Tag Archives: So Say We All

SSWA Collaborates with New Village Arts: An Illiad

So Say We All is honored to have been invited to collaborate with our friends at New Village Arts on their newest offering, “An Illiad”, which spins the familiar tale of gods and goddesses, undying love and endless battles told through the eyes of a single narrator, whose enigmatic experience of the war reverberates with today’s headlines. A solo actor creates a tour de force performance of this sweeping account of humanity’s unshakeable attraction to violence, destruction and chaos.

This coming Sunday’s show features an encore performance by So Say We All’s Veteran Writer’s Program, and if you buy tickets using the promo code SSWA at checkout, a portion of your ticket cost will go towards supporting our program.

Open call for submissions: Collaboration with the Hausmann Quartet

So Say We All is honored to be collaborating with The Hausmann Quartet to produce a showcase of original stories and classical music at the The White Chapel at Liberty Station on Sunday, March 26th in the early afternoon. The Hausmann Quartet runs a concert series (Haydn Voyages) in which they explore all of the string quartets of Joseph Haydn, presented alongside works of many of his contemporaries, early influences, musical ancestors, as well as some of the most exciting composers writing today.

Haydn wrote an epic work for string quartet for a Good Friday/Easter commission, “The 7 Last Words of Christ”, made up of seven movements, one for each of the last words, and ends with a musical depiction of the earthquake as its finale. It is a beautiful work that is often performed with narration.

Towards that end, So Say We All is accepting submissions of original prose and poetry that respond, interpret, evoke, or otherwise touch on one or more of the 7 passages, to be performed as an introduction to each section of music. Each submission should be 500 words in-length or less. Multiple submissions are welcome, but please submit each separately. Deadline for submission is Midnight, Friday March 3rd. Please indicate in your submission bio which passage you are responding to.

Any interpretation or direction your inspiration takes you is welcome, secular or otherwise, personal narrative or reflection on the times we live in; surprise us and sparkle.

The 7 Last Words that Haydn composed to are:

  • 1.1 1. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
  • 1.2 2. Today you will be with me in paradise.
  • 1.3 3. Behold your son: behold your mother.
  • 1.4 4. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
  • 1.5 5. I thirst.
  • 1.6 6. It is finished.
  • 1.7 7. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

We look forward to reading your works!

– So Say We All

The SSWA Literary Prize in Fiction judged by Leesa Cross-Smith

Announcing the brand new, first ever So Say We All Literary Prize in Fiction! One first place winner will receive a $250 prize and publication online and in print. We are excited to explore this realm. And! We are extra excited (and feeling a bit fannish) because our inaugural contest will be judged by the amazing Leesa Cross-Smith.

Leesa Cross-Smith is the author of Every Kiss a War and the editor of WhiskeyPaper. Her work has appeared in Best Small Fictions. She loves baseball and musicals. Find more @ LeesaCrossSmith.com and WhiskeyPaper.com.

Contest Guidelines:

  • We are looking for fiction short stories
  • Surprise us. We want your beautiful, your weird, your uncouth, your unexpected, your experiments, your sadness, your joy, your fear. Story is our currency here: give us characters we can’t forget doing things we can’t forget.
  • Length: under 3,000 words please.
  • Please make sure your submission does not have your name or any identifying information in the attachment
  • One story per $10 entry fee. Multiple submissions are fine, as long as each is its own entry with its own $10 entry fee.
  • Simultaneous submissions are also just fine. However, if your work gets picked up elsewhere, please withdraw immediately. Entry fees are, regretfully, not refundable.

Contest Details:

  • Submission window: 1/15/17 – 4/30/17
  • Deadline: April 30th, 2017 at 11:59 PM pacific time
  • $10 entry fee
  • $250 prize for one first place winner
  • Blind submission process! No names in your files!
  • The winner’s story will be illustrated, published in The Radvocate Issue Fifteen, and published online on our website.
  • The top five finalists will also be published in The Radvocate Issue Fifteen.
  • All contest entries will be considered for publication in The Radvocate Issue Fifteen.
  • We love you and cannot wait to read your work and share it with Leesa.


Here’s a little bit more about our judge:

Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and writer from Kentucky. She is the author of Every Kiss a War (Mojave River Press, 2014). Every Kiss a War was a finalist for both the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction (2012) and the Iowa Short Fiction Award (2012). Her short story “Whiskey & Ribbons” won Editor’s Choice in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest (2011) and was listed as a notable story for storySouth‘s Million Writers Award. She is a consulting editor for Best Small Fictions 2017. Her work has appeared in Best Small Fictions 2015, SmokeLong QuarterlyLittle FictionWigleaf Top 50Longform FictionCarve Magazine, Hobart, NANO FictionMonkeybicyclePithead ChapelGigantic SequinsFolioAmerican Short Fiction (online)Midwestern GothicJukedWord Riot, Sundog LitThe Rumpus, and many others. She and her husband Loran run a literary magazine called WhiskeyPaper.

Send Leesa your brightest stars. You got this.

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

Veteran’s Day story: “The Mountain” by Andrew Szala

15045778_10210223317995021_1552594302_nIn honor of Veteran’s Day, So Say We All would like to present you with a story we had the privledge of publishing in Incoming: Veteran Writers on Returning Home, “The Mountain,” by Andrew Szala.

Andrew Szala witnessed the horrors of the war in Afghanistan while serving as a U.S. Army Combat Medic, upon returning home, he witnessed its lasting effects. Currently, he lives with his wife, son and bulldog outside Providence, R.I. where he is working on his latest stage play, The Pressure Cooker.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we did, that you take some time during the holiday to reflect on those few who have served for us all, and if you’d like to read more, pickup a copy of Incoming to read all the veteran voices we’ve had the privilege of publishing.

THE MOUNTAIN – by Andrew Szala

The mountain is tall. Late summer leaves. Initially, he pulls his car up. He does not notice anyone at the trailhead. He ventures deeper. He encounters cars, one, two at most. He’s unfazed and knows what he is doing. No moment of hesitation, no last glance at his car, the door closes and there is only forward now. He’s used to this. The mountain hides the exertion required to proceed.

On his exit from active duty there had been parties. Friends came out of the woodwork at his homecoming, patting him on the back and telling him how they would have joined also but… there was always a but, and a reason why they couldn’t put their lives on hold.

As the days passed and turned to weeks the friends came by less. While he’d been away they’d gotten on with their lives, and in his mind he had become like a scar, present but not thought of until looked directly at. He and his wife began to fight more. His temper would rage and quickly reach a crescendo before falling abruptly off with his exhaustion. Always exhaustion. Sleep came in sprints and his mind took him back to the desert while he dreamed.

The mountain at its base is wide and the path hot. The trees hold the mountain’s breath beneath their leaves. As he passes the descending hikers, only a quick nod is exchanged. His presence barely registered. How different they seem. His climb is not for sport, nor fitness. He drinks no water.

He’d felt trapped in his body. Isolated in his mind. His new sobriety added to his seclusion as he watched those around him in merriment while he sipped diet coke. Confirming what he already knew; he was different. It was not his presence, but lack thereof which burned her the most. He was a zombie.

“What’s wrong?’ became a daily question which he yearned to answer.

The last hikers pass on the way down. He’s alone. The mountain is indifferent. Each step draws him to the peak. He hears no birds or song.

The necessity of the military, in some capacity, was not up for debate. He knew this, and while we had made great strides towards peace, our kind will never exist without the presence of evil draped in the robes of good. He struggled for a long time. Unable to place into words why it was ok to do the things he had. What took him the longest to overcome was the fact there was evil on both sides of any war and like all things, the sum lived in the grey. His actions held him in high esteem among his peers, but knowledge muddied this fact.

He would try. He would resolve to be better, to immerse himself in the world and live. But, to fall. He would see around him the emptiness of a world without the hierarchy of the military. The outside world had no form and rules were seen as disposable. It made no sense; who won and lost. He began to build resentment to his own helplessness. He struggled to maintain the bearing the military had built into him. His footholds disappeared.

