Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry, Interviews
Artwork: Evening Shadows by F.R. Dane
Evening Shadows by F.R. Dane

Fiction at the Sentence Level

Elements of Craft in John Updike's “The Happiest I've Been”

by Sean Madden

I first read John Updike while standing at a crowded, downtown Los Angeles bus stop in November 2011. The story was “Natural Color,” a selection from Richard Ford’s Granta Book of the American Short Story: Volume Two.

At that time, I was busy reorienting my life around one particular ambition. I’d graduated from UC Berkeley in the spring of 2010 determined to become a professional fiction writer. Now I was ready to dedicate myself to the task.

Between graduation and the fall of 2011, I’d given up. I’d given up after getting ahead of myself and failing to achieve what I’d set out to do. I’d let the publication of the first short story I’d ever written, in the University of California’s student-run literary arts magazine, convince me that any top-tier Master of Fine Arts program would be thrilled to accept my application. When this fantasy didn’t play out—I applied to programs in the fall of 2010, and was rejected by them all—I felt like the butt of a cruel joke. I was so heartbroken, actually, and disappointed in myself, that I quit writing. I quit reading fiction, too. I no longer believed I had what it took to succeed as a writer. I came to regard the publication of my story in Matchbox Magazine as a fluke. My professors and peers at Berkeley who’d acknowledged my talent were guilty of mere flattery.

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Arno Reflections: Florence by Joshua Windsor | on Instagram @josh.michael.windsor

Diamonds in the Light

by Eddie P. Gomez

Florence, Italy • Summer 2013


Somewhere over Spain, I’m sitting between two fascinating young people on a plane ride home from Italy. I'd call them kids, but they’re both adults living in the real world. The three of us struck up a conversation spontaneously as soon as the plane taxied toward the runway. We were laughing comfortably within minutes of meeting each other, sharing quick versions of our personal stories in that uninhibited way strangers do when they know they’ll never see each other again.

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Science Fiction Writer Robert J. Sawyer Holding Neanderthal Skull Photo by Carolyn Clink
Robert J. Sawyer by Carolyn Clink

Robert J. Sawyer
Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer Shares His Process and Writerly Wisdom Interviewed by Gene Wilburn

“…the tiny, character-driven bits,
the quieter scenes, the epiphanies,
are often what the reader remembers most;
they’re the heart and soul of your writing…”
—Robert J. Sawyer
NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty was inspired to start Chris Baty Studios, which makes posters for writers, after a trip to London, where he found the city covered with incredible posters and signs. Chris said that he comes up with a tagline or concept, then hands it over to his illustrators and designers who transform it into something “a thousand times better than my original idea.”
Chris Baty

Creative Catalyst:
NaNoWriMo founder

Chris Baty talks to SPM

...the impulse to create...waits, patiently, for us to find a way back...For me, it was through NaNoWriMo. However you get back there, it just feels pretty incredible when you arrive.
—Chris Baty
Regi Claire by Dawn Marie Jones
Regi Claire by Dawn Marie Jones

A Wee Bit Supernatural:
Scottish Novelist Regi Claire
Interviewed by Ann Cefola

I tend not to analyze my work because I am a bit superstitious: too much awareness might interfere with my imagination, kill it stone-dead.
 —Regi Claire
Moorland Cottage Revisited by Paul Steven Bailey
Moorland Cottage Revisited by Paul Steven Bailey | www.paulbaileyart.co.uk


by Timothy Boudreau

Chesterton was my aunt Lucy’s gentleman friend. “Well, Nicky, I just call him my gentleman friend”—that’s what she used to say to me, with a certain special emphasis that made him sound like a rare creature imported from old-world Europe, the kind of person you might order from the same catalog where you ordered a porcelain English tea set, or a tin of butter cookies baked in Denmark or Holland.

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After Alexej Jawlensky
by Karen Holden

Young Girl, 1915 by Alexej Jawlensky. Collection of the Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California, gift of The Milton Wichner Collection Bequest, 1979. Photograph © 2018 Long Beach Museum of Art.


Young Girl, 1915
        by Karen Holden
There are eyes upside down
behind my mouth, another brow
beneath my chin. We are all like this:
who we are painted over who we were

Speech silenced, dead to smell
they could not take away our eyes
those reflecting pools in our faces:
            dark mud, red blood, blue sky

Or those curtained, but open still, inside


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