year? We did this last year, and the year before. This year has been both troublesome for art (how can we focus on anything vaguely entertaining when the world is falling apart?) and absolutely in need of art, and absolutely in need of sharing our stories together. Story is essential in forming connections, fostering understanding, and planting empathy.

Please, if you can, support us in our winter membership drive and let’s make sure that those stories that need to be heard are told by the people who need to tell them, in 2018 and beyond. And as we slam the door on 2017, just like we slammed the door on 2016 thinking it was the worst it was gonna get, take a look at what our friends and staff came up with for things they loved: books, audiobooks, essays, articles, podcasts. We love them and we love what they love:


Leesa Cross-Smith is the author of Every Kiss A War and Whiskey & Ribbons and the founder/editor of WhiskeyPaperLeesa served as judge for our first annual SSWA Literary Prize in Fiction this year.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Why: Because of lines like “She felt like every winter would kill her, and when she reached the skyless Februarys and bleak Marches, she promised herself she would book the soonest flight back to California” because same. And because it’s such a beautiful, feels-real story and bc it’s written by a black woman and has black characters but it’s not focused on race. Because it’s a story about love and regret and mistakes and forgiveness and family, etc. Because it’s funny and sweet and sad and because I carried it around with me for days and finished reading it sitting in carpool in the rain. Because it lives up to the hype and so few things do. Because it was the first book I read in 2017 and it set the tone for an excellent reading year. Because it was good luck for me because the week after I finished it, I sold my novel. Because the cover is so gorgeous. Because it shines bright like a diamond. –Leesa Cross-Smith


Marco Cerda is a senior at High Tech High Chula Vista and served as So Say We All’s student intern this spring. 


A few months back, I went with several others to a friend’s house to watch a movie called “Fist of The North Star.” Mid-way through the movie, my friend’s dad recommended that we watch a movie called “Akira” after we were done with our current film. We took his advice, and were soon thrown into the dystopian world of Neo Tokyo, 2019. This movie stayed in my mind until recently when I picked up the original comic book. Everything from the art to the story is a masterpiece, and it does a good job at progression while keeping the atmosphere intact. —Marco Cerda


Hunter Gatewood writes fiction both short and long, and does storytelling, coaching and show producing for So Say We All.

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

2017. Gimme shelter. What a scary and exhausting year. I’m surprised that my favorite 2017 story was not happy escapist floof. It was Gabriel Tallent’s demanding debut novel My Absolute Darling. This is a brutal bildungsroman, like its sister Bastard Out of Carolina but sped up, stripped down, and dropped in the lush and wacky wilds of Mendocino County. The coming-of-ager is Turtle, a proud and strong 14-year-old social outcast, whose sexual maturity drives her uniquely damaged and disintegrating father in directions you can imagine, and in other directions you could never. I tore through it, all the while wondering if it was bad for me to be reading this. On one of these feverish days of reading, I was in the close confines of an airplane. I was reading what turned out to be the most disturbing scene in the whole thing. I felt that childish form of social paranoia: Everyone around me sees inside my head. They know what I am reading. They are repulsed. I wanted to lash out at this imagined judgment, lunatic-style like Turtle’s dad. I wanted to say, hey, this horrible psycho moment I’m reading right now is a crucial piece of the whole story. Every torment in this book reveals a specific type of strength, a specific flavor of stamina and survival. The whole story is gorgeous and meticulously crafted and takes you somewhere important. You’ve been warned. You will love it. —Hunter Gatewood


Jac Jemc is the author of The Grip of It (FSG Originals), My Only Wife (Dzanc Books), and A Different Bed Every Time (Dzanc Books). She edits nonfiction for Hobart teaches creative writing in Chicago. Jac taught a SSWA Master Class this fall, and read at The Foundry, our literary reading series.

Amelia Gray, “The Hostage.”

My favorite story of the year was Amelia Gray’s “Hostage” in The New Yorker. I want more work like this from the magazine: smart, unexpected, an impressive amount of action and character for a piece so brief. So painfully awkward and hilarious. When the teller makes suggestions of what the bank robber might write in his letter I guffawed. I guffawed! —Jac Jemc


Dave Housley’s fourth collection of short fiction, Massive Cleansing Fire, was published in 2017 by Outpost 19. His first novel, This Darkness Got to Give, is coming out in 2018 from Pandamoon Publishing. His work has appeared in Booth, Hobart, McSweeneys, Wigleaf, and some other places. He’s one of the founding editors and all-around do-stuff people at Barrelhouse. Sometimes he drinks boxed wine and tweets about the things on his television at @housleydave. (Barrelhouse is a nonprofit literary organization on the east coast, and a friend and inspiration of many of us at So Say We All).

