Writing Fiction in Your Pajamas!

Where are you? Paris? Nome, Alaska? The Falklands? Singapore? Santa Fe? No problem—you can lounge in your pajamas and study fiction writing on-line.
Santa Fe Community College is offering two on-line classes that start August 25. I am teaching the intro to fiction as a flash fiction course. We’ll be reading the two fantastic SUDDEN FICTION anthologies (American & International) and working on character sketches, pov, fable, magical tales, flashbacks, and more. This is English 221.
English 225 with Russell Whiting is the more advanced intermediate course, good for honing skills, completion, extension, vision, and re-vision. We don’t offer this course that frequently, so take advantage.
These courses are very inexpensive, run 15-16 weeks, create a virtual community of writers with discussion boards, and give you a lot of individual feedback. If you are an SFCC student they are requirements and electives in creative writing—and you don’t have to stay in your pj’s—but come by our office hours any time!
I’m glad to answer questions.
You can register online at http://jack.sfcc.edu; by phone (call 428-1000); or in person by going to the Enrollment Center.

PS. I’m also recommending Daniel Kilpatric’s classroom POETRY (ENGL 222). He is know for his intriguing writing prompts to inspire your poetry.

New Class with Terry Wilson at SFCC: English 120

Interview With Terry Wilson about her upcoming creative writing class at SFCC

The Writing Creatively class is the most fun thing you can do on a Wednesday evening! The class starts on August 27 and runs for the 16 week semester; class time is 6 pm. till 8:45 pm. There are no prerequisites, and the class is worth 3 credits. The grading is Pass/Fail, and you can register for it online at http://jack.sfcc.edu; by phone (call 428-1000); or in person by going to the Enrollment Center. SEARCH UNDER ENGLISH TO LOCATE IT. It is English 120.

My approach as a teacher is to encourage my students to do as much freewriting as possible, and to create a supportive atmosphere in the class so students can break through their writing blocks. For our text, we use Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones; I feel that every student has important stories to share. The group is quite varied; some are new writers, and many are writers who just want to maintain a discipline so they keep going with their craft. We write memoir, fiction, and poetry, and sometimes students even pen songs and rap tunes during the class. I employ different exercises while we’re together so the time we spend is enjoyable: one example is a scavenger hunt where we use “found objects” to write about. We also go to Blue Corn for one class during the semester, and during this session, we blend non-fiction and fiction by writing about the food in front of us and its smell, taste, etc. as well as the noise and music we hear around us. Then we mix that into the creation of a fictional story about one of the customers in the restaurant and something that we imagine happening to that person, good or bad. We do “color walks” in one of the first weeks, so students are focusing on the sense details around them. Sometimes we also put a costume on and become a character that we then write about! In general, though, we generate a lot of new writing material, especially during the first 8 weeks of the class. During the second 8 weeks (after mid-term) we continue to freewrite, but we focus more on character, plot, setting, and dialogue. We also critique pieces if students choose to do that. At the end of the semester, we often create a class book of stories, poems, and memoir pieces. We have done public readings at the end of the term, too.

In terms of my background as a writer, I’ve had about thirty pieces published in literary magazines, newspapers, and journals throughout the US. I’ve done stand up comedy in Los Angeles, and I also wrote and performed my own one woman show at El Museo a few years ago. I recently completed a memoir called Confessions of a Failed Saint which I am now marketing. In addition, I’ve performed many autobiographical monologues in the Southwest, and I have presented my work each Monday evening at El Farol during Poetica.

I run the class workshop style, so students often get to know each other quite well. Many of my students have had their essays, stories, poems, and even books published. Writing Creatively is a perfect class to take to enter into SFCC’s Creative Writing Program because in it, you can experience many different types of writing and begin to develop a discipline. Or if you’re a more seasoned wordsmith, you can use the class to keep writing, keep getting feedback, and keep developing your skills!

I’ve loved teaching English and Writing Creatively at SFCC for the past 19 years, and I can honestly say that this class remains one of my all time favorites. If prospective students have any questions for me, they can contact me at tmwilson222@aol.com Thanks!

To see Terry’s book, CONFESSIONS OF A FAILED SAINT, click here.

Still Some Spaces in Julia Goldberg’s Intermediate Fiction Class at Santa Fe Community College

Q and A

Hi Julia–I see there are spaces left in your intermediate fiction class at SFCC. I want to ask you a bit about the class.

Is there a particular focus in the class–plot, editing, etc.?

Julia: The class actually touches most of the bases when it comes to the craft of fiction. We work specifically on point of view, sense of place, character, dialogue, plot—the works. With that said, plot tends to be a major focus, as does the editing process. While there is certainly a fair amount of “free writing” in this class, it is geared toward writers who want more tools for the revision process, so that is a major focus.

What should a student expect in the class?

The class really emphasizes the craft side of writing fiction. We use Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction book, which takes a hard look at all the technical elements of fiction—from point of view to verb tenses—and provides what I think is an excellent survey of other writers’ views and experiences about these elements. The class has a free write almost every time we meet, and those are geared at practicing some of the techniques that we look at in the weekly readings. And then a major focus of the class is the workshop process. This is a chance for the writers to gather feedback and edits from their classmates and, of course, from me.
What is your favorite thing about teaching the class?

I really enjoy hearing the results of the free-writes—I’m always amazed at where they lead, and I love seeing solid revisions come out of these workshops. Many of the students who have been in this class in prior years now publish regularly and read in public regularly, and it’s exciting to see that fairly fast trajectory from classroom to active writing life.

What kind of reading?

The Burroway book also functions as a great anthology of short fiction, and we do a fair amount of reading and discussing these stories. I can never resist Ron Carlson’s “Keith,” which is both a great read and an excellent story to look at for craft. And then there’s Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welta, Stuart Dybek…this semester, I’m hoping to work in a story by Ann Beattie, since she’s in the Lannan line-up this spring, and also one of my favorites. Every other year I seem unable to resist including Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants. This might be an on year for that.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Although some people come to the class with manuscripts ready to workshop, this also is a class in which participants can develop material out of the in-class assignments if they are in the mood to start from scratch. We don’t read novels in the class, but students who are working on a novel certainly can workshop portions of it. Each student will workshop three pieces of writing of 8-10 pages (no more than 15) and submit one revision of each.
To register: 428-1000
If you need the pre-requisite overridden, contact Miriam Sagan after January 1 at miriam.sagan@sfcc.edu

Halloween at SFCC by Ursula Moeller

Intro: in memoir class, we built Day of the Dead altars and wrote about the feelings evoked:

The Monday afternoon class went out to write haiku and observe the passing scene. Photographer and writer Ursula Moeller captured so much of the party.

She reports:

For me the whole event was a happy community gathering. It was the first time I had been and the feeling of joy and camaraderie was everywhere: in the licking neon purple icing off a cupcake, the 20 minute pumpkin carving contest, the pinata bashing, the trick or treating and the kids being scared by the ghoulish decorations.
People’s costumes were simple and elaborate, sweet, funny, crazy and risky. There were many parent/child matching costumes which were wonderful, such as the mother big crayon and the child little crayon.
The mother of the chili pepper baby told me that this costume had been a bust when worn by the older sibling in the east, but here everyone thought it fabulous. Me too.
It was special to see families, dads with kids, moms with kids,
grandparents with kids as well as many of us with no kids, enjoying the whole scene. Good for the Santa Fe Community College for putting on the event and pulling it off so successfully.

fuelled by chocolate
Halloween photographer
is all smiles

grinning fairy
holds out her pumpkin
wings frame gold halo

Photographs and haiku by Ursula Moeller

Santa Fe Literary Review: Launch Party and Call for Submissions

The Santa Fe Literary Review, 2011 issue, was launched with a gala reception and reading by contributors at Santa Fe Community College on Tuesday.

We are now busy reading for the 2012 issue. Staff is: Meg Tuite, fiction editor, Sudas Clement, poetry editor, Sarah Velez, intern/editor at large, art editor, and Alona Bonano, intern/editor at large.
Santa Fe Literary Review seeks poetry, flash fiction,short memoir/personal essay and visual arts with an edge. Surprise us! No previously published work, please. SFLR accepts submissions year round, to be read in the fall. Send 4-7 pages (snail mail please, no email submissions except for residents outside the US) and SASE for reply only to:

Miriam Sagan
Santa Fe Literary Review
6401 Richards Ave.
Santa Fe, NM 87508.

ART–photography, collage, graphic art, anything that reproduces well in black and white, to sarah.velez@email.sfcc.edu. Write her for further details.

Deadline for the 2012 issue December 1st, 2011.


Meg, Miriam, and Sudasi

Editors, past and present, with contributors.

A Brief Reprieve by Alexandra Andrews: an inside view of SFCC

The assignment in the on-line fiction class was to go somewhere and sketch it in words. Student Alexandra Andrews really caught so much of campus I am posting it here. The Memoir classes also visited the courtyard, with an installation by Chrissie Orr–El Otro Lado/The Other Side.

The walls are the typical sterile off-white that some designer somewhere had decided was “neutral”. At least it isn’t that yellow-ivory color. The off white is almost pleasant. True white would have been so much more pleasing to the eye. Until you started to notice every smudge and fingerprint and scratch. Nah, off-white was best. Besides, it makes the print of Calla Lilies really pop out of it’s black background. Not all the artwork, well what was called artwork anyway, benefits from the “neutral” background. Posters, odd graphic arts, photographs, pop-art mixed media works, and collages all mixed with the occasional electric blue framed digital watercolors make for an interesting view. Regardless of whether or not you find any particular work impressive. Although I have never walked down this hallway or sat in this “lounge” and not found something I liked up on the walls.

That’s one thing this place has done right, showcased every students work of art who wants to show it. The campus is littered in a thousand different visions of art and interpretations. Here though, in this quiet sunlit area it’s all media arts of some form. The glass wall of windows to the right provides enough natural light that you almost forget there are buzzing florescent lights above. You can escape from your work for a moment simply by looking out that window. Trees, sky, smooth stucco short walls that encircle the true courtyard of the school are plainly seen. You could literally walk through the glass (if you were capable of such a thing of course) and walk right into that park-like retreat. Wooden tables that were somehow still comfortable housing students eating, reading, or just visiting. Funny how some schools never saw the benefit of adding nature and reprieve to their students curriculum. Or found it important to showcase the students, it’s always about the professors at other schools. Even out in the designed nature there is evidence of students and their journeys. Sculptures, or rather welded pieces of metal, adore the edges and journal/collage projects blown up to man height are staggered throughout the area. Tales of addiction overcome, dreams lost and realized, family built, and wanderings of students you’ll never know distract and inspire as people stop to read them. Useful. Every step, every little adornment has been thought out to be useful and yet somehow just came into being on it’s own. God bless students sharing real thoughts and personal expressions.

Even the interior seating was carefully thought out. From the textured poles to the smooth and modern bench/couches. Set in the middle of the “lounge” with space running all around them…like a little island oasis to sit at and relax in between the busy classes. The same off-white smooth of the walls, but adorned with comfortable, rich brown cushions…the back cushions with modern and yet somehow retro geometric patterns of brown, orange, red-orange, and lime green run the lengths of the two long benches facing each other and each of the four mini seats. Amazing how when you look at it closely it’s so busy and vibrant but from a slight distance it’s simply a slight pattern. The floor in this couch/bench area tried to mimic the back cushions, poorly, but again somehow blend. Running around the outside of this cafe-like lounge area are the tables. Some short, some tall, all with chairs in popping colors. Lime green, teal, neon orange and a single boring brown char. Pops of color that all mimic the cushion pattern and against the off-white walls makes the whole area feel like a starbucks minus the barista and endless supply of caffeine. There’s even a “cyber cafe” section against the far back wall with two computers for students who don’t have a laptop…or for when the upteenth time the college wireless isn’t working.

To the left the hallway continues both in front of and behind me, worn with a thousand feet walking a thousand steps to hundreds of different futures. Kids who dream of being graphic designers, middle aged office workers looking to move up, people of all ages chasing careers and dreams one step at a time. The carpeting cushions each footfall, turning it into another whisper of things to come that echo through this school. Faint sounds of students playing music, dancing, creating new solar power options, learning how to read blood pressure readings, reciting poetry, giving speeches about who the are and what they would do if they had a million dollars. Echos of bowls being used to create culinary delights….those whispers mingling with the scent of fresh baked bread…of new starts and new delights. Pride filling the corridors like a gentle pressure. How could you not strive to be proud of yourself here? Every aspect is designed to make you feel at home, comfortable, and able to achieve. Look, here are 40 pieces of work from your fellow students, in the same classes you are taking now. Look where you will be soon! Strive, achieve…and while you sit here relax, or work on homework, or play on facebook…your choice. But bring your own coffee.

Vocabulary Quiz: Poetry Post Collaboration between Miriam Sagan and Suzanne Vilmain

The ten poetry posts on SFCC’s campus now host “Vocabularly Quiz”–ten one word poems by Miriam Sagan and letterpress printer Suzanne Vilmain of Counting Coup Press.

Walk around campus and collect all ten and write a poem. Use six for a sestina. Or?

Creative Writing at Santa Fe Community College Fall 2011

There are still spaces in Julia Deisler‘s Poetry Class (Monday 5:30-8 pm) and in Terry Wilson’s Exploring Creative Writing.(Wed 6-8:45 pm) And possibly 1-2 spots left in Miriam Sagan’s Memoir Class, Tues/Thursday 1-2:15 pm.
SFCC offers both a certificate and an AA in creative writing, which transfers directly to IAIA and easily to UNM. Campus has a student run magazine, “The Santa Fe Literary Review” which you can follow on Facebook.The 2011 issue should be out very soon! We also have ten “Poetry Posts” which are a permanent installation to showcase student work.
Always happy to answer your questions.
P.S.FREE CREATIVE WRITING CLASS at downtown library Wed. Aug. 10 from 5:45-7:45 pm. Break your writing blocks and tell your stories! Contact Terry at tmwilson222@aol.com or 505-603-1218. Beginners welcome! (Ongoing class at SFCC, “Exploring Creative Writing” begins Aug. 24.)

Summer of Flash by Julia Goldberg

I am a greedy reader, a pleasure reader, a literary hedonist. I want my coffee strong and my novels long. I want to escape for days on end into story and character. Some of my favorite writers are those such as Kate Atkinson, Ellen Gilchrist or Richard Ford, whose works include recurrent characters whose stories continue over spans of years in short stories or novels. I normally eschew food metaphors but, in this case, devour would be the apt verb to describe my relationship to fiction. I do not want taste a morsel, no matter how exquisitely prepared; I want to ravage.

So at first glance, flash fiction, micros, compressions, suddens, whatever you want to call them, struck me as yet another blow against expansiveness. As a journalist, I would consider myself as having been on the front line of the “short, shorter, shortest” campaign of the last several years. Yes, the power of 140 characters to topple a dictatorship, gather followers or keep everyone updated on your mood is, indeed, impressive. But, you know, some of us still like to read!
I needed a quick and radical adjustment to my attitude during the Intermediate Fiction course I taught at Santa Fe Community College this spring, after Miriam Sagan asked if I would be interested in curating a collection of flash written by my students for the poetry posts on campus. I liked the idea of the project, but didn’t think I could appropriately inspire my students with a tirade against abbreviated thought.
So I plunged in and read a whole lot of flash: the classics, the award-winners and the very, very new.
As a reader, I do not anticipate a huge change in my habits (for instance, when I fly to Europe this summer, I don’t anticipate I’ll bring 80,000 pieces of flash fiction versus a few long books). But as a writer, and a teacher, I have come to see the value of the form and have abandoned my view of it as yet another trendy excuse to shorten my already shortened attention span.
The students in Intermediate Fiction divided into groups and chose various themes for their flash projects: drought, family loss and The Outsider. The extent to which all the pieces adhered to these themes varied from writer to writer, but the resulting group of 20 pieces, which will be on campus June 1-Aug. 26, show, I believe, the amazing versatility offered by the form. The pieces range from writing I might characterize as prose poetry to simply short fiction. They also show the challenge of instilling the various attributes of fiction writing (character, plot, story, for example) into such short works.

Here are the writers for Summer of Flash, and their works. You can find a map of the poetry posts here.

Installation 1, June 1-July 14: Benjamin Lucas Buck, Meg Tuite, Ana Terrazas, Sarah Velez, Alona Bonanno, Lisa Neal, Tina Matthews

Installation 2, July 15-Aug. 26: Meg Tuite, Ree Mobley, Ken McPherson, Pat Barnes, William White

Post by Julia Goldberg


by Joan Mitchell

When the poisoned apple lodged in your throat
the sad dwarfs hauled you to a wide hilltop

and left you there alone.  Your glass coffin
is an odd sky window where the seasons pass

like familiar strangers, and bring eternities
of birds.  The owl comes with the first

snow’s silence, tufted feet just above your head.
Round gold eyes.  His tears clink on the glass.

The raven brings tears of rain, and a comic
waddle.  He peers at you from one side

of his head and then the other as new green
mounds along the coffin’s sides.  Summer’s dove

has the tiniest feet, a busy scuffling on the glass.
He pecks on the lid right above your nose:

“I’d curl, curl, curl soft and gray beside you.”
The prince will come as crisp leaves skitter on the lid.

He’ll kiss you, and it all begins again:  Rush of mind
and blood.  Tug of others.  Bicker of everyday birds.


Pleased to announce this poem is forthcoming in The Santa Fe Literary Review, which is currently in production ad should be out midsummer, with a launch party in September.

“Artifact” by Gail Rieke