He entered college in an attempt to better this. He joined the military for the same reason. Here, he saw it: a tattered yellow ribbon informing all how much the troops would be supported. After a while all those ribbons began to feel like a lie, a placebo, made to make their owners feel better about their own helplessness in a burning world. In the end, no one had to actually support the troops as long as they said they did. Finding employment reinforced this conclusion. A veteran preference, as a concept, was not readily applied during the hiring process; his skills did not translate.

His time was passing. Sitting in the VA. No one from his war, his guilt at feeling this mattered somehow. Each one seemed somehow different and the same. Was he one of these? So many broken. He was like a child in a physician’s office waiting for his grandmother. Some tried, most did not. Their battle was apathy.

When she left he couldn’t blame her. When she took his children, what could he say? His mind was absent, his body a shade. He sat, sometimes for days in his world, scrolling through social media, angered by the nature of others’ daily problems. They would never know real stress; they would never know real.

When he saw pictures of his wife and her new…that…holding his child it confirmed what he already knew: he did not exist. He had been erased and his story retold without him. Their happiness was a new pain.

He is in the violet world: making his way through the trees, as the path grows hard to see and the journey more beat. His mouth dry, clothes drowned. It was here he saw it, his way out, a small break ahead to take in open air. The mountain’s last light.

He felt the forgotten. Used and tossed aside. Disposable for a purpose, a bargaining chip, an advertisement, a discount at a diner where no one wants to eat. One day a year for him and weekend in the spring for his friends past. His anger and guilt at these thoughts came in equal spades. His mind often turned to his brothers who’d passed. He thought of each individual soldier and how they lived. They were not sports stars. They were not beautiful creatures. They were men and women, their blood red. He remembered Abdul, “Aziz,” his interpreter, medevac’d after walking over an old mine. He never knew if he survived. Often with combat no closure could be found.

He emerges from the tree line into the sun. Up here he can see the basket of the earth in the valley below. He can see it is larger than him and knows it will exist without him. There before him is a warm expanse of grass and dirt, the soldiers’ throne. It only takes a finger.



Brian Evenson on Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable

We sent a copy of our forthcoming Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable book to Brian Evenson, acclaimed literary horror author, and he had some very, very nice things to say. We can’t even begin to tell you how starstruck (and breathless) (and bleeding) we feel right now about this. Thank you, Brian!


“I’ve long thought that the most interesting work being done in a genre is being done on its fringes, by the people who those at the center fail to acknowledge:  those marginalized writers haven’t drunk the Kool Aid yet.

Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable is about what happens when women take over Horror, invert its tropes, turn them on their head, and make Horror do things that you didn’t know it could.

An important and razor-sharp anthology that will leave you breathless and bleeding.”

—Brian Evenson

Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable is our women-only edition of our annual print anthology of literary horror and dark fiction. This book features 28 stories and accompanying art. All women contributors: writers, artists, editors, designers.

Available for pre-sale Monday, November 14th, 2016.

Publication date: BLACK FRIDAY, November 25th, 2016.

Add Gross and Unlikeable as “WANT TO READ” on Goodreads here.

Women. Horror. Breathless. Breathing.


BRIAN EVENSON is the author of more than a dozen books of fiction, most recently the story collection A Collapse of Horses (Coffee House Press, 2015) and the critical book Ed Vs. Yummy Fur: Or What Happens When a Serial Comic Becomes a Graphic Novel (Uncivilized, 2014).  His collection Windeye (2012) and the novel Immobility (2012) were both finalists for the Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Last Days won the 2009 ALA-RUSA Award). His novel The Open Curtain (2004) was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an International Horror Guild Award.

If you like what we do at So Say We All and want us to keep doing more of it, please consider becoming a supporting member. Details here.

Scott McClanahan reads at The Foundry #2

The Foundry is our new literary reading series, just launched this spring. Our second installment is this month, July 30th, at the delightful Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill. Our readers for Number 2 are Jim Ruland, Uzodinma Okehi, Juliet Escoria, Jean Guerrero, Aaron Burch, and today’s feature: Scott McClanahan.

scottScott McClanahan in a three piece suit

In a recent feature at The A/V Club, here’s how they introduced Scott:

Scott McClanahan might be today’s best-known indie press writer. He also makes short films and his readings are some of the most engaging pieces of performance art to ever hit your local bookstore. Perhaps best known for Crapalachia: A Biography Of Place (Two Dollar Radio) and the more recent Hill William (New York Tyrant), McClanahan’s short-story collections function as pseudo-memoirs with a crackling electricity rarely found in literary fiction.

The first time I met Scott, a few years ago, he was visiting San Diego with his wife (fellow Foundry reader Juliet Escoria), and he performed a reading organized by the great Matt E. Lewis. I had never read any of his work, but his writing’s legacy is significant and I knew enough about it to have some level of anticipation. However, during the reading, there was a football game on the bar’s TV screens, and let’s just assume it was a Chargers game, just to properly set the scene. Irritated yet?

I felt somewhat unsettled and without purpose at the event: I wasn’t working or reading, I came alone, and everyone else had already sat down with the people they arrived with. I just kind of stood nervously off to the side in the back, barely able to hear the readings over the low-grade noise at the bar.

When Scott took the stage, maybe a ref made a poor call and the Chargers fans at the bar booed. Maybe they were booing at us, trying to appreciate literature instead of their sports. But their noise was no longer low-grade.

And then Scott sang.

Partway through, he climbed down from the stage, mid-reading, still reading, and passed out homemade fudge (which connected to the story he’d been reading), and even took his offering back amongst the football fans. He chanted a refrain, no mic, in the back, by the bar, by the Chargers fans, and the entire place fell silent. We’d all stood up by now, passing the container of fudge around. Nobody sat with their pre-packaged friends. That no-purpose, adrift feeling vanished and I felt part of something: Not just inspired but responsible somehow. To this day, I wonder if I imagined this experience, or if memory has colored it in a more profound light than it was in the moment, but that day is Scott McClanahan to me.

Unfortunately for our tastebuds, there’s no tie-in with fudge in his latest book, a graphic novel freshly published this month by our darlings, Two Dollar Radio, one of the finest and gutsiest small presses of our day.

I read The Incantations of Daniel Johnston in a single day, carrying it around with me and reading it whenever I could sneak a minute. McClanahan’s writing is so propulsive that I flew through it faster than I probably should have, given how intricate and compelling each Ricardo Cavolo illustration is. It might be the kind of book we all read twice. At least.


Incantations is sometimes troubling, sometimes comforting. It seems to both tackle and encourage our collective curiosity, myth-like, of Daniel Johnston’s life. The illustrations are grotesque at times, but the story reminds us something both forgiving and unsettling: This could’ve easily been you.

Shortly before the book came out, Buzzfeed ran a sample of the first few pages. Take a look here.

scott excerpt

As for Scott’s non-illustrated fiction, here’s a short story we love, published online at Guernica: Psychiatrists and Mountain Dew. This story kicks off his brilliant short story collection Hill William.

We can’t promise fudge at this Saturday’s Foundry reading, but we can promise no football game on any TVs (sorry?). Come join us 7/30 at 7:00 PM at Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill to hear Scott read, along with Aaron Burch, Jean Guerrero, Uzodinma Okehi, Jim Ruland, and Juliet Escoria.


Scott McClanahan wrote The Incantations of Daniel Johnston and The Sarah Book. He lives in West Virginia. You can buy his books here: The Incantations of Daniel JohnstonCrapalachia, and Hill William.

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider supporting us and becoming a member. Details on our membership page here.

by Julia Dixon Evans
cover image by Juliet Escoria

Become a Sustaining Member of So Say We All Today!

Because of friends and artists like you, we’ve been able to help people tell their stories and tell them better on the stage and page, through college classrooms, radio, theater, and more for over seven years and counting. Now we want to bring your voice to an even wider audience, and to do it we need your help. So Say We All is asking you to become a monthly supporting member today. It’s the best way to give, and will help us grow like the hearty little succulents we are!

Plus, Members get special e-mail alerts about artist opportunities, interviews, and and happenings of great import!

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider supporting us and becoming a member. Details on our membership page here.

We love you and we hope you’re able to love us back in a monetary fashion!

VAMP: Animal Control

They’re our best friends and our most frightening nightmares. We share this planet with many creatures and even though they don’t know how to build skyscrapers or develop smartphone apps, animals still very much shape our reality in many (sometimes ridiculous) ways. Also, they can be such murderous beasts.

Come hear some stories about the non-humans in our life. (The animal show is always a doozy).

Matthew Baldwin
Ryan Bradford
Emily Burke
Ryan Hicks
Eber Lambert
Jennifer Stiff
Amy Thornton
Anastasia Zadeik

Produced by Jennifer Stiff and Jason Eliaser

VAMP: Animal Control
Thursday, June 30th
8:30 PM
Whistle Stop Bar
2236 Fern St
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 284-6784
$5 suggested donation

PEN/Fusion Prize Winner Jean Guerrero reads at The Foundry No.2

Foundry No. 2 reader Jean Guerrero recently won the esteemed PEN/Fusion Prize for her memoir, Crux. Jean is going to be featured in our next installment of the Foundry, our new literary reading series, featuring stories and readings by touring authors, writers living in San Diego, and our favorite emerging literary citizens. Details here. Jean will also be reading with Aaron Burch, Juliet Escoria, Uzodinma Okehi, Scott McClanahan, and Jim Ruland.

A gorgeous and heart-wrenching portion of her manuscript, Crux, was performed as “VHS Vortex” in our August 2015 VAMP: Red Flags storytelling showcase. We also admire and respect the work Jean does in journalism. Check out this piece for KPBS on the deadly police raids in Tijuana tunnels: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2016/jan/28/tijuana-migrants-hide-tunnels-police-raids-get-dea/

To prepare for the reading and get you all excited to hear Jean read, So Say We All’s Julia Dixon Evans talked with Jean about her book, her work, the nature of truth in storytelling, and winning the PEN/Fusion prize.

So Say We All’s Julia Dixon Evans: Jean! Congratulations! Are you still buzzing with excitement about this, or has it begun to sink in?

Jean Guerrero: Crux has been my dream for so many years – to see it recognized this way feels like some kind of hallucination. I’m surprised so many weeks have passed since the announcement and I still haven’t woken up.

JDE: When did you start writing this project, your memoir, Crux?

JG: The first version of Crux was a novel. In college, I was afraid to approach the naked truth when it came to my own life. But I made the decision to pursue journalism as a career because telling the truth about the world outside myself was comparatively easy and exciting. Plus, striving to become a novelist (and studying creative writing) seemed too fanciful. I didn’t believe you could be taught how to be creative. Two creative writing professors told me my decision was a mistake – that journalism would strip my writing of creativity and magic and severely limit its power to inspire.

It wasn’t until I started my career as a journalist that I realized how magical pure nonfiction can be. True fairy tales can be excavated from facts. As someone who was born and raised in the U.S. but comes of Mexican and Puerto Rican parents, I have faith in science and objectivity but can’t entirely discount the supernatural. So in 2013, I pursued an MFA in creative nonfiction through the low-residency program at Goucher College to write what is now Crux, which journalistically explores alternative explanations for what I grew up believing was my father’s “schizophrenia,” and some of them are mystical. 

JDE: Your book is about searching: For understanding, for history, for explanations, for reconciliations. At what point in this lifelong search did you become aware of the search? And at what point did you realize that you would be/were recording it?

JG: I was self-destructive as a teenager, thanks to the conviction that I was doomed to become “schizophrenic” like my father. I was writing essays and short stories about him, but I always saw it more as an escape or exorcism – like venting – than a search. Sophomore year of college, I was hospitalized for cutting my wrists, and I decided to minor in neuroscience. I found myself attending creative writing classes to write fiction about my father. The writing itself – as well as my study of dendrites, axon potentials and the Diagnostic Statistical Manual – made me very aware of the fact that I was searching for understanding.

Coincidentally, around this time, my father started telling me his story. I was captivated, and I suddenly felt that the beliefs I had grown up with – that he was a paranoid schizophrenic, that I had a genetic predisposition toward craziness – were not the truth, at least not with a capital T. It was kind of a perfect storm.

JDE: One of my favorite parts of the excerpt you read for us at our August 2015 VAMP showcase, “Red Flags,” is this line: “Moments after my father took this photograph, the two entered the tent behind her to mix the witch’s brew of me. I search for myself in the sinister blackness lurching toward my mother from the direction of the sea.” There’s something vaguely unsettling in writing about the personal lives of our parents and ancestors, and you tackle it with a really graceful curiosity. How do you do this? Do you classify these real people as characters? Or is there a current of reality in every line you write?

JG: As a journalist, and as someone who studied creative nonfiction at Goucher College, where they are fanatic about Truth, I feel very strongly about sticking to the truth and nothing but the truth. Once you blur the line between fact and fiction, you forfeit any chance of revelation from your writing – at least in nonfiction. Fiction is another story, of course. In nonfiction, you’re breaking a pact with the reader when you fabricate or exaggerate. Most likely, the reader is going to sense that lack of sincerity and put down the book. If you assume the reader is stupid, your writing is going to be rudimentary.

JDE: I think what I really meant was: Do you need to distance yourself from them? Stop thinking of them as family and think of them as…perhaps a more journalistic term for it would be “subjects”? Like, is it easier for you to think and write of their personal lives so thoroughly if they’re not your mother and father but someone (still real) that is separate from you? Coming at writing/teaching memoir and personal narrative from a creative writing standpoint, it can help beginners (and me sometimes) to stop thinking of someone as “mom” or even “I,” and start thinking of them as a character or narrator. Not out of a fictionalization sense, but as a way of letting the story take hold, seeking character development, stakes, etc. I am definitely committed to truth in non-fiction writing, though I know some personal essayists have different takes on that. 

JG: Your strategy of distancing yourself from your subject matter – at least in the beginning – makes sense. I guess you could argue that’s why my initial instinct was to approach the material as fiction.

But for me, the real insights emerged only when the writing became very personal. I’m trying to understand myself through my family. I’m not trying to expose anyone. I don’t presume to know what’s right or wrong when it comes to other people.

JDE: We loved seeing you perform in VAMP, and I think many of us learned a lot from you – to name one thing: telling a story that was (on the surface) about these other people, your parents, but was so deeply and wholly about you. What are some things you learned about your writing or your story during the VAMP process?

JG: I was just starting out as a radio and TV reporter, so the performance training I received through VAMP was very useful. In MFA programs, you aren’t taught how to read aloud. Writers tend to oscillate between monotone and melodramatic tones. I think learning how to read your stories aloud in a compelling way helps you inject a more authentic voice into your writing. It creates a sort of bridge between how you talk and how you write. You start to sound a lot more like yourself, in both speech and prose.

JDE: You’re a journalist, working for KPBS in San Diego. How has journalism shaped your memoir writing? And how has your work on Crux in turn shaped what you do as a journalist, or which stories you are drawn to?

JG: Journalism gave me the tools to dig deep into my family history. One of my favorite chapters relies almost exclusively on the paper trail of my ancestors. My first job after graduating college was as a foreign correspondent for Mexico City – my father’s birthplace. My career has always led me in the direction of writing Crux the true way.

As for how Crux shaped me as a journalist – my manuscript is largely about migration. My beat is the border. The themes run in perfect parallel. When I’m reporting, I’m most attracted to sources who remind me of my father: male outcasts with eccentric personalities. It’s worth noting, by the way, that the superstar journalist Gay Talese recently offended hundreds of female journalists, including myself, when he said his idols in journalism exclude women because  “educated women” aren’t interested in the antisocial characters he finds magnetic. In fact, I know more women than men who are fascinated by Dostoevskian types.

JDE: San Diego has a vibrant writing community. Are you a solitary writer, or do you thrive on this community? Or a mixture of both?

JG: I knew a writer in Mexico City who threw parties when he wanted to write. He brought his desk into a corner of his living room and pounded at his keyboard while everyone drank and talked around him. He felt most inspired in the midst of this chaos. It was impressive – I wish I could do that! But I need to be alone to focus. That said, I’m thrilled about San Diego’s literary community. The story of how I learned of its existence is embarrassing, so I’ll tell it. I was living at my mom’s house, transitioning from Mexico to the U.S., sitting on the living room couch in pajamas, wearing no makeup, depressed about a deteriorating relationship and the fact that I was living with my mother, when the magical writer Lizz Huerta just materialized in front of me. She asked: “Are you a writer?” She just appeared like that, all gorgeous in her paint-stained overalls, posing that perfect question. I had no idea who she was or why she was in my house. It turns out she was painting the railing on my mom’s staircase – for those who don’t already know, Lizz’s talents are infinite. Anyway, she was bonding with my mom about their shared Puerto Rican heritage when she noticed my bookshelf and came looking for me. At the time, I thought there was no writing community in San Diego. Huerta enlightened me. It was one of the best days of 2015 for me.

JDE: What are you working on right now?

JG: I’ve been polishing my manuscript with my agent. But after dwelling inside of it for so long, cutting and carving and creating, I feel I have gone blind to it. I stare at sentences and have this sense they’re in a foreign language, or even hieroglyphics. It’s like when you gape at any object for too long – it starts to look kind of alien and incomprehensible. I spoke to Huerta about this, and she told me the solution was simple: to go have an affair – as in, a little fling with fiction. Apparently all professional writers know this is the secret to rekindling creative fire. It seems to be working. I’m writing a short story about an alcoholic deportee who sleeps with cockroaches in Tijuana while he dreams of his family across the border.

JDE: I know exactly what you mean. And that sounds amazing, and it sounds like exactly the sort of story I would read and then call Lizz and demand that she read it too.

Congratulations again. We are so proud and thrilled for you, and we can’t wait to hear you read from Crux at The Foundry No. 2 on July 30th. And best of luck with the book as it makes its way into the world!

Come hear Jean read! July 30th, 7 PM, at Tiger Eye Hair in Golden Hill: https://www.facebook.com/events/1762857903955708/


Jean Guerrero is the 2016 recipient of the PEN/FUSION Emerging Writers award for her manuscript Crux, a cross-border memoir about her quest to understand her Mexican father, whom she grew up believing was schizophrenic. She is the Fronteras reporter at KPBS, San Diego’s NPR and PBS affiliate, where she covers immigration and other border issues. Previously, she was a correspondent in Mexico City for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, trekking through mountains with coffee smugglers, opium poppy producers and maize farmers. More recently, she ventured into Tijuana’s sewers to expose the plight of deported migrants. She holds a master’s in creative nonfiction from Goucher College, as well as a University of Southern California bachelor’s in journalism and minor in neuroscience. She is half Mexican, half Puerto Rican.

Animal lovers, unite. VAMP is June 30th!

Do you love animals? And do you love stories? We have the purrfect show for you. VAMP: Animal Control is Thursday, June 30th at 8:30 PM at the Whistle Stop Bar. Come hear some fine creative non-fiction stories about the animals in our performer’s lives. VAMP is So Say We All’s monthly curated storytelling showcase, and we tell you stories each month at The Whistle Stop Bar in South Park. Our writers are chosen from a competitive field of blind submissions, and put through a grueling editing and coaching process.

eber-cat[clockwise from top: grueling critique process, cat]

VAMP: Animal Control is a night of stories about critters. They’re our best friends and our most frightening nightmares. We share this planet with many creatures and even though they don’t know how to build skyscrapers or develop smartphone apps, animals still very much shape our reality in many (sometimes ridiculous) ways. Also, they can be such murderous beasts.

We’ll feature stories about cats, dogs, lab mice, bears, snakes, rats, lizards, gerbils, and… a few surprises. Come hear some tail tales (lol) about the non-humans in our life. The animal show is always a doozy.

Matthew Baldwin
Ryan Bradford
Emily Burke
Ryan Hicks
Eber Lambert
Jennifer Stiff
Amy Thornton
Anastasia Zadeik

Produced by Jen Stiff and Jason Eliaser

VAMP: Animal Control
Thursday, June 30th
8:30 PM
Whistle Stop Bar
2236 Fern St
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 284-6784
$5 suggested donation

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