The Women’s National Book Association – SF Chapter and The San Francisco Mechanics Institute, co-hosted a reading and discussion with myself and Isidra Mencos, Barcelona-born author of the memoir, Promenade of Desire.

Here is a taste of what I had to say about what the body holds:

After spending many years writing the stories in The Man with Eight Pairs of Legs, I realized my body had been talking to me. My body has a history of violence, injury, objectification, and disparagement. A splenectomy at 6 weeks; a pumped stomach at 2; kidney damage from a fall at 5; a broken elbow at 9; dance classes from age 8-19, my skinny body reflected back to me in wall-to-wall mirrors; bulimia at 19; broken bones from a car accident at 21 resulting in a two-month hospital stay; raped by a stranger at 25; giving birth to two 10-lb babies without drugs (my choice), one at 35, the other at 45; at 58 arthritis pain in the hip sets in, resulting from the car accident at 21, and continues to this day. 

We think of gunshot wounds as violent, but surgery is violent as well, medical interventions that traumatize the body. Giving birth is violent, regardless of the subsequent pleasure. Rape is violent in its violation. 

My psyche needed to explore the themes of physical shame, humiliation, and pain as well as desire and the breathtaking and miraculous act of creating a new human being in one’s own body. I believe our bodies are molecules of emotion and that it is here that we carry our stories, in our armpits, our groin, in the soles of our feet.  


The leader of the Stanford Reunion Alumni Committee for my class, someone I didn’t know, read The Man with Eight Pairs of Legs, and loved it so much, she contacted me and asked me if I would organize an Author’s Corner at the reunion. I loved the idea and went all out. I created a list of published authors and poets from my class with info about each person’s writing journey, their titles, and websites, which went out to the entire class, 1300 people. At the reunion itself, 20 authors and poets either brought or sent a copy of their book for the display table. Fifteen came in person and spoke to a crowd of 40 about their books. I can’t tell you how much gratitude I received from all these published writers! Until you write a book and get it out into the world, you have no idea what an incredible, almost impossible achievement it is.
Here is a taste of what I shared with the audience at Author’s Corner, about the origins of writing and the importance of language.
The earliest writing (versus proto-writing) was done in Sumer, southern Mesopotamia, in the fertile crescent of the Tigris River, rich in clay for forming tablets, circa 3,000 BCE. Writing, which evolved from art/decoration to symbol (pictograph) to ideogram to cuneiform (a series of wedges inscribed in clay), was first used in divinations before being used to document agricultural produce and create contracts.

An ancient Mesopotamian poem gives the first known story of the invention of writing.

Because the messenger’s mouth was heavy and he couldn’t repeat (the message), the Lord of Kulaba patted some clay and put words on it. 

The first printing of books started in China. The oldest extant printed book is a work of the Diamond Sutra and dates back to 868 CE, during the Tang Dynasty.

Every human community possesses language, which is an innate and defining condition of humanity. Meanwhile, “Literature is the memory of [that] humanity,” Isaac Bashevis Singer


On the first Monday of the month, the Creative Writing Departments of San Francisco City College and San Francisco State University host a reading for their students, faculty, and others at the Ocean Ale House. I have enjoyed trying out my writing there, saying the words out loud into the microphone to an appreciative audience who listen quietly, a stein of cold beer on draft sweating on the table in front of them.


What a delight it was to be interviewed by Daniel Olivas, author, most recently, of the story collection, How to Date a Flying Mexican. I then interviewed him about his collection. This guy is a professional interviewer, so smooth! On the podcast, the interviews are followed by a reading from each of our collections by a professional actor. The host is Jon DiSavino, of Short Story Today, who discovered me at my panel advocating for the short story at the AWP conference in Seattle earlier this year. Put on your headphones, close your eyes, and enjoy!
Here’s the link to listen to the podcast.


Twelve women who published their books in 2023 or 2022, gathered online to share something about the books we had written and what our books mean to us. It was inspiring to hear everyone’s stories. One woman, who I hadn’t heard about in 45 years, reminded me she and I had led a workshop together when we were in grad school! There were books about travel, about bistros in Paris, a children’s book about the Nigerian naming ceremony. It is always a breath of fresh air for me to get out of my limited world of literary fiction!


*February 13: Book Group
(Two more are being scheduled for April and May)

I love coming to books groups in person or virtually, listening to the always fascinating discussion about my book, and of course answering any questions and/or discussing themes. It’s a win/win. I sell books and the group gets to meet the author! 
IF YOU ARE IN A BOOK GROUP, ASK YOUR GROUP TO CHOOSE THE MAN WITH EIGHT PAIRS OF LEGS  &  INVITE ME! My collection was selected by the National Women’s Book Association as a Great Group Read, which might inspire your book group to read it!
*February 7-10: AWP (Associated Writing Programs)
Annual Conference in Kansas City
Two events: 
1) Book signing at the Sarabande Booth 
2) Possible reading with other Sarabande poets and authors

Plus, a keynote from poet Jericho Brown, time to make merry with my Sarabande compadres, and literally over 300 panels and readings to choose from with more diversity of voices than any other place on earth!
Plus, I lived in Illinois for six years; my father grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska; and my paternal grandmother grew up in Missouri. I am looking forward to reconnecting with my Midwest roots!
*February 15-18: San Francisco Writers Conference
Two events:
1) I will represent Literary Fiction on a multi-genre panel about publishing
2) I will teach a Master Class: The Dynamic Power of Language (+ Heart): How to Get Your Manuscript to Light Up in the Slush Pile in the First Paragraph
*UPDATE ON FREE RADICALS – my second story collection:
With you as my witness, my goal is to have a strong draft of 8-10 stories by this summer. Some short. Some long. One, at 25,000 words, is a novella! I am 70% there! 
To whet your appetite, here are some of the story titles: “Toltec on Haight,” “Astral,” “Memory Palace,” “Am I Talking Too Fast for You?,” “Motherlode,” and “Dinner with a Mortician.” 
I often physically go to where my characters go and do what they do as a way into their stories. “Memory Palace” took me to a tiny town in Texas this past spring. “Agor y FFordd” got me on a Greyhound bus from NYC to Chicago and “Toltec on Haight” flew me to Mexico City in 2019. I’ll be in Death Valley the second week of January 2024 for the New Moon, gazing at the stars in one of the darkest places on Earth as Eliot Langmore, the beleaguered, astrophysicist who is the protagonist of “Astral.”  My stories have a way of getting me out of the house!!