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraquib

This was a hard year for reading and writing, and I wound up sinking into a lot of comfort reading that didn’t really engage with what was happening in the world around us. But when I think about the best thing I read this year it’s something that spoke very directly to the real world, as well as the world of pop music, and that’s the essay collection They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, by Hanif Abdurraquib (from Two Dollar Radio). These essays do what I think the best nonfiction does, and that’s start with the specific and then work into the personal before expanding out yet again toward other larger issues, including what fellow music writer Jessica Hopper eloquently describes on the back cover as “the true nature of life and death in America, in this moment.” I love many things about these essays – Hanif’s wise and funny and self-deprecating voice, the range of his musical interest (he covers Marvin Gaye, Carly Rae Jepsen, Springsteeen, Chance the Rapper, Notorious BIG, Fallout Boy, the Wonder Years, it goes on and on and his next topic is never predictable), the way these essays range into Actual Important Issues without feeling strained. He can start at a Springsteen show and wind up at a meditation on race and opportunity and Michael Brown (the title comes from a banner hanging over a Brown memorial) and it all seems so effortless and right. It’s the thing the best music writing does and this book is a timely reminder about how lucky we are that, right now, Hanif Abdurraqib is the best music writer we’ve got. —Dave Housley


Indira Hood-Esparza is an 11th grade humanities teacher at High Tech High Chula Vista and worked with SSWA on our semester-long collaboration, “The Power Within.”

“What is Normal?” by Thalia X. Peralta,11th grader at High Tech High Chula Vista (google doc shared with permission).

I picked this piece because right now more than ever we need to remember to have compassion and empathy for one another. I loved that Thalia was so honest about her brother and how others perceive him. It’s beautifully written with amazing usage of imagery. I hope others read it and feel the amount of empathy and love that Thalia has for her brother. —Indira Hood-Esparza


Matt Young is a writer, teacher, and veteran. He holds an MA from Miami University and is the recipient of fellowships with Words After War and the Carey Institute for Global Good. He lives in Olympia, Washington where he teaches writing at Centralia College and is the author of Eat the Apple out February 27 th 2018 from Bloomsbury. Matt taught a SSWA Master Class this year, and read at The Foundry, our literary reading series.

The National, Sleep Well Beast

My dudes. This year has been difficult to say the least—tough conversations with family and friends, constant vigilance of and calls to representatives, becoming parts of new discourse communities. All the while doing our jobs and caring for families and trying to create. Shit cray. One thing that got me through 2017 was The National’s Sleep Well Beast. I usually reserve The National and their Midwest ennui for moments of nostalgia pining after the barren cornfields and quiet snow of the fly-over state winters of my youth, but Sleep Well Beast is different than past albums. The sadness is less plotted, more manic—more raw. It’s less my home region’s musical voice and more a jumping needle of this past year’s emotional Richter Scale. The album helped get me beyond a block and got me writing again when it dropped in September, and for that I’m grateful. —Matt Young


Seth Combs is a VAMP contributor, and editor of San Diego CityBeat. He has covered the San Diego arts and music scene for over a decade. He’s also written for Spin, Zagat, and The Hollywood Reporter. He likes dogs and comic books, but is pretty iffy on your band. 

What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

It had been a while since I had read a short story collection, but after hearing LeVar Burton read Lesley Nneka Arimah’s “What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky,” I knew I had to read the rest of her stories. Her debut collection has been marketed toward fans of speculative and dystopian fiction and that’s fine. Fans of those genres will find plenty to like within the loosely connected stories, most of which take place in Nigeria and the U.S. in the not-so-distant future. However, Arimah’s writing is strong enough to where it isn’t difficult to suspend disbelief. These aren’t stories about fantastical events, but rather, scenarios that could be playing out right now and told from the perspective of those most affected. The worlds of What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky aren’t otherworldly. They’re our world reflected back to us as a warning. —Seth Combs


Justin Hudnall serves as the founder and Executive Director of So Say We All, a San Diego-based literary arts and education non-profit organization. He produces and hosts the public radio series Incoming on KPBS / PRX featuring the true stories of America’s veterans, and edits the anthology series of the same name. He is excited to debut two new radio series he’ll be producing for SSWA in 2018.

Best podcast: The Polybius Conspiracy

For anyone who 1) took the “I Want to Believe” sentiment popularized by The X-Files to heart, and 2) who also loved Serial and S-Town and (the 1st season of) Stranger Things, and 3) who feels that our current times have shattered the framework of normalcy rendering all things possible and the paranoid rational, then this series is for you. Just be sure to listen to the whole series through before you Google anything about it, give yourself the gift of letting it sit with you without external comment. It’s an exciting new twist on the medium that I hope sparks new innovation. —Justin Hudnall


Julia Dixon Evans is author of the forthcoming novel How To Set Yourself On Fire (Dzanc Books, May 2018). Her work can be found in Pithead Chapel, Paper Darts, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. She is program director for So Say We All.

Not to be a total tease, since it’s not going to be available until February, but the best thing I read this year was Black Candies: The Eighties, which I am co-editing with SSWA’s Ryan Bradford, founding editor of the series. The book, scheduled for publication by SSWA Press in February 2018, is a collection of literary horror and dark fiction, and is gorgeous, unsettling, and nostalgic as hell. The stories, we noticed, as we pored over submissions and dug in during the editorial process, often seemed to center around a glitch. In the 80s days of analog-yore these glitches weren’t terrifying in the same ways as, say, modern hacker/twitter bot/self-driving car glitches, but my god these writers (including Meghan Phillips, Henry Hoke, Aaron Burch, Lindsay Hunter, Tiffany Scandal, and many, many more amazing voices, both established and brand new) wrote such pure, vivid terror in these malfunctions, the way things fall apart, and the way machines can haunt and be haunted. Featuring 23 stories (including an essay!) plus artwork. Buckle up. —Julia Dixon Evans

Thanks for reading our lists of favorites, and we hope we’ve given you some things for your “to do” lists. And we hope you’ll share yours with us too.

We can’t wait for the stories that 2018 will bring.

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month. Details:

Attention Educators and students! Upcoming student storytelling showcases!

Are you currently teaching storytelling, personal narrative, or first person non-fiction to your students? Or are you interested in developing a writing and storytelling unit? Do you have a project that might benefit from a storytelling element? Here are a few upcoming opportunities from our current education projects to see some excellent model texts and performances in action. Bring your students, or your colleagues! These shows are all ages, FREE, and open to all. (Special note: as these are high school and college students, there may be adult language and potentially triggering situations)

In chronological order!

Southwestern College VAMP: Are You Gonna Eat That

Thursday, November 16th at 7 PM
Field House Auditorium at Southwestern College
900 Otay Lakes Rd, Chula Vista, CA 91910
(part in Lot J student spaces)

Southwestern students drafted narratives on the theme of “Are You Gonna Eat That?” and just seven were selected to undergo an intensive editorial, critique, and coaching process. Food is an incredible storytelling prompt, and we love the many directions these students took the theme. Come hear their incredible stories!

More details

City College VAMP: Holler if Ya Hear Me

Wednesday, November 29 at 7 PM
Saville Theatre at City College
14th St & C St., San Diego, CA 92101

Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth? Have you ever struggled to be understood? We all want to be heard. But to be really understood–to have someone feel where you’re coming from–is powerful. Come hear our latest showcase of powerful student stories from City College!

More details.

The Power Within Storytelling Project

Nov-Dec, Project Reo Collective
2335 Reo Dr No. 6, San Diego, CA 92139

Thursday Nov. 30
Friday Dec. 1
Tuesday Dec. 5
Wednesday Dec. 6
Thursday Dec. 7

Five nights of fantastic storytelling from two classes of brilliant and inspiring high school juniors. These classes have incorporated biology into their examination of their own narratives, working hard all semester with our teaching artists, model texts from previous students, and with their peers. Join us for our third year working on this project with High Tech High Chula Vista.

More details TBD.

If you’d like to talk to us about opportunities with So Say We All teaching artists in your schools or institutions, please contact us.

To help So Say We All develop and sustain future education projects and more, please consider becoming a supporting member for as little as $5 per month.

Amelia Gray reads at The Foundry on 9/9

The Foundry is our literary reading and education series, bringing a host of new voices, both emerging and well acclaimed, to our fair city. Our upcoming Foundry reading, on Saturday September 9th, features Skyler McCurine, Nicholas Bredie, Jac Jemc, and today’s spotlight, Amelia Gray.

The first real literary reading I remember attending was the esteemed Vermin on the Mount, four or five years ago. Amelia Gray read, and I’d never heard of her before. To people in the literary world that’s sort of ridiculous. And to anyone who has experienced Amelia at a reading, she is a force of nature. Inspired and a little awestruck, I bucked up some new writer courage and approached her afterwards, telling her she did great. I asked her if she had any work I could find online, and she (with her three-going-on-four books at the time) smiled, so nicely, and said, “Sure, yes I do.”

Amelia’s writing is always transformative: her characters, their worlds, and their objects often turn your understanding on end. And Isadora, Amelia Gray’s brand new novel (just out this summer from FSG), while unlike anything I’ve read from her before, maintains this, gorgeously so. Isadora delves into the life of the American dancer Isadora Duncan. It’s tragic, and weird, and darkly funny. She unsettles her readers, charms and endears them, makes them laugh, and then sort of pulls the rug out a little bit.

From an NPR review of Isadora:

Gray is a gutsy, utterly original writer, and this is the finest work she’s done so far. Isadora is a masterful portrait of one of America’s greatest artists, and it’s also a beautiful reflection on what it means to be suffocated by grief, but not quite willing to give up: “In order to understand the greatest joys of life, you must do more than open yourself to its greatest sorrows. You must invite it to join you in your home and beguile it to stay.”

Read the rest of the review at NPR.

If you don’t have a copy of Isadora yet, you can read a brand new Amelia Gray short flash fiction story, “The Hostage,” published this summer at The New Yorker.

“You’re not putting a dye pack in there, are you?” he asked.

The woman turned to look at him, and he was surprised to see that his question seemed to have wounded her. “I would never,” she said. “What would make you say that?”

“I’m sorry.” He tried to think about what would make him say it; he had seen a dye pack in a movie once and knew that it could explode and make a terrible mess. There was a lot that he didn’t know about robbing banks, and every moment was another opportunity to reveal his ignorance.

Read the rest at The New Yorker.

AMELIA GRAY is the author of five books, most recently Isadora (FSG). Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Tin House, and VICE. She is winner of the NYPL Young Lion, of FC2’s Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She lives in Los Angeles.

We can’t wait for you to meet Amelia Gray and hear her read at The Foundry, this Saturday September 9th at The Rose in South Park (2219 30th Street). Amelia reads alongside Jac Jemc, Nicholas Bredie, and Skyler McCurine.

Doors at 7:00 PM
Readings start at 7:30 PM!

And join us for The Foundry’s associated master class, “Fooling Ourselves (Into Writing),” taught by Jac Jemc that afternoon from 2-4 PM. There are just a few spots left!

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month. Details here.

Julia Dixon Evans

The SSWA Gary Armstrong Memorial Veteran Writers Scholarship

Announcing the So Say We All Gary Armstrong Memorial Veteran Writers Scholarship, which will be offered to a veteran for each of our master classes, including this weekend’s “Fooling Ourselves (Into Writing)” with Jac Jemc. Apply now: the extended deadline is Thursday 9/7 at noon. (The application is a simple Google Doc).

This scholarship was made possible by the thoughtful generosity of Gary’s friends and loved ones, and by the legacy Gary left with those who knew him: to write, to share, and to look out for one another. Here is a note from Gary’s niece:

My uncle, Gary Armstrong, would have been so very pleased to know that this gift will give other veterans an opportunity to speak their truth.  His involvement in a writing group was a godsend.  His writing gave him a vehicle to express joy, to honor the loves of his life, (especially my aunt, Anita and their cat/son Freedom), to show fondness, appreciation and gratitude to his friends, and to share things that made him laugh or made him curious.  It also provided him a place to air frustrations, vent righteous anger and work through difficulties.  He called himself ‘The Bard of the Bus Stop’, because you could find him living, learning and experiencing much that he wrote of from that very vantage point.  His writing is unconventional, like the man himself.

In his lifetime, he never had much money and he suffered many losses.  An over-fondness for alcohol limited his options and landed him on the street more than once and for long stretches at a time.  Through it all, he retained a deep humanity, a sense of fairness, of hope, and a love of life.  He knew he was a man blessed. No matter his circumstances he could always find a synchronicity to prove it to you, he could always work the experiences of his life into rhyme, or near rhyme and that sense of wonder was never far from his consciousness.

Though he did not write these words, he spoke them often and lived by them, I think he’d approve of me sharing.
“Love life, be gentle and take care of one another.” ~ (unknown)
and always remember to, “Keep the faith, baby!” ~ (Adam Powell)

Kelly Patterson, August ’17

Gary Armstrong

Spread the word about this Thursday’s scholarship deadline for this Saturday’s class, but also keep an eye out for future scholarship offerings.

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a sustaining member here.

Skyler McCurine reads at The Foundry on 9/9

The Foundry is our literary reading and education series, bringing a host of new voices, both emerging and well acclaimed, to our fair city. Our upcoming reading, on Saturday September 9th, features Amelia Gray, Jac Jemc, Emma Smith-Stevens, Nicholas Bredie, and today’s spotlight, Skyler McCurine.

Skyler’s essay, “Black. Woman.,” which debuted on our VAMP stage in 2016, is featured in the brand new issue of The Radvocate Fifteen, our literary journal. Skyler’s writing richly touches on selflessness and the ways we struggle to understand our ourselves, our families, and the (sometimes awful) people around us.

Every time we went to the Beauty Supply store, to re-up on my natural hair care products, I whined over the Just For Me Box, a relaxer designed for young girls. I thought, “if only I too could have a side pony tail, Surely Zack Morris would fall in love with me then.” My mother fought me daily, a battle of which I am grateful for. She fought to keep me black, she made me grapple with myself until I saw my features for what they are, beautiful. I learned to not shy away from environments in which I was different and come my sophomore year of high school, she found another opportunity for me to harness my TOKEN power. She became drawn to the whitest sport in the world, threading our love of water within it: rowing.

from The Radvocate Fifteen.

Skyler is one of our hardest working and inspirational coaches and producers for VAMP and our education outreach projects. We can’t wait to feature her work on a new stage, and can’t wait for you to meet her at The Rose on Saturday the 9th! Skyler will read alongside Amelia Gray, Jac Jemc, Emma Smith-Stevens, and Nicholas Bredie. The Rose is located at 2219 30th Street in South Park. Doors: 7, Show: 7:30. 21+. 

 Skyler McCurine is redefining the look of leadership as a personal stylist, public speaker, wonder woman and founder of Le Red Balloon.  Driven by the lackluster stereotypical portrayal of women in the media, she leads workshops for teenage girls and professional women around conscious media consumption, leadership, self­ acceptance, personal branding, and of course, style. Skyler’s passion for fostering leadership, audacity, selflessness, gratitude and courage in young women led her to invitation to TEDx, SD Business Journal “Emerging Generation Award” and her recent invitation to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit as Swiss Luxury watch brand’ Baume & Mercier’s guest of distinction.  She was a finalist for the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the social entrepreneurship category. She is a native San Diegan and received her BA in Communication Studies from Loyola Marymount University and MA in Organizational Management from Ashford University.  Her fervent belief in inclusion, red balloons, and champagne are her personal North Stars.

Skyler as Saint Sugar Hill by Alanna Airitam

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month.

Jac Jemc reads (and teaches!) in San Diego on 9/9

The Foundry is our literary reading and education series, bringing a host of new voices, both emerging and well acclaimed, to our fair city. Our upcoming reading, on Saturday September 9th, features Amelia Gray, Skyler McCurine, Emma Smith-Stevens, Nicholas Bredie, and today’s spotlight, Jac Jemc.

Jac, in addition to reading, will also teach a master class for us while she is in town. To register for “Fooling Ourselves (Into Writing),” 9/9 from 2-4 PM, click here. Don’t miss it.

So Say We All was lucky enough to publish Jac Jemc in Black Candies: See Through in 2013, So Say We All’s journal of literary horror. You can read her story, “Angles,” here, which is actually an excerpt of her newest novel, The Grip of ItHer writing is gorgeous and terrifying, gets under your skin quickly, and stays there.

Maybe I find a body and it’s hard as diamonds or maybe I find the body and it’s just a pile of soft bones and teeth or maybe it’s a body whose nails have screamed themselves free of absent fingers. What will a rat eat first?

Or maybe there’s no body and I just dream that there’s an answer to the low moaning we hear, and the stains that grow and shrink on our walls and bodies, and the secrets we uncover behind secrets.

Read more of “Angles,” an excerpt from The Grip of It, here.

Her book was just released to an impressive critical response earlier this August. You can read this fantastic review of The Grip of It at Electric Literature:

Jemc is telling us the story of the putrefaction of a relationship. This relationship is not clean-cut and bookended by dramatic flares — it festers, untended, a thriving hotbed for the things that break us down, cell by cell. It doesn’t choke, but lines the airway slowly, turning a once-healthy breath into the ragged pull from a plastic straw. “Bad behavior heralds ruin,” says Julie, when she is utterly convinced that the haunting must be her fault: she is unwilling to accept that malevolence exists for its own sake, but convinced it must be part of a puritanical order of punishment.

Read the full review here.

One of the things we love about Jac is how supportive she is in the literary world. Jac publishes a fascinating list of her literary rejections, which you can read (and obsess over) here.  Lifting the veil on the dark side of publishing makes us all feel a little less alone.

Here she is in conversation with Amber Sparks for The Fanzine.

I don’t usually know my characters before I write a book. I do the old “put-them-in-situations-and-see-how-they-react” test of their mettle. I might even venture to say I know them even less at the end of the book because of what you mention about how I’m sort of always living in that gap of what we think we know about another person but don’t. But that’s probably what makes a character seem more real and human, right? To have them do surprising, unexpected things that surprise both the other characters and the reader.

Read the full conversation here.

We hope you’ll come meet Jac, and take her class, when she’s in town! Jac Jemc reads alongside Amelia Gray, Emma Smith-Stevens, Nicholas Bredie, and Skyler McCurine at The Foundry Reading Series on Saturday, September 9th at 7 PM at The Rose in South Park.

Jac Jemc is the author of The Grip of It (FSG Originals). Her first novel, My Only Wife (Dzanc Books) was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award, and her collection of stories, A Different Bed Every Time (Dzanc Books) was named one of Amazon’s best story collections of 2014. She edits nonfiction for Hobart.

If you like what we do at So Say We All, a literary nonprofit and small press dedicated to helping people tell their stories, please consider becoming a sustaining member.

Nicholas Bredie reads at The Foundry on 9/9!

The Foundry is our literary reading series, featuring writers near and far, both established and emerging, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, anything. Our next reading is Saturday, September 9th at The Rose in South Park. Join us for readings by Amelia Gray, Jac Jemc, Emma Smith-Stevens, Skyler McCurine, and today’s feature, Nicholas Bredie.

Nicholas Bredie is the author of the novel Not Constantinople, from Dzanc Books, Summer 2017. With Joanna Howard, he is the translator of Frédéric Boyer’s novella Cows, published by Noemi Press. His writing has appeared in The Believer, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Fairy Tale Review, LitHub, Puerto del Sol, Electric Literature and elsewhere. After living and working in Istanbul, Turkey, he is now in Los Angeles with his wife, Nora Lange.

You can read this excerpt from his novel, Not Constantinople, up at Literary Hub.

Not Constantinople is a rich, witty book that is equally as character-driven as it is place-driven as it is plot-driven.

Virginia’s hand found the neck of the Jack Daniel’s protruding from one of the sacks. Wielding the square bottle like a mace, she demanded that the strangers remove themselves. She was like the one animatron in a wax museum, sloshing the liquor in small but sincere strokes while everyone else froze.

“Isn’t that, like, an eighty-dollar bottle?” the man said, unperturbed. “Are you sure you want to waste it on me?”

Read the rest of the excerpt here.

Here is a delightful Electric Literature interview with Nick by Maureen Moore, a friend who had briefly lived with Nick and his wife, Nora, while they lived in Turkey. The idea of an “ex-pat novel” is rife with preconceived ideas and expectations, and perhaps even derision from a reader, and Nick manages to throw these expectations out of the window. While reading Not Constantinople, this excerpt often came to mind:

MM: Something that contributed to that unsettling feeling was seeing everything about the city written in its American English equivalent. I think I found that to be rare, finding these foreign names of places and things in English. Even one of Turkey’s most famous writers is referred to as Mr. Cotton. I’d love to hear it a little bit about this choice.

NB: I think it is connected to the idea of undermining or disenchanting. Having the names in plain English takes some of the exoticism out of them. There are some linguistic jokes in there too. For example Mr. Cotton’s neighborhood, Orhan Pamuk’s neighborhood, is Nişantaşı. He takes some care explaining the origin of that name in Istanbul, his memoir. It translates as “target stone,” because that was where the Ottomans set up their targets to practice archery and shooting. But Nişantaşı is also the Turkish word for “starch,” and it’s a kind of tony neighborhood, so I translated it as ‘The Starch.’

MM: For the reader, I also felt it further marked Fred and Virginia’s foreignness, as if they didn’t want to call those places by their Turkish names. It further separated them from the expected experience of the place.

NB: When we moved abroad, my uncle who was a foreign correspondent for a number of years said that the most important thing you can do is abandon analogy. To not try and compare, and make your experience fit some preconceived notions. How the characters behave and how they diverge ultimately in the book has to do with how they deal with their expectations of life abroad. In real life it is a situation of extremes: there is no family and no old friends and little language and a host of received notions about the place.

Read the full interview here.

We hope you’ll come join Nick at The Rose wine bar in South Park on Saturday, September 9th for The Foundry reading series. Nick will read alongside Jac Jemc, Amelia Gray, Skyler McCurine, and Emma Smith-Stevens. Stay tuned to learn more about the other readers as we approach the show!

We will also host a master class that afternoon, taught by Jac Jemc, called “Fooling Ourselves (Into Writing).” Work with a fantastic writer for a super bargain price! Scholarships available! For details, or to register, visit here. Spend the entire afternoon with your Foundry readers!

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month. Details here.

The Radvocate #15 is here!

It’s here. The Radvocate #15.

purchase it on Amazon right here!

The newest issue of our literary magazine, featuring art, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, is here, and, on a bittersweet: it’s the last issue with founding editor Matt E. Lewis at the helm. Here’s what Matt has to say about this issue and his move:

This latest issue is filled with the kind of expression we believe in, a bold vision in a field where it is so difficult to stand out from the crowd. As the founder, I can think of no better time to step away from The Radvocate and pass on the duties to the phenomenal editor, writer, and person, Julia Dixon Evans. Far from being disinterested or tired of creating The Radvocate, I rather feel it is the most responsible option to allow a thing to grow when it is strong enough to stand on its own. …To have a project survive beyond my involvement is something I am extremely proud of.


What you hold in your hands now is a result of the support of you, the reader, and people like you who believe in things that shouldn’t work, but do. I dedicate this issue to you, and all those that would fly in the face of convention, one goofy Xerox at a time. Stay rad.

The Radvocate Issue Fifteen features poetry, short fiction, and essay from Marisa Crane, Amanda Tumminaro, Philip Kuan, CL Bledsoe, Nicole Martinez, Kevin McCoy, Cat Dixon, Brett Morris, Kathleen Langstroth*, Toni Martin*, David Henson* (winner of the 2017 So Say We All Literary Prize in Fiction), Linda M. Crate, Donna Zephrine, Elaine Gingery, Steve Tague, Nolan Hutton, Gerardo de Jesus Gurrola Jr.*, Pat Douglas McNeill II, Craig Evenson, Pouya Razavi*, Lucy Palmer, Yvonne Higgins Leach, Alex Bosworth, Jed Wyman, and Skyler McCurine.

(* indicates a finalist for the 2017 So Say We All Literary Prize in Fiction)

The issue features art by Laura Gwynne, a very rad cover by Matthew Revert, design by Keith McCleary, and the editorial guidance of Matt E. Lewis, Julia Dixon Evans, Marco Cerda, Anthony Martin, Ryan Bradford, and Leesa Cross-Smith (judge of the 2017 So Say We All Literary Prize in Fiction).

You can buy your copy right here or find us at our tent at the San Diego Festival of Books in Liberty Station on Saturday, August 26th (10-6) or at VAMP: Happy Meals on August 31st at Whistle Stop Bar (8:30 PM). Stay tuned for an official release party!

If you like what we do at So Say We All, a literary nonprofit and small press, please consider becoming a sustaining member. Details